A LETTER FROM MAJOR ROBERT CARMICHAEL-SMYTH TO HIS FRIEND THE AUTHOR OF "THE CLOCKMAKER,"
CONTAINING Thoughts on the Subject OF A BRITISH COLONIAL RAILWAY COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE ATLANTIC AND THE PACIFIC, FROM THE MAGNIFICENT HARBOUR OF HALIFAX, IN NOVA SCOTIA (NORTH-EASTERN AMERICA), TO THE MOUTH OF FRAZER'S RIVER, IN NEW CALEDONIA (NORTH-WESTERN AMERICA), OR SUCH OTHER PORT AS MAY BE DETERMINED UPON.
* * *
"Let those, who discard speculations like these as wild and improbable, recur to the state of public opinion at no very remote period on the subject of Steam Navigation.
"Within the memory of persons not yet past the meridian of life the impossibility of traversing by Steam Engine the channels and seas that surround and intersect these islands was regarded as the dream of enthusiasts."
DR. LARDNER, 1840.
* * *
LONDON: W. P. METCHIM, 20, PARLIAMENT STREET.
* * * * *
"It is the duty—the imperative duty—of every individual (however humble) to express conscientiously, but calmly, his public opinions, for by such means truth is elicited." Hence it may be permitted the writer of the annexed Letter to observe, that a momentous question is now brought to the notice of the people of Great Britain,—that it ought not to be neglected, until perhaps a voice from her colonial children may go forth proclaiming "it is too late,"[see Note 64]—for then the opportunity of uniting in firm and friendly bonds of union "this wondrous empire on which the solar orb never sets" will have passed away for ever.
——"Dum loquimur fugerit invida AEtas: carpe diem quam minimum credula postero."
* * *
 Montgomery Martin's History of the British Colonies, 1843; and to that work the writer of the following pages begs to refer all those who take an interest in the British North American Colonies. And if so humble an individual might be allowed to offer his advice, he would strongly recommend the republication, in a volume by itself, of the part connected with the North American Colonies.
"I shall tell you A pretty tale; it may be, you have heard it; But, since it serves my purpose, I will venture To scale't again."
"The duty of Government is first to regulate the stream of Emigration, so that if a man be determined on leaving the United Kingdom he may settle in one of its Colonies."—Montgomery Martin, 1843.
"At this moment, when renewed attention is turned to all the Routes which, during ages past, have from time to time been talked about, as best fitted for a link of communication between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,"—we call upon the people of Great Britain and her Government to reflect, that—the best and shortest link of communication—the great link required to unite all her dominions in one powerful chain—is now in her own possession,—that—"it is in vain to inculcate feelings of brotherhood among mankind by moral influence alone; a sense of community of interest must be also established,"—that Great Britain can, in the opening of the Route proposed, at the same time employ her own Children at home and abroad, as well as her own continually increasing Capital.
That—"we have superabundance of Capital—a plethora of Talent—Scientific and Commercial—they only want an outlet to be beneficially employed."—Morning Herald, 7th February, 1849.
That—"the Expansion of Capital would soon reach its ultimate boundary, if that boundary itself did not continually increase."
That—"what the Legislature should desire and promote is not a greater saving, but a greater return to savings, either by improved cultivation, or by access to more fertile lands in other quarters of the globe."
That—"the Railway operations of the various nations of the world may be looked upon as a sort of competition for the overflowing Capital of the countries where Profits are low and Capital abundant."—J. S. Mill, Polit. Econ.
That—"each nation derives greater benefit from having an increasing market in one of its own provinces, than in a foreign country."
That—"the possession of remote territories, is the only thing which can secure to the population of a country those advantages derived from an easy outlet, or prospect of outlet, to those persons who may be ill provided for at home."—Lord Brougham.
That—"we have an immense Colonial Empire. To its resources and exigencies we now seem for the first time to awaken.[see Note 46] Hitherto we have been content to consider it as a magnificent incumbrance, that testified to our greatness but had nothing to do with our interests or the welfare of our population."—The Times, 20th January, 1849.
And that—"it must be acknowledged as a principle, that the Colonies of England are an integral part of this country."—D'Israeli.
* * *
Again—"In certain parts of the Empire transportation was a very valuable punishment, but there ought to be natural limits to it. Transportation was very well in the infancy of a Colony, but as it became more peopled and civilized, it was undesirable to deluge it with a convict population. The subject of abolishing the penalty of transportation was one of very great importance."—Lord Brougham, 1849.
"But what mean I To speak so true at first? My office is To noise abroad.... I have the letter here; yes, here it is:"
"The time has come when the great American and Colonial route of travelling must commence at Halifax."—Great Western Letter Bag. Yes! and be carried on to Frazer's River.
 Nova Scotia.
 New Caledonia.
* * * * *
TO MY WORTHY AND MUCH ESTEEMED FRIEND, THE AUTHOR OF "THE CLOCKMAKER."
MY DEAR FRIEND,
Often have I looked back to the pleasant hours we passed on board the good brig Tyrian, when, in the spring of 1838, we were quietly floating over the waves of the broad Atlantic.[see Note 1] Never do I remember to have crossed them so smoothly, and never certainly with more agreeable companions. One of our party has long since departed for that country from whose bourn no traveller returns. Poor Fairbanks! you knew him well and valued his friendship—knew him to be a kind and a good man, and that he loved his country well. Had he been as anxious to introduce Railways into it as he was zealous about his Shubenacadie Canal, he might perhaps have served it more effectually.[see Notes 2 and 37] Another of our party, a true and hearty lover of his country, is still amongst you; may his powerful mind so direct his great abilities as to enable him to use them for his country's good; for much may yet be done for Nova Scotia. Both he and you, I know well, have a friendly feeling towards me, and you may perhaps have sometimes regretted, though not so warmly as I have done (living as you both have been for years in the midst of political excitement), that we have been so completely separated. With this short preface, as an excuse for introducing your names, I will now proceed, by recalling that moment so full of excitement at the time and never to be forgotten,—when, to our astonishment, we first saw the great ship Syrius steaming down directly in the wake of the Tyrian. She was the first steamer, I believe, that ever crossed the Atlantic for New York, and was then on her way back to England. You will, I dare say, recollect the prompt decision of Commander Jennings to carry his mail bags on board the steamer, and our equally prompt decision not to quit our sailing craft, commanded as she was by so kind and so excellent an officer. You will, I dare say, recollect how soon flew the question through the captain's trumpet, "Will you take charge of the mail?" "Yes, but be quick;" and the trembling anxiety with which we watched mail bag after mail bag hoisted up the deep waist of the Tyrian; then lowered into the small boat below,—tossed about between the vessels, and finally all safely placed on board the Syrius. It was a bold measure; for had one mail bag been lost, our gallant commander would in all probability have been severely censured, if it had not cost him his commission: as it was, I believe, he received the thanks of the Admiralty. You will also, no doubt, remember well the lively discussion the sight of this great steam ship caused amongst us, and how earnestly I expressed my wish, that the people of Halifax should bestir themselves, and not allow, without a struggle, British mails and British passengers thus to be taken past their very doors.[see Note 3] And now that we have lived to see established what we then discussed (and about which the pen of the Clockmaker's companion was not idle),[see Note 4] the great steam ship road from and to Liverpool and Halifax, you will not perhaps be astonished that (like the fly on the wheel) so humble an individual as your old fellow passenger should have fancied when steaming (as he has since often done) over the waves of that same Atlantic, that he too[see Note 5] had had something to say in creating all the smoke he saw rising before him. Of one thing, however, he is certain—that his companions, Fairbanks, Howe and Haliburton (no insignificant names), had determined, before leaving the Tyrian, that as soon as they reached London they would wait upon the Colonial minister—point out to him the necessity and importance of a steam communication from the mother country to her children in the west, and plead the cause of Halifax;[see Note 6] and, if I am not mistaken, Fairbanks and Howe proceeded first to Liverpool to make some inquiries about expense, &c. &c. Be this however as it may, it is all now matter of no consequence—the great nautical high road between England and her North American Colonies has long been established beyond a question, and the enterprising Cunard has shown by his splendid steam vessels, that it may be depended upon beyond a doubt, as a regular, a safe and an easy communication.[see Note 38] To him, therefore, are due the thanks of the public, and the credit of accomplishing this much wished-for route.
"Whilst others bravely thought, he nobly dar'd."
But, my dear friend, in an age like the present, shall such a victory content us? most assuredly not! The time has come when our great Colonial land route of travelling must reach from Halifax to Frazer's River, from the Atlantic to the Pacific—and there is still a grand and a noble undertaking that must yet be accomplished—must be performed by Great Britain and her colonies—an undertaking that will open a mine of wealth to all concerned[see Note 7] (not the wealth of gold, but of commerce and trade). But to proceed—and here again I must tax your memory. You will, no doubt, recollect, that after the King of Holland had given his decision in the year 1831 as to our disputed boundary with America, which had been referred to him, and that all eyes were fixed upon that question,[see Note 65] which had become very serious and difficult to settle, his Grace the Duke of Wellington, in speaking on the subject,[see Note 8] alluded to another very important boundary question (then little thought of by the public),[see Note 9] and his Grace pointed to the Oregon.[see Note 33] The discussions and difficulties that afterwards arose before the final disposal of that dispute, most assuredly marked its importance, and proved that the ever-watchful talent of the Duke had not been attracted to that spot, without cause.
