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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 labourers.”
But the experience which most decidedly contradicts the asserted tendency of peasant proprietorship to produce excess of population, is the case of France. In that country the experiment is not tried in the most favourable circumstances, a large proportion of the properties being too small. The number of landed proprietors in France is not exactly ascertained, but on no estimate does it fall much short of five millions; which, on the lowest calculation of the num. ber of persons of a family (and for France it ought to be a low calculation), shows much more than half the population as either possessing, or entitled to inherit, landed property. A majority of the properties are so small as not to afford a subsistence to the proprietors, of whom, according to some computations, as many as three millions are obliged to eke out their means of support either by working for hire, or by taking additional land, generally on metayer tenure. When the property possessed is not sufficient to relieve the possessor from dependence on wages, the condition of a proprietor loses much of its characteristic efficacy as a check country. There are now many more small independent proprietors than formerly. Yet, however many complaints of pauperism are heard among the dependent labourers, we never hear it complained that pauperism is increasing among the peasant proprietors.”—Kay, i. 262-6.
* In a communication to the Commissioners of the Poor Law Enquiry, p. 640 of their Foreign Communications, Appendix F to their First Report.
| Ibid. 268.
to over-population : and if the prediction so often made in England had been realized, and France had become a “pauper warren," the experiment would have proved nothing against the tendencies of the same system of agricultural economy in other circumstances. But what is the fact? That the rate of increase of the French population is the slowest in Europe. During the generation which the Revolution raised from the extreme of hopeless wretchedness to sudden abundance, a great increase of population took place. But a generation has grown up, which, having been born in improved circumstances, has not learnt to be miserable; and upon them the spirit of thrift operates most conspicuously, in keeping the increase of population within the increase of national wealth. In a table, drawn up by Professor Rau, * of the rate of annual increase of the populations of various countries, that of France, from 1817 to 1827, is stated at per cent, that of England during a similar decennial period being 1% annually, and that of the United States nearly 3. According to the official returns as
* The following is the table (see p. 168 of the Belgian translation of Mr. Rau's large work): Per cent.
Per cent. United States . . . . 1820-30 . . 2.92 Scotland ...... 1821-31 . . 1:30 Hungary (according to Rohrer) 2:40 Saxony ....... 1815-30 . . 1:15 England ...... 1811-21 .. 1.78 Baden ... 1820-30 (Heunisch) 1:13
...... 1821-31 . . 1•60 Bavaria . ...... 1814-28 . . 1:08 Austria (Rohrer). ........ 1:30 Naples ....... 1814-24 . . 0.83 Prussia ....... 1816-27 . . 1:54 France . . . 1817-27 (Mathieu) 0.63
....... 1820-30 . . 1:37 and more recently (Moreau de
....... 1821-31 . . 1.27 Jonnès) ............ 0:55 Netherlands .... 1821-28 . . 1.28
But the number given by Moreau de Jonnès, he adds, is not entitled to implicit confidence.
The following table given by M. Quetelet (Sur l'Homme et le Developpement de ses Facultés, vol. i. ch. 7) also on the authority of Rau, contains additional matter, and differs in some items from the preceding, probably from the author's having taken, in those cases, an average of different years: Per cent. I Per cent. 1
Per cent. Ireland . . . 2:45 | Rhenish Prussia 1:33 | Naples ... 083 Hungary. . . 2:40 Austria . . . 1:30 France ... 063 Spain . . . . 1.66 Bavaria . . . 1•08 Sweden... 0:58 England . . . 1.65 ) Netherlands. . 0.94 | Lombardy · · 0:45
A very carefully prepared statement, by M. Legoyt, in the Journal des
analyzed by M. Legoyt,* the increase of the population, which from 1801 to 1806 was at the rate of 1.28 per cent annually, averaged only 0.47 per cent from 1806 to 1831; from 1831 to 1836 it averaged 0.60 per cent; from 1836 to 1841, 0:41 per cent, and from 1841 to 1846, 0.68 per cent. + At the census of 1851 the rate of annual increase shown was only 1•08 per cent in the five years, or 0.21 annually ; and at the census of 1856 only 0.71 per cent in five years, or 0·14 annually : so that, in the words of M. de Lavergne, “la population ne s'accroît presque plus en France.”+ Even this slow increase is wholly the effect of a dimunition of deaths; the number of births not increasing at all, while the proportion of the births to the population is constantly diminishing. This slow growth of the numbers of the
Economistes for May 1847, which brings up the results for France to the census of the preceding year 1846, is summed up in the following table:
to the census.
the excess of births over
to the census.
of births over
(exclusive I 1.95
* Journal des Economistes for March and May 1847,
+ M. Legoyt is of opinion that the population was understated in 1841, and the increase between that time and 1846 consequently overstated, and that the real increase during the whole period was something intermediate between the last two averages, or not much more than one in two hundred.
† Journal des Economistes for February 1847.
