― 341 ―

Chapter XI [1846]


December 1st.—My English friends may perhaps imagine that on this first day of December I am blowing my fingers—as THEY are. Nor would they indeed be wrong; for I am blowing them, as the Satyr's guest in the fable did to cool his porridge. An Australian bard sings—

“While hot December's sultry breeze
Scarce moves a leaf on yonder trees.”—LANG.

and this day was a smoking hot one.

I would describe the town of Wellington if I could: but what can be said of a town where there are scarcely two houses within a stone's throw of each other, and every second one is a public-house?

  ― 342 ―

In the morning we retraced our steps to Mr. Maxwell's station at Narragâl, fifteen miles, where we resumed the carriages, and continued our retreat to Coombing through the squatting districts of Wellington and Bathurst, thereby travelling over fresh ground. The most difficult part of the road was the first few miles from Narragâl— the ascent of the Mumble Hill, which could never have been accomplished without the aid of Mr. Maxwell's bullock teams. Six oxen were added to the Governor's vehicle, and four to mine; by this means they were dragged slowly but surely to the top of this nearly precipitous mountain, our worthy host thus speeding the parting guest at the rate of about half-a-mile an hour.

Our party were indebted for our supper and beds this night, and our breakfast the following day, to the hospitality of two squatting establishments. The gentlemen were away at Sydney with their wool; but it was impossible very deeply to lament an absent landlord, when landladies so very agreeable remained at home. Perhaps it was in consequence of the absence of the master that in the former of these houses there arose, after our retirement for the night, a glorious disturbance among the menials. The scene was the kitchen, towards which my bedroom looked; and both sounds and sights announced a serious affray. Pulling on my boots again I proceeded through the back-door to the spot, and found two rough-looking fellows fighting, or rather sparring, in the midst of screaming women and crashing crockery. I saw at a glance that the combatants devoutly hoped in their hearts that my interference was intended to promote peace: but no, my object was to save our kind landlady's

  ― 343 ―
property—not their eyes and noses; and I read in their looks bitter disappointment when I simply invited them to finish their set-to behind the stable by the bright moonlight, and offered myself to see fair play. These pugnacious fellows shook hands immediately!

During the early part of the next day, December 3d, our guides fairly lost their and our way. We got into a boggy tract of country, and became seriously apprehensive lest the carriages should permanently stick fast. The position was far from pleasant, for we had no provisions, and our next halting-place was at some distance. Horsemen were sent out in different directions in search of a track. At length, sweeping the dreary prospect with eager eye, I discovered a moving object. It was a sheep;—there was a flock—and near them I found a young girl seated on a log. A youthful shepherdess tending her snowy and bleating charge under the sylvan shades of the forest, sounds highly romantic and charming. One recals at once the sighing swains and tender maids of Arcady the Blest, and the Strephons and Floras of pastoral song.

In this case there was no room for sentiment, except that of pity for the poor girl and anxiety for our own situation. She seemed half idiotic, answering not a word to my inquiries, but pointing to a distant hut. And indeed in any case, especially when nearer large towns, the Australian traveller had best take heed how he indulges pastoral visions in the bush. The only Flora he is likely to meet with may be one from a bludgeon or bullet at the hand of some black-muzzled ranger from behind a gum-tree, which will either bring him to his

  ― 344 ―
senses, or knock them out of him! Not that my warning is of any urgency as addressed to the majority of the people of New South Wales, the safety of whose persons is hardly likely to be imperilled by undue indulgence in sentimental emotions or romantic abstractions.

The father of the poor little shepherdess having guided us into the right road to Summerhill, at which place we were to bait, we soon drew near that little settlement; and at about half a mile therefrom a deputation of some thirty horsemen advanced to meet the Governor, and conducted him to a very tolerable inn where we received and digested a loyal address and an early dinner. Little thought his Excellency—little thought the good folks who were welcoming him with every showy demonstration in their power—that our meeting at Summerhill in 1846 took place on a “field of the cloth of gold!” It was not until 1851 that, in the bed of the Summerhill Creek, not far from this spot, gold was first found, and first announced to the public of New South Wales.

While we were regaling ourselves in the parlour of the inn, affairs at the bar of the house were going on with spirit. The health of her Majesty's representative, and of each other, was repeatedly and enthusiastically drank by the deputies; and when our progress was resumed, it had become a kind of bacchanal triumph. The plump and ruddy individual who took command of the escort ought to have been mounted on a leopard and crowned and cincted with vine-leaves. It was wonderful to see the strength and balance with which he kept his seat in spite of his potations. His aide-de-camp was nearly as remarkable in the same line. It was clear that both had

  ― 345 ―
practised equitation and inebriety as twin sciences, from their boyhood upwards.

