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HOMES ABROAD. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 4.
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HOME IN A PARADISE.
The fair and fertile county of Kent has long suffered peculiarly from the poverty of its labouring population. To the traveller who merely passes through it, it looks like a fruitful garden, capable of affording support to as many inhabitants as can gather round its neat towns, or settle on the borders of its orchards, hop-grounds, and corn-fields; yet it is certain that nowhere,— not. in the alleys of Manchester or the cellars of London,—is more abject, hopeless poverty to be found than in some of the country parishes of Kent. One class murmurs about tithes, and rages about poor-rates, while another sets law at defiance, and fills the country with news of murderous poaching expeditions, and of midnight fires;—guilty adventures, of which the first brings in only a precarious and dearly bought advantage, and the other is the most effectual method that could be devised for increasing the very evils under which the people are groaning. Some years ago,—before the first ruffian or fool of a rick-burner had conceived the bright idea of destroying food because the people were starving,— the parish of A——, in Kent, seemed to some of its inhabitants to be sunk into the lowest depth of poverty that could be found in a country like England; though, alas! it has since been proved that more remained to be endured by its population than had yet been experienced. The parish of A——contained at that time about two thousand persons; the number of labourers, including boys, was about 450, of whom upwards of 300 were of the agricultural class. The farmers were doing badly, and could not employ all these people; or, if they employed all, could not sufficiently pay any. They reckoned that there were between fifty and sixty able-bodied men more than were wanted. The burden on the parish of these men and their wives and families was very grievous to the poorer class of ratepayers; and in proportion as it became more difficult to them to pay, the numbers and the wants of the paupers increased; and among the whole body of the population of A——the effects of want showed themselves more and more every day in the spread of recklessness and crime. It mattered not that in spring the orchards were gay with the delicate pink of the apple-blossom, or that flourishing young plantations put forth their early verdure as if the place had been a paradise; for there were theft in the woods, and murmurs of discontent from beneath the hedgerows. It mattered not that in autumn the hop-pickers were busy gathering in their fragrant harvest; for too many of them had fathers, or brothers, or sons looking on idly from a distance, envious of their employed companions, and thankless that the season had been propitious to the ripening of the delicate crop. It mattered not that the sun shone on fertile valleys and snug homesteads: for many a houseless parent scowled upon comforts which he must not share; many a child shivered with disease and hunger amidst the noonday heat. It mattered not even that new dwellings for the poor were rising up here and there; for their creation was no sign of prosperity. They were reared by speculators in pauperism, who depended on the rents being paid out of the rate. From this circumstance, it was easy to guess by what class they would be occupied; — not by such cottagers as England boasted of a century and a half ago, but by reckless youths with their younger wives, who depended on the parish to help out the insufficient resources of their labour.
These new cottages were an eye-sore to some of the once-prosperous inhabitants of the parish, who were for ever complaining that the bread was snatched from their mouths by new comers. Among the grumblers was Castle; a man who, without fault of his own, was, in the full vigour of life, reduced from a state of comfortable independence to the very verge of pauperism. He had married early, and proved himself justified in doing so, having been able, not only to support the two children of his first marriage, but to fit them for maintaining themselves by proper training in their occupations. Frank had served his apprenticeship to a house-carpenter, and was How a skilful and industrious workman of one-and——twenty years of age. His sister Ellen, three years younger, was a neat-handed dairy-maid, whom any farmer might be glad to have in his establishment. That she was out at service, and that Frank had something to do, however little, were the chief comforts of poor Castle at this time; for his own affairs looked dismal enough. He had married a second time, a woman much younger than himself, who had never known hardship, and was little prepared to meet it, however gay her temper seemed before there was any thing to try it. She did nothing for her husband but bring him children and nurse them till they died, which they almost all did as times grew worse and comforts became scarce. Only one little girl, now six years old, remained at home of all his second family. There were indeed two lads who called him father, though he had for some time disowned them as sons. He declared that Jerry and Bob were born rogues and vagabonds; and gave a peevish notice to all whom it might concern that he had cast them off to follow their evil courses, as they were so given to theft that it would ruin him to be made answerable for their misdeeds. Some people thought that fifteen and sixteen were ages at which some hope of reformation was yet left; and saw moreover that the lads had been driven to crime by want, and prevented from returning by dread of their parents tempers. Castle was now almost invariably low and peevish; and at five-and-forty had the querulous tone, wrinkled face, and lagging gait of an old man. The effect of hardship had been even worse upon his wife than upon himself. Instead of being peevish, she seemed to have lost all feeling; and while her husband yet worked as long as he could get any thing to do, she was as lazy as if she had been brought up to live on parish bread. The only person who believed that any good remained in her was her step-daughter Ellen, who never forgot what a trying change of circumstances she had been exposed to, and persisted in saying, whenever she heard her attacked, that a twelvemonth's health and prosperity would show her to be a very different person from what the neighbours supposed. “Give her help and hope,” she said, “give her work and something to work for, and her voice will come down to what it was when she sang her first baby to sleep; and she will clean up her room herself, instead of preventing any one doing it for her. She will go to church again then, and learn to like Frank as she should do, and not curse her own poor boys as she does.” Some of Ellen's neighbours thought this cant; others believed her sincere in her hopes of her stepmother; but all agreed, when the crisis of Castle's affairs arrived at last, that, honestly or hypocritically, Ellen prophesied wrong.
News came that Jerry and Bob had been taken up for robbing and cruelly beating two young gentlemen whom they had decoyed into a wood on pretence of birds-nesting; and that, if not hanged, they would be transported. Castle declared, though with a quivering lip, that this was what he had always expected. His wife went further. She hoped they would be hanged, and put out of the way of being more trouble to any body. She exhorted her husband to take no steps on their behalf, but be thankful that he was rid of them. The neighbours cried “Shame!” and prevailed with Castle so far as to induce him to go to the magistrate who had committed the lads, and swear to their ages; as they were taken by strangers to be much older than they really were, and an explanation on this point might procure a mitigation of punishment. Castle was unwilling to leave home for two days while his wife was hourly expecting her confinement; but a woman who lodged in the same cottage offered to be with her, on condition of receiving the same attention from her when she should want it a short time hence.—Castle was scarcely gone when his wife had to send for assistance; and before her child was born, the neighbour who was with her was in a similar plight. It was the middle of the night; and the parish surgeon who attended them had no help at hand, and could not leave them to call for any. He wrapped up the two infants in the remains of a blanket, and laid them beside the fire he had himself lighted. It very naturally happened that he did not know which was which of the children, and that he had not presence of mind to conceal the difficulty. On taking them up, it was found that one was dead. His horror was great on perceiving that, instead of there being any regret on this account, each mother was anxious to make out that the dead infant must be her own. Neither of them would touch the living one* .
An unobserved or forgotten witness appeared in the person of Castle's little daughter Susan, who had crept out from her dark corner to peep at the babes in the blanket.
“That is the one you wrapped up first, Sir,” she said, pointing to the living infant.
“How do you know, my dear?”
“She knows well enough,” said the neighbour; “she had nothing to do but to watch. She—”
“How do you know, my dear?” persisted the surgeon.
“Because this corner of the blanket fell under the grate, and got all black; and when you brought the other baby you wrapped it up in the black part. Look!”
“'Tis all true,” said Castle's wife, “and her child was born first.”
The surgeon set her right, and considered the matter decided; but it was far from being so. She scolded her little daughter for her testimony till the child slunk out of the room; she pushed the infant roughly from her, and cursed it for its cries. Her neighbour insultingly told her it was certainly sent to make up to her for one of the lads that was going to be hanged, and that it was only a pity she had not had twins. Words, dreadful to hear from a mother's lips, followed. The contention grew louder and more violent, till the surgeon, fearing for their lives and senses, and being unable any longer to bear a scene so unnatural and horrible, left the room, bearing with him the innocent cause of dispute. Little Susan was on the stairs, still sobbing and afraid to go in; so she was also taken home by the surgeon, when he had sent in a neighbour to tend his two patients.
“Here, my dear,” said he to his wife, on entering his own door, “put this child to bed somewhere, and try if you can contrive to keep the infant alive till we can send it to the workhouse in the morning.”
“What has agitated you so much? Whose children are these?”
“The children of Providence only, my dear; for the hearts of parents are turned against their own offspring in these days. — What have I seen! I have seen the contention of mothers for a dead child. I have been with mothers who would thank any Solomon that should order the living child to be cut in two. Solomon himself could not read mothers' hearts in these days.”
“We will not be hard upon them,” said his wife. “It is want that has done this; — want like that which made a mother of Solomon's nation devour her own child. We will not blame them. Would we could help them!”
The matter ended in the infant's being received into the workhouse, little Susan's testimony, though strong, not being so conclusive as to justify tile surgeon's swearing to the parentage of the child; and there was no one else who could. When Castle returned, he observed that it signified little, as the parish must at all events have maintained the babe; neither he nor his neighbours could keep out of the workhouse much longer. This was soon found to be too true, when Ellen came home, being obliged to give up her place to a parish girl, and Frank appeared, with a grave face, to say that he was out of work, and had been so for so long a time, that he was convinced nothing was to be done but to go and seek his fortune elsewhere.
Many were the consultations between himself and his sister as to where he should go. There was but little chance of being better off in England. He mentioned Canada; he rather inclined to the Swan-river settlement; but when news came that Jerry and Bob were sentenced to transportation, the idea struck the brother and sister at once that the whole family might follow, and by settling near the convicts, keep an eye upon them, and possibly recover them when they should be removed from the temptations which had proved too strong for them. Frank had heard much of the advantages of emigrating to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land; and it appeared to him that no family was ever in circumstances that made the experiment less perilous than his own at this time. While Ellen took upon herself to mention the scheme to her father, Frank went to the curate of the parish, Mr. Jackson, whom he knew to have been employed in forwarding the emigration of some pauper labourers from the neighbourhood; and from this gentleman he learned much of what he wanted to know.
It was to Van Diemen's Land that Mr. Jackson had assisted in sending out some of his parishioners; and thither he advised Frank to go with his family, as there was a great demand for labour, both agricultural and mechanical, and as it would be the best situation for Ellen, from the great scarcity of female servants, especially dairy women. It seemed very possible that interest might be made to get their brothers sent to the same place, as there were many convicts there already, and more were wanted as farm-servants. As to how the means of conveyance were to be raised,—the common method, Mr. Jackson said, was for labourers to bind themselves for five or seven years to some settler in the colony, at a certain rate of wages, from which the expenses of the passage, and of food, clothing and habitation for the term of years, were to be deducted. Castle and his wife might thus bind themselves, the one as a farm, the other as a domestic servant in a family; and Frank's mechanical skill might enable him to make very good terms in the same sort of agreement. For Ellen, a better way still was open, if she could fortunately get included in the number of young women who were to be sent out by government from time to time, to supply the great want of female population in the Australian colonies. Mr. Jackson lent Frank books which informed him of the state and prospects of the country whither he wished to go, and several papers issued by government which explained the terms under which emigration was authorized by them. Frank found that the sum of money necessary to be raised was somewhat larger than he had supposed, but that the means of repayment were certain and easy. If Ellen could obtain a certificate from the clergyman of her parish, that she was between the ages of eighteen and thirty, that her health and character were good, and that half the expense of her passage, namely, 8l., could be advanced by her parents, or friends, or the parish, she might stand her chance of being chosen by the government to be sent out under safe guardianship, and immediately placed in a service on her arrival in the colony. There would be no impediment to her marrying as soon as she chose to do so; for which there were only too many opportunities from the circumstance of there being a very small proportion of women in the colony. If the parish could be prevailed on to advance the necessary sum for the conveyance of the rest of the family, it seemed that the prospects of all would become far better than they could ever grow at home,—better than Frank had dared to imagine since his childhood. It seemed so clearly the interest of the parish to favour the plan, that Frank returned to the consultation with Mr. Jackson, full of hope that a way was opening for finding, in a new country, those due rewards of labour which his native land seemed no longer in a condition to afford.
“What says your father to your scheme?” inquired Mr. Jackson in the first place.
“Very much what he says to all schemes, Sir, He likes nothing that is proposed, and fears every new plan. But as he dislikes and fears becoming department on the parish more than any thing else, I have great hopes that he will consent to go, if, after further consideration, I view the matter as I do now. We will do nothing hastily; but I certainly feel at present as if redemption was offered from a bondage which wears the soul and sickens the heart of man, There's my poor father——”
“Stay, stay, Frank. What do you mean by bondage?”
“The bondage of poverty, Sir; of hopeless, grinding poverty. What bondage cows a man's spirit more? What sours and debases and goads him more than to work and work from year to year in vain? If it was a curse upon Adam to get bread by the sweat of his brow, what is it to give the sweat of one's brow and get no bread?”
“It is a hardship which ought not to be borne when a fair way is open to shake it off. I only checked you in the fear that you might be laying blame where it is not due. I agree with you as to the evils of your case, and the remedy you would seek.”
“As to where the blame lies, Sir, our institutions must share it among them;—as well those in which the people are concerned, as the government. It is pretty clear, all the while, that the people in this parish are more than can be fed; and so the right way seems to be for some to go where food abounds; and the sooner they are off, the better for themselves and those they leave behind, when once they have settled where to go,”
“And who is to go?—for that is a question of no less importance,” observed Mr. Jackson. “You would not take all your relations, Frank, would you?”
Frank replied that they were all equally in want, his grandfather and grandmother as well as his father.
“But those who will help you to go,” continued Mr. Jackson, “must consider the welfare of the country as well as yours. The parish must pay more for the passage and maintenance of your grandfather than he will probably cost them at home, and this cannot be expected of them if, for the same sum, they could send over a young couple, whose labour is wanted abroad, and whose family will never become burdensome.”
Frank saw at once that in sending over a young couple, the parish sent over also all their descendants, besides supplying a want in the colony abroad. After a few moments' thought, he went on,—
“Surely, Sir, it would relieve the count of its over-fulness at once, to send out a certain number of young people every year, as they become marriageable, instead of spending the same money in giving a passage to old people?”
“It would; and the entire effect of emigration, as a method of relief to the country at large, depends on the selection of those who are to go. The number of persons who become marriageable every year in this country is now 800,000. If these were sent out, it is plain that the country would be depopulated in the course of a single generation; but if we sent out the same number of old persons, it would make a very small difference in the amount of people at home; and it would not be worth the colony's while to receive those who would bring little labour and no population. If, again, we sent out that number of men and boys to a colony where there are too few women already, we should afford ourselves only a half-relief, and give the colony nothing more than the present labour of these men and boys; whereas, by sending equal proportions of men and women, we give the colony all their descendants as well as themselves, and free ourselves from the same amount of labour,—which we do not want,”
“A much smaller number than 800,000 would be enough then, Sir, to thin our population sufficiently?”
“Certainly. If, instead of sending out people of all ages, we were to select those who become marriageable, one-sixth of that number, or about 133,000 persons emigrating annually, would prevent our population increasing; and this might be done at an expense not exceeding a fourth of the sum annually raised for poor-rate, sending half to America and half to Australia. This would be well worth while, even if there were to be no repayment of expenses; which there might and ought to be from colonies where labour is much wanted.”
“I am afraid,” said Frank, “that the parish will refuse to help my father and mother to emigrate, if it would answer so much better to send younger people.”
“Your father is still in the vigour of life, and may benefit the colony by twenty years' active labour yet; and your step-mother is several years younger. The parish sends out many less likely to repay them; but I do think your grandfather and his old lady are quite out of the question, even if they wished ever so much to go. But why should they go where every thing will be strange and therefore uncomfortable to them, and where they must, after all, be quite as dependent as at home? If you mean to maintain them, you can as well send money to them here as carry them over at a great expense, to receive it there; and if you cannot help them, they will be more forlorn there than living on their own parish. But you will he able to help them, since a fourth of your wages is all that the parish will require from you, and this will very soon pay off your debt. Ellen's 8l. will easily be earned; and when she has worked herself free, she will be able to help the old folks.”
“'Tis when I think of her,” said Frank, “that I am most eager to get to a place where toil is not in vain. As often as I hear her laugh, or watch her going about the house with her light step and busy pair of hands, I tremble lest I should see a scowl come over her face by and by, and her gait and actions grow listless, like so many of the women hereabouts. It must be owing to want and helplessness that our girls cannot be merry without being hold; and that they are so given to idleness which has nothing of the nature of play in it. I can remember my step-mother, Sir, just such a pretty, light-hearted woman as Ellen.”
“You will see more such if you go to Van Diemen's Land. There is toil there, and hardship too; but the toil is hopeful, and the hardship not of man's infliction.—I know you do not object to toil and hardship of this kind, Frank, or I should be the last person to encourage you to go. You must give up English likings as to food and lodging, and (what is more difficult) as to ways of doing things. You must bear to be directed what work you are to do, and how you are to do it; you must resolve from the beginning to accommodate yourself to the people and the place, without thinking and talking too much about how things are in England.”
“All this is easy, Sir, for the sake of plenty and independence.”
“I trust you will find it so. But, Frank, there are other things to be considered, both for your own sake and Ellen's. You probably see that in the present state of the colony, particular sobriety and discretion are required in all the young women that go there.”
Frank was quite ready to answer for his sister; and hoped that a settlement with a respectable husband would soon place her out of reach of temptation. He perceived that he would find it less easy to marry than he might wish; and this seemed the greatest drawback to the plan: but, perhaps, when he should be prosperous enough to marry, he might send over for a wife, as he heard some settlers did; or might be fortunate enough so find one that he would like among the new emigrants who would be coming over from time to time.
