ePub 版
[ocr errors]

connected with, the possession of the lands
which have descended to them from their
ancestors. They estimate their value by
another than a mere pecuniary standard.
They are attached to them by the oldest
and most endearing associations; and they
are seldom parted with except under the
most painful circumstances. Hence the
perpetuity of property in England in the
same families, notwithstanding the limit-
ed duration of entails; great numbers of
estates being at this moment enjoyed by
those whose ancestors acquired them at or
But in France
soon after the Conquest.

such feelings are proscribed. Estates and
families have there no abiding connexion;
and at the demise of an individual who
has a number of children, his estate can
hardly escape being subdivided.
this effect of the law tends to imbue the
proprietors with corresponding sentiments
and feelings. Non seulement,' says M.
De Tocqueville, la loi des successions
rend difficile aux familles de conserver
intacts les mêmes domaines, mais elle leur
ôte le désir de le tenter, et elle les en-
traîne, en quelque sorte, à coopérer avec
elle à leur propre ruine.'"-P. 85-86.

[ocr errors]

But Mr M'Culloch dwells more particularly on the injurious effects to agriculture from the parcelling out of the land into small properties. He shows that a small proprietor is not so efficient a cultivator of the soil as a tenant, in which doctrine Arthur Young had preceded him. He shows, also, that the subdivision of properties leads to the subdivision of farms, and urges that it is impossible to have good farming on small patches of land. Of the miseries of an agricultural system carried on by small farmers on petty holdings, we have already a sufficient example in Ireland. We cannot but think, however, that the progress of things in England has too much swallowed up those little farms of from thirty to fifty acres, which at one time were common over the country. Not but what capital is employed at a great disadvantage on these little holdings-but where there is a general system of good-sized farms, an intermixture of smaller farms is not attended with injurious effects proportional to those which arise where the whole of the land is split up into minute parcels. And then small farmers furnish a link between the yeomanry and peasantry, which it is useful to maintain, cheering the poor man's lot by pointing out to him a path by which he may advance

from the position of a day-labourer to that of an occupier of land. On the same principle we are rejoiced to observe the gradual extension of the allotment system; although it would have a still more beneficial effect, we think, if the land was granted in the shape of a croft about the cottage, thus giving the tenant a greater interest, and more individual sense of proprietorship, than when his piece of land is packed, along with a number of others, into a mass of unsightly patches.


In connexion with the small holdings in Ireland, it should not be forgotten that this subdivision of the land results mainly from the practice of sub-letting; and this again has arisen in a great degree from the practice of granting long leases, the want of which in England has served, among many other things, for an outcry against the landlords. M'Culloch has pointed out the evils of too long leases on the farming tenant, that they superinduce a sense of security which easily degenerates into indolence. But the influence on Ireland is even worse, by breaking up the land into small patches, on which the occupier can but just maintain himself, paying an exorbitant rent to the middleman. eager demand for land amongst the Irish peasantry, as we sometimes hear, that has produced this subdivision of the land, but the subdivision that has produced the demand, by putting the cultivation of the land into the hands of a class who are unable, through want of skill and capital, to carry it on; who cannot, therefore, furnish employment for the labourers, and thus drive them to grasp at little parcels of land as their only means of securing a wretched subsistence; and this security, as we know, has more than once proved but a fancied one, as in the disastrous failure of the potato crop.

For it is not the

While we are on this subject, we may draw the reader's attention to a very able pamphlet by an Irish gentleman, on Irish matters, which, though we believe it has never been published, has had an extensive private circulation. We allude to "An Address to the Members of the House of Commons on the Landlord and

Tenant Question, by Warren H. R. Jackson, Esq." The work, though somewhat tinged with the hard politico-economical school, is written with great shrewdness of thought and freedom from prejudice, and is well worthy the careful attention of the honourable House. The writer, in discussing the vexed question he has taken in hand, fully coincides with the general principles laid down by Mr M'Culloch. "This," he says, (speaking of the subdivision of land) is one of the monster grievances of Ireland, and you will do little good unless you abate it." This abatement he would bring about mainly by prospective laws, as by placing all contracts for subletting hors la loi, and so taking away from the first lessee all power of recovering his rent from the actual tenant. We cannot but think that this would be found a most salutary enactment. It should be remembered, that the occupier is responsible to the owner of the freehold by the power of distress vested in the latter, and it is but just that he should be relieved from the liability to pay two rents-a liability which it is manifest no good farmer would incur, but which the squalid ravager of the soil in Ireland is always eager for.

