If, on the other hand, we take a hasty survey of the advantages, which I trust it has been satisfactorily proved, would be consequent on internal distillation, never, it will be seen, was there a measure which could adduce in its support more urgent and weighty considerations. It would afford employment, and thus impart fresh health and vigor to the agricultural body, debilitated by long suffering and disease; it would place the means of the colonists on a level with their wants, and by creating a good and sufficient medium of circulation in the place of the present worthless currency, would give rise to other channels of industry, and to the speedy establishment of an export trade. It is the only possible way of insuring the colony against the calamitous effects which have hitherto been invariably attendant on the inundations of the river Hawkesbury; it would lessen the injurious preponderancy of the government in the market, by creating a great competition for the purchase of grain, and would thus prevent the arbitrary imposition on this, the principal production of the colonists, of a maximum that is frequently beneath its just value, and it would improve the morals of the present and of future generations. With these irresistible arguments in favour of this measure, it must be evident that the cause of justice and morality would be violated by any further unnecessary delay in its adoption.
The next object of internal consumption, to which in my opinion the government ought to direct the attention of the colonists, is the growth of tobacco. The amount of the annual importation of this article from the United States of America and the Brazils, (the two supplying countries) cannot be estimated at less than five thousand pounds. This would be a very material saving to the colony in its present circumstances, and one that might be effected with the greatest ease, and without prejudice to any part of the empire. The only question in this instance is, whether it be more politic that the colony should supply itself, or be dependent on foreigners. There are no contending interests to reconcile, no portion of his majesty's subjects in any part of the globe, who could wish to oppose the imposition of a prohibitory duty on the importation of this article into the colony. And this is the only measure that would be necessary to direct the attention of the settlers to this highly important production, for which it has been found that the climate and soil of the colony are peculiarly adapted. In three years at most, after the adoption of this regulation, the colonists would raise a sufficient quantity of tobacco for their own consumption. It will be an after consideration for the government to take the requisite means to promote the increased growth and exportation of this highly important product to the mother country. The immense advantage that she would derive from possessing in one of her own colonies, an article of such general consumption, and for which she is at present entirely tributary to foreign powers, is too obvious to need illustration, and too considerable not to attract the attention and encouragement of her legislature.
Hemp, flax, and linseed, are also productions to which the climate and soil of the colony, and its dependent settlements at the Derwent and Port Dalrymple are remarkably congenial, and the growth of which might be easily promoted by wise regulations. Yet highly valuable as are all these productions, and altogether dependent as is this country for the amazing quantities of them, which she consumes in her navy, her manufactures, and her commerce, no attempt has been made since the establishment of the colony to direct the attention of its inhabitants to their growth and exportation. The views of the different gentlemen, who have been successively intrusted with the government, have either never reached so far, or else their means have been inadequate to the accomplishment of these great ends. In embellishing the capital, and erecting various public edifices, of which, however, I do not mean to question the utility, their attention appears to have been chiefly absorbed. It seems never to have come into their contemplation that all these embellishments would have been the natural and inevitable results of the increasing prosperity of the community, but that they could never of themselves either create or promote it. A flourishing agriculture, a thriving commerce, would have equally effected all these objects; but with this material difference, without that enormous expence to this country with which they have been attended. The imposition of small taxes for the promotion of public objects, is no grievance to a people whose prosperity is the work of a wise and considerative government. An impolitic and oppressive one cancels alike the will to make, and the power to levy such contributions; and imposes on itself the necessity of moderating its wants, or of having recourse to foreign channels for their supply. In this instance the great burden of these public undertakings has fallen on this country, nor have they been the most inconsiderable item in the amount of the colonial expenditure. Yet all that has been already lavished, and all that this country may hereafter lavish in prosecution of the same narrow and absurd system, will have but little influence in promoting the real purposes of colonization.
This mania for building, which has always directed the government, has unfortunately communicated itself to the colonists, particularly those who inhabit the various towns, and they are at present in the condition of a man who has a large house, but wants wherewithal to furnish and support it. Their situation would be more enviable, if they had smaller habitations replete with a greater degree of plenty and comfort. The establishment of an export trade, that may enable them to procure in sufficient abundance those foreign commodities which long habit has rendered indispensable to civilized life, is what they desire, and what a wise government would desire also; more especially since the parent colony is a great manufacturing nation, and possesses the power of supplying the commodities in question. Millions more expended in the same improvident manner as heretofore, will not effect this great object; and with half the expence already incurred a politic government would have already accomplished it. Of this assertion the labours of an individual, who, if on the one hand he has met with some support from the more liberal and enlightened administration of this country, has constantly experienced, on the other, all the opposition which the envy and malevolence of the local government could throw in his way, furnish an indubitable proof.
This gentleman, John Mac Arthur, Esq. formerly a captain in the New South Wales corps, which was afterwards converted into the 102d regiment, embarked more largely from the very commencement of the colony, in the rearing of sheep and cattle, than any other individual. Notwithstanding the very great profits which his extensive flocks and herds yielded him, a circumstance that would have satisfied the ambition, and lulled to sleep the inquiries of a less penetrating mind, he foresaw so long as fifteen years back, what has since been realized, the crisis of general distress and embarassment, to which the course pursued by the local government, would eventually conduct; and on the occasion of his being unjustly ordered to this country by the then governor, where he soon vindicated himself from the charges imputed to him, he convinced the ministry of the advantages that would accrue to the nation from promoting in the colony the growth of fine wool; and obtained from them a considerable grant of land, and various encouragements besides, in order to enable him to carry this highly important project into execution. Among other indulgences, he procured an order in council permitting him to embark on board the vessel that was to reconvey him to the colony, four Spanish ewes and a ram, which he had purchased out of the king's flocks. With this small beginning he undertook, and in spite of an incessant war waged against him by malignity and misrepresentation, the withholding in some measure of the encouragements ordered by the liberality of his majesty's ministry, and endless other disappointments and vexations that would have damped any ordinary resolution, his efforts have been crowned with the most complete success, and he has at present not less than five thousand sheep, of which the wool from continual crosses with Spanish tups, the progeny of the few sheep purchased by him at the sale of the king's flocks, has become as fine as the best imported from Saxony, and has been found to surpass it in elasticity, a quality highly conducive to the firmness and durability of the cloth. Many gentlemen also of the colony who have large flocks, sensible of the folly of breeding sheep for the mere sake of the carcases, which in consequence of the limited population, and unlimited extent of grazing country, have already become of inferior value, and in a short time more will be worth little or nothing, entered some years back on this gentleman's system; and there may, perhaps, be among all the rest of the sheep holders, the same number of fine woolled sheep which he alone possesses. Here then is an exportable article of immense consequence to the colony, and of the highest political importance to this country; an article indispensable to the support of her staple manufacture, and for which she has hitherto been altogether dependent on foreign nations; yet has no attempt but the one I have just alluded to, been made, either by the government of this country, or of the colony, to direct the attention of the sheep-holders to its production; on the contrary, the greatest obstacles have been thrown in the way of this gentleman's success, obstacles which none but the most enthusiastic spirit could have surmounted. Thanks, however, to his invincible perseverance, the dawn of prosperity is at length breaking on the colony. The long stormy night of suffering and misery is drawing to a close; yet a few years, and the sun of peace and plenty will appear on its horizon. But although this event will in the natural course of things soon take place, its approach may be greatly accelerated, or retarded by the wisdom or folly of the government. The colonists, in spite of every impediment they may have to encounter, cannot much longer remain insensible to the advantages which they possess, who have already followed the wise example of this gentleman: these they will daily behold in the enjoyment of comparative ease and happiness, and in possession of a certain progressive income, exposed to few or no contingencies, and dependent on no man for its extent and duration; while on the other hand, they will find that their own income must not only diminish every year, but also rest for its continuance on the good pleasure of their governor, who, if he should even possess the will, would not want the power to enlarge it to any considerable amount, and who, should he be their enemy, might at any time reduce it to nothing. The manifest superiority, therefore, which the proprietors of fine woolled possess over those of coarse woolled sheep, would alone suffice in the end to draw the attention of all the sheep-holders in the colony to the improvement and perfection of the wool of their flocks. This is happily a much easier task at present than at the period when Mr. Mac Arthur first entered on the system of crossing. At that epoch there were few sheep in the colony, but such as had been introduced from the East Indies, which it is well known are entirely covered with hair. This race, so disgusting in its appearance to Englishmen, has long since disappeared; nor are there any sheep at present, whose wool could be termed actually coarse: the wool of the Leicester breed is perhaps the coarsest that could any where be found. A few years continual crossing with Spanish tups would consequently suffice to cover all the sheep in the colony with fine wool. Three crosses which under a proper system would occupy about six years, would be sufficient, if the government would employ the means at their disposal, to accomplish this great national object. The number of sheep in the month of November last amounted, as it has already been seen, to 170,920; out of which, as I have just stated, 10,000 are of the pure Spanish breed or nearly: it may therefore be perceived what an immense exportation of this precious article might take place in a few years, under judicious and politic regulations.
