THE ASSAY OFFICE.
The new furnaces will be lighted to-day, aud will make the number in operation eight altogether* The present system of working by relays for the whole of the twenty -four hours, will be superseded,,
and two sets of smelters will be employed, one com* mencing at 5 in the morning, and another at 1 in the afternoon. Arrangements have, been made* however, for, the safety of the premises at night, under the new system, by some one of the gentlemen employed in the office sleeping there, in addition to the security afforded by the sentinel on guard, and the stronghold of the Treasury vault. ' These facts are a sufficient reply, we conceive, to the remarks contained in a querulous letter which a correspondent, under the signature of 'A Depositor,' has addressed to a contemporary, who states that the writer ' has forestalled him in much that he had intended to say.' It is very incorrect to assert that' '. £140,000 of the depositors' money is lying idle, and likely to continue so for many weeks to come,' when it is well-known that both the two Banks which receive the ingots, and also private capitalists, make advances upon the Assay-Office certificates. Our columns contain every day a broker's notice that £3 per ounce advance is obtainable, upon the security of those documents ; so that if any depositor is particularly desirous to invest or apply his gold immediately, and cannot con veniently wait for the delivery of his ingots,; he need have no difficulty in accomplishing his. object. We are fully as anxious as our contemporary can be to see the Assay-Office advanced to a condition of perfect efficiency. That important object is certainly in as fair a train of accomplishment as circumstances will allow, and it is in our judgment anything but wise or fair to magnify unnecessarily the actual facts, or to promulgate assertions and accusations whieh many in Melbourne will be too ready to make a handle of, to deter our South Aus tralian diggers from availing themselves of the Assay- Office. Such a result our contemporary would doubtless, as well as every one else who has the. interest of the colony at heart, sincerely deplore. Incautious and reckless strictures on this subject cannot be too severely reprobated.
Our contemporary thinks that Bramah locks and stone walls are not impregnable to London thieves and Van Diemen's Land pickpockets, but we venture ' to think otherwise, when those preservatives are aided by every other check that human ingenuity can devise. A burglar has not the time of the skill of a Hobbs to devote to the prosecution of hit plans; and the precautions adopted and now in full operation at the Assay-Office have hitherto been found effectual for the protection of the public treasures and those of banking and other institu tions. Although the public, in common with our- - selves, accord to Mr. Babbage the credit of having done all that was possible with the means at his command, we are ready to admit that some danger to the efficiency of the establishment exists in the low scale of salaries allowed to its employes. Mr. Babbage, with a salary of £250 (exclusive we believe, however, of his salary as Government Geo logist), is not sufficiently remunerated for the re sponsibility and labour devolving on him. The services of an experienced gentleman have just been secured as Book-keeper at £200 a year. Below these, the salaries range from £100 to £120
? year ; and although clerical labour is now, as un fortunately it always has been in the colony, both abundant and cheap, yet it is not sufficient, taken in connection with the uncertain duration of the Office, to tempt any properly qualified persons to continue their services. As the institution is self supporting, the Government can in this instance afford to be more liberal than is consistent with its present policy, and thus permanently secure the assistance of trustworthy and skilful persons.