The ‘Fit and Unfit’, ‘Who Should Go’ and ‘Who Would Be Better to Stay at Home’

  • Robert D. Grant


Like any number of writers on the emigrant’s prospects abroad, Mason celebrated a particularly robust reading of the ideal emigrant, but equally counselled great care in choosing a destination. It was imperative not to embark until sufficient information had been gathered on the conditions awaiting. Accustomed to the comforts and conveniences of life in England, he warned, emigrants should not expect to find the same in ‘wild uninhabited lands’. Life there was much more demanding, and many who emigrated were quite unfit for the venture and would never have quitted their homes had they any idea of the hardships they would face. Thornley Smith complained that some left England for the Cape colony with the erroneous belief that wealth would flow there like a mighty stream and, only a few weeks after their arrival, ‘sad disappointment is their lot’. According to the Emigrant’s Friend, in all colonies during their early stages difficulties abounded. There were no crops, no specie, no establishments of any size and no society. The first settlers were destined to ‘hard work, privation, and too often ruin’, Mundy avowed. These were men of the axe, shovel, pickaxe, beard and ‘leathern apron’, with their guns always at the ready, like an advance column in battle.1


Original Emphasis Penal System Zealand Company Advance Column Household Word 
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© Robert Grant 2005

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  • Robert D. Grant

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