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In every-day conversation, in politics, and in business, how often do we hear of emigration! Emigration! It is a word that brings with it a host of second-hand, ready-made opinions; and to the people of this country any realization of the meaning of the word appears so very useless and gratuitous, that if American dictionaries were to he published without it, the omission might not be detected, at least for some time to corne.
• What is the good of emigration ? is a question little likely to be correctly answered by any of the parties immediately concerned. Ask the emigrant, and his answer will be according to his previous education and preconceived views. Ask the shipowner : he will tell you that the passenger trade helps his calculations on the main chance' considerably. Ask the packet captain ; he will tell you that passengers are a set of helpless lubbers, but that they are generally made of the right sort of stuff, and are well calculated io become good citizens. Answers equally characteristic would be received from all persons connected by business with such a system of emigration as that now in progess between Europe and America. The moral bearings and tendencies of this erratic movement of population are so important and elevated, that we cannot reasonably require an expanded view of them from those whose time is occupied in the performance of the classified duties of their respective stations. It is only by making a study of the entire subject of emigration, that one can expect to arrive at all the points afforded by such a wide field of observation. To arrive at correct impressions of emigration, we must endeavor to discover the motives of those who emigrate.
The joyous-hearted and patriotic Irishman, on leaving the boys' who were bis companions in old Ireland, must have heaved a sigh when the anchor was heaved for his departure. The Frenchman who takes his leave of all the glory of La Grande Nation,' could only support himself with the consolations of his box of snuff. The meditative and musical German, when he lands in one of our seaport towns, finds himself compelled to mingle in a busy throng, whose individual faces only remind him that he has rudely rooted up all the tender ties of home, language, and goodly fellowship. The British emigrant is comparatively at home in the United States, because of the use of similar language ; but to the emigrants from other European nations, the difference of language is a sore trial, and a great draw-back. The honest German, for instance, finds that the sentiments of the heart can only be expressed by years of mutual acquaintance and experience ; and knowing that music is the only universal language, he makes all the use he can of it. While inconvenience is being considered, bow shall we account for the departure of the Englishman from the land of his ancestors ? Your Èngishman is such an obstinate, home-loving, petrified personification
of local attachments, that above all other national and notional beings, he is the least likely to emigrate from the impulse of mere fancy. An Englishman will grumble without any reason at all; but when he quits his native land, there must be some most powerful reasons to induce him to commit an act so totally foreign to his nature.
In looking at a party of English agricultural laborers, the observant mind is easily led into an examination of the immediate and remote causes which must have induced such men to leave such a country as England. The examination would be more searching, and the reflections would be more profitable, to those who are acquainted with the bright and the dark sides of English society; because the immense wealth of the upper classes will be found, on due consideration, to be a great addition to their moral accountability. It is manifest, that while the rich have two influences in society, one good and the other evil, the poor can have but one social influence, which must be good, because we cannot accuse them of setting a bad example when they are not regarded as examples. The poor could no more set an example than they can introduce a fashion. It is the abuse of the mighty power and influence of example for which the rich are accountable. They have a great influence, for good or for evil; and upon the discretionary use of this power, depends not only their own temporal and spiritual happiness, but the comfort and moral advancement of all around them. Facts and figures show* that the value of the agricultural products of Great Britain is fourteen times greater than her exports, at the same period that the commerce of Great Britain is greater and more in amount than that of any nation on the face of the earth. These items look well; they show the wisdom of the government in its liberal encouragement of the agricultural interest; they show the generous patronage of the land-owners in their constant pursuit of agricultural improvement; but what can we say of the poor men and patient women who have done all the work? Are they any more comfortable for producing and living near so much wealth ? We do not know what to say; we leave wrangling to the politicians. But there must be a great and manifold wrong somewhere. The sufferings and endurance of the English poor are so great, that we approach this portion of our inquiry with a presentiment of the awful misery which the truth will disclose.
It is ordained that there shall always be sore among us who are poor :t with this fact before our eyes, the wealthy should beware how they allow themselves to place more reliance upon the efficacy of legislation than upon the exercise of the promptings of Christianity. In England, we see millions of men toiling day after day to furnish their distant superiors with the wealth to engender more and more distance between them; so that the rich are not only unacquainted with the wants and feelings of the poor, but in process of time, by the aid of a false-hearted affectation of superiority, they positively refuse to listen to reason, or hear any thing at all relating to the subject; and any person, when in their company, who may have had the temerity to speak of the claims of the poor to the mutual sympathies
* See M'Queen's letter to LORD MELBOURNE.
of humanity, might just as well have gone round and trod on the toes of the ladies and gentlemen' present. It is true that there is an abundance of charitable societies in England; it is true that a great deal of absolute good is done by those who are fond of exhibiting their benevolence, and playing upon the feelings of the poor at the same time : but it is also true, that nearly all the kindly offices of humanity are delegated to poor-law commissioners, or their agents, who contract to do all the sympathizing in a whole 'union' of parishes, for the solid equivalents of good salaries, with 'coals and candles' included. This delegation of sympathy is carried to such a formal extent, that the upper and the lower classes are more and more divided, and consequently less and less able to appreciate the social attributes and qualities of each other.
To American readers, this picture of English society may appear harsh and exaggerated; but indeed, the few among the rich who really use their wealth understandingly, are so scattered, that it could be only at a very large meeting of the respectability,' where there would be any chance of meeting with one person who does not consider the mere niention of the possibility of poverty as a 'decided bore.' For this reason, among all classes of society in England, it may be observed, that ungraduated sympathy is discarded as 'positively vulgar;' while the spirit of exclusiveness is harbored and cherished in the heart, as if it really were something that would prove to be a rock of consolation in the trials of life or the struggles of death. How much mankind are liable to be deceived in their estimation of what is supposed to make a nation' great and glorious,' may be seen in the legislative oppression which must have been exercised to first brutalize and then drive away Englishmen from the stately homes' of their forefathers. This legalized oppression comes from the spirit of exclusiveness, and that spirit comes from the property and respectability' of the country, whence proceed the laws of the land and the manners of the people. If the poor, in their turn, are selfish, reckless, and immoral, who are to blame for setting the example ? Perhaps this is a digression, and perhaps it is not.
