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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 62


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The following Lecture is intended to awaken public attention to the growing importance of the British Colonies as a factor in the argument of our social welfare. Returning to England after years of residence in New Zealand, I am painfully impressed by the apparent confusion of ideas among public men and in the Press as to the remedy for the rapidly-developing discontent. All sorts of political and philanthropic charlatanism seems rife, but there appears to be little either of common honesty or common sense about the proposed remedies. To the Colonist who has lived for years where want is unknown, where labour is everywhere master of the position, where a good ploughman or a shepherd gets annually by way of wage more than thousands of educated clergymen or schoolmasters receive each for their services in the United Kingdom, it seems an almost grotesque absurdity that the openings and opportunities of the Greater Britain are not more earnestly sought for and the remedy they suggest more assiduously applied.

My appeal is addressed principally to the clergy and ministers of the respective Churches, and to the heads of Colleges and Public Schools. I would have them point the attention of their high-toned youth to the vast areas of the British Colonies as magnificent arenas for the working out of their life problems upon.

I would also appeal to the omnipotent Press of Great Britain to support my contention. I have no wish to minimise the importance of political cries, or to discourage a patriotism that sees only in legislative enactments the solution of social problems, page 4 but—"while the grass is growing the steed is starving"—such remedies are too slow and uncertain for the necessities of the case.

The tens of thousands of our well-bred youths who are wasting their energies on altogether unworthy pursuits, should not the Press urge upon them the claims of Empire? In yonder Colonies a thousand splendid enterprises beckon them to come and aid in their development. Nothing comparable with it is to be found on these terribly overcrowded British Isles.

And our marriageable but unmarried daughters. Is it patriotic to ignore the millions upon millions of acres of British soil bursting with capacities for supporting in comfort thousands of homes? Women's rights forsooth! The supreme right of every honest, healthy woman is to a happy home, and if British Colonisation were taken up with a lithe of the energy it deserves, there need not be a British home where the children's settlement in life is a hope deferred.

I intended in the Appendix to my Lecture to give a brief summary of the respective advantages of the British Colonies, and wrote to each Agent-General asking for a condensed statement of what his Colony had to offer by way of inducement to British farmers and others meditating a change. Unfortunately they have not fallen in with my request, and as I cannot afford the time to wade through the bulky volumes of handbooks in which the desired information lies buried, my project thus far must remain unfulfilled, In some Tasmanian literature kindly sent to me by Sir Edward Braddon, the Agent-General for Tasmania, I found a statement such as I wished, and have gladly used it. As my object is the promotion of just that class of emigration which every Colonial Agency is anxious to encourage, I must express my regret that the responses to my application were not more cordial. A few hours' work by an intelligent clerk in each page 5 office would have sufficed to focus as it were information such as a perplexed parent seeking a sphere for his son so sorely needs. My pamphlet would then have fulfilled its mission, and each inquirer would have had a sort of bird's-eye view of the whole emigration field before him.

As it is I can only throw out a few general hints to those who may be "on the wing," and reserve for another occasion fuller details. Unquestionably the foremost place as an average British Emigration Field must be given to the great Canadian Dominion. The climate of both New Zealand and Tasmania is in many respects superior, but, unhappily, those fascinating Colonies are handicapped by their twelve thousand miles' distance from the British market. Of late years also an anti-immigration spirit has developed in Australasia, which practically blocks the way thither for working men. The young democracies are willing enough that men of Capital should embark their fortunes on their respective shores, but they will have no more labour competitors. This means that British farmers who are half-ruined in England and Scotland by the conjunction of high rents and low prices for their produce, together with an ever-increasing labour wage, should risk their remaining capital where these unfavourable conditions are intensified.

As an enthusiastic advocate of New Zealand, I bitterly regret the new departure of its people in the direction of discouraging bonâ-fide working-class immigration, as I see in it a Protectionist development that will infallibly work out mischief to the Colony. For young States to resort to the exploded economic fallacies of the old world is to make one despair of human progress.

I can now only direct New Zealand-wards what I might call self-contained families, that is to say, practical agriculturists, who are prepared to " paddle their own canoe," or young men of page 6 "go" and enterprise, who will work their own way in the sweat of their brow, or people of independent means, who seek a more genial climate and freedom from the conventionalisms of English life. There is doubtless a splendid arena supplied both by New Zealand and Tasmania, and for the matter of that by each Australasian Colony, and the rising Colony of South Africa, for the working out of his life's problem, for the right man, but it becomes yearly increasingly essential that no more emigration illusions be encouraged.

In the vast Dominion of Canada, however, as it is now opened up by the Canadian Pacific Railway, with its free land grants and proximity to European markets, there appears to me no cause for such careful discrimination of recommendation. The tenant farmer delegates, whom the Dominion Government has recently furnished with such facilities for studying Canadian possibilities and advantages, have delivered a verdict which virtually settles the question.

The mining development of Tasmania should find openings for large sections of the British public, and a profitable investment for British Capital.

Messrs. Chaffey Brothers' "Australian Irrigation Colonies" are full of promise, and many happy families should be settled amid the blooming orchards on the banks of the River Murray.

The Colonial Training College at Hollesley Bay, Suffolk, is an important factor in the Colonisation argument, and should fit young men for achieving success abroad.

Our African Colonies are too speculative for indiscriminate recommendation. The presence or proximity of a vastly preponderating native element I should regard as a fatal objection to average British settlement. I have not forgotten the unutterable recoil of the British matrons, whom I found in Virginian farm- page 7 houses years ago, from the negro element there; and the supreme longing of the farmers was for a substitution of the healthy, honest-visaged Hodge of their old English village experience for the dirty, shiftless, and unreliable black labourers.

What the future may reveal of South African possibilities it is difficult to guess, and my limited acquaintance with the region precludes my judgment in the matter from being of any value.

And so of the lesser Colonies of the West Indies, and other dependencies of the Empire, whose statistics will be found in the Appendix, I must leave to others the task of advising respecting them. The rule which I laid down for my guidance a couple of decades back, when I first gave attention to emigration questions, was not to recommend any one to go where I would not go myself and it has been by the light of this simple rule that my Colonisation efforts have ever been directed.

Thus far, among the many thousands whom my lectures and Press contributions have, directly or indirectly, influenced to try their fortunes elsewhere, I cannot recall an instance in which I have brought upon myself the reproach of having misled any one in the important change of life.

I may perhaps be permitted to add that, should any of the clergy, and others interested in the social welfare of the people who may read the following Lecture, find themselves sufficiently in sympathy with its sentiments to be willing to co-operate with me, I shall be glad to hear from them with a view to a delivery of the Lecture or its distribution in their respective localities. My services will be gratuitous on the condition that admission to the Lecture be absolutely free.

A. C.

52, Camden Hill Road, Upper Norwood,