The New Zealand Evangelist
New Zealand Versus California
New Zealand Versus California.
Mr. Y.—Well Mr. Z., are you still thinking of going to California?
Mr. Z.—Why, I am thinking very seriously about it indeed. The accounts are all so encouraging.
Mr. Y.—But do you not think that, taking everything into account, you would be better to remain where you are?
Mr. Z.—I don't think so. You see this place is done.
Mr. Y.—Credulous people would think so; I have heard that cuckoo-song for the last seven years; and yet, in spite of winds, wars, and earthquakes, it lingers out a somewhat vigorous existence still.
Mr Z.—But you see that, as soon as the government expenditure is withdrawn, the place must go down.
Mr. Y.—Every infant cries when it is weaned; but the weaning, though a painful, is rarely a dangerous process. The government expenditure has been like its mother's milk to this infant colony; and now that the weaning process is being commenced, we may expect to hear a good deal of childish screaming; but when once it feels that it must betake itself to other kinds of support, like other infants it will soon become stronger and-happier than ever.
Mr. Z.—But the infant, as you call it, has no other page 312 support to take. We are producing nothing. We have no exports, and consequently as soon as our money is done, the place is done. And it is of no use to stop here till we have eaten up every thing, and have nothing left to take us away.
Mr. Y.—I know many say the same thing. But I think the conclusion is hasty: because the infant is not a man, and cannot support himself, we do not conclude that he will never be a man; if he is healthy and growing we are perfectly satisfied. Now this infant Colony, I am certain, is both healthy and growing; it has in it all the elements of a healthy prosperity, if these were only developed.
Mr. Z.—It may be so. I would rather see them than hear of them.
Mr. Y.—It is easier to state them than to shew them, but I think both may be done. The climate is most healthy. There is less mortality and sickness here than is to be found in perhaps any place on the face of the globe. In Wellington, during the past year, the births have been five times more than the deaths. In England the proportion of deaths is nearly three times, and in the United States nearly four times greater than in this province. And your favourite California is said, by those who have been there, to be very subject to ague, and far from being a healthy climate; and you know life and health cannot be purchased even with gold.
Mr. Z.—Every one knows that this is a healthy climate: but what of that, if we have nothing to eat. We are not cameleons; we cannot live upon air.
Mr. Y.—But do you not see that the soil is as productive as the climate is salubrious. Even in the town of Wellington, where the soil is the poorest and the situation the most exposed of any in New Zealand, every garden that is cultivated with any thing like ordinary care, produces most abundantly; and in all the rich and sheltered soils, it requires only the hand of man to draw forth their fertility— and then observe that a fertile soil lasts for ever; it is as rich next year as this; but there is only one crop of gold, and the country is really done.page 313
Mr. Z.—There is no doubt but the soil is very productive. It is a good country for a few small farmers; but these will never support and enrich a country, unless we have some staple exports. Look at the Australian Colonies, how they have got on by their wool, and flour, and other articles; but we have nothing here worth speaking of.
Mr. Y.—It appears to me that a very common mistake is committed in relation to our exports; exports are not created in a day; time must be allowed before the resources of a country can be developed.
Mr. Z.—True, but here we have been for ten long years, and yet what can we export? Some of the Australian Colonies were not four years in existence till they were exporting largely.
Mr. Y.—That may all have been. The oak is a slow growing tree; but that does not prove that it is less valuable than those of the most rapid growth. Let us just look at the progress we have made for these ten years. You had good hopes of New Zealand then. It is certainly no worse than it was ten years ago. Besides, this country properly speaking is only four years old; it is not that time since we got our land. If we are not exporting much, we are fast ceasing to import; the tide is turning at least in our favour. We have ceased importing cattle; we have now £100,000 worth of cattle in this province. Again, look at the land that has been bought—the land cleared, the land cultivated, the houses erected, the vessels built, the roads made, the country opened up, the knowledge of the native character we possess,—of the country, of the coasts, of the soil, of the seasons, &c., &c.; all these are capital, and will yearly increase our wealth. I say nothing of the flax, so unexhaustible and coming so fast into importance; or of the two vessels filling with exports for England just now; or the four that may be expected next year. If you go to California, you throw away a great amount of your knowledge, and must begin the world very much anew.
Mr. Z.—I do not mean to say that people may not page 314 live here, but that this country will never come to any thing; or at least it will be a very long time before it does do so.
