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nishes the stock, or whether, as sometimes happens, they furnish it, in a determinate. proportion, between them. The essential 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 laborer, or peasant, makes his engagement directly with the landowner, and pays, not a fixed rent, either in money or in kind, but a certain 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 laborer providing the implements.* “ This connection,”
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 labor, 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 Fleuran, 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 live stock, implements, harness, and taxes ; the metayer found labor 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 the 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.)
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 been expressed; and the landlord who attempted to depart from usage, who exacted more than his neighbor, 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 Chateauvieux,t 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." I
$ 2. When the partition of the produce is a matter of fixed usage, not of varying convention, political economy
* Etudes sur l'Economie Politique, 6me essai : De la condition des Cultivateurs en Toscane. + Letters from Italy. I quote from Dr. Rigby's translation (p. 22).
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.” (Nouveaux Principes, liv. iii. ch. 5.)
has no laws of distribution to investigate. It has only to consider, as in the case of peasant proprietors, the effects of the system, first, on the condition of the peasantry, morally and physically, and secondly, on the efficiency of the labor. 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 laborer, 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 his 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.* 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 laborers. The landlord is no doubt liable in the end to suffer from their poverty, by being forced to make adrances 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 rezy fairly stated by Adam Smith. After pointing out that meta rers have a plain interest that the whole produce
• high authority among French political economists, M. Frédéric Rest, affirms that even in France, incontestably the least favorable exampie as the metayer system, its effect in repressing population, is conspicuous.
l'n fait bien constaté, c'est que la tendance à une multiplication sinanee se manifeste principalement au sein de cette classe d'hommes qui rit de salaires. Cette prévoyance qui retarde les mariages a sur elle peu d'empire, parce que les maux qui résultent de l'excès de concur. rence ne lui apparaissent que très-confusément, et dans un lointain en apparence peu redoutable. C'est donc la circonstance la plus favorable pour un pays d'être organisé de manière à exclure le salariat. Dans les pays de metairies, les mariages sont déterminés principalement par les besoins de la culture ; ils se multiplient quand, par quelque circonstance, les metaines ostrent des rides nuisibles aux travaux; ils se ralentissent quand les places sont remplies. Ici, un état de choses facile à constater, savoir, le rapport entre l'étendue du domaine et le nombre des bras, opère comme la preros. anok et plus surement qu'elle. Aussi voyons-nous que si aucune circostance n'intervient pour ouvrir des débouchés à une population surnumeraires elle demeure stationnaire. Nos départements méridionaux en sont la preure."-Considérations sur le Métayage, Journal des Economistes for February, 1846.
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 improvement of the land, any part of the little 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 their 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-at-will; 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 which we are discussing, he enjoys by custom, renders his consent a necessary condition; the spirit of routine, and dislike of
• Wealth of Nations, book iii. ch. 2.