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those of two or three first-rate astronomers who may be biassed by personal equations. Or again, to take another scientific simile, who could have predicted that the erratic movements of innumerable atoms of a gas, rushing about and colliding in all imaginable ways, would have resulted in an uniform temperature and pressure? And yet such is the case, and the kinetic the ory of gases is an established fact.
I invoke his own principle that "the proof of the pudding is in the eating"; or, in more magniloquent language, that the survival of the fittest is the best test of fitness, and I apply it to the facts of past and of contemporary history.
Aristocracy has, undoubtedly, had great advantages in the past, and has so still in countries where militarism, or the condition of frequent wars and constant preparation for wars, is the first necessity of national existence. I confine myself to English speaking States; the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australasia. Can it be said that the patent fact of the age, the decay of the principle of Aristocracy and the progress of Democracy, has been a failure as regards those conntries ?
If Professor Huxley thinks so, I venture to differ from him. I admit, to the fullest extent, his superiority in scientific attainments and in literary ability, but in this particular class of questions I have the advantage over him of being a Specialist. I have had a very long and very close training, in the House of Cominons, at the Treasury and Board of Trade, as Finance Minister of India, and as the head of great railway and commercial companies, in the great questions of the day which come within the definition of practical politics. And it is a study of contemporary facts, aided by this training, which has led me to reverse the course commonly attributed to age and riper experience, and with advancing years to become more Democratic.
I will refer first to the United States, for here the problem of Democracy has been tried on the largest scale and to the fullest extent. Prior to the great war and the presidency of Abraham Lincoln, the selections of the captains and officers to navigate the American State had been made, for many years, practically by a select aristocracy, the Southern planters. Since then the "loblolly-boys," as I suppose the Professor would call them-that
is, the great democratic mass of the com-' munity on the one man one vote principle have had it all their own way. What has been the result? Nothing has impressed me more than the exceeding wisdom and sobriety with which all really important matters have been dealt with by this democratic community. Take the most important act of their political life, the triennial election of Presidents. They have elected an uninterrupted succession of highly fit men; in some cases, like that of Lincoln, their greatest man; in all, men of high character and sound judgment, untainted by any suspicion of loose morality, or of extravagant demagogism -men who were fair, or rather excellent representatives of the best traits of the national character. These Presidents have selected Ministers of whom it may be said, without exaggeration, that they are quite up to the average standard of Cabinet Ministers of any European country. Take the management of foreign affairs, which is perhaps the best test of wise statesmanship, and that in which the opponents of democracy have predicted the worst consequences from the transfer of political power from the classes to the masses. That of the United States has been uniformly wise and successful. Filibustering has become extinct; temptations to annex territory in Cuba and Mexico have been resisted; the Monroe doctrine has been upheld, and France compelled to retire from Mexico without firing a shot; differences with European States, as with England about the Alabama claims, and with Germany about Samoa, have been settled temperately and honorably. In no single case can it be said that the foreign policy and diplomacy of the United States have been unwise or have met with a rebuff.
And in great domestic questions, where demagogic incitements were not wanting, the same wise and provident policy has been equally conspicuous.
At the conclusion of the war, the nation found itself loaded with an enormous debt and an inflated currency. Most of this debt had been incurred in paper, depreciated far below its gold value. Surely here was a case, if ever, where the "loblolly-boys" and common sailors might have been expected to listen to the seductions of demagogues, who were not wanting, telling them that they ought not to submit to excessive taxation, in order to
pay in full in gold, the cormorant capital ists who had advanced their loans in paper. But no! the maxim that "honesty is the best policy" was so engrained in the nature of the American masses, that they submitted cheerfully to a load of taxation, which converted the United States from one of the cheapest into one of the dearest countries in the world, and the demagogues, instead of riding into power on popular prejudice, found themselves simply ostracized from public life.
Those who wish to pursue the subject further, and to understand the real effect of democratic institutions on social life, will do well to study one of the most admirable books of recent times, Professor Bryce's work on the "American Commonwealth." Space forbids my pursuing the subject further, and it is sufficient to say, that I challenge any dispassionate observer to say that democracy has been a failure in America; and what is true of America is equally true, on a smaller scale, in all English-speaking colonies, with self-government, representative institutions, and a wide franchise.
