TOPICS OF THE DAY.
PRESENT ADMINISTRATION OF THE COLONIAL DEPARTMENT.
Ir we have not entirely put off the old man of party-spirit, the very little that remains with us consists of ill-will to the leading Whigs—not the hatred which O'CONNELL expressed when he called them " base, bloody, and brutal," but dislike of their false pretences and contempt for their real inefficiency as the heads of a party in power. For this reason, and also because we believe that on the whole Sir ROBERT PEEL'S Government is the best that the country can at present hope to obtain, it is not without regret that we ever observe serious defects in the present administration of affairs. No unfriendly spirit, therefore, prompts us to notice cer- tain deficiencies and errors of the Colonial Office under Lord STANLEY. Nay, we could easily show, even by reference to the causes of the downfal of the late Government, that plain-spoken and timely warning is the part of a friend in need.
The merest partisan of the present Government, if he were ac- quainted with the classes taking an interest in Colonial subjects, would admit that Lord STANLEY has not made himself popular as Colonial Minister. Nor, indeed, has he had time enough to esta- blish either a good or a bad reputation as the successor of Lord JOHN RUSSELL. We speak, therefore, of appearances which may never be realized, rather than of an accomplished fact. But, on the other band, it must be seen that, inasmuch as the most credit- able part of Lord MELBOURNE'S administration was that of the Colonial Department under Lord JOHN RUSSELL, Lord STANLEY has no time to spare in doing well, if he would avoid unfavourable contrast with his predecessor. It is probably true, as has been alleged, that Lord JOHN owes his seat as Member for the City of London to his popularity as Colonial Minister : could Lord STAN- LEY now get returned as a Member for the City ? The question is worth his consideration.
Our attention has been directed to this subject by several recent numbers of the Colonial Gazette—a newspaper devoted to Colonial interests, devoid of party politics, and possessing much influence with the classes whom it addresses, especially in the Colonies. This journal has begun, though with obvious reluctance, to speak evil of Lord STANLEY'S management of affairs. Each of the last three numbers, in dealing with topics of present interest, makes out against him some case oferror or deficiency. The subjects examined relate to three important groups of colonies—Canada, the West Indies, and the Australias with New Zealand ; and the following extracts will suffice to explain the nature at least of the writer's complaints.
LORD JOHN RUSSELL AS COLONIAL MINISTER.
"Of the rapid succession of Colonial Ministers since Lord Bathurst retired from Downing Street, Lord John Russell is the only one whose reputation gained by his administration of the affairs of the Colonies. His two imme- diate predecessors lost in that department whatever character for statesman- ship they had acquired elsewhere. Indeed it was, most likely, owing in part to the disorders arising from the incapacity of Lords Glenelg and Normanby, that the real Prime Minister of the Melbourne Government undertook, and seri- ously attended to, the duties of a charge previously deemed of very inferior consequence So far, good came out of evil. But on the other hand it must be observed, that even if Lord John's Colonial administration had been, as Might easily have happened, more able and usefully effective than it was, yet the public would scarcely have given him credit for his deserts if the old state of Colonial opinion had continued down to the time when he,roade way for Lord Stanley. Fortunately for him, Colonial opinion, equally here and in the Colonies, underwent a remarkable change during his tenure of office as Colo- nial Minister. For the utter ignorance and carelessness of the British public about colonies in Lord Bathurst's time, there was substituted a degree of gene- ral knowledge and interest sufficient at least for the existence of opinion as to the merits of a Colonial Minister : while in the Colonies generally, and in some of them to a remarkable extent, a better spirit of inquiry had arisen ; argu- mentative exposition had taken the place of abuse and ribaldry; intercolonial jealousies and animosities had become far less active; and there had grown up a kind of opinion capable of drawing comparisons between successive presidents of the department. Both at home and abroad, opinion had become more in- telligent, better worth pleasing, and more powerful to reward him who pleased it with an increase of reputation. In this respect, Lord John enjoyed a great advantage over his predecessors : shall we be deemed very presumptuous in adding, that he was in some measure indebted for it to the labours of the Colo- nial Gazette since August 1839 ? "
APPARENT SMALLNESS OF LORD STANLEY'S GRASP.
