Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/12

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personal attachment and loyalty which happily still exists between many of the great landowners and their tenantry, I, for one, see in it an element of the highest importance to the welfare of the farming interest. The well known aphorism, that property has its duties as well as its rights, is still conscientiously carried out in practice by the majority of the great proprietors, and any thing which would tend to weaken or impair this feeling would only be productive of disaster and ruin to the hopes of agriculture.

Law of Primogeniture.With regard to the law of primogeniture, again. one would think, to hear the wild abuse that is heaped upon it, that it was a law by which all the younger children of a landowner were necessarily disinherited, and the whole estate vested in the eldest son. It is, in reality, nothing of the kind; the simple meaning of the word is, that when a man dies without a will, the law presumes an intention on his part to benefit his eldest son at the expense of his younger children. Now, putting aside the cases where the presumption is a correct one in fact, the instances in which an intestacy happens, when a man dies possessed of considerable property, are very few indeed. No doubt sometimes an unintentional injustice is caused, and I am not going here to justify the law. For my own part, I do not see why the law should not enact that real property should, on the death of the owner intestate, devolve equally amongst his children, as in the case of personal estate and leaseholds. But, if the law on this subject were to be changed to-morrow, it would affect an infinitesimally small number of cases, and would immensely disappoint the hopes of the reformers, who seem to think that if it were abolished, everyone would sit