Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION I.: Of that Class of Colonies, in the Conception of which the Idea of the People is the predominating Idea. - Colony
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SECTION I.: Of that Class of Colonies, in the Conception of which the Idea of the People is the predominating Idea. - James Mill, Colony 
Supplement to the Encyclopedia Britannica (London: J. Innes, 1825).
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Of that Class of Colonies, in the Conception of which the Idea of the People is the predominating Idea.
Of this sort were the Roman and the Grecian colonies, and of this sort are some of the British colonies.
1. The Roman colonies arose out of a peculiarity in the situation of the Roman people. In Rome, as in other countries, the lands were originally regarded as belonging to the state; and as belonging to the people, when the people took the powers of government to themselves. A sense of convenience, there, as everywhere else, rendered the land private property by degrees; and, under a form of government so very defective as the Roman, the influence of the leading men enabled them, in a short time, to engross it. The people, when reduced to misery, did not altogether forget, that the land had once been regarded as theirs; and, every now and then, asserted their claims in so formidable a manner, that, when aided by circumstances, they compelled the ruling few to make something of a sacrifice. They did not, indeed, compel them to give up the lands which they had appropriated; but it always happened, that in the countries conquered by the Romans, a portion of the lands was public property, and continued to be cultivated for the benefit of the Roman state. When the importunity of the people for a division of lands began to be troublesome or formidable, a portion of these lands was generally resorted to, enough to take off the most fiery of the spirits, and, contenting the leaders, to quiet the populace for a time. The portion of land, set apart for the purpose, was divided, at the rate of so much for every man; and a sufficient number of persons to occupy it, and to form a community, were sent out, more or less provided with the various supplies which were necessary for commencing the settlement.
In the nature of an establishment of this description, there is no mystery, and hardly any thing which requires explanation. The colonists lived in a Roman province, under Roman laws, and differed not materially from the people of any other local jurisdiction. Being once got rid of, no farther advantage was expected from them than from the other inhabitants of the country, in paying taxes, for example, and furnishing men for the army. In some few instances, in the planting of colonies, some benefit was looked to in the way of defence; when they were established in newly conquered countries, the people of which were not yet patient under the yoke, or when they were placed in the way of invading enemies. But not much advantage of this sort can be derived from a colony, which, in general, has more need to receive, than ability to yield, protection.
These colonies were planted wholly for the benefit of the Roman aristocracy. They were expedients for preserving to them the extraordinary advantages and powers they had been enabled to assume, by allaying that impatience of the people, under which the retention of their usurpations became difficult and doubtful. The wonder is, that the people were so easily contented, and that, having the means of intimidating the aristocracy to so great a degree, they did not insist upon greater advantages. And the pity is, that they understood so little what was for their advantage. If, instead of demanding a portion of land, the benefit of which, at best, was only temporary, they had demanded good laws, and had obtained efficient securities for good government, securities against that prevalence of the interests of the few over the interests of the many; which existed to so great an extent in the Roman government, as it has existed, and still does exist, in almost all other governments; they would have rendered to themselves, and would have rendered to the human race, the greatest of all possible services. But the human mind had not then made sufficient progress to see distinctly what was the real object of good government, or what the means which would be effectual in attaining it.
2. We next come to the class of colonies which are exemplified in the case of those sent out by the Greeks; and we take them in order subsequently to the Roman, because there is something in them for which rather more of explanatian is required. Of those early migrations, which carried a Greek population into Asia Minor, and at a later period into Italy and Sicily, we have not a sufficient number of historical facts to know very accurately the cause. It may be, that internal commotions, as frequently as a superabounding population, were the source from which they were derived. When, of two contending parties, one acquired the ascendency, they frequently made the situation of their opponents so painful to them, and sometimes also the shame of defeat was so great, that the vanquished party chose rather to live any where, than subject to the power and contempt of those over whom they had hoped to domineer. The leaders proposed emigration, and a great part of those who contended under their banners, were ready to depart along with them. In this way they might remove in large bodies, and, carrying with them all their moveable effects, would be in circumstances, when they established themselves on a fertile soil, to attain, in a little time, a great degree of prosperity. All this seems necessary to account for the flourishing state of the Greeks in Asia Minor, among whom arts and sciences flourished sooner, and civilization made still more rapid strides, till checked by Persian domination, than in the mother country itself, where a more dense population, and a less fertile soil, opposed obstructions to the happiness of the people, and the progress of the human mind.