Mr. Jackson advised him not to think much about this at present, if he really intended to go; and agreed with him that there appeared still less chance of his marrying in England, if he continued to be too conscientious to form such a pauper marriage as many of his neighbours were venturing upon.
From this day, Frank began tutoring himself and his sister for the new way of life they hoped to enter upon. They learned all they could, from books and persons, about the changes they might look for out of their own country. They inured themselves purposely to toil and heat and cold, and strove to bear with patience the trials of temper which continually arose. There was only one thing which they did not try to bear patiently; and that was, receiving parish-pay. Their father was as much disgusted at it as themselves; and this assisted his reconcilement to the emigration plan. He would not give his children the satisfaction of saying that he liked it, or hoped any thing from it; but he vowed he would not stay where he was; but he there was no other place to go to, this implied assent. He looked with sullenness on the preparations that were made; but he did nothing in the way of hinderance; nor did he contradict his neighbours when they took for granted that he was going. So Frank and Ellen considered the matter settled as far as he was concerned; and rather expected to see him much disappointed if any thing should occur to overthrow the plan. His wife seemed utterly indifferent whether she went or staid, or what became of her; and the whole business seemed to rest upon the two young people and their friend, Mr. Jackson.
HOMES ON THE WASTE.
While the deliberations were going forward, some rumours which arose out of them reached the ears of a very influential gentleman in the neighbourhood, to whom they were not at all agreeable. Mr. Fellowes was a young man of large property, who had just come of age, and whose kindly disposition and activity of observation equally inclined him to make the condition of the surrounding poor one of his first objects of interest. He had for some time been investigating their state and its causes, with a view to doing something for their relief when he should have the control of his fortune. He had fully satisfied himself of the evils of the poor-law system, and that the one thing wanted was an increased production of food,—an object, in his belief, very easy of accomplishment. This he intended to prove by an experiment of his own; or that which his friends called an experiment,— and he a demonstration. His plan became known to Mr. Jackson in due time, as well as to many others less willing to listen to what he had to say, and to regard his exertions with the seriousness and kindness which their importance, and the benevolence of their motives deserved. It was with equal good will that these two gentlemen met at the parsonage-door one day, each having questions to put to the other.
“Pray is it true,” inquired Mr. Fellowes, “that you are encouraging the Castles and others of your parishioners to emigrate?”
“Perfectly true; and I was coming to you to make a request as to something I wish you to do as soon as they are gone.”
“Let us see first whether it is necessary for them us go. Is it quite settled? Are they past being persuaded?”
“Their passage is not taken, but their minds are made up, and Ellen Castle's name is sent in to government.”
“It may be refused; and in that case there is time to save them yet.”
“Save them from what?”
“From what! From the manifold woes of the emigrant. Is it no evil to leave the country, and the kindred, and the father's house? Is it no evil to be severed from old connexions, and wrenched from all that has been beloved from birth? Is it no evil to be set down in a wilderness, where climate, soil, the habits of the people where there are any, and the solitude where there are not, are all uncongenial, and whatever happens is new and strange? Is it no evil to be banished?”
“All these are great evils, I grant: but from which of them are the Castles likely to suffer so much as by remaining here? Their country affords no kindly home for them. They will be disgraced in the eyes of their kindred by becoming a public burden; and their father's house long ago passed into hands better able to keep it up than theirs. They leave little behind that they love; for want has chilled their affections towards their country, and hardship is fast breeding hatred to the powers which have not hitherto succeeded in securing the happiness of the people. As for the rest,—they are going to a fine climate, a fertile soil, and among inhabitants who speak their language, and are under the same government with themselves. While they have plenty and independence before them, and leave only want and woe behind, I cannot think there is any cruelty in assisting them to go whither they wish.”
“But, Sir, you are assuming that they must prosper abroad and be destitute at home; whereas I assert that neither the one nor the other need be the case. Look at the Swan-river settlement! There was no end of the praise we heard of the climate, and the soil, and the facilities of every kind; and yet where was there ever a more complete failure?”
“Through these very facilities the failure happened,” replied Mr. Jackson. “Land was so cheap, and required so little capital to be laid out on it at first, that every labourer chose to have land, instead of letting his labour to capitalists. The consequence was, that capitalists could do nothing for want of labourers; and by the time their goods were rotted on the beach, and their cattle had strayed or died for want of proper care, the provisions they took out with them were consumed, the new crops had not come up, and all were reduced to equal distress. It was because all would be capitalists at first that all became labourers,—and very poor labourers, at last. This need not be the case again; and, in fact, the Castles hire themselves by contract to capitalists long settled in the parts they are going to.— And now tell me why it need not be that these people should be exposed to want and woe at home.”
“Simply because they might be colonized here instead of abroad. I am sure we have waste land enough and to spare for all our population.”
“As to space, undoubtedly; but what say you to its quality? Why is it still waste in the midst of a hungry population, if it is worth being tilled?”
“Let us try whether it is not; that is all I ask. Send the Castles, and twenty other families to me, and let us see whether corn will not come up upon well-dug ground, as it has ever done till now. — Remember that the condition of land varies under the influences of nature, and that soil once barren need not remain barren for ever. Nature works,—more slowly it is true,—but not less surely than man, in preparing the waste for his support; and there is always a point of time, sooner or later, when he may take the work out of her hands and feed upon the fruits of her ministrations. Wherever there are furrows, wherever there are mounds, there is a growth of fertile soil. Particles of sand are brought by the winds to mix with decaying herbage. Minute seeds of plants and the decomposed elements of vegetable substances float in the atmosphere, are arrested by the first elevation they come in contact with, and settle down to enrich the land. The vegetation which springs up attracts the moisture of the air, and thus is fertility again promoted. It spreads and spreads till a desert becomes a field, or in a condition to be made one. O, you may trust to nature to provide for man!”
“I question nothing of what you have said,” replied Mr. Jackson. “On the contrary, when I preach of Providence, I use as arguments whatever processes of co-operation and amelioration we can distinguish among the workings of nature, from the counteracting forces by which the planets are retained in their orbits, to the method by which the crevice of the rock exchanges, in due time, its carpet of moss for a crest of branching oaks. But nature is slow in her workings; and since the life of man is short, his business is to work with her, not to wait for her. Every acre of ground may in course of ages become capable of tillage; but our business meanwhile is to place our hungry brethren where nature's work is forwardest. Among the many grades of fertility prepared by her, it is our wisdom to choose the highest. This is what I preach as the truest gratitude to Providence.”
“I have rather wondered, I own, at the style of your preaching lately. It would strike a stranger as unusual.”
“I do not preach for strangers, but for my own flock; and if they are not enlightened enough to apply abstract principles, I must help them to do so. I must not only tell them to be honest, but show that honesty can scarcely subsist under overwhelming temptations to theft and fraud. I must not only recommend the domestic affections, but warn against turning them to bitterness by rashly incurring the risk of that destitution under which parents and children learn to look coldly on each other. I must not only speak of gratitude to God, but show how it may be made to spring up by distributing to all a share of his gifts, instead of being starved out by want and woe. If, as I believe, it be true that hardness of the lot brings hardness of the heart, and that blasphemy is a disease of the spiritbroken, how can I and other ministers of the gospel promote its influences so well as by teaching how to bring about that state of society which is most congemal to those influences?”
“Yours is a more likely way to gain your object than theirs who carefully separate the interests of the other world from those of the present.—Well! I am about to preach to the same effect by my actions as you from your pulpit.”
“Then, if you would second my doctrines, you must do the thing I told you I meant to ask of you. You must take down the cottages inhabited by those about to emigrate; and it must be done immediately on their departure, or I shall have to publish the banns of nobody knows how many young couples the very next Sunday. Unless you have inquired into the fact, you will hardly believe how many marry just because there is a house ready. We have too many dwellings in proportion to our food.”
“I have had thoughts already of removing to my new farm some cottages that belong to me, and of buying others from the speculators in our parish funds, who are far too ready to build in our neighbourhood. There will be little encouragement for them to build again when all the surplus population of the parish is located on my pauper farm, where no strangers may intermeddle. You must come and see the ground I have laid out.”
Mr. Jackson readily agreed to go, but had great doubts about the final results of the scheme. This seemed to Mr. Fellowes very strange, as they agreed upon the extent of relief at present wanted, and upon the capability of this farm to supply it.
“It was you yourself who told me, Jackson, that it is not the whole of the people now distressed that it is necessary to relieve. It is only the redundancy that we have to take care of.”
“Certainly: but it should be so relieved as not to produce a further redundancy.—We have among us, as we agree, sixty labourers more than we want. Of these none actually starve, and they therefore deprive some others of a portion of necessaries. It appears accordingly that three hundred are insufficiently fed and clothed because there is a redundancy of sixty.”
“Well! my district farm will take off sixty at once, and more afterwards.”
“And will therefore produce an immediate relief, restoring to the remainder of the three hundred their proper share of necessaries; so would the emigration of sixty. But mark the difference three generations hence. Our young people who emigrate carry their descendants with them to a land where they are wanted. The descendants of your pauper cultivators must be turned out upon society after all, in greater numbers than you now abstract from it. It will be well if the grandchildren of your present dependants have not to emigrate at last, after the expenditure of much capital that might have been better employed, and at a much greater ultimate cost than at present.”
“You seem to forget, Jackson, that the capital I am laying out is all to be reproduced, and that the people on my farm are to work themselves free. If any reliance is to be placed on calculations which have been conducted with the utmost care, if experience is to be trusted, if I may believe what I saw last month with my own eyes in the Belgian colonies (which it is worth a long journey to see), a good deal more than the cost of settling my paupers and providing for them will be raised by their labour upon the ground. The best of them will in time repay me, and go out with money in their pockets to make room for others.”
“And where are they to go? To carry more labour and new families into a market which is already overstocked. How much easier to remove them at once to a labour market where they and their children will be permanently welcome!”
“I am for ever met with objections about raising rents and overstocking the labour-market,” cried Mr. Fellowes—“I that take no rent, and bind myself to employ all the labour!”
“I said nothing about rent,” replied the clergyman. “I am quite aware that a farm like yours, made out of a forced application of capital, bears no relation to the natural process of rent. But I do not see how you can escape the charge of ultimately obliging a portion of society to pay too dear for their food.”
“What can you mean, when the very essence of my plan is, ——”
“Tell me your plan, and then I will tell you my meaning”
“My plan is to show, on a small scale, how the charity-funds of this country might be employed productively, and therefore so as to fulfil the ends of charity. I would have the unappropriated wastes of Great Britain, amounting to, some say, 15,000,000 of acres, (and some say much more.) set apart to be the People's Farm. It should be cultivated by means of public funds, say our present poor-rates; and it should be so portioned out as that every pauper should have the interest of private property in his allotment.— The further internal arrangements should be made according to the judgment of the directors. Mine are to be as like as I can make them to those adopted in the pauper farms in the Netherlands. Each family shall have its portion of ground and its cottage, with food and clothing till these can be procured by themselves. The soil shall be improved to the utmost by spadehusbandry, and by preparations of manure requiring more labour than can be devoted to the object in a general way. The productiveness of the ground being usually very great under these methods, I expect a considerable surplus every harvest; of which a part will go to repay the original expenses, and a part to set forward the family when they re-enter the world. Meanwhile, the women and children will spin and weave, and we shall produce within our own bounds all that we want. We shall not even need money: for the people will pay one another in commodities.”
“That is, you are about to carry back a portion of society to a primitive condition;—to delving, and a state of barter. If there was no choice between the starvation of a number and this state of society, I might be brought to look upon it with some degree of complacency: but when other ways are open,—when the question is,— not whether all shall relapse into barbarism or some starve,—but whether multitudes shall pass their lives in unassisted digging at home, or a few wander to distant parts of this fair earth to leave the many in possession of the blessings of advanced civilization,—I am for applying labour to its highest purposes, and for elevating instead of depressing the pursuits of society. No one doubts that if every hand was employed in tillage there would be food enough for all: the question is whether it be not thus obtained at too great a cost,—every higher pursuit being sacrificed to it. Only convey to fertile regions abroad the half of those who are eager to go, and there will be abundance of food for all,—and of many more things equally essential to the full enjoyment of life. If the Greeks had not done so, what would have become of all that they did to enlighten and bless the world? If they had fed their surplus numbers by employing more and more in tillage at home, as their numbers increased and the produce required was greater, there would now have been little of the philosophy, the literature, the fine arts, which have spread from their country over the world; while, after all, fewer would have lived, and fewer of the living would have been fed than under their system of emigration.”
“They seem indeed never to have thought of the more obvious mode of providing for the people. Away they sent them, as fast as they overflowed their bounds.”
“Because they were so circumstanced as to perceive at once the fallacy of the supposed remedies which you and other benevolent persons here are advocating. The great body of the people among the Greeks were slaves, maintained by masters, and not, as with us, free labourers supported by their own toil. The deficiency of food was there first felt by the masters, in the cost of supporting their slaves. Here, it is felt mainly by the labourers in the fall of the real value of wages, In Greece, there was no dispute about the fact, from the moment that food became deficient. Here, such a deficiency is even now questioned by multitudes who declare that we have not a redundant, but only a poor population; that nobody wants food who has enough to give for it; and that therefore it is money, or work that is wanted, and not food. Such observers give alms, or pay their poor neighbours for digging holes and filling them up again, or doing things equally useless; never dreaming that all the while they are taking food from somebody who has earned it by a better kind of toil. Such follies as this could never be suggested by the state of things in Greece; and I see no reason why, because our lower orders are not slaves, we should not abjure our errors, and adopt such parts of the Grecian policy as were wise.”
“Well, but, the long and short of the matter is this. If the quantity of food in Great Britain is too small, cannot it be increased?”
“To be sure it can. If ten thousand individuals can live this year only by taking a portion from their neighbours, we may raise as much food in addition next year as may feed ten thousand people; but if the people at the same time increase still faster, how are we better off than we were before?”
“But cannot we raise enough that year for twenty thousand people instead of ten thousand to meet the difficulty? The People's Farm would admit of this.”
“It would: but here the question recurs, whether it will not answer better to send the ten or twenty thousand people where they may obtain food at much less cost of toil and capital, and where their descendants will not be liable to tax the mother country for food for generations yet unborn. At home it is only by a considerable sacrifice that the growth of food can be made for any length of time to equal,—or by any extraordinary effort to outstrip the demands upon it; while, abroad, it spontaneously keeps ahead of population, and will do so in many parts, till men have grown wise enough to regulate population. Our best present policy, then, is to send our surplus numbers abroad to eat and prosper, instead of obliging more and more of our multitudes to dig of at home. It is on your wish to make them do so much labour for a lesser instead of a greater production, that I founded my charge of your ultimately making a part of society pay too dear for their food.”
“You mean because labour is the price of food?”
“Yes; and food would be almost as much too dear under your system as under the present. At present, the competition for food is so excessive that men bid their labour against each other to desperation. Under your pauper-farm system, the same thing would take place in time; and in the meanwhile, every bushel of wheat would cost twice or thrice as much labour as in Van Diemen's Land; so that both immediately and ultimately, you oblige a certain number to pay higher for their food than they need do and therefore ought to do.—And this without taking into consideration the change in the proportion of capital to population which is caused by emigration,—a change most beneficial to the mother country.”
“And how extensive do you conceive that change to be? There is very little difference between the cost of conveying persons to Van Diemen's Land, and settling them on a pauper farm,—too small a difference to warrant such an expression as yours.”
“In addition to this difference, there is all the increase of production which will take place abroad, and which is so much gained to the mother country, since it maintains her people. Besides this, all that would have been unproductively consumed by the pauper descendants of these emigrants may be considered as so much clear gain to the community. Again,— the thriving population of our colonies will want more and more of our manufactures, and will send us their agricultural produce in exchange; and I suppose you will not question the advantage of investing our capital in manufactures, and receiving wool and wheat of the best quality in return, instead of laying it out on lands of inferior fertility at home, while the people scantily supply themselves with the coarse manufactures of their own firesides? You will not question the duty of availing ourselves of the advantages of division of labour in the case of our greatest need? Yet you would, by your plan of home colonization deprive the people of this reciprocity of benefits. You would set up new manufactures instead of a new market for them; and all for the sake of producing food at a greater cost than under the emigration system. You are clearly wrong, Fellowes, depend upon it. What a pity that you should not turn your zeal and benevolence and your other resources to the best account!”
“The fact is,” replied Fellowes, “that on a matter of so much importance as this, I am anxious to go on sure ground. I have heard so much on good authority of the miseries of emigrants in Canada and elsewhere, and I have seen so much with my own eyes of the benefits of the Home-Colonization system in the Netherlands, that I am induced to do that which I know will produce great and immediate good, instead of that whose consequences I cannot witness or calculate. I want to give our poor neighbours food; and I dare not run the risk of having them perish with cold and hunger in the woods before they can get any.”
“If you mix up the abuses of a system with its principles,—if you take the conduct of a few ignorant adventurers as an example of what is to be done by all emigrants,” continued Mr. Jackson, “I do not wonder at our differing as we do. It is true that too many of our poor neighbours, heartsick at their condition here, have wandered forth with nothing but the clothes on their backs and a hatchet in their hands, without the guidance and assistance which are necessary to their very lives in a new climate and condition of society; but this folly, and the consequent hardship, have nothing to do with emigration. It is to preclude such evils that I would have benefactors like you demonstrate to the people what is essential to a successful emigration, and that emigration is sure to be successful if well conducted. As for its ultimate results, time will teach them to all; but you, my dear Sir, with your objects and your resources, will be inexcusable if you do not endeavour to anticipate them. It will be unpardonable in you to adopt a manifestly short-sighted policy while the philosophy of principles and the evidence of facts lie open before you.”
