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In other districts the small landowners work alternately for one another. Thus in the Basses-Alpes they eke out their profits by moneta forestiere ; in Hérault they are day labourers who till their own plots of land, or, as their patois expresses it, font l'impéraou out of working hours ; in HautesPyrénées they hire themselves out for daily wages ; in Tarnet-Garonne the pagés, as the peasants are called, work in harvest times as estivandiers and solatiers.
The peasant proprietor has suffered comparatively little by agricultural depression. Employing no hired labour, and growing corn only for his own consumption, he has not been, and hardly can be, affected by foreign competition. But for the tenant farmer the agricultural crisis is hardly less serious in France than it is in England. The proof lies on every side. Forced sales of stock and rural bankruptcies are nnmerous ; disputes are rife respecting claims to unexhausted improvements; farms are difficult to let, rents are falling, population migrates into the towns, land decreases in value. It no longer pays to grow wheat; flock masters get nothing for their wool; American pork undersells French produce; the florist of Angers complains of his Belgian rival; the madder of Vaucluse is beaten out of the field by indigo. Wages are rising in a falling market; labour is not only scarce and dear, but it has deteriorated in quality. The younger generation is not, it is said, like the old; lads go off to seek fortunes in towns, or cannot endure, after the gaiety of barrack life, the monotony of the country. Girls will not work like their mothers, but become dressmakers or shopgirls. In France, as in England, politico-economical questions are chained to the car of party politics; no one dares to investigate the principles which regulate commercial dealings. In France, as well as in England, a new privileged class has been created, that of the rentier, who escapes the taxation which crushes the agriculturist. As in England, so in France, through railway rates are said to favour the foreigner; and in both countries the cry grows louder that the cheapest loaf becomes the dearest when no one has money to buy it. If French tenant farmers have suffered less than their English brethren, it is because the land has never been called upon to produce two gentlemen's incomes, and because large employers of labour are never ashamed of the blouse and the sabot.
It is the tenant farmer renting a large farm, employing hired labour, and growing corn and beef for sale and not for home consumption, who has suffered by agricultural depression. One noticeable result of bad times is the increase of métayage. It is admitted by many agricultural writers that on this system landlords and tenants have got most out of the land, and have suffered least from the recent distress. The proof lies in the fact that not a few tenant farmers have lately preferred to take on their farms as métayers. If métayage is indeed the land system of the future, or even affords a temporary shelter from the storm, some few remarks may be usefully offered upon the shape which the tenure now assumes in France.
Like every other system of agricultural tenure, métayage has been greatly abused. Strong prejudices have been created against the system by the writings of Arthur Young and Mill, who studied the tenure in its most debased conditions. Before the Revolution, land farmed by tenants was almost universally let to métayers; in the north and north-east alone the tenure was exceptional. Even at the present day there are very few departments in which the system is not to be found, and it prevails extensively in the centre, west, and south of France. Mayenne is the most northern department in which métayers are numerous. Twenty-five per cent. of the land is cultivated by peasant proprietors; 49 per cent. by tenant farmers; 26 per cent. by métayers. In Finistère, 6 per cent. ; in Morbihan, Côtes-du Nord, Ile-et-Vilaine, 3 per cent. of the cultivators of the soil are métayers. In the Department of the Sarthe they number about 3 per cent. In the Nord and the Pas de
} Calais their numbers do not amount to more than 1} per cent. of the farming population. In Eure-et-Loire (La Beauce), out of an adult male agricultural population of over 70,000 there are not 300 métayers. In Maine-et-Loire métayers are very numerous, especially in the wild Bocage districts of Baugé and Segré, where their numbers exceed 7,500. Further south they grow more and more abundant. In Creuse, for instance, the land is cultivated by métayers, or peasant proprietors, or village communities; the English tenant farmer is almost unkuown. In the department of the Allier, which includes part of the Bourbonnais and Basse-Auvergne, more than two-fifths of the landholding classes are métayers. In the south, land is farmed either by peasant proprietors, or by métayers or maîtres valets. Tenant farmers are scarcely more numerous than métayers in the north. Thus the Gironde contains 19,000 métayers against 4,000 tenant farmers ; in Tarn-et-Garonne there are 9,000 métayers to 700 farmers.
