Some short time also before I left the settlement, two murders were committed, by men named Brown and Kenny; the former of whom had killed several men at the southward, and was brought from thence to Port Jackson for trial, where he was convicted, executed, and subsequently hung in chains on Pinch-gut, a small island in the centre of the harbour leading to Sydney Cove. The latter was arraigned for the murder of a woman named Smith, who, after he had perpetrated the deed, endeavoured to consume the body of his victim, by thrusting it in the fire. He was executed, and hung in chains at Parramatta.—Several other murders have been committed; but as it is my intention to touch only on the most particular occurrences, I have forborne to name more than those I conceived to be the most atrocious.
* * * * *
Such is as accurate a sketch of the progress of the colony as it comes within the compass of my limits or intention at present to depict. I have omitted numerous occurrences of a trivial nature, considering their detail altogether superfluous, as the interesting narratives of Governor Hunter and Lieutenant-Governor Collins, are sufficient to give the minute inquirers into the rise of the colony a perfect acquaintance with the nature of the general occurrences therein; a continuation of which details would, in fact, be little more than their repetition. I believe I have touched upon the most interesting points in the history of this yet unmatured settlement, subsequent to the valuable relations of these esteemed officers, except such as relate to politics, and other topics, which may hereafter be subjects of contemplation; and my principal object has been, to carry to the mind of the reader an idea of the progressive maturation of the colony, without fatiguing his eye with minutioe which might render the work tedious, and induce him to regret the hour which he has devoted to its perusal. It now remains for me to depict the state of the colony, at the close of the autumn of 1809 (March), when I sailed for England; and, in the execution of this part of my task, I shall endeavour so to arrange my subject as to preserve an interest, unbroken and unfailing, throughout the whole. By a rigid adherence to facts, I shall enable the reader, by a comparison of my various statements with the previous details of the luminous narrators above mentioned, to form just and indisputable estimates of the increase of the settlement; of its growth in population and extent, as well as in the means of supporting its increased members. This division of my subject will also afford the political philosopher new materials for calculation, on a subject so interesting, so important to the civilized world, as the colonization and cultivation of those remote parts of the universe, which may, at some future period, be made the seats of new empires, by draining off from the old world that superfluity of population which, like an insupportable burden of fruit on a tree, unless removed, would tend to depress and destroy the trunk which produced and supported it.
Chapter III. Present State of the Colony.
The account of land in cultivation, as it appeared at the last muster taken by me, according to direction which I received from his Honour Lieutenant-Governor Foveaux, and making a part of the several tracts granted by the crown to settlers, etc. as described in the survey, stood as follows:—
Belonging to the Crown—100 acres in wheat.
Belonging to Officers—326 1/2 acres of wheat, 178 acres of maize, 22 1/2 acres of barley, 13 acres of oats, 13/4 acres of pease and beans, 191/4 acres of potatoes, 65 acres of orchard, and 6 acres of flax and hemp.
Belonging to Settlers—6460 1/2 acres of wheat, 32111/4 acres of maize, 512 acres of barley, 79 1/2 acres of oats, 983/4 acres of pease and beans, 2813/4 acres of potatoes, 13 acres of turnips, 4811/4 acres of garden and orchard, and 28 1/2 acres of flax, hemp, and hops.
Total.—6887 acres of wheat, 33891/4 acres of maize, 534 1/2 acres of barley, 92 1/2 acres of oats, 100 1/2 acres of pease and beans, 301 acres of potatoes, 13 acres of turnips, 5461/4 acres of orchard and garden, 34 1/2 acres of flax, hemp, and hops.
The following is the general course of cultivation adopted, and justified by experience:—
January.—The ground intended for wheat and barley to be sown in, ought to be now broken up; carrots should also be sown, and potatoes planted in this month are most productive for the winter consumption.
February.—A general crop of turnips for sheep, etc. should be sown this month, the land having been previously manured, cleared, ploughed, etc. This is also the proper month for putting Cape barley in the ground, for green food for horses, cattle, etc.
March.—Strawberries should be planted this month, and onions for immediate use should be sown. All forest land should be now sown with wheat; and turnips, for a general crop, in the proportion of one pound of seed to an acre of land.
April.—From the middle of this month, until the end of May, is the best season for sowing wheat in the districts of Richmond Hill, Phillip, Nelson, and Evan, as it is not so subject to the caterpillar, smut, rust, and blight. Oats may also be sown now for a general crop. Asparagus haulm should also be cut and carried off the ground, and the beds dunged.
May.—Pease and beans for a field crop should be sown in this month; but, in gardens, at pleasure, as you may be supplied with them, as well as most other vegetable productions, sallads, etc. nearly at all times of the year.
June.—This is the best season for transplanting all kinds of fruit-trees, except evergreens; layers may also be now made, and cuttings planted from hardy trees. Spring barley should be sown this month upon all rich land, three bushels to an acre.
July.—Potatoes which were planted in January are now fit for digging. Stocks to bud and plant upon should now be transplanted; cabbage and carrots may be sown; and strawberries should be cleaned, and have their spring dressing.
August.—Potatoes must now be planted for general summer use; the ground prepared for clover at this season is best. Cucumbers and melons of all kinds should now be sown, and evergreens transplanted. Vines ought to be cut and trimmed early in this month. Ground may this month also be ploughed for the reception of maize, and turnip land prepared for grass.
September.—This is the best season for grafting fruit-trees, and the ground should be entirely prepared for planting with maize. Grass-seed or clover should be sown in the beginning of this month, if the weather is favourable, and there is a prospect of rains.
October.—All fruit-trees now in bearing should be examined, and where the fruit is set too thick, it must be reduced to a moderate quantity. The farmer should plant as much of his maize this month as possible, and clean ground for potatoes.
November.—In this month the harvest becomes general throughout the colony, and no wheat ought to be stacked upon the ground, as the moisture which arises from the earth ascends through the stack, and tends much, in this warm climate, to increase the weevils, which prove very destructive to the wheat. Evergreens may now be propagated by layers, and cabbage, lettuce, and turnips sown.
December.—The stubble-ground is frequently planted with maize in this month, so that it produces a crop of wheat and another of maize in the same year; but the policy of thus forcing the ground is much questioned by many experienced agriculturists, and is supposed to have led to the ruin of some of these avaricious farmers. Cauliflower and brocoli seeds may now be sown.
The prices paid for planting, clearing ground, etc. is as follows, according to the regulations specified in the general orders:—For felling forest timber, 10s. per acre; for burning off ditto, 25s. per acre; for breaking up new ground, 24s. per acre; for breaking up stubble or corn land, 13s. 4d. per acre; for chipping in wheat, 6s. 8d. per acre; for reaping ditto, 8s. per acre; for threshing ditto, 7d. per bushel; for planting maize, 6s. 8d. per acre; for hilling ditto, 6s. 8d. per acre; and for pulling and husking ditto, 5d. per bushel.—The hours of public labour are from sunrise to eight o'clock, and (Sundays excepted) from nine to three. On Saturdays, on account of the stores being open for the issue of provisions, the hours are from sunrise to nine o'clock.
Yearly wages for servants, with board, 10L.; weekly ditto, with provisions, 6s.; daily wages, with board, 1s.; and daily wages, without board, 2s. 6d.
The following is an accurate account of Live Stock, taken at the same time as the preceding statement of land in cultivation:—
Belonging to the Crown—28 male horses, 19 female ditto; 21 bulls, 1791 cows; 1800 oxen; 395 male sheep, and 604 female ditto.
Belonging to Officers—81 male horses, 146 female ditto; 38 bulls, 1111 cows; 696 oxen; 2638 male sheep, 5298 female ditto; 40 male goats, 73 female ditto; 486 male pigs, and 537 female ditto.
Belonging to Settlers—258 male horses, 329 female ditto; 40 bulls, 1906 cows; 1172 oxen; 7449 male sheep, 15,327 female ditto; 799 male goats, 1670 female ditto; 7693 male pigs, and 7435 female ditto.
Belonging to Persons not holding Land—44 male horses, 35 female ditto; 19 bulls, 307 cows; 103 oxen; 325 male sheep, 1222 female ditto; 97 male goats, 296 female ditto; 1641 male pigs, and 1576 female ditto.
Total of Stock—411 male horses, 529 female ditto; 118 bulls, 5115 cows; 3771 oxen; 10807 male sheep, 22,451 female ditto; 936 male goats, 2039 female ditto; 9820 male pigs, and 9548 female ditto.
The common lands to the various districts, which were located in perpetuity in 1804, are now felt very serviceable, and were just granted at a period that prevented any of the settlers from being thoroughly enclosed, so that every grazier has now an opportunity of feeding his stock thereon, without confining himself to the quantity of land he chooses to cultivate on his own farm.
From the above statements it will most certainly appear, that the colony is in a very flourishing state, and, no doubt, will soon become independent of the mother country, if those methods are pursued which are best calculated to promote this end. No one step has latterly been taken to facilitate this desirable object more than the measures adopted by Colonel Johnstone and Lieutenant-Governor Foveaux, who distributed the breeding cattle amongst the industrious and deserving settlers; a step which has produced benefits of a two-fold nature—laying the foundation for the more rapid increase of stock, and affording a stimulus to meritorious exertion. In the districts about Hawkesbury, the grain yields abundantly; but at the other settlements it is less productive: The reason of this distinction must be chiefly obvious to the reader of the preceding sketch, in the liability of the soil at the former settlement to frequent inundations, which serve every purpose of manure, and uniformly keep the ground in a mellow state. It has been erroneously stated, that the average produce of the land in New South Wales is sixty bushels of wheat per acre; but I can take upon myself to say, that twenty-five bushels an acre will be found the full extent of the average produce. When a comparison is made between the present state of the country and its former condition, the improvements will appear considerable in agriculture, and almost incredible in every other respect. The season for the gathering in of the wheat has been gradually accelerated, ever since the commencement of the colony; and the harvest of the last year previous to my departure from the settlement, commenced nearly a month sooner than it did at the first: The fruit seemed also later.
