THE LAND

THE landed property of England covers 72,000,000 acres. It is worth ten thousand millions of dollars, and yields an annual rent, independent of mines, of three hundred and thirty millions. One-fourth of this territory, exclusive of that held by the owners of less than an acre, is in the hands of 1,200 proprietors, and a second fourth is owned by 6,200 others; so that half of the entire country is held by 7,400 individuals. The population is 34,000,000. The peers, not six hundred in number, own more than one-fifth of the kingdom ; they possess 14,000,000 acres of land, worth two thousand millions of dollars, with an annual rental of $66,000,000.

Next to Belgium, England is the most thickly populated country in the world, but the Duke of Devonshire has one estate of 83,000 acres and another of 11,000 ; the Duke of Bedford one of 33,000; the Duke of Portland owns 53,000 acres, the Duke of Northumberland 181,000, and in every county there are properties ranging from 10,000 to 30,000 acres in the possession of the lords. Seven persons own one-seventh of Buckinghamshire, which has a population of 175,000 and an acreage of 450,000. Cambridge has a population of 149,000, and five persons own one-ninth of the land and receive one- thirteenth of the rental. In Cheshire the population is 561,000, and sixteen persons own two-sev-enths of the land, which is 602,000 acres in extent. In Ireland the situation is similar. In the province of Munster eleven persons own one-eleventh of the land. In Ulster, a noble marquis, the grandson of George lV's mistress, owns 122,300 acres; the natural son of another marquis, who was probably the worst Englishman that ever lived, owns 58,000, and still another marquis, married to a woman of the town now living, owns 34,000. In Connaught two persons own 274,000 acres, and besides these Viscount Dillon holds 83,000 and the Earl of Lucan 60,000. Lord Fitzwilliam has an estate of 89,000 acres, the Duke of Leinster one of 67,000, Lord Kenmare one of 91,000 and another of 22,000, Lord Bantry one of 69,000, Lord Landsdowne one of 91,000, another of 13,000, and another of 9,000; Lord Downshire one of 26,000, one of 15,000, and another of 64,000 ; Lord Leitrim three of 54,000, 22,000, and 18,000 respectively. The Duke of Devonshire, in addition to his enormous English properties, has one Irish estate of 32,000 acres and another of 27,000. His eldest son is the Marquis of Hartington, recently the leader of the Liberal party in England, but his lordship was unable to follow Mr. Gladstone in his endeavors to bring peace and prosperity to Ireland. Like the young man in Scripture, he went away sorrowing, "for he had great possessions."

Scotland, however, is the paradise of the peers. The county of Sutherland contains 1,299,253 acres, of which the Duke of Sutherland owns 1,176,343. The population of the county is 24,317 souls. Six other potentates hold over 100,000 acres among them, leaving exactly 5,295 acres for the remaining 24,310 inhabitants. There, are, however, only 85 of these with more than an acre apiece.

Among the other great proprietors in Scotland are the Duchess of Sutherland, who owns an estate of 149,000 acres in her own right, and the Earl of Fife, who has one of 140,000, another of 72,000, and another of 40,000. The Duke of Eichmond has one of 155,000 and another of 69,000; the Earl of Seafield (the head of the Grants), one of 96,000, one of 48,000, and one of 16,000 ; the Earl of Bread- albane owns 193,000 and 179,000 acres; the Duke of Hamilton, 102,000 and 45,000; the Duke of Buccleugh, 253,000, 104,000, and 60,000. The Duke of Argyll is comparatively poor; he owns only 168,000 acres, while the Queen's estate of Balmoral is a modest little property of 25,000 acres. In Inverness-shire twenty men own 2,000,000 acres among them, and in Aberdeenshire twenty-three "lords and gentlemen" own more than half the county, though the population is 244,000. The greater part of all this territory is devoted to the sports of the aristocracy, for whom Scotland is only one great playground.

Three-fourths of these noble landlords inherit their estates either from grasping robbers of the Norman type or Cromwellian conquest, or from women who sold their beauty and their virtue to kings or panders, or from politicians of the stamp of Aaron Burr or Alderman Jaehne. Walpole and Pitt were the most lavish distributors of coronets England ever had, and one of these notoriously bought with money and titles the very Irish Union which is certain soon to be dissolved, while the other was the author of the famous maxim in English politics, "Every man has his price."

