The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 44
The England of the Pacific
The England of the Pacific.
New Zealand—The Labourer's Paradise—Fifty-four Shillings per Week versus Twelve—Cost of Living—Visit to an English Agricultural La-bourer—Who should not go to New Zealand-Difference between English Three per Cents, and New Zealand Eight—£300 a year versus £640—Sunshine versus Gloom—Openings for English Tradesmen, Manufacturers, Farmers, and Market-gardeners—Evidences of High Civilization—Nelson—Dunedin—Christchurch—Wellington—Auckland—Statistics of Book Imports, Telegraph and Post-Office Services, Savings' Banks, Beer, Wine, and Spirit Imports—Visit to two English Middle-Class Settlers—An ex-Shoemaker's History—A Berkshire Ironmonger as a New Zealand Farmer—The English Character of New Zealand Life—Its supposed Loneliness—The Maoris—An Irish Settlement—The Voyage—Life on Board Ship—Objects of Interest en route— Conclusion.
It has long appeared to me that the subject of emigration must soon occupy a foremost position among our social questions. However we may feel disposed to hug this little island home of ours—and I will yield to no one in appreciation of its unique advantages, for I verily believe it to be the most desirable place of residence in the world for those who can afford a luxurious life—it is getting clearer and clearer every year that some of us must, sooner or later, swarm off. If any one doubts this, he has but to insert an advertisement in the papers for a clerk or private secretary, at a salary say of £150 a year, about what a navvy gets in New Zealand, and the choked condition of his letter-box for the next week will quite settle the point. The fact is indisputable. The home is very snug. It is abundantly comfortable. Nowhere, on the whole, may we find better quarters; but, as a matter of fact, it is too small. The alternative of emigration has to be faced. Nor need this alternative fill us with alarm. After devoting some years to the study of our emigration-fields, I venture to strip the bugbear of expatriation of its terrors, and I will also do my best to strip emigration of its disgrace.
It is high time the work of colonization took a fitting position in our social economy. Emigration has hitherto been looked upon too much as a last resort of the unfortunate; and I have heard a Canadian remark with bitterness, in view of the Ne'er-do-wells who have flocked to his shores from the old page 6 country, "One would think it was written over our entrancegates—'Rubbish shot here.'" Broken-down merchants, family scapegraces, younger sons who have failed to get into either the army or the church, and paupers of every degree of moral feebleness—these have too generally constituted the bulk of our human freightage to the colonies. So that, as a matter of fact, it has come to be regarded as a sort of social disgrace to have turned emigrant, and the friends of the supposed unfortunate individual feel under an obligation to apologize for the step, and a sympathetic circle of acquaintances hope for the best for "poor Jones."
Now, ladies and gentlemen, one of the deepest convictions which I have brought home from the Antipodes is that it is high time a new departure were taken in the emigration line. Instead of regarding a removal to the "Greater Britain" as a sort of voluntary transportation, I would have the magnificent domain kept before the energetic youth of England as a noble field for the performance of their life-work. The New Zealand whose hills and dales I have been exploring, whose towns and cities I have visited, and whose boundless resources I have seen revealed, is no mere refuge for the destitute. It is a glorious second home for Englishmen, a country every way worthy of its illustrious parentage, and destined to take its place in the world as the England of the Pacific.
My object in this lecture is more especially to place New Zealand before the overweighted Middle-class population of England. A thousand times, as I have viewed the varied openings for skill and enterprise everywhere presented, the wish has risen in my breast, "Would that some hundreds of the hard-pressed middle classes of England could be persuaded to break away from their moorings, and following the example of the labourers, come over to this beautiful southern isle and enjoy its splendid advantages." My presence here to-night is an outcome of this aspiration. Much, I know, has already been said and written touching the sunny South. Very recently the versatile novelist, Mr. Anthony Trollope, has given us a deliverance on the subject. I have not read his book, as I prefer going to him for amusement to sitting at his feet for instruction.
is more than realized.
