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SELF-TRANSPORTATION, CALLED EMIGRATING. Although our main objects in this work are nothing like politics or political economy, yet we mean to adhere to our expressed intention of occasionally calling the attention of our readers to the great points of national and domestic policy, as they may arise. We shall always aim rather at discussing the principles, than the details, of any proposed measure. There are many better channels for conveying detailed and minute information, than such a work as ours affords ; but the weighing of the principles of any measure, and examining their scope and tendency, seems to us to be quite consistent, and in harmony with our main design. It is under this impression, that we are about to offer a few brief remarks upon a topic that has lately been brought before the public in different forms, and with various recommendations---we mean that of emigration. Proposals have been made by persons high in authority, and for whose opinions we must naturally entertain great respect, to cause our laborers to seek, by emigration, a better condition of life than this country, at present, is capable of affording; the whole of this scheme, bad in its principle as we think, proceeding upon the assumption that in England, Scotland, and Ireland especially, the laboring population is greatly redundant.
Into the details of this proposed attempt we have no design, as we have already hinted, to enter. Before we engage ourselves in considering its practicability, in what manner the emigrants are to be selected, or calculate the probabilities of the subsequent repayment of their out-fit, we should like, first of all, to be satisfied that our laborers actually are in the numerically redundant condition supposed, and then to consider in what manner the exportation of this live stock would operate upon the home markets. For our parts, we have come to the conclusion, that in no sense of the word can it be said, that in proportion to the actual quantity of the necessaries of life raised in England or Ireland, we have, to use the hateful phrase of the economists, a surplus population.
That the aspect of our domestic affairs, at the present moment, in Great Britain, is of the most singular and unprecedented nature, every body is ready to allow. Events of the most extraordinary and contradictory nature are every day springing up. The most extraordinary thing of all is, that every class of producers is complaining of the want of a market, that is, of the opportunity of barter. The manufacturer is starved for want of the corn of the agriculturist, and the farmer and his laborers poverty-stricken from the want of a remunerative price for the produce of the land---the warehouses at Manchester are loaded with clothing, which obtains no market at the most reduced prices ; at the same time the weavers are perishing from nakedness and exposure, and begging for the means to cover them and their children. Every circumstance which we see, every statement which is made, goes to this ; that whatever may be the causes for all these derangements in VOL. II.
our affairs, nothing at all like dearth or scarcity is alleged to exist. And if this cannot be said, any scheme of emigration must be in the place first unnecessary, as there does not exist a greater nun,ber of persons than can be amply provided for; and in the second, that such a plan carried into any thing like extensive operation, must tend in the same degree to the disadvantage of those they leave behind. If there is abundance of food and clothing for all, while existing circumstances, whatever they may be, prevent their natural distribution, how will the matter be mended by sending away any portion of the consumers ? What hope can be entertained that affairs would flow in a more regular channel in a population of ten than one of fifteen millions ? If we have now bales of goods rotting in warehouses, and corn wasting in granaries, for want of proper channels of dispersion, why may not the people remain hungry and naked---why may not all the same causes of disorder continue in operation with a reduced population ?
The history of the condition of our laborers, particularly our farm laborers, for the last century, has been one of gradual impoverishment and degradation. Every body who has enquired into the subject, has been struck by the fact, of the gradually increasing disproportion of the price of labor, to the price of necessaries. The laborer, who, a century ago, earned a subsistence which placed him very far above the pressure of want, and enabled him to obtain those comforts which procured for this country the almost proverbial character for good living, is, at the present, even when in full employ, reduced by the excessively low rate of his wages, to starvation and pauperism. We do not, now, refer to those violent depreciations and changes which have lately occurred, and which may be supposed to have operated to the disadvantage of the laborer, by the ruin of the capitalist---his employer ; we leave these changes for the present out of the question, and allude only to the gradual and destructive alterations which have been made in the condition of the laborer, by causes which have been working slowly, though surely to produce these effects, for a long series of years. It has not been any sudden operation which has caused these changes, but a permanent, enduring, and universal agency, which has reduced our agricultural laborers from their former almost enviable condition, to their present state of abject want, privation, and wretchedness.
Many curious and impressive statements have lately been before the public to establish this fact, that by a comparison of the prices of labor with the necessaries of life, the condition of our laborers has been gradually retrograding. High prices or low prices, war or peace, commerce or no commerce, they have been gradually sinking. The increasing burthens of the country, or some concurrent causes, seem to have worked in a certain and destructive manner to the annihilation of every degree of their comfort and former independence. We have been almost tempted to put in a tabular form the demonstrative proofs of this often repeated and melancholy assertion. A comparison of the rates and wages, with the prices of necessaries at different periods, would be conclusive. We shall content ourselves with the following:
Here we have the fact established beyond controversy, that our farm laborers have been, by causes which remain to be adverted to, reduced to half their former subsistence. If we were to go still further back, we should find the contrast still more horrible and disadvantageous. Every body then asks, in the first place, what have been the causes of these monstrous evils; these evils which have brought not only ruin, but disgrace, upon us, as a nation? And, in the second place, they naturally and anxiously ask what is to be the cure for these mischiefs---where are we to look for a remedy?
As the existence of the fact itself is sufficiently obvious, we have had, at various times, a great abundance of answers to the first question. The causes which have really wrought these effects have been taken up separately, combined in various proportions, and with various degrees of prominence assigned to each, have been pressed upon our attention. The truth or fallacy of many of these views, as connected with the subject before us, it does not fall in with our present purpose to endeavour to ascertain. But among other schemes brought forward with considerable bustle and pomp of nomenclature, is the surplus population notion as a canse, and emigration as a consequent remedy. This does certainly appear to us to be the most unnatural and ill-founded conceit of the whole lot; and the proposed remedy, one as impracticable and visionary as Lady Georgiana Wolffs' notion of converting and baptizing the Jews without paying them handsomely for their trouble.
