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CHAPTER V. THE ABODE OF A SETTLER.




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“CAN you tell us anything of the life the Australian settlers lead?” we think we hear a hundred young men ask. “Would a settler do?” sighs a lone fair one, who remembers well the parting look of a lover, whom she now learns is a settler or squatter in the wild plains of Australia. We must give a short description of the order, in answer to such queries. Do not be alarmed; we are not inclined to write hyperbolically of the genus, to deceive the world by paradoxes at violence with truth—to paint our grazing friends as unblemished—to abuse them without foundation. We have but one wish,—to edify all with the picture of a new order of beings, whose peculiarities were unknown to the world until our own humble efforts brought them forward.

We are aware that a few have complained loudly of the author's sketch of the settlersnote in “Tait's Magazine.” The character boldly drawn in it as the “outlandish settler” is less frequently to be met with than formerly. It is, nevertheless, formed on the solid basis of truth; at the present time it is the exception, and the settlers of the old school are nearly extinct.

The term “settler” is peculiar to the Colonies.


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We have heard it used in the African Colonies, and understand it is used in British America. In the United States, “squatter” is the term most frequently used; it is also frequently used in Australia, especially in the Middle or Sydney District.

In every one of the Australian Colonies, the settlers constitute the most opulent and the most respectable class. In New South Wales, the industry of the squatting (grazing) interest has forced the Colony to advance, notwithstanding the neglect which is chargeable to the ignorance and obstinacy of our rulers—the contemptible shuffling and robbing system of many of the merchants—the mismanagement of the Colonial Banking establishments—the Utopian systems of Wakefield, and others of the same stamp, who propagate opinions repugnant to common sense and experience. Great must the resources of a poor country be which could make head-way against such seas of trouble. The Colonists, it is true, complain; yet their grievances are unredressed—the evil system is continued, their prayers are slighted, their remonstrances treated with contempt; Government is positive that its policy is correct, and we blame it as erring more from ignorance than design. Let it then take advice from such as are competent to give it. The extent of the squatting interest may be conceived by the following table of the stock in the Colony of New South Wales.

    
Horses 56,585 
Horned Cattle 897,219 
Pigs 46,086 
Sheep 4,804,946 




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This stock is all depasturing on Crown lands; the stock upon purchased land is not included. The owners of it are “the settlers;” the owners of it are under the surveillance of Crown Land Commissioners; each is obliged to pay £10 for a licence to depasture stock, and an assignment is levied upon their stock of so much per head; but after July 1845, the owners of stock will be under the necessity of paying in accordance with the new depasturing licences' regulations, which issued from the Colonial Secretary's office on the 2nd of April, 1844, and which directs that after that date, a separate licence must be taken out, and a fee of £10 paid for each station or run; that every station at a greater distance than seven miles from any other occupied by the same party shall be deemed a separate station, even although the area occupied may not exceed twenty square miles; that no one licence shall cover a station capable of depasturing more than 4000 sheep, or 500 head of cattle, or a mixed herd of sheep or cattle equal to either 4000 sheep or 500 cattle. The large stockholders would not sit tamely by and allow the Government to tax them; the instant the Government Gazette containing these regulations appeared, the most violent expressions of dissatisfaction were used against His Excellency. Public meetings were held in every part of the country. A society was formed under the name of the Pastoral Association, including amongst its members the whole of the extensive stockowners. The Committee framed a petition to the Houses of Parliament,


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which was signed by the majority of the stockholders.

This document reflects great credit upon them as a class; it is worded with caution, and respect for Government, while it sets forth in temperate language the evils with which they are encompassed, their remonstrances against increased taxation, and the grievances they wish redressed.

We have been witnesses of the sad effects which have attended upon the present licence system, and the established high minimum price of Crown lands, and we are glad to witness the influence of the great grazing-land classes embattled against them.

