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cultural practices of the country, and which is customary on its large estates, the cause must lie in one of the salutary influences of thy,system; the eminent degree in which it promotes providence on the part of those who, not being yet peasant proprietors, hope to becomo so. In England, where the agricultural labourer has no investment for his savings but the savings bank, and no position to which he can rise by any exercise of economy, except perhaps that of a petty shopkeeper, with its chances of bankruptcy, there is nothing at all resembling the intense spirit of thrift which takes possession of one who, from being a day labourer, can raise himself by saving to the condition of a landed proprietor. According to almost all o the real cause of the morcellement is the higher price which can be obtained for land by 'selling it to the peasantry, as an inwo-stment for their small accumulations, than by disposing of it entire to some rich purchaser who has no object but to live on its income without improving it. The hope of obtaining such an investment is the most powerful of inducements, to those who are without land, to practise the industry, frugality, and self-restraint, on which their success in this object of ambition is dependent. As the result of this enquiry into the direct operation and indirect influences of peasant, properties, I conceive it to be established, that there is no necessary connexion between this form of landed property and an imperfect state of the arts of production; that it is favourable in quite, as many respects as it is unfavourable, to the most effective use of the powers of the soil; that no other existing state of agricultural economy has so beneficial an effect on the industry, the intelligence, the frugality, and prudence of the population, nor tends on the whole so much to discourage an improvident increase of their numbers; and that no existing state, therefore, is on the whole so favourable, both to their
moral and their physical welfare. Compared with the English system of cultivation by hired labour, it must be regarded as eminently beneficial to the labouring class.” e are not on the present occasion called upon to comare it with the joint ownership of the nd by associations of labourers.
* French history strikingly confirms these conclusions. Three times during the course of ages the peasantry have been purchasers of land; and these times immediately preceded the three principal eras of French agricultural prosperity.
“In the worst times,” says the historian Michelet (The People, Parti... ch. 1), “the times of universal poverty, when even the rich are poor and obliged to sell, the poor are enabled to buy ; no other purchaser presenting himself, the peasant in rags arrives with his piece of gold, and acquires a little bit of land. These moments of disaster in which the peasant was able to buy land at a low price, have always been followed by a sudden gush of prosperity which people could not account for. Towards 1500, for example, when France, exhausted by Louis XI., seemed to be completing its ruin in Italy, the noblesse who went to the wars were obliged to sell: the land, passing into new hands, suddenly began to flourish ; men began to labour and to build. This happy moment, in the style of courtly historians, was called the good Louis XII.
“ Unhappily it did not last long. Scareely had the land recovered itself when the taxcollector fell upon it; the wars of religion followed, and seemed to rase everything to the ground; with horrible miseries, dreadful famines, in which mothers devoured their children. Who would believe that the country recovered from this? Scarcely is the war ended, when from the devastated fields, and the cottages still black with the flames, comes forth the hoard of the peasant. He buys; in ten years, France wears a new face; in twenty or thirty, all possessions have doubled and trebled in value. This moment, again baptized by a royal name, is called the good Henry IV. and the great I'ichelieu.”
Of the third era it is needless again to speak; it was that of the Revolution.
Whoever would study the reverse of the picture, may compare these historic periods, characterized by the dismemberment of large and the construction of small properties, with the wide-spread national suffering which accompanied, and the permanent deterioration of the condition of the labouring 3lasses which followed, the “clearing” away of small yeomen to make room for large grazing farms, which was the grand economical event of English history during the sixteenth century,
§ 1. From the case in which the produce of land and labour belongs undividedly to the labourer, we proceed to the cases in which it is divided, but between two classes only, the labourers and the landowners; the character of capitalists, merging in the one or the other, as the case may be. It is possible indeed to conceive that there might be only two classes of persons to share the produce, and that a class of capitalists might be one of them; the character of labourer and that of landowner being united to form the other. This might occur in two ways. The labourers, though owning the land, might let it to a tenant, and work under him as hired servants. But this arrangement, even in the very rare cases which could give rise to it, would not require any particular discussion, since it would not differ in any material respect from the threefold system of labourers, capitalists, and landlords. The other case is the not uncommon one, in which a peasant roprietor owns and, cultivates, the and, but raises the little capital required, by a mortgage upon it. Neither does this case present any important peculiarity. There is but one person, the peasant himself, who has any right or power of interference in the management. He pays a fixed annuity as interest to a capitalist, as he pays another fixed sum in taxes to the government. Without dwelling further on these cases, we pass to those which present marked features of peculiarity.
