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Chapter XII.

THE SYDNEY GAY SEASON—SOCIETY—GENERAL COMPETENCE—THE MARRIAGE MARKET—SETTLERS, SOLDIERS, AND SAILORS VIEWED MATRIMONIALLY—THE FITZ ROY HOUNDS—THE TURF AND THE RING—PIGEON AND PARROT MATCHES—SHARKS AND A SHARK HUNT—LA PEROUSE— PLAGUES OF NEW SOUTH WALES—DOMESTIC SERVANTS—MOSQUITOS— OLD NEWS—MENDICANCY—BEZONIANS—MIGRATION TO CALIFORNIA— “THE SYDNEY RANGERS.”

WINTER is the gay season at Sydney. During the hotter months—November, December, January, February, and March, the society very wisely withdraws within its shell, shutting itself in, and the sun and hot winds out, “until further orders” as we say in the army. No one moves abroad during the day-time for mere pleasure: but towards four or five o'clock in the afternoon, those who wish for air and exercise, get into their carriages or on their horses; and if there be a breeze in the air it may be met with on the road to the Heads, blowing over the vast Pacific. Though not always cool, it is at least always pure and fresh.

Of the surface peculiarities of the Sydney society, I shall say but little. There is a feature of deeper


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importance to which I am pleased to be able to bear testimony. I have visited no part of the world where there appears to exist so much of universal competence, so much equality of means, if such were possible. There must be very few individuals in New South Wales spending 1,000l. a-year upon the ordinary appliances of living; there must be equally few who cannot afford a sufficiency of good clothing, bread and meat and firing for themselves and families every day of the year. The barometer of domestic finance has but few degrees on its scale. No one in health can be at the zero of indigence, and scareely any will burn like Dives, for the same cause.

In spite of the occasional grumblings of discontent on the subjects of the “exhausted resources,” the “paralysed energies,” the “universal insolvency,” and the “downfall of the colony!”—there exists, in New South Wales, an amount of comfort and happiness for which its people ought to be deeply thankful. If there be, however, a general sufficiency of means for subsistence, there is not enough for display; nor, after the lesson which was taught by the general break down of 1841, is there much danger of the good folks suffering a relapse of that malady—so long, at least, as the impression of its ravages is visible as a warning.

The shopocracy of Sydney are a very thriving class, many of them keeping carriages and riding horses, possessing handsome villas and gardens in the suburbs, and even landed property in the provinces. I have heard the society of Sydney accused—I have


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heard them accuse themselves, of an addiction to scandal and tittle-tattle; and I dare say, many persons who know the city quite as well as myself, will disagree with me when I exonerate the good people in general from those vices, or at least from possessing it in an inordinate degree. In New South Wales there is no aristocracy, properly so called, no hereditary idlers, no pensioned dowagers, no half-pay loungers, few widows or unmarried elders of either sex;—all are working people, from the Governor downwards. There is, therefore, I think, less backbiting and gossiping, less amiable uneasiness about other persons' affairs, than are generally to be found at an English watering place or country town. Except at the very earliest stage of my acquaintance with Sydney, its social atmosphere appeared to me singularly calm and placid. On that one occasion, indeed, it was convulsed in all its elements—from the representative of majesty to the printer's devils of the press—by a sudden and determined attempt to cause to be erased from the list of the 11, or 12,00 occasional visitors at Government-house the names of two or three persons far advanced in years and much esteemed by those who knew them, who in the somewhat lax infancy of the colony had, it was said, taken on themselves parental responsibilities without due regard to ritual; but who had long since submitted to its yoke, and had reared for their adopted country one and two generations of excellent and estimable citizens. Truly, at this juncture, such was the social uproar, such the disunion, ill-blood, and recrimination, that, at first, I feared that in venturing to Sydney I had stumbled


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into some hot-bed of active and fearful dissipation! Whether, as a bachelor, I was disappointed or relieved on finding out my mistake, is of no consequence. At any rate I was as much amused as it was possible to be with a circumstance involving as much cruelty as absurdity; and I could not but congratulate the community upon the fact, that, in order to find a flaw in its immaculateness, it had been necessary to rake up again to the surface frailties that had been forgotten, and had, as it were, become fossilized by the lapse of ages! As far as I know, this was the only serious crusade against character that occurred in my time. I repeat, therefore, my opinion, that the society of Sydney is not censorious.

In the cool weather this society meets together very pleasantly at dinner parties of ten to fourteen, and at soirées dansantes of one hundred to three hundred persons. The really splendid rooms of Government-house, during the same season, receive a vast number of guests at dinners of twenty to thirty persons, and at balls at which are assembled from two hundred to twelve hundred persons, the latter number being, I think, something under that of the cards of invitation issued on her Majesty's birthday.

The lamentable death of Lady Mary Fitz Roy was in this point, as in every other, an irreparable misfortune to the colony. Her high rank and intimate relations with the most refined circles of the Old Country gave her advantages, as the leader of society, such as none of her predecessors, however estimable their qualities, had possessed. Gentle, kind, charitable, affable, accessible, and


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gifted with a quiet dignity, which must be innate and can neither be acquired nor assumed, her influence—had she been spared—could not have failed to blend and reconcile the crude and discordant elements of a young and growing community. The sudden loss of this muchesteemed lady, aggravated as it was by the deplorable accident that caused it, not only made Governmenthouse— in all colonies the great centre of society—a house of mourning for a lengthened period; but was, and has ever since continued to be, felt as a grievous public bereavement and misfortune.

In spite of the worthy Colonial Secretary's statistics, which tend to prove the still existing undue numerical proportion of males over females in the colony generally, the fair sex preponderates very largely in the ball-rooms of Sydney. The brothers and sons of those pretty girls and respectable matrons are, one must suppose, pushing their fortunes in the Bush or elsewhere; and, were it not for the officers of the staff and garrison, and now and then a lucky influx of naval men, the young ladies might live unpaired—even for the fugitive engagement of a quadrille or valtz.

