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It would be advantageous to the labourers who remained at home, by removing those paupers whose competition depresses their wages to the lowest limit, and by providing for the aboli tion of the allowance system; and it would be advantageous to all classes, by drying up the most copious source of internal commotion, and by extending and multiplying our commercial relations with other countries.
But it is unnecessary to dwell on the peculiar advantages of emigration. They have been rendered familiar to every one by the speeches and writings of Mr Wilmot Horton. It is impossible, indeed, for any one who has attended to these subjects, to estimate too highly the services of that right honourable person. He has laboured for years with a zeal and perseverance that was proof against the hostility of avowed enemies, the sneers of witlings, and the indifference of the multitude. But the recent events have shown the solidity of his leading principles, and the correctness of his general views; and we hope that, before setting out for the Eastern world, he will have the gratification of seeing his opinions adopted and acted upon by Parliament.
There are no materials for correctly estimating the number of surplus labourers in England. We do not, however, believe that it is nearly so great as is commonly supposed. A small excess of agricultural labourers is sufficient to plunge the whole into the abyss of pauperism. The removal of 200,000 individuals from the agricultural counties would, we have little doubt, be quite sufficient to admit of the total abolition of the allowance system, and, at the same time, to raise wages to a proper level. But, whatever be the extent to which it might be proper to carry emigration, there is in the colonies far more than ample accommodation for all the emigrants that would be sent out. Canada, South Africa, and New Holland, have all a boundless extent of fertile and unoccupied land. And while, by sending settlers to them, we relieve ourselves from that mass of pauperism by which we are now weighed down, we shall, at the same time, be laying the foundations of new empires, and diffusing the blessings of civilisation, religion, and the arts.
But apart from all that has previously been stated, the events of the last few months have shown, that the existing evils in the condition of the poor can no longer be trifled with; the time for anodynes and soporifics has gone by, and recourse must be had to more powerful medicines. The bellum servile, so lately raging in the southern counties, has been, for the present, put down. But the embers are still alive, and may easily be fanned into a flame. Though the jails and the hulks have been crowded with the victims of offended justice, the peasantry have, on the
whole, been successful. They have, in most cases, succeeded in forcing the farmers and occupiers to promise them very high wages. We doubt, however, whether it be possible, even were rents entirely remitted, for the farmers to fulfil their engagements. If they do not, this breach of contract will infallibly lead to new commotions; and if they do, is it to be supposed that the labourers will rest satisfied with what they have already gained?
Nullus, semel ore receptus,
Pollutas, patitur sanguis, mansuescere fauces.
Being all reduced to a state of pauperism, having no motive to distinguish themselves by superior diligence or good behaviour, their sole object must be to improve their victory, by forcing their employers, by dint of threats and violence, to augment their allowances, and to lighten their tasks. That such will be the progress of events, if no efforts be made to dissolve the union that now subsists among them, seems obvious. But to dissolve it we must deal with each labourer as with a responsible individual, influenced by the same motives that influence other men, instead of dealing with the species in the gross, according to scales and tables, as if they were mere brute machines, inaccessible to reason, and governable only by force. So monstrous a practice will certainly terminate, if it be left to run its course, in throwing down all that is high, without, however, raising any thing that is low. The security of property has been shaken, and much capital lost; and it is next to certain, that both will be destroyed, unless an end be put to the slavery of the working classes, unless their wages be determined on the principle of competition, and industry, forethought, and good conduct, be again rendered the only means by which labourers can hope to improve their condition.
We, therefore, cordially approve of the principle, and of most of the details, of the bill introduced by the present Ministry for facilitating emigration. It might safely, as we think, have gone a good deal farther; but perhaps it was best to begin with a measure like the present. The bill authorizes the appointment of a commission by the crown, who are to have power to contract, either with vestries or individuals, for the removal of paupers, chargeable, or likely to become chargeable, to the colonies, under such regulations as government may think fit, from time to time, to issue. The sums advanced, in the first instance, by government, are to be repaid by an assessment upon all property liable to contribute to the poor's rate, at the rate of 10 per cent per annum, till the whole be extinguished. The powers vested in the com
missioners and lords of the treasury by the act are limited to the term of five years.
The expense of maintaining a man, his wife, and two or three children, as paupers in the southern counties, may be set down, at a rough average, at from L.22 to L.26 a-year. It is difficult, among the conflicting accounts that are in circulation, to estimate the probable expense of conveying such a family to Canada, and establishing them there; but taking the largest estimate, it could not exceed L.80; so that the parish or landlord, bound to support such a family, would be a very great gainer by contracting for their removal. To talk, as some honourable gentlemen have done, from whom we expected better things, of emigration diminishing the capital of the country to the same extent that it diminished population, is a good deal worse than absurd. About a sixth, or, at the very outside, a fifth part of the capital will suffice to establish a pauper family in Canada that is required for its support at home. It may be said, perhaps, that we must deduct from the expense of keeping such a family the value of their labour. But those who consider the mischievous influence which the maintenance of able-bodied labourers in a state of pauperism has on the industry of others, will be ready to acknowledge that far more work would be done by the remaining labourers, were the paupers removed, than is at present executed by the whole; and that, consequently, nothing ought to be set down to the credit of the work performed by the paupers. It must also be borne in mind, that if no efforts be made to subvert the present allowance system, by providing an outlet for the surplus labourers, the charge on their account will, from the natural progress of the evil, go on regularly increasing, until it swallows up the whole net revenue of the country. Nothing, therefore, can be a greater mistake, than to suppose, that those who consent to make an advance for the removal of paupers, are making a sacrifice to get rid of an accidental and transitory evil. The fact is, they are making a comparatively small sacrifice, to rid themselves of an evil which is deeply seated, which is rapidly spreading, and which, if it be not effectually counteracted, will, at no distant period, sink all classes below the level of that which is now lowest.
