Now, it is notorious that millions live thus on the border-land. Granted that after the harvest border-landers may for a time get two good meals a day. Yet as the reserve store dwindles down and long before harvest-time comes round, again, they get but one, and that frequently a scanty one. They do live, multitudes of them, it is true, amidst conditions that seem to us impossible. But how many of them die on this one meal a day, there is nobody to chronicle. But if we do nothing beyond rescuing a considerable mass of the totally submerged, we shall considerably ameliorate the condition of these border-landers.
By rendering independent of charity thousands who now depend upon the gifts of the more fortunate, by making large tracts of land productive which at present lie waste, by enlarging the stream of emigration, and partially draining the morass of crime, it is absolutely certain that the conditions of life will become more favourable for the border-landers. New markets will be created both for produce and labour, which will tend to relieve the congested condition of the land now under cultivation.
The land at present is like a good, but overworked and under-fed horse, which, under this double adversity of overwork and under-feeding, dies and leaves his poor owner, who was entirely dependent upon his earnings, a pauper. It is a condition of things which is bad, and bound of necessity to grow only worse and worse, till the willing horse drops under his load, and his master falls from poverty to destitution. Once enable the man to temporarily decrease his horse’s labour and permanently increase its food supply, that horse will regain its strength, and by its increased strength become able to do double the amount of work, increase its master’s earnings, and so in time enable him not only to properly feed his horse, but also to properly feed himself.
Now close to hand there is an unemployed horse available which will afford the relief, for want of which the overworked horse is dying. The unoccupied and waste lands, waste labour, and waste produce, constitute the ideal unemployed horse, on whose back we would put part of the burden of maintaining the life and feeding the mouths of the Nation. This idle and hitherto useless horse will immediately become useful and productive, and will enable its under-fed companion, not only to be relieved of part of its burden, but also to get sufficient food, and grow once more plump and strong. Thus the man, or nation, that lived, however miserably, yet still lived, on the labour of the one famished over-worked horse, will then be able to get a decent living, since there will be two strong well-fed horses to work for them, instead of a single broken-down one.