It has been said that no further legislative enactment is required in Ireland, and that administrative wisdom must do what yet remains to be done. Mr Jackson, however, shows that there are such deep-seated evils in Ireland as cannot be cured except by the direct interference of the legislature. But we think he expects too much from the Sale of Encumbered Estates Bill. An extensive change of proprietorship would, we are persuaded, be a great evil in Ireland. There is an attachment in general to the "ould stock" among their poorer neighbours, which would naturally be followed by a jealousy and prejudice against the new comers who displaced them. And this prejudice would of itself neutralise any efforts for improvement which the landlord might otherwise be disposed to make-although, in most cases, we should not expect much effort in this direction from a stranger mortgagee, often an unwilling purchaser, who would naturally

be anxious to contract with those parties from whom he could obtain his rents with least trouble, leaving them to deal with the land as they liked, and thereby continuing and increasing the odious middleman system.

Mr M'Culloch does not confine his examination of the compulsory partition in France to its influence on agriculture. He has discerned certain political effects of that and the concomitant system of which it is a part, with a precision which subsequent events have elevated into a sort of prophecy. The preface to his work is dated December 1847, and the work was published, we believe, early in January. There can, therefore, be no grounds for classing the following passage with those anticipations which are made after the event:

"The aristocratical element is no longer to be found in French society; and the compulsory division of the soil, while it prevents the growth of an aristocracy, impresses the same character of mobility upon landed possessions that is impressed on the families of their occupiers. Hence the prevalent want of confidence in the continuance of the present order of things in France. What is there in that country to oppose an effectual resistance to a revolutionary movement? Monarchy in France has been stripped of those old associations and powerful bulwarks whence it derives almost all its lustre and support in this and other countries. The throne stands in solitary, though not unenvied dignity, without the shelter of a single eminence, exposed to the full force of the furious blasts that sweep from every point of the surrounding level. There is nothing intermediate, nothing to hinder a hostile majority in the Chamber of Deputies from at once subverting the regal branch of the constitution, or changing the reigning dynasty.”

-P. 132-133.

Scarcely was the printer's ink dry on this passage when the Throne of the Barricades was gone. We have given our author full credit for his sagacity in penetrating into the future, but we think it would puzzle him to foretell what is to come next. We are disposed to doubt, however, whether an aristocracy could have preserved the throne of Louis Philippe. It is true that in our own country William of Nassau and George of Brunswick maintained their crowns by

the aid of powerful sections of the nobility. But the revolutions which gave them those crowns were not the volcanic outbursts of popular force. Under such outbursts, no successful usurper, no "Hero-king," no sovereign by the will of the people, has been able to devise a principle which shall establish his throne in security, and serve in the stead of that prestige of old hereditary succession, that grand feudal idea of kingly right, which is the essential fountain of the reverence that guards royalty. Louis Philippe would have confirmed his sovereignty by means of the influence exerted upon interested officials. No sooner was his power shaken in its unstable equilibrium than the men whom his gold had bought rushed to worship the rising sun of the young Republic. Napoleon, before him, would have built up a similar power on military glory: his doom was sealed when his eagles turned from the field of Leipsic. Cromwell employed religious fanaticism to the same end: the fanaticism lasted his time; but we will venture to say that, had he lived, his protectorate would not have reached the seventeen years allotted to the democratic King of the French.