"We thank the gods Our Rome has such a soldier!"
Montgomery Martin says, "But for the Hudson's Bay Company, England would probably have been shut out from the Pacific." Be that as it may, we had at all events, one statesman's watchful eye upon that ocean, and the very important question is now disposed of for ever, leaving open to England another most valuable high road, with the making of which we (again like the fly on the wheel) think we must have something to do; at all events, we may discuss and talk about it,—as in the Tyrian we formerly did about the great Steam Line from and to Liverpool and Halifax. But to proceed seriously. Did his Grace, let it be asked, when pointing to our North-Western boundary line, look forward at that time to the shores of the Pacific as being "the end of the West and the beginning of the East?" Did his Grace's imagination picture to his mind's eye swarms of human beings from Halifax, from New Brunswick, from Quebec, from Montreal, from Byetown, from Kingston, from Toronto, from Hamilton, the Red River Settlement, &c. &c. &c., rushing across the rocky mountains of Oregon with the produce of the West in exchange for the riches of the East? Did his Grace imagine the Pacific Ocean alive with all descriptions of vessels sailing and steaming from our magnificent Colonies—New Zealand, Van Diemen's Land, New South Wales, New Holland, from Borneo and the West Coast of China, from the Sandwich Islands, and a thousand other places, all carrying the rich productions of the East, and landing them at the commencement of the West,—to be forwarded and distributed throughout our North American provinces, and to be delivered in THIRTY DAYS at the ports of Great Britain? Did his Grace foresee that steam would bring Halifax within ten days of Liverpool? That a Railway would make Halifax only ten or fifteen days distant from the north-west coast of North America, (and that the Sandwich Islands would not be ten days further off?) whence steamers might be despatched with the mails from England for Pekin, Canton, Australia, New Zealand, &c. &c. &c.; and did his Grace look forward to the rolling masses of treasure that would be sure to travel on such a girdle line of communication as that? Did his Grace then weigh and consider that "to the inventive genius of her sons England owes the foundation of her commercial greatness. We will not go the length of asserting that she retains her proud pre-eminence solely upon the condition of keeping twenty years ahead of other nations in the practice of mechanical arts. But there is no question, that a fearful proportion of our fellow subjects hold their prosperity upon no other tenure, and quite independently of what may be done by our rivals it is of vast importance to our increasing population that the conquest over nature should proceed unchecked?" [Quarterly Review, December, 1848.] And did his Grace look forward and foresee that between the north-eastern and north-western shores of America, and through our loyal, long-tried and devoted North American colonies,[see Note 10] there might be undertaken a great, a noble, and a most important work, that would give remunerative employment to the population, to the wealth, and to the inventive genius of England? Did his Grace, in short, look forward to a grand National Railway from the Atlantic to the Pacific?[see Note 60] If not, let his Grace do so now! Let the people of Great Britain do so!—let her colonial minister. Startling as it may at first appear, a little reflection will show that England and her children have the power to make it; that it must be done; and will become valuable property—for it would increase our commerce and trade to an extent not easy to calculate.[see Note 11] But such a noble work must not be looked upon merely as a money question,—although if only considered in that light,—England must reflect that if she wishes and intends to retain her high pre-eminence amongst the nations of the earth, she must most assuredly pay for it. No country can have all the blessings and advantages of England and have them for nothing, nor can she retain them without great exertion. Her accumulated wealth cannot be allowed to remain idle—nor will it.[see Note 12] No one will deny for a moment that every economy that will make the poor man richer and happier ought to be practised;[see Note 39] but let us take care that we do not, from too strong a desire to retain that wealth which Providence has thrown into the lap of England[see Note 13] even in the midst of war,[see Note 14] deprive her labouring children of legitimate employment and just remuneration, (all that the industrious classes of our fellow-countrymen require.) But the undertaking proposed has even a higher claim to our attention. It is the great link required to unite in one powerful chain the whole English race. Let then our Railway Kings, and our Iron Kings, our princely merchants, and our lords millionnaires—let the stirring and active spirits of the age—the great reformers and the modern politicians, many of whom are now proclaiming through the land that economy alone can save the country—[see Note 15]condescend for a short time even, to consider the undertaking here proposed; and say, if they can, that (even should it be executed at an immense expense) it would not produce a great and beneficial forward movement, and be a present happy employment, and a future perpetual source of wealth to England and her children. Let them consider also that "the social advancement which the modern improvement of Railways is calculated to effect has added a new faculty to man in the facilities which it affords of communication between province and province, and between nation and nation. Nor does it seem too much to say, that it will be the means of binding all the nations of the earth into one family, with mutual interests, and with the mutual desire of promoting the prosperity of their neighbours, in order that they may enhance their own, and forming thereby the most powerful antagonistic principle to war that the earth has ever known." [Bradshaw's Almanack, 1849.] Again, what says the Quarterly: "We trust our readers of all politics will cordially join with us in a desire, not inappropriate at the commencement of a new year, that the wonderful discovery which it has pleased the Almighty to impart to us, instead of becoming amongst us a subject of angry dispute, may in every region of the globe bring the human family into friendly communication; that it may dispel national prejudices; assuage animosities—in short, that, by creating a feeling of universal gratitude to the powers from which it has proceeded, it may produce on earth peace and good-will towards men." And where, let it be asked, can this wonderful discovery, this great power of steam,[see Note 16] be called into action so effectually and so usefully, not only for Great Britain, but for mankind in general, than in that parallel of latitude[see Note 17] in which (all barrier difficulties and all cause for war being now removed) would naturally flow in full tide the civilization, arts and sciences that invariably follow in the wake of Englishmen? Then as to the difficulties of the undertaking, let us recollect that an eminent engineer, previous to the construction of the Liverpool and Manchester Line, said, "No man in his senses would attempt a Railroad over Chat Moss:" his calculation was that it would cost L270,000. Yet the genius of George Stephenson afterwards surmounted the difficulty at a cost of L40,000, though the work was commenced when engineering science was less understood than now. Let us also listen to the Quarterly, "Steam as applied to locomotion by sea and land is the great wonder-worker of the age. For many years we have been so startled by such a succession of apparent miracles, we have so often seen results which surpassed and falsified all the deductions of sober calculations, and so brief an interval has elapsed between the day when certain performances were classed by men of science as among impossibilities, and that wherein those same performances had almost ceased to be remarkable from their frequency, that we might almost be excused if we regarded the cloud-compelling demon, with somewhat of the reverence which the savage pays to his superior, when he worships as omnipotent any power whose limits he cannot himself perceive." With such a power[see Note 18] (so eloquently described) at our command, and such magnificent results to be obtained from it, shall England hesitate? shall the expenditure of a few millions check such a noble work? shall the Rocky Mountains be a barrier? mountains never yet properly explored, and of which almost all we know is that (as my friend Colonel Bloomfield observed) we nearly went to war to be allowed to cross them. And what are the expenses of war? Between the years 1797 and 1815, 630 millions of money were expended for carrying on war. Again, the very magnitude of the undertaking and length of the Railway is in its favour, for—listen again to the Quarterly: "We believe it may be affirmed without fear of contradiction, that the working details of a Railway are invariably well executed in proportion to their magnitude. A little Railway—like a little war—is murderous to those engaged and ruinous to those who pay for it." Now if in England experience has taught all this,—shall the good people of Halifax, New Brunswick, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, &c., be allowed, perhaps encouraged, to go on slowly endeavouring (at an immense expense and outlay for such young communities) to make a variety of small Railways,[see Note 40] thus acknowledged to be ruinous, and the mother country remain quietly looking on when she has now the power of greatly assisting them, and to her own advantage, by planning and arranging one grand route and system of Lines throughout the whole country,[see Note 19] and under Providence the means of opening that route in an incredible short space of time? Let then England, her North American colonies, and the Hudson's Bay Company, join heart and hand, and with the great power of steam which it has pleased the Almighty to place at the command of man, there will soon arise a work that will be the wonder and admiration of the age—and such a mercantile and colonizing road will be open to Great Britain, that at no future period, (at least within the imagination of man,) will she ever again have to complain of too great a population on her soil, and too small a market for her labour.
