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1830, Capital Offences – England - Unfit For Publication
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The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Thu 27 Jan 1831 1

THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS ON THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY,
———◦———

PREFACE.

  In an age when so much is said, and so much is written, on all popular subjects, a formal and elaborate essay upon any single topic has but little chance of securing attention. It has been the object of the author of these suggestions, to condense the utmost information into the least space, and to avoid, as much as possible, all loose enquiries into the causes of evils, the existence of which may be sufficiently notorious, or universally admitted. He has availed himself of facts which had fallen under his knowledge, partly as Chairman of a Parliamentary Committee, formed to investigate an important branch of the Poor Laws; and, partly, as a Magistrate of an agricultural county, suffering under a severe and unmitigated distress as any portion of England. He has endeavoured to shew, how the present evil may be alleviated, and the improved condition of the industrious poor made compatible with the increased happiness and prosperity of the British Empire.

  Ridgemont House,
     Wobury, Beds.
       1830


    At this time I believe the number of crimes for which capital punishment is awarded by our statute book, is two hundred and twenty-three. Of these, six were enacted in the hundred and fifty years between Edward III, and Henry VII; thirty in the next hundred and fifty years, from Henry VIII to the close of Charles II, and one hundred and eighty-seven since that period. Or, four were enacted under the Plantagenets, twenty-seven under the Tudors, thirty-six under the Stuarts, and one hundred and fifty-six under the Brunswick dynasties. In the application of these laws, I have availed myself of three Parliamentary returns, which strongly prove how greatly the literal severity of these laws becomes yearly more and more relaxed. The first is, a Return of all Persons sentenced to death and executed in the years 1811. In that year in all England, 404 persons were condemned to death, of whom 45 were executed, being in the proportion of one in nine. In 1815, 553 persons were condemned, of whom 57 were executed, being nearly one in ten. But from the year 1821 to 1827, the numbers stand thus:

  *   Arson, condemned, 47; executed, 9; proportion, 1 in 5¼.

       Burglary, condemned, 2,132, executed, 108; proportion, 1 in 19½.

       Cattle-stealing, condemned, 142; executed, none; proportion, none in 142.

       Feloniously killing ditto, condemned, 4; executed, none; proportion, none in 4.

  *   Coining, condemned, 27; executed, 8; proportion, 1 in 3½.

       Uttering base coin, condemned, 7; executed, none; proportion, none in 7.

  *   Forgery, condemned, 243; executed, 33; proportion, 1 in 7⅓.

       Horse-stealing, † condemned, 901; executed, 33; proportion, 1 in 27⅓.

       Housebreaking, condemned, 998; executed, 7; proportion, 1 in 142¼.

       Larceny, condemned, 1,242; executed, 26; proportion, 1 in 48.

       Letter-stealing, condemned, 6; executed, 2; proportion, 1 in 3.

       Threatening ditto, condemned, 4; executed, none; proportion, none in 4.

  *   Murder, condemned, 113; executed, 97; proportion, others chiefly insane.

  *   Black Act, condemned, 146; executed, 27; proportion, 1 in 5½.

       Piracy, condemned, 2; executed, none; proportion, none in 2.

  *   Rape, condemned, 57; executed, 27; proportion, 1 in 2⅛.

       Riot, condemned, 50; executed, 1; proportion, 1 in 50.

       Highway robbery, condemned, 976, executed, 86; proportion, 1 in 11⅛.

       Sacrilege, condemned, 34; executed, none; proportion, none in 34.

       Sheep-stealing, condemned, 724; executed, 16; proportion, 1 in 45¼.

  *   Sodomy, condemned, 13; executed, 11.

       Returned transports, condemned, 47; executed, none; proportion, none in 47.

       Smuggling, &c, condemned, 20; executed, none; proportion, none in 20.

       Rescuing felons, condemned, 4; executed, none; proportion, none in 4.

       Wreckers, condemned, 2; executed, none; proportion, none in 2.

  Total condemned in seven years, 7,946; executed, 491; proportion, 1 in 16 1-7.

But the proportion in 1827 alone, was 1 in 22.

