1902 Encyclopedia > Land

Land




LAND, in the sense in which it will be used in this article, which treats especially of its possession and tenure, includes that portion of the earth of which industry has rendered either the surface or the mineral riches under-neath available for human requirements. It forms thus the storehouse from which nearly all human wealth is drawn, since it nourishes the animals and plants which supply mankind with food and clothing, and yields the stone, the coal, and the metals which make existence possible and progressive. The history of its use is therefore a main element in the history of our race, and the manner of its tenure and employment lies at the root of political and economic science. In the present article it is proposed to sketch in outline the historical development of the ideas relating to land, and briefly to point out the leading prin-ciples which influence its tenure and beneficial employment under present circumstances.

The history of land commences with the division of men Develop-into tribes, for the division of tribes involves distinction of ment of territory. The earliest age, when men lived solely on wild landteu-fruits or on the produce of the chase, may still be pictured ^ce' to us in the habits of the North American Indians, while the _rntal second or pastoral stage is represented in modern times by ti0n. * the life of the Tartars of the Asian steppes. In both these conditions an immense tract of country is absorbed in the support of a small population, but the hardships of existence, aided sometimes by organized systems of child-murder, serve to keep the inhabitants within the limits of subsistence. Under such circumstances each tribe jealously guards its own territory from intrusion by others, but within its range all members of the community have equal and unrestricted rights of use. Among civilized nations the principle still survives. Each modern nation claims a special ownership in the fisheries within a certain distance of its coasts ; but among the inhabitants of these coasts there is a common right to fish in the waters thus reserved. So also each modern state recognizes the shores as far as high water mark, and the estuaries with their harvests of wild fowl, as the common property of its subjects. Even inland game is still not individual property, and in countries where legal rights are so ancient or so modern as in the Channel Islands and the United States of America, the local law is alike liberal in allowing to every one the right of sporting over his neighbour's ground, except in so far as modified by express and recent legislation. Village But the higher races very early discovered an ampler tenure. means of industrial existence than the natural produce of the earth affords. At what period in human history the artificial cultivation of plants was discovered it is impossible to say. We know that it was posterior to the division of the Aryan currents that flowed towards Hindustan and towards Europe, but before the subdivision of the latter; for the words denoting a field, a plough, and some species of grain have a common root in the Greek, the Latin, and the Germanic dialects, but not in the Sanskrit. But so soon as agricul-ture began it involved of necessity an approach to more settled habits. This change in the manner of life would combine with the fuller and more regular supply of food to promote a rapid increase of population. So long, however, as this did not exceed the resources of the territory belong-ing to the tribe, it would not of itself involve any change in j the idea that its use was common to all. A certain portion | of ground would be devoted to tillage, a certain number I of the tribe would be appointed to perform the acts of cultivation, and the produce would be stored in the general barn. We have at the present day examples of such a system in some of the allmends of the Swiss canton of Valais, where a portion of the lands of the village is culti-vated by joint labour, and the produce devoted to joint feasting. But it appears that in general this stage rapidly progressed to one of apportionment of the land in separate and smaller districts. The tribe, augmenting in numbers and perhaps in extent of territory, subdivided itself into villages, and each village exercised a tolerably independent rule over its own district. Within this range it still main-tained a community of the forest and pasture, but the special skill and toil demanded by husbandry in most cases soon led to the appropriation to each family of a portion of the arable land in exclusive property. Still, however, the principle of common right prevailed so far that the village rulers changed every year the lots assigned for culture, so that one year of crop, followed by a relapse into natural growth for a succession of years, was the normal rotation. It is one which modern science cannot condemn, for where space is ample and the use of manure is unknown, there is no sounder method of cultivation. It i is still, according to M. Laveleye, exemplified in the Ardennes region of Belgium. Private It is at this stage that contemporary observers first de-in'hudty scr^e *ae tenure °f 'an<l i" ancient times, and illustrations of its survival in modern periods grow abundant. These will be hereafter pointed out. But except in special circum-stances it is obvious that progress could not stop here. As population increased in each district, the available hunting grounds would diminish, and at the same time the necessity of more extensive and more frequent cultivation of crops would increase. By this process, in the absence of manure, the land would inevitably become less productive. But just as it demanded more labour it would become more definitely appropriated to a single family, for those who laboured most would not willingly give place to those who had been less active. A stage would then be reached in which community of possession would be limited to the pasture lands of the village, and the arable lands would be possessed in permanence by each family. There generally was, indeed, while the territory still sufficed, a recognition of the right of each individual to an allotment from the common land. But at last the period would come in which this could be no longer afforded, and when either the tribe must migrate in a body, or cast off a swarm to seek its fortunes elsewhere, or leave a certain number of its members without the privilege of landed possession, to obtain subsistence in services to the rest, or in trades. When the two former alternatives become impracticable, the third is the inevitable course. Private property in land becomes then established, and we have thenceforward a new system, involving consequences for good and evil which legislation seeks to regulate.
With this general notion of the course of development Histori-
it will now be convenient to trace, in some instances which cal
have most affected the world's progress, the history and the sketcu-
results of the use and appropriation of land. Primi-
In primitive Rome each household formed an absolute tive despotism, of which the father was the despot; households Rome, were united into gentes by derivation from a common ancestor, and the state consisted in a combination of gentes. To each household there was originally assigned a small portion (2 jugera, 1| acres) of land to be held in perpetuity as private property (heredium), and it may be assumed that on the death of a paterfamilias each son would be entitled to a like amount from the common lands of the gens. These common lands formed the main posses-sion of the gentes, and it appears that they were to some degree cultivated in common, as well as used for pasturage. The state, however, also held common lands, partly original, partly derived from cession by each conquered neighbour, and these were let for rent (vectigal) in so far as not parti-tioned out. Cicero {Be Rep., ii. 9, 14) says that Numa was the first who divided the conquered lands into private shares, but it is certain that the example was only partially followed. But by the time of Servius Tullius the original private portion of many households must have been greatly but unequally enlarged, for his new military organization was based on the obligation of service imposed on the free-holders (assidui) as distinguished from the mere labourers and breeders of children {proletarii). The " classes" of the assidui were five, those who possessed 20 jugera (12£ acres), and who were specially denominated classici, and those who possessed respectively 15, 10, 5, and 2| jugera. The first class, or classici, were about the half of the whole number of assidui, the second, third, and fourth classes comprised each about one-eighth of the entire number, and the fifth class was slightly more numerous. The equites formed a separate order, based on the possession of a still larger extent of land. At the same time a register of land was established, in which each owner was required to enter his property, and which was revised every four years, and sales were directed to be made before two witnesses. These arrangements show that even at this epoch the system of separate private property was in full operation, and that the difference of wealth which it engenders had already reached an advanced stage.

The progress of conquest, which at once enlarged the territory, brought in tribute, and furnished slaves, rapidly increased such inequalities. Trade, which followed con-quest, and in which capitalists made large fortunes, tended in the same direction. Very early in Roman legal history we come upon tenancy-at-will, under the name of precarium, which of itself showed that there must have been large estates capable of subdivision. But besides tenants, each extensive landowner had a household of retainers, clients, freedmen, and latterly slaves, who tilled his ground for his personal profit. Thus there would be little demand for free labour, and the petty husbandman, whose small inheritance was inadequate for a growing family, fell necessarily into debt. His land would then be seized under the strict Roman law of bankruptcy, and he himself would sink into slavery, or at best into the already over-crowded class of labourers for insufficient hire. At the same time the conquered lands, which by theory were the property of the state, and to which every citizen had an equal right, were largely portioned out to the existing landowners, who held the chief posts and influence in the government. The revenues drawn from tribute were also farmed out to capitalists, and the taxes on the public were augmented in consequence of the permitted frauds of the collectors. At last came the crisis. The army, no longer representing the wealth of the state, but rather the pro-letariat, mutinied, and from the Mons Sacer menaced the city. It was the commencement of the long struggle of which the successive AGRARIAN LAWS (q.v.) were the land-mark and remedies.

The object of these laws was well illustrated by the Licinian proposal(387A.u.a), nearly one hundred years after the first outbreak of discontent. It enacted that no citizen should hold more than 500 jugera of the public lands, that no one should graze more than one hundred oxen and five hundred sheep on the common lands, and that every land-owner should be obliged to employ a number of free labourers proportioned to that of his slaves. But this, as all other laws proposed on behalf of the people, was coupled with political changes of which the main object was to open up new fields of ambition to' those of the plebeians who were already opulent. When that object was attained, the agrarian remedies were suffered to fall into desuetude. The successful wars waged in the 6th and 7th centuries A.U.C. gave a temporary outlet to labour in the formation of agricultural colonies. But it at the same time immensely increased the number of slaves, who were treated as mere beasts of toil, to be worked out or sold off when no longer profitable. The free population, on the testimony of Cato and Polybius, diminished; the slave population increased, and became in many districts an organized danger to public safety. A century later the Gracchi again endeavoured to restore health to the body politic by a distribution of the state lands among the proletariat. The attempt was stifled in blood, but the necessity of the measure was proved by the fact that a full generation later Caius Julius Cassar carried out the same reform.