Let us now then proceed, my dear friend, to consider how this great work might be commenced, and its probable results when accomplished. In the first place let us look a little to the immense annual cost to England for her prisons and her convicts,[see Notes 47 and 50]—much of that crime arising probably from the want of employment, and consequent poverty.[see Note 20] Even at this moment five millions are spoken of as a sum required to be expended in new prisons for a favourite system.[see Note 41] In 1836 it was suggested "as well worthy of consideration, whether it would not be advisable to cease transporting convicts at so great a cost to distant settlements, and instead to send them to a nearer place of exile, where their labour might be rendered in so great a degree valuable, as speedily to return to the Mother Country the whole of the charge incurred for their conveyance" [The Progress of the Nation, by A. R. Porter, Esq.];[see Note 21] and where could England better employ her convict labour, than on a work that would be of such vast and lasting importance to herself, to her colonies, and to mankind in general? It was also observed, by the same author, "If gangs of convict labourers were placed a little beyond the verge of civilization, and employed in clearing and enclosing lands, constructing roads, building bridges, the land thus prepared and improved would meet with ready purchasers at prices which would well repay the Government their previous outlay." It may be objected by some, that the expense of the troops necessary to guard the convicts would be very great, and would be a heavy burden to this country. To them I must use the words of the "Times," when suggesting the grant of colonial lands to be annexed to the performance of military duties. "Subsidiary to and connected with this arrangement might be devised another, by which soldiers of good character might be discharged after ten years service, and rewarded with small freeholds in the colonies. They might be bound to appear on duty at certain periods, and for a certain duration of time, as our pensioners are at present." And if soldiers of six or eight years service were sent out in charge of the convicts, that unpleasant duty would be of very short duration before they would meet with their reward. Added to which, it has been suggested by my friend Captain Wood, of the Hon. East India Company's service, that the Indians might be very usefully employed on this duty,[see Note 48] somewhat in the same manner as the natives in India are encouraged to look after European soldiers who desert their colours. In alluding to the pensioners of Great Britain, it is only due to Lieut.-Col. Tulloch to render our honest thanks to him, for the introduction through his indefatigable exertions of this most important feature in a new military system. Not only has he added to the respectability, comfort, and happiness of many a worn out old soldier, but he has also provided a very imposing force of veterans ready at any moment to support the laws of their country; and, should unfortunately such an occasion ever arise, of opposing all feeling of disloyalty to their beloved sovereign.[see Note 42] Lieut.-Col. Tulloch may well feel proud of the result of his labours. This system of pensions alluded to by the "Times" would become extremely applicable to the troops employed in guarding the convicts on the proposed Atlantic and Pacific Railway, and small villages, and ultimately cities, would, no doubt, arise from such a source: but even the first outlay caused by the employment of the convicts on such a work cannot be considered as any extra expense to government; for these convicts must be fed, must be employed, and must be guarded somewhere: and it will be shown hereafter that government will be reimbursed not only her expenditure on account of the convicts, but also her expenditure on account of the troops required to guard them. In making his suggestions for the employment of the convicts in 1836, Mr. Porter says, "There is unhappily but too much reason for believing that the whole number of labourers who could be thus profitably employed might be furnished from the criminal population of Great Britain." And by a return given at the same time, it is shown that the number of convicts from 1825 to 1833, both years inclusive, was 22,138, and that return did not include all the penal settlements. The "Times" of the 18th January, 1848, in speaking of the expenditure of the country, says, "Convicts at home and abroad have mounted from L111,306 to L378,000; certainly the law of increase is strongly marked on the expense of crime." "If any body will cut down this figure, he will earn the gratitude of the nation." This last expression of the Times has more particular reference to the expense incurred for Ireland, but will no doubt be acknowledged to be equally true as bearing upon the enormous general increase of convict expenditure; and the more I reflect on this subject, the more do I feel convinced that the employment of convict labour in the Rocky Mountains,[see Note 22] and at several other points of the Line of this proposed great National work, would produce a most beneficial result, as a means of reducing the amount of crime, as even an immediate saving of transport expense to England (unless indeed all distant penal settlements are to be finally abandoned),[see Notes 21 and 45] and as an ultimate great advantage both to her own commerce, and to that of her colonies; and here let it be recollected, that there is a feeling abroad "to force upon government and the legislature a bold and manly course in dealing with crime in general:" that the magnificent prisons now built are considered "unjust to the labouring poor, whose humble dwelling, with coarse and scanty food, is mocked by the grandeur and beauty of the prison, as well as by the idle and comfortable entertainment within its wall;" and it has been remarked by a public journal in a warning voice, "to make prisons palaces is the way to turn palaces into prisons."[see Note 34] But enough has been said on this subject at present, and we will now consider again the working out of this great undertaking. We will suppose, in the first place, active, intelligent, and scientific young men to be sent to the Rocky Mountains,[see Note 49] to ascertain the best spot at which to cross them, and the best port (if the mouth of Frazer's River will not answer), on the western shore of North America, within, of course, the Hudson's Bay Company's territory, for a great commercial harbour and railway terminus. Then let a grand line of Railway be marked out from Halifax to that spot, and let all local towns or districts that have sufficient capital and labour to undertake any part of that Line, have the benefit of the profits of the whole Line, in proportion to the parts they may finish. No convict labour need interfere with them. But in such districts as are at present so thinly inhabited as to have no working population, and no capital to expend, let the work be commenced by England, by her capital, and her convicts;[see Note 23] and let government encourage and facilitate the formation of a great Atlantic and Pacific Railway Company, by obtaining from parliament a national guarantee for the completion of the work;[see Note 51] first, of course, having entered into arrangements with the Hudson's Bay Company, and her North American provinces, for the security of such sums of money as may be advanced by way of loan from Great Britain.
To Englishmen we would say then, in the words of the Rev. C. G. Nicolay, "We have at home a superabundant population,[see Note 24] subject to a very rapid increase on any reduction of the price, if but of the necessaries of life,—how can it be better employed than in seeking, with its own advance in social position, and means of acquiring its comforts, if not its luxuries, the spread of our free institutions—equal laws—and holy religion. We desire an enlarged sphere for commercial enterprise. New markets for our manufactures; these every fresh colony supplies in its measure. If then the Oregon be what it appears to be, if its climate, soil, agriculture, and commercial capabilities be as represented, why leave its future destiny to time and circumstances?" We would say to the Hudson's Bay Company in the words of Mr. James Edward Fitzgerald, "You have the power of becoming the founders of a New State, perhaps of a new empire, or of arresting for a time, for you cannot ultimately prevent, the march of mankind in their career of victory over the desolate and uncultivated parts of the earth. For now nearly two centuries your sway has extended over half a continent, and as yet you have left nothing behind you in all that vast country, to bear witness to your power and your riches. Now a new destiny is before you; you may, if you will, place your names beside those who have devoted themselves to the noble task of stimulating and directing the enterprising genius of their fellow countrymen, who have prolonged the existence of their nation by giving a new life to its offspring." And we would then call upon England, her North American provinces, and the Hudson's Bay Company, to employ their wealth and power to unite in one great unbroken iron chain, the Mother Country with her distant Children, and, in spite of Nature's difficulties, carry steam across the Rocky Mountains.[see Note 25]
From childhood I have been accustomed to look upon the power of England as irresistible,—morally, physically,[see Note 35] and intellectually,—she has now in this age the command of mind and matter sufficient to enable her almost to move the earth, and shall the tunnel under the Thames, the tube over the Conway, and the bridge over the Menai, be our only wonders? How well do I remember the delight with which I have listened to the anecdote told of Mr. Pitt, who, when he was informed that it was impracticable to carry into effect some orders he had given about heavy ordnance being sent to Portsmouth within a certain time, "Not possible?" exclaimed Mr. Pitt, "then send them by the Mail."[see Note 26] With the same feeling of pride and delight have I heard in later days of the artillery officer's remark, when it was whispered to him by another that it would not be possible to place their guns in some wished for position; "My dear fellow," said the commanding officer, "I have the order in my pocket." Let England only commence the Railway from Halifax to the Pacific, with the order to cross the Rocky Mountains in the pocket of her sons, and the accomplishment of the undertaking will soon reward the labour, courage and skill which would undoubtedly be exhibited. Sir Alexander Mackenzie inscribed in large characters, with vermillion, this brief memorial, on the rocks of the Pacific, "Alexander Mackenzie from Canada by land the 22nd of July, 1794." Who will be the first engineer to inscribe upon the Rocky Mountains "On this day engineer A. B. piloted the first locomotive engine across the Rocky Mountains;" and what then will be the feeling of Englishmen, when even now Steam is considered the "exclusive offspring of British genius, fostered and sustained by British enterprise and British capital!" We have seen that on the highest habitable spot of the Mountains of the Alps stands a monument of war, placed there by the hand of a powerful man in the pride of victory over his fellow-men, and in honour of his companion in arms. We trust before long that on the highest habitable spot of the Rocky Mountains will stand a monument of peace, placed there by an enterprising nation in honour of the victory of science over nature, and in memory of some enterprising son.
After all her wars, her victories and her revolutions, in what condition is France?
What may not England expect to be with all her victories over nature—her trade and commerce?[see Note 52] May she march forward in her career of peace as bravely, as nobly, and as proudly as she did in that of war; and may she now take as great an interest in, and make the same exertions for, the welfare and happiness not only of her own people, but of those of other nations in all quarters of the globe, as she did in former days for their protection from a desolating foe.