Turning to our own country, the situation is more complex. The political education of the masses can only be said to have begun in the present generation, with Board schools, a cheap Press, and the extension of the franchise. On the other hand, the principle of aristocracy is not merely hereditary, but is reinforced by the numerous class who have risen to wealth; by the social influences radiating from the Queen on the throne down to the wife of a retired tradesman living in an Acacia or Beaconsfield Villa; by powerful professional and monopolist interests, such as the Law, the Church, and the publicans, which are either manned by members of the upper class or have grown up under its shelter; and by the conservative instincts which have made Englishmen as a rule slow to move and suspicious of novel. ties. Still there remains a large number of facts from which an approximate induction can be drawn. Take, first, the question of foreign policy. Here, certainly, if the " loblolly-boy" theory has any force, the superior wisdom of the Classes over that of the Masses ought to be most apparent. If an aristocracy has any raison d'être in times of peace, it surely ought to be in keeping alive sound traditions, and taking sensible views of our relations
with foreign powers, and of the true and permanent interests of the empire as distinguished from temporary ebullitions of sentiment and prejudice. Has it been so? In my own experience, ranging over the best part of 50 years, the chief features of the policy and feelings of the "Classes" have been :
1. Sympathy with Louis Napoleon, and the entente cordiale with the French Empire landing us in the Crimean war.
2. Sympathy with the Southern States in the war of the Union.
3. Sympathy with Turkey and an exaggerated Russo-phobia, leading to a policy alike cynical and stupid, of trying to bolster up the decay of the decrepit empire of the Sultan at the expense of the Christian populations struggling for their inevitable enfranchisement.
4. Sympathy with Austria in her wars to prevent the creation of an united Italy and of a great Germany.
5. Violent indignation at the settlement of the Alabama claims by arbitration.
6. Successive Afghan wars undertaken in defiance of common sense and of the remonstrances of the leading authorities, like Lord Lawrence, who were practically acquainted with Indian affairs.
7. A Colonial policy of treating Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa, as dependencies of Downing Street, by which our Colonial Empire would have been infallibly lost to us but for the tardy application of democratic principles.
Many more instances might be mentioned, but these are sufficient to show that, in point of fact, the "classes" have signally failed to make good their claim to be a real "Aristocracy," that is a Government of the best and wisest, and that in the very field where, if anywhere, their superiority ought to have been most clearly manifested.
If we turn to domestic affairs it is still more clear that the "classes" have not shown that superiority in political wisdom which is claimed for them over the masses. It would be difficult to name one of the great and beneficial reforms of the last 60 years which could have been carried if the upper classes of society, represented by the hereditary aristocratic House of Lords, had been able to give effect to their opinions and wishes.
The Reform Bills, the Extensions of the Franchise and of Education, Free
Trade, the Repeal of the Corn Laws, the Disestablishment of the Irish Church, the Irish Land Acts, would all have been rejected, and it is not too much to say that, if the navigation of the ship of State had been intrusted to the select few, it would long ago have been among breakers, and instead of Reform we should have had Revolution.
If we inquire the reason, it will be found in the fact that the so-called aris tocracy has ceased to be what its name purports a selection of the best of the nation. Militarism, or a state of frequent great wars, or apprehension of wars, requiring a system of military organization, is the condition under which alone an hereditary aristocracy can maintain their position as natural leaders. When I read of the noblemen who come to grief in the betting-ring and in divorce-courts, I often think how different would have been their career if they had been born in Germany instead of England. The stuff is there the physical courage, the high spirit, the feeling that noblesse oblige-but how different has been the training. In the one case, duty, discipline, and the stern realities of the battle-field; in the other, the enervating influences of luxury and idleness. Compare the House of Commons, the crew selected by the nation, including, if you like, the cooks and loblollyboys, with the House of Lords, the crew selected by hereditary succession, and recruited only from the upper classes. Any one who has stood a contested election must be aware, that in a great and increasing majority of cases, no one has a chance of being returned to the popular Asscmbly, who has not a good deal of the experience and qualities which make for statesmanship. He must be a fairly good speaker, well up in all the political and social questions of the day, with command of temper to stand heckling, of independent means, and of fair position and moral character. He must have done something to make his name known as a man who has succeeded in life or who has shown marked ability. The House of Commons is recruited more and more every day by inen who, if some accident called them to be Cabinet Ministers and heads of great departments, would discharge the duties of their office very creditably. Men like Mr. W. H. Smith from trade, Mr. Goschen from the City, Mr. John Morley from
literature, Mr. H. Fowler from a solicitor's office, and scores of others who would do fairly well if they had the opportunity. Can the same be said of the House of Lords? Assuredly not! With a very few eminent exceptions, they do not even take a sufficient interest in politics to attend its sittings. And they are terribly biassed by what I have called the " sonal equation; they view things through the medium of West-end society, and the result is that nine-tenths of them are utterly out of sympathy with the public opinion and political views of a majority of their countrymen.
