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that in the Swiss Cantons, the patrimonies of the peasants are ever so divided as to reduce them below an honourable competence; though the habit of foreign service, by opening to the children a career indefinite and uncalculable, sometimes calls forth a superabundant population." *
There is similar testimony respect 'ng Norway. Though there is no law or custom of primogeniture, and no manufactures to take off a surplus population, the subdivision of property is not carried to an injurious extent. "The division of the land among children," says Mr. Laing.f "appears not, during the thousand years it has been in operation, to have had the effect of reducing the landed properties to the minimum size that will barely support human existence. I have counted from five-and-twenty to forty cows upon farms, and that in a country in which the farmer must, for at least seven months in the year, have winter provender and houses provided for all the cattle. It is evident that some cause or other, operating on aggregation of landed property, counteracts the dividing effects of partition among children. That cause can be no other than what I have long conjectured would be effective in such a social arrangement; viz. that in a country where land is held, not in tenancy merely, as in Ireland, but in full ownership, its aggregation by the deaths of co-heirs, and by the marriages of the female heirs among the body of landholders, will balance its subdivision by the equal succession of children. The whole mass of property will, I conceive, be found in such a state of society to consist of as many estates of the class of 10002., as many of 10(M., as many of 101., a year, at one period w at another." That this should happen, supposes diffused through society a very efficacious prudential check to population: and it is reasonable to give part of the credit of this prudential restraint to the peculiar adaptation of the peasant-proprietary system for fostering it.
* Kouveaux Principei, Rook iii. ch. 3.
"In some parts of Switzerland," says Mr. Kay,* "as in the canton of Argovie for instance, a peasant never marries before he attains the age of twenty-five years, and generally much later in life; and in that canton the women very seldom marry before they have attained the age of thirty. . . . Nor do the division of land and the cheapness of the mode of conveying it from one man to another, encourage the providence of the labourers of the rural districts only. They act in the same manner, though perhaps in a less degree, upon the labourers of the smaller towns. In the smaller provincial towns it is customary for a labourer to own a small plot of ground outside the town. This plot he cultivates in the evening as his kitchen garden. He raises in it vegetables and fruits for the use of his family during the winter. After his day's work is over, he and his family repair to the garden for a short time, which they spend in planting, sowing, weeding, or preparing for sowing, a harvest, according to the season. The desire to become possessed of one of these gardens operates very strongly in strengthening prudential habits and in restraining improvident marriages. Some of the manufacturers in the canton of Argovie told me that a townsman was seldom contented until he had bought a garden, or a garden and house, and that the town labourers generally deferred their marriages for some years, in order to save enough to purchase either one or both of these luxuries."
The same writer shows by statistical evidence f that in Prussia the average age of marriage is not only much later than in England, but "is gradually becoming later than it was formerly,-' while at the same time "fewer illegitimate children are born in Prussia than in any other of the European countries." "Wherever I travelled," says Mr. Kay4 "in North Germany and Switzerland, I was assured by all that the desire to obtain land, which was felt by all the peasants, was acting as
* Vol. i. pp. 67-9.
*he strongest possible cheek undue increase of population."*
In Flanders, according to Mr. Fauche, the British Consul at Ostend,f "farmer's 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,* "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 number of persons of a family (and for France
• The Prussian minister of statistics, in a work [Condition of the People in Prussia) which I am obliged to quote at second 'band from Mr. Kay, after proving by figures the great and progressive increase of the consumption of food and clothing per head of the population, from which he justly infers a corresponding increase of the productiveness of agriculture, continues : " The division of estates has, since 1831, proceeded more and more throughout the 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, 1. 262-6.
* '2 a eooHranication to the Commissionera of Poor Law Enquiry, p. 610 of their i'oreigu Communications, Appendix P to )teir first Report.
J Ibid. 268.
upon | 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 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 nothinoagainst the tendencies of the same° system of agricultural economy in other circumstances. But what is the tact? That the rate of increase of the Jbrench population is the slowest in Jiurope. During the generation winch 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 m 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
* Journal des Economistes for March and May 1847.
t 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. In the Journal for January 1865, M. Legoyt gives some of the numbers slightly altered, and, I presume, corrected. The series of percentages is 1"28, 031, 0'69, 060, 0-41, 0'63, 0"22, and 0-20. The last census, that of 1861, shows a slight reaction, the percentage, independently of the newly acquired departments, being 032.
§ The following are the numbers given by M. Legoyt:
In the last two years the births, according to M. Legoyt, were swelled by the effects of aconsiderable immigration. "This diminution of births," he observes, " while there is a constant, though notarapid increase both of population and of marriages, can only be attributed to the progress of prudence and forethought in families. It was a foreseen consequence of our civil and social institutions, which, producing a daily increasing subdivision of fortunes.
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
both landed and moveable, call forth in our people the instincts of conservation and of comfort.'*
In four departments, among which are two of the most thriving in Normandy, the deaths even then exceeded the births. The census 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.
