תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

a

As I have, in a preceding part, entered into the question of the actual cost (derived from various sources) of reclaiming Irish waste lands under a variety of conditions, so I propose to investigate, by way of comparison, the means and amount of capital (labour) requi. site to bring into a rude state of cultivation similar quantities of the wild lands of America.

It is well known that wild lands are of two kinds, “ wood," or “ bush land,” and “prairie land.". The latter is principally to be had in the western States ; and all the government lands there are sold for cash, at the rate of one dollar, twenty-five cents to one dollar, fifty cents, per acre, or from 5s. to 6s. (sterling) per acre, and in sections of 640 acres, and half and quarter sections, the least quantity obtainable being 160 acres. Therefore, it will be seen that in order to get government land in the states, a man will necessarily repuire to have some capital in hands; for be it understood, this is altogether a cash transaction. There is, however, a species of " middlemen" --speculators and land companies, large capitalists-who buy up the government lands. These afterwards dispose of them to settlers at increased rates, varying from five dollars or thirty dollars per acre, according to location, and on credit terms, ranging from four to five years, with interest. But the conditions which these land jobbers generally enforce, as to fencing and bringing into a state of cultivation a certain stipulated quantity of land, render it necessary that a settler obtaining land, even in this manner, should possess a small capital to begin with, and the amount of course will be proportionate to the price he has to pay, and the extent of his land.

Supposing, however, that a man were able to get a prairie lot of about forty acres ; this would be a very small lot, and generally speaking, small lots fetch higher rates than large ones; but let us assume that he is enabled to get such a lot ; for instance, in the State of Illinois, say at ten dollars an acre, and five years to pay for it in full. In the first pl.ce before he could receive his contract for a deed of conveyance, there would be two years' interest to pay, say at three per cent., making about 51. sterling. He has also to build some sort of habitation for himself, and from the fact that timber is rather expensive in the prairie, this will absorb a considerable portion of the settler's ready money. Then he is obliged to break up and fence in at least one-tenth of the lands purchased; this will involve an additional cash outlay; and assuming that he can hire cattle and the necessary means of breaking up the prairie, the cost of bringing land of this kind into a rude state of cultivation will be about 21. 108. or 31. an acre, exclusive of purchase money. These estimates show that it is idle for a settler to embark in such au undertaking with a less capital than 401. at the very lowest.

Let us now take the other class of wild land. I shall take for illustration the most favourably circumstanced case of “bush-land" in upper Canada.

In a remote, wild country in Canada West, called the Ottowa, there is now a vast territory in process of free settlement, and great efforts are being made by government agents to attract settlers into this region ; in fact, at present, this district absorbs the principal part of the emigration to Canada, and the chief reason for this may be said to be on account of the favourable and easily complied with nature of the government regulations, which merely stipulate that the settler should build a house of certain dimensions, clear a certain number of acres, and personally occupy the land. Any person over eighteen years of age can have a hundred acres of this wild land free " for ever,” subject only to the above conditions.

These terms are not only liberal on the part of the government, but extremely favourable to the rapid developement and future progress of the se tlement. However, let it not be supposed that even here a person without capital can possibly avail himself of the opportunity of obtaining a free grant of land. The government agents themselves admit that a man taking up a location here should possess a capital of something like 301. to begin with, so that a poor person leaving Ireland without the necessary capital, on arriving at the. settlement, would not be in a position to put in a claim for a free allotment.

