« EdellinenJatka »
WITH AN ESSAY ON THE RESOURCES AND
PROSPECTS OF VICTORIA,
THE EMIGRANT AND UNEASY CLASSES
SIR ARCHIBALD MICHIE, Q.C., K.C.M.G.
AGENT GENERAL FOR VICTORIA, AND FORMERLY ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF
SAMPSON LOW, MARSTON, SEARLE, & RIVINGTON,
CROWN BUILDINGS, 188, FLEET STREET.
THE following addresses on English life in Australia were delivered from time to time in the city of Melbourne. They cover a period commencing with the earlier gold discoveries, and they close with the visit of the Duke of Edinburgh to the colony, in the year 1868.
Each address was delivered with a purpose. The first was aimed at reconciling my audience, and fellow-colonists generally, to the land in which I was speaking to them. That most of them were prosperous, and ought to have been content, was certain. That many were prosperous, and not at all content, was equally certain. "Man never is, but always to be blest." As our Government Statist informs us, more people have come to Victoria, and more people have left it, than have arrived in, or departed from any of the sister colonies. Whether leaving with a competency, or without one, the main fact remained, that for one reason or another, they betook themselves elsewhere. My object then was to show that the chances, so far as their future happiness was concerned, were all against those, who, yearning for the old land, were resolved to return to it.
My effort received a very generous criticism in the colonial press at the time, but how far it operated or may yet operate as desired, can be only matter of surmise.
The second lecture was directed against the then very rapidly growing popular appetite (during a severe commercial crisis), for what was and still is called "protection to native industry." Many of my observations were, of course, much too plain to be pleasant to a numerous section of a very crowded meeting; but I must do the Protectionist portion of my audience the justice to say of them, that I was not only not thrown out of window-the fate predicted for me by some of my friends,-but barring an occasional hiss, or an explosive "No," I was listened to with patience, and attention by all classes throughout; and of course, with exhilarating marks of applause, from those who agreed with me, who, by-the-bye, were by no means a minority to be despised, even if they were a minority at all.
Both these utterances were reported in extenso in the Melbourne journals of the day, but on coming to England, I found I had no copy of either; and so, when some time back asked by the able and assiduous secretary of the Cobden club for a copy of the second one, I was unable to comply with his request. I have since, however, obtained a copy from a friend who brought it with him from the colony, and on re-perusal it appears to me to be equally applicable to any country in which we meet with disputes and conflicts between capital and labour.
The third lecture shows, or rather strives to show, Victorians at high loyal fever heat. No language can convey to the reader an adequate description of the carnival of balls, bunting, concerts, cricket matches, horse races, pigeon shootings, kangaroo hunts, rabbit slaughterings, first-stone layings, German serenadings, corporation banquetings, Highland games (with no end of Celtic gentlemen in all their tartaned and breechless pride,) and general moral intoxication, which welcomed the arrival, and accompanied the stay of his Royal Highness in the colony. The Government voted 15,000l. for the purpose of meeting the cost of his trips up the country, and appointed a Royal Commission to superintend the expenditure. The Royal Commission, most royally regardless of parliamentary limitation, spent 30,000l. more (of course not their own money) to the back of it, to which expenditure when reported to the Assembly, that so frequently tenacious, but sometimes as careless holder of the purse-strings, graciously responded in the spirit of Mr. Toots, "Thank you; it's of no consequence: not the least consequence in the world."
It was not without just cause, therefore, that the London Spectator at the time diagnosed the colonists as suffering under "Prince on the Brain." They recovered, however, from this acute attack, and afterwards with great goodhumour joined in the laugh against themselves.
The essay on the colony which follows the lectures is written with the object of affording in as brief terms as