« PreviousContinue »
vessels in number than all Ireland, though the tonnage is not quite so great. To enable you more nearly to appreciate the value and resources of these Northern Provinces, let me furnish a very striking contrast. I take the Eastern Colonies, or Mauritius and Ceylon; the African Colonies, including the Cape; the Australian Colonies, including New Zealand; and the West India Colonies, including the Bahamas and Guiana; and putting all their tonnage together, they have but two thousand one hundred and twenty-eight vessels, measuring ninety-eight thousand one hundred and eighty-three tons. You see, therefore, that the five North American Provinces own more than double the number of vessels which belong to all the other Colonies of England, Nova Scotia alone having nearly twice the amount of their aggregate tonnage.
But some may ask, What interest have the people of England in these statistics? Why should they trouble themselves about the extent or the resources of the countries you describe? Let me now show you, Mr. Chairman, how deep and all-pervading an interest the people of these islands have in this inquiry. The late Charles Buller (whose loss North America deeply mourns, for he was her steady and enlightened advocate, whose aid I regret I have not now, for he was my personal friend) declared, in the House of Commons, a short time before he died, that in Ireland, on an average, two millions of people were unemployed for thirty weeks in the year. To what extent fever and famine have diminished that number since, I do not know; but I take the fact as it then stood, and fear that too near an approximation to that statement might be hazarded, even now. In Ireland, in the year 1848, (to say nothing of the £10,000,000 voted by Parliament, of the provisions sent in from foreign countries, or of the voluntary aid extended to that unhappy country), there was raised within her own boundaries, no less a sum than £1,216,679, and expended in poor-rates; or an average of 1s. 10d. on £13,000,000. Nearly a million and a half of persons were relieved, to the extent of 16s. 8d. per head. In Scotland, £544,000 was raised and expended; the number of persons relieved, two hundred and twenty-seven thousand, six hundred and forty-seven; and the amount paid averaged £2 7s. 9d. each, enough to have shipped every poor Scotchman out, in a well-appointed steamer, to Nova Scotia ; there to become a blessing to the Colony; a customer, not a burden, to the mother country. In England, which, if this plague-spot were removed, would be as near perfection as can be attained by any civilized community, the enormous amount of £6,110,765 was raised and expended in 1848, being 1s. 6d. on £67,000,000. One million, eight hundred and seventy-six thousand, five hundred and forty-one persons
were relieved, or about one in every eleven of the whole population in this garden of the world! The average cost of each person relieved, was £3 5s. 10d. more than enough to have shipped every man to our own Northern Colonies, and made proprietors and freeholders of them for life.
I turn to the workhouses, and find that in 1849, they contained :
In England - Boys.....30,158
Fit for service.
Making a total of one hundred and eighty-five thousand one hundred and twenty-two, without including Scotland, from which I have no
Then, again, look at the number of committals for offences in the three kingdoms, in the year 1848, viz.: —
Making a total number of..
Of this number, six thousand two hundred and ninety-eight were transported, and thirty-seven thousand three hundred and seventy-three were imprisoned. I refer to these painful facts, not because I believe you are worse than the people on our side of the Atlantic, but because I believe a vast number of poor wretched creatures break the laws in these islands because they have not the wherewithal to live; they are absolutely driven by poverty to the commission of crime. Many of these are imprisoned, and expatriated from their country, who, in my conscience, I believe to be as innocent, in the sight of God, as any man in this assembly. You maintained in Ireland, in 1849, a constabulary force of twelve thousand eight hundred and twenty-nine, and three hundred and forty horses, at a cost of £562,506; and in England and Wales, including the London police, nearly an equal number at a nearly equal cost. In this service, you expended a gross total of £1,140,000; thus maintaining as many constables in these two small islands as doubled the whole standing army of the United States of America.
And is this necessary, because the people of these islands are worse than
their brethren of the new world? By no means; but government is compelled to maintain this force in consequence of the immense pressure upon the means of subsistence in this country, and which pressure would be relieved, till you might reduce your constabulary one-half, by promoting sound and wholesome emigration. Then, again, I might refer to the cost of prisons. I find that the prison at York cost £1,200 per head for each prisoner they have to maintain in it; enough, as the inspector reports, "to build for each a separate mansion, coachhouse, and stable." If you multiply by twelve (the number of jurors summoned on a jury) the number of criminals tried, you will see the enormous amount of time wasted in the punishment of crime. Then, there is the amount of property stolen by criminals, which no man can guage; it still continues to increase with the progress of population and the advancement of crime. There is another consideration, - the cost of life and property destroyed by agrarian outrages, superinduced by the artificial and pressing system under which you suffer in this country. And what is the remedy for all this? I turn at once to the four millions of square miles of territory under the Queen's sceptre on the continent of North America, with its noble rivers, fertile soil, exhaustless fisheries, and valuable mines; and I ask, will you allow three-fourths of this vast territory to continue a howling wilderness? Many persons have an idea that large emigration may empty England. Empty England? The idea is preposterous. No Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman, will live out of these islands that can live in them. No man would voluntarily choose to leave this country, which is a garden from shore to shore, and exchange it for a comparative wilderness. Who would leave the land of their fathers, with all its historical associations, unless driven out by poverty, or stimulated by high enterprise?
