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4 corrections, most recently by motsroops - Show corrections

UNCLAIMED GOLD.

SOME three years ago there arrived in Melbourne by   the ship Kent, two literary gentlemen, Mr. William Howitt and Mr. Richard H. Horne and all they had   heard in London, of the wonders of Victoria, was, no doubt, very speedily presented to them in the most real and unquestionable, though very likely not always the most agreeable shapes. Mr. William Howitt forthwith betook himself with a dray and mining tools towards the Ovens, (a good month's journey at that time,) and Mr. Richard H. Horne, who had originally been educated at the Royal Military College,   became a commander of the Gold Escort, and on his first trip brought down two tons' weight of gold from Bendigo and Forest Creek. Those were indeed golden times. When Hogarth painted his celebrated picture of "the poet" it was thought   then, and long since, a fine touch of wit that a map of the gold mines of Peru was stuck up against the dila- pidated wall behind the poet's chair. But in this colony the suggestion, intended as a satire, has not merely been instantiated, but all that was previously

regarded as the dream of fertile imaginations has been realised by the hardest and most solid facts.

Two tons' weight of gold, and by a single Escort at one journey, and the result of a single, week's opera- tions, upon only two of our gold-fields ! It is not surprising that this colony should pro- duce at the period in question, a positive influence and a direct movement over the whole civilized world. But let us suddenly turn over the bright leaf of our history and see what is written at the back. In looking at the dark side of our picture, we there see that this climax of our golden period was characterised by scenes of depravity and violence, the most daring and fatal outrages being continually perpetrated, and in most cases with per- fect impunity. Many men died of intemperance, many were lost in the bush, many died of exhaustion or sickness, and were buried any how and any where, and many were murdered and heard of no more. What has become of the gold they had sent down to Melbourne by the escorts ? Numbers of these dead men had no relatives or friends in the colony, many had lost their escort receipts, many had passed under different false names, and many had never been known by any other than some familiar nickname. We had no coroner's inquests on the gold fields ; no registrars anywhere ; but nearly all these dead men had sent down gold by the escorts, and this gold never has been claimed, and never will

be claimed,

Mr. Furlonge has just asked the honourable the Colonial Secretary for returns of the gold held by the Government during each month of the year 1854; together with a return of the amount of the unclaimed gold. The honourable member has hit upon a rich vein, and we hope he will follow it down to its depths,

and into the darkest corners of all its branches.

But the inquiry of Mr. Furlonge extends only to the unclaimed gold in the hands of the Government. That such returns will only represent a very small portion of the unclaimed gold of the diggers of this colony during the last three years, in fact since the first dis- covery of its richest gold-fields, will be rendered ob- vious in two words. We have alluded to the immense quantity of two tons' weight of gold being brought down by a single escort. With one exception, this amount, it is true, was the largest ever brought down by a single escort ; but thirty thousand, and thirty five thousand, were common occurrences in the week. These large amounts, however, were not brought down by the Government escorts, but by the Private Gold Escort, sometimes designated at the time as "Dight's Light Horse."  

Captain M'Mnhon said in the House the other night that "Private Escorts had not answered." He is a " new chum," and knows nothing of the period to which we have alluded. The original Private Es- cort answered much too well to please the slow coach Government in La Trobe's day ; for at the period when from 30,000 ounces to 40,000 ounces was a com- mon load for the three dashing neck-or-nothing four horse gold carts of the Private Escort, the drays of the Government Escort were only bringing from 14,000 to 18,000 ounces, and very often not above 9000 ozs.;   independent of which the Private Escort invariably beat them as to time, often arriving half-a-day before them, and sometimes a day and a night, if not two days in advance. The second Private Escort (Mons. Le Soeuf's) was brought to a premature end by being " stuck up" and robbed ; but on the dissolution of the original private escort soon after the death of Mr. Dight, and because some of the influential directors wished to go to England to spend their fortunes, the division of profits (we had almost said "spoil") showed that the proceedings of the Company had answered very well indeed. But as to the amount of " unclaimed gold," we have never heard a word about it.

The amount of unclaimed gold in the treasury of the original private escort, we feel assured, must have been immense. What has become of it ? All the

unclaimed gold of the dead or missing miners must have surely been deposited in a safe place, in case some fine day a friend or relative should happen to turn up with a legible receipt in his hand. On the   disolution of the Company, after the death of Mr. Dight the unclaimed gold was certainly not swept out into   the streets, but where does it lie? If it had been sent   to any of the banks, or other secure place, the fact ought surely to have been made very public ; for if it had been removed softly and secretly, some people might actually have said that it was rather a suspicious circumstance ! Did the directors share it among themselves, to "take care of it" for any possible   claimants at a future time, thus equally sharing the responsibility of its safe custody ? We trust, if this be the case, that those directors who are gone to England have left their shares with somebody in Australia, as it might otherwise cost a considerable loss of time to recover a bag of gold.--M. M. Herald.

General Brown's grey charger received eleven bullets at the battle of the Alma : he was sent to Constantinople, where the bullets were extracted, and he is now fit for duty.

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