THE PROTECTIONISTS AT SEA.
Loan STANLEY, importuned by Mr. George Frederick Young for a declaration of opinion, duly declares that he has not given up his opinion in favour of Protection,—which indeed nobody supposed bun to have done ; but his explanation, if it were taken au pied de la lettre, is singular enough. In justifying his allusions to farm- ing. exertion, he dwells a great deal on the peculiarities of the dis- taut in which he spoke—its urban character, its soil, its access to markets ; as if Protection or Free-trade were, even in his estima- tion, topographical influences, like the earlier Pagan gods. Lord Stanley would worship Diana at Ephesus, Apollo at Delphos; eat black broth in Sparta, and nightingale's brains in Rome ; talk Protection at Saffron Walden, Free-trade at Bury. Such might be accepted as the implication of his letter. But of course he does not mean anything of that sort. What the letter, taken with the speech, does mean, we conceive to be this. Protection would be the best re- gime for agricultural England ; but as that is off the cards, you must play the best game open to you, which is that of agricultural improvement: in a word, if the vessel leaks, stick manfully to the pumps. Meanwhile, however, not quite sure of the moral effect of such counsel on the agricultural mind in raising or depressing its energies, still less certain of the political effect on the Conservative and Stanley interests, Lord Stanley does hesitate to be quite ex-
licit, or to make a perfectly unequivocal confession that the Pro- 'on on which he ceases to rely is virtually shelved.
Nor is he in any manner alone in this distraction of councils. The Morning Chronicle, which has contributed and is contributing such valuable materials towards a broad view of agricultural rela- tions, is carrying on a controversy as to the amount of capital that ought to be possessed and is possessed by farmers. The Chronicle had given currency to a statement, that Mr. Cayley Worsley, of East Grinstead, was cultivating his land with too little capital : whereupon Mr. Worsley replies that he had invested 4000/. in certain operations, but that he had by no means the equi- valent for that large investment in the shape of security for'his capital—by way of lease, certified compensation, or otherwise. So here we come round to the old standing recrimination of land- lord and tenant—the tenant accused of possessing insufficient capital, the landlord of giving altogether insufficient security; neither asseveration answering the other.
Indeed, both seem to be true. We do know, that in various districts the land is starved for want of culture and labour ; that in the same districts, able and willing labourers are out of work; and that such most unnatural divorce between land and labour is continued because the farmer has not the capital to bring them together. On the other hand, it is quite certain that no competent judge among capitalists would trust his capital in any operation where the security granted was so exceedingly slight and insufa. cient.
A writer in the editorial columns of the Times suggests a short cut out of the difficulty, by the substitution of green crops for white. As Bury is so happy upon green crops in an inferior soil and an urban market, why should not Semerset be equally happy on the same terms ? To follow out this doctrine thoroughly, agri- culture should transfer itself from corn to cabbages ; and the stout yeoman, instead of putting his trust in the wheat sheaf, should stand by the cauliflower. Ingenious economists have had much to say upon this point, and unquestionably it is worth the consi- deration of individual farmers ; who might always to be able to judge of that culture which would render land most profitable. But when the transfer is recommended as a national policy,—and the writer in the Times is making what is called a "dead set" at the reform,—one pauses to consider the effects of transforming the staple agriculture of the country into a vegetable garden for "the workshop of the world"! At the very least, it may be deemed cer- tain that such a step should not be taken without the amplest de- liberation.
Besides, some questions stand for earlier attention and solution. The crisis, no doubt, is approaching; but for that very reason it becomes more necessary than ever not to dogmatize on the sub- ject. Dogmatism is comparatively safe at a distance : a mariner may entertain very positive a priori notions about the Yarmouth labyrinth of shoals while he is smoothly sailing on the shore of Tahiti ; but when he is nearing that awkward coast, he will find it best to obtain some trustworthy insight, a posteriori' from prac- tical experience and a knowledge of the facts, into the channels which are speedy and safe. On approaching the shoals of agri- cultural reform under free trade, therefore, it behoves the agri- culturist to look at the chart—at the realities the more so as he is not isolated—is not only "farmer," but is realities; tenant, employ- er, and citizen.
Many questions, we say, press for anterior solution, many changes are imminent. Are rents at the proper ratio ? In a highly theoretical sense, rent is said to be the difference in value between lands of different degrees of fertility; and when the money-scale is adjusted to one " register " (as a musician might call it) of agri- culture, when free trade throws the lowest soils out of culture, is not the whole register lowered, and should not the money-scale be readjusted accordingly? But, you will say, competition—"supply and demand "—keeps it up: the number of acres in the country is fixed, but not the number of farmers ; the supply of eaves is fixed, the demand for farmers falls short of the supply; there is a glut in the farmer market, and the price of a farmer is depressed as com- pared with the price of a farm : witness the rise of rents concur- rent with the fall of agriculture. Landlords assert the decline and boast the rise : yet how can the two exist simultaneously, and not signify the utmost danger to the agricultural system, especially in conjunction with indifferent security for the investment of capital P In another sense rent is simply one portion of the produce, di- vided between producer (labourer), superintendent (farmer), and land-lender (landlord): is that proportion, at present, just and practicable P The landlord knows that he may often employ labour merely to keep the labourer "off the parish ; nay, he may be doing so at the very time 'when his farm would profit by labour if it could be so applied to the land with the aid of more capital as to take ad- vantage of the natural resources in the land. Give the farmer more capital, and he could add to the produce of the ceunfry at the sabre time that he could absorb some surplus labour." We use the current nomenclature ; though surplus labour, where the land lacks labour, is an absurd phrase. The right phrase would be unapplied labour : in the case supposed, it is unapplied for lack not of land but of capital.
Mr. Worsley proves that he had boldly expended a good deal of capital : but that is not the same as proving that he had expended enough. On the other hand, this capital question may very ad- vantageously be viewed a converse: instead of asking whether farmer has not insufficient capital, we may ask whether, regarding his capital as a fixed term, he has not too much land ? If -he has capital enough for a given quantity, but takes double that quan- tity, then the effect is, that he is profitlessly wasting his superin- tendence over wider space of soil—is keeping half his holding from others who might supply the deficient capital and employ the =applied labour. The converse, indeed, seems the most practical form in which to consider the question now.
We see some tangible signs of rather a remarkable social change, in which the " farmer " shall be converted into the acting fore- man or superintendent of the real capitalist ; and thus become the instrument for combining experience and capital. But before that can take place generally, the capitalist will exact much greater security of tenure than the mere farmer has been content to accept. These questions, we repeat, and others like them, stand practi- cally before the one of transferring English agriculture from corn to cauliflowers. We do not believe that farmers seek their curriculum of study in the columns even of the ablest journals; but what we deprecate is, that landlords should be diverted from practical questions which may agitate them and suggest doubtful if not disagreeable consequences, to this remoter and more pictur- esque question of green crops.