F. Edward (Frederick Edward) Hulme.

A Settler's 35 Years' Experience in Victoria, Australia online

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has largely devolved upon them.

We stand now (1891), after 25 years on the farms, thus: -

Amount of Land, 2,523 acres

At a fair valuation, free £6,150
Stock, cattle, horses, etc. 1,500
Plants, Machinery, etc. 550
- - -
£8,200

Thus I have shown, as I promised, how £6 8s., or, if you like, £76 8s.,
has increased to £8,000.

It must be remembered, although this looks a nice sum of money, that if
divided between six sons and four daughters, the amount for each would
not be large; say among the six sons, the amount to each would only
be about £1,350. However, by still holding together in partnership,
they can increase it much more than if they divided; in fact, they are
just doing so by purchasing a property in New South Wales of 3,000
acres, mainly for sheep-farming. Besides, I have known steady, single
farm-men, as hired hands at £1 per week and "found," and £1 10s. per
week for harvest work, who have banked at least £40 per year, for over
20 years, which, with compound interest, I presume would total up to
the above sum. Not that I am an advocate for this style of saving, as,
when the money was about half that sum, they would have the means to
marry and settle down; thus be better citizens, and add more to the
prosperity of the colony.

Now, doubtless, the question will be asked by many situated as I was,
and others, "Can I do the same?" My answer is, I really cannot see why
they cannot. But they must have seen that even upon the land, there is
a very rough time to go through, especially in new country, and many
years of careful labor, though, with all, a pleasant, healthful, and
independent occupation, and, "with a long pull, and a strong pull, and
a pull altogether," and a firm reliance on God's blessing, a peaceful
and restful end.




A Dissertation on Temperance.


It must be born in mind, however, that there was one great and
important, if not indispensable factor, which I have not mentioned
in the foregoing sketch, that has greatly contributed to our
success, viz.: - The curse of alcohol was never permitted to enter
or pollute our home. I was early in life (1840) convinced of the
advantages, physically and morally, of abstaining from the narcotic
poison - alcohol. My pledge card, which I still have and keep with
much pride, is dated 1841. I had abstained some time before, so that
I can count over half a century in this good cause. And I am happy
to say the whole of my children have followed our example, and it
was only natural that they should do so, as I am a firm believer in
parental example. When this great cause was first advocated, we all
gladly joined it, as we, as a family, had suffered from the curse - and
what family has not, in some measure? My own father was a victim to
the demon; but those were days of ignorance, and drunkenness was only
looked upon as a venial weakness, and almost as a virtue among all
classes - the clergy not even exempt; and it was considered a breach
of hospitality if you did not make your guests drunk. Thank God those
bad old times are past! My dear parent was more excused as he was a
naval man - a "man-of-war's-man," and fought under the great Nelson, and
at that time it was thought necessary to make men half mad with rum
before they could fight. Now: how changed! The commanders call for the
teetotalers when they want any particular or dangerous duty performed.
I said, as a family we suffered, for he died early in life, and left
his widow with six very young children to battle alone in the world.
But I must draw the curtain; we cannot claim ignorance now.

