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can war added £120,000,000 to your debt: a few millions, profitably employed, but not wasted, in the Northern Provinces, will so strengthen them as to make another war a very remote contingency, and comparatively little burdensome or hazardous, if it ever comes. But, suppose the Northern Provinces neglected and ultimately lost; imagine the territories of the Republic extended to Hudson's Bay, and that the spirit generated by two wars, and which a word, a single act, so readily revives, pervaded the continent. Strip England of every port on the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans; leave her without a ton of coal for her steamers, or a spar to repair a ship. Fancy the five thousand vessels that we now own added to the enemy's fleet, and the four hundred thousand men that we could arm to-morrow added to her forces; the enemy's outposts and arsenals would then be advanced five hundred miles nearer to England, and the West India Colonies overpowered and lost, as a matter of course. Would not the balance of power in Europe be thus fearfully disturbed, because England had failed to maintain the balance of power in America? The picture, Mr. Chairman, is too painful to be dwelt on, even for a moment; and I gladly turn to the measures which I believe, by strengthening, and inspiring the northern Provinces with grateful confidence in the policy and maternal forethought of the United Kingdoms, will render the empire impregnable and secure.
The measures which I propose are extremely simple, and in the end will be found almost self-sustaining, relieving rather than adding to the burdens of the State. They include
Ocean steamers for the poor as well as the rich.
The preparation of wild lands for settlement, by the Colonial govern
The promotion of public works of acknowledged national utility, by the interposition of Imperial credit, that the labor market may be extended, and the poor of Great Britain employed, as an aid to colonization.
The bounties which you now pay to encourage your North American and West India mail steamers amount to £385,000. For this sum you maintain, on the ocean, twenty-four noble vessels, which in peace are a protection to commerce in the seas they traverse, and could in a moment be converted into formidable vessels of war. The postage on the letters they carry pays a large portion, if not the whole expense. To build and equip the same number of steamships for the navy would require an expenditure of £2,400,000 in the first instance, and the annual cost would not be less than the bounty now paid. It is clear that, by these contracts, the nation is stronger by the twenty-four ships, and yet saves the £2,400,000 it would cost to build them, even should no postage be received. Apply
the same principle to the conveyance of emigrants that you do to the conveyance of letters. The same bounty which you now pay to one of these lines would at once add eight or ten more noble ships to the naval force of England. There might be some loss at first, but ultimately they would be self-sustaining, and the millions you now maintain in unions and workhouses would not only be enabled to maintain themselves, but would ultimately, by their increased traffic and intercourse, maintain for you an important addition to the naval force of the empire.
[Mr. Howe illustrated the necessity for the employment of emigration steamers, by showing the deplorable results of emigration as it had been conducted to the North American provinces in sailing vessels, particularly in years of famine or industrial derangement at home. He showed from the official returns, that in 1847, seventeen thousand four hundred and forty-five British subjects died on the passage to Canada and New Brunswick alone-in quarantine, or in the hospitals; that, from the infection spread through thirty Colonial towns and cities, there was too much reason to believe that the number must have swelled to twenty-five thousand. By quotations from American works he inferred that an equal number perished on their way to, or in the United States, in the same year; making an aggregate of fifty thousand.]
I am quite aware, said he, that government were not to blame for this mortality; that to have prevented emigration would have made the matter worse. I am quite aware that improved regulations have since been proposed and established, and that a famine year affords no fair criterion of the average mortality in ordinary seasons. But when we reflect that but eight hundred men were sunk in the Royal George; that but one thousand nine hundred and ninety-three were slain at the battle of Waterloo; that at Salamanca but one in ninety of those engaged was killed, and but one in one hundred and four at Maida, we are impressed with the solemnity of the obligation to guard against such results in all time to come. The loss, by this single year's emigration, was equal to the aggregate population of three Irish cities, or three of the smaller agricultural counties of Scotland. The ocean omnibus for the poor is the true remedy. In ordinary seasons it will make emigration a cheerful change from one part of the Queen's dominions to another; in periods of distress, of derangement and plethora in the labor market, it will transport Her Majesty's subjects in health and security from where they are not wanted to where they are.
[Mr. Howe also illustrated the evils arising from fraud and misdirection, and from collisions and shipwrecks at sea, and the heavy expenses consequently thrown upon the Provincial governments. One cargo of
emigrants, wrecked upon the coast of Nova Scotia in 1848, cost its government, to relieve the sick, bury the dead, and to tranship the survivors, £939, or £5 10s. per head. Another cargo of one hundred and twentyseven Highlanders, shipped by a proprietor in South Uist, to clear his estate, cost him to export and misdirect, £3 10s. per head. It cost the government £4 10s, to bury the dead, to cure the poor people who survived, of small pox, and to transship them to Prince Edward Island and Cape Breton. He also showed the hostile Colonial legislation which the inevitable sickness and casualties attendant upon long voyages in sailing vessels, generated; and explained how these laws would be swept away, and how cheerfully the Colonial governments would lay off their lands, and prepare for emigration, if the working classes could be sent out with certainty in health, and landed at convenient ports, where their friends, and proprietors having land to dispose of, would be ready to receive them. Steamers could run along the southern coasts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and land emigrants wherever they were wanted. They could run throngh the Gut of Canso, and supply the northern counties, including Prince Edward Island. They would go up the St. Lawrence and drop them from Gaspe to Quebec.]
