Imágenes de páginas

dependent and prosperous, his situation, in a worldly paint of view, is'a very comfortable one. I am inclined however to think, that independently of his ambition to found a colony, and his apparent anxiety while on the move to get as far as possible from his native countryan anxiety for which true English feeling finds it difficult to account he might have invested his property in some of the Atlantic States, with as much or more advantage to at least one or two generations of his family, and with a far less sacrifice of present comfort. Should his family, however, retain any large quantity of land, a growing density of population in the western country, and even in Illinois, notwithstanding its present unhealthiness, may render it a source of wealth in future years.

In the ordinary course of things, without an European market, agricultural profits in this country must be extremely small; among other reasons, because so large a proportion of the population, compared with most other countries, will be land proprietors, and so small a proportion dependent on others for their agricultural produce; and because the great fertility of the soil will leave an unusually large supply, after maintaining the labourers employed in its cultivation. It appears to me that the natural tendency of this state of things among an industrious and enterprizing people, is to encourage domestic manufactures; I mean manufactures really domestic-made in the family-the produce of that labour which higher agricultural profits would retain in the field, but which there appears to be no inducement to employ in the cultivation of produce which will sell for little or nothing when raised. This is a species of manufacture in a great measure independent for its prosperity on governments or tariffs; for it is of little importance to the small farmer, that foreign

manufactures are tolerably low, if his produce will neither command them, nor money to buy them. He can obtain his clothing in exchange for his leisure hours; but then it must be by employing those hours in actually making his clothing, and not through the intervention of agricultural produce. I am surprised to find to how great an extent this species of manufactures is carried, and how rapidly the events of the last two years have increased it. In some parts of the State of New York, I was told the little farmers could not make a living without it. In Pennsylvania, it is perhaps still more general; some of the lower descriptions of East India goods having almost entirely given place to a domestic substitute actually made in the family; and the importations of Irish linens having been most seriously checked by the greatly increased cultivation and manufacture of flax in the immediate vicinity of Philadelphia. In Virginia and North. Carolina, I had opportunities of seeing these domestic manufactures as I passed in the stage; and on my horseback route it was a constant source of surprise-to you I may add, without danger of being suspected to be a Radical, and of gratification; for this combination of agriculture and manufacture in the same family appears to me to form a state of society of all others the best adapted to produce a happy, independent, and domestic population. If I mistake not, America will exhibit this combination in a greater degree than any nation with which I am acquainted, unless the permanent removal of our corn laws should give a new stimulus to her agricultural labour; and even then, the immensity of her fertile territory might enable her to supply our wants without checking her in any material degree in the career I have anticipated for her. But I did not intend to enter on these speculations. I have sometimes wished

you could see what a pretty family picture a mother and two daughters make; the mother spinning, and keeping a daughter on each side most actively occupied in cardingfor her. -In the hope that this picture will play around your imagination, and lead you to forget how dry a letter you have been reading, I will conclude for the present, especially as I am arriving at the end of my paper. I intend, if I have time, that another letter shall accompany this.

Norfolk (Virginia), Dec. 13, 1820. The little digression into which I was insensibly led in my letter of yesterday, prevented me from completing my remarks on Mr. Birkbeck. I have already mentioned some of my reasons for supposing that, in the ordinary course of things, agricultural profits will be generally low in this country. Nor am I aware of any peculiarities in Mr. Birkbeck's situation which would form an exception in his favour in this particular. It must not be forgotten, that while the imminent danger of flour turning sour at New Orleans, his principal market, is to be set against the advantages he may possess over the farmers in the Atlantic States, in bis competition with the graziers of Ohio, his greater distance from the Atlantic cities may more than counterbalance the benefit of a readier access to extensive prairies. At present I am told, that the expense of conveying flour from Illinois, and selling it at New OrJeans, would leave little or nothing for the grower of the wheat; and I have been assured, on the authority of several persons who have passed through Kentucky and Ohio this autumn, that in many cases the farmers would not cut their wheat, but turned their cattle into it; and that in others, the tenants would hardly accept of the landlord's moiety of the produce which they had stipulated to give him for rent.

Mr. Mellish, the traveller and


geographer, whom I frequently saw in Philadelphia, shewed me a letter from Mr. Birkbeck, in which he "There is an error of some importance in my Letters; and I wish that a correction of it could accompany the publication. In my estimate of the expenses of culti vating these prairies, I have not made sufficient allowance of time for the innumerable delays which attend a new establishment in a new country. I would now add to the debtor side a year of prepara tion, which will of course make a material deduction from the profits at the commencement of the undertaking."

On the whole, I am disposed to believe that experience will suggest to Mr. Birkbeck some mode of making money, though far more slowly than he expected; and I think the general estimate of the merits of his situation, by the natural reaction of his exaggerated statements, is at present a little below the truth.

