Front Page Titles (by Subject) Appendix B - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II
Return to Title Page for The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Appendix B - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - Principles of Political Economy Part II 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume III - The Principles of Political Economy with Some of Their Applications to Social Philosophy (Books III-V and Appendices), ed. John M. Robson, Introduction by V.W. Bladen (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1965).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The online edition of the Collected Works is published under licence from the copyright holder, The University of Toronto Press. ©2006 The University of Toronto Press. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of The University of Toronto Press.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
Book II, Chapter x (“Means of Abolishing Cottier Tenancy”), §§ 1-7, 2nd edition (1849), collated with the 1st edition and the MS1
§ 1. [Mode of disposing of a cottier population is the vital question for Ireland] The question, what is to be done with a cottier population? which in any case would have been a fit subject for consideration in a work like the present, is to the English Government at this time [the most urgent of practical questions. The majority of a population of eight millions, having long grovelled in helpless inertness and abject poverty under the cottier system; reduced by its operation to mere food, of the cheapest description, and to an incapacity of either doing or willing anything for the improvement of their lot]2 ; have [at last, by the failure of that lowest quality of food, been plunged into a state a in which the alternative]3 is [death, or to be permanently supported by other people, or a radical change in the economical arrangements under which it]4 has [hitherto been their misfortune to live. Such an emergency]5 has [compelled attention to the subject from the legislature and from the nation, but it]6 can [hardly] as yet [be said, with much result; for, the evil having originated in a system of land tenancy which withdrew from the people every motive to industry or thrift except the fear of starvation, the remedy provided by Parliament was to take away even that, by conferring on them a legal claim to eleemosynary support: while, towards correcting the cause of the mischief, nothing was done, beyond vain complaints, though at the price to the national treasury of ten millions sterling for] one year’s [delay.]7
I presume it [is needless] [to expend any argument in proving that the very foundation of the economical evils of Ireland is the cottier system: that while peasant rents fixed by competition are the practice of the country, to expect industry, useful activity, any restraint on population but death, or any the smallest diminution of poverty, is to look for figs on thistles and grapes on thorns. If our practical statesmen are not ripe for the recognition of this fact; or if while they acknowledge it in theory, they have not a sufficient feeling of its reality, to be capable of founding upon it any course of conduct; there is still another, and a purely physical consideration, from which they will find it impossible to escape. If the one crop on which the people have hitherto supported themselves continues to be precarious, either some new and great impulse must be given to agricultural skill and industry, or the soil of Ireland can no longer feed any thing like its present population. The whole produce of the western half of the island, leaving nothing for rent, will not now keep permanently in existence the whole of its people: and they will necessarily remain an annual charge on the taxation of the empire, until they are reduced either by emigration or by starvation to a number corresponding with the low state of their industry, or unless the means are found of making that industry much more productive.]8
Cottiers, therefore, must cease to be. Nothing can be done for Ireland without transforming her rural population from cottier tenants into something else. But into what? [Those who, knowing neither Ireland nor any foreign country, take as their sole standard of social and economical excellence, English practice, propose as the single remedy for Irish wretchedness, the transformation of the cottiers into hired labourers.]9 I contend that the object should be their transformation, as far as circumstances admit, into landed proprietors. Either, indeed, would be a most desirable exchange from the present nuisance; but as a practical object the latter of the two seems to me preferable in an almost incalculable degree to the former, both as the most desirable in itself, and very much the easiest to effect.