The clearing and bringing into a state of cultivation an acre of wood-land in Canada, is no trifling work. It bas been estimated, however, that a first-rate axe-man can fell and chop :he trees, on an acre of bush land, in about nine days ; but it must be remarked that a “green-horn," unacquainted with the use of the axe, would take almost as long clearing an acre, as an old pioneer, in these regions, would be in clearing ten acres, so that, in reality, the above estimate applies only to skilled labour. Let us, however, suppose that nine men, receiving the ordinary wages of a lumbering district, are employed on this operation; the next business is to pile up the logs, so as to have them all burned at once ; this will require ten men and two yoke of oxen. The next operation is to set the whole on tire, which, after all, is not so easy a matter as might be supposed. To see that no half burnt logs remain to encumber the ground, and that all are consumed to ashes, requires considerable attention ; and to have this performed effectually it will be necessary to employ four men, and a yoke of oxen in order to draw the unburnt and incum. bent logs into fresh piles to be burned over again, or if not to remove them out of the way. This finishes the business of clearing an acre of wood-land, the severest work a man can be employed at; but let it not be imagined that an acre of soil is thereby brought into a state fit for immediate cultivation. It must be borne mind, that all the stumps and roots still remain, and that consequently, a considerable portion of the ground is thereby unavailable for cultivation; to this must be added the irregularities of surface, representing creeks and ponds of stagnant surface water, which interfere with cultivation until effectually removed by drainage. All this portion of the area, which on an average may be estimated at about thirty per cent. of the whole, for the first five years must be considered waste and unprofitable. From thenceforth until the stumps and roots are thoroughly cleared, which probably will not be for a generation, there will be a permanent waste of fifteen to twenty-five per cent. of the whole area, at all times presenting obstacles and impediments in the way of the plough and harrow. So that iny estimate, although treating nominally of an acre of cleared ground, does not in reality

a

afford an absolute available surface for cultivation of more than txo rouds, thirty-two perches, exclusive of that to be occupied by a fence.

The fence is also to be noted as an element of cost, inasmuch as, where trespass is to be guarded against, it is actually in importance secondary only to clearing. But as it is not a general practice to cnclose se small an area as an acre, and as the numbers of rails re. quisite for fencing will be proportionately greater where a given area is subdivided, than where the whole is in one enclosure, so it may not be correct to base our calculations upon so small a sub-division as that of an acre. We shall therefore take a larger range, and assi. milate the expense per acre. Now 4704 rails will fence twenty acres; so that this would be at the rate of 235 rails per acre; the splitting and building up of which into a fence may be taken as the work of four men. This will close the undertaking. . Now if we sum up the actual money cost of this entire process of reclamation, exclusive of any other charge (such as, for the erection of a log house, &c.), and take the current rate of wages of men at one dollar, and the hire of oxen at two dollars per day, it will be found that the clearing of an acre of “bush land" in Canada will cost on an average about £6 12s. ; ' and be it renuembered that the acre will be minus one rood, eight perches of land available for cultivation. I have before shown that prairie land, every perch of which will be available for a corn (Indian) crop, will only cost from £2 to £3. The cost of reclaiming our own“ waste lands" ranges from £5 to £7 sterling. In the first case the sum mentioned will be the absolute cost, the land being a free grant ; whereas in the second case, the purchase inoney must be added, which will leave the cost from £4 to £5 per acre; and in the case of the Irish waste lands taking the valuation of the crown lands of King williamstown as approximately correct data, the actual reclamation and purchase would cost from £5 10s. to £7 per acre. Or if we struck an average according to a still lower calculation, the respective values might stand thus:

[blocks in formation]

It is known, that much of the waste lands of Ireland have been successfully brought into a state of cultivation by enterprizing land. lords and public companies, whose operations are recorded. There is another class of persons, however, of whose operations and practice

There are some land companies in Canada, I believe, who undertake to “fell" the trees on land purchased of at about half that amount; this is, however, anything but “ clearing," and a more expensive mode after all than the one I have dealt with.

