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    Chapter 24

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    Chapter 25
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    There is no such thing as "the Queen's English." The property has gone
    into the hands of a joint stock company and we own the bulk of the
    shares!
    --Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.

    Frequently, in Australia, one has cloud-effects of an unfamiliar sort.
    We had this kind of scenery, finely staged, all the way to Ballarat.
    Consequently we saw more sky than country on that journey. At one time a
    great stretch of the vault was densely flecked with wee ragged-edged
    flakes of painfully white cloud-stuff, all of one shape and size, and
    equidistant apart, with narrow cracks of adorable blue showing between.
    The whole was suggestive of a hurricane of snow-flakes drifting across
    the skies. By and by these flakes fused themselves together in
    interminable lines, with shady faint hollows between the lines, the long
    satin-surfaced rollers following each other in simulated movement, and
    enchantingly counterfeiting the majestic march of a flowing sea. Later,
    the sea solidified itself; then gradually broke up its mass into
    innumerable lofty white pillars of about one size, and ranged these
    across the firmament, in receding and fading perspective, in the
    similitude of a stupendous colonnade--a mirage without a doubt flung from
    the far Gates of the Hereafter.

    The approaches to Ballarat were beautiful. The features, great green
    expanses of rolling pasture-land, bisected by eye contenting hedges of
    commingled new-gold and old-gold gorse--and a lovely lake. One must put
    in the pause, there, to fetch the reader up with a slight jolt, and keep
    him from gliding by without noticing the lake. One must notice it; for a
    lovely lake is not as common a thing along the railways of Australia as
    are the dry places. Ninety-two in the shade again, but balmy and
    comfortable, fresh and bracing. A perfect climate.

    Forty-five years ago the site now occupied by the City of Ballarat was a
    sylvan solitude as quiet as Eden and as lovely. Nobody had ever heard of
    it. On the 25th of August, 1851, the first great gold-strike made in
    Australia was made here. The wandering prospectors who made it scraped
    up two pounds and a half of gold the first day-worth $600. A few days
    later the place was a hive--a town. The news of the strike spread
    everywhere in a sort of instantaneous way--spread like a flash to the
    very ends of the earth. A celebrity so prompt and so universal has
    hardly been paralleled in history, perhaps. It was as if the name
    BALLARAT had suddenly been written on the sky, where all the world could
    read it at once.

    The smaller discoveries made in the colony of New South Wales three
    months before had already started emigrants toward Australia; they had
    been coming as a stream, but they came as a flood, now. A hundred
    thousand people poured into Melbourne from England and other countries in
    a single month, and flocked away to the mines. The crews of the ships
    that brought them flocked with them; the clerks in the government offices
    followed; so did the cooks, the maids, the coachmen, the butlers, and the
    other domestic servants; so did the carpenters, the smiths, the plumbers,
    the painters, the reporters, the editors, the lawyers, the clients, the
    barkeepers, the bummers, the blacklegs, the thieves, the loose women, the
    grocers, the butchers, the bakers, the doctors, the druggists, the
    nurses; so did the police; even officials of high and hitherto envied
    place threw up their positions and joined the procession. This roaring
    avalanche swept out of Melbourne and left it desolate, Sunday-like,
    paralyzed, everything at a stand-still, the ships lying idle at anchor,
    all signs of life departed, all sounds stilled save the rasping of the
    cloud-shadows as they scraped across the vacant streets.

    That grassy and leafy paradise at Ballarat was soon ripped open, and
    lacerated and scarified and gutted, in the feverish search for its hidden
    riches. There is nothing like surface-mining to snatch the graces and
    beauties and benignities out of a paradise, and make an odious and
    repulsive spectacle of it.

    What fortunes were made! Immigrants got rich while the ship unloaded and
    reloaded--and went back home for good in the same cabin they had come out
    in! Not all of them. Only some. I saw the others in Ballarat myself,
    forty-five years later--what were left of them by time and death and the
    disposition to rove. They were young and gay, then; they are patriarchal
    and grave, now; and they do not get excited any more. They talk of the
    Past. They live in it. Their life is a dream, a retrospection.

    Ballarat was a great region for "nuggets." No such nuggets were found in
    California as Ballarat produced. In fact, the Ballarat region has
    yielded the largest ones known to history. Two of them weighed about 180
    pounds each, and together were worth $90,000. They were offered to any
    poor person who would shoulder them and carry them away. Gold was so
    plentiful that it made people liberal like that.

    Ballarat was a swarming city of tents in the early days. Everybody was
    happy, for a time, and apparently prosperous. Then came trouble. The
    government swooped down with a mining tax. And in its worst form, too;
    for it was not a tax upon what the miner had taken out, but upon what he
    was going to take out--if he could find it. It was a license-tax license
    to work his claim--and it had to be paid before he could begin digging.

    Consider the situation. No business is so uncertain as surface-mining.
    Your claim may be good, and it may be worthless. It may make you well
    off in a month; and then again you may have to dig and slave for half a
    year, at heavy expense, only to find out at last that the gold is not
    there in cost-paying quantity, and that your time and your hard work have
    been thrown away. It might be wise policy to advance the miner a monthly
    sum to encourage him to develop the country's riches; but to tax him
    monthly in advance instead--why, such a thing was never dreamed of in
    America. There, neither the claim itself nor its products, howsoever
    rich or poor, were taxed.

    The Ballarat miners protested, petitioned, complained--it was of no use;
    the government held its ground, and went on collecting the tax. And not
    by pleasant methods, but by ways which must have been very galling to
    free people. The rumblings of a coming storm began to be audible.

