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I.

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,” remarked the lecturer at Burford's Panorama, Leicester Square, London, one afternoon in May, 183–, “we will now take you from the Old World to the New. We have shown you the glories of ancient and modern Italy, and have revealed to you the snowy glaciers of Mont Blanc, the monarch of mountains. Now we pass to other regions—regions where, if travellers speak truly, beauties of Nature adorn the scene that rival Italia's, where, though the art wonders which make Rome and Florence the theme of admiring myriads are absent, there are to be found subjects not unworthy of the pencil of Michael Angelo, and where, if noble peaks bedecked in eternal snows do not penetrate the horizon, there are still Alpine heights which are as grand in their cerulean aspect as Switzerland's mountains are in their garb of purity. Ladies and


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gentlemen, behold the magnificent harbour of Port Jackson, in New South Wales, with the beautifully situated city of Sydney on its shores—nursing, no doubt, in the youth of her existence, dreams of the coming time when she shall rival Carthage, Rome—aye, London itself.”

The lecturer paused to allow the panorama to unroll, and his turgid eloquence to sink into the minds of his hearers. They stirred in their seats with the restlessness which is hungry for a delayed delight. This was what they had paid their shillings to see. They knew all about Italy—and they were so sick of Mont Blanc—and Paris on a painted transparency, even when lit up with double-wicked oil-lamps, is no particular wonder. But Sydney! That was something new! Sydney was in Botany Bay, of course, in the land of kangaroos and convicts, where all the bad people went to when the king was too merciful to hang 'em, and was right down the other side of the world, and the people stood on their heads there, and did other sorts of curious things, getting up when we went to bed, and the savages ate them—“they roasted Captain Cook, you know, dear, at Botany Bay!” whispered a prim governess to her charge—and, in short, the ladies and gentlemen in the crowded, darkened auditorium trembled all over with


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pleasure as the panorama of the finest harbour in the world stood revealed. All of them—except two men, who sat almost the length of the room apart. Both of them were present because they knew something of Sydney in the real, and were curious to see what it was like in the ideal. One, of short, thick-set figure, who sat near to the transparency, gazed stolidly at it, careless of its beauties and alert only to notice its deficiencies. And the other, almost a Jew in feature, sitting near the door, did not look at the panorama at all. His eyes were fixed upon the short man; studying every inch of the profile as intently as the dim light would permit.

The lecturer began his detailed description of the picture of Sydney. As became a loyal son of Church and Crown, he pointed out, first, the Churches of St. James and St. Philip, and then the seat of Government, and became dramatically vivid when he discerned—wonder of wonders—Governor Ralph Darling riding out with his private secretary and aide-de-camp, Captain Dumaresq!

“See, ladies and gentlemen, look at the two brave dignitaries! They are clothed with righteous power and military costume. And, by way of contrast, see this black man dressed—I blush to have to remark it, ladies and gentlemen—in no more than a blanket


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and a cocked hat.” (The prim governess cast down her eyes, and bade her pupil follow her example.) “See this black man! He is the symbol of the time that is passing away! He is King Boongaree—monarch of the Sydney tribe, and now a pensioner on the bounty of the Colonial Government. If there is, ladies and gentlemen, one thing more than another on which England has a right to feel proud, it is that of her treatment of aboriginal races. Observe how the artist has painted the Savage King—how deftly he suggests the epoch which is passing away before the new era of civilization! See, he lifts his hat to his approaching Excellency! He does homage at once to the Representative of August Majesty and to the Age of Progress!”

The orator paused to recover breath and win applause. And the man near the curtain took advantage of the opportunity to declare in plain, audible tones that “it wor all a cokumed job!” Then, encouraged by the surprise he caused the audience, he went on: “There worn't no Boongaree or wot's 'is name, an' wot th' cove 'ad p'inted out as Saint James's wasn't that at all, but it wor th' old dock church on th' 'ill, an' wot 'e'd called Saint Philip's wor ak'shally Saint James's, only they'd turned it round th' wrong way! They'd got th' —— spire th'


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wrong end. Th' spire was th' town end—not a-facin' Park-'urds. W'y, for two ballsnote I'd paint a —— better picter myself!” Then, modestly content with the success he had achieved, the speaker sat down.