“Fact is enough for me, romantic as many of my friends think me,” replied Fellowes, smiling. “The fact will be, as you will witness, if we both live, that two years hence our sixty superabundant labourers with their families will have food without burthening the parish. This is enough for me.”
“It will not always be enough. If you should live to see the multiplied descendants of these sixty persons either suffering themselves under pauperism, or displacing an equal number from the ranks of employed labourers, you may wish that they had been located where there was room for all without any arbitrary direction of capital, or factitious employment of labour. If, in your old age, you do not witness this, it will be because Others have repaired your mistake by conveying elsewhere the surplus you have created.”
“If we both live ten years, friend, you shall come and see how I send forth those who once were paupers, with money in their hands, ready to establish themselves reputably in society. There will be nothing in this to make me repent.”
“No; your time for repentance will be when each of these monied men sends two paupers to your gates; —when you find poverty growing up round you, which you can relieve,—if at all,— only by a late emigration. I am sure you will make your confessions to me honestly, if that day should ever come.”
“I will, if you will give me faithful tidings of the Castles, and the others who are going with them. Let me hear of all their struggles and trials, from the outset till the end.”
“You shall, as far as I know them myself. Meanwhile, let us help one another where we agree. Do you be on the watch to lessen the number of dwellings as much as you can, and I will use my pastoral influence in inducing the young folks to delay the publication of their banns till they have secured something besides a bare shelter to begin with.”
GOING IN SEARCH OF HOME.
Mr. Jackson's interest in the subject of emigration to Van Diemen's Land first arose out of his friendship with a gentleman and lady who were appointed by government to superintend the selection and preparation of the young women who were assisted in their settlement in the way already related. His recommendations were received with the confidence naturally resulting from this intimacy; and he had interest to get arrangements made for Frank's convict brothers to be settled near the rest of the family. In course of time, which seemed very long to impatient paupers, all was settled. Ellen had a summons to be in London by a certain day, with her 8l. in her pocket, and a small sum over for the purchase of such necessaries in the way of clothing as should be provided cheap for her by those who were to receive her, see her safe on board, and furnish her with a letter to the governor, stating her family circumstances.
Frank and his parents, with a few more labourers from the parish, of A——, were to sail in another ship about the same time, proposals having been sent before them to van Diemen's Land, to bind themselves to farmers for a term of years at a certain rate of wages, out of which the parish was to be repaid for the expenses of their passage and outfit.
The outfit was much less expensive in their case than in that of settlers in Canada and the western states of America, both because the climate of Van Diemen's Land is more congenial to English constitutions, and because wearing apparel and other necessaries are much more easy to be had there, even if not supplied by settlers as a portion of the wages of labour. Frank was furnished with a complete set of tools; and the family with a stout suit of clothes each. A stock of plain substantial provisions for six months was added, and this was all. There were a few grumblers about the last-mentioned article. They thought that the parish might, at parting, treat the people with better cheer than they had been accustomed to; but the parish authorities were wiser. They had heard how many live had been lost on the passage to America from the poor Irish, who had been accustomed to nothing better than potatoes, being fed with an abundance of more stimulating diet, under circumstances which prevented their taking their usual exercise; and when, from having nothing to do, they were tempted to eat more than they wanted of good things that t they could not get at home. The nearer the diet on ship-board resembles that in common use, the better for the health of the emigrant; and if he finds himself less disposed to eat than when at the hard labour he has been accustomed to, no harm will come of his temperance.
As the day of departure approached, Frank felt it a positive evil that every thing was done for himself and his family by the parish, as too much leisure was left for very unhappy thoughts. He had no idea till the time came how much there was to be left behind which even he could not help regretting. He had indeed no beloved cottage to quit, no favourite stock to sell off, no circle of attached friends and neighbours to say farewell to; but he would fain have had such regrets as these to bear, for the sake of something to do at the last. He envied his sister at her needle, making a gown for her mother when she had finished her own linen, while he wandered over the hills that looked towards the sea, or watched for the postman who was to bring the final tidings for Ellen, or stood with his arms folded, silently hearing his father's murmurs or his mother's taunts. He was quite angry with himself for selfishly wondering what he should do with the three days that were to pass between Ellen's departure and his own, when he ought to be glad that she would be out of hearing of the uncomfortable sayings that now met her ears continually.
The hour came when the young people ought to be setting out to meet the carrier's cart which was to convey Ellen to London. When Frank thought he had waited long enough before the door, he went in to look for her, and found her with her bonnet on, her bundle by her side, and little Susan on her knee. Her eyes were running over with tears; but she smiled when he tapped her shoulder as a signal that they must go.
“It seems like a long parting, just because I am going a long way,” said she, trying to laugh. “But if we all go to the same place, and there are meadows and cows, and the same sort of life we have been accustomed to, there is little to mind in going, except Mr. Jackson, to be sure, and grandfather, and—and——”
“Where is father?” asked Frank, distressed at her sobs; “surely he is not gone out just now?”
Ellen ran to the door to look about for him, and saw her father leaning against the wall.
“Where's your money?” he asked. You had need take care of money when you have got it. All the rest is moonshine, to my thinking.”
“There is very bright sunshine where we are going, if they all say true,” said Ellen; “and that you will find, father,” before a year is over. You may trust Frank and Mr. Jackson, I am sure; and so——”
“I trust nobody. I have had enough of trusting people,” cried Castle. “All this is your doing, remember, both of you; so never cast it up to me. Go, go. 'Tis getting very late. Where's your money, I ask you, child?”
“Safe, father, sewed into my stays. But, father, what can happen to us so bad as living here, as—as—we have done lately?”
“Go, children, go, and leave off talking about our meeting again at the other side of the world. If I go to the bottom half-way, Ellen, it will be none the worse for you, but the better, except that Frank must go too, and you would not like that so well.”
“Well, one kiss more; and God bless you, whatever becomes of me!”
Ellen found her step-mother gossipping with a neighbour as if nothing was happening. Her farewell words were few.
“Goodbye. If I find you an honest woman next time I see you, it's more than I expect, from what people say of the place you are going to. Come, now, Frank, don't be in a passion. Better take care of your sister than look so proud about her.”
Frank now took care of his sister so far as to remove her while she had strength to go.
“O Frank!” she cried, as he put her arm within his own, and led her rapidly on, “what can there be about me that makes them all talk as they do?”
“Nothing about you, dear, but about the place. It is a dangerous place for vain, silly girls; but you need only mind your business, and think of father and mother, and what we have agreed to do for them, and you will do well enough.”
“And of Mr. Jackson, and grandmother, and how she almost broke my heart last night. Look, look! do you see how yondertrees stoop and shiver in the churchyard? What a shower of leaves!”
“'Tis a sudden gust. There have been many such of late.”
“Just so they went when Molly Shepherd's funeral was going under them, and grandmother bade me beware of her shame. 'Tis just like a sign to me now! And here comes Mr. Jackson too.”
Mr. Jackson just stopped her to give her a little book as a remembrance, and to beg her to write to her grandfather, of whom he should inquire for her from time to time. It was now really very late.
“Don't hurry yourself,” said Frank. “Walk quick if you like, but don't be flurried. I'll overtake the cart for you, I'll be bound; and you had better look like yourself as you get in.”
The carrier was just cracking his whip to proceed after a halt, when the brother and sister made their appearance at the end of the lane. Ellen cast one glance back upon the familiar spire and hedgerows and cottage roofs, and summoned up one bright smile and a few more words for Frank.
“'Tis not as if you were to stay behind, Frank.”
“To be sure not! Leave every thing to me, dear, and be steady and easy, that's all; and don't talk of Bob and Jerry, for your own sake. —-All right, carrier?—Well then, good bye!”
And high on the hedge stood Frank, gazing long after he had ceased to distinguish the bright face looking out at the back of the cart. Not till the vehicle had disappeared behind the hill did he descend to the stubble-field below, and pick up straws, and cut hazel switches like a truant boy, muttering to himself “In three days we shall be off.”
The second departure was more public and more painful. The two old folks would come out at the last moment: and their distress moved the gazers to an outcry against the cruelty of deserting them, and the unnatural behaviour of leaving one's country and kindred. A giddy young couple thanked the Castles for vacating their cottage just when others were wanting one; and of the rest, some who were disappointed of going looked on in silent envy, and others were loud in their reports of the dangers of the sea, and the horrors of savage life. Frank had seated his charge in the waggon and walked on, intending to be overtaken out of hearing of these busy tongues. He looked back from the first corner, and seeing that there was great confusion, returned. Castle was motioning away the parish officers and Mr. Jackson, and doggedly refusing to go after all. His wife was laughing, and little Susan crying.
“You must please yourself, father,” said he firmly. “If you put yourself out of the way of being helped by your own children, God help you! I must go, and that this moment.”
“Come along!” cried the wife. “We may as well get out of reach of these plaguy officers, with their talk of our debt to them. Let's be off, and then they may get their money as they can. We shall never drive our carriage here, as they say my boys may do at Botany Bay. Come along!”
Frank would allow of no force, His father should choose for himself. So said Mr. Jackson.
While he was choosing, a ready pauper jumped into his place, and the waggon drove off. Before it had gone two hundred yards, there was a cry to the driver to stop, the new candidate was turned out grumbling, and Castle scrambled in. Twenty times during the journey to London, he asked how he and his were to pay the seventy pounds required to send them out; and as often his wife bade him not mind whether it was paid or not; and Frank assured him that he should not be burdened with debt, if his children lived and prospered. Tears came at last to the unhappy man's relief. As he passed villages and farmsteads where healthy and cheerful faces looked up at the waggon as it went by;—as he heard the saw grinding in the saw-pit, by; and the hammering at the forge, he wept at being reminded of his younger and more prosperous days, and at the thought that while so many were busy and happy in their occupations, there was no room for him, —once as hearty in his toil, and now as willing to work as any of them. Frank contrived to gather what was in his thoughts, and spoke of the saw-pits and forges which are so busy in the land they were going to, and of the increased dignity and profit of such occupations in places where artificers are scarce. His own heart was ready to sink when he fancied, instead of such a busy region as that under his eye, plains and valleys with scarcely a roof visible from end to end: but every glimpse of a workhouse, every notice by the way-side about vagrants restored his courage, and satisfied him that it was best, at all events, to be where, whatever other evils might exist, there was no pauperism.
The departure of Jerry and Bob took place in a somewhat different style. A stranger would hat fancied there was high holiday in Newgate the day before they went. Parties of convicts from the country arrived, and were lodged there previous to embarkation, and the larger proportion were full of congratulations to one another on their fine prospects. This was done in bravado by some, no doubt; and a few looked downcast, and were laughed at by their companions for the shame expressed in their countenances and manners: but it was actually the belief of most that they were lucky fellows to be carried free of expense to a country where they should have little to do but get rich as fast as they liked. Two among them had been transported before, and so wonderful and tempting were the tales they had to tell, that they not only found willing listeners among criminals wherever they went, but had induced more than one of the present company to commit thefts in order to get transported and put in fortune's way. These men, Giles and Green, held forth in all the vanity of superior experience, and in all the pride of having cheated the law; and drew an attentive audience round them while waiting for the cart which was to convey the company to the convictship.
Bob was leaning rather despondingly against the wall, when his brother clapped him on the shoulder, and asked him why he looked so black on this the grandest day of his life.
“You should have said 'thank'ee’ to the judge, Bob, as I did when he finished with us; and so you would if you'd known how we were obliged to him. We'll have each a house and servants, and all handsome about us by the time we're one and-twenty, and meanwhile, there are fine pranks to be played. Come and hear Green, about how he and his set got as much rum in one night as they could drink in a month, and what frolics they had in the woods, before he took it into his head to come back without leave.”
Bob shook himself free of his brother, who however would not long let him alone.
“I say, Bob,” he continued, returning, “they call you sulky; and it will be the worse for you in the colony if they report you sulky. You may as well hear what we are to do when we get there.”
Bob listlessly followed, and took his place among the eager hearers.
“Bet Turner!” cried one. “What is that she that belonged to Greville's gang? She that got transported for shop-lifting?”
“The same. Well; she has a large white house just out of Sidney, on the right hand as you go out of Mount-street. Lord! you should see her driving out, how grand she looks over her servants, and as well behaved to her husband as if she had not left another behind her. They say she sends Turner a bank note every year out of charity. He has married again to give her satisfaction that he won't claim her; so they are both content.”
“Then there is Wilson,” cried Green. “You remember what a poor ragged creature he was while he worked like other honest men, for nine shillings a week. He got sent abroad for the first bad shilling he tried to pass alter he joined us; and all for looking like a bungler at a new trick. He worked his way up into a farm of his own in four years, and he has got his wife and children over, and is very much respected. But Jack Lawe is the finest fellow of them all. He's just past thirty, and he is as rich as a London banker at sixty.”
“What, he that was within an hour of hanging?”
“Aye. They looked pretty close to him for a long while; but he is as sharp in his wits as he is clever at whatever you set him to. He cheated them all round, and got himself free in six years, and now you should see him out hunting or betting at billiards. He is a good-hearted fellow, and does not scorn old friends. Many's the nod and word he has given me from the billiard-room window at Sidney, when I have been passing, let who would be there. Everybody is glad of the prosperity of John Lawe, Esq.'
Somebody having made inquiry about the voyage, Green went on,
“O, that's the worst part of it. It's horrid enough, to be sure, to be cooped up for months on board, and all so solemn and dull, and no getting out of the way of the clergyman. But it's not so bad as it used to be, when they treated such folks as we like so many wild beasts. They paid the captain so much a head for the people embarked, and never asked how many he landed; so he starved as many as he pleased, and stowed them so close that scores were stifled by the way. It was mighty dull work then for those that got safe; the labour was so hard, and no liberty. There was little encouragement to go to the colonies then. But now that they don't kill one by inches by the way, it is worth putting up with the passage, for the chance of making one's fortune at the end of it.”
“Particularly for them that have friends in power to get fine situations for them,” said Jerry pertly. “Bob and I are going to have good care taken of us, I hear. But it's a great plague that the old ones are going to be spies over us. It will spoil our sport terribly, unless we can manage to cut them.”
“That's better than having them whining and praying after us all the way from here to the ship, as the old folks mostly do,” said Green. “When I went before, my father behaved as if he was following me to the gallows. He knows better now. He gave me the wink yesterday for a sharp chap that knew how to take care of myself. He said,—true enough,—that the worst blunder I ever made was coming back when once I was well off.”
“Aye, aye, Green; a certain person knew how to take care of herself as well as you. She knew better than to keep herself single five years for you. 'Tis a fine feather in her cap to have brought You so far on a fool's errand.”
Green tried to conceal his visible passion under an appearance of indifference, while he muttered that a better one than he came for would follow him out very soon, if the judge did not baulk them of the sentence they meant to get pronounced upon her.
“Here they come, lads!” he cried, interrupting himself. “All is ready: our carriage at the door! Put a bold face upon it, boys! Now for it! Don't have anything to say to the whiners at the gate. Curse all spoil-sports! Give them three cheers, boys! Hurra! hurra! hurra!”
And gibing, jeering, laughing, shouting, went the batch of convicts through a throng of relatives and former companions, and gazing strangers; some of whom were pale and weeping, others signing and winking, and more gaping in wonder and pleasure at the scene; speculating upon whether the largest share of punishment did not rest with those who were left behind. Bob, and one or two other scowlers, were almost overlooked in the company of adventurers, who seemed to be going forth merrily to cheat the law, and seek their fortunes in a land of plenty.
Ellen was the first of the family that arrived at Hobart Town in Van Diemen's Land. Next came the convict-ship, which was sent round to Launceston to disembark its passengers; that port being nearer the district where the convict labour was to be employed. When the batch of parish emigrants arrived, a fortnight afterwards, Frank found, on application to the proper government officer, that his sister had landed in good health, and had received a high character from the clergyman and his lady who had come over as superintendents of the expedition; that Ellen had been forwarded, with a few of her fellow-passengers, to the district where a service had been procured for her as dairy-maid on a settler's farm; and that care had been taken that her parents and brother should be indentured to farmers in the same neighbourhood. So far, all was well. Frank could learn nothing about his brothers, except that they were to be landed at Launceston, and that Launceston was within thirty miles of the spot where he was to be located. The officer he was speaking to had nothing to do with the arrangements respecting convicts: his business was to take care of emigrant labourers on their arrival.
