Address at the Anniversary Meeting of the Royal
Geographical Society, 23rd May, 1853. By Sir R. I. Murchison, G.C.St.S., D.C.L., MA., F.RS. Member of the Academies of St. Petersburg, Berlin, Copenhagen, and Corr. Inst. of France, &c. President.
We are induced to notice this publication in consequence of the desire of the author that it should be noticed, as we infer from the fact that several copies have been sent to various parties in the colony, including ourselves among the number ; and because it contains a notice of the gold and geographical exploration of Australia, Sir R. Murchison is well known as one of the most active and untiring philosophers of the age, whose early life as a soldier induced habits of order and enterprise, which have been matured by constant exercise in the field of geological resoarch ; and added to this, his natural quick- ness and capability of seizing at a glance the general features of a problem, have rendered his reputation as brilliant as any one in the present century.
But, Uko many mon of inferior talont", ho is somowhat jealous ofthat reputation, and honoc during the late oxcitcmont respecting the gold of Australia, ho has exhibited himself far moro touchy upon some points than might havo beou expected of him. Wo understand, from the motion of tho Colonial Sesrctary, on tho 13th instant," ho has made request to the Government to havo somo early conjectures of his respecting the futuro wealth of this colony, put on record ia tho colonial archives. To this wo soo no ob- jection whalovor ; it is his due, and wo wish all honour to bo done to bim); and wo shall be happy if what a man of distinguished scientific character in England anils his " lucky guess'' bo set down to a lor higher order of intuition, Thero has beon, as ourVoadors know, a good deal of controversy upon the question of priority M to theso guessei or intuitions ; bul we havo every reason to bellovo that thcro^ lias uovcr beou any attempt made to deny to Sir Roderick what he can justly claim upon undoubted
evidence, and wo are quite sure no one has in- tentionally ondoavoured to rob him of a single laurel. His narnu stands far too high for any attempt of tho kind to succeed, even if thor o were folly enough in any man to aim at it. And
if Sir U. thinks thal J- uerto his fame has not boon . uificiontly extended in Australia, wo hopo ho will goo by this uotico of his Addro-a that ive aio liol ol' 111« uunibor ut' those who would willingly contract it. But common justice to the press of this colony loads us to state that thero has been exaggeration in England as to the effect of bis announcements ol' gold in Aus- tralia on tho mind of tho publio hore, for thoro nover wat., « ; is well known, any " excite in ont" at all about it ; and though Mr. Smith did state tha: lie was induced to look 'jr gold on the strength of tho announcement, una yet though v'hoñ prossod to state where the gold was found, ho (lid no1 or oould not tell ; yet both Mr. Clarke, who has somo claims of older date that are ejUblishod, and Mr. Hargraves, who taught the colonists lo wash for gold, and first sucesúdod in creating excitement, havo each de- clared that they owo nothing to Sir Roderick, clthor in one way or the other. It has been long sottlod that, winievor bs,tho moriu of those three gentlemen, they are, at any rate, inde- pendent of each other. And now to our proper business, which is to set before our readers the intelligent rom irks made by Sir Roderick, in his Anniversary Address lo' the' Geographers of G.eat Britain, and which wo reprint entire
AustfiAMA.-1rs Gold-Its Geoouai-iiicil ExnoiiA TioN.-Tho golden shower which has boon distributed over our great Australian colonies has been realized to an extent beyond any imaginable former estimate; for no ono could havo attempted to predict the quantity of auriferous wealth of tmy Riven spots In unexplored re- gions, though ii geologist Uko myself, anticipating from their structure, In IBU, that gold would be found in thom, was awnrc, nB early ns l8 MI, that specimens of the precious metal had even then boen detected.
