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Manuscript Releases Volume Twelve : Page 89

18. Ellen White and the Australian Depression of the 1890's

Depressed Conditions in Australia and the Remedy --Australia needs the leaven of sound, solid, common sense to be freely introduced into all her cities and towns. There is need of proper education. Schools should be established for the purpose of obtaining not only knowledge from books, but knowledge of practical industry. Men are needed in different communities to show the people how riches are to be obtained from the soil. The cultivations of land will bring its return.

Through the observance of holidays the people both of the world and of the churches have been educated to believe that these lazy days are essential to health and happiness, but the results reveal that they are full of evil, which is ruining the health and the morals, and demoralizing the country. The youth generally are not educated to diligent habits. Cities and even country towns are becoming like Sodom and Gomorrah, and like the world as it was in the days of Noah. The training of the youth in those days was after the same order as children are being educated and trained in this age, to love excitement, to glorify themselves, to follow the imagination of their own evil hearts. Now as then, depravity, cruelty, violence, and crime are the results.

All these things have lessons for us. Few now are really industrious and economical. Poverty and distress are on every hand. There are men who


work hard and obtain very little for their labor. There is need of much more extensive knowledge in regard to the preparation of the soil. There is not sufficient breadth of view as to what can be realized from the earth. A narrow and unvarying routine is followed, with discouraging results. The land boom has cursed this country. Extravagant prices have been paid for lands bought on credit; then the land must be cleared, and more money is hired. A house to be built calls for more money, and then interest with open mouth swallows up all the profits. Debts accumulate, and then come the closings and failures of banks, and the foreclosures of mortgages. Thousands have been turned out of employment; families lose their little all. They borrow and borrow, and then have to give up their property and come out penniless. Much money has been put into farms, bought on credit or inherited with an incumbrance. The occupants lived in hope of becoming real owners, and it might have been so, but for the failure of banks throughout the country.

Now, the case where a man owns his place clear is a happy exception to the rule. Merchants are failing, families are suffering for [lack of] food and clothing. No work presents itself. But the holidays are just as numerous. Their amusements are entered into as eagerly. All who can do so will spend their hard-earned pence and shillings and pounds for a taste of pleasure, for strong drink or some other indulgence. The papers that report the poverty of the people have regular standing notices of the horse races, of the prizes presented for different kinds of exciting sports. The shows, the theaters, and all such demoralizing amusements, are taking the money from the country, and poverty is continually increasing. Poor men will


invest their last shilling in a lottery, hoping to secure a prize, and then they have to beg for food to sustain life, or go hungry. Many die of hunger, and many put an end to their existence. The end is not yet.

Men take you to their orchards of oranges and lemons and other fruits, and tell you that the produce does not pay for the work done in them. It is next to impossible to make ends meet, and parents decide that children shall not be farmers. They have not the courage and hope to educate them to till the soil.

What is needed are schools to educate and train the youth so that they will know how to overcome this condition of things. There must be education in the sciences, and education in plans and methods of working the soil. There is hope in the soil, but brain and heart and strength must be brought into the work of tilling it. The money devoted to horse-racing, theater-going, gambling, and lotteries; the money spent in the public houses for beer and strong drink, let it be expended in making the land productive and we should see a different state of things.--Ms 8, 1894, pp. 9-11. ("Where Shall We Locate Our School?" Feb., 1894.)

Hoped to See the Work Go Forward in Australia --The failure of banks, the financial pressure, makes hard times everywhere in this country. It is difficult for students to obtain money to defray their expenses at school, or for our brethren to build even the most humble places for worship. We hear of people starving to death in the cities, and nearly every day persons come to our door begging for something to eat. They are never turned away. And we are constantly called upon to hand out money to keep the work moving.


Oh, how thankful I shall be when we shall see the work going with power, and many souls compelled to come in from the highways and hedges because of the overwhelming evidence of the truth that the Lord impresses upon human hearts.--Letter 47, 1894, pp. 8, 9. (To J.H. Kellogg, April 18, 1894.)

Ellen White's Philanthropy --We occupy a house in Granville, a one-story cottage, for which we pay $27 per month. The house affords but limited room for our large family and frequent visitors, so I purchased a tent for $35 and had it pitched close by the house. The tent is brought into use when company comes. Our expenses are much heavier in this country than in America. We have to make very close figuring in order to do our duty to ourselves and to all outside our own family who need assistance and who will suffer without it. My clothing is getting very shabby, but I cannot expend money even on needed articles of dress when I see families that cannot buy bread.

