Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

and absorb more labour than would
yield a paying return, in comparison
with the ordinary pursuits of in-
dustry. But each fresh arrival from
the colony showed the fallacy of
these anticipations and prophecies.
Gold continued to be picked up in
abundance, sufficient to remunerate
every person engaged in its search,
although the number of the searchers
had been multiplied twenty-fold; and
a vast emigration began to flow from
this and other countries towards
the new El Dorado. In 1851-the
year when the discovery was first
made-there were despatched from
the United Kingdom alone 272 ships,
with an aggregate tonnage of 145,164
tons, having on board 21,532 pas-
sengers. In 1852, the number of
ships despatched was 568, with an
aggregate tonnage of 335,717 tons,
having on board 87,881 passengers.
When using this term, by the by, it
ought to be borne in mind that adult
passengers are meant, children of
tender years being counted as nothing,
whilst of young persons under four-
teen years of age, two are counted
The emigration of
as a passenger.
1852 would thus be at least a
hundred thousand souls. During the
past year the number of ships des-
patched was 1201, with an aggre-
gate tonnage of 553,088 tons, being
an increase on the year of 633 vessels
and 217,371 tons over the amount
We have not before us
of 1852.
accurate data for determining the
precise number of passengers taken
out by them; but it would certainly
be equal to that of the corresponding
period of the previous year. Great
Britain, however, was not the only
country which was adding to the
population of Australia. The United
States of America were sending us
practised gold-diggers from Califor-
nia, which shortly began to be re-
garded as affording a less profit-
able field for their labour. Germany
had begun to pour forth her emigrant
classes to the colony; and even China
was joining in the movement. In the
summary of the Melbourne Argus,
written for the mail of the 25th March,
we find the following statement: " In
the course of the last month several
separate ship-loads of Chinese have
landed on our shores. . . Numbers

270

to bring into practical use the voyages
of Cook, Vancouver, and other cir-
cumnavigators of the globe, whose
achievements during the past cen-
tury had hitherto been regarded as
interesting only in a geographical
point of view. Here, again, it was
an all-wise Providence which directed
our path. On the 6th May 1851, it
was first announced that gold had
been discovered in our convict settle-
The
ment of New South Wales.
news spread like wildfire throughout
the colony; and in a very short
space of time there were upwards of
four thousand "diggers" at Ophir,
near Bathurst, where the discovery
was first made, whose success fully
equalled that of the early adven-
turers at the Californian mines.
Additional gold-fields were found
shortly afterwards both in New
South Wales and the province of
Victoria; and before the end of July
the arrivals of gold at Sydney,
Geelong, and Melbourne were suffi-
ciently abundant to create a perfect
revolution in the labour market, not
only in those towns, but in the
agricultural districts of the entire
The ordinary
colony of Australia.
pursuits of the population were every-
where abandoned. Men of all classes,
capable of wielding a pick or a spade,
and many to whom such instruments
had been previously unknown, were
seen abandoning their farms, their
shops, or their counting-houses, to
swell the throng which rushed forth
prospect "
from every quarter to
for gold in the gullies and creeks
whose appearance or geological for-
mation promised a yield of the
At the first an-
precious metal.
nouncement of so startling a dis-
covery, a large portion of the public
in this country were indisposed to
credit it. Would-be-wise people
shook their heads, and hinted that a
mania had seized upon the Austra-
lian colonists, which in its issue must
be productive of their utter ruin.
We had black pictures painted of
the effect of a neglected agriculture;
and some wiser people than their
fellows-journalists and statisticians
-indulged in laboured arguments to
show that picking up
nuggets"
or dust must in a very short period
become an unprofitable avocation,

