The Australian, Sydney
12 October 1827
So interesting is the subject of emigration at the present moment, that I beg to offer a few remarks upon that and other subjects in connexion with it.
Colonization of our Indian territories, was recommended some time back; but the idea of peopling a country swarming with 130 millions of inhabitants, appeared to me completely at variance with sense.
I now perceive it is recommended to colonize Tenaserium, which is not so absurd a speculation as the former, on account of the scanty population; but still it is a hot climate, and, having myself had a spell in the tropics, I may, without presumption, mention a few facts concerning climate.
Lets us suppose a colony of Britons arrived at some port in Tenuserim; taking it for granted that no rich emigrants are among them, but they are all of the middling or labouring classes; they must of necessity clear ground and build houses themselves, for they could not afford to hire the natives to do it, even, supposing there should be any natives at the spot fixed on.
After this, the colonists would have to prepare ground for their farms or plantations; and here is the tug of war.
Europeans are unequal, to the fatigues and sufferings of downright continual daily hard labour in a hot climate; for, although our English soldiers undergo fatiguing marches and labour during harassing campaigns in India and Africa, yet their employment, with its occasional intervals of halts and rest, and their minds being continually kept alive with the interest inspired by the spenes of their profussion, is widely different from that of poor agricultural labourers, who emigrant, and who would have to earn their daily food by continual, daily hard work, without a glimpse of relaxation; frequently dispirited with poor fare; besides they would sink into apathy and listlessness after the novelty of the change was worn off.
I have dug, I have planted, and gardened, in India; and although I was a stronger man than many of the natives, yet I found I could neither cope, with them in bearing the sun, in quantity of work performed, or in continuance at it; it is true I was not brought up to hard manual labour, but what I did, I did with the strength of a European, for a short period, as an amusement; but I, or any other white man, gone out daily to work in the fields under a vertical sun, a violent fever would soon have terminated my mortal career; and this is the fate, I confidently predict, will attend most or all who emigrate to Tenaserim.
However, there is nothing like trying the experiment, which I shall be glad to see attended with success; should it take, place, I trust our people will act prudently, and avoid those occasions which cause fever; as inordinate fatigue, unless exposure to the mid-day sun and the heavy dews of night, sitting or lying in cool draughts of wind when exceedingly heated and fatigued; owing to which I have known several of my friends attacked with a fever, of many months' continuance with some, and, I regret to say, fatal to others.
But a country the most nearly assimilating in climate to England is where emigration ought to have more encouragement than it does, and that country is Australia;* for, although a warm climate, its summer is milder than the heat of India, and its winter is milder than that of England; and were we to surround its coasts with new colonies, they could, being all members of one family, assist each other by means of small coasting vessels, which in process of time might grow into a trade of higher importance as well as a nursery for seamen.
But there exists a very natural prejudice among our poor fellow-subjects against mixing' with convicts, I would therefore suggest that no more convicts be sent to Sydney or Hobart Town, and that other penal settlements be established at a considerable distance from those ports.
It seems desirable to fix upon situations for new settlements about the 25th degree of south latitude, say Shark's Bay, in the rear of Isle Dorre, and another bay in the rear of Dirk Hartog's island; these being at too great a distance from the old establishment to present any encouragement to convicts to desire.
But here a new question presents itself; that part of New Holland being claimed by the Dutch, it would be necessary to obtain it from them, either by purchase or exchange.
This subject was brought to the notice of his Majesty's Government long since, as New Holland is locally more fit to belong exclusively to England than to be shared by different nations; for if ever: there should be any foreign colonies intermixed with our own, it would be productive of endless broils; and it is morally certain they would fall an easy prey to us on the first breaking out of a war.
That part of New Holland claimed by the Dutch is not, and never, will be, of any use to that nation, whose eastern possessions will always require their whole power to keep; in fact, the Dutch have got more colonies already in that quarter than they can well manage.
Nor would New Holland benefit the French any more than the Dutch, for the purpose of colonization; as neither of those nations is so overburdened with population as England:
One hint more and I have done. - While private societies are prosecuting discoveries at a great expense among the savage nations and in the devouring climate of Africa, it seems surprising that that most interesting portion of the globe, New Holland, should remain an enigma in this enquiring and enterprizing age; a country, too, in which there are few inhabitants, and those almost as simple and inoffensive as primitive nature can make them.
If the French had had colonies there, that nation would have set us a better example.
A new penal settlement on the western coast, and another at or near Encounter Bay in Bass's Straits (where it is conjectured by some scientific men the mouths of the Lachlan river are stopped up by bars**), would be safe and convenient points for fresh travellers to set out from for the interior; and a few months would lay open to us, not only the curious topography of that, country, but a rich accession to natural history.
I am, Sir, your's, &c. Feb. 1827 T.J.M.
* It is astonishing how some people are blinded by their prejudices, how some of our great men can cherish that darling of their, hopes, Canada; in defiance of the most staring conclusions.
Setting aside the severity, of a six months' winter, we are imperceptibly adding to the wealth of a near and unfriendly nation, by every individual whom we send out to Canada; as, in the common course of events, they will become alienated from the country of their birth in consequence of being so hear a republican atmosphere, which can never be the case in Australia.
Nothing can prevent a certain nation arriving at a power which will, ere long, bid us defiance on that side the water; while on the other hand Canada is not a country conducive to the increase of population in the same ratio.
The future result must be palpable to the same benighted understanding.
**Travellers have proceeded in the direction of Encounter Bay to within, forty miles of the sea, and reported that "the view from the top of a high hill sea-ward, presented an uninterrupted flat country, thickly covered with wood, in which they; could see no traces of a river."
But this cannot be received as any proof of there being no river, or that the Lachlan does not flow (having its course through the fenny and inundated country) in that direction after a very winding course; for I have myself come suddenly upon a fine river in the thickest woods in Travancore, where I least expected to see such a beautiful sight.
The great height of the trees and their luxuriant tops, in tropical countries, almost blind the inequalities of the ground, and, to use the words of a Ceylon traveler, only present a bird's-eye view of "an ocean of wood."