There are many spacious and even grand mansions of stone and stucco, in the English prison-like style of building--lofty, "castellated," with towers and narrow windows; hundreds of cottages, with brick walls nearly two feet thick; large stores, handsome houses, and temporary habitations of corrugated zinc, iron, wood, and canvas. It is as if some great torrent of human life were pouring and scattering its debris over the plains, and wide, open valleys.|
There is a public botanic garden over the bridge. I wish New-York could boast one like it. Here may be seen specimens of the strange vegetation of New-Holland, whose prevailing expression is that of antiquity, and dark, solemn beauty. In the centre is a large marshy lagoon, filled with wild fowl; at one side, in a separate enclosure, are some black swans--such are often sold in the streets.
The gum tree, which constitutes the forest near Melbourne, has leaves like the willow, and is very grand at a distance and very ugly at hand. The forest is all open, and in the dry season they travel by compass to and from Sydney.
I heard the country on roads to the diggings described as resembling the Boston Common. The appearance at a distance is that of a grand park with clouds of verdure: near by, the trees look like half-decayed, crooked, sickly sycamores. Besides the gum tree are others, of whose wildness and dreariness I can give you no idea.
The country inland is much of it open, grassy plains, hundreds of miles in extent, sometimes sparsely grown with this park like forest. On the mountains, and in particular places, the woods are thicker, and the trees larger and more various; but none of them afford wood for building.
Firewood, even in Melbourne, costs three to five pounds for little conical loads of perhaps two cord feet. This is owing mostly to the state of the roads, which are almost impassable in Winter on account of the mud. Twenty yoke of oxen, or bullocks as they are called, are often seen in a single team, drawing one cart.
Let all who come to Melbourne bring, for their own use, nothing but what they need to wear. Let miners bring only a few pounds weight. Luggage can only be stored here at two York shillings a week per package, and is of no use. The hotels will not receive it without an extra charge--cannot receive it at all in most cases. A small carpet bag, or valise, was all that was of any service to me during my nine week's visit. Clothing can hardly be given away.
COLT'S pistols, and all sorts of Yankee notions, only so many drugs in the market. I could think of nothing in the way of manufactured articles but some of those conveniences peculiar to Yankee land, such as cheap cook-stoves and the like, which would sell at high profits. American cheap literature would sell well--there is no duty.
Of course the town is alive with excitement. The arrivals, the markets, the gold, the speculations, the losses and gains, are the staples of conversation. A new comer is called a "new chum;" these are looked down upon as so many pigeons flying into a net. They arrive, push for the mines--the nearest may be reached in three days--remain there long enough to see the kangaroo, a week or two more or less; some that I knew only staid two days, (one was satisfied with the first five miles out of town)--and then they came down again to work on the roads, or at trades, or doing odd jobs to keep from starving.
Those who have means and can get places often succeed. They become old chums in a few weeks, and are ready to initiate the ever-coming new; so that the whole population is in a state of perpetual effervescence. It is impossible to cure the gold fever in most cases, till it has passed its crisis.
But with all this the town is well governed. There are no street outages, no lawlessness, no lynching. Gaming is not heard of. About one house in every ten or twelve is a bar-room, but they pay heavy licenses, and drunkenness is fined without mercy.
Every evening the streets are almost deserted by 10 o'clock, and Sunday is observed as strictly as in any of our cities. The churches are fully attended; the public houses closed except for an hour between services, and people take the air in their Sunday suits. All is as it is at home, and the noise of ordinary days makes the quiet more remarkable.
There are two principal journals, the Argus and the Herald. The former has the more advertising. It is understood to be radical, and favor the views of those who would hurry the colony into separation from the mother country. The Herald has the Government advertising, and aims at Conservatism, without, however, being true to itself.
These papers are conducted in a grave, inflated tone that is quite amusing. As business journals, they are slow, if not sure. They are very well arranged, and very heavy and wordy--discussing local affairs like voices speaking out of empty barrels.
They have great difficulty procuring paper to supply their demand. Their extra advertising sheets often appeared on red and yellow. The Argus press is an old-fashioned rotary cylinder, which makes not less than four revolutions per minute!
I supplied the Argus with a full file of all our papers of the date of my departure, out of which it extracted one item of ship-news three days after. Several circumstances almost convinced me that there was intentional withholding and misrepresentations of American intelligence.
THOMAS WARNER, late of torpedo celebrity in New-York, is an assistant on the Argus.
The portion of the Melbourne population comprising the ex-convicts, or "lags," is unlike any we have in the United States out of the State prisons, and can produce worse looking faces than any often to be seen even in them. It is numerous and mixed with the rest, so that one cannot always distinguish those who, as the phrase is, "emigrated at Government expense," by their looks...
