Where is the Austral Fatherland?
Behold it here, that mighty land!
Where Tasman's island sleeps at ease,
Far north toward the Timor seas;
From the great barrier's coral shoals,
To where the Indian ocean rolls;
From coral sea to ocean sand—
That is the Austral Fatherland. —Australian Marseillaise.
He has even gone so far as to reproach me with my poverty—a charge truly acceptable to a philosopher, and one to which I readily plead guilty. For poverty has long been the handmaid of philosophy; frugal, temperate, contented with little, eager for praise, averse from the things sought by wealth, safe in her ways, simple in her requirements, in her counsels a promoter of what is right. No one has she ever puffed up with pride, no one has she corrupted by the enjoyment of power, no one has she maddened with tyrannical ambition; for no pampering of the appetite or of the passions does she sigh, nor can she indulge it. But it is your fosterings of wealth who are in the habit of perpetrating these disgraceful excesses, and others of a kindred nature. If you review all the greatest enormities that have been committed in the memory of mankind, you will not find a single poor man among the perpetrators; whilst, on the other hand, in the number of illustrious men hardly any of the rich are to be found; poverty has nurtured from his very cradle every individual in whom we find anything to admire and commend. Poverty, I say—she who in former ages was the foundress of all cities, the inventress of all arts, she who is guiltless of all offence, who is lavish of all glory, who has been honored with every praise among all nations. For this same poverty it was that, among the Greeks, showed herself just in Aristides, humane in Phoenician, resolute in Epaminondas, wise in Socrates, and eloquent in Homer. I could, indeed, raise an argument with you about the very name itself, and I could show that none of us are poor who do not wish for superfluities, and who possess the things that are necessary, which, by nature, are but few indeed. For he has the most who desires the least; he who wants but little is most likely to have as much as he wants.—Apuleius
About the middle of the sixteenth century the captain of a French vessel voyaging in the southern seas landed on the western coast of Australia, not for purposes of trade or settlement, but merely to gratify his curiosity. The captain must have happened on an unfavorable spot; for his report was in substance as follows: Extending in all directions as far as the eye could reach were dense forests of gum-exuding trees, in which were neither fruits nor herbs nor anything that would support existence. There were strange looking animals with short fore-legs and long sinuous hind-legs, carrying their young in pouches and sitting squat on the ground, from which, when startled, they rose with tremendous leaps, jumping twenty feet or more at a single bound. As to the natives, they were so nearly akin to the beasts in habits and appearance that it was doubtful whether they should be classed with the human or brute creation. While this was the first recorded discovery, there are allusions at least as early as the days of Alexander to a Terra Australis, or south land, at some future day to be revealed. In the writings of Strabo and Pliny there is also mention of this mysterious region, while Ptolemy believed it to be the southern bound of the Indian Ocean, which he supposed to be an inland sea. Such were the popular notions of Australia until after the close of the Middle Ages, though travelers in China, and especially Marco Polo, brought back reports of a vast insular continent toward the southeast.
The accidental discovery of Torres, who early in the seventeenth century sailed through the strait which bears his name, was followed by Dutch and English explorations, prominent among which were those of Tassman, Dampier, and Cook. On the 20th of January, 1777, the last named of these navigators planted the British flag on the shore of Botany Bay, so called by one of the savans of the expedition on account of the number and novelty of the botanical specimens in the neighborhood; the extensive coast line explored by Cook, together with the country back of it, receiving the name of New South Wales. Returning homeward, the latter spoke in glowing terms of the sunny skies, the pure, elastic atmosphere, and the wondrous plant-life of the Austral land, his statements leading to further expeditions and to further discoveries.
After the loss of her American colonies, Great Britain was in need of a place to which to transport the criminals formerly shipped to the western plantations and settlements. Botany Bay was the spot selected, mainly through the representations of Cook; and thence went, toward the close of 1787, a fleet of eleven sail, with more than a thousand persons on board, the most of them being convicts. Arthur Phillip, the first governor of New South Wales, was in charge of the expedition. But the site was found to be unsuitable; the anchorage was unsafe; fresh water was scarce, and the narrow strip of open land that skirted the shore was surrounded with swamp and forest. Proceeding a few miles northward in search of a more favorable spot, Phillip entered Port Jackson, named after the sailor who first described it, and then supposed to be a small, unsheltered inlet. But after passing between its lofty heads, he found himself in one of the most spacious and beautiful harbors in the world, its waters widening into a broad, unruffled expanse, studded with wooded islets and indented with rock-encircled coves. To the inmost basin of this harbor the flotilla was transferred; tents were erected on the shore adjacent; and thus was founded, on the 26th of January, 1778, the city of Sydney, the oldest of Australian settlements and at present the second in population and wealth.
Other colonies were presently established—those later known as Victoria and South and West Australia—and other settlements founded, as Melbourne on Hobson bay and Adelaide near the gulf of St. Vincent, though for more than a quarter of a century the inhabited portion was limited to the plain adjacent to Sydney, some fifty miles in width, between the Blue mountains and the shore of the south Pacific. Of the earlier explorers, many lost their lives in this almost impassable range, covered with trackless forests to a height of more than 3,000 feet, and intersected with precipitous ravines. Nevertheless explorations were continued, and are still continued, the results of which, though yet far from complete, may thus be briefly stated.