No country in the world is perhaps so well adapted to the growth of fine wool as this colony. There is in its climate alone, a peculiar congeniality for the amelioration of wool, which has been found of itself to occasion in a few years, a very perceptible improvement in the fleeces of the coarsest description of sheep. Even the East India breed, entirely covered with hair, produce without being crossed with a finer race a progeny, the superiority of whose fleece over that of the parent stock is visible in every remoter generation. This amazing congeniality of climate is supported by local advantages of equal if not greater importance. For hundreds of miles into the interior, the country has been found to be covered with the richest pasturage, and every where intersected with rivulets of the finest water. A constant succession of hill and dale diversifies the whole face of the country, which is so free from timber, that in many places there are thousands of acres without a tree.
The settlements at the Derwent and Port Dalrymple, though situated in a colder climate, and therefore in all probability not equally congenial to the growth of fine wool, afford the same excellent pasture, and contain in every respect besides, the same facilities for the rearing of Spanish sheep, whose fleeces it is reasonable to expect on comparing the climate of these settlements, with that of Saxony, would not degenerate, if the same system which prevails in that country were followed in the management of sheep in this.
Saxony is situated between the 50th and 51st parallels of north latitude; and Van Diemen's Land, on the northern and southern parts of which these two settlements are formed, between the 41st and 43d degrees of south; so that allowing for the superior coldness of the southern hemisphere, the whole of this island possesses a climate more congenial to the growth of wool, than the finest parts of a country, whose wool exceeds in value that of Spain and Italy. The settlers, however, have not yet opened their eyes to the advantage of having fine woolled flocks, although they have for many years past had but a very limited market for their mutton, and the government there, as at Port Jackson, have made no efforts to turn their attention to this object.
This unaccountable indifference to a matter of such vast political importance, it is to be hoped will at length be followed by a proper degree of attention and encouragement. Among all the various ends proposed by our extended colonial system, none perhaps is more intrinsically worthy the cordial undeviating support of his majesty's government, than the one in question. In twenty years, the extensive exportation which might be effected under proper regulations in this single article, would alone raise the colonists from the point of depression and misery to which they have been reduced, to as high a pitch of affluence and prosperity as is enjoyed by any portion of his majesty's subjects in any quarter of the globe. Before the expiration of that period, I am convinced that they might be enabled to ship for this country, at least a million's worth of fine wool annually; and for the accomplishment of this vast national object, it would not be necessary for this country to expend one far-thing more than is at present wasted in prosecution of a system of mere secondary importance, and having little or no bearing on the eventual prosperity of the colony. It is only by establishing this prosperity on a solid basis, by encouraging the growth of exports, until they rise to a level with its imports, that it can be converted from an unproductive and ruinous dependency into a profitable and important appendage. Whenever it shall have attained this point of advancement, whenever it shall have acquired an independence in its resources, then, and not before, will it begin to answer the real ends of all colonization, the extension of the commerce and rescurces of the empire. Then like some vast river of the ocean, will it pour back its majestic stream into the bosom of its parent flood, and contribute to the circulation and salubrity of its bounteous author.
Among the various remaining articles of export, which the colony is capable of producing, and to which the industry of its inhabitants might be gradually attracted, the last two that I shall specify, are the vine and the olive. These, indeed, with the various productions which I have already named, are capable of such vast extension, as to be fully adequate to absorb all the energies of the colonists for many years to come, whatever may be the increase in their numbers. To mention, therefore, the endless less important productions to which the climate and soil of this colony are equally congenial, would only be to perplex their choice, and to divert, perhaps, their industry into less productive channels. It would be superfluous to dwell upon the happy results that would attend the general introduction and culture of these two productions, both with reference to them as articles of internal consumption and exportation; since it is well known how materially they contribute to the comfort and affluence of the countries which are blessed with them. I shall, therefore, only just mention that the greatest facilities have been lately afforded for their general culture by the same gentleman who first introduced the Spanish sheep into the colony; and that there is only now wanting the fostering hand of the government to occasion their further propagation.
One of the most efficacious measures that could be adopted, as well for their general introduction, as for that of the various other valuable productions before enumerated, would perhaps be the establishment of a colonial plantation, in which a certain number of the most enterprizing youths might be instructed in their culture and preparation. This institution might, I am convinced, be founded under a proper system without occasioning any considerable expence. The first step to be taken would of course be the selection of a fit allotment of ground, which ought to be granted to trustees, according to the usual forms of law. These should consist of a certain number of gentlemen of consideration in the colony, who would consent to hold this office as an honorary one, without any view to private emolument, and for the mere sake of promoting the public weal. To place this institution near the capital, Sydney, where the greater part of the land is already located, and besides of a very indifferent quality, ought not, by any means, to be attempted, not only for these reasons, but also because the youth, whom it would be the main object of this institution to train up to economical and laborious pursuits, would run the risk of contracting the vicious habits, and falling into the excesses of that town; a probability which a removal to a proper distance from that sink of iniquity, would effectually provide against. The most eligible situation, perhaps, for the establishment of this highly important institution would be some fertile spot in the cow pastures, which, as it has been already mentioned, are injudiciously reserved for the use of the wild cattle, notwithstanding that they have nearly disappeared.
The only two individuals who have grants of land in this district are Messrs. Mac Arthur and Davison; and my recommendation that this institution should be formed in the same district, is not more influenced by the fertility of its soil than by the contiguity which it would in this case possess to the former gentleman's estate; a contiguity, which would enable him frequently to visit it, and to afford the director of it such information as could not fail to contribute very materially to its progress and success. It must be quite unnecessary for me to dwell on the importance of confiding the superintendence of such an establishment to some one, who might be duly qualified for the discharge of the duties that would be attached to it. Perhaps the government would act wisely, if my suggestion on this head should be deemed worthy of attention, in selecting for this office an intelligent person from the South of France, who has been accustomed to the culture of the vine and the olive. These with tobacco, hemp, and flax, are the objects to which, I am of opinion the attention of such an institution would be most beneficially applied. And if, as is not improbable, it should be found impracticable to procure a person acquainted with the culture and preparation of all these various productions, it would not be difficult to discover among the colonists themselves men of good character possessing the knowledge in which he might be deficient, and who might be assigned him as assistants, but still placed under his direction and control. The encouragement which I consider should be held out to the director, as well as to his subordinate agents, ought not to consist of stipulated salaries, which might superinduce lethargy, and prevent them from contributing their utmost to the success of the establishment, but of a certain proportion of the clear profits of the concern, after the deduction of all contingent expences. What I conceive this proportion ought to be, I will hereafter specify, as also the manner in which I would distribute the remainder. The subjects which I propose for immediate consideration are: 1st, The manner in which this institution might be founded; 2dly, The number and description of the candidates to be admitted, with the manner of their occupation; and, lastly, the nature of the encouragement to be accorded them.
