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For some time past, remorse had given place in the breast of the Pope to the consciousness of having expiated his errors. His prayers, which had long been accompanied with tears, were now uttered with confidence and serenity; and he was filled with a calm resignation. His last days were probably the happiest of his life; and he sunk at last under the weight of age, rather than misfortune. A palsy slowly consumed him; and he yielded up his life with the same courage with which he had renounced his greatness. Having, during the eighteen months of his exile and imprisonment, been supported by charities which he never solicited, and always declined but when absolutely necessary, he could bequeath nothing to his companions in misery, except a little linen, a few pious books, and the plate he had been allowed to retain for the performance of the ceremonies of religion. Yet, when he was breathing his last, he was told he had no right to make a will, and that all he had belonged to the nation whose prisoner he was !-He died about the end of August 1799, after a longer reign than had fallen to the lot of any Pope since the time of St Peter.
ART. II. Three Letlers on the Game Laws. Rest Fenner,
Black & Co. London, 1818.
been felt, and of late years has certainly rather increased than diminished. We believe that they cannot long remain in their present state; and we are anxious to express our opinion of those changes which they ought to experience.
We thoroughly acquiesce in the importance of encouraging those field sports which are so congenial to the habits of Englishmen, and which, in the present state of society, afford the only effectual counterbalance to the allurements of great towns, We cannot conceive a more pernicious condition for a great nation, than that its aristocracy should be shut up from one year's end to another in a metropolis, while the mass of its rural inhabitants are left to the management of factors and agents, A great man returning from London to spend his summer in the country, diffuses intelligence, improves manners, communicates pleasure, restrains the extreme violence of subordinate politicians, and makes the middling and lower classes better acquainted with, and more attached to their natural leaders. At the same time, a residence in the country gives to the makers of laws an opportunity of studying those interests which they may afterwards be called upon to protect and arrange. Nor ia it unimportant to the character of the higher orders themselves, that they should pass a considerable part of the year in the midst of these their larger families; that they should occasionally be thrown among simple, laborious, frugal people, and be stimulated to resist the prodigality of Courts, by viewing with their own eyes the merits and the wretchedness of the poor.
Laws for the preservation of Game are not only of importance, as they increase the amusements of the country, but they may be so constructed as to be perfectly just. The game which my land feeds is certainly mine; or, in other words, the game which all the land feeds certainly belongs to all the owners of the land; and the only practical way of dividing it is, to give to each proprietor what he can take on his own ground. Those who contribute nothing to the support of the animal, can have so possible right to a share in the distribution. To say of animals, that they are fere Naturá, means only, that the precise place of their birth and nurture is not known. How they sha!! be divided, is a matter of arrangement among those whose collected property certainly has produced and fed them: But the casc is completely made out against those who have no land at all, and who cannot therefore have been in the slightest degree instrumental to their production. If a large pond were divided by certain marks into four parts, and allotted to that number of proprietors; the fish contained in that pond would be, in the same sense, ferie Naturá. Nobody could tell in which particular division each carp had been born and bred. The owners would arrange their respective rights and pretensions in the best way they could : But the clearest of all possible propositions would be, that the four proprietors, among them, made a complete title to all the fish; and that no body but them had the smallest title to the smallest share. This we say, in answer to those who contend that there is no foundation for any system of Game Laws; that animals born wild are the property of the public; and that their appropriation is nothing but tyranny and usurpation.
In addition to these arguments, it is perhaps scarcely necessary to add, that nothing which is worth having, which is accessible, and supplied only in limited quantities, could exist at all, if it was not considered as the property of sonte individual. If every body might take game wherever they found it, there would soon be an end of every species of game. The advantage would not be extended to fresh classes, but be annihilated for all classes. Besides all this, the privilege of killing game could not be granted, without the privilege of trespassing on landed property ;an intolerable evil, which would entirely destroy the comfort and privacy of a country life,
But though a system of Game Laws is of great use in promoting country amusements, and may, in itself, be placed on a footing of justice, its effects, we are sorry to say, are by no means favourable to the morals of the poor.
It is impossible to make an uneducated man understand in what manner a bird, hatched nobody knows where,-to-day living in my field, to-morrow in your's, --should be as strictly property as the goose whose whole history can be traced, in the most authentic and satisfactory manner, from the egg to the spit. The arguments upon which this depends are so contrary to the notions of the poor,--so repugnant to their passions,--and, perhaps, so much above their comprehension, that they are totally unavailing. The same man who would respect an orchard, a garden, or an hen-roost, scarcely thinks he is committing any fault at all in invading the game-covers of his richer neighbour; and as soon as he becomes wearied of honest industry, his first resource is in plundering the rich magazine of hares, pheasants, and partridges—the top and bottom dishes, which on every side of his village are running and flying before his eyes. As these things cannot be done with safety in the day, they must be done in the night;—and in this manner a lawless marauder is often formed, who proceeds from one infringement of law and property to another, till he becomes a thoroughly bad and corrupted member of society.
