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husbandry, reclaimed and brought into cultivation 1,032 plantation acres of land, previously unproductive mountain waste, upon which they grew, last year, crops valued by competent practical persons at £3,896, being in the proportion of £ 15 18s. each tenant; and their live stock, consisting of cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs, now actually upon the estates, is valued, according to the present prices of the neighboring markets, at £4,162, of which £1,304 has been added since February, 1844, being at the rate of £16 19s. for the whole period, and £ 5 6s. for the last year ; during which time their stock has thus increased in value a sum equal to their present annual rent; and by the statistical table and returns referred to in previous reports, it is proved that the tenants, in general, improve their little farms, and increase their cultivation and crops, in nearly direct proportion to the number of available working persons of both sexes of which their families consist.”
There cannot be a stronger testimony to the superior amount of gross produce raised by small farming, under any tolerable system of landed tenure ; and it is worthy of attention, that the industry and zeal are greatest among the staller holders ; Colonel Robinson noticing as exceptions to the remarkable and rapid progress of improvement, some tenants - who are occupants of larger farms than twenty acres, a class too often deficient in the enduring industry indispensable for the successful prosecution of mountain improvements."
$ 3. The case of Ireland is similar in its requirements to that of India. In India, though great errors have from time to time been committed, no one ever proposed, under the naine of agricultural improvement, to eject the ryots or prasant farmers from their possessions; all the improvement that has been looked for, has been through making their tenure more secure to them, and the sole difference of opinion is between those who contend for a perpetuity, and those who think that long leases will suffice. The same question may exist as to Ireland ; and with the case of the Waste Lands Improvement Society before us, as well as many other instances of reclamation of land, recorded by Lord Devon's Commission, it would be idle to deny that long leases, under such landlords as are sometimes to be found, do effect wonders, even in Ireland. But then, they must be leases at a low rent. Long leases are in no way to be relied on for getting rid of cottierism. During the existence of cottier tenancy, leases have always been long; twenty-one years and three lives concurrent, was a usual term. But the rent being fixed by competition, at a higher amount than could be paid, so that the tenant neither had, nor could by any exertion acquire, a beneficial interest in the land, the advantage of a lease was merely nominal. In India, the government is able to prevent this evil, because, being itself the landlord, it can fix the rent according to its own judgment; but under individual landlords, while rents are fixed by competition, and the competitors are a peasantry struggling for subsistence, nominal rents are inevitable, unless the population is so thin that the competition itself is only nominal. The majority of landlords will grasp at immediate money and immediate power; and so long as they find cottiers eager to offer them every thing, it is useless to rely on them for tempering the vicious practice by a considerate self-denial.
A perpetuity is a preferable tenure to a long lease ; it is a far stronger stimulus to improvement; not only because the longest lease, before coming to an end, passes through all the varieties of short leases down to no lease at all; but for more fundamental reasons. It is very shallow, even in pure economics, to take no account of the influence of imagination: there is a virtue in “forever” beyond the longest term of years ; even if the term is long enough to include children, and all whom a person individually cares for, he will not exert himself with the same ardor to increase the value of an estate, his interest in which diminishes in value every year. A lease, therefore, is never a complete substitute for a perpetuity. But where a country is under cottier tenure, the question of perpetuity is quite secondary to the more important point, a limitation of the rent. Rent paid by a capitalist, who farms for profit and not for bread, may safely be abandoned to competition; rent paid by laborers cannot, unless the laborers were in a state of civilization and improvement which laborers have nowhere yet reached, and cannot easily reach under such a tenure. Peasant rents ought never to be arbitrary, never at the discretion of the landlord ; either by custom or law it is imperatively necessary that they should be fixed ; and where no mutually advantageous custom, such as the metayer system of Tuscany, has established itself, reason and experience recommend that they should be fixed in perpetuity; thus changing the rent into a quit-rent, and the farmer into a peasant proprietor.
4. Let us then examine what means are afforded by the economical circumstances of Ireland, for carrying this change into effect on a sufficiently large scale to accomplish the complete abolition of cottier tenancy. The mode which first suggests itself is the obvious and direct one, of doing the thing outright by act of Parliament; making the whole land of Ireland the property of the tenants, subject to the rents now really paid, (not the nominal rents) as a fixed rent charge. This, under the name of “fixity of tenure," was one of the demands of the Repeal Association during the most successful period of their agitation ; and was better expressed by Mr. Conner, its earliest, most enthusiastic, and most indefatigable apostle,* by the words, "a valuation and a perpetuity.” In this measure there would not, strictly speaking, be any injustice, provided the landlords were compensated for the present value of the chances of increase which they would be prospectively required to forego. The rupture of existing social relations would hardly be more violent than that effected by the ministers Stein and Hardenberg, when by a series of edicts, in the early part of the present century, they revolutionized the state of landed property in the Prussian monarchy, and left their names to posterity among the greatest benefactors of their country. To enlightened foreigners writing on Ireland, Von Raumer and Gustave de Beaumont, a remedy of this sort seems so exactly and obviously what the disease requires, that they have some difficulty in comprehending how it is that the thing is not yet done.
But though this measure is not beyond the competence of a just legislature, and would be no infringement of property if the landlords had the option allowed them of giving up their lands at the full value, reckoned at the ordinary number of years' purchase ; it is only fit to be adopted if the nature of the case admitted of no milder remedy. In the first place, it is a complete expropriation of the higher classes of Ireland ; which, if there is any truth in the principles we have laid down, would be perfectly warrantable, but only if it were the sole means of effecting a great public good. In the second place, that there should be none but peasant proprietors, is in itself far from desirable. Large farms, cultivated by large capitals, and owned by persons of the best education which the country can give, persons qualified by instruction to appreciate scientific discoveries,
* Author of numerous pamphlets, entitled “True Political Economy and Ireland," "Letter to the Earl of Devon," “ Two Letters on the Rackseat Oppression of Ireland," and others. Mr. Conner has been an agitator og the subject since 1832.
and able to bear the delay and risk of costly experiments, are an important part of a good agricultural system. Many such landlords there are even in Ireland ; and it would be a public misfortune to drive them from their post. Other objections might be added : a large proportion of the present holdings are too small, to try the proprietary system under the greatest advantages; nor are the tenants always the persons one would desire to select, as the first occupants of peasant properties. There are numbers of them on whom it would have a more beneficial effect to give them the hope of acquiring a landed property by industry and frugality, than the property itself in immediate possession.
$ 5. Some persons who desire to avoid the term fixity of tenure, but who cannot be satisfied without some measure coëxtensive with the whole country, have proposed the universal adoption of “tenant right.” Under this equivocal phrase, two things are confounded. What it commonly stands for in Irish discussion, is the Ulster practice, which is, in fact, fixity of tenure. It supposes a customary, though not a legal, limitation of the rent; without which the tenant evidently could not acquire a beneficial and saleable interest. Its existence is highly salutary, and is one principal cause of the superiority of Ulster in efficiency of cultivation and in the comfort of the people, notwithstanding a minuter subdivision of holdings than in the other provinces. But to convert his customary limitation of rent into a legal one, and to make it universal, would be to establish a fixity of tenure by law, the objections to which have already been stated.
The same appellation (tenant right) has of late years been applied, more particularly in England, to something altogether different, and falling as much short of the exigency, as the enforcement of the Ulster custom would exceed it. This English tenant right, with which a high