The time for remedy was, however, past. The great estates (latifundia) had already been created; they were respected by the reformers, alike popular and imperial; and their inevitable growth swallowed up the small farms of new creation, and ultimately destroyed Rome. For its manhood was gone; the wealth of millionaires could not purchase back honesty or courage; and the defence of mercenaries failed to form any barrier against the wars of hardy northern invaders. Pliny's words " latifundia perdi-dere Italiam " embrace the truth, yet more fully made clear in many a generation after he wrote. Ancient We shall now examine the systems prevalent in the C-W" nations by which the Roman empire was overthrown, many. rpWQ grea(; Roman writers, Caesar and Tacitus, have given us a vivid picture of the German customs showing us the tenure of land in its earliest forms. Caesar (Be Bell. Gall., vi.) says of the Germans of his time :—

" They are not much given to agriculture, hut live chiefly on milk, cheese, and flesh. No one has a fixed quantity of land or boundaries of his property, but the magistrates and chiefs every year assign to the communities and families who live together as much land and in such spots as they think suitable, and require them in the following year to remove to another allotment. Many reasons for this custom are suggested: one is that they should not be led by permanence of residence to renounce the pursuits of war for agriculture, another that the desire of extensive possession should not induce the more powerful to seize the land of the weaker, another that they should not construct their houses with greater care to keep out heat and cold, another that the love of money should not create parties and disputes, and lastly that the mass of the people might remain contented with the justice of an arrangement under which every ona saw his position as comfortable as that of the most powerful. As to the tribes themselves, their chief glory is to have their territory surrounded with as wide a belt as possible of desolated waste. They deem it not only a special mark of valour that every neighbouring tribe should be driven to a distance, and no stranger should dare to reside in their vicinity, but at the same time they view it as a measure of precaution against the risk of sudden attacks."

A hundred years later the description of Tacitus shows that a certain modification of habit had been induced. Bringing together the leading particulars, we find he speaks of Germany as " covered with woods and morasses, the land fairly fertile but unsuited for fruit trees, well adapted for pasture, and carrying numerous herds of small sized polled cattle, in which the chief wealth of the natives consisted." But they seem no longer to have changed their actual dwellings every year, but to have

" Built them with a certain rough solidity, and in villages, though the houses were not contiguous, but each was surrounded by a space of its own. The right of succession by children was recognized, and in default of children brothers and uncles took, but there was no right of making a will. They preferred to acquire property by war rather than by industry. Interest on loans was unknown. The land was apportioned (to villages apparently) according to the num-ber of cultivators, and divided among them according to their rank, there being ample room for all. Every year they changed the arable land, which formed only a portion of the whole, not attempt-ing to make labour vie with the natural fertility and abundance of the soil by planting orchards or setting out gardens and fields, but content with a single crop. Their food consisted chiefly of wild fruits, freshly killed game, and curds; their drink was a liquor pre-pared from barley or wheat, fermented like wine. Their slaves were not kept in the house, but each had a separate dwelling and an allowance of food, and they were treated with humanity, as servants or tenants."

These institutions were then obviously based on the existence of an ample supply of unenclosed and common land. But the natural increase of population, combined with the pressure put on the Germanic tribes from the east by the Slavs, made their territories too small for their ambition, if not for their maintenance, and five or six succeeding centuries were marked in the history of Europe chiefly by successive Germanic conquest and occupation of western and southern territory. The enormous increase of power and possession made it impossible for the original tribal government to survive ; the great generals developed into kings and emperors, and their lieutenants, more or less independent according to individual capacity and distance from the capital, became dukes and counts. Gradually military authority, embracing the old idea of the land being the property of the state, evolved the new notion of feudal-ism. The sovereign represented the state; to him in that capacity land conquered from the enemy, or forfeited by unsuccessful rebellion, became subject; and he granted it to his followers on condition of faithful service in war. They promised to be " his men," and from their own tenants they exacted in turn the like promise on the like conditions. The general insecurity made even free owners willing to buy the support of the sovereign on similar terms. Thus by degrees, less by derivation from the ideas of Roman law, to which it is sometimes attributed, than by the mere necessity of the times, and as a consequence of the incessant state of warfare in which mankind existed, there came to be established the feudal doctrine that all land was held of the sovereign on condition of suit and service, and that each immediate tenant of the sovereign was entitled to sub-infeudate his possession on the same principles. Gradually the further attributes of property were added service in war was commuted into rent, and the peaceful service of tilling the lord's reserved domain. The right of hereditary succession became grafted on the personal grant; the power of sale and devise followed. Local usages still had influence, but it may be said broadly that from about the 10th century private property, subject to feudal conditions, became the principle of the tenure of land in Europe.

There are, however, some nations in which feudalism has struck no root, or at least has not succeeded in seriously modifying the original type of common possession. It will be best to advert to some of them before proceeding further with the history of feudalism in its modern development.

Mi*. The Indian branch of the Aryan stock has preserved with great fidelity the original notion of the possession of land. The village, consisting of detached houses and surrounded with the district belonging to it, forms still a self-regulating community. It is a legal person, to which the state looks for its rights, but which when performing them is free from internal state interference. It holds the forest and pasture ground in common property, allowing their use to each person entitled to the village rights. To each family is further apportioned a measure of arable land, but the stage is in general passed at which this portion is changed in successive years, and it is therefore the hereditary pro-perty of the family. But it is not in strictness subject cither to will, to mortgage, or to sale. It is divisible on the death of the head of the family among his children, any of whom may transfer their shares to another member of the village, but not, except with its leave, to a stranger. These ancient customs have to some extent been modified by the introduction of English law, which, among other things, has subjected the villagers to the grinding exactions of the money-lenders, by giving creditors the security of an English mortgage. It cannot but be regretted that the desire to act justly which has led to the change should have been misled by the idea that whatever institution exists in England is necessarily and everywhere else equally equitable and necessary.

Slavonic In Europe the Slav peoples, the latest arrival of Aryan
peoples.' stock in Europe, have preserved best the ancient charac-teristics of land tenure. Checked in their advance to the south-east, they have formed a narrow borderland in Bulgaria, Servia, Croatia, and Dalmatia, between the Germans on the one side and the Turks on the other. Here, therefore, we have the case of a population growing within a restricted area, under circumstances which pre-vented the development of extensive military sway, and its consequent feudalism. Accordingly we find prevailing a system midway between the ancient communism of the Germanic tribes and the institution of private property. The tribes have become broken up into families. Common lands, except where there is mountain or forest, have been partitioned into the separate ownership of families. But within the families there is still a strong sentiment of community. In the Servian and Bulgarian villages each family household consists of probably several generations, all housed under the same roof or within the same curtilage. The head of the family is judge rather than master; any member of the family may depart, but in so doing he abandons his claim to the family property, a claim, however, which in some cases may revive should he return to the paternal home. All who remain work in common at their appointed duties, and share in common the produce. The family possessions are inalienable; the share of each member is untransferable.

To the north and east the faculty of unlimited emigra-tion to the unoccupied lands of the steppe permitted or enforced the preservation of a still earlier type of common

Russia, property. When the Russian village found its lands in-adequate to its growing population, it threw off a swarm. The emigrants travelled in a compact body till they passed beyond the limits of present cultivation, and then took up their position on such lands as pleased them. For their protection against the aboriginal hunters who still roamed over the plains they built their houses on the uniform plan of an enclosed village, and the same reason concurred with native habit to induce them to maintain the system of common pasturage, and of united cultivation of the land apportioned to cropping. When the central government became strong enough to assert its sway over the scattered settlements, it levied its tax on the tnir, or village community, and the community apportioned the amount per capita among its members. But, as land was ample in extent for all, it gave to each male, from the moment even of birth, a right to a share. When the shares became inadequate a fresh migration took place.

Serfdom took its rise in the prohibition of these migra-tions. Forbidden to depart to new lands, the peasants were compelled to submit to the demands for their labour either of the Government, where it held estates in the neighbourhood of a village, or of nobles to whom grants of land had been made by the czar. Generally they were thus forced to give half their time to labour for their master. But they still continued possessors of their share in the village lands, and entitled to apply the other half of their time to its cultivation.

