Page:Life and Adventures of William Buckley.djvu/208

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

cent., is supposed to have brought down from the mines only a moderate proportion of what is actually realized. Valuing the gold at £3 per ounce, it is not perhaps an exaggerated view, that up to this date £750,000 worth has been raised within this colony; and that with respect to the future this must be considered a very low estimate indeed. The auriferous characteristics are said to be traceable over extensive areas of country.

The general desertion of the able bodied and labouring population for the gold fields has seriously inconvenienced the course of ordinary business and of social life. All building and improving operations have, with scarcely any exception, ceased. The wages of labour have risen, in many instances, threefold, and occasionally hands are not to be procured for any consideration. Many families have been left entirely destitute of servants. The crews of the shipping have, more or less in all instances, deserted, some vessels being left quite destitute. The most serious fears are entertained for the safety of the harvest. An ample crop is at this moment ripening throughout the colony; and it is apprehended that with the same force of labour at command, and the rapidly maturing effect of the climate at this season, a large proportion of the grain must be lost.

Although as regards a great variety of articles of merchandise, business may be said to have almost ceased, there has been a very spirited demand for others that happen to be suited to the new order of things in the colony. The unlimited demand for "digger's outfit" has caused extensive transactions in slop clothing, canvas and tarpaulings, tea, sugar, and flour, draft and saddle horses, drays and other vehicles. The consumption of Spirits and Tobacco has greatly increased; and with the large increase of means in the hands of successful diggers, a variety of luxuries in dress, jewellery, and other articles, has been indulged in.

To what extent the gathering of the grain crops have suffered, it as yet impossible to ascertain; but that the rate of wages in all the Australian Colonies has been seriously affected, is certain.

Little did Elliott, the Corn Law Rhymer, think, when he wrote the song—"There's a good time coming boys,—there's a good time coming,"—that the labourer,