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countries where the best wines are produced, is extraordinary. There is no doubt an absence of science, or at least of theory; and to some extent a deficiency of the spirit of improvement, so far as relates to the introduction of new processes. There is also a want of means to make experiments, which can seldom be made with advantage except by rich proprietors or capitalists. As for those systematic improvements which operate on a large tract of country at once (such as great works of draining or irrigation) or which for any other reason do really require large numbers of workmen combining their labour, these are not in general to be expected from small farmers, or even small proprietors; though combination among them for such purposes is by no means unexampled, and will become more common as their intelligence is more developed. Against these disadvantages is to be placed, where the tenure of land is of the requisite kind, an ardour of industry absolutely unexampled in any other condition of agriculture. This is a subject on which the testimony of competent witnesses is unanimous. The working of the petite culture cannot be fairly judged where the small cultivator is merely a tenant, and not even a tenant on fixed conditions, but (as
until lately in Ireland) at a nominal rent greater than can be paid, and therefore practically at a varying rent always amounting to the utmost that can be paid. To understand the subject, it must be studied where the cultivator is the proprietor, or at least a métayer with a permanent tenure; where the labour he exerts to increase the produce and value of the land avails wholly, or at least partly, to his own benefit and that of his descendants. In another division of our subject, we shall discuss at some length the important subject of tenures of land, and I defer till then any citation of evidence on the marvellous industry of peasant proprietors. It may suffice here to appeal to the immense amount of gross produce which, even without a permanent tenure, English labourers generally obtain from their little allotments; a produce beyond comparison greater than a large farmer extracts, or would find it his interest to extract, from the same piece of land. And this I take to be the true reason why large cultivation is generally most advantageous as a mere investment for profit. Land occupied by a large farmer is not, in one sense of the word, farmed so highly. There is not nearly so much labour expended on it. This is not on account of any economy arising from combination of labour, but because, by employing less, a greater return is obtained in proportion to the outlay. It does not answer to any one to pay others for exerting all the labour which the peasant, or even the allotment holder, gladly undergoes when the fruits are to be wholly reaped by himself. This labour, however, is not unproductive; it all adds to the gross, produce. With anything like equality of skill and knowledge, the large farmer does not obtain nearly so much from the soil as the small proprietor, or the small farmer with adequate motives to exertion; but though his returns are less, the labour is less in a still greater degree, and as whatever labour he employs must be paid for, it does not suit his purpose to employ more, But although the gross produce of the land is greatest, other things being the same, under small cultivation, and although, therefore, a country is able on that system to support a larger aggregate population, it is generally assumed by English writers that what is termed the net produce, that is, the surplus after feeding the cultivators, must be smaller; that therefore, the population disposable for all other purposes, for manufactures, for commerce and navigation, for national defence, for the promotion of knowledge, for the liberal professions, for the various functions of government, for the arts and literature, all of which are dependent on this surplus for their existence as occupations, must be less numerous; and that the nation, therefore, (waving all question as to the condition of the actual cultivators,) must be inferior in the principal elements of national power, and in many of those of general well-being. This, however, has been taken for granted much too readily. Undoubtedly, the non-agricultural population will bear a less ratio to the agricultural, under small than under ..arge cultivation. But that it will be sess numerous absolutely, is by no means a consequence. If the total population, agricultural and non-agriJultural, is greater, the non-agricultural
large farms. To do so is a necessity they
only about 300 horned cattle, and from 1800
portion may be more numerous in itself, and may yet be a smaller proportion of the whole. If the gross produce is larger, the net produce may be larger, and yet bear a smaller ratio to the gross produce. Yet even Mr. Wakefield sometimes appears to confound these distinct ideas. In France it is computed that two-thirds of the whole population are agricultural. In England, at most, one-third. Hence Mr. Wakefield infers, that “as in France only three people are supported by the labour of two cultivators, while in Eng. land the labour of two cultivators sup. ports, six people, English agriculture is twice as productive as French agriculture,” owing to the superior efficiency of large farming through combination of labour. But in the first place the facts themselves are overstated. The labour of two persons in England does not quite support six people, for there is not a little food imported from foreign countries, and from Ireland. In France, too, the labour of two cultivators does much more than supply the food of three persons. It provides the three persons, and occasionally foreigners, with flax, hemp, and to a certain extent with silk, oils, tobacco, and latterly sugar, which in England are wholly obtained from abroad; nearly all the timber used in France is of home growth, nearly all which is used in England is imported; the principal fuel of France is procured and brought to market by persons reckoned among agriculturists, in England by persons not so reckoned. I do not take into calculation hides and wool, these products being com. mon to both countries, nor wine or brandy produced for home consumption, since longland has a corresponding production of beer and spirits; but England has no material export of either article, and a great importation of the last, while France supplies wines and spirits to the whole world. I say nothing of fruit, eggs, and such minor articles of agricultural produce, in which the export trade of France i enormous. But, not to lay undue on these abatements, we will ta statement as it stands. Suppos
