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to pay five centimes each as their contribution to the State. He says 'getting rid of one order of landlords and their rents, they have subjected themselves to another, though invisible order, the mortgagees, and to their heavier and more rigid rents.'
M. Lafargue in his Relèvement de l'Agriculture says that 'the condition of agriculture brought about by our subdivision of land and the distance from each other of the morsels belonging to one owner, condemn a man to work such as animals and machines ought to execute, and not only reduce him to the level of a beast, but curse the soil with sterility.' Mr. Rowland Prothero writes that the French proprietor is worse housed and worse fed than the English labourer. His cottage is generally a single room with a mud floor, in which he and his family and his live stock live, eat, sleep and die. From morning till night his toil is excessive and prolonged; female labour is the rule; children are continuously employed, while his little property is often mortgaged. A. Young talks of the magic of property; but there is such a thing as the demon of property. The French peasant, in his desire to add to the little property, hoards and then mortgages his property to buy more, and is often thus prevented from cultivating what he has to the best advantage. Speak to a French peasant proprietor, and I have spoken to many of them, and he will at once tell you of the hardness of his lot, of the pinching and scraping which is necessary to keep the little land together, and of the constant anxiety of his life.'
In Italy, under a system of peasant proprietors, we are told by the Times that the growth of debt, want of credit, scarcity of labour-brought about by emigration-the ruin and gradual disappearance of peasant proprietors, all causes which act and react upon each other, have conduced to a state of things which grows increasingly worse each year'; and Baron Sonnino says agriculture is perishing, the country is being depopulated, losing the most healthy and vigorous of its labourers, and the portion of the rural population which does not seek exile plunges deeper in misery every day.' Even in Denmark, which is supposed to be the paradise of the small holder, we are told by Mr. E. A. Pratt that though nominally the peasant proprietors who constitute so important a section of the Danish people are freeholders, practically they are saddled with a mortgage debt estimated at 60,000,000l., and representing 55 per cent. of the value of their farms, with buildings, stock and implements'; and the Scottish Agricultural Commission reported that the occupying owners of Denmark were, as a rule, little better off than a good ploughman on a Scotch farm.
The truth is that the advocates of ownership are more concerned with the political than the economic aspect of the question. They are in favour of using State credit to establish a body of occupying owners who will form a 'bulwark against Socialism' and a useful addition to the ranks of Tory voters. They are also influenced by the fact that their Tariff Reform policy offers little, if any, benefit to the agricultural interest. They have, therefore, cast about for a land policy which is to be the country cousin of Tariff Reform, and which they hope will be the sugar coating to induce the agricultural voter to swallow the bitter pill of Protection.
The only persons who would benefit from the establishment of a system of occupying ownership by means of State credit would be the present race of landlords, owing to the fact that sitting tenants endowed with the loan of public money on easy terms would naturally give a larger price for their holdings than any other purchaser; and I am certain that there must be many members of the Unionist party who regard with great misgivings the adoption of a policy which is not wanted, which is alien to the traditional system of this country, which is opposed by practically every non-political student of the question, and which would open the door to a huge amount of land jobbing with public money.
What the farmer really needs is security of tenure. That is the policy of the Liberal party, and every attempt to carry it out is met by the persistent opposition of the Tories. They fought compensation for disturbance in the Land Tenure Bill of 1906 with the same vigour and with the same lack of success that they have opposed every step in the direction of increased security for farmers. Now the time has come for a further advance. The Government propose to give farmers whose holdings are sold the right to claim an extended notice, enabling them to remain in their farms for two years at least from the date of the notice to quit, which will go far to mitigate the hardship incurred in those cases where a farmer has to leave his farm within a few months of the sale of the estate. Personally, I look forward to the day when every tenant farmer shall be entitled to claim that any dispute with his landlord as to the rent paid for his holding shall be settled by arbitration; and when every agreement for the letting of a farm shall contain a clause allowing the tenant to vote as he likes, to pray where he likes, and, subject to reasonable covenants, to farm as he likes, and providing that no notice to quit should be given on account of difference of political or religious opinions.
PAULINE DE BEAUMONT
SOME Frenchwomen are typical of an age, an art, a movement. La Reine Margot sums up the splendid, generous, non-moral, spacious-minded Renaissance. The Grande Mademoiselle, that great Rubens figure, with her helmet and her floating scarlet draperies, her clouds and spears and cupids, thrones it above her generation. Madame de Staël on the one hand, and Madame Roland on the other, embody the French Revolution-its ceaseless talkativeness, its eloquence, its violent self-absorption, its remorseless logic; Madame Récamier, with her genius for listening and her unerring mental sympathies, was the soul of the Salon; and there are other women, the most attractive-subtler beings, half forgotten-who are found off the high-road loved by literary tourists and history-trippers, and strewn with their papers (or ought we to say documents?)-figures that linger in the by-paths of history and are known but to a few. These few love them. Charles Lamb says that the name of Michael Drayton has a finer relish to his ear than that of Shakespeare. And this personal touch it is that we feel in our relations with those beings of the past whom we have made our own. Such a figure-more so almost than perhaps any other-is that of Pauline de Beaumont, the woman who loved Chateaubriand and was, for a space, beloved of him; the friend of Joubert, the critic and confidante of André Chénier and of Madame de Staël; the centre of the knot of distinguished men and women who gathered round her between 1799 and 1802 in her little salon of the Rue Neuve du Luxembourg, where, for the last two years, Chateaubriand reigned supreme. She had lived through the French Revolution, had lived through it against her will, for that awful earthquake had taken every near relation she had. It ruined her health, it destroyed her faith, it darkened her soul, it may be said to have shortened her life.
