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Three Expeditions into the Interior of Eastern Australia. With Dea
scriptions of the recently explored Region of Australia Felix, and of the present Colony of New South Wales. By Major T. L. MITCHELL, F.G.S., and M.R.G.S., Surveyor-General. 2 vols.
These are two rare volumes-most valuable additions to our collected knowledge of the wonderful globe we inhabit. The scientific and amiable author, Major Mitchell, under the patronage of the local government, has done more than any man living—far more than all his predecessors put together-in solving the mysteries of the interior of the great continent of Australia, which, up to his memorable expeditions, was less known that Central Africa-was a field for conjecture and conflicting theories. In would have been difficult to find another explorer so admirably qualified for the task. A gond geologist and zoologist, a fair botanist, a ready and excellent draftsman, endowed with patience and perseverance, good health, and buoyant, cheerful spirits—he was the very man to acquire the knowledge we wanted, to force his way to it through danger, toil, and nearly every kind of difficulty, and to communicate it, when acquired, in a manly, clear, and simple manner. He has high claims to the admiration, and gratitude of his countrymen ; and we trust that such services as his will not fail of their proper and solid recompense.
In the month of September of last year, in noticing, Dr. Lang's “ Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, we mentioned that Major Mitchell had started on an arduous expedition to trace the river Darling to its supposed junction with the Murray river. The supposition is now converted into certainty. After a terrible march through a " scrubby country,” and some unpleasant collisions with fierce tribes of natives, the major and his little party, on the 3rd of June, 1836, came to the junction of the two rivers. But, alas ! the Darling is not the copious, perennial stream which Captain Sturt fancied it. All the water then visible belonged to the Murray, whose course was rapid, while its turbid flood filled part of the channel of the Darling, but was there perfectly still. Above the point of confluence the bed of the Darling presented nothing but a succession of standing ponds or pools, with not so much as a filet d'eau to unite them, or form the smallest stream. Hence the hopes of inland navigation must (in this direction at least) confine themselves to the bed of the Murray, which-it is now settled-has at all seasons of the year a most copious supply of water. On the 23rd of May, when he first came upon it, the major found a magnificent stream one hundred and sixty-five yards broad, the waters being whitish. In the month of March he had found the Lachlan, which at times bears along a world of waters, a torrent, a deluge, wholly without water, except a few small ponds which still remained in the very deepest parts of its bed. “ Such,"
was now the state of that river down which my predecessor's boats had floated.”
As to the wonderful sea fancied by Oxley as occupying all the interior of the continent, and swallowing up all the rivers, Major Mitchell informs us that in the course of his journeys in 1834-5 he drew his whale-boats sixteen hundred miles over land without ever finding water enough to float them—" whereas Mr. Oxley had twice retired by nearly the same routes, and in the same season of the year, from supposed inland seas.'
It is difficult-or, rather, it is impossible—to give a notion of Major Mitchell's labours and discoveries in our narrow limits, and without the aid of maps and plans; but his two volumes will be studied entire by all who take an interest in geographical pursuits, and by all informed emigrants about settling in that wonderful country. The following general remarks on the character of the country traversed in his various expe.
