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opposed to truth (see p. 65 and the statistical information on p. 153), and on which the French supporters of primogeniture relied as much as some of the modern advocates of “ Anerbenrecht.”
The developments of English land law in the direction of freedom of alienation are dwelt on in the second article, and a third article, pointing out the reasons why peasant holdings are prevalent in Bavaria, whilst in the eastern parts of Prussia large estates preponderate, shows that the development of the varieties of agricultural ownership and tepancies are dependent to a very small extent only on legal rules as to tenure and transmission (see p. 253). This is also shown by the very interesting article on the proposed introduction of "Anerbenrecht" into Bavaria, which, commenting on the results of a Government inquiry as to the devolution of land among peasant proprietors in that country, points out the circumstance that the actual practice is not appreciably influenced by the rules of law on the subject (see p. 454).
Another side of the question is brought out in the article entitled * Agrarian Assertions in the Light of actual Fact,” in which the quotations from Staatsrath Buchenberger's memorandum on taxation and indebtedness of landowners in the Grand Duchy of Baden are of special interest. It is proved by these quotations that the four districts in which the indebtedness reaches the highest figures all belong to those parts of Baden in which the system of allowing one of the children to take the land subject to portions payable by him to his brothers and sisters, is most prevalent.
The above are only a few instances of the valuable material which Professor Brentano contributes to the investigation of the merits of the legislation to which we have referred. There can be no doubt that a valuable service is performed in exposing the inconclusive and frequently unfair arguments and the reckless assertions of the agrarian agitators in Germany.
Germany. Dr. Brentano would, however, have been more effective in his endeavours to attain this object, if he had not himself adopted some of the methods for which his opponents are justly blamed. Among these the use of irrelevant arguments has a prominent place. One of the battle horses of the agrarian agitators is the alleged fact that the forms of tenure which they recommend are of Germanic origin, while the legal rules which now prevail are imported from foreign countries. It would be a waste of time to point out the futility and irrelevancy of this argument; yet Dr. Brentano by trying to show that "Anerbenrecht" itself is a foreign importation, gives it an importance which it does not deserve.
Another example of this kind of “lóyos ýttw" favoured by the agrarians is their habit to call a thing by a bad name and then condemn it by reason of its name. One instance of this practice is pointed out on p. 1 in connection with Dr. Brentano's criticism of the agrarian assertion, that the law as to the division of land in France among the owners' children, is one of the measures brought about by the French Revolution. He says that this assertion is partly intended
to show that equal division of land is in some way associated with the Reign of Terror and the Guillotine. But there are several examples of the same method in the book under review. Thus the words
Superior Ownership" are used in connection with the rent-charges on the land purchased by small owners (see p. 325), and visions of feudal exactions, labour services, and serfdom are conjured up. Yet surely, whatever name the relation between the rent-charge owner and the landowner
may be called by, the relation is one well known in other countries, and has not there tended to revive feudalism. As a matter of fact—which is admitted by Dr. Brentano in a later article (see p. 318), not a single sale of land has actually been made in consideration of a perpetual rent-charge. The existing Rentengüter are subject to terminable charges, and represent a system which has been followed with success in countries outside of Germany (e.g., in Ireland under the Land Purchase Acts); and a legislation which enables landowners to cut down their estates to manageable proportions and enables peasant proprietors to purchase their holdings on easy terms, ought not to be condemned on the sole ground that the new form of property which it creates may possibly be described by a name which is also applied to feudal tenures. If “Rentengüter" had not been placed under the provisions of Anerbenrecht," no reasonable
, objection could be made against legislation which gives a purely optional right to sell or buy agricultural land on certain terms deemed favourable to the purchaser.
