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OFF TO THE DIGGINGS!

THE future historian of the latter portion
of this present nineteenth century, will be
called upon to decide whether June 1851,
or June 1852, was the more exciting and
interesting period. At Midsummer of the
former year, Englishmen were rushing in tens
of thousands to London to witness the great
wonder of the day at Hyde Park.
Midsummer of the present year is sending quite
as many, and more, of our countrymen away
from Londonto say nothing of Liverpool and
other placesas fast as sailing ships and
steam-vessels can carry them, to join in the Golden
Fair in Australia; the great South Land.

There has not been such an exodus from
London within the recollection of the oldest
ship-brokers; and they have, generally, pretty
good memories, too. The only thing that is
reported to me as at all coming up to it
though I don't believe itwas a general flight
of elderly persons some fifty years since, when
it was said that the earth was on the point of
being burnt up by an exceedingly powerful
description of comet.

Go where you will, everybody appears to
be going "off to the Diggings," and everybody
is in immediate want of outfits and passages.
There are sixty young men rushing frantically
away from their employers' counters in Saint
Paul's Churchyard, and there are at least as
many more longing to follow them. Fully
five score of both sexes have bid adieu to
Oxford Street and High Holborn: and it
is computed that quite one hundred and ten
have migrated from the warehouses about
Cheapside and Cripplegate. Then, there is
the Old Lady of Threadneedle Street. She has
furnished a respectable quota of clerks on
eighty pounds a year, who are thirsting to
handle the pick and the-spade. I can't say how
many youths at the Custom House and the
Docks have drawn their last quarter's salary,
and are now expending the amounts in
Guernsey shirts, canvass trousers, American
boots and wide-awakes. Legions of bankers'
clerks, merchants' lads, embryo secretaries,
and incipient cashiers; all going with the
rush, and all possessing but faint and confused
ideas of where they are going, or what they
are going to do; beg of hard-hearted ship-
brokers to grant them the favour of a berth
in their last advertised teak-built, poop-
decked, copper-bottomed, double-fastened,
fast-sailing, surgeon-carrying emigrant ship.

Talk about the dreadfully depressed condition
of the shipping interest, and the ruin of
British ship-owners! I should like to find
a man with whom to argue that point. I 'd
walk him down to the snug little crowded
office of Messrs. Hopkins and Bung, ship-
brokers, up one pair of stairs, in the City,
and let him see the struggling, and elbowing,
and beseeching for passages, going on there
from ten in the morning until six in the
evening, with two or three clerks taking
down the names of applicants as fast as pens
can writeand the pens at Hopkins and
Bung's write uncommonly fast! There's no
haggling and bickering about the price. Three
words to a steerage passenger are all that
the employers allow: intermediates are
permitted half-a-dozen sentences, not one more.

There never were such times for speculative
ship-owners and brokers. They haven't half
enough vessels: to say nothing of crews to man
them with. There's a huge bill with flaring
letters against the office wall at Messrs. Hopkins
and Bung's, that really looks quite imposing;
and, certainly, if the unsuspecting crowd of
emigrants who are spelling it, believe that
more than half of the vessels named in it are
anywhere within a hundred miles of the
Docks in which they are said to be loading,
it must be a very imposing list indeed.
Why, one of those big-lettered ships was
spoken off Land's End only yesterday; but I
suppose the brokers have brought her up by
the electric telegraph, for she is stated to be
actually taking in cargo in the London Docks.
There's another vessel, with an enormously
long East Indian name that none but the chief
clerk can pronounce, which is believed to be
not very far from the Chops of the Channel;
yet she too, by some broker's sleight-of-hand,
is lying in the Docks, and will, positively, sail
immediately after the Jeremy Diddler.
However, it's "all right" with the young men from
Saint Paul's Churchyard and Cripplegate;
their only idea of a voyage is an Easter
excursion to Herne Bay and back; their sole
acquaintance with sea-going dietary consists
of unlimited orders to the steward for steaks,
stout, and cigars. All day long, the names of
eager, enthusiastic emigrants posted in

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