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I sat upon a tree, and united with those who, at a distance, were engaged in the services of our Church. In the afternoon a Clergyman read
prayers, and preached a sermon in the open ground, near the Commissioner's tent, where a congregation of about one hundred and fifty mustered together in a circle round him, joining
in the responses, and singing the hundredth Psalm very well. Our service had just closed when the escort arrived from Melbourne. I was sorry to see it thus travelling on Sunday, but was told that it was unavoidable this time, and that henceforward it would always leave on Tuesday and return on Saturday.”
Although the details thus given refer only to one locality, they will nevertheless serve to illustrate the general character and features of all the diggings. Since the period to which they more especially refer, a large number of other places have been discovered where gold is to be procured with equal ease, and in equal abundance, and almost every ship that arrives bears its rich freight of the precious metal to our shores, with the intelligence that there is no falling off in the produce of the mines, and that the emigration from the home country cannot be too great to supply the gaps left in the general occupations of the colonies, or to fill up the measure of profitable labour at the mines. The following tabular view of the quantities of gold obtained up to the 20th March of this year (so far as could be ascertained,) affords us an accurate idea of the extent to which the search had been prosecuted, and of the success which had attended it:
Ounces. Mount Alexander ...... 208,000 Gipps' Land ....... 15,000 Albany, to Feb. 20. ..... 4,000 Ballarat, to Feb. 21 ..... 106,000 Araluar)
Sto March 10. .... 420,000 Batesford, to March 5 ..... 19,000 Anderson's Creek, to Jan. 31 .. 4,500 Geelong, to March 3..... 7,700 Yallock, to Feb. 10. ...... 5,100 Hopkins' River, to March 1. ... 28,000 Mount Wellington . ..... 29,856 Mount Disappointment, to March 10 13,000 Ferry Creek, to Feb. 16 ... 12,000 Turon . . . . . . . . . ..
41,000 Bungonia ......... 16,000 Pepper's Creek, to Feb. 26 ... 3,550 Bell's Creek, to March 3 . ... 7,500 Major's Creek, to Feb. 13 ... 4,000 Tuena, to Feb. 16 . . . .
3,500 Rativa Hill, to Feb. 25 ..
700 Ophir, to March 1 ..... 1,800 Braidwood, to Feb. 26. .... 10,000 River Plenty, to March 1. ... 6,800 Small Diggings, to Feb. 26 ... 17,000
12,000 315,000 1,620,000
48,000 14,000 23,700 15,900 82,500 89,650 41,550 38,500 130,300 48,500 14,600 41,000 12,300 10,900 2,200 2,500 31,000 21,950 51,500
So that in the course of ten months from the first working, with all the disadvantages of unskilled labour, and imperfect machinery or apparatus, the gold-diggers had procured in round numbers about forty tons of gold, of the value of considerably upwards of three millions and a half sterling! When Columbus dis
covered the New World, it was calculated that about thirty-three millions in value of gold and silver were in possession of the civilized nations of Europe, which quantity was augmented during the three centuries in which the working of the mines there was uninterrupted, to upwards of three hundred millions, giving an average annual produce of less than a million sterling per annum.
It is calculated that the gold field of Australia is about 1,000 miles in length, by 300 or 400 in breadth, only a very small portion of which has yet been even explored. Should the yield continue to increase with the same rapidity it has manifested up to this time, we may expect that it will produce in thirty or forty years as much gold as America produced in three hundred, and even should it simply maintain the present supply, it will produce the same quantity in less than one-third of the time.
What effect this enormous quantity of the precious metal may be expected to produce, is simply a matter of speculation'; but without entering very deeply into political economy, it will be evident that, as the precious metals are not consumable in the politico-economic sense of the term, the diggers are therefore non-producers, and consequently consumable articles will rise in price, on account of the smaller
number of hands engaged in their production, as compared with the total population. This result is already apparent in Australia, although it may be many years before it becomes apparent in other countries. Besides this, however, the mere abundance of gold, as compared with other articles of commerce, will naturally tend to raise the price of the latter as compared with the former,—thus effecting a real diminution in the value of gold. No disturbing effect, however, will apparently be produced as regards the banking interests, inasmuch as bank notes only represent a certain fixed quantity of gold, and a depreciation of the purchasing power of the latter will be partaken of in an equal degree by the former, and there will consequently be an invariable equilibrium between the two. Those alarmists therefore who have been inclined to predicate the ultimate ruin of the Bank of England, because it is compelled to buy gold of all comers at 31. 178. 101d. per oz., may dismiss their fears, when they remember that the price is paid in bank notes, the representative value of which will be exactly equal to the current value of the gold for which they were issued.
Dismissing, however, the subject of the effects of the discovery as regards the exchanges, let us turn our attention to its probable results in another point of view. The two richest gold