Tho coincidence of mineral btructurc which I pointed oht between the eastern watershed of Australia, ns de- scribed hy Strzelecki, and tho Ural Mountains which I had examined, is now seen to bo accompanied by other phenomena common to the two chains, to which it is well to advert. The Ural Mountain» are notably auriferous on tho eastern or Siberian »Ide only, and as far us surveys have gone, it would iippear that one flank only of tho Australian watershed exhibits rich accumulations of gold débris ; but in this case it is tho western or Interior side of the ruiiir<!. It is, however, to be observed, that in hill recent exploration of vast tracts -along the southern frontiers of the colony of Now South Wales, where they unite with tho province of Victoria, as dcbcribed in re- ports printed by order of tho House of Commons, the Rev. Vi. li. Clarke has shown that, whilst no copious deposit» of largo-grained gold, (with a partial exception near Araluen) bave been found on tho bunks of those rivers .which How to the cast or south, yet still that in many localities, nnd over a vary wide uren, fine-grained gold io disseminated through the alluvia. In clearing up the geological structure of that region, this author has also given reasons for supposing that tho various affluents of tho Snowy llover which descend to the south from the high Alps named Mount Kosciusko by Strzelecki, may be profitably worked for gold when the richer natural magazines aro oshoustcd. But still tho fact remains, that it is only on the interior flank of the watershed that the great prizes have been found. Such aro the tracts of Victoria, whether around Mount Alexander nnd ulong the banks of the Loddon, which flows into the Murray, or the Ovens Diggings to the north-west ; such are the rich ac- cumulations along the feeders of the Macquarie to the west of Bathurst ¡ those near Wellington, as described In a report of the Surveyor-General, Sir Thomas Mitchell, and numerous fresh auriferous 'spots noticed by Mr. Stutchbury in his successive mineral reports ; Buch again are the numerous creeks which supply the hoad waters of the Peel River. Another striking similarity to the Ural Mountains is, that, like them, tho Australian range is in many parts a mero plateau, with a scarcely percep- tible dividing ridge, along which, however, eruptive or mctamorphlc rocks peer out, at numerous intervals, rising, though rarely, to .altitudes varying from 3000 to 6000 lect. Tims, at the source of the west-flowing reel River, the Hanging Rock of the colonists is an eruptivo boss Uko the Katch Kanar of the Ural, from which vai ious fis- sures and chasms are said to radiate, in which minor streams meander through slaty and quartzoso rocks, which havo been the chief sources of tho gold ore. In like manner, Mr. Stutchbury describes numerous protrusions of granitic, sycnitlc, 'and other Igneous rocks through metamorphosed strata of schist, sandstone, and limcstono of the pnlroozolc age around Wellington and in the afflu- ent of the Macquarie. Noticing the same general causo and effect in tho loftier southern Alps of. this chain, Mr. Clarke goes still further, in his effort to discriminate a succession of igneous phenomena, showing (if I read his reports aright) that the gold is sometimes diffused, though in minute quantities, through the granite itself. The same author has also discovered troc03 of quicksilver and
But I am not here in the capacity of a geologist, nor do 1 venturo to speak of the varieties of intrusive rock, whether they he granites, syenites, porphyries, or grccn Ftoncs. It will be rather the province of the President of the Geological Society to estimate and compare the value of labours respecting tliesc and other mineral products, including traeca of other native oves ; though in referring to geology I must express my thanks to Mr. Clarke for having first elicited the fact of the presence of true fossils of tho Silurian agc in some of tbo loss mctamor phoscd limestones of the S.W. tracts of Now South Wale» and the adjacent region of Victoria land, and also for the indica- tion of intersection of certain roeta, near to which metallic ore* prevailed ; since these aro phenomena which have been observed In other auriferous regions.
Passing from the finding of gold to the change which its abundance has already produced, it is pleasing to ob- servo the rapid advance which, under the admirable sys- tem ol'police «mt protection to property organised by'Us Governor, Sir Charles Vitz Roy, the great colony of New South Wales has undergone, and how about a million sterling is realised from tho gold fund for the purposes of government. A similar progress, and under more difficult circumstances, has been made'by Governor La Trobe in Victoria, and it requires no prophetic vision to anticipate that, as our country has given to North Ame- rica its masters, so will she be the founder of another great people of her own lhieago and lawn, which will ex- tend themselves northwards to the warmer climes of tho vast continont of Australia. Thero will Englishmen lind their advantage, not merely by digging for gold (which will, however, I doubt not, bo found at intervals, in greater or lesser quantities, along the western and north- ern flank of tho chief watershed), but in the cultivation of all those natural productions which such climates and
soils will afford.
Already I learn that, in a district not moro than 100 miles to the north ot Sydney, wines of good quality arc produced j and there is no reason to doubt that, still far- ther to tho north, cotton mid tho various plants of tbo Kast may very profitably be grown. With such capabili- ties before tlicin, active speculators will therefore always bo found to draw out wealth from the best of all mines the rich cultivable soil.
The colonies of New South Wales, Victoria, Adelaide and Perth aro flourishing, and progressing so rapidly, that as geographers we aro now led to speculate on the approaching solution of one of the moot curious of all the problems which can interest this country-tho true con- dition of tho interior of this vast continent. The noble efforts of Mitchell, Sturt, Hi-lo, Kennedy, und others, in overcoming tho most extraordinary difficulties, have, indeed, carried inquiry to vast distances beyond our own frontiers. Alas! the chivalrous Leichhardt, after greatly extending our knowledge of tho earth's surface, has too probably fallen a victim to his bold endeavour to pene- trate ucross a portion of tbo con.incnt. But no sooner is this calamity brought under our consideration, than another stout-hearted volunteer lum presented himself, in the person of Mr. Ernest Hung, Seeing that tho great obstacle to the successful passage across this continent is the want of water, this traveller first proposed to us the employment of camels or dromedaries, which might be imported at no great cost from India-a plan to which I sailed your attention in the year 1845, as having been then suggested hy our member Mr. Gowan.
