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bleach in three or four generations ? I have many
questions to put, but two Delphic voyages can be made
in shorter time than it will take to satisfy my
scruples. Do you grow your own hemp ? What is
your staple trade ? exclusive of the national pro-
fession, I mean. Your locksmiths, I take it, are some
of your great capitalists."

Now observe the effect of this state of opinion on
colonization. In early times the best families in
England did not disdain to bear a part in colonizing
enterprises. Sir Humphry Gilbert, Sir Walter Raleigh,
Lord Baltimore, William Penn a courtier as well as
a Quaker were all identified with the cause of coloni-
zation. Cromwell, Hampden, Pym, Vane, were eager
to try their fortunes in the colonies.* The watchword

* " Settled history has made another mistake in leading us to sup-
pose that the Puritan emigrants belonged chiefly, like the Cameronians
in Scotland, to the humbler classes at home: most of the leaders, on


of the most enterprising spirits in those days was,
"Westward Ho!" In the present day colonization
has again acquired something of its ancient prestige ;
and if our aristocracy do not now emigrate with the
same eagerness as in the Elizabethan and Carolan
times, our middle classes at least the sons of our
landed gentry, our trading and professional classes-
show no reluctance to embrace a colonial career. But
in the half century which followed the American war
of independence, respectability in every form shrank
from colonization as from assured disgrace. Was it
strange ? The founders of our colonies during this
period were no longer the Raleighs, and Baltimores,
and Pilgrim Fathers of the early times, nor yet the
Wakefields and Torrenses, and Godleys of a later
day, but escaped convicts, expirees, and ticket-of-leave
men, the reckless and profligate in every rank of life,
or paupers " shovelled out " on the colonies by the
overburthened parishes of England.

Such was the depth of degradation to which the
practice of colonization had sunk in this, the second,
certainly the most inglorious period of its history. It
may be briefly characterized as the period of convict
settlement, pauper emigration, and Colonial Office

The American war of independence served to mark
for us the termination of the first period of our colonial
history. That which I shall take as our next land-
mark is an event as obscure as the former is famous ;

the contrary, were of the gentry class, being persons of old family, the
best education, and considerable property." The Art of Colonization,
p. 1 60.


and yet, unconspicuous as it is, it is no less than the
other the forerunner of momentous changes in our
colonial history. This event is the formation of the
Colonization Society. It was established in 1830, "an
unknown and feeble body," says Mr. Wakefield,
" composed chiefly of very young men, some of whose
names, however, have long ceased to be obscure, while
others are among the most celebrated of the day."
The Society, as such, had indeed a brief existence ;
but its principles took root ; its members long con-
tinued to act together ; and recruits of the highest
promise quickly joined them. Foremost among such
recruits was one whose name in this place naturally
recurs to us ; but in no place could the name of
Whately be omitted from the story of colonial reform
without ignoring one of its most important pages. In
1832 appeared his "Thoughts on Secondary Punish-
ments," a work in which, with that vigorous logic and
homely satire in which he was so great a master, he
exposed and denounced going at once to the root of
colonial evils the convict system. " It was a wicked
and unblessed thing," he used to say, adopting the
language of Bacon, " to take the scum of people and
wicked and condemned men to be the people with
whom you plant." This was to plant the land with
" nettle-seed." The defenders of transportation pleaded
that it conferred a double benefit at once a relief to
the mother country and a boon to the colony. Whately
replied that it was doubly cursed, demoralizing mother
country and colony together the former by accustom-
ing her to meet temporary exigencies by a recourse to
radically vicious expedients expedients which, open-


ing to criminals an almost assured road to prosperity,
involve a permanent encouragement to crime ; and the
latter, by corrupting its national life at the source. In
the wide range of that great man's intellectual activity
there is surely no topic on which his remarkable powers
have been exerted with more signal success, or been
productive of greater or more lasting utility.