What the ultimate consequences of such a link of connection would be, are indeed far beyond the reach of the human mind to foresee; but its immediate results stand out apparently to the most common observer. In the first place, Cape Horn (the roughest point to weather in the whole world) would be avoided. In the next, the long passage by the Cape of Good Hope to innumerable places in the Pacific Ocean would become also unnecessary. In both these cases a great amount of time (which in commerce is money) would be saved. Again, it would be no longer necessary to send goods by the route of the Hudson's Bay[see Note 27] to the territories of that Company; and thus a climate horrible in winter and summer, would also be avoided.[see Note 44] Then one view of the map of the world will show that the proposed terminus of the Atlantic and Pacific Railway at Frazer's River, taken as a centre, would bring New Zealand, New South Wales, in fact, Australia, New Guinea, Borneo, Canton, Pekin, all within fifty days' sail of that point; and taking the Sandwich Islands as a centre point, (where there is a fine harbour, and where a depot of coals might be established), which could be reached in ten days, all the before-named places would be brought within twenty days for steam navigation, other points, such as the Friendly Islands, &c., might be selected for further depots of coals. Again, from the terminus of the proposed railway the mails from England could be despatched to all the before-mentioned places, and the formation of a great steam navigation company, with a grant from government in the same way as a grant was made to the Atlantic Steam Navigation Company to Halifax, would insure magnificent steamers for the conveyance of these mails, and would secure also to the Hudson's Bay Company an immense consumption of their coal. Last, though not least of all, this Railway route across the continent of North America would ensure to England at all times a free communication with her East India possessions. It is true that at present there is no difficulty in that respect, and the indefatigable exertions of Lieutenant Waghorn and of other enterprising people, amongst them my friend Major Head, have opened to the British public and to the East India Company a quick and speedy communication with India. But let the public reflect, and let the Government reflect, that, in the event of a European war, we might be called upon to defend and keep open that communication at an immense expenditure of life and money, and indeed it might even be closed against us; whereas the proposed Line across the continent of America would be within our own dominions, and would not oblige us to interfere or meddle with any continental wars to enjoy its free use. No time ought to be lost in the commencement of this national undertaking.
If then Government took the initiative, it might obtain the consent of Parliament, and proceed to appoint a Board of General Arrangement and Control, consisting, say, of fifteen Commissioners: three on the part of Great Britain, three to be named by the Hudson's Bay Company, three to be appointed by the Government of Nova Scotia, three by that of New Brunswick, and three on the part of Canada; all these latter of course with the approval of their respective Governors. It may appear that the North American Provinces would thus have a greater proportion of Commissioners; but as each of these Colonies have Governments independent of each other, they may be considered as separate Companies, although we take them as one when considered as the North American Provinces. These fifteen gentlemen might be all Members of Parliament; thus the system of representatives from the Colonies, so often suggested and spoken of, could be commenced, and the Colonists thus made practically aware that they are an integral part of this country. These Commissioners could be authorized to make all the necessary arrangements for the security of the monies proposed to be advanced by the Government of Great Britain, and should be instructed to draw up the general Articles of Agreement between the high contracting parties; and Government might be authorized by Parliament to open an account with these Commissioners, who as a Body might be called "The Atlantic and Pacific Railway Board of Control," and under its auspices a public Company might be formed, refunding to the Government all previous outlay.
Our North American provinces are close at hand, and during the approaching summer all the necessary arrangements might be made for the reception of a great number of convicts in different locations; and, in the first instance, they might be sent to Halifax and Quebec,[see Note 53] where they could be received immediately, not certainly in palaces, but in very good wood huts; at both these places they could also be at once set to work in unloading the vessels sent from England with the necessary stores for the commencement of this great national work, and in preparing and levelling the situations of the respective termini; for of course at both these stations great government as well as private wharfs would be established. Again: another portion could be sent at once from New South Wales to the port fixed upon on the north-west coast of North America, in the Hudson's Bay Company's territory:[see Note 67] there they could be put to work in the same way—to unload vessels bringing in stores, to cut down and prepare timber, level and get ready the site of the terminus. And it appears very necessary that preparation should be made for the reception of a large body at the Red River Settlement, that point being a very important spot in the Line proposed. Let us see what Montgomery Martin says about it.[see Note 28]
The Bishop of Montreal, in 1844, says, "The soil, which is alluvial, is beyond example rich and productive, and withal so easily worked, that, although it does not quite come up to the description of the Happy Islands—reddit ubi cererem tellus inarata quot annis—there is an instance, I was assured, of a farm in which the owner, with comparatively light labour in the preparatory processes, had taken a wheat crop out of the same land for eighteen successive years, never changing the crop, never manuring the land, and never suffering it to lie fallow, and that the crop was abundant to the last; and, with respect to the pasture and hay, they are to be had ad libitum, as nature gives them in the open plains." Again, speaking of import goods: "All these articles are brought across from Hudson's Bay, a distance of several hundred miles, in boats, and these boats are drawn across the portages on rollers, or in some places carried upon waggons; hence those articles which are of a heavy description are charged at a price seemingly out of all proportion to that of many others which may be obtained at a moderate price: a common grindstone is sold for 20s."[see Note 29]
Now read again the description of Hudson's Bay, discovered by John Hudson in 1610,[see Note 27] then look upon that picture, and upon this; look upon that country that will give eighteen successive crops of wheat, and look upon the difficult, dangerous, and tedious navigation of that bay, whose climate in summer and winter is horrible, and through whose waters the stores of this fine country are obliged to travel; look at that picture, then look at this,—the easy, safe, and rapid communication of a Railway,—and say if the time, health and money that would be saved by its construction is not worthy the consideration of Englishmen, and would not repay the constructors, even if that was to be its last terminus.[see Note 54]
But when it is considered that the Main Line of Railway, in passing through our own colonies, would skirt the shores of Lake Superior—rich in mines of silver and copper[see Note 36]—and that the Red River Settlement[see Note 30] would only be one of the many valuable towns and districts that would be opened to trade and commerce, and only contribute its mite to the profits to be obtained from the passage of the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, it appears to me impossible that such a powerful and wealthy Company as the Hudson's Bay, such magnificent colonies as our North American provinces, and such a power as Great Britain, can balance for one moment in their minds whether loss or profit must attend the undertaking and completion of such a Railway.
But, vires acquirit eundo, our argument is stronger as we proceed; for, crossing the Rocky Mountains, where the real terminus would be, let us pause for a moment to consider the mine of wealth we should open—not the wealth of gold and silver—but wealth, the reward of commerce and industry.
"The land," Nicolay says, "affords, even now, exports of cattle, wool, hides, and tallow, as well as salted meat, beef, pork, wheat, barley, Indian corn, apples, and timber. Of these all are sent to the Sandwich Islands, some to California, and hides and wool have been sent to England. The woods of the Oregon present another fertile source of national wealth. The growth of timber of all sorts in the neighbourhood of the harbours in the De-fuca Strait adds much to their value as a naval and commercial station. Coal is found in the whole western district, but principally shows itself above the surface on north part of Vancouver's Island. To these sources of commercial and national wealth must be added the minerals—iron, lead, tin, &c. The mountains and seacoast produce granite, slate, sandstone,—and in the interior oolites; limestone is plentiful, and to the north most easily worked and very rich in colour."
Again: look to the whale fishery.[see Note 31] And, in conclusion, we may say that the Hudson's Bay Company's territory in the Pacific, that is, New Caledonia, "will be found to fall short of but a few countries, either in salubrity of climate, fertility of soil, and consequent luxuriance of vegetation, and utility of production, of in the picturesque character of the scenery."
But, my dear friend, I have been led on by my excitement on this subject to make quotations and enter into particulars and details far beyond my original thoughts, which were chiefly to draw the attention of your powerful and active mind to a great national undertaking, knowing well your love of everything English, and at the same time your devoted attachment to the North American colonies. You have travelled far, and seen much, and have shown in your works how clearly you have observed and appreciated the power and manly spirit of England;
"Dear for her reputation through the world;"
and although you have felt, as a colonist, that her provinces of North America might have been better governed, and that they have had even much justly to complain about, still you have always upheld the connection with England, and argued its value. In writing to you, the thoughts of old times have returned, and reminded me of our happy meetings and friendly converse in your lodgings in Piccadilly; and, thus thinking, I have written on, as in fancy I have imagined we should have chatted together,—and now I cannot do otherwise than continue in this freedom of communication, and endeavour to excite you to entertain my thoughts, and to canvass them among your fellow-countrymen.
To return, then, to our subject, and to the necessity for England to be up and stirring. It has been remarked, that "a person who is already thriving seldom puts himself out of his way to commence even a lucrative improvement, unless urged by the additional motive of fear lest some rival should supplant him by getting possession of it before him." Truly, indeed, has it been said by the Spectator, "that England is not bankrupt, nor poor, nor needy. In every quarter we see immense additions to material wealth; we observe, too, on all hands a vast extension of luxurious enjoyments among the middle classes; every thing attests a huge growth in the wealth of the nation." It may be fairly considered, then, that England is thriving—a lucrative improvement of vast magnitude is open to her—and if the additional motive of fear of rivalry is necessary to excite her in so noble an undertaking, let her reflect on what is said in an American paper:—
A Boston paper of the day says, "the finding of these gold mines is of more importance than any previous event for 300 years. The prosperity of Queen Elizabeth's reign was mainly owing to the stimulus given to commerce by the increase of the precious metals; but the field now to be acted upon is at least fifty times greater than during that period. Within five years there will be a Railroad from the Atlantic Ocean, across the great American Continent, through the gold regions, to the Bay of San Francisco, said to be the finest harbour in the world. The people of San Francisco will then communicate by telegraph in a few minutes, and the mails will be taken to Canton on the one side in fourteen days, and to London on the other in nine days; so that intelligence may be conveyed from the one end to the other in the short period of twenty-three days. This will be witnessed under five years."
