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etors. * On this point, at least, authorities are unanimous. Those who have seen only one country of peasant properties, always think the inhabitants of that country the most industrious in the world. There is as little doubt among observers, with what feature in the condition of the peasantry this preëminent industry is connected. It is "the magic of property” which, in the words of Arthur Young, “turns sand into gold.” The idea of property does not, however, necessarily imply that there should be no rent, any more than that there should be no taxes. It merely implies that the rent should be a fixed charge, not liable to be raised against the possessor by his own improvements, or by the will of a landlord. A tenant at a quit-rent is to all intents and purposes a proprietor ; a copyholder is not less so than a freeholder. What is wanted is perpetuity of possession on fixed terms. “Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock, and he will turn it into a garden; give him a nine years' lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert.”
The details which have been cited, and those, still more minute, to be found in the same authorities, concerning the habitually elaborate system of cultivation, and the thousand devices of the peasant proprietor for making every superfluous hour and odd moment instrumental to some increase in the future produce and value of the land, will explain what has been said in a previous chaptert respecting the far larger gross produce which, with anything like parity of agricultural knowledge, is obtained, from the same quality of soil, on small farms, at least when they are the property of the cultivator. The treatise on "Flemish Husbandry” is especially instructive respecting the
means by which untiring industry does more than outweigh inferiority of resources,im perfection of implements, and ignorance of scientific theories. The peasant cultivation of Flanders and Italy is affirmed to produce heavier crops, in equal circumstances of soil, than the best cultivated districts of Scotland and England. It produces them, no doubt, with an amount of labor which, if paid for by an employer, would make the cost to him more than equivalent to the benefit; but to the peasant it is not cost, it is the devotion of time which he can spare, to a favorite pursuit, if we should not rather say a ruling passion.*
§ 2. Another aspect of peasant properties, in which it is essential that they should be considered, is that of an
* Read the graphic description by the historian Michelet, of the feelings of a peasant proprietor towards his land.
“Si nous voulons connaître la pensée intime, la passion du paysan de France, cela est fort aisé. Promenons-nous le dimanche dans la champagne, suivons-le. Le voilà qui s'en va là-bas devant nous. Il est deux heures ; sa femme est à vepres ; il est endimanché; je réponds qu'il va voir sa maitresse.
“Quelle maîtresse ? sa terre.
“ Je ne dis pas qu'il y aille tout droit. Non, il est libre ce jour-là, il est maître d'y aller ou de n'y pas aller. N'y va-t-il pas assez tous les jours de la semaine ? Aussi, il se détourne, il va ailleurs, il affaire ailleurs. Et pourtant, il y va.
“Il est vrai qu'il passait bien près ; c'était une occasion. Il la regarde, mais apparemment il n'y entrera pas ; qu'y ferait-il :-Et pourtant il y entre.
“Du moins, il est probable qu'il n'y travaillera pas ; il est endimanche; il a blouse et chemise blanches.-Rien n'empêche cependant d'ôter quelque mauvaise herbe, de rejeter cette pierre. Il y a bien encore cette souche qui gêne, mais il n'a pas sa pioche, se sera pour demain.
“ Alors, il croise ses bras et s'arrête, regarde, sérieux, soucieur. I regarde longtemps, très-longtemps, et semble s'oublier. A la fin, s'il se croit observé, s'il apperçoit un passant, il s'éloigne à pas lents. A trente pas encore, il s'arrête, se retourne, et jette sur sa terre un dernier regard, regard profond et sombre; mais pour qui sait bien voir, il est tout passionne, ce regard, tout de ceur, plein de d votion."--Le Peuph, par J. Michelet, 1re partie, ch. 1.
