CHAPTER XI. SOME OF THE TROUBLES THAT HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCED IN THE CANTERBURY COLONY.
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SOME OF THE TROUBLES THAT HAVE BEEN EXPERIENCED IN THE CANTERBURY COLONY.
Two Schemes proposed for the Carriage of Goods from Port Lyttelton to the Plains, one by a Road not yet completed, and another by a Steamer, which is now at work--The custom of the Banks restricting Advances to Mercantile Firms, rather a surprise to the Agricultural Interest--How afterwards altered--The fluctuating Price of Grain very annoying to Farmers--Merchants charge 10 per cent, upon Accounts, if not paid Quarterly--Two unpleasant Occurrences, in consequence of confusion in Business, related--A Local Court installed to take cognizance of Debts up to £100--Troubles in dividing Partnerships--Mistakes made between friends at the Starting of the Canterbury Settlement--The Necessity of maintaining a Public Spirit in it--The readiness of the Colonists to act as Police, and the comparative absence of Crime, allows a very small Police Force to be maintained--The absence of Beggars--On the trouble individuals feel in adopting a new line of life, and the difficulty of effecting Changes in the practice of any Profession or Public Office in a Country--The Troubles the Canterbury Colony has had to undergo at starting, are considered light to what other Colonies in its vicinity have undergone.
AMONG the first troubles presented to the new settlers on their arrival in the harbour of Port Lyttelton may be mentioned the delay in transferring their goods to the Plains; because a very steep, rugged hill lies between the Port Town and the Plains, and no good road available for the conveyance of heavy goods has been made. That service has therefore been performed by small coasting vessels; but the expense has often exceeded the cost of freight in the ships that brought them all the way from England.
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To diminish this difficulty, therefore, two schemes have been long discussed; the promoters of one of which propose, by means of small steamers, to diminish the cost and the risk of the water-carriage to the Plains; and the advocates of the other scheme project the completion of a road which was commenced before the first body of colonists arrived. But the estimate for completing the road amounted to, £30,000, while the estimate for starting a steamer was only £4,000. Those who advocated the road, contended that it would be a permanent check on the heavy freights charged by the small coasting vessels, and give better promise to new settlers of getting their produce away, and, therefore, afforded more encouragement to produce. Others again contended if the road was finished over the hill, and a steamer was plying at the same time, that the latter would be employed to convey at least ten times the amount of heavy goods that the road would be used for, because the circumstances of the farmers demanded the continual employment of their teams upon or near to their farms, and the price of draught cattle and horses has been too high to allow carriers by land to compete successfully in conveying heavy goods, with carriage by sea, especially when aided by steam power. It is further urged that the money required for completing the road over the hill was more urgently needed in finishing the roads about the towns to the shipping quays for the better removing of farm produce, and also for improving the up-country tracks for bringing down the wool. Again, the road over the Port hill would require so large an outlay of the public money that it was felt to be better to defer its completion until the public treasury could better afford it,
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when all would be glad enough to see it finished; but those who had purchased land and were farming it considered that they had a prior claim to have the roads passing their occupations to be first finished, particularly as the remaining portion of the carriage could be conducted by sea. It is also said by the older residents, that if the road over the Port hill had been completed, when the first colonists arrived, that there was not sufficient draught stock in the place to have taken the goods of the passengers over the hill.
It was suggested among the first party of surveyors to send to England for two small steamers, with plenty of duplicates of machinery, to carry goods to the Plains, instead of even commencing to make a cart-road over the hill. But there has been an objection to the introduction of steamers from the mercantile portion of the community, on the ground that small sailing vessels did the work, though it was done slowly and at a high rate of prices, but that the introduction of steamers would in all probability cause most of the sailing vessels to go away, and, therefore, if accidents happened to the steamers, which they had not the means of repairing, the service of carrying goods to the plains would be seriously hindered for a considerable time, because the steamers would have to go for repair to Sydney. A company has, however, been lately formed, and a small steamer has been obtained from Sydney, and placed upon this service, to the great convenience of the colony. Sailing vessels have seldom made the passage individually oftener than once in the week, that is to say backwards and forwards, taking in and discharging their loads; while a small steamer might make the passage every day that was not very stormy, for the bars
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at the mouths of the rivers would not present the same obstacle to them as they do to sailing vessels, and they would be independent of the direction of the winds, which present advantages that would tend considerably to diminish the rate of freights that have continued so high as to enable seamen to earn from £6 to £8 per month in those vessels.
