« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
constables and other subordinates. The merchants and tradesmen in Sydney, and many of the squatters and agriculturists also, raised the wages of their servants. Within a week, the Sydney prices of flour, tea, sugar, rice, tobacco, boots, and warm clothing, rose 25 per cent. Throughout the towns only, provisions and diggers' tools and clothing were saleable. All who could, and many who could not handle a spade or pick, were off, or preparing to be off to the gold mines ; the roads to which were crowded with travellers, from magistrates, lawyers, and merchants, to labourers and runaway sailors, mixed
up in one confused assemblage, with carriages, gigs, drays, carts, and wheelbarrows.
At this period it was much feared that the labourers would desert their vocations for gold hunting, and that all kinds of vice would be rife at the diggings: even the newspapers prognosticated the overthrow of order, and the reign of brute force. But these gloomy forebodings were speedily dispelled by the gleams of a bright future.
On the 2nd of June, Mr. Commissioner Hardy arrived at the mines, where he issued licenses, and collected fees without opposition, and turned away several sly grog sellers, and seized on their stock. Henceforth numerous police, mounted and foot, paraded the banks of the streams, where Mr. Hardy reported as much good order prevailed as in the capital itself. Few cases of drunkenness, and no Californian skirmishes occurred: only a few licensed publicans were permitted to sell fermented liquors; the Sabbath was carefully observed, the laws were respected; and the highly commendable morality and good conduct of the miners generally, strikingly contrasted with the savage violence, the Lynch law, and the brute force said to be dominant at California.
The gold fever which raged in May was of short continuance. Early in June the weather, which had been previously favourable to mining operations, set in cold and wet, flooding the creeks, filling the gold holes, and rendering the exposed life of the diggers, many of whom were camping” in, or under their drays, highly unpleasant and dangerous. Consequently, numbers were disheartened, and abandoning gold seeking in despair, returned to Sydney, giving so woful an account of their toils, privations, and want of success, that by the middle of June a complete reaction had taken place in the public mind. But although the first excitement seemed to have passed away in the colony itself, an emigration had set in from Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart Town; and more than 800 souls arrived in the colony in the course of a month. Most of these, however, were so discouraged by the accounts afloat at this period, that they either returned by the earliest opportunity, or took to pastoral or agricultural employment. By the middle of July the want of labour was no longer felt, crews had ceased to desert from their vessels, and business generally was increasing This calm, although but of short duration, was of service to the colony, and enabled all classes to perceive that anarchy and ruin was not to be dreaded on the one hand,
whereas in the whole course of the Turon the
production of gold appears to be as regular as wheat sown in a wheat field. No sloping elbows, no narrow long gorges. It does not matter where in the bed of the river or the impending banks you work, any steady working-man can with ease earn 10s. a day with the utmost regularity, and many make an average of twice or thrice this amount.
The success of the miners at the Turon and Summer Hill Creek induced the land and the stock holders in other districts, to offer rewards for the discovery of gold in the immediate neighbourhood of their property; indeed, it was generally apprehended that all labour would be
ttracted to this new source of wealth, and that all property not in the vicinity of gold mines would become much depreciated in value. This example was followed by the neighbouring colonies; and rewards, varying from several hundreds to £1000, were offered by private subscribers, and by the governments at Melbourne, Adelaide, and Hobart Town, for the discovery of new workable gold fields.