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serve . Its author , Earl Grey , has literally had his head turned : it not only violates his professed objects , but , as the Bishop of Oxford showed , its whole substance and force are such as Lord Grey denounced in his prime as Lord Howick . The measure is a gratuitous absurdity , unsupported by a reason . There has been no public demand for it in this country—nobody wants it . The sole motive to any attendance in Parliament was , that with the small knot of organized Tory
Opposition , willing to resist the Government on any subject , was united a zealous little band of men versed in the affairs of the colonies and eager to do justice . Members generally would rather have staid away , and the House would have passed the measure in sheer apathy , but the majority was summoned to its place in support of Government . The bill passes , therefore , because the majority of the Commons , caring naught for the colonies , dislikes the idea of a Ministerial crisis and its
troublesome consequences . Its author assures the Peers that the colonists want it . There is some speck of truth in this assurrance , but hidden to the mind of Lord Grey , who would not forward that truth if he knew it : he is as unconscious of it as the horse of the plans in the mind of the man that bestrides his back .
The assertion is mostly false , in the sense that Lord Grey would have the Peers understand . The colonists generally do not want the measure . They want something different . They have had two measures offered to them , both by Lord Grey , and one was so bad that this is accepted by comparison ; but on the substantial merits of the measure they have expressed no opinion .
Or , rather , they have expressed an adverse opinion . The leading independent member of the Legislative Council , Mr . Robert Lowe , —an English gentleman , who was chosen a Government nominee for his striking abilities and elevated understanding , but whose clear insight and conscience obliged him to act on behalf of the colony at large , resigning his office under Government , —has taken the opportunitv offered by a meeting of the Colonial
Reform Association in London , to explain the whole views of the colonial mind in New South Wales . In that colony the constitution intended by the bill already exists in its main features ; the bill professes to perpetuate that constitution in New South Wales , and to extend it to the other Australian Colonies , with a power of local revision and of establishing a federal Assembly . ' he Colonists do not want what the bill offers , they want what it does not give .
Their experience of a single Chamber , for instance , is unfavourable . In a single Chamber , like that of New South Wales , the Government nominees , with the help of a small balance-holding section among the elected representatives , override the majority . In this respect the nominees are thought by the promoters of the bill to act
beneficially as a check upon the otherwise dominant " Currency" population of Nevv South Walesthe population composed of convicts , or descended from that class . But the Colonists , as represented by Mr . Lowe , declare that the bill will destroy what is valuable in the actual constitution of their province ; especially that it would enable the dominant Convictism to erase from the constitution the class
of nominees ; and that by separating " Victoria , ' — that is , the Port Phillip district , —from New South Wales , it would remove from the constituency the only part untainted by Convictism , and would thus withdraw the six elected members who may be said to represent the Free Emigrant interest . The high exclusive franchise shuts out leaseholders ; the great aristocratic proprietors of the Colony being stock-owners who hold land on lease . The Currency folks are far beyond the Free Emigrants in wealth , far ahead of them in the acquisition of land . The bill , therefore , fills the Free Emigrant mind with alarm .
It makes no offer of the thing that they do want —relief from the remote and , therefore , unintelligent , but meddlesome and irresistible Government l » y the Colonial-office in Downing-street . They cannot establish a public tank without the consent of Mr . IIawes and his subordinates in Downingstreet ; and they , forming one of the most intelligent and energetic communities in the world , desire to be released from that frivolous and vexatious
controul . They would rather , they say , have a despotic governor on the spot than a despotic burnt u at the Antipodes . And they are right . The one speck of truth which the doomed Earl hears upon iiis back is this : some of the colonists lo not dislike the bill , but they belong to the
Currency race . As Mr . Lowe explains with truth , the bill is likely enough to develope in the colony precisely that class and that sort of strength which Lord Grey is the last man in the world to contemplate ; for it will throw great power into the hands of this Currency population . It may , indeed it probably will , place in the hands of that race the means of acquiring full power of self-government . The free emigrants , the " aristocratic" classes , the wealthy , and the thoroughly British , view this probability with dread ; a dread which will not seem unnatural when we look to a certain artificial
war of races occasioned by the distinctions of class in a convict colony , or when we look back at the horrible contaminations of convictism in its rampant days . But we do not share the alarm of the " Aristocratic " or Free Emigrant class : in believing that the Currency population of New South Wales will acquire ample means of self-management and self-development , we foresee no danger or mischief to Australia . There are many reasons for this
belief . The Currency class , descended from the ill-grown and stunted criminal population of Great Britain , is remarkable for its handsome growth and beauty : it is not , therefore , a degenerate race , but an improved race ; in short , it is a section of the Anglo-Saxon family specially favoured by the highly congenial soil of Australia . It has , consequently , not a degenerate but an improved form of the Anglo-Saxon faculties , and such a race can neither be bad nor foolish . We
believe that to gather from our colonial settlements the full advantage of which they are capable , ample scope must be given to the local tendencies of soil and climate ; that each colony must be permitted to develope for itself a certain distinct " nationality , " which is , indeed , nothing but another term for the full development of those peculiar faculties that soil , climate , and opportunity are calculated to call forth . Belonging to the English family , the
colonist should still be essentially and distinctively Canadian , West Indian , or Australian ; with national character , local institutions should correspond ; and to do so they must be in great part self-formed . The tendency of Lord Grey ' s bill , therefore , to develope a Currency democracy in New South Wales , is one which we view with no alarm , though it is certainly the last object in the mind of its author . Such unconscious instruments are men in the working of God ' s laws .