 

    It follows, then, that with the exception of seven crimes, (marked *,) the proportion between condemned and executed was 1 in 87½; and, in cases of burglary, where 103 executions appear to have taken place, it must be remembered that a large proportion of such cases was attended with circumstances of personal violence, so that these extreme cases can scarcely be considered applicable; but the proportion between the guilty and executed is enormous, and calculated rather to encourage than to repress crime. Mr Fowell Buxton, a Member of the Committee on the State of Gaols, gives this estimate, as founded on the evidence of police officers examined. The chances of escape to a culprit, committing a capital offence, are as follows: First, 5 to 1 that the felony be not discovered or traced; Secondly, 10 to 1 that the sufferer is reluctant to prosecute; therefore, the chance which was 5 to 1, now becomes 50 to 1. This is again doubled by reluctance of juries to condemn, making the chance against condemnation 100 to 1. Now apply the calculation I have just proved, that, with the exception of seven offences, the chances against execution are 87 to 1, then, the actual proportion becomes 8,700 to 1!

  The French code contains six capital offences:

  1.  Arson.

  2.  Treason.

  3.  Murder.

  4.  Forgery of Bank notes and Government securities only.

  5.  Coining.

  6.  Burglary, under certain circumstances, as by gangs, by persons armed with deadly weapons, during the night, or by parties assuming the sanction of legal authority.

 

    In this country, an application of the Black Act, so as to cover all cases of personal violence, would be found necessary. As to rape and unnatural crimes, public exposure in stocks or pillory would be the most efficacious punishment.

    Much of the present evil may be traced to the want of consistency in punishment. It is a well known fact, that far greater anxiety is testified by the prisoners, in their respective gaols, as to the selection of circuits by the judges than at any other period of their confinement. An experienced criminal will predict the consequences to his brother felons with considerable accuracy. “Judge A is coming on this circuit, and he makes it a rule never to hang for sheep-stealing;” or, “Baron B comes over this ground, and your chance of escape is very precarious.” I would here throw out, as a suggestion, whether it might not be an improvement were the same judges always to go over the same circuit. They would become more acquainted with character, and the tendency to particular crimes; and, as no injustice is so hurtful as justice improperly or unevenly administered, it were perhaps better that the particular bias or feeling of a judge be operative over a certain than an uncertain district.

    The only argument, of any value, which I have heard advanced against this arrangement, is, an apprehension of jealousy lest judges should form friendships or connections in such limited districts, which might influence them in the performance of their duty. But when we look to the high unimpeachable character of the venerable persons who now fill those distinguished offices; and when we consider the pure and honourable feeling, inseparable from the present public education of the class from which these individuals are so scrupulously selected, this fear must surely vanish. If further security be required, it may be best found in the publicity of our law courts, and the freedom permitted to the remarks as well as the reports of the public press.

    Many laudable efforts have been made, of late years, to overcome the quibbles by which indictments are evaded, and crime consequently unpunished. Much, however, still remains to be done. What can be more practically absurd than a late direction of a learned judge to a jury, to acquit a man accused of stealing two ducks, because it appeared he killed them before he stole them; and the judge held that two ducks implied two live ducks? In a case of child murder, which created a great sensation about two years since, the culprit escaped because the child was misnamed in the indictment. In the well known case at York, the trial of a man for poisoning two children, the only matter of doubt was as to the correctness of the names, if they had been baptized William and George, as alleged in the defence, or William and James, as stated in the indictment, although the mother and numerous witnesses proved the identity. Again, in a late case where a stage-coach was overturned, one person killed, and several maimed, the coachman is indicted and acquitted. Why? Not from any doubt of his identity,—not from any doubt of his guilt; but from want of satisfactory evidence to shew if the coach were drawn by mares or horses, or how many of each! I will not waste time in demonstrating the pernicious effects to the administration of justice by occurrences of this description.

(To be concluded in our next.)

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 29 Jan 1831 2

THOUGHTS AND SUGGESTIONS ON THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY,
Thoughts and Suggestions on the Present Condition of the Country,
———◦———

(Concluded from our last.)

    I will now proceed to enquire how far emigration may be considered as desirable or available to our present redundant population; and, if so, which are the colonies offering the greatest temptation.

