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arriving at Sydney a day or two earlier than her previous performances led her to be expected; and it was with difficulty that the colonists were enabled to induce her commander to stay above twelve hours to enable a mail for Great Britain to be made up. Any one who has read the excellent digests of Australian news contained in the Melbourne Argus and the Sydney Morning Herald, sent by every Government mail, may imagine that some time is required for writing them, irrespective of printing. The General Screw Steam Company also attempted the carrying of the mails, and subsequently the Australian Royal Mail Steam Company, both subsidised by Government, made the same attempt. They failed in the performance of their engagements. The latter had contracted to perform the voyage from England to Sydney in 64 days, and homewards in 68 days. The "Chusan" was 79 days on the passage from England to Sydney; the "Formosa" 76 days; the "Cleopatra " 120 days. In fact, the Company's ships were laughed at by ordinary sailing vessels. Then sailing vessels were tried; and we were told that mails were to be forwarded by this or that "clipper," the Post-Office guaranteeing its sailing on a particular day. But first-rate ships would not accept the terms offered; and accordingly, we had continual instances of those who had undertaken the work failing in its performance. There has hitherto been no certainty as to the mail communication between this country and the colony. We never could tell, within two or three months, at what date we might expect to receive the reply to a letter to Australia, or when one from Great Britain would arrive out in the colony. The merchant who had shipped, or made advances upon goods, had no certainty as to the time when he must make arrangements to meet the demands upon him out of his own resources. The want of certainty imparted an additional amount of hazard to the trade between the two countries. But this is not all the evil resulting from inadequate postal communication. It has tended very greatly, combined with bad post-office management in the colony, to prevent emigration. People accustomed to
daily intercourse with their friends are unwilling to embark for a country from which they can rarely assure them of their safe arrival, or inform them as to how the world goes with them, in less than eight or nine months. A brother, a sister, or a friend, with whom we can correspond, is not as one lost to us. We do not regard them as quite beyond our social circle. But an emigrant to Australia has thus far been practically rendered an outcast. We may hear of him, or her, if fortune smiles, or dire adversity occurs; but the ordinary kindliness of brotherhood, or sisterhood, becomes neglected when the means of epistolary intercourse are denied. The rudest amongst us feel this as a bar to adventuring into a new country. The emigrant would be glad to communicate the tidings of his good or evil lot to sympathising friends at home; and there are few who do not know with what delight even the merest scrap of home news is received by those who are separated by far less than half the circumference of the globe from that home. What would not any Australian digger give at the present moment if he could hear his parent's clock tick in its old familiar place? What would any parent at home not give for a glimpse of the present features of a child now located at the antipodes ?
It is humiliating to us as Britons, to contrast the niggardly conduct of our own Post-Office authorities, and of the Colonial Office, with that which we have already shown was adopted by the Government of the United States towards the population of its new territory of California. Unfortunately, we are governed in this country upon "economical" principles. The spirit of the trader is carried into every department of the public service. When we ask for any comprehensive and perfect scheme of improvement, we are mocked by some petty expedient, because every successive administration, and every public official, are ambitious of doing their work more cheaply than their predecessors. This is especially the case with respect to the postal arrangements of the country. When an extension or an improvement of the system is suggested, the first question asked is not, "Is it
wanted?" but, "Will it pay?" Our American brethren have always dealt with the business of their post-office in a different spirit. They felt that those who are maintaining the commercial greatness of the country by their toil in California are worthy of being enabled to communicate cheaply with their friends at home. Our own postal authorities, however, appear disposed to treat that colony, which is similarly promoting the commerce of Great Britain, rather as an unreasonably intruding suppliant than an important community asking for what is fairly due to them. Our colonists feel deeply the injustice of their position, that, whilst a portion of the colonial revenue is contributed to the Home Government, to be expended in securing steam facilities for their mails, the object for which they are paying is not accomplished.