If the author of the Australian Sketches said anything in “The Settler” which would offend one of that respectable order, he is sorry, very sorry, knowing that their indomitable perseverance has overcome many difficulties, and that their eccentricities are the effects of the precarious tenure by which they hold their leases. Fixity of tenure and a moderate rent are all that the roamers of the Australian plains sue for. The absence of the farmer has created more human misery than, perhaps, any other grievance connected with the Colonies. We find young men who have been reared in affluence, and educated in universities, and who grew to manhood in the society of the great and wealthy,—in Australia ruined, beggars, and prostrated in both physical and moral dissipation, their minds contaminated by ghastly, loathsome vice. We often find them revelling in low haunts of profligacy, associating with the abandoned


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of both sexes; and why is it that such is the fact? It is because they have no home—no heart—no society. Their independence is fled— their spirit broken—their worldly prospects blasted. They are sensible of their condition. Obliged to cringe to and fawn upon contemptible Government officials, or lose their home and their all, is it any wonder that they are often unable to bear up against circumstances so infelicitous? Had these men their stations at an equitable rent, with permament leases; were they at liberty to bring home partners, without the risk of being turned upon the world without a farthing but their stock, at any time; how different a picture might we have to draw, of virtuous parents, brave sons, and chaste daughters!

Australia is a fine country; it has great natural advantages of climate and soil; it possesses food for stock to an almost unlimited extent. Why, then, shall man do his best to render these advantages of “none effect?”

There is one thing, however, certain: the excitement which these new regulations have created— the strong and determined spirit of opposition which they have aroused, must be productive of a vast amount of good or evil. Either the petition of the pastoral Colonists will open the eyes of the Government, and force it to ameliorate the condition of the petitioners, or a crisis will be hastened on which we fear to contemplate. If the petition be treated with contempt or indifference, and the grievances be unredressed,


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the Colony may be placed in inextricable confusion.

Government has had fair warning; let no person connected with it be blind to the probable consequences. The crisis now over has brought many to total ruin; not a few have, as already described, sunk into habits of intemperance. Yet they look with hatred at the Government which has spread ruin over the length and breadth of the land. Should the well-affected settlers chime in with these malcontents, what chance could any Government have against their united power?

It appears very unfair that in a free country every office of honour or emolument should be bestowed by the Government officers. We find that even this circumstance breaks the spirit of many persons of good families. The Governors of the different Colonies have the sole power to nominate the magistrates and members of Council; and every one of the public situations is in the gift of the Colonial or the Home Government. The Governor for the time may appoint men to be magistrates who have no claim to expect such an honour at his hands, and he may deeply wound the feelings of others who have every reason to expect such a mark of approbation. From the very constitution of Colonial society, also, such an omission is likely to wound more fatally than in England; its elements are ever unsettled. Some men ascend the ladder of fortune with gigantic strides; others are precipitated from it, and disappear altogether, or appear in a far different guise. The Colonists are much deceived by empty sounds, and a


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J. P. is in their eyes an aristocratic distinction. Here they are to blame: they are too prone to worship rank and wealth; they are not cognisant of Burns's sentiments: “The king can mak' a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's aboon his might —”

We see no reason why the Government appointments should not, in nearly every instance, be bestowed upon Colonists. Were this the case, emulation would incite to mental exertion, and there would be always a superior class. If the present system remain unaltered, there is too good reason to dread that our future Colonial society will degenerate into mere automaton farmers and sheep-owners.

To return from this political disquisition to the Australian settler. We have already stated the extent of the stock which is vested in this class in New South Wales alone; it is scattered over the face of the country, both within and without the various counties which are denominated the bounds of location. It may be interesting to state the districts without the boundaries: —they are Bligh, Clarence River, Darling Downs, Lachlan, Liverpool Plains, Mc Leay River, Maneroo, Moreton Bay, Murrumbadgee, New England, Wellington, in the Middle District. In the Port Phillip District, there are the Western Port and Portland Bay Districts. These districts, with the twenty-four counties, contain the stock, which is much larger than that depasturing upon purchased land. Besides the licence, they pay an assessment of 1/2d. a head for sheep, 11/2d. for cattle, and 3d. for horses.


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The money is expended in maintaining the expenses of a Border Police. All fines go towards the same purpose.

The expense of the Border Police, commencing with 1839 and ending with 1843, for five years, is stated at £71,010 15s. 8d. Theproceeds of the assessment and fines for the same period were £69,607 6s. 6d.

