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san a vivement le sentiment de ce bonheur attaché à la condition de propriétaire. Aussi est-il toujours empressé d'acheter de la terre à tout prix. Il la paie plus qu'elle ne vaut, plus qu'elle ne lui rendra peut-être ; mais combien n'a-t-il pas raison d'estimer à un haut prix l'avantage de placer désormais toujours avantageusement son travail, sans être obligé de l'offrir au rabais; de trouver toujours au besoin son pain, sans être obligé de le payer à l'enchère.
“Le paysan propriétaire est de tous les cultivateurs celui qui tire le plus de parti du sol ; parceque c'est celui qui songe le plus à l'avenir, tout comme celui qui a été le plus éclairé par l'expérience ; c'est encore lui qui met le mieux à profit le travail humain, parceque répartissant ses occupations entre tous les membres de sa famille, il en réserve pour tous les jours de l'année, de manière à ce qu'il n'y ait de chômage pour personne; de tous les cultivateurs il est le plus heureux, et en même temps, sur un espace donné, la terre ne nourrit bien, sans s'épuiser, et n'occupe jamais tant d'habitans que lorsqu'ils sont propriétaires; enfin de tous les cultivateurs le paysan propriétaire est celui qui donne le plus d'encouragement au commerce et à l'industrie, parcequ'il est le plus riche."*
This picture of unwearied assiduity, and what may be called affectionate interest in the land, is borne out in regard to the more intelligent cantons of Switzerland by English observers. “In walking anywhere in the neighborhood of Zurich,” says Mr. Inglis, “ in looking to the right or to the left, one is struck with the extraordinary industry of the inhabitants; and if we learn that a proprietor here has a return of ten per cent., we are inclined to say, 'he deserves it.' I speak at present of country labor, though I believe that in every kind of trade also, the people of Zurich are remarkable for their assiduity; but in the industry they show in the cultivation of their land 1 may safely say they are unrivalled. When I used to open my casement between four and five in the morning to look out upon the lake and the distant Alps, I saw the laborer in the fields; and when I returned from an evening walk, long after sunset, as late, perhaps, as half-past eight, there was the laborer, mowing his grass or tying up his vines. .... It is impossible to look at a field, a garden, a hedging, scarcely even a tree, a flower, or a vegetable, without perceiving proofs of the extreme care and industry that are bestowed upon the cultivation of the soil. If for example, a path leads through, or by the side of a field of grain, the corn is not, as in England, permitted to hang over the path, exposed to be pulled or trodden down by every passer by; it is everywhere bounded by a fence, stakes are placed at intervals of about a yard, and, about two or three feet from the ground, boughs of trees are passed longitudinally along. If you look into a field towards evening, where there are large beds of cauliflower or cabbage, you will find that every single plant has been watered. In the gardens, which around Zurich are extremely large, the most punctilious care is evinced in every production that grows. The vegetables are planted with seemingly mathematical accuracy; not a single weed is to be seen, nor a single stone. Plants are not earthed up as with us, but are planted in a small hollow, into each of which a little manure is put, and each plant is watered daily. Where seeds are sown, the earth directly above is broken into the finest powder; every shrub, every flower is tied to a stake, and where there is wall-fruit, a trellis is erected against the wall, to which the boughs are fastened, and there is not a single thing that has not its appropriate resting-place.?'*
* And in another work (Nouveaux Principes d' Economie Politique, liv. iii. ch. 3,) he says: “Quand on traverse la Suisse presqu' entière, plusieurs provinces de France, d' Italie, et d'Allemagne, il n'est pas besoin de demander, en regardant chaque partie de terre, si elle appartient à un cultivateur propriétaire ou à un fermier. Les soins bien entendus, les jouissances préparées au laboureur, la parure que la campagne a reçue de ses mains, indiquent bien vite le premier. Il est vrai qu'un gouvernement oppressif peut détruire l'aisance et abrutir l'intelligence que devait donner la propriété, que l'impôt peut enlever le plus net du produit des champs, que l'insolence des agens du pouvoir peut troubler la sécurité des paysans, que l'impossibilité d'obtenir justice contre un puissant voisin peut jeter le découragement dans l'âme, et que, dans le beau pays qui été rendu à l'administration du Roi de Sardaigne, un propriétaire porte aussi bien qu'un journalier l'uniforme de la misère." He is here speaking of Savoy, where the peasants are generally proprietors; and according to authentic accounts, extremely miserable. But, as M. de Sismondi continues, “On a beau se conformer à une seule des règles de l'économie politique, elle ne peut pas opérer le bien à elle seule; du moins elle diminue le mal.”
