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LETTER TO THE REV. ERNEST HAWKINS ON
THE SPIRITUAL CARE OF EMIGRANTS.
MY DEAR SIR,—The feeling that has arisen in favour of a religious provision for Emigrants from this country during the time of their passage to the Colonies, appears to me to furnish a favourable opportunity for a further step upon that principle which the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel has of late always kept in view in its operations ; namely, that of gradually withdrawing aid from our Dependencies in proportion as they become able to provide for their own spiritual needs, and of bestowing the bulk of its support partly on strictly Missionary operations, partly on the spiritual care of our Emigrants during the first stages of their emigration and settlement.
I can draw nothing but constant confirmation of this principle, both from further reflection on the case in general, and from the progressive development of the Colonial Church. Nothing can be in itself more unreasonable than that Dependencies, which we hope to see, as far as possible, reproducing a complete image of the Mother-Country in all their institutions, should be accustomed to look anywhere but to their own resources for the permanent support of their ecclesiastical establishments; and, on the other hand, the constant formation of new Colonial Dioceses calls, in the loudest manner, for the liberal application of the sound principle of operation on the part of the Society, by giving a good start, so to speak, to those infant Dioceses, till they may be so methodized and consolidated as to be able to support their own institutions.
But it is obvious that, with respect to all our Colonies, the most important practical application of this principle is immediately connected with the subject mentioned in the outset of this paper. We encourage in every possible way, for the relief of this country, for their own benefit, and for that of the Colonies, the departure from its shores of vast bodies of Emigrants, and pour them into our North American and Australian Colonies. What these Colonies have a right to demand is, that concurrently with the progress of this mere human supply, we should send out both the men, in due numerical proportion, who are needed for its moral and spiritual care, and the means for their continuance in the Colony during those early stages of settlement, when the Emigrants are unable duly to provide these means for themselves.
This, however, is the most abstract way of stating the case, and without further explanation would only be applicable to a Colonial district when the first settlers go out to it from this country. In existing circumstances the Society is obliged to modify the strict application of the rule, partly by obligations which it has contracted, and by the existing circumstances of Colonial society, partly by the habits of chronic dependence on its funds which have been allowed to grow up, especially in the North American Colonies ; but the principle itself is to be kept always steadily in view.
Now, if we divide our Colonial Empire into the three obvious classes of the North American, the West Indian, and the Australian Colonies (to which last should be added Ceylon and the Cape of Good Hope), it is easy to see that they, each of them, furnish a clear illustration of the manner in which our principle should be worked, both in its positive and its negative aspect.
. A strong appeal is just now made on behalf of the West Indies, on account of the great depression under which they are labouring. But it is impossible to recognise this as an element in the question, which is that of the permanent principle of dealing with the spiritual exigencies of the Colonies. It must be assumed, that any such depression as should cause ancient and fully-established Colonial Governments to withdraw the support which they have long been in the habit of giving to any of the organic institutions of their country, will be of a temporary nature, and arising from removable causes ; and though such a condition might furnish a ground for some temporary assistance from this country, it must only be looked upon as such, and not as arising from the operation of any normal principle.
This remark is made rather incidentally. Looking at the general principle laid down, it must be observed that, without adverting to slight exceptions, the West Indies receive no Emigrants from this country. Comparatively, at least to other colonies, they are not the scene of Missionary labours. For the most part, they may be spoken of as settled Colonies. In the present view of the question, therefore, their case does not so prominently offer itself for consideration as that of other Colonies.
The North American Colonies, especially Canada, seem to present the question in various very strong, and at the same time very different lights. As a whole, they are, in all temporal respects, the most advanced of all our Colonies ; the most remote from, and independent of, all real influence from this country. In this respect they make the strongest possible case for the operation of the principle, that they should be led to consider that in spiritual, no less than in temporal matters, they must more and more learn to walk alone.
Also, with regard to the actual condition of many · of the districts in British North America, and many to which the aid of this Society is still extended, it cannot be doubted that they are, in fact, as well able to meet their obligation to support their Churches and Clergy as any district in England.
But most important facts are to be set on the other side.
In the first place, British North America is still the scene of extensive Missionary labours.
Secondly, there are many districts, and increasing in number, which are neither fully settled nor the scene of strictly Missionary work. These are well known among us as the unsettled or partly-settled districts, and I have stated them to be an appropriate destination for the temporary aid of this Society.
Lastly, and which is most important, British North America receives, and will continue to receive, many more Emigrants from this country than all the other Colonies put together.
I fear that I may appear to have somewhat digressed from the especial object of this letter, which is the reli
gious provision for Emigrants. But it is evident with respect to British North America, that the question of the spiritual care of the Emigrants, and that of the unsettled districts, are very closely united, as it is in great measure from those Emigrants that the population of those districts is recruited in their progress towards complete settlement; and the two subjects may practically be considered together.
Looking, therefore, at the condition of British North America, I do not consider that the amount now given to those Colonies by the Society, large as it is, is excessive. But I think that, abstractedly speaking, its distribution is far from the best that could be adopted; and that, as far as circumstances will allow, it should be reformed on the very principle which is now brought forward, namely, that of spiritual provision for our Emigrants as such.
The Australian Colonies, while with respect to Missionary efforts they present a lesser amount of work to be done than some other of our possessions, furnish, both as to emigration from this country, and as to the principle of aiding from home our Colonies in their early stages of development, as urgent, and, at the same time, as encouraging and as hopeful a case as it is easy to imagine, for the attention of the Society.
The Australian emigration is small in amount compared with the North American ; but it is greatly increasing ; it is more nearly ascertainable in amount beforehand; and it is more under Government control. With the establishment of steam communication, it will receive a still greater stimulus; and the capabilities of those countries are such, that the distance must, for an