« AnteriorContinuar »
Letters of Introduction. Letters of introduction, except to introduce a rich man, are seldom of much use in any country: in an Australian colony they are especially useless, because repectable residents are overwhelmed with them. The system is often as follows :-Jack Johnson, jun., being about to emigrate, Johnson père speaks to Thompson, who knows Jenkins, who has a third cousin, Thompson, at Adelaide; and Jack becomes the bearer of a sheet of Bath post addressed to Tomkins. Tomkins may or may not remember his cousin ; at any rate he dismisses the Johnson fils in half a dozen commonplace sentences, and at best, but that is rare, asks him to dinner, and there the business ends.
Letters to the governor, the bishop, or the chief justice, obtained at third hand, are even injurious : they excite expectations which are never realized, and put the bearer to the expense of an elaborate costume which is quite wasted.
The only useful introductions are from a personal friend of the emigrant to a personal friend. In nine cases out of ten the merchants and others resident in Australian towns are not to be trusted as advisers for investments. They generally have some hard bargains to dispose of—a bad run, a flock of scabby sheep, or a mob of wild cattle.
It is better, therefore, to have no letters than sham letters, or letters that lead the introduced straight into the den of some fox. The letter of credit is the best letter, if a man knows how to take care of it. Well-authenticated certificates of character are of great value.
Sea Sickness. Although there is no cure, eating simple food for a week before going on board, avoiding what is greasy or rich, and a little blue pill, so as to get rid of any bilious tendency, will do wonders.
LANDING IN A COLONY.
FROM SEA TO SHORE-FROM SALT MEAT TO FRESH-WHAT TO DO_WHAT TO
AVOID-LIFE OF SHEPHERD OF SMALL FARMER.
THE first thing that emigrants generally do on landing is to make
themselves ill by a jollification, followed by stuffing in fish and fruit for a week or two, and then to fall into very desponding spirits, and write home despairing letters.
The wise plan is to commence by taking a series of baths, warm or cold according to the season, to eat very sparingly of fresh meat, bread, and fruit, and other viands too delicious to the sea-traveller wearied of salt junk, preserved meat, and all the makeshifts, for the produce of gardens and pastures. Walks or rides, or both, will be found much needed to get rid of extra flesh accumulated in sixteen weeks' idleness. Neither mind nor body is worth much when out of condition.
The capitalist will commence a round of visits and dinner parties preparatory to a tour of exploration.
The family man of small capital will take a cheap cottage or unfurnished rooms for his family before deciding on future progress. During the present rush to the diggings parties going to Port Phillip require a tent. If possible he will engage a cottage as soon as he leaves the ship, so as to save the extravagant charges of inns and hotels. The single man of moderate means will take refuge in a boarding-house. All, no matter whether they have ten thousand or one hundred pounds to invest, will, if they are wise, allow at least one year to elapse before deciding on any investment, however tempting.
Although it is more possible to do without money in a colony than in an old country, money is more valuable and increases faster in a colony, and therefore it is a great point to save as much as possible; in fact, it is one of the great advantages of cutting off the entail of old connections by emigration, that it enables you to save.
To this end the newly-arrived colonist cannot begin too soon. According to our experience, it is very seldom worth while, even in England, to lay out half or a quarter, even ten, per cent. of your fortune, unless you belong to a plate-glass window trade, or genteel profession, in keeping up appearances. Some strenuously advise gentlemen obliged by “the pressure from without” to keep up the
externals of his birth or education to the last: with Barnaby Rudge's raven they exclaim, whenever an economical maxim presents itself, “ Never
say die!" and so out of the poor scrapings of his fortune they make him take a cabin passage. They give him introductions to the most genteel people, they lead him to put up at the most fashionable hotels, and spend a small fortune in paying and receiving visits.
This line of conduct often leaves the victim of gentility stranded, without a shilling, obliged to beg, or borrow, or sponge ; but then he
can be reproached, if he should afterwards attain a wealthy position, with having come out as a “ steerage passenger ”—a direful reproach, although one which may be borne with considerable equanimity by a man who owes no one a shilling, who has never borrowed or begged in the colony, and can show a fair number of stock, and a respectable credit at his banker's. Poor
men, however genteel as cabin passengers, find themselves led into a great deal of expense by wealthy cuddy companions, and on landing have great difficulty in breaking off the acquaintance, and in refusing invitations to dinner parties and pic-nics ; so that what with cards, cigars, extra champagne on board, with a visit perchance to Rio or the Cape, the five-hundred-pound man finds a great hole in the foundation of his fortune before he has left the smoke of the first colonial port behind him.