Colonization had, as I have said, at this time reached
the nadir of its decline. The colonial reformers pro-
posed to rescue it from its degradation, and re-establish
it in the grandeur of its true proportions before the
English people. Since the subject had last seriously
attracted the attention of political thinkers, Political
Economy had taken rank among the sciences. The
most eminent of those who took part in the new-
movement Wakefield, Torrens, Charles Duller, Sir
William Molesworth, Whately had mastered the
knowledge, and approached the subject of coloniza-
tion with all the advantage which this acquisition
conferred. For the first time something like a sound
and complete theory of colonization was put forth-
sound at least, I do not hesitate to say, in its essen-
tials. The theory has now little more than an historic
value : still the large space which it for many years
filled in colonial politics, and the great practical results
which have flowed from it, will perhaps justify an
attempt to state briefly its leading principles.

The fundamental cause and the justification of
colonization are to be found in the laws of popu-
lation and capital. In old countries population and
capital tend to become redundant. Of this there is
abounding proof. The redundancy of capital in old


countries is evinced by many obvious circumstances
for example, by the difficulty of employing it
advantageously, by the low rate of profit which it
brings, by its constant exportation for investment
to other lands. The redundancy of population is
even a more patent fact. Which of us has not
painful experience that "all the gates are thronged
with suitors," that "all the markets overflow"? As
to the facts, therefore, there can be no doubt. The
cause has been traced by Political Economy to the
limited quantity and capacity of that agent from
which ultimately the elements of subsistence and
the materials of wealth are drawn the land of the
country. Now, in new countries the -conditions of pro-
duction are exactly reversed. Fertile land exists there
in abundance, while capital and labour are scarce.
Seen in this light, the true remedy for our evils at once
appears. It is, that what is in excess in each should
be brought to supplement what is deficient in each ;
in a word that we should colonize. " When I ask
you," said Charles Duller, in that great speech which
gave an earnest of future statesmanship which the
gifted orator was never destined to fulfil, " when I
ask you to colonize, what do f ask you to do, but
to carry the superfluity of one part of our country to
repair the deficiency of the other to cultivate the
desert by applying to it the means that lie idle at
home ; in one simple word, to convey the plough to
the field, the workman to his work, the hungry to
his food."

But at this point I fancy I hear the familiar ring
of a well-known objection : What ! encourage the


bone and sinew and industrial enterprise and accumu-
lated wealth of the country to leave it ! Well, I will
meet the objection frankly. I would by all means
encourage the bone and sinew and industrial enter-
prise and accumulated wealth of old countries to
leave them for the purpose of colonization ; and I
would do so in order to increase in those very coun-
tries, bone and sinew and industrial enterprise and
accumulated wealth. If 'you think this paradoxical,*
I will ask you to consider a familiar case. The
United States are colonies of England, founded by
the exportation thither, some two centuries ago, of
those elements of material prosperity which I have
named. Do you think that England is now the
poorer for that exportation ? Suppose this argument
against exporting bone and sinew had prevailed in the
seventeenth century, and that the British American
Colonies had never been planted, do you think that
the England of our day would support, in conse-
quence, a larger population in greater affluence ? It
is surely unnecessary to remind you that the colonies
of England I mean the countries planted and
peopled by England, whether now politically con-
nected with her or not are as necessary to the sup-
port of her people as the soil on which they tread.
It is an obvious fact that England, from her own

* The paradox, still so mysterious to many people, was propounded
and solved by Franklin a century ago. " There are supposed," he said,
"to be now upwards of one million souls in North America ; . . . and
yet, perhaps there is not one the fewer in Britain, but rather the more ; on
account," he adds, "of the employment the colonies afford to manu-
facturers at home;" on account, we should now prefer to say, of the
cheapened subsistence with which they supply them.


soil, is physically incapable of giving subsistence to the
human beings who now cover her surface ; and that if
she has been rendered capable of supporting her pre-
sent immense population, and supporting them in
such comfort as they enjoy, this is due principally to
the fact that she has for centuries been a colonizing
country. She has sent abroad her sturdy and enter-
prising sons to countries abounding in all that she
has needed ; and the descendants of those emi-
grants are now at once the most constant customers
for her products, and the surest caterers for her
wants. She has parted with her bone and muscle
and industrial enterprise and accumulated wealth,
and the result is, she has multiplied indefinitely all
these elements of her greatness. Colonization thus
confers a double benefit : it relieves the old country
from the pressure of its superabundant population,
and gives a field for its unemployed capital ; while,
at the same time, by opening up new lands and
placing their resources at her disposal, it widens inde-
finitely the limits which restrain her future growth.