"Eight hours' work, and eight hoars' play,
Eight hours' sleep, and eight bob a day,"
Almost the first inquiry on the subject which I made on landing at Nelson, elicited the following facts :—A number of unskilled workmen, that is, mere shovel and pick men, engaged in removing soil from a hill side for harbour improvements had just successfully struck for an advance of one shilling a day upon a wage of eight shillings for eight hours' work! Here, then, was not only the "eight hours' work," and "eight bob a day," but another shilling, just half his old English total wage, into the bargain ! And if anything further was needed to prove the case as regarded the labouring man, it was only necessary to inquire as to what this fifty-four shillings per week really meant. If in New Zealand the man had to pay five shillings for what he could get in England for one, the case might not be so good after all, and it might be a moot question whether, to use a somewhat slang but expressive phrase, the game was really "worth the candle." But almost the first thing I inquired about,—the cost of living, revealed the somewhat startling fact that instead of the English shilling's worth costing five there, the five-shilling English leg of mutton could be bought in that very New Zealand town for one shilling. Nor were the other necessaries of life much less cheap. Bread and flour were about the same price as at home; sugar a trifle dearer, but decidedly better; tea the same price; fruits and vegetables were dear, except cherries, peaches, and potatoes. The former of these, cherries and peaches, were plentiful as blackberries all through the season, December and January. Nor was there any great difference in the prices of general drapery, clothing and boots. page 8 I was surprised at the similarity to English prices, and it seemed abundantly clear that in a few years' time trade competition would fully equalize them.
Here, then, as regarded the working man, the case was perfect. Never was social redemption more complete. He leaves England a social Pariah, and finds himself there a man. A stranger to a good dinner in the old home, he finds himself in the new one surfeited with food; the sport of circumstances, and the prey of parish-officers and recruiting-serjeants in England, he finds himself in Now Zealand an important factor in the social argument. I met one of them in a road at work one day, and, as was my wont, I at once accosted him. He had been out about three years. In England his average wage was twelve shillings per week. He had heard the voice of Joseph Arch, and had cast in his lot with the "National Agricultural Labourers' Union "; for this his employer had scowled upon him and wished him at the devil. Instead of gratifying the pious wish of his employer, a Kentish farmer, he availed himself of the generous offer of the New Zealand Government, and came out with a shipload of emigrants.
"And what do you get per week ?" I inquired.
"Two guineas, sir, all the year round," he replied.
"That's rather different from your old-country prospects," I suggested.
" Why yes, sir," he answered with a knowing turn of his head; "instead of a big house to look forward to in my old age, I have a little one, but then he's all my own."
" Oh, then you have already got a house of your own, have you ?" I put tentatively.
" Yes, sir," he answered, "there he be," pointing with his rake along the road to a pretty little verandahed cottage standing in a plot of ground by the road-side. "I am just adding a couple of rooms to him. Step up and have a look at un, sir."
I laughingly alluded to this letter in a subsequent gossip with this labourer, and his reply was pretty much to the point, "That feller, sir, couldn't 'a known what he were a saying." I am afraid, however, he did know, for, in spite of his anonymous signature, I detected in the scurrilous epistle the hand of a time-serving tradesman who took advantage of my absence from home to write what he would not have dared to utter to my face. Such men abound in our small towns, and are the anathema maranatha of every manly soul.
But as a middle-class Englishman, and painfully aware of the severe pressure to which multitudes were being subjected at home by the stagnation of trade and various other causes, I was especially anxious to ascertain how far New Zealand would meet their case. My presence here to-night in the altogether novel character of a public lecturer is for the purpose of laying before you, as I have already intimated, the results of my investigation and inquiries.
What are the chances or opportunities presented by New Zealand to the average middle-class capitalist, whether tradesman, manufacturer, or agriculturist? Is there a reasonable prospect of his reaping any substantial benefit from a removal to that distant colony? To these inquiries I now address myself with a determination to be as honest and impartial as I endeavoured to be while accompanying Mr. Arch on his mission of inquiry touching the noble colony of Canada. In the first place, then, I would clear the way by giving an opinion as to who should not emigrate. I was accosted by a smartly got-up young fellow on board a steamer one day, who wanted my opinion as to the prospects presented by New Zealand for clerks—bank clerks, and such-like. I replied, Utter ruin and self-destruction; and I repeat the verdict here. Such men are not wanted there. The peculiarities of colonial life are wholly unsuited to that artificial existence in which, for the most part, they live and move and have their being. Nor should fine young ladies, who are unused to domestic work, and whose heaven of heavens is a drawing-room couch with the latest novel before them, think of going to New Zealand.page 10
It is not my province here to-night to say what this sadly increasing section of our English society should do with themselves as a refuge from that blank despair which the state of the matrimonial market threatens a large proportion of them with. I can only say what they should not do, and that is, go to New Zealand. Alas, for such amid the exigencies of the life they would find there! True women are indeed needed in our colonies; and I know of no grander mission than his or hers would be who would organize some scheme for removing from the overcrowded English homes a few thousands of their energetic and bright-eyed daughters to the towns and farms of New Zealand. How much their beneficent ministry is needed there to counteract the deteriorating circumstances of the incessant toil no one who has visited the settlers' homes requires to be told. I am afraid schoolmasters and professionals of all kinds dare not entertain hopes of advancement from a removal to the Antipodes. So far as I could see, there is every prospect, thanks to the splendid public school system of the country, of the home supply for all the genteel professions greatly exceeding the demand. The suicidal vanity of bringing up children with a view to their wearing broadcloth and idling away their time behind bank counters or at lawyers' desks, is not confined to the mother country. The Mrs. Brown of a New Zealand city has much in common with her namesake at home. She is very apt to think that her Frederick, dressed like a gentleman and sporting a lot of jewellery, is a much finer sight than the same unique being would be at work behind his father's bench or guiding his father's plough.
