The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29
Statement of the Estimated Average Yield, Per Statute Acre, of the Principal Corn Crops and of Potatoes, in Imperial Bushels, in Various Foreign Countries
Statement of the Estimated Average Yield, Per Statute Acre, of the Principal Corn Crops and of Potatoes, in Imperial Bushels, in Various Foreign Countries.
|Countries.||Date of Returns.||Wheat.||Barley.||Oats.||Rye.||Beans and Peas.||Maize.||Potatoes.|
You will not be surprised to learn that to make such land accessible, has first and last been the primary public object of the colonists. The construction of ordinary roads was naturally the first means adopted for opening up communication. It early dawned upon the people that metalled roads, costing a great deal for annual repair, and affording only slow transit, were deficient in economy as compared with light and cheaply constructed railways. It was not, however, until 1870, that any comprehensive and large scheme for the construction of railways was adopted. At that time the colonists were compelled to seriously examine their position. The mother-country had withdrawn all her troops and left the colonists, owning but a mere fringe of settlement round the North Island, to keep in check the natives, with whom over a series of years there had been more or less constant fighting. It became evident that the most ordinary precaution for the safety of the colonists demanded a large increase of white population, the opening of roads into the interior of the North Island, and the means to em ploy the natives on peaceful instead of warlike pursuits. Equally, the growing value of the agricultural and pastoral pursuits of the people of the South Island made it evident that light railways would prove of the greatest benefit to them. And so what is known as the Immigration and Public Works policy grew into life. It was resolved to borrow money to make roads in the North Island, to make railways in both islands, and to introduce immigrants. It page 32 was argued that so long as with the increase of the land opened to settlement there was a concurrent increase of population to occupy and work it, there could not be a mistake. No doubt it was a bold policy: it was a policy virtually forced on the Colony by the abandonment of the mother-country of the duties it had contracted by the Treaty of Waitangi. That the remedy of the colonists was in opening up the land and increasing the population, was recognised by the Government of this country, for after great reluctance they passed through Parliament a Bill authorising an Imperial guarantee to be given to a million sterling of Colonial debentures. All doubts as to the soundness of the policy are at rest. Already it has been found necessary to make the railways fifty per cent, more substantial than was at first contemplated. The value of private property in the country has much more than doubled. The value of the public estate has equally advanced. Till lately land was to be bought from five shillings an acre to £2. At the session of Parliament just concluded, an Act was passed by which henceforth, wherever land is open to selection the price shall not be less than £2, nor where it is put up to auction shall the upset price be less than £1. Excepting Canterbury, where the price has always been £2 an acre, this means a very large increase, in my opinion an increase more than equal to the whole cost of the railways, roads, and immigration. Before the present year expires, 1,000 miles of railway will be opened in the Colony, and this has nearly all been constructed since 1870. There have been besides 2,800 miles of roads made, chiefly through native districts; nearly 90,000 immigrants have been introduced; 8,260 miles have been added to the telegraph lines, and native lands to the value of about three-quarters of a million have been purchased. It scarcely need be said that the policy which led to these results was fiercely canvassed, and by many bitterly opposed.
But if there were opponents there were also friends. The opposition of the one was more than counterpoised by the enthusiasm of the other. There were men whose lifelong dream it had been to see such a policy worked out, and they aided it with might and main. The bitterest opponents have lived to recognise the value of the work. There is no one now, I think, who questions that the Colony was wise, and is wise, in constructing railways and acquiring population. There may be differences of opinion as to the routes, and as to the ports which should claim the first attention, but not as to the value of the railways themselves, and to the capability of the Colony to support page 33 them. The colonists are, in short, determined to open up the country, and to make it the home of many times its present population. There are many and warm differences of opinion on various subjects, but as to this one there is unanimity of feeling.