When emancipation came, their rights were regulated on the same basis. The village was maintained as an industrial and fiscal organization. But each peasant was declared to be entitled to a certain fixed minimum of land for his own property, varying according to the district, but on an average about 12 acres. For this, in so far as being in excess of the village lands it had to be made up from the land of adjoining owners, he is required to pay either services, to the extent of forty days in the year, or rent, at an average rate of about 2s. 4d. per acre. Such provisions can only be temporary. They resemble much those which prevailed in Germany prior to the modern reforms in tenure. They subject the peasant, untaught and unaccustomed to habits of individual energy, to a tax which he is not able to meet, and the suffering and complaints which are the consequence are at present general throughout Russia.
In Switzerland also there has survived a system only Switzw?-slightly altered from that of the original communities. For]an(1-here also conquest with its attendant feudalism was stayed, and freemen and free institutions survived the wreck which war made throughout western Europe. In the forest cantons especially there still exists an essential community of land right. The inhabitants possess separately and by ordinary rules of inheritance certain portions of land. But in several cantons the bulk of the land, both arable, forest, and pastoral, forms the allmend of the state, or of the com-mune,'—the common property, to which every descendant of the original inhabitants has a right. This common land is either partitioned out by lot to each person entitled, or is let for a rent, which is applied to the common benefit, or is made the subject of common labour, and the produce of bread and wine is devoted to common merry-makings. When the arable land is divided among cultivators, the period allowed before repartition is from five to nine years, and it is stated that so strong is the feeling of common interest that the shortness of the time does not interfere with the highest cultivation by each successive occupant. In some districts it furnishes farms of 20 acres to each family, in others it only suffices for allotments of a few perches.
In France the custom of village proprietary survived in Franca, many districts down to the middle of the 17th century. But previous to the middle of the 18th century nearly the whole of the soil had passed into the hands of great land-owners. The tenants and peasants were ground down with heavy exactions, not only in the form of rent, but of state taxation, and in services, or corvées, to be rendered to fche lord or to the state. The artificial life of the nobles at court destroyed all sympathy between them and the

cultivators, and brought them to look on their dependants as little more than beasts of burden, valuable only for the profit that might be made of them. The feeling engendered on the other side broke out in the Eevolution. The country estates, from which the eynigres had fled, were sold in portions, and in many cases bought in fee simple for a trifle by the former tenants of the farms. The law of equal division among children continued the process of sub-division. It proceeds in an augmenting ratio, and though a few large properties still subsist, the bulk of the land in France is now held in small properties. It is not, however, universally cultivated by the owner. There is a large proportion of tenants, holding generally under leases not exceeding nine years; and there is no doubt that the shortness of the term impairs production. Another evil is the mercellement caused by the law of compulsory division on inheritance, but this must not be understood as objected to chiefly on the ground of the small extent of ground held by each proprietor. The real disadvantage complained of by French writers on agriculture is that through successive family divisions each man's total property consists of a number of small plots scattered up and down ; and the remedy desired is not an interference with the present law of succession, but only an enactment to facilitate exchange and consolidation of plots, so as to give to each cultivator his whole property within one boundary.

In France there are now about 2,000,000 properties under 12 acres, and 1,000,000 between 12 and 25 acres, while there are only 150,000 above 100 acres. Of the whole population there are 1,750,000 who cultivate their own land with their own hands, and who are not tenants, 850,000 who cultivate as tenants, and only 57,000 who cultivate by aid of a foreman or steward. Of farm labourers there are only 870,000. Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and great portions of Italy are similarly divided into small holdings cultivated in general by the owner and his family. Modern In Germany, although feudalism was fully developed as Ger- a legal system and as the foundation of the aristocracy, it aaany. ^ no(; guccee(l in extirpating entirely the ancient rights of the people. A large portion of the land was held always as peasant properties, entirely free from any dues of service. Among tnese, in certain districts, there survived an organization essentially identical with that described by Tacitus. The village had its domain or mark, subdivided into the arable, the pasture, and the forest. In some cases the first of these was partitioned into individual and permanent properties, but in all the pasture and forest remained the joint property of the village. Instances, however, were not wanting even in our own days where the arable portion was subject to annual or less frequent repartition, and to apportionment by lot to each cultivator for the time which custom ordained. But even where this usage did not prevail, it was incumbent on all the villagers (as in Russia) to cultivate their several portions of the arable mark with the same crops and at the same seasons, for as soon as the crops were removed the whole community enjoyed a right of pasturage on the stubble. The rotation was, therefore, of the simplest, consisting in general of a triennial succession of wheat or rye as winter-sown grain, followed by oats and barley as spring-sown crop, and then fallow. It differed for the worse from that of the ancient Germans in that the circumscribed limits of each village domain made it now impossible to allow to the whole arable mark a period of rest under pasturage.

But intermixed everywhere with the relics of the free village institutions the tree of feudalism struck its roots, and carried with it a species of serfage. None who were not noble could as a rule purchase land. On the lands of the nobles the tenants were bound to give to their lord a
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portion of their time in gratuitous labour. They held, however, their farms under conditions of permanency, subject to this tax of labour, and to a variety of small and irregular exactions of the nature of rent. On this state of things in Prussia the Stein and Hardenberg reforms took effect. They gave to every peasant the same power as the noble enjoyed to become a landowner. Between the nobles and their tenants they partitioned the land in absolute property, the landlord retaining one-third, the tenant receiving two-thirds. Common rights, and rents, were made purchaseable by the owner of the soil at twenty years' purchase of their estimated value. And laws of 1821 and 1850 sanctioned the division of common lands among all who previously had an interest in them. To aid the peasantry in purchasing up the dues still payable to their former landlords, land credit banks were introduced in 1850. These institutions advanced to the peasant owner the sum necessary for the purchase of the old rights over his property, commuted as they had already been to a definite sum. The advance thus made constituted a first charge on the land, and was represented by debenture bonds for small amounts. The owner might pay to theii credit, at whatever time and in whatever sums he was able, instalments towards their redemption, but he was bound to redeem them fully within fifty years.

These reforms have converted large parts of Germany into the property of small owners residing on and tilling their own land, free from obligation to any other person. There do not seem to be data for judging of the economic result, because statistics do not distinguish between the produce of small properties and that of the large properties intermixed with them. But the most careful observers agree that the social results are similar in Germany to what they are elsewhere. The peasants, attached to their holdings, form the most stable element in the common-wealth. Their love of the land shows itself in the high prices given for it, and, as we shall see elsewhere, in the tendency to borrow in order to purchase more. It can at least be said that, whatever be the hardships of their lot, they would not exchange it for any other.

The tenure of land in Great Britain may be traced with Great sufficient accuracy from the character of the elements of Britain, which the nation is composed. Under the Celtic tribes there can be no doubt that the ideas which we know prevailed among the ancient Irish and among the Scottish clans down to modern times formed the universal rule. The land was the possession of the clan; the chief was the leader but not the owner. The temporary and partial occupation by the Romans may have introduced the notion of absolute private property, and we may assume that it was at least asserted by such of the conquerors as cared to cultivate estates taken from the barbarians. But the with-drawal of the Romans, followed by the Saxon invasion, must have re-established the principle of common village ownership which formed the basis of both Celtic and German tenure. In the later Saxon period, however, there is no doubt that private ownership became gradually more extended. Then the feudal idea began to make progress in England, as it did at the same period on the Continent. It received an immense impulse from the Norman Conquest. William may not have claimed the whole land of England as his own, but the vast tracts which fell into his hands through confiscation of rights of so-called rebels were granted by him in the character of lord to such of the Saxons as he could trust, and to those of his own followers whom he desired to reward. When law began to form a system, the early Norman lawyers took this principle as the basis of their system. Thenceforth it became the un-disputed maxim of English law, as well as of Scottish (with the exception of some isolated remains of "udal"

rights in Orkney), that the sovereign was supreme lord of all the land, and that every one held under him as tenant in England, vassal in Scotland, names which have survived in legal theory and language down to the present day. They expressed then as now the unquestionable legal rule that there is no such thing in our system as an absolute private right of property in land, but that the state alone is vested with that right and concedes to the individual possessor only a strictly defined subordinate right, subject to conditions from time to time enacted by the community.

