Emigration Fields was reviewed quite widely, partly because it was aimed at a wider market than On Naval Timber (i.e. for anyone contemplating emigration), and partly because its publication coincided with Matthew’s involvement in the Chartist movement, which would have increased its visibility to some extent.
EMIGRATION FIELDS — NORTH AMERICA, THE CAPE, AUSTRALIA. AND NEW ZEALAND. By Patrick Matthew.— Adam and Charles Black, Edinburgh.
The object of this work is avowedly to puff the new religious colonization speculation in New Zealand, under the guise of a general view of Emigration Fields. The author is a great Radical, and declares his belief that an important change in the condition of man in Great Britain is approaching. We trust it will prove an improvement; but we cannot help entertaining some distrust of the opinions of such men as Mr. Matthew on this subject. For the rest, the book appears to have been written “to order,” and to contain no information that is not to be found most of the works of the same class which have preceded it.
“Literature. Emigration Fields”. Fife Herald, 31 January 1839, p.4 col.1 (pdf image)
On the same page as that carrying the second half of Matthew’s 2nd Address to the Men of Perthshire and Fifeshire, the pro-Chartist Fife Herald gives a very favourable opinion of Matthew’s book. Quoting from the book, the review notes Matthew’s opinion that “the character of surrounding objects must exert a powerful influence upon the genius of a people” and that “the trees [of New Zealand], from the principle of adaptation, are only biennially deciduous”. The review ends by noting that “some of his views on colonization and government they [intending emigrants] may deem uncalled for and utopian, but many will be found highly useful and instructive.”
EMIGRATION FIELDS. BY PATRICK MATTHEW, Author of “Naval Timber and Arboriculture.”
We have bestowed on this volume attentive perusal, and do honestly consider it the best work on colonization which we have yet seen. As a literary production it cannot certainly ranked be with the highest class; its very faults, however, in point of composition, in our opinion, will go far to make it more interesting to the general reader, and thereby conduce more forcibly to the only aim which its philanthropic author evidently has in view — the improvement of the condition of his starving countrymen. But although we have said so much in disparagement of Mr Matthew’s style general, let not our readers suppose that we think lightly of it, or that he could not smooth his periods better had he chosen. At all times he is clear, strong, and manly — vivid in description, close in argument, and often peculiarly happy in expression. The range he takes of his subject is extensive; embracing in short the good, the bad, and the probable of every place to which the tide of emigration has yet flowed or may be expected to flow. But amid the multitude of his “emigration fields,” those of New Zealand claim by far the most of his attention. New South Wales, the Swan River settlement, and even the much bepraised South Australia, are, upon the whole, represented as salubrious, but subject to great aridity of climate and consequently sterility of soil, “with very few apparent counter-advantages or capacity for improvement.” On the other hand, New Zealand presents quite a different picture; “stretching,” the author observes, “across the course of the prevalent winds from 34 deg. to 48 deg. south, it enjoys a finer and more temperate climate than any other region of the world, and, in consequence, the trees, from the principle of adaptation, are only biennially deciduous, and present, as well as the herbage, a never-failing verdure. The great mountain chain, or backbone ridge of New Zealand, which extends through nearly fourteen degrees latitude, attracting and condensing the high-towering clouds and vapour of the southern ocean, affords a constant source of showers and irrigation and freshness to the lower country; and this regular supply of moisture, under the most balmy atmosphere, and the generative influence of a sun brilliant as that of Italy, produce an exuberance of vegetation surpassing that of any other temperate country. The richness and magnificence of the forest scenery being only equalled by that of the islands of the eastern tropical Archipelago, and the mountains themselves, the sublime southern Alps, more elevated than the highest of the Alps of Switzerland, upheaved from the depths of the great South Sea, in some places to more than three miles of altitude, and, from their volcanic character, of the boldest and most abrupt outline, are perhaps unequalled in all the world.
“The character of surrounding objects must exert a powerful influence upon the genius of a people. These stupendous mountains, with innumerable rills pouring down their verdant slopes — their great valleys, occupied by the most beautiful rivers — their feet washed by the ceaseless South Sea swell — their flanks clothed with the grandest of primeval forests — their bosoms veiled in cloud — and their rocky and icy scalps piercing the clear azure heaven — must go to stamp, as far as earthly things can have expression, a poetical character upon the genius of the Austral British.” The small portion already under cultivation yields in luxuriant abundance and perfection all the valuable fruits and grains of Europe, and stock of all descriptions fatten in this favoured region at all seasons upon the spontaneous produce of the wilderness. It is, indeed, much to be regretted that the surplus portion of our population could not get easy and peaceable possession of that lovely land. Its distance renders the voyage troublesome, tedious and expensive, and, what is worse, the aborigines, unlike the most part of Australasian savages, are an active, warlike race, of strong muscular frames, and superior mental endowments. However, from intestine broils, their numbers are decreasing yearly, and at present amount to only about 110,000. Still that number is formidable, and a good portion of the volume is necessarily devoted to examining the best possible ways and means for lessening and finally overcoming these seemingly, at first sight, insurmountable barriers in the way of its colonization. To intending emigrants we sincerely recommend “Matthew’s Emigration Fields.” They will find in it much with which they should be acquainted. Some of his views on colonization and government they may deem uncalled for and utopian, but many will be found highly useful and instructive.
