Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter III.: GOING IN SEARCH OF HOME. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Chapter III.: GOING IN SEARCH OF HOME. - Harriet Martineau, Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4 
Illustrations of Political Economy (3rd ed) in 9 vols. (London: Charles Fox, 1834). Vol. 4.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
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.