She only lived for thirty-five years. And she had about her the fitful melancholy, the kind of elusive grace, of one who was destined to spread her wings early-whose foot hardly learned to tread the earth. Her friends called her 'the Swallow,' and there was indeed something light and intangible about her, something that, living in the cold, did not forget the sun, longed for it, made for it, never reached it. Hers was an intimate charm, unsuited
to the big world—the charm also of a character of contrasts delicately interwoven passion and calm, ardour and unbelief, tenderness and bitterness, playful serenity and heart-searching tragedy. There is something arresting in a young woman whose favourite books were Plato's Phaedo, Voltaire's Letters, Tristram Shandy, and the History of Port Royal. 'I like,' she said, 'the mind to be a Jansenist, and the heart just a little bit of a Molinist.' At one moment she seems quite simple; turn over the page and she baffles you. A friend, a poet, once gave her a seal engraved with an oak. A nothing agitates me, but nothing shakes me' were the words that he put upon it, and she kept them as her motto.
Pauline de Montmorin was born in 1768, the same year in which, a few months later, René de Chateaubriand also saw the light. Pauline's father came of the old family of the St. Hérems, one of whom, the Governor of Auvergne, had refused to carry out Charles the Ninth's orders to massacre the Huguenots at the time of St. Bartholomew's Eve.
M. de Montmorin, Pauline's father, was no unworthy descendant of the Governor. He was a man of some importance in his own day—rather as the ally of brilliant men than as a light on his own account. He was the great friend of Lafayette, the colleague of Necker and Mirabeau, a strong Royalist, who saw clearly the foibles of royalties. He succeeded Vergennes as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the palmy days of Louis the Sixteenth, and held for a time one of the chief aristocratic salons of Paris, aristocratic in the sense of a day (say 1787) when aristocrats were themselves evoking the abstract ideas, which later, put in practice, were to kill them; when they could not get on without men of letters; when they worshipped philosophy-or perhaps philosophers a day of half-dead faith and a science only half born, when there was no touchstone for truth, when superstitions were taken for religion, and Mesmer became a high priest; when, indeed, the world seemed but just to have turned twenty, and to regard every subject as open to discussion. They believed all things, or, rather, all things that they did not disbelieve-which comes to much the same thing, for they disbelieved so ardently that their disbeliefs amounted to convictions. They believed in creeds, in common sense, in the existence of poverty. They believed in Fraternity, in Equality, in themselves, in Sensibility and Reason, and a Return to Nature and the Perfectibility of Matter. They almost believed in their own permanence upon the earth. One day Condorcet, surrounded by a group of Encyclopaedists and ladies, among them Pauline de Beaumont, worked himself up till in a flow of eloquence he had all but proved that science would conquer death and ensure eternal life here to men. 'Of what use
would that be,' asked a lady, 'unless there were eternal youth also?' Her comment was more of an epigram than she knew. Big conceptions and light-heartedness held divided sway over the years before the Revolution. Yet they were not the peasanthunting, brocaded villains of tradition, these nobles. Many of them were high-minded men with lofty aims and limited imaginations, blind to the evils of absenteeism from their estates and guilty of little more than the fault which has so often ruined. their nation-enslavement to the charms of Paris, the sacrifice. to Paris of France.
It was among men of this higher stamp that Pauline de Beaumont moved when she came home from her convent school. Moderate Monarchists, philosophical politicians, idealists of all sorts frequented the Montmorin Salon. There was a good sprinkling of pamphleteers and economists, chief among them the fiery little free-trading Abbé Morellet, with his brand-new theories about the corn laws. There was more than a sprinkling of the highest rank, for Madame de Montmorin was lady-in-waiting to Mesdames the aunts of the King. And there were poets-Alfieri, the silent, and André Chénier, the dreamer of freedom; and celebrated ladies-Charles Edward's widow, Madame d'Albany, and the ubiquitous Madame de Staël, and a dozen others. With these and their coruscations we are not concerned, except as they circled round the frail form in their midst. In later years Joubert compared Pauline to a little figure from Pompeii, so light that she seemed to float above the earth. She had no beauty, but a subtle intelligence gave a strange piquancy to her face.
Madame de Beaumont's countenance [wrote Chateaubriand in later days] was rather plain than pretty. It was worn and pale; her eyes, shaped like almonds, would perhaps have sent forth too much brilliance, had not an extraordinary gentleness half veiled her glances, making them shine languidly.
It is not surprising to hear that the owner of looks such as these was fastidious. To very few among her father's guests did she give her intimacy: only to one woman, the tempestuous Madame de Stael, whom all women adored-unless they hated her. To no more than two among the men to her cousin, guide, philosopher and lifelong friend François de Pange, a philosophical thinker, a kind of Arthur Hallam of his day; and to the doomed poet, André Chénier, already, for us, overshadowed by the guillotine, so near and so unsuspected; the poet who made her at once the confidante of his love affairs and the critic of his poems to the lady. She cared with a kind of passion for his lyrics. In after times she could repeat them page after page by heart to Joubert. But her admiration did not blind her. She possessed, indeed, from the outset the critical gift-the gift of vision; of the true enthusiasm