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original distinctness, every kind of genuine property is now mixed up with property in land. First of all, endless capital has been expended on improving, draining, mining, and building upon it, on the understanding that it formed a perfectly secure investment. Then money earned by personal exertion has been expended in its purchase. We have not to deal with original conquerors, or original grantees, but with every kind and degree of descendant, money purchaser, and mortgagee. We have to deal with complicated systems of railways, canals, towns, streets, mines, quarries, manufactories, and products of labour in all conceivable forms, inextricably mixed up with the raw land itself. The least threat held out against the future stability of the land system-such a threat as that involved in Mr. Forster's Bill, for example is really quite enough to make all thoughtful men hesitate and tremble. I would not for a moment attempt to explain away the reality of such a danger. Any measure which even remotely savours of revolution must be carefully guarded against in so complex a society as that in which we live. If a few sentences written above may have seemed in their abstractness and isolation to suggest the possibility or desirability of making a tabula rasa of our land laws at one fell swoop, I hope this paragraph will be accepted as putting the opinion intended in a truer form. The fact is, no Conservative can feel more deeply than many Liberals feel the enormous responsibility of making a first step towards an alteration of our land laws. And, say what we will, Mr. Forster's Bill does constitute such a first step. We may hope the matter will stop there; but when we once open the flood-gates ever so little, we shall need strong and steady hands to keep them from yielding inch by inch under constant and progressive pressure. That they must so yield, more or less, in the end, is indeed certain; and our object must be to let them open gently and gradually, without a sudden rush or overwhelming disaster.
On the other hand, Conservative as we may be by nature, we Liberals cannot avoid seeing that other side to the question, whose existence the Tory refuses to grant. The ownership of land is a mere convention. It is a convention sanctioned by immemorial usage, guaranteed by tacit or explicit agreement, bound up with every form of acquired or natural right; but it is a convention none the less. Opposed to it stands a native claim for justice, a claim which sometimes cannot be withstood. The necessities of the people may at times rise so high that the prescriptive titles and expectations of landowners must undergo some modification. When such a crisis arrives, all we can do is to balance the conflicting claims as evenly as possible to manage the best in our power for the landless, while making the most equitable allowance that we can for the natural expectations and just demands of the landlords. They must suffer undoubted hardship; but so do the peasantry under existing laws. Great as are the dangers attending such a declaration, we cannot at such times avoid laying down the general principle that so-called property in land is not fixed, absolute and inalienable, like property in the proNo. 609 (No. Cxxix. n. s.)
ducts of labour, but that it is liable to revision from time to time, if the necessities of the situation peremptorily demand such revision. Our business then must be to make the inevitable changes with the least possible damage to the public credit, and the least possible hardship to those whom we have taught to consider themselves as heirs to the soil. We must point out that land in all cases is liable to certain forcible appropriations, with just compensation to occupiers-as, for instance, in making roads or railways-and that it has never been regarded as property, even by the law itself, in the same personal sense in which the products of industry have been regarded as property. Above all, we must endeavour so to make whatever changes are necessary as to leave the public faith unshaken, and the public confidence in its own collective justice and honesty undiminished. It is hard so to harmonise conflicting claims, and at best we can but make a happy compromise; yet we shall be doing better in any case than if we left the gross injustice against the many unredressed, for fear of a lesser though still serious injustice against the few, placed by the fault of our ancestors in a false position, from which we find it impracticable wholly to rescue them. It is never possible to extricate oneself from a political difficulty in such a way as wholly to satisfy all the interests involved. If it were, there would be no difficulty at all. But the way to shipwreck our land system altogether is to resist all demands for needful reform till public indignation sweeps away the whole rotten fabric at once in a burst of revolutionary activity.
Every Liberal, then, must ultimately believe that land cannot be held in absolute property, but only in usufruct; that it is eminently undesirable recklessly to disturb its holding, when once firmly established; but that, where circumstances imperatively demand it, revision may fairly be made for the public good, due regard being had to all personal rights and just expectations of the holders. This is the point which we are now reaching in Britain. We feel that the land was not made for the benefit of a limited class, but that the whole people have an abstract right to share in it. We feel that great difficulties beset the recognition of this right. But we find that there are parts of the kingdom where practical steps are becoming, or have already become, absolutely necessary for enforcing some portion of it. Delay has there grown impracticable. A few years ago, it might have seemed that the question was one of mere speculative political economy; it has lately been forced upon our attention through altered circumstances as a problem of practical life. But while it was easy enough to reach the abstract conclusion, when we come to the actual solution, we find the necessity for caution oppressing our consciences at every turn.
Now, let us look aside a brief moment at the other and antithetical question, that of copyright.
Whatever a man can make, either out of wholly unappropriated raw material, or out of raw material which he has purchased from its
legal owner, is his own. If he takes a pebble from the sea-shore (I grant the pebble is stolen, but-de minimis), he may paint a picture on it, and the picture is his. If he buys a piece of canvas and similarly paints, the same thing is true. But, as a matter of fact, it is practically impossible to make anything without having recourse to appropriated raw material, which must be inherited or bought. Hence our land-owning system is now inextricably bound up with our whole lives. But there are differences in the extent to which each product depends for its value upon the raw material. A deal board depends upon it almost entirely; a painted picture very little. If a sculptor takes a piece of marble and carves from it an Apollo, the value of the stone is a mere nothing, and the value of the work expended is incalculable. Hence we may fairly say that property is really and naturally property in proportion as it owes little to the raw material and much to the labour bestowed upon it. A man who owns a coal mine is rich in virtue of his prescriptive title to a quantity of raw material which he did not himself produce; a man who paints Nausicaas' and 'Jersey Lilies' is rich in virtue of the beautiful handiwork with which his own fingers have enriched humanity.