Sannual number )
S of the poof births ro 981,914, being 1 in 32:30
pulation. , 1829 to 1833
965,444, , 1 in 34:00 » 1834 to 1838
972,993, „ 1 in 34:39 1839 to 1843
970,617, , 1 in 35•27 , 1844 & 1845
983,573, „ 1 in 35.58 In the last two years the births, according to M. Legoyt, were swelled by the
people, while capital increases much more rapidly, has caused a noticeable improvement in the condition of the labouring class. The circumstances of that portion of the class who are landed proprietors are not easily ascertained with precision, being of course extremely variable; but the mere labourers, who derived no direct benefit from the changes in landed property which took place at the Revolution, have unquestionably much improved in condition since that period.* Dr. Rau testifies to a similar fact in
effects of a considerable immigration. “Cette diminution des naissances," he observes, “en présence d'un accroissement constant, quoique peu rapide, de la population générale et des mariages, ne peut être attribué qu'aux progrès de l'esprit d'ordre et de prévision dans les familles. C'est d'ailleurs la conséquence prévue de nos institutions civiles et sociales, qui, en amenant chaque jour une plus grande subdivision de la fortune territoriale et mobilière de la France, développent au sein des populations les instincts de conservation et de bienêtre.”
In four departments, among which are two of the most thriving in Normandy, the deaths even then exceeded the births. The last census, that of 1856, exhibits the remarkable fact of a positive diminution in the population of 54 out of the 86 departments. A significant comment on the pauper-warren theory. See M. de Lavergne's analysis of the returns.
* “ Les classes de notre population qui n'ont que leur salaire, celles qui, par cette raison, sont les plus exposées à l'indigence, sont aujourd'hui beaucoup mieux pourvues des objets nécessaires à la nourriture, au logement et au vêtement, qu'elles ne l'étaient au commencement du siècle. . . . On peut appuyer [ce fait] du témoignage de toutes les personnes qui ont souvenir de la première des époques comparées. . . . S'il restait des doutes à cet égard, on pourrait facilement les dissiper en consultant les anciens cultivateurs et les anciens ouvriers, ainsi que nous l'avons fait nous-mêmes dans diverses localités, sans rencontrer un seul témoignage contradictoire; on peut invoquer aussi les renseignemens receuillis à ce sujet par un observateur exact, M. Villermé (Tableau de l'Etat Physique et Moral des Ouvriers, liv. ii. ch. 1.)" From an intelligent work published in 1846, Recherches sur les Causes de l'Indigence, par A. Clement, pp. 84-5. The same writer speaks (p. 118) of “la hausse considérable qui s'est manifestée depuis 1789 dans le taux du salaire de nos cultivateurs journaliers ;” and adds the following evidence of a higher standard or habitual requirements, even in that portion of the town population, the state of which is usually represented as most deplorable. “Depuis quinze à vingt ans, un changement considérable s'est manifesté dans les habitudes des ouvriers de nos villes manufacturière: ils dépensent aujourd'hui beaucoup plus que par le passé pour le vêtement et la parure. ..... Les ouvriers de certaines classes, tels que les anciens canuts de Lyon,” (according to all representations, like their
the case of another country in which the subdivision of the land is probably excessive, the Palatinate.*
I am not aware of a single authentic instance which supports the assertion that rapid multiplication is promoted
counterpart, our handloom weavers, the very worst paid class of artizans,)“ne se montrent plus comme autrefois couverts de sales haillons.” (Page 164.)
The preceding statements were given in former editions of this work, being the best to which I had at the time access; but evidence, both of a more recent, and of a more minute and precise character, will now be found in the important work of M. Léonee de Lavergne, Economie Rurale de la France depuis 1789. According to that pains-taking, well-informed, and most impartial enquirer, the average daily wages of a French labourer have risen, since the commencement of the Revolution, in the ratio of 19 to 30, while, owing to the more constant employment, the total earnings have increased in a still greater ratio, not short of double. The following are the words of M. de Lavergne (2nd ed. p. 57):
“Arthur Young évalue a dix-neuf sols le prix moyen de la journée du travail, qui doit être aujourd'hui d'un franc cinquante centimes, et cette augmentation ne représente encore qu'une partie du gain réalisé. Bien que la nation rurale soit restée à peu près la même, l'excédant de population survenu depuis 1789 s'étant concentré dans les villes, le nombre effectif des journées de travail a grossi, d'abord parce que la vie moyenne s'étant allongée, le nombre des hommes valides s'est élevé, et ensuite parce que le travail est mieux organisé, soit par la suppression de plusieurs fêtes chomées, soit par le seul effet d'une demande plus active. En tenant compte de l'accroissement du nombre des journées, le gain annuel de l'ouvrier rural doit avoir doublé. . . . Cette augmentation dans le salaire se traduit pour l'ouvrier en une augmentation au moins correspondante de bien-être, puisque le prix des principaux objets nécessaires à la vie a peu changé, et que celui des objets fabriqués, des tissus, par exemple, a sensiblement baissé. L'habitation est également devenue meilleure, sinon partout, du moins dans la plupart de nos provinces.”
M. de Lavergne's estimate of the average amount of a day's wages is grounded on a careful comparison, in this and all other economical points of view, of all the different provinces of France.
* In his little book on the Agriculture of the Palatinate, already cited. He says that the daily wages of labour, which during the last years of the war were unusually high, and so continued until 1817, afterwards sank to a lower moneyrate, but that the prices of many commodities having fallen in a still greater proportion, the condition of the people was unequivocally improved. The food given to farm labourers by their employers has also greatly improved in quantity and quality. “Sie heutigen Tages bedeutend besser ist, als vor ungefähr 40 Jahren, wo das Gesinde weniger Fleisch und Mehlspeisen, keinen Käse zum Brote u. dgl. erhielt.” (p. 20.) “Such an increase of wages” (adds the Professor) “which must be estimated not in money, but in the quantity of necessa