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rope is tightening and dipping. The anchor is
up. I hear the last tug of the capstan, the
last tramping chorus of the soldiers who
help the crew. There are some sweethearts
of the band near me, waving their handkerchiefs
to two fifers, who seem afraid to appear
interested in them, but wave signals
surreptitiously. There are a few soldiers looking
back at Gib, thinking of its Black Hole and
brandy shops. Some ladies upon the quarter-
deck: on the shore, a wail of deserted wives.
But careless of all this, floats out the brave
strong ship, red flags flying, the band's
mechanical Auld Lang Syne greeting us
by whiffs as passing the French ship that
mans its yards, she grandly rounds the rock
corner, and disappears eastward from our
eyes.

SULTRY DECEMBER.

AFTER, six years of life in the climate of
Victoria, I speak as I feel of its hot wind.
And upon this head what is said of Victoria
applies, with some modification, to the
neighbouring colonies of New South Wales and
South Australia.

The hot winds generally begin to parch us
in the middle of November. I have known
them to come in October, but they seldom
do so. It is in December that they are most
felt: their season extends over January,
February, and March; and, in a subdued
way, reaches sometimes to the middle of
April. To a healthy man the first day of
an ordinary hot wind gives no trouble;
but, unless it veer round to the south
by evening, the night is oppressive. The
second day of the wind affects every one with
more or less of languor; the third, makes
the strong man look jaded: and it prostrates
the delicate. Should there be yet a fourth
day of the northern blast after a suffocating
night, every one talks with dismay about the
thermometer, and has his mind filled with
the one thoughtwhen will the wind change?
Fortunately, this wind rarely lasts in Victoria
beyond the third or fourth day. A cool,
moist seabreeze, setting in from the south,
conquers the dry furnace blast of the desert.

The manner of change from the hot wind
to the cool, varies in different summers.
During the first year of my residence in
Victoria, there were frequent showers of rain in
the summer months: the hot winds, when
prevailing, generally blew in the morning
and changed in the afternoon after a struggle
of thunder, lightning, and rain. The air then
became fresh, and a cool evening was but the
pleasanter for coming after the discomfort of
a sultry day.

The second of my summers in Victoria
was very dry; we were without rain for five
months, and the hot winds that often blew
for three or four successive days, were very
trying to the constitution. The changes of
wind did not come with rain. The seabreeze
met in waterless conflict the blast from the
north, and, in the hour of strife, darkened
the sun with thick columns of sand and dust
until its victory was perfect.

Thirty degrees is about the range taken by
this wind, in altering the temperature of the
day. The average heat of summer, in its
absence, is about seventy-five in the shade:
the ordinary hot wind raises this, perhaps, as
high as ninety-five; but a severe blast from
the desert carries it yet higher. One of the
hottest days I ever knew in Melbourne was
the day before Christmas Day last year, when
the thermometer stood at the extreme height
of one hundred and nine in the shade. The
heat so much resembled the blast from a
furnace that, when facing the wind, the eye
smarted with heat from the contact.

The average number of days on which the
hot winds prevail during the whole summer
in Victoria, is about seventy-five. Delightful
weather is to be enjoyed on days that intervene.
It cannot be surpassed by that of the
sunniest and freshest June and July days of
England.

Some days after the hot winds have set in
from the north, their effects are to be seen in
the withering of vegetation. The natural
grass of the country, deprived of all sap and
moisture, is ready, if a spark fall on it, to
leap out into sheets of fire which, borne with
the speed of the wind, may climb great trees,
and, sweeping away blazing foliage and bark
fresh brands to beget new conflagrations
carry ruin to the homesteads of the settlers
within hundreds of miles of country. The
worst bush fire ever known in Australia
occurred in the year eighteen hundred and
fifty-one, on the day bearing the ill-omened
name, Black Thursday, already described in
this Journal.* On that occasion the thermometer
reached one hundred and seventeen
degrees in the shade. Such a day has never
since been suffered; and, as seven years have
elapsed without the recurrence of a like
calamity, it is to be hoped that affliction so severe
may prove of rare occurrence.
* See Volume Thirteen, page 888.

One trouble attendant on these winds
arises from the sudden and great alterations
of temperature to be endured by those who
live under their influence. On certain days last
summer, in Melbourne the thermometer varied
thirty, forty, and, in one instance, fifty degrees
in a day; whilst scarcely a week passed that
was not marked by rapid changes. Another
trouble isor, more particularly, wasthe
dust in the neighbourhood of great thoroughfares
cut up by extensive and incessant
traffic.

Before there were any facilities for watering
the streets in Melbourne the dust nuisance
was awful. In a main street the townsman
suddenly found himself enveloped in a gritty
cloud, which put his eyes to a sharp torture.
Beset by the shouting of unseen bullock-

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