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Volume 3




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Chapter I. [1848.]

IMPROVEMENT OF SYDNEY—RENTS, HOUSES, FITTINGS—VULGAR NOMENCLATURE—SUBURBS—BARRACKS AND FORTIFICATIONS—THE CLIMATE—ANGLO-AUSTRALIANS—MORTALITY—DOCTORS AND DISEASES—HEAT AND COLD—THE SEASONS TOPSY-TURVY—EPOCHS HEELS OVER HEAD—CHRISTMAS HERE AND THERE—EUROPEAN FLOWERS—BUSH FIRES AND RAIN—FALSE POETIC IMAGERY—WEATHER, ET CETERA—A HOME VISION.

July.—SYDNEY has improved in several important points during the two years of my sojourn at the Antipodes. Its increase is enormous; for a new suburb, connecting Darlinghurst with Sydney by one continuous street, half a mile long, with numerous lateral branches, has sprung up where, two years ago, the belated diner-out might have fallen among bushrangers, and the bewildered one might have fallen into a blind ditch, and there bivouacked with the frogs until “day-light did appear.”


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The whole of the ground at the head of Wooloomooloo Bay,note known by the name of the Riley Estate, forming a valley between the elevated plateau of Hyde-Park and that whereon the fashionable suburb of Darlinghurst is spread, and which, on my first arrival, contained no house but the ancient Riley residence, is now a forest of chimneys. Some of the modern houses are great improvements upon the older class, and many comfortable residences, suitable to persons of moderate means, have been erected. Within a few years house-rent has fallen immensely; yet it is still, by comparison, considerably higher than in England, except in the fashionable quarters of London and a few of the largest towns. The houses in Lyons-terrace, perhaps about equally commodious with those of Eaton-place, about 1840-43, were let for 400l. a-year, and are now not paying more than 150l. unfurnished. The latter was the sum I paid for a house newly erected in the fashionable suburb above mentioned.

The stranger is much struck by the handsome appearance given by the profuse use of cedar in the fittings of the Sydney dwellings. It has all the beauty in colour and figure of the Spanish mahogany; indeed, the experience of an upholsterer is necessary to detect the difference by sight alone. In solidity and closeness of grain the Australian cedar is, however, greatly inferior to mahogany. The doors and sashes, the window-frames and


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shutters, staircases and balustrades, skirting-boards and cornices, and, in a few instances, the floors and ceilings, are of cedar. Even the housemaids' closets have all the exterior appearance of polished mahogany doors. This profusion of dark-coloured unpainted wood in the fitments of a house pleased my eye exceedingly; but my taste was disputed by many—some going so far as to assert that it made a dwelling-house look like a London gin-palace!

Darlinghurst presents some unequalled sites for villas, and they have been pretty generally taken possession of. Amongst the best houses and grounds—those known to me through social intercourse with their owners—may be enumerated Elizabeth Bay, the residence of Mr. Macleay; Rosslyn-hall, Mr. Barker's; Larbert-cottage, the Hon. C. D. Riddell's; Kellet, Mr. S. A. Donaldson's; the Bishop's residence; and, lastly, Tarmons, late the property of Sir Maurice O'Connell, at present belonging to Charles Nicholson, Esq., the speaker of the Legislative Council. This was the last house occupied by myself and family in New South Wales;—for, on selling off my furniture preparatively to embarkation, it was obligingly lent us by the proprietor; and, certainly, its lovely position, the charming landscape enjoyed from its windows and gardens, the comfort of its interior—joined to the perfect climate of an Australian August—were calculated to leave on our recollection the best impressions of the country we were quitting—in all probability for ever.




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The library of Tarmons, well stored with books in all languages, many of them of a rarity only appreciable by a virtuoso, is about forty-eight feet long by thirty feet high, with a ceiling of cedar in compartments.

A considerable portion of the valuable peninsula of Darlinghurst has become the property of a wealthy class of persons peculiar to this colony—a class that have surrounded themselves with comforts and even elegancies, and, living happily in their domestic interiors, are moreover useful and sterling citizens.

Elizabeth Bay comprises, beyond compare, the finest house and grounds that I am acquainted with in Australia. The extensive gardens, replete with plants, flowers, and fruits from various climes, culled and reared with infinite care, labour, and expense, the large and valuable library, and the priceless cabinet of natural history, are not thrown away upon the accomplished and scientific owner. The house, a correct stone edifice built in the palmy days of the colony, seems scarcely suited to its present less pretentious habits. My friend, the owner, has doubtless every happiness that single blessedness and perfectly competent circumstances can ensure; but Elizabeth Bay, to be itself perfect, should have attached to it a fair and influential hostess, and five thousand a-year! The pleasure grounds and gardens, including a splendid avenue of orange-trees, twelve or fourteen feet high and a quarter of a mile in length, embrace about a mile and a half of the shores of Port Jackson; and are so contrived as to command perfect privacy almost within


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hearing of the hum of Sydney and its 50,000 citizens. There is a delightful cluster of marine villas, with hanging gardens down to the sea, at the furthest extremity of the Darlinghurst promontory,—one of which, charmed with its position, I should certainly have rented at twice its real value as an appropriate and romantic residence wherein to receive my bride,note had not some Vandal (I care not who he is or was, for such vulgarity must be exposed and condemned) attempted to immortalize his untuneful name by conferring upon the spot that of “Potts's Point,”—thereby driving the Graces, the Muses, and sentiment at large, in confusion from its shores for ever! Situated as I was, it might be a matter of indifference to me that the plebeian patronymics of “G. Button and W. Thompson, of Sunderland,” are, as Albert Smith assures us, “painted in letters a foot high on Pompey's Pillar;”—but a honeymoon at Potts's Point—faugh! It is folly to be unduly squeamish on this head; but I confess that a vulgar or uncouth name, given to a pretty place, person, or thing, inflicts upon me that kind of sensation that is, I imagine, experienced by Grimalkin when his back is stroked against the grain. If Potts's Point is a superlatively barbarous designation for a rural retreat, “Point Piper” is comparatively so; and such is the name, inherited from its worthy builder and owner, of a very handsome residence, which above all others thrusts itself upon the attention of the stranger sailing up


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the harbour. “Tivoli” and “Vaucluse”note may very distantly resemble their European namesakes; but, at any rate, they suggest less grovelling associations than those appertaining to pots and pipes. “Pinch-Gut!” susceptible reader! what think you of that for a name? Yet such is the denomination of a little islet in the midst of the harbour—once, as I have been assured, as perfect a gem as any on Lake Killarney, but now, after being cobbled by the engineers for the purposes of fortification, merely an insular stone-quarry.

Sydney is happy in the possession of many well-situated and healthy suburbs—all of which show evident proofs of advancing wealth and consequence. On the south-east of the city are Paddington and the Surrey Hills; on the south, Redfern and Chippendale; on the south-west, Camperdown, Newtown, and the Glebe. On the west, separated by an arm of the harbour, Balmain and Pyrmont; and on the north shore—only accessible by water—the pretty and secluded hamlet of St. Leonard's. Here there are some excellent country houses, among which I will merely name Mr. Bloxsome's—the Ranges—a house and gardens constructed and laid out in excellent taste, amongst whose decorations ought to be enumerated a chalk fresco drawing (if such a designation be correct) of inimitable spirit, covering the greater part of one extremity of the dining-room, and executed on the stucco wall by a Mr. Brierly.




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I can say but little generally of the north shore—so famous for its bush flowers and sylvan rides; for, pretty actively locomotive to more distant parts of our Antipodean realms, I crossed the narrow strait to St. Leonard's but three times in five years. Gentlemen of my profession, liable to service in this colony, will not be glad perhaps to learn that the barracks have been removed from George-street, in the midst of the city, to the top of a suburban sand-hill, about a mile and a half from that central thoroughfare.

As Sydney increased in size and wealth, the site of the old Barrack Square became so valuable as to induce the colony to offer another piece of ground and 60,000l. in exchange for it, and the latter is now fast growing up into streets and squares.note The new situation has been much abused, and it is, doubtless, very inconvenient to the officers and soldiers officially or socially employed. But I do not agree with those who blame its position in a military point of view. Every part of the buildings and enclosure is of handsome stone. On one side, towards Port Jackson, the prospect is full of cheerful beauty: on the other, in the direction of Botany Bay, it is desolation itself.

The harbour of Port Jackson presents excellent natural features for fortification against hostile inroads. All I shall say on this head is, that at present art has not done much towards the safeguard of Sydney. During


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part of two years the colonial public prints indulged in repeated and most unwise discussions on the subject of the harbour defences, and the helpless state and hoarded wealth of the great southern emporium;—entering on details singularly useful and instructive to any national enemy meditating a foray, and indeed suggestive of such an undertaking to any tolerably powerful pirate unpreoccupied by the happy idea. Sydney, twaddling over the hundreds of thousands in her Bank-vaults, and the facility with which she might be laid under contribution by an enterprising foe, always reminded me of a fussy old hen cackling an unintentional, but not the less tempting, invitation to the roving fox. Surely there must be some better way of remedying public and private foibles than by noising them abroad.

Climate—though a positive thing—is a point, all the world over, subject to difference of opinion; and is, not seldom, discussed according to the passing temper of the individual—the state of his bile, his conscience, his purse, or other equally potent motive. On the article of climate it is especially difficult to please an old campaigner of whatever profession. It is not his judgment so much as his muscles, nerves, and organs that direct his opinions. In a hot temperature the burthen of complaint is that he wants bracing,—he feels languid, hipped, dyspeptic. In a cold one, rheumatism, lumbago, bronchitis, &c., compose his daily jeremiade. He resembles an old worn-out coach, which rattles and rumbles when its springs and spokes are permitted to become relaxed;


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and grinds, squeaks, and perhaps breaks down altogether, when its screws, straps, and washers are too much tightened. Wear and tear is a malady that may be mitigated—cannot be cured. From China to Peru there is no condition of thermometer or barometer that will give the grumbler back the youth, health, strength, and activity that he has forfeited, lost or outlived,—any more than a long life of hesternal vices can be effectually counterbalanced by an equally long life of “sermons and soda water the day after.”

I have heard the climate of New South Wales praised and abused much beyond its deserts. To a healthy person I should imagine that it promises as long freedom from disease as any climate in the world. It is said to be particularly favourable to old people, even those of delicate health, provided they are afflicted with no organic complaint; but it tramples upon the invalid once fairly down, and makes short work of the consumptive, apoplectic and debauched. He whose liver has been devilled in India or the West Indies, will find that an Australian hot season is likely enough to produce an active réchauffée of the part affected. The climate is productive, say the faculty, of chronic diseases rather than acute ones. Let no man having, in colonian phrase, “a shingle short” try this country. He will pass his days in Tarban Creek Asylum!

Port Jackson has been found to possess the summer of Avignon, Constantinople, Baltimore, and Philadelphia; a winter nearly similar to that of Cairo, and the Cape


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of Good Hope. It may be doubted, therefore, whether the Briton is quite at his best when transplanted here—or indeed anywhere. The Anglo-American has certainly lost a good deal of the physical conformation of his ancestors. He is less fleshy, less ruddy; more lanky. His teeth fail him sooner. Age attacks his personal appearance earlier in life. The women of that nation are often exceedingly beautiful and graceful; but they have too often an air of languor and debility, with which it is impossible to connect the idea of perfect health and happiness.

The Anglo-Australian males appear to me to be less tall—(although some of them do run amazingly “to leg,”)—than our transatlantic brethren, but, on the whole, better put together and of fuller outline. The females are less exotic in appearance than their American sisters; but their forms attain maturity with a degree of precocity which is sure to react in after life. The fair, fresh rose-bud of fifteen or sixteen will be full-blown next summer perhaps; and, alas! often shows the first symptoms of winter at an age when the English girl will scarcely have reached perfection. Doubtless a certain degree of atmospheric humidity is necessary for the preservation of the human skin; for where is to be seen such brilliancy of complexion as in our own misty native islands?—and it is a brilliancy that wears well, not a mere coruscation gone almost as soon as seen. In a sultry and dry climate beauty and bloom are not so evergreen.




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One hears a good deal of the “stalwart sons of Australia” in local writings and speeches ad captandum; and I have indeed met occasional splendid specimens; but as a race, the native white of this, as of all other of our colonies, is physically inferior to the Briton, especially him of the agricultural districts—for Spinning Jenny rears but a stunted offspring. The sexual precocity consequent upon a climate like this must not however be forgotten, and the stranger from England has often to take this into account when he hears with surprise a knot of what would be called little boys at Home shouting and singing in the vox rauca of manhood. There is one great peculiarity in the hot season of Australia. It does not appear to produce exhaustion or languor. There is no habitual “siesta” practised by the people. The climate may be said to be high pressure, exciting rather than productive of lassitude and listlessness. It may, and I believe does, wear the machine of life pretty rapidly, but is not apt to throw it out of work so long as it lasts. Mr. Braim, the historian of New South Wales, ascribes to its climate the power of rejuvenizing those who are “brought under its influence in middle or advanced life.” So charming a creed is sure to be popular. Whether I entertain it myself after a personal experience of five years caution induces me to keep secret. But should I be weak enough to do so, without a shadow of doubt I shall be disabused of the “flattering unction,” much as I was at a former epoch of my life—as follows:—

I had been abroad following the fortunes of war, when,


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a day or two after my return home, walking down St. James'-street, I received the following cordial greeting from an old acquaintance, and former friend about town. “Hallo, my good fellow! is that you? have you been out of town? why you look deuced seedy!”—“I have been five years in India since I saw you last,” was my placid reply. I might have added, that this lustre had added none to my affectionate friend's outside, but I spared him so deadly a thrust.

In Australia no one appears to fear the sun even at midsummer. One sees masons and roofers employed for eight or ten hours a day, exposed to its full blaze. They are burnt so brown as hardly to be recognised as Europeans, yet their health is not damaged. I once asked an old man who had just descended from the roof of a tavern, where he had been all day employed with his basket of shingles and tomahawk, whether the sun did not make him ill. “Oh no, Sir,” said he, “I'd never take no harm on the outside of a house; it is the inside of a house like this where the mischief to the likes of me comes from.” He had been a teetotaller for twelve years, and had never had a headache since he took the pledge.

A scale of mortality which I have somewhere seen—giving the annual per-centage of deaths in a thousand persons—goes to prove New South Wales second alone to Van Diemen's Land in salubrity, among the colonies and dependencies of the British Crown. The future healthfulness of the colony, but especially of Sydney, is


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very much in the hands of the inhabitants. During the last two years of my residence, the sanitary condition of the city was anything but good. Shambles, burial-places, boiling-down stations, and bad sewerage, were producing their certain results in so hot a country. At all times of the year the climate is subject to sudden and therefore unhealthful changes; but the spring,—September and October,—appears to be the only season when any considerable amount of disease is prevalent. Without note of time or reference to almanack, one may recognise this somewhat unhealthy season by the frequent rush of the gigs and broughams of the faculty, and the cheerful aspect of their owners. Scarlatina and croo ravage the nursery. Influenza spares neither sex nor age. All the complaints, arising in this carnivorous country from large feeding and little exercise and contracted during the just past season of dinner giving and receiving, accumulate now on the hands of the doctors. Were it not for these occasional windfalls, it would be difficult to understand how the genus M.D. and its different collaterals are saved, themselves, from that worst of disorders starvation, in a country so blessedly exempt from fatal diseases and sweeping epidemics.

In 1849 public attention was more than ordinarily alert with respect to the sanitary state of the city. A great authority (Mr. Chadwick) says—before a Committee of the House of Commons—“All my experience and all my information go to vindicate the integrity of the nose. Where there is effluvium there is danger, in


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short.” One cannot thread any back street of Sydney without feelings of dread and disgust. One might suppose it had been, literally, “raining cats and dogs” for a week, and clearing up with a slight shower of goats and fowls, such is the number of dead ones. Every kind of unnameable filth salutes the eye; and, as for the organ to which Mr. C. ascribes so much honesty, Ovidius Naso—could he suddenly be dropped into a Sydney back slum —would give his ears to have left his nose in Hades! It is, therefore, impossible to say conscientiously of Sydney, as Samuel Pepys does of La Hague, that “it is a most sweet towne.”

So far as physical comfort goes I greatly prefer a warm climate to a cold one. Heat, to my sensations, is a pleasant feeling somewhat overdone: cold is pain positive! For this reason I give the palm to Australia over Canada. A writer on the climate of the latter country says—“Two months of the spring and two months of the autumn you are up to your middle in mud; for four months of the summer you are broiled by the sun, choked by the dust, and devoured by mosquitos; and for the remaining four months, if you get your nose above the snow, it is to have it bitten off by the frost!” I went to that colony not long after returning from Bengal, which probably disposed me to feel acutely the change of temperature; and accordingly, as Paul Courrier remarks of another country,—“J'y pensai gêler: jamais je ne fus si près d'une crystallisation complète.”




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The dust and mosquitos of this country beat hollow those of America; and the variations of climate, it must be confessed, are very sudden and very frequent. It is this perhaps which prevents the adoption of any light and seasonable costume, as is the habit among all classes in other warm countries. One never sees a gentleman riding or driving in linen jacket and straw hat, however sultry the weather. Even the postman posts round his wide daily circuit in the English mail uniform of red cloth coat and gold-banded beaver hat. The butcher boys do indeed pay homage to the sun of Australia by wearing head-pieces of some sort,—contrary to the well-known custom in England.

The newly arrived emigrant is, it is needless to remark, much struck by the absolute reversion of the seasons in these Austral portions of the globe. Brimful of old Home associations, how strange to him to find May-day—the festival of young Flora—falling in autumn; and to see Jack-in-the-Green dancing about in the sere and yellow leaf! The soldier fresh from the dépôt stares when he reads in General Orders that white linen trowsers “are to be taken into wear on the 1st October,” and that, per contra, cloth trowsers are to be donned, for the winter, from the 1st May. Guy Faux looks terribly out of season and out of countenance, toiling through the streets (as I saw him doing on the 5th of November, 1848) in a terrific sirocco of hot wind and dust, with the thermometer at 100° in the shade.




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But above all, how thoroughly un-English is the antipodal Christmas! Sitting in a thorough draft, clad in a holland blouse, you may see men and boys dragging from the neighbouring bush piles of green stuff, (oak branches in full leaf and acorn, and a handsome shrub with a pink flower and pale green leaf—the “Christmas” of Australia,) for the decoration of churches and dwellings, stopping every fifty yards to wipe their perspiring brows. And in Church—unlike Old England, where at this season general and incessant “coughing drowns the parson's saw;” where stoves and flues and furs scarcely keep the frost out—here we have fluttering of fans, faintings, and other indications of overheated humanity. The temporal celebration of the joyful anniversary consists, among the lower orders of New South Wales, in increased drunkenness and in an augmented list of disorderlies at the police office each morning. In the upper classes it is not celebrated at all.

There is no warmth (except such as the thermometer indicates) in the interchange of the compliments of the season—no meeting together of old and young, and the distant members of families, for the expression of mutual regard—no congratulations or demonstrations of goodwill between master and servant—no Christmas boxes, except to the postman. It seems as though each felt it a mockery to talk of a “Merry Christmas,” and a “Happy New Year,” so far from the Home “where his forefathers sleep,” and where he first learnt to welcome the glad season with Old English observance. It is too


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hot to be affectionate! Christmas-tide is, in an Englishman's mind, so rigorously associated with ice and snow, holly and mistletoe, mince pies, burnt brandy, skating, cock-shooting, and Sir Roger de Coverley, that, with all his noted reverence for customs and epochs, it is easy to see that he is working against the grain when he attempts in this colony to celebrate the festival in spite of the vice versâ-tion of the seasons and the absence of the conventional materials for its civil observance.

Only picture to yourself, middle-aged reader, a round of snap-dragon, a cup of hot spiced claret, or a plunge down fifty couple to the tune of “Merrily danced the Quaker's wife,” with the thermometer steady at 95°! And—whew!—fancy the blazing Yule log in the height of the dog-days! Where, too, are the old men and the old women? There are none, it may be said, in Australia. Christmas is nothing without the old! While writing this I have become accustomed to the sight; but on first arriving, I remember being much struck with the paucity of bald heads and “frosty pows” in the places of worship and other public assemblies.

Where is the neat thatched cottage, with its smoke curling from the ivy-clad chimney,—its three generations issuing joyfully and thankfully from the moss-grown porch, and wending their way along the frosty field-path and the crisp high-road towards the grey old village church, decked so jauntily in the holly's green and scarlet? Where the ruddy, rosy faces of young and old, of men and maidens; the plump cheeks and bright


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eyes of the cotter's daughter, the broad shoulders and well-filled blue worsted hosen of the yeoman's son? Won't that couple cut it over the buckle to-night on the stone floor of the squire's servants' hall? and are they not thinking of the mistletoe at this blessed moment, although they be on the way to church? The “grandad” himself is hale and strong, as you may see by his cheek, russet and wrinkled as a well-kept pippin. His head is white as he doffs his broad castor, for eighty Christmases have passed over it, and he hopes he may see another or two ere it finds its last repose under the old yew-tree side by side with the faithful partner already sleeping there, whose great arm-chair still stands in the chimney-nook opposite his own, and is regarded with almost superstitious awe by her children of two generations.

The service is over: the humbler parishioners linger awhile for a word with the good pastor, or hurry to exchange a greeting with the hearty old squire. There are doffing of hats and pulling of forelocks, scraping of rustic bows, and dropping of rustic curtseys; no end of smiling faces, and reiterations of “God bless your Reverence!” and “Many thanks to your Honour!” in return for the cordial good wishes of the parson and the landlord. “We shall all meet again at the Hall, my friends, to-night,” are the parting words of the squire as he hands his wife and daughter into the carriage, and trudges away sturdily a-foot, supported by his son on one hand and an ash-plant in the other,—through


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coppice and stubble-field, meadow, park, and lawn,—grateful for the health and wealth that have fallen to his lot, and revolving in his mind the best means of employing them for the benefit of those over whom Providence has placed him in authority.

Ha! my little old friend, Cock Robin!—there you are, puffing out your scarlet waistcoat, picking at the haws that Jack Frost, your chief ally, has ripened for you, and singing your Christmas hymn, if ever hymn was sung! And—but (as I began) where is all this? “In my mind's eye, Horatio:” it is a dream, no more. For six years I have seen nothing like it; but 'tis a dream that I trust to see realized again before I go hence and be no more!

The European flowers appear to be regularly puzzled by the climate of Australia, and to be affected by it in a singular manner. They seem to bud prematurely, and then remain stationary, as though waiting for a safe opportunity of coming out. Once in bloom they are most luxuriant; but an hour or two of southerly wind and dust will so utterly blast the blossoms and young shoots that a newly arrived English gardener would suppose that his show of bloom was destroyed for the year. A change of wind and a shower—and lo! a regeneration more lovely than before; and such may recur half a dozen times ere the midsummer sun finally scorches the poor exotics to tinder.

Except at this season of excessive heat, the China


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rose, verbena, heliotrope, and other familiar flowers, flourished all the year round in our garden. So well adapted for gardening purposes is the sandy soil of Sydney—which, without exaggeration, is whiter than any sea-beach I know in England—that, fair reader, the floral love-token you have just received from a button-hole—brave reader, from a bosom—if you but stick it in the ground the next morning, it will grow in a season or two into a fine plant, covered with flowers and remaining a perennial memento of the giver; whereas in Europe, if preserved at all, it must have been consigned to the hortus siccus. But of all the features of Australian climatology, drought is the most prominent and forbidding. I find in my diaries several periods of four and five months without one drop of rain; live stock and grain crops ruined; the country like tinder, susceptible to the smallest spark, and, at the beck of every puff of high wind, blazing in all directions; well if the bush-fire encroach not on the farms, as is too often the case, consuming stacks, fences, standing crops, out-houses, cattle, and even human beings.

In April 1849, the sun set at Sydney for several weeks successively in a lurid haze of smoke. During his last two hours above the horizon, the weakest eye might gaze unwinking at his rayless disk. The whole west was either in flames or smouldering. In January 1850, during a lengthened drought, the north shore of the harbour was on fire for ten or twelve days. At night


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it looked like a line of twenty or thirty huge furnaces, extending over some fifteen miles. The city and the village of St. Leonard's were shrouded in smoke, and the air was pervaded with the aromatic odour of the burning gum-trees. Many poor settlers would have been ruined but for a liberal subscription raised for the sufferers. In 1851, hundreds of miles of country in the district of Port Phillip were included in one vast conflagration, and as many families brought to destitution by the destruction of their property. The heavens were obscured for a long period by a canopy of smoke, the soot falling on board vessels at sea 150 miles distant from the land. When the rain does come it comes with a vengeance, sometimes carrying away in its torrents roads, gardens, walls, palings, and bridges, which had proved invulnerable to the preceding bush-fires. Every highway becomes a river, every by-way a brook, every bank a cataract. The thunder cracks right over head, echoeless, like the report of a gun. Hailstones come rattling down an inch long, knocking over young livestock and domestic poultry, levelling orange orchards and vineyards, breaking windows and human heads, and in twenty-four hours, or less, the dust is blowing about as bad as ever. No one who has not lived in a country liable to drought can appreciate the eagerness with which every assemblage of clouds is watched; with what feelings of disappointment their breaking up without yielding a drop is accompanied; with what thankfulness


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the boon of “moderate rain and showers” is received when it does come.

The Yorkshire farmer “shakes the dew-drops from his mane,” and growls out “cusses” loud and deep against the torrents that are laying his fifteen-acre wheat-piece, “spiling of” his just tedded hay, or “ruinating his turmits.” Poor Paddy, sheltering himself at “the back of the ditch,” the rain pouring down the funnel of his crownless caubeen, mutters half in despair, half in levity, “Mille murthers! there goes the pratees to blazes, an' wid 'em the rint, and Father Flanagan's dues, and the minister's tithes, and the childre's food, the craythurs!—and, thonomondioul! to mend matthers, it's put me pipe out!” In Australia, on the contrary, you have the cit congratulating himself that the coming storm will lay the dust, flush the drains, replenish the wells, and bring down the price of vegetables and forage. The agriculturist assures himself that his “maize is saved this bout, any how.” “My word!” cries the inland squatter, “this will fill the water-holes rarely, and save me a thousand or two head of stock on the Billibung upland runs.” He reflects, perhaps, per contra, that the storms on the mountains will set a-going the “chain of ponds” courteously known by the name of the Murry-run-dry river, and will cut him off from his two best out-stations, if not carry away a flock or two. He may lose two or three horses, if not his own life, in attempting to cross the “bottom,” where yesterday there was nothing to


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be seen moister than a glaring white sand, hot enough to boil a retort. I am not particularly partial to being wet to the skin; but I may truly say that when in New South Wales a good drenching did befal me, I cheerfully and dutifully compounded for the wetting of my own particular clay in consideration of the benefit our Mother Earth was deriving from it generally.

I wonder whether any one has observed how completely the antipodal position of Australia falsifies many of the images of the English and ancient poets. To the born Australian, Thomson knows nothing about the seasons; Shakspeare is no longer the poet of nature:—what does he mean by—

“The sweet South,
That breathes upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour!”

The south wind brings sleet and hail and chilly hurricanes, blighting and blasting every blossom it touches! What does Horace mean by his “rabiem noti?” 'Tis a libel on our soft Australian northern breezes. “Keen Aquilon” is not keen, whatever Herbert may say or sing. As for the east wind, so much abused in English prose, if not in verse—here it is the balmy breath of the Pacific—the sweet sea-breeze, for whose daily advent during the summer the Sydneyite watches and prays with all the fervour that inspired the “Aura veni!” of Cephalus. The veteran Spenser must have been dozing or doting when he wrote—




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“Then came old January, wrapped well
In many weeds to keep the cold away;
Yet did he quake and quiver like to quell,
And blow his nayles to warm them if he may!”

To cool them, of course he meant;—for, as I have before quoted, an Australian bard sings—

“When hot December's sultry breeze
Scarce stirs a leaf on yonder trees.”

And if December be hot, January is hotter!

One of the greatest advantages of an Australian clime is, that whatever you may have planned for out-door work or pastime you may, for three hundred and twenty days out of the three hundred and sixty-five, pretty assuredly perform. The words “weather permitting” is a reservation unheard-of here,—whilst in dear, drizzly old England a picnic and wet weather are proverbial companions. It is a great blessing, too, to be able to go abroad in an ordinary in-door dress, instead of piling on extra pellicles, graduated according to the season. Here the family of clogs, galoshes, umbrellas, &c., imported from Europe by the careful emigrant, are “hung up as monuments!” Chesterfield, Benjamin, Taglioni, and Macintosh are sumptuary nobodies; and Nicol is only tolerated in his most gossamer form. I am aware of the existence of one warming-pan in New South Wales—one only; and I shall move the owner to present it to the Sydney museum when she returns to England—perfectly certain that to ninety-nine out of a hundred Anglo-Australian visitors of the


  ― 33 ―
institution the intent and purposes of the implement would be utterly inscrutable.

One of our old essayists defends the English practice of making the weather the first theme of conversation. Contrasting it with some other matters of common interest, he says:—“The weather is a nobler and more interesting subject; it is the present state of the skies and of the earth, on which plenty or famine are suspended—on which millions depend for the necessaries of life.” In New South Wales the words, “a fine day,” as part of a salutation, are absurdly expletive, and have therefore become obsolete—a fine day being a mere matter of course. Sunshine is the rule—clouds the exception. Yet with all its beauties the Australian climate, taken as a whole, is hard, glaring, almost withering in its excessive aridity. If it does not prompt to languor and listlessness, like that of some other southern countries, neither is there anything voluptuous in it. Byron's dictum regarding “what men call gallantry” and “climates sultry” does not hold good, I think, with regard to New South Wales. It is an indirect libel upon it—happily! Perhaps, however, so business-like a people would not be sentimental, romantic, poetical, or amorous under any skyey influences!

The winter season and the autumn mornings are thoroughly delightful. I often think how much we shall miss them when we shall have lost them. Yet after all—bigot that I am—welcome, thrice welcome! misty atmosphere, “lack-lustre” skies of “my own, my native land.”


  ― 34 ―
When the sun does shine he shines on landscapes that in my eyes at least have no counterpart. There are days I well remember (little as I have lived in England) which no climate or country can equal in loveliness—more delicious than any others—anywhere else—under any circumstances!

What think you, sportsman reader, of a fine first of September morning in a good old-fashioned English country house? You spring from your couch, and throw up the window-sash to see if the weather favours the intended business of the day. How sweet and fresh the early air! How gratefully it plays upon the brow and fills the lungs! How pleasantly the sun, about an hour above the horizon, is “warning off” the lingering mists with his rays, like so many flaming swords. How cheerful the music from the rookery! You look out over the wide-spread park—over oak and elm clumps—bright sheets of water, where the fog still loiters among the sedges—fern-clad knolls, upon which the deer and cattle are browsing. Through vistas in the woodlands you catch glimpses of golden stubbles; here and there a dark green turnip field; a brown fallow or two; beyond them a ridgy potato piece, and a narrow strip of gorse dotted with birch-trees, trending away until it is lost in the deep purple of a heathery upland. Bringing your eyes more homeward, they alight on the smooth-shaved dewy lawn, where the strutting cock pheasant, —happy in a month's impunity,—is sunning his golden plumage; and the “limping” hare, sponging his


  ― 35 ―
“innocent nose” with his wet forepads, is longing for a nibble at the lady's well-guarded carnations. … And, by Jove! here come the keeper and his assistants, with a leash of pointers and a shaggy pony!

Ah! well, well! dreaming again!note




  ― 36 ―

Chapter II. Excursion to Illawarra, or the Five Islands.

EXCURSION TO ILLAWARRA—A STEAM TORTOISE—THE MARINE HOTEL—A CHILDISH WAITER—A BABY CARPENTER'S MATE—WOLLONGONG—TRADE OF THE DISTRICT—FINE ESTATES—A “LORD OF THE ISLES”—THOUGHTS ON SHOOTING—CREEKS AND LAGOONS—WOODCRAFT—DEATH OF THE BLACK SWAN—MY RETRIEVER—THE FIVE ISLANDS—LAKE ILLAWARRA — HOME SCENES—SOLDIER SETTLERS—“WATERLOO” AND “ALBUERA”—CLEARING LEASES—GIGANTIC NETTLE-CEDAR—MOUNT KEERA—COAL—A PILLION PAIR—AGRICULTURAL EXHIBITION—A FAMILY PORTRAIT—STRIKING A BARGAIN—A BUMP ON BRADLEY'S HEAD—SYDNEY.

IN the summer of 1849 I made a trip to Illawarra, a sea-coast district, about sixty-six miles south of Port Jackson. This district may be sixty miles long, is hemmed in and narrowed to the westward by a lofty range of mountains, and has the character of being the garden of New South Wales. Wollongong is the chief town. Strange and shameful to say, there is no road practicable for carriages from Sydney to this long-established, fertile, and beautiful province—the passage of the mountains presenting difficulties weighty enough to deter private enterprise and public effort, and thereby virtually shutting up the most fruitful lands in the colony from the markets of the neighbouring metropolis.




  ― 37 ―

As fifty years of prisoner labour had failed to produce a suitable means of communication by land, I was driven to the sole alternative of adopting the existing most unsuitable one by sea. With many misgivings I removed my household gods, my wife, two servants, and a horse, on board a wretched little tub of a steam-boat—which it was absolute disloyalty to have named after England's Sailor King, and which seemed to have been built expressly to disprove the omnipotence of steam as a motive agent. On the morning of the 24th of January we got on board and under weigh—a perfect understanding existing on the part of the captain, the engineer, the boilers, the passengers and the winds, that if anything like a moderate breeze was to blow up from the south we were to consider ourselves weather-bound, and bound in honour to remain within the Heads until more favourable auspices should supervene. Accordingly up sprung, about mid-day, a tolerably fresh air from the proscribed point, and, after paddling six miles down the harbour, our craft laid itself up snugly in one of the great port's little offshoots, called Vaucluse Bay, where, within an hour's drive of our own comfortable drawing-room, dinner, and bed, we indulged in the variety of dining and sleeping on board this little floating dungeon. Fortunately the old engineer, who was the pink of politeness, suggested an oyster-hunt to pass the time, and the skipper falling good-humouredly into the proposal, all hands landed on a cluster of rocks, well known as the “Bottle and Glass,” where we pursued that sport with as much satisfaction


  ― 38 ―
as success. A surfeit of shell-fish, it was pleasant to know, could only produce very temporary inconvenience, with the certain prospect of sea-sickness on the morrow. The antidote followed the poison quicker than was looked for. At seven o'clock, P.M., we again got under weigh, and, after a rough night, reached our destination on the following morning at eight o'clock. There were on board several Illawarra settlers, who seemed proud of their little sea-port, town, and picturesque district—describing with admiration and minuteness the various objects as we neared the anchorage. I have always looked upon my countrymen's catlike attachment to (not merely contentment with, but absolute enthusiasm for) the spot of their adoption, as a special and precious dispensation of Providence to a nation destined to replenish unpeopled countries; I have always treated it with becoming respect, (although in the indulgence of this feeling the one step between the sublime and the ridiculous is often passed,) and I have experienced becoming pain when an unguarded expression on my part may have hurt such feelings. “Pray, Sir!” said I to a gentleman of responsible and courteous exterior, who had been kindly supplying information on the different points of view around us,—“Pray, Sir, what may be that singular looking building near the beach?” “That, Sir,” replied he readily, “is popularly styled Brown's Folly—my name's Brown, Sir!”

The boat harbour of Wollongong—for it is little more —consists of a basin and jetty, constructed by convict


  ― 39 ―
labour. The remains of the old stockade, and the officer's cottage, crown the top of a verdant promontory, which protects the port from the southern gales. The site of the town, with Mounts Keera and Kembla in the background, is extremely picturesque. Its salubrious sea breezes and quiet seclusion have made this little place a sort of sanitarium for Sydney.

We took rooms at “The Marine Hotel,”—“nice hairy apartments,” as they were described by the civilest of hostesses,—the same apartments, we were assured, as were lately occupied by his Excellency the Governor, whose visit to Wollongong was to the good folks of the hotel what the famous “disjeune” of King James was to the Lady of Tillytudlem. Nothing could be cleaner, quieter, or more comfortable than this establishment, which I hereby recommend to all tourists for health or pleasure. The house is only separated by a field from the sandy beach, whereon a heavy surf continually thunders. Many curious shells are to be picked up along the shore, some of which are prettily worked up into necklaces by the native women.

We had the inn nearly to ourselves. Only one other family shared it with us. We had actual and visual cognisance of a ladylike matron, a nice fat baby, and a fatter boy of three or four years, whose bashfulness took the awkward form of always hiding his face on the floor,—so that, like the ostrich evading his pursuer, all other parts of his person were exposed. There was presumptive evidence of a male head of the family; for we saw


  ― 40 ―
his capacious slippers,—we heard his sonorous “hem!” —occasionally we met his hot meat breakfast on the stairs,—but to this day he remains in our memory as our invisible neighbour of Wollongong!

At the Marine Hotel we enjoyed, or rather endured, a singular proof of the want of adult labour in New South Wales, and of the consequent early importance of children. The posts of waiter and “laquais de place” were filled by a lad of eleven or twelve years, the eldest son of the landlord;—(it was funny enough to hear the chamber-maid calling to the waiter, “Master Charles, your Pa wants you!”) Sharp and intelligent, but terribly spoilt, nothing could be done in the house, or out, without the interposition of this little meddlesome Puck. He brought up our meals, waited at table, joined in the conversation, drew and helped to drink the wine, knew everybody and everything about the place, and was just the fellow to fill a gaping tourist like myself with a budget of incorrect information. He constituted himself my guide in our rides to the “lions” of the vicinity,—assuring me that “his three-year old filly, by ‘young Theorem,’ out of a ‘Scamp’ mare,” was nearly clean bred; that he had broken her himself, and that she was a pleasant hack;—that he had lent his gun, “a first-rate one,” to a black, to get some wild ducks for us, but would be happy to accompany me a-shooting, as he had heard I was a sportsman,—was one himself!—although to be sure his idea of sport was somewhat bashaw-like. He could get me a boat with a pair of


  ― 41 ―
oars, and a man who would fish and shoot for me at 7s. 6d. per diem,—a mode of action like that of the king of Oude, who, astonished at the personal exertions of the English ladies and gentlemen in dancing gallopes and singing sonatas, explained that all oriental gentlefolks had their singing and dancing done by proxy.

One night, when on the point of going to bed, my self-elected brother-shot rushed into my dressing-room, and informed me that the lagoon near the house was covered with wild ducks, which had alighted in a large flight. Full of an old sportsman's zeal, I hurried on my clothes again, loaded my trusty Wesley Richards—carefully chalking the barrels, according to Hawker's advice for night-shooting, and, having by great exertion of woodcraft got within shot of the wary game, was in the act of opening upon them what despatches call “a galling and destructive fire,” when, fortunately, a “lilly-white duck” sailed across the moon-beams, and saved me the disgrace and disbursement consequent upon exterminating whole broods belonging to neighbouring poultry-yards.

I have cited young Hopeful as a living proof of the scarcity of adult labour here. But there was a still stronger illustration of the early enumeration of children among the working hands, brought to our notice. A female servant of the hotel told us that one of her boys, only four years old, had been adopted by a relative, a carpenter by trade, and that “he found him very useful in


  ― 42 ―
carrying his tool-basket, and doing odd jobs.” It is a pity that the juvenile mob of Sydney—the idlest and the most mischievous, for their inches, ever known—were not in like manner harnessed to some employment, and thus kept out of mischief.

The town of Wollongong contains about 120 houses, and 500 or 600 inhabitants. One-fifth of the buildings are tumbling down or tenantless, two-fifths are publichouses, and the rest belong to settlers, shopkeepers, and professional men. There are places of worship for all shades and tastes of creed. Besides the four or five which, as the French say, “jump to the eyes” of the traveller, there are others of less demonstrative exterior; so that spiritual destitution, if it exist—and we hear a good deal of it in New South Wales—must be voluntary.

In the Protestant church, on Sunday morning, I found about sixty grown-up persons, exclusive of the minister and an individual in a holland blouse and clarionet, personating the organ. The Roman Catholics here, as generally in these colonies, appear to have increased in numbers and consequence at a much greater ratio than other denominations. The reason is obvious. Union is strength: the Romanists are devoted to one set of tenets—bound up in one common cause—presenting the strongest “formation” for resistance, if not for conquest. The Protestants are split into sects; every man must set up a creed for himself; and Dissent appears to be the rule rather than the exception. A handsome stone


  ― 43 ―
chapel, nearly finished, will shortly replace the present modest wooden edifice. The priest, it need hardly be added, possesses a most comfortable cottage, a clever hack, and a sleek exterior.

There is a painful appearance of by-gone better days about Wollongong and its neighbourhood. The fictitious value of land, at that period of the history of the colony when its follies and misfortunes formed its leading features, was one of the causes of the decline of this town. Mechanics came in crowds to what they imagined a good market for their labour and skill, houses were run up, but, disappointed in their expectations, they went off to Port Phillip and elsewhere.

The agricultural produce of this fertile district is greater than can be sold or consumed. The starving condition of the poor in the old countries recurs with bitterness to the mind when one hears a colonist say, —“We should be as well off, or better, if we produced less. We have not mouths to eat, nor markets to purchase our meat and grain.” What sad tales of misery, poverty, crime, violence, sedition, and death might be spared us, if plenty and population could be more justly balanced!

The chief exports from Wollongong are eggs, cheese, butter, calves, poultry, and grain. Some excellent horses are bred in the district, especially adapted for harness—for they attain a larger size here than in the drier parts of the colony, as is well known to be the case all over the world. The arid and sandy deserts produce the


  ― 44 ―
thorough-bred and beautiful Arab of fourteen or fifteen hands. The old original Flanders mares, which were imported to England to drag at a snail's pace the gilded coaches of our ancestors, are the natural production of a soft swampy soil; and the Lincoln fens grow the tall black steeds destined to carry our sesquipedalian Life-guardsmen. Horses, however, are not by knowing settlers considered good stock, because a mare and foal, you are told, will consume the grass of three cows; and nothing except very shapely colts will fetch a remunerative price.

There are some splendid estates in Illawarra. The author of an interesting work called “Rambles and Observations in New South Wales,” thus writes regarding the possessions of two brothers residing together in the southern part of the province. “Another twenty-five miles brings us to the banks of the Shoalhaven, on which are rich alluvial flats, and a farm that cannot be equalled in the colony, nor yet excelled in England. The owners of this noble property hold as freehold 80,000 acres of fine land, of which 20,000 are naturally clear and fit for the plough; and I speak within bounds when I say that on the estate there are 5,000 acres of white clover. This indeed spreads so fast, that in a few years the greater part of the property will be covered with it: but a mixture of clover and ryegrass is preferred. On this estate and on the adjoining waste lands are maintained upwards of 3,000 head of cattle and several herds of horses.….

