« السابقةمتابعة »
are not confined to them. To show the general likeness among these simple associations, founded by whatever race, in whatever country, and at whatever period of history, we may briefly cite two accounts, describing the settlements of Tatars in East Russia at the present day, and of English yeomen colonizing North America in the seventeenth century. In the magnificent treatise of Le Play (a collection of evidence on the various conditions of industrial society which we commend to the study of all political economists) * will be found a description of the social economy of the Bashkir village-communities in the forest clearings on the eastern slopes of the Ural. As belonging to a Tatar race whose original character is that of pastoral nomades, these Bashkirs represent, in an interesting manner, an early stage of settled life. During half the year they follow, on the mountains, their ancient pastoral habit, not wandering indeed at large, but the villagers of each settlement keeping to the summer pasture which now belongs to it. The otber half year is spent in the home village, and here each household has attained to absolute property in its house and immediately adjacent garden. But the arable land and the hayfields are in the intermediate state. It is true they are parcelled out among the families, but their original condition of common land is shown by the village council not only assigning to new families new plots from the village reserve, but actually taking away and throwing back into the reserve any plots on which a family has for several years raised no crop. With the social scheme of these simple and lazy half-nomade barbarians may be compared that which arose among a people of vastly different type. So well did the principle of the village-community seem adapted to the needs of new agricultural settlements, that it was adopted by the English emigrants who colonized New England. When a town was organized, the process was that the General Court granted a tract of land to a company of persons, who then proceeded so far to divide it as to assign to the individual proprietors their house-lots and tracts of meadow, while they retained the woodland and outlying pasture as the common property of the company. In the barbaric world, village-communities thus set on foot might have lasted for ages. But in New England the disintegrating influences of our modern social scheme, with its pressure of population, its tendency to change, and its habits of individuality, were fatal to this antique constitution. Within half a century the law had to limit the privilege of commonage to houses already in being, or to be
* See Quarterly, Review,' vol. cxxviii. p. 89.
afterwards erected with the consent of the town. The commoners thus became a kind of aristocracy, and the common lands were gradually divided up.
Sir Henry Maine aptly winds up his argument by citing this remarkable case as typical of the history of village-communities in ancient Europe and modern India, illustrating at once their origin, their arrangement, and the causes which lead to their ultimate dissolution.
Now in these modern accounts we find the key to one of the greatest facts of European history. The ancient Teutonic agricultural settlement of Northern Europe was, on the whole, made on the principle of the village-community. How it took shape in Scandinavia is well described by Hyltén-Cavallius, the Swedish ethnologist, in his account of the ancient land-tenure. From the oldest times, he says, and so long as the Gothic tribes remained half-nomade clans, all the land taken up remained as common and undivided clan-land. But when in time permanent agriculture came to be added to cattle-breeding and the shifting tillage of patches of fire-cleared land, they began gradually to divide that part of the tract which had previously been tilled as a whole as odal-land, but which, now separated into lots, became the heritage of the different households, what was not odal-land remaining undivided as the common pasture and woodland, and the enclosed but still undivided land likewise retaining the character of common property. The Scandinavian 'by,' or township, is a relic of the old Teutonic community. The village-commoners were originally a family, gradually formed into an independent group or tribe, and their whole enclosed tract was the tribe-land. This was long enjoyed in common, but at last was parcelled out in lots according to the number of households, which lots became heritable within the family, and were extremely subdivided. The out-mark of the township, on the other hand, continued to be used in common by the townsmen for pasture and supply of wood, and the bys, with their subdivided in-fields and undivided out-mark, took a character of partly maintained and partly broken-up commonty, which they have often kept to our own day.* Years ago Sir Walter Scott" met with remains of this old Scandinavian land-tenure in Shetland, and it is curious to see how the able lawyer and antiquary was puzzled by them, wanting, as he did, the key to decipher them by, the knowledge that they were relics of a primitive state of society fast falling away. Sir Henry Maine quotes an extract from his journal :
• I cannot get a distinct idea of the nature of the land-rights. The Udal proprietors have ceased to exist, yet proper feudal tenures seem
* G. O. Hyltén-Cavallius Wärend och Wirdarne, ett försök i Svensk Ethnologi.' Stockholm, 1863-8, part ii., p. 290.
