The Conditions of Success in Emigration,
London: R. K. Burt and Co., Printers, Fetter Lane, Fleet Street, E.C.
The Conditions of Success in Emigration.
§ 1.—Colonial Resources.
No country has invested her resources to greater advantage than Britain has invested hers, in planting and peopling her splendid Colonies and Dependencies. For India and Canada Britain fought many a battle, and paid a high sum. But Australia cost scarcely any amount, except, if we may so say, the money value of the men and women sent thither to work. From 1853 to 1885 upwards of one million emigrants went to Australia from the United Kingdom. At £100 each they represent a capital of one hundred millions. But the golden trophy at the Exhibition shows that within that period Victoria alone has produced £216,000,000 in sterling gold. And how shall we estimate the money value of the enormous resources, in esse or in posse, developed already, or as yet only partially developed, represented in this magnificent Exhibition? Sovereigns have been wont to invite one another, and especially those whom they most dreaded, to witness their military or naval forces at grand reviews or parades. Her Majesty the Queen invites the world to witness the imposing resources of her Empire, happily destined not to destroy, but to feed, clothe, and comfort the sons and daughters of toil all the world over.
The British Colonial Empire has been constructed, not under instruction or guidance of authority, not on the initiation or dictation of the State, but by the spontaneous action of the people, who, as by instinct, sought the countries best suited for their labour and wants, or most likely to open for them a new field for trade and commerce. And experience shows how vastly superior is a colonial system, free and untrammelled, over one close and fettered. So long as India was the monopoly of a commercial company the commercial relations between England and India were of the most limited nature. Immediately the monopoly ended the trade with India immensely increased. Happily, all the other colonies were made free from the very first to all comers, and they are to this day the land of promise to every strong arm and stout heart willing and ready to land on their shores. The conditions of a virgin soil like Australia and British North America, previously lying helpless for want of workers, and a page 4 well-trodden and thickly-peopled state like India, are of course widely different, but both India and the Colonies manifest the strength of purpose, the skill and tact, which make the British race the colonisers par excellence.
§ 2.—Personal Qualities of Emigrants.
We must, however, not look backward, but forward, and the question before us is this: Given conditions of labour in this country by no means reassuring, given actual difficulties in getting work for a large and an ever-increasing number of workpeople, and wages at home scarcely equal to the actual cost of living, what may be the prospects of emigrating to this or to that colony? Quite apart from any chance of meeting any extraordinary good luck from gold discoveries or other wonderful occurrences, altogether beyond prevision, would a workman, or any one, really improve his condition by paying his fare and going? Many are the causes which induce emigration. A natural desire to improve oneself, or to provide better prospects for one's children, love of venture and restlessness of character, the invitation of friends already gone, or misfortunes, or wreck in character or industry, as well as the constant inducements offered by emigration societies and shipping companies, all stimulate moving. But certain sober questions must be answered affirmatively before the resolve can be safely made. Has the intending emigrant a sufficiently robust constitution to stand fatigue, hardships, and privations? Has he the strong will to overcome difficulties, and to defy, if need be, disasters or hindrances? Has he the self-mastery needed to combat any temptation in himself, either of vice or excesses? Has he shrewdness of intellect and good reasoning power to plan and design right? Is he ready to turn his hands to anything he can find to do, or to take any employment, however uncongenial? If the intending emigrant does really possess these qualities let him go. If not, let him stay.
§ 3—Cost of Living in the Colonies.
But then there is the question of ways and means. Here he knows what he can get, and what are his weekly expenses. Is there any mode of estimating what is the relation of wages to the cost of living in the colonies? Let us see. From any calculations of this character we must, of course, exclude the cost of all extravagances or wasteful habits, which may be indulged in anywhere. We must take into account the cost of only what is required to maintain a life of health and usefulness; though even within the limits of page 5 what are called the necessaries of life there is great difference in the appreciation of the same commodities, for what is regarded as bare living by one family may prove more than abundant to another. Nor can we forget that climate and temperature, as well as national habits, more or less determine what food, clothes, and house may be required. Thus, we all know that the patient and indefatigable Chinese labourer subsists on vegetable produce, and lives and works upon what an Englishman would starve; and that the Russian peasants, the greater part of the population of Greece almost the entire population of Japan, nearly all the lower classes in China, and the high-caste Hindoos in India, have each and all dietetic habits of the most meagre description, their food consisting of bread, fruit, and herbs, which are found quite adequate to their wants, and sufficient to sustain severe and constant toil at a very low cost. It would, in truth, be an error to imagine that the diet of a well-to-do English labourer, in England, is necessary for all labourers, and in all the colonies. Food, clothing, habitation, will always follow the habits of life, the personal constitution of the individual, and above all, the physical condition of the country.