The longest line that can be drawn in Australia is from east to west and 2,600 miles in length, the extreme width from north to south being nearly 2,000 miles, and the area some 2,000,000,000 acres, or about the same as that of the United States excluding the territory of Alaska. In its 9,000 miles of shore line there are few good harbors, except on the northern side, where the Gulf of Carpentaria forms an opening 400 miles long, and as much in width, though less protected than other and smaller inlets. It is probable that in an age not far remote, as geological ages are computed, the interior was the bed of an inland sea, the mountains forming the cliffs and plateaus of many island groups, such as those of the Pacific archipelagos. In support of this theory are the thinness of the soil and the erratic course of the rivers, several of which, after running far inward from the coast ranges, lose themselves in swamps or shallow lakes, their channels in the dry season become mere chains of ponds. At least two-thirds of the surface is little better than desert. In the eastern section are by far the most valuable lands, and in general terms it may be stated that there are no large areas that can be utilized, even for the grazing of sheep, more than a few hundred miles from the coast.
In a continent extending over nearly 40 degrees of longitude and 30 of latitude there might be expected a great diversity of climate; but such is not the case, except as to rainfall, which varies from 40 inches or more on portions of the coast to an occasional sprinkling in the interior deserts. In Australia it is, as the saying goes, always a flood or a drought, the latter sometimes lasting for two or three years in succession, and attended with enormous destruction of crops and livestock; for there is no irrigation worthy of the name, nor is irrigation possible in a land where the rivers are few and small, and where snow is seen only on the highest mountain peaks. The mean annual temperature of Sydney is 66 degrees, of Melbourne about 58degrees; but in both these cities the thermometer occasionally rises above 100 degrees in the shade, and far above that point in the interior, hot winds laden with dust and thence called “brickfielders" blowing for two or three days at a time. These are often followed by violent electric disturbances accompanied with torrents of rain, one of the severest ever known occurring in January 1886, when towns were swept out of existence in a night, and their neighborhood for many miles around was ablaze with globes and streams of light moving in waves like an aurora, but with awful intensity. In other respects the country is remarkable; Christmas is the Australian midsummer; in winter the trees shed their bark instead of their foliage, the leaves expanding vertically so as to afford but little shade, while there are fruits that grow with the stone outside, and animals that combine the properties of the bird and beast creation.
Of the 10,000 species of plants included in the Australian flora there are none that will support life, except wild fruits and edible roots, even these being few. The forests are of vast extent, and in places the forest scenery is strikingly magnificent, especially in the Blue Mountains, where is a landscape view with waterfalls approaching in grandeur the famed Yosemite of the Californian sierra. In addition to the omnipresent gum-tree, there are many varieties of merchantable timber, as the Moreton bay pine, the iron-bark, the oak, red cedar, rosewood, sandal-wood, and satin-wood. Of animals the kangaroo, opossum, dingo, and native bear are the most common, the last being undersized and resembling a sloth in its habits. Wild ducks and other aquatic fowl are plentiful, the black swan being here so little of a rarity as to belie the Latin proverb. The emu, now almost extinct, resembles somewhat the African ostrich; there are countless swarms of noisy parrots and cockatoos, some of the former exceedingly beautiful; but more beautiful than any is the lyre-bird, belonging to the same order as the bird of paradise, and so-called from its tail feathers, which spread in the form of a lyre. The coast and inland waters of Australia, and especially those of New South Wales, are abundantly stocked with fish. With metals and minerals, both precious and useful, the country is well supplied, and these are as yet but in the infancy of their development.
From about 1,000 in 1787 the population of Australia had increased to 175,000 in 1851, at which date there returned to its shores, among other disappointed gold-seekers from California, one Edward Hargraves by name. Happening on the neighborhood of Summerhill creek, in the Macquarie plains, a few leagues north of Bathurst, he observed there geological formations closely resembling those which he had seen in California placers, and selecting the most promising spot, straightway began to dig.
The stroke of his pick has become historic, and has also been exceedingly profitable; for it has resulted thus far in the addition of $1,750,000,000 to the worlds stock of the precious metals. A few months later other fields were discovered, as those of Ballarat, Bendigo, and Anderson creek, all within a hundred miles of Melbourne. There were disclosed in New South Wales, the deposits known to exist many years before, but kept secret for fear of their effect on a penal colony. The result of these discoveries was similar to that which was witnessed in California two or three years before, settlers from far and near deserting their farms and shops by thousands to search for the treasure which all men covet. The news was quickly spread throughout the world, and from a hundred ports ships laden with passengers, stores, and implements were headed for Hobson bay, where presently were repeated the scenes of 1849 in the city and harbor of the Golden Gate.
Victoria has produced about 80 percent of the entire yield of Australian gold. New South Wales contributing less than 13 percent, though in the latter colony the formations in which gold is usually found cover an area of 70,000 square miles. But her capitalists are loath to venture their money, and her miners and metallurgists have much to learn. Says the under secretary of the mining department in a recent report, "When account is taken of the number of mines standing idle because we do not know how to treat the ore, and the value of the metals that are wasted in the treatment of ores through ignorance of the methods by which such metals could be saved, some idea may be formed of the amount which our output might under favorable circumstances be reasonably expected to reach.”
