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bad farmers who do such things; but they are not indolent, not ignorant of the principle of working in concert, and keeping up establishments for common benefit. They are undoubtedly, in these respects, far in advance of any community of cottars in our Highland glens. They feel as proprietors, who receive the advantage of their own exertions. The excellent state of the roads and bridges is another proof that the country is inhabited by people who have a common interest to keep them under repair. There are no tolls." *
On the effects of peasant proprietorship on the Continent generally, the same writer expresses himself as follows.f
"If we listen to the large farmer, the scientific agriculturist, the" [English] "political economist, good farming must perish with large farms; the very idea that good farming can exist, unless on large farms cultivated with great capital, they hold to be absurd.
the parts of Europe where the most extensive and costly plans for watering the meadows and lands have been carried out in the greatest perfection, are those where the lands are very much subdivided, and are in the hands of small proprietors. He instances the plain round Valencia, several of the southern departments of France, particularly those of Vaucluse and Bouches du Rhone, Lombardy, Tuscany, the districts of Sienna, Lucca, and Bergamo, Piedmont, many parts of Germany, &-c., in all which parts of Europe the land is very much subdivided among small proprietors. In all these parts great and expensive systems and plans of general irrigation have been carried out, and are now being supported by the small proprietors themselves; thus showing how they are able to accomplish, by means of combination, work requiring the expenditure of great quantities of capital." Kay, i. 126.
* Laing, Journal of a Residence in Norway, pp. 36, 37. [From the 3rd ed. (1852) was omitted the following further passage from Laing, quoted in the 1st and 2nd: "It is, I am aware, a favourite and constant observation of our agricultural writers, that these small proprietors make the worst farmers. It may be so; but a population may be in a wretched condition, although their country is very well farmed; or they may be happy, although bad cultivators. . . . Good farming is a phrase composed of two words which have no more application to the happiness or well-being of a people than good weaving or good iron-founding. That the human powers should be well applied, and not misapplied, in the production of grain, or iron, or clothing, is, no doubt, an object of great importance; but the happiness or well-being of a people does not entirely depend upon it. It has more effect on their numbers than on their condition. The producer of grain who is working for himself only, who is owner of his land, and has not a third of its produce to pay as rent, can afford to be a worse farmer by one-third, than a tenant, and is, notwithstanding, in a preferable condition. Our agricultural writers tell us, indeed, that labourers in agriculture are much better off as farm-servants than they would be as small proprietors. We have only the master's word for this. Ask the servant. The colonists told us the same thing of their slaves. If property is a good and desirable thing, I suspect that the smallest quantity of it is good and desirable; and that the state of society in which it is most widely diffused is the best constituted."]
f Notes of a Traveller, pp. 299 et seqq.
Draining, manuring; economical arrangement, cleaning the land, regular rotations, valuable stock and implements, all belong exclusively to large farms, worked by large capital, and by hired labour. This reads very well; but if we raise our eyes from their books to their fields, and coolly compare what we see in the best districts farmed in large farms, with what we see in the best districts farmed in small farms, we see, and there is no blinking the fact, better crops on the ground in Flanders, East Friesland, Holstein, in short, on the whole line of the arable land of equal quality of the Continent, from the Sound to Calais, than we see on the line of British coast opposite to this line, and in the same latitudes, from the Frith of Forth all round to Dover. Minute labour on small portions of arable ground gives evidently, in equal soils and climates, a superior productiveness, where these small portions belong in property, as in Flanders, Holland, Friesland, and Ditmarsch in Holstein, to the farmer. It is not pretended by our agricultural writers, that our large farmers, even in Berwickshire, Roxburghshire, or the Lothians, approach to the garden-like cultivation, attention to manures, drainage, and clean state of the land, or in productiveness from a small space of soil not originally rich, which distinguish the small farmers of Flanders, or their system. In the best-farmed parish in Scotland or England, more land is wasted in the corners and borders of the fields of large farms, in the roads through them, unnecessarily wide because they are bad, and bad because they are wide, in neglected commons, waste spots, useless belts and clumps of sorry trees, and such unproductive areas, than would maintain the poor of the parish, if they were all laid together and cultivated. But large capital applied to farming is of course only applied to the very best of the soils of a country. It cannot touch the small unproductive spots which require more time and labour to fertilize them than is consistent with a quick return of capital. But although hired time and labour cannot be applied beneficially to such cultivation, the owner's own time and labour may. He is working for no higher terms at first from his land than a bare living. But in the course of generations fertility and value are produced; a better living, and even very improved processes of husbandry, are attained. Furrow draining, stall feeding all summer, liquid manures, are universal in the husbandry of the small farms of Flanders, Lombardy, Switzerland. Our most improving districts under large farms are but beginning to adopt them. Dairy husbandry even, and the manufacture of the largest cheeses by the co-operation of many small farmers,* the mutual assurance of property against fire and hail-storms, by the co-operation of small farmers—the most scientific and expensive of all agricultural operations in modern times, the manufacture of beet-root sugar—the supply of the European markets with flax and hemp, by the husbandry of small farmers—the abundance of legumes, fruits, poultry, in the usual diet even of the lowest classes abroad, and the total want of such variety at the tables even of our middle classes, and this variety and abundance essentially connected with the husbandry of small farmers—all these are features in the occupation of a country by small proprietor-farmers, which must make the inquirer pause before he admits the dogma of our land doctors at home, that large farms worked by hired labour and great capital can alone bring out the greatest productiveness of the soil and furnish the greatest supply of the necessaries and conveniences of life to the inhabitants of a country."