Viewed as a marriage market New South Wales must at present be set down as decidedly and shockingly bad. A speculative young woman emigrating, without capital, in the hope of securing an establishment for life, will no more succeed than would the young man without funds make a livelihood by coming out as a squatter. In former days, indeed, when times were good and wool remunerative, the prosperous settler, tired of solitude, and desiring with Paul Richter “to find a gentle girl


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who could cook something for him, and who would sometimes smile and sometimes weep with him,”—

“A creature not too bright and good
For human nature's daily food:”

desirous, in a word, of assistance and sympathy in the loneliness of the bush—repaired to the metropolis in deliberate and determined quest of the article desiderated. But the reverses of the colony made men cautious, and unluckily for the ladies they still continue so. Sentimental impulse seems to have utterly stagnated! Perhaps many of the fair damsels have souls above damper and bark huts. Perhaps some of them really prefer celibacy. Be this as it may, I see numbers of nice girls still performing the very natural and graceful duties of daughters, without any apparent prospect of engaging in woman's main mission. Perhaps, as I said before, they prefer celibacy. But, admitting the possibility of there being one or two dear little creatures who do not prefer that state, it is painful to me, who have a soft heart (I write as a married man!) to see the vine, the honeysuckle, the passion-flower, stretching out their delicate tendrils, and finding, alas! no responsive oak or elm to lend its firm and permanent support! Strange to say, too, the well brought up and pretty maidens of the middle and servant classes of Sydney do not appear to be much sought in marriage. Yet it is undoubtedly in these classes that the well-known preponderance of males exists. The single men do not want wives, and the responsibilities and encumbrances of family life. They prefer working hard—working like slaves—four or five days, and “larking” the rest of the week.




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One day, in conversation with an old Qui Hi, I was contrasting New South Wales with India as a field of speculation in the above line for the more educated orders; when I was surprised to hear that things have altered since my time. Since the adoption of the overland route between England and Hindostan, would-be Benedicts go home by steam, and bring back to the east Hyperborean brides, with the rose of England fresh on their cheeks, instead of supplying themselves, as formerly, on the spot.

It results from the circumstances I have above noticed, that in Australia, as in other dependencies of the Crown, the members of the martial professions are more graciously regarded in the light of possible husbands and sons-in-law, than they are known to be in the Old Country. There is a vulgar old-fashioned notion among all classes at home—for which some of the ancient novel and play-writers may be thanked—that, if the private soldier be notoriously a “rascal in red,” the officer must be a dicer, a drinker, and a ruffler—capable of jilting a woman and bilking a turnpike—a perpetrator of “broken oaths, and hearts, and-heads,” and of every intermediate enormity between chuck-farthing and manslaughter;—or, what is worse, a pauper! Who has not seen the cautious husband or father watching with distrust the epauletted attentions of the most innoxious child of Mars, wholly unsuspicious of the spruce young fellow in the black coat and white cravat who, two to one, is the real snake in the grass of the domestic lawn? Thus the mouse, in a good old fable, fled in terror from the cock, strutting and crowing about the farmyard,


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but looked without fear on the sleek tom-cat, whose gentle purring manners disarmed suspicion. Luckily we have the softer and more influential sex on our side; —although occasionally “a malignant and a turbaned” chaperon, having a pretty and wealthy daughter or ward, will turn against us and “traduce the state” of our morals, finances, and intentions. The “scorpion” in England becomes in the colonies an “eligible!”

As the close application to business, rendered necessary by the badness of the times, has operated as a deterrent from matrimony among the colonial gentlemen; perhaps it is the great amount of leisure enjoyed, or rather forced, upon individuals of my profession in this country, that has given the combined forces of Cupid and Hymen such an advantage over them. The shafts which glance harmless off the rhinoceros hide of the money-hunting merchant and the wool-gathering squatter, have transfixed the unoccupied heart and secured the unemployed hand of many a son of the sword in New South Wales and the neighbouring colonies—to a greater degree perhaps than occurs in any other of the five and forty dependencies of Great Britain. It was here that that social prodigy, a married ensign, first broke upon my astonished sight! Alack-a-day!—'twas a fearful spectacle for a philanthropist or a prophet; but the parties most concerned were as happy as if there were no to-morrow;—and life is short,—so the consequences usually accruing from the condition of “nothing a day, and find himself,” had no terrors for the head of this youthful establishment. May they never meet the


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troubles that, in the panoply of trusting and loving hearts, they have not feared to brave!

The blue-jackets too have not come off scot-free. Not a few of these open-hearted fellows, rendered doubly susceptible by long deprivation of female society, have fallen in love, and into a proposal, with some fair Australian—some lily of the Pacific; and, since their mission into these seas by “their lordships” in Whitehall does not comprise a clause for the replenishment of the population, and the inexorable rules of the service forbid domestic felicity on board ship, the consummation of these tender engagements are necessarily deferred “sine die,”—to the injury of society at large by the withdrawal, total or partial, of the plighted fair one from the world; a practice which I hereby anathematize and hold up to public reprobation! If, on the other hand, in the plenitude of desperate attachment, the knot is tied at the Antipodes—can I forget that two of the fairest Australian brides that ever blushed beneath the nuptial veil, came to England in the same merchant ship with myself and family, having, one short week before, parted with their but lately plighted lords, and seen the frigate that carried them on the self-same voyage disappear between the heads of Port Jackson!

New South Wales is certainly not what is considered in the army “a good quarter,” especially for the officers. It must be admitted, I suppose, that, taking them as a class, gentlemen of the sword are not deeply addicted to literary pursuits; that no great amount of midnight oil—in the poetical sense at least!—is consumed by them in their general avocations. In these colonies,


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and especially in New South Wales, there is no shooting or hunting, usually so rife in countries without game laws; nor any other safety valves for exuberant vitality,—while all the less innocent pastimes common to large towns, and seaport towns in particular, extend their temptations to young men of leisure and spirit. I err in saying that there is no hunting. There was none near Sydney when I first arrived. Formerly some approaches were made to an imitation of the good old English sport of fox-hunting; for your Briton generally contrives, in obstinate resistance to climate and circumstances, to carry about with him the customs and pursuits of the Mother-land. The mere non-existence of the fox in this country—the play of Hamlet, with the part of Hamlet left out by particular desire!—presented no obstacle to the performance of fox-hunting by her Majesty's servants in New South Wales. As the jackal obligingly undertook at the shortest notice that character in Hindostan, so, in Australia, the dingo, or native dog,—(you may see a fine specimen in the London Zoological Gardens,)—was not permitted, through any diffidence on his part, however natural, to decline the performance of the part of fox to the best of his ability. And truly he is no bad substitute. The Cumberland Hunt was only a matter of history when I reached the colony. It was left for Mr. George Fitz Roy to establish a regular pack, well turned out, master and whippers in “pink and skins,” fixtures advertised, and everything orthodox.

The country is as inimical to fox-hunting as can well be conceived; wide tracts of dense forest, salt creeks,


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impracticable ravines, a hard, sandy, scent-repelling soil, and in the cleared and enclosed ground three and four railed fences of iron bark and other unmanageable timber, which might well appal the stoutest heart—if not break the toughest neck—that ever put a nag at a fence or tumbled over it. Now and then occurred such slight incongruities as the master, servants, and field coming home with only half-a-dozen hounds out of the twenty couple, and sometimes without a single card of the pack—during which absence of the proper authorities some uneasiness could not but be felt as to the nature of the prey fourteen or fifteen couple of hungry hounds might happen to pick up in their uncontrolled course. Not unfrequently indeed, when legitimate game was scarce and when the woody nature of the country favoured an outbreak, the mottled conspirators would “run into” some stray sheep-dog before they could be whipped off; or, on the way home, would “walk into” some old lady's fat lap-dog—the latter a species of “riot,” which, while outwardly condemning it, gave me, I confess, unmitigated satisfaction. The destruction of noxious animals was, as every one knows, the original motive of the chase. I am old enough to remember the pug-dog, the very type of useless cur-ism. He is now—with his black snout and curly tail—as extinct as the mastodon and the golden pippin. I wish all drawing-room rug-dogs a like fate!