§ 2. [To convert the cottiers into hired labourers is not desirable or practicable] To convert the cottiers into hired labourers [is rather a scheme for the improvement of Irish agriculture, than of the condition of the Irish people. The status of a day labourer has no charm for infusing forethought, frugality, or self-restraint, into a people devoid of them.]1 It is not necessarily injurious to those qualities where they exist, but it seldom engenders them where they are absent. [If the Irish peasantry could be] instantaneously [changed into receivers of wages,]2 the wages being no higher than they now are, or than there is any reason to hope that they would be, and the present [habits and mental characteristics of the people remaining, we should merely see] five or six [millions of people living as day labourers in the same wretched manner in which as cottiers they lived before; equally passive in the absence of every comfort, equally reckless in multiplication, and even, perhaps, equally listless at their work; since they could not be dismissed] en masse [, and if they could, dismissal would now be simply remanding them to the poor-rate. Far other would be the effect of making them peasant proprietors. A people who in industry and providence have everything to learn—who are confessedly among the most backward of European populations in the industrial virtues—require for their regeneration the most powerful incitements by which those virtues can be stimulated: and there is no stimulus] [comparable to property in land. A permanent interest in the soil to those who till it, is almost a guarantee for the most unwearied laboriousness: against over-population, though not infallible, it is the best preservative yet known; and where it failed, any other plan would probably fail much more egregiously; the evil would be beyond the reach of merely aeconomica remedies.]3 Having already insisted so strongly on these topics, I feel it needless to argue any further, that the conversion of the Irish peasantry, or of some considerable portion of them, into small landed proprietors, is a more beneficial object than the transformation of all of them indiscriminately into labourers for hire.
But besides being more desirable, it is, above all, more attainable. The other plan, as a measure standing by itself, is wholly impracticable. It involves contradictory conditions. The conversion of the cottiers into hired labourers implies the introduction, all over Ireland, of capitalist farmers, in lieu of the present small tenants. These farmers, or their capital at least, must come from England. But to induce capital to come in, the cottier population must first be peaceably got rid of: in other words, that must be already accomplished, which English capital is proposed as the means of accomplishing. Why is Ireland the only country in the world to which English capital does not go? Because it cannot go to any purpose without turning out the people, and the people refuse to be turned out. I presume it is not seriously proposed that they should be turned out en masse, without being otherwise provided for. With their own consent they never will be dislodged from their holdings until something better is given to them. They will not be got rid of by merely telling them that something better will follow.
It is necessary however in the next place to consider, what is the condition of things which would follow. The ineffective Irish agriculture is to be converted into an effective English agriculture, by throwing together the small holdings into large farms, cultivated by combined labour, with the best modern improvements. On the supposition of success, Ireland would be assimilated, in her agriculture, to the most improved parts of England. But what are the most improved parts of England? Those in which fewest labourers are employed, in proportion to the extent of the soil. Taking the number of Irish peasants to the square mile, and the number of hired labourers on an equal space in the model counties of Scotland or England, the former number is commonly computed to be about three times the latter. Two-thirds, therefore, of the Irish peasantry, would be absolutely dispensed with. What is to be done with them? Is it supposed that they would find employment in manufacturing labour? They are at present unfit for it; and even if fit, capital would require to be imported for that purpose too; and is it likely that manufacturing capital will resort to Ireland, abandoning Leeds and Manchester? Under a more efficient cultivation of her soil, Ireland would require a greatly increased amount of manufactured goods, but these would still be most advantageously manufactured in Lancashire or Yorkshire; and even if Ireland became, as to agricultural improvement, an English county, she would be but a larger Devonshire, drawing everything which she consumed, except the products of agriculture, from elsewhere. All the excess of Irish population above the Devonshire standard would be a local surplus, which must migrate to England, or to America, or subsist on taxation or b charity, or must be enabled to raise its own food from its own soil. The plan therefore of turning the cottiers into labourers for wages, even if it fulfilled its utmost promise, only disposes of a third of the population; with respect to the remaining two-thirds, the original difficulty recurs in its full force.
The question, what system of agriculture is best in itself, is, for Ireland, of purely theoretical interest: the people are there, and the problem is not how to improve the country, but how it can be improved by and for its present inhabitants. It is not probable that England will undertake a simultaneous removal of two millions—the smallest number which in the opinion of any person acquainted with the subject, would make a clear field for the introduction of English agriculture. But unless she does, the soil of Ireland must continue to employ and feed the people of Ireland: and since it cannot do this on the English system, or on any system whatever of large farming, all idea of cthatc species of agricultural improvement as an exclusive thing must be abandoned: the petite culturedin some one of its shapesd will continue, and a large proportion of the peasants, eif they do not become small proprietors, will remaine small farmers. In the few cases in which comprehensive measures of agricultural improvement have been undertaken by large capitals, the capitalists have not, as some might perhaps suppose, employed themselves in creating large farms, and cultivating them by hired labour; their farms are of a size only sufficient for a single family: it was by other expedients that the improvement, which was to render the enterprise profitable, was brought about: these were, advances of capital, and a temporary security of tenure. There is a Company called the Irish Waste Land Improvement Society, of whose operations, in 1845, the following report was made, by their intelligent manager, Colonel Robinson.*
[ f “Two hundred and forty-five tenants, many of whom were a few years since in a state bordering on pauperism, the occupiers of small holdings of from ten to twenty plantation acres each, have, by their own free labour, with the Society’s aid, improved their farms to the value of 4396l.; 605l. having been added during the last year, being at the rate of 17l. 18s. per tenant for the whole term, and 2l. 9s. for the past year; the benefit of which improvements each tenant will enjoy during the unexpired term of a] thirty-one years lease.
