About six months later I went again to Hamburg, this time to see the first party away. They were in a good deal of trouble, for most of them, in spite of all advice, had clung to old family lumber, things mostly quite unsuited to Australia, and the carriage-cost of which drained their narrow means at every stage. But, worst of all, the cholera was then raging in Hamburg, and it attacked several of the party during some few days, while they waited, under such shelter as they could improvise, until the ship could take them. Delius and I visited them, to cheer them with the near prospect of the sunshine and plenty of Australia.
A rather motley crew was this first German party landed at Melbourne. I fear they were not all vinedressers. But the difficulty was to get them to describe themselves as such, even when they were so. This was almost as hard upon them as for an Indian Brahmin to write himself down a low-caste Hindoo. Upon any pretence they would class themselves as of some trade, and one, who doubtless expected great things from it, entered himself, to the serious damage of our case, as "Doctor of Philosophy." There was considerable difficulty and delay in getting the grant. Mr. La Trobe helped us as much as he conscientiously could. Of course, the said doctor had to be excluded, and others with him. But eventually a substantial sum was handed to the shippers, sufficient to encourage them to continue the business.
Several expeditions, larger or smaller, followed. I have no record of their total. One of their great delights was the superabundance of fresh beef and mutton. Our ever-active colonist, Dr. Thomson, of Geelong, who took great interest in Germans, invited a party of them, just arrived, to Geelong, where he gave them a supper upon the grass around his pretty residence, killing and roasting a large fat sheep, and serving out chops, and all the rest of it, ad libitum. One man was noticed to have eaten a couple of pounds' weight right off, and no doubt he felt, in consequence, like the boy in "Punch", just as though his jacket were buttoned. My late esteemed friend, Mr. Otto Neuhauss, himself one of the emigrating throng, although not of the very first party, gave me, from his complete mastery of English, most material help in managing their affairs. I had afterwards the pleasant duty of recommending him to our first Colonial Secretary, Captain Lonsdale, for a Justiceship of the Peace, to the great satisfaction and convenience of his co-emigrant countrymen. I am under much like obligation also to Mr. Brahe, who long acted, and I hope still acts, as a solicitor amongst the Germans.
But the grand prize for these Germans was the acquisition of land. Accordingly Captain Stanley Carr (then on a visit with the German Prince of Schleswig-Holstein) and myself took up, in trust for such Germans as desired it, and had the means of payment, one of the square miles of surveyed land, as yet unapplied for, about twelve miles north of Melbourne, which was divided amongst them in lots as agreed upon. And there they are to this day, a thriving community. When, in company with Neuhauss, my wife and I visited them in 1857, just before finally quitting the colony, we found considerable progress in the form of a scattered village, with a little Lutheran church, and some show of gardening and cultivation. They seemed delighted to stick to their German speaking, and would not even try to speak English. One amusing feature in the scramble as to allotments was that each tried, in most cases, to get trees, stones, and rocks in preference to clear ground, as if so much additional wealth. The trees might have had value for firewood, but in the other items they had probably more than they bargained for. We secured the land for them at a pound an acre, and the fact of their being so largely settled upon it raised its value at once considerably. All the land thereabout has now risen to many times this first cost. Many more Germans have since, as I understand, settled upon other land.
The exact value of the German immigration to Australia may be to us a differing estimate, but I think we mostly give it a decided welcome. Lord Grey, as I recollect, was attacked in Parliament by the political opposition for thus spending money on foreigners which might have better gone to our own destitute, etc., etc. And I myself was repeatedly so attacked, but always in a like merely political opposition way, when anything is let fly at an opponent that will serve the momentary purpose. In the heat of the O'Shanassy contest for Melbourne, for instance, I was accused of having told the Silesian peasants that they were wanted to set an example of sobriety to the drunken Irish. But I easily escaped from that noose by the rejoinder that, if I did say anything of the kind, it must have been of my own countrymen, as an Irishman can never stand to a Highlander at whisky. The true point of the question is the denationalizing of our race, which is so seriously threatened, for example, by the import of Chinese. We know that something of French, Flemish, Dutch, and Danish-Norse, along with a leading dash of German, all grafted on the old British stock, have evolved the modern Englishman. Substantially, therefore, we are only reopening this useful manufacture, which was effectively begun for England fifteen centuries back.
THE GERMAN PRINCE.
"Come of a gentle, kind, and noble stock." —Pericles.
One of the pleasant incidents to vary our social life was the arrival in 1850 of the young Prince of Schleswig-Holstein, to whom there occurred, during the German dynastic confusion that followed the revolutionary year 1848, an opportunity to see the world. Accompanied by his guardian, Captain Stanley Carr, he arrived by one of the Messrs. Godeffroy's ships from Hamburg, having been swayed to some extent in selection of travel route by the fact of German emigration to Port Phillip having commenced the year before through the same firm. The Prince, who was then only of the age of nineteen, and of most amiable and ingenuous look, had that charm of the true politeness of his years, which left you the impression that he thought that everyone was to be preferred to himself. If unfortunate, in the chances of the struggle, in being dropped out of his principality, he was afterwards compensated in another direction, for not only is his younger brother our Queen's son-in-law, but one of his daughters is to-day Empress of Germany. What a reminder are such changes of the swift passing of time and of the crowd of portentous events in these quick-speeding years.
The Prince and his guardian landed, as it were, in my arms, by virtue both of introductions from the Godeffroys, and of my position as virtual parental head of the German flock which had begun to stream into Port Phillip. Unacquainted myself with the language, I was ably and untiringly helped, as I have said, by my late friend Mr. Neuhauss. The Prince took the thin disguise of Lieutenant Groenwald, but I never heard that name, except in Captain Carr's official intimation. We all called him the Prince, but he was equally courteous and unassuming whatever way we addressed him. It was quite touching to see the harmony that existed between ward and guardian, the one looking up to his sage Mentor with the trustful tractability of a child, the other reciprocating high regard out of the depths of that ultra-Tory sentiment with which long residence within German Court vicinities, and perhaps a natural turn of mind, had imbued him. We have been apprised of this still lingering German high sentiment by hearing at times of the late Emperor Frederick's habit, when Crown Prince, of calling the Princess "wife," and of asking, when looking for her, where his "wife" was—a transgression of court etiquette so appalling as well nigh to send the queried parties off into a fit. There was another amusing illustration from Captain Carr. He came to me once very considerably disconcerted by the report of a public meeting the day before, at which he, oblivious for the moment of the inevitable omnipresent English free press, had offered some remarks. The "Argus", under the undiscriminating democratic pen of Kerr, its editor, had reported that "Captain Stanley Carr had told the meeting that the King of Prussia had told him" so and so; whereas, as Carr sorrowfully complained, the proper expression should have been that "an exalted personage in Prussia had led him to understand" so and so. But, added my friend, with manifest comfort, the departure from propriety was so flagrant that, if the report did happen to reach the king's eyes, he would never believe it of him.
Both distinguished visitors honoured me and two of my sisters, who had by this time followed their brother to the land of promise, with a few days' residence at our cottage, with its garden so full of fruit, upon the Merri Creek. When so many other invitations pressed, we were in honour bound to this time-limitation. They were easily entertained with such few elegancies as we could then boast of. But we were bound also, even in mere good feeling to surrounding ambitious maidens, to get up a ball in the Prince's honour. I had my task in discriminating the comparative few of the fair hands that could possibly be placed in that of the guest, for even a prince could not dance for ever, so as to overtake all. On the Prince's part every successive hand was accepted with equal readiness, and every favoured maiden was duly encouraged, or discouraged, by faultlessly impartial courtesy.
"Whirlwinds of tempestuous fire." —Milton.
The year 1851 had for us three memorable events: first, "Black Thursday," on 6th February; second, the elevation of Port Phillip district into the colony of Victoria, on 1st July; third, the discovery of gold, which was practically and substantially that of Ballarat, during the third week of September.
