Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/19

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17
YOUTH AND EARLY MANHOOD.

university scholars, tradesmen, business men, and even British peers. The Marquis of Salisbury spent some time in the Victorian goldfields.

Jacobs going to and fro with money and goods was never robbed, and never subjected to personal violence. On the contrary, he frequently speaks of the help he gets from most unlikely quarters when he gets into difficulties. On one occasion four diggers worked "up to the eyes in mud" for nearly a day extricating him and his stores, his four bullocks and his dray from a morass, and all he can prevail upon them to accept is each a bottle of beer and a cake of tobacco. Judging from Jacobs' diary, the accounts of the lawlessness of the goldfields have been much exaggerated.

In this diary a mere passing mention is made of the separation of Victoria from New South Wales. The great influx of population which occurred at this time, and a few years afterwards, does not appear to have had much effect upon the fortunes of Jacobs. He seems to have stuck to the goldfields trade too long, to have gone on with it after the rush was over, and to have made losses in the latter part of the time. For we find in the diary for 1858, on his fortieth birthday, the remarks:—"I am now forty years of age. It is said that what a man is at forty he will be all his life. If so, I shall be a poor struggling man to the end of my term; for I have never been worth a thousand pounds in my life, although I have had as good chances as many of the men who have made fortunes. Too soon or too late I have ever been. If I had given up this travelling business two years ago and let the debts slide, I had been hundreds of pounds in pocket."

He gives up the goldfields, leaves more active and enterprising men the work of following up the new rushes, and comes back to town. His children are getting useful in the store, and his wife proves herself the better business man of the two. As a result, he is at liberty to devote attention to any other pursuit by which he can earn a bit of money. So he commences as a commission agent, and now thirty years later he is still so engaged.

No breach, ever happened between Jacobs and his wife, although she took the lead in the city business, and ran it for over twenty years with the help of the children. The very saddest pages in his diaries are those in which he records the death of his wife, which occurred in his sixty-fifth year.

The business which he founded, and which his wife put her life into, is carried on in the city to this day by one of his children.

Taken as a whole the life appears to be a commonplace one; just a straight and simple life such as might be lived by anyone. Had this been all, however, the story of Jacobs would never have been lifted out of the dusty obscurity of his accumulated diaries.