When the two parties sharing in the produce are the labourer or labourers and the landowner, it is not a very material circumstance, in the case, which of the two furnishes the stock, or whether, as sometimes happens, they furnish it, in a determinate proportion, between them. The essen
tial difference does not lie in this,
but in another circumstance, namely, whether the division of the produce between the two is regulated by custom or by competition. We will begin with the former case; of which the metayer culture is the principal, and in Europe almost the sole, example.
The principle of the metayer system is that the labourer, or peasant, makes his engagement directly with the landowner, and pays, not a fixed rent, either in money or in kind, but a cer. tain proportion of the produce, or rather of what remains of the produce after deducting what is considered necessary to keep up the stock. The proportion is usually, as the name imports, one-half; but in several districts in Italy it is two-thirds. Respecting the supply of stock, the custom varies from place to place; in some places the landlord furnishes the whole, in others half, in others some particular part, as for instance the cattle and seed, the labourer providing the implements.” “This connexion,” says Sismondi, speaking chiefly of Tuscany,” “is often the subject of a contract, to define certain services and certain occasional payments to which the metayer binds himself; nevertheless the differences in the obligations of one such contract and another are inconsiderable; usage governs alike all these engagements, and supplies the stipulations which have not i. expressed; and the landlord who attempted to depart from usage, who exacted more than his neighbour, who took for the basis of the agreement anything but the equal division of the crops, would render himself so odious, he would be so sure of not obtaining a metayer who was an honest man, that the contract of all the metayers may be considered as identical, at least in each province, and never gives rise to any competition among peasants in search of employment, or any offer to cultivate the soil on cheaper terms than one another.” To the same effect Châteauvieux, f speaking of the metayers of Piedmont. “They consider it” (the farm) “as a patrimony, and never think of renewing the lease, but go on from generation to generation, on the same terms, without writings or registries.”f
* In France, before the Revolution, according to Arthur Young (i. 403) there was great local diversity in this respect. In Champagne, “the landlord commonly finds half the cattle and half the seed, and the metayer, labour, implements, and taxes; but in some districts the landlord bears a share of these. In Roussillon, the landlord pays half the taxes; and in Guienne, from Auch to Fleuram, many landlords pay all. Near Aguillon, on the Garonne, the metayers furnish half the cattle. At Nangis, in the Isle of France, I met with an agreement for the landlord to furnish livestock, implements, harness, and taxes; the metayer found labour and his own capitation tax: the landlord repaired the house and gates; the metayer the windows: the landlord provided seed the first year, the metayer the last; in the intervening years they supply half and half. In the Bourbonnois the landlord finds all sorts of live stock, yet the metayer sells, changes, and buys at his will; the steward keeping an account of these mutations, for the landlord has half the product of sales, and pays half the purchases.” In Piedmont, he says, “the landlord commonly pays the taxes and repairs the buildings, and the tenant provides cattle, implements, and seed.” (II. 151.)
