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STATE OF THE LUNATIC ASYLUM.
their duties, by the visiting magistrates or colonially-appointed physician. Lunatics are sufficiently neglected and abused even to this hour in England, but it is only in a colony that a sort of turnkey for lunatics would presume to set the dignity of his office against both magistrates and medical men.
The visiting magistrate “had occasion to refer to the governor for definite instructions in consequence of the superintendent considering that he was interfering.” “My authority is repudiated by Mr. Digby; he says I have no right to interfere ; although he gives me every information in his power, he does so in courtesy, protesting against any right to interfere."
The committee found “no books or registers such as ought to be kept in a public establishment, no record of cases, no written statement of the appearance of any patient at the time of his admission, or of the progress of the disease, or of the treatment, medical and moral.”
“ The medical officer is not in his proper position.” According to evidence, “ He gets all his information from me (the keeper) as to the particulars of the case and form of insanity.” The same witness stated, that in going round with the doctor, if he suggests any alteration in their moral treatment, and it appears to him (the keeper) an improvement, he acts upon it; but that if he does not approve of it he does not yield to him. For instance, he might recommend that restraint should be taken off a patient, but if, from a better knowledge of the party, he might not deem it advisable, he should refuse to do so.
We quote this passage because it so perfectly illustrates the manner in which colonists and colonial interests are treated.
It is quite evident that the merits of this worthy officer of the order of the strait jacket were not duly acknowledged. He ought to have been a colonial governor or a colonial secretary. Colonists are treated like the Tarban Creek lunatics : they do not know what is good for them-neither do their doctors, their representatives. The governor is the man; he is responsible to no one; and, although the doctor stated the Legislative Council may recommend removing restraint, he knows better.
With these examples we leave the subject of official responsibility, and return to the three great questions which agitated the colony during the whole administration of Sir George Gipps, and which still continue to excite the interest and apprehension of all who look ahead
“ The Land,” and “Emigration,” and “ Taxation without Representation.”
The Land Question. In August, 1838, Lord Glenelg, who had become infected with the Wakefield theory, instructed Sir George Gipps to substitute 12s. for 5s. as the upset price of ordinary land, observing, “If you should observe that the extension of the population should still proceed with a rapidity beyond what is desirable, and that the want of labour still continues to be seriously felt, you will take measures for checking the sale of land even at 12s.”
It is thus evident that at this time the Colonial Office believed that dispersion might be checked and labour cheapened by putting a high price on land,-a fallacy which has long since been exploded.
Between 1838 and 1842 Sir George Gipps experimented by repeatedly raising and lowering the price of land. In 1840 and 1841, so far from the increased price of land having checked, it had stimulated dispersion, while labour was alternately dearer than ever, and unemployed.
It was under these circumstances that an effort was made to prop up the insolvent colony of South Australia, by passing, in 1841, an imperial act which fixed the minimum price of land in the Australian colonies at £l an acre.
At the period that the elective Legislative Council commenced its labours in 1843, the dissatisfaction of the colonists with the fixed minimum price of £l an acre had become universal.
The wealthy parties who had expected their free grants, and their purchases at 5s. an acre, to be augmented in value by the increased price, were disappointed; the speculators who, following the example of the South Australians, had purchased large lots in the hope of realizing large profits, by laying out proper towns and villages, were either insolvent or encumbered with tracts of useless waste land, unsaleable and unprofitable. The class of small settlers were deeply discontented with the impediments thrown in the way of purchasing small farms in good agricultural districts; while the great pastoral proprietors, who were also most of them landowners in the settled districts, were worried—no other word will express the policy of Sir George Gippsby regulations and restrictions imposed, repealed, and reimposed in a most arbitrary manner, with the view of compelling the purchase of occupation at the ruinous price of £1 an acre.
In the insolvent crisis which followed the land mania of 1837–8–9, live stock was absolutely valueless ; cattle were allowed to rove wild unnumbered on the hills, and sheep which had cost 30s. a piece were
COMMITTEES ON THE LAND SYSTEM.
unsaleable at 1s. 6d. ; when it occurred to an ingenious gentleman that an animal whom it would not pay to watch and feed, and whose flesh was worth nothing, might be worth something as tallow. He tried the experiment, and, after some difficulties of a mechanical nature had been overcome, he succeeded in establishing a minimum value on live stock according to the market price of tallow. Flocks and herds became at the worst “good to boil” for so much; and this is now one of the staple trades of the colony.
The boiling-down process suggested a caricature on the struggle between the rebellious squatters, who would not buy land, and the Wakefieldite governor, who was determined that they should. Sir George Gipps, with some of his principal abettors, was represented superintending the operation of a huge cauldron, in which bearded squatters were floating like shrimps, with a huge ladle inscribed “ £1 an Acre:” he scoops out a few wretches, and observes, “ After all they won't concentrate !"*
In the same year that the new council met, Lord Stanley's despatch accompanying the act of Parliament which gave legislative fixity to the land system, which had previously rested on orders in council, arrived in the colony, and damped the expectations of those who had hoped the failure of this panacea in promoting concentration, regulating wages, and encouraging cultivation, would induce the home government to consult a little more the wishes and interests of actual colonists. Land sales had ceased, the fund for emigration purposes was exhausted, and the pastoral interest found their fortunes already seriously injured by the depreciation of their stock, and threatened with ruin by the personal hostility of a governor aided by irresponsible advisers.