Within Scotland the feudal system has been preserved in remarkable purity. The majority of the larger estates, as well as many small ones, are still nominally held of the crown, and pay an annual rent, or " feu-duty," along with certain fines on succession or alienation, nor is the title of any heir or vendee complete till he has received the written acknowledgment of the sovereign. But each owner who holds of the sovereign may grant a subordinate estate to be held of himself as "superior" or lord, on such terms as he thinks fit, and the " vassal" thus constituted must in future obtain recognition of his title from his immediate superior, just as if he held directly of the crown. It is only within the last few years that the subordinate vassals thus holding have been allowed the means of commuting the services they had bound themselves to pay to the "subject superior," and of converting themselves into direct vassals of the crown, which forms the nearest approach to private property permitted by the law of Scotland.

In England feudal forms became partially obliterated at an earlier period. In 18 Edward I. parliament had put an end to subinfeudation. The services due by the crown's tenants were by a statute of Charles IL reduced to a form which left them merely nominal. But at a very remote period there had sprung up a tenure which in many respects was equivalent to feudal tenure. The serfs who cultivated the lord's lands, although at first subject to his absolute pleasure, yet, being left undisturbed for a consider-able series of years, fell under the doctrine of English jurisprudence which recognizes custom as having the force of law. They gained thus a right of occupation in per-manence, paying only such rents or services as were entered in the copy of the rolls of the manorial court, from which their tenure came to be designated copyholds. By degrees they obtained manumission from servitude, aud with it the right of alienating or bequeathing the land they thus held. There were therefore two principal classes of property in England, freeholds, holding in general directly of the crown, and copyholds, holding of a lord of the manor, but both with indefeasible title subject to trifling services ascertained by custom or by statute. It would seem that in these two forms a very large number of those whom we now should call yeomen or peasant proprietors were estab-lished throughout the country. But in addition to these there were on the large estates a great number of those whom we should now properly call tenants-at-will, renting lands of the lord, and not established for a sufficient length of time to have acquired the status of copyholders.

About the middle of the 14th century English wool was found to be peculiarly well adapted to the use of the weavers of the Low Countries, and brought a high price. This led the owners of the large estates to substitute pasturage for tillage, and by consequence many of the cultivating tenants-at-will were evicted. Hence arose complaints precisely similar in motive and language to those which in our own times have been excited by the clearings in Ireland and the Highlands for the purpose of substituting sheep farming in place of husbandry by cottars and crofters. During the 15 th century, probably for the same reason, the extensive wastes which covered a large part of England began to be enclosed, to the consequent disturbance of a number of squatters (called at the time " champions," from champs) who had settled on them, and derived a not very sufficient subsistence from feeding a few animals on the commons. It is noticeable that both Fitzherbert and Tusser, the earliest English agricultural writers, and the latter himself one of the people, commend the enclosures, on the ground that the land so reduced to separate ownership produced much more than it had done as commons. But these causes, combining with the breaking up of the monasteries, and the absorption of church lands into the estates of the adjoining landowners, gave rise to much disorder and misery. Parliament attempted to deal with the causes and effects by enactments directed by turns against the high rate of wages, against the destruction of farm houses and cottages, and against the idle or unemployed tramps who roamed over the country. It was a period of disloca-tion of social relations, of which we are not now in a position to judge accurately. But undoubtedly the ulti-mate result was a considerable increase in the magnitude of the larger estates and farms, gained by a proportionate decrease in the number of both of smaller size. It is from this period that we must date the diminution of the class of yeomen which has been the theme of lamentation with economists and historians down to our own times.





Contemporaneously with these changes the law was receiving those adjustments which tended to preserve the large estates undiminished in the possession of their here-ditary owners. Entails were sanctioned by statute (De donis, 13 Edw. I.), but broken down some two centuries later by the ingenious judicial devices of fines and recoveries. Trusts were invented by the churchmen, but attacked by parliament, only to be re-established under the technical name of trusts upon uses. Lastly, estates for life were invented; and, being skilfully combined with so much of the principle of entails as the courts had sanctioned, they have formed the still existing method by which family estates are preserved from dispersion. The rule of law is that all persons living at the date of a settlement may be restricted to mere estates for their own lives, instead of taking the fee simple with full right of alienation. In this way each son when he succeeds finds himself merely a tenant for life, and as such possessed of no power to pre-vent his own son from becoming owner in fee simple when he in turn shall succeed. But a father so situated is little inclined to leave to his son powers of which he himself is deprived, while his son is generally willing to barter his future liberty for a present liberal allowance. Thus father and son strike a bargain; the father buys the son's surrender of his future right, and the son, for a price, agrees to sub-mit himself to the restraints of being merely tenant for life when his father shall die. The process repeated from generation to generation has re-established in practice the system of entails which the courts had abrogated as con-trary to public policy, and which every writer from Bacon downwards has denounced as hurtful to the nation.

Similar rules prevailed in Scotland. But, as entails were there of later introduction, so they were much more strict, and from 1680 to 1848 land might be settled in an end-less succession of inconvertible life estates. In the latter year an Act was passed which, with a good deal of com-plication, substantially limits the right of creating life estates to one generation as in England. In 1875 another Act introduced the useful principle that the owner of a life estate might in certain circumstances buy up and extinguish some of the contingent interests in succession to his own at their present value, ascertained by computa-tion based on the expectation of life.

The system of entails, or of creation of estates for life only, which has thus prevailed for several centuries in the

United Kingdom, is sufficient to account for the fact that the large estates have continually augmented, in size and number, by the corresponding absorption of the small pro-perties of yeomen. These small properties are seldom sub-jected to strict settlement, The owners occasionally fall into difficulties, and then their land is sold to pay their debts. They are frequently moved by natural affection either to divide their estates among children, or to subject them to charges for children other than the heir, and this also tends to bring them into the market for sale. But the large adjoining properties, the owners of which have been induced by family pride to limit their right to mere life interests, are not liable to be sold for debt. The immediate possessor may be crippled during his life, but his heir will succeed to the estate free from incumbrance by any prior possessor. In the same way the powers of each successive owner to charge the estate for younger children, and the liability to sale for payment of such charges, is restricted within narrow limits. These properties therefore continue undiminished ; and, when a small adjoining freehold comes into the market, it is seldom that the owner of the larger estate cannot find the money to effect its purchase. Once obtained, it is included in the next settlement of the larger estate, and thus permanently withdrawn from the operation of natural processes of disintegration. On the whole, it follows that large estates tend to grow, and in precisely the game proportion small ones tend to disappear.

It may be further observed that this tendency is materi-ally aided by an absurdly bad and expensive conveyancing system, and by the law of mortgage. The costs of transfer of land are so enormous in England that they form a very large percentage on the price of small properties, and pre-clude any one from purchasing them with the motive of making a living upon them. So also the insecurity of title, which is greatest on the smaller properties, because they have been dealt with less carefully, compels any owner who needs an advance to pay usurious interest, by which his ruin is speedily effected, and the property brought to sale. On the other hand a large property changes hands at less comparative expense, and the necessity of a sale to meet temporary difficulties is at less cost obviated by mortgage, which permits the owner to hold on till some windfall of legacy or marriage once more reinstates him in easy circumstances, and enables him to take advantage of his poorer neighbour's necessities. This does not mean that he cheats the small proprietor in the bargain. On the contrary, the desire of the rich to augment their estates induces them to give more than the real worth for the smaller properties. But this concurrence of circumstances tends steadily in the direction of increasing large estates and diminishing from age to age those that are small. The practical result is easily shown by a few figures. The cultivated land of the United Kingdom (including parks and permanent pastures, but not mountain or waste) amounted in 1880 to 47,515,747 acres. The total acreage is 77,635,301 acres. By the Domesday Book of 1875 it appeared that one-fourth of the total acreage (excluding plots under 1 acre) is held by 1200 owners, at an average for each of 16,200 acres; another fourth by G200 persons, at an average of 3150 acres; another fourth is held by 50,770 persons, averaging 380 acres each ; and the remain-ing fourth by 261,830 persons, averaging 70 acres each (Caird). Peers, in number about six hundred, hold rather more than one-fifth of all the land in the kingdom. Thus one-half of the whole territory is in the hands of only 7400 individuals; the other half is divided among 312,500 individuals. The total population of the United Kingdom (not including Channel Islands and Isle of Man) in 1881 was 35,100,000, so that barely one in a hundred owns more than an acre of soil.

Of tenant farmers there are in Great Britain 561,000, in Ireland 600,000. About 400,000 of those in Great Britain, but above 500,000 of those in Ireland, occupy less than 15 acres of cultivated soil, the average size of the remaining holdings being in Great Britain about 160 acres, in Ireland 75 acres.