The Colonial Treasurer stated last session "that up to the end of June, 1877, the gross public debt of the Colony, general and provincial, including treasury bills, when the balances of all loans now authorised are raised, will be £20,895,811. As against this debt, we had a balance of £980,189 13s. 1d. at credit of the Public Works Account on 80th June, £35,416 18s. 9d. at credit of the Defence Loan Account, and accrued Sinking Funds amounting to £1,353,562 2s. 10d." He went on to say: "It may, perhaps, be interesting to state the purposes for which the several loans, general and provincial, which constitute our national debt have been raised, and the amount applied to each. I have ascertained, by an examination of the several Loan Acts, that those purposes and amounts may be classified thus: About £8,300,000 has been spent upon railways, £3,500,000 on immigration, £4,400,000 on harbours, lighthouses, public buildings, roads, bridges, and other public works for opening up the country; £1,800,000 in the purchase of native lands, including the payment of the debt to the New Zealand Company; £2,000,000 in the suppression of the native outbreak, and the remaining £500,000 on miscellaneous purposes." This estimate only charges to the native outbreak the exact amount for war purposes. A large amount from the other items might be set down as expenditure directly necessitated by the former relations between the two races.
The Colonial Treasurer who subsequently succeeded to office did not impugn these figures, though he differed somewhat with his predecessor as to the mode of dealing with the finance. He considered that the floating debt should be added to the permanent debt, and that the revenue should be augmented by further taxation if necessary. In the meantime, he added to it by colonialising the land fund. That is to say, he added the land fund, which was hitherto specially set apart for different purposes, to the consolidated revenue, less 20 per cent, to be paid over to local bodies. The consolidated revenue will be increased by this operation, not of course to the full extent of the amount added, as some of the charges on the land fund will devolve on the consolidated revenue, but nevertheless the last-named revenue will be considerably increased. To compare the public debt of New Zealand with the public debt of a country from which the cost of railways, page 34 harbours, roads, and bridges is excluded, is absolutely unfair. If to the public debt of this country the cost of works analogous to those on which the public debt of New Zealand has been expended be added, the result will be, on the average burden per head of population, or indeed on any other basis, largely in favour of the Colony. I say any other basis, because in my opinion the basis of the burden per head of population is a most deceptive and fallacious one.
This subject is one to which I have given a great deal of attention, and I will ask your permission to read some remarks upon it which I made in 1873:—
"So much has been said of the amount of our debt and the manner in which it presses upon population, that I shall ask the House to allow mo to make some observations upon the subject.
"There are four ways of estimating a nation's indebtedness, namely: —(1) Estimating the gross amount of indebtedness. (2) The gross annual interest. (3) The amount of interest payable per head of population. (4) The percentage or proportion which the annual interest bears to the gross income of the population. The first is the system commonly adopted in England; but it leaves out the important elements of the annual charge upon the population and of the means of the population to meet that charge. It also leaves out the rate of interest. It may be better to have a nominal debt of larger amount, if the annual burden is smaller on account of the lower rate of interest. The second is the mode commonly adopted on the Continent. It gives a more accurate idea of the nature of a country's burdens; but still it leaves out of the question the amount of the population, and the means of the population, upon which the taxation falls. The third mode gives a nearer insight into the incidence of the burden which a debt devolves upon a people; but still it is wanting in the great clement of the means of a people to bear such burden. The fourth mode remedies this, for it strikes at the very root of the matter. It shows not only the annual indebtedness, but the proportion which that annual indebtedness bears to the means of the people to meet it. In the observations I am making I am very much indebted to the 'Manual on National Debts,' published by Mr. Dudley Baxter. I quote his words upon the subject:—
"' The only correct method of comparing the burdens on different nations is by a comparison of the percentages of their incomes. Although the estimates of income may be approximations rather than accurate calculations, they afford on the whole a truer estimate of the burden of debts and taxation, than calculations founded on page 35 population in which considerations of relative income are entirely left out.'"