Prices of Provisions, and Ration.
The following was the current price of Articles of Food, in the year 1809:—Wheat 12s. per bushel; maize 5s. per bushel; barley 5s. per bushel; oats 4s. 6d. per bushel; potatoes 10s. per cwt.; turnips 4d. per bunch; carrots 6d. per bunch; cabbages 3d. each; lemons 6d. per dozen; peaches 2d. per dozen; apples 2s. per dozen; pears 3s. per dozen; strawberries 1s. per quart; quinces 2s. per dozen; water melons 9d. each; musk and other melons 1s. each; apricots 1s. per dozen; mulberries 1s. per quart; Cape gooseberries 8d. per quart; native currants 8d. per quart; oranges, raspberries, grapes, plums, almonds, pomegranates, limes, shaddocks, citrons, pine-apples, nectarines, and guavas, are to be procured; but their prices are variable, some of them being more scarce than others. Cucumbers 1d. each, mushrooms 8d. per quart, French beans 4d. per quart, onions 20s. per cwt. peas 1s. per quart, beans 9d. per quart, asparagus 2s. per hundred, artichokes 6d. each, spinage 1s. per dish, pumpkins 6d. each, cauliflowers 6d. each, brocoli 6d. per dish, figs 3d. per dozen. Beet-root, lettuces, raddishes, sallad of all kinds, horse-raddish, samphire, watercresses, celery, endive, and herbs of every description, are extremely plentiful, and to be purchased at reasonable rates.
Animal food is to be procured at the following prices:—Beef 1s. 3d. per lb.; mutton 1s. 3d. per lb.; pork 1s. per lb.; lamb 1s. 3d. per lb.; kangaroo 8d. per lb. (the flesh of this animal is somewhat similar in taste to English beef, but rather inferior, owing to the want of fat); goat mutton 1s. per lb.; turkeys 10s. each; geese 8s. each; ducks 4s. each; Muscovy ducks 5s. each; fowls 2s. 6d. each; wild ducks 2s. each; teal 1s. 3d. each; rabbits 4s. each; roasting pigs 5s. each; pigeons 1s. 3d. each; kids 5s. each; eggs 1s. 6d. per dozen; butter 6s. per lb.; milk 1s. per quart; cheese 2s. 6d. per lb.; oysters 1s. per quart; and lobsters 1s. each.
Fish is exceedingly numerous of every description, and is very good as well as moderate in charge. A turtle was caught recently in Broken Bay, with a hook, weighing seven hundred weight, which was retailed to the inhabitants at 4d. per lb.
The following is to be considered as a full weekly Ration, which is issued from the stores whenever there is a sufficiency without a prospect of want, to those who are in the employ of government:—Seven pounds of salt beef, or four pounds of salt pork; eight pounds of flour or meal, or an addition of a quarter of a pound of wheat to each pound, if it cannot be ground; pease or other pulse, three pounds; six ounces of sugar in lieu of butter. The same quantity is to be given by their employer to those who are indented to settlers, etc.; but as frequent alterations are necessarily made, according to the pressure of circumstances, the deficiency is generally made up with maize.
Trade and Manufactures.
A manufactory has been established for coarse woollen blanketing or rugs, and coarse linen called drugget; a linen of a very good quality has also been produced, which has been disposed of to settlers, etc. and issued from the stores to those who labour for the crown. The spinning has been done by the female convicts, and the weaving, etc. by the male. The person who superintended this department, for some time, was George Mealmaker, a well-known political character in North Britain; but he has been dead some years, and the manufactory, which adjoins the goal at Parramatta, has been almost entirely destroyed by fire; consequently, the progress which would have been made in this manufacture has been greatly retarded. When I left the colony, however, a very deserving, respectable, and persevering settler, at Hawkesbury, was about to commence in that way on a very extensive scale; for which laudable purpose he had sown several acres with flax and hemp, and I am hopeful his exertions will tend to benefit the colony, to which the establishment of a manufactory of this description has been long an object ardently to be desired; and it is to be hoped, that the effort of this new speculator will be crowned with that success which it so eminently deserves.
The leather made from the skins of cattle, kangaroo, seal, etc. are extremely good, and are tanned by a bark which grows in the settlement, much sooner than a similar operation is performed in England. The sole leather, in my opinion, cannot be surpassed in point of goodness; and every improvement which can arise from competition may be naturally expected, since there are several persons who follow this line of business both at Sydney and Parramatta.
Several potteries have been established; but the most celebrated manufacturer of this description, named Skinner, lately died. His dishes, plates, basons, covers, cups and saucers, teapots, and chimney ornaments, were in a very superior style of workmanship; and other useful articles equally handsome.
Tobacco-pipes, which, some years ago, at the cheapest periods cost sixpence each, are now manufactured in the settlement, of a very good quality, and are retailed for one penny each. The great propensity to smoking which prevails throughout the colony, causes an astonishing consumption of this article, and has well repaid the original speculator.
Salt is made in great abundance from salt water; and large salt-pans have been erected at Rose Bay, whence, and at Newcastle, great quantities are made and sent to Sydney. A plan, however, had been proposed to the governor, for making it by evaporation, which it was supposed would be carried into effect; it was in agitation, and was nearly brought to perfection when this statement was made.
Some very palatable beer is brewed in the settlement, at four extensive breweries; one at Sydney, one at Kissing Point, one at Parramatta, and the other at Hawkesbury; and a number of persons brew their own beer. Some improvements here may yet be looked for, since at present the grain is malted very badly in the colony, which I attribute more to the want of proper utensils than any deficiency of ability. In a short time also they will be enabled to grow a sufficiency of hops in the settlement for every purpose, without being compelled, as at present, to have recourse to the mother country for this necessary article.
Eight wind-mills have been erected for the purpose of grinding corn; and a water-mill, which had been erected at Parramatta, has, most unfortunately, been destroyed by a flood, which came on some time previous to my leaving the colony.
There are four auctioneers, or vendue masters, in the settlements; two at Sydney, one at Parramatta, and one at Hawkesbury: They usually charge five per cent. on sales.
The shops are particularly respectable, and decorated with much taste. Articles of female apparel and ornament are greedily purchased; for the European women in the settlement spare no expense in ornamenting their persons, and in dress, each seems to vie with the other in extravagance. The costliness of the exterior there, as well as in most other parts of the world, is meant as the mark of superiority; but confers very little grace, and much less virtue, on its wearer, when speaking of the dashing belles who generally frequent the Rocks, who may often be seen of an evening attired in the greatest splendour, and on the following morning are hid from public view with extremely mean attire.
Spirits are also bought up with astonishing rapidity; and, when prohibited, will ever be obtained by some means or other, and I have known it to sell as high as thirty shillings per bottle; the general price by the retailer, however, is from ten to sixteen shillings per bottle. Most of the people in the colony, male and female, give way to excessive drinking. Wines are not so eagerly sought after, and are therefore more reasonable than might be expected; but if the rage for luxuries continues to increase in the same proportion as it has done for the last few years, it must soon obtain an enhanced price, and a more rapid sale. The evils consequent upon the unrestrained use of these articles, are such as to justify the most poignant regrets that they should be held in such estimation by all descriptions of persons, since they have proved from their first introduction into the colony, and still continue to be, the fertile sources of social disorder, of domestic misery, of disorders, and of death. It is to no purpose that the higher orders set examples of sobriety and temperance; it is of no avail that the governor uses every prudent exertion to restrain the immoderate traffic in these pernicious liquors; threats, intreaties, and punishments, are equally useless; and while spirits are to be procured, the inhabitants will possess them at the price of every other comfort of life.
While on this subject, I shall just take occasion to advert to a singular circumstance respecting the specie of the settlement. The copper coin which was sent out by government, and was originally issued at the close of the year 1800, has most surprisingly decreased, as very little indeed is now used currently. This occurrence is so strange in itself, that I am totally at a loss to account for it, on any principles whatever. Considering its rapid diminution, I cannot conjecture by what means the circulation is still kept up; nor, on the other hand, can I suppose that the coin is caught up for the purposes of exportation, as it was issued in the colony, in the first instance, at one hundred per cent. above its real value. The scarcity of this specie, at all events, operates as an obstruction to trade; and I think that some steps ought to be taken to remove the cause of complaint, by filling up the deficiency which has so unaccountably taken place.
There are nine thousand three hundred and fifty-six inhabitants in the settlement, out of which number upwards of six thousand support themselves, and the rest are victualled and clothed at the expense of the crown. Most men of a trade or profession pursue their calling; and labourers are either employed by settlers to cultivate their lands, and in various occupations, or work in different gangs, where they can be serviceable.
When a transport arrives with prisoners, their irons are immediately knocked off (if this has not been previously done), unless some powerful reason exists to justify an exception from this rule. The muster is taken by the commissary, who gives receipts for every thing belonging to the crown; the list, with remarks, is given to the governor, who orders them to what part of the settlement he thinks proper, where the deficiency of hands in agricultural or other employments renders such an acquisition desirable.