“Great pains have been taken to improve the breed of


  ― 45 ―
cattle, and bulls have been imported from England at great expense. ‘Ella,’ a short-horned Durham, is a splendid creature, and cost 500l., and there are also some beautiful Ayrshire bulls.… Some of the bullocks reared and fed on the swamps attain a great size. A few weigh 1,500 pounds, and the rolls of fat on their backs form hollows something like a saucer. From the woods that skirt the swamps they come out to feed; and during the heat of the day retire into them to rest and enjoy the shade… I have never seen in England cattle equal in size and weight to those on this princely property (and none of them are stall fed); and the overseer at Ulla-dulla, an experienced farming man, confessed that he had never seen finer animals than the general run of cattle here, excepting on the estate of the late Sir Charles Morgan in Monmouthshire.….

“Their hospitality is unbounded, and the traveller's room, with its neat and clean beds, has been the place of rest of many a weary pilgrim.”

This sounds like wealth, acquired as well as merited; but the author concludes some further details by a remark which I fancy might be applied only too generally throughout the country,—“Yet the owners of it can never become rich by farming it, for want of a market.”

Within the scope of a ride from the town, there is some very picturesque scenery, new to the eye accustomed to the sandy flats and undulating scrub-land of Sydney. The pretty valley of “Fairy Meadows” is close at hand, separated by a ridge of highish land from the sea


  ― 46 ―
board, backed by the mountain range, with a meandering stream of fresh water running through its length. Here are water-mills on the flat, settlers' houses perched on the hills, bark huts overgrown with passion flowers, vines, ivy, or gourds; fields of wheat, stubble, or growing maize with its tall green flags and yellow plumes; rude barns at the corners of enclosures, whence the cheerful sound of the flail reaches the traveller's ear; and many other things that—more than anywhere else in this country—might recal England, were it not for two things:—one of them is the untidy and un-homelike look of the half-cleared fields, cumbered with stumps and logs, or with dead single trees—for the forest tree, impatient of solitude, generally dies when left to stand alone. The other thing is the cabbage palm-tree, some few specimens of which are still left growing in the valley. The appearance of this graceful tree carried me at once back to the East. The slender stems seemed to be from sixty to eighty feet high, and they swayed to the breeze as it whistled through the round tuft of foliage at their tops. The well-known cabbage-tree hat of the squatter, the farmer, the sailor—in short, of every “gentleman, apothecary, ploughboy, thief,” in and out of Sydney, is made from the leaves of this palm; and the raw material forms an article of export to Sydney. These beautiful and useful trees are becoming scarce, from the reckless destruction of the trunk for the sake of the leaf by the whites, as well as from the blacks cutting them down for the edible shoots at the top—whence the cabbage.




  ― 47 ―

I had a visit from the chief of the Illawarra tribe, “Jemmi-Jemmi,” as inscribed on the brazen gorget round his neck—the usual gift of the Government to distinguished natives;—or Jem, as he was popularly styled. He is a wretched-looking old man, and his “gin” an equally miserable specimen of old woman-hood—a perfect skeleton; yet she seemed strong and active, although but lately she had been half burnt to death. There was with them a fine full-blown young woman, the mother of two pretty children, both of them evidently indebted for paternity to some white-skinned dweller in the wilderness. The old man gave his protection moreover to an orphan girl. “Moder tumble down (died), me keep him. Master give me coppers for get him beer.” Eight dogs trotted at the heels of the family. And this was the hereditary chieftain of Illawarra!—The Lord of the Isles! demanding tribute from me, a stranger and intruder in the land, —for so I considered my small offering of “white money,” which the poor old fellow was too modest to ask for.

I had once the honour of tipping a fourpenny-piece to a well-dressed and rather fine-looking Aboriginal, in the Sydney Botanic Gardens. He approached me with a profusion of graceful bows, his somewhat seedy hat sweeping the ground at every reverence, and, pointing to his medallion, thus made known his name, as well as his wants. “Count D'Orsay” was inscribed in large letters on the brass. My friend, the original Count, is not perhaps aware that he has an Australian representative. A year afterwards I encountered the Aboriginal nobleman


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in bettered circumstances, riding a good horse, and enjoying 10l. per annum in the service of Mr. Icely.

I had been led to expect some good shooting at Wollongong, and had contrived to borrow from an old sportsman, through the intervention of “Master Charles,” a brace of dogs. There was little game to be found, however, for the season was unusually dry and fearfully hot; the stubbles had been burnt, and the dogs hunted entirely on their own account. In spite of them nevertheless—for I could not catch them to tie them up—I killed a good many quail, and a few bronzed-winged pigeons. One day I was joined by an old man, who proffered his aid to show me likely spots. Observing his sportsman-like demeanour and language, I asked him if he was a native of the colony. He said no; that he had served Squire Osbaldiston in England. In this colony, for reasons that may be guessed, I was rarely inquisitive regarding the private history of strangers—who might, or might not, volunteer some account of themselves. So I heard no more of my chance companion's biography. He was a pleasant old fellow; but I thought he looked like one who would be a troublesome customer at the corner of a covert on a moonlight night. The wildest hope I entertained regarding the cause of his “exeat regno” was, that it had fallen short of bagging a gamekeeper!

January 28th.—Bulwer makes Pelham say, “that same shooting is a most barbarous amusement, only fit for royal dukes, majors in the army, and that sort of people,”


  ― 49 ―
and that the shooter endures “a state of painful fatigue enlivened by the probability of being killed.” It is difficult indeed to account for the popularity of this pastime; for sportsmen as ardent are to be found among the intellectual and refined, as among the empty-headed and uneducated. The pursuit is shared by the greatest statesmen, (it is soothing to reflect!) the profoundest scholars, the wisest jurists, the most conservative physicians, the most successful captains—as well as the fattest majors and fastest subalterns of the day! These quotations and reflections, pro and con, are introduced apparently by way of exordium or apology to a sporting incident which I find marked with white chalk in my Illawarra diary. In a work published many years ago, the author of these volumes gave his reader perhaps too weighty proofs of his addiction to field sports. Time, the tamer of such tastes, and the scarcity of game in Australia, are sufficient guarantee for his not sinning in the same shape in the present work. When he occasionally burns a little powder in his “Rambles” personal and literary, he trusts the ebullitions of an old “shot” may meet with indulgence.

This day being Sunday, after morning service I mounted my mare for a solitary canter on the beach to the northwards of Wollongong; but the drifting of the sand before a fierce south-east wind was such as to drive me into the bush for a more sheltered ride and a more endurable atmosphere. Soon after turning inland I lost my way,—becoming involved sometimes in


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thick tea-scrub, which almost swept me from my saddle; sometimes among sluggish and sinuous salt creeks, which forced me to meander in my course like themselves; now scrambling among rocks and roots of huge gumtrees; now floundering in and out of some bog, into which, deceived by the pink-flowered shrub that covered it, my beast had leapt before she looked.

The sun,—the bushman's guide,—had set; but with the lofty ridge of Mount Keera within view on my right, and with the surf thundering not far off on the other hand, my mind was quite at ease as to my direction. At length, hitting upon a cattle track, and throwing the reins upon the mare's neck, she ambled away at a pace indicating that her nose was pointing due mangerward. A thick and high scrub rising just a-head threatened a sudden stoppage to our course. It looked like an English privet hedge of incalculable width; yet the little path dived, rather than ran, right into its depths. Had I not already abdicated my reason in favour of “Nelly's” instinct, I might have turned her back; but sticking to my compact with her,—as well as to my saddle as tight as possible,—and lowering my head, we rushed full butt into the vegetable phalanx. A short and desperate struggle, and, like the Life Guards at Waterloo, out we came on the opposite side, covered, not, like them, with laurels, but with profuse wreaths of a blue-flowering creeper, more picturesque than pleasant, in the capacity of a cravat.

We stood upon the shore of a beautiful and romantic


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lagoon,—narrow in some parts, at others swelling out to a considerable expanse,—a perfect mirror framed in the tallest and thickest bush. This salt lake, (a feature common to the district of Illawarra,) like its fellows falls into the sea by a narrow mouth, which in dry weather and low tides is filled up with sand-drifts. In heavy rains, however, the sandy barrier is swept away for a time, to be again rebuilt by the south-eastern gales and the surf. I remembered having crossed the mouth of the lagoon earlier in the day, and knew therefore that I could hardly be more than two miles from the town; and I was admiring the wildness and seclusion of the spot,—more interesting to me from the general absence of inland water in the colony,—when, as my eye wandered carelessly across the face of the water, it was electrified by the sight of a splendid black swan, (the only one I had ever seen wild,) sailing out of the rushes on the margin of the lagoon, about fifty yards from my station. Sportsman reader! what would you have done? Mine inn was within two miles, there was still plenty of light, my mare was fast as her Arab sire; but, as I have before stated, it was Sunday. Sportsman reader! I ask, what would you have done? Perhaps I might as well have galloped at once for my gun, for it is vain to deny that I had already committed cycnicide in my heart. But no—I rode quietly home, breaking twigs to form a trail, and promising myself success to-morrow for to-day's forbearance. Doubtless I talked black swans all the evening; but a sister of “Frank Forrester”


  ― 52 ―
was not likely to resent her husband's sporting infatuation. I dreamt of black swans!

Daylight found me in my saddle, clad from head to heel in drab, the most invisible of colours, my trusty double barrel charged with Eley's No. 2 green cartridge, slung on one shoulder, a telescope on the other, and a hank of twine at my pummel to secure my bird. I had no retriever, for there was none I could trust on such an expedition. A cloudy morning and the rustling of a fresh breeze through the bush, were circumstances in my favour. I soon reached the lagoon. The bright mirror of yesterday was now dark and ruffled: truly it looked a wild and gloomy spot.

My horse was quickly tied up at the entrance of the trail of broken branches, and, pursuing it quickly in a stooping posture, I arrived at an open spot of sand. This I crossed snakewise, and found myself, a good deal out of breath, in a fine covert of rushes on the edge of the lake, which was here not more than 150 yards wide. A sweeping glance told me that the object of my visit was not within ken, if he was at home at all. There stood on a dead tree opposite a large white fishing eagle, motionless as stone; and an old grey-headed raven was croaking and peeping at me from another; but no black swan! Suddenly there was a distant snap of a branch which the mare had broken; and immediately there appeared from above the reeds on the opposite side of the water the long sable neck and bright crimson bill I so anxiously looked for.




  ― 53 ―

The proud bird, with his head turned in the direction of the mare, sailed from the covert directly towards my hiding-place; but, when within seventy yards, seemingly suspicious, he wheeled round again, and putting himself before the wind, with half-open pinions sheared slowly off. Now or never, thought I; and I sprung to my feet and the bird to his wings at the same instant. The first barrel was fired as he rose, the second when he was in full flight. I heard the shot strike, and a broken feather fell whirling towards the water; yet the magnificent bird flew on apparently unhurt. An old shooter, however, knows better than to withdraw his eye from his game too soon on such an occasion; and very shortly I had the satisfaction to see the swan perform a sudden turn in the air, and then tumble with a heavy “thud” into the mid lagoon. His head was erect, however, and he swam strongly towards the most distant part of the water. It was evidently a wounded pinion that had given way. Immediately after firing I dropped down into my covert, reloaded, and with my glass reconnoitred the movements of my destined victim and first ornament of my museum. He steered right down the lake, and entered the sedges on the further shore, about half a mile off.

Marking well the spot (for good marking, young shooter! is one of the first requisites of a sportsman), and quickly remounting my steed, I made a wide circuit at full speed, until my bearings informed me that I had


  ― 54 ―
reached a spot in the bush precisely opposite to my former post. Once more taking to my feet, and carefully avoiding to pass under the gum-trees, whose crackling bark strewed the ground, but stepping on the soft turf beneath a line of swamp oaks, I came down for the second time upon the water's edge, and, looking cautiously through the reeds, I perceived—not the swan, but his “wake” on the smooth water just beyond them. The direction of the ripples betrayed that of the bird; so, retiring quickly and noiselessly from the bank, I again made a round through the bush wide enough to avoid a spot destitute of cover, and in about five minutes had ensconced myself on a reedy promontory exactly suited to my purpose. No track on the water was visible here —my game was evidently “ringed.” Stretched on the wet ground, with my gun resting on a log, the barrels forming an embrasure for themselves through the long flags—all eyes, ears, and expectation—I had, fortunately, not long to wait. The swan came into sight paddling swiftly, looking back as if he feared an attack from the rear—forward, as if he felt nowhere safe, and directing his course diagonally away from the shore, at about sixty yards distant. Sing your death-song, beautiful bird! Ebon lord of the flood, sing your dirge—for your hour is come! The deadly tube is lifted—not unseen, for the bird attempts to rise, but one wing is useless, and the effort is vain. The first barrel rings through the bush, and the long graceful neck and neat small head droops


  ― 55 ―
on the water. It needed no second shot, for the black swan was stone dead.

“And the weeping mosses and clambering weeds,
And the willow branches hoar and dank,
And the wavy swell of the soughing reeds,
And the wave worn horns of the echoing bank,
And the silvery marish-flowers that throng
The desolate creeks and pools among,
Were flooded over with eddying song.”note

The black swan was dead—but he was full sixty yards from the shore, and the wind or current was setting him further off every minute. I had no dog—what would I have given for my faithful old Juno, who was rearing a litter of mongrels at Sydney! I tried to get round to a point of land, towards which the bird seemed drifting, but a deep creek cut me off. Spirit of Hawker! what was to be done? (I invoke his living spirit—for I trust the veteran sportsman still lives and thrives.) Reader! once more I take the liberty to ask you, what would you have done? Doubtless, exactly what I did—only with less hesitation, for you are probably younger and stronger than I.

Since my earliest childhood I have been somewhat addicted to superstition—an old nurse of mine took good care that I should not be otherwise.… It was the most wild and sequestered nook of this almost awfully solitary lake—a lake

“Whose gloomy shore
Skylark never warbled o'er.”

The grey fish-eagle, scared by my shot, wheeled overhead with shrill discordant screams. The old grizzled


  ― 56 ―
raven—“Sinistra cornix!” —that had followed me, like an evil spirit, in all my manœuvres, was perched on a burnt branch, croaking all sorts of villainous omens. The sheet of brackish water, overhung by gigantic gums and dismal swamp oaks—a fringe of them standing dead and gaunt in the shallows—and darkened by the shadow of the mountain, looked black and forbidding. Tall flagreeds growing out of slimy mud and mingled with rotting timber, skirted the shore;—just the spot, thought I, for the monstrous, and, perhaps, really extant bunyip to establish his amphibious lair! There might be sharks too in these unexplored waters issuing to the sea; or some huge anonymous fish, fulfilling all the intents and purposes of the shark!

These were not encouraging reflections;—but the black swan was to be had. First, then, I addressed myself to stopping the forebodings of the feathered augur on the burnt tree; and, if I have any skill in drawing omens from the flight of birds, the shot allotted to that service must have given him cause to confine his croakings to his own grievances. Then, stripping, I selected a long light pole from the bush, and hanging my clothes on a bough to mark the spot, waded into the rushes, the mud nearly reaching my knees. Instantly my unprotected person was attacked by countless swarms of mosquitos and sand-flies; so, running quickly along the huge stem of a fallen tree that projected beyond the reedy border, I plunged into deep water, pole and all, and in a few minutes reached my object. Catching the


  ― 57 ―
bird by a leg I turned towards the shore, but his wings expanding I found it impossible to tow him in that manner. His long neck made a more convenient “painter,” and the feathers, lying the right way, the body followed easily enough. There was, however, a strong current and a high wind against us, and, becoming tired, I felt half inclined to desert my prize. The pole showed me there was no bottom, so passing it under one arm and the huge bird under the other by way of floats, I lay quiet for a time, and soon recovered my breath. Once more tackling the swan I pushed for the shore. When about half-way a new obstacle assailed me; for long slimy weeds trailed themselves round my limbs, and made me shiver as I thought of the monstrous polypus,note with a hundred feelers, common to these seas; but, turning on my back, the weeds unravelled themselves, and eventually I had the satisfaction of bringing my prize safe into port, and hauling it high and dry on terra firma. Nelly did the rest—and before mid-day the black swan was handed over to my servant to be skinned and cured. I little expected to be haunted by the black swan, or anything belonging to him, after his death; but I must relate, as a curious fact of natural history, that on getting home it took me a good hour of washing and brushing to rid my hair of an insect—a sort of tick—which in hundreds had migrated from the dead bird to the living man. I have since heard that many of the


  ― 58 ―
birds and beasts of Australia carry about with them this kind of parasite.

It was something, I thought, to have found, shot, and “retrieved,” my own rara avis! Moreover, it enabled me to make a somewhat singular sporting boast, involving no contracted sphere of travel,—namely, that I have shot in their naturally wild state, in their own native climes, specimens of all the domestic birds now found in the English farm-yard—turkey, peafowl, jungle poultry, &c.

The reader smiles—perhaps he frowns—as he sees how unmercifully I have been riding an old hobby over the last half-dozen pages. Let me, therefore, dismount, and turn to some other theme.

January 30th.—A trip to “The Five Islands” in the boat of and in company with Sandy Macpherson—the “harbour-master,” as he calls himself, of Wollongong. This rocky group, which gives its name to the district, is about eight or nine miles from the port. We landed at Rabbit Island, in hopes of finding a few of the coney tribe from which it derives its English appellation. The colony, however, planted by English hands, has by the same hands been extirpated or nearly so. Its existence, however, proves that the rabbit might be introduced with success into this colony, so devoid of four-footed game. Close to the warren are the burrows of the sooty petrel, or mutton bird, which forms to itself a sort of underground rookery, very curious to behold—out of which you may pull them or their eggs


  ― 59 ―
by dozens, if so inclined. I know not how this bird got its ovine name, unless it was from the people of H. M. S. Sirius, which was wrecked at Norfolk Island when freighted with convicts—the crew, escort, and prisoners feeding on the mutton bird until other provisions arrived from Sydney.

There is only one tenant of Rabbit Island of a higher order than the rabbits and petrels. It is a venerable Billy-goat, whose wives and children have all been carried off by coasting vessels. He is very wild, and doubtless very tough—qualities to which he is probably indebted for his life. We caught a momentary glimpse of him among the distant rocks, but he instantly disappeared. Some plans were talked over for furnishing the involuntary hermit with one or two companions; and if some “unholy bark” touch at the “Sainted Isle” with a partner for him, the bearded sage may thank me for the acquisition. Our pleasant little repast, which we cooked too near the dry scrub growing at a short distance from the shore, ended with a grand conflagration, which it is to be feared must have temporarily destroyed all the vegetation of the island,—for it was seen smoking like a Stromboli for some days afterwards.

Rabbit Island is not more than half a mile from a salient point of the coast, extensively cleared and cultivated. The wind preventing our return by water to Wollongong, we landed, and, hiring a cart at a farmhouse, went back by the shore at a foot's pace—


  ― 60 ―
enjoying a delightful drive by moonlight through a tract embracing many of the peculiarities of Illawarra scenery —sand and swamp, forest and savannah, lagoon and dry land alternate. In India we might have looked for tigers and bears, in Africa for lions, on such a belated expedition;—in some other parts of New South Wales for bush-rangers of a biped kind. Here we met with nothing more alarming than the whistle of the curlew, the quacking of the wild duck and widgeon, as they rose in hundreds from the waters of “Tom Thumb's Lagoon,” about two miles from the town; the shrill scream of the heron, and the rough trumpet of the pelican busily fishing in the shallows.

February 3d.—Having hired the hack carriage of Wollongong, we made a trip this day to Lake Illawarra —an immense salt estuary, about seven miles distant. Our route led us through a line of country not only picturesque by nature but charmingly embellished—(for after all, “nature unadorned” is but a naked savage)—by the presence and improvements of man. Right and left were proofs of successful agriculture, very rare in this most pastoral of countries. Handsome and solid houses, with spacious pleasure-grounds; snug homesteads, flanked by a regiment of ricks housed in with bark roofs; neat little dairy-farms, with all their picturesque appurtenances; modest slab huts, embowered in vines and woodbines and climbing roses; blooming orchards of peaches and apricots; long and busy ranges of bee-hives—some of them fixed in the


  ― 61 ―
upper windows of two-storied houses; yellow stubble-fields, plots of green and waving maize, and rich meadows in which, in spite of the season's drought, the fat cattle stood up to their dewlaps in clover! There was the humble hedge-school—or rather bush-school, for there is hardly a mile of hedge in Australia—and a crowd of flaxen and Saxon children rushing from its porch in frantic glee; and, what I do not remember seeing elsewhere in this colony, jolly rustic pairs trotting to market on one horse, the rosy wife seated behind her lord on the old-fashioned pillion—time-honoured mode of family locomotion!—mode that has brought home from the “flaunting town” many a gudeman with sober head, whole limbs, and full pocket, who without the guardianship of his thrifty dame would have returned drunk as an owl, penniless as a poet, and bruised and battered like “the man wot won the fight!” Many of these cozy-looking Darbys and Joans were mounted on rough, round-ribbed cart mares, with skittish little foals trotting and whinnying at their heels. These were cheering sights in a strange land, generative of pleasant Home thoughts. The wretched shieling of poor Paddy, with his dudeen, his caubeen, his piggeen —his “large family of small children,” his dirt and destitution, and withal his merriment that went to the heart; and the deserted clearing of the improvident retired soldier, were subjects for rumination less agreeable.

Of the vast numbers of small grants of land made to


  ― 62 ―
old soldier settlers during the government of Sir Richard Bourke, I believe there is in the district of Illawarra only one instance of the grantee retaining and residing on his allotment. Unaccustomed to business habits, and unwilling to quit town for country, many of them would have sold their land in Sydney without ever setting eyes upon it, but for a regulation which enforced a certain term of residence. As it was, the solid acres were quickly converted into liquid ruin. The attempt to make the soldier-colonist a landed proprietor succeeded no better than the attempt to make him a capitalist by commuting his pension. These children in arms—“heroes with the bayonet, dastards with the spade”note—deprived of the dry nursing of their officers and noncommissioned officers, have almost uniformly proved incapable of their own guardianship; and, had the demand for unskilled labour been less urgent, many of them must unquestionably have died of starvation as a consequence of their much craved release from the service. To such straits were reduced some of these crippled veterans who had sold their pensions for a sum of ready money and squandered the latter, and had bartered their land for a gallon or two of rum, that the late Lieut.-General commanding in these colonies obtained from the Home authorities a “compassionate allowance” of 4½d. a day for the most destitute among them,—a small sum for food, raiment, and lodging;


  ― 63 ―
but, in a country where a poor man may get his pound of meat for a penny, a sum eagerly sought for by the really starving.

Just after my return to Sydney from Illawarra, I became acquainted with a singular pair of old soldiers, well known by some persons in Sydney, and in receipt of this charitable allowance. Living together in a rocky cave on the shore of Double Bay—one of the romantic coves of Port Jackson, about two miles from Darling-hurst—they eked out a wretched livelihood by making and selling besoms. They were known respectively by the war-names of Waterloo and Albuera; no one cared about the real names of the poor old fellows. They were inseparable. They worked together, fed together, slept together, walked together to Sydney to sell their brooms, got drunk together almost daily, and together staggered home to their habitation in the rock—which by saving them lodging money, afforded them each no less than three-and-sixpence a week for extra drink! Waterloo had served in the Grenadier Guards, Albuera in the 57th regiment; the former a fine tall old man, the latter a regular little bandy-legged rear-ranker. Each was aged about seventy; each was invariably accompanied by a well-fed cur-dog, which trotted at his heels. Inseparable, and perhaps truly attached as were this “par nobile fratrum,” they were not always on the best of terms. It was amusing to encourage one to talk of the other in his absence. Albuera professed the greatest regard for Waterloo:—




  ― 64 ―

“Oh, yes, your honour,” said he to a friend of mine who patronised the poor old soldiers, and was talking with him, “Oh, yes, we are the best of friends and comrades, but that Waterloo—you wouldn't think it, may be—that Waterloo is the proudest man I ever knew.”

“Proud!” demanded his colloquist, “how is that?”

“Why he's proud because he was a guardsman, and I was only in the line,—that's why he's proud. Lord bless you, sometimes he would not speak to me for a week together—that he wouldn't.”

Thus it seems pride may live in a cave, dress in rags, accept a “compassionate allowance” of 4½d. per diem, and make besoms!

One evening I perceived old Waterloo slowly passing my house towards his own abode. He was, contrary to custom, solus and sober, and the two dogs jogged dolefully after him. I guessed at once what had happened. Albuera was dead. Pathos is sometimes composed of strange materials; and to me there was something really pathetic in the mere spectacle of those two dogs, abject mongrels as they were, following that wretched white-headed and feeble old man to his solitary and surf-beaten retreat. A few days afterwards the old Grenadier gave the following description of his comrade's last hours and character:—

“On Friday, howsomever, he was took wus. I got a cab and sent him to the Infirmary. He died on the road. Next morning I went down to the Infirmary, and gave in his effects—an old pair of trowsers, not much


  ― 65 ―
good, and a quart pot. That's his tomahawk, Sir, for cutting the broom; it's a better one than mine. It's all that's left to me of poor old Albuera! Well, Sir,” continued Waterloo—shaking his head meditatively, as if recalling to mind the many virtues of his deceased comrade—“Well, Sir, he was, he was the … but he's gone!. … Ah! well, he was the foul-mouthisest old blackguard that ever I saw—that he was!” And the old soldier seemed relieved by this tribute to his departed friend and comrade.

Some time later in the year, I rode out with my wife to pay a visit to the now lonely veteran, and had some difficulty in finding his retreat, which is situated in an unfrequented spot, cut off from the high road to the South Head by a thick wood. The “twa dogs” rushing out to bay at the intruders, discovered its locality; and, as we rode up, the tall, thin figure of the old Grenadier appeared upon a rocky point, his tattered garments flying in the wind as he stood up at the mouth of his cave, shading his eyes with his hand. His bare head was covered with curly snow-white hair, thick as in youth. His long arms, burnt black by the sun, looked like dry oaken sticks through his ragged shirt-sleeves. The old man was sober, and was about to cook his supper over a little fire of sticks, under the shelving rock that “served him for parlour and kitchen and hall.” We talked a good deal about the officers of his old corps. I saw that he did not recognise me in plain clothes. In course of conversation, I told him that his


  ― 66 ―
former captain, Lieut.-Colonel * * *, had retired from the army, and taken holy orders. Upon this the old Guardsman came a step nearer, and, laying his withered brown hand on my knee, as I sat on horseback, said, in a tone of instruction not a little edifying,

“No, Sir,—I beg your pardon, Sir,—but that couldn't be. No one after being a soldier would go for to be a parson; not that it's no ways disgraceful,—I wouldn't say that it is,—but you see, Sir——oh! no, damme, that couldn't be, no how!” And he looked at me with a grim smile of contemptuous unbelief.

It was clear that the retired Household Brigade-man was every bit as “proud” as his defunct comrade had asserted him to be! I asked him what made him come to this country. “Oh! you see, I did not know when I was well off. I had twelve shillings a-week, my pension, and the rent of two small cottages. I had a sister at Manchester, well to do in the world, owner of five or six good houses. Says she to me,—‘I've room for you, Joe;—there's tea of a-morning, and coffee of an evening for you if you'll stay with me. You need not go and spend your money in a public-house; for I've beer, strong and small, in my cellar for you, and a hearty welcome.’ But, as I said before, I did not know when I was well off.”

I was not without hopes that the loss of his boon companion might have reformed the old man's habits. Alas! the very next day, returning from my evening's ride, I met him, not drunk, but worse,—suffering under


  ― 67 ―
all the mental and muscular flaccidity of returning sobriety,—the liquor dying in him, as it is called. His brooms were sold, his money spent, his square bottle of strong waters empty! The wretched old sot felt keenly the misery of his predicament. The prospect of his solitary “cave,

“By the sad sea wave,”

and a night of spirituous destitution was too much for his manhood; and he wept! The hardy old troglodyte had not slept under a roof for seven years. He survived his comrade longer than I expected; for he was still alive, although much broken, when I left the colony in 1851.

The beneficent project of Government to create a large community of small freeholders in Illawarra does not appear to have met with much more success when exercised in favour of civil, than it did in the cases of military settlers. They could not compete in the markets with more moneyed neighbours. The great properties swallowed up the little ones by degrees; and the poor man who had cherished the laudable ambition of becoming a cultivator of his own acres, and, perhaps, an employer of labour, was compelled, after all, to work for hire himself. It is a trite truth, that if the earth's surface were equally apportioned to all, it would soon be again accumulated into the hands of the few. Communism is, indeed, a vain dream! In Illawarra, as elsewhere in this colony, it is usual for the poorer class of settlers to take portions of wild land—twenty or thirty acres, perhaps—on what is called a clearing lease,


  ― 68 ―
from the larger proprietors. The tenant builds his log or bark hut, sets to work with his axe and saw on the forest; fences, cultivates and improves, and holds possession, rent free, for six years; at the expiration of which term, he is expected to commence paying rent or to vacate his lot. Some of the great landowners have scores of tenants on this plan.

At the instance of our intelligent driver we went a short distance up the avenue of a wealthy resident on the road-side, for the purpose of seeing a curiosity in vegetation, and were well repaid for our trespass.

On the banks of a little fresh-water stream, over which the approach to the house leaps by a rustic bridge, there grows a cluster of the finest cabbage-palms in the country, eighty or a hundred feet high perhaps; and singular and beautiful to behold, the entire columns as well as the palmated capitals of these graceful trees were clothed with a luxuriant large-leafed creeper, so that the original tree itself was only to be guessed at by its general form.

Thousands of the Bell-bird were sounding their tinkling notes among the thick myrtle-like shrubs on the brook-side, and flocks of the large white cockatoo screamed overhead among the huge gum-trees. The former bird, which generally contrives to be invisible, is not much larger than a titmouse, and of a greenish colour. Strange, that so small an organ can produce so powerful a note, clear and metallic as that of a silver bell. I got a good specimen of this bird; but failed with the cockatoos, although firing with the longest range cartridge—


  ― 69 ―
so lofty were the trees these wary creatures selected for their perch.

At one passage of the high road to Lake Illawarra, stands a most remarkable fig-tree, well known in the vicinity for its gigantic growth. It must be fifty feet in girth, and at least one hundred feet in height before the branches divaricate. Notwithstanding its great age, the foliage is most abundant and glossy; and at this season the branches are loaded with the small bastard fig so prized by the wild pigeons. Yet I was told that this splendid tree, like most if not all of its fellows, is but a parasite after all. A seed dropped by a bird on the stem of some forest tree—the gum perhaps—germinates, and in process of time the lodger entirely obliterates its protector.

Close to this fig-tree there is a tolerably fine specimen of the Urtica gigas, or stinging-nettle-tree, the first we had seen. It may be forty feet high and the stem nine or ten feet round. A botanical gentleman of my acquaintance told me that he had measured one more than thirty feet in circumference. The sting is so painful as to paralyse a limb for a time, as may well be imagined if its venom be proportionate to its bulk. The spiculæ on the leaf, which is as large as that of the dock, look like so many shining “silver-steel” needles.

On reaching the Lake we bivouacked for an hour or two during the heat of the day on the verge of a fine grove near its shore, embowered among the dark foliage of myrtaceous trees mingled with a few small cedars,


  ― 70 ―
and looking out upon the paddocks of a considerable farm. If we were not merry over our rural repast, it was not for want of a jovial example; for a large flock of the Laughing Jackass, obstinately hanging about our resting-place, kept up an unceasing and stunning guffaw. Situated as we were, the gloomiest of ascetics could hardly have maintained his gravity. Elsewhere I have made a poor attempt to describe the vocal peculiarities of this eccentric woodpecker. On the present occasion there could be no doubt as to the personality of their jollity, for ten or twelve of these scoffers sat around us on different trees, with their ungainly large heads and wide mouths pointedly converging towards our party. “Il rit bien qui rit le dernier!” muttered I as, my self-esteem becoming more and more irritated, my finger sought the trigger of my gun. But I did not want a specimen; and my fair spouse pleading for the feathered humourists, the charges were reserved for some bronze-winged pigeons—a bird culinarily useful—several of which were flushed by our carriage as we returned through a line of slip-rails across a roughly cultivated tract towards the high road.

In the grove where we rested there were, as I have said, a few single trees of the red cedar—the great succedaneum for mahogany in New South Wales—for the trade in which this district was once famous. There are now, I fancy, no really fine cedars within reach of the chance tourist. They have long ago been cut down and sawn


  ― 71 ―
up for Sydney furniture. An old sawyer told me that he did not know where he could put his hand upon “a good fall of cedar” hereabouts; but that if I did not mind a rough walk up the mountain he could show me one or two “pretty fair sticks;” and that these would have been felled, pitted, sawn, and sent home to the upholsterers years back, but for their being “bad to get” —that is, growing in some inaccessible gully—where, indeed, the tree might be cut down, but whence it would be as impossible to move it, as it unfortunately was, in my time, to bring to a market the magnificent pine timber of the Hymalaias. The lumberers of America and northern Europe have in winter no small advantage over the woodmen of Australia and other hot countries; for the snow affords a road where no possibility of transport exists in summer, and where the timber-sled, with its ponderous log, runs glibly down to the creek to be rafted and floated to the mill, wherein it is destined to be “chawed up” by the inexorable teeth of the circular saw.

North of Sydney, it is said that cedar is still plentiful —if not on the banks of rivers and on alluvial flats, at least in the mountain ravines not so accessible to the trade.

Lake Illawarra appears to be about twenty miles in circumference. Its shores are flat and ugly; but there are sprinkled over its expanse many pretty islets, covered with noble timber, which owes its exemption from the axe—as England does her safety from her many enemies


  ― 72 ―
and enviers—to its insular position. The distant range of the Bong-Bong mountains affords a fine background to a landscape which, but for the wide sheet of inland water, would not be particularly engaging. Wherever there is a salt-marsh there are dead trees, and large tracks round this lagoon are thus deformed.

The little town of Dapto was visible from the hill where we diverged from the high road, but we had not time to visit it.

No lady, I think, ever travelled over rougher tracks than were jumbled over by us this day; for the greater part of our route lay through bush-roads winding from one settler's homestead to another and thickly set with stumps, through fields full of felled timber all on a blaze to destroy it, through scores of slip-rails—the primitive gate of Australia—and along the bush-ranges, where the track was often invisible. Yet we got home to our comfortable inn with whole bones, springs, and wheels,—pleased with our excursion, and gradually falling very much in love with Illawarra.

February 6th.—A ride to Mount Keera, one of the lions of Wollongong. Just at the foot of the mountain, on the estate of a gentleman, who, it is to be hoped, will make the best of his good luck, a fine vein of coal has been discovered; indeed it discovers itself, for portions of the lode may be seen cropping out in the middle of the road which crosses the mountain. Here it has the appearance of anthracite or Kilkenny coal, but I believe


  ― 73 ―
where the works are to be opened it is of superior quality. It is supposed to be the southern rim of a great coal basin, the northern rim of which appears above the surface about the same distance north of Sydney, at Newcastle, where it has long been worked by the Australian Company. Hereabouts I found many curious specimens of petrifaction—one especially, a section of a palm-tree with its annulated bark, rayed grain, and curled roots, so little changed in appearance by Nature's chemistry, that its weight alone convinced one that it was a block of stone. The beach near the town is thickly strewed with pebbles of petrified wood, some of them formed out of burnt trees—the white and black cinders, and the charred vein of the timber, quite as fresh as if just out of the fire. Of course the action of the tides has given these atoms their present rounded shape. I rode for some distance up the mountain in order to examine the magnificent trees clothing its flanks, and to obtain a good bird's-eye view of the district; and soon found what I sought. The road swept round the back of a small clearing, where a modest hut, covered with vines and pumpkins, stood in the midst of its “rood of ground,” in which was a thriving potato-patch and a clump of standard peach-trees in full blossom. This tranquil little domain was seated, as it were, in the lap of the mountain, surrounded on three sides by acclivities, clothed with such gigantic trees as to keep out the light and sight of the heavens, except such as were caught


  ― 74 ―
from a triangular slice of the sky directly in front. The view plunged hence upon the wide and fertile plain below. The prospect was bounded on the right by the long wall-like range of the Bong-Bong hills trending away to the southward, and fencing out this favoured province from the interior country; on the left by the Pacific—the surf-beaten group of the Five Islands breaking the dull uniformity of the coast line. Amongst the timber growing on the hill-sides were box-trees of immense size, fine specimens of the cabbage palms, of which there are two distinct kinds, of the tree fern, the grass tree, and of a sort of date. The hybiscus, attaining a height of twenty or thirty feet, was in full flower; bignonias clomb from branch to branch, and many other fine creeping plants, among which was one with a leaf and a bud—for the flower had not yet opened—like a camellia —whose delicious perfume filled the air around. Here and there, surrounded by the wrecks of smaller trees, crushed in their fall, lay huge logs of the gum or ironbark, some sawn through into lengths, but apparently abandoned by the woodman in despair of removing such unwieldy masses, or because they were rotten at the heart.

In my exploration of the bush, I was more than once only saved by the sagacity of my mare from being stung by the giant nettle—which she always avoided with peculiar care.

The only living creatures I met with on the mountain


  ― 75 ―
were a rustic couple on horseback, descending from the opposite side after a long journey. Both riders and beasts had suffered much from the heat of the sun—which was indeed intense—and from thirst. I believe the fair dame was saved from fainting by a timely sip from my sherry-flask. As for her partner, he turned it up as though he were taking a solar observation; and, not having the heart to cry halt! I had to carry home what I have heard an old toper characterise as the most despicable thing in the world next to an empty purse—namely, an empty bottle. This worthy and very thirsty pair had emigrated from England seven years before, and were doing well, they said, in a small farm. This year they were out of pocket, owing to the excessive drought. Indeed the country is dreadfully burnt up—the cattle dying in great numbers from want of water and scantiness of herbage, even in this district, less than any other vulnerable in these points. In the upland pastures it has been found necessary to cut down the growing maize crops for forage. I do not know whether I have mentioned the fact before, but the English farmer and horse-owner will be surprised to hear that maize, or Indian corn, is the “feed,” in lieu of oats, and the oat itself is sown, grown, and cut down green in New South Wales, in order to make “hay” for the horses. Oats in the grain, for those who fancy the maize too heating, may be got reasonably enough from Van Diemen's Land.




  ― 76 ―

Our time being limited, we had none to visit the southern division of the district, where are to be seen some of the finest scenery, rarest natural curiosities, and best estates of Illawarra. On the day preceding the termination of our sojourn at this little Brighton of New South Wales, the town was enlivened by an event of considerable local importance, namely, the annual exhibition of the Illawarra Agricultural Society. All the beauty and fashion of the county attended. Among the more interesting products of the soil there were not wanting a few particularly fine looking “currency lasses;” and there were plenty of long-legged, cabbage-hatted, tweed-coated sons of the same soil, much more worthy of the name of corn-stalks than the undersized native-born denizens of the Sydney streets and grog-shops. The show of vegetables was remarkably good—as good as any in the world probably; and the flowers, although less remarkable, evinced a creditable desire on the part of the settlers to embellish their dwellings; for a well tended flower-garden is one of the surest, and certainly a very pleasant indication of competence, leisure, and taste.

The Market-green just opposite our inn was allotted for the exhibition of live stock, amongst which were some well-bred cattle of the Durham race, and more than one “good cut of a horse.” Among the rest, was “Diamond” by “Cantator,” as handsome a steed “as one could wish to throw one's eye or one's leg over”—for


  ― 77 ―
such was the remark of an old loiterer, who it was easy to see had lived among horses all his life.

“Sweet little mare of yours, Sir, in the stable there. Do you know how she was bred?”

“No,” said I, “she is not my property, only lent to me by”—

“I know all about her,” interrupted he triumphantly. “I can show you a picture of her dam and her dam's master, Sir!” And, as we were going the same way, he pointed out to me a sign over a large inn, representing Governor Sir Richard Bourke mounted, in full uniform, on a chestnut charger. “Do you see the white hindfoot? but she was an English imported huntress, twice the strength of her filly.”

All this of course I thought was what is called at sea a “yarn;” but it was all true, for “Nelly” had been lent me by a son-in-law of Sir Richard's, and he confirmed the old “breaker's” story when I mentioned it to him.

The little quiet village hotel was converted for the nonce into a noisy tavern, reeking with spirits, beer, and tobacco. I dare say our excellent host put more money into his pocket this day by bar-custom alone, than accrued to him from our fortnight's patronage. It was very thirsty weather—very sultry, very dusty—some excuse for profuse ingurgitation of malt liquors, ginger beer, &c.; none for the really frightful consumption of ardent spirits by the men, young and old, and for the


  ― 78 ―
consequent rapidity with which many of the lords of the creation reduced themselves to the level—infinitely below the level—of the beasts they came to exhibit and inspect, to buy and to sell. I have descanted elsewhere upon the wild drinking bouts of bushmen, and of the sums squandered therein.

The persons assembled here had probably no accumulated wages to veer away upon, but, in default of this, every bargain, every meeting, greeting, and parting was solemnized by liberal libations; not, as will be readily believed, poured out upon the dusty earth in honour of the gods, but down throats that must have had all the dust in them laid long before. The usually cold and undemonstrative Englishman warmed up as ale or rum dictated. They shook hands, laughed; d——d each other's old eyes and limbs, (the acmé of British and brutish cordiality;) and slapped on the back and “treated” each other over and over again. Paddy was himself, undiluted by expatriation—what more need be said, when a fair was going on? Even Sandy's habitual caution was at fault—at least in one instance; for a tall, rawboned lowland gardener, at least fifty years old, forced a quarrel upon a strapping young Swedish sailor, whose torn shirt and fiery eye betokened previous cuffs and combats; and the result was, that the Caledonian got well thrashed, and was carried off by his one-eyed wife.

Of the business transactions which came under my notice, take the following instance:—A chestnut colt was


  ― 79 ―
the object; two countrymen the actors. After much chaffering, half-whispered half-aloud, and a good deal of unsteady mutual fondling—for they were both very far gone in what Mrs. Butler calls “a state of how-came-you-so?”—the would-be purchaser muttered a proposal into the bushy whisker of the seller.

“No, I'm blessed if I do!” cried the latter.

“Will you split the difference?” pursued the buyer.

“I will not,” responded the other, “but I'll tell you what I will do. I'll take six pounds down, and drink a sovereign of it now with you, my son!”

