The Ashburton Guardian. Magna est Veritas et Prevalebit. FRIDAY, JANUARY 6, 1882. Life in the Colonies.
TOWN EDITION. '•! ' [.lssued at 4.50 p. v*. j
In a recent issue of the Dunedin Star appeared a letter under the signature of “ Unemployed,” in which the writer asks : “Is it not hard for a young man on his arrival in New Zealand, after using all his efforts to obtain work, to be compelled to dispose of his wearing apparel and other things of daily necessity until all his hopes are scattered to the winds, and he is without food to eat and a place to lay his head, and thus renders himself liable to be brought under the Vagrant Act?” This is, it appears, the sad experience of the writer, and his case is not a solitary one. h here are, unhappily, hundreds of su h cases in these colonies. Perhaps it is hardly taking an exaggerated view of the matter if we say that 40 or 50 per cent, of the young men who emigrate from the Old Country to seek their fortunes in New Zealand and Australia would have doue far better had they remained at Home. Numbers come but because they have never been able to make a living in the Old Country, fondly imagining that a journey of 16,000 miles will enable them to overcome the obstacles they have been battling with so long and so unsuccessfully on the other side of the world. There may be, and doubtless are, exceptions to the rule, but as a general thing it may be safely laid down that if a man has not the ability to make his way at home, he will stand but a poor chance of doing so out here. “ There is more elbow-room in the colonies,” say the advocates of emigration at Home, and so there is ; but it is only the energetic, pushing, and perservering people who are likely to benefit by that increased elbow-room. To the thriftless, dissipated, or good-for-nothing it is no greater advantage to starve in the colonies than in London or Birmingham. When Anthony Trollope, who visited Australia and New Zealand some few years ago, presented his two volumes contain-
ing the record of his adventures and impressions of colonial life to the public he stated in the preface, that up to; that date no fewer than lour hundred works on the colonies had been published, and he apologised for issuing the four hundreth and first. And yet an astonishing amount of ignorance re? specting these same colonies exists at Home. Geographically speaking, a large number of people at Horne have but very hazy notions respecting the Britain of the South and “ that isle of continent,” as Tennyson calls Australia. We think it is Lady Barker who, in one of her chatty books, tells the story of the London lady who having a friend about to sail for New Zealand observed, “ You are going to New Zealand, very likely you will come across a cousin of mine out there.” An enquiry on the part of the friend as to the supposed whereabouts of the cousin elicited the intelligence that he resided “ somewhere in Brisbane !” Of course such gross ignorance is very exceptional, but still there can be no question that very much misconception exists, not only as to the geography of the colonies but also as to their resources and the prospects they hold out to the emigrant. A friend of the writer’s was travelling on one occasion by one of the Union steamboats from Port Chalmers to Lyttelton. Amongst the passengers was a new chum, who happened to mention that he had a letter of introduction to a certain Captain —. The new arrival was considerably astonished when someone informed him that Captain commanded the very vessel he was then aboard of. He lost no time in seeking out the captain and presenting his credentials. The skipper received the youth very courteously, and enquired what he was going to do. The new chum did not know. Had he any friends in the colony? the captain asked. He had not. Was he acquaintad with any trade or profession ? He was not. Had he ever done anything in the way of earning his bread ? He had not. Had he (this very delicately) any means? He had not. “Well,” at length said the captain “ what may I enquire are you going to do ?” “ Oh, I suppose,” said the new chum with much resignation, “ I shall have to go in for this squatting The captain said no more. The fact is emigration should receive more careful consideration at the hands of the intending emigrant than it usually receives. If that intending emigrant would only go through a preliminary course of colonial reading, the perusal that is of a few good works on the colonies before he finally made up his mind to come out, he would gain at least some idea of the place he was proposing to make his home, and the life he might expect to lead when he reached it. Too often the new chum finds the colonies do not come up to his expectations, and he returns home after a very brief experience of them disappointed and disgusted to give anything but a favorable account of them to his friends at Home, and thereby prevent perhaps really eligible men from trying their luck amongst us.