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selves the direction of agriculture. The metayer system indicates, therefore, a state of society, advanced, when compared with that in which serf rents prevail; backward, when compared with that in which Rents. rents paid by capitalists make their appearance.
It is found springing up in various parts of the world, engrafted occasionally on the serf rents we have been reviewing, and more often on the system of ryot rents we have yet to examine. But it is in the western division of continental Europe, in Italy, Savoy, Piedmont, the Valteline, France, and Spain, that the pure metayer tenantry are the most common, and it is there that they influence most decidedly the systems of cultivation and those important relations between the different orders of society, which originate in the appropriation of the soil. Into those countries, once provinces of the Roman Empire, they were introduced by the Romans, and, to discover their origin in Europe, we must turn back our eyes for an instant on the classical nations of antiquity.
Of Metayer Rents in Greece.
GREECE, when it first presents materials for Book 1. authentic history, was, for the most part, divided into small properties cultivated by the labor of the proprietors, assisted by that of slaves. But before
BOOK 1. we observe how this state of things led the way to the establishment of metayer rents, it should be remarked, that relics of a system which even in those days bore the marks of antiquity, and was becoming obsolete, were still to be seen in many districts of Greece.
Irruptions from other countries, as to the details of which the learned dispute in vain, had, previous to the æra of historical certainty, filled several provinces of Greece with foreign masters. These people, in some instances at least, found the original inhabitants acquainted with agriculture, the toils of which they had no inclination, perhaps not sufficient skill, to share. They converted therefore the husbandmen into a peculiar species of tenantry, differing from the serf tenantry of modern Europe in this, that though attached to the soil, and a sort of predial bondsmen, they paid, not labor, but produce rents, and belonged, in some remarkable instances, not to individuals, but to the state. These tenants were called in Crete Perioci, Mnotæ, Aphamiota; in Laconia Perioci and Helots; in Attica Thetes and Pelata; in Thessaly Penestæ, and in other districts by other names1.
1 This sketch of the tenantry peculiar to early Greece might have been made more extensive and perhaps more precise. They may be traced in many other districts, and some distinctions might certainly be drawn between the classes named: but this is a subject into the details of which it would be difficult to enter, without either launching into lengthy discussion, or stating shortly as facts, what are really only conjectures. Those who may wish to follow the matter up to the original
The produce rents, which this tenantry were bound in Crete to pay to the government, enabled the legislators of that island to establish public Metayer tables in the different districts, at which the free- Rentin men and their families were fed. This institution Greece. Lycurgus established or renewed at Lacedæmon, where the tables were supplied by the produce of the industry of the Helots; and wherever Syssitiæ or common tables can be traced, it is at least probable, that they were supplied by a similar race of tenants.
In Attica, the existence of the Thetes or Pelatæ (as this tenantry were there called) exercised no such influence on the general habits of the citizens as it did in Crete, in Sparta, and in other Dorian states; and when they were restored by Solon to personal freedom, though not to the political rights of citizens, the alteration led to no striking results3.
testimony, on which all conclusions relating to it must rest, may consult Ruhnken's notes on the words πελάτης and πενεστ TIKOV in his edition of the Platonic Lexicon of Timæus, two notes relating to the institutions of Laconia and Crete, affixed to Göttling's edition of Aristotle's politics; and above all Müller's elaborate history of the Dorian states, a valuable work, for a translation of which the English public are about to be indebted, and very deeply indebted certainly, to Messrs. Tuffnell and Lewis. While referring to the two last of these German writers, it may be right to mention that there are one or two points on which I must venture to dissent from their conclusions: these are shortly noticed in the Appendix.
2 Aristotle's Politics, Book II.
3 Bockh, however, seems of opinion that at one period of the history of Attica, all the cultivators of its territory were Thetes. (Vol. I. p. 250. English Translation.) They may have
It requires indeed some little attention to discern their past existence among the Athenians; and the details of their condition are now perhaps out of the reach of research. Mopтn was the name apΜορτή plied indifferently, it should seem, both to the share paid as rent and that retained by the Thetes. The rent usually consisted of a sixth of the produce, hence their name of ekтnuópio, sometimes it was a fourth, and then the Pelata were said TeTpaxilew. The Penesta of Thessaly were a body of similar tenantry. With the exception of the districts occupied by this peculiar species of tenantry', and of the lands belonging to towns which seem often to have let for terms of years at money rents, the lands of Greece were very generally in the possession of freemen, cultivating small properties with the assistance of slaves.
Slaves were very numerous. Men distributed like the Greeks into small tribes of rude freemen, surrounded by similar tribes, probably exhibit the pugnacious qualities of human nature in the highest degree known. It has often been observed with truth, that in such a state of society the appearance of domestic slavery indicates a considerable softening of the manners. When warrior nations have found
been so; but it is impossible, I think, to read the fifth book of the Memorabilia, (the OikovoμIKOS λóyos) of Xenophon, without feeling persuaded, that in his days the very memory of such a state of things was gone. The Thetes continued to exist as a class in the state long after they had ceased to be its exclusive cultivators, if they ever were such.
Be- Sect. 2.
out the means of making the labor of captives contribute to their own ease, they preserve them. fore they have made such a discovery they put to death. Among the North American Indians, Rents in the labor of no man will do more than maintain himself; no profit is to be made of a slave; hence, unless the captive is selected to take upon himself in the character of a son or husband the task of protecting and providing food for a family deprived of its chief, he is invariably slaughtered. Some tribes of Tartars on the borders of Persia massacre all the true believers who fall into their hands, but preserve all heretics and infidels; because their religion forbids them to make slaves of true believers, and allows them to use or sell all others at their pleasure.
The Greeks used the slaves, with which thei frequent wars supplied them, in all kinds of menia and laborious occupations, and a notion that such occupations could not be filled without slaves, became so familiar, that even their acutest philosophers seem never to have doubted its accuracy or justice. A commonwealth, says Aristotle, consists of families, and a family to be complete must consist of freemen and slaves2, and in fixing on the form of government, which according to him would be most perfect, and conduce the most to the happiness of mankind, he requires that his territory should be cultivated by slaves of different races and destitute
2 Pol. Book I. Cap. iii. οἰκία δὲ τέλειος ἐκ δούλων καὶ ἐλευ θέρων.