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“THEY HAVE RIGHTS WHO DARE MAINTAIN THEM."
Vol. IV.-No. 96.
Wanted, a Liberal Leader.
One Day's Legislation. If Mr. Chamberlain and Sir William Har- On the 4th of August, 1792, the French court are really competing for the leadership Chamber passed the following enactments, of the Liberal party, it must be on the prin- which still remain the fundamental principles ciple of the donkey race where the hindmost of the French system, and have never been takes the prize. A few days ago we thought tampered with, either by Royalists or Impethat Mr. Chamberlain was, on this principle, cer- rialists :tain of the stakes, but Sir William has check-! 1. Abolition de la qualité de serf. mated him even on this line. In his wonderful 2. Faculté de rembourser les droits seigpronouncement addressed to the Land Resto- noriaux. ration League he claims for landlords that two- 3. Abolition des juridictions seigneuriales. thirds of the rent they receive is for interest 4. Suppression des droits exclusifs de on expenditure made by them on the land. chasse, &c. He insists upon it that a landlord is entitled 5. Rochat de la dime. in perpetuity to 6 per cent. on such outlay, 6. Egalité des impôts. although it is well known that landlords often 7. Admission de tour les citoyens aux emlend to themselves the money of the nation at plois civils et militaires. 3 per cent, and even at 1 per cent., while they 8. Abolition de la vénalité des offices. charge their tenants 5 or 6 per cent., and are 9. Destruction de tous les priviléges de villes thus wholly recouped in a few years. The et de provinces. fact is, landlords rarely spend on the land any- 10. Reformation de jurondes. thing more than a portion of the rent they 11. Suppression de pensions obteneues sous receive, and for which they have usually done titres. nothing. In estimating their claims for im- | The above was one day's work under a one provement no outlay should be taken into Chamber legislature, and forms an encouraging account made more than twenty-five years precedent. ago, as in such cases they have been amply repaid. In so grossly overstating the case of the landlords, Sir William Harcourt has shown
The School Board Contract. his inability to recognise the claims of the The London School Board have to decide people. After the blunders made by Liberal | whether they will accept a tender under which chiefs, no man will gain the confidence of the a master printer offers to take their work at party who does not manifest unmistakeable 65 per cent. below the standard price, a tender sympathy with, and a clear understanding of, which can only be carried out by obtaining the practical wants of the working classes, as under-paid labour. There ought to be no they are determined no longer to be legally hesitation on this point. Competition in the robbed of their hard earnings.
. (matter of public wages is not the rule, and it
ought not to be applied to printers when it is Dalzell, or Laird of Lagg. How long the not adopted in other cases. No one would countrymen of Wallace · and Bruce are think of subjecting the wages of teachers to expected to stand all this sort of thing it is competition. The fees of the lawyer to the for them to say. Have Scotsmen “become Board were not subject to tender. Neither pigeon-livered and lack gall” that they conare the salaries of public officers in general so tinue to hand over unjust rents, and condemn determined. It is monstrous that men at the the men who seek the deliverance of their lower part of the social scale should be squeezed countrymen from burdens which are insupand trampled upon while those who are in portable. higher positions and more able to take care of
Currency Crotchets. themselves should be protected from pressure. Either competition all round or consideration
Lord Rosebery, who is first favourite for the all round should be the rule, and if considera- | Liberal leadership, gives the second place in tion prevails none are more entitled thereto his programme to currency reform. He wisely than those whose work is so monotonous and
omits to suggest the method which he advowearying as that of a compositor.
cates, and thus he will secure the votes of the silver speculators and currency doctors in
general. The enormous sums already spent by Tiree Crofters Sentenced.