We feel perfectly assured that we never shall have an effective postal communication with Australia, until we cease to regard that important colony as a mere calling-station for our East Indian mails. Its increasing commerce with the mother country demands that it should have a mail service distinctly its own, conducted with no other view than to promote the convenience of that commerce, and of the people of the colony. How then is this to be provided most economically, and, at the same time, most effectively? The latter is the main question. We ought scarcely to think about cost in the effort to improve the postal facilities of a possession which, we have seen, took from us last year upwards of fourteen millions sterling of British produce and manufactures. Past experience has, we think, shown sufficiently that the object in view can never be obtained by steaming round the Cape of Good Hope. The shortest passages as yet attained by that route were performed by the "Golden Age" in 61 days, and by the "Argo" in 64 days. The noble steam-ship "Great Britain," in the last trip made the distance to Melbourne in 65 days. The Australian Steam Navigation Company, which promised so largely, failed most unequivocally. The first of their ships, the "Australian," took 44 days to reach the Cape; the
Sydney" took 54 days; the "Melbourne" took 75 days; and the "Adelaide" took 77 days. Of the two last vessels' voyages the Melbourne Argus remarked at the time :—
"The preposterous length of the voyage is a minor evil in comparison with the anxiety which haunted this community for weeks in the case of the last two steamers. We were almost on the
point of giving up the Adelaide' for lost, when the lumbering old hulk was reported at last to have rolled into Adelaide.
The mischiefs inflicted upon the mercantile community here, by the detention of the Adelaide,' and the fears for her safety, have been intolerable. Mails have been postponed-goods have arrived before the advices or bills of lading had come to hand-correspondence has been confused, and business transactions have been utterly deranged. It is most provoking to think that a steamer holding the Government mail contract, and for which the mails have been kept back for several weeks, should leave London on the 11th of December, and arrive in Port Philip on the 11th of May following-a period of five months precisely!"
Undoubtedly the Company must have mismanaged its business, and its vessels been unfit for the service. But it is the opinion of all nautical men, that mails, conveyed in even the most superior steamers by way of the Cape of Good Hope, can never be depended upon either for speed or regularity. The most efficient mode which we have seen proposed for performing the service, is that of the Australian Direct Steam Navigation Company via Panama. It is intended that this Company's vessels, which are to be powerful paddle - wheel steamers of 3000 tons, shall proceed at stated periods from Milford Haven to Aspinwall (Navy Bay), on the Atlantic side of the Isthmus; from whence passengers and cargo will be conveyed by railway to Panama, on the Pacific side, and there re-embarked for Australia, accomplishing the whole distance, to or from, in about fifty-five days. That the power of fulfilling this promise is within the reach of an energetic Company, has recently been proved by the experiment made by the United States steamer, "Golden Age." America, by the by, is still our pioneer in steam enterprise.
"The 'Golden Age'-(we quote from an ably-conducted Liverpool paper, the Journal)-steaming only slowly, and under unfavourable circumstances, made the run from Sydney to Tahiti in 134 days, and from Tahiti to Panama in 18
days 12 hours. A more powerful vessel
would have performed the distances in about 11 and 15 days respectively, and surmounted effectually the only difficulty to be experienced in crossing the Pacific, namely, carrying coals sufficient for the voyage from station to station. The detention, which in this case was nearly 15 days between Sydney and Southampton, might be shortened to about 4 days, by proper arrangements being made for prompt despatch; and the voyage would thus be performed in from 50 to 53 days."
A portion of the journey across the Isthmus, we may remark, was performed on mules, only thirty-one miles of the railway being as yet completed. The whole line, however, is expected to be opened in the course of the present year.
Many circumstances concur to render the Panama route infinitely preferable to any other. In the first place, the shortest distance has to be traversed. From Milford Haven to Sydney by this route is only 12,440 miles, the whole of which, with the exception of 45 miles, is by sea. the present Peninsular and Oriental Company's route, via Swan River and Cape Leeuwin, from Southampton the distance is 12,855 miles, of which 238 have to be performed between Alexandria and Suez by canal, by the Nile, and across the desert. By the same Company's route via Torres Straits, the distance is 13,095 miles, with the same overland journey to make from Alexandria to Suez. We can only get our mails from Australia by either of these routes in sixty days, by the very costly express from Marseilles. The General Screw Company's route, by way of the Cape of Good Hope, Madras, and Point de Galle, is enormously circuitous; and the same Company's new route, without touching at the Cape, is 12,837 miles. There is another serious disadvantage connected with the eastward voyage. From the Cape to Australia the weather is generally boisterous, with variable winds; and in passing the equinoctial line, ships have to en
counter calms, and can derive no aid from carrying canvass. The loss of that aid is a serious matter to screw steamers, in a voyage where economy in the article of fuel is so desirable.