To get a good run with a real wild dingo, it is necessary to rise with the lark as our ancestors did—“dull sleep and our downy beds scorning,”—and while the dew is still on the ground to try to cross the trail of


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the robber of hen-roosts and reveller in the garbage of boiling-down stations. Later in the day he is laid up in some rocky bank; and the sun quickly dispels the scent so strong while the turf is yet damp. I beg to insert a short account of a run with this pack, which I joined in and reported to a newspaper.

“SPORTING INTELLIGENCE.—Mr. Fitz Roy's hounds had a brilliant run on Saturday last, the 5th of June. The fixture was Vineyard, the seat of H. Macarthur, Esq.; the hour five A.M. On being thrown into covert, the hounds almost immediately unkenneled a fine dingo, which made off at a good pace along the north bank of the river towards Kissing Point. Owing to the dryness of the ground the scent was not very good, but after a slight check the pack hit it off again on the swampy land near the river, carrying it breast high through Mrs. Bowerman's grounds, and across alternate scrub and cleared land till they reached the cross road to Pennant Hill wharf. Here Renard, hard pressed, turned his head northward, and, skirting the road, gave the field—most of whom had lost ground in the dense bush—an opportunity to retrieve lee way by racing up this woodland lane. Close at his brush the pack pushed him across the Paramatta-road and through a long rough dingle, without giving him a moment's breathing time, into a large grass paddock of forty or fifty acres, thinly dotted with acacia bushes, the horsemen charging several stiffish flights of rails crossing the country at right angles with the dingle; until dingo, hounds, and field together, reached the paddock above mentioned, in the middle of which the pack fairly coursed up to


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him and pulled him down, not a single hound having lost his place. A party of farming people who were working in a field hard by, hearing the whoo-whoop! joined in the ceremony of breaking up, and appeared highly delighted at this realization in Australia of the good old field sports of the Mother country.

“This capital run occupied twenty-six minutes; the pace in the low grounds was very fast, and the fences were of a less impracticable nature than is usual in this country. At one point a field of British fox-hunters found themselves in the somewhat uncommon predicament of thrusting through a dense scrub of burnt wattle-bushes, about the height of hop-poles, to the great disfigurement of white leathers; and at another charging, at full cry, over hedges of lemon and through alleys of orange-trees, laden with fruit.

“As the worthy master trotted home through Paramatta with a white tagged brush peeping out of his pocket, the dingo's head hanging from the whipper-in's saddle, and the hounds following with blood-smeared muzzles, an old fellow, who looked like a retired earth-stopper from the old country, exclaimed, “Well, d——me, but this looks like work!”

Mr. Fitz Roy's kennel is at the Governor's country place, Paramatta. But he brings the hounds to Sydney during the session of the Legislative Council in the winter months; and the sport is here conducted on the stag-hunting principle. In this case getting up by candle-light is not necessary. The certainty of a find is secured by means of the bag; and, if the dingo should have lost scent by domestication, which is often the case


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if long confined, a soupçon of aniseed supplies the want. If not added with moderation, so powerful is the odour of this drug that the riders themselves may almost carry the scent breast high.

The Botany Swamps are usually the locale of the fixtures. There are but few fences, but the country is covered with a short shrubby bush, in some places rising into thickets—not unlike the grouse-moors of North Britain—a similitude noticed by old Cook. As the pace is generally good, the necessary amount of excitement is procured, in the absence of fences, by rushing blindly through the brush, or clearing it at a bound. I have seen some really tolerable tumbles and divorcements of horse and rider on these occasions. The worst accident that can happen is getting bogged. Sometimes in hunting before sunrise a kangaroo is found, and, if not near a gully, affords a fast burst.

Among these same sand-hills and swamps there was, in 1848, a course constructed for hurdle-racing, which was attended by immense crowds of people of all classes from the city. I hardly know why this sport was discontinued, unless it was that some terrible falls were occasioned by the stiffness of the fences and the reckless riding of the gentlemen jockies, most of whom were officers of the garrison. The honest dwellers on the swamps, too, invariably made fire-wood of the hurdles.

I have little to say about the turf of New South Wales. I have occasionally seen very good running on the Homebush course, which is situated between Sydney and Paramatta, and is well attended by all classes, from


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the Governor of the colony down to the real lord of the soil—the Aboriginal black.

The dullest feature in the Australian racing is the fact of one or two well-known horses carrying off all the prizes. I was sick and tired of hearing the “ould horse, Jorrocks,” cheered by his numerous and uproarious friends as he came in “a winner,” I do not know how many seasons in succession. The worst feature is the dishonest and scampish characters of the jockies.

The same may be said of Australian pugilism. The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong. “There is a time for all things,” says the ancient proverb; “There is a price for all things,” says the modern Solomon—a proverb not always inapplicable to the turf and ring of the old, as well as of this new, country. The latter thoroughly British pastime is in very bad repute here, and I dare say deservedly so. The “beaks” and police hunt down the principals, seconds, and spectators. The guardians of the public peace and property will go any distance to break up the “stakes and ropes,” and catch the “commissaries;” while Sydney is meanwhile sacked by a juvenile mob of rioters, and the sideboards of Wooloomooloo are swept by burglars. There are no “Corinthians” here; and, however far I may agree with “Bell's Life” that discouragement of the fistic art may introduce that un-English arbitrator of dispute—the knife, still I must consider it fortunate that pugilism in New South Wales has no aristocratic supporters. Amongst the “Pets” and “Chickens” of the modern English ring there are not to be found


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many individuals of high moral, worth although some of them have attained eminence as public characters; nor of excruciatingly polished manners—although they can “polish off” a customer in “a brace of shakes”— to use their own language.

It is needless to hint that your Botany Bay “Slasher,” or your Hobart Town “White Headed Bob”—considering the probable causes of their excursion to these colonies—are hardly likely to add lustre to the profession of the noble art; and the authorities seem fully to appreciate this fact. One reason, perhaps, for the little popularity of pugilism, even among the lowest orders of this purely English colony, may be that fistic encounters are here often fatal—so often as to lead to the supposition that the climate may have something to do with it.

