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The Ships of Tarshish

Chapter XXVI. Being what the Shoemaker threw at his Wife

Chapter XXVI. Being what the Shoemaker threw at his Wife.

It only remains now to relate in what manner Mandevil disposed of the rest of the money, which he had in trust, for he still persisted in considering himself only in the light of a trustee.

But first of all we may mention, what we omitted to state before, that Mandevil's prediction to Norval with respect to the Great D. W. was verified. After the late events, that journal took great credit to itself for the remarkable way in which its predictions and opinions had been verified and confirmed, for, as it said, its readers must have remembered how that all along it had hinted at the great room there was for development in the armour-carrying power of ships, &c. This was certainly remarkable. But what was still more remarkable, thousands of readers implicitly believed in every word of it. But now to the disposal of the money.

There were fifteen millions in all. The two vessels together had nearly cost four millions; the works and establishment in connection with them, more than two millions. Together it made six millions. These ships and works Mandevil handed over to the Government, with the hope that, the way having been indicated, they would follow it up, and by showing what power an essentially peaceful nation had in its hands, conduce to render war impossible. This left nine millions to dispose of, and these he appropriated in equal sums to three different purposes. Three millions he devoted to endowments for national education. Half a million of this was for an establishment for training masters. His schools were especially to take up ground which nobody else seemed inclined to tackle. In other respects also were they to vary from existing orthodox machinery; for the management was to be always liable to the strictest scrutiny as to the actual work done, and not to be allowed to give numberless excellent reasons why it should be page 104exempt from such scrutiny, nor to offer in exchange, proofs of the possession of a dozen other presumably more than counterbalancing good qualities and advantages, all good things in their own way, but not involving efficiency and actual hard work. Of the remaining six millions, he appropriated three for the purpose of improving the lodgings for the poor in the chief cities of the kingdom. The remaining three millions he applied to the furtherance of the new act for Land Registration. Of this he handed over to the Government half a million, on condition that it should be devoted to the purpose of a special survey in connection with such registration. This he had no difficulty in deciding upon at once, as it was a first-sight necessity. But he was puzzled for a time how to apply the remaining two and a half millions. At first he actually thought of bribing down opposition with it. But his independent spirit rebelled against this idea. Another thing struck him too in connection with it. The sum was a large one, but it was insignificant in relation to the receptive capacity of the void into which it would be directed. At last a happy idea struck him, and which, as it afterwards proved, completely solved the difficulty. The money was placed in trust for the purpose of buying up large estates whenever they came into the market. These estates were brought under the operation of the Registration Act, cut up into small lots, and resold at a moderate profit. Thus the money went on increasing; new estates were bought and again resold. The thing once indicated, the example was soon followed by companies which were formed for the purpose, and people at last became aware, that it was not the law of primogeniture which had hitherto operated against small land-holdings, but simply the expense of the barbarous method of land transfer, which had always taken the cream off any investment in it on a small scale. After two or three years, there was a run by land-holders in general upon the Registration Office, for the purpose of placing their titles upon its books; and it was now that the benefit of the survey which Mandevil's forethought had provided for, and which was in a pretty advanced state by that time, was appreciated. Upon the whole, Mandevil prided himself more upon the success of this last idea, than he did upon that of his Ships of Tarshish.

Wyman and Sons, printers, Great Queen Street, Lincoln's Inn Viklus. W C.

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