MELBOURNE 100 YEARS AGO
ABOUT 4 p.m. on Wednesday, April 28, 1847, the
13,000 citizens of early Melbourne were conducting their ordinary daily business, attending to the wants of up-country pastoralists, loading and unloading the sailing vessels from "home" in the Yarra and at Sandridge, and engaging in the numerous other pursuits of a thriving
SHORTLY after 4 p.m. the ground began to shake. People stopped in the street; those in buildings looked out of the windows, and then there was a mild panic. Someone shouted, "It's an earthquake," and those in the streets made for the buildings, while those inside started for the open air.
Actually it was not an earthquake; it was an earth tremor, of which Melbourne has had many, and of which, one, and perhaps two, had al- ready occurred in the town on the Yarra in the time between its set- tlement in 1834 and 1847. But this was the most severe up to that time, and possibly there has not been a more severe one since.
Naturally such an event could not be ignored by the papers of the day, and on the following Saturday, May 1, the Port Phillip "Gazette" de- voted three-quarters of a column to the occurrence. Published without a heading, it was the last item in two or three columns of "Domestic Intelligence," on page two of the four-page paper.
"On Wednesday, between 4 and 5 p.m.," the "Gazette" recorded, "Melbourne was visited by an earth- quake, which fortunately did no in- jury to the town. The sensation to those inside was that of a heavy body falling on the upper part of their houses. The panic was consid- erable in the Supreme Court, where the case of Taylor and M'Pherson versus Sutherland was being tried, and it was at once adjourned.
"The shock was felt most heavily
in Elizabeth street, but it was also quite apparent to persons living some miles out of Melbourne.
"This is the second or third time that earthquakes have been felt in this town, the last having occurred in April or May, 1841, at 4 a.m. No person has been able clearly to de- fine the cause of these terrestrial
Having informed its readers that
no damage was done, the "Gazette" went on to recount for their inter- est the numerous occasions on which considerable damage had been caused by earthquakes in other parts of the world, and to put forward two or three tentative explanations of the "terrestrial agitations."
The "Gazette" which records the earthquake is an interesting reflec- tion of the life of Melbourne 100 years ago. The Supreme Court case, which was adjourned, for instance, related to an attempt by some men to remove a barn from a property some miles out of the town. The owner strongly objected to the pro- ceedings, an altercation took place in which axes were wielded, and the matter was taken to the Supreme
Of more interest is the account of the "Execution of Mr. Boveridge's Murderers." Mr. Beveridge had been killed by two aborigines, who, having been apprehended and convicted, had been hanged the day before pub lication, April 30.
"The condemned criminals were clad neatly in duck frocks tnd trou sers," tho report states. "They Beemed to bo fully aware of their awful position. When they came to be pinioned their feelings overpow ered them, and they cried end sob bed in a manner painful to behold."
After a reference to the "fearful engine of death," it is recorded that "a great number of people were in attendance to witness the execution, and we were much disgusted to seo a number of females among the spec tators. Many of the Melbourne blacks were also there, but they did not appear to commiserate their un fortunate countrymen's fate."
A considerable part of the paper is given over to advertising. A pub lisher announces that "The Austra lian Sketches" are now on sale at 8/0 a volume. The sketches, ou which the author is not named, aro described as the first local work ot their kind, and. it is pointed out that a copy of thc volume would he very interesting to friends at home.
For the delectation of the play going public it is advertised that "The King and the Freebooter, ot The Bose of Twecdale," a drama in two acts, is being played at tin Queen's Theatre Royal.
Tho poundkeeper occupies a col umn with his announcements, and two columns of auction sale an nouncements inform readers of thc properties and stock available.
The Commercial Inn reminds tlx people of Melbourne that soups ol from noon till 3 p.m., and splendid superior quality are to be obtainer! mutton pies from noon till mid
Tho Imperial Inn advertises hoare and lodging for 12/ a week-in ad vance-and also draws attention te the extent of a column, to its large supplies of spirits and wincB at mod erate prices. "Good rum" is 2/0 i bottle, and "Good whisky" 3/ i
In the middle of this columns, in eertcd by the 6amo advertiser, is i somewhat discordant note, in the fol lowing terms: "Advance teetotalism superior peppermint cloves and'syru] cordials, 1/0 a bottle, at the Im pcriul Inn."
Tho licensee of the Imperial, ap patently a great believer in advertís ing, also advises, "For a birth marriage or. death, or any othei eventful occurrence, try the very sn perior wines mid puro spirits vendee at the Imperial Inn."
Doubtless many Melbourne citizen considered the earthquake a suffi cicntly "eventful occurrence" to ac cept this invitation.
(Published by arrangement with the "Age." Melbourne.)