There is nothing in modern times which so much resembles the colonization of Asia Minor by the Greeks, as the colonization of North America by the English. Of the first English planters of North America, a large proportion went out to escape the oppression of a predominating religion, as the Greeks to escape the oppression of a predominating political party. One difference there was—that the English did not go off at once, in any considerable bodies, under distinguished leaders, or with any great accompaniment of capital, the means of future prosperity. Accordingly, the prosperity of the British colonies in North America was much less rapid, and much less brilliant, than that of the Grecian colonies in Asia Minor. Another great difference there was, in that the English colonies, though they made a sort of subordinate government for themselves, were still held to be subject to the government of the mother country. The Grecian colonies became states, in all respects independent, owning no government but that which they established for themselves; though they still looked to the mother country for protection and assistance, and held themselves under a very strong obligation to befriend and assist her in all her difficulties.
In regard to those detachments of the population of the Grecian states, which resulted either from political disgust or political oppression, there is nothing which stands in need of explanation. The motive which gave rise to them is familiar and obvious; and the sort of relation in which they and the mother country stood to one another, importing mutual benevolence, but no right in the one to command, or obligation on the other to obey, every body can immediately understand.
There were other occasions, however, on which the Greeks sent out colonies, and these are the colonies which are commonly meant, when the Grecian principle of colonization is spoken of by way of distinction. These were resorted to, when the population of the mother country became superabundant, and relief was demanded by a diminution of numbers. This is a ground of colonization, which, since the principle of population has been shown to exert so great an influence upon the condition of human beings, deserves profound regard. We shall not, therefore, pass it by without a few observations.
A population is said to be redundant, When? Not when it is numerically either great or small; but solely and exclusively when it is too great for the quantity of food. Any one country produces or procures a certain quantity of food in the year. If it has a population greater than such a quantity of food is sufficient to maintain, all that number which is over and above what it is capable of maintaining, is a redundancy of population.
A curious phenomenon here presents itself. A redundancy of population, in the states of ancient Greece, made itself visible even to vulgar eyes. A redundancy of population in modern Europe never makes itself visible to any but the most enlightened eyes. Ask an ordinary man, ask almost any man, if the population of his country is too great; if the population of any country in Europe is, or ever was, too great: so far, he will tell you, is it from being too great, that good policy would consist in making it, if possible, still greater; and he might quote, in his own support, the authority of almost all governments, which are commonly at pains to prevent the emigration of their people, and to give encouragement to marriage.
The explanation of the phenomena is easy, but it is also of the highest importance. When the supply of food is too small for the population, the deficiency operates, in modern Europe, in a manner different from that in which it operated in ancient Greece. In modern Europe, the greatest portion of the food is bought by the great body of the people. What the great body of the people have to give for it is nothing but labour. When the quantity of food is not sufficient for all, and when some are in danger of not getting any, each man is induced, in order to secure a portion to himself, to give better terms for it than any other man, that is, more labour. In other words, that part of the population who have nothing to give for food but labour, take less wages. This is the primary effect, clear, immediate, certain. It is only requisite, farther, to trace the secondary, or derivative effects.
When we say, that in the case in which the supply of food has become too small for the population, the great body of the people take less wages, that is, less food, for their labour; we mean that they take less than is necessary for comfortable subsistence; because they would only have what is necessary for comfortable subsistence in the case in which the supply of food is not too small for the whole.
The effect, then, of a disproportion between the food and the population, is not to feed to the full measure that portion of the population which it is sufficient to feed, and to leave the redundant portion destitute; it is to take, according to a certain rate, a portion of his due quantity from each individual of that great class who have nothing to give for it but ordinary labour.