A few of the settlers are married. The majority of them are young men, who live mostly upon their stations; the reckless class, who were nearly always in the towns, have, with few exceptions, gone through the Insolvent Court within the last two years. A few have been able to retain their stock, and manage upon their station for their creditors; but it has been a total wreck with the majority.

It is really a pity to see so many fine young men who are lost, we fear, for life. Those who recover steady habits, may get a start again; but we hardly think that many who have had their names blazoned in the Insolvent Court will do much good in the same sphere of action. It is like American repudiation; those who once find so ready a way to pay their debts may never take the trouble to be honest. But we are glad to say, that many have nobly withstood the shock, and if the Government give them a chancel they will very soon be independent.

Experience has been bought at a dear rate; but there is nothing like experience, after all. Those who have maintained both their good name and a moderate share of their property may be regarded,


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taking every consideration of their position into view, as fortunate individuals.

A very large proportion of the settlers, or squatters, within the boundaries of location, are married. Some have large families; they ought, therefore, to be protected and fostered by Government.

There is a pretty extensive assortment of sons of the soil amongst this class. They have never been out of their native country; and their ideas of townlife are acquired from an occasional visit to an Australian town, and it may be looked upon as a remarkable fact that very few of them express any anxiety to see Europe. A few wish to go out whaling, and this appears to them the most daring achievement they can accomplish.

Yet there are several exceptions. Mr. Wentworth, Member for Sydney, a native of Norfolk Island, was educated in England. This gentleman possesses considerable proficiency in classical literature, and has occasionally made a very good figure as a debater. Several other gentlemen who claim Australia for their native country were returned for the first popular Assembly. We know several Australians now, hardly more remarkable for ability than for sound sense and moral courage. Many of them, however, are peculiarly ignorant of life. They know about cattle and land, and they cultivate the latter with care, but allow their minds to run to seed.

We must, however, return to our friend Dr. Arabin, whom we left about to introduce himself into the dwelling-house of the “settler.”




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About twenty yards from the hut where Arabin had passed the night, was a large, and, for the Bush, respectable-looking cottage. Entering at the back, he passed through a narrow passage, and entered the front parlour. He perceived that he was in the dwelling of a settler of respectability.

The walls of the room were plastered; the floor was covered with matting: the furniture was of mahogany; a formidable array of weapons were arranged about, which showed that the Australian settler is occasionally visited by Bushrangers. The taste of well-cultivated feminine hands was also to be observed in the elegant ornamental trifles which adorned the mantelpiece. The piano and music-stool formed a singular contrast to the fire-arms which were ranged alongside.

He had just made these observations, when a tall gentleman, dressed in a shooting-jacket and girded by a large belt, arose and gave him a kind welcome.

“I am sorry,” he said, “that I had not the pleasure of knowing of your arrival last night; but the fact is, we were once terrified by Bushrangers, and my poor wife has hardly yet recovered from the effects of the frightful visitation we had about three months ago from these horrid Bushrangers, and I suppose Bob was afraid to alarm the house.”

As he finished, a tall elegant-looking woman, attired in a light morning dress, entered from the side apartment, which communicated with the parlour by a door.




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This lady appeared to be confused at the sudden appearance of a stranger. The settler again rose, and said,

“My dear, this is a gentleman who has lost his way, and who has taken refuge at our station. Give him a kind welcome.”

Like most reserved men, Dr. Arabin had a correct knowledge of human nature and human feeling. He looked on the countenance of the settler's wife, and observing a warm glow of satisfaction to diffuse itself across her face— where female purity was pourtrayed —he was satisfied that he had not come into contact with a niggard, but with a kind warm-hearted woman. It is the keenest pleasure to one disgusted with the selfishness and apathy of “the world.”

“You must be very hungry,” exclaimed the settler. “You know we have not very many comforts in the Bush; but you are welcome, and a warm welcome must excuse everything.”

“My kind sir,” replied Dr. Arabin, “few care so little for sumptuous fare as myself. I would not exchange a crust of bread with kind faces and a hearty welcome, for a luxurious feast accompanied by the freezing etiquette of fashionable life.”

“You and the women will suit each other,” replied the settler, smoking. “Come, Marie, prepare the breakfast; and call up your sister—or, stay, I will call her myself.”