It is evident, then, that the people of the United States are quite aware of all the advantages to be gained by a quick communication across the Continent of America. Let us consider now, for a moment, what the consequences of a railway would be as regards your own valuable and fertile colonies.[see Note 43]
You have no doubt already pictured to yourself the town of Halifax alive with all the bustle and excitement of a great commercial community, and her noble harbours full of every description of vessels, from the magnificent English steamer to the small colonial coasting craft; for soon, not merely one steamer a week, as now, would touch from England on her way to New York, but Nova Scotia herself, from the increasing wealth and importance of her towns, would require the use of many steamers to enable her to carry on the numerous commercial duties that would fall to her lot; and when we reflect that at Halifax would rest the terminus, whence could be embarked for England at all seasons of the year our highly valuable colonial produce, including the rich exports from the Southern Pacific Ocean (not sent round Cape Horn or the Cape of Good Hope); and when we reflect that this long neglected seaport town could equally receive at all seasons of the year the various exports from England, for her numerous Colonies; and when we consider that there is abundance of coal at hand, with wood and stone for building, who can hesitate for a moment to acknowledge that Halifax would soon become one of the most important ports, and one of the most noble cities of the world; add to this, that the connection and attachment of Nova Scotia to England would be cemented for ever—and that the dream of the Clockmaker would be realized. "This is the best situation in all America—is Nova Scotia, if the British did but know it. It will have the greatest trade, the greatest population, the most manufactures, the most wealth, of any state this side of the water. The resources, natural advantages, and political position of this place, beats all." Then again, look to the city of Quebec; no sooner would the river navigation be open than thousands of vessels from England would be seen dropping their anchors at the foot of her proud citadel, carrying out vast cargoes of English exports; then picture to yourself the railway terminus, alive with all the consequent bustle, the steam up, and the railway carriages ready to convey all these articles of commerce to every town and district in the North American Colonies; away also to the far west, whence they would be forwarded to our colonial possessions in the Southern Pacific, and to numerous other places; then again, behold these ships reloading quickly with the timber and other exportable articles from our then firmly-linked-together valuable Colonies, sailing away for England, and repeating their visit two or three times in the season; the difficult navigation of the Hudson's Bay avoided; the territory of the Hudson's Bay Company daily increasing in value, from the ease with which its inhabitants could procure articles of commerce, before almost forbidden to them; and Quebec, being their nearest port for embarkation for England, would necessarily become even a much more important city than she is at present. The land in her neighbourhood would become highly valuable, and, as a matter of necessity, the fine country to the north, with even better soil and better climate, would soon be opened and peopled. I cannot cease referring to Quebec without recording my gratitude for many kindnesses there received—particularly from the family of Captain Boxer.[see Note 55] Then again, look to New Brunswick, connected as it would of course be both with Halifax and Quebec, thus, having a free and direct communication with those cities, and enabled to export or import at any season of the year, (should she wish to avoid the navigation of the Bay of Fundy); then think what strength she would bring to the union of the Colonies by such a link of connection, and how many more opportunities her inhabitants would have of encouraging and fostering that strong attachment to their English brethren we all so well know to exist amongst the people of New Brunswick.
But, my dear friend, I might go on this way for ever, pointing out town after town, and district after district, showing how the wealth and prosperity of each would go on rapidly increasing. I cannot, however, quit the subject without a passing word on Montreal, in which city I have passed many happy days, and from whose inhabitants I have received much kindness and civility. That noble city has already made some steady advances to a great capital, and the time cannot be far distant when she will rival even the most flourishing on the North American Continent. To her this proposed Railway would be highly important. She has shown that she already understands the value of such things; for not only has she a small one of her own to La-Chine, about seven miles up the river, but she has also, I understand, finished about thirty miles towards the Atlantic in the direction of Portland. The interest of these Companies would not of course be lost sight of, but their profits taken into the general calculation. The great Trunk Line of Railway would naturally, I conclude, go through a country some distance to the north of Montreal; but one of the most important termini must of necessity be at that city where the business of the Government is carried on, and where of course a general Railway Communication with every town and district would be established. Toronto would naturally be considered in the manner in which so loyal and devoted a city ought to be, and where was held, even to a very late period, the parliament of a great country, surrendered only to her sister Montreal on public considerations and for the general good;[see Note 62] and the Main Line of Railway should be brought as near Toronto as the communication between the Atlantic and Pacific (its great object and principal view) would permit. Hamilton, Kingston, Byetown and several other places must not consider themselves neglected, if not herein specially mentioned; but in fact as regards these Colonies, the song of your friend, the Clockmaker, about them cannot be sung too often. "Oh Squire! if John Bull only knew the value of these Colonies, he would be a great man, I tell you,—but he don't." Truly do I hope that I may now sing to them with confidence,—
"There's a good time coming yet, Wait a little longer."
In your conversation with the Clockmaker you have observed, "it is painful to think of the blunders that have been committed from time to time in the management of our Colonies, and of the gross ignorance or utter disregard of their interests that has been displayed in treaties with foreign powers. Fortunately for the Mother Country, the Colonists are warmly attached to her and her institutions, and deplore a separation too much to agitate questions, however important, that may have a tendency to weaken their affections by arousing their passions." Should the Government of Great Britain, upon whose consideration will be forced the present situation of her Colonies, consider it right to give their support to this proposed Atlantic and Pacific Railway for the reasons herein explained, or from any other cause,—the great benefit that Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and the Canadas will derive from having open to them a free and easy access to the Atlantic and the Pacific, will, I trust, occasion such an activity of mind and such an employment of matter, that in the general good arising therefrom, all thoughts of former ill treatment or unkindness from the Mother Country will soon be forgotten.
The great question, however, is, and will be on all sides, Where is the money to come from?[see Note 56] and that question I am weak enough to fancy is easily answered. Let us consider this subject a little. Let us remember, first, that England expended 630 millions during nineteen years in war, and, notwithstanding which expenditure, the country got richer and richer every day;[see Note 14] and if the country is not poorer now than it was in the years when it was able to raise the sum of 150 millions in a single year—the greater part of which it could afford to expend in one year in war, and grow richer all the time—surely such a country can afford to expend some few millions for the benefit of those colonies on account of whom she was lately ready to go to war, and on whose account she did actually expend about two millions, caused merely by the rebellion and disturbance of a few discontented spirits. But the money that England would be called upon to advance in the proposed undertaking would secure to her not only the attachment of her children in the North American provinces, by making it as well their worldly interest, as it is their natural feeling and wish, to remain Englishmen; but that money, and the interest of that money, could be secured to her by proper arrangements being entered into with the Hudson's Bay Company, and with the North American provinces, and be ultimately reimbursed to her by the formation of the proposed Company.
Up to the present moment England has, I believe, only expended the sum of L148,000,000 on her Railways, and, I believe, nearly 5000 miles are finished; and on an average these Railways are said to give a return of about four per cent., and "with the increase of the national wealth and population, and with the increase of habits of social inter-communication and the transit of goods, the traffic on Railways would increase, and the profits and dividends would not be less but greater; and in the case of some of them, no man would pretend to say how great might be the increase of dividends from the improved and economical modes of working Railways, which, there is every reason to believe, will day by day be freshly discovered." [Bradshaw's Almanack, 1849]. And who will say that L200,000,000 expended (even should such a sum as that be required) in making a Railway Road from the Atlantic to the Pacific through our own territories, and therefore completely under our own controul, would not increase by a tenfold degree the value of that property already expended in England? When the Railways now in contemplation at home are finished, their total length will, I believe, be about 10,000 miles, and the expenditure between 200 and 240 millions. The length of the Railway proposed to go through our colonies may be spoken of roughly as at about 4000 miles; but when we take into consideration the relative value of land in England and our colonies, and a thousand other Railway contingencies in a highly civilized country, creating enormous legal, legislative and other expenses, we naturally come to the conclusion that the outlay per mile must of course be considerably diminished in the colonies. Taking it, however, at the English expenditure of L24,000 a mile on the average, it would only cost L96,000,000;[see Note 32]—L5,000,000 has been estimated as sufficient for six hundred miles of Railway from Halifax to Quebec. But calling it L100,000,000, and supposing the work to be five years completing, that would only be at the rate of L20,000,000 a year, the interest of which at five per cent. would be L1,000,000. Surely, then, such a sum as that could be easily raised, even by the Hudson's Bay Company alone, upon the security of their extensive and valuable territory. For so great a difference would soon arise between the value of that territory as it is now—merely the abode of Indians and hunters—and what it would be then; with its clearings, its improvements, its roads, its trade, its manufactures, and its towns, that any amount of debt almost might be incurred. But our loyal colonies would no doubt equally enter into securities to England, and be glad, in fact, to share their chance of the profit; for these colonies, as well as the Hudson's Bay Company, would be immense gainers. Still it may be argued, that unless it can be shown that England herself would be a gainer, she would not be justified in advancing any money on such an undertaking. Let us, then, consider this point a little. Mr. Cobden has asserted (what some of our public journals confess to be true), "that if the revenue had fallen off, it was because the balance sheet of the merchants and the manufacturers had fallen off likewise." If then we show by the undertaking of such a work as is now proposed, the balance sheets of the merchants and manufacturers must increase immensely, we surely make out a case for the good of the country generally, as far as revenue is concerned.