Black Thursday has been so much written about by others that I had best confine myself to my own experiences. I rode in to business, as usual, from my Merri Creek residence, 4 1/2 miles north of the city. The weather had been unusually dry for some days with the hot wind from the north-west, or the direction of what we called Sturt's Desert, where hot winds in summer, and almost as distinctly cold winds in midwinter, were manufactured for us. The heat had been increasing daily, and this, as we comforted ourselves, was surely the climax which was to bring the inevitable reversion of the southerly blast and the restoring rain, for it was felt as the hottest day in my recollection. In town we did not hear of much that day, although reports came from time to time of sinister-looking signs from the surrounding interior, whence an unusual haze or thick mist seemed to rise towards the cloudless sky. Some few, however, who were more active than others in their trading or gossiping movements, became aware in the afternoon, or perhaps were favoured with the news as a secret, that Dr. Thomson had ridden posthaste from Geelong to Alison and Knight, our early and leading millers and flour factors, to warn them that the whole country was in flames, with incalculable destruction of cereals and other products; whereupon the said firm at once raised the price of flour thirty per cent. The Doctor had certainly earned a good fee on that occasion, and we must hope that he got it.
I returned home as usual after the day's work. Nothing to alarm us had even made a near approach to Melbourne, as our trees were too park-like in their wide scatter, and our grass too much cropped off by hungry quadrupeds, to expose us to any danger. But feeling unusual oppression from the singularly close heat, for I was attired in woollen clothing, not greatly under the winter woollen standard, and which, by the way, serves to confirm that our dry Australian clime is not to be measured in effect, like most others, by mere height of the thermometer, I proceeded to indulge myself, for the first time in my life, I think, with a second "refresher" of my shower-bath. Next morning accounts began to pour in from all quarters of an awful havoc, in which, sad to say, life to no small extent was lost, as well as very much property.
There has never been, throughout Australia, either before or since, such a day as Victoria's Black Thursday, and most likely, or rather most certainly, it will never, to its frightful extent, occur again; for every year, with the spread of occupation, brings its step in the accumulation of protectives. Still these fires are a terrible and frequent evil, and even if the towns and settlements are safe, the destruction of the grand old forests is deplorable, and ere very many years will be, indeed, most sadly deplored. What between the unchecked clearances of the fires, and the unchecked clearances on the part of the colonists, I fear that those noble gum trees, the greatest and loftiest trees probably in the world, so graphically described by Mr. Froude in his recent Australian tour, will have but a poor chance. He describes also, with equal life, those dangerous forest fires, which are so especially frequent during the ever-recurring ordeals of drought, of which he had a fair sample at the time of his visit. Only think of eight miles of forest burnt in one fire which he witnessed, and such fires frequent occurrences!
Let us in time take warning by the example of the States and Canada, where, in and around the more settled parts, the magnificent primeval forest has entirely disappeared, alike from areas still unused as from those brought into use. When I travelled by rail from Montreal to Toronto, during the British Association's Session at the former in 1884, a very large part of the way was through the monotonous and utterly wearisome scene of a second growth of miscellaneous small trees and underwood that had succeeded to the grand original. We were told of one small town which had become famous by its good taste or good fortune in having preserved in its midst one of the ancient monarchs. Well, what could be done to preserve Australian forests? We must not deprive the people of the use of these forests, for there they are for the purpose, as part of the country's wealth, and in quantity enough for all, discreetly dealt with. I would parcel out the forests, into great clumps, marking off adequate passages between each, and only permitting for the present the latter to be dealt with. With the gradual clearing of these intervals, the reserved portions, and the colony generally, might be freed, in great measure, from the risk of fires.
EARLY VICTORIA, FROM 1851.
"Gold! gold! gold! Bright and yellow, hard and cold." —Hood.
I am drawing near the end of what may be fairly considered as "Early Melbourne and Victoria." Indeed, I might be challenged in going beyond the memorable 1851, a year which ushers such momentous new features into the colony. But considerably more than a generation has since passed; and, writing as I do for those who occupy to-day the old scene, I may plead as my excuse their own view of the subject; for already they regard the time I have come to as the real beginning of early Victoria, while the dim distances preceding are to them a kind of age before the deluge, which ordinary memories fail to fathom. In keeping to personal recollections I cannot, at the worst, be very protracted, for I quitted public life in 1853, and regretfully, under the calls of business, the colony itself four years later. I must confine myself to some few recollections of the former brief but busy period—1851-3—of which, in its multifarious rush of political and general business, I might say in the well-known words of the Roman poet, which have survived my classic rust "quorum pars magna fui," provided I were allowed to greatly abate, or rather perhaps, in becoming modesty, altogether to delete, the third factor of Virgil's sentence.
The goldfields came upon us with almost the suddenness of the changes of dreamland. We had had a slight graduation by the news, in the May preceding, from the sister colony, of a shepherd on Dr. Kerr's station, near Bathurst, having come upon a round hundredweight of nearly pure gold. This luck, I presume, was mainly the result of the habit most of us had begun to acquire of keeping our eyes upon the ground beneath us, in consequence of Hargreaves, on his return from California about this time, having predicted gold, and subsequently fulfilled his prophecy by washing out some of the precious metal in the Bathurst vicinities. Passing over trifling intermediate finds of gold, as at Anderson's Creek in August, Ballarat came suddenly upon us.
The news reached town, I think, on 21st September. A week later a small knot of us merchants, who had offices on the east side of the Market-square—including our next door neighbours, Messrs. Watson and Wight—were discussing what was to come of it all; for while part of our employees were off to visit the diggings on leave, the rest threatened to follow—leave or no leave. The situation had a certain convenience in the fact that almost all business was for the time at an end, excepting that of buying up spades and shovels, pitchers and pannikins, and anything to answer for a cradle.
Instead of rising with the gold, houses and lands in Melbourne actually fell, and considerably too, in the first confusion, when multitudes were selling off or letting at anything they could get, in order to be off to the diggings. There came, however, a rapid recovery a few months after. My friend Mr. Henry Miller, sitting next me in the Legislature, told me one day that two owners of cottages, to whom he had lent 80 pounds each, upon their respective security, had begged him six months ago to take over the said property in payment, and let them be off at once to the common goal of the day; that he had charitably done so, and that he had just resold these houses for 1,000 pounds each.
When the tide began its upward turn, a Mr. O'Farrell, a quiet unpretending house agent and rent collector (one of whose sons afterwards came to so bad an end), made promptly a large fortune by buying up leases or fee-simples, and in an incredibly short time re-disposing of them at a great advance.
"All that glisters is not gold." —Merchant of Venice.
Let me begin upon early Ballarat by stating, what many may now have forgotten, namely, that the original and native name was Balaarat, or Ballaarat, which was the pronunciation then, and for some years after. But our English way is to put the emphasis on the first part of a polysyllabic word. I have long remarked this practice, comparing it with that of races of inferior, or more or less barbarous condition, who, as in countless other examples in Australia, and still more strikingly in New Zealand, and generally, I think, over the world, lay the emphasis on or towards the end of the word. What does it mean? I arrived at my solution. The emphatic ending best preserves the whole word. The barbarous, with few ideas, give surpassing importance to words; while the civilized, under the crowd of ideas, disregard words except as mere vehicles, and traverse them easiest by the early emphasis, to say nothing of dropping the after part entirely when troublesomely long. The Turanian, or lowest class of language, as Professor Max Muller tells us, preserves its root-words for ever, tacking one to another, but never losing the full sound of each; while all sorts of word "jerry mandering" liberties go on in the highest class. I ventured to propound my theory to my linguistic friend, Mr. Hyde Clarke; but he found so many divergencies in Latin and Greek and Hebrew, and what not, that I was driven to a partial reconstruction. It was the busy as well as civilized race that scamped the words. The Greeks and Romans—that portion of them that made society or the public opinion, and that consequently governed the language—abhorred the vulgar hurry of business life, and thus gave their words a better chance of unmutilated life. I have not yet been driven out of this final theory.
With hardly anything else to do, it was as hardly possible to resist a visit, with nearly everybody else, to Ballarat. So I appeared there on the 3rd October, and, as senior member for Melbourne in the colony's first Parliament, and first President of the recently established Chamber of Commerce, I was, of course, "a man in authority." So, mounting a gum-tree stump, as the only available chair or pulpit, I harangued the diggers, first upon the grand fortunes that had overtaken the colony, and next upon their sadly wasteful ways with the little stream that ran through the Ballarat valley. I fear I did not much impress my hearers on the latter point, for everyone did what was most for his immediate needs, whether or not he thus sacrificed his neighbour below him. Next I was conducted to Gold Point, which was just developing its quality in the "blue clay," which had been struck at no great depth below the surface. I was let down into a big hole, the early parent of shaft-sinking, given a spade, and directed to apply it to a place where a digger's quick eye had detected one speck of gold. There was probably, he said, a string of gold behind it. And so it proved, for out of about a pound weight of matrix which I removed on the corner of the spade, I picked out 7 shillings and 6 pence worth of gold.