Castle himself could not help being pleased at the appearance of things at Hobart Town, when he and Frank took a walk, the evening after their arrival. The only objections he could think of were, that there were few shops; that it was not at all likely that the country inland should be half so civilized as what he saw; and that it was a thing he had not been used to, to have Christmas fall at the hottest time of the year, and the trees green all the winter through. It was now May; and they told him that winter was coming on, and yet that the woods would look as green as now all the time; and that the snow, if there was any, would not lie more than a day on any ground but the mountain tops, and a bleak common here and there. They told him that for more than three hundred days in the year the sun would shine all day, and the air be dry and pure, and seldom too hot or too cold. All this was what he had not been used to, and did not know how to believe. His son supposed that if it came true, he would not object; as one of the consequences of such a climate is that English people have much better health, and live, on the average, a good deal longer at Van Diemen's Land than at home. Castle peevishly laughed at all talk about life and health, when it was, in his opinion, doubtful whether they might not be starved to death within three months. His son left this point to be demonstrated by time rather than by argument; and meanwhile observed that there were few signs of starvation about Hobart Town, in which, besides the government residence, there are nearly eight hundred houses, most of which are surrounded with gardens; the dwellings having been originally built on separate allotments of land, of a quarter of an acre each. The streets cross at rightangles, and command fine views of the neighbouring country, and afford cheering evidences of the success of the industry which has sought employment there. A dock-yard is seen on the river's brink; and corn-mills, tanneries, breweries, a hat-manufactory, &c., are conspicuous in the midst of the town. An amphitheatre of green hills rises to the westward, the crowning summit of which is 4000 feet high; and from these hills descends a fine stream of water, flowing through the town into the Derwent, which, with its varying expanse and beautifully wooded bays and sloping shores, forms the eastern boundary. This view was little enough like what Castle had fancied in opposition to all that he had been told. He was for ever picturing to himself a region of wild woods, or bleak plains covered with snow; and he was now as much surprised at the sight of meadows, hills, dales, and a thriving town, with a blue sky overhead, as if he might not have known as much before. He had complained of his hard lot in being indentured as a shepherd; and no wonder, while he thought his flocks were to inhabit a dreary wilderness; but now that he found he had nothing to fear from storms and snow-drifts, that the pastures were excellent, the springs plentiful, and the sheep as fine as the world can produce, he began to think he might be worse off in point of occupation; though he would give nobody the satisfaction of hearing him say so. His wife was to be a domestic servant in the same farm where he was shepherd; and even little Susan was carefully stipulated for; the labour of children being valuable at almost any age, in a place where much more assistance is wanted than can be had.
The first part of their journey to the Dairy Plains, (the district where they were to settle,) was through the very choicest portion of the island, both as to beauty and fertility, It is not surprising that those who first surveyed this tract, and took it as a fair sample of the island at large, should have represented Van Diemen's Land as a terrestrial paradise, and been suspected of exaggeration through the favourableness of their report. The fact is, the island is supposed to contain about 15,000,000 acres,—one-third of which is considered arable, another third fit for sheep-pasture, and the rest unprofitable at present. The country between Hobart Town and Launceston consists of green hills and fertile plains, among which towns and villages and solitary dwellings are interspersed. Rivers wind between their wooded banks, and streams flow down from the high grounds. Excellent macadamized roads run through the whole district, and branch off to the growing settlements on either hand of the main track. It was a great amusement to Frank to compare whatever he met with that partook of the civilization of his own country with whatever looked new and strange. Before leaving Hobart Town, he had been all the more struck with its printing establishments, its Mechanics Institute, its Book Society, and schools, from observing the strangeness of the natural productions that he met at every step. In the gardens he beheld tea trees where he had been accustomed to see lilacs and laburnums; and cotton plants, myrtles, and geraniums growing as tall as himself, and spreading out into bushes. The very grass grows differently;—not stringy in the roots and carpetlike in the surface, as in England; but in tufts. Parrots, instead of canaries, were the pets of young ladies; and the bandicoot was offered for sale instead of the rabbit. Cockatoos instead of crows were to be frightened away from the fields and gardens; and flocks of pigeons among the stubble looked as much like partridges as pigeons; only more beautiful,—with their gold-dropped wings,—than either species in England. On the road, in like manner, the freestone bridge over the Jordan, the postman on horseback, the tillage and inclosures, looked British; but the evergreen woods, in the midst of which arose the peppermint tree to a lofty height;—the herds of kangaroos coming out of their covert into the dewy plains at sunrise;—the spotted opossums climbing and descending the forest trees;—the black swans sailing on the lakes, and uttering cries like the creaking of an old sign-board;—all appeared foreign, and scarcely belonging to the people who had settled among them.
A sight of a yet different character met the eyes of the travellers near the close of the second day, when they were drawing near their future abode in the province called Norfolk Plains, in the centre of which lay the Dairy Plains, where Ellen was expecting them. They had for some time quitted the broad road, and were following a track along which their waggon proceeded with tolerable convenience. At last they came to a point beyond which it had not been carried, and where a gang of labourers was at work roadmaking;—not as in England, each man intent upon his own heap of stones, flee in limb and thoughtful in countenance;—not as in Ireland, where some are lounging and all are joking; — but charged with the fetters of felons, and superintended by an armed taskmaster. As Frank looked upon these wretches, with their hardened or woful countenances, he felt indeed that he was not in England, but in one of her penal settlements,— breathing the air of one of the places where her vice and misery are deposited. His very soul became sick when, as the labourers turned to stare at the somewhat uncommon sight of a waggon full of travellers, he met the eyes of his convict brothers. He hoped that his companions would not perceive them; but he soon found that his father did, by his testy complaints of the jolting of the cart, of cold and heat, and what not. The unhappy mother looked on her outcast children with as much curiosity as compassion. Bob turned away, and stooped to his work. never looking up till they were out of sight; but Jerry waved his cap and shouted, and dared Frank to a wager which of them would first be free to work for themselves: whether it would take longest to work out his sentence, or to pay for Frank's passage and settlement. This supplied a new theme of complaint to Castle, who wrought himself up into a passion about his being a slave, with all his family. Frank, who hated bondage as much as any man, thought it could hardly be called slavery to contract to work for one person for a certain time, in return for advantages which could not otherwise be obtained. If disappointed of these advantages,—of sufficient food, clothing, shelter, and money wages,—the contract was void, and no harm done; if not disappointed, the object was gained. The evil lay, not in their case as labourers; but as honest men. Felons ought not to be let off so easily, (because their labour happened to be more valuable than at home,) as to make disgrace, for which many of them did not care, their only punishment; their worldly circumstances being actually bettered by their removal to a new colony. It was not that labourers need be better off than their family would probably be, four or five years hence; but that felons ought not to be placed in as good circumstances as the honest emigrant at the end of the same period.
Frank was not yet aware (as he afterwards became) that, for want of knowing the rate of wages at the colonies, emigrants often bind themselves for a much lower rate than they might obtain if they went free, or if they were properly informed of the existing state of things; and thus think themselves deceived, and are tempted to break their contract when they find how matters stand. This evil is to be referred to the ignorance of emigrant labourers, quite as much as to the close economy of the settlers, and should induce all who have heard of it to obtain such information before concluding their bargain as will save them from repentance afterwards, and guard them against quarrels on this score with their new masters;—quarrels, which, always a great evil, are most so in newly settled countries, where all hands and hearts are wanted to work together for the common good. As it is, a British artisan jumps at the after of a plentiful subsistence and 2s. a-day besides for five years, out of which the expenses of his removal are to be paid; and for this rate he binds himself. When he gets to his destination, he finds that this plentiful subsistence, including meat, bread, beer or spirits, tea, sugar, comfortable clothing, and a convenient dwelling, costs no more than 2s. a-day, and that, if free, he might earn, being a good workman, from 7s. to 12s. a-day, or even 15s., if he be a superior mechanic of a scarce class. It is mortifying to find that he has sold himself, however much higher than formerly, for less than he is worth in his new position; and hence arise discontents which embitter the first years of his new life, if they do not occasion a breach of contract. The friends of a rational plan of emigration should do their utmost to make known to as many as it may concern, to what extent labour is wanted in the colonies,— what is the rate of money wages in each, and what those money wages will procure. The official information on these points transmitted from Van Diemen's Land in 1827, was, that common labourers earn 3s. per day; common mechanics 7s.; better mechanics, from 8s. to 12s.; best ditto, from 12s. to 15s.; and persons of peculiar qualifications, fitted to superintend farms or other undertakings, 1l. a-day. Since that time, wages are understood to have risen. The price of wheat is 7s. a bushel; meat, 2d. or 3d. per lb.; sugar, from 3d. to 6d.; and tea, from 1s. 6d. to 4s. per 1b.—No wonder that, amidst all their gratitude at being well provided for, many such workmen as Frank are vexed and mortified to find how much more they might have made of their labour.
Far other feelings, however, than those of discontent were awakened in Frank by the aspect of his new abode. It was almost in a state of nature, his employer, Mr. Stapleton, having preceded him to take possession only a few days before: but it was far from being a desolate spot in the midst of a waste, as settlers' farms are wont to be in colonies where the unwise object is to disperse the inhabitants, instead of bringing them near to enjoy the advantages of a division of labour and reciprocity of consumption. The Dutch government at the Cape of Good Hope formerly forbade settlers to approach within three miles of each other; and thus effectually prevented the full improvement of the land, the construction of roads, and the opening of a market for exchanges. Hence the Dutch settlers at the Cape are to this day deprived of many advantages of civilized life. They have too much of whatever they grow, and too little of what they would fain buy; and are debarred the comforts of society and mutual help. These evils are likely to be avoided by the method of disposing of land now adopted by our government in Australia; the land being sold on terms which make it the interest of the settler to improve his tract, and to take advantage of a neighbourhood which may relieve him of some of his produce. Mr. Stapleton, having been obliged to choose his land carefully, and to pay 9s. an acre for it, (instead of 6d., or nothing at all, like some of the earlier inhabitants,) was not tempted to wander away into the wilderness, and sit down where he might happen to like the prospect, or to be smitten with some new discovery of fish-ponds, woods, and meadows, He made his choice instead among the lands of a certain district; and selected such, as to extent and quality, as would on the whole best suit his purposes, in conjunction with the privileges of a neighbourhood. His land, though not of the very first quality, was good enough to have fetched 15s. per acre, if it had lain somewhat more to the north or east, where the country was rapidly becoming better peopled; but it stretched towards the unoccupied districts at the foot of the western mountains, and was less valuable than if it had been surrounded by civilization, instead of only bordering upon it.—It consisted,—not of jungle and forest ground, where room must be made by the axe before seed could be sown and sunshine visit it; but of a lightly timbered and undulating surface of grass land, wanting only a single burning to render it fit for the plough, or for a new growth of pasture. The trees were not of the nature of copse and thicket; but growing in clumps a hundred feet apart, and with clear stems, measuring ninety feet or more to the lowest branch; thus affording spots for shade and shelter without interfering with tillage. The boundaries, where not formed by natural streams, were fixed by marking the trees; and there was no immediate need of fences where neither man nor beast was likely to trespass, and where there was at present no live stock that could be in danger of straying. No one was near who could be tempted to steal; for none were poor. The wild cattle, which in former days did great mischief on the grounds of the settler, had long ago been driven among the mountains, where it was supposed the race had died out, as none now appeared. The few oxen and horses that Stapleton brought with him were kept near the dwelling; and the rest of the stock was not to follow till all was in readiness for its reception. A rude shed had been hastily constructed for shelter, under a clump of trees; and a few sawn planks were lying about: by which Frank saw that the materials of his business were ready for him to begin upon without delay. Tools and utensils were stowed away in corners, or heaped under the trees, till their proper places were provided for them; and a goodly row of casks and packages of provision stood in the background. Frank had believed that his spirit of enterprise had died within him under the hardships of his own country; but he now felt it revive in a moment; and was anything but dismayed at the prospect of what he had to do in his capacity of carpenter, before the scene before him could put on the appearance of a snug and well-managed farmstead. He saw in fancy the day when a little hamlet of weather-boarded cottages would be sending up their blue smoke among those trees; when cattle-sheds and sheep-pens would stretch out behind the dwellings, and the busy forge and creaking timber-wain would drown the cry of the quail, and scare away the kangaroos that were now leaping over the plains. He did not forget to add a very superior workshop and timber-yard to his picture of his own dwelling; or to imagine his father looking down from among his flock on the hills, or Ellen within sight, going forth in the bright early morning with her milk-pail.
As if to answer to his thought, Ellen now appeared. She had stolen half an hour to run in search of Mr. Stapleton, to ask once more how soon he thought Frank might possibly arrive. Mr. Stapleton was almost as eager for the event as herself; but he knew no more, and was just dismissing her, disappointed, when the waggon was heard approaching. While she waited a moment, straining her sight to make out whether it was the right party, before she ran to meet them, her brother jumped out, and even Castle started up with more alacrity than he had shown since they landed. Before they could well greet one another, Stapleton came up to ask where Frank's tools were, and to tell him that he was wanted very much indeed. He could not refuse him permission to go forward one mile, in order to deposit Castle and his wife at their new abode; but he lent a hand towards emptying the waggon of his workman's packages, and gave him notice that he should be glad to see him back the first possible moment.
“You will soon find what great people such as we are here,” said Ellen, laughing. “This is the place to grow proud in. No more lounging about the fields, Frank; no more leaning over gates chewing straws, while nobody inquires for one. You will never need to touch your hat and ask for work here; people will come begging you to be so very kind as to put up a door for any pay you please. This is the place to grow proud in.”
Frank observed, with a grave smile, that pride was dangerous to one in Ellen's place.
“Well, then, I will be proud of you, and you shall be proud of me; and no harm can come of that.”
The first time that the brother and sister could obtain few minutes, conversation without being overheard, Frank inquired,
“Now, Ellen, tell me straight forward. How do you like your change?”
“Why, I more than half like it; but there are some things I do not like.—It is a fine thing to be so well off, and to know that I shall be so: hard, do not mind the work, though it is rather and I to be sure; and my cows are nothing but a credit to me, and I have seen no animals to be afraid of when I go out milking, though some of them leap about very strangely indeed; and my mistress makes much of me, as I told you; and her little worries are not much to be wondered at when one thinks of the confusion we live in just now; and I dare say there will be an end of them when we get our soap and candles made out of the house, and another hand or two to help in the brewing and washing. And then to think that father and you are so well off——”
“But tell me what there is that you do not like.”
Ellen almost shuddered when she whispered that her servant, who ate at the same table, and slept in the same room, and was her companion almost all day, was a convict, and had been sent to this country for robbing an aged mistress who had confided in her, and deserved gratitude instead of treachery from her. To be compelled to hold daily and hourly intercourse with such a person was a very great evil, and one which doubled Frank's anxiety about his sister. He was bled to hear that there was a probability of the woman marrying as soon as she could, obtain a remission of her servitude by steady conduct.
A half smile which he perceived on Ellen's lips when this part of the story was being told, made him question her further respecting the evils of her situation, or the trials which she might not be disposed to consider exactly as evils. The idea in her mind was that which he suspected,— that she might quit her service before her convict companion. — Frank looked graver than ever. Who—what—where was he,—the person that seemed to have made advances in Ellen's good graces already? She was eager to explain that there was no one in particular yet. It was too early for her to have looked about and settled her mind yet;—but there was this one, and that one, and the other one, that carried her pail for her, morning and evening, however busy he might be: or was ready to teach her how to clean and card wool; or showed her what a pretty little homestead he was about to have in the neighbourhood, and intimated how happy she might be as the mistress of it.
“They hinder my work sadly, and their own too,” continued she, blushing, “for all I tell them that i have nothing to say to any body yet. I am so afraid any of them should have been convicts, (though I am sure Harry Moore never was;) and I dare not ask mistress any thing about them.”
“Ask her, by all means,” said Frank. “Or I will ask your master, if you wish it. They only can tell us, and it is a point we must find out. Meantime, keep to your business as quietly as you can. What makes you so sure that Moore (is not that his name?) was never a convict?”
Ellen could give no better reason than that she could wager her life upon it. She thought her brother grown very pertinacious on a sudden, because this was not perfectly satisfactory to him; but Frank was not pertinacious — only wary and affectionate.
THE CASTLES AT HOME.
It was very well for a man of Castle's irritable temper to be made a shepherd, instead of a labourer at home, within sight and hearing of all the bustle and difficulty occasioned by much pressure of work and few hands to do it. He could not have borne to be, as his wife said, driven from pillar to post,—called off from one thing before he had done it, to do something else to which he was altogether unaccustomed. It suited him much better to be out upon the downs after the sheep; though even in that quiet place he had his troubles. The sheep-walk was too extensive to be under the management of one person; and Castle's brother-shepherd was not a very congenial companion. He was a gentleman convict;—a young man who had gamed away his little fortune, and then taken to swindling, for which he had been transported. Being unequal to hard work, and having no mechanical skill, he was sent out to tend sheep; an employment as little suitable as might be to his social dispositions and active habits. The two reluctant companions agreed only in their inclination to grumble.
“They call this a fine scene,” observed the young man, “but it does not suit my taste. I had rather see our sheep in the Smithfield pens than on these downs. Then one misses the London cries, however much the magpies chatter here. As for the cooing of the doves, It really depresses the spirits. People talk of the stars being so brilliant here,—like golden lamps; but I like real lamps better. A row of them in Pall Mall is worth a hemisphere of stars.”
“I don't know much about lamplight,” replied Castle, “having been too poor to burn candles at home, and so going to bed in the twilight; but this place is so lonesome, I sometimes wonder whether it is in the world or out of it. All this view is like an old deserted park, to be sure; but where is the squire's house, or the church steeple, and the children coming out of school? There is no public-house far or near; and no parson or his lady to speak a word to one: only a young man that comes to read prayers on Sundays in a shed or on the green, and away again to do the same thing somewhere else. Not such a thing have I seen since I came as a carriage with ladies in it; and they say there are no hunts. With all the game there is here, no scarlet jackets ever come in sight from the woods.”