I need not stop to indicate the utter ludicrousness of the bare idea of a Pall Mall exquisite finding himself in a colonial town. However desirable it might be for such idlers to quit their country for their country's good, they must not go to New Zealand. The paradise of the toiler would prove the purgatory of the self-indulgent idler.
There is one class, however, outside of the industrial, which I have often thought, while in New Zealand, might emigrate there with immense advantage. I refer to those who derive their modest incomes from investments in English stock. Take, for example, the case of a gentleman who is blessed with half a dozen lads, and whose fortune consists of £10,000 in the Three per Cents. He gets his £300 a year, and has to pinch in some quiet corner of the land to hold his own in society. Now let me place him in New Zealand. £8,000 he could invest on security almost equal to that of the English Three per Cents, at eight per cent., or, if he were of an enterprising page 11 disposition, he might get ten per cent. A gentleman, just before I left New Zealand, advertised £5,000 to let out 011 mortgage, and before six hours were passed he had found a perfectly safe investment at twelve per cent, per annum. I will, however, for the sake of argument, take the lower figure, eight per cent. This would give him an income of £640, and with the remaining £2,000 (less the amount spent in removal and outfit) he could buy a good home with from ten to twenty acres of land. Here would be occupation in the shape of a small farm, orchard, and garden. For £5 he could buy a milking cow, and other stock proportionately cheap. £400 would put him up a seven or eight-roomed house. I say nothing about the exquisite climate, for which he would exchange the bitter winds and gloomy atmosphere of England. You must go, as I have gone, and luxuriate in the delicious sunshine, to understand what that means. I have many times stood on a lofty New Zealand hill and felt how poor all the luxuries of home life were by comparison with the rich splendour of the glorious scene before me. Yonder were still loftier ranges of the everlasting hills, with their verdure-clad slopes revelling in the brilliant sunlight. Trickling at their base ran the sparkling mountain stream. All around were the paddocks dressed in living green. In the distance the huge flax-plants reared their handsome leaves, and here and there rose above them the graceful blossom of the pampas grass. Nearer at hand were laden cherry-trees and peaches hastening to maturity. To the left were a few acres of original bush, with here and there a grand old monarch of the forest rearing his proud head high above the rest; and last, though not least, you saw resting on the green turf one of these said lordly monarchs prostrate. His time had come, and with a thud which must have shaken the whole neighbourhood, the huge fellow had fallen to the earth.
I must not, however, allow myself to be carried away into the æsthetic. It is not sublime scenery that will tempt the cool, practical middle-class Englishman whom I wish to influence, to shift his moorings. I return, therefore, to plain bread-and-cheese considerations.
What has New Zealand to offer to the tradesman, the manufacturer, or the farmer? I think a fair chance of comfortable competency. My grounds for this belief are these:—Most of the tradesmen, manufacturers, and farmers already there either are doing well or have done well, and this in spite of sundry disadvantages under which the average middle-class Englishman would not lie. For instance, a large proportion of the prosperous New Zealanders were originally page 12 poor labouring men. They have gone plodding on year after year, but there has not been much spirit of enterprise among them. Comparatively few of the tradesmen import direct from the English, American, or Continental markets. They depend on middle-men, the merchants of the respective seaports. This places them at a great disadvantage. Their articles are too dear for general consumption or purchase, and hence you find hundreds of homes without conveniences and adornments which it should be the aim of the trader to supply. And so of the local manufactures. They are too elementary, and there are scores of new ones which might be opened up.
One of the most pressing needs of New Zealand just now is a development of manufacturing power. Few countries arc richer in raw material. I need scarcely refer to the immense wool growth. The fact that 64,481,324 lbs. were exported in the year 1877 eloquently pleads for men and machinery to work it up at home. Then the thousands of acres of flax running to waste call loudly for rope-manufactories and other means of utilizing this valuable article. On one farm which I visited there were scores of acres of ground covered over with splendid flax which the owner was burning off for want of a better use for it. The fine timber is in a fair way of being utilized for manufacturing purposes. At Auckland * and Dunedin there are large wood-ware manufactories, and what is still more significant, woollen manufactories are beginning to boo heard of. Of course a largo trade is done in tinned meats, upwards of 18,000 cwt. being exported in the year 1877; but why should there not be a New Zealand Cross & Blackwell's, a Huntley & Palmer's, and a thousand other manufactures, whereby the natural products of the soil could be utilized, and a better market be opened up for the produce of the farm? How infinitely preferable would be the life of the artisan under the glorious sunshine of New Zealand to that which he spends in the dirty, smoke-begrimed, and every way wretched and unwholesome working-class regions of Birmingham, Manchester, Bristol, or even London.
