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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 3


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The interest expressed in the following papers when read at the recent meeting of the Social Science Association in Belfast, encourages the hope that their publication in a separate form may promote the cause of Order and Progress in Ireland. The investigation—of which the chief results are briefly submitted*—was prompted by the conviction that

* I gladly take this opportunity of expressing my grateful thanks for the valuable assistance so kindly and liberally afforded to my inquiries by many German gentlemen, particularly the following:—Dr. Versmann, Senator of Hamburg; Dr. Gneist, Professor of Law, Berlin University; Dr. Lette, Chief Judge of the Prussian Court of Appeal for Land-legislation Causes; Dr. George von Bunsen, Member of the Prussian Parliament; Dr. Meitzen, Privy Councillor; Dr. Thaer, Professor of Agriculture, Berlin University; Dr. Hannsen, Professor of Political Economy, Berlin University; Mr. William Hertz, Publisher, Berlin; Dr. Engel, Director of the Statistical Bureau, Berlin; Dr. Boeckh, of the same office; Dr. Reichensperger, Judge of the Appellate Court, Berlin; Privy Councillor Schumann, of the Prussian Ministry of Agriculture; Privy Councillor Heyder, Director of the Rent-Bank for the Province of Brandenburg'; Mr. Kuesel, of the same office: at Dresden, Privy Councillor Kuenzel; and Privy Councillor Leonhardi, Director of the Rent-Bank for the Kingdom of Saxony; at Bonn, Dr Nasse, Professor of Political Economy, University of Bonn; and Dr. Hartstein, Director of the Royal Academy of Agriculture, Popplesdorf, near Bonn. I was also indebted for information as to the Prussian Land-credit Associations of Proprietors to Count zu Eulenburg of the Ministry for Home Affairs, and Mr. Petsch of the Association for the Province of Brandenburg. Their Land Debentures are incidentally referred to, but any account of these institutions would have been foreign to the immediate scope of my essay. They deserve, however, special mention as institutions which, although founded long before Stein's reforms were commenced, have greatly facilitated the transformation of the feudal nobility into heads of agricultural industry, by furnishing them with the means of carrying out land-improvements, and the floating capital essential for improved agriculture.

page vi the accounts hitherto accessible to the English public*; while affording much valuable and interesting information, failed to present an accurate, consistent, and complete view of the great Prussian landtenure reforms primarily and most justly associated with the name of Stein. Those reforms may well be deemed great which more than any others transformed the discontent and profound apathy of a large agricultural population into prosperous industry and loyal devotedness. On that ground chiefly, though by no means alone, they struck me as meriting a careful and full examination, in themselves and in their bearings on the Irish land question.
It has been asserted, repeatedly and recently asserted, by authorities whose title to consideration I do not wish to treat with disrespect, that Fenianism has no hold over the tenant-farmers of Ireland. If they meant that farmers who have something to lose will not compromise themselves by an alliance with hopeless insurrection; if they

* While obliged to differ on some points of importance from Mr. D. C. Heron, and Mr. John Levy, I feel pleasure in acknowledging the assistance derived from the "History of Jurisprudence" of the former, and the "Letters on the Prussian Land-Laws" of the latter gentleman.

page vii meant that very many, among all classes of Irish society, place their trust and seek the remedy for evils, however real and grievous, in the improved sentiments of their fellow-citizens and the growth of a sounder public opinion, rather than in conspiracy and violence; I should see no ground for dissent. But if they mean to deny the existence in Ireland of wide-spread discontent and profound unbelief in the justice of the governing classes; or to assert that the Irish land-question can be solved by laissez faire, diminished competition, and other exaggerations of a spurious political economy; it is well to know that those who, like the writer, reject such views as untrue and unstatesmanlike, can appeal to authorities well acquainted with the condition of Ireland, and to the experience of a great European Kingdom—extending over half a century and continuing down to our own time—the example of whose land-tenure reforms has been followed and emulated throughout almost the entire of Germany. Such an example ought surely to have weight, even with those who insist that every measure which does not fall in with the peculiar conditions of the actual English system must, for that reason alone, be abnormal and exceptional. This disposition, more than any other, prevents a clear insight into the Irish problem. Its gradual disappearance under the influence of a wiser spirit will, therefore, be earnestly desired by all who promote a rational policy, and expect its realization through the growth of an enlightened and page vii sympathetic public opinion in Great Britain and Ireland.

Those who are practically acquainted with the German land-tenure reforms will, doubtless, miss some topics familiar to them, and in particular the important legislation by which the scattered parcels of the peasant proprietors were gradually converted into compact farms. Its practical influence has been very great; but the subject being foreign to our experience, would have called for developments inconsistent with my limits, and even calculated to distract attention from the most essential points for the public of these countries. Should the present publication meet a favourable reception, I may hereafter be able to offer information on these and like matters connected with the Land-question in Germany and other States of Western Europe.

Henry Dix Hutton.

10, Mountjoy-Street, Dublin,