In the centre of a dozen jets of mud splashed up by our zealous guardians, our cavalcade passed out of Summerhill under a pair of gorgeous banners sustained by two standard bearers standing, or, more properly, staggering opposite each other, and apparently on the worst of terms. I heard one of them, a little old native of the land of pat-riotism, conclude a volley of abuse discharged at his vis-à-vis by contemptuously denouncing him as “a bloody immigrant!”—thereby leaving the hearer to infer that the speaker was himself a “Government man,” that his rival was a free man, and that it was disgraceful for any one to come to this country except in pursuance of the sentence of a court of criminal jurisdiction. One of the flags bore the motto,

“Welcome, noble Charlie!”

the other,—

“Here's to the gale That fill'd the sail That brought the patriot to our shores!”

What wonder that the bearer was a sheet or two in the wind!

We were just getting somewhat tired and bored with our equestrian companions who continued to canter by the sides of the carriages, when, just as one of them had sworn eternal friendship to myself and good fellowship with all mankind, and had repeatedly wrung my hand at the risk of his neck, a largish house hove in sight; a sign-post stood before it; it was a public-house, “licensed to retail fermented and spirituous liquors.”

  ― 346 ―
To our great relief, this apparition put an immediate, a natural, and a general termination to the attendance of our well-meaning friends.

Passing over the rich lowlands of “King's Plains,” we reached at 7 P.M. the snug country inn of Mr. Doyle; and here a council was called on the question of remaining there for the night, or pushing onwards the fifteen miles to Coombing. “Forward” was once more the verdict, and accordingly we enjoyed—the enjoyment somewhat doubtful—a most beautiful moonlight drive through forest, swamp, and swollen creek, over crackling branches and soughing mud, brier and brake, sand and rock; and for some miles through the “burnt fathers” of the bush—a large tract just passed over by fire, subdued but not extinguished by the rain; and in four hours and a half, at one o'clock of the night, we thankfully reached Coombing;—“and so to bed with great content,” as old Pepys cozily expresses himself. Thus, with a good day's work of nineteen hours was concluded our circuit of 230 miles round the Canobolas Mountains and the pastoral districts at their feet. This range has since been discovered to be the axis of an immense gold field.

In the spring of the year 1850, when I paid a second visit to Mr. Icely, this night journey would have been impossible. During the preceding winter, or, rather, at the close of it, so heavy and unusual a fall of snow had taken place that the whole face of the country round about was strewn with branches broken down by the weight of the drifts. Many of these disjected members of the gnarled old gum-trees were thicker than a man's

  ― 347 ―
body; and so completely were the bush-pastures cumbered with the débris, that the area of grazing ground was seriously diminished; nor could it be restored until the whole of the fallen timber had been burnt off— a dangerous remedy to adopt. The oldest blacks had never seen the like before; they were alarmed, and their lives endangered, by the continual and general downfal of boughs during two or three nights. The poor wretches could find no safe shelter from the chilly storm, for every tree might be a traitor.

If the ordinances of Nature permitted heavy snows to fall upon the English oak or elm in full leaf, they would probably fare no better than did the eucalyptus in this case. The holly, on the contrary, bears, uninjured, leaf, fruit, and snow together. Experienced bushmen seldom sleep under a large gum-tree, well knowing the dangerous brittleness of the branches.

This part of the country, so destitute of humidity, has rarely been seen under such flattering circumstances as distinguish it at present, the unusually heavy and continuous fall of rain having made it one sheet of verdure. It was easy to see that the squatters were alarmed lest the new Governor should imbibe, together with the numerous wettings he got, too high an idea of the natural wealth of the soil, and thus form too low an estimate of the risks and difficulties of their position, with reference to his future legislation. It must not be forgotten that Sir Charles's inland tour took place in 1846, previously to the cession of further privileges of tenure, &c. to the stock proprietors, as conferred by the present regulations.

In the subsequent visit to Coombing which I have

  ― 348 ―
alluded to, I found the worthy proprietor, in addition to his other avocations of squatter, landed proprietor, member of the Legislative Council, &c., had got yet another iron in the fire; but he was introducing it so cautiously as to run little risk of burning his fingers, an accident which has befallen many dabblers in mining. Within 200 yards of his dwelling he had discovered a rich lode of copper, and had got well down to it at fifty or sixty feet.

