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possessing every variation of temperature, from the climate of England to that of the Tropics ; with a geographical position which points them out as the future seat of a vast empire, and the home of millions of our fellow-men speaking a common language; the progress of these colonies must be an object of interest to all who have at heart the greatness of England, the happiness of man, or the purposes of Providence for their ruling principle.
In the following observations reference shall chiefly be made to Port Phillip, the southern district of New South Wales ; partly because we believe it to possess the greatest natural capabilities, and therefore to be the most prosperous and important of those colonies ; but more especially because the writer of this paper has been for many years a resident there, and in New South Wales proper. Although, from intercourse with neighbouring colonists, pretty well acquainted with the circumstances of each district, he has not had the same opportunity of personal observation in any other. Whilst other authors in this country, who have never personally visited the scene of which they write, may innocently err in their statements, and may excuse their errors
upon the plea that they have been misled by others, he at once avows that if any statements relative to Port Phillip are found to be inaccurate, he is responsible for them.
Doubtless, in a comparatively small community, where changes are constantly occurring and the greatest variations in trade and in all descriptions of business prevail,—where, in former times, wages have been at all rates between £15 and £50 per annum, and sheep have been sold at all prices from 1s. to £4,—and where all kinds of property have been disposed of at prices equally depressed or extravagant, it is possible that, even at the present moment, the state of things may be somewhat different from the picture here drawn ; but the accuracy of it in May 1850, when the writer left the colony, may be confidently relied
The district of Port Phillip, now erected into the colony of Victoria, comprises the southern coast of New South Wales. Situated upon Bass's Straits, it has the most central position amongst the Australasian colonies ; equi-distant from Sydney and South Australia, and nearer to Van Diemen's Land than any of the others. Lying in the direct route of ships from England, it
ought eventually to prove the rendezvous for all steamers communicating with these various colonies, if the permanent line of steam communication should be established via the Cape of Good Hope, from England; which, in our opinion, is that best adapted for the general convenience of the colonies, and for the Imperial purposes of Great Britain.
Melbourne, the capital of this new colony, contained, in 1839, 400 inhabitants; in 1850 it is supposed to contain 25,000 : this can be only an approximation to the truth, but we are convinced that the number is not overrated.
By the last general census, in 1846, it contained 12,000 souls. In the year 1849-50, 1,550 new houses, liable to municipal rates, were built. There are, it is calculated, upon an average, 51 individuals to each house. When we take into account the number of temporary houses of a class not liable to rates, run up for the use of newly arrived immigrants, we shall not be wrong in reckoning upon an increase of 9,000 in that year.
The activity of trade, the increase in the value of property, and, we regret to say, the rash speculation, in a town so rapidly rising, may be
SUCCESS IN TRADE.
easily conceived. As an instance of the latter, we may mention that land in Elizabeth Street was sold, before the writer came away, at the rate of £40. 10s. per foot of street frontage, and that at a Government land sale going on at the time of his departure, land, or as it might with more propriety be called, sand, about three miles from Melbourne, was sold at £60 per acre. That such absurd prices will prove ruinous to the purchasers, and cause a reaction in the course of time, must be evident to every unprejudiced observer; but that such a fever of speculation should occasionally occur in a new and fast increasing community, is the natural consequence of instances of great success ; a few of which shall be mentioned as having come under the knowledge of the author.
One individual, who went out in the ship with the writer of this article, about ten years ago, with not more than £50, told him, the day before his departure, that he considered himself worth £35,000.
Another, who a few years before had been a working tinker, has now a fine well-stocked shop, for which he was asking £300 a year rent.
RATE OF INTEREST.
A third, who was once in the writer's employment at £30 a year, told him, lately, he was worth upwards of £4,000.
A fourth, who eight years ago started with about £25, is now returning home with an income of over £1,000 per annum.
A fifth, whose means were at first nothing at all, has amassed property equal to any of the above mentioned individuals.
These are but a few examples of prosperity which have come under the author's own observation: they are believed to be the result of honest industry, combined with judicious speculation, and not to be attributed to any means of which these men need feel ashamed.
That such gains have attended the labours of all, or that these men are fair samples of the general population, cannot be alleged; but it may safely be affirmed that in no part of the world does success so great and certain await upon untiring industry; which accounts for the high rate of interest paid on the safest mortgage securities, being never less than eight per cent., and sometimes very much higher.
The very few insolvencies which have taken place for some years, prove that it is not distress