Métayage has altered for the better since it was condemned by Arthur Young and Mill. In details the system varies with erery district; the main features remain the same. Landlords and tenants combine to stock a farm ; the tenant tills the soil, and manages the live stock under the direction of the landlord; the profits are divided as the interest on their respective capitals. The theory is admirable. It applies co-operation directly and simply to agricultural industries; it forms an association of capital and intelligence with labour, of practice with science; it brings to bear on both partners the strongest motives of selfinterest. So long as landlords were resident the system succeeded, because the métayer worked under the eye of his partner. But when estates were too small to offer inducements to landlords to adopt a country life, or large enough to support them as courtiers, the system was grossly abused. Landlords resided in towns because town life offered more distractions to the wealthy, or more professions to the poor. They knew nothing of farming, abandoned the sentiment of their position, looked upon their land as so much capital realising a certain interest, and generally handed it over for fixed payments to farmers, who sublet to the métayers. This middleman, frequently a notary, was, like his employer, a bourgeois. He knew too little of farming to increase the yield from the land, and yet was determined that it should yield three rents. The terms of the tenancy grew more harsh, and the cheptel more niggardly. Lime and marl were unknown; no artificial manure was used; the plough was that of Triptolemus ; the cropping antiquated and barbarous. The métayer, never receiving any advice or instruction, surrounded by other tenants as ignorant as himself, plodded on in the footprints of his ancestors, content if he could avert starvation from himself and his family. With his land and farmbuildings he was given a cheptel, consisting of eight oxen for the plough, half a dozen lean, wretched, inbred cows, a small flock of sheep, and two or three sows. All the animals were dwindling to half their proper size. Two-thirds of the land was arable; an unmanured meadow occupied one-tenth of the farm; the rest was left, with the assistance of broom, heath, or gorse, as coarse pasture. The land was incessantly cropped for potatoes, buckwheat, maize, barley, rye. The metayer's own contribution to the stock was about a fourth of that of the proprietor-two carts, two or three wooden ariaus, two harrows (also of wood), the harness of the oxen, sickles, hoes, and other implements.
Within recent years the system has been revolutionised. Divisions of property compelled landlords to reside on their estates, superrise the letting and management of the métayages, and dispense with farmers or middlemen. If landlords are interested and skilled in agriculture, the system offers exceptional advantages. The tenancy is not inherently aggressive; it does not lend itself so readily to the reclamation of land as a peasant proprietary; it is rare to find métayers who have reclaimed land. But where the landlord is ready and competent to take the initiative, the tenure has achieved wonders. It doubles the capital, entrusts to the brains the direction of the enterprise, and supplies the incentive of self-interest to the labour.
One condition of success is that the farm should not be too large to be cultivated by a single family. If hired labour is employed, the conditions of the tenancy become complicated by the question of wages, and misunderstandings frequently arise. The size of an arable métayage farm varies from thirty to seventy acres. In vine-growing countries the holdings are smaller. The land is generally let on lease for three or six years; afterwards the tenure is renewed by the tacite réconduction, subject to a six months' notice to quit on either side. Far more capital is put into arable farms by both the partners. Formerly the value of the landlord's cheptel rarely rose above 401., and the tenant's contribution often fell below 101. Now both parties often contribute from 701. to 1001. apiece, besides the capital which the landlord has sunk in the improvement of his land. The métayer pays a necessary rent which represents half the land tax, half the seed corn, the rent of his house and private garden, his use of potatoes, milk, and wood, and the profits of his poultry yard, the larger share of interest on invested capital which belongs to the landlord. This rent varies from 2s. to ls, an acre. Subject to the deduction of this sum, or its equivalent in kind, the profits or produce of the farm are equally divided. The landlord contracts to keep the buildings in repair, to maintain the fire insurances, and to pay the taxes. The métayer agrees to keep the fences and implements in good order, to till the soil and tend the stock en bon père de famille. All forage crops grown on the farm are to be consumed on the premises; the milk is set aside, in the first instance, to rear the calves—the surplus belongs to the métayer. The cattle and other live stock are valued at the commencement of the tenancy; at the close of each year, or at the expiration of the lease, the profit or loss is shared
between the partners. All the expenses of cultivation fall upon the métayer. The course of cropping, the sale and purchase of stock, and the general plan of management are determined by agreement between the partners; in case of dispute the landlord's will prevails. In vine-growing districts the métayer, bordier, or méger, is often rather a maître valet than a métayer proper. The proprietor finds a vigneronnage complet, that is land, vines, buildings, implements, utensils, pays half the taxes, and defrays half the cost of the straw and poles; the tenant undertakes the culture of the vine, the vintage, and the operations of wine-making. The profits are divided upon terms which vary with each contract. The essential difference between the métayer and the maître valet is that the latter contributes nothing to the joint enterprise except his labour. He is a métayer in embryo; he occupies a lower step in the social ladder. He takes a farm for a year, and cultivates the soil under the direction of the landlord. He is paid a fixed sum in money, and a fixed proportion of the produce. He also shares in the success of the farm, receiving, for instance, a tenth of the fleeces or of the increase of the live stock. The system is very common, not only in the vineyards but on the arable farms of the south. Very often farms are taken by associations of métayers called personniers, or by companies of maitres-valets, who work under the supervision of their leader, or bourrat. Some of these associated farmers have cultivated the same land for many years in succession; and when they break up, the farm is
1 generally taken on by one of the old association.
Métayage is the most important, but by no means the only, modification of the ordinary relations of landlord and tenant which prevail in France. Two of the others might be studied, if space allowed, in their bearing upon the Irish land question. The domaine congéable of Brittany still finds sup ters, and prevails extensively in Finistère. Of the droit de marché of the Picard farmer, with its dark tale of agrarian crime and outrage, and its immemorial practice of boycotting land-grabbers or dépointeurs, we will only observe, as a coincidence, that it must have been familiar to every divinity student of Douai or St. Omer. But, for practical purposes, the condition and prospects of peasant proprietors and métayers are of greater interest to English agriculturists.
No one wiil deny that the system of peasant proprietors is socially advantageous. It affords a training to the rural population for which we in England have found no substi