"Observers of the Colonial Office have remarked, that it has produced nothing large under Lord Stanley's management—that is, nothing of an original or comprehensive kind, or otherwise worthy to be remembered. Even in making a constitution—as fur Newfoundland or New South Wales—the Office under Lord Stanley has condescended to such very small performance as is already forgotten by those who ever noticed it. People still talk of Lord John Russell in relation to Colonial affairs, but never of the actual Minister. And this happens at a time when events are rapidly coming about, which pro- mise to invest the subject of colonization with far more importance than it ever possessed before. Surely, then, we are justified in saying, that, according to present apppearances, Lord Stanley's reputation is not likely to improve through his administration of the Colonies."
HESITATION AS TO CANADA.
" Events of great importance to another group of colonies have occurred under the present Administration ; but it seems doubtful whether Lord Stan- ley's part in them will eventually redound to his honour. It was Sir Robert Peel who proposed to treat Canada as an "integral portion of the Empire "; but the despatch of the Colonial Office with respect to the terms on which Ca- nada produce is to be let into the Home market was so very ambiguous, that the Provincial Legislature, while endeavouring to comply with certain condi- tions apparently required from it, has virtually declared that it is not sure of Lord Stanley's meaning : it imposes a duty on American produce coming into Canada, but on the condition that it has read aright Lord Stanley's supposed assurance that produce exported from Canada would be let into England duty- free. It is not easy to believe-that he who wrote the despatch, or ordered it to be written, would have fallen into such awkward ambiguity if he had held any decided opinion on its subject-matter. Then again, there are indications that the Colonial Office has had no opinion at all with respect to Sir Charles Begot a important political measures in Canada ; that it left him without instructions that his acts took it by surprise ; and that its sanction of those acts has been reluctant and hesitating. All these may be false appearances; but their exist • ence, whether true or false, does not promise well for the opinion which the public is now gradually forming of Lord Stanley's capacity as a statesman. It looks as if he had really been first careless, and then infirm of purpose, in a matter which especially called for anxious inquiry at the beginning, and at the end unhesitating resolution in favour of one thing or the other : it looks as if Lord Stanley's qualities as a debater had led the public to form a particularly erroneous estimate of his character as a Minister."
ABSURD DISPROPORTION BETWEEN THE END AND THE MEANS. "In estimating a plan and its execution, the grand point to ascertain is, whether the two are well matched or suitable to each other. Lord Stanley's measure of emigration [from Africa] to the West Indies will hardly stand this test. The object here is immense. It is to supply labour to the West Indies inproportion to the wants of capitalists ; it is to save the perishing capitals of those rich countries, by furnishing that ample supply of free labour by which alone capital can anywhere be preserved without slavery; it is to enable the employers of free labour in the British West Indies to undersell slave-owner producers in the markets of the world ; it is to establish a Coloured nation of freemen in the West Indies, so numerous in proportion to land and capital as to be capable of cheap production, and of the civilization which de- pends on surplus produce and a foreign trade ; it is to prove that slavery may be abolished without injury to any, with benefit to every class ; it is to set an example, to teach a practical lesson, to the slave-countries of America, the very reverse of that furnished by miserable St. Domingo, and by our own"-, Colonies at this moment, where the production of exportable commodities is altogether dependent on a cicae monopoly ; it is to give a heavy blow and great discouragement' indeed to slavery and the slave-trade ; and lastly, it is to promote the civilization of Africa itself, by the rational and practicable means of raising up a wealthy and civilized people of the Negro blood to be a lesson and an example to their race. It is for no less aims than these that the British Government has dared to set on foot, or that the British public will suffer it to carry on, what the rest of the world will for some time call a new slave-trade in disguise. It is the great goodness of the end in view, that alone can justify and sustain England in a measure which will draw upon her the bitter and sincere reproaches of other nations. Against the attacks that will be made on our Government for its conduct in this matter, it has no defence but in asserting the greatness and goodness of its object, and in showing that if the object be obtained, England sill deserve admiration rather than reproach. The adoption by the Government of England of the principle of African emigration to the West Indies under the management of the State, is an event of far more importance to the human family than Las Casas's invention of the African Slave-trade, or perhaps than the discovery of the sea passage to the East Indies. But in what does its vast importance consist ?—clearly in the greatness of the possible and designed consequences of the proceeding. We perceive, then, a gigantic plan. Let us nose examine the character of the means of execution.
