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amount of capital which is possessed by the large farmers to be disseminated among the small ones. When this condition, or even any approach to it, exists, and when stall feeding is practised (and stall feeding now begins to be considered good economy even on large farms), experience, far from bearing ont the assertion that small farming is unfavourable to the multiplication of cattle, conclusively establishes the very reverse. The abundance of cattle, and copious use of manure, on the small farms of Flanders, are the most striking features in that Flemish agriculture which is the admiration of all competent judges, whether in England or on the Continent.*
* "The number of beasts fed on a farm of which the whole is arable land," (says the elaborate and intelligent treatise on Flemish Husbandry, from personal observation and the best sources, published in the Library of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,) "is surprising to those who are not acquainted with the mode in which the food is prepared for the cattle. A beast for every three acres of land is a common proportion, and in very small occupations where much spade husbandry is used, the proportion is still greater. After comparing the accounts given in a variety of places and situations of the average quantity of milk which a cow gives when fed in the stall, the result is, that it greatly exceeds that of our best dairy farms, and the quantity of butter made from a given quantity of milk is also greater. It appears astonishing that the occupier of only ten or twelve acres of light arable land should be able to maintain four or five cows, but the fact is notorious in the "Waes country." (pp. 59, 60.)
This subject is treated very intelligently in the work of M. Passy, On System* of Cultivation and their Influence on Social Economy, one of the most impartial discussions, as between the two systems, which has yet appeared in France.
"Without doubt it is England that, on an equal surface, feeds the greatest number of animals; Holland and some parts of Lombardy can alone vie with her in this respect: but is this a consequence of the mode of cultivation, and have not climate and local situation a share in producing it? Of this 1 think there can be no doubt. In fact, whatever may have been said, wherever large and small cultivation meet in the same place, the latter, though it cannot support as many sheep, possesses, all things considered, the greatest quantity of manure-producing animals.
"In Belgium, for example, the two provinces of smallest farms are Antwerp and East Flanders, and they possess on an average for every 100 hectares (260 acres) of cultivated land, 74 horned cattle and 14 sheep.
The disadvantage, when disadvantage there is, of small, or rather of peasant farming, as compared with capitalist farming, must chiefly consist in inferiority of skill and knowledge; but it is not true, as a general fact, that such inferiority exists. Countries of small farms and peasant farming, Flanders and Italy, had a good agriculturo many generations before England, and theirs is still, as a whole, probably the best agriculture in the world. The empirical skill, which is the effect of daily and close observation, peasant farmers often possess in an eminent degree. The traditional knowledge, for example, of the culture of the vine, possessed by the peasantry of the
The two provinces where we find the large farms are Namur and Hainaut, and they average, for every 100 hectares of cultivated ground, only 30 horned cattle and 45 sheep. Reckoning, as is the custom, ten sheep as equal to one head of horned cattle, we find in the first case, the equivalent of 76 leasts to maintain the fecundity of the soil; in the latter case less than 35, a difference which must be called enormous. (See the statistical documents published by the Minister of the Interior.) The abundance of animals, in the parts of Belgium which are most subdivided, is nearly as great as in England. Calculating the number in England in proportion only to the cultivated ground, there are for each 100 hectares, 65 horned cattle and nearly 260 sheep, together equal to 91 of the former, being only an excess of 16. It should besides be remembered, that in Belgium stall feeding being continued nearly the whole year, hardly any of the manure is lost, while in England, grazing in the open fields diminishes considerably the quantity which can be completely utilized.
"Again, in the Department of the Nord, the arrondissements which have the smallest farms support the greatest quantity of animals. While the arrondissements of Lille and Hazebrouck, besides a greater number of horses, maintain the equivalent of 52 and 46 head of horned cattle, those of Dunkirk and Avesnes, where the farms are larger, produce the equivalent of only 44 and 40 head. (See the statistics of France published by the Minister of Commerce.)
