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1717. now; whilst the average income amongst all the rich, except the very rich, was in 1881, 21937.; and it is now not more than 2069/.*


'These figures, it is true, apply only to incomes derived from industry; but, as Professor Leone Levi remarks,' there is reason to believe that they represent the condition of all descriptions of interest.' 'In a note,' he continues, 'to the appendix to Mr. Dudley Baxter's paper on national incomes, by Mr. Gripper, of the Inland Revenue, it is stated that the number of incometax payers under Schedule A may be taken to be divided in the same proportion as under Schedule D; and the same may be said as to Schedule B, C, and E.' We need not, however, rest content with this piece of general information; we can, to a great extent, test its accuracy for ourselves. We cannot, indeed, with regard to the other classes of incomes, make the same exact comparison between the present and the past; but we can see that the distribution of them at present, in two cases at least, is practically the same as that which exists in the class just mentioned. The one is the case of the employés of the Government and of corporate bodies, the immense increase in whose gross annual income is almost wholly the gain of an increased middle-class. The other is the case, more important still, of the distribution of incomes derived from land. We touched upon this matter when we were dealing with Mr. Hyndman, and showed the absolute fallacy of the current belief concerning it; but it is now necessary that we should examine it more minutely.

The current belief, as we all know-the belief which the Radical party are doing everything that they can to fosteris the belief that the whole ground-rental of this country is the portion of the national income that is growing most rapidly, and that nearly the whole of it runs,' in Mr. Chamberlain's elegant phraseology, 'into the pockets' of the landed aristocracy. But what are the real facts? The moment we approach these, the moment we look them full in the face, this ridiculous and extravagant fiction dissolves into the air like a dream. In a country like ours, where high social position depends on so many things, either taken together or singly-on wealth, on lineage or connections, on various personal qualities -it is of course impossible, in arranging landowners by their

*Professor Leone Levi, in his paper on 'Recent Changes in the Distribution of Wealth,' classifies the population thus-Income-tax-payers, lower middle classes, labouring classes-the lower middle classes being composed of persons with an average income of 110/. We think, however, that the classification made in the text is more in accordance with popular usage, and brings out more clearly the contrast between the real facts of the case and the current fallacies.

acreage, to be quite accurate socially in our definition of the aristocracy. We think ourselves, however, to be substantially correct in saying, that the ownership of less than a thousand acres does not, apart from other claims to distinction, entitle a man to rank as a country gentleman; and it is evident that the 'landlord,' when denounced in Radical oratory, is conceived of as a person of larger estate than this. We will therefore define the landed aristocracy as those landowners who own more than a thousand acres ; and we will divide those who own less than this amount into small rural owners, and into small urban and suburban owners. And now let us take the case of England, and compare facts with rhetoric.


The gross rental of England is about ninety-nine millions of pounds.* Of this amount, what goes to the aristocracy is, in round numbers, only thirty million; what goes to the class of smaller rural owners, whose estates average from 700 to 20 acres, is thirty-three millions; and what goes to the suburban owners, who, on the average, have four acres, and the urban owners, who, on the average, have the fourth of an acre, is thirty-six millions. It will thus be seen that the landed aristocracy of England, the large proprietors, the 'land-grabbers '-that rapacious and profligate class who are represented as appropriating almost the whole rental of the country-take of that rental really not so much as one-third, and that their gross receipts from their rural, their suburban, and their urban properties together, is less by six millions than the receipts which the smallest class of proprietors derive from their suburban and urban properties alone.

Let us next consider these classes in point of numbers. The landed aristocracy, all told, number about 5000. Just below them come 4800 owners, with estates that average 700

*A most instructive instance of that inevitable perversity, which Radicals always exhibit when dealing with the land question, is to be found on page 47 of the Financial Reform Almanac ' for 1884-a publication, the almost avowed object of which is, by means of garbled (we do not say falsified) statistics, to exhibit the aristocratic landlords in a light as invidious as possible. With reference to the holders of less than one acre, the compiler of the Almanac, though he cannot deny them to be numerous, declares that their rental, as stated in the Doomsday book, is rental not for the land only but for all factories, buildings, workshops, and houses,' which stand on it. This, he declares, is evident from the amount of rent recorded. A statement more stupidly or more wantonly false it is hardly possible to imagine. The average rental per acre of the small urban properties in question is about 190/. Now on an acre of land there would be room for fourteen large houses, each with a frontage of 30 feet and a depth of 105 feet. Does the compiler of The Financial Reform Almanac' suppose that the rental of these fourteen houses would be only 190/.? There are few localities in which the rental of each one of these would not be a larger sum. The value of the small suburban properties, of three and four acres, is on the average about 137. an acre.


Then come 32,000, with estates that average 200 acres ; then. 25,000 with estates that average 70 acres; and then 72,000, with estates that average 20 acres: the total number of the smaller rural proprietors being thus not less than 133,000. Finally there come the urban and suburban proprietors-the latter with their four acres, the former with their fourth of an acre and the number of these is 820,000. To these facts we must add another, which is notorious, that, whilst the value of rural land has during the last five or six years been decreasing, the value of urban and suburban land has been constantly and rapidly increasing. It will thus be seen that the classes of smaller land owners, not only in point of numbers are not far off from a million, and enjoy a gross rental more than double that of the aristocracy, but that, whilst the aristocracy have been growing as individuals poorer, the bulk of the smaller landowners have been growing as individuals richer.