The irregularity of the communication, which continued for some years after the starting of the colony, has been the cause of losing opportunities for selling agricultural produce to vessels in the port, who were ready to buy, but were not able to wait until the produce had been brought round; and the high rate of charges was much felt by the earlier settlers, who had brought any extent of machinery, or heavy goods, purposing to farm largely, and who did not expect heavy expenses in getting them to the Plains.
The colonial custom of the banks restricting their advances only to mercantile firms has disconcerted many engaged in farming, who expected the same facilities for temporary loans that prevail in England; for as employers found the rate of wages for labour and prices for produce to be so very different to what they had been accustomed to in the United Kingdom, many experienced that they had over-estimated how far their capital would carry them; and as this would occasion, on their part, a desire for temporary loans, which they had been previously accustomed to consider an ordinary proceeding in their business, many considered it unfair that a large institution should be managed to the exclusive use of only one portion of the community. But the applications for accommodation were at one time so numerous, that the bank would
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fairly plead that they could not be judges of the pecuniary resources of all the parties applying: they stated, besides, that whenever their ordinary rule was broken through, the number of fresh applicants for accommodation greatly increased: so this rule was afterwards modified, by appointing. a committee of generally influential and experienced persons, who should advise on what bills presented should or should not be discounted by the bank.
Now, as employers of labour in the United Kingdom generally deem themselves to be equally entitled with the mercantile world to the accommodations which are presented by banks, when they desire to hold over produce for a rise in price, or to meet the outlay they require to make for carrying on the general processes of their occupation; they consider that the demands of persons emerging from the lower walks in life, when competing with themselves for these advantages, should be judged of by a bank solely with reference to the general amount of security offered for repayment; for in carrying on business in the United Kingdom so much depends upon the personal credit of employers, giving them a presumed facility in obtaining money on loan, when it is required unexpectedly, that when this is interrupted disappointment ensues. But it was learned to be the general course throughout the Australian colonies to leave the squatters and farmers to obtain the loans of money they required almost entirely from other persons, who lent out money on mortgage; while the loans required in the lower walks of life would be met by private persons acquainted with the parties; and further, that any assistance granted to persons out of the ordinary course of business, would be rather in the
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shape of very extensive advances to individuals, in whose capabilities and, experience in business those conducting the bank would feel confidence: because it was the prevailing opinion among those authorities that the employers of labour generally, among the squatting and farming population, did not consider that it was the returns, in the shape of interest, upon their money invested, so much as the amount of personal ease or enjoyment in their occupation which they thus obtained. And this consideration being added to the circumstance that the expenses of legal proceedings (if such had to be undertaken,) would be of a less costly nature to recover from one individual, instead of from several, determined them to consider it more profitable to make large advances to but few individuals, and those only when engaged in large operations.
Then, as it became known that the commercial world wanted money to pay for their imports, because there, had not been time for raising sufficient exports with which to pay for them, the policy of these general financial arrangements was better comprehended. For, commerce being generally conducted upon bills, and there being at first no exports wherewith to pay for what was imported into the colony, and which could not be paid for entirely by the money of the consumers, it was necessary that there should be money in the bank to enable the imports to be paid for, and thus to keep up the credit of the colony. And the power of the bank to do this might be interrupted, if they were required to cash all bills that might be presented to them; for those pushing upwards from the lower ranks of life might consider they were as well entitled as others to the advances of the bank; and, from their not knowing
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the nature of large commercial dealings, particularly between strangers, the bank might be pushed, and the supply of stores steadily coming into the colony might have been interrupted.
But banking has been a safe and lucrative business in the Australian and the other adjacent colonies, as the dividends advertised of late years have shewn, and particularly those of the Union Bank, which has been almost the only one established in New Zealand.
