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of ex

gance, and bad management, would be multiplied in excess of the small proportion of those which are now effected in Ireland on such accounts.'

English and Irish landlords,' says M. de Laveleye, do not put on the screw of a continual increase of rent with anything like the harshness habitual with Belgian landowners. ... The peasants of Flanders unfortunately will not leave their own province, and their intense competition for farms raises the rents in a manner ruinous to themselves. ... In

consequence cessive competition, the Flemish farmer is much more ground down by his landlord than the Irish tenant.'

There certainly was a curious felicity in the selection of Belgium by Messrs. Mill, Thornton, and Leslie, as exhibiting in the excellence of its culture and the wellbeing of its cultivators a Labour Utopia, to which legislation should seek to assimilate England and Ireland. Not one of the conditions which they affirm to be indispensable to good cultivation and the good condition of the cultivators can be affirmed with truth to prevail generally in Belgium ; every one of the characters of absolute proprietorship, facilities for summary eviction, and agrarian outrage (only that in Belgium agrarian outrage is suppressed, instead of being made political capital of), which they denounce as evidences of landlord law in Ireland, are equally to be found in Belgium. We find it stated in the Reports from our Ministers abroad, compiled from official documents, that in East and West Flanders, the provinces specially selected by our peasant-proprietary-fanciers, as exemplifying the agrarian regimen they would introduce at home, the land is almost entirely worked by tenants, whereas in Luxemburg, where much of the land is poor and of but comparatively little value, it is mostly cultivated by proprietors. Taking the whole of the little kingdom, not half the land is retained in the hands of its proprietors, and it is further stated that the bulk of the land in the hands of owners consists of wood, wastes, &c.' Those parts of Belgium specially selected as illustrating by their skilled and careful cultivation the magic of property' triumphing over all disadvantages of soil and climate, are precisely those parts which are neither owned by their cultivators, nor held on a tenure described as absolutely indispensable to encourage culture by its security. The peasant-proprietor is unknown in the Pays de Waes,' and very whimsical are the varieties of the truck system' inflicted on the farmers in that favoured district, where written leases do not exist,' and where one farmer very generally holds of several landlords, who are for the most part tradesmen in the neighbouring towns:

• The small as well as the large farmer is liable to have as landlords,

at

at one and the same time, a brewer, a grocer, a haberdasher, a manufacturer, a clockmaker, a publichouse keeper, a farmer, a doctor, a lawyer, a parish-priest (rarely owner of land), a Liberal, a Catholic. The brewer expects him to drink his beer-if he objects, he evicts him from the plot of land he holds of him, and lets it to a more profitable tenant: the grocer expects him to buy his coffee at his shop; his wife and daughters must dress well in order to please the haberdasher; he must purchase a watch and change it occasionally to please the watchmaker; he must assist his faz ner-landlord in getting in his crops before he attends to his own; if he or his family do not require the doctor's attendance two or three times a year, the doctor seeks for a less healthy tenant.'

• About two-thirds of the arable lands of Belgium,' says Consul Grattan, "are cultivated by tenants. A former Belgian Minister stated some years back, in a Report on the subject, that it is in the poorer and more thinly nhabited districts that proprietors are the most apt to cultivate their own land,' and that 'in populous districts proprietors farming their own lands become comparatively rare.'

If, in most parts of Belgium, 'farming is carried on upon traditional principles,' and has become a sort of unimproving routine, the petty farmer has become an equally unimproving and equally rooted human vegetable. “In certain localities,' says Consul Grattan, 'taking as an example the province of East Flanders, where an excess of population brings with it increased rent and diminished wages, the remedy would seem to be in emigration; yet strong local attachments, added perhaps in some degree to jealousy of race, appear to prevent the Flemish peasant from removing even as far as the neighbouring Walloon province of Hainault, where the want of agricultural labourers forms a source of complaint, and is looked upon as a serious inconvenience.'

