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The Effects of Emigration.

gration." It may be questioned whether there is not as much aid as can safely be given from the public funds, and whether to increase it might not be doing evil. A large government emigration might, like the bleeding of the human body, produce only a temporary effect, and in doing so might induce recklessness, and destroy vigilance, activity and prudence. It is not to such aid we would look. Without increasing the amount of what is given by government or individuals, much might be done by a more judicious direction of the latter. Such a system would tend to better the condition of the labouring classes, and therefore deserves the notice of this Society.

Many, for instance, we all know, are now occasionally assisted in our towns by benevolent individuals or associations. How much more effective might not this relief be, if instead of being given in small sums, it were bestowed at once and with the special view of enabling its objects to take advantage of the offer of the Emigration Commissioners.[1] One case relieved in this manner would be equivalent to several on any other principle. Mendicancy would not be encouraged. The intending emigrant would be put into the way of realising the glorious privilege of being independent; and, as we showed before, his fellow-countrymen, though not relieved directly by the same individual or association, would be so indirectly. In this manner there could be a thorough investigation into the eligibility of each person—an investigation much more efficient than can possibly be made by the Emigration Commissioners, whose transactions must necessarily be on a large scale.

Another object, too, could be accomplished by this plan, which the Emigration Commissioners profess themselves unable at present to effect. Their object, they say, is not to consider how distress may be best relieved here, but how the most suitable persons for the colony may be procured. But by the system of benevolence now suggested, the other object also would be secured—a proper selection would be made for the colony, at the same time that pauperism would effectually be removed. Thus many of the charities of our city would accomplish much more of their real intention. To grant occasional relief resembles, in too many cases, the eternal revolutions of Ixion's wheel, or the operation of Sisyphus, in the poetical description of the lost. Such a mode as this might make the wheel cease to revolve, and place the stone on the top of the hill. It is not so much new laws that are required, not so much more extensive charities, as a more judicious application of the old.

  1. Since writing the above, I have met with a somewhat similar view by Mr. J. S. Mill. In showing the impracticability of emigration being efficiently carried out by a private company, this writer suggests the following course:—"The only other resource is the voluntary contributions of parishes or individuals, to rid themselves of surplus labourers, who are already, or who are likely to become, locally chargeable on the poor-rate. Were this speculation to become general, it might produce a sufficient amount of emigration to clear off the existing unemployed population, but not to raise the wages of the employed; and the same thing would require to be done over again in less than another generation."—Elements of Pol. Ec. book 5, ch. xi., s. 14. It may be remarked that, us the poor must be assisted in some way, the difficulty suggested in the conclusion of this passage offers no serious objection to the view put forward in the text.