Learned and not so learned reflections

Geelong Advertiser 14 October 1851, 2/3-4:

MRS. SCRUGGINS ON THE DIGGINGS. —"Its nuthin’ but gold from morn to night," said Mrs Scruggins to a nephew the other day, who had expressed his determination of going to the "Diggings." "Mr Smith is goin’ to Ballarat—Mr Brown is goin’ to Buninyong—Mr Jones is goin’ to Ophir—every thing is goin’ to the diggings, ’cept sensible people, and they stay at home. Mr Johnson had the fever last winter, and the way he took on! I said, says I, ‘go if you want to go,’ and leave his friends and all the comforts of life, and live amongst the savagacious aboriginists of the woods, and git himself kill’d and eat up for his trouble. I din’t care! I told him, if he’d like to eat horses better than beef cattle; if he’d rather wear dirty shirts than clean ’uns; if he’d rather sleep on the ground than a nice feather bed, and if he’d rather get murdered arter he got there, than stay at home with them that thought something of him, and keep on living, why then he might go,—nobody could have any projections! Mr Johnson is a sensible man, and has made up his mind to stay at home, and I think a heap more of him. It is the most funny thing, that people that are going to Ballarat aint arter gold—they’re going for their ‘health,’ more particularly them that has families, and it’s distressin’ to see the number of married men that have just found out they are in a fair way to git the gallopin’ consumption, and nothin’ but a trip to Ballarat will cure them. But nobody can tell what this world is comin’ to, there’s so many revulsions recurrin’. I do believe that Mr Smith has gone clean crazy about the diggins. The other mornin’, I asked him at breakfast if he would have sugar in his coffee and he said he would take a twenty pound lump! I do believe that most of them that are goin’ talk about the excitin’ time they have up in the bush; the kangaroos and parrots they’ll kill; the natives they’ll scare with their shooting pistols, and the nice amusin’ time they’ll have cooking their own vituals, and doing their own washin’. J—, who has been to Buninyong says, it is all nice to talk about, but when you come to doing it, that is quite another thing. When you have sometimes to carry wood two miles, and water just as far, after makin’ a fire, and upsettin’ the coffee-pot once or twice, and putting all the fire out—after forgettin’ the bread in the camp oven till it is burnt up, and after frying the salt pork till there is nothin’ but cracklings and grease left; about the time you have done all this you wish you were at home, where you could get some civilised vituals and a feminine to cook them. If Mr Johnson had went to Ballarat, how I would like to see him sitting on a log by the river washin’ his own clothes, with his own green spects on the tip of his nose, and a piece of yaller soap in his hand, rubbing away for life—what a picture he would make. After all, gold does not make people happy. Men will work and scuffle, and toil day and night, for years and years, sacrificing comforts and friends, and every social tie—and for what? That, in their old age, the children they have neglected—the relations they have slighted, may count the hours which remain before they come into possession of the money thus obtained. You tell me, my dear boy, that you are going to Ballarat—take my advice and stay at home. If you can get rich without losing your respectability, and without making a miser of yourself, then your money will be a blessing to you, and not a curse." Mrs Scruggins never looked so much like an uncle as she did at the conclusion of this homily.


Argus 28 February 1852, 5/4:


Between you and your golden gains,
Though nothing intervenes,
Remember, oh! my fellow-men,
That gold is but "a means’; —
Nor let true hearts and manly brows
That smiled at Fortune’s frown,
Amidst your great prosperity,
To Mammon’s shrine bow down.

The God who in his mercy gives,
Or in his grace denies,
Amidst your gains will smile to hear
The grateful prayer arise;
Will smile to see that gold cannot
Corrupt or turn astray,
And that along your slippery path,
Ye still make Him your stay.

Oh! keep your hearts, your manly hearts,
As Britons did of old,
True to your God,—your Queen,—yourselves,
And blessings on the gold;
The gold which shall your children make,
The owners of the soil,—
Who need not brook a master’s threats,
More grievous than his toil.

Build up, firm hearts! a mighty State,
Where Freedom may abide,
Unscared by Anarchist’s mad voice,
Or Oligarch’s base pride;
Where equal rights and equal laws,
Your homes and hearths respect,—
And Honor is to Virtue paid,
Whate’er its clime or sect.

Geelong Advertiser 8 October 1852, Supplement, 1/1: [from the EUREKA correspondent]:

People arriving in the colony naturally look to the press for correct information about the diggings, and care ought therefore to be taken "that the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth" should be stated regarding them. I have now written several letters, in all of which I have avoided exaggeration. I have endeavoured rather to give the dark side of the picture than otherwise, so as to prevent "new chums" from flocking hither with their heads full of bright ideas of golden treasures awaiting them, only to find those ideas {‘}vanish like the baseless fabric of a vision." He who comes up with the knowledge that it is very difficult to get gold, that it requires energy, perseverance, keen observation, and a total disregard of every comfort or fatigue, even in the searching for it, will be contented with small means; whereas, he who comes up under the impression that gold is plentiful, and easily to be got, will find himself miserably disappointed; he will see how necessary it will be to work hard for it, and after doing so, without avail for weeks, or perhaps months, will at last have to acknowledge himself a "wiser though a sadder man."