What this state of things imports is most easily seen. The great class who have nothing to give for food but ordinary labour, are the great body of the people. When every individual in the great body of the people has less than the due quantity of food, less than would fall to his share if the quantity of food were not too small for the population, the state of the great body of the people is the state of sordid, painful, and degrading poverty. They are wretchedly fed, wretchedly clothed, have wretched houses, and neither time nor means to keep either their houses or their persons free from disgusting impurity. Those of them, who, either from bodily infirmities, have less than the ordinary quantity of labour to bestow, or from the state of their families, need a greater than the ordinary quantity of food, are condemned to starve; either wholly, if they have not enough to keep them alive, or partially, if they have enough to yield them a lingering, diseased, and, after all, a shortened existence.
What the ignorant and vulgar spectator sees in all this, is not a redundant population, it is only a poor population. He sees nobody without food who has enough to give for it. To his eye, therefore, it is not food which is wanting, but that which is to be given for it. When events succeed in this train, and are viewed with these eyes, there never can appear to be a redundancy of population.
Events succeeded in a different train in the states of ancient Greece, and rendered a redundancy of population somewhat more visible, even to vulgar and ignorant eyes.
In ancient Greece, the greatest portion of the food was not bought by the great body of the people; the state of whom, wretched or comfortable, legislation has never yet been wise enough much to regard. All manual labour, or, at least, the far greatest portion of it, was performed, not by free labourers serving for wages, but by slaves, who were the property of the great men. The deficiency of food, therefore, was not distributed in the shape of general poverty and wretchedness over the great body of the population, by reduction of wages; a case which affects, with very slight sensations, those who regard themselves as in no degree liable to fall into that miserable situation. It was felt, first of all, by the great men, in the greater cost of maintaining their slaves. And what is felt as disagreeable by the great men, is sure never to continue long without an effort, either wise or foolish, for the removal of it. This law of human nature was not less faithfully observed in the states of ancient Greece, for their being called republics. Called republics, they in reality were aristocracies; and aristocracies of a very bad description. They were aristocracies in which the people were cheated with an idea of power, merely because they were able, at certain distant intervals, when violently excited, to overpower the aristocracy in some one particular point; but they were aristocracies in which there was not one efficient security to prevent the interests of the many from being sacrificed to the interests of the few; they were aristocracies, accordingly, in which the interests of the many were habitually sacrificed to the interests of the few; meaning by the many, not the slaves merely, but the great body of the free citizens. This was the case in all the states of Greece, and not least in Athens. This is not seen in reading the French and English histories of Greece. It is not seen in reading Mitford, who has written a History of Greece for no other purpose but that of showing that the interests of the many always ought to be sacrificed to the interests of the few; and of abusing the people of Greece, because every now and then, the Many in those countries showed, that they were by no means patient under the habitual sacrifice of their interests to the interests of the Few. But it is very distinctly seen, among other occasions, in reading the Greek orators, in reading Demosthenes for example, in reading the Oration against Midias, the Oration on Leptines, and others, in which the licence of the rich and powerful, and their means of oppressing the body of the people, are shown to have been excessive, and to have been exercised with a shameless atrocity, which the gentleness and modesty of the manners of modern Europe, even in the most aristocratically despotic countries, wholly preclude.
In Greece, then, any thing which so intimately affected the great men, as a growing cost of maintaining their slaves, would not long remain without serious attempts to find a remedy.
It was not, however, in this way alone, that a redundant population showed itself in Greece. As not many of the free citizens maintained themselves by manual labour, they had but two resources more,—the land, and profits of stock. Those who lived on profits of stock, did so, commonly, by employing slaves in some of the known arts and manufactures, and of course were affected by the growing cost of maintaining their slaves. Those who lived on the produce of a certain portion of the land, could not but exhibit very distinctly the redundancy of their numbers, when, by the multiplication of families, portions came to be so far subdivided, that what belonged to each individual was insufficient for his maintenance.