Our author is of opinion that, after all, the system of compulsory partition will fail to guard what has since become the French Republic:

"But, though it were possible, which it is not, to obviate the mischievous influence of the French and other plans for preventing the increase and continuance of property in the same families, it may be confidently predicted that they will, in time to come as hitherto, wholly fail in their grand object of perpetuating the ascendancy of the democracy. In old settled and fully peopled countries, where the bulk of the population is necessarily poor and dependent, an aristocracy is indispensable for the support of a free system of government

Il importe à tous les peuples qui ont la prétention de devenir ou de rester puissants, d'avoir une aristocratie, c'est-à-dire un corps héréditaire ou non, qui conserve et perpetue les traditions, donne de l'esprit de suite à la politique, et se voue à l'art le plus difficile de tous, qu' aujourd'hui cependant tout le monde croit savoir sans l'avoir appris, celui de gouverner. Un peuple sans aristocratie

pourra briller dans les lettres et les arts, mais sa gloire politique me semble devoir être passagère comme un méteore." CHEVALIER, Lettres sur l'Amerique, ii. 379," pp. 171, 172.

We have already said that we think England certain to have an aristocracy of some description. The ambition of the people to advance themselves individually in the social scale will necessarily lead to a high value being set upon those advanced positions, and will tend to make them the fulcrum from which the country is governed. And we can conceive nothing more fatal to our national organisation than the result which would follow indirectly from the repeal of these laws. It may be supposed at first sight that no very vital question is involved here. Let those who suppose so, take a view of the probable condition of society which would ensue. These, and other socalled feudalities, being swept away, land becomes a commercial article, according to the desire of the plutocratic reformers. Estates are trucked about in the market like bills of exchange; constantly changing hands, their owners have little connexion with them or the people that live on them, regarding them merely in the light of so much realised capital. The old families gradually become dispossessed; mere wealth is recognised as the sole qualification for rank and influence; and the leading class in the state is composed of men who are an aristocracy by virtue of ready money. Far be it from us to undervalue the enterprise, integrity, and industry of our merchant manufacturers and tradesmen. But we will say that when we meet with a man, as we often do among those classes, endowed with a broad range of thought and high and noble aims, we regard him as possessing these qualities not as a consequence, but in spite of a commercial training. The immediate effects of such training are to narrow the mind and cramp the soul, not in respect of domestic and social life-for in these, perhaps, the middle classes are unsurpassed by any other-but in the provinces of the statesman and the politician.

In these times, it seems to be com


Many of our readers will recollect a passage in Cicero, (Off. i. 42,) in which he reprobates, more or less, all commercial pursuits, in respect of their operations on the moral insight of man, and finishes with the praise of the culture of the soil, in these words: "Omnium rerum ex quibus aliquid acquiritur, nihil est agriculturâ meliùs, nihil uberiùs, nihil dulciùs, nihil homine libero digniùs." In this country we should find it difficult to go along with the feelings of the old Roman republican on these points. But though we have already expressed our high sense of the social and domestic virtues of the middle or trading classes, yet we are most confident in the truth of our position, that the shop is the worst possible preparation for the senate. We know that there is a talk abroad about earnest workers, drones of the hive, and so forth. By all means, let every man work who is fit to work. But it

