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Title: A Letter From Sydney, The Principal Town Of Australasia. Author: [Edward Gibbon Wakefield] Edited by Robert Gouger. * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1306631h.html Language: English Date first posted: December 2013 Date most recently December 2013 Produced by: Ned Overton. Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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"Wakefield's identity as the author of the new theory of colonization was well hidden for a year or two from the public and even from the Colonial Office. In 1831, Robert Gouger, who was then, and later, Wakefield's mouthpiece, revealed the secret to the Colonial Office in a letter which is worth rescuing from oblivion. Gouger wrote to T. F. Elliot of the Colonial Office: "You are aware I have always declined giving the name of my friend the author of the plan of colonization to which I have been so much attached, and which I have endeavoured to work upon the attention of the Government rather assiduously. I am now at liberty to reveal his name and do it to you with great pleasure, as you may perhaps be glad to make use of his very extensive knowledge of colonization generally. It is Mr. Edward G. Wakefield, the author of a book just published on the Punishment of Death, and whose name you must remember to have heard of in connection with the abduction of Miss Turner some years since. I am very glad to be able to make this communication, as it does away with any unpleasant feeling of 'false position' I may have entertained relative to my own connection with this subject. The cause of retaining the author's name will now readily suggest itself to you." Gouger to Elliot, July 29th, 1831. CO. 384/28." *
[* Mills, R. C., 1913: "The Colonization of Australia". p. 78, footnote #3.]
All of the chapter headings have been positioned on the left, regardless of page number. Line-by-line quotations have been eliminated in favour of the simple quotation.
LETTER FROM SYDNEY,
SHACKELL AND BAYLIS, JOHNSON'S-COURT, FLEET ST.
[By Edward Gibbon Wakefield.]
TOGETHER WITH THE
OUTLINE OF A SYSTEM OF COLONIZATION.
JOSEPH CROSS, 18, HOLBORN
SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL, STATIONERS' COURT, AND
EFFINGHAM WILSON, ROYAL EXCHANGE.
A Letter from Sydney—
Value of Land, Timber, and Minerals
Plans of Immigration
Ruling Idea of the Colony
Influence of Convict Labour
Van Diemen's Land
Influence of Transportation on Colonial Manners and Habits
Position of Australasia
Capacity of Australasia for Supporting a Dense Population
A New People
Cure and Preventative of Newness
Extension of Britain
Appendix. Outline of a System of Colonization
"Another evil, aggravated, though certainly not engendered, by the miserable administration of our poor-laws, is our present redundancy of population. He must have been inattentive to what is visible in almost every town and hamlet throughout the kingdom, who does not perceive that population has, for at least fifteen or twenty years, been increasing at a rate for which no improvement in agriculture or manufactures could afford employment. For many years it failed to attract the attention it deserved, but is now brought practically home to all orders of society. By what means this severe, and apparently sudden calamity, is come upon us, is well worthy of inquiry. The same excess of numbers which caused the hardy tribes of the north, in former times, to pour their swarms over the south, is again experienced in every part of Europe, but presses most heavily of all on England. Instead of parents delighting in the spread of their families, and rejoicing in the display of their endowments of mind and body as they grow up, they no sooner open their eyes on the world, than in comes solicitude about the means of rearing them; and when they approach maturity, a degree of anxiety, unknown and unnecessary in former times, is frequently experienced, as to procuring for them situations wherein, by skill and diligence, they may earn an honourable support. All trades, pursuits, and professions are becoming more and more overstocked; and multitudes of persons, of all degrees and ages, are moving about, without employment, useless to themselves, and a burden to the public. It is possible that this excessive increase of population (which forms the subject of several able treatises lately published in France, and of a most elaborate work which we have just received from Germany) may at last correct itself; but it will not do so for a considerable time, nor until great privations have been suffered; and ours are likely to be the most serious and prolonged, as this is the country where the multiplication of the people has been going on with by far the greatest rapidity. In this strait, the quantity of land suffered to lie uncultivated and waste, in this island and in Ireland, appears to us most extraordinary; and, not less so, the small degree of public attention attracted to our colonies, which exceed in number and value those which any state in the world ever before possessed. Hitherto, we have derived from them little assistance, because the poor are sure of being maintained by their parishes at home, and the rich have been brought up too indulgently to sit down willingly as settlers in a new country. Necessity, however, will overcome all repugnance. No pains should be spared to teach the labouring classes to regard the colonies as the land of promise, which it should be their highest ambition to be able to reach. Nor does this matter concern the poorer orders among us alone: in the colonies, a large proportion of the children or grandchildren of the highest families in this land must be contented to fix their abode, unless they resolve to drag on a life of dependence and indigence here. It is unfortunate that these establishments should so long have been regarded as fit only for the residence of convicts, labourers, mechanics, and desperate or needy men. The Greek colonies contained a mixture of all classes of society. Regularity and subordination were thus encouraged and preserved in all stages of their progress, and they rose to wealth and eminence much earlier than they would otherwise have done. We ought still to follow their example, though it is vain to expect that all the colonies we have will prove so effectual a drain as we now require. Hitherto, at least, our population has been increasing at the rate of between 3 and 400,000 annually, while those removed to our colonies, including convicts and emigrants, have not exceeded the rate of 7 or 8,000 at the utmost. We may, however, expect the ratio of emigration to rise considerably above this, and we ought to use all our efforts with that view. If adequate encouragement be held out to enterprising young men of rank and connections; if young men and women, in the intermediate ranks of life, are accustomed to look to the colonies as the most certain means of obtaining a comfortable settlement; and if the poor could be persuaded that it would be better for them to purchase a passage, by binding themselves to serve as bondsmen a few years after their arrival in the colonies, than to wear out an abject and hopeless life at home, the country might be materially relieved of the useless population by which it is likely soon to be encumbered. The policy of emigration, we once more say, ought, in these days, to go hand in hand with that of agricultural improvement at home."
As the Australasian settlements are known indifferently by several names, I must introduce the following account of their condition and prospects, by requesting you to understand that, by Australia, I mean the large island of which one half is called New Holland, and the other New South Wales; and that, by Australasia, I mean Australia and all the smaller islands in its neighbourhood, including Van Diemen's Land.
In the first place, I have to give you, in general terms, my opinion of Eastern Australia, and of the prospects which this penal settlement offers to emigrants of a class above "convicts, labourers, mechanics, and desperate or needy men."
All that you read in the works of Wentworth and Cunningham, as to the healthfulness and beauty of the climate, is strictly true. There are scarcely any diseases but what result immediately from intemperance. Dropsy, palsy, and the whole train of nervous complaints, are common enough; but then, drunkenness is the vice par excellence of the lower orders; and the better class of settlers have not learned those habits of temperance which are suited to the climate of Naples. The two classes often remind me of English Squires and their grooms, as I used to see them at Florence, just after the peace; the masters drinking at dinner, because they were abroad, and after dinner because they were Englishmen; the servants drinking always, because wine and brandy were cheap. Perhaps a generation must pass away before the people here will accommodate their habits to the climate, which is that of Italy, without either malaria or the sirocco. I shall have more to say on this head presently.
The soil of New South Wales is not particularly fertile. The plains of the Ganges, and of the great rivers of China, the lowlands of the West India islands, the swamps of the Gulf of Mexico, and even the marshes of Essex, produce crops of which the people here have no conception; but then, as we are without great masses of alluvial deposit, so are agues and intermittent fevers absolutely unknown. In point of natural fertility, I am inclined to compare this soil to that of France; and I have no doubt that, if the same quantity of agricultural labour as is employed in France, were here bestowed upon an area equal to the French territory, the quantity of produce would fully equal that of France. But hundreds of years must elapse before land, here, will be cultivated as well as in the most barbarous countries of Europe. Having regard, however, only to the natural powers of the soil, this account will probably satisfy you. Timber, coal, iron, and other useful minerals, abound; the harbours and rivers teem with fish; cattle of all sorts thrive and multiply with astonishing rapidity; every fruit that flourishes in Spain and Italy comes to the highest perfection; and Nature fully performs her part in bestowing upon man the necessaries, comforts, and luxuries of life.
In the above sketch, I have described my own impressions of the country before I reached it. They remain unaltered by some years of close observation; and I can soberly declare that I believe this country to possess merits of a physical nature superior to those of most other spots on the globe.
I did not, you know, intend to become a farmer. Having fortune enough for all my wants, I proposed to get a large domain, to build a good house, to keep enough land in my own hands for pleasure-grounds, park, and game preserves; and to let the rest, after erecting farm-houses in the most suitable spots. My mansion, park, preserves, and tenants, were all a mere dream. I have not one of them. When, upon my first arrival, I talked of these things to some sensible men, to whom I was recommended, they laughed in my face. I soon found that a house would, though the stone and timber were to be had for nothing, cost three times as much as in England. This was on account of the very high wages required by mechanics; but this was not all. None of the materials of a house, except stone and timber, are produced in the colony. Every pane of glass, every nail, every grain of paint, and every piece of furniture, from the kitchen copper to the drawing-room curtains, must have come from England. My property is at a distance of nearly seventy miles from the sea, and there is no road, but a track through the forest, for two-thirds of that distance. Every thing, even the food of the labourers, must have been transported from afar. Log-houses must have been built for the labourers; and the cheapest way of providing for them would have been by the establishment of a farm, in the first instance, to produce enough for their subsistence. Lastly, though none of these obstacles had existed, the whole colony did not contain as many masons, carpenters, glaziers, painters, black and whitesmiths, and other mechanics, as I should have required. You may believe most statements of fact respecting the colony; but beware how you draw conclusions!
Of course, I soon abandoned all thought of building a mansion. As for a park, my whole property was a park, and a preserve for kangaroos and emus. The grand object was to dispark it as soon as possible. I clung for some time to the hope of having tenants; but you will readily see that what deterred me from building a mansion presented numerous obstacles to the erection of farm-houses. Besides, even though I had forced circumstances, and had, at an enormous cost, placed a dozen good homesteads on my land, where was I to find tenants? There is no such class as a tenantry in this country, where every man, who has capital to cultivate a farm, can obtain one of his own for nothing. I soon found that what little my twenty thousand acres had cost me would be entirely lost, unless I turned farmer myself, and endeavoured, by my own exertions, with the assistance of convict servants, to extract something from the soil. Believe statements of fact—but beware how you draw conclusions!
However, the settler's attention is pretty well diverted from his wants, physical and mental, by the necessity of watching over his property. I bought herds and flocks, horses, ploughs, carts, carpenters' tools, and all sorts of implements of husbandry. My only servants were convicts. My own man, who had served me for eight years in England, and had often sworn that he would go the wide world over with me, seeing that I was the best of masters, never reached my new abode. He had saved about £150 in my service; and I had advised him to take the money out of a London Savings' Bank, under an idea that he might obtain ten per cent. for it at Sydney. He followed my advice. About a month after our arrival I missed him one morning. Before night I received a letter, by which he informed me that he had taken a grant of land near Hunter's River, and that he "hoped we parted friends." He is now one of the most consequential persons in the Colony, has grown enormously fat, feeds upon greasy dainties, drinks oceans of bottled porter and port wine, damns the Governor, and swears by all his gods, Jupiter, Jingo, and Old Harry, that this Colony must soon be independent.
But to return to my convicts. One of them was a London pickpocket, and a more mischievous animal I never had to contend with. The others were country bumpkins, transported for poaching, whom I had obtained with much trouble, supposing that they would serve my turn much better than Londoners; but if they were better able to work than the cockney, they were not a bit more willing. Perhaps he corrupted them; but, be this as it may, they altogether led me the life of a dog. My sheep and cows were continually lost, and it was nobody's fault; my effects were often stolen, though most of them could be of no use to the thieves. I grumbled and threatened; but these men, all round, declared their innocence, and called Heaven to witness that they had not wronged me of a "dump." I stopped some of their extra allowance until the goods should be produced. No more work was done; one was ill—another had hurt his hand—a third "would see me damned first"—and there was I, planted, as the French say, at the distance of twelve miles from any sort of assistance. It seemed necessary, however, to quell this rebellion. I rode, therefore, to the magistrate, got a constable, and sent the whole gang to prison; but the next day I was but too glad to fetch them back; for harvest had just begun, and my maize would have rotted on the ground, had I been long deprived of their labour, such as it was. I might have had them flogged, or, in colonial language, had "their backs scarified," whereby I should have punished them without losing their labour. This is the ordinary, because the most economical, mode of correcting our slaves; but, thanks to Fortune, I was not compelled to adopt it, being rich enough to indulge some foolish sentiments of tenderness and respect for all my fellow-creatures, not to mention tenderness and respect for myself. A necessary consequence, however, of this my abstract humanity and selfish pride, was, that I became the slave of my slaves. Can you imagine a more hateful existence? Meanwhile, I had built a house—so called here, but, properly speaking, a shed. It is well I have abstained from marriage. What should I have done for a delicate woman, bound to me by sacred ties? And if I had had children, and those children had happened to be daughters? Why, I should have done like others, who carry women and children out of civilized society to inhabit the wilderness. I should have made my tender wife a drudge, and my children little savages. Could 20,000 acres of valueless desert have compensated for such misery?
Perhaps you think this a too highly coloured picture of my mishaps?—but remember, I was not bred to labour—I know nothing of farming—I have not been used to the cabin of a brig-of-war, or the mess of a marching regiment. You, too, have enjoyed the leisure which fortune bestows, and have inquired the habits of refinement which belong to a numerous class in England. Were you a broken farmer, or a poor lieutenant, I should say, "Come here by all means. You cannot be placed more unhappily than at present, and you may gain by the change." But I am advising a man of independent fortune, who prefers his library, even to the beauties of nature, and to whom intellectual society is necessary for his peace of mind. Intellectual society! I shall come to that presently.
Disgusted with my convict servants, I sent to England for shepherds, ploughmen, carpenters, a blacksmith, a bricklayer, and other useful labourers. The men arrived in high spirits, having been hired from a part of the country where I was well known, and having, most of them, worked for me in England. They knew that they could depend on the high wages that my English agent had promised them; their passage had been paid for by me; and the sailors had told them that in New South Wales they would live like fighting cocks. Being in the desert when I received notice of their arrival, I hastened to Sydney, having first got rid of my convicts, for fear that they should contaminate the new-comers. The latter, who, my Sydney agent informed me, had, when they were put ashore, spoken in raptures of the 'Squire, received me with gloomy looks. They were already contaminated, notwithstanding my precaution. One of them, a harness-maker from Salisbury, acted as spokesman for the party, and told me flatly that they had been imposed on. I stared, and asked in what respect?—"They had not been told," he said, "what high wages a man could get in New South Wales—they were told now they could not live on the wages which had been promised them, and they hoped I should take their case into my consideration." I had not bound them by indentures, for I was weak enough to think that free agents would prove better servants than bondsmen. I desired them to "take into their consideration" the cost of their passage; but in the long discussion that ensued, they carefully avoided that point, and dwelt with dogged pertinacity on the wages which honest men, like them, could obtain at or near Sydney. I was completely in their power. By dint of flattery, appeals to their honour, and promises of comfort, I induced the mere peasants to observe their agreement and follow me to the wilds; but the mechanics were impracticable. They had already engaged with masters at Sydney and Parramatta, at double the high wages that I had promised; and I could make no impression on them. I retired to the woods with my clodhoppers, whom I found very serviceable during a whole year; but at the end of that time they began to grumble and fidget. Other persons had settled in my neighbourhood. Some of these had been convicts, and afterwards emancipated servants. They persuaded my men to become settlers also. In less than two years each of my servants saved wherewith to stock a small farm, and one by one they all left me. At last I was glad to obtain a fresh supply of convicts. Under these circumstances, my estate did not produce largely. My herds and flocks, however, had rapidly multiplied: and in the last year of which I speak, I reaped one hundred and forty acres of corn. This was thought immense doings; but as my free labourers were gone, I had no such prospect for the future; and as for the flocks, their increase in number was not a proportionate increase of property to me. The wool produced something; but the flesh was worth nothing, unless taken to market, and then it would scarcely repay the cost of the journey. Here, there are no drovers or jobbers in cattle to come between the farmer and the butcher. In short, there is little division of labour, and you may roll in plenty, without possessing any thing of exchangeable value. You must do almost every thing yourself; and flocks in the wilderness are not worth much more than the wilderness itself, of which you may obtain nearly any quantity for all but nothing. Under an idea that cheese would be easily transported, and would fetch a good price in Sydney, I thought at one time of establishing a dairy. But I ought to have known better. My cows were as wild as hyænas, and almost as wicked. I had no milkmaids, no dairy-women, no churns, no any thing that was wanted for the purpose; and, above all, I wanted industry, skill, economy, and taste, for any such pursuits, or, at least, a drudge of a wife to supply those wants. At length my impatience got the better of a certain stupid vanity that had led me to fancy myself qualified to become a settler. I wrote to my friends at Sydney acknowledging that I was sick of the bush, and that their prophecies of my ill success had been fulfilled to the letter. By their assistance I made over my estate for twenty years, with every thing upon it, to a tough Scotch farmer, on condition of receiving one-third of its produce. This third produces me less than 3 per cent. interest on what I have expended; but I am, comparatively speaking, a happy man, living upon my English income, in a place where at least books, and men and women, such as they are, are not quite wanting, and where money will supply the more pressing wants of civilized life.
Behold me established at Sydney, in a small house, a poor vamped-up building, more inconvenient, and far more ugly, than you can imagine, for which I pay a rent of £250 a year. For half the money you could get twice as good a house in any English country town. This excessive house rent is caused by the dearness of labour, which enhances the cost of building; for, either the builder will exact a rent proportioned to his outlay, or (if he cannot obtain such a rent) he will not build.
I now associated with the inhabitants of Sydney, hoping, as I had become an idle man, to be of some service to the colony, by directing my attention to public objects. To one I talked of introducing the cultivation of silk; to another, of tobacco; to a third, of sugar; to a fourth, of wine;—and I proposed to form societies for these several objects. But all my proposals were received with coldness. Those to whom I addressed myself knew, though they could not well say why, that my schemes were exceedingly foolish. Seeing them apparently so deaf to the calls of self-interest, I endeavoured to find some good reason for their conduct; and my trouble in this respect was not thrown away. I puzzled myself for a long while with questions of soil, and climate, and markets, and duties, and bounties. At length the true light broke upon me. The scarcity of labourers was an insuperable bar to any mode of cultivation that requires the employment of many hands! I profess to be but little versed in the laws of political economy; but the fact was self-evident. I could not, though I had been ever so reckless, have embarked my fortune in one of the above-named speculations. Had I done so, I should have been ruined, by the dearness of labour. But I could not do so:—there were not labourers enough for the purpose, at any rate of wages.
Suppose, again, that we had sent to England for five thousand starving peasants, and had bound them to labour for seven years, at a rate of wages which, in England, they would have considered extremely liberal. But this mode of supplying an urgent demand for labour, has been tried over and over again in new countries. Can you tell me of a single case in which it has effected its object? I could tell you of hundreds in which it has failed. Indeed, from the very nature of things, it must fail. An indented emigrant, named John, reaches the land of promise in high spirits, and labours contentedly, for three shillings a day, till he meets a free labourer named Tom. Tom informs John that he, Tom, gets six shillings a day, and he calls Tom a "sneak" for taking only three. Tom, mind, has a personal interest in corrupting John; because, if indented labourers could be held to their bonds, they would reduce the wages of free labourers. John, however, who is as honest as a poor man can be, and is very grateful for his removal from abject misery in England, resists Tom's first attack, and resolves to work out his agreement, though he should be called a thousand sneaks. But the next time they meet, Tom calls him a "poor dunghill devil." Even this does not move his resolution; but as he is now well fed and full of blood, it makes his heart thump against his ribs. At last Tom calls him a "negur slave," and from that moment he determines to be free as soon as possible. Yet this is a favourable case; as, generally speaking, the indented immigrant declares he has been cheated, and resolves to cheat his master, within twenty-four hours of his landing. John now begins to grumble and neglect his work. He and his master soon come to high words, which are not worth repeating. The master, let us suppose, sends him to jail upon the bond; but Tom visits and comforts him. He perseveres, therefore; and his master loses his labour. Suppose that the master could "scarify his back." Even then, though apparently subdued, he might contrive to do less than three shillings worth of labour per day, in which case the produce of his labour would be a loss; and this without manifestly departing from the bond. He might also—and this is no uncommon case—secretly do more than three shillings worth of injury per day to his master's property. Upon the whole, when once an indented labourer becomes dissatisfied, the sooner his bond is cancelled the better for the master. But what the master loses by the cost of the labourer's passage from England is not the whole loss. The once indented labourer obtains six shillings a day; saves half his earnings; obtains a grant of land; and becomes an employer of labour, and a competitor with his late master in the market of industry. This, of course, raises the price of labour to all. So that a large importation of indented labourers may very soon have an effect directly contrary to its purpose.