Under these circumstances, the first of four committees of the Legislative Council held its sittings, examined witnesses, and made its report. In 1843, 1844, 1845, 1847, and 1848, committees have investigated and reported always in the same sense, always with an increasing volume of evidence against this vain attempt to regulate wages, protect capital, and force concentration.
The committee of 1843 on “ the crown land sales” examined, amongst others, Sir Thomas Mitchell, the celebrated Australian explorer, and engineer of the Bathurst road over Mount Victoria, one of the M'Arthurs, and several landed and pastoral proprietors. They reported that “the act of Parliament under their consideration cannot but be injurious in its operation—that it is calculated to prevent emigration (of small capitalists), to withdraw capital, and to prevent the permanent occupancy of the soil.”
* In the despatches of all the Colonial Secretaries, from Lord Glenelg to Earl Grey, we find instructions which show that they were under the delusion that pastoral dispersion could be restrained by a high price of land.
In 1844 a “select committee on grievances connected with land in the colony” examined twenty-six witnesses, and received answers to a printed circular of questions from one hundred and twenty-two justices of the peace.
The attention of the committee was directed, among other subjects, to the minimum price of land, and to the attempts to harass the squatter, not being a purchaser of land, by rendering his tenure of crown lands as uncertain and onerous as possible.
All the witnesses who were asked the question (except Mr. Deas Thompson, the Colonial Secretary, who declined, on the ground of his official character, to give an answer), and all the replies to the circulars, except three, expressed decided opinions against the measure which raised the minimum price of crown land from 5s. to £l; all justly taking it for granted that at £l an acre the purchase of pastoral lands was impossible, claimed fixity of tenure by lease, and right of preemption for the squatter. The latter was the grand point with the squatters ; that gained, their interest in the land question, except in promoting sales to create an emigration fund, ceased.
The opinions of the three dissentients from the report of the committee exhibit very exactly the feelings of the small class, resident chiefly in Port Phillip and South Australia, who advocate the high price of land. These three gentlemen are
John Fitzgerald Leslie Foster, of Leslie Park, Melbourne;
John Moore Airey, of Geelong. Mr. Foster says very candidly, “I look on the price of one pound as not too much for agricultural land, and as a prohibition on the purchase of mere pastoral land. Being both a landholder and a settler, I would, in both characters, regret to see any reduction in the price, as it would not only reduce the value of my (purchased) land, but, by rendering it easier for others to purchase my (rented) runs, would diminish the permanent interest I now hold in them.”
Mr. Moore thought "the country destined, from its physical character, to become an aristocratic one;" that “the class of emigrants really beneficial to the country, English country gentlemen with some property, but with large families and limited means, would not be deterred by £l an acre; that a class of small but independent farmers will never be
DEMANDS OF THE SQUATTERS.
generally adapted to the country ; that it will eventually fall into the hands of a landed aristocracy, who, possessing the frontages to water convenient to the residence of tenants, will possess capital sufficient to guard them against the vicissitudes of the seasons, as well as means to cultivate the interior to advantage."
Mr. Peter M Arthur (no relation to the M'Arthur of Camden) “arrived in the colony in 1834, specially introduced to the favour and protection of the governor by the Secretary of State.” He recommends that “ the governor should have the power to grant twelve thousand eight hundred acres to respectable parties of station and education and capital, and of habits worthy of being imitated by the humbler class ;" one thousand acres to be purchased at £l an acre, payable by instalments in ten years; the remaining eleven thousand eight hundred to be held on a perpetual quit rent of £12 per annum.
These three gentlemen evidently considered that imperial and colonial interests were bound up in the encouragement of their class, in the protection of their interests, and the keeping down of aspiring yeomanry.
The report of this committee on crown-land grievances was the foundation of a fierce agitation on the part of the pastoral interests for the suppression of the obnoxious regulations as to the pastoral occupations, and for fixity of tenure. In this agitation, which was also directed against the £l acre minimum, the whole colony joined. Public meetings were held in every part of New South Wales ; petitions and memorials addressed to the home government were signed, sent to England, and placed in the hands of political men of influence; and influential organs of the English press were enlisted in defence of the great pastoral interest.
The governor stood firm ; determined to make war on the squatters, determined to maintain the obnoxious £l an acre, and to carry out the spirit of the act which imposed it, by throwing, as he was instructed, all possible obstacles in the way of men of small capital investing their savings in land; and he was supported not only by the British Colonial Office, but by the consciousness that, if the squatters succeeded in their demands, millions of acres, including land admirably adapted for settlements and agriculture, would be handed over to them for ever at a nominal rent.
But the colonial public, seeing the injustice of endeavouring to harass the squatters to their ruin by forcing them to purchase their holdings, lent them a moral support which enabled them, after some years' battling, to obtain a virtual fixity of tenure, a result similar to the copartnership of the giant and the dwarf in Goldsmith's story. The