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chants of the town of Sydney distress prevailed, consequent on the cessation of building and other works, and wages were depressed to a rate before unknown, and newly-arrived immigrants were astonished at the low wages offered, so different to the flaming representations of the crimps by whom they had been collected. But in the country districts, and especially in the bush, where sheep and cattle were breeding, while their proprietors were going through the insolvent process, wages were maintained; and the anomaly was presented of large bodies of men being employed at the expense of government, at high wages, on a sham labour test, while flocks were wanting shepherds in the interior. Several causes supported this anomaly: 1st, There was no government machinery for distributing newly-arrived emigrants; 2nd, the preference of the squatters for single men left families on the hands of the government; 3rd, the squatters' club were not sorry to see the government embarrassed by the presence of a large body of unemployed labourers in Sydney ; 4th, the dishonest conduct of certain masters in withholding or unfairly deducting wages promised had given the bush a bad name; 5th, many of the emigrants were of a class who, having left parish aid behind, liked to keep close to government rations and wages. All were engaged, as far as their shortsighted views would permit, in killing the golden goose of colonization.
Mr. Boyd's evidence before the immigration committee of 1843 affords, when read with the notes we can supply, a fair specimen of the haughty, gentlemanly, selfish class he represented.
He had then been eighteen months in the colony, and was employing two hundred shepherds and stockmen, besides artificers. He was building a town and port at Twofold Bay; had two steam-boats, and a schooner yacht, the Wanderer. He had devised the scheme of saving labour, by putting three thousand sheep instead of eight hundred under the charge of one shepherd.
He despairs of the prosperity of the colony “unless the wages of a shepherd could be brought to £10 a year, or about 3s. 10d. a week, with meat and flour, without tea and sugar.” The two last had been previously universally allowed; but he expressed his intention of doing away with them, “ being of very questionable utility and necessity, although such is the waste and extravagance here that 8 lbs. of tea and 90 lbs. of sugar are consumed per head.” He states, further, that he “had no difficulty in engaging shepherds at £10 with these rations, but much difficulty in getting men engaged at these low wages forwarded to stations, as they were generally picked up on the road.” “Any money advanced towards travelling expenses was usually spent
THE TWO KINDS OF COLONISTS.
137 in public-houses;" and it is his decided opnion that “more than £10 a year only does harm to shepherds, by sending them to publichouses.”
Mr. Boyd also mentioned how he had kindly given a free passage to Twofold Bay, distant 600 miles from Sydney, to one hundred labourers out of employ. He did not mention that, on their arriving there, those who refused to accept £10 wages were refused a passage back for less than £5; and that, while a few strong men walked back over the mountains, those who remained created such a feeling in the country that Mr. Boyd could not venture to visit his stations until the time of the year when the police magistrate, with a guard of policemen, took his annual round.
Fortunately all squatters were not like the Boyd clan, and the productiveness of the land defeated the combination : had it been otherwise, a very few years would have produced a servile war of men against masters.
From the clan Boyd proceeded stories founded on fact, and dressed to suit a purpose, about allotments of land sold for quarts of rum, champagne drunk in buckets by shearers and shepherds, who insisted on having pickles with their (measled ?) pork.
Another order of men, chiefly permanent colonists, residing on their own property, were represented by Mr. Charles Campbell as employing from fifty to sixty shepherds and watchmen. “He had been obliged, by the pressure of the times, to reduce his old servants to £18 for shepherds and £16 for watchmen, and had not found them so reluctant to accept the reduction as he expected. He would hardly like to see wages lower.” He thought a great oversight had been committed by settlers in neglecting to form villages on their estates. He says, “ Many of those who now complain of want of employment in Sydney might have been comfortably settled up the country in small villages, containing from ten to twelve men, heads of families, in various callings. In the present state of things we employ, at sheepshearing and reaping, men who wander through the country, from one place to another, in quest of occasional employment. Many of these are handy clever fellows, but unmarried, and of irregular and dissolute habits. All these men earn is frequently spent in the first public-houses they come to after leaving the station where they have been employed. If, instead of employing men of this class, the flockmasters and landholders had invited married emigrants to settle in small villages, by allowing them land at a low rent, and not attempting to monopolize their labour, permitting them to choose their own employer in the neighbourhood, we should have our reaping, mowing, and shearing done at a cheaper rate; and the emigrants, by means of the money made during the busy season, added to their earnings, would maintain their families well, and their children, from not being scattered, might have opportunities of learning to read and write, and of receiving religious instruction. Many would in a few years become small farmers—first as tenants, then as landholders, and, in either capacity, would increase the demand for labour.”
This was sound sense in Charles Campbell, as contrasted with the sound selfishness of Benjamin Boyd ; but although afterwards enforced and illustrated with a large collection of facts gathered by the one great colonial reformer produced by Australia, yet 1851 found the pastoral interests as ill provided with permanent labour as 1843. The selfish maxims of Mr. Boyd's Bent's sheep club prevailed after the ruin and death of the founders. The successful efforts to retain sheepwalks as walks only to encourage the growth of sheep, and discourage the rearing of children, found Australia, when the golden revolution broke out, largely dependent on wandering shepherds, bound by no ties, either moral or local, social or domestic, to the district, in the land of which they had no share. Even at this hour shortsighted successors to the Boyd policy are contemplating the forging of legal bonds to retain the unwilling services of cheap shepherds, hired in Europe anything rather than give up a share in their land monopoly, although it is melting from their grasp.