• Although the rights of property,' says Mr. Wyndham, "are in some parts of Belgium (Pays de Waes, and in the immediate vicinity of Brussels, for instance,) exercised with little if any consideration for the tenant, the Government have hitherto abstained, and I have been assured always would abstain, from legislating upon the relations of landlords with their tenants, as to the granting of leases, raising rents, &c., considering that such action would be interfering with the individual rights of property. . . . No attempts have been made by Government to create or increase the number of freeholders in Belgium (beyond the endeavour which I have stated, to colonize the Campine, and which failed). Such a scheme is looked upon as impracticable, and as one which would only lead to forming a class of persons who would always be looking to Government for assistance.' Vol. 131.-No. 261.

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Let Mr. Mill ponder well this arertissement to administrative philanthropy, and take note of the details (which we have not space for here) of the failure of the Belgian Government in its Campine project of colonization, before he next proposes that the English Government should buy with public money, on public account, land coming into the market, to cut up into small holdings on the East Flanders model, or lease in larger portions to co-operative associations of labourers. “The Campine tenants,' says Mr. Wyndham, “according to my informant, who was on the spot in charge of the works for irrigating the country, from the first considered themselves as Government pensioners; considered further that it was to the Government rather than to their own industry that they were thenceforth to look for a living ; and moreover they turned to other purposes the subsidies which the Government gave to enable them to buy stock.'

After ten years' experiment' the Belgian Government had enough of it, put up the land and buildings to auction, and recovered about a sixth-part of what they had cost them. The purchaser at once evicted all the idle tenants he found

upon

the estate, granted six years' leases to other tenants (rather a long lease for Belgium), and converted the administrative failure into an improving private property.

The exclusive partisans of peasant-proprietorship always conclude by citing the Channel Islands as the palmary instance of high prosperity produced by small culture. Mr. Mill says, of the efficiency and productiveness of agriculture on the small properties of the Channel Islands Mr. Thornton's “ Plea for Peasant Proprietors, &c.," produces ample evidence, the result of which he sums up as follows:

“ Thus it appears that in the two principal Channel Islands the agricultural population is in the one twice, and in the other three times as dense as in Britain ; there being in the latter country only

*

* The Hon. T. J. Hovell Thurlow, in his volume entitled “Trades' Unions Abroad,' &c., gives the following account of the fiual results of the establishment by the Dutch Government of the four pauper colonies of Fredericks-oord, Willemsoord, Veenhuizen and Ommerschans:

‘Notwithstanding all the advantages these poor colonists bave possessed, in having the idle eliminated from their ranks, and all their wants at the commencement supplied, the scheme has not succeeded as a self-supporting institution. An item of charge in support of these panper colonies (established in 1818, and meant to be self-supporting) is now of annual occurrence in the Budget of the Dutch Minister for the Home Department, and amounted in the Estimate for 1869 to 322,000 forins. As a means of reforming mendicity, and of raising the condition of the small occupiers, the result has not been more successful tban from a mere tinancial point of view. Barely five per cent of the small occupiers are stattd to have cleared themselves from the debt they incurred (on entering the colony) to the Commune they came from, and to the Society, and have been able after the first sixteen years to pay a moderate rent. By some the failure of this laudable attempt is attributed to too much being done for the Colonists-their not indeed being allowed to starve. The sudden creation of means of per nt relief, be ney ateliers nationaux or pauper

lonies, is the plaiting of a cancer in the body corporate of society--an institution of artificial origin, requiring artificial support, and representing ultimately purely artificial charity.'

one

one cultivator to twenty-two acres of cultivated land, while in Jersey there is one to eleven, and in Guernsey one to seven acres. Yet the agriculture of these islands maintains besides cultivators, non-agricultural populations, respectively, four and five times as dense as that of Britain.'

