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acquired, it may be, by much toil and self-denial, but when acquired, their own, safe from the greed or uncertain or tyrannical will of any one?

And is not this a great moral lesson for the people, worth, if necessary, the sacrifice of some portion of the net produce of the soil?

But it is not necessary to pay even this price; for nations who have promoted just laws, and repealed, no matter by what labour, these selfish and class feudal laws, have found themselves repaid by a just Providence, by the increased, and still increasing, industry, self-denial, temperance, conservative feeling, contentment, and prosperity of the rural classes.

Would to God that all Englishmen had had the opportunities which I have enjoyed of studying the results of abolishing these unjust, oppressive, and truly demoralising feudal Land Laws!

K

LETTER XIII.

ON BELGIUM.

September 23, 1878.

BEFORE leaving the important subject of the effects of the French system of Land Laws in the different European countries in which it has been in force for many years, I wish to direct the attention of your readers shortly to the effects of this system in the kingdom of Belgium; and I am all the more anxious to do so because many questions were put to witnesses upon this subject by members of the recent committee on the Irish Land Act, 1870, which has been sitting this year, showing too plainly that great misconceptions prevail as to the results of this system in that country.

"The case of Belgium," as Mr. Cliffe Leslie says in his "Land Systems of Ireland, England, and the Continent " (p. 348), "is the more striking an example since the peasant there has none of the special gifts which the skies of France bestow on la petite culture. The olive is not his; and the vine, though it grows an indifferent vintage on a few slopes in the east and south of the kingdom, is nowhere to be met with in Flanders. The soil of Flanders, moreover, is so poor by nature that even 'second' or intermediate crops require special manure. The Pays de Waes, it should be observed, is not more fertile than the rest of the sandy regions, although it may appear so from the greater moisture of the soil, and its natural qualities were so far from attracting earlier cultivation than the rest of the province, that it

was not reclaimed for centuries after the environs of Ghent. More manure to the acre is applied in it at this day than anywhere else, even in Flanders." And M. de Laveleye, who is one of the most competent of, if not the most competent, writers on the agriculture of Belgium, and who is the author of two celebrated works on the agriculture of Belgium and Holland-viz., "L'Economie Rurale de la Belgique," and "L'Economie Rurale de la Néerlande"and also of a most interesting essay in the "Systems of Land Tenure in various Countries," entitled "The Land System of Belgium and Holland," says (see his Essay, p. 199): "In England a contrast is often drawn between Flanders and Ireland, and the former is said to enjoy agricultural advantages not possessed by Ireland, such as great markets, a better climate, abundance of manure, more manufactures. . . . Flanders does enjoy certain advantages, but they are equally accessible to the Irish, derived as they are from human industry; whereas the advantages possessed by Ireland, coming as they do from nature, are not within the reach of the Fleming.

"Let us look, first, at climate and soil. The climate of Ireland is damper and less warm in summer, but less cold in winter. In Flanders it rains 175 days in a year; in Ireland 220 days. On this account the Irish climate is more favourable to the growth of grass, forage, and roots, but less so to the ripening of cereals; yet the Fleming would be but too happy had he such a climate, cereals being but of secondary importance with him, and often used as food for his cattle. He seeks only abundance of food for his cows, knowing that the value of live stock goes on increasing, while that of cereals remains stationary. Butter, flax, colza, and chicory are the staple articles of his wealth, and the climate of Ireland is at least as well suited to the production of these as that of Flanders.

"As for the soil of Ireland, it produces excellent pasture spontaneously, whilst that of Flanders hardly permits of the natural growth of heather and furze. It is the worst soil in

all Europe; sterile sand like that of La Campine and of Brandenburg . . . Having been fertilised by ten centuries of laborious husbandry, the soil of Flanders does not yield a single crop without being manured, a fact unique in Europe. Not a blade of grass grows in Flanders with

out manure.

Irish soil might be bought to fertilise the soil of the Fleming." M. de Laveleye goes on to show what extraordinary pains the Flemish farmers bestow on the collection, purchase, and preservation of manure, and what large sums they expend in its purchase, and he then continues: "On the whole, for carrying farming to a high pitch of perfection, Ireland enjoys far greater advantages than Flanders, the land being much superior, the climate equally favourable to the growth of valuable crops, and the same markets being at hand" to both countries.

But then, he might have added, the Irishman has not the wonderful stimulus of owning the land which he farms; and that, while in Belgium, as will be seen by and by, a great part of the farmers are spurred on to ever-renewed exertion and enterprise by the wonderful incentive of feeling that the land they farm is their own, and that every farthing and every hour's labour they expend upon it, is so much expended for their own sole benefit. Let the poor Irish tenant, working under an agent and without any lease even, be put in such a situation as the Flemish farmer, and we should soon see whether our Irish brother would not soon equal, if not outstrip, his Flemish competitor. In Belgium, the French system of compulsory subdivision of a great part of the land on the death of the owner, as described in No. 9, is in force.

But although this is the law of the land in Belgium, its effects are so modified in some parts of that country by local customs, and in other parts by the fact of the existence of so many manufacturing towns, that the consequence is that, while there are, as in all countries in which the French Land Laws are in force, great numbers of small farms, kitchen gardens, and single plots belonging to their culti

vators, there are at the same time a great number of estates which belong to the old noble families or to the rich manufacturers in the towns. These latter estates are seldom farmed by the owners themselves, but are let in farms of different sizes either to farmers who have no land of their own, or to farmers who, having small farms of their own, are desirous of cultivating more land than that which belongs to them, and of thus hastening the time when they will be able to add to their own property by purchasing more.

In Belgium the nobility have, spite of the law of forced subdivision on the death of an owner, retained, as many of the French nobility also have done, large estates. So that in Belgium leasehold farms are to be found in most parts of the country, existing side by side with what we should call "freehold" farms, or farms actually belonging to the cultivator.

Owing to the circumstances mentioned, and to the constantly varying fortunes of members of the manufacturing class-to their occasional insolvency, to their occasional want of all available capital for speculations, and to their frequent changes of occupation-there is a constant change going on in the land market; some seeking to buy, some to sell, some to sell in plots in order to obtain the higher price, and many eagerly competing to obtain sometimes only one and sometimes more of such plots.

It is found in Belgium, as in France, that when a large landowner sells he can generally obtain much more by selling in a number of small plots than by selling the whole estate in one lot.

The farms, which are let on lease by the manufacturers and others, are, as a rule, let on very short leases—three, six, or nine years at most, and more generally for three or six than for nine. And on these farms all the evils are to be found which result everywhere from short leases, insufficient security for outlay, and the little interest felt by such a tenant in improvements, as compared to the deep interest taken by the real owner in improving and expend

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