The behaviour of the prisoners has recently been much less exceptionable than in the earlier days of the settlement, and they seem to have accommodated their dispositions, in a great degree, to their new situations; those who are guilty of theft have latterly been transported to some remote settlement, and this system of punishment has been found more efficacious than the infliction of castigation, or any other corporal punishment, since they feel an unconquerable repugnance to the idea of a separation from their old connections and companions, and a removal to a solitary scene, where they cannot hope for any opportunities of re-commencing those pursuits which are so truly congenial to their dispositions.
Speaking generally of the natives, they are a filthy, disagreeable race of people; nor is it my opinion that any measures which could be adopted would ever make them otherwise. Their wars are as frequent as usual, and are attended with as much cruelty both towards men and women. They are still ready at all times to commit depredations upon the Indian corn, whenever there is a probability of their attempts being attended with the desired success; and this predatory disposition renders it frequently necessary to send detachments of the military to disperse them; but the utmost care is taken to prevent any fatal circumstances from attending these acts of needful hostility, and orders are uniformly issued never to fire upon the natives, unless any particularly irritating act should render such a measure expedient. They are amazingly expert at throwing the spear, and will launch it with unerring aim to a distance of thirty to sixty yards. I myself have seen a lad hurl his spear at a hawk-eagle (a bird which, with wings expanded, measures from seven to ten feet), flying in the air, with such velocity and correctness as to pierce his object, and bring the feathered victim to the earth. This circumstance will tend to shew how soon the youth of these tribes are trained to the use of the spear, and the dexterity to which they attain in this art before they reach the age of manhood. Indeed, instances are by no means uncommon, where an army of natives is seen following a youthful leader of fifteen or sixteen years of age, and obeying his directions implicitly, because his previous conduct had been characterized by remarkable vigour of body, and intrepidity of mind—virtues which qualify natives of every age and rank for the highest honours and the most marked distinctions amongst these untutored sons of nature. Their attachment to savage life is unconquerable; nor can the strongest allurements tempt them to exchange their wild residences in the recesses of the country, for the comforts of European life. A singular instance of this fact occurred in the case of Be-ne-long, who was brought to England by Governor Phillip, and returned with Governor Hunter. For some time after his return, it is true, he assumed the manners, the dress, and the consequence of an European, and treated his countrymen with a distance which evinced the sense he entertained of his own increased importance; and this disposition was encouraged by every method which suggested itself to the minds of those of the colony with whom he associated; but, notwithstanding so much pains had been taken for his improvement, both when separated from his countrymen, and since his return to New South Wales, he has subsequently taken to the woods again, returned to his old habits, and now lives in the same manner as those who have never mixed with the civilized world. Sometimes, indeed, he holds intercourse with the colony; but every effort uniformly fails to draw him once again into the circle of polished society, since he prefers to taste of liberty amongst his native scenes, to the unsatisfactory gratification which arises from an association with strangers, however kind their treatment of him, and however superior to his own enjoyments.
Yet there are many of the natives who feel no disinclination to mix with the inhabitants occasionally—to take their share in the labours and the reward of those who toil. Amongst these there are five in particular, to whom our countrymen have given the names of Bull Dog, Bidgy Bidgy, Bundell, Bloody Jack, and another whose name I cannot call to recollection, but who had a farm of four acres and upwards, planted with maize, at Hawkesbury, which he held by permission of Governor King; and the other four made themselves extremely useful on board colonial vessels employed in the fishing and sealing trade, for which they are in the regular receipt of wages. They strive, by every means in their power, to make themselves appear like the sailors with whom they associate, by copying their customs, and imitating their manners; such as swearing, using a great quantity of tobacco, drinking grog, and other similar habits. These natives are the only ones, I believe, who are inclined to industrious behaviour, and they have most certainly rendered more essential services to the colony than any others of their countrymen, who, in general, content themselves with assisting to draw nets for fish, for the purpose of coming in for a share of the produce of others toil.
The general pursuits of the natives, their manners and customs, have been so accurately described by preceding writers on the subject, that I shall forbear from entering into more minute particulars, which would swell my sketch far beyond its intended limits, and could add nothing to the knowledge of which the well-informed reader is already possessed. It will be sufficient to remark, that such as the inhabitants of the interior of New Holland were represented ten years since, they still remain, as the antecedent remarks must sufficiently illustrate: The jealousy of the new settlers, which originally existed, has indeed entirely vanished; but the proximity of a civilized colony has not tended in the least to polish the native rudeness and barbarism, which mark the behaviour of the original inhabitants of this remote spot of the universe.
Although the climate is variable, yet it is very healthy, and uncommonly fine for vegetation. Most of the disorders which exist in the settlement are the fruits of intemperance and debauchery, the necessary result of that fatal addiction to drunkenness, which produces mental imbecility and bodily decay. Frost is known but little; at least, ice is very seldom seen; and, I believe, snow has never yet appeared since the establishment of the colony: Yet on the highest ridges of the remoter mountains, to which I have had occasion to allude as never yet having been passed, snow is to be seen for a long time together; and this circumstance is a proof of their elevation. The usual weather in New South Wales is uncommonly bright and clear, and the common weather there, in spring and autumn, is equal to the finest summer day in England. This purity and warmth of atmosphere, it may be naturally inferred, must be particularly favourable to the growth of shrubs and plants, which flourish exceedingly, and attain to a degree of perfection and beauty which is unknown to the inhabitants of this country. The woods and fields present a boundless variety of the choicest productions of nature, which gratify the senses with their fragrance and magnificence; while the branches of the trees display a brilliant assemblage of the feathered race, whose plumage, "glittering in the sun," dazzles the eye of the beholder with its unmatched loveliness and lustre, and presenting, on the whole, a scene too rich for the pencil to pourtray—too glowing and animated for the feeble pen of mortal to describe with half the energy and beauty which belong to it, and without which description is unfaithful.
This subject has been so well treated, and the various species of animals, etc. have been so accurately described, by those who have treated on the history of this colony, that it would be superfluous in me to re-tread the ground which has been already so ably trodden. I shall therefore content myself with describing the few natural productions of the country of New Holland, which have been discovered subsequent to the latest publication on the subject, and concerning which, consequently, no information of an accurate and public nature has yet been transmitted to this country. The exploration of the works of nature in this immense tract of the universe, is however still incomplete; and I have no doubt but the lapse of a few years will tend greatly to the augmentation of the knowledge we now possess on this interesting subject, and will prove the fertile source of new delight and instruction to the mind which can derive enjoyment from that pure source, the contemplation of nature in her varied and astonishing works.
The Koolah, or Sloth, a singular animal of the Opossum species, having a false belly, was found by the natives, and brought into the town alive, on the 10th of August, 1803. This is a very singular animal; for when it ascends a tree, at which it is astonishingly expert, it will never quit it until it has cleared it of its leaves. It is mostly found in the mountains and deep ravines to the southward and northward of Broken Bay, and the natives instantly discover its concealment by observing the leaves of the Gum-tree eaten off, this being the tree which it usually selects. It is astonishingly indolent, and is uniformly found with a companion, locked in each other's arms, as it were. Its claws are very strong, and are of material service in assisting it to climb trees; its length from eighteen inches to two feet; and two stuffed specimens are to be seen in Mr. Bullock's Museum.
Latterly also, a species of the Hyena has been found at Port Dalrymple, which is extremely ferocious in appearance, has a remarkably large mouth, is striped all over, very strongly limbed, and its claws strong, long, and sharp. This animal is likewise of the Opossum kind, having, like the generality of subjects found in New Holland, a false belly. Notwithstanding its apparent ferocity, it has never yet ventured to attack any human being, but has confined its ravages to sheep and poultry, amongst which it has committed frequent and very serious depredations. No one of these animals, I believe, has hitherto been brought over to England, either alive or dead, since their native fierceness renders them less easy of capture than the Koolah.
Flying Mice are likewise found, in considerable numbers, in this country, of a very handsome appearance, and also of the Opossum species. The tail of this interesting little animal resembles a feather; its belly is white, and its back brown; and it is covered with a down as soft as satin. It flies like an Opossum. This subject is much regarded for its beauty.
The Porcupine Ant-eaters are found in most parts of the country, and are esteemed very good eating; they burrow in the earth, and have a tongue of remarkable length, which they put out of their mouth, and the ants immediately crowd upon it, as if lured by some particular attraction, and when it appears to be pretty well covered, it is drawn in with rapidity, and the insects are expeditiously swallowed.—Stuffed specimens of these are also to be seen in the Museum of Mr. Bullock.
Black and white mottled Fern tree was found at the head of Lane Cove, by Colonel Paterson, about five years since; but it does not run to any considerable size. It is esteemed a very handsome wood for the purposes of veneering.
The Spice tree has also been found to the southward: It is a very strong aromatic, and possesses a more pungent quality than pepper. This tree produces a berry, which, as well as the bark, is of a very powerful spicy nature.
Fustic has been discovered at Newcastle—a wood which makes the finest yellow dye; but it has been hitherto confined to New South Wales. Indigo was also found in different parts of the country; but, after a thorough trial of its properties by a French gentleman of much patience and experience, as well as by some other individuals of research, it was found impossible to derive any benefit from it.
