Page:The Settled Estates Act, 1882.djvu/8

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should have some clear idea what this great measure consists of, what are the evils that it was designed to meet, and how far it is likely to meet them.

In the first place it is important to observe that, in treating of what we may call generically the tenure of land, it is impossible, in an ancient country like our own, to deal with the question as an abstract one. It is not like legislating for a new colony, where land is to be found more than sufficient for the wants of the population, and where all the conditions of life are necessarily different from our own. The modern system of land tenure in England is one that has grown with the growth of the country, and has become, moreover, closely connected with the whole basis of our constitutional government. In it one may find much that a political economist, sitting down to elaborate a perfect system of land tenure, would reject, and very little, perhaps, that he would copy. But, if we are to preserve in any way the continuity of our national life, if England is to continue to be

"A land of settled government, *******  Where Freedom slowly broadens down
 From precedent to precedent,"

the anomalies of the system must be tenderly dealt with, and we should pause before we consent to any wholesale changes which may induce nothing short of social disruption and revolution. This is a thing which political doctrinaires seem to lose sight of when they promulgate the visionary theories which are continually being advocated on Radical platforms and in the pages of Radical magazines. Some of these are so extravagant that they have only to be stated to be refuted. Unfortunately the late legislation, with regard to Ireland, has