Two methods of securing the labour of bondsmen have been suggested. First,—it is proposed that, instead of being paid with money only, they should be paid partly with money and partly with land; the right to the land to depend upon good behaviour during the whole term of service mentioned by the bond, and to vest, of course, only at the expiration of that term. This precaution, however well it look upon paper, has been found, in practice, quite ineffectual; because, wherever land can be obtained for nothing, labour is much more valuable than land;—because John, by saving only two shillings a day for three years, might obtain as much land as he could possibly want. Secondly, it has been proposed, with a view to remedy the defect of the former suggestion, and, generally, in order to prevent indented labourers from raising the price of labour by becoming employers of industry, that government should not make grants of land to persons of that description. But this device is no better than the other, because John could obtain a grant of land in Tom's name, to which fraud upon the government Tom would be happy to lend himself for nothing; or, in the worst case for John, he might buy some of Tom's, or of any other body's land for a mere trifle. My late menial has recommended that indented labourers should be bound for life, liable to have their "backs scarified," and forbidden by law either to own or hire land, or to work for any but the man who had imported them. This plan would be effectual, no doubt; and we may, perhaps, adopt it. But many people would prefer negro slavery, as being, though far more unjust, and therefore more cruel, nevertheless, much better calculated to please the English nation, which does not approve of white slavery. Thus you will perceive that, even though the Poor rates of England were employed in sending labourers to this country, instead of maintaining them in idleness at home, the colonial rate of wages would not be permanently diminished. As before, there would exist an urgent want of labourers; and the only difference would be the spread of that want to places where it does not at present exist. The sole reason why it does not now exist in those places is, because none of the land, there, is yet appropriated. In time, the same intense want of labourers, extended over an immense space, would bring this country to the condition of North America, where, though the population be now eleven millions, the want of labourers is as urgent as ever, and is not altered in character by the increase of people, except that, instead of being confined to a strip of land on the coast, it is extended over half a continent. At the first blush, one would suppose that a want of labour, being in fact a scarcity of people, would be supplied by a supply of people; and this, of course, would be the case in a country where all the land was appropriated. But in an extensive country, of which by far the greater part is still open to be appropriated by all who can muster capital for cultivating a grant, an increase of people has no permanent effect in supplying the want of labourers. On the contrary, if the immigrants should be capitalists they would render the want of labourers still more urgent; and this may account for the jealousy, and dislike, almost, with which newly arrived settlers in this colony are regarded by those who preceded them. In many of the books that treat of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, you will find this jealousy frequently mentioned. The writers in question attribute it to a fear, on the part of the older settler, that he may be deprived, by a new-comer, of the use of certain unappropriated land in the neighbourhood of his own grant; and this, I believe, is what the older settler imagines to be his motive for falsely assuring the new-comer, that there is no land worth having in his neighbourhood. But were he to reflect for a moment, he would see that, the sooner all the land in his neighbourhood is appropriated and cultivated, the sooner will his own land possess some market value; a circumstance far more profitable to him than the use, for grazing only, of land which, sooner or later, must be appropriated by others. He would acknowledge, therefore, that his real, though latent, motive for wishing to remain isolated in the desert, had been a fear of being surrounded by competitors in the market of labour.
From all these considerations we may infer, that whatever the amount of immigration into a waste country, there must constantly exist an urgent demand for labour, so long as the territory at the disposal of the people shall remain immense in proportion to their numbers—so long, in other words, as there shall remain any fertile land not cultivated. I, for one, used to think quite otherwise. Like thousands who have settled in waste countries, I thought that any actual want for labour might be permanently supplied by a positive increase of people; and this was why I lost so much time, like thousands before me, in forming plans of immigration without reference to territory.
In another respect I fell into what I now believe to be a great error. I imagined that the only evil attendant upon a scarcity of labourers, was an extravagant rate of wages, which, by giving to the labourer a very large share of the produce, prevented the capitalist from accumulating. But I now perceive, that in new countries, a still more fatal check to improvement occurs through an absolute want of labourers at any rate of wages. To make this clear, I beg of you to remark that there is a maximum as well as a minimum of wages. No one will work for less than a bare subsistence, and none will employ labourers but for profit. The minimum, therefore, being the smallest portion of the produce upon which the labourer can exist, the maximum is the largest share which the capitalist can profitably relinquish to the labourer. In old countries, the price of labour varies continually, according to the variations in the proportion between capital and labour; but in some old countries the minimum is become the ordinary and permanent rate; because, however much capital may have accumulated, no more of it can be profitably employed in providing food for the redundant population. In new countries, on the contrary, the maximum is the ordinary and permanent rate; because, however much people may multiply, they are not obliged to sell their labour, and most of them, by saving a small capital and obtaining land, become buyers of labour. This, however, does not comprise the whole difference between old and new countries in respect to the original purchase money of all things. In some old countries, many labourers cannot obtain even the minimum of wages, but are either starved or maintained in idleness. In Britain, for example, though we cannot tell how many people die of misery, we know how many millions of money are annually expended in maintaining idle paupers. Whereas, in new countries, capitalists often cannot obtain labourers even at the maximum. In America, when the pay of seamen in the navy exceeded the maximum of wages in the merchant service, the naval demand, even for landsmen, was still unsupplied. So at this moment in Australasia, there is, notwithstanding the limited supply of cheap labour afforded by convicts, an unsupplied demand for labourers at the maximum. Take, for example, the case of settlers in Van Diemen's Land, where as many as 5000 sheep, sometimes, and 2000 commonly, are allowed to run in one flock, male and female, old and young, weak and strong, all mixed together. The loss, in consequence of this bad management, is immense. That loss would be wholly prevented by the employment of more shepherds; and anyone capable of estimating the loss, will acknowledge that its prevention would afford ample wages to the additional shepherds, besides leaving an additional profit to their employer. But though these maximum wages are, there, going abegging, as one may say, there are not labourers to take them. The case of the Australian Company furnishes another example. With a capital of £1,000,000, the company proposes "to produce, at a more distant time, wine, olive oil, hemp, flax, silk, opium, etc." But why not now? Not for want either of capital, or of picked land, rent, tithe, and tax free, or of a favourable climate, or of ready markets; not even for want of cheap labour, inasmuch as, under the peculiar circumstances, these commodities might be profitably produced, though wages should be high;—but simply, because, for any such purposes, which require the employment of many hands, there is an absolute want of hands at any rate of wages.
What does all this mean but that there is a constant waste of capital? Great part of the capital of the Australian Company is safely employed in England, at a profit of, perhaps, 3 per cent. per annum; but is not the trampling to death of sheep in Van Diemen's Land a waste of capital? Is not the mere destruction of useful timber a waste of capital? I could fill pages with an account of the number of things, which would be of great value in England, which would be considered as capital in any densely peopled country, but which we throw away as rubbish.
But this state of things is not without many precedents. It has occurred in every waste country, settled by emigrants from civilized countries. In most other new countries, it has been partially remedied by means of slavery; and a time may come when its evils will be mitigated here in the same way. For, seeing that this colony would never be any thing but a half-barbarous Tartarian, ill-cultivated, poverty-stricken wilderness, until, in the course of nature, some hundreds of years hence, the population should become more dense, I began to hanker after, what till then, I had considered the worst of human ills —the institution of slavery. How often, in my presumption, had I cursed the memory of Las Casas, for bribing the first planters of Hispaniola to spare the inhabitants of that island, by suggesting that they might obtain slaves from Africa! How scornfully, in my ignorance of cause and effect, had I abused the Democrats of North America for cherishing the horrors of slavery! In moments of weakness, how I had sighed, and even shed tears of compassion and anger, at the damnable cruelties which I saw inflicted upon Blacks at the Cape of Good Hope! And yet, in spite of my reason and every better feeling of my nature, I brought myself to find excuses for the Spaniards, Americans, and Dutch; aye, even to think that a few thousand Negroes would be a great acquisition to New South Wales! So they would; and they would conduce to the wealth, and—deny it who will—even to the civilization of these colonial landowners. What made Lord ——— a rich, well-educated, and agreeable gentleman?—The sweat, and blood, and tears of his and his father's slaves in Jamaica! Had slavery never existed, he would, in the natural course of things, have been a little West Indian farmer, perhaps scarcely able to read—certainly not fit to be a member of civilized society. What made the most able public men of North America? Even their slaves, which conferred upon them riches, leisure, and instruction. Slavery has not produced any distinguished men in South Africa; because slavery, there, is of a gentle kind—domestic, not predial. But the African farmer is highly civilized, when compared with some of the descendants of Spaniards, who inhabit the Pampas of the Rio de la Plata; and he owes whatever distinguishes him from the Tartar to the cheap labour of his slaves. In my heart I abhor the very name of slavery; but this is my adopted country, and when I contemplate its future condition, I can conceive that slavery was revived for something else than the gratification of man's worst propensities. Slavery exists, not to gratify the hearts of cruel men, but to fill the pockets of those who, without slavery, would be poor and insignificant. It will never be abolished by appeals to the hearts of slave-owners. You might as well expect to make Mr. Buxton and Mr. Macaulay live upon vegetables, by showing them the cruelties of Smithfield. It is wonderful, but true, that, notwithstanding the great exertions of the abolitionists, the number of slaves owned by Christians is increasing every day. But why should we wonder? What was the sole cause of the revival of slavery by Christians, but the discovery of waste countries, and the disproportion which has ever since existed in those countries between the demand and supply of labour? And what is it that increases the number of slaves to Christian masters, but the increase of Christian capitalists wanting labourers, by the spreading of Christian people over regions heretofore waste?
I constantly ask myself, whether it be possible to devise any means by which to establish, in a new country, such a proportion between people and land as would render labour plentiful, and not extravagantly dear. Here we have, it is true, a species of slave-labour that of convicts, and our system of slavery has been peculiarly favourable to the master, because the slaves have been obtained without any prime cost. To this, combined with the demand for produce created by the great expenditure of Government, the few rich men of New South Wales are wholly indebted for their fortunes. But the supply of cheap labour was always small and variable; and, of late, the demand has so much increased, through the increase of landowners, that not the slightest dependence can be placed on convict labour as a permanent source of wealth. You may obtain, though not without trouble, one, two, or perhaps three, convicts, for a term of a few years; but that they will rob you, is almost certain; that they will murder you, is by no means improbable; and that their labour will not be very profitable, is beyond a doubt. What, then, are we to do, to obtain that desirable proportion between the demand and supply of labour, without which, I say, no country can flourish? Answer me that question satisfactorily, and I will tell you that Botany Bay is an earthly paradise. This, indeed, would be a glorious discovery. Call it an invention, or what you will, it must, whenever established in a country cursed with slavery, cause the natural, slow, easy death of that hideous monster. Fancy the slavery of America and South Africa in a slow consumption, and free labour growing up, healthy, strong, and cheerful, to supply its place! But I am dreaming—We have a right to presume that slavery will flourish in America and South Africa, until there shall be no more land to be obtained for next to nothing; and that the inhabitants of Australasia must, for hundreds of years to come, secretly long for a trade in human flesh. Tell me the time when the disproportion between the demand and supply of labour in America, South Africa, and Australasia will cease, and I will tell you when slavery will cease in America and South Africa, and when the Australasians will become a rich, instructed, refined, and highly civilized people. Meanwhile, I deliberately state it as my opinion, that a permission to obtain slaves from Africa would be most beneficial to these settlements, with a view only to wealth and civilization; and that if Australasia should become independent to-morrow, these people would find some means of establishing slavery in spite of all the saints.
Of what class then, you ask, have been the great mass of emigrants from England, not convicts? Excellent people in their way, most of them; farmers, army and navy surgeons, subalterns on half-pay, and a number of indescribable adventurers, from about the twentieth rank in England. They came here to live, not to enjoy; to eat and drink, not to refine; to "settle"—that is, to roll in a gross plenty for the body, but to starve their minds. To these must be added convicts, many of whom are become rich and influential; and some, not exactly convicts, to whom England ceased to be a convenient residence. The English who live at Boulogne, some for cheapness, some from misfortune, and some from fear, would offer, I should think, a fair sample of the materials which compose the best society in New South Wales; though, I must admit, that the bustling, thriving settler of New South Wales is a companion, rather ignorant though he be—far away preferable to the not more enlightened, but melancholy English sluggard of Boulogne. To form a due conception of the "upper classes" here, suppose all the natives of France annihilated, and the whole country belonging to the English residents of Boulogne. In that case, there would be an almost perfect resemblance between those Englishmen who, across a narrow channel, can see their own country, and those who, at its antipodes, look upon the Pacific Ocean. Man—how often must it be repeated?—is the creature of circumstances. In likening these, my fellow colonists, to the English outcasts in France, I speak only of their original composition.
They had nothing to lose, and they have gained immensely by the change in their condition. This is true, both in a pecuniary and in a moral sense. A poor man who emigrates to New South Wales may become comparatively rich; and though he should be ever so idle by habit, he must become industrious, or starve. My case is an exception to the ordinary course of things, here. I did not come to make money, but to invest money made by my grandfather. This was a capital error on my part. But to proceed. The poor lieutenant, whose miserable pittance would but just support him in England—whose wife and children were a burthen, and whose life was passing away between the anxieties of poverty and the short day-dreams of brandy and water—becomes, here, independent; wealthy in grain and cattle; a proprietor of thousands of acres; a master of servants, such as they are; an uxorious husband, and a fond father, because his wife and children, instead of being a burthen, are of infinite value to him; and an excellent member of society, such as it is, because he is deeply interested in the well-being of the community. What a contrast with the lazy, pick-tooth, fretful, lounger of the pier at Boulogne!
But this is the bright side. We must not forget the original
composition. I will now briefly describe the actual condition of
our "best society."
You may perhaps think, that as waste land possesses no value, the power to dispose of it can give no influence. Reflect, however, for a moment. Notwithstanding the experience of ages there are still persons who imagine that an estate of 20,000 acres, bearing noble timber, must, any where, be a very valuable property. Such persons, guided wholly by their imaginations, long for extensive domains even in such a country as this; and he who can gratify or disappoint them, as he pleases, must, for a time, hold them in subjection. Anticipation is universally more pleasant than the fact, and one man having controul over the hopes of mankind would be master of the world. In the next place, the Government of a new Colony alone determines the sites of towns, and the direction of roads; whereby it has the power to give a considerable market value to certain portions of territory. I am the most independent man in this Colony; but its Governor could at once put twenty or thirty thousand pounds into my pocket by making a road through my estate, and nailing upon one of my trees, a board inscribed with, "This is Town." How, then, can I help being, at all times, his most devoted humble servant? How, indeed, but by recollecting that I draw a competent income from England, which enables me to enjoy my existence; that in a few years both "His Excellency" and I shall be meat for the worms; and that, consequently, I have not an hour to spare for the misery of being his parasite.
The Governments of all new countries exercise an imperceptible despotism over the affairs of nearly all their subjects, by means of their power over waste land. They can raise or lower the wages of labour by restricting or extending grants of earth, air, and water; and by the same means they can raise or lower the value of land already appropriated by individuals. Capitalists and landowners, therefore, are liable to be ruined, or made rich, by the mere will of the Government. The history of settlements in desert countries abounds with instances of fluctuations in the value of land and of labour, arising solely from fluctuations in the proportion between the people and the territory for their subsistence; and such fluctuations have, for the most part, been caused solely by a restriction or an extension to the amount of grants. I do not pretend that the Governments of new countries have ever increased or lessened the amount of grants, with a direct view to raise or lower the value of land and labour: for I believe that they have been, and still are, unconscious of their power in this respect; but they have so exercised their power as to prevent the accumulation of earth. It follows, that they have had to deal with poor, and therefore impotent subjects; and, of course, the real power of a Government over its subjects must be in proportion to their weakness. The Democracy of North America is not an exception to this general rule; for, do we not, there, see a whole people exercise the most terrible despotism over individuals? If the Government of America, that is, the great body of the people, were highly instructed, individuals would have nothing to fear from its power; but, at present, wrong is often inflicted on individuals, without benefit to the mass. An ignorant body of men, in short, is just as liable as an ignorant individual, to commit self-injury and self-destruction. If you, as a Liberal, should be hurt at these remarks, I beg of you to tell me, whether partizan-murder may not be committed with impunity in Kentucky? and whether the American tariff be not a great injury to the whole people that has enacted it?
Hence you may conceive that this Government, or rather Governor, possesses extraordinary power for good or evil. How such a degree of power has been used for evil, you will learn, if you come here, merely by listening when you are at the Cape of Good Hope. Here, there is no particular reason for complaint; and I use the language of complaint unwillingly, merely because I could not otherwise give you a true picture of our condition. Need I say that there can be no court without courtiers? Of course, there is a pretty numerous class—numerous, I mean, in proportion to forty-five thousand inhabitants, altogether devoted to "His Excellency." This class forms the "best society" of Sydney. It is composed of Government officers, unconnected with the colony, excepting by their offices, of local magistrates, who are all settlers and landowners, and of the more opulent merchants, together with their respective wives. Now look back to what I have said of the original composition of the emigrants, not convicts. Do you smile at the picture which your imagination must have conceived? A court, an aristocracy, an exclusive set, persons of fashion, ladies patronesses, composed, King and all, of people such as the English who inhabit Boulogne;—a St. James's, a White's, an Almack's, at Botany Bay! It is true, as I hope to be saved. But why should you wonder?—Where did men and women ever congregate without the assumption, by a few of them, of superiority to the many? Nothing is more general—nothing, therefore, is more vulgar, than exclusiveness. Laugh rather at the thing itself than at its existence here.
As in France, the first class call themselves "gens comme il faut"; and in England, "people of fashion," or "the world"—so here the leaders of society are distinguished by a peculiar term. They are called "respectable." Not to speak of France, it is difficult to say what in England constitutes "fashion." Not high birth, certainly—for some of the despots of English society are sprung from the dunghill. Our epithet to express exclusiveness is, I think, better chosen—for though, strictly speaking, it means worthy of respect, it is claimed, here, only by those to whom respect is paid. In England, the Quarterly Review tells us, "respectability" sometimes means keeping a rig—here it always means dining with the Governor.
You will readily understand, that an exclusive set being once established, those who compose it are jealous of their privileges. In this respect we do but mimic the "best society" of England. We are proud, shy, difficult of access to those whom we despise, presumptuous, sarcastic of whatever does not meet our notions of right, swollen, blinded with a sense of our own importance. In a word, we are "the world" at Botany Bay.—We look with an evil eye upon those who are rising to belong to us; we examine and canvass their pretensions; and we admit them, only after is long course of insult, to the honour of equal terms. They, in their turn, become excluders; and thus the farce proceeds—but is not this a picture of Grosvenor-square?
Our manners set the fashion. Those whom we exclude, exclude others. Free emigrants claim to be of a nature superior to convicts; convicts, whose terms of punishment have expired, behave as if their flesh and blood were wholly unlike that of convicts still in durance; convicts, who have not been convicted south of the line, scorn those who have; and these several classes, except the last, are as proud and tenacious of their privileges as is every distinctive class in England, except the unhappy lowest; or, as is every shade of colour in the West Indies except the perfect black. The main features of the human character are every where alike, and a passion for distinctions seems to be implanted in our nature.
In new countries, where, for the reasons already given, narrow-mindedness must prevail, politeness consists entirely of forms; and the least infraction of those precise rules which make up the code of behaviour, is reckoned a grave offence. So it is here; not exactly because this is a new country—for it is not old enough to have a character of its own—but, because the greater part of those who have transported themselves hither were originally narrow-minded—because persons of enlarged views will not quit civilization and refinement, to vegetate in the wilderness. Some fifty years hence, Australasia will have a native stock of the attributes of newness; —it has those attributes now, but they are importations from England. Fifty years hence a Sydney tea party will be dangerous ground for an uninitiated Englishman, not a prig;—even now it contains some awkward spots which are hidden from him, who is used only to the firm footing of truly polished intercourse. Am I not refining over much? I admit it;—the barbarism of new countries is become my ruling idea.
Now I will answer your question. The ladies of Sydney do think of something besides wool. They think of household affairs, of beef, mutton, pork; of their convict maidservants, who, however troublesome, are far better than none; of dress, earnestly, though not profoundly, as they study less to ornament their persons than to outvie their neighbours in finery; of questions of precedence, which furnish them with heart-burnings, bickerings, and desperate feuds; of their "respectability;" and of all those very, very little things, which occupy the minds of women not strongly tempted to acquire, either delightful knowledge, or the other arts, meaner than knowledge, by which superior men are pleased. Will you come here? Are there not plenty of vulgar bodies in England? Plenty. Then fancy one of them converted, by sudden elevation to the first place any where, into a vulgar fine lady, and you will form a pretty correct idea of a setter of fashions at Sydney. Mind—I am speaking only of our old or middle-aged ladies patronesses. There is a young race of striking beauty. The latitude of Sydney is 33° south; that of Cyprus about 85° north; the line of heat is north of the equator; all imported animals improve here. But I will not explain myself yet;—the "Currency Lasses," as they are vulgarly called, shall have a chapter to themselves.
