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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

5.—Folcland granted away to Royal favourites

5.—Folcland granted away to Royal favourites.

By a natural enough confusion of ideas, however, the kings of England were apt to jumble together their bôcland, or private estate, and the folcland, or land of the nation, which they held as the stewards and governors of the nation. In other words, they confounded the ideas of property and sovereignty. Accordingly the folcland, the public, the national property, has been almost entirely granted away to private subjects. At last after William III. had greatly impoverished the crown by making large grants to Dutchmen, an act m passed at the commencement of the succeeding reign, whereby all future grants or leases from the crown for any longer term than thirty-one years, or three lives, are declared to be void; except with regard to houses, which may be granted for fifty years. But this act, as Blackstone observes, was made too late, after almost every valuable possession of the crown had been granted away for ever, or else upon very long leases. From the result Black-stone draws the following conclusions, on which it will be necessary to make one or two observations:—

"The public patrimony being got into the hands of private subjects, it is but reasonable that private contributions should supply the public service. Which, though it may perhaps fall harder upon some individuals, whose ancestors have had no share in the general plunder, than upon others, yet, taking the nation throughout, it amounts to nearly the same; provided the gain by the extraordinary should appear to be no greater than the loss by the ordinary revenue. And perhaps if every gentleman in the kingdom was to be stripped of such of his lands as were formerly the property of the crown, was to be again subject to the inconveniences of purveyance and preemption, the oppression of forest laws, ana the slavery of feudal tenures, and was to resign into the king's hands all his royal franchises of waifs, wrecks, estrays, treasure trove, mines, deodands, forfeitures, and the like, he would find himself a greater loser than by paying his quota to such taxes as are necessary to the support of government" n.