§ 4. Among the many flourishing regions of Germany in which peasant properties prevail, I select the Palatinate, for the advantage of quoting, from an English source, the results of recent personal observation of its agriculture and its people. Mr. Howitt, a writer whose habit it is to see all English objects and English socialities en beau, and who, in treating of the Rhenish peasantry, certainly does not underrate the rudeness of their implements, and the inferiority of their ploughing, nevertheless shows that under the invigorating influence of the feelings of proprietorship, they make up for the imperfections of their apparatus by the intensity of their
* The manner in which the Swiss peasants combine to carry on cheesemaking by their united capital deserves to be noted. "Each parish in Switzerland hires a man, generally from the district of Gruyere in the canton of Freyburg, to take care of the herd, and make the cheese. One cheeseman, one pressman or assistant, and one cowherd are considered necessary for every forty cows. The owners of the cows get credit each of them, in a book daily for the quantity of milk given by each cow. The cheeseman and his assistants milk the cows, put the milk all together, and make cheese of it, and at the end of the season each owner receives the weight of cheese proportionable to the quantity of milk his cows have delivered. By this co-operative plan, instead of the small-sized unmarketable cheeses only, which each could produce out of his three or four cows' milk, he has the same weight in large marketable cheese superior in quality, because made by people who attend to no other business. The cheeseman and his assistants are paid so much per head of the cows, in money or in cheese, or sometimes they hire the cows, and pay the owners in money or cheese." Notes of a Traveller, p. 351. A similar system exists in the French Jura. See, for full details, Lavergiie, Economic Rurale de la France, 2nd ed., pp. 139 et seqq. One of the most remarkable points in this interesting case of combination of labour is the confidence which it supposes, and which experience must justify, in the integrity of the persons employed.
application. "The peasant harrows and clears his land till it is in the nicest order, and it is admirable to see the crops which he obtains." * "The peasants f are the great and ever-present objects of country life. They are the great population of the country, because they themselves are the possessors. This country is, in fact, for the most part, in the hands of the people. It is parcelled
out among the multitude The peasants are not, as with us,
for the most part, totally cut off from property in the soil they cultivate, totally dependent on the labour afforded by others—they are themselves the proprietors. It is, perhaps, from this cause that they are probably the most industrious peasantry in the world. They labour busily, early and late, because they feel that they are
labouring for themselves The German peasants work hard,
but they have no actual want. Every man has his house, his orchard, his roadside trees, commonly so heavy with fruit, that he is obliged to prop and secure them all ways, or they would be torn to pieces. He has his corn-plot, his plot for mangel-wurzel, for hemp, and so on. He is his own master; and he, and every member of his family, have the strongest motives to labour. You see the effect of this in that unremitting diligence which is beyond that of the whole world besides, and his economy, which is still greater. The Germans, indeed, are not so active and lively as the English. You never see them in a bustle, or as though they meant to knock
off a vast deal in a little time They are, on the contrary,
slow, but for ever doing. They plod on from day to day, and year to year—the most patient, untirable, and persevering of animals. The English peasant is so cut off from the idea of property, that he comes habitually to look upon it as a thing from which he is warned by the laws of the large proprietors, and becomes, in consequence,
spiritless, purposeless The German bauer, on the contrary,
looks on the country as made for him and his fellow-men. He feels himself a man ; he has a stake in the country, as good as that of the bulk of his neighbours; no man can threaten him with ejection, or the workhouse, so long as he is active and economical. He walks, therefore, with a bold step; he looks you in the face with the air of a free man, but of a respectful one."
Of their industry, the same writer thus further speaks: "There is not an hour of the year in which they do not find unceasing occupation. In the depth of winter, when the weather permits them by any means to get out of doors, they are always finding something to do. They carry out their manure to their lands while the frost is in them. If there is not frost, they are busy cleaning ditches and felling old fruit trees, or such as do not bear well. Such of them as are too poor to lay in a sufficient stock of wood, find plenty of work in ascending into the mountainous woods, and bringing thence fuel. It would astonish the English common people to see the intense labour with which the Germans earn their firewood. In the depths of frost and snow, go into any of their hills and woods, and there you will find them hacking up stumps, cutting off branches, and gathering, by all means which the official wood-police will allow, boughs, stakes, and pieces of wood, which they convey home with the most incredible toil and patience." * After a description of their careful and laborious vineyard culture, he continues,! "In England, with its great quantity of grass lands, and its large farms, so soon as the grain is in, and the fields are shut up for hay grass, the country seems in a comparative state of rest and quiet. But here they are everywhere, and for ever, hoeing and mowing, planting and cutting, weeding and gathering. They have a succession of crops like a market-gardener. They have their carrots, poppies, hemp, flax, saintfoin, lucerne, rape, colewort, cabbage, rotabaga, black turnips, Swedish and white turnips, teazels, Jerusalem artichokes, mangelwurzel, parsnips, kidney-beans, field beans, and peas, vetches, Indian corn, buckwheat, madder for the manufacturer, potatoes, their great crop of tobacco, millet—all, or the greater part, under the family management, in their own family allotments. They have had these things first to sow, many of them to transplant, to hoe, to weed, to clear of insects, to top; many of them to mow and gather in successive crops. They have their water-meadows, of which kind almost all their meadows are, to flood, to mow, and reflood; watercourses to reopen and to make anew: their early fruits to gather, to bring to market with their green crops of vegetables; their cattle, sheep, calves, foals, most of them prisoners, and poultry to look after; their vines, as they shoot rampantly in the summer heat, to prune, and thin out the leaves when they are too thick: and any one may imagine what a scene of incessant labour it is."
* Rural and Domestic Life of Germany, p. 27, t Ibid. p. 40,