« ForrigeFortsett »
of the Lowel Factory, in the United States; the girls with their pianoforte, and circulating library, all with their money saved, on which they could retreat to comfortable homes, if the factory stopped to-morrow; while with us every change in the circumstances of a trade, every fluctuation of fashion, involved masses of our people in destitution. Assertions of gene— ral improvement in the condition of the people did not disprove the extent of the misery. He doubted whether there ever before was in this country such a mass of intense physical suffering and moral degradation as was to be found in this metropolis, in the cellars and garrets of Liverpool and Manchester, and in the yet more wretched alleys of Glasgow; and he had very little doubt that there never before prevailed in any portion of our population, vice so habitual and so gross as was there to be found. The general comfort of the great body was increased; but so also was the misery of the most wretched. We witnessed constantly more of the extreme of suffering—we had a positively larger number of the dangerous classes in the country. Even the increased knowledge of the people aggravated their sense of suffering; the popular temper grew more and more dangerous to the interests of property and order; partial knowledge, acting on general ignorance, begot wild visions of political and social changes; and all efforts to improve the condition of the people must begin with bettering their physical condition, and, satisfying the simple but expressive cry: “A fair day's wages for a fair day's work”—but that could only
be done by opening a wider field of employment, and diminishing that terrible competition of capital with capital, and labour with labour, which was the permanent cause of the distress. To that end, Mr. Buller desired the House to inquire into the efficacy of colonization as a remedy for distress —not the remedy ; for he did not come into collision with other economical remedies that had been proposed. To free-trade he proposed colonization as an auxiliary. The advocates of free-trade wished to bring food to the people. He suggested, at the same time, to take the people to the food. They wished to get fresh markets by removing the barriers which now kept us from them throughout the world. He asked the House, in addition, to get fresh markets, by calling them into existence in parts of the world which might be made to teem with valuable customers. Colonization would, perhaps, be slower than free-trade, in the operation of extending the field of employment; but it would be surer, for it was a process entirely depending on this country, and not on the concurrence of others. Within the last two years no less than six hostile tariffs had been passed, more or less narrowing the demand for our manufactures. He said then that in the present day, the restrictive policy of other nations must enter into our consideration as an element, and no unimportant element, of commercial policy; and, though his advice was to set the example of free-trade to other nations, and extend our intercourse with them to the very utmost, still at the same time, to take care to be continually creating and enlarging those markets which were under
the control of no legislation but our own. Show the world, that if the game of restriction was to be played, no country could play it with such effect and such impunity as Great Britain, which, from the outlying portions of her mighty empire, could command the riches of every zone, and every soil, and every sea that the earth contained, and could draw, with unstinted measure, the means of every luxury, and the materials of every manufacture that the combined extent of other realms could supply. This we had done, or could do, by placing our own people in different portions of our own dominions. As a remedy, colonization appeared to be suggested simply by the perception of the evil which was the permanent cause of the distress. Here we had capital that could obtain no profitable employment, — labour equally kept out from employment by the competition of labour sufficient for the existing demand —and an utter inability to find any fresh employment in which that unemployed capital could be turned to account by setting that unemployed labour in motion. In our colonies, on the other hand, we had vast tracts of the most fertile land, wanting only capital and labour to cover them with abundant harvests; and from want of that capital and labour, wasting their productive energies in nourishing weeds, or at best, in giving shelter to beasts. When he asked the House to colonize, what did he asked them to do but to carry the superfluity of part of one country to repair the deficiency of the other—to cultivate the desert, by supplying to it the means that lay idle here; in one simple word, to convey the plough
to the field, the workman to his work, the hungry to his food. The benefit was not confined to the removal of the labourer, and his conveyance to the place where he could raise the food he wanted; in the colony he became a producer, an exporter, and he re-appeared in our own markets as a customer. Imagine in some village a couple of young married men, of whom one had been brought up as a weaver, and the other as a farm-labourer, but both of whom were unable to getwork. Both were in the workhouse, and the spade of the one and the loom of the other were equally idle. For the maintenance of these two men and their families, the parish was probably taxed to the amount of 40l. a-year. The farm-labourer and his family got a passage to Canada. Perhaps the other farm-labourers of the parish were immediatel
