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WHY EMIGRATE-WHO SHOULD EMIGRATE.
some ignorantly assert, but a severe remedy which may be adopted, not without due consideration, for certain severe afflictions. There is only one kind of emigration that flows on steadily and succeeds—that is the emigration of those who emigrate to work with hands or head, or both, because they see positive or comparative beggary before them in their native country. Emigration to Australia affords a fine climate, an unlimited field for hard-handed labour, opportunities for the judicious investment of capital in pastoral pursuits, and change of scene. The climate is an attraction to invalids who cannot afford to live idle in the south of Europe. The change of scene enables those who have lost fortune or character or confidence at home to start again with a fair field if no favour; but it should never be forgotten that poverty, real or comparative, is the great, and ought to be the great, recruiter for emigrant ships.
It is a gross deception to represent to an intending emigrant that there is some other country more pleasant to live in than his own. The soil, the sun, the fruit, the flowers, the horn, the corn, whether it be of Norway or of Naples, are good enough for a native, if he can get enough of them ; but if he cannot, if he finds himself slipping down the hill of fortune, or struggling against some intolerable personal or local association, it is ridiculous for him to be over nice in making a transplantation —he must be content with a balance of advantages. The climate of Northern New Zealand is brilliant and exhilarating, peaches are cheap and delicious in Australia, but sensible people do not emigrate to enjoy bright skies or eat ice-cold peaches. When we dwell upon the genial climate, the fruitful soil, the rich crops, the countless cattle, the mineral wealth in gold, copper, and precious stones of Australia, we cite them not to induce men to emigrate who have snug estates or incomes from the three per cents., or promising openings in professions or trades, but to show what compensations may be expected for the want of convenient shops, morning papers, good roads, gas and water companies, agreeable society, and all the luxuries created in Europe by centuries of progressive civilization. A bush hut is not to be compared to the Euston
Hotel; but to enter the latter a man must have a well-filled purse, while the former is generally open to gentle or simple, with thanks for coming and gossipping the latest news. A man who has fasted and ridden hard for twelve hours enjoys the plainest dinner; a tramp over deep heath-covered moors on a hot August day gives an amazing relish to a cup of cold water; and so a hard landlord, a grinding creditor, a chancery suit, a bankrupt executor, a false sweetheart, or any other real calamity, prepares a colonist for passing through the ordeal, mental or physical, which must be endured before he can be contentedly and successfully rooted in a colonial soil.
Young men of respectable parentage and education, but restless disposition, are now frequently sent to one of the colonies instead of to
The Robinson Crusoes of the nineteenth century tempt the bush instead of the ocean. Some of them would fail whatever they attempted; at any rate, pastoral pursuits are more suitable than the axe or the plough of the backwoods of America.
A farmer would often do better to land in a colony with £50 and four children than to go scrambling on in perpetual fear of the landagent and the tax-gatherer. In Australia the farmer will only have to do what he has been accustomed to do all his life. The scene may be new, the occupation will be the same; the pipe will be there if not the mug of beer; he may have few neighbours, but he will have no poor rates; no market ordinary, but no rent day; not so snug a house the first year, but it will be his own; if his daughters leave their piano behind they will have a better chance of a husband; and, although his sons may lose good shooting and hunting, they can easily be provided with farms.
Then, again, there are tradesmen who, in years of commercial pressure, see ruin advancing upon them, eating up first their capital and then their credit, with scarcely a chance of escape. Men who live in huge shops in leading thoroughfares—obliged to make a great display of plate glass, gas, and goods—obliged to keep up a large staff of assistants and support a numerous family; who find custom falling off and bad debts increasing; stock left on hand as unfashionable, consequently valueless; health failing, children increasing and requiring expenses for education, and yet they can scarcely diminish one important item of expense. Dinners may be cut down, wine and amusements forbidden, the seaside visit, so necessary for the health of a life passed in work and gas light, discontinued, children taken from school, and friendly interchange of visits declined. But in a panic year, when the funds fall to 75, and the best stock is unsaleable, these economies
THE BATTLE OF LIFE ILLUSTRATED.
are mere drops in the ocean. The chance customers contract their purchases, the regular customers take long credit, the daily receipts do not pay the expenses.
