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portion of our fellow-citizens who have their eyes turned towards our colonial possessions as the place of their future residence; and it may be therefore useful to direct their attention to such sources of information on this subject as appear most worthy of confidence.
Whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the means best calculated to promote the welfare of society in a new colony, it is, we believe, universally allowed that there is nothing which exercises a more powerful influence upon it for good or for evil than the mode adopted for the disposal of waste lands. It is difficult to say whether a careless profusion or a narrow limitation in their distribution is most to be avoided. In the one case large portions of the wilderness are interposed between the settlers, co-operation is prevented, and communication cut off; the creation of markets, the growth of towns, the extension of civilization, are impeded; and the population, detached into small isolated communities, are condemned to remain, perhaps for centuries, in a state of helpless and hopeless existence. On the other hand, if the capitalist be prevented from choosing the situation which he deems most favourable, and if a range of soil be not afforded sufficiently ample for the operations of labour, to compensate for the disadvantages always attendant on a newly settled state, there will not be sufficient inducement offered to him to risk the perils and chances he must be prepared to encounter in his new enterprize, even under circumstances the most encouraging. It is therefore the first duty of a government to determine and fix the golden mean between these two extremes, which will have the effect of keeping society together, and at the same time allow a sufficient degree of expansion in the field of employment for labour. The error that has hitherto prevailed appears to have been on the side of profusion. The difficulties that attended the early colonists can, we think, be generally traced to the great extent of the tracts of land granted to individuals, which made every settler a landowner, and limited the power of production to the feeble efforts of unassisted labour. For this evil the sagacity of William Penn devised a remedy in his settlement of Pennsylvania. When the Crown granted to him the sole possession of that large extent
of country in consideration of services rendered by admiral Penn, his father, he offered the land for sale at the low price of 408. per 100 acres, and 2s. the 100 acres quit-rent; but, in order to counteract the usual effects of this easy mode of acquisition, he made a regulation that no person should be allowed to settle beyond a certain distance from a place of worship, which compelled the population to remain together.
By an Act of Elizabeth, rogues that were found dangerous to the people were liable to be banished the realm *, and in the reign of Charles II. the judges were empowered to execute, or transport to America for life, the moss-troopers of Cumberland and Northumberland t. Under the provisions of these statutes a great number of convicts were sent out of the country, who were assigned to the early settlers in the American colonies, and by this means and the purchase of slaves they generally endeavoured to counteract the calamities they had all, more or less, experienced in consequence of their dispersed and isolated population.
Notwithstanding the mighty tide of emigration which continued to flow from this country to the colonies from a very early period, there were few parliamentary or administrative proceedings on this momentous question deserving of notice before the years 1826 and 1827, when it was investigated at great length, and a mass of information collected upon it by two committees of the House of Commons, of which Mr. Wilmot Horton was chairman. To these committees the reports of the sessions 1823, 1824 and 1825, on the state of Ireland and the employment of the poor in that country, were referred, and also several petitions and memorials which had been presented to the colonial department from persons desirous of emigrating from the United Kingdom. It appeared to them in 1826, that while there existed a redundant population, which was found to repress industry at home, the prosperity of the colonies would be materially promoted by the reception of this population; but they did “not feel that, in the prose“ cution of their examination of this most important and com
paratively unexamined subject, they had either the time or
* 39 Eliz. C. 4. See Barr. Ant. Stat. 269.
“ the opportunity to perfect that scope of inquiry which would
extended scale*.” During the years 1823 and 1825 an
* First Report of 1826.
† Appendix to Second and Third Reports of the Select Committee on Emigration, 1827.
there arrived at Quebec 51,746; in 1833, 21,752; in 1834, 30,935; in 1835, 12,527; in 1836, 27,728; in 1837, 22,500; and in 1838 only 4992, a diminution occasioned by the distracted state of the colonies during that year. The greater proportion of these persons were little better than paupers. Of the English and Scotch it was calculated that about one fourth brought money or other resources with them; but of the Irish, who were as we have stated the larger proportion, scarcely one twentieth landed at Quebec with any other property than the scanty covering on their backs, and the bedding with which they had provided themselves for the voyage.
The worst description of vessels were commonly employed in the emigrant trade, and disasters at sea were frequent, while in those that escaped it was not uncommon for typhus fever to break out, occasioned by the insufficiency of provisions and the total disregard to the necessary precautions on the part of the masters and owners. On their arrival at Quebec the surviving passengers were frequently conveyed from the ship to the emigrant hospital, where there existed very inadequate accommodation for the numbers that required assistance; and many who escaped the fever were landed on the wharfs, without means of procuring food or shelter. To remedy this evil the Act 9 Geo. IV., called the Passengers' Act, was passed in 1825.
In the preceding year the members of the Quebec Emigrant Society laid before the Earl of Dalhousie, commander of the forces, a statement of the manner in which the sum of 7501., placed at their disposal by his Majesty's government for the relief of emigrants in Canada, had been applied. They remarked in this document that the influx of emigrants disembarking at the port of Quebec had not been lessened, the number having amounted in the then last season to 10,258, and that the proportion of these who were unable to proceed further was by many degrees greater than the city could either provide for, by means of labour, or relieve by means of charity, especially after the commencement of that severe season, which at once diminishes the sources of employment and increases the wants of the poor. Independent of the burthen imposed on the community in consequence of emigrants arriving in Canada without sufficient means, much practical inconvenience and occasional suffering resulted from the absence of any adequate authority at home to enforce the fulfilment of the regulations of the Passengers' Act; and of any means of affording to the peasantry accurate information as to the new country to which so many of them were hastening, and respecting which they generally entertained the most erroneous impressions. In 1831, a commission was appointed for the regulation of emigration, composed of the Duke of Richmond, Lord Howick, Mr. Francis Baring, Mr. Hay and Mr. Henry Ellis. The first advantage which resulted from this was the appointment of officers in the principal ports of emigration in England, Scotland and Ireland, whose duty it was to see that all emigrant ships were seaworthy ;-that they did not carry more passengers than they could conveniently accommodate ;—that the provisions laid in for the voyage were unobjectionable in quantity and quality ; and to adopt every possible precaution for the protection of emigrants from the various kinds of fraud which had been generally practised upon them.
In 1835 an amended Passengers' Act was passed ; and in 1837 the provincial government passed two measures to mitigate the evils which still continued to exist in the mode of conveying emigrants to Quebec, notwithstanding the appointment of agents. One was to levy a tax upon passengers from the United Kingdom to British America, to be applied to the relief of destitute emigrants, and the other to establish a quarantine station at Grosse-Isle. This island is situate some miles below Quebec, where vessels are detained on their arrival in cases of contagious disease existing among the passengers, who are thereupon removed to an hospital on the island. The last-mentioned provision has produced a most salutary effect on shipowners and emigrants; but we entertain great doubts of the expediency of the former. The emigrant tax was imposed at the instance of the home government, from the inability of Quebec to make adequate provision for the sick or indigent amongst the multitude of emigrants who pass through that city on their way to the townships of Upper Canada, and often to the United States. But this provision ought to be made by a provincial grant. The colonies have a deep interest in holding out every possible encouragement