ditions are exceedingly important. They go to confirm the preconceived opinion that the colonisation capabilities of Australia are all upon, or near to, the sea-board; for if Oxley's inland sea has no existence, yet the interior of the country is, for the most part, a repulsive desert,
" Where there is so much unproductive surface, the unavoidable dispersion of population renders good lines of communication more essentially necessary, and these must consist of roads, for there are neither navigable rivers, nor, in general, the means of forming canals. This colony might thus extend northward to the tropic of Capricorn, westward to the 145th degree of east longitude; the southern portion having for boundaries the Darling, the Murray, and the sea-coast. Throughout the extensive territory thus bounded, one-third, probably, consists of desert interior plains; one-fourth, of land available for pasturage or cultivation ; and the remainder, of rocky mountain, or impassable or unproductive country. Perhaps the greater portion of really good land within the whole extent will be found to the southward of the Murray, for there the country consists chiefly of trap, granite, or limestone, The amount of surface comprised in European kingdoms affords no criterion of what may be necessary for the growth of a new people in Australia. Extreme dif. ferences of soil, climate, and seasons, may indeed be usefully reconciled and rendered available to one community there, but this must depend on ingenious adaptations, aided by all the facilities man's art can supply, in the free occupation of a very extensive region. Agricultural resources must be ever scanty and uncertain in a country where there is so little moisture to nourish vegetation. We have from the state of the Darling, that all the surface water flowing from the vast territory west of the dividing range, and extending north and south between the Murray and the tropic, is insufficient to support the current of one small river. The country southward of the Murray is not so deficient in this respect, for there the mountains are higher, the rocks more varied, and the soil consequently better; while the vast extent of open grassy downs seems just what was most necessary for the prosperity of the present colonists, and the encouragement of emigration from Europe.
“ Every variety of feature may be seen in these southern parts, from the lofty alpine region on the east, to the low grassy plains in which it terminates on the west. The Murray, perhaps the largest river in all Australia, arises amongst those mountains, and receives in its course various other rivers of considerable magnitude. These flow over extensive plains in directions rly parallel to the main stream, and thus irrigate and fertilize a great extent of rich country. Falling from mountains of great height, the current of these rivers is perpetual, whereas in other parts of Aus. tralia the
rivers are too often dried up, and seldom indeed deserve any other name than chains of ponds.
“ Hills of moderate elevation occupy the central country between the Murray and the sea, being thinly or partially wooded, and covered with the richest pasturage. The lower country, both on the northern and southern skirts of these hills, is chiefly open; slightly undulating towards the coast on the south, and, in general, well watered.
“The grassy plains which extend northward from these thinly wooded bills to the banks of the Murray, are chequered by the channels of many streams falling from them, and by the more permanent and extensive waters of deep lagoons, which are numerous on the face of these plains, as if intended by a bounteous Providence to correct the deficiencies of a climate otherwise too dry for an industrious and increas. ing people, by preserving in these abundant reservoirs the surplus waters of the large river, and indeed a finer country for cattle stations than this, can scarcely be imagined.
“In the western portion small rivers radiate from the Grampians, an elevated and isolated mass, presenting no impediment to a free communication through the fine country around its base. Hence that enormous labour necessary in order to obtain access to some parts, and for crossing continuous ranges to reach others, by passes like those so essential to the prosperity of the present colony, might be in a great degree dispensed with in that southern region.
Towards the sea-coast on the south, and adjacent to the open downs between the Grampians and Port Phillip, there is a low tract consisting of very rich black soil, apparently the best imaginable for the cultivation of grain in such a climate.
“On parts of the low ridges of hills near Cape Nelson and Portland Bay are forests of very large trees of stringy-bark, iron-bark, and other useful species of
eucalyptus, much of which is probably destined yet to float in vessels on the adjacent
“ The character of the country behind Cape Northumberland affords fair promise of a harbour in the shore to the westward. Such a port would probably possess advantages over any other on the southern coast, for a railroad from thence along the skirts of the level interior country would require but little artificial levelling, and might extend to the tropic of Capricorn, or even beyond it, thus affording the means of expeditious communication between all the fine districts on the interior side of the coast 'ranges, and a sea-port to the westward of Bass's Straits.
“ The Murray, fed by the lofty mountains on the east, carries to the sea a body of fresh water sufficient to irrigate the whole country, and this is in general so level, even to a great distance from its banks, that the abundant waters of the river might probably be turned into canals, for the purpose either of supplying natural deficiencies of water at particular places, or of affording the means of transport across the wide plains.
“ The bigh mountains in the east have not yet been explored, but their very aspect is refreshing in a country where the summer heat is often very oppressive. The land is, in short, open and available in its present state for all the purposes of civilised
We traversed it in two directions with heavy carts, meeting no other obstruction than the softness of the rich soil, and in returning over flowery plains and green hills fanned by the breezes of early spring, I named this region Australia Felix, the better to distinguish it from the parched deserts of the interior country, where we had wandered so unprofitably and so long.
