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This was double the amount of their acreage, double the amount of their yield, and double the amount of their export seven years ago. What it will be in another seven years it is hard to say.


may double itself again, or even more.

What Victoria is doing in that respect will come in very appropriately here, and show how little our farmers and selectors are in accord with Mr. Reid in his views. Wheat-growing in Victoria may be divided into four distinct periods: the ante-gold period, the gold period, the post-gold period, and the exporting period—a somewhat arbitrary division, it must be confessed, yet very convenient and sufficiently accurate. During the ante-gold period, that is, from 1836 to 1850, the Victorian farmers did not do amiss at wheatgrowing, although it was then declared that the ground was “as hard as bricks," and would not grow anything. They began with fifty acres in 1836, and ended in 1850-51 with between 28,000 and 29,000 acres, which was very good for so small a population. When gold was first discovered in Victoria, namely, in 1850-51, and, during the whole of the gold period, which may be said to have lasted till 1860-61, the attention of the people generally was directed to gold-mining, and wheat-growing only received a small share of their attention. Yet, between 1850-51 and 1860-61, the acreage of wheat-growing in Victoria increased from between 28,000 and 29,000 acres to nearly 420,000 acres, which was very creditable to those engaged in this industry. There was a comparative lull in wheat-growing in Victoria during what I have called the post-gold period—particularly during the earlier portion of it—but, between 1860-61 and 1870-71, it increased from about 420,000 acres to more than 900,000 acres, at which it continued almost stationary for the next two or three years. We now come to what I have called, for want of a better designation, not because it is strictly accurate, the exporting period, namely, from 1873 to 1879, and we find Victoria advancing pari passu with South Australia in wheat-growing and wheat-exporting, although the latter had so much the start of her. I do not say that Victoria is yet fully abreast with South Australia, but she is advancing step by step with her, and, with her larger population, ought to be quite up to her soon, if she does not pass her.

Mr. Reid looks upon statistics as very important, and he is rather glowing in his description of them:-“The dry array of figures,” he says, “which the statistician elaborates from various and remote sources, are but the aggregate of living entities. Dramas of

success and defeat, of life and death, of joy and of despair, are enshrined in the harmless-looking symbols, which contain the crystallised records of a nation's work.” Very well expressed, but in a style rather too exalted for the general reader; and the following, therefore, from his pen, is more suited to my purpose:“Statistics are not always infallible, as they are so easily manipulated, and almost any figures can be made to bring out almost any result, by a judicious heightening on the one hand, and a suppression of facts on the other, telling for or against a preconceived theory.” With so clear a perception of what the duty of those who deal in statistics is, I wonder Mr. Reid did not bring out a little more broadly and distinctly what the position of Victoria with regard to wheat-growing and wheat-exporting really is. It might have been done in a few lines. Here it is:

1873—Yield, in bushels
1879- Do. do.


1873--Estimated value



272, 438

So that wheat-growing in Victoria very nearly doubled itself in those seven years, and the exports of wheat and flour from Victoria quadrupled themselves during the same period. It might have been as well, too, for Mr. Reid to have brought out how largely we have had to import breadstuffs, at different times, to meet the wants of a rapidly-increasing population, suddenly thrown upon us, for which no longer any necessity exists. Not that I would have this done as Mr. Hayter does it, at page 296 of his Year Book for 1879-80—

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and then he adds, “after deducting the value of the quantities sent away, there remains a balance amounting to over £11,000,000 sterling paid by the colony for breadstuffs imported." There is no value in any such generalisation as that, however true as a statistical fact. But if Mr. Reid had taken these figures, and said—“See how largely we were importing at one time, and how largely we are exporting now," there would have been no violation of what he lays down as a statistical canon, that there must

be no heightening on the one hand, or suppression on the other, and he might have done the colony good service by showing what her exact position now is with regard to wheat-growing and to her export of breadstuffs. It might also have been as well for him to have entered into the question of consumption by a population at one time of less than 1000, and now amounting to more than 900,000, but that would have been too much to expect from a gentleman when he had such large questions as the 20 per cent. duties, and “ does wheat-growing pay in Victoria ?” in hand. Had he supplied these omissions, however—not “suppressions”-in his article, he would have given a true picture of the state of the colony, and there would have been “more of success than failure, more of life than death, more of joy than despair, enshrined in the harmlesslooking symbols” he would have had to employ in doing it.