Upon this the worthy and ingenious couple vehemently shook hands, and dived together head-foremost into the bar.

At different periods of the day their progressive career was forced upon my notice. When they parted at dusk it was evident that the liberal seller had considerably more than fulfilled his treaty and his treat. The purchaser, after sundry attempts at mounting his new acquisition, which stood as steady as an iron-bark fence —attempts which reminded one of “vaulting ambition,” and certain equestrian feats at Astley's—at length got safely away. His disconsolate friend kissed his hand several times to him as he departed; and after looking around with a maudlin and bewildered air, laid himself down by the rails and fell fast asleep.

At night the Market-square looked like a field of battle; but it is only fair to the conservators of the


  ― 80 ―
public peace of Wollongong to record the fact, that before we retired to our couches there was a general collection of the killed and wounded—and I may add prisoners—by the constabulary, under the orders of an important functionary in a blue coat and gilt buttons, black velvet vest, red face, and black and tan terrier. The last objects having reference to the Illawarra Agricultural meeting that my eyes closed upon were a brace of disorderlies in handcuffs meandering under escort to the lock-up; and an utterly insensible seaman, proceeding in a wheelbarrow to join his vessel—and ours—in the harbour.

On the morning of the 9th of February, in the midst of a thick fog, we once more entered Port Jackson, and shortly afterwards our steamer ran, or rather walked—for she could make no running—plump upon a rock off Bradley's Head—a promontory half way up the harbour. Had the vessel possessed more than half-a-dozen donkey power, she must have left her—if not our—bones there. As it was, the shock was but small, although the consequent confusion was great. There was some talk of lightening the vessel; and, my mare and another alongside of her—the only horses on board—becoming alarmed, some considerate persons proposed throwing them overboard. I moved as an amendment that the calves, pigs, butter tubs, trusses of hay and cabbage-tree leaves, with other provincial products, should first be got rid of—a motion which at least induced the withdrawal


  ― 81 ―
of the original resolution. Fortunately no removal of cargo was requisite. A kedge was sent out and hawled upon; and after twenty minutes' see-sawing upon the reef—far from the pleasant game it is on dry land—she was got off with little or no damage, and soon after discharged ourselves and chattels in Darling Harbour.




  ― 82 ―

Chapter III.

EMIGRATION — FOOD AND LABOUR — EMIGRATION AS IT WAS — AN EMIGRANT IN 1837 — EMIGRATION AS IT IS—AN EMIGRANT IN 1850—CASTAWAYS—IRISH ORPHAN GIRLS, PRO AND CON.—TWO HUNDRED WIVES APPLIED FOR—AN ITINERANT MATCH-MAKER WANTED—WAGES HERE AND THERE—A WORD TO THE POORER, A WORD TO THE RICHER, EMIGRANT—AUSTRALIA AS A HOME.

IT is not surprising that emigration forms among the colonists of this country a prominent topic of thought, of conversation, writing, and speculation. It is nothing short of an infusion of life-blood they are canvassing. On the other hand, the most indifferent reader can scarcely take up an English newspaper or periodical without being struck with proof after proof of the “plethora of humanity” with which our overcrowded islands are bursting. There is harmony in the cry from the uttermost parts of the earth:—“Bring us your strong arms and your willing hearts, your skill, your courage, and your thrift; your notable dames, your blooming maids, your growing children. We have fertile lands, we have beef and mutton ‘galore;’ send us hands to till our soil, mouths to eat our surplus!” And Britain's


  ― 83 ―
deep voice booms across the deep she rules—“Give us a home; give us breathing-room; give us food and peace for our starving sons and daughters!” Expatriation or starvation is the alternative on one side, increase of population or ruin on the other. Pity it is that so tardy has been the supply, to these colonies at least, that many hundreds of thousands of good colonists have meanwhile carried their industry and their savings to enrich a foreign country—possibly to aggrandise a hostile power. Where the emigration to Australia may be told by tens, that to the United States must be counted by thousands.note

But quality as well as quantity in the matter of emigration is very reasonably looked for by the recipient colony. New South Wales would bear just now an immense influx of mere muscle, and would repay honest industry with liberal remuneration; but she cannot afford to be swamped with pauperism and crime. Her moral complexion is not so spotless as to defy taint from an indiscriminate introduction of the budding


  ― 84 ―
thieves, rising rogues, and ragged parent-deserted juveniles, who, to the tune of 30,000, are said to infest the lanes and alleys of London. She does not offer herself as a refuge for runaway apprentices, thimble-riggers, poachers, and prostitutes; nor for the sturdy tramps and vagabonds now occupying in workhouses the room and devouring the meal which should be devoted to the honest but destitute labourer, the disappointed but really earnest applicant for work. Nor does this colony desire to have “its moral atmosphere Tipperaryfied” by idle and disaffected Irish, nor to be overrun by English spies and “approvers,” or chartist and socialist outcasts. When she exclaims, “Send us your poor—we will feed and clothe them, your orphans—we will adopt them;” she does not advertise for the old, infirm, and sickly, nor for the “kids forlorn” of the rascals, hanged and unhanged, of England's Alsatias. Enterprise and dexterity are, undoubtedly, valuable qualities in one who proposes to strike out for himself a new existence in a new and rough country; but the skill and nerve—not to mention the frankness—of the promising youngster who boasted of having picked his mother's pocket while both were spectators at his father's execution, are not precisely those calculated to adorn or profit a rising community. The vaurien of London will be equally worth nothing in Sydney. The drone and the voluptuary had better stay at home. The able and sober mechanic and labourer, whose strength and skill are a drug in England, will receive their highest value here. “The colonies


  ― 85 ―
want men who will go thither to live there, to work there, and to die there,—to find a home there for themselves and children. Such men may sail with confidence, they will not be disappointed.”note

The process of emigration was formerly—as compared with its present gradual perfection—a very blind-hooky kind of game. A poor devil finding himself miserable and starving at home, made interest to be sent out to “the Plantations;” or was sent out pell-mell by some landlord or parochial authority, desiring to be rid of a nuisance. He departed in worse than ignorance as to the land of his pilgrimage; for, if he made inquiries at all, he was sure to obtain false or exaggerated information. He performed the voyage in misery, dirt, and perhaps disease, in an ill-found, slow, and unsafe vessel. On arrival in a country utterly strange to him, he found few ready to help or advise; very many prompt to deceive and swindle him. If possessed of a little ready money, while loitering about in puzzled attempts to discover the best way of laying it out, the temptations of a town, after the long tedium of a sea voyage, in a few days or weeks saved him all further trouble as to its investment. He solaced himself, however, with the reflection that he had a strong pair of hands, and he had been assured in England that he could always earn five shillings a-day as a labourer or shepherd. Nevertheless, if New South Wales happened to have been the country of his adoption,


  ― 86 ―
he might still be disappointed, for he would have found the labour market in possession of thousands of assigned convicts, whose services being repaid only by food and raiment, were preferred to those of emigrant servants who expected good wages.

Often, in different dependencies of Great Britain, have I encountered some poor illiterate helpless creature, wandering bewildered, like a masterless dog, down the strange street of a strange town; looking vacantly in the faces of the busy passengers, and, in the depth of his tribulation, wishing himself safe back in his native land, with all its starvation and wretchedness, so he could be among familiar faces and familiar objects.

I well remember being accosted one day, in a Canadian town, by a ragged, red-headed, wretched-looking but able-bodied Irishman, who begged my Honour to tell him where the “Immigrant's office” might be. I pointed in silence to these very two words, in huge black letters over a door across the street. But he was “no scollard,” and though the inscription was “jist forninst his nose, sure enough,” it conveyed to him no information. He had been five or six days in the town, “and bad luck to him if he could hit upon the place at all at all.”

“Why did you not use your tongue, my lad?” said I. “Your countrymen are not generally very bashful!”

He had used it, it appeared, frequently; and had uniformly been carried into the nearest tavern, where the kind stranger he had questioned promised to tell him all about it over a quartern of whisky; “and by the hookey,


  ― 87 ―
one and all left me to pay the piper, and to get out as I could!” “Sorrow a rap” had he got of all his savings, barring a five dollar note, which, on presenting it for change, he would probably have found to be no better than one of those illusory specimens of paper currency known as “shin plaisters.”

Three or four months after this interview, I recognised my friend in an American steam-boat, bound from Buffalo up the Lakes. He had entered the service of an American farmer, who resided in one of the Atlantic states, but who was travelling “west” to look for land whereon to locate his eldest son. Paddy pointed out his master, whose physical structure suggested to my mind ideas of a sturdy English yeoman, rather than a Yankee grazier. Nor was I wrong. The farmer informed me that he had been for many years a tenant of a Cambridgeshire baronet, of whom he rented 300 acres; that, finding his family and the difficulty of meeting his rent yearly increasing, he had emigrated to Canada; but, solely because the process of buying land in the British colony was too dilatory for his active and decisive humour, he “up stick and crossed the border” to the United States. He had been seven years there, was a naturalized American, had bought up for next to nothing the impoverished land of his neighbours, who, knowing little of the arcana of farming, had gone further west in search of “fresh diggins;” and, from his skill in the rotation of crops, and by the application of restoratives to the exhausted soil, he could now undersell every competitor in the surrounding markets, making


  ― 88 ―
a handsome profit. He had several sons, each of whom, before they left home, had been instructed in some useful trade; and two or three well-grown daughters, adepts at the churn and cheese-press, as well as the needle and spindle. Such is a family group fit not only for emigration, but for its higher aim—colonization.

Truly it is to the settler in a new land that a numerous and well-disciplined family is like “the arrows in the hand of the giant.” With his quiver full of them he may drive the enemy—Want and Care—from his gate! In the crowded Old World, where consumption presses too hard on produce, a father's joy at the annual sprouting of an olive-branch on the family tree may possibly have some alloy; but when a man sets himself down, axe in hand, before the primeval bush of Australia, to carve out for himself a home—the more chopping boys his wife brings him the better!

Compared with the haphazard system of former days, the act of emigration is now made easy indeed. At Home, societies for its promotion multiply in all directions. Deputies therefrom distribute information, not always very correct, through rural districts and manufacturing towns. Lecturers hold forth for pure unpaid philanthropy. Lords and Commons speechify and agitate. Clergymen, magistrates, poor-law commissioners, parish authorities, mayors and aldermen, and ratepayers in general,—all preach “systematic emigragration.” Tories and radicals, protectionists and freetraders, join in the propagandism of popular depletion.


  ― 89 ―
Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, penny journals, lend their aid to dispel ignorance on this absorbing theme. Union workhouses, penitentiaries, foundling hospitals, ragged schools, asylums, refuges, all are ready and willing—who shall blame them?—to disgorge their contents upon the dependencies of the Crown.

The aspirant for emigration, according to the improved system, places himself in the hands of the Colonization Society. He and his family are “told off” to a vessel. If any one be curious as to the kind of ship provided, let him refer to a description in the John Bull newspaper, 21st October, 1848, of the Harbinger, one of four vessels then lying in Plymouth Sound. Such a craft as this makes the passage to Sydney in 100 days; to Adelaide or Port Phillip ten days quicker. On its arrival, a Government notice is issued, giving the number, sex, and callings of the immigrants, whether married or single; and a day and hour are appointed for the hiring of them. The single females are lodged, boarded, and looked after at the Immigration Dépôt,—a walled barrack, where they can be engaged by persons known by the agent to be respectable. In short, the emigrant is taken charge of by competent authority from the moment he or she announces in England a desire to become one, and is not abandoned until fairly established in the new country.

Having admitted, a few pages back, an account, taken from an old diary, of an Hibernian emigrant encountered in America about 1837, I now take leave


  ― 90 ―
to insert an extract from my Journal of 1st December, 1850, giving a short notice of a newly-arrived Irish emigrant whom I met and conversed with on that day near Sydney.

Riding on a smoking hot afternoon (for at 6 P.M. it was 98° in the shade) from the Heads towards the town, I perceived a young man stepping briskly across a ferny paddock near Rose Bay, and, touching lightly the top rail of the fence, vault into the road in a very un-currency style. “You are from the Old Country,” said I, as I overtook him. He was an Irishman, true enough; and, being a good-natured, communicative fellow, he walked with me for more than two miles, telling me about himself, and asking questions about the colony. He had come out a free emigrant “on” the Kate six weeks ago; and the day after landing, reading an advertisement in the paper “for an active young man, willing to make himself generally useful,” he had taken service “with the missis over yonder,”—pointing to a substantial residence. He was tired of it, and was leaving, and had not yet got another place. The young master was the cause, I found,—“a strip of a lad, fourteen or fifteen may be. Oh! bedad, his word's law in that house!” He got 15s. a-week, a hut to himself, fire, candles, and milk. In Ireland he could not earn 6s. a-week certain, and had to find himself in everything. Among the various duties expected of the “generally useful” young man in this establishment, he had to take care of a gig and a horse, and to clean and take charge of a boat.


  ― 91 ―
“I'd be baling out the boat, may be, at one o'clock, and at two I'd have to put the gig on the horse”—(for such was his expression)—“to bring the young master into town, and again at eleven o'clock at night I'd have to fetch him home!” Paddy could not stand the late hours, so he vacated this well-paid situation.

He then descanted on the subjects of the climate and of drinking. It was a fine country for a poor boy to come to. He did not mind the heat; “but oh, my darlin'! last Wednesday night wid the hot wind! I'd heard of it before! I thought I'd be smothered. Murther! says I; if this is what it is by night, what 'll it be by day?” “Drinking,” he said, “is a fine thing if a man could take enough to do him good, and no more. It's the rune of many a man; but it will never take the feather out of my cap, for the pledge is on me these twelve months; and I trust in the Lord I may never taste the taste of spurts again!”

The good fellow was shocked at the manner in which the horses of this country were treated by their riders,—“galloping for the bare life along the hard roads.” I tried to persuade him to leave Sydney and go up the country, where I would get him employment. He seemed much tickled by my account of the life of the provinces, and above all of the Saturday serving out of rations for the week to the labourers,—“the mate, and the tay, and the like.”—“But the snakes, my darlin', the snakes!” he continued; and having once stumbled on this unlucky subject, he gave up all idea of rural


  ― 92 ―
employment! He told me he had saved at his last situation ten shillings a-week! He got as good a one in a few days—and no young master, I am glad to be able to add.

By some mismanagement or mischance emigration to this country has never yet been steadily and uniformly maintained. Conducted by fits and starts, no continuous stream has been kept up. The clamour for workmen which rung in my ears during the first year of my residence arose with nearly equal earnestness in my last. Wages were always excessive. They fluctuated, but never descended on the scale to a degree fair upon the employer. Nor has the system, such as it is, been done justice to. Crowds of persons have found their way out at the expense of the emigration funds who ought never to have been assisted—specimens such as I have sketched in speaking of the domestic servants of this colony.

Let me add here another instance or two;—for a good example is better than an essay. In 1849 a wretched helpless-looking lad offered himself to me in the capacity of footman. He had just arrived from London, where he found that he had neither personal length nor breadth, calves, whiskers, or impudence sufficient for West End fiunkeyship. The clergyman of his parish, who ought to have known better, told him he could get 60l. a-year wages in New South Wales. He had married in England a pretty nursery-maid of eighteen, expressly, as he said, for settling in a colony.


  ― 93 ―
She did not like work, he said, but expected to live like a lady. He declined service unless she were permitted to live with him; and so missed the 30l. a-year which, in the dearth of domestic servants, I was prepared to give him. But one of the worst—the cruellest case of emigration at the public cost that ever came under my observation (not excepting a hump-backed fiddler!) was the following. Towards the end of 184—, two young orphan girls, little more than children, daughters of a respectable professional man, came out from England, with strong recommendations from the minister of their parish to the head of the Church in the colony, who bespoke for them the favour of some of the ladies of Sydney. They had no relatives or friends in the country. Their ostensible object was to procure situations as nursery governesses; marriage might possibly have been their real aim. A married gentleman very humanely took them under his roof, and allowed them to live on nearly equal terms with his family until they might be able to provide for themselves. Both were, as I have said, young—one very pretty. It is needless to say that Sydney possesses the same snares and pitfalls for the innocent and inexperienced as other towns containing fifty thousand inhabitants. The elder was for a time—for a time only—permitted to escape. The younger and handsomer soon began to show such levity of manner as to forfeit the protection of her kind patrons; and she shortly afterwards consigned herself to that of a young gentleman of


  ― 94 ―
Sydney. The subsequent downward steps of this unfortunate child can only be predicted. And these were emigrants at the cost of the territorial revenue of the colony! Did the mother country benefit by sending two of her defenceless daughters to almost certain shame and ruin? Did the colony benefit by their coming? … Did the poor young creatures themselves benefit? … I might pile instance upon instance of this nature. But enough has been said to point a moral—perhaps to tend, in a very humble degree, to the prevention of future ill-selected emigration.

A word about the Irish orphan girls, so liberally poured into the colony during the last year or two. Forty thousand pounds' worth of this commodity was imported into New South Wales up to 1850. The public, I think, took more pains to drag to light the defaults of this class than to publish their virtues and to reform their errors. The police reports teemed with instances of their rebellious conduct, as well as of their unfitness for household service. In July, 1850, an hon. member of the Legislature complained that there were at that moment three hundred of them unhired at the Immigrant Dépôt, and maintained at the public expense, —the said maintenance costing, by the way, 3d. a-head per diem. Many of them, doubtless, preferred food and lodging and idleness in that establishment to wages and labour out of doors: as the hackney coach-horse prefers his stand and nose-bag to hard work and whipcord! One young lady was brought before the bench


  ― 95 ―
of magistrates at Paramatta, because she persisted in operating at the wash-tub in patent leather pumps. Another broke her indentures, and demanded to return to the dépôt, because she was not permitted to receive a male friend after hours.

In some cases these poor girls were shamefully treated on board the emigrant vessels. In one ship the surgeon superintendent punished restive conduct in the young women under his charge by making the defaulters parade the quarter-deck or poop dressed in his lower garments: and when questioned by the judge presiding at his trial, whether such procedure was not calculated to hurt the delicacy of the females under his care, he replied that they had not much of that material to injure; and took credit to himself for his newly-invented mode of correction. In another vessel matters were still worse. Several of the young women,—the best looking, of course,—were selected to act as servants to the master and officers. Some were seduced by the ruffians who ought to have protected the fatherless; and one wretched creature died soon after landing, from the effects of having been slung up by the waist to the rigging when far gone in pregnancy, by way of punishment for misconduct.

The matrons were, in some instances, badly selected. One of them, who took service in my family, was somewhat ill-fitted to control two hundred and fifty young girls, of whom she had charge for four months; for she could not control her middle-aged self for a fortnight!


  ― 96 ―
The term orphan was utterly misplaced in many coming out under that designation. Several were in truth quite as well supplied with parents as their neighbours, and had quitted them willingly. Not a few were in the condition of an individual of this class, who, being twitted in the street by “a common scold” with the opprobrious term of poor Irish orphan, exclaimed in her haste—“Horphin! I'm no more horphin than you are. I'm a married woman, and mother of two children!” It is pleasant to be able to add that the majority of the ships were admirably conducted; and that many of these people turned out very well, making valuable domestic servants.

I was particularly struck with the cleanly and decent appearance of these poor girls as a body, in the dépôt, as well as by their marked superiority in good looks over the native born girls of the same order. Why they hung so long on hand, both in the labour and the marriage market, in a country where males so greatly preponderate in the distribution of the sexes, I cannot tell. Perhaps the local authorities did not meet the demand of the distant districts with sufficient promptitude; for in 1850, the public prints contained several requisitions of the following tenour:—

“WIDE BAY AMD BURNETT DISTRICTS.—THE ORPHAN GIRLS.

  “To the Editors of the Sydney Morning Herald.

“GENTLEMEN,—Whilst the Government pretend they do not know what to do with these girls, they entirely neglect the northern and rapidly increasing Wide Bay and Burnett River Districts. On the Burnett,


  ― 97 ―
Severn, Dawson, and Boyne Rivers, there is a large entirely male population; there are not more than six women in the whole district, and those have arrived within the last six months. If a vessel was despatched immediately to Wide Bay with 200 of these girls, I have no hesitation in stating the whole of them would be married in two months.

  “Yours, &c.

   “A BUSHMAN.”

I shall be thought joking, perhaps, when I say that an accredited matchmaker—some staid and influential lady, who would convoy detachments of female immigrants to the rural districts, and interest herself as to their proper establishment in life—would be one of the most useful government officers in the colony. I believe I have heard that the great apostle of emigration, Mrs. Chisholm, did formerly take some steps in this direction. It is needless for me to add a word by way of stimulus to the emigration movement. Philanthropic societies and individuals will do well indeed to direct the course of emigration and to instruct the emigrant; but Competition is the emigrant king. He will send forth his legions to subdue the globe!

I would beg leave to insert here an extract from a statement of wages of immigrants in 1849, compiled by the agent from the reports of the police districts:—

  SYDNEY DISTRICT.

Farm labourers, 18l.; Shepherds, 18l.; Cooks, female, 19l.; Housemaids, 15l.; Nursemaids, 15l.; general house servants, 17l.

  BATHURST DISTRICT.

  Males.

Carpenters, Smiths, Wheelwrights, Masons, and Bricklayers, 40l.; Farm labourers and Shepherds, 22l.

Females about the same as at Sydney.




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  RAYMOND TERRACE DISTRICT.

  Carpenters, &c., 47l.; Farm labourers, 18l.

  BRISBANE DISTRICT.

  Males.

 Carpenters, &c., 60l.; Farm labourers, 20l.; Shepherds, 19l.

  Females.

Cooks, 18l.; Housemaids, 15l.; Laundress, 16l.; General house servants, 20l.

Food and lodging provided by the employers.

This scale is considerably lower than that usually held up for the encouragement of emigration by the Home agents. For myself as a householder, I can answer for it that, during the whole of my residence in the colony, I paid domestic servants much higher, viz. coachman, 30l., cook, 22l. to 26l., nurse, 26l., and so on. The ordinary scale of rations for out-door servants and labourers is, per week, 10 lbs. of meat, 10 lbs. of bread, ¼ lb. of tea, ¾ lb. of sugar. Contrast these handsome wages and diet—handsome when it is taken into consideration that the general run of employers in this country possess perhaps a shilling where the employers in England possess a pound—with the distressing accounts of the wages and diet of some of the agricultural districts of the Old Country; the harrowing tales of the Spital weavers' destitution; of the prices paid to London workpeople by clothiers, contractors, &c.; and though last, not the least painful, of the wretched earnings and sufferings and degradation of the poor needlewomen of the metropolis;—“33,500 women engaged in this one trade, of


  ― 99 ―
whom 28,500 are under twenty years of age; and of these a large portion living, or attempting to live, on sums varying from 4½d. to 2½d. a-day!”note

The correspondent of the Morning Chronicle, on the subject of the state of the poor in London, visits the apartment—the den, rather—of a woman employed in making soldiers' trowsers at 6½d a pair, out of which she paid for thread, for lodging, fire, light, food, and clothing, being able, if in good health, to make two pair in a day of fifteen or sixteen hours. “I may, perhaps,” said she, “chance to get a bit of meat once a week, but that's a God-send!”

A wretched tenant of a garret in Drury Lane says:—“As for sugar, I broke myself off it long ago. I could not afford it. A cup of tea, a piece of bread, and an onion, is generally all I have for my dinner. Sometimes I hav'n't even an onion, and then I sops my bread.”

Among sundry like cases, the same authority gives one which came under his notice in one of the southern counties. A family of seven children and their mother depended upon the man's wages as a labourer. The weekly expenditure, assisted by a few potatoes and an occasional cabbage from a strip of garden, he puts down as follows:—rent, 1s.; tea, 6d.; bacon, 5d.; bread, 5s.; soda, soap, &c. 5d.; fuel, 8d.—total, 8s. Weekly wages 8s.! Not much left for clothing and other luxuries!

An old worn-out Spitalfields weaver calls to his boy


  ― 100 ―
—“Billy, just show the gentleman what beautiful fabrics we are in the habit of producing, and then he shall say whether we ought to be in the filthy state we are. That's for the ladies, to adorn them and make them handsome!” It was, says the writer, an exquisite piece of maroon-coloured velvet, that, amid all the squalor of the place, seemed marvellously beautiful. One shilling and three-pence a yard was all the skilful weaver got for this splendid material. “There are seven of us in this room,” complained the old man, “four on us here in this bed, and the other four on them over there. My brother Tom makes up the other one. There's a nice state, in a Christian land! … As for animal food, why, it's a stranger to us. Once a-week, may be, we gets a taste of it, but that's a hard struggle; and many a family don't get it once a month: a jint we never sees.”

These may be called extreme cases; but the fortunate man who enjoys what may be called full wages at Home, is only half fed and clothed, if he have a numerous family. In England and Ireland the permission to work hard from Monday morning to Saturday night, is a great boon. In Australia, the artisan and labourer has leisure as well as work. Contrast, I repeat, such facts as the above with the preceding statement of Australian wages and rations, and the well-known Australian profusion of human food; add to them the statistical truth that about one-eleventh in England and one-fourth in Ireland of the entire population are receiving parochial relief,


  ― 101 ―
and exhortations to emigrate would appear supererogatory indeed!

Let it not be apprehended that I am about to embark in a series of “Hints for Emigrants.” There have been, and will be, plenty of writers a hundred-fold more able than myself to fulfil that task. That the emigrant, of whatever class, should well weigh the matter before he decides, is merely supposing him a rational being; but I would offer one sentence of advice, perhaps more original, to the poorer order of intended emigrants. Be most circumspect in your inquiries before you commute your Homes for ever. Lay not too implicitly the unction to your soul, that the benevolent association, or the philanthropic individual, that promotes your expatriation, and the generous open-hearted-and-armed colony who invites you, are actuated wholly by a desire for your welfare and benefit. Recollect, that it is the interest of the first to “shovel you out,” and that the second, which welcomes you in order that your presence may bring down the price of labour, is not a whit more disinterested in its object than the well-known placard—“Rubbish may be shot here.” The advocates of emigration, in short, are not, eo facto, the emigrant's best friends. Punch offers the laconic advice to persons about to marry—“Don't!” I would qualify considerably this admonition, in addressing myself to parties about to emigrate, to settle, or to squat—“Don't do either without grave consideration of your own qualifications.”




  ― 102 ―

The foregoing remarks apply chiefly to the poorer, the assisted and the free emigrant. But in the upper and middle orders, the educated classes—(those who inherit the right to maintain themselves by the labour of the intellect, and whom manual toil would ill befit)—all the professions are overstocked. The present generation may possibly, by strenuous jostling in the crowd of competitors, contrive to support themselves and their families without stooping to some less refined occupation; but if the children are to be reared like the parent, what hope can he reasonably have for them, when increased numbers press upon the already overtasked field of educated employment? There will be more lawyers than litigants, more medicos than moribunds, more clericos than churches or church-goers! Many will go downwards, struggling with greater or less vigour, but still go downwards in the stream of life. A few will, of course, rise to the surface by strong volition and intrinsic worth. The very highest classes will scarcely be exempt from the universal pressure. One important and hitherto fertile source of employment for the younger scions of the nobility and gentry of England may fail them ere long. Our colonies are clamorous for a larger share of self-government, and for freer institutions; and those that do not clamour will perhaps have these forced upon them by Home agitation. The dependencies which obtain such institutions—and what one gets another may—will refuse to be saddled with officials from the Mother Country; they will select them from among


  ― 103 ―
the “sons of the soil.” Yet, if colonial patronage is to be colonial property,—if the sprigs of England's aristocracy and squirarchy should be debarred from official employ in the colonies,—they may still colonize and settle in them; and do so advantageously. As I have shrank from offering crude admonition to the humbler orders of emigrating Britons, so shall I abstain from offering a code to their superiors in condition. I will merely hint, that in this colony the mere necessaries of life are so cheap, that a gentleman emigrating with capital—small or large—can well afford to live inoperative for a period sufficient to enable him to look well about him, and in so doing to gain some insight into, if not to go through a regular apprenticeship in the pursuit he may resolve to adopt.

It has often occurred to me that the law of primogeniture in the upper classes has been instrumental in no small degree in making Englishmen the best—the only—colonists in the world. The landed, and the bulk of the funded, property of a family very generally go to the eldest son. What better for one or two of the cadets to do with their two, four, six, or even ten thousand pounds—if they belong to no solvent profession—than to colonize? Better that, than to be a very fast man for a season or two, aping and toadying those richer than himself, and thus losing money, time, his own and others' esteem!—better that, than to be put to a thousand shifts and humiliating expedients to feed the little hungry mouths around his hearth.




  ― 104 ―

One need not join in Pope's unpatriotic dictum, “I can never think that place my country in which I cannot call a foot of paternal earth my own;” but neither, in my eyes, is there anything so very alarming or repulsive in the idea of removing to some comparatively untaxed portion of the same empire, where, under the agis of the same institutions, and with the same laws, language, and religion, an Englishman may find all the protection that is needful, and all the freedom that is good for him. If the bold emigrant want a motto for his banner, what better one than

“Omne solum forti Patria!”

He may fight under it, fearless of failure and sanguine of success; and he may do so without forgetting his allegiance to the land of his birth. The writer can hardly be said to be a stay-at-home preacher of expatriation, having spent some sixteen years in foreign lands since he left school.

A very superficial although personal acquaintance with the five great divisions of the globe gives me, perhaps, no right to uphold Australia as the best of all fields for European settlement. Yet that impression has taken strong hold of my mind. Its distant geographical position, and the consequent expense of time and money on the voyage, are undoubtedly serious drawbacks. On the other hand, Australia, in its unequalled extent of coast, presents localities for colonization at a hundred different points. The land, though not rich, is productive.


  ― 105 ―
The climate is excellent. There are no insalubrious swamps, noxious reptiles but few; no lions or tigers—no Pawneeloups or Maories or Kaffirs; no cholera, yellow jack, endemic or epidemic diseases, no assessed taxes, no hydrophobia, no volcanoes, no earthquakes—such as lately convulsed New Zealand—where a friend of mine, after a long and rough passage, found the earth rocking like the sea off Cape Horn instead of the terra firma he felt he had a right to set foot on!—no revolutions nor rebellions, nor landlord butcheries, nor beggary;—scarcely a bushranger now to be found for love or money. There is no frost or snow worth mentioning, and the land, therefore, being never shut up, the demand for labour is nearly equal all the year round.

Sooner or later, it may be predicted, there will be a great influx into these peaceful colonies of persons having a predilection for a quiet life;—not merely from Great Britain, but from those continental nations where political commotions continually disturb the social state, and endanger life and property. The pastoral regions of Australia must have charms for the lovers of tranquillity of whatever nation; and indeed the immigration of foreigners has already commenced pretty actively, more especially in the colony of South Australia. The increased culture of the vine, and the augmenting importance of wine-facture in this country, have already brought out considerable numbers of settlers from Germany and France.

In a large majority of the points admitted as requisite


  ― 106 ―
to invite and sustain a population redundant elsewhere, Australia in general appears to be equal, if not superior, to any other country. If Europe be a vast crush-room, Australia is a splendid saloon, well aired and lighted, and with elbow room for millions! She is literally, as Dr. Lang quotes, “a land of wheat and barley and vines and fig-trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey, a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness. Thou shalt not lack anything in it.”note




  ― 107 ―

Chapter IV.

TRANSPORTATION—OLD AND NEW SYSTEMS—THE ANTIS AND THE PROS—THE CONVICT QUESTION—VACILLATION—RESOLUTIONS—THE “HASHEMY”—THE MOTHER COUNTRY SUPERCILIOUS—COLONIES SENSITIVE—INDIFFERENCE REPAID—PROTEST MEETINGS—AN EXPLOSION—PLATFORM ORATORS—POPULAR OUTRAGES—FRIENDLY HINTS TO RIOTERS—COLONIES FRETFUL BUT LOYAL.

THE fact Convictism, and the act Transportation, are so intimately associated with the history of this colony, and are so frequently forced on the attention of the resident and the traveller in Australia, that to reject the subject altogether would be something like performing the play of Hamlet with the part of the Dane left out. Pretending, however, to no higher art than that of a mere sketcher—a “rambler,” I do not presume to enter with my reader upon a subject so infinitely above my aim and my ability, much further than may be attained by the glimpses of its practice past and present occurring casually in the course of this my Diary.

The Whatelys, Adderlys, and others, have demolished the system speculatively, philosophically, and theoretically.


  ― 108 ―
It has actually been in extremis more than once lately; yet has arisen from its ashes in full force again, because no scheme of secondary punishment has been struck out, or is likely to be invented, by individual or collective wisdom, to supply its place. “What is to be done with our criminals?” is still the cry. It is a fair puzzle. Are we to starve, flog hang, draw and quarter them, with one school of disciplinarians, or to pet, educate, make model-prisoners of them, to ponder at once over oakum, cocoa, and contrition, with the opposite school?—or are we to provide some “soft intermediate degree” of castigation—something between the truculent and the emollient—between Carlyle and Maconochie? The amended Criminal Law forbids the rope. Philanthropists and moralists scout exilism “beyond the seas.” The system, they argue, is radically impure and unfair. Statists and jurists have propounded no satisfactory substitute. “What, then, is to be done” with our sinners against social order?

The power of deporting offenders from her shores to those of her distant dependencies, there to undergo correction, to reform, to become colonists and the ancestors of worthy citizens, seems to include one of the most valuable privileges enjoyed by any nation. But the moralist shrinks from the idea of founding new communities in crime and disgrace; while the disciplinarian doubts whether the example afforded by instances of prisoners having risen to wealth in the countries of their


  ― 109 ―
banishment may not encourage rather than daunt offenders. The old system of Assignment gave too much liberty to them. The present plan of Probation converts, it is urged, a community of men into a gang of demons. The labour accomplished by coerced labour is little better than none; the cost of supervision enormous.

Such are one or two of the arguments of objectors. Yet the experiment was a noble one; and the existence of so wealthy, so happy, and so important a colony as New South Wales, proves that in some points it has been a successful one. I am unwilling to believe that the legislative ingenuity and executive vigour of England can frame and enforce no means for cleansing from abuses—abuses, perhaps, merely those of administration—a system which it seems impossible to replace. There is one cardinal fault in the economy of the present system—that of compulsory celibacy, a practical violation of the natural affections and impulses which converts our fellow-men into monsters of ferocity and brutality. But under any shape transportation cannot be beneficially carried out—if it can be carried out at all—in any colony unwilling to receive convicts. That difficulty solved, others may surely be surmounted. The disputants upon this subject, so important to the welfare of the colony, seem to me to consist of four classes. 1st.—Those who, looking at the question in its highest aspect, would repel the outcasts of another land, because their influx would


  ― 110 ―
bring a taint upon their own. 2d, (and this includes a numerous body)—Those with whom the convicts or exiles would compete in the labour-market—thereby reducing the rate of wages. 3d.—Those who advocate the reception of convicts at all hazards—whose cry is, Let us have labour good or bad, but, at any rate, labour. 4th.—Those who are for half measures. These would not have “the convict element” largely infused into the constituency. They would keep them, therefore, away from the large towns. They would wish them sent to the distant districts, where unskilled labour is most wanted. They would rather accept these men at the hands of the Colonial Minister, with such concurrent advantages as the cordial co-operation of the colonists with the views of the Imperial Government would entitle them to expect, than receive them, indirectly and without such advantages, in the shape of emancipated or expiree prisoners from the existing penal colony of Van Diemen's Land, or from a threatened new convict plantation somewhere north of Sydney.

The contending parties on this question are not superhuman, and, therefore, one may swear self-interest does not go for nothing in the matter. The squatters and other great employers of unskilled labour pray for renewal of convictism for the good of their trade, without reference to the benefit of the commonwealth—as the glazier prays for hail-storms, civic riots, and the revival of Tom-and-Jerryism, for his own private ends! The immigrants


  ― 111 ―
and native free labourers contemplate an influx of exiles, much as the Yorkshire day labourer at harvest-time does the arrival of a band of hungry Irishmen, with their brawny arms and bran-new sickles, ready to work on half the wages and to live on half the food required by sturdy John.

The freed convict-Colonist—putting out of the question his mere material interests—must (as a local print truly remarks) be the foremost in desiring the discontinuance of the system; because its resumption would revive with tenfold virulence the painful class-distinctions and old feelings of rancour between the Free and the Freed, which are now gradually dying away. “Mrs. Mother-Country” is of course extremely disinterested, but is naturally anxious to transplant her naughty children in a place where, she being quit of them, they may reform, and, what is more—remain. A small knot of humanitarians at home and abroad advocate the principle, that it is the duty of the colonists “to take into their bosom these poor outcasts.” I noticed, moreover, another section of the employers of labour, who, in their outward and overt declarations of hostility towards further convictism, and their well-known inward and covert inclinations and practices, reminded me of a horse shying at a truss of hay on the public road, but eating it not the less greedily in his rack!

On all sides of the question there is an immense deal of vapouring. A large proportion of the Australians


  ― 112 ―
do not care a button for it one way or the other. There are not a few “parties” who would employ the Arch-fiend himself, if he would engage at low wages,—and the imminence of whose ruin, owing to the past and present dearth of labourers, almost justifies the adoption of desperate measures to save themselves. But in a large view of the case—putting a people in the place of an individual—a fair test—one cannot help seeing that a stigma once removed can never again be welcomed by a well-conditioned mind. No one could desire the regrowth of an unsightly tumour which had once been painfully excised. He who steps backwards will tumble in the mire—and what mire blacker and fouler than the Botany Swamp! So the colony, once relieved from the odium attached to penal institutions, looks upon their voluntary resumption as a moral retrogression and therefore a degradation and disgrace. It is easy to understand that the man born in the colony, or who has adopted it with the intention of making it the home of his children and grandchildren for ever, is as anxious for its moral as for its material improvement and elevation; while it is clear enough that he who, putting a certain number of thousands of pounds into his pocket, takes his passage to the colony, retaining still a preference for his native land, and sets to work to make a fortune as fast as he can, with the laudable intention of going home again to enjoy it among his relations;—it is very clear that he may be less


  ― 113 ―
squeamish as to the instruments whereby he gains his ends—and yet be an honourable and clean-handed gentleman. He may very fairly tolerate as a temporary sojourner—“only a passenger”—what the permanent colonist would vigorously repudiate

Having said thus much, I would drop at once all further consideration of a question about which I am by no means likely to propound anything new. I am tempted, however, to admit some passages from my diary of 1850;—because they touch upon a period when local excitement had reached its height upon the problem, “Convicts or no more convicts;”—because when the events of that period shall have reached Home the great question must be “set at rest for ever;”—and because a few notes taken at the moment may as briefly and familiarly as possible give an inkling of an epoch not unimportant and not inconsequential in the history of this group of colonies.

October 2d, 1850. SYDNEY.—Yesterday the debate on Transportation in the Legislative Council resulted in a firm refusal to accept convicts again. So great the diversity of opinion, so puzzling the contrarieties of sentiment that for the last twelve months or more have divided, and, indeed, convulsed society in Sydney as well as in the provinces, on this vexed question—so apparently contradictory have been the movements of the Colonial Legislature in the progressive consideration of that question, that I have been curious to find by


  ― 114 ―
what steps, after so much violent oscillation, the needle of public opinion has at length become steady to one point. The blue books and newspaper reports put us in possession of the following leading facts, by which it would certainly appear, that, on the vital question of the renewal, or the entire cessation of transportation to New South Wales, the inhabitants—if their sentiments are truly represented by their council—do not know their own minds.

In the year 1840, at the earnest recommendation of the long sitting Committee of the House of Commons, transportation to this colony was stayed, and a system of home-discipline, punitory and reformatory, was tried. This being found ruinously expensive and inefficient, the minister, after several years of experiment, resolved to feel the pulse of New South Wales as to her voluntary resumption of prisoners.

In October 1846, the proposal of the Secretary of State was laid before the Legislative Council; a select committee was appointed to consider and report upon its details, when they came to the conclusion that “a modified and carefully regulated introduction of convict-labourers into New South Wales, or into some part of it, might, under the present circumstances, be advisable.”

In September the following year, at the next session of that body, a resolution condemnatory of the principles and recommendations of its committee aforesaid was passed, and the Governor was requested to forward to


  ― 115 ―
the Secretary of State the declaration of their opinion, that the renewal of transportation would be repugnant to the wishes of the community, &c.

In 1848, a new election of the Legislative Council having meanwhile taken place, and a new proposal having been received from the Imperial Government for the reception by the colony of an influx of “exiles,” holding tickets of leave and conditional pardons, with their wives and families, and an equal number of free emigrants, the House came to the unanimous resolution to receive the exiles on the conditions specified. Finally came on, amid a flourish of trumpets, such as was never before heard in Australia, the great transportation debate of October 1850. Great it may well be styled; for the report of the speeches occupied no fewer than eighty-seven columns of the Sydney Morning Herald!

What is called the popular element in the constitution of the council was allowed full exercise in its proceedings on the transportation debate. None of the Government officers took any part in them, with the exception of the Attorney General. Having been public prosecutor for eighteen years in the colony, his eyes were thoroughly opened to the evil of transportation—in daily contemplation of the crimes which during that period had been committed. He referred members to a published charge delivered by a judge of the colony in 1835, whereby it appeared that, during that year and the two previous years, the colony being then a penal one, the following


  ― 116 ―
capital convictions and sentences of death had occurred—In 1833, capital convictions, 135; sentences of death, 69. In 1834, capital convictions, 148; sentences of death, 83. In 1835, capital convictions, 116; with 71 sentences to death, and 33 others capitally convicted waiting for sentence! Since the 1st of August, 1843, capital punishment had been taken away from certain minor offences; so that the crimes thus punished since that date were murder, rape, robbery, burglary, maliciously stabbing, shooting, and wounding; in short, crimes of violence. During that period the whole colony contained about 140,000 inhabitants. Think, O ye people of England, what a hempen butchery would have appeared the execution of six or seven dozen criminals as the result of the yearly assizes of a third class town in England—Sheffield, for instance. What a tremendous proof of the villainy of the populace of the town and district it would have been, even if the latter contained twenty times more inhabitants,—or of the cruelty of the law! The hon. and learned gentleman added a multitude of statistical facts, referring to dates since the cessation of transportation in 1840. He divided the population into two classes, the free and the transported. According to the census of 1846, the former were 4 to 1 in relative numbers with the latter, the free class having attained a majority to that extent. Wherefore, if the moral standard were equal, out of every 100 criminals, 75 should belong to the free, 25 to the transported


  ― 117 ―
class. At the Sydney quarter sessions were tried, in 1846, 335 persons, of whom 153 were of the free class, 232 of the transported. Other sets of statistics from the returns of the Supreme Court and circuits showed a similar result. And statistics are stubborn things—when they are true!