One family, that of Brother A, who lives at Castle Hill, have been in great financial perplexity. Before the hard times came, Brother A was in good circumstances. During the land boom he purchased twenty acres of land, and set it out to orange, lemon, and other fruit trees. These bring him no profit for three or four years. Elder [G. B.] Starr and his wife, Brother McCullagh, and myself went to visit them, twelve miles from Granville. We always take more provisions with us than we need, for we wish to be a spiritual blessing to the ones we visit, and do not want them to be worrying in preparing food for us. We found a very needy family.


Brother A has a consumptive wife and seven children. They have a comfortable house, nicely located on a beautiful spot of ground, but the house is [only] partially furnished, and everything bespeaks pressure and want. The purchase was made before they accepted the truth. Brother A is an intelligent man, and his children are well behaved. They will soon be left motherless. In building their house Brother A incurred a debt, and now he cannot obtain work. He is a stone mason by trade. His brother, who has money in the bank, promised to loan him money if necessary, but in the financial pressure the bank closed, and the brother cannot obtain a pound. He must wait until better times for his money. Brother A is in debt to the same bank, and he is in daily expectation of receiving a summons either to repay the money loaned him or to lose all that he has. He said, "For many months we have not lived, only existed."

This depression of finances has brought several families who believe the truth into destitution because of foreclosures. Brother A was in great discouragement as he looked upon his dependent family. He was in danger of giving up everything. We had a most precious season in praying and conversing with them. They had not attended meetings for months. The Lord blessed us, and comforted the hearts of this dear family, and although they live twelve miles from Parramatta church, and ten miles from Kellyville church, of which they are members, they have been out every Sabbath since, and now instead of talking unbelief and discouragement, they are talking faith and hope and courage. Thank the Lord for this. . . .

Brother B lives at Kellyville. He has been a real-estate agent, earning from twenty to forty pounds sterling a month. When the tent was pitched


at Kellyville, he, with his wife and older children, embraced the truth. This is a most precious family, intelligent and devoted. They had purchased and cleared twenty acres of land, which cost them thirty pounds sterling an acre, and set it out to fruit trees. It was entirely paid for, and, expecting to be as prosperous as he had been, Brother B built himself a nice cottage and had it expensively furnished. But the financial crisis came, and he with hundreds of others was thrown out of employment, for men had no money to purchase land and dwelling houses.--Letter 50, 1894, pp. 1-4. (To Harmon Lindsay, June 14, 1894.)

Thousands Destitute in Australia During Depression --The poor are everywhere. The banks have ruined the country. They invested the people's deposits in various speculations, exceeded their funds, and as the result some have failed, and others have closed, so that the people are poor and helpless. Thousands are destitute of money; they are thrown out of work, and distress is everywhere. The country is in financial ruin. We need not have felt the pressure we are now under if the books could be sold, but not much can now be done in this line. People are so poor that canvassing is not a success. The horse-racing, the multiplied holidays, the theater-going, the gambling, the public houses (called saloons in America), gather up a large share of what little means there is, and the country is made no better for it. If the public houses were but closed, how much suffering would be saved.--Letter 30a, 1894 pp. 2, 3. (To Walter Harper, July 8, 1894.)


How Ellen White Dealt With the Financial Depression in Australia --Our faith has been tested and tried. We have been pressed with poverty on every side. Families were continually coming to me and telling me that they had no money to buy bread, but what could I do? I could not pay my own workers any wages, and our grocery bills were accumulating. For three or four months my workers could not be paid, but they were willing to suffer inconvenience. I received from Battle Creek six hundred dollars. This would barely set me straight with my creditors, but some of them were willing to wait.

I immediately set to work on my garden men who were in need, some of these destitute of daily food. One man with a family of four children came to me and said that they had had nothing but squash to eat for a week. I gave them a cow, for they must have something for their children. We also plowed their land for them, my hired man doing the work. To another family I loaned a cow, that they might have milk for their children. I cannot see such poverty as this without great pain of heart, for I know that there is enough in the world to sustain all if economy were practiced by those who have the means.--Ms 55, 1896, pp. 1, 2. (Diary, Oct. 1, 1896.) White Estate Washington, D. C. July 15, 1982