The American merchants in Melbourne are mostly younger branches of well known and respectable houses at home...
A gentleman of literary tastes, a passenger on our ship, has occupied his time on the voyage in writing an extended sketch of Melbourne, which has been read with approbations in the cabin, and which he intends for the amusement of our American public next Spring... I am permitted to give you a few extracts...:
STREET VIEW IN MELBOURNE.
Collins-street, as I passed down it first morning, was as thronged as Broadway. I stopped on the Elizabeth-street corner and took an observation.
Long teams of as many as twenty yoke of bullocks to each were drawing single wagons up and down, giving one a not too favorable impression with regard to the state of the roads out of town. Rough horses, the roughest and shabbiest that ever were seen, were cantering to and fro, ridden by men with long boots stuck far into short stirrups, and who seemed to urge their forlorn beasts along by jumping in their saddles and elevating their elbows.
Heavy chain-carts and dog-carts, horse-killing vehicles, unknown in the United States, ponies with errand-boys, and dray-carts with veteran hacks in the last stages of decline, filled up the middle of the street. Upon the sidewalks was a motley throng, all with busy faces and speculation in their eyes--a few clean and well-dressed in the English fashion--Melbourne exquisites--the major part a mixture of jockey and farmer, with long boots or garters, and loaded whips; merchants with eager, calculating looks... Parsees, and Chinese, sportsmen, convicts, or those on whose tell-tale countenances "jailbird" was clearly written, (of these there was no lack;) a few well-dressed ladies, in long skirts draggled with mud; servant girls and such; policemen, in blue uniform; escorts, in blue uniform with white facings; now and then a soldier; and so on down to the unshorn, unwashed, almost undressed rabble, whether composed of disappointed diggers, or what, I know not; but exhibiting some of the lowest and dirtiest specimens I ever saw in my life.
There was, at least so I fancied, a headstrong, reckless energy of movement in everything; I seemed to feel as if a great stream of life were dashing by in a torrent--loud, violent, impetuous, uncontrollable...
THE YARRA YARRA.
The Yarra Yarra is a narrow, muddy, winding stream, which comes from somewhere eastward, and, with its adjacent bottoms, occupies a large space in the map of Melbourne, partly on account of its being dammed below the bridge in order to afford the town a supply of fresh water. The name Yarra Yarra is said to be in the native language "flowing, flowing;" and the river is so named because it does not dry up in Summer, like most Australian streams.
It is navigable for vessels drawing ten feet of water up to the dam, though for much of the way it is hardly more than sufficiently wide for two vessels to pass abreast. The tide rises up to the foot of the dam, over which there is a fall of about four feet, designed to keep the fresh water of the river, (which is as much discolored as that of the Ohio in its high stages,) from the salt water of the bay.
But I observed that the water is pumped out, to be carried about the town, at the foot of Elizabeth-street, a little above the dam. The whole sewerage of the river-slope of the broad streets of the upper part of the city therefore flows towards the Yarra Yarra, though it may be partly diverted by a cross sewer; and I heard of extensive sheep-washing establishments further up, towards Richmond. At all events, just above the bridge there were always grooms riding in horses to wash, and the gutters of Swanton and Elizabeth-streets, flowing towards the river, were not by any means the cleanest gutters in the world; it was rare to walk that way of a morning without seeing several dogs in various stages of decomposition, and generally as many more just alive, suffering from a singular distemper, then prevalent in the town, as mortal to dogs as the plague to men.
Often, when disposed to quaff a draught of the "flowing, flowing," have I "mentally ejaculated," as LAURA MATILDA would write, "Heaven preserve my stomach from the bracs of Yarra."
THE FIRST NIGHT IN MELBOURNE.
At the hotel we kept it up as well as we could till near 11, and then were shown, in a body, to our sleeping apartment--the concert or dancing hall of the house. Here we bestowed ourselves, forty or fifty of us, as it happened, some on settees, some on the table, some on "stretchers," or frail small cots, and others on the floor.
I thought myself "cute" in appropriating and defending my claim to a stretcher. Alas! it was a foot too short; and worst of all, I had hardly got into a sound sleep, after the general row, sleepy wit, groans, wise remarks, and all that, had subsided, when down came the head of my stretcher, and I was obliged to tack ship to avoid congestion of the brain.
I did not seem to have slept at all when I awoke, a little after daylight, and started, with a few others, to go over to Canvastown and visit our mining friends who were encamped there. I think I was never so completely fagged out in my life. The morning was fine, but I could just drag my limbs to the nearest tent and throw myself upon some bedding, when I slept at once, a heavy, leaden sleep, from which I woke up some time in the forenoon, a little less fatigued, but unrefreshed.