British readers (farming readers at least) must be 'four or five times as dense' as philo-peasant-proprietary writers have any right to expect to find them, to be capable of taking statements such as these for facts. The late Earl of Rosse, in his pamphlet on Ireland, published in 1867,* gave the Statistical Returns of the Agricultural Stock and Produce imported into, and exported from, Jersey and Guernsey, from which it appears that the great bulk of the first necessaries of life consumed in those islands is procured, not from their petty culture, but by importation. Prosperous as they are—and still more have been from maritime and commercial sources, they have no pretension to be self-supporting agricultural communities at all. Guernsey, with a population of 29,733, imports 34,330 quarters of wheat, and exports none-imports 1297 oxen, exports 41—imports 4980 sheep, exports 40. With these imports,' says Lord Rosse, "Guernsey cannot stand much in need of corn raised at home; and although the peasantry require very little animal food, the wealthy inhabitants of St. Peter's Port and neighbourhood consume the usual quantity. Therefore a supply of meat has to be provided, in addition to the oxen and sheep imported, and, consequently, meadow, clover, and turnips, are the principal crops. In Jersey it is very much the same. So soon are fables dissi pated by a little statistics. The peasant-proprietor is often employed as a lever by those who seek to turn society upside down ; we see how weak that lever is when the truth is known.'

All the exclusive enthusiasts of peasant-proprietorship seem predestined to shipwreck on these same rocks of the Channel İslands. Mr. Cliffe Leslie, in his recently-published volume on * Land Systems,' British and foreign, contrasts the Isle of Wight as having 'scarcely any commerce or shipping' with the Island of Jersey, 'carrying on trade with every quarter of the world.' He attributes the difference to the Island of Jersey being owned by small proprietors, and the Isle of Wight by large ones. Now, waiving the topographical circumstance that it might have been rather difficult to make trading ports of creeks like Brading Harbour, accessible only at high water-and only then to small craft-might it not have occurred to any one less in quest of agrarian arguments than our Irish professor, that every quarter of the world' could more conveniently bring its trade to the mainland of Hampshire than to an outlying section of it insulated by a narrow channel ?

** A Few Words on the Relation of Landlord and Tenant in Ireland, &c. By the Earl of Rosse.

The Solent, to any one looking out from Ryde, shows no scarcity of commercial shipping; and the docks of Southampton might seem to dispense sufficiently with any necessity for cutting up little Vectis into big basins for ocean steamers. But if it is nothing but the lack of peasant-proprietors that diverts the trade of all the world from the direct access it would otherwise seek to the Isle of Wight, how is it that a like "effect defective' does not extend to the rest of Great Britain ? Here is England, on the one side, scant of peasant-proprietors, France, on the other side, swarming with them. Why does not England contrast as shabbily with France in international commerce, as Mr. Leslie laments that the Isle of Wight does with the Channel Islands? But really it is waste of time to combat what we should call such sheer puerilities if they proceeded from any source less officially respectable than the pen of a Professor of Political Economy' in a Queen's College and two Queen's Universities.

It may, however, be worth while to indicate for the benefit of those who need the information, how it has come to pass that the two principal Channel Islands have long maintained a population so much larger than their own agriculture had food for, and have long enjoyed an extent of commerce so much more than proportioned to the place their little rocky cluster fills on the map.

The
answer may

be made in few words—because they have always had the privilege of carrying on entirely free from fiscal restrictions—on the one hand with the neighbouring ports of the Continent, and on the other with the shipping and colonies of this country. Jersey and Guernsey had free ports and free trade, while Great Britain and Ireland still submitted themselves to the self-imposed fetters of anticommercial Corn Laws and Navigation Laws. By means of this privilege,' wrote the late Mr. Inglis in his book on the Channel Islands (published before the era of Free Trade had arrived in England), 'vessels are built (in Jersey) with foreign timber, are rigged with foreign cordage, yet have the advantage of British registers, and consequently enjoy all the advantages to trade secured to British-built vessels.' Again, while the protective Corn Laws obstructed the importation of grain and flour into this country, the Channel Islands could import foreign wheat for their own consumption at free-trade prices, and export to England what wheat they themselves grew, to benefit by protective prices. More than this, they could grind foreign grain, and sell the flour as a native manufacture to British shipping and

British

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