INQUIRIES OF AN EMIGRANT: BEING THE NARRATIVE OF AN ENGLISH FARMER FROM THE YEAR 1824 to 1830;
With the Author's Additions, to March, 1832; During Which Period He Traversed The United States and Canada, with a View to Settle as an Emigrant: Containing Observations on the Manners, Soil, Climate, and Husbandry of the Americans; Estimates of Outfit, Charges of Voyage, and Travelling Expenses.
by Joseph Pickering, Late of Fenny Stratford, Bucks, and now of Canada.
Fourth Edition; Including the Information Published by His Majesty's Commissioners for Emigration.
London: Published by Effingham Wilson, 88, Royal Exchange.
"The privations and distresses of the manufacturing districts, and the embarrassments of the farming interests, combined with the attention turned towards Emigration as a remedy for these evils, have induced the Author of this work, to endeavour to supply the apparent want of practical and authentic information respecting the superior advantages of Upper Canada, by detailing his personal narrative, from leaving England to settling in that province. It will be found to comprise his passage out to the United States, with six months' travels and residence therein; upwards of four years' sojourn in Upper Canada; his travels through Lower Canada, and return to England, via Ireland. He has endeavoured to detail a clear statement of facts, with remarks on the soil and climate of America, the customs and manners and a particular description of the methods of clearing the soil and cultivating the land, with the prices of stock, grain, &c. He has also given a comparative statement of the views held out by the United States and Upper Canada, as the best for British Emigrants; in which he flatters himself that the superior advantages of the latter to farmers, farm labourers, and most useful tradesmen, will be fully proved; and as an Appendix, he has stated many particulars useful to whoever may proceed to either of those places.
He would not recommend those that are far advanced in years, except with younger branches of their families, or are comfortably situated, with small families, in commerce, trades, or situations, and not losing money (unless persons of enterprise, who could set difficulties at defiance), to emigrate to any country; as all emigrants that were comfortably established, and particularly those from England, must make some sacrifice to obtain any future success.
The disadvantages of all new countries (particularly away from towns), are the want of conveniences, comforts, and society—these have to be made. The advantages are, the absence of burdensome imposts and taxes—the great scope for skill and industry in improvements of all kinds—a large field unoccupied lying open for all—a choice of good land and situation—a feeling of independence, and an absence of care for the future welfare of their families. He will endeavour to state opinions and impressions, unbiassed by prejudice or partiality, so that Emigration, or No Emigration, may be deliberately weighed before decided on.
The great mistake of Englishmen in particular is, that they hang about the seaports, in the hopes something lucrative may offer, until they spend their little property, or if they settle as farmers, they are so fond of their own opinions as to attempt the introduction of English husbandry, and entail a heavy expense upon themselves for their folly.
The young and enthusiastic often form romantic and extravagant notions of distant countries; this ought to be particularly guarded against, or it will assuredly end in disappointment and vexation. There is no perfect Paradise to be seen on earth—there is no country, however fine and prosperous, without a drawback; nor will there be discovered any country, however forbidding, entirely destitute of attraction. Authors of Travels, &c. are often the cause, yet unintentionally, probably, of the formation of such wild fancies. "Countries," as Goldsmith observes, "wear different appearances to travellers of different circumstances. A man who is whirled through Europe (or any country), in a post-chaise, and the pilgrim that walks the tour on foot, will form very different conclusions." The little incidents and particulars which will be found in this Journal, may appear in themselves but trifling; yet collectively, with the frequent and familiar comparisons made of things in America to similar ones in England, they will give more striking and correct ideas than general observations and disconnected statements. "Trifles discover characters more than actions of importance."
Perseverance alone can ensure success; the emigrant to either the United States or Canada must work to prosper, or bring that property with him to purchase land cleared and cultivated, with which he might have enjoyed comfort at home. On having a grant of land that is in a state of nature, much is to be done before he can even find a shelter, and he must wait for the seasons for his crops. It is in the New World as in the Old, connexions must be formed before prosperity can be ensured; but the difficulty in doing this is not so great as it is in England, from the rapid increase of population, each seeking mutual assistance and correspondence with their establishments, agricultural and commercial ; therefore, if a person is industrious, and so fortunate as to have a family capable of joining in his labours, and living in the bonds of affection, there can be no doubt that be will prosper; that his declining years may be passed in ease; and his descendants be in possession of ample affluence.
Feeling his inability to detail the information acquired by experience in the pleasing manner he could wish, he craves the indulgence of his readers; he offers no theory, clothed in visions of fancy, to their notice; his are the proceedings of a man, who, used to move in a respectable sphere, felt the reverses brought about by political causes, and who, as a true citizen of the world, sought the reinstatement of his former circumstances by seeking a place, where his diminished means, his personal labour, and the resources of his mind, could be actively employed; and he trusts his information will not be less valued, from being conveyed in a plain unvarnished style.
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