Native green currants grow wildly, and make an uncommonly fine jelly. A wild cherry is also found in the settlement, growing with the stone on the outside, of a red colour, but nearly unfit to eat; as also a wild fig, equally nauseous, full of seed, but eaten by the natives. Strawberries grow to fine perfection; but no English currant, gooseberry, or cherry trees, are to be seen in the country: Some were brought from England by Captain Kent, of the royal navy, and were in a flourishing state, with some gingers, from Rio de Janeiro, when a fire happened upon that gentleman's farm, and consumed the whole, which has been a very great loss to the colony. Pines, far exceeding in size those of England, are now growing there, but they are scarce; melons, on the contrary, are very large and plentiful. Botany Bay greens are procured in abundance; they much resemble sage in appearance, and are esteemed a very good dish by the Europeans, but despised by the natives. The bark of a tree called Carajong, which grows like a willow, is manufactured into ropes of considerable strength. A single nectarine tree only has been known to bear fruit, which is in the Government Garden. Some coffee trees were planted by a Frenchman (Mons. Declambe), but he unfortunately died before he could bring them to perfection.
The shrubs and plants of this country are all evergreens, and numbers of them are to be seen, covered with beautiful blossoms, at all seasons of the year. Jeraniums flourish in such abundance, that, in various parts of the settlement, they are made into hedges, and are so thick as to be almost impenetrable; they are always in leaf and flower, and emit an odour of the most fragrant nature, perfuming the surrounding atmosphere.
Cedar, and coals, of a very fine quality, are the produce of the Newcastle district, and are procured with very little trouble. Manna has also been found near Port Dalrymple, made by the locusts on the trees, from which it drops in very considerable quantities. But the most prizable subjects which have been discovered here are, the valuable stones; of which the white, yellow, and large brilliant Topazes, are considered of far greater worth than those which are produced in any part of the Brazils; since I was informed, when at Rio Janeiro, in the month of August, 1809, by a number of gentlemen of the best information, amongst whom were the Marquis de Pomball and the Judge Consalvadore, that none which had been found on that coast, could bear a comparison with those of New Holland.
The other animals of this country; the numerous, curious, and beautiful birds, which abound there; and the various reptiles which have been discovered, have been already sufficiently described: More of the latter, however, have subsequently been discovered to be of a venomous nature than was formerly conjectured; and the bite of several species of the Coluber, or Snake, have proved, in various instances, fatal, in the course of a very few minutes after the wound has been received. It is to be wished that some mode of cure could be discovered.—It is worthy of remark, that at Norfolk Island, a spot where a settlement was made, and which has been subsequently evacuated, about three hundred leagues from the nearest coast of New South Wales, no reptiles of any description are to be found; while at Phillip Island, only seven miles from Norfolk Island, several species of reptiles exist in abundance, such as the Centipede, Tarantula, etc.
The religion most generally followed in the colony of New South Wales, is that established according to the usage of the Church of England; and it is a subject of satisfaction to observe that the churches are, generally speaking, well attended. A great part of the military corps, with their officers, uniformly attend divine service.—A Roman Catholic priest (the Rev. Mr. Dixon) was formerly allowed by government to preach in public, but this indulgence has been subsequently withdrawn from some cause or other; and I am somewhat inclined to attribute this alteration to the seditious conduct of the Irish prisoners, some years since, in which it was proved that another priest (Mr. Harold) bore a conspicuous part, upholding and encouraging the designs of those who entertained schemes inimical to the existing government, and subversive of the welfare of the colony.
Some of the Missionary Society preach at the out-settlements, frequently on a Sunday, with various success; and it is much to be lamented, that in the selection of these men, who are sent out to enlighten and instruct the ignorant, greater attention is not paid to their qualifications; and the abuses which are practised under the cloak of religion, in these remote parts of the world, call loudly for a close investigation, and a total reformation of the system. That there are amongst these Missionaries men of strict fidelity, whose hearts are engaged in the task they have undertaken, and whose conduct has justly gained them the esteem and veneration of all classes, is a fact which no dispassionate observer can deny; but it is also equally notorious, that there are too many of an opposite description, who practise every vice, and do the most serious injury to that sacred cause to which they have been delegated, and have engaged to support. If greater pains were taken in the choice of servants, the Missionary institution might tend to the more rapid promotion of the knowledge of religion; but the work will be retarded while improper instruments are used. A Missionary, of irreproachable character, was unhappily murdered a few years since, by some persons whom he had served, and who adopted this new and inhuman method of repaying the obligation which had been conferred upon him.
The natives are in general very superstitious, and entertain some singular notions respecting their deceased friends and countrymen, of which very ample accounts are given in Lieutenant-Governor Collins's interesting publication. Their funeral ceremonies are extremely impressive, and every mark of respect, which suggests itself to their untaught minds, is paid to the body of the deceased. A barbarous custom, however, prevails, which is sanctioned by their rude ideas of religion:—When a mother dies, while giving suck to an infant, the living babe is uniformly thrown into the grave of the parent, and the father having cast a stone upon it, the earth is cast into the pit, and thus the innocent offspring is immolated to an erroneous and superstitious prejudice.
Amongst the convicts the influence of superstition is less prevalent, although, amongst many of the lower orders of Irish, the traces of it are to be discovered; it leads, however, to no injurious consequences, and deserves encouragement, in preference to those totally irreligious principles which might naturally be expected to shew themselves amidst a body of men, of characters and dispositions so hostile to every thing which is virtuous, dignifying, and good.
The morals of the colony are by no means so debauched as the tongue of prejudice has too frequently asserted; on the contrary, virtuous characters are not rare, and honourable principles are not less prevalent here than in other communities of equal extent and limited growth. The instances of drunkenness, dishonesty, and their concomitant offences, are not more common than in the mother country; and those amongst the convicts who are disposed to return to their old habits, and re-commence their depredations upon society are deterred by the severe punishment which awaits their detection: There are many also amongst the prisoners themselves, who are now striking examples of probity, industry, temperance, and virtue; and some have obtained a remission of the punishment which occasioned their residence in the settlement, in consequence of the signal and radical change which had taken place in their inclinations and behaviour. Where there is society their must exist offences; but, on the whole, considering the nature of the colony of New South Wales, the morals of the people are as free from glaring defects, as those of any other tract of equal population in the habitable world; and the characters which are celebrated for their virtues are as numerous, in proportion, as those which are to be found in other countries, where civilization and prosperity have made greater progress, and where individuals have greater inducement to labour, and the prospect of a brighter reward for their industrious exertions.
The erection of a play-house was noticed in the preceding part of this sketch; the abuses which were uniformly committed on the nights of performance, subsequently rendered that a nuisance which was originally intended for an innocent recreation. When the inhabitants were engaged in this enjoyment, their property was left unwatched, and there were ever numbers of dishonest individuals who were ready to seize upon these opportunities to gratify their vicious dispositions. It was also a common practice to give provisions to obtain entrance, if money was scarce; and thus, by the frequent privations of their regular food, many of the convicts were unable to pursue their labour with proper energy and activity. Other abuses also resulted from the establishment of the theatre, which induced the governor to recal the permission which had been given for the performances, and the playhouse itself was soon afterwards levelled to the ground.
Since the destruction of this building, the sources of amusement have been confined to cricket, cards, water-parties, shooting, fishing, hunting the kangaroo, etc. or any other pleasures which can be derived from society where no public place is open for recreations of any description. The officers of the colony have also built a private billiard-room, by subscription, for their own use; and if these amusements possess not that degree of attraction which is attached to dramatic representations, they cannot, on the other hand, be liable to those abuses, and produce those injurious consequences, which previously existed.
Amongst the convicts, indeed, gaming is carried, too frequently, to the most deplorable excesses; and, in some cases, the most abandoned of the prisoners have actually staked the clothes which they wore, and when those were lost, stood amongst their companions in a state of nudity, thus reducing themselves to a level with the natives of the woods. The most severe measures were called for by this unprincipled practice, and the most gross part of the custom was done away; but it was impossible to put a total stop to the gratification of this gaming disposition, which is still pursued with equal avidity in some way or other, and which may be said, next to drinking, to constitute the chief pleasure and amusement of the lowest classes of the prisoners.
The amusements of the natives need no recital here, as they have been fully detailed in other publications.
The whole of the military in the colony consists of the New South Wales corps (now the 102d regiment), two volunteer associations, and a body-guard of troopers for the governor, commanded by a serjeant. In fact, the inutility of a larger military force must be obvious to every man of common reflection, since it is merely required for the purposes of preserving domestic peace, which might be in danger of continual interruptions, in case of the absence of military power altogether, from the turbulent dispositions of many of the convicts. This inclination to revolt, however, is repressed by the appearance of a few organized troops; and a sufficient check is kept upon the natives, who still continue to make occasional incursions, and commit their depredations upon the India corn of the settlers, whenever an opportunity offers itself: At these periods the soldiers are called in, and a few of them are found sufficient to drive back the plunderers, who hate and fear the approach of a soldier.
