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line miles away, and then we know that and his neighbour the Irishman kept us we are not, indeed, looking at a scene alive for a mile or two by various antics, of Italian laziness, but on a good, honest, while a Scotchman looked on approvthriving, busy English town.
ingly, and took snuff, and a German Now the whole scene has dipped down smoked and dozed. below the hill, and we are looking in- Such were our companions. As for land over some wooded hills, with a the scenery we were passing through, noble, vast stretch of corn-land, dairy- or the road we were travelling on, the farm, and vineyards on the left. The less that is said of either the better. It road goes straight as a line, apparently is hard for an Englishman to imagine without a break; and we think it looks a forest which is in every respect dreary level enough until we come to a grand and hideous; yet such is the case with precipitous ravine, about five hundred the stunted belt of honeysuckle forest feet deep, and at the bottom a little river, which generally makes its appearance fringed with green trees, and a pretty between the sea and the mountains, village, with a public-house or two, and which must be crossed before one gets a blacksmith's shop.
into the beautiful glades and valleys We travelled fast, and were soon up among the quartz ranges. Travellers the hill, through the wood, and away are very apt to condemn Australian over the plains again—long weary yellow woods wholesale, by their first impresstretches of grass, bounded by dull sions of them from the dreary she-oaks she-oak woods, with one shabby inn by and honeysuckles near the coast-forthe roadside, visible for miles—the ex- getting that afterwards, they saw a little ternal prospect being so dull that we farther in the interior forests more turned to look at our fellow passengers. majestic, ay, and more beautiful in their There were six in our compartment; way, though thin in foliage, than it let us see what they were like. A tole- will be easy to find in more than a few rably cosmopolitan collection, upon my places in England. But whoever says word. My vis-à-vis was a Chinaman, with that a honeysuckle forest is beautiful a round, smooth, beardless face, display- deserves to live in one for the rest of ing no trace of human emotion or in- his life. It consists of mile beyond telligence—not unlike a cocoa-nut from mile of miserable clay-land, far too rotwhich the hair has been removed. He ten and uneven to walk over with comwas dressed in the height of European fort. Its only herbage is sparse worthdandyism, save that he wore over all a less tussock-grass ; its only timber very tunic of sky-blue watered silk. He like unhappy old apple-trees after a gale goggled his eyes, and looked at no- of wind. thing He did not look out of the And the road through this aforesaid window, or at me, or at the bottom of honeysuckle forest? Well, it is a rethe carriage--he looked nowhere. He markable provision of nature that the had just come back from some villanous road (unless macadamised) is so unutterexpedition in town, and I have no doubt ably bad that it quite takes off your had a cool hundred or two stowed about attention from the scenery around you him for travelling expenses. Next to —one continual bump, thump, crash; him sat a big-chested, black-haired, crash, thump, bump. Every instant you handsome man, whom we knew. He are lifted off the seat four inches, and was a French baker on a large scale; let down again (no cushions, mind you), and his mission seemed to be to make as if you were playing at see-saw, and himself agreeable-which he did, setting the other boy had slid off just when you us all talking to one another, save the were at your highest. Your head is surly driver and the Chinaman. He shaken till you fear fracture of the base tried his hand on coachman too; but, of the skull. The creak, jump, jolt of only getting an oath for his pains, he the vehicle begins to form itself into a desisted, with a shrug ; after which, he tune from its monotony (say the Bay of Biscay or Old Robin Grey), until some ment, and are returning. As I speak, more agonising crash than usual makes we meet a wool-dray, piled to a danyou wickedly hope for an upset, that gerous height with the wool-bales, and you may get a quiet walk in peace for a threatening each instant to topple over, mile or two.
which threat it religiously fulfils about No such luck; the driver goes head
every fifty miles. long forward, with whip, and voice-a Now we overtake a long file of Chinaman of one idea—to do it as quickly as men, just landed, all in their native possible. “Jerry, Jerry, jo; snap (from dress, dusky-looking blue smocks, loose the whip). Jerry, hi. Snap, snap. Blank, drawers of the same, and hats like Indian blank, your blank, blank.” This last to
pagodas. They are carrying their worldly his horses. I cannot render it here. goods over their shoulders, on bamboos, Then snap, snap again. A dead fix, and as in the willow-pattern plate; and as we dream foolishly of getting out and they pass, to my astonishment, my walking. Nyíol. He is only gathering goggle-eyed Chinese vis-à-vis wakes up, his horses together for a rush. Then puts his head out of where the window the original Ho! and we are all right should be, and makes a noise like a door again, going along at full gallop.