Well, this point having been made good a basis
for their activity having been found in the nature of
the case the colonial reformers had next to deal
with the practical question, How is colonization to be
carried on ? By what means are men and capital to
be transferred from one end of the globe to the other
men, that is, of the right quality, in the right pro-
portions, keeping in view always the great ultimate
end the founding of a new nation ? The solution
of this problem propounded by the reformers was as
follows : First, they maintained that the lands of a

P. E. D


new colony, instead of being granted away gratuitously
with lavish profusion, as had been the almost universal
practice of the English governments up to that time,
should be sold, and sold at a substantial and a uniform
price.* Secondly, they insisted that the proceeds of
the land sales should be employed as an emigration
fund to assist the poorer classes in emigrating.
Thirdly, they urged that this assistance should be
given with discrimination ; that is to say, that the emi-
grants should be selected the conditions of age, sex,
health, respectability, &c., being taken account of with
a view to the needs of new colonies. And, fourthly,
they contended for the principle of colonial self-
government. Thus, to recapitulate the sale of wild
land at a uniform price, the application of the pro-
ceeds to assist emigration, the selection of the
emigrants, and self-government for the colonies
these may be taken as the cardinal points in the re-
formers' charter. They did not, indeed, comprise the
whole programme of the reformers at least of the
more sanguine of the group, in whose fervid imagina-
tions the art of colonization grew rapidly into a
wonderfully elaborate and complete system. For
these visionaries as I think I may now venture to
call them the ideal of an English colony was Eng-
land herself, in little, transferred to the other side
of the globe an epitome, perfect in all its parts, of
the society from which it issued England, with its

* The reader who desires to inform himself on the doctrine, once so
warmly debated, of a " sufficient price " for colonial land, is referred to

akefield's " Art of Colonization," Letters xlvii. Hi. ; and, on the other
hand, to Merivale's " Colonization and the Colonies," Lectures xiv. xvi. ;
also to Mill's " Principles of Political Economy," book i. chap. viii.


capitalists and labourers, its hierarchy of ranks, its
hereditary aristocracy, its landed gentry, and, of
course, its Established Church * transferred com-
plete, as by the enchanter's stroke, to the pastoral
wilds of Australia ! The idea was a taking, perhaps
a noble one ; unfortunately it has not proved prac-
tical. The progeny is, in fact, turning out something
very different from the parent's image. In place
of feudal subordination there is democracy ; in
place of a high electoral qualification, manhood suf-
frage ; in place of primogeniture, equal division of
property ; in place of State churches, voluntary reli-
gious associations. In fact, the ducklings are rapidly
taking the water ; but if they are, it is scarcely, me-
thinks, for us to act the idle part of the nursing hen
moralizing from the brink.t

* This was, I believe, the original idea, which however in the end
developed into something more reasonable as well as more liberal
" that of established churches." " As a colonizing body," says Mr.
Wakefield, "composed, like the legislature, of people differing in creed,
we determined to assist all denominations of settlers alike, with respect
to religious provisions. We have assisted Roman Catholics according
to their numbers, and the Church of Scotland on the same principle."
He adds the following creditable anecdote. " Among the first emigrants
to New Zealand were some Jews, who asked us, ' with bated breath and
whispering humbleness,' if a priest authorized to kill animals for meat
according to Jewish custom, could have accommodation in the ships.
We treated the inquiry as a request, and granted it with alacrity, taking
care besides that every arrangement should be made to satisfy their
religious scruples. The Jews of England have since done the New
Zealand Company's settlements more than one service." Art of Coloni-
zation, pp. 56, 57.