This debate resulted in the following motions being carried without a division of the house—the Pro-transportationist members having retired when they found how small a minority they would have formed:—

1. “That a humble address be presented to Her Majesty, respectfully setting forth, with reference to the despatch of the Right Hon. the Secretary of State for the Colonies, to his Excellency Sir C. A. Fitz Roy, No. 174, dated 16th November, 1849,—that this Council adopts as its final conclusion, that no more convicts ought on any conditions to be sent to any part of this colony.

2. “That as there can be no security for the social and political tranquillity of the colony until the convict question is set at rest, this Council humbly repeats the prayer which was contained in an address to her Majesty from this Council, dated 1st June, 1849, viz.—that Her Majesty will be graciously pleased to revoke the order in Council, by which this colony has again been made a place to which British offenders may be transported.

3. “That the foregoing address to her Majesty may be transmitted to his Excellency the Governor, with a respectful request that his Excellency will be pleased to


  ― 118 ―
forward the same to Her Majesty, with his recommendation that the prayer of this Council may be acceded to with the least possible delay.”

This at length decisive frumping of further convictism, was accompanied and supported by petitions from various bodies, at the head of which stood the clergymen of the United Church of England and Ireland, who prayed that transportation might cease, “because the question exasperated classes and individuals, because moral and social evil was inherent in the very establishment of a penal colony, and because of the degradation attached to it in the opinion of mankind at large.” Counter petitions were not wanting. But it is possible that the leading journal (strongly “anti,” by-the-bye,) did not much exaggerate, when he computed the numbers of the “antis” and “pros” at 100 to 1.

The upshot of the debate of 1850 carries with it a lesson for the conducting of State questions between the Mother Country and her dependencies. I am inclined to concur with the opinion of the oldest and best orator in the Colonial Council, that “the double system of exilism and emigration would now be in full operation, and that the colonists would at present be deriving the benefits which would have sprung from it, perfectly satisfied with the practical operation of the measure,” had the bargain been rigidly stuck to by the former. The proposal that the wives and families of married exiles should accompany them into banishment promised


  ― 119 ―
well. The duties and amenities of domestic life, the influence of woman, the endearing relation of parent and offspring, might purify and reform any but the incurably hardened. The new arrivals would have been passed on to the rural districts, and not suffered to locate in Sydney and other large towns, where aggregation breeds moral as sure as it does bodily disease. An equal number of free and virtuous immigrants was an additional sweetener to the proposed réchauffée of the old dish—transportation. It was a sort of sandwich—one half fresh, the other of somewhat tainted materials. The company invited to partake thereof was hungry, and relished the idea of the experimental entrée! What was their disappointment, when on the dish being served up—the “Hash-emy”note dish—it was found to contain only the staler half of the stipulated components! There was no fresh meat in the market; it was too late in the day to procure any; it was too dear. In short, it has been found necessary to send it to table precisely as it was cooked in former days—no garniture, no sauce, no sippets—no nothing! To use a vulgar phrase, “the fat was in the fire!” at this discovery! and the blaze extended far and wide over the land;—so quickly, indeed, that in less than a fortnight “anti” meetings generative of petitions, resolutions, and memorials against the measure, accompanied by speeches and publications full of invective and defiance, took place in every corner of the colony. The New South Wales


  ― 120 ―
press having at that moment only one daily organ, and that one decidedly and fiercely anti-penal, the public mind—which, to save itself the trouble of thinking, is often willing to be blindly guided for good or evil—imbibed, more readily and more deeply perhaps than it was aware of, the uncompromising opinions of its literary leader. In a word, the last opportunity for procuring the willing reception of English convicts by this colony was lost. Wounded dignity was unquestionably the mainspring of this determined resistance of Imperial overtures. “What is so implacable,” says Bulwer, “as the rage of vanity? Take from a man his fortune, his house, his reputation, but flatter his vanity in each and he will forgive you. Heap upon him benefits, fill him with blessings, but irritate his self-love, and you have made the best man an ingrat.”

A colony appreciates concessions however small, consideration however trifling, at the hands of the Parent Country, much as an individual in comparatively humble circumstances values the courtesy and kindness of the rich and the great. Both, if they possess commendable spirit, will resent imperious treatment. One must have lived in colonies to know how sensitive they are on the subject of their appreciation by the Old Country. Nothing touched Australia more nearly than the apathy shown, until lately, by the Houses of Parliament in matters merely colonial. And indeed she did not flinch without cause. The very word “Colonies” was


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the immediate signal for a “count out.” There was “no house” for the consideration of such dull subjects as the political and financial relations of the parent country and her dependencies! Sir William Molesworth's plan of highly spicing his speeches was indeed sometimes successful in procuring and retaining to himself a tolerable audience on colonial matters. Few succeeded so well. Mr. Scott, in an able speech upon the “squatting question” and the peculiarities of bush life in Australia, is said to have had eight pair of ears only to listen to it. The colonial prints take a morbid delight in republishing from the Home Journals extracts proving this indifference.

When the question of a single or a double chamber for the local government of the Australian colonies was debated in the Lords, a noble Peer, who was expected to take the profoundest interest and most active part in the question, preferred seeing his horse lose at Ascot. This was a charming text for the sensitive Sydneyites to work upon. English statesmen were, as the Morning Chronicle expressed it, “more anxious about the success of a two-year old than about the fate of the southern continent.” Noble Lords and Hon. Members would hardly neglect their duties in their respective “places” for a day at Epsom, a fête at Chiswick, or for a white-bêtise at Greenwich or Blackwall, if they knew how closely their truantries are watched by their Colonial constituents. Heartless, cruel, unjust, impolitic, are the epithets which the Colonial


  ― 122 ―
press and the spretœ injuria Sydnœ bestow on the contemptuous nonchalance of England and the English towards their transmarine brethren and children;—and certainly, until quite lately, they were not undeserved. Per contra, the colony flaps its wings and crows for joy and pride, when it finds itself distinguished by a complimentary passage in the speech of a Noble Lord or Honourable Gentleman, still more when it is the subject of a flattering leader in a London newspaper; better than all, when, as once happened, Australia formed one of the leading topics in the Sovereign's opening speech from the throne,—“an incident,” remarks the Sydney Morning Herald, “we believe, without a parallel in the history of British colonies; plainly showing that, in the estimation of the advisers of the Crown, Australia had acquired an importance which ought to be recognised in the face of the empire, and had the highest possible claims on the attention of the Imperial Legislature.”

The indifference of Old England towards the affairs of her children is not unrepaid. The great events which periodically agitate the public mind in the Mother Country receive little attention here. Not only do the inferior classes ignore them altogether, but even the more thinking orders contemplate them with the most sublime unconcern. An insurrection in Ireland, a revolution in France, all Europe at loggerheads, are nothing to New South Wales,—except in so far as they may affect the price of wool and tallow, “bones, hides, horns, and


  ― 123 ―
hoofs!” A person like myself, really interested in Home affairs, and thirsting for the latest news on the arrival of a vessel after a long dearth of intelligence, must search for himself in the English files. From the colonial quidnuncs whom he meets, big with English budgets, he will merely learn that “the wool-market is active, and business doing at improved rates,” or that “town tallow and rough fat are heavy at drooping prices.” The countenances of those concerned in such matters—(and in New South Wales nearly all are so)—afford literal translations of the quotations from the Home Circular. Their spirits rise with the rise of wool, and when wool is down they are down in the mouth!

Once and once only were the events passing in the Old Country made the subject of comment to me by one of the humbler order of Sydney's citizens. I had just received a supplement of the daily paper, with “Later intelligence from Europe,” in large letters, by way of heading, and was running my eye over it, when, as I passed a group of men repairing the road, one of them turning to me said, civilly but abruptly, “I axe your pardon, Sir, what may the news be?” “Oh!” replied I, “the French ——” “Bother the Frinch,” interrupted my colloquist—“what do we care about the Frinch? Did we get the Repale yet? that's what we want to know. By the hookey! I'd go home and join the Peep-o'day-boys, if there was any one to take care of the ould woman and the children for me!” “You


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would only get your head broken,” said I. “Faith, it wouldn't be the first time,” replied he, with a broad good-humoured grin and a stifled “whoop!”—his mind reverting, doubtless, to many a faction fight, and many “a wig on the green,” proofs of the prowess of a stout arm and a tough “bit of a twig.” Then with a muttered “Och, but the times is changed!” he drove his pick half a foot into the hard macadam, and continued his work. If I have more than once noted my talks with sprigs of the Emerald Isle, it is that they are rife in this colony, and that they are infinitely more conversible and communicative than their brethren of England and Scotland.

A fortnight or so after the above little dialogue, we heard of the miserable affair of Slievenaman and the cabbage-garden campaign; and, not many months later, I met their hero, Mr. Smith O'Brien, in Van Diemen's Land. About the same period I did hear a rumour that a certain compatriot of my road-mending friend above mentioned, but moving in a greatly higher sphere of Sydney society, had engaged the services of a drill sergeant of the garrison, with a view to his efficiency as a patriot leader in his native land, whither he was about to return. The bumping of the firelock at the “order arms” on the floor of his dining-room, betrayed his studies to a friend, who found the joke too good to let it be lost to the world. This fervour evaporated, I hope, on the voyage home; for he was a clever, pleasant, good


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looking, and good fellow, and I should have heard with regret that any Crown law consequences had followed the harmless “entuzzimuzzy” (as Byron somewhere calls it) of “tam cari capitis!”—such a “regular brick.”

But these are isolated instances. As a general rule, Australia repays with interest—or rather with no interest at all—the frigid indifference of her parent. The old settlers with whom I have conversed about England almost invariably recur solely to the persons, places, and events of the Old Country “in their time.” Their sympathies, diluted by distance and the lapse of years, cannot embrace both their original and their adopted homes. Not that the hearts of the colonists are closed against the misfortunes which may befal their countrymen on the other side of the globe; for when the accounts reached Australia of the late fearful famine in Ireland, all ranks joined heartily in a handsome subscription.

The transportation question awakened the only movement at all resembling a popular émeute that it was my fortune to witness in New South Wales. The usually drowsy, well-fed, and politically apathetic Sydney broke into a perfect fever of excitement at the arrival of the fatal Hashemy with a cargo of bondsmen unaccompanied by the stipulated proportion of freemen; and the demagogues and mob orators took care to whip up the syllabub and keep it frothing. The Hashemy, I find, arrived with 212 convicts on board, on the 8th June,


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1849. On the 12th and 18th public protest meetings were held in the open air, close to the gates of the present Government House, and on the very site of the old Government House, where Governor Macquarie, whose policy it was to create an upper class from among a population nearly exclusively convict, entertained at his table guests from this order. Under the splendid old Scotch firs planted by Captain Phillip, the first importer of convicts to these shores,—on the very spot where the first convict camp was pitched,—their descendants, their compeers, and a few of the free class who had grown rich upon the system, now assembled to launch and listen to anathemas against it.

These convocations were self-styled Great Protest Meetings, although the numbers assembled were little greater than those attracted on fine Sunday afternoons by itinerant preachers in St. James's or the Regent's Park. The protest adopted at the first meeting concluded with the following solemn sentence—“For these, and for many kindred reasons;—in the exercise of our duty to our country;—for the love we bear our families; —in the strength of our loyalty to Great Britain;—and from the depth of our reverence for Almighty God —we protest against the landing again of British convicts on our shores.” A resolution was passed to request “that the local government do send the prisoners arrived in the Hashemy back to England, if necessary at the expense of the colony.” The petition and resolutions


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adopted at the meeting of the 18th embodied a prayer for the removal of the Secretary for the Colonies from her Majesty's councils, with a request that responsible government should be extended to the colony.

On the 14th a deputation waited on the Governor to present the protest and resolutions of the first meeting; and having—when one of their number attempted to press the question of sending back the prisoners—been bowed out with much ceremony and some speed by his Excellency, an individual of the deputation, well known as an humourist, is said to have remarked to his fellows, as they retired from the presence, that he did not know what their feelings might be on the occasion, but that as for himself he felt very much as if he had been “symbolically kicked.” The joke was a very good joke; but the subsequent attempt by the anti-transportation press and others to fix a charge of discourtesy upon the Governor was no joke, and was moreover very unjust and unwarrantable; and the injustice caused, as it was sure to do, a reaction in the shape of loyal addresses to his Excellency, denouncing the spirit of personal animosity exercised towards him.

Although, as I have said, the numbers attending these meetings were small, the ferment throughout the city was doubtless very great; and had the prisoners been landed in Sydney, they would have been severely handled by the populace. The platform spouters, indeed, did their best to wind up the passions of their hearers to


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that result. No such landing, in a body at least, was necessary, nor indeed contemplated.

The convict vessel arrived, as has been noted, on the 8th June. The protest meetings occurred on the 11th and 18th. There is a practical satire on human inconsistency in the following facts, reported by the principal Superintendent of Convicts to the Governor. He begs to report, that on the 14th inst., after the completion of the muster of the prisoners on board the Hashemy, “the men were permitted to make engagements with persons, who were allowed to go on board for the purpose by an order from me; and it seems worthy of remark, that, although at the time of the Hashemy's arrival there were four emigrant ships in the harbour, containing about 1,000 souls, all these men, with the exception of fifty-nine, who were removed to Moreton Bay and Clarence River, where labour was urgently required, were hired to respectable householders and sheep farmers within six days of their being ready to engage, at wages varying from 12l. to 16l. a-year, and some mechanics at 28l. per annum, the boys receiving from 8l. to 11l. per annum. Besides which, there are now applications at my office, from private individuals and others in different parts of the colony, for a larger number of this class of labourers than can be supplied by the arrival of several convict ships.”note

With such facts as these before them, it might be very


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excusable in a Home Government, or even in a local executive more behind the scenes, to doubt whether the desire to repel the “Floating Hell,”—(thus was this unlucky ship with its human freight characterised by one of the platform orators,)—with “her cargo of moral poison” from the shores of Port Jackson, was either very earnest or very general. The Governor, taking a dispassionate view of affairs as they stood, sat down and sketched them very faithfully in a despatch to the Colonial office—which despatch, finding its way into the blue-books, and describing, in due course, a parabola round the globe, fell like a bomb-shell among the combustibly disposed public.

The explosion took place early in August, 1850. The despatch was looked at, talked of, and written about, by the agitating party as if it had been an “infernal machine,” deliberately put together for the destruction of the colony. As the deputies had previously considered themselves symbolically kicked, so their constituents now considered themselves figuratively “blown up.” The truth is, they were only coolly and accurately described.

On the 12th of August (there being no grouse shooting in New South Wales), the meetings of the Circular Quay—the Champ de Mars of Sydney—were renewed. The same 800 or 1,000 idlers and others attended —men, hobble-dehoys, currency cubs, pickpockets, gossips, nursery-maids and their followers and children.


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Nearly the same speakers as before addressed the assembly. It was, perhaps, somewhat better attended than the meetings of the year before. The weather was charming—I was there myself—whereas in 1849 this congregation, sub Jove, found Jupiter Pluvius in the ascendant; and there is no greater disperser of mobs, no surer cooler of patriotism, than a good hearty shower of rain. Whereas in the former Protest meetings the public had the advantage of the presence of its favourite orator—whose versatile genius rendered palatable to “the unthinking mob”note the dryest, most insipid, and most threadbare theme—but who had since gone to England; the latter one, to make up for the loss, possessed a spicy ingredient in the person of the politico, empirico, clerico, Dr. L——, who arriving from England, red-hot with rage at his treatment by what he called “the remote, ill-informed, and irresponsible Colonial office;” being received with no warm welcome by the local powers; and being positively maltreated by the Legislative Council, into whose body he had been elected by the people; and further, having some cause for being dissatisfied with himself,—was precisely in the frame of mind to give effect to his undoubted powers of lung and tongue as well as of talent. The speeches of this gentleman and his colleagues—one of whom, by-the-bye, was a retailer of rocking-horses and radicalism in prose and verse,


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according to the requirements of the market—teemed with vulgar personalities against the Governor and his advisers; for they were quick-sighted enough to see that there was no hearty sympathy with the soul of the business—convictism or no convictism—among the populace; and they found it necessary therefore to throw some extraneous seasoning into the sop—for in the meetings of the year before scurrilous and insolent abuse of the constituted authorities had been found to be a dainty dish to set before the Cabbageites. One of the speakers—a dull one, dull as the rusted chisels and adzes of his discarded trade—indulged so largely, although unintelligibly, in coarse vituperation of the Governor and his sons, that one of them called the brawler to account; but he, not relishing this military interference, which, whatever shape it might take, would certainly redound to his personal discomfort, took refuge in the Police Court—thereby, as one of his acquaintances pertinently remarked, losing the only opportunity ever likely to be offered to him of becoming a gentleman—namely, by exchanging shots with one bred and born.

I must mention that, at this last meeting, during the heat of speechifaction, the Governor and his daughter, on horseback, rode out of the Government-house gates at his usual hour of exercise; whereupon, it is said, the reverend and truly peace-making occupier of the platform at the moment, directed the attention of the mob to him who was just then the object of his wordy virulence.


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Upon this hint, some forty or fifty men and lads, the scum and outskirts of the assemblage, rushed from the crowd, hooting and otherwise exerting their “most sweet voices.” My wife and myself, who were among the numerous curious spectators, became involved in the current of Cornstalk mobility, and close witnesses of what would have been a paltry ebullition, but for one unmanly and un-English feature in it—namely, a set of men persisting in shouting, and doing it the more, when they saw they had succeeded in terrifying a horse carrying a lady.

If this was a displeasing sight, another consequence of this popular outbreak was locally characteristic and agreeable. The first well-dressed and well-mounted person who rode forward to assist the Mayor and the Superintendent of the Police in repelling the yelping rabble from their pursuit of her Majesty's representative and his fair daughter, was an emancipated prisoner of the Crown; perhaps one of the most notorious that ever “left his country for his country's good,”—one who has not always enjoyed a very elevated character in this colony, but who was, nevertheless ready—for he is a manly fellow—to repress cowardly outrage.

I say little about the offensive and unmerited movements of the anti-transportationists towards the Governor personally, because I know they affect him but little. Fortunately for his Excellency, he possesses a pachydermatous nature, which appears to me one of the most


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valuable attributes in a ruler, and without which, I fancy, no great man ever existed. I believe it is not too much to say that his predecessor—honourable, high-minded, talented, and zealous as he was for the public good—was stung to death by the “slings and arrows” of a long course of malignant opposition. As well attempt to subdue a rhinoceros by dint of the “sumpiter,”note as hope to conquer his successor by personal invective!

The continual blistering of the public mind kept up by the haranguers and writers against existing things had got it into a state of irritation favourable for an outbreak; and the lowest orders seized upon the occasion of a grand fancy ball given by the Mayor at the theatre a few days after the meetings in 1850, to indulge their hostile feelings towards their superiors in station. The darkness of night, the helplessness of persons in carriages, and the insufficiency of the police, were encouraging circumstances for some of the most cowardly street ruffians. A stone or two were thrown at the Governor's party, and fell among the ladies as they entered the theatre. The chief officer of police was knocked off his horse, and some attempts were made to force the ranks—faced inwards to form a lane—of the guard of honour at the entrance. When the officer, however, gave the word to “face about,” the rabble obeyed the order as


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promptly as the soldiers, and no more trouble was given to the red-coats. Worse things, however, happened afterwards; for, taking advantage of the slow pace of the carriages coming up in a string to set down the guests, a body of blackguards amused themselves by forcing open the doors of the vehicles, and assailing those occupying them with every kind of brutal comment and disgusting words and actions.

The weakness, in this instance, of the civil power contrasted with the impunity of that very uncivil power, the Sydney mob, will, if I mistake not, be productive of much future mischief. Broken heads and bread and water—which would have been the meed of these disorders had ever so small a party of the London police been on the spot—might have afforded the ringleaders a lesson and a warning which it still remains for them to receive, and which they will surely some day receive to their greater cost:—witness the manner in which the citizen army decimated the citizen mob in New York a year or two ago, when the latter wanted to maltreat a popular English actor who had made himself somehow unpopular for the nonce.

In Sydney there are no cuirassed and casqued cavalry—almost brickbat-proof—whose gigantic black horses will disperse a mob—especially a well-dressed one in wet weather—by a whisk of their long muddy tails at the touch of the “spur insidiously applied.”


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An infantry force in aid of the civil power has no means of trifling with a troublesome assemblage of persons outnumbering itself. It possesses only its serried array, its deadly bullet, and still more deadly bayonet. It is well, therefore, for a mischievously disposed populace to know, that of late years there have been two very important changes made in the mode of action of foot-soldiers in cases of collision with the people. The one is that the volley is delivered at the word “Present,” which therefore it would be the height of imprudence to await in the belief of its innocuous import;—the other consists of the prohibition of the old practice of firing over the heads of rioters—a practice to which many an innocent although perhaps meddlesome old woman has fallen a victim, while the ringleaders escaped scot-free.note “Fire low!” is now the order. New South Wales is not the country where the rabble can be safely permitted much headway. They should be checked betimes; more promptly than is requisite where the lower ranks of the population have a less questionable origin. The forçâts libres of France and other nations of the European continent have been constant and ready instruments in the hands of anarchy.

The cabbage-tree mob, as I have said before, are always ready for a “spree;” and some of their pastimes are of


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so rough an order as to deserve to be repaid with bloody coxcombs. The Sydney populace, nevertheless, as a body, are by no means inclined to tumult. Regarding politics, they are peculiarly apathetic. The abstract rights of man trouble their heads but very little. It requires active whipping and spurring by some half-dozen agitators and pillory-orators to kindle them into even a temporary glow of mock patriotism. When men are individually and collectively comfortable, it is difficult to inspire them with that sort of public virtue whose real names are discontent, disquiet, and dissolution of social bonds,—and whose end is revolution and ruin. The Anglo-Saxon is generally a placable beast when his belly is well filled; a child might play with him after his dinner. God be praised, there is no such thing as hunger in this colony!

Colonies, in general, from their social constitution, have but little sympathy with patrician—scarcely even with conservative—notions. They are naturally apostles of Progress; and that Progress has republican institutions for its ultimate bourne. New South Wales may be occasionally fretful, discontented, even restive in contesting for what she considers her rights. An empty spouter may bluster about “dragging the British standard through the dust of the Sydney streets;” but he is instantly and severely rebuked by persons present, who came to advocate the same doctrine as himself. My Sydney grocer, in canvassing my vote for the


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city council, may include in his printed circular, “the following sentiments of the man who solicits your suffrage,” borrowed from Brother Jonathan,—“That by the immutable laws of nature and the principles of the English constitution, we are entitled to life, liberty, and property, and we have never ceded to any sovereign power whatsoever a right to dispose of the same without our consent!” but he may be a good subject and sell good tea and sugar for all that. A fiery old statesman may boil over in the Legislative Chamber, and make the cedar rafters ring to his declaration that “we must assert our rights by force of arms!” but these are only periodical ebullitions; there is more of dyspepsia than disloyalty in their origin.

One thing I may assert without any reservation, that in no instance in these colonies did I ever hear the name of our gracious Queen spoken of or received without the most cordial demonstrations of homage and affection.




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Chapter V. [1850–51.]

EXCURSION TO THE COLONIES OF VAN DIEMEN'S LAND AND VICTORIA—VOYAGE—MARIA ISLAND—MORTIFYING RECEPTION—MR. SMITH O'BRIEN—OUT-REASONED AND OUT-MANŒUVRED—THREE GENERATIONS EXPATRIATED—CHRISTMAS TIDE IN FAR LANDS—A MAN OVERBOARD—HOBART TOWN—GARDENS AND VILLAS—ICE—THE METROPOLITAN COOK—MASTERS OF ARTS—CONVICTS—THEIR LABOUR—A COUNTRY WITHOUT AN HISTORIAN—FIRST SETTLEMENT—A BATTUE FOR BLACKS—THEIR REMNANT.

IN the Australian summer of 1850–51, the chances of the service threw in my way an agreeable opportunity of visiting Van Diemen's Land, as well as Port Phillip, a province of New South Wales on the point of being erected into a colony under the title of Victoria. Major General Wynyard, commanding the forces in the Australasian colonies, having resolved on a tour of inspection to the former island, I had the honour to accompany him on that duty.

The elements did not favour H.M.S. Havannah, which frigate conveyed us to our destination, for she commenced her voyage with a terrific thunder-storm, in which the electric fluid flirted most desperately with the conductor on the main-mast, and during the rest of


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the voyage she had calms and adverse winds to contest with, so that no less than eleven days were expended in performing the 600 miles between Sydney and Hobart Town. But if the southerly breeze resisted our progress, its fresh breath proved a charming relief to us, after the heat of Sydney. A day or two before we left that (at this season) sudoriferous city, the thermometer stood at 97° and 98°, yet at sea we enjoyed the bracing effects of a temperature from 50° to 48° between decks;—enjoyed, I can hardly say, for to most of us this degree of cold seemed well-nigh inclement. On the 23d December, harassed by continued foul winds, Captain Erskine closed in with the land to seek an anchorage, and we soon found ourselves surrounded on the chart by names commemorative of the old French surveyors and discoverers. Leaving behind us Freycinet's Peninsula, and beating to and fro between the storm-lashed Isle des Phoques and Cape Bougainville on the mainland of Van Diemen's Land, we at length gained a snug berth off the settlement of Darlington on Maria Island, about a mile and a half from the shore, and half that distance from L'Isle du Nord.

December 24th.—The wind continuing both foul and fresh, Havannah remained at anchor during the morning; and landing after breakfast, we seized by the forelock this unlooked-for opportunity of visiting the island and its chief town. Singular enough! in one of the latest numbers of the Illustrated London News on board


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was found a short account of Maria Island, with a woodcut of the settlement, which had become interesting as the prison of Mr. Smith O'Brien.

The island is about twenty miles long, and is separated from the mainland by a channel varying from four to eight miles in breadth. The land is elevated and covered with wood. Maria Island derives its feminine appellation from Miss Van Diemen, whose charms appear to have so deeply impressed the heart of her compatriot the great navigator, Abel Tasman, that in his oceanic wanderings, not finding it convenient “to carve her name on every tree,” he recorded it still more immortally on different headlands and islands newly discovered,—inscribing it, in its full maiden length, on the northern-most bluff of New Zealand, Cape Maria Van Diemen. Whether he assisted the fair lady to change it eventually, I cannot depose.

In 1825 this island was made a penal settlement for convicts whose crimes were not of an aggravated nature,—a purpose for which it is admirably adapted by its isolated position and its ready communication, by telegraph or otherwise, with Hobart Town. The establishment was broken up in 1832, and the land was rented to settlers; but it was resumed when the Probation System was introduced, and has since again been vacated as a Government station.

The soil is fertile. About 400 acres have been cleared round Darlington; and the crops in both field and


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garden have been most plentiful. Forty bushels of wheat per acre is accounted a high average in any of the Australian colonies; and that average is common here. The timber is magnificent, but so much has been already taken that the larger blue-gums and iron-barks must now be sought in the distant gulleys of the mountains. The largest I saw was about eighteen feet in girth,—a slim-waisted sprig in Tasmanian estimation. There are many rivulets and lagoons of excellent water on the island,—an advantage by no means generally conspicuous in Van Diemen's Land. There is plenty of fish, eels and oysters, quail and wild fowl, as well as wallabi,—a small kind of kangaroo. The climate is about the finest in the world,—a fact admitted by Smith O'Brien himself, who, among all his Jeremiads indited from Maria Island, could not resist doing justice to the picturesque beauty and the salubrity of his place of exile.

Aware that Darlington had been a Probation Station containing some four hundred prisoners, and unapprised of its abandonment; and, moreover, giving our ship and ourselves credit for being a sight worth seeing and seldom seen by the supposed inhabitants, good and bad, bond and free; we were not a little surprised—perhaps the captain was a little nettled—at perceiving in the settlement no commotion arising from the advent of H.M.S. Havannah. The tall flag-staff was buntingless, the windmill sailless, the pretty cottages and gardens seemed tenantless, “not a drum was heard” in the military


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barracks, and the huge convict buildings seemed to be minus convicts. At length, through a telescope, was observed one canary-coloured biped, in the grey and yellow livery of the doubly and trebly-convicted felon. There had perhaps been an outbreak of the prisoners, for the military force in Tasmania had lately been reduced to the very lowest possible amount! The magistrates, superintendents, overseers, officers, and soldiers had all been massacred; and the revolted convicts having afterwards fought about the spoil,—there stood the sole survivor! Our suspense did not last long, for presently a whale-boat came slowly off, and there appeared on the quarter-deck, a hawk-eyed and nosed personage, about six feet and a-half high, who seemed as if he had long lived in indifferent society, for his eyes had a habit of sweeping around his person, aside and behind, as though he was in momentary expectation of assault. This was an overseer left in charge of the abandoned station, with a few prisoners to assist him. He proved an obliging and intelligent cicerone, showing our party over the different buildings of the establishment, and guiding us in a delightful walk over part of the island. The position of Darlington is truly delightful—airy, yet sheltered, with a splendid view of the open ocean, of the straits, and of the fine blue hills and wooded bluffs of the mainland. A clear stream of fresh water meanders among the houses, and loses itself in a snug little boat harbour.

Pity that, as in Norfolk Island, a paradise should have


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been converted into a pandemonium; and yet again it seems a pity that so extensive and expensive an establishment—hospital, stores, chapel, school, military and convict barracks, houses of the magistrate, surgeon, superintendent, &c.—should be abandoned to ruin. It would be more satisfactory to see them all swept out of sight—obliterated from the soil—and this lovely isle allotted to a population worthy of its numerous advantages. There was one feature of this defunct convict station that I viewed with disgust—a single dormitory for four hundred men! The bed places were built of wood in three tiers, the upper cribs being reached by two or three brackets fastened to the stanchions. Each pigeon-hole is six feet and a half long, by two feet in width, and separated from its neighbours by double, open battens. The prisoner lies with his feet to the outer wall and his head towards the centre of the apartment—like a bottle in its bin. This nocturnal aggregation of brutalized males is a feature of penal discipline that I was astonished to find had been so lately in operation.

The accommodations allotted to Mr. William Smith O'Brien, the state prisoner, were of course pointed out to us. They consisted of two small rooms, with a little garden in the rear, wherein he might take his exercise. Few field-officers of the army obtain better quarters, and many worse. He was waited upon by a constable, who cooked his convict ration of beef, bread, and potatoes,


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and, I suppose, made his “post and rail” tea sweetened with brown sugar. The prisoner was as poor a philosopher as a patriot. He had not courage to reap what he had sown. He refused, as is well known, to accept the ticket of leave offered him by Government, and yet winced under the consequent and necessary hardships incurred by this refusal.

A medical gentleman, whose duty it is to visit periodically all the convict stations, related to me a curious interview he had with this political delinquent. On announcing his desire to see Mr. O'Brien, he was politely received by that person, and conversed for some time with him. The prisoner complained of his rations, of the coarse tea and sugar, said his health suffered from the bad food, and from confinement to the small strip of garden. The doctor, who is not a man readily put off his guard, admitted that it was not impossible that the long continuance of an existence of privation and humiliation might indeed affect injuriously both mind and body; and added that he should be happy to do anything in his power to alleviate his sufferings. O'Brien was glad to hear such sentiments from his visitor, and expressed a hope that he would apply to the Governor to sanction some relaxation of discipline. The doctor, pointing to two prisoners in the yard, said—“If the health of those men was, in my opinion, injured by their imprisonment and punishment, I should represent their cases, because they cannot help themselves. You, Sir, on the contrary,


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have your health and comfort in your own hands;—one word, and you may live as you please on this island.” The poor, vain, egotist, replied that he must be consistent, that the eyes of the world were upon him, that the acceptation of his ticket-of-leave would amount to an admission of the justice of his sentence. “But you speak, Sir,” added he, “as if I had committed a crime! What crime have I committed?” “A monstrous one,” replied the good Medico—“you have broken the laws of your country, and stirred up your ignorant fellow-countrymen to break them also.” He moreover assured the prisoner that Europe was in no disquiet as to his fate. The latter, however, remained obdurate on the subject of his ticket—preferring to retain his grievance with the accompanying possibility of escape. The miserable attempt which he shortly afterwards made will not add to his character for ingenuity or fortitude. A cutter appeared in the bay. Smith O'Brien, duly warned of its approach, contrived to procure a small boat, and was in the act of pushing off, when a single, armed constable, came up and stove the boat with a blow of an axe, while a whale-boat, well armed, pulled away and captured the cutter.

The “Inspector General of the Confederated Clubs of Munster,” and the descendant of Brian Boru, behaved on this occasion like a petulant child. He ran into the sea some paces, and, when compelled to re-land, refused to walk, and, having thrown himself down on the ground,


  ― 146 ―
suffered himself to be carried like a sack back to his cell by three or four men;—a mode of bearing reverses by no means heroical. The fact of a ticket-of-leave having been accorded to this troublesome gentleman not long after this effort at evasion, is proof enough of clemency on the part of Government; yet while he was enjoying himself in almost perfect liberty—in liberty as perfect as that within the reach of any professional man, whose duties bind him to one district—a letter, addressed to “My dear Potter,” was running the round of the English papers, wherein he descants on “the inhumanity of the Governor of the colony,” and on “the inhuman regulations of the Controller-General of Convicts”—concluding by the doleful prophecy, “I see no definite termination of the calamities of my lot, except that which you and other friends took so much pains to avert—the deliverance which will be effected by death.”note

The English are, indeed, wonderful curiosity-mongers, especially in matters connected with crime and criminals. A Nineveh of relics appertaining to murders and murderers would find scores of Layards to grub them up and set store by them. Pieces of blue crockery on which the convicted traitor was supposed to have dined, shreds of the scuttled boat in which he hoped to have fled from his South Sea Chillon, with other trivial mementos of the kind, found their way on board the frigate.


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But in this trumpery reliquiarium I read only a sly mockery of that vulgar mistake, pseudo-dilettanteism.

It was really melancholy to see the beautiful gardens around the houses of the departed officers of the penal station, “wasting their sweetness on the desert air,” and reverting to the original wilderness. On this day, however, the luxuriant flowers did not bloom in vain; for the sailors, pillaging the gardens of the deserted villas, carried off to the ship whole arm-fulls of their produce to decorate the tables for their Christmas dinner on the morrow. And indeed never, I suppose, did the 'tween-decks of a man-of-war resemble half so much—

“A bower of roses by Bendemeer's stream,”

as did, on this festive occasion, that of H.M.S. Havannah, off a ruined convict station on a wild island of Tasmania.

Our tall overseer welcomed us to his house, or rather to that of the absent superintendent, which he was permitted to occupy, and gave those of the party who had not lately been in Europe a real treat by turning us loose into an acre of gooseberry and raspberry bushes, fruits unknown in New South Wales. The family consisted of three generations, the overseer's half-dozen children being perfect models of bloom—bloom quite as rare in New South Wales as the English berries above mentioned. The eldest generation was represented by a tall, stout, and dignified matron, with whom I had a long and pleasant talk about old England. In the course of the domestic revelations I elicited from this truly venerable


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lady, she now and then startled me by the expression—“Our connexion with royalty”—which seemed to weave itself unconsciously into the web of her discourse, and which jarred somewhat discordantly with the comfortless state of their abode. For want of a clew, my imagination took the liberty to follow up a fancied resemblance to the Guelph lineaments in the comely profile of the portly dame before me; and I was glancing towards two well-painted kit-cats—one representing a gentleman in powder, frill, blue coat, and buff vest; the other a boy in light blue tunic, hat, feather, and dog—and I was running “full cry” on the trail of my theory, when she at once “whipped me off,” by informing me that the first was her deceased husband, who was “page” to his Majesty George the——to the day of his death; the latter her son, the overseer. Poor people! It was clear they had seen better days.

Having passed a very pleasant and a very beautiful day on Maria Island, we repaired on board at 6 P.M., up anchored, sailed, dined, and slept, rocked by old Neptune, our marine cradle making bows to every point of the compass as she rode on the swell left by the departed southern gale, during a breathless night.

Christmas Day.—Our hopes of participating at Hobart Town in the joyful rites of the day were frustrated; for the light north-east airs that arose in the forenoon, carried us no further than Cape Pillar and Tasman Island—the former the extreme salient angle,


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the latter the uttermost outwork of Van Diemen's Land towards the boundless ocean of the south. I have passed this great festival of the Christian world in many diverse scenes and under diverse circumstances. Amid the old-fashioned hospitality and the ice and snow of old South Wales; in the Antipodal sultriness of New South Wales—(Nova Cambria, she should be styled;) I have joined in the service of the day on the brink of the Falls of Niagara—the drum-head, the reading desk, in the centre of a square of infantry—the thunder of the great cataract hymning in sublime diapason the omnipotence of God. I have eaten my Christmas dinner at the presbytère of a French Roman Catholic establishment—not the less jovially because the mess was composed of a grand vicaire and a score of prêtres and frères. I have passed the evening of this anniversary with a knot of Mussulman chiefs, gravely smoking our hookahs and sipping sherbet, while a group of Nautch girls danced and sang before us; have stood with uncovered head at the foot of one of New Zealand's volcanos—the fern our carpet, the sky our canopy—listening with a congregation of baptized Maoris to a tattooed teacher expounding in their own tongue the law of Christ on the anniversary of His birth. How seldom since boyhood have I celebrated it in the happy circle of my own quiet home! It was certainly never pre-revealed to me that I should spend one of the few Christmas days accorded to man, at sea off the southermost point of Van Diemen's Land!




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The crew of the frigate, as I have said, decorated their feast of roast beef and plum-pudding on this occasion with the ravished sweets of Maria Island. It was a singular and pleasant sight, passing down the various messes, to see the hungry, happy and hearty faces grinning through the steam of their holiday viands, and through garlands of gay coloured flowers and shrubs, lighted up with wax candles. The captain's table was not without its épergne, the ladies without bouquets, (for Mrs. and Miss Wynyard were of the party,) nor the gentlemen without a flower at their button-holes on this South Sea Christmas evening.

Cape Pillar and Tasman Island, close to which we passed, have a singular appearance, their southern extremities terminating in abrupt basaltic walls, whose tall upright columns bear a resemblance to the pipes of a huge cathedral organ. My sketch, wholly unworthy of so fine a subject, was taken through the porthole of my berth—a long thirty-two pounder disputing with me the somewhat circumscribed view.note

December 26th.—At early dawn we were rounding Cape Raoul, a twin of Cape Pillar; and the sea breeze setting in soon carried us up the river Derwent, or rather the magnificent arm of the sea and harbour into which that stream empties itself, and on the extreme north-western corner of which stands the city of Hobart Town.




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With studding-sails set alow and aloft the Havannah—like a swan swimming before the wind—glided past the Iron Pot lighthouse and between high and wooded shores, the splendid harbour gradually narrowing from seven or eight miles to one or two, until, at about eighteen miles from the Heads, she rounded a bluff promontory on the port side, and in an instant dashed into the midst of a little fleet of merchant vessels, in the snug inlet called Sulliven's Cove. The chain cable rattled out of the hawseholes in a volume of rusty dust, and the old ship swinging to her anchor brought up with her cabin windows looking, at no great distance, into those of Government-house. There was but one momentary interruption to her stately approach as observed from the shore; her feathers fluttered for an instant and were almost as quickly smoothed again. In relieving the man at the lead line, one of them fell overboard; the ship was thrown up into the wind so as to check her speed almost before the splash was heard; the young fellow held on to the line and was dragged for some distance under water; but he was soon noosed by his ready messmates, and spluttering out “all right,” was jerked on to the quarter-deck like a two-pound trout, none the worse for his ducking. “Did you think of the sharks, Bo?” asked a joker as he helped him down the hatch-way to be “overhauled” by the doctor. “Hadn't time,” gasped the other.

The harbour of Hobart Town is as commodious and


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safe as it is picturesque. The well-worn expression that all the navies in the world might ride in it would not be extravagantly applied to it. I am loth to yield my predilection for Sydney harbour which is quite unique in my eyes; but nautical men seem, I think, to prefer the Derwent. There is more space for beating, and no shoal like the “Sow and Pigs” lying across its jaws.

The land in which the port is framed is three times higher than that of Port Jackson, the soil better, the timber finer, and the grand back-ground to the town afforded by Mount Wellington—cloud-capped in summer, snow-capped in winter—close in its rear, gives the palm of picturesque beauty, beyond dispute, to Hobart Town and its harbour over its sister port and city. The land-tints disappointed me entirely—nothing but browns and yellows—no verdure—everything burnt up, except where an occasional patch of unripe grain lay like a green kerchief spread to dry on the scorched slopes.

The water frontage of the city does not afford a tenth part of the deep-water wharfage possessed by Sydney. The site of the town is healthy, well adapted for drainage, perhaps somewhat too near the storm-brewing gulleys of the mountain, from whence occasional gusts sweep down the streets with a suddenness and severity very trying to phthisical subjects.

The population may be about 20,000, convicts included, or considerably more than one-fourth of the whole


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population of the colony. The streets are wide and well laid out, nearly as dusty, and the footpaths as ill paved as those of Sydney, which latter defect, with so much convict power at hand, is disgraceful enough.

Some of the suburbs are very pretty, the style of architecture of the villas, their shady seclusion, and the trimness of their approaches and pleasure-grounds far surpassing those of the New South Wales capital. But more pleasing to my eyes, because more uncommon than the ordinary domiciliary snugness and smugness of the villas of the richer English, was a large quarter outskirting the town, consisting of some hundreds of cottages for the humbler classes, pleasantly situated on the slope of a hill, all or nearly all being separate dwellings, with a patch of neat garden attached, and with rose and vine-clad porches, reminding one of the South of England cotters' homes.

The extraordinary luxuriance of the common red geranium at this season makes every spot look gay; at the distance of miles the sight is attracted and dazzled by the wide patches of scarlet dotted over the landscape. The hedges of sweet-brier, both in the town-gardens and country-enclosures, covered with its delicate rose, absolutely monopolize the air as a vehicle for its peculiar perfume:—the closely-clipped mint-borders supplying the place of box, sometimes, however, overpower the sweet-brier, and every other scent of the gardens.

Every kind of English flower and fruit appears to


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benefit by transportation to Van Diemen's Land. Well-remembered shrubs and plants, to which the heat of Australia is fatal, thrive in the utmost luxuriance under this more southern climate. For five years I had lost sight of a rough but respected old friend—the holly, or at most I had contemplated with chastened affection one wretched little specimen in the Sydney Botanic Garden—labelled for the enlightenment of the Cornstalks. But in a Hobart Town garden I suddenly found myself in the presence of a full-grown holly, twenty feet high and spangled with red berries, into whose embrace I incontinently rushed, to the astonishment of a large party of the Brave and the Fair, as well as to that of my most prominent feature!

