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who can do what he pleases on his own ground, and who is guided by enlightened self-interest is under no such restraint, and accordingly we find that at least twice in the course of English History, great landowners have conferred incalculable benefits upon English rural economy. These periods in their full strength lasted from about 1260 to 1350, and again from 1730 to 1780. In the former case the process was seriously interrupted by the ravages of the Black Death, which disorganised the labour market, and in the latter by the enormous rise in agricultural prices at the latter end of the eighteenth century. A model landlord at the former date is to be found in Roger Bigod, the great Farl of Norfolk, the traditional hero who dared to bandy words with Edward I., and not only cultivated his English estates according to the best lights of his time under his own personal superintendence. but also introduced the English system upon his Irish estates. From such men the English farmer learned much.” He was exceedingly prosperous throughout the wars of the Roses, in which the aristocracy committed suicide, though all Bigod's zeal and skill could not make up for the absence of winter roots and artificial grasses, which were then unknown, whilst the rotation of crops was not thought of. On the other hand, in the eighteenth century the chief feature of the new agriculture consisted in the change which it made in the rotation of crops, in the substitution of roots, especially the turnip, for bare fallows, and in the careful hoeing and weeding of the root crop, by feeding on which at leisure sheep fertilised the soil.” No men ever earned their money more fairly than the English landlords earned the great rise in rent during the eighteenth century, and it is unfortunate that the great rise of prices consequent upon bad seasons towards its close, and the artificial famine of the Corn Laws, coupled with an erroneous theory of rent, led their successors to take a very different course. The testimony of Adam Smith shows that Scottish agriculture was for a long time inferior to English, and although in his day rapidly improving, had not yet overtaken the South, where this zeal for improvement and personal superintendence on the part of the landowner, had begun to flag before the “Wealth of Nations” was published, whilst the motives for the consolidation of farms were still increasing in vigour. It seemed manifest that experimental agriculture could not be carried on (if it were to be a matter of business and not of fancy) except on a large scale and with abundant capital, and that machinery and its economics could not be adapted to agriculture unless an adequate area were given for their use. And looked at from a business and not from a sentimental point of view, it was plain that by the consolidation of farms the position of the landowner would be improved, and that the regular and permanent charges imposed upon him by custom would be lessened. A farm of eight hundred acres requires much less outlay in buildings and repairs than ten farms of eighty acres each, and this was felt all the more keenly owing to the heavy excises then levied on almost all articles used in building and repairs. But it was too often forgotten that the larger the farm the smaller the number of farmers who have sufficient capital to stock and work it, and that the small farmer's family is likely to give much more personal labour to the farm than the family of a large farmer, whose members would be apt to despise the occupation by which they lived. And the value of the farmer's own labour is very great. He works more diligently on his own account than any of his labourers will work for him, and so effective is his eye for small economics that we often find the friends of the labourer with an amusing sort of simplicity complain of the hard and strict dealing of the small farmer towards those whom he employs. And the proportion of the produce which the small farmer and his family (who are generally assistants in his labours) consume is far greater than that which a large holder consumes, and this portion of his earnings is hardly at all mulcted by the middleman. Many labourers, who have had allotments of land to the extent of two or three acres, and have cultivated these with their own hands, state that every day's labour has been worth ten shillings to them, not for the sale of the produce, but for the maintenance of their families, as they thus save all the intermediate expenses of carriage, markets, and agents. We must also be careful not to confuse the system of large owners with the system of large occupiers, Large owners are often envied, but England has always been a country of large owners, though not always of large occupiers. Most men look upon the average outlay of their equals as an unavoidable want, and save only to the extent to which they possess more than others of their class. If therefore everyone had an equal income few would think themselves in a condition to save. A deterrent effect is thus exercised on every economic venture, and yet no great progress is possible where no venture is made.
* The peasant freeholders and copyholders having before them an example in the mode of cultivation pursued on the lord's estate, profited by his successes and failures. And in addition to this the lord guaranteed the king's peace—that is, the continuity of the farmer's industry free from the risk of brigandage. The whole doctrine of express and implied, of lineal and collateral, warranty points in the same direction.
* The farming books of Lord Lovell (afterwards Lord Leicester), who practised the new agriculture in 1730, have been preserved, and the late Professor Rogers made a careful examination of them. He describes them as a monument of diligence, as Lord Lovell “grew corn, was the butcher of the neighbourhood, maltster, brickburner, and lime-burner. He superintended the whole farm, checked all the accounts, examined every item, and aster making a reasonable deduction from his profits for rent, paying his workmen good wages (for the time), and making considerable improvements on the estate by marling a portion of it, declares a profit of over 36 per cent. on his first year's expenditure.”
LAND FROM A LIBERTY POINT OF VIEW.
I want to point out the dangers that lie in front of us as regards Land. Almost everybody who approaches the subject of land approaches it with some partial and onesided aim, either influenced by the interest of the landlord, or the tenant, or the labourer, or intent upon some bit of legal reform, or serving party objects and scrambling in the political market for votes, or with some ill-considered bias in favour of conferring upon either the local or central government land-holding powers. All such one-sided and partial methods of treating this great question are bound to lead us wrong. Steering first in one direction and then in another, under these varying impulses, we shall be sure to involve ourselves in every kind of complication ; we shall run into officialism and expense; we shall weaken the healthy desire to possess land—that magical spring which can produce such great results; and we shall be constantly contradicting what we did yesterday by what we do to-day. No better example of the vagueness of our course and the confusion of our opinions can be given than the Gladstone Irish Land Acts, painfully building up dual ownership, and the Balfour Act, after a slight interval, heroically reconstituting the single owner; or the Agricultural Compensation Act which was passed