OUR MELBOURNE LETTER,
(From our own Correspondent)
If I have missed my usual letter I am not to blame, but rather the uncer- tainties of the post. Few persons in this city know when the Port Darwin mails start, and generally post their letters when they write them in the hope that some time they will reach the capital of the north. However, all this will be altered, because the Queensland Royal Mail steamers now announce their dates far ahead, so that it letters are posted in Melbourne in time to reach Brisbane by the date announced all will be well. I may here mention that Port Darwin is now assuming considerable importance in the southern colonies, and it is uni- versally recognised that your town will become the metropolis of the north. Victorians always take a lively interest in the port, because it is, to a great extent, a Victorian settlement, and we have many old friends up there.
Since my last letter the political world has been engaged in an in- cessant struggle, and it is only now that we have obtained a trifling rest through the adjournment of Parlia- ment until the 3rd of May. Every- thing, however, indicated that this relaxation is only the prelude to a lone rest and peace, during which both sides can recruit and prepare for an inevitable struggle the next session, which will commence prob- ably in August next. Parliament has
been now sitting almost continuously since July, 1880, and this session has had no parallel since the great days of the Darling struggle, although there is the difference that there is not the fever and excitement. As a matter of fact public interest in politics has greatly died out and little attention is paid to what goes on in the House. The public mind wants a rest and a rest it will have ; you cannot keep the bow always bent. During the extra sitting, which be- gan in February the two Houses have been almost continuously con- sidering the reform question. The Legislative Council thought to have scotched the whole project by getting its Premier to rule the Assembly's bill out of order when it came up, on the ground that the Council had al- ready considered a similar measure and could not according to Parlia- mentary practice take it up. This was a mere blind, for, as a matter of fact, the Assembly's bill was initiated before the Council's. However, the high Tories thought that game would work, and that it would lead to Mr. Berry either throwing up the reform question and so being ousted from office, or to some arrangement favorable to themselves. They were doomed to disappointment, for the
Conservative Press deserted them and demanded that the Bill should be
considered. The Argus and its fol- lowers did this simply because they
feared the more earnest of the Liberals would force a deadlock, which would end in the destruction
of the Council, as the people, once aroused, would stand no more non- sense. So the Council had to mildly set aside their President's ruling and to take up the bill. They read it a first time and then asked for a Con- ference, which was accorded by the Assembly. Each committee was necessarily in accord with its House. Sir Charles Sladen, a venerable lawyer, who headed a minority Ministry in 1868 for two months, rules the Council with a rod of iron, there being no other member who has the ability to speak or think, and from the first it was evident that he wanted terms which the Assembly could not grant. He desired to make a difference between free
holders and occupiers, although, as a matter of fact, the latter are the real colonists. The Assembly was re- turned pledged to get the rate payer's roll as the constituency of the Council, which would give it close upon 200,000 electors. Sir Charles proposed that freeholders whose property was valued at ten pounds per annum and occupiers who paid twenty-five pounds per year, should be given the franchise which would give 108,000 electors to the Council, and effectually shut out the demo- cratic party. Mr. Berry, who con- ducted himself throughout with great moderation, agreed to accept ten pounds all round. At this, issue was joined and the committees parted without result. However, the two parties have approached so closely, the country is so indisposed to have another political struggle, and both parties fancy a Council with a low franchise would ensure victory, that it is pretty certain when Parliament meets on the 3rd of May some ar- rangement will be come to, and the reform question settled for awhile. The Conservatives fancy that with
the new franchise the Council would elbow out the Assembly and become paramount, leading to the virtual de-
struction or nullification of manhood
suffrage, while the democrats feel sure that a Council elected by two thirds of the rate payers would readily agree to lower the franchise, even to universal suffrage. As regards minis- terial supporters and opponents the Assembly is somewhat evenly balanced, but while the safe followers of Mr. Berry are homogenous, the
other sections ot the House hold such
diverse views that it seems hopeless for any man to hold the reins except the present Premier. Nearly every member in opposition and in the corner wants office if Mr. Berry is thrown out, and therefore the task of starting another party appears hope- less. Mr. Longmore has assumed the lead of the Radical section of the
House, and is watchful and suspicious of Mr. Berry, who, he fears, is be- coming too conservative. Mr. Berry has indeed become very moderate in tone and in measures, but this shows his wisdom. The people are luke- warm and not inclined to extremes, and Mr. Berry, ever watchful of pub- lic opinion, has followed suit. Be- sides, he cannot be said to be his own master. The Age is a portentious power in Victorian politics, owing to its large circulation and its long as- sociation with the popular cause.
