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attended with the additional economical disadvantage of too great a subdivision of the land. It does not follow because landed property is minutely divided, that farms will be so. As large properties are perfectly compatible with small farms, so are small properties with farms of an adequate size; and a subdivision of occupancy is not an inevitable consequence of even undue multiplication among peasant proprietors. As might be expected from their admirable intelligence in things relating to their occupation, the Flemish peasantry have long learnt this lesson. “ The habit of not dividing properties,” says M. Rau,* " and the opinion that this is advantageous, have been so completely preserved in Flanders, that even now, when a peasant dies leaving several children, they do not think of dividing his patrimony, though it be neither entailed nor settled in trust; they prefer selling it entire, and sharing the proceeds, considering it as a jewel which loses its value when it is divided." That the same feeling must prevail widely even in France, is shown by the great frequency of sales of land, amounting in ten years to a fourth part of the whole soil of the country; and M. Passy, in his tract “On the Changes in the Agricultural Condition of the Department of the Eure since the year 1800,”+ states other facts tending to the same conclusion. “The example,” says he, “of this department attests that there does not exist, as some writers have imagined, between the distribution of property and that of cultivation, a connection which tends invincibly to assimilate them. In no portion of it have changes of ownership had a perceptible influence on the size of holdings. While, in
* Page 334 of the Brussels translation. He cites as an authority, Schwerz, Landwirthschaftliche Mittheilungen, i. 185.
+ One of the important papers which have appeared in the Journal des Economistes, the monthly organ of most of the enlightened political economists of France, and doing great honor to their knowledge and abilities, M. Passy's essay has been reprinted separately as a pamphlet.
districts of small farming, lands belonging to the same owner are ordinarily distributed among many tenants, so neither is it uncommon, in places where the grande culture prevails, for the same farmer to rent the lands of several proprietors. In the plains of Vexin, in particular, many active and rich cultivators do not content themselves with a single farm; others add to the lands of their principal holding, all those in the neighborhood which they are able to hire, and in this manner make up a total extent which in some cases reaches or exceeds two hundred hectares," (five hundred English acres.) “ The more the estates are dismembered, the more frequent does this sort of arrangements become ; and as they conduce to the interest of all concerned, it is probable that time will confirm them.”
Undue subdivision, and excessive smallness of holdings, are undoubtedly a prevalent evil in some countries of peasant proprietors, and particularly in parts of Germany and France. The governments of Bavaria and Nassau have thought it necessary to impose a legal limit to subdivision, and the Prussian government unsuccessfully proposed the same, to the States of its Rhenish provinces. But I do not think it will anywhere be found that the petite culture is the system of the peasants, and the grande culture that of the great landlords; on the contrary, wherever the small properties are divided among too many proprietors, I believe it to be true that the large properties also are parcelled out among too many farmers, and that the cause is the same in both cases, a backward state of capital, skill, and agricultural enterprise. There is reason to believe that the subdivision in France is not more excessive than is accounted for by this cause ; that it is diminishing, not increasing; and that the terror expressed in some quarters, at the progress of the morcellement, is one of the most groundless of real or pretended panics.*
• See the Appendix to the present Volume.
If peasant properties have any effect in promoting subdivision beyond the degree which corresponds to the agricultural practices of the country, and which is customary on its large estates, the cause must lie in one of the salutary influences of the system; the eminent degree in which it promotes providence on the part of those who, not being yet peasant proprietors, hope to become so. In England, where the laborer 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 laborer, can raise himself by saving to the condition of a landed proprietor. According to almost all authorities, the real cause of the morcellement is the higher price which can be obtained for land by selling it to the peasantry, as an investment 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 practice the industry, frugality, and self-restraint, on which their success in this object of rational ambition is dependent. In Flanders, according to Mr. Fauche, the British Consul at Ostend, * “ farmers' sons, and those who have the means to become farmers, will delay their marriage until they get possession of a farm.'' Once a farmer, the next object is to become a proprietor. “ The first thing a Dane does with his savings,” says Mr. Browne, the Consul at Copenhagen,t “is to purchase a clock, then a horse and cow, which he hires out, and which pays a good interest. Then his ambition is to become a petty proprietor ; and this class of persons is better off than any in Denmark. Indeed I know of no people in any country who have more easily within their reach all that is really necessary for life than this class, which is very large in comparison with that of laborers.”
* In a communication to the Commissioners of Poor Law Inquiry, p. 640 of their Foreign Communications, Appendix F to their First Report.
+ Ib. 268.
As the result of this inquiry into the direct operation and indirect influences of peasant properties, I conceive it to be established, that there is no necessary connection between this form of landed property and an imperfect state of the arts of production; that it is favorable in quite as many respects as it is unfavorable, 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 other, therefore, is on the whole so favorable, in the present state of their education, both to their moral and their physical welfare. Whether and in what these considerations admit of useful application to any of the social questions of our time, will be considered in a future chapter.
$1. From the case in which the produce of land and labor belongs undividedly to the laborer, we proceed to the cases in which it is divided, but between two classes only, the laborers and the land-owners; the character of capitalist 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 laborer and that of land-owner being united to form the other. This might occur in two ways. The laborers, 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 laborers, capitalists, and landlords. The other case is the not uncommon one, in which a peasant proprietor owns and cultivates the land, 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 do present marked features of peculiarity.
When the two parties sharing in the produce are the laborer, or laborers, and the land-owner, it is not a very material circumstance in the case, which of the two fur