A similar use of a name for the purpose of condemning an institution, to which it may possibly be applied in a particular sense, is to be found on p. 402. Anerbenrecht, it is said, is justified by the consideration that the law of inheritance exists by the will of the community, and that, therefore, the community may determine how that law is to be regulated. “As Socialism is, however, nothing else but the division of property by order of the State, this legislation on the law of inheritance is the most highly developed Socialism."...." Is this in the interest of the existing social and monarchical order ?” I do not think that this kind of argument is worthy of a man of Dr. Brentano's position, quite apart from the fact that his definition of Socialism would not be admitted by any of the adherents of that system.
A third fault which Dr. Brentano has in common with the majority of his opponents is a certain looseness of statement which is apt to mislead his readers and frequently verges on absolute inaccuracy. Thus, for instance, the assertion on p. 206, that under the English Settled Land Act, a tenant for life may sell land comprised in a settlement, but subject to the condition that he must bequeath the proceeds of sale to his successor, is apt to be misunderstood, though it may possibly be excused as a rough representation of the facts of the
à case ; but the passage on the same page, according to which Lord Halsbury in 1887 passed a bill through the House of Lords" by which all settled property was automatically converted into free property," is absolutely and unjustifiably incorrect. Another illustration of this want of precision is seen when the two versions of an anecdote told by the present Prince Bismarck, which appear on p. 170 and p. 205 respectively, are compared.
The intention of the relation of this story is to prove the selfishness of English landowners, who are supposed to have promoted the Settled Land Acts with the intention of inducing the “masses to buy agricul. tural land, so as to obtain their help in the fight for duties on corn; but when the two versions are compared, one would be rather glad to know what Prince Bismarck did say, and still more what Prince Bismarck's informant said.
These and some similar circumstances induce a reader to put the book down with somewhat mixed feelings. He has read a scientific work, but he cannot get rid of the sensation of having read a political pamphlet.
Grundherrschaft und Rittergut. Vorträge, mit biographischen
Beilagen. Von GEORG FRIEDRICH KNAPP. (Leipzig :
Duncker und Humblot. Pp. 167. 1897.)
A REVIEW of Professor Knapp's fascinating little volume two years after its appearance is doubtless somewhat belated; but it would be a great pity if the book escaped the attention of English readers, especially as it needs but a few words of comment to bring out its remarkable significance.
Until within the last few years, agrarian history in Germany, when seriously dealt with at all, has been almost exclusively handled by constitutional or legal historians : outside Germany, of course, the subject received scarcely any attention. What these historians made of it, and especially their construction of the whole development from the time of the Völkerwanderung down to the twelfth century, is well enough known. It serves as the basis, it provides the underlying assumptions, for the text-books of early constitutional history still current in Germany and England. The more elaborate and artistic form given to the specifically agrarian part of it by von Maurer—the doctrine of the Markgenossenschaft, of the "village community” which sank into the manor-has, it is true, been pretty generally surrendered of late by English writers; but in Germany it held its ground until very recently; and in both countries the more general assumptions, which find perhaps their most classic expression in the work of Waitz, have continued to be almost universally accepted as too obvious for discussion. In this teaching there was much to excite criticism ; to the present writer, at any rate, it seems very evident that, in its main features, it was but a carrying back into the past of certain ideals of the first half of the nineteenth century. We can hardly fail to observe that for much of it there was very little direct evidence ; the references which crowded the footnotes were commonly to scraps of documents which might be, indeed, fitted in to the general scheme, but by no means compelled such an interpretation. This characteristic may fairly be traced to the purely legal training of the scholars in question: they were satisfied if they could put together a logically consistent series of formulæ ; they felt no craving to visualise, to make a mental picture of, the social institutions they described.
For a more realistic and concrete treatment of agrarian history, Germany had to wait until the economists should take it in hand. They began to be drawn to it some twenty years ago, not merely by their “historical” leanings, but by the political necessities of the hour. “Industrial " difficulties are not the only “social questions" in Germany, though foreigners sometimes speak as if they were: the lot of the agricultural labourer presents an equally pressing problem, in some respects a graver one, for if the socialist propaganda should ever carry away the rural population as it has the industrial, the government would have to yield to social democracy. Accordingly it became the business of German economists to ascertain how the rural proletariate had arisen, and to see whether the causes which had created it were capable of modification or removal.
