BOOKS ON EMIGRATION.
MR. PICKEN'S book on Emigration to the Canadas is perhaps the fullest and most complete compilation yet designed for the use of the emigrant. It contains, besides a general introduction, a pretty complete topographical description of the various townships of Upper and Lower Canada, With various instructions and tables of fares and other expenses for travellers, together with copies of the different papers of regulations, rules for emigrants, advice and par- ticulars of freight, accommodations, agents, as respects the voyage, and the conditions and terms under which land is sold by the Canada Company and by Government. There is also a late re- port, printed by order of Parliament, made to Lord GODERICH by Mr. RICHARDS, on the present state of the Canadas, with a view to the reception and employment of emigrants. This is reprinted entire. In addition, we find numerous quotations from previous writers on the country,—such as TALBOT, BELL, HOWISON, PICKERING, and others, containing their experience on essential points. There is a map, which is from an excellent original, and is tolerably precise: its fault is in the engraving—we cannot tell the edge of a lake from the course of a river.
Thus it may be seen, that Mr. PICKEN has endeavoured to sup- ply the emigrant with every thing excepting that which no book can supply—practical experience. We have perused the work with great care, and can really suggest no fault of omission. But we must quarrel with the crudeness of the compilation. The book is a bulky one ; and we would recommend the rOdactettr to take it into his serious consideration whether he could not, by the mere process of digestion, reduce the whole into one third of the com- pass. In performing this task, he would do well to change en- tirely the method of procedure. At present it is so confused and lumbering, that, for our parts, we fbund it a far lighter task to peruse the whole First and the latter part of the Second Volume of BOUCHETTE'S great work, which relate to the same subject,—and to which Mr. PICKEN has been as much indebted, by the way, as to the papers of Mr. GALT (or rather the papers of the Canada Company), whose name is so ostentatiously brought forward in the titlepage.
The work is divided into two grand divisions,—Topographical Sketches ; and Travelling to the Canadas. The topographical Sketches form a description of the two Canadas, on various scales —sometimes very general, sometimes very minute : but is this the first or chief thing that an emigrant requires? The travelling is more adapted to a tourist than an emigrant. Mr. RICHARDS'S report brings up the rear: it will necessarily be useful, as the latest general survey of the progress in the country, now making; nevertheless, it is the worst report, in our opinion, a government ever published. It is a wretchedly ill-drawn up ac- count of the author's tour; followed by a diatribe on commerce, colonies, and shipping, and a strong recommendation to use bad timber instead of good, by way of encouragement to the Navy, and to pay a halfpenny a pound more for sugar, in order to continue the distress of the West Indies. This Commissioner RICHARDS was sent out by Sir GEORGE MURRAY, but Lord Howicir has put his signature on the docket : he probably could not do otherwise, and we cannot blame its being printed. There is necessarily some information in it; but we may be permitted to condemn the whole- sale transfer of such a document into the pages, and in the largest type of a book, signed by Mr. PICKEN, and countersigned, as it were, by Mr. GALT.
There is a paper in the Appendix, worth twenty such re- ports: it is Mr. PHILEMON WRIGHTS history of his settle- ment of the township of Hull on the Ottawa, written by himself; and delivered to a Committee of the House of Assembly of Lower Canada, in 1820. It ought to form a part of every Emi- grant's Guide. Mr. PHILEMON WRIGHT removed from Woburn in Massachusetts, in 1800, with about five-and-twenty labourers, their families, and a few teams of horses and oxen, and all kinds of agricultural instruments, into the very heart of a wild country on the banks of the Ottawa. He had bought a very considerable district from the Government, and probably possessed three or four thousand pounds (the exact amount of his capital is not stated) : by means of perseverance, skill, and enterprise, his project was gtadually realized, and in 1824 his farming-stock and buildings alone were valued at near sixty thousand pounds. He is the patriarch of an immense district; and his family arc the most powerful and wealthy persons in the West of Canada. This is the result of a conversion from the wilderness in twenty-four years. Mr. WRIGHT, however, has not only enriched himself, and spread happiness and content in his immediate neighbourhood, but he has opened sources of wealth and prosperity to the whole district. He was the first who sent timber down to Quebec by the channel on the north of the Isle of Montreal. It was done on his own judg- ment, in opposition to the " impossibility," as represented by the inhabitants there of nearly two hundred years standing. The trade now employs many thousand men. It is said the settlement of Mr. WRIGHT enjoyed peculiar advantages : it is true that it was selected out of a wide extent of country, by a shrewd and cautious observer, and this selection augured equal judgment in the management of it. The disadvantages were probably much greater than the extra advantages. In the first instance, it was no light matter to transport his wains and sleighs, and cattle of burden, and stock, and the labourers and their families, through a roadless country, and along ice that was obliged to be probed or tapped before it could be trusted, and this for upwards of one hundred and twenty miles from Montreal. Then again, the Indians disputed the territory, and the discussioi demanded judgment and temper. It was amicably settled. Misfortunes did not fail to visit the new settler, as they do all settlers : they were many and great. On one occasion, all the mills and other buildings were burnt down, and in the barns was contained the