Mr. Baxter estimated that the annual income of the people in the United Kingdom in 1867 was 800 millions. It is now estimated to be 1,200 millions sterling, showing an increase of 50 per cent. The average income per head of population in 1867 was about £25; it is now £86, or rather, perhaps I should say, that is the computation supposing, which is unfortunately not the case, that the working classes are receiving an average amount of employment. However, let us suppose the average earnings last year to be £36. The average burden of the public debt was at the same time about 16s. 6d., which gives us 2.3 as the percentage which the annual burden of the debt per head bears to the annual earnings. Careful calculations made by a Royal Commission in the Colony showed that the average earnings of the people of New Zealand in 1865 was £78 per head. I have no means of making a fresh calculation for the present period, but certainly it is not too much to consider that the increase has been 50 per cent. Indeed, this increase is moderate when one considers the rise in the value of the property, and the results from accumulated profits. We have thus an annual income head of £117. The burden of the debt on the 30th June last per was £2 6s. per head of population, exclusive of the Maoris, which gives 2 as the percentage the debt bears to the earnings, as against 2.8 in the United Kingdom. But in the latter case the debt does not represent railways, roads, harbour works, docks, schools, asylums, prisons, &c. To make the comparison they should be added, and they amount to more than the whole national debt, so that, for the purposes of comparison, the percentage of burden has to be doubled. The railways in this country, being longer established, are, it is true, a little more remunerative, but against this we may place the burden of pauperism, which, capitalised, amounts to more than a fourth of the national debt. When, too, it is considered that in the Colony wealth is much more evenly distributed, whilst here there are immense numbers of paupers and a few enormously rich men, who equally, for the purpose of considering the average power of the population to bear taxation, might be eliminated from consideration, we may understand how light the average burdens of the Colony are to its population as compared with those of the United Kingdom. Again, it has to be remembered that in the United Kingdom there is not the land revenue which comes to the relief of the Colonial burdens. Bents, too, and what may be called household taxes, are greatly in excess here of what they are in the Colony. These page 36 estimates may appear to you exaggerated, but in reality they are not, and they represent and explain the vast advantage which the working and middle classes in the Colony have over the same classes in this country in regard to their present comforts and future prospects.
As to the ability of the people of New Zealand to meet their loan liabilities, it is utterly absurd to question it. It may be desirable or necessary to increase the taxation; for obvious reasons this is a political question on which I express no opinion. But I may say, that beyond all doubt the people can bear whatever extra burdens it may be necessary to impose on them. If any tax in this country were abolished and the revenue showed a deficiency to the extent of the tax, and the expenditure required the tax to be made good, all that could be said would be that the taxpayers had saved paying the tax, but owed the money. If the taxation in New Zealand is not sufficient, it will have to be made so. There has been no material increase of taxation since 1870. At a moderate estimate the people are twice as wealthy, in my opinion many times more wealthy. They can afford to pay five shillings where they paid one before. I know that the inclination to pay taxes does not increase with the ability to do so, and fortunately this is the case, for the greatest check on public extravagance is the indisposition of the people to be taxed. I am far from saying that extra taxation will be needed, but if it is, the people of New Zealand could better afford to double their present revenue than to contribute that they were called on to find before 1870. It must be borne in mind, that during the construction of the railways interest was paid on the cost before returns were received. The net receipts from railways promise to become very large. Then as to the land fund. The history of that up to the present time is briefly this. To the 30th June, 1877, 8,330,000 acres were sold for a sum amounting to £8,380,000, and for scrip to the value of £200,000. Besides this, 89,000 acres were given for public works, to the value of £87,000. In addition, 450,000 acres were given to immigrants, 186,000 to naval and military settlers, and 890,000 acres put apart for reserves. Exclusive of native and confiscated lands, there remain nearly 32,000,000 of unsold Crown lands. Of the £8,380,000 which has been received in cash for land since the commencement of the Colony to the 30th June, 1877, no less than £1,039,000 were received during the year 1876, equal to £400,000 more than the average of the last seven years.
It is noticeable, that though there has always been free selection in Canterbury, and the best land of course taken, the revenue last page 37 year was larger than any year previously. Although the selector has to go farther back, he buys with more eagerness.
In the province of Otago the leases of the sheep farms fall in during the next four or five years, and immense quantities of land will be open for sale and lease. In the North Island vast tracts acquired from the natives will be open to purchase, and I cannot consider but that there will be a great increase in the land revenue. The large demands made by New Zealand have naturally somewhat advanced the rate at which it is able to borrow. It pays the extra price because it gains more by doing so than by suspending the works which bring wealth to the country and its people. The lenders may congratulate themselves on getting this extra rate. The security afforded by the value of the public estate and public works and railways, and by the ability of the people to contribute whatever is required of them, make, in my opinion, New Zealand debentures as safe as Consols, and immeasurably more safe than the investments made in countries where British laws and institutions do not prevail. I read the other day of an occurrence which I hope is true, for it is too good to be otherwise. A person presented himself at a fancy dress ball in an attire so scanty, or perhaps I should say a want of attire so conspicuous, that the servants denied him admission. "But this is a fancy dress ball," he said. "Yes, sir; it is a fancy dress ball," with a marked emphasis on the word dress. "But the guests are to appear in character," he persisted. "Yes, sir; and what character can you represent as you are?" "The character," he replied, "of a foreign bondholder stripped of everything." You may realise the difference when I say that the New Zealand bondholder who dressed for the character should appear in fine wool, with the emblems of every useful metal, of coal, and of manufactures abundantly worked in gold embroidery, and with a cornucopia as a head-dress.