Conspicuous among these investigations was early to be seen the treatise of Professor Knapp of Strassburg on the "Emancipation of the Peasants in Prussia"; and to Professor Knapp must be ascribed the still greater achievement of producing from his seminary a whole school of agrarian historians, who during the last twenty years have taken one after another of the provinces of Germany until there is now hardly a district which has escaped their scrutiny. All this work, be it observed, had an immediately practical purpose; it dealt mainly with very recent history indeed; it was usually content to begin in the eighteenth century; and the preliminary half-dozen pages were commonly based upon the generally accepted authorities.
. Within its range it was exceedingly valuable; one might stake the case for “ the historical method” as a source of practical guidance to the statesman upon the lucid survey of the position of the agricultural labouring class in the several parts of the country which formed Professor Knapp's address to the Verein für Sozialpolitik in 1893, and fitly opens the present volume. Would that there existed anything equally good for England! But German thoroughness could not stop at immediate practical needs; Professor Knapp and his school were bound to reopen for themselves the question of "origins"; and the interesting thing about this volume is that they are now beginning to throw overboard all the older doctrines. For years M. Fustel de Coulanges seemed to have written in vain, so far as German scholars were concerned ; now the independent movement, as it would seem, of German investigation is beginning to lead it to conclusions identical with his on the negative side, even though it hardly sees its way as yet to any very positive construction.
The new departure will be found in an address in this volume,
summing up with approval the arguments of Wittich in his Grundherrschaft in Nordwestdeutschland (1896), as well as in a review of Meitzen's Siedelung und Agrarwesen. Wittich and Knapp decisively reject the notion, quite inconsistent with Tacitus, that the primitive Germans were free self-governing peasants, tilling their own soil. To them it seems more likely that “the Germans of Tacitus were small landlords, a kind of social aristocracy, who met together in court and assembly, but never put their hand to the servile plough. They had dependants settled on their land (angesiedelte Knechte), and these were peasants who had to provide from the soil their lords' food. Landlordship, far from being a gradual evolution in historical times, was the oldest of known institutions; and it was out of it that later institutions arose.' For the Carolingian period, they are equally unable to accept the common view that serfdom grew out of the voluntary submission of the weaker freemen to the greater, to escape the burdens of military service, though there were doubtless many such cases. “But this was not the general process in Lower Saxony, because the dependant peasant was already the rule. When peasant holdings are given to a monastery, the donor is not the cultivating peasant, but his small landlord, who gives the land and the peasant on it. What happened in the Carolingian time was not the birth of landlordship, but a new allotment of the permanently dependant (hörig) peasants, leading to the formation of a relatively small number of great lordships instead of a large number of little ones.” The further sketch of the subsequent progress of "villication" must be regretfully passed over.
The second article is even more outspoken. Professor Meitzen is a very solid representative of a class for which we can find no English parallel-that of the professional agrarian experts, produced by the agricultural colleges and by the heavy administrative duties cast upon German governments by the regulation of peasant holdings: men learned in soils and manures, and at the same time thoroughly familiar with the details of local tenure, and with all the curiosities of peasant usage. The late Georg Hanssen was essentially a man of the same type-practical, and, within the range of his interests, a true historical scholar—furnishing indeed a wealth of material to younger men with wider interests; but yet capable of writing a long dissertation upon the origin of the three-field system with hardly a reference to the status of the people who worked it. As Professor Knapp remarks in a sympathetic character sketch of his old master, to be found in this collection, “Hanssen sprang from a period in which there were as yet no social politics in Germany."
Now Professor Meitzen's strength, in like manner, lies in his knowledge of existing conditions. In his recent enormous work, he has poured forth a flood of information, and he has been the first of German scholars to follow Mr. Seebohm's example and utilise modern field maps. But he is not content merely to set forth the life of the modern German