He opened the door, and walked into the passage; here he knocked at a door, saying in a loud tone, “Come out, Martha; you will be too late for breakfast.”




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A low voice replied, “It is very cold. Did you hear any Bushrangers last night, Master B.?”

“Yes,” replied the settler; “the men caught one. Come out, and you shall have a sight of him.”

The fair inmate laughed; but the settler protested he spoke the truth. In a few minutes a young lady emerged from the back apartment, and entered the parlour. The settler laid hold of her arm, and drawing her towards the stranger, exclaimed, “We have caught a Bushranger.”

We must admit that Dr. Arabin was not the most elegant figure in the range of a young lady's imagination, for his coat was torn and his face was scratched. He cared not for personal attractions—or, at any rate, he supposed that he did not. He was not a little astonished when he beheld the young lady scrutinise his countenance in some such fashion as a London dame would examine an Iroquois hunter or an ourang-outang. He was degraded in his own estimation —he felt a blush of shame tinge his cheek at being mistaken for a Bushranger; he vowed that he would not go rambling in the forest even professionally in future, but keep in his humble home.

The young lady observed the blush, and appreciated its meaning; for there exists a freemasonry among the young which is altogether overlooked by the old and worldly. She replied to the jest of the settler, in an angry tone,

“How can you be so cruel with your joking?”

“Well, well, it was but a trick, Martha. I only wished to have breakfast, as I am very hungry. You must really forgive me.”




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And the young lady laughed and forgave him; and, will it be believed? Dr. Arabin was gratified. What a singular anomaly is the mind of even persons of the first intellect! Dr. Arabin was many degrees advanced in his own estimation at being recognised as a gentleman in soiled clothes; and yet had any person said that he cared two straws about his personal appearance, he would not have believed them,—that is, unless he had instituted a rigid search into his own feelings; and even then, it is a question if he would have detected the joy he experienced. The most intellectual are not above the feelings common to humanity, and they too often share the vicious propensities of other men. The late William Hazlitt (if we mistake not) justly remarks, that “the mind soars to the lofty, and is at home in the low, the grovelling, and the mean.”

And we must say that Martha Waller was a young lady whose good opinion most men would wish to possess. In appearance she seemed tall and rather slender; her white dress was relieved by her rich dark hair, “clasping a neck” which rivalled the snow for purity and whiteness. These luxuriant tresses indeed added a dignity to her appearance, which might else have been considered too delicate. Young, frank, and without art, her presence appeared to cast a gladness around, like the flowers in full bloom, which change even sterility into beauty. We must not proceed: Dr. Arabin had seen the jewelled nobility—the proud and fashionable dames of England—the more polished and gay female society of the Continent; but, he avowed, a more complete model of beauty bordering upon the


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ideal, he had never beheld. It seemed to him that a sincere lover of beauty might bend to her as akin to perfection; and yet he had loved before, but never told or breathed it.

The breakfast-table now withdrew his attention, and invited him to recruit his strength; he had not even tasted food for twenty-four hours. The shade which had darkened the fair countenance of the youngest female had disappeared; the whole party assembled at the breakfast-table were agreeable. Arabin was astonished to find himself placed in so pleasant a party, and rallied his spirits. He could not but reflect upon the strange admixture of good and bad which human nature is, and that selfishness might possibly lurk beneath all the frankness which distinguished the settler's family. “How very few are above it!” muttered he.

The breakfast passed over, in course of conversation the settler inquired how long he had been in the country ?

“I have not been in it two years,” replied he: “it is a short period, and yet I can almost fancy it a lifetime —a dull, uninteresting lifetime.”

“Then you do not like the country, I suppose?”

“I might say I do, and I do not,” replied Dr. Arabin. “It is a lovely, romantic country; but the Colonists are too much of a sheep-farming, matter-of-fact, pounds-shillings-and-pence class, for my taste. I have never remained very long in any place, and am almost inclined to be a second Robinson Crusoe, and wander up and down the world for the remaining portion of my life.”

“I cannot agree with you,” replied the settler; “it


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is very fine to move about, but very miserable, I am positive. Give me a comfortable home, plenty of money, and allow me to live comfortably.”

