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that should tend to perpetuate so rotten and ruinous a system.
It follows that if there is a reasonable prospect of a permanent reduction in the prices of whatever articles enter into the calculation of the letting value of land, the reduction of rents must be permanent also. Any one can see that this is a mere truism ; but yet it is by no means consistent with much of the language which is heard on this subject. Landlords are entreated and advised to lower their rents, as if it was a matter of kindness or of moral obligation. But it is no such thing. Rent is value, and must be regulated, like any other value, by the market for the article to which it refers. Now, I know perfectly well that there is not one of my farms which, if it were vacant, I could not let in a fortnight at its present rent. As long as this is the case there is no reasonableness in the suggestion that I, or any one in a similar case, should lower our rents. Of course it is not necessary, in order to ascertain this, that any farm should be actually vacant. I should be sorry to have any of my farms thrown up, but there is no difficulty in any neighbourhood in knowing how any part of the land would let.
I do not mean to represent the relation of landlord and tenant as simply that of a shopkeeper and customer, but as regards the mere price of land it is so. The difference is in the general friendly intercourse, and willingness on the part of the landlord to do all he can to promote and assist in the good cultivation of the land, which applies to the former, and has no parallel in the latter, relation.
I am not, therefore, prepared to make either of the above offers ; but I repeat the offer which I have so often made, and which seems to me better than any other to realise the hackneyed phrase of the landlord getting into the same boat with the tenant, viz., that my present rents should be commuted into rents calculated according to the value of the produce of the land. I am quite aware that there are objections to this kind of rent; but, on the whole, I consider that it is better fitted than any other for times like these, in which tenants are apprehensive of ruinously low prices, and have a consequent difficulty in estimating the money-rent which they can afford to pay. It is said to be difficult to fix the starting-point for such an arrangement. I will, therefore, endeavour to state more in detail what I would propose ; only observing that I should be willing to vary it in any particular, the general principle remaining the same.
I suppose the case of a given tenant. I take the year in which he agreed to take his farm at the actual rent. He did it deliberately, and with his eyes open, and I assume that it was a fair agreement. I then calculate, on the average of the seven years preceding that date, the amount of produce which that amount of rent represented, and proceed precisely on the principle of the Tithe Commutation Act; only that, instead of meaning by “produce” corn alone, I take it to mean corn and live stock : so that in each year the rent would be the value in money, according to the average of the seven years preceding such year, of as much produce as was worth the first-named sum, according to the average of the seven years preceding the letting. This calculation may seem complicated, but I have no doubt it will be readily understood, as it is only that with which you are well acquainted in the Tithe Act just referred to.
Of course there are many details which would have to be settled, beyond what I have stated. But I am persuaded that if the principle of such a plan were heartily agreed upon, the arrangement of it would be attended with no serious difficulty. I will only observe, what I think will not be denied, that in this neighbourhood, at least, a plan so constructed is in one important respect clearly favourable to the tenant. Land in this district will always let at a somewhat higher rate than would be represented by a general average price of corn and stock. Many of my tenants also deal in valuable commodities (such as butter), which I have not proposed to include. But, for the sake of simplicity, and other reasons, I am content to take it so.
I add, that such an arrangement should be open to all tenants, whether under lease or not; and that it should also be open to all of them at any time to terminate it, and to revert to a fixed money rent at the then market value of land.
The real reason why some persons would hesitate to agree to such a plan is just one of those which commend it to me, as may be inferred from what I said in the early part of this letter,—that it tells both ways, instead of only one. Undoubtedly, under it the landlord would have the benefit of a rise in price, while the tenant is protected against a fall. But this, seems to me quite fair. And at all events the plan ought to be satisfactory to those who are so loudly and confidently proclaiming that very low prices must inevitably now prevail.
I have very little faith in these positive prognostications. But neither do I pretend to be positive on the other side. I admit there is uncertainty ; and I, therefore, suggest what seems reasonably well fitted to such a period of uncertainty.
Into more general topics I shall not now enter. Leases many of you have—any of you can have, as you know, on application; and I have recently provided, for covenants on my estate, a clause for compensation for unexhausted improvements to the tenant, as far as the existing law will admit. I waited only in hopes that the law might be made more effective for the purpose than it is. I am, etc.
THOUGHTS ON NATIONAL EDUCATION.
An analogy has been suggested between the position in which the question of National Education has for some time stood, and that of the question of relief to the destitute during the period of tentative legislation which preceded the enactment of the compulsory statutes at the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth.
This analogy seems, in a certain sense, correct. It seems probable that the present generation may see the establishment of compulsory education in schools ; and it will on the whole be well if such a measure be followed by as much good and as little evil as the famous statutes above referred to.
It is in the anticipation of such a measure, and in the belief that it ought to be of a character at once more stringent, more simple, and more free, than has yet been proposed, that I venture to add a few observations to the many that have been offered to the country on this subject.
The ground of the above-mentioned comparison is obvious. The alleviation of distress, and prevention of destitution, are among the first and plainest moral duties inculcated by the Christian religion. In the earlier ages of our history they were performed voluntarily, however imperfectly, and as incidents of the feudal and monastic systems. It is needless to refer to the wellknown order of events which undermined and weakened the efficacy of that voluntary principle through a long