― 270 ―

Chapter IX.


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.

  ― 291 ―

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.

  ― 292 ―

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

  ― 293 ―
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

  ― 294 ―
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

  ― 295 ―
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

  ― 296 ―
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

  ― 297 ―
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

  ― 298 ―
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

  ― 299 ―
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.

  ― 300 ―

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

  ― 301 ―
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

  ― 302 ―
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.