BEGINNING AT THE WRONG END . " Unless comfort can be made as habitual to a whole generation , as indigence is now , nothing is accomplished , and feeble half-measures do but fritter away resources far better reserved until the improvement of public-opinion and of education shall raise up politicians who will not think that , merely because a scheme promises much , the part of statesmanship is to have nothing to do with , it . "—John Stuart Mill .
In reading the benevolent speeches made by various noblemen and gentlemen at the meeting of the Society for Improving the Condition of the Labouring Classes , last week , one cannot help wondering at every speaker for carefully avoiding the slightest reference to the main cause which induces the wretched condition of the labouring population in large towns . Notwithstanding their familiar acquaintance with the rural districts , none
of the noblemen present seemed to be aware that the overcrowded state of those parts of London where the poor are " huddled together in indiscriminate tilth and confusion , " is mainly owing to the constant influx of unemployed labourers from the country . The Reverend Mr . Champneys said , "he had been struck with the great increase of births in those wretched localities , and the rapidity with which a large portion of the children were carried off . "
Did ib never occur to Mr . Champneys to enquire where all the fathers and mothers of those wretched infants come from ? By a recent parliamentary return we learn that the increase of population in the metropolis , during the last ten years , was 325 , 904 , or at the rate of 32 , 500 a year . Now , considering the awful amount of misery and destitution in London , from want of employment , as levealed in the valuable reports of the Morning Chronicle commissioners , it seems to us that the very first question to be settled by such a society as the one over which Lord John Russell presides is—how to prevent this dropsical accumulation of the labouring population in large towns ?
Five or six years ago Lord John Russell described the condition of the poor as much worse than it was at the beginning of the century , while that of the middle and higher classes was much better than it hud been them . And yet what a
wretched state was that « ' superior" one from which the poor have gradually been sinking , while the wealthy classes have been growing more and more wealthy . More than fifty years ago Lord Nelson , speaking of the country labourers in the place where he was then residing , says , " They are really in want of everything to make life comfortable : " but bad as their condition was then , it is far worse now ; as any one may see by looking at the operation of the New Poor-law in the rural districts . By means of that measure and other minor enactments , well contrived for the purpose , the landowners and farmers have succeeded in
driving the surplus labourers into the large towns , where thousands of them must either starve or maintain a wretched existence by theft and begging " . In the agricultural counties early marriages are quite as common and as prolific as they are in towns ; but the landowners contrive to saddle the towns with the support of all the increase of population . Emigration has done wonders in relieving the country of a large portion of its annual increase during the last three years ; but after all that relief , what a vast mass of pauperism and unemployed labour is still left behind !
In alluding to the cholera , the Earl of Harrowby remarked , that the investigations to which that calamity gave rise had taught us that" We best discharged our duty , not only to the poor , but to ourselves , by doing all we could for the improvement of the dwellings of the poor " : but , why not extend the same principle to all that can be done for improving the condition of the labouring classes ? If he will look a little deeper into the matter , the Earl might find that he and his fellownoblemen would best discharge their duty , not only to the poor , but to the wealthy , by straining every nerve to make comfort as habitual to the working
class as indigence and squalid misery are now . In speaking of the importance of erecting cheap and healthful dwelling houses in the heart of the City , Lord Ashley said , " he was addressing working men who would agree that the working man ' s house must be within reach of his employment" : but if this be true of the London artisan , it is no less true of the Dorsetshire labourer ; and we may remind Lord Ashley , that he and his colleagues will never be able to carry out any great improvement in town till they make the labourers more comfortable in the country . In Dorset , according to the Times reporter , the most note-worthy feature in the condition of the labourers , is the miserable
cottage accommodation : — " You may find in the day room of a hard-working labourer ' s family nothing but the damp uneven earth for a floor ; you may see in one corner a ladder , by which the inmates ascend to a loft , over which there is sometimes nothing but the wretched roof for a ceiling , the wind driving violently through upon the beds . * * * I went into a house , or more properly a barn , for it consists of a single room , and has neither floor nor ceiling . I found living there a widow $ nd her seven children .
There are two beds , but no curtains to either ; the three eldest sons are young farm-labourers , twenty , seventeen , and sixteen years old ; the daughters are younger . * * In another cottage the sleeping-room of the family contains two beds , in one of which the labourer and his wile sleep , with their two younnest children . In the other bed , which is cix feet four inches by four feet six inches , there sleep his unmarried niece , twenty years old , his daughter , aged thirteen , and four sons , aged eighteen , fifteen and a half , eight , and five . "
Such is the state of things in Dorsetshire , and there are many other counties not a whit better . The fact ia that the landlords will neither build new cottages nor repair the old . They take infinite pains to increase the number of partridges and pheasants on their estates ; some of them even go the length of encouraging the breed of foxes ; but , as for the labourers , who have more right to obtain a living from the soil than any other class , they are hunted off the land to make room for game . When the towns have become crowded to unhealthiness with thousands of evicted Irish , Highland , and linglish peasants , the cholera comes as a visitation , and " societies " are formed " to improve the con
dition of the poor , " in towns . None of the noblemen who are most active in promoting the very laudable object for which these societies are formed ever utter a word concerning that system of landmonopoly which has been the main cause of the evils they are vainly trying to cure , because they are " beginning at the wrong end . ' *
THE WORKING- TAILORS' ASSOCIATION . Tiiohk who are terrified at the idea of Socialism , and who fancy that in it is included all that undisciplined minds have dreamed of spoliation and forced division of property , should make such
June 15 , 1850 . ] ® t > t & * £ & *?? ~
Leader (1850-1860), June 15, 1850, page 275, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/l/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1842/page/11/