able to make a better bargain j. their masters, and get somewhat better wages; but at any rate the parish gained 201. a-year by being relieved from one of the two pauper families. The emigrant got good employment; after providing himself with food in abundance, he found that he had wherewithal to buy him a good coat, instead of the smock frock he used to wear, and to supply his children with decent clothing, instead of letting them run about in rags. He sent home an order for a good quantity of broad cloth, and this order actually set the loom of his fellow pauper to work, and took him or helped to take him out of the workhouse. Thus the emigration of one man relieved the parish of two paupers, and furnished employment not only for one, but for two men. It seemed a paradox to assert, that removing a portion of the population enabled a country to support more inhabitants than it could before. The settlement of a few handsful of men in the United States, now swelled to thirteen or fourteen millions, had in this way created great part of our wealt at home. If the United States had never been settled, and the emigrants had stayed at home, did any one think it possible that the population of the United Kingdom would have been larger by 13,000,000 or 14,000,000 than it now was—in other words, that they should have had and maintained in as good a state as now, 40,000,000 of people within these islands 2 Was there any reason for suposing that they should now have #. an additional means of supporting the addition of the original emigrants : Nay, was it not absolutely certain that, without colonizing the United States, this country would not at this moment have been able to maintain anything like the population which at present found subsistence within the limits of the United Kingdom 2 How large a portion of that population depended on the trade with the United States, which constituted one-sixth of our whole external trade . Without that trade what would have been the size and wealth and population of Manchester, and Liverpool, and Glasgow, and Sheffield, and Leeds, and Birmingham, and Wolverhampton—in fact, of all our great manufacturing districts P What would have been the relative condition of those agricultural districts whose industry was kept in employment by the demands of that manufacturing population ? What that of this metropolis, so
much of the expenditure of which might indirectly be traced to the wealth created by the American trade 2 In fact, what would have been the wealth and population of this country had the United States never been peopled? Had another United States been settled at the same time, another eight millions would have been added to our exports, another Lancashire called into existence. In further illustration, Mr. Buller compared what colonial countries do for our trade with what old countries do; rejecting from the account countries which, like Mexico or the East Indies, are peopled by old races under the dominion of Europeans, not by actual European settlers. He would take two great classes of countries — the first being the whole of the independent nations of Europe, and the second, those which could properly be called colonial countries. He had taken down the population of the different countries of each class which entered into his list, the amount of export of British produce to each, and the amount of that produce which fell to the share of each inhabitant of each country, and he found that the European countries contained altogether a population of 211, 130,000, and consumed an annual import of British goods to the value of about 21,000,000l. ; on the other hand, that the British colonies contained a total population of rathermore than 36,000,000, and the exports to them amounted to rather more than the exports to all the European states, with their population of about six times as many; and the average consumption of each inhabitant of the colonial countries was no less than 12s, a head, while that of the European countries was only 2s, a head. The question occurred, what was the cost of extending these advantages, by bridging over the sea for the transit of the emigrant? He then adverted to the old plan of colonization, the disposal of land by free grants fatal to the working for wages and preventing the direct benefit of emigration to this country; and then he described Mr. Wakefield's system of substituting the sale of waste lands at “a sufficient price,” for the gift, devoting the proceeds to emigration. Even a partial trial of these principles had been so successful, that to the Australian colonies, where the sale of land was commenced in 1832, while the emigration for the eight years previous was only 11,711, in the next ten years it was 104,487; to all colonies during the former period, it was 352,580, an average of 44,072 per annum, in the latter period 661,039, a yearly average of 66,104. . In the nine years commencing from 1833, nearly 2,000,000l. had been realised by the sale of land, of which 1,100,000l. raised in New South Wales alone had conveyed out 52,000 selected emigrants. In the United States, with a low price and large exceptional grants, since 1795, when the sale of lands began, 23,366,434l. sterling had been realized; 14,000,000l in the seven years ending in 1840. Mr. Buller adverted to the expediency of sending out society in a complete form, with its proportion of gentry; formerly the practice in our colonies, discontinued when the establishment of convict colonies threw the discredit of “transportation” on emigrating, but recently revived under the new Vol. LXXXV.
