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The general system, however, of English cultivation, affording no experience to render the nature and operation of peasant properties familiar, and Englishmen beingin general profoundly ignorant of the agricultural economy of other countries, the very idea of peasant proprietors is strange to the English mind, and does not easily find access to it. Even the forms of language stand in the way: the familiar designation for owners of land being "landlords," a term to which "tenants" is always understood as a correlative. When, at the time of the famine, the suggestion of peasant properties as a means of Irish improvement found its way into parliamentary and newspaper discussions, there were writers of pretension to whom the word "proprietor" was so far from conveying any distinct idea, that they mistook the small holdings of Irish cottier tenants for peasant properties. The subject being so little understood, I think it important, before entering into the theory of it, to do something towards showing how the case stands as to matter of fact; by exhibiting, at greater length than would otherwise be admissible, some of the testimony which exists respecting the state of cultivation, and the comfort and happiness of the cultivators, in those countries and parts of countries, in which the greater part of the land has neither landlord nor farmer, other than the labourer who tills the soil.

§ 2. I lay no stress on the condition of North America, where, as is well known, the land, wherever free from the curse of slavery, is almost universally owned by the same person who holds the plough. A country combining the natural fertility of America with the knowledge and arts

weaver was here and there found among Them, and the rest of their wants was supplied by the produce of the yarn, which they carded and spun in their own houses, and carried to market either under their arras, or more frequently on packhorses, a small train taking their way weekly down the valley, or over the mountains, to the most commodious town."—A Description of the Scenery of the Lake* in the North of England, 3rd edit. pp. 50 to 53 and 63 to 65.

of modern Europe, is so peculiarly circumstanced, that scarcely anything, except insecurity of .property or a tyrannical government, could materially impair the prosperity of the industrious classes. I might, with Sismondi, insist more strongly on the case of ancient Italy, (especially Latium, that Campagna which then swarmed with inhabitants in the very regions which under a contrary regime have become uninhabitable from malaria. But I prefer taking the evidence of the same writer on things known to him by personal observation.

"It is especially Switzerland," says M. de Sismondi, "which should be traversed and studied to judge of the happiness of peasant proprietors. It is from Switzerland we learn that agriculture practised by the very persons who enjoy its fruits, suffices to procure great comfort for a very numerous population; a great independence of character, arising from independence of position; a great commerce of consumption, the result of the easy circumstances of all the inhabitants, even in a country whose climate is rude, whose soil is but moderately fertile, and where late frosts and inconstancy of seasons often blight the hopes of the cultivator. It is impossible to see without admiration those timber houses of the poorest peasant, so vast, so well closed in, so covered with carvings. In the interior, spacious corridors separate the different chambers of the numerous family; each chamber has but one bed, which is abundantly furnished with curtains, bedclothes, and the whitest linen; carefully kept furniture surrounds it; the wardrobes are filled with linen; the dairy is vast, well aired, and of exquisite cleanness; under the same roof is a great provision of corn, salt meat, cheese and wood; in the cow-houses are the finest and most carefully tended cattle in Europe; the garden is planted with flowers, both men and women are cleanly and warmly clad, the women preserve with pride their ancient costume; all carry in their faces the' impress of health and strength. Let other nations boast of their opulence

Switzerland may always point with pride to her peasants."*

The same eminent writer thus expresses his opinions on peasant proprietorship in general.

"Wherever we find peasant proprietors, we also find the comfort, security, confidence in the future, and independence, which assure at once happiness and virtue. The peasant who with his children does all the work of his little inheritance, who pays no rent to any one above him, nor wages to any one below, who regulates his production by his consumption, who eats his own corn, drinks his own wine, is clothed in his own hemp and wool, cares little for the prices of the market; for he has little to sell and little to buy, and is never ruined by revulsions of trade. Instead of fearing for the future, he sees it in the colours of hope; for he employs every moment not required by the labours of the year, on something profitable to his children and to future generations. A few minutes' work suffices him to plant the seed which in a hundred years will be a large tree, to dig the channel which will conduct to him a spring of fresh water, to improve by cares often repeated, but stolen from odd times, all the species of animals andvegetableswhich surround him. His little patrimony is a true savings bank, always ready to receive all his little gains and utilize all his moments of leisure. The ever-acting power of nature returns them a hundred-fold. The peasant has a lively sense of the happiness attached to the condition of a proprietor. Accordingly he is always eager to buy land at any price. He pays more for it than its value, more perhaps than it will bring him in; but is he not right in estimating highly the advantage of having always an advantageous investment for his labour, without underbidding in the wagesmarket—of being always able to find bread, without the necessity of buying it at a scarcity price?

