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them; secondly, to discover the causes which have produced so disastrous a state of things; and lastly, "to shadow out," if we may be so fortunate, some plain and simple palliative and cure.

The portion of the population which depends upon agriculture for subsistence is, it cannot be denied, redundant; by which we mean to express that its numbers have increased beyond the apparent powers of the area under tillage to afford them employment. We waive, for the moment, the belief so confidently pronounced, and by competent judges, that the same surface, judiciously cultivated, would employ profitably a still larger population-we waive also for the present, the discussion of the causes why all the existing numbers are not employed upon the land-we merely state the fact, and content ourselves with the averment, that in the vast majority of the rural parishes of England, there are more men than can find work. The consequence is, that a too severe competition in the labourmarket has brought wages to the lowest possible rate; and without reference to the amount paid, it may fairly be said that single men obtain no more than will yield the lowest term of subsistence, while those who are married and have families, are compelled to eke out their earnings by parish allowances, according to the numbers of their children. When men seek employment, they are willing to abide by what the master fixes; in fact, the one must take what the other will give, for, if the work be refused, there is an idle competitor at hand who will accept the job. The labourer has, in truth, no choice-the poor-laws confine him to a spot, or so limit his scope of action, that the free circulation of labour is precluded, and thus he has no alternative but the parish. His degradation is complete. Can it, then, be matter of wonder that the links in the chain of rural society are broken? Can it surprise any one that the man who knows himself to be honest and industrious, strong, and active-who is willing to task his strength to the utmost, yet who feels that he cannot hope to satisfy even his merest wants by a life of exertion and toil-can it be matter of surprise that such a man regards the world as a region of misery, its laws as arbitrary and unjust, and its rulers as tyrants, whom he is bound by the law of self-defence, or at least the alluring motives of retaliation, to despoil and circumvent by every means in his power? We shall come to apprehend the truth of these apparently extreme and bitter accusations more clearly, when we enter upon the causes and go back to the habits of the preceding generation. We do not exaggerate the condition of that pauperized class who ought to be the labourers in agriculture, when we describe them as reduced to the minimum of subsistence (taking the average), as discontented in mind, broken in spirit, dissevered from the natural ties which ought to bind them to those next above them in their social relations, and appearing to those who visit the sins of the rulers on the offences of the victim, to be at once reckless and graspingcovetous to-day in order to be improvident to-morrow. There are, indeed, modifications produced by local circumstances and individual qualities, by the occupation, wealth, and personal character of their employers, and by the customs of the place; but the more perfect generalization is that we have adopted-they are reduced to the extremity of privation and moral degradation. This is not assertionit is supported by indisputable proofs. During the summer and

autumn of 1830, in some counties, the whole mass of labourers rose and demanded an increase of wages, with a force and a pertinacity which was not to be resisted. They destroyed the machinery by which they imagined their labour was supplanted. Nor, although a temporary advance was conceded, did the evil stop here. The agency of fear has still been resorted to. The incendiary fires, however originated-however, in single instances, the results of individual vengeance, partake, in the general, of this single motive-they are perpetrated with the express design to terrify the wealthy into a more beneficial employment of the poor. There are also additional symptoms in the increasing frequency of vagabond mendicancy, of highway-robberies, and in a common offence, not perhaps so recent in its origin, though of late more general in its occurrence-namely, the slaughter of sheep in the open fields. These are the more prominent evidences of that depravation of character which afflicts the country; but the confirmation, the confirmation strong, is to be seen in the universal laxity of manners-in the indifference to independence and personal estimation-in the total decay of the decent pride which used to keep a man off the parish-in the reckless habits, and the almost utter disappearance of that respect for their superiors, which was, not long ago, the distinction of the inhabitants of the village, and which we would not regret to see diminished, if its substitute were a consciousness of dignity, rather than a revengeful feeling of degradation. They who are most disposed to extenuate the conduct of the labourer in agriculture, amongst whom -yea, among the foremost of whom we desire to be numbered, are forced to admit that this picture of rural manners is not overcharged. Some allowance as to the degree of depravation is undoubtedly to be made for proximity to large towns, and comparatively dense population. The deterioration will almost always be found to have some relation to these particulars, and to the latter especially, as sharpening the competition in the labour-market, decreasing wages, and augmenting parish allowances. Poverty, recklessness, and misery, it is especially to be remarked, are almost always proportioned to the relative power of the area to maintain the inhabitants; we do not mean in a general, but in the local sense of employment-the lesser thus conforming to the greater proposition.