Argus 6 November 1852, 1/7:



How desolate and ruinous and lone
The wrought-out gully seems, when all are gone,
That gave it life; when all the snowy ranks
Of tents, that stretched far up and down its banks
Have disappeared as if a tempest blast
Had swept them from earth’s surface, as it pass’d;
All fled—the potent charm that brought them there
Exhausted, not a sound the silent air
Disturbs, while all around, the stumps of trees
That once luxuriant waved to every breeze,
Give to the scene a dismal look and bare,
Dreary and bleak; and those who once were there,
Thousands of every rank from every land,
Vanished as at the touch of wizard’s wand;
Yet though departed, still each spot retains
The story of their failure or their gains;
Here, where the stream its winding way pursues
Through deeply excavated avenues
And wide, now all exposed, the gold was strewn
Thickly below, and the rich treasure drawn
From every side, and here may still be found
Stray particles among the adjacent ground;
While here, the holes half sunk or barely wrought
Too well attest the labor was for nought.
Here was a fortune made, a good man’s toil
Gloriously recompensed, a noble spoil;
While there, days, weeks of toil scarce earned to pay
The expense of needful food from day to day—
Here wrought a Frenchman, who to keep in curl
His fierce moustache, aye and anon would twirl
It round his finger, quite a digging fop,
And would in intervals of labor stop
To trim with brazen comb his labial crop,—
Unfortunate he was, the floods came down
And threatened him, moustache and all, to drown!
Next morn he stood, the picture of dismay,
Right o’er his hole the torrent rolled its way!—
Here sailors had a hole, a jolly crew
That waked the sleepers with their morn halloo,
And when the night brought rest from toil again,
In chorus chanted many a lively strain,
Then, as the time came on, in habit strong,
A camp-oven lid supplying the bell or gong,
Eight bells were struck, watch called in ship-shape way,
And so they closed the labors of the day—
Here wrought some Germans, steady at their labors,
Though sadly troubled with unpleasant neighbours,
Who strove because they could not well express
Their wrongs, nor for them well obtain redress,
To rob them by dishonest interference
Of their hard-earned reward of perseverance;
Thus Envy, ever rankling in man’s breast,
And ever coveting to be possesst
Of what it has not, wakes the passions foul,
Lustful desires, impatient of control,
That lead to sin and death, and ruin of the soul.
The Sabbath morning breaks placid and calm,
As if the very air diffused a balm
To sooth the heart; the very winds are still,
And warbling birds send forth in wild notes shrill
Their matin hymn of praise; holy and blest
The Sabbath comes, to man a day of rest;
Labor is at an end, tools, cradles lie
Close by the tent door for security;
The day advances; on a well known spot
Some diggers gather, not by them forgot
The grand intention of the sacred day;
Here, where the bank slopes gradual away,
In th’ open space they gather silent round,
And say, than this could nobler fane be found?
No temple built with hands, the ethereal sky,
The heavens themselves our mighty canopy?
The forest aisles reverberate the song,
And through their depths the joyful notes prolong;
The preacher comes, a man of humble birth,
In this not earthly titles add to worth,
His title he receives whence life is given,
Noblest of all, to be an heir of heaven.
Few they may be who thus unite in prayer,
Yet well they know His promise to be there,
When in His name they meet, His mercy to declare.
Now the sweet sounds of sacred harmony
Ascend in solemn cadence to the sky,
Where better could we sing his power and love?
We need but look around, His might to prove.
Working amidst His wonders day by day,
Cold is the heart that can refuse to pay
Tribute of adoration to that power
By whose great will we live from hour to hour.
Now with all reverence uncovered hear,
And join responsive in that simple prayer,
The prayer He used whose glorious name we bear,
The prayer we learned ere life’s rough path we trod
When first our minds were taught to think of God
By all respected, and which all revere,
Which leads us to Him more by love than fear.
Now he explain’s [sic] salvation’s wond’rous plan,
Shows the Creator’s goodness unto man,
Tells of His bounteous liberality;
No proofs are wanting—proofs before him lie,
Unfolds the truth in plain and simple style,
Angels on such look with admiring smile;
Far better thus to hear the truth sublime
Than idly waste the sabbath’s precious time,
For spending thus the sacred day of rest,
We seek our couches with a calmer breast;
More needed here such converse, where the ear
Is shocked with curses terrible to hear,
And, midst habitual swearing, the dulled sense
At last grows heedless of irreverence.
News from the town—a mail from Melbourne comes,
Letters from friends, news from our long left homes,
Long hoped for, and expected long in vain;
Hope rises in our breasts renewed again;
What crowds surround the tent, crushing about,
While ever and again each name they shout,
Struggling to reach the front as those depart
Fortunate with their letters, or with heart
Drooping with disappointment—months have pass’d
And anxious days and sleepless nights, since last
They heard from some dear friend, now ill or well
They know not, or since they had bid farewell
To wife or child, or mother left behind—
Oh! for that welcome sheet to ease their mind,
That messenger of hope, that powerful charm
To cheer the heart, and nerve anew the arm,
That short epitome of fireside news
That bears us home again as we peruse,
That homely mirror, that before us places
Old friends, old times, and old familiar faces—
Here too, memorials sad attract the eye
Telling of sickness and mortality,
The black rimm’d border and the gloomy seal
The mournful tale too visibly reveal;
Perhaps some anxious parent, toiling here
For that with which he hoped so soon to cheer
His family, with fear and trembling views
The awful note he scarcely dares peruse—
Back to his tent he hastes, too soon to know
For whom his heart must mourn, his tears must flow;
And, as he goes, he seens before his mind
His wife, his children, all he left behind;
Racked with suspense and foreboding fears
The joyous laugh of infancy he hears;
Their cheerful prattle, and their harmless mirth,
That ever shed a brightness round his hearth.
Each of his little ones he names in turn
Ere yet he knows for which he has to mourn.
Swift o’er his mind the illusive vision flies,
At every step his heart responds with sighs;
Then, all alone, the truth disclosed at last
Tells that some loved one lives but in the past;
Perhaps the one most loved, if such could be,
Where all were dear, and cherished equally
In his fond heart. And still fresh griefs will rise,
That he was absent, who could sympathize
With those remaining; he, whose kindly aid
Could soothe them in affliction, and dismayed
By death’s dread presence. Such the cares of life,
And such his trials; trouble, toil, and strife,
By turns disturb and agitate his breast,
Now cheered by hope, and now by fears depressed.


