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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.




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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.


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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


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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,


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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.


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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


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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,


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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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