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is aiways considerable, gives them a very good profit. Suppose the whole extent of the land to be six acres, which is not an uncommon occupation, and which one man can manage;" then (after describing the cultivation), "if a man with his wife and three young children are considered as equal to three and a half grown up men, the family will require thirty-nine bushels of grain, forty-nine bushels of potatoes, a fat hog, and the butter and milk of one cow: an acre and a half of land will produce the grain and potatoes, and allow some corn to finish the fattening of the hog, which has the extra buttermilk: another acre in clover, carrots, and potatoes, together with the stubble turnips, will more than feed the cow; consequently two and a half acres of land is sufficient to feed this family, and the produce of the other three and a half may be sold to pay the rent or the interest of purchase-money, wear and tear of implements, extra manure, and clothes for the family. But these acres are the most profitable on the farm, for the hemp, flax, and colza are included; and by having another acre in clover and roots, a second cow can be kept, and its produce sold. We have, therefore, a solution of the problem, how a family can live and thrive on six acres of moderate land." After showing by calculation that this extent of land can be cultivated in the most perfect manner by the family without any aid from hired labour, the writer continues, "In a farm of ten acres entirely cultivated by the spade, the addition of a man and a woman to the members of the family will render all the operations more easy; and with a horse and cart to carry out the manure, and bring home the produce, and occasionally draw the harrows, fifteen acres may be very well cultivated. . . . Thus it will be seen," (this is the result of some pagesof details and calculations,*) "that by spade husbandry, an industrious man with a small capital, occupying only fifteen acres of good light land, may not only live and bring up a family, paying a good rent, but may accumulate a considerable sum in the course • Flemith Musbaniry, p. 81.
of his life." But the indefatigable industry by which he accomplishes this, and of which so large a portion is expended not in the mere cultivation, but in the improvement, for a distant return, of the soil itself—has that industry no connexion with not paying rent? Could it exist, without presupposing, at least, a virtually permanent tenure?
As to their mode of living, "the Flemish farmers and labourers live much more ecoriomically than the same class in England: they seldom eat meat, except on Sundays and in harvest: buttermilk and potatoes with brown bread is their daily food." It is on this kind of evidence that English travellers, as they hurry through Europe, pronounce the peasantry of every Continental country poor and miserable, its agricultural and social system a failure, and the English the only regime under which labourers are well oil'. It is, truly enough, the only regime under which labourers, whether well off or not, never attempt to be better. So little are English labourers accustomed to consider it possible that a labourer should not spend all he earns, that they habitually mistake the signs of economy for those of poverty. Observe the true interpretation of the phenomena.
"Accordingly they are gradually acquiring capital, and their great ambition is to have land of their own. They eagerly seize every opportunity of purchasing a small farm, and the price is so raised by competition, that land pays little more than two per cent interest for the purchase money. Large properties gradually disappear, and are divided into small portions, which sell at a high rate. But the wealth and industry of the population is continually increasing, being rather diffused through the masses than accumulated in individuals."
With facts like these, known and accessible, it is not a little surprising to find the case of Flanders referred to not in recommendation of peasant properties, but as a warning against them; on no better ground than a presumptive excess of population, inferred from the distress which existed among the peasantry of Brabant and East Flanders in the disastrous year 1846-47. The evidence which I have cited from a writer conversant with the subject, and having no economical theory to support, shows that the distress, whatever may have been its severity, arose from no insufficiency in these little properties to supply abundantly, in any ordinary circumstances, the wants of all whom they have to maintain. It arose from the essential condition to which those are subject who employ land of their own in growing their own food, namely, that the vicissitudes of the seasons must be borne by themselves, and cannot, as in the case of large farmers, be shifted from them to the consumer. When we remember the season of 1846, a partial failure of all kinds of grain, and an almost total one of the potato, it is no wonder that in so unusual a calamity the produce of six acres, half of them sown with flax, hemp, or oil seeds, should fall short of a year's provision for a family. But we are not to contrast the distressed Flemish peasant with an English capitalist who farms several hundred acres of land. If the peasant were an Englishman, he would not be that capitalist, but a day-labourer under a capitalist. And is there no distress, in times of dearth, among day-labourers? Was there none, that year, in countries where small proprietors and small farmers are unknown? I am aware of no reason for believing that the distress was greater in Belgium, than corresponds to the proportional extent of the failure of crops compared with other countries.*
§ 6. The evidence of the beneficial operation of peasant properties in the Channel Islands is of so decisive a character, that I cannot help adding to the numerous citations already made,
* As much of the distress latelycomplained of in Belgium, as partakes in any degree of a permanent character, appears to be almost confined to the portion of the population who carry on manufacturing labour, either by itself or in conjunction with agricultural; mnd to be occasioned by a diminished demand for Belgic manufactures.