In reference to this subject, I find a note in my diary of a talk I had one day with a blacksmith on the Paramatta-road, in whose forge I had taken shelter from a shower. On my remarking that the name and sign had been lately removed from a large roadside tavern opposite his shop, he told me that the licence had been taken from the landlord on account of a man having been killed in a boxing match on the premises. The worthy son of Vulcan favoured me with a really sensible lecture on the effects of climate and intemperance. “Drink is the ruin, body and soul, of the people of this country,” said he. “With a pint of East Indy rum inside, and a burning sun like this outside, any little accident will finish a man. A clip on the head that at home would not do a chap a morsel of harm, would settle him here


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outright. You might as well blow out his brains at once as give him a heavy back-handed fall.”

This “harmonious blacksmith” was in excellent health himself, which he attributed to sobriety and good temper. The thermometer must have ranged at about 90° in the shade, and he was thundering away at his anvil with a twenty-pound hammer and within a yard or two of a tremendous furnace. He would not be pitied, however, insisting upon it that the forge heat kept out the heat of the climate. This is the right stuff to make a prosperous emigrant of. Strength of arm, cheerfulness of spirit, sobriety and good sense, must command success in this country—or any other where the trades are not overstocked. The converse ensures rapid ruin.

In the absence of game near Sydney, inveterate shooters engage sometimes in pigeon matches, but these birds being expensive here, and the real blue-rock seldom attainable, the purveyors for the trap occasionally substitute parrots, which at some seasons are easily caught in sufficient numbers. The English bird-fancier's feelings will be shocked when I tell him or her that I have seen fifty couple of these beautiful denizens of the bush—blue, red, green, and yellow—butchered at one shooting match. In all kinds of sport—quoad destruction of animal life—it is hard to say where cruelty begins and ends.

He must be a quick shot who can kill ten out of twelve parrots at twenty-one yards from the trap.

I have said elsewhere that fishing excursions down the harbour often take place. Those who engage in the


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sport often return with a good basket of schnappers and flatheads—perhaps a rock-cod or two; and with every bit of skin burnt off their noses and chins. Moreover, if they fish in their shirts for coolness sake, they are not unlikely to have their shoulders and arms blistered by the sun. Shark-hunting was the only kind of fishing in New South Wales that I thought worthy the trouble. I propose to give a specimen of a day's sport in this line.

If there is one luxury greater than another in a hot climate, one exercise more healthy than another, it is bathing. Until late in the year 1849 it might be enjoyed to perfection at Sydney. There is a bathing cottage at Government-house, there is a large hulk moored and fitted as a public bathing-house in Wooloomooloo Bay, and every villa near the harbour possesses a like convenience. A shady bank of the Domain called the Fig-tree is the favourite bathing-place of the populace. Although large sharks had more than once been caught far up the harbour, no accident was ever heard of, and bathers swam about the coves without fear and with impunity. It was in November of that year, I think, that a dead whale was floated by some accident within Port Jackson, and was picked up and “tried out” by some speculating fishermen. A troop of sharks must have followed the dead fish, and, having disposed of his carcase, remained foraging near the shores round Sydney. One day a large Newfoundland dog, swimming for the amusement of his master near the Battery, was seized by a shark, and only regained the shore to die. The newspapers warned bathers; but no caution


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was observed until, early in December, a poor man swimming near the Fig-tree was attacked by a huge shark so near the bathing-place that another person repeatedly struck the fish with a boat-hook, thereby forcing it to release its victim. The unfortunate man was so dreadfully torn that he bled to death a few minutes afterwards. Not many days later I saw a foolhardy fellow swimming about in the very same place with a straw hat on his head and a cigar in his mouth!

Soon after the destruction of the man in the Wooloomooloo Bay some fishermen reported that, a part of the dead whale having been carried by the tide into Botany Bay, a detachment of sharks had followed it there. An expedition against these tigers of the deep was organized while the desire of vengeance was still vivid, and I accepted an invitation to join it. We were four amateurs, with an old experienced fisherman, and a stout youth his son. We met at the “Sir Joseph Banks Hotel,” on the shore of the Bay, and proceeded at high tide to a spot usually frequented by sharks, and by other fish of different kinds, in a good staunch little boat furnished with sail and oars. There was plenty of tackle both for larger and smaller game; shark hooks, as big and strong as those on which butchers hang up a sheep or calf for flaying, with stout chain lines to resist their teeth, and a graduated scale of others suited to the capacity of jaw of schnapper, flathead, bream, &c., and adapted to their habits, whether of grovelling at the bottom like the latter fish, or hunting in mid-water for his food like the former.




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We had an excellent day's sport, although my companions, who had made several similar excursions, were disappointed in our want of success in securing the largest sized sharks. This was the fault of the tackle, not of our luck. Besides the implements for securing our finny foes, there lay across the thwarts a small magazine of weapons for dispatching them when hooked —iron lances, with handles of stout ash, and long and strong iron gaffs or landing hooks.

Anchoring the boats in about thirty feet water, the first operation was the baiting of the spot—locally termed “burley-ing”—with burnt fish, and with the eggs of sharks when any have been caught. Lines were then thrown in as far as possible from the boat, the hooks for sharks being baited at first with pieces of star-fish, and afterwards, when some of these had been caught, with huge junks of shark's flesh. The latter seemed peculiarly tempting to the sharks themselves. The huge pot-hook to which it was attached, together with a yard or two of dog-chain, were swallowed as an accompaniment too trifling to mention—much less to damp appetite. When one of the sportsmen feels a tug at his line, and judges by its energy that he has a shark for his customer, all other lines are, if possible, hauled aboard, in order that there may be no confusion and ravelling. If the fish be strong, heavy, and active, no little care is requisite to save your tackle from breakage and your quarry from escape. He who has hooked the fish holds on—like grim Death on his victim—and if you watch his face you will see powerful indications of excitement, mental and muscular. His teeth are set,


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his colour is heightened, the perspiration starts on his brow, something like an oath perhaps slips through his lips as the cord strained to the utmost cuts into the skin of his empurpled fingers. He invokes aid, and with his feet jammed against stretcher, thwart, or gunwale, gradually shortens his hold. Meanwhile the others, seizing lance and gaff-hook, “stand by” to assist the overtasked line, as the monster, darting hither and thither in silvery lightnings beneath the translucent wave, is drawn nearer and nearer to the surface.

“My eyes, he's a whopper!” cries the excited young boatman.

“He's off!” shouts another, as the shark makes a desperate plunge under the boat, and the line, dragged through the hands of the holder, is again suddenly slackened.

“He's all right, never fear—belay your line a bit, Sir, and look here,” remarks the old fisherman.

And sure enough there was the huge fish clearly visible, about ten feet under the keel of the boat, and from stem to stern about the same length as herself.

