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3-007 (Raw)

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author,male,Sydney Morning Herald,un addressee
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1975
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So far as the digging prospects are concerned, I can merely repeat what I have already stated, that some are doing very well, others earning good wages, and great numbers scarcely earning their rations. [22] The gold digger's fortune cannot be more suitably expressed than by terming it a lottery. Here's a case in point. The party next to us have dug better than 3 lbs. To-day, and our company have realised something less than half an ounce. To give anything like the average earnings is entirely out of the question, for none of the miners like to make known the proceeds of their labours. The most communicative are the very fortunate and the unfortunate, the latter because they have nothing to be robbed of, and the former because they take great pleasure in talking of their luck. Messrs. Meyers and Twaddle have commenced a store, in a bark building, with an excellent prospect of success. The great evil to be apprehended, and the one which will be the stepping stone to every description of irregularity if not to bloodshed, has at length made its appearance. You will easily understand that I allude to sly-grog selling. The feeling here against this accursed nuisance, particularly amongst the respectable portion of our body is decidedly strong. One gentleman proposed upon hearing the intelligence to proceed at once to the camp of the retailer and stave his keg in. Indeed my impression is that bumboatmen will get very little quarter at Ophir, and the less the better. You can form little idea of the rapidity of our increase. Ophir is a lake into which numbers of rivers and streams have been turned, without any visible outlet, but its supplies of labour or rather its capability of receiving it, like the volume of the increasing waters when they arrive at a certain point, must find a passage for themselves and overflow the country in some other direction.
In my last I stated that many were doing little good, and I now repeat the statement; but this is not surprising, in numberless instances, for there are scores who come hither without any preparation whatever, and if anything were wanting to prove an expression formerly made by you, that the people were afflicted with temporary insanity, the fact that mobs are constantly arriving here from Sydney, without food, money, or implements, were of itself sufficient. They evidently came hither with the idea that they could kick the precious metal out of the earth with their heels, and would thus be enabled to supply themselves with necessaries. Although something of the sort has been said before, you cannot impress it too strongly upon the minds of the public, that the requisites for success, as a general rule, are, a good constitution, inured to hard work, a plentiful supply of provisions, warm bedding, and a complete set of implements. The stories told of men washing the auriferous earth in cabbage-tree hats and tin plates, are mere inventions of the fancy, although the outfit of many who have come to Ophir to share its treasures is very little superior in point of real usefulness to those articles of colonial necessity.
The first great outcry which was raised when the discovery was made public, was, what will the settlers do for labour? [23] This was a very natural source of alarm; but so far as I can see, it is, as regards the immediate country, a groundless one. The outside districts will, no doubt, be materially injured. Shepherds and hut-keepers will be rushing to Ophir at the expiration of their agreements, to do a very little bit of work, get disgusted, and return to their former occupations. Even now there would be little difficulty in hiring a hundred men, and if the neighbouring stockholders require servants, by coming hither they will be enabled to supply themselves.
There are several things I wished to say, but as the dogs have eaten all the fat, and when that was done bolted with the lamp, I am obliged to scribble by the fire, and as, moreover, two of my neighbours are carrying on an interesting conversation in a rather obstreperous style, as to whether rocks grow, like pumpkins or cabbages, my brain is getting into a state of delightful obfustication, and I must knock off.
Flour is selling at £3 for 100 lbs.; beef, 3d. per lb.; mutton 3.5d. ditto; tea, 3s. ditto; sugar, 6d. ditto; tobacco 8s. As I have not many facts to give you, I have interlarded the few contained in this scrawl with an opinion or two. You can use them or not as you choose.
Ophir, May 29.
Since our correspondence of the above date, we have received another communication, but not having space for the whole, we select the following incident as illustrative of remarkable coolness. A person residing in the neighbourhood of Bathurst missed his horse a few days ago, and having reason to suspect that he had been ridden to the diggings by a certain individual, he started forthwith. He had not proceeded far on his journey before he discovered that he was on the right track, his horse with a rider upon him having preceded him only a few hours. Putting spurs to his Rocinante he dashed onward at a brisk pace, and arrived at the diggings just in time to see the horse-thief dismount. As a matter of course he proceeded to take charge, when the fellow coolly drew a pistol from his belt and presented it, threatened if he laid his hand upon the animal or in any way interfered with himself, he would scatter his brains to the wind. This determined movement of the impudent villain so paralysed the owner of the animal that he quietly took himself off, leaving the desperado in undisturbed possession. This story smells strongly of California.