THE GOLD FEVER.
The discovery of the fact by Mr. Hargraves that the country from the mountain ranges to an indefinite extent into the interior is one immense gold field, has produced a
tremendous excitement in the town of Bathurst and the surrounding districts. For several days after our last publication, the business of the town was utterly para- lysed. A complete mental madness appears to have seized almost every member of the community, and as a natural consequence there has been an universal rush to the diggins. Any attempt to describe the num- berless scenes—grave, gay and ludicrous,— which have arisen out of this state of things, would require the graphic power of a Dickens, and would exceed any limit which could be assigned to it in a newspaper. Groups of people were to be seen early on Monday morning at every corner of the streets, assembled in solemn conclave, de- bating both possibilities and impossibilities, and eager to pounce upon any human being who was likely to give any information about, the diggins. People of all trades, callings and pursuits, were quickly transformed into miners, and many a hand which had been trained to kid gloves, or accus- tomed to wield, nothing heavier than the grey goose-quill became nervous to clutch the pick and crow-bar or "rock the cradle'' at our infant mines. The blacksmiths of the town could not turn off the picks fast enough, and the manufacture of cradles was the second briskest business of the place. A few left town on Monday equipped for the diggins, but on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday the roads to Summer Hill Creek became literally alive with new made miners from every quarter, some armed with picks, others shouldering crow bars, or shovels and not a few strung round with wash-hand basins, tin-pots and cul- linders. Garden and agricultural imple- ments of every variety either hung from the saddle bow or dangled about the persons of the pilgrims to Ophir. Now and then a respectable tradesman who had just left his bench or counter would heave into sight with a huge something in front of his horse which he called a cradle, and with which he was about to rock himself into fortune. Scores have rushed from their homes pro- vided with a blanket, a "damper" and a pick or grubbing hoe, full of hope that a day or two's labour would fill their pockets with the precious metal, and we have heard of a great number who have started without any provision but a blanket and some rude implement to dig with. Such is the inten- sity of the excitement that people appear almost regardless of their present comfort, and think of nothing but gold. Of course all this must end in disappointment. The wet weather of the last two nights, with the damp ground for a bed, and the teeming clouds for a canopy, will do much towards damping the enthusiasm of numbers. We have the authority of an experienced man in stating that from the imperfect and un- suitable implements used by nearly all who have left tor the diggins, coupled with their miserable provision in other respects, suc- cess is impossible—that the labour necessary to success is extremely severe, and he ven- tures as his opinion that not more than
three per cent will become permanent, miners. One of the consequences has been a rapid rise in the price of provisions. Flour which ranged from 26s. to 28s. per 100lbs. has been sold for 45s.; tea, sugar, and al- most every other eatable commodity have advanced in equal proportion. A large amount of the wheat of the district is in the hands of a few speculators, who will main- tain their hold in the hope of a golden har- vest. But for the very extensive supplies now on the way from Sydney, flour would soon be at a famine price, and should a rush take place from below, as may be reason- ably expected, it is to be hoped that there are capitalists enow to adventure in one of the safest speculations of the times—the purchase of flour for the supply of' the district. What assisted very materially to fan the excitement into a flame was the arrival of a son of Mr. Neal, the brewer with a piece of pure metal weighing 11 ounces, which was purchased by Mr. Austin for £30 who start- ed to Sydney by the following day's mail with the gold and the news. Since that an old man arrived in town with several pieces in mass, weighing in all from 2 to 3lbs. He also started for Sydney with his prize Mr. Kennedy, the Manager of the Bathurst branch of the Union Bank of Australia visi- ted the digging on Saturday last in company with Messrs. Hawkins and Green. Each, of these gentlemen picked up a small piece of the pure metal, and a few handfuls of the loose earth from the bed of the creek, which were brought home by Mr Kennedy, from motives of curiosity have since been assayed by Mr. Corfe from Sydney, and a piece of gold extracted therefrom, of the size of a small pea. Besides these we have not heard of any particular instances of success. On Wednesday morning last, Mr. Har- graves accompanied Mr. Stutchbury, the Government Geologist to the diggins, and with his own hands washed a pan of earth in his presence, from which twenty one grains of fine gold were produced. He afterwards washed several buckets of earth and produced gold therefrom. Mr. Stutchbury hereupon expressed his satis- faction, and immediately furnished him with credentials, which have since been forwarded to government. The fact of the existence of gold is therefore clearly established, and whatever credit or emolu- ment may arise therefrom, Mr. Hargraves is certainly the individual to whom it properly belongs. Should government deem it necessary, as it most probably, will, to appoint an inspector, superintendent, or commissioner over the gold regions, in addition to the fact of Mr. Hargraves being the discoverer, his practical acquaintance with mining points him out as the most suit- able and worthy person for the appointment. We have very much more to say but have not space to say it in. A Mr. Rudder, an experienced California gold-digger is now at work at the diggins. There are also several magistrates plying their picks and cradles most laboriously, but we have not heard with what success. In fact there ap- pears every probability of a complete social revolution in the course of time. Those who are not already departed are making preparations. Servants of every description are leaving their various employments and the employers are per necessitatem preparing to follow. But notwithstanding all this we feel confident that a reaction will speedily take place. The approach of winter and wet weather will do something towards cooling the ardour of the excited multitude. POLICE CLOTHING.— Great irregularity appears to prevail in the Commissariat department as re- gards the issue of clothing for the police, some of whom are becoming very seedy in their appearance. It would be rather invidious to specify instances, but whether for purposes of ventilation or con- venience, one of our peace conservators, is to be frequently seen pacing the front of the court- house on duty, with the tail of his shirt hanging several inches through the seat of his inexpressi- bles, and the remainder of his dress the very re- verse of regimental; altogether reminding one of the appearance of a Portuguese soldier on fortifi- cation duty at the island of Madeira. Needle, thread, and a little pains-taking, might certainly repair such, ravages of time and neglect, but al- though a regular stoppage of 3d. per diem is made, from a policeman's allowance, on account of their clothing, which ought, to have been issued in January, the force is still unsupplied. Consider- ing the lowness of their pay, this official negli- gence is a positive injustice to the men, who are in consequence compelled to spend a portion of their earnings in furnishing themselves with habiliments, whilst their slops are over-due. Should this no- tice have no other effect than that of rousing the individual pointed at to a sense of decency, by per suading him to patch his trousers, we do not regret the space assigned to it. We have some little re- gard left for appearances, and the credit of the town, and give this hint as a proof thereof, hoping it may prove serviceable to more than one.