[Editor: This article was published in The Adelaide Morning Chronicle, 2 September 1852.]
Emigration from England.
The ample confirmation of the golden news from Australia, which every successive vessel takes to Britain, has at length aroused and arrested the attention of all classes in the mother country. Naturally enough, the first result is the production of an extensive and earnest desire to emigrate hither among the uneasy classes ;and of active benevolent effort to assist them on the part of those who are more favoured by fortune. Associations are being formed to diffuse information respecting the colonies, and to supply funds to aid those who are too poor to emigrate unassisted. And already an immense stream of population has been directed towards these shores, — a stream which promises to deepen and widen as correcter notions and larger knowledge are diffused among the English people. As we in South Australia shall certainly get our fair share of the increase, after the first and factitious attraction of the gold fields has subsided, it may be interesting to our readers here to know something of the machinery that is in course of formation, and of the results which have already appeared. This information we shall endeavour to impart, as we glean it from the latest papers brought by the Australian.
In Yorkshire, a number of merchants and manufacturers have formed themselves into a body, under the title of the “West Riding Association for the Promotion of Emigration to the Wool-growing districts of Australia;” and in London there has been organised, under the patronage of Prince Albert, a society “for assisting emigration from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.” In each case the rules adopted are nearly similar. Free passages are to be obtained for the emigrants from the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners to such an extent as may be practicable under their regulations, and the funds of the societies are to be employed in loans of a sufficient amount to provide the deposit money and outfit which the Commissioners in every instance require to be forthcoming.
The London Society propose also to furnish the means of enabling those members of families to join in the movement who would otherwise be excluded on account of ineligibility for a free Government passage by reason of age or other circumstances. Both societies stipulate, that their advances shall be repaid within defined periods, and the parties making such repayments are to have the privilege of nominating some friend or relative for a new loan of like amount. It is at the same time to be an imperative condition of the Highland emigration that the landlords from whose estates the parties are removed shall contribute one third of the sum advanced. The Yorkshire Association intend to charge interest, but make no provision for assurance against casualties; while, with regard to the London Society, the repayment of the bare amount advanced appears to be all that is required.
As the funds of these associations are to be supplied by voluntary subscriptions, the extent of their operation will depend entirely on the view the mercantile public may take of the urgency of the crisis; but it is understood that considerable amounts have already been raised or promised, and there is consequently a prospect of speedy results. At the same time there is reason to hope that whatever may be the extent of the usefulness of the two bodies in dealing with the existing emergency, they will lay the foundation of much more valuable proceedings.
Large and influential vestry meetings were held in various London parishes about the end of May, to provide means for the removal of the poor of the respective localities to the Australian colonies. One of these meetings was held in the vestry room of St. Martin’s-in-the-Fields, under the presidency of the vicar of the parish, the Rev. H. McKenzie, at which it was resolved to raise a sum of £1000 “to defray the expenses of sending out to Australia poor persons having settlements in the parish and willing to emigrate.” A Mr Ridgway, who spoke in support of the motion, produced a handful of gold nuggets by way of stimulating the meeting. He deprecated, however, emigration to Victoria in pursuit of the precious metal, and strongly recommended Adelaide in preference.
Another meeting was held in the school rooms adjoining the church of the district of All Saints, St. John’s Wood, at which the vicar of that parish, the Rev. H. W Maddock, presided. The practical result of this meeting was, a resolution that committees should be formed throughout the metropolis, and in the various districts of the country, to raise funds for emigration purposes; and the appointment of a committee for the district of All Saints and Portland Town, St. John’s Wood.
The older societies for the promotion of the same object are not idle at this crisis. On the 27th of May, the “Female Emigration Fund,” the society established under the auspices of Mr Sydney Herbert, despatched its thirty-third party of female emigrants, consisting of 56 young persons, to Australia, by the Roxburgh Castle. Many of the supporters of the Society accompanied the emigrants to Gravesend, and Mr Adderley, M.P., addressed them very feelingly as to the conduct they should pursue to secure respect and prosperity in their future home. Mrs Chisholm’s “Family Colonization Loan Society,” also, is actively pursuing its quiet but useful course.