The means necessary for this undertaking must be unavoidably supplied by the government. "The Police Fund" is so burdened with charges of one sort or another, that I fear it would prove of itself inadequate to the completion of this measure; although there can be no doubt, that most of the ends to which this fund is at present devoted are of but subordinate utility, and might be very advantageously postponed to the object under consideration. The erection of the different buildings that would be immediately required for the various incipient purposes of this institution, and the supply of its inmates with provisions and the requisite implements of husbandry during the first eighteen months of its establishment, after which period I consider they would be fully able to administer in these respects to their own wants, would be the principal expences to be incurred. About L6000 would suffice for these objects; while, in return, its operation would gradually extend itself to every district, would develope and bring to maturity various exportable commodities, which are as yet lying in embryo, and which this country does not possess in any of her colonies; and, in fine, would be more sensibly felt, and become more extensively beneficial, in proportion to its own progressive march towards perfection.
Secondly, With respect to the number of candidates to be admitted, they ought perhaps, in the first instance, to be limited to fifty, although they might, and indeed ought to be subsequently increased to not fewer than two hundred. More than those in the commencement, before a due degree of order and economy could be introduced, would undoubtedly create confusion and an unnecessary augmentation of expence. Fifty are as many as I conceive could be advantageously occupied for the first two or three years. It must, however, be obvious, that the capability of this institution for the reception and profitable employment of a greater number of pupils, would very materially depend on the director, and be, in a great measure, accelerated or retarded by his ability or incompetency for a due discharge of his duties.
As to the description of these candidates, it would, I consider, be proper that they should consist of young men born in the colony, or who may have come to it with their parents; that they should not exceed eighteen years of age, nor be under fifteen; that they should be of docile tempers and regular habits, which points should be ascertained previously to their admittance; and that their parents or guardians should bind them apprentice for the space of four years to the trustees or directors of this establishment for the time being, during which period they should renounce all control over them whatever.
I will not here pretend to prescribe all the various modes of occupation which it might be proper to allot them; I have already enumerated those productions, the culture of which I conceive might be most advantageously taught and disseminated by means of this institution. Others, however, of equal and perhaps greater utility, may be hereafter suggested by persons more conversant with the situation and interests of the colony, and ought unquestionably, if there be any such, to become identified with those which I have specified. Whatever may be the decision of more competent judges than myself on this subject, I may perhaps confidently venture to recommend, that the pupils should be divided into classes, that each of these should be instructed in a particular sort of culture at a time; and that upon the attainment of a thorough knowledge how to cultivate and prepare any one article, and not before, their attention should be directed to some other, and so on, till the expiration of their several apprenticeships. It would be proper also to allow their parents or guardians the selection of the occupations in which they might wish their children or wards to be instructed, in so far at least, as such occupations might be compatible with any of the purposes of the institution.
And lastly, with reference to the nature and extent of the encouragements to be accorded to the pupils, I would recommend, in order that their energies might be stretched to the greatest possible point of extension, that six eighths of the net annual profits arising from their labours should be set apart, and remain in the hands of the trustees, for their sole use and benefit; and that on their retiring from this institution, the accumulated amount should be equally divided among them, both to secure their successful establishment in life, and to render the knowledge which they may have severally acquired, of permanent benefit to the community. I would also recommend that the accounts both of the expenditure and profits of the institution should be annually submitted to the trustees for their approval, and afterwards printed and distributed among the pupils, not only for the purpose of provoking inquiry into their accuracy, and obtaining that rectification in case of error, which it might be difficult to effect after the lapse of five years; but also with a view to bring home to their understandings, and to convince them beyond the possibility of doubt, of the benefits which they may have derived from their past labours; a conviction that would prove the most cordial incentive, the most powerful lever which could be applied to their future industry and exertion. I would lastly recommend, that the quantity of land, and indeed that the encouragements of every kind which the government are in the habit of granting to the ordinary class of settlers, should be increased in a two-fold proportion to the pupils of this institution; but as it evidently would not be expedient or equitable that those who might habitually violate the regulations to be made for the good government of this little community, should receive on the one hand an equal recompence with those whose conduct might have always been regular and exemplary, or that they should be deprived on the other of their quota of the emoluments that might accumulate during the period of their apprenticeships, I would suggest, in order to mark that due gradation which in every well regulated society must necessarily exist in the scale of rewards to be accorded to such as may be subordinate or refractory,—industrious, or idle; that these latter encouragements should only be extended in this double ratio to those who might quit the establishment with a certificate of good conduct from the director.
With regard to the allowance to be made the gentleman to whom the directorship might be confided, I should imagine that one eighth of the clear profits arising from the institution, would be a most liberal compensation for his trouble and attention, and that the remaining eighth would be an equally handsome provision for the whole of his assistants: one of whom would be required for the superintendence and instruction of each of the classes into which it might be determined that the pupils should be divided.
Such are the principal measures which are essential to the revival of the agricultural prosperity. I will now briefly notice the various restrictions with which the commercial interests have been not less injudiciously fettered, and the removal of which is of the highest importance to the progress and welfare of the colony. These may be divided into two heads, duties and disabilities; and first, with reference to the duties with which the various articles of export that the colonists possess or procure, have been shackled by the successive governors. The duties in question are enumerated in the following schedule, and are levied upon the undermentioned articles, whether they are intended for home consumption or for exportation, in which latter case it will be seen that some few of them are even doubled.
On each ton of sandal wood L2 10 0 On each ton of pearl shells 2 10 0 On each ton of beche la mer 5 0 0 On each ton of sperm oil 2 10 0 On each ton of black whale or other oil 2 0 0 On each fur seal skin 0 0 11/2 On each hair ditto 0 0 01/2 On each kangaroo ditto 0 0 01/2 On cedar or other timber from Shoal-haven, or any other part of the coast or harbours of New South Wales (Newcastle excepted, as the duties are already prescribed there) when not supplied by government labourers, for each solid foot -010 For every twenty spars from New Zealand or elsewhere100On timber in log or plank from New Zealand, or elsewhere, for each solid foot 0 1 0 For each ton of coals from Newcastle for home consumption 0 2 6 Ditto if exported 0 5 0 For each thousand square feet of timber for home consumption 3 0 0 Ditto if exported 6 0 0
That all these duties should be levied on these different articles, in as far as they may be consumed in the colony, may be highly expedient; but that they should be equally levied on exportation, and in two of the most material instances doubled, is so manifestly absurd, that it must be quite superfluous to dilate on the subject. It is a system of policy which it may be safely asserted is unknown in any other part of the world; and nothing but the indubitable certainly of its existence would convince any rational person that it could ever have entered into the contemplation of any one intrusted with the government of a colony. These duties have had the effect which might have been expected from them; they have in most instances amounted to actual prohibitions. Their operation, indeed, has been found so burdensome and oppressive, that the colonial merchants have frequently petitioned the local government for relief; but no attention whatever has been paid to their repeated representations and remonstrances. Had it not been for the duties on coals and timber, some hundred tons of these valuable natural productions would have been exported annually to the Cape of Good Hope and India; since the vessels which have been in the practice of trading between those countries and the colony have always returned in ballast; and the owners or consignees would, therefore, have gladly shipped cargoes of timber or coals, if they could have derived the most minute profit from the freight of them. This observation holds good in a great measure with respect to the various other articles which have been enumerated: the exportation of the whole has been greatly circumscribed by the same ridiculous and vexatious system of impost. It can hardly be credited that the veriest sciolist in political economy could have been guilty of such a palpable deviation from its fundamental principles; but it is still more unaccountable, that a succession of governors should have pertinaciously adhered to a system of finance so absurd and monstrous.