And, not to deprive the man of his honours, we must say that success was very marked. The lecturer, who had lectured before crowned heads, but who had never been lectured save by his wife, was dumb with anger. Some school-lads shouted “Hear, hear!” an elderly gentleman hammered the floor with his stick, and the governess was so tickled that she overlooked the necessity of instructing the little girl to put her fingers in her ears at the “naughty words.” But had there been any one to notice it, the most remarkable tribute to the effect of the extemporized oration came from the Jewish-looking fellow at the door. He chuckled, and chuckled again!

Disdaining to comment on the interruption, the lecturer proceeded. There was, however, less glibness in his utterance, and he displayed a hesitation that smacked of a doubt concerning the trustworthiness of his information.

“Follow me, please, ladies and gentlemen,” he went on, “and notice the points and convolutions of the Harbour ——”




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“There ain't no conwo-yo'call'ems,” interjected the critic, who, unlike most critics, evidently knew what he was talking about. “They're all coves an' bays!”

The lecturer kept his temper to admiration, and proceeded. “Here on this central point jutting out perceive Macquarie Fort, built, as its name imparts, by Governor Macquarie ——”

“A good sort, old Locky ——”

“But having been designed by a civil architect ——”

“I knowed 'im—old Greenway.”

“Instead of an engineer, it is erected in such a situation and in such a style that it is rather a picturesque object than a useful defence.”

“'Ear, 'ear! Yer've got it right at last!”

“The fort stands on Bennilong's Point, so called from a house having been erected on it for the residence of a chief named Bennilong——”

“Oh, Lord—who's been a-kiddin' o' yer?”

“Really”—the lecturer lost patience now—“really if the gentleman by the wall persists in interrupting in this fashion, I shall be compelled to have him removed!”

“Well, I puts it t'ye, leddies an' gents, is it fair as 'e should be cokumin' yer in a lot o' damned trash, w'en I knows better?”




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“Hear, hear!” shouted the boys. “Angcore!” cried the Jewish fellow (in a falsetto). “No, no—certainly not!” said the gentleman with the stick, who ought to have known better. And even the governess ventured to whisper to her charge: “Oh, I wish he would go on—if—if he would not swear so.”

The proprietor of the panorama was attracted from behind the screen by the uproar. As a wise showman, he knew it was his duty to humour his audience, and proved himself equal to the occasion by suggesting that his lecturer should be allowed to proceed, but that afterwards the gentleman from Sydney might perhaps, if he would be so kind, favour the audience with—er—a more particular description—er—of the beauties of the harbour—er—of Botany Bay. And the gentleman from Sydney generously agreeing, the professional lecturer resumed, with, it must be confessed, something less of spirit and eloquence, his oration.

“I was saying, I believe, ladies and gentlemen, when I was—when the gentleman from Sydney was good enough to—er—speak to me, that a chief named Bennilong had his residence on that point. I may be wrong, or I may be right, but such is my information. He was the first native to become attached


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to the settlers. He was brought to England by Governor Phillip, and returned with Governor Hunter. Although he was in a great measure civilized, yet he could not altogether forget his former pursuits. For instance, he would frequently discard his clothes, and pass several weeks at a time with his old companions in the woods ——”

“They all do it—they sell their breeches for grog.”

The remonstrance of the lecturer was drowned in the roars of laughter from the indecorous. Everybody was indecorous, not excluding the school-girl.

“We will pass on. Observe this point, ladies and gentlemen! It is Dawes' Battery—mounting fifteen guns, and commanding the harbour. It is, however, inadequate to the defence of the town against any respectable force. This place acquired its name from Lieutenant Dawes, who sailed with the first expedition, and being charged by the Board of Longitude to make observations on an expected comet, erected his small observatory on the spot. May I ask the gentleman from Sydney whether that is not correct?”

“I shouldn't be surprised if it wor. But you didn't tell 'em that Black Sam wrecked th' 'Awkesbury passage-boat on that point. 'Owsomever, go ahead, old cove—yer as slow as th' Rosehill Lump, or Jim


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Hughes, th' angman, wen 'e turned off 'is mother-in-law.”

“How slow was that?” questioned the old gentleman, who must have been a disreputable old gentleman, thus to set at defiance the routine of a respectable entertainment. Certainly he was a humorous one.

“Well, I'll tell yer, if so be th' leddies are willin', ven th' lect'rer 'as slung 'is patter. Go on, pal!”

Glowering daggers, the orator proceeded. But, alas! he was an orator no longer. No resonant periods flowed from his lips. If the people wished to be entertained by a vulgarian from Botany Bay, well, they might. But, as for himself, he would no longer cast his pearls before such swine. He jerked out brief, unpicturesque sentences.

