Front Page Titles (by Subject) 358.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON FRENCH AGRICULTURE  MORNING CHRONICLE, 16 JAN., 1847, P. 4 - The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III
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358.: THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON FRENCH AGRICULTURE  MORNING CHRONICLE, 16 JAN., 1847, P. 4 - John Stuart Mill, The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III 
The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, Volume XXIV - Newspaper Writings January 1835 - June 1847 Part III, ed. Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson, Introduction by Ann P. Robson and John M. Robson (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1986).
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THE QUARTERLY REVIEW ON FRENCH AGRICULTURE 
For an account of the origin, text, and variants in this last of a series, see No. 355. This unheaded third leader is described in Mill’s bibliography as “A fourth leading article in reply to the Quarterly Review on French agriculture, in the Morning Chronicle of 16th Jany 1847”
(MacMinn, p. 67).
athe cheval de bataille of M. Rubichon and his English followers against the petite propriété is the cattle question; not without cause, since on this subject they have an indisputable basis of fact, however inadequate to sustain the superstructure they have raised upon it.1 The supply of butcher’s meat to some of the principal towns, especially Paris, is less copious than formerly. It has increased greatly, but in a less ratio than the population. Of the fact there is no doubt, since on this point there are trustworthy statistics of the past as well as of the present. In 1789 the consumption of meat in Paris averaged 68 kilogrammes (150 lbs.) for each person; in 1841 it was but 55 (121 lbs.),2 and there are also complaints of a falling off in the quality.3
The Quarterly reviewer treats very cavalierly the explanation given of this fact by M. Cunin-Gridaine, Minister of Commerce and Agriculture. “This is to be accounted for by the revolution which has taken place in the working classes; Paris having become the most manufacturing town in Europe.”4Industrielle is not exactly synonymous with manufacturing, but let that pass. On this the reviewer:
This seems a strange explanation. The new population of Paris is to starve on an bounce of meat [quaere five ounces]b per diem. How is that? Pooh! says the Liberal Minister, they are only manufacturers. This solution will not be very agreeable to those theorists amongst us who confound the extension of manufactures with the welfare and comfort of the working people. The more candid Minister of Louis Philippe assumes that a manufacturing population must of necessity be worse fed than other classes.5
The reviewer is evidently no Oedipus. But he might have found in another page of M. Rubichon’s treatise what the Minister meant.6 In a town such as Paris before the Revolution, in which there was, comparatively speaking, no production at all, but only distribution—the population consisting of the great landlords, the Court and higher functionaries paid by the State, the bankers, financiers, government contractors, and other monied classes, with the great and small dealers and tradesmen needful for supplying these opulent consumers, and few labourers beyond those who cannot be wanting in so large a town—all will see that the richer must bear an unusually high numerical proportion to the poorer consumers in such a city. Suppose now that a Manchester or a Glasgow grows up in the place. It is pretty evident that while this would add a little to the richer class, it would add twenty times as much to the poorer. Considering now that the upper and middle classes in France are great consumers of animal food, while the poor consume very little, the ration of each poor person might in these circumstances increase very much, while yet the average consumption per head of the whole city, owing to the diminished proportional numbers of the richer class, might be considerably diminished. We have little doubt that this is the fact, and that the great increase in the inferior kinds of animal food introduced into Paris would prove to be for the use, not of those who formerly used the superior kinds, but in a great measure for those who seldom obtained animal food at all.
This, however, does not explain the whole of the change which has taken place, for the price of butcher’s meat has also risen in the Paris markets so materially as to be a source of great privation and complaint. The rise may be ascribed to various causes. In the first place, “France has till lately always been a large importer of cattle; and down to 1814 they were exempted from all duty. In that year, however, a duty of three francs was laid on each head of cattle imported;” and in 1822 the duty “was suddenly raised to 55 francs, an increase which has well nigh put a stop to the importation” (M’Culloch’s Geographical Dictionary, art. France).7 Secondly, the octroi, or town custom duty, now so burthensome, did not exist at all in 1789, and has been largely increased at various periods both in Paris and most other towns since its first establishment. These causes are enough of themselves to account for a considerable part of the enhancement complained of.
But if there were not these causes, there is cause almost sufficient in the very fact of an increased and rapidly increasing population. Paris has added, in 14 years, between four and five hundred thousand to its inhabitants—an increase of nearly one-half. The agriculture of a country must be rapidly improving indeed, if an increase like this can take place in a single market without compelling it to draw its supplies from a larger surface and a greater distance, and therefore at an increased expense. Where would London have been by this time, for the supply of its markets, but for our great coasting trade, and the invention of steam navigation, which conveys not only cattle but carcasses from the extremity of Scotland, as cheaply as they can be brought from Buckinghamshire? The cattle for the supply of Paris must travel by land, from distances varying from 50 to 150 leagues (this rests on the authority of a committee of the Municipal Council of Paris, in 1841),8 and after so long a journey have either to be brought to market out of condition, or to be fattened in the immediate neighbourhood. Can any one, then, be surprised that a doubled population cannot be so well or so cheaply supplied as one of half the number?