    By and by there was a result; and I think it may be called the finest
    thing in Australasian history. It was a revolution--small in size; but
    great politically; it was a strike for liberty, a struggle for a
    principle, a stand against injustice and oppression. It was the Barons
    and John, over again; it was Hampden and Ship-Money; it was Concord and
    Lexington; small beginnings, all of them, but all of them great in
    political results, all of them epoch-making. It is another instance of a
    victory won by a lost battle. It adds an honorable page to history; the
    people know it and are proud of it. They keep green the memory of the
    men who fell at the Eureka Stockade, and Peter Lalor has his monument.

    The surface-soil of Ballarat was full of gold. This soil the miners
    ripped and tore and trenched and harried and disembowled, and made it
    yield up its immense treasure. Then they went down into the earth with
    deep shafts, seeking the gravelly beds of ancient rivers and brooks--and
    found them. They followed the courses of these streams, and gutted them,
    sending the gravel up in buckets to the upper world, and washing out of
    it its enormous deposits of gold. The next biggest of the two monster
    nuggets mentioned above came from an old river-channel 180 feet under
    ground.

    Finally the quartz lodes were attacked. That is not poor-man's mining.
    Quartz-mining and milling require capital, and staying-power, and
    patience. Big companies were formed, and for several decades, now, the
    lodes have been successfully worked, and have yielded great wealth.
    Since the gold discovery in 1853 the Ballarat mines--taking the three
    kinds of mining together--have contributed to the world's pocket
    something over three hundred millions of dollars, which is to say that
    this nearly invisible little spot on the earth's surface has yielded
    about one-fourth as much gold in forty-four years as all California has
    yielded in forty-seven. The Californian aggregate, from 1848 to 1895,
    inclusive, as reported by the Statistician of the United States Mint, is
    $1,265,215,217.

    A citizen told me a curious thing about those mines. With all my
    experience of mining I had never heard of anything of the sort before.
    The main gold reef runs about north and south--of course for that is the
    custom of a rich gold reef. At Ballarat its course is between walls of
    slate. Now the citizen told me that throughout a stretch of twelve miles
    along the reef, the reef is crossed at intervals by a straight black
    streak of a carbonaceous nature--a streak in the slate; a streak no
    thicker than a pencil--and that wherever it crosses the reef you will
    certainly find gold at the junction. It is called the Indicator. Thirty
    feet on each side of the Indicator (and down in the slate, of course) is
    a still finer streak--a streak as fine as a pencil mark; and indeed, that
    is its name Pencil Mark. Whenever you find the Pencil Mark you know that
    thirty feet from it is the Indicator; you measure the distance, excavate,
    find the Indicator, trace it straight to the reef, and sink your shaft;
    your fortune is made, for certain. If that is true, it is curious. And
    it is curious anyway.

    Ballarat is a town of only 40,000 population; and yet, since it is in
    Australia, it has every essential of an advanced and enlightened big
    city. This is pure matter of course. I must stop dwelling upon these
    things. It is hard to keep from dwelling upon them, though; for it is
    difficult to get away from the surprise of it. I will let the other
    details go, this time, but I must allow myself to mention that this
    little town has a park of 326 acres; a flower garden of 83 acres, with an
    elaborate and expensive fernery in it and some costly and unusually fine
    statuary; and an artificial lake covering 600 acres, equipped with a
    fleet of 200 shells, small sail boats, and little steam yachts.

    At this point I strike out some other praiseful things which I was
    tempted to add. I do not strike them out because they were not true or
    not well said, but because I find them better said by another man--and a
    man more competent to testify, too, because he belongs on the ground, and
    knows. I clip them from a chatty speech delivered some years ago by Mr.
    William Little, who was at that time mayor of Ballarat:

    "The language of our citizens, in this as in other parts of
    Australasia, is mostly healthy Anglo-Saxon, free from Americanisms,
    vulgarisms, and the conflicting dialects of our Fatherland, and is
    pure enough to suit a Trench or a Latham. Our youth, aided by
    climatic influence, are in point of physique and comeliness
    unsurpassed in the Sunny South. Our young men are well ordered; and
    our maidens, 'not stepping over the bounds of modesty,' are as fair
    as Psyches, dispensing smiles as charming as November flowers."

    The closing clause has the seeming of a rather frosty compliment, but
    that is apparent only, not real. November is summer-time there.

    His compliment to the local purity of the language is warranted. It is
    quite free from impurities; this is acknowledged far and wide. As in the
    German Empire all cultivated people claim to speak Hanovarian German, so
    in Australasia all cultivated people claim to speak Ballarat English.
    Even in England this cult has made considerable progress, and now that it
    is favored by the two great Universities, the time is not far away when
    Ballarat English will come into general use among the educated classes of
    Great Britain at large. Its great merit is, that it is shorter than
    ordinary English--that is, it is more compressed. At first you have some
    difficulty in understanding it when it is spoken as rapidly as the orator
    whom I have quoted speaks it. An illustration will show what I mean.
    When he called and I handed him a chair, he bowed and said:

    "Q."

    Presently, when we were lighting our cigars, he held a match to mine and
    I said:

    "Thank you," and he said:

    "Km."

    Then I saw. 'Q' is the end of the phrase "I thank you" 'Km' is the end
    of the phrase "You are welcome." Mr. Little puts no emphasis upon either
    of them, but delivers them so reduced that they hardly have a sound. All
    Ballarat English is like that, and the effect is very soft and pleasant;
    it takes all the hardness and harshness out of our tongue and gives to it
    a delicate whispery and vanishing cadence which charms the ear like the
    faint rustling of the forest leaves.
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