Highly injurious, however, as are the duties which are levied in the colony, they are not nearly so oppressive as those which are levied in this country, on spermaceti, right whale, and elephant oils procured in vessels built in the colony. The duties on the importation of such oil into this country, are L24 18s. 9d. for the first sort, and L8 6s. 3d. for the two last. If we add to these enormous duties those which are levied by the authority of the local government, it will be perceived that all the spermaceti oil procured by the colonial vessels has to pay a duty of L28 8s. 9d. and all the right whale and elephant oil a duty of L10 6s. 3d. before it can come into competition with the oil of the same description procured in vessels built in the united kingdom. It has, however, been seen, that the colonists, propelled not less by that spirit of enterprize which distinguishes Englishmen in every quarter of the globe, than by the desire of finding profitable employment for that large portion of unoccupied labour, of which I have hastily pointed out the causes and march for the last fifteen years, have frequently attempted, notwithstanding these overwhelming prohibitions, to carry on these fisheries, but always without success; and that the valuable fishery of right whales which the river Derwent affords at a particular season, is now only resorted to, in order to procure the trifling supply of oil which is requisite for the East India market and for internal consumption. All attempts to export oil to this country have been for many years abandoned; since the trade could only be maintained at a dead loss, as the ruinous experience of many of the colonial merchants has abundantly attested. The reason why these enormous duties were imposed on oil procured in the colonial vessels is not generally understood here, but it is universally known in the colony; and the knowledge has materially tended to increase the dissatisfaction which the imposition of such duties would of itself, to a certain extent, have naturally excited. The act which authorizes these duties, is one of those smuggled acts by which, to the disgrace of our legislature, the welfare and happiness of helpless unprotected thousands have been so frequently sacrificed on the shrine of individual avarice or ambition. It originated in a certain great mercantile house extensively concerned in the South Sea fisheries, and could never have been passed, had there been a single person in either house of parliament, at all interested in the prosperity of this colony. This act, indeed, is such a terrible deviation, such a monstrous exception to the usual policy of this country with respect to the fisheries, that it carries with itself the strongest internal evidence of its polluted origin. No such restrictions had ever before been imposed on any of our colonies, as will be sufficiently evident, if we compare the duties which are levied in this country on oils procured in the vessels belonging to the colonies in North America and the West Indies, with those which are levied on oils procured in the vessels fitted out from the united kingdom. These duties are as follow:
*Train oil, the produce of fish, or creatures living in the sea, taken and caught by the crew of a British built vessel, wholly owned by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in Great Britain, Ireland, or the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, registered and navigated according to law, and imported in any such shipping, per ton 0 8 33/4
[* See Pope's Practical Abridgment of the Laws of Customs and Excise, etc. etc. Title 246.]
Train oil, the produce of fish, or creatures living in the sea, taken and caught on the banks and shores of the island of Newfoundland and parts adjacent, wholly by his majesty's subjects carrying on such fishery from that island, and residing therein, and exported directly from thence in a British built ship or vessel, registered and navigated according to law, per ton 1 4 111/4
Train oil, the produce of fish, or creatures living in the sea, taken and caught wholly by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in any of the Bahama or Bermudas islands, or in any British plantation in North America, and imported in a British built vessel, registered and navigated according to law, per ton 3 6 6
Train oil, the produce of fish, or creatures living in the sea, taken and caught wholly by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in any other British plantation, territory, or settlement, and imported in a British built vessel, registered and navigated according to law, per ton 8 6 3
Spermaceti oil, or head matter, taken and caught by the crew of a British built vessel, wholly owned by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in Great Britain, Ireland, and the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney, Sark, or Man, registered and navigated according to law, and imported in any such vessel, per ton 0 8 33/4
Spermaceti oil, or head matter, taken and caught on the banks and shores of the island of Newfoundland and parts adjacent, wholly by his majesty's subjects carrying on such fishery from that island, and residing therein, and imported directly from thence in a British built vessel registered and navigated according to law, per ton 1 4 111/4
Spermaceti oil, or head matter, taken and caught wholly by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in any of the Bahama or Bermudas islands, or in any British plantation in North America, and imported in a British built vessel, registered and navigated according to law, per ton 4 19 9
Spermaceti oil, or head matter, taken and caught wholly by his majesty's subjects, usually residing in any other British plantation, territory, or settlement, and imported in a British built vessel, registered and navigated according to law, per ton 24 18 9
From the foregoing statement it will be perceived that the duty levied on train oil, or spermaceti oil, or head-matter procured by the inhabitants of Newfoundland, is precisely the same, and only three times the amount of that which is levied on the same substances procured by British subjects residing in the united kingdom; and that the duty levied on oil, procured by British subjects residing in the Bahama, or Bermudas islands, or in the plantations in North America, is only eight times the amount on train oil, and twelve times the amount on spermaceti oil or head-matter, of that which is levied on the same substances taken by British subjects residing within the united kingdom. While on the other hand, the duty levied on oil procured in any other colony; (for mark, the contrivers of this act had sufficient cunning not to particularize the unfortunate colony against which it was levied) is twenty times greater on train oil, and oh, monstrous injustice! upwards of sixty times greater on spermaceti oil, or head-matter, than that which is levied on similar substances taken by British subjects residing within the limits of the united kingdom. The duty, therefore, which is payable on train oil procured in vessels belonging to this colony is nearly seven times greater than that which is payable on the same description of oil taken in vessels belonging to the island of Newfoundland, and considerably more than double that which is payable on it, when taken in vessels belonging to the Bahama or Bermudas islands, or to the plantations in North America; while the duty which is levied on spermaceti oil, or head-matter, procured in vessels belonging to this colony, is five times the amount of that which is levied on such oil or head-matter, when taken in vessels belonging to the Bahama, or Bermudas islands, or to the plantations in North America; and twenty times the amount of that which is levied on similar substances when taken in vessels belonging to Newfoundland. This very unequal proportion which the duties levied on these two sorts of oil, if procured by the inhabitants of this colony, bear to each other when compared with the duties which are levied on the same substances if procured by the inhabitants of any of the foregoing colonies or plantations, furnishes an additional proof, were any required, of the correctness of my assertions with respect to the origin of the act by which they were imposed. The house who were the authors of it, could not consistently get the duty on one description of oil raised, without at the same time admitting the necessity for raising the duty on the other; but as they were not interested in the right whale fishery, they were only anxious to prevent the colonists of New South Wales from embarking in the sperm whale fishery; and could they have accomplished this object without running the risk of discovering the covert aim of the act in its progress through parliament, they would have gladly compromised this point with them, and have left the right whale fishery open to them on the same conditions as it was before the enactment of this bill. To have evinced, however, any such tolerant inclination might have betrayed their design, and accordingly the colonists were debarred from both the fisheries; for notwithstanding that regular gradation has by no means been adhered to in the imposition of these duties, which had been previously observed in the scale of the duties levied in the other colonies or plantations, they have in both instances been more than sufficient to constitute actual prohibitions.
That any superiority of privilege whatever should have been conceded by the legislature of this country, in the various acts which have been passed for the encouragement of the fisheries, to British subjects residing within the limits of the united kingdom, is at best a manifest injustice to such of her subjects as inhabit the colonies; but yet so long as this partiality was confined within any reasonable bounds, it would not have excited any considerable feeling of dissatisfaction. That there should, however, be any gradation in the scale of duties to be levied on any description of merchandise procured or produced in the colonies themselves, is a system which it is impossible to reconcile with any principle of justice or policy. Still so long as this disproportion of impost, however unwise and unjust, did not become so burdensome and oppressive as to confine this branch of commerce, whatever it might be, to the privileged colony or colonies, some palliation might be offered by its advocates for its continuance, although the warmest of them would not be able to attempt its vindication. But that any one colony should be utterly excluded from privileges freely accorded to another, is such a monstrous stretch of tyrannical partiality, that it never could have been deliberately discussed in a free government, and must therefore have been contrived by the secret machinations of private avarice and corruption.