Amongst other mineralogical curiosities, Mr. Icely showed us on this occasion two or three minute specimens of a “metal more attractive”—of gold in a quartz matrix, found on his own estate, so minute as to be clearly visible only through a microscope. He produced also from his cabinet a letter—I forget whether printed or in manuscript—from the hands of Sir Roderick Murchison, dated some time back, in which he states, with reference to a specimen sent home by Mr. Icely, that the precious metal is found in the Ural Mountains in a like deposit, and under similar geological conditions; and expresses an opinion that the western slope of the Australian Cordillera would be found highly auriferous.note

Here was an actual specimen of Australian gold, and the judgment of England's first geologist that it existed in abundance on or near the spot where we stood. In September 1850, an almost invisible speck of native gold was displayed to me with evident signs of exultation by a resident of the Bathurst district: in July 1851, at the town of Bathurst, a single specimen of Australian

  ― 349 ―
gold, weighing upwards of one hundredweight, was exhibited to me!

December 4th.—We bade adieu to our very kind and agreeable hosts of Coombing, and started early on our return towards Sydney. This day's journey was to terminate at Brucedale, the country seat of Mr. William Suttor, member for Bathurst, about eight miles from that town. Threading the usual number of gum-trees, we performed a very satisfactory day's journey, wholly without accident except that of his Excellency's carriage passing an hour up to the axles in a boggy bit of ground, from whence it was at length retracted by a stout carthorse borrowed from the only dray we saw on the road. The driver harnessed his beast by chain traces to the back of the vehicle; and with one “gee up” the carriage was released and placed on firm ground, every article of baggage having previously been removed. This mishap arose from leaving the beaten track: the soil of the bush is usually rotten after continued wet weather.

Amongst other game we saw to-day several flying squirrels. Mr. Fitz Roy succeeded in killing one with a ball from a policeman's carbine. It is beautiful little animal; its fur very dark coloured and soft; and its floating mode of flight from tree to tree, supported on the membrane stretching between its fore and hindlegs, is extremely graceful and singular.

Our route took us once more across the Plains of Bathurst; leaving which town on our right, and driving about four miles over those famous downs, we re-plunged into the bush, and, gradually ascending some four miles more, emerged, late in the afternoon, after a journey of

  ― 350 ―
eleven hours, at Brucedale. The house is large and commodious, situated on a knoll which pushes itself into the midst of a richly cultivated vale, through which winds the pretty little Windburndale rivulet. The prospect is bounded, at the distance of half a mile or thereabouts, by wooded hills, highly picturesque and making the position of the place romantically sequestered. Yet this is precisely one of the faults I find with the home scenery of New South Wales. To be shut up in a forest, with no outlet for the eye, gives me always a sense of mental suffocation. Thus situated, I should never lay down the axe until I had obtained a vista of sufficient extent to take a long breath in.

On the summit of one of the ridges enclosing Brucedale there is a singular agglomeration of granite rocks, called the Woolpacks,—a name as obvious to the squatter who bestowed it as appropriate to the objects named. I had an opportunity of visiting these singular crags,— great cubic blocks, piled so loosely one upon another as almost to shake in the wind. The detritus of these hills affords excellent soil for the vine. The climate also favours it; and whereas this plant, though stimulative and assuasive of human thirst, is itself not greedy of moisture, there will doubtless be good wine produced here some day, for the grapes are beautiful. If my gustative acumen is worth anything that day had not arrived in 1846. In 1850, when I had the pleasure of visiting Brucedale again, it had certainly dawned, if not reached its meridian.

Near the Woolpacks we found two kinds of natural bush-fruit, growing in great plenty on the uplands,—

  ― 351 ―
namely, the “five corners,” produced by a beautiful species of fuchsia after the fall of the blossom, and the geebung, a native plum, very woolly and tasteless. With regard to the former flower, the children of Mr. Suttor taught me to find at the bottom of each calyx a single drop of the richest honey-water; and we sipped together some hundreds of these fairy cups of hydromel. Depending from some of the larger gum-trees were the most enormous mistletoes I ever saw. One or two of the clusters of this parasite were so uniform in shape as to look like a huge oval chandelier of bronze, (for that was their colour,) hanging plumb down from some slender twig. In the lowlands here, as at Coombing, the Eucalyptus mannifera, or Flooded gum, grows in great profusion and to a majestic size. It sounds strange to English ears,—a party of ladies and gentlemen strolling out in a summer's afternoon to gather manna in the wilderness: yet more than once I was so employed in Australia. This substance of found in small pieces on the ground under the trees at certain seasons, or in hardened drops on the surface of the leaves. It is snowy white when fresh, but turns brown when kept like the chemist's drug so called, sweeter than the sweetest sugar, and softer than Gunter's softest ice-cream. The manna is seldom plentiful; for birds, beasts, and human beings devour it, and the slightest rain, or even dew, dissolves its delicate components. Theories have been hazarded and essays published as to the origin of this singular substance; but whether it be formed by the puncture and deposit of an insect, or is the natural product of the

  ― 352 ―
tree, no one, I believe, can venture to assert. Nor was there wanting hereabouts another special article of the heaven-sent food of the wandering tribes of Israel; for hundreds of quails were to be found within a few paces of the manna-fields.