Now no kind of property depends so little upon material, and so much upon the individual labour, as literary and artistic work. Therefore it is above all other work the property of its creator. He takes relatively worthless material, and he impresses upon it by his own genius, or skill, or industry, a great, sometimes an incalculable, worth. Many people imagine that copyright is less truly property than other kinds of property; it is in reality more truly so. It is more than anything else the pure product of a man's own work. "Vanity Fair,' or In Memoriam,' or the 'Huguenot Lover' owes its money worth not at all to the material, but wholly (when viewed as copyright), to the inventive genius of its creator. The paper and ink themselves are of no value; it is the idea which makes them marketable. And this money value of the idea clearly belongs to the producer. We have no more right to take it from him than we have a right to take the flint hatchet from its savage maker. Only the abstract nature of the property prevents us from recognising its real nature. If we were just we would make no special laws about copyright, and we would burden it with no oppressive conditions. Every citizen has a right to be protected by the community in the possession of his goods. He is taxed for this purpose to provide police and courts of justice. And no special or additional tax ought to be laid on him in order that other people may enjoy the fruits of his labour without paying him for it. If the State wishes for public libraries, it should buy books and pay for them (though I doubt the justice of so employing money raised by taxes), exactly as it buys and pays for its soldiers' accoutrements.
Above all, foreign communities ought not to disregard the natural right of authors and artists to property in their own works. An Englishman's watch, or house, or railway bonds are (more or less)
protected in America; but his book is not. Mr. Matthew Arnold, that opponent of anarchy, shocked and horrified me, and doubtless many others, some time since by promulgating the utterly anarchical theory that there is no such thing as a natural right to property at all; and therefore, said he, nothing more than a want of delicacy prevents the American people from recognising the merely sentimental claim of English authors. I confess such an ultra-communistic doctrine is to me nothing less than appalling. Those of us who believe that every man has a natural right to life, and liberty, and the free use of his limbs, cannot but believe that he has also a natural right to the products of his labour. Whoever kills him, or knocks him down, or takes from him the results of his toil, is wanting, not in delicacy merely, but in simple justice. His action is criminal, not indelicate. It seems to me just as absurd to talk about the indelicacy of stealing copyright as to talk about the impoliteness of assault and battery, the doubtful courtesy of the slave-trade, or the questionable good taste of murder. Law does not create right, it only attempts to discover it, well or ill; and it often goes wrong in the attempt. But we all recognise a justice which is above law, and our constant endeavour is to approximate nearer and nearer to it, so far as in us lies. Profoundly believing in such an eternal and immutable justice, as superior to all mere considerations of passing utility-a justice having its basis in universal organic laws-I cannot help believing also in the sacred rights of property, as something whose sacredness man has not created, and which he cannot justly abrogate. I find that sacredness attaching to all products of individual labour; I do not find it attaching to the appropriation of raw material by particular individuals to the exclusion of all others. And therefore I am compelled to differ as widely from Mr. Arnold on the one hand as I differ from my Tory barrister on the other. The State cannot create right, and the State cannot uncreate it. It may enforce the wrong; but wrong is no less wrong when a whole nation enforces it than when a single robber does so. Whatever else we may be, whether we are imperial, and conquering, and insolvent, and Asiatic, or Liberal, and peaceable, and wealthy, and English, let us at least be just. An ounce of justice is worth a hundred thousand square miles of vast and pauperised Indian empires.
AN AUTUMN IN THE CÔTE-D'OR.
HE first day of the shooting season, l'ouverture de la chasse, is a very great occasion in France, and varies according to the respective orders of the préfets. In the Côte-d'Or, the season opened last year a week later than in the Puy-de-Dôme, namely, on September 7.
Everyone sets off from the country on or before this day, some going to shoot the birds, others to eat them. My sporting friends had quitted Dijon the day before, but on arriving at the station I found it crowded from end to end; the weather was magnificent, brilliant sunshine in plenty and not too much breeze, whilst the soil was cooled with the storms of the day before. How suggestive of wealth and how pleasant is the landscape on all sides when we quit the station: the luxuriant waxen-green foliage of the vines, mingling with the mellow tints of the late autumnal crops, not yet garnered. Of this favoured region, as of Seine-et-Marne, I may say, that poverty, much less beggary, does not exist. In fact these village folks are rich, each and all, with rare exceptions, dwelling under his own vine and his own fig-tree. It will convey some slight notion of the easy circumstances of the peasant proprietors here, when I say that large numbers of them indulge in the luxury of a game-licence, costing forty francs. Our French neighbours have an ideal equality with which we insular aristocrats cannot be expected as yet to sympathise. Think of our country squires, and heads of country families, encountering their humble neighbours in the sporting field! The excessive competition is, however, trying to true lovers of sport; for whilst with ourselves, besides the shooting licence, a second permission is necessary from the owner of the soil, in France no such rule holds good, except where a gamekeeper is kept and game is preserved; and the natural consequence is, that every year the number of game licences is on the increase, and every year the sportsman finds less game. It is trying even to the amiable French mind to be foiled on your own land at every turn. The charge being low for the permis de chasse, these well-to-do peasant proprietors and vine-growers can afford the darling pastime of handling the gun. There are also great numbers of poachers; in fact, the number is so large, that, for the most part, no attempt is made to catch them. Under these circumstances, therefore, we ladies did not expect our sportsmen to return with laden game-bags, though early in the day prospects booked bright, and reports from the fields were encouraging. By eleven o'clock there were some dozen and odd quails in the hands of the cook, who immediately set to work to prepare them for the seven o'clock dinner. The quail, a prime morsel in itself, requires the greatest delicacy in the cooking. To give the proper flavour, the