Among historic nuggets the first one was found by a sheepherder in New South Wales in 1851. It was sold for £1,000, or about one-fifth of its value, for it weighed more than 100 pounds; but this was perhaps all the better for the shepherd, who within a few weeks returned to his task after expending the entire sum in carousing, as is squandered nearly all the money earned or otherwise obtained by Australian shepherds. More sensible were the two laborers who a score of years later, while resting beneath a tree in one of the Victoria gold fields, chanced on a £10,000 nugget lying loose, and straightway lodged it in a bank. Sarah Sands was the name given to one of the largest lumps unearthed at Ballarat, weighing 150 pounds and worth more than £6,000, though a 184 pound nugget is said to have come from that camp, while rumor hath it that in New South Wales was found in 1872 a lump of solid gold weighing 640 pounds. But here we will stop; for nugget stories, like fish stories must be taken with certain grains of allowance.
While the alluvial gold fields of Australia have for the most part been abandoned, quartz-mining maintains a diminished but very considerable yield. Victoria still promises to add largely year by year to the £270,000,000 already produced in that colony, ores assaying less than a quarter of an ounce to the ton being worked at a profit under careful treatment and honest management. In New South Wales it is the belief of mining experts that the surface of the country has been merely scratched, and certain it is that new discoveries are constantly being made in localities supposed to have been thoroughly exploited. Many companies are working in a quiet way and paying handsome dividends, about which nothing is said. Not long ago 115 pounds weight of gold was extracted from 10 tons of rock, a slab of vein stuff that weighed about a quarter of a ton yielding £2,000. In another mine, from 436 tons of ore were produced 27,000 ounces, valued at £93,000; but these are of course exceptional instances. Queensland had in 1895 one of the largest gold mines in the world, producing to that date about 60,000,000 ounces and paying as much as £1,000,000 a year in dividends. Mount Morgan, it is called, the location being south of the town of Rockhampton. Of ore yielding from three to twelve ounces there were said to be many millions of tons in sight, though the gold was so finely distributed as to be invisible to the naked eye. In the peninsula of Cape York, not far from the extreme north-eastern point of Queensland and of Australia, there are believed to be deposits of the precious metals still awaiting the advent of the prospector and the capitalist, far richer than any yet developed.
New South Wales takes the lead in production of silver and silver-lead ores, exporting to the value of some £3,000,000 a year, apart from those which are worked at home. Between 1886 and 1892 there were disbursed by the Broken Hill mines, accidentally discovered by the boundary rider of a sheep farm nearly, £4,000,000 in dividends, or at the rate of £260 to each £9 share of stock, the total yield up to the latter date being 36,500,000 ounces of silver and 150,000 tons of lead. If such results had been achieved in the mines which have brought poverty on thousands of Californians, the world would never have heard the last of it; yet while the Comstock lode is world-famous , there are comparatively few who have heard even that silver mines exist in the Australias.
The total production of copper, up to 1895, mainly from the Burra Burra and Moonta mines in South Australia, was valued at £28,000,000, the colony exporting in former years a vast amount of high-grade ores, while Queensland was also a large producer; but with a fall in copper from £170 to less than £50 a ton, and also through the manipulation of speculative syndicates, the yield has greatly diminished. Tin worth £600,000 is produced in a twelve-month, and of this a considerable proportion is shipped in ingots to the United States. In New South Wales alone there are more than 100 coal mines, whose product has already realized more than £30,000,000, the annual output varying from 3,000,000 to 4,000,000 tons a year. The best mines are in the neighborhood of Newcastle, a seaport north of Sydney, the average price of coal at the mouth of the pit not exceeding the equivalent of $2.25 a ton, though the earnings of the miner are much larger than in the United States.
Among the free settlers who landed in Sydney in 1803 was Captain John Macarthur to whom, as is related, King George III presented ten fine merino sheep. Macarthur had travelled much, in Saxony among other lands, and he observed that Australian grasses resembled closely those of that famous wool-growing country. Purchasing, therefore, a few choice rams and ewes imported from Cape colony he secured a tract of land and applied himself to the business of rearing fine-wool sheep. Here was the inception of the greatest of Australian industries, Macarthur's score or two of sheep proving to be many a golden fleece; for there are now at least 120,000,000 sheep in Australia, representing, with the stations or farms on which they are pastured, a value of £450,000,000. Nearly half this number are in New South Wales, and here as elsewhere are many squatters, as they are termed, with incomes of from £20,000 to £100,000 a year, while of a pastoral king who is the owner of 30 stations in various counties and colonies, it is said that his annual revenue seldom falls short of £200,000. Among the larger class of squatters man who makes less than £10,000 a year considers himself in danger of the almshouse, 50,000 acres being considered as quite a small station, while there are not a few of 1,000,000 acres or more, leased from the government at an average yearly rate of less than a halfpenny an acre. As a sheep can be fed on five or six acres and will yield at each clip several shillings' worth of wool, it will be seen that there is room for profit in the business. But losses are frequent and severe; in seasons of protracted drought a band of 2,000 or 3,000 sheep can be had for the asking, without money or price, by anyone who will drive them away; for there is neither food nor water to keep them alive. Moreover, the rich Australian squatter is a man of extravagant habits and much given to hospitality, expending yearly many thousands of pounds on his guests, his family, and himself. Yet he may have begun his career with only a few hundred pounds of capital, while some have begun with nothing, taking up land and purchasing a flock of sheep on credit.