It is very properly provided in the bill, that no one is to be sent abroad as an emigrant, except with his own express consent; and that no sort of force or undue persuasion is to be used to induce any one to give such consent. But if the bill should pass into a law, parishes will not do their duty by the public, or by themselves, if they do not materially lessen the present inducements to continue at home as paupers. It was
stipulated in some parts of the country, during the late disturbances, that all labourers, however slothful or negligent, and whether employed by the parish or not, should receive 2s. 3d. a-day at an average of the year! In the event, however, of the present bill passing, the parishes that have entered into this agreement may fairly recede from it. They are entitled to tell the labourers, that, when it was made, there was no outlet for the surplus labourers; that such an outlet is now provided; that the parish is willing to defray the expense of their conveyance to countries where land is cheap and labour dear, and where, instead of getting two, they may, if they choose to be industrious, realize four or five shillings a-day; and that, having given them this option, they have resolved upon reducing the allowance to one shilling a-day.
An end ought, then, also to be put to the present practice of making a distinction between the allowances to single and married men. The choice of going to the colonies deprives the latter of any just cause of complaint they might have had, had the allowances been equalized without this option being offered. The total abolition of this distinction is absolutely indispensable to the abolition of the allowance system, and the growth of provident habits among the poor.
The clamour that has been raised against the bill for Facilitating Emigration,' as if it were, A bill for the Transportation of Men because of Poverty,' will not, we trust, make any serious impression. The bill is eminently calculated, were it passed into a law, to promote the interests of the poor; and they are not their friends, but their worst enemies, who labour to procure its rejection. We disclaim all participation in the tender mercies of those who would persuade the labourer to continue in a state of slavery and destitution in England, when he may become free and prosperous in the colonies. If such persons be honest, their notions of humanity are about as singular as those of the chemist who mistook salt for sugar; if they be dishonest, and assume the cant of charity, and so forth, merely as a cloak to mask their designs, knavery cannot well go farther.
We recommend the following paragraph, which is not more striking than true, from the Sydney Gazette, to the attention of those who honestly think that emigration would be injurious to the poor:
'Here, then, is a country, prepared to our very hands, for all the purposes of civilized life. While England is groaning under a population for which she cannot provide bread, here ' is an unmeasured extent of rich soil, that has lain fallow for ' ages, and to which the starving thousands of the north are
'beckoned to repair. The great want of England is employ'ment; the great want of New South Wales is labour. Eng'land has more mouths than food; New South Wales has more 'food than mouths. England would be the gainer by lopping ' off one of her superfluous millions; New South Wales would be the gainer by their being planted upon her ample plains. 'In England, the lower orders are perishing for lack of bread; ' in New South Wales, they are, like Jeshuron, "waxing fat ' and kicking" amid superabundance. In England, the master 'is distracted to find work for his men; in New South Wales, 'he is distracted to find men for his work. In England, the 'capitalist is glad to make his three per cent; in New South 'Wales, he looks for twenty. In England, capital is a mere 'drug-the lender can scarcely find a borrower, the borrower 'can scarcely repay the lender; in New South Wales, capital is the one thing needful-it would bring a goodly interest to 'the lender, and would make the fortune of the borrower.
Then, let the capitalist wend his way hither, and his one 'talent will soon gain ten, and his ten, twenty. Let the labour'ing pauper come hither, and if he can do nothing in the world 'but dig, he shall be welcome to THREE AND TWENTY SHILLINGS 'A-WEEK, and shall feast on fat beef and mutton at a penny or 'twopence a-pound. Let the workhouses and jails disgorge 'their squalid inmates upon our shores, and the heart-broken 'pauper, and the abandoned profligate, shall be converted into 'honest, and industrious, and jolly-faced yeomen.'-(Sydney Gazette, 22d May, 1830.)
It was contended, in the debate on the introduction of the bill, that the increase of population may, at present, be estimated at 200,000 a-year; and that, unless emigration were carried to this extent, it could do no good. But, with all due respect, we take leave to say, that nothing can be more entirely unfounded than this statement. Capital and population are, at present, advancing in certain ratios; and the object in proposing emigration, is not to hinder any increase of population, but to lessen the ratio of its increase, so that the balance may be made to incline in favour of capital. An emigration of 20,000 or 30,000 a-year may be quite sufficient for this purpose; and would, there can be no doubt, in a very few years, materially improve the condition of the labourers.
Besides providing an outlet for the existing surplus labourers, measures ought to be taken to check their undue increase in future, by removing every direct encouragement to improvidence. For this purpose, a change should be made in the law