"It is needless to repeat that all means are good according to their suitable- ness to the end in view—that is, just as they are fit to accomplish their object. Now in this case, it is an essential purpose of the scheme to put a timely end to that deficiency of labour in the West Indies in consequence of which the great capitals of our possessions there are perishing away. The supply must be sufficient in quantity, and must arrive in time, or else it will not be a saving supply. An ample supply must arrive before the demand ceases; or else the emigration would be merely a removal ot savages from one savage land to an- other. And in order that the quantity of labour should not again become de- ficient in proportion to active capital—that is, iu proportion to the demand for labour—it is requisite that fresh labour should be poured in continually so as to counteract, as respects the proportion of labour to the demand for it, the great facility with which in the West Indies labourers for hire may become in- dependent cultivators or capitalists wanting labourers. "Enough in time, at all times enough,' should be the words of a maxim for the guidance of those to whom was intrusted the business of promoting emigration from Africa to the West Indies. But what is Lord Stanley's measure of time and quantity ? Not an estimate, carefully formed by the Government, of the actual and pro- bable wants of capitalists throughout the West Indies—of the present and probable demand for new labour in all our possessions there—but merely the disposition of individuals in this country interested in the West Indies to gua- rantee repayment to the Government, by the colony to which any vessel may run, of the expense incurred by the use of such vessel. So far as private per- sons here shall please to become responsible for the expense, this great national project is to be immediately carried into effect, but no further. The proportion of the execution to the plan is like that of the mouse to the mountain. There has been no thought about timely effort, about suiting the supply to the de- mand, about creating a reliable emigration-fend, about regulating the supply among the different colonies so that they might no longer rob each other of labour, about provisions for keeping up the stream of emigration, or about arrangements either for the wellbeing of the emigrants after their arrival, or for enabling them to return to Africa m hen so minded,—or indeed about any thing, it would seem, except just trying to stop the mouths of the West India interest with a sham measure of relief; by way of compensation for the ap- proaching loss of their monopoly of the British market. Judging therefore by his means of execution, it appears certain that Lord Stanley does not compre- hend the plan ; that he has no just conception of its tenour, scope, and object. He seems to have only illustrated our notion concerning the tendency ot his mind to ` halt between two opinions,' and of his practice to do " neither one thing nor the other.' In debating, Lord Stanley is known to be really great : his reputation for judgment and action has yet to be made." It should be observed with respect to the two extracts which immediately follow, that the evils there mentioned have not been occasioned by Lord STANLEY. The only rightful complaint against him is, that he has been a good while in power without even at- tempting to provide a remedy for them.
STOPPAGE OF COLONIZATION IN SOUTH AUSTRALIA.
" As respects South Australia, where in a few years a population of 15,000 souls was esta.dished in the wilderness, solely by means of the plan of selling waste land and using the purchase-money for emigration, there have been no sales during the last two years. The amount of sales in any ease depends chiefly on the degree of confidence felt here us to the future prosperity of the settlement ; such confidence being, indeed, the measure of the emigration of capitalists desirous and able to buy land: and all confidence as to the pros- perity of South Australia was destroyed by the bankruptcy of the Government of that colony, arising from the reckless extravagance of Governor Gawler in matters not pertaining to colonization. The whole settlement was disor- ganized; the Commission, which had well managed its colonization and mis- managed its finances, was broken up ; the act of Parliament which secured the whole produce of the land-sales as an emigration-fund was repealed; all in consequence of what may be termed the insanity of its Governor. The recall of Colonel Gawler provided no remedy for the evils which be had occasioned. His gross mismanagement as Governor, irrespectively of colonization, and that of the Commissioners, also irrespectively of colonization, gave the settle- ment a bad name at home ; capitalists have been afraid to go thither ; little or , • land, therefore, is sold ; and the settlement remains almost without pro- ,ress as respects colonization."
