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Page 2.—“Sydney” in 1836.—“Early in the morning a light air carried us towards the entrance of Port Jackson. Instead of beholding a verdant country, interspersed with fine houses, a straight line of yellowish cliff brought to our minds the coast of Patagonia. A solitary lighthouse, built of white stone, alone told us that we were near a great and populous city. Having entered the harbour, it appears fine and spacious, with cliff-formed shores of horizontally stratified sandstone. The nearly level country is covered with thin scrubby trees bespeaking the curse of sterility. Proceeding further inland, the country improves: beautiful villas and nice cottages are here and there scattered along the beach. In the distance stone houses, two or three stories high, and windmills standing on the edge of a bank, pointed out to us the neighbourhood of the capital of Australia.

At last we anchored within Sydney Cove. We found the little basin occupied by many large ships, and surrounded by warehouses. In the evening I walked through the town, and returned full of admiration at the whole scene. It is a most magnificent testimony to the power of the British nation. Here, in a less promising country, scores of years have done many times more than an equal number of centuries have effected in South America. My first feeling was to congratulate myself that I was born an Englishman. Upon seeing more of the town afterwards, perhaps my admiration fell a little; but yet it is a fine town. The streets are regular, broad, clean, and kept in excellent order; the houses are of a good size, and the shops well furnished. It may be faithfully compared to the large suburbs which stretch out from London and a few other great towns in England; but not even near London or Birmingham is there an appearance of such rapid growth. The number of large houses and other buildings just finished was truly surprising; nevertheless, every one complained of the high rents and difficulty in procuring a house. Coming from South America, where in the towns every man of property is known, no one thing surprised me more than not being able to ascertain at once to whom this or that carriage belonged.”

CHARLES DARWIN, Voyage of Beagle, pp. 431—432.

Page 41.—The Story of MEGSON AND RELPH (as told by Captain Shaxton).

“Why, Megson and Relph came out here, fast, hot-spirited College men, who had embezzled their uncle's money. They expected to go free, and brought out ponies, a calèche, and all sorts of finery. They had been implicated in some sort of rumpus on board, and when they landed near everything was taken from them, while they were put under strict surveillance in a Government office under a man named Barlings, who was strict, and perhaps inclined to bully them. This man's usage, and the fact that they were nor well received by some people named Rose (you know—the James Roses) who had known them in England, drove them to the gambling places, where they won a lot of money, came out more than ever in dress, and for a while seemed prosperous. You'd see'd 'em in their little ponychaise driving from Cascades Road to the jetty with their gold-tasselled caps and pudding-cravats, and quarrelling—they were hot-tempered men—like a pair of undergraduates coming in from Newmarket. It seems they had come to some sort of compact about the ladies—a relic of some fast business at home no doubt. Barlings deposed you would hear them talking jealously if one or other was seen for a moment with a woman. Presently Megson falls in love with a girl—a lady, they say, of the melancholy beautiful kind; hides it from Relph; and a fierce quarrel and blows occurred one morning, when, the girl being ill, he told about it. Megson was put in irons for assaulting the others: he said under taunts from Barlings and Relph. When Relph recovered, he lived alone, driving past Megson sometimes where he worked in the iron-gang. He seems to have lavishly abused him when in hospital, but seeing him in yellow and black on the orad-side, he repented, and made a clever and careful plan for their escape.

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Half starving himself, he collected a lot of ship-biscuits, which he packed in a false bottom in the pony-trap. He got 450 packed away in various parts of the vehicle. Suddenly drawing up beside the gang one day, he leant out and abused Megson (at the same time telling him to run for the chaise on the following Friday, and he would pull up for him round the corner). He oven gave him a light blow on the face, and drove off in a fury, shaking his fist. He was hauled up for this, but got off, with some excuses, being a small and gentle-looking man. Megson did not get off so easily and was punished. See how the luck hung against that man!

“Megson waited for Relph all Friday, and towards evening, seeing him drive by and slacken round the corner, loosened his ankle-chain and ran for it. He was shot at and hit, but he got into the calèche. Relph galloped him up the Dalrymple Road; along the river-side; and a bit into the bush. In the dusk they were missed. Abandoning the trap, they packed the stuff on the pony, and on it also got Megson with his wound. He was light, small, and delicately-made like his cousin, and they got a good way towards Launceston, when the blacks began to dog them, and they had to push for the road. Then Megson became feverish, and the police discovered them from his delirious talking. Relph was holding him on the pony and scolding at him.

“The case created a good deal of sympathy. Relph might have got off fairly easily but for his bitterness and bad-temper. He was assigned to a clergyman at Clarence Plains, and having challenged his master to a duel over something or other, and used threatening language when his request was refused, was sentenced for a month to the iron-gang, losing his civilian clothes, and putting on the stripes and chains. Relph must have felt the ground slipping from beneath his feet, for he was insubordinate, and therefore remained in the gang month after month. Several people who had taken an interest in him saw him on the roads. His light, erect little figure was easily recognisable, but he would glare at them defiantly. All seemed enemies to him now. One day Megson was drafted into the gang with four other insubordinates. He also had been assigned, been insolent, and sentenced by the magistrate to the roads. The latter worked in a stiff, unaccustomed way (he had been coachman to a doctor and very well treated) till he saw Relph, and then, as they say, he seemed, as he picked, to recognise something in the other's figure, and kept looking at him covertly. At last he stood up and called ‘Relph,’ and the other looked over with his brilliant smile, crying: ‘No go now, Alfred!’ That was all, and on they worked, the one smiling, the other shaken with grief.

“It is said that returning one day into Hobarton, Megson saw the girl that he had loved with some little children in a garden, and thinking her married, upbraided her furiously by name and was whipped for indecent behaviour. The girl is not married. They say it is that dark Miss R——living with her mother and sisters in Lavisham Terrace. There's some mystery about her. When Relph heard that Megson had been punished over a woman, he quarrelled with his overseer, assaulted him, and ran for it over a sandbank into a fringe of bush. Though fired at with a blunderbuss, he got away unwounded. All Hobarton was out after him. Megson, working in the gang two days afterwards, hearing of his cousin's escape, decided to make a run also, but they had their eye on him, for he was shot down a few yards from his tools. Relph was taken, a month later, on a small island in the Huon River, where a man was seen by the police struggling with some reptile, and beating it with a stick. They captured him there, well and hearty but terrified, with ten or eleven great snakes dead about him. He said he had killed thirty and could not sleep at night. The island is thick with them.

“Both Megson and Relph were sentenced to Macquarie Harbour, and a month later the weekly cutter took them out, shivering among a huddle of convicts, over the yellow sea. In the winter, five years ago, they escaped inland into the mountains behind the Harbour, and no doubt joined the many skeletons that strew that pathway back to civilization.”

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