Cattle farming, though on a large scale and yielding fair returns, is a less frequent and profitable industry. There are about 12,000,000 horned cattle in Australia, or more than three per capita of the population, a larger proportion than in any other of the old or new world continents. While large quantities of frozen and tinned meats are shipped to Great Britain, yet larger quantities go to waste, stock being killed by millions in seasons of drought, and sold for whatever their hides, pelts, wool, and tallow are worth. A single firm in New South Wales has facilities for handling 1,500,000 carcasses a year, and there are many smaller establishments; for the growth of this industry is limited only by the demand. After providing for local requirements, at least 250,000 cattle and 5,000,000 sheep could be exported yearly in the form of meats from the natural increase in flocks and herds.
The total value of all agricultural products varies from £25,000,000 to £30,000,000 a year, or an aver age of some £3 per acre under crop, wheat ranking first with a production worth £6,000,000; maize about £1,500,000, and barley, oats and other cereals £2,500,000; while of hay the yield is worth £5,000,000 and of vegetables £3,500,000.
Of wheat 10 bushels an acre is considered a fair crop; of maize 25, and of oats 20 bushels. There are few large grain farmers in Australia, most of the agricultural holdings being less than 150 acres, while in New South Wales, the oldest of the colonies, not one percent of its area is under cultivation. Most of the land is leased at a nominal rent to men engaged in the raising of livestock; but the leases are short, and all pastoral districts are subject to preemption by bona fide settlers at moderate rates and on payments long deferred. Of fruits there is an enormous crop, the product of orchards and vineyards being estimated at £4,000,000 a year, though for want of markets, much of it is fed to hogs and more; is left to rot on the ground. Manufactures, though rapidly increasing, are not as yet of large amount, and almost entirely for home consumption. But of the resources, industries, and commerce of the various colonies further mention will be made elsewhere in Miscellany of this chapter. Meanwhile let us turn to the cities and towns of the southern continent, some of them already of metropolitan rank.
From a mere convict settlement, founded as I have said in 1788, Sydney has developed into a city of 425,000 inhabitants, and with a large volume of commerce, industries, and wealth, imports and exports exceeding £50,000,000 a year, while the assessed value of property is at the rate of 500 per capita, and money is at times so plentiful in the banks that they refuse to pay interest on new deposits. "The city of a hundred bays" it has been called; nor is the title undeserved; for in its harbor, extending fifteen miles in one direction and nine in another, are innumerable sheltered coves. On one of these, named Sydney cove, near the head of which is the business center was built, the Circular quay, the largest of many wharves, and with accommodation for scores of ships. While there are many narrow and tortuous streets, flanked with the old-fashioned buildings in which the earlier colonists were content to dwell, others, laid out on regular lines, are bordered with handsome and costly structures, granite and polished marble being largely used among other ornamental details, betokening the wealth and taste of the community. There are many beautiful suburbs, and parks and recreation grounds are numerous, chief among them being the Domain, with its sightly botanic gardens and aviary, where nature and art combine in forming one of the most attractive public resorts in the world.
In what is known as the inner Domain, overlooking the harbor and in the midst of ornamental gardens and park-like scenery, is Government house, designed in part by the architect of Buckingham palace. In this residence of the viceroy, resembling externally a castle rather than a viceregal mansion, the state apartments are tastefully decorated, and the private rooms furnished with due regard to comfort and elegance. Most of the modern public buildings are in imitation of the classic style, though somewhat florid, especially the town hall, in which is the largest assembly room in Australia, capable of seating 5,000 persons. The post-office is a stately edifice, 353 feet in length, 110 feet at its widest point, and surmounted by a tower whose summit is 245 feet above the pavement. Its cost was about £300,000, and in design it is largely individual, as are not a few of its neighbors; for in Australia sameness and deformity of plan are not considered, as in the United States, essential to government architecture. The Lands office, on which £200,000 was expended, is a freestone structure of the Composite order, 200 by 280 feet, fronting on four thoroughfares, surrounded by a handsome peristyle and capped with a large octagonal dome. For the off ices of the colonial secretary and the secretary of public works was erected at an outlay of £130,000 a building which for symmetry of proportion and elegance of detail may be termed the architectural gem of the metropolis. The museum, with its mineral and other collections was designed, as a miniature reproduction of the British museum; the Catholic cathedral is the finest of church edifices and the university is a Gothic composition with a spacious and lofty hall whose roof presents one of the finest specimens of the carver's art.
There are many tasteful villas in the outskirts of Sydney, and in the city itself are imposing business blocks, with shops and hotels that would be no discredit to a European metropolis, though the days are not long gone by when there was not a single hostelry ranking above the second class; not a single restaurant of any kind, nor a single mile of cable-road.