result of the 'whole harvest. Of the extent of this loss, some idea may be formed from the fact that a hemp-mill alone, one of three mills burnt, cost 300/. In looking over these books, it is impossible not to be struck with the blind and random manner in which-Emigration has been carried on. Every thing having been left to individual ex- ertion, many efforts have been made, but the results have perished in remote and insulated points ; germs of colonization have sprung up, prospered for a brief moment, and decayed, -which, had they been applied on a system of cooperationand mutual aid, would have been productive of the highest social and commercial advantages. Canada might at this moment have been swarming into the West, like the United States, instead of supporting a poor, weakly, and scattered population, hungering for labourers, and at the same time starving for capital. Civilization, lying in feeble, unassisted knots, separated by huge blocks of Crown or Clergy reserves, or the forgotten and untouched grants of ab- sentees, has been long struggling into day. At this moment something like communication is being established; and a general principle of life is becoming felt throughout the country ; and emigration, pauper and squalid as it may be, is a blessing. The work of Mr. COLTON is a little volume in praise of the Valley of the Mississippi, which is now becoming the grand theatre of home emigration or internal movement in the United States. There are various reasons for thinking that this glorious valley will become the real centre and body of the United States in no long time. The activity going on, as described by Mr. Con- TON, is exceedingly inspiriting. He, of course, prefers and recom- mends settlement in the extensive districts of Ohio, Indiana, the Illinois, to any other country. A British subject, however, may think differently.
We value this little book more for its eloquent and enlightened eulogy of the United States Constitution, and the working of it, than for any use it may be of to emigrants. One chapter, which may be useful in this country, as matter of reflection to those who have been afraid of the effects of the Reform Bill, we feel gratified.
in. being able to extract.
It is generally understood that the Government of the United States is Re- publican. It is even democratic, so far as this epithet indicates the people as the source of power. It is not democratic, however, in the wild and turbulent sense of this term. As the people of the United States have been accustomed to govern themselves for more than half a century, by a periodical election of their legislators and rulers, which period is for the most part annual, the use of this prerogative has long since (I might say from the beginning) become a sober and practical business. It is true, indeed, that in the conflicting interests of political parties, nearly equal, popular elections are not unfrequently conducted with great spirit. But whenever the will of the majority is announced, the mi- nority submit as to the decision of irrevocable law. It is their own law, which may yet turn to their advantage, and will, at least, always secure their equal rights. The government of the people, by a majority of voices, is an acknow- ledged and sacred principle; and no one thinks of rising against it, anymore than against a decree of heaven. And there is never a necessity for the majority to violate law, because it is always in their power to change it when it does nbt suit them. Even constitutional, or fundamental law, may be changed and mo- dified by the people, and has actually been done in many of the states, not through the ordinary constitutional legislators, but by a special convention, chosen by the people fur this purpose. And experience proves, that it can be done as dispassionately, and with as much safety, as the ordinary business of legislation under the constitution itself. When the constitution of a state is found, by experiment, not to work to the best advantage, on account of some defects, and when the people are generally convinced of it, the legislative as- sembly orders a convention of delegates to he chosen, to revise and emend this fundamental and sacred instrument, according to their wisdom. And it is apt to be made better. And the constitution of the general government has been three several times amended, and still has some defects ' • which will doubtless yet
be removed, and that without difficulty or danger, before many years. • The reasons why these attempts to amend constitutional law in the United States are perfectly safe, if a government of popular influence may be supposed to be best, are two : First—It is impossible that the general and state govern- ments should be more purely democratic than they actually are ; and next— The people being. naturally jealous of their rights, and having governed them- selves so long, it is morally impossible that they should resign it to other hands. That a few men should have a leading influence, is natural, necessary, and bet in any community. But when in the government of the United States, these few are seen to abuse that influence, which may easily. be shown to thepeOBle (for there is always an opposition to every government in popular hands), the people have only to wait for the return of the next•election to change their rulers. 'f he government of the United States, therefore, must, by moral necessity, for ever act in accordance with the wishes of the majority of thepeople. And if the government be bail, it is only-because and so far as the people are bad. -It is still the government of the .people. And as the legitimate object of a govern- ment, in its domestic policy, is to protect the people against each other, every community, left to the uncontrolled and sovereign election of their own rulers, will always find it convenient to have a good government. And as to the in:. reign policy of such a government as that of the United States, if at any time- it
happens to be bad, it will soon begin to operate disadvantageously upon the peo- ple ; and the same remedy of a change of rulers is open to them by the elective franchise.