STOPPAGE OF COLONIZATION IN NEW SOITEII WALES.
"In New South Wales, the sale of land has been stopped by something which has been a main cause of the disorganization of the whole economy of the set- tlement. We allude to the mode of selling land adopted by the Government. If the land bad been sold with a single view to obtaining the price sufficient for the right amount of emigration in proportion to new acquisitions of land, and therefore on the principle of first come, first served,' at a uniform rate per acre, with unlimited right of choice, it may be presumed that the desire to purchase, and the money paid, would have been regulated by the natural pro- gress of the demand for land arising from the increase of people. Instead of this, the quantity offered for sale was very limited, and every other influence of the Government was employed to excite the utmost competition at the sales. By limiting the quantity of land, by dividing it into town-lots and suburban- lots, by holding out the hope of a vast future increase in the value of such lots, by puffing the advantages likely to accrue to purchasers from such and such a spot being made the capital of a district, and by the excitement of congre- gated numbers attending sales by auction—by employing, in a word, all the arts by ehich an individual or a land company may legitimately endeavour to obtain the highest possible price—enormous prices were obtained by the Govern- ment. The desire to obtain town-lots, water-frontages, suburban-lots, and country-lands near the nominal 'capital' of a district, became a perfect mania in New South Wales ; industrious pursuits were neglected for mere specula- tion; the very circulating medium of the colony was absorbed into the Govern- ment-chest : the Government there and the officials here boasted of the enor- mous prices obtained by this Government land-jobbing, and derided those who yet favoured the quieter and safer method of a uniform price without compe- tition : but at last the bubbles burst, and one effect of the reaction is, (ge- neral distress and wide-spread ruin being among the others,) that there is no longer any demand for new land, and the emigration-fund has no existence for the present."
In the next case, the blame seems to belong exclusively to Lord STANLEY, who upholds the mischievous Governor and puts down the useful Company.
STOPPAGE OF COLONIZATION IN NEW ZEALAND.
" In New Zealand, the Local Government has adopted the same destructive method of selling land by exciting a factitious competition. By means of pro- claiming a desert :*spot as Auckland, the capital of New Zealand,' and the other arts before mentioned, the most extravagant prices have been obtained for town-lots and suburban lots; but the people whom this abuse of the im- mense power of Government attracted thither, have laid out their all on these speculative purchases, and the settlement is in a state of much distress and despondency for want both of capital and labour : the goose has been killed
for the golden eggs. In New Zealand, further, the large sum obtained by this sale of a 'capital' upon paper, instead of being used to bring people to the settlement, has been wasted by the Government ; and a large proportion of the
settlers at Auckland, the capital of New Zealand,' have petitioned the Home authorities for the Governor's recall. A similar petition has come from ' Russell,' another ' town' upon paper, where also the powerful influence of Government was misused in exciting a keen competition for land which can have no real value till there shall be people wanting to use it. But it is not to unwise land-jobbing by the Government in a corner of New Zealand that we are to attribute the stoppage of emigration to those
islands. So far as colonization has taken place in New Zealand, it has been the work of a Company. The settlements formed by the Company have had a prosperous career from the beginning; and they were steadily advancing at
the date of the latest accounts. This Company, it will be remembered, saved the islands from becoming a French convict settlement, and almost forced the Government to make them a British colony. When their contest with the Government ended, to Lord John Russell's honour be it said, in his forgive- ness of their rude opposition to him, and his adoption of them as a chief instru- ment of the Government for colonizing the islands, it was supposed that they would proceed with increased vigour and on a greater scale. And they did so throughout the year 1841 and part of 1842. They have now put a stop to their colonizing operations. Or rather, it should be said, that during the last twelvemonth the public has been losing confidence in their power to carry their own views into effect, and that thus their colonizing operations, which depend altogether on public confidence, have been stopped against their will. The cir- cumstances which have deprived them of the public confidence may be briefly told.