Can any reason be adduced why British subjects residing in one colony, should be excluded from the whale fisheries more than British subjects residing in another? Why vessels built in Canada, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, or the Bahama islands, should possess a privilege denied to vessels built in New Holland or Van Diemen's Land? The whale fishery is not more contiguous to the inhabitants of the former colonies than to those of the latter; yet every encouragement is afforded for the carrying on of the one, and every obstacle thrown in the way of the successful prosecution of the other. Why such a broad line of distinction is drawn, it is impossible to divine; since the disability which is the consequence of it, is not only not in furtherance of any of the ends contemplated by the navigation act,* but in diametrical opposition to the whole of them. This will be evident if we refer to its preamble, and to a few of its prominent provisions. "Whereas for the increase of shipping and encouragement of the navigation of this nation, wherein under the good providence and protection of God, the wealth, safety, and strength of this kingdom is so much concerned; it is enacted that no goods, or commodities whatsoever, shall be imported into, or exported out of any lands, islands, plantations or territories to his Majesty belonging, or in his possession, or which may hereafter belong unto or be in the possession of his Majesty in Asia, Africa, or America, in any other vessels whatsoever, but in such vessels as do truly and without fraud belong only to the people of England, Ireland, or are of the built of and belonging to any of the said lands, islands, plantations, or territories as the proprietors and right owners thereof, and whereof the master and three-fourths of the mariners at least are English, under the penalty of the forfeiture and loss of all the goods and commodities which shall be imported into, or exported out of any the aforesaid places, in any other vessel, as also of the vessel with all its tackle," etc. From this, which is the principal clause of the act, it clearly appears that British subjects in whatever part of the empire they may happen to reside, are entitled to precisely the same privileges, and that vessels built in any of her colonies are to all intents and purposes to be deemed of British built, in the same manner and on the same terms and conditions as if they had been built within the limits of the united kingdom, i. e. so long as the master and three fourths of the crew are British subjects. That this admission to a perfect equality of privilege, was and is still the intent not only of the navigation act, but of all the leading acts of navigation which have been passed since, we shall be still further satisfied, if we trace them in their whole progress to the present hour. It will not, however, be necessary to extend our examination either way beyond the great registry act passed in the twenty-sixth year of the reign of his present majesty, cap. 60. "By this act very considerable alteration was made in the whole concern of registering shipping, with a view of securing to ships of the built of this country, a preference and superiority which they had not enjoyed so completely before. The plan of regulation then proposed to parliament was the result of an inquiry and deliberation of great length before the committee of Privy Council for the Affairs of Trade and Plantations; and that inquiry was commenced and carried on, and the measure at length decided upon principally by the exertion and perseverance of the late Earl of Liverpool."** What vessels are still deemed in this careful and elaborate revision of the navigation code to be of British built, may be seen from the first clause of this act, which ordains "that no vessels foreign built (except such vessels as have been, or shall hereafter be taken by any of his Majesty's vessels of war, or by any private, or other vessel, and condemned as lawful prize in any court of admiralty) nor any vessel built or rebuilt upon any foreign-made keel or bottom, in the manner heretofore practised and allowed, although owned by British subjects, and navigated according to law, shall be any longer entitled to any of the privileges or advantages of a British built ship, or of a ship owned by British subjects, and all the said privileges and advantages shall hereafter be confined to such ships only as are wholly of the built of Great Britain or Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man, or of some of the plantations, islands, or territories in Asia, Africa, or America, which now belong, or at the time of building such vessels did belong, or which may hereafter belong to or be in the possession of his Majesty; provided always, that nothing hereinbefore contained shall extend to prohibit such foreign built vessels only as before the 1st of May, 1786, did truly and without fraud wholly belong to any of the people of Great Britain or Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man, or of some of the plantations, etc. etc." Here then we have cited the two leading clauses in the two leading acts of navigation, and both prove that the objects which this country had in view, were to create nurseries of seamen for her navy, and to secure to her subjects, in whatever part of her extended empire they might reside, the benefit of the carrying trade. The imposition, therefore, of any duties on her subjects in any of her colonies, greater than those which are levied under similar circumstances on her subjects at home, far from being in unison with the liberal and enlightened policy of the navigation laws, is a broad deviation from their fundamental principles, and the creation of an entire system of exclusion, such as the one under consideration is, a fortiori, an utter violation of their letter and spirit. That any prohibitory duties of this sort could ever have been enacted, will appear still more surprising, if we look a little further into the policy which this country has pursued with respect to her other fisheries, particularly the cod fishery on the banks of Newfoundland, and parts adjacent. For when by the 15th Charles II. cap. 7. she enlarged the scope of her great navigation act, and to the two main original objects contemplated in this act, viz. the creation of nurseries for seamen, and the securing to her subjects the carrying trade, she superadded a third, viz. that of making herself the entrepot for the deposit of all goods and commodities, whether the growth, production, or manufacture of Europe, or of her colonies, it having been foreseen that this alteration in her maritime code would be prejudicial to the cod fisheries, and that it would most materially conduce to their prosperity and extension still to allow salt, provisions, wine, etc. to be imported directly from various countries not subject to the dominion of the crown of England into the colonies from whence these fisheries are carried on, this enlarged act,*** after ordaining "that no commodity of the growth, production, or manufacture of Europe shall be imported into any land, island, plantation, colony, territory, or place to his Majesty belonging, or which shall hereafter belong unto, or be in the possession of his Majesty in Asia, Africa, or America, (Tangier only excepted) but what shall be bona fide and without fraud, laden and shipped in England, and in English built shipping, and whereof the master and three fourths of the mariners at least are English, and which shall be carried directly thence to the said lands, islands, plantations, colonies, territories or places, and from no other place whatsoever, any law or usage to the contrary notwithstanding, under the penalty of the loss of all such commodities of the growth, production, or manufacture of Europe, as shall be imported into any of them from any other place by land or by water, and if by water, of the vessel also in which they were imported with her tackle, etc. etc." immediately subjoins:—"Provided that it shall be lawful to ship and lade in such ships, and so navigated as in the foregoing clause is set down and expressed in any part of Europe, salt for the fisheries of New England and Newfoundland, and to ship and lade in the Madeiras wines of the growth thereof, and to ship and lade in the Western Islands, or Azores, wines of the growth of the said islands, and to ship and take in servants or horses in**** Scotland or Ireland, and to ship or lade in Scotland all sorts of victual, the growth or production of Scotland, and to ship and lade in Ireland all sorts of victual of the growth or production of Ireland, and the same to transport into any of the said lands, islands, plantations, colonies, territories or places." Here then is an instance of a very material deviation from the spirit of the navigation laws for the sole purpose of encouraging a fishery; but who can deny its policy? The legislature in this case had to decide whether they would extend this great national nursery for seamen, or whether they would check its growth by preventing the direct trade between these colonies and Europe, Madeira, the Azores, etc. and by making herself the entrepot for the deposit and exchange of all the produce of these fisheries on the one hand, and of the productions of Europe, etc. etc. that were necessary for their extension on the other. The advantages that she would have derived from such a selfish arrangement, she wisely foresaw would be more than counterbalanced by the concomitant detriment which her maritime interests would have sustained from it. And hence this deviation from one of the leading objects of her navigation laws, a deviation which has not only been continued ever since, but even considerably enlarged; for many other places are now included in the direct commerce with these colonies, as will be seen by reference to the 46 Geo. III. c. 116. which recites, "whereas by the laws in force no commodity of the growth, production, or manufacture of Europe, is allowed to be imported into any place to his Majesty belonging, or which shall hereafter belong unto, or be in the possession of his Majesty in Asia, Africa, or America, but what shall be bona fide and without fraud, laden and shipped in Great Britain, or Ireland, except salt for the fisheries of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Quebec, which may be laden in any port of Europe, and also except any goods fit and necessary for the fishery in the British colonies or plantations in America, being the growth, produce, or manufacture of Great Britain or Ireland, or of the islands of Guernsey or Jersey, which may be shipped and laden in the said islands respectively by any of the inhabitants thereof, and also except wines of the growth of the Madeiras and the Western Islands, or Azores, which may be laden at those places respectively: and whereas, it may tend to the benefit of the British fisheries, and to the advantage of the commerce and navigation of this country, if permission was given for certain other articles to be shipped for the British colonies in North America, at other places in Europe than those hereinbefore mentioned, under certain regulations and restrictions:" it is therefore enacted that any fruit, wine, oil, salt, or cork, the produce of Europe, may be shipped and laden at Malta, or Gibraltar, for exportation direct to the said plantations in North America, on board any British built vessel, owned, navigated, and registered according to law, which shall arrive with the produce of the said fisheries taken and cured by his majesty's subjects carrying on the said fishery from any of the said plantations, or from Great Britain or Ireland.