Our advice about passage-money, about lodgings, and about dress, is to begin as you mean to go on. Never mind what any one may say: if you have to stay in a town, and
very little money, take such an empty room or cottage as you can afford, and make shift with your ship furniture as many have done within our knowledge. A gentleman by birth, education, and profession, walked up the street of the port until he saw an empty cottage to his mind, hired it, and then returned for his baggage and family, without even having entered an inn.
In a strange place a bank credit for twenty pounds is worth much more than any number of polite speeches or even dinner invitations.
These words are particularly directed to ladies, mothers of families, whose pride often leads to the fall of their dearest hopes.
Unless well prepared with instructions how to act, and one real useful letter of introduction to some person who will take the trouble to sympathise with the economy essential to large families, with very little money,
he expenses of landing and the first week are often
There are hotels in the colonies as expensive as those of St. James's-street or Bond-street, and to such the great Australian merchant usually recommends his friends.
THE ROAD FOR LABOURERS.
A labouring man should not lose an hour in applying to the committee or registry-office for work, according to his capabilities, or in shouldering his blanket knapsack fashion, and starting for the diggings.
A mechanic will have no difficulty in ascertaining what opening there is for him in his trade within a day or two_if the port, whether Sydney, Melbourne, Geelong, or Adelaide, be overstocked; he should ascertain whether it is more advisable to proceed inland or coastwise.
The unskilled labourers—and with them must be classed all gentlemen without money—clerks, and every one who has not a trade at his fingers' ends—have two pursuits open to them in New South Wales and Victoria, and in South Australia one-gold-digging and shepherding.
On gold-digging no advice need be given; none would be taken ; it suits a strong family accustomed to draining marshes, cutting sewers, or railroad work well.
The shepherd, or intending shepherd, should take for choice, even at a pound or two less wages, a master of known good character, who is married, and living at his own head station, and periodically visiting his flocks. As to what a shepherd's life is like, the following letter will show :
Shepherd's Life. “I have a great horror of a bachelor's station, but quite the reverse where the proprietor resides with his wife and family. I never enjoyed myself more than when visiting some of the latter stations. Single men grumble-well they may—at the dreariness of the occupation; but married men have happy homes to return to at the close of the day.
“ The shepherd's wife has a neat hut rent free, wood, water, and food found; she receives about £9 a year for cooking for her husband and another, who will frequently be a near relative. The occupation of a shepherd is light and healthy; he can save at least 60 per cent. of his wages, and in a few years can save enough to set up on his own account. Wages are paid in cash, and can be deposited in stock or in the savings bank. Higher wages may be made in towns, but the expense of dress, &c., often more than counterbalances the difference ; and the great bargains they are tempted to buy generally end in placing them in a very inferior position to those who go into the interior and remain as servants, until they have saved money, and gained that practical knowledge of agriculture and pastoral pursuits which is necessary to final success.”—Letter from Mrs. Chisholm to the Author.
There is a great difference between Australian squatters : some are perfectly selfish, and indifferent to every consideration except the quality and price of wool and tallow; others, and these are increasing in number, like to see their runs tended by married men, and spare no pains to provide comfortable accommodation for their servants.
It is an immense advantage to be located where the ground and water admit of a good garden being cultivated, and where the master permits his men, in addition to pigs and poultry, to run a few heifers and a mare or two.
A written agreement specifying the wages, when to commence and when payable, the amount of rations for man, wife, and family, and other points ought to be obtained; two copies to be made saves many disputes.
The man must generally walk up to the interior, but the wife and children may get a cast in a dray. December is the best season for travelling, as then the wool is coming down, and there are plenty of opportunities of getting back; but in the month of October, previous to sheep-shearing, wages are at the highest.
A poor man with a large family of young children, if able to plough or accustomed to gardening, and possessed of enough means to get through one year, will often do well when unable, in consequence of his large family, to go into the interior, by hiring a piece of good