But while the governor, well backed by the Colonial Office, was deep in the contest which killed him and deceived thousands — while the bounty crimps were pouring in their miscellaneous collections to work or saunter, or, if women, walk the streets—while the squatters, losing sight of the just half of their claim, were factiously obstructing all government, and ready to ruin the bodies and souls of shepherds to save wool—one individual appeared, unencumbered with colonizing theories, undebased by any mercenary objects, laborious in collecting facts, diffident in expressing new opinions, prepared to learn, willing to teach, and anxious to be useful to all conditions of men—Caroline Chisholm, the greatest, the only practical reformer and worker in colonization of the age, who will be remembered and blessed by thousands, following their flocks and cultivating their farms in Australia, when the names of the land-jobbers and charlatans of the “sufficientprice school,” the false “protectionists of colonial capital,” are forgotten.
NEGLECTED STATE OF EMIGRANTS-SHE FOUNDS THE “HOME" -TRAVELS THROUGH
THE BUSH-DISTRIBUTES SERVANTS AND WIVES—HER BOOK--COLLECTS VOLUN. TARY INFORMATION.
her children and husband, Captain Archibald Chisholm, of the Madras army, who had been making a tour of the Australian colonies during a limited sick leave. On returning to India he decided to leave his family in New South Wales.
Soon after their arrival, during the first crash of insolvency of 1839, some Highland emigrants, who spoke no English and had large families, found difficulty in obtaining employment. A little money lent them by Captain Chisholm to purchase tools, and a little useful advice, set them up as woodcutters, and they prospered; and, having seen the neglected state of the bounty emigrants, he pointed them out to his wife as fit objects for her charitable zeal and energy. There is a wonderful freemasonry among the poor, and by degrees Mrs. Chisholm's rooms were crowded by emigrants seeking advice. But it was the unprotected position of female and often friendless emigrants that most awakened her warm sympathies. She commenced her work in the literal sense of the term, by at the same time gathering information and acquiring the confidence of the working classes.
At that period she found young women who had emigrated nominally under the care of friends, but really under that of strangers, at the instigation of the bounty agent, without home, some lodged in tents with companions of indifferent character, others wandering friendless through the streets of Sydney; many who, having been collected in rural districts, knew more of cows and pigs than housework, if engaged in town, soon lost their situations when superseded by more accomplished servants from ships which arrived daily.
Some of these poor creatures slept in retired nooks out in the public gardens and in the rocks, rather than face the contamination of the streets. The total number of respectable females unemployed in Sydney at one time in 1840_1 accumulated to six hundred.
There were other and more serious evils attendant on emigration, as then conducted, than the condition of the emigrants on landing. A considerable number of females of notoriously bad character were sent out in the bounty ships for whom bounty was never claimed; the Emigration Board sat in Sydney merely to apportion the bounty; the utmost punishment they could inflict was to stop the passage-money due to the agents. So long as the emigrants were delivered in good health, and within the standard, there was neither tribunal nor even organized opinion which could be brought to bear on any of the parties connected with the mercantile transaction. If duly invoiced, the bill for the live lumber was paid, while damaged goods were rejected. In some ships the immigrants were deprived of their fair share of provisions, insulted and assaulted by the crew, even by the officers, and otherwise abused. In others unrestrained intercourse took place between the officers, the crew, and the female passengers. In more than one instance the captain or surgeon selected pretty emigrants for companions during the voyage, and even during their stay in Sydney.
On arrival in harbour, not only were single gentlemen allowed to choose housekeepers on board, but notorious brothel-keepers regularly visited the emigrant-ships. The captain and surgeon could not know them, and had no power to impede them if they did. There was no government officer on board to superintend the contracts or protect the emigrants; and thus, while women fell into the hands of seducers and harlots, there were a certain number of keen hands, with whom few in the colony would deal without a lawyer, who skimmed the cream of the labour from the ship on terms of very sharp practice.
All these things oozed out in England among the emigrating classes, and made, and continued to make, long after they were to a great extent remedied, emigration very unpopular, but no one cared or dared to take up the obnoxious and ungenteel position of the emigrants' friend in Sydney.
The colonists had not then learned that the cheapest and most powerful mode of colonizing is to make the working colonists content.
Mrs. Chisholm had courage and foresight. She began by appealing to the press and to private individuals on behalf of the poor destitute girl immigrants. At first she met with much discouragement, a few civil speeches—no assistance.
The most imperious section of the employer class saw no advantage from the protection of the employed. The officials foresaw more work, some supervision, and no increase of pay. The Roman Catholics, as soon as they found it was to be a universal, or, to use the Irish term, a “godless,” scheme of practical philanthropy, and not sectarian and proselytizing, opposed it vehemently. A dignitary of that church wrote