[* 12 Car. II. chap. 18.]
[** Reeves, second edition, p. 397.]
[*** 15 Charles II. cap. 7.]
[**** England, Ireland and Scotland, since united into one kingdom.]
I have been thus copious in extracts from the navigation laws, to prove that the great leading principles of these laws would not only be in no wise encroached upon by allowing the inhabitants of this colony to carry on the whale fisheries in their own vessels, but also that the duties which were thus clandestinely imposed on oils so procured, have been a flagrant violation of them, and that they are a single isolated exception to a general rule. Nor would the abolition of the duties in question, and the consequent encouragement of these fisheries, prove injurious to the British merchants at home, as must have been apprehended by those who were the authors of the prohibitory law by which these duties were enacted. Looking, indeed, at the mere situation of the colony, it would not be unnatural to conclude that its contiguity to the sperm whale fisheries, on the coast of New Zealand, New Caledonia, and New Guinea, would give its inhabitants such a decided advantage over the persons carrying on the same fisheries from this country, that these latter would soon be forced to abandon a ruinous competition, and that she would consequently be deprived of the very important benefits which she at present derives from it. The fears, however, which are apt to arise on this view of the subject will be immediately dissipated if it be considered, that the rope, canvas, casks, and gear of every description, necessary for the outfit of the colonial vessels for these fisheries, are furnished by this country, and can never be obtained in the colony under an advance of fifty per cent. on the prime cost; that the sperm oil in the market is unequal to the demand for it, an assertion proved as well by the existing bounties held out by the legislature for the encouragement of these fisheries, as by the enormous wages gained by the seamen employed in them; that these bounties themselves operate as a considerable prohibition to the colonists; and, lastly, that many years must elapse before the colonial fishermen can be properly organized, and rendered as expert as the English. These various disadvantages under which the inhabitants of this colony labour, are all but one of a permanent nature, and it is evident will always more than counterbalance the single local superiority which they possess, and ensure the English merchants a decided advantage in the market;—an advantage which if it will not outstrip all competition, will at least only just permit that salutary opposition which is essential to the prevention of monopoly and to the interests of the public.
It must, I should imagine, by this time be quite obvious, that the removal of the duties in question would be in complete unison with the spirit of the navigation laws, and with that liberal and enlightened policy, which this country has on all other occasions invariably observed, with respect to colonies in parallel circumstances. In establishing, therefore, a precedent, I hope that I have made out a case sufficiently strong to warrant the interference of the legislature. It may not, however, be altogether superfluous, if it be only to point out the injury which this country has sustained from her past injustice and impolicy, just to glance at the advantages that she would possess in future wars from having an extensive body of seamen at her disposal in the South Pacific Ocean. Hitherto our squadrons in India have been entirely supplied with seamen from this country, and the great mortality which takes place on that station requires this supply to be constantly kept up. It is well known, although fewer actions take place in the Indian seas than perhaps on any other of our maritime stations, that the number of deaths occasioned by the influence of the climate alone are proportionally more considerable than in any other part of the world, with the single exception, I believe, of the coast of Africa. It becomes, therefore, a question of the greatest importance, whether considered in a political or philanthropic point of view, to ascertain if this lamentable expenditure of human life might not be considerably diminished by manning our ships of war in the Indian seas with the inhabitants of New Holland. It is well known that our settlements in this vast island are situated in a climate which forms a mean between the temperature of this country and India. There is consequently every probability, that the persons born in these colonies would be able to support the extreme heats of India much better than Englishmen. Be this, however, as it may, there can be no doubt of the advantage which this country would derive from having a valuable nursery for seamen in a situation, from which her navy in the East might at no very remote period be so easily supplied on all occasions of emergency. This prospect cannot fail to prove an additional motive with the government for the abolition of duties, which, if persevered in, will for ever stifle all commercial enterprize, and debar not only the colonists themselves, but the parent country also from the various important advantages, which I should presume it is now evident that an uncontrolled ability to prosecute these fisheries would infallibly secure to one and the other.
With reference now to the commercial disabilities which have been imposed on this colony: the first impediment, the removal of which may be said to be of any material importance to its mercantile prosperity, is the clause in the East India Company's charter*, which provides, "that it shall not be lawful for any vessel, the registered measurement whereof shall be less than three hundred and fifty tons, other than such vessels as may be employed by the East India Company as packets, to clear out from any port in the united kingdom for any place within the limits of the said company's charter, or be admitted to entry at any port of the united kingdom from any place within those limits.**" When this act was passed, the pernicious bearing of this clause on the colony was most probably overlooked. It has been found prejudicial in the following respects:—First, The demand for British goods is not sufficiently extensive to absorb cargoes of such magnitude; so that when any such have arrived, they have generally been attended with a loss to the owners, who will probably soon become too wise to continue such a hazardous commerce. Those merchants, indeed, who were in the habit of shipping cargoes in smaller vessels for the colonial market, before the passing of this act, have already abandoned, in a great measure, their connexion within the colony, which is at present chiefly dependent for its supplies of British manufactures, on the captains of the vessels employed in the transportation of convicts. These supplies, therefore, have naturally become unequal and precarious: sometimes being unnecessarily superabundant and cheap, and at other times being so extremely scarce and dear as to be entirely beyond the reach of the great body of the consumers. Such great fluctuations are obviously not more repugnant to the well being and comfort of the colonists themselves than to the mercantile interests of this country.
[* 53 Geo. 3. c. 155.]
[** The colony of New South Wales is within these limits.]
Secondly, The tendency of this act is not less injurious to the colonists with regard to the few articles of export which they are enabled to produce or collect for the British market. These indeed are only three in number, wool, hides, and seal skins, and are at present very inconsiderable in quantity; but the two former articles must necessarily increase every year, and will at length become of great extent and importance. The probable amount of the colonial exports has been already rated at about L28,000, out of which I consider that not more than L15,000 worth is conveyed to this country. The remainder consists of sandal wood, beche la mer, etc. exported principally to China. It may therefore be perceived that the whole of the annual exports of this colony would not suffice for half the freight of a single vessel of the size regulated by the act in question. It happens, in consequence, that the different articles of export which the colonists collect, frequently accumulate in their stores for a year and a half, before it becomes worth the while of the captain of any of the vessels which frequent the colony, to give them ship-room; and even then they do it as a matter of favour, not forgetting, however, to extort an exorbitant return for their kindness and condescension. The owners, indeed, of these vessels are so well aware of the inability of the colony to furnish them with cargoes on freight, that they generally manage before their departure, to contract for freights from some of the ports in India; a precaution which increases still more perceptibly the difficulty which the colonists experience in sending their produce to market. It must, therefore, be evident that they suffer a two-fold injury from this act, both as it prevents a regular supply of the colonial markets with British manufactures, and as it impedes the conveyance of their exports to this country. It is to be hoped, then, that this unnecessary and oppressive provision of the act will be revised, and that vessels of any burden will be suffered to trade between this country and the colony, until its increased growth and maturity shall have rendered the revision of obsolete efficacy.