In the countries which have been colonized from England British the system of small properties rather than large has been colonies, generally adopted. The first settlers in New England carried with them the idea of the village community. They decreed that grants of land should be made to each house-holder to the extent of 20 acres, but the rest of the land apportioned to each village was to be held in common. This system has been now expanded into the homestead United law (see HOMESTEAD), prevailing over the whole United States. States, in virtue of which a citizen of the States is entitled to a free grant of 160 acres (_£ square mile) on condition of bringing it into cultivation within five years. The influ-ence of slavery in the Southern States tended, as in Borne, to create large estates, but its abolition has arrested this course. On the whole, with exception of a very few gigantic farms in the extreme west, it may be said that both the United States and Canada are countries of small farms, seldom exceeding 150 to 300 acres, and almost universally cultivated by the owner. The pastoral lands of Australia and New Zealand are still held in " runs " of immense extent, but whenever cultivation makes way there is a growing movement in the direction of opening them up to purchase in small farms.

The above sketch, imperfect as the limits of space have Leading compelled it to be, of the history of land tenure throughout Prm-the world shows that it has pursued one unvarying course. ^gts¡n„ Commencing in community of tribal possession, land has Jan(1 everywhere by degrees been appropriated to the villagers, tenure, to the family, and at last to the individual. But in every stage the conditions of its enjoyment and use have been absolutely regulated by the community in reference to the general welfare. A history so uniform would seem to rest on principles of human nature, and to be incapable of reversal. Nevertheless in the present age two opposite parties have impugned its lessons. The one would revert to the almost prehistoric times when community of pro-perty, of labour, and of wealth formed the rule of existence. The other speaks of individual property, especially in land, as a sacred and indefeasible principle, and denounces every restraint or modification introduced by the state as spolia-tion. Between these extremes an infinite variety of ideas for more or less making land or its produce public property, or more or less restricting the right of the personal owner, have been put forward, and are, with some confusion, strenuously advocated. A brief attempt will now be made to discriminate between what in these ideas is sound and what is impracticable.

The principles of communism have unquestionably struck Com-deep root in the minds of large classes of the public, chiefly munistie in Germany, but to no inconsiderable extent in other Pnnc,r'e-countries and even in England. Nor can they be dismissed as merely criminal and worthy of no answer but repression. The answer must rather be that they are based on hopes and beliefs in the capability of human nature for self-sacrifice, which we have no warrant in yet accepting as our practical guide. A golden age may yet return, in which all shall be for the country and no one for himself, and we may even imagine that each successive age shows its nearer approach. But at least it has as yet not come. In every community there are found a large number of individuals who would not work honestly except under the compulsion of self-interest or of close superintendence. No socialistic scheme has yet been devised which copes with this tendency.

In all of them a vast hierarchy of official inspectorship would be demanded, which, even if adequate, would eat up the profits. In all of them red-tapeism of regulation would forbid the progress derived from freedom to experiment. For the case of the culture of land, an art involving such variety of method applied to such variety of circumstance, it seems, as yet, impossible to conceive arrangements by which joint possession could result in beneficial production. We know it even among families to be at present a hindrance and source of loss. Nor has any definite scheme been yet proposed by socialists to show how it could be worked by the state. Till its advocates at least do this, and permit us to judge as men of business of the practical effect of their system in a given area and with given machinery, it were waste of time to discuss their aspirations and their imaginary results. Doctrine Those who, at the opposite pole, refuse to admit the of supre- right of the state to impose such conditions on private macy of pr0perty ag it dee£CS for the general benefit may be rights, dismissed even more briefly. Not only do they show entire ignorance of the history of land tenure at all times, but they belie the daily action of British legis-lation. Parliament seldom lets a session pass without making laws which assert the right of the state to take possession of property for public or private benefit, to tax it, and to restrain or regulate the rights of its owners over it. Nor is there any theory of the basis of property which does not tacitly admit that it is subject to the authority of the community. If derived from occupation, it owes its title to the agreement of the community to support that title. If derived from labour, it is valid only for the life of the labourer, and whoever succeeds to him must take it, not as a gift from a dead man whose rights end with the grave, but as a gift from the state, which deems that there is advantage in encouraging labour by the certainty of transmitting its produce. In every view it must be admitted that the state, by whose regulations and force property is maintained, must have an unqualified right to prescribe the conditions under which it will confer its gifts on private individuals.

The general object of supporting private property in land is to increase its produce, by inducing the owner, through motives of self-interest and affection for his family, to bestow on it the greatest amount of labour. It is agreed by all practical authorities that the soil of Great Britain might be rendered greatly more productive by the increased expenditure of capital, which when explained means in one shape or other the larger employment of labour, both in effecting permanent improvements and in conducting the arts of cultivation. The interest of the public in strengthen-ing the motives which may lead to such additional pro-duction is unquestionable. The soil is the support of the nation, furnishing to it primarily both its subsistence, its clothing, its fuel, and the raw materials of its trade with other countries. Some indeed argue that freedom of trade with other countries, permitting unrestricted import of all these articles, has rendered the profitable use of the soil at home comparatively unimportant. But this is inaccurate for several reasons. First, importation involves at all events the expense of all that labour which is devoted to the carrying trade. Secondly, it involves dependence on other nations for other articles than food, to an extent which may easily become fatal. If, for instance, agriculture in England were to employ less labour, because it was more profitable to import wheat for subsistence and cotton on which to employ labourers, there is not only the risk, sufficiently grave, that both may be stopped by war, but the ever present probability that manufacturing industry may be displaced by competition from countries where its raw material can be obtained without the cost of carriage, and where in some cases labour may, owing to climate or a lower standard of living, be cheaper. Such a rivalry is already visible in America, in India, and in Bussia. If through these causes the manufactures should decay, and the artisans be driven to emigrate, certainly the depopulated fields of Great Britain would be unable to maintain her in her present rank among nations.

An entirely opposite school has, however, stated aLaw of principle, which, though not applied by it to the question ^s™^" of the tenure of land, would if true be hostile to the appli- pro(iuC. cation of further capital to the soil. Political economists tion. (see, e.g., Mill, bk. i. chap, xii.) have asserted that every successive application of capital to cultivation must be less / profitable than the first. This is called the " law of diminishing production from land," and it has been said to be "the most important proposition in political economy." But the fact is that it is true only if the qualification be added "in the existing state of knowledge." That is to say, it is true that, if a given amount of labour applied in raising wheat, for example, will raise 16 bushels on an ordinary soil, twice the amount of labour will not, per se, raise 32 bushels on the same soil, or even 16 bushels on a very inferior soil. But chemistry and experiment tell us that if, instead of spending the second quantity of labour in merely ploughing twice instead of once, we spend it in purchasing and applying nitrogen, phosphoric acid, and potash in proper proportions to the soil, either directly as artificial manures, or still more cheaply as manure from animals whose food has contained these elements, we do get a return considerably more than double for the double amount of labour which the application involves. This is exemplified in the fact that rents rose about 20 per cent, in England when these appliances came into use, in spite of a stationary range of prices, showing that the additional capital thus devoted to agriculture gave a higher return than the capital that had been previously employed.

A further illustration may be found in the fact that the capital that has been expended by the Improvement Companies in England, under the supervision of the Inclosure Commissioners, has yielded on an average a return of 15 per cent, of increased rental on the expendi-ture, over and above the profit made by the tenant farmer (Caird). Since this average includes a few cases in which defective knowledge has led to loss, it is evident that, when capital is applied to agriculture with reasonable scientific knowledge and skill, it is capable of still yielding returns at a full average rate, even after payment of the salaries earned by the scientific and practical education which has directed its employment. Nor is there any reason to believe that the process has come, or nearly come, to an end. It certainly does not follow that soil is capable of unlimited production; for it is quite certain that its powers in this respect are sharply defined by the amount of light and heat which in any given situation the plants growing on it can receive. But it is becoming daily more probable that up to that limit advancing science and practical skill will tend to equalize the cost of production, making the application of labour to inferior soils as profitable as to superior, and making capital as productive when approach-ing the limit of its useful application as when it is, in the form of rude labour, applied to soils newly brought under cultivation.