The history of mankind furnishes abundant proof that the road of human progress is paved with the toils and trodden-down aspirations of generation after generation. From this it is very evident that all the stages of improvement can only be accomplished by the process of making a discriminating use of our knowledge. Knowledge comprises both good and evil. Wisdom discriminates, and is only good. How many bright men have been deceived by the supposition that knowledge is power,' without reflecting that uncontrolled power is a dangerous companion! We see also, in our own day, that the chimerical attempts at · human improvement which are contended for by the opiniatory cut-throats of the age, are almost invariably unproductive or impracticable, because the state of society at the time will not admit of such lop-sided progress, and is unprepared even to converse upon some of the subjects which societyiinkers are so fond of agitating There is, however, a negative utility in this agitation, which proves that all things, even folly and fanaticism, way work together for the good of man. Antagonist principles in the body politic are as useful as antagonist muscles in
the human frame. Those who have seen the sculptor produce beauty and grace from marble, by means of a repetition of angular surfaces, will be able to form some idea of the real progress which attends the elevation of man to his property dignity. Liberty is too precious to be undeserved, and while a man remains unsuited for liberty, he may be compared to a sinner at the gate of heaven. His mind must be born again' in a trusting faith, in practical wisdom, and in the light of truth. Individual improvement is the only true 'improvement' that can prepare us for the spiritualization of humanity.
These reflections bring us to a consideration of the force of circumstances on the character of man. While we are inquiring into what the world ought to be, we must not neglect to notice what it actually is in our own time; for, whatever may be our bopes or our speculations in moral philosophy,the conviction will develope itself, that in all the business of life we have to take the world as we find it. The very structure of society is based upon concomitant circumstances, and great evils cause lesser evils to be tolerated. In submitting to all the wear and tear of feeling attendant upon emigrating from one's native country, we yield passively to the force of circumstances. Thus it will be seen that emigration is one of those secondary influences, by the means of which primary principles are progressively advanced.
For many reasons, then, emigration is in reality an instructive, amusing, and soul-cheering subject for the mind to contemplate. Emigrants now arrive by hundreds of thousands annually. These people are from all parts of Europe, and as each individual leaves a large circle of friends in that thickly-populated quarter of the globe, we may reasonably suppose that this country holds a great claim on the affections of the millions of their countrymen, who, although they may never see the American coast, still regard the United States and its government with feelings of friendship, and hearts full of hope.
Love of country is as sincere a virtue now as ever it was in the days of the Romans or Greeks. We would as soon expect to hear a man speak disrespectfully of his mother as of bis native land; but patriotisın is only one virtue, after all; and the time has passed by when one virtue would make a hero. Men have learned to see, appreciate, and work out their social destiny. When we leave the land of our birth, it is no proof that we lack patriotism. It rather goes to show, that with all our amor patriæ, we also possess overruling feelings and views. In the case of the ignorant man who does not understand the movements in which he participates, the act of emigrating shows that all of us are the agents of more universal and catholic influences than our ancestors, because it must be acknowledged that love of country has been and is now naturally imbibed by the people of all nations, white, red, or black; rich or poor, educated or ignorant. As an evidence that instinctive love of country has not degenerated, we may proudly refer to the American revolution ; the dogged nationality of the emigrants from each country; and the every-day evidence of current events. But it requires very little insight into the present state of the world, for us to observe that, although we possess as much national feeling as our forefathers, it is
held in a more charitable and tolerant manner; so that, while each individual retains his or her opinion, we learn to give way, and make allowances for each other, by taking into consideration the circumstances which may have influenced our lives, and our opportunities for observation. In this country, if a foreigner were heard to speak with injustice of his native land, the Americans who heard him would naturally infer that such a man would never be likely to become a good citizen of any adopted country. This illustrates what may be called the universality of nationality; and it is a feeling that is every where respected, because we admire those qualities in others which we believe ourselves to possess. Love of country is one thing, and exclusive love of country is another. This is a distinction with a considerable difference; and this is the nature of the difference between the nationality of the present age and the nationality of the ancients.
Perhaps the only way, next to actual observation, in which the real motives and objects of emigrants might be explained, would be to collate some of the every day scenes of real life among the classes who emigrate, in such a manner as to show the hopes and movements of the parties before and after their arrival in this mighty field of human and divine power, the United States of North America.
It may very readily be conceived that the incidents connected with such a systematic arrival of emigrants yearly, must elicit many traits of buman nature, in all its various trials and triumphs. These incidents have been watched for many years by those who have mingled much with the steerage and the cabin passengers of life; and, as such indications of the heart are generally honorable to mankind, useful for reflection, and instructive in the lessons which they teach, it is quite probable that we may, in some future numbers, tag a few of them together, in a sort of carcanet of the pearls of humanity.
AMBITIO multos mortales falsos fieri subegit; aliud clausum in pectore, aliud promptum in lingua habere; amicitias, inimicitiasque uon ex re, sed ex commodo æstimare ; magisque vultum, quam ingenium bonum habere.
When shall the free in name, be free indeed ?
Nor thou, my country, blush to own us sons,
In whose degenerate bosoms coldly runs
Blind slaves of this or that discordant clan,
We sink the patriot in the partisan,
With tongue and pen we balile with our brother,
And madly strive to stigmatise each other
W. P. P.