66

66

[ocr errors][merged small]

of these people, strangers as they are to our customs and religion, have been sought for and engaged at good wages by employers, with whom they can only communicate by signs. They have shown themselves, on the whole, one of the most inoffensive races of the motley group who seek our golden land; and a colony of them, that have been for some time established at the diggings, are remarkable for the quietness of their demeanour, and the propriety of their behaviour." The growth of the colony is, however, best shown by comparing the aggregate number of the population now, with what it was at the period when gold was first discovered. In the commencement of 1851, it was ascertained that the province of Victoria, which contains the most productive mines, was 77,360. The same journal from which we have quoted estimates it to be now 250,000; and adds, that it is being increased by the arrival of about 1000 immigrants per week. It is doubtful whether the other provinces-New South Wales and South and West Australia-are progressing at the same rate. The" diggers are a migratory race. The report of a new "find" attracts them from all directions. In February last, the Tarrengower gold-field was opened out, and discovered to be most productive; and the following is a description of the state of things which followed, from one who had visited the locality: "In leaving Bendigo, the comparatively deserted state of the diggings along Kangaroo Flat, in Adelaide Gully, and the Robinson Crusoe, is very apparent. The vast extent of the yellow mounds, where so much bustle and activity formerly prevailed, is now in many cases unenlivened by the presence even of a solitary digger. The want of water, in the first instance, but chiefly the attractions of Tarrengower, have almost depopulated this portion of the Bendigo. Many stores have been removed, and a large number are closed up for the present; yet there is a vitality about the place which shows that the glory has not altogether departed. Some business is being done, and those who still remain have infinite faith in the recuperative energies of Bendigo. When

the winter sets in,' they say, we shall have the diggers back."" Similar migrations are continually occurring; and hence it is most difficult to arrive at the actual population of any particular province or district. It is most probable, indeed, that the numbers of souls in the entire colony are considerably understated. This, we think, will be apparent when we come to examine the consuming powers of Australia, as tested by its imports. From a return, moved for in the House of Commons by Mr Archibald Hastie, and ordered to be printed on the 1st of May last, the following were the exports from the United Kingdom to the colony in each of the three years ending the 5th January 1854:

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

There is certainly evidence here, either of a most wasteful consumption, or of the existence of a population greater than it is generally supposed to be. But this return does not convey the full extent of that consumption. From what appears to be a carefully compiled statement in the last, the imports into the province of Melbourne Argus of the 25th of March Victoria alone, in 1853, amounted to the enormous sum of £15,842,637, received from the following countries:Great Britain, £8,288,226 West Indies (British), 14,973 North America (British), 13,560 Other British colonies, 5,036,311 United States of America, 1,668,606 Foreign States,

820,961

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

British colonies," and £1,668,606 from the United States of America. Our East Indian markets, no doubt, supplied the former amount, and the bulk of the latter crossed the Pacific from California. On the 27th July we had a regular mail by the overland route, via India and the Mediterranean, bringing advices up to the 29th May, which confirmed those brought by the "Golden Age." It is clear that a country, which takes from the United Kingdom upwards of fourteen millions sterling per annum, ought to have permanently established for it a postal communication as rapid as possible. It is unreasonable and suicidal to torture a great mercantile nation with a system, or arrangements, which leave us for four months consecutively without advices of the wants of one of our most valuable customers, and exchange of sentiments with nearly half a million of our own fellow-countrymen. Before concluding our remarks, we shall endeavour to point out how such improved postal communication can be best established.