“Now, Sir, let's have him up.” And the instant the line was taut, the shark shot upwards—his broad snout showing above the surface close to the boat.

Then comes a scene of activity and animation indeed. The fish executing a series of summersets and spinnings, gets the line into a hundred twists and “snarls,” and if once he succeed in bringing it across his jaws above the chain links—adieu to both fish and tackle. But, in the midst of a shower bath splashed up by the broad tail of


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the shark, both lance and gaff are hard at work. He is speared through and through — his giant struggles throwing waves of bloody water over the gunwales of the little boat. The gaffs are hooked through his tough skin or within his jaws—for he has no gills to lay hold on. A shower of blows from axe, stretcher, or tiller fall on his devoted head, and, if not considered too large, heavy, or dangerous, he is lugged manfully into the centre of the boat, and threshing right and left with his tail to the last, is soon dispatched. A smart blow a few inches above the snout is more instantly fatal than the deepest stab.

The “school-shark” is dealt with as above. But if the “grey nurse,” or old solitary shark be hooked, the cable is cut or the grapnel hauled on board, and he is allowed to tow the boat as he darts away with the line. The tables, however, are soon turned upon him; and after being played, as this cruel operation in fishing is blandly styled, for awhile until some portion of his vast strength is exhausted, the line is drawn over a roller in the stern of the boat, the oars are set to work, and, towed instead of towing, the shark is drawn into some shallow cove near the shore, where his bodily powers avail him less than in deep water; and after a fierce resistance and some little risk to his assailants, he falls a victim to their attacks.

Man has an innate horror of a shark, as he has of a snake; and he, who has frequented tropical climates, felt the absolute necessity of bathing, had his diurnal plunge embittered by the haunting idea of the vicinity of one of these sea pests, and occasionally been harrowed


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by accidents arising from their voracity—feels this antipathy with double force.

There is, therefore, a species of delightful fury, a savage excitement experienced by the shark-hunter, that has no affinity with the philosophy of Old Isaac's gentle art. He revels in the animated indulgence of that cruelty which is inherent in the “child of wrath;” and the stings of conscience are blunted by the conviction that it is an act of justice, of retribution, of duty, he is engaged in, not one of wanton barbarity.

These were precisely my own sensations, when, drenched to the skin with showers of salt-water, scorched to blisters by the burning sun, excoriated as to my hands, covered with blood, and oil, and dirt, and breathless with exertion, I contemplated the corpse of my first shark. Tiger hunting is a more princely pastime. Boar hunting in Bengal Proper is the finest sport in the world. Fox hunting is an Englishman's birthright. The chase of the moose is excellent for young men strong enough to drag a pair of snow shoes five feet long upon their toes; and Mr. Gordon Cumming tells you how man may follow the bent of his organ of destructiveness on the gigantic beasts of South Africa.

Shark fishing is merely the best sport to be had in New South Wales; and affords a wholesome stimulation to the torpid action of life in Sydney. The humane or utilitarian reader will be glad to hear that the shark is not utterly useless after death. The professional fishermen extract a considerable quantity of excellent oil from the liver; and the fins, cut off, cured and packed, become an article of trade with China—whose people, for


  ― 392 ―
reasons best known to themselves, delight in gelatinous food.

The most hideous to behold of the shark tribe is the wobegong, or woe-begone, as the fishermen call it. Tiger shark is another of the names of this fish. His broad back is spotted over with leopard-like marks; the belly is of a yellowish white. But to describe minutely so frightful a monster would be a difficult and ungracious task. Fancy a bloated toad, elongated to the extent of six or seven feet, and weighing some twenty stone; then cut off his legs, and you have a flattering likeness of the wobegong—two of which we killed this day. A heavy sluggish fish, he lies in wait for his prey at the edge of some reef of rocks or bank of sea-weed; swallows the bait indolently; appears but little sensible to the titillation of the barbed hook in his jaws; and is lugged, hand over hand, to the slaughter without much trouble or resistance. Neither lance nor gaff will penetrate his tough hide, but a blow on the head with an axe proves instantly fatal.

The schnapper affords a long and strong pull at the line; and is considered by the colonists as one of their best table fish. We killed one to-day weighing 21 lbs. The flathead is half buried in the sand at the bottom, but bites freely; and is, in my mind, a much better fish than the former. Our fishing-basket of this day comprised nine sharks, four schnappers, and about forty flatheads.

Just opposite La Perouse's monument we saw a Black spearing the rock-cod and groper, which fish feed on the shell-fish torn from the rocks in stormy weather. The


  ― 393 ―
figure of this man poised motionless on a pedestal of rock, with his spear ready to strike, the waves dashing up to his feet, was a subject for a bronze statue. This must have been the very spot where in April, 1770, two natives, armed with spears, opposed the landing of Cook and his party, “and seemed resolved,” as he says, “to defend their coast to the uttermost, though they were but two and we were forty.” The last of the Botany Bay tribe, old “Boatswain,” who had long been permitted to establish his guneah in the gardens of the Banks Hotel, died a short time before the fishing occasion I have described.

The monument of La Perouse stands on a cleared spot near the entrance of the bay. Fifty yards from the obelisk there is an old dead tree, on which still may be faintly traced some words of an epitaph in memory of one of the unfortunate French captain's fellow-travellers, which have since been transferred to a tombstone by its side. It runs thus:—

HIC JACET LE RECEVEUR EX F. F. MINORIBUS GALLÆ SACERDOS, PHYSICUS IN CIRCUMNAVIGATIONE MUNDI, DUCE D. DE LA PEROUSE, OBIIT DIE 17 FEB. ANNO 1788.

The view from the spot is very picturesque.

On the evening of my shark hunt I had the pleasure of seeing my twenty pound schnapper at the foot of a friend's dinner table, looking something like a fine English cod-fish. But, alas! crowning disgrace of the


  ― 394 ―
colony!—wretched destitution in the earliest and worthiest of the sciences!—there is no one—in a word, there is not a cook in New South Wales,—never has been, I believe, since the great circumnavigator just mentioned. The cooks in this colony are no more cooks in the European and artistical acceptation of the term, than any one of my coats would have been a coat in the eyes of Brummel!

