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A Voyage to New South Wales




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Chap. I

Motives which induced Government to employ King's ships in transporting Convicts to New South Wales.—Intention of establishing a Colony in Bass's Strait.—Calcutta appointed to convey thither the first establishment.—Passage from England to Teneriffe, and the Cape Verd Islands.