Remember where I am. I am standing, with my head downwards, as it were, almost under your feet. Your letter has made me think of you; but I am bound to confess that, for two or three years before I received it, the image of my old friend, my school crony, my college chum, the most intimate companion of my early and enthusiastic manhood, did never once cross my perverted thoughts. In all that time I never thought of you; not even once. Are you surprised? Remember where I am! Should we love our parents, if, after the period of infancy, we were never reminded of them? Not more than the beasts that perish, which have no reason for keeping in remembrance the authors of their being. It is thus with the emigrant to a far distant land. He is severed from all that he once held dear, and is fixed immutably, where nothing occurs to remind him of his birth-place. As a plant, torn from the soil in which it germinated, and placed in one of a different nature, gradually accommodates itself to the new situation, and at length flourishes as if it had never been removed, so the wanderer from home, should he once take root in a foreign land, feels and acts as if he had been born there; his affections are utterly divorced from objects of early attachment; they are wedded to the new abode; he forgets the old country; the new country becomes to him all in all. This ilk peculiarly true of men, who, by emigrating, exchange poverty for comparative wealth, anxiety for peace of mind, misery for happiness. If that were possible, it would be still more true of poor emigrants who obtain property in land. Nearly all my fellow-colonists were once poor, and are now lords of the soil. Wonder not when I tell you, that they regard Old England with no more concern than a flourishing English yeoman bestows upon New South Wales. The above was a necessary introduction to some account of colonial politics. Into what parties are we divided? What are our standing questions?
As with you, we have "Government" and "Opposition." You see the necessity of government, but wish to learn the purpose of opposition. The use of your opposition, regarding it, not as a party, but as an act, is not always apparent. The existence of our opposition party must be explained by reference to the last paragraph. The Government is conducted by Englishmen connected with the colony only by their offices. These persons do not come here to remain. They are not settlers in any sense of the word. By the settlers, therefore, with whose indifference towards England you are acquainted, they are regarded as foreigners. They are foreigners, except by name. Their main interests and affections have reference only to England. They are mere sojourners here. They do not like the place, even as a temporary residence. How should they? Is it not Botany Bay? Having to deal with a population, of which far more than half the adults are criminals actually suffering punishment, they acquire the sentiments and manners of gaolers and turnkeys. They are overbearing, therefore; peremptory; quick at taking offence; suspicious; jealous of their almost boundless power; and yet fearful of the lawless body under their controul, whom, at the same time, they despise. Nevertheless, their enormous power for good or evil procures them many partizans amongst the colonists. These, united with them, form the Government party. The Opposition consists of emancipated convicts who have attained wealth and importance, of the children of convicts, and of certain free emigrants—men of fiery, and, in many cases, of generous tempers; of whom some cannot tamely brook subjection in their own persons, some hate oppression in the abstract, and some are filled with a high ambition, like that which urged the robber-shepherd to found Rome. These are the leaders of four-fifths of the population. They are bent upon procuring for the colony a Government of colonial origin. They want Trial by Jury and a Legislative Assembly. They talk even of perfect Independence. They are rebels, every one of them, at heart; and nothing but a sense of weakness deters them from drawing the sword.
The state of Spain during the reign of Joseph Bonaparte offers a parallel to our political condition. We have a foreign King, the creature of a foreign power; foreign civil officers, a foreign army, domestic partizans of the foreign rule, and a people strongly disaffected. The likeness holds good in another important particular. As most of the Spanish partizans of J. Bonaparte were still essentially Spaniards, and went always ready to have deserted the foreign King for a powerful Government purely Spanish; so the Australian partizans of the deputed British Government would, I believe, with very few exceptions, rejoice to obtain a domestic government, which is the avowed object of the Opposition. If the immediate independence of this country were a probable event, the whole body of colonists would form one party. At present they are divided into two parties—those who serve time and bow to circumstances, taking meanwhile all the good within their reach —and those who, regardless of time and seasons, have embarked their energies in a cause, which must be hopeless during their generation. The independence of Botany Bay! Of course, if you come here, you will belong to the Government party.
To one or other you must belong, unless you would prefer to be at enmity with both. Neutrality is out of the question. An English Churchman may live in peace between a Papist and a Methodist, because there are some points on which he can agree with both, as, indeed, the opinions of all three have a common foundation; but in this small colony, the disagreement of parties is absolute and universal. It admits of no compromise or qualification. It extends from the great speculative question of independence over all possible matters of opinion, and through every operation of the Government down to the least important act of the most humble public functionary. The hostility which it begets is bitter and unceasing, and the manner in which the warfare is conducted is dogmatical and personally offensive; because, in the first place, the opposing factions of our little capital are necessarily brought face to face, from year's end to year's end, and from morning to night; and, secondly, because cheapness of land and dearness of labour render men's minds as narrow as their territory is extensive, preventing, not only the native growth of liberal feeling and polished manners, but also the importation from abroad of those attributes of civilization. Have I said enough to convince you that the state of parties, here, does not admit of neutrality?
This account of the intensity of party feeling is not at variance with my assertion that wool is the ruling idea of the colony. Of course you do not understand that assertion quite literally. It is, however, almost literally true. "Clearing" is the ruling idea of an American backwoodsman; and yet he may be a savage partizan of Clay or Jackson. It is just because the colonists are too much occupied with questions of daily bread, to have leisure for inquiry and reflection, that they make such violent politicians. Were the leading men of both parties as rich as they would be, supposing land dear and labour cheap, they would have time and motive calmly to examine the great question that disturbs them. They would perceive, on the one hand, that this colony is not yet qualified to govern itself, even partially, by means of a colonial assembly; and, on the other hand, that its complete independence is, sooner or later, inevitable, supposing no decided alteration in the colonial policy of Britain. Having made these concessions to reason and truce they would have a common object; that of securing every attainable good, and cultivating the resources, and, above all, the minds of their countrymen, with a view to that self-government which must come, but which would prove a grievous curse, if it should come out of season and without due preparation.
It behoves me to satisfy you that we are not at present qualified to govern ourselves, and to state my reasons for presuming that our grand-children will assert their independence.
First, as to our incapacity for self-government. The population of the settlement may amount in round numbers to 45,000. Of these only 14,000, including women and children, have not been convicted of felony; and two-thirds of the remainder, seven-eighths being grown men, are galley-slaves, still in chains! Are you convinced?
Secondly, as to the probable epoch of our independence. This question may not be settled by a few figures. Indeed, it involves so many, and such grave considerations, that I have done wrong, perhaps, to touch upon it in a familiar letter. I will not, however, discuss the whole question; as it is not from me that you have to learn why a people, governed from afar, and continually increasing their territory, must have a continually increasing tendency to rebellion. I will therefore only point your attention to several circumstances, which, in this colony, are either peculiar or excessive, and which threaten to give an uncommonly rapid progress to the tendency just mentioned.
1. The very great distance between the government and the subjects, which far exceeds the space by which any former plantation, having free scope for the increase of people, was separated from a mother country. 3. In this colony there are neither warlike natives, nor dense forests, nor extensive swamps, nor impracticable mountains, to prevent the people from spreading till they shall become as wild as Tartars, and as awkward to catch. Nor are there any great navigable rivers to compensate, by affording easy communication between distant parts, for the want of savages, forests, swamps, and mountains. 3. Land is cheaper, and as soon as the present system of Penal Slavery shall be at an end, labour will be dearer, than in other new countries. I say that land is cheaper than elsewhere, because this use of land can be obtained at a less price. The settler in North America, though be should obtain a right to land for nothing, must pay largely for the use of that right. He must clear and drain his grant before he can use it, at a great cost of money or money's worth. Whereas, here, there are hundreds of thousands of square miles of unappropriated land, already cleared and drained by the hand of nature. Land, therefore, may be said to be cheaper, here, than in America. Cheapness of land is another expression for scarcity of labourers; and as land here is extraordinarily cheap, we may expect that, when the supply of convicts shall cease, labourers for hire will be excessively scarce. Thus we shall have excessive dearness of labour; but this is not all: we shall suffer also from an excessive scarcity of dear labour. As to this point, I must refer to the preceding remarks on the subject of labour. Dearness of labour, alone, would go far to prevent the accumulation of wealth; but a scarcity of dear labour will absolutely forbid it. Hence I judge that our grand-children will be a race of unmixed barbarians, more ungovernable than even the white savages of Kentucky. 4. The democratic spirit which must exist, where every man possesses a little wealth and a little knowledge, but no man possessing much of either, will surely exist here. That this spirit cannot exist without hostility to England, the least democratic of free States, is proved by the history of Republican France, and of Independent America. Since the Americans opened roads over the chain of the Alleghanies, and thus obtained greater facilities for spreading, they are become less civilized, more democratical, and, I believe, more hostile to England, than in the days of Franklin and Washington. Hence, and looking also at the hatred of authority which has been imported, and is constantly maintained by criminal immigration, I conclude that the Australians will hate their parent country more bitterly, and at an earlier period, than did the British Colonists in America, because they will have greater facilities for growing up poor, ignorant, and democratical. 5. And lastly—coming now to the question of power. It was not the forests and swamps of America that enabled a handful of farmers and hucksters to defeat a powerful nation. If the American colonists had accumulated wealth, and had been crowded together, though in the midst of forests and swamps, they might have been readily subdued. It was their poverty and their dispersion that constituted their strength. They had little to lose except their lives, and it was impossible to take their lives on a large scale, because they were never to be caught congregated in masses. They met the force of Concentration, which is so useful in attack, by a successful defence, of which the essence was Dispersion. The Parthians of old, the Cossacks of late, and now the South American Republics, whose fruitless endeavours to destroy each other promise to be perpetual, have established, that Tartars, united in will and fighting on their own plains, are not to be conquered. From the foregoing considerations, it appears to me that Australasia is peculiarly adapted to become, and at a very early period too, the abode of a Tartar people. I conclude, therefore that our grandchildren will govern, or rather misgovern, themselves.
Perhaps not; but attend, for this matter concerns you deeply. In settling a perfectly waste country, the main object, as well as the chief difficulty, is to produce on the spot, food for the first emigrants, and a surplus quantity for those who are to follow them. For the passage of this asses' bridge, in the process of founding a colony, one thing is indispensable—capital; that is, seed-corn, cattle for stock, implements of husbandry, and food to keep the settlers alive, whilst producing food for the future; but the epoch of success will be determined by two other things, over which the settlers can exercise no control—namely, the state of the soil to be cultivated, and the nature of the climate. In the case of every plantation in North America, whether English, French, or Dutch, the settlers had to contend with a soil which, being covered with dense forests, required much labour, and with a climate which incapacitated them for labour. It followed, of course, that they should struggle for a long while with hunger, produced by sickness, and with sickness again, produced by hunger. In every case, many years, and, in some cases more than forty years, elapsed, before the emigrants escaped out of that vicious circle. Now, in all that has been written of the un timbered, grassy regions, and the glorious climate of Australasia, there is not a word of exaggeration. Even here, however, famine made some havoc amongst the first settlers, until they had passed the thickly timbered district near the coast. But when their cows led them to those green plains, they could sow and reap without the labour of "clearing;" their cattle grew fat, and multiplied rapidly; the asses' bridge was passed; and the advantage, so quickly gained, was, from the nature of its causes, imperishable. If you would thoroughly appreciate the merits of clear land and a wholesome climate, compare Mr. Cunningham's account of our new settlement at Bathurst with Captain Beaver's Journal of an attempt at colonization on the western coast of Africa. At Bathurst, only one settler died in the course of several years; at Bulama, the whole colony was in the hospital at once. I acknowledge, therefore, that nature has bestowed those very great merits on this country; but they are not of a mysterious nature, for their operation is as manifest as their results. Nor do they account for the actual wealth of the colony. They explain only why an ample supply of food was obtained at a very early period; but food, taken by itself, is not wealth. Whence have come all those things, over and above mere subsistence, which astonish the beholder, when he reflects that this colony has been planted little more than forty years?
An example has just passed my window, in the shape of a dashing English landau. It contains a "lady," who married a poor half-pay lieutenant, and who now drinks tea that would cost in England twenty shillings the pound. They emigrated to New South Wales in 1815. But how did she get that carriage, and how does she manage to send to China for the gunpowder? Thus:—Her husband is both landowner and merchant. Being constantly supplied with a number of convict labourers, he breeds cattle and cultivates grain; and as he gives to his labourers but just enough for their subsistence, he has a large surplus produce. Having sold to the local government wheat and beef for the supply of prisons, hospitals, and barracks, he is paid partly with bills upon the English treasury, and partly with dollars, sent from England for the support of the great penitentiary. He remits one of those bills to his London agent, and desires him to purchase, with the proceeds thereof, a superb landau. In less than a year, his wife "rides in her coach." He sends some of the dollars to Canton, and purchases therewith a cargo of tea, of which he gives to his wife as much as she likes, and sells the rest to the wives of other men, who pay him with bills or dollars, received again from the government for wheat and beef. Thus, you see, Mrs. ——— is indebted for two decided proofs of wealth to the prevalence of crime in England. Even the coat of arms on her landau was found by your Herald's College, in return for a part of the proceeds of that bill, which was drawn to pay for the food of the soldiers who drove the convicts, who produced the food. Our old friend Sir George Nayler would no doubt start at being told of his obligation to the pickpockets of London. And the rogues are little aware of their influence in political economy; but I have stated a plain fact, which, if you have any doubts about it, pray submit both to Sir George himself, and to Mr. M'Culloch.
That is, indeed, an ill-wind which blows no good. We owe every thing, over and above mere subsistence, to the wickedness of the people of England. Who built Sydney? Convicts? Who made the excellent roads from Sydney to Parramatta, Windsor, and Liverpool? Convicts. By whom is the land made to produce? By convicts. Why do not all our labourers exact high wages, and, by taking a large share of the produce of labour, prevent their employers from becoming rich? Because most of them are convicts. What has enabled the landowner readily to dispose of his surplus produce? The demand of the keepers of convicts. What has brought so many ships to Port Jackson, and occasioned a further demand for agricultural produce? The transportation of convicts. What has tempted free emigrants, to bring capital into the settlement? The true stories that they heard of fortunes made by employing the cheap labour of convicts. But here are questions and answers enough. The case is plain. Nearly all that we possess has arisen from the happy influence of penal emigration and discipline, on production, distribution, and consumption. Thanks to the system of transportation, we have have had cheap labour and a ready market; production, consequently, has exceeded consumption; and the degree of that excess is the measure of our accumulation—that is, of our wealth.*
[* "Place us on an equal footing with New South Wales, by giving us a share in those benefits which must, more or less, accrue from supporting convicts and from convict labour."—Suggestions on the propriety of re-introducing British Convict Labour into British North America. By a Canadian. London, 1824.]
But will transportation continue to exert the same happy influence on our condition? t think not. If, for every acre of land that may be appropriated here, there should be a conviction for felony in England, our prosperity would rest on a solid basis; but, however earnestly we may desire it, we cannot expect that the increase of crime will keep pace with the spread of colonization. What, then, must happen? Every day sees an increase in the number of employers of labour, without a proportionate increase in the number of labourers. As convicts are fairly distributed amongst those who want them, the general increase of demand diminishes the supply to each settler. Twenty thousand convicts, divided amongst five hundred settlers, would give to each settler forty pair of bands, wherewith to obtain for his wife a superb landau and plenty of gunpowder; but divide the same number of convicts amongst ten times the number of settlers, and poverty, in respect to every thing above mere subsistence, must be the lot of all. During forty years we have combined the fire and water of political economy—cheap land and cheap labour. The result is, no doubt, astonishing: but, as that strange union of contradictions is almost at an end, so what it has produced will vanish like a steam-cloud produced by the fire and water of physics, which can be maintained only by the constant action of its cause. The union of cheapness of labour with cheapness of land depended on the proportion which labour bore to appropriated land. Alter that proportion, either by diminishing the quantity of labour, or increasing the quantity of land, and you dissolve the unnatural union. Every day, I must repeat, sees an increase in the quantity of; land, whilst the quantity of labour remains the same. Ten years hence land will be as cheap as ever, and we shall talk of cheap labour as a thing that was. Ten years hence, perhaps sooner, the peculiar cheapness of land, which is a natural attribute of this country, must operate without a check; the accumulation of wealth must cease; and most of that creation from nothing, which astonishes the hasty observer, will gradually perish.
These are my opinions. If I am not mistaken, I am not wrong in supposing that we shall become a Tartar people. "Perhaps not," you say; "but why bore me by dwelling so wearisomely on cheap land and dear labour?" Because, I answer, you have asked for information about a new country.
In favour of the speculation—First, the unlimited extent of natural pasturage will allow an unlimited increase of sheep. Secondly, the food provided by nature is peculiarly agreeable to the animal, but not more so than the climate, which, it is now ascertained, causes a great improvement in the native fleece. Thirdly, owing to an abundance of natural food throughout the year, and to our mild climate, which forbids the use of clothes or buildings, as well as to the very nature of the pursuit, sheep farming may be conducted with very little labour. It is not affected, therefore, by that colonial curse, the scarcity of labour. Fourthly, as wool is light, and nearly imperishable, it may easily be conveyed to market, notwithstanding the want of internal communications, which, in respect to heavier and less durable goods, would check production, even though labour were plentiful. Fifthly, there exists in England a demand for Australian wool, where also there is a supply of goods required by us. Thus we have a market of exchange for the commodity that we can most readily furnish. Lastly, very considerable fortunes have been made and secured, and even carried to England, by Australian flock-masters.
On the other hand, against the speculation, there are all the circumstances apparently in favour of it, not excepting even the last. Your question, mind, applies not to quantity, but to profit only. Last year we exported to England above 1,500,000lbs. of wool. Our fine wooled sheep, of which none that will live are killed, double themselves every third year. Your demand for foreign wool somewhat exceeds 30,000,000lbs. We might, therefore, in less than fifteen years, supply the whole of your demand, and a great deal more. That we shall do so within twenty years I firmly believe. For the six reasons stated above, there is no assignable limit to our capacity for production, and there is every possible encouragement to over-production. May not, then, the wool-grower of Australasia be permanently, like the French wine-growers at this time, "rich in goods, and yet ruined?" Not so, you think. The laws of political economy will operate as usual; the want of profit will divert capital to some other employment; and a diminution of supply will enliven the market and raise the price. This argument is, no doubt, conclusive when applied to the glut of a commodity of which the production is expensive. As soon as the poorer wine-growers of France shall be destroyed by lowness of price, a less quantity will be produced, and those who weather the storm of low prices will once more obtain satisfactory profits. So, also, the over production of wool in Germany, where rent, taxes, and an unfavourable climate, occasion heavy expenses, would cure itself by means of low prices and the diversion of capital. But here, remember, wool may be produced almost without expense. Indeed, now that we have an ample stock of fine fleeced sheep, the quantity would increase of its own accord, if not in spite of us. The demand, it is evident, will not keep pace with our production, and the over-production will be perpetual. What must result but a gradual fall of prices and permanent low profits? I do not pretend of course, that we shall continue to send wool to England, unless you continue to offer us a remunerating price. All I assert is, that we shall very soon produce so large a quantity as to bring down the price far below the mark of high profits, and that a continued excess of production will maintain perpetual low prices.
Still, you say, large fortunes have been made in New South Wales by breeding sheep. Unquestionably; but if you inquire into the causes of that fact, and look at its effects, you will not mention it again as an argument in favour of the speculation. Hitherto the demand for wool has been equal to the supply, and those who took advantage of the extraordinary facilities for production which this country affords, have obtained high prices for a commodity which cost them very little. Those very facilities, I have endeavoured to show, now threaten to alter the relation between demand and supply, and to cause a proportionate fall of price and of profits. But our rich sheep farmers owe their fortunes, not so much to the high price, in proportion to the cost of production, which they have hitherto obtained for wool, as to the monoply which they have had of an article still more in demand than wool itself—namely, fine-fleeced sheep. Mr. Macarthur, for instance, who was the first to perceive how admirably this country is suited to sheep-farming, made more money by the sale of sheep to his fellow colonists than by the sale of fleeces to the wool-staplers of London. Possessing, upon this subject, a monopoly of good sense, foresight, and enterprise, he brought into the colony a stock of fine-wooled sheep, and thus secured, during several years, a most profitable monopoly in trade. But the advantage that he, and others who followed his example, enjoyed for some time, has already exhausted itself. The supply of sheep for stock is already equal to the demand; a great fall in price has ensued; and as sheep increase much faster than people, there is no chance of an alteration favourable to the flock-owner. Consequently, we must not infer that, because at one time riches were obtained by sheep-farming, that pursuit will bestow riches in future. Indeed, looking now at the effects of the fact which I admit—at the eager desire which it has created amongst all classes here to extend the production of wool; at your London companies formed for that purpose, with their two millions of capital; at the number of emigrants that it has brought, and is still bringing to the Colony, provided with crack flocks, and bent upon driving the Spaniards and Saxons out of the English market;—looking, I say, at all these immediate consequences of past success in sheep-farming, I think that the undoubted fact will be one main cause of over-production and low profits in future. In support of this opinion, I must tell you that the breeding of coarse-wooled sheep for mutton was, until lately, a very profitable trade; but that now all the meat of a fat wether sells for little more than the cost of driving him to market, killing him, skinning him, cutting him up, and selling him piecemeal.* Where then is the return for breeding and fattening him? Why, the truth is, that Nature, who is not particular about returns, conducts nearly all that part of the business. I have read that at one time the price of a horse in South America was 200 ounces of gold, and of a cow 150 ounces. Not many years later, as now in some of the plains eastward of the Andes cows and horses were to be had for the ditching. I do not mean to say that Australasia will abound in wild wool to be obtained on such very easy terms, because sheep, if allowed to run wild, would either degenerate or perish; but extraordinary facilities for unlimited and almost costless production interdict large profits; Nature has provided those facilities; Mr. Macarthur and his followers have taken care that they shall operate to the utmost, and large profits, therefore, are henceforth, in my humble opinion, out of the case.