The fuchsia, the old original Fuchsia gracilis, attains here an extraordinary growth. Edging the beds of a fine garden near where I lived, there were hundreds of yards of fuchsia in bloom; and in the middle of the town I saw one day a young just-married military couple smiling, in all the plenitude of honey-lunacy, through a cottage-window wholly surrounded by this pretty plant, which not only covered the entire front of the modest residence, but reached above its eaves. And this incident forces on my mind a grievous consideration, however out of place here, namely, the virulent matrimonial epidemic raging lately among the junior branches of the army in this colony. “Deus pascit corvos,” the motto of a family of my acquaintance, conveys a soothing assurance


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to those determined on a rash but pleasant step. But who will feed half-a-dozen raven-ous brats is a question that only occurs when too late! At this moment the regimental mess at Hobart Town is a desert peopled by one or two resolute old bachelors and younger ones clever at slipping out of nooses, or possessing that desultory devotion to the sex which is necessary to keep the soldier single and efficient. Punch's laconic advice “to parties about to marry,” which I have previously adverted to, ought to be inserted in the standing orders and mess rules of every regiment in H.M.'s service.

Here, too, to get back to my botany, I renewed my acquaintance with the walnut and the filbert, just now ripe, the Spanish and horse-chestnuts, the lime-tree with its bee-beloved blossom, and the dear old hawthorn of my native land. As for cherry and apple-trees, and the various domesticated berry-bushes of the English garden, my regard for them was expressed in a less sentimental manner. I defy schoolboy or “midship-mite” to have outdone me in devotion to their products, however much these more youthful votaries may have beaten me in the digestion of them.

From the grounds of the hospitable friend who made his house my home during the fortnight I stayed at Hobart Town, the landscape was extremely beautiful and much more European than Australian in its character. Looking over villas and gardens and wooded undulations, with glimpses of the town through vistas of high trees,


  ― 156 ―
down upon the bright waters of the wide and hill-encircled harbour, I recalled to mind various kindred prospects in older countries,—none more like than a certain peep from a campagne near Lausanne over the village of Ouchi upon the broad expanse of “clear, placid Leman.” Behind the house, Mount Wellington, step by step, rises to the height of four thousand feet and upwards, throwing its grand shadow, as the sun declines, right across the city and harbour. Bristling with fine trees and brushwood, this range, which can never be cultivated, will always supply the town with fuel and timber for building.

If no other public act of the present Governor may gain him immortality,—which I am far from supposing,—the plan and establishment of an ice-house near the summit of the mountain will serve that purpose. It is the only one at the Antipodes. During the winter the “diadem of snow” which crowns the top is pilfered to a trifling degree, and the material well jammed into the ice-house. In the hot weather a daily supply is brought into town on a pack-horse—(it ought to be done by a self-acting tram-way)—early in the morning, and its sale and manufacture is permitted by general consent to be monopolized by the chief confectioner of the place, who sells it in the rough or in the smooth, reasonably enough, to those who can afford ice creams, hard butter, and cool champagne. This now respectable tradesman and citizen, once a prisoner of the Crown, enjoys, moreover,


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another important and lucrative monopoly. He is the cook as well as pastrycook of the Hobarton aristocracy,—the only cook in the place. I sat at not a few “good men's feasts” during my short stay here, and am not wrong, I think, in saying that from the Government-house table downwards, all were covered with productions of the same artiste. I recognised everywhere the soups, the patés; I ventured upon this entremêt, avoided that, with the certainty of prior knowledge; plunged without the shade of a doubt into the recesses of a certain ubiquitous vol-au-vent, perfectly satisfied that a vein of truffles would be found, which had not crossed 16,000 miles of ocean to be left uneaten, although their merits seemed to be unknown to some. The cook, it is needless to say, is making, if he has not already made, a considerable fortune.

It were well if those professions which administer merely to the body had alone fallen into the hands of persons bearing upon them the convict taint;—the reverse is, however, the case. What would an English mother think of admitting to her drawing-room or school-room, and entrusting the education of her daughter in music, dancing, or painting, to men who are or have been felons? Yet at present this is almost a necessity in Van Diemen's Land. Few or no accomplished freemen are likely to come to a penal colony in the hope of making a livelihood by imparting the more elegant branches of education. They are wrong, however, for


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if their expectations were moderate such men might realize handsome incomes.

A lady told me that she had been compelled to employ, for the purpose of teaching, or taking the portrait of her daughter—I forget which—a person convicted of manslaughter, and suspected of murder by poisoning. One of her sons usually remained in the room when this agreeable guest was present; but, on one occasion when the ladies happened to be alone with him, the mother was alarmed by seeing him rise and approach the window where she sat, with an open knife in his hand. She started from her chair with such visible affright, that, making her a polite bow and with a grim smile, he begged to assure that “he merely wanted to cut his pencil — not her throat!”

I had the honour of being a fellow-traveller and dining several times at a public table with a transported professor of one of those lighter sciences usually inflicted upon young ladies, whether or not they have any natural talent for them. What was the immediate cause of his exile from home my neighbour and informant could not tell me, “but I believe it was the gentleman's crime—forgery,” said he. Be it as it may, this “gentleman” was in excellent and full practice, although in this hemisphere, it was said, he had repaid the indulgence of the Government and the confidence of one of his most respectable patrons, as well as one of the kindest friends


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the convict class ever possessed, by debauching the child entrusted to his tuition.

In the streets of Hobart Town the stranger sees less of the penal features of the place than might be expected. Possibly every other person he meets on the wharves and thoroughfares may have been transported; for the population of the island has been thus centesimally divided:—free immigrants and born in the colony, 46 per cent.; bond and emerged into freedom, 51 per cent.; military, Aborigines, &c. 3 per cent. But there is of course no outward distinction of the classes except in the prisoners under probation, who are clothed in the degraded grey, or grey and yellow, according to their crimes and character. And these men, being either confined within walls, or in distant stockades, or being marched early in the morning to their place of work and back again at sunset, fall but little under the observation of the public. Now and then may be seen, indeed, the painful spectacle of a band of silent, soured, and scowling ruffians—some harnessed to, others pushing at, and another driving a hand cart, with clanking chains, toiling and sweating in their thick and dusty woollens along the streets—each marked with his number and the name of his station in large letters on his back and on his cap. Here a gang may be seen labouring with shovel and pick on the roadside, or sitting apart breaking up the metal. There is no earnestness or cheerfulness in compulsory labour; and accordingly, however active and ruthless these


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fellows may have shown themselves in the commission of violence against their fellow-men, they are most merciful to the macadam, only throwing a little temporary energy into their action when the appearance of a carriage or a horseman suggests the possible advent of some person whose duty or pleasure it may be to keep them up to their work. As for the convict sub-overseer, who, one of themselves, is appointed without pay to coerce the rest—no very active control can be expected from him.

To the colony the amount of solid benefit performed by these slow, but sure and costless operatives, on the roads, bridges, and other public works, must have been, and still be, immense; even where, as is sometimes the case, the settlers of a district have to provide tools and subsistence for the gangs employed in the improvement of their locality. It is only this powerful application of penal slave-labour, and the vast Government expenditure accompanying it, that have given to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land a rapidity of progress and a precocity in importance that leave the march of other colonies comparatively very far behind.

But to the Mother Country the cost of creating nations by the thews and sinews of her expelled, but by her still maintained, criminals, must be enormous. The result of their labour compared with the outlay would be pitiful indeed, but for the concurrent advantages—namely, the annual riddance of a huge per-centage of


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rogues from her shores and from their old haunts, their punishment and possible reformation, and the creation of new dependencies of the Crown, and, therein, new markets for England's exports. The clearing of an acre of land by a chain gang, under bad surveillance, may cost, and indeed has often cost the Home Government ten times as much as would have been paid to free labourers on the spot; but the privilege of shooting so much moral rubbish upon other and distant premises is cheaply bought at such a rate. It is cheaper at any rate than a revolution; and it is an old newspaper story that the free convicts of Paris bore no unimportant part in former as well as the late overthrow of the Government of France. Van Diemen's Land, however, like New South Wales, (if one may judge from the exertions made by a tolerably influential section of the inhabitants,) is striving to shake off the system, which, incubus though it be, warmed her into life.

Looking at the question from the station of a spectator, I must say it seems to me rather an unreasonable expectation on the part of those truant Englishmen, who, well knowing the penal structure of Van Diemen's Land as a colony, voluntarily settled there, that at the mere signification of their pleasure the Imperial Government should be compelled to raze in a moment the great insular penitentiary erected at such prodigious cost, and hand over its site to the adventurers whose tastes and consciences have so suddenly become squeamish about


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convict-contact. Their grandsons or great-grandsons might, perhaps, prefer the petition without incurring a charge of presumption; but the present incumbents have no such claim—unless, indeed, they have received an imperial pledge to that effect. Like the “Needy Knife-grinder,”

“I do not want to meddle With politics, Sir.”

The colonists know their own business best, and it is none of mine: but it appears to me that their aspirations are somewhat premature. The ground-floor of their social edifice has been built of mud. Let it at least have time to harden before they attempt to superimpose a structure of marble!

December 30th.—It is curious to find oneself in a country with a capital containing 20,000 inhabitants, a harbour full of shipping, and teeming with evidences of wealth and comfort, and yet without a history; that is, without a manual, a hand-book, or indeed any publication suited to the reference of a travelling stranger. Mr. Murray must make a long arm and supply this deficiency. In vain I perambulated the libraries and stationers—in vain searched the book-shelves of the few residents I was acquainted with. It was with some difficulty that I obtained the loan of an old almanack—Ross's almanack—eleven years old. One day, indeed, I espied in the window of a shop the title, “History of Tasmania,” on the back of what appeared to be a well


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got up two-volume octavo work. It was only the husk, however, the empty cover, no more, of a work that had not yet seen the light. Subsequently I encountered the author in a steam-boat, and was by him kindly permitted to look over one of his well-written and diligently-collated volumes.

Before pressing my reader to accompany me further into the island, I will, if he pleases, make him a partner in such information as I could glean regarding earlier events in the history of the colony; whereof, however, I do not propose troubling him with more than a meagre summary.

It appears that in 1803, fifteen years after the first settlement of New South Wales, to which place some 6,000 or 7,000 persons had been transported, and which had suffered under the horrors of famine, insurrection, and other troubles, it was found desirable to relieve Sydney of a portion of the pressure, and to disperse the more turbulent of the prisoners.

Van Diemen's Land, from its salubrious climate, insulated position, and its paucity of natives, being considered highly eligible for the erection of a penal establishment, an officer of the navy, with a body of troops and convicts, was despatched there with that view, and in August of that year landed and camped his party on the eastern bank of the river Derwent, at a spot called by him Rest-down, since abbreviated to Risdon, where there is now a ferry across the stream.




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Early in 1804, an expedition, which had left England in 1802 for the purpose of forming a penal settlement at Port Phillip on the southern coast of New Holland, not finding water there, removed to this island, and felicitously enough fixed upon Sulliven's Cove for their location; where the first Lieut.-Governor of Van Diemen's Land, Colonel Collins, landed with a few officers, civil and military, forty-four non-commissioned officers and privates of the royal marines, and 367 male prisoners; and where a settlement was founded and called Hobart Town, after the then Secretary for the colonies. In the same year the river Tamar, which on the northern coast of the island discharges itself into Bass's Straits, was surveyed, and a small party of the 102d regiment from Sydney, under Colonel Patterson, formed a convict station near its mouth. Launceston, situated about forty miles inland on the Tamar, is the next large town to the capital, containing at present about 7,000 inhabitants.

Thus Van Diemen's Land is a child of Botany Bay, born when the latter was still in her teens. The babe of grace continued to thrive, although very nearly starved to death in its earlier days while still at nurse under the elder colony—kangaroo flesh being then greedily bought up at 1s. 6d. per pound, and sea-weed (laver, I suppose) becoming a fashionable vegetable for want of better food. After about three years, however, cattle and sheep were introduced into the island in considerable


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numbers, and were found to flourish exceedingly whereever the most moderate degree of care was bestowed upon them. Tasmania is a more musical alias adopted by the island. It has been given in titular distinction to the first bishop, my excellent and accomplished friend Dr. Nixon, and will doubtless be its exclusive designation when it shall have become a free nation.

The ports being closed against any but king's ships, the colony received but few recruits except by successive drafts of doubly-distilled rogues from New South Wales. After a few years, however, the interdict against commerce was removed. Many military officers serving there settled down on grants of land. A considerable band of emigrants was brought by the Government from Norfolk Island, when that place was selected for a penal settlement. Freed prisoners increased and multiplied, and spread themselves over the interior; but no direct emigration from the British isles occurred before 1821, when a census being taken, the white population was found to amount to 7,000 souls. The live stock consisted of 350 horses, 35,000 horned cattle, and 170,000 sheep; acres in cultivation nearly 15,000.

In 1824 a supreme court of judicature was established from Home—judges having thitherto been sent from Sydney to hold occasional sessions at Hobart Town. In the same year, having attained her majority, she petitioned for release from the filial ties connecting her with Sydney; and in 1825 she was by imperial fiat erected into an independent colony.




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The progress of the island has been surprisingly rapid; although, like New South Wales, its prosperity as a colony has been checquered by occasional reverses, referable perhaps to similar causes—namely, excessive speculation, rash trading on fictitious capital, extravagance in living, the common failing of parvenus to wealth, bad seasons, and, in its early days, the fearful depredations of white bush-rangers and of the Aborigines. Money must have been plentiful in 1835, when a piece of land at Hobart Town sold for 3,600l. per acre!

The blacks, never considerable in numbers, and ferocious in their conduct more on account of outrages received by them from the brutal convict population, than by nature, were gradually got rid of—chiefly no doubt by indiscriminate slaughter in fights about their women with bush-rangers and others, and by the determined steps taken by the local government for their capture and compulsory location in some secluded spot, where their small remnant might be prevented from collision with the Christian usurpers of their country. At one time a sort of battue on a grand scale was undertaken by the Lieut.-Governor, not for the destruction and extirpation of the unfeathered black-game, as has been sometimes unjustly supposed—but for the purpose of driving them into a corner of the island and so making prisoners of them. Not only red-coats and police, but gentry and commonalty, enrolled militia-wise, were brought into the field on this occasion. A grand movable cordon was formed or attempted to be formed across the whole


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breadth of the land, and was designed to sweep the native tribes before it into the “coigne of vantage” prescribed by the inventor of the plot. It was fishing for minnows with salmon nets! The cunning blackeys soon slipped through the meshes, and intense confusion and perhaps some little fright arose when it was discovered that the intended quarry had got into the rear of the line of beaters, and was making free with the supplies! This grand extrusion plan failed, then;—but 30 or 40,000l. of public money was disseminated through the provinces, and a good many civic Major Sturgeons got a smattering of “marching and countermarching” that they will never forget, and that may be of service in the next Tasmanian war. The poor Aborigines were not the less, in course of time, all killed, driven away, or secured. Those who fell into the hands of Government were humanely treated, fed, clothed, provided with medical aid, and located in a sequestered spot where they might sit down and await—and where they are now comfortably and most of them corpulently awaiting, their certain destiny—extinction.

The present native settlement is in Oyster Cove in D'Entrecastreaux's Channel, an arm of Storm Bay, the mouth of the Derwent. In 1835, the numbers were 210. In 1842, but 54. In 1848, according to statistics published by the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land, the numerical strength of the natives had fallen to thirty-eight—viz. twelve married couples, and three


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males and eleven females unmarried. Thanks to idleness and full rations, many of them, unlike the wild blacks, have grown immensely fat—although not fair, nor, as I have just shown, quite forty!

Among the black ravagers of the rural settlers the most ferocious was a native of Australia surnamed Mosquito, who had been driven from New South Wales on account of some outrages committed there. In due time, however, he was caught and hanged.




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Chapter VI.

HISTORICAL NOTES—FAMOUS BUSH-RANGERS—MICHAEL HOWE—FEATS AND DEATH—CENSUS—PROSPECT IN STORM BAY—ROADS—A REFORMED PRISONER—DRIVE TO NEW NORFOLK—THE HOBART TOWN HUNT—THE SETTLEMENT—SMITH O'BRIEN'S RESIDENCE—HUMAN MENAGERIES—THE FEMALE FACTORY—A LITTER OF BABIES—REGIMEN FOR THE REFRACTORY—PUSS IN PRISON—PRISON EMPLOYMENTS—NEW YEAR'S BALL—DANCING, INFANTINE AND ADULT—GAIETY AND HOSPITALITY.

BUSH-RANGING commenced in 1813, but was suppressed pretty vigorously. In 1824 this practice had again attained a fearful height. The insecurity of life and property, the murders, burnings of houses, stacks and crops, the robbery and destruction of live-stock, must have seriously impeded the advance of the colony. The military officers and men took an active part in hunting down the most desperate ringleaders, and some of them became famous as gallant and successful thief-takers. Martial law made short work with those who were captured.

Every country has its great man—hero, poet, or philosopher. Van Diemen's Land has, appropriately enough, its great bush-ranger and desperado to boast of. Michael Howe, without dispute, and without disparagement


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to other public characters who, on more reputable grounds may deserve a memoir, is the historical great man of this island. His biography, as drawn up by Mr. Syme, is calculated for insertion here, for it extends over six eventful years of a life only too long, and twenty-four pages of letterpress. A merchant-seaman, afterwards a man-of-war's-man, a deserter, and a highwayman in England, he escaped the gallows only by a legal flaw, and was transported to Van Diemen's Land. Being assigned as servant to a settler, he soon “took to the bush,” joining an armed gang of twenty-eight run-away convicts, of whom he became second in command under one Whitehead, a desperado of the first water. This band became the terror of the country. They had good intelligence of any armed force in pursuit of them, or of any property open to pillage; for the low settlers and convict-stockmen, either from fear or inclination, connived at and assisted these outlaws.

Whitehead being shot in an attack upon a house where a party of the 45th regiment were lying in ambush, Howe became the leader, and he maintained his authority by his superiority in mental and bodily vigour, and by cutting off those of his followers who stood in his way. By stealing horses, and performing flying night-marches, emulative of Dick Turpin's famous ride to York, they pounced upon unprepared victims, sometimes a hundred miles from the spot where they had been heard of a day or two before.




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Proclamations, offers of pardon and passages to England, rewards of money, strenuous exertions by the troops, the police, and the loyal inhabitants, treachery among themselves, the bullet and the gibbet, gradually thinned the ranks of Michael Howe's villainous retainers. One day, hotly pursued by a party of the 46th, and accompanied only by a faithful black girl, who had been the partner of his perils for some years, this “great man,”—as the author of Jonathan Wild styles his hero—finding that she retarded his flight, fired at and wounded the poor creature, who, falling, was captured by the soldiers, the ruffian escaping only by throwing away his arms and his knapsack. Putting aside the brutality of this act, its impolicy was very soon apparent, for she, who had hitherto followed his steps with the fidelity of a spaniel, now tracked them with the fierce sagacity of the blood-hound; and, acting as a scout to the military, so harassed the flying and solitary bandit, that he resolved to surrender, on terms, to the authorities. His terms were accepted, and, giving himself up to an officer of the 46th, he was imprisoned at Hobart Town. This was his second surrender to Government. On the first occasion he very quickly broke his arrest, and was off to the woods again.

Meanwhile the gang had been reinforced to about twenty men, and several sharp encounters took place between them and the soldiers, in one of which an officer was badly wounded. Howe gave but little of the useful


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information that he had promised to Government, and yearning for a life of crime and excitement, he once more escaped to the bush; and, once more, highway and house robberies, cattle lifting, extortion of money and arms by threatening notices, burnings, violence and murder were rife in the land. At this time Michael Howe, in his correspondence with the authorities and others, styled His Majesty's representative the Governor of the Town—himself the Governor of the Rangers. A hundred guineas reward was upon his head and upon that of a brother bandit named Watts, and eighty and fifty guineas were offered for the live or dead bodies of seven or eight rogues of inferior degree. In course of time all were killed or taken, excepting the two first. Watts then resolved to sacrifice his comrade, and with a shepherd, named Drewe, who had been on friendly terms with Howe, laid a plan for his capture. Accordingly, at daylight one morning these men, well armed, approached the spot where Michael harboured. Drewe concealed his musket in a thicket. Watts coo-eyd, and Howe came up—but the villains so distrusted each other as to stipulate that the priming of their guns should be knocked out simultaneously. While employed in making a fire to cook some food the two traitors flung themselves upon Howe, threw him down, tied his hands, and disarmed him of his gun and two knives. They then marched their prisoner—worth 50l. a-piece to them—towards Hobart Town—Watts in front, Drewe behind him, with


  ― 173 ―
loaded arms. He was snug enough one would have thought; but, suddenly, Howe, who possessed immense muscular strength, snapped his bonds like tinder, and with a concealed dirk stabbed Watts in the back. He fell, and Michael, seizing his firelock, shot Drewe through the head. The wounded accomplice contrived to escape and hide himself in the bush before the arch-ranger of His Majesty's colonial woods and forests could re-load, for the purpose—as he afterwards said—“of finishing him.” But his own race was well-nigh run. An additional hundred guineas were offered for the death or capture of the robber and murderer. His existence was now like that of a wild beast. Solitary and savage, clothed in Kangaroo skins, and overgrown with hair like another Orson, he obtained food and ammunition, his only requirements, by robbing distant shepherds' huts. In spite of the high rewards few relished the idea of risking an encounter, either single or double-handed, with such an antagonist.

At length a Kangaroo hunter, named Warburton, and one Worrall, a transport mutineer of the Nore, concocted and carried into effect a plot for taking him. A private soldier, named Pugh, a determined fellow, was selected to assist them. Warburton was to induce Howe, by a promise of a supply of ammunition, to come to his hut, where the two others lay concealed. Driven by want, but under strong suspicions of foul play, he entered the door with musket cocked—observing which Pugh


  ― 174 ―
instantly fired. “Is that your game?” said Howe coolly, and returning the soldier's shot he ran for his life. Neither shot had taken effect, nor was one fired by the mutineer at the flying outlaw better aimed. Howe was trying to load his piece as he ran (he was a muff to have only one barrel!) when his two foes overtook him, and brought him to bay. A furious though unequal combat with clubbed muskets then took place, and resulted in the death of this famous brigand, who, having his skull beaten in by the blows of his two powerful assailants, dropped and expired without a word or a groan. Thus fell Michael Howe, the bush-ranger, and with him the practice of bush-ranging itself, in Van Diemen's Land. Lest man's natural admiration of brute courage should incite a feeling of pity for his fate, I will close this notice with one sentence of his history—“during his long career of guilt, Michael Howe was never known to perform one humane act.”

In 1840, when transportation to New South Wales was discontinued, Van Diemen's Land, with its distant satellite, Norfolk Island, became the only place in these seas to which British felons might be removed under sentence.

The beauty of the climate—perhaps the finest in the world,—the adaptation of the country to sheep and cattle-farming, its fair share of arable land, its favourable position for trading with the neighbouring colonies of South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, and even


  ― 175 ―
New Zealand, together with the advantages accruing from convict-labour, have gradually drawn a considerable population of free persons to Tasmania.

In 1822, as I have shown, the census gave a population of 7,000 souls. In 1842, it had increased to 59,000; and on the 31st of December, 1847, it had reached a total of 70,164. The increase has been, and will be, comparatively slower than in other countries, until the great disproportion of the sexes has been remedied; but this can hardly take place, at least as far as the prisoner-class is concerned, unless fair delinquents intrude upon the province of the rougher sex, and take out diplomas in highway robbery, housebreaking, and other hitherto masculine branches of crime, as certain American ladies, I understand, have done in those of professional science.

In the census of 1847, of the aggregate population (70,164,) 47,828, or 68 per cent. were males; 22,336, or 32 per cent. females. Amongst the Free immigrants and the Native-born the sexes are pretty equal. Of those who have become free by servitude, the males exceed the females in the ratio of three to one. Among the actual convict-class the disparity is very great; “for of the ticket-of-leave holders the males are five to one; of the prisoners in Government employ eight to one; and of pass-holders in service also eight to one. In other words, the males are 29½ per cent. and the females only five per cent.; making a difference between the


  ― 176 ―
sexes of 24½ per cent. in this class of the population.”note

“On the 31st December, 1848, the convict-population was 25,459, of whom 40 per cent. held tickets-of-leave, 48 per cent. were pass-holders, and 12 per cent. were under probation or sentence.” Thus 88 per cent. were afloat in comparative freedom among the unconvicted people. The proportion of deaths among the prisoner-class was in this year less than one per cent.

The total imports of the island in 1848 exceeded the exports by 17½ per cent.; but, as the “Observations” from which these extracts are culled point out,—“looking at the disparity in value between the total imports and exports of the year, no apprehension need be entertained of any monetary derangement occurring, so long as so effectual a counterpoise is afforded by British expenditure. The disbursements in 1848 for Commissariat, Convict, Military, and Ordnance services in the colony, amounted to nearly a quarter of a million sterling!”

In 1822 there were only 350 horses in the colony, 33,000 horned cattle, and 170,000 sheep. In 1848 there were 17,169 horses, 85,485 horned cattle, and 1,752,000 sheep. The commissariat contract prices in that year were, wheat 4s. 2d. per bushel of 60 lbs.; flour 10l. 8s. 8d. per ton; fresh meat 2½d. per lb.; vegetables 5s. 7d. per 100 lbs.




  ― 177 ―

December 30th.—Rode this day to Mount Nelson, a signal station some five miles down the harbour. The road does not deserve the name. The tract of hill and dale it passes through is wild enough, and the prospect from the summit where the signalizing apparatus stands cannot be excelled in extent and beauty. Storm Bay, with its isles, isthmuses, and peninsulas, its splendid frame of half-wooded, half-cleared uplands, embossed with bold promontories; the city, the harbour, the glittering river, are all below and around the spectator in a perfect panorama. Aloof and aloft from the lower world the cloud-capped Mount Wellington may truly be said to “preside o'er the scene;” and Mount Nelson, ranking next in elevation, may very fairly be called upon to officiate as vice at this grand banquet of the picturesque. The common practice of bestowing upon pre-adamite hills the names of living, modern, and often vulgar personages, ruffles extremely my sense of the fitness of things. These two mountains, grand though they be, borrow dignity from their titles!

I believe the scenic features of Port Jackson to be at least as fine as those of Storm Bay; but there is no locus standi for the spectator at all comparable with many points round the basin of Hobart Town. There is perhaps no ground near Sydney of a greater elevation than 400 feet.

In the rides and drives for promenading purposes Hobart Town has greatly the advantage of Sydney.


  ― 178 ―
The road through the Government domain and farm, past Cornelian Bay, the Botanical Gardens, the old hulk Anson, 74, degraded to a female prison, and round by the Bishop's pretty residence to Risdon Ferry, presents one good direction for a canter, or for “riding” on wheels for those who prefer dowagering to horse exercise. Returning homewards you get perhaps the best possible view of Mount Wellington, with his staff of minor hills, —Knocklofty, &c.—around him; the pretty village of Newtown, with its handsome Orphan School situated in a park; and numerous neat villas snuggling away behind high hawthorn hedges and orchards, under his broad shadow.

The drive to New Norfolk, of which more anon, rubs the rust off one's Home recollections in the most pleasant manner. Brown's River, too, about eight or nine miles down the harbour, where there is some good land thrown into cultivation, affords an object for equestrianism. This road, which was created and is constantly nourished by convict labour, follows the outline of the bay,—sometimes running along the beach, at others creeping round the steep face or sweeping round the level back of some headland, diving through a hill, or striding over a gully. A slice borrowed from the superfluity of a mountain, and bestowed upon the hungry maw of a ravine, is a trifling work when half a dozen hundred hands can be thrown upon it by a word from the Governor. On my way to Brown's River I passed


  ― 179 ―
two gangs of these British Helots. The men of one lot were labouring at a cutting; the others were marching, to the music of their chains, towards the town. The poor creatures touched their caps humbly as our party rode by.

Some of the agricultural and garden lands on this road were as fine as I ever saw,—the colour of the mould being precisely that of black rappee. There were such fine crops of potatoes and onions in the alluvial hollows, and such fat sheep on the hill sides, as made one involuntarily think of Irish stew. The Brown's River potato is as well known in Australia as it is in Tasmania. In the production of this root the elder colony is surpassed by both Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand.

Among many pretty and sterling looking country homesteads looking over the bay, one was pointed out to me, somewhat superior to the rest, as the property of an emancipated prisoner, now worth about 1,200l. a-year, who, it was said, had received fifty lashes for some breach of penal discipline committed while labouring in chains on the very plot of land which he afterwards purchased and lived upon “like a gentleman!” What were the feelings, I wonder, of the ironed gang I had just met, and what were those of the low-paid free overseer in charge of them, respectively, as they passed day after day the handsome domain of the former felon, —who, had he never fallen from honesty to dishonour,


  ― 180 ―
had never, in all probability, risen from poverty to wealth!

December 31, 1850.—This morning, soon after sunrise—and a heavenly morning it was—I drove, with three companions, in a hired carriage to New Norfolk, a village and district, the former of which is about twenty-three miles from Hobart Town. The road, which is a perfect specimen of Macadamization, runs the whole distance along the right bank of the Derwent, whose bed is compressed by high lands into a narrow channel, leaving no great room for cultivation, except in a few flatter spots. The hills, indeed, on the left shore are still almost entirely covered with the primeval forest. The population seems to cling to the highway side. There were many solid looking farms and comfortable residences, with occasional deserted clusters of huts, the temporary stockades of the road-gangs. There were pretty fuchsia and rose-clad cottages, with gardens full of flowers and fruit, the yellow Cape broom and scarlet geranium almost smothering the little tenements. The wheat and oat crops looked sickly, the barley in better health. The season had been unusually and ruinously dry, not only here, but in the neighbouring colonies.

The “deadwood” fence is one almost peculiar to Van Diemen's Land. It is nothing more than the trees of the clearing piled into a sort of wooden wall. In New South Wales the stumps are generally left standing till they rot, the top timber is split into rails, and the refuse


  ― 181 ―
burnt. Here scarcely any stumps remain on the face of the field, a praiseworthy point in Tasmanian agriculture. Another and lighter fence is something like the snake-fence of Canada, but, in a hunting point of view, not so formidable.

One of our companions entertained us with spirited accounts of the sport enjoyed with a pack of English hounds, kept by a gentleman of New Norfolk, who has regular fixtures for hunting round Hobart Town in the winter season. The game is the bush kangaroo, a small but fleet animal; and the pack, which I had an opportunity of inspecting, are a rough and ready little lot of beagles, quick and fierce, and well adapted for a hilly and wooded country. A blank day is never known. The runs are not very severe as far as duration goes; but there is no time, it appears, for “coffee-housing” when the game is once unkennelled. “You must throw away your cigar, and set to work,” said my informant, fancying himself in his saddle, “or you will be nowhere after the first five minutes.” When the kangaroo can get his head down hill, the pace becomes very severe. The present Lieut.-Governor is not seldom the first in the field during a quick burst, and is said to have no objection to four or five feet of stiff timber.

One of the most charming peculiarities of Tasmanian cultivated scenery is the sweetbrier hedges. To-day we were driving nearly the whole distance between them. In a great many places they were ten and twelve feet


  ― 182 ―
high and the same in width, spangled all over and scenting the air with 50,000 little delicate roses. I noticed one or two thickets of this plant in the corners of enclosures, which must have been forty or fifty feet in diameter, and twelve feet in height. Here and there appeared gardens and orchards “pinked all over,” like Gargantua's haut de chausses, with glowing fruits, and surrounded with hedges of hawthorn the like of which I never saw before, even in England. In Australia the plant is unknown, except as a delicate and rare exotic. These hedges were twenty and twenty-five feet high, and perfectly impervious to man and beast. Dick Christian himself could make nothing of such a rasping fence; “Sir Carnaby Jenks, of the Blues,” with his fifteen stone and three hundred guinea horse, would be pounded by a bullfincher so tall and strong. Nothing, in short, and nobody, except a British schoolboy bent on robbing the orchard within it, would ever contemplate the possibility of getting through. The leaf is particularly large and shining, and would be invaluable in England for the home manufacturing of tea!

There were hop plantations too—the most beautiful of crops in my mind; infinitely more beautiful than the vineyard, and almost as suggestive of Bacchanalian images. One patch of this festive plant lying slopingly towards the river, I was told, had been lately sold for 100l. an acre.

Near the margin of sedges on the banks of the


  ― 183 ―
Derwent, we saw several of that species of water-bird called the Native-hen—quite new to me as a sportsman. It is a rail, nearly as large as a cock pheasant. Wild ducks swam in clouds on the wide estuaries.

The little township of New Norfolk is delightfully situated on the highest navigable part of the Derwent; the tide flowing up to the handsome wooden bridge which, erected by private enterprise, here spans the stream—about as wide at this point as the Thames at Windsor. The settlement derives its name from the compulsory pilgrims of Norfolk Island, who, when Government decided upon converting that “gem of the sea” into a penal settlement—a hell upon earth, by all accounts!—were located in farms upon this pleasant spot—a fair compensation, one would suppose, for that harbourless and inaccessible, though lovely island.

Government Cottage, the rural retreat of Her Majesty's representative, stands amid wheat fields and gardens, on a turn of the river just below the town: a high wooded mountain, abutting in a perpendicular wall upon the opposite bank, frowns down upon the unpretending little vice-regal farm. Some fine hop-gardens are spread round the foot of the gentle eminence on which the cottage stands. The premises are let at present, because, I suppose, the ruler of so troublesome a people can have no leisure for retirement. Standing on the bridge I sketched the Government Cottage, and then, facing about, without any other change of position, the pretty


  ― 184 ―
Home-like landscape up the river, including a feature interesting at least to Irish readers, namely, the present residence of Mr. Smith O'Brien. I could have introduced this gentleman as a figure in the foreground, for he passed twice under my pencil, and he is by no means a bad-looking fellow for his years; but I preferred a couple of cows as more innocently bucolic in a rural landscape.

I am happy to give my personal testimony to the excellent bodily health, on the last day of the year 1850, of this political delinquent, who, having at length accepted his ticket-of-leave—or licence to bestow himself where he pleases within the district of New Norfolk—enjoys, as I have said before, very much the same amount of liberty as the soldier, the parochial minister, the office-man, nay even the Governor on whom he and his friends have lavished so much abuse; for, like the prisoner, neither his Excellency nor the other functionaries can quit their posts without the special sanction of higher authority.

To say that he is without hope—that sheet anchor of human existence—is a piece of imbecility. Nor do I believe it is true. Were I in his position I should cherish the strongest hopes of some day receiving the pardon of my Sovereign, and of becoming one of the most faithful and loyal of her subjects. Why does he not send for his family to join him? He complains that “it would be the greatest injustice to his children to


  ― 185 ―
bring them to a country, the present condition of which he will not trust himself to describe.”

There are many and excellent schools in the island, perhaps more than in any country in the world of equal population—not less than a hundred private establishments, without counting the various Government schools. There is a paid inspector of schools to “whip-in” the minor pedagogues, and to see that they do their duty—as the drum-major does with the minor drummers on certain occasions of military discipline. This is an appointment which might be beneficially introduced in older countries.

On the whole, for a man under a commuted sentence of death, and whose head, had he lived and so acted a hundred years back, would have rolled on the scaffold; on the whole, I cannot think this gentleman has valid cause for complaint. With an allowance from Home sufficient for every material comfort, a splendid climate, beautiful scenery, and no want of society—for he is kindly received and very well spoken of by many of his neighbours—he is clearly better off than he would be in the occupation of furnished apartments in the Tower; and I cannot but hope that by this time he has revoked his opinion that “death alone can effect a deliverance from the calamities of his lot.”

Elwin's hotel, the little rural inn where Mr. O'Brien at present lodges, is prettily situated on the left bank of the Derwent, amid fruit, flower, and hop-gardens, with


  ― 186 ―
a neighbourhood of well-cultivated farms, backed by wooded hills. It may be likened to a villa on the upper Thames, with a climate of eternal summer and autumn.

As for ourselves we had a capital breakfast of fish, flesh, and fowl—although the famous Derwent mullet was not forthcoming—at a comfortable hotel near the bridge; and, since I am on the subject of refection, we enjoyed a light lunch of biscuits and champagne at the pretty residence of the Master of the Hounds, above mentioned, in a drawing-room beautifully furnished and lighted with a pleasant demi-jour through the plants and flowers of a conservatory—a feature in domestic architecture much in vogue in this country, and strangely enough scarcely known in Australia—where the glare is excessive.

New Norfolk has ceased to be a military station. I had therefore nothing professional to do there.

The Tasmanians are very proud of their public buildings, and the stranger is pressed to visit churches, chapels, court-houses, schools, hospitals, and prisons, as a matter of course. It certainly appeared to me that the prevailing style of architecture in this colony is superior to that of its neighbours.

I was invited to inspect some of the public edifices of New Norfolk, but not having much taste that way, my visits were confined to the really handsome and well-conducted Lunatic asylum, where some hundreds of patients, male and female, free and bond, are accommodated.


  ― 187 ―
I could relate some curious details of its inmates, but they would be, almost without exception, painful. Some persons have a natural bent towards mad-houses, penitentiaries, and other human menageries—a morbid craving for the excitement caused by such sights, without one worthy motive. Whether a boyish visit to the Lancaster Lunatic Asylum established a panic on such like subjects, or whether the distaste is innate, I know not; but I well know that when the shame of remaining ignorant of these things has conquered my aversion to look closely into them, it has always been a blessed moment, and my breath has come more freely, when I emerged into the open and healthy world again from one of these catacombs of the quick.

Howard visited prisons with the pious intent of exposing their abuses and ameliorating the condition of their inmates. Everything is “model” now—so, of course, an ignorant and uninfluential stranger like myself could not expect to find or amend a flaw.

There is another favourite species of exhibition, for which I entertain a special aversion—namely, what is called a show house, where one has to pay a pound to a fat housekeeper for dragging him through a mile of bedrooms and dressing-rooms—and hearing rigmarole common-places about my lord and my lady. There are only two classes to which such establishments can be really interesting, namely to their owners and their—guests.

All the externals of Van Diemen's Land are so


  ― 188 ―
agreeable to the senses, that the mere pleasure or health-seeking tourist, resolved on not looking beneath the surface of things, might range through the beautiful island without the faintest suspicion that it is in fact nothing more or less than a huge gaol, in which, contrary to ordinary prison practice, other tenants besides prisoners are permitted to dwell. However, whatever my inclination might be, it was my duty. I thought, not to hoodwink myself into the belief that a penal colony was a paradise; and, accordingly, during the short period of my stay in the country I embraced every opportunity of seeing its peculiar establishments. Accompanying an officer, whose business it was to make periodical inspections of the several institutions, I visited convict penitentiaries, lunatic asylums, hospitals, probation stations, and though last, not the least displeasing, the female convict factory at the Cascades.

The twenty-three miles to Norfolk and back to the capital forms a very pleasant jaunt. The hotel, like those in Paramatta, is the temporary resort of the newly-married Hobartians. We got a glimpse of a loving couple cooing away the honey half-moon, which is all that men of business can afford to devote to Hymen, here as elsewhere. Such was the goodness of the roads and of our hack horses, that we found no difficulty in getting back to dinner at Hobart Town.

Jan. 1, 1851.—There was, it must be admitted, nothing remarkably festive, for the first day of the new year, in


  ― 189 ―
visiting a female penitentiary and lying-in establishment! Such was, nevertheless, my morning's employment.

The Cascades factory is seated at the foot of Mount Wellington, wedged in a gully between high hills—a bad situation, except as regards the supply of water, which is plentiful. The buildings are enclosed within a high wall, with barred gates and vigilant turnkeys. In short, it is a gaol in every respect according to the respective deserts of the inmates. We were received at the entrance by the matron, a dignified lady who looked quite capable of maintaining strict discipline whether in a public or merely a domestic establishment. From her hands we received, in due military form, “the morning state” of her garrison—which, as it appeared, amounted to 730 women and 130 infants. In turn we visited the several courts, solitary cells, the hospital, refectories, dormitories, and lavatories. In one yard was formed up for our inspection, in hollow square, seventy or eighty women—open to be hired as servants. “These,” as we were informed, “were the better conducted, and the pregnant women.” In another court were a strong division of more troublesome and notorious characters, who were under restraint and not permitted to go into service. The uniform, a very unbecoming one to the person, however becoming to the station of the wearer, is a white mob cap and a dress of grey duffle. As we passed down the ranks the poor creatures saluted us with a running fire of curtseys, and a dead silence was everywhere


  ― 190 ―
observed. In a large exercise yard, with an open shed in the centre to afford shelter from the sun, we found some sixty women, with as many babies from two years to as many days old—women and children all silent! One would have thought them all deaf and dumb. Never was I before in so numerous a nursery;—I hope I never may again! The children were mostly healthy and pretty. As for their mothers—there must, I suppose, be a good deal in dress as an element of beauty—for I scarcely saw a tolerably pretty woman in seven hundred. Some of the females, I found, were the hired nurses of the establishment—not the mothers of the children. Of these latter many, it appears, merely enter the factory to deposit their “kid forlorn,” and, when sufficiently recovered, return to service in the town or country within the district to which their ticket or pass extends, and not a few re-enter its walls as soon as it is possible for them to require again obstetric assistance. It is nothing to say that many of these poor brats will never know their own fathers. Their mothers, perhaps, know them no better: and many of the wretched little ones, in the hands of the nurses, will never know either parent. The public consoles itself with the dry fact, that they will all come into the labour market. A large ward was allotted to the mid-day sleep of the poor little babes. It was rather a pretty sight for a father (of none of them) to contemplate. There were a score or so of wooden cribs, in each of which lay two, three, or four innocents, stowed away


  ― 191 ―
head and tail, like sardines à l'huile; while others were curling about like a litter of kittens in a basket of straw. All were wonderfully good—chiefly, I suspect, because there was no anxious mamma nor fussy nurse constantly soliciting them to be so.

The visiting-surgeon of the establishment, whom I accompanied, had found it necessary to prescribe half-rations and gentle medical treatment (a grain or so of ipecacuanha, I suppose,) to a certain turbulent few of the prisoners, and it was whispered to him that his fair but fierce patients meditated a remonstrance when it came to their turn to be visited. As there was little doubt this appeal would have taken a Billingsgate form, the prudent Medico postponed hearing it, which, I confess, was to me a great relief. This was on his part a merciful as well as a discreet step, because the half-rations of the insurgents would assuredly have been further reduced to bread-and-water discussed in silence and solitude—things that no woman loveth. Forty-eight hours of this kind of single-blessedness, with the above meagre diet, and a prescription slightly productive of nausea, occasions, it is said, a prodigiously soothing effect upon ladies afflicted with gross health and fiery temperaments.

