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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

Austral Handbooks

Austral Handbooks.

"Maoriland" is a handy half-crown guide issued by the Union Steamship Company of New Zealand, and we have glanced through it with pleasure. A new "School Geography," by Mr. Sutherland, is positively the most sensible one we ever saw, and that not merely because it starts from Australia as the sun and centre of the Universe. This is Artemus Ward's principle, "The world revolves on its own axle-tree onct every twenty-four hours, subjeck to the Constitution of the United States." However, we heartily congratulate Mr. Sutherland, whose book will find its way into all the schools. It is really interesting and complete.

Dennis Kearney, the San Francisco Sand Lot orator, who, by the way, hailed from Australia, used to say, "God bless the Little Reporter, the only friend the working man has got." Forty years ago there was a little fiery-headed and spectacled reporter, Mr. Garryowen, going about Melbourne, and lately he has been pouring out his Recollections with reckless profusion. A friend of ours obliges us with an enormous volume of Garryowen's articles, clipped out of the Melbourne Herald. They will doubtless be republished in a book, but in the process of adaptation from the newspaper to the volume they will need that operation which roused the ire of Mr. Puff, in the Critic, when his tragedy was so heavily lopped by the stage manager—' We have had to apply the pruning knife a little, sir." "The pruning knife! Zounds, sir, the axe!"

Garryowen's copious reminiscences, so far, only excavate the decade previous to 18.51, and they possess a most fascinating charm to the old colonist. For instance, take his references to Sir John O'Shanassy, of whom an aged lady once said to us, "I remember him as a butcher's man, bringing round meat in a tray to my door." When he had a butchery shop, a friend of his, named Winter, came round and looked at some rich joints of beef "My word," says Winter, "there is grass where that comes from." Hearing that it came from the Ballarat district, Winter took up there the squattage known as Winter's Freehold. The goldfields page 50 broke out, and Winter made a fortune in supplying meat to Ballarat. But this did not satisfy his good fairy. A magnificent seam of gold was struck on the estate, and combined with beef and mutton to realise the dreams of Plutus. "The sudden and gorgeous drama" of the Victorian goldfields yielded no more splendid part for an actor than that allotted to "Jock" Winter.

The "Year Book of Australasia" furnishes us with an admirable sketch of the History of the Merino, just the very thing we have been looking for. It shows how this aristocratic sheep sprang from Asia Minor, perhaps a couple of thousand years ago. The Greeks and Romans fostered it. The Romans implanted the Merino in Spain, from whence all the Merinos now known on the face of the globe are traceable. For seventeen and a half centuries the Merino was kept in its pristine purity in Spain. There were two varieties, the Escurial and the Negretti. When the Spaniards loosened their monopoly in the last century, some of these sheep found their way to Saxony, others to France, others to England, where George III. established the Hampton Court flock.

A small flock was taken to the Cape of Good Hope. A few of these—five ewes and three rams—were the nucleus of the first Merino flock in Australasia—Macarthur's, at Camden, New South Wales. This was ninety years ago. In a future article we intend to track the whole history of the Merino thenceforward.

Another large industry suggests itself to us—that of Queensland sugar—with which Melbourne sugar is intimately associated. We propose also to deal with this more at length in our next. It seems that the canny Queensland sugar planters are to obtain the opportunity of buying back their estates, from the Melbourne capitalists, at half the figure which the Melbournites gave for them. Mr. Griffith's democratic ministry has almost put an extinguisher on the importation of Kanaka labour. Public feeling on both sides is terribly" virulent. The agitation is revived for intercolonial free trade, with an especial eye to Queensland sugar, which pays a heavy duty in Victoria.

"Hayter's Year Book," issued by the Victorian Government Statist, "swells wisibly," as Sam Weller said of the old lady, after her thirteen cups of tea in the Brick Lane Branch of the Ebenezer. Hayter says the population of Australia in 1985 will be one hundred millions. This is simply calculated on the present rate of progression, at compound interest. European Powers take note—please be careful.

We are never weary of repeating the words of the veteran Russian Admiral Aslanbegoff, at the Melbourne Town Hall, when he came round in charge of those sharkish cruisers, the A frika Vestnik and Plastoun, just to show us how our commerce could be played ducks and drakes with. Said the Admiral, "But, page 51 gentlemen, while I admire your grand resources, I am convinced that they could only have been developed, as I see them, by the unrivalled energy of the English people." He had just arrived from the through railway trip of 600 miles from Sydney to Melbourne, spying the cream and entrails of the land.

The Admiral's remark rises to mind as we take up Gordon and Gotch's "Australian Handbook," a wonderfully comprehensive publication, with more knowledge packed into its compass than is held by any other book of like size in the world. This brings us to a subject which we have been playing round, and evading, for in sooth we desire to say the exact right thing about annexation. But we are in the position of Mr. Justice Biledowl, of whom Councillor Plausible said he had not made up the thing he called his mind. It is all very well to fume and rage, but we cannot launch an ironclad or a battalion. Besides we are not satisfied that we have been aggrieved, in spite of the lashings of an irresponsible press.

Does the whole world belong to England? Yes, if she can take it. There is no right but might. The world is every one's oyster, to be opened with the sword. England has picked out the plums of the world, the very eyes of the potato. Yet she wants the whole cake. She will not get it, that is the long and short of the matter.

Here we have all Australia and all New Zealand. Is it reasonable, is it Christian, to object to Germany taking even an entire New Guinea or Samoa, and France a paltry New Hebrides? The opposition has been a good deal worked up by interested missionaries, who would hurry the nation into blood and carnage for copra and palm oil. Mr. Service, the respectable merchant who heads the Victorian Goverment, has been posing as a fire-eater, and we understand he has a certain draper, known as General Softgoods, who is Minister of War, and anxious for to shine in the military line, as a rival to Sir Joseph Porter, who stuck to his books and never went to sea, and so became ruler of the Queen's Navee, after polishing up the handle of the big front door.

Don't storm—don't pull the office down about our ears—we support the attitude of the New South Wales Cabinet, which is, of course, based on public opinion in that province. Victoria is doing the frog and the ox business. A fly lights upon Lord Derby's nose, in the shape of Mr. Murray Smith, and we believe that Sir Archibald Michie says, "If I had been there, the Germans would never have dared to do it!"