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bor it was raised. As labor is the measure of value, a quantity of wheat which represents five days' labor must be exchangeable for a quantity of cloth which also represents five days' labor, — no more and no less; —- no more, because this would induce the cloth-maker to turn farmer; no less, because the farmer would then turn cloth-maker. No man will give six days' labor in any one product for another product which he might himself raise in five days. And though it may be said, that he who has long practised a particular trade or art will be reluctant to exchange it for another, as he would thereby sacrifice the skill which he has obtained by experience, and be obliged to serve another apprenticeship to a new handicraft or profession, it must be remembered, that all employments can be kept full only by a succession of young and fresh hands constantly entering them, and these persons will choose, of course, the occupation that is most profitable. Thus the number of those who pursue the art which is underpaid will rapidly diminish, while the number in the more profitable branches of industry will increase, until an equality of gains among all these branches is reestablished. Exchanges then regulate themselves, and must be made on equal terms. The farmer having received a fair compensation for his work, the miller next obtains the wheat, and, having converted it into flour, sells it to the flour-merchant at an advanced price, because more labor is now vested in it. In like manner, it passes successively into the hands of the retail dealer, the baker, and the consumer, at each stage acquiring an additional value in exchange just sufficient to compensate, on an average, the labor expended upon it at that stage.
Competition, then, when it is free, or competition modified by custom, determines the distribution of the value of a product among those who have concurred in its production. How far it may be modified by custom depends on circumstances. Mr. Mill justly observes, that competition has become "the governing principle of contracts only at a comparatively modern period"; and that athe relations, more especially, between the land-owner and the cultivator, and the payments made by the latter to the former, are, in all stages of society but the most modern, determined by the usage of the country." It was thus that, in many European countries, the serfs were gradually elevated, first into the condition of free tenants, and finally of absolute owners of the soil. Then original obligation, to furnish to then lords an indefinite amount of provisions and labor, was first transformed into a definite payment of a fixed amount of either; these payments in kind were next commuted for payments in money, which were established by custom at so early a period, and therefore at so small an amount, that they became mere quitrents; and the land was finally ransomed even from these quitrents by commutation on reasonable terms, so that the former serfs became absolute proprietors of the ground.
While the peasantry in most countries of Continental Europe were thus not only emancipated, but secured from want by the ownership of the ground which they formerly tilled as slaves, the agricultural laborers of England were far less fortunate. All landed property in England was equally of feudal origin; that is, the land was admitted to belong originally to the state, and the immediate vassals of the crown, or the tenants in capite, held it only on condition of rendering certain services and payments, that might be considered as rent. Just so, the practice of sub-infeudation being introduced, these vassals of the crown parcelled out then respective lands to a set of inferior tenants, many of whom were originally serfs, on condition, first, of certain services and supplies being rendered, next, of a definite payment in kind, and then, of an ordinary money rent. Thus the inferior tenantry were the vassals of the great landholder, in the same manner, and upon the same terms, upon which the latter was a vassal of the crown, both being still called tenants in the language of the law. As the prerogatives of the crown were gradually diminished, and the liberties of the people increased, the nobility and landed gentry, the original tenants in chief, gradually lessened the feudal burdens upon then land, which consisted in services and payments, and finally, in Charles the Second's time, shook off the remnant of them altogether, artfully exchanging what had become a mere land-tax for an excise on beer and ale. Thus they became absolute owners of their holdings or tenements. But they had no disposition to make the same concessions to their own tenantry, which they had themselves exacted from the crown. The English peasantry have not been able to retain their lands, even on condition of paying the full original rent for them. They have subsided into the class of tenants at ivill) ground down by rack-rents for a century or two, and at last expelled from the land altogether, to find their subsistence where they may. The feudal dues from the lands of the tenants in chief were slowly transformed into a species of land-tax, and at last abrogated entirely; while the same dues from the lands of the inferior tenantry were transformed into annual rents, augmented in amount by every improvement of the land in value, and when the peasants,, from misfortune or bad management, could no longer pay them, they were ejected from the estate altogether, and became mere laborers for wages, or paupers.
