Southern NSW Completely Emptied Of Men
To the Editor of the Empire.
6 March 1852
Sir - On calling at a roadside, inn to regale myself with a glass of ale this very hot day (thermometer in shade 106°) I found on the table your paper of the 21st instant, and on reading your leader I could not help expressing my regret that people in your position should set themselves up to give statistics to the public without being acquainted with the subject on which you write.
You congratulate yourselves and the public that while so many are flocking from New South Wales to Victoria, the imports to the 20th instant had added to our population 611 souls since the 1st January - now, were this the fact, it certainly would be a congratulation of no insignificant moment.
Are you aware that not less than three thousand of' the very best of our working men have left New South Wales for the Victoria Diggings since the 1st of January, by stepping across the Hume River; some hundreds of miners have left the Turon and other gold fields, and crossed for Mount Alexander of late ?
The whole country from Yass to the Hume River, including the townships of Gundagai, Tumut, Wagga Wagga, and Albury, and in fact the whole country down as far as the Darling, is completely emptied of men.
From what I see and hear daily, we may safely compute that not less than five thousand souls have loft New South Wales for Victoria by the overland route, during the last two months. I mean by crossing the Hume River.
The Port Phillip Road is lined with carts, drays, horse, and foot, men, women, and children, in immense multitudes, of all grades and from all countries, making towards the land of promise (Mount Alexander).
The importations of Chinese is much to be deplored in every point of view.
Our Government would confer a lasting benefit on the colony, if they - would on their own responsibility, prevent the lauding of all Pagans on our shores.
The parties importing and employing Chinese, are madly blind to their own interests; they pay £13 for the passage of each - it takes at least six or eight months to send for them and have them here, - now in eight or ten months they could have many shiploads of good useful men from the highlands and islands of Scotland, for less passage money than they pay for these vile wretches.
I presume that thousands of honest industrious Scotchmen could be hired for five years, at from £15 to £20 per annum, and one of them would be better than three of the very best Chinaman. Chinamen, it is true, have little wages - 4 dollars a-month, £9 12s. a year.
This sounds well; but let twenty of them be put on a station, and it will be found that the superintendence and managing of them for the first year will create more disturbance, and cost more money, than twice their services will be worth.
No doubt many murders will be committed by them, or many of their own lives will necessarily be taken by the whites in self-defence.
And, in the last place, so soon as Chinamen become acquainted with their duties, and can make themselves useful, they will not be satisfied with the stipulated wages of 4 dollars per month; when they see that they can do the duties of a white man they will have wages equal to a white man, independent of all the agreements that can be made with them in their original state; when they get a little knowledge of the English lannguage they will tell you that they were quite ignorant of the nature of the agreement, they were incompetent at the time to enter into it; and to detain them, under such circumstances, would be nothing better than slavery I do not suppose that the Government will take upon itself the responsibility of stopping their landing on our shores.
But the power of preventing such a monstrous evil from befalling the colony, is in the hands of the labouring classes. Let no white man put his life in jeopardy by remaining one hour on the stations where Chinamen are employed.
Let no overseer or superintendent remain where the lives of themselves and families are to be endangered by these Pagans.
For I do assure all and sundry, that no white man's life is safe one minute amongst them.
They get offended and you cannot tell at what - you might be inclined to redress their grievances, but you cannot understand what they want - and because you do not give what they ask (although you are in ignorance of what it is), a knife, or many knives, are plunged into your person without hesitation or remorse.
A Bushman. Murrumbidgee 28th February, 1852.