[* "At this time" (a sudden and but temporary demand for mutton having arisen) "many persons considered themselves fortunate in having an opportunity of diminishing their flocks, by killing the ewes when heavy with lamb. They spoke of them as vermin, which, if they were not kept down, would soon over-run the country. An indiscriminate slaughter and destruction of stock was kept up during the whole year of 1820; and the people were at last surprised to find that their flocks were greatly diminished,—that it was a less evil to have too much stock than too little,—and that it would not be impracticable to exterminate it altogether."—Account of Van Diemen's Land by Edward Curr. Page 67.]
If you could procure a conviction for felony in England for every half dozen lambs that may be dropped here, or for, what would amount to the same thing, every acre of land granted by the crown, then, indeed, the increase of people, and of demand for mutton and wool, would keep pace with production, and the case would be wholly altered. But where is the use of wishing for impossibilities? Carefully examine both sides of the question, and judge for yourself.
A bright thought lately entered my head —it was this. Suppose that your Parliament should make it a transportable offence to contract marriage without a provision for children; * and that we, in return for the incalculable benefits thereby conferred upon us, should defray the whole cost of transportation; would not all parties be gainers by the measure? You would save nearly the whole amount of your poor-rates, and of what you must otherwise spend in the prevention and punishment of crimes dictated by misery; we should gain more millions than you would save; for, though each unhappy pair should cost us fifty pounds, their labour and the labour of their children, would repay us a thousand fold, and the new married convicts, poor things, whom we should receive with open arms, would be the greatest gainers of all; as, wanting the means of subsistence, they would obtain plenty for themselves and a fine provision for their children. In the penal act suggested it would be well to insert these clauses:—1st. Provided that persons transported as aforesaid, shall , immediately on touching the shores of Australia, be at liberty to dispose of their labour to the highest bidder. 2nd. Provided that parties accused of the offence created by this Statute shall not be prosecuted without their free consent in writing first had and obtained. These provisions would take off the seeming harshness of the law, and would, no doubt, promote convictions; but it would at the same time be absolutely necessary to forbid the transports from becoming owners of land. Otherwise, as before explained, they would not remain labourers, but would become employers of labourers. What think you of the plan? When I mentioned it to our Chief Justice, he, thinking I meant to insult him, coloured up, and said, "are you mad?" I did not answer, but took comfort, repeating to myself after the Abbé Raynal, "Madmen sometimes utter words of profound meaning."
[* Brighton Police—Present, S. F.
Milford and W. Seymour, Esqrs.—George Back, attended by
his wife and five small children, requested the bench would order
the overseers to give him some employ, or that his children might
be taken to the poor house. He had applied everywhere, both in
town and country, but could not meet with any employ. He said
that he was willing to work, if he could get any. Mr. Harper, the
assistant overseer, stated that the parish had given the
applicant work; but now, as the time was coming on when work
would be plentiful, the directors and guardians had given orders
that the applicant should seek work. The directors and guardians
could not find work for every applicant all the year round;
besides. Back was not an industrious man; the whole family were
an idle set, and not willing to work. The applicant denied the
charge, which he said might be very convenient. Mr. Harper had
threatened to punish him if he applied to the magistrates for
relief. What was he to do with his family?—he had tried
every place. Mr. Seymour—'These misfortunes occur through
the impropriety of poor persons marrying without any thoughts of
how they are to maintain a wife and family. Persons who possess
small property should have the precaution to remain single.
Poor persons have no right to marry, throwing a heavy
burden on the parish by their families. It is a very great evil.'
The magistrates recommend the parish should find the applicant
work, with the understanding that he should obtain other
employment, if possible."—Brighton Guardian Newspaper,
September 10, 1829.]
It is true, however, that the English Governors of Australasia have begun to establish the old-fashioned institution of coast-blockade in this newest world, and so to convert that friendly bond, the sea, into a hostile barrier. As if their subjects were not criminal enough: or, willing, perhaps, that those who have been brought here by smuggling should resume their old trade, that they have bestowed upon us a "Commercial System." One of its provisions deserves to be known. For the declared purpose of forcing the northern settlers of Van Diemen's Land to buy and sell at the southern extremity of the island, it has been ordered that English goods imported from Port Jackson to Port Dalrymple, shall pay an extraordinary duty; but the object of this absurd measure has not been attained. The dealers of Launceston would not travel across the island to deal at Hobart's Town. They preferred to give something more, and receive something less, in their own shops. The duty is paid, either to Government or to the smugglers, and goods are exchanged as before. The sea, therefore, still enables fellow-countrymen and brothers, living on either shore of Bass's Strait, to maintain an intimate connection. And it will continue to perform that office; for though, no doubt, the duty in question may, for a time, lengthen the commercial distance between New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land,—just as an extra duty on Port wine, imported any where but at Leith, would lengthen the commercial distance between Lisbon and Southampton,—still men die, and their absurdities perish; whilst the principles of reason and justice are eternal, and the world's knowledge of them increases from day to day.
Why am I so angry with our rulers for treating these districts of Australasia as "natural enemies?" Because I am an apostate from their view of the subject. I did not think of pulling the mote out of their eye till I had cast the beam out of my own. On my passage to this place, by way of North America, I built many castles in the air. I then intended to settle in Van Diemen's Land, because I fancied that its insular position and small extent would render it, not merely foreign, but also superior, to New South Wales. All the land, thought I, in that beautiful island will soon be appropriated. The people will increase rapidly, and will be unable to spread. The proportion between people and territory will be like that of an old country. Labour, therefore, will be plentiful, and, perhaps, even cheap; at least, there will not be a scarcity of dear labour. Division of labour will follow. That will cause, as, indeed, nothing else can cause, great production. Wages being moderate, the employer of labour will take a large share of a great produce. This will cause accumulation; and the accumulated produce of labour is wealth. Wealth will bestow leisure; and leisure will bestow knowledge. Wealth, leisure, and knowledge mean civilization. Schools and colleges will be established. The arts and sciences will flourish, because artists and discoverers will be paid and honoured. Abstract truth will be sought, because its pursuit will be rewarded; and this will make philosophers. A little island of the Southern Ocean will produce painters, sculptors, poets, orators, and friends of mankind. A nation will be born free, under a clear sky, and will be highly instructed. Being a new people, they will reject the prejudices, whilst they improve the accumulated knowledge, of other worlds; and, at length, it will be fairly decided whether or not man can reach perfection.
Moreover, my estate of ten thousand acres will yield a rent of ten thousand pounds a-year!
This was my foolish dream. Its basis was delusion, which vanished in America. I became acquainted with a citizen at New York, whose eldest son was still a youth at college. The father wished that his boy should continue to study for three years longer, and it was proposed that he should afterwards visit Europe, to gather knowledge that might make him useful to his country. The stripling was in love with a neighbour's daughter, and not much inclined to study. He asked his father's leave to marry and become a man; that is, to make nails for his coffin, by making children whilst yet a child, and to smoke, drink rum before breakfast, and choose a side in the paltry, but violent, party politics of the state. The father objected, mentioning the affectionate reasons that weighed with him; and the son asserted, what in America is called the dignity of human nature, by departing with his neighbour's daughter, and settling in the back woods, twelve hundred miles from home. Afterwards, on the banks of the Illinois, I met with a labouring man, who was always tipsy without ever being drunk. Enervated by dram-drinking, he had not the courage to obtain a bit of forest and settle; but he could earn seven shillings a day by his labour. When I spoke to him, he complained of low wages. "At New York, friend," said I, "five shillings a day are thought quite enough." "I know that," he answered,; "I was born there, and came here to get eight shillings a day, which, I was told, was the lowest rate hereabouts." It turned out that he never worked more than three days in the week, and that, in order to obtain twenty-four shillings a week by three days' labour, he had made a circuitous voyage of some thousand miles from the place where he was born, and where he could have earned thirty shillings a week by working every day.
These and many similar instances of the migrating habits of the Americans, opened my eyes. I saw a people without monuments, without history, without local attachments founded on impressions of the past, without any love of birth-place, without patriotism—unless men constantly roaming over immense regions may be called a country. I saw Europeans, the only visitors at the grave of Franklin, and heard Americans titter at Englishmen for admiring the other founders of America. I learned that, with a new people, restlessness is a passion, insatiable whilst any means of indulging it remain; a disease, incurable but by cutting away its source. "What a blessing," I exclaimed, "for the present race of Americans, if the Pacific should overflow all the land that separates it from the Mississippi!" And then it occurred to me that my hopes of Tasmania were a dream, which could not come true, unless the rest of Australasia were swallowed by the sea. What had been my delusion? I had fancied that the waves which surround Van Diemen's Land would prevent its inhabitants from spreading; and that concentration would produce, what never did, and never can, exist without it—civilization. I know, now, that it is easier to migrate from the coast of Van Diemen's Land to the Southern and Eastern coasts of Australia, which present a line of many thousand miles, than from some interior parts of the island to others not fifty miles distant. I believe, therefore, that New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land are one and the same colony, and that they will become, at the same time, districts of one and the same country, remaining equally barbarous till the year 3000, and becoming afterwards equally civilized, if the world should last so long.
You will not accuse me of underrating the value of convicts. To make it impossible, however, I once more declare my belief that this is a flourishing settlement, merely because it is a Penal settlement, and that it would immediately fall into a state of torpor and insignificance, if your Government should abandon the system of transportation. That system, indeed, is itself a system of colonization; and as colonization means the creation and increase of every thing but land, where there is nothing except land, any system, provided that colonization must be pursued at all events, is surely better than none. Where else, in modern times at least, has colonization been pursued with any kind of system? Still the system is full of evil. So long as the whole colonial population consisted only of criminals and their keepers, there was no ground for complaint; because, though the keepers had not committed felony, they were not obliged to live with felons unless they liked it. But the case 19 now greatly altered. I say nothing of those Englishmen who wilfully migrated to a penal settlement; and it is of no importance, therefore, whether or not the British Government encouraged them to settle here. But they brought children with them; they have produced children here; convicts also brought and have produced children; and the native Australasians form the cream, the flower of the colony. Not one of these either is a felon, or could have avoided living amongst felons. They were born, every one of them, with the very same rights as belong to native Englishmen, and they have done nothing to forfeit any of those rights. Is not an Englishman's first right equality before the law? But if the law should direct all rogues convicted in Yorkshire to be domiciliated in Kent, would not the Men of Kent complain, and with truth, of a shameful violation of their birth-right?—Of course; but the cases are not parallel, unless we suppose the Men of Kent to bear as small a proportion to the' inhabitants of Yorkshire as that of the native Australasians to the whole people of Britain. It would be just to drive one man mad by passing a rail-road close to his study, in order that the numerous inhabitants of two towns should exchange their wares somewhat more quickly; the few, in short, must suffer for the good of the many.—The maxim is a good one, but not applicable to this question, unless we first prove that it is impossible to serve the many without injuring the few. If the two towns could be accommodated by passing a rail-road any where but close to the man's study, it would be cruelly unjust to drive him mad. Now, nothing can be more evident than that British criminals might, for all British purposes, be transported to parts of Australasia where there are no British subjects to injure.—Yes; but then the greater expence of fresh establishments?—That might be a question of fact; but admit the fact, and allow also, that in order to save the pockets of the many, it is just to inflict a great moral injury on the few; still, what if the moral injury must necessarily descend to the successors of the few; and if it be certain that the injured will, in time, acquire a numerical proportion to the benefited, such as to throw the words few and many out of the argument? What if, in the case of the rail-road, it were sure that the studious man's madness would descend from him to a number equal to the inhabitants of both towns? In that case, clearly, the injury must not be done.—But the constant influx of criminals into New South Wales is, though a moral injury in one respect, a great pecuniary benefit, and in that point of view a moral benefit, because wealth is the parent of civilization.—Let us not confound the past with the present, much less with the future. The effect of penal slavery in producing wealth must, as has been already explained, depend altogether on the proportion of cheap slaves to the employers of slave-labour. If, henceforth, convicts shall be fairly divided amongst all who want labourers, they will not confer wealth upon any man. If they should be unfairly distributed by favour, so as to bestow upon a few persons only the means of wealth, that would not be a general benefit; and such partiality would be injurious, in another light, by causing furious ill-will amongst the colonists. It follows that to domiciliate the criminals of Britain amongst those British subjects not criminal, who reside in Australasia, is unjust and wicked, provided the system be calculated to do the latter and their posterity a great moral injury.
That the system abounds with evil it will not be difficult to establish.
In the first place. The insecurity of life and property that it occasions is a manifest evil. Bush-ranging is a dreadful evil, being a kind of land piracy. None but back settlers, it is true, are exposed to its burnings, rapes, and massacres; but these are as much British subjects as the inhabitants of Sydney or of Downing-street. And, if the inhabitants of towns escape those horrors, they are liable to be murdered in a quiet way, and their property is exposed to every kind of depredation. Their actual losses by robbery, including the expence and loss of time occasioned by prosecutions, are very great.
Secondly, The population not legally criminal, is corrupted by the constant example of crime, and the frequent sight of bloody punishments. What sense of right can children acquire, where villainy is the rule, and honesty the exception; where they must needs associate familiarly with depraved men and women, who use every art to convert them to vice; where law has no moral force; where general opinion favours the criminal; where to break the law is a merit, and to elude its grasp an honourable achievement; where, above all, human beings are continually hanged in rows, as cattle are slaughtered in the French abattoirs? Is not this an evil?
Thirdly, Convict labour being a kind of slavery, the employer of convicts is a species of slave-driver, and his children are little slave-drivers. As his slaves have more rights and more reason than the black slaves of Virginia, his position is more injurious to his character than that of the Virginian slave-owner. Unless you are a natural devil, you can treat your horses and dogs without cruelty; but if those brutes should acquire some of the rights and reason of men, they would make a devil of you in spite of your natural good temper. You may kill them now without hindrance or punishment;—therefore you never think of such a thing; but if they could complain of you, and get you punished, for beating them, or for giving them too little oats and tripe, you would often long to kill them, and you might gratify your wish by a safe, legal, slow-torture process, far more cruel than the pole-axe and the rope. God help the poor horse whose master returns to it, in his own snug stable, after being fined under Mr. Martin's Act for beating it in public! The Guardian of Slaves at the Cape of Good Hope, reports "instances of ill-treatment, which may be ascribed to a tendency in some parts of the slave population to acts of insubordination, arising, perhaps, from an erroneous idea respecting the rights of the master, the intention of the Government in the appointment of a Guardian, and the nature of the protection to be afforded by that officer." Of course! To place men in the situation of cattle, with rights, reason, and a guardian, was to increase the quantity, though it might alter the character, of the sufferings which they endured whilst they remained nominal men, but real cattle. One can imagine a kind master of downright slaves; but to drive men, half slaves and half freemen, must make the driver a brute. Here, also, we have guardians of slaves. But our slaves have more rights and more intelligence than those of any other colony. There is more "insubordination," consequently, on the one hand, and on the other, more fear. Apply to the well known character of a Virginian planter an extra dose of those qualities which spring from quarrelling and terror, and you will see that the injury done to the character of the master by our slave system, is quite perfect. Is not this a great evil?
Fourthly, The base language of English thieves is becoming the established language of the colony. Terms of slang and flash are used, as a matter of course, everywhere, from the gaols to the Viceroy's palace, not excepting the Bar and the Bench. No doubt they will be reckoned quite parliamentary, as soon as we obtain a parliament. It is common to reproach the Americans with having departed from the language of their ancestors; but the fact is, that most of the words which we suppose them to have coined, are current, at this day, in different parts of England, Dear old Franklin tried in vain to establish the best English in America. Had he lived till now, experience would have taught him that, whilst, in old countries, modes and manners flow downwards from the higher classes, they must, in new countries, ascend from the lowest class. Though in England the son of a costermonger may become a peer, the individual donkey-driver cannot-whereas a great portion of the magnates of Australasia not only may, but necessarily must, have formed, in their own persons, part of the dregs of society. Hence, bearing in mind that our lowest class brought with it a peculiar language, and is constantly supplied with fresh corruption, you will understand why pure English is not, and is not likely to become, the language of the colony. This is not a very serious evil; and I mention it only to elucidate what follows.
Fifthly, The system of transportation is establishing, along with a base language, and in the very same manner, a general habit of drunkenness. No wonder that some Americans should have formed "Societies for the suppression of Dram-drinking." But will their exertions prove successful, whilst modes and manners continue to flow upwards to, instead of downwards from, their proper source? The actual source of the drunken habits which brutify this people is your St. Giles's; and the foul stream is constantly maintained by you. What need I say more, after noticing that the temperature of this part of Australasia is like that of the countries for which Mahomet legislated?
Lastly, The transportation of at least ten males for one female, maintains a great disproportion between the sexes. This is the greatest evil of all. If I hate any thing, it is Cant. And I should think it impertinent to obtrude upon any one my notions of individual morality. But this is a great public evil; and in a public sense, I have a right to speak of its consequences with indignation. The subject, however, is a grave one, and shall be treated gravely. Know then, that, in this British colony, open, naked, broad-day, prostitution is as common as in Otaheite. Are there not societies in England, which have expended millions in sending men and books to the heathen? Why do not they send some women to this abandoned community of their fellow Christians? Are not those devout persons surrounded by unfortunates, who become prostitutes for want of bread? Tell them that, here, prostitution is owing solely to the want of women, and that there is abundance of bread for any number of poor creatures that they might mercifully send to us. Tell them, moreover, that if they will equalize the sexes, we offer a husband, plenty, and a virtuous life, to every one of the miserable beings whom they may charitably withdraw frow sin and misery. Can they, though, be ignorant of the depravity that reigns here? For what do they combine and subscribe? For the promotion of religion and morality all over the world! And are they not intimately acquainted with the vices of savages in obscure regions, to which none but their own active missionaries can penetrate? If you think that they do not know the condition of these their fellow subjects, inform them of it. Tell them in plain terms, so as to leave them without the excuse of ignorance, that every female child in this colony, not defended by parents of some influence, is sure to be hunted by a dozen roaring lions, and that her destruction is almost inevitable; that the frequency of early corruption has already established a general license of manners; that mothers are not ashamed to sell their own daughters, even before the young creatures know what chastity means; that husbands make a market of their wives; that early prostitution occasions barrenness; and that the origin of all this evil—the inequality of the sexes—is partly maintained by the evil itself.
Do they imagine that the evil may be cured otherwise than by equalizing the sexes? Would they make prostitution a legal offence? Would they put an end to the general corruption of females, by restraining and punishing incontinence? Let them beware! Let them first consult some captains of men-of-war, or his Majesty's Secretary of State for the Colonies, who, if truly informed of the moral state of this people, will tell them, for God's sake, to beware! It is a fact, a miserable truth, that the most virtuous and sensible of the Colonists are fain to rejoice at every addition to the class of prostitutes; at every sale, that is, of a female child by her own parents, of a wife by her own husband; at the earliest possible destruction of innocence; at the greatest possible female corruption. Good and wise men, they choose the least of two dreadful evils. Can it be true that this colony is within the jurisdiction of an English bishop, and that we have a body of regular clergy, with many other Christian ministers, not wanting in zeal? Yes, this is true; and yet habits are taking a firm root amongst the people, which must gradually become indigenous, national; and which, in time, may not leave ten righteous to save the city. Blame neither the clergy nor the people. Blame the system, which leaves not even a choice of evils, but decrees, as plainly as ever cause produced effect, that either evil can be less, only as the other is greater; and that, in whatever proportion to each other, both shall, by the force of example and habit, increase with the increase of people, notwithstanding the ultimate removal of the original cause.
Do you doubt the fact, because it is not reported in published accounts of the colony? Remember that hitherto the proportion of cheap slaves to their employers has conferred wealth upon the latter; that every employer of labour longs within the most selfish recesses of his heart, for an increase in the amount of transportation, and loudly expresses his dread lest the parent Government should disgorge its criminals on any shore but this. Can human nature be so base? Look at home. How many English farmers do never secretly wish for rain after their own crop is housed? How many English landlords abstain from supporting the Corn Laws, which, by rendering bread scarce, fill hospitals and gaols? If this fact had been brought before the English nation, if they had been told that they are creating from their own loins a nation of Cyprians and Turks, they might have disposed of their criminals in some other manner. And was it to be expected that the colonists should, as they term it, "cut their own throats," by asking to be deprived of their only means of wealth? If you still want a reason for the silence of colonial writers, remember who they are. Are they not colonists? could you expect them to disparage their country?
For my part, having inherited what is wealth to me, I, though a colonist, have no interest in the maintenance of penal slavery; and I had rather serve, than flatter, my adopted country. If there were a reasonable prospect, or only an even chance, that the evil would wear itself out, the least knowledge of the world must dictate silence; but will not the future be an aggravation of the present? Recollect what has been said of language and drunkenness; that laws are mere words unless upheld by opinion; and that habit is a second nature. If, again, the evil were incurable, the least share of discretion would command silence; but it is caused solely by an extreme disproportion between the sexes, which has been caused, and is now maintained, by the British legislature! You cannot recall the past; but you must deplore the present, and you may controul the future. A law of your parliament is opposed to the laws of nature—repeal it, and we are saved. If you do not, at least, modify it, so as to give us, with the poison, a partial antidote—that is, fewer men or more women; you will surely (and this is no anti-climax), hear again and again of the intolerable subject.