The last disability of serious detriment to the colonists, is that their vessels cannot navigate the seas within the limits of the East India Company's charter. I say cannot; because, although since the late renewal of their charter vessels built in this colony are, I should apprehend, entitled to all the privileges of other British built vessels, so long as they are navigated according to law, it has not yet attained sufficient strength to be enabled to build vessels of the burden of three hundred and fifty tons; and if it even possessed this ability, such vessels could only convey the produce of the countries in the Eastern seas, to which the free trade has lately been opened, to certain ports in the united kingdom. The colonists, therefore, are virtually precluded from trading in their own vessels within these limits; a restriction highly injurious to them, and of no benefit whatever to the company. Till within these few years the vessels built at the Cape of Good Hope were subject to a similar restraint; but its useless and oppressive tendency became so glaring, and the restraint itself so obnoxious to the people who were suffering under it, that it was at length removed by an Order in Council, dated 24th September, 1814, which was made by virtue of an act passed so long back as the 49th* year of the reign of his present Majesty. By the 57th Geo. 3. c. 95. this settlement was expressly included, for all the purposes of the act, within the limits of the East India Company's charter. The same reasons that sufficed for granting this privilege in the one instance, are at least equally conclusive in the other; and it is to be hoped, that the legislature will soon release the colony of New South Wales also from so grievous and unnecessary a restraint. Indeed no new act for this purpose is necessary; for the 57th Geo. 3. c. 1. after reciting, "whereas it is expedient under the present circumstances, that the trade and commerce to and from all islands, colonies, or places, and the territories and dependencies thereof to his Majesty belonging, or in his possession in Africa or Asia, to the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, excepting only the possessions of the East India Company, should be regulated for a certain time in such manner as shall seem proper to his Majesty in Council, notwithstanding the special provisions of any act or acts of parliament, that may be construed to affect the same," enacts, "that it shall be lawful for his Majesty in Council, by any order to be issued from time to time, to give such directions, and make such regulations touching the trade and commerce to and from the said islands, colonies, or places, and the territories and dependencies thereof, as to his Majesty in Council shall appear most expedient and salutary; any thing contained in any act of parliament now in force relating to his Majesty's colonies and plantations, or any other law or custom to the contrary in any wise notwithstanding." It may, therefore, be perceived that the disability in question might be removed by a simple Order in Council. Whenever his Majesty's government shall have freed the colonists from this useless and cruel prohibition, the following branches of commerce would then be opened to them: First, they would be enabled to transport in their own vessels their coals, timber, spars, flour, meat, etc. to the Cape of Good Hope, the Isle of France, Calcutta, and many other places in the Indian seas, in all of which markets more or less extensive exist for these and various other productions which the colony might furnish; Secondly, they would be enabled to carry directly to Canton the sandal wood, beche la mer, dried seal skins, and in fact all the numerous productions which the surrounding seas and islands afford for the China market, and return freighted with cargoes of tea, silks, nankeens, etc. all of which commodities are in great demand in the colony, and are at present altogether furnished by East India or American merchants, to the great detriment and dissatisfaction of the colonial. And, lastly, they would be enabled in a short time, from the great increase of capital which these important privileges would of themselves occasion, as well as attract from other countries to open the fur trade with the north-west coast of America, and dispose of the cargoes procured in China; a trade which has hitherto been** exclusively carried on by the Americans and Russians, although the colonists possess a local superiority for the prosecution of this valuable branch of commerce, which would ensure them at least a successful competition with the subjects of those two nations.
[* Cap. 17.]
[** Many attempts have been made by the legislature to encourage British subjects to carry on this commerce from the ports of the united kingdom, but they have in a great measure failed in this object: see Convention with the King of Spain, 33 Geo, 3. c. 52. Indeed, during the period of the Company's exclusive trade with China, it can only be successfully undertaken by persons residing within the limits of their charter.]
Such are the principal alterations in the policy of this colony which appear most essential to its progress and welfare. All these indeed, and many other privileges, which, though of only secondary consideration, would tend like a constant concurrence of small rivulets to swell and enlarge the stream of colonial prosperity, would be the natural consequences of a free representative government. If I have, therefore, gradually ascended from effect to cause, after the manner of experimental philosophy, I have chosen this mode of elucidation, not because it was the only one which offered for the illustration of my subject, but because I consider the inferences to be drawn from it more satisfactory than those to which the opposite mode of reasoning (that of descending from generals to particulars) conducts; because it would be as easy that the abolition of the various grievances which have been enumerated should be coeval with the creation of the free constitution, by which such abolition would be eventually accomplished; and lastly, because the additional tedious delay which would otherwise intervene between the establishment of a colonial legislature, the representation of grievances by which it would be followed, and their consequent removal,—a process that would occupy two years, might be thus avoided; or in other words, the same period of unnecessary endurance and misery spared to the ill fated inhabitants of this colony. In recommending, however, that the government of this country should authorize the immediate adoption of the measures which I have proposed, I do not mean to imply that such authorization alone would be productive of the important results in contemplation. However extensively beneficial in their present and remote effects the privileges thus conferred might prove, they would nevertheless be unsatisfactory and incomplete, so long as they were unaccompanied with a government competent and willing to watch over and secure their continuance. While it should be in the power of any individual to suspend or annul them, what guarantee, in fact, would exist for their permanence and durability? What solid basis on which the capital and industry, which they might be calculated to elicit, could repose in security?
The confidence, indeed, which an impartial governor might inspire, would most probably, as often as the colony might be blessed with a chief of this description, give a momentary impulse to the activity of the colonists, and create a temporary prosperity among them; but the shortness of his administration will always interrupt the completion of his projects, and the caprice, imbecillity, or injustice of some one or other of his successors, like the blast of the sirocco, wither up the tender shoots of prosperity, which a consistent and protecting government would have nurtured and brought to maturity. The experience of the past has sufficiently evinced the little dependence which is to be placed on the degree of countenance and protection which the system of one governor, however beneficial the prosecution of it might prove, is likely to meet with from his successor. It is, indeed, in the nature of man, to prefer his own projects to those of any other: there is a degree of pleasure in striking off from the beaten path, and rambling in the untrodden wilds of speculation and experiment, which is alone sufficient, without the help of bad motives, to account for the diversity of policy, by which the administrations of the various governors have been contra-distinguished. This inherent principle of our nature, so averse to the realization of every beneficial design, which is not capable of immediate development, ought evidently to be counteracted and not encouraged, as it is at present, to the utmost point to which an uncontrolled and ridiculous caprice may choose to indulge it. The existing system of government is, in fact, a woof of inconsistency, from which no great harmonious tissue can proceed. A gentleman is appointed to this important situation: on his arrival in the colony he finds no council, no house of assembly, not even a colonial secretary to assist him: a stranger, and naturally unacquainted with its interests, he is necessarily obliged to have recourse to some person or other for advice: to avoid the appearance of ignorance, which however he cannot but possess, he will not most probably apply to the gentleman whom he supersedes; and he again, from a principle of delicacy, will not be forward in offering his advice unsolicited: those who had been the assistants, and perhaps able assistants of the latter, will keep aloof, as much out of respect to the gentleman whom they had last served, as from that fear of obtrusion, that feeling of diffidence, which is inherent in persons of real merit and probity; so that it is ten to one but he falls into the hands of the faction who had been the enemies of his predecessor, only perhaps because he had too much honour and integrity to promote their selfish views, at the expence of the public weal. Scarcely, therefore, will this gentleman have quitted the colony, before the whole of the superstructure which he had been rearing will have been pulled down, and another of a different description commenced in its stead. Such has almost invariably been, and such will continue to be the conduct of the actual government; nothing judicious or permanent can ever be expected to proceed from it. How then, it may be asked, can prosperity be expected to flow from sources so precarious and inconstant? Are they calculated to supply that regular equal stream of security and confidence which has been found essential to the progress of improvement? But were the existing system of government essentially conservative in its nature, instead of being virtually destructive, it would still prove inadequate and inefficient. The circumstances and wants of this colony will vary every year, and consequently require either such partial modifications or entire alterations of policy as may be suited to each progressive stage of advancement. Its government, therefore, ought to be so constituted, as not only to possess the power of revising old laws, but also of framing new ones. It ought, in fact, to involve in itself a creative as well as a conservative faculty; a faculty which might enable it to accommodate its measures to every change of situation, and provide an instant remedy for every unforeseen and prejudicial contingency. Nothing short of this will suffice to inspire that confidence which alone can be productive of permanent prosperity. The government of an individual, however respectable he may be, will always engender distrust and cramp exertion. Man is distinguished from the rest of the creation by his circumspection and providence. There must exist a moral probability of reaping before he will venture to sow. This cautious calculating disposition too, is most predominant in those who are in the most easy circumstances: where the liability to incur loss is greatest, the spirit of enterprize is generally most restrained. But this class, which contains the great capitalists of all countries, are precisely those whose means, if they could be enticed into activity, would be productive of the most beneficial results. No soil is so barren, no climate so forbidding, as not to present facilities more or less favourable for the absorption of capital, and the extension of industry. Wherever the tide of improvement is at its height, and a reflux ensues, it is to the impolicy of the government, and not to the sterility of the country, that this retrogradation is to be attributed. Prosperity and happiness belong to no climate, they are indigenous to no soil: they have been known to fly the allurements of the fertile vale, and to nestle on the top of the barren mountain: the plains of Latium could not secure their stay, yet have they freely alit on the snow-capt summits of Helvetia: they have been the faithful companions of freedom in all her wanderings and persecutions: they have never graced the triumphs of injustice and oppression.
