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Sect. 1.


Book I. alone the population could obtain subsistence; and Chap. i.

this without parting with the property of the soil.

Had this been done, the career of the nation, essenOrigin and Divanoan of tially different from what it has been, would more

closely have resembled that of the people of the old world.

In the English colonies of Australia, an unsettled territory, which will bear comparison with the wastes of North America in extent, is the acknowledged property of the crown. A system of disposing of the public lands has lately been adopted, which is a mean between an absolute sale and the creation of a permanent tenantry". The person receiving a grant is subject to a moderate rent, which he may commute for the payment of a specific sumo.

Throughout central Africa the consent of the king or chief must be obtained, before any spot of ground can be cultivated? We know but little of the subsequent rights of the cultivator or of his connection with the sovereign; but the necessity of applying for permission implies a power to withhold it, or to grant it conditionally.

The past history and present state therefore of the old and new world, yield abundant proof of the visionary nature of those notions as to the origin of rent, which rest upon an assumption, that it is

| Emigration Report, p. 397. Appendix II.

2 In proposing present terms to persons inclined to settle at the Swan River, the Colonial Office formally declares an intention of granting lands after 1830, on such conditions only, as may then seem adviseable to Government.

3 Park's Travels in Africa, p. 260.

Sect. 1.


never the immediate result of cultivation; and that Book I. while any land remains unoccupied, no rent will be chap, i. paid for the cultivated part, except such as is warranted by its superiority over that part which is supposed to Origin and be always open to the industry of the community.

We come back then to the proposition, that, in the actual progress of human society, rent has usually originated in the appropriation of the soil, at a time when the bulk of the people must cultivate it on such terms as they can obtain, or starve; and when their scanty capital of implements, seed, &c. being utterly insufficient to secure their maintenance in any other occupation than that of agriculture, is chained with themselves to the land by an overpowering necessity. The necessity then, which compels them to pay a rent, it need hardly be observed, is wholly independent of any difference in the quality of the ground they occupy, and would not be removed were the soils all equalized.

The rents thus paid by the laborer, who extracts his own wages from the earth, may be called peasant rents, using the term peasant to indicate an occupier of the ground who depends on his own labor for its cultivation; or they may be called primary rents, because, in the order of their appearance in the progress of nations towards civilization, they invariably precede that other class of rents to which · we have now to advert.

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On the Origin of Secondary or Farmer's Rents.

Much time seldom elapses, after the formation of an agricultural community, before some imperfect

Sect. 1.


Book I. separation takes place between the departments of Chap. i. labor. The body of artizans and mechanics bear

at first a very small proportion to the whole numOrigin and bers of the people: some of these soon become able

to store up such a quantity of food, implements, and materials, as enable them to feed and employ others, to take the results of their labour, and to exchange them again for more food, and all that is necessary to continue the process. A class of capitalists is thus formed, distinct from that of laborers and landlords. This class sometimes (but, taking the earth throughout, very rarely) makes its appearance on the land, and takes charge of its cultivation. The agricultural laborer no longer depends for subsistence upon the crops he raises from the soil; and the landlord, instead of receiving his share directly from the hands of the laborer, receives it indirectly through those of the new employer.

Since these rents invariably succeed in the order of civilization the class already pointed out, they may be called secondary rents; or, because the capitalist, who becomes responsible for the rent of land which he cultivates by the labor of others, is usually called a farmer, these rents may conveniently be called farmer's rents, and so distinguished from peasant rents.

There are cases, no doubt, in which it is difficult to determine to which of these two classes, the peasant or farmer's rents, the rents paid by particular individuals belong. But this is a circumstance which need embarrass the enquiries of none but those who delight in surrounding a subject with refinements

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and difficulties of their own creation. We shall Book I. find the two classes over vast regions of the globe Sect. 1.

Chap. i. distinctly and broadly separated in their form, their effects, and the causes of their variations: and it Origin and would be very useless trifling, to linger and puzzle Rents. over those very limited spots alone, where they are in a state of mixture and confusion.

The circumstances which determine the amount of peasant rents are much less complex than those which determine the amount of farmer's rents. In the case of these last, the amount of wages is first determined by causes foreign to the contract between the proprietor and the tenant, and then the amount of rent is strictly limited by the amount of the profits on the capital used; which capital, if those profits are not realized, may be withdrawn to another employment. The causes which determine the ordinary rate of those profits are also independent of the contract between the landlord and tenant, and form a distinct subject of enquiry. In the case of the first class, or peasant rents, the amount both of wages and rents is determined solely by the bargain made between the proprietors and a set of laborers, whose necessities chain them to the soil with the small capital they use to aid their labour and procure food; and the causes which govern the terms of that bargain are comparatively simple.

The class of secondary or farmer's rents is that with which we are the most familiar in England, or rather that with which we are alone familiar; and this familiarity has caused peasant rents in their numerous

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Book I. varieties not only to be neglected in our investiSect. 1. gations, but, in truth, to be overlooked altogether.

And yet, as has been before suggested, compared Origin and with these, the mass of farmer's rents to be found

on the globe is very small. In England and in most parts of the Netherlands secondary rents exclusively prevail

. In the Highlands of Scotland, they are only at this moment displacing the last remains of the more primitive form: in France, before the revolution, they were found on about one-seventh part of the land : in the other countries of Europe, they are much more rare, throughout Asia hardly known. We shall be making on the whole an extravagant allowance, if we suppose them to occupy one-hundredth part of the cultivated surface of the habitable globe.

If we consider principally the numbers of the human race whose fate they influence, or

or the extent of the regions of which the social condition receives its impress from them, then peasant rents under their various forms will be the most interesting and important. If our taste leads us to undertake the discussion of these subjects as a scientific problem, the main interest of which consists in the exercise it affords to the powers of analysis and combination, perhaps the second class (or farmer's rents) may not be undeserving of the exclusive attention it has received.

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