Meanwhile, if General Murray should be Colonial Minister when you receive this, find your way to his closet. Repeat to him my earnest, though too feeble, complaint. He is a man of business, and will hear you. He is a man of the world, and will understand you. He is a reasonable man, and will not deny that such causes must produce such effects. He is a statesman, and will acknowledge the injustice of inflicting so many curses upon any body of his master's equal subjects. He is a brave man, and will not hesitate to probe the wound. He is a gallant gentleman, and will pity this young race. He is an eloquent man—perhaps he will undertake their cause. He must be capable of generous emotions, or he could not shine as an orator; if, in this case, he should give way to the noblest feelings of his heart, millions yet unborn will have to bless his name.
I have done with the dark side of the picture.
Enough of my grandmother.—But, notwithstanding the great increase of knowledge which she deplored, English people generally do consider New Holland "terribly out of the way." Out of the way of what? Of England? Yes; but is every part of the world a pleasant or hateful residence, only according to its facilities of communication with England? Any people, no doubt, must be the better for communication with the most civilized people in the world; but the degree of intercourse between nations is not entirely regulated by distance. Indeed; distance has very little to do with it, as appears by comparing the case of France and Spain, with that of England and India. Perhaps, if there were no restrictions on trade, the greatest difference of temperature, which involves considerable distance, would cause the greatest degree of intercourse, by means of the greatest difference of production, and the greatest motive for exchange. But, however this may be, I suspect that those who despise New Holland on account of its being out of the way of England, would, if they could be forced to think on the subject, acknowledge that they do not mean exactly what they say. Comparing the inhabitants of Pest, for example, with those of Calcutta, they would see that wealth and civilization are not measured by the longitude from Greenwich; and a glance at Loo Choo might convince them, if Captain Hall was not deceived, that happiness does not depend on geographical position with respect to England. But, without inquiry, a moment's reflection would lead them to use other words. They do not mean, though they say so, out of the way with respect to England, but positively out of the way—that is, isolated and distant from the rest of the world—"down in the corner," as my grandmother said. This old woman's notion appears to arise from confusion of ideas. Because New Holland is more distant from England than some well-known distant places, the vulgar suppose that it must also be more distant from those places. Whereas the very contrary is the fact; the distance of those places from England placing them near to New Holland. There is a great difference, in short, between looking to a place and looking from it; and my grandmother thought there was no difference. Now the situation of a country is of importance to those who live in it, rather than to those who do not; and the former also will, looking from the country, make the truest estimate of what good or evil may belong to its position with respect to other countries. Call upon your imagination, therefore. Fancy yourself here. And for fear of my grandmother's "down in the corner," look at a globe, or divide a chart of the world, transposing the parts laterally, but without turning them upside down.
Where is England? Up in the left-hand corner—And New Holland? Let an English writer answer—"In order to obtain a connected view of the loftiest and most extensive system of mountains upon the globe, we must suppose ourselves placed in New Holland with our face turned towards the north. America will then be on the right, Asia and Africa on the left. From Cape Horn to Behring's Strait, along the western coast of America, there is an almost uninterrupted range of the highest mountains; from Behring's Strait again, succeeds an enormous line passing in a south-westerly direction through Asia, leaving China and Hindostan to the south, somewhat interrupted as it approaches Africa, but still to be looked upon as continuing its course in the mountains of Persia and Arabia Felix. From Cape Gardafui, in Africa, to the Cape of Good Hope, there appears to be a chain which completes the view. The series of mountains which we have thus followed, is in the form of an immense irregular curve, which comprises within it the Pacific and Indian Oceans, with their innumerable islands, besides a portion of Asia, including China, the Burman dominions, and the Indian peninsula." The situation of New Holland with respect to this "immense irregular curve," is like that of the frog of a horse's foot to the outline of the shoe; the most favourable position imaginable for intercourse with all that the curve contains. Remark, also, that Australasia has a territorial line of above eight thousand miles, immediately connected by water with those numerous countries, of which, again, nearly all the rivers flow towards a common centre, which is New Holland. Add to this, that those countries comprise not only every degree of latitude, north and south, as far as land extends, but the most fertile, and, above all, the most populous regions of the earth. Thus it becomes evident that Australasia, instead of being positively "out of the way," offers, all at once, better means and greater motives, for a more frequent intercourse with a greater variety of nations and a larger number of people, than any other country without exception. But what avails this super-excellent position, unless there were civilized men to enjoy it? Let us see whether the country be capable of supporting a numerous population.
We have, however, some other knowledge. A good portion of Eastern Australia has been thoroughly examined by men whose researches were not confined to the coast, who were glad to find the country thinly peopled, and with whom "plenty of fresh water" was not, as it is with the sailors on desert coasts, a ruling idea. Experience, in a word, has proved New South Wales to be as habitable as any country in the world. Van Diemen's Land, also, which was represented by the French as a dreary mass of rocks, a butt to the storms, and a breaker to the waves, of the Southern Ocean, where—
Forth burst the stormy band with thundering roar,
And heaps on heaps the clouds are tost before;
To the wide main then stooping from the skies,
The heaving deeps in watery mountains rise"—
turns out, to those who live there, a very quiet, comfortable island, not less suited to be the abode of man than the most fortunate department of France. Lastly, a part of Western Australia, which, by the French again, as well as by the Dutch, Portuguese, Spaniards, and English, was described as subject, like Van Diemen's Land, to the most dreadful storms, and as presenting a mass of mere sand-hummocks; having at length been carefully examined by a landsman, appears, as he says, "superior to any land that he ever saw in New South Wales east of the Blue Mountains, not only in its local character, but in the many existing advantages which it holds out to settlers." I do not vouch for the accuracy of Mr. Frazer's report, though I believe that it will be verified by the experiment now in progress. If the emigrants to Cockburn Sound should soon be over-supplied with mere food, (which, without slaves, either black or white, is the utmost that they can expect,) the reports of ages will be falsified in a third instance, and we shall have another motive for judging of the unsettled parts of this country, rather by analogy than by the statements of coast surveyors.
Pursuing the former method, referring to countries of a corresponding latitude in both hemispheres, and to what is established beyond a doubt as to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, may we not conclude that Australasia, generally, is capable of supporting a dense population? I do not pretend to decide the question, and your means of judging are almost equal to mine. Consult your maps and books, therefore, and judge for yourself. I venture, however, to recommend, that whilst studying the subject, and particularly when reading works that treat of this country, you bear in mind the following considerations:—
1. The line of heat is two or three degrees north of the equator; consequently, our tropic corresponds with a line by so much north of yours.
2. A high temperature and great humidity of soil seem to be incompatible with health.
3. Countries having a very dry soil, and reckoned amongst the happiest spots on the globe, receive a greater quantity of rain than some countries where few days pass without rain. In the course of a year, for instance, more rain falls in New South Wales than in England.
4. Most of the European and Asiatic countries, lying between the latitudes 25° and 45°, which correspond with the extra-tropical portion of Australasia, either do actually support, or have supported, a dense population. Though their soil be dry and naturally unfertile, it becomes productive through the skill of man in raising water to the surface, preserving rain water, and distributing both. Great part of Italy, for example, would be unproductive, but for wells, reservoirs, and canals of irrigation; and, in the now desert countries about the Caspian Sea, where the remains of cities abound, ruined wells, tanks, and aqueducts, prove that, until the people perished through moral causes, they were preserved by their skill in the management of water.
5. Englishmen being used at home to consider water an enemy, and to exercise much skill in getting rid of it, are ignorant of the means by which, in countries where the sun exerts great power, water becomes the first agent of production. When an Englishman, therefore, laments over the blasting effects of drought in New South Wales, he should be reminded that in Italy, Greece, and Asia Minor, "the dry season" is the season of vegetation. But it is not owing to their ignorance only that Englishmen in New South Wales have neglected the management of water. It is owing, principally, to the scantiness of their number in proportion to the soil at their disposal. Where labourers are scarce, it must be impossible to form reservoirs and aqueducts; and where scarcity of labourers is occasioned by excess of territory, it would, also, be useless to do so. Why should we exert ourselves to cultivate the sandstone district near Sydney, whilst there is, at a distance, unappropriated land naturally productive? If fifty thousand acres of the now desert land near Sydney could be removed, and attached to the coast of Genoa, they would soon produce rich harvests; but we are not to blame for our neglect of what would be so much prized in Europe. All I wish you to remember is, that, though what has occurred here proves a good deal, it has not by any means proved the utmost capacity of this part of Australasia to support a dense population.
6. Partly from ignorance, and partly from necessity, the cultivators of New South Wales have failed, in another respect, to give their soil a fair trial. They are still bent upon growing English wheat, though experience might have satisfied them that the soil and climate are not agreeable to it. The consequence is that they often complain of bad harvests. Probably, if the Neapolitan territory were depopulated, and given to Englishmen, they would sow wheat rather than maize, and plant gooseberry bushes rather than vines and fig-trees. But time would instruct them; and, if it did but increase their numbers so as to permit the employment of many hands in one fields it would re-establish those productions which, in Italy, maintain a dense population, notwithstanding the curse of bad government. So, in time, though it is impossible to conjecture at what time, the inhabitants of New South Wales will sow and plant with a view to obtain the greatest possible produce from a given space. Then, but not till then, experience and analogy will enable us to estimate with confidence the utmost number of people that the whole country may be capable of supporting. By then, however, the point will be absolutely decided; for no part of this country can become densely, whilst any part shall remain thinly, peopled.
On this interesting question I now leave you to speculate for yourself. Why does not a second Volney migrate to a New America, and furnish to the other worlds a philosophical account of our soil and climate? Europe, at least, would reward his labours. But as it matters little that a country should support many people if they be physically worthless, you must want some account of the influence of our soil and climate on the offspring of British emigrants. This will bring me to the promised chapter upon "Currency Lasses."
"Tous les goûts sont dans la nature; celui qu'on a est le meilleur." In English, "every one to his taste, as the old woman said when she kissed her cow." Nevertheless, in spite of the many proverbs which declare that there is no standard of taste, the same human form which more than two thousand years ago was embodied by Phidias and Praxiteles, is still considered the model of perfection by all refined Europeans. Where does that form most commonly breathe? In Greece, and even in the very Cyprus, where Adonis was conceived, and where the Goddess of Beauty had two temples. You may laugh or sneer; but the latitude of Sydney corresponds exactly with that of Paphos; and it is no less true that the native Australians bear a stronger resemblance to the modern Greeks than to any other people. They have been described as lank, sallow, and relaxed, like the Americans; but I have seen the Apollo and the Venus, some thousands of breathing Greeks, and some millions of Americans; and I assert the description to be false. The Australian youth are neither chubby, ruddy, and strongly knit, like the English, whose otherwise variable climate is almost constantly wet; nor fat, white, thick-skinned, and shapeless, like the Dutch, whose climate is one fog, dripping or frozen; nor indescribable, like the mongrel French, whose climate is neither one thing nor the other; and they are still less like the Americans, whose climate, more variable than that of England, is always in extremes, blowing burning hot and biting cold with the same breath; but they resemble the Castilians, the sea-coast Italians, and more especially the island Greeks, which last enjoy, like them, perpetual summer upon a soil not alluvial.
As to form and mien you shall judge for yourself. The young men of Australia, like Alfieri and Mr. Hope's Modern Greeks are passionately fond of horses. If you would see one of them, look in Flaxman's illustrations of the Iliad, at the figure of Diomed returning with the spoils of Rhesus. The Australian girls, like the girls of Genoa, Naples, and the Archipelago, are passionately fond of swimming. If you would see a group of them, look at Flaxman's sea nymphs obeying the command of Thetis—
"Ye sister Nereids, to your deeps descend."
But Flaxman's outlines represent only form and mien. How shall I paint the rest? As for the young men, I cannot help feeling envious and jealous of their personal beauty: so I shall not mention it again; and you may fancy what you please, or get a woman of observation to take their picture for you. But the girls—oh! that is quite another thing; and I will write for my own pleasure, whether you read or not. And let me ask, by the bye, whether, if the women of a country be generally beautiful, the men, likewise, will not be handsome? Why is the highest class in England better looking, than the others? Because, I imagine, it obtains a constant accession of beautiful women;—men of rank having the largest choice, and marrying to please their eyes; whilst young men of wealth, aspiring to rank, marry girls of condition, the daughters of beauty, and of rank, whose mother was beauty. Thus, not only does the highest class pick out the beauties of two or three classes, but it also keeps its own beauties. Supposing you to agree with me that both sexes of the English highest class, do generally excel in person both sexes of the other classes, it would seem to follow that if the female colonists, generally, are beautiful, beauty in both sexes will be a colonial attribute. However, infer what you like. Here is the fact.
You remember that Genoese girl before whom you trembled, and I became faint, though she only handed us some grapes. Do you remember that, having recovered ourselves, we measured her eye-lashes? Do you remember how long they were, and how she laughed? Do you remember that bright laugh, and how I patted her cheek, and told her that it was softer than her country's velvet? And how she blushed—do you remember that?—to the tips of her fingers and the roots of her hair? And then how ——— do you remember how, peasant as she was, and but just fifteen, she tossed her head, and stamped her little foot, with the air of a Queen? And then how, on a sudden, her large eyes were filled with tears; and the grace with which she folded her arms across that charming bosom; and the tone—I hear it now—the deep, grave, penetrating tone in which, half angry, half afraid, she at once threatened us with her "Berto," and implored our respect? We did not care much for Mr. Berto, certainly; but did we not swear, both together, that not a hair of her head should be hurt? And when, flattered by our involuntary devotion, she departed with a healthy lively step, shewing her small smooth ancles, and now and then turning her profile to us, and laughing as before—did we not, dashing blades as we thought ourselves, snuffle and blow our noses, and shake hands without the least motive, like two fools? And afterwards, notwithstanding that gratuitous fit of friendship, did we not feel jealous of each other for three days, though neither of us could hope to see the little angel again?—Yes, you remember it all. Well, just such another girl as that brings fruit to my door every morning.
I do not pretend, however, that all the girls of Australia are equally beautiful; but I do declare, what you know to be true of the Ligurian girls, that three out of four of them would be considered beauties in Mayfair. The cause—what is the cause? As you love a reason for every thing, I will state my own notion on the subject.
It was after you left me in Italy that I passed a miserable winter at Turin, amongst one of the ugliest races of women in the world. In March, whilst the plain of the Po was still covered with deep frozen snow, and all things above the snow were enveloped in dense, chilling, choking fog, I removed to Genoa. The old track over the Bochetta, by Gavi, was then the only road across that part of the Appenines; and that track led over the narrow top of the highest ridge, so that three turns of a wheel earned the traveller from the climate of the Baltic, as it were, to that of the Mediterranean. The contrast was most delightful, not to the sight only, but to every one of the senses. Instead of only some yards of snow and fog, I beheld, suddenly and at one view, a long range of mountain steps clothed with vegetation, partly of the dark evergreen, partly of the bright green of the spring; and, winding through those wooded hills, the narrow vale of Polcevra with its clear stream and brilliant gardens; and, beyond these, Genoa the Magnificent, with her light-house, domes and marble palaces, glittering in the sun; and last, the Mediterranean itself, rising, apparently to me who looked down upon it, into a huge bank of blue, which formed the back ground of the picture. Was, not this a sight for eyes just thawed? Instead of a cold, damp, motionless atmosphere, I breathed highly rarefied air, and felt the soft breeze pass over my face. I listened, doubting; but it was true—the music of the chestnut groves had begun. Presently there were violets by the road side; and at Campo Marone, the first post-house on the sunny side of the Appenines, I received strawberries from a group of girls, with bare arms and necks and fresh flowers in their hair. I was mad with animal joy. Even my English servant (the same who is now an Australian Aristocrat) felt the genial change. Though morosely glum by nature, he played some monkey's tricks, ogling the strawberry girls and pulling the postilion's tails, before my face. And, though anything but a beauty, his stubborn features expanded with happiness, which makes every animal comely after its kind. In the very act of admiring him I discovered why the Genoese are as lovely as the Alexandrians are frightful. I knew, before, that Alexandria is placed in a swamp between the Alps and the Appenines; that, consequently, its inhabitants are frozen in winter and stifled in summer; and that at Genoa the air, never very cold or very hot, always circulates freely; and I had imagined that this great difference of soil and climate must cause the great difference of person. But I still wanted to know the process by which soil and climate deform or beautify the human creature; and it was this that I learned by observing the friskiness of my valet. The Alexandrians suffer from their birth many inconveniences, restraints, and even torments, which the Genoese escape. They feel, therefore, a greater quantity of pain; or, in other words, the Genoese enjoy more happiness. If the face is the mirror of the mind, the whole form may be an index of the habits. Happiness includes animal liberty, and misery includes restraint. Whatever the human variety, a face of joy and a form of ease make the perfection of beauty; whilst general deformity is the type of suffering and constraint. As we feel and act continually, so shall we appear. Thus, after all, soil and climate may produce beauty or ugliness by a moral rather than a physical process. What think you of my invention? Apply it to the Australian girls. If you should find in it a reason for their loveliness, I shall not have digressed. Would that all men might adopt the theory; as, in that case, every admirer of beauty, must be a warm philanthropist! The first division of the theory, however, is not new, but very old. The supposed influence of soil and climate on happiness, without reference to beauty, gave a name to this Fortunate Isles. Why should not this ill-named part of Australasia be called Australia Felix? Allowing that soil and climate produce beauty by means of happiness, still the character must, in a great measure, depend on original causes strictly moral. The disposition of a people will be governed by their condition; and their condition again will, in most cases, be ordered by their laws. This Colonial Government, though necessarily bad, is far superior both to the late oligarchy of Genoa, and to the actual despotism of Carlo Feroce. In one most essential point, it is greatly superior to the government of Britain. Able to increase its territory according to the increase of its people, it avails itself of that mighty advantage; and thus, by the most gentle laws, forbids the existence of Want. If to do what is here so easy deserve the least praise, how might the government of Britain be blessed for finding means to do what, there, would be so large a good! But let us proceed. The Australian youth suffer none of the evils of poverty. It follows that what may be called their natural character is excellent. The young men are gay, high-spirited, impetuous; brave even to a fault; that is, wanting in discretion; yet, at times, when with their parents, gentle and affectionate—when with their mistresses, tender and passionately amorous. The girls are lively, imaginative, enthusiastic, and very—very loving; yet, until hunted down, as before stated, modest as girls can be. Both sexes have a strong capacity for knowledge; and I observe in them a certain natural refinement of mind, like that which distinguishes a Greek Peasant from a Dutch Mightiness. In shorty they resemble the modern Greeks, mentally as well as bodily. A Triple Alliance offers to Greeks the means of exerting their capacity for all that is great and good. Shall British laws forbid this young race of British Subjects to eschew evil and cultivate good—to escape from that moral debasement which, wherever it occurs, is due rather to bad laws than to the nature of things? Answer that question, proud Englishman!
Having answered it, you may laugh at my admiration of these despised colonists; and you may, if you like, sneer at my enthusiasm in their cause. But I have written as I believe and feel; I do admire and love them; and I hope to live and die amongst them, besides serving them, to the best of my poor ability.
I will continue nevertheless, to scribble with the impartiality of a cosmopolite. It is true that many of the native Australians lose their teeth at Ian early age. This is an ill truly American; and it is produced in both countries, I believe, by the very same cause or causes. Volney, a man of taste as well of deep research, was educated for the practice of physic. Being most kindly disposed towards the Americans, apd shocked at the state of their mouths, be gave himself the trouble to inquire, and to tell them, not only why their teeth decayed so early, but also how that sickening evil might be avoided by future generations. He shewed that the disease is not strictly endemial, but that it arises from the excessive use of animal food and strong drinks, in a climate not adapted to such gross sustenance. His view of the subject is founded, in part, upon a survey of human habits from the Equator to the North Pole. The nearer people live to the sun, the less animal food, and the less animal fat especially do they consume. The Esquimaux, who live as far as possible from the sun, breakfast, dine, and sup upon bears'-grease and blubber; whilst the northern nations are remarkable for their love of strong spirituous drinks, and for the impunity with which they swallow enormous quantities of them. To gormandize flesh and to guzzle strong drinks is the mark of an Englishman all over the world. These habits are not destructive to the teeth of English people; but the descendants of English people in America lose their teeth. The descendants of Spaniards and Portuguese in America, who are temperate in eating and drinking, do not lose their teeth. Hence, it is inferred that the English Americans owe the loss of their teeth to the intemperance which they have inherited from their ancestors and ours.
So far Volney. But gormandizing and guzzling are habitual only to certain low classes of English people-to every class below, and including the highest that delights in goose, sausages, and pork chops. Why did the Americans adopt, and why have they preserved, these baser English appetites, rather than those which, now at least, belong to the upper classes in England? Because emigrants to new countries are of the gormandizing and guzzling classes; and because, in new countries, tastes and habits, as well as modes and manners, must necessarily proceed from the lowest class. The Americans scorned the friendly suggestions of Volney; as now, they glory in some of their worst defects, like the beast who, being reproached with the dirty state of his hands, said, "Dirty—oh! you call that dirty, do you? I wish you could see my feet." But what else could be expected? It is not as to their teeth only that the American people, as has been said of Russian Nobles, become rotten before they are ripe; and by such a people advice will always be received with scorn,—unless it happen to flatter their prejudices, in which case, though of course the advice of an enemy, it will be implicitly followed.