No one can entertain any doubt that a country may theoretically be placed in circumstances which imperatively call upon some part of the population to emigrate. But the only case where proof exists of such a necessity, is in the case of a positive deurth of the necessaries of life, when undeniable evidence is afforded, that on an average of years many must go naked and starve, owing to the necessarily short production of food and clothing, and when at the same time the powers of production have been carried in that country to their utmost extent. This we maintain is the only case where emigration is necessary, or can be any other than an absolute check to the im. provement and cultivation of refinement in the mother country. While there is enough for all at home, nothing can justify any attempt to promote emigration. The fact of plenty existing, is quite sufficient of itself to answer the unsupported notion of the existence of a redundant population; amply sufficient to shew, that we must
look to other causes for the existing evils, and consequently seek out other remedies.
Now, will any body pretend to say, that in this country, at this moment, ainidst all our starvation and nakedness, there really is any actual scarcity, that there cannot be, nor is not, enough of food and raiment for all ? Will any one venture to assert, that even in Ireland enough is not produced by that country and its inhabitants, amply to supply every member of the community in proportion to his wants and station in society? No one, we think, has asserted this, or would venture his credit upon such an assumption. This, then, being the case, we ask, in the name of common sense, how is it to prove any benefit to England or Ireland to send away any number of their laborers, when these are the hands who create the food and raiment, and the only bodies who can consume them when created? If, as we before said, such disorder exists, that these necessaries are stopped in their natural progress to the natural consumer, how can the evil be remedied in any degree by emigration ?
The main argument of these shallow emigrationists (we wish half of them would build log huts for themselves in Canada), is this :The price of labor is at present so low, that it is insufficient to afford even a bare existence; they jump at once to a conclusion, that this is occasioned by an excessive supply of labor; they disown and disregard any other considerations. Then say they, send off some laborers, diminish the supply, and you will render the labor of the remainder of more value, and consequently better their condition. Now, with what face can it be asserted, that there are too many laborers, so long as cultivation has not reached its utmost limit in any country? Is any farm in England as well cultivated as it is possible to cultivate it? Is Ireland producing throughout the whole island as much food and raiment as she is capable of producing ? Not one half so much as a diligent and judicious bestowment of human labor would cause her to produce; and this is universally allowed even by the emigration schemers themselves. What brazen impudence then to call upon us to tax the nation, to get rid of these laborers at an expence, which, if bestowed on home cultivation, would not only amply repay itself, but in a tenfold greater degree than the same amount expended in Canada or elsewhere! We are called upon to raise capital by taxation to set these laborers to work on the shores of the Lake Ontario, when the same amount would infinitely better repay the advance by properly cultivating the shores of Lake Killarney!
But look at the immediate operation of any such thinning of the laborers on the mother country. Our philo-emigrationists say, and smile while they say it, the immediate effect would be a rise in the price of wages for those who remained. True, but out of whose pocket is this rise to come ? If a farmer now spends 100l. in labor among a given number, what is to remunerate him for spending the same amount among half the number, getting of course only half of the former quantum of labor performed ? The increased price of culti-. vation must fall somewhere, and a pretty relief is designed, when the
obvious result is only to force an increased price from the consumer. If we are to pay another shilling a yard for our Irish linen, we are to rest satisfied that it is caused by the great numbers lately shipped from Cork for the banks of St. Clair and Lake Huron !
This evil, however, might be borne, if it confined itself to an entirely domestic rise of price; it would merely be a taking something more from the pockets of those who perhaps could afford it, to better the condition of the manufacturers. But how will our Canada populators reconcile this rise in wages with our foreign commerce ; how will such a result bear upon our commercial transactions? If Mr. Horton and his plans had all the success which he so ardently, and we have no doubt disinterestedly, wishes them, what are to be our hopes at home under so great a rise in the price of labor as he must contemplate ? Would not our foreign commerce suffer almost to annihilation, if his notions were as easily carried into effect as they are notoriously impracticable? With all our reduction in the price of wages, reduction to a degree horrid to dwell upon, we can hardly force a sale ; and now our legislators desire to abate this small chance of a market we have left, with a view to our security and relief. O monstrous! the cure for our present evils is to consist in causing a rise in the price of labor and production !
And then as regards the laborer himself. Who believes that a rise in his wages would take place so as greatly to better his condition? There is a vulgar and detestable notion afloat, that great blame is attributable to the farmers and manufacturers for causing this un. wholesome depreciation in the pay of their laborers. It is oftener hinted, than directly asserted, that the employers of the poor willingly grind them to destruction, that they combine to cause these results. Such an idea is at once revolting and untrue. Does the farmer now gain more than a fair remuneration by his prices, when compared with his labor account and general outgoings? Can he now afford, or could he at any time afford, a greater rate of wages without a corresponding increase of prices ? Are we to credit for a moment that our manufacturers take any delight in making the weaver work for sixpence a day, or that he gains inordinately by his dealings between the laborer and the consumer? No such thing. The rates of wages are forced upon the employers, and we have no reason whatever to believe, that if by reason of a reduction in the number of laborers, a rise in the price of labor was also forced, that rise would be for the benefit of the laborer. Every thing he consumed would consequently rise in price, and, above all, the reasons which now urge the employer to obtain labor cheap, would then be much more powerful and operative. If the farmer and manufacturer are now obliged to lower the rates of labor to such a great degree, with a view to meet the foreign markets, what would then be their inducements to keep the wages
prevent any considerable increase ? Just in proportion that we disbelieve that any good effects would result from these emigration plots, do we discredit, that increased numbers of laborers have been the chief cause in producing the