two persons, in England, do bond fide roduce the food of six, while in France, or the same purpose, the labour of four is requisite. Does it follow that England must have a larger surplus for the support of a non-agricultural population ? No; but merely that she can devote two-thirds of her whole produce to the purpose, instead of one-third. Suppose the produce to be twice as great, and the one-third will amount to as much as the two-thirds. The fact might be, that owing to the greater uantity of labour employed on the }. system, the same land would produce food for twelve persons which on the English system would only produce it for six: and if this were so, which would be quite consistent with the conditions of the hypothesis, then although the food for twelve was produced i. the labour of eight, while the six were fed by the labour of only two, there would be the same number of hands disposable for other employment in the one country as in the other. I am not contending that the fact is so. I know that the gross produce per acre in France as a whole (though not in its most improved districts) averages wnuch less }. in England, and that, in proportion to the extent and fertility of the two countries, England has, in the sense we are now speaking of, much the largest disposable population. But the disproportion certainly is not to be measured by Mr. Wakefield's simple criterion. As well might it be said that agricultural labour in the United States, where, by a late census, four families in every five appeared to be engaged in agriculture, must be still more inefficient than in France. The inferiority of French cultivation (which, taking the country as a whole, must be allowed to be real, though much exaggerated,) is probably more owing to the lower general average of industrial skill and energy in that country, than to any special cause: and even if partly the effect of minute subdivision, it does not prove that small farming is disadvantageous, but only §: is undoubtedly the fact) that farms in France are very fre
quently too small, and, what is worse, broken up into an almost incredible number of patches or parcelles, most in... dispersed and parted from one another. As a question, not of gross, but of net produce, the comparative merits of the grande and the petite culture, especially when the small farmer is also the proprietor, cannot be looked upon as decided. It is a question on which good judges at present differ. The current of English opinion is in favour of large farms: on the Continent, the weight of authority seems to be on the other side. Professor Rau, of Heidelberg, the author of one of the most comprehensive and elaborate of extant treatises on political economy, and who has that large acquaintance with facts and authorities on his own subject, which generally characterises his countrymen, lays it down as a settled truth, that small or moderate-sized farms yield not only a larger gross but a larger net produce: though, he adds, it is desirable there should be some great proprietors, to lead the way in new improvements.” The most apparently impartial and discriminating judgment that I have met with is that of M. Passy, who (always speaking with reference to net produce) gives his verdict in favour of large farms for grain and forage: but, for the kinds of culture which require much labour and attention, places, the advantage wholly on the side of small cultivation; including in this description, not only the vine and the olive, where a considerable amount of care and labour must be bestowed on each individual plant, but also roots, leguminous plants, and those which furnish the materials of manufactures. The small size, and consequent multiplication, of farms, according to all authorities, are extremely favourable to the abundance of many minor products of agriculture.t.
* See pp. 352 and 353 of a French translation published at Brussels in 1839, by M. Fred. de Kemmeter, of Ghent.
t “In the department of the Nord,” says M. Passy, “a farm of 20 hectares (50 acres) produces in calves, dairy produce, poultry, and eggs, a value of sometimes 1000 francs
It is evident that every labourer who extracts from the land more than his own food, and that of any family he may have, increases the means of sup
rting a non-agricultural population. É. if his surplus is no more than enough to buy clothes, the labourers who make the clothes are a nonagricultural population, enabled to exist by food which he produces. Every agricultural family, therefore, which produces its own necessaries, adds to the net produce of agriculture; and so does every person born on the land, who by employing himself on it, adds more to its gross produce than the mere food which he eats. It is questionable whether, even in the most subdivided districts of Europe which are cultivated by the proprietors, the multiplication of hands on the soil has approached, or tends to approach, within a great distance of this limit. In France, though the subdivision is confessedly too great, there is proof positive that it is far from havin reached the point at which it woul begin to diminish the power of suporting a non-agricultural population. This is demonstrated by the great increase of the towns;, which have of late increased in a much greater ratio than the population generally,” showing (unless the condition of the town labourers is becoming rapidly deteriorated, which there is no reason to believe) that even by the unfair and inapplicable test of proportions, the productiveness of agriculture must be on the increase. his, too, concurrently with the amplest evidence that in H. more improved districts of France, and in some which, until lately, were among the unimproved, there is a considerably increased con. sumption of country produce by the country population itself.