a

in the reclamation of waste land, we have no precise information beyond the following simple, facts. A poor labourer, obtaining a free allotinent of waste land for a few years, not exceeding three years, stimulated to exertion and industry by the consciousness of being permitted to reap the fruits of his hard toil, succeeds in effectually reclaiming a patch of such land, without any other capital than his labour In all probability, the poor labourer's share of the profits arising out of his own industry and enterprize, was, in this instance, comparatively small. Still the inference cannot be overlooked, that an individual, under such circumstances, would invariably seek and accept a renewal of the contract for another allotment, under precisely similar terms; and the probability is that the modus operandi of the poor peasant was less expensive than that of the landlord. I have myself witnessed, in the south of Ireland, a very sharp competition, among a class of poor labourers, for a patch of cut away bog which the proprietor advertised to be reclaimed, on the conditions of a three years' freehold. The successful candidate, forced by the competition, agreed to give up a certain portion reclaimed at the end of the second year, on the understanding of getting a preference to another similar allotment on the completion of his first contract. Such instances are probably not unfrequent throughout the country; and no evidence, I think, can be more conclusive as to the practicability of reclaiming waste land than this. Can it then be doubted, that, if a poor man obtained a few acres of waste land, and had the privilege of buying it out at its unreclaimed value on easy credit terms, he would look upon himself as a proud and happy fellow ?

We earnestly recommend this pamphlet to all our readers : it contains matter of the deepest importance, and is made valuable to the student of economic science by some very carefully prepared tables.

Sir Robert Kane shewed long ago, in times when there was a public spirit in Ireland, and before the present care-nothing and know-nothing national idiotcy had come upon her, what the general industrial resources of the country are : that book made men think : here is a little essay which should make men act, and act through that greatest of all motive powers—their breeches' pockets. That which Mr. Hayes shews can be done, O'Connell worked for, wrote for, spoke for; it has been urged upon the nation by statesmen, by political economists, and by men of science, from the time of the Rev. Samuel Madden* to our own; and what was thus

If the Irish peasantry could be induced to act on the co-operative principle adopted by the German settlers in the United States, it would facilitate the work of reclamation and enable thein to econo. mise their labour and means. But I may have more to say in reference to this branch of the subject on some future occasion.

+ See memoir of “Rev. Samuel Madden" in Irish QUARTERLY Review, No. IX. : and “ The Survey of Ireland," which is also a Memoir of Sir William Petty, in No. VI.-Ed.

if we

66

urged for Ireland is precisely that which the sharpest and most clear-headed man of this age, the Emperor of the French, is about to accomplish in his own State, the reclamation of the waste lands of France.

In the commencement of this paper we referred to the wretched system prevailing in the Irish Poor-houses, which sends out upon the world periodically, bordes of uptaught, untrained, and debased“ home-heathens.” If we were to reprint Swist's Proposal for Rendering Poor Children Beneficial Instead of Burdensome ; if we were to present a copy of it to every elected and to every ex-officio Guardian in Ireland;

were to dwell in conversation with the Poor-Law Commissioners, upon the delicacy of flavor of "a plump young girl of fifteen ;" if we were to say to the South Dublin Guardians,“ supposing that 1000 families in this city would be constant customers for infants' flesh, besides others who might have it at merry-meetings, particularly at weddings and christenings, I compute that Dublin would take off annually about 20,000 carcasses; and the rest of the kingdom where probably they will be sold somewhat cheaper, the remaining thousands” —we should be considered mad—and yet, although the Poor Law Guardians will not fatten their young paupers for the table, although they will not sell their bodies to be eaten, yet they rear them under a system which sends them forth upon the world ready for sale, in soul and body, to the tempter; they send them forth without one principle to guide, without one thought to restrain them, they are truly

“ The dauntless infants never scared by God," each is that woful

“Child of misery baptized in tears." This subject of the management of poor-house-reared chil. dren has now become of vast and pressing importance; they increase the cost of our bospitals, they fill our gaols, and to punish them estimates under the head of “Justice" in the estimates is vastly increased; whilst owing to them crime does not decrease as it should, and criminal reformation is almost hopeless amongst those reared in the poor-houses.

* I could,” said a poor-house Chaplain to us a few days ago, recommend nearly all the girls in this house under fourteen years of age. After that age, they are moved amongst the adults, and they are lost.”' “Our boys,” said the master of a poor-house to us, “are good boys until they join the adults, aud then they go wrong.” “The worst boys I ever

« הקודםהמשך »