These figures, it is true, apply to England and Wales only; and it will be thought perhaps that in Ireland, or at all events in Scotland, we shall come across a different story. Such, however, is not the case. We think, indeed, that in Scotland the income of small proprietors from land is an even more striking phenomenon than it is in England. Whereas in England the aristocracy own little more than half the surface of the soil, in Scotland they own something like nine-tenths of it; and yet, the rental of the whole country being eighteen millions, those who own nine-tenths of the soil take of the rental only seven millions, whilst the owners of the remaining tenth actually take eleven millions. Four-fifths of the ground-rental of Edinburgh is taken by owners of less than one acre, the rental of each of such owners being on the average 997. Three-fourths of the ground-rental of Glasgow is taken by owners of similar plots of land; only there the rental of such owners is on the average 1717. In the municipal borough of Kilmarnock, land owned in plots of less than an acre lets per acre at 320.; the land of the few men who own larger plots lets at no more than 20%. Each one of the 11,000 men, who own collectively fourfifths of Edinburgh, has in point of money as much stake in the soil as though he were the owner of nearly 2,000 acres in Sutherland; and each one of the 10,000 men, who own collectively three-fourths of Glasgow, has in point of money as much stake in the soil as though he were the owner in Sutherland of 3400 acres. It is thus evident that, though there are certain large urban properties which yield great and increasing rentals to a few aristocratic proprietors, yet the aggregate wealth of these men is as nothing when compared to that of the multi

tude of small proprietors, who are really the recipients of nearly the whole urban rental of the kingdom. When we consider, then, that the gross rental of the country has been continually increasing, whilst the agricultural rental has for a considerable period been falling, we can see at once, without going further into details, that this increase is the increase of the urban rental exclusively; or, in other words, that, with very unimportant deductions, it is an increase in the income, not of the aristocracy, but of the middle and poorer classes. We say that we can see this without going further into details; but if the reader is anxious to have figures, he will probably find it quite sufficient to learn that the rental of those owners, in England and Scotland, who own estates of less than 50 acres, is now greater by some four millions than the whole agricultural rental of both countries thirty years ago."


And now we conceive that, with regard to the general question of how, under existing conditions, wealth tends to distribute itself, we have said enough to convince even the most incredulous reader of the absolute falsehood of the view that is at present popular. As the most careful exponent of that view we have cited the late Karl Marx. He, so far as we know, was the first person to state it in a scientific form, and the first person who had the courage or the presumption to declare that its truth was demonstrable by exact scientific methods. Marx's work on 'Capital' was published in 1869-in the very middle of the period whose economic history we have been examining; and we are now able to test the theories of the best-informed and most logical of all modern agitators by those actual facts to which he appealed with such arrogant confidence. A more crushing and contemptuous rebuke it is impossible to conceive, than that which these facts administer to one who, in the opinion of his disciples, is the profoundest social philosopher of this or of any century. So far as his estimate goes of existing economic tendencies, whenever he has written a plus sign, history has written a minus sign; whenever he has written a minus sign, history has written a plus sign. His assertion was, that the rich are growing richer and fewer; the middle-class poorer and fewer; and the poorer class poorer and more numerous. History, on the contrary, shows us that the rich are growing poorer and more numerous; that the middle-classes are growing richer and much more numerous; and that the poor, in proportion to these other two classes, are growing at once less numerous

*The gross income of the United Kingdom assessed under Schedule A, for land, in 1851 was 47,800,000l. The gross income of the owners in England and Scotland, of under fifty acres, is at the present moment more than 51,000,000/

and very much richer. Finally, we may place before the reader the following astonishing fact. Socialists and Communists of the extremest and most sanguine type imagine that we should secure a kind of economic millennium, could we only distribute amongst the many the heaped-up riches of the few. A socialistic poet has described this operation as a 'strange new wonderful justice;' and he declares that 'wonderful days' would be ushered in by it, when all should be better than well.' But even the extremest Socialists hardly venture to maintain that it will be practically possible to dispoil the few of everything; and even the most sanguine Socialists have hardly ventured to hope that the process, when once started, can be completed in less than half a century. But let such men, and all who are inclined to listen to them, merely consult the simplest records of history, and they will find that this strange new wonderful' piece of justice has actually accomplished itself during the past thirty years. If we look back to the income of the country in 1851, and make every allowance for the subsequent growth of the population, we shall find that the entire wealth at that time belonging to the rich has since that time been virtually divided amongst the poor.* We shall find that the total income of the poorer classes to-day is equal to the total income of all classes in 1851, and exceeds by a hundred millions the total income of all classes in 1843. In other words the poorer classes to-day are, as a body, in precisely the same situation as they would have been in if, at the time of the first Exhibition, the income of every rich man then in the country had been made over to them in perpetuity.

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So much, then, for the general proposition of the agitator, which we have shown conclusively to be either an ignorant or an impudent falsehood. It remains for us to examine certain particular applications of it, which are even more practically mischievous than the general proposition itself. Of these applications, the most important are those that deal with monarchy and our existing land system. The case with regard to the monarchy can be disposed of with extreme brevity; we will therefore touch upon that first. The few facts brought to light by it are singularly full of instruction.

Most persons who have taken the troublé to follow the received

* In 1851 the gross income of the country was 614,000,000l. The gross amount of incomes under 100%. is at the present time over 620,000,000l. The gross amount of incomes over 150/. was in 1843 about 280,000,000l.; of incomes under 150l. 235,000,000. Thus the income of these classes has increased during the past forty years by 385,0000,000l.-i. e. by 185,000,000l. more than the total income of the richer classes in 1843. The number of the poor meanwhile has only increased from 26,000,000 to 30,000,000.

Vol. 157.-No. 313.

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