[“These 245 tenants and their families, have, by spade] husbandry [, reclaimed and brought into cultivation 1032 plantation acres of land, previously unproductive mountain waste, upon which they grew, last year, crops valued by competent practical persons at 3896l., being in the proportion of 15l. 18s., each tenant; and their live stock, consisting of cattle, horses, sheep, and pigs, now actually upon the estates, is valued, according to the present prices of the neighbouring markets, at 4162l., of which 1304l. has been added since February 1844, being at the rate of 16l. 19s. for the whole period, and 5l. 6s. for the last year; during which time their stock has thus increased in value a sum equal to their present annual rent; and by the statistical] table [and returns referred to in previous reports, it is proved that the tenants, in general, improve their little farms, and increase their cultivation and crops, in nearly direct proportion to the number of available working persons of both sexes of which their families consist.”
There cannot be a stronger testimony to the superior amount of] gross [produce raised by small farming, under any tolerable system of landed tenure: and it is worthy of attention, that the industry and zeal] are [greatest among the smaller holders: Colonel Robinson noticing as exceptions to the remarkable and rapid progress of improvement, some tenants] “who are [occupants of larger farms than twenty acres, a class too often deficient in the enduring industry indispensable for the successful prosecution of mountain improvements.”]*4
§ 3. [Limitation of rent, by law or custom, is indispensable] [The case of Ireland is similar in its requirements to that of India. In India, though great errors have from time to time been committed, no one ever proposed, under the name of agricultural improvement, to eject the ryots or peasant farmers from their possession;] all [the improvement that has been looked for, has been through making their tenure more secure to them, and the sole difference of opinion is between those who contend for a perpetuity, and those who think that long leases will suffice. The same question] may exist [as to Ireland];1 and with the case of the Waste Lands Improvement Society before us, as well as many other instances of reclamation of land, recorded by Lord Devon’s Commission, [it would be idle to deny that long leases, under such landlords as are sometimes to be found, do effect wonders, even in Ireland. But then, they must be leases at a low rent. Long leases are in no way to be relied on for getting rid of cottierism. During the existence of cottier tenancy, leases have always been long; twenty-one years and three lives concurrent, was a usual term. But the rent being fixed by competition, at a higher amount than could be paid, so that the tenant neither had, nor could by any exertion acquire, a beneficial interest in the land, the advantage of a lease was] merely [nominal. In India, the government]2 [is able to prevent this evil, because, being itself the landlord, it can fix the rent according to its own judgment; but under individual landlords, while rents are fixed by competition, and the competitors are a peasantry struggling for subsistence, nominal rents are inevitable, unless the population is so thin, that the competition itself is only nominal. The majority of landlords will grasp at immediate money and immediate power; and so long as they find cottiers eager to offer them every thing, it is useless to rely on them for tempering the vicious practice by a considerate self-denial.