The word cook leads me to the subject of domestic servants in general. Of all the plagues of New South Wales, and indeed of all the Australian colonies, the household servants are the worst. There are few good and faithful—as few skilful. One reason of this is the blameworthy indifference to character and cause of discharge exhibited by the employing classes—a relic, this, of the old convict system. Another cause lies in the unsettled mind of the emigrant, and his trying half a dozen trades of which he knows nothing, before he is driven to accept service. Many old colonists do not scruple to say that they prefer convicts to free servants. “We have a greater hold upon them,” says one. “There are but two classes—the found-out and the unfound-out,” mutters a cynic. A servant, holding the most responsible place, discharged in disgrace at an hour's notice and without a character, is engaged the next day in a similar post, and you have the pleasure of seeing him installed as confidential butler behind the chair of the lady or gentleman who may be entertaining you at dinner. You recognise the soupe à la jardinière, the baked schnapper farçi, in the preparation of which and other dishes it had taken you six months to instruct your late cook—whom you had just discharged for repeated insolence and


  ― 395 ―
dishonesty. But, as I have said before, a cook—in the solemn signification of the word—is in New South Wales a fabulous animal—fabulous as the Bunyip of the blacks. The men-cooks are mostly ship-cooks, or stewards, dealers in cocky-leaky, sea-pie, plum-dough, and other bluewater barbarisms. The she-cooks are—kitchen-maids at best. Few private dinner parties are given, or can be given in Sydney, without the attendance of a professional cook, as well as a public waiter or two.

This has a singular effect in the eyes of the traveller lately arrived from England; for in the general exercise of hospitality towards him he is led to believe that each well-found establishment has an uniform butler—white waistcoat and tie, frill, toppin, knock knees, Irish brogue, and all;—never suspecting that this functionary is one and indivisible—the same honest and civil, but glassjingling and plate-rattling Mr. O'Coffee-Tay—price 7s. 6d. per evening—public and transferable property!

The Sydney domestic servants treat service like a round of visits, taking a sojourn of a week, a month, or a quarter, according to their own tastes, the social qualities of their fellow-servants, the good living of “the hall,” and the gullibility and subserviency of the employer. They greatly prefer engaging by the week. Not uncommonly they maintain a kind of running correspondence with the heads of some neighbouring families, and after coquetting for terms, pass over to the best bidder. The gentleman may think himself lucky if he have not occasionally to “groom and valet” himself and his horses; as for the lady—to chronicle small beer is her lightest task, happy if she be not compelled, at intervals,


  ― 396 ―
to try her fair hands at cooking, or spider-brushing. I have been myself the guest at a country house where the lady confessed that she had not only cooked the dinner, but had, with her own hands, carried the logs to the kitchen fire, while the good-man was busy sawing and splitting them in the yard. The cook had got sulky because she had been expected to do what the lady was thus compelled to do, and the man servant, her husband, had gone into the town to drink and fight, “because the fit was on him.”

I think I must have had twenty or even thirty servants in one year, always giving the highest wages. I shall not readily forget the amusing results of an advertisement for a butler and valet, which I was recommended to insert in the Sydney “Morning Herald.” There was no want of applicants: the first was a miserable old ruin of a man, scarcely four feet high, who indignantly repelled my well-intended hint, that I did not think him strong enough for the situation. The next was a gigantic negro. He had been “'teward,” he said, on board three or four merchant vessels, and was tired of the sea. He looked like a descendant of Mendoza the pugilist, and had probably been transported for killing a man in a twelve-foot ring. A tall, thin, grey-haired man, of polished exterior, next tendered his services. He had been a solicitor in England; had met with reverses; was at present a tutor at a school; could clean plate, because once he had had a service of his own. Then came a handsome, dark-eyed gaillard, with long black curls hanging over the collar of his round jacket, who threw rapid glances over the furniture and trinkets of the drawing-room—not forgetting the


  ― 397 ―
maidens as he passed the kitchen door—in a truly buccaneering style. He gave his name Juan da Silva, and resented any mention of references. At length we were suited. He was a highly respectable young immigrant just landed, who had served in an aristocratic family at home. “Jeames,” being steady, attentive, and perfectly acquainted with his duties, we were charmed with our acquisition, and congratulated ourselves on something like permanence of service, when lo! in less than a month he gave warning. He had made use of my house as an hotel until he could settle himself; and having at length decided in favour of the drapery line, he was in a few days duly installed behind a counter in Georgestreet.

This mode of action had probably been suggested for his observance by some crafty adviser in England, and the idea is by no means bad. A gentleman's regular household is not a bad look-out post for the newly arrived, perhaps penniless, immigrant. He gets good pay, food, and lodging; he disguises his ambitious projects under a show of zeal for his master's service; no one suspects that he has a soul above crumb and coat brushing. On a sudden the mask is thrown off, and the tape and ribbon measurer elect stands confessed. He quits his temporary asylum, smiling inwardly at your simplicity in taking him in, and being taken in yourself; and you are once more on the pavé for a servant. In the case just mentioned, our old nurse warned us that “that young fellow ain't a-going to stay;” and I wondered the less at his want of taste when she told me that she had one son in the ironmongery line getting fifty-two


  ― 398 ―
guineas a-year, and another, only twelve years old, receiving at some shop 20l. and his “diet.”

The great pleasure of shop-boys, unenjoyed by domestic servants, consists in going at half price to the theatre, and smoking cigars ad libitum. My first coachman had learnt all the arcana of his trade by driving a muffin-baker's cart. My second was an old worn-out, long backed, bandy-legged, and gouty man, but an excellent whip, who “had druv the last four-oss coach between Lunnun and Huntingdon, for Muster Newman,” and had been beat off the road by the railways. This was an immigrant at the expense of the Land Fund. He remained about a year, and then went off to California (thereby defrauding that same Fund) to dig gold, just three weeks before the gold was discovered in Australia. I may here state as a fact, that the only really steady, sober, active, and efficient coachman I had in the colony was an emancipated convict.

Another specimen of the well-selected immigrants paid for out of the territorial revenue, as an addition to the labour market, was a fine lady cook from London, last from the service of Sir——, Bart. She had plenty of money and clothes, could not work without an assistant in the kitchen, had delicate health and appetite, preferred solitary titbits in the kitchen to dining in the servants' hall with the rest of the household; was glad to quit service and to set up a shop; failed, and before she had been two months in the colony had advertised to get a passage back again to England as lady's maid, or nurse to a lady returning home. This is not the strong handed, cheerful minded, butter churning, cheese


  ― 399 ―
and child making, notable woman, fit for a free emigrant to a working colony—coming out at the colony's expense, for the colony's good!

I have seen something of the helps in the Western New World. The Southern is no better off in this essential article of housewifery, although the homes of Sydney certainly have a larger allowance of what we English associate with the name of domestic comfort, than those of the Atlantic cities.

I must not quit the subject of household servants without stating, that during the last year or so of our residence in New South Wales, we had a most excellent knot of servants, with whom we parted with real regret.