Mr. William Suttor is one of the second generation of the name settled in the colony. A third is rising pretty rapidly. His father, a venerable and highly intelligent gentleman, whose acquaintance, also, I had the pleasure of making on this occasion, having established himself originally on an estate granted to him by Government near Paramatta, sent forward his son, still in his teens, to superintend the squatting stations in the Bathurst district. In like manner, the branches, as well as the property, of the family having subsequently increased, some of the younger scions are now about to join a party of other youths on an expedition to seek for locations for flocks and herds, and to take charge of them when established, on the Bargan River, far in the interior. Our host, who appears to be one of those men well calculated to grapple with difficulties, and to make none, gave me some interesting details connected with his early occupation of the country. Surrounded with convict servants, and with numerous tribes of the Aborigines, he never had any trouble with either. Doubtless, his treatment of both was firm, just, and consistent. The mutual relations of these two classes were, however, not so peaceable. Frequent collisions took place, in which blackey of course fared the worst; yet, on one occasion, no less than seven white men fell under their spears.

  ― 353 ―

Not so favourably impressed with the qualities of assigned prisoner servants was the lady of Brucedale. In the occasional absences of her lord from home in those days, she passed many an hour of uneasiness and fear, lest these already branded knaves should break out into the commission of some dreadful outrage.

Mr.Suttor, on the final discussion of the transportation question by the Legislative Council in 1850, spoke strongly and voted as an “anti.” Our late host, Mr. Icely, who is a nominee member, or one appointed by the Government, voted as a “pro.” Both, as far as I know, are educating their families with a view to permanent settlement in the colony; and they seem somewhat similarly situated as to property and pursuit. Mr. Suttor possesses very considerable property in land and live-stock; and has discovered copper, lead, and even indications of gold on his estate. He prudently contents himself, however, at present, with the superficial produce of the earth.

A party of some thirty-five ladies and gentlemen from Bathurst and the neighbourhood dined at Brucedale this day to meet the Governor; and about forty more came to a dance in the evening. During the dinner, I found myself very assiduously waited on by a servant belonging to a gentleman present. His face was familiar to me; but where, when, or how we had met before I had no recollection. During the noise and bustle occasioned by the ball, he drew near me, and, whispering, said, “Don't you know me, Sir? Don't you remember James ——? I was six years in your company in the 43d.”

I immediately recalled to mind that this man had

  ― 354 ―
been transported for life by a general court-martial for deserting from the regiment at Niagara during the Canadian rebellion in 1838. In 1846, I (the Deputy Judge Advocate, as it happened, of the court which tried him) find the disgraced and dishonoured soldier, who was “marked with the letter D, and transported as a felon for the term of his natural life,” now the trusted, well-paid, and well-fed domestic servant of a wealthy colonist! Is not this fact a direct premium for “mutiny, desertion, and all other crimes,” for which transportation is awarded by a military tribunal? How this fellow and felon must chuckle over the loyal soldier who toils through the world, following his colours, for 1s. a-day, while he gets his 20l. or 30l. a-year, food, and lodgings, and can go where he lists over this wide continent, —to which thousands of the poor and honest labourers of England would joyfully repair, could they afford the cost of passage and outfit, both of which were furnished to this criminal at the public expense! Reformation, I admit, is one of the intended results—the best, perhaps —of transportation; but example is also requisite; and unquestionably this man's improved condition by “desertion before the enemy” (for American “sympathisers” were the worst enemies a soldier could have to deal with!) is a somewhat dangerous fact for discussion in a barrack-room, when duties happen to be heavy or officers severe. Mr. Deserter —— was very much inclined for conversation with his former captain; but I told him, that, as an officer in her Majesty's service, I could hold no communication with one who had forsaken his colours and broken his oath.

