« EelmineJätka »
26th Nov. 1852. 4th Dec. 1852.
17th Aug. 1853. 16th July 1853.
Encl. 1 in No. 12.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-Governor LATROBE to the Duke of
(No. 148.) MY LORD DUKE,
*I TAKE leave to refer to your Grace's letter of the 24th December 1852, No. 84, not received by me until the month of July, enclosing the extracts from a letter from the Liverpool Shipowners' Association, and the copy of a letter from the General Shipowners' Society in London, both containing the sketch of a plan for engaging Lascars in India to proceed to Australia, in order to the extrication of the valuable shipping and cargoes supposed to be detained in Australia.
Melbourne September 6, 1853.
2. My own impression upon perusing these proposals was, that any such system as they involved would prove very difficult to work satisfactorily; and secondly, that its adoption was, in fact, unnecessary. Perhaps the information which has been conveyed to your Grace, by the perusal of the various despatches and returns transmitted from this colony since the despatch before me was written, will have prepared your Grace to concur in this opinion; and I would take this opportunity of forwarding the enclosed copy of a report from the Chief Harbour Master, which strongly confirms me in the view which I have taken of the subject, as well as the copy of a further report from the Superintendent of Water Police, which bears upon the general question of the state of this port.
His Grace the Duke of Newcastle,
I have, &c.
Enclosure 1 in No. 12.
Port and Harbour Office, William's Town,
I HAVE the honor to report for the information of his Excellency the Lieutenant
C. J. LATROBE.
The ship alluded to was the "Mary Cannon," which arrived here on the 23rd June with 300 Lascars on board; she had been chartered at Calcutta by the agents of several shipowners for the purpose of relieving their ships which were detained here, but as the vessels it was contemplated to supply with crews had sailed long before the "Mary Cannon" arrived, the agents here, Messrs. J. and A. Smith, had to make other arrangements for the disposal of the men and reimbursing the charterers, by hiring them under their original contract to such masters as required crews. From all I can learn of this scheme, I have reason to believe that the time has gone past for a repetition of it, as English seamen are now easily procured at from 301 to 351. per man for the voyage home, and proportionate rates to India and South America, which, considering the very high rate of freight vessels have been obtaining to this port, may be looked upon as moderate; besides I think it objectionable, as in improper hands here, it might lead to tampering with the men by placing them in ships and on voyages never contemplated in the agreement. Those Lascars shipped in the "Mary Cannon were shipped in various vessels; the first ship or two paid a bonus to the charterers of 181. per man, and the men at the rate of 17. 48. per month, with provisions; another portion of the men were engaged at a bonus of 131. per man to the charterers, and as English seamen were becoming more plentiful, about 150 Lascars were hired at a bonus of 5l. per man. The ship sailed yesterday, taking back 29 Lascars, who from sickness were unable to join any ship.
The foregoing statement will show that the plan of sending Lascars to this place is not likely to succeed, but if others should arrive under similar engagements to those of the "Mary Cannon," I would suggest that all contracts entered into here by ship-masters, should be made in the presence of and and attested by the superintendent of water police. With reference to the subject of desertion of seamen at this port, my firm opinion is, that no justifiable means can effectually put a stop to it, while the rate of pay continues so disproportionate between this port and England, and I believe, if the British shipowners were to engage their crews, not their officers, just for the outward passage, with
*Page 150, of Papers relative to Australian Gold Discoveries, presented to Parliament by Her Majesty's Command, 28th February 1853.
a stipulation that they would be discharged here on the due completion of the passage,
The seamen who had no cause for concealment would be found in large numbers at the port, ready to ship on any voyage, but at present those seamen who desert into the interior are compelled to do so for fear of being laid hold of by the police.
I do not think, were this plan generally adopted, there would be any difficulty in procuring seamen here, who invariably, after a short stay ashore, seek employment again afloat.
I have, &c. (Signed)
The Hon. the Colonial Secretary,
Enclosure 2 in No. 12.
Port and Harbour Master.
Police Office, William's Town,
In compliance therewith, I beg to add such remarks as I conceive to be of a police
The chief objects of the water police being to preserve discipline among the mercantile seamen within the port, and also to prevent irregularities on the water, or along the shores of the port, by ferrymen, lightermen, &c., I will, in the first place, consider the subject of desertion of seamen, the inducements to, and facilities for, and will then submit such suggestions as have presented themselves for the remedy, over and above the present means in the power of the police.