On the subject of education I will briefly say that it has been the pride of the several provinces to provide the most abundant means for the education of children. The Colony has not overlooked the necessity of continuing this good work, and in the session just over the educational provisions of the several provinces have been consolidated into one comprehensive system of education, the leading features of which may be summed up in the well-known terms, free, secular, and compulsory. There are small fees charged, but the general burden is defrayed from the revenue and from the proceeds of valuable endowments. It may be said in general terms that the State provides a secular education, and page 38 that it insists that every child shall be educated. It may, moreover, be added that the public schools are not confined to elementary ones, and that children showing special aptitude for learning may, however poor their parents, acquire a finished education in advanced schools. The ranks of the civil service, too, are recruited from those who show their aptitude by passing special examinations.
From 1871 to 1876 the Colony assisted with passages 78,475 immigrants. Besides the cost of passages there were great expenses in connection with receiving and housing the immigrants on arrival. As a certain, and I may say large amount of responsibility is recognised to belong to the Government to see that assisted immigrants obtain employment, you may readily conceive that the utmost efforts have been made to chose suitable immigrants. You may realise that out of so large a number some have not proved suitable and some have not been fortunate, and you may also recognise that whilst those who are successful say nothing, a great deal of commotion may be made by comparatively a few who are not so fortunate. Hence during the winter months sometimes complaints have been heard, and letters embodying them have found their way to papers in this country. In consequence of productions of the kind which appeared a few months since I telegraphed for explanation to the Colony, and received in reply the following communication:—
"Unemployed. Wherever meetings held, Government offered work, thirty shillings week. Very few accepted.—Grey."
It may safely be said that the bulk of the immigrants have been greatly successful. But it would be a mistake to suppose that New Zealand is a fairy land. As in other countries, some people are unfortunate without having themselves to blame, whilst there are some who, not being able or willing to work, are prone to attribute to the country the fault which belongs to themselves. Comprising as the Colony does a great many settlements, there is constantly a liability to an undue congregation in some parts and a reverse in others. With respect to artisan labour, there is also a special risk of temporary excessive supply in some districts and want of supply in others. No one should go to the Colony who does not take with him a determination to endure, if need be, some hardship. The primary business of the Colony is to obtain the products of the land, whether agricultural, pastoral, or mineral. All other occupations are subsidiary, and their success depends on the plentifulness which the land yields. Professional men, men who can only give clerical labour, and artisans, must page 39 depend on those who earn from the land the means of paying them; hence they should be very cautious of going to the Colony without receiving direct encouragement to do so. Persons who possess capital and agricultural knowledge may depend on procuring land, and if their knowledge is adequate they should have no difficulty in being successful, provided they are able to exercise frugality and self-denial. Women suited for domestic service are always in demand, and probably will continue to be so for a long period. They soon marry, and so leave again the gap in the ranks of servants which they only for a time stopped. Ordinary labourers are wanted. It will of course be understood that as the supply varies there may be variations in the remuneration offered, but remuneration is largely in excess of the wages in this country, whilst bread and meat are much cheaper.
