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Book I. “ for its augmented population. It is a symptom, Chap. vi. “ but it is never a cause of wealth.” .
can raise rent, but a demand for new land of an of Peasant “ inferior quality, or some cause, which shall occa
“sion an alteration in the relative fertility of the “ land already under cultivation”." - The interest “ of the landlord is always opposed to that of the “consumer and manufacturer 3.” “The dealings be“tween the landlord and the public are not like
dealings in trade, whereby both the seller and the
buyer may equally be said to gain, but the loss “is wholly on one side, and the gain wholly on the “ other." “Rent then is a creation of value, but
not a creation of wealth; it adds nothing to the resources of a country, it does not enable it to “maintain fleets and armies; for the country would “have a greater disposeable fund if its lands were “ of a better quality, and it could employ the same
capital without generating a rent. It must then “ be admitted, that Mr. Sismondi and Mr. Bu“chanan, for both their opinions were substantially " the same, were correct, when they considered rent “as a value purely nominal, and as forming no ad“dition to the national wealth, but merely as a trans“ fer of value, advantageous only to the landlords, " and proportionably injurious to the consumero.”
The utter fallacy of these opinions, when applied to any class of peasant rents, has been shewn sepa
| Ricardo's Political Economy, 2nd Edit. p. 62.
3 Ibid. p. 423.
5 Ibid. 2nd Edit.
rately for each class in the course of the remarks Book I.
Chap. vi. which have already been made: viz. for labor rents, at p. 61., for metayers, at p. 105., for ryots, at p. 140., of Peasant and for cottier rents at p. 153.
But let us for a moment picture to ourselves the effects of an address, by a philosopher of this school, to an assembly composed of sovereign proprietors of territories occupied by ryots, and of the landholders of countries cultivated by serfs, metayers, or cottiers.
He would assure them, from Mr. Macculloch, that the extent and richness of the tracts of country they might own, affected in no. degree their power of supporting and employing an industrious population : that in the earliest stages of society (being those with which they are the most familiar) no rents are ever paid : that they only begin to be paid when it becomes necessary to cultivate lands of an inferior degree of fertility. He would further inform the landholders, that no improvements of their income could ever by possibility originate in improvements in agriculture, or in an increased fertility of the soil. He would tell them too, that every augmentation of their rental must result entirely from the necessity of resorting, as population increased, to soils of a decreasing degree of fertility. That the decrepitude of agriculture, and the prosperity of the owners of the land, advanced always hand in hand; that their revenues must vary always in an inverse proportion to the amount of produce obtained by means of the capital and labor employed in cultivation, and that their rents, therefore, would increase as the profits
Booz I. of agricultural labor diminished, and would dimiChap. vi. nish as the profits of agricultural labor increased.
The teacher might next take Mr. Ricardo's for de Peasant his text-book, and after enforcing his dogmas from
this parent source, he might proceed farther with his ' revelations, and expound to his audience, that their interests as landlords were always opposed to those of the non-agricultural classes of the community, that the increase of their share of the produce of the soil was a creation of value but not a creation of wealth; that such an increase added nothing to the general stock of riches, nothing to the common resources of the state, nothing to its ability to maintain its public establishments.
We may imagine surely the amazement of the listening circle of landholders of various descriptions. They would know that they were surrounded, as their forefathers had been, by a peasant population yielding a part of their produce or their labor, as a tribute for the use of the ground from which they raised their food, and to which they must cling or die. The lords of the soil would feel therefore, that their revenue, as landed proprietors, owed neither its origin nor its continuance to the existence of gradations in the qualities of land. They would know that, as far as their experience had gone,
with improvements in agriculture, and with the increase of the fertility of the soil, the amount of produce which formed their annual rents had steadily increased, and they would have found that they became wealthier as the labor of their peasant tenantry produced more from the earth, and that they became poorer as it
produced less. It would be impossible for them to Book I.
Chap. vi. doubt, that their power of giving employment and support to a population of laboring cultivators, de- Summary pended mainly on the quantity and quality of the Rents. land at their disposal. They could not shut their
. eyes to the physical fact, that increasing produce converted into increased rents, constituted a fresh creation of material riches. They could only feel bewildered, when they were told, that in the case of such an increase, though there might be a creation of value, there could not be a creation of wealth. They must be aware that the distribution of their revenue was the direct source of the maintenance of the greater part of the non-agricultural classes of the population amidst which they lived; they could not hear, without astonishment, that the increase of their revenue was a misfortune to those classes. Finally, observing that in ryot monarchies the fleets and armies of the state were wholly maintained from the rents of the sovereign proprietor, and that in serf and metayer countries, rents always contributed more or less to similar purposes; they would listen with amazement to the doctrine, that the increase of the territorial revenues of a state, added in no case any thing to its public strength, or to its ability to maintain its military establishments.
It is difficult to imagine, that among a circle full of such recollections our lecturer would make converts. His audience would be apt to believe, that the philosopher they were listening to must have fallen from some other planet: that the scene
of Peasant Rents.
Book I. of his experience must have differed widely from Chap. vi.
the scenes of theirs, and that it was quite imposSummary sible, the various propositions he was endeavouring
to impress upon them, could have been derived from a review of the facts with which they were daily familiar.
In truth, it is not easy to read any of the productions of this school of writers, without seeing, that their system as to rent, is derived exclusively from an examination of the class of farmers' rents. And this class (however interesting to us as Englishmen) has already been stated not to extend itself over one-hundredth part of the cultivated surface of the earth. We shall presently, in examining that particular division of rents, have occasion to shew, that the writers we have been quoting and their followers, have been not less hasty and erroneous in deducing principles from the narrow class of facts before their minds, than they have been rash in attempting to apply those principles to the explanation of the phenomena connected with rent, over that vast portion of the surface of the globe to which their facts are obviously and utterly inapplicable.
We leave now then those primitive tenures, which decide the lot of that large portion of the human race, which produces its own food with its own hands from the soil, and turn to trace the revenues of the landed proprietors when another class of agriculturists have taken possession of the task of cultivation, on terms different in themselves and affected in their variations by different causes.