Mr. Y.—Every country has its own peculiar advantages. Some places, it is said, will produce men that will grow nothing else. From the physical conformation of this country, and the circumstances under which its colonization commenced, it is more likely to produce a numerous, active, enterprizing, intelligent, and highly civilized race of inhabitants, than multitudinous ship-loads of wool, tallow, and bullocks horns; but as Providence sends two hands into the world for every mouth, I see no reason to fear that such a population will ever starve in New Zealand. Working and wanting will hardly ever be found here both together.
Mr. Z.—I think a man may get food and clothing here; but after one has left home, and come out to a new country, it is hard to be struggling away as much nearly as at home, and get no provision made for his family, especially when he can better his circumstances. Now by going to California there is no doubt but a man may very soon make something handsome.
Mr. Y.—Gloomy as your views are of this country, I think it will bear being looked at, even on its most doubtful points, without injury to its character. You admit that the climate is healthy, and the soil fertile.
Mr. Z.—There is no doubt of that, but still it will ever be a poor country.
Mr. Y.—I question very much if you will find less poverty any where than you will find among the New Zealand Colonists, at least in this settlement. There is not, I believe, a pauper in the community. And I never knew a place where so many poor men have become rich as have done so here. I could name, I think, some scores who had not more than a few shillings when they landed, and who never were worth five pounds in their life; who in money, cattle, and other property, are now worth hundreds of pounds each, and some of them worth thousands; and there page 315 are scores of others who might have been equally successful but for their intemperate habits.
Mr. Z.—It is all very true, but see how many of those who brought money here have been ruined.
Mr. Y.—You were not one of those. Besides that was not the country's fault; and the land-question, the native disturbances, and other drawbacks, so disastrous in the early stages of the colony, are all now settled.
Mr. Z.—But California must be a first-rate place; you see how they are crowding to it from all countries.
Mr. Y.—That is just one principal reason why I would be unwilling to go to it. The grand ruling, absorbing passion there is gold-hunting,—money-making. You may, although it is far from certain, make a fortune; but gold is valuable only so far as it can procure the necessaries and comforts of life. You will find much awanting there. You will be solitary amid a multitude of strangers. You can have little or no society; life and property will be very insecure,—no education for your children, and no religious ordinances for yourselves. In this colony, almost every one finds himself among friends,—life and property are as secure as in any part of the British Empire,—and the means of education are rapidly increasing. In this province there are upwards of thirty Protestant Ministers, representing in fair proportions all the leading denominations, one half and more of whose labours are devoted to the colonists; and although there is among them neither a bishop nor a docter of divinity, they possess at least an average professional standing. These are known and certain advantages; but the gold of California lies scattered in the diggings.
Mr. Z.—What you say is all correct; but if one can get plenty of gold, it is amazing what it will procure; and when I have got enough, I can come back here you know, or else go home.
Mr. Y.—When would you have enough! Mr. Z., I am rather surprised at you. You have a wife and page 316 family; you profess to respect and value religion: you can by lawful industry have all in this country that you can obtain any where on earth, and perhaps in larger proportions. Will you enjoy better health or longer life in California than here? The very opposite is highly probable. Will you be better fed, clothed, and sheltered, in California than here? It is next to certain that you will be greatly worse in these respects. Will your life and property be equally secure? The arm of justice will long be weak there. Will your labour be less? Will your society be more select? If sickness overtake you, will you have equal help or sympathy? No such hope can be entertained. How will you get your children educated? What pleasure will your gold afford you, if your children grow up to man and womanhood more ignorant than the maories? You believe as a Christain [sic: Christian] that happiness is essentially connected with holiness. Is the principle of holiness so strong in you, as to stand in little or no need of the means of grace? I fear much that the thirst for gold, you have already manifested, argues strongly to the contrary. As a friend, I would advise you to think over the matter. There is more at stake than you imagine. You know how you are, but you do not know how you may be. Do not risk so much; do not lose so much, without being certain that you will secure more. To be very plain, my opinion is, that if you and some more of you, would join the Total Abstinence Society, keep the pledge, and apply your mind earnestly to your business, you would find gold lying beneath your feet; you would get rich far sooner here than you are likely to do there; and you would have all the other advantages into the bargain.
Mr. Z.—I am certainly obliged to you for your friendly advice, and I shall think about it.