Of late the people have awakened in a measure from the lethargy of earlier days. Population has more than doubled within the last quarter of a century, and wealth has increased three or four fold, the capitalized value of real property, including the immediate suburbs, exceeding £120,000,000 and the rental £6,500,000. Yet, as compared with the Americans, and even with neighboring communities, they are an easy-going and somnolent folk, lacking in enterprise and ambition. Between three and four o'clock business is over for the day, whereupon everyone devotes himself to his favorite recreation; some to the cricket field in Hyde Park, others to yachting or boating and yet others, to driving or horseback riding. Public holidays are numerous and universally celebrated, while never a weekday passes in the summer season but steamers laden with holiday makers speed across the harbor to some favorite picnic ground. Living is cheaper than in the United States, so that a bachelor can get along comfortably on £100 a year, and on £150 he may marry if so inclined, his wife expending on herself not more than £15 or £20 a year, and with that sum dressing in neater and more elegant attire than the daughter of a millionaire in some countries. Sydney is one of the most quiet and orderly of towns; for while a large proportion of the inhabitants are the offspring or descendants of convicts, these are among the wealthiest, best educated, and best behaved of citizens, their estates coming largely by inheritance from men who, after serving their sentence, received grants of land, which after the gold discovery commanded fabulous prices.
Brisbane, the capital of Queensland, is the daughter of New South Wales, both city and district, the latter five times the size of the United Kingdom, belonging politically to the mother colony until 1859. From 25,000 inhabitants at that date, the population of Queensland has increased to more than 500,000, about one-fourth of whom are residents of Brisbane and its suburbs on the river of that name, not far from its outlet into Moreton bay. While there are no very imposing edifices, there are many buildings of generous proportions and sightly aspect; nor is there anything wanting that is essential to social or business life. The clubs and churches, the educational, philanthropic, and charitable institutions are worthy of a larger and older community; there are a score of at least of daily or weekly journals; there is a large and rapidly increasing commerce, and there is regular steam communication with other Australian ports, especially with Sydney, some 500 miles to the south.
In 1835 a party of adventurers crossing Bass strait from Tasmania, or Van Diemen's land as then it was called, built on the opposite shore, near the banks of a small stream named the Yarra Yarra a cluster of wooden huts, supporting themselves by fishing and raising such meager crops as the neighboring soil would produce. Thus was founded the city of Melbourne, the metropolis of the Australias, and among the largest and most thriving commercial seaports in the world, from whose harbor of Port Phillip—resembling rather an inland sea, for in its center no land is visible—gold has been shipped to the value of hundreds of millions of pounds. Melbourne with its suburbs, where are now the homes of some 550,000 people, was described by Anthony Trollope as "one of the most successful cities on the face of the earth;" and well it deserves that title; for beneath its clear, bright sky is everywhere the appearance of prosperity and comfort,—spacious and well kept thoroughfares, parks, and pleasure grounds lined or surrounded with elegant and costly residences, business blocks, banks, and public buildings, in which is represented no small portion of the £650,000,000 of capital accumulated in the Australasian colonies.
The city proper is built on the slopes and summits of two parallel hills, together with the valley between them, where is the business quarter, with its principal thoroughfares go feet wide and a furlong apart, between which are narrower streets. Around the city and within a radius of five or six miles from the general post-office is a circle of populous suburbs, many of them forming independent municipalities, and not a few with streets and shops almost as busy as those of the business center. Parks, squares, and gardens are numerous, and some of them are lavishly decorated, Fitzroy gardens, for instance, in the very heart of the metropolis, containing avenues of oak and elm separated by Fern-tree gully, and with summerhouses, fountains, ponds, miniature Greek temples, and replicas of famous statuary. There is also vacant land for sale to those who are willing to pay £40,000 or £50,000 for half-acre allotments, which sold in 1837 for £35 apiece. Thus it is that the capital of Victoria, with only one-tenth the population of the capital of Great Britain, occupies an area nearly half as large.
No city of its size, and few cities anywhere in the world, contain so many handsome public buildings as Melbourne; San Francisco, for example, with similar origin and much greater natural advantages, being altogether unworthy of comparison in this and other respects. The oldest and one of the finest is the post-office, though as yet incomplete, for its plan provides for an addition to be used as the headquarters of the telegraph system under government control. In the town-hall is a chamber with seating capacity for 3,000 persons, and with a colossal organ on which afternoon performances are given. For the law-courts an imposing structure has recently been erected, its elaborate facades, 300 feet in length, surmounted by a lofty cupola resembling that of the capitol at Washington. The new houses of parliament with their freestone fronts, their Doric colonnade, and rich interior decorations, form a plain but dignified composition.
The treasury and mint are well-proportioned edifices, the latter adding millions of sovereigns a year to the gold circulation of the colony. In a structure remarkable chiefly for hugeness of dimensions are the principal government offices. The public library is a creditable specimen of colonial architecture. On the lower story are sculpture and picture galleries containing reproductions and original works of art, with many thousands of engravings, photographs, and illustrations of the industrial arts. On the upper floor are 150,000 volumes arranged in recesses provided for every branch of literature, and where the visitor may roam at will so long as he keeps silence and replaces books where he found them. The university is housed in a picturesque group of no great size, the finest being Wilson hall, which divides with the Scotch kirk the architectural honors of Melbourne. The Anglican and catholic cathedrals are among the best of many church buildings; and there are colleges, hospitals, theaters, hotels, and other edifices in keeping with a city of metropolitan rank.