In this manner, then, it is very distinctly seen, why, to vulgar eyes, there never appears, in modern Europe, to be any redundancy of population, any demand for relieving the country by carrying away a portion of the people; and why, in ancient Greece, that redundancy made itself be very sensibly perceived; and created, at various times, a perfectly efficient demand for removing to distant places a considerable portion of the people.
But what if that redundancy of population which shows itself in modern Europe, in the effects of reduced wages, and a poor and starving people, should suggest to rulers the policy of ancient Greece, and some time or other recommend colonization? A few reflections may be well bestowed upon a supposition of this kind.
In the first place, it should be very distinctly understood, what it is we mean, when we say, in regard to such a country as Great Britain, for example, that the supply of food is too small for the population; because it may be said immediately, that the quantity of food may be increased in Great Britain; a proposition which no man will think of denying.
Let us suppose that in any given year, this year for example, the food in Great Britain is too small for the people, by 10,000 individuals. It is no doubt true, that additional food sufficient to supply 10,000 individuals might be raised next year; but where would be the amelioration, if 10,000 individuals were at the same time added to the numbers to be fed? Now, the tendency of population is such, as to make, in almost all cases, the real state of the facts correspond with this supposition. Population not only rises to the level of the present supply of food; but, if you go on every year increasing the quantity of food, population goes on increasing at the same time, and so fast, that the food is commonly still too small for the people. This is the grand proposition of Mr. Malthus’s book; it is not only quite original, but it is that point of the subject from which all the more important consequences flow, consequences which, till that point was made known, could not be understood.
When we say that the quantity of food in any country is too small for the quantity of the people, and that, though we may increase the quantity of food, the population will at the same time increase so fast, that the food will still be too small for the people; we may be encountered with another proposition. It may be said, that we may increase food still faster than it is possible to increase population. And there are situations in which we must allow that the proposition is true.
In countries newly inhabited, or in which there is a small number of people, there is commonly a quantity of land, yielding a large produce for a given portion of labour. So long as the land continues to yield in this liberal manner, how fast soever population increases, food may increase with equal rapidity, and plenty remain. When population, however, has increased to a certain extent, all the best land is occupied; if it increases any farther, land of a worse quality must be taken in hand; when land of the next best quality is all exhausted, land of a still inferior quality must be employed, till, at last you come to that which is exceedingly barren. In this progress it is very evident that it is always gradually becoming more and more difficult to make food increase with any given degree of rapidity, and that you must come at last to a point where it is altogether impossible.
It may, however, be said, and has been said in substance, though not very clearly, by some of Mr. Malthus’s opponents, that it is improper to speak of food as too small for the population, so long as food can be made to increase at an equal pace with population; and though it is no doubt true, that, in the states of modern Europe, food does not actually increase so fast as the population, and hence the poverty and wretchedness of the people; yet it would be very possible to make food increase as fast as population, and hence to make the people happy without diminishing their numbers by colonization: and that it is owing to unfavourable, to ill-contrived institutions, that such is not the effect universally experienced.
As this observation has in it a remarkable combination of truth and error, it is worthy of a little pains to make the separation.
There can be no doubt that, by employing next year a greater proportion of the people upon the land than this year, we should raise a greater quantity of food; by employing a still greater proportion the year following, we should produce a still greater quantity of food; and, in this way it would be possible to go on for some time, increasing food as fast as it would be possible for the population to increase. But observe at what cost this effect would be attained. As the land yields gradually less and less to every new portion of labour, it would be necessary to employ, gradually, not only a greater and greater number, but a greater and greater proportion of the people in raising food. But the greater the proportion of the people which is employed in raising food, the smaller is the proportion which can be employed in producing anything else. You can only, therefore, increase the quantity of food, to meet the demand of an increasing population, by diminishing the supply of those other things which minister to human desires.