The buildings are of stone, brick, and lath and plaister; weather-boarded; and the houses are durable. There are two churches; one, St. Philip's, which possesses a very handsome service of communion plate, presented by his Majesty, and received by the Calcutta, on the 8th of October, 1803; and the other, St. John's, at Parramatta: There are likewise a school and chapel at Hawkesbury, where divine service is performed. Two jails have also been erected in the colony. A house has been built for the governor at each of the principal settlements; which also possess several very commodious barracks, with many other public buildings, and a great number of extensive and handsome houses, the property of private individuals. There are a stone bridge, and several very substantial wooden ones, which, if not celebrated for beauty, are found extremely serviceable, and well calculated for all the present purposes of the colony, which is not yet sufficiently advanced in prosperity to prefer ornament to use. A new stone citadel is in a course of building, on which the Royal Standard, for the first time in these settlements, was hoisted on the 4th of June, 1803; and several batteries are erected.—For a more particular account of the buildings at Sydney, I must refer the reader to the following explanation of the Views of Sydney, the principal seat of government, which accompany this sketch:—
In the View of Sydney, from the East side of the Cove, No. I. the house under two birds, as r r, is the Residence of the Governor in Chief, which is built of brick, plaistered over; has very convenient stables and outhouses, and is a very pleasant and comfortable residence; the garden and shrubbery extend to about four acres. The Flag-staff near the gardenhouse bears the Union on holidays, and different signal-colours are used there to form a communication between the shore and the king's vessels in the Cove. The Pine tree growing in the garden is from Norfolk Island, and runs to an amazing height and thickness; the knots from this tree are used instead of flambeaux, and burn remarkably well. The buildings under three birds, as r r r, extending some distance right and left, and forming a square, are the Military Barracks, built of brick, the largest of which was erected by Lieutenant-Governor Foveaux: This is an extensive well-built place, and was finished in far less time than any building ever begun upon by government in that settlement, considering its magnitude. The White House and Warehouses, which appear immediately under that building, although a considerable distance on this side, belong to Mr. Simeon Lord; they are built of stone, and the dwelling-house is by far the most magnificent in the colony. The road leading through Barrack-square is the high road to Parramatta. The house at the head of Government-wharf, shewing four windows on the ground floor, is a Dry Storehouse belonging to the crown, and is used for depositing articles for barter, etc. in, which are sent out by government for that purpose. The small yellow house behind it belongs to government, and is inhabited by Mr. John Gowen, one of his majesty's store-keepers in that settlement. The yellow house, on the right of the Barrack-square, and having nine windows in front on each floor, is an extensive Government Granary, and was built of brick, plaistered over, under the direction of his excellency Governor Hunter. Attached to this building, on the right, is a very useful Military Store; and, on the left, a Store for the issue of Provisions. The red house, to the right, built of brick, with two wings, is the Female Orphan-house, which is a very convenient building, and was purchased from Captain Kent, of the royal navy, but great additions have been made to it subsequent to its purchase. The long building above the Orphan-house, of which only a part of the front is seen, is built of brick, and belongs to Garnham Blaxcell, Esq. whose zeal for the colony, and whose industry, have equally entitled him to the esteem and praise of all. The house a little to the right of the Orphan-house, and appearing to have a wing, is the Dwelling, and, attached to it, are the Warehouses of Mr. James Underwood; they are built of brick, and are extremely commodious and comfortable. The building above is the Church, as the tower denotes; it is built of stone, and has a peal of eight bells therein, but they are not very harmonious. On the right of the one road leading to the church, the building with four windows and two doors in front, and the erection above it, are two Government Store-houses, built of brick and plaister; the first is generally used for bonding of spirits in, for naval stores, etc.; and the other for the reception of salt provisions, when any arrive from England. The Windmill on the hill is built of stone, and belongs to government; and the building on the right, which is continued in View, No. II. with a wall round it, is built of stone, and forms part of the County Gaol. In the fore ground, six of the Natives are in the attitude of throwing the spear; two with spears; one with a spear and helemon, or shield; and two sitting down.—Of the dexterity with which they hurl this weapon, some notice has been taken in a preceding part of this sketch.
In View, No. II. taken from the East side of the Cove, the long building, with a flight of steps, is the County Gaol, of which a part is seen in No. I. The White Building, to the right of the Prison, of which only three windows in front, and the warehouses around it, are discovered, belongs to Mr. Henry Kable, who, with Messrs. Lord and Underwood, have been very industrious and enterprising men in the oil and sealskin trade, etc. and possess a number of vessels and considerable estates in the colony. The two small Houses, rather to the right, below the Gaol, built of brick, are used for the boats' crews. The Warehouses which hide part of these huts, and the House above, belong to Mr. Isaac Nichols; they are very extensive and commodious, and are built of stone. The House, still further to the right, with a door, four windows, and two side-lights, in front, and kitchen detached, belongs to Mr. Thomas Moore, the principal shipwright, a man of unshaken integrity and large property. The wharf near this part, is called the Hospital Wharf, where all merchandize, etc. is directed to be landed. The Road leading on the hill, takes different directions to the houses and streets on the rocks. The three long buildings, on the right of the road, are the General Hospitals; and in the front of them is the Government Dock-yard. Next, to the right of the Hospitals, one building with eight windows and two doors in front, and the other with four windows and a door, with side-lights, in front, are the Barracks occupied by the Medical Staff. The two next buildings are not tenanted by their late possessors. The large buildings to the right, at the water's edge, are the House and extensive Warehouses of Robert Campbell, Esq. a merchant, where a ship of large dimensions can load or unload, with any tide, alongside his wharf. Near this place a vessel belonging to that gentleman some time ago caught fire, and after a great deal of trouble she was sunk, by which means the fire was extinguished; she was afterwards got up, and underwent such repairs as soon enabled her to proceed on her voyage. Where the yellow flag is seen flying, on Dawes's Point, there is a Battery, and Lookout-house, to communicate with the signals for ships in the offing at South Head. The River round the point leads to several agricultural and farming districts, and to Parramatta. On the hill is the Citadel, with the union flag flying, and two Government Wind-mills, one built of wood and the other of stone, the latter of which is unserviceable. The other buildings belong to individuals indiscriminately. The Canoes, with fires in them, belong to the natives.
In View, No. I. taken from the West side of the Cove, on one side of the land which is farthest seen, is the Harbour; and on the other, is an amazing expanse of sea. There is a carriage-road made from Sydney to the extreme point, which is South Head, and a great many carriages and horsemen frequently go down there to spend the day, or to see any vessels which may appear off the land. On South Head are, a Flag-staff, a Lookout-house, and an Obelisk; and betwixt it and the North Head, is a narrow entrance, by which vessels enter the port, about seven miles from Sydney. The small island in the centre is called Pinch-gut, which name originated from some persons being placed there on an allowance of provisions for some offence, where they built an oven, the remains of which are yet to be seen: At this time there is a man named Brown, before spoken of, hung in chains on this spot, for committing several murders. The other islands, between these and the heads, are called Garden, Shark's, and Clark's Islands. On the land to the right of Pinch-gut, called Be-ne-long's Point, the native of that name, who was once in England, had a hut built by government; but he soon left it, and it was destroyed: There are also the remains of a battery there. Under two birds, as r r, are two Houses on a point of land leading from Farm Cove, the next cove to the eastward of Sydney. Under a large flight of birds, are three Wind-mills, and an extensive Bakehouse; two of which, and the bake-house, belong to John Palmer, Esq. and the other to Mr. Henry Kable. Beneath them is Government House, and part of the offices, and grounds. To the right of the Government wharf are the Dry Stores spoken of in No. I. from the east side. The building above that, of brick, is the Main Guard-house, and is a very convenient place for that purpose. The Stone-house, and offices, to the right of the Dry Stores, with five windows on a floor, belong to Mr. Thomas Reiby; the brick House, nearly adjoining, to Mr. Andrew Thompson; and the large Stone-house and Warehouses, to Mr. Simeon Lord, spoken of in No. I. of the other Views; in the front of which buildings is the principal road leading to Government House, where are houses and offices for the Judge Advocate, Commissary, Clergyman, and Surveyor-General; but they are mostly hidden in this View by the trees and large buildings before them. The stone building at the stern of the Sloop, comprises the Warehouse and part of the House belonging to Mr. Isaac Nichols, spoken of in No. II. of the other Views, and continued in the next of this. The buildings concealed by part of the long shed near, but on this side Mr. Nichols's, is the back part of the Assistant-Surgeon's Barracks. The house behind the trees is the back of the Barracks of the principal Surgeon. The house near the Natives, who are fighting, is not occupied by any person of particular consequence; and the one, partly hidden by the rocks, was occupied by Mr. Moore, but is going to decay.
In View, No. II. taken from the West side of the Cove, the lofty House of which a part is seen, and which was spoken of in No. II. of the other Views, and I. of this, belongs to Mr. Isaac Nichols; and the buildings on this side are the back of the General Hospital. The Bridge, the only one built of stone in the whole colony, is a very bad structure; the walls on each side of the arch inclose the grounds belonging to the Orphan-house and Mr. Simeon Lord. The road seen on the other side of the bridge is called Spring-row; it leads to several streets, and joins the main road to Parramatta, etc.; below the paling of which there are very large Tanks, cut in rocks, to supply the town and shipping with water; but there is another watering-place for ships on the north side of the Cove, very commodious, and the permission to use which produces a small annual income to the Orphan fund. The rows, commencing above the foot of the Bridge, on the east side, are called Chapel, Pitt's, and Serjeant-Major's rows, the latter of which, under the two birds, runs to the Brick-fields, towards Parramatta. The House on the right, at this end of the longest street, seen in this View, with three windows and a door visible, belongs to Garnham Blaxcell, Esq. spoken of in No. I. of the other Views. The building, the eastern end of which is partly covered by a tree, is the most southern Military Barrack. The two lofty red houses at the west foot of the Bridge, in the rise, are side-views of the Orphan-house and Mr. James Underwood's, spoken of in No. I. of the other Views. The houses on the right, a spot called the Rocks, belong to different individuals, and some of them are very comfortable habitations.
