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to“ dress," ' has not a syllable of reprehension for the portentous incongruities of this mature and elaborate poem. On the other hand, even Gifford's editorial enthusiasm could not overestimate the ingenious excellence of construction, the masterly harmony of composition, which every reader of the argument must have observed with such admiration as can but intensify his regret that scarcely half of the projected poem has come down to us. No work of Ben Jonson's is more amusing and agreeable to read, as none is more nobly graceful in expression or more excellent in simplicity of style.

The immense influence of this great writer on his own generation is not more evident or more memorable than is the refraction or reverberation of that influence on the next. This sovereign sway and masterdom,' this overpowering preponderance of reputation, could not but be and could not but pass away. No giant had ever the divine versatility of a Shakespeare: but of all the giant brood none ever showed so much diversity of power as Jonson. In no single work has he displayed such masterly variety of style as has Byron in his two great poems, Don Juan and The Vision of Judgment: the results of his attempts at mixture or fusion of poetry with farce will stand exposed in all their deformity and discrepancy if we set them beside the triumphant results of Shakespeare's. That faultless felicity of divine caprice which harmonizes into such absolute congruity all the outwardly incompatible elements of such works as Twelfth Night and The Tempest, the Winter's Tale and A Midsummer Night's Dream, is perhaps of all Shakespeare's incomparable gifts the one most utterly beyond reach of other poets. But when we consider the various faculties and powers of Jonson's genius and intelligence, when we examine severally the divers forces and capaci. ties enjoyed and exercised by this giant workman in the performance of his work, we are amazed into admiration only less in its degree than we feel for the greatest among poets. It is not admiration of the same kind : there is less in it of love and worship than we give to the gods of song: but it is with deep reverence and with glowing gratitude that we salute in this Titan of the English stage "il maestro di color che sanno.'



Is it to the interest of the Church or of the nation to preserve the existing connection of the clergy with the land ?

Two preliminary remarks may serve to limit and to clear the ground. In the first place the issue raised is obviously different from the question of Disestablishment and Disendowment, and the two subjects will be kept, so far as possible, entirely distinct. In the second place the question cannot be dismissed with the objection that the severance of clerical incomes from the land would maim the Church by cutting that bond of common interest with farmers and landlords which at present binds her to every class of the community. The Church would still stand towards landed interests in the same position which she occupies towards trade and manufacture. The change would only render relations uniform which are now anomalous; the connection of the land with the Church would cease to be that of debtor and creditor.

No statistics need be adduced to prove the prevalence of agricultural distress. A crisis which picks your pocket is an abstraction in a concrete form. Unfortunately no certain sign of relief is visible on the immediate horizon. Periods of depression as severe and as prolonged have before now yielded to cycles of prosperity. But a new element, entirely unknown in the previous history of agriculture, is now for the first time present. Farmers are baffled by no passing revolt of Nature's wayward team; they are confounded by the problem of foreign competition. The past throws no light upon the future because the road on which we travel is strange.

An old country, like England, does not compete in the production of cereals on even terms with virgin soils, and the stereotyped wants of an advanced civilisation deprive her of the advantages which India possesses in her labour-market. It may be that the worst of the competition is over so far as American and Canadian wheat is concerned; but India will be an increasingly dangerous rival as her imperfect railway system becomes developed. Our farmers can still grow more wheat per acre than any of their foreign rivals; but the pre-eminence is a barren honour, when the crop is only raised at

a loss.

The crisis is more serious because the competition is felt in the

staple products of English agriculture. Quantity and quality within a limited range is the feature of our farming; the energies of our farmers are concentrated upon beef, bread, and beer for the million. All our eggs are in one basket, and that basket has the bottom out.

The rough remedy of Protection seems impracticable. The time may come when artisans will grow tired of contemplating the cheap loaf inside the baker's window; but they will demand import duties upon manufactured goods and not on raw agricultural produce. Be this as it may, it seems suicidal to make such questions the shibboleths of party, and to stake famine on a throw for office.

If Protection is impossible, agriculture must rely on its own efforts for relief, and agriculturists must turn in fresh directions to find new levers of farming prosperity. A partial change of front appears to be necessary.

In the sixteenth century commercial and social changes combined to transform England from an arable into a pasture country; in the eighteenth century the rapid growth of population necessitated the complete reversal of farming methods. Both these agricultural revolutions were accompanied by distress and suffering to which the present crisis affords no adequate parallel. In the first case landlords withdrew from the old agrarian partnerships ; agricultural communities were dissolved; whole districts were depopulated to make room for the shepherd, his dog, and his flock. In the second case the old self-sufficing industry was rendered impossible when farmers, who lay down at night confident in their powers to supply the wants of their own families, were roused in the morning by the cry for food, which rose from crowded haunts of trade and manufacture. It was necessary to bring into cultivation every available acre ; farms were consolidated at the expense of village communities, small tenants, and yeoman proprietors; wastes and commons were enclosed ; millions of acres were added to the profitable occupation of the soil.