Besides it always exists ; ministries come and ministries go; Parlia- ments are elected and dissolved ; but the Age goes on for ever. The policy of the Age has for years been
between the extremes and it tries to
raise up a middle class party, between the extreme tories and the extreme democrats. In pursuance of this it deserted Mr. Berry in February 1880, and the result was disastrous. Both
the Age and Mr. Berry saw they could not do without one another, and in July 1880 they joined again and won. Since then, though mutually hating each other they have worked well in harness and in the direction of a middle party. The democrats hate and fear the Age, but it requires a large capital to start an opposition paper, so they have to content them- selves with curses. Recently, the Age nearly broke up the Liberal party. It has always had a sneaking
regard for Mr. Munro, the Secretary of our principal building society, and a man of capital, who saved the Age
when the Melbourne merchants threatened to take away all their ad- vertisements. The Age took him up in 1879 in opposition to Mr. Berry, but had to drop him as he would not take the plebiscite. The Munro- Casey combination was thrust out of Parliament, but took root at the ex- hibition, where it was joined by Mr. G. C. Levey, who, when Mr. David Syme went home for a trip became the real editor of the paper. He felt
that one of the triumvirate must be in Parliament, so he got the Age to send Mr. Casey up to Maldon, but J. J. saw it was no use and beat a re- treat. As soon as North Melbourne became vacant Mr. Levey and the Age forced Mr. Munro, who has since 1879 been called the "champion
rat " down the throats of North Mel- bourne, the Liberal party, and Mr. Berry. Mr. Longmore, and a large section of the Liberals refused to for-
give the delinquent, and though Mr. Munro was returned his presence in Parliament may lead to the de- struction of the party. To show
how distasteful Mr. Munro was to
the Liberals it is sufficient only to mention that nearly 1000 Liberal electors of North Melbourne declined to vote at all. One ot the features of this election was the candidature of Mr. William Gaunson who went to the poll and was defeated for the seventh time (he has put up at nine elections but withdrew twice) and lost his fourth deposit of fifty pounds. Mr. Gaunson is evidently not fated to be a legislator, though his ad- mirers compare him to the late Lord Beaconsfield who stood many times
before he was returned. So much
for politics. You will gather from what I have written that we are on
the eve of a political calm, during which parties will disintegrate and new combinations will arise to take part in the next contest.
The Kelly episode has been before us again, owing to the report of the Board to award the reward money, having been sent in, and the sitting of the Police Commission, which is sifting the Kelly outbreak to the bottom. The awards of the former Board are so ridiculous that people laugh at them, but Mr. Berry, who was asked to delay the distribution, does not feel inclined to do so as the banks and the New South Wales Government have contributed the larger portion of the money. The
Police Reward Board consisted of three aristocrats, and true to their instincts they have given the lion's share to persons of their own caste. Superintendent Hare gets £850, though he was but a short time in charge of the Kelly district, and had to leave the Glenrowan fight a few minutes after it began, leaving his forces in confusion without a com- mander. There were three persons who really brought about the cap- ture and death of the Kelly's. First there was Superintendent Nicholson, who adopted the tactics of starving them out. Second, Aaron Sherritt, who gave the information to Mr. Nicholson which enabled him to starve out the Kellys. All this would have been of no avail had not the brave Mr. Curnow, at the risk of a horrible death for himself and those dear to him, stopped the train. Yet the Board gives Mr. Curnow only £550. while it passes Superintendent Nicholson and Mrs. Sherritt, whose husband died in the cause, completely over. The Government, however, give Mrs. Sherritt ten shillings a
week. As to the Police Commission the evidence before them so far
shows that our police force is com- pletely disorganised and that through- out the Kelly trouble the officers were at deadly feud, each jealous of the other, and playing at cross pur- poses ; one would sooner the Kellys remained at large for ever than that the other should have the credit of their capture. In Superintendent Sadlier's evidence he indicated that he feared another outbreak in the
north-eastern district. The popula- tion there is very lawless. They live on bits of land that are incapable of sustaining a family. The young fellows make the most of their money by shearing in New South Wales. It seems when going off to that colony they " annex " a horse from some neighbour who is not of the " clan " and sell it after shearing season. They then "annex" a New South Wales horse, and when they get to Victoria sell it. What makes Mr. Sadlier's words of weight is that there are nearly 100 families in Vic-
toria which are blood relations of the dead outlaws. Kate Kelly, her sister Mrs. Skillion and Mrs. Kelly (who has been released from gaol) are now living on the latter's selection near Greta in a state of poverty. This selection was forfeited by the Govern- ment on Mrs. Kelly's incarceration but this will be revoked. Kate Kelly and her sister were in Mel- bourne a week ago about it. Kate has with her own hand planted ever- greens on Dan Kelly's grave. As to the body of Ned Kelly it was dissec- ted by the students at the Melbourne Hospital who carried away large sections of it. The remainder was
thrown into a pit with quick-lime,
and soon became dust and ashes. It
is probable that great changes will be made in the police force after the
Police Commission has sent in its report.