Bonanza kings in order to enhance the price of His “Grace” of Argyll has won the day, silver, and add untold millions to their wealth and five of the Tiree Crofters have been sen- at the public expense, have had some effect in tenced by an Edinburgh judge, Lord Muir, to misleading the public mind. This effect has six, and three to four, months' imprisonment been the more easily produced because a for “ deforcement.” Not a hair of any man's radical change in our system of currency works head was harmed, nor was any property wholly forthe benefit of capitalists is undoubtedly destroyed. Nevertheless, because the chicken- necessary, and existing evils are not, however, hearted police took fright, and declined to to be removed by attempting the impossible serve the writs, the poor Crofters are punished task of keeping two metals at the same price, for the cowardice of the constabulary. The or by the absurd process of storing silver in jury, a middle-class jury—in this free country vaults and printing paper to represent its value. working men are carefully excluded from the We can have paper well secured without such jury-box-strongly recommended the prisoners costly and imbecile proceedings. There is one to mercy, and six months' and four months' in legitimate method of raising the price of silver, carceration was what came of their recom- and that is repealing the duty on silver plate, mendation. The Lord Advocate, who pro- which would at once develop Indian industry secuted, “did not think they would have been and assist the Indian currency. breakers of the law had it not been for newspapers giving records of such things happening Respecting the candidature of Mr. Henry elsewhere." Doubtless, Lord Advocate Mac- George for the Mayoralty of New York, the donald would make short work of THE Pall Mall Gazette says that Mr. George conDEMOCRAT and other tell-tale prints were he tinues to make Socialist speeches which elicit press censor, which, happily, he is not. The much criticism. It should be noted that Mr. fact of the matter is, all the traditions of the George has never in his life made a Socialist bench and bar in Scotland are arbitrary and speech, and it is extremely unlikely that he despotic. For weeks Sheriff Ivory has been will ever do so. It is, however, necessary for careering about Skye at the head of a band of Mr. George's opponents to represent him as a constabulary and Marines, “harrying " the Socialist in order to erade the direct charges of miserable, starving inhabitants in a manner fraud and plunder which Mr. George Trings that recalls the doings of a Clavërhouse, ' against the privileged classes.
to the great cause to which I have for a con, LAND RESUMPTION IN AUSTRALIA.
siderable number of years devoted myself, and TO THE EDITOR OF THE DEMOCRAT.
I could not refuse to take advantage of it,
The series on the Land movement in Great Sir, In the end of 1882, after suffering | Britain, which comprised eight papers, some protracted physical and mental lethargy, if not of them extending over three columns, attracted depression, which seemed as if it would never attention throughout the Australian Colonies, come to an end, I left England on board a and are even now, in certain quarters, not sailing ship that was bound for Adelaide, the infrequently referred to as the Rufus paper, capital of South Australia. The voyage re-in- that being the nom de plume under which they vigorated me. In the beginning of April, were written. In the course of these papers I 1883, I landed at that fair city, and after traced the contributions towards the developspending eight days in making myself ment of the idea, old as the hills, but forgotten acquainted with it and its environments, I and ignored, that the soil is a natural element went to the office of the Register, the principal essential to the existence of all the living paper in the colony, to deliver the solitary human beings on its surface; that it is not a letter of introduction I had brought to produce of human labour and skill, and that it Australia, which was addressed to the editing. is, therefore, not a legitimate or just subject of proprietor. I met the publishing-proprietor, private property. The work of Cobbett, and was informed by him that his partner had Cobden, Herbert Spencer, Henry George, A. R. left three days before on a visit to Europe. He Wallace, and others was summarised and asked leave to open the letter I had brought, revised ; and I concluded with a hasty glance which, of course, was at once granted ; and the at the religious non-theological phase which first result was an invitation to dinner the the agitation assumed with those who preach same evening. There I met the gentleman the new, or, rather, the revived, land doctrine who was conducting the Register during the as the “Land Gospel.” This was followed by absence of the editing-proprietor, and several occasional signed articles on one or other of the other intelligent and public-spirited citizens. almost universal ramifications of the land Information was desired regarding the move-question ; but at the same time the land policy ments, political and social, that were stirring of the Register was, in its leading columns, in the mother country, and I had, in particular, gradually, but steadily, undergoing a radical to explain in detail the agitation, which was change. Within a few months it openly and then beginning to attract wide-spread attention, earnestly advocated the stoppage of the further for the recovery of the land by the people. alienation of the State lands, and began to For seven or eight evenings in succession I was discuss the various methods suggested for the the guest of one or other of my new friends, recovery of the ten million odd acres that in and always after dinner the theme that was South Australia have become private property. mainly discussed was land nationalisation. It As an evidence of the favour with which the occurred to Mr. J. Medway Day, the gentleman Register policy in regard to the land was who was interim editor of the Register, that received by the community, I may mention the readers of that