|1.||Ten per cent, for other articles of food and drink than those named, and forty per cent, for clothing, house rent, etc.|
|2.||Average of English Cheese is. 6d.; Colonial, 6d. per lb.|
|3.||The estimated cost of "other things" in the Australian Colonies appears insufficient to provide for house rent, especially in Sydney: but a cottage with three or four rooms is occupied by more than one earner.|
|4.||Builders' wages were quoted as follows, at per day:—
It will be seen from the table that the same quantities of articles of food which in England cost 21s. per week, or £54 per annum, in Australia would cost 9s. 9½d. a week, or £25 a year; in Canada, 13s. 2d. per week, or £34 a year; in the Asiatic Colonies, 12s. 5d. per week, ox £32 a year; in the West Indian Colonies, 16s. 3d. per week, or £43 a year; and in the African Colonies, 22s. per week, or £57 a year. But what is more interesting is that when we add 50 per cent, for other items of expenditure, and place against the whole the income based on the wages of the best paid class of labourers, the Budget for the year shows a handsome surplus in Australia, Canada, and at the Cape or Natal, but an absolute deficiency everywhere else, which is tantamount to saying that many of the articles of food which are accounted as necessaries in England must be dispensed with in every colony except Australia, Canada, and the Cape. Only nature provides other articles of food more suited to the climate, and the whole course of life is different. The wages are high in Australia and Canada, but not so in other colonies where native labourers are numerous.
In the Cost of Living given at page 6, the cost of Bread in England is put down at 6d. per lb., instead of 6d. the quartern loaf; the weekly cost being 3s. 6d., instead of 14s. Accordingly, the total weekly cost of the articles named is 10s. 6½d., or annually I £27 8s. 2½d., making a total, with other things, of £54 8s. 2½d., thus leaving a surplus income of £16.
§ 4.—Cost of Living and Wages in India.
Widely different, again, from all this is the condition of labour in British India. From official reports published in connection with the recent famine, regarding the daily life and circumstances of cultivators, and from a return of the average annual prices of food, grains, and salt, with the wages of skilled and unskilled labour, published in Calcutta, it appears that the average wages of an able-bodied agricultural labourer in India may be taken at six rupees per month, and the average wages of a common mason, carpenter, or blacksmith at fifteen rupees per month. At is. 6d. per rupee, such wages give little more than £6 and £13 per annum respectively.5 Small, however, as page 8 is the income, it meets the expenditure of a labourer in India, which is equally small. For the ordinary food of a family consists of a certain quantity of great millet, or jowar, or rice, salt, and some ghi, the product of milk, with a little curry as a luxury, and the clothing consists mainly of cotton-cloth, sometimes supplemented by a blanket of wool, and leather shoes 6. The contrast between India and the Australian or Canadian colonies is very great. In Australia or Canada the wages are high and the cost of living is low. In India the wages are as low as the cost of living. The wages of labour are so far regulated by the cost of living that the minimum of wages cannot long remain below the cost of living, for when they are actually lower the workmen, or at least the most intelligent among them, will abandon the work, and thereby produce lesser competition among labourers and increase wages. But there is no limit to the increase of wages where the demand for labour is great and the profits of industry are abundant. Where high prices proceed from scarcity of produce, as in the event of a deficient harvest or as the result of protective duties, national wealth being diminished, wages are either immediately or eventually lower, not higher. Where high prices are experienced in conjunction with abounding wealth and prosperity, wages may be higher also. Where prices are low and labourers few wages are high; where prices are high and labourers numerous wages are low.
If India and several British colonies offer but little scope for saving to British emigrants, Australia, Canada, and the Cape leave abundant margin for thrift and accumulation. A comparison of banking deposits in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom gives the following results. In 1881 the amount of deposits at the banks in the Australian colonies was £61,741,000, and at the savings banks page 9 £8,786,000, giving an aggregate of £70,527,000 in a population of 2,700,000, or a proportion of £26 per head. In Canada, the amount of deposits at the banks acting under charter in 1886 amounted to §101,182,000, equal to 20,236,000; and at the savings banks $44,672,000, or £8,934,000, making in all 28,970,000 in a population of 4,535,000, giving a proportion of £6 7s. 9d. per head. In the United Kingdom the deposits at banks may be taken at about £120,000,000, and those at the savings banks were in 1884 £87,000,000, making a total of £207,000,000 in a population of 35,000,000, giving a proportion of £5 18s. per head. Nowhere the amount of deposits represents the full amount of saving, many being the forms of investments. Nevertheless, we have in these figures gratifying evidence that some portion, at any rate, of the gains in the colonies is neither wasted nor hoarded but preserved and economised. In all localities where fortunes are suddenly made without the sobering influences of time and disappointments the chances are that money easily got may as easily be wasted. It is all important, therefore, to extend as much as possible the means of thrift. A savings bank ought to be planted wherever an emigrant sets his tent.