Since the last half-yearly report, ending 31st December 1852, the number of vessels in Hobson's Bay is more than doubled, there having been on that date 130 vessels, and on the 1st July inst. 270, but I am of opinion that the disposition to desert is not so strong as it was, although the inducements are as high as ever.
The high rate of wages I conceive to be the chief inducement operating at present, those offered for the run to London being the same now as those six months since, viz., 501., and in coasting trade the monthly wages are higher than they were.
The police boats, rowing guard among the shipping at all hours, are some check to the crews absconding with the ships' boats, and were they left to their own resources, I believe there would be few cases of desertion; but since desertion must necessarily keep up the demand for seamen, it is reasonable to infer that those whose business it is to supply the market are more likely to encourage than prevent this evil; this circumstance is sufficient, not only to provide the seamen with a conveyance on shore, but also an asylum on landing.
Since the commencement of the present year, the number of licensed ferrymen has increased from 136 to 317, all of whom I cannot suppose obtain a legitimate livelihood; in the late trial of Thomas McGrath at this court, for aiding and abetting desertion, much light was thrown on this subject. Deserters do not, of course, land at either William's Town or Sandredge jetties, but there is little hindrance to their bivouacking on unfrequented spots along shore; the generous boatman who has not only landed the seamen free of charge, and hospitably entertained him when there, still, apparently, disinterestedly looks after his welfare by finding him lucrative employment, and probably obtains for him a liberal advance, which a sense of gratitude dictates to the seaman that he should give to his benefactor.
Another facility is the present authorized system of shipping seamen at several shipping agents' offices, which present no obstacle to the employment of deserters; but the greater the demand is for seamen, the better for the business of the shipping agents.
I will now respectfully submit a few suggestions that appear to meet the necessities of the case.
The present inappropriate position of the police hulk has already been represented— her removal to a more central station would add much to the efficiency of the water police; and since a respectable exterior even carries with it a certain moral effect, more than is possessed by a body which disregards it. I hope it is not out of place here to express my conviction that a fully rigged ship, and armed sufficiently for saluting, would better become the greatest maritime port in the southern hemisphere than a dismantled hulk, which it is difficult to distinguish from a convict hulk.
A small vessel, as a tender to the guardship, to co-operate with the mounted police along shore, from the Heads to St. Kilda, is essential for intercepting offenders, which the present boats are unequal to.
* Page 122.
The present force of water police is unable to afford any surveillance within the river Yarra Yarra, where the extensive lighter traffic makes it important. I would for this service suggest two additional boats especially for it.
With respect to shipping agents, I think the number should be limited to two, and those under the superintendence of the water police; that all the seamen they ship should produce their register ticket and discharge from their last ship, and before a ship finally quits the port, crew to be mustered by the inspector of water police or his deputy, and these documents examined. As it is at present, there appears to be no guarantee that the crew of one ship are not enticed out of her and shipped on board another which is waiting to go to sea, for which the shipper is paid a certain sum per head.
I have, &c. (Signed)
The Honourable the Colonial Secretary,
CRAWFORD PASCO, R.N., Superintendent, Water Police.
COPY of a DESPATCH from Lieut.-Governor LATROBE to the Duke of
(No. 149.) MY LORD DUKE,
My last despatch on the subject of the Gold Fields, accompanying the usual returns for the months of May and June last, was dated July 6,* No. 105. I take advantage of this mail to transmit for your Grace's satisfaction a similar file for the months of July and August.
2. Setting aside the agitation which has arisen on the Gold Fields generally, or been brought into prominent notice within this interval, upon the subject of the reduction of the license fee, and the various circumstances to which the canvass of this question has ultimately given rise, which will be found to be brought fully under your Grace's notice in a distinct despatch. I do not see much in the detailed reports before me upon the state of the several mining districts which would call for much remark. With the above exception, on all general points of interest affecting the positive character and circumstances of the population of the Gold Fields, there is little difference from former reports. Though the yield of gold on the larger fields, at Mount Alexander, and Bendigo, and in the Ovens' District, may maintain the general average with but small variation, the produce of the field in various quarters is seen to be undoubtedly very greatly on the increase.