with rusty hinges, but ten times as loud. The horrible discomfort of our pre- He is replied to by the head man of the sent mode of transit would render it travelling Chinamen in a sound as totally impossible for any one who had though one were playing a hurdy-gurdy not been this road before to make anyob- under the bed-clothes. Our Chinaman servations, whether general or particular, draws his head back, and looks round on the immense amount and variety of upon his fellow-travellers with the air traffic which we are meeting and over- of one who has said something rather taking. We, however, who have in clever, he believes ; and before I have times heretofore, jogged leisurely along time to ask him, angrily, what the deuce the road on horseback—we, I say, can he means by making that noise before a give some sort of idea of what this gentleman, I see something which puts hideous phantasmagoria of men, horses, Chinamen out of my head altogether. drays, women, and children, which, to A dray is upset by the roadside, us, in our headlong course, appear to evidently the dray of a newly-arrived be tumbling head over heels and mak- emigrant, and all the poor little houseing faces at us, would appear to some hold gods are scattered about in the happier traveller who has not bartered dirt. Poor old granny is sitting by the comfort, safety, and money for mere roadside, looking scared and wringing speed.
her hands, while the young mother is In one place a string of empty drays engaged half in watching her husband passes us going towards the town, each
among the struggling horses, and half drawn by two horses, very similar in in trying to soothe the baby by her breed and make to inferior English breast. She has had a sad cut, poor hunters (for your heavy dray-horse, your soul, I can see by her crumpled bonnet; Barclay and Perkins, would soon bog and she looks pale and wild, but brave himself in these heavy roads). Then, withal. A girl about fourteen is nursagain, we overtake a long caravan of ing and quieting a child of six, while a loaded horse-drays toiling wearily up boy of ten helps his father. There is country with loads of all conceivable the bonnet-box, crushed flat by the hair sorts of merchandise ; and immediately trunk. Alas! for the poor Sunday bonafterwards, a caravan of bullock-drays, net inside, brought with such proud each drawn by eight oxen apiece, going care so many miles, the last memento of the same way with ourselves, yet empty. happy summer church-goings in EngHow is this? say you, why thus. These land. Poor bonnet ! becoming poetical bullock-drays belong to the settlers, and only in thy destruction! There, too, the have been carrying down wool for ship- box with the few poor books has burst
open, and “The Iarmer of Englewood But at a place called Burat-bridge, I Forest” and “Fatherless Fanny" are in woke up for good; for in that place the the mud with their old friend and com plank road begins, and from that place panion, the fiddle. God speed you, my the troubles of the traveller into Ballarat poor friends ; be brave and careful, and end. The road is of wooden planks, the worst will soon be over. A twelve laid crosswise, and the coach runs as month hence you shall be sitting by the on a railway. This is an Ameriean infireside laughing at all these mishaps vention. Let me do the Americans and annoyances, bitter as they are now. full justice. In spite of the bad and
If this purgatory of jolting continues wooden nutmeg.” quality of ninemuch longer, a crisis must supervene tenths of their importations, they have death, probably, or insanity. Two or
taught the Victorians one invaluable three thousand years ago, as near as I lesson-how to travel with speed over can compute, there was a short cessation rough bush roads. Their double-ended of it-a dream, as of being taken into Collins' picks, too, are more useful and an inn and having a dinner, and seeing handy than any imported from home. the Chinaman eat with his knife and his We dash on through the darkening fingers, dismissing his fork from office glades of a beautiful forest, the topmost without pension ; but since then things boughs overhead growing more and more have been worse than ever; and now a golden under the slanting rays of the change is coming over me. I must be
I must be sinking sun. As the tallest feathery bough going mad. That Chinaman's head is begins to lose the light, and the magpie, no more fixed on his shoulders than most glorious of song-birds, croons out King Charles the First's. He has got a his vespers, I lean out of the coach to joint in his neck like those nodding feast my eyes on a sight which, though papier maché mandarins we used to so often seen, has never palled upon mehave at home. How I should like to one of the most beautiful mountains in knock his head off, only I am so sleepy. the world, Mount Buninyong. It is the Ah! that is it; before I have time to extreme southern lip of a great volcanic think about it, I am asleep.
