Emigration

[From the Dublin Penny Journal, Vol. 1, No. 3, July 14, 1832]

We freely confess that we are opposed to Emigration. We think that Ireland is perfectly able to support, not only her present population, but a vast deal more, if her capabilities were properly developed. This, however, is not in the power of the individual; and he naturally anxious to better his condition, and looking to the unsettled state of the country, casts his eye across the Atlantic for a settlement in the midst of Canadian forests, far away from the home of his forefathers.

Now in revolving the matter of Emigration, the following circumstances should be considered.

1st. Can you, or can you not, earn a livelihood sufficient to maintain yourself and your family in your native country? If you can, pause before you decide on going. It is a serious thing to leave country, friends, home, every thing near and dear in kith, kin, and recollection, for ever. Do not let flattering accounts deceive you; do not be led away with the flattering idea of possessing a fee simple estate, on which you can grow your own maple sugar, and make your own delicious peach brandy: think upon the forest, and its gigantic trees; think upon the toil, the incessant toil, requisite to clear your acres, and that your own physical strength will be the means alone of doing it; and if your body is weakened by low living, the consequence of scarcity both of money and provisions, think upon the days of fatigue, and nights of exhaustion; think upon the difficulty of supporting a family during the first winter, in the midst of a thick wood, your rude log house, your rude furniture, the intensity of the cold and the snow in winter, and the intensity of the heat and the musquitoes in summer; if you have just as much money as will land you in Montreal or Quebec, think upon wandering through their streets, the victim of want of employment, and exposed to all its horrors in a strange place; or if you reach the woods, think upon ague, marsh fever, and malaria; think upon bad roads, or no roads, bad provisions, or no provisions, the difficulty of disposing of your crop when you raise one, the possible danger (for it is possible, and very possible too) of bears destroying your cattle, if you have any, of the racoons and squirrels (of which there are plenty,) destroying your corn crops, and of rats and mice eating the seed of your Indian corn after it is in the ground: think upon these and more than these, before you resolve on going; and if you can earn a livelihood at home, the probability is, that you will stay where you are.

2d. But on the other hand, if you are determined on going, and are prepared to look danger, and toil, and privation straight in the face, and your wife and children are prepared to accompany you, and share your privations, and partake of your fatigues, and if you possess as much money as will not merely pay your passage over, but carry you into the woods, and enable you to bring provisions with you on which you can live for a time, the following are some of the advantages which may be derived from Emigration:- Employment, incessant employment you will be sure to have: but if you are an industrious man, constant employment will bestow vigour on the frame, (if you have something with you to eat, for there are no shops or provision stores in a forest.) and also bring contentment to the mind. If you hire yourself out as a labourer, you will get about 2s. 6d. a day, and as a skilful mechanic, sometimes as high as 5s. with victuals; if you work on your own land, the soil being naturally new and fresh, will give a good return for the labour bestowed upon it. Besides the ordinary grain, you can grow maize, garden vegetable produce, and fruit of all kinds luxuriantly. You can make your own malt, brew your own beer, make your own candles and sugar; raise your own tobacco, and tan your own leather, without dread of being exchequered. Your taxes will be light; while the mind is soothed by the reflection, that every day and month and year of toil and privation is but laying the foundation of future ample provision for the family. These considerations must weigh strongly with any sensible, virtuous man; and if any of the readers of our Journal are thinking of emigrating, we would just say to them, "Look upon this picture and look upon that;" revolve both advantages and disadvantages; and once you resolve to go, let your resolution be put in practice with prudence and manly vigour of mind; but if you shrink from the toils and privations of clearing an estate in the Canadian forest, and can live at home, we beseech you stay at home!

Having taken the liberty of giving these few hints on Emigration, we think we may give an interesting scene from Captain Hall's very amusing "Travels in North America," published in 1829. He visited, in the month of July 1827, the settlement formed by the Irish emigrants who were sent to Canada at the expense of Government in 1825. There were 2024 settlers sent out, at the total cost of £21 5s. 4d. per head, each family being supplied with provisions for fifteen months, and a hundred acres of land, besides a cow, and other minor aids. They were selected generally as being the most destitute, and incapable of providing for themselves or their families in their own country. Captain Hall entered into conversation with a shrewd old emigrant- but the man took the alarm at his numerous questions, and the agent of the settlement, who accompanied Captain H. begged him, as a favour to tell him how he was getting on.

"What shall I say to the gentleman?" inquired Cornelius. "Why, Cornelius, tell the truth."

"Sure I always do that! But if I knew what the gentleman wanted, I would know what to answer!"

"Well, then, Cornelius," said the Captain, "would you like to be set down in Ireland, just as you were before you came away?" "I would, Sir!"

"Then why do you stay here?"

"Och, the boys, Sir—it's the boys."

"What boys, Cornelius?"

"Och, my boys, my two sons, like this counthry very well; they have chopped twenty acres of land, and we have got crops of wheat and oats, and Indian corn, and potatoes, and some turnips-all coming up, and ready to cut-and the boys like their independence. Its a fine counthry, Sir, for a poor man, if he be industrious: and if it wer'nt for the ague, a good counthry, and a rich one, too; though to be sure, its rather out of the way-the roads are very bad, and the winther very cowld; yet there is always plenty to eat, and sure employment, and good pay for them that like to work."

Captain Hall then remarked that he was in a very good way, and ought to be grateful to them that sent him out, when he exclaimed, "for all that, I might have done very well in Ireland !"

"Why the plague, then, did you come out here?"

"Och, Sir," said Cornelius laughing, "the boys, the poor boys, Sir. Their mother - may she rest in pace - I buried her long ago, and I said I would never put another woman over them. So you see, Sir, the boys would go, and I would'nt part them, and we all came out, and if it wer'nt for the ague and the bad roads, and the hard work, we would be happy all the day long !"

We think this gives a tolerable fair picture of what emigration is, and what Cornelius's countrymen may expect when they go to Canada. If they put up with the ague, bad roads, and hard work, they may in course of time render themselves independent.


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