journal might be as inter- that the rival organ of Adelaide, the Advertiser, ested as he was himself in the account I gave for a time adopted it, although it did little him of the development of the land doctrine more than echo the ideas of its contemporary. that was visibly and steadily rising into But I have to note far more important prominence in Britain, and he asked me to results of the propaganda begun, or revived, in write a series of articles on the subject. South Australia by the Register. Amongst all Before the month of April had passed, the first classes, friends of land resumption soon declared of these articles appeared. It dealt with the themselves, and a desire was felt that their teachings of that remarkable radical reformer, forces should be organised. It was not, howThomas Spence, who, in 1775, made what is ever, until April, 1884, that a South Australian probably the first, and is still the most decided Land Nationalisation Society was formed. In and definite, declaration in favour of the the beginning of February of that year, I went nationalisation, or parochialisation, of the land to Kapunda, a town about 200 miles to the that has been uttered by an Englishman. north of Adelaide, on the invitation of several Before the third of the series appeared, I was ardent and devoted friends of the cause, and requested to join the editorial staff of the delivered a lecture on the “ Problem of the Age, Register, and write for that paper until the -- the Land Question and its · Solution,” return of its editor. Here was an opportunity in the Institute Hall, there, to an overof doing important and influential service'flowing audience. This discourse. Was
ore the to joinitet for that as an opporset
reported verbatim in the Kapunda Herald, and colonies of the British Empire will anticipate afterwards published in pamphlet form, and the mother country in the abolition of property circulated by the thousand. Within a few in land, but if one of them does so it would not weeks the South Australian Land Nationalisa- surprise me although that one were South tion Society was established, and ever Australia. Not only do many of her sons resince, by the issue of tracts and leaflets, cognise that the recovery by the people of their and the holding of meetings, lecturing, etc., natural rights to the soil would inevitably and it has: carried on an active and most immediately promote her progress and prossuccessful agitation. This society has now perity “by leaps and bounds," but, what is thirteen branches in various parts of the more important, they have a clear and firm colony; and about six months ago there was grasp of the great moral principles which a conference in Adelaide of delegates from these demand the overthrow of the institution of branches, at which it was unanimously resolved property in land. There is a “remnant" to petition the Legislature to abolish all taxes, there, and a large and powerful remnant, too, with the exception of the duty on spirits, and that should be sufficient to save the colony to raise the revenue by the imposition of a from the privation, and even destruction that, tax of 3d. in the pound on the unimproved in common with other parts of the civilised value of the alienated lands. There is, I may world, old and new, are visibly impending mention, a tax of id. in the pound on the over it. unimproved value of land that is private I have dwelt at considerable length on the property in that colony, and the adoption of land movement in South Australia because it the policy of land taxation by the Government, is, to my mind, of far more importance than in this modified and partial form, was one of the corresponding movement in any of the the results of the advocacy by the Register other Australasian colonies; but I must glance of a more thorough and Radical application of at what has been done, and is being done, in the principle.
New South Wales, New Zealand, and Victoria Until about five months ago the chief to enlighten the public mind and rouse the journalistic advocates of the abolition of public conscience with reference to the relation property in land in South Australia were the in which the people should stand towards the Adelaide Register and the Kapunda Herald, soil from which they derive, and ever must and both papers have ably and consistently derive, their sustenance. About eighteen maintained that the land is the indispensable months ago a public meeting was held in and inalienable property of the whole of the Sydney for the purpose of calling attention to people, although the latter has, perhaps, been the programme of the New South Wales Land the more zealous latterly in its promulgation of League, which had then just been established. that principle in its efforts to apply it to the Some of the speeches delivered at that meeting conduct of affairs. Since that time, however, were exceedingly interesting. For instance, a weekly journal, called Our Commonwealth, has one of the speakers referred to a state ment appeared regularly at Adelaide, which is which had shortly before been made at a banspecially and exclusively devoted to the promo- quet at Orange by the Minister of Lands that tion of the people's rights and interests, includ- fourteen individuals had become possessed of ing, necessarily and primarily, their rights to freehold property of over fourteen million and interests in the soil, on and from which acres out of the forty millions that had been they live, and to which they return. Of the fully alienated in that colony, and rightly asability, the spirit, and the character with serted that New South Wales was in a far which this organ is conducted, I would find it worse condition in this respect than Great difficult to speak too highly, and it will | Britain. The severe depression in trade, from certainly redound greatly to the credit of the which Sydney and Adelaide have suffered more 300,000 inhabitants of South Australia if a acutely than any of the other Australian sufficient number of them are found duly to centres of population, is obviously the result of appreciate its value and to support it.