“That is the worst of it,” responded the other grumbler. “We have all the dulness of a country life without its solace of amusement. It was really too tantalizing lately, to see a kangaroo hunt which I could not join. If they would let me take my turn, I might be of some use to them as an experienced huntsman. I should like to hunt opossums till I could get skins enough to make your pretty daughter a cloak worthy to be worn; and——”
Castle here moved off impatiently, having too much paternal pride to listen to convict wooing on Ellen's behalf: The young man followed him, continuing,
“The snipe-shooting is very choice, I'm told, in the marshes yonder. I must have leave when winter comes on, to go and try my luck. But the hunts are the best things,—more spirited perhaps than you are aware of.”
“Hunts! hunts!” cried Castle. “I see neither deer nor fox. An odd sort of hunting, if you mean killing any of these leaping things, with their queer ways. Why, the little ones don't run beside their dams, as is natural, but she pops them into her bag, and off she hops, as if she had only two legs. The first I saw, I thought she had happened an accident, and had her fore legs cut short; and I thought she got on wonderfully well considering; and then in a minute appeared a whole herd of them, with their young in their bags.”
“It is a pretty sight to see them come down from the woods at sunrise to feed in the plains. Then is the time to hide behind a thicket, and make sure of one's game. Which do you prefer, as a bottom dish, kangaroo or bandicoot? In a pie, properly seasoned, it is difficult to say which is the best. I have given many a hint down below that either is much more palatable to me than rations of salt meat.”
Castle, who thought no man need desire more in the way of diet than to eat meat every day, looked with contempt on the grimaces of his companion over his ample supply of beef, wheaten bread, and cider.
“If you want to hunt,” said Castle, “I wish you would kill off the vile beasts that have been making havoc among my lambs. I might have got at one, but I was downright scared with its ugliness.”
“Was it the hyena or the devil?”
“O, the devil, to judge by its looks. It is as big as a middle-sized dog, with the head of an otter, crowded with teeth. It moved very slow, but I could do no better than stare at it.”
“They call it the devil here,” replied the gentleman. “You should dig little pits, and set your dogs upon it when it has fallen in. It will go on worrying your lambs, unless you keep on the watch.”
“Another thing that puts me out,” observed Castle, “is that the beasts are one below another here, as if they were bewitched. In England, we have a horse of one size, and a dog of another, and a rat of another; and none of them is like the rest; but here we have a big kangaroo, and a kangaroo the size of a dog, and another no bigger than a rat and these last are no real kangaroos. I declare it makes my hair stand up to see a rat leaping like a real kangaroo: just as it would to see a mouse shaking its mane and trotting and cantering like a horse. I have not been used to such freaks, and this is a country I can't understand.”
“I hope to understand it better,” replied the convict. “I was always fond of roving, and in time I may have explored farther than we can see from these green hills that we both find so dull. What do you mean to do when you get free?”
“They may settle that that got me bound,” replied Castle, testily. Then, struck with a sense of his own ingratitude, he added, “To be sure, if there is no squire's house, there is no workhouse either; and if I see no acquaintance, there is nobody to taunt me with misfortune; but, on the contrary, they make much of me at home. And there's.——”
“What; my little Susan! Yes, they make a handy little thing of her already, and——”
“I mean the other handy one, Ellen.”
“She will do well enough, Sir, I assure you. She has a fine spirit and a steady mind of her own, and a proud brother to take care of her; and that is better than a broken-down father; though it should go hard with me but I would protect her, Sir, if there was no one to do it better.”
So saying, Castle walked off, showing by his manner that he was not sociably disposed.
His wife was much more altered within a short time by her change of circumstances than he. The first thing that seemed to affect her favourably was the use that was made of her little daughter in the household arrangements. When the farmer's wife found that her new domestic was indolent and indifferent, she endeavoured to make the best of a poor bargain by squeezing as much work as she could out of Susan. The child was willing enough, and proud to find herself of so much use; but her mother was jealous on her account, and began for the first time to show symptoms of tenderness for her. She not only argued in her defence, but helped her when she was more disposed to proceed with her work than to “go and play;” words which had little charm for a child whose associations with play were those of hunger, scolding, mockery, and all the miseries of pauper life. When the farm servants rose at daybreak to go forth for the day, Susan was always ready to jump up at the first word, to replenish the wallets and fill the cans, though her mother turned round in bed, and muttered that it was too soon to get up. She needed no reminding about tending the house-lamb, and feeding the poultry, and dusting as much of the coarse furniture as she could reach. After breakfast, if any one would lift her upon the dresser, or lay the utensils and the bowl of water on the floor, she would wash up without breaking anything: and she was always at hand to carry messages into field or farm-yard, or to help with dinner and supper, or to carry letters to the spot where they were to be deposited in readiness for the postman's weekly call; and when not able to do anything better, she could scare away the crows and cockatoos from the fields and garden. Her mother thought this a hard life for a little girl: but Susan was stout, rosy, and merry; and the farmer himself found a few minutes now and then to take her on his knee and teach her the alphabet, in preparation for the time when a schoolmaster could be brought within reach. The first thing Mrs. Castle did heartily was washing up, one day when Susan had nearly scalded her fingers. She took more and more of the child's work from her, and still Susan turned to something else; so that ere long, both were pretty fully employed; and in proportion as the once reckless and lazy pauper became interested in the occupations going on around her,—in proportion as she bestirred herself to get the baking done while the house was clear of the men, and the washing over in time to have a chat in the evening,—she grew like the active and tidy housewife she would never have become in her own land.
A circumstance which hastened this change was the opportunity she now bad of gratifying one taste,—almost the only taste she ever had, and which seemed to have died out under the hardships of her condition: a taste for gardening. When a girl, she had had a garden; and as long as her husband had owned an acre of ground, she took possession of a corner of it for her pinks and roses, under pretence of growing vegetables for the family. From that time to this, nobody had heard her mention fruit or flowers; but Ellen bore in mind her love for them now when the remembrance might be turned to some purpose. She mentioned, in her step-mother's presence, that her master was trying what he could do in the management of vines, for the growth of which the climate was peculiarly favourable; and that whether he got any wine or not, his trouble would be more than repaid by his profits from his other fruits. The peaches, to be sure, were not of the best sort, though so plentiful as to lie rotting on the ground, alter bushels had been thrown to the pigs; but the apricots, and yet more the raspberries, which grew to such a size and in such quantity as no English person would believe without seeing them, were likely to prove a good speculation, being sent to a distance in the form of jam. Sugar being remarkably cheap in this country, there was little risk in trying a batch of sweetmeats, which were to be sent to India for sale by a vessel from Launceston. The idea was caught up as Ellen expected it would be; and as the farmer and his wife did not take to the scheme of fruit-growing as heartily as was desired, the emigrant family tried whether they could not get a garden of their own. The small part of their wages which they were yet at liberty to use was applied to the purchase of a plot of ground, and Frank found time to work in it, and Ellen procured wherewith to stock it, and their step-mother haunted it early and late, before and after work,—and Castle himself relaxed his brow, and spoke in a tone that was not querulous, as he looked round upon that which, however small, was so much more than he had ever expected to possess again,—a family property.
“Look at father,” whispered Ellen to her brother. “I have not seen him and her arm-in-arm since I was no bigger than Susan.”
“He is like a prisoner that has been quite shut up coming for the first time into the gaol court,” said Frank. “The feel of the air makes him push his hat up from over his eyes. Only set him quite free, and he will uncover his brows, and lift up his head like a man.”
“And so he ought, “replied Ellen,” since it is for no fault of his own that he has been bound down to poverty.”
“Ah! poverty is a cold and dreary prison, Ellen. That puts me in mind,—have you seen, i wonder, any thing that has surprised you very much lately,—any thing that you would like to tell me if you were sure of not being overheard, or of not being thought fanciful?’
“The word ‘prison’ put me in mind of something that I have been wanting to talk to you about almost this month past.—I don't know how to believe my own eyes about it, but I am sure I have seen Jerry in our farm-yard at night, and lurking about among the sheds before most of our folks are stirring in the morning.”
“Aye; but was he all alone, Ellen?”
“Bob was never with him, that I could see; but he seemed to me to be waiting for somebody off our premises, and I thought it must naturally be me. So twice I ran out to catch him; but once I was crossed by two of our people that I don't choose to come in the way of; and the other time he was whispering with the same two, so that I dared not go near. How could he get liberty? and what could he be about?”
“Something very deep, I am afraid,” replied her brother. “As to the liberty,—it is no difficult matter for convicts who behave pretty regularly to get hours of liberty at the beginning and end of the day; and the lads being employed on roadmaking so near, accounts for our getting a glimpse of them sometimes. But what I am uneasy about is Jerry's having so much to say to the convicts at your place and mine;—for I have seen him at Stapleton's oftener than you have among your people. I am afraid of some plot—”
“O, mercy!” cried Ellen; “what sort of a plot?”
“That is more than I can say. Sometimes they plot, I hear, for nothing worse than to escape; but some have had to do with the natives, (who are little better than wild beasts), and have brought them down upon the farms, setting them to steal and even to murder; for which they pay the poor savage creatures by helping themselves with their wives.”
Ellen trembled while she asked whether any of the natives could be in the neighbourhood.— Her brother hoped not, as the government had declared that they were driven back among the mountains, where they must soon die out as their wild cattle had done: but as long as any convicts were disposed to bush-ranging,—and some did actually escape every year,—he could not, for his part, feel quite secure. He thought he should speak to Stapleton about it. Meanwhile, he desired Ellen to drop not a syllable that should alarm her father, or anybody else.
“I hope, sister,” he continued with some hesitation, “I hope Harry Moore has no acquaintance, more or less, with Jerry, or any other such people.”
Ellen's eyes flashed as they used to do when she was a passionate little girl at school.
“Harry!” she cried. “Harry Moore have any sneaking doings! Harry Moore keep bad company! You don't know Harry a bit better than tile very first day,—the day when you thought he might be a convict himself.”
“No need to be angry, Ellen. He might just know him enough, you see, to say ‘How d'ye do?’ when they meet, and to judge how often Jerry might fairly be here.”
“After all,” said Ellen, sighing, “it is my father's own son that I flew off about his being acquainted with; so there is no need for me to be so proud. No; Harry does not know either of the lads, even by sight; but I shall tell him what you have been saying, though nobody else, Frank.”
“Certainly. Conceal nothing that weighs upon your mind from Harry, any more than if he was your husband already. I look to him to help me to keep an eye upon Bob, who may be made something of, they say, little hope as there is for Jerry. Bob works, within bounds at spare hours, instead of roving into the bush, or prowling about the settlers farms, where he has no business. Bob must be saving money fast, unless he has unseen ways of spending it. He works hard, and is well paid for his extra labour. He may have the advantage of me, after all; and settle on a place of his own before me.”
“Because he got a free passage as a punishment. That is really very hard, Frank.”
“Harry Moore will be the first at liberty, however, Ellen; and that I am glad of on your account. I am soon to begin building you a house, at over hours; and you may depend on my doing my best to have it all complete by the time the six months are gone.”
“Six months!” cried Ellen.
“Why, I do not mean that you need wait till then. You may fairly marry as soon as you like;—and many in our own country would be glad to have that said to them. I only mentioned six months as the time when Harry would be all his own master. Then I shall hope to see you milking a cow of your own.——Meantime, till I have found out more about Jerry, be cautious how you get out of reach of those that will take care of you.”
Ellen sighed, and smiled, and wondered which was the strangest world,—the one she had left behind, or the new one which seemed, after several months, nearly as foreign as when she had entered it. She had no doubt which was the pleasantest. How could she, when a vague fear and thorough dislike of some of the people in the neighbourhood were the only set-off against the prosperity of all whom she loved, and her own bright prospects with such a husband as Harry Moore had promised to be?
LAW AND JUSTICE.
Though convicts were unhappily supplied at an increasing rate from the mother-country, the demand for free labourers throughout Van Diemen's Land became more urgent continually. The young men who settled either as wool-growers, farmers, or labourers, wanted wives. All above the lowest rank needed servants. The sheep were too many for the shepherds. There was too little produce in proportion to the land; and too few dwellings in proportion to the produce; too much or too little of almost everything, for want of a due proportion of labour. The same thing is the case at home; only here the proportions are exactly reversed. It will be very strange if in a short time we do not rectify the condition of each country by the exchange which would be equally beneficial to both.
Ireland and Van Diemen's Land are islands of about the same size. They are each favoured by nature in an unusual degree, having all the requisites of fertility, variety and beauty which can fit them to be the abodes of a thriving and happy population. The arable lands and pastures of both are excellent. The one has fisheries of salmon, herring and cod; the other of whales, and seals for export, and of a large variety of fish for home consumption. Both have fine natural harbours, ridges of protecting mountains, stores of mineral treasure, inland lakes, and fresh springs wherever man may incline to fix his abode. Both have, with all these advantages, their natural hardships and social troubles.
The natural hardships of each might be almost entirely removed by a well-conducted reciprocity of assistance. Ireland has a population of eight million; Van Diemen's Land of only twenty-five thousand. In Ireland, multitudes of half-starved wretches pine in idleness, and many die by the way-side, of that wasting of limb and heart and life which is the form in which poverty perpetrates murder. In Van Diemen's Land, the labourer is liable to be worn out by toil, and fretted by seeing half his produce rotting on the ground, or wastefully bestowed on swine; while articles which he has always considered almost articles necessary as food cannot by any means be procured. With him, abundance is not wealth, and plenty brings not the happiness for which he looked. If the wide sea did not lie between, he would beckon to a dozen Irishmen to come and nourish themselves with his superfluity, while he gathers about him the comforts which spring out of their industry, and solaces himself with a due portion of that repose, without a certain share of which the best ends of life cannot be attained. Why should not a bridge be built across this wide sea with the capital which is now unproductively expended on the maintenance of these paupers? Why should not the charity which cannot in Ireland give subsistence to one without taking it from another, be employed in a way which gives support to many, to tile benefit of many more? Whatever funds are judiciously employed on emigration are used as if to bring to a junction with the over-peopled country a rich region, into which a hungry multitude may be poured, to the relief of the old, and the great advantage of the new land. If the wealthy among the inhabitants of the old country would gladly if they could, call up such a new region, drest in fertility, from the surrounding sea, why do they delay effecting what is to their purpose the same thing? Since they cannot move the land to their poor, why do they not agree to devote what they now give in baneful charity to removing their poor to the new land? Till such a general agreement is arrived at, why do not individuals thus apply their charity, knowing that thus they not only relieve, for a time, but establish for life;-—that they not only assist the immediate objects of their bounty, but provide for their descendants of many generations? The rich should choose for their almoners the agents of emigration. Those who have little to give should unite their resources to send abroad a few of the young labourers of both sexes who are eager to go. Those who have no money to give, should bestow their services in spreading the knowledge of the facts how poorlaws aggravate, and emigration alleviates, if it does not remove, pauperism.
If this had been done long ago, the places whither we now transport our criminals might at present have been as remarkable for the good moral condition of their inhabitants as they actually are for the reverse. If it were now to be done effectually, it is yet possible that Botany Bay may in time outgrow the odium attached to its name, and become the chosen resort of the upright and industrious. Indigence causes crime; and by the prevention of indigence and its consequent crime, we may become better able than we now fancy ourselves to dispense with the institution of penal settlements;—whose results are as disgraceful to British wisdom as that of a legal pauper provision.
When Jerry and Bob were landed at Launceston, they were as unable as those who sent them were disinclined, to reflect on the difference between their being sent there, innocent, to provide an honest livelihood for themselves, and being deposited as a curse upon this new region,—both guilty and one hardened, proscribed by the old country and dreaded by the new, and prepared to baffle all the professed objects of their punishment. The guilt of these lads was distinctly referrible to indigence. Their parents could give them little wherewith to provide for their bodies, and nothing of that care and instruction which were peculiarly needful to them in their circumstances of temptation. Being thus made outcasts, they acted as outcasts; from which time it became a struggle between themselves and society which could inflict the most misery upon the other. They put society in fear, violated its rights, mocked its institutions, and helped to corrupt its yet innocent members. Society inflicted on them disgrace, bondage, and banishment; and from all this misery no good resulted, however much was proposed.
The judge who pronounced sentence on Jerry and Bob told them that it was necessary to the security of society that they should be prevented from inflicting any further injury by their evil deeds.—There are two ways by which such prevention may be accomplished; one by the death, the other by the reformation, of the offender. Death was too severe a punishment for the offence of these lads; the judge must therefore have contemplated their reformation, or have thought only of England when he spoke of society. Did the law gain its object?
“I say, Bob,” said Jerry one evening, when they had got the leave it is so easy to obtain to go out of bounds, and work for themselves overhours,— “I say, do you remember what that fellow in Newgate read us about that cursed gaol where the people are mewed up as close as if they were in a school, and closer?”
“What that where they are shut in by themselves all night, and hard worked all day, and nobody may speak but the parson, and he praying and preaching night and morning, till a fellow's spirit is downright broken? Remember it! aye; and glad enough I have been many a time that we are not there. I'd rather be banged twice over.”
“Hanged! Yes: there's not much in hanging. I have seen it several times, and thought to myself, ‘if that's all, I should not mind it.’ But we are the best off, after all. I was horribly afraid, when old wiggy began to whimper, that it was to be tile hulks, or a long prison, instead of going abroad; for one never knows what they mean when they say ‘transportation.’ You would not have looked so downcast as you did if you had known what was before you.”
“Not I. I never thought to be made of so much consequence. 'Tis good fun to see them quarrel which shall have us, and to get them to bid rum and brandy against each other to seduce us away. We that could not get dry bread at home,—how easy it is for us to fill our stomachs with the choice of the land, and get drunk with our masters at the end of the day,—our masters being luckily of our own sort!”
