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I trust the two important questions to which public attention has been summoned in these pages, require neither apology nor comment; one of them indeed, will eventually, and that too at no distant period, be disappointment, if not ruin, to thousands, if now overlooked or neglected.
By means of the free and unrestricted importation of Phormium tenax, sanctioned and encouraged by the British government, there would be developed a more direct intercourse with the natives of New-Zealand, and with it, a medium for securing to them on a firm and permanent basis the blessings of religion; and civilization and its attendant immunities would follow in her train. From hence would reciprocate through various channels, advantages to commercial enterprize of the most important kind.
The cultivation of the Phormium tenax within the confines of Great Britain and its dependencies; or, the Colonies and Islands belonging to the British Empire, seems to me, at least, a question of no little moment, or trifling import. A period may arrive, and that too at no distant date, when a substitute for RUSSIAN HEMP may become a desideratum of paramount importance in the policy of this country. "During the war," observes Captain Harris, R. N., "one only, out of our four Royal Rope Yards, paid eleven millions sterling, in fourteen years, to Russia for hemp. This enormous expenditure by Great Britain," continues this patriotic and gallant officer, in reference to the cultivation of Phormium tenax, "for the exclusive benefit of foreign
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powers, is surely unwise and evil policy, when I am prepared to prove that so vast a commerce may be thrown into Ireland, our Settlements and Colonies; and that thousands of the population of Ireland, the coast of Africa, the East and West Indies, and the Canadas, might be advantageously, employed to render the mother country independent for the supply of those substances."
I am no visionary, but a plain practical man; and, of course, the sophistry which mingles in the sentiments of the author of "Britain independent of Commerce,"--refuted as they are by the test of experience, possess no charms sufficient to make mo a convert to the startling doctrine it propounds. This salvo being frankly admitted, it must nevertheless be allowed that there were items in the policy of NAPOLEON worthy of consideration,--
"Fas est ab hoste doceri."
In illustration Of my position, I may refer to the encouragement given to the cultivation of beet-root, for the extinction of sugar, in the climate of France. RUSSIA is at this moment copying the exemplar; and PRUSSIA is also in good earnest adopting the measure. Far be it from me to anticipate the evil day but a remedy in reversion, to meet possible contingencies, may be highly salutary, and cannot be injurious.
The condition of MODERN PAPER, as to its stability and permanence, is, beyond all doubt, a question of the most important kind; because in it are implicated the deepest and dearest interests of the common weal. In 1823, I brought the subject fully before the public, and for a time, --'Eheu! fugaciter!'--the evil was checked. It is now WORSE THAN EVER, and threatens to sweep away, as with the 'besom of destruction,' all our modern books and manuscripts.-- "CHARTA PERIT" is the too emphatic motto that may be written over every one of them.
The, public seem to be almost 'judicially blind' to the fate that awaits them; or, it may be that the evil is considered remediless and hopeless, and I freely confess, I think so;
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unless the British Senate shall interpose its authority, and say--'hitherto, and no farther.' I am gratified to believe that government has listened to the advice I tendered in 1823, and has, if I am not much mistaken, ever since acted on my recommendation.
The reckless competition in the paper market is our bane, and must be checked by some means. By a false and vitiated estimate of economy, QUANTITY, altogether irrespective of the QUALITY of the material, is the order of the day; and in the majority of cases, 'paper' is a complete misnomer for the article imposed on the public as such. For many ephemeral writings something less than an ab fresco duration may well suffice; but there is much in MS. which their authors, in the language of Milton, "would not willingly allow to die;" and I fear the easy multiplication of copies by the printing-press, might be pleaded with indifferent success, where costly tomes, and costlier libraries, the accumulation of years, have been obtained at no inconsiderable expense.