Emigration Fields — North America — the Cape — Australia and New Zealand. By Patrick Matthew. London: Longman and Co.—Edinburgh: Black.
The object of the writer of this work is to recommend emigration to New Zealand. After describing the colonies mentioned in the title, and pointing out many of the advantages, and all the disadvantages peculiar to each, he informs his readers that— “estimating the advantages of position, extent, climate, fertility, adaptation for trade—all the causes which have tended to render Britain the emporium of the world, he can observe only one other spot on the earth equally, if not more favoured by nature, and that is New Zealand.” He then describes its capabilities, its importance, politically and commercially, and urges the duty of colonizing it on various grounds. The volume is well worth perusing, and contains maps of North America, Australia, New Zealand, &c.
“ LITERATURE, &c.
Review of “Emigration Fields”. Sherborne Mercury, 2 December 1843, p.4 col.6 (pdf image)
A very favourable review of Emigration Fields. The reviewer thinks that Matthew may have spent time in Canada prior to writing his book, but given the reviewer also thinks Matthew lives at “Gourdie Hall, in Aberdeenshire”, one must question the accuracy of the reviewer’s information.
Review of “Emigration Fields, North America, The Cape, Australia, and New Zealand, describing these countries, and giving a comparative view of the advantages they present to British settlers.” By Patrick Matthew. Black, Edinburgh; Longman, London; 1839.
This is a remarkable little book, conveying an immense quantity of information in the small compass of 237 pages of a duodecimo volume. The author, we understand, is a Scotch laird of singular intelligence, who went to Canada with the intention of establishing one of his sons there, but returned disgusted with the climate and the prospects; but previously to quitting the American continent, examined with great observation the whole of the territories of the United States, and on his return he produced the work before us. Patrick Matthew, Esq., of Gourdie Hall [sic], in Aberdeenshire [sic], must not be ranked amongst the common scribblers of the day,— he is a statesman, a, man of most extended information, who does not write to make a book, or to gratify an inglorious personal vanity, his head is naturally able and stored with knowledge of every kind, but that is the least part of this little work — this is a book more from the heart than the head — it is a sort of familiar advice to his neighbours and countrymen — no class of whom he forgets; it is a work which should be the bible of every colonial minister; which should be studied by our great landed proprietors; which should be read by all persons whose prospects at home are such as to lead them to think that they may better their position in life by emigrating and finding a new home — to such it is invaluable; he warns them as to a bad field of emigration, and points out the best. He examines political and geographical position — he describes climate, soil, winds and seas, and never forgets the great object of all — the attainment of happiness. He deprecates a father’s ambition in seeking situations for their sons in tropical climates, and he points out to an affectionate mother where their offspring can be most advantageously established. Twenty-eight years of peace have had an immense effect upon the population of the country. Few were cognizant of the artificial state into which the united kingdom had fallen from the long war. It employed, as soldiers and sailors, and in objects connected with them, 300,000 men; as many women were placed in a state of celibacy or prostitution. Peace restored these 300,000 pairs into a more natural state; they placed themselves rapidly in the state of procreation; but was that the only addition to our population that came with peace? No! the waste of both sexes ceased with the war,— it was not the mere employment of 300,000,— a regiment never dies; one regiment, the Enniskillens, enlisted 20,000 men during the war. Now a one-sided view of the question never should be taken. Wasting 20,000 by climate, or fighting, or any thing else, in consequence of war, wasted as many women in hopeless solitary celibacy, or in vicious prostitution;— this no longer occurs,— many other reasons might be given to show that the condition of the United Kingdom is that of an excess of population. Mr. Matthews [sic], therefore, begins his interesting volume with a short address to the public; he follows this by a chapter on the utility of emigration to the colonies;— this is a chapter which should attract the attention of all our legislators and public writers; it is one which bears out the conduct of our good Lord Devon, the pride of the West of England; and we are not a little proud of the distinguished lead, without distinction of party, which the landed proprietors in this part of the world have taken in favour of systematic colonisation — parliament itself, exulting in the talents, acknowledge the exertions and the energies of our Mr. Charles Buller. Mr. Matthews [sic] follows his preliminary chapters by a description of the Canadas — of the United States — and few, after reading this account, will emigrate to those parts; the Cape of Good Hope, Australia, Van Dieman’s Land, and New Zealand are then closely examined. Of the latter he first speaks of its capabilities — its unrivalled climate — the fertility of its soil — the advantage of its political situation. Little was known of it when he wrote, but that little was sufficient to enable him to point it out as by far the most advantageous field for emigration. If with the limited knowledge which he or any other could possess four years ago, what might not be written upon it now, since so much more is known? We cannot too earnestly recommend this useful little book, and although it was perhaps more immediately intended for his countrymen, the accomplished author has, in writing it, laid under obligation people of every part of the united kingdom, and persons of all classes. Whately, Senior, and Merivale, who have filled the chair of political economy with all their learning, may find much which they did not know in its pages;— the uneasy class of Great Britain, as they have been called, will be greatly benefited by its perusal;— and unhappy half-pay, pray read this little volume, and you will, many of you, adopt the advice of Dr. Entun, in the appendix to his voyage round the world.