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Bay of Plenty Times, Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XIV, Issue 1804, 21 February 1885
Of course lie would. We went into the hotel at the corner of Swanston street and Flinders street — four barmen serving as hard as they could go. The liquor I had was good, and to finish this subject I will remark that I never had a bad glass of liquor in Melbourne; but then I never went into any but the best houses. There may be bad liquor, and I dare say there is, but I never got any, and there is never any outcry about being poisoned, the same as I have heard m every city of New Zealand for years. I left my new acquaintance, and proceeded to the Hawthorne Railway —for four miles, first-claBS return, sixpence, and the trains run every quarter of an hour, doing the distance in a little under the quarter, including four stoppages. The first-class carriages j are very nice and comfortable, being fitted-up with arm-chair seats, holding two each, and placed vis-a-vis. The smoking carriage is a handsome saloon affair, well cushioned, with lounges. The train was a long one, quite filled with passengers, and I found out afterwards that this is always the case, as great numbers of business men who have quarterly passes run out home to lunch. The next day I came into Melbourne to have a walk through the streets. Collins street I found to still be the principal one ; there were a few of the old buildings left, but the greater part had given way to lofty structures four and five storeys high. In course of time they will be ten, as land is worth from a thousand to twelve hundred pounds per foot. Some in Bourke street brought that the other day. From Swanston street to the east end Collins street is planted on both sides with trees, and is a very handsome part of the city, most of the houses being stately mansions, and about half of them appear to me to be occupied, as of old, by gentlemen of the medical profession. I noticed several of the old names — Dr Motherwell, Dr Wilkie, Dr Benie, and in his old house at the end of the street Dr Howitt, brother of Mary Howitt, the poetess. They - — -must be very old men now, as I remember them all as middle-aged men thirty years ago. To have lived in such fine style for so long they must have killed or cured an awful number of their fellow creatures. I was nearly forgetting the celebrated Dr L. L. Smith, one of the oldest, and one who has been before the public the most ; he lives in a very handsome house which stands some distance back from the street, and there is a paved walk up to it through magnificent tree ferns and fountains. The doctor looks as young and active as ever, and I longed to ask him what had become of Charlie Hothom's (the nephew of the Governor Sir Charles) white pony, he used to look so conspicuous upon it, and which I remember his riding up and down j *•= — to the Supreme Court. He has been a famous man, and is a famous man| now. West from Swanston street are the shops, and enough grand banks and insurance offices to do the business of all the Colonies. The shops are fine enough, but the banks are marvels of architecture. The old Criterion, to make room for which the old Eoyal was pulled down, and which we thought such a grand affair when poor Wedel kept it, has suffered the same fate, and a grand bank has taken its place. The Bank of New Zealand, a very handsome building just finished, stands upon the site of the old Union Bank of Australasia, at the corner of Queen street. A colossal structure is going up for another bank on the opposite corner_,_jro enumerate all the buildings jffitM be too tedious ; suffice it to say v ' that the whole street is full of enough splendid ones to do credit to London or Paris. The drapers' aud jewellers' shops must be awful traps for the ladies, if one may judge from the number of well-appointed carriages of all kinds, from the pony phaeton driven by a lady with a tiny groom behind to the imposing landau driven by a coachman, who looks like one and not a cross between Sam Weller and a parish beadle. Yes, times are changed. The horses are grand animals, the carriages are fit for Hyde Park, and the liveries of the servants also. There is a sign of wealth in all this, but not of sudden flukey wealtli — nothing showy, nothing that hurts the eyes ; in short, no snobbery. Bourke street is now in all its new greatness — just the same with respect to Collins street as it was thirty years ~— agcP- Mrs Snooks compared to Lady ITortescue. I once heard a lady, many years ago, say that she could tell a Bourke street" bonnet from a Collins street one, and) I believe she could; but for all that it is a grand street, and as many fortunes are made in it as in Collins street. Still it is, and always will be, the second street. It owns the theatres and music halls, and Collins street is above that. It also owns the second rate hotels; in fact they are public houses and always were, not hotels. The old Albion was always a good house, and is now, though its old landlord, honest John Cleeland, is out of it, and has half of Philip Island for a station. Bourke street and all the other streets have improved quite as as much as Collins street, but they are still holding the same relative position to each other. Perhaps it may be as well for my readers who do not know, but may still feel interested in the greatest city of the Southern Hemisphere, to mention that Melbourne proper is a mile square, and is laid out like a chess board, all the streets running parallel or at right angles. Those running east and west are two chains wide — that is the main .^jjtreets ; but to each wide one there is JPa^arrow one of the same name, which, W when the city was surveyed, were inf tended as mere rights of way, as for f instance Hinders Street— Little Flin-