There can be no doubt, that, by increasing every year the proportion of the population which you employ in raising food, and diminishing every year the proportion employed in every thing else, you may go on increasing food as fast as population increases, till the labour of a man upon the land, is just sufficient to add as much to the produce, as will maintain himself and raise a family. Suppose, where the principle of population is free from all restriction, the average number of children reared in a family is five; in that case, so long as the man’s labour, added to the labour already employed upon the land, can produce food sufficient for himself, and the rearing of five children, food may be made to keep pace with population. But if things were made to go on in such an order, till they arrived at that pass, men would have food, but they would have nothing else. They would have neither clothes, nor houses, nor furniture. There would be nothing for elegance, nothing for ease, nothing for pleasure. There would be no class, exempt from the necessity of perpetual labour, by whom knowledge might be cultivated, and discoveries useful to mankind might be made. There would be no physicians, no legislators. The human race would become a mere multitude of animals, of a very low description, having just two functions, that of raising food, and that of consuming it.
To shorten this analysis, let us, then, assume, what will hardly be disputed, that it is by no means desirable for human nature to be brought into a situation in which it would be necessary for every human being to be employed, and fully employed, in the raising of food; that it never can be desirable that more than a certain proportion should be employed in the raising of food; that it must for ever be desirable that a certain proportion should be employed in producing other things which minister to human desires; and that there should be a class possessed of leisure, among whom the desire of knowledge may be fostered, and those individuals reared who are qualified to advance the boundaries of knowledge, and add to the powers and enjoyments of man.
It is useless, then, to tell us, that we have the physical power of increasing food as fast as population. As soon as we have arrived at that point at which the due distribution of the population is made between those who raise food, and those who are in other ways employed in contributing to the well-being of the members of the community, any increase of the food, faster than is consistent with that distribution, can only be made at the expense of those other things, by the enjoyment of which the life of man is preferable to that of the brutes. At this point the progress of population ought undoubtedly to be restrained. Population may still increase, because the quantity of food may still be capable of being increased, though not beyond a certain slowness of rate, without requiring to the production of it a greater than the due proportion of the population.
Suppose, then, when the due proportion of the population is allotted to the raising of food, and the due proportion to other desirable occupations, that the institutions of society were such as to prevent a greater proportion from being withdrawn from those occupations to the raising of food. It would, surely, be very desirable that the institutions of society should secure this important object. If population, in that case, should go on at its full rate of increase—in other words, faster than with such a distribution of the population it would be possible for food to be increased, what would be the consequences? The answer is abundantly plain. All those effects would take place which have already been described as following upon the existence of a redundant population in modern Europe, and in all countries in which the great body of those who have nothing to give for food but labour, are free labourers. Wages would fall; poverty would overspread the population; and all those horrid phenomena would exhibit themselves, which are the never-failing attendants on a poor population.
It is of no great importance, though the institutions of society may be such, as to make the proportion of the population, kept back from the providing of food, rather greater than it might be. All that happens is, that the redundancy of population begins a little earlier. The unrestrained progress of population would soon have added the deficient number to the proportion employed in the raising of food: and, at whatever point the redundancy begins, the effects are always the same.
What are the best means of checking the progress of population, when it cannot go on unrestrained, without producing one or other of two most undesirable effects, either drawing an undue proportion of the population to the mere raising of food, or producing poverty and wretchedness, it is not now the time to inquire. It is, indeed, the most important practical problem to which the wisdom of the politician and moralist can be applied. It has, till this time, been miserably evaded by all those who have meddled with the subject, as well as by all those who were called upon by their situation to find a remedy for the evils to which it relates. And yet, if the superstitions of the nursery were discarded, and the principle of utility kept steadily in view, a solution might not be very difficult to be found; and the means of drying up one of the most copious sources of human evil; a source which, if all other sources of evil were taken away, would alone suffice to retain the great mass of human beings in misery, might be seen to be neither doubtful nor difficult to be applied.
The only question to which we are here required to find an answer, is that of colonization. When the population of a country is full, and its increase cannot go on at its most rapid pace, without producing one of the two evils of redundancy, a portion of the people, sent off to another country, may create a void, and till this is filled up, population may go on as rapidly as before, and so on for any number of times.
