M. de la Trahonnais has communicated to the Society of Arts at Paris a paper on the agriculture and population of France, in which he takes the position assumed by Mal-thus, that the increase or decrease of population is exactly in the same ratio as the increase or decrease of the production of food, and ascribes the late lamentable surplus of deaths over births to the insufficiency in the supply of food. The distinguished agriculturist mentions that since 1850 a gradual diminution in the number of births in France has taken place, and that in two years (1854-'55) the statistics exhibit the mournful fact that while every country in Europe showed a comparatively large increase of population, the numbers of the French people had actually diminished by 106,000. In 1856, the importation of agricultural produce, including cattle and meat, amounted to 30,560,000 pounds; and from this fact may be derived the most accurate agricultural statistics in relation to the agricultural deficiency in France during that year. This continued deficiency in food M. de la Trahonnais attributed to many causes. The manufacture of agricultural implements scarcely exists as an industry in France. The rude implements used by the peasantry are generally manufactured by village mechanics, from old and unimproved patterns, handed down from generation to generation, whilst the annual conscription of 400,000 able and robust young men for the army produces a lamentable deficiency of male labor, and necessarily leaves a large amount of agricultural development to the feeble hands of women and old men. It is not denied that the French peasantry are sound and industrious ; their vices are, no doubt, the result in which the system of centralization has abandoned them. They are patient, sparing, religious, and highly moral. Once get the thin edge of progress into their traditions ; let a gleam of enlightenment kindle their hard and miserable career ; let a little more comfort cheer their homes ; let a more extensive range of ambition widen their sphere of activity ; let a little more capital improve their land ; in short, let them be freed from the burdens and encroachments of government, and encouraged and educated as in other liberal countries, and the French nation will rise great and powerful in the strength of its peasantry and agricultural wealth.
This article was originally published with the title "French Agriculture and Population"