From Great Britain to Navy Bay, on the other hand, is usually a run in which canvass can be advantageously used, whilst the run from Panama to Australia is through pleasant weather for the entire distance, the Pacific fully justifying the propriety of its appellation.
Of course, a company working the Panama route effectively, with superior vessels, and carrying regular mails, must be subsidised by the British Government. Our colonists themselves would gladly lend their aid by grants out of their own public revenue. In fact, the province of New South Wales has recently advertised its willingness to give a bonus of £6000 sterling to any company which will bring the postal distance between England and Melbourne to sixty days each way. The Australian Direct Company, however, anticipate a good profit on their undertaking, irrespective of remuneration in the form of a subsidy for carrying the mails, as will be perceived from the following extract from their prospectus, published last year :
"It is thought unnecessary to dwell on the great extension of general traffic wherever proper facilities of intercourse by steam have been afforded: it may, however, be briefly stated, that the produce of gold during the year 1852, in the colony of Victoria alone, amounted to over £18,000,000, with every prospect of a continuous increase, exclusive of the produce of New South Wales, which forms a large addition to this vast amount; that, during the months January, February, March, and April last, the specie transmitted across the Isthmus-from Peru and Chili, from the western coast of Mexico, and from California-amounted to 20,410,796 dollars, exceeding £4,000,000 sterling,-and that the passenger traffic, by the same route and for the same period, amounted to 10,568 by the San Juan de Nicaragua line. It persons, irrespective of those conveyed may be, moreover, observed that this extent of traffic, however great, affords no adequate idea of the vast trade which will arise to feed this line, when in full operation, with all the important advan
tages of a completed railway, and of a systematic conduct of business.
"Large additions to this vast traffic must necessarily flow from the increasing intercourse between North America and the Australian colonies, facilitated
as such intercourse is by the powerful lines of steamers already established between the United States and the Isthmus of Panama in the North Atlantic, and between California and Panama in the North Pacific. The augmented line of steamers, also, employed by the Pacific Steam Navigation Company between Valparaiso and Panama, must considerably swell the stream. These great results stand in perfect independence of a line projected, which will in all probability, at no distant period, connect California and China; and likewise of traffic, the natural result of conveyance of passengers
and valuable merchandise diverted from old and circuitous routes.
"The Directors derive great encouragement from the knowledge that the objects of this Company are favoured with the high approval of British merchants in general. Many of the most eminent London houses have strongly expressed their approbation; and the following document fully attests the spirit in which the enterprise is regarded by several influential and distinguished Manchester firms: "We, the undersigned, being desirous of encouraging the establishment of a line of first-class steam-packets, offering increased facilities and advantages for the transit of passengers and goods to and from Australia and the different important States in the Pacific Ocean, and being deeply impressed with the advantages of the route by the way of the Isthmus of Panama, since the establishment of the railroad at that place connecting the two oceans,-hereby signify our approval of the projected British and Australian Direct Screw Steam Packet Company, for the purpose of carrying out the line of communication to those parts in the most efficient manner. (Signed)-R. GLADSTONE & Co., HORROCKS, JACKSON & Co., ROBERT SMITH & Co., ROBERT GARDNER, SAMUEL MENDEL,
ROBT. BARBOUR & BROTHERS, JOHN PEN
DER & Co., GEORGE FRASER, SON, & Co., HENRY B. JACKSON, R. I. FARBRIDGE & Co., B. LIEBERT, PRESCOTT, BROTHERS, & Co., THOS. CARDWELL & Co., OSWALD STEVENSON & Co., J. A. TURNER & Co.'"
It is most desirable that whatever line is selected for conveying the mails should be as far as possible remunerative, in order to enable Government to fix the rates of postage as low as
possible. The present charges are preposterously high. A letter by a sailing ship, which may be from ninety to one hundred days on the passage, costs eightpence, if under half an it is from a shilling to twentypence, ounce. By steam and overland mail, if under a quarter of an ounce in weight, for what to a man, whose caligraphy is not of a diminutive order, or who cannot command "bank" or "foreign post" paper, must be only half a letter. Cheap postage for the newly settled population of Australia, and for their friends in this country, is as essential as regular and expeditious mails are to the mercantile communities in both countries. We must remark, too, that newspapers and trade circulars are as much required to be conveyed expeditiously as mercantile letters. By the last overland mail a fortunate few received despatches via Marseilles in sixty days. The bulk of the mail, consisting of newspapers and letters from emigrants, &c., was not delivered until the arrival of the steamer at South
ampton, nearly seventy days from her leaving the colony.