“Yours, that is, Bob; not mine. But I don't know but I like mine as well. He gives me plenty of spare hours, on condition of my bringing back what I earn. You should have seen what a fright he looked in when somebody said the folks were growing moral at home, and no more convicts were to be sent out.”
“He was as sorry as some honester folks would be glad, Jerry. But as for dividing your earnings with your master,—they are a queer sort of earnings, I have a notion.”
“Easily got enough. 'Tis only just prowling on the downs in a dark night to meet a stray sheep; or making a venture into the fold. Then, if one gets so far as into the bush, there are other ways that you know nothing of yet, Bob.”
“I never can make out how you get seal oil from the woods; being as we are thirty miles from the sea.”
Jerry laughed, and offered to introduce his brother one day to somebody in the bush he little dreamed of.
“Do you mean, Frank, poor fellow, or Ellen.? They would not go so far to meet you.”
“Do you think I would ask them? It will be time enough for me to notice Frank when I have a house of my own to ask him into. I shall be the master of such as he before his time is out.”
“You need not carry yourself so high, Jerry. You are in a worse bondage than he just now.”
“Curse them that put me into it, and let them see if I bear it long! However, hold your tongue about it now. There is the moon through the trees, and the free turf under our feet. What a pity there is nobody with a heavy purse likely to pass while we are resting in the shadow under this clump! 'tis such dull work when there is nothing better to be had than sheep and poultry, and so many of them that they are scarcely worth the taking!”
“I like roving for the sake of roving,” said Bob. “I have plenty of mutton without stealing it.”
“I like robbing for the sake of robbing,” replied his brother; “and the mutton is only the price of my frolic. But there is something I like better. Let us be off, and I will show you, (if you'll swear not to blab,) how you may get such sport as you little think for. Learn to handle a gun, and to cross a farm-yard like a cat, and to tap at a back-door like a mouse within a wainscot, and you may laugh at the judge and the law, and all the dogs they have set to worry us.”
“Why no, us.” thank'ee, replied Bob. “I am trying after a character, you know, so I shall stay where I am. I'll light my pipe; and I shall I've got rum enough to last till morning both for myself and somebody I rather expect to meet me.”
“Take care she be not too deep for you, Bob. If ever you want a wife with no more sense than a monkey, and not half as many tricks, ask me, and I will show you how to get one.”
So much for the reformation of the offender. The other kind of security on which the judge expatiated was that afforded by the criminal being made a warning.
A waggon load of new convict-labourers arrived at the Dairy Plains one day, when the accustomed gang was at work on the road which was not yet completed. The masters who happened to he present were too much taken up with observing the new-comers to pay any attention to the looks of their labourers. They did not see the winks, and the side-long smiles, they did not hear the snapping of fingers behind their backs; they had no suspicion that some in the waggon were old acquaintances of those on the road. On the first opportunity after the fresh men were left with the others, and only one or two overlookers near, there was a prodigious hand-shaking and congratulation, and questioning. “How did you get over?” “How did you manage to get sent here?” “How do you like transportation?” “You'll soon learn to know your own luck.” —This is a fine country, is it not?’ &c. &c.
“I was so cursedly dull after you all went away,” observed one of the new-comers, “there was nothing to stay for: but I very near got sent to Sidney.”
“Well; you could soon have got away, either home or here. But how do you find yourself off?”
“With a bed to myself and a blanket, and rare good living to what I had when I was an honest man. The thing I don't like is the work; but they say we are to have plenty of spirits.”
“To be sure; and as to the work,—-what do the poor wretches at home do but work as hard as you, and for less than you can get in spare hours. But where's Sam? Why did not he come too?”
“He got baulked, as he deserved for being a fool. What, did he do but send his sister to the justice to know how much he must steal to be transported, and no more? The justice set the parson at him; and between the two, they have cowed him, poor fellow, and he will never better his condition.”
“Perhaps he is afraid. Perhaps he believes what the judge said about our being a warning. And yet he tipped me the wink when that was said, and When some of the pretty ones in the gallery began to cry.”
“He knows better than you think. If you were as moped as a linnet in a cage, he would know nothing of it; because you are too far off for him to see what became of you, in that case; but, being as you are, a merry, rollicking set, he would like to be among you; and that sort of news travels last.”
Another of the party did not like his lot so well. He said nothing of the disgrace, though he felt it; but he complained of the toil, of the tyranny of the masters, of the spite and bickerings of his companions.
“If you don't like your company, change it,” replied one to whom he had opened his mind. “Such a good hand as you are at a burglary, I don't wonder that you had rather steal enough in one night to live upon for a month, than work as commoner hands do. You had better go back. Jerry will tell you how. Nothing is easier.”
“Well; but there is my little woman yonder, that they were so kind as to send over at the same time; how is she to get back? She can't turn sailor, and get her passage home in that way.”
“Trust her for making terms with some gull of a sailor,” replied the other, laughing. “It is only following an old trade for a particular reason; and you'll give her leave till you touch land again. But let me hear before you go; there are some acquaintance of mine in London that will be glad to know you; and you may chance to help one another; though; to be sure, you take a higher line.”
“Are you thinking of sending over the fee they raised for your defence?”
“I did intend it, as a point of honour; but they assure me they made a good bargain of it as it was. They could have paid the fee three times over out of the plate-chest they stole for it. So I don't know that I need trouble myself.”
“So while Counsellor H—was preaching about your being tried that people might be safe, there was another robbery going on to pay him his fees. That's rare! You should go back, (since the way is so easy,) and pick Counsellor II—'s pocket. That will mend the joke.”
So much for the security to society from the exhibition of this kind of warning.
Ellen's wedding day drew near. Frank and Harry Moore had toiled together at spare hours to erect and fit up a convenient dwelling; and there was no fear whatever but that she and her husband would be amply supplied with all the necessaries and many of the comforts of life. Her father began to smile upon her, though he muttered complaints of there being so many changes always going on that none of them ever knew when they were settled. Her step-mother, though still hinting that the girl knew what she was about when she was in such a hurry to come away from a poor parish, seemed very well satisfied to have matters so arranged, and rather proud than otherwise of belonging to Ellen. The farmer and his wife whom Ellen served sighed when they found she was going to leave them, and observed that it was always the way, as soon as they got suited with a dairy maid; but as she agreed to go on taking care of their cows till they could obtain another damsel in her place from Hobart Town, they treated her very graciously. The only serious drawback to her comfort was that Harry's fellow-labourers would go on courting her, though they knew she was engaged, and that this caused Harry to be more jealous than she felt there was any occasion for, or than she could easily excuse. She had no other fault to find with Harry; but she was more than once on the point of breaking off the match on this account, and if it had not been for Frank's interposition, and his assurances that such feelings were very natural in Harry, she would have thrown away her own happiness for want of being sufficiently aware of the danger of such a position as hers to a girl of less principle than herself.—A circumstance happened, a few days before her marriage, which everybody else thought very disastrous; but which she could not think so, since it established a perfect understanding between Harry and herself.
On the morning of the 21st of December,—the height of summer in Van Diemen's Land,—Frank appeared, breathless, in the farm-yard whither Ellen was just going to milk her cows; Castle at the same moment was seen at some distance, hastening from the downs where he ought to have been tending his sheep at this hour; Harry Moore next leaped the gate and wiped his brows, seeming too much agitated to speak; the farmer pulled his hat over his eyes, in anticipation of the news that was coming, and the women crowded together in terror.—Ellen was the first to ask what was the matter.
“Have your men decamped, farmer?” inquired Frank.
“Yes, almost to a man. Have Stapleton's?”
“Two out of four; and every settler in the neighbourhood misses more or less this morning.”
“Now the devil and his imps will be on us in the shape of a gang of bush rangers,” muttered the farmer.
“Not on us, farmer. They will more likely go to some distant part where their faces are strange.”
“If they do, they will send strange faces here, which comes to the same thing; for one bushranger's face is as devilish as another. One of us must be off in search of a guard, and our shepherds, and indeed all of us, must carry arms.”
Ellen turned pale at the mention of arms. Harry drew to her side, and told her in a tone of forced calmness that three of her lovers were gone.
“Gone!” cried Ellen joyfully. “Gone for good?”
“Gone for ever as lovers of yours.”
“Thank God!” said she. “Better watch night and day with arms in our hands than have your head full of fancies, Harry. You will never believe again that I can like such people: and you shall teach me to fire a gun, so as to defend the house while you are away; and I shall not be afraid of anything when you are at home.”
Harry was so alert and happy from this moment that one would have thought there had been a certainty that no bush-rangers would ever come again, instead of a threatening that those who had till now been servants would soon reappear as enemies.
Whatever arms could be found up were put into the hands of the shepherds, as they were most in danger from violence for the sake of their flocks. They were desired to keep in sight of one another so far as that each should be able to make a certain signal agreed on, in case of his having reason to suppose that there were enemies at hand. Frank departed immediately for Launceston, for powder and ball, and a further supply of labourers to fill the places of those who had eloped. Another messenger was sent to the seat of government to give information of what had happened. During the absence of her brother, Ellen heard enough of the evils inflicted by runaway convicts to alarm a stouter heart than any young girl devotedly attached to her lover ever had; and to add to her uneasiness, her father once more became gloomy, and poor little Susan clung to her side wherever she went. Harry left his work twenty times a day to tell her that all was quiet, and bid her not be alarmed. During the day, she followed his advice pretty well; but in the evenings, so many tales of horror went round that, though she did not believe the half of them, her confidence was shaken; and she went to bed shuddering to think of what might have happened before morning.
The bush-rangers seemed to be less dreaded by the settlers than the natives. The bushrangers came down in a troop, carried off what they wanted, occasionally shooting a man or two during the process, and then went completely away. The warfare of the natives was much more horrible,—their movements being stealthy, their revenge insatiable, their cruelty revolting. They would hover about for days or weeks before committing an outrage, planning the most wicked way of proceeding, and seizing the most defenceless moment for pouncing on their victims. Castle asked aloud, what Ellen inquired in her heart, why all this was not told them before they came, and what there was in wealth which could compensate for such alarms as they were now suffering under? Frank satisfied her, in some degree, when he returned on the 24th, —the day before her wedding. He told her that though the first settlers had suffered dreadfully from the murders and plunder of the hostile natives and runaway convicts, this was not a sufficient reason to deter other settlers from following, since, owing to the vigorous measures of the Australian government, such outrages had been repressed and nearly put an end to. He pointed out to her that the horrible tales she had been told related to former times, and assured her that, except in some districts near the wilder parts of the island, the face of a savage had not been seen for years.—Ellen pointed to the mountain wastes on which their settlement bordered, and Frank acknowledged that the Dairy Plains lay as open to an attack as most newlysettled districts; but he had been assured at Launceston that there was no need to terrify themselves with apprehensions as long as they were armed and properly careful in their movements; since the sound of a musket would disperse a whole troop of savages, and they attacked no place that was not left absolutely defenceless. He had distinctly ascertained what he had before conjectured,—that it was not the practice of runaway convicts to plunder settlements where their faces were known, and that the only danger therefore arose from the probability that they might injure the savages, who might come down to wreak their revenge upon the innocent settlers.
“If this is all,” sighed Ellen, “there is nothing—”
“To prevent your being married to-morrow, Ellen. So I have been telling Harry.”
“There Was no occasion, thank you. I never meant to put it off. The more danger, the more reason for our being together. Besides, it will help to take father's mind off from his discontent. He has been wishing himself back in Kent every hour since you went.”
“Indeed! Well now, I think that such an occasional fright as this is little to the hardship of living as we did at A—, to say nothing of the certainty of there soon being an end to it. The only two evils our settlers suffer from will grow less every year the scarcity of labour, and danger of theft. To make up for these, we have the finest climate in the world, abundance of all that we at present want, and the prospect of seeing our children, and their children again, well provided for.—But you must be in a hurry now, dear, considering what has to be, lone to-morrow. So go, and cheer up, and trouble your head no more about black or white thieves.”
Ellen had, however, little more than usual to do this day, as hers was not the kind of wedding to require preparation. The travelling chaplain who was to come and perform the Christmas service, was to marry the young people, and thus only was the day to be marked as different from any other. The settlers, no doubt, thought much of their friends in England, and of the festivities which are there enjoyed by all but those whose poverty deprives them of the means: but the seasons are so entirely reversed in Van Diemen's Land,—it is so impossible amidst the brilliant verdure, the heat and long days of the Christmas season there, to adopt the festivities carried on at home beside the hearth and over the punch-bowl, that Christmas-day was allowed to pass quietly, and the grand holidays of the year were wisely made on the anniversaries of their settlement in their present abodes,—of their entrance on a life of prosperity.
No fairer morning ever dawned than that on which Ellen arose very early, and stole out to find that refreshment in the open air which she was not disposed to seek in more sleep. She had rested well for a few hours, but the first rays of the sun finding their way into her chamber, (which was more like a clean loft than an English bedroom), roused her to thoughts that prevented her sleeping again. It was too soon to be looking after her cows; so she took her knitting, and sat on the bench outside the house, whence she could look over a vast tract of country, and where she was pretty sure of an hour's quiet. She had some thoughts to spare for her old Kentish neighbours; and began to fancy how her grandmother would be getting up three hours after, when it would be scarcely dawning, to make the room tidy, and light the fire to boil the kettle; and how the old couple would put on their best,; and draw over the hearth with their Christmas breakfast. Then she thought of the many boys and girls she knew who would be going to church, with red noses, and shivering in their scanty clothing. Then she sighed when she remembered that she might never more hear psalms sung in a church; and again she smiled while fancying Mr. Fellowes's great dinner to half the parish,—a dinner of roast beef and ale and plum puddings, and Mr. Jackson there to say grace, and the clerk to sing a Christmas carol, and every old man giving a toast by turns, and some one perhaps to propose the healths of their friends far away. She blushed, all alone as she was, when she wondered what they would say if they knew she was to be married so soon, especially if they could see Harry. It was strange, while her mind was thus full of pictures of a frosty day, of a smoking table, of a roaring fire, lamps, and a steaming punch-bowl, to took up and observe what Was before her eyes. The scene was not even like a midsummer morning in Kent. It was not dotted with villages: there were no hop-grounds, and all the apples grown within five miles would hardly have made an orchard. There were no spires among the trees; nor did the morning mists rise from the dells or hover over the meadows. All was clear and dry and verdant under the deep blue sky. No haze hung over the running streams that found their way among the grassy hillocks. Neither oak nor beech grew on the hill side, nor pines on the ridges of the mountains behind; but trees to whose strange foliage her eye was yet unaccustomed reared their lofty stems where it did not appear that the hand of man was likely to have planted them; and myrtles and geraniums grew up roof-high, like the finest monthly roses in England. Instead of the little white butterflies flitting over the daisied turf, there were splendid ones alighting here and there in the neighbouring garden, larger and gayer than the finest of the flowers they fed upon. Instead of the lark rising from her dewy nest into the pink morning cloud, there were green and crimson parrots glancing among the lofty evergreens. Instead of flickering swarms of midges, flies shone like emeralds in the sun. Instead of a field-mouse venturing out of its hole, or frogs leaping across the path, speckled and gilded snakes (of which Ellen had learned not to be afraid) wriggled out into the sunshine, and finding that the world was not all asleep, made haste to hide themselves again.
“If I could fancy any part of this to be England,” thought Ellen, “it would be yonder spot behind the range of woodland, where the smoke is rising. If that were but grandfather's cottage, how I would run and bring them here before any body else was up. They will be so sorry not to have seen me married, and not to know Harry! But I cannot make out that smoke. I did not know that anybody lived there, and it looks more than enough to come from a single chimney. Perhaps the man that found the brick clay, and talked of having a kiln, may have settled there. I will ask Harry. I wonder what o'clock it is now! He said he should finish his morning's work first, that he might stay when he did come. How odd it seems that there are so few people to do things here, that a man can scarcely be spared from his work on his wedding day! They must be all over-sleeping themselves, I think. I'll just get the milk-pails, and that may wake them; and if the cows are milked a little earlier than usual it will not signify. I only get fidgetty, sitting here, and fancying noises; from missing the singing-birds, I dare say, that are busy among the boughs on such a morning as this in England. It was an odd squeak and whistle that I heard just now; perhaps a quail or a parroquet, or some other bird that I dont know the note of yet. Or it might be one of those noisy black swans on the lake yonder. I will not stay any longer to be startled. That was only a butterfly that flew dazzling before my eyes; and these flies do not sting, so I need not mind their buzzing. There! I had rather hear that lowing that. I have been used to from a child than any music in the. world. I should be sorry indeed to give up these cows, for all I am going to have one of my own.”
Ellen purposely made some noise in getting her pails, that she might wake somebody and find out how time went. She could not account for the sun being so low in the sky till she heard the farmer growl that he wished people would be quiet till it was time to get up; which it would not be for two hours yet.
After pausing before the door to watch the distant smoke, which had much increased, Ellen repaired to the cow-yard, immediately behind the dwelling. She stumbled on something in the litter which she mistook for a little black pig, till its cry made her think it was something much less agreeable to meet with. Stooping down, she saw that it was certainly a black baby; ugly and lean and dirty; but certainly a baby. She did not scream; she had the presence of mind not to touch the little thing, remembering that, for aught she knew, the parents might be lurking among the sheds, and ready to spring upon her if she should attempt to carry away the infant, which had probably been dropped in the hurry of getting out of her way. Trembling and dreading to look behind her, she stepped back into the house, and now roused the farmer in good earnest. In a few minutes, the whole household was ill the cow-yard; the men not choosing to separate, and the women being afraid to leave their protectors. The child was still there, and nothing was discovered in the general search of the premises which now took place. When the farmer saw the smoke at a distance, he ascribed it at once to a party of natives having set the grass on fire in cooking their kangaroo repast. He thought it probable that two or three spies might be at hand, and the rest of the party ready for a summons to fall on the farm as soon as it should, by any accident, be left undefended. He would not have the child brought into the house, but fed it himself with milk, and laid it on some straw near where it was found, in a conspicuous situation. Beside it he placed some brandy, and a portion of food for the parents, if they should choose to come for it.