Now, do not let it be understood that I mean to say that no one will
succeed unless they are abstainers; but from my long experience and
extensive observation, it is extremely rare to find those who started
with moderation in intoxicants, can continue so, at least with the
potations in the same quantity or strength; it is almost physically
impossible to do so. Alcohol is a substance that principally exerts
its influence on the nervous system, like opium - a kindred substance.
It creates an artificial appetite or craving, and nervous prostration
is the result, which can only be relieved, in thousands of cases, by
a continued increase in quantity or strength, and a diseased state of
the system is insensibly created. In very many cases moderation is
impossible. No man ever started in life with the intention of being a
drunkard, and if you suggested the possibility of such, he would be
most indignant. Nevertheless, they fall against their will. Neither
do I think any man leaves his home and family with the deliberate
intention of getting drunk, and coming home to abuse those who, in his
sober moments, he treats with affection. If he did so, such a man has
fallen far below the brute creation. Man is simply deluding himself
with this alluring and fascinating "serpent." In fact, "mocked," and
"he that is deceived thereby is not wise." And the true wisdom is to
banish this "curse of the race" from your home, as no one knows how
soon they or someone dear to them, may be drawn into this snare. I
never knew an abstainer but what prospered in this colony, and I have
known hundreds of drinkers "go to the wall." I have not known a single
farmer in this district who planted a vineyard, and made wine, who
has not been "bitten by his own dog," and died prematurely; except
one, and he sold out, but is still a confirmed drunkard. Alas! what
shocking tales I could tell of wasted homes. I have already mentioned
two "drunk out" farms we purchased - premature deaths, violent deaths.
Children turned adrift on the world, sacred and loving ties sundered,
etc., etc., simply from indulgence in this most insidious, useless,
and dangerous habit. However, a brighter day is dawning even for
Australia, which, as yet, is far behind in this glorious movement
of true temperance (temperance in all lawful things). Alcohol is
unlawful, being foreign and destructive to man's physical nature, but
the total abstinence cause is destined also to be the moral salvation
of the world, and the hand-maid and stepping-stone to a religious and
Christian life. And I am happy to say many of our youth are seeing the
advantages and duty of abstinence from intoxicants.




The Vine Industry.


On the other hand, many of our politicians and others are advocating
the advantages of the vine-growing industry for making wine, and have
even dubbed Australia - "John Bull's Vineyard." Yes, vineyard, I will,
if you like, endorse, but "Wine Shop," which they mean, I will ignore.
The grape, rightly used, is one of God's greatest gifts, and I would
like to see every hill-top clothed with the vine, but not quite so, for
we are, or should be, wise enough to know that the hill-tops should
never be denuded of their forest's adornment. Say every hill-side. The
pure "fruit of the vine," the blood of the grape unfermented, or grapes
preserved as raisins, are wonderfully nutritious, and contain many
of the elements of the blood. By fermentation, which is a process of
decay and destruction, nearly the whole of the nutriment is destroyed.
Thus, the gluten and gum are entirely destroyed. Six-sevenths of the
albumen, and four-fifths of the sugar, and most of the others, are also
destroyed. And what do we get _in lieu_. Why, a narcotic, sleeping,
irritant (irritating) poison; irritating, though, should have been
placed first, as it excites the passions to commit every evil deed,
long before the drunken or sleepy stage commences. Now, will any
sane person have the temerity to say that this poison alcohol, the
substance created by the destruction of all these life-sustaining
constituents, is "the good gift of God" as "received from His hand?"
There is hardly a substance on earth but what can be and has, in like
manner, been perverted. Grain of all sorts, fruit, rice, potatoes,
beet-root, starchy substances of all sorts, in fact, anything that
can be converted into saccharine (sugar: the foundation of alcohol),
milk also, and even meat. Were all these good gifts ever intended to
be worse than destroyed? In the United Kingdom, 80,000,000 bushels of
bread food are thus destroyed, when millions of people are in a state
of pauperism or semi-starvation. And all this waste, to do what? To
feed men? No. To give health? No. Strength? No. To warm? No. To allay
this? No. It is of no earthly use whatever. But this it does. Debases
men below the beast, also producing crime, poverty, disease, and moral
degradation. This is the sum total that man reaps for destroying the
bountiful fruits of the Creator.

Is it then a wise policy on the part of a paternal Government to unduly
encourage the manufacture of wine in bonuses and viticultural colleges?
Is it patriotic? Is it philanthropic? Is it Christian! With a climate
that can produce wine by natural fermentation up to 34 per cent. (this
is disputed by experts in Europe) of alcoholic strength, two-thirds the
strength of brandy, and a very large quantity is being distilled into
brandy, how can we expect a sober people?

It may appear to some that I have dwelt unreasonably long upon this
question, but feeling strongly, I must write strongly.

Having, therefore, pointed out to the best of my ability what I
consider the greatest drawback to the advancement of this fair colony,
viz., the wasteful expenditure of 6,000,000 of money annually for
Victoria alone, I will return to consider at greater length the object
for which this sketch was mainly written.