“ This territory, still, for the most part, in a state of nature, presents a fair page for any geographical arrangement, whether of county divisions, lines of communication, or sites of towns, &c. &c. The growth of a colony there might be trained according to one general system, with a view to various combinations of soil and climate, and not left to chance, as in old countries—or, which would perhaps be worse, to the partial or narrow views of the first settlers.
“ It would be establishing a lasting monument of the beneficial influence of British power and colonisation, thus to engraft a new and flourishing state on a region now so desolate and unproductive; but this seems only possible under very extensive arrangements, and with such means as England alone can supply:
* Here the great mistress of the seas is known,
“ Sydney Gazette, Jan. 1, 1831." From some interesting communications read at the last meeting of the Geographical Society, we learn that Captain Wickham and Lieutenants Grey and Lushington have made great progress in the nautical survey of the north-western and other parts of the coast of Australia. Their expedition in H. M. S. Beagle only left England in the month of July of last year. It appears to be admirably conducted. One large river, named Fitzroy River, has been discovered at the south part of the great opening of Van Dieman's Land, in lat. 17° 34', and long. 123° 38', and another
very considerable” river, which they have christened Glenelg River, in 15° 43'—124° 44'. But generally they speak of a wonderful want of rivers, saying, that what they have discovered are utterly insufficient to account for the drainage of this vast continent.
ANNUALS. Heath's Book of Beauty, 1839. Edited by the COUNTESS OF BLES
To speak first of externals-never the least striking part of these holiday books—the beauties this year, as last, are enclosed in rich purple and gold, a most beautiful binding.
Dec. 1838.-VOL. XXIII. --N0. XCII.
The portraits given are those of the Duchess of Sutherland, the Viscountess Mahon, the Viscountess Valletort, the Viscountess Powers. court, the Lady Wilhelmina Stanhope, the Lady Fanny Cowper, Mrs. Maberly, Mrs. Mountjoy Martyn, the Viscountess Fitzharris, Mrs. Verschoyle, Miss Ellen Home Purves, Miss Cockayne. It would not be easy to find anywhere else twelve such lovely faces and graceful forms. Six of them are from drawings by Chalon, and, sauf a few defects in proportion, they are admirable. The Duchess of Sutherland, who leads the van, is a most lovely and queen-like figure, and a good likeness. Quite in a different gendre, the Viscountess Powerscourt is “ beautiful exceedingly."
Excepting in a few cases, (theexceptions are mostly by Lady Blessington) the letter-press has nothing to do with the pictures. Tant mieux perhaps -for it is not very easy to write upon such portraits. The principal contributors are Sir E. Lytton Bulwer, Mr. D’Israeli, Mr. Bernal, Mr. Wil. kinson the Egyptian traveller, Lord Gardner, the Hon. Grantley Berkley, Miss Louisa H. Sheridan, Miss Theodosia Garrow, Mr. Howard, author of “ Rattlin the Reefer,” Mrs. Fairlie, and the fair editor herself, who in the “ Young Mother” has furnished a delightful little sketch-one of the very cleverest things in a book where nearly everything is clever. Sir Lytton Bulwer's Ode to a Leafless Tree in June is not an ode-certainly not-but a very exquisite little piece of verse. The highest strains in the volume are two dramatic scenes by Walter Savage Landor. The subject of them is Anne Boleyne. The author has made use of an Epping Forest tradition, which was first introduced to our notice by Doctor Nott, in his Life of Surrey. Among the lighter pieces, we were struck with the following by James Smith, that matchless maker of vers de societé.
“ LINES ADDRESSED TO THE PORTRAIT OF MRS. VERSCHOYLE.
“ To shun tbe syren's first attacks,
Ulysses, ocean ranger,
And thus escaped the danger.
He strove to hear their chorus:
And rounded Cape Pelorus.
By all the Muses cherishid,
The subtle Greek had perish'd.