“That was never my disposition,” said Arabin. “When a schoolboy, I frequently wandered miles from home, and sometimes would beg my way, to visit some antique ruin—a memento of former greatness. I would wander about an old, deserted castle for days, and dream of its past magnificence. I remember, when returning from a school in Scotland, how I left the coach at a posting-town in Yorkshire, and walked on, on foot and alone, to visit the city of York, and visit its far-famed Minster. I entered its sacred precincts, and paced up and down its majestic aisles, breathing the subdued majesty of the hallowed past. An old gentleman adopted me as his companion for the hour, and we examined the monuments. Amongst the first was one erected in memory of a Knight of Malta. I can almost feel now the thrill which rushed through my veins: thoughts of bands of Crusaders, horses and riders, started into living forms; warriors were animate, brandishing sword and lance. First came a band of Crusaders, in antique armour, fighting under the banner of him whose ashes rested here beneath the pavement where we trod. Then another scene: I thought I beheld the gallant knight, borne down by numbers, fighting in a cause which to him seemed the most sacred. We next ascended to the highest tower in the noble cathedral: we endeavoured to acquire some fame by carving out the shape of our feet upon the lead, and placing our initials in the middle of the outlines.—But I am afraid my long tale tires you.”




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“We are very much interested,” exclaimed all his listeners.

“I returned that evening to my humble lodgings in the Skeldergate. I was astonished when my landlady informed me that she had never been to the top of the cathedral, although she had lived in York all her days. She was very kind, however. She inquired my motive for visiting York, and chided me for not returning home; when I informed her of my little secret, I recollect now that she would hardly accept any recompense for the trouble I had given her, and that she placed me under the charge of a Leeds waggoner, who saw me on the coach for the South.”

“I think,” replied the settler, “the author of the ‘Sketch-Book’ has expressed the same feelings, and his anxiety to go far away with the outward-bound vessels.”

“I can assure you,” said Dr. Arabin, “I have often experienced the same feeling; and when a boy, I had an intense love for the sea-side. I would lie for hours engaged in watching the vessels tossing about, and long anxiously to partake the hardships of the mariners. When I had a few shillings to spare, I frequently posted on board some vessel, and bribed the seamen to give me a ship-biscuit, and allow me to remain and fancy myself a sailor for a day. The feeling I have never been able to totally subdue: the sight of a vessel always makes me uncomfortable, and to wish to be off. The freedom of the sea suits me: I would wish no purer liberty than to wander on the billowy foam, or to soar, like the eagle—


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"Higher still, and higher,
From the earth thou springest;
Like a cloud of fire,
The deep-blue thou wingest.”

But I fear I tire you. You must think me foolish; but I have lately lived in almost solitary confinement, without any companion but my own thoughts, and my thoughts rush out almost spontaneously.”

“Do not mention anything of the kind,” said the settler; “I am certain my wife and Martha have had the same feelings, although perhaps unable to give them expression by language. I confess, once upon a time, I had nearly the same thoughts myself; but scabby sheep, and old convicts for servants, have changed the current of my thoughts. You know, men with families must look out for the ‘crumbs’; and that diverts much of their attention from mental improvement, and also wears down the high sentimental sensibility of youth.”

“Have you travelled much?” the young lady ventured to ask.

“No,” replied he; “I have been in one or two foreign countries, but my travels have been nothing: the more I have gone about, however, the more anxious I have become to see more of the great world. I made one voyage down the Baltic, and I have been on the Continent of Europe, and now I have seen this strange new world also. I am very anxious to see India and South America. Indeed, if I could gratify my own taste, I should commence wandering over the globe: I would not rest until I had looked upon every country it contains, and mixed with lower orders, and caught


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something of their habits and notions. When death arrived, I should lie down contented at the nearest human habitation—or by the way-side, contented to be canopied by the pure sky.”

“It would be a cold death,” said the settler, “and you would require a large sum of money to gratify your singular inclinations.”

“Poverty is the very reason,” sighed Dr. Arabin, “which ties me to this or to any other country, and prevents me from following my inclinations. I should not desire to increase my means by any intercourse with those whom I inwardly despise.”

“You owe the world no undue partiality,” continued the settler.

