Billeder på siden

into wholesome channels; while concomitant plans of amelioration and reform would act harmoniously and prosperously.

Amelioration and reform, if we are to trust to rumours and beginnings, are forcing themselves upon the attention of the Conservative administration, and will exhibit practical progress in more than one of the national great departments. Law-reform in the Courts of Equity, say the ministerial papers, is to be the subject of the investigation of commissioners, in order to remove notorious abuses; and thus relief and comfort may be brought home to many a family and bosom, and many irritating evils removed. But what inspires us with still more hope is the fact of a commission having been appointed to examine into the collection of the revenue, with a view to retrenchment and simplification in the system, and the removal of annoying restrictions to commerce. And yet, what we have more immediately to welcome is the rumour about emigration, which if planned upon a comprehensive scale, and according to principles that have recently been rendered familiar to the public by discussion, and tested by experiment, is the statesmanlike idea of offering facilities to the industrious destitute of Great Britain and Ireland who are an involuntary burden to the mother-country, to emigrate to rich, new, and inexhaustible lands, where they would find a happy home and sufficient wealth; at the same time without an unremunerative taxation,-nay, with a reciprocating benefit that cannot be calculated either in respect of amount or duration,-of immediate or of generative good. The system of emigration that has recently been recommended and tested, to which we allude, is that of converting colonial lands into money for the purpose of emigration, and which conveys along with property to capitalists a sufficient number and variety of mechanics and labourers to meet all the demands of a civilized community, and to afford the germs of unlimited development. If a loan is required at the first to enable government to conduct the scheme of emigration upon a vast scale, the sum would not be very formidable; or at least a more profitable investment could not be suggested, not merely repaying speculatists speedily, but becoming the source of unlimited returns and benefit for all time coming.

The publications named at the head of this paper (and we might have increased the list of recent works concerning Polynesia) confine us to New Zealand, South Australia, and New South Wales; especially to New Zealand. But the field, even as thus narrowed, is broad enough to occupy our attention at this time,-yea, and to hold out a theme of marvellous compass if the mind will but try to pursue it and its legitimate bearings.

The theme is nothing less than the trade and colonization of the Southern Hemisphere,-of the southern half of the globe, which is at present not half-peopled, not even brought within the grasp of

any well-devised system of occupation and improvement, moral or physical; nay, not contemplated as the future theatre of unspeakable mercantile transactions, not to mention the higher purposes of existence and all the weight of responsibility. In fact, if we are to trust Mr. Jameson's "Record of Recent Travels" in the colonies named by him in the title of his book, "with especial reference to emigration and advantageous employment of labour and capital,” there has as yet been hardly a step taken in the commerce that the southern archipelago is capable of starting and sustaining. Nay, according to this gentleman's testimony, whose opportunities as "late Surgeon Superintendant of Emigrants to South Australia" entitle him to much credence, the progress of trade which once subsisted between Australia and India is on the decline. Here is the account by our intelligent author:

"The main obstacle to the formation of close commercial ties between New Holland and the neighbouring Tropical countries consists in her inability to furnish any commodity suited to their markets. The merchants of Sydney, in importing the produce of these countries, are under the necessity of making remittances in specie; a circumstance extremely adverse to the formation of a continuous and advantageous system of com


"The articles of foreign produce which are in daily use in the Australian colonies are of the following descriptions

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

"In their houses, equipages, and dress, the middle and higher classes among the colonists evince a growing predilection for articles of the best description. Scarcely a large vessel now arrives from England without a good London-built carriage, pianoforte, harps, and other musical instruments, besides pier-glasses, plate, and similar expensive furniture. This circumstance is indicative of advancing wealth and refinement; but it is by no means favourable to the consumption of the cheap productions of Hindoo and Chinese labour, which, at an early period, commanded a ready sale in these colonies. Hitherto, from time to time, a necessity has existed for sending to Calcutta for wheat; but this, which might have been con

sidered as the main pillar of Indo-Australian commerce, will probably be rendered unnecessary in future, much to the advantage of the colonies, by the general introduction of siloes, or underground storehouses, in which the surplus produce of abundant harvests, instead of being lost or wasted, as in former years, will now be laid up to meet the exigencies of an unproductive season.

"Deprived of this support, the commercial relations subsisting between India and New Holland, although they cannot cease altogether, will exist only in a languid and scarcely animate condition, limited, probably to the importation of a few Arab horses from time to time, or a few bales of bandana handkerchiefs. In like manner it is to be expected that the importation of wheat from Valparaiso, and other South American ports, will be henceforth discontinued, and their commercial relations with the Australian colonies confined to the shipment from time to time of a cargo of horses.

"There is nothing to regret in the discontinuance of commercial operations, which, by withdrawing from the colonial circulation large quantities of specie in exchange for articles of rapid consumption, had a tendency to cramp the money-market, to diminish mercantile credit, and to divert the attention of the colonists from domestic agriculture."