A perpetuity is a]3 preferable tenure to a long lease; it is a far stronger stimulus to improvement[: not only because the longest lease, before coming to an end, passes through all the varieties of short leases down to no lease at all; but for more fundamental reasons. It is very shallow, even in pure economics, to take no account of the influence of imagination: there is a virtue in “for ever” beyond the longest term of years; even if the term is long enough to include children, and all whom a person individually cares for,]4 [he will not exert himself with the same ardour to increase the value of an estate, his interest in which diminishes in value every year.]5 A lease, therefore, is never a complete substitute for a perpetuity. [But where a country is under cottier tenure, the question of perpetuity is quite secondary to the more important point, a limitation of the rent. Rent paid by a bcapitalist who farmsb for profit, and not for bread, may safely be abandoned to competition; rent paid by labourers cannot, unless the labourers were in a state of civilization and improvement which labourers have nowhere yet reached, and cannot easily reach under such a tenure. Peasant rents ought never to be arbitrary, never at the discretion of the landlord: either by custom or law, it is imperatively necessary that they should be fixed; and where no mutually advantageous custom, such as the metayer system of Tuscany, has established itself, reason and experience recommend that they should be fixed] in perpetuity[: thus changing the rent into a quit-rent, and the farmer into a peasant proprietor.]6
§ 4. [Fixity of Tenure considered] Let us, then, examine what means are afforded by the economical circumstances of Ireland, for [carrying this change into effect on a sufficiently large scale to accomplish the complete abolition of cottier tenancy]. The [mode which] first [suggests itself is the] obvious and [direct one, of doing the thing outright by Act of Parliament; making the whole land of Ireland the property of the tenants, subject to the rents now really paid (not the nominal] rents[), as a fixed rent charge. This, under the name of “fixity of tenure,” was one of the demands of the Repeal Association during the most successful period of their agitation; and was better expressed by Mr. Conner, its earliest, most enthusiastic, and most indefatigable apostle,* by the words, “a valuation and a perpetuity.” In] this [measure there would not], strictly speaking, be [any injustice, provided the landlords were compensated for the present value of the chances of increase which they] would be [prospectively required to forego. The rupture of existing social relations would hardly] be [more violent than that effected by the ministers Stein and Hardenberg, when, by a series of edicts, in the early part of the present century, they revolutionized the state of landed property in the Prussian monarchy, and left their names to posterity among the greatest benefactors of their country. To enlightened foreigners writing on Ireland, Von Raumer and Gustave de Beaumont, a remedy of this sort] seems [so exactly and obviously what the disease] requires[, that they] have [some difficulty in comprehending how it] is [that the thing] is [not yet done.]1
But though this measure is not beyond the competence of a just legislature, and would be no infringement of property if the landlords had the option allowed them of giving up their lands at the full value, reckoned at the ordinary number of years purchase; it is aonly fit to be adopted if the nature of the case admitted of no milder remedya . In the first place, it is [a complete expropriation of the higher classes of Ireland: which, if there is any truth in the principles we have laid down, would be perfectly warrantable, but only if it were the sole means of effecting a great public good. bInb the second place, that there should be none but peasant-proprietors, is in itself far from desirable. Large farms, cultivated by large] capitals[, and owned by persons of the best education which the country can give, persons qualified by instruction to cappreciate scientific discoveriesc , and able to bear the delay and risk of costly experiments, are an important part of a good agricultural system. Many such landlords there are even in Ireland; and it would be a public misfortune to drive them from their]2 post. Other objections might be added; a [large proportion] [of the present holdings are] [too small to try the proprietary system under the greatest advantages: nor are the tenants always the persons one would desire to select, as the first occupants of peasant-properties. There are numbers of them on whom it would have a more beneficial effect to give them the hope of acquiring a landed property by industry and frugality, than the property itself in immediate possession.]3
§ 5. [Tenant Right] Some persons who desire to avoid the term fixity of tenure, but who cannot be satisfied without some measure co-extensive with the whole country, have proposed the universal adoption of “tenant-right.” Under this equivocal phrase, two things are confounded. What it commonly stands for in Irish discussion, is the Ulster practice, which is in fact, fixity of tenure. It supposes a customary, though not a legal, limitation of the rent; without which the tenant evidently could not acquire a beneficial and saleable interest. Its existence is highly salutary, and is one principal cause of the superiority of Ulster in efficiency of cultivation, and in the comfort of the people, notwithstanding a minuter subdivision of holdings than in the other provinces. But to convert this customary limitation of rent into a legal one, and to make it universal, would be to establish aaa fixity of tenure by law, the objections to which have already been stated.
