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lowing strain :-“Well, you're appointed to this berth in Australia? Consider yourself lucky; you'll make your fortune. Now, these colonial fellows are in a deuce of a hurry, so you must lose. no time. Let me see the shipping list. Ah! here's a ship sails on Friday for Adelaide. This is Monday—you must go on Friday—your passage will be paid, and all right."
Mr. Wilson remonstrated on the shortness of the time, but it was of no use: the colonists were in a “deuce of a hurry.” He suggested that Adelaide was a considerable distance from Sydney. The objection was pooh-poohed—knowledge of colonial geography is not an indispensable qualification for colonial office. Poor Mr. Wilson was hurried off by the ship to Adelaide with such speed that his wife is said to have died on the voyage, from the excitement and fatigue of packing. Arrived at Adelaide, he had to wait nearly a month for a conveyance to Sydney. Arrived in Sydney, and installed in his office, he was questioned as to the latest improvements in the Irish national system. He knew nothing about it, had never heard of it, had never seen any of the books, he had been master of an excellent Church of England school. So, after four years' delay, in desperate haste, the Colonial Office had sent off the wrong man, to the wrong place!
In justice to Mr. Wilson it is right to add, that, being a clever and conscientious man, he applied himself to the study of the Irish schoolbooks, and has performed the duties of his office with credit to himself end advantage to the colony.
In South Australia, by an act of the Legislative Council, passed in August, 1847, the governor is authorized to appoint a board of education, who shall have power, under his sanction, to make regulations for giving effect to the ordinance. No aid to be given to schoolhouses. The salaries issued to teachers will be in proportion to the children taught, not less than twenty, between six and sixteen years of age, £20 being the lowest and £40 the highest sum. The governor to appoint visitors and inspectors. The reports to be laid before the Legislative Council, and one public examination to take place yearly. The boards, previous to the introduction of an elective Legislative Council, consisted of the judge of the Supreme Court, the advocate general, the colonial chaplain, a dissenting minister, and a layman.
The Legal system of the Three Colonies is essentially the same; and an account of that in force in New South Wales will be sufficient to convey an idea of the manner and nature of law proceedings in all the Australian courts.
COURTS OF LAW AND EQUITY.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales consists of a chief and two puisne judges, who exercise the powers of the three Courts of Queen's Bench, Common Pleas, and Exchequer at Westminster, and have criminal jurisdiction. They go on circuit twice a year to Bathurst, Goulburn, Maitland, and Brisbane.
In common law the “new rules" of pleading are in force.
One judge sits in equity (by delegation) with the powers of a vicechancellor, and there is an appeal from his decision to the Supreme Court.
The proceedings are by bill and answer. The equity rules of 1841 are in force; but in 1849 a reform was introduced, by which the proceedings for obtaining a rule nisi in a common law court, by affidavit, and a defence by affidavit were, in a variety of instances, substituted for the tedious complication of the old chancery system.
The Supreme Court also exercises, in the person of one of the judges appointed for the purpose, those functions as regards the validity of testamentary dispositions, letters of administration, &c., which in England are performed by the Ecclesiastical Courts; but no court exists for deciding on questions of divorce, alimony, &c.
The Master in Equity presides over an Admiralty Court.
The Supreme Court exercises jurisdiction in bankruptcy and insolvency. One of the judges presides, exercising powers similar to the commissioners in England, with an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Estates of insolvents are vested in official assignees.
person can be made a bankrupt or insolvent either by petition of creditors or by his own petition.
A Court of Conscience, presided over by a single commissioner, who decides, not according to law or evidence, but according “to equity and good conscience,” like the courts which have been superseded in England by our County Courts, is held for the metropolitan county of Cumberland in Sydney, and one for the metropolitan county of Bourke in Melbourne, which has jurisdiction up to £30.
The magistrates, paid and unpaid, in the other districts have jurisdiction up to £10 absolutely, and up to £30 by mutual consent in cases of simple debt, but not in actions for damages or disputed rights to land, &c.
Under the enactments of the “Masters and Servants” Act, two magistrates can decide on disputes as to wages and service: they can commit a servant refusing to perform his written agreement, and levy a distress on the property of a master or his agent if wages are unpaid.
The division of barrister and attorney is maintained in the colonies.
English barristers and Scotch advocates are admitted at once to practise.