I see nothing to object to in Mr. Reid's statistics of wheatgrowing in Victoria, except that they do not come up to his high ideal of what statistics are, and that, in using them, he expends too much force on very trivial subjects. But then he had, not one theory, but many, to support, in connection with this subject; and it therefore became necessary that he should avail himself of all sorts of materials which came to hand, whether large or small. For instance, he had to prove that wheat-growing did not pay, partly on account of the cost of production, and he could not restrain himself from going into very elaborate calculations on the cost of producing wheat per acre, which had been done over and over again, and in doing which he only succeeds in reducing the cost, according to his own calculations, to the extent of 2d. per bushel, which most people probably would readily make him a present of. When replying before, however, directly to his question—" does wheat-growing pay in Victoria”-I purposely abstained from noticing two contrary opinions he appears to hold on wheat-growing—thinking it better to reserve my notice of them until now, and not mix up what was rather foreign to it, with the general discussion. Mr. Reid evidently has a feeling, almost amounting to horror, at the slovenly way in which the farmers and selectors conduct their wheat-growing operations, so as to take the heart out of the land, and he appears to be of opinion that more scientific modes of culture should be adopted. “Farming in these colonies,” he says, “partakes very much of the nature of manufacturing soil into wheat, and carting it away." So it does in most large wheat-growing countries in Russia, in the United States, in the Dominion of Canada, in

South America, as also in other countries. If it did not, those countries could not grow wheat at all.

Then, with regard to high farming, or "scientific methods of culture," as Mr. Reid calls them, the Victorian farmers and selectors have neither the means nor the time for making such experiments as might otherwise be useful in their fierce struggle for life. They might, to be sure, keep their land clean, plough it well, and put in the seed at the proper time, but when they have done that, they have done all they can be expected to do, and it is of no use reproaching them for not doing more. Were they even to adopt Mr. Reid's "scientific methods of culture,” it is a question whether the land would pay for the additional labour and expense bestowed upon it, whether it would be kept in better heart, or whether they would not be losers in the end. Mr. Mechi, of Tip Tree Hill, Essex, was an enthusiastic admirer of high farming, and had been teaching England, and all the world, for very many years past, how to make it pay, but the result of his long continued and energetic efforts is not encouraging. His head was hardly laid beneath the sod, after all the plaudits that had been bestowed upon him, before his estate was thrown into the insolvent court.

There is also another matter, in connection with the cost of wheat-growing, which I passed over when that branch of the subject was formally under discussion, but which may be properly noticed here. When, to use Mr. Reid's own words, “men who are totally unfitted by nature and education for the toil and drudgery of the farm, leave the shop, and counting-house, and desk, and, with the savings of half a life, go into the wilderness to make their fortunes by growing wheat,” they should calculate, I maintain, beforehand on the employment of labour. For it is doubtful whether any kind of farm work would pay under these conditions, much less wheat-growing. But the great body of the farmers and selectors does not consist of men of this description; and there is no propriety, therefore, in confounding the former, in any estimate of the cost of the production of an acre or a bushel of wheat, with the latter, who, for the most part, do their own work, or get it done, with the assistance of their wives and familieswhether it be wheat-growing or any other kind of work. "The labourer is,” no doubt, “worthy of his hire,” whatever kind of work he is called upon to put his hand to, whether working for himself or others; but wheat-growing does not take up the whole of the farmers' or the selectors' time, or even the principal portion of it,

and his remuneration should not, therefore, be measured, I think, by the standard of ordinary hired labour. He ploughs, and sows, and harrows, and rolls, and reaps, and threshes, and bags, and takes his grain to market, when it is most convenient to him, or when he has nothing else to do, and his labour should, . therefore, be considered sui generis. At any rate, no complaint should be made of his having to work eighteen hours a day, when the mechanic has only to work eight, nor should it be considered any degradation that he cannot afford to buy or wear kid gloves.

I have as little faith in the wisdom of the land laws of Victoria. as Mr. Reid has, but I should not feel justified in following him in such statements as these:—“Every land-bill of a pronounced liberal type, placed upon the statute-book, has played into the hands of speculators, and, if anything, hindered bona fide agricultural settlement.” Again, “The State has sold the land to the selectoror, perhaps, to be more correct, has sold the selector to the landand, with a portentous stupidity, has said to him, that, in consideration of his getting it so cheaply, he must endeavour to rob it of its fertility as soon as possible.” Now, neither of these statements is absolutely true, nor, if pushed into a corner, would Mr. Reid undertake to prove that either of them is. But this is his extravagant way of writing, and it is most certainly not commendable in a gentleman who assumes the role of a “ friend of the farmers and selectors.” They know, as well as he does, that each of our successive land-bills. has promoted, not hindered, agricultural settlement; and although that settlement may not be of the best kind, yet that the farmers have entered into no compact with the Government to rob the land of its fertility, nor has the Government sought to enter into any such compact with them. We have all been verily guilty in this matter of inducing people to go out on the land, without the means of cultivating it. There they are now, however, whether for better or worse, and why not accept the position? It is not in our power to alter it.

“ Facilis descensus Averni :
Sed revocare gradum, superasque evadere ad auras,
Hoc opus, hic labor est.”

The rest of the Australian colonies have plunged into this difficulty as deeply as we have, some of them more deeply, and whilst they are pushing forward, with the determination of getting out on the right side of the “Slough of Despond,” let us not think of turning back, as Mr. Pliable did. We could not, in fact, do this,

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