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than of arbitrary interference on the part of the lord. The real meaning of all the dicta was to show to what extreme consequences the legal construction of certain relations might lead, not to present either a fair appreciation of their usual working, or the easiest tests for discriminating them in practice.

If we want to get behind the feudal doctrine, our safest clue lies in the fact that the whole system is made dependent in the practice of the early thirteenth century on the point of granting, or not granting, the assizes and the great writ of right. In its legal completeness, it is hardly older than these remedies, and we observe it on its way to formation. I will not revert to the curious aberrations from the highway leading to the exclusion of the villains from the Royal courts, but I should like to lay stress in this connection on a point noticed by others, and embodied in no less a document than Magna Charta, namely on the qualification“ free,” which was brought in into the clause about disseisin in the Confirmation of Henry III. in 1217.2 It squares exactly with the formula of the writ of novel disseisin, which was rightly considered and applied as excluding villains and tenants in villainage.

But was there no material distinction to go by in the discrimination by the courts between the people they were to protect and those to whom protection was refused ? Surely it was no matter of arbitrary selection on the part of the judges. I think that theanalysis of cases, as previously given, goes to show that the material distinction from which the lawyers started, was that of agricultural service, not more and not less. They assumed that agricultural service, as such, was villain service and a presumption of villain tenure, unless proof of the contrary was forthcoming. It would have been nice and clear indeed, if the whole of English society could have been arranged under the headings of villains holding by rural work, socagers holding by rent, knights and serjeants holding by military service, clergy holding by ecclesiastical obligations. The reality of things did not quite admit of such simplicity, and produced variations which puzzled lawyers and confuse modern learning. But the general drift of jurisprudence, following, as it did, on the lines of the ascendency of conquerors and military landlords, produced a system in which the great mass of the peasantry was left rightless and unprotected, rightless because unprotected.

i Villainage in England, 78 ff.

2 Confirmation of 1217 : Nullus liber homo . .. dissaisietur de libero tenemento suo vel liberatibus vel liberis consuetudinibus, etc. Cf. Pollock and Maitland, I., 341.

3 I cannot discuss in this paper the very interesting symptoms of social condition at the time of Domesday. Still, I should like to call the attention of the reader, in connection with the uncertainty of ancient distinctions, to the curious customs of Sokemen in the Inquisitio Com. Cantebrig. (ed. Hamilton) 192-195. Cf. Round Feudal England. These Sokemen should go for villains in the light of later definitions.

I am anxious to present this view of the legal situation, because I think that it is the only one which accounts for historical development. It has been said that the denial of legal protection is the consequence and not the cause of the uncertainty of villain tenure. This might have been true, if we could suppose that it was all settled before the thirteenth century what certain and uncertain services were. As a matter of fact, we find the courts of that age in the process of settling it by their grant and refusal of protection, and thereby contributing powerfully towards the spread of servile customs and of uncertainty in the arrangement of peasant life. A jurisprudence developing on old prefeudal lines would have considered the slave only as uncertain in his will and work, and would not have shrunk from discussing the .conditions of rural economy. The turn towards other views was reached when the liberties conferred by the reforms of Henry II. and by the Great Charter were restricted to the narrow strip of territory formed by free tenements. Henceforward the course of development lay in the gradual enlargement of this privileged shore. What the refusal of jurisdiction meant may be illustrated by the words of an ancient French jurist, who had to tell of similar facts in his own country: “Et ce qu'en dit que totes les choses que vileins a sont son seignor, c'est voirs a garder; car s'eles estoient a son seignor propres, il n'auroit quant a ce null difference entre serf et vilein; mès par nostre usage n'a-il, entre toi et ton vilein, juge fors Deu.”1