    The most evident mode of relief when a district is overburdened with population, is, that the superfluous portion should remove to fresh and unoccupied lands. This was the language of Abraham to Lot, when the first emigration on record took place; “When their substance was so greatly increased, that the land could not hold them, and they could no longer dwell together.”

    The same doctrine is equally applicable to States. The Romans turned their conquests to the most important ends, by introducing their language, manners, and laws, to the nations they subdued. By placing a legion in a conquered province, and allowing it gradually to domesticate therein, they obtained the most certain pledge of loyalty, obedience, and regard for the interests of the parent country. If, for colonization, a regiment, after a certain period of service, were permitted to send home its staff and colours, and grants of land given to those willing to accept them, on condition of being attached to a fencible corps, to act when called upon, a body of settlers would be created of the most valuable description, and a great reduction of colonial expense permanently effected.

    As a general principle of colonization, and in fact as an inducement, without which it can never be effectively applied, I should assume, that the sound policy of action would be to extend to such selected portions of our empire as broadly as possible the theory and practice of the British Constitution; that whether a man awake in the morning, and find himself in Exeter or Parramatta; on the banks of the Thames, or on the side of the St Lawrence; his security in person, in property, in liberty, and in constitutional rights, be as nearly as possible the same. The only natural obstacle which has hitherto existed to the adaptation of British population to British territory, has been the distance; that obstacle is now rapidly diminishing under improved science, and the applications of powers formerly unknown; and in all human probability, before many years elapse, time and space, which have already been so wonderfully reconciled, will be brought still nearer together.

    Before I refer to the selection of places calculated for such successful colonization, I am anxious to protest against the emigration now so largely proceeding to the United States of America. I can conceive nothing more injuriously detrimental to the interests of this country, than to sanction the expatriation of the most active, enterprising, and industrious of our people, and to permit them to become citizens of a State, which in the course of natural events, when it acquires sufficient strength, will challenge the possession of some of our most valuable territories. To that country, population is the most estimable boon, the most important wealth; and, with the growth of that population, will also increase a jealousy of the commercial prosperity of Great Britain, and an ardent and natural desire to carry on a successful rivalry. I am convinced, that a more wise or provident grant of public money could not be made, than one calculated to assist parishes diposed [sic] to help forward to emigration a portion of their present redundant population, provided such emigration be made to British colonies.

    The colonies hitherto proposed as applicable to emigration, are Canada, the Cape of Good Hope, and New Holland. The chief argument in favour of Canada is the comparatively short passage by sea; but the subsequent navigation of lakes and rivers, containing obstacles unknown to the inland navigation of Europe, together with the severity of a protracted winter, must more than compensate for this advantage; and, when the labour necessary to clear forest land be considered, it is evident that objections of a very serious nature exist. As to the Cape, the climate is by no means favourable, the access by sea stormy and dangerous, a variety of animals inimical to human life, beast, fish, and reptile, the inroads of Boshmen and Caffres; together with the habits of the Dutch population; are all obstacles of considerable weight. In fact, as in most of our conquered colonies, traits of a code of laws contrary to British feelings, are permitted to exist, by the articles of capitulation; it follows, that these stipulations will always act as barriers to any considerable free English population. But Australia, a colony entirely of British growth, and possessing the first natural advantages of the known world, seems to all others the best adapted for emigration. The very distance is an advantage to our shipping; and the incalculable extent of territory opens boundless sources of wealth, employment, and investigation.