Over the south creek at Hawkesbury a floating-bridge has been erected, which has proved greatly beneficial to the public; since, previous to its completion, every person who had occasion to go to that settlement, and in many cases from one farm to another, was obliged to pass to and fro in a boat. As this bridge was constructed by an individual (Mr. Andrew Thompson, a settler) at his own expense, the following tolls are allowed to be demanded:—For every foot-passenger, four-pence, or ten shillings per annum; for each horse, single or in draught, two shillings and sixpence, or two pounds ten shillings per annum; for waggons, or other four-wheel carriages, with not more than half a ton lading, one shilling and sixpence, or one pound ten shillings per annum; for carts, or carriages with two wheels, laden or not, each one shilling and sixpence, or one pound ten shillings per annum; for sheep, under a score, two-pence each, and by the score two shillings and sixpence, or two pounds ten shillings per annum; swine and goats, the same as sheep. Passengers, horses, carts, and carriages, are allowed to pass and re-pass, during the same day, with one ticket; and a considerable income is derived from this toll.
* * * * *
The children born in this colony from European parents, are very robust, comely, and well made; nor do I recollect a solitary instance of one being naturally deformed. They are remarkably quick of apprehension; learn any thing with uncommon rapidity; and greatly improve in good manners, promising to become a fine race of people.
The Duke of Northumberland has sent over some Teeswater sheep, and one stallion, very recently, to Colonel Johnston, which have greatly improved the breed of both. Mr. Mac Arthur took over some Merino sheep, from the King's flock, which are thriving, and the wool of which is extremely fine; several samples have been produced in England. The deer in this colony (originally, I believe, from India) thrive very well, but are of the Rein species, and rather inclined to be small: I have seen some very good venison, and of a superior flavour to any I ever eat in England, though not so fat; the breed might be much improved by a few being sent of a larger quality. Some time ago several made their escape from a park belonging to Mr. Harris, who has for many years been surgeon of the regiment there, and before I left the colony, they were breeding and running wild in the woods.
Several foreign vessels have within these few years arrived here on discovery; but nothing material has resulted from their observations, with which the reader has not been made acquainted.
Chapter IV. Hints for the Improvement of the Colony.
Having thus touched upon the progress of the Colony and its present state, I shall now beg to add such Hints respecting its future improvement, as have suggested themselves to my mind during a residence of ten years in the settlement, in which period I have been enabled, from the nature of the various situations I have held there, to render myself intimately acquainted with all those particulars which are essential to the formation of a correct opinion on this interesting subject. And to the execution of this task I feel the more particularly urged, since I have beheld, with pain, that those who seem to be most deeply impressed with the necessity which exists, for the adoption of some measures to further the interests of the colony, have entirely mistaken the line which ought to be followed, and have marked out to themselves a course of procedure, which is founded on a total misconception of the nature of the colony, and a very superficial knowledge of its present state. That a period of twenty-two years has not been sufficient to render New South Wales independent of the mother country, is a reflection which must produce strong and ungenial suspicions of the prudence of those methods which have been pursued to accelerate such a desirable end; and the continuance of the late system, the inefficiency of which has been amply illustrated by recent events, and facts which are incontrovertible, is, of all evils, the most sincerely to be deprecated and guarded against. Of the capability of the settlement to produce adequate means for the subsistence of its members, there can be but a single opinion amongst persons who are enabled, from experience, to judge of the nature and fertility of the soil; and it must, consequently, form an evident conclusion, that some unnatural check must have sprung up to impede the ordinary course of proceedings. My object, however, is not to deprecate the opinions of others, but to give to the public those ideas of improvement which have arisen in my own mind, and which have been confirmed by the approbation of others, who are equally as well or better qualified to decide upon this important subject.
Complaints having been made by the government of the expenses of the colony, which have accumulated, rather than diminished, with the increasing growth of the settlement, I shall first enter into a statement of the causes of this augmented expense, part of which, as I shall hope to demonstrate with clearness, has arisen out of the nature of things, and the other part may be attributed to various causes.
1st, As to the retarded progress of public buildings, and the diminution in the labour of the convicts.—This decrease in the quantity of labour performed, is to be attributed to the natural falling-off in the strength of the convicts employed in government labour, from deaths, desertions, and their becoming free. Those who were first sent to the colony, and had been originally transported for seven and fourteen years had served their times, the former in 1793, and the latter in 1800; numbers had been released from their servitude on account of their exemplary behaviour, or of services done to the colony; and all who became settlers being allowed one, two, or more convicts to assist in the cultivation of the tracts assigned to them, the reduction in those who laboured for the crown must necessarily have been very considerable, and must still continue in an increasing degree, owing to the great numbers of free settlers who have been allowed to go out from England, many of whom have only been a great expense to government, and an hindrance to the settlement. From a correct estimation taken in the year 1800, it was ascertained that three-fourths of the convicts employed in the service of government at the close of 1792, had been subsequently discharged. From that period to the year 1800, 1259 new male convicts arrived, effective and non-effective, a number which was insufficient to fill up the deficiencies occasioned by those who had obtained their liberations in consequence of having completed their terms of servitude, and the emancipations which had taken place, the number of which together amounted to 1264, without including the deaths, casualties, and escapes, which may be taken at an equal number; nor were there more employed by the crown than 710 when Governor King was succeeded in the command of the colony (although a great many had arrived between those periods), including the vast number allowed to officers, settlers, and others, and but few of the remainder were either mechanics or persons adapted to the improvement of the colony; therefore from these causes it must be evident to every rational mind, that the progress of the colony towards perfection and prosperity has, in fact, been as rapid as could be expected, considering the circumstances of the settlement; and an opinion of a contrary nature must have been grounded upon an exaggerated estimate of the means which existed, and an entire ignorance of the due proportion which they have borne to the labour required at their hands.
2dly, As to the expenditure of the stores which were forwarded to the colony, in the interval which elapsed from the departure of Governor Phillip, in December, 1792, to the arrival of Governor Hunter, in September, 1795.—It has been subsequently ascertained, that in this lapse of two years and three-quarters, a sufficiency of stores had been received to supply the real wants of the settlement for a period nearly thrice as long; whereas the whole was expended, and the store-houses were found empty at the arrival of the latter governor from England. In consequence of the profusion which had thus been practised, although it might at that time be deemed needful, his excellency Governor Hunter was reduced to the necessity of purchasing new stores at an expensive market, where every advantage was taken of the necessity which had induced the demand, and the most exorbitant prices were charged for each article. I have understood from very good authority, that two pounds were paid for a pair of men's shoes, and thirty shillings for women's; tobacco was forty shillings per lb.; soap twelve shillings, and sugar eight shillings; a beaver hat and a coarse jacket, fetched five pounds each, and every other article in an equal proportion. A great deal of time was also lost in endeavouring to make implements of husbandry, mechanical tools, and other requisites of a similar description. The reduced state of the colony at this period was also rendered still more deplorable, by the neglect of the government in England to comply with the urgent requisitions of Governor Hunter for such supplies as were necessary. The exhaustion of the stores of clothing and beds and blankets, assisted to fill the hospital with patients, and rendered the purchase of these articles absolutely indispensable at any price, and on any terms on which they might be procured. I feel myself inclined to suppose, that the backwardness which displayed itself at this time in the government to dispatch the stores which were demanded, arose from a conviction that the supplies which had been previously sent in such abundance were sufficiently ample for all the immediate wants of the colony, and, consequently, that the pressure of necessity could not be so great as was represented; for it was not to be expected that those officers who administered the government of the colony, on the arrival of their successors, would depict the situation of the settlement, and the state of the stores, in any other than a favourable light, particularly to his Majesty's ministers at home; a line of conduct which tended considerably to enhance the mischiefs which had been already showered upon the inhabitants, by the perhaps too liberal distribution which had been displayed in the issuing of the various necessaries during their administration.
3dly, As to the custom of allowing to settlers a certain number of convicts, for years, to assist in the tillage, and continuing to victual those servants out of the public stores.—I am clearly of opinion, that much evil has arisen from the unrestrained issue of this indulgence. The original object of this grant was, to enable the young farmer to clear the tract which was assigned to him, and to bring it into a condition which would enable it to produce a maintenance for its possessor; then he was required to take the convicts which he thought it necessary to retain, entirely off the public stores, and to victual and clothe them at his own cost. The abuse of this indulgence, however, has arisen from the extension of its advantages to an unlimitted term; so that the farmer is interested in retarding the efforts which he might otherwise be induced to make for the improvement of his land, in order to save himself from the burden of supporting his servants; and thus a spirit of indolence is promoted, and the original intention of the measure is totally perverted. The continuance of this pernicious system, previous to the administration of Governor Hunter, had induced the settlers to look upon it as a right, rather than an indulgence. Numbers of useful mechanics, whose services might have been turned to advantage, in the exercise of their different professions for the public benefit, were thus given to those who cultivated lands, until their term was expired; and no sooner did they recover their freedom, than they quitted the service of government for more lucrative employments; the consequence was, artificers at a high price were to be hired by the governor, to build those store-houses which might have been erected before, and to repair the towns of Parramatta and Toongabbee, which were falling into ruins, on account of the necessary repairs having been neglected at a proper season: This was a new expense entailed upon government, and many thousands were expended, which foresight and prudent policy might have saved.