The fluctuating price of grain has also been a cause of disappointment to the larger farmers. Thus, at the first starting, fair samples of seed sold at 15s., and sometimes 20s. per bushel, while the commoner sorts sold at 10s. per bushel. Then the labourer would estimate the cost of his living at that price, and demand from the farmer an equivalent rate of wages, which he was obliged to give; but when the harvest came round, the price suddenly fell to 5s. per bushel, at which rate it continued above two years, during which period some farmers were even feeding their pigs with wheat. However, in consequence of the very short supply of labour in the colony, wages did not fall, and the farmer had to meet an equal rate of wages and price for his stores generally, while the price of what he produced had fallen one-half.
Now this fall in price may be accounted for as follows:-- The demand for consumption in the colony was very small, in proportion to the facility for raising it; by the fourth year the colony had grown enough for itself, with some to spare; the price accordingly was then regulated by the cost of exporting it, and the price in other ports. Again, the price in other ports would still continue at 10s. per bushel, but the cost of the carriage to it, and
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the merchant's profit who exported it, would fall on the grower in the Canterbury Plains.
Again, when the price of grain was high in the colony, all residents in the town would desire to raise enough for their own consumption, if not to have a surplus for sale; accordingly, all townspeople, including professional men, store-keepers, and even artizans and labouring men, would then desire to rent or buy a small piece of land on which to grow sufficient for their own consumption. Therefore, when the squatters on the stations up the country were supplied, the regular farmers had only to sell to the merchants for exportation. And here the price would be very much kept down by the circumstance that many who arrived as labourers, having started growing produce for sale on their own account, before they had saved sufficient money to keep themselves for the first year, would be so far in debt at the stores that they would be obliged to sell at almost any price that was offered. Besides the mercantile community were generally more desirous to obtain money to send in return for goods imported from Australia, rather than agricultural produce, which incurred some risk of deterioration on the passage.
These circumstances, together with the comparative facility of raising produce on the level untimbered lands of the Canterbury Plains, may sufficiently account for the supply for the consumption of the colony having so soon exceeded the demand in it, and that so great a fall in price should occur.
Another trouble, though of a lighter nature, bore on the regular farmers, in that the mercantile community introduced a system of charging interest at 10 per cent.,
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into their accounts, if not settled quarterly; and this custom was sanctioned by the practice of the Supreme Court, in allowing 8 per cent, to be charged as a legal rate of interest, without any previous understanding on the matter. Now, as the practice in older colonies is to allow long periods, without interest, between the large producer and his merchant, this system of charging interest came unexpectedly upon the agricultural community, who are not accustomed to, and would find great difficulty in introducing, this practice into their dealings with one another. But this, of course, is done on the part of the mercantile community to meet the bank charges on their bills coming due to the bank.
But again, considering that the colonists came from every direction of the British Empire, and were mostly previously unacquainted with each other, and that many were without previous experience in the business they had begun, it need not occasion surprise that some mistakes, annoyances, and disappointments of another nature, occurred.
For instance, a proprietor of land inquiring for money to be obtained on mortgage, was addressed by a young man beginning business in a mercantile firm, to the effect that he would have some money, belonging to another person, to lend out in the course of a few months, and that he would keep it for him. The proprietor afterwards called frequently at the young man's store, to know when the money would be ready, and was at last suddenly informed that the money was lent to another person. This proved a great disappointment to the proprietor, who had been expecting it, and taught him the necessity of caution, and reducing to writing
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agreements of that nature before depending upon their fulfilment.
Another irritating case occurred where a person commencing a large farm hired his dray to go up the country to a wealthy individual, lately arrived from a neighbouring colony, who loaded it so heavily that the driver had to leave a part of the load on the road, and the owner of the load had immediately afterwards to leave the colony on business. The owner of the dray did not consider it was any part of his agreement to send this part of the load up the country, and it was exceedingly inconvenient for him to do so, because the up-country tracks were not then marked out, and there was some danger attending inexperienced persons, unattended, driving up the country; so, having received a message from the man left upon the station, to the effect that he did not want the articles left upon the road, he thought they might safely await (as they were enclosed in a barrel) until the owner of them returned. However, the owner of the barrel and its contents was away for several months, and when he did return claimed compensation for breach of contract from the owner of the dray. The owner of the dray supposed he had only hired out his dray for a specified time, and not rendered himself responsible for any goods upon it; but, not expecting an accident of this nature, had not drawn up any agreement in writing upon it. Accordingly when he consulted his lawyer on the point, he found that if the case went to a Court of Law it must be tried in another province, when, supposing he gained his case, he would probably be £100 out of pocket, and if he lost it, very likely £300; so, though well-disposed to try the point at law, he was obliged, in consequence of the state
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of his finances at that time, to consent to a compromise, which only left him £40 out of pocket.
