22 APRIL 1882, Page 12




SIR,—"Under ordinary circumstances, I would not ask you to allow me in your Columns to comment on your criticism of a paper written by me; but the point raised by my reply to the Duke of Argyll in the Contemporary Review is of such great importance to agriculture that I trust you will permit me to clear up a misapprehension in relation to it. Referring to my contention that as the tenant bears the whole loss of an unsuccessful experiment in agricultural improvement, he ought to receive the full gain of a successful experiment, • you say :—" The pith of the Duke's argument is that a tenant cannot be entitled to the whole benefit of his improvements, becauie without certain inherent qualities in the soil—which belong to the landldrd—those im- provements would not pay. Mr. Bear replies that the inherent qualities are the only things for "which the tenant pays his rent, and therefore they belong to him. He thinks this is admitted, inasmuch as the tenant bears the whole loss.of a mistaken attempt to improve the land. The landlord does not share that. We fancy the landlord would say he did. -His farm is injured, and there- fore its selling value, a point Mr. Bear scarcely sufficiently con- siders." I protest that I do consider this, and that I point out in my paper that under the law, as it is now, the tenant is liable to pay the whole of the damage caused by a mistaken attempt to improve the land. He is responsible for the whole depreciation in the selling or letting value of a farm caused by his acts or defaults. Hence I contend that he should be entitled to the whole increase in the selling or letting value caused by his in- vestment of capital and skill. By ignoring this essential point in my argument, the liability of the tenant for the whole depre- ciation in the value of his holding caused by him, you snake my case appear to be a one-sided piece of special pleading.

The inherent bad qualities of a poor soil, for instance, its ten- dency to produce couch or black grass, or to " run together " like pitch when improperly tilled, are factors in the depreciation for which the tenant is liable. Judgment is from results, in such a case. Then why should not judgment be from results, when the tenant has utilised the inherent good qualities of a rich soil ? If be pays for the total depreciation in one case, why should he not be paid for the total appreciation in the other case ? I do not say, as you make me say, that the inherent qualities of the soil belong to the tenant. I say that their use belongs to him during his tenancy, as he pays rent for them in proportion as they are good, bad, or indifferent, and that he should pay for the bad results of his misuse of them, or be paid for the good results of his beneficial use of them.

Suppose that a marble merchant lets -2100 worth of marble

to a man who wishes to use it for a skating rink, or any other purpose, at a rent of £10, and on the understanding that the hirer will pay for any depreciation in its value when he returns it, or be paid for any improvement he may make in it. If the hirer returns the marble in a worn and scratched condition, he will, of course, pay the whole amount of depreciation. But if he has converted the marble into ornamental mantelpieces, worth £500, ought the marble merchant to refuse to pay him the £400 increase in value, on the ground that the inherent qualities of the marble, without which the ornamental mantelpieces could not have been made, belong to him ? Surely not. The hirer pays rent for the inherent qualities of the marble, he is liable for the whole damage or any depreciation his use of it may have caused, and he is entitled to the whole increase in value due to his sculpture. If the marble merchant gets his £100 worth of marble back, he has nothing to complain of. He has had rent for its use. If he gets less than the original value back, ho is entitled to the difference. If he gets more, he ought to pay the difference. I am here assuming an equitable contract, which seldom exists in the letting of land. It is not of national importance to enforce the principle of such a contract in the case of marble, but it is of national import- ance to enforce it in the case of land.—I am, Sir, &c.,

Wiliam& E. BEAR. Clement's House, Clement's Inn, Passage, TV.C., April 21st.