Few things are more striking to the New Zealand visitor than the difference between the morale of the artisan there and at home. In England he finds him habitually shabbily clothed, badly housed, and with a general air of malignant discontent hanging about him. His appearance too often page 13 after his clay's work is done, is that of a reckless, hopeless, ill-used individual, with a dirty short pipe in his month, and either on his way to the public-house or reeling home drunk therefrom. How different the appearance of the average New Zealand mechanic ! He has got a pretty little verandahed house of his own. A piano is heard in the "parlour." In the evening yon see him out for a walk with his well-dressed family. On Sunday "Mr. and Mrs. Brown" and their children occupy prominent seats at church, contributing probably more towards the "cause" than the average middle-class churchgoer in England. In a house where I stopped for a little while at a New Zealand city, a young man employed at some iron-works was boarding. He earned about 55s. per week and lived on 20s. An hour after he returned from the works he was dressed like a gentleman, and off for a ride on a handsome chestnut horse which he had bought. Another night he and his workmates would be taking half a dozen young ladies for a row in the harbour. I am afraid I should have to search very diligently at our manufacturing centres to find such a comfortably-circumstanced artisan.
I shall not soon forget the shock which I received while travelling through the "Black country" in 1873 on my way to Liverpool. 1 was going to Canada to see what hope there was there for half a million of English toilers whose lot seemed especially hard and trying. Alas ! as I looked out of the railway carriage windows on the revolting homes of the workers at Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and all along the route, I felt a kind of philanthropic despair. The mission to which I had devoted myself enlarged with an overwhelming ratio; and it was not until I had seen New Zealand that I dared hope for any real redemption for the British toilers. Now I see a door of hope. Beneath that sunny sky and amid the rich abundance of those fertile fields I am sure there is a happier life to be lived; and I shall experience a new joy in life if I am able to induce English capitalists to make it possible for tens of thousands of our working classes to go out and realize its bliss.
As for agriculture, thousands of our young farmers should take their capital and skill to New Zealand, and buying out the poor farmers who are scratching over their labour-starved acres, and getting a bushel of corn where they might take a sack, show what may be done amid such matchless natural advantages. At Nelson, for instance, a district generally pooh-poohed by the inhabitants of Canterbury or Otago, I could point out farms by the score which might be bought for from £500 to £2,000. Knowing people on the spot will tell page 14 you that the land is poor; but it is not the land but the farming which is at fault. Of the myriads of acres of hill and vale lying idle all along the Nelson district, I do not believe there is an acre which might not be made to yield either grass or corn or fruit. With a little pains and enterprise vast orchards might be developed all around. I have seen scores of cherry-trees which never had a care bestowed upon them, wild growths of the soil, laden with delicious fruit, fruit which if sent to the English market in some preserved condition would find a ready welcome. Where a hundredweight is now grown, a thousand tons might soon be grown. What a field for English market-gardeners! Fancy wild peaches growing in such profusion that pigs are fed upon them ! I have seen sacks-full carried off to the pigs, any one of which would have fetched threepence at least in Covent Garden market. What if hundreds of acres were covered with those trees instead of a score or two of square yards, and the pruning-knife applied and the gardener's skill introduced, and capital employed in seconding the efforts of nature! A second garden of Eden might be developed. The climate—I speak now more particularly of the Nelson district, with which I have made myself most familiar—the climate I say is simply perfect. Without the heat and liability to drought of the Australian colonies, there is yet an abundance of delicious warmth, tempered by sea or land breezes which make out-door work even in midsummer an actual delight. In winter, instead of the frost and snow of our Northern isle, grateful rains fall, to be stored up in Nature's reservoirs until the ensuing summer.
No condition of successful agriculture or horticulture is wanting. Well-made roads traverse the whole district, and for some thirty miles there is the additional advantage of railway communication. In other parts of New Zealand upwards of 1,000 miles of railway are open to the public, and probably nearly as much more is in course of construction.
In the North Island vast tracts of land are being surveyed with a view to English settlement which for richness and fertility surpass anything ever before offered to the public. I have no doubt, from all that I have heard and seen of those lands, that in proper hands they will become the most prosperous farms in New Zealand. The men who now buy them will in all probability become rich by the mere accretion of value year by year, just as the fortunate purchasers of the Canterbury plains on the South Island have done.
