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3-234 (Original)

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author,male,Mortlock, John Frederick,56 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Mortlock, 1865
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The repetition of different beautiful views, seen under bright blue sunny skies, renders a coasting trip, under steam in smooth water, delightful.
Melbourne (Queen of the Gold Fields) is beautifully situated about 38° South, on hilly ground, three miles from the Northern shore of what may not improperly be termed an inland sea, the entrance to which from Bass' Strait is formed by a narrow opening in the coast, forty miles from the harbour. Between the shipping and the town, traffic is carried on in trips of five or six minutes by a short railroad. A city already far surpassing Sydney in the style of its buildings and amount of population, has sprung up, as if by magic, in ten short years. The climate, too, is somewhat cooler than that of New South Wales, the land much less rugged, more fertile, and abounding in open plains. The Yarra-Yarra, though deep and navigable for or small craft, i.e., of 300 tons, up to the town, is so narrow and tideless as to resemble a canal until the bridge is passed, then it meanders through a rich and picturesque country. The broad and noble streets intersected at right angles are, like those of Hobart Town and Sydney lit up with gas, and are much more thronged with cabs and omnibuses; but a suitable residence, comfortable and not expensive, was difficult to find. For some hours I hunted about among people whose activity betokened a stirring commerce, and at length discovered a boarding and lodging-house, kept by two decent Scotch sisters named Sime, paying five pounds a week for their small six-roomed tenement in Upper Lonsdale-street. My board and bed in a chamber occupied by two other persons cost thirty shillings a week. Of the ten or eleven lodgers, three were respectable printers, each earning £16 per month in the neighbouring government office, and the remainder all engaged in some industrious employment. An Act having passed making it penal for any one, not free three years, from Tasmania to be found in Victoria, I felt uneasy when the water police boarded the steamer, although the chief mate, a good fellow, named Chapman, an acquaintance of some standing, promised, if needful, to represent me as his friend. [166] They allowed me to pass unchallenged - yet I was never free from disquietude, knowing that more than one respectable inhabitant of Tasmania had been apprehended by a petty constable greedy for a bribe, and incarcerated for days in a state of terrible annoyance and suffering. Thus quiet men following an honest calling are frightened from a visit, the danger of which does not deter ruffians with evil designs. I made myself acquainted with the town and much admired the suburbs, particularly that of St. Kilda on the sea shore. The splendid and elegant public library, open to everybody, must not be forgotten - an institution hardly to be surpassed, for convenience, comfort, and even magnificence, by any in the mother country. For this the colony is indebted to a judge, Sir Redmond Barry. The Governor, Sir Charles Hotham, looking harassed and careworn, attended divine service at the cathedral, a small but neat church; a brain fever, brought on by excessive political worry, soon after carried him off. I did not hear the Bishop, Dr. Perry, (formerly a Fellow of Trinity, Cambridge) then absent in Europe. His income was represented to be only £1,000 per annum, a sum ridiculously small in such an expensive colony, where good servants, male or female will not tarry long with employers for any wages. What sober, industrious man may reasonably be expected to remain in service when he can find so many ways of gaining an independence and becoming his own master? And as young bachelors able to support a family are an important item in the population, a high premium is attached to women, who need not remain spinsters one moment longer than they choose; - does not appear an excessive stipend. Victoria resembles an American State more than an important British dependency, therefore it should have a ruler sagacious and able; the present Governor, Sir Henry Berkly, will most probably be popular and successful. Legislative enactments must receive his sanction, a Constitution similar to that of England having lately been granted, but attended with these improvements. [167]
Be it remembered, that as a pedlar is not the only person who thinks it quite right to sell what he has bought, Australian constituencies do not barter the suffrage, an Englishman's most valuable privilege, for money and drink; so that Members are returned to the Lower House, not as Whigs, Tories, or Radicals, but as able and willing to vote for any measure likely to be beneficial to the Colony, without reference to the party by whom it is introduced, and to reject a Bill not conscientiously approved, although brought in by their dearest friend; besides, the Upper Chamber is elective.
