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them for actual residence, and on his amply compensating the occupying bauer.
The extent of these fiefs varied according to the quality of the soil and other circumstances, and ranged from 40 to 100 acres. A similar uncertainty prevailed in the exact quality of the tenure. Some of the fiefs, as in the case of English copyholds, descended to the heirs of the occupant, but subject to the right of the lord to select from among such heirs the one who might to him seem most likely to cultivate the farm to advantage. In some instances a right to exact a fine or laudemium from the new occupant was recognised in the lord. The bauer generally had, on the other hand, a clear life interest in the land, and could not be evicted from his holding except on certain specific grounds. These were—1, manifest incompetence; 2, insubordination ; 3, notoriously evil habits ; 4, a refusal to perform the customary services. In all cases of eviction the lord was bound to remunerate the peasant for all improvements. He was further bound to keep the buildings in repair, and support the aged and destitute. The servitudes and easements followed the custom of the manor and were proportional to the extent and quality of the holding. The lord was further bound to keep such fiefs constantly occupied by persons of the bauer class; he could, however, prevent the marriage and dictate the trade or occupation of his vassals, and exercised the most ample powers of a civil and criminal jurisdiction over them. Many of these incidents, however, it must be remembered, were common to other tenures, as well as to this particular bauer class. In the declaratory edict of 29th May 1816, great pains are taken to distinguish these quasi-fiscal holdings from the many other species of farms that existed. Independently of the particular class of vassals here alluded to, the agricultural population consisted in part of Freibauer's, or Freeholders, who owed their freedom either to manumission, or to their having, with the sanction of the lord, entered upon deserted holdings. There was also a numerous class of villagers, or persons associated together, and cultivating a certain quantity of land in common. These village communities (Dorf Gemeinde) have always constituted a very peculiar feature in the rural economy of Germany, and are remnants of the spirit, if not of the practice, of the ancient Teutonic colonists described by Tacitus. Complete uniformity of cultivation must, of course, be observed in communitiesso associated together, in order to prevent the cattle of some from trespassing on the growing crops of others. But the restrictions unavoidably growing out of such a system of joint culture became in time, as among ourselves, so onerous and injurious to the general progress of agriculture, that one of the primary objects of these edicts was
VOL. LXXXVI. NO. CLXXIII.
to secure their abolition. These small village corporations were generally fiefs either of the crown or of some neighbouring lord, or else under the tutelage of some religious foundation. It will be scarcely necessary to observe, that, besides the several classes of tenants and farmers, of whom we have been speaking, there existed a very considerable number of farm-servants and labourers (Gesinde,) who received their remuneration either wholly in food and clothing, or partly thus and partly in land. This hasty sketch of the territorial economy of Prussia will enable our readers more easily to comprehend and follow the successive changes which ensued. Before we enter on our précis of the earlier agrarian enactments, it may be worth while to state that the first Domesday-book of Prussia was undertaken by the father of Frederick the Great, in 1717, and that the several hold. ings were there entered and classified. This book has since then formed the basis of every fiscal operation.
The agrarian enactments of the early Prussian rulers, were mainly directed against the fraudulent policy of such nobles and landowners, as ruined and evicted their bauers, and incorporated their lands with their own. The incentives to such a heartless course were twofold. In the first place, the high price of grain consequent on continued wars, rendered it possible to derive large profits from more extensive corn culture; in the second, they thereby evaded the fiscal responsibility attaching to the peasant's fief. We consequently find every successive ruler, from Joachim the First down to Frederick William the Third, torturing his ingenuity to discover means of counteracting the cupidity of his vassals. The Great Elector, in 1667, threatens to inflict the severest pains and penalties on all who should . persist in evicting
peasants from their holdings, or refuse to instal others, who have offered to occupy them; so acting with a view to the sole enjoy'ment of their waste meadow and arable land. In the edict of 14th March 1739, we find Frederick the First vowing vengeance on all, from the Margrave down to the meanest noble, who • should dare at their peril to evict arbitrarily, without good legal 'grounds, any bauer from his holding, or permit such fief, when vacated through death, war, or any other cause, to remain unoc. cupied; or presume to consolidate such holding with the seig
neurial domains. These minatory effusions were occasionally varied by paternal expostulations in behalf of the unfortunate serfs against the oppressive exactions of their noble masters. It would seem, however, that in neither particular were the royal admonitions much heeded. Looking through the hundreds of edicts that constitute the early agrarian annals of Prussia, we are far from favourably impressed with the conduct of the noble
landowners either towards their vassals or their lord. The morbid tenacity with which they clung to the most absurd and profitless of their barbarous privileges; their entire indifference to the wellbeing of those whose destiny they controlled; and their utter neglect of the general interests of the state, obtrude themselves very painfully on our notice during the perusal. They seem to bave faithfully preserved their taste for the object of the earliest predilection which history assigns them: materia munificentiæ per bellum et raptus. Our surprise is therefore as slight as our regret, when we learn that no less than seventy persons were on one occasion executed for highway robbery on a single day, without distinction of rank or station.