There are other towns on this inland sea named Port Phillip, chief among which is Geelong, coexistent with Melbourne as a settlement, and pleasantly situated on the western arm of the bay. Its streets are regular and spacious, and there are many stately buildings, with parks, botanical gardens, and other adjuncts such as befit a town that was once the rival of Melbourne. Less than sixty miles northwest of Geelong and connected with it by rail is Ballarat, "the golden city" it has been termed, and as Anthony Trollope remarked more than a score of years ago, "in point of architectural excellence and civilized comfort the metropolis of the Australian gold-fields." Instead of searching for low-grade ore, as now they do at a depth of more than 2,000 feet, the miners of olden days were accustomed to take out several thousand pounds from claims a few feet square, a single tubful of earth yielding as much as £3,225. Not far away is Bendigo, the center of an auriferous district extending over 150 square miles, and containing immense deposits of gold-bearing quartz.
Adelaide, the capital and only important city of South Australia, is built on the banks of the Torrens, a few miles from its outlet into the gulf of St. Vincent. Though small, it is one of the most sightly of cities, with a background of wooded mountains 2,500 feet in height, while almost in its center the river, spanned by several bridges, divides the residence and business sections, the former containing the neatest of villas interspersed with churches and colleges. Many of the public edifices were erected by Melbourne architects, and are in excellent taste, especially the town-hall, court-house, post-office, and museum, where are large collections of minerals and specimens in natural history. Worthy of mention also are the new houses of parliament and the university building, the latter a Gothic structure with spacious hall and lecture rooms; nor should we forget the park lands which encircle the town, nearly 2,000 acres in extent, and the botanical gardens in the eastern suburb, the pride of the South Australian. There is a clean, fresh look about Adelaide, with its vine-clad residences, its perfect drainage system, and its abundance of pure water, making it probably the healthiest city on the continent.
Perth, like Sydney, was founded as a convict settlement, though transportation to western Australia ceased in 1868, and to New- South Wales thirty years before, the people of Victoria threatening to land a cargo of their own criminals on British shores for each one that should be sent from Britain to the former colon}'. Nearly one-half of the 60,000 inhabitants of western Australia reside in Perth or Freemantle,, the former, built partly with convict labor, being the capital city. It has many commodious buildings, both public and private, including protestant and catholic cathedrals, a town-hall, library, state grammar school, government off ices, and the official residence of the governor.
Tasmania, originally a penal colony founded in 1803 as a branch of the New South Wales establishment is now the home of thousands, of contented and prosperous farmers, whose thrifty homesteads, orchards, and fields of grain, in valleys and plateaus surrounded with verdure-clad hills, recall the beauties of English landscape scenery. Well does it deserve its title of "the garden of Australia;" for here can be raised all fruits and plants that thrive on British soil, together with the vine, the fig, and other semi-tropical products. Wheat averages 17 bushels and oats nearly 30 bushels to the acre, while of potatoes four or five tons are an average yield, and on the northwest coast as much may be harvested from a single rood of land. In 1895 the island contained about 175,000 horned cattle and 1,600,000 sheep, while the country, abounds with game and the coast and inland waters with fish. Of its mineral resources I have already spoken, and these, in common with others, need only capital and enterprise for their profitable development.
In beauty of site there are few more favored cities than Hobart Town, the capital, built on more hills than Rome itself, and overlooking the stately stream of the Derwent a few miles above its outlet. There are many churches, chief among which are the catholic and protestant cathedrals; there are charitable institutions supported by the state, and in the business quarter are several banks; for there are many rich men in Hobart Town, notwithstanding its sleepy and self-contented aspect. The public buildings are adjacent to each other, and in the suburbs is Government house, a castellated mansion whose grounds adjoin the botanic gardens. Launceston, on the northern and opposite side of the colony, is connected by rail with the capital and by steamer with Melbourne which can be reached in a few hours' trip. It has also its public buildings, its town-hall, hospitals, library, theater, and the rest, one of the oldest structures being the Episcopal Church erected in 1824. In the railroad journey across the island, though made to better advantage by coach, as in earlier days, is some of the finest scenery that human eye can rest upon.
New Zealand is also noted for its magnificent landscape views, grand rather than beautiful; for the foliage is of somber hue, forest-clad mountains covering a large proportion of the North island, while in the South island the Southern Alps and other ranges occupy four-fifths of its area. On their eastern side are extensive and fertile plains; on their western slope are inexhaustible stores of mineral wealth, and on the southwestern coast fiords, long narrow and deep, encircled with snow-clad peaks, give to this region all the sublimity of Norwegian or Alaskan scenery. There is an abundant rainfall; rivers and lakes are numerous and in all portions of the country are running streams of the purest water. The climate is equable in the main, and with no great extremes of heat or cold, though of course with the usual variations caused by latitude, elevation, and exposure, the mean annual temperature of the entire colony being 63 degrees in summer and 48 degrees in winter. It is a healthy land one of the healthiest in the world, the death rate not exceeding 11 per 1,000, or very much less than in Great Britain or Australia.
While the resources and industries of New Zealand and Australia have much in common, there is little in common as to their fauna and flora. In the former country not only are marsupials unknown but there are no indigenous animals of any kind except the native dog and rat. There are about 140 species of birds peculiar to New Zealand, including the moa, a huge wingless creature of the genus dinornis, believed to have been as much as twelve feet high, but now extinct.