In England, possibly at some future period, a peerage descending from an ancestor will cease to be regarded as the sole necessary qualification for such all important functions. Possibly the English Upper Chamber will then also consist of Members chosen for their wisdom and integrity from those rendered by nature and education fittest for the duty; hereditary rank being no disqualification, for we need not abolish titles in order to secure a competent Upper House. Possibly in days to come "honours" will be definitely conferred (say for three lives or generations), in order that a race, perchance meanly gifted, the remote posterity of an eminent person may not enjoy an artificial superiority over their more talented fellow citizens unable to boast of a celebrated forefather. For while the existence of a class distinguished by honours is essential to our admirable social pyramid, it certainly does appear most strange that for legislative functions birth should be the principal qualification-birth, too, in a class whose very elevation has a natural and certain tendency to cause the degeneracy of its members. How many of our Peers would sit where they do were they not the sons of Peers? There exists a ready mode of exalting superior persons, but we have no method of letting down to their natural places, inferior ones. Nor, although it may be proper with affluence to sustain family dignity, is the succession of one child to the whole of his father's property thought in the Colonies to be either just or prudent. Why should a Colonial Upper House be deprived of the counsels of bishops; men elevated for ability and learning, not by an accident? These seem to be the very persons qualified for legislation. Surely every bishop, enjoying experience resulting from a kind of transportation, is entitled by his office to a voice in the Colony where he officiates. The Melbourne Council Chamber is much grander than the Sydney one, which, however, being neat and elegant possesses better accommodation for strangers. [168]
I made an excursion for a few days by way of Geelong (a handsome town on Corio "inside" Bay, forty miles to the South-West) towards the gold fields of Ballarat, but some heavy rain, followed by great heat, in combination with my uneasy feelings, and a desire once more to see Tasmania, induced me to return to Launceston by a steamer, which, on the 31st of October, carried us across the Strait, in twenty-four hours, from Heads to Heads. Having for the present resigned my intention of going to Europe, I procured another licence, and in my former humble occupation again continued to traverse the island, trade being not so brisk. Transportation having ceased, every individual in the Colony felt the loss of £400,000 flowing annually, for convict expenditure, from the Imperial Treasury. The demand from Victoria for our timber had also fallen; my accumulations, therefore, could not fairly be expected to proceed at their former rate, purchases by people with empty pockets being out of the question, so I patiently toiled on, content with smaller gains. One sultry afternoon in November, 1856, having painfully climbed a steep range (towards the north side of the island) called the "Hummock Hills," whose summit overlooks an expanse of a hundred miles in circumference, I gladly threw down my burden, and became absorbed in the beautiful extensive prospect, when a ferocious looking man, without either coat or vest, suddenly appeared from behind some rocks not ten yards off, pointing his gun at me-mine having been relinquished for a telescope, lay behind him. In his rear two more, seeming, like him, to have sprung out of the earth, also with savage eyes, silently levelled at me. Perceiving their pieces to be full cocked and their fingers on the triggers, I expected for a minute or so to fall riddled with balls, but experienced relief from the sight of handcuffs suspended at the belt of one, which told me what they were. "Well," said I, very politely, "are you going to shoot me? Why you are constables, "not moving hand or foot, because if they had killed me, they could have left my body there for the birds and animals, or easily have represented it as a "mistake," "an untoward event," like the battle of Navarino. Fortunately they knew nothing of thirty sovereigns stowed away in my belt. At last, the tallest inquired "who are you?" "Look at my licence and you will see," I quietly answered, and after a little more parley, having become satisfied that I was not one of the bushrangers (absconded since I left headquarters,) whom they were in pursuit of, they gratified me by lowering their muskets. [169] 
On their departure, I, of course, kept on the "qui vive" that evening and the two following days until I reached Launceston; there having known an honest worthy pair named Fenton, I always found their house a comfortable home. On my return to Hobart some weeks subsequently, the whole community was in a state of excitement caused by the imposition of higher taxes upon articles of daily consumption, (namely-sugar, tea, tobacco and rum,) having been proposed by the first "Chancellor of the Exchequer" or Colonial Treasurer, under the new Constitution, who found it absolutely necessary to raise a large sum of money for the public service. John Bull, whether home-bred or Colonial, always kicks at this, which the peculiar state of the island rendered more inopportune. It affected my interests; - hawkers were to pay £10 per annum, instead of £1 for the licence at a time when half of them could no longer make a living. Writing to the Editor of a daily paper, I endeavoured to show that the aristocratic members of the profession, rejoicing in the dignity of a horse and cart, might in flourishing times, perhaps afford to pay five or six pounds, but that the whole capital of many humble pedlars often did not amount to more than a few shillings, and that it was better for a woman or elderly man thus to gain an honest livelihood, than to be maintained by charity, in a colony with a population and resources so inferior to those of its sisters. A meeting having been convened (the chair at which I declined to take), it was resolved nem con to draw up a petition setting forth our grievances, and praying for re-consideration of the matter. Thereupon a Mr. Moriarty, apparently inclined to befriend our ancient and honourable body, indirect a document, describing us as public benefactors, especially to good ladies in the bush, inasmuch as without our aid they would be at a loss for tape, bobbins, laces and such like gear, &c. That gentleman learned in the law is responsible for the wording of the petition, kindly presented at my request, by Mr. Douglas, Member for Launceston, to the House of Assembly, where it was read and ordered to be printed. Being seated in the gallery I could with difficulty repress an indecorous smile, at hearing the "bobbins and laces" mentioned. [...] [170] [171] [172]
With my acquired trading knowledge, £500 now would be worth twice or thrice that sum ten years hence. A judicious investment of this small capital in particular English manufacturers would return cent. per cent. at the Antipodes within twelve or eighteen months; the amount of profits upon each transaction depending, of course, upon the time expended in realising.