To the preceding testimonies respecting Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium, may
part of a description of the economical condition of those islands, by a writer who combines personal observation with an attentive study of the information afforded by others. Mr. William Thornton, in his "Plea for Peasant Proprietors," a book which by the excellence both of its materials and of its execution, deserves to be regarded as the standard work on that side of the question, speaks of the island of Guernsey in the following terms: "Not even in England is nearly so large a quantity of produce sent to market from a tract of such limited extent. This of itself might prove that the cultivators must be far removed above poverty, for being absolute owners of all the produce raised by them, they of course sell only what they do not themselves require. But the satisfactoriness of their condition is apparent to every observer. 'The happiest community,' says Mr. Hill, 'which it has ever been my lot to fall in with, is to be found in this little island of Guernsey.' 'No matter,' says Sir George Head, 'to what point the traveller may choose to bend his way, comfort everywhere prevails.' What most surprises the English visitor in his first walk or drive beyond the bounds of St. Peter's Port, is the appearance of the habitations with which the landscape is thiokly studded. Many of them are such as in his own country would belong to persons of middle rank; but he is puzzled to guess what sort of people live in the others, which, though in general not large enough for farmers, are almost invariably much too good in every respect for
day labourers Literally, in the
whole island, with the exception of a few fishermen's huts, there is not one so mean as to be likened to the ordinary habitation of an English farm labourer. 'Look,' says a late Bailiff of
be added the following from Niebuhr, re specting the Roman Campagna. In a letter from Tivoli, he says, "Wherever you find hereditary farmers, or small proprietors, there you also find industry and honesty. 1 believe that a man who would employ a large fortune in establishing small freeholds might put an end to robbery in the mountain districts."—Itfe and Letter! of Niebuhr, »ol. U. p. 149.
Guernsey, Mr. De L'Isle Brock, 'at the hovels of the English, and compare them with the cottages of our peasantry.' .... Beggars are utterly unknown Pauperism, able-bodied
pauperism at least, is nearly as rare as mendicancy. The Savings Banks accounts also bear witness to the general abundance enjoyed by the labouring classes of Guernsey. In the year 1841, there were in England, out of a population of nearly fifteen millions, less than 700,000 depositors, or one in every twenty persons, and the average amount of the deposits was 301. In Guernsey, in the same year, out of a population of 26,000 the number of depositors was 1920, and the average amount of the deposits 401."* The evidence as to Jersey and Alderney is of a similar character.
Of the efficiency and productiveness of agriculture on the small properties of the Channel Islands, Mr. Thornton produces ample evidence, the result of which he sums up as follows: "Thus it appears that in the two principal Channel Islands, the agricultural population is, in the one twice, and in the other, three times, as dense as in Britain, there being in the latter country only one cultivator to twenty-two acres of cultivated land, while in Jersey there is one to eleven, and in Guernsey one to seven acres. Yet the agriculture of these islands maintains, besides cultivators, non-agricultural populations, respectively four and five times as dense as that of Britain. This difference does not arise from any superiority of soil or climate possessed by the Channel Islands, for the former is naturally rather poor, and the latter is not better than in the southern counties of England. It is owing entirely to the assiduous care of the farmers, and to the abundant use of manure."T "In the year 1837," he says in another placed " the average yield of wheat in the large farms of England was only twenty-one bushels, and the highest average for any one county was no more than twenty-six bushels. The
* A Plea for Peasant Proprietors. By lyilliam Thomas Thornton, pp. 99—101.
t Ibid. p. 33.
j Ibid. j. 'J.
highest average since claimed for the whole of England, is thirty bushels. In Jersey, where the average size of farms is only sixteen acres, the average produce of wheat per acre was stated by Inglis in 1834 to be thirty-six bushels; but it is proved by official tables to have been forty bushels in the five years ending with 1833. In Guernsey, where farms are still smaller, four quarters per acre, according to Inglis, is considered a good, but stiTl a very common crop." "Thirty shillings* an acre would be thought in England a very fair rent for middling land; but in the Channel Islands, it is only very inferior land that would not let for at least H."