The accession of Frederick the Great to the throne imparted new life to agriculture. His zeal for its promotion is evinced by the vigour and variety of his measures. Finding his admonitions in behalf of the bauers as little attended to as those of his predecessors, he had recourse to a novel and striking expedient. He forth with imposed an annual fine of 1000 thalers on each lord, for every fief found unoccupied, and a further fine on the rural functionary intrusted with the surveillance of these holdings. His commissioners were likewise authorised to seize as much of the lord's stock as might be needed for the repairs of such tenements as were found in decay, without regard to 'any one consideration on earth.' It would be tedious to enumerate his manifold efforts for the general promotion of agriculture. From among the most striking and least efficient, we mey select the vast sums which he lavished, in the shape of loans, on the owners of estates. This extraordinary profusion is the n ore remarkable, from its being in glaring contrast with his ordinary parsimony. The extent, to which this most primitive of all remedies for agrarian evils was carried by him, will appear by a single instance. Within twenty years from the conclusion of the Seven Years' War, he had expended nearly a million sterling in this way in the province of Pomerania alone; which was equivalent to conferring upon it an immunity from the land-tax for twenty years. That these largesses rather stimulated the indolence than the activity of the noble proprietors, seems now universally admitted ; and it is a fact, which may serve for a useful
But the most important measure, and one, the effects of which are still very generally felt throughout the kingdom, was the establishment, under government control, of provincial mortgage banks. They were called Landschaften, from the circumstance of the parties concerned in their organisation being members of the Landschaft or provincial diets. These institutions, introduced at the suggestion of an intelligent merchant of the
name of Bühring—have unquestionably conferred great advantage on all engaged in agriculture. Their primary object was, by furnishing the landowner with a certain amount of capital, to rescue him from the hands of usurious creditors. The original principles, on which it was suggested that they should be established, were nearly as follows :
Such of the owners of estates as pleased, were to hypothecate them to a joint-stock bank, and receive in notes, of not less than 500 thalers (L.75 each), one-half or two-thirds of the value of their lands, as ascertained by official valuation. These notes or coupons were to be payable au porteur, and to bear interest from day to day. The bank charged one per cent higher interest for its advances than the notes bore. This difference was to be applied to cover the expenses of management, and to form a sinking fund, to be employed in the gradual redemption of the estates. It would be, it was suggested, unnecessary to insert in the notes either the name or designation of any particular borrower, or that of his estate, inasmuch as the several estates of all mort. gagers were equally liable to the individual demands of each bolder of a note. In the event of any irregularity on the part the borrower in the payment of the interest, his estates were to be forth with sold. Either the government or the bank of Prussia might undertake to convert these notes, on demand, into cash; but this would be so rarely necessary, that only a very small amount of ready money would ever be needed. The advances of the bank were to be applied, under its control, to the payment of incumbrances. The first of these institutions was commenced in 1772, in the province of Silesia, where the estates of the nobles were, in consequence of the ravages of the war, in a more desperately embarrassed state than elsewhere.
The Silesian experiment proved perfectly successful, and the Landschaft was soon in so flourishing a condition, as to be enabled to reduce its rate of interest to creditors from five to four per cent. During the first eighteen years of its existence, it had extended its operations to the amount of fourteen millions of thalers, or upwards of L.2,000,000 sterling. Its example was soon followed in other provinces of the monarchy; and the collective advances of these several banking associations amounted at the period of Stein's accession to office, in 1807, to no less than L.8,000,000 sterling. Of this large sum, about three-fifths had already found their way into the hands of capitalists, or the coffers of public institutions and charitable bodies. The remaining two-fifths continued to serve as a very popular paper currency. Two serious errors had, however, been committed, which considerably impaired both the credit and efficiency of
these banks. In the first place, the valuation of the estates had been too high, having been based on calculations of the profits realised during the war period ; secondly, the wise provision for securing a sinking fund' had been neglected. But both these errors were subsequently repaired; and it is but justice to the inventor of the system to state, that time has fully corroborated the correctness of his calculations. Indeed, most of the recent amendments in the working of these institutions, have been little more than a recurrence to the principles originally laid down by bim for their guidance. So firmly had these banks taken up their position in the monetary world, in the years 1837—1840, that ihey were all enabled to reduce their rate of interest to three and a half
At that period the amount of their collective notes, of from twenty-five to one hundred thalers each, had increased to L.12,000,000 sterling. Notwithstanding this large increase, and the gradual reduction of the interest to but three and a half per cent, the price of these securities, or Pfandbriefe, as they are termed, has been higher,* and subject to less fluctuation in the European market, than that of almost any state securities. One great source of the preference they have long enjoyed in Prussia, unquestionably, is their enabling the poorer classes to invest their small savings in a shape which offers all the security of a mortgage on land without its cost.
Another reason may perhaps be the feeling, that a private creditor might be compelled to make good his liability, whereas a government is not subject to the like necessity: while no eventuality, in case of a war, would seriously interfere with the rights of the holders of these securities. Mr M.Culloch considers them to have been founded with the best intentions; but he fears that they offer dangerous facilities for contracting debts, from the improbability of the principal ever being demanded, as long as the interest is regularly paid. We cannot, however, find that these apprehensions have been justified by the practical working of these insti
* On the 1st May last, the prices of these securities, not withstanding the extraordinary derangement of the money market, in consequence of railway liabilities, were as follows:Prussian State Debt
3} per cent 93 West Prussian Pfandbriefe
91 East Prussian