Those who are well acquainted with agriculture, and who aspire to positions beyond those of ordinary labourers, but are unable to take with them capital, must remember, that though they take to the Colony most useful knowledge, they cannot look for immediate employment equal to their merits. A farmer or capitalist may continually want labour, but may not at a moment's notice be prepared to make such alterations in his arrangements as would be involved in the employment of overseers or persons of an analogous rank. Hence the agriculturist without capital or means must not consider that he is at all assured of at once realising his aspirations for a superior position. Men with large families should understand that their risks are increased: not only have they more mouths to feed, but they are more liable to the effects: of illness or accidental misfortune. With such a disposition to meet with patience any difficulties that might arise as would have to be exercised in this country, there cannot, I think, be a doubt that the general prospects of the working classes, and of men with capital, are infinitely brighter in Now Zealand than in this country. Here there is an excess of population, the possession of capital from £250 to £5,000 is a source of embarrassment, and men of means and position are unable to decide what to do with then sons growing to manhood. There, there is a land of infinite capacity, greatly deficient in population, and offering large rewards to suitable colonists who have the courage not to be deterred by slight obstacles, and who do not expect too much. Immigrants, it should be observed, require some amount of self-reliance. The landing amongst strangers, in a strange place, is depressing, and those who expect too much may be disappointed. There are some people, page 40 too, so constituted as never to be contented. The more they prosper the less satisfied are they with their progress. I have met many such people. With these reservations the Colony offers great inducements to emigrants. Let me, however, say that nothing can be more unwise than to send out vicious youths in the hope that they will improve. The temptations to, and facilities for, indulging in vice are as great in the Colony as elsewhere, and, removed from the supervision of their friends, such youths are nearly sure to turn out badly.
In confirmation of what I have said, I may quote the following passage from a despatch which I received only yesterday from the Minister for Immigration: "As regards future operations, I had hoped by this mail to have supplied you with full particulars as to the probable number and quality of immigrants required during the current year. So soon as I am furnished with returns ordered to be sent in by the Immigration Officers throughout the Colony, I shall be able to do so. In the meantime I would state that we can scarcely have too many people, provided they are of the right stamp —agricultural able-bodied labourers, dairy-women, and domestic servants. The power of the Colony to absorb such with advantage may be said to be unlimited. Another class to whom the Colony presents great advantages are practical farmers, with small or large means. The construction of railways now in progress and in contemplation, opens up for agricultural settlement an extensive territory which has hitherto been unavailable, and upon which thousands of industrious families may acquire independence, and surround themselves with comfort. I venture to say that New Zealand never presented greater attractions to genuine colonists than at the present time."
The land system of the Colony is a subject upon which there is a great deal of inquiry. It is the more necessary to touch upon this, because of important alterations which have been made by an Act passed during the late session. Chief amongst the changes, though it pertains rather to the financial than the land system, is the provision which has been made by Act by which henceforth the Land Revenue, less twenty per cent, for local purposes, becomes part of the general, or, as it is called, the consolidated revenue of the Colony. Previously the land fund was virtually provincial revenue, and on the abolition of the provinces it was contemplated to still put it apart for special purposes. But it has now been made Colonial revenue. It is not for me to express an opinion as to the policy or fairness of the measure. But I may say that one of its obvious effects will be to somewhat page 41 remove the inequalities of expenditure in various parts of the Colony.
Of great importance both to the land system and the finances of the Colony is another measure passed last session, by which the upset price of land has been raised to not less than £2 per acre if open to free selection, and to not less than £1 per acre if submitted to auction. In Canterbury the upset price at which anyone might select land has always been £2 per acre, but in other provinces the upset price of rural land, whether for free selection or by auction, has varied from 2s. 6d. to £1, unless in cases of special value. The increase now made is very material. It is as it were the crown of the public works and immigration policy. I have already referred to its money value. The change, too, probably means an approach to a uniform land system throughout the Colony. At present each provincial district has a distinct land system; indeed in Otago there are two systems, one belonging to the old province of Southland. The working of the Act will not have much interest for you, but very many persons here will be interested to know that provision has been made for putting up to auction licenses to use pastoral country after the present leases or licenses expire. A great many runs (as large sheep-farms are called) will be put up to auction in this way during the next five or six years in the province of Otago.
An important new provision is that pastoral lands may be sold on deferred payments in blocks of not less than 500 acres, nor more than 5,000 acres. Such blocks must be put apart for the purpose by the Governor. They must be offered at auction at an upset price of not less than £1 per acre, and the payment has to be made by thirty equal half-yearly payments. No person is allowed to purchase on deferred payment more than one allotment, and one of the conditions is that within twelve months he shall reside on the land, and continue to reside on it for five years, except during intervals of leave, not exceeding three months in the year, permitted by the Crown Lands' Board.