system in the Australian Colonies, while more men of good family had settled in New Zealand in the three years, since the beginning of 1840, than in British North America in the first thirty years of the present century. He therefore advocated no untried experiment, nor did he advocate compulsory emigration ; he deprecated any thing like making emigration an alternative of the workhouse, or even inducing persons to emigrate who did not do so spontaneously. But the time was gone when emigration was regarded as a punishment any more than was the acceptance of a cadetship. The prejudice was gone; and he did imagine that the attempt to appeal to it by the agency of stale nicknames was not likely to be made in our day, had he not been undeceived by some most furious invectives against the gentlemen who signed the city memorials, which were recently delivered at Drury-lane theatre on one of those nights on which the legitimate drama was not performed. He could not imagine that his esteemed friend the Member for Stockport, who was reported on that occasion to have been very successful in representing the character of a bereaved grand-mother, could help on sober reflection feeling some compunction for having condescended to practise on the ignorance of his audience by the use of claptraps so stale, and representations so unfounded, and for going out of his way to bring just the same kind of unjust charges against honest men engaged in an honest cause as he launched so indignantly at others in his own pursuit of a great public cause. He must attribute this deviation from his usual candour to the in
fluence of the unseen genius of the place in which he spoke— (“hear,” and a laugh,”) and suppose that he believed it would be out of keeping in a theatre to appeal to men's passions otherwise than by a fiction. He only desired the further carrying out of principles already recognized, and necessary preliminary inquiry into some points not yet fully settled, such as,' what is a “sufficient price” for land in the several Colonies P’ ‘should the nhole, or only a part of the proceeds of the land sales be appropriated to emigration; ” ‘whether the system could not be applied to Canada, and the Cape of Good Hope; ' and “whether it might not be advisable, for immediate use, to raise a loan on the security of the future sale of lands?' But he left the consideration of those matters to Government; not, however, as a question to be discussed by one particular department as mere matter of detail, or as a mere Colonial question, but as one of general import to the condition of England. He concluded by moving: “That an humble address be presented to her Majesty, praying that she will take into her most gracious consideration the means by which extensive and systematic colonization may be most effectually rendered available for augmenting the resources of her Majesty's empire, giving additional employment to capital and labour, both in the United Kingdom and in the Colonies, and thereby bettering the condition of her people.” Lord Ashley seconded the motion. Mr. Sharman Crawford totally objected to “the transportation of the people;” advocating instead, the restoring to them the actual
possession of land at home by means of small holdings, which had proved very successful in the North of Ireland. There were 15,000,000 acres in the United Kingdom on which to employ the people. He also advocated the repeal of the Corn-laws, and reduction of the sugar duties, reduced expenditure, and reduced taxation. Selecting young persons for emigration was but taking away the life-blood of the country; and when Mr. Buller talked of the emigrant's sending home a surplus, where was he to i. it, when he was expressly made dependent for support on any terms that he could get P Mr. Crawford moved as an amendment, “That the resources derivable from the lands, manufactures, and commerce, of the United Kingdom, if fully brought into action, are adequate to afford the means of giving employment and supplying food to the whole population; and that, therefore, before any measures be adopted for removing to foreign lands any portion of that population, it is the first duty of this House to take into consideration the measures necessary for the better application of these resources to the employment and support of the people.”
Mr. John Fielden seconded the amendment.
Mr. Gally Knight supported Mr. Buller's motion ; backing his arguments with quotations from Colonel Torrens and Mr. Wakefield, to show that an extended scheme of colonization could only be conducted under Government superintendence. Contrary to Mr. Buller's opinion, however, he could see no strong objection to the employment of poor-rates in paying for emigration.