"A similar examination extended to other' portions of France would yield similar results. In the immediate neighbourhood of towns, no doubt, the small farmers, having no difficulty in purchasing manure, do not maintain animals: but, as a general rule, the kind of cultivation which takes most out of the ground must be that which isobligedtobe most active in renewing its fertility. Assuredly the small farms cannot have numerous flocks of sheep, and this is an inconvenience; but they support more horned cattle than the countries where the best wines are produced, is extraordinary. There is no doubt an absence of science, or at least of theory; and to some extent a deficiency of the spirit of improvement, so far as relates to the introduction of new processes. There is also a want of means to make experiments, which can seldom be made with advantage except by rich proprietors or capitalists. As for those systematic improvements which operate on a large tract of country at once (such as great works of draining or irrigation) or which for any other reason do really require large numbers of workmen combining their labour, these are not in general to be expected from small farmers, or even small proprietors; though combination among them for such purposes is by no means unexampled, and will become more common as their intelligence is more developed.
Against these disadvantages is to be placed, where the tenure of land is of the requisite kind, an ardour of industry absolutely unexampled in any other condition of agriculture. This is a subject on which the testimony of competent witnesses is unanimous. The working of the petite culture cannot be fairly judged where the small cultivator is merely a tenant, and not even a tenant on fixed conditions, but (as
large farms. To do so is a necessity they cannot escape from, in any country where the demands of consumers require their existence: if they could not fulfil this condition, they must perish.
"The following are particulars, the exactness of which is fully attested by the excellence of the work from which I extract them, the statistics of thecommuneo'Vensat (department of Puy de Dome), lately published by Dr. Jusseraud, mayor of the commune. They are the more valuable, as they throw full light on the nature of the changes which the extension of small farming has, in that district, produced in the number and bind of animals by whose manure the productiveness of the soil is kept up and increased. The commune consists of 1612 hectares, divided into 4600 parcelles, owned by 591 proprietors, and of this extent 1466 hectares are under cultivation. In 1790, seventeen farms occupied two-thirds of the whole, and twenty others the remainder. Since then the land has been much divided, and the subdivision is now extreme. 'What has been the effect on the quantity of cattle? A considerable increase. In 1790 there were
until lately in Ireland) at a nominal rent greater than can be paid, and therefore practically at a varying rent always amounting to the utmost that can be paid. To understand the subject, it must be studied where the cultivator is the proprietor, or at least a mUayer with a permanent tenure; where the labour he exerts to increase the produce and value of the land avails wholly, or at least partly, to his own benefit and that of his descendants. Jn another division of our subject, we shall discuss at some length the important subject of tenures of land, and I defer till then any citation of evidence on the marvellous industry of peasant proprietors. It may suffice here to appeal to the immense amount of gross produce which, even without a permanent tenure, English labourers generally obtain from their little allotments; a produce beyond comparison greater than a large farmer extracts, or would find it his interest to extract, from the same piece of land.
And this I take to be the true reason why large cultivation is generally most advantageous as a mere investment for profit. Land occupied by a large farmer is not, in one sense of the word, farmed so highly. There is not nearly so much labour expended on it.
only about 300 horned cattle, and from 1300 to 2000 sheep; there are now 676 of the former and only 633 of the latter. Thus 1300 sheep have been replaced by 376 oxen and cows, and (all things taken into account) the quantity of manure has increased in the ratio of 490 to 729, or more than 48 per cent, not to mention that the animals being now stronger and better fed, yield a much greater contribution than formerly to the fertilization of the ground.
"Such is the testimony of facts on the point. It is not true, then, that smalt farming feeds fewer animals than large; on the contrary, local circumstances being the same, it feeds a greater number: and this is only what might have been presumed; for, requiring more from the soil, it is obliged to take greater pains for keeping up its productiveness. All the other reproaches cast upon small farming, when collated one by" one with facts justly appreciated, will be seen to be no better founded, and to have been made only because the countries compared with one another were differently situated in respect to the general causes of agricultural prosperity." (pp. 116-120.)
This is not on account of any economy arising from combination of labour, but because, by employing less, a greater return is obtained in proportion to the outlay. It does not answer to any one to pay others for exerting all the labour which the peasant, or even the allotment holder, gladly undergoes when the fruits are to be wholly reaped by himself. This labour, however, is not unproductive; it all adds to the gross produce. With anything like equality of skill and knowledge, the large farmer does not obtain nearly so much from the soil as the small proprietor, or the small farmer with adequate motives to exertion: but though his returns are less, the labour is less in a still greater degree, and as whatever labour he employs must be paid for, it does not suit his purpose to employ more.