Going along the avenues of solitary cells there was a great unlocking of massive doors, and a questioning of “Have you any complaints?” I only looked into two or three. One woman was carding, another combing


  ― 192 ―
wool. A third cell, on being opened, I found to be completely darkened. It seemed empty, so I passed within the door to examine its construction. It looked like the den of a wolf, and I almost started back when from the extreme end of the floor I found a pair of bright, flashing eyes fixed on mine. Their owner arose and took a step or two forward. It was a small, slight, and quite young girl—very beautiful in feature and complexion,—but it was the fierce beauty of the wild cat! I am a steady married man, of a certain age,—but at no period of my life would I, for a trifle, have shared for half-an-hour the cell of that sleek little savage. When she purred loudest I should have been most afraid of her claws! A lover of the Fornarina style would have been desperately smitten. As the heavy door slammed in her face, and the strong bolts shot into the grooves, the turnkey informed me that this was one of the most refractory and unmanageable characters in the prison. That said Beauty is a sad distorter of man's perceptions! Justice ought to be doubly blindfolded when dealing with her. I fear me that the pang of pity that shot across my heart when that pretty prisoner was shut again from the light of day, might have found no place there had she been as ugly as the sins that had brought her into trouble. I had no more stomach for solitary cells this day.

One of the great yards of the Factory was devoted to laundress-work. Squads of women were up to their


  ― 193 ―
elbows in suds,—carrying on the cruel process of wringing,—or displaying their thick ankles as they spread the linen over the drying lines. The townsfolk may have their washing done here at 1s. 6d. per dozen, the money going towards the expenses of the institution. I was pained to see so many very youthful creatures in this yard—delinquents in their earliest teens—debanched ere the pith had hardened in their little bones.

We had next a glimpse of a room full of sempstresses, most of them employed on fine work. It was not impossible, the matron admitted, that some of the elaborate shirt-fronts we should see at the Government-house ball this evening had been worked in this, and washed and “got up” in the last ward. A rougher fabric done by the less-skilled prisoners is a coarse kind of woollen tweed, only used for the material of prison-dresses.

However painful to a devoted servant of “the sex that civilizes ours” must necessarily be the details of an establishment such as this, there was some consolation at least in carrying away the conviction that everything that the care and ingenuity of man could contrive for the perfecting of the system has here been exhausted. The cleanliness of the prison was almost dazzling, and the order and discipline appeared faultless. I had much pleasure in recording the same in the Matron's Visitors' Book.

“See Naples and die,” is the Italian motto. “See


  ― 194 ―
a Female Factory”—malefactory it ought to be called—“once, and don't do so again,” is mine!note

The grand New-year's ball at Government-house afforded a refreshing counterpoise to my morning's employment. The vice-regal residence itself has little to recommend it as an edifice, and its site would be much better occupied by buildings connected with the harbour and wharfs, which are close at hand. There must surely be plenty of reserve land near the town, presenting excellent localities for a building better suited to the purpose.

A weather-boarded ball-room of singularly fine proportions has lately been erected by the present Lieut.-Governor, Sir W. Denison. The six or seven hundred guests present this night were by no means crowded within it. The entrance to the ball-room from the body of the house is through an arched lobby and down a few steps which form a kind of daïs overlooking the saloon. On the top of this stood the Christmas tree, whose main body was formed of a single fern-tree, its wide and graceful fronds spreading above a whole cornucopia of mid-summer flowers, looking strange, doubtless, in the eyes of such of the company as were not inured to antipodal inconsistencies. For an hour or two the dancing was


  ― 195 ―
kept up exclusively by children; and among them were many beautiful specimens of rising Anglo-Saxons—for the rearing of whom the climate of Tasmania is evidently very favourable. The same must be said of it with reference to human plants of a more advanced growth; for I saw in five minutes this night more fair faces tinged with the English rose, than I had seen in New South Wales in as many years. Doubtless some connoisseurs in female loveliness give the apple of preference to the cheek where the lily predominates. 'Tis a pity that in very hot climates, Bengal for instance, a streak of yellow sometimes mars the purity of its white!

I dare say my reader has observed the scarcely disguised impatience with which adult votaries of Terpsichore look on at infantine dancing; perhaps he has felt it himself—perhaps the writer has done so in his time. Yet the dancing of children is, in sooth, a pleasant and a pretty sight; and I have never felt this more strongly than on occasions when the floor has suddenly been taken possession of by grown-up dancers in immediate succession to these little ones. Compare the performances of both, and you will not need a better proof that grace is natural and not acquired; nay more, that it may be lost by over training and artificiality. I was following with my eyes the crowd of little bright joyous things, and thinking there was grace in all their movements—grace equally in the perfect dancing of some,


  ― 196 ―
and in the bounding disregard of art in others—in their boldness or bashfulness—demureness or riot;—there was grace, I thought, in the small curly, velvet tunick-ed boy of seven or eight pulling the muslin skirt of a pretty lass of ten, with the urgent plea—“I say, will you dance with me? do now,” and in the precocious coquetry of the two-tailed fairy as she disengaged herself with a pirouette from the hands of her too juvenile suitor, and flung from her laughing blue eyes such an irresistible invitation to a smart young middy of the Havannah as brought him instantly to her side. Away they flew round the room in each other's arms and in the polka, that child's dance par excellence; and some chord in my memory had just been struck by the piteous spectacle of the poor little mortified fellow, who, biting his finger and slowly shaking his wee round figure, at length ran and buried his face in the lap of a lady; my attention, I say, was thus engrossed, when,—poof! into the midst of the lilliputian throng rushed a human avalanche, in the shape of a full-grown—a very full-grown couple of polkists! The cavalier though not old was fattish, and had a small round spot of baldness on the crown of his head, the lady an exorbitant crenoline. The poetry of the scene vanished in a moment! Other Patagonians followed; and the children's dance quickly merged into the grownup ball;—and a very good ball it was. Nor was it the only one I attended at Hobart Town. The season,


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together with the arrival of a frigate and the first visit of a General Commanding the Forces, combined to create an unusual amount of gaiety; and, if the mornings of my short sojourn here were pretty well occupied with seeing sights, so were the evenings in attending the dinners and soirées of the hospitable Hobartians.




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Chapter VII. [1851.]

TASMAN'S PENINSULA—EAGLE HAWK NECK—TASMAN'S ARCH—HUMAN RAILWAY—A PREDICAMENT—PORT ARTHUR—A DONJON IN GALA DRESS—COMPULSORY LABOUR—SOLITARY CONFINEMENT—OLD AND NEW SYSTEMS—FINE TIMBER—STATE PRISONERS—THE COAL MINES—A CLEVER ESCAPE—MALE PENITENTIARY—LUXURIOUS ROGUES—JOURNEY TO LAUNCESTON—THE ROAD AND THE RAIL—TOPOGRAPHICAL JUMBLE.

January 10th.—HOBART TOWN.—If the reader will consult the map of Van Diemen's Land he will find that Tasman's Peninsula is a kind of ear-ring hanging at the left ear or south-east extremity of the island, and forming the eastern horn of Storm Bay, the estuary of the Derwent. The pendent is divided into two parts. The uppermost, or most northern,—known as Forestier's Peninsula,—is attached to the mainland by a very narrow isthmus called East Bay Neck; the lower half, or Tasman's Peninsula, is joined to Forestier's Peninsula by a similar isthmus called Eagle Hawk Neck. Tasman's Peninsula, being surrounded by the sea on every point except at this narrow, natural causeway, is singularly well adapted for the restriction and coercion of prisoners.




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Port Arthur, the chief settlement, is situated in a fine bay of that name opening to the south, and running inland in a northerly direction so far as to leave only five miles of land between its own head and that of Norfolk Bay, which bounds the peninsula on the north. Round the shores of Norfolk Bay are situated three probation stations—the Cascades, Saltwater River, and Impression Bay; and the Coal-mines is a station for convicts under magisterial sentences. At Eagle Hawk Neck—the key to Tasman's Peninsula—is stationed a military detachment, strengthened by a chain of dogs, to bar all egress and ingress.

The Lieut.-Governor having obligingly put at the disposal of my companions and myself the small steamer Kangaroo, we got under weigh at five A.M. this morning from Sulliven's Cove, and were soon paddling down the Derwent. We passed swiftly by the Iron Pot, round which the surf was appropriately boiling; Betsy's Island on the left, the property of a lady, as the name imports, and where there is said to be “great store” of rabbits; and Slopen Island on our right, where the quail are preserved for the Governor and his friends, and where he who can hold his gun straight may kill forty or fifty couple of these little flying fatlings. Rounding Long Point, the north-east extremity of Tasman's Peninsula, we entered Norfolk Bay about half-past ten o'clock. On our left we had the pretty wooded Garden Island lying in the jaws of the Bay. To our right, on a high arm


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of the peninsula, a black patch of cleared land, with some tall Lancashire-like chimneys, showed where the coal mines are worked by prisoners, under the management of a company who rent them from the Government and have the advantage of penal labour.

We passed Saltwater River, where a band of lunatic convicts are employed in agriculture under proper surveillance; then Impression Bay, where some 600 invalids are stationed, and are given such work as suits their strength, while about 100 hale prisoners do the hardest of the labour; next, the Cascades, a probation station for about 300 men,—all of which stations are situated on the shore of a hilly and wooded country; and finally, about mid-day, our little craft running up the narrow inlet of Eagle Hawk Bay, we soon after moored off the long wooden wharf of the military post of that name. This post, by reason of its somewhat unique feature,—a line of canine sentries,—is one of the lions of Van Diemen's Land. On either shore of the inlet running up to the station there is a chain of huts, each containing a constable and his dog, to prevent the escape of run-aways by swimming this arm of the sea,—a desperate measure, since the fugitive fortunate enough to evade the tipstaff and the mastiff would have to battle the watch with an outlying picquet of sharks, abounding in these waters. It was related to me that, on one occasion, four prisoners, good swimmers, led by a notorious black named Jacky, attempted to cross from a headland called


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Sympathy Point to Woody Island, and thence to Forestier's Peninsula. The Englishmen—perhaps because their fair skins acted like whitebait for the sharks—were one and all seized and devoured by these tigers of the deep; the native made good his landing, but was afterwards retaken.

No sooner came we in sight of the low, sandy, scrub-grown isthmus which cuts across the head of the inlet, than our ears were saluted by the loud baying of the deep-mouthed dogs, and as we walked up the pier towards the guard-room at the end of it, they all joined in a grand chorus, including three or four videttes stationed on little platforms laid on piles in the water.

The opposite shores of the two peninsulas are lofty, sloping away into uplands covered with fine timber. The soldiers' barracks and the officers' quarter, a rural cottage with a pretty garden, are placed with their backs against the declivity of Forestier's Peninsula, commanding the neck, which is not more than 200 yards long by 60 yards wide. Two loaded sentries are posted on the narrowest part of the neck, the one on the ocean side of it—in Pirate's Cove—the other on the inlet side of it. The dogs, each chained to a post with a barrel for a kennel and a lamp to illumine his night watch, connect their two biped fellow sentinels, and complete the cordon.

My sketch, which I took seated on a sand hummock looking towards Tasman's Peninsula, will save me further


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description. The dogs by no means relished having their pictures taken — throwing themselves into a thousand minacious postures, with which Landseer would have been charmed. They were generally of a large rough breed, mongrels of the most promiscuous derivation, but powerful and ferocious. One of the family, who was permitted to range at large, amused himself sometimes, and kept his teeth and temper in practice, by rushing into the shallows and fighting with the sharks; and he not unfrequently succeeded in dragging them ashore. There are fourteen dogs “on the chain” at present.

The Eagle Hawk Neck and its vicinity are exceedingly picturesque; and the young subaltern and his pretty wife appear to be quite satisfied with their sequestered quarters and their canine society. I doubt even whether the half-dozen of champagne that I dropped at their door added a whit to their cheerfulness. The fair lady, whom a few years ago I had known as a child, undertook to guide our party on a visit to two natural curiosities on the coast of Pirate's Cove—Tasman's Arch and the Blow-hole. It was a long and fatiguing walk for the two ladies of the party, and so high was the fern and brushwood in some places, that it was fortunate we had secured the services of three or four soldiers with tomahawks to clear a path for us.

The Blow-hole, so called from the loud sough of the waves as they dash with hollow roar from the ocean into


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a horizontal tunnel pierced through the cliff, and opening inland into a gravelly pit, is more curious than grand. But Tasman's Arch is one of the finest fantasies of nature I ever met with. It is said to have been first discovered by a hunter who, in full pursuit of a kangaroo, narrowly escaped the fate of Quintus Curtius without its glory. And, indeed, so difficult to find is the spot, and so suddenly does the seeker stumble upon it, that he is not a little startled, on pushing his way through some light bushes, to find his foot on the brink of a yawning chasm or well, fifty or sixty feet across, descending into the bowels of the earth—its eastern side, at about 30 feet from the surface-ground, forming a majestic arch of rock some 200 feet deep, the entrance to a subterrene passage, through which the surf from the open sea comes thundering into this abyss in the midst, as it were, of the forest. In high tides and tempestuous weather the spray is shot up high into the air through this gigantic tube.

Seating ourselves on the sward near the mouth of the punch-bowl, we partook of a modest repast of bread and wine, and, being refreshed, we retraced our steps through forest, and fern, and sand, and rock, our walk having extended over ten or twelve miles under a burning sun—to the Neck.

At 6 P.M. we re-embarked, pursued by the ululations of the dogs, in the little Kangaroo, and piped to dinner as she paddled down Eagle Hawk Bay. Passing Woody


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Island and Sympathy Point—the scene of the fatal swim above mentioned—we came to an anchorage for the night just after dusk, off a small station—nameless as far as I know—at the head of Norfolk Bay, where, there being no accommodation, we slept on board.

A commissary officer, who resides here in all the solitude permitted him by a wife and six children, came off and kindly undertook to arrange for our passage to Port Arthur in the morning, by railway. “By railway!” exclaims the reader, “a railway at the Antipodes.” Yes, by railway; not propelled by steam however, but by human thews and sinews, and in the sweat of the human brow.

January 11th.—At 7 A.M. we landed on a rough pier of timber, upon which the rail, or rather the wooden tram-way, abuts; and in the middle of the dreary little settlement, which consists of the Commissary's quarters and a few huts, we found a couple of low trucks on four wheels, with two benches in each, and, standing near these not elegant vehicles, eight convicts dressed in the grey and yellow garb of doubly dyed disgrace and crime; another, in grey unvariegated, was in attendance as head man of the gang. These were to be our teams. Dividing ourselves into two parties, Dr. and Mrs.——, and I, got into one, and two tolerably weighty gentlemen into the other. Upon this, the prisoners seized certain bars crossing the front and back of the carriages, and, after pushing them with great toil


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up a considerable plane, reached the top of a long descent, when, getting up their steam, down they rattled at tremendous speed—tremendous, at least, to lady-like nerves—the chains round their ankles chinking and clanking as they trotted along; and as soon as the carriages in their headlong race down the hill exceeded the possible speed of that slowest of all animals, man, at a word from their leader the runners jumped upon the sides of the trucks in rather unpleasant proximity with the passengers, and away we all went, bondsmen and freemen, jolting and swaying in a manner that smacked somewhat too much of “the d—l take the hindmost”—although a man sitting behind contrived, more or less, to lock a wheel with a wooden crow-bar when the descent became so rapid as to call for remonstrance. Accidents have not unfrequently occurred when travellers by this rail have encouraged, or not forbidden, the men to abandon the trucks to their own momentum down the hills; for there are several sharpish turns in the line, and the tram-way is of the rudest construction. Occasionally, perhaps, these capsizes have not been purely accidental when travellers obnoxious to the motive powers have fallen into their hands.

One of the highest public officers of the colony—a gentleman popular with all classes, and whose personal qualities it would be impossible to estimate lightly!—met, as I was told, with a tremendous upset on this railway. Rolling, without much damage, into the ditch,


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he was picked up, “teres atque rotundus,” by the “canary birds,” who placed him upon his legs, and amid a thousand expressions of contrition, set to work to brush the dirt off his clothes; and so officious were they, that, on his first reference to his pockets neither watch nor purse were to be found.

Half-way we halted at a police-station,—not to take in water for the engines, but to grease the wheels and to breathe the men,—and then proceeded with renewed vigour. The distance from our starting-point in Norfolk Bay to Long Bay, an arm of Port Arthur, by the railway, may be five or six miles. It is sometimes performed in half-an-hour; but to-day, having a nervous passenger, the men did not put forth their best speed.

The tram-way, alongside of which there is a bridleroad, lays through a forest-tract of the most splendid timber, wholly wild and uncleared, the largest trees being the blue-gum for which the island is famous,—so called, I suppose, because the leaf has much of the colour of the bloom on the Orleans-plum. Our mode of travelling through this fine forest was not precisely such as to add to our enjoyment of the scene. Indeed, it jarred most distressingly on my feelings. Our poor beasts of burthen at the end of the traject seemed terribly jaded, running down with sweat, and I saw one of them continually trying to shift his irons from a galled spot on his ankle. Returning by this same route in the afternoon, we were requested by the head man to halt a


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few minutes for the men to get something to eat. The overseer told us that these men had breakfasted at four in the morning, at Norfolk Bay, had run up the trucks with half a ton of rations to Long Bay, and had returned to Norfolk Bay for our party by half-past six. They had had nothing to eat since breakfast—exactly twelve hours.

To rid myself at once of this unpleasing subject,—a railway worked by white slave-power—I will here finish my notes of the return-trip by this route, although it is somewhat out of its turn:—

After our visit to Port Arthur,—of which more presently—on landing at the Long Bay terminus, where there stands a miserable shieling, we found there the Governor and his party, sheltering themselves from a heavy shower of rain. Carriages being required for them, one truck only remained for our party. The three gentlemen, all being well wet through, walked on at a brisk pace, and myself was left in charge of the lady. Some delay occurred at starting. The first mile was up a steep ascent, but we had with some difficulty accomplished it owing to the slippery state of the road, and were trotting briskly along a flat, when a distant “cooey” from the rear was heard, and looking back I saw a fifth prisoner in grey-and-yellow running up—a tall ugly fellow that I had not seen before. Our team immediately pulled up, and then the idea flashed across my mind, dismissed almost as soon as entertained, that


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some treachery was intended. Here was a lady and one unarmed man in the midst of the wild Bush, and completely in the power of five perhaps as desperate ruffians as ever cheated the hangman!

The gentlemen who had preceded us were long beyond sight and hearing, and we were full two miles from the station we had quitted. It afterwards proved that the questionable predicament in which we had been left had crossed their minds very much as it had done mine. The truth is, however, that we ran less risk of robbery or violence in this unpeopled wilderness, with our lives in the hands of this villainous gang, than might have been the case within the sound of Bow-bells. In Tasman's Peninsula detection and punishment follow crime as sure as night follows day.

The men employed on this tram-way, which is more used for the transport of stores and provisions than for passengers, are under sentence of hard labour, and those who are young and active enough to go the pace prefer it to other task-work—chiefly, I suspect, because many passengers, in flagrant breach of the convict-rules, bestow some small reward on the wretched dragsmen, whereby they are enabled to procure tobacco—the grand desideratum of all prisoners, and other trifling luxuries, the value of which a man never fully knows until they are unattainable.

But to resume our visit to Port Arthur.—At eight o'clock we reached the terminus at the head of Long


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Bay, an inlet of Port Arthur running up into the forest between high shores. The distance by water to the settlement of Port Arthur is about four miles. We found at the terminus a large whale-boat awaiting us, manned by prisoners, the strokesman being one of the finest negroes I ever saw. We soon opened the port, and, sweeping round a rocky headland on our right, the penal township lay before us.

Port Arthur is the head-quarters, both military and convict, of the peninsula. There are at present about 350 prisoners here, and the garrison consists of a captain and seventy grenadiers of the 99th. His subaltern, as has been seen, is detached to Eagle Hawk Neck. The other stations on the peninsula before mentioned are at present controlled entirely by the civil power, an arrangement more consonant with British custom, and more just to the army, than the former system of scattering small detachments under non-commissioned officers among the various minor stations and stockades—thereby compelling the soldier to do the duty of the constable.

I had made up my mind to find in Port Arthur all the gloomy attributes of a huge donjon. I expected, and I believe wished, to see the features of nature and the institutions of man frowning in grim and dreary concert on the spot expressly selected for the punishment of Britain's blackest malefactors—one half of whom, perhaps, ere the criminal law of England was amended


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(or diluted,) would have paid the penalties of their misdeeds on the scaffold. There is, however, in fact, nothing of the Bastile in the aspect of the town of Port Arthur—nothing of the desert-wastes where the felons of other nations are condemned to linger out their hopeless lives.

A magnificent harbour lay before us, with a spacious open channel to the ocean. On the east was a fine range of mountains, terminating at the coast in a high bluff, called Arthur's Seat: on the west a quiet bay, sheltered from the sea by a long arm of land named Point Puer, where stands the abandoned settlement of the Parkhurst boys, the spacious buildings,—like many another costly edifice in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, constructed for penal experiments,—on the road to ruin. In a retired cove of this bay, with a tolerable space of level land around it and a fine wooded range in its rear, lies, sloping down to the beach, the settlement. The first object that attracts the eye is a handsome stone church with a tall cheerful-looking steeple embosomed in fine trees, and a beautiful public garden below it. On the opposite extremity of the town is the residence of the Commandant, an excellent house, also well sheltered with ornamental trees and surrounded with a blooming flower garden and orchard, and a lawn sloping down to the sea. It possesses a grand stone balustrated entrance, a sculptured stone gateway and such like features—sufficiently proving that it was never


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intended for the quarters of a military officer! No, no—the officers' quarters stand humbly just without the gates of the premises I have described, and I recognised them at once by the rigid restriction of the style to bare habitableness. Fortunately for the Brevet-Major at present in command here—and especially so as he happens to be a married man—the post of Civil Commandant has, for economical reasons, been done away with, and he is, therefore, permitted to reside in the better house.

The architect entrusted with the design and erection of the public buildings of the settlement must have been of a cheery and playful mind. Hospitals, barracks, gaols, cooking houses, stores—every edifice, in short, except the old original convict dépôt, which is an ugly wooden stockade, are of a fine light-coloured stone, with a profusion of little turrets, castellated copings, sham machicolations and pie-crust battlements, reminding me more of an Isle of Wight villa than of a convict probation station. There is a commissariat building, nearly as extensive and as ornate in style as Somerset House, and which would easily contain all the commissariat stores in the South Sea colonies. A picturesque feature of the town is the flag-staff and signal-post, erected on a tall dead tree of enormous bulk, standing alone on a high mound. It consists of two platforms, reached by a ladder stair. From the upper one there is a most extensive and lovely view. With a fine blue sky overhead, and


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the blue sea below, the dark green hills around, and a climate quite perfect, Port Arthur has certainly nothing very repulsive in its aspect. The French prisoners of war had a somewhat more melancholy location on Dartmoor. The miners of snowy and sandy Siberia have a destiny somewhat more desolate. The poor charcoal burner on the gloomy and spirit-haunted Hartz, and the wretched turf-cutter on the Bog of Allen, toiling in solitary misery for a scanty subsistence, would imagine they had dropped into Paradise, could they be suddenly transported—by any but judicial means!—into this beautiful corner of the universe.

The gallant Commandant gave us an excellent breakfast; after which we proceeded to visit some of the lions, living and inanimate, of the place. We saw the cooking and baking for the prisoners; and better bread and meat, and more savoury broth was never served up at an English yeoman's table; half as good never to that of the English labourer on Sundays, nor to the Irish cotter twice a-year. We walked through the prisoners' refectory at their dinner-hour. They were sitting quietly at their tables, while one of each dozen divided the food into shares. The savour of the viands was really appetizing. I was told—whether in joke or in earnest may be doubted—that, if I waited until the meal was over, I should see a waiter going round with pipes and tobacco for such of the guests who desired a whiff of the Virginian weed.




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I have heard or read that persons subjected to the mental and bodily discipline consequent upon imprisonment combined with hard labour, require more nourishment than any other class of consumers. I have no hesitation in saying—and I examined them narrowly—that the prisoners of Hobart Town and Tasman's Peninsula, as a body, presented an appearance of stronger physical health than the soldiers stationed there. It is true that the former are debarred indulgence in those excesses whereby the soldier may damage his constitution; but when I see a lot of burly fellows, not only muscular of limb and body, but absolutely running to jowl, common sense tells me that neither the mind nor the body are much overtaxed. Indeed, I have no doubt that, however vigilant and severe the superintendence, it is impossible to compel a man to work without pay sufficiently hard to fatigue his frame—much less to injure his health—by any rigour of discipline short of that of the negro slave-driver. The treadmill appears to be the only species of laboratory where the operative must work, and work hard, or inflict self-punishment. He may, indeed, doggedly resolve to mount no higher on the rotary stair, but then his shins must suffer for it! All the machinery for this punishment exists on a large scale at Port Arthur; but I was told that it had been discontinued, because the wheel required too many hands, or rather, too many feet, to make it pay. I cannot help thinking, nevertheless, that it might have


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been advantageously employed in reducing some of the “too solid flesh” on the ribs of the Peninsula prisoners,—product of the good beef and bread, oatmeal and potatoes, of Tasmania.

And this brings me to the Hospital,—a fine building, almost untenanted. Of the 340 convicts on the morning state of this day only five were in hospital; out of seventy soldiers, three. In one of the larger wards, almost alone, lay one of the Irish state prisoners, O'Donohue,—one of the three gentlemen of that class who, having broken their tickets-of-leave by paying a clandestine visit to their late chief, Mr. S. O'Brien, were apprehended and sentenced, not only to forfeit their tickets, but to imprisonment with hard labour in probation gangs on the Peninsula. Patrick O'Donohue was lying on his iron pallet in the common ward, and in the ordinary blue flannel hospital dress. He was reading, and, as he seemed to be in bodily suffering, a feeling of commiseration was stealing over me, when it was quickly dissolved by a whisper from the surgeon that his malady arose from two or three broken ribs, the consequence of a fight with another prisoner. When on ticket of leave, he employed himself in the editorship of a newspaper called the Exile.

My fate seemed to constrain me to follow in Van Diemen's Land the fortunes of Mr. Smith O'Brien. At Maria Island there was his shadow; at New Norfolk his substance. At Port Arthur I was dragged away to


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inspect the premises that had been allotted to him after he had attempted his escape from the island. The house—a decent little tenement, superior to the building intended for the officers' quarters—stands in the corner of a largish garden, enclosed within a high wall, with its back against that of the barracks—over which, by a stair ladder, the sentry in charge of the prisoner came to his post. The soldier's beat was at first close to the house; but the prisoner was so prone to converse with his military guardian from his verandah, that the post was established further off. Smith O'Brien appears to have taken considerable pleasure in gardening; and flowers which he had sowed were now in full bloom. He was very uneasy and irritable under the constant eye-shot of the sentinel; and, indeed, I cannot imagine anything more annoying to a person of excitable temperament and fond of privacy, than continual supervision.

We visited an admirable edifice nearly finished at vast expense for the prosecution of the solitary and silent system. There are long galleries of “separate apartments,” as they are delicately termed; court-yards where the prisoners are brought out one by one to take their exercise under the eye of a constable; and a chapel so fitted up that each man will—like a prebend or a horse, have a stall for himself, so constructed that he can see no one but the parson and the constables. The prisoners not in solitary confinement are marched to church, and have large pews or rather pens for their accommodation.




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The aristocracy of Port Arthur consists of the commandant, the visiting magistrate, the chaplain, the priest, and the surgeon. These gentlemen have all pretty cottages surrounded with gardens near the church.

The penal system must by this time approach perfection as near as human wisdom can bring it—for Heaven knows that statesmen, local rulers, philanthropists and disciplinarians, whether of the severe or soothing sort—have left nothing unsaid, undone, or untried, to make transportation conducive to the three great ends, punishment, amendment, and prevention. I think, however, that, in a comparison between the old system and the new, designating them broadly as the assignment and the probation systems—the suffrages of the colonists, whether in Australia or Tasmania, if collected, would give a majority to the abandoned plan. The present or probation scheme has for its main features the blending correction with instruction moral and religious, a careful classification of the prisoners, rigorously enforced hard labour, and solitary confinement under unblinking surveillance, for the hardened and refractory; with the lash, Norfolk Island and the gibbet for the utterly irreclaimable. On the other hand, milder treatment for mitigated criminals, and for the well-conducted the certain prospect of the pass, the ticket, and the still larger boon of conditional pardon, after periods of servitude graduated according to the sentences and conduct under sentence. The instruction of previously ignorant men in the first elements of education, in useful trades, and in religious


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exercises, gives them at least a reasonable chance of returning to society better and more useful members of the human family than they were at the time of their banishment from it. According to the present scheme, the prisoner at no period is compelled to work without payment, except while his own bad conduct past or present restricts him to the Government establishments. On the first relaxation of his bonds he comes into the labour-market on pretty nearly equal terms with the free labourer. A late memorandum of the Comptroller-General of convicts establishes an uniform rule for the issue of tickets-of-leave.note




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My desire to obtain a sketch of the really picturesque harbour and settlement of Port Arthur prevented my seeing as much of the establishments as the few hours of our stay there might otherwise have permitted. I think my reader will admit that however heart-rending the punishment of banishment must be, (although ninety out of a hundred delinquents who suffer it lament only the opportunities of villany whereof it deprives them;) and however strict the supervision, severe the coercion, and arduous the labour imposed on the inmates; (and burning bricks, splitting wood, cutting stone, felling and carrying spars, quarrying and coal mining, or even trotting away at the rate of six or seven miles an hour with a cargo of “swells,” without wages—are no light pastime;) it will be admitted, I say, that there is nothing penally repulsive in the external aspect of Port Arthur, as it appears on paper.

I have anticipated my account of our tram-way return to Norfolk Bay; where, well drenched with rain, we regained our little steamer, and forthwith set off for the Cascades Settlement, which we reached at 4 P.M. At this place about 400 convicts are stationed, most of them being employed in felling timber, of which there is an endless supply of the largest size and finest quality near at hand.

Alongside the wharf a fine brig, the Vigilant, was loading with spars and planks for England—including some splendid specimens of blue gum for the Admiralty.


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The longest plank on board was 94 feet in length, 4 inches thick, and 16 inches wide. There were three or four spars upwards of 70 feet long by 2 feet thick. Some lying under water ready for use were, I was told, upwards of 100 feet long. I saw also in the hold of the brig some immense logs of “light wood,” à non lucendo, darker than mahogany; and knots of the beautiful Huon pine, finer than bird's-eye maple for ornamental furniture. One delicate slice of a giant tree weighed a matter of eight tons. But these are mere splinters to the plank of blue gum which, I hear, has been sent Home for the Great Exhibition. This was 145 feet long, 20 inches broad, and 6 inches deep. The first limb of the tree from which it was sawn sprung at 186 feet from the ground, and its extreme height was no less than 275 feet.

At a convenient distance for an afternoon's ride from Hobart Town, is to be seen a living gum-tree which is 60 feet round at 15 feet from its base, and 270 feet high, although it has lost its top. It is fenced in and treated with proper respect. A vessel's keel 100 feet long was lately laid down in one piece by a Hobart Town builder.

Among the convicts on board the Vigilant, at this moment lounging about unemployed, a fine manly looking individual was pointed out to me as the state prisoner Terence Bellew M'Manus, who, with O'Donohue and O'Doherty—Kevin Izod O'Doherty! (babes so


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named are baptized rebels to Anglo-Saxon rule!) have been “classed” for hard labour parties by colonial sentence for having violated the conditions of their tickets by visiting O'Brien at New Norfolk. One of these gentlemen I left in hospital at Port Arthur, the other is devoting his energies, innocuously to others and profitably to himself, in “splitting shingles” on one of the Peninsula stations. And Mr. M'Manus, at the Cascades, seemed to be taking just as much muscular exercise and wholesome food as would be likely to produce the vigorous health he evidently enjoys, and which enabled him to undergo the fatigues of the mysterious escape which, in a month after I saw him, he made to California.

Of the other two or three Irish political prisoners I saw nothing, but I heard that one of them was hoeing potatoes, a national pastime, hard by; and that another had got married by the Governor's consent. None of these gentlemen, I will answer for it, are in the position ascribed to them by a local and malcontent newspaper—“treated like trebly convicted felons, and condemned to wear the yellow garb of the degraded, because they visited the table of Mr. W. S. O'Brien!”

On the point of costume I can be both positive and correct with regard to Mr. M'Manus. He wore a full suit of grey dittos, with a leathern forage cap; and on his back, well able to bear the burthen, appeared in


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large white letters, the words, “Cascades, No. 200.” None of these criminals have been compelled to don the canary's plumage; although, for being foolish enough to run their heads into the lion's mouth, they really do deserve to “wear the motley.” For any future impatients aiming at the overthrow of the British constitution, I should prescribe—if I were Governor—a month's steaming on the Port Arthur railway—at Midsummer! I have heard that these gentlemen have conducted themselves in an exemplary manner under the colonial aggravation of their punishment. I was well pleased to learn that a great portion of it had been remitted; and shall unfeignedly rejoice at any further mitigation that imperial clemency or their own good behaviour may bring them.

Towards another prisoner, of a totally different class, located at the “Cascades,” my feelings were very far from being so placable. Amongst a party of three or four men in the grey dress and leather cap to whom was allotted the task of carrying and arranging on board firewood for the engines of the Kangaroo, I remarked a very tall and powerful figure standing on the pier, and for more than half-an-hour, with the measured accuracy of clockwork, handing the split logs from a heap ashore to another convict who stowed them on board. This was Robert Pate, the cowardly and, I am constrained to believe, the lunatic assailant of a woman and a Queen. Degradation, flogging at the cart's tail, would have been


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the suitable punishment; and I believe its infliction for such a “misdemeanour!” was by a late enactment made peremptory. I am not aware whether humane consideration for the feelings of his family, or for the infirm state of his own mind, saved this man from the enforcement of the cat and the cart's-tail. I was sorry, I must say, to see him in such fine health. With perfect bodily sanity I believe a man can never be very unhappy; or rather if a man be truly unhappy in mind, he can hardly possess perfect physical health. The perpetrator of such an outrage I would willingly have seen miserable—his soul sinking under the poignancy of remorse, and under the recollection of his dastardly action; his body macerated by the hardships of his punishment. Robert Pate is, as I understand from those who have him under constant observation, perfectly sane in mind at this moment. The faculty must forgive me if I express my conviction that he is still mad. Nor could a better asylum nor a better chance of eventual cure than the salubrious climate and diet of Tasman's Peninsula, and the present well-watched system of probation, be possibly afforded to this wretched offender.

Some of our party, while the steamer was wooding, visited a spot called the Fern-tree Valley, about two miles from the station, which they described as singularly beautiful. They walked through arcades and cloisters, arched over and darkened by the foliage of this graceful plant, and brought me back a single frond


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as a specimen nearly fourteen feet in length. The stem of this species, although as large round as a bandbox, is of a cellular texture, something between cork and sponge. Lumps of it, I observed, were in use among the shipping as fenders. It is filled with a beautiful brown fibre, as fine as spun glass. The sassafras grows in plenty near the same spot.

At 8 P.M. the steamer touched at the “Coal-mines” for a supply of that mineral. The Peninsula coal is an anthracite; all that I saw burning in the city was of that nature; but I am told that there exists very superior bituminous coal in the country, as yet unworked. Getting coal is considered the most irksome and arduous branch of convict labour. The station here, like most others in Van Diemen's Land, was, until lately, kept in subjection by a military guard. A married officer was in command for some time, and, such was the character of the populus virorum around him, that the females of his family could not move out without an escort of armed soldiers. Pan Demons' Land would be almost too mild a name for a region where such a state of things existed!

Steaming all night, the Kangaroo reached Hobart Town at three o'clock in the morning. It must be admitted that, pleasant as had been our trip to Tasman's Peninsula, this little vessel, for many reasons, was but ill suited to night accommodation. To the impossibility of sleeping, however, I owe the following narrative, from


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the officer of the watch, of a clever escape of a party of convicts, conducted, I am sorry to say, at the expense of my excellent friend, the Bishop of the diocese. His lordship possessed, in 1848, as he does now, a small yacht, which he employed for the public service, at least as much as for his own pleasure. With the intention of a somewhat protracted trip, he had ordered stores and provisions to be put on board; and she was lying at the town wharf ready for the Right Reverend owner's embarkation on the following day. Close along-side of her was moored the Kangaroo steamer, whose steward, a convict, formerly a Causand smuggler, and, as may be guessed, a sharpish fellow, admiring her breadth of beam, her clean run, and other qualities, conceived the idea of making her subservient, although only measuring ten tons, to a trip to California. The necessary stores—thanks to the forethought of the Bishop—were, as has been said, already on board. There was beef and biscuit in plenty, of fresh water but a small supply; but that might be added to. Mr. Hill, the steward, was quite willing to be her commander; all that was wanted was a crew. Three good hands, anxious to exchange the land of irons for that of gold, and volunteers for the dangerous experiment, were readily found among the prisoners. The land breeze and the elements at large, as they often do, favoured an unrighteous cause. An hour before midnight the little craft slipped away from the midst of a dozen companions at the wharf head, and


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was safe out of port long before daylight. An experienced caterer as well as navigator, the steward quickly calculated that the stock already laid in was insufficient for a two or three months' voyage. He therefore touched at one of the islands in Bass's Straits, whence having reinforced his lockers, he made a fresh departure, and, in short, the Bishop's yacht was, in due course of time, recognised at San Francisco by some persons trading there from Hobart Town. Nothing more was heard of her enterprising borrowers, who probably disposed of her before they betook themselves to the diggings. I believe, however, that Mr. Hill sent a polite message to his Lordship, apologising for the robbery, but urging the stern necessity of the case.

January 12th.—This afternoon, (my last in the capital of Van Diemen's Land,) having dined early, I devoted to visiting the Male Penitentiary, at an hour—seven P.M.—when the tenants were sure to be at home on a Sunday. This establishment is built of solid stone, with a formidable wall surrounding it, and is situated within the city. My friend and myself were most civilly received by the governor of the goal, who straightway conducted us to the mess-room, where the prisoners were attending an evening lecture by the catechist of the prison. This officer, standing in a high reading-desk, and selecting a subject from Scripture, (the life of our Saviour was that under present consideration,)—mingled his discourse with questions addressed generally to his


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hearers; nor did he fail to meet a prompt and intelligent reply, sometimes from two or more respondents. All were quiet and apparently attentive; but the answers came from but few. A hymn was sung also in good time and tune, but the performers were, likewise, a select few.

The worst class of men, in their piebald dress, were separated from those in pepper-and-salt, (who are for hire by private individuals;) and these again were separated from a more juvenile class, the Parkhurst lads. There are usually from 700 to 1,000 men in this prison. A fine range of solitary cells has just been erected. The greatest care is observed in the classification of the offenders, in order to prevent the contamination of the bad by the worse. The labour, too, is apportioned by a scale elaborately kept, whereby the age, physical powers, and health of each person, as computed by the medical attendant, are taken into account.

At the conclusion of the lecture the prisoners marched through a line of constables to their sleeping-rooms. These are built to accommodate about thirty men in two tiers of berths,—a better arrangement than the old dormitories of 3 or 400 persons; but still I think not sufficiently subdivided. There are lamps burning all night in each room; and a watchman with list slippers, having charge of a certain set of rooms, creeps about the landing-places, maintaining order and decency under heavy penalties. The wretched gaol birds had all gone to roost


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in their respective nests when I looked into some of the rooms. Under former and more lax systems, as I was informed, the short period between turning in and falling asleep was employed, and perhaps lengthened, by the men in the most villanous, disgusting, and blasphemous conversation.

No dormitory of nuns—placid votaries of celibacy and religion—could have been more silent and tranquil than the night cells of these branded outcasts. And how is this managed? I really hardly knew whether to burst into a fit of laughter or to view with admiration and approval the scene which was enacting in each sleeping-room. A large tin oil lamp supplied the chamber with light. Seated on the top of a step-ladder under the lamp was a man, one of the prisoners, book in hand, reading aloud—reading, in short, those very luxurious rogues, whose heads on their pillows were turned towards the lector, to sleep!

In conning over the comforts which might be secured by wealth,—a common practice with poor men,—among which a band of musicians, a swimming-bath in my dressing-room, and a huge riding-school for rainy weather found place, a domestic functionary whose duty it would be to read to me after retiring to bed, as long as I could listen, had in very luxurious moments been enumerated! The good substantial raiment, the plentiful meals, the flue-warmed rooms, the medical help, gratuitously supplied to the convicted thief, contrast in themselves but


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too glaringly with the hard-earned livelihood of the honest labourer. But what would John Hodge think, if, in addition to the above advantages supplied to him by an indulgent landlord, he were to be furnished with an attendant—the parish clerk, for instance—for the purpose of droning him off to sleep? Poor hard-worked Hodge would not need such an auxiliary to Somnus. He would snore (as some of the prisoners did on this occasion) before the reader had time to put on his spectacles! The prison readers are of course selected from among the best educated men. The lecture continues from eight to nine o'clock, and is credited to the performers as so much hard labour. On Sundays serious books are allotted for these nocturnal lectures; on week days subjects of information and amusement afford a lighter lullaby, probably less rapid in its operation. During the hour or two I passed in this penitentiary, such was the perfect order and silence observed, that I did not hear a word spoken except by the officers and attendants. It may fairly be styled a model prison.

January 13th.—A Mr. Page, proprietor of a daily stage-coach, running between Hobart Town and Launceston, advertises in the public prints the handsome offer of “A bed, a glass of old Tom, a cup of coffee, and an outside place—120 miles—for 5s.” However great the temptation held out by this announcement, my friend Dr. S——and myself, going on the principle that new brooms sweep clean, resolved to patronise an opposition


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coach lately set up—and in so doing we did wrong, for it proved to be slower than the “old original.” The opposition advertisement betokened a less liberal spirit, as well as a more distrustful appreciation of the character of Tasmanian travellers—perhaps a deeper knowledge of the world, or of that portion of it to which it mainly referred. It runs thus:—“Inside, 1l.; outside, cash 5s.; credit, 15s., and that only to responsible parties!