One very general idea respecting New Zealand should be at once got rid of. It is not barbarism that the Englishman is invited to. In a very literal sense, the schoolmaster is abroad, page 15 In the most remote districts there is the village school-house and a qualified State-paid teacher. At Nelson there is a college of a high order, and in each of the other leading cities there are educational advantages which leave nothing to ho desired in that direction. There are also all the other characteristics of an advanced civilization in New Zealand. At Wellington—the future London of the "England of the Pacific"—a steam tramway traverses the city; a fine Athenæum, with its public library and reading-rooms, adorns one of the leading streets; churches of more or less imposing structure are found all over the city, and there is all the bustle and stir of a thriving English seaport. The same also may be said of Dunedin, Christchurch, and Auckland. One of the most beautiful churches which I have ever seen was the Knox Presbyterian Church of the former city, and at Christchurch there is a perfect plethora of sacred edifices. In all these cities you find every requisite for, and characteristic of, the most refined society. The principal book-shops are miniature British Museums. I know of no such immense stores of literature as you find in them. The total value of the books imported during the year 1877 was no less than £118,707!
Then there is a singularly perfect telegraph system all over the country. In the most remote districts you see the magic wires running along, and can flash your commands at will. I was visiting a settler some five-and-twenty miles from a city early in this year, and, although miles away from even a country village, I both received and answered a telegraphic message sent from a city 150 miles off. The best idea that I can give of this fine service will be conveyed by the eloquence of figures. During the year 1877 no less than 1,182,955 messages were sent over the 7,530 miles of wire, and from the 3,307 telegraphic stations of New Zealand; and the cost of the same was £85,589. 8s. Nor is the Post-office service less wonderful in its efficiency and universality. The total number of letters received by the various offices during the year 1877 was 7,119,765, and the number despatched was 5,935,105. The total number of newspapers received was 4,805,785, and the total number despatched 3,260,526. The total revenue derived from this service amounted to £143,600. 1s. 5d. If it be borne in mind that the population of New Zealand, exclusive of the Maoris, on the 31st December, 1877, was only 417,622—about the same, I suppose, as that of either Manchester or Birmingham—a tolerably clear conception of the commercial and intellectual vigour of the colony will be obtained. If it were not for the fear of wearying you with statistics, I should like to have further strengthened my case page 16 here by a reference to the Post-office savings' banks. Let it suffice that on the 31st December, 1877, there were no less than 28,761 open accounts, and a grand total of £767,375. 17s. 8d. standing to the credit of the depositors, giving an average to each depositor of £26. 13s. 7d.
All this I take to mean civilization, and if it were necessary to add anything further to the story, I should only tell you of the £78,332 worth of beer, the £95,382 worth of wine, and the £254,117 worth of spirits imported by the colonists during the year to satisfy their thirst. A people that could dispose of this prodigious quantity of strong drink must be highly civilized indeed.
It will relieve your patience somewhat, as well as illustrate my case, if I now place before you two photographs, as it were, of middle-class English settlers in New Zealand. I sought out two thoroughly representative cases—one of a recent settler, and the other of an old one—and paid them both a visit. It is a question often asked in England, and rarely satisfactorily answered, "What sort of chance of success does an English tradesman stand who goes in for farming in New Zealand? "I remember proposing a question of this kind to one of the shrewdest and best-informed men in Toronto, the Hon. George Brown, proprietor of the Toronto Globe, and being somewhat startled by his reply. "A better one," said he, "than that of an English farmer." "How so?" I asked. "Why simply because in the one case there would be a disposition to learn all the peculiarities of colonial agriculture, whereas in the other there is always found an invincible cleaving to English customs, which is sure to lead to failure."