shoes, boots, ready-made clothing, &c.
Serious losses will have to be en-
countered by those parties who are
unable to hold over their consign-
ments, and in part from the want of
storage-room. But this state of things
is merely temporary, and applies to
articles which are not strictly neces-
saries. The arrival of the overland
mail, with dates to the end of May,
brings us the assurance that business
is improving, as indeed might have
been expected in a country whose
population increases at the rate of a
thousand persons a-week, each of
whom is, on landing upon its shores,
placed at once in possession of an
income never previously enjoyed.
We have the material fact, too, before
us, establishing the capability of the
Australian colonist to consume largely
the products of foreign industry, that
during the past year the province of
Victoria exported to the amount of
£11,061,543, of which £8,644,529
was gold, and £1,651,543 was wool.
The difference between the amount
of imports and exports may be ac-
counted for without concluding that
the population has been running itself
into debt beyond their means of pay-
ing it with tolerable promptitude.
We may reasonably hope, too, that
one of the causes of such excessive
importations as those of last year will
shortly be removed. We have had
thus far no efficient and regular mail-
communication with the colony. Up
to the 20th of July, our latest advices
from Melbourne were dated the 25th
of March; and it was to American
enterprise that we were indebted for
intelligence up to May 11, brought
by the steamer" Golden Age" to Pa-
nama, and thence by the West India
Company's boats to Southampton.
Close upon four months had thus
elapsed, during which our merchants
had been operating in the dark, mak-
ing shipments to a colony the con-
suming powers of which had not been
fairly tested, and which might, for
anything we knew, have supplied its
wants from the nearer markets of In-
dia and China, or taken a portion of
the surplus shipments to California.
It is clear that such has been the case.
We have shown above, that of the
total imports into Victoria in 1853,

Returning to the immediate question of the increase of population in Australia, and its probable future rate, we may state, unhesitatingly, that it must be vastly beyond what is generally anticipated. In fact, the increase is self-creative-“ vires_acquirit eundo." Every newly-arrived immigrant, who purchases land from the colonial government, and every digger who pays for a gold license, becomes, in so doing, an importer of labour. Writing on the 25th of March last, The Melbourne Argus says:

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

£5,036,311 were derived from "other Increase to population, 7,986

12,469 4,483

4,483

“ In the same number of weeks pre- going away in quest of gold, reported viously, as stated in our last summary, to exist, in more than Australian the increase was 6281. The immigration abundance, elsewhere. For example, is, therefore, again on the increase. It is there has been recently a rumour of now proceeding at the rate of about 1000

the Peruvian mines reassuming their per week; but we ought not to omit mentioning, that a very large increase over

original fertility; and we observe, in this may be speedily expected. We lately

recent Australian papers, announcestated, on the authority of public docu

ments of numerous ships about to sail ments, that our land-fund available for with passengers for Callao, on the promoting emigration from the United west coast of South America, in the Kingdom amounted in the last quarter to neighbourhood of which port it is said upwards of £250,000, and if that rate is that gold has been recently discovermaintained during the present year, at ed in large quantities. The real gold, the cost of £6000

per ship, as estimated however, will most assuredly be Peby the Land and Emigration Commission

ravian guano, with which such ships ers, and an average of little more than

will load for this country and the 400 persons to each ship, there will be a

United States. Such re-emigration fund 'sufficient to convey free to these shores no less than 70,000 souls in one

is natural amongst a population like year. This, of course, is altogether inde

that of Australia, and will continue pendent of the emigration of persons pay

for a while. But the arrivals in the ing their own passages, which, we have colony are becoming more and more noticed, always increases with an in- composed of the class likely to be setcreased Government emigration. Within tlers. The Germans have been lately the last few weeks we have been invaded extensive purchasers of land, and are by what seems likely to be the advanced habitués in the colony. A report of guard of a large army of Chinese. Seve

a Hamburg society gives the followral ships have arrived crowded with Chi- ing as the German population in nese passengers, and many more are re

1852:ported to be on their way. The same spirit of enterprise is doubtless gradually

New South Wales,

13,500 extending itself amongst the people of

South Australia,

8,000 other countries; and the natural effects

Victoria,

1,320 will be exhibited in the inflow of a vast wave of population, to a colony which

24,820 affords such a field to the labouring man The German emigration to Austraas is presented in no other country upon lia last year will have greatly swelled earth.”

these numbers ; and the description It may appear singular that there of emigrants from that country may should be so large a number of de- be estimated from the fact that, of partures as 4483 to set against 12,469 nearly 6000 persons who applied to arrivals. We have already remarked, the Berlin Emigration Society in however, that the gold-diggers are 1852 for advice and assistance, 4444 migratory in their habits. Many of possessed property amounting in the them, who have amassed a few thou- whole to 977,635 dollars, or, upon sand pounds, return to their own an average, 218 dollars (£32, 143.) countries to settle. The state of so

