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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 54.djvu/309

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THE EVOLUTION OF COLONIES.

earthquakes! But the tenure in the early days is unimportant. With a virgin soil yielding at first seventy and then regularly forty bushels to the acre, and high prices ruling, the farmer can stand any tenure. Seen at market or cattle show, his equine or bovine features and firm footing on mother earth suggest a sense of solidity in the commonwealth to which he belongs. He gives it its character. The legislature consists of his representatives. Laws are passed in his interest. He controls the executive. His sons fill the civil service. Judges sometimes come from his ranks, and lawyers easily fall back into them. He supports the churches and fills them. Small towns spring up in place of the pastoral villages to supply his wants. As the period of the Golden Fleece was the colonial age of gold, when Jason, the wool king, made a fortune, received a baronetcy, and, returning to the mother country, founded a county family and intermarried with the British aristocracy, so the agricultural stage is the colonial age of silver, in money as in morals. It lasted in England till well into the century, in Germany till the other day, in France till now. It is, in the main, the stage of contemporary colonies. What brings it to an end? The soil gets exhausted, prices fall, and a succession of wet seasons in New Zealand or of dry seasons in Australia or South Africa sends the farmer into the money market. Nearly every province of almost every colony gets mortgaged up to the hilt. The foot of the land agent is on the neck of the farmer, who becomes his tenant or serf—adscriptus glebæ as much as the Old English villeins who were the ancestors of the farmer, or the Virginia villeins who repeated in the seventeenth century the Old English status. But tenancy does not always arise out of bankrupt proprietorship. A capitalist may drain an extensive marsh (like that along the valley of the Shoalhaven River in New South Wales) and divide the rich alluvial soil into hundreds of profitable dairy farms. More inland marshes, like the Piako Swamp in New Zealand, have been so completely drained as to make the soil too dry to carry wheat, and so have swamped both capitalists and banker. Where the squatter owner keeps the land in his own hands, he may lease an unbroken-up tract for three or five years to a farmer who plows and fences it, takes off crops, pays a light rent of from five to fifteen bushels per acre, and leaves it in grass. On one tenure or another the whole colony gradually comes into cultivation.

The predominance of the agricultural interest is long threatened and at length shaken by the rise of the industrial stage. It is partly evolved from the pastoral and agricultural stages and partly independent. Nor do these stages at once and necessarily give rise to collective industry. In all young colonies where the population is