" In the first place, from the moment when Lord John Russell quitted the Colonial Office, they have been engaged in perpetual controversy with that department. Their differences with Lord Stanley became gradually known ; nobody could tell how these might end; and the confidence of the class of emi- grating capitalists in their power to fulfil engagements or promises has at length been completely shaken. " Secondly, when Lord John Russell made terms with them and granted them a charter, they laid down a plan of dealing with their own waste lands, which has been rendered impracticable by subsequent regulations of the Go- vernment. By their plan they spontaneously devoted to emigration a very large proportion of the gross proceeds of their sales: by the subsequent regula- tions of the Government they are compelled, in order to avoid ruin, to reserve their lands for sale without any view to using the proceeds of sales as a fund for emigration. " Thirdly, their right to the possession of any land at all, under their agree- ment with Lord John Russell, is questioned by the present Government ; and they can no longer, as honest men, sell an acre of land without declaring their own title to be precarious. In other words, their sales are stopped, and their emigration-fund has ceased.
" Fourthly, their settlements are exposed to the systematic hostility of the Local Government; which, instead of governing the settlements which it found and which might grow up in New Zealand, has been their jealous and vindictive rival in the business of colonizing. " Lastly, the Government of New Zealand is bankrupt : the extravagance of Captain Hobson has exceeded that of Colonel Gawler; the colony is largely in debt, and an application for its relief must be made to Parliament : so that the only prospect for years to come is the total disrepute of New Zealand as a field of Colonial enterprise. In this state of things, it would be madness in the Company to do aught but retrench their expenditure and wait for better times."
MORAL OF THE TALE.
" It was about the year 1841 that emigration to the Australian settlements and New Zealand reached its maximum. In twelve months nearly 40,000 persons quitted the United Kingdom to settle in these colonies. It was not a pauper emigration, like the greater part of that which takes place to Canada and the United States, but comprised a large proportion of persons taking capital along with them. This capital was removed, for the most part, in the shape of commodities; and the demand thus created for the produce of British in- dustry was very considerable. The value has been estimated at more than a million, and was known to exceed a quarter of a million for New Zealand alone. The demand for shipping created by this emigration presented a singular spec- tacle: so large a proportion of the business of the port of London be- longed to this trade, that its magnitude was a subject of common remark at the time, and its advertisements filled whole columns of the news- papers. Everybody conversant with the subject knows, that the wealth of the ;old country was not diminished by this emigration, but that it only gave activity to dormant capital, and took superfluous hands to fields abounding in employment for labour ; the ultimate effect in pros- pect being to create more market for our manufactures: for it was not a mere relief pro Canto from the competition of capital with capital and labour with labour at home—it was emigration forming part of colonization; and well- managed colonization means the creation of employment for capital and labour at home, by means of establishing new and continually increasing markets at a
distance. • • • • • •
" It is a notable coincidence, that systematic colonization should be stopped —that the hope of its rapid increase, hich was reasonably entertained at the close of Lord John Russell's career as Colonial Minister, should be frustrated— at the very moment when public opinion is settling into the belief, that even the safety of society iu this country depends on the use of all the means by which it shall be possible to enlarge continually the field of employment for capital and labour."
We must conclude with a word of our own respecting Canada. The permanence of the ASHBURTON-WEBSTER peace depends in a great measure on the tranquillity of the British province. Any attempt to undo Sir CHARLES BAGOT'S measures of conciliation— the mere suspicion of any design virtually to set aside the repre- sentative constitution of Canada, by giving power to the mino- rity—would disturb British America from one end to the other. Who is to be Sir CHARLES BAGOT'S successor ? Names are men- tioned, which cannot be too soon withdrawn from the gossip of the clubs and the Whig drawing-rooms, by announcing the appoint- ment of a man of undoubted capacity as Governor-General of Canada.