* "The classes of our population which have only wages, and are therefore the most exposed to indigence, are now (1646) much better provided with the necessaries of food, lodging, and clothing, than they were at the beginning of the century. This may be proved by the testimony of all persons who can remember the earlier of the two periods compared. Were there any doubts on the subject, they might easily be dissipated by consulting old cultivators and workmen, as I have myself done in various localities, without meeting with a single contrary testimony; we may also appeal to the facts collected by an accurate observer, M. Villerme, in his Picture of the Moral and Physical Condition of the Working Classes, book ii. ch. 1." (Researches on the Causes of Indigence, by A. Clement, pp. 84-5.) The same writer speaks (p. 118) of "' the considerable rise which has taken place since 1789 in the wages of agricultural day-labourers j" and adds the following evidence of a higher standard of habitual requirements, even in that portion of the town population, the state of which is usually represented as most deplorable. *" In the last fifteen or twenty years a considerable change has taken place in the habits of the operatives in our manufacturing towns: they now expend.much more than formerly on clothing and ornament. .,. Certain classes of workpeople, such as the canuts of Lyons," (according to all representations, like their counterpart, our handloom weavers, the very worst paid class of artizans,) " no longer show themselves, as they did formerly, covered with filthy rags." (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 nrecise character, will now be
to a similar fact in 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 multiptication is promoted by peasant properties. Instances may undoubtedly be cited of its not being prevented by them, and one of the principal of these is Belgium; the
Erospects of which, in respect to'popuition, are at present a matter of confound in the important work of M. Leonee de Lavergne, Rural Economy of France vince 1789. According to that painstaking, wellinformed, 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 statements of M. de Lavergne (2nd ed. p. 67):
"Arthur Young estimates at l&sous [9\d. \ the average of a day's wages, which must now be about 1 franc 50 centimes [1#. ''id.'], and this increase only represents a part of the improvement. Though the rural population has remained about the same in numbers, the addition made to the population since 1789 having centred in the towns, the number of actual working dayshas increased, first because, the duration of life having augmented, the number of able-bodied men is greater, and next, because labour is better organized, partly through the suppression of several festival-holidays, partly by the mere effect of a more active demand. When we take into account the increased number of his working days, the annual receipts of the rural workman must have doubled. This augmentation of wages answers to at least an equal augmentation of comforts, since the prices of the chief necessaries of life have changed but little, and those of manufactured, for example of woven, articles, have materially diminished. The lodging of the labourers has also improved, if not in all, at least in most of our 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 money-rate, 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 ft %
siderable uncertainty. Belgium has the most rapidly increasing population on the Continent; and when the circumstances of the country require, as they must soon do, that this rapidity should be checked, there will be a considerable strength of existing habit to be broken through. One of the unfavourable circumstances is the great power possessed over the minds of the people by the Catholic priesthood, "whose influence is everywhere strongly exerted against restraining population. As yet, however, it must be remembered that the indefatigable industry and great agricultural skill of the people have rendered the existing rapidity of increase practically innocuous; the great number of large estates still undivided affording by their gradual dismemberment, a resource for the necessary augmentation of the gross produce; and there are, besides, many large manufacturing towns, and mining and coal districts, which attract and employ a considerable portion of the annual increase of population.
§ 5. But even where peasant properties are accompanied by an excess of numbers, this evil is not necessarily attended with the additional economical disadvantage of too great a subdivision of the land. It does not follow because landed property is minutely divided, that farms will be so. As large properties are perfectly compatible with small farms, so are small properties with farms of an adequate size ; and a subdivision of occupancy is not an inevitable consequence of even undue multiplication among peasant
quality. "It is now considerably better than about forty years ago, when the poorer class obtained less flesh-meat and puddings, and no cheese, butter, and the like/' (p. 20.) "Such an increase of wages" (adds the Professor) "which must be estimated not in money, but in the quantity of necessaries and conveniences which the labourer is enabled to procure, is, by universal admission, a proof that the mass of capital must have increased." It proves not only this, but also that the labouring population has not increased in an equal degree; and that, in this instance as well as in France, the division of the land, even when excessive, has been compatible with a strengthening of the prudential checks to population.
proprietors. As might be expected from their admirable intelligence in things relating to their occupation, the Flemish peasantry have long learnt this lesson. "The habit of not dividing properties," says Dr. Kan,* "and the opinion that this is advantageous, have been so completely preserved in Flanders, that even now, when a peasant dies leaving several children, they do not think of dividing his patrimony, though it be neither entailed nor settled in trust; they prefer selling it entire, and sharing the proceeds, considering it as a jewel which loses its value when it is divided." That the same feeling must prevail widely even in France, is shown by the great frequency of sales of land, amounting in ten years to a fourth port of the whole soil of the country; and M. Passy, in his tract "On the Changes in the Agricultural Condition of the Department of the Eure since the year 1800,"f states other facts tending to the same conclusion. "The example," says he," of this department attests that there does not exist, as some writers have imagined, between the distribution of property and that of cultivation, a connexion which tends invincibly to assimilate them. In no portion of it have changes of ownership had a perceptible influence on the size of holdings. While, in districts of small farming, lands belonging to the same owner are ordinarily distributed among many tenants, so neither is it uncommon, in places where the grande culture prevails, for the same farmer to rent the lands of several proprietors. In the plains of Vexin, in particular, many active and rich cultivators do not content themselves with a single farm; others add to the lands of their principal holding, all those in the neighbourhood which
• Page 331 of the Brussels translation. He cites as an authority, Schwerz, JPapert on Agriculture, i. 185.
t One of the many important papers which have appeared in the Journal des JEconomistee, the organ of the principal political economists of Frances, and doing great and increasing honour to their knowledge and ability. M. Passy's essay has been reprinted separately as a pamphlet.