The cases to which I am about to refer bear out Mr. Brown's deliverance. The two settlers whom I visited had both been English tradesmen. The first had been a boot and shoe manufacturer, and the other an ironmonger. It was on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, sometime in February last, that I accepted an invitation to take a ride out to a lone farmhouse situated far away in the mountainous regions of the Nelson district. On either side of our well-made road scenery of the most romantic kind was continually being revealed. On the right, at a distance of some two or three miles a huge mountain chain stretched along, and rising up behind it were the lofty tops of other and still higher mountain-ranges. Dotting these verdure-clad slopes were thousands of sheep. The intervening space constituted the cultivated lands of the respective settlers, whose homesteads were situated therein. On our left similar high hills alternated with well fenced-in page 17 paddocks, while in front of us, at a great distance, towered up immense mountains covered with primeval bush. We found our worthy host in a well-built house, nestling down at the base of these hills. Encircling the tastefully-built home was a belt of poplar-trees, enclosing some four or five acres. Within this outer row of poplars was a row of cherry-trees, and scattered about over the enclosed area were numberless apple, pear, plum, and peach-trees. The farm buildings were a few hundred yards off, and stretching away for a considerable distance to right and left were the fields which, with the surrounding hills, constituted the well-to-do settler's domain. As we entered the gate and walked up to the house there stood the hale and hearty looking ex-shoemaker under the verandah, ready to extend to us a true colonial welcome. It was not long before I had the history of this successful man, and I think if under any possible circumstances it were lawful for a man to indulge in a little self-laudation it was lawful in his case. Some twenty-five or thirty years before he had left England a comparatively poor man. His capital consisted of about £200, which he had invested in leather cut up to the sizes requisite for shoe soles. On arriving in New Zealand he at once commenced business as a boot and shoe maker. Success attended him until he was able to avail himself of the cheap lands being offered by Government with a view to an extension of the boundary of civilization. Possessed of his land he at once commenced planting, and hence the fine belt of poplars and the numberless fruit-trees on his estate. The gist of the whole story was just this—the right man had got hold of a good thing, and his common sense and industry had enabled him to turn it all to good account.
And that selfsame good thing is what I am here to put before you. What that honest cordwainer has done a thousand Englishmen might go and do to-morrow. I do not say that anyone could achieve such a success, but I know sufficient of the middle-class population of England to feel sure that a very large proportion of them might go forth to those New Zealand solitudes, and by patient, plodding industry, secure to themselves a home and a competency, if not a fortune. Observing a young lad of fifteen or sixteen approaching the house on horseback the settler said:—"Yonder is one of my sons just returned from College. I want to give him the best education within my power, and so he goes every day to Nelson College." Here was a still more pleasing fact. The father probably had never been to more than an old woman's day-school such as we all remember in our childhood, but which, thank God, are now becoming increasingly scarce. page 18 But with a most laudable anxiety, ho consecrates a portion of his hardly-acquired wealth to the securing to his boy that which as far transcends gold in value as the joyous life of the New Zealand settler transcends the revolting monotony and the laborious trifling called life of a large proportion of the English well-to-do classes.
As I turned my back on that fine two thousand acre farm and its radiant-faced owner I seemed to have a view opened up to me of New Zealand possibilities which I earnestly hoped I might one day have an opportunity of spreading out before those hardly bestead men of my acquaintance in the old country. At that time I did not expect, at any rate for some years, to have that privilege, but in the wondrous evolutions of that Good Providence whose guidance I thankfully acknowledge, I am hero within six months of the visit, brought safely over the intervening fifteen thousand miles of sea. If I am addressing any overweighted man hero to-night, in view of the ever-increasing worry and anxiety of his present lot, consequent on the overcrowding of this little isle and the severity of business competition, I would simply ask him to "look on this picture and on that."
My other illustration is of a wholly different character, but I think it will be of even more real use in the elucidation of my subject.
About two years ago a Berkshire tradesman of my acquaintance, feeling himself somewhat overborne with business and domestic cares, determined to dispose of his concern and go with his large family to New Zealand. I resolved on looking him up as soon as I reached the locality of his choice. I found him just entered upon a thousand acre farm in the Nelson district, some twenty miles beyond the city, bushwards. The farm consisted of two-thirds of fern-clothed hill land, and one-third of valley, thickly studded over with wild vegetation—manuka, flax, sweet-briar, &c. About a hundred acres only wore in actual cultivation. Some two hundred and fifty sheep were feeding on the hills, and a score of young cattle grazed in the plains. The greater part of my friend's family remained at Nelson. One youth had found work in an engineering establishment, and was taking a salary of pretty well £150 a-year. Another was in a house of business at a good salary. A third had developed an old love of carpentering, and was earning over a couple of pounds a week with his saw and plane. One or two more were equally industriously employed, and a nice little nest-egg had each of them already in the Nelson Savings' Bank.
Seated at my friend's hospitable table, I asked him how page 19 the change had on the whole turned out, was he satisfied with the general outlook? His answer was prompt, explicit, and decisively affirmative. He was supremely happy in his lot. The outdoor labour restored tone to his jaded nerves. The glorious sunshine made existence a delight, and living for the most part on the products of his farm, the problem of life was simplified.
