Part I – Introduction
The Emigrant’s Guide to New South Wales, Van Dieman’s Land, Lower Canada, Upper Canada, and New Brunswick; Containing an Enumeration of the Advantages Which Each Colony Offers; With The Regulations Adopted by His Majesty’s Government, to Facilitate Male and Female Emigration; The Price of Passage, Certainty of Permanent Employment, and Rates of Wages; List of Tradesmen and Mechanics most Wanted, and the Amount of Pecuniary Assistance Offered to Married Men and Single Females, Towards Defraying the Expense of Their Passage…
The present position of Australasia is interesting in the extreme. Little more than forty years ago, New South Wales was a barren desert; it is now one of the most valuable possessions of the British crown: and of that brief period, not much more than a fourth can be fairly reckoned in the term of her existence as a Colony; for, during nearly the first thirty years after her establishment, she was an obscure penal settlement, held in contempt by all civilized nations, and scarcely thought of by the mother country but as Botany Bay — the emporium of felons — the national New-gate. It was not until four or five years after the termination of the war, when the sudden revulsion, throwing thousands out of employment, revived the spirit of Emigration, that Australasia began to insinuate herself into the favorable notice of the parent state, and to allure free individuals to her distant shores. As a Colony, then, in the proper sense of the term, her age is under a score; and to the fact, the undeniable, the unquestionable fact, that within so mere a span of time she has advanced to her present magnitude in agriculture, commerce, wealth, and intelligence, do we appeal as a triumphant answer to all that can be objected to her soil, her climate, or her sequestered position on the globe. Even had the Swan River territory equalled the expectations of the settlers, the start which New South Wales has got in all the advantages of an opened, ascertained, and peopled country, would have entitled that Colony to the preference of reflecting men.
During the year 1826, and three following years, the agriculture of New South Wales had to contend against one of the most fearful droughts with which the earth was ever visited since the days of Pharaoh; and it speaks volumes for the strength of its natural resources, that an infantine community has not only survived the storm, but at this moment possesses, in rich abundance, all the necessaries, and most of the luxuries of life. Wheat is from 5s. 6d. to 7s. 6d. (Vide Sydney Gazette, October 1, 1831) the bushel, and the British government has recently published an Australian list of prices.. Another fact strongly establishes the natural wealth of the Colony: the revenue of the year 1828, in which the drought was at its height, was upwards of £100,000, being an increase on the previous year of more than £23,000.
The census taken in Nov. 1828, shows that, for a population of 36,000 souls, there were in cultivation 71,000 acres of land, being nearly two acres per man, besides an unlimited range of natural pasturage for cattle and sheep, the former of which had increased to near 263,000, and the latter to more than half a million.
Agriculture is undergoing a rapid change, and a change infinitely for the better. Instead of being confined to grain, which has nearly equalled the consumption even in years of dearth, and in favorable seasons is so over-abundant as almost to ruin the grower, it is now embracing some of those more valuable products for which nature has evidently intended the country. It is proved that wine can be produced with but little labour, and at an insignificant expense.
Tobacco, which can always be cultivated on whatever land is suitable for wheat, is grown by nearly every farmer in the country; and by some has been brought to such perfection as to rival the choicest Brazil.
Besides the vine and tobacco, hops have been produced by some of the more opulent settlers, which would bear comparison with the best ever grown in Kent.
Turning from agriculture to commerce, we meet with a splendid trade in the sperm fisheries. In 1838, the produce was 466 tons; but where one ship was in the trade then, now nearly a score are employed. Thus, while the soil is teeming with fertility, the ocean is rolling with inexhaustible treasures.
In contemplating the commercial character of New South Wales, it must not be overlooked that the ocean, which girdles her shores, is decked with innumerable Islands most of which abound with valuable productions, and are inhabited by men who, though at present in a state of barbarism, are gifted with physical and mental endowments of a high order, and will vastly enlarge the circle of commercial intercourse. They will in fact be the West Indies of Western Australia.
It has been long the custom to rank among the advantages of New Holland, its stupendous territorial magnitude. Hitherto, however, this advantage has been subject to the serious drawback, that the character of its surface has, with the exception of the paltry segment already colonized, remained in profound mystery; and that the circumnavigation of its coasts was supposed to have shut out all hope of its possessing navigable rivers. Happily this mystery has been penetrated to a considerable extent; and this absence of rivers has proved to have been too hastily believed. Recent discoveries have established the gratifying fact that the immense range of territory stretching between Sydney and the south western extremity of the island, consists of one of the finest pastoral countries in the world, intersected, too, by several fine rivers, one of which pursues a course of about a thousand miles, and being joined by others in its progress, at length empties itself into a noble lake on the borders of the sea, from fifty to sixty miles in length, and from thirty to forty in width. The new country thus thrown open, surpasses even the Colony in salubrity of climate, and is far more congenial to the European constitution and habit; and, from all appearance, there is reason to believe its contiguity to the sea, and its more southerly position secures to it a more copious and regular supply of rain than is enjoyed in the occupied territory.
Here, then, is a country prepared to our very hands, for all the purposes of civilized life. While England is groaning beneath a population for which she cannot provide bread, here is an unmeasured extent of rich soil that has lain fallow for ages, and to which starving thousands are beckoned to repair. The great want of England is EMPLOYMENT; the great want of New South Wales is LABOUR. England has more mouths than food; New South Wales has more food than mouths. England would be the gainer by lopping off one of her superfluous millions; New South Wales would be the gainer by their being planted upon her ample plains. In England the lower orders are perishing for lack of bread; in New South Wales they are living, surrounded by superabundance. In England the master is distracted to find work for his men; in New South Wales he is distracted to find men for his work. In England the capitalist is glad to make his three per cent.; in New South Wales he looks for twenty. In England capital is a mere drug — the lender can scarcely find a borrower, the borrower can scarcely repay the lender; in New South Wales capital is the one thing needful — it would bring a goodly interest to the lender, and would make the fortune of the borrower.
Then let the capitalist wend his way thither, and his one talent will soon gain ten, and his ten twenty. Let the labourer go thither, and if he can do nothing in the world but dig, he will be welcome to his three-and-twenty shillings a week, and may feast on fat beef and mutton at a penny or two-pence per pound.
William Penn, in his “Benefit of Plantations or Colonies,” after adverting to the various Emigrations recorded in History, says, —
“I deny the vulgar opinion against Plantations, that they weaken England; they have manifestly enriched, and so strengthened her, which I briefly evidence thus: those that go into a foreign Plantation, their industry there is worth more than if they staid at home.” Again :— “They are not lost to England, since England famishes them with much clothes, household stuff, tools, and the like necessaries, and that in greater quantities than here their condition could have bought, being there well to pass, that were but low here, if not poor, and now Masters of Families too, when here they had none, and could hardly keep themselves, and very often it happens that some of them, after their industry and success have made them wealthy, return and empty their riches into England; one in this capacity being able to buy out twenty of what he was when he went out.”
The inquiry into which the parliamentary Emigration Committee of 1827 entered, established a proposition precisely similar; and furnished their justification of suggesting an appropriation of the public funds, by way of loan, for the purposes of Emigration.