Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/212

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out in search of a suitable site for a settlement, and after exploring St. Vincent Gulf chose a position on its eastern shore, a large fertile plain bounded on the east by a mountain range, and traversed by a small river, on the banks of which they settled down, and named their infant city Adelaide, in compliment to the Queen of William the Fourth.

Whilst the first settlers were thus contending with the unexpected difficulties of their position, the London promoters of this ill-digested scheme continued their policy of puffing its alleged advantages, with the result that large numbers of deluded individuals were despatched to the antipodes before any adequate preparations had been made for their reception. These unlucky people were discharged at Port Adelaide as so much human freight, and found themselves compelled to drag their luggage and merchandise after them to the little settlement. To add to the difficulties of the situation, a most pernicious system of gambling in land orders sprang up, and to such an extent did this mischievous speculating proceed, that the future city was actually mapped out as consisting of nine square miles. It would be impossible in a cursory sketch to refer in detail to the numerous absurdities that were perpetrated by the pioneer colonists of South Australia.

Suffice it to say that the reign of speculation came to its inevitable and inglorious collapse in a very short space of time, and the usual unhappy consequences ensued. The unfortunate victims of the broken-down Wakefield theory found that they had been living all the while in airy castles of their own imagination, and had been trading on fictitious capital. They were literally reduced to the direst extremities of poverty. In the excitement of the speculation mania, the natural fertility of the soil was lost sight of, and had