The same appellation b(tenant right)b has of late years been applied, more particularly in England, to something altogether different, and falling as much short of the exigency, as the enforcement of the Ulster custom would exceed it. This English tenant right, with which a high agricultural authority has connected his name by endeavouring to obtain for it legislative sanction, amounts to no more than this, that on the expiration of a lease, the landlord should make compensation to the tenant for “unexhausted improvements.” This is certainly very desirable, but provides only for the case of capitalist farmers, and of improvements made by outlay of money; of the worth and cost of which, an experienced land agent or a jury of farmers could accurately judge. The improvements to be looked for from peasant cultivators are the result not of money but of their labour, applied at such various times and in such minute portions as to be incapable of judicial appreciation. For such labour, compensation could not be given on any principle but that of paying to the tenant the whole difference between the value of the property when he received it, and when he gave it up: which would as effectually annihilate the right of property of the landlord as if the rent had been fixed in perpetuity, while it would not offer the same inducements to the cultivator, who improves from affection and passion as much as from calculation, and to whom his own land is a widely different thing from the most liberal possible pecuniary compensation for it.
§ 6. [Location of peasant proprietors on the waste lands] There are then strong objections, as well as great difficulties, opposed to the attempt to make peasant properties universal. But, fortunately, that they should be universal is not necessary to their usefulness. There is no need to extend them to all the population, or all the land. It is enough if there be land available, on which to locate so great a portion of the population, that the remaining area of the country shall not be required to maintain greater numbers than are compatible with large farming and hired labour. For this purpose there is an obvious resource in the waste lands; which are happily so extensive, and a large proportion of them so improvable, as to afford a means by which, without making the present tenants proprietors, nearly the whole surplus population might be converted into peasant proprietors elsewhere. This plan has been strongly pressed upon the public by several writers: but the first to bring it prominently forward in England was Mr. William Thornton, in a work* honourably distinguished from most others which have been recently published, by its rational treatment of the great questions affecting the economical condition of the labouring classes.a
The detailed estimate of an irrefragable authority, Mr. Griffith, annexed to the Report of Lord Devon’s Commission, shows nearly a million and a half of acres reclaimable for the spade or plough, some of them with the promise of great fertility, and about two millions and a half more, reclaimable for pasture:† the greater part being in most convenient proximity to the principal masses of destitute population. Besides these four millions of acres, there are above two millions and a half,* pronounced by Mr. Griffith to be unimprovable; but he is only speaking of reclamation for profit: it is doubtful if there be any land, in a temperate climate, which cannot be reclaimed and rendered productive by labourers themselves, under the binducementb of a permanent property. Confining ourselves to the one and a half million of arable first mentioned, it would furnish properties averaging five acres each to three hundred thousand persons, cwhichc at the rate of five persons to a family, a rather low rate for Ireland, danswersd to a population of fifteen hundred thousand. Suppose such a number drafted off to a state of independence and comfort, together with a very moderate additional relief by emigration; and the introduction of English capital and farming, over the remaining surface of Ireland, would at once cease to be chimerical.†
“The improvement of wastes,” Mr. Thornton eobservese , “may perhaps be thought to require a good deal of capital; but capital is principally useful for its command of labour, and the Irish peasantry have quite labour enough at their own disposal. Their misfortune is, that they have so much. Their labour would not be the worse applied because they worked for themselves, instead of for a paymaster. So far is [large] capital from being indispensable for the cultivation of barren tracts, that schemes of this kind, which could only bring loss to a rich speculator, are successfully achieved by his penniless rival. A capitalist must have a certain return for the money he lays out, but the poor man expends nothing but his own superabundant labour, which would be valueless if not so employed, so that his returns, however small, are all clear profit. No man in his senses would ever have thought of wasting money upon the original sand of the Pays de Waes; but the hard-working boors who settled there two hundred years ago, without any other stock than their industry, contrived to enrich both themselves and the land, and indeed to make the latter the richest in Europe. There is no soil so worthless that an English labourer will not eagerly accept an allotment of it; and while the green valley, from which some Highland community has been driven, is fast relapsing under the superintendence of a wealthy sheep-farmer into its primitive wildness, its former tenants are forming new patches of arable land on the rock-strewn moors along the seacoast.”[*]
“The profit of reclaiming waste land,” says the Digest of Evidence to Lord Devon’s Commission,† “will be best understood from a practice not uncommon in Ireland, to which farmers sometimes resort. This consists in giving the use of a small portion of it to a poor cottier or herdsman for the first three crops, after which this improved portion is given up to the farmer, and a fresh piece of the waste land is taken on the same terms by the cottier.” Well may the compiler say, “Here we have the example of the very poorest class in Ireland obtaining a livelihood by the cultivation of waste land under the most discouraging and the least remunerative circumstances that can well be imagined.”
