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HOUSES AND BUILDINGS.
which induces the borrowing of money, but the real value of it in active trade. Since the general crash throughout all the Australian colonies in 1843, the insolvencies in Port Phillip have been almost nominal.
Most of the above properties consisted of town houses, yielding a fixed income, as much to be relied on as any description of investment. The houses at first built were naturally of a temporary and cheap construction, but latterly these have been giving place to more substantial buildings. Several of the shops would adorn any English city, and many are let at what must appear, to all uninterested persons, enormous rents; but it appears that the holders are well able to pay them, no classes in the community seeming to be better off than the shopkeepers and the smaller merchants. The streets are now, generally speaking, well formed and in good order; presenting, in this respect, a marked contrast to their state some years since. The Gaol and Court House cost £30,000; the former an ill-constructed, gloomy building, which already requires enlargement. The Princes Bridge, across the Yarra, consisting of one arch 150 feet in span, is the most creditable
HOUSES AND BUILDINGS.
and beautiful structure in Melbourne: with the approaches to it, it has cost £15,000. Similar taste has not been displayed in the erection of Government Offices. The Churches, Hospitals, Theatre, and Mechanics' Institution, are large and extensive buildings, in which utility has been more studied than beauty. The wide macadamised streets, laid out in regular parallelograms, and presenting a view of an animated throng pursuing their avocations, cannot be said to form objects gratifying to the eye, which, in the irregular houses of all sizes, shapes, materials, and colours, looks in vain for those evidences of colonial refinement, to be found in a beautiful botanic garden on the Yarra, or in the private residence of the more wealthy residents.
The numerous churches of all denominations, and other institutions, prove not only the charity, but the generally diffused wealth of the place. In no part of the world is a more liberal generosity exercised. For example: when it became necessary to build a third Episcopalian church in Melbourne, estimated to cost £3,500, at a time when so many calls had been made upon the liberality of the public, that none hoped for success, a sum of £1,350 was subscribed in
CAUSE OF WEALTH.
one morning, eleven gentlemen having put down their names for £100 each.
But how is all this wealth created? Does it consist in a visionary hope of anticipated profits? Is it founded upon a false system of paper credit, as has been the case in America? Is this prodigious gain made from English capital rashly invested, of which keen-sighted men on the spot have taken advantage? Is it made from a large Government expenditure, such as has been witnessed in the Canadas, Van Diemen's Land, and South Australia? Is this town a hotbed of speculation, already overgrown, and far exceeding the wants of a country which cannot support it? Are these results attributable to systematic puffing, or to a powerful interest in England, anxious to force an early growth and sickly maturity? Or is it a solid and well-grounded prosperity, which we are now considering?
The growth of Port Phillip is attributable solely to the advantages with which nature has endowed her, by which, without any of the above stimulants, she has been enabled to lay a solid foundation for her wealth, and to outstrip all her contemporaries.
A naturally fine country, which in 1836 was unoccupied by civilized man, now contains about 60,000 inhabitants. This is but an approximation, the last official census being taken in 1846. By the official statistics it contained 16,500 horses; 380,000 head of cattle; 5,500 pigs; and 5,130,000 sheep, on the 1st January, 1849. This stock alone cannot be valued at less than £3,000,000 sterling.
In 1839, the first year of the export of wool, 1,524 bales were exported; and in 1850 it is calculated that the number will be 60,000, besides £100,000 worth of tallow. These facts, and the trade which is arising in other articles, the value of which is now attracting attention, point out the source of Australian wealth.
An export trade, amounting, according to the returns made by the Government, for 1847, to £668,511; and imports amounting, in the same year, to £437,696, being at the rate, as we shall hereafter prove, of exports £18. 10s., and of imports £11. 10s. per head for every man, woman, and child then in the district, are a sufficient evidence of the generally diffused wealth and trade, and account for much of the prosperity of the place.
If we assume five individuals as the average number of a family, we arrive at the amazing fact that each family produces exports to the value of £87. 10s., nearly all of which must be spent upon foreign luxuries and conveniencies, as all the necessaries of life are productions of the colony itself.
As an additional evidence of the rapid progress of this portion of New South Wales it may be added
That the General Revenue was in 1847, £68,350
1848, 86,027 1849, 104,718
That the Crown Revenue was in 1847, £65,000
A copious stream of immigration, accompanied in some measure by British capital, pouring