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* These lists are not compiled from the particulars given on each colony,
THE BRITISH COLONIES.
1. The British Empire consists of Great Britain, Ireland, and the adjacent islands, together with numerous Colonies and Foreign Possessions in various parts of the globe.
2. A Colony is a settlement of people in another country, partly under the government of the mother country, and often having a subject native population-e.g., Canada, Australia, New Zealand.
3. A Foreign Possession, or Dependency, is a portion of a foreign country subject to the Home Government, but having few or no colonists-e.g., Gibraltar, Aden, India.
4. In the Tudor and Stuart periods of our history, colonies were called Plantations. Thus Bacon has an essay "Of Plantations" (1625). After the battle of Sedgemoor (1685), numerous prisoners who escaped death in Jeffrey's Bloody Assize were transported and sold to the sugar and cotton plantations.
5. Colonists or Emigrants. One of the best remedies for overpopulation is emigration, which is and has been in all time characteristic not only of every active family, but of every great nation. Emigrants become colonists when they settle down and till or cultivate the soil of their adopted country. What was true in Bacon's time is true now: "The people with whom you plant ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, labourers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers." The whole essay is well worthy the attention not only of students, but also of colonists and the governors of colonies, whether at home or abroad.
In 1855 about 177,000 persons emigrated from the United Kingdom, of whom 18,000 went to Canada and other North American Colonies, 103,000 to the United States, 53,000 to Australia and New Zealand, and the remainder elsewhere. Various causes, such as depression of trade, strikes, &c., have contributed to increase the number; and in 1870 about 257,000 persons emigrated, i.e., as many as the whole county of Wilts contained at the last census.
Of these, 35,000 went to Canada, &c., 196,000 to the United States, 17,000 to Australia, &c., and the rest to other places. This latter number to Australia is small when compared with those who went in 1857 (62,000) and 1863 (53,000). It ought to be more generally known and acted upon, that, by the Poor Law Act of 1834, the guardians are empowered to expend any sum not exceeding £10 in aiding the emigration of any poor person having a settlement in any parish in the Union.
The Home Government has appointed a Board of Emigration Commissioners, whose office is at 65 Fenchurch Street, to look after this important Government duty. There are also officers at most of the large ports. These Commissioners issue a Colonisation Circular (Groombridge), containing valuable information for intending emigrants on rates of passage, aided and other land grants, cost of food, wages, &c. Most of the Colonial Governments also maintain agencies in London, and bid high in the shape of assisted passages and land grants for industrious and respectable emigrants. Convicts are not now transported to any colony, although our noble Australian Colonies have arisen from Captain Cook's statement that Botany Bay was a suitable place for a convict establishment. The Dutch on one occasion exported every able-bodied or young pauper, male and female, to the Cape, which was one way of solving the increasingly difficult problem of pauperism. But to quote Bacon again, "It is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of the people to be the people with whom you plant."
There is an indisposition on the part of some people to be active, and move away from their homes to better themselves, which is a French rather than an English characteristic, and probably more general education will remove it. In the upper ranks of society it is scarcely felt. Emigration to the colonies is but removal to another part of England, as it were; for although the sky be changed, the language, laws, literature, weights and measures, coins, &c., are not. And surely for this reason alone it is worth while to retain our colonies, although they cost the mother country between one and two millions sterling a year, and notwithstanding that professional agitators may adduce what they consider good arguments for abandoning them.
6. Colonisation is not a voluntary but a necessary condition of human advancement. The Greeks colonised the shores of Asia Minor, Turkey, South Italy, and even France, Spain, and Africa, before the Christian æra. These colonies were, as a rule, independent of the government of the mother city that sent them forth. The Romans colonised first Italy, and then more or less the whole of the known world. We have traces of the Latin Colonia in many names, such as Cologne, Lincoln, &c. These colonies were as a rule planted in order to secure the subjection of conquered provinces, and they may be considered as the origin of the Feudal System, for land grants were made to colonists on condition of military service, road-making, &c.