But, on the other hand, the doctrine that the land can Nation-be made more productive by the application of more capital, alization and that the state has a strong interest in increasing pro-of land" duction, is fatal to all that variety of proposals which have been made for what is called, in rather uncouth and exceed-ingly vague phrase, "nationalization of the land." All of these start with the suggestion that the land of the country, being the property of the community, should be resumed
by it for a new arrangement or distribution. In some schemes it is proposed that the state shall buy out the present owners, paying them the full value of the fee simple ; in others it is proposed that the state shall simply resume the land on the death of the present owners, with-out paying any compensation to their heirs. Conceding the abstract justice of both propositions, it admits of little doubt that they would not be for the public benefit. Under the first the state would make a very bad bargain. Land, on account of its attractions as a subject of private property, brings a market price nearly 30 per cent, above its actual value. It sells usually at a rate computed to yield a clear return of not more than 3 per cent. But in order to bring this return the owner is obliged to lay out, in maintenance of buildings, drains, roads, fences, and other iucidents, sums which on an average are not much less than a third of the net produce. If then the state is to buy at the rate of 3 per cent, what actually yields only 2 per cent., it is clear that the public will be a loser on the transaction. On the other hand, if the state is to take possession of land on the death of the present owners, either without compensation or with a compensation less than the market value, the result would be at once to stop all further improvement by the actual possessors. No one would spend money on that which was to pass, not to his own heirs, but to the public, and the land when it reverted to the state would be in a condition requiring enormous out-lay to restore its exhausted fertility, and to remedy the general decay into which its appliances would have been suffered to falL If again it be urged that the state might obviate this evil by offering compensation for the actual value of improvements which might be made, it can only be answered that private landlords and tenants have not yet found a method of satisfactorily ascertaining such value; that even when the principle is accepted tenants frequently prefer, when certain of not obtaining a renewal of their lease, to exhaust the land rather than trust to arbitration giving them an equivalent; and that this tendency would be enhanced when the state became the landlord and the valuers were appointed by it.

Supposing, however, the operation to be accomplished, and the state to have become the universal landowner, the next question is, What it is to do with the land 1 On this there is a still greater variety of sugges-tion. Some would have the land let by the state on lease merely, and would apply the rental to extinguish taxation. Others would have the state to sell in fee simple. But in both cases there arises the further question, To whom shall the advantage of a lease or a sale be given ? Here there breaks out the dispute between the advocates of large and. small estates and of large and small farms. Some would offer the priority of choice to the existing tenants ; but, as this would result in the creation of a large proportion of estates or farms extending to hundreds or even thousands of acres, its superiority over the present system can only be considered as partial. Others would break up the whole land of the country into peasant properties, and even go so far as to furnish each with a house. But, con-sidering that this scheme would further involve the abandonment of most of the existing farm houses and farm buildings, which would be quite useless to peasant pro-prietors, it would impose a heavy financial loss on the nation.

It must be further kept in view that there are only 47 millions of cultivable acres to be divided among 35 millions of persons, and that the acres are of every conceivable difference of value, dependent not merely on soil but on situation, climate, cropping, capability for improvement, and a thousand other circumstances. To divide these into plots of equal value would be a task of enormous expense, and perhaps scarcely possible to be accomplished. But, if the plots are to be of larger size and unequal value, it must be again asked, How is the state to be guided in selecting the individuals to whom its special favours are to be given 1 And if it be said that the state would exact a rent propor-tioned to the value, and thus confer no favour, there would then arise the further question whether the rent is to be fixed in perpetuity, which means a gift to the lessees of all capability of improvement in the land, or whether it is to be adjustable by valuation at intervals, which merely leaves the lessees in the same position as the present lessees are. In the latter case nothing would be gained except that some would be dispossessed in order that others might be put in possession.

It is, however, insisted that in any case the state would have the advantage of drawing the rental of the land, and it is argued that this would do no wrong to the lessees, because it would be only the rental derived from the original value of the soil, and would not affect their profits from the capital and labour they employ on it. This principle, if sound, might, however, be applied with equal force to every other species of material wealth. The state would be quite as fully entitled to acquire, by purchase or by annexation on death of the owner, factories and consols, as it is to acquire land for which it has suffered the former owner to pay a price. But there is a greater disadvantage in the state becoming the universal landlord. A farm is dependent not only on the soil but on the seasons and the markets, and its profits cannot be guaranteed. A rent for the use of the mere soil may be fair on an average of years, but occasionally there comes a series of years in which no rent at all can be paid without bankruptcy of the tenant. Private landlords can and do meet these bad times by con-cession and agreement, but the state can only act by laws, and in justice to the community it must be hard to its debtors. It is in fact the system which has been tried to be carried out in India, with a considerable variety of method, but with uniformity of failure,—a failure to be attributed mainly to the fact that state taxation, necessarily inelastic, is disastrous when applied to income so fluctuating as that from land must be. In fact a tenant, paying full value for the unimproved land to the state, would be in precisely the position occupied at present by an owner who is mortgaged up to the ears ; and, since the rent is to be in perpetuity also, he would be unable ever to redeem himself from the burden. An occupant so situated is the most unhappy of men, and the worst of cultivators, and that the state should hold the mortgage over him would only make his position the harder.

These considerations apply also to the recommendations The un-which have been made that the land tax should be increased earned and that the " unearned increment in the value of land"ln°™" should be appropriated by the state. Including tithe and local rates, land is taxed at present to an average of about 30 per cent, on its net profits. An additional tax on land would operate to prevent investment of capital on its improvement, since capital will not be invested where its returns are below the average. The " unearned increment in value of land " is often strikingly apparent in and near towns; but it does not exist in the bulk of agricultural districts. Corn has not risen in price within the last hundred years, and, if meat has, so has the cost of raising and importing the food of cattle. The rise in the value of agricultural land generally is not on the whole more than a fair return for the capital that has been invested in improvements, and for the immense sums that have been lost in the experiments out of which the improvements have sprung. The cases in which it is more than this would be incapable of being discriminated, and would not be worth the trouble if it were possible. The idea would probably not have been started had it not been for the spectacle of the enormous fortunes accruing to those who have had the good luck to inherit or to purchase land useful for building purposes. If limited to such cases, the principle of the right of the community to resume the benefit arising from its own concentration in particular spots may be supported by different and very good reasons, due regard being had to the reimbursement to the private owner of all sums actually expended by him in purchase or building. Mineral The right of the public to mineral wealth under the soil wealth, stands on as clear a footing. By the common law gold and silver mines belong to the crown, no matter who is the owner of the soil. The principle obviously applies equally to all minerals. They are a part of the country itself, not merely material from which profit can be extracted, and when they are gone they cannot be replaced. As the law forbids the selling of land to foreigners, it might with equal justice forbid the selling of coal for foreign exporta-tion. The discovery of valuable minerals is often due to mere accident, and they resemble treasure-trove, which by law belongs to the crown. Nor would difficulty arise in working mines by crown lessees or under crown superin-tendence, Where they already are worked it would be right to pay the estimated value to the private owner, since hitherto they have been deemed subject of private property, but all future increase or all new discoveries might justly be held to belong to the nation, without compensation to the owner of the surface who had no knowledge of their existence.

Regula- Approaching now the question how the state without tion of actual resumption of the land may so regulate its possession distribu- as to encourage the maximum production from it, we are in land°f *Qe beginning met with the dispute between the advocates of large and small estates, the former cultivated by tenants, the latter by the owners. But we may first disembarrass this question from one source of confusion. Large estates are never cultivated in a block. They are invariably broken up into farms, sometimes indeed extend-ing to several thousand acres, but far more generally ranging between the limits of 500 and 50 acres. Below 100 acres the tenant is usually himself the cultivator, with more or less assistance, and below 50 acres he will seldom require any assistance outside his own family. Now, as there is no advantage accruing from one landlord holding a number of such farms, we may state the question as regards cultivation as not being between large and small estates, but as being between farms of which the tenant does the work and those in which he only superintends the work of others.

Advan- Thus stated, the answer admits of no dispute. It has tages of been already discussed in the article AGRICULTURE ; but it farms ma7 sumce *° advert here to the conclusive argument derived from the superior efficacy and therefore cheapness and productiveness of the labour given by a man in working entirely for his own behoof, as compared with that which he pays others to do for him. It would scarcely be too much to say that capital in the form of personal labour will yield twice the return of capital employed in hired labour. It applies not merely to the man but to his wife, sons, and daughters, and not only to the actual amount of work done, but to the zeal and care with which it is directed.
Against this advantage on the part of the small cultivator there is only to be set in favour of the large that he can better employ machinery. But, though he maybe the first, he is not necessarily the only one to employ machinery. Reaping and mowing machines may be (and often are) employed on the smallest holdings; threshing machines are now made to be worked by hand or by one or two horses; even steam-engines are made with power down to one horse or half a horse. These very small machines are slightly more wasteful of coal for the power they give out; but on a small scale this is quite inappreciable, and is far more than balanced by the greater eco.romy induced by their being driven by the owner himself. A very elementary resort to combination among small cultivators affords them in any case the same advantages as the large cultivator. Their energy and aptitude are not less, and with the advance of education may be directed with the same knowledge. Most persons connected with land know of many instances in which even at present the small cultivator is as advanced in his scientific practice as the larger. It is generally admitted that during the recent disastrous seasons the smaller farmers have been better able to meet their engagements than the larger. The reason is, not merely that their outlay is smaller in cost of labour, but that by close attention and the power of availing themselves of every opportunity they have suffered less actual loss than the farmer on a more extensive scale.

