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capitalists, capable both of pushing cultivation to Book J. the full extent to whích skill and means can carry
Chap. v. it: instead of the land being entrusted to the hands of mere laborers, struggling to exist, unable to im- Rents. prove, and when much impoverished by competition, degraded, turbulent, and dangerous.
As it is proposed to consider the present condition of both the Irish and English poor at the end of the work, when we shall have the assistance of all the more general principles we shall venture to unfold, the subject of cottier rents need not be farther pursued here. They have already been sufficiently examined, to shew the points in which they will agree with or differ from other peasant rents.
SUMMARY OF PEASANT RENTS.
of Peasant Rents.
Influence of Rent on Wages. Book I. ONE important fact must strike us forcibly on Chap. vi.
looking back on the collective body of those priSummary mary or peasant rents, which we have been tracing,
in their various forms, over the surface of the globe. It is their constant and very intimate connection with the wages of labor.
In this respect the serf, the metayer, the ryot, the cottier, are alike: the terms on which they can obtain the spot of ground they cultivate, exercise an active and predominant influence, in determining the reward they shall receive for their personal exertions; or, in other words, their real wages. We should take a very false view of the causes which regulate the amount of their earnings, if we merely calculated the quantity of capital in existence at any given time, and then attempted to compute their share of it by a survey of their numbers. As they produce their own wages, all the circumstances which affect either their powers of production, or their share of the produce, must be taken into the estimate. And among these, principally, those circumstances, which we have seen distinguish one set of peasant tenantry from another. The mode in which their rent is paid, whether in labor, produce, or money : the effects of time and usage
in softening, or exaggerating, or modifying, the Book I. original form or results of their contract: all Chap. vi. these things, and their combined effects, must be Summary carefully examined, and well considered, before we Rents. can expect to understand what it is which limits the wages of the peasant, and fixes the standard of his condition and enjoyments.
While, then, the position of a large proportion of the population of the earth continues to be. what it has ever yet been, such as to oblige them to extract their own food with their own hands from its bosom; the form and condition of peasant tenures, and the nature and amount of the rents paid under them, will necessarily exercise a leading influence on the condition of the laboring classes, and on the real wages of their labor. Influence of Peasant Rents on Agricultural
Production. The next remarkable effect, common to all the forms of peasant rents, is their influence in preventing the full developement of the productive powers of the earth.
If we observe the difference which exists in the productiveness of the industry of different bodies of men, in any of the various departments of human exertion, we shall find that difference to depend, almost wholly, on two circumstances: first, on the quantity of contrivance used in applying manual labor: secondly, on the extent to which the mere physical exertions of men's hands are assisted by the accumulated results of past labor:
of Peasant Rents.
Book I. in other words, on the different quantities of skill, Chap. vi.
knowledge, and capital, brought to the task of Summary production. A difference in these, occasions all the
difference between the productive powers of a body of savages, and those of an equal body of English agriculturists or manufacturers : and it occasions also the less striking differences, which exist between the productive powers of the various bodies of men, who occupy gradations between these two extremes.
When the earth is cultivated under a system of peasant rents, the task of directing agriculture, and of providing what is necessary to assist its operations, is either thrown wholly upon the peasants, as in the case of ryot and cottier rents, or divided between them and their landlords, as in the case of serf and metayer rents. In neither of these cases is the efficiency of agricultural industry likely to be carried as far as it might be. Poverty, and the constant fatigues of laborious exertion, put both science, and the means of assisting his industry by the accumulation of capital, out of the reach of the peasant. And when the landlords have once succeeded in getting rid in part of the burthen of cultivation, and have formed a body of peasant tenantry, it is in vain to hope for much steady superintendance or assistance from them. The fixed and secure nature of their property, and the influence which it gives them in the early stages of society over the cultivating class, that is, over the great majority of the nation, lead to the formation of feelings and habits, inconsistent with a detailed attention to the conduct of cultivation;
while they very rarely possess the power and the Book I.
Chap. vi. temper steadily to accumulate the means of assisting the industry employed on their estates. Some Summary skill, and some capital, must be found among the Rents. very rudest cultivators: but the most efficient direction of labor, and the accumulation and contrivance of the means to endow it with the greatest attainable power, seem to be the peculiar province, the appointed task, of a race of men, capitalists, distinct from both laborers and landlords, more capable of intellectual efforts than the lower, more willing to bring such efforts to bear on the improvement of the powers of industry, than the higher, of those classes. On the peculiar functions of this third class of men in society, and of the various effects moral, economical, and political, produced by the multiplication of their numbers and their means, we shall hereafter have to treat. Their absence from the task of cultivation, which is common to all the wide classes of peasant tenures, prevents that perfect developement of the resources of the earth, which their skill, their contrivance, and the power they exercise by the employment of accumulated resources, do and can alone effect.
Small Numbers of the Non-agricultural Classes.
Resulting from this imperfect developement of the powers of the earth, will be found a stunted growth of the classes of society unconnected with the soil. It is obvious, that the relative numbers of those persons who can be maintained without