What, then, has brought a people, active, honest, and disposed to be industrious, to so deplorable a state?

If we go back to a date about forty years ago, we find the farms were of moderate dimensions, varying indeed from thirty to five hundred acres, with here and there (very rarely) a larger occupation, where vast tracts of the land were light, uninclosed, and appropriated to sheep-walk. At the period to which we revert the population was at least nearer, and perhaps below, the demand for the cultivation of the soil. The demand and supply of food were also more nearly equal. Manufactures had not arrived at the advancement which capital, science, and the competition excited by the late wars have since produced; and the women and children of the peasantry could add considerably, by spinning and other similar arts, to the earnings of a family. The workmen upon a farm resided, for the most part, in the farm-house; for the law of settlement had not yet been found a

grievance of any distressing import; neither had the mind of the master soared very far above that of the hind. There was in this point a much nearer approach to equality; man and master consulted together, worked together, and lived together; the interest of the one was the interest of the other-the product of the farm was all in all to both. Hence it followed that there was an ascendancy, almost to be accounted of nature, which the superior had over the inferior, proportioned to their constant and inseparable association; and indeed it was visible in the conformity which the manners and character of the servant bore to those of his employer.

The French Revolution broke out. Happily, in one respect, a spirit of inquiry was set loose; but unhappily, also, that spirit was, at first, directed rather to wild schemes than practical methods of amelioration; and, as is always the case, the worst doctrines travel at once to the ignorant, the best remain long uncirculated with the enlightened: while visions of a new and bright æra, of" peace to earth and good-will to man," broke on the speculations of the philosopher, it was rather confused notions of violence that suggested themselves to the labourer; the one might hope for an equality of power, but the other began to long for an equality of goods. Then came war and the exaltation of price, which applied so great a stimulus, and wrought so great a change in the commerce of agriculture. Between 1795 and 1827, more than three millions of acres of wasteland were inclosed.* Capital flowed towards agriculture in the largest possible streams, yet it could not flow fast enough to meet the demand which the effects of war and the policy of Bonaparte originated. In 1812, the average price of wheat was about seven pounds sterling a quarter. The profits of the farmer were immense; during that year they amounted, in many instances, where an abundant crop combined with the high price, almost to the value of the fee-simple of the land.

The results were as follow:-It was essential to the very subsistence of the people, as well as to the resistance of the enemy, that the greatest encouragement should be given to agriculture-the profits alone, indeed, afforded this encouragement. In proportion to these profits, which afforded even a better security than the condition of the individual, were the loans of capital from bankers. But it also became a necessary consequence that a certain elevation in the character and means of the employment itself should attend the application of talent, and the investiture of large fortunes in the occu

This is a most important fact, bearing upon a most important point of the subject, because the enormous quantity of land inclosed, shows first how indispensable to the mere existence of the population was the prodigious activity directed towards agriculture, and secondly it establishes that land of all qualities has been profitably brought under cultivation; for it is impossible to suppose that such vast tracts were selected for their superior goodness. They were taken indiscriminately and improved by capital and skill-a fact which goes far to prove that nearly all qualities of soil are susceptible of profitable tillage. To strengthen the demonstration, we subjoin the actual account of wastes inclosed, published in 1796 by the Committee of Waste Lands, and the computed amount of the subsequent inclosures. From 1710, when the first Inclosure Bill, properly so called, was passed, for the parish of Ropley, in the county of Southampton, to the year 1796 there were passed:



From 1796 to 1827, both inclusive 2110



pation. Hence the magnitude of the farms was indefinitely increased -farm-houses became mansions-all the buildings and appurtenances assumed a proportionate improvement-agriculture rose at once from an art to the dignity of a science-societies were established-premiums offered-county surveys and treatises published. Such vast and, it must be admitted, useful assemblies, as the Shows of Mr. Curwen of Cumberland, and Mr. Coke of Norfolk, attracted from all parts of the kingdom (and even from foreign countries) the farmers, An to whom now was accorded the loftier style of " Agriculturists." impulse, perfectly incalculable, except in its results, was given to an employment, which, from having hitherto been amongst the least assuming, came now to be deemed of the very highest importance among the arts of life.