When an organ becomes useless in the course of evolution it is very apt to become injurious, and this, I think, may be said of the principle of hereditary aristocracy under existing conditions. The great mischief it does is in fostering the national defect of snobbishness. What is snobbishness? It is the tendency to bow down before a golden image, and worship rank and wealth rather than real merit. We hear loud complaints of this, the besetting sin of the age; but how can it be otherwise, when the fountain of honor flows in a channel the first condition of which is the possession of wealth sufficient to found a family, and keep up an hereditary title.
If there are to be honorary distinctions at all, surely those names ought to be enrolled in the list of British worthies who have been, by universal consent, foremost in doing honor to their age and countrynames like those of Darwin, Herbert Spencer, and Huxley in science; Dickens, Thackeray, and George Eliot in literature; Wordsworth, Shelley, and Browning in poetry; rather than men whose claim is opportune ratting, party services in contesting elections, excuses for excluding from Cabinets, in all cases with the condition of wealth, and, in many instances, with this obviously and obtrusively the sole qualification. Tennyson is the soli tary exception, and his case shows more forcibly the degradation of hereditary honors, for a painful thrill of surprise ran through most of his admirers on hearing that the greatest poet of the agc had condescended to accept a peerage.
There remains the bugbear of "Rousseauism." I call it a bugbear, for any one, who is practically acquainted with the House of Commons and the drift of
public opinion, must be aware that it is as far as possible from being within the sphere of practical politics. Take the case of the Irish Land Act and the Scottish Crofters Act, which are, I suppose, the high-water mark of what the members of the Liberty and Property Defence League would call Socialist legislation.
I doubt whether ten members of the House of Commons have ever read the "Contrat-Social," or whether a single one of those who voted for these Acts was influenced by a belief in the axiom that all men are born equal, and that all property is a robbery. On the contrary, the arguments which were used, and which prevailed, were identical with those which Professor Huxley himself puts forward with so much force in his article on Natural Rights and Political Rights." He says that "labor is the foundation of the claim to sound ownership," and instances the rude flint chipped into an axe by a palæolithic savage, and the green crop on the otherwise stony desert of Upper Egypt, which had been fertilized by the labor of the irrigator bringing to it the muddy water of the Nile. Property," he says, "consists in fact of two elements; the soil or other raw material, and the labor applied to it.'
Now the Irish question was this: that in a vast majority of small holdings, under £10 a year, comprising half the population of Ireland, and to a considerable extent in larger holdings, the landlord had contributed nothing but poor, rocky, and boggy soil, worth certainly on the average not half-a-crown an acre, and often not worth sixpence of annual rent, while the tenant had built the houses, drained, fenced, and reclaimed the land, and made all the improvements, which had created a property worth say 15s. or 20s. an acre. Was the law just which entitled the landlord to take the whole or the greater part of this 15s. or 20s, and to leave the other partners who had created fully threefourths of the value, nothing but a bare subsistence in a condition of poverty unmatched in any other civilized country, and often not even that, for the rent was paid not from the land, but from extraneous sources such as harvest labor in England, and remittances from sons and daughters in America? That, in a nutshell, is the Irish Land Question.
And was it right or wise for the English
nation to throw the whole weight of the Government, the law, the army, the police, and the whole system of evictions and Coercion, into the scale of the landlords to perpetuate this state of things, with the certainty of so exasperating the feeling of an intelligent nationality whom you have educated, and to whom you have given equal political rights, as to make Ireland a source of weakness rather than of strength to the Empire, and compel you, in case of war, to lock up a fourth of your available military strength in order to keep it in subjection?
That, in a nutshell, is the question of Home Rule.
These views may be right or wrong, but assuredly they are based on something quite different from the abstract axioms of Rousseau.
So far from denouncing all property as a robbery, we aim at recognizing it by restoring to those who, on Professor Huxley's own principles, are the chief owners, some moderate share at any rate of that of which they have been robbed by unjust legislation.