monly supposed that a legislator-like high profits, and a brisk trade in calia poet-nascitur, non fit. There is a certain kind of training, the acquisition of a certain cast of thought, which are requisites for statesmen as a class, as much as his legal reading for a lawyer, or his apprenticeship for a handicraftsman. Statesmen, however, have to deal with practical matters; and therefore we think, as we have before said, that while the predominance of these requisites in the legislature is essential to good government, there may with advantage at the same time be a certain admixture of the men practically versed in commerce and manufactures. But this should be always a subordinate, not a leading, element in the principles which regulate the administration of government.We repeat, that the counting-house, the loom, and the anvil, are not the best schools for legislators. For that office, a man requires leisure and education. We shall be told that a "Squire" is not necessarily an educated man. We do not maintain that he is. But, in the first place, as we cannot well have an education-test, we must go to the class in which, as a class, we find the highest and most enlarged form of education; and we believe that this qualification can, without question, be claimed for the leisure-class, or gentlemen of England. In the second place, it should be remembered, that if the squire is not always individually what we should call an educated man, he yet imbibes his thoughts and notions from those who are such, who give tone to the society in which he moves, In investigating the characteristics of classes, it can scarcely be but that a number of exceptions to our general rules will force themselves upon our attention. Yet, in good truth, we believe that almost all the individual examples which can be cited will bear out our estimate. The highest contributions to the legislature, on the part of the middle or commercial classes, have been the shrewd practical men of business, men of the stamp of Mr Hawes. As for the Cobdens and Brights, et hoc genus omne, their only motive principle appears to be the interests of My Shop. Their notion of loyalty, patriotism, and British prosperity, is nothing but low wages,

is not necessary, nor is it desirable, that every man should work for gain. On the contrary, we hold that a class endowed with leisure is indispensable, not only for the grace and civilisation, but even for the moral well-being of a community. That money should become the one grand loadstar of thought and action is the bane of those societies where the pursuit of money is the general employment; but where there is such a leisure-class as we have spoken of, forming the topmost rank of a nation otherwise chiefly mercantile, there are numberless influences derived from it which percolate through the underlying masses, and check or modify the exclusive reverence for wealth to which they would otherwise be prone. Even a mere blind respect for rank or title exalts the mind immeasurably as compared with mammon-worship.

While on the subject of our leisureclass, which is pretty nearly synonymous with the landed gentry, we must not pass over in silence a subject in connexion with which the outcry against "the drones of the hive" is frequently introduced. We refer to the Game-Laws. The whole question of these laws has been so fully discussed in a recent Number of this maga

zine, that we will not attempt in any way to open that controversy. But they are so commonly coupled with the Laws of Entail as "feudalities," and as interfering with the transmission of land according to "commercial principles," that we could not altogether omit the mention of them. We will at this time only observe, that the denunciation of the Game-Laws is a part of the crusade which Hard-Cash, that arrogant monopolist who bears no brother near his throne, is waging against all other objects of interest or devotion. Let it not be supposed that laws are of minor importance because they relate to the amusements of any portion of the community. They may derive their importance from that circumstance as tending to raise up something which shall cope with the lust of gold. The game-preserving interest is worth maintenance if only as clashing with mammonism.

While the brawlers about "improve ment" and "progress,"are heaping their meaningless abuse upon feudalities, we should be glad to know what they purpose to do with that greatest feudality of all, the Crown? Already there are symptoms of an intention to take that matter in hand. Mr Cobden and some of his Calibans have talked in the House of Commons about curtailing the "barbarous splendour" of the throne. They know nothing and care nothing about the historical association and constitutional truths embodied in the ancient appendages of royalty. How should they? They want

somebody to look after the police, and take care that no one robs their till; that is their idea of government. They want a man (some of them being willing to allow him a small salary, though others think that it does not pay) to preach to the masses, and tell them not to steal, and to be content with their wages; that is their idea of the church. We do not think, however, that the tone of thought prevalent among the Manchester school is destined yet to lead the mind of England. And we are the less inclined to look forward to such a national debasement when we find so enlightened an advocate of free-trade policy as Mr M'Culloch-the advocate of a theory which we hold to be erroneous, but not the selfish and greedy clamourer for the gain of himself and his class-thus coming forward to vindicate the laws which preserve the hereditary character of our aristocracy, which lend so efficient an aid in shielding us from the crushing tread of mammonism, and in preventing "commercial principles" from introducing the ledger and day-book into our manor houses, and the counter into our farmers' parlours. In this view we most heartily thank our author for his noble and energetic contribution to our National Defences at the present time; and as there is a wide field open in connexion with the subject he has so powerfully handled, we cannot take leave of him without expressing a hope that we may before long listen to him again "on the same side."

« 上一頁繼續 »