Front Page Titles (by Subject) Chapter IX.: TRUE CITIZENSHIP. - Illustrations of Political Economy, vol. 4
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Chapter IX.: TRUE CITIZENSHIP. - 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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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.”