Talking of the domestic pests of the colony, I must reserve a place for the mosquitos; and ought to have placed them at the head of the list. Little need be said on the subject; the mosquito is known, I dare say, in every colony and dependency of Great Britain, from the Pillars of Hercules to the foot of the Hymalaias—from the swamps of Hudson's Bay to the boiling springs of New Zealand. In five quarters of the globe, (if such division can exist,) has this minute enemy stabbed at my personal peace. Let me drown him in my bitterest ink! Those lucky persons who are unacquainted with the mosquito, cannot appreciate the discomfort arising from so contemptible a cause. Reading and writing, riding and walking, eating and sleeping, by daylight and candlelight, indoors and out, during six months of the Australian year, you are hemmed in by an army of these insidious insects. Presume to wear shoes and silk


  ― 400 ―
stockings—a pleasant dress in sultry weather, and before dinner is over, your insteps and ankles are covered with burning wounds. A Stoic could hardly resist scratching, however undignified the act; a saint could hardly help swearing, however small the provocation!

But the fair lady is the mosquito's chief victim. Her ungloved hand, her unguarded shoulders, her velvet cheek, are the too tempting objects of the tiny epicures. The truculent proboscis stabs the lily skin, sheds the innocent blood; and, what is worse, plays the deuce with good looks. I believe I have said enough to enlist the sympathies of mankind in active warfare against this detestable insect. How curious its history! The eggs of the mosquito are laid on the surface of the water. The grub disengages itself, and passes through two innoxious stages of its life in this element. In the second stage the insect lies wrapped in a thin membrane. This soon bursts; the little water-demon draws itself out of its wrapper, stands for a few minutes on the surface, expanding its wings to dry in the sun—miniature likeness of Satan surveying the world he was about to ruin, and at length takes flight in search of adventures and to fulfil its mission—the art of tormenting carried into practice. As the weather grows colder, the sufferer has his revenge. Although the appetite of the mosquito is as voracious as in the summer of his existence, his movements are faint and languid, he becomes too weak to pierce the human skin, and is now seen recruiting his waning health by sipping at wine-glasses and tea-cups. The winter arrives, and the vampire that has lived so


  ― 401 ―
long on the life-blood of others, ceases to exist. The reprieve to suffering humanity is, however, but short; returning spring brings back with returning vegetation the mosquito in all his glory, and in countless myriads of legions. It was truly as well as forcibly remarked by an English housemaid in my family, that the mosquitos appeared to be most “biteful” just before the cold weather kills them.

Amongst the plagues incidental to this colony I must not forget to anathematise the tardiness and uncertainty of epistolary correspondence. I could enumerate a hundred instances of results, inconvenient and perplexing, ludicrous, or truly lamentable, which have arisen, and do still arise, through the irregularity of the mails from Europe. This was more frequent and more palpable, perhaps, when the Government employed certain chosen vessels as post-office packets. These very frequently made the slowest passages in the year. The only vessels compelled under fine to sail from London on a day fixed, they were generally deeply laden, and easily beaten by lighter ships. The bulk of letters and newspapers came by the packets, but a considerable quantity came also by other vessels. When a vessel of later date arrived before that which sailed from England a fortnight or a month earlier, the consequences can be imagined.

For instance—to begin with political events. In the first days of October, I think, in 1848, the Charlotte Jane, emigrant ship, arrives at Sydney, bringing the news of a revolution in Paris having been accomplished;


  ― 402 ―
a provisional Government formed; the Tuileries and Palais Royal sacked; the throne burnt; and the King of the French a refugee in England!

Unprepared by any revelation of previous events, the intelligence falls like a thunder-bolt on the quid-nuncs of Australia—upon those especially whose gains depend on the peace of Europe—and more than any one upon the French Consul at Sydney, who not only held his commission (worth some 1,200l. a-year) under the exking's hand, but had probably all his fortunes in the French funds!

Not until the 19th of the same month slopes in, at the rate of two knots an hour, the Post-office packet, Achilles, (not the swift-footed!) 133 days from the Downs, with all the public despatches, gazettes, &c., informing us that things were beginning to look somewhat democratical and republican in La belle France; that the Reform Banquet was to come off at Paris on Tuesday next; that the King intended to prohibit it, &c. There is something truly absurd in reading the sage prophecies of an old newspaper or letter which have been utterly falsified by the actual result of affairs received by a faster channel a month before!

I give a case in private life. Mrs. A——, of Sydney, receives intelligence from England that her younger sister has evident prospects of becoming a mother. And it is not until several days later that a letter of much earlier date announces the not irrelevant preliminary of that beloved relative's marriage. I record an instance closely affecting myself. I received three


  ― 403 ―
letters from Miss ——, dated in London just eleven weeks after she had become my wife in Sydney.

Steam communication has long been talked of, and it is to be hoped that Her Majesty's Australasian dominions will not long suffer the disadvantage and disgrace of being the only portion of her realm beyond the reach of this great agent.

The Singapore route, which would seem to be the most favourable, will reduce the passage from London to Sydney to 62 days or thereabouts. In 1847 the nett revenue on letters conveyed between the London and Sydney Post-office was, as I am informed, 54,000l., and the colony has voted 6,000l. a-year for three years in aid of the project. The cost of establishing steam mail packets between Sydney and Singapore will not exceed those sums. But the completion of the Egypt, India, and Singapore line will only be an instalment of the steam due to the great southern colonies; for it can be available only for the carriage of mails and of the few passengers who can afford the luxury of the trip—spending in a couple of months what would support them for six.

There must, and will be, ere long, steam communication for emigration and colonization purposes between England and Australasia, direct. Time and space must be, if not annihilated, so far modified as to diminish the difference of distance from England to America and to Australia respectively; for who can doubt that it is the tedious length and expense of passage that prevents the emigrant from pitching his


  ― 404 ―
tent in a colony of his countrymen, rather than among a nation where he will lose his individuality as a Briton?

For the conveyance of emigrants of all classes and their effects, and for the transport of merchandise, the Cape line will probably be adopted. It must not be forgotten that our right of pathway through Egypt is but permissive; and that notices warning off trespassers on those valuable sand deserts may be posted up at any moment by the Moslem lord of the manor.

Up to the day of my departure from New South Wales, nothing definitive had been done, in the way of improved postal communication, to lighten the darkness of the colony. Whilst my brother at his London club formed one of the usual circle of quid-nuncs, ready to pounce upon and appropriate an evening paper before the waiter had time to dry the copy and place it on the table, and felt aggrieved and ill-used if the 4 o'clock issue was withheld from him for ten minutes—myself was compelled, on the 15th of July 1851, to be happy in the enjoyment of the “Times” or “Chronicle” of the ides of March. For three years the colonists have been sickening with hope deferred on this point, of such vital importance to their interests and happiness. Amongst the authorities at Home there has been a great deal of vapouring about it indeed, but no steam!