"The peasant proprietor is of all

cultivators the one who gets most from

the soil, for he is the one who thinks

* Studitt in Political Economy. Essay III.

most of the future, and who has been most instructed by experience. He is also the one who employs the human powers to most advantage, because dividing his occupations among all the members of his family, he reserves some for every day of the year, so that nobody is ever out of work. Of all cultivators he is the happiest, and at the same time the land nowhere occupies, and feeds amply without becoming exhausted, so many inhabitants as where they are proprietors. Finally, of all cultivators the peasant proprietor is the one who gives most encouragement to commerce and manufactures, because he is the richest."*

This picture of unwearied assiduity, and what may be called affectionate interest in the land, is borne out in regard to the more intelligent Cantons of Switzerland by English observers. "In walking anywhere in the neighbourhood of Zurich," says Mr. Inglis, "in looking to the right or to the left, one is struck with the extraordinary industry of the inhabitants; and if we learn that a proprietor here has a return of ten per cent, we are inclined to say, 'ho deserves it.' 1 speak at present of country labour, though I

* And in another work {New Principles of Political Economy, book iii. cbap. 3) he says, ""When we traverse nearly the whole of Switzerland, and several provinces of France, Italy, and Germany, we need never ask, in looking at any piece of land, if it belongs to a peasant proprietor or to a farmer. The intelligent care, the enjoyments provided for the labourer, the adornment which the country has received from his hands, are clear indications of the former. It is true an oppressive government may destroy the comfort and brutify the intelligence which should be the result of property; taxation may abstract the best produce of the fields, the insolence of government officers may disturb the security of the peasant, the impossibility of obtaining justice against a powerful neighbour may sow discouragement in his mind, and in the fine country which has been given back to the administration of the King of Sardinia, the propria tor, equally with the day-labourer, wears tlv. livery of indigence." He was here speaking of Savoy, where the peasants were generally proprietors, and, according to authentic accounts, extremely miserable. But, as M. de Sismondi continues, "it is in vain to observe only one of the rules of political economy; it cannot by itself suffice to produce good; but at least it diminishes evil."

believe that in every kind of trade also, the people of Zurich are remarkable for their assiduity; but in the industry they show in the cultivation of their land I may safely say they are unrivalled. When I used to open my casement between four and five in the morning to look out upon the lake and the distant Alps, I saw the labourer in the fields; and when I returned from an evening walk, long after sunset, as late, perhaps, as halfpast eight, there was the labourer, mowing his grass, or tying up his vines. ... It is impossible to look at a field, a garden, a hedging, scarcely even a tree, a flower, or a vegetable, without perceiving proofs of the extreme care and industry that are bestowed upon the cultivation of the soil. If, for example, a path leads through or by the side of a field of grain, the corn is not, as in England, permitted to hang over the path, exposed to be pulled or trodden down by every passerby; it is everywhere bounded by a fence, stakes are placed at intervals of about a yard, and, about two or three feet from the ground, boughs of trees are passed longitudinally along. If you look into a field towards evening, where there are large beds of cauliflower or cabbage, you will find that every single plant has been watered. In the gardens, which around Zurich are extremely large, the most punctilious care is evinced in every production that grows. The vegetables are planted with seemingly mathematical accuracy; not a single weed is to be seen, not a single stone. Plants are not earthed up as with us, but are planted in a small hollow, into each of which a little manure is put, and each plant is watered daily. Where seeds are sown, the earth directly above is broken into the finest powder; every shrub, every flower is tied to a stake, and where there is wall-fruit, a trellice is erected against the wall, to which the boughs are fastened, and there is not a single thing that has not its appropriate resting place."*

* Switzerland, the South of France, and the Tyreneei in 1330, By H. D.Inglis. Vol. i. ch. 2,

Of one of the remote valleys of the High Alps the same writer thus expresses himself:*—

"In the whole of the Engadine the land belongs to the peasantry, who, like the inhabitants of every other place where this state of things exist, vary greatly in the extent of their possessions. . . . Generally speaking, an Engadine peasant lives entirely upon the produce of his land, with the exception of the few articles of foreign growth required in his family, such as coffee, sugar, and wine. Elax is grown, prepared, spun, and woven, without ever leaving his house. He has also bis own wool, which is converted into a blue coat without passing through the bands of either the dyer or the tailor. The country is incapable of greater cultivation than it has received. All has been done for it that industry and an extreme love of gain can devise. There is not a foot of waste land in the Engadine, the lowest part of which is not much lower than the top of Snowdon. Wherever grass will grow, there it is; wherever a rock will bear a blade, verdure is seen upon it; wherever an ear of rye will ripen, there it is to be found. Barley and oats have also their appropriate spots; and wherever it is possible to ripen a little patch of wheat, the cultivation of it is attempted. In no country in Europe will be found so few poor as in the Engadine. In the village of Suss, which contains about six hundred inhabitants, there is not a single individual who has not wherewithal to live comfortably, not a single individual who is indebted to others for one morsel that he eats."