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The maps of our Eastern Australian colonies and of Victoria or Melbourne, which arc about lo bo issued to the public by Mr. Arrowsmith, will be ii great addition to our acquaintance- with these lands, the former being on a'scale of 20 miles to tho inch ; the latter, much moro detailed, is on the scale of 8 miles to the inch. Some in- telligent colonists have expressed to mc their regret thal of the vast regions which have been surveyed nnd chained, so small a portion had yet been published. They think that hi these days of rapid colonization, and when so redundant a population is attracted to Australiq, they might be made acquainted with the outlines of the geo- graphy of the yet unsettled regions which have- been obtained through the successful explorations und skill of the Survoyor-Gcneml Sir T. Mitchell, and his associate*. For although not presenting so perfect a fades of ph valent geography as tho beautiful map by the same authorities of the colonized parts, known uudcrthe name of the Mup of the nineteen Counties, such outlines would be useful nji roximatioiis lo truth, by which tho vast ¡interior tracts watcrod by tho affluents of the Darling and Murray rivers might be delineated on a grand scale.
. No region of tho earth presents a greater geographical problem to solvo tlian Australia, In the apparent termina- tion in tho interior of so many of her vast rivers-some of which are of great breadth and depth, even near their sources in the eastern CordilloT, ann end in being eva- porated in saline westein deserts of little altitude. Tho restless settler, forcing onwards wherever fine herbage loads him, will, it Is true, eventually find his way to the very limits of productive lands. But what we geographers regret is, that so very much of the territory, which lies between such distant outposts and the regularly settled countries, has not yet been inserted on any map ; and I therefore hope that by some means or other all tho knowledge acquired with so much labour hy our dis- tinguished associate Mitchell will won be mado public.
We ha ve no intoniion to comment upon this very ' interesting and lucid address, further than lo
stato that, on roferenco to Mr. Clarke's reports (to which tbo author refers) we find that gen iliman dues not stato that "gold, is sometimes diffused, though in minute quantities, through tho granito itself; hut, if wo road his reports aright, that gold is abundantly diffused in granite throughout Australia ; and he has i hown in somo of his lato reports, that auriferous granite also exists on other eastern waters besides those of Araluen. We must loavc that and any olhcr points worthy of discussion to another tribunal ; but with tho foots beforo hs, and the continual reports of our correspondents from tho granito gild fields of the Ovens, Ara- luen, Rocky Bivor, &c, with which our columns havo teemed, wo think tho great English Geologist has not given full weight to tho great point in which Australia differs from his own particular Ural. Wo thank Sir llodoiiuk very much for his zoal in Iho causo of Australian exploration, ' and s-uceiely hopo tho now expedition to tho intorior, which has boen mainly instigated by him, will be buc
cessful ; but wé regret to havo heard (wo soarcely recollect in what quarter) that M_ Haug has already paid the debt of nature. But there can ho no rational doubt that tho Royal Geographical Society will 'ero long remedy Ibu inconvenienco to science by supplying the loss of so able an explorer. The colonists have also renmn to oller their acknowledgments to the di-itiuguitihed Pxusi-ient of the Society for tho following sentonces, which wo reprint to mark our sonso of their importance. " What we geographers regret is, thal so very much of (ho territory, which lies between such distant outposts and tho regularly settled countries, has not yet been inserted on any map ; and I thereforo hopo that by some means or other all the knowlodgc acquired with so much labour by our distinguished associato Mitchell will soon bo niaâo publia."
" Some intelligent colonists havo expressed to me their regret that of the vast regions which have been surveyed and chained so small a por- tion has yet been published. They think that in these days of rapid colonization, and when so redundant a population is attracted to Australia,
they might be made acquainted with the outlines of the geography of the yet unsettlod regions which have been obtained through the successful explorations and skill of the Surveyor-General Sir T. Mitchell, and his associates."
We can only ask, why is this so long deferred? Lastly, we take this opportunity of referring to the claims of Sir R. Murchison, as the indi- cator of gold in Australia, to ask how it came to pass that, when that distinguished geologist so elaborately investigated the structure and mineral composition of Devonshire and Corn- wall, ho did not discover therein the existence of gold ? and how it has come to pass that the Mr. Calvert of Sydney advertising notoriety-who has done so much, according to his own account, for Messrs. Lloyd and Robey, should be now attempting to " excite " all England by his won- derful discovery of nuggets amidst the English lakes ? We truly think that this gentleman, if all he has printed of himself be true, has done
more to throw a cloud over the fame of the
British philosophers than any imputed neglect of any one now living ; and we hope, for the sake of truth and justice, that something will be done in that behalf, of which we con make men- tion hereafter, for the sake of science, can- dour, and honesty.