  ― 355 ―

This individual had at least been caught, tried, and quasi punished; but it has been my lot to encounter and recognise several times in foreign countries soldiers in a state of desertion who had never been captured, and who could afford to laugh in the face of their former officer. I have seen them in private service, as thriving settlers, as miserable beggars, as musicians in theatres, and as bandsmen—as well as in the ranks—of the United States army. The left-hand man of my own company wheeled my baggage by my side as porter of an American hotel, just a quarter of a mile from the British outposts in Upper Canada. Ruxton mentions that he met deserters from our army on the far prairies of the Kansas River, harbouring with the Shawnees and Kickapoo Indians. I heard myself of such men domiciled with the New Zealand savages, married to Maori women, and tattooed like the barbarians.

Military crimes are thought nothing of in New South Wales. Men who have been transported for committing such are high in the labour market and eagerly sought for. A wide distinction is drawn between him whom a breach of discipline has made a felon, and him who has gained that title through a civil court for robbery, burglary, perjury, forgery, or other offences against society at large. The soldier who, once or twice a year, scales the barrack walls and makes away with his kit in order to raise funds for a nocturnal spree, and in a paroxysm of pot-valour trips up the heels of the fat sergeant who is testing his sobriety by putting him through his facings;—or who punches or threatens to punch the head of the corporal of the picquet which

  ― 356 ―
captured him—is, in the martinet's eye—indeed in that of every good soldier—a terrible and unpardonable delinquent. Perhaps when grown a year or two older and wiser, the very qualities of spirit and flesh which induced these disorders would render him eligible for the posts of constable, policeman, overseer, watchman, or such other as a Colonial Government or private employer, in times of scarcity of labour, has great difficulty in filling.

This very scarcity and dearness of labour, which has subsisted for so many years in the colony and which certainly did not decrease during the five years of my sojourn there, present a powerful temptation to desert. Crimps are active and unscrupulous; and when a half-drunken private, known to be a tolerable handicraftsman, is promised ensign's or even lieutenant's pay—and moreover gets it; what wonder that he should forget the obligations he subscribed to in his attestation? And should his conscience afterwards urge him to return to his allegiance, he can only do so through the gates of a military court. He has had a taste of liberty; and finds it difficult to stomach the idea of guard-rooms and courts-martial, imprisonment, or perhaps a sentence of transportation which condemns him to work in irons with a gang of thieves.

The facility with which, up to a very late period, soldiers transported to these colonies obtained in Van Diemen's Land, while serving their terms, appointments of trust and emolument under Government, was so notorious, that several men committed felonies with the express and privately avowed purpose of relieving

  ― 357 ―
themselves from their military responsibilities by becoming convicts. When, however, this trick became somewhat stale and apparent, one or more of the performers were met by a sentence of the lash, followed by imprisonment with hard labour, in lieu of transportation; and in 1849 the present Governor of the latter colony, at the instance of the local military authorities, signified publicly his intention to carry out to the full extent the sentence awarded by a court-martial in such cases— where transportation was awarded—granting the prisoner neither passes, tickets-of-leave, nor other indulgences.

I met with, in this, colony, more than one deserter or other delinquent from our military service, who, having served the period of their sentence, are now doing well and living as respectable and useful citizens. But there was one case that came to my knowledge, so singular that I am tempted to insert a notice of it here, rather than admit it in its more strictly appropriate place; because I am unwilling to point too directly to the person in question.

In 1850, when proceeding with my wife on an excursion into the provinces, a gentleman recommended us to pass a day or two at a certain rural inn, where the climate was considered cool, and where, as he said, “old John——, the waiter, will take excellent care of you and make you very comfortable, if you mention my name.” Accordingly we soon became very good friends with John, whom we found to be a little weazened old fellow, quick and intelligent, although evidently declining in strength, most attentive to our comforts, a firstrate cook (for he performed that office in the absence

  ― 358 ―
of the hired one), and full of amusing anecdotes and proverbs à la Sancho. I believe I must admit that, with all his estimable qualities, rogue was so indelibly written in his countenance, that although it belied his present character it was still impossible to look in old John's face and feel (however one might place) implicit trust in him. I knew nothing of him further than that his life had been an adventurous one; and one evening while sitting over our tea, which the old fellow had embellished with some regular English-inn buttered toast, I asked him to give us his history—for he had just told me that he had served “a little” in the army. He was nothing loth; and I took down the following “Autobiography of a New South Wales Waiter,” nearly in his own words; nor have I since taken the trouble to test his dates and facts.