I adjourned to a large tent, on which was painted, European Boarding and Lodging House. It was divided into two compartments, one for eating, the other for sleeping. I got some "tea," (gunpowder, by the taste,) and among some old books, in a corner, found, strange to say, the remnant of a Virgil, with which and the "tea" (horresco referens!) I amused myself until dinner time--the first two hours of actual repose I had experienced since leaving the ship.
After it, I garnered courage to go over to the city, in ending, to return to lodge at night. Perhaps it was well I did not, for the next neighbor on the contiguous row of beds to one of my fellow-passengers died during the night...
In the Black Forest, which lies among the spurs of Mount Macedon, fifty miles to the northwest, about halfway to the Mount Alexander diggings, the growth is closer, and there is more variety in the woods; but even here the growth is not so dense as in the forests of our Northern and Middle States. On the heavily-timbered mountain ranges, also, the gum trees grow straighter and larger--sometimes averaging more than a hundred feet under the branches; but the undergrowth is never thick. Besides the gum, there are box, ebony, Australian pines, she-oak, (as it is called,) and many more, all having in their growth and foliage the singular look of dreariness and antiquity peculiar to the southern portions of New-Holland...
But I am doing great injustice to the author's descriptions in quoting extracts, which ought to be read in connection...
Should we continue long at Callao, I will endeavor to let you hear from me again. Yours very truly,
G. W. P.
The Federal Reserve Bank's estimated consumer price index shows that $1 in 1853 was equivalent to $24.71 in 2007. The British pound was worth about $4.89 in 1853;, and, by retail price index, £1 in 1853 was equivalent to about £68.81 in 2006.
The New York Times, January 26, 1888:|
The ceremonies commemorating the settlement of Australia that have just begun at Sydney call to mind the fact that we are coming upon a group of hundredth anniversaries of events of exceptional importance in the world's history. The foundation of the American Union by the State ratifications of its new Constitution and the inauguration of its first President; the colonization of our great Northwest Territory under the ordinance of 1787; the storming of the Bastille, forerunner of the establishment of the first French Republic; the settlement by Europeans of that vast island whose three million square miles of area have raised it to the grade of a continent--these events all belong to the years 1788 and 1789.
But although Australia celebrates this week a round century of political existence her great growth is really the work of fewer than two score years. Indeed, the slowness of her early advance is striking. For, without taking account of the descrying of her coast line in the sixteenth century by Spanish and Portuguese sailors, a year before our Jamestown colony was founded, Torres sailed through the strait that bears his name and a Dutch craft touched at the north shore. The fate that so often caused the Dutch to sow that others might reap--their enterprising explorers discovering more new lands than the meagre home population could settle and hold--overtook them also in Australia. The successive discoveries of Hartog, Tasman, Nuyts, and others and the eagerness of Dutch traders availed nothing, and at length even the name New-Holland has vanished from the great continent almost as completely as New-Amsterdam before New-York.
It was not until after Cook's discovery in 1770 of the portion of the east coast which he called New South Wales that any organized effort was made to settle these vast dominions. And even in 1788 it was only a penal colony of 850 convicts that was taken out under guard to the bay named after the science to which the botanist of Cook's expedition was devoted in recognition of its abundant flora.
The Governor of this penal colony, finding a few miles north of Botany Bay the much better harbor of Port Jackson, established it there instead, and thus Sydney was founded; and now, with its present population of a quarter of a million and its manifold evidences of wealth and culture, this city does not scruple to pay centennial honors to its humble foundation by convicts.
The drag of this penal colony rested upon the new continent for half a century. In 1820 its European population, after thirty years of settlement, was only 30,000, mostly convicts or discharged convicts. Not until 1839, after many relays of those who had served out their terms had begun to constitute a numerous freed population, increased somewhat by voluntary immigrants, and after these people had grown restive under the arbitrary authority lodged almost of necessity in the Governor of a penal colony, was the transportation of sentenced criminals to New South Wales forbidden. Still, even then the growth was slow, many being reluctant to venture into a community built up on such a foundation.
In 1851 came the discovery of gold, and with it a grand transformation scene for Australia. Settlers poured in from all directions. By the end of that year the continent had a quarter of a million European population and the whole character of the community was changed. Victoria, with Melbourne for its capital, was set off that same year as a separate province, and Queensland in 1859.
By 1871 the population of Australia and Tasmania had reached more than a million and a half. Ten years later it had risen above two and a quarter millions. The population at the beginning of last year--1887--exclusive of aborigines, was close upon three millions, and, taking in New-Zealand, it reached 3,486,682.
Added to the sheep raising, which formerly constituted most of the importance of Australia, and is still of great prominence, has come a great variety of agriculture, with commerce and not a few manufactures.
The centennial celebration thus begun by Sydney will be continued later in the year by the world's fair held at Melbourne, a city which, with its environs, must now be well on toward a population of 400,000.