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3-014 (Original)

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author,male,The Argus,un addressee
Newspaper Article
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Public Written
Newspapers & Broadsides
Clark, 1957
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Wednesday 17th September, 1851.
Geelong is mad, stark, staring, gold-mad. If all who are now going to the diggings make their fortune, they will be lucky fellows indeed; the host of disconsolate wives, or as they are here called 'grass-widows' and their families, is astonishing. In Moorabool-street, to-day, I saw two bullock drays being loaded for the diggings, and I should think there were not less than 120 people about them, although not all going with them at that time; there were five or six cradles, two or three wheelbarrows, a couple of dozen tin dishes, and about the same number of beds and boxes on each; besides ropes, frying-pans, ovens, stretchers, tarpaulins, quart and pint pots, buckets, guns, sieves, picks, crowbars, spades, &c., &c., &c., but while looking at them and admiring the anxiety each displayed to get the drays loaded, the wind came swooping round the corner, enough to cut one in two, and I left them, thanking my stars that I was not so foolish as to face the road to the mines during the present weather. I verily believe it will be the death of some of them.
Wednesday, 1st October.
We have got abundance of gold, and the evil effects of the discovery are following fast in the wake of it. [291] Already wages are rising, the common necessaries of life are rising, wood and water are rising. There is no appearance of the demand for labour for our shearing and harvest being supplied, even if a constant stream of emigration sets in immediately, it will benefit us far less than many expect. The women and children may remain in town, but the male adults will go to the mines. It is impossible to reason with most men on this subject, and persuade them that the whole matter is one of chance. No, they must have a try, to satisfy themselves; if that trial be successful, there they will stick - their services are lost to the country.
The evil is of such magnitude and the position of the colony with its government so unsettled, that I would strongly advise the immediate appointment, by public meeting, of a deputation to meet the Executive and consider the best means of averting what is likely to become a great public calamity. Geelong, and I suppose Melbourne is similarly situated, is being depopulated. The police force are handing in resignations daily; even the sergeants are leaving.
The Custom House hands are off to the diggings; seamen are deserting their vessels; tradesmen and apprentices are gone, their masters are following them: contractors men have bolted, and left large expensive jobs on their hands unfinished. What are the contractors to do? Why follow their men, and off they go; patients in becoming convalescent, forget the attention of their doctor, and his kindness in bringing them round, and depart without ever wishing him good bye; the doctor must of course follow, and the lawyer on the same principle follows his clients, and all agree that Ballarat is the only place where there is a possibility of squaring off old accounts, by coming down with the dust.
Some rather ridiculous scenes begin to show themselves down here. Young misses, whose papas have been to Ballarat, begin to appear in neat new bonnets, with perhaps a parasol, and strut about like India rubber dolls. They would certainly go the whole animal, were there not a severe check to their presumption and pride in the fact, that all the nice young men, and the majority of the old bachelors, have left the town. [292] Several once respectable and sedate matrons are coming out strong in beautiful new silk dresses, with the additional advantage of being strongly perfumed, which, with their gaudy dresses, gives them the appearance of small walking flower-gardens. Another class, of an inferior stamp, may occasionally be seen in some of the inns here, with a small roll of notes in one hand, and a pot of half-and-half, or half a pint of gin in the other, treating all and sundry who come in their way. 
It appears the merchants of Geelong are behaving very badly to the diggers who bring their gold to town. The gold from Ballarat is universally admitted to be equal to any ever yet exhibited in these colonies, either from California, Turon, or Ophir, and superior to most samples that have come from these places. And yet our merchants refuse to purchase at any but a price that they ought to be ashamed to offer; they stand very much in their own light by such conduct as this. The Government price for gold in Sydney is £3 6s per ounce, but the merchants here are afraid to purchase at anything over £3, with a deduction of 5 per cent. £2 17s per ounce for as fine gold as any in the world. It is absurd altogether; how can they expect to be patronized when they behave in this way! The diggers must either send their gold on to Melbourne at once, or deposit it in the Bank here, till they gather as much as will pay them for taking it to Sydney, Hobart Town, or even England, for sale.
THE PRESS. One of the Geelong newspapers, the Victoria Colonist, has yielded to the pressure of the times; all hands having 'sloped' for the diggings. A promise has been given to resume in two months, but this will, we think, be found to be only a genteel style of literary decease. The Geelong Advertiser announces in the same issue, that it will be compelled to diminish its size. A new paper is to be started at Buninyong, entitled The Prospector and Buninyong Gazette.
A SENSIBLE RESOLVE. - Captain Godfrey, of the Statesman, seeing that his company were resolved to be off to the diggings, determined to take them there himself. [293] He consequently left his first and second officer in charge, and accompanied by the rest of his crew has started for Ballarat. - Melbourne Daily News.
THE GOLD FEVER. - A medical friend informs us that the prevailing epidemic somewhat resembles ordinary fever at its commencement, as the premonitory symptoms are restlessness, anxiety, and a disinclination to follow one's ordinary avocations. During the first stage of the attack, a sufferer may be known by an unshorn beard, a dirty face, and an embryo bandit appearance. As the disease advances, the patient sticks a short pipe in his mouth, and assumes a red shirt and a pair of moleskin trowsers. If the symptoms are unchecked by a rise in his salary, all objects he views appear of a golden hue - excitement terminates in delirium - 'one morn we miss him from the "custom'd spot" ' - and the answer to all the anxious inquiries of his friends, is that he was last seen on a loaded bullock dray, provided with a straw mattrass, a tin pannikin, a shovel, and a cradle.