To these three causes of the diminished supply of butcher’s meat in the towns, we are not afraid to add a fourth, which, though resting mainly on general considerations, we should not be wholly unable to support by positive evidence. This is, the increased consumption by the country people. They have less animal food in proportion, to spare for the towns, because they retain more of it for their own use.
On what evidence is it asserted that small properties imply deficiency of cattle, and consequent deficiency of manure? That they are not favourable to sheep farming seems to be admitted; but the breeding and fattening of horned cattle is so perfectly compatible with small capital, that in the opinion of many continental authorities, small farms have the advantage in this respect, and so great an advantage as to be more than a compensation for their inferiority in sheep.cdWest Flanders exports a great quantity of dairy produce. In one of the most minutely divided parts of Switzerland, the canton of Zurich, the extent of arable is said to have diminished because the cultivators have found “that with more limited tillage and more numerous cattle breeding they can raise as much grain on a smaller space, and gain the profits of their cattle besides” (Statistical Account of Zurich, by G. M. von Knonau, published in 1834).9 In Thurgau, a most minutely divided canton, since the sub-division of the large holdings “a third or a fourth part produces as much grain and as many head of cattle as the entire holding did before” (Statistical Account of the Canton of Thurgau, by U.P. Strohmeier, 1836).10 In Soleure, a similar authority states that the commonest day labourers usually eat flesh meat twice a day.11 Schaffhausen has changed, between 1829 and 1840, from one of the most backward districts of the confederacy, in the article of cattle, to one of the most advanced.12 In French Flanders and in Belgium, according to M. Passy, the districts where the farms are smallest contain the greatest abundance of live stock.13 The following remarkable facts are from a statistical work on the commune of Vensat, in Auvergne, one of the least improved provinces of France, lately published by M. Jusseraud, mayor of the place. We have not seen the work itself, but our citation is from M. Passy’s essay, Des Systèmes de Culture:
In the commune of Vensat, which comprises 1,612 hectares, divided into 4,600 parcelles, belonging to 591 proprietors, the land in cultivation is composed of 1,466 hectares. In 1790, seventeen farms occupied two-thirds of this extent, and twenty others the remainder. Since that time the land has been divided, and at present the smallness of the parcelles is extreme. What has been the effect upon live stock? A considerable augmentation. In 1790 the commune contained only about 300 horned cattle, and from 1,800 to 2,000 sheep; it now reckons 676 of the former and 533 of the latter. Thus, to replace 1,300 sheep it has acquired 376 oxen and cows; and (one ox or cow being considered equivalent to ten sheep by French agriculturists) all things computed, the quantity of manure has increased in the ratio of 490 to 729, or more than forty per cent. In addition to which, the animals, being stronger and better fed, contribute much more largely to keep up the fertility of the soil.14
The conclusions which follow from these facts, follow also from the reason of the case.d It is argued that the petite propriété must diminish cattle because it leads to the breaking up of natural pasture. But when natural pasture is fit for the plough, a greater number of cattle than were supported on the whole may be supported on a part, by laying it out in roots and artificial grasses; and it is well known that on the stall-feeding system there is much greater preservation of manure. The question of petite culture, in relation to cattle, is, in fact, one and the same with the question of stall-feeding. The two things must stand or fall together. Stall-feeding produces, caeteris paribus, a greater quantity of provisions, but in the opinion of most judges a lower quality. Experience must decide.
This brings us back to the causes assigned, by the committee of the Paris town-council, for the falling off in the quality of the beef consumed at Paris. One is, the extraordinary increase in the consumption of dairy produce.15 Milk is now brought from distances of thirty leagues, and within six or eight leagues of Paris no calves are now bred up, all being sold at the earliest moment possible. In consequence, a great part of the beef sold at Paris is the flesh of cows too old to be fit for producing milk. A second cause assigned is, eas before-mentioned,e the increase of stall-feeding. But the committee makes an instructive distinction. In Normandy, which affords the greatest portion of the supply, the quality, they say, has deteriorated; but in La Vendée, and the central provinces, the Limousin, Nivernais, Bourbonnais, and La Marche, “there is improvement in weight, in fatness, and from some districts in number,”16 although these countries have also adopted stall-feeding; and in this, say the committee, there is no contradiction, since “what is a deterioration in the rich pasturages of Calvados, is improvement in the petites herbes of the Allier and the Nièvre.”17
It may now be left to the reader to judge if the case of our adversaries has not broken down as completely on this, their strongest point, as it has done on every other point of any importance.
