Scope and Contents
Addressed from Port Philip Heads, Melbourne, 10 July 1855, the autograph letter signed by Sir Charles Hotham (then lieutenant governor of
the Australian colony of Victoria) is to the geologist Sir Roderick Murchison (1792-1871).
The letter begins with Hotham assuring Murchison that with regard to the
'pretensions' of 'Mr. Clarke' (meaning the geologist William Branwhite Clarke, 1798-1878), in claiming to
have made the first discovery of gold in Australia, he is 'delighted' that Murchison has 'not allowed his assertions to remain uncontradicted'. Hotham continues by stating, 'I have always considered that your deductions on the probability of gold being procurable in Australia from what you knew to exist in the Ural mountains is one of the most singular occurences on record ...'.
Hotham then offers some comments on the
progress of gold mining in Australia: 'gold continues to spread ... four new gold fields have been discovered this year, besides gold quartz veins innumerable, the last one supposed to be the richest in the known world,
and extensive investments are being made in them. Machinery – crushing and puddling are largely at play in our gold districts, art & skill, instead of more rude manual labours are being employed. Neither you or I will see a decrease in the exportation of gold from this colony, but we shall see what is worse ... a decrease in our own fortunes from its superabundance ...'.
Clarke’s discovery of gold in 1841 west of Sydney in the Blue Mountains was considered to have primacy over the then competing claims of Murchison, Lhotsky