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Even since I wrote the account of the condition of the yeomen and peasant farmers of France, and showed how far removed they were, spite of all the disasters of the late war, from being the " pauper warren which had been prophesied, remarkable statements have appeared in two of our leading journals, one of which, the "Times," has at all times been a vehement opponent of "free trade in land," or of any system approaching in character to that of France.

The "Times" of the 12th of September, 1878, in a leading article upon the immense and costly works projected and already commenced with wonderful success by M. de Freycinet, the enterprising Minister of Public Works, and warmly supported by M. Léon Say, the cautious financier who now controls the French Exchequer, and by the aged and cautious M. Dufaure, who is the head of the French Ministry, says: "On one subject he (M. Say) spoke with a confidence on which France may be congratulated. The increase of national wealth continues as great as ever. The accumulations of France astonished Europe in 1873. M. Say reckoned the savings of the country available for investment since the beginning of the year at 281,000,000f., and referred with natural pride to the ease with which during the last two months he had raised a loan of over four-and-ahalf millions sterling at three per cent. The success of this great operation was the more remarkable as the ordinary machinery for reaching investors was dispensed with. With such resources to look to, he had no apprehensions that the country will be unable to meet the obligations which the development of public works will entail."

It should be remembered, that to defray the expenses of the gigantic works of which M. Say and the "Times" speak, about 500,000,000f. a year will be required for the next ten years.

And the "Spectator" of the 14th of September, 1878, writing on the same subject, says: "So great are the savings of the people that more than £10,000,000 sterling has been deposited in the savings banks in the past seven months. . . . The Government can obtain money more cheaply than at any time in the past 35 years. . . . Whatever the other consequences of the law of equal partition in France, it certainly has developed the passion of industry to an unprecedented degree. The French peasant, owning his land, works and saves as no man works and saves-certainly not the Englishman, who, though industrious, has not acquired from the possession of property the instinct of thrift.”

But I shall be asked: If the French system of Land Laws makes the yeomen and peasant farmers, who cultivate their own land, so prosperous and happy in all these countries into which this system of laws has been introduced, what objection can be reasonably raised against it? This is a reasonable question, which I will try to answer.

1. It must be remembered, from what I have said in No. IX., that if a father has a large family, this law leaves him the power of leaving by will to any one whom he chooses only a very small portion of his land. For example, if he had six children at the time of his death, he could only devise as he chose one-seventh of his estate; if he had eight children, one-ninth; and so on. All the rest of the land is divided by the law among the children equally, if they choose to claim their shares. Of course, in a vast number of cases, they do not so choose. Before the father's death they have generally chosen their mode of life. Some go to the towns, some to the army, some to artisans' work, some to service, and so on. All these know nothing about farming whatever. Moreover, they know that there would not be land enough for all if they chose to divide the estate, and, also, that farm buildings would have to be built, and that farm stock would have to be purchased for each portion; so that, as any reasonable man will perceive, although the law gives each child a share of the land if he chooses


to take it, it continually happens that the circumstances I have just mentioned make them unwilling to divide the farm. And in this case, either the farm is sold in one lot in the market, and the proceeds are divided among the children, or one of the children takes the farm, and gradually pays off the shares of his brothers and sisters. All this is forgotten or misunderstood by English writers on the subject, who are constantly treating the subject as if the farm must necessarily be divided, because the law says each child shall be entitled to a certain share. The great estates go on gradually dividing, partly because they consist of many separate farms, each of which can be sold separately; and partly because many of the smaller proprietors are always looking out for the chance of buying small plots of land wherewith to enlarge their small estates.

But, although this is so, still, no doubt, there are many cases in which, spite of all these considerations, the land is actually divided when the whole extent of it is so small as to make division highly inexpedient. And this, no doubt, is a bad effect of this system of laws. How far this evil, where it does exist, is counterbalanced by the vast benefits conferred by this law upon the rural classes, time and experience alone can sufficiently explain.

2. Another evil, which results from this system, is that it often diminishes the authority and influence which a father ought to exercise over his family. In a family in which there are five or six children, all know that the law gives them an equal share of the property on the death of the father, and that in such a case the father would be able to leave as he chose only a seventh of his land. The children know that, no matter how badly they behave or how little respect they show to their father, they are sure of their share when he dies, and that he cannot in any way deprive them of it. The portion of which he can dispose in such a case is too small to be worthy of much consideration. The father is in this way deprived of much of the moral influence which he ought to exercise, and which it is highly expedient

he should exercise, if he is a worthy and moral man. If his family consists of only one or two children, this reason against these laws is deprived of much of its weight. In such cases the law allows him to leave one-half or one-third of the whole land, according as he has one or two children, to any one he pleases, and consequently he is able to affect his child or children seriously by his will, if they prove unworthy.

The English law is still more open to this objection. When an estate is settled and tied up for several lives or many years, the son who is to succeed knows that nothing he does, no disobedience or disrespect he shows, no immorality or debased character he exhibits, can affect his rights as successor. He may show himself to be a spendthrift or a villain; he may treat his father with utter contempt; he may become the companion of swindlers of the worst description ; but the estate is sure, if he lives, to become his own. it is this knowledge and this result of our settlements, deeds, and wills which have utterly destroyed the influence of many a good father, and ruined in morals and character thousands of sons. How far the limited effect of this consideration, so far as the French system is concerned, militates against the vast benefits conferred by that system, only time, education, and experience can explain.


3. Another evil, arising from the French system of compulsory subdivision on the death of the owner, in those countries in which this system is in force, and in which the yeomen and peasant farmers are not educated, is this: A great number of farms come into the possession and ownership of uneducated yeomen and peasant farmers. Where these men are educated, and where many of their sons pass through good agricultural schools, as in Switzerland and Germany, there you find the farmers consulting one another about improvements, upon the qualities of manures and machinery, and upon the best means of making the most of their land. You find there also scientific farming advancing from year to year, and the produce of

the land increasing and improving. But where little or nothing has been done for the real education of these classes, or for their training in scientific farming, although you may find wonderful industry, self-denial, and economy, and the most careful cultivation of the farms, you will also find that they farm, if I may say so, from tradition, from what they have heard from their fathers and neighbours; and you will find an unwillingness or an inability to receive new ideas, or to avail themselves of the improving knowledge of their own time in other countries. Of course this is an evil which education and time will cure, but it is an evil which, where education is wanting, is more observable in countries in which the land is much subdivided, than in those in which the land is cultivated by men of more capital, and with better means of educating and training their children.

4. Another evil which results from this French system is that, as a general rule, it has a tendency to subdivide nearly all the great estates. I say a tendency, because in some countries, as in Belgium and France, spite of the stringency of this law, many large estates remain undivided, and in the hands of the same family, from generation to generation: but still the tendency of the French law is as I have said. Now, I must say that, while I think it a vast evil to do as we have done, and to shut out the peasants from all chance of buying land, and the small farmers from almost all chance of buying any, and to have so framed our laws that by far the largest proportion of the land is tied up for generations in the hands of a few great owners, still I think it is also a great evil to do away with large proprietors altogether. If they are good and intelligent men, they perform great and most important functions in the body politic, and are able, by their larger command of capital, to try experiments in scientific agriculture and in costly machinery, and to encourage and promote many new improvements which poorer men would not venture upon until their success had been proved by others. Of course, this is only true where

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