This latter case was only one among several which showed the necessity of the colony possessing a court within it, before which should be cognizable debts or matters in dispute exceeding in value £20. The General Assembly have since passed a law, which is now in force, extending the jurisdiction of a local court permitted to be formed in each colony to £100. And this was very greatly desired, because the expense of attending courts of law may amount to a practical denial of justice to persons in reduced circumstances, who might desire to resort to them.
Troubles have also arisen unexpectedly between friends and relatives in making out divisions of property; some of which may be explained as follows:--
Some families in the United Kingdom are brought up, in consequence of having only small pecuniary resources, to view the state of marriage, as being generally that of a misfortune to them. This may arise from old associations requiring them to maintain a certain appearance before the world, which they can only do by living in the single state. Want of training in trading or industrial pursuits may hinder them from endeavouring by those means to improve their pecuniary circumstances: or ill-health, want of personal friends, or many other causes, may preclude their obtaining employments or situations with a fixed income attached to it, sufficient to justify the expectation of bringing up a family without anxiety.
Thus, some families, when several in number, may grow up into middle age without entering on the state of marriage. And this, of course, to the generality
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of mankind, is a position more or less irksome to contemplate.
One in such a family may therefore determine on starting himself in a young colony, with such money as he can obtain, with a previous understanding of being joined by others of the family afterwards. When this occurs among people previously totally unacquainted with colonial business, the person who has gone first to the colony has probably laid out more of his capital than was perhaps judicious, in pushing on the buildings and accessories to the comforts of his occupation, because he trusts to the money which his relatives would afterwards bring him, to continue the occupation. Now this may appear to him, on many grounds, to be advisable. For instance, the high rate of labour for building and domestic service would suggest a great economy as arising from relatives living together, to which no objection would be expected, as they had probably previously been accustomed to do so. A good position for an occupation, with vicinity to a town, may thus be secured, but a larger outlay has been undergone by the first of the family, of an unremunerative nature, than his pecuniary circumstances, if contemplated upon his own capital alone, would otherwise justify. He occupies himself inquiring into and learning the general mode of conducting the business he has started, and a long list may be made out of articles generally useful to the occupation, which may be sent to his friends, concluding with a remark that money was more required than the articles; but that if a certain amount of money was brought, the articles enumerated would be useful.
But the heat and impetuosity with which young
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people leave their homes for the first time, previously inexperienced in business, eager and willing to embark in life for themselves, perhaps glad beyond measure to know they can do anything to assist the relative gone before them, may cause every attention to be paid to getting all the articles enumerated in the letters; but the remarks about the value of ready money are not heeded. Then, in due time, the person in the colony is joined by his relatives; but, instead of the money, he finds a goodly array of articles, with an intimation that the money is coming afterwards, but is awaiting the sale of some property or other matters not completed before they started. And when the money does arrive, it may be found to be clogged with injunctions from the parents or trustees to invest it in some mode which materially diverts it from the purpose, which the first of the party, in the colony, had designed for it. This might be easily accounted for by supposing the parents to be in advanced years, and apprehensive that the plans of the first starter for the colony might be found to fail; and that the whole party might therefore return upon their hands almost penniless: they might, in consequence, direct that the money should be invested in some mode that appears to them to be more secure. But time may be lost before this is re-arranged and the money is rendered available for the occupation. But, in the meantime, the plans of the starter being baulked, the returns of the occupation are interrupted. The young relatives move about in the colony and perhaps hear the plans of their relative who came before them criticised; for it is remarkable how people in a young colony descant upon other people's affairs, and think they could manage them better for them than they do
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themselves; forgetting that domestic arrangements offer impediments and interfere more or less when planning the economy of an industrial occupation; and even often determine the modes in which they are conducted. Thus doubts may be entertained as to the business character of the first comer's arrangements, and the idea be considered of getting their money separately together, in order to enter upon speculations they may hear of as promising to be lucrative. Then, after the first pleasure of meeting again is over, and those last arrived have learned the business of the colony, it is found that to become married is considered indispensable to their comfort. Accordingly, a division of property is now called for, and this can seldom be effected, especially if the persons had been previously inexperienced in business, without detriment to both, but especially to the original mover of the party, who may not, therefore, be inclined to look with favour on this change of purpose in his relatives; for both parties may expect to suffer when a forced sale of goods takes place; and the first-comer would regret he had not taken into account that selfishness is a prevailing ingredient of human nature, and that the propensity of mankind, especially in the lower walks of life, is undoubtedly to desire to pull others down to their own level, rather than to encourage families to build up their houses, by affording mutual help and assistance to one another.
