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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/308

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The colonial latifundia gets broken up for the same economic reasons as that of the mother country. Whenever from the increase of population wheat-growing becomes more profitable than grazing, land rises in value, and vast sheep walks are subdivided into two-hundredacre farms, which are put under the plow. The transition may be retarded in some countries and altogether arrested in others. Nasse has shown that, in consequence of the moisture of the climate, there was in the sixteenth century a continual tendency in England to revert from agriculture to pasture. The light rainfall, high temperatures, and unfertilized soil will forever keep nine tenths of Australia under grass. Most of the mountainous north and the glacier-shaved portions of the south of New Zealand must be perpetual cattle runs and sheep walks. A century or perhaps centuries will pass before much of the light soil of Tasmania, hardly enriched by the scanty foliage of the eucalyptus, is sufficiently fertilized by grazing to grow corn. Rich alluvial or volcanic lands are put under the plow, without passing through the pastoral stage, as soon as markets are created by the advent of immigrants. There is a cry for farm lands. Companies that have bought large estates break them up into allotments. When they or other large landholders still resist pressure, the radical colonial legislature accelerates their deliberations by putting on the thumbscrew of a statute which confiscates huge cantles of their land. Or the colonial Government, if socialist-democratic, purchases extensive properties, which it breaks up into farms and communistic village settlements. Over wide tracts the agriculturist, great and small, takes the place of the pastoralist. He holds his lands under a variety of tenures. New South Wales, in its search for an ideal form, has flowered into fifteen varieties. Other colonies are stumbling toward it more or less blindly through a succession of annual statutes. Where land is abundant the tenure will be easy. In North America nominal quitrents were general; the system was long since introduced into South Africa, and it has lately been imported into New Zealand in spite of all previous experience to the effect that such rents can not be collected. Mr. Eggleston remarks that in the United States the tendency was to "a simple and direct ownership of the soil by the occupant." Since those days Henry George has come and (alas!) gone. A craze for the nationalization of the land buzzes in the bonnets of all who have no land. There is an equal reluctance on the part of colonial legislatures to grant waste lands as freeholds and on the part of purchasers to accept them on any other terms. Hence the constant effort to devise a tenure which shall reserve the rights of the colony and yet not oppress the tenant. One legislature has blasphemed into the "eternal lease," which would seem to be almost preferable to absolute ownership in a country subject to