|Title:||Comber, Patrick to Comber, Edward and Jane, 1864|
|Collection||Oceans of Consolation [D. Fitzpatrick]|
|Sender Occupation||gold-digger, schoolmaster|
|Destination||Co. Clare, Ireland|
|Recipient||Comber, Edward and Jane|
|Genre||labour, emigration, adversity|
June 24th 1864
My dearest Father & Mother,
I am very ungrateful not to write oftener than I do, but the fact of it is, this is an outside part of the world in which I am located. Far removed from any town or village, In the midst of a wild and dreary country, it is not always I have an opportunity of sending letters. I am in good health thank God and doing well. It gave me great pleasure to read your last letter.
You cannot conceive what delight it gives me to read a home letter, to a
person far removed from it. It is like a link between bygone times and the
present, Something to remind a person that although oceans separate him
from all he cares for or loves on earth, there are still a father and mother, brothers and sisters to think of him.
I was very happy to hear that John was bound to Dr Considine, I
know his place in Galway. John has a good prospect open before him, if
he minds himself. This is a bad country for medical men. There are such
numbers of them in it for every ship brings out a surgeon, and they generally
settle in the country.
I am getting no richer than I was when I landed. People in Ireland
form strange notions of this country, they imagine it to be a lump of molten gold, it is no such thing. I'll tell you what it is, it is a good country a person with sense and temperance can generally speaking command a living, and in other respects make money as they do at home, but for building up colossal fortunes, and creating Nabobs its power has declined.
There was a time or in other words two periods in the past existence
of Victoria, when poor men did get chances of making large fortunes. The
first chance was destined to be the more permanent one. That was the
original partitioning out of the lands. Men with money enough to buy a
few sheep, could get a tract of country, 20 or thirty miles square; as the
population increased and more especially when the gold fields attracted
adventurers from all parts of the world, the land increased in value enormously—
and the poor emigrant who worked to his Knees in his £50 worth
of a property—twenty years ago—is now rolling in his carriage—forgets
his former state, and is only conscious of the fact, that the banks will
honour a bill of his to the tune of 20 or 30 thousand pounds. A great
number of those gentleman and nearly the entire of the Sydney settlers have
been unwilling emigrants to this country, that is, they have been transported
out to Van Diemans Land and the other penal settlements. When
their time was expired, they turned about to seek a fortune and found it
The goldfields were the next Smile that Fortune cast in Victoria, and
I am sure you Know all about that. The returns of Gold are decreasing
year after year, and it scarcely pays private individuals to look for it now,
all the gold digging of any importance in the colony is vested in the hands
of companies who work the ground with machinery. It is rather hazardous
to embark money in this pursuit, as it very often happens that people lose
thousands in fruitless searches. Quartz reefing is the chief hunt. There is
one large hill in Pleasant Creek where Dr Molony lives and there has been
I suppose £200,000 taken out of it. He has shares in different claims there
but they are not paying verry well at present. I was down, in a few of them, the main shaft going down is about 400 feet in depth, down through a
solid rock. The reefers below, blast the stone through which the lead of
gold runs, it is then burned like limestone and crushed m a large machine,
the gold is then extracted from the pulverised stone. There did some
diggings break out lately in Queensland, I wish there did a good goldfield
break out. It is the only means of making a rise at present. I was golddigging
only for two months, but there is no use in it now. It is not plenty
enough to pay.
I am still in the same place, where I was when I wrote last. My
employer wants me to stop and would give me any wages, but it is horrible
to be out of the world altogether, there are only a few persons within miles of us and it is too lonely—I could not bear it long.
Dean Hayes from Geelong was up this way the other day. I am acquainted well with him, and he advised me not to stop here. He told me
that as soon as he would go to town he would interest himself with the
members of the Education Board for me; and by passing the requisite examination I would be entitled to a good School. My salary from Government
would be over £100 a year and the school would be worth a few
pounds a week beside that. Devitte my old college chum was ordained in
Queensland, he is a professor in the Brisbane Seminary and he advises me
to go over to Queensland and that I could not fail in getting a good school, so between these two roads I don't well Know which one to take but I think I have made up my mind on passing the Education Board in Melbourne.
It is the better.
If I once got settled in a good School, I would be able to be of service to some of my brothers and God Knows there is nothing on Earth would give me greater pleasure. I would send a form for Bid Ley den by this mail, but I could not encroach on the little money I have until, I have passed the examinations, as a persons pocket is his only friend in this country. I pity my uncle James very much, and his poor family, and I Know he will take it ill of me not to send a few forms to him. I will do it as soon as I can, but it is not always or at every time a person can do it.
My dear Father
I was sorry and it gave me great uneasiness to hear that you were bad with
the Rheumatism, but I hope in God it will not signify. I am writing to John
by this Mail. Do not expect a letter from me for about two months as I
will not write until I am settled down. The weather here is very bad now,
as it is the middle of the Australian winter. I would send some papers home
if I had an opportunity of getting them. I heard that Michl O Loughlin was
in Melbourne in some Kind of a Situation there, it is very bad of him not
My dear Mother,
I received the picture which you sent me and I will Keep it in fond
remembrance of you. I am Surprised that Michael does not be enquiring
after me, he would not have much fish to catch in this part of the world.
I will send home my portrait, most probably when I Go to town. Melbourne
is 200 miles from here. This place is very wild and lonely—But we do have great hunting excursions—we were away for a week the other day
three of us, up the mountains, after Kangaroos. Whenever we want to Kill
a cow or rather bullock, I or some one else rides out on horseback with a
rifle, and give chase to the whole herd, and when we come within range
of a good one, give him a ball through the head.
How is Mary and Young Bid. And Ned and all my brothers. How I
would like to have them round me again fighting with them; I can see now
they were the real pleasant times. Remember me to my uncle James, my
Aunt Russell, and my poor old grandmother. With love to my father and
you and my brothers and Sisters. I am your loving Son until death
PS. Dont answer this letter, don't direct your next to Dr Molony
because he might not Know my whereabouts. I will write again if not the
mail after next I will by the following one. PC