The Scotch Highlanders have suffered still more grievous injustice. The Gaelic tenant was never conquered; he did not obtain his land from the liberality of his lord, but was originally a fellow-proprietor with him, or rather with his clan. The chief whom he followed to battle regarded him at first as his friend and relation, then as his soldier, afterward as his vassal, still later as his farmer, and finally as his tenant and hired laborer, whom he might employ for a time, but might banish from the estate when he had no further need of his services. Even the name of the clansmen, Klaan, in Gaelic signifies children. All their usages, all their reciprocal relations, all their affections, were founded on the tradition that they wrere the offspring of one family; all their rights were those of the children of a common parent to the common patrimony. The chieftain exercised, perhaps he usurped, the right of dividing the land among them, and even of frequently altering this distribution. It was a matter of public policy with the Celts, as well as with the Germans, that families should frequently, even annually, change their position in the district which belonged to them, lest they should become too much attached to the fields which they cultivated, and thus be unfitted for war, and averse to undertaking military expeditions. But though their locations were altered, the vacated places were occupied by other members of the same clan, and the chieftain could not alienate any portion of the common property. The tenure of the lands remained the same; the assessment for the public defence, the annual contribution for the chieftain who ruled them and led them to battle, were never augmented.
The first step in the usurpation was to grant the tacks, or portions of land, to the vassals for a fixed period of time. This appeared to be a concession, as formerly the occupants could be changed at will; but in truth it was a usurpation, for now, instead of filling the vacated places with other clansmen on precisely the same conditions, the lands came to be considered as farms, and at each renewal of the lease new terms might be imposed, and a higher rent demanded. Thus the Highland lords, who were rightfully entitled only to an invariable rent levied on the property of the clan, obtained at last an absolute ownership of the domain which paid this rent. Still they were far from believing that the time would come when they would take advantage of the renewal of the leases, not merely to raise the rent, but to expel their vassals from the estate. But the period arrived for this change also to be effected. "Since the beginning of the present century," says Sismondi, "the nation of the Highlanders or Gauls, the descendants of the ancient Celts, now reduced to 340,000 souls, has been almost entirely expelled from its home by the very persons whom it regarded as its chieftains, and to whom it had shown for so many centuries an enthusiastic devotion. The territory which they had cultivated from generation to generation, under a fixed rent, has been taken from them and devoted to the pasturage of flocks guarded by herdsmen who are strangers; their houses and villages have been razed to the ground or destroyed by fire, while the unhappy people have been forced, either to build cabins on the sea-shore, and endeavor to maintain their miserable existence by fishing, or to cross the ocean to seek their fortune in the back-settlements of America." "It is only within the last five-and-thirty years," says Mr. Thornton, writing in 1845, "that the straths and glens of Sutherland have been cleared of their inhabitants, and that the whole country has been converted into one immense sheepwalk, over which the traveller may proceed for forty miles together without seeing a tree or a stone wall, or anything but a heath dotted with sheep and lambs." And the example of Sutherland has been imitated in the neighboring counties. The effect of custom in modifying competition has also been seen in Ireland, where the custom of what is called tenantright has sprung up, prevailing almost universally in the north, and gradually extending itself into the centre and west of that unhappy country. "My view of tenant-right," says Mr. Senior, "is, that it is the difference between the rent actually charged by the landlord according to the custom of the country, and the utmost competition value." In some cases, it is said to be founded o'n improvements made by the tenant on his farm, the beneficial effects of which are not exhausted, so that the outgoing tenant claims a right to sell them. The landlords, most of whom are absentees, and therefore unable to watch and know the changes which time produces on the annual value of their estates, have so long received an unvarying sum as the rent of each farm, and each farm has remained so long in the possession of one tenant, that the customary rent is now considered as all which the landlord is entitled to receive; and whatever the land is really worth beyond this sum accrues to the benefit of the tenant. If this tenant wishes to quit the holding, custom gives him the right to sell what we should call "the good-will of the farm" for his own benefit; that is, the incoming tenant pays his predecessor a handsome bonus for the privilege of taking the farm on the old, fixed rent, which is now much below the annual value of the ground. An enterprising landlord sometimes buys up this "right" for himself, in order that he may once again enter into full possession of his property.
Custom is here seen modifying the full effect of competition on the price of land, because the farm is not actually let to the highest bidder; and it often has equal influence on the prices of other commodities. Among the publishers of books, for example, the courtesy of the trade, as it is termed, often restrains one house from issuing a rival edition of a work unprotected by copyright before the edition published by another, who first risked the enterprise, is exhausted. So, also, as Mr. Mill remarks, "all professional remuneration is regulated by custom. The fees of physicians, surgeons, and barristers, the charges of attorneys, are nearly invariable. Not certainly for want of abundant competition in those professions; but because the competition operates by diminishing each competitor's chance of fees, not by lowering the fees themselves."