There are also provisions for selling rural or agricultural land on deferred payments. No one is allowed to purchase more than 320 acres, and the price is divided into twenty half-yearly payments. If the land purchased is open to selection, to the ordinary cash price, 50 per cent, is added to cover the interest on the deferred payments. If the land is sold by auction, the price is the amount bid. In cither case the payment is divided into twenty equal half-yearly payments.
The purchase of rural land by deferred payments is subject to page 42 strict conditions as to cultivation and residence, which it would take too much space to minutely describe. I may, however, say that the purchaser must within six months of the purchase commence to reside on the land, and continue to do so for six years. There are some exceptions, but I need not trouble you with them. The cultivation has to be gradual. Surely it is fair for the State when it gives such easy terms of payment to exact conditions, which after all are really calculated to benefit the bonâ fide farmer. In the Auckland provincial district, land may be put apart by the Governor, under what is known as the homestead system. Under this system the settlers may obtain a limited quantity of land without any payment whatever. The conditions of ultimate acquirement of the property are, residence for five years and cultivation. Each person is allowed under this system not more than 50 acres of first-class land, nor more than 75 acres of second-class land, provided that no family may in the aggregate have more than 200 acres of first- class, nor more than 300 acres of second-class land.
I cannot pretend to give you even a precis of the different systems in the various provinces of disposing of land for cash payments. Suffice it that in some parts there is free selection, in others a mixture of free selection and auction, and in others again an approach to an auction system only.
"Must ever be
The master mould of Nature's heavenly hand,
Wherein are cast the heroic and the free,
The beautiful, the brave—the lords of earth and sea."
And now I will say a few words of the South Sea Islands, New Zealand must be in the future to these Islands the central guiding figure. No adequate idea of New Zealand's future can by formed that excludes from view the teeming Islands of the Pacific that must look to her as their trading centre. The winds and the page 43 waves which make communication between the Islands and Australia a work of difficulty, make communication between them and New Zealand a matter of ease. It was a wise step of the British Government to take possession of Fiji. Wiser still would it be to take possession of the Samoa and New Hebrides groups. Chief amongst the present exports of the Islands is copra, as dried cocoa-nut is called. An unlimited demand exists for it in Germany, and there it finds its chief market. It is brought home in a dried form, but I am glad to learn that at Auckland in New Zealand a factory has just been established to obtain from the copra its useful products. From Fiji the export of copra increased from £5,000 in 1873 to £41,000 in 1876. The total imports to Fiji in 1876 were £112,000, the exports £107,000. The latest returns I have of Samoa, 1875, show during that year total export of £227,000, and an import trade of £241,000. Of the exports £101,000 was in copra. The imports included £20,000 in specie, and £20,000 worth of guano for re-export.
There can be no doubt of the capabilities of the Islands. They yield many valuable indigenous products, and they are suitable for the production of coffee, sugar, cotton, tobacco, arrowroot, india rubber, maize, and various kinds of drugs.
Her Majesty's present Government have cast loving eyes towards them, and have proceeded probably in the path of annexation as far as the state of public opinion has permitted. By an ingenious Act of Parliament passed three years ago, they have obtained the right to exercise considerable power in the Islands not annexed. Sir Arthur Gordon, Governor of Fiji, exercises under the Act the functions of High Commissioner. Too little time has elapsed to fairly test the Act, but it must at least be conceded that during the last few years Her Majesty's Government have done a great deal to improve the condition of the Islands. Not too soon was action taken. The Islands were becoming the Alsatia of the two hemispheres, and a disgusting traffic in human labour was being set up. Sir Arthur Gordon seems to be doing his work well, with not much means placed at his disposal. He has shown great vigour in repressing revolt, and industry in developing the capabilities of the natives to submit themselves to organised government. In the measure he has taken for raising taxes in produce, he recognises the value to which I have already alluded of civilising the natives by encouraging them to work. He has, I fancy, not been unmindful of the Java system. I know it is the fashion to condemn that system as one of slavery. But there is a wide difference between the State insisting on work as a necessary page 44 condition of the well-being of a semi-savage race, and allowing individuals to traffic in human labour. I have met several men who have made themselves acquainted with the Java system, and whilst not entirely approving it they have all seen much to admire in it. Practically it has been successful in its results to the natives and Europeans. Sir Arthur Gordon is, I believe, not popular with the Europeans. I doubt if any Governor who did justice to the native race in a country in Fiji's present position would be popular with the white man. I speak with reservation, as I am only imperfectly acquainted with Sir Arthur Gordon's conduct. I convey the impression left in my mind by so much as I know of it. The French, Germans, and Americans have very large interests in the Southern Seas. It is to be hoped they will not some day clash with those of England. If they do not, luck rather than good management will have to be thanked, for certainly no zeal was shown to protect English interests till public scandal made it necessary to do so. It is a deplorable pity that New Caledonia was suffered to become a French penal settlement. From a statement lately made it appears that Sir George Grey urged on the English Government to annex New Caledonia before the French entertained the idea of doing so.