The plan adopted for the return to New South Wales of my companion and myself was to go by the stage to Launceston, the northern port of Van Diemen's Land—thereby enjoying a flying view of the interior of the island; and at Launceston to take the Shamrock steamer, which plies once a month, via Port Phillip, to Sydney, and back. There is no direct steam communication as yet between Sydney and Hobart Town. Our kind friends at the last-named city had procured for us invitations from families residing at convenient distances on the road side—thereby enabling us to see, in a pleasant manner, a little of Tasmanian country life, and to break the length of the journey. The great road from the capital to Launceston is the main artery of the island, passing through the best part of it from south to north. The stage-coach travelling in Van Diemen's Land is the theme of praise of all strangers returning thence; and, indeed, this particular drive, and the manner in which it is performed, are matters really enjoyable to a traveller


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who remembers the palmy days of coaching in the Old Country, and who has witnessed with regret the decline and fall of that pleasant mode of transit through a fine country. I believe most of my cotemporaries will agree with me in the opinion, that few things were more agreeable than a seat on the box of a really well-appointed coach, beside a driver fond of his profession, for forty or fifty miles, at the rate of nine or ten miles an hour, through some of the rural districts of England in the harvest season. I shall grow sentimental if I permit myself to recal the delights of “the road” as it was fifteen or twenty years ago. There was something highly enjoyable, too, I thought, in the ringing of the horn and the rattling of the wheels as you dashed over the stones of a country town, turning the corners at a swinging trot, stared at by the townsfolk, and then driving under an archway into an old-fashioned inn, where you were made comfortable for the night, or sent forward, after a hearty meal, with a fresh team and renewed spirits. Yes, I confess, this suited my old-fashioned tastes better than the modern rail. Whisk! you go through a forest of chimneys, steeples, gables, garret-windows, and tom-cat-frequented roof-gutters—and across a street which looks, by night, like a flash of lightning passing under you. The town is traversed ere you have time to recollect and recognise it as your native town. You approach a pretty village on a hill near it, and you have barely leisure to congratulate yourself that


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you will catch a glimpse of Uncle Anthony's house, and the Rev. Dr. Birch's seminary—your earliest school—when, presto! the train whips into a tunnel like a rabbit with a terrier at its scut, and your uncle's cellar and the doctor's playground are left fifty feet over your head! Three minutes more, and you are in the next county!

The journey through Van Diemen's Land reminded me faintly, and but faintly, of bygone days. The road itself is perfect. The London and Bath, or Brighton roads, in their best days, were not better. The scenery is picturesque, although some parts of the country are extremely sterile. The pace too is equal to the fastest “Age,” “Defiance,” or “Regulator,” that ever “kept good time” on an English turnpike road. The horses are of a better stamp and more of the old English cut than any bred in the other Australasian colonies. Much time is lost at the several stages, and yet the distance of 120 miles is done in twelve hours. On a fine bright, yet breezy day, we found the journey very pleasant. Generally at a hand-gallop, we passed through a great variety of country,—wide-spread tracts of cultivation neatly enclosed, but with only middling crops of grain, standing or in process of being mowed; neat and cozy homesteads, proving the competence of the farmer; gardens and orchards and hop-grounds; hedges of sweet-brier embalming the air, and of course plenty of wild woodland, besides hopeless-looking plains, apparently


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deserted by animated and vegetative nature. The carriage was crowded with passengers—half-a-dozen more than allowed by licence—hanging on like bees, sitting edgeways, on each other's knees and on the luggage; the guard now clinging by a lamp-iron, now on the step with his arm in at the window, now enjoying half-rations of sitting room on the foot-board of the box.

Even in England the days of Gentlemen-Jehus are gone by,—the days of the Stevensons, and the Cottons, and the Brackenburys. In this colony there are no gentlemen stage-drivers, as may well be supposed. Our coachman, however, I am bound to say, was a pleasant fellow enough when drawn out: “but I like to keep myself to myself,” said he, “when I don't know my company;” and in Van Diemen's Land such a resolve was unquestionably a prudent one. His costume was pretty correct, even to the nosegay, and he had the gout, which was in excellent keeping; but the harness was dirty, and the horses ill put together and driven with as much noise as a team of six or seven hairy-heeled diligence horses in Normandy. Moreover, “coachee” handled a regular Smithfield pig-whip, instead of the neat taper holly stick by “Crowther,” with its thin thong fine enough towards the point for a trout line. But he made his nags move, and kept them moving! In 1835 the stage took two days to do this journey, and the charge was 5l. inside, 4l. outside; now it is twelve hours, 1l. in and 5s. outside.




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At twelve miles from the city we crossed the Derwent by a causeway and bridge, nearly a mile in length—a considerable work. A cluster of ruined huts indicates where the muscle came from, and a great slice out of a rocky hill where the material was found for the formation of this fine piece of convict workmanship. The first town we came to was Brighton, and soon after, strange to say, we reached Bagdad. Beyond that Persian city our route took us over Constitution Hill, and, having crossed the Jordan, we very appropriately came to Jericho,—a straggling village. Jerusalem we left some miles on our right; and the river Styx, which, however, we did not cross, has by some means found its way into this Van Demonian Palestine. Many of the local names are very characteristic of the “civil condition” of the country as it was when they were given. Thus, Murderer's Plains, Gallows Hill, and Hell Gate, are the playful titles of three well-known spots, whose sponsors were doubtless bush-rangers at the best.




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Chapter VIII.

JOURNEY TO LAUNCESTON, CONTINUED—MONA VALE—IRRIGATION—SHEEP FARMING—A PUN AT PARTING—OUTSIDERS—INCIDENTS OF TRAVEL—LAUNCESTON SOCIETY, ETC.—LONGFORD RACES—TASMANIAN HORSES—PARTY PROCESSION—WORDS AND DEEDS—GEORGE TOWN—FELLOW-PASSENGERS—BED AND BOARD IN ONE—A LAND ACCUMULATION—A PRINCIPALITY IN EMBRYO — CIRCULAR HEAD — THE VAN DIEMEN'S LAND COMPANY.

AT about midday, and at sixty miles from Hobart Town, which we, the slower coach, performed in seven hours, including stoppages for changing horses and breakfast,—we arrived at the entrance-gate of Mr. K——,a wealthy colonist, who had kindly offered to receive us for a night. The house and pleasure-grounds are situated about a mile from the high road, in a country by no means pretty, but well adapted for sheep-farming—being by nature lightly, indeed too lightly, timbered. This adaptation a stranger might at present reasonably doubt, for the natural pasture-land over which we passed in the proprietor's carriage was as hard and as bare as a brick—more resembling a Sahara than a sheep-walk.

Mr. K—— has nevertheless carried irrigation to a greater perfection than any other person perhaps in the


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Australian colonies. Of this he presently gave us proof by diverging from the direct road to the house, and bringing us to a wide tract of refreshing verdure lying in a gentle hollow. Here are 500 acres laid down in English grasses, divided by English quick hedges into convenient enclosures, along each of which are water-ducts with dam-gates, whereby he is enabled to throw the whole or part under water in the driest season.

This valuable plot of ground, which will probably feed as many sheep as 15,000 acres of the native pastures, was originally a swamp, and was received under ostensible protest but with a secret appreciation of its real value by the proprietor, as part of a free grant from Government. Indeed, if I remember correctly, the worthy old gentleman, who has a hearty liking for a joke, chuckles complacently and openly over the fact that some additional land was thrown in by the authorities as a make-weight for the boggy allotment that has helped to make his fortune. Had it fallen into any other hands it would, in all probability, have never fed anything more profitable than a snipe or a wild-duck. The swamp was by him thoroughly drained and cleared; the brook that supplied it was dammed back so as to form a reservoir, and the precious element was thus rendered available when and where wanted, instead of wandering and wasting itself, a “chartered libertine,” in the useless morass.




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After travelling, as we had done, through sixty miles of dust and drought,—for I never saw any part of New South Wales so thoroughly burnt up as Van Diemen's Land is this summer,—it was delightful to see running water rippling along the courses, and to find one's feet sinking up to the ankles in the deep and damp clover as we crossed the fields. The frogs were loud in their expression of enjoyment; even the water-crosses seemed silently to luxuriate in the cool and moist corners of the ditches.

Mr. K——did not forget to display to us his perhaps unique method of sheep-washing—by the agency of hot water. Two large iron boilers, filled by pipes from a higher level, keep the water at a temperature of 105°, and supply a couple of wooden baths cooled down to 98°. Here the sheep are well rubbed and scrubbed by one set of men, and by others are hauled over a wooden grating into a cold reservoir, whence, after receiving a shower from a set of spouts, they are allowed to escape up an inclined plane of clean pebbles into a grassy paddock, to dry their own coats—and our future pea-jackets and flannel petticoats. The hot water is not found, as might be supposed, to affect hurtfully the yolk of the wool. The extra care and expense bestowed upon the flocks, and the getting up of the fleeces have, I understand, been found highly remunerative—some portions of the wool having sold in England for nearly twice as much as the staple ordinarily prepared.




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A great tract of land called the Salt-pan Plains, belonging to Mr. K——, although very sparely grassed, affords a most wholesome nibble for the sheep—considerable quantities of salt being in dry weather deposited in the hollows.

Sheep-farming is conducted in Van Diemen's Land under more advantageous circumstances than in the colonies on the mainland of New Holland. There are now neither blacks, bush-rangers, nor native dogs to harry and despoil the flocks. The Australian practice, therefore, of folding and watching them by night, and the consequent necessity for driving them and harassing them with collies, soiling their fleeces and crowding them in unhealthy pens, is dispensed with, or “dispensed without”—to use the stronger expression of my fellow-passenger who gave me this information. The “dispensing without” two of every three of the hirelings for the care of the flocks is no slight saving—a saving which perhaps might just turn the scale in which the question of sheep as a profitable investment for capital — if one is to believe the squatters — is yet balancing.

There is nothing remarkably picturesque in the site of Mona Vale, the residence of Mr. K——; but the house itself is excellent; there are pleasant gardens and green-houses full of fruit and flowers, a tolerable growth of English trees, and, moreover,—rare feature in Australian home scenery,—a clear and rapid stream running across


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the lawn and forming beyond it a tolerably large pool, edged with English willows of great growth. Indeed, water at this place appears to have been drilled into perfect obedience to the behests of this ingenious and determined improver of “an arid land in which no water is.” Bath-houses in and out of doors, gardens, and stables, and offices, and even the bedrooms up stairs, are all provided, at a turn of the finger, with a copious supply of the limpid element. Just beyond the lawn, a favourite and beautiful thorough-bred English mare, with a foal at her foot, and amicably attended by a huge emu, was luxuriating in a deep clover meadow.

The proprietor of Mona Vale is a Manxman by birth, and, I suppose, must be the richest Manxman—not excepting the Goldie family—now in existence. His property on this spot is, I am told, about 50,000 acres; and his 20,000 sheep, managed as they are, must be as good as 3,000l. a-year to him. A patriarchal profusion and a good old-fashioned hospitality reign at Mona Vale—almost to a proverb. The table was laid for nearly twice as many guests as were present; and, indeed, these appeared and disappeared without apparent previous notice or ceremony.

January 14th.—After a pleasant stroll about the grounds and visiting the residence of Mr. K——'s son, who with his family inhabits a separate dwelling, but near enough to his father's for mutual defence, and after partaking of a most substantial midday meal, Mr. K——


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accompanied us in his phaeton to the high road, to meet the coach. This very un-punctual vehicle kept him and us waiting a full hour under a scorching sun; yet nothing could persuade him to leave us until he had seen us fairly off, because, as he said, some accident might have happened to the coach. We had no return to make him for this hospitable attention; he was evidently getting tired and bored, as well he might; our small-talk was exhausted, when, casting my eyes upon the panel of his carriage, they fell on the well-known insignia of the Isle of Man,—three armed human legs arranged starwise. “Well, what of that?” mentally inquires the reader. Why, I had been forewarned that our worthy host was an inveterate punster,—of which, indeed, we had received ample proof before the first five minutes of our acquaintance; and further, that these very armorial bearings—legs for arms—afforded him a staple and favourite joke, to which he gave utterance whenever a decent occasion offered. I therefore made some remark regarding the tripod crest, mentioning that of the few spots on the globe that I had visited the Isle of Man was one, and that I had passed a pleasant week or two at the beautiful Castle Mona Hotel, near Douglas,—once the residence of the lords of Athol. The old man's fatigued and faded eye brightened in a moment; he sprung upon and cracked his household joke, as a housemaid might crack a flea, and all was sunshine again! I laughed, my friend laughed, our host laughed, and his


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friend laughed; and the tardy coach driving up, we parted in high good humour, and, as I hope, with mutual good opinion and good will.

There was a gentleman in a cabbage-tree hat and an advanced stage of inebriety occupying my engaged seat on the box; but he was soon stowed somewhere among the luggage after making a faint and inarticulate request to be allowed to act bodkin between the coachman and myself. “Crack went the whip, round went the wheels:” the coach was two hours late, and we had sixty miles before us. The driver for this half of the journey was quite a young man, intelligent and respectable. He had travelled. He had been to California; had lost nothing by going thither, and had gained nothing but experience. He preferred Van Diemen's to any other land, especially on account of its climate—was married and lived at Launceston. The vehicle was quite as overloaded as it had been yesterday. I recommended that the fare should be raised, as the demand for travelling accommodation was evidently greater than the supply on this road, and every one in Van Diemen's Land seemed to have plenty of money. Yet the rage for cheap things—which is the ruin of all things—is as strong here as it is in England. “Raise the fare, Sir?” said the poor coachman; “why the public will very soon expect us to pay them for travelling with us!”

The guard, as before, lived a promiscuous sort of life on the exterior of the coach—like a restless bird on a


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tree, now sitting, now hanging, now thrown loosely across some part or parcel belonging to the vehicle.

Just behind me, and next to my friend—whose well-proportioned soul-case is not of very compressible materials—sat an entire family occupying the place of one outsider—a kind of human pyramid, differing, however, from that form inasmuch as the base was not the widest part. A slight young man composed the lower layer; the second was a fine, rosy-faced, bulbous young woman sitting on his knees; and the apex was a bouncing babe of two years old seated upon hers. Common humanity forbade such a compilation for a twelve hours' journey on a summer's-day;—mine made me head-nurse for the nonce, and accordingly I carried the child for several stages.

A few miles beyond Mona Vale, we crossed the Macquarie River by a fine stone bridge of fourteen or fifteen arches, and passed through the rather pretty town of Ross. Our course thence traversed a level and apparently fruitful tract, watered, on our left, by the above-named river, and by the South Esk on our right—grand ranges of mountains rising beyond them, Ben Lomond on the one hand, the Western Tiers on the other.

Sometimes almost brought to a walk by the new-laid macadam, the deep sand, or the now dry mud of the alluvial flats, at others racing over miles of inimitably smooth road, we drove through Campbeltown and Cleveland,—small straggling townships. We crossed the


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South Esk by a solid stone bridge, and found ourselves in a richly cultured district with fruitful farms almost adjoining each other and betokening the neighbourhood of a considerable market for agricultural produce. The grain crops here were very luxuriant—so much so as to ensure, I should suppose, 500 per cent. profit to the fortunate farmers in a season (like the present) of general drought and failure throughout Australia.

At about seventeen miles from Launceston, we reached the by-road to the estate of a gentleman who had obligingly invited us for a night; but a report that the steamer would positively sail the next morning compelled us, very reluctantly, to break our engagement. Mr. W——, with whom we were not personally acquainted, was waiting for us at his gate. The coachman pulled up. My friend the Doctor was wrapped in a martial cloak, with a scarlet lining. Mr. W——“presumed he was the Colonel,” and darted distrustful glances at the white-hatted, pea-coated tenant of the box-seat with the baby on his lap, who saluted him politely. The poor little brat was asleep; I had forgotten it altogether; it had become a sort of a second nature to me. We had imparted our regrets to our intended host, made our adieu, and the coach had driven onwards some miles before I recollected, with a loud laugh, and suddenly placed in connexion the puzzled look of Mr. W——, with the Doctor who looked like a colonel and Colonel who looked like something between a doctor


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and a dry-nurse, the poor slumbering innocent, and the somewhat relieved expression of countenance exhibited by that hospitable gentleman when he found that the whole of this establishment, nurseling included, together with a big soldier servant and a good amount of baggage, were not to be transferred from the coach to his light dog-cart, and from the dog-cart to his family circle! We on our side regretted the loss of our visit to this much respected colonist; the more, because we had heard at Hobart Town that there was no place in the country that would have given us a better idea of the establishment of a substantial gentleman settler; none that could have shown us at a glance a better part of the colony, or a property more successfully adapted to farming and breeding.

“Get on, Tom,” said the guard (he wore a red coat) to the coachman,—“you must get on a bit,” said he, in a manner that reminded me of old stage times; but it was all in vain. The poor little horses, some of them hardly fourteen hands high, were no match for the crowded coach—they were fairly done up. Night had set in two hours before we reached Launceston, and so we had not only to take for granted the beauty of the country around that town, but the additional danger of darkness was added to a steeply-descending and twisting road, a top-heavy coach, wretchedly weak wheel-horses, and nothing but a “lively faith” to supply the mundane safeguards of drag-chain, breeching, bearing-reins, and


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blinkers, of which there was not a semblance in this ill-conditioned turn-out.

On the steepest pitch of the hill, the coach at last succeeded in running over the horses, and had not the young driver behaved with coolness and skill, we must have rolled bodily into the valley of the Esk. The forewheels were within a few inches of the coping of the road; I felt as if I were “going to Alibama, (or elsewhere,) with my babby on my knee,” when he contrived to turn the pole aside so as to enable him to pull up the horses and to stop the carriage. In consequence of this fortunate escape from extreme peril, at 10 P.M. I had the satisfaction of delivering over my infantine charge safe and sound asleep at the entrance of the Cornwall Hotel, Launceston, where my travelling companion and myself had engaged rooms.

The town of Launceston, ranking next in importance to Hobart Town, is seated on the confluence of the rivers North and South Esk, where their mingled tribute forms the Tamar. The two former streams are not navigable. The latter affords passage for vessels under 400 tons from its mouth, in Bass's Straits, up to the wharfs of the town, a distance of about forty miles. Its course, however, is tortuous and baffling, and would be unsafe but for a line of buoys. Although every way inferior as a harbour to Hobart Town, and with hardly a fourth of its population, the port of Launceston, being more favourably situated for commerce with the


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neighbouring colonies, and having an infinitely larger share of good arable land near at hand, discharges a greater amount of exports than the other. In 1848 the value of the exports from the port of Hobart Town was 55,000l., that of Launceston 69,000l.

I have heard the population of Launceston variously computed at 4,000 and 7,000 souls; and by striking a balance between the two numbers, the truth would most probably be arrived at. There is little to admire in the town itself, although doubtless it is full of charms in the eyes of its inhabitants. The climate of this part of the island has the character of being delightful. It shows itself in the healthy appearance of the people, especially in the young. I saw in this town and its vicinity a very good average of pretty girls, with fine teeth and high colour. Further on in life the heat and the glare of the sun injures the natural beauty of the English complexion, bringing it pretty nearly to the Anglo-American level. The temperature is sometimes very variable, ranging over thirty degrees between morning and evening.

Having occasion to buy some opossum rugs for my projected voyage Home round the Horn, and the fur of this animal being thicker and darker here than in New South Wales, I was referred to one “Johnny All-sorts,”—a personage as well known as the parish pump. This useful individual I found a great admirer of the climate. He cited an instance of a friend of his who settled


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originally at Port Phillip, but, “enjoying” bad health there, he removed to Launceston. “He was as thin as a plank, or as you are, Sir, when he came, but in a few months he became as lusty as myself.” Johnny was a puncheon personified, and any one less spherical, it was evident, was, according to his views in danger of atrophy. His store was a picture of the Omnium Gatherum such as is seen in all newly-settled places before the trades assume sufficient importance to subdivide themselves. A bet, as I was told, had been offered and taken, that no one article could be named by the taker which would not be found in Johnny All-sorts' repertorium. “A pulpit,” was rather unfairly named; but a pulpit, somewhat soiled and neglected by disuse, but an undoubted pulpit was immediately forthcoming. All it wanted was a strenuous divine to knock the dust out of it.

The streets of Launceston are wide and simply laid out, as those of all new towns are or ought to be, and have no excuse for not being. They are as dusty as those of Hobart Town and Sydney. There is a pleasant gleam of verdure through the gates of the Botanic Garden,—a generic name in these colonies for any plot of ground laid out for public promenading,—however little devoted to science.

The Military Barracks—(in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land the adjective is necessary to distinguish the cantonments from the convict barracks)—are pleasantly situated—a thing that can seldom be said of


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a barrack, (except in Ireland,) on the junction of the Esk with the Tamar, just where the former debouches from a romantic glen. Launceston has always been a favourite quarter with the officers of H.M.'s regiments, chiefly on account of an agreeable provincial society in the vicinity, more given, perhaps, to the country-house hospitality of the old country than is the case in any other of our Australian dependencies. The town society of Launceston is civic, in the severest sense of the term. The retail grocer and draper apologises on meeting a newly arrived officer for not having yet paid his respects to him; and the latter, if lately arrived from England, does not at first comprehend that this is a proffer of acquaintance, and not merely an application for the custom of the new comer. It is not to be denied that, to some military gentlemen, the visiting-card of their tailor might be more welcome than his “small account,” but no apology surely is necessary for delay in tendering one or the other!

The tradespeople of Launceston spoke more cheerily of “the times” than those engaged in agricultural or grazing pursuits. Like the Sydneyites, the settlers in Van Diemen's Land apparently mistook temporary and extraordinary prosperity for certain and permanent wealth. While the younger colonies of South Australia and Port Phillip were stocking their earliest pastures—pastures boundless in space—from the Van Diemen's Land flocks and herds, the Tasmanian farmers made


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large fortunes by the sale of their mere surplus—the sheep and oxen for which there was no available feeding room in the island: but the tables were soon turned; for so rapidly did the stock increase in the more northern colonies, that the superabundance changed hands, and the interchange of live stock between the ports of Launceston and Melbourne, the capital of Port Phillip, has, of late years, been greatly in favour of the latter.

January 15th, Launceston.—The sailing of the Shamrock was deferred on account of blowy weather; and perhaps because the captain's wife and family lived at Launceston, and the captain himself was uxorious. What was to be done for a whole day at Launceston? There was no “man to be hanged” as it happened. My Lord Tom Noddy—even Tiger Tim himself—would have been puzzled. Fortunately, however, we fell in with Mr.——,the resident agent of the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural Company, who was to be our fellow-passenger as far as Circular Head, the local head-quarters of that Association, and who recommended and offered to accompany us in a trip to Longford races, as affording a good opportunity of seeing one of the finest agricultural districts of the colony, and a glimpse of Tasmanian rural life. An open carriage with a smart pair of horses was quickly procured; and we enjoyed a truly delightful and England-like drive of fourteen or fifteen miles through a smiling champaign country such as I have nowhere else seen in Australasia. The forests or bush


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of Van Diemen's Land resemble pretty closely those of New South Wales, the gum-tree being hardly less universal in its reign; but the blue gum, the pride of the Tasmanian Sylva, does not flourish in the northern half of the island.

The face of the country through which we passed is agreeably undulating, and the cleared lands, unlike those of every other new colony, are quite unblemished by stumps—one of the good effects of convict-labour. This preparation of the soil is, however, costly to Government, owing to the price of the prisoners' maintenance and custody, and their miserable sloth as operatives.

It was a cold blowy day, alternate sunshine and gloom. Ben Lomond wore a neutral-tinted cap of clouds, from which he threw us an occasional shower dyed in the rainbow. Lighter vapours hung in mid air, and were drifted across the landscape, flinging down their fugitive shadows upon upland and plain and wide tracts of golden grain crops ready for the sickle. Unlike Australia, the enclosures were here as often marked by hedges as by rail-fences, and here and there a single large tree, or a group of them, had been spared to adorn a field. The South Esk, a deep and slow stream, which we crossed by a ferry-boat, meanders along and fertilizes this favoured district. The tall hedges of gorse in full bloom looked and smelt like Home. We met a flock of sheep driven by a shepherd with a real pastoral crook—the crozier of his diocesan authority, and two tailless dogs


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that dodged through gaps in the fences, or scrambled at full speed over the backs of the close-serried flock in order to lead them in the way they should go. Now and then we overtook good substantial spring-carts filled with burly yeomen, their sonsy helpmates and no end of rosy children—the hind-part of the vehicle looking like a basket of peonies in full bloom, while beneath it trotted a trusty mastiff. In our turn we were passed by a smarter dog-cart or two driven by young farmers, or by fast-trotting hacks bestridden by rustic beaux in tops and cords, straw hats and hunting-whips. A traveller addicted to absence of mind, and imaginary absence of body, might well have fancied himself in Derbyshire.

The Longford race-course lies near the village of that name, a brick-built village—brick from the church-tower to the pigsty. The clergyman's house—fortunately veiled round with shrubbery—looks out upon the hippodrome. It was a regular rustic meeting. A wooden platform for the judge, with a small pen for the ceremony of weighing, half a dozen booths decorated with motley bunting, half a dozen hack carriages, as many dog-carts, about fifty horsemen, and twice as many pedestrians, constituted the company of this Tasmanian Doncaster. The running was absurdly bad, but there were some very nice horses on the course, and a few of a good old-fashioned stamp—such as is now not common anywhere, and is unknown in New South Wales.




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Among the running horses was a mare worth going some distance to see—“The Farmer's Daughter,”—a splendid creature for size, shape, colour, and breeding—sixteen hands, jet black, without a speck, and of admirable symmetry. As for performance, she would make a greater sensation in Rotten Row, with a well-dressed six-foot cavalier on her back, than at Epsom or Ascot; for although there was nothing at Longford-races to come near her, she has met with more than her match on the turf of this island.

The Van Diemonians, as they unpleasingly call themselves or permit themselves to be called, are justly proud of their horse-flesh. They have opened a market with India, which is likely to prove beneficial to buyer and seller.

Among a series of equine anecdotes related to me by the stage-coachman on our late journey—anecdotes which, emanating ex cathedrâ (from the box), I invariably receive with respectful faith—there was one relating to a horse of the team running into Launceston, which I will repeat as testifying to the staunchness of the Tasmanian breed. “Do you see that little 'oss, Sir? the off leader, Sir?” said my informant; “that little 'oss, Sir, is the best bit of stuff I ever sat behind. That little 'oss ain't to be beaten by anything that stands on four legs. You can't go too fast or too far for that little 'oss. He's been on this road these eight years—off and on. I'll tell you a curious story about that little 'oss,


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Sir.” The story told how “the gent that owned him then” drove him one afternoon in his gig from Launceston to a friend's house seventeen miles distant, and after dinner back again to the town. That same night he was stolen from the stable by a notorious bush-ranger—one who had need of speed and knew the powers of this horse,—and before twelve o'clock the next day he was sold by auction—“that little 'oss was” —at Hobart Town by his borrower, looking “as fresh as a new pin,” having carried this Tasmanian Dick Turpin one hundred and twenty-one miles in the interim.

January 16th.—The waiter of the hotel announced to us this morning that Launceston was in a state of unusual excitement, on account of a grand meeting and grand breakfast to be holden and given in honour of the Delegates of the Tasmanian Anti-Transportation Society, and further that the Cornwall Hotel was to be the scene of this demonstration. My friend and myself, although too obtuse to discover any token of popular ebullition in the dull little town, were thankful to have got timely warning that the aforesaid delegates were actually “under orders” to proceed to Melbourne in the Shamrock, for the purpose of conferring with their brother Antis of Port Phillip, and thence to Sydney to gather recruits for the League; and further, that they were to march in procession, bands playing and colours flying, after breakfast, from the Inn to the wharf. Forewarned we were


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forearmed. There was no time to lose; so packing up our baggage and paying our bill we hastened on board the steamer in the tamest and most undemonstrative manner;—for to have been involved in a party procession in Van Diemen's Land—however involuntary the enrolment—would have sounded ill at the Horse Guards, we thought, and would not have redounded much to our credit even in New South Wales. Ten minutes later the Delegates approached, escorted by a considerable crowd—the band playing “Love Not,” and other equally appropriate airs. Several sets of cheers were proposed by a gentleman on the paddle-box, and responded to by the multitude; and I am pleased and bound to state that “The Queen” was received with every testimony of loyalty and respect.

On the absorbing question of transportation there seemed to exist in Van Diemen's Land almost as great diversity of opinion as in New South Wales. The Antis have naturally the best of the argument, or, at least, they employ more strenuous language than their opponents. The advantage of verbal fulmination lies on their side; for it is always easier to attack than to defend a system. For some weeks after I escaped from the steamer, my ears rang with the stale set phrases—“social contamination;” “the outpourings of British crime;” “imported corruption;” “the beautiful land of our adoption made a moral cesspool!” “moral pollution!” “moral scabies!!” “moral leprosy!!!” &c.




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More than once in Van Diemen's Land I heard very violent language used with respect to the continuance of transportation; and, in one instance especially, a discontented or bilious gentleman, whose station and education might have taught him better taste, worked himself up to such a state of rabid denunciation of Government measures, colonial and imperial, in which he was joined and assisted by a beneficed clergyman of the Church of England, that I felt my position as a guest of the house, and as an imperial officer, extremely embarrassing—so much so, that I was very glad to quit the shelter of so republican a roof. In this discussion the most absurd charges were brought against the Home and Colonial Government. I give one instance. To prove that expenses that ought to have been defrayed out of imperial funds had been unfairly charged against the colony, we were told that, a short time before, a convict, who was dying in the hospital, had been emancipated a day or two before his death in order that he might die a free man, and thus the cost of his burial might fall on the Colonial purse!” Here was a financial dodge with a vengeance! The simple truth was, that the term of the poor moribund's sentence expired before himself, and thus he and his friends (if he chanced to possess any) had the satisfaction of feeling that he died a free man. One fiery declaimer would have it that the time was drawing near when they would have to fight for their independence; or, at any rate, the Queen would


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have to send a large force to keep them in subjection; and the colony would have the benefit of a large military expenditure, instead of the present shamefully reduced garrisons. I assured this patriot that England would not strike a blow, except against a foreign foe, for the retention of Van Diemen's Land; and that the force at present in the colony could keep them in perfect order, if necessary.

I observed in this island, as elsewhere, a strange inconsistency between public protestation and private procedure on the convict question. This was easily explained;—it was popular to denounce convictism, profitable to employ convict labour! I heard of a president of an anti-transportation meeting discussing the question in the abstract, and descanting with tears in his eyes upon the anxious feelings of a husband and a father, when called by duty or business to leave his family in the hands of a convict neighbourhood. He was drily questioned how it happened that, possessed of such opinions, he had, on this occasion, left his wife and children in the power of thirty-six prisoners in his own employment! This insinuation was, of course, repelled with indignation, and refuted on the spot. Not a bit of it. The virtuous denouncer of convictism denied that he employed thirty-six convicts,—he only kept thirty!

But Shamrock is under weigh, cramfull of passengers, some of them bound to Sydney like myself, others to Circular Head, several to Melbourne, and a few only on


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a jaunt to George Town—the Brighton of North Tasmania. I counted thirteen vessels, from 150 to 400 tons, alongside the wharf at Launceston. The largest ship was loading for California. After forty miles of serpentining down the picturesque Tamar against a rough wind, our steamer dropped anchor in the little cove off George Town, where we remained, weather-bound and wretched, the whole of the next day. My friend and myself sent ashore, and secured, as we thought, beds for the night; but we were dispossessed by the villanous Boniface in favour of a party of more permanent customers,—a family of Launceston shopkeepers, coming to astonish their skins by a week's sea-bathing.

George Town is a miserable spot, looking like the ghost of a departed marine bagnio, and seated on a dreary flat scarcely above the level of the sea. About a dozen and a half of houses, public and private, and a small church surround a rushy common, such as one sees in the fenny counties of England. In America or Asia it would be the head-quarters of ague; yet it is, in fact, particularly healthy.

George Town owed its sudden rise to the necessity existing for a port of shipment for live stock from this island to Port Phillip, when the latter great squatting settlement was created by the former. It derived importance also from being a military and convict station. Both these sources of importance have now failed the poor little place. The ruins of the respective barracks


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are all that remain of the Government-men and their guards. The township is strewed with the melancholy proofs of money, public and private, fruitlessly expended.

From a somewhat restless and dissipated-looking fellow-passenger, who with bee-like diligence seemed to sip to the dregs the sweets of every place and pleasure that fell in his way, (for I had subsequent leisure to mark his mode of life,) and who remained ashore until a late hour at night and came on board sleepy and unsober, I elicited the fact that quoits, skittles, and a bagatelle-board were all that was to be had in the way of “life” at George Town. This gentleman would have liked it better in an earlier stage of its existence, for, in the old days of mismanaged convictism, George Town, it is written, was a perfect hell upon earth. Rum, riot, and misrule,—a state of communism among the male and female prisoners,—and peculation, and concubinage with the convict women among the official people,—such was “life” in George Town in its palmy days!

January 18th.—Got under weigh from George Town, and proceeded along the northern coast of Van Diemen's Land towards Circular Head—distant 70 miles. But ere the vessel was permitted to take her final departure, a ceremony was gone through which smacked somewhat of the hateful passport system of continental Europe, and reminded one that the mouth of the Tamar is in fact one of the gates of a huge prison. A functionary came


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on board, and, in a manner I must say by no means offensive, possessed himself of every passenger's history, so far at least as to make it impossible, or next to impossible for a convict to evacuate the island as a passenger or one of the crew. Yet, on a late occasion the vigilance of this officer was at fault. A Port Phillip paper thus states the instance:—

“A tolerably good sized case, about four feet six in height by two feet in width, was shipped at Launceston; in the Shamrock, for this port (Port Phillip), as a case of stuffed birds; and with a view to no damage occurring to the precious package, it was not put on board until the vessel was on the point of sailing, and was then deposited in the hold allotted to steerage passengers. No more was thought of the case until the arrival of the vessel at the port, or indeed for some time after, when it was discovered that a principal portion of the lid, or rather, according to the position in which the case had stood during the voyage, one side had been taken off, and there lay sundry appurtenances of a lady's wardrobe, a comb, a pair of boots, a gin bottle nearly empty, the remnants of a few biscuits and some cold beef.” Various arrangements had been made to enable the tenant to stow as close as possible, and there was a hole for ventilation under the card on which the address was written.

Like the stage-coaches of Tasmania the steamer, a nice vessel of perhaps 300 tons, and commanded by a deservedly popular man, was most uncomfortably over-crowded.


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We had about twenty-five cabin passengers, and a very motley assemblage we formed. There were civil and military and clerical, medical and legal and mechanical gentlemen, Jews and Gentiles, merchants and squatters. As for the “civil condition” (as the Census papers call it) of the guests at the cuddy-table, there was really every gradation of the bond and the free, short of prisoners under actual restraint. One or two of them had “lag” so indelibly written on their hardened lineaments, that, opulent as they might now be, it seemed monstrous that they should be permitted to jostle gentlemen of character on equal terms.

I recollect a few years ago, when travelling in the United States, entering one of the large railway omni-buses, constructed with a passage up the middle, and on either side a series of seats formed to hold two persons each. There were thirty or forty passengers, and when we were all seated there remained one vacant place only, yet several persons still continued standing. Not giving travellers of any nation, and especially Yankee travellers, credit for much ceremonious politeness and self-sacrifice, I was induced to examine the solitary. A glance satisfied me that the fact of his skin being a shade darker than that of the others was the cause of his ostracism. In order to avoid the neighbourhood of the vulgar, inquisitive, “expecting,” and expectorating white savage, who shared my bench, I crossed over and took the seat next to the well-dressed, well-educated, and highly


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intelligent half-caste gentleman;—and, strange to say, there was a general rush for my vacated seat by those who would have thought it contamination to have travelled in contact with a coloured man. With better reason I found myself shrinking from a commenced acquaintance with a fellow-passenger in the Shamrock, when I heard that he had but lately got his freedom from the consequences of a crime which blasts a man's character for ever; and had, since his manumission, committed an act of the grossest depravity and breach of faith. Yet this person, being clever in his profession, is never in want of employment. Every trip of the steamer imports a large detachment of the “freed” and “filtered” from Van Diemen's Land to New South Wales—a very sore subject with the anti-transportationist party at Sydney. There were two or three passengers named to me as the offspring of convicts, estimable people, on whom to visit the expiated sins of their parents — expiated as far as human laws were concerned — would have been cruel injustice. A remarkably handsome and ladylike person was pointed out to me as a daughter of “Margaret Catchpole,” the well-known heroine of Mr. Cobbold's tale. There were some among the free who merited the adjunct of easy also—gentlemen of the bush, of the cabbage-tree hat and corduroys, of the beard, the belt, and the black pipe, with an exiguity of luggage amounting to the extremity of light marching order.

While I am writing these notes, a tall, picturesque-looking


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sprig of the squattocracy has just pitched his “swag”—a leathern valise—through the open skylight on to the cuddy table, to the astonishment of my ink-stand—and of myself had I been capable of astonishment—a feeling luckily almost rubbed off by fair wear and tear. Nor did this hardy bushman treat his person more tenderly than his wallet. At night, having no cabin, he threw himself down on the oil-cloth table-cover, where, swathed in a blanket, he looked like a huge sturgeon on a fishmonger's slab. Six or eight others were no better accommodated. The table was strewed with mysterious sleeping forms, and one wondered what manner of creatures would emerge with day-light from their several cocoons.

Nowhere have I seen individuals of the wealthier classes travel so untrammeled with baggage as in these colonies. Sir Charles Napier himself would be charmed and satisfied with their simplicity of kitt. But no—on recollection I have seen it outdone in another land. On board the Great Western steamer, bound from New York to Bristol, I shared a cabin with three other men. When I reviewed my ton-and-a-quarter of personals I could not but envy the independence of one of these gentlemen whose tiny portmanteau contained two shirt-fronts, a pair of boots, and a bowie-knife.

Among the passengers in the Shamrock my notice was particularly attracted to a tall, stout, German-like man, about fifty years of age, with huge reddish whiskers,


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attired in a dirty drab Chesterfield, without waistcoat, gloves, or other expletives of dress, and who stood generally with hands in pockets smoking his cigar and leaning against the funnel. When he did draw forth a great pair of freckled fists it was either to light another cigar or to refer to a note-book. It was a note-book worth referring to! When not thus employed he was frequently sleeping, or apparently sleeping, on a bench before his cabin-door. This person was Mr. S. T. C——, well known as the great land-owner and land-purchaser. Last year he purchased from Government 28,000l. worth of land in the Port Phillip district, which, at the minimum price of Crown-lands, would give the like number of acres; and within his cabin-door, whereat he keeps a sort of mastiff watch, although not an obvious one, lies a small portmanteau in which, as he told me himself, he has at this moment 20,000l. (5,000l. in gold,) which he is carrying to Melbourne for the purchase of another block or special survey of Crown-land. In Van Diemen's Land he has already purchased 50,000 acres, part from the Crown, part from private persons—a good deal of it cleared, fenced, and with more than one valuable homestead. This season, he informed me, he had sheared in New South Wales 90,000, and in Van Diemen's Land 40,000 sheep. He had sent to England this year 1,500 bales of wool, which at 20l. a bale, gives 30,000l. He has no taste for the luxuries; cares little even for the comforts of life,


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as far as himself is concerned. He is bestowing on his children a liberal education, his sons studying with a clergyman in England. They will soon be able to share his labours—the labour of amassing money and property. This amount of wealth, the end of which is not easy to foresee, sprung from a small beginning. When others, in the bad times, were ruined, he bought at his own price the live stock and land that they were compelled to sell. When prices rose he sold part, and stocked the plains of Port Phillip with the rest. Like the Gullys and Hudsons of the old country, he seems to possess an innate power of quick calculation which in matters of business is worth all the acquired powers in the world. Such men strike while the iron is hot; others ponder and waver until it cools.

Mr. C——was originally a butcher in Sydney. The nest-egg of his now immense possessions was probably—next to nothing. With an old white castor jammed down upon his brows, there is no indication of superior acuteness in the expression of his rough, pockmarked countenance and ordinary features; but on the outlines of his fine bald head it is impossible not to read the development of a quick and powerful mind. Yet it is not only his long head that particularly qualifies him for the despatch of business and the management of his multifarious concerns. His physical power and formidable person—for he must be six feet high, and about fifteen stone (“sinking the offal,” to use a phrase of his


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former craft!)—are valuable allies (as he indeed admitted) in the control of the unruly class of men he employs in parts of the country where the law has little or no force.

In the shearing season he is compelled to collect, at his head stations, about fifty or sixty roving, roaring, rowdy blades — wild hands when idle, but good at a “clip.” On these occasions he takes care to be present himself, and does not forget to bring with him a cask of rum, (the teetotal Anti-transportation delegates shuddered!) which, when the business is finished, he abandons to the discretion of the workmen, instead of troubling himself with the daily doling of it out.

If Mr. Clark is to make 30 or 40,000l. a-year by his wool, and is resolved to turn it, or half of it, into land, he must shortly become the proprietor of a principality which will cause the Arch-Dukes and Princes of central Europe, and the Rajahs and Nawaubs of central India to sink by comparison into insignificant squireens. Should his flocks continue to increase in the ordinary yearly ratio, he will soon possess as many woolly subjects as the kings of Congo, Loango, and Mandingo put together!

In case the Government decline to part with more territory to this gentleman—and I am aware the policy of so doing has been questioned—he will find private proprietors of land amenable to his gold. Indeed I have before me a paper, showing that in the year 1846, at the sale by auction of a fine private property in Van


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Diemen's Land, he bought 23,000 acres for less than 14,000l., (a large portion of it fenced and improved,)—9,000l. below the Government minimum price for wild land. His enormous squatting establishments moreover will give him the right of preemption over considerable tracts. For myself, I consider Mr. C——a real benefactor, a veritable patriot to his adopted country; for every ten or twelve pounds that he expends on Crown Land will bring, or ought to bring, to Australia a free emigrant; and population is the highest boon that can be conferred upon a young colony. At the risk of undue accumulation of property, and the consequent undue influence resident in one individual, let the Government take his guineas and give their waste land, in full reliance on human nature and past experience, and in the certainty that what one generation amasses the next will dissipate, or at least divide.

In the spirit of blamable indifference generally shown by the Australians towards the Industrial Exhibition of 1851,—(that great tournament of the arts,)—Mr. C——either had sent Home or had forgotten to send Home (he scarcely knew which!) a fleece weighing 27 lbs., the growth of as many months from one sheep—the staple of which was 21 inches long. Mr. C——stated openly that he employs prisoners whenever he can get them in preference to freemen, especially raw immigrants. (The delegates shuddered again. It was “as good as a play” to watch the effects of such statements upon the countenances


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of these worthy men!) Several other large employers of labour sided with him on this point. One would have supposed that the delegates—one of whom was a clergyman strong in head and firm of purpose, the other a gentleman of considerable mental acquirements and natural eloquence—would, on this question, not only have had the best of the argument, but all the argument to themselves. There are some people, however, that it is vain to pelt with ethics and moralities, or such small shot;—as well shoot boiled peas at one of Mr. Cumming's rhinoceroses! They are invulnerable except to arithmetical results,—the logic of profit and loss.

