Full Title: The Modern Land Steward; in which the Duties and Functions of Stewardship are considered and explained. With their Several Relations to the Interests of the Landlord, Tenant, and the Public. Including Various and Appropriate Information on Rural and Economical Affairs. By the Author of The New Farmer’s Calendar, &c. &c. London: Printed by C. Whittingham, . . . For H. D. Symonds, Paternoster-Row; Vernor and Hood, Poultry; and J. Wright, Piccadilly, 1801.
MODERN LAND STEWARD.
PREPARATORY to a discussion of the immediate subject of this work, it will not be inutile or irrelevant to make a few general observations on those great leading topics of political economy, which ought to be clearly and fundamentally understood by the lords and proprietors of the soil in every country, and on which it behoves their chief agents not to be, at least, totally uniformed.
The whole earth was intended by nature for the habitation of man, and to become the theatre of his unremitting industry. As the soil cannot be subdued and rendered productive, nor the arts, conveniences, and luxuries of life obtained, but by the labour of human hands, the number of its inhabitants is the first and grandest concern of a country. The utmost fertility of soil, and felicity of situation, unassisted by sufficient numbers of people, exhibit but a rough and imperfect view of the benefits of nature, impressing the observant and cultivated mind with sentiments of dissatisfaction and regret. Human industry it is, which must unfold, improve, and stamp a current value upon all natural productions. POPULATION is the chief wealth of a country, and every well-regulated state is rich, secure, and happy, in proportion to the number of its people.
Authors have taken great pains to alarm their own, and the apprehensions of their readers, with the resumed dangers of an excessive and burdensome population; a phenomenon which can never have existence, but in an arbitrary state of society, under which the common goods of life, and the means of living, are systematically monopolized. Where property is perfectly secured, and industry permitted its full scope of activity, and most extensive population will ever provide its own means of subsistence; and when the number of the people shall have reached that excess, that the extent of soil is no longer adequate to their maintenance, a voluntary emigration to uncultivated countries will prove the natural and effectual remedy. That advanced stage of population, which shall replenish the whole earth, and leave unto man neither sufficient subsistence, nor space for the exercise of his talents, must, under whatever favourable circumstances of cultivation, be at the distance of many ages; nor, on the presumption of such a case, would unnatural remedies be either allowable or effective. The same reasoning applies precisely to individual states; few of them have attained that high degree of population and prosperity of which the extent of their territory is capable. Unrestrained freedom alone it is, which can elevate them to that enviable height, for the natural inconveniences of which, the spontaneous operations of the same inestimable blessing will provide a remedy.
Of the unnatural and pretended remedies for an excessive population, the monastic institution stands shamefully prominent; a political infamy, under sanctified pretences, which may well bear a comparison with the detestable blot of onanism, and the emasculation of the species. As if no bounds could possibly be prescribed to human folly, there are men in this advanced age of the world, so totally uninformed on the beautiful theory of right, and the reciprocal and universal advantages of justice, as still to be hankering after the social benefits of the cloister! Whatever be the system, the contemplation of injustice, nothing can be more obvious than its want of necessity; yet wretched politicians, their brains teeming with the ignis fatuus of a spurious sagacity, not only forcible impose upon it a pretended necessity, but erect injustice itself into one of the cardinal virtues! . . .