Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/24

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we reflect on the extreme squeezability of the Whig party to the demands of the Radicals, it is impossible to say. But we know what further agitation on the subject means, and what alone it can mean; it means clearly under the guise of a reform in the land laws, to strike a blow against the aristocratic institutions of the country and the existence of the House of Lords. Such an attack will find the Conservative party ready to meet it, and in a better position to do so, now that they have cut a good deal of the ground from under their adversaries. We can, perhaps, scarcely hope to appease with it the advanced guard of the miscalled liberalism of the day, that liberalism which is only another name for democratic despotism, and which has set itself to wage war against freedom of contract, freedom of speech, freedom of voting. Even lately we have heard Mr. Fawcett dilating on the worn out topics of feudal tenure and entail, but not even sparing a word of "faint praise" for this great reform, and other Radicals such as Mr. Arnold and Mr. Mundella condemning it as insufficient and likely to prove ineffective. But whether final or not, it will defer, at all events for some considerable time, the passing of any more drastic measures. The poor landowners, who, amid torrents of abuse from every side, have had to bear the brunt of the late agricultural depression, will breathe again for a while, and when the further attack does come, I trust that this wise and moderate measure of true Conservative statesmanship will have taught the people as well as the landowners, to range themselves on the side of a party which has most identified itself with the real welfare of the land and the great interests connected with it.

Partridge & Cooper, Printers, 1 & 2, Chancery Lane.