Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/7

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"Very carefully and judiciously written."—Lord Cairns.


I have been asked to write a short paper on the Settled Land Act of Lord Cairns passed during the last Session, and it has been with some diffidence that I have complied with the request made to me. First, because the question involves a consideration of the whole vexed subject of the English land laws,—a subject bristling with difficulties, to lawyers equally as to laymen, and full of problems intimately connected with our social and political life; and secondly, because the topic can at best be inadequately discussed in so short a paper as time will allow, and is likely to fall somewhat flat among the more exciting political questions of the hour.

But, dry as it may be, the subject is one of such immense importance at the present day, partly owing to the enquiries which the recent agricultural depression has naturally set on foot, and partly to the wild and mistaken theories that have been expressed as to our land laws, that I think no apology, save one arising from my own feeling of personal incapacity, is needed for bringing it forward, with a view to invite and promote discussion. At the present time, moreover, when the season of platform politics is at hand, it is as well that we