In certain circumstances, this is a better resource than any scheme for diminishing the rate of population. So long as the earth is not peopled to that state of fulness which is most conducive to human happiness, it contributes to that important effect. It is highly desirable, on many accounts, that every portion of the earth, the physical circumstances of which are not inconsistent with human well-being, should be inhabited, as fully as the conditions of human happiness admit. It is only, in certain circumstances, however, that a body of people can be advantageously removed from one country, for the purpose of colonizing another. In the first place, it is necessary that the land which they are about to occupy, should be capable of yielding a greater return to their labour than the land which they leave; otherwise, though relief is given to the population they leave behind, their own circumstances are not better than they would have been had they remained.
Another condition is, that the expense of removal from the mother country to the colonized country, should not be too great; and that expense is usually created by distance.
If the expense is too great, the population which remains behind in the mother country, may suffer more by the loss of capital, than it gains by the diminution of numbers.
It has been often enough, and clearly enough, explained, that it is only capital which gives employment to labour; we may, therefore, take it as a postulate. A certain quantity of capital, then, is necessary to give employment to the population which any removal for the sake of colonization may leave behind. But if, to afford the expence of that removal, so much is taken from the capital of the country, that the remainder is not sufficient for the employment of the remaining population, there is, in that case, a redundancy of population, and all the evils which it brings. For the well-being of the remaining population, a certain quantity of food is required, and a certain quantity of all those other things which minister to human happiness. But to raise this quantity of food, and this quantity of other things, a certain quantity of capital is indispensably necessary. If that quantity of capital is not supplied, the food, and other things, cannot be obtained.
On the subject of that class of colonies, in the conception of which the idea of the people is the predominating idea, we have now explained the principle which is exemplified in the Roman, and that which is exemplified in the Grecian cases: belonging to the same class, there are British colonies, in which another, and a very remarkable principle is exemplified. The Greeks planted colonies for the sake of getting rid of a redundant population;—the British, for the sake of getting rid of a delinquent population.
3. The brilliant idea of a colony for the sake of getting rid of a delinquent population, if not peculiar to English policy, is, at any rate, a much more remarkable part of the policy of England, than of that of any other country. We have not time here to trace the history of this singular portion of English policy, nor is it of much importance. Every body knows, that this mode of disposing of delinquents, was carried to a considerable height before this country lost her dominion over the North American colonies, to which she annually transported a considerable number of convicts. It will suffice, for the present occasion, to offer a few observations on the nature of such an establishment as that of New South Wales.
Considered in the light of its utility as a territory, the colony of New South Wales will be included in the investigation of that class of colonies, in the conception of which the idea of territory is the predominating idea. At present it is to be considered in its capacity of a place for receiving the delinquent part of the British population.
In dealing with a delinquent population, the end to be aimed at, the security of the non-delinquent, embraces two particulars; security from the crimes of this or that individual delinquent himself, and security from those of other men who may be tempted to follow his example. The first object is comparatively easy. It is not difficult to prevent an individual from doing any mischief. What is chiefly desirable is, that the individual who is proved to be a delinquent, should be so dealt with, that the mode of dealing with him may be as effectual as possible in deterring others from the commission of similar offences.
In pursuit of the first object, securing society from the crimes of the convicted individual, there is a good mode, and a bad mode. The best of all modes, unquestionably, is the reformation of the offender. Wherever this can be accomplished, every other mode, it is evident, is a bad one. Now, in regard to the reformation of the offender, there is but one testimony, that New South Wales, of all places on the face of the earth, except, perhaps, a British prison, is the place where there is the least chance for the reformation of an offender, the greatest chance of his being improved and perfected in every species of wickedness.
If it be said, that taking a man to New South Wales at any rate affords to the British community security against the crimes of that man, we may answer, that putting him to death would do so. And we farther pronounce, that saving a man from death, with the mind of a delinquent, and sending him to New South Wales, to all the effects of his vicious propensities, is seldom doing even him any good.