We have certainly little hope of our Government doing much to develop the resources of Australia. The Post-Office authorities may, indeed, be induced to concede to the colony, and to the mercantile community of this country, a direct mail communication via Panama, by the prospectindeed, almost certainty-that if they fail in the performance of their duty, the United States Government will
do it for them. The experiment made by the American steam-ship "Golden Age" is said to have been, commercially, an unprofitable one. But the application of steam power to the performance of long voyages is difficulty hitherto experienced in makeven as yet in its infancy. The chief ing short and regular passages to a distant port has been the large quantity of coals required to be carried, which diminishes the power of carrying cargo in our mail steamers. It is estimated that our Cunard Company's and the Collins' boats would have to diminish their speed, and to forfeit some of their character for regularity in the transmission of mails to and from America, were the two
countries a thousand miles farther apart. But at the present time an improvement is making in the machinery of one of the boats of the latter Company by her owners in the United States, which, it is stated, is likely to economise very materially her consumption of fuel, the saving by which may either be applied to increasing her speed or her carrying capabilities. The same improvement can be adopted in our Australian steamers. But from the Colonial Office we expect literally nothing. The treatment of Australia by that Office has been, from first to last, most neglectful; and even since the gold discoveries, and the recognition by all thinking men of the vast importance which the colony has assumed as a feeder of the commerce of England, our statesmen have appeared incapable of appreciating its claims to their consideration. A glaring instance of this perverse or ignorant blindness has recently occurred in the filling up of the office of Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia. The first party appointed was Mr Stonor, an Irish member, of no great mark in Parliament or elsewhere. This gentleman duly sailed for the colony, but was shortly after his departure unseated for bribery. Such was the grossness of the charges against him, brought to light by a parliamentary inquiry, that the Colonial Office were compelled to despatch his recall. Another Lieutenant-Governor was to be appointed; and the choice fell upon the Hon. F. Lawley, M.P. for Beverley. Mr Lawley's claims to hold an appointment, so important at the present crisis in a country which eminently requires the supervising of a practical statesman, experienced in the management of colonial affairs, are not easy to discover. He was a young man-young at least in public life-twenty-eight years of age; had passed rather a distinguished course at the university, and had held for a few months the situation of private secretary to the Chancellor of the Exchequer; but he was chiefly known to the public as a runner of race-horses, and a rather unsuccessful speculator on the Turf. The noble Lord at the head of the Administration, it appears, had some
interest in the borough-Beverleywhich Mr Lawley represented, and had also a son, who was ambitious of parliamentary honours. Mr Lawley was appointed Lieutenant-Governor of South Australia; vacated his seat for Beverley; and Lord Aberdeen's son was elected to fill his place. We only mention this as a curious coincidence. But Mr Lawley had some sense of honour in his breast, as became a young man of his rank and birth, or he may have had merely a correct appreciation of "the fitness of things." Subsequently to his illsuccess upon the Turf-it is not said whether or not during his tenure of his confidential office under the Chancellor of the Exchequer he had speculated on the Stock Exchangeand lost. His resolution-taken, no doubt, after a due examination of the state of his affairs was promptly notified to the Government. He resigned the office to which he had been appointed; and the colony was spared the infliction of a LieutenantGovernor in whom the propensity for gambling was so strongly developed, and whose favourite sphere of action would probably have been upon the race-course of Adelaide. What may be the effect upon the minds of the population of this treatment of South Australia by the Colonial Office we are not to foretell. It cannot, however, advance that Office in their estimation.
Failing the hope of efficient Government aid to the growth of the Australian colonies-as we think it will fail-those colonies have within their reach the means of aiding themselves in one vitally important matter
the securing of a larger supply of labour. The funds accruing from the sale of lands in the colony have, for some years past, been devoted to the purpose of assisting the emigration of useful classes of labourers - principally agricultural to the various colonies; the business being managed in this country by the Colonial Land and Emigration Commissioners. Of course, a crotchety management was to be anticipated from such a body, composed of parties utterly unversed in the business. We believe it will be found by the colonists that the management has not only been crotch