I should not be surprised if a new and extensive market were gradually opened to the western farmers among a population employed or created by manufacturing establishments beyond the mountains. Wool may be raised on the spot with tolerable facility; and I have already mentioned the low rate of freight at which, in Ohio, they can obtain cotton from Louisiana and Mississippi in exchange for wheat, which will scarcely grow at all in the southern countries.

As the Waltham factory, near Boston, can sustain itself so well against foreign competition, I do not know why cotton mills should not flourish in Ohio, where mill seats are numerous and excelleut, provisions low, labour moderate, and the protection contemplated by the duty on foreign articles increased by distance from the coast. Hitherto capital has been wanted, commerce and land-speculations absorbing all that could be begged or borrowed; but the India trade

is at present discouraging, the land mania has partly subsided, and money is readily to be had on good security at five per cent.

From what I hear of Ohio, I know of no place where a young, enterprizing, skilful cotton-spinner with from 5000l. to 15,000/. capital, fond of farming, and exempt from those delicate sensibilities which would make his heart yearn to wards the land of his nativity, would pass his time more to his mind, or be in a fairer way of realizing a large fortune. To the mere farmer or agriculturist also, I should consider it an inviting State. I was told by the late governor of Ohio-one of the earliest settlers in that State, and for many years one of its representatives in Congress, a very active, intelligent man, with whom I have already made you acquainted-that unimproved land is to be had at 1 to 2 dollars per acre, for good quality; improved with buildings, and pret ty good, 6 dollars; and 20 to 30 dollars for the best in the country. He considers that farming capital, well managed by a practical hard-working farmer, assisted by his family, produces six to nine per cent. at the low prices of 12 cents for Indian corn, and 25 cents for wheat, and fifteen to twenty per cent. at 25 cents for Indian corn, and 50 cents for wheat. I should imagine this was too high a return to calculate upon where labourers were to be hired, and the capital large; but he seem ed to say it was not, and added, that grazing would pay much better interest, the cattle being sold to drivers who come for them. In the remote forests of the Mississippi, I met drovers from Philadelphia, with herds of cattle which they had purchased from the In dians 1000 or 1200 miles from their destined markets.

I asked a very respectable and intelligent resident in Ohio, how he would recommend an Englishman, coming to settle in that State as

a farmer, to employ his 50001. supposing that to be his capital. He said he would purchase a farm and stock with 5007., leave 20007. in government or bank securities bearing interest to bring in a certain income, and the remaining 2500l., he would invest judiciously in land to be left to improve in value as a speculation. On this last, he would venture to underwrite a profit of 100 per cent. in ten years, asking no other premium than the excess above 100 per cent. Many bargains are now daily offering. He said, if a person vested 1000l. in a farm and stock, and in making his house comfortable, 2000l. in government securities, yielding six per cent. interest, and 20001. in land to lie idle, improving in value; the six per cent, which he might safely calculate on making from his farm, besides maintaining his family on its produce, added to the six per cent. for his 20007. in money securities-together 180/.— would enable him to keep a carriage and two horses and three servants, and to enjoy many of the comforts of life. This, too, I consider highly coloured, after making every allowance for the difference between his estimate of comforts and ours. His would probably exclude wine, and tea, and coffee; or at least his coffee would probably be pale enough when every pound cost one or two bushels of wheat. English ideas also as to clothes, even on a peace-establishment in the western wilds, and still more as to education, would probably differ widely from those of my informant. The expense of a good boarding school or seminary" for boys or girls (in this country they have as few schools as shops, except Sunday-schools, though as many seminaries and academies as stores,) is 35l. per annum, near Chillicothe. He has some of his family at school on these terms; and I think he said that at the female" seminary" Latin taught, if desired. In dress and


manner he is of about the same "grade," as the Americans would say, as a respectable Yorkshire farmer, possessing an estate of 8000l.or 12,000l.,and lives, I should imagine, somewhat in the same style, with a table perhaps more profusely spread with domestic produce, such as beef, mutton, venison, turkeys, game, and fruit,and more restricted in foreign wine and colonial luxuries. He spoke of going over to England to bring two or three hundred people with him to Ohio, where "he would make them so happy" but his family attachments bind him to home. Such men as the overlooker of your mill, or others equally steady and experienced but more acute, would prosper well in Ohio under his auspices. They would be growing rich, while the poor settler on land would be only comfortable and independent; a condition, however, by no means to be despised, especially when capable of suggesting such poetical ideas as the following:

"Tis I can delve and plough, love,
And you can spin and sew;
And we'll settle on the banks
Of the pleasant Ohio.

(To be concluded.)