• The only imaginable peril of such a government arises from two assumptions: ,one, that the people, having the power to remodel the constitution of their own government, have nothing to defend themselves against themselves, when they may happen not to be wise and good enough to take care of themselves ; the next, that the fickleness of the popular mind is liable to embarrass and defeat any good system of domestic or foreign policy. As to the first assumption, it may be observed, first, that the prevailing po- pular desire of a change in the constitutional law of a popular government is not very naturally a desire to make the government less popular, or essentially. to affect its radical principles, but rather to remedy incidental and substantial evils, andto secure a more effectual and easy administration—to remedy evils which have forced themselves upon the public, as a grievance, by a satisfactory course of ac- tual experiment. And secondly, if the majority of such a community should happen to be so unnatural as to turn and prey upon themselves (which is not very probable), the minority will have just cause of complaint. And in such an event, the minority are likely soon to make the majority, and of course will have it in their power to rectify the mischief. And as to the peril of any good system of domestic or foreign policy, arising from the fickleness of the popular mind, it is a paradox that the mind of the many is more likely to change than the mind of the few. Indeed, it would be as impossible to produce a sudden change in the mind of a great community, on any great question of state policy, foreign or domestic, as to root up a mountain from a continent and throw it into the sea. Such a thing never was done, and never can be done. The objection, if there be any, must lie on the other score— that public opinion cannot be made to yield soon enough to meet the unexpected and sudden exigencies of state policy, which may sometimes occur. And these are exigencies in which a popular government must assume the responsibility of acting on its own discretion, and make its appeal and await its trial before the popular mind. And whether it is better to make a government independent of the people, for the sake of securing some of the advantages which might rarely accrue from a sudden change of state policy, or to abide the issues of the more steady and uniform course of a general and popular opinion, may safely be sub- mitted.
I might extend these observations ; but my object is only to give a general notion of the government of the United States, as being of popular construc- tion, for popular control and uses.
I am aware that the belief has been entertained, and frequently uttered and recorded on this side of the Atlantic, by those who know little either of the government or people of the United States, that the permanency of the institu- tions of that republic is yet problematical ; and that the example and fate of all former popular governments are against the probability of the permanency of this. To make this argument sound, requires to establish the likeness between the cases referred to and the United States. The truth is, there is little or no likeness, except in name. It is true, indeed, that the permanency of such a popular government depends upon the general prevalence of that amount of in- telligence and virtue among the people which are indispensable to self-govern- ment. And there are good and sufficient reasons to expect that such will con- tinue to be the character of that people. They have actually governed them- selves successfully and triumphantly for more than half a century, and have risen to a condition of unexampled prosperity ; and it is time that the symptoms of dissolution should begin to show themselves, if they are likely to appear at all. But the progress of the government and the experiment of its institutions have only rendered them more co:Ill:act and firm. They have been so long enjoyed and cherished, that they have become incorporated with the affections and sjin- pathies of the people, and identified with their dearest earthly expectations. They have not been shaken by time and change, but only settled down upon a firmer basis. The intelligence and virtue of the people have grown with their growth ; and they are consequently not the less, but more capable of governing themselves, than at any former period. The character and prospects of the people of the United States are not to be estimated by the example and fate of any nation that ever existed. They are radically and thoroughly diverse. - We lately noticed • Mr. MUDIZS Pocket Companion for Emi- grants. • Too much of its space was occupied in dissertation : we very much wish, however, that Mr. MUDIE'S skill in compiling had been employed on Mr. PICKEN'S materials, arid the work would have been far more useful.