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sary for the good order of the political organism, because, as Aquinas further observes, “ordinatius res humanæ tractantur si singulis imminet propria cura alicujus rei procurandæ.” The right of privatel property springs from necessity, issuing from the reason of things. It is conditioned by the duty that it should be made a common good. And those who convert it into a common evil, who by cupidity, by luxury, by neglect of public obligations, by harshness to the poor, make their absorption of so much of the general stock as they possess a public mischief-such, assuredly, little as they may think it, are undermining the institution itself. To
pay covenanted wages by no means exhausts the duty of the capitalist to his workpeople. And here let me note, in correction of a common error, that, as Mr. Jevons well points out,
wages are a share, not of the capitalist's property, but of the products which that capital assists the labourer to produce.” Justice requires that it should be a fair share. But justice imposes upon the capitalist far more than equitable terms and exact performance in his contracts and conventions. The formula we so often hear of “respecting one's own liberty and the liberties of others" is good as far as it goes. But the ethical obligation laid upon us extends much beyond that. Mutual respect for personality-for that liberty which is of the essence of personality , is one thing. The active practice of virtue—the duties of virtue as Kant speaks-is quite another.
Here comes in the element of self-sacrifice, which is the crowning ethical obligation:
" Learn to be just, just through impartial law :
Far as ye may, erect and equalise,
If there is any ethical truth most necessary to be insisted
upon in the present age, it is this, of the fiduciary character of property, of the duties inseparably attached to it. What a portent are the unemployed rich, an exceeding great multitude whom no man can number, and who are doubtless, in the vast majority of cases, far from suspecting that no rational justification can be given for their existence. “Do you see that dark blue brougham, with the tremendous stepping horse ? ” says Major Pendennis to his nephew.
" It is Sir Hugh Trumpington's. He is now upstairs at Bays's, playiny picquet with Count Punter; he is the second-best player in England, as well he may be; for he plays every day of his life, except Sundays (for Sir Hugh is an uncommonly religious man), from half-past three until half-past seven, when he dresses for dinner." Arthur Pendennis hints a doubt whether it is “ a very pious way of spending his time," and the Major rejoins, “Gad, sir, that is not the question. A man of his estate may employ his time as he pleases.” Good old Major Pendennis would have been much astonished if he
THE WORD "ESTATE."
had been told that the very word “estate” negatives the notion of absolute ownership and implies the idea of duty. The basis of our law of realty is the postulate that ali private land is held of the Crown. Its owner has merely an interest in it. In medieval times, the possession of land —then practically the only form of propertyinvolved the obligation of military defence: the most arduous and absorbing of public duties. The feudal services once rendered by landowners are long obsolete. But the principle which underlay the feudal land system is just, and is strictly applicable to all kinds of riches. Dr. Ingram predicts “ The social destination of property in land, and of every species of wealth, will be increasingly acknowledged and realized in the future, but that result will be brought about, not through legal institutions, but by the establishment and diffusion of moral convictions." * I trust the event will justify his confidence. For myself, I am writing not as a prophet, but as a moral philosopher. I am pointing out what can be, and ought to be.
But " what can be and ought to be,” must be—under penalties imposed by the eternal laws of the universe, which assuredly are not the less real because they are not to be found in any Act of Parliament.
It is related, I know not with what truth, that Compare Marshall, Principles of Economics, Book I. c. iii. $ 7.
upon one occasion a confederate of the great Mr. Vanderbilt, having ventured to indicate to him the disastrous consequences to the people of some particularly nefarious “ring” or “ corner” then being devised, the colossal capitalist replied curtlı, “ The people be damned.” Well, the people do not acquiesce in that sentence. Why should they? Preponderating political power has well nigh everywhere passed, or is passing, to them. A century ago the masses were nothing. Now they are everything, or are fast becoming everything. It is an arrangement which we may praise as the crowning achievement of human emancipation, or condemn as the supreme manifestation of political folly. But certain it is that the domination of the non-habentes is the great fact in the public order wherewith we have to reckon. We have to reckon, too, with the furtlıer fact, which surely must be plain to all who have eyes, that the ultimate significance of Democracy is not so much political as social: its essential problem, not a form of government, but the well-being of the Many. And here, perhaps, I shall be offered the platitude that the interests of all classes are identical : that what benefits one, benefits the rest. But the question is, IIow shall the benefits be divided ? The old orthodox Political Economy dealt chiefly with the laws of Supply, and very slightly investigated the laws of Demand. It had much to say about production: little about distribution. And
v11.] THE SOVEREIGNTY OF TIIE HAVE-VOTS. 227
distribution is rapidly becoming the supreme question. Mr. Ruskin, in a pungent passage of his Arrows of the Chace, tells us : “The labouring poor produce the means of life by their labour. Rich persons possess themselves, by various expedients, of a right to dispense these means of life; and keeping as much as they want of it for themselves, and rather more, dispense the rest, usually in return for more labour from the poor, expended in providing various delights for the rich dispensers. The idea is now gradually entering poor men's minds, that they may as well keep in their own lands the right of distributing the means of life they produce, and employ themselves, so far as they need extra occupation, for their own entertainment and benefit, rather than that of other people.” * Assuredly, the masses will be monstrous fools if they do not use the power placed in their hands to better their material condition. As assuredly, they will be more monstrous fools still if they use it unjustly. Labour, like capital, is under the moral law. Here, too, it holds good that
quidquid fit contra conscientiam ædificat ad Gehennam—" a very real hell upon earth.
We are sometimes told that Socialism is the economic expression of Democracy.
Vol.ii. p. 100.