    The first desideratum towards effecting a beneficial alteration in this colony, would be to relieve it, as far as possible, from the imputation of a convict colony, especially of the most infamous class of offenders. The transmission of Hunt, the notorious accomplice of Thurtell; of the Coxes, for the Shrewsbury murder; and others of similar atrocity; produced the greatest injury, by extending this prejudice. What I could wish to see effected, would be the establishment of an entirely new secondary punishment, for more severe in its operation, and consequently far more salutary in its effects, than the present process. I propose to divide culprits generally into two classes; 1st, those who commit crime with free inclination, and from actual depravity; and 2dly, those who are driven to evil courses by sheer want and destitution. Among the former I would class all cases where culprits had acted in gangs (except poachers), all repeated offences, all pickpockets from London and populous towns; and, above all, that most useless class, generally designated as gentlemen convicts, persons guilty of minor forgery, of breaches of trust, as merchant’s clerks, &c; for these, an entirely new species of punishment should be devised; but for the agricultural labourer, driven to commission of crime by the circumstances I have already detailed, transportation for life, under the name of colonization, is the best, and most humane remedy; and this on the ground that his errors chiefly resulting from want of employment, reformation, the great object of punishment, will be best obtained by placing him in a new course of life, where profitable employment is certain. I should propose, that for a certain period he be held under special restrictions, and deprived of some rights of a free subject; and this principally for the purpose of drawing a line between the culprit, and the free settler. These restrictions would, however, disappear, as amended conduct and good behaviour became manifest, until wholly removed on the assurance of permanent reformation. But, in all cases, I should require that the wife, and family under sixteen years of age, be send out at the expense of the parish to which the culprit belongs. From this regulation, parishes would be induced to give a fair rate of wages, so as to prevent this charge, though in fact the eventual expense of an average sized family will not be increased. In the Committee on Labourer’s Wages, Mr Henry Boyce, the overseer, of the parish of Waldershare, in Kent, after stating that in the adjoining parish of Ash, the paupers (i.e. the superabundant population) are regularly put up to auction every Thursday, goes on to shew that

     “ 16 parishes were incorporated under Mr D Gilbert’s Act, in the establishment of a poor house; and although exceedingly well managed, under the direction of a most able Visitor, yet, from interest of money, salaries, incidental expenses, food and clothing, &c, each pauper, averaging all ages, cost five shillings per week; so that a worthless fellow, whom nobody will employ, being removed home to his own parish, where no accommodation can be provided, is sent with his family to the poor house, at more than double the cost of what the honest and industrious man can earn by his hard labour. A man and his wife, with four children, in the house, will cost the parish thirty shillings a week for doing nothing; but the hard-working man, with all his industry, cannot earn 15s; and yet it would be more to my interest to employ the honest man at 15s than a rogue at half that sum.”—Report, 1828, page 23.

    Thus, then, it appears that £78 per annum is the expense to a parish in this district for a pauper, his wife, and four children. In the Isle of Sheppey, a man, and his wife, and four children, not in the poor house, that is, when they can keep the pauper in his cottage, costs £39 per annum; and this I consider to be the fair average rate of relief afforded in the agricultural counties. If, then, this calculation be correct, and leaving the case of workhouse paupers, at £13 cost per head, out of the question, we may say, for the sake of round numbers, that every unemployed family of this extent is a dead weight upon the country of £40; in other words, consuming annually £40, which, otherwise, would be beneficially employed. If, then, you place this family in a condition where they can consume and pay for £20 worth a year, of home manufacture, you are actually encreasing [sic] the national wealth in a ratio of £60 for every family so provided.

    The vice and immorality, however, attending the present system of transportation, are far greater than is generally understood. The single man views the change with pleasure and gratification. But I must now refer to the three classes of married men formerly described: 1st, Forced marriages. In this case, the parties can little regret a separation. 2dly, Voluntary, but contracted for the purpose of obtaining enlarged relief. This case is nearly similar to the last. And, 3dly, Those founded on mutual affection; and here alone the real punishment is effected. At present, every convict sent out as a married man is restricted from marrying in the colony until he can produce a certificate of his wife’s burial in England. The consequence is obvious; illegal connections are formed; and those who are most industrious and thriving have a spurious offspring, are degraded in the scale of society, and, as their children cannot inherit, are liable to claims and litigation, which, in all probability, in a very few years, will require some bill of amnesty or indemnity to regulate the possession of property, and the sale and transfer of such property.

