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for the same purpose, the labour of four is requisite. Does it follow that England must have a larger surplus for the support of a non-agricultural population ? No; but merely that she can devote two-thirds of her whole produce to the purpose, instead of one-third. Suppose the produce to be twice as great, and the one-third will amount to as much as the two-thirds. The fact might be, that owing to the greater quantity of labour employed on the French system, the same land would produce food for twelve persons which on the English system would only produce it for six : and if this were so, which would be quite consistent with the conditions of the hypothesis, then although the food for twelve was produced by the labour of eight, while the six were fed by the labour of only two, there would be the same number of hands disposable for other employment in the one country as in the other. I am not contending that the fact is so. I know that the gross produce per acre in France as a whole (though not in its most improved districts) averages much less than in England, and that, in proportion io the extent and fertility of the two countries, England has, in the sense we are now speaking of, much the largest disposable population. But the disproportion certainly is not to be measured by Mr. Wakefield's simple criterion. As well might it be said that agricultural labour in the United States, where, by a late census, four families in every five appeared to be engaged in agriculture, must be still more inefficient than in France.
The inferiority of French cultivation (which, taking the country as a whole, must be allowed to be real, though much exaggerated,) is probably more owing to the lower general average of industrial skill and energy in that country, than to any special cause: and even if partly the effect of minute subdivision, it does not prove that small farming is disadvantageous, but only (what is undoubtedly the fact) that farms in France are very frequently too small, and, what is worse, broken up into an almost incredible number of patches or parcelles, most inconveniently dispersed and parted from one another.
As a question, not of gross, but of net produce, the comparative merits of the grande and the petite culture, especial· ly when the small farmer is also the proprietor, cannot be looked upon as decided. It is a question on which good judges at present differ. The current of English opinion is in favour of large farms; on the Continent, the weight of authority seems to be on the other side. Professor Rau, of Heidelberg, the author of one of the most comprehensive and elaborate of extant treatises on political economy, and who has that large acquaintance with facts and authorities on his own subject, which generally characterises his countrymen, lays it down as a settled truth, that small or moderate-sized farms yield not only a larger gross but a larger net produce: though, he adds, it is desirable there should be some great proprietors, to lead the way in new improvements.* The most apparently impartial and discriminating judgment that I have met with is that of M. Passy, who (always speaking with reference to net produce) gives his verdict in favour of large farms for grain and forage; but, for the kinds of culture which require much labour and attention, places the advantage wholly on the side of small cultivation; including in this description, not only the vine and the olive, where a considerable amount of care and labour must be bestowed on each individual plant, but also roots, leguminous plants, and those which furnish the materials of manufactures. The small size, and consequent multiplication, of farms, according to all authorities, are extremely favourable to the abundance of many minor pro. ducts of agriculture.t
It is evident that every labourer who extracts from the land more than his own food, and that of any family he may have, increases the means of supporting a non-agricultural population. Even if his surplus is no more than enough to buy clothes, the labourers who make the clothes are a nonagricultural population, enabled to exist by food which he produces. Every agricultural family, therefore, which produces its own necessaries, adds to the net produce of agriculture; and so does every person born on the land, who by employing himself on it, adds more to its gross produce than the mere food which he eats. It is questionable whether, even in the most subdivided districts of Europe which are cultivated by the proprietors, the multiplication of hands on the soil has approached, or tends to approach, within a great distance of this limit. In France, though the sub-division is confessedly too great, there is proof positive that it is far from having reached the point at which it would begin to diminish the power of supporting a nonagricultural population. This is demonstrated by the great increase of the towns; which have of late increased in a much greater ratio than the population generally,* showing (unless the condition of the town labourers is becoming rapidly deteriorated, which there is no reason to believe) that even by the unfair and inapplicable test of proportions, the productiveness of agriculture must be on the increase. This, too, concurrently with the amplest evidence that in the more improved districts of France, and in some which, until lately, were among the unimproved, there is a considerably increased consumption of country produce by the country population itself.
** See pp. 352 and 353 of a French translation published at Brussels in 1839, by M. Fred. de Kemmeter, of Ghent.
+ “Dans le département du Nord,” says M. Passy, “ une ferme de 20 hectares recueille en veaux, laitage, aufs, et volailles, parfois pour un millier de francs dans l'année; et, les frais défalqués, c'est l'équivalent d'une addition au produit net de 15 à 20 francs par hectare.” Des Systèmes de Culture, p. 114.
Impressed with the conviction that, of all faults which can be committed by a scientific writer on political and social subjects, exaggeration, and assertions beyond the evidence, most require to be guarded against, I limited myself in the early editions of this work to the foregoing very moderate statements. I little knew how much stronger my language might have been without exceeding the truth, and how much the actual progress of French agriculture surpassed anything which I had at that time sufficient grounds to affirm. The investigations of that eminent authority on agricultural statistics, M. Léonce de Lavergne, undertaken by desire of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institute of France, have led to the conclusion that since the Revolution of 1789, the total produce of French agriculture has doubled ; profits and wages having both increased in about the same, and rent in a still greater ratio. M. de Lavergne, whose impartiality is one of his greatest merits, is, moreover, so far in this instance from the suspicion of having a case to make out, that he is labouring to show, not how much French agriculture has accomplished, but how much still remains for it to do. “We have required” (he says) “no less than seventy years to bring into cultivation two million hectares” (five million English acres) "of waste land, to suppress half our fallows, double our agricultural products, increase our population by 30 per cent., our wages by 100 per cent., our rent by 150 per cent. At this rate we shall require three quarters of a century more to arrive at the point which England has already attained."*
* During the interval between the census of 1851 and that of 1856, the increase of the population of Paris alone, exceeded the aggregate increase of all France; while nearly all the other large towns likewise show an increase.
After this evidence, we have surely now heard the last of the incompatibility of small properties and small farms with agricultural improvement. The only question which remains open is one of degree; the comparative rapidity of agricultural improvement under the two systems; and it is the general opinion of those who are equally well acquainted with both, that improvement is greatest under a due admixture between them.
In the present chapter, we do not enter on the question between great and small cultivation in any other respect
* Economie Rurale de la France depuis 1789. Par M. Léonce de Lavergne, Membre de l'Institut et de la Société Centrale d'Agriculture de France. 2me éd.