crater, which runs up suddenly near a I woke whenever we changed horses thousand feet above the road, covered at a country township, and saw the same from the dark base to where the topsight everywhere,—two or three large most trees stand, feathering up against wooden hotels, with a few travellers the crimson west, with some of the loitering about in the verandahs, un largest timber in the world. Northwilling to shoulder their heavy bundles wards, and towards Ballarat, the lava has and proceed. A drunken man dragged burst down the rim of the cup on all out and lying prone by the door, with sides, pouring in bands from forty to his patient dog waiting till he should sixty feet thick over the gold-beds, to arouse himself and come home. The the everlasting confusion of miners; but blacksmith's shop, with its lot of gossip- at the south end it stands up still as ing idlers. The store, or village shop, abrupt and lofty as it did when all the with the proprietor at his door, with his fertile country was a fiery desert—when hands in his pockets; half-a-dozen houses the internal fires were vitrifying every around, little wooden farmhouses like seam in the slate-rock, and sublimating toys, standing just inside the three- its vapour into gold. railed fence, which inclosed the 80, Buninyong. Three large hotels, and 160, or 640 acre lots belonging to them; a blacksmith's shop. A stoppage. A and around and beyond all the forest, drunken man, who is anxious to fight now composed of Eucalypti (box and any man in the coach for half-a-crown. stringy bark here), and infinitely more The return gold escort from Geelong; beautiful than the miserable Banksia ten troopers, in scarlet shirts, white forest on which we poured the vials of breeches, and helmets; two carts, driven our wrath.
tandem, and an officer in a blue cloak,
all of her majesty's 12th regiment; discussion was indefinitely prolonged, fifty or sixty dogs, who sit perfectly until we went out to look at the hole quiet till we start, and then come at us itself, just in front of the hotel-an erecpell-mell
, and gnaw our wheels in their tion like a bankrupt windmill, with a wrath ; then darkness again, and the steam-engine inside, standing over a forest.
shaft of three hundred feet deep; and Forest, and a smooth turnpike road. then we went to bed. Sleep and dreams. Dreams of the forest But not to sleep-oh dear, no! I getting scanter as we go ; of long-drawn was in bed at a quarter before eleven. gullies running up into the hills, with At eleven, two dogs had a difference of all the bottom of them turned up in opinion under my window; they walked heaps of yellow clay, as though one were up and down, growling, till, as near as I laying on the gas in the New forest. can guess, a quarter past eleven ; when Of tents; sometimes one alone, some they departed without fighting, at which times twenty together, with men and I was sorry. At half-past eleven (I women standing outside, looking at the merely give you approximation as to coach. Of a stoppage at a store, sup time; I did not look at my watch), a posed to be the post-office, where was a drunken man fell into the
gutter, and, on drunken man who disparaged us, and, being helped out by another man, pitched like Shimei, went on his way, cursing. into him savagely. They fought three Of another bit of forest. Of more tents, rounds, and exeunt. At twelve, the bar and then of waking up and looking over was cleared, and a gentleman, of the a magnificent amphitheatre among the name of Bob, was found to be unequal hills, with ten thousand lights on hill to the occasion, and lay down in the and bottom, and a hundred busy steam mud, pulling a wheelbarrow over him, engines fuming and grinding away in under the impression that it was the the darkness. Of a long street of can bed-clothes. Bob's mates fell out as to vas stores and tents; of a better street a score at the blacksmith's for sharpenof stone and wood; of handsome shops, ing gads. Fight, and grand tableauand then of pulling up opposite a hand exeunt. At half past twelve, a drunken some hotel. Ballarat.