    Again, there is surely nothing harsh or cruel in sending out the family of the convict under the regulations now proposed, and of the description now marked for colonization. The moral contract which binds man and wife, and deems the latter to abide the woe as well as the weal of the former, is surely far more imperative than the human law which decides ties ever to be regarded as inviolable. In a word, I would consider the transportation of this class of offender as a minor species of colonization, not attended with the disgrace of felons, but provided on the more charitable supposition, that their conduct, having proved their inability to maintain themselves at home, they will be placed in a situation where (though for a time liable to restriction) they may, by good behaviour, retrieve their lost ground, and become useful and contented members of society. But I shall be told, and most reasonably told, that I am bound to mark out a secondary punishment calculated to diminish the infliction of death, and to replace transportation. It was my intention to move for the appointment of a Select Committee on this subject during the last Session, 1829, had I not been prevented by the powerful interest excited by one leading question. I will not now enter into a formal detail or comparison between the various modes which might be submitted, but I will assume, as a general principle, that those who have violated the regulations by which the community have consented to be governed, (for all human law is a sacrifice of a certain portion of natural liberty to ensure general safety,) are bound, in reparation to that community, to undergo certain privations, or encounter particular dangers by which general advantages may be gained, so as to balance the evil occasioned. So far the adoption of condemned regiments might answer this end; but I am aware that in certain quarters a strong objection will exist to measures of this nature. I conceive the uncertainty of punishment adds much to its terrors; and that were the general sentence to be confiscation of civil rights, with liability to be employed as Government might direct, and for a period in conformity with the offence, to be substituted for that transportation, with all the particulars of which the culprit is now perfectly prepared, the example would be great and effective. Much might certainly be done in employing criminals on Government labour in other colonies than those appropriated for colonization, as Bermuda, the Cape of Good Hope, or Trinidad; and I conceive the worst class might be employed, under certain restrictions, in the West Indies. It may be said that it is virtually sending them to destruction. Still we scruple not to place our soldiers and sailors on such duty; and we all know that thousands of our free born youth are ready and anxious to go forth to any climate where they can obtain employment. Much more, I am convinced, might also be accomplished by these means in checking the slave trade than is generally imagined. The East India Company might be required, by their new charter, to give employment to a certain portion of criminals in their salt works, &c. These suggestions, however, are merely intended for future enquiry and consideration. As to lighter offences, perpetrated with criminal views, and without the extenuation of want, solitary confinement, confinement with hard labour and low diet, and the use of the scourge for juvenile delinquents, appear most effectual. For idleness, debauchery, and dissipation, substitute toil and abstinence, or confinement in solitude, to encourage reflection and penitence. In a word, let punishment be sharp and severe in quality, but short in duration.

    This alteration of the convict system in New South Wales would greatly tend to promote the settlement of respectable persons. In the year 1824, I submitted to the Colonial Office the original plan for a commutation of half pay and pensions, which has seen been partially acted upon. The entire system might now be most beneficially brought forward. The original institution of half pay was intended to answer two purposes; 1st, to reward length of service unattended by circumstances deserving a special remuneration; and 2dly, as a retaining fee, to secure the services of the individual, should they again be required. It follows, then, that when the military establishment of the country has been continued for a length of time, on a certain extent, then, that the persons placed on half pay are of the first class; but, when any sudden diminution of establishment occur, the parties so reduced, may be said to belong to the second class; and when, in consequence of a long continued state of tranquillity succeeding an active war, a large proportion of such officers have survived their proper grade, and may not be placed in their actual rank with advantage to the service, it follows that such person are not to be regarded as having anything to offer in exchange for their half pay, but are, in point of fact, to be viewed as public annuitants. I shall then propose a mode by which this annuitant might, at his own pleasure, redeem his annuity on terms desirable to himself, and highly favourable to the public.

    A return has just been laid on the table of the House of Commons, of the several amounts paid in each of the years 1826,1827, 1828, and 1829, for half pay, and retired superannuated allowances, distinguishing the amount under separate heads and departments; from this I select the return for the year 1829, as applicable to the present case.

 

 

Army, 1829

 

£.

 

s.

 

d.

 

£.

 

s.

 

d.

 

Half pay, and allowances to officers, not being general officers

 

866,431

 

12

 

7

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Militia adjutants, and serjeant majors

 

11,702

 

17

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adjutants of Local Militia

 

17,205

 

14

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superannuation allowances

 

48,462

 

19

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Commissariat

 

46,545

 

5

 

9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

990,348

 

3

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out-Pensioners of Chelsea & Kilmainham Hospitals

 

1,309,633

 

19

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2,299,982

 

8

 

4

 

This statement does not include the army pay of general officers, hospital in-pensioners, widows, royal bounties, military asylum, compassionate list, foreign half pay, &c., nor pensions for wounds; though the list might be easily included on the same scale. In 1829, it amounted to the sum of £119,167 17s. 7d.