“There is no knowing,” said he, “but they may be looking on; and one may as well give them the chance of feeling kindly, and making peace with us.” And he silenced one of his men who began to expatiate on the impossibility of obtaining any but a false peace with these treacherous savages.
Nothing could satisfy Harry but standing over his betrothed with a musket while she was milking. As for her, every rustle among the leaves, every movement of the cow before her, made her inwardly start; though she managed admirably to keep her terrors to herself.
The arrival of the chaplain happened fortunately for collecting the neighbouring settlers; and, by the farmer's desire, nothing was said of what had happened till the services he came to perform were ended. Harry and Ellen were married, amidst some grave looks from the family of which they had till now made a part, and the smiles of all the guests. Ellen's disappointed lovers,—the only people who could possibly disapprove of the ceremony, —were absent; and she tried not to think about what they might be doing or planning.
The barking of the dogs next drew the party to the door, and they saw what was a strange sight to many of the new-comers. A flock of emus, or native ostriches, was speeding over the plain, almost within shot.
“What are they?” inquired one.
“'Tis many a month since we have seen an emu,” observed another. “I thought we had frightened away all that were left in these parts.”
“What are you all about,” cried a third. “Out with the dogs and after them! Make chase before it is too late!”
“A decoy! a decoy!” exclaimed the farmer. “Now I am certain that mine is a marked place. These savages have driven down the emus before them, to tempt us men out to hunt, and they are crouching near to fall on while we are away.”
He was as bold, however, as he was discerning. He left three or four men to guard the women and stock at home, and set off, as if on a sudden impulse, to hunt emus with the rest of his company, determining to describe a circuit of some miles, (including the spot whence the smoke arose) and to leave no lurking place unsearched. Frank went with him. Castle insisted on following his usual occupation on the downs, declaring himself safe enough, with companions within call, and on an open place where no one could come within half a mile without being seen. This was protection enough against an enemy who carried no other weapons than hatchets and pointed sticks, hardly worthy of the name of spears.—Harry remained, of course, with his bride.
The day wore away tediously while the homeguard now patrolled the premises, now indolently began to work at any little thing that might happen to want doing in the farm-yard, and then came to sit on the bench before the door, complaining of the heat. The women, meanwhile, peeped from the door, or came out to chat, or listened for the cry of the dogs, that they might learn in which direction the hunting party was turning.
“Ellen,” said her husband, “I do wonder you can look so busy on our wedding day.”
“O, I am not really busy! It is only to drive away thought when you are out of sight.”
“Well then, come with me across the road,—just to our own cottage, and see how pretty it was made for us to have dined in to-day, if all this had not happened. Frank was there after you left it last night; and there is more in it than you expect to see.—Now, don't look so afraid. It is no further than yonder saw-pit; and I tell you there is not a hole that a snake can creep into that we have not searched within this hour. —I do not believe there is a savage within twenty miles.—O, the baby!—Aye. I suppose it dropped from the clouds, or one of the dogs may have picked it up in the bush. 'Tis not for myself that I care for all this disturbance: 'Tis because they have spoiled your wedding day so that you will never bear to look back to it.”
Ellen wished they were but rid of their black foes for this time, and then she should care little what her wedding day had been. They said that one sight of a savage in a life-time was as much as most settlers had.—She must step in passing to see what ailed the poor infant, which was squalling in much the same style as if it had had a white skin;—a squall against which Ellen could not shut her heart any more than her ears.
“I must take it and quiet it,” said she. “I can put it down again as we come back in ten minutes.”
So lulling and rocking the little woolly-headed savage in her arms, she proceeded to her own cottage, to admire whatever had been suggested by her husband, and added by her neat-handed brother.
“What bird makes that odd noise?” inquired Ellen presently. “A magpie, or a parrot, or what? I heard it early this morning, and never before. A squeak and this a sort of and Whistle Hark!”
“Tis no bird,” said Harry in a hoarse whisper. Shut and bird, “bar the door after me!”
And he darted out of the cottage. Instead of shutting the door, Ellen flew to the window to watch what became of Harry. He was shouting and in full pursuit of something which leaped like a kangaroo through the high grass. He fired, and, as she judged by his cry of triumph, reached his mark. A rustle outside the door at this moment caught her excited ear; and on turning, she saw, distinct in the sunshine on the door-sill, the shadow of a human figure, as of some one lying in wait outside. Faint with the pang of terror, she sunk down on a chair in the middle of fire room, with the baby still in her arms, and gazed at the open doorway with eyes that might seem starting from their sockets. Immediately the black form she dreaded to see began to appear. A crouching, grovelling savage, lean and coarse as an ape, showing his teeth among his painted beard, and fixing his snakelike eyes upon hers, beard, came creeping on his knees and one hand, the other holding a glittering hatchet. Ellen made neither movement nor sound. If it had been a wild beast, she might have snatched up a loaded musket which was behind her, and have attempted to defend herself; but this was a man,—among all his deformities, still a man; and she was kept motionless by a more enervating horror than she would once have believed any human being could inspire her with. It was well she left the weapon alone. It was better handled by another. Harry, returning with the musket he had just discharged, caught a full view of the creature grovelling at his door, and had the misery of feeling himself utterly unable to defend his wife, In a moment, he bethought himself af the back window, and of the loaded musket standing beside it. It proved to be within reach; but his wife was sitting almost in a straight line between him and the savage. No matter! he must fire, for her last moment was come if he did not. In a fit of desperation he took aim as the creature was preparing for a spring. The ball whistled past Ellen's ear, and lodged in the head of the foe.
They were indeed safe, though it was long before they could believe themselves so, or Ellen could take courage to cross to the farm to tell what had happened. As there were no more traces of lurkers in the neighbourhood, it was supposed that the one shot in the grass was the mother, the one in the door-way, the father of the infant which no one now knew what to do with. It might be dangerous to keep it, whether it flourished or died under the care of the settlers; and there seemed to be no place where it could be deposited with the hope of ira being found by its own tribe. When Frank and his companions returned from the hunt, they threw light on this and other curious matters, and brought comfortable tidings to the inmates of the farm. The Castles, indeed, and they alone, found as much matter of concern as of comfort in what Frank had to tell.
In following the emu hunt, the farmer and his party had skirted a tract of woodland, called the bush, within which they perceived traces of persons having lately passed. On searching further, they came upon a scene rather different from what they had expected, and not the most agreeable in the world, though it fully accounted for the visit of the natives.—Under a large mimosa, which waved its long branches of yellow flowers over tile turf, and made a flickering shade, lay Jerry, enjoying the perfection of convict luxury; that is, smoking his pipe, drinking rum, and doing what he pleased, with a black wife, who, having skinned the kangaroo and lighted the fire, squatted down on the turf, waiting for further orders. If it had not been for the child she carried in a hood of hide on her shoulders, she would, have been taken for a tame monkey, so little was there human in her appearance and gestures; but the tiny face that peeped over her shoulder had that in it which bespoke humanity, however soon the dawning rationality might be destined to be extinguished.—On seeing the hunting-party, Jerry sprang to his feet, seized his arms, and whistled shrill and long; whereupon so many hootings and whistlings were heard through the wood, so many ferocious faces appeared from among the brakes on every hand that it became prudent to explain that no war was intended by the hunting-party. Frank and Jerry were the spokesmen; and the result of their conference was the communication of news of much importance to both parties. Jerry learned that the settlements below were so well guarded and reinforced that any attempt at plunder must fail; and he assured Frank that he was about to depart at once with his band to one of the islands in Bass's Strait, to live among, or reign over the natives, as many a convict had done before him. He owned that his black wife was stolen, and that her husband having been knocked on the head in the scuffle, tile rest of the savage party had gone down to wreak their revenge on the first whites they could meet with. He was really sorry, he declared, to hear how Ellen's wedding-day had been disturbed; and solemnly promised to draw off the foe to a distant quarter, and watch that riley did not again molest the Dairy Plains. Frank could trust to these promises, as poor Jerry, amidst all his iniquities, retained a rude sense of honour, and a lingering attachment to his family,—especially a pride in his sister Ellen.—Frank learned with great satisfaction that Bob's disappearance from the neighbourhood was not owing to his having run away. He had refused to do so, his ambition being to become a great man in the settlement, provided he could accomplish his object without too much trouble and self-denial. He had made a merit of remaining at his work when his comrades eloped, and had, in consequence, got promoted to a better kind of employment, by which he had it in his power to make a good deal of money.
“And now, Ellen,” said Frank, on concluding the story of his morning's adventures, “I must go and bring you the wedding present poor Jerry left behind for you.” And he explained that a sun-dial was hidden in a secure place, whence it should be brought and put up immediately.
“Is it stolen, do you think?” inquired Ellen timidly. “Indeed, I had rather not have it.”
“It is not stolen. A watch-maker, a clever man enough, came over in the same ship with the lads, and Jerry paid him for making this dial for you, knowing you had no watch. He could easily have sent you money, he said, but thought you would like this better, since there is little that can be bought in these parts that you have not without money.”
“I don't know how it is,” observed Ellen; “but though it is very shocking that Jerry has got among these people, and into such a brutal way of life, I feel less afraid of them now that he is there. If it were not for this, I should feel that such a fright as we have had will set against a great deal of the good we have fallen in with here.”
“It always happens, Ellen, all through life, and all over the world, that, there is something to set against other things; and never more so than when people leave their own country. If a man quits England through intolerable poverty, he must not expect to find everything to his mind, and abundance besides. If he goes to Canada, he may gain what he emigrates for,—food for himself and property to leave to his children; but he must put up with tremendous toil and hardship till he can bring his land into order, and with long, dreary winters, such as he had no notion of before. If he goes to the Cape, he finds a better climate and less toil; but from the manner of letting land there, he is out of the way of society and neighbourhood, and cannot save so as to make his children richer than himself. If he comes here, he finds the finest climate in the world, and an easy way of settling; but then there is the plague of having convicts always about him, and the occasional peril of being robbed;—and in some few of the wilder parts of the island, of an individual here and there being murdered. But this last danger is growing less every year, and cannot exist long.—Now, since there is evil everywhere, the question is what is the least? I, for one, think them all less than living in England in hopeless poverty, or even than getting a toilsome subsistence there with the sight of hopeless poverty ever before one's eyes, and the groans or vicious mirth of pauperism echoing through the alleys of all the cities of England. I, for one, feel it well worth anything troublesome we have met with, or can meet with here, to plant my foot on this hill, and look down upon yonder farmsteads, and over all these plains and hills and dales, with smoke rising here and there, and say to myself ‘There is not so much as one pauper within a hundred miles.’”
When, after a few days, the black baby had, by Jerry's means, been restored to his tribe, when the country was known to be clear of such unwelcome intruders, and Harry and Ellen were therefore at liberty to settle down at length in their own house, the bride was quite of her brother's opinion respecting the goodliness of the exchange from pauperism in Kent to plenty in Van Diemen's Land.
THE MORE THE BETTER CHEER.
Frank kept his promise of writing to his friend Mr. Jackson, from time to time, as he had opportunity. One of his letters, written four years after his arrival in the Dairy Plains, contained the most important news he had yet had occasion to send of the state of himself and his family.
“I have often thought and called myself bold in what I have said to you in my letters, but you have always taken it kindly. This kindness makes me more bold than ever, especially as to two things that I am going to write about, when I have a little explained our present condition.
“My employer and I are about to part; which you will be surprised to hear, as there is a full year remaining of the time I bound myself to serve. It is through no quarrel, however; Mr. Stapleton having been a good master to me, unless for wanting more work out of me than mortal arm could do; for which, however, he was always willing to pay me well. The fact is, sir, he is a daring and a bustling man, such as they say are always to be found in new countries, wanting, as soon as they have got all pretty comfortable about them, to go further into the wilds and begin again. I see the good of there being such men, but do not wish to be one; so, when Stapleton offered me any wages I liked to go with him, I said ‘No,’ having only engaged to serve him on this spot; and thus I find myself at liberty a year sooner than I expected. He offered me an introduction that would get me good terms from the gentleman that has taken his pretty place; but not knowing yet what sort of person he is, and there being, thank God! far more work in my way to be done at any price than I can get through, I wish to keep myself free. To finish about myself first,—I am building a sort of double house, in the middle of a very pretty piece of land. One end of the house is for myself, and the other for my father, against his time is up. It would do your heart good, sir, to see how he has everything comfortable about him, though he goes on complaining, to be sure, that this is not the old country. My step-mother too has succeeded finely with her fruit this year, and there is as good cider of hers in every cottage as any in Worcestershire, and such flowers as she grows make the place look like a paradise.
“Allow me now, sir, to go on as if we were talking as we have often done over the churchyard gate, or by your door; and not as if this letter had to travel over the wide sea before it reaches you. I should like to know whether it has ever happened to you to fancy gentlemen like yourself coming over to this place? I am sure, if such would think of it, it would be the best thing for the society here, and might prove so to themselves, in cases where they are not very well off, and have little to leave that they care for. You make no secret, sir, of its being difficult for your family to live on such a curacy as yours, and you have even talked of settling your sons abroad as they grow up. If you would send them,—or (what is better) bring them here,—they shall be made welcome, and watched over and taken care of as they ought to be by those who owe so much to their father. Indeed, sir, this might prove a pleasant settlement in a very few years to you and yours. There are now eleven farms and other dwellings within three miles, and more building every year; and Launceston is within reach. The people about us are mostly very intelligent, and it is a good sign that they are crying out continually for a settled clergyman and a school; and, if we cannot get so much, for a library. You would find a good house, with a stable, and a horse in it; a garden, and two or three fields; a school-room with five-and-twenty scholars, whose parents would pay you well both for your teaching and your Sunday services. We should ask you too, to choose a little library at our expense, and should add to it, under your direction, every year; so that your children as well as those of the settlers should have every advantage. You will find further particulars of what we can offer you in the public letter which accompanies this.
“My fear is, that the consideration of the young ladies will deter you, should yon otherwise be disposed to listen to our plan; and, indeed, England seems at first sight the best place for daughters that have lost their mother. But I have great hopes that these plains may be like an English county before your young ladies have grown up. When once gentlemen, especially clergymen, begin to come, more follow; and this is all we want to make the Dairy Plains' like parts of Sussex or Dorsetshire. We have specimens of each class, up to the thriving farmer and wool-grower. There is also a surveyor, and a surgeon is coming, they say; though he is the last person wanted, except for an accident now and then, for we really have no sickness. If, in addition to these, we could have over a tanner or two, a coal-master, a vine-grower, a store-keeper, and so on, each with his proper labourers, ours would be as flourishing a settlement as any in the world. There is coal in plenty, and a fine market in every direction, if we had but people to work it; and the same may be said of slate, and bark, and hides. Some Portuguese vinedressers are making a fine thing of a vineyard in the south of the island; and why not here, instead of our having to import spirits in such quantities as make drunkards of too many of our labourers? The commoner sorts of wine we might make would soon drive out spirits, to our great benefit in every way. As for clothing, utensils, and other things that are brought to great perfection and cheapness in England, we had better go on buying there; and I have no doubt they will be as glad of our productions as we of heir manufactures. You will be pleased to hear that there are already twenty-six vessels belonging to the island, and that upwards of thirty traded with us from Great Britain last year; and that l,000,000 lbs. of wool were sent there within the twelve months. All these things I mention to show what a rising country this is, and how well worth tide while of many a man above the rank of labourers and artizans to come to. If you should think of doing so, sir, would be the best piece of news that could reach the Dairy Plains from any part of the world. You should have the heartiest welcome from some whom you are pleased to call old friends.
“Perhaps, sir, you may remember saying something to me about the difficulty of getting a wife here. I have never tried, because there was one in England, as you know, that I always hoped might keep herself single till we should hoped that she should follow me out. Through all these long four years we have had this in view, and now I shall have a house ready for her by the time she can come; and this is the other liberty I told you I was about to take. If you shoul'd really come, perhaps, knowing her steadiness so well, you would let her cross with you, waiting on the young ladies during the voyage, for the expense of which I will be answerable. Whether you join us or not, I have little doubt you will kindly put her in the way of coming with the least possible delay; and you may depend on my meeting her before she lands.
“I have said nothing of Ellen, because you will see her letter to grandfather. I have left it to her to send money this time, as I have other use, you see, for my own.
“It is a load off my mind, sir, to have written what has been deep down in it for so long. It is a great while to wait for an answer; and if there should be disappointment both ways, I hardly know how I shall bear it. But I am pretty sure of what is to me the chief thing; and if you come too, I wonder what we can manage to find to wish for next. It pleased God to give Ellen and me our hardships early, and to take us out of them before our hearts and tempers were hurt; like so many at home, better perhaps than ourselves. If He should try us any more, we have good reason now to be patient; and in the meanwhile, we desire to save others from what we had to go through for a short time, and therefore write as we do about coming over.
