Page:Melbourne and Mars.djvu/8

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
6
MELBOURNE AND MARS.

to give any clue to his identity. He wants his narrative to be made public, but has a horror of personal fame or notoriety.

I have decided to let the man speak in the first person whenever what he says relates his own experiences, and to let the order of the narrative be as natural and sequential as possible. But as the experiences of years will sometimes be related in as many pages, and as the material of the diaries will have to be reduced quite nine-tenths to make a handy and readable book, the language will be almost entirely my own.


CHAPTER I.


Autobiographical.

I MIGHT write a volume on the details of my early and middle life, and many of my experiences would doubtless he interesting to readers in the Australian Colonies, but my experiences during the first forty-four years of my life, though stirring and eventful enough, were common to most men. Indeed there are men whom I see whenever I go to Melbourne who have gone through more than I have in the stirring times of the gold discovery.

I was born in the year 1818 in the then small town of Blackburn in Lancashire. My parents were handloom weavers and by close attention to work on all days but St. Monday, they managed to make a fair living. Power loom weaving, at that time had not reduced the rates of payment, and taken the work out of the hands of weavers as it did a few years later. My mother was a hearty, merry, affectionate woman; she had received more than the ordinary education of her class, her father having been a shopkeeper and able to send his daughters, my mother and aunt to a boarding school for a few years.

Her marriage with my father had not been approved of by her family, but a happier marriage could scarcely have been made. My father was a thoughtful man, but his education had been neglected; he could read his Bible but even that accomplishment had been taught him by mother. He was a very sober and industrious man and entirely devoted to his work, his little garden and his family. I was the third child of a family of five. The next younger than I was a brother, the rest were sisters.

Mother had some of the instincts of a lady, and had furnished a, small front room as a parlor. On one of the walls was hung a large sampler in a glass frame; a mixture of queer pictures, as devoid of perspective as any work of Japanese art, and some Scripture texts worked in silk that had at one time been bright in colour. On a side table stood a kind of museum in glass, collected and constructed by father, and over a cabinet in the corner was a small hanging book-case. Of course there was the inevitable chest of drawers, and the centre table, and a bit of carpet or drugget on the floor, and sundry china ornaments on the mantelpiece and drawers.