But then it is said that you are violating the principle of the sanctity of contract which is the main object of the State to enforce, and which is the foundation of all civilized society. Here again we reply:-No, we are seeking to strengthen the principle of contract by making it a reality, and not a legal fiction. Even the English Law, harsh as it is in siding with the rich against the poor, the strong against the weak, admits that contract is only valid where the contracting parties are free and meet on equal terms, and not under irresistible compulsion. It does not hold in the case of minors, married women, or where undue and irresistible influence can be established. Now in the case of Irish and Scotch Crofters, Commission after Commission has established the fact that there was no real freedom of contract between landlord and tenant. Eviction is in effect what it has been so often called -a sentence of death.
There is so little independent employment for labor, that the cottier, if he is aged, infirm, or burdened with a family, has no alternative but to pay, or promise to pay, an impossible rent, or to turn out and die in a ditch. Even now, after the passing of the Land Act, such is his fate in the poorer half of Ireland, unless he can
pay the arrears of what are admitted to be unjust rents. In Scotland it is different. There arrears of unjust rents are held to be unjust, and the Land Commission reduces them accordingly.
What first opened my eyes, more than 20 years ago, to the realities of the Irish question, was a conversation I had with an Irish laborer, whom I found trenching a piece of mountain land on the banks of the Lakes of Killarney. He told me that he was working for a farmer, that his wages were eighteenpence a day, but that he only got work on the average for 90 days in the year. I have since visited most of the poorer parts of Ireland and cross-examined innumerable laborers and cotters, and have found this statement confirmed, or rather aggravated, in the remoter districts. Take the case of Gweedore, where I once spent a month. I am certain that in an area of 20 miles round the scene of the recent lamentable events, with a population of 3,000 or 4,000, there is not employment at day's wages for 50 or 60 independent laborers. In the notorious Falcarragh estate, it has been stated in open court, and the figures have never been contradicted, that the ancestors of the present proprietor bought it originally for something like £500; that the landlords have never expended a shilling on improvements, and that the rental before the passing of the Land Act was £2,500 a year, and is still nominally from £1,500 to £2,000. Am I Rousseauist, if I say that this is indeed robbery, but robbery not by the tenant on the landlord, but by the landlord on the tenant?
To turn, however, from Ireland, whose burning questions of party and politica! interests obscure the view, what are the general questions respecting the rights and duties of property, and especially of landed property, which are within the sphere of practical politics? They are all questions of finance and of figures. Even Henry George, when he comes to the practical application of his able and ingenious, but often extreme and impracticable theories, confines them to the special case of land, and limits his practical demand to a transfer to it of the larger share of national taxation. This is a question, more or less, of compromise and practical adjustment, rather than of abstract theory. The principle is already admitted, by the income tax and succession duties, that property
ought to pay something toward the support of the State, that is, for the common good; the question is whether it pays enough, and whether it is levied on the right sorts of property.
Here in England, apart from all questions of Ireland, there is a general and growing opinion that past legislation has not sufficiently kept in view the great and fundamental distinction between earned and unearned property.
The former, whether in land or personalty, is a natural, the latter an artificial, right. That it is artificial is clearly proved by the fact that it is different in different ages and countries. England is the solitary exception in which the right of property has been strained so high as to carry with it the absolute right of the owner not only to do what he likes with his own, with what he has made by his own exertions and during his own life, but to do what he likes with it after his death. A millionaire may, if he likes, disinherit his family, and leave his widow and children to be supported by the ratepayers. To a certain extent this is mitigated by settlements, but even these leave the first owner the power of tying up his estate as he likes for a long period, and the theory of the English law is that the absolute right of ownership persists after death. But this is an exceptional law; in the Roman law, and in the laws of France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, and other civilized nations, and even in such an integral part of our own empire as Scotland no such theory prevails. On the contrary, the unlimited power ceases with life, and the disposal of property after the owner's death, is not left to him, but to the operation of law, by which the bulk of it goes to provide for the family.
Clearly the devolution of all property to those who have done nothing to earn it beyond, as the witty Frenchman says, "taking the trouble to be born," is an affair of laws, and the fortunate heirs may be expected to pay handsomely for the support of the law and order to which they are indebted for their windfall. This is a question not of abstract theory, but of the proper amount of succession duties, and of the incidence of the income-tax on the two descriptions of income, earned and unearned.
Then there is the case of the unearned increment. increment. To take a practical illustra