ill understood. Districts of ground are in many instances understood to belong to townships or communities, possessing what may be arable by patches, and what is moor as a commonty pro indiviso. But then individuals of such a township often take it upon them to grant feus of particular parts of the property thus possessed pro indiviso. The town of Lerwick is built upon a part of the commonty of Sound; the proprietors of the houses having feu-rights from different heritors of that township, but why from one rather than other. . . . seems altogether uncertain,
The word ‘mark,' just mentioned in describing the 'out-mark' of the Scandinavian village, involves the leading idea of the whole Germanic land-system, to which the Scandinavian belongs. The Teutonic Township, as Sir Henry Maine defines it, was an organized, self-acting group of Teutonic families, exercising a common proprietorship over a definite tract of land, its mark, cultivating its domain on a common system, and sustaining itself by the produce. This tract was divided into three parts. • These three portions were, the Mark of the Township or Village, the Common Mark or Waste, and the Arable Mark, or cultivated area. The community inhabited the village, held the common mark in mixed ownership, and cultivated the arable mark in lots appropriated to the several families.' Though it need hardly be said that the organization of the ancient mark has long occupied the attention of historians and legists in Germany, it is especially through the recent series of researches by G. L. von Maurer* that its importance in explaining the facts of modern German land-tenure has been established. The • Allmende,' or * Allmand,' of the German townships is still used for tillage and pasture by the householders, under regulations little changed in principle for this thousand years and more. In the more backward parts of the country, especially, the vestiges of collective property are most abundant. A summary account of Von Maurer's conclusions will be found in Mr. Morier's paper in the volume of "Systems of Land Tenure in Various Countries,' recently published under the sanction of the Cobden Club. Instead of entering on this branch of the evidence, however, it will answer the purpose to speak of the remarkable traces of similar Teutonic land-laws surviving in our own English counties. Why the bearing of the facts in question was till lately overlooked is clear enough. It was hardly the fault of historians such as Palgrave, Kemble, or Freeman, who have kept clearly in view the fact that the early English proprietary-system was that of the mark or township. The question was, whether this ancient form of property had died out, and our legal text-books had led to the impression that this was * See the list of Maurer's works in Appendix II. to · Village-Communities.'
the case. It is not quite to the credit of historico-legal science in England, that it should have been left to Professor Nasse, of Bonn, to bring into prominent notice the proofs that local landholdings which our commentators have treated as incidental, and the intention of which they have explained, if at all, by superficial guesses, are in fact relics of the domains of English village communities, dating from before the Norman Conquest.
Such lands, when arable, are called common fields,' 'open fields,' shack lands,' 'intermixed lands,' &c. When in grass, they are often known as “lot meadows, or lammas lands. It is very
usual for the common fields' to be divided by green turf-baulks into three long strips. The several properties consisted of subdivisions of these strips, the principle of division being that each owner has his plot in each of the three strips. The purpose
of this division was that the common fields might not be tilled at the discretion of individual owners of parcels, but that the whole might be worked on the principle of the old three-field husbandry—each strip, for instance, bearing wheat one year, oats or beans the next, and lying fallow the third. In a general way, it may be said that individual ownership in such commonable lands only extends from seed-time to harvest, the whole body of owners, and sometimes other persons, having the right of pasture on the whole of one strip during its fallow year, and on the green baulks dividing the three fields (which often afforded a surface of many acres), as well as the right of shack' or pasturage the stubbles of the two tilled strips, after the crops have been
It seems seldom that the shares in the arable fields shift yearly from one owner to another, but this is more frequent in the meadows, which may be distributed by lot, or in rotation, among those entitled to appropriate and inclose them, the inclosures being generally removed after háy-harvest-sometimes on Old Lammas Day (August 13), by a kind of popular tumultuary assembly. It is needless to state minute details or exceptions as to these remarkable customs. But it must not be supposed that the examples of them are few and local, representing no general principle. Marshall, an eminent writer on agriculture about 1800, gives a general account of common-field township in England, and goes so far as to assert that a few centuries ago nearly the whole of the lands of England lay in an open, and, more or less, in a commonable state. Till comparatively recent years, such statements might still be made as that half Berkshire, Huntingdonshire, and Wiltshire were still in the state of commonable meadows, commons, and common fields. One of the largest of the common fields,' says Sir Henry Maine, was found in the immediate neighbourhood of Oxford ; and the grassy
baulks which anciently separated the three fields are still conspicuous from the branch of the Great Northern Railway which leads to Cambridge.' Looking at the history of the mark or township in Germany, Scandinavia, and our own country, it seems in great measure established that in England such commonable lands are remains of early township-lands, in the intermediate stage between common and individual property, while a great part at least of the waste land which has been inclosed during past centuries, or still lies as open common, was originally the out-mark of the village-community. Tracing the course of social history back through the feudal system, it appears that in England, as elsewhere, there was a time when the land was still owned by the proprietary group which cultivated it, a community whose social characteristics may still be studied, in forms more or less modified, in less advanced regions of the world.
If the whole problem of the history of these proprietary groups were that of following and accounting for the gradual ascendancy gained by the principle of individual ownership over that of community, the considerations involved in it would be comparatively simple. But in the actual course of events this is found intricately involved with another problem, one of the most complex as it is one of the most important of history, the process of feudalization, the subjection of the community to a chief or lord, and the transformation of the commoner into the lord's tenant. In most of the districts where society is, or has been, organized on a large scale on the system of village-communities, some more or less advanced stage of the feudalizing process has been reached. It is one of Sir Henry Maine's especial objects to show the importance of the study of the native tenures of British India as throwing light on this problem. The Indian village-community, at once an organized patriarchal society and an assemblage of co-proprietors, is the real unit of social and political organization. For various reasons this fact was for many years of our rule not sufficiently understood and acted on.
The system was strange to our early administrators, who happened also to begin their work in Bengal, a district where the old village-system had fallen into decay. And as in England the tendency of legal commentators, steeped in feudal tradition, was to ignore, and by ignoring to aid in suppressing the remains of the old township-organization, so in India the Brahminical code of Manu, in which the two leading ideas are the performance of religious rites and the maintenance of caste, threw into the background the native village-law, of which the constitution must be learnt by oral inquiry. The subject is not yet, despite of vigorous labour, thoroughly worked out, but an instructive