“I was born,” began John, “in the island of North Shetland, and was, as early as I can remember, and long before I could lift an oar, employed in the lingfishing trade. In 1806-7, I was in Greenland, where I served a short apprenticeship in whaling. In 1808, when at North Scalloway, plying in my father's boat, I was pressed by a man-of-war's tender. I ran from the press-gang the very same day, and went and enlisted with a party of artillery stationed in the fort. Marched with them shortly afterwards to Aberdeen, and was employed there and at Glasgow recruiting, for some time. Being considered too short for the artillery, I was transferred to the 1st Royals, and joined their 4th Battalion in December 1808, on their return from Corunna. I embarked with them July 1809 in the

  ― 359 ―
Revenge (74), Captain Paget, for Flushing—the second expedition. Landed under Colonel Hay, and assisted at the taking of five batteries. Was wounded in the head by a musket-shot the day before the town surrendered. Came to England, and was placed in hospital at Harwich.

“In January 1810 I was sent with the force to Portugal, and was landed in the Black Horse Square, Lisbon, where we were brigaded. Thence we went by water to Santarem; afterwards to Thomar. I was at the battle of Busaco, and the subsequent retreat to the Lines. In 1811 I was present at the affairs of Pombal and Sabugal; at Almeida, Fuentes d'Onor, Cuidad Rodrigo; at the siege and capture of Badajos; at Salamanca, where I received a bad sabre wound in the side; at Madrid and Burgos, and the retreat from the latter. I was at Lamego and Visu, (but these were mere skrimmages!) at Vittoria, St. Sebastian—where I was shot through the thigh, and taken prisoner by a sortie while reconnoitring the horn-work and breach; —this was 21 July, 1813. Was retaken on the 31st August, when the place fell. I lay for some time in hospital at Santander and Bilboa; but I was young and strong, and my wound soon healed. I was fit for duty, and present at the sortie of Bayonne.

“In 1815 I embarked at Cork for the Netherlands with the 3d Battalion of the Royals. Recollect well the towns of Ostend, Bruges, Ghent, and Brussels. Was employed at this time in the regimental mess. Was quartered close to the house where the Duchess of Richmond gave the grand ball on the 17th of June.

  ― 360 ―
I was married then, and both myself and my wife were employed in the officers' mess. I was on the field of Waterloo, and was sent, with the quarter-master of the battalion, back to Brussels after the battle, and thence to Clichi. In 1816 I was stationed at Valenciennes with the Army of Occupation; and in the same year I got my discharge. I set up for myself, and at one time had 500l. or 600l. in the Bank. In the year —— I came out to New South Wales; and in this country I have met with adventures, successes, and troubles such as few men have gone through.”

The retired veteran was proceeding to recount some of the leading incidents of his Australian career, when his present historian interrupted him with the pertinent, but perhaps indelicate remark—“But, John, you have not told us how or why you emigrated.”

“No, Sir, I have not,” replied my hero, with a slight change of countenance. “Well, Sir, I endorsed a bill for a person who signed another man's name; was tried for being an accomplice in a forgery—(forgery itself was, you know, a hanging matter in those days)— and was transported. I don't complain of my judges. They behaved very well to me. They could not know that I was innocent of any wrong intention when I signed my name. The authorities in this country, too, behaved very well to me. I was always a sober man, you see. They assigned me as servant to Mr. H——, of G——, whom I served for four years as cook and house-steward. Having made some money, I afterwards set up an eating-house at Sydney, and did well in that line. However, getting tired of it, I purchased

  ― 361 ―
a vessel of 95 tons lying in the Hawkesbury; stored it well in Sydney, and traded to Hobart Town, where at one time I had a house. I also made several trips to Swan River when it was first settled, carrying sundries there which I sold at high profits—especially wooden frame houses. Unfortunately I entrusted my vessel and cargo to a hired master, who got drunk with his crew and totally wrecked the schooner on the rocks of the Five Islands. Vessel and freight were worth, I suppose, 3,000l.

“Being now entirely ruined, I accepted the post of supercargo in a vessel trading to New Zealand; and whilst in that country I lost the use of my limbs from rheumatism. Returning to New South Wales, having once more saved a little money, I rented a farm on the Kurrajong Hills, but the main road from Sydney to Bathurst was diverted from it by the Government; the caterpillars devoured my crops, and I was compelled to give up the lease. After that I took to house-service again, which I find the safest and surest employment in my old age. I am now nearly worn out, and shall try no more experiments.”

I have elsewhere remarked—or shall remark—that present good behaviour, independent of former character and conduct, is all that is required of a servant—(I had almost said of an employé of any sort)—in New South Wales. John, when I first made his acquaintance, was cook, waiter, and indeed ostensible manager of an excellent inn; for the host and hostess were of that easygoing and invisible order which is remarkable, although luckily not universal, among the hotel-keepers of this

  ― 362 ―
country. When I left the colony, I ascertained that the old man had quitted the public line, and had become major-domo and factotum to an opulent squatter. The narrative is as he gave it to me.