So it is here, only, I mean, as to the decay of teeth; for at present this is not a people, but merely a colony of low-bred English. I attribute the loss of teeth which disfigures so many of the colonials, youth, entirely to their low English habits of eating and drinking. Some of them have adopted habits more suitable to the climate; and these have generally beautiful teeth. Amongst them is the girl before, mentioned. She has sound, strong, white, separate teeth, like those of a young dog fed upon oatmeal; and her breath is sweet, as that of a sucking donkey. Feeling deeply upon this subject, I have taken pains to ascertain what has been the ordinary food of those young people, who are remarkable for very good or very bad teeth, and the result of my inquiries is a conviction that gross English feeling under a Neapolitan sun, if steadily pursued from infancy to puberty, will spoil nine mouths out of ten. I also believe, of course, that this, the worst Americanism that has, as yet, crept into the colony, may be eradicated. If you come here, you will, I trust, join me in a crusade against gormandizing and guzzling. What think you of sending to Naples for a dozen foundling children; six of whom we might feed on vermicelli, polenta, fruits and water; and six upon melted butter, lard, dripping, suet, fat mutton, roast pork, ducks, geese, pork sausages, hams and bacon; with ale, porter, stout, brandy, rum, gin, hollands, whiskey, shrub, and other cordial compounds of essential oil? The experiment would probably be conclusive of the question; and in that case, though somewhat cruel apparently, it would, in truth, be a large humanity. I know not how we could invest a little money more for our children's advantage. But do not imagine that I have a greater affection for those colonists who have good teeth than for those who have none. When on ship board with women, we pity those who suffer more than those who escape; and pity is akin to love.
My determination to tell you the whole truth has compelled me to speak evil of the Australians after I had, as I thought just now, finished the dark side of their picture At length you have both sides of it, and I shall describe no more. But my residence in this miserable place has compelled me to think, for want of something else to do. Of course I have thought principally of this place and this people; and it was but natural that I should, in theory at leasts search after means for improving the place and mending the people. Whether it be possible to do so, is a question that I do not pretend to decide; but here follow my bumble reflections on the subject. If you should think them worthy of the least attention, make what use of them you please. If not, throw the remainder of this letter into the fire.
It follows that we do not say what we mean. By the word new, we do not express newness either as to settlement or as to independence; for, according to our sense of the word, the Canadians will probably be a newer people fifty years hence than they were fifty years ago, and the United States' Americans are a newer people now, in 1829, than they were in 1779. We mean, then, something quite independent of time and of connection with a mother country. What can it be? Something not plainly attributable either to the Russians at large, or the Turks, or the Irish, or the Hottentots, or to the Portuguese Indians, or to the Dutch Javans, or to the future Anglo-Indians, or to the inhabitants of Petersburgh and Odessa, or to the ancient Greek colonies. What can it be? It must be something peculiar to those whom we call new people-to the Americans, Canadians, South Africans, and Australasians. And what is that something, but an excess of territory in proportion to inhabitants?
That this is what we do mean will become more apparent by reference to the change that has taken place in the condition of the Spanish Mexicans since their independence. Considering that whilst dependent they laboured under many terrible evils, such as the Code, of the Indies and a powerful established superstition, their progress towards a ripe state of civilization (as described by Humboldt) was superior to that of the Anglo-Americans at the same period. For two reasons they could not spread so easily as the North Americans; firsts because the Mexican Indians are less easily displaced than those of British America; and secondly, because the Spanish Government discouraged agriculture, and threw many obstacles in the way of gaining a property in waste land. Hence, though the Mexican territory was in fact enormous in proportion to the people, still that disproportion did not operate to its fullest extent, and the Spanish Mexicans enjoyed, politically, a proportion between people and territory something like that of old countries. By their independence they have escaped civil, religious and commercial bondage; but they have acquired the power to spread at will. Does not their present Tartar state seem to decide the question?
But this question is too important to be settled by me. Though it appear to regard only the meaning of a word, it cannot be decided without stating why half the world is in a barbarous condition. Let us, therefore, consult authority. From every book that treats of what we call "new countries," it would be easy to quote numerous passages illustrating my view of the subject. I have selected five; and the names of their authors will secure your attention.
First, Adam Smith,—in quoting whom I take the bull by its very horns; for he argues in favour of excess of territory. In his "Inquiry into the Causes of the Property of New Colonies," he writes—
"The colony of a civilized nation, which takes possession, either of a waste country, or of one so thinly inhabited that the natives easily give place to the new settlers, advances more rapidly to wealth and greatness than any other human society. The colonists carry out with them a knowledge of agriculture and of other useful arts, superior to what can grow up of its own accord in the course of many centuries among savage and barbarous nations. They carry out with them too the habit of subordination, some notion of the regular government which takes place in their own country, of the system of laws which support it, and of a regular administration of justice; and they naturally establish something of the same kind in the new settlement. But among savage and barbarous nations, the natural progress of law and government is still slower than the natural progress of arts, after law and government have been so far established, as is necessary for their protection. Every colonist gets more land than he can possibly cultivate. He has no rent, and scarce any taxes to pay. No landlord shares with him in its produce, and the share of the sovereign is commonly but a trifle. He has every motive to render as great as possible a produce, which is thus to be almost entirely his own. But his land is commonly so extensive that, with all his own industry, and with all the industry of other people whom he can get to employ, he can seldom make it produce the tenth part of what it is capable of producing. He is eager, therefore, to collect labourers from all quarters, and to reward them with the most liberal wages. But those liberal wages, joined to the plenty and cheapness of land, soon make those labourers leave him, in order to become landlords themselves; and to reward, with equal liberality, other labourers, who soon leave them for the same reason that they left their first master. The liberal reward of labour encourages marriage. The children, during the tender years of infancy, are well fed, and properly taken care of; and when they are grown up, the value of their labour greatly over-pays their maintenance. When arrived at maturity, the high price of labour, and the low price of land, enable them to establish themselves in the same manner as their fathers did before them. In other countries, rent and profit eat up wages, and the two superior orders of people oppress the inferior one. But in new colonies, the interest of the two superior orders obliges them to treat the inferior one with more generosity and humanity; at least, where that inferior one Is not in a state of slavery. Waste lands, of the greatest natural fertility, are to be had for a trifle. The increase of revenue which the proprietor, who is always the undertaker, expects from their improvement, constitutes his profit, which, in these circumstances, is commonly very great. But this great profit cannot be made without employing the labour of other people in clearing and cultivating the land; and the disproportion between the great extent of the land and the small number of the people, which commonly takes place in new colonies, makes it difficult for him to get this labour. He does not, therefore, dispute about wages, but is willing to employ labour at any price. The high wages of labour encourage population. The cheapness and plenty of good land encourage improvement, and enable the proprietor to pay those high wages. In those wages consist almost the whole price of the land; and though they are high, considered as the wages of labour, they are low, considered as the price of what is so very valuable.—What encourages the progress of population and improvement, encourages that of real wealth and greatness. The progress of many of the ancient Greek Colonies towards wealth and greatness, seems accordingly to have been very rapid. In the course of a century or two, several of them appear to have rivalled, and even to have surpassed, their mother cities. Syracuse and Agrigentum in Sicily, Tarentum and Locri in Italy, Ephesus and Miletus in Lesser Asia, appear by all accounts to have been at least equal to any of the cities of ancient Greece. Though posterior in their establishment, yet all the arts of refinement, philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, seem to have been cultivated as early, and to have been improved as highly, in them, as in any part of the mother country. All those Colonies had established themselves in countries inhabited by savage and barbarous nations, who easily gave place to the new settlers. They had plenty of good land, and as they were altogether independent of the mother city, they were at liberty to manage their own affairs in the way that they judged was most suitable to their own interests."
In the above passage, of which the object is to account for the very rapid acquisition of wealth by emigrants from the states of Greece, five main causes are stated—knowledge of agriculture and other useful arts; freedom from taxes; independence, from the beginning; cheapness of land; and dearness of labour. But the statement, when examined, will appear very objectionable, both in fact and in reasoning. The Emigrants from Greece did not obtain immense tracts of waste land, over which they and their children might spread at will. There is not, I believe, an instance of their having advanced far into the interior of any country. Wherever they landed they had to displace warlike tribes, who, abandoning the sea coast after a struggle, continued to watch the intruders and to confine them within very narrow limits. The first occupation of a Greek Colony seems to have been to erect a fortress, into which the whole body of colonists might retire in case of need. Some of these strong places became, in a very short time, splendid cities; but the quantity of land required to maintain the inhabitants of one great city, formed, in most cases, the whole territory of a Greek Colony, from the beginning to the end of its career. Abundance and consequent cheapness of land, therefore, were not a cause of the rapid prosperity of the Greek Colonies. In the next place, high wages—dearness of labour —assuredly had no part in their rapid advancement. For, besides that high wages could have arisen, only in the manner so well described by Dr. Smith, from superabundance of land, the Colonists carried with them, and obtained after their settlement, numbers of slaves, who were their principal, if not their sole, cultivators and artizans! Lastly, it may be denied that the complete independence of a Colony from the beginning is by any means advantageous; for, however ill dependent Colonies have been governed after they had arrived at some importance, they have generally received nothing, in their first beginnings, but protection and assistance from the parent States under whose dominion they remained.
If these objections to the facts and reasoning of Dr. Smith are not unfounded, but two out of the five causes assigned by him can be admitted—knowledge of agriculture and other useful arts, and freedom from taxes. These, by themselves, are surely quite inadequate to the effects for which he endeavour, to account. May not other causes be assigned?—I imagine four:—
First-The constitution of the emigrating body. The leaders of bodies of emigrants from Greece were men of the highest distinction, whose fame, ability and wealth enabled them to collect and transport a great number of followers, drawn from all ranks in the old State. Thus a body of Colonists formed, not a new society, in the common acceptation of the term, but an old society that had changed its abode. Secondly—The new abode was not an immense waste, without inhabitants, over which the colonists might spread themselves, remaining for ages a scattered people, without that concentration in any thing, which in almost every thing is the essence of power. Thirdly—The narrow limits of territory in proportion to people, together with the institution of slavery, rendered labour cheap instead of dear. Hence the profits of stock, to use a modern term, were large; wealth rapidly accumulated; and it was easy for the new society to erect fine buildings—to create very rapidly a city rivalling their parent city. Fourthly—As the portion of produce which falls to the land-owner—in modern language, rent—is small or great, according as people are few or many in proportion to territory, and as the leaders of the new society were the owners of a limited territory, they possessed, either at once or very soon, the riches and the consequent leisure wherewith to cultivate 'all the arts of refinement, philosophy, poetry, and eloquence.'
In the same chapter Dr. Smith endeavours to account for the less rapid progress of the American Colonies, in comparison with those of Greece, by dwelling on the evils of dependence; and he frequently repeats that settlers in America were enabled to prosper, in spite of dependence, by reason of their excess of territory in proportion to the people; which advantage, he says, they possess in a greater degree than emigrants from Greece.
This doctrine may be submitted to the test of facts. The United States of North America have for some time enjoyed complete independence. Their inhabitants pay no tithes and but few taxes. Land may still be obtained almost as easily, and labour is still quite as dear, as when those States were founded. Their population equals, probably, that of Great Britain and Ireland at the time when Dr. Smith wrote. A constant influx of emigrants from Europe, the press, and great improvements in navigation, have placed at their disposal the accumulated, and always increasing knowledge of the old world. Their soil is naturally fertile, and their climate is more favourable to varied production than that of Britain. Their mineral productions are little inferior to those of Britain. Their magnificent rivers afford natural means of communication infinitely superior to those of any European State: and the people are hardy, brave, active, intelligent, enterprising and extremely ambitious. According to Dr. Smith, therefore, they ought by this time to have rivalled at least, if not to have surpassed, their parent state in wealth and greatness. Yet look at their condition. Their metropolis is not to be compared to many of the mere pleasure-towns of England. Want of capital prevented the State of New York from commencing its great Canal from Lake Erie until long after the profit of that undertaking had been demonstrated; and other States are now attempting to raise money in London for great works, which cannot be undertaken unless capital be obtained from the parent country. In the useful arts, excepting only, perhaps, that of steam-navigation, they are far behind the parent country. Their manufactures, miserable at best, exist only through restrictive laws. If in the fine arts there arise amongst them a man of ability, he hastens to Europe for patronage and profit Their best writers live in France and England, because America offers no rewards for success in literature. Their cleverest mechanics bring their skill to the rich market of Europe, because in America skill is less valuable than strength. Their boasted naval power is held as a mere boast by those who know that they are positively unable to man as many ships as constitute a fleet; and all the arts of refinement, philosophy, poetry and eloquence, are more largely and successfully cultivated in the narrow space that is covered by the sea-port town of Liverpool, than throughout the extensive regions of North America. Thus the doctrine of Adam Smith concerning the effect of cheap land and dear labour, in producing national wealth and greatness, has been refuted by the safest of all arguments-an ample experiment Doubtless, the people of America are laying a most extensive foundation of future wealth and greatness—of a national greatness surpassing any that has occurred in the world. They are spreading over such extensive regions, that, if they do but preserve their integrity, they must, whenever they cease to spread, acquire an unexampled degree of national wealth and power. But at present, and until they can no longer spread, they are, and must remain —like children acquiring the means of knowledge by learning to read—an infant people, acquiring only the means of future wealth and greatness.
Secondly. Washington, writing to Arthur Young, says, "An English farmer ought to have a horrid idea of the state of our agriculture, or the nature of our soil, when he is informed that an acre with us only produces eight or ten bushels. But it must be kept in mind that, where land is cheap and labour dear, men are fonder of cultivating much than cultivating well. Much ground has been scratched, and none cultivated as it ought to be."
Land is not the only thing, which, for the reasons given by Washington, the Americans have only scratched instead of cultivating.
Thirdly. Humboldt, describing the province of Vera Cruz, says, "A small number of powerful families, who live on the central table land, possess the greatest part of the shores of the intendencies of Vera Cruz and San Luis Potosi. No Agrarian law forces these rich proprietors to sell their Mayorazzos, if they persist in refusing to bring their immense territories under cultivation."
In this case, good seems to have come of evil. The Spanish government granted away the shores of Vera Cruz and San Luis Potosi in a manner tantamount to the annihilation of those fertile districts, and there were wealthy persons on the table land. But if the shores of the Mexican Gulf had been scratched, would the Mexican table land have been well cultivated? The ghost of Washington would say, No. If, in all things but barbarism, yon prefer scratching to cultivating, read no more. What says a spirit akin to that of Washington?
Fourthly. The Abbé Raynal: "Louisiana would not, probably, have languished for so long a time, had it not been for an original error adopted in granting lands indiscriminately to every person who applied for them, and in the manner in which he desired them. Immense deserts would not have separated the colonists from each other. Being brought near to a common centre, they would have assisted each other, and would have enjoyed all the advantages of a well-regulated society. As population increased, the lands would have been cleared to a greater extent. Instead of a few hordes of [French] savages, we should have seen a rising colony, which might in time have become a powerful nation, and procured infinite advantages to France."
Fifthly. A writer in The Edinburgh Review (No. 92): "We have never heard it surmised that a gradual change from slavery to freedom has been a disadvantage to any country, or to any individual; and it is impossible that it should be so, if that change follows in the natural course of things. We have next to consider what would have promoted, or what has retarded, this change, and why this natural course of things" (the gradual extinction of slavery by means of free labour) "has made so little progress in the British colonies, or in the United States of America. In the United States, it is certain that the increase of the slave population has been in operation, and would have made men cheap and land dear long before this time, if they had not been prevented by the boundless extent of new and fertile land. Thus, when the soils of Virginia had become exhausted by slave cultivation, (for when men do the work of cattle, and use little animal food, fertility is not kept up by green crops, and the soils invariably deteriorate), then the Virginians became breeders of slaves for sale, and the new and fertile lands in the South Western States found them an extensive market; In our West India Islands, again, land capable of cultivation is in limited extent: and if the slaves in them had increased as in the United States, and the inter-colonial slave-trade had always been illegal, or had been effectually prevented, the operation of natural causes must long since have converted the slaves in most of the islands into free men. What the boundless extent of fertile land has done to maintain slavery in the United States, bounties and prohibitory protections have done in the British colonies. For it is just the same things whether a bad system is supported by the abundant productions of a fertile soil, or by raising the price of the smaller produce, by bounties and protections."
You are now requested to exert your imagination, and to suppose that, by some convulsion of nature, or by a law of Congress, the North Americans were deprived of their "boundless extent of fertile land." Can it be doubted that, in that case, they would soon be able to escape all the evils of a new, and to enjoy all the advantages of an old, people? Would not they be obliged to concentrate themselves? Would not labour become plentiful and cheap? Would not many people accumulate wealth, and many more cultivate knowledge, with a view to wealth? Would not slavery be gradually abolished, and without loss to the slave-owners; as the diminished value of slaves and the increased value of land, would measure each other? Reminding you, in order to save repetition, of my Tasmanian dream, might not all those great things which are foretold of America happen within the time of living men? If you answer these questions in the affirmative, then you must acknowledge that, by the words, a "new people," we mean a people who, whether new or old, dependent or independent, have a capacity for greatness, and yet remain insignificant, solely in consequence of their excessive territory. Supposing this point established, there arises a question which appears to me as important as any that can occupy the minds of reflecting men. It is—whether it be possible to devise a faultless cure for this sort of newness where it already exists, and a preventative of it as to future settlements in waste countries?
If Johanna Southcote were to rise again, she and one Mr. Sadler (whose Irish rhapsody is more amusing to me than Win Jenkins's letters in Humphrey Clinker) would exclaim —"What, ask a high price for land where land is worth nothing at all! How unjust in the name of humanity, and false in the name of God!" In answer to these profound exclamations, I would observe, that if your government should discover a mine of pure gold just under the turf of Hyde Park, and if the quantity did not exceed a million of ounces, the godsend would pay off near four millions of the national debt; but that, if the quantity of gold so found were ten thousand millions of pounds, none of it would be worth lifting from the earth. If, in short, gold were as plentiful and as easily obtained as water, no one would buy gold, and no one would invest capital in the working of gold mines. But let us suppose that government, discovering ten thousand millions of pounds of gold, should have the power and the will to dole it out gradually, supplying every year to the public a quantity equal to what had been lost by wear and accidents during the previous year. In that case the mine might, in time, pay off the whole national debt; that is to say, the government might every year sell a certain quantity of gold at the present mint price. So in the case of waste land in new countries, new governments might, by measuring the quantity according to the demand, sell that quantity for a considerable price; but as Mrs. Southcote has not risen again, and it is a mere waste of time to reason with men like her, let us proceed.
What think you of the scheme? I trust, at least, that it will set you a thinking. But it contains one manifest flaw. Great part of the good to America, and all the good to Britain, that its adoption in practice might bestow, must be deferred until the domestic population of America should attain such a proportion to the land already granted, as would raise the average price of land above nine pounds per acre. So immense is the actual disproportion between people and granted land, that very many years must elapse before its removal by the increase of native Americans. These would be years of hope deferred. Would it be possible to skip over them and to seize all the good at once? I humbly think it would.
Apply this theory of Restriction, Anticipation, and Free Migration, to the case of Britain and her colonies in South Africa and Australasia. Here, in the South, are boundless regions wanting people; there, in the North, are countless people wanting land. Would not this system of colonization be, in effect, a bridge, without toll as to the poor, from Britain to Australasia, touching at the Cape of Good Hope? Remember always that the greater the number of emigrants from Britain the greater would be the demand for land at a money price, and the greater, consequently, would be the means of further emigration. But I must not repeat myself too often. Let us forget, for a moment, the astonishing effects of such a system of colonization upon the colonized countries, and turn to its probable effects on your over-peopled country.
Suppose that you had the power to remove any portion of the waste land of South Africa or Australasia, and attach it to the coast of Britain. If you were to exercise that power rashly, and at once to quadruple the territory of Britain, what would be the consequence? Whatever crime and misery arise from want of employment would cease; but would not rent cease also? Would not wealth and civilization perish? Would not Britain, old as she is, become suddenly a new country? All this assuredly would happen. How, then, would you exercise your power? Prudently, no doubt, with a view to cure the evils of excess of people, without producing the evils of excess of territory. Let us suppose that you should begin by removing only 100,000 acres of good land, bearing fine timber, and fix them on the coast of Lancashire; They would be the property of the Crown. The Crown, probably, would not give them away. It would sell them to the highest bidder. They would sell for perhaps £10, or £20 per acre, according to their natural fertility. Why would they fetch such a price? Because, becoming part of a densely peopled country, they would yield a rent proportionate to that market value. In this supposed case, the Crown would do what it liked with the purchase money. But, in the proposed case, the purchase money of additional territory would be employed in increasing the colonial population-that is to say, in giving to the land purchased a value like that of land removed miraculously to the coast of Lancashire. Whether you remove the land to the people, or the people to the land, makes no difference as to your sole object. Bearing in mind that the greater the amount of emigration to the colonies, the more rapid would be the increase of colonial capital, and the greater would be the demand for more land and more labour—that is, for more emigrants, and of the means of obtaining them—this system of restriction, anticipation, and free migration, does offer you the accomplishment of your wish. The good, therefore, is not the less attainable, because it would be very great. Nevertheless, this stupendous good must have a limit as to its duration. Of course it must; because the world is of limited extent. But, even if a system of free migration were adopted in all new countries, so as to permit the population of the world to exert its utmost capacity of increase, still half a century must elapse before the pressure of population upon territory would be felt, at the same moment, all over the world; and perhaps in the course of fifty years we might discover a way to "new countries" in the moon, or, what appears quite as difficult, a means of checking population otherwise than by sin and sorrow.