Then I retired from the crowd and the incessant noise of cradles, and ascending from the valley to the high level plain, I came upon a small lake, whose waters glittered peacefully in the warm sunshine of a bright spring day. A tiny streamlet was still running from the lake, and trickling down the small semi-precipice towards the main rivulet, now sadly muddy, which I had just left. So near was this edge to the lake that I increased the stream by deepening its bed with my foot; but I repented of this waste, and restored the block, because the approaching summer must be thought for, and this natural reservoir was by no means deep. I waded into the pleasantly and invitingly cool water, but had promptly to retreat from swarms of leeches which attacked my feet. The scene was striking. Although the hum of busy humanity arose from beneath, not an object was visible on the higher level, as I glanced around to the far west and north, excepting the country's indigenous features. There was not a human being, not even a sheep in sight. Around this spot has since arisen the city of Ballarat, with fifty thousand people, with streets, buildings, institutions, business (including an extra busy Stock Exchange), equal to those of, at least, twice its population at Home; while the lovely lake of that time has long been fringed with residences and gardens, and its waters been the scene of the regattas and other diversions of the leisure of the prosperous citizens.
As I rode back on my horse to town—for Cobb and Co. had not yet established their leather-hung stage drags, for which, in the impossibility of others upon the unmade roads, we had reason to be thankful—I mused over all I had seen, and long ere reaching home had concluded that 10,000 pounds a day was being taken out of Ballarat. Sundays excepted, that meant a product at the rate of over three millions a year, into which, as one of its export items, the young colony was already "precipitated" from a total export product of only a trifle above a million the year before. No one was prepared to credit such a statement. Indeed, unbelief on the point was prevalent until well on into 1852, when Bendigo had been added to Ballarat, and when Melbourne was seen to be full of gold, which the newly-instituted "gold broker" was already practised, with critical eye as to quality, in weighing out by the hundred or the thousand ounces, and which diggers by hundreds were carrying away in their pockets, in most cases entirely unrecorded, to Tasmania, Sydney, and Adelaide. There was hardly any Customs record at the first, and only a very partial one for a while after, until the diggers ceased thus to carry off the gold, upon finding that the rival brokers gave them fair and full value. The yield of 1852 was estimated at no less than fifteen millions.
How the diggers, utterly inexperienced as they mostly then were, came so suddenly upon such surpassingly rich drifts has never been, to my mind at least, satisfactorily explained, unless the case be summarily affiliated to those possibilities of throwing "sixes" in dozen successions, and such like. In no one year, since 1852, have the Victorian goldfields, although comparatively the most productive, yielded even a near approach to fifteen millions.
MOUNT ALEXANDER AND BENDIGO.
"Our fortune lies upon this jump." —Antony and Cleopatra.
The following year, about the same pleasant spring season, I made out a second goldfields visit, in company with my late friend, Mr. W.M. Bell, senior partner of the early firm of Bells and Buchanan. This time I went further inland, and in the more northerly direction of Mount Alexander and Bendigo, as considerable regions around were then loosely called, and which are now represented respectively by the large municipalities of Castlemaine and Sandhurst. Vast changes had taken place in the colony since my Ballarat visit. There had been, in the first place, arrivals in multitudes, first from the surrounding colonies, and then from Home, and, in a lesser influx, from the Cape, America, and parts of Europe. The tide of such threatening dimensions from China was later on. The roads, such as they were, were crowded with passengers; and with traffic, chiefly in flour, to the starving diggers, the carriage of which to Bendigo ran up to 100 pounds a ton. Indeed, such was the cost of carriage that some of us estimated that a single year's total would equal the cost of making a railway. Of course the railway, draining the labour market, could only itself have been at proportionate cost. Nevertheless, Mr. Trenchard, a Melbourne solicitor, projected "The Melbourne, Mount Alexander and Murray River Railway," an enterprise which, after some months' flutter of chequered life, expired for want of support from the over-busy colonists, who had other far more immediately pressing needs and chances for their money.
The "gold escort" had been established by this time, with an armed guard, which at times included "native police," a force which had been the best, if not the only, success as yet in our "civilizing" efforts with the aborigines. The art of digging had greatly advanced since my Ballarat visit. At Bendigo I inspected the "White Hills," where there was already regular shaft-sinking to depths approaching 100 feet. The White Hills were so-called from a large ejection, piled up in white mounds of a light-coloured thick bed of the auriferous drifts, in which unprecedented quantities of gold had been found. Descending one of the shafts, I was shown the chief source of this gold, namely, a thin seam of small quartz grit, hardly two inches in thickness, and of the white quartz hue, excepting the lowest half inch, which was browned with iron. This lowest half inch had almost all the gold, and the very lowest part of it, where the iron-brown darkened almost to black, was literally crowded with gold particles. The diggers now always looked for the most gold where the quartz drift showed most of iron browning. Mr. Selwyn had not yet explained to us our Australian gold features and those gold "constants" of Murchison, which had to sustain so severe a shaking in Australia. I scraped out gold grains with my nails, and a good many with a knife within a minute. When I told the claim owners, that here was unlimited gold, and asked what they intended to do with it all, they pointed to the superincumbent mass of white stuff, which was either absolutely sterile, or, what was practically the same, had insufficient gold to pay even a run through the wash when ejected. The case seemed not unlike that of the thin seams of flint nodules (say nuggets) which characterize the thick chalk strata of South England, within which most or all the silicious matter of the entire bed has been somehow brought together. I understood that this remarkable gold seam gave out not long after, and that, thereupon, the marvellous yield of Bendigo was seriously diminished.
As we approached this already great and busy goldfield, when the hum of its business life was just breaking upon our ears, but without any other disturbing intrusion to interfere with the universally indigenous scene, a large kangaroo—the "old man," or largest species—started up amongst the gum-tree underwood a little ahead of us, and bounded away in magnificent style. But a day or two afterwards, as we were leaving Bendigo, another feature of the colony, not indigenous and by no means so pleasant was brought up to our minds to their considerable discomfort for the moment. We were just clear of goldfields sounds and company, and involved in the utter solitude of the primeval bush, when we espied a party approaching us on the road. They numbered five, all on horseback. Somehow, the circumstances considered, we had all, independently, concluded that there was no small chance of their being bushrangers; for already the towns and goldfields—the latter, of course, mostly—swarmed with these unmitigated ruffians, arrived chiefly from Tasmania. We discussed the chances—three, four, possibly even five to one in our favour—and considered what we should do in case even five to one failed us in the lot. What we COULD do was the practical question. We had also, I think, five of a party, and Bell was a huge, strong fellow, able for a couple of ordinary mortals; but what availed all that against desperadoes each doubly armed with revolver and rifle. We calmed ourselves as best we could as we mutually approached; our salute was cordially returned, and then we found that we owed an ample apology for having for once so grievously mistaken honest men.
Another goldfields feature was of the most pleasing and inspiring character. In no goldfield we had then visited did we ever meet with so much as one drunken person. With most laudable prescience, our authorities had prohibited the ingress of and the dealing in any intoxicating drink on all proclaimed goldfields. The good order in consequence was quite marvellous, and we seemed as if in some earthly paradise, where mankind had, as with one consent, dropped the worst of human vices and passions. But this was only so far as drink and drunkenness were concerned; for rude circumstances made rude men, to say no more of the pervading convict element. Nor were the goldfields free from "sly grog selling," as it is called. Still, the difficulties put in the way kept them thus sober. Of course, outside the goldfields' limits there was drunken riot enough, intensified, no doubt, by the enforced sobriety within. Troops of diggers, or their employees, with their pockets full of gold, would start for town, or for the nearest "public," there to run up a score till the whole "pile" had vanished. We were told of one country hotel called "The Porcupine," whose keeper was making 40,000 pounds a year of net profit. These riotous crowds, at each public-house, indulged in such shocking excesses of language and conduct as to make mere drunkenness the very innocence of the case. But withal I confess to a greatly disappointed feeling when, having left the colony on a Home visit early in 1853, and returned late in 1854, I found that the influence of the great "spirit interest" had succeeded in removing all restriction from the goldfields. By this time, however, the police and other authority were better organized, so that there was a very considerable mitigation of bad effects.
EARLY VICTORIAN LEGISLATION.
"They that stand high have many blasts to shake them." —Richard III.
"Hear ye not the hum of mighty workings." —Keats.
