Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/16

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I am aware that there are other arguments used against the system, which I only mention here, viz., that the system tends to establish in the centre of each family what has been called, somewhat hyperbolically, "a magnificently fed and coloured drone, the incarnation of wealth and social dignity, a sort of great final cause immanent in every family." Others complain, and amongst them the Duke of Somerset the other day, that it places the father in the power of the son. There is to my mind no justification for the first of these objections; and as to the second, if it be true, it is the father himself that has placed himself there, and should not, out of self respect, complain. But in any case, to discuss these in all their bearings, is to open questions of social ethics, too wide to be entered upon here, and I shall confine myself to the two first objections which, in my mind, the State is alone concerned to see to.

First Objection.
Real Question.
No doubt the system of settlement does, as it is designed to do, place a check upon the sale of estates; but the question is, is there any difficulty in fact, in buying land in England? There is no need of statistics to show that there is none; the daily papers are sufficient evidence of that. The difficulty, indeed, of late years, has been not to find sellers but purchasers of the land, and it is not to be supposed that even if you were to take away every check, and make every landowner an absolute owner, he would at once rush into the market and sell his property. It would, probably, only be the reckless ones, those persons who want to be protected against themselves, who would do so, and it would have but a very small effect upon the value of land. There are causes obvious enough in England which will always keep land clear. Land is a luxury; but its dear-