Subsequently, accident enabled me to fill up one or two of the many hiatus which self-esteem naturally inclined this much-by-fortune-buffeted Shetlander to leave in his autobiography. In a casual conversation with one of the judges of the land I was made cognisant of John's second entrance into the bonds of matrimony, as well as other bonds. It appears he wooed and wedded one of his own feather, who shortly afterwards was convicted in the colony of being principally, while the husband was proved to be secondarily, engaged in a grand robbery of ardent spirits. What became of his better half I did not inquire, but my respectable old friend paid a compulsory visit to the two sequestered islands of Cockatoo and Norfolk. His Honour who pronounced the sentence was nevertheless so much impressed with the many valuable qualities of the exile, that, after seven years of probation, he procured his return to New South Wales. Even in Norfolk Island itself his talents did not remain under a bushel; for the officers of the detachment found out his cooking qualifications, and John was once more engaged at a military mess.

The above is a long story—here is a short one, on the subject of convict servants, just as it was related to me by a friend holding an exalted office in one of the Australian colonies. Pleased with the conduct and capabilities of a foreigner whom he had employed for some time as his head-servant, the gentleman, departing

  ― 363 ―
from the ordinary custom in such cases, demanded privately of this meritorious domestic what might have been the cause of his being “sent out.” “Somting about a vatch,” was the prompt, frank, yet diplomatic, and therefore valet-like reply.

December 5th. Brucedale.—A riding and driving expedition. When the party about to be thus employed promises to be a numerous one, the following are something like the preliminary operations at the residence of an Australian provincial gentleman.

Host.—“How many horses have you got with you?”

Visitor.—“We have three for the saddle, and six carriage horses.”

Host.—“Oh! then we shall want three more riding horses and four for the carriages. Your carriage horses will be all the better for a ‘spell,’ (a rest.) Here, Larry, take Fishhook with you, and drive in eight or ten horses. And, John, step up to the store-roomnote and bring down two new saddles and a couple of bridles and martingales;—and, John, two or three whips. And, oh, John, you must get up twenty or thirty of the best colts for his Excellency to see this afternoon. He will see the heifers too; so let Paddy and Johnny Russell (a black) drive them down to the lagoon by five o'clock;— and halloo! you, Bill Ugly Mug! (another black), run down and open the slip-rail into the 1,000-acre paddock!”

Then comes a galloping of wild steeds with a cracking of stock-whips, and, after sundry wily evolutions of the

  ― 364 ―
drivers, the requisite number and perhaps a dozen or two more are collected within the stock-yard. They are soon haltered, saddled, and bridled, by fair means or foul; for the Australian horses are generally goodtempered, and besides no option is allowed them.

The chestnut is a capital hack but a little stale in the fore-legs, for he is a favourite stock-horse and has passed the greater part of his life at full gallop over ground as hard as the floor of a racket court. Moreover he happens to have only one shoe on, and that a hind one;—mere trifle! The “Emigrant” Filly has a sore back and mouth from the breaking—bagatelle! she will be all right after the first half-hour. The “Agitator” colt will buck-jump a bit at starting;—“Oh! put Willy on him—he'll soon take the devil out of him!” …

The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed a delightful excursion across the plains past Alloway Banks, a pretty cottage residence belonging to the Suttor family, and into the town of Bathurst, where we visited the barracks of the infantry detachment and of the mounted police, the Government cottage now the quarters of the officer commanding the troops, and other public buildings.

The subsequent reduction of the force in New South Wales has deprived Bathurst of the advantages social and financial of a military garrison. Bathurst must have been an excellent and agreeable station for an officer who knew how to maintain his position, to select his society, and who had some few more elevated resources than smoking and drinking brandy and water.

Unfortunately, at stations so distant from head quarters, a solitary subaltern too often falls into bad

  ― 365 ―
hands. If he chance to be young and pliant, his barrackroom soon becomes the estaminet of all the idlers and ne'er-do-wells of the neighbourhood! If such happened sometimes at Bathurst, it is not the only place in Australia, nor in other colonies, where the like occurs.

