6 FEBRUARY 1886, Page 11



[To THE EDITOR OR THE "SPECTATOR."] S111,-1 should like, by your favour, to put one or two questions to your correspondent, "A Workman." He evidently writes in

good faith, but, I think, hardly realises all the bearings of his assertions concerning rent as a "privilege."

If his father or grandfather had bequeathed to him a sum of money, would he, or would he not, think himself entitled to the interest on that money ? If the money had been laid out in land or in a house, would he, or would he not, think himself entitled to the rent of such land or house, representing the interest on the purchase-money?

My great-great-grandfather (himself an Irishman) laid put money in the purchase of certain estates in Ireland. Are his descendants entitled, or are they not, to the income of this property inherited from him,—income which represents the interest on his own money, which he regarded as providing for his family P The case of that family is the case of the large majority of the landed proprietors of Ireland. They hold land which either they or their fathers purchased.

I am not disputing that the interest called "rent" may, lite other interest, equitably vary. What I say is that to repudiate it altogether, or forcibly to reduce it by large amounts, is im- moral and dishonest. Yet this is what the English democracy seem likely to approve in the matter of Irish rents. I know they are moved by a generous horror of past misdeeds:the natural consequences of an evil system in Ireland. But in the result, they are grossly unjust (probably because they really know little about them) to the present generation of Irish land- lords. And if they, the English democracy, instead of teaching the Irish democracy their own better traditions of fairplay and honesty, encourage Irish tenants to take advantage of the present weakness of Irish landlords to "exterminate "them by robbery of their rents, these Englishmen will have struck such a blow at national credit as this British Empire has never known.