We have also yet to ciety in Australia is not such at pre- experience the effect which will be sent as to attach parties to the colony. produced by remittances home by There is unfortunately there a want emigrants for the purpose of enof home comforts. The wealth in the abling their friends to join them in colony, suddenly acquired, is in the the colony. The impetus given to hands of people unprepared, by edu- the eflux of population from Ireland cation or early pursuits, for spending by such remittances was strikingly it in a sensible manner, or invest- shown by the Colonial Land and ing it profitably. Many are coming Emigration Commissioners in their thence only for a season, as visitors Report of last year. The remittances to their native land, or to return with from the United States, as relatives and friends; and some are tained through leading mercantile and

a

per head.*

ascer

* Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners' Report, 1853.

banking firms, were as follows in the the childish efforts of sach parliayears mentioned :

mentary committees as that of which

Mr John O'Connell was recently 1848

£460,000

the chairman, to prevent its supply: 1849

540,000 1850

957,000

Notwithstanding its vast agricultural 1851

990,000

resources, the demand for their de1852

1,404,000

velopment created by a rapidly aug

menting population, and the ample, We observe at present that several and, in fact, extravagant remuneraof the leading emigration firms in tion afforded in the colony for every London and Liverpool are making description of industry, the entire arrangements in Australia for the world, whose attention has been for purpose of enabling settlers to pay the last two years attracted by its the passage of their friends out to the display of wealth, and which is ascolony.

sured of the genuine and permanent Independently of the attractions character of its claims to notice, apoffered by the gold-fields, of remit- pears unable to supply labour in suftances from friends in Australia, or ficient abundance. Whether we turn of Government aid, there is abundant to its imports or its exports, furnished certainty that emigration to that us in the valuable report moved for colony must increase very rapidly. by Mr Hastie, the great want of laIn fact, scarcity of shipping is the bour forces itself upon us. We shall only bar to it which is likely to be take at random a few of the articles felt. There is a positive want of exported from Great Britain to the labour in Australia, which mocks at colony during the past three years:

[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors][ocr errors]

1853.

[ocr errors]

Apparel, Slops, and Haberdashery, £591,516 £959,687 £3,633,908
Beer and Ale,

135,674 245,657 635,870
Butter and Cheese,

4,142 50,583 207,094 Soap and Candles,

14,812 45,924 121,774 The last two items certainly would wanting in a country whose live stock not occupy a place in the list of our are so abundant that they have acexports to Australia if that fine tually to be boiled down for their agricultural country had even a mo- tallow and bides! Our imports from derate supply of labour. The ano- Australia, however, exhibit most maly is monstrous that butter and strongly its deficient supply of labour. cheese, soap and candles, should be We select a few items :

1851. 1852.
Regulus of Copper, tons,

1,115
660

41
Unwrought Copper, »

773
632

473
Flax, undressed, cwt.

1,259

904

664 Hides, tanned or dressed, lb. 931,600 642,198 9,842 Oil, Spermaceti, tuns,

1,911 1,609

940 Tallow, cwt..

174,471 159,333 125,206 The above articles the colony can be more largely developed than at supply to almost any extent; yet it present; for if, almost exclusively will be observed that their export is by the produce of her gold-fields, her falling off every year. Its mines of population of little, if at all, over copper, especially, are amongst the half a million souls can afford to im. richest in the world ; yet they are port our productions to the amount comparatively unworked for the want of above fourteen millions sterling per of hands, whilst the world holds so annum, what may be expected when it many human beings who would becomes enabled to export freely the gladly toil for one-fourth of the remu- raw material, the agricultural proneration wbich Australia could so ducts, and the valuable minerals well afford them. To the people of copper, tin, &c.—which its soil will Great Britain it is a very material yield to an extent almost beyond the object that the agricultural and min. power of calculation ? eral resources of the colony should We have already stated that the

« AnteriorContinuar »