ders street, Collins street — Little Collins street, and so on. The names of the others running east and west are Bourke street, Lonsdale, and La Trobe. The small streets are half a chain wide, and occupied by warehouses and wholesale stores, but very few shops. Land is sold at a fabulous price even in the small streets. The streets running north and south are also two chains wide, the principal one of which is Elizabeth street, running right through the centre of the city. It was once a gully — not a New Zealand gully ; but there is a gentle slope to it east and west, and it is the main drain of the city. The drainage of the city is better arranged now, but in the olden days the water, after an hour or two's rain, used to come rushing down Elizabeth street in a torrent. Some years ago a man was drowned opposite the old Post Office trying to jump the gutter ; lie didn't do it, and the water washed him under the fixed iron crossing bridge, where he got jammed and was drowned before the people looking on could save him. The old Post Office is gone, and the new one cost two hundred and fifty thousand pounds, but it does not strike me as being very imposing for the money. It seems to lack something, fine building though it is, and the people are not satisfied with it. They compare it unfavourably with the Sydney Post Office, which is strange, for the people of Melbourne will not allow of any good thing in Sydney. I myself admire as a public building the ! new Law Courts, in William street, before the Post Office, and I was given to understand they did not cost half | the money. The Town Hall, in Swanston street, is, I think, the next fine building. Of course everyone has heard of the great organ there ; it is grand, very grand, but, like a Handel festival at Home, just a trifle too much of a good thing. As for the Exhibition, I think I will leave it alone ; they have been holding a world's fair there lately. David Copperfield said] of their first servant Paragon, "it seems she could do everything I had ever heard of and a great many I had never heard of at all," and that fills the bill, as the Americans say. At the world's fair in the Exhibition there was everything I had ever heard of or seen, and a million others. Pretty women keep stalls, and more pretty women still sell refreshments, and there are concerts and dramatic performances, mixed up with the most wonderful toys for children — dolls that say papa and mamma, and cry like real children ; but enough, it would take whole columns to describe the doings of this same Christmas of 1884 at the Exhibition. I was coaxed to a high class concert at the Mechanics' Institute, which stands in its old place in Collins street, opposite the Argus office, and looks mighty insignificant in its old age with the Town Hall on one side and a Coffee Palace seventeen storeys high on the other. However, I went to the concert, and when I saw the line of carriages and the class of people going in I thought I had come for a treat ; when I got inside I thought so still more. I never in my life saw such an audience in any hall or theatre in the Colonies. The men and women were all evidently the very ereme ie la crbne of Melbourne society. I looked at my programme, which was in my seat, and not being able to make anything of it handed it to my companion, a young lady and rather near relative. "They are all new pieces," she whispered. My heart sank within me; I do not like new music. Presently two young ladies came upon the platform dressed alike and sat down to the piano and played a duet, while a band of stringed instruments accompanied them. It was Greek to me, but they played well. It was better than a mere digital performance, but still I could not understand it. "What does it mean?" I whispered. " They are two of the pupils of the Professor," she answered. « Eh ?" " Don't you know," she whispered, " that this is a presentation concert, and we could not pay. The performers are all pupils of the Professor, and the audience the relations and friends of the pupils." It was so. A show concert of pupils, and I am bound to say that they one and all performed well while I stayed, but before they were half through the second part I was back in Hawthorne complaining bitterly that I had been sold, and would not have gone across the street to an amateur performance of pupils without I was personally interested in them.
Bay of Plenty Times, Bay of Plenty Times, Volume XIV, Issue 1804, 21 February 1885
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