Now, this shows how commerce may be impeded by the want of produce which might be turned to most profitable accounts in accessible markets, were these markets fairly and adequately dealt by. Tropical resources must be cultivated with larger views than specie can alone accommodate; therefore Australia must carry out what she appears to contemplate and to have begun, viz. give ample scope and lend every enlightened means to extensive traffic. That such is not a visionary idea may be gathered from the following striking statement:

"For many years a considerable number of vessels have found profitable employment in trading with New Zealand, and the countless islands comprehended under the general name of Polynesia. This branch of Australian commerce is of an importance not generally understood and appreciated. The marketable produce of these islands, and of the seas over which they are so widely scattered, consists chiefly of bêche de la mer, sandal-wood, and sharks' fins, for the Chinese market; tortoise-shell, pearls, sperm-oil, and pork; besides vegetable productions, such as the yam, the sugar-cane, the bread-fruit, and the cocoa-nut, which denote a soil and climate similar to those of our most valuable Tropical possessions. These islands, which teem with the delicious fruits and vegetables of the Tropics, offer irresistible attractions to those hardy mariners who plough the Pacific in chase of the sperm-whale. Tempted by the love of change or liberty, and by the fertility of the earth, which renders labour unnecessary for the maintenance of life; influenced, too, in some degree by the fascination of beauty-an universal, but rapidly evanescent attribute of the female sex in these genial latitudes-many sailors desert their ships and take up their abode in Polynesia; and it is said that throughout this multitudinous group there are

few islands inhabited and possessed of commodious harbours, whose inhabitants have not among them a few European sailors, with a sprinkling of runaway convicts from the Penal Colonies. It is worthy of remark, that native cannibalism does not deter these reckless wanderers; for on the Feejee Islands there is a little community of white men, similar in character and habitudes to the early settlers in New Zealand. Rude, ignorant, and for the most part vicious, these Europeans are nevertheless, in some respect, objects of interest. In them we behold the primary germs of civilization, borne by the accidents of a wayward life to shores over which the darkness of primeval barbarism has hitherto brooded. Their language and dress are those of the civilized and Christian world; they possess, and by degrees communicate to their native friends, some rudimental knowledge of the arts and advantages of civilization; and thus, although in themselves offering no very edifying example, they become instruments in the change which the native character is undergoing throughout the Southern hemisphere."

Whatever may have been the delay or the retrogression which has attached to the history of the colonization of Polynesia, by Europeans we mean, and especially on the part of the British, who are by far the most capable and desirable of modern settlers in any new country, it is perfectly manifest that not only will British efforts in that way in the southern hemisphere be gradually enlarged, but that these efforts may be greatly improved upon and accelerated. Britons and the offspring of the British race from the United States of America are included in our view and prognostications.

It is impossible to stem the tide of British colonization; for New Zealand alone offers the spectacle of uncontrollable settlement; but which yet might be regulated by government so as to be the least injurious to the aboriginal inhabitants, and the most advantageous to the emigrants. Polynesia presents such tempting regions for Europeans in respect of climate, scenery, products, and natives, that the Anglo-Saxon family seem destined to people its groups, and in the course of time to obliterate, if not to extirpate, the feebler savage inhabitants. Well then, is it not of pressing importance that the greatest commercial and social good should be studied and promoted by the best legislative measures that can be contrived? We have alluded to the American branch of the Anglo-Saxon family, and nothing can be more obvious than that, if the parent tree do not wisely extend itself to the Polynesian fertile shores, the younger nation will go in advance of us.

The recognition by the British crown of certain islands in the southern hemisphere to which individual adventurers have hurried, many of them of the worst description, becomes a necessary step in the course of colonial policy. Runaway seamen and convicts, as well as many daring men who have been willing to go beyond the limits of civilization in search of wealth, have begun to people

Polynesia, carrying with them much moral disease, as well as the knowledge of many of the arts and much of the power of a superior condition. Now it is not only necessary to the well-being of these adventurers themselves, and of the aboriginal races with whom they are to have intercourse, but to the commerce of the old portions of the civilized world, that there be fra ed systematic regulations and sustained protection. Even before the British Crown may deem it prudent to recognize an irregularly constituted settlement, it seems necessary, were it but for the sake of instituting at an early period good examples, that some organized and well-digested kind of watchfulness should be established for the benefit of all concerned. We have read with approbation the suggestions which have been made in the Colonial Gazette, viz., that the abode must be known to the government to which the emigrants belong, and that support should be supplied with some measure of regularity and accessible effect by that government.

For these purposes two or three steamers might ply throughout the Polynesian archipelago, maintaining a systematic intercourse between the kindred colonists,-lending opportune assistance, affording countenance, and judiciously commanding the respect of the natives, by demonstrating the potency and the paternal care of the national authority. One obvious result of such a scheme, if conducted by means of well-appointed vessels, would be a correct statistical knowledge at head-quarters of the number of settlers, of their affairs and prospects. Thus would not only better settlers be encouraged, but their ties with the mother country would not be broken; or on the contrary be rendered the means of profitable traffic and cheering communication. Regulate and foster, but do not force the process of colonization, appears to be the great principle of wisdom in this department.

New Zealand, which the British crown has now taken under its care, presents, it has been truly said, the master-key not only to the trade of Polynesia, but to that of the southern hemisphere generally; and will, we are confident, at no very distant period, offer the spectacle of a great empire of European birth in those regions. It will powerfully co-operate with the communities which have been establishing themselves in Australia, and those which are destined to be fixed in the Polynesian archipelago; it will be the pioneer and the nurse of that traffic which will press upon the shores even of China, and lend in the eyes of the "flowery people" honour and magnitude to the British name; and, in a word, bring within an intelligible and practicable system the blessings and capabilities of commerce. New Zealand will not merely become the focus and arena of wonderful social, civil, and mercantile development, but it will send forth shoots as well as invite co-operations, the results of which in respect of greatness and brilliancy cannot be foreseen.

« ForrigeFortsæt »