It is, however, not true, that sending a delinquent to New South Wales, secures the British community from his future offences. A very great proportion of those who are sent to New South Wales find the means of returning; and those who do so are, in general, and may always be expected to be, the very worst.
We have a high authority for this affirmation. The Committee of the House of Commons, who were appointed in the session of 1812, “to inquire into the manner in which sentences of transportation are executed, and the effects which have been produced by that mode of punishment,” stated solemnly, in their Report, that “No difficulty appears to exist among the major part of the men who do not wish to remain in the colony, of finding means to return to this country. All but the aged and infirm easily find employment on board the ships visiting New South Wales, and are allowed to work their passage home. But such facility is not afforded to the women. They have no possible method of leaving the colony, but by prostituting themselves on board the ships whose masters may choose to receive them. They who are sent to New South Wales, that their former habits may be relinquished, cannot obtain a return to this country, but by relapsing into that mode of life which, with many, has been the first cause of all their crimes and misfortunes. To those who shrink from these means, or are unable, even thus, to obtain a passage for themselves, transportation for seven years is converted into a banishment for life; and the just and humane provisions of the law, by which different periods of transportation are apportioned to different degrees of crime, are rendered entirely null.”
So much, then, with regard to the reformation of the individual, and security from his crimes, neither of which is attained. But, even on the supposition that both were ever so completely attained, there would still be a question of great importance; viz. whether the same effects could not be attained at a smaller expense. It never ought to be forgotten, that society is injured by every particle of unnecessary expense; that one of the most remarkable of all the points of bad government, is, that of rendering the services of government at a greater than the smallest possible expence; and that one of the most remarkable of all the points of good government is, that of rendering every service which it is called upon to render at the smallest possible expense.
In this respect also, the policy of the New South Wales establishment is faulty beyond all endurance. The cost of disposing in this way of a delinquent population is prodigious. We have no room for details, and there is no occasion for proof; the fact is notorious: whereas, on the contrary, it is now well known, that in houses of industry and reformation, upon the best possible plan, that, for example, of Mr. Bentham’s Panopticon, which has no parallel, there is little or no expence, there is perfect security against the future crimes of the delinquent, and that, to a great degree, by the best of all possible modes,—his reformation.
If the mode of dealing with a delinquent according to such an institution as that of New South Wales, is thus wretched, as far as regards the securing of the community from the future crimes of the convicted delinquent; it is not less so in what regards the deterring of all other men from following similar courses to those of the delinquent.
It is very evident that this last is by far the most important of the two objects. It is now agreed that this is the end, the only good end, of all punishment, properly so called; for mere safe custody, and satisfaction to the injured party, are not, in the proper sense of the word, punishments; they are for other ends than punishment, in any point of view in which it is ever contemplated.
The great importance of this above the previous case, consists in this, that when you take security against the crimes of the convicted delinquent, you take security against the crimes of only one man, and that, a man in your hands, with whom you can deal as you please. When, by means of the mode of dealing with him, you deter all other men from following similar courses, you provide security, not against one man alone, but many men, any number of men, of men undetected, and not in your power, each of whom may be guilty of many crimes before he can be stopt.
On this point it is only necessary, for form’s sake, to write down what is the fact; for every human being of common reflection, must anticipate the observation before it is made. If an assembly of ingenious men, in the character of legislators, had taken pains to devise a method of dealing with delinquents, which, while it had some appearance of securing society from the crimes of the detected individual, should be, to the greatest possible degree, devoid, both of the reality and even the appearance of any efficacy of deterring other men from the pursuit of similar courses, they could not have devised any thing better calculated for that preposterous end, than the colony of New South Wales. Nothing can operate where it is not. The men to be operated upon are in England; the example which should operate is in New South Wales. Much more might be said, but it is unnecessary. In the great majority of cases, a voyage to New South Wales has not even the appearance of a punishment. Men of that description have neither friends nor affections. They leave behind nobody whom they like, and nobody who likes them. What is it to such men, that they are for a while, or for ever, taken away from England, along, very frequently, with the only sort of persons with whom they have any connection, the companions of their debaucheries and of their crimes?