But what were the effects of these changes upon the manners and condition of the entire mass of the rural population? The fortunes of the proprietors had been at least doubled; the profits of their tenants had increased in a larger ratio. Height of success generated high thoughts, and the habits of both these classes were now observed to correspond with the change. The squire was no longer content with the pleasures of the country and the management of his estate; he extended his connexions, and his notions of the refinements belonging of right to his station. He visited London at stated periods; his house, his furniture, and establishment-the polished education of his children, and the general intellectual elevation, all gave indications of loftier, prouder, and more exclusive pretensions. These changes, of necessity, separated him more widely from that regular and kindly, if we may not call it friendly, intercourse which Even the alteration in used to subsist between landlord and tenant. the manner of sporting-the game no longer preserved as a cheap amusement, but multiplied into an ostentatious extravagance-the battue, which gradually made its way down the scale (when such power and novel assumptions came to be considered as indications of aggravation of style)-even these will be found to have had their influence, and a very unfortunate influence, both upon the habits and morals of all the rural classes.

The interval between the landlord and tenant, it must not be forgotten, had, in a degree, been filled up by those large profits, and larger occupations, which either constituted the inducements to the capitalist to become an "Agriculturist," or which had lifted the farmer of 200, 300, or 400 acres, with a moderate house and moderate desires, into the occupant of from 1000 to 2000 acres, and the inhabitant of a residence not far, not very far, below the mansion of his landlord in artificial refinements and luxuries.

And now we come to the inevitable results of these changes upon the working class. From such residences, the servants of the farm were almost necessarily excluded; a man with such wealth, power, and pretensions, would submit with reluctance to the personal supervision which must be bestowed upon such inmates. It followed almost as a matter of course that the hind who must find himself a habitation, would be desirous to find himself a helpmate. Population thus perhaps, in the country, received its first artificial impulse. The former course of events, by which the long-tried, industrious, and frugal man, rose through the several gradations of service, accu

mulating a little more and more with each remove, was domiciliated with the dairy-woman, by whose society and similarity of habits he was attracted and attached, and whom he at last married, was totally reversed. The young out-door labourer was tempted, if not compelled to marry in his own defence. Cottages multiplied, and the social was superseded by the separate system of domestic habitation. In the mean time the rise in the price of corn had, as we have shown, generated an universal desire of appropriating every spot that would bear an ear of wheat or barley. The inclosure of commons, though a national good, and even in some respects a corrective of morals, for the most lawless were always found to harbour near such wild domains, was in some important points an evil to the industrious labourer. The addition to their income which the careful couple derived from the common, half the maintenance of a cow, a pig, and a small number of geese, ducks, and fowls, as the case might be, was at once cut off.* But they were compensated in wages? By no means. The rise in wages never even kept pace with the rise of the price of food and necessaries, both of which were enhanced by the taxation which was the fruit of the war. On the contrary, the augmentation, indispensable to the very existence of the labourer, introduced the system of paying a portion of wages from the parish rates. Thus it was that the evil of the law of settlement came to be felt, and with its pressure grew that desire of evasion, which has been the source of such eternal, such expensive litigation between parishes, of such inequality and injustice to the rate-payers, of such oppressive tyranny towards the labourer, of so much perjury, animosity, demoralization, and vengeance. The depravation has at length been completed by the misery and recklessness attendant upon the abject poverty, which is the consequence of extreme competition, of the commercial and moral opponency, so to speak, which reigns between the three classes of dependants on the soil, and also between them all and the Church, instigated in no small degree by the circulation of those cheap and inciting publications to which no proper antidote has yet been exhibited in a judicious and effectual system of useful and moral education.+

Hitherto we have spoken only of internal changes: with the peace came also the increase in the competition, which the discharge of so many soldiers and seamen, the release of so many artisans, who were employed not only in the various trades which especially belong to a state of war, but also who were supported by the commercial monopoly which was given to England. These came into the labour market, or upon the parishes, with terrific rapidity and weight, and

The improvement of farming machinery might perhaps be accounted an evil to the villager, but a far more active agent in the change has been the perfection of those engines by which the spinning of wool has been transferred from the cottage to the factory. We would be understood not to depreciate the general advantages of machinery, which are indisputable, but merely to show its effects upon rural employment.

+ We assign to political opinions, properly so called, very slight effect in producing the altered habits of the peasantry. They care little, and know less about the questions that vehemently agitate the inhabitants of manufacturing districts. But the vague notions of political and personal rights thus propagated, have had considerable influence in generating and perpetuating a general dissatisfaction, and a more active spirit of insubordination connected with no slight feeling of the power of masses. During one of the parochial rebellions, a ringleader emphatically whispered to a magistrate who came to the spot with the military," We have found out the secret,-numbers will do it."

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