And as I accompanied him into his orchard and joined him in partaking of nature's bounteous feast in the shape of cherries, gooseberries, &c.; and then mounting one of his horses, accompanied him over his extensive domain—now riding over a high hill, then passing through a kind of gorge where ferns of every kind flung their graceful leaves all around us, the luxuriant vegetation forming a charming archway and protection from the sun, I began to understand his enthusiastic delight. Verily ho had indeed made a good exchange! When I had years before visited him in his old English home I had often felt grieved at his aged, careworn aspect. The battle was far too severe for him. Now a glorious sense of relief was visible. The humanities within him began to have play. He could join in the merry laugh. Life was no longer that joy-murdering harassment which it was wont to be, but a blessed thing every way worthy of Him who was its source, and of that glorious immortality towards which it leads. Again, I say, in view of the growing anxieties of English middle-class life, "look on this picture and on that."
I spoke of New Zealand in the commencement of my lecture as the Englishman's second home. I used that expression advisedly. It is emphatically English. Everywhere and on all hands the Englishman feels at home. All the associations are home-like. The people all have the comfortable home look. They all talk of England as home. Our good Queen is their much-loved Sovereign. The highest ambition of every one, next to his gaining paradise, is to visit the dear old homo some time. Every shock felt in England thrills through the whole colonial soul. When the news of the death of the estimable Princess Alice was flashed across the main there was a universal sense of bereavement. I was in a Congregational Church one Sunday morning when the sad announcement was made, and even now I feel moved by the remembrance of the sympathetic thrill which went through that audience.
The prevailing tone of thought too is English. Even the foibles of the good colonists smack of the old home. There are the same hair-splittings in theology, and the same worship of a Shibboleth. In a remote New Zealand village I found no less than five places of public worship. There were Plymouth page 20 brethren and Plymouth brethren—Darbyites and Newtonians, just as one finds here in England. Dear, good souls, there they were looking at one another askance just as you may see them at Clifton and elsewhere—the follower of Darby not daring to worship with the follower of Newton because forsooth the said Newton was supposed to have broached some heretical theory touching our Lord's humanity. Another very important consideration is that the climate is essentially English, a vastly improved English of course, but still essentially our own. The English child thrives in it as he cannot in the Australias, or India, or the Cape, or even in Canada. I happened to be at Christchurch on a public holiday, and as I left the station a long procession of school children passed by on their way to some picnic in the neighbourhood. I carefully noted their appearance, and was not more struck with their neat attire than with their hearty, healthy looks.
If I might be allowed the expression I should describe the New Zealand climate, especially that of the Nelson district, as a kind of glorified English.
"To sit on rocks, to muse o'er flood and fell,
To slowly trace the forest's shady scene,
Where things that own not man's dominion dwell,
And mortal foot hath ne'er or rarely been;
To climb the trackless mountain all unseen,
With the wild flock that never needs a fold;
Alone o'er steeps and foaming falls to lean;
This is not solitude—'tis but to hold
Converse with Nature's charms and view her stores unrolled."
I never felt less lonely. Naturally timid, and of a highly nervous temperament, I never used to feel alarmed, although surrounded with all the circumstances which might be expected to inspire such an emotion. I confess this has often occasioned me surprise. As I have looked forth from the door of my lonely shanty on a dark night when nothing was visible but the dim outlines of the all-surrounding hills, and no sound was to be heard save the cry of the wild fowl or the tinkling bell of the wandering kine, I have wondered at my insensibility to alarm or fear of any kind.
This is rather an important consideration, as I am con-page break page 22
A few words as to the journey out to New Zealand and I have done.
This is after all the great bugbear—the 15,000 miles of sea. Tens of thousands of Englishmen would at this moment be enjoying the advantages of a New Zealand life but for the intervening sea. They cannot face the dangers of the deep. I wish to strip this bugbear of its terrors. After travelling some 50,000 miles by sea, I give it as my decided opinion that on board such magnificent vessels as are the great steamers which now traverse the mighty deep there is no more real danger than there is in an ordinary train on an English railway. To such mathematical accuracy has the whole science of navigation been brought, that a captain of an ocean steamer as well knows the route he should take, and the exact spot in which he is either by day or by night, as does the driver of a Great Western Railway engine. And as for the discomforts of a sea-voyage, I suppose no one is more susceptible to these than myself, for no one, I think, can be a worse sailor. I must, however, declare them to be ten times worse in imagination than in reality. My voyages to and from New Zealand have not left an unpleasant remembrance behind them, and my reminiscences of four Atlantic trips are all more or less pleasurable. Of course you have much to put up with. It would be simply idiotic for a man to expect all the comforts of a more or less luxurious home on board ship.
"I'm on the sea ! I'm on the sea !
I am where I would ever be,
With the blue above, and the blue below,
And silence wheresoe'er I go.
* * * *
I love, O how I love to ride
On the fierce, foaming, bursting tide;
page 23 When every mad wave drowns the moon,
Or whistles aloft his tempest tune;
And tells how goeth the world below,
And why the Sou'-west blast doth blow.