The Settlement of the Lands.


Husbandry is the source of all true wealth, and the back-bone of
every country. I regret to say the farming interest in Victoria has
been heavily handicapped by the protective duties, to sustain the
interests of the manufacturers and importers. The crisis came upon the
farmers first, as soon as they had to compete in the world's market,
and it will come upon the manufacturers just in the same way, when
they have over-produced for the home market. It is just now upon the
turning point. Can they compete with the world with men's present
wages, and eight hours' labor? I very much doubt it. If not, what will
they do with their surplus goods. Farmers' sons have had to rush the
cities for employment, and there is a vast population just growing
into manhood - sons of artisans, which our football matches testify.
Can these be absorbed into the various trades? I don't like taking a
gloomy view of things, but I think the subject should have very serious
thought. It is very easy to boast about the eight hours' movement, and
wages to be fixed, and "strikes" ordered by a Trades' Hall Council.
But will they provide an outlet for the working man's commodities at
colonial prices? But to return to the land. In the first place, I may
say as regards Victoria, the open selection of Crown land has ceased.
Even the grazing blocks, under the new Act, 1884, which nearly covers
all the inferior or waste land, I think are all pretty well taken up,
and the only hope now is the breaking up or sub-division of the large
estates, and they comprise, luckily, the very finest runs of land, on
100 acres of which, a family could live better than on 320 of ordinary
land. Of course, to get this good land requires some capital, but the
return lies surely in the soil, and it only requires labor - the poor
man's capital - with strict economy, to recover the first expenditure.
The breaking up of these large estates will be the making of Victoria.
Or the cutting up into tenant blocks would be even better for the
owners, and better for men of limited means. A ten years' lease on
prime land should make him independent. I don't mean make his fortune,
but should place him in a position to go ahead. This is the only land
that will bear a dense population, or bear intense cultivation, and
is, in fact, the only hope for the colony. This want of land for the
rising generation is the cause of so many of our young men - farmers'
sons - seeking employment in Melbourne, their parents' holdings not
being sufficient to maintain the whole of the family, and many are
marrying, and desire to have homes of their own. I trust the large
owners of estates are patriotic, if not philanthropic enough to see
the necessity of this, which is also a duty to God and man, for it
is pitiable to see men willing to go upon the land, and many with
sufficient means, looking about in vain. Without these are cultivated,
how can the population increase as it should? And how can work be found
for the artisans in the cities? These and the farmers must go hand in
hand, and prosper together; for if the 130,000 farmers have only a
surplus of an average of £10 each yearly, it throws into their hands
£1,300,000 - no insignificant sum. To a small extent, there has been a
disposition to sub-divide. I trust they will increase a hundred-fold.

I think it will be seen from what I have written, that for "New Chums,"
at least in Victoria, there is not much chance for settling on the
land, without they possess a few hundreds in cash. Therefore they
must be satisfied with patient, frugal labor for a few years, to save
sufficient capital. But there are the other colonies of Australia - New
South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, and Western Australia, where
they have liberal land laws. Splendid countries, inviting capital and
labor, and upon which, in the various latitudes, the products of the
whole world can be grown to the greatest perfection, and the area
so vast, that the population of another Europe could be set down;
but a very great portion of it, from its position, climate, etc., is
not very inviting, or hardly suitable for needy emigrants. There is,
though, a vast outlet for the profitable investment of capital in those
outlying districts. Capital and labor must go hand in hand like twin
brothers. Then the waste places of the earth would soon "blossom as
the rose," and we should soon find the over-stocked hives of the old
lands relieved of the burden of humanity, for as yet it is idle to
talk of the "over-population of the world;" why, we know in fact that
as yet it is not half populated, not only Australia. Look at the vast
country of South America, watered by that mighty river the Amazon, also
the Argentine Republic. Then the great north-west of Canada, also the
regions of the Congo and Central Africa, and many other considerable
and desirable places. Yes, there is room enough yet in the ample and
bountiful bosom of "Mother Earth," and she is inviting, with open arms,
her children to partake of her bounties. We hear a great deal about
"over-population" and "over-production." Why is it? Simply because the
great masses of the working bees are not placed in a position to gather
the world's honey, and thus to become customers for the products of
the manufacturing countries. _The cry should be - Put the people on the
lands, at whatever cost!_ They will return interest an hundred-fold.




