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1849 Econ/Des

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Matthew, P. Improved Management of Landed Property. Gardeners’ Chronicle and Agricultural Gazette Sept 22 1849, p.604

(Article printed in issue of Sept 22)
Presumably influenced by the writings of Adam Smith, Matthew believed in free competition and free trade (see parts of Emigration Fields), and saw the landlord-tenant relationship as lacking the former. Matthew’s solution was to introduce a sense of competition via annual prizes, sweepstakes, etc.:

The subscriber’s solution of the landlord’s problem is, to make the utmost use of rivalry of excellence, in addition to the common stimulus of profit. In the first place, the tenantry of each estate to be induced to keen competition of good management and value of produce, by annual prizes and encouragements afforded by the landlord, and perhaps by sweepstakes of their own; while, again, the landlords of each district should compete in superiority of tenantry, tenant-improvement, high cultivation of property, superior farm-steading accommodation, &c. This might be further extended to shire competition, and by the tenantry to the working men upon their farms. There is now an actual necessity for exertion.

The article contains a reference to design with regards to human nature:

In endeavouring to solve this problem, it has occurred to the undersigned that tenant, as well as landlord, improvement, could be immeasurably forwarded by the landlord availing himself properly of the principle of emulation — the desire to excel in competition implanted in our nature for wise ends, but too often perverted to useless or evil objects; whereas, in the contention here meditated, the loser even would be a winner — intellectually, physically, morally, and substantially.

The key phrase here is “the desire to excel in competition implanted in our nature for wise ends”, implying the involvement of some higher intelligence or purpose.

This article was of sufficient interest to have been picked up by at least one British Newspaper – the article is repeated verbatim in the Southern Reporter and Cork Commercial Courier, 27 September 1849, p.4 col.7:

The full text of the article follows:

Improved Management of Landed Property.— The business or calling of a landlord has not been cultivated in this country to that perfection which it is capable of attaining. It is an axiom in industrial economy that no calling, under a monopoly, can advance to that perfection it will reach under free competition. The proper business of a landlord is not in farming himself, but to improve his estate and means in the highest possible degree through his tenantry. His tenants are his proper industrial agents. As a general rule, he can only work to good and gainful purpose through instrumentality; and as they are possessed of sufficient capital, skill, and industry, so will improvement go on, and the value of his property be increased. The landlord problem then is — “What are the most efficient means of Tenant-improvement?” In North Britain the solution of this problem will in general be given — “Improving leases to tenants of skill and capital.” In endeavouring to solve this problem, it has occurred to the undersigned that tenant, as well as landlord, improvement, could be immeasurably forwarded by the landlord availing himself properly of the principle of emulation — the desire to excel in competition implanted in our nature for wise ends, but too often perverted to useless or evil objects; whereas, in the contention here meditated, the loser even would be a winner — intellectually, physically, morally, and substantially. Excitement is a necessary food of the mind — is the ruling appetite of human nature. Under proper arrangements and systematic organisation as much ardour, keen rivalry, and vital stimulus might be induced in the strife of agricultural superiority, as in that of the turf, ring, or gaming-table, and more glory in the victory — a victory without a victim. To reach excellence in any branch we must enter into the pursuit with engrossing enthusiasm, make it the ruling passion. The wise make their proper business, or some ennobling study, their ruling passion; well! when the proper business is an ennobling study. The subscriber’s solution of the landlord’s problem is, to make the utmost use of rivalry of excellence, in addition to the common stimulus of profit. In the first place, the tenantry of each estate to be induced to keen competition of good management and value of produce, by annual prizes and encouragements afforded by the landlord, and perhaps by sweepstakes of their own; while, again, the landlords of each district should compete in superiority of tenantry, tenant-improvement, high cultivation of property, superior farm-steading accommodation, &c. This might be further extended to shire competition, and by the tenantry to the working men upon their farms. There is now an actual necessity for exertion. Patrick Matthew, Gourdie-hill, Errol, Scotland.

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