§ 2. When the partition of the produce is a matter of fixed usage, not of varying convention, political economy has no laws of distribution to investigate. It has only to consider,
* Studies in Political Economy, Essay VI. On the Condition of the Cultivators in Tus
cany. f Letters from Italy. I quote from Dr. Rigby's translation. (p. 22.) f This virtual fixity of tenure is not however universal even in Italy; and it is to its absence that Sismondi attributes the inferior condition of the metayers in some provinces of Naples, in Lucca, and in the Riviera of Genoa; where the landlords obtain a larger (though still a fixed) share of the produce. In those countries the cultivation is splendid, but the people wretchedly poor. “The same misfortune would probably have befallen the people of Tuscany if public opinion did not protect the cultivator; but a proprietor would not dare to impose conditions unusual in the country, and even in changing one metayer for another, he alters nothing in the terms of the engagement.” New Principles of Political Economy, book iii, ch. 5,
as in the ease of peasant proprietors, the effects of the system, first, on the condition of the peasantry, morally and physically, ină secondly, on the efficiency of the labour. In both these particulars the metayer system has the characteristic advantages of peasant properties, but has them in a less degree. The metayer has less motive to exertion than the peasant proprietor, since only half the fruits of his industry, instead of the whole, are his own But he has a much stronger motive than a day labourer, who has no other interest in the result than not to be dismissed. If the metayer cannot be turned out except for some violation of his contract, he has a stronger motive to exertion than any tenant-farmer who has not a lease. The metayer is at least his landlord's partner, and a half-sharer in their joint gains. Where, too, the permanence of his tenure is guaranteed by custom, he acquires local attachments, and much of the feelings of a proprietor. I am supposing that this half produce is sufficient to yield him a comfortable support. Whether it is so, depends (in any given state of agriculture) on the degree of subdivision of the land; which depends on the operation of the population principle. A multiplication of people, beyond the number that can be properly supported on the land or taken off by manufactures, is incident even to a peasant proprietary, and of course not less but rather more incident to a metayer population. The tendency, however, which we noticed in the proprietary, system, to promote prudence on this point, is in no small degree common to it with the metayer system. There, also, it is a matter of easy and exact calculation whether a family can be supported or not. If it is easy to see whether the owner of the whole produce can increase the production so as to maintain a greater number of persons equally well, it is a not less simple problem whether the owner of half the produce can do so.”
* M. Bastiat affirms that even in France, incontestably the least favourable example of the metayer system, its effect in repressing population is conspicuous. “It is a well-ascertained fact that the There is one check which this system seems to offer, over and above those held out even by the proprietary system; there is a landlord, who may exert a controlling power, by refusing his consent to a subdivision. I do not, however, attach great importance to this check, because the farm may be loaded with superfluous hands without being subdivided; and because, so long as the increase of hands increases the gross produce, which is almost always the case, the landlord, who receives half the produce, is an immediate gainer, the inconvenience falling only on the labourers. The landlord is no doubt liable in the end to suffer from their poverty, by being forced to make advances to them, especially in bad seasons; and a foresight of this ultimate inconvenience may operate beneficially on such landlords as prefer future security to present profit. The characteristic disadvantage of the metayer system is very fairly stated by Adam Smith. After pointing out that metayers “have a plain interest that the whole produce should be as great as possible, in order that their own proportion may be so,” he continues,” “it could never, however, be the interest of this species of cultivators to lay out, in the further imrovement of the land, any part of the ittle stock which they might save
from their own share of the produce, because the lord, who laid out nothing, was to get one half of whatever it produced. The tithe, which is but a tenth of the produce, is found to be a very great hindrance to improvement. A tax, therefore, which amounted to one-half, must have been an effectual bar to it. It might be the interest of a metayer to make the land produce as much as could be brought out of it by means of the stock furnished by the proprietor; but it could never be his interest to mix any part of his own with it. . In France, where five parts out of six of the whole kingdom are said to be still occupied by this species of cultivators, the proprietors complain that their metayers take every opportunity of employing the master's cattle rather in carriage than in cultivation; because in the one case they get the whole profits to themselves, in the other they share them with their landlord.” It is indeed implied in the very nature of the tenure, that all improvements, which require expenditure of capital, must be made with the capital of the landlord. This, however, is essentially the case even in England, whenever the farmers are tenants-atwill: or (if Arthur Young is right) even on a “nine years lease.” If the landlord is willing to provide capital for improvements, the metayer has the strongest interest in promoting them, since half the benefit of them will accrue to himself. As however the perpetuity of tenure which, in the case we are discussing, he enjoys by custom, renders his consent a necessary condition; the spirit of routine, and dislike of innovation, characteristic of an agricultural people when not corrected by education, are no doubt, as the advocates of the system seem to admit, a serious hindrance to improvement.