The eucalyptus, which covers so large a portion of the Australian continent, is unknown in New Zealand; but in its place is the Kauri pine together with 120 species of indigenous evergreens, among which are many of economic value. Wide tracts are covered with grasses suitable for the pasturage of cattle and sheep, the former being at least 1,000,000 and the latter 25,000,000 in number. Including the very large area sown with imported grasses, there are 11,000,000 acres under crop, and there is more than that quantity of good agricultural land still at the disposal of whosoever will purchase it from the crown. Of wheat an average yield is 23 bushels, and of oats and barley from 28 to 30 bushels an acre. Minerals are widely distributed, the production of gold being at the rate of nearly £1,000,000 a year, of coal £400,000, and there are valuable deposits of copper, iron, lead, zinc, and antimony, for the most part still untouched.
Auckland is the largest town, containing about one-fifth of the 325,000 inhabitants of the North Island. It is a thriving little seaport and is surrounded with thriving villages, with which it is connected by rail. Among its principal buildings are the governor's mansion and the cathedral, a wharf nearly half a mile in length affording excellent accommodation for shipping. Christ church on South island which, together with Stewart Island to the south contains nearly 400,000 people is a railroad center in the midst of the great Canterbury plain. It is also a prosperous agricultural town with many handsome buildings, and connected with it by rail is its port of Lyttleton. Dunedin, on Otago harbor, has a considerable shipping and local trade, its customs revenue amounting to some £500,000 a year. It is beautifully situated amid an amphitheater of hills and has wide and well paved streets, built at great expense through swamps and ridges. Among its many fine edifices are the Presbyterian churches, the University of Otago and the museum, where is an exhaustive collection of New Zealand flora and fauna. There are many other towns in this prosperous colony, where poverty is rare and destitution unknown; but as one is like unto another, they need not here be mentioned in detail.
In the light of recent events the Hawaiian Islands have become of more than usual interest, especially to Americans, among whom their history, physical features, resources, and products are too well known to require extended description. As to their annals, they differ not from those of many other lands which have fallen under foreign domination under the name of a protectorate or such, euphemistic phrase as may cloak the iniquity of taking by force what belongs to another. First came the missionaries to convert some 140,000 natives, now reduced to less than one-fourth of that number through the importation of European vices. These they termed savages though a light-hearted and good-natured folk, and leading a far more natural life than the missionaries themselves; naked but not ashamed, and subsisting almost without labor on the spontaneous fruits of the earth. In the wake of the missionaries followed traders and capitalists, picking up all that could be had for little or nothing in the way of lands and commodities. Finally came revolution, with proposed annexation to some foreign power.
The islands are mainly of volcanic origin, and most of them are extremely mountainous; but there are large areas of fertile land especially suitable for the production of sugar. Coffee, fruits, and wool are also among exports averaging perhaps $12,000,000 a year, against imports of half that amount, the trade being almost entirely with the United States and to a small extent with Australia, a regular and subsidized line of steamers connecting the islands with both these countries and also with New Zealand. There is a moderate volume of internal commerce, and there are about 60 miles of railroad and 300 of telegraph line, the laying of a cable between the various islands and thence extended to the American and Australian continents being one of the projects under contemplation in 1897. Government is expensive for so small a community, less than 100,000 in all; and here was the principal cause of the revolution; for a large proportion of the revenue, sometimes exceeding $2,000,000 a year, was appropriated for the expenses of the royal family, whose manner of living was somewhat extravagant.
Hawaii is the largest of the group, its area of 4,200 square miles covering two-thirds of their entire surface. It is almost entirely occupied with the slopes of volcanic mountains with gentle ascent and forest-clad to a height of 6,000 feet. Mauna Loa and Kilauea are its active volcanoes, the latter being the largest in the world, its crater, nearly ten miles in circumference and with vertical walls 1,000 feet in height filled with a lake of molten lava. An eruption of Mauna Loa in 1868 was attended with earthquakes and a tidal wave 40 feet in height, causing much loss of life and property, while in the same year another wave, crossing the Pacific from the coast of South America, not only struck the islands but made itself felt as far as the coasts of Australia and New Zealand. Hilo, the largest settlement, on an open roadstead of that name protected by a coral reef, is little better than a village, around which are many thriving plantations.
Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, is remarkable rather for the beauty of its site than for its buildings, many of which are one-story frame houses, and not a few are merely huts of grass. Nevertheless, it has its royal palace, formerly the residence of the king; its churches, business structures, and benevolent associations, the foreign and especially the American element being the dominant power in the land Oahu is a beautiful island, its peaks, cliffs, and cascades, its valleys and lower mountain slopes clad with tropical vegetation present all the elements of the picturesque. Kauai is also famous for its scenery, and for its fertile soil of decomposed lava. In Maui is the extinct volcano of Haleakala, that is to say “the home of the sun" more than 10,000 feet in height, with a crater 2,700 feet from top to rim, and a surface area of nearly 16 square miles. In Molokai, with its leper settlement; in Lanai, Niihau, and other islands, there is nothing that need further detain us.
