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any of the class of small landed proprietors above referred to ; partly because they rarely hold land by long leases, and partly that they would not be able to make an immediate payment to the required extent. Something might be done to facilitate this result ; partly perhaps by legislative enactments, partly by influencing public opinion. The purchase by a small farmer of his own farm might be freed from all stamp duty. Encouragement might be given to leases on long terms, with powers to fine down the rent from time to time, and finally to purchase the fee itself. Thus might we hope to create an independent yeomanry, thus might we encourage the exertions of the people, and emulate in our small farms the indefatigable industry, the careful garden cultivation of Belgium and Switzerland.
It may be useful to look to the experience of other countries, both as respects large estates, and the effect of small properties on the industry and comforts of the people.
Spain is held in large estates strictly entailed. The great mass of the people are deprived of all interest in the soil. The land is ill cultivated. Her peasantry are indolent and poor. M'Culloch, in reference to the low state of agriculture, makes the following remarks : “Probably moral causes have “ had still more influence than physical, in retard
“ing the progress of agriculture in the Peninsula. “ At the head of the former must be placed the “ vast extent of the lands, belonging to the nobi“lity, clergy, and corporations. Mr. Townsend “mentions that the estates of three great lords “ the dukes of Osuna, Alba, and Medina Cæli, “ cover nearly the whole of the immense province “ of Andalusia ; and several in the other provinces “ are hardly less extensive. These vast possessions “are uniformly held under strict entail ; and, “ speaking generally, are all managed by stewards, “ anxious only to remit money to their masters, who “ are frequently in embarrassed circumstances. The “ younger branches of the great families, though “ they inherit all their pride, inherit little or none “ of their wealth. They are for the most part ex“ ceedingly ill educated, and when not employed in “ government service, pass their days in a state of “ slothful dependence."*
Arthur Young refers to the Island of Sardinia in the following terms : “What keeps it in its “ present unimproved situation, is chiefly the extent 6 of estates, the absence of some very great proprie“ tors, and the inattention of all. The duke of “ Assinara has 300,000 livres a year, or £15,000 “ sterling ; the duke of St. Piera has 160,000 ; the
* M'Culloch's Geographical Dictionary, art. Spain.
“ Marchese di Pascha has a very great property. “ Many of them live in Spain. The Conde de “ Girah, a grandee of Spain, has an estate of two “ days journey, reaching from Pinta to Oliustra. “ The peasants are a miserable set that live in poor “ cabins, without other chimneys than a hole in the “ roof to let the smoke out.* In this magnificent island, which is nearly half the size of Ireland, the population scarcely exceeds 500,000. Since Young's time, some improvement has taken place, but it still appears to be in a miserable condition. It is even worse than Ireland. M‘Culloch thus describes it : “The division of the island into “ immense estates, most of which were acquired by “ Spanish grandees; the want of leases, and the “ restrictions on industry, have paralysed the in“ dustry of the inhabitants, and sunk them to the “ lowest point in the scale of civilization. Since “ 1750, however, improvements of various kinds “ have been slowly, but gradually gaining ground; “ and within the last few years, several important “ and substantial reforms have been introduced, " that will, it is to be hoped, conspire to raise this “ fine island from the abyss into which it has been “ cast by bad laws and bad government.”+
The beneficial effects of a numerous proprietary
* Young's Tour in France, vol. 2, page 267.
are equally evident, whether we look to the cold and sterile lands of Norway, to the carefully irrigated plains of Northern Italy, to the mountain fastnesses of Switzerland, or the swampy polders of Holland and Belgium. “ In Norway the land “ is parcelled out into small estates, affording a “ comfortable subsistence, and in a moderate de“gree the elegancies of civilized life, but nothing
more. With a population of 910,000 inhabitants “ about the year 1819, there were 41,656 estates.” “ In Norway the law of succession has prevented “ property from being accumulated in large masses. “ The estates of individuals are in general small ; “ and the houses, furniture, food, comforts, ways “ and means of living among all classes appear to “ approach more nearly to an equality to one “ standard, than in any country in Europe. This “ standard is far removed from any want or dis“ comfort on the one hand, and from any luxury “ or display on the other. The actual partition of - the land itself, seems in practice not to go below “ such a portion of land as will support a family “ comfortably, according to the habits and notions “ of the country; and it is indeed evident that a “ piece of ground without houses on it, and too “ small to keep a family according to the national “ estimation of what is requisite, would be of no
“ value as a separate property. The heirs accord“ ingly either sell to each other or sell the whole to “ a stranger and divide the proceeds."*
The fertility and careful cultivation of Northern Italy is the theme of every traveller. “No where " is the art of irrigation carried to greater per“ fection than in that part of the great plain of the “ Po included in Piedmont. Water is here mea" sured with as much accuracy as wine, an hour
per week is sold, and the fee simple of the water “ is attended to with the same solicitude as that of “ the land. The irrigated lands being under the " influence of a southern sun, produce the most “ luxuriant crops... Savoy, which is remarkable for " the grandeur and beauty of its scenery, though a “ poor country, produces sufficient for the wants of “ its inhabitants. The peasants are all or mostly all “ proprietors ; on the high grounds, the peasants “ break up the soil with the pickaxe and spade, “ and, to improve it, carry up mould and manure “ in baskets from the valleys. The plough is of 6 use only in the valleys. Small reservoirs are “ prepared near the tops of the hills and moun
tains, from which water is let out at pleasure “ in spring and summer, while to prevent the 6 earth from being washed down the declivity,
* Laing's Norway, pages 162 and 280.