But although the gross produce of the land is greatest, other things being the same, under small cultivation, and although, therefore, a country is able on that system to support a larger aggregate population, it is generally assumed by English writers that what is termed the net produce, that is, the surplus after feeding the cultivators, must be smaller; that therefore, the population disposable for all other purposes, for manufactures, for commerce and navigation, for national defence, for the promotion of knowledge, for the liberal professions, for the various functions of government, for the arts and literature, all of which are dependent on this surplus for their existence as occupations, must be less numerous; and that the nation, therefore, (waving all question as to the condition of the actual cultivators,) must be inferior in the principal elements of national power, and in many of those of general well-being. This, however, has been taken for granted much too readily. Undoubtedly, the non-agricultural population will bear a less ratio to the agricultural, under small than under large cultivation. But that it will be less numerous absolutely, is by no means a consequence. If the total population, agricultural and non-agricultural, is greater, the non-agricultural
portion may be more numerous in itself, and may yet be a smaller proportion of the whole. If the gross produce is larger, the net produce may be larger, and yet bear a smaller ratio to the gross produce. Yet even Mr. Wakefield sometimes appears to confound these distinct ideas. In France it is computed that two-thirds of the whole population are agricultural. In England, at most, one-third. Hence Mr. Wakefield infers, that "as in France only three people are supported by the labour of two cultivators, while in England the labour of two cultivators supports six people, English agriculture is twice as productive as French agriculture," owing to the superior efficiency of large farming through combination of labour. But in the first place the facts themselves are overstated. The labour of two persons in England does not quite support six people, for there is not a little food imported from foreign countries, and from Ireland. In France, too, the labour of two cultivators does much more than supply the food of three persons. It provides the three persons, and occasionally foreigners, with flax, hemp, and to a certain extent with silk, oils, tobacco, and latterly sugar, which in England are wholly obtained from abroad; nearly all the timber used in France is of home growth, nearly all which is used in England is imported; the principal fuel of France is procured and brought to market by persons reckoned among agriculturists, in England by persons not so reckoned. I do not take into calculation hides and wool, these products being common to both countries, nor wine or brandy produced for home consumption, since England has a corresponding production of beer and spirits; but England has no material export of either article, and a great importation of the last, while France supplies wines and spirits to the whole world. I say nothing of fruit, eggs, and such minor articles of agricultural produce, in which the export trade of France is enormous. But, not to lay undue stress on these abatements, we will take the statement as it stands. Suppose that two persons, in England, do bona fide produce the food of six, while in France, for the same purpose, the labour of four is requisite. Does it follow that England must have a larger surplus for the support of a non-agricultural population? No; but merely that she can devote two-thirds of her whole produce to the purpose, instead of one-third. Suppose the produce to be twice as great, and the one,third will amount to as much as the two-thirds. The fact might be, that owing to the greater quantity of labour employed on the French system, the same land would produce food for twelve persons which on the English system would only produce it for six: and if this were so, which would be quite consistent with the conditions of the hypothesis, then although tho food for twelve was produced by the labour of eight, while the six were fed by the labour of only two, there would be the same number of hands disposable for other employment in the one country as in the other. I am not contending that the fact is so. I know that the gross produce per acre in France as a whole (though not in its most improved districts) averages much less than in England, and that, in proportion to the extent and fertility of the two countries, England has, in the sense we are now speaking of, much the largest disposable population. But the disproportion certainly is not to be measured by Mr. Wakefield's simple criterion. As well might it be said that agricultural labour in the United States, where, by a late census, four families in every five appeared to be engaged in agriculture, must be still more inefficient than in France.
The inferiority of French cultivation (which, taking the country as a whole, must be allowed to be real, though much exaggerated,) is probably more owing to the lower general average of industrial skill and energy in that country, than to any special cause: and even if partly the effect of minute subdivision, it does not prove that small farming is disadvantageous, but only (what is undoubtedly the fact) that farms in France are very fre
quently too small, and, what is worse, broken up into an almost incredible number of patches or parcelles, most inconveniently dispersed and parted from one another.