t "And even supposing this aristocratic reverie capable of being
accomplished, what interest have the English people in its accomplish-
ment ? Why should they desire to plant among the communities of
the New World a hostile outpost of feudalism and privilege, the source
of division, jealousy, and war ? What reason have they to fear the
sight of great commonwealths based on free reverence for equal laws

D 2


But leaving these refinements of political specula-
tion, respecting which opinions will naturally differ,
the four positions which I have stated furnished at
least a sound basis for practical work. Sustained
as these positions have since been by fuller dis-
cussion, as well as by the severer test of actual
experiment, they may now be taken as the admitted
and approved groundwork of the colonizing art*

and prospering without lords or dependants ? Why should they look with
jealous malignity on the mighty development of the Anglo-Saxon race,
emancipated from Norman bonds, over a continent which its energy and
patience have made its own ? Why should they desire to thwart the
manifest designs of Providence, which has willed that a new order of
things should commence with the peopling of the New World ? . . . .

" By the issue of their enterprise, victorious though chequered, victorious

though now wrapped in storm, man has undoubtedly been taught that he

may not only exist, but prosper, without many things which it would be

heresy and treason to think unnecessary to his existence here. It is a

change, and a great change ; one to be regarded neither with childish

exultation nor with childish fear, but with manly reverence and solicitude,

as the opening of a new page in the book of Providence, full of mighty

import to mankind. But what, in the course of time, has not changed,

except that essence of religion and morality for which all the rest was

made ? The grandest forms of history have waxed old and passed away.

The English aristocracy has been grand and beneficent in its hour, but

why should it think that it is the expiring effort of creative power, and the

last birth of time ? We bear, and may long bear, from motives higher

perhaps than the public good, the endless decrepitude of feudalism here ;

but why are we bound, or how can we hope, to propagate it in a free

world?" The Empire, by GOLDWIN SMITH, pp. 142-145.

* " Let us divest it " [the modern scheme of systematic colonization],
says Mr. Merivale, "of the too exact form in which it has been presented
by some of its supporters ; let us dismiss all idea of a precise proportion
between land labour and capital, an exclusive employment of the land
fund on emigration, and of a 'mathematically' sufficient price; let us
consider its principles as confined to the sale of land at as high prices as
can reasonably be obtained, and the strict devotion of the proceeds to
a few essential purposes, among which the supply of labour holds the
principal place ; let us consider it, moreover, as chiefly applicable to
colonies raising large quantities of exportable produce, and perhaps also
to other colonies, so distant from the mother country, that the stream of


The colonial reformers of 1830, I have said, pro-
pounded a theory : they were, however, very far
from being mere theorists : their aims were essen-
tially practical ; and they were eager to proceed from
speculation to action.

Among their first converts was Lord Howick, the
present Earl Grey, who early in 1832, before he had
been a year in office, took the first great step in the
right direction, by promulgating regulations whereby,
in the principal colonies of England, the sale of waste
land was substituted for the irregular practice of gra-
tuitous grants ; and whereby further, in two impor-
tant colonies New South Wales and Van Diemen's
Land the purchase-money thus obtained was directed
to be used as a fund for assisting emigration. This
was the first victory of the reformers ; the second
occurred some four years later. It consisted in the
appointment made while Earl, then Lord John,
Russell held the seals of the Colonial Office of the
Land and Emigration Commissioners, as a machinery
for superintending and generally promoting emi-

These were important achievements ; but the
reformers naturally desired some fairer field for the
trial of their principles than settlements already satu-
rated with the dregs of a convict emigration. They

emigration needs to be artificially directed to them ; let us, I say, subject
the theory to all the qualifications I have suggested, although not all of
them with equal confidence, and we cannot then fail of being struck with
its simplicity, its facility of adaptation, its high practical utility. Never
was there a more remarkable instance of the success of a principle against
all manner of misapprehension against the fear of innovation against
corrupt interests against the inert resistance which all novelty is sure to
encounter." Colonization and the Colonies, pp. 427, 428.


aspired to be themselves the founders of colonies.
The site which they selected for their first experi-
ment was South Australia. In 1836, the Act of Par-
liament was passed by which that model colony *
was founded.

