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128 book i: nations in themselves themselves in their profession. Can such a state fail of being powerful and happy? chapter vii Of the Cultivation of the Soil. Of all the arts, tillage, or agriculture, is doubtless the most useful and necessary, as being the source whence the nation derives its subsistence. The cultivation of the soil causes it to produce an infinite increase; it forms the surest resource, and the most solid fund of riches and commerce , for a nation that enjoys a happy climate. This object then deserves the utmost attention of the government. The sovereign ought to neglect no means of rendering the land under hisjurisdiction as wellcultivatedaspossible.Heoughtnottoalloweither communities or private persons to acquire large tracts of land, and leave them uncultivated. Those rights of common, which deprive the proprietor of the free liberty of disposing of his land,—which will not allow him to inclose and cultivateitinthemostadvantageousmanner,— those rights, I say, are inimical to the welfare of the state, and ought to be suppressed, or reduced to just bounds. Notwithstanding the introductionof privatepropertyamongthecitizens,thenationhasstillaright to take the most effectual measures to cause the aggregate soil of the country toproducethegreatestandmostadvantageousrevenuepossible. The government ought carefully to avoid every thing capable of discouraging the husbandman, or of diverting him from the labours of agriculture. Those taxes,—those excessive and ill-proportioned impositions , the burthen of which falls almost entirely on the cultivators,— and the oppressions they suffer from the officers who levy them,— deprive the unhappy peasant of the means of cultivating the earth, and depopulate the country. Spain is the most fertile and the worstcultivated country in Europe. The church there possesses too much land; and the contractors for the royal magazines, being authorised to purchase at a low price all the corn they find in the possession of a peasant,abovewhat§77. The utility of tillage.§78. Regulations necessary in this respect— For the distribution of land.§79. For the protection of husbandmen. chapter vii 129 is necessary for the subsistence of himself and his family, so greatly discourage the husbandman, that he sows no more corn than is barely necessary for the support of his own household. Hence the frequentscarcity in a country capable of feeding its neighbours. Another abuse injurious to agriculture is the contempt cast upon the husbandman. The tradesmen in cities,—even the most servile mechanics ,—the idle citizens,—consider him that cultivates the earth with a disdainful eye: they humble and discourage him: they dare to despise a profession that feeds the human race,—the natural employment of man. A little insignificant haberdasher, a tailor, places far beneath him the beloved employment of the first consuls and dictators of Rome! China has wisely prevented this abuse: agriculture is there held in honour ; and to preserve this happy mode of thinking, theemperorhimself, followed by his whole court, annually, on a solemn day, sets his hand to the plough, and sows a small piece of land. Hence China is the best cultivated country in the world: it feeds an immense multitude of inhabitants who at first sight appear to the traveller too numerous for the space they occupy. The cultivation of the soil deserves the attention of the government, not only on account of the invaluable advantages that flow from it, but from its being an obligation imposed by nature on mankind. The whole earth is destined to feed its inhabitants; but this it would be incapable of doing, if it were uncultivated. Every nation is then obliged by the law of nature to cultivate the land that has fallen to its share; and it has no right to enlarge its boundaries, or have recourse to the assistanceof other nations, but in proportion as the land in its possession is incapable of furnishing it with necessaries. Those nations (such as the ancient Germans , and some modern Tartars), who inhabit fertile countries, but disdain to cultivate their lands, and chuse rather to live by plunder, are wanting to themselves, are injurious to all their neighbours, and deserve to be extirpated as savage and pernicious beasts. There are others, who, to avoid labour, chuse to live only by hunting, and their flocks. This might, doubtless, be allowed in the first ages of the world, when the earth, without cultivation, produced more than wassufficienttofeed its small number of inhabitants. But at present, when the human race§80. Husbandry ought to be placed in an honourable light.§81. The cultivation of the soil, a natural obligation. 130...


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