England's Ideal, and Other Papers on Social Subjects

By Edward Carpenter | Go to book overview

PRIVATE PROPERTY.

"For property alone Law was made."

-- Macaulay

"For I will have none who will not open his door to all; treating others as I have treated him.

"The trees that spread their boughs against the evening sky, the marble that I have prepared beforehand these millions of years in the earth, the cattle that roam over the myriad hills -- they are Mine, for all my children --

"If thou lay hands on them for thyself alone, thou art accursed."

IT is common enough for a large owner -- say of land -- not to know his own property, certainly not the limits of it, by sight. And it may be asked in what sense such person owns such land.

To own means to confess, to recognise, to acknowledge. A shepherd owns his sheep: he knows each one from the others; a man owns his neighbor in the street. But this one does not even recognise his land when he sees it. His servants, the common people in his neighborhood, know more about his property than he does.

This may sound strange, but, in fact, I believe there is very little land in this country but what is owned in this sort of way. The legal owner -- even if he knows the exact boundaries -- knows little really

-139-

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