§ 3. The metayer system has met with no mercy from English authorities. “There is not one word to be said in favour of the practice,” says Arthur Young,” “and a thousand arguments that might be used against it. The hard plea of necessity can alone be urged in its favour; the poverty of the farmers being so great, that the landlord must stock the farm, or it could not be stocked at all: this is a most cruel burthen to a proprietor, who is thus obliged to run much of the hazard of farming in the most danso. of all methods, that of trusting
tendency to excessive multiplication is
* Travels, vol. i. pp. 404-5,
is property absolutely in the hands of people who are generally ignorant, many careless, and some undoubtedly wicked. . . . In this most miserable of all the modes of letting land, the defrauded landlord receives a contemptible rent; the farmer is in the lowest state of poverty; the land is miserably cultivated; and the nation suffers as severely as the parties themselves. . . . Wherever* this system prevails, it may be taken for granted that a useless and miserable population is found. . . . Wherever the country (that I saw) is poor and unwatered, in the Milanese, it is in the hands of metayers:” they are almost always in debt to their landlord for seed or food, and “their condition is more wretched than that of a day labourer. . . . Theref are but few districts” (in Italy) “where lands are let to the occupying tenant at a money-rent; but wherever it is found, their crops are greater; a clear proof of the imbecility of the metaying system.” “Wherever it” (the metayer system) “has been adopted,” says Mr. M'Culloch,+ “it has put a stop to all improvement, and has reduced the cultivators to the most abject poverty.” Mr. Jones S shares the common opinion, and quotes Turgot and DestuttTracy in support of it. The impression, however, of all these writers (notwithstanding Arthur Young's occasional references to Italy) seems to be chiefly derived from France, and France before the Revolution.| Now the situation of French metayers under the old régime
by no means represents the typical form of the contract. It is essential to that form, that the proprietor pays all the taxes. But in H. the exemption of the noblesse from direct taxation had led the Government to throw the whole burthen of their everincreasing fiscal exactions upon the occupiers: and it is to these exactions that Turgot ascribed the extreme wretchedness of the metayers: a wretchedness in some cases so excessive, that in Limousin and Angoumois (the provinces which he administered) they had seldom more, according to him, after deducting all burthens, than from twenty-five to thirty livres (20 to 24 shillings) per head for their whole annual consumption: “I do not mean in money, but including all that they consume in kind from their own crops.”* When we add that they had not the virtual fixity of tenure of the metayers of Italy, (“in Limousin,” says Arthur Young,f “the metayers are considered as little better than menial servants, removable at pleasure, and obliged to conform in all things to the will of the landlords,”)
* Travels, vol. ii. 151-3.
# Ibid. ii. 217. f Principles of Political Economy, 3rd ed. 47 l
's Essay on the Distribution of Wealth, pp. 102-4. | M. de Tracy is partially an exception,
inasmuch as his experience reaches lower down than the revolutionary period: but he
admits (as Mr. Jones has himself stated in another place) that he is acquainted only with a limited district, of great subdivision and unfertile soil.
M. Passy is of opinion, that a French peasantry must be in indigence and the country badly cultivated on a metayer system, because the proportion of the produce claimable by the landlord is too high; it being only in more favourable climates that any land, not of the most exuberant fertility, can pay half its gross produce in rent, and leave enough to peasant farmers to enable them to grow successfully the more expensive and valuable products of agriculture. (On Systems of Culture, p. 35.) This is an objection only to a particular numerical proportion, which is indeed the common one, but is not essential to the system.
* See the “Memoir on the Surcharge of Taxes suffered by the Generality of Limoges, addressed to the Council of State in 1786,” pp. 260-304 of the fourth volume of Turgot's Works. The occasional engagements of landlords (as mentioned by Arthur Young) to pay a part of the taxes, were, according to Turgot, of recent origin, under the compulsion of actual necessity. “The proprietor only consents to it when he can find no metayer on other terms; consequently, even in that case, the metayer is always reduced to what is barely sufficient to prevent him from dying of hunger.” (p. 275),
f Vol. i. p. 404,