But, we are sometimes told, there is only one enlightened mode of colonization, and that is being very extensively tried in our southern and Eastern Colonies. Of the Wakefield theory of colonization, I would speak with all respect; of the combined efforts of public spirited individuals, seeking to give it a fair trial, I would be the last to disapprove. I do not wish to check the progress, in valuable Colonies, of associated enterprise; but having for more than a month closely examined all that they have done, and are capable of doing, I turn from them to the North American field, satisfied that they must continue to furnish but homœopathic remedies for the internal maladies of England.
In twenty-two years, from 1825 to 1846 inclusive, only one hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and seventy-two persons went from these United Kingdoms to the Australian colonies and New Zeal
and. In the same period seven hundred and ten thousand four hundred and ten went to the United States, to strengthen a foreign and rival power; to intrench themselves behind a hostile tariff, ranging from fifteen to one hundred per cent. over British manufactures; to become consumers of American manufactures instead, and of foreign productions, sea borne in American bottoms; they, and the countless generations that have already sprung from their loins, unconscious of regard for British interests, and of allegiance to the crown of England.
In twenty-two years, one hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and seventy-two settlers have gone to Australia and New Zealand! About half the number on the poor-rate of Scotland in 1848. Not a tenth part of the paupers relieved in Ireland; or one in fourteen of those who were supported by England's heavily taxed industry, in that single year. Not more, I fear, than died of famine in a single county of Ireland, from 1846 to 1850; and less, by sixty thousand, than the number of the young people who were in the workhouses of England and Ireland in 1849. Valuable then as these Eastern Colonies may be, and respectable as may have been the efforts to improve them, it is obvious that as aids to the removal of pressure upon the resources of the United Kingdom, those who calculate largely upon them are sure to be deceived. The reasons are obvious. Australia and New Zealand are fourteen thousand miles from the shores of England; the British Provinces of North America are but two thousand five hundred. Every poor man who embarks for Australia must be maintained by somebody for one hundred and twenty or one hundred and fifty days, while he is rolling about in idleness on the sea. The ordinary passage to North America, in sailing vessels, is about forty days. With steam we may hope soon to reach Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in eight or ten days, and Canada in twelve. The expense of a passage to the East is £20, to the West it is £3 10s.; and with emigrant steam vessels may be still further reduced. Then, mark the disproportionate prices of land. In Australia or New Zealand one hundred acres of land cost £100 sterling; in the Canterbury settlement, £300. In western Canada one hundred acres of the best land in the empire can be bought for £40; in Lower Canada for £20. In New Brunswick, where there are still eleven millons of ungranted acres in possession of the government, for £12 10s. In Nova Scatia, where land is now, in many districts, as valuable as in any of the Colonies, and from the increase of commerce, soon will be in all, we give one hundred acres of crown land to an emigrant for £10.
But, we are told, that in the Eastern Colonies these high prices are
not paid for land alone, but for civilization; for roads, schools, religious ordinances and education, without which land is of no value. I know not whether we are very highly civilized in North America, but I will just explain the position of Nova Scotia, and let the audience judge for themselves. It is divided into seventeen counties, and every county has its sheriff, magistrate, jail, courthouse, and two terms of the supreme court, in which the common and statute law of England is administered. The Province is intersected with roads, and bridges span all the larger and most of the smaller streams. Every county is divided into townships, and each township has its shire town; and in those towns there are places of worship for the Episcopalian, the Methodist, the Baptist, the Presbyterian, the Catholic, the Independent, and for the various modifications of religious opinion which divide the inhabitants of these islands.
Every county has from fifty to one hundred schools. There is scarcely a house in Nova Scotia without a Bible in it, and hardly a native of the Province who would not be ashamed to be unable to read it. This is the "barbarous" state of the North American Provinces, for Nova Scotia is but the type of them all. If what I have described be civilization, we shall be extremely glad to give all these blessings, this civilization, such as it is, to every Englishman, Irishman, or Scotchman, who chooses to come into the Province, and one hundred acres of land besides, for £10.
But England's political, as well as her moral and industrial interests, demand that her North American possessions should be strengthened and improved. We hear a good deal occasionally about the balance of power in Europe; and, one would suppose, by the excitement created by some paltry continental intrigue, or petty principality in Germany or the Mediterranean, that the very existence of this great nation was often involved. The people of British America, in their simplicity, are sometimes apt to think that, if half the trouble was taken about the territories which belong to us, that is wasted on those which do not, our British brethren would be nearly as well employed. I am no alarmist, but there appear to be many in England, and some of them holding high military and social positions, who regard England as defenceless, at this moment, from the assaults of any first-rate European power. Now, suppose that France or Russia were to combine her military and naval forces with those of the United States to attack England, hopeful as I am of the destiny and confident in the resources of these islands, I doubt not but they would, in the end, come gloriously through the struggle. But who can deny that the contest would be perilous for a time, and, under the most favorable circumstances, very expensive? One Ameri