Miscellany—Of some of the innumerable islands and island groups between the Asiatic, Australian, and American continents mention has been made in the chapter on Central and Southeastern Asia. In conclusion a few words may be added as to the Fiji islands, more than 200 in number, the largest, named Viti Leru, having an area about equal to that of Jamaica. The native population exceeds 100,000, though rapidly decreasing, as appears to be the fate of Polynesian races when brought into contact with Europeans, of whom there are several thousands, with 12,000 or 15,000 laborers, largely imported for the sugar plantations under contracts which virtually make slaves of them. There are perhaps £5,000,000 of foreign capital invested, mainly in sugar industries, the trade of about £1,000,000 a year being almost exclusively with Australasia.
Australasia, it is claimed, is the richest country in the world; private wealth, to say nothing of unsold government lands and public works, being valued in 1895 at £1,350,000,000, or more than £350 per capita of the population. For the same year the following figures as to the productions of the principal colonies may be accepted as approximately correct. New South Wales, agriculture, £4,500,000; stock-raising, £15,000,000; dairy farming, £3,000,000; mining, £5,500,000; forests and fisheries, £1,500,000; Victoria, agriculture, £8,5,00,000; stock-raising, 7,000,000; dairy farming, £4,000,000; mining, £3,000,000; forests and fisheries, £600,000. Queensland, agriculture, £2,500,000; stock-raising, £6,500,000; dairy farming, £1,100,000; mining, £2,800,000; forests and fisheries, £750,000. South Australia, agriculture, £3,750,000; stock-raising, £2,400,000; dairy farming, £850,000; mining, £450,000; forests and fisheries, £350,000. New Zealand, agriculture, £5,500,000; stock-raising, £8,000,000; dairy farming, £2,250,000; mining, £1,750,000; forests and fisheries, £7,000,000. The figures for Western Australia and Tasmania are very much smaller, and those for north Australia and Alexandraland comparatively insignificant.
For the year ending June 30, 1895, shipments of Australian and New Zealand wool amounted to 1,952,000 bales, against 1,890,000 in the preceding year, 70 percent of the total being marketed in London and 35,000 bales in the United States, where there is a moderate demand for the finer grades for admixture with those of coarser fiber.
The Australasian colonies are indebted to English capitalists probably to the amount of £400,000,000; but of this a large proportion is invested in railways and other public works under government control, already returning fair interest on the cost of construction and management, notwithstanding the sparse population.
At the entrance of the mining pavilion of New South Wales at the Columbian Exposition was a pillar of frosted silver from the Broken Hills mining company, its shaft festooned with garlands and supporting a figure of Atlas bearing his customary burden. In inscriptions on one of the walls was stated the mineral yield of the colony, including, up to the close of 1892, gold to the value of $187,000,000; silver and lead, $54,000,000; tin , $46,000,000; copper, $29,000,000; and coal $124,000,000, other products of the mine swelling the total to $500,000,000.
In Australia there have been several intercolonial expositions, and one or two which by a stretch of courtesy may be termed international. The last one was in Melbourne in 1888, in celebration of the founding of the first British settlement on Australian shores. The palace erected for the purpose is still preserved.
The University of Sydney has a government endowment of £ 12,000 a year, and though a comparatively new institution, has already been enriched with donations and bequests exceeding £350,000. The president's salary in addition to a handsome residence, is about £1,500, which was formerly also the annual stipend of a supreme court judge, though increased within recent years, the chief-justice receiving £3,000, the attorney-general and colonial secretary each £2,000, and the governor £7,000.
In 1884 a company was formed to develop the diamond mines of New South Wales, and especially those at Bingera, with the result that 75,000 stones were found within three years, the largest weighing about six carats. The deposits are extensive, but have never been systematically worked, though Australian diamonds are of excellent quality, said to be superior to those of South Africa and Brazil.
On Thursday Island, some 2,000 miles from Brisbane, some of the largest pearl beds in the world are worked by a joint-stock company on scientific principles and on an enormous scale. Some of the pearls are of extraordinary size and of beautiful luster, occasional specimens selling for as much as £1,000 apiece, with many worth £100 and upward. On the pearl-fishing grounds of Western Australia was found, in 1874, a group of nine pearls in the form of a Latin cross, and all of good size and color. It is said to have been recently sold for £10,400.
Tasmania, though not ranking high as a mining country, has produced, within the last quarter of a century, £2,500,000 in gold, a single company disbursing £500,000 in dividends, while at Rocky river nuggets have been found the largest of which weighed 240 and 143 ounces respectively. There are silver deposits giving promise of excellent returns; of tin the yield up to 1896 was valued at £8,000,000, and near tide-water, on the eastern coast are 40,000 acres of coal lands.
Between 1886 and 1889 land speculation was rampant in Melbourne and elsewhere, caused largely by the influx of English capital borrowed for the construction of public works, among them the underground cable roads of the Tramway trust whose, members were appointed by the city and suburban councils. Then came the reaction, the effects of which were felt for several years, thousands who deemed themselves wealthy being driven to insolvency, and forfeiting, besides their business reputation. The climax came in April 1893, when five of the principal banks suspended, with total liabilities exceeding £40,000,000, a terrible blow to the commerce and industries of all the colonies. In seasons of panic Australian banks will not stand by each other as do those of the United States.