§ 7. It is from France, that impressions unfavourable to peasant properties are generally drawn; it is in France that the system is so often asserted to have brought forth its fruit in the most wretched possible agriculture, and to be rapidly reducing, if not to have already reduced, the peasantry, by subdivision of land, to the verge of starvation. It is difficult to account for the general prevalence of impressions so much the reverse of truth. The agriculture of France was wretched, and the peasantry in great indigence, before the Devolution. At that time they were not, so universally as at present, landed proprietors. There were, however, considerable districts of France where the land, even then, was to a great extent the property of the peasantry, and among these wore many of the most conspicuous exceptions to the general bad agriculture and to the general poverty. An authority, on this point, not to be disputed, is Arthur Young, the inveterate enemy of small farms, the coryphceus of the modern English school of agriculturists; who yet, travelling over nearly the whole of France in 1787, 1788, and 1789, when he finds remarkable excellence of cultivation, never hesitates to ascribe it to peasant property. "Leaving Sauve,' says he,t
• A Plea for Peasant Proprietors, p. 32. t Arthur young's Travels in Prance, vol. i. p. 50.
'I was much struck with a large .tract of land, seemingly nothing hut huge rocks; yet most of it enclosed and planted with the most industrious attention. Every nan has an olive, a mulberry, an almond, or a peach tree, and vines scattered among them; so that the whole ground is covered with the oddest mixture of these plants and bulging rocks, that can be conceived. The inhabitants of this village deserve encouragement for their industry; and if I were a French minister they should have it. They would soon turn all the .deserts around them into gardens. Such a knot of active husbandmen, who turn their rocks into scenes of fertility, because I suppose their own, would do the same by the wastes, if animated by the same omnipotent principle." Again :* "Walk to Rossendal," (near Dunkirk) "where M. lc Brun has an improvement on the Dunes, which he very obligingly showed me. Between the town and that place is a great number of neat little houses, built each with its garden, and one or two fields enclosed, of most wretched blowing dune sand, naturally as white as enow, but improved by industry. The magic of property turns sand to gold." And again :f "Going out of (jange, I was surprised to find by far the greatest exertion in irrigation which I had yet seen in France; and then passed by some steep mountains, highly cultivated in terraces. Much watering at St. Lawrence. The scenery very interesting to a farmer. From Gange, to the mountain of rough ground which I crossed, the ride has been the most interesting which I have taken in France; the efforts of industry the most vigorous; the animation the most lively. An activity has been here, that has swept away all difficulties before it, and has clothed the very rocks with verdure. It would be a disgrace to common sense to ask the cause; the enjoyment of property must have done it. Give a man the secure possession of a bleak rock, and he wiU turn it into a garden; give him
• Arthur Young's Travelt in France, vol. I. p. 88. t Ibid. p. 61.
a nine years lease of a garden, and he will convert it into a desert.''