Meanwhile, though we should always acknowledge our obligations to Mr. Malthus, for having told us what we had not even guessed till he wrote—namely, the precise reasons why some men are, and ever must be, richer than others; still we might avoid, for a time, the worst evils of which that eminent philosopher discovered the causes. This, though but a temporary gain, is worth the greatest efforts; and Britain might enjoy that good for a longer period than any other country because she already possesses the largest extent of waste land, and she might, perhaps, acquire an exclusive property in more.
As to the immediate operation of this system, one point only remains to be noticed. Perhaps the capital of all new countries, put together, is not at present sufficient to afford ample employment to all the labourers who might be disposed to emigrate from Britain. If the population of Britain were not at once reduced sufficiently to put an end to pauperism arising from want of employment, they might "fill up the vacuum" created by the emigration of an insufficient number, and might still press hard upon the distant demand for labour. To check this too rapid increase of people in Britain, it would be advisable to select as emigrants young persons only, and especially young couples of both sexes. The Domestic power of increase would thereby be greatly weakened, and the Colonial power of increase would be strengthened in the same degree. The object is, to reduce, as much as the system would allow, the population of the emigrating country, and to increase, as much as possible, that of the immigrating countries. The propriety of such a selection is, therefore, evident. But there are additional reasons for it. First, it would prevent, altogether, the evils which, here especially, and more or less in all modern new colonies, have arisen from the disproportion between the sexes. Secondly, young men would be more willing than old ones to make the venture of emigration; and both young men and young women would prefer crossing the world in couples, to migrating singly only across the Channel. Thirdly, young persons of both sexes would most readily accommodate their habits to a new climate, and embrace new modes of cultivation and general labour. Lastly, having families to rear, they would be more industrious than older poisons, and probably more apt to save a part of their earnings; whereby they would promote a more rapid increase of colonial capital—of the demand for more land and more labour —of the demand for more young couples, and of the means for obtaining them. In a word, they would make the best members of a new society.
The colonies, however, would no longer be new societies, strictly speaking. They would be so many extensions of an old society. Pursue that idea, and you will see that emigration from Britain would not be confined to Paupers, passing by the free bridge. We (I speak in the name of the colonists) should acquire wealth rapidly. Such of us as are landowners must have good income without trouble; for remember that, though the tax upon rent would take something from us, it would only take a part of what it would first bestow! How many ready-made articles, both useful and ornamental, should we import from England, for which, now, we have not the means to pay? Let me enumerate a few of them—farming bailiffs, surveyors, builders, architects and engineers; mineralogists, practical miners, botanists and chemists; printers, schoolmasters and school-mistresses, booksellers, authors, publishers, and even reviewers; merchants, to supply us with English goods, and to take our surplus produce; bankers, underwriters, life-insurers, and clerks innumerable; actors, surgeons, and physicians; lawyers, clergymen, singers, music and dancing masters, milliners and other female artists, and, at least, one good Political Economist at each settlement, to prevent us from devising an Australasian tariff. Most of these emigrants would call themselves ladies and gentlemen, and would object to pass by the bridge of charity. Consequently we could not force them to preserve an equal sexual proportion; but if an excessive number of males should emigrate, they would create, here, a demand for females, and a supply would immediately follow by the bridge. Moreover, as the value of all land purchased of the government must necessarily rise somewhat above the amount of the purchase-money; and as portions, on or near to which towns would grow up, must rise in value considerably above the government price, the purchase of waste land would be an excellent employment of capital. Much of the surplus capital of Britain, therefore, might be so invested, instead of being given away to monks in Spain and to Tartars in South America. Some of the persons, who should invest their money in this manner, would emigrate along with it, in order to become the leading men of civilized Australasia. Thus, you see, these colonies, like those of Greece, would "contain a mixture of all classes of society;" they would, every day, open new fields to "all trades, pursuits, and professions," which in England "are becoming more and more overstocked," and would provide for "multitudes of persons of all degrees and ages who," in England, "are moving about, without employment, useless to themselves and a burden to the public." * In fewer words, every grant of land in these colonies would be an extension, though distant, of Britain itself, and would provide so much more room for all classes of Britons.
[* See Preface.]
You will believe that I have reflected a good deal upon this subject. Nevertheless, sometimes when I am in a desponding mood, I exclaim—But where on earth is all the money to come from, that is to pay for all the ships employed by this system, and to confer wealth upon so many of the inhabitants of these extensive regions? To this, when I feel happy and strong in the force of truth, I answer—in the first instance, from places where the money already exists, but is employed with little or no profit; and, ultimately, from the divided labour of millions, who, but for some such permission to labour and multiply, must either die of slow starvation or would never be born! When I reflect that all the wealth that the world contains has been produced by the labour of man, the answer becomes quite satisfactory.
My castle in the air is finished. View it only as a structure of the imagination. Still, does its foundation appear solid? Are its ideal proportions just? Does it seem to unite the chief properties of a good building —usefulness, strength, and beauty? If you answer, yes, then I ask, though this plan be too magnificent for execution, may we not really construct a smaller edifice upon this model? In plain English—if the principles here suggested be correct, why should they not be reduced to practice, upon whatever scale?
At any rate, it is worth while to inquire, very briefly, what would be the probable effects of some such, system, independently of those considerations which form its main principles.
Secondly. Whilst waste land could be obtained at whatever price, with the certainty of a progressive increase of market value, colonial capital would naturally be employed in the purchase and cultivation of land—in providing subsistence, that is, for the rapid increase of people which the system of free migration would occasion. And it is taken for granted that the rate of wages in the colony (which must be governed by the price required for waste land) would always be considerably higher than in the mother-country; because, otherwise, labourers would not emigrate. It must follow that the colonists would not be manufacturers of any but those coarser goods, which, on account of their bulk and weight, might be produced in the colony for less than the sum of their cost in England and their freight to the colony. The suggested extension of Britain, consequently, must cause a great increase of demand for all the finer British manufactures. I will not weary you with a statement of the process by which we should pay for those British goods; but you will remark that, for a long time to come, every Paul conveyed to, or born in, the colony, would furnish employment to, perhaps, several British Peters. The quantity of employment so furnished to British industry would depend upon the degree in which Britain should be extended; and the degree of that extension would depend upon the degree of skill and singleness of purpose with which the system should be administered, together with, of course, the degree in which births should exceed deaths in this most healthy country, I am inclined to believe that the population of extra-tropical Australasia might increase at the rate of five per cent. per annum, which is the rate of increase in the least wholesome parts of North America.
Thirdly. There exists in England a pretty general feeling that colonies, as such, are of no value to the mother country, in any point of view; and that they are injurious, in one respect, by the great expense incurred in governing and defending them. Allow that this opinion is justified by the whole history of modern colonization, that the mere possession of a "new country," "scratched" by a scattered population, is worth nothing, or is even injurious to the possessor; still, may we not conceive that colonization, which is pursued now just as it was two hundred years ago—that is, without the least attempt at system—is as open to improvement as was, fifty years ago, the carriage of letters? Mr. Palmer's suggestion as to the Post was adopted at once. Within the last twenty years, the same number, at least, of plans of colonization has been suggested, but not one of them has been adopted, or was perhaps worthy of adoption. There is all the more room for improvement. Now, according to this last project, the colonists themselves would defray the whole cost of their government and protection. Suppose the inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land to be 500,000 instead of 26,000; their labour, their produce and their consumption, would be, at least, as 20 to 1, and the produce of their taxes, consequently, would be twenty times what it is at present. We may, indeed, presume that the produce of 500,000 inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, would much exceed twenty times the produce of 25,000 inhabitants; because the different proportion of people to territory would cause a greater division of labour, which is the very soul of production. We may presume, therefore, that any given piece of colony might be as productive of revenue as a similar piece of mother country, and that it would pay as well for its own government. I have a suspicion, however, that after a time the ordinary expense of government might be defrayed out of the proceeds of rent-tax and sales of land, without any great departure from the main principles of the system. That is to say, there might be a constant balance in hand of the Free-migration Fund, after supplying the colonial demand for labour; and it would be proper to employ such a balance in relief of other taxes. Ultimately, as soon as the demand for British emigrants should cease, the proceeds of rent-tax, which would, by then, be very great, might defray the whole cost of colonial government. It follows that, as between the colony and the mother country, there might be scarcely any commercial restrictions; and that, as to the colony only, there might be none at all.
Lastly. Though some of the above speculations may be doubtful, they might, perhaps, be carried much farther without extravagance. This, however, admits of no uncertainty either way, being positive and self-evident—namely, that the system in question would tend more than any thing to preserve an intimate connection between the colony and the mother country. In fact, the mother country and the colony would become partners in a new trade—the creation of happy human beings; one country furnishing the raw materials—that is, the land, the dust of which man is made; the other furnishing the machinery—that is, men and women, to convert the unpeopled soil into living images of God. In this honourable, and, we may say, even glorious copartnership, the interest of the mother country would be greater than that of the colony; and a rupture of their connection would, therefore, be most injurious to the former. If the system of free migration should be destroyed by a war of independence, the colony might still pursue the system of restriction, and so preserve all the desirable attributes of an old people; but in that case, the mother country would lose a given portion of the means by which she had enjoyed the one great good that belongs to new countries—the power of supplying a constant increase of territory according to the wants of the people. The mother country, therefore, in governing the colony, would consult the greatest advantage of the colonists, in order to preserve their friendship; and the colonists, having much to lose, and being incapable of dispersion, would feel a wholesome dread of war. The colonists, being an instructed and civilized people, would be as well qualified to govern themselves as the people of Britain; and, being a wealthy people, they would be able, without going to war, to assert the birth-right of all British subjects—to enforce in the British Parliament, against a bad British ministry, their claim to equality before the law. Qualified, entitled, and powerful to govern themselves, they might either take share in framing the general laws of the empire, by means of their representatives in the British Parliament; or, if a mean jealousy on the part of Englishmen should prevent such an arrangement, they might frame their own laws, in a Colonial Assembly, under the eye of a viceroy, incapable of wrong, and possessing a veto like the king of England, but whose secretaries, like the ministers of England, should be responsible to the people! At all events, they must be governed, by whatever machinery, with a view to their good and their contentment, which is the greatest good, instead of to the satisfaction at their governors only. This would render them happy in a most intimate connexion with their mother country; and the American war of independence would no longer be a favourite theme in the still dependent colonies of Britain. Mutual dependence would prevent oppression on the one part, and on the other, a wish for independence; reciprocity of interest would occasion mutual good will; there would no longer be injurious distinctions, or malignant jealousies, or vulgar hatred between British subjects, wherever born; and Britain would become the centre of the most extensive, the most civilized, and, above all, the happiest empire in the world.
Conclusion.—On high hopes like these you might exist comfortably, even here. Without them you would be miserable: because you are neither a poor lieutenant; nor a broken farmer; nor a mere sensualist, who could delight in starving his mind in order that his body might enjoy a gross plenty; nor a "desperate or needy man;" nor a "labourer;" nor a "mechanic;" nor a "convict." If, now that the public mind of England is fermenting with colonial projects, you think it probable that colonization will be conducted systematically, with a view to the greatest benefit of the mother country, come here by all means; "for the land is not able to bear you all, that you may dwell together." But if you see no such prospect, go any where but to a new country, unless you want to be miserable. For my part, the Sun which I learned to love in Italy, and Hope, which, if you know how to indulge it, is more grateful than reality, tempt me to remain for the present.
Without regard to the excess of people in Britain, and to the benefits which the mother country might derive from treating her colonies as so many extensions of her own territory; the mode of colonization which I have ventured to propose, might, it appears to me, be adopted in Australasia with infinite advantage to the colonists, by establishing a free bridge between the settlements and those numerous over-peopled countries, by which they are, as it were, surrounded. Many of the islands of the Pacific Ocean have a superabundant population, who, constantly exposed to the want of food, would rejoice to emigrate to this country and to supply our urgent want of labourers, if we did but offer them a free passage and plenty to eat. The British dominions in India might afford us a much larger supply; for though, hitherto, the Hindoos have been disinclined to emigrate, the most careless observer must see that a great moral revolution has commenced in British India, that the obstinate prejudices of ages are there beginning to disappear, and that but little management would be required to induce the poorest class of Hindoos to labour and enjoy in Australasia, rather than drown their children in the sacred stream, or die of misery near their own temples. But the Chinese, especially, who with a population of 300,000,000, feel the pressure of people upon territory more than any other nation whatsoever,—who are greatly disposed to emigrate,—and who are, by far, the most industrious and skilful of Asiatics—might, not only supply the want of labourers now felt in the British Australasian settlements, but they might, in the course of a century, perhaps, convert the whole of this enormous wilderness into a fruitful garden. This last proposition must, I know, appear extravagant to him who thinks old times and old ways the best, and who considers novel and visionary as synonymous terms. Even to him I would recal the migrations of the northern hordes; who, in no very long period of time, overran the most fruitful regions of Europe, and kept possession of them notwithstanding vigorous opposition. To others, to those who believe that mankind is in a state of progressive improvement, and who, instead of only inking their heads, heartily rejoice at every useful novelty, whether mechanical, moral or political, I offer the following evidence in support of what I have asserted. But, first, let me remind you once more, that, according to the proposed system of colonization, the amount of colonial capital, in other words, the demand for waste land and for emigrant labourers, as well as the means of free migration, must increase, continually, with the increase of immigration, until all the land shall be appropriated and cultivated. Supposing new settlements to be made on the southern, north-western, northern, and north-eastern coasts of Australia, the demand for emigrant labourers and the means for supplying it, would extend along a line of above 8000 miles; and it is certainly possible, that the population of China should furnish millions, even, of emigrants every year, without any diminution of its domestic number,—inasmuch as those only would emigrate, who, but for the offer of free migration, either would die of misery or would never be born.
My purpose in making the following quotations is to satisfy you that the Chinese are well disposed to emigrate, and that it would be hardly possible to select a more useful description of labourers.
Sir George Staunton, in his account of Lord Macartney's embassy, thus describes the Chinese emigrants at Batavia:—"Great numbers of Chinese come constantly to Batavia, with exactly the same views that attract the natives of Holland to it—the desire of accumulating wealth in a foreign land. Both generally belonged to the humbler classes of life, and were bred in similar habits of industry in their own country; but the different circumstances that attend them after their arrival in Batavia, put an end to any farther resemblance between them. The Chinese have, there, no way of getting forward but by the continuance of their former exertions in a place where they are more liberally rewarded, and by a strict economy in the preservation of their gains. They have no chance of advancing by favour; nor are public offices open to their ambition; but they apply to every industrious occupation, and obtain whatever care and labour can accomplish. They become, in town, retailers, clerks, and agents: in the country, they are farmers, and the principal cultivators of the sugar cane. They do, at length, acquire fortunes, which they value by the time and labour required to earn them. So gradual an acquisition makes no change in their disposition or mode of life. Their industry is not diminished, nor their health impaired. * * * * The Chinese are said to be now as numerous as ever again in and about Batavia; for however imminent the danger to which the Dutch allege that they were exposed by the intended former insurrection of this people, and however cruel and unjustifiable the Chinese consider the conduct of the Dutch towards them, at that tune, the occasion they have for each other has brought them again together; and it is acknowledged by the latter that the settlement could scarcely exist without the industry and ingenuity of the former."
In Mr. Barrow's voyage to Cochin China, the following passages occur: "The next description of inhabitants of Batavia, who in number and opulence exceed the format is the Chinese. These people, as appears by their records, first obtained a settlement in Java about the year 1412. As intruders, but not conquerors, it is probable that they have at all times been subject to harsh and oppressive treatment; but the restrictions and extortions under which they at present (1793) labour, seem as unnecessary and impolitic as they are unjust. That they should consent to the Mahomedans, Malays, and Javanese exercising their devotions in the same temple, which they built at their own expense, and consecrated to the god of their own worship, is by no means an unfavourable feature in their character; but on the part of the Dutch who enforce the measure, it is one of the greatest insults that could well be offered. The Chinese hospital or infirmary, which was erected by voluntary contributions from their own community, and is supported by legacies, by profits arising from theatrical exhibitions and fire-works, and by a small tax on marriages, funerals, and the celebration of public festivals, is equally open for the benefit and reception of those who have not contributed towards the establishment, and who do not belong to the society. Into this admirable institution are indiscriminately admitted the infirm and the aged, the friendless and the indigent, of all nations. Towards the support of those institutions, the temple and the infirmary, their contributions are voluntary; but exclusive of these, their industry is severely taxed by the Dutch government. Every religious festival and public ceremony, every popular amusement, as well as every branch of individual industry, are subject to taxation. They are even obliged to pay for a license to wear their hair in a long plaited tail, according to the custom of their country; for permission to bring their greens to market, and to sell their produce and manufactures in the streets. Yet to the industry and exertions of these people are the Dutch wholly indebted for the means of existing with any tolerable degree of comfort in Batavia. Every species of vegetable for the table is raised by them, in all seasons of the year, and at times when the most indefatigable attention and labour are required. They are masons, carpenters, blacksmiths, painters, upholsterers, tailors, and shoemakers. They are employed in the arts of distilling, sugar-refining, pottery, lime-burning, and every other trade and profession that are indispensably necessary for making the state of civilized society tolerably comfortable. They are, moreover, the contractors for supplying the various demands of the civil, military, and marine establishments in the settlement; they are the collectors of the rates, the customs and the taxes; and, in short, are the monopolizers of the interior commerce of the island; and, with the Malays, carry on the principal part of the coasting trade.
"The influence which would naturally follow from the management of concerns so very important and extensive, could not long be regarded by a weak and luxurious government without jealousy. Those arts which the Europeans have usually followed with success in establishing themselves in foreign countries, and which the Dutch have not been backward in carefully studying and effectually carrying into practice, with regard to the natives of Java, could not be applied with the least hope of success to the Chinese settlers. These people had no sovereign to dethrone, by opposing to him the claims of an usurper; nor did the separate interests of any petty chief allow them, by exciting jealousy, to put in execution the old adage of divide et impera, divide and command. With as little hope of success could the masters of the island venture to seduce an industrious and abstemious people from their temperate habits by the temptation of foreign luxuries; and their general disposition to sobriety held out no encouragement for the importation of spirituous liquors and intoxicating drugs. For, though the Chinese, who are in circumstances to afford it, make use of opium to excess, yet this is a luxury in which the common people of this nation rarely think of indulging. The Dutch, therefore, who were weak in point of numbers, had recourse to a more decisive and speedy measure for getting rid of a redundancy of population, which had begun to create suspicion and alarm: they put them to the sword. * * * * * This extraordinary affair took place on the 9th of October; the whole of the 10th was a day of plunder; and on the 11th they began to remove out of the streets the dead bodies, the interment of which employed them eight days. The number said to have perished, according to the Dutch account, amounts to more than twelve thousand, souls. Having thus completed one of the most inhuman, and apparently causeless transactions that ever disgraced a civilized people, they had the audacity to proclaim a public thanksgiving to the God of mercy for their happy deliverance from the hands of the heathen. While the Dutch, in their public records, endeavour to justify this atrocious act on the plea of necessity, they make the following memorable observation: It is remarkable that this people, notwithstanding their great numbers, offered not the least resistance, but suffered themselves to be led as sheep to the slaughter." For my own part, when I reflect on the timid character of the Chinese, their want of confidence in each other, and their strong aversion to the shedding of human blood; and when I compare their situation in Batavia to that of the Hottentots in the colony of the Cape of Good Hope, where every little irregularity is magnified into a plot against the government, I cannot forbear giving a decided opinion that these people were innocently murdered. The consequences to the Dutch proved much more serious than at first they seemed to have been aware of. The terrified Chinese, who escaped the massacre, fled into the interior of the island; a scarcity of rice and every kind of vegetables, succeeded; and the apprehensions of a famine induced them to offer terms to the fugitives, and to entreat their return."
Sir Stamford Raffles, in his history of Java, writes as follows:
"Besides the natives, whose numbers, circumstances, and character I have slightly mentioned, there is in Java a rapidly increasing race of foreigners, who have emigrated from the different surrounding countries. The most numerous and important class of these is the Chinese, who already (1816) do not fall far short of a hundred thousand; and who, with a system of free trade, and free cultivation, would soon accumulate ten-fold, by natural increase within the island and gradual accessions of new settlers from home. They reside principally in the three great capitals of Batavia, Semàrang, and Surabàya, but they are to be found in all the smaller capitals, and scattered over most parts of the country. A great proportion of them are descended from families, who have been many generations on the island;—additions are gradually making to their numbers. They arrive at Batavia from China to the amount of a thousand or more annually, in Chinese junks, carrying three, four, and five hundred each, without money or resources; but, by dint of their industry, soon acquire comparative opulence. There are no women in Java, who come directly from China; but as the Chinese often marry the daughters of their countrymen by Javan women, there results a numerous mixed race, which is often scarcely distinguishable from the native Chinese."