“And have I ever received any favour at its hands?” replied Dr. Arabin, a little hurt at the cold tone in which the settler spoke; “have I not found my fellow-men, without almost an exception, churlish, and mean, and selfish? No, I owe it no favour; I despise it and its metallic-seeking inhabitants.”

“Do you despise us women?” inquired the lady of the settler, in rather an offended tone.

“Do we cheat and act the bear too?” archly inquired the young lady.

“You take me aback,” replied Dr. Arabin. “I know I have been speaking too free to mere strangers,—but I hardly ever meet a kind face and warm welcome, and I hope this will plead my excuse. I have often attempted to subdue my singular disposition, but to little purpose. I know it has seriously injured my prospects, which is no serious matter with me; still I would not exchange my independence for the wealth of a prince.”




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“But,” retorted the settler's ladies, “the question?”

“I have never received anything but kindness from woman, and respect and admire the sex,” replied Dr. Arabin.

The breakfast had by this time been finished, and Arabin inquired the nearest road to the hut where he had left his horse the evening before. This elicited an explanation of the circumstances under which he arrived, and the cause of his journey. The settler was far from pleased with his convict servant; but he was, notwithstanding, exquisitely amused at the recital of his adventures, especially the council between the two in the hut.

Arabin wished to visit the neighbouring station to see his patient; but before he took leave of the ladies, he promised either to return by their house, or visit them at an early opportunity. He proceeded in company with the settler to look after his horse.

It is nothing uncommon in Australia to have a lovely morning after a tempestuous night: the convulsions exhausted, disappear with the darkness —beauty returns with the dawn of day. They ascended the bank of a river, and Arabin was overpowered with the change —the morning was indeed lovely. He was on the bank of a river, high, but not precipitous; along its sloping outline were ranges of casuarina, its wiry branches waving gently in the morning breeze. Nearer the river bloomed a line of mimosa, gorgeously decked out in yellow flowers. Nor were there other trees wanting,—a laurel or myrtle might be observed spreading a soft perfume, and a glorious flower of scarlet. Towards the edge of the river, the wood became dense;


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indeed it was often a work of some difficulty to pass, and in some places it was impossible for either man or beast to penetrate the thick brushwood, where the thorn and fern grew to the height of two or three feet. In many parts of the Bush, the dense brushwood impedes the progress of the traveller; indeed, an experienced Bushman would rather walk three miles on open ground, than one mile through it. The eye looked away for miles over the plain, bounded by clear blue mountains, rearing their towering summits, just seen like a morning haze; or, in other places, their glorious blue tints relieved the lighter sky. At times the sunbeams would glance among the peaks, lighting up many miles of intervening country; then, in an instant, mountain, glen, and plain would be darkened by the cold shade.

Arabin reflected for some moments on the singular beauty of the sunbeams gladdening the earth, and could not but think of the beautiful Scripture allegory, where the Almighty is represented as a sun diffusing light over worlds and myriads of animated things. “How beautiful are the sunbeams wantoning on the mountain-tops!” muttered he. “I can remember, when a boy, that I had gone to Scotland on a visit, and lying on the far-famed Benahee, and observed the shades which the sun cast upon a long range of yellow cornfields: like the perpetual roll of the water in the Pacific Ocean, shadow after shadow came in quick succession. I was young then, and the joy which soothed my breast is not to be described—it was beauty, the very spirit of beauty.

“Again, in this strange world the sun shines unequally; he is like a capricious coquette, first smiling


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on one favourite, then upon another; and yet the melancholy beauty of the shade breathes sentiment.

“This is a strange new world! How mighty is the silence of these woods! even like ‘the great empire of silence.’ The notes of the bellbird break upon the ear; or the coachman's crack, warning that snakes are in the vicinity; or the drowsy hum of the flies, careering along.

“It is a lovely scene!” continued Arabin, but now speaking aloud; “and if I make up my mind to live and die in one portion of the globe, it would be in such a spot as this.”

“With a few thousand scabby sheep,” replied the settler, whose name was Butler.

“Most certainly not, Mr. Butler,” replied Arabin. “Rather than follow flocks of sheep, I would wander the country with an erratic tribe of black men, and see one spot to-day, another to-morrow, and be untrammelled by the artificial rules of society.”