3. Towards the close of July the accidental discovery of a very rich patch of ground in the vicinity of Molyagall (Jones' Creek) caused considerable excitement in all parts of the adjacent workings, and the usual sudden rush of population which marks such occurrence. The gold here was more than usually heavy, and so near the surface, that the discovery originated in the chance passage of a dray over the boggy soil, bringing it to light. As much as between twenty and thirty pounds weight was deposited by one party as the produce of two days' labour. About 3,500 people were collected there, but it remains to be seen whether the bed be sufficiently extensive to satisfy the population which
has been attracted thither.
Melbourne, September 7, 1853. (Received December 13, 1853.)
4. Shortly afterwards, in the first days of August, another, and what promises to be a far more important and extensive field, was discovered at Waranga, in the ranges rising between the Campaspie and Goulburn Rivers, about twelve miles east of the latter stream and thirty-six miles north of McIvor. A great rush im mediately took place from the nearer workings in this district, McIvor and Bendigo principally; and in a few days a population of many thousands had collected there. Great success attended the labours of the earlier adventurers. Every effort was immediately made by the authorities at McIvor to supply the means of protection and control, though at every disadvantage, as the absence of roads and the wet season rendered the transport of stores exceedingly difficult at any cost. Cartage from McIvor to Waranga was charged at 100%. per ton. The distance from permanent water must throw considerable obstacles in the way of this field being worked during the dry season. Indeed, its scarcity even at this time appears to render it necessary for the miner to confine his labour to the richest soil alone.
5. The Ballarat Gold Field has again, within the last few weeks, attracted general attention by the sudden opening of an extraordinarily rich vein in the neighbourhood of the Prince Regent's Gully, the produce of which promises to equal or surpass even the most extraordinary yield of the earlier times. It would appear that at a depth from the surface, varying in this quarter from 60 to 100 feet or more, the miners have come upon a stratum of granular gold and tenacious clay, about two feet in breadth, and a foot deep, so thickly studded with the ore, that it looks like one mass. The commissioner reports, that one party of four miners had realized 150 pounds in eight weeks' time, chiefly within the last week or two. No less than 15,000 ounces and upwards had been reported for escort during the past week.
7. Though considerable sickness has been remarked during the winter months in one or other quarters, at Sandhurst (Bendigo) more particularly, no very grave or general malady has prevailed. Provisions have been abundant throughout the season.
6. The general returns would show that whatever may be the fluctuating movements of the large population of the Gold Fields, there is no great variation July, 42,800. in its aggregate amount, or in the number of licenses issued for the two months August, 39,720. under consideration. The population of the Mount Alexander district is estimated at about 14,000, and that of Bendigo from 31,000 to 35,000; the smaller fields, including Ballarat, may be roughly estimated at from 14,000 to 18,000
8. General good order may be said to have prevailed up to a recent date, notwithstanding the hold which the agents of political agitation have recently acquired, under the peculiar circumstances of the times, over a large number of the miners, apparently, in all quarters; and, until latterly, the gold districts were equally distinguished, as heretofore, by a general conformity to the law and absence of crime. One marked act of violence occurred during the month of July, which naturally has attracted general attention. This was the attack and robbery, on the 20th of the month, at a point about ten miles south-west from the camp at McIvor, of a private escort, composed of six men, conveying 2,323 ounces of gold, and 7007. in cash, towards Melbourne. The attacking party, consisting, it is believed, of eleven men, lay in ambush, and evidently attempted, by a general discharge of fire-arms, to kill or disable the whole guard. Their object was so far successful, that, although none were killed, several were severely wounded, and the whole of the property carried off. Immediate steps were taken both by the police at McIvor and Bendigo, and by the authorities generally, to trace and secure the perpetrators of this daring act of violence, which had evidently been planned by practised hands, and I am glad to be able to report that the prompt measures taken, and the amount and character of the recompense held out, have resulted in the apprehension of the greater number of the persons supposed to be implicated; some of them having been secured on shipboard, on the point of sailing for England. A considerable amount of the plunder has been recovered, £5,400. and as one of the number has turned approver, it is believed that there will be but little difficulty in bringing the crime home to them. When all the circumstances of the Colony, the real character of no inconsiderable portion of the population which has flocked to it since the gold discoveries, and the facilities which the broken, forested country, over which the long lines of road to be traversed by the gold escorts, offer to the perpetration of sudden acts of violence, are all taken into account, it would appear extraordinary that this outrage forms, so far, an isolated instance.
C. J. LATROBE.