As a question, not of gross, but of net produce, the comparative merits of the grande and the petite culture, especially when the small farmer is also the proprietor, cannot be looked npon as decided. It is a question on which good judges at present differ. The current of English opinion is in favour of large farms: on the Continent, the weight of authority seems to be on the other side. Professor Rau, of Heidelberg, the author of one of the most comprehensive and elaborate of extant treatises on political economy, and who has that large acquaintance with facts and authorities on his own subject, which generally characterises his countrymen, lays it down as a settled truth, that small or moderate-sized farms yield not only a larger gross but a larger net produce: though, he adds, it is desirable there should be some great proprietors, to lead the way in new improvements.* The most apparently impartial and discriminating judgment that I have met with is that of M. Passy, who (always speaking with reference to net produce) gives his verdict in favour of large farms for grain and forage: but, for the kinds of culture which require much labour and attention, places the advantage wholly on the side of small cultivation; including in this description, not only the vine and the olive, where a considerable amount of care and labour must be bestowed on each individual plant, but also roots, leguminous plants, and those which furnish the materials of manufactures. The small size, and consequent multiplication, of farms, according to all authorities, are extremely favourable to the abundance of many minor products of agriculture.f
* See pp. 352 and 353 of a French translation published at Brussels in 1839, by M. Fred, de Kemmeter, of Ghent.
t " In the department of the Nord," says M. Passy, "a farm of 20 hectares (50 acres) produces in calves, dairy produce, poultry, and eggs, a value of sometimes 1000 francs1
It is evident that every labourer who extracts from the land more than his own food, and that of any family he may have, increases the means of supporting a non-agricultural population. Even if his surplus is no more than enough to buy clothes, the labourers 'who make the clothes are a nonagricultural population, enabled to exist by food which he produces. Every agricultural family, therefore, which produces its own necessaries, adds to the net produce of agriculture; and so does every person born on the land, who by employing himself on it, adds more to its gross produce than the mere food which he eats. It is questionable whether, even in the most subdivided districts of Europe which are cultivated by the proprietors, the multiplication of hands on the soil has approached, or tends to approach, within a great distance of this limit. In France, though the subdivision is confessedly too great, there is proof positive that it is far from having reached the point at which it would begin to diminish the power of supporting a non-agricultural population. This is demonstrated by the great increase of the towns; which have of late increased in a much greater ratio than the population generally,* showing (unless the condition of the town labourers is becoming rapidly deteriorated, which there is no reason to believe) that even by the unfair and inapplicable test of proportions, the productiveness of agriculture must be on the increase. This, too, concurrently with the amplest evidence that in the more improved districts of France, and in some which, until lately, were among the unimproved, there is a considerably increased consumption of country produce by the country population itself.
(£40) a year: which, deducting expenses, is an addition to the net produce of 15 to 20 francs per hectare."— On Syttemt of Culticatoon, p. 114.
* During the interval between the census of1S51 and that of 1856, the increase of the population of Paris alone, exceeded the aggregate increase of all France: while nearly •11 the other large towns likewise showed an ncrease.
Impressed with the conviction that, of all faults which can be committed by a scientific writer on political and social subjects, exaggeration, and assertions beyond the evidence, most require to be guarded against, I limited myself in the early editions of this work to the foregoing very moderate statements. I little knew how much stronger my language might have been without exceeding the truth, and how much the actual progress of French agriculture surpassed anything which I had at that time sufficient grounds to affirm. The investigations of that eminent authority on agricultural statistics, M. Leonce de Lavergne, undertaken by desire of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of the Institute of France, have led to the conclusion that since the Revolution of 1789, the total produce of French agriculture has doubled; profits and wages having both increased in about the same, and rent in a still greater ratio. M. de Lavergne, whose impartiality is one of his greatest merits, is, moreover, so far in this instance from the suspicion of having a case to make out, that he is labouring to show, not how much French agriculture has accomplished, but how much still remains for it to do. "We have required" (he says) "no less than seventy years to bring into cultivation two million hectares" (five million English acres) "of waste land, to suppress half our fallows, double our agricultural products, increase our population by 30 per cent, our wages by 100 per cent, our rent by 150 per cent. At this rate we shall require three quarters of a century more to arrive at the point which England has already attained."*
After this evidence, we have surely now heard the last of the incompatibility of small properties and small farms with agricultural improvement. The only question which remains open is one of degree; the comparative rapidity of agricultural improvement under the two systems; and it is the
* Economie JRurale de la France depute 1789. Par M. Leonce de Lavergne, Membre de l'Institut et de la Soeiete Centrale d'Agriculture de France. 2me ed p. 59.