Of one of the remote valleys of the High Alps, the same writer thus expresses himself:t
“ In the whole of the Engadine the land belongs to the peasantry, who, like the inhabitants of every other place where this state of things exists, vary greatly in the extent of their possessions. . . . Generally speaking, an Engadine peasant lives entirely upon the produce of his land, with the exception of the few articles of foreign growth required in his family, such as coffee, sugar, and wine. Flax is grown, prepared, spun, and woven, without ever leaving his house. He has also his own wool, which is converted into a blue coat without passing through the hands of either the dyer or the tailor. The country is incapable of greater cultivation than it has received. All has been done for it that industry and an extreme love of gain can devise. There is not a foot of waste land in the Engadine, the lowest part of which is not much lower than the top of Snowdon. Wherever grass will grow, there it is; whereever a rock will bear a blade, verdure is seen upon it; wherever an ear of rye will ripen, there it is to be found. Barley and oats have also their appropriate spots; and wherever it is possible to ripen a little patch of wheat, the cultivation of it is attempted. In no country in Europe will be found so few poor as in the Engadine. In the village of Suss, which contains about six hundred inhabitants, there is not a single individual who has not wherewithal to live comfortably, not a single individual who is indebted to others for one morsel that he eats.”
* Switzerland, the South of France, and the Pyrenees, in 1830. By H. D. Inglis. Vol. i. ch. 2.
# Ibid. ch. 8 and 10.
Notwithstanding the general prosperity of the Swiss peasantry, this total absence of pauperism, and (it may almost be said) of poverty, cannot be predicated of the whole country; the largest and richest canton, that of Berne, being an example of the contrary; for although, in the parts of “it which are occupied by peasant proprietors, their industry is as remarkable and their ease and comfort as conspicuous as elsewhere, the canton is burthened with a numerous pauper population, through the operation of the worst regulated system of poor-law administration in Europe, except that of England before the new Poor Law. Nor is Switzerland in some other respects a favorable example of all that peasant properties might effect. There exists a series of statistical accounts of the Swiss cantons, drawn up mostly with great care and intelligence, containing detailed information, of tolerably recent date, respecting the condition of the land and of the people. From these, the subdivision appears to be often so minute, that it can hardly be supposed not to be excessive; and the indebtedness of the proprietors in the flourishiug canton of Zurich “ borders” as the writer expresses it, “ on the incredible ;'**
# " Eine an das unglaubliche gränzende Schuldenmasse" is the expression. (Historisch-geographisch-statisches Gemälde der Schweiz. Erster Theil. Der Kanton Zürich. Von Gerold Meyer von Knonau, 1834. pp. 80-1.) There are villages in Zurich, he adds, in which there is not a single property unmortgaged. It does not, however, follow that each individual proprietor is deeply involved because the aggregate mass of incumbrances
so that “only the intensest industry, frugality, temperance, and complete freedom of commerce enable them to stand their ground.” Yet the general conclusion deducible from these books is, that since the beginning of the century, and concurrently with the subdivision of many great estates which belonged to nobles or to the cantonal governments, there has been a striking and rapid improvement in almost every department of agriculture, as well as in the houses, the habits, and the food of the people. The writer of the account of Thurgau goes so far as to say, that since the subdivision of the feudal estates into peasant properties, it is not uncommon for a third or a fourth part of an estate to produce as much grain, and support as many head of cattle, as the whole estate did before.*
3. One of the countries in which peasant proprietors are 'of oldest date, and most numerous in proportion to the population, is Norway. Of the social and economical condition of that country an interesting account has been given by Mr. Laing. His testimony in favor of small landed properties both there and elsewhere, is given with great decision. I shall quote a few passages.
"If small proprietors are not good farmers, it is not from the same cause here which we are told makes them so in Scotland-indolence and want of exertion. The extent to
is large. In the canton of Schaffhausen, for instance, it is stated that the landed properties are almost all mortgaged, but rarely for more than one half their registered value (Zwöfter Theil, Der Kanton Schaffhausen, von Edward Im-Thurn, 1840, p. 52,) and the mortgages are often for the improvement and enlargement of the estate. (Siebenzehnter Theil. Der kanton Thurgau, von J. A. Pupikofer, 1837, p. 209.)
* “Denselben Erfolg hat die Vertheilung der ehemaligen grossen Lehenhöffe in mehrere kleinere eigenthimliche Bauerngüter. Es ist gar nicht selten, dass ein Drittheil oder Viertheil eines solchen Hofes nun eben soviel Getreide liefert und eben so viel Stack Vieh unterhalt als vormals der ganze Hof.” (Thurgau, p. 72.)