Appendix. Trin. 15 Joh. r. 20, Middlesex (Cecilia folia Alexandri v. Balduinum Juvenem). Juratores dicunt quod ipsi certi sunt quod predictus Balduinus fuit seisitus de una vergata terre unde hæc assisa arraniata est et quod ipsi eum disseisiverunt, set nesciunt, si sit liberum tenementum vel non. Quia si ipse habuerit carucam, ipsa arabit Domino suo tres acras ad cibum suum proprium, ita tamen quod in estate dum arat habeat herbagium ad boves suos, tan tum modo dum arat. Dicunt eciam quod ipse et alii debent falcare tres turnos et introducent fenum in grangiam Domini sui et habebunt pro hoc meliorem multonem quem eligere possint in falda Domini sui. Item ad aliam falcationem debent similiter ipse et alii homines ejusdem ville tenentes eodem modo, et fenum introducere in grangiam domini sui, et pro hoc solebant antiquitus habere unum mullonem de feno, set postea se comperuit Dominus quod hoc fuit ad gravamen, et communia (cõā) locutus fuit cum eis, quod ipsi ex .sua voluntate concesserunt ei quod daret eis duodecim denarios loco mullonis.

1 Pierre de Fontaines, Conseil à un ami.




It has sometimes been remarked that men are prone to attach an unreal importance to divisions like those which separate one century from another. Certainly the expression fin de siècle has recently echoed in our ears until we have wearied of its iteration. We have seen many attempts to express in some comprehensive, but striking, phrase the characteristics of the century, which is dying. We have witnessed not a few endeavours to delineate the features of the new century, which is coming to its birth. And we have been reminded by cool, detached observers that after all the minds and manners of men do not alter, and the inevitable sequence of events does not change, because we write nineteen where once we used a lower figure. The fact indeed that we make this particular change before the new period strictly commences, and the controversy, which has arisen, on the precise moment, at which we leave the nineteenth, and enter the twentieth century, may serve to recall the arbitrary nature of such chronological boundaries. Yet it is natural that their presence should stimulate at once to reflection and prophecy. An occasion is offered when we may pause, looking back on the past and on to the future. We may try to discern the hidden meaning of movements and forces obscured or bewildering when first they made their appearance. We may indulge in the tempting occupation of pushing to their ultimate effects causes which have only begun to operate. Such essays may indeed be undertaken at all seasons. But they are perhaps more often, and appropriately, made when one epoch is ending and another is commencing. Nor is it irrational to suppose that the very occurrence, or approach, of such a period may exert a subtle, but appreciable, influence on actual practice.

" A Paper read before the Economic Science and Statistics Section of the British Association at Bradford, September, 1900.

The conduct of men is affected by their imagination, and the imagination is certainly influenced by the close or opening of such a noticeable division of time as a hundred years.

Books then, like the late Mr. Pearson's National Life and Character, or Mr. Kidd's Social Evolution, both of which attracted attention by the curious and ingenious speculations, which they offered, on the future of society, and the interpretation of the past, are a natural outcome of the times. Nor can it be gainsaid that. the wars, first of China with Japan, then of Spain with the United States, and lastly of the English with the Boers, seem likely to be fraught with consequences of importance for the world. The events now happening in China promise to make the closing year of the present century, and the opening year, or years, of the next, remarkable for a contest, whether mainly diplomatic, or largely military, between the East and the West, between an old civilisation and the new, as serious and as eventful as any of the quarrels which we have mentioned. The last decade of the nineteenth century has not been destitute of important occurrences; the final year of that decade will, we may feel tolerably confident, take a prominent position in history. The philosopher as well as the statesman, the economist no less than the politician, may admit that the year 1900 is a date, which, for good or for ill, is likely to be remembered. It is a commonplace to say that we live in “stirring times.” But it is a commonplace full of grim reality : and anyone, who has read his newspaper with attention during the succeeding months of this year, must sometimes have been forced to reflect on the significance of the events that have been noted, and may well have been led to wonder whether after all the close of one century, and the commencement of another, are not something more than the passage from artificial period of time to artificial period. It may be so; and yet the coincidence between the transition and a series of remarkable events is at least as curious as it is suggestive.

At the beginning of the century now ending, England was engaged in a war, which occupies a large place in our economic history. Its consequences to national finance were great. They have been summarised thus by Mr. Sydney Buxton: “The nation,” he writes in his Finance and Politics,1 "numbering some fourteen to fifteen million souls, entered into the Great War burdened by a debt of two hundred and forty millions, and with an expenditure (exclusive of the sinking fund) of some eighteen. to nineteen millions a year—of which the Army and Navy ab

1 Vol. I., pp. 7-8.

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