A 4th cause of superfluous expense to the crown, was to be found in the employment of the convicts to perform the public service by task-work, which was completed by nine or ten o'clock in the morning, and thus left the hands free to assist in the cultivation of those tracts of land which had been granted to different descriptions of persons. Thus was the government labour protracted in a most shameful degree; the labour of little more than a week requiring the lapse of a month to complete it; and thus, also, several were induced, by their attention to their individual interests, to neglect the service of the colony. The consequence of this innovation was, the rapid clearing and cultivation of such persons' estates, and the erection of comfortable residences and the acquisition of further accommodations, which they must otherwise have waited some time to obtain; while the buildings which were required to be raised for the security of the stores, and for other purposes of equal necessity, were greatly retarded. I am confident also that this conduct tended to relax the discipline which ought to have been rigidly preserved amongst the convicts, and produced a general carelessness of the general interest; and it was not without some difficulty that Governor Hunter succeeded in the adoption of a contrary line of behaviour. Habits of dissipation and indolence resulted from this pernicious mode of bartering the public for individual interest, which had taken such deep root, as to render their complete eradication matter of the most extreme difficulty: The encroachments on the hours of labour for the crown has, however, been done away by Governor Hunter, and a a more regular system has been adopted in the allowance of convicts and other indulgences to settlers, etc. by order of the Secretary of State, since his excellency's departure.
The custom of imprisoning for debt those persons who are employed in the public service, constitutes the 5th article of notice; and this practice had been carried to such a pitch, that dealers would readily give credit to convicts, or any servants of the crown, under the idea that they might sue the debtors for the amount, and imprison them, or obtain the benefit of their labour until the debt was liquidated. The necessities of the convicts frequently compelled them to seek for credit, and thus to throw themselves into the power of those iniquitous designers. In consequence of the prevalence of this practice many of the convicts were immured continually, and thus the public was deprived of their services; since they preferred remaining indolently in confinement to making those complaints to the governor, which would have led to their release, and reinstation in their former situations of labour. Governor Hunter no sooner made himself acquainted with the mischievous extent to which this conduct was carried, than he published an order, in which he prohibited every person in trade from "crediting the servants of the crown, under the plea of their being at liberty to imprison their persons; if such credit was given, it was to be understood as being done at the risk of the creditor, on the good faith he entertained of the integrity of the persons he so entrusted, but that the public should not be deprived of the labour of its servants for the partial accommodation of individuals." This order was dated the 4th of October, 1798, three years after the return of Governor Hunter to the administration of his high and responsible office; and the regulation was justified by the situation of the colony, and the abuses which had sprung out of the custom. After the publication of this order, however, I saw many persons committed to prison for debt, whose situation, as convicts, exempted them from incarceration; but this apparent breach of the regulation was entirely attributable to the ignorance of the court which had thus decided, that the person against whom their warrant was directed, was at the time a bond-servant, and, consequently, within the reach of this clause. Whenever a commitment of this description came to the governor's knowledge (which was always the case in a few days, when the report of the prisoners for debt was delivered to him), the delinquent was immediately enlarged, since his confinement was illegal, as contrary to the order which had been published on the subject.
Another cause of expense, comprising the 6th in this enumeration, arose out of the number of orphan children in the settlement, who were allowed full ration and clothing at the charge of government. This evil has, however, experienced a very natural reduction, from the judicious measures adopted by Governor Hunter, who laid the foundation of a fund for the benefit of these orphans; the consequence of which has been, the completion of a school for the education and maintenance of female children of that description, and which is now supported by various imposts upon merchandize, and other taxations or fines for certain offences against the general orders. The children embraced by this charity are not simply the offspring of deceased parents, but such other children, also, as have been left unprovided for, by the desertion of those whose duty it was to foster them, or from the circumstance of their being found to be worthless and profligate characters, or by their having betrayed a carelessness and indifference as to the moral improvement of their children; where such a disposition displayed itself, the offspring were taken from them, and their subsequent progress was made the care of this institution, which provided for their support and improvement; and I am happy to say, that there is every appearance of a great good arising from this foundation, by rescuing from infamy and shame, and bringing up to a life of virtue and industry, a number of fine young girls, whom it is earnestly hoped will strive to repay the paternal care that has been taken of them in their juvenile days, by a strict adherence to every pure inclination as they rise in age, and a grateful remembrance of those from whom their happiness has sprung.
7thly, The establishment of a most injurious monopoly amongst the inhabitants of the settlement, which has tended to the ruin of fair trade.—The commencement of this baleful system is traced back to the administration of Governor Phillip, at which time I was not in the settlement. In a very scarce period, when all classes were labouring under every kind of privation, the officers prayed leave of the governor to charter the ship Britannia for the Cape of Good Hope, to bring back cattle and other articles on their account, for which speculation a considerable sum was subscribed, in equal shares. The governor assented to the proposition, in consequence of the peculiar state of the colony at that time; but scarcely had the Britannia sailed upon her voyage, when the governor, having received leave of absence, left the settlement, and the government immediately changed its form, from a naval to a military system. In consequence of this variation, permission was readily obtained for the disposal of the cargo thus imported on its arrival, and after its passing through the hands of the importers, the chief part of the merchandize produced from 1000L. to 2000L. per cent. to the private retailer. These extraordinary advantages could but be attended with evil and destructive consequences to the settlement at large; nor does the system of monopoly, which was so early introduced in the colony, cease to spread its baleful influence; by which means the settlers, who were deserving of the most marked encouragement and indulgence, still remain in far less affluent circumstances than they otherwise might have been. This topic deserves serious attention, and the mild hand of legislative authority, to check its further pernicious effects.
Having spoken thus on the subject of monopoly, which I shall at a future period fully establish, and which has occasioned the sacrifice of the public, to individual interest, I shall proceed to advert, 8thly, to the loss which the government has sustained in the dereliction of some of its most valuable servants, who have been allured, by the rapid fortunes made by several individuals, to quit the service of the public, and to embark in traffic. The inferior officers of the settlement, and the non-commissioned officers and privates of the regiment, have been infected with the itch for dealing; and many of the settlers themselves have either disposed of their farms or deserted them, to obtain the means or the leisure to devote themselves to a species of dealing which never failed to turn to good account. Many who had also served their terms of transportation, instead of remaining to aid the public service, withdrew themselves from the stores, and turned their thoughts to trade. The consequence of this universal inclination to one object, and that of such an evil nature, being chiefly confined to the sale of spirits, soon became obvious in the desertion of those farms which had been previously tilled with so much advantage, and in the neglect of all duties, whether of a public or private nature. The immense profits made by this pursuit served as a new stimulus to its continuance: One dealer was known to have cleared twelve hundred pounds sterling in four weeks, and chiefly by the sale of spirits; and an inhabitant of the lowest order, who commenced dealing with five pounds, has been known to realize five hundred pounds in the course of six months. It must naturally be inferred, that the most base imposition must have been practised to render this business so extremely lucrative, and the article itself must have been diluted away to excessive weakness; but while the temptation remained so strong, it is not to be wondered at that such numbers of persons, in a colony of this or any other description, should be found to quit every other object for a free and full pursuit of one so full of attraction. Many of the convicts soon acquired property in this way, and some of those who had been in that unfortunate situation, by their good conduct are now considered as respectable characters, and are in possession of horses, carriages, and servants, with a sufficiency to secure their independence during the remainder of their lives. The military have also made considerable wealth by the same course, and the consequence was the instilment into every bosom of a consciousness of independence, which was fatal to that strict subordination which ought to be maintained and enforced. Non-commissioned officers were the principal actors in this department, and being connected by the ties of common interest, they formed a combination which interfered with the middle class of inhabitants, since they could get on board any vessels on account of their rank, which gave them the privilege of doing so, without being under the necessity of obtaining a written pass for that purpose. The principle of allowing a servant to enter into traffic, is fraught with the most serious mischief; since he is not only led to neglect the duties he has undertaken to perform, but gradually becomes independent in his feelings and opinions, and substitutes insolence of conduct for the respect which ought to mark his behaviour. The value of an article also becomes greatly enhanced to the consumer, when it is permitted to pass through so many hands, each individual of whom must place upon it a profit which he deems adequate to his labour or his ingenuity. Allowing liberty to a prisoner to pursue this kind of avocation is productive of another evil; it leads him, by gradual steps, from becoming careless of his proper duty, to the assumption of a degree of importance and independence which induces him to place himself above his master, and thus controverts the natural and necessary distinctions of society. This traffic has also originated numerous frauds of a pecuniary description, amongst which may be mentioned, as the most notorious, the custom of indorsing notes of hand over to persons, without receiving any consideration for the same, and thus making them the plaintiffs in the suits which they were permitted to institute. From all these practices it has resulted, that numerous settlers have been induced to neglect or quit their farms, which, with industrious management, were competent to the supply of all their necessary wants, and thus to diminish the means of procuring subsistence for the colony; and they have become dissatisfied with a country, which is capable of being made the most lovely and prolific in the world. Amongst the inhabitants, also, was introduced the vice of gaming—a natural consequence of the astonishing increase of wealth in men of little principle and no economy; drunkenness was the ready way to this crime, and so addicted were many of every class of society to it, that they scrupled not, after losing the property which they possessed, to stake that which they did not possess. Some persons, however, either favoured by fortune, or possessing more prudence than their unfortunate companions, contrived to retain the property they had gained, and by applying it to traffic are now in a state of affluence of which few persons can form an accurate conception.