It is quite worthy of the spirit which pervades the wretched attempts as yet made to do good to Ireland, that this spectacle of the poorest of mankind making the land valuable by their labour for the profit of other people, who have done nothing to assist them, does not once strike Lord Devon and his Commission as a thing which ought not to be. Mr. Thornton strongly urges the claims of common justice and common sense.
“The colonists ought to be allowed to retain permanent possession of the spots reclaimed by them. To employ them as labourers in bringing the land into a remunerative condition, (see Report of Land Occupation Commissioners), in order that it may then be let to some one else, while they are sent to shift for themselves where they can, may be an excellent mode of enriching the landlord, but must eventually aggravate the sufferings of the poor. It is probably because this plan has been generally practised, that the reclamation of waste land has hitherto done nothing for the benefit of the Irish peasantry. If the latter are to derive any advantage from it, such of them as may be located on the waste, should receive perpetual leases of their respective allotments—should be made freeholders, in fact, or at least perpetual tenants at a quit-rent. Such an appropriation of waste land would of course require that compensation should be made to all who previously possessed any interest in it. But the value of a legal interest in land which cannot be enclosed or cultivated without permission of the legislature, can only be proportionate to the actual yearly produce; and as land in a natural state yields little or nothing, all legal claims upon it might be bought up at a trifling expense, or might be commuted for a very small annual payment to be made by the settlers. Of the perfect competence of Parliament to direct some arrangement of this kind, there can be no question. An authority which compels individuals to part with their most valued property on the slightest pretext of public convenience, and permits railway projectors to throw down family mansions and cut up favourite pleasure grounds, need not be very scrupulous about forcing the sale of boggy meadows or mountain pastures, in order to obtain the means of curing the destitution and misery of an entire people.”[*]
It would be desirable, and in most cases necessary, that the tracts of land should be prepared for the labours of the peasant, by being drained and intersected with roads at the expense of Government; the interest of the sums so expended, and of the compensation paid for existing rights to the waste land, being charged on it when reclaimed as a perpetual quit-rent, redeemable at a moderate number of years’ purchase. The state would thus incur no loss, while the advances made would give that immediate employment to the surplus labour of Ireland, which if not given in this manner, will assuredly have to be given in some other, not only less useful, but far less likely to repay its cost. The millions lavished during the famine in the almost nominal execution of useless works, without any result but that of keeping the people alive, would, if employed in a great operation on the waste lands, have been quite as effectual for relieving immediate distress, and would have laid the foundation broad and deep for something really deserving the name of social improvement. But, as usual, it was thought better to throw away money and exertion in a beaten track, than to take the responsibility of the most advantageous investment of them in an untrodden one.
§ 7. [Resources supplementary to the waste lands] If after the superabundant evidence elicited in the Irish inquiries, of the extent and capability of improvement of the waste lands, the reader can doubt their sufficiency for home colonization on such a scale as to effect with benefit to everybody the “clearing” of all Ireland; there are yet other means, by which not a little could be done in the dissemination of peasant proprietors over even the existing area of cultivation. There is at the present time an experiment in progress, in more than one part of England, for the creation of peasant proprietors. The project is of Chartist origin, and its first colony is now in full operation near Richmansworth, in Hertfordshire. The plan is as follows:—Funds were raised aby subscription, and vested ina a joint-stock company. With part of these funds an estate of several hundred acres was bought. This estate was divided into portions of two, three, and four acres, on each of which a house was erected by the Association. These holdings were let to select labourers, to whom also such sums were advanced as were thought to amount to a sufficient capital for cultivation by spade labour. An annual payment, affording to the Company an interest of five per cent on their outlay, was laid on the several holdings as a fixed quit-rent, never in any circumstances to be raised. The tenants bareb thus proprietors from the first, and their redemption of the quit-rent, by saving from the produce of their labour, is desired and calculated upon.