Let us then first consider, that "So interwoven and complicated are the fibres which form the texture of the highly civilized and artificial community in which we live, that an effect produced on any one point is instantly transmitted to the most remote and apparently unconnected parts of the system." And again—"The exportation of labourers and capital from the old to the new countries, from a place where their productive power is less to a place where it is greater, increases by so much the aggregate produce of the labour and capital of the world."
Now, with regard to the first remark, the effect that would be produced by the necessary exportation of all the machinery for the making and working of this Atlantic and Pacific Railway, would of course produce, even in England, a very great increase both to the productive power and to the consumption of a variety of articles apparently unconnected with the affairs of the Railway; and when, again, we look to the necessary exportation of labourers and of capital to the towns on the Line of the Railway where there is less productive power at work, by increasing that dormant power we shall increase the aggregate capital of the world, and consequently that of England. Again—"Could we suddenly double the productive power of the country, we should double the supply of the commodities in every market, but we should by the same stroke double the purchasing power—every body would bring a double demand as well as supply—every body would be able to buy twice as much, as he would have twice as much to offer in exchange." Also—"A country which produces for a larger market than its own, can introduce a more extended division of labour—can make a greater use of machinery, and is more likely to make inventions and improvements in the progress of production." Again—"Whatever causes a greater quantity of any thing to be produced in the same place, tends to the general increase of the productive powers of the world." Now it surely will not be denied, that the undertaking of this National Railway would cause in England a greater quantity of machinery to be made and exported to the North American provinces, thus producing for it a larger market than the home, and causing a greater quantity to be made—thus a general increase of the productive powers of the world must be produced; and as "wealth may be defined as all useful or agreeable things which possess exchangeable value," it necessarily follows that the immense increase that would be given to the productive powers of England, to those of her North American provinces, and of the Hudson's Bay territory, by an undertaking on such an extensive scale, if it did not completely, would nearly double these powers; and as whoever brings additional commodities to market brings additional power to purchase, it follows that the inhabitants of our North American provinces, and of the Hudson's Bay territory, would be enabled to take nearly twice the quantity of our manufactured goods.
Lord Stanley, in moving an amendment to the Address from the Throne, says: "the exports of the six principal articles of British industry, cotton, wool, linen, silk, hardware and earthenware, exhibit a diminution as compared with 1847, of no less than four millions, and as compared with 1846, of five millions;" such being the case, it becomes highly important to consider the cause of this falling off, with a view to a remedy, and some great measures must be adopted towards our own colonies that will enable them to receive a greater quantity of manufactured goods from the mother country,—and this great Railway is suggested as one that would increase the productive power and population of our North American colonies, and a consequent increasing necessity for hardware and earthenware, to say nothing even of the other articles of British industry, or of the facility of communicating with our other Colonies.
These few remarks will suffice to show that the balance sheets of the merchants, and consequently of the revenue of England, as well as the capital of individuals, must increase immensely during the construction of and at the completion of the proposed undertaking. Mr. Montgomery Martin has stated that "Railways are the very grandest organization of labour and capital that the world has ever seen:" that "the capital actually invested in Railways advanced from L65,000,000 in 1843 to L167,000,000 in 1848—no less than L100,000,000 in five years." And why should we not look forward to an equal—aye—and to a much larger investment—on such a magnificent Line of Railway? joining, as it would, all the northern dominions of the old world—crossing, as it would, the northern territories of the new, and making an easy opening to the rich and thriving world that may be considered of the present day. For "the word has been given, an active and enterprising population will be poured in, every element of progress will be cultivated, and the productive countries on the shores of the Pacific, heretofore isolated, will be brought into active and profitable intercourse. It may truly be said that a new world has been opened.
"Our fathers watched the progress of America, we ourselves have seen that of Australia, but the opening of the Pacific is one of the greatest events in social history since, in the fifteenth century, the East Indies were made known to Europe; for we have not, as in America or Australia, to await the slow growth of European settlements, but to witness at once the energetic action of countries already in a high state of advancement. The Eastern and the Western shores of the great Ocean will now be brought together as those of the Atlantic are, and will minister to each other's wants. A happy coincidence of circumstances has prepared the way for these results. Everything was ready, the word only was wanted to begin, and it has been given.
"The outflowings of Chinese emigrants and produce, which have gone towards the East, will now move to the West; the commercial enterprise of Australia and New Zealand has acquired a new field of exercise and encouragement; the markets which Chili and Peru have found in Europe only, will be opened nearer to their doors; the north-west shore of America will obtain all the personal and material means of organization; the Islands of the Pacific will take the place in the career of civilization for which the labours of the missionary have prepared them; and even Japan will not be able to withhold itself from the community of nations.
"This is worth more to our merchants and manufacturers, and to the people employed by them, than even the gold mines can be; for this is the statement of certain results, and the working of the gold mines, however productive they may prove, must be attended with all the incidents of irregularity and uncertainty, and great commercial disadvantages."—(Wyld's Geographical Notes.)
Surely then there would be no difficulty with Parliament to encourage and facilitate the formation of an Atlantic and Pacific Railway Company, by obtaining its sanction to the loan of L150,000,000 in such sums as might be required (to be issued under the sanction of a board appointed for that special purpose), particularly when it is recollected that the expense of the greater part of her own convicts could be provided for by that advance.
It will easily be seen that it would be impossible to complete this Atlantic and Pacific Railway, without at the same time giving great encouragement to the emigration of labour; and this "is only practicable when its cost is defrayed or at least advanced by others, than the labourers themselves. Who then is to advance it? Naturally it may be said, the capitalists of the colony, who require the labour, and who intend to profit by it. But to this there is the obstacle, that a capitalist, after going to the expense of carrying out labourers, has no security that he shall be the person to derive any benefit from them." To those who would object to Government interference in a case like the present, we can only say, in the words of Mr. Mill, that "the question of Government intervention in the work of colonization involves the future and permanent interests of civilization itself, and far outstretches the comparatively narrow limits of purely economical considerations; but, even with a view to these considerations alone, the removal of population from the overcrowded to the unoccupied parts of the earth's surface, is one of those works of eminent social usefulness which most require, and which at the same time will best repay, the intervention of Government." "No individual or body of individuals could reimburse themselves for these expenses." Government, on the contrary, could take from the increasing wealth caused by the construction of this Railway and consequent great emigration, the fraction which would suffice to repay with interest the money advanced. These remarks apply equally to the governments of the North American provinces as to those of the Hudson's Bay Company and Great Britain.[see Note 57]
Let us now personify our Atlantic and Pacific Railway, and endeavour more immediately to apply some of the reasoning as regards colonization to the money part of the question as regards the Railway. As regards colonization the question—Who is to advance the money? has, I think, been very clearly answered by Mr. Mill. As regards the undertaking of this Railway, and the answer to the question, Where is the money to come from? let us first suppose then that "there is an increase of the quantity of money, caused by the arrival of a foreigner in a place with a treasure of gold and silver; when he commences expending it, he adds to the supply of money and by the same act to the demand for goods. If he expends his funds in establishing a manufactory, he will raise the price of labour and materials; but, at the higher prices, more money will pass into the hands of the sellers of these different articles; and they, whether labourers or dealers, having more money to lay out, will create an increased demand for all things which they are accustomed to purchase, and these accordingly will rise in price, and so on, until the rise has reached every thing." Now let us for a moment suppose this foreigner to be represented by our friend the Atlantic and Pacific Railway, (imagined, for the sake of our argument, to be completed), and we will no longer consider him a foreigner, but a brother. This brother, on his arrival in England finds that he has unfortunately forgotten to bring with him his purse, that in fact he has neither gold nor silver, the representatives of wealth, and here, be it remembered, that wealth is any thing useful or agreeable, and that money is a commodity. We will then suppose this North American brother to say, My good brother of England, I am here without gold or silver, or without any kind of wealth; the commodities I have left behind me are of such a nature, that without much labour I could not put them in such a shape as would enable me to bring them to this country, nor could I obtain silver or gold enough to represent them; unless, therefore, I send some labouring people and machinery to my country, I am afraid I cannot obtain all the commodities I wish to have. Now you have plenty of spare labourers, and plenty of spare machinery and other useful materials, and for which you would be glad to receive valuable commodities in my country; and if you will only send the labourers and machinery out, I will order that in return you shall be allowed to bring away all the useful and agreeable things, that is, all the wealth that may be found, and have the use of such things as you may prefer to keep in my country. Now if you will make this agreement with me, I will return with you to my native land, and will not only assist you to obtain all these commodities, but I will engage also to pay you a certain annual income out of my saving; and I will show you the short way to the most extensive region of wealth ever known to any nation in the world; and you can then travel that road, so that at no future period (at least within the imagination of man) shall you ever again complain of too great a population on your soil, or too small a market for your labour.