These few preliminary observations lead naturally to the two principal considerations which are to be kept in view, in reforming the Game Laws;—to preserve, as far as is consistent with justice, the amusements of the rich, and to diminish, as much as possible, the temptations of the poor. And these ends, it seems to us, will be best answered,
1. By abolishing qualifications. 2. By giving to every man a property in the game upon his land. 3. By allowing game to be bought by any body, and sold by its lawful possessors.
Nothing can be more grossly absurd than the present state of the Game Laws, as far as they concern the qualification for shooting. In England, no man can possibly have a legal right to kill game, who has not 1001. a year in land rent. With us in Scotland, the rule is not quite so inflexible, though in principle not very different.—But we shall speak to the case which concerns by far the greatest number : And certainly it is scarcely possible to imagine a more absurd and capricious limitation. For what possible reason is a man, who has only 901. per annum in land, not to kill the game which his own land nourishes? If the Legislature really conceives, as we have heard surmised by certain learned squires, that a person of such a degree of fortune should be confined to profitable pursuitt,
and debarred from that pernicious idleness into which he would be betrayed by field sports, it would then be expedient to make a qualification for bowls and skittles—to prevent small landowners from going to races, or following a pack of houndsand to prohibit, to men of a certain income, every other species of amusement as well as this. The only instance, however, in which this paternal care is exercised, is that in which the amusement of the smaller land-owner is supposed to interfere with those of his richer neighbour. He may do what he pleases, and elect any other species of ruinous idleness but that in which the upper classes of society are his rivals.
Nay, the law is so excessively ridiculous in the case of small landed proprietors, that on a property of less than 100l. per annum, no human being has the right of shooting. It is not confined, but annihilated. The Lord of the Manor may be warned off by the proprietor; and the proprietor may be informed against by any body who sees him sporting. The case is still stronger in the instance of large farms. In Northumberland, and on the borders of Scotland, there are large capitalists, who farm to the amount of two or three thousand per annum, who have the permission of their distant, non-resident landlords, to do what they please with the game, and yet who dare not fire off a gun upon their own land. Can any thing be more utterly absurd and preposterous, than that the landlord and the wealthy tenant together cannot make up a title to the hare which is fattened upon
the choicest produce of their land? That the landlord, who can let to farm the fertility of the land for growing wheat, cannot let to farm its power of growing partridges ? That he may reap by deputy, but cannot on that manor shoot by deputy ? Is it possible that any respectable magistrate could fine a farmer for killing a hare upon his own grounds with his landlord's consent, without feeling that he was violating every feeling of common sense and justice ?
Since the enactment of the Game Laws, there has sprung up an entirely new species of property, which of course is completely overlooked by their provisions. An Englishman may possess a million of money in funds, or merchandise-may be the Baring or the Hope of Europe-provide to Government the sudden means of equipping feets and armies, and yet be without the power of smiting a single partridge, though invited by the owner of the game to participate in his amusement. It is idle
that the difficulty may be got over, by purchasing land; The question is, upon what principle of justice can the existence of the difficulty be defended ? If the right of keeping menservants was confined to persons who had more than one hundred a year in the funds, the difficulty might be got over by every man who would change his landed property to that extent. But what could justily so capricious a partiality to one species of property? There might be some apology for such laws at the time they were made; but there can be none for their not being now accommodated to the changes which time has introduced. If you choose to exclude poverty from this species of amusement, and to open it to wealth, why is it not opened to every species of wealth? What amusement can there be morally lawful to an holder of turnip land, and criminal in a possessor of Exchequer biils? What delights ought to be tolerated to Long Annuities, from which wheat and beans should be excluded ? What matters whether it is scrip or short-horned cattle? If the locus quo is conceded--if the trespass is waived -and if the qualification for any amusement is wealth, let it be any proveable wealth
Dives agris, dives positis in foenore nummis. It will be very easy for any country gentleman who wishes to monopolize to himself the pleasures of shooting, to let to his tenant every other right attached to the land, except the right of killing game; and it will be equally easy, in the formation of a new Game Act, to give to the landlord a summary process against his tenant, if such tenant fraudulently exercises the privileges he has agreed to surrender.
The case which seems most to alarm country gentlemen, is that of a person possessing a few acres in the heart of a manor, who might, by planting food of which they are fond, allure the game into his own little domain, and thus reap an harvest prepared at the expense of the neighbour who surrounded him, But, under the present Game Laws, if the smaller possession belongs to a qualified person, the danger of intrusion is equally great as it would be under the proposed alteration; and the clanger from the poacher would be the same in both cases. But if it is of such great consequence to keep clear from all interference, may not such a piece of land be rented or bought? Or, may not the food which tempts game, be sown in the same abundance in the surrounding as in the enclosed land? After all, it is only common justice, that he whose property is surrounded on every side by a preserver of game, whose corn and turnips are demolished by animals preserved for the amusement of his neighbour, should himself be entitled to that share of game which plunders upon his land. The complaint which the landed grandee makes is this. “ Here is a man who has only a twentyfourth part of the land, and he expects a twenty-fourth part of the game. He is so captious and litigious, that he will not be contented to supply his share of the food, without requiring his share of what the food produces. I want a neighbour who has talents on