Mr. Finlayson, in his Account of the Mission to Siam and Hué, in 1822, speaks as follows of the Chinese emigrants at Penang and Singapore:
"We had not proceeded far (at Penang) before a more interesting and more gratifying scene was expanded to our observation. Industry—active, useful, manly and independent—seemed here to have found a congenial soil and fostering care. The indolent air of the Asiatic was thrown aside. Every one laboured to produce some useful object, and every countenance teeming with animation, seemed, as it were, directed to a set task. With the air, they had lost even the slender frame of the Asiatic; and the limbs, and muscularity, and symmetry were those of another and more energetic race. These were Chinese, a people highly valuable as settlers, by reason of their industrious and very regular habits, who had established on this spot the mechanical arts, on a scale which might even vie with that of European artists, but which we should look for in vain in any other part of India. It was a pleasing and gratifying spectacle—so much are we in India accustomed to the opposite—to see a numerous, very muscular, and apparently hardy race of people, labouring, with a degree of energy and acuteness, which gave to their physical character a peculiar stamp, and placed them in a highly favourable point of view, when compared with the habits of the nations around them. Their manner of using their instruments, so different from the puerile style of Indian artists, had in it much of the dexterity of Europeans: while their condition bespoke them a flourishing and wealthy tribe. All the principal shops, all important and useful employments, and almost all the commerce of the island, was in their hands. Under the patronage of the British government they soon acquire riches; they meet with entire protection of property and person, and are cherished by the government, which, in return, derives benefit from their industry, and from the commercial and profitable speculations in which they usually engage."
* * * * *
"The neatness, the industry, and the ingenuity displayed in plantations of this sort, (at Singapore) afford a very gratifying spectacle, and attest the great progress which the Chinese nation has made in agricultural science. The Chinese may be considered as the sole cultivators of the soil. * * * * The most prominent feature in the character of the Chinese emigrant, is industry,—the best and highest endowment which he has attained. He is mechanically uniform and steady in the pursuit of what he conceives to be his immediate and personal interest, in the prosecution of which he exerts a degree of ingenuity and of bodily labour and exertion, which leave all other Asiatics at a distance. He labours with a strong arm, and is capable of great and continued exertion. He is not satisfied to bestow the quantity of labour necessary for the mere gratification of his immediate wants. Profusion and indulgence claim a share of the produce of his toils. Next in the catalogue of his virtues may be reckoned general sobriety, honesty, a quiet, orderly conduct, obedience to the laws of the country in which he resides, and, as is affirmed, a strong and unalterable sense of the important duties which parental affection inculcates. * * * * It must be confessed, however, that the Chinese are, in a political point of view, at least, by far the most useful class of people to be found in the Indian Seas. or Archipelago. Their robust frames, their industrious habits, and their moderate conduct, place them beyond competition. They furnish the best artizans, the most useful labourers, and the most extensive traders. Their commercial speculations are often extensive, often of the most adventurous nature; and we may remark by the way, that they are often immoderately fond of games of chance, as cards, dice, cock-fighting. Inebriety is a vice of which they are but rarely guilty? * * * * Notwithstanding the prohibitory laws of the celestial empire, there would appear to be no other limit to the extent of emigration than the capacity of individual to procure a passage to the neighbouring countries, modified, in some degree, by the greater or less demand for industry. It must be recollected, however, that this emigration is to be considered as temporary, the majority of the Chinese calculating upon returning after a time to their respective provinces. Their wives, or females of any description, are not permitted to accompany them abroad, to which circumstance it is perhaps chiefly owing that the Chinese have formed no colonies or other settlements, for the establishment of which their situation is peculiarly favourable."
The above quotations give an exact description of the emigrating Chinese at this present time; and I have availed myself of them, in order to bring you to my opinion, by means of the superior language and authority of very eminent persons, who wrote without any ruling idea. Mr. Barrow has declared that a few thousand Chinese emigrants would be of more advantage than a rich gold mine, to the British colony in South Africa; but he expressed that opinion on intimate, acquaintance with the Chinese character, and he formed his opinion of the Chinese long before he had an opportunity of observing the urgent want of labourers at the Cape of Good Hope. His account of the Chinese in Java, therefore, must be considered as perfectly unprejudiced by any views of colonization, though, no doubt, the idea on which I am dwelling is rather his than mine.
That idea, indeed, must strike every man at all acquainted with the facts; for who can be aware of the crowded state of the Chinese, and of their admirable qualities as settlers in a waste country, without feeling surprised that they did not long ago overrun this naturally happy wilderness, which seems to be made on purpose, one may almost say, to receive the superabundant millions. And is it not still more surprising that these British settlers, who would gladly purchase slaves at one hundred pounds per head, should not have procured labourers from Canton? The labouring classes there, I am credibly informed, frequently make offers to the masters of English ships to bind themselves to labour, without wages, during three days in the week, for a term of years, in return for a free passage to any British settlement. Those abstemious and industrious creatures, who, at home, cannot by the most constant and vigorous labour, earn more than just enough to preserve their lives, are confident of being able to acquire comparative wealth by the free disposal of half of their time in any new country. But I have already explained, at length, why the colonial employer of labour makes no efforts to obtain indented servants, even at the cheapest rate of wages. However, to repeat the words of Mr. Finlayson, "there would appear to be no other limit to the extent of Chinese emigration, than the capacity of individuals to procure a free passage to the neighbouring countries;" and I have suggested, what appears to me, a certain means of providing free transport to unlimited numbers. Supposing me not to be mistaken in my view of the mode, and the degree, in which the proposed system of colonization would operate, there might be A constant immigration of Chinese labourer? at every settlement in Australasia; and, considering the transcendent skill of those people in the management of water, they might, within a century, convert this immense desert into a fruitful garden; provided, always, that females should be permitted to emigrate in equal number with the males.
The existing obstacles to the emigration of females appear to me to be the only bar to a most rapid increase of the Australasian people, by means of emigration from China; but I believe that those obstacles might be removed. It is certain that, in seasons of scarcity, great numbers of Chinese females migrate, with their husbands and parents, from the seaward provinces into Tartary; and it is the Tartar government, alone, of China which prevents their emigration by sea. But two questions therefore remain: 1st, Whether the governors of the seaward provinces might be persuaded, or bribed, or compelled, to permit the emigration of women? 2d, Whether, if once a considerable body of Chinese men had established themselves in Australasia, enjoying perfect security of person and property, whether in goods or land, they would not readily procure women from their mother country, in spite of its government? These questions can be answered by experience alone; but the experiment seems worth an effort of diplomatic skill—not by means of a pompous embassy, wherewith to frighten the timid rulers of China—but through the intervention of a class of persons who, by hook or by crook, would procure tea from China, in spite of all earthly obstacles.
It would appear, at first sight, that the people of England have no motive for enabling the Chinese to multiply according to the laws of nature, by means of free migration. But would it be no advantage to British manufacturers to enjoy free trade with millions of fellow subjects of Chinese origin, and, through them, perhaps, with hundreds of millions of customers in the celestial empire? I must not, however, enter on so large a question; my only object in these remarks being to promote an examination of the whole subject, by those Who have a special interest in it and who are best qualified to conduct such an inquiry.
It is suggested,
That a payment in money of per acre, be required for all future grants of land without exception.
For the execution of this provision, the mode of selling waste land in North America would furnish a useful model.
That all land now granted, and to be granted, throughout the colony, be declared liable to a tax of per cent. upon the actual rent.
As this is not a land-tax, but a tax upon rent the yearly amount of the tax would be determined, either by the actual receipt of rent, or by the estimated letting value of land when occupied by the landlord; and the machinery for collecting the tax might be the same as that by which county rates are levied in England.
That the proceeds of the tax upon rent, and of sales, form an Emigration Fund, to be employed in the conveyance of British Labourers to the colony free of cost.
This provision explains itself. It may be
remarked, however, that, in conjunction with the other
provisions, it would supply the desideratum, so anxiously sought
by the Parliamentary Emigration Committee; namely, a means of
conducting the emigration of paupers from Britain without any
expense to the country. The principle on which the
recommendation of the Committee was founded, is, that the labour
of paupers, removed from an old to a new country, will repay the
cost of their removal. No doubt it will; but the measure proposed
by the Committee offers no security for repayment. They
suggest that Government shall advance to the Pauper Emigrant, not
only the cost of his passage, but also stock, implements and food
for a year; holding as security for repayment, the bit of forest
or swamp on which he shall be located. The pauper, necessarily
ignorant and imprudent, is to be converted, all at once, into a
landowner, and under circumstances, which, above all others,
require much intelligence and the greatest prudence. He is not to
be planted on a small grant, in the midst of rich, intelligent
and prudent emigrants, whose example and assistance might lead
him to profit by the great change in his condition; but thousands
like him are to be planted in masses, and left entirely to their
own guidance. His land, being in a country where land can he
obtained for next to nothing, will possess no value, except
according to the degree in which it shall be improved. The
security of the Government, therefore, for the repayment of its
advance, is the emigrant's good fortune and good conduct. He will
be subject to fever, and in a society so composed, to idleness,
drunkenness, blunders, and despair; any one of which must prevent
him from fulfilling the condition of his grant. Here then is an
end of security, in the usual sense of the word. Moreover, the
settler will be tempted, by the high wages of labour at no great
distance, to sell his stock, quit his embarrassing estate, and
return to his proper condition of a labourer for hire. Many
attempts have been made, both in America and in New South Wales,
to settle paupers in masses, isolated from capital, intelligence
and prudence. Such attempts at plantation have almost universally
failed. The poor, ignorant, imprudent landowner has sunk under
his troubles; his land has passed away to the dealer in rum; and,
the wages of labour near him being very high, he has returned to
his proper condition of a labourer for hire. Unquestionably the
emigration of paupers, according to the system proposed by the
Committee, would greatly benefit the condition of the persons
removed; but there is no security for repayment to Government of
the expense incurred by their removal; and this country is not
inclined to risk further taxation for any purpose, bad or good.
These, we may suppose, are the reasons why Mr. Wilmot Horton's
benevolent plan has been received by all parties, with apathy, if
not with dislike.
Recurring to the proposed measure, whatever the extent of emigration for which it should provide, the whole would occur without any expense to this country. Emigration would be carried on by private speculation, not to the loss but to the advantage of those who should defray its expense. A part of that expense would he defrayed beforehand by the produce of rent-tax and sales; or, if that produce were anticipated, there would be ample security for repayment to those who should make the advance.
The Parliamentary Committee on Emigration have provided the machinery for executing all that part of the proposed measure which concerns the mere removal of the emigrant from Britain to the Colony.
That those to whom the administration of the Fund shall be entrusted, be empowered to raise money on that security, as money is raised on the security of parish and county rates in England.
That the supply of Labourers be as nearly as possible proportioned to the demand for Labour at each Settlement; so that Capitalists shall never suffer from an urgent want of Labourers, and that Labourers shall never want well-paid employment.
The execution of this provision would require
considerable intelligence and judgment in the persons to whom it
might be confided. It is proposed, that there should be an Agent
of Emigration at each Settlement. His duties would be,
First, To supply the Government at home with accurate information as to the state of demand for labourers in the Settlement; and according to his reports, the supply of emigrants would be carefully regulated.
Secondly, To receive the emigrants on their arrival, and to facilitate their being hired by capitalists.
Thirdly, To furnish them with a very moderate provision until hired.
The first duty is the most important. In the infancy of a Settlement, the Agent might very accurately learn the state of demand for labour, by receiving applications from capitalists, and keeping an exact registry of the same. Afterwards, as the Settlement should increase, and capitalists should be far removed from the seat of Colonial Government, he must take great pains to collect true information, and to judge soundly.
That, in the selection of Emigrants, an absolute preference be given to young persons, and that no excess of males be conveyed to the colony free of cost.
A thousand emigrants of all ages might not, at
the end of twenty years, increase the Colonial population by more
than that number. As many might die as would be born, and, if
there were an excess of males, the number might, at the end of
twenty years, be much less than a thousand. But five hundred
young couples, supposing that each couple rear six children, and
that in twenty years half of the original emigrants be dead,
would, in that short period, increase the Colonial population by
three thousand five hundred souls. Any number of emigrants, in
short, would, if selected as proposed, treble themselves in the
first twenty years; whereas, a number of emigrants of all ages
might not, and probably would not, begin to increase till the end
of twenty years.
Supposing the cost of conveying one thousand emigrants to be £20,000, that sum, increasing for twenty years at compound interest of five per cent., would be £53,000. Supposing one thousand emigrants of all ages to be conveyed in the year 1830, the cost of increasing the Colonial population by a thousand souls, in the year 1850, would be £53,000; whereas, if young couples only were selected, an increase of a thousand souls would be obtained, in 1850, by the emigration in 1880, of three hundred persons, at a cost (allowing compound interest of five per cent. for twenty years) of £16,000.
This is an extreme calculation; but it is offered only to illustrate a principle. By adopting that principle in the conduct of emigration, in conjunction with the rest of the proposed measure, might not the crown eventually sell land in the Colonies for as high a price as could be obtained for fertile land, rising miraculously out of the sea, close to Britain?
That Colonists providing a passage for emigrant Labourers, being young persons and equal numbers of both sexes, be entitled to a payment in money from the Emigration Fund, equal to the actual contract price of a passage for so many labouring persons.
The object of this regulation is to enable capitalists to obtain labourers accustomed to any particular kind of cultivation. It would not at all interfere with the general principles on which the whole measure is founded.
That Grants be absolute in fee, without any condition whatsoever, and obtainable by deputy.
The other regulations of the proposed measure
would obviate the necessity for conditions. All the conditions at
present attached to grants of colonial land, are intended to
prevent the misappropriation and neglect of land. They have
entirely failed of their object; but that object would be
obtained, in the most simple and certain manner, by the proposed
measure. As the supply of labourers would always be in proportion
to the land granted, the grantee, if he did not let his land,
would surely cultivate it. It cannot be doubted that, at present,
grantees of waste land wish to fulfil the conditions of their
grants. To do so would be for their own advantage; but the
dearness of labour,—the absolute want of
labourers,—prevents them from doing so. In the proposed
case, the grantee would have the power to consult his own
advantage, by cultivating his land. It is for this that be would
pay, when appearing to pay for his title to the land; and it is
to be presumed that he would not neglect that which he had
purchased at a considerable price. It seems, therefore, quite
unnecessary to bind him to do what every man in his situation
would be sure to do without any bond. If this view of the subject
be correct, it furnishes a strong argument in favour of the whole
measure. The governments of all new colonies have adopted the
principle of checking the misappropriation of land, and have
hitherto universally failed in their attempts to give effect to
that principle. The proposed measure, it is conceived, would at
once give complete effect to that excellent principle, by
securing what alone has been sought by the conditions attached to
That grants should be obtainable by deputy, that is, without emigration, is recommended with a view to treat colonial land as much as possible like land that should, miraculously, rise out of the sea close to Britain. In the imagined case, the purchaser of land would not be compelled to reside on his grant Whether or not he should reside oti his grant would be wholly unimportant, with a view to the effect of an increase of territory in causing a decrease of pauperism. So in the proposed case, the grantee, even though he should never quit London, could not misappropriate land. His purchase-money would be employed in augmenting the colonial population, in proportion to the extent of his grant. His land therefore would yield rent; and of course it would be cultivated, though not by him.
If this conclusion is reasonable, it is much to be desired that grants should be obtainable without emigration. The whole object of the proposed measure is to diminish the evils of pauperism in Britain, and to promote colonization, by rendering the purchase of waste land a very profitable employment of capital. The greater the quantity of land purchased, the more gratifying would be the results of the proposed measure. Consequently the purchase of waste land should be encouraged, as much, and checked as little, as possible. An obligation to emigrate would be a serious check. If there were no such obligation, much British capital might be invested in the purchase of colonial land. Such a mode of investment would be peculiarly eligible for properties intended to accumulate, and would, perhaps, be preferable to any investment in reversionary property. Every argument, at least, which favours the presumption that the whole measure would cause a rapid advance in the rent of land, is an argument also in favour of such investments. For the increase of rent is an increase of market value; and if the increase were rapid, such investments would be a very profitable employment of money. London capitalists would require no other encouragement to assist in giving effect to the proposed system of colonial policy.
That any surplus of the proceeds of the tax upon rent and of sales, over what is required for Emigration, be employed in relief of other taxes, and for the general purposes of Colonial Government.
"If a body of people were to migrate into a new country, and land had not yet become private property, there would be this reason for considering the rent of land as a source peculiarly adapted to supply the exigencies of the government: that industry would not, by that means, sustain the smallest repression, and that the expense of the government would be defrayed without imposing any burthen upon any individual. The owners of capital would enjoy its profits; the class of labourers would enjoy their wages, without any deduction whatsoever; and every man would employ his capital in the way which was really most advantageous, without any inducement from the mischievous operation of a tax, to remove it from a channel, in which it was more, to one in which it would be less productive to the nation. There is, therefore, a peculiar advantage in reserving the rent of land as a fund for supplying the exigencies of the state." *
[* Mill's Elements of Political Economy.]
All the expense of the measure itself, that is, the whole cost of surveys, of the collection of rent-tax, and of emigration, would, of course, be at once defrayed by the proceeds of rent-tax and sales. The utmost economy of administration would be indispensable to the success of the measure; and especially that economy which would devote as much as possible to the mere passage of emigrants, and as little as possible to the salaries of officers. Perhaps the surplus of the fund produced by rent-tax and sales over what would be required to maintain a constant supply of labour in proportion to the demand, would, at times, be very considerable. Such surplus might properly be employed in the construction of roads, bridges, canals, docks, or other public works, having a tendency to increase production and consumption, that is to raise the rent of land. Perhaps also that surplus might be sufficiently great to defray a part, or even the whole, of the expense of colonial government.
1. It is suggested that
this mode of disposing of waste land should be rendered permanent
by an act of the Legislature. Because, without the best security
for its permanence, capitalists would not, to any great extent,
either purchase waste land, or advance money on the future
proceeds of rent-tax and sales.
2. To operate effectually, this mode of disposing of waste land should be adopted in all the settlements of any colony actual and future. Otherwise the capitalists of a settlement where land might be obtained for nothing, would, in order to supply their consequent want of labourers, entice away the labourers of other settlements, where land had been obtained by payment; and the purchasers of land would thereby be cheated of their consideration.
3. The measure could not be applied to Canada. Because the vicinity of the United States would induce emigrant labourers to emigrate once more in search of waste land, or extravagant wages; and the purchasers of waste land in Canada, would thereby be cheated of their consideration. It appears peculiarly adapted to Australasia: in the first place, because, in that country, the acquisition of land at no great distance from the sea, might proceed for ages to come; and the cost of transport, both for emigrants and for produce, would be much less than in a country, where colonization could proceed only at a great distance from the sea: secondly, because the profit on the employment of capital in colonization would depend on the increase of people; and in Australasia the absence of those diseases which afflict other new countries, and of many diseases which are fatal to children in Europe, would permit an unexampled excess of births over deaths: thirdly, because the Australasian settlements are yet in their infancy; no uniform system of granting land has yet been established in them; and an uniform system might be established there without injury to any existing class of persons.
4. It seems difficult to discover any class of persons whose vested rights, or other interests, would be injuriously affected by the measure. The actual grantees of land, whom, at first sight, it would appear to tax, are exactly the class of persons that would gain the most by it As waste land would no longer be obtainable but by payment of per acre, their land must very soon possess that market value, at least; and the tax upon rent, not being a land tax, would take from them only a part of what, in most cases, the tax itself would first bestow.
5. It would be in accordance with the principles on which the suggested measure is founded, to allow the occupation of waste land, for grazing, as such occupation is now usefully permitted in. New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. The object of that permission would be to give a temporary additional value to appropriated land, and to facilitate the rapid increase of capital in the shape of animal food. Whenever a demand should occur for the purchase of land so occupied, the time would be come for making that land still more productive; and then its occupation by the owner of other land ought properly to cease.
6. Supposing the measure to be adopted, its operation might be materially retarded, xxiii if the intention of Government to adopt it were publicly known before the first step towards execution. The first step towards execution would be to put a stop to the granting of land according to the various existing regulations. Were the intention of government to take that step publicly known, and were it, besides, publicly understood that, before long, no grants would be made but for payment in money, and that every grant would provide for a given increase of people, very many grants would be hastily obtained on the easiest of present terms. A very great misappropriation of land would take place. Such misappropriation would be directly contrary to the whole spirit of the measure, and must retard its beneficial effects, by postponing the time when the increase of people and capital, in proportion to appropriated land, should cause a demand for fresh grants at a money price. But when government had taken that first step, publicity would be useful, by affording to individual and joint-stock xxiv capitalists time to prepare for giving effect to the new system of colonization, as soon as possible after it had been established by law.
SHACKELL AND BAYLIS, JOHNSON'S-COURT, FLEET ST.
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