It is a pleasant feature of the Australian social status, that there are no beggars: indeed it is only in the older countries that mendicancy is not only a necessity but a trade. Sydney owes this happy exemption not a little to


  ― 405 ―
her own charitable Institutions, supported equally by Government and voluntary contributions of the public. But the cheapness of the common necessaries of life is no doubt the chief cause. I am speaking of street begging alone—beggary which is done to perfection in France and Ireland only, and in which England is not very far behind —beggary which haunts the traveller, and the lounger, the man of business and the man of pleasure; famine, nakedness, disease and deformity dogging your steps, running by your side, and often extorting alms by exciting feelings rather of impatience and disgust than of humanity and sympathy.

No one but he who has returned to London or Dublin after a long residence in a thriving colony can appreciate the torment of mendicant solicitation, with a concomitant desire to give, poverty of means, and fear of imposture; nor can know the luxury of exemption therefrom.

Not that the givers of alms are saved money by this freedom from street beggary, however much their feelings may be spared; for every now and then comes an appeal that cannot well be resisted, and of a somewhat more expensive cast than the mere dole of coppers or sixpences. A decayed professional gentleman, with a folio full of testimonials to character; one who not many years ago spent his thousands a-year, and “had the honour of entertaining at my table many gentlemen of your cloth;” waits on you with his memorial. Another, having retired from a civil branch of the Military Service, on the faith that starvation was impossible


  ― 406 ―
in a land of plenty, relates his melancholy tale, ending with the assurance that he passed the last two or three nights in the Domain under a tree, because he could not afford a lodging. He begs a loan of 5l., and refuses indignantly the prudent offer of a free gift of smaller amount. Some lady of fashion in England coolly asks the minister or other patron of Emigration for a free passage to Australia, (which she understands is one of the West Indian Islands,) as well as for a recommendation to the Governor, in favour of “an excellent creature, an old governess of mine.” Her style of singing is out of date at home; her voice is cracked, her French somewhat German, her health and nerves rickety. She arrives with two or three letters of introduction, five pounds in her pocket, and as many smart evening dresses—fully expecting that before that handsome sum is spent a situation of 2 or 300l. a-year will drop from the Australian skies into her lap. In a month or two the charitable public hears of her having been “sold up” by her landlady for board and lodging; some worthy clergyman puts his name and mite to her “Humbly sheweth;” and society supports her until she finds some employment very much less lucrative than her ill-founded hopes led her to aspire to. She had better have asked in London how many families in Australia can afford to give 50l. a-year to a governess.

Such is by no means a rare specimen of the persons unfairly thrown upon the charity of a poor community. In 1848 a young lad of good family, aged eighteen, with a mere schoolboy education—to which his father,


  ― 407 ―
having sundry other children, could not afford to give a college finish, was deliberately sent out here with only 30l. wherewith to begin life—because this same wise parent had heard that everybody could “get on” in New South Wales! He presented a letter of introduction and his card with smiling confidence to a friend of mine occupying a high post in the colony; and was dumb-struck when he found that he had an excellent chance of starving.

I remember some years ago purchasing for 6d. at a book-stall in Covent Garden Piazza, a little work entituled “How to live well on 100l. a-year, and how to live like a gentleman on 150l. a-year.” Some of the aimless emigrants I have met with here had better have stayed at home, and lived according to the statutes of that sixpenny code. Sydney was relieved of a good many “Bezonians” of a more impudent and pretentious order, at the first outbreak of the Californian mania in this colony. The hotel-keepers, tailors, and other tradesmen honoured with the custom of such persons, were the compulsory furnishers of alms on these occasions, for it is needless to say that their exodus from Port Jackson was not accompanied on their part by a “flourish of trumpets,” however loud might have been the “alarums,” when their absence was, too late, discovered. Whether they dug gold or their graves in California it little signified to the “sufferers;” for although the adventurers might be heard of, they were never seen again at Sydney.

At intervals the Sydney cits are dazzled by the bright but evanescent career of some “swell” from Europe.


  ― 408 ―
He contrives one or two introductions, gets admission, as an Hon. Member, into the Australian Club; talks largely and knowingly of his English stud—the whole of it glittering probably in mosaic gold on his corazza front; dines once at Government-house, and disappears, leaving a scarlet hunting coat and leathers, with a few minor articles of attire, to defray his just debts. It is only after the total evaporation of such a visitant that sagacious persons begin to find out no one knew much about him; that his advent to New South Wales had never been well accounted for;—and, indeed, such a visit to such a country does require some explanation.

I remember that some time in 1849 I missed from his “pride of place,” on the driving-box of a well turned out and beautifully driven tandem, a dashing looking personage, who from the tip of moustache to that of patent leather boot was the very perfection of point de vice. I may say I was sorry to miss him; for somehow or other, from my boyhood upwards—in common with many another of my species—the spectacle of a tandem artistically and boldly driven always caused a certain undefined degree of pleasurable excitement. Through the medium of the Sydney papers, not many months later, we received the intelligence that our showy friend had accepted the appointment of waiter at an hotel in San Francisco. This at first sight would appear a downhill stage in the journey of life; but as his employers in the gold-country doubtless came down with the “dust” pretty freely for his services, he is probably much better paid now than either he or his creditors ever were before. I could


  ― 409 ―
enumerate sundry other special instances of rapid wane, but in mercy to my patient reader I forbear. I may mention, however, that some of the human meteors that shot from Australia to California about this time were heard of as helping, for hire, to unload merchant vessels at the mouth of the Sacramento.

The re-migration from New South Wales to California has—all things considered—been less extensive than might have been expected. Some alarm was created at first by the rush of an adventurous few; and towards the end of 1849 the legislative council proposed measures to prevent the re-emigration to that state or elsewhere of persons who had arrived in the colony as free or assisted immigrants at the expense of the Land Fund. But the first return ships brought such discouraging accounts, as fortunately deterred all those who had wisely resolved to keep their gold-hunting intentions in reserve until the personal experience of the advance guard had given them the cue.

Prices like the following were calculated to make many hesitate before leaving a country with the best meat at 2d. a pound—bread at the same price, and tea at 1s. Wholesale prices at San Francisco in 1849:—Tea, six dollars a pound, bread, 2s., butter 6s., fresh beef, 1s. 3d., water, (the colour of milk,) 6d. a bucket; milk, (colour of water,) 6s. a pint—Ague fever and Lynchlaw, gratis! A heavy tax was subsequently levied in the American State upon all foreign gold - diggers. Persons from Australia were received there with suspicion, and were the last in the labour-market to


  ― 410 ―
obtain employment. The “Sydney Rangers” were a proscribed race in the Californian wooden cities. Such is the disadvantage of a bad name, that some of them met the dog's fate, and were hanged out of hand, without deserving it a jot more than the “free and enlightened” citizens who acted as their judge, jury and executioners in the one summary process of the law of the backwoods.

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