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shall then clearly perceive that all those propensities and passions that under bad conditions of society inevitably led to it, will under good conditions add to the variety and the capacities of human nature, the enjoyment of life by all, and at the same time greatly increase the possibilities of development of the whole race. I myself feel confident that this is really the case, and that such considerations, when followed out to their ultimate issues, afford a complete solution of the great problem of the ages—the origin of evil.
The last letter I had from Mill was in April, 1871, when a great public meeting of the Association was to be held on May 3, as to which he said, " It would be very useful to the Association, and a great pleasure to myself, if you would consent to be one of the speakers at the meeting. There is the more reason why you should do so, as you are the author of one very valuable article of the programme. Were you to explain and defend that article, it would be a service which no one is so well qualified to render as yourself.” I had then recently visited the stone circles and bridges of Dartmoor, and also Stonehenge, and urged the importance of preserving them. At that time there would probably have been no question of paying more than the actual selling value of the land, and we should have been spared the disgrace of having our grandest ancient monument, after centuries of neglect and deterioration, claimed to be private property, and having an exorbitant price demanded for it. But Mill's death soon afterwards put an end to the association, and we had to wait many years for the present very imperfect legislation on the subject.
The question of land nationalization continued at intervals to occupy my mind, but having become strongly impressed by the teachings of Spencer, Mill, and other writers as to the necessity for restricting rather than extending State agency, and by their constant reference to the inevitable jobbery and favouritism that would result from placing the management of the whole land of the country in the hands of the executive, that I did not attempt to
write further upon the subject. But when the topic of Irish landlordism became very prominent in the year 1879-80, an idea occurred to me which seemed to entirely obviate all the practical difficulties which were constantly adduced as insuperable, and I at once took the opportunity of the controversy on the question to set forth my views in some detail. I did this especially because the Irish Land League proposed that the Government should buy out the Irish landlords, and convert their existing tenants into peasantproprietors, who were to redeem their holdings by payments extending over thirty-five years. This seemed to me to be unsound in principle, and entirely useless except as a temporary expedient, since it would leave the whole land of Ireland in the possession of a privileged class, and would thus disinherit all the rest of the population from their native soil.
In my essay I based my whole argument upon a great principle of equity as regards the right of succession to landed property, a principle which I have since further extended to all property. But the suggestion which rendered land nationalization practicable was, that while, under certain conditions stated, all land would gradually revert to the State, what is termed in Ireland the tenant-right, and in England the improvements, or increased value given to the land by the owner or his predecessors, such as buildings, drains, plantations, etc., would remain his property, and be paid for by the new state-tenants at a fair valuation. The selling value of land was thus divided into two parts: the inherent value or ground-rent value, which is quite independent of any expenditure by owners, but is due solely to nature and society; and the improvements, which are due solely to expenditure by the owners or occupiers, and which are essentially temporary in nature. My experience in surveying and land-valuation assured me that these two values can be easily separated. It follows that land as owned by the State would need no "management” whatever, the rent being merely a ground-rent, which could be collected
See my“Studies, Scientific and Social,” vol. ii. chap. xxviii.
just as the house-tax and the land-tax are collected, the statetenant being left as completely free as is the “freeholder" now (who is in law a state-tenant), or as are the holders of perpetual feus in Scotland.
This article appeared in the Contemporary Review of November, 1880, and it immediately attracted the attention of Mr. A. C. Swinton, Dr. G. B. Clark, Mr. Roland Estcourt, and a few others, who had long been seeking a mode of applying Herbert Spencer's great principle of the inequity of private property in land, and who found it in the suggestions and principles I had laid down. They accordingly communicated with me; several meetings were held at the invitation of Mr. Swinton, who was the initiator of the movement, and after much discussion as to a definite programme, the “Land Nationalization Society” was formed, and, much against my wishes, I was chosen to be president. Notwithstanding the scanty means of the majority of the founders and members, the society has struggled on for a quarter of a century. Its lecturers and its yellow vans have pervaded the country, and it has effected the great work of convincing the highest and best-organized among the manual workers as represented by their Trades Unions, that the abolition of land-monopoly, which is the necessary result of its private ownership, is at the very root of all social reform. Hence the future is with them and us, and though the capitalists and the official Liberals are still against us, we wait patiently, and continue to educate the masses in the certainty of a future and not distant success.
