Page:Canterbury Papers.djvu/13

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


Nọṣ 1 & 2.


The following sketch was the first document published by the Association. It contains the earliest outline of the Plan which has been formed for the establishment of the Canterbury Settlement, and of the views on which that Plan is founded.

It has now become a truism to say that, as a nation, we do not take—indeed, never have taken—a proper view of our duties and responsibilities as the founders of Colonies. The ancients sent out a full representation of the parent state, a complete segment of society, to become the germ of a new nation. They carried with them their gods, their rites, their festivals; nothing was left behind that could be moved, of all that the heart and eye of an exile misses. Under the influence of such consolations for the loss of home, men of all classes yielded to the natural feeling of restlessness and desire for scope and room which is produced by the pressure of population in an old country, a feeling not only excusable but laudable, and evidently implanted by Providence for the purpose of carrying out the scheme by which the earth is replenished and subdued.

It is humiliating to reflect on the contrast which modern colonizing operations have exhibited; most of our emigrations have been composed almost entirely of one class, and that class the one which is least able to take care of itself, as regards the preservation of all the higher elements of civilization. Driven from their mother country by the difficulty of obtaining subsistence, they found themselves in the British colonies strangers in a strange land. They got comparatively rich, doubtless; at any rate they lived better, and provided for their families better, than they could have done at home; but at what price were these advantages purchased! If the institutions and arrangements of British society be (as we are in the habit of considering them) wholesome and desirable; or if, whether wholesome and desirable or not, they have become essential to the comfort and happiness of those who have grown up under their shadow, how painful and injurious must be the shock when the habits, feelings, and associations which are produced by them, and which have become so deeply rooted in the moral being of an English emigrant, are suddenly torn away! It is no wonder if we find that society in our colonies, originating as it did under such circumstances, has so often presented but a defaced resemblance to that of the parent state, while exhibiting, in an exaggerated form, some of the worst characteristics of our age and country. How could it be otherwise? Let us consider the position of the poor and uneducated emigrant, in his adopted country. He has been accustomed to seek from the affluent and cultivated class above him, relief in distress, and advice in difficulty; members of that class rarely emigrate under our present system. He has been used to go to the neighbouring church; in the new settlement he has access if at all, certainly with difficulty, to any place of worship. He has children old enough to go to school; he needs religious rites and consolations; the schoolmasters and clergymen are few in number, and widely dispersed. In short, no care has been taken to make due provision for the cravings of his moral nature; we have thought of our colonists chiefly as of