Irrigation.


At the present time the subject of irrigation is absorbing the
attention of the Government and the community in general. The
appointment of the Royal Commission on Water Supply was a grand idea,
and for which the colony should be grateful, and particularly to the
president, the Honourable Alfred Deakin, M.P., for his arduous and
indefatigable labor to promote a general interest in the subject. The
visit also of the Commission to America, and the report of the same,
are highly interesting and useful, and which led to the establishment
of Messrs Chaffey Bros.' Irrigation Colony at Mildura. This will do
immense good. It will be an open book, giving ocular and practical
demonstration of the advantages of water and intense cultivation, but
above all, to show how capital can be advantageously invested for
the mutual and common good, and I think it will lead to many such in
Victoria, and also extend right across the continent to the Gulf of
Carpentaria, and thus make a profitable outlet for English capital, and
at the same time relieve the old lands of the plethora of humanity.
What can be done in arid countries without water? What would India,
Egypt, Italy, &c., be without irrigation? In fact, it is the life of
all nature. We can hardly estimate its value. It is the only solvent
and menstruum to set free the constituents of the soil. Intense culture
with water requires intense labor and intense manuring. It will also
require cheap labor and cheap mechanical appliances. At present our
machinery is nearly double the price it is in America. How then can we
compete with the world without we start fairly? A 50-acre irrigated
farm will suffice to keep a family comfortably, as crops are not only
doubled, but you can double crop. That is, take at least two crops,
one grain and the other roots or fodder plants, in one season, and you
can cut fodder crops three or four times, and lucerne five or six. I
have experimented for some years, and I have come to the conclusion
that "soakage" is the best; that is, run the water in the furrows
between the lands or beds, not too wide, so that the water, by
capillary attraction, may soak quite through. There is a very great
deal to learn. The right time to put the water on, and the time to
leave off, otherwise it will do more harm than good. For fruit, also,
you must not keep watering too long, or the fruit will never mature
properly, and be of inferior flavor and quality, and the young wood
will not mature for the next year's crop. Independent of fruit growing,
which is so much advocated just now, I think irrigation is of as much
advantage to the general farmer, not so much for corn growing, as it
is difficult to catch the right time, and an excess is pretty sure to
create mildew and rust; but for roots and fodder crops, and "catching
crops" after harvests, for the dairy, etc., too much cannot be said in
favor of irrigation. Every stream, however small, running through a
dry country, should be utilised, if not, it is so much wealth running
to waste, and its use to the dairy industry, which has advanced with
such strides during the last few years, is not half enough appreciated.
The Government has aided this industry most liberally, and it has been
the making of thousands of families, but improved methods of growing
crops by irrigation and better feeding, and an improved breed of dairy
cattle, would quite double the produce. I think I have said enough as
to the advantages and difficulties of irrigation, difficulties which
experience will overcome.

As this "Life's Sketch" was written mainly to induce the settlement of
the people on the land, my concluding division will be an endeavour to
propound.




A Scheme of Settlement.


It appears strange that the wealth of Great Britain has not gone in
this direction long ago for the benefit of her own sons. "Charity
should begin at home." The poverty and the drudgery of the masses
is appalling in England, and this by the side of enormous wealth. A
burden of poverty and a burden of wealth. Strange anomaly! Not only
the produce market, but the money market as well, is regulated by
Great Britain. The hands and eyes of the whole world are lifted up to
her! What would be the state of most countries without the markets and
wealth of England? Look at the millions wasted in worthless Turkey.
Then we see the millions that have been spent in India and Egypt.
Blessing indeed, no doubt, to those countries. Then it appears so
passing strange that a portion of this British wealth has not been
diverted more to the lands of her colonies _in a systematic way_, and
there can be no safer investment. N.B. - The Chaffey Brothers' scheme.