Geelong Advertiser 9 December 1852, 2/1-2.



Few of us, while knifing out a rich patch of Ballarat blue, have failed, either mentally or audibly, to put these queries, Where did it come from?—why do I find it on this rise of the pipeclay and not in that hollow?—

Geelong Advertiser 21 January 1853, 2/4:


How came it plantad [planted] where we find it, or in other words, in the surface or crust of the earth?

In order to have a foundation upon which to build this part of my theory, I will suppose that the civilized world, or at least three fourths, believe that volcanoes have existed, and that continents and islands [which] were inhabited and cultivated, once formed the bed of the oceans. This, I believe, to have been the case with this island, south and north America together with all the neighbouring islands, the whole together with the present seas and oceans, to have formed the bed of one vast and deep ocean, at an early age of the world. Water, by some hook or crook, found its way to the molten mass within, generating steam—the earth being yet young and tender, was not of sufficient solidity to hold together till sufficient steam was generated to raise the whole cut [?out] of water, therefore it cracked all to pieces in places where the crust was thinnest, and the power beneath forcing this molten mass up through the cracks including the quartz and gold lava till it came in contact with the water. As soon as the molten mass came in contact with the water the molten mass cooled suddenly, catching the gold in the quartz on or near the surface of the earth, whilst further down it cooled less fast, giving the gold, through its gravity, a chance to escape to its original bed in the bowels of the earth, many pases [?fuses] however, remaining open for some time. Large quantities of gold were fused out of these fuses, as also quartz and other deposits which laid on this molten mass until the fuses were entirely cleared. Thus, you will find that I now have the gold emoved from its original bed in the earth, to the surface of the same, but yet the whole lying in the bed of this vast ocean.

Now, all that remains for me to do is to shew how the water of this vast ocean was displaced—in order to do this I will state, water again got into this molten mass, generating steam, the earth being now much older and tougher by being cemented together by these quartz veins, it bears sufficient power to raise the whole out of this immense ocean, as it nears the surface of the water, the water finding its own level, craters burst forth, which answers as escape pipes to pass off the steam, and the earth remains high and dry.

Thus you will see that I have got the water displaced, and the [gold] where people are now gathering it. By this theory I can harmonise the facts of gold being found on the surface as well as in deep digging, as also in leads and packets [?pockets]; as also account for so much of the gold having the appearance of being water worn. Can also account for no gold being found any great depth down in the quartz veins, as also for coarse and very fine gold being found in quartz veins. This I will endeavour to show in succeeding communications. I shall close this, assuring you my next communication shall be much shorter.


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