« PreviousContinue »
BOOK I. of spirit, that so they may be useful for labor, and Chap. iii. that the absence of any disposition to revolt may be securely relied on'. The condition of Africa is now in this particular, much like that of Greece then. One of the late travellers was explaining to an African chief that there are no slaves in England. "No slaves," exclaimed their auditor, "then what do you do for servants?"
In Greece the labor of cultivation was at first shared between the master and slave. This must always be while properties are small; and accordingly it was so in Latium. Cincinnatus would have starved on his four acres, had he trusted to the produce slaves could extract from it, and neglected to lay his own hands on the plough. But as civilization went forward in Greece, properties became enlarged. The proprietors clung to cities; where popular governments offered to the active duties to perform, and objects of ambition to aspire to, and to the indolent and voluptuous every species of pleasure, made more seducing by all the embellishments that could be created by a taste and fancy, which seem to have belonged to those times and to that people alone. By such occupations and amusements many of the leading Grecians were so engrossed, that they refused to give up even the time and attention necessary to command their household slaves. Those who still attended to the
1 Aristot. Pol. Book VII. Cap. x. If these cannot be obtained, Aristotle expresses a wish for barbarian periœci (compounds of the serf, metayer, and slave) of similar dispositions.
2 Arist. Pol. Book I. Cap. iv. Those who are able to escape
management of their farms must have found the task difficult and hazardous. Xenophon has left an accurate picture of the mode in which the Grecian Metayer gentlemen of his day conducted the cultivation of Rents in their estates. In one of the dialogues of the Memorabilia, Socrates relates a conversation he had had, with Ischomachus, who was by the confession of all, men and women, foreigners and citizens, Kaλos kai ayatos, an accomplished and good man. Ischomachus details those particulars of his domestic economy which had principally earned for him this general praise, and explains at large his management of his household, his wife, and finally his estate. It appears in the progress of the dialogue, that the estate of Ischomachus was within a short distance of Athens, that he rode to it very frequently, paid it much personal attention, and superintended all its arrangements with great care. While cultivation was carried on under the superintendance of such men; while proprietors freed from all necessity of personal labor, liberal, learned, and wealthy, sedulously applied the powers of their minds to agriculture, the art made rapid progress, and a succession of writers on the subject appeared in various parts of Greece, whose works evidenced both the quantity of intellect applied to the unfolding the resources of the soil, and the actual progress of cultivation.
But causes which destroyed this system of managing the land were silently at work. Even Ischo
these vexations, procure a steward to undertake the task; while they themselves attend to politics or philosophy.
BOOK 1. machus was obliged to rely much on his TiσKOTOL or overseers; slaves who were very carefully trained as bailiffs, like the Roman villici. All estates, however, could not be like his within a ride of the capital; the more distant were necessarily confided almost wholly to these managing slaves; and their management, unless they differed utterly from all other slaves similarly trusted, must have been very generally careless and bad. As Greece too became consolidated, first by the Macedonian, then the Roman influence, the possessions of individual proprietors naturally extended themselves over a larger space, and profitable management by slave agents must have become more and more impracticable. At last a tenant was introduced who, receiving from the landowner his land and stock, became responsible to him for a certain proportion, usually half, of the produce: and the proprietors gave up finally all interference with the task of cultivation. These new tenants were called mortitæ, and they are called so still in Greece.
The precise date at which they began to supersede the cultivation by proprietors is not known. It is supposed by some that this happened after their connection with Rome, and that μOPTITY'S, which is not a word of ancient or classical Greek, was a translation of the Latin phrase colonus partiarius. But we can see see so distinctly the same internal causes which led to the creation of the Roman tenantry acting in Greece, that it is probable the mortitæ appeared there as soon, if not sooner, than the coloni partiarii among the Ro
mans, and that the word uоρTITηs was suggested by uopτn, which we have seen was the name of the produce rent paid by the ancient Thetes of Attica. However this might be, by such a tenantry the surface of Greece was gradually occupied; they survived the Mahometan conquest, and the lands of the Turkish Agas were very generally cultivated, before the present disturbances, by Grecian mortitæ or metayers1.
Book I. Chap. iii.
On Metayers among the Romans.
THE causes which introduced metayers into Italy BOOK I. were precisely similar to those which ultimately established them in Greece. The Romans began by sharing with their slaves the toils of cultivation. As the size of estates enlarged, their owners became the superintendants of the labor they before assisted. In this stage the art of agriculture was deeply studied in Rome, as it had been in a similar stage in Greece, by a class of men well qualified to carry it far towards perfection. The works of fifty Greek
1 See Historical Outline of the Greek Revolution published by Murray, p. 9. "The nominal conditions upon which the christian peasant of European Turkey labours for the Turkish proprietor, are not oppressive: they were among the many established usages of the country adopted by the Ottomans, and the practice is similar to that which is still very common in all the poorer countries of Europe. After the deduction of about a seventh for the imperial land-tax, the landlord receives half the remainder, or a larger share, according to the proportion of seed, stock, and instruments of husbandry which he has supplied."
BOOK I. writers on agriculture were known to the Romans', Chap. iii. and those of several Carthaginians. Of these last,
one, Mago, was marked by the honorable distinction of having his works translated into Latin in obedience to a formal decree of the Senate. Roman works on agriculture were less numerous than the Greek, but they were the productions of eminent men, beginning with Cato the censor (qui eam latinè loqui primus instituit, Col.) and including Varro and Virgil. The great poet was far from being the last among the cultivators of his day, and has even, in a few remarkable lines, recommended that alternate husbandry, and substitution of pulse and green crops for fallows, which is the main basis of the most important improvements of our own times.
Alternis idem tonsas cessare novales,
Et segnem patiere situ durescere campum ;
GEOR. Lib. I. l. 71.
As the empire became larger, the size of estates increased; and when they were scattered over provinces which reached from Britain and Spain, to Asia Minor and Syria, the superintendance of the husbandry carried on upon them became burthensome and inefficient, and even the task of training
1 Columella, Book I. Chap. i.
2 Ibid. Book I. Chap. i.
3 Col. Book I. chap. i. Nam qui longinqua, ne dicam transmarina rura mercantur, velut hæredibus patrimonio suo, et quod gravius est, vivi, cedunt servis.