 

Navy, 1829—Half Pay.

 

£.

 

s.

 

d.

 

£

 

s.

 

d.

 

Officers

 

824,504

 

6

 

4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Royal marine officers

 

51,113

 

2

 

10

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superannuation, &c. Officers, &c. in military line of the service

 

127,174

 

16

 

5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil department of navy

 

130,518

 

7

 

11

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victualling department

 

33,331

 

12

 

6

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chaplains

 

1,372

 

10

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,168,014

 

16

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Out-pensioners of Greenwich Hospital

 

250,000

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1,418,014

 

16

 

0

 

Exclusive of windows’ and orphans’ allowances, and also the compassionate list.

 

Ordinance, 1829.  Military

 

£.

 

s.

 

d.

 

£.

 

s.

 

d.

 

Superannuation & half pay officers

 

55,118

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ditto, non-commissioned, and privates

 

189,004

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pensions wounded officers

 

7,393

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Civil—Do. to civil officers, artificers, & labourers

 

36,848

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barrack department

 

17,340

 

0

 

0

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

305,703

 

0

 

0

 

Exclusive of retired general officers, of allowances for improvements & inventions, widow, and children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thus making a total sum of

 

3,773,700

 

4

 

4

  

    Of this enormous sum, a very considerable portion is annually transferred to the provincial towns of France, or the cheap and plentiful districts of the Netherlands. The parties, being restrained from embracing other professions, are compelled to avail themselves of the comparatively cheap terms on which they can support and educate their families.

    I may, perhaps, be allowed to add, that the half pay and retired allowances in the civil departments, amounted , in 1829, to £478,967 16s 3d, of which a very large proportion was paid to persons who had retired from the Excise and Customs.

    If, then, a proposition to this effect were submitted, that to persons producing certificates of good health, and, within certain limits of age, an advance of perhaps five times the annual amount of the annuity, together with a liberal grant of land, would be tendered in commutation of all demands, I have reason to believe that such terms would be accepted by numbers; and although the redeeming fund might, at first sight, appear large, still it would be entirely expended in channels which would revert to British industry; and it would introduce a very valuable description of settlers, who would fill up a most important rank in society, and would encourage emigration by causing an increased demand for labour.

    I concede this principle might be still further extended to a large portion of civil pensioners, who are now annuitants of a different class. It requires no great clerkship to prove the important result to the Exchequer in the immediate increase of exports, and the diminution of taxation which would shortly take place.

    I will now briefly allude to the encouraging circumstances which would induce parties to avail themselves of such a measure as has just been described. In the first place, there is an intuitive desire in every man to possess property which he can call his own, under a safe and constitutional legislation, by which those rights of property and of civil and religious security which he has been accustomed to consider as superior to any other form of government, are fully recognised, and a fair field of enterprise thrown open to industry and perseverance. The climate of Australia, so congenial to the health of our countrymen, is another inducement, whilst the fertility, and applicability, of the soil, render resolution, activity, and industry, certain of successful results. The following important articles may be derived from the colony, the value of which may be ascertained by a reference to their import entries and duties; those marked * are the produce of countries over which we possess no control.

 Almonds  *  Hemp  *  RawSilk
 Capers  *   Olives  *  Thrownditto  * 
 Cochineal  *  OliveOil  *  Tobacco  * 
 Cotton  *  Sperm Oil  Wax  * 
 Figs and other dried fruits  *  Opium  *  Wines  * 
 Indigo (partly South American)  Linseed and Oil  *  Whale fin
 Flax  *  RapeSeed  *  Wool(fine)  * 

 

    Of these articles I will briefly remark, that the cotton grown on my estate, as a first trial, and from seed of by no means the best quality, is pronounced, in this country, inferior only to the Sea Island; and, in the last report of the Australian Agricultural Company for 1829, a letter is inserted from Alexander Jopp, Esq, of Aberdeen, stating the result of an experiment made in the Banner Mills, near that town, on cotton transmitted from the colony, which is estimated next to Sea Island cotton, and valued at from 7d to 9d per pound. * 3

    The success of the olive trees has been extraordinary; so much so, that Mons De Frecinet [sic–Freycinet], during his late visit, considered the oil superior, for the purposes to which gallipoli is now applied, to the productions of France or Italy. The mulberry grows luxuriantly, and the Levantine lettuce, which throws off the cocoon entirely white, avoiding the yellow tint, at present discharged by a process of a very deteriorating nature, may be cultivated to any extent.