It is of course understood that, to enable a farmer of a small acreage to produce the same result as a larger holder, he must have the same advantages provided to him by investment of owner's capital. He needs the same buildings for farm purposes, the same drains and fences, in proportion to his extent of farm. But he does not need more ; and, as his own house is only an equivalent for the labourer's cottage, which must in any case be provided, there is the saving of the more expensive residence which a farmer cultivating several hundred acres thinks himself entitled to. Again, the tenant's capital invested must also be as much in the one case as in the other. The small tenant ought to have as much and as good stock on the farm in proportion to its extent as the large. But he saves much capital in the item of wages, because, till profits come in, his own labour costs him only his own food, and even the rent of his house is postponed, so that it is probable that he will be able to spend on the land a capital larger in proportion than the extensive farmer at a greatly less actual outlay of money Those who argue that the capital invested by the larger tenants is greater than that invested by the small cultivator forget that capital in agriculture must be measured not solely by expenditure of money but in a great measure by expenditure of labour to which a whole family may cheaply but effectively contribute.

The importance of encouraging investment of capital joint forms perhaps the main argument in favour of the system interests of cultivation by the joint interests of landlord and tenant. of land" In this combination the landlord furnishes the land and j^u^lcl (in Scotland always, in England frequently) the buildings, <fec. The tenant's capital is therefore limited in its applica-tion to operations of tillage and manuring. The landlord's contribution is commonly estimated at five-sixths, the tenant's at one-sixth of the total capital employed, and while the landlord's yields less than 3 per cent, interest, the tenant's has, by Mr Caird, been estimated as bringing in 10 per cent, per annum. This, however, on an average of years and of farmers is probably too high an estimate. The conclu-sion, however, is drawn that the system is beneficial to the farmer because the capital required for permanent invest-ment is advanced by the landlord at a low rate of interest, while the whole of the tenant's capital is invested at a high rate of interest. But in this argument it seems to be for-gotten that the tenant's 10 per cent, includes not merely interest on capital subject to risk, but salary for time and skill, and is, therefore, not really 10 per cent, on capital. Now, undoubtedly, if any one desires to risk his whole capital in trade, he is entitled to at least 10 per cent, on it, and he makes, while prosperous, a large income. But if he prefers to invest five-sixths of it in a secure invest-ment, yielding only 3 per cent., and to risk only one-sixth, while at the same time giving his personal labour and skill, his income may be considerably smaller, but it will be to the same extent the more secure. It is entirely a question for each person to solve for himself, and it would be no national loss if a certain number of farmers were to elect to purchase farms of only one-sixth the extent of those which they occupy as tenants, and to cultivate them with their own labour. Or, if the present tenants should be reluctant to exchange their higher incomes, subject to the greater risk, for smaller but more secure incomes, it cannot be said that there is any national gain in their occupying land which in the hands of small owners would yield crops as large and at no greater cost, though with a different distribution of profits.

What is true in the argument appears to be this. It would be a distinct loss to the nation if landlords were to withdraw their capital from the land before other persons are prepared to put as much in. At present tenants in general cannot put in more capital, because they have not got more. They could not, there-fore, buy their present farms. But they could buy farms of smaller extent, and on these raise crops fully as good. And if there were enough of other persons prepared to buy the remainder of the land, and to cultivate it themselves with equal skill, there would be equal advantage in their doing so. But, since skill in farming needs both education and practice, there are not enough of persons as yet possessed of these qualifications and also of the needful capital. Hence any sudden break in the present system of tenure by landlord and tenant would be hurtful to the country, leading to abstraction of capital, and worse culti-Owners vation and less produce. But a gradual process of change, should permitting all persons who had capital (however small) and be culti- aptitude, to become owners and cultivators, would be a national benefit, since it would not diminish the capital employed, but would render it on the contrary more pro-ductive through the stimulus of being applied wholly for the benefit of the cultivator himself.

There is no doubt that the system of division of capital and rights between landlord and tenant is intrinsically bad. Neither is full owner, nor can do even with his own share exactly what is best for himself and the public. The landlord is generally short of means with which to make permanent improvements; in any case he can make none without the tenant's sanction, and of course he makes none unless the tenant agrees to pay him at least 3 but more often 5 per cent. The tenant, on the other hand, having only a temporary interest, spends nothing except when he sees a certainty of being repaid before the end of his term. Land, however, yields only slow returns, and much is thus left undone because the full profit cannot be reaped till after a lapse of years. The system of leases, universal in Scotland, palliates but does not remedy the mischief. It is recognized that the tenancy, usually of nineteen years, is in practice divided into three equal portions. The first is spent in restoring the exhaustiou of the soil by the preced-ing tenant, the second gives a full profit, the third is (if no renewal of lease be expected) devoted to the gradual with-drawal of capital, with corresponding reduction of fertility. Compensation for unexhausted outlay is an excellent prin-ciple ; but it has not yet been found so trustworthy in application as to afford sufficient security to induce the continuous application of capital till the end of the lease. It is very doubtful whether any form of legislative inter-ference, passing beyond a mere enactment of equitable presumptions in absence of express contract, would improve the relation between the two parties, because such enact-ments when not agreeable to both parties can always be indirectly broken through. It is only cultivation by the actual owners that gives at once the freedom and security necessary for full development of the capacity of the land and the adoption of the results of modern science.

The history of land tenure in Ireland illustrates these Illustra-principles, and they in turn afford a standard by which to tiohfrom judge recent legislation. Leaving out of view a certain Ireland-number of estates on which the landlord supplied, in addition to the land, the capital represented by build-ings, drains, &c, in the greater part of Ireland he sup-plied nothing. The tenant, under a general custom of permanence of holding, in many cases did a great deal; but, as the custom was not enforced by law, the occasional seizure of his improvements caused a sentiment of alarm and distrust which seriously limited them. The Act of 1870 aimed at giving him additional security by not merely recognizing his right to compensation for his own outlay if he should be removed, but by imposing a fine on the landlord if he should evict a tenant. But, as it avoided to prohibit the landlord from raising the rent, the insecurity was just as great as before, while the introduction of a legal relation between the two parties led many landlords to restrict more than ever their expenditure on improve-ments. The Act of 1881, therefore, proceeded to the necessary consequence of fixing the rent, by means of a court of valuation, and of giving to the tenant a positive right to permanent occupancy, subject to a revaluation every fifteen years. But it is obvious that this scheme also, though valuable as an immediate palliative, fails to have the elements of a permanent settlement. The landlord will be less and less inclined to spend on improvements; and even if he desired to do so the tenant can, and in nearly every case will, prevent him, for the plain reason that he will not desire the landlord's share in the joint property to be increased. Yet the tenant will on his part be impeded from full confidence in making improvements, even when he has the means, lest at the next valuation hi3 own outlay may be valued against him. The interests are no longer joint but conflicting. Thus far the remedial legislation has only succeeded in reaching the stage in which Prussia stood before the reforms of Stein and Hardenberg were proposed, when nobles and serfs had both certain legal rights, which neither could attack, but which neither could convert into independent property. But the Prussian method of reform by apportioning the land to each party in absolute property, but in fractions representing their respective interests, could not be applied in Ireland, both because the holdings are in general too small to bear partition, and because the landlords have not, as in Prussia, been in the habit of cultivating their own domain, and they would, therefore, again introduce the vicious system of letting to tenants even that part which might be assigned to them in unencumbered fee. The state will, therefore, have to become the intermediary of transfer, but the better course would probably have been that it should at the first have assumed this function on the over-rented and ill-managed estates, leaving those which were fairly rented and liberally managed unaffected by legislation which they did not need.

The legal basis of the recent land legislation in Ireland is, however, as it was in Prussia, the recognition that pre-scriptive possession, even under a title of mere tenancy, confers a right to continuance of such possession. The same principle formed the basis of the conversion of copy-holds in England from being tenancies at will into ten-ancies in perpetuity. It might justly be applied still in cases in Great Britain in which tenancies have continued without change for a long period. Especially it might be applied to check the system of " clearances " in the High-lands, where the right of the crofters to continue in pos-session rests on the original community of possession by the tribe, and is fortified by an almost immemorial con-tinuance of possession by each family.