I purchased at this town a pound of gunpowder and a pair of kid gloves—paying 10s. 6d. for the lot— expensive certainly, but not exorbitant perhaps, when the cost and risk of importation is taken into account. I wonder whether the well-dressed ladies who graced the ball at Brucedale last night, provided themselves at proportionate prices with all the white satin shoes, gloves, silks, muslins, blondes, tulles, ribbons and flowers which are necessary to the composition of what the newspapers style “an elegantly attired female!” If so, there must be a good deal of boiling-down to maintain the pin-money!

December 7th.—G. F. and myself, with a small Aboriginal boy as guide, repaired this afternoon to seek for snipe in a swampy valley not far off, and, for New South Wales, had a very good two hours' sport. My bag contained seven couple of those birds, a wild duck, and four brace of quail. One of the pleasantest passages of the sport was to count the teeth of the black lad, as he grinningly picked up a pair of widgeons which my companion and I respectively and simultaneously brought down on his head, as they skimmed over the tops of a clump of gum-trees.

The floods were very much out—so were the sun and the mosquitos. I don't know that I was ever, in a short

  ― 366 ―
time, so burnt, bitten, and wet through at once. The snipe of Australia appears to me to be a finer bird than him of Europe, to the eye;—not so to the palate.

December 8th.—Quitted Brucedale, and set forth on our return to Sydney—our own horses having been sent on twelve miles to the hostelry of the widow Jones on the high road, and Mr. Suttor obligingly supplying us with teams for one stage. It was on this occasion that, as previously related, an accident to my ill-starred vehicle drew out the bush resources of Mr. Suttor in the manner described. It was truly a disreputable looking carriage when I turned it over—for the last time, fortunately! to Mr. Martyn, coach-builder, Sydney.

Widow Jones' is a comfortable road-side inn, beautifully situated at a place called Green Swamp, just where the Blue Mountains trend gently down into the Plains of Bathurst.

A few miles beyond Diamond Swamp we cheated the Surveyor-general and turned his flank, at least in so far as he is identified with the awful passage over Mount Lambey, by taking the line of Piper's Flat, a fine alluvial oasis in the midst of hills, covered with rich grass and watered by a beautiful stream, on the banks of which the well-fed cattle seemed almost to stagger under their fat.

The projector of the concurrent mountain road, for which he has been so much abused by travellers, would have smiled sarcastically could he have looked down from his pet mountain upon our weary cavalcade, toiling like tortoises through the deep, black, flooded soil of the valley below. Had it not been for the change of scenery,

  ― 367 ―
I almost wished myself and carriage upon the steep and precipitous, but at least firm high road of Mount Lambey, by which route we performed our upward journey.

It was late in the evening before we reached Wallērawong, the residence of Mr. Walker, the intention being to go on to Binning's to sleep. The Governor and Lady Mary, and others of the party, accepted the invitation of the proprietor to remain for the night at Wallērawong, while Mr. Fitz Roy, myself, and the officer of mounted police, guided by Black George, a native scout of that force, made a moonlight ride of eight miles to the hotel above mentioned, of comfortable memory. The next day the vice-regal party performed a forced march over the road already travelled on our ascent of the mountains. We threaded the splendid pass of Mount Victoria, halted for refreshment at Blackheath, and slept at the Blue Mountain Inn.

December 10th. — A journey of twenty-one miles along the route already described, brought us to Bungarabee, the H. E. I. Company's stud establishment (just on the eve of abolition), where Captain Apperley gave us a warm reception and excellent entertainment—albeit his old butler did select this particular evening to get most uncommonly and inconveniently drunk. His grey hairs, I think, alone saved him from what his master calls, and sometimes inflicts, “a deuced good hiding.”

Bungarabee consists of an excellent dwelling-house and offices, stables permanent and temporary for several hundred horses, with some fine open paddocks around them. It is about twenty-three miles from Sydney.

  ― 368 ―

December 11th.—To-day we passed a spot where a year or two ago, in a thicket not far removed from the public road, was found a human skeleton with a military cloak and cap lying near it. On the peak of the latter, scratched with a penknife, were the words—“J.— H.—Major, died of starvation, May the—, 184—.” I was told that the cause of this fearful incident was simply that the poor old ruined officer could not dig, was ashamed to beg—so he died, after writing his own mournful epitaph.

As for our party, we reached the capital safe and sound at five P. M., after a most agreeable tour of thirty-three days, all in excellent and improved health.

“Travelling,” says Ford in his amusing “Gatherings,” “makes a man forget that he has a liver, that storehouse of mortal misery, bile, blue pill, and blue devils.”

I believe that no one of our party rejoiced at the change from the road to the city—from the picturesque and pastoral scenes of the Bush to the “Fumum et opes, strepitumque Sydnæ.”