“P.S. There are fine downs here for the young gentlemen to fly their kites, just behind the house you would have. Ellen will take care that Miss Maria shall have a pretty poultry-yard; and Susan is taming an opossum mouse for the other little lady.”
The many months which necessarily elapsed before an answer to the above could be received did indeed seem long; almost as much so to Frank's family as to himself. Ellen had made a request scarcely less important than Frank's to the happiness of her parents, if not to her own. She had always been convinced that the child which had been sent to the workhouse by the parish surgeon of A——was her stepmother's; and it had ever been her resolution to yield a sister's protection to it. Harry Moore was as willing as herself to have the child over; and as the boy was now only five years old, there was hope that he might prove an exception to the general rule of the corruption of parish-bred children. Frank's betrothed was requested to bring him out with her; and if Mrs. Castle was still disinclined to own him, he was to take his place as the eldest of Harry Moore's children. There was not a man, woman, or child in the neighbourhood that did not see the importance of having a clergyman's family come among them; and by all, therefore, Mr. Jackson's reply was looked for as the oracle which was to decide whether their settlement might immediately rise to that degree of prosperity which is caused by the union of high civilization with universal plenty, or whether it must remain for some time longer in the rude state which is ever the consequence of a scarcity of knowledge and of leisure. The parents began already to teach their children the alphabet and the multiplication table, during the evenings of the week, and as many hymns as they could recollect on Sundays. The little ones already began to play keeping school; and the travelling chaplain was told, week by week, how much pleasanter he would find his occasional visits when there should be a resident pastor on the spot, more worthy to converse with him than any of his flock. A part of the Sunday leisure was spent by many in repairing to the field where Mr. Jackson's house was to be; and then what planning there was about the garden, and the stand of bee-hives, and the paddock, and every other appendage to the parsonage! Some of the lads were training a pony for the young Jacksons, and the rarest and finest plants were destined for their flower-beds.
The answer was expected to arrive in May, and every one hope it would be before the anniversary;—that celebration of the arrival of the emigrants in a land of plenty which has already been spoken of as the best of their festivals. It happened to arrive on that very day.
Bright and busy were the mornings of these anniversaries;—each busier and brighter than the last, as the families of the settlers grew in numbers and prosperity. The labourers and mechanics who had arrived in the same waggon with the Castles had found wives or had them over, and now came thronging with their infants, bringing also the new comers of their craft, or in their employ; so that it was found necessary to spread a greater length of table every year under file shade where length they dined, and to provide a larger treat of game.
There was more bustle than usual this time, from Stapleton having chosen this very morning for his departure to the new territory where he meant to establish a lodge in the wilderness. As it was a holiday, several neighbours followed in his train for a few miles; and when obliged to turn back, gave three cheers to their departing neighbour, and three to him who was to be his successor in the abode which had grown up flourishing before their eyes, and was the chief ornament of their settlement. Frank joined in these cheers, and then told his companions that he would follow them home in an hour, as Mr. Stapleton had still some more directions to give, and wished for his company a little farther.—When Frank reappeared at noon, he looked so grave and had suddenly become so silent that everybody was struck, and his sister alarmed. He hastily reminded her that it was post-day; and said he was going himself to meet the postman, and would be back before dinner was on table. Three or four holiday-folks went with him; and none wondered that he looked grave on hearing tile sentence “No letters for the Dairy Plains.” Before they were halfway back, some of the acuter ears among the party caught the welcome and very rare sound of waggon wheels in their rear. In course of time, the vehicle appeared briskly approaching on the Launceston road, and Frank sprang eagerly forward to gaze in the faces of the passengers. All were strange; and these repeated disappointments left him no heart to hail the travellers. His companions did so, however; and the reply was that these were labourers from England, some bound to Stapleton's successor, and others on their way to a settlement further on.
“What part of England were they from?” “Kent and surrey.” “Did they bring letters for the Dairy Plains?” “Plenty; and something besides letters.” So saying: they exhibited a little boy, the very image of Jerry at five years old. Frank silently caught him up in his arms, and carried him on without asking another question; the dreary conviction having struck him that as this child was sent alone, none of the others he wished for were coming.
Little passed between himself and Ellen, who was on the watch.
“Here is the child, Ellen. May he be a blessing to yon!”
“Is he alone? No letters? No message? Or worse than none?”
“There are letters, but I have not got them from these people yet. They cannot be good, you know, or why——”
He could not go on. Ellen ran to beg the particular favour of the travellers to get out the letters immediately. This was easily done, the packages of the labourers being small; and before Frank was called upon to carve for a few dozen hungry people, he had satisfied himself that it was very childish and ungrateful to have been so soon cast down; and his gravity was seen by those who watched him to be of a very different character from that which had seized him three hours before.
It was not Ellen's wish that the little workhouse child should meet his parents for the first time in the presence of strangers. Knowing that Castle and his wife were gathering fruit in their garden, she took the boy there, (after having brushed the dust from his clothes, and set him off to the best advantage,) and put him in at the gate, bidding him not to be frightened if he was spoken to, but say where he came from. The little fellow made no advances. He stood in the middle of the walk, with a finger of each hand in his mouth, and his chin upon his breast. He had not yet learned work-house impudence.
Castle was the first to see him, after stooping so long over his peaches that Ellen began to fear the blindness was wilful. “Wife! Eife!”she at length heard him call. “He is come! The boy is come!”Ellen just staid to hear the words “my boy”from both, and stole away. Tile next time she saw him was as he came between his parents to the dinner table, chattering in his Kentish dialect, and asking to sit on his father's knee, and be treated with fruit by his mother.
“You must be satisfied with being his brother, Harry,”said Ellen to her husband. “He does not need to go begging for a father.”
Among the toasts which were given after dinner, some one proposed Mr. Stapleton's successor, whose name it was strange enough that nobody had been able to learn till this day; and perhaps it was not less remarkable that the name was the same with that of some respected persons now present. They would all fill their cans to the health of Mr. Robert Castle, about to become their neighbour.
It did not seem to occur to anybody who this Robert Castle was, till the gloom was seen to have settled over Frank's countenance as black as ever. Then the rest of the family looked at one another in wonder and dismay. Frank's companions on either hand asked him if he was asleep, or what had come over him that he did not fill his can. He immediately addressed the party, relating that he had been requested by Mr. Stapleton to inform the present company that the proprietor who was coming among them did not approve of such festivals as they were now holding; that he had purposely kept away till the present one was over, and hoped to hear of no more anniversaries.—This announcement occasioned a great uproar, which Frank quieted by observing that so absurd an interference as this need not be regarded otherwise than with silent contempt; that, whatever reasons the person in question might have for disliking such a celebration as theirs, he had nothing to do with the way in which they chose to remember the country of their birth, and to be thankful for the blessings of that in which they now lived. He therefore proposed, sure of being cheerfully pledged by every one around him, “Many happy returns to all Present of this remarkable festival.”
No wonder Frank had looked grave after bidding farewell to Stapleton, when the last news he heard from him was, that his successor was no other than Bob the convict, whose ambition was so far gratified that he was able to take on lease the little estate on which his virtuous elder brother had till now worked for hire. So much, as he observed, for his having been favoured with a free passage! His family were obliged to reconcile themselves to seeing him climb over their heads in this way. They reminded one another that they had made up their minds to the presence of convicts, as the one great evil attending emigration to Van Diemen's Land, and that they must not now begin to complain because one of these convicts was a son and brother. What their intercourse with him was to be, or whether there was to be any, they left to be decided by circumstances when he should appear.
A hearty welcome being offered to the Kentish and Surrey folks just arrived, they gave some account of themselves. They had all suffered from want of demand for their labour; an evil which had gone on to increase in the face of the promises that had been made to them about providing for all who were out of work on farms prepared for their advantage alone. A young labourer from the parish of A—stated that his
father and mother and their seven children had been located on such a farm by Mr. Fellowes, with sixty other families; that it was difficult to provide for all tile young people as they grew up, and would become more so still when they came to have families of their own, unless indeed they spent their whole lives in getting food and food only. Mr. Fellowes was now anxious to take in more paupers upon his farm, and was unwilling, in order to make room for them, to turn out labourers upon the parish where there were already too many; and he had therefore advised the sons and daughters of his home-settlers to lose no opportunity of getting well placed either in Canada or Australia. “So,” concluded the speaker, “I moved off to make room for two elderly folks, seeing, as Mr. Fellowes himself said, that I can raise a better living with less toil here than there, and be much sooner free; and so, here I am. But Mr. Jackson will tell you all about it, when he comes, better than 1 can.”
It was now Frank's turn to explain that the clergyman and his family were really coming, and to read that part of his long letter which concerned the present company.—He had often thought of coming, the gentleman wrote, and had nearly made up his mind to it before the invitation arrived from some of his former flock; and the inducements held out by them had quite decided him.—And now what cheering, what long and loud congratulation followed!
“What are you shaking your head for, Castle?” inquired one who sat opposite to him. “You cannot altogether help smiling; so why spoil sport with shaking your head? What are you sorry for?”
“I am not sorry. I am very glad. I am only afraid of Mr. Jackson's growing sorry, and that in a very little while. After all, you see, this is not the old country.”
“No more in the coat on your back an old coat; and how is it the worse for that?”
“Tush! Stuff! One's coat has nothing to do with one's happiness, as one's country has. England is one's home after all.”
“Not mine, I am sure. It was a dreary place enough to me,—nothing like a home. I and mine were neglected or oppressed at every turn; not because anybody meant us harm; but like starving people who happen to be just so many more than are needed. Here I have all I want without begging or returning thanks; and this is my home. Wherever I have a dwelling and food, wherever I have comfort and safety within doors, and can step abroad among friends, there is my home. Put me under a parish roof in the very spot I was born in, and I should feel like a banished man. Set me down independent, with my family about me, in any part of the world,—in the middle of a forest or on the wildest sea-shore, and, be it north, south, east, or west, that place is a home to me.”
Castle still shook his head, saying that there was no place like England to an Englishman.
“Aye; if you could be as welt off in England as you are here, I grant you. But just answer me this,—if you and your family could be set down this very day before the workhouse at A—, in the condition in which you drove away from it, would you go?”
Castle stole a glance at his children and hesitated to reply.—To spare his father, Frank observed that Mr. Jackson had a good deal to say on this subject, and proceeded to finish the letter, the auditory showing by their silence during its progress and their enthusiasm at its conclusion, that they were partly sensible of the greatness of the occasion, as well as prepared to enter into his opinions and feelings. Several of them, besides Frank and others who personally knew Mr. Jackson, felt that a new era in the prosperity of the settlement at Dairy Plains was likely to begin from this day;—for their correspondent might be said to be already among them.
After discussing the details of his removal, his letter proceeded thus:—
“My first consideration was, as you suppose, for my children; and long and anxiously did I consider, as it will be a comfort to as many of you as have families to know. The only way to settle such a question is, to ascertain what are the objects of human life. This done, it is easy to settle where those objects may be best attained. What I desire for my sons and daughters is that life should train them to the greatest degree of benevolence and integrity, out of which is sure to spring the highest kind of piety; and these things, with out, yard plenty, make happiness. Now, it seems to me that that benevolence is of the most kindly and abundant sort which subsists among happy people; and that integrity is most secure where the interests of all are the same, instead of being opposed, I think that not all the advantages of society and what is commonly called education, which my children could have in England, will set against the freedom from temptation and from the corrupting sights of human misery which must there come in their way; poor as they must be here, and condemned to jostle their way in the world, and probably to lose a step or two of the rank which their father's profession leads them to consider as their own. Education is made up of many things besides books, and even cultivated society; and I am much mistaken if, with such a field of exertion before them, and such motives to it, with abundance of God's blessings and beauties poured out around them, in the midst of an affectionate and thriving people, and with their father at hand to teach much which they could not otherwise learn, the intellects of my sons and daughters may not become of a much higher order than they could amidst the struggle for subsistence which they must sustain at home. I judge for none but those who are circumstanced like myself; but I certainly feel that those who have several children for whom they can provide nothing more than that sort of education which will not be of use to them in a competition for bread, are the right persons to go abroad and make their home where, at the sacrifice of some of the privileges of high civilization, none of the troubles and moral evils of poverty can enter.
“You will have heard that Mr. Fellowes finds his well-meant plans somewhat difficult to manage, from the vast increase of claimants. I believe he still thinks that if there were People's Farms enough, the relief might be made effectual, though he cannot explain what is to be done with so many delvers a hundred years hence, and will not say whether we are all to become delvers and spinners rather than a few of us cross the world to a more fruitful land. Your grandparents seem to like their settlement on his farm, and their employment of looking after some of the orphan children, and teaching them to dig and spin. Your presents and Ellen's give them great pleasure, presents and add to their stock of little comforts. They sigh for you sometimes; and no wonder: but they console themselves with saying that your father will end his days among a thriving set of grandchildren who need never fear want. Mr. Fellowes is glad, I am pleased to see, to have some of his farm labourers go abroad as opportunity offers; and some of these will convey this letter to you.—So many inquiries have already been addressed to me since my determination was known, that I have strong hopes that persons of various classes will soon be on their way to tile Dairy Plains.—Wherever colonization has succeeded best, the emigrating party has been composed of specimens of every rank and class; so that no one felt stripped of the blessings of tile mother-country, but rather that lie moved away in tile midst of an entire though small society. If gentlemen go to one place, and labourers to another, the settlement is sure to pine, like that at the Swan River, and like too many more of the same kind. Whatever expense and trouble may be incurred in locating such imperfect materials of society must be well nigh lost. The true economy, the true benevolence, the true wisdom, of emigration is to send out a company as a swarm of bees goes forth,—under proper leaders, and in a state of organization. This is the doctrine I declare as often as I am questioned; and I am trying to convince such capitalists as talk of emigrating that, if done in such a mode as this, their removal becomes most like a removal from one county to another; —as if they went from Norfolk into Cumberland, or from Lancashire into the new scenery of Devonshire. Let us hope that some of them will make the trial.
“The greatest surprise to me is that some still go on talking of its being unpatriotic to leave one's country. Surely it is patriotic to do whatever most benefits one's country; and it is pretty clear that it is a benefit to rid ours of thousands of her burdensome children, to the great advantage, instead of injury, of her colonies After all, a state is made up of individual members; and, therefore, whatever most benefits those individuals must benefit the state. Our duty to the state and our duty to ourselves are not opposing duties; if they were, there would either be no patriots, or no one would thrive. On the contrary, a man's chief duty to his country is to provide honestly and abundantly, if he can, for himself and his family; and when this cannot be done at home, it is a breach of duty to stay and eat up other men's substance there, if a living can be had elsewhere. But I need not argue this matter with you, who have seen and adopted the true patriotism. I and mine will come and try what we can do to make the name of our native land honoured in distant regions as it is in our own hearts: and when the reckoning comes to be made of what, as a community, we of the Dairy Plains have dolce for the state of which we arc members, let it be clear that we have loved and served her all the better for being removed from the gates of her workhouses into one of the palaces which God himself has built for her.”
Summary of Principles illustrated in this Volume.
Two kinds of colonization have been adopted by the British Empire;—Colonization for the reduction of our home-population,—or Voluntary Emigration;—and Penal Colonization.
The term Colonization is by some applied to a third process, which they wish to see introduced into this country; viz.—Home Colonization.
The objects of Voluntary Emigration, directed by the state, are threefold.
1st. To improve the condition of those who emigrate, by placing them where they may obtain subsistence at less cost than at home.
2d. To improve the condition of those who remain, by increasing the ratio of capital to population.
3d. To improve the condition of the colonized region.
To fulfil the 1st of these objects, the colony must be so located as to insure health and abundance to its members; and it must be so organized as to secure tile due co-operation of labour and capital.
To fulfil the 2d object, the removal of each individual must be less costly than his maintenance at home would be; and the selection must be made with a view to lessening the amount of human productiveness at home.
To fulfil the 3d object, the colonists must be selected with a view to their productiveness, both as regards capital and population; which includes a moral fitness to compose an orderly society.
It follows from all these considerations that a new settlement should be composed of young, healthy, and moral persons; that all should not be labourers, nor all capitalists; and that there should be a sufficient concentration of their numbers on the new lands to insure a facility of exchanges.
Home colonies may afford a temporary relief to a redundant population, and also increase the productiveness of the lands which they appropriate; but this is done by alienating capital from its natural channels; and with the certainty of ultimately injuring society by increasing the redundancy of population over capital.
Home colonization then, though less injurious than the unproductive distribution of the Charityfund, is inferior to foreign colonization, inasmuch as the one yields temporary benefit to a few at the expense of ultimate injury to many; and the other produces permanent benefit to all.
The objects of Penal Colonization are,
1st. The security of society by the removal of the offender.
2d. The security of society by the effect of his example.
3d. The reformation of the offender.
There has hitherto been an entire failure of all these objects. And no wonder; since,
1st. The offender is only transferred from one portion of society to another: and besides, frequently returns to his old haunts.
2d. His punishment, as far as it is punishment, takes place at too great a distance to be conspicuous as a warning; and in as far as his lot does not involve punishment, the effect of his example is precisely the reverse of what is desired.
3d. Our convict arrangements tend to the further corruption of the offender, by letting him experience a great improvement in his condition as a direct consequence of his crimes.
The junction of penal with voluntary emigration tends equally to disappoint the purposes of the one, and to extinguish the benefits of the other; since convict labourers find themselves in a state of privilege, in a region where their labour procures them large rewards; and new settlers find their community deeply injured by the vice and disease consequent on the introduction of a convict population.