No better evidence can, moreover, be given of the appreciation of emigration by the emigrants themselves, and of the scope afforded for accumulation, than the facts that those who have emigrated are constantly sending money home to pay for the passage of their relatives and friends. Within the six months from January to June 1886, money was sent from New South Wales to pay for the passage of 3,942 souls. The amount of money remitted by settlers in the United States and British North America to their friends in the United Kingdom, from 1848 to 1885 is given by the Board of Trade at not less than £31,018,557. And the amount of money remitted by settlers in Australia and other places from 1876 to 1885, amounted to £269,260.
To the emigrant, next to the relation of wages to the cost of living is certainly the consideration of climate and health. The British Islands enjoy a temperate and, for the most part, an eminently healthy climate, their situation in the middle latitude of the temperate zone comparing most favourably with that of other regions of the globe. It is not likely, therefore, that the emigrant will prefer going to live under a tropical sun, as in the West African Settlements or the West page 10 Indies, or even in India, where, besides a high temperature, there are local circumstances of soil, mephitic marshes, periodical winds, and other atmospheric phenomena, which make the country very unhealthy to Europeans. But Australia is healthy, and the climate approximates generally that of Southern Europe, the light being brilliant and the sky almost cloudless. Canada has great variety of climates, from the Arctic to that of the most southern of the temperate zone, but the settled portion of Canada is pleasant and healthy. People may, indeed, live anywhere, if proper cares are taken to conform one's habits to the conditions of the country, avoiding especially any excess in the use of alcoholic drinks, but preference will always be given to countries as congenial as possible to our habits of life. 7
§ 7.—Facilities of Employment.
The great attraction, however, for an emigrant in leaving the mother country is the chance of ready employment. Generally speaking, what the emigrant proposes is either to get some land and cultivate it, or to work at the mines, or to engage in domestic service. It is not for the production of manufactures, or the cultivation of the fine arts, or literature, but to work the land and produce raw materials, or articles of food, that he leaves his home. What he must be prepared to do is to produce sugar and molasses, coffee and rum, in the West Indies; wool and meat in Australia; wool and wine at the Cape; coffee in Ceylon, wheat in Canada, and ever so many more articles in other colonies, or perchance go in search of gold in Australia, or of diamonds at the Cape of Good Hope. And in so doing he fulfils the highest economic mission of creating wealth where no wealth was created before. It has been suggested that for national purposes, if not on economic grounds, manufacturing industry ought to be fostered in the colonies, even at the expense of imposing heavy protective duties. And Canada and Victoria have so far acted on this principle that they have imposed high import duties in the hope that they will some day become great manufacturing centres. But is not this going against nature? Surely the colonies have a noble place assigned to them in the world's division of labour, when they page 11 have virgin soil in large quantities to bring into cultivation, and a boundless field for the employment of capital and labour. Throw all your mind on the production of what is indigenous to your soil, and do not trouble yourselves to produce articles for which your soil is not fitted or you yourselves have not the capacity.
§ 8.—Commerce Between the Colonies and the Mother Country.
To the commerce of the United Kingdom the growth of the British colonies and India is of immense value, for they provide the United Kingdom with many of the raw materials and articles of food of which she stands in need, and they are consumers of goods and produce of which Britain can dispose in abundance. In 1884 24.57 per cent, of the total value of imports of the United Kingdom came from British possessions, and 29.85 per cent, of the total value of exports from the United Kingdom went to the British possessions. But if, on the whole, about 27 per cent, of the trade of the United Kingdom is with British possessions, it follows that 73 per cent, of the same is with foreign countries.8 It is scarcely true, therefore, to say that the British Empire is in any wise self-sustaining or can be independent of foreign States. It is, indeed, the sheerest folly to imagine that the United Kingdom can ever enter into a commercial federation with the colonies, establishing either fair trade or even free trade among themselves, on condition of levying protective duties against all foreign countries.
§—9. Relative Progress of British Colonies.
The following table shows the progress of imports and exports in some of the principal colonies and India per head of the population in 1860 and 1884, calculated on the population of 1860 and 1880. The amount in some cases far exceeds the experience of the United Kingdom, but the trade of India in relation to its enormous population is exceedingly small.
Trade of Some British Colonies in 1860 and 1884.9
§ 10.—The Economic Value of Colonies.