To the Editor of the Christian Observer. A CORRESPONDENT, in your Number for January (p. 12), has proposed for solution the following query: "Is it consistent with the spirit of Christianity for persons in the present day to draw lots, in any case, in order to settle a doubt ful or disputed point?" The arguments which your correspondent mentions, as usually urged in favour of this mode of decision, are, First, that it rests on the authority of Scripture, both under the Old and the New Testament dispensations; and secondly, that in cases of a minute nature, such as the disposal of a slight article of property, the practice is often convenient, and is, at all events, too indif


ferent to be the subject of either censure or approbation. To these arguments he replies,First, that the Scripture precedents for drawing lots are not applicable to the present times; Secondly, that the practice is not of an indifferent nature, since it is either an appeal to Providence or to mere chance; and, Thirdly, that it may afford encou ragement to the injurious and immoral system of lotteries and games of hazard.

I quite concur with your correspondent in his first argument, that the precedents of drawing lots, mentioned in Scripture, are not applicable to the present times. Those who maintain that they are would confine the drawing of lots to occasions of some moment or difficulty, considering it as an act of profaneness to use this mode of decision on trifling questious. Others argue, on the contrary, that drawing lots is allowable in trifles, but not in cases of importance. The points therefore to be settled, are,-First, is the practice ever lawful? and, secondly, if lawful at all, in what cases is it so ?

1. Is the practice ever lawful? Now, it certainly was lawful in the Scriptural instances alluded to by your correspondent; and we are that "the lot is cast into the lap, expressly told as a general truth, but the disposing thereof is of the Lord." In the instances in question, it was a solemn religious act, a direct appeal to the Almighty. But to make it lawful in this sense in modern times, it must be shewn that God has continued to authorize us to expect his immediate and visible interference, whenever we may think proper to appeal to it; which would amount to a standing miracle and continued revelation, and is no where countenanced by the authority of Scripture. I conclude therefore, that casting lots in the present day, as a religious act, is wholly unwarranted and presumptuous.

Still, it may possibly be lawful

in a lower view: it may be lawful, for instance, as a convenient mode of decision in dubious cases, without being intended as an immediate appeal to Heaven. Its having been used on certain occasions by Divine appointment for a higher purpose, does not prove that it is unlawful to use it for a lower. An act in different in itself may be connected with certain associations, or not, as the case may happen. Some forms and customs in our own church, for example, may be either decent and devout, or superstitious and injurious, according as they hap pen to be employed by a Protes tant or a Papist; that is, according to the intention of using them, and the associations connected with them.

But your correspondent says, that drawing lots is not an action of this indifferent nature; for that it is either a direct appeal to God, or an appeal to the fabled deity called Chance. I agree with him, for the reasons just mentioned, that if it be a direct appeal to God, it is wholly unauthorized in modern times. But I do not admit, that the case comes strictly to this alternative. I know of no such being as "Fors Fortuna." There are certain laws of matter and motion appointed by the Almighty: in recognizing these we are never to forget his supreme agency; yet it is obvious that it would, in numerous instances, be unwise and almost profane, to speak of Him as exercising a direct interference.


think that, in the case of drawing lots, this remark strongly applies. We are not to resolve the issue of drawing lots into the immediate and visible decision of Divine Pro ́vidence; nor yet are we to impute it to necessity or chance. It is the effect of certain laws and operations quite regular and consistent, and by which both the contending parties agree to be bound, neither of them having any greater foresight of the result than the other. If both are willing for mutual con

venience to abide by this test, there seems to be nothing abstractedly unlawful in their determination. Whether it is, generally speaking, a wise or prudent method of resolving doubts, is quite another question. Many things are abstractedly "lawful," which for many reasons are not "expedient." 2. Supposing it then to be admitted, that drawing lots may, in certain cases, be lawful; the question is, to what kind of cases does the permission apply?

Is it lawful, in the first place, to resort to this mode of determining differences in cases of importance? Those who think that it is, argue upon the ground of its being a direct appeal to the Almighty; but if, as has been endeavoured to be proved, such an appeal is no longer warranted, the argument cannot rest upon this basis. The question then comes to this: "Are the lower grounds, on which a decision by lot may be defended, admissible in cases of great moment ?" I think unquestionably not; because God has given us better and safer guides, and more rational modes of decision. In those important questions, for example, in which the determination by lot has been resorted to in some religious societies, the points in dispute would have been far more rationally and scripturally settled by vote, or ballot, or arbitration; or, what is yet better still, by the force of patient and candid argument, and mutual concession. As a proof how much may be done towards the settlement of differences, even in cases of great difficulty, by a forbearing and liberal spirit, I might mention the very honourable fact, that the Committee of the British and Foreign Bible Societycomposed as it is of a considerable number of persons of various ranks, denominations, and habits of life, and called, at every meeting, to decide upon questions capable of eliciting much opposition of sentiment-have never, in a single instance, if I am rightly informed,


« AnteriorContinuar »