“And make love to the black lubras,” interrupted the settler. “But you will like sheep better if you continue long there.”

Arabin continued, without noticing his companion —“Sheep-herding might have been a delightful occupation to the ancients in the days of Virgil; but I neither like it, nor, in candour, his Pastorals. Yet it is a lovely scene! Where could I have been last evening?”

The settler turned his face towards another part of the scene. Arabin had not looked in that direction, and he started at the contrast between the view which now met his eye, and the scene which it had lingered


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on before. He saw only a long stony plain; the earth had been scorched by a recent Bush fire,note with a miserable —looking Mount beyond destitute of herbage. This dreary sterility was by no means relieved by the clump of miserable stunted trees which were visible at some distance. The two gazed at one another, and Arabin exclaimed, “It is miserable!”

“You are right—it is named Mount Misery,” replied the settler.

“So called, I suppose, after Mount Misery in St. Christopher's,” said Arabin, “where a poor man who attempted to climb its precipice fell back and was killed. A similar story is related of a person named Ross, who went to the rock on the summit of Lochnagar in Aberdeenshire, immortalised by Lord Byron. This unfortunate man ventured too near the edge, and his foot slipped: I believe his blood is still on the rock.”

“Well,” replied the settler, “this Mount has also its tale of horror. There is not, I rejoice to say, anything like superstition in this country; yet, although we do not believe in hobgoblins, few care to be nigh Mount Misery at night; even the aborigines say the ‘Dible, Dible quambies there,’ and avoid it. Near it, five lubras were murdered; and the bodies were concealed in the woods. The real perpetrators of the crime escaped.”




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“In what manner were they murdered?” inquired Arabin.

“Some young men came up the river on a frolic: they had brandy in their boat, of which they drank large quantities. They became testy, and quarrelled. Then the smoke of the encampment of blacks at this Mount was perceived: the excited youths agreed to come on; mad with drink, they came up, where a party of five lubras and a coolie were seated round their miami, and shot them dead.They concealed the bodies, and soon after departed.

“Next morning they recovered their senses, and of course remorse began to prey on their minds; they had dyed their hands in human blood, and troubled consciences and terror for the consequences would not allow them to rest in peace. With one exception, they left the Colony. Some went to Van Diemen's Land, and from thence to England; one went to India, another to South America. The only one who remained had a situation under Government.

“After some time, the facts of the case were disclosed. The one who remained in the country, ended his days in a mad-house; and although there was no sentence recorded against any of the party, it has been remarked that they either fell, ‘The shameless hand foully crimson'd o'er
With blood of its own lord,’

or by violent deaths have gone down to the grave, and, ———————— ‘Like a storm that's spent,
Lie hush'd, and meanly sneak behind the covert —
Vain thought!—to hide them from the general scorn: ’




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which I remember Blair uses, in his Grave, as ‘fit for tyrants and oppressors.’ ”

“No wonder,” replied Arabin, “that the blacks are unwilling to approach the spot, and no wonder that I was afraid last night to be nigh it.”

The river here took a quick bend, and Arabin could perceive the out-station at a very short distance. The trick which had been played upon him was now apparent; the person who conducted him had evidently gone round the bend, instead of having taken him fair across,

In a few minutes afterwards they began to walk towards the out-station; the towering summits of the mountain ranges were visible, and Arabin had an agreeable occupation for his mental faculties in reflecting on the former state of the strange country. A very few years back, and the existence of this mountain was unknown, except perhaps to a few uncivilised aborigines. Now it rests in solitary grandeur, as if proud of its position; the long range is broken into several crags or peaks; the breeze seems almost to bring a rich perfume from the luxuriant shrubs which grow on the sides in irregular clumps.

One projecting summit lies beetling over, more favoured by the sun than the others, which appear more retiring; these are divided by chasms, and stern in their outline.note What pleasure has it afforded the exiles


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of the North to gaze upon this range! which, by its extent and magnificence, must bring to their memory the mountains of their own land. Everything around seems to reflect the feeling of gladness on the heart.

“It is rather singular, is it not,” remarked the settler, “that so many have left their homes in Britain, and wander so far from home and friends?”

