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And, notwithstanding all I have said of the difficulties of the early settler without money, a young man of industry, enterprise, and agricultural habits, without family, or with the means of leaving them for a year or two with his own or his wife's friends, who should come out to Canada, and hire his services till he could have a log-house built, and two or three acres cleared, would probably find himself in the prime of life an independent farmer on his own estate, with abundance of the necessaries of existence, and with prospects brightening as he advanced towards the evening of his days. But the sickly, the shiftless, the idle, the timid, and the destitute, with large families, will, I have no doubt, suffer far less in living from hand to mouth in England, than in encountering the difficulties of emigration to Canada.
The soil of Upper Canada is generally extremely good, and the climate, with the exception of a long and severe winter, unobjectionable. To persons on the spot, possessed of accurate local information, opportunies, I have no doubt, occur of making advantageous investments of capital in land on speculation; but the inducements to such projects will probably be limited, and to a certain degree accidental, while Government continues to grant lands either gratuitously or as a reward for military services.
Philadelphia, Nov. 21, 1820. My last letter conveyed to you pretty fully the ideas which occurred to me, in my visit to Canada, on the subject of emigration thither. I think I did not overstate the privations which emigrants must undergo; but I am persuaded that, in spite of them all, while it continues under the British Crown, it will be a happy asylum for thousands, who will gradually arrive, through various degrees of suffering and disappointment, at comfort and independence.
The facilities and intrinsic value of Canadathe fertility of its soil-the beauty of its scenery, and the salubrity of its climate, greatly surpassed my previous ideas, and, as far as I had an opportunity of judging, the ideas generally entertained in England. Americans also appear to me universally to return to Canada with far higher ideas of its importance than they had before conceived; though I am strongly of opinion, that, as an acquisition to the United States, neither the American government nor people regard it as particularly desirable. How far Great Britain is interested in retaining it, has often been doubted; but, without expressing any opinion on this subject-rendered more difficult and complicated by its connexion with considerations of much importance to Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and the West Indies, and its relation to the just claims and expectations of the inhabitants-my feelings, I confess, would now
lead me to protest strongly against the relinquishment of so fair a portion of the globe; a beautiful romantic country, watered by a river which discharges, according to the estimate of American geographers and surveyors, one half more water than the Mississippi, into which the tide flows more than four hundred miles, and which is navigable for five hundred and eighty miles for ships of five hundred tons. After being frequently induced to cast an envious eye on the fine unoccupied land of the south-western part of the United States, I was delighted to find that we too had a spacious territory, and a virgin soil, where millions may, with common industry, attain ease and competence.
The present situation of England had rendered the subject of emigration so interesting when I left home, that it has secured my attention during every part of my route through the United States; but I was perhaps led to endeavour to qualify myself to form more clear and decided views of the various advantages which different sections of the country respectively offer, by finding, soon after we commenced our journey, that my servant James was beginning to wonder how he and his wife would look on this side of the Atlantic. I did not at all check the idea, but offered to assist him in getting all the information in our power; observing only, that I would recommend him to decide on nothing till he had been in Canada, as I should think much better of him, if he preferred, with the same inducements, to settle in a British colony than under a foreign government,-that if the United States, however, presented greater inducements,
I would give him every assistance in settling there. I also advised him to make his inquiries as extensive and minute as possible, in order that if, as I thought probable enough, after a few months familiarity with solitary log-huts and frontier settlements, and the exertions and privations attendant on clearing forests and subduing a wilderness, he should be satisfied that England, after all, was the best place for him, there might be classes of his countrymen to whom his information would be important.
With these views we proceeded through the new settling districts in Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia; living almost entirely among very recent emigrants, sleeping with them in their log-huts, erected in many cases the week before, and through the sides and roofs of which the stars twinkled upon us as we lay on the floor, with a brilliancy quite unknown in our little island.
My conversation with these hardy pioneers turned naturally on the peculiarities of their situation, their past sacrifices, or present difficulties, and their prospective compensation; and as I made it a rule, from which I deviated only in one instance, to get rid before night of any companions whom I might happen to have picked up in the course of the day, I was usually enabled to make myself one of the family, and by sitting down with them at their meals, or over their fire, to draw them out, and render them very communicative. By this plan I not only escaped the effects of the possible ill temper, or want of suavity,
of a travelling companion, under the little trials of our novel accommodations, but, by creating less bustle in the family, I saw things more in their ordinary state.
In our course through the above mentioned States, we met with only three or four cases in which the emigrants regretted the change; although the price which some of those in Alabama had been obliged to pay for their Indian corn the first year, (and which amounted in the case of one family to six dollars per bushel, and for one purchase eight,) had thrown them back three or four years in their calculations. All these, however, were Slave-States; and I was glad to find that my servant considered that a decided objection to settling in them. Indeed, as no title could be obtained but by purchase, there were no decided inducements to those, who, like him, have only from 80% to 100%.
We found many families living very comfortably on land which they had taken possession of, and had cleared, on the presumption that some peculiarities in the situation would prevent its being brought to sale for many years, and that they should obtain something for their improvements, even if they should not have realized sufficient in the mean time to purchase a title to their occupation. It is very unpopular to bid against these
Squatters;" and for the improvements of a single year, and the produce of a single crop, it was common for them, till the late depression of prices, to obtain a fair remuneration for the labour employed.