Then the good brother of England says to this Atlantic and Pacific brother,—We believe all you say of your wealth, and we see the great advantage it would be to us to partake of it, and to have the command of the road you point out, but what security are we to have that when our labourers and machinery are sent to your country they will be employed; and if you have neither gold nor silver nor other commodities ready to give us in exchange for the work and the articles, how are we to pay the people to prepare the machinery, and all our other labourers, whose wages would in England of course become higher, as they would be less in number, and there would be a greater quantity of work to be done. The brothers, in talking over this matter, discovered that "credit is indispensable, for rendering the whole capital of the country productive. It is also the means by which the industrial talent of the country is turned to most account for purposes of production. Many a person who has no capital of his own, or very little, but who has qualifications for business, which are known and appreciated by some person of capital, is enabled to obtain either advances of money, or more frequently goods, on credit, by which his industrial capacities are made instrumental in the increase of public wealth." The Pacific and Atlantic brother observed,—This is exactly my case. Only give me credit, and I will bind myself on my own personal security to give up whatever portion of my annual income you may consider necessary; and I will also secure the money advanced by you on my land, on the minerals thereof, and in any other way that may be deemed necessary. My brother of the Atlantic and Pacific Railway, says the Englishman, you have nearly convinced me; we will immediately appoint friends to draw up all the necessary agreements between us, that will enable me, if possible, to advance you such labour and machinery as may be required; and we will also proceed to appoint other friends, who shall take into consideration, in the first place, the expense incurred from your birth to a state of manhood, and the annual income that is derived from your business and your property; and leaving you sufficient to maintain yourself as a gentleman, we shall appropriate to ourselves whatever may remain, as a reward for our exertions and the risk to be incurred, and as a security for the interest of the money expended upon your account. The brothers having thus agreed in a general way, proceed immediately to appoint friends and to call upon their good old mother, Great Britain, to advance the money required, and their North American relations, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Canada, and Hudson's Bay, to come forward and make a general family treaty for the security and payment of such advances. The brothers were then congratulating themselves on what they considered the success of their project, when it was whispered to them that something of a similar plan had been proposed for their relation Ireland, by one "whose loss is too great to be slighted, and too recent not to be felt;" and it had been suggested that for every L100 expended on Railways in that country, L200 should be lent by Government; upon which occasion it had been observed by one who has greatly influenced, whether for good or evil, will be hereafter known, the destinies of the British Empire, that "the public credit of the State is one of the elements of our financial strength, and that it was not possible to appropriate a great portion of that public credit to the encouragement of commercial enterprises, without, to the same extent, foregoing the power to apply that public credit in another direction, in the event of the national exigencies requiring you to do so." The brothers replied, this is certainly true; but the proposed undertaking is not a commercial enterprise, although no doubt it would produce great commercial and colonizing results; but it is a grand national work,—a desideratum that has been wished for, looked for, and cared for, ever since the new world was discovered—that has repeatedly called forth great expenditure of money, great suffering, and loss of life in searching for it, to the north. It is, in short, the great high road between the Atlantic and Pacific—the expense of making which you are called upon to consider.
As regards Ireland, another bold measure has been suggested for that country; without giving any opinion upon it, I cannot help asking why we should not be as bold in peace as we were in war. Must we wait until
"The news is, sir, the Voices are in arms; Then indeed—we shall have means to vent Our musty superfluity?"
"Without raising one shilling out of the Exchequer," says Lucius (see Morning Post, Jan. 31st), "boldly apply the national credit to relieve the national distress; at once authorize the Bank of Ireland, or a bank to be created for that purpose, to issue twenty or thirty millions in aid of the landed proprietors; secondly, for the judicious encouragement of emigration, transplant those who cannot earn a subsistence at home to a comfortable settlement in our colonies, and to promote such mercantile or other undertakings, let the notes issued be made legal tenders for all payments whatever, and let the entire soil of Ireland be pledged for their ultimate security." Far be it from me to give any opinion on what is best to be done for Ireland, but certain I feel that what is here proposed and suggested regarding an Atlantic and Pacific Railway could not interfere with any plan Government might think right to adopt for the regeneration of Ireland, unless indeed by greatly facilitating all emigration plans and permanent employment.
But, independently of all this money question, "there is the strongest obligation on the government of a country like our own, with a crowded population and unoccupied continents under its command, to build as it were and keep open a bridge from the mother country to those continents." Let us reflect that "the economical advantages of commerce are surpassed in importance by those of its effects, which are intellectual and moral. It is hardly possible to overrate the value, for the improvement of human beings, of things which bring them in contact with persons dissimilar to themselves, and with modes of thought and action unlike those with which they are familiar. Commerce is now what war once was—the principal source of this contact. Commercial adventurers from more advanced countries have generally been the first civilizers of barbarians, and commerce is the purpose of the far greater part of the communication which takes place between civilized nations. It is commerce which is rapidly rendering war obsolete, by strengthening and multiplying the personal interest which is in natural opposition to it."—(Mill, Polit. Econ.) In whatever point of view, therefore, we regard this subject—whether as one of duty by providing the means of healthy and legitimate employment to our numerous artificers and labourers now in a state of destitution—a domestic calamity likely to be often inflicted upon us—unless new fields, easy of access, are made permanently open to our continually increasing population—and "it would be difficult to show that it is not as much the duty of rulers to provide, as far as they can, for the removal of a domestic calamity, as it is to guard the people entrusted to their care from foreign outrage"—will they "slumber till some great emergency, some dreadful economic or other crisis, reveals the capacities of evil which the volcanic depths of our society may now hide under but a deep crust?"—or whether we view it as a means of assisting any general system in the penal code—or whether we view it as a point of individual or government interest, by turning all that extra-productive power, now idle, in the direction of our own colonies, and thus connecting and attaching them more strongly to the mother country—increasing their wealth, their power and our own:—or whether we consider it in a moral and religious point of view, as affording greater and quicker facilities for the spread of education and the Gospel of Christ[see Note 58]—or whether we look upon it as an instrument for the increase of commerce, and (as an important consequence) the necessarily directing men's minds, with the bright beams of hope from their own individual and immediate distress, as well as from the general excitement and democratic feeling and spirit of contention showing itself amongst many nations (an object greatly to be desired) for—
"The times are wild.... ....Every minute now May be the father of some stratagem;"
—or whether we look at it in a political point of view, as keeping open to us at all times, without the necessity of interference with other nations or of war, a great high road to most of our colonial possessions, and particularly to India—viewing it then in any one of these points, who can doubt for a moment the beneficial results that must attend such an undertaking. But when all these considerations are taken together, we must repeat what we said in a former page, that it is a grand and a noble undertaking, and that it must be accomplished by Great Britain and her colonies.
Let us reflect, lastly, my dear friend, that "the world now contains several extensive regions, provided with various ingredients of wealth, in a degree of abundance of which former ages had not even an idea." Your native land, and the other North American provinces, have, even by their own exertions, made rapid advances in wealth, accompanied by moral and intellectual attainments, and can look forward at no very distant period (if even left to their own exertions) to be enabled to take a very prominent position in the affairs of the world. But the Hudson's Bay Company's territory is still nearly in its primitive state, and much indeed is to be expected from its advancement, when it shall have taken its proper station in the general trade and commerce of mankind; the position of Vancouver's Island is such that there is little reason to doubt its wealth and consequence will place it high in the scale of England's offspring.[see Note 59]
But, my dear friend, unless your mind has become as fully impressed as my own with the vast importance of this great Railway undertaking, I shall only tire you the more and detain you to no purpose by dwelling longer on the subject; and indeed even should your mind be satisfied with the importance of the work, it may yet conceive it to be of an impracticable nature. "Who (I have been asked) in the living generation would be reimbursed for the outlay? and without that, who will undertake a national work, however grand or remunerative to future ages?" To this I answer fearlessly, that thousands of human beings of the present generation would benefit by the outlay; that the employment would be a quite sufficiently lucrative one and visibly so, as to induce the English capitalist to come forward and undertake the formation of a Company; for even at this moment Railways are in contemplation,[see Note 40] if not actually commenced, from Halifax to Quebec and from New Brunswick to Halifax; and how much more would these Lines be paying Lines when they had also an opening to the Pacific! But no individual nor combination of individuals could have sufficient influence with, or, if they had the influence, could have the necessary power to induce, the Hudson's Bay Company to open its territories, and to enter into all the arrangements and all the agreements that would be necessary to be made with that Company, with England, and with the North American Colonies, before a work affecting the interests of so many could be commenced.
It is necessary then that Government should take the initiative, and it is not uncommon for her so to do in all great national works, such as roads, surveys, expeditions either for the objects of science or commerce; such as those sent to discover the north-west passage, upon which thousands have been spent,[see Note 44] and on account of which, at this very moment, England has to deplore, in all probability, the loss of many a noble son, whose relatives have been for so long a time kept in all the agony of suspense. Upon no other description of work would Great Britain be required to advance a single penny; but the very fact of her undertaking what may be considered legitimate expenses of a government, the survey and marking out the whole Line, the entering into treaties with her Colonies and the Hudson's Bay Company for the general security of the money, and for the interest for a certain number of years of the capital of the Company, would give such a confidence to the public mind, that a very short time would bring into full operation in that direction, sufficient of the power and wealth of England to accomplish the work; and when accomplished, Government would still hold a lien upon it until she was reimbursed every penny. And, let me ask, are there not a thousand expenditures that have been undertaken by Government for which no reimbursement has ever taken place; and are not individuals every day risking their capital and their accumulation of savings, in speculations in foreign lands,[see Note 61] when the result of those past connections have been such as to lead the Minister of Foreign Affairs, even in his place in the House of Commons, to hold out as it were a threat to the whole world, if England's children did not receive their due. Surely it would be more prudent, more politically wise, and more economical, for Government to encourage the expenditure of our own capital in our own Colonies.
