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Typo: A Monthly Newspaper and Literary Review, Volume 4

Our Correspondents

page 5

Our Correspondents

Melbourne, 3 January, 1890.

The outgoing of the year has not left trade in any better position than has prevailed for the past few months, yet comps generally have not much to complain of. Taking the year as a whole, nothing of very great import has taken place. The extra penny per thousand obtained in 1888 is still paid, and no attempt has been made to reduce the price. Notwithstanding the almost total collapse of the « land-boom » in the early part of the year just closed, and the continued influx of workmen from all the surrounding colonies, work has maintained a fair standard, and probably the next few months will be as quiet as any of the dull periods of the past year. The unemployed cry at present is not loud, nor has it been since the mass meeting held some months ago, when they were hurled from the front ranks to the utter rear. Through the agency of a few they presented a formidable rank, and clamored for allowances which were not forthcoming. The Society has expended a considerable amount on unemployed, strikes, and other assistance during the year, and hence a continual drain was necessary upon the employed. The funds should now be recouped, and the New Year commences with the ordinary levy of 1/- per week.

It is with considerable regret that I have to record the discontinuance of the well-conducted Trades and Labor Journal, which ceased to exist about the end of November. Nothing but a brilliant career seemed before this venture. It had every advantage—a wide field, no opposition, and the best of men at its head. Yet it has collapsed, and little is heard of it. The only surmise, and perhaps the cause of all such failures, is that the concern had not sufficient capital. The shares were too high for many to speculate in, although readily taken up, and consequently those who had paid up will not be light losers. A prospectus was issued to float the Company in £1 shares, but of the result I have not yet become acquainted. It is to be hoped that the matter will not be allowed to lie dormant; and though the efforts of one management may go « bung, » it does not follow that the scope for such a publication is wanting.

A Trades Union has been formed by the stereotypers engaged in the various offices in the city, under the title of the Stereotypers' Association of Victoria. Mr Gettings is President, and Mr J. Miers (Age office) is Secretary. Another step in the right direction.

I understand that Mr L. C. McKinnon, proprietor of the Argus, will leave shortly on a visit to the old country.

A considerable amount of descriptive matter has appeared in one of the leading morning journals on New Zealand and her Alpine wonders, during the past month. The Exhibition has also received praiseworthy comment, and throughout the articles have been of an interesting character.

With the year 1890 will commence a penny postage system throughout Victoria. This should be doubly appreciated from the fact that it has so long been undergoing establishment.

The comps here are not behind-hand in assisting fellow-workmen; and an appeal to the leading offices on behalf of Mr J. Corbett, a recent arrival from New Zealand, was liberally responded to. Mr Corbett has been unfortunate in securing work since arriving here, and has had to solicit aid. A sum of £20 17s 6d was subscribed and will for a time suspend want.

The proprietors of the Argus and the Age are now having the composing-rooms illuminated by electricity. It has been tried first as an experiment, and being found to work well will no doubt soon supplant the gas. The light is admirable to work under, and when in full working order it will prove a boon to compositors. The experiment is an expensive one, and the papers in question are deserving of praise in their efforts to benefit their employés.

Home papers this mail record the death of the Rev. Thomas Ashe, « the Cheshire poet. » His poems extend over a period from 1855 to the time of his death, and a collected edition published in 1886 fills nearly 850 pages in double columns. But he never commanded a large audience, and his name was known only to the literary world. His poetry is characterized by much beauty and technical skill, and the following lines show that he was conscious of his failure to gain recognition:

O, World, for me ne'er care to weave a crown,
Who hold your smile as lightly as your frown!
Yet I grow sad to think upon my songs,
For which no man, or even maiden, longs.
O, my poor flowers, dead in the lap of spring!
I think it is too sad a harvesting
For such brave hope, for such kind husbandry,
Yet must I still go singing till I die!

—Mr Ashe was one of the principal contributors to the « Book of Days, » for which he wrote most of the articles on English and foreign poets.