“This ship in the stream is H.M.S. Success. Captain Sterling, who commands her, has at a late date taken her round to the western coast of New South Wales to found a new settlement.”

“New 'Olland, yer mean. The old colony ain't got a west coast!”

“An' this ship, ladies and gentlemen—this ship—or rather the hulk of one, perhaps”—here the speaker infused a palpable malice into his tones—“the gentleman from Sydney would not mind telling us what it is?” He pointed to a black object depicted in midwater


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off Dawes' Point. It might have been anything from a badly-drawn island to a ship's hull.

From his seat by the wall the interjector peered at the painted canvas. The audience, made more interested themselves by the accent of meaning in the lecturer's question, listened intently—none more so than the Jew-like man by the door. His heavy eyes glistened with his suppressed eagerness, and his nostrils dilated as he held his breath. He knew better than any one there how pertinent was that inquiry.

“Oh!” continued the lecturer, as the other did not answer, “I should have thought the gentleman from Sydney would have been certain to have known that! That is the Phœnix hulk—used as a place of confinement for prisoners of desperate character.”

In the half-light of the hall it was not possible to distinguish any alteration in the man's features, but there was a strangeness in his voice which went far to convince most of those who heard him that with his voice had changed his features. The shock that dries the throat blanches the cheek.

“That th' Phœnix?—that 'taint th' Phœnix—th' hulk didn't lay there—she was in Cockle Bay—orf Goat Island!” But somehow the assertiveness was out of his voice, and he was quiet while the lecturer


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ran over the remaining features of the harbour and the town. Possibly he would not have again opened his lips, but have noiselessly departed, when the lecturer closed the exhibition by a striking quotation from Darwin's “Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove.” But the old gentleman and the boys, aided by a falsetto from the back-seats, clamoured for the story of Jim Hughes.

He began to speak from his seat, but the audience called him to mount the form. And so, at last, he stood and gave them the story of Jim Hughes and his mother-in-law.

“Yer must know, leddies an' gents all, as Jim Hughes was Jack Ketch in Gov'ner Macquarie's time. An' Jim, though he warn't so full o' work as 'e wor later, did purty well week-in an' week-out. Six-pun' ten, in dollars, a quarter 'e got, an' all th' stiff-uns' duds—I mean, leddies, as 'e wor given th' boots an' togs o' th' free people as wor turned orf—o' course, Gov'ment pe'ple 'adn't duds to leave. Well, Jim married, but 's missus died, an' so 'e got 'is wife's mother—she wor a lag, y' see—assigned to 'im, that means, leddies, as she wor to be 'is servant. But it 'appened that th' old woman got drinkin', an' she killed 'nother woman, an' so she wor ordered ter be scragged.” As he proceeded, something of the


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intoxication of public speech inspired him, and he regained part of his former aggressiveness.

“Well, w'en Monday mornin' came, Jim takes 'er out as neat as can be. There wor two men, an' he ties 'em up spick an' span, but 'e leaves 'er to the last. ‘Yer slow, Jim!’ ses she. ‘Yes, mother, I be,’ ses 'e. ‘Well,’ ses she, ‘I allus thought as you wor a workman, not a damned codger'—a-savin' o' yer presence, leddies, she wor givin' ter naggin' 'im a good bit, wor Jim's mother-in-lor. ‘But,’ ses 'e, ‘'tisn't nateral, is it, I should be in a 'urry ter turn yer off?’ ‘Oh,’ ses she, ‘I don't know as ter that! Yer never cared much for me or my gal.’ ‘P'r'aps I didn't,’ ses 'e, ‘an’ I don't say as I did. But I'm slow now as 'opin' th' Gov'nor may 'prieve yer! I axed 'im!' ‘Like yer imperence, Jim Hughes,’ ses she, ‘interferin’ with wot ain't yer bus'ness! I don't want no 'prieve at yer 'ands!' ‘I don't care wot yer want,’ ses 'e. ‘I wants yer 'prieved for my own pu'pose. If I turns yer orf ter-day I ain't got no 'ooman to whop!’ An' that's w'y, ladies an' gents, Jim Hughes turned his missus' mother orf slow.”

“Didn't she get reprieved, then?” asked the old gentleman.

“No, sir!” replied the Sydneyite. “An' 'tis a pity too. Jim 'udn't get a second missus—it 'tain't


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ev'ry 'ooman as likes Skeleton Jimmy—an' as 'e wor wun o' them sort as must 'av a 'ooman to whop, to ease th' temper like, sir, he took to th' grog.”

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