It appears advisable, therefore, for persons going out to a colony, to know and settle beforehand how they purpose to divide, in case they should desire afterwards to separate establishments or occupations; because, if they are not clearly agreed upon this, they may after-
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wards be delayed in starting themselves in their separate occupations; and as many go without previous experience in business, the consideration of these arrangements is often unduly postponed. Independence is doubtless a ruling idea in colonial life. To be independent of the wants or wishes of others prevails as much among the upper as the lower circles, and shows itself in the readiness to part establishments, notwithstanding any extra expense or discomfort entailed by doing so. At the same time, colonial life is everywhere spoken of as being particularly adapted to the circumstances of large families, for if they act together they can assist each other in numerous ways which local experience points out for economizing labour; and several large families are to be met in Canterbury who act well together, and express themselves well contented with their prospects.
But at the first starting of the Canterbury colony, from the absence of direct information, great mistakes were made by guardians and elder relatives as to the requirements of younger branches, when settling in the colony; the prevailing idea of course being that what was good in England was the proper thing to adopt there also.
Thus, people in the United Kingdom, supposing that matters of business were similarly conducted in the colony, were apt to feel somewhat offended that their well-meant endeavours to assist their friends should be met by statements to the effect that they were of no use at all, and complained of being asked to do things that appeared to them entirely out of the proper course of business.
Ludicrous stories were at one time told of the inter-
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pretations put upon requests made from the colonists to their friends in England; as, for instance, a man writing for an Alderney cow to be sent out to him, would perhaps receive a bull of another breed, which he had no occasion for. And this extended itself into public affairs likewise. Thus the earliest promoters of the colony were told, in reply to their kind intentions of getting up subscriptions for the erection of churches, schools, colleges, &c, that they would soon be in a condition to have these things, but what they then required was the management of their own local government, for that the paternal fostering of the Old Country would waste away the patience and energy of the people, by procrastination, which necessarily accompanies the administration of the public business of a country that has to await orders and instructions, in detail, from an office at so great a distance that it cannot be conversant with the local wants of a small community newly started into life.
Political leaders held the opinion that the vigorous and energetic ideas with which the colonists left England, would fade away, when they found that plans proposed and entered upon for their material progress were liable to be subverted by orders, from an office which could not judge of the consequences arising to the small community concerned; and that either a general disregard or disinclination to enter upon the administration of public affairs would ensue among the people at large; thus rendering the possession of office a temptation to a system of jobbing and intrigue; or that the general good feeling toward the parent country would be entirely withdrawn. While the people settled into a moody, discontented state, with an absence of
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interest in public affairs, and a general decline of public spirit prevailing among them; seeing that, under this system, there was not sufficient inducement to excite the upper ranks to make that enquiry and interest into the circumstances of the lower classes, which is engendered by the representative system of England into the management of parochial or other business, even in the remotest country districts.
New Zealand never was a convict settlement, and the people required to be kept up to a spirited remembrance of their rights and privileges, as being the security to induce exertion on their part, to render the country the seat of a future opulent and contented colony, instead of being allowed to contract extravagant habits, and a proneness to indulge in low and animal pursuits, which the absence of political privileges is too apt to foster, wherever the abundance of food in a newly-settled district gives a facility for enjoyment; but when the change of administration on the introduction of the new constitution granted to the, colony, took place, the contention between the new and the old possessors of the public offices was sufficiently sharp to alarm for the time those not previously experienced, in political struggles, as to the prospects of future quiet and good order in the colony.