"Stay, you imperfect speakers." —Macbeth.
We commenced with an unpretending budget, although memorable 1853, with all its gold and its progress, in what Wentworth happily called the precipitation into a nation, had dawned upon us. The Speaker of our then single Chamber system—one-third nominees—had but 400 pounds a year, which is guide sufficient to indicate the scale and style of other things. Our first choice for Speaker fell upon Dr. Palmer, an early colonist of the medical profession, and of good culture and bearing, but who had not previously taken any prominent social position. His ambition was probably stimulated by the fact that amongst the busy colonists, who perhaps foresaw more work than either honour or pay, there was no candidate but himself. The rest of us speculated, not without expected amusement, as to the official attire our new dignitary would appear in. Probably any other of the elected members, as Speaker, would have decided on simple evening dress, as most consistent with the modern tendency to make a gentleman plain, and the waiter and footman dressily conspicuous; and this would perhaps have decided as to "the Chair" in that respect for all the future. But Palmer we all knew to be too much of the old Tory for any surrender of that kind, and there was, besides, just a trace of the oddly positive in him, although otherwise a genial good fellow, which held out promise of sport. We were only half gratified. He appeared in a plain quaker-like but much braided coat, which was understood to have gone for dress in the good old times of Charles II.—a time when kings were really kings.
Three prominent subjects came before us for legislation. First, that fundamental topic of interminable difference, the Land Question. Second, the Goldfields Question, which was even more important then, seeing that the Government, under pretence of old English law, to the effect that all "treasure trove" was the Crown's, claimed the whole goldfields as Crown territory, whose population had thus no rights, political or fiscal, except the Crown chose to give such. Third, the Transportation Question, which, under the startling emergencies of the moment, was perhaps second to no other before us.
It was rather amusing to see how business went at first, for nearly all of us were quite inexperienced in public life. But Mr. Barker, our first Clerk of the Council, took bravely to his duties, and soon became a useful referee. There was much looking up for authority, and O'Shanassy indulged in many a profane joke at "May" having taken definitive possession of Speaker Palmer's brain. One most decided obstacle to our legislative progress was the fact that the vast incessant tide of business thrust upon the colony made it hardly possible to spare any time for other than each one's own private concerns. In my own case, the only "leisure" I ever had then in the six days was half-an-hour for a walk and a thought in the early morn. The entire remainder of the day, and great part of the night also, were one succession of private business, public meetings, and deputations, Council Committees and Council sittings.
The unprepared speeches were in due accordance. Dr. (now Sir Charles) Nicholson, the Sydney Speaker, happened to pay us a visit during these early legislative throes of baby Victoria; and as I sat by him in the privileged place near the Speaker's chair, he remarked that, prepared as he was to find a crude spectacle, he had never imagined an assemblage of such helpless incompetency. But, in defence, I took Bulwer Lytton's view, that genius being mainly labour, and labour mainly time, the want of the last might be merely preventing the first. And so it has turned out long ago; so that if Sir Charles, who, I am glad to say, is still to the fore, were to pay another visit, and try conclusions with Mr. Service, and possibly a hundred others besides, he might reach a different verdict.
We were all, confessedly, terribly raw in all matters of Parliamentary form. One day, while we were more than usually puzzled in that respect, Town Clerk Kerr, who happened to be present, was continually sending to myself and others written slips, suggesting the proper or common-sense course. I could not help thinking that, if he had been but a trifle less of a party man, there was no one in the colony who would have made a better Speaker, with his sufficiently portly person and commanding presence, his imperturbable gravity, and his well-filled head in everything required from that quarter for the position. But this was an utter non possimus with the nominees and squatting members, most of whom, with Ebden at their head, would almost rather have endured a presentable Vandemonian expiree in the chair than the ultra-democratic Town Clerk and caustic ex-editor of the anti-squatter and anti-government "Argus". Some of the officials, however, were fairly up to their mark, notably our Attorney-General Stawell (now Sir William, the ex-Chief Justice), who, both then and since, has ever held the first position in ability. At an interval came Auditor-General Ebden, and one or two others, official or unofficial. My worthy friend Cassell, Collector of Customs (or Commissioner thereof, as I think he was then called), was brimful of information for us all, but not much of a speaker.
The other side of the House, that of the two-thirds elected, was, in my memory, raw throughout. O'Shanassy's strong brogue, and ungainly delivery and manner, had not yet been overbalanced by the solidity of his arguments. Johnson, our third metropolitan, had early descended, or else condescended, to pungent snapping at the heels of the nominees, as though these sacred persons had been ordinary mortals like the ruck of membership on his own side of the table. By far our most vivacious member was William Rutledge, of Port Fairy, who, with an earnestness of manner, contrasting with a merry twinkle of the eye, and with a ready but utterly negligent tongue, gave us many a laugh. He was highly indignant on one occasion, as I remember, on hearing that a bet had been taken that, on a particular Committee day, he would rise and speak more than thirty different times; and he was still more angry when his informant went on to tell him that the bet had been won. One of the country members, whose name I am now not quite sure of, set us all in a roar, on one occasion, by taking as a personal affront, and very tartly too, as though quite intended, the interruption to his speech by the arrival of a "royal" message from the Governor.
Another curiosity was the way in which the House adjusted itself for legislative action. Almost as matter of course, under the instincts of the position, the elected members were, in fact and in principle alike, opposed to the nominated; and that, by consequent instincts, ever meant simply the Government. The press, with similar unanimity, was on the elected side, for both were in the fight for the full "constitutional" concession, which came a few years later. In anything that touched squatting, however, the squatting representatives, led by another old friend, W.F. Splatt, of the Wimmera, went over bodily, thus giving the Government a small majority, which, as I have shown in my sketch of Mr. La Trobe, blocked us seriously in dealing with the waste or Crown lands for the benefit of the inpouring tens of thousands of people. Sometimes, by the force of our case, we stole a vote from the Ministerial side, as when Mr. (afterwards Judge) Pohlman defected upon my anti-transportation motion for transmission to the Home Government. There was one sole exception on our elective side (another old personal friend), William Campbell, of the Loddon, who, uncongenial towards the disturbing democratic prospect, voted steadily for the Government. On this account, Edward Wilson, then editing "The Argus", found for him the designation of "the lost sheep of the Loddon," which, as from the enemy's side, was no bad piece of humour; and it took its place in the colony's category accordingly; alongside of Ebden's "disgustingly rich," and possibly other like humour which I have forgotten.
One of the nominee members, Mr. Dunlop, took me roundly to task for asserting that, through a mere "accident of law" about "treasure trove" being, as of old, the property of the Crown, the Government claimed to confiscate the constitutional rights of one-half of the colonists. I "explained." But the situation really explained itself. The common-sense, as well as the political attainment of the day, could not possibly tolerate such an application of "Old Black Letter" to the entirely novel and unanticipated circumstances of these great and populous goldfields. The elected members were compelled to threaten the only course which appeared legally open to them—namely, that of not voting the supplies, if the goldfields regulations, and receipts and expenditure, all of which the Government had claimed as entirely their own independent matter, were not of reasonable and suitable character, and in accordance with the colonial representatives' views. At the last, however, there was happily mutual agreement.
The "Protection Question" was early brought on, of course from Geelong, by my worthy old friend J.F. Strachan, its member, and both its income and, for that time, its exit, were amusing. "Why lose so much revenue in order to set up colonial brandy-making?" he was asked; "was the domestic article we were to make such sacrifice for to be superior to the imported?" "On the contrary," he replied; "it was because it would be inferior, and must therefore be thus bonused against the superiority of the rival import." So then we were to lose revenue, and pay a higher price, in order to substitute bad liquor for good. Let us still keep to the better quality at the lower price. So the proposal was laughed out, Strachan himself, with his usual good humour, joining in the laugh.
It would be "supererogation" to go into our early legislation, which is familiar to the colony in a hundred publications, besides the fact that I have touched already on some of the prominent subjects or questions in which I myself took a part, such as the movement against transportation, the new and rather startling course in "The Convicts Prevention Act," and the first Gold Commission. I have therefore exhausted my subject, so far as it is properly my own, and must hasten to take my leave. When I first thought of this work for the delightfully complete leisure and repose of a long voyage, I feared that I might find but little to say of matters of a retrospect approaching two generations. But seated at last with pen in hand, and with memory stirred up, I had ere long to exercise mercy towards my expected readers, in sifting the surging crowd of recollections, so as to keep to such as might have general interest. I hope I have reasonably succeeded; and if I have also contributed, in however small a degree, to the information, interest, or amusement of my old friends and fellow-colonists, I shall be abundantly repaid.