Although Herbert Spencer was the first eminent Englishman of science to establish the doctrine of land nationalization upon the firm basis of social justice, he had several forerunners who saw the principle as clearly as he did, declared it as boldly, but, being far in advance of their age, were treated with scorn, persecution, or neglect. The earliest was Thomas Spence, a poor schoolmaster of Newcastle-on-Tyne, who in 1775 delivered a lecture before the Philosophical Society of that town, for which he was immediately expelled
from the society, and soon after obliged to leave the town. This lecture was reprinted by Mr. H. M. Hyndham in 1882, and a single sentence will indicate its scope and purpose :
“Hence it is plain that the land or earth, in any country or neighbourhood, belongs at all times to the living inhabitants of the said country or neighbourhood in an equal manner. For, as I said before, there is no living but on land and its productions, consequently what we cannot live without we have the same property in as our lives.”
Spence further opposed centralized government as much as any individualist of our day, and advocated a system of free communal home-rule, every parish owning its own land and managing its own affairs.
A few years later, in 1782, Professor Ogilvie published anonymously, “ An Essay on the Right of Property in Land” (a volume of 120 pages). He lays down the principle that no right to property in land can justly arise except through occupancy and labour upon it, and even this must be limited by the equal rights of every other individual. And after discussing the various laws and circumstances of modern civilized communities, he shows how the laws can be amended so as to bring about a just distribution of land. This is a thoughtful, well-reasoned, and clearly written work, yet it remained almost unknown to successive generations of reformers.
A few years later than H. Spencer (in 1856), but apparently quite independently of him, a very remarkable work was published in London, under the title “On the Evils, Impolicy, and Anomaly of Individuals being Landlords and Nations Tenants," by Robert Dick, M.D. This was a very comprehensive work, anticipating the main thesis of Henry George, as shown by the following passage from the introductory chapter : “My design, in short, is to show that wealth, accumulated in individuals and classes, necessarily implies poverty elsewhere, in like manner as exemption from labour by some men and classes, of necessity implies double, treble, quadruple labour in others." He then lays down a number of fundamental propositions, which are so brief, clear, and VOL. II.
forcible, and go so directly to the root of all those social problems which demand solution to-day even more peremptorily than they did a century ago, that I will give the more important of them here
“Prop. I. The use of earth in the form of food is equally necessary for human life as the use of air—the privation of one kills in a few minutes, of the other in a few days or weeks."
“ Prop. II. Hence the man who controls land, controls human life-excluding life that might be, holding at his mercy
life that is.” “ Prop. III. As God made a free gift to each man of life, He equally intended for a free gift the necessary condition of life-a portion of the soil.”
" Prop. V. Hence a portion of the soil is each man's congenital and inalienable patrimony."
“ Prop. VII. The nationalizing of the soil should have been the primary, the fundamental step in human association.”
“ Prop. X. The culture of a portion of the soil (as a man's own) has this advantage over all other labour, that it gives him directly, and at first cost, those very necessaries which he is obliged, indirectly, to seek, in manufactures, trade, and commerce, namely, home, food, fuel, etc., all which must otherwise be purchased at more than natural cost in labour or money."
Prop. XIII. It is out of the pauper and floating masses who have been separated from the land, and have consequently no option between starvation and selling their labour unconditionally, that capital is originally formed, and is, thereafter, enabled absolutely to dictate to the very labour that creates it, and to defraud that labour of those surplusses which ought to remain wholly with the latter."
In these two last propositions is comprised the whole philosophy of social reform, the last anticipating the main thesis of Marx. And to show how well this fine writer and thinker appreciated the more human, esthetic, and ennobling aspects of the question, I will give one more short quotation, on the overcrowding and housing questions, still talked about