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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 14

56.—Unjustifiable position of the Landowners

56.—Unjustifiable position of the Landowners.

The nature and peculiar difficulties of the subject have compelled me to go into the evidence at a length which must have appeared tedious, and to enter into investigations, some of which may appear to be rather curious in an antiquarian point of view than of any practical utility at the present day. It must be borne in mind, however, that to perform inquiry with any degree of completeness, it was necessary to carry it back to the very foundations of the monarchy, since, in fact, the foundations of that and the foundations of the present argument are one and the same. It is not pretended that any fresh conquest of the country has been made since the time of William I.; consequently every acre of land in these kingdoms is held under a title derived from William the Conqueror. The very complicated, as well as dry and uninviting, nature of the subject, involving at once legal subtleties and financial calculations, must be viewed as the cause why a change in the constitution of this country, by which a class of its inhabitants, at the expense of all the other classes, secured to themselves advantages such as might have been supposed attainable only by the sword of a conqueror, was at first permitted, and has been so long endured by a nation of men who have shown, on many occasions, such capacity to redress grievances and to rid themselves of oppression. In a certain sense the Restoration of 1660 and the Revolution of 1688 may be viewed as conquests. For an act by which certain valuable immunities which had been secured to one class of British subjects, by a course of settled law that had continued for 660 years, were at once, without compensation, taken from them and conferred upon another class, though it may not have the name, has all the operation of a conquest. If the landholders can make out, to the satisfaction of their fellow countrymen, that they conquered the Island of Great Britain, and acquired the same to them ami their heirs for ever discharged of all conditions at the Revolution of 1688, my argument in a constitutional point of view falls to the ground. But if they fail in establishing that conclusion, I apprehend that all the consequences for which I contend inevitably follow.