I proposed when I commenced to connect my subject, New Zealand and the South Sea Islands, with that larger subject, the Consolidation of the Empire. The lengthened demand I have made on your attention leads me to fear to ask your larger indulgence; at any rate, I will be brief Almost every salient matter to which I have referred seems to me to instigate considerations of vast interest to other parts of the Empire than that small portion with which we have had to deal. The various routes to New Zealand remind us how much one country is dependent on other countries, and, from a national point of view, suggests how important it is to keep open a chain of communication from one end of the world to the other, at every stopping-place of which the interests of Great Britain should be paramount. The facts which I have told you about the lands of New Zealand, and about what has been done by the Colony in the way of promoting immigration, together with your own knowledge of the land, and immigration policies of other Colonies, must suggest to you how unmindful of the interests of the parent country itself were those who left to the hazard of the decision of a few thousand colonists the dealing with questions of vast moment to the whole people. There is no want in Great Britain more felt than that of a career for youths growing to manhood. The openings for those who are inclined to page 45 sedentary pursuits are few, and fewer still are the openings for those who love the freedom of healthy, active, outdoor pursuits. When territories worth countless millions of money were relinquished with no conditions imposing on the Colonies the necessity of throwing open those lands to the use of settlers, and no obligation to expend part of the proceeds in assisting the hard-worked labourers of this country to emigrate, a great wrong was committed to those whose property was so rashly relinquished. It is no justification of such relinquishment to say—if it can be said of all the Colonies—that the extreme power given has been worthily used. Upon that worthy use, of course, the parent country is now dependent, for what is given cannot be taken back. Shakespeare, when he wrote King Lear, might, perhaps, have had in mind a possible parable of a Mother-country and her Colonies.
The active vigour which constitutional government has undoubtedly imported to the British dependencies enjoying it, must arouse the consideration of the question, Can nothing be done to constitutionalise the government of India?. The share which a native race may be induced to take in the government also suggests that the native races of India might with advantage be more drawn within the general scheme of government of the country. Every question relating to native races is of interest. When we see what labour and the acquisition of wealth will do for a native race, we may ask ourselves, Is the system healthy which practically requires that tropical productions should be rendered to the use of the denizens of temperate climes at rates which entail the necessity of labour being supplied at the bare cost of food sufficient to keep body and soul together? Civilised man has abolished slavery, but he continues to exact labour for less than the comforts which even the slavery system supplied.
The colonists in South Africa are living over again that which has passed in New Zealand, and, it may be, sufficient heed is not paid to the teaching of experience. There is, again, the same difficulty between Imperial representative and Colonial government, arising out of the relative positions of Imperial and Colonial forces. Whilst in the House of Commons, the Minister insists on Colonial responsibility, the Governor in the Colony refuses to call together the local parliament, and dismisses the Ministry possessing the confidence of the majority in that parliament. Has, I would ask, advantage been taken of the experience which shows that to use with benefit the successes gained by force of arms, railways and roads must be constructed, the natives induced to labour, and page 46 taught to understand the value that labour, capital, and communication will give to their lands?
"We've got the ships, we've got the men,
We've got the money too."