Irishwoman was conducted home by two We had an excellent supper in a policemen ; on reaching my window, she handsome room, and, smoking our pipes declined to proceed on any terms whatafter it, were joined by a gentleman in ever, and committed a series of savage yellow clay-stained moleskin trousers, assaults on the constabulary. At one, à blue shirt, and a white cap. This a gentleman from over the way came out gentleman had not been invited to join of his house, and, without notice or our little party, but he did so with the apparent reason, discharged a six-bargreatest condescension. We soon found relled revolver ; which reminded another that he was a gentleman with a griev- neighbour that he might as well let off ance, and that his grievance was Bath's a two-barrelled fowling-piece ; which hole.
caused a third neighbour to come out I give you my word of honour, that and swear at the other two like a although he bored us with Bath's hole, trooper. and his relations therewith, for an hour And so the night wore on. We got to and a half, I have not the slightest idea sleep somewhere in the small hours, and what his grievance was. His strong then were awakened by the "nightpoint was this, that although Bath (the shift” from that abominable “Bath's excellent landlord of the hotel in hole" afore-mentioned, who arrived at which we were staying) had hit gold, it the surface of the earth at four A.m. in wasn't the gravel-pits. We, knowing
We, knowing a preternatural state of liveliness, and something about the matter, were un murdered sleep. A difference of opinion fortunately of opinion that it was the seemed to exist as to whether a gentlegravel-pits, and no other lead ; so the man of the name of Arry was, or was
not, an etcetera fool. It was decided on by that while I punched his head. against Arry, by acclamation, and they That intention was never fulfilled; for, went to bed.
ere my hand reached his head, the whole In the grey light of the morning a orbis terrarum, the entire cosmos, utterly vindictive waiter brought me my boots, disappeared, and was replaced by a and announced, in a tone of savage, im summer sky with floating clouds. The placable ferocity, that the coach would end of all things had come, and I was be ready in half an hour. So I again floating through space alone with a found myself opposite my old friend the lunatic Chinaman. Chinaman, plunging headlong through But we did not float long. We came one of the worst roads in the world, back to earth again with a crash enough north-west for Mount Ararat.
to break every bone in our bodies, one Mount Ararat, I must tell you here, would think; and I am happy to say at the risk of boring you, was the place that the Chinaman fell under me. Upat which all men in that year (1857) rising, we saw that the coach had been who cared to win gold were congregated. upset, and rolled completely over. Our Eight “leads” of gold were being friend the French baker was wiping the worked, and the population was close blood from a terrible cut in the foreon 60,000.
head; the Yankee driver lay on his There was breakfast in an hotel beside back, as I thought dead; and two of the a broad desolate-looking lake, with a party were cautiously approaching the lofty volcanic down—a “bald hill," as four mad struggling horses. they call them here-rolling up on the In time the traces were cut; in time right; then “ Fiery Creek,” an immense the driver came to himself, and swore deserted diggings among romantic gullies profane oaths ; in time the Frenchman at the foot of a mountain; then we got his head plastered, and was merry began to pass some very beautiful over our mishap, and, in time, we got to scenery indeed-flat plains, interspersed Ararat. with belts of timber, and two fine A great dusty main street of canvas isolated mountains, four thousand feet stores, hotels, bagatelle-rooms, and bowlor so in height, rising abruptly on the ing-alleys, outside of which on each side left, the nearest of which rejoiced in the were vast mounds of snow-white pipehideous name of “Tuckerimbid” (Mount clay, each one of which was surmounted Cole), and the farthest one in the ex by a windlass attended by two men. ceedingly pretty one of Laningeryn. Due west, well in sight, rose Mount This latter mountain had two sharp William, the highest mountain in Portpeaks like Snowdon ; but, like all other land bay, rising 4,500 feet above the high mountains in Australia (except the table-land, 6,000 feet above the sea. Alps), was wooded with dense timber The main street in which we stop was from base to summit—a circumstance primeval forest two months ago ; and which considerably mars the beauty of we may remark that the country round mountain scenery in those parts.
lies between the bald volcanic plains What I am going to tell you now is and the great ranges, consisting of a nothing more than the truth, whatever poor scrubby heath (more brilliant with you may be inclined to think. We were flowers in spring than a duke's garden), going down a steep hill towards a creek, over which was a sparse forest of stunted when the Chinaman, who sat opposite, gum-trees. suddenly, without notice or provocation, Our coach journey is over, and we are levelled his head, and brought it fulí put down at our hotel. Then we wander against what Mr. Sayers would call my forth among the “holes” and converse bread-basket with such astonishing force with the miners, while supper is that I had no breath left to cry for getting ready. A hole is pointed out assistance. I made a wild clutch at his to us as being remarkable. The men