cThe originator of this experiment appears to have successfully repelled (before a tribunal by no means prepossessed in his favour, a Committee of the House of Commons) the imputations which were lavished upon his project, and upon his mode of executing it. Should its issue ultimatelyc be unfavourable, d the cause of failure will be in the details of management, not in the principle. These well-conceived arrangements afford [a mode in which private capital may] co-operate [in renovating the social and agricultural economy of Ireland, not only without sacrifice but with considerable profit to its owners. The remarkable success of the Waste Land Improvement Society, which proceeded on a plan far less advantageous to the tenant, is an instance of what an Irish peasantry can be stimulated to do, by a sufficient assurance that what they do will be for their own advantage. It is not] [indispensable to]1 begin at once with a perpetuity[; long leases at moderate rents, like those of the Waste Land Society, would suffice, if a prospect were held out to the farmers of being allowed to purchase their farms with the capital which they might acquire, as the Society’s tenants were so rapidly acquiring under the influence of its beneficent system.]2 It would be a boon to allow them to become purchasers of the land even at the value given to it by their own labour: and though, on the part of government, to take such an advantage of their exertions would be most ungenerous and illiberal, it would be allowable in private capitalists undertaking a work of national benefit as an advantageous investment of capital. [eWhen the lands weree sold, the funds of the association would be liberated, and it might recommence operations in some other quarter.]3
Nor is it only by joint-stock associations, and the introduction of English capital, that this system might be acted upon: it would be most advantageous to every individual landowner in the distressed counties, who has any funds which he can freely dispose of. Under the new Irish poor law, there are no means for the landlords of escaping ruin, unless, by some potent stimulant to the industrial energies of the people, they can largely increase the produce of agriculture: and since there is no stimulant available, so potent as a permanent interest in the soil, either the present landlords, or those English mortgagees to whom the estates of the more impoverished landowners must inevitably pass, would find it to their advantage, if not to grant at once this permanent interest to their tenants, at least to hold out to them the prospect of acquiring it. The government, too, into whose hands no small portion of the land of Ireland may be expected to fall, in consequence of unrepaid advances, either past or yet to come, will have a noble opportunity of rendering the acquisition instrumental to the formation of a peasant proprietary: but, to the state, it would be most discreditable to seek for profit at the expense of the peasantry; and whether the fownershipsf were granted immediately or only held out in prospect, the rent or price should be no more than sufficient to repay the state for its advances.
[1 ]The method of footnoting is the same as that used in the text proper: i.e., the MS and 48 variants are indicated by superscript letters and given in footnotes. The places where the 49 text agrees with the 71 text are surrounded by square brackets to simplify comparison; references to the 71 text are given in numbered footnotes to the end of bracketed passages.
[2 ][See I.324.3-8 above.]
[a]MS worse than the worst in which it is physically possible for human beings to exist—a state
[3 ][See I.324.8-9 above.]
[4 ][See I.324.10-11 above.]
[5 ][See I.324.12 above.]
[6 ][See I.324.12-13 above.]
[7 ][See I.324.14-20 above.]
[8 ][See I.324.21—325.8 above.]
[9 ][See I.326.20-3 above.]
[1 ][See I.326.23-7 above.]
[2 ][See I.326.27-8 above.]
[a-a]MS, 48 economical
[3 ][See I.326.28—327.5 above.]
[b]MS, 48 on
[d-d]MS must, and indubitably
[e-e]MS will & must be, either small proprietors or
[* ]In the Appendix to the Report of Lord Devon’s Commission, [Parliamentary Papers, 1845, XX,] p. 84[-5].
[f][The following quotation occurs in a footnote in 71; see I.331n above]
[* ] I have recently seen, with much regret, an announcement that this most useful Society is under the necessity of winding up its affairs. In the state to which Ireland has been reduced by the poor law and the famine, such a fact detracts nothing from the evidence which the previous success of the Society afforded in favour of its plan of operations.
[4 ][See I.331.n4—332.n12 above.]
[a]MS, 48 a
[1 ][See I.327.6-13 above.]
[2 ][See I.327.13-21 above.]
[3 ][See I.327.22-31 above.]
[4 ][See I.327.31-7 above.]
[5 ][See I.328.1-3 above.]
[b-b]MS capitalists, who farm
[6 ][See I.328.7-19 above.]
[* ]Author of numerous pamphlets, entitled “True Political Economy of Ireland,” “Letter to the Earl of Devon,” “Two Letters [MS Letters to the Editor of the Times] on the Rackrent Oppression of Ireland,” and others. Mr. Conner has been an agitator on the subject since 1832.