I never was on the dull tame shore
But I loved the great sea more and more;
And backward flew to her billowy breast,
Like a bird that seeketh its mother's nest."
"Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's Form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed, in breeze or gale, or storm;
Icing the Pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime;
The image of Eternity; the throne
Of the Invisible; e'en from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone."
"Two things break the monotony,
Of an Atlantic trip;
Sometimes alas ! we ship a sea,
And sometimes see a ship,"
"How poor, how rich, how abject, how august,
How complicate, how wonderful is man!"
was hardly more than prosaic matter of fact. Verily the splendid triumph seemed worthy of a God.
"Distinguished link in being's endless chain!
Midway from nothing to the Deity!
A beam ethereal, sullied and absorpt!
Though sullied and dishonoured, still divine!
Dim miniature of greatness absolute!
An heir of glory ! a frail child of dust!
Helpless immortal! insect infinite!
A worm! a god!"
And then the varied objects of interest along the route. On the outward journey you stop at St. Vincent, one of the Capo de Verd islands, while coal is shipped on board; and further on you have an opportunity of seeing the celebrated African seaport of Cape Town. You find yourself furnished with an opportunity of studying the manners and customs of the natives, and scores of naked youths astonish you with their diving feats. You throw your sixpences over the ship's sides, and in a moment half a score of darkies are out of their canoe into the watery deep, and almost before your hand is in your pocket again, a grinning youth shows you the glistening coin between his pearly teeth. Then the great Australian cities dawn upon you. Adelaide is first reached, and a small steam-tug takes you to the port where a railway of some seven or eight miles lands you in the beautiful capital of South Australia. Here, as you gaze upon the splendid buildings and walk the noble streets, you begin to understand the grandeur of our Colonial empire. A three or four days' further sail brings you to the capital of Victoria, and as you make your way by boat and rail to Melbourne and find yourself amid the busy activities of that mighty city, you realize that the boast of your favourite song, "An Englishman," is more than justified. The bustling wharves; the crowded streets; the spacious stores; the noble town-hall; the gorgeous public buildings; the handsome churches, and all the varied proofs of abundance which meet you at every turn, overwhelm you with astonishment and make you rejoice that it is a part of the British Empire you are in.
And so of Sydney, with its matchless harbour, and the New Zealand ports, as one by one they pass before your eye. A new world opens up to you, and the horizon of your vision is permanently enlarged.page 25
My task is now done. I fear I may have wearied you, though the effort to condense into one lecture so great a subject has necessarily left it sadly imperfect. To those desirous of fuller information I would recommend an exceedingly valuable paper on New Zealand which has been compiled by Sir Julius Vogel, the Agent-General in Great Britain, than whom I suppose no man living is better acquainted with New Zealand, and whose immense services to the colony I have heard mentioned with enthusiastic admiration by all classes of New Zealanders and in all parts of the islands.
I have not touched upon the form of government prevailing, as I take it everyone now pretty well knows the broad and liberal political basis upon which our Colonial Empire rests. Nothing can be more satisfactory. Every right of manhood is respected. A road, broad, straight and clear is placed before every honest, industrious citizen, along which he may travel either to commercial prosperity or senatorial fame. I have repeatedly dined with colonial magnates who left England poor labouring men. More than half the rich colonists with whom I have journied to and from New Zealand have risen from poverty. I could occupy your attention by the hour with the various stories of their lives. With one of these stories I now conclude my lecture.
On my voyage out last autumn I found myself strongly drawn towards a noble-looking New Zealand farmer, who, with his wife, was returning home after a six months' visit to the Old Home. I soon had the history of his life. He was a Yorkshireman. Five-and-thirty years ago he was a labourer at 15s. a week on a Yorkshire farm. His employer gave him notice one week of his intention to reduce this modest wage to 12s. 6d. At this the stalwart hind revolted. He would go abroad first. He went; first to Australia, and afterwards to New Zealand. Success attended him, and now he had been home and offered £7,000 for the very farm on which he had worked as a common labourer.
I need add nothing to that story. If toiling Englishmen with little but the workhouse before them, and tradesmen whose lives are one long battle with pecuniary difficulties, and farmers whose inadequate capital is yearly becoming more and more unequal to the strain imposed upon it by the increasing cost of production, and the diminishing value of the produce, hear not the call which it addresses to them, "neither would they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
* A company has just been formed at Auckland with a capital of £120,000 to develope a saw-mill, sash and door manufactory. The mills will turn out 15,000,000 ft. annually. There is also a sash and door manufactory at Aratapu employing 300 hands.