Much has been said of late on the assumed change of front on the part of public writers respecting the real value of colonies. No economist has ever doubted the immense advantage resulting from the superior productiveness of capital and labour when applied in a new country, and fresh soil, or the relief which the colonies have afforded, and still afford, to the pressure of population on the means page 13 of subsistence in the mother country10. It is fully admitted, moreover, on all hands, that much of the increase and prosperity of the colonies must be ascribed to the order and security which they have enjoyed under a strong government. The only question is, how far is the protection afforded by the colonial bond still necessary for the security and independence of such colonies? and how far, in the event of any one of the colonies being able to maintain order, security, and independence for herself without such protection from the mother country, and declaring herself free, the trade of the United Kingdom with the same, or the inducement to emigration to such colony, would cease or diminish? The problem is happily not within the range of practical politics. And it is safe to say that common nationality, common language, and common institutions will always prove a strong magnet to draw to one another the scattered portions of the British race. Nevertheless, and for the same reasons, it is as clear that should any colony desire a relaxation of the colonial bond, and be able to start for herself, no harm will come from it, the experience of England as regards the United States, and more recently as regards the Ionian Islands,11 having abundantly proved that neither the commercial relations did suffer, nor the flow of emigration was arrested, after their declaration of independence, or after the special relations ceased to exist.
§ 11.—Colonising for Political Aims.
A fresh impetus has recently been given to colonial enterprise by the action of foreign States, and by England also. Within the last few years France has sought fresh territory in Tonquin, Germany has joined in a scramble for Africa, Italy has obtained a footing on the coast of the Red Sea, Belgium has undertaken to establish and civilise the Congo territory, whilst England has advanced to Burmah and made fresh annexations in North Borneo. It is well to remember that a simple acquisition of territory is of but little value unless its economic conditions are likewise favourable. British colonies, favourably situated by climatic conditions and economic resources, have prospered. Those otherwise placed are more a burden than a benefit. Foreign States should moreover, remember that the source of increase lies in the people much more than in the State. British colonies have prospered because the Anglo-Saxons are a prolific people, of insular, yet of a roaming disposition-a people, too, possessed of much tact, skill, and perseverance. The French colonies have not prospered because the French themselves have never shown disposition either to increase in numbers or to emigrate, and have neither the tact nor the skill to regulate their affairs less by abstract theories than by practical experience.
§ 12.—The Future of British Colonies.
It is about three hundred years since Sir Walter Raleigh, having obtained a charter of colonisation, dispatched a fleet laden with colonists to Virginia, and about two hundred years since William Penn obtained a grant of the extensive territory called Pennsylvania, which he wished to constitute "a free colony for all mankind." See what the United States of America, only about one hundred years old, are now, with their fifty millions of people; and who can tell how many millions will yet people Australia 12 and North America? Talk of physical evolution! What wonder of political and economic evolution do these colonies exhibit. We have seen the British emigrant settling himself page 15 in those vast regions, going where he could, and where he would, with no other guide than that of adventure, or other law than that of interest. We have seen him appropriating or buying field upon field, and acquiring for himself vast possessions. We have seen individuals multiplied into families, families coming closer to one another, and forming villages. We have seen villages converted into towns, and towns into States. And we have seen governments organised and supreme controlling the State, the village, the family, and the individual, and all the while civilisation advancing apace, and art, science, and industry co-working in the elevation and improvement of society. But the same process of evolution is still progressing before our eyes; and the States now in course of formation, heritors of all that has been achieved in older communities by ages of labour and wonders of thought and effort, are increasing and advancing by bounds and rebounds. A glorious future is indeed before them. May they wield it a right, and may they transmit their trust, still further extended and refined, to generations to come.
7 Climate, language, religion, laws, determine the choice of colonies. Of 100 emigrants from the United Kingdom, 75.86 go to North America, 18.98 to Australia, and 5.16 to other countries. Of 100 emigrants from Germany 95.83 go to North America, 3.24 to Central and South America, and 0.93 to other countries. Of 100 from Italy 75.22 go to Central and South America, 18.59 to North America, and 6.19 to other countries.
9 The decrease in the amount per head of the trade of the Cape of Good. Hope arises from the increased population of territories annexed to Cape Colony proper.
10 The number of emigrants from the United Kingdom of British or Irish origin, in proportion to population, was as follows:—
11 The Exports of British Produce and Manufacture from 1860 to 1863 averaged £296,000 to Greece and £316,000 to the Ionian Islands. Total, £612,000 per annum. The Ionian Islands were ceded to Greece in 1863; and from 1864 to 1868 the Exports to Greece averaged £6907,000 per annum.
12 The Government Statist of Victoria, Sir Henry Kelyn Hayter, C. M. G., in his last report, stated that the rate of increase of the population of Australia, combined with Tasmania and New Zealand, in the decennial period intervening between the two last Censuses, was 42 per cent, and that, supposing the same rate of increase to be maintained, the probable population Australasia, which in 1891 may reach 3,998,612, will in 19S1 amount to 93,865,138.