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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


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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.”


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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


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“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

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