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fectual remedy against the pressure of indigence. In the present state of political science, the bare enunciation of such a proposition carries with it its own confutation. But if a warning be necessary, France is sufficient, because the agrarian law is there unmixed. In Ireland it is in some degree combined with prædial servitude ; and although the misery and the increase of a beggarly population be not less, yet, as the land is held by tenants and not proprietors, perhaps the instance is not so pertinent.
Mr. Malthus, in his reasoning upon the Spencean hypothesis, shows that, upon its own extravagant estimate of the annual rent of the land of Great Britain, &c. at 150 millions, (three times its real amount,) the division to each individual would not exceed four pounds, after the proposed allowances to Government were taken from it *.
The Baron Dupin, in arguing against a similar system, upon a general division of all the lands in France, assigns to each person a revenue of 41 francs 86 cents (not quite 35s.6). Unfortunately, the French revolutionary code respecting the descent of landed property tends to augment and perpetuate the misery consequent on this system *. My own testimony on this subject may perhaps be unwillingly admitted; but Mr. Birkbeck, who, at the commencement of his book, asserts, “ that there is no wretched peasantry in France,” (Notes on a Journey through France, page 12,) may be fairly adduced to disprove, as he does in almost every page of his book, his own assertions. Page 31, 33, 35:“ Poor,” says he, “ they are from generation to generation, and growing continually poorer as they increase in numbers, by the division and subdivision of property. Such a people, instead of proceeding from the necessaries to the comforts of life, then to the luxuries, as is the order of things in England, are rather retrograde than progressive." In page 19 of the Appendix to his second edition, he says, “ I am fully aware of the deplorable consequences of the division and subdivision of property in France.”
* Malthus on the Principle of Population, book iii. ch. 3. fifth edit. vol. ii. p.
280. † Histoire de l'Administration du Secours Public, p. 409.
But the positive evidence of the Baron Dupin, whose attention was exclusively turned to the subject, deserves more weight than the inconséquence of Mr. Birkbeck. These wretched proprietors, who can with difficulty maintain themselves, are scarcely to be expected to assist their neighbours. “While our anxious wishes are directed to the obtaining a good organization of domiciliary relief in the country, we cannot con
* Malthus : Political Economny, p. 433, &c.
ceal the great difficulties which it presents. The extreme poverty of most of the rural communes renders all improvement impossible. This is a disease too deeply seated to admit a remedy *.”
In 1822 Ireland presented the apparent anomaly of a country superabounding in grain, and the great mass of inhabitants in an utter state of inability to purchase it. Yet, as the circumstances of the cultivators of the soil vary in France and Ireland in the manner above stated, it is to be hoped some remedy may be found applicable to the case of the latter country.
Domestic slavery has in a great degree passed away in the more civilized parts of Europe. In the less civilized, prædial servitude yet remains ; but neither in its absolute or modified state does it claim respect or imitation.
“ In general," says Mr. Jacob, “ the peasantry in Prussia are in a condition of great distress, and involved in debt to their lords. They are no longer slaves, or adstricti gleba,-by the constitution promulgated in 1791 they were declared free. The practical effect of the privileges thus granted has hitherto been very inconsiderable.
The peasants can leave their lands, but must first acquit the pecuniary demands of their lords. Few of them are able to do this, as most of
* " C'est un vice radical, irremediable."--Dupin, p. 467.
them are in arrears *.” In the great distress in the year 1817, the owners of large estates in the Highlands bought considerable quantities of meal for their poor tenants, which was sold to them, and for which, being unable to pay, they gave bonds. They were too proud to receive the meal as alms, and too poor ever to pay for it: so that the debts remained, and most probably are still remaining. He who is a debtor, and unable to pay, is pro tanto a slave. Yet the clanship of the Highlands is regretted by some of the lords,- and why? Because they can be tyrants, and their tenants slaves; and the pride which prevents the tenants from receiving this relief as alms, leaves them worse slaves than in the state of clanship. Yet on the modification of prædial servitude are founded not only the plans of Mr. Owen at Lanark, where the great mass of the population were bond-slaves to his cotton mills; the establishment at Fredericksordt; and a hundred other propositions or practices of a similar kind: but it is prædial servitude " in its mildest and most amiable form, the beau ideal of a sugar plantation, applicable with good effect to certain stages of human society, and containing admirable hints for the administration of an infant colony,—but which no man in his senses could wish to see universal, or substituted for those light and invisible links of public feeling and cultivated society, which restrain us from those actions only which are hurtful to our neighbours; and instead of compelling us to be happy after a certain rule, allow us to pursue our own objects after our own manner, at our own peril, and for our own advantage."-Quarterly Review, vol. xviii. p. 119.
* Jacob's Report on Trade in Foreign Corn.
+ See an Address to the Imperial Parliament, by W. H. Saunders, Esq.
Of the modified state of prædial servitude Italy presents the most prominent example; but under this system poverty is excessive, and the situation of the cultivators of the soil is by no means desirable.
In Tuscany, upon the little farms, it is only the elder brother who is enabled to marry: the other brothers and sisters continue in celibacy; working for him on the farm without wages, and receiving from him only a bare subsistence *. A Milanese writer, speaking of the small farmers in Lombardy, says,
6 Whoever has the least experience can attest that this class seldom eats meat, even on holidays.”—“ There is another class of persons still more wretched, those called pigionanti. These are day-labourers, where the farm is too large to be managed by the family of the tenant alone, or where it is managed by the
* Sismondi, L'Agriculture Toscane, p. 101.