Would that it were generally recognised that we can colonise because we have these great resources. New Zealand, in believing that it could do in ten years what in ordinary course might take more than a quarter of a century, only utilised the results of observation. Experience shows that all the ramifications of a useful community will grow out of population hastily summoned to a locality if labour and capital be present at the same time. Immense populations rushed to California and to Victoria in search of gold; they remained to develop into useful communities. Diamonds did the same office in South Africa; oil in parts of America. Given people, work to employ them, and capital to aid labour, and you have the elements of a successful community. If, instead of a precarious search for gold or diamonds, you have the certain rewards yielded by fertile land, so much the easier is the working of the problem. It is of the greatest importance to recognise the fields for enterprise the Colonies offer, for they may be the substitute for those countries, the excessive desire to serve which has not, in my opinion, been beneficial to this country. The loss of the money wasted abroad would, in some cases, probably be a lesser evil from a British point of view than that of the results of the expenditure. I do not wish to enter on political ground, but I presume no one will deny that this country, if it is not involved in war with Russia, has been very near that contingency. I presume, also, it cannot be questioned that the result of the late war will in any case devolve on this country the necessity in future of a larger annual naval expenditure—a very much larger one, probably. Now, is there anyone who would deny that but for the money lent to Russia by British capitalists, and the military railways constructed by British capital, that war would not have taken place, at any rate, for a long time? It is British gold that has armed the Continent, that has made railways, that has facilitated wars, that has done a great deal which is now reducing the prosperity and power of page 47 this country relatively to others. Of course I may be told that in making foreign countries prosperous we enable them to become better customers; in the same way the man who was told to pay his debts asked where he should borrow the money to do so. Not only has British gold made foreign countries formidable to Great Britain, but the interests of the British creditors of foreign countries is calculated to injuriously influence the foreign policy of this country. The Egyptian and Turkish debts underlie the chief difficulties we now have in dealing with the Eastern question. Without laying down the doctrine that the country should enforce payment of such debts, it is impossible to leave out of all consideration acts of repudiation, or events or action which might lead to repudiation. Besides, man is only human, and given a man whose family depends on his investments in Turks or Russians, is it possible his patriotism can rise altogether superior to his anxiety for the welfare of the States which owe him all he has to live on Really, if there were an incometax of five shillings in the pound on investments in foreign loans and railways, the burden would only represent the loss to the country in various ways arising out of this employment of British capital. If we spend two hundred millions in a war with Russia, and this war is precipitated by our liberal loans to that Power, I should like to know if the investment shows a balance of profit In fact, the investors gain, the nation loses. Better that capital should remain idle than that it should be viciously spent.
There is, of course, a wide distinction between mere trading investments and those which have for their results, if not for their object, the giving facility to a country to organise its forces and move its armies. This is assistance from an absurd point of view, for it benefits the few whilst it throws a serious liability on the taxpayers in general. Had she not obtained so much English capital, Russia would now be like a horse with too little instead of too much oats.
The lesson New Zealand teaches us is, that there is practically unlimited occupation for capital in British territory. In eight years a thousand miles of railway will have been constructed there. More attention to our own country and less to others is what the nation demands, and yet so much docs the evil feed on itself that those who have gained their wealth by investments abroad are the very persons who exclaim against the Colonies as sources of weakness. Since investments abroad have become somewhat unpopular, there is a large flow of money to British possessions. Commerce is really now engaged in federating the Empire, but so page 48 little does practical statesmanship run in harness with commerce, that when the latter arrives at the conclusion that Federation is imperatively required, statesmanship may have made it impossible.
If I may venture to offer advice I would urge on this Institute that the question of Federation should be taken from the region of speculative politics and introduced to the House of Commons. However few its friends in the House at first, they will increase when it is perceived that its advocates are in earnest. By and by the conviction will come that the territories of Great Britain are sufficiently large to make nationalism a noble aspiration, and that other nations may be left to look after their own interests. The possessions of the Queen of England and Empress of India are extensive enough for the exercise of unbounded humanitarianism, for the development of the largest fiscal views, for the operation of the most benevolent theories. We are apt, when we incline to interfere so much with foreign countries, to forget how calculations may be upset by circumstances born of foreign laws or want of laws. A common bond of union is best found in similar laws possessing the common basis of recognition of individual rights and of reverence for liberty and freedom. A law-abiding, free, and educated people, speaking the same language and owning loyalty to the same sovereign, has lasting interests in common, and if the Empire break up, the fault will be due to those who neglect to weld it together.
Unwin Brothers, Printers, London and Chilworth.
* Peas only.
† Wheat and Spelt.