S.S. "Coptic", at sea, latitude 45 degrees south, longitude 142 degrees east, 25th July, 1888.
"And this is my conclusion." —Much Ado About Nothing.
MELBOURNE IN 1888.
"Here, fifty winters since, by Yarra's stream, A scattered hamlet found its modest place: What mind would venture then in wildest dream Its wondrous growth and eminence to trace? What seer predict a stripling in the race Would, swift as Atalanta, win the prize Of progress, 'neath the world's astonished eyes?" —J. F. DANIELL, "The Jubilee of Melbourne."
"And, behold, one half of the greatness was not told me." —2 Chronicles 9:6.
My intended postscript on Melbourne as I found it in 1888 has been delayed until I have seen Sydney also, so that I have a few words of comparison on the two great capitals of the southern section of our empire.
ARRIVAL AT HOBART.
Allow me first to complete the outward passage. I concluded my "Recollections" when still at sea, within about a day of our ship's destination, Hobart. The Tasmanian shores gave us a salutation not usually associated with Australia, that, namely, of the snow, thickly sprinkled over the southern slopes of the island. I welcomed the scene, both as recalling that of Home, and as giving the promise of the highest of civilization, which, as Mr. Froude reminds us, belongs to the countries where the snow remains on the ground. We shortened our course by a few miles in taking D'Entrecasteaux Channel, and were, as I understood, the first of the large vessels from the other hemisphere to do so. We cast anchor off Hobart after nightfall, the many bright lights of the city gladdening our eyes, while the babble of English tongues from the boats around us reminded us once more that, after so many thousands of additional miles since at Cape Town, we were still within the British Empire.
My first salutation came from an exact namesake of mine, Mr. William Westgarth, whom I had known at Melbourne thirty-five years ago, and who, after varying fortunes, had for the last dozen years been conducting a superior class of boarding house or family hotel. It was called Westella, and was situated in Elizabeth-street, the chief thoroughfare of Hobart. The house I recollected as that of Mr. Henry Hopkins, a very early merchant of the city, whom I had met more than once between forty and fifty years ago. It was the undisputed palace of the city of its day; nor was it disposed, even now, to bend its head to any second position. As my friend conducted our party over the pretty scene of garden and cliff behind the house, we found it all wrapped in frost, except where the bright morning sun had struck, and we broke the ice, quite quarter of an inch thick, on a fishpond of the grounds. Thus Tasmanian ascendancy in the civilized world is secured.
PROGRESS OF THE ANTIPODES.
Already we began in Hobart, and we continued as we went further north, to meet with indications of the progress of the age, quite abreast of, and indeed rather ahead of, all that we have been used to at Home. For instance, we were hardly settled comfortably within Westella, when the waiter announced that. Mr. Fysh, the Tasmanian Premier, wished to see me. I had met Mr. Fysh in London, and I quite expected that he wished to have a talk with me about Tasmanian Finance and Loans. "Is he waiting?" I asked, jumping up at once to go to him. "No, sir," was the reply, "but he is speaking to you through the telephone." I passed to the telephone room, and the signal being sent that I was in attendance, I was given two ear-caps and told to listen. A clear, but also "a still, small voice" came up as from the "vasty deep." Whether from the smallness of it, or from my being unaccustomed to that mysterious sort of thing, I did not catch the words, and had to relinquish the business to our hostess, Miss Westgarth, and thus a meeting was conveniently arranged.
Fortunately for us, we had arrived in a leisure season in the hotel way, so that our host was free to devote himself to us in sightseeing, and thus, with hardly a day and a half to spare, we got a fair idea of Hobart, including a drive along the Huon-road, in whose shaded valleys we found as much snow and ice as though we perambulated the Scotch Highlands in January. This had been, however, an exceptionally severe winter. On the way to Government House, my eyes were once more regaled with the gum trees, in the well-accustomed form of open forest, the ground being covered with grass, on which sheep were depasturing. This is the pleasing characteristic of much of Australian scenery.
THE TASMANIAN MAIN LINE.
The next day, Sunday, we had to leave for Launceston, by a special train of the Tasmanian Main Line, so as to be in time for the boat to Melbourne, on which we depended for arrival prior to the opening of the great Exhibition on 1st August. We formed a large and important party, including the Governor and lady, the Premier, Treasurer, and Attorney-General, while the Auditor-General and others were to follow a few days after. We understood there was to be a general concourse from all the surrounding colonies, and so far as regarded the official contribution to the concourse Tasmania had done its duty.
While we ran along this, the chief railway of Tasmania, I recalled something of the endless contentions between its proprietors or agents and the Tasmanian Government. The question requires some study, for the "literature" thereof has already swollen to most inconvenient dimensions. Any way of it, the Government would have done best for the colony if they had themselves built the line. As matters now stand, the company cannot be made to maintain the line in due efficiency, because, unfortunately, it has neither capital nor credit to do so. Nor can the amount needed for that purpose be permitted to be taken out of earnings, because that only increases the guaranteed interest properly payable on the bonded debt of the line by the Government. Nor can the Government keep back any of this latter amount, because the "innocent and helpless bond-holders," or the company as their advocate, are at once down upon them for such atrocity. Nor, lastly, can the colony buy up the line and thus be extricated from the mess, because the company utterly scouts the idea of a sale at mere valuation.
THE RIVER TAMAR.
Next day we were steaming down the Tamar, famous for its beauty as a narrow inlet of the sea from Launceston downwards, rather than properly a river. A small boat took us the first twelve miles, and we were then transferred to the larger vessel in which we were to cross the Straits. In the former we were rather crowded, for some twenty-five youths of Geelong were returning from a football contest with some Tasmanian young folks. They kept us lively with songs and recitations, in which the praises of Geelong were dutifully mingled. I was delighted to see the small Geelong of my early memory turning out in such strength; and recalling in a parental way this said small past of the place, I might have maundered in the "bless you, my children," sort of vein, had I not been kept in check by the frolicsome humour of the boys.
PORT PHILLIP HARBOUR.
Two disappointments awaited me on entering the Heads of Port Phillip: first, it was early morn, just before daybreak, and next, when the day did develop upon us half-way up the Bay, it was in such mist and rain as all but deprived us of any view. But the mist and cloud lifted somewhat as we approached Hobson's Bay, and thence I was rushed into the multitudinous shipping of Williamstown and Port Melbourne, the great harbour works going on all around, the New Cut, the crowded wharves, and all the other marvels of modern Melbourne.
Here apartments had been provided for us at Scott's Hotel, as Menzies', in its near neighbourhood, the more usual place for families, was quite full with Exhibition visitors. But although our hotel had the noise of ceaseless business below, we on the floor above were so quiet, with the best of attendance and cooking, and with every other comfort, that we are, by choice, to return to it after visiting the other colonies. Here, then, we opened our campaign amongst old scenes and old friends, separated for more than a generation. I had to ascertain who were dead and who still alive. A glance over the city soon revealed to me that one old friend—the oldest, I might say, upon the ground—had entirely passed away, and that was the old Melbourne itself which I had left behind me more than thirty-one years before. But happily the old street names remained, and thus I began to feel again at home.
OLD COLONIST HONOURS.
Labours and honours opened at once. The day of my arrival I was to be the guest of the Melbourne Chamber of Commerce for the honour of a dinner to their first President. My friend Mr. Cowderoy, the secretary, had telegraphed me to Hobart, in the hope that I might arrive in time to secure the dinner taking place prior to the Exhibition opening, with all its proposed engrossing after festivities. Mr. Robert Reid, whose acquaintance I had made at the grand Colonial Exhibition two years before, was now President of the Chamber, and received me most cordially. For the following day again there was the opening of the Exhibition, at which I was to march in the procession through the Avenue of Nations alongside of Mr. Francis Henty, now the sole survivor of the illustrious brotherhood who founded Victoria fifty-four years before.
So far from anticipating such honours, I had been preparing myself to plead, on any public occasion that might offer, the cause of the early pioneers; for although, as I proposed to put it, we were but the babes, and have since been succeeded by the men, we were surely to count for something, as without the baby there could never have been the man. But all fears on that head were promptly dispersed, and at every turn honours were poured out upon the "old pioneers" of the days of small things. I had repeatedly to confess, for myself as one of them, that it was a most pleasant and fortunate ACCIDENT to have been an early colonist.