Sitting in his arm chair, in his office in London, the Minister of Great Britain can now convey his thoughts, his wishes, his commands, in a few moments to every part of England and Scotland, and will soon be enabled to do so to Ireland.[see Note 66] He can send the soldiers, horse and foot, as well as the artillery of Great Britain, flying through the land at almost any rate he wishes. And all heavy stores and goods of the merchants can be easily forwarded at about twopence, and even, I believe, a penny a mile per ton, and at about twenty miles an hour; and a penny a letter now enables every individual in England to communicate, at almost every hour, with his distant friends and relations; the post office itself travelling at a rate and with an ease little to be comprehended by those who have not witnessed it. The result of such immense wealth and such enormous power is more than is required for England, and would necessarily carry with it its own destruction, was not her empire one which encircles the world.
Let the minister then who guides and directs the wealth and power above described, and in whose hands the destinies and happiness of thousands are placed, picture to himself the encouragement that would be given to British industry and British enterprize, if, at ten days distance from her shores, a port was established from which he would be enabled to send across the Continent of America his thoughts, his wishes, and his commands, with the same speed at which they now travel throughout England; and if these thoughts, wishes and commands would reach every one of our own Colonies in the Pacific in about fifteen days after leaving the western shore of North America; and if from the same port (ten days distance from England) could also be despatched the troops of Great Britain, if unfortunately necessary, travelling at the rate before described; if heavy stores and merchants' goods could also be enabled to cross the Continent of America, at the same price and at the same speed as they now travel in England; if the post office system could also be introduced, and if letters at a penny each might pass between relation and relation, between friend and friend from England to her most distant Colonies—if her children gone forth to colonize could then either return or communicate their every wish to England in less than a month; and reclining in his own arm chair, reflecting as he ought to do and must do upon the power and wealth of England, let him not say that all here described is not easily within her reach. Let him rather consider the subject with a view to become the Leader of the Country in such a noble work. If it is a bold work, let him remember that fortune favours the brave.—"Si secuta fuerit, quod debet Fortuna, gaudebimus omnes, sin minus, ego tamen gaudebo."
And now, my dear friend, whose patience I have so long taxed, it is time that we should part—
"Whether we shall meet again I know not; If we do meet again—why we shall smile. If not, for ever and for ever farewell."
Sincerely and faithfully attached,
JUNIOR UNITED SERVICE CLUB, February, 1849.
The last correction for the press was scarcely finished, when "Canada in 1848" was put into my hands. Had I, a month ago, seen that little pamphlet, written as it is with so much spirit and ability, I should hardly, perhaps, have felt sufficiently inclined to have suggested one Line of Railway, in opposition to the views of its talented author. I trust I need scarcely assure Lieut. Synge, that in any observations I have made upon Canals, I had no reference whatever to his grand scheme,—nor the least intention of treating lightly his magnificent project, of which, until a day or two ago, I did not even know the existence. I cannot now, however, let my Letter to my friend the Author of the Clockmaker go forth to the public, without availing myself of the opportunity thus afforded me, of bringing also to the notice of those who read that letter "the existing resources of British North America," so fully and powerfully pointed out by Lieut. Millington Henry Synge, of the Royal Engineers. Educated myself at Woolwich, and having served for seven years in his sister corps, the Artillery, I feel proud and happy that there are so many points upon which we can and do agree. There are some, however, and one in particular most important, on which we are completely at issue. Lieut. Synge says, "A ship annually arrives at Fort York for the service of the Hudson's Bay Company; who can tell how many may eventually do so?" Now my wish is that the one "annually" arriving may never have again to travel that Bay, whose climate in winter and summer is horrible. I shall say no more on this subject at present; but I strongly recommend all those who have condescended to read and reflect upon the foregoing pages, to read and reflect also upon what has been written by Lieut. Synge. His pamphlet has afforded me the greatest possible pleasure. The manner in which (p. 5) he speaks of the people of the Colonies is completely in unison with my own expressed feelings; and all the arguments that he brings forward in favour of the great work upon which he has evidently thought so much, and in his pamphlet so clearly explained, bear equally in favour of the suggested Railway. He states that there is "a field open to almost an illimitable capital of labour; that the systematic development of the resources of British North America will, so far from being a drain upon Great Britain, be of immediate advantage to her. That such development entails a natural, enduring, and perfect union between Great Britain and that part of her empire in North America. That completeness of communication, including facility, rapidity, and security, is indeed the true secret of the rapidity and completeness of the development of the country." These are the thoughts of Lieut. Synge, and I think I have already explained that they are equally mine. We have suggested different methods. Lieut. Synge wishes to improve the old Line of water communication; and Colonization would then be naturally confined to the banks of Rivers and of Lakes. A great Line of Railway communication would, on the other hand, be naturally of some distance from the River, and in many instances carried through the heart of the country, and thus serve as another main artery, in which would circulate the wealth of the empire, and on each side of which would be opened valuable land, on which settlers could locate without being lost, or disheartened by the solitude of the wilderness. Again, Lieut. Synge asks, "Is it not wonderful that no independent mail route exists, to give the British Provinces the benefit of the geographical position of Halifax. Is it not wonderful that there should be no interprovincial means of rapid communication?" Such are the questions of Lieut. Synge—and such questions, I trust, will soon be answered by a Colonial Minister—that a new era will soon be open for the Colonies—new life and energy be given to them. But time presses, and I must here conclude, with again assuring Lieut. Synge of the sincere pleasure with which I have read his pamphlet, and that I shall make use of such extracts as can be hastily added, in the shape of Notes, to my own Letter to the Author of the Clockmaker:—happy shall I be if we agree—
"Sul campo della gloria noi pugneremo a lato: Frema o sorrida il fato vicino a te staro, La morte o la vittoria con te dividero."
JUNIOR UNITED SERVICE CLUB, February 28, 1849.
(1) The writer of this letter, when returning from Halifax to England in the spring of 1838, had the good fortune to take his passage in the same government packet with the author of the Clockmaker, who was proceeding to England with the second series of that work: and afterwards, when paying a momentary visit to Halifax in the winter of 1844, he experienced the high gratification of knowing, by the very kind reception he met with, that he had not been forgotten neither, by his Compagnons de voyage, Haliburton and Howe, nor by the other kind and highly valued friends he had formerly made in that city.
(2) The history and particulars of this canal are well known at Halifax, and Samuel P. Fairbanks, Esq. (Master of the Rolls at Nova Scotia) brought to England with him in the Tyrian all the plans, maps, &c. connected with that canal, and was, I believe, sent as a representative of the parties connected with the work, in the hope that he might be able to induce the government to advance sufficient money for its completion. The fine large locks of this canal remain to tell the tale of money sunk in an unfinished work. No encouragement certainly to canal speculations.
(3) "The distance, as I make it, from Bristol to New York Lighthouse, is 3037 miles; from Bristol to Halifax Lighthouse is 2479; from Halifax Light to New York Light is 522 miles, in all 3001 miles; 558 miles shorter than New York Line, and even going to New York 36 miles shorter to stop at Halifax, than go to New York direct."—So says the Clockmaker in 1838.
(4) "Get your legislatur' to persuade Government to contract with the Great Western folks to carry the mail, and drop it in their way to New York; for you got as much and as good coal to Nova Scotia as England has, and the steam boats would have to carry a supply of 550 miles less, and could take in a stock at Halifax for the return voyage to Europe. If ministers won't do that, get 'em to send steam packets of their own, and you wouldn't be no longer an everlastin' outlandish country no more as you be now. And, more than that, you wouldn't lose all the best emigrants and all their capital."—Clockmaker, 1838.
(5) "The communication by steam between Nova Scotia and England will form a new era in colonial history. It will draw closer the bonds of affection between the two countries, afford a new and extended field for English capital, and develope the resources of that valuable but neglected province. Mr. Slick, with his usual vanity, claims the honour of suggesting it, as well as the merit of having, by argument and ridicule, reasoned and shamed the Government into its adoption."—Clockmaker, 1841.
(6) "In the Duke of Kent the Nova Scotians lost a kind patron and a generous friend. The loyalty of the people, which, when all America was revolting, remained firm and unshaken, and the numerous proofs he received of their attachment to their king and to himself, made an impression upon his mind that was neither effaced nor weakened by time or distance. Should these pages happily meet the eye of a colonial minister, who has other objects in view than the security of place and the interest of a party, may they remind him of a duty that has never been performed but by the illustrious individual, whose former residence among us gave rise to these reflections. This work is designed for the cottage, and not for the palace; and the author has not the presumption even to hope that it can ever be honoured by the perusal of his sovereign. Had he any ground for anticipating such a distinction for it, he would avail himself of this opportunity of mentioning that, in addition to the dutiful affection the Nova Scotians have always borne to their monarch, they feel a more lively interest in, and a more devoted attachment to, the present occupant of the throne, from the circumstance of the long and close connexion that subsisted between them and her illustrious parent. He was their patron, benefactor and friend. To be a Nova Scotian was of itself a sufficient passport to his notice, and to posses merit a sufficient guarantee for his favour. Her Majesty reigns therefore, in this little province, in the hearts of her subjects, a dominion of love inherited from her father."—Clockmaker, 1841.