We find, however, that the British Government are commencing action in
this direction, at least at home, in establishing peasant proprietary,
and millions of money is to be appropriated to this purpose in
purchasing land, &c. This is a step in the right direction, and I
trust this sort of thing will be extended to the colonies, where, as I
said before, there is room for another Europe. Britain's sons and our
colonies should be thought of first. It would not be charity. Charity
in this sense is rather an unchristian term; the benefits would be
reciprocal. When her sons are wanted for the defence of the Empire,
they are willing to lay down their lives by thousands, and millions
upon millions of money, for the purpose of war, is forthcoming. Is it,
then, too much to ask that a few millions be spent in the cause of
peace, to enable them to do battle with rugged nature?

As regards the extension of settlements in Victoria, I think I have
hinted enough respecting the necessity of sub-division and irrigation.
I think after a few years, when the advantages of irrigation have
been proved, many will be glad to sub-divide their present holdings
of 320 acres, and confine themselves to half the quantity, especially
if the anticipations of the fruit industry are realised, and I have
considerable faith in them, but not such glowing results as are held
out; only one-half of the profits stated would suffice. One thing we
know: this generation appears to have made the discovery that man is
more of a fruit and vegetable eater than was before supposed, so that
therein a good deal of our hope lies. By the partaking of fruit, we
require much less drink, as a pound of most fruits contain more than
three-quarters of a pound of water; we may say three-quarters of a pint
to one pound, so that they are eminently meat and drink. As to the
other vast portions of Australia, I can see no hope for settlement,
particularly in the arid districts, without either the Governments
at home or in the colonies, or syndicates, take the matter up. With
respect to individual settlements in these parts, we cannot compare it
with North America; the conditions are so very different, there is such
a very small portion of Australia in the temperate zone, the climate
of which is so suitable for European constitutions, whereas, in North
America and Canada, there is an enormous territory congenial for the
products and people of temperate climates. In Australia, wheat appears
to fail north of 30deg., at least, it does not pay to grow it without
it is on table-land, such as part of New England district in New
South Wales. It is strange that as yet that great colony, four times
as large as Victoria, does not grow near corn enough to feed her own
people, and Victoria has already exported this year, 1891, millions of
bushels. Well, as regards that, Victoria cannot boast, and it is quite
as strange that they cannot, or do not grow half meat enough for the
insignificant population. The facilities and inducements for settlement
in America are grand. Many a sturdy man has "gone west" into the wild
woods, and made a home with nothing more than his axe, and a bag of
seeds, living well in the meantime upon the indigenous products of that
splendid country, which are abundant. Wild animals, large and small,
birds, fish, native fruits and nuts, and sugar from the maple tree, &c.
Truly, that was a rich land! But nothing of this sort can be attempted
in Australia.

If I were to draw up a plan of settlement, basing the costs according
to my own personal experience, but depending upon a company for the
capital to start with, I would advise, after the company had agreed
with the Government for the purchase of the land, and the same was
surveyed in blocks of 200 acres each, to settle down 200 families,
which would amount to 40,000 acres, and a reserved right for 40,000
more at a somewhat higher figure. The cost to place each family of
say five individuals, would be about £200 each family; that is, to
pay passage, supply them with food, implements, stock, seeds, &c.,
for the first year, until some produce came to hand. Residences, of
course, would be rough, and should be erected by themselves. Thus
far the support and provision of the 200 families for one year would
be £40,000, or for 1600 families - 8000 souls - £500,000. Say, for
illustration, the company got the land for two shillings per acre,
and gave each family a lease for 10 years at two shillings an acre
per annum, the payment to be for purchase money, so that at the end
of 10 years it would be his own, having paid the company £1 per acre.
The £200 also, advanced in the first instance, to be paid off by
instalments with 6 per cent. interest per annum added, so that at the
end of ten years or a little more, each family should be possessed
of their own freehold, and a considerable increase of stock, etc.


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Online LibraryF. Edward (Frederick Edward) HulmeA Settler's 35 Years' Experience in Victoria, Australia → online text (page 3 of 4)