The judges appoint a board of examiners, and admit any man of
good character to practise as a barrister, after passing an examination in classics, mathematics, and law.
Attorneys and writers to the signet are admitted to practise of course.
Persons who have served their articles and not passed in England may be admitted in the colony. The result is, that parties who have been or would have been rejected in England, in consequence
of tainted character, are able to practise in New South Wales.
Three important law reforms are due to the exertions of Robert Low, Esq., now member for Kidderminster, during the time he was a member of the Legislative Council, and practised at the bar in Sydney.
The substitution in 1849 in the Colonial Equity Court of the common law proceedings on application for a rule nisi instead of the tedious delays of bill and answer, which is of great value in such cases, as where executors, trustees, or partners hold money in their hands claimed by plaintiffs.
The abolition of imprisonment for debt on final process.
In a country like Australia, where property is chiefly in live stock, and servants are not to be depended on, to commit a man to prison virtually amounted to destroying all his property.
And arrangements for admitting to the bar without proceeding to England gentlemen able to pass an examination in classics, mathematics, and law, before examiners appointed by the judges. The sons of Australian gentlemen, for want of friends accustomed to the state of society in the universities, are usually ruined.
In South Australia there is a Supreme Court, composed of one judge, who also presides in the Vice-Admiralty Court, a commissioner in the Insolvent Court, and three police magistrates.
RUMOURS OF GOLD DISCOVERY - CERTAINTY - SKETCH OF HISTORY-OLD
SHEPHERD-EDWARD HARGREAVES POINTS OUT GOLD FIELDS_CORRESPONDENCE WITH GOVERNOR-STUTCHBURY-PROCLAMATION ISSUED_FIRST GOLD COMMISSIONER APPOINTED_JOHN HARDY'S DESCRIPTION OF SUMMERHILL CREEK-PREACHING AT THE DIGGINGS.
were enjoying an unexampled condition of financial and commercial prosperity, the demand for labour was steadily increasing, and in the elder colony several manufactures and copper-mines were affording new investments for colonial capital. The leading colonial journal was amusing its readers with calculations of the period when all the pastoral land of the colony would be overstocked with sheep and cattle.
The politicians had three grievances—the continuance of transportation, the delay in establishing a steam post, and the shortcomings of the new constitution, which had increased the fixed taxes without giving any real additional legislative power to the colonists.
In the midst of this satisfactory state of affairs, “through the Exchange of Sydney a horrid rumour ran ” that a great gold-field had been found near Bathurst.
Very soon small nuggets ”—the word is Californian-arrived in the city, and were handed about as curiosities. Thereupon a few score pedestrians, chiefly of the humblest class, set out to walk to Bathurst, 140 miles.
By the 2nd May there was no longer any doubt about the diggings ; crowds of all ranks streamed across the Blue Mountains; the governor's proclamation gave official currency to the dazzling fact; the gold fever commenced.
When whispers and rumours had grown into a great fact, every body wondered that the discovery had not been made before, as it had been so often prophesied by various individuals, none of whom seem to have had, like Mr. Hargreaves, sufficient confidence in their own judgment to travel to the district, and put a spade into the ground.
The history of the gold discoveries in Australia lies in a very short compass, but is worth telling. It illustrates inany curious things.
The first written reference to the existence of gold in Australia is to be found in a despatch (not published at the time) addressed by Sir George Gipps, 2nd of September, 1840, to the Secretary of State for the Colonies, in which he encloses a report from Count Strzelecki, mentioning under gold “an auriferous sulphuret of iron, partly decomposed, yielding a very small quantity of gold, although not enough to repay extraction,” which he found in the Vale of Clwdd. It was known to a few that an old shepherd of the name of Macgregor was in the habit of annually selling small parcels of gold to jewellers; but those who watched him could discover nothing, and the common belief was that he sold the produce of robberies which had been melted up to destroy suspicion. The Rev. D. Mackenzie, in his “Gold-digger,” states that this old man has recently acknowledged that he obtained his gold from a place called Mitchell's Creek, beyond Wellington Valley, about 200 miles west of Sydney.
The Rev. W. B. Clarke, one of the colonial chaplains, and a geologist of considerable acquirements, has claimed in the colonial press the honour of having unsuccessfully directed attention to the goldbearing regions of Bathurst. In consequence of this claim, Sir