(£40) a year: which, deducting expenses, is an addition to the net produce of 15 to 20 francs per hectare.”—On Systems of Cultivation, p. 114.
* During the interval between the census of 1851 and that of 1856, the increase of the Population of Paris alone, exceeded the aggregate increase of all France; while nearly all the other large towns likewise showed an increase,
Impressed with the conviction that, of all faults which can be committed by a scientific writer on political and social subjects, exaggeration, and assertions beyond the evidence, most require to be guarded against, I limited myself in the early editions of this work to the foregoing very moderate statements. I little knew how much stronger my language might have been without exceeding the truth, and how much the actual progress of French agriculture surpassed anything which I had at that time sufficient grounds to affirm. The investigations of that eminent authority on agricultural statistics, M. Léonce de Lavergne, under. taken by desire of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institute of France, have led to the conclusion that since the Revolution of 1789, the total produce of French agri. £ulture has doubled; profits and wages having both increased in about the Same, and rent in a still greater ratio. M. de Lavergne, whose impartiality is one of his greatest merits, is, moreover, so far in this instance from the sus. picion of having a case to make out, that he is labouring to show, not how much French agriculture has accomplished, but how much still remains for it to do. “We have required” (he says) “no less than seventy years to bring into cultivation two million hectares” (five million English acres) “of waste land, to suppress halfour fallows, double our agricultural products, in: crease our population by 30 per cent, our wages by 100 per cent, our rent b 150 per cent. At this rate we shall require three quarters of a centur more to arrive at the point whic England has already attained.”
After this evidence, we have surel now heard the last of the incompati. bility of small properties and small farms with agricultural improvement. The only #". which remains open is one of degree; the comparative rapidity of agricultural improvement under the two systems; and it is the
* Economie Rurale de la France depuis 1789. Par M. Léonce de Lavergne, Membre de l'Institut et de la Société Centrale d’Agriculture de France. 2me éd. p. 59.
general opinion of those who are equally well acquainted with both, that improvement is greatest under a due admixture between them. In the present chapter, I do not enter on the question between great and small cultivation in any other respect than as a question of production, and
of the efficiency of labour. We shall return to it hereafter as affecting the distribution of the produce, and the physical and social well-being of the cultivators themselves; in which aspects it deserves, and requires, a still more particular examination.
OF THE LAW OF THE INCREASE OF LABOUR.
§ 1. WE have now successively considered each of the agents or conditions of production, and of the means by which the efficacy of these various agents is promoted. In order to come to , an end of the questions which relate exclusively to production, one more, of primary importance, remains. Production is not a fixed, but an increasing thing. When not kept back by bad institutions, or a low state of the arts of life, the produce of industry has usually tended to increase; stimuated not only by the desire of the producers to augment their means of consumption, but by the increasing number of the consumers. Nothing in political economy can be of more importance than to ascertain the law of this increase of production; the conditions to which it is subject; whether it has practically any limits, and what these are. There is also no subject in olitical economy which is popularly i. understood, or on which the errors committed are of a character to produce, and do produce, greater mischief. We have seen that the essential requisites of production are three—labour, capital, and natural agents; the term capital including all external and physical requisites which are products of labour, the term natural agents all those which are not. But among natural agents we need not take into account whose which, existing in unlimited
quantity, being incapable of appropriation, and never altering in their qualities, are always ready to lend an equal degree of assistance to production, whatever may be its extent; as air, and the light of the sun. Being now about to consider the impediments to production, not the facilities for it, we need advert to no other natural agents than those which are liable to be deficient, either in quantity or in productive power. These may be all represented by the term land. Land, in the narrowest acceptation, as the source of agricultural produce, is the chief of them; and if we extend the term to mines and fisheries—to what is found in the earth itself, or in the waters which partly cover it, as well as to what is grown or fed on its surface, it embraces everything with which we need at present concern ourselves. We may say, then, without a greater stretch of language than under the necessary explanations is permissible, that the requisites of production are Labour, Capital, and Land. The increase of production, therefore, depends on the properties of these elements. It is a result of the increase either of the elements themselves, or of their productiveness. The law of the increaso of production must be a consequence of the laws of these elements; the limits to the increase of production must ho the limits, whatever they are, set by those laws. We proceed to consider the three elements successively, with