locking up the land available for settlement, South Australia is the centre of the move and the people in both towns are beginning to ment for Land Resumption in the Southern perceive the true cause of the evils that periodiHemisphere, and the small town of Kapunda, cally afflict them. When I last heard of the thanks to the intelligence and self-devotion progress that the Land League of New South of the noble band of men and women who | Wales was making, some two or three months founded and have directed the action of the before I left Melbourne, it seemed that a forparent Land Nationalisation Society there, is midable combination would be formed, and I its head-quarters. It may be that none of the expect to hear shortly of the work that it is
doing. The cause of Land Reform, in its | favour of land nationalisation, but, with the Radical acceptation, has a very powerful and grossest inconsistency imaginable, it combines very pungent advocate in the Sydney Bulletin, the abolition of property in land with the imto which I had the pleasure of contributing position of prohibitive duties on imported during my stay in that city, and in Melbourne. manufactures. The Melbourne Argus, which Whilst in Sydney, I wrote a few articles on has a very small circulation and no influence various aspects of the Land Question, which whatever, except with the landocracy and the appeared in the “open columns ” of the Sydney | capitalists, who approve of what it terms Morning Herald, the leading newspaper of New “ colonial commercialism," under which all South Wales, and to which the editor re things are reduced to a question of profitssponded in the leading columns. An article capitalists' profits—with an equally ridiculous however, on “ Confiscation or Compensation ?" incongruity advocates Free Trade and land which called forth several editorial replies monopoly. In all the Australasian colonies that were not apparently considered con- speculation in land is rife, but in Melbourne clusive and satisfactory, brought me an and Victoria it is more prevalent than any. intimation that the “Council ” who conduct where else. The gambling spirit pervades all that journal had resolved to exclude any new countries to a greater extent than it does further articles from me on the land, even from old countries, but it is all-pervading in Austhe “open columns," where the writers alone tralia, and its dominance is manifestly one of are responsible, although they would be very the consequences of the institution of property pleased to receive my contributions on any | in land. By investment in land an individual other subject. As a matter of course, I could may there become possessed of the products of not accept this condition, and I accordingly other men's labours more readily and with addressed myself to the Evening News, more certainty than he can do by any other which has the largest circulation of any means. The land system is consequently a far daily paper published in Sydney. Here the more powerful and effective source of dedifficulties I encountered were of a somewhat moralisation there than betting or horsedifferent and more unbearable kind. This racing, rowing matches, or any other sport, paper was conducted with a sublime indifference or, indeed, or all sports put together. But to principles which could only be attained by there are in Victoria men who perceive the entire ignorance of what they meant, and I iniquity of property in land, and the grievous cannot believe that I was able to do much good evils that flow from it, although there are very by the little that appeared in its columns few who attempt to right the wrong, and stay from my pen. Still, the seed was flying in | the mischief that flows from it. In 1871 there the air, and some of it fell on good ground, was an organisation alive in Melbourne entitled and will yet, doubtless, bring forth fruit. | “ The Land Tenure Reform League,” which There, as everywhere else that I have had for its main objects the cessation of the been during the past five or six years, sale of State lands, and the resumption, with I found many persons ready to assent to the compensation, of the lands thus alienated. intellectual propositions of the argument for Several of the tracts published by this League the abolition of property in land as a necessary have fallen into my hands, and they show a means to the emancipation of the people ; but very remarkable insight into the land question the vast majority of them, from self-interest or for the period at which they were issued. Of apathy, were not prepared to give effect to late years several attempts have been made to their convictions and quit themselves like men. form another organisation with similar objects, Some of them who either had, or thirsted for, but they have all practically failed. Mr. C. E. large landed possessions, believed; but, as Jones, M.P., the editor and proprietor of The the Apostles' devils did, they “believed and People's Tribune, a weekly journal that strictly trembled,” desiring that the truth was other advocates land resumption, presided over two than it is.
or three meetings, which I attended, about a Victoria is the most backward of all the year ago, that had for their object the formation Australian colonies in the movement for the of a Victorian Land Nationalisation Society, recovery of the soil, and its backwardness is but the number of members who presented themundoubtedly largely to be accounted for by selves and the funds subscribed were in-sufficient the prevalence of the economic heresies mis- even for the nucleus of such an organisation. called “Protection.” The Melbourne Age, Notwithstanding these failures, however, I met which is the democratic organ, and has an with a large number of persons in Melbourne enormously larger circulation than any other and other parts of Victoria who are thoroughly paper published in Victoria, professes itself in 'convinced of the soundness of the doctrine of