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RENT OF LAND.
Difference between the Practical and Scientific Inquirer-Analogy between Rent and the Interest of Money-Origin of the Appropriation of Land-Increase of Cultivation with the Increase of Population-Effects produced on Rent and Prices by Cultivation extending from richer to poorer Soils-Dr. Anderson's Theory of Rent-Rent increases with the Increase of Capital and Industry-Component parts of Rent-The Machinery of Agriculture less perfect than that of Manufactures-Rent of Land determined by the Value of Produce, and the Value of Produce determined by the Cost of raising it on the poorest Soils-Tithe, Poor-rate and Land-tax fall on Landlords-Abolition of Rent would not render Corn cheaper, nor Wages higher; it would only put Farmers in the places of their Landlords.
THE objects are widely different which engage the attention of the practical man and the scientific inquirer. Ask a farmer what rent is, or why he pays
manufacture, the following may be stated as the proportions per cent. which materials and wages bear to each other.
"Great as is the proportion which wages bear to the direct
cost of manufacturing these articles, it must never be forgotten,
a higher rent than his neighbour, he shakes his head, and smiles at the simplicity of the querist. Ask him again how rent originated, or how it came to pass that Lord Acre charges a yearly sum for the use of his land, and he is still more astonished at such apparently futile and irrelevant interrogatories. If the farmer be of an ingenuous and patient disposition, and you a monied person, he may seek to enlighten your understanding by stating what he conceives an analogous case, asking, in his turn, why you charge Mr. Needy interest for a loan of money. "Rent and interest," he may allege, "have the same origin. You have the money to lend as Lord Acre has his land to let it is unimportant how you got your money, as it is how his lordship got his estate: it might be acquired by descent, by industry, by dexterity, or by violence; it is all one. The law says it is yours, and the law is the arbiter of right. Mr. Needy can
that by far the greater part of the price of the material itself consists of wages; and, consequently, that almost the entire value of our steel goods may be said to consist of the wages of labour."-pp. 30-32.
His lordship has not stated the proportion which labour forms of the expense of raising corn. From the inquiries of the Board of Agriculture it appears that in the cultivation of arable land wages are about equal to the rent paid to the landlord, and about one-fourth of the total outgoings of the farmer in rent, tithe, taxes, rates, seed, manure, interest of capital, &c. (Lowe's State of England, p. 152.) It has been stated on good authority (Mr. Place), that an increase of 1s. per head per day to every husbandry labourer above 18 years of age with a proportional rise to all below that age, and to women employed, amounts to a sum greater than the whole rental received from land.
employ the money he borrows in trade, so tha it not only yields a profit sufficient for his maintenance, but to pay the interest. It is the same with my farm; the produce is sufficient to defray all outgoings, and to leave a surplus adequate to my support, and the payment of my landlord. As to my neighbour's farm being lower rented, the reason is, it affords scantier returns with the same outlay; same as if the returns of trade were less, the interest of money would be less or if, in place of lending your money you traded with it yourself, the interest would be merged in the profit; just as Lord Acre would lose his capacity of landlord by turning farmer and cultivating his own domain."
The analogy between land and capital appears nearly perfect, and rent is the interest paid by the tenant to the landlord for the use of the soil. this conclusion, however, it may be objected, that capital is the reward of anterior industry, but land is the gift of nature alike to all mankind. And what, it may be replied, was the gift worth as it first came from the donor. Its value is as much the creation of industry as capital; and probably it was never thought worth appropriating by man, till it had been adapted by labour to his wants.
Were land unlimited in quantity and uniform in fertility, it would yield no rent; it would fetch no price, any more than air or water. The fertile plain of the Pampas, extending for hundreds of miles across the continent of America, is without landlord and tenant, and yields no rent to any body. Men
buy only an article that is scarce, not that which is open to all, and so abundant as to be adequate to their utmost desires. Let land be limited in quantity, or disproportioned to the wants of the inhabitants, and it then begins to have a value, and the question immediately arises, whose shall it be? First occupancy, he who first discovered it, or set his foot upon it, seems to have the strongest claim; or if this be disallowed, he who first cleared it of wild animals, or in any way improved it by his labour, would have the best title: or perhaps the question of ownership would be determined on the principle of an enclosure act, by the apportionment of the land among all the existing claimants.
The most ancient account of the appropriation of an unsettled territory is that recorded of Lot and Abram. When their flocks became so numerous that strife arose between their herdsmen for the possession of pasture-ground, Abram proposed an amicable division of the country, and, addressing Lot, said, "Is not the whole land before thee? Separate thyself, I pray thee, from me. If thou wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or, if thou depart to the right hand, then I will go to the left." This proposal being accepted, they parted, Lot journeying eastward, and Abram dwelling in the land of Canaan.
In whatever mode land may have been originally appropriated, two consequences would follow it; first, the question of ownership would be set at rest; whoever joined the community would be bound by
the settlement previously agreed upon, and could only obtain land by conveyance from the original partitioners. The claim of a new-comer to a share of the soil would thus be cut off; but his loss would perhaps be more than compensated to him, by the advantage of being born later, and entering into a state of society which at least had made some progress in the establishment of order, industry, and the rights of property.
The second result of appropriation would be, that land would begin to have a value; in other words, those who joined the community subsequent to the partition, and had no land, would be willing to buy it of those who had, or to give their labour, or other equivalent for the use of it. In this manner, rent would originate; the quantity of land being limited but there being no limit to the increase of claimants, disputes would arise as to ownership, when land became scarce; this being settled by a division of the land among the existing inhabitants, rent would ensue, as a necessary consequence of a subsequent increase in the numbers of the community.
The best land would doubtless be first occupied, and, if the quality were uniform, the rent would be uniform. If the population increased, the produce of the land first brought into cultivation might become inadequate to their support, and it would be necessary to resort to soils of an inferior description, or which required a greater expenditure of labour to raise from them an equal quantity of food. Should population continue further to increase, the necessity