I have now hastily sketched the principal incidents which have characterized the march of this colony during the last fifteen years. If I have neglected representing its more early efforts; if I have excluded from view the amazing difficulties and privations with which its immediate founders had to contend; if, in fine, I have altogether omitted in the picture the numerous interesting events that took place during the first fifteen years of its establishment, I have been induced to all these omissions by a conviction, that the existing system of government, if not the most eligible that could have been devised, was at least unproductive of those glaring ill consequences, with which it has subsequently been attended. A singleness of design and a unity of action, could not be deviated from during the period of its infancy by the most ignorant and inexpert bungler in political science. There was a broad path open to its government, which it could not possibly mistake. The colony as yet entirely dependent on external supplies, always precarious from their very nature, but rendered still more so by a tedious, and at that time almost unexplored navigation, would unavoidably turn its whole attention to the single object of raising food, and emancipating itself as soon as possible, from so uncertain and dangerous a dependence. The principle of fear would have sufficed to propel the colonists to a spontaneous application of their strength to the realization of this end, independent of any directing power whatever. It was, therefore, only on the attainment of this most important point, that the impolicy of the present form of government became a matter of speculation, and subsequently, that it has been demonstrated by its practical result,—the wretched situation to which it has reduced a colony, that might be made, as I have satisfactorily established, one of the most useful and flourishing appendages of the empire. It is at the epoch when the produce of the colonists began to exceed the demand, and when their industry, instead of being encouraged and directed into new channels of profitable occupation, was not only left to its own blind unguided impulse, but also placed under the most impolitic and oppressive restrictions, that I have taken up the pencil, and made a rapid but faithful delineation of the deplorable consequences that have been attendant on a concatenation of injudicious and absurd disabilities, which, though not altogether imposed by its immediate government, would have been easily removed by the more weighty influence of a combined representative legislature. I have therefore throughout the whole of this essay, considered the present government not only responsible for its own impolitic conduct, but also for the existence of those grievances which have been created by a higher authority, and of which it has wanted the will or the power to procure the repeal. I have commenced by glancing at some of the most striking events that ancient history affords, to prove that the prosperity of nations has kept pace with the degree of freedom enjoyed by their citizens, and that their decadence and eventual overthrow have been invariably occasioned by a selfish and overwhelming despotism. Descending to more modern times, and adverting to the condition of existing nations, I have shewn that the unparalleled power and affluence of our own country, which I have selected out of them by way of exemplification, are solely to be attributed to the superior freedom of her laws, which have engendered her a freer, more virtuous, and more warlike race of people. From these striking illustrations, this steady coincidence of cause and effect, deduced from the records of the greatest among ancient and modern empires, I have concluded that every community which has not a free government, is devoid of that security of person and property which has been found to be the chief stimulus to individual exertion, and the only basis on which the social edifice can repose in a solid and durable tranquillity. That the system of government adopted in the colony of New South Wales does not rest on this foundation stone of private right and public prosperity, I have proved from the detestable tyranny and consequent arrest of a governor, whose conduct anterior to his being intrusted with this important charge, it will have been seen, was such as might have led without any extraordinary powers of discrimination to a prediction of the catastrophe that befel him. The atrocities perpetrated by this monster, and the events to which they gave rise, are sufficient to convince the most incredulous, that the colonists have no guarantee for the undisturbed enjoyment of their rights and liberties, but the impartiality and good pleasure of their governor; and that they have no resource but in rebellion against the unprincipled attacks and unjustifiable inroads of arbitrary power. So radically defective, indeed, is the government to which they are subjected in its very constitution, that it not only holds out, in the uncontrolled authority which it vests in the hands of an individual, the strongest temptations for the exercise of tyranny to those who may habitually possess an overbearing and despotic temperament, but has also a manifest tendency, as history amply attests, to vitiate the heart, and to produce a spirit of injustice and oppression in those who may have been antecedently distinguished by a well regulated and humane disposition. While it is thus, on the one hand, calculated to beget the most monstrous atrocities within the sphere of its jurisdiction, I have shewn that it has not, on the other, been invested by the power to whom it owes its origin and existence with the ability to perform any extended good; and that while it involves in its essence all the elements of destruction, it possesses no one principle of vitality. Of this assertion the administration of Governor Macquarie, who if you may judge from the length of time during which he has held this high office, would appear to possess a greater portion of the confidence of his Majesty's ministers, than any of his predecessors, furnishes an indubitable proof: for relieved as the mind of the reader will have been from the undivided indignation, disgust, and abhorrence, which the excesses committed in the foregoing government cannot fail to excite, by a review of the prudence and moderation by which his career has been contra-distinguished, he will nevertheless have beheld the colony, from the want of privileges, of which this gentleman has not possessed sufficient influence to procure the authorization, sinking in spite of his upholding hand, from a comparative state of affluence and comfort, to the lowest depth of poverty and endurance. He will have seen the colonists checked in their agricultural pursuits, rushing promiscuously into every avenue of internal industry that lay open to them, and afterwards constructing vessels, and not only exploring every known shore within the limits of their territory, in search of sandal wood, but even discovering unknown islands abounding with seals. He will have viewed them exhausting these temporary sources of relief, and attempting, but obliged to desist by the weight of impolitic imposts, both internal and external, from those inexhaustible fountains of wealth, the valuable whale fisheries that exist in the adjacent seas. He will have beheld them from inability to purchase the more costly commodities of other countries, making the most astonishing exertions in manufactures, and thus impelled by necessity to the adoption of a system not more averse to the interests of the parent country than to their own; and which under a well regulated government, would have been one of the last effects of maturity and civilization. He will have witnessed, notwithstanding these vigorous and unnatural efforts, numbers of them bending every day beneath the pressure of embarrassment, and at length stripped of their lands, and deprived of their freedom, by a set of rapacious and unprincipled dealers, who are gradually rendering themselves masters of the persons and property of the agriculturists; the greater part of whom, if the present system continue a few years longer, will be virtually reduced to a state of bondage, and condemned to minister to the ease and enjoyments of the worthless and the vile. He will have seen that, while the poorer settlers have already in general fallen victims to the unjust and impolitic disabilities with which they are beset, the circle of distress has extended itself from these, the central body of the community, to its circumference; and that the imports have so constantly preponderated in the balance over the united weight of the income and exports, that the whole wealth of the colony has been continually flowing into foreign countries, for the payment of the necessary commodities furnished by them, leaving no money in circulation for the important purposes of domestic economy, and compelling the colonists by a general, constrained, and tacit convention, to tolerate, as a substitute for a legitimate circulating medium, a currency possessed of no intrinsic value whatever. He will have beheld this rapid torrent of distress forcibly driving back the tide of population, both by the difficulties which it throws in the way of rearing up a family, and by the numerous bodies of freed convicts, whom it propels to a return to their native country, the greater part of whom, more from necessity than choice, are led to a resumption of their ancient habits, in order to procure a subsistence, and either impose on the government the expense of retransporting them to this colony, or end their career of iniquity by falling victims to the vengeance of the laws which they had so often violated. He will have seen during these continual and violent concussions, by which the whole social edifice has been shaken to the foundation, that the expenditure of the colony has been in a state of the most rapid increase, and that the existing system of government is incompatible with its diminution. He will, in fine, have been satisfied that the immorality and vice which it was the main object of the legislature to repress and extirpate, are making the most alarming progress and extension.