    The importance of ensuring a supply of hemp and flax from our own colonies, demands no argument. The enormous sums paid for these articles, during the last war, should be a sufficient stimulus to render Great Britain independent of foreign supply for the future.

    Tobacco answers extremely well; and the Agricultural Report already alluded to, expresses the most sanguine hopes of a large supply, together with the most satisfactory account of what has been brought into the market.

    Mr Gregory Blaxland, of Parramatta, the largest proprietor of vineyards in the colony, declares his conviction, that wine will shortly become a staple article of export.

    By adopting, then, a line of policy, such as has been thus recommended, the demand for labour in the colony would speedily relieve the mother country of her surplus unemployed population, so as to enable the legislature to retrace its steps, and restore our poor laws to their original purity,—to that state contemplated by the provisions of the 43rd Elizabeth, which secured assistance to those who might labour under a visitation of Providence, or who might be reduced by age, sickness, or infirmity; but never contemplated the creation of a fund for the relief of the able-bodied, nor a false capital for the production of paupers beyond the means of employment. The principal difficulty to surmount, is the number of able-bodied paupers wholly destitute of remunerative labour. A judicious attention to emigration would, however, soon obviate this evil; and, when a fair balance be once struck between home demand and employment, then there can be no objection to provide against a recurrence of future and similar danger; thus, the common argument will be removed, that as fast as one swarm of population be thrown off, another will be produced. As to the plan of cultivating waste lands in England, after the most careful consideration, I am convinced of the utter fallacy of such doctrine. One of the most prominent causes of the existing evil has been, the bringing into cultivation portions of land, which can only bear tillage during high prices for produce. The expense of settling a man, his wife, and three children, on waste land, at home, has been estimated, before the Emigration Committee, by Mr Cowling, the surveyor, at £75.

    The main objection to Mr Wilmot Horton’s plan of emigration was its complex machinery. I doubt not that parishes would gladly defray the outfit and a portion of passage expenses to their surplus population, say, twelve months average expense of a family, which I have already shewn to be £40. If an office were to be established, under the authority of Government, in which contracts for workmen and labourers could be registered by colonists in want of such assistance, and undertaking to indent the emigrant for a certain number of years at moderate wages, but paying down the moiety of the passage money on his arrival, then, indeed, much of the present difficulty would be overcome. What is principally required is a reciprocal system, by which the over-stocked parish of England could meet the under-stocked district of Australia, dividing the expenses of transmission, and ensuring the comfort and prosperity of the emigrant.

    I will not now enter upon any calculation as to the present or future resources of the colony. All doubt is now removed, that it possesses the means, if properly developed, of rendering the most material service to the mother country. Probably, when the higher latitudes are exploded, mineral wealth and precious stones will be discovered; whether such discovery may tend to the benefit of the country, is a difficult subject. But the wealth derivable by good management in that new and virgin portion of the globe, may do as much for England, as any of her colonies have done in former periods of her history. The wealth poured into Britain, from the West Indian islands, supported her finances during the American war. The treasures of the East enabled the Exchequer successfully to contend with revolutionary France. The yet untried sources of wealth, considering industry and employment only as wealth, which may be drawn from Australia, may yet extricate this country from the difficulties with which she is now embarrassed,—may afford plentiful means to thousands, who, from destitution and misery, are daily merging into crime,—and may tend to the accomplishment of that great and manifest intention of Providence to carry civilization to the uttermost portion of the universe.

 


1  The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Thu 27 Jan 1831, p. 4. Emphasis added.

2  The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, Sat 29 Jan 1831, p. 4.

3  * In the Times, 30th April, 1830, is a statement from Liverpool to this effect, that cotton, imported from Australia, per Amethyst, had been sold in three lots, which produced 10¾d, 11d, and 11¼d per lb; it is reported “as being of a good colour, and clean, and of a long and strong staple; the texture silky.”