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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 29.djvu/485

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GENIUS AND PRECOCITY.

merely to exchange rent for an equal financial burden of interest, yet, as events have proved, their bargains, though good, have been less profitable than was anticipated. Since 1875 the vast areas in the far West and Northwest brought under cultivation have greatly reduced the prices of farm produce, and have at the same time powerfully attracted the emigrating classes of the Atlantic seaboard.

Rhetoric, in so far as it prophesied a wonderful impetus to the island when leaseholds gave place to freeholds, has somewhat missed fulfillment. Unthrifty farmers were not born again to thriftiness by the act of 1875. The money-lender has taken the place of the land-lord with a good many of them. His terms are not so easy, nor his methods so gentle, and already about a fourth of the farms of the island are mortgaged at rates of interest averaging about seven and a half per cent. A single solicitor in Charlottetown has stowed in his vault mortgages to the amount of half a million dollars, held chiefly by widows and orphans, whose claims, unlike those of the wealthy proprietors, are exigent and must be promptly met.

The lesson from the history of land-proprietorship in Prince Edward Island is applicable to a wider field than the little Canadian province. It marks the unwisdom of governments in granting large tracts to corporations or individuals on nominal terms. With the lapse of years, if holdings are retained by their original grantees, the rise in value is enormous, and a community which has chiefly created that value resents the levy of "unearned increment." The agitation in Prince Edward Island also illustrates how the wide franchises of democracy modify the violence of combats concerning questions of property. Even though the mistakes of the Old World be some-times repeated in the New, though unwarrantable privileges be created or acquired, the people possess a power in the ballot-box which renders unnecessary those appeals to the cartridge-box which so often accompany transatlantic agitation. Perhaps, when English Hodge awakens to his new influence as a voter, laws partly of his making may take the color of his interests, and English landed property may be further shorn of privilege. Beyond that may also be exerted the sinister influence against contract to which law-makers with little property, or none, are ever strongly tempted.

 

GENIUS AND PRECOCITY.
By JAMES SULLY.
I.

THE idea that genius reveals itself early in life does not at once recommend itself to common sense. Observation of Nature as a whole suggests, first of all, perhaps that her choicer and more costly gifts are the result of a long process of preparation. And, however