Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/18

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culty of obtaining their consent, or to the necessity of having to apply to the Court, because of the absence of such powers, there are obstacles in the way of selling any part of the estate, so as to pay off the charges upon it. I do not believe this is often the case, because it is undoubtedly the fact that the estates of our large landed proprietors are the best and most liberally managed in the country, and it is their tenants who have best been enabled to stand the stress Evidence before the Royal Commission. of the late unfortunate seasons. An ounce of fact is worth a ton of theory, and the clear result of the evidence taken before the Royal Commission was, that on the large estates, the expenditure of capital was the most generous, and the land was best developed by the application of all the improvements of modern science and mechanics. But it is the few cases, which undoubtedly do exist, where the life tenant is idle or dissolute, or hampered by "the eternal want of pence," that our reformers pitch upon, and arguing from the single to the universal, condemn the whole system, and will be satisfied with nothing less than improving it altogether off the face of the earth.

Proposed Remedies.What then are the remedies proposed? "Abolish life estates," say Mr. Kay and Mr. Brodrick. "Take away the right of settling property on unborn persons," says Mr. Shaw Lefevre. "Make everything a fee simple, and let land be as easily transferable as consols," says Mr. Bright. Surely the remedies, or the first two of them (for until Mr. Bright is ingenious enough to invent a method by which a man can take his land to market with him in his pocket, we need not waste much time over the feasibility of his proposition), are worse than the disease. Abolish life estates, and you take away the power of a man to