But one disadvantage of these honours and attentions is that they are apt to excite the envy of your fellow-mortals. Human nature, even the very best, can never be perfect. My old friend James Stewart Johnston challenged my right to appear in the grand procession, where he and a good half-dozen other "old colonists" had equal rights. I replied soothingly, regretting that so glorious a band of early warriors, who had borne nobly all the rough battle of early progress (how eloquent people can be in their own praise!) should not have been super-added to honour and adorn the procession. But this not satisfying him, I was driven to bay, and fired my reserved shot, to the effect that I was the only old colonist who had come twelve thousand miles on purpose to attend the opening. That shut him up.
A busy time of public entertainments followed, during the intervals of which I visited energetically persons and places of old association. The Melbourne suburbs were quite as surprising as the city itself. Almost countless miles of streets had taken the place of the country roads or mere bush tracks of my recollection. While I stood wondering at these changes, I had to regret that the old features had so completely disappeared that I was at home nowhere, save that in an otherwise entirely unrecognizable area there would still appear the old name, such as the Sydney, the Richmond, or the Toorak Road. I had to be content with this scant remnant of the past, and to begin acquaintance with an entirely new set of occupant streets and dwellings.
OLD FRIENDS AND OLD TIMES.
Then I turned to the old and early friends of the past. Some of them kindly called; others, less able, I had myself to seek out. Thus I met, besides Mr. J.S. Johnston, already mentioned, Mr. J.A. Marsden, Mr. Alfred Woolley, Mr. E.B. Wight, Mr. Damyon, Mr. Brahe, Mr. John Barker, Mr. R.W. Shadforth, the Messrs. Ham, and Dr. Black. Mr. Germain Nicholson, another old and worthy friend, was in Sydney, where he called for us, but we have not yet met. I found time to reach Sir William Stawell at his pleasant suburban residence at Kew, and was most agreeably disappointed to find the veteran head of the law very much more like his former self than report had accredited him. Another old friend, Sir Francis Murphy, I have as yet failed to meet, and also Mr. David Moore. Mr. Francis Henty drove us to the St. Kilda-road to pay our respects to Mrs. Edward Henty, who pleasantly surprised us with as yet hardly the marks of age, and as though fully intending to see at least one generation more of the progress of the great colony which her departed husband had founded. Mrs. D.C. McArthur was still residing at Heidelberg along with her nieces, Miss Wright and Mrs. Were, the widow of my late old and intimate friend, Mr. J.B. Were. I saluted the former as the venerable mother of Melbourne society, and being thus one of her sons I claimed and exacted the full salutation of sonship. I claimed the same privilege from my other dear old friend, Mrs. A.M. McCrae, whom I found hardly changed, in vigour of mind at least, although now eighty-five years of age. Almost next door was Mrs. Henry Creswick, daughter of my old friend Dr. Thomson, of Geelong, of whom, as one of the very earliest, and only a few months behind Batman himself, I have already spoken. We enjoyed a chat over the very oldest Victorian times.
THE BENEVOLENT ASYLUM.
I had one opportunity of taking "old friends and fellow-colonists" in a wholesale fashion. The committee of the Benevolent Asylum complimented me by so pressing an invitation to visit an institution which I remembered and was interested in from its first commencement, that it was imperative on me to find the time to do so. The spectacle was alike most edifying and most interesting. The institution had enormously extended since my time, both in its accommodation and the number of its inmates. There were nearly 700 men and women, all of them helpless and destitute, and nearly all passed into old age. Some who were paralyzed in their lower limbs, and unable to move about, were put out in a sheltered place in the sunshine, to busy themselves in various ways of their own choosing, and we particularly noted two rather pretty young women, whose lively expression of face indicated no lack of happiness, and whose neat and nimble fingers turned out quantities of daily work. There was a considerable section of the blind, who were systematically treated, and had a library of their own. In one of the rooms were two dying men, one already past consciousness, the other still observant and even lively, but not expected to survive the night. Amongst so many and such aged people this sight was too familiar to greatly disturb the others. One of these was understood to be related to an English nobleman, and had passed through much adversity of colonial life. His face was still singularly indicative of the gentleman. Such cases are by no means rare in Australian experience.
Our inspection was completed by a view of the kitchen and larder, and the interesting spectacle of about 300 of the men engaged together under one roof at dinner, every one of whom revelled in solid beef to his heart's content. Included in their number were twelve Chinamen, who seemed as comfortably at home as any of the others, and whose presence, perhaps, helped to impress a Chinese Commissioner, who had lately visited the Asylum, and who had left his record in the visitors' book to the effect that such an institution was an honour to mankind.
THE OLD MELBOURNE CEMETERY.
The old Flagstaff Hill and the old cemetery were two objects which I sought for on the earliest opportunity, and as the business day-time was so full of work, I took the early morning. The Flagstaff Hill I had soon to give up as quite unrecognizable under new plantations and roadways, but the cemetery, in its close vicinity, was much as I had left it, and there the old friends, albeit voiceless now, cropped up at every turn. Let me select a few, commenting as I go along, and beginning with the earliest in date.
A series of the well-known early family of the Langhornes, some of whose members I often met. Let me begin with "The wife of William Langhorne," who died in this far back year, and end with Alfred, who used to amuse us all with interminable stories, who had a strikingly beautiful wife, and who died in 1874.
"The beloved wife of Joseph Raleigh, aged 32 years," whose funeral I attended, to be witness to the profound grief of the husband thus prematurely bereft of a wife who was, as I recollect, a rarely fine woman. Even Carlyle's indifference to "tombstone literature" might tolerate these lines, recorded on her monument, both for their own high quality, and as the eloquent expression of the heart of the bereaved husband:—
"Thou art gone to the grave, but we will not deplore thee, For God was thy ransom, thy guardian and guide; He gave thee, He took thee, and He will restore thee, And death hath no sting, for the Saviour hath died."
"Allan K. Renny, of Dundee, Scotland, aged 24." A remarkably fine young man, who died thus early, to the grief of all his friends. He was one of the staff of the Union Bank of Australia. Although the favourite of everyone, he retained his unaffected simplicity of manner and character to the last. He died of consumption, in the house of Mr. Cassell, who had invited him there when he took ill, in order that he might be better attended to. Cassell, James Gill, Alfred Ross, and myself took the last night of the dying lad in relays of three or four hours each; and when the last breath passed from the fine young face, Mrs. Cassell, who stood by with the rest of us, and who had nursed him with the fondest mother's care, broke out into loud sobs of irrepressible grief. We decided upon a broken column as his monument—fit emblem of the life so early broken—and we settled his brief, simple epitaph, which Mr. Cassell drew up:—"Erected by his friends in this colony in testimony of esteem and regard."
"Edmund Charles Hobson, M.D., born 1814, died in his 34th year." The monument, erected by public subscription, commemorates also two sons and one daughter—all the family save one thus early carried off, for, alas! the father, although of large and well-filled mind, was a man of poor health and feeble physique. Mrs. Hobson, our old friend, still survives, but is at present in England. I have already alluded to the Doctor and his high qualities.
"James Jackson, of Toorak, who died at sea, aged 47." This was Melbourne's greatest merchant of his early time, although he died at so early an age. His house at Toorak, or rather the second house which he, with his enlarging fortune, built there, but which he did not live to enjoy, was long the finest of the place, and served for some years as the Governor's residence. It supplies a striking illustration of the sudden needs of the advancing colony after its golden era. A prominent Melbourne trader had leased it at 300 pounds a year, but in the mid-term of the lease, a demand suddenly arising in 1854 for a Government House for Sir Charles Hotham, Toorak was sublet at 10,000 pounds a year. I recall the early, happy, Toorak home, where personal beauty in mother and young children lost its edge by being so common. The remaining family are now all in the old country. Mrs. Jackson still lives, the honoured head of a surrounding of descendants, which, to me at least, have been long past counting.
"Isabella, widow of James Williamson, solicitor, Edinburgh, aged 70." This is the lady of whom I have already spoken, who gave up six fair daughters to the young settlement in its direst need, and who in turn have given to it multiplied sons and daughters.
"Edward Curr, aged 52. In your charity, pray for the soul of Edward Curr, of St. Heliers."