But it should be remembered that public spirit in the population is as essential to the proper conduct of a civil government, where the republican form prevails, as that the principle of honour should rule in a nation under the monarchical form. 1 The small extent of the police establishment has been hitherto compensated by the willingness of the settlers to act the part of the
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policeman when any occasion has presented itself. For instance, among a cargo of labourers, imported from Melbourne into the province, were some two or three of the convict class, and one of them immediately recommenced his calling as a housebreaker. It was soon known that two houses at stations in the country had been entered and robbed during the absence of their inmates, in one, the box of a female servant had been robbed, among other things, of the letters of her affianced. A strong feeling was excited everywhere to catch the thief; and it was soon reported that a stranger, with a bundle on his back, had been seen in the vicinity of the dray track, but he had always disappeared before he could be overtaken. However, as the track passed an eating-house, a watch was kept for him there; and in a heavy shower of rain he was seen to pass it, when one colonist ran out with the intention of keeping him in view, or of detaining him in conversation, while another ran for a magistrate. There was no difficulty in obtaining a conviction in this case, as the stolen goods were found upon his person. Another case may be instanced, where a violent character, having escaped from jail, was met and recognised by a squatter, up the country, who happened to be a magistrate; he was accordingly chased, and while being conveyed back to prison, on the following day, he again tried to escape; but a pistol-shot through the thigh arrested him in his flight, and he was safely lodged again in jail. Now when men could earn from 8s. to 10s. a day by honest labour, it appeared very bad policy to spend perhaps weeks in obtaining property to the amount of £2 or £3 by theft, and, as the foregoing instances showed an intention on the part of the people fully to support the officers of the law, it
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was felt that the very small police force enrolled in the colony was sufficient for its purposes.
The absence of crime constitutes one great charm for those living in New Zealand, for men able to work can make so much more by the high rate of wages than by stealing, that it is literally felt to be true by the labouring population that "Honesty is the best policy." Professional beggars are quite unknown, they would be an object of curiosity to the colony, for the laziest persons have obtained their keep by work of the slightest nature.
The rough life of a young colony entails some trials to the moral courage of those who have been brought up in the luxuries of an old-settled country, and there is philosophy in the changes of opinion brought about among bodies of men, whether large or small, for they are occasioned by such trials.
The subject of colonisation, viewed in the light of this publication, must be comparatively new to the majority of readers in the United Kingdom; but why should that circumstance deter the writer from putting them forward? To please themselves, and not to enquire into the business of others, is doubtless viewed as being the only profitable subject for contemplation by the bulk of mankind. Selfishness is doubtless a prevailing ingredient in human nature, and generally determines men's actions much more than the principles that they may profess to guide them, and troubles of every nature, public and private, may be traced to it. However, it is not so with all; for the philosophical mind may be met with, though it is comparatively rare, in all ranks and classes, desirous of enquiring into what constitutes the good of others. And in consequence of
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the cheapness of books in the present day, men of a philosophical turn, in all classes of the population, may indulge their taste in some degree. But it should ever be borne in mind, that new ideas, started in any age, which appear to oppose the privileges, the prejudices, or the material interests of any large body of men, receive from those classes a very vigorous opposition. The generation in which new principles of any philosophy, involving great changes in the practice of any profession, or on which are founded the means of any class earning their livelihood, must, in a measure, die out before such principles are generally adopted. The nation at large must wait until the new principles brought forward in any science are sufficiently agreed upon by those who are placed in responsible situations, and are earning their livelihood by the practice of that science, before any new principles can be incorporated into either the laws or the general practice of the kingdom.
This is well exemplified in the science of medicine. Thus two new schools, in some senses allied to one another--viz., Homoeopathy and Animal Magnetism, have been brought in the present day into a prominent position, and are supposed to be advancing as fast as the very novel treatment they prescribe can be expected to find acceptance: but before they can come into the general practice of the nation, the majority of the families must have witnessed, or become personally conversant with, many instances where these new schools have succeeded after the old one has failed. Writers on these schools, generally introduce their system by remarks on the time all previous discoveries in science have required before being publicly adopted and taught.