“No,” returned Arabin; “we love change, and from the prince to the peasant a desire to travel seems paramount. Mountains, oceans, accidents, love, and even dread of imprisonment or death, are not impediments; every other feeling is subdued by the anxiety to behold strange lands, and what is termed ‘the world’. The feeling may not animate every breast; yet it will


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be found in the majority. It is that which peoples our Colonies with strong, healthy emigrants; and, combined with cupidity, it also brings capitalists. If men were to live and die upon their cabbage-gardens, colonisation and improvement would be things unknown, and might be expelled from our vernacular languages.”

“You are an enthusiastic young man,” the settler retorted; “and certainly, although I am a more everyday character, I admire the feeling you display. I wish I had never come from Old England: not but that I love the beauty of the wilderness, and my wife, who is a rose of the desert; but it never can be to me like my native land.”

“It is a beautiful wilderness,” replied Arabin; “a man might live in it with no friend but nature.”

“You should have known Shelley,” said the settler.

“And do I not know him?” broke out Arabin.

“Have I not communed in spirit with him for days— hours—years ? It is a sad pity he was an unbeliever, for he has a power of thought which almost places him at the head of our English poets. He becomes indeed often too plaintive—too melancholy. Shelley's poetry is like the wind moaning wildly over a dark sea.”

“I cannot admire your description of his poetry,” said the settler. “He is a writer of ability; at times, however, he becomes absurd, ridiculous, and unintelligible: but, in justice, I must add, that he has a power of sarcasm which has never been excelled.”

The two now turned their faces towards the out-station, and began to pursue their journey with all speed. They soon arrived at the out-station. Arabin,


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however, did not at first recognise it as the same which he had visited on the preceding evening. Three fellows were seated upon rude logs around the fire, all smoking short black pipes. Arabin recognised his guide of the previous night, and inquired how and when he reached his hut.

“Very well,” replied the hut-keeper. “I made a great infort, and managed to keep the road without a-comin' round the bend.”

Dr. Arabin observed that he had a great wish to use better language than usual, and that he mispronounced every third word.

“You had not much difficulty,” replied the settler sharply.

“I had great diffinculty, I insure you,” pertly remarked the man.

“Where did you put my horse?” inquired Doctor Arabin.

“I could not find him when I comed round the river,” replied the man. “Where did you leave him ?”

“I tied him to a tree, just at the spot I wished to have crossed at,” replied Dr. Arabin.

“I looked all the bend for him, I insure you,” said the man; “he must have broken away and incamped down theriver.”

The conversation between this worthy and Bob, on the previous evening, now rushed into the mind of Arabin, and he called the settler aside and informed him of it, and inquired if he thought his men would steal or conceal the horse.

“I have little doubt,” replied the settler, “but they


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would plant him; the rogues are capable of doing anything. But I must outwit them, if possible.”

He called upon one of the men, and after they had walked a few paces, he demanded of him abruptly if he knew where the gentleman's horse was to be found. The man seemed confused, but denied stoutly that he had planted the horse.

The settler re-entered the hut, and looking at the man whom he suspected, said, in an angry tone,

“How dare you plant any gentleman's horse?”

“I did not plant him,” retorted the man hoarsely.

“It is of no use denying it, because we see him standing in the Bush; so turn him up at once.”

“Then George must have pointed him out to you,” replied the man.

“You planted him, and I will repay you, for your tricks, one of those days,” said the settler. “What I wish you now to do is to bring him out; if not, I will turn you into the chain-gang.”

“It is of no use, I suppose; so you'd better call George to turn him up.”

“No,” said the settler; “I shall do no such thing, because I wish him to go upon another errand. Go yourself, and go immediately.”

Thus admonished, the man rose, with every symptom of fatigue. He went out into the forest, and in about ten minutes returned, leading the identical animal by the bridle—and in sad plight he was!

The long period which had elapsed since Dr. Arabin left him, he had passed tied to a tree by the bridle, and without food or water. The settler recommended milk-


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and-water mixed with oatmeal, and they had to return to the home-station to procure this. After he had taken it, the saddle-belts were unbuckled, and he was allowed to go free. In a moment he commenced rolling on the grass; then he stretched himself once or twice, and was then refreshed and ready for the journey. Soon after Dr. Arabin departed on his mission.

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