We cannot close this long controversy without producing evidence of the extraordinary improvement, extraordinary both in amount and in rapidity, which is taking place in the productiveness of the agriculture of some parts of France. We quote from another work by an authority already cited, M. Hippolite Passy, several times a minister of Louis Philippe, and well-known as one of the first politicians and publicists of France. This tract, published in 1841, is an examination of “the changes in the agricultural condition of the department of the Eure since 1800.”18 The Eure is one of the five departments of Normandy, and belongs to the region of which M. Rubichon admits the agriculture to be the best in France;19 but only (as he contends) because the morcellement has not had time to produce its effects, having commenced in that region only from the Revolution, and he assigns to it accordingly no privilege but that of Outis in the Odyssey, to be devoured the last.20 Let us now see the facts. This department fortunately possesses an accurate agricultural statistique for the year 1800, drawn up by a préfet who took great pains to be correct in his information. M. Passy’s pamphlet is a comparison of these returns with those collected by the present French Government in 1837.
In this interval of thirty-seven years scarcely any new land has been taken into cultivation, nearly all fit for culture being already occupied. But fallows have diminished from 172,000 hectares to a little more than 80,000. The cultures which supply cattle have increased in a much greater proportion than any others: instead of 17 per cent. of the cultivated area, they now occupy 37 per cent. Horses have multiplied from 29,500 to 51,000, horned cattle from 51,000 to 106,000, sheep from 205,000 to 511,000, and as their food has increased in a still greater ratio, and there is importation besides, all kinds of live stock are better fed, and have gained in size, weight, and value. The produce per hectare of all kinds of grain, and of most other kinds of produce, has considerably increased, of some kinds nearly doubled. These changes have chiefly been effected during the second half of the period, so that the improvement is as progressive as on M. Rubichon’s theory should have been the deterioration. There has been no perceptible variation in the proportion between the grande and the petite culture; nor has the division of properties at all promoted the division of farms. On the soils where small farms are most profitable, large properties are rented to small tenants; where the reverse is the case, a single farmer often rents the lands of several proprietors, and this arrangement extends itself more and more as the subdivision of property advances. The consumption of food per head of the population has largely increased, in the ratio, according to M. Passy, of about 37 per cent.; and while the agricultural wealth of the department has increased, according to his estimate, by 54 per cent., the population has only increased 5 per cent.f
Though the Eure belongs to the most productive and thriving region of France, it is not the most productive or the most thriving department. The Nord, which comprises the greater part of French Flanders, and is a country of small farms, maintains, according to M. Passy, proportionally to its extent, a third more cattle than the Eure, and the average produce of wheat per hectare, instead of seventeen, is twenty hectolitres, about twenty-two English bushels per acre.21
Results almost as satisfactory may be deduced from a statistical account of a much less improved district than the Eure, the most eastern district of Brittany, the arrondissement of Fougères, published in 1846, by the Sous-préfet, M. Bertin. “It is only since the peace,” says this intelligent functionary, “that the agriculture of the arrondissement has made much progress; but from 1815 it has improved with increasing rapidity. If from 1815 to 1825 the improvement was as one, it was as three between 1825 and 1835, and as six since that period.”22 At the beginning of the century little wheat was cultivated, and that little so ill that in 1809 the produce per hectare was estimated only at 9 hectolitres. At present M. Bertin estimates it at 16. The cattle being better fed, and crossed with more vigorous breeds, have increased in size and strength; while in number, horned cattle, between 1813 and 1844, multiplied from 33,000 to 52,000, sheep from 6,300 to 11,000, swine from 9,300 to 26,100, and horses from 7,400 to 11,600. New and valuable manures have been introduced, and have come largely into use. The extent of meadow land has increased and is increasing, and great attention has of late been paid to its improvement.23 This testimony comes from an enemy of the morcellement, who, however, states that it is advancing very slowly, and is not likely to advance much further, the co-heirs not dividing each parcelle, but either distributing the parcelles among them, or disposing of them by private or public sale. Some farmers, he galso says, who areg proprietors, have the good sense to sell the few fields which belong to them, in order to increase their farming capital. M. Bertin is an enemy to stall-feeding, which, he says, is not practised in his arrondissement.24 The increase of live stock is all the more remarkable. It may not be useless to mention an assertion of this writer, that the official publication from which M. Rubichon’s data are taken greatly understates the number of horned cattle in France, by the accidental omission of a column in summing up, by which the number is brought below ten millions, when it ought, according to M. Bertin, to be thirteen.25
Of the food of the inhabitants, he says, that not long ago it was composed almost exclusively of milk, buckwheat cakes, and rye bread, but has greatly improved in quantity, quality, and variety, especially in the last ten years, and now consists of wheaten bread, or bread of two-thirds wheat and one-third rye, with butter, vegetables, and “in good farms” about a kilogramme, or h2½h lbs., of pork per week for each person. There is also some consumption of other flesh-meats among the labouring people, and the arrondissement contains 63 butchers’ shops, where fifteen years ago there were not 30; the increase not being in the itowns,i but in the villages.26 The clothing of the rural population is substantial, “and different for every season, which is always a sign of general comfort,” and “persons in rags are very rare in the arrondissement.”27
We cannot further extend this long jarticlej , but enough has been saidk; and our readers will now be ablek adequately to appreciate the terrible predictions of alarmist writers lon the consequences of the division of propertyl .a
[a-a]1058[reprinted in CW, II, 444.26-451.39]
[1 ]Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, pp. 139-74; Croker, pp. 232-4.