instrument of popular education. It is difficult to imagine what theory of education that can be, which can attach no importance to such an instrument. Books and schooling are absolutely necessary to education ; but not all-sufficient. The mental faculties will be most developed where they are most exercised; and what gives more exercise to them than the having a multitude of interests, none of which can be neglected, and which can be provided for only by varied efforts of will and intelligence ? Some of the disparagers of small properties lay great stress on the cares and anxieties which beset the peasant proprietor of the Rhineland or Flanders. It is precisely those cares and anxieties which tend to make him a superior being to an English day laborer. It is, to be sure, rather abusing the privilege of fair argument to represent the condition of a day laborer as not an anxious one. I can conceive no circumstances in which he is free from anxiety where there is a possibility of being out of employment; unless he has access to a profuse dispensation of parish pay, and no shame or reluctance in demanding it; then indeed he may feel with the old doggerel,
Hang sorrow, cast away care,
The parish is bound to find us. But unless so shielded, the day laborer has, in the exist ing state of society and population, many of the anxieties which have not an invigorating effect on the mind, and none of those which have. The position of the peasant proprietor of Flanders is the reverse. From the anxiety which chills and paralyzes—the uncertainty of having food to eat-few persons are more exempt: it requires as rare a concurrence of circumstances as the potato failure, combined with a universal bad harvest, to bring him within reach of that danger. His anxieties are the ordinary vicissitudes of more and less ; his cares are that he takes his fair share of the business of life; that he is a free human being, and not perpetually a child, which seems to be the approved condition of the laboring classes according to the prevailing philanthropy. He is no longer a being of a different order from the middle classes; he has pursuits and objects like those which occupy them, and give to their intellects the greatest part of the cultivation which they receive. If there is a first principle in intellectual education, it is thisthat the discipline which does good to the mind is that in which the mind is active, not that in which it is passive. The secret for developing the faculties is to give them much to do, and much inducement to do it. Few things surpass in this respect the occupations and interests created by the ownership and cultivation of land. This detracts nothing from the importance, and even necessity, of other kinds of mental cultivation. The possession of property will not prevent the peasant from being coarse, selfish, and narrowminded. These things depend onher ot influences, and other kinds of instruction. But this great stimulus to one kind of mental activity, in no way impedes any other means of intellectual development. On the contrary, by cultivating the habit of turning to practical use every frag. ment of knowledge acquired, it helps to render that school. ing and reading fruitful, which without some such auxiliary influence are in too many cases like seed thrown on a rock.
$3. It is not to the intelligence alone, that the situation of a peasant proprietor is full of improving influences. It is no less propitious to the moral virtues of prudence, temperance, and self-control. The laborer who possesses property, “whether he can read and write, or not, has," as Mr. Laing remarks, * " an educated mind: he has forethought, caution, and reflection guiding every action; he
* Residence in Norway, p. 20,
knows the value of restraint, and is in the constant habitual practice of it. It is remarkable how this general proposition is borne out by the character of the rural population in almost every civilized country where peasant properties are frequent. Day laborers, where the laboring class mainly consists of them, are usually improvident; they spend carelessly to the full extent of their means, and let the future shift for itself. This is so notorious, that many persons, otherwise well affected to the laboring classes, hold it as a fixed opinion, that an increase of wages would do them little good, unless accompanied by at least a corresponding improvement in their tastes and habits. The tendency of peasant proprietors, and of those who hope to become proprietors, is to the contrary extreme—to take even too much thought for the morrow. They are oftener accused of penuriousness than of prodigality. They deny themselves reasonable indulgences, and live wretchedly, in order to economize. In Switzerland, almost everybody saves, who has any means of saving; the case of the Flemish farmers I have already noticed : among the French, though a pleasure-loving, and reputed to be a self-indulgent people, the spirit of thrift is diffused through the rural population in a manner most gratifying as a whole, and which in individual instances errs rather on the side of excess than defect. Among those who, from the hovels in which they live, and the herbs and roots which constitute their diet, are mistaken by travellers for proofs aud specimens of general indigence, there are numbers who have hoards in leather bags, consisting of sums in five franc pieces, which they keep by them perhaps a whole generation, unless brought out to be expended in their most cherished gratification—the purchase of land. If there is a moral inconvenience attached to a state of society in which the peasantry have land, it is the danger of their being too careful of their pecuniary concerns; of its making them crafty, and “calculating"