This is my old friend, the "Father of Separation" (from New South Wales), with whom I marched for years towards attaining that object. He was a proud man, who, with his vigour of mind and body, grasped his world with a firm hand, and was not, perhaps, of the humour to ask the help or prayers of anyone. But his church, by enjoining the above formula over its dead, had its own way of humbling even the proudest, whether the great or the small, the prince or the peasant. I was surprised to find that one who held so commanding a position in our young community should have been, at death, only 52.
He took the chief charge of the separation movement, if, indeed, it did not originate with him; but, sad to say, he died, at this too early age, just the year before the great object of his later life had been attained. In considering this question practically as a merchant, my view of the determining principle as to the mutual boundary line was that the natural tendency of the trading, whether it took the Sydney or the Melbourne direction, should decide. Thus the hoofs of the bullocks, whether they indicated the northerly or the southerly direction, would decide the contentious question. When I mentioned this point to Curr, who, curiously enough, had wholly omitted it from a very long list of "my reasons for separation," he saw at once its importance, and, in incorporating it in his list, remarked that it was worth all the rest put together. Whenever we sat together afterwards at a separation meeting, he would pass me the joke about the "hoofs of the bullocks" deciding the boundary. Sir John Robertson has since told us that Melbourne missed its destiny in this fatal separation movement, for, had she remained within New South Wales, she would have been the capital of Eastern Australia. Well, that slap in the face to us is not altogether uncleverly or unfoundedly directed. The eventuality thus predicted for us might, indeed, have happened. And we, too, might have hesitated in our divisive course if we could but have foreseen two things: first, that the very next year Victoria should produce as much as fifteen millions of gold, and for some twenty years after between six and twelve millions yearly; and second, that our mother, Sydney, who had completely the whip-hand over us at the time, would have permitted us to use all our great resources in order to place ourselves, at her expense, the first in the race.
"The Honourable James Horatio Nelson Cassell, H.M. Commissioner of Customs, Member of the Executive Council of Victoria, born 1814. 39 years of age." I have already had to mention repeatedly one of my very best and most intimate friends. He died in November, 1853, while I was upon a Home visit. He left a message for me that he looked forward to resuming our most pleasant friendship in Heaven. What a reality of voice has this hope when it comes thus from the brink of the grave! What a strength of resistance to that tendency of modern science, which, as interpreted by some even of its greatest chiefs, is to abolish the hope of the life beyond the grave, and to class us all with "the beasts that perish."
THE MELBOURNE RACES.
Those who delight in contrasts may follow me now to the Melbourne Races. Although not, in any sense or degree, "a racing man," I could not forego this spectacle, so illustrative of the socialities and general progress of the colonists. This was a considerable occasion, as there were about 70,000 present; but it was not the grand "Cup Day," an occasion which can muster 150,000. The grand stand here seemed to me, from my recollection, equal to Epsom and Ascot together. The racing was in admirable style, the horses generally taking hurdles and steeples without visible hitch in their pace. I used to have a racing theory which was confirmed here—namely, that the horse should never be allowed ahead, or at least for more than a yard or two, till close on the finish, because he thus loses the highest of the excitement, and is more amenable to fatigue. In one splendid race, of a dozen or more, on this occasion, one man, who came in far ahead at the first round, I predicted was to lose the race; and so it proved, for at the second and final round he came in only sixth or seventh.
THE HONOUR OF THE RAILWAY FREE PASS.
Sixteen days of Melbourne life had pleasantly glided away, and we must needs be off, because we had the rest of Australasia to see, and a very brief term for accomplishing so great a business. Honours had been heaped upon us. How we are to take it when we tumble once more to the common level at Home I hardly know or like to think about. One of the most gratifying of these honours was the railway free pass, which Tasmania first sent us, followed by Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, and Queensland. Later on I was accorded, through Mr. Labertouche's kind agency, the golden key or pass over the Victorian lines for life, which I was assured was my due as one of the original members of the first Victorian Parliament. From my old friend of nearly forty years standing, Sir Henry Parkes, I had a courteous note to the effect that our railway comfort should be looked after so soon as we crossed the frontier. The honour of these things is, by infinity, greater than the mere saving of money. This is to be literally the case, for our daughter is already counting up these savings, with the intention of claiming them for kangaroo and opossum cloaks and rugs.
We took the day train to Albury instead of the through night mail, so as to see Victoria, and have a few hours to spare to see Albury and its great wine business. We paid our respects to the Mayor of Albury, Mr. Mate, who, with Mr. Thompson, his son-in-law, showed us much attention; and we also inspected Mr. Fallon's great wine vaults, and tasted some excellent wine, including the pale, delicate tokay. Albury, with its population of 8,000, reminded me of Melbourne about 1845. There was an air of comfort and prosperity all about, and a leisurely way of it, which contrasted pleasantly with the hurry and bustle of larger places.
THE BRACING COLD ONCE MORE.
Transferring ourselves now to the night mail, and awaking with the broad daylight of a sunny morning between Yass and Goulburn, we looked out upon a country all white with hoar frost, while our carriage windows had an inside coating of ice. This recalled an inspiring discussion at the Chamber of Commerce dinner a fortnight before, on my introducing the question of the snow and the highest civilization it symbolized. I had said that Victoria as well as Tasmania presented the significant snow. Mr. Service, the leader of the federation movement, alike intercolonial and imperial, corrected me by substituting Australian for Victorian snow. But Mr. Macdonald Patterson, of Queensland, extended the snow line well over even northern New South Wales, as he told us of a heavy snowstorm he had encountered when travelling south from Brisbane, and which lay so thickly upon the ground as to tempt the passengers to a vigorous snowballing, which latterly concentrated upon the railway guard for his grudging attempt to end the sport by ringing his signal bell. But this snow and cold, however favourable to ultimate civilization, were by no means a pleasure just at the moment, and I had to put on the very warmest clothing I ever heaped upon me in an English or Scotch winter. Nor did I escape a severe cold withal, which is only now disappearing under the genial influence of the balmy air of Queensland, which, now as I write, comes to us off the land towards the end of our voyage from Sydney to Brisbane (19th-21st August). We are just passing the South Queensland boundary of 30 degrees latitude, and as a few more hours will land us amidst troops of new friends at Brisbane, I expedite my work, fearing that, as at Melbourne, our brief space of time will be otherwise occupied.
MELBOURNE AND SYDNEY.
Having just seen Sydney as well as Melbourne, I feel bound to give my impressions of both, which will, I think, be best and most briefly done in the form of a comparative sketch. I must premise with the remark that the great extent of both cities, the great and solid basis of trade on which they appear to rest, and above all the quick and ready step with which they apply to practical purposes the progress, mechanical or scientific, of our age, are beyond anything I had expected to meet with, well prepared as I had previously been upon the subject. Thus the electric light, electric bells, and other electric uses, the telephone, and the lift system, all seem to me in more general use than in London and our larger Home cities. The lift, for instance, is, as the rule, in every bank or other large institution for the use of the staff or customers or visitors. It is certainly as yet the rare exception in such cases in London.
THE SYDNEY PRESS.
In Sydney I was first met by my old and esteemed friend the Honourable George Alfred Lloyd, who, besides many other attentions, took me to Sir Henry Parkes, with whom I enjoyed some interesting political and financial conversation. I afterwards met the Honourable Mr. Burns, the Treasurer, and discussed with him the prospects for consolidated Australasian three per cents—a prospect which, as he said, he feared might be still far off; owing to the perverse fancy of the other colonies to enter upon special protective systems of their own, which, after being established, they, or the interests protected, might not be disposed to give up even for the sake of a federated Australasia; next we called for one of our fellow-passengers per "Coptic", Mr. Sidman, at the grand offices of the "Evening News" and the "Town and Country Journal", for one or other of which he had been editorially engaged. This happily led to our introduction to the proprietor, Mr. Bennett, and to our being shown the wonders of the Press of our Southern Empire. And, here, again, I had to notice that all the latest steps of progress are taken up so promptly and so thoroughly. The time of our visit was between one and two o'clock, and the work of throwing off the "Evening News" of that day had begun. The machines, we were told, embodied the very latest improvements, and when we alluded to that of "The Argus", just then being fitted up, with every latest appliance, at the Melbourne Exhibition, Mr. Bennett assured us that the machinery before us comprised them all. We saw first the stereotyping process, by which copies of the one type-setting of the paper can be multiplied indefinitely. Then three machines were set in action, delivering 10,000 copies each per hour. A fourth machine was added shortly after, which delivered somewhat more; and this latter appeared to us the exact counterpart of "The Argus" machine, as already seen by us in London.