The great landowners themselves seldom cultivate more than a little piece of soil, sufficient for the requirements of a single establishment. The arable and pasture land of the kingdom is let out to 1,160,000 tenant farmers, 70 per cent, of whom hold less than 50 acres each, 12 per cent, between 50 and 100 acres, and only 18 per cent, more than 100 acres apiece. In all the kingdom only 600 farms; exceed 1,000 acres in extent. Many of the farmers are little better off than their own laborers, but in the aggregate they employ a capital of $2,000,000,000. With the laborers they constitute one-tenth of the working population of the country.

The laborers have no capital but the furniture of their dwellings, unless the strength of their bodies and the hard experience of toil may be considered capital. Their wages are insufficient to maintain them, and the consequence is there are a million of paupers to be supported by the State. They have, of course, no independence, and are in reality serfs of the soil. They rarely leave the parish in which they were born; until recently, if they did so they forfeited the right to relief when destitute, or to the almshouse, which every peasant looks to as the end of his laborious life. They never save; they have insufficient food ; in many parts of the country their stature is dwarfish, their gait slow and sluggish, like their minds. They have no education ; their only pleasure is drink. Above all, they have no possibility of bettering themselves. But it is upon their poverty, degradation, and misery that the grandeur and luxury of the aristocracy are founded. One is the direct cause of the other.

In 1880 the average wages of the agricultural laborer, the man who worked the two thousand million acres of land and produced the three hundred and thirty millions of revenue, was fourteen English shillings a week, or about fifty cents a day. Out of this he had to pay his rent to the earl or the duke, which was two English shillings, or fifty cents, a week. Bread was three cents a pound, meat eighteen cents, and butter one shilling and eight pence, about forty cents. So his fifty cents a day would not buy many pounds of meat or butter, if the family was large. For there were shoes to be got for all, clothes, fuel, lights, as well as food, all out of fourteen shillings a week, and in sight of the castle of my lord, who was rich solely because the hind was poor.

The ordinary cottage of the English laborer has but two rooms, and when the married man has a family of nearly or quite grown sons and daughters they often all sleep in one room, and not unfrequently in the same bed. The great majority of cottages are wretchedly built, often on very unhealthy sites, miserably small, very low, badly drained, and they scarcely ever have a cellar or a space under the roof above the room on the lower floor. They are fit abodes for a peasantry pauperized and demoralized by the utter helplessness of their condition.

The first summer that I spent in England I visited two splendid mansions in the south whose owners were earls. One of these showed me a hall in his castle that was restored in the time of Henry V, and the other was of the family of that Count Robert of Paris who sat for an hour on the throne of Constantinople. Both of these nobles were personally estimable, and even religious men, who undoubtedly supposed they were doing their duty in that state of life to which it had pleased God to call them. I knew of exalted and beautiful traits in the character of each that would extort the admiration of honorable men everywhere.

While I was visiting them, I attended the meetings of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, held in a neighboring town. Large parties went in each day from the palatial and luxurious abodes of the nobility, to be present at the sessions, at which an earl presided; and nearly a score of high-placed proprietors attended what interested me most of all, the sittings of the Department of Political and Social Economy. The magnates were engaged for several days discussing the condition of the English poor. I heard viscounts and baronets and bishops and earls lamenting the misery and depravity, the poverty and low wages of the wretches who lived on their estates. I heard them admit that in their part of the country a shilling a day was often the wages of a strong, healthy man, who had a wife and six or seven children to support, out of which, I heard them say, at least a shilling a week was deducted for rent. I heard that whole families occupied a single bedroom. I heard of the ignorance and stolidity, often the brutality, of the English peasants, of whom there are several millions.

Not all are in this extreme condition, but all are degraded and demoralized ; and I have heard English noblemen declare that, as a class, they are more brutish that was the word than any other peasantry in the world. The worst things I have told are neither exceptional nor rare. I went back to the stately halls, where forty or fifty guests were feasted each night off of silver, and where the very servants were ten times better fed and clad and housed than the best off of the lower class outside; where the poor crowded around the charitable kitchen gate, literally glad to feed on the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table; and I wondered what would be the end and how long it would be deferred of the aristocracy of England. [As Written]

Aristocracy In England by Adam Badeau - New York Harper & Brothers, Franklin Square 1886, Copyright, 1885, 1886 div




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