[2 ]Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, p. 158.
[3 ]Ibid., pp. 188-9.
[4 ]Laurent Cunin-Gridaine (1778-1859), Speech of 28 Apr., 1841 (Moniteur, 1841, p. 1148), quoted in Mounier and Rubichon, p. 158; Mill takes the quotation in translation from Croker, p. 234.
[b-b]MS ounce” (five ounces) “of meat [altered in ink]
[5 ]Croker, pp. 234-5.
[6 ]Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, pp. 279-83.
[7 ]John Ramsay McCulloch, A Dictionary, Geographical, Statistical, and Historical, 2 vols. (London: Longman, et al., 1841), Vol. I, pp. 855-6.
[8 ]Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, p. 216 (based on quotation from the Committee’s report).
[c]MS [footnote:] See this question discussed in Book I. ch. 10 of the present work, pp. [144-7]. [in the published work, the discussion is in Bk. I, Chap. ix]
[9 ]Translated from Gerold Ludwig Meyer von Knonau (1804-58), Der Kanton Zurich (1834), p. 83, Vol. I of Historisch-geographisch-statistisches Gemälde der Schweiz.
[10 ]Mill has confused his authorities; for the passage here quoted see Johann Adam Pupikofer, Der Kanton Thürgau, ibid., Vol. XVII (1837), p. 72. For Strohmeier, see the next note.
[11 ]Urs Peter Strohmeier, Der Kanton Solothurn, ibid., Vol. X (1836), p. 74. (“Soleure” is the French version of “Solothurn.”)
[12 ]Eduard Im-Thurn, Der Kanton Schaffhausen, ibid., Vol. XII (1840), p. 60.
[13 ]Passy, Des systèmes de culture, pp. 116-17.
[14 ]Translated from ibid., p. 119; Passy takes the passage from Jean Francisque Jusseraud (1797-1863), Statistique agricole de la commune de Vensat (Puy-de-Dôme) (Clermont: Perol, 1843).
[15 ]Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, p. 191.
[16 ]Ibid., p. 188.
[17 ]Ibid., p. 189.
[18 ]Passy, “Des changements survenus dans la situation agricole du département de l’Eure depuis l’année 1800,” Journal des Economistes, I (1842), 44-66.
[19 ]E.g., Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. II, p. 57.
[20 ]Cyclops’s promise to Outis, Homer, Odyssey, Vol. I, p. 328 (IX, 369-70).
[f]MS [footnote:] During the last quinquennial period, the population of this department on the shewing both of the Census and of the register of births and deaths has actually diminished.
[21 ]The account in the preceding two paragraphs is taken from Passy, “Des changements,” pp. 48-63.
[22 ]Amédée Bertin (b. 1805) and Léon Maupillé, Notice historique et statistique sur la baronie, la ville et l’arrondissement de Fougères (Rennes: Marteville and Lefas, 1846), p. 352.
[23 ]Ibid., pp. 354, 356, 374-5.
[g-g]MS says, who are also [altered in ink]
[24 ]Ibid., pp. 401-2.
[25 ]Ibid., p. 391; see Mounier and Rubichon, Vol. I, p. 388.
[h-h]MS 2¼ [altered in ink]
[i-i]MS towns (or rather town) [altered in ink]
[26 ]Passy, pp. 315-16.
[27 ]Ibid., pp. 312-13.
[k-k]MS , to enable our readers
[l-l]MS respecting the consequences of the Division of Landed Property in France