O'er all enchantment flinging ;
And charm our ears when singing."
The Keepsake. Edited by Frederick Mansel Reynolds. There is one very notable improvement in “The Keepsake" this year, and that is in the binding. This is the first specimen of Mr. Hancock's patent method of bookbinding, which we hope will be universally adopted in all illustrated books. Mr. Heath is quite right; by this method the plates and letter-press are exhibited with an effect that has not been hitherto attained by any other mode of binding. It is a pleasure to open such a book. Under the covers there are just three things that annoy us; one is a portrait of the Countes Guiccioli, which is not only not like what that belia dama now is, but wholly unlike what she has ever been; the second is a cloudy, scrubby plate, representing the Roman
Colosseum, with a sprawling figure in the foreground of Lord Byron, dressed in a Jemmy Jessamy mantle and white tights, and looking something between a schoolboy and an opera-dancer; and the third is a most ignorant and senseless tale, called “ Alibi.” We do not much like the plate of Constantine and Euphrosia, or that of the “Unearthly Visitant," or that of the “ Maid of Mantua," but all the rest command our admiration and praise. The literary contributions are as good as usual, perhaps better than they have generally been. “A Leaf from a Journal of a Tour in Russia," by Lady Londonderry, is so pleasantly written that we are sorry her ladyship did not write her lord's book. “ The Marriage of Sion," by Mr. J. A. St. John, is a touching and beautiful narrative; and as much may be said of the true history of “Mary of Mantua," by Mr. James. “Rattlin the Reefer” shows his vigour and spirit in the tale of the “ Two Blind Beggars of Segovia,” and Lord Nugent his admirable good nature and good feeling in “ Some Passages in the History of an Old Foretop-gallant-yard,”-upon which, however, Rattlin would have been rather more at home than his lordship. Lord John Manners, Lord Maidstone, the Marquis of Granby, the Hon. Grantley Berkley, the Lady Nugent, Mrs. Abdy, Mrs. Shelley, Miss A. Farren, and Miss Camilla Toulmin, have furnished among them many pages of pleasing and elegant verse. Lady Charlotte St. Maur's “Eve of Allhallows," a tale of sixty years ago, is written with unusual power.
Heath's Picturesque Annual, 1889. Edited by Leitch Ritchie.
This book is bound in the same excellent manner as the “ Keepsake." Instead of ranging over a whole kingdom, or navigating a mighty river in search of the picturesque, the artists this year confine themselves to Versailles, its palace, its theatre, its gardens and groves, its canals and fountains. His Majesty Louis Philippe, by his expensive doings, has brightened the face of all this, and given it a new charm; and on the whole the subject is sufficiently rich and interesting to furnish matter for a volume. The first engraving awakens many melancholy remembrances; it is a view of the Grand Chapel, during the celebration of the marriage of Marie-Antoinette and Louis XVI.! The general view of Versailles from the heights of Satory is beautifully given, and (which may be said of nearly all the locales) it is wonderfully like the place. Perhaps the prettiest and liveliest plate in the volume is that of the gardens, with the declining sun shining brightly on groups of merry-making people and on the clear waters of the canal.
The portraits introduced of Madame De Montespan, Mademoiselle de la Vallière, Madame de Maintenon, &c., may give an additional interest to the volume, though they are not very remarkable as works of art.
By the way, the letter-engraver has made a curious mistake: he calls the wife of Louis the XVI. the Empress Marie-Antoinette. This is not likely to mislead many persons; but still, as the error might have been so easily corrected on the plate, it ought to have been done. As interieurs, the Theatre, and the Grande Galerie des Glaces, or Mirror Gallery, are splendid things.
Courts and palaces are not exactly the scenes which the plain-spoken editor is best calculated to shine in. He seems to have felt this himself, for he has taken the mass of his matter from a French writer. " It was thought,” says he, with more meaning than meets the eye,
« that the history of Versailles could be best written, because best felt, by a French
Mr. Ritchie has, however, written the account, at the end of the book, of the vast alterations and completions made by Louis Philippe,