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Thus it is related that the law of gravitation, discovered by Sir Isaac Newton, was not adopted into the system of the college to which he belonged until forty years after its discovery; while to the present day it is rejected by colleges in Spain; and, similarly, that all principles in the science of medicine, involving great changes in the practice, which are now practised and adopted, did receive, when first promulgated, great opposition, and this throughout the generation of their discoverers. But how does the popular belief in the nation at large, on the efficacy of the remedial art, contrast with that of its professors? Thus the popular belief may be said to be that medicine completely cures diseases; but the philosophy of the art regards the human constitution as so predisposed to inherent diseases that medicines can only be considered as palliatives, joined to the avoidance of exciting causes.
Again, how are difficulties of a political nature in the conduct of public affairs generally overcome? Take, for instance, the introducing of great changes into the mode of conducting any of the public offices. Those installed in a government office, brought up in a certain routine, are not prone to listen to complaints of errors in their administration which entail extra work upon them by requiring prompt investigation. It is but human nature to shelter themselves under the plea that complaints are frequently made which, on investigation, turn out to be either groundless, or are greatly exaggerated, and that this is ground for delaying or refusing investigation into others brought before them. A social evil may therefore arise, and when this has grown into sufficient importance, the conscience of some among, those employed in that office, but who are generally in
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a subordinate position, and therefore brought more immediately into contact with the evil, becomes aroused.
The desire may therefore be entertained to bring about in the minds of their superiors a change in the custom of the office, which may remove that evil: but this so generally proves impracticable, that some among those who feel the evil, but are possessed of ardent and conscientious minds, feel their duty to their Creator lies in leaving that office, and calling the attention of the country to the evils they deplore. Now the public sense generally appreciates the value of warnings conveyed by persons who have sacrificed some little position or comforts in prospect, in order, for conscience sake, to contend with social evils; and does not allow the public laws, intended to deter the designing and malevolent, to be turned into means by those administering the public offices, which they are ready enough to do, for concealing or delaying inquiries into their administration. The nation glories in her laws, allowing free scope for expression of opinion, whether it be conveyed in publications under the guise of fiction, or that of simple narrative, and exults in possessing this liberty more strongly than other nations on the continent of Europe: so inquiry is generally excited to ascertain the cause or truth of what is brought to their notice; and when conviction is imprinted on the public mind, of a social evil being fostered, a change is brought about in the conduct of the public office that fosters it.
But this is too frequently a long and tiresome process, and but few persons who have to consider the means for their daily living can afford to wait for this conviction gaining a hold on the public mind, or to spend their time in bringing it about, though they may relate
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or write about it as occasions offer. If therefore, they are not possessed of private resources, on which to live until changes are brought about in the mode of conducting a public office, that will enable them again conscientiously to join it; it is generally more agreeable for persons placed in a subordinate position to choose another line of life, where the mind may feel more satisfied in its every-day pursuits; but this delay, it is argued, cannot be avoided, for the constitution of the country regards the public offices as appointed merely to administer laws made by the United Legislatures, and are not intended to lead the public mind in forming new laws, or making changes in those already established, which is the prevailing popular idea regarding the purposes for which they are appointed. So to arouse the public mind is a legitimate course of action, though highly distasteful to the timid among the wealthy.
Any person therefore, who has been accustomed to inquire into the opposition and repugnance habitually entertained by mankind to receiving all new principles of science, when they are first brought forward, will feel little difficulty in considering further the views brought forward in these pages on the subject of colonization, when being applied to the wants of the crowded population of Great Britain.
The troubles that have been experienced in the Canterbury colony appear in many instances to have originated rather in the spirit of eagerness, and a consequent too great readiness to spend money on the part of some of the employers of labour, who were without a previous experience in the economy of production; but the difficulties have been much lighter to those who
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have had to contend with the ordinary troubles of business in crowded countries: and visitors from other colonies usually describe the province as having enjoyed unusual advantages in a physical point of view for commencing producing occupations; want of labourers being the almost sole drawback; and the residents must be generally considered contented with their choice, for the number of departures from the colony have been few, while most of those who had left it, have returned to it again.