But, Mr. Chairman, I am anxious to see these ocean steamers for the working classes, on another account. The omnibus in the Strand, the parliamentary train, carries passengers both ways. So will it be with the poor man's steamer. Now, when an emigrant leaves home, he leaves it forever. The Scotchman breathes his lament of "Lochaber no more.” Green Erin goes down, as the ship recedes, like an emerald sunk in the sea; for, except in their dreams, the children she throws off from her bosom rarely return to it again. Of thousands who annually leave "merrie England," how few ever revisit their kindred, or see home again until death has robbed it of every charm. Why is this? The length and uncertainty of the voyage, the misery endured, the peril encountered, the relations lost, the fraud, the misdirection, make the emigrant family, to the close of life, dread the sea. Then the cost, in a mail steamer, to and fro, would swallow the price of a farm. What are the political effects? That the British islands throw off, not only the bodies, but the souls the clustering affections and ever-springing recollections of home, with the hope to revisit it, which, if not realized, soothes to the end of life, and would, if the prospects were rational, be then bequeathed to the next generation. Whenever gratified, the effects would be conservative of British feelings, and a thousand links of love would be thus woven to bind the two countries together. Let us, then, have the ocean omnibus, not only to carry the working classes of Great Britain and
Ireland to the virgin soil which invites them, but to bring them back the fortunate to relieve their kindred, and those of moderate means to revisit their home or the home of their fathers; to tread the scenes which history hallows, and compare, without a blush, the modern triumphs and civilization of England, even with those of the proud Republic beyond the frontier. Such a squadron would be worth to North America and to England a dozen ships of war, and could be maintained ultimately for a fifth part of the expense. The Britons who crossed and re-crossed in them would not only maintain them with little or no cost to the nation in time of peace, but with light crews, help to defend them in case of
The preparation of their lands for settlement, the repeal of all taxation upon emigrants, and the creation of facilities for settlement and distribution, would be spontaneous results of Colonial legislation, costing the mother country nothing. Already works of great magnitude and importance have been designed, and are ripening to completion in North America. Some of these have already received the sanction and approval of the British government, as they assuredly involve important national as well as Colonial interests. We do not ask the British people to tax themselves for these, further than we can show them that they will save two pounds for every one they risk. But we do ask them to interpose the national credit to enable us to construct them on the best terms, to create a labor-market at their very doors; to furnish, within the Queen's dominions, a profitable field for the investment of that surplus capital of £50,000,000 a year which lies in your coffers, and which when lent to foreign countries is rarely paid, and cannot be collected without imminent risk of war. We ask you to employ your money and plant your people, under the standard of England, that they may not drift off and intrench themselves behind hostile tariffs. We ask you to seize the strong points of your own territory, and build up British cities by securing to them the full advantages of trans-Atlantic intercourse. We ask you to provide employment for millions who are a burden, but who can maintain themselves by industry. We ask you to divide the soil of the empire among those who have neither roof-tree to shelter them, nor a hearthstone that they can call their own.
With all their wealth the freehold proprietors of these islands are, I believe, estimated at eighty thousand. But one in every three hundred and fifty of those who tell us they rule the seas, own a single acre of land. An Englishman boasts that his house is his castle; and so, perhaps, it is, but it rarely stands upon his own soil. How large a proportion of the inmates of these castles may have them demolished, or their
household deities scattered, when the leases fall in? In Scotland, but six hundred and thirty-six thousand of the inhabitants out of two million six hundred thousand, live upon the land. All the rest, driven in by the high price of it, overcrowd the labor-markets of seaports and manufacturing towns. In Ireland, there were, until recently, perhaps are now, forty-two thousand two hundred and sixty-two farms of only one acre in extent; four hundred and seventy-three thousand seven hundred and fifty-five averaging from one to thirty. Between 1841 and 1848, eight hundred thousand tenants in that unhappy, but most lovely country, were driven out from these small holdings ("evicted" as the term goes), their hovels, in many cases, burnt over their heads, and their furniture "canted" into the street.
With this condition of real estate, do you wonder that Chartism, Socialism, O'Connor land schemes, are rife upon your soil? Is it not hard for the great body of this people, after ages spent in foreign wars for the conquest of distant possessions, in voyages of discovery, and every kind of commercial enterprise, to reflect that, with all their battles by land and sea, their £800,000,000 of debt, their assessed taxes, income tax, and heavy import duties, their prisons full of convicts, their poor-rate of seven millions, so few of all those who have done and who endure these things, should yet have one inch of the whole earth's surface that they can call their own. Good harvests and a brisk trade may soothe the disinherited; the standing army and the twenty-one thousand constables may keep them down, even in periods of industrial derangement; but, even if they could forever, the question naturally arises, have all your battles been fought for this, to maintain in England a state of seige; to have the sword forever hung above her bosom, suspended by a single hair?
God forbid, Mr. Chairman. But what is the remedy? Agrarian outrage and violation of the rights of property? No, sir! I would not divide the estates of the rich among the poor, but I would open up to the poor the virgin soil of the empire, that they may no longer eat into the fortunes, while they envy the prosperity, of the rich. Give the poor Scotchman who has no land, a piece of North America, purchased by the blood which stained the tartan on the plains of Abraham. Let the Englishman or Irishman, whose kindred dashed through the surf at Louisburg, or clubbed their muskets at Bloody Creek, have a bit of the land their fathers fought for. Let them at least have the option of ownership and occupation, and a bridge to carry them over. The results of such a policy would as assuredly be conservative of the rights of property as it would permanently relieve the people.
For your sakes, as well as for their own, Mr. Chairman, the people