I recall a joke of many years back when mechanical contrivance was attracting much general attention, and arousing great hopes, to the effect that a sheep would some day enter the machine of the future at one end, and be delivered at the other as ready cooked food and broad cloth. What we saw was not a whit less wonderful. The great roll of paper unrolled itself into one end of the machine, and, even more quickly than one could walk the half-dozen yards of distance, it emerged in separate papers, dropped, as I said, at ten to twelve thousand an hour, printed, folded, cut, and numbered to the dispersing hand which received them. The circulation of the "Evening News" is 60,000 daily. That of "The Age", as I learnt on arrival at Melbourne, has now advanced in its inspiring career to 76,000. These are the papers of greatest circulation in the Southern Hemisphere. Such is already the Press of the infant Hercules of Australasia.
Another stirring sight next greeted our eyes ere we quitted the "Evening News" office, namely, the crowd of eager little newsboys waiting for their trade stock. Pressing to the small open window, where their tiny sums were paid to the cashier, they received their check, and forthwith proceeded to the fountains which were dropping out their supplies at the rate of four copies per second, all ready for delivery. They received twelve of the penny papers for ninepence. These poor little fellows would begin, perhaps, with ninepence as all their capital. They get their dozen papers, and, if smart, sell them possibly in not many more minutes. Then they are back with their increased capital, and so by quick degrees they get to be quite large dealers. We saw one little fellow, already a great capitalist in his way, with a load of papers which one would have thought he could hardly carry, but which, nevertheless, he managed with well-practised adroitness.
COMPARISON OF THE TWO CAPITALS.
If comparisons are proverbially odious, they must be specially so if drawn out upon insufficient data. I must not, therefore, on such a flying inspection, go very deeply into my comparative analysis. And yet, under all the circumstances, the subject is one for which I feel not altogether incompetent. To begin with, I had not, perhaps, sufficient time in failing to note any material difference of physique due to the difference of latitude, Melbourne having the cooler temperature by 4 to 5 degrees of Fahrenheit. Tasmania and Southern New Zealand give notably the ruddy plumpness of the English face. Conversing with a young friend, who was interested in football, he remarked that latitude is important in a game which was mainly one of muscular strength. Thus, speaking generally, Hobart will beat Melbourne, Melbourne Sydney, and Sydney Brisbane. "But what as to New Zealand?" I said. "New Zealand," he replied, "will square with England, and the Southern Island may beat her."
The tide of general business in either city seemed to me equal, but the streets and the public and business buildings of Sydney were scarcely equal, either in number or style, to those of Melbourne, at least if the great edifices and other works of the latter, either just being finished or in progress of erection, be considered. The Melbourne Harbour is conspicuously one of these, and will surpass alike that of Sydney and those of most of the rest of the world. On the other hand, however, the grand natural harbourage of Port Jackson, not to dwell upon its surpassing scenic beauty, gives to Sydney a most decided economic advantage for all time.
Melbourne has two obvious superiorities—first in the systematic laying out of the streets, and second in the more conveniently level site. Thus no Sydney street can compare with Collins-street, where even the moderate rise of the eastern and western hills still adds to the commanding effect of the whole line. The Melbourne street tram system is also greatly superior to that of Sydney, and seems, indeed, to have attained to all that is possible in that direction. In point of population, Melbourne continues ahead, having, with the suburbs, about 400,000, while Sydney has about 350,000. On the other hand, New South Wales has rather the advantage over Victoria in the total population, as well as in the amount of external commerce, having lately, in these respects, overtaken her younger sister, after the latter had clean distanced her senior for a whole generation by help of the surpassing gold production. The populations are now about 1,050,000 respectively.
THE RIVAL RACE.
In estimating the future of these two great colonies and their respective capitals, I will endeavour to mark some distinctive considerations. Unquestionably the climatic difference, although it may not be serious, is in favour of Victoria, for the English race of both colonies and for English industries. Then, again, we have this ever-recurring Australian drought, from which Victoria does not indeed always or altogether escape, but to which, with her cooler sea-girt shores, she is certainly less liable than her sister colonies, including New South Wales. Even now, as I sail along the northern shores of the latter and along Southern Queensland, the severe drought which has prevailed for the past six months is indicated by the ascending smoke of bush fires in every direction, while Victoria, as I left it, was in universal green from the sufficiency of rain. Lastly, there is the disputable question as to how the much wider area of New South Wales than Victoria bears upon the question. Is that a help to her or a drag? With the present scant population to either, the advantage seems to me with Victoria, compact as she is, and full of fertile land. Fifty years hence, when the population of each has passed from one million to ten millions, and when a system of irrigation has fertilized the large proportion of now sterile areas of the larger colony, the latter will assert her precedence and, perhaps, easily pass her rival. But for the present she is rather handicapped than otherwise by her distances. Granting that she has throughout as many rich acres as Victoria, still she is, for the time being, under the disadvantage of having to draw her resources from greater distances—from an average, say, of more than 300 miles to Victoria's 100.
Against this collective relative handicapping in her race, New South Wales has happily still to oppose her good fortune in having adhered as yet to the impartial freedom of exchange for the labour products of all her workers, while Victoria has restricted that freedom, and has, consequently, by so much, reduced that product, by her protective enactments. Let me try to estimate this most important matter. Victoria has seen fit to protect certain interests, agricultural and manufacturing, at the expense of the whole of her public. Happily for her the agricultural protection is probably almost, if not indeed altogether, inoperative, as the climate and the soil of the country, and the vigour of her people, give to her, independently, the natural lead in agricultural products. But the manufacturing protection is confessedly effective, so that the manufactures would not be forthcoming without the extra price of protection. Let us average this protection at 25 per cent, and let us further suppose that one-fifth of all the people's requirements are thus extra-charged. This means that the Victorian public are made to pay in the proportion of 125 pounds for a class of their daily requisites which the New South Wales public, by virtue of their freedom of exchange for all the products of their labour, can secure for 100 pounds; and that this very considerably enhanced cost affects as much as the one-fifth part of all those requisites. Victoria, and the vigorous life which peoples her, will in any case ever present a spectacle of surprising progress. But if she is mated in a race in which, while the two rivals are otherwise equal, she is thus restricted in labour output by protection, while the other keeps herself free, she is as surely to be beaten in that race as if, on her grand Flemington racecourse, she were the seriously handicapped horse of a noble pair admitted to be otherwise equal.
BRISBANE, 22ND AUGUST.
My publisher affords me just time to record my arrival yesterday, at the capital of the youthful but already great Queensland, and to give some opinions of the place after a glance, which is, however, of necessity so cursory.
Brisbane is to me not less astonishing than either Sydney or Melbourne. From the adjacent heights of Mount Coot-tha, I looked over several square miles, mostly of thickly compacted streets and dwellings, comprising a town and connected suburbs of 75,000 busy people. While the suburban houses are chiefly of wood, the town proper already, in some respects, fairly rivals its senior sisters of the South. Thus Queen-street, in its general architectural aspect, and in the tide of business life which it presents, is but little short of the chief streets of these other cities; while the structures of two of the Queensland Banks, the Queensland National and the London Chartered of Australia, together with those of the Australian Mutual Provident Society and of the stores of Messrs. D.L. Brown and Co., Messrs. Stewart and Hemmant, and Messrs. Scott, Dawson and Stewart, seemed to me quite equal to anything of the kind, respectively, which I had met with since my arrival. Indeed, I am prepared to congratulate my friend, Mr. Drury, at the head of the former of these banks, upon an edifice which, in graces of structure, as well as in mere dimensions, seems to me to surpass all rivalry.
The Bank of England—the highly conservative "old lady of Threadneedle-street"—on the recent occasion of negotiating yet one more large Queensland loan, broadly hinted to her go-ahead client that her borrowing must, for a time at least, be more restricted. I do not deny the wisdom of this advice, for truly all Australasian borrowing has been utterly outside of all principle and precedent. But while the Home public is preoccupied with these colonies' great debts, my visit here has diverted the leading idea rather to the solid and expansive basis of trade and prosperity which I see around me. I have not yet seen South Australia or New Zealand, but, from what already reaches my ears, I have no reason to expect that my account of either colony is to differ materially, if at all, from that of the others. The ready facility to incur debt on behalf of colonial progress is due, as it seems to me, rather to consciousness of strength than to indifference about financial obligation. Each colony will "pay" with equal certainty and promptitude, although a New South Wales or a Victoria may do so with less strain than their sisters.