Images de page


increased from a single bale of 250 lbs. to the present supply of 21,000,000 lbs., and if labour be adequately supplied, will attain in ten years hence 100,000,000 lbs.; the present amount is one-third of the whole wools imported, and affords employment to far more than one-third of the operatives engaged in the manufacture of imported wools; since the Australian wool being of a quality different from the British, encourages rather than excludes the use of the latter, inasmuch as the British wool could not be used so extensively were it not for its admixture with the fine Australian. If therefore Australian wools deteriorate in quality, or diminish in quantity, from the scarcity of labour, British woollen manufactures must relatively decline, to the loss alike of the grower and the artificer. But wool, though at present the principal staple of those colonies, is not the only commodity which we require, and which they can supply. There is an increasing want of cotton, and growing fears of a precarious supply. We abandoned our cotton fields in the East the cotton fields in the West are ours no longer, and may fail us in our need. Boundless tracts in Australia are adapted for the easy and rapid growth of this necessary article, whilst the value of the ores, great already, is speedily increasing, from the discovery of new mines, which require only additional labour to bring them into active operation. To commerce, therefore, this question is of much importance.


[ocr errors]

But our more immediate concern is with pressing

hunger and destitution; we refer to the condition of the poor. If they are starving for want of food here, is there no British soil more blessed with plenty? If the land, rent free, will not support the population (and famished families and rentless ruined landlords prove its truth in various parts of Scotland and Ire land), is every place in the empire so overstocked? If remunerative employment cannot be found for unskilled labour here, is it as unproductive in other parts of the British dominions?

Ireland has 300 persons, England 260, to each square mile; Australia has 12 square miles to cach individual..

+ Australia has nearly the area of Europe, with the population of Wiltshire or Northumberland. In this country the people press on the sources of subsistence, in Australia the food presses upon the people.

Ireland has 3,000,000 dependent on charity for subsistence; New South Wales has subsistence for 3,000,000, with only 180,000 persons to consume it. There they are languishing to obtain that which we are anxious to get rid of. Each groans under the burden, while disputing the right to bear it ; each prefers suffering from the disease, to paying the fee for the cure. Here there are districts where the land, rent free, would not afford a pound of meat a-week to each starving inhabitant.

In the legislative assembly of New South Wales, in the month of June last, it was stated, that this year, "no less than 64,000,000 lbs. of meat would be wasted,

sufficient to feed 1,100,000 of those poor people who were starving in England and Ireland." In New South Wales the people are 180,000, the cattle 2,000,000, the sheep 8,000,000, being about 13 head of oxen and 50 sheep for each person. The superabundance of food is wasted for want of mouths; the corn is shed for lack of reapers; the wool is injured for want of shearers; and consequently, all descriptions of produce either perish, or are greatly depreciated both in quality and value. Herds of cattle and flocks of sheep are "boiled down" for tallow, there, while thousands are famishing for want of food here, there the meat is wasted, here men are wasting. Human skeletons pine here for what fattened dogs rejcct there. The balance between food and population is unequal at home, it is as unequal in New South Wales, but it is the other way. In like manner the scales of labour and employment are uneven here; they are as uneven at the antipodes, but in the opposite direction here labour is too plentiful, there it is as much too scarce. We have tried and failed to bring the food to the starving man,-therefore convey the starving man to his food, the labourer to his hire, and you may restore the lost balance.

In Ireland, a scanty meal at 2d. or 24d. per day, was doled out to sustain life. In New South Wales, the unskilled labourer, full fed with ample rations, supplied with a dwelling and garden, found in tea, sugar, milk, and tobacco, disdains to work under 2s. 6d. a day besides. If destitution cause crime

here-affluence leads to the same result there. Want here and abundance there; scarcity and superfluity of labour opposite extremes end alike in vice, indolence, insubordination, and social disorder. to dtros. eThe common wages at present given in that coun. try are as follows:-Sheep-shearers, 12s. 6d. per day; reapers, 10s.; whilst shepherds and ordinary labourers receive from 25 to 30%. per annum in money pay ments, in addition to which they are housed, and receive the following rations weekly, which in England would be worth as follows mool aut

[ocr errors]

at 5d. per lb..

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

or the annual value of nearly 221. ure ogno udr soube Where there is a wife and family, they are provided for with equal abundance, and in consequence of the low price of provisions, the amount of wages of unskilled labour, and the additional emoluments, command to a man and small family as large à quantity of the necessaries of life in New South Wales, as could be got for 801. or nearly 100l. a-year in this country,

If the local advantages offered to emigrants to New South Wales are so great, it is natural to suppose that, unless great and insurmountable difficulties are interposed, the largest stream of emigration would be directed thither; but on the contrary, not five in a thousand of those who emigrate, go to New South


Wales. What then is the cause of such an extraordinary fact?

[ocr errors]

First there is the physical difficulty arising from the length of voyage next there is the artificial difficulty of obtaining land when the voyage is ended. The high price of land, and the vexatious regulations attending its sale, deter the emigrant who has capital, enterprize, and forethought, from venturing to New South Wales; the accounts of their friends who have returned, or the letters from those who struggle on, alike warn him from encountering in Australia' the insuperable barrier which Government has placed in

his way.

The low fixed price of land in North America, and the cheering accounts received from relations who have acquired comfort or independence there, alike induce the emigrant to follow them with his capital and industry. Where land is dear, settlers and capital are repelled where it is cheap they are attracted.

No committee of the legislature of New South Wales has ever touched on the price of land without complaining of the extravagant amount exacted by Government, and petitions to Parliament from every quarter of the Colony have repeatedly urged its reduction.

[ocr errors]

In America and Australia the demand for labour is great in one the land bears its natural, in the other an unnatural price; British emigration is redundant to the one, is deficient to the other. The wages of labour are highest in Australia; the possession of


« PrécédentContinuer »