The 9th item of expense is to be found in the provisions and spirits issued to parties on command; a custom which has been esteemed proper and necessary in cases where such parties have been employed in particular services for the public benefit, and in no other cases have they been issued during the administrations of governors Phillip and Hunter. These services were of various descriptions, parties being frequently detached in pursuit of those who had absconded, either into the woods, or had carried off boats, and endeavoured to escape over the ocean; others were oftentimes employed in excursions into the interior, to obtain a more perfect and comprehensive acquaintance with the nature and productions of the country; others again were sent, at times, to reconnoitre the herds of wild cattle, to remark their progress, and see that no attempts were made to destroy such an useful resource; the inspection of the various settlements also occupied some detachments; small divisions were dispatched to cruize and survey the coast; and the crews of colonial vessels, which were engaged in going to and from the Hawkesbury, as well as to the more distant settlements, were in the habit of receiving these extra supplies, as they had no other means of increasing their common allowance, when such augmentation was necessary: Certain customary rations were also given to the settlers while they were employed in making and repairing the different roads which led to the settlements, and at which periods they received allowances in proportion to the number of days during which their services were required. It had also been usual to give one pint of spirits weekly to each of the clerks employed in the offices of the governor, secretary, commissary, and judge advocate; a similar portion was also issued to the constables of the crown and the overseers; and also to such constables of districts as were chosen out of the inhabitants who were not prisoners, and who, with their families, were victualled from the public stores; but some of these have been subsequently done away with, being considered by Governor King as a superfluous addition to the already excessive expenses of the colony. There are also many other occasional duties, the persons employed in which would be entitled to the extra allowances, from a sense of their indispensable necessity, since it is sufficiently evident that men who are called upon and expected to perform services of more than common exertion, must receive additional means of increasing their physical strength, and of enabling them to execute the task assigned to them.
A 10th cause of loss to the crown, and of the expenses of the colony, resulted from the abuses formerly practised in the medical department of the colony; amongst which it was customary to screen the convalescent labourers in the Hospital, and to employ them for individual benefit, so that the patients were thus kept under the hands of medical men longer than was requisite for the establishment of their health: An imposition of this nature called for immediate steps on the part of the governor, but unfortunately his excellency Governor Hunter did not receive information of this iniquitous practice until he had delivered up his executive power and was embarked, or otherwise he expressed his determination to have put a stop to the disgraceful proceeding; it has, however, subsequently been done away with. At one time, it was ascertained, there were forty or fifty convicts who were thus kept in the Hospital, and were employed by a medical man in the furtherance of his private interests, and such other occupations as he marked out for them, to the loss of eleven pounds five shillings a day to the crown. Such a circumstance as this, from a quarter so totally unexpected, afforded an additional proof of the general disposition which prevailed amongst almost every class of society to push their individual interests, to the detriment of the public service; and, instead of giving their full assistance to promote the prosperity of the colony, to retard its progress, and make its necessities the source of their profit.
The 11th cause of loss to the crown, and of the expenses of the colony, arises from the dependent settlements within the limits of that territory; and although the governments at the River Derwent and Port Dalrymple are allowed to draw separate Treasury bills for their internal expenses, yet, the great quantity of wheat, maize, salt provisions, slop clothing, and other stores, it is absolutely necessary to send from the principal seat of government to those places, added to the conveyance and other unavoidable charges, enhances the expenses at Sydney to an amount that no person would believe but such as have had an opportunity of being an eye-witness to the mode in which such immense sums are disposed of, or upon strictly investigating the voluminous official documents which are transmitted from that colony. As the accounts of the expense of the settlement at Newcastle are wholly included in those at Port Jackson, I shall forbear to make any regular estimate thereupon; but it must be evident, that where the subsistence of such distant places chiefly depend upon a settlement but a short time colonized, the expenses must be very considerable, and the supplies must be given out and used with the greatest caution, to prevent the necessity of applying to a market where their charges are generally exorbitant, and in most cases optional.
The last source of expense to the government which I shall mention, and which, although now also done away, has been the means of an astonishing increase in the expenditure of the colony. From the fertility of its soil, Norfolk Island was for some time considered a great acquisition to the principal settlement; but subsequent experience has proved the futility of this idea, since the price of grain, instead of lowering in proportion to the additional trouble bestowed on the cultivation of the soil, remained the same just before its evacuation as it had been eight years before. As a place for raising swine this island, indeed, might have proved of much utility, if the establishment there had been almost entirely reduced, and the attention of the colony had been confined to this subject, and to the curing of pork for the consumption of all the other settlements; but as this method was not adopted, it proved, from the time of its establishment, a continual check upon the prosperity of the principal colony, draining those resources which ought to have been applied to different purposes, where the hope and probability of some recompense, adequate to the expense, might have been more sanguine, and less unlikely. Norfolk Island, so far from returning any proportionate recompense for those supplies, had not, in the course of thirteen years, sent to New South Wales property of any description exceeding in value 2000L.; during which period all the expenses of that island were included in the general account of the whole country with the Lords Commissioners of his Majesty's Treasury. So far from being in itself a flourishing colony. Governor Hunter, who called there in his way to England in 1800, found that the whole of the public, and numbers of private erections, were in a most miserable condition; and his excellency declared that he had scarcely seen a negro town in the West Indies with half such a wretched appearance. The grain here and there displayed a promising appearance, and swine were in some considerable numbers; but the coast was dangerous, Governor Hunter being himself once wrecked upon it in the Sirius, and nearly lost with all his ship's crew; and this circumstance is calculated to deter vessels from touching at the island in quest of wood and water, which are both plentiful, but which may be procured in equal abundance in any of the other islands of the Pacific ocean where there are fewer rocks and breakers to contend with, and where the acquiescence of the natives might easily be purchased. In addition to the above obstacles and inauspicious appearances, vessels at this place have no anchorage, but are obliged always to keep under sail; and I have known them to be blown off the island for several weeks together, with very little provision on board, whilst a part of the crew have been on shore; and by those means not only a considerable loss has accrued to the merchants or owners, but the lives of a number of fellow-creatures have been exposed to the most imminent danger.
To the existence of these, with other subsequent causes, it may be attributed that the colony of New South Wales has not made a more rapid progress towards independence, but has so long hung, as it were, upon the breast, and derived its sole nourishment from the food, of the mother country. To raise the settlement from this state of dependence; to expunge from its early page that stain which must be affixed to it by remoter ages; to stimulate its growth, and impel it along the path which leads to greatness, must be the object, the desire, and the hope, of every one who feels an interest in its prosperity; and if a long residence in the colony, a full consciousness of its capacity, and an unshaken affection for the country, can entitle any one to a rank amongst the friends of this infant empire, I flatter myself that my claim must be allowed; and I shall therefore proceed to suggest those further ideas of improvement which are founded in a thorough knowledge of the subject from experience.
To facilitate the rise of New South Wales to a state of consequence and independence, its interests must be entrusted to a governor who has no private or mercenary views, and will seek after nothing but the welfare of the colony; who will thoroughly support the trust and honour reposed in him, as the representative of our most gracious Sovereign; who will not treat, nor suffer others to treat, the officers serving under him with indignity; who will not study the rapid rise of one man, and the sudden downfal of another, but will administer, and cause justice to be administered impartially to all descriptions of persons, and only shew his favour to those whose conduct is such as to merit his distinguished notice. Under such a man, the industrious settlers should receive the most liberal encouragement to induce them to pay every attention to the cultivation of their lands and to the rearing of stock; and I am of opinion, that when the price of grain has been reduced under ten shillings per bushel for wheat, five shillings for maize and barley, and four shillings and sixpence for oats, the grower has very frequently been a loser, without admitting that in the course of the season there had been any flood, blight, insect, or rust, to injure the growing crops. I speak this from the general knowledge I have of the country, having taken every settler's and other muster there for a number of years, and from the concurrent opinions of several of the first and most independent farmers throughout the settlement; nor can any man who is acquainted with the exorbitant wages demanded by every class of labourers, who are not prisoners assigned by the crown to their employers, in that part of the world, and the great difficulties attending the various occupations he has to encounter before his grain can be brought to the market, judge otherwise. The government stores should also be open at all times to receive the grain, which would not only enable the commissary to send the requisite supplies to the dependent settlements, but would also afford a powerful security against the fatal and frequent losses which are occasioned by the floods, so destructive to property of every description, but more particularly to the grain; and it would also set aside the necessity of issuing short allowance to those prisoners who are necessarily supported by the crown, by which means government labour is sometimes retarded, in consequence of the reduction of the hours of work in proportion to the diminution in the weekly ration.
If government were also to decline farming, it would excite a greater degree of perseverance in the settlers, and would, in my opinion, eventually disburden the crown of a very considerable expense, as those employed in agriculture, on the government account, are generally that description of persons who only care how little they work, and are equally as indifferent as to the manner in which their labour is performed; besides which, very few of these individuals are at all acquainted with the art of husbandry, particularly that system which ought to be adopted in a colony, the climate, soil, and produce of which, are so essentially different to those of the mother country; and those few, as soon as they have attained a knowledge of the regular method necessary there to be pursued, are generally taken away by some cause or other, or claim their freedom, from the original term of their transportation being expired, so that little better than a succession of new hands have to perform a task of which the chief part are totally ignorant.