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THREE COLONIES OF AUSTRALIA.
INTRODUCTION-PLAN OF WORK-HISTORICAL_DESCRIPTIVE-PRACTICAL.
names under which, within the memory of men of middle age, a great island-continent at the antipodes has been explored, settled, and advanced from the condition of a mere gaol, or sink on which our surplus felonry was poured—a sheepwalk tended by nomadic burglarsto be the wealthiest offset of the British crown-a land of promise for the adventurous—a home of peace and independence for the industrious—an El Dorado and an Arcadia combined, where the hardest and the easiest best-paid employments are to be found, where every striving man who rears a race of industrious children may sit under the shadow of his own vine and his own fig-tree—not without work, but with little care-living on his own land, looking down the valleys to his herds—towards the hills to his flocks, amid the humming of bees, which know no winter.
Under the genial variations of the climate of Australia all the productions of southern and temperate latitudes flourish—the palm and the oak, the potato and the yam, the orange and the apple, wheat and Indian corn. Over her boundless pastures millions of sheep wander -sheep of “noble race,” whose feet, according to the Spanish proverb, “turn all the earth they touch to gold,” and cattle by tens of thousands, that may compare with the best of Durham, or Hereford, or Devon, and horses as swift and untiring as ever bounded over the stony deserts of Arabia. In her mountain ridges and river beds gold is gathered in greater profusion than ever Cortes or Pizarro dreamed-gathered without shedding one drop of blood. Peaceful seas surround—safe harbours give access to—this goodly land, which may be traversed inland for hundreds of miles on foot or horseback-no ravenous
wild beasts threaten or affright the timid—the aborigines are few, and quick to learn submission.
The hard work of colonization has been done; the road has been smoothed and made ready; yet there is ample verge and room enough for millions to follow in the track of the thousands who have conquered and subdued the earth, and planted and reared, not only corn and cattle, but an English race, imbued with English traditions, taught by English literature, enjoying English institutions, and practising English love of order and obedience to law while cherishing the firmest attachment to liberty.
With these elements of social and political prosperity, only needing for full development a tide of population which this country can well spare, it cannot be doubted that a very few years will transform what our fathers considered the meanest, into the greatest of Britain's dependencies; and that, at a period when Continental Europe seems retrograding into deeper than mediaval darkness and despotism, side by side in friendly rivalry with the great American republic, we shall realize the threat of the baffled statesman (when the rising liberties of Spain were crushed under the armies of the soon-tobe-exiled Bourbon), and “call a new world into existence to redress the balance of the old”*__a new field for the employment of ablebodied industry, which, overflowing from the crowded competition of Europe, may there help on the march of unrestricted commerce by digging capital out of the soil, or, at less exercise of strength, produce choice raw material for the triumphs of machinery.
For some fifteen years armies of emigrants have annually proceeded in greater or less numbers to the Australian colonies, yet it is but recently that the general public have cared to inquire more than how bread was to be earned or how capital invested. Late discoveries have invested these dependencies with new importance in the eyes of all who follow with interest the progress of the Anglo-Saxon race. The time seems propitious for attempting not only to describe the features, the resources, and the prospects of these colonies, but to trace the series of political, social, and commercial events by which an insignificant penal settlement in the most distant quarter of the globe, supported at great cost by the parent state, has given birth to a cluster of prosperous self-supporting colonies, largely contributing, directly and indirectly, to the imperial revenues, by the production of valuable raw materials, by the consumption of British manufactures, and by the employment of any amount of labour that can be landed on their shores
* George Canning.
This work will be divided into three principal sections :-
The Historical section will include an account of the discovery of the island by Spanish, Dutch, English, and French mariners; of the foundation of the first settlement at Botany Bay, the early government and the gradual changes which have converted a kind of transmarine gaol into a community of free men, claiming, and at the present time, to a great extent, enjoying, free institutions; of the beginning and progress of the great pastoral interest from the eight merinos imported by M'Arthur to the fourteen million fine-woolled sheep which now graze over the three colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia; of the progress of emigration from the few scattered traders, farmers, and officials who, for more than a quarter of a century, formed only the free additions to the population, except by births, to the time when colonists were shipped by thousands, on a colonizing crusade; of the progress of the value of land from the period when the bribe of free rations and the gift of slave labour was needed to induce any one to accept it, until the time when lots in an unbuilt, unpeopled city were sold by the yard, at the rate of thousands of pounds per acre; of the progress of trade from the mere barter of the year 1800, dependent on the expenditure of the colonial government, to a steady export, in 1851, of millions sterling in wool, tallow, and copper ore, and lastly gold ; of the progress of colonization by which the despised Botany Bay has called into existence “Three Colonies” in which labour is better rewarded, and life more easily sustained, than in any country in the world.
The time has not arrived—the public is not prepared to reward the labour required—for the execution of a complete historical work on Australia. The author has contented himself with sketching from authentic, and in many instances unpublished, documents the series of events which influence the present, and are likely to influence the future, moral, social, and commercial condition of Australia.
The Descriptive section will contain a popular account of the principal districts colonized, their ports, their pastoral, their agricultural, their mining resources; of the aborigines, and of the natural history of Australia ; of the present condition of the “ Three Colonies as fields for the exercise of trade, agriculture, stock-farming, and mining pursuits ; of the legislative, religious, and educational institutions which those colonies enjoy. It will, in fact, be an attempt to draw a picture of the present, as the first section is of the past, condition of Australia.
The Practical section will be a hand-book, in which the subjects of emigration, from the hour when the idea of leaving this country for a