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Observations on Bulgarian affairs (1880), John Alexander Thynne Bath

Observations on Bulgarian affairs (1880), John Alexander Thynne Bath

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property. There

are, however, many large estates

belonging to Turkish

beys and even to Bul-

garians, where the

peasants possess a sort of

tenant

right, amounting to a considerable interest

in the soil, and the cultivation is on the

metayer

system, the

proprietor furnishing the seed

corn,

sometimes the oxen or

buffaloes, and, less fre-

quently, the rude

implements of

husbandry, and

drawing, as

compensation for the cattle and use

of the

implements, a

proportion of the

produce,

varying from 40 to 80

per cent. In the

valley of

the Maritza, and in the rich

valleys between

Sofia and Tatar

Bazardjik there are farms of

about 500 acres, cultivated

by the hired labour of

the

peasantswhoreside in the

contiguous villages.

But the

peasants assert that these farms

belonged

to them at some time more or less

remote, and

have been either

illegally seized

by neighbouring

Turkish

proprietors, or

wrung from them

by

usurers, into whose

power they had

fallen, to

meet the fiscal demands of the

government in

times of

scarcity, or the exactions of some more

than

ordinarily rapacious governor. In the west-

ern

portion of

Bulgaria, as in

Servia, a communal

system prevails, similar to that in Little Kussia.
The land of the commune or

parish is held in

common, and the heads of families divide it

by

ballot at fixed

periods among themselves, the

male inhabitants of the

village above a certain

age being alone considered in the distribution.
In Macedonia land is held

partly on the

metayer

BULGARIAN AFFAIRS.

9

system, partly by peasant proprietors. But these

last are

rapidly diminishing under the

pressure

of the

heavy taxation, which

puts them at the

mercy of the

usurers, among whom are

many

Greeks and

Jews, who of late

years have

acquired

large properties; and in

many cases Turkish

beys, on some

flimsy legal pretext, or without

any excuse at

all, have taken forcible

possession

of the land

belonging to the

Bulgarians, whom

they have

compelled to cultivate it for them.

In

judging the character of the

Bulgarians,

the conditions under which

they have so

long

lived must be taken into account ; nor is it fair

to

compare them with the inhabitants of countries

whose

governments have devoted to their well-

being the time and

energy which the Turks have

apparently employed solely in the

degradation of

those

subject to their rule.

The

Bulgarians are

essentially a

hard-working

and industrious

people. Most of the mason's and

carpenter's work in Servia is done

by them ; and

they migrate in

large numbers both to that

country and to Roumania for harvest work.

They

are

honest, sober, and economical. This last vir-

tue

they are sometimes

charged with

possessing

to an excessive

degree ; and it is not

improbable

that this should be the case with a

people whose

bitter

experience it has been that

money alone

could secure their

lives, their

property, and their

domestic honour.

They are

strongly bound

by

the ties of

family, and are

pre-eminently virtuous

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