Singularly enough, we had on board one considerable hirer of labourers, who, apparently without any moral objection to convict labour, employed exclusively free labour, and free labour exclusively on principles of economy, namely, our new friend, the Commissioner of the Van Diemen's Land Company; a company—owing to no fault of their own—that cannot afford to be sentimental in the conduct of their affairs. Mr. ——prefers paying 20l. a-year wages to the emigrant rather than 9l. for the pass-holder; because he calculates that it will take two or three years to teach a Manchester weaver, a Nottingham spinner, or a London pickpocket the duties of a farming man…. Once more a truce to convictism! It is a subject that so constantly collars the attention in these colonies as to prove a clog to the


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onward progress of a narrative, and one almost impossible to handle except in the spirit of a furious partizan.

Mr. C——is one of those characters that are seldom met with except in young and wild countries, and not often there. It is in the crash of social and financial chaos that such men elbow their way to the front rank—the greater the general confusion and dismay the more certain their success. They are the rari nantes, who, with the eyes firmly fixed on one object, after manifold buffettings, come safe to land. In England there are instances of individuals—especially among the manufacturing classes—who, in the course of one lifetime, have raised themselves and their families from moderate means to enormous wealth. But in Australia all the stages between adventurous beggary and inordinate possessions have, in some cases, been traversed in a quarter of man's usual term of existence.

At three P.M., having steamed ten hours, we reached Circular Head, the chief station, as I have said, of the Van Diemen's Land Agricultural Company, and we cast anchor in a small cove sheltered by the natural feature suggestive of the name, (a huge basaltic bluff, nearly 500 feet high,) and united to the main by a low and narrow isthmus. As we drew near, it looked like an active volcano; for the summit was enveloped in blaze and smoke, the grass having been fired in order to produce a fresh crop.

About a mile inland, on a somewhat exposed plateau


  ― 268 ―
of good land, appears the farm of Stanley, with the house and gardens of the agent, embowered in fine timber. Nearer the harbour is the village of the same name, containing perhaps a dozen houses, a greatly overgrown and disproportionate tavern, and a remarkably diminitive church. The Company possess 20,000 acres at head-quarters—their entire landed property in the island amounting to 350,000 acres. Emu Bay, one of their settlements, the Commissioner assured me, is a perfect little paradise,—“the climate all the year round like that of a greenhouse with the windows open.”

The captain of the Shamrock allowing us two hours, my friend and myself accompanied Mr. ——to the Resident's house, a spacious building with most delightful gardens. It is surrounded by a well-fenced deer park, where an immense herd of fallow-deer, the first I have met with in Australia, are turned out. It was a curious sight to see the beautiful denizens of our English parks, interspersed with a few Durham bulls of high breed, feeding under the shade of the Banksia and the Eucalyptus, up to their bellies in English grasses, while a group of tall Emus—birds that are always fond of the company of large quadrupeds—stalked amicably amongst them.

From the roof of an outhouse, for we had no time to go further, we got a glimpse of the surrounding farm, divided into regular enclosures, neatly fenced with the English quickset, laid down in English grasses and


  ― 269 ―
clovers, among which no stumps were permitted to appear, and traversed by English-looking lanes sheltered with hawthorn hedges. On the distant mainland we descried the clearings of some of the Company's tenants.

There are several hundred renters of land and labourers, all free men, located in the territories of this Association. Their title appeared to me to be something of a misnomer, for I doubt if there be such a thing as a plough on their wide-spread domain. They are graziers rather than agriculturists. I fear that the laudable and promising experiment of peopling and cultivating this fine tract of country does not, at present, prove remunerative.

We were received at the Commissioner's residence by this gentleman's very charming wife, who, with a numerous family, conspires to render agreeable a mode of life otherwise singularly solitary and sequestered; for the Company's territory on the north-west corner of the island is cut off by sixty or seventy miles of unreclaimed forest and mountain from any other inhabited region. Bass's Straits, separating Van Diemen's Land from New Holland, are, at this point, about 140 miles across.




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Chapter IX.

PASSAGE TO PORT PHILLIP—ITS ORIGIN—A WHITE SAVAGE—FLOREAT VICTORIA—A STATE CABIN—A LAND-BUYER'S “SWAG”—A CHEMIST, A DRAPER, A HOSTESS—SEPARATION—SUCCESSFUL SHEEP-FARMING—ANTIFELON CONFEDERATION — THERMOMETER 110° — FRESH COMPANY — A NASTY SEA—TWO FOLD BAY—A BUSH CAVALIER—RUDIMENTS OF SQUATTING—SYDNEY'S SIXTY-THIRD BIRTHDAY.

AT seven P.M. got up steam again, and away across the straits in a north-west direction towards Port Phillip,—Port Phillip, hitherto a rich and prosperous province of New South Wales, but now on the point of legislative separation under the new title of the Colony of Victoria. The divorce, in fact, has passed the Houses of Parliament, and only needs to be received and promulgated by the Governor of the senior colony.

I will remind my reader that the territory of Port Phillip was originally taken possession of in the year 1804 by an expedition from Home, despatched with the object of forming there a penal settlement. Hastily selecting a sterile tract of land, where water was scarce


  ― 271 ―
and bad, and without any exploration of the adjacent fine country, the conductors of the undertaking as hastily abandoned the spot, and, re-shipping the troops and convicts, sailed for Van Diemen's Land, where they settled down at Hobart Town. Thus deserted, it was not until 1835 that this eligible territory was once more resumed by Englishmen. A party of squatters from Van Diemen's Land, wanting space for their increasing flocks, crossed the Straits, and quickly proved themselves more determined than the Imperial expedition in their occupation and appropriation of the soil. Mr. Batman and his companions purchased, or imagined, or pretended to imagine they had purchased about 600,000 acres—two or three English counties!—from an Aboriginal firm residing in the bush—three blacks of the same family;—“Jaga Jaga and Brothers,” as they might be styled—the latter house signing and duly executing a regular cut-and-dried deed of conveyance, whereby “All Persons” were requested to “Know” that in consideration of a certain quantity of blankets, knives, tomahawks, scissors, looking-glasses, slops and flour—together with a yearly tribute of the like articles besides—the original proprietors did “give grant”—(but it makes one sick to go on! and I have previously troubled my indulgent reader with a sketch of some such document as employed in New Zealand.) The Government, however, fully alive to the value of this fine province and port as a field for emigration, disabused Messrs. Batman and others of their illusion, explaining


  ― 272 ―
to them in the most practical manner the theory of colonial waste lands, and their absolute investment in the Crown as trustee for the public. The Derwent Company became, therefore, squatters on the land, taking out depasturing licences under the Government of New South Wales; and the claims of the Association “were finally disposed of by a compensation allowance to the extent of 7,000l., to be given by way of remission in the purchase of land.”note

This was no great boon, certainly, in return for their exertions as pioneers; and these exertions were not trifling, nor unattended by danger, for several of the first settlers from Van Diemen's Land fell victims to the blacks. Whatever might have been the character of the transaction with the Aborigines, it is to such enterprising men as Batman and his companions that Britain owes many of her most valuable dependencies. The ape is not the only animal that avails itself of the cat's paw!

Mr. Westgarth relates a curious incident connected with the early history of Port Phillip, as follows:—

“Several persons who were engaged in landing sheep from a trader lying off the present port of Williams Town, at Hobson's Bay, perceived a being of extraordinary appearance who had approached the scene of the operations. He was a man of large dimensions,


  ― 273 ―
differing considerably from the Aboriginal natives, but scarcely to be recognised as an European. Seated under a tree, he was watching the shepherds with a kind of listless gaze, little excited by the presence of the strangers. When accosted by the settlers, however, he seemed to be roused from his lethargy, and was observed to repeat their words slowly over to himself, as if endeavouring to recal their meaning. This singular individual was ascertained to have been one of the convicts brought out to Port Phillip, thirty-three years previously, under Colonel Collins. His name was Buckley. He had been a private soldier, and transported for striking his superior officer. Along with several fellow-convicts he had effected his escape, during the brief period that the party occupied the southern coast of the Bay. Having outlived his comrades, he had wandered throughout the adjacent country with the Aboriginal natives; and during so lengthened an experience of savage life, had dismissed the outward characteristics of a civilized being. Great interest was excited by his history; but he was always extremely reserved and uncommunicative in his manners. Mr. Batman took him under his care, and a free pardon was procured for him through the good offices of Lieut.-Governor Arthur. He was then appointed to the office of a constable at Melbourne; but on his expressing a reluctance to continue in the settlement he was transferred to Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land.”note




  ― 274 ―

In 1836 the frontier of New South Wales was extended so as to embrace Port Phillip, and a commandant, a police magistrate, and other officers from Sydney were sent to take possession, and erect a settlement. The progress of Port Phillip has been extremely rapid. In 1837, the year after its settlement as a dependency of New South Wales, the total revenue of the province was about 6,000l. In 1847 it amounted to 138,000l.; and in 1850, the last entire year of its financial connexion with the Sydney district, it reached the good round sum of 261,000l. “To show,” says the Sydney Morning Herald, “how Port Phillip has gained upon Sydney in point of revenue, we subjoin the proportions in which the districts contributed respectively to each 100l. of the general revenue:—

           
In the period from 1837 to 1841— 
Port Phillip  8.17 
Sydney  91.3 
In the year 1850— 
Port Phillip  33.7 
Sydney  66.13  

“Thus, during the first five years Port Phillip contributed less than one-twelfth of the general revenue; and in the year 1850, exactly one-third.”

No wonder, then, that New South Wales is reluctant to part with so important an integral part of herself, and that Port Phillip, endowed with the name of Victoria, feels strong enough to stand alone. This province has


  ― 275 ―
hitherto—except when, on one occasion, trifling with the privilege of franchise, she returned Earl Grey as her representative—sent two members to the Legislative Council at Sydney,—no slight distance for the periodical journeyings of gentlemen who have something else to attend to besides senatorial affairs.

There have been a good many candidates for the honour of standing sponsor for this district. What it was called by the Jaga-Jaga fraternity no one much cares. Governor King gave it the name of Port Phillip in honour of his predecessor. Sir Thomas Mitchell dubbed it Australia Felix. Dr. Lang would have the bonny bairn called Phillipsland; when, fortunately for the fair province, her Majesty was advised by her Privy Council to confer upon it the title of Victoria. “Floreat Victoria,” should be the motto of the newly-endowed colony. “Advance, Australia!” is that of New South Wales.

January 19th.—With fine weather and smooth sea—just such weather and sea as are suitable to a steam vessel of small power, (a vessel quite inadequate to the commerce now existing and arising between the continent and Tasmania)—we approached and entered the Heads of Port Phillip. At 3 P.M. we were dancing in the well-known “ripple” caused by the gulf-stream confined in a channel perhaps a mile and a half wide, but diminished by reefs. Once within the portals, which are low and featureless as compared with those of Port Jackson


  ― 276 ―
and Hobart Town, we seemed again to lose sight of land—such is the extent of the inlet within whose jaws we had entered. Pressing onwards it was a considerable time before we sighted any part of its wide margin. At length here and there on the horizon appeared tops of trees stem-down—then low banks of sand quivering in the haze of evening—flat tracts of bush,—and, slightly elevated above them, occasional levels of clear yellow space, which I fondly believed to be grain-crops, but which, I subsequently learnt, were no more than burnt-up pastures, grassless as the adjacent sand-banks. No mountains, no hills even appeared, no indications of the boundless plains and splendid pastures which have made the fortune of the district. The weather, to be sure, was unfavourable for the enjoyment of landscape, for the atmosphere was thick and lurid from the terrific bush-fires which had lately ravaged and were yet smouldering throughout the interior.

We passed a lighthouse on a rocky headland to our left, saw the surf breaking on the beach of Brighton to our right, were aware occasionally of a buoy, were informed that “all the navies in the world might ride,” &c.—a confirmation of old Flinders, its original discoverer in 1802, who declares it “capable of receiving a larger fleet of ships than ever yet went to sea”—for the port embraces an extent of 875 miles of open water; and, after thirty-five miles of paddling since she entered the Heads, the Shamrock, at seven P.M., dropped


  ― 277 ―
anchor in Hobson's Bay, close off the little settlement of Williamstown, at the mouth of the Yarra River, on which Melbourne stands, but still nine miles from that city. At the present state of the tide the wretched little stream was not navigable even by a vessel of such light draught as our steamer.

There were small shore-boats hovering about, which carried off such of the passengers as possessed more legs than luggage to a point of the bay whence, it was stated, they would reach the capital by walking two or three miles across a doubtful, swampy country, by the doubtful light of a gloomy evening. My friend and myself, having long ago buried that restless impetuosity which impels young travellers to rush into unknown discomforts, resolved to abide such as were inseparable from our lot rather than “fly to others that we knew not of.” Not without a grumble at the tide, nor without a hot glass of brandy-and-water, we therefore bestowed ourselves for the night upon the respective shelves of our joint state cabin. State cabin! what a prostitution of terms! what a cruelly ironical abuse of language! How is it that the word has so long, and so universally, where English is spoken, been permitted to mock the wretch doomed to occupy that coffin above ground—the closest and cruellest incarceration, enlivened with the chance of being drowned or blown up. “State” — marry come up! State of misery—state of nausea—of suffocation—state of stewing and


  ― 278 ―
compression like a Norfolk biffin in course of preparation—state of burial alive; of burial, too, with another living corpse that is pretty sure to snore, or swear, or vomit through the livelong night, (not that my friend did either!) while the patient occupying the upper berth is afraid to sneeze—if he happen to have a cold, as I had—lest he should knock his nose against the deck!

January 20th.—The view of Melbourne from the anchorage is by no means prepossessing. Although nine miles distant up the course of the Yarra, it does not appear more than four across the flat, scrubby land, which forms the left bank of that stream. The city lies very low, and, in comparison with Sydney, Hobart Town, and even Launceston, impresses the stranger with the idea of heat and closeness.

At five A.M., disengaging herself from among a fleet of some fifteen merchant vessels, the Shamrock entered the mouth of the river, and in an hour and a half was alongside the “Queen's wharf.” The stream is narrow and lazy, and near the town by no means pleasing to the senses. It runs through flat banks, covered with “fat weeds” and mangroves, or other low scrub. In any other country but Australia I would have pinned my affidavit upon such a tract producing ague and fever in high perfection. Melbourne, nevertheless, is, I believe, quite as salubrious as any other part of New Holland. The scarlet fever is indeed at present raging in the village of Williamstown; and one unhappy father has suffered


  ― 279 ―
the loss of two daughters within a few days; but from this scourge of the young no part of these colonies, seacoast or interior, has, within the last year or two, been entirely exempt.

On the vessel reaching the wharf the majority of the passengers disappeared as if by magic. In five minutes none were left but the great land-accumulator and ourselves. The officer commanding the troops at Melbourne had obligingly sent some of his men to carry our baggage to the hotel. Mr. C——was bound there also, and, as I saw him hanging about the auriferous port-manteau after the manner of an anxiously maternal cow with her calf in peril, I proffered a couple of larking “light-bobs” to “walk away” with the object of his solicitude—a proposition which the proprietor appeared to relish about as much as I intended he should. The steward and his assistants, being now at leisure, seized the rich valise by the ears, lugged it out of the cabin (it was as much as they could manage), and I saw no more of it nor of its worthy owner. I am aware, however, that he lost no time in carrying out his project. The very same day he waited upon his Honour the Superintendent, and tendered for a block of land to the extent of the sum he had brought with him. It was impossible to help admiring the simplicity and straightforwardness of the transaction—“Here's my money, give me my acres!”

Melbourne is a well-laid-out ugly town, containing


  ― 280 ―
about 20,000 inhabitants. The adjacent country, visible from the highest look-out, is but poorly sprinkled with trees, and is, at present, herbless to a degree that I never saw elsewhere, even in New South Wales. The town is but the outlet for the splendid back country, of which, I regret to say, the short stay of the steamer—only forty-eight hours—permitted me to see nothing.

The officer commanding the detachment stationed here gave me indeed a drive to Brighton and St. Kilda, three and seven miles distant from the city—mere watering hamlets on the bay-side; but this was in the wrong direction. The road lay through open forest of stunted gums and wattles, growing out of sand or dry swamp land. We were obliged to carry bottled water to the inn at Brighton, because there was no fresh water there, except what is caught and secured in barrels—and there had been no rain for I know not how many months. At Brighton we found the gallant captain's family residing for change of air; the said family consisting of his wife—the belle of Melbourne, the Flower of the Yarra, whom he had borne away from a host of competitors—and their infant heir.

There is about Melbourne an air of progress and prosperity apparent to the least observant stranger; an air of bustle and business during the working hours of the day, and of solid comfort and easy competence when the labours of the day are over. The middle and poorer classes are so well off indeed, that they have no necessity


  ― 281 ―
for extreme exertion. Perhaps this may be carried a little too far; for it was in vain my servant tried to knock up a chemist at seven o'clock in the morning; and the Hebrew draper opposite the inn lost my custom for a blouse by keeping his shop hermetically closed until eight o'clock; at which hour, heralded by a clattering of shutters and a shop-boy with a broom and a watering-pot, this gentleman's court-plaister vest and diamond pin—rigorous morning costume of the Jewish and of the Yankee “commercial gentleman”—made their first appearance, accompanied by a bevy of pretty, well-dressed children of Israel, with large black eyes, hook noses; and corkscrew curls.

We were very well put up at the Royal Hotel, which fronts a fine wide street, full of excellent shops. My bedroom looked upon a large stable-yard, into and out of which men with beards and cabbage-hats seemed to be continually driving tandems. Beyond the back-yard there was a glimpse of the river, whose opposite bank presented the dreary burnt flat before mentioned. An excellent dinner for four was served up to us; and on all points the establishment seemed to be well managed. The hostess, a handsome young woman, whose morning dress was of white muslin with a black silk polka-jacket braided in red, carolled about the house and her business in a manner quite cheering to the spirits; in a manner, too—and it struck me for the first time—not common in these colonies; and I don't know why. I have always


  ― 282 ―
thought the song or whistle of man or maiden a sort of indirect compliment to those they serve under. I wonder why I so seldom heard these tokens of a cheerful heart in Australia. “The milkmaid's song!” “The plough-boy whistling o'er the lea!”—in New Holland! As well might you expect to hear the robin or the blackbird warbling in a gum-tree! Can it be that the original character or temper of labour has been engrafted on the soil;—that the sullen tone of the original convict serf has descended to the free servant of to-day? Or is it that the feodality of feeling existing between master and man has departed altogether out of the land—is departing out of all lands? I have been inclined to think so ever since the last groom and valet I had at home—a modernised fellow, who attended his club twice a-week—taught me to look upon myself, not as his master, but as his employer. There was a good deal of significance, me-thought, in that substitution of title.

The good folks of Melbourne are all mad just now about separation,—separation from New South Wales. Their rejoicings, processions, banquets, and feux de joie have been somewhat premature; for they were all fired off together at the mere news that, some day or other, they were to have an independent revenue and legislature. It is like eating the wedding-cake before the wedding. I saw to-day the words, “Separation Inn,” chalked up over the door of a low shebeen-house, whose former sign had been erased; and one of the five newspapers


  ― 283 ―
of this little town contains an advertisement for the sale, at a music-shop, of a new air, “the Separation Polka,”—inapplicable title for a dance of which personal proximity in the dancers is a leading feature.

“Separation,” as may be supposed, is a popular war-note with the Irish party—a pretty strong one—in Melbourne. It is an instalment of that “Repeal” which has rung in their ears, and has been instilled into their hearts by priests and patriots ever since their birth,—the only instalment of it they are ever likely to obtain.

In Melbourne I fell in with several old soldiers, men of the ranks, I mean. Some of them called on me at the hotel. They pretended business, but I saw that a gossip about “the ould corps” or the service in general was the real object of many of my visitors. They expressed themselves pleased with the place, and were in good employment either in the police, where the pay was a guinea a-week, or in private service, which gave them from 20l. to 30l. a-year with abundant rations. Amongst these men were two or three Chelsea out-pensioners, who had come out in charge of convicts to Van Diemen's Land, and had been offered free grants of land to induce them to settle there. They preferred the climate of that Island. “It was a deal cooler than Port Phillip,” said one; “but Lord love you, Sir, when I went to look at my bit of land, I found it a rough lot far from any settlement. I had not a shilling to lay out in improving the soil, and could seldom get a day's work to help me on a


  ― 284 ―
bit. And if there were a few hands wanted by a neighbouring farmer it was sure to be given to some ticket-of-leave-man, in preference to the old sojer.” Another told me that he received “fine pay” in the Van Diemen's Land police, but he had to serve under a convict chief constable, and that he could not stomach that. “They are all links of one chain there,” remarked this maligner of penal countries—“an honest man has no chance in it;” so he gave up his claim to a land-grant, and came away to a free colony.

A carpenter at work on a shop-front in the street, told me he got 7s. a-day, and that “rough hands” in his trade could earn 18 or 20s. a-week if they were sober. The former sum is exactly the pay, if I mistake not, of the Lieutenant of H. M. Regt. stationed here. He is a married man, wears a dress of scarlet and gold, subscribes to mess, band, school funds &c., is obliged to support the character and appearance of a gentleman, and has probably purchased the commissions which yield him this daily stipend, and which he may lose in a moment by a bullet or a court-martial. “Chips,” it must be confessed, has the more lucrative—not to call it, better trade!

Sheep-farming is the great source of the wealth of Port Phillip. No sooner did the great grazing capabilities of the country become apparent, than all the known available land for “runs” was taken up; and the flocks and herds gradually increasing, the squatting establishments were in equal degrees forced back into the wilderness.


  ― 285 ―
As the same process is going on in New South Wales Proper, the flocks will ere long meet on the banks of the “Murray,” the frontier river of the two colonies, (perhaps they may have already done so). Instead of a line of fortresses in hostile observation of each other, there will be a line of squatting stations along its banks. Sheep-washing and shearing on either hand will be the most active operations, and fineness of fleece and weight of tallow will be the fiercest subjects of rivalry between the two pastoral nations.

The squatocracy of Port Phillip have the credit of carrying on their avocations with at least equal success as, and with less roughness of menage and less of self-denial than those of the Sydney district. Some of them perhaps may be obnoxious to the charge of ostentation in their habits, on their periodical emergence from the bush into the cities of the coast.

Sheep-farming appears to be carried on in this district with fewer drawbacks than in the more northern parts. The Blacks are rarely troublesome, and in some instances they have been rendered useful to the settlers. The native dog has been nearly exterminated by the liberal use of strychnine. Instead of the old practice of yarding the sheep at night, they are now camped round the hut of the stockman. A grand saving in wages is thus made, for one man or an old couple can take charge of one or two thousand sheep. The boiling-down system, when flocks are overgrown and grass is scarce, having


  ― 286 ―
established a standard minimum value for a sheep, say 4s. or 5s., there is little likelihood of their ever being again sold at prices much below that.

Large fortunes have been made by persons, with some little capital at command, taking advantage of the “bad times” that have compelled others less cautious or less lucky to sell off at any sacrifice. In 1842, when the grand commercial crash took place, sheep were selling for 1s. 6d. and even as low as 9d. a-head. A gentleman told me he had made a considerable purchase at the former rate, and had cleared off the whole expenses by the first year's wool. Such was the scarcity of coin at Melbourne at that juncture, that silver spoons were sold for one half of the value of their weight in metal.

At present the price of a good sheep-station, with the stock upon it, including the run and the premises, appears to be about 10s. a-head. After the transfer of the property, the purchaser becomes thenceforth answerable to Government for the payment of the licence and assessment. A station with 12,000 sheep, as I have been told, is thus sold for 6,000l. The value of the sheep at 5s. is 3,000l. Buildings and other improvements, 1,000l. Two thousand pounds remain as the premium of the transfer, and represents the difference between the real value of the land for the purpose of sheep-farming and the rent paid to Government. If then it be true that wool can be grown in the Port


  ― 287 ―
Phillip district at 6d. a pound, and will sell for 1s. 2d. to 1s. 4d., squatting ought to be a thriving trade.note

Renting sheep or cattle with or without the pastures is growing into common practice, especially in this province. A man without sufficient capital for, or not desiring to invest it in, the absolute purchase of a station, may thus take a lease of it for a term; and in so doing make a very good livelihood. The lessee pays so much per annum for 1,000 sheep (50l. to 80l. say.) He gets the wool and the increase of the flocks, and, at the termination of the lease, he delivers back the station with the stock equal in condition, age, and numbers. Of course the price depends upon the character of the pasturage and of the stock upon it.

This appears to be an excellent plan both for the proprietor and the lessee. It gives liberty to the former to attend to other concerns, or to take a holiday. The latter, if he be already a proprietor, may thus extend his wool operations ad libitum. If a man of small means, he may make a fair profit at small risk; and a young, newly arrived, would-be squatter, may thus learn his business as a tenant before he undertakes it as a purchaser.




  ― 288 ―

One of my fellow-passengers from Melbourne to Sydney—a man of many fleeces, I should think—informed me that he had just leased sheep to the extent of 1,600l. a-year to enable him to “take a run” (he spoke professionally) with his family to Europe for three or four years. He told me also that the price he had stipulated for would yield him 12 per cent. on his outlay.

“Are you sure he will pay you?” asked I.

“I have him tight!” replied he confidently.

The d—I doubt you, thought I, as I looked in the face of my new acquaintance, for he had a canny, acute look, and his name, if I mistake not, bore a north-British prefix.

Another of my fellow-travellers was establishing at Melbourne a commercial house in connexion with England and China; wool from Port Phillip to London; goods from London; tea from Canton;—three good corner-stones for a “house.” Capital would not make a bad fourth!

Melbourne with its splendid harbour is, after all, a wretchedly bad shipping port. There is none of the fine deep-sea wharfage of Sydney. The system of carrying goods by lighters down the river to the anchorage adds greatly to the risk and cost of shipping produce. But with the rapidly increasing wealth and importance of Victoria, efforts will be made to remedy nature's defaults in this respect. A railway, or a ship-canal,


  ― 289 ―
with a substantial pier-head at its mouth, could readily be formed across the low land lying between the city and the harbour.

The Anti-transportation Delegates from Tasmania—(let me be more precise)—the Delegates of the Tasmanian Branch of the Anti-transportation League—or, as the Sydney Herald styles that moral militia, “The Anti-felon Confederation”—were very warmly received at Melbourne; and so readily and liberally did the citizens, or some of them, sympathise with the cause these gentlemen came to advocate, that, at the first public meeting, thirty private individuals and firms came down with 3,000l. in aid of the anti-convict crusade. The snow-ball is gathering volume; for the delegates of Tasmania, having enrolled those of Victoria and South Australia, are to travel onwards to Sydney—where, to pursue the nivose simile, they hope to fall like an avalanche upon the transportation system and to crush it for ever!

It seems rather a hard case—I dare say I have said as much before—that old Mrs. Mother-Country may not stuff her naughty children into a corner to punish and keep them out of further trouble, and to make them, as she hopes, good boys for the future. But so it is—England is not to be allowed to keep the little out-of-the-way useless island of Van Diemen's Land as a general penitentiary. Not contented with fending off further convictism from their own shores, the Australian group


  ― 290 ―
are obstinately resolved upon the purification of an island they care nothing about,—merely because, through Van Diemen's Land, the criminals of England will “percolate” (as is apprehended) into the adjacent colonies and, as the phrase is, “inundate them with British crime.” Pity that the colonists cannot be persuaded to lay the unction to their souls, that the foul element poured into the drip-stone will issue from it pure and sparkling!

The delegates from Tasmania, Messrs. West and Weston, appeared to me to be truly excellent men, warm apostles of the cause, and so anxious to gain converts to it—albeit not unduly pressing the subject—as to oblige me to shelter myself under my cloth as exempting me from all political partizanship, and finally to take refuge among the squatters of the party by way of diversion. I do not think I ever did, or shall again, take in so much intelligence regarding sheepish affairs as on this occasion—Leicesters and fine-woolled, merino and Saxon rams, hoggets, wools washed and in the grease, scab and catarrh, tallow, “town and rough fat,” &c. This class were in excellent spirits. The latest news of the Mark Lane Express was good. Both articles had been “flat” lately, but colonial tallow was now “looking up” and “lively,” and there was a “steady demand for all kinds of consumable wools.”

The forthcoming history of Tasmania, by the Rev. Mr. West, will furnish a much needed modern account of that colony; and will give to the world, besides, the opinions of an unmitigated anti-transportationist.




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January 21st.—Melbourne.—A day of tremendous heat, such as I scarcely remember to have felt in Sydney or even in Calcutta. The hot wind blew all day and night—not in fierce blasts as in New South Wales—but in a steady breeze, keeping the glass up at 110° in the shade, without a moment's vacillation. Being unwell from a regular “old English” cold and cough that I had caught in Van Diemen's Land, I could not face the weather, and thereby lost the pleasure of visiting the residence of a fine old soldier, who, having commanded a regiment for many years in this country, and having subsequently fought and been severely wounded on the banks of the Sutledge, has settled in this country. He possesses a handsome house in Melbourne, and extensive and flourishing grazing concerns in the interior.

I rejoice to say there are many army and navy officers doing very well in this province,—a fact that can by no means be predicated of New South Wales. Generally speaking, these gentlemen are but little suited to compete in the race for wealth with persons born, as it were, and bred to business. Perhaps, too, the code of their youth, which taught them—in the words of Sir Lucius O'Trigger's fine sentiment—that their “honour should be as bright as well as keen as their swords,” renders them unequal rivals of the keener blades sharpened on the whetstone of traffic. The stratagems which they have been accustomed to consider fair in love or war they are perhaps too scrupulous to extend to business matters.




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This evening I had the pleasure of dining with my friend Mr. La Trobe, the present Superintendent of Port Phillip, and the future Lieut.-Governor of Victoria. He resides in a most picturesque cottage, well sheltered by trees and gardens, and standing on ground sloping pleasantly down to the Yarra—his own property.

Melbourne should take example from Sydney and Hobart Town in regard to her hack carriages. Here they are miserable affairs. A pair of horses, which Mr. Fitz Roy's hounds, however sharp set, would have declined to sit down to, took us to the Government Cottage at the mildest possible jog, and brought us home at a walk. Ex pede Herculem, the horse stock of this province must be bad, for I did not see one tolerably fine horse in its capital. They should import horses from England and mares from Van Diemen's Land.

I heard a good deal and should have liked to have seen a sample of the kangaroo hunting with fox-hounds in this district. A day's sport is recorded, in which one of these animals ran thirty miles, and was then pulled down by two and a half couple of hounds out of a large pack. Several horses were killed, and no man was up at the death. This Boomah must have been a descendant of the great fossil Diprotodon discovered by Dr. Hobson some sixty miles from Melbourne, whose organic remains prove him to have been as large as an elephant. Fancy the playful monster hopping over the tallest gum-trees! Fortunately man's era had not arrived, for such


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a marsupial might have put a couple or two of the lords of the creation into her pouch by mistake for her kids.

January 22d.—Arose at 6 A.M. and paid the hotel bill,—no trifling transaction. The Shamrock had gone down to the anchorage at Hobson's Bay, at the top of the tide. We retained two hours' longer lease of our beds, and the mosquitos of our persons, by taking our passage in the Vesta, bound for Geelong,—a most thriving town and district, situated at the head of a navigable arm of the harbour, about fifty miles from Melbourne. This town contains about 8,000 inhabitants. The Vesta soon put us on board our original vessel; and we piped to breakfast as she ran down the magnificent estuary of Port Phillip. Shamrock had deposited the greater part of her original human freight at Melbourne; but she did not fail to take in a fresh supply. We lost the delegates, and gained a batch of ill-bred children,—a race at all times insufferable, but in a small vessel at sea so dire a pest as to inspire feelings fearfully tending towards infanticide.

There was an opulent Port Phillip settler, who had evidently risen from the ranks,—the humbler ranks of society,—with a very fine wife, unceasingly sea-sick in black satin during our five days' voyage to Sydney. Her poor, yellow, sickly-looking fingers glittered with rings,—even the index not being exempt. “On her fair breast” she bore a piece of gold plate, solid and large


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enough to vote the freedom of a city in, wherein was set the “counterfeit presentment” of her very frightful husband—red whiskers, shirt-plaits, studs, chain, and “satin opera-tie at 7s. 6d.,” to the very life, and nearly as large.

There were two or three very intelligent, and I may add, agreeable commercial men, going to measure their wits with their brethren of Sydney,—and not to be out-witted by them, I'll be sworn. There was a pleasant fellow, a new hand, hovering about the colonies, not quite decided where to abide. Whenever not suffering from the prevailing malady, he talked, and sang songs, and wrote verses,—and, in short, had not yet caught the plodding, plotting, ledger-like look and habits of the colonial man of business “settled down to his running,” as a jockey might say. His young wife and children remained at Melbourne, awaiting his decision as to where they were eventually to settle and swarm.

Then there were a Port Phillip colonist and his daughter,—he a very gentlemanly widower, she a very pretty and fine girl,—going to Sydney for a passage to England; he to revisit his relatives, after twenty years' absence,—she to make their acquaintance, being a native of the colony. This young lady might have been produced at the Great Exhibition of this year as a favourable specimen of the “currency lass” of Australia. The gentleman is one of the many instances of persons realizing good fortunes in this country, and losing them during the finance-quakes that have occasionally convulsed


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it. For a man retaining an ardent attachment to his native land, and a hope to revisit it, it is a harassing afterthought, that at one period he might have returned there with comparative opulence. There are few that can whistle the past down the wind, and set to work, vigorously and unrepiningly, to build up a second fortune. If I mistook not the prevalent expression of this gentleman's countenance, he is not one of these few.

The hot wind of yesterday was, as a matter of course, succeeded to-day by a rush of cold air from the south to fill up the atmospheric vacuum. The south-east gale got up a “nasty” sea, as the sailors called it, and the sea got up sensations in the bosoms of the passengers equally deserving of that epithet. Before we had been three hours in the Straits, the ladies had dived into their cabin and disappeared. The men rushed headlong upon deck, where, as they call it at the Post-office, a general male-delivery took place — of all the previously laid-in provisions.

Myself was the last survivor assisting the captain and first-mate in their attack on a Port Phillip boiled leg of mutton. My attack grew weaker and weaker—a cold sweat gathered on my brow. At length I laid down my arms, in token of surrender to the Sea Fiend, and, with a sickly attempt at a joke, clomb up to my shelf, whence I had the satisfaction of seeing the two nautical gentlemen continuing their operations, in full reliance on their own


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powers, and without any apparent regret at the gradual desertion of their allies.

January 23d.—Passing through “Kent's Group,” with a foul wind, heavy sea, and powerless vessel.

24th.—Cape Howe—a fine, wooded peak, the eastern boundary of the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales. At 3 P.M. we entered Twofold Bay, situated 30 miles from Cape Howe, and 240 south of Sydney. This is a snug little harbour, and, indeed, was originally named Snug Cove by Captain Flinders, the navigator, who doubtless had an eye to its convenience as a place of refuge for shipping on this shelterless and unindented coast. The approach to the bay is extremely picturesque. The land enclosing it is high and woody; and within two recesses, formed by abutting headlands on the northern and southern extremities of the Cove, are the rival settlements and ports of Eden and Boyd Town,—the former established under Government auspices, the latter under those of Mr. Benjamin Boyd.

The steamer mooring in the Eden anchorage, we only viewed the other township at a distance. But a long range of storehouses, a large hotel, a church, several good houses and cottages, a fine cut-stone lighthouse, with various buildings appertaining to the grazing and whaling pursuits carried on simultaneously by this adventurous gentleman, not only evince a spirit of enterprise in a private individual, but make the Government settlement look exceedingly insignificant. Whether this


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individual's enterprise has, in the present instance, been wisely exercised, perhaps remains yet to be proven; but appearances are decidedly gloomy.

Twofold Bay is, or ought to be, the shipping port for the rich pastoral district of Maneroo, lying at its back. These well-grassed and watered and lightly-timbered “Plains,”—as the undulating table-land of the interior is styled—are, however, separated from the harbour by a rough coast-range of sterile hills, very unfavourable for road communication.

It was nothing short of nominative insolence and presumption to give the name of “Eden” to the Government township. The “Eden” of “Martin Chuzzlewit” deserved the distinction quite as well. I do not believe that “at the gate” of such an Eden either “Peri” or Mortal would ever “stand disconsolate,” unless, indeed, they were within it! This Twofold Paradise consists of a rickety wooden pier, a wool-shed, a pot-house, and two or three humble tenements on the top of a rocky ridge, running down to a rough beach covered with the skeletons of whales. The view of the recesses of the bay from the anchorage is, however, singularly lake-like and beautiful. We did not see it in its most smiling moments, for the weather was rainy and cloudy.

I saw here for the first time a party of blacks engaged in fishing from canoes. These simple vessels are but sheets of bark crimped up at the ends as one might


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crimp a child's paper boat, so slender and fragile as to be quite untenable except by themselves. The paddles are bits of bark the size of breakfast saucers held in the fingers. The fishing utensils consist of a wooden reel, line, hook and leaden sinker, a long reed spear with a head of bone or burnt wood, and a waddy or killing stick.

Off a rocky point about half a mile distant a party of three, each in his canoe, were catching a vast quantity of small fish. A sailor hooked a young shark from the bows of the steam-boat just as one of these men were passing her. The fish in his struggles had entangled the line round the chain-cable and was unmanageable. Blacky paddled up to our assistance, and, waiting till the fish became still for a moment, drove his spear through its shoulders and disabled it instantly.

While the little fleet was fishing off the point of rocks above mentioned, the “new hand,” smitten with the desire for nearer acquaintance, stepped into a skiff alongside, the Jenny Lind of Eden, and pulled towards the black trio. Two of them made off as fast as their paddles could carry them, throwing up a wake like a steamer; the third paddled ashore, got out and stood firm. Oh, believers in the possibility of community of property! had there been only these three men on the face of the earth, this last would have been the master, the two others the slaves! Soon afterwards our friend returned, having purchased for two shillings the entire


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outfit of the simple fisherman—canoe, spear, waddy,—all except the line.

The Shamrock took in a hundred bales of wool at Eden—a dawdling, dilatory process, which kept a parcel of Englishmen twenty-four hours doing what as many Anglo-Americans would have done in four. As they rolled the bales lazily down to the wharf through a hot and misty drizzle, I almost fancied I had before me the dreary scene and ague-stricken actors in Dickens' graphic but fictitious Eden. In the evening the mosquitos, rendered hungry by the rain, came off in winged hosts, and exacted from us all a heavy tribute of blood.

January 25th.—At Twofold Bay we only picked up one passenger,—a tall, strong, handsome young man; just such a figure as James would delight to depict. He was clad in a wide drab sombrero, and leathern overalls, with a New Zealand flax mat thrown over his velvet jacket by way of protection from the rain. He had just emerged upon the coast from the broad region of mountain-bush that separates the interior plains from the settlement. With his saddle and valise on his shoulder, he strode on board, and having placed these travelling valuables in a dry and safe place, he made himself comfortable by lighting a cigar and putting himself up to dry with his back to the funnel. “You are a gentleman, by your neat foot,” thought I, “in spite of your rough outside;” and we were soon in high talk.




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He had been riding a tour through the sheep, cattle, and horse stations belonging to a company, with a view to selling them off—stations and stock. He described the country as remarkably fine and well adapted for farming—grassy and naturally open, waving plains or table land, with plenty of water in ordinary seasons. This company possessed 170,000 sheep, divided into forty large flocks. These “camp” at night; that is, they are driven at eventide to the nearest station, and remain around it without being enclosed in pens. With great reason, I think, he ascribed the deterioration of Australian horse stock to the bad custom of permitting a herd of horses and mares to run loose together without any discrimination as to their respective qualifications. He had seen, he said, in his rambles, one or two spots in the wild bush which would have made a perfect paradise for a homestead. His description almost made me long to be a squatter.

I can fancy a young man being greatly smitten with the desire to grapple with a Bush-life in all its peculiar rugosities; not inheriting the “improvements,” or following up the already commenced operations of another, but beginning himself fairly at the beginning, selecting the spot in the virgin wilderness, marking where his flocks and herds are to browse, where they are to drink and find shelter; where the first rude hut of bark and slabs should stand, where the stables, the stockyards, &c.; and where, hereafter, the more ambitious


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verandahed cottage of stone or weather-boards should be erected, when the original hut, once the squire's hall, should be degraded into servants' offices. Perhaps a fair partner to share his seclusion may find a place in his aspirations.

Having settled all these points—except the last!—I can fancy the incipient bushman returning to the township full of eager haste to set to work. I see him and two or three rough but experienced hands, with a dray and a team of bullocks and a couple of riding horses, arriving at the chosen locality. A small tent or a preliminary gunneah of boughs is soon put up. The grindstone is fixed upon a fallen tree, for there are as yet no stumps, and the tall gums, and banksias, and acacias, tremble while the axes are being whetted for their fall. The salt meat, and damper, and bush tea, are all charming—for a time. Besides, he has his gun and a brace of kangaroo dogs, and a knowing old stock-horse that stands fire and can do everything but speak. He can bring down his wild-duck, or wood-pigeon, or bustard, mayhap; and can bring home across his pummel a hind quarter of venison —of venison with a tail weighing 20 lbs., to make soup of. Meanwhile his brother, or friend, or agent, (let him beware whom he employs!) in the city, is on the look-out for stock. The newspapers are consulted daily; nor is there much difficulty in finding what is wanted. Messrs. Mort and Brown advertise for sale by public auction “8,000 sheep of very superior


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character, warranted sound, and from six months to four years old”—just the thing!

In a few weeks the new settler has reached the stage in Bush-life, described in the next few lines from a very amusing book called Tales of the Colonies.

April 5th.—Rose early, according to my custom, and surveyed my new dwelling with a peculiar sort of satisfaction. No rent to pay for you, said I—no taxes, no poor's rate — that's a comfort. No one can give me notice to quit; that's another comfort; and it is my own—thank God; and that's the greatest comfort of all.”

The next step, but “my word!” (as they say in Australia and Cheshire,) my word! what has all this to do with the steamer Shamrock? and what has an officer of Her Majesty's general staff, quitting, in a few months, Australia for ever, got to do with it at all?

Let us, therefore, make better speed on our voyage. We sailed from Twofold Bay at one P.M. on the 25th, and reached Sydney on the following day, the 26th of January, 1851, the 63d anniversary of the settlement of New South Wales.

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