Individual philanthropy, too, is doing something for the poor and for the colonies. Mr Joseph Hume has written a long and very kindly letter to the handloom weavers of Airdine, in which he points out the impossibility and impropriety of an alteration in the Poor-law for their especial benefit; the inevitable result of prolonged competition between machine and hand labour; and the imperative necessity of men reduced to wages of 4s 6d per week betaking themselves to some other occupation. “There is at present,” the hon. member tells them, “a fair opening for such of the bandloom weavers as desire to leave this country, where they cannot earn proper wages, to proceed to Australia, where they may be employed as shepherds, or in many other kinds of work, for which there is great demand, in consequence of the shepherds and workmen having gone to the gold diggings.”
The restrictive regulations of the Emigration Commissioners have been subjected to some amendment. “The Government,” says the Daily News, “is already mending its ways under the stimulus of popular reproof and urgency. But lately the Commissioners refused to send, at the low rates, men above 35 years of age, or with more than two children. Now, the age fixed is 45, and three children are allowed.” A correspondent of the Times, commenting on the regulations, and the dilatoriness of the Commissioners in amending them, says:—
If on the arrival of the first gold freights here ships had been despatched, there would have been no scarcity of them, and no enhancement of the charge; six months ago they were in abundance, to be hired at moderate rates; but the golden opportunity was lost, and a lion in the path discovered which has endangered the colony at a crisis the most pregnant. If this matter were not too serious I should be tempted to think that in their selection of emigrants the commissioners had been guided by Falstaff’s method of recruiting:— “For you, Mouldy, do you stay at home till you are past service; and for your part, Bullcalf, grow till you come to it. I will none of you.” When remonstrated with on this strange choice, he answers, — “Will you tell me, Master Shallow, how to choose a man? Care I for the limbs, the thews, the stature, bulk, and big assemblance of a man? Give me the spirit, Master Shallow. Here’s Wart — you see what a ragged appearance it is.” The restrictions imposed upon our Mouldys and Bullcalfs have kept them at home, and the Shadows and Feebles may now be taken to fill their places. Nevertheless, so urgent is the demand that handloom weavers and Isle of Skye fishermen may be in request; and a colony of Glasgow weavers did very well even in Canada a few years ago.
The results of this newly-awakened activity are already very large. From the returns issued by the Emigration Commissioners for the month of May, we find, that during that month, 72 vessels, containing 4,872 passengers and emigrants, left the Port of London for Australia. The demand for passages on the part of independent emigrants has become very great. All the best ships laid on for Australian ports fill speedily, at high rates. Hundreds of applications had been made during the last week in May, at the offices of the various Commissioners in London, and at the Emigration Office, in Park-street, by persons of both sexes for free passages to Australia. When the Australian left, a whole fleet of ships was lying in the various docks of the port of London, chartered for the several Australian ports; all of which were filling rapidly, and were to sail in June or early in July. We are almost afraid to mention the number of passengers they are said to be able to carry, lest it should be an exaggeration. The number is stated as upwards of 23,000! Besides the London ships, several large vessels are laid on at Liverpool for these colonies. Altogether, we are warranted on expecting that the great want of Australia — abundant labour — will be speedily and sufficiently supplied.
The Adelaide Morning Chronicle (Adelaide, SA), 2 September 1852, p. 2
Chisholm = Caroline Chisholm (1808-1877), who was heavily involved in promoting the welfare of female immigrants to Australia
factitious = artificially created or developed; something created by humans rather than formed by nature; something produced by an artificial, or special effort; something created by a fraudulent effort
lion in the path = an imagined, over-emphasised, or exaggerated obstacle; derived from a passage in the Bible, “The slothful man saith, There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets” (Proverbs 26:13, King James version); however, sometimes the phrase has been used to refer to an actual problematic obstacle
M.P. = Member of Parliament
thews = muscles or sinews; physical strength or vitality
[Editor: Changed “factitous” to “factitious”.]
[Editor: The original text has been separated into paragraphs.]