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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 36.djvu/523

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LETTERS ON THE LAND QUESTION.

This ceremony, which is one of the most important of those her Majesty has to perform during the year, is a great incentive to the silk-raising population, who can not neglect their own work when they see their sovereign occupied in the same way. An old proverb says that "an idle farmer causes two persons to die of hunger, and a woman who will not weave will see ten dying of cold." The proverb illustrates the value of encouragement, and shows that silk-worm raising and weaving are duties of the women.—Translated for the Popular Science Monthly from La Nature.

 

LETTERS ON THE LAND QUESTION.

[Continued.]

By Prof. HUXLEY, HEEBERT SPENCER, AUBERON HERBERT, FREDERICK GREENWOOD, and DARCY WILSON.
PROF. HUXLEY'S SECOND LETTER.

To the Editor of "The Times":

SIR: After a careful perusal of Mr. Spencer's letter in "The Times" of to-day, I fear I can only reiterate my declaration that he "has not helped us much." So far as anything said in that letter goes, it remains an open question whether Mr. Spencer agrees, in principle, with Mr. Morley's "hecklers" or whether he does not. If any one maintains that private ownership in land was originally set up by force or by fraud, and consequently has no ethical foundation, I think, as matters stand, he has a right to cite Mr. Spencer's authority in favor of that position; and I, for one, very much regret that any person should possess that right. It seems to me lamentable that the "absolute political ethics" of to-day should have got so very little further than the point reached by Rousseau, the absolute political philosopher of one hundred and thirty years ago, who tells us that—

Le premier qui ayant enclos un terrain s'avisa de dire Ceci est à moi, et trouva des gens assez simples pour le croire, fut le vrai fondateur de la société civile.[1]

Rousseau laments that there was no one to pull out the stakes and fill up the ditch of this primitive land-grabber; and to warn mankind that "the fruits of the earth are everybody's and the land nobody's."

These passages are cited from the famous "Discours sur l'Origine de l'Inégalité parmi les Hommes," published in 1754, in which I think will be found, implicitly or explicitly, all the propositions

  1. [The first one who, having inclosed a field, took it into his head to say "This is mine," and found people simple enough to believe it, was the true founder of civil society.]