In the face of all this the rent must be paid ; the Queen's taxes, the poor rates daily increasing, and police, gas, and water rates, and shopmen's wages and acceptances must be met to the hour. Economizing or procrastinating affords no substantial relief.
The unhappy man who has to struggle on against such a current of misfortune has no hope except in turning the tide. The preservation of his commercial credit is as dear to him as the honour of a soldier. That gone, not mental nor imaginary evils, but actual positive beggary, stare him in the face; perhaps a crowd of helpless, half-educated children, dependent for bread on a bankrupt father, past the age for beginning the battle of life again among those who have seen his rise and fall. To such, if they have courage to remove while yet a surplus remains, the Australian colonies offer a country where money is dear, food cheap, the absolutely indispensable outgoings small, and where children, instead of being a source of expense, are capable of at least earning a livelihood.
To illustrate what we mean we quote the following as a bit of actual autobiography of a man better qualified than most shopkeepers for a colonial career :—“Self thirty-nine years of age; employed since sixteen behind a retail counter in hardware trade; been accustomed to early rising, gardening, or farming before breakfast, having had a little land in occupation, with a couple of cows and a few pigs. Have made many a day's work of eighteen hours long, and yet am not able to make the provision I should wish for my children, of whom I have eight, four boys and four girls, with every probability of more, the eldest being a boy thirteen years of age, and the youngest one year and a half. My wife, thirty-five years of age, has not very good health, from want of more fresh air, being a farmer's daughter; never lived in town until married. She can bake, brew, cook, and take the management of a dairy, and make dresses as well as any dressmaker, boys' clothes as well as any tailor. Yet after being in business fifteen years, and lived economically, I find myself barely able to make two ends meet; and the question arises, what chances I shall have of being able to give my children the means of getting an honest living when of the age to leave home. I can use almost any kind of tools, although, of course, not so well as skilled workmen in their trades; but can dig, or mow, or reap, or trim hedges, or do rough carpentering, and do a little in working various kinds of metals.”
This bit of real life gives a just idea of a sort of people who waste
years in this country which would be more profitably spent in a thriving colony.
But there are others equally discontented and more prone to think of emigrating, who are very unlikely to succeed, unless they emigrate very young, or go through an apprenticeship which few have patience to endure.
Gentlefolks, to use an old-fashioned and expressive word, with little money and much pride, are the least likely to succeed as emigrants, because, while they have not the working powers which are always in demand in a colony, they seldom have courage enough to accept the advantages a colonial life offers in economy of externals : although poverty drives them from Europe, they cling to European prejudices, and continually sacrifice their independence to a short struggle to maintain appearances. They spend money which had more wisely been reserved for investment or mortgage on the purchase of land and cattle.
People may be as foolish, as extravagant, and as miserable in Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide, as in Paris, Bath, or Cheltenham. If poverty compels well-educated white-handed people to sail sixteen thousand miles, the sooner they begin to take advantage of the change, by exchanging broadcloth for fustian, without caring for what Mrs. Grundy will say,
the better. But genteel paupers, do-nothings, are essentially cowardly, mean, and grasping; they will beg, they will borrow and not repay, they will sneer and scandalize those who do work, but work themselves they will not.
Two instances have come within the personal knowledge of the writer in which families by birth and education, of the higher class, who have been sent out to two colonies by the charitable subscriptions of friends and strangers, have expended the greater part of the charity moneys in extravagant, unsuitable outfits, have refused to mess and associate with fellow-passengers of unquestionable respectability, and made enemies of colonists who could have rendered them services they soon had reason to ask for most humbly. In too many instances young ladies, after disdaining honest industry in a colony, have fallen to utter shame! So much by way of warning.
Yet there is, no doubt, a very numerous class of the “whitehanded” who would marvellously increase their mental comfort, or at least decrease their mental anxieties, if they could resign themselves to sacrifice the present for the future, and abandon the luxuries of Europe for the rude independence of a life on the borders of the bush, emulating