Before these lines appear the Mel- bourne Exhibition will be a thing oí the past. Already the exhibits are being removed ; an air of desolation
prevails in courts where works of industry and art delighted the eye, and elsewhere the auctioneer is busy with his hammer. Soon the annexes will be removed, to become railway stations and goods sheds, and all that will remain of the grandest sight Australia has ever witnessed will be
the front building, shining in the sun, in the midst of its beautifully verdant grounds, to become a sort of permanent Art Exhibition. It is with regret we see all this, and it re- minds us of Shakespeare's wondrous
Are melted into air, into thin air ;
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, Yea, all it doth inherit, shall dissolve,
And like this insubstantial pageant faded, Leave not a rack (wreck) behind.
This is hardly true, because the Exhibition is the beginning of a new
era for these colonies. It has made Australia known to the nations of the
earth who hitherto thought it a place of black men. The ignorance of our colonies in Europe up to the holding of this exhibition was wonderful. Some young gentlemen who had made up their minds to brave a visit to Australia were recommended
earnestly by their friends to get
dictionaries of the " Australian lan-
guage," otherwise they could not get on ! A mayor of Paris, who is ia the cloth business, when asked to send some exhibits to the Exhibition, said it was no use, as he understood all the clothing worn here was a gum tree leaf, and that only on dress occasions. All this is altered. The correspondents of the leading papers of the world have been here and sent home accounts of the country, and nearly all the foreigners, who came to the Exhibition, a goodly con- tingent, intend to remain in Victoria,
and have started a club. Lines of splendid steamers have been put on from Hamburg and Marseilles. The Hamburg steamers will divert the stream of German emigrants, the best class of emigrants in the world,
from the United States to Australia. Altogether, no matter what may be the cost, the Exhibition will be a vast benefit. It would appear the cost will be nothing, for over two hundred thousand pounds will be paid in duty on the goods exhibited, and the receipts will post up one hundred thousand pounds. The goods are being bought by wholesale firms, so that the public will not get them at any great bargain ; the buyers will make cent. per cent.
A case has been preliminarily before the courts, and will shortly be in them again, which has excited great attention. Mr. George Lamont was one of the pioneers ot Pleasant Creek. I daresay some of your miners will remember him, and having a crushing plant there in con- nection with Mr. Grant (a brother of the Hon. J. M. Grant, once the popular Commissioner tor Lands), and being interested in the celebrated North Cross Reef Company he was very wealthy. As usual with the reefers of the olden time he
indulged in sprees, suffered from delirium tremens, and weakened his brain from excesses of all kinds. He had a sister in Melbourne who did her best for him, but unfortunately he fell into the hands of an Inspira- tionist or magnetiser, named Mrs. Jackson, who had as an ally one M'George. Mr. Lamont, who was a kindly, impressionable man, readily fell under their influence, became an ardent Spiritualist, joined the cele- brated Magnetic Circle, and became impressed with the belief that Mrs. Jackson was inspired. Finally he went to live with the M'George's, and built for them a fine villa at Hawthorn, making a present of it to the pair. Mrs. Jackson completely controlled the unfortunate gentleman. To do this she used to sit for hours
tapping him on the head. His
relatives were refused admittance to him when dying, and under the "influence" he made a will in favor of the M'George's. This his relatives are now contesting. The case will be of great interest, because it will elucidate legally how far magnetic and other influences invalidate a will.
Magnetism has revived in the old world under the name of hypnotism or mggignostrism, but the law courts in England have decided against the Spiritualists, while the French courts
have been favorable.
The Banking Record, a journal published here, has recently issued a list of all the dividends paid in Vic- toria, and rates the amount at five millions of pounds sterling, but it is totally unreliable. The mine that has paid the most in dividends is the Long Tunnel, Walhalla, L.796,000. I see by the American papers that during the last twenty years dividends to the extent L43,035,763 19s. 2d.
have been paid by ex-mining com- panies. In California the Idatio Company paid L.489,645 16s. 8d. (gold mine) ; in Nevada (silver) the Consolidated Virginia has paid L8,943,707, and the California L6,264,000 ; in Michigan the Calumet and Hecla (copper) L3,687,ooo 13s. 4d. The State of Nevada alone (silver) has paid L28,666,411 in dividends, all since 1865.