From this point the new principles steadily gained
ground. In 1837, the New Zealand Association, with
Mr., afterwards Sir Francis Baring at its head, was
formed for the purpose of colonizing New Zealand in
conformity with the new doctrines. After a prolonged
controversy with more than one government, it at
length succeeded, in 1846, in obtaining from Parlia-
ment charters for the settlement of Wellington, Nelson,
and New Plymouth. Within a few years Canterbury
and Otago were added to the achievements of the
Association in the same region. Meantime the prin-
ciples of the reformers respecting the disposal of the
public land and the transmission of emigrants, modi-
fied, it is true, to meet the views of successive Colonial
Secretaries, were adopted for all the Australian colo-
nies. Thus rapidly were the fortunes of English

* I say " model" colony ; for, although it is true that the Wakefield
School were far from satisfied with the degree of recognition obtained for
their views in the original constitution, it is beyond question that it
embodied the most important of their characteristic doctrines : on the
whole, too, and notwithstanding the first breakdown, they have no
reason to be dissatisfied with the result of the experiment. " Notwith-
standing," says Mr. Wakefield ("Art of Colonization," p. 50), "this
grievous mistake, and the numerous mistakes into which the Commis-
sioners fell, the plan worked even better than its authors now expected.
A fine colony of people was sent out ; and, for the first time, the disposal
of waste land, and the emigration of shipfuls of labourers to the other
side of the world, was managed with something like system and care."
And see Merivale's " Colonization," &c., New Edition, Lecture xvi. and


colonization retrieved. In 1830, the colonies were
spoken of in leading reviews as " unfit abodes for
any but convicts, paupers, and desperate and needy
persons." Before five years had passed, the best
minds in England had identified themselves with the
cause of colonization ; within twenty years a whole
group of new colonies were founded, which are now
amongst the most interesting and promising which
own allegiance to the British Crown. The Coloni-
zation Society had done its work.*

It had, perhaps, done more than its work more, at
least, than many of those who took part in its early
deliberations had consciously aimed at. Among the
numerous reforms comprised in the programme of the
colonial reformers, self-government for the colonies
occupied a principal place. In this, too, the reformers
have succeeded succeeded beyond their hopes
succeeded, it may yet prove, beyond their wishes.

During that period in which the colonies were ruled
through the Colonial Office that is to say, from 1794
down to quite recent times there was maintained in
many of the colonies a make-believe of self-govern-

* " Like most projects based on theory," says Mr. Merivale, " however
far-sighted and comprehensive, the so-called South Australian, or Wake-
field scheme of colonization took in practice a different course from what
its inventors anticipated, and its results were in many respects curiously
divergent from those with a view to which it was constructed. But it
would be a great error to infer on that account that it was unsuccessful ;
on the contrary', there are in history very few instances to be found in
which a system, devised in the closet by studious men, and put in exe-
cution in a new and distant world, which those men had never seen, has

produced such extensive and beneficial results It is not too

much to say," he adds, " that the success of our Australian colonies is
in a very great measure attributable to their lessons." Colonisation
and the Colonies. New Edition, 1861, p. 470.


merit. The colonies, many of them at least, received
so-called " constitutions." These constitutions, how-
ever, notwithstanding that they in general comprised
a representative assembly, in fact signified extremely
little. The representative assemblies had no sub-
stantial functions. The real powers of government
lay in an Executive Council a council of which the
members, nominated directly or indirectly by the
Colonial Minister, and holding office during his plea-

Online LibraryJohn Elliott CairnesPolitical essays → online text (page 3 of 27)