Notwithstanding the general prosperity of the Swiss peasantry, this total absence of pauperism, and (it may almost be said) of poverty, cannot be predicated of the whole country; the largest and richest canton, that of Berne, being an example of the con' trary; for although, in the parts of it which are occupied by peasant proprietors, their industry is as remarkable and their ease and comfort as conspicuous as elsewhere, the canton ii • Ibid. cb. 8 and 10.

burthened with a numerous pauper population, through the operation of the worst regulated system of poor-law administration in Europe, except that of England before the new Poor Law.* Nor is Switzerland in some other respects a favourable example of all that peasant properties might effect. There exists a series of statistical accounts of the Swiss cantons, drawn up mostly with great care and intelligence, containing detailed information, of tolerably recent date, respecting the condition of the land and of the people. From these, the subdivision appears to be often so minute, that it can hardly be supposed not to be excessive: and the indebtedness of the proprietors in the flourishing canton of Zurich "borders," as the writer expresses it, "on the incredible;" so that "only the intensest industry, frugality, temperance, and complete freedom of commerce enable them to stand their ground.''^ Yet the general conclusion deducible from these books is that since the beginning of the century, and concurrently with the subdivision of many great estates whieh belonged to nobles or to the cantonal governments, there has been a striking and rapid improvement in almost every department of agriculture, as well as in the houses, the habits, and the food of the people. The writer of the account of Thurgau goes so far as to say, that since the

* There have been considerable changes in the Poor Law administration and legislation of the Canton of Berne since the sentence in the text was written. But I am not sufficiently acquainted with the nature ando peration of these changes, to speak more particularly of them here.

t Historical, Geographical, and Statistical Picture of Switzerland. Fart I. Canton of Zurich. By Gerold Meyer Von Knonau, 1834, pp. 80-1. There are villages in Zurich, he adds, in which there is not a single property unmortgaged. It does not, however, follow that each individual proprietor is deeply involved because the aggregate mass of incumbrances is large. In the Canton of Schaffhausen, for instance, it is stated that the landed properties are almost all mortgaged, but rarely for more than one-half their registered value (Part XII. Canton of Schaffhauten, by Edward Im-Thurn, 1840, p. 52), and the mortgages are often for the improvement and enlargement of the estate. (Part XVII. Canton of Thurgau, by J, A. Pupikofer, 1837, p. 208.)

subdivision of the feudal estates into peasant properties, it is not uncommon for a third or a fourth part of an estate to produce as much grain, and support as many head of cattle, as the whole estate did before.*

§ 3. One of the countries in which peasant proprietors are of oldest date, and most numerous in proportion to the population, is Norway. Of the social and economical condition of that country an interesting account has been given by Mr. Laing. His testimony in favour of small landed properties both there and elsewhere, is given with great decision. I shall quote a few passages.

"Ifsmall proprietors are not good farmers, it is not from the same cause here which we are told makes them so in Scotland—indolence and want of exertion. The extent to which irrigation is carried on in these glens and valleysshows a spirit of exertion and cooperation" (I request particular attention to this point), "to which the latter can show nothing similar. Hay being the principal winter support of live stock, and both it and corn, as well as' potatoes, liable, from the shallow soil and powerful reflection of sunshine from the rocks, to be burnt and withered up, the greatest exertions are made to bring water from the head of each glen, along such a level as will give the command of it to each farmer at the head of his fields. This is done by leading it in wooden troughs (the half of a tree roughly scooped) from the highest perennial stream among the hills, through woods, across ravines, along the rocky, often perpendicular, sides of the glens, and from this main trough giving a lateral one to each farmer in passing the head of his farm. He distributes this supply by moveable troughs among his fields ; and at this season waters each rig successively with scoops like those used by bleachers in watering cloth, laying his trough between every two rigs. One would not believe, without seeing it, how very large an extent of land is traversed expeditiously by these artificial * Thurgau, p. 72.

showers. The extent of the main troughs is very great. In one glen I walked ten miles, and found it troughed on both sides: on one, the chain is continued down the main valley for forty miles.* Those may be bad farmers who do such things; but they are not indolent, nor 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."f

On the effects of peasant proprietorship on the Continent generally, the same writer expresses himself as folIows.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. Braining, manuring, economical arrangement, cleaning the land, regular

* Reichensperjrer (The Zand Question) quoted by Mr. Kay (Social Condition and Education of the People in England and Europe,) observes, "that 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 wbich 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 nowbeing 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.

t Laing, Journal of a Residence in Kortcav. .pp. 36, 37."'

X Ifotet of a Traveller, pp. 299 et seqq.

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, flolstein, in short, on the whole line of the arable land of equal quality on 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 climate, 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, theowner'sowntirae and labour may. He is working for

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