In his description of the country at the foot of the Western Pyrenees, he speaks no longer from surmise, but from knowledge. "Take* the road to Moneng, and come presently to a scene which was so new to me in France, that I could hardly believe my own eyes. A succession of many wellbuilt, tight, and comfortable farming cottages built of stone and covered with tiles; each having its little garden, enclosed by dipt thorn-hedges, with plenty of peach and other fruits trees, some fine oaks scattered in the hedges, and young trees nursed up with so much care, that nothing but the fostering attention of the owner could effect anything like it. To every house belongs a farm, perfectly well enclosed, with grass borders mown and neatly kept around the corn-fields, with gates to pass from one enclosure to another. There are some parts of England (where small yeomen still remain) that resemble this country of Bearn; but we have very little that is equal to what I have seen in this ride of twelve miles from Pau to Moneng. It is all in the hands of little proprietors, without the farms being so small as to occasion a vicious and miserable population. An air of neatness, warmth, and comfort breathes over the whole. It is visible in their new-built houses and stables; in their little gardens; in their hedges; in the courts before their doors; even in the coops for their poultry, and the sties for their hogs. A peasant does not think of rendering his pig comfortable, if his own happiness hang by the thread of a nine years' lease. We are now in Bearn, within a few miles of the cradle of Henry IV. Do they inherit these blessings from that good prince? The benignant genius of that good monarch seems to reign still over the country; each peasant has the fowl in the pot." He frequently notices the excellence of the agriculture of French Flanders, where the farms "are all small, and
* Arthur Young's Travels in France, vol. i.
much in the hands of little proprietors."* In the Pays de Caux, also a country of small properties, the agriculture was miserable; of which his explanation was, that it "is a manufacturing country, and farming is but a secondary pursuit to the cotton fabric, which spreads over the whole of it."f The same district is still a seat of manufactures, and a country of small proprietors, and is now, whether we judge trom the appearance of the crops or from the official returns, one of the best cultivated in France. In "Flanders, Alsace, and part of Artois, as well as on the banks of the Garonne, France possesses a husbandry equal to our own.":): Those countries, and a considerable part of Quercy, "are cultivated more like gardens than farms. Perhaps they are too much like gardens, from the smallness of properties."§ In those districts the admirable rotation of crops, so long practised in Italy, but at that time generally neglected in France, was already universal. "The rapid succession of crops, the harvest of one being but the signal of sowing immediately for a second," (the same fact which strikes all observers in the valley of the Rhine,) "can scarcely be carried to greater perfection: and this is a point, perhaps, of all others the most essential to good husbandry, when such crops are so justly distributed as we generally find them in these provinces; cleaning and ameliorating ones being made the preparation for such as foul and exhaust."
It must not, however, be supposed that Arthur Sfoung's testimony on the subject of peasant properties is uniformly favourable. In Lorraine, Champagne, and elsewhere, he finds the agriculture bad, and the small proprietors very miserable, in consequence, as he says, of the extreme subdivision of the land. His opinion is thus summed up :||—" Before 1 travelled, I conceived that small farms, in property, were very susceptible of good cultivation; and that the occupier of such, having
• Young, pp. 322—4.
t Ibid. p. 325. t IbW. vol. i. p. 357.
3 Ibid. p. 361. II Ibid. p. 412.
no rent to pay, might be sufficiently at his ease to work improvements, and carry on a vigorous Husbandry; but what I have seen in France, has greatly lessened my good opinion of them. In Flanders, I saw excellent husbandry on properties of 30 to 100 acres; but we seldom find here such small patches of property as are common in other provinces. In Alsace, and on the Garonne, that is, on soils of such exuberant fertility as to demand no exertions, some small properties also are well cultivated. In Bearn, I passed through aregionof little farmers, whose appearance, neatness, ease, and happiness charmed me; it was what property alone could, on a small scale, effect; but these were by no means contemptibly small; they are, as I judged by the distance from house to house, from 40 to 80 acres. Except these, and a very few other instances, I saw nothing respectable on small properties, except a most unremitting industry. Indeed, it is necessary to impress on the reader's mind, that though the husbandry I met with, in a great variety of instances on little properties, was as bad as can be well conceived, yet the industry of the possessors was so conspicuous, and so meritorious, that no commendations would be too great for it. It was sufficient to prove that property in land is, of all others, the most active instigator to severe and incessant labour. And this truth is of such force and extent, that I know no way so sure of carrying tillage to a mountain top, as by permitting the adjoining villagers to acquire it in property; in fact, we see that in the mountains of Languedoc, &c., they have conveyed earth in baskets, on their backs, to form a soil where nature had denied it."
The experience, therefore, of this celebrated agriculturist, and apostle of the grande culture, may be said to be, that the effect of small properties, cultivated by peasant proprietors, is admirable when they are not too small: so small, namely, as not fully to occupy the time and attention of the family; for he often complains, with great