Mort- In any view of ownership, however, whether on a large gages or small scale, it is obviously of prime importance that the ttonable owner should be possessed of cash sufficient to make the ' improvements required. This is a situation in which an owner who is already in debt cannot possibly be. To hold land subject to a mortgage is, therefore, to hold it under conditions disadvantageous to the owner, the tenant, and the nation. The evil is intensified by the fact that an owner so burdened possesses an apparent estate far in excess of his real means, and occupies a social station involving an expenditure that exhausts his resources in every way. It would be greatly for his pecuniary advantage if the law were such as would compel him to sell sufficient land to pay off his debts, for he would thus relieve himself of interest at the rate of 4 to 5 per cent, by selling property which gives only 2 or 2J per cent, on the price that would be obtained. His net income would then not only be greater, but as his apparent estate would be smaller he would not be tempted to live in so expensive a style, and he would thus have the means of gaining larger returns from his property by improving it. It has, there-fore, been proposed to abolish mortgages by prohibiting land from being made security for special debts. It would then form part of the general assets of the owner, liable equally for all his debts; and any one who desired to raise money would practically be obliged to dn it by sale instead of by pledge. Land would be confined to its proper purpose as a means of production, instead of being injured for that purpose by being used as a means of credit. Life in- The same principle forbids that life interests in land terests should be permitted. The mere tenant for life or holder tlnable un(^er settlement or entail has actually in frequent ' instances a motive against cultivating his estate to the best advantage. If he is not on good terms with the next in succession, or if, as so often happens, the next successor is a distant relative, while the present teuant has only daughters, his motive, and often indeed his duty, must be to impoverish the estate in order to save money for those whom he loves best. In a less degree, if he has a large family, he must save money out of the rents of the estate to provide for his younger children, and he is correspond-ingly disinclined to lay out money on improvements which must accrue only to the benefit of his eldest son.

All these considerations are equally applicable to small as to large estates in land. It is as injurious to the peasant cultivator as to the extensive landowner to be hampered by a burden of debt, or to be deprived of the power of directing who shall be his successor. In France, in Germany, in Switzerland, in America, and in India, indebtedness is the great curse of the small farmer. The money-lender is a far harder master than the landlord, for he has less mercy and less interest in being merciful. Devotion It has been assumed throughout these observations that of land iarjri is to be applied to its natural use, the production of t0 PUIof materials of food and clothing. In the hands of rich luxury, persons it is, however, sometimes devoted to purposes of luxury and enjoyment, such as the formation of large parks, game preserves, and deer forests. Within moderate limits such purposes may be defended on the plea that man does not live by bread alone but by all the enjoyments which he is framed for appreciating, and which in modera-tion contribute to mental health. But they are most defensible when open to the most general enjoyment, and it is peculiarly to the credit of many of the English nobility that they open their parks to the resort of the neighbouring villagers and townspeople, often at some inconvenience to the owners themselves. On the other hand, the conversion of large tracts of ground to the object of preserving game, which implies at the same time exclusion of the public, and diminution of production of food, for the sole recreation of one or two individuals,' is a use of national resources which has, since the formation of the New Forest by William the Conqueror, been generally reprobated. Tha latest phase of its development has been in the conversion of immense areas of the Highlands of Scotland into grouse shootings and deer forests, a process which involves the removal of the small tenantry, and even, in the case of deer forests, the ceasing to graze cattle and sheep. The landowners find that the game rents are much more profit-able to them than the farming rents, but it is at the cost of the nation, which suffers a diminution in the employment of labour and in the production of food, and which con-sequently must see its inhabitants emigrate and pay for imported grain, wool, and meat grown by foreign labour. The ultimate remedy of this abuse will probably be found in measures tending to break up large estates into small ones, for the system requires the reservation of extensive areas free from the presence of man, and the interposition of small cultivated holdings would effectually destroy it.

It may, however, be well to notice here an argument Grazing, which has been sometimes pushed to excess. It has been urged that even grazing should be prohibited on the ground that from the same area a much larger production of food can be obtained in the shape of corn than of meat. The difference is indeed very striking. An acre of good land will yield 40 bushels of wheat, weighing 2500 fi>, while in grass it would yield only 250 lb of meat, and it is still more striking if we deduct the water from each, when we have 2200 lb of dry grain against 188 lb of dry flesh and fat. But man being semi-carnivorous must have a propor-tion of flesh, and the value he assigns to meat as compared with corn shows very correctly its relative importance in the human economy. The fact is that the test of market prices, which are now regulated by the production and demand of the whole world, assigns to dry meat and fat a value just about twelve times as great as that of corn, and consequently an acre of grass land gives a profit quite equal to that of an acre of wheat. Nor could the equality be impaired even if we were all to become vegetarians. For the most ardent disciples of that faith admit the necessity of using milk, and about 2 pints of milk is a necessary addition to a daily allowance of 2 lb of grain for health and the performance of work. But to furnish this quantity of milk throughout the year nearly an acre of ordinary land would be required, or as much as would give about half a pound of meat per day, so that there are no means by which we can dispense with the use of a considerable extent of land for the feeding of animals, by which its produce is converted into the proximate products demanded by the human constitution ; and the amount to be so used is best determined by the demand of the public.

The conclusion to be drawn from the review of the whole questions relating to tenure of land is that they are best solved by freedom of action of individual owners, guided by self-interest and family affection, and only restrained by law when the special circumstances of a high civiliza-tion introduce abnormal conditions. Since these motives operate most fully and healthily when land is held in small estates, it only remains to glance at the methods which in different countries and by different authorities have been suggested to encourage subdivision.

The most general method is that of equal division of the Methods inheritance among children. It is compulsory in the °| S.U.D" Channel Islands, in France, and several other European dlvlS1011, countries, and it forms the rule of intestacy under the law of gavelkind in Kent, in most of the British colonies, and in the United States. To its existence in the latter form no reasonable objection can be taken. To its compulsory enforcement there applies, though in a modified degree, the same objections that apply to a compulsory rule of primogeniture, with the additional objection that it tends to limit the growth of population. Parents who are com-pelled to give an equal portion to every child avoid the risk of subdivision by not having many children, a course which, if commendable when the Old World seemed in peril of over-population, is a source of national impoverishment when the world affords profitable employment for hundreds of millions more than exist. Among the children them-selves the certainty of succession abates the sentiment of filial duty, and the desire to bestow a special bounty on one child who is favoured above the rest may sometimes induce the parents to spend less than they otherwise would in the improvement of the whole estate.

Subdivision of property may, however, be gradually effected by prohibiting excessive bequests. It has always been recognized that the state has an unquestionable right to deal with property at the moment of its transmission from the dead to the living, and no objection could be made to a rule that no one should leave by will or through intestacy more than a certain sum, or land of equivalent value, to one individual. This would not generally affect the desire during life to amass and improve property, because the improved value would still be available for division among all whom the owner wished to benefit. But it would in one generation reduce all estates of abnormal size to properties of such dimension as in the opinion of parliament would be most serviceable for cultivation, and consequently most conducive to national benefit.

The abolition of the right to raise money by mortgage of land would also tend to promote its subdivision, since an owner in debt would be obliged to sell a portion of his estate in order to pay his debts. The improvement of conveyancing, which would follow from the general aboli-tion of all interests in land except that of simple and absolute ownership, would also facilitate the sale of land. The leading principle which should guide legislation is in short that land should be made capable of the easiest trans-mission from one owner to another, and of the fullest use by him to whom for the time it belongs. The ordinary motives of human nature will then concur in transferring it from those who are least to those who are most capable of making it productive, and of inducing each successive owner to bestow on it the labour and outlay by which the maximum of beneficial production will be secured.

[Further Reading] See Mommsen, History of Some ; Von Maurer, Geschichte der Markenverfassung in Deutschland ; Id., Geschichte der Dorfverfas-sung; Id., Geschichte der Stddteverfassung; Id., Geschichte der Frohnhqfe, der Bauerhofe, und der Hofverfassung ; Nasse, Ueber die Mittelalterliche Feldgemeinschaft in England ; Landau, Die Territorien in Bezug anf ihre Bilding ; Von Haxthausen, Ueber die Agrarverfassung in Norddeutsehland ; Laveleye, Primitive Pro-perty ; Maine, Village Communities in the East and West; Cobden Club., Systems of Land Tenure; Reports of H.M. Representatives on Tenure of Land, Pari. Papers, 1860-1 ; Statistique de la France; Marx, Das Capital; Herbert Spencer, Social Statics ; George, Pro-gress and Poverty; Brodrick, Land in England; Boyd Kinnear, Principles of Property in Land.




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