[1 ][See I.328.20—329.9 above.]
[a-a]MS open to objections which I cannot but regard as decisive
[b-b]MS But, in
[c-c]MS be the earliest recipients of new ideas
[2 ][See I.329.10-20 above.]
[3 ][See I.329.20-6 above.]
[b-b]MS of tenant right,
[* ]Over Population and its Remedy. By William Thomas Thornton. Pp. 429-34.  In his subsequent work, “A Plea for Peasant Proprietors,” Mr. Thornton has restated his former arguments and suggestions, with many additions and improvements.
[a]MS [paragraph] “The present exorbitance of rents & want of leases are owing” says Mr Thornton “to the keenness of competition for land, which enables proprietors to dictate their own terms. Better conditions would of course be obtainable if the competitors were less numerous; & if those who are unable to procure adequate settlements on the land already occupied were removed to a distance, the rest would no longer have to outbid each other, or to submit to any outrageous demands. Is it then possible that an asylum can anywhere be found for the crowds who are at present without any certain means of support? The question is a difficult one, but there is at least one spot in Ireland where a satisfactory answer has already been made to it. Two miles from the little town of Kilculler, in Kildare, is a tract of excessively green land, dotted over with brilliant white cottages, each with its couple of trim acres of garden, where you see thick potato ridges covered with blossom, great blue plots of comfortable cabbages & such pleasant plants of the poor man’s garden. Two or three years since, the land was a marshy common, which had never since the days of the Deluge fed any being bigger than a snipe, & into which the poor people descended, draining & cultivating & rescuing the marsh from the water, & raising their cabins, & setting up their little enclosures of two or three acres upon the land which they had thus created. . . . There are now two hundred flourishing little homesteads upon this rescued land, & as many families in comfort & plenty*. Now, if two or three acres of reclaimed marsh can furnish plentiful subsistence to one family, 600,000 acres would do as much for 200,000 families; that is to say, for one-fourth part of the Irish peasantry. . Mr Nicholls tells us that most of the recently recovered bog which he saw in the western counties was reclaimed by small occupiers, who drained & enclosed an acre or two at a time.” [footnote:] *The facts mentioned are extracted by Mr Thornton from Mr Thackeray’s “Irish Sketch Book.” [Thornton, Over-population, pp. 429-31.]
[† ]Mr. Griffith’s numbers are 1,425,000 and 2,330,000. See p. 53 of the Report [Parliamentary Papers, 1845, XIX].
[† ]If instead of throwing small farms into large, and exchanging peasant for capitalist farmers, the “clearing” were limited to such a consolidation of small holdings as would make [MS as should make] them correspond in size to the admirable small farms of Belgium, the adequacy of the resource is still more clear and unquestionable. “There are at present,” says the Digest of Evidence to Lord Devon’s Report, ([Vol. I,] p. 399,) “326,084 occupiers of land (more than one-third of the total number returned in Ireland) whose holdings vary from seven acres to less than one acre, and are therefore inadequate to support the families residing upon them.” It is shown by calculation, “that the consolidation of these small holdings, up to eight acres, would require the removal of about 192,368 families, and that the first class of improvable waste land in Ireland would furnish to those removed families locations of about eight acres each; or the first and second qualities of improvable waste land, taken together, would furnish them with locations of about twenty acres each.” It is computed (p. 565) that by these arrangements 500,000 labourers, equivalent to at least two millions and a half of population, would be abstracted from competition in the labour market, while, on the waste land alone, an addition of nearly twenty-two millions sterling would be made to the gross produce of the country; “and that the first three or four years’ crops would return the cost requisite to bring about this change.” [Ibid., p. 565.]
[[*] ]Over-population, pp. 431-2. [JSM’s square brackets around large]
[† ][Vol. I,] P. 570.
[[*] ]Over-population, pp. 432-4.
[a-a]MS, 48 , in shares, by
[b-b]MS, 48 were
[c-c]MS, 48 Should the issue of this experiment
[d]MS, 48 which at present there seems no reason to believe,
[1 ][See I.330.14-20 above.]
[2 ][See I.330.21-5 above.]
[e-e]MS The lands thus
[ ]See I.330.25-7 above.