A less complete agricultural revolution is required at the present crisis, and its character seems to be not obscurely indicated. Under ordinary circumstances it is idle to foretell events unless you know. Yet if the past affords no guidance, it is difficult to avoid prophecy, even though it is the only purely gratuitous form which human error

can assume.

Wages have risen in falling markets; agricultural labourers work less, are more independent, and require more constant supervision. The best labour is not only scarce but dear. This difficulty may be met by the employment of machinery on large farms, or by the multiplication of small holdings, which may be tilled by the occupier and his family. Again: it is hopeless to think of reviving artificial protection. Farmers must therefore defy foreign competition by raising the bighest class of agricultural produce, or fall back upon the natural monopoly which home producers enjoy over their distant

rivals; in other words, we must look to large farms to grow the finest beef, mutton, and veal in the world, and to the rapidly perishable produce of small dairy, fruit, market garden, and poultry farms. Lastly, the essence of farming on virgin soils is extension; on old land it is intension. And intension may consist in the application to the land either of increased capital and increased science, or of the self-interested indefatigable labour of a peasant tenantry or perhaps of a peasant proprietary. Thus the future seems to point to the extinction of middle-sized farms, on which hired labour is necessary ; the retention of large tenancies, on which the highest farming can be practised; and the multiplication of small holdings, which can be tilled by the occupiers or the owners.

Foreign experience confirms this conclusion. In Germany and France the agricultural crisis has proved hardly less severe than in England. In France, for instance, agriculture exhibits every sign of depression, and the complaints of our tenant-farmers are reproduced with the most curious minuteness of detail. If French farmers have suffered less severely than their English brethren, it is because they are more economical and have laboured to save, instead of hurrying to make, a fortune. Agriculturists of the school of Arthur Young resolve at local meetings that the only remedy is high farming ; champions of the peasant proprietor point out that he has, comparatively speaking, enjoyed the lee of the storm. If the view taken of the future of English farming be correct, both schools are right. For large tenant-farmers the only resource is high farming, while peasant cultivators have least to dread from the state of the labour market or from foreign competition.

The partial change of front in England requires a considerable expenditure of capital. On the one hand, farmers have lost their money, and landlords must undertake alone agricultural improvements to which their larger tenants formerly contributed; on the other, the multiplication of small holdings necessitates the erection of three or four sets of buildings where one previously sufficed. Yet if the prevailing sense of insecurity were replaced by the old feeling of confidence, the change would be, it is believed, rapidly effected. But landlords will not adventure capital when they do not know that rights of property will hold good to-morrow; farmers hold their hands in hope of the extension to England of Irish land-legislation; labourers grudge to work for others upon soil which they are assured is theirs by natural right. Thus agriculture lingers on in a state of suspended animation, infecting all classes with its own disease. If foreign competition is the fever which first prostrated farming industries, insecurity is the constitutional derangement which prevents agriculture from rallying, and steadily eats its way towards the seat of its vital energies.

The conclusions drawn as to the present and future of English farming are, of course, open to dispute ; but, for the present argument, they are assumed to be correct. They may be thus summarised. The existing depression is not a passing phenomenon, but a more or less permanent condition; the distress will increase unless a partial change of front is effected, and this change of front requires a large expenditure of capital. How do these considerations bear upon the question, whether or not it is the interest of the Church or of the nation to preserve the existing connection of the clergy with the land ?

No one can deny that the prolonged depression has told with tremendous force upon the temporal condition of the clergy, and brought into strong relief the anomalies of their position as the spiritual advisers and hard-pressed creditors of bankrupt parishioners. It is easy to attempt to laugh the grim facts out of court by asserting a close time for curates to be the true remedy for clerical distress; it is equally easy to forget that the celibacy of the clergy differs toto coelo from the ordinary celibacy of the laity. The known sufferings of the rural clergy have aroused widespread sympathy, and yet it is more than probable that the worst cases still remain concealed. If the present depression is not a passing phenomenon, there is no reason to suppose that there will be any increase, except in the remote future, in the rental of glebe-owners, or any material rise, for the next quarter of a century, in the corn averages on which depend the incomes of tithe-owners. In other words, no immediate improvement is likely to take place in circumstances which not only reduce many of the clergy to grinding poverty, but narrow the sphere of their spiritual influence in rural districts.

Further if, to prevent greater loss, a partial change of front is absolutely essential, the clergy must bear their share in the necessary expenditure of capital. Are they in a position to make the required outlay? Are they qualified to act as the brains of a small farm system, which, in its early stages, must depend for its success on the union of capital and intelligence with labour ? If they cannot themselves superintend the management of the land, or supervise the expenditure of the money, can they afford, out of their diminished stipends, to employ skilled agents to supply their deficiencies? Will not the clergy, in the vast majority of cases, become drags upon progress? If they lag behind, there are thousands ready to make political capital out of their shortcomings, thousands who will point out with reason that they are not, and by their profession ought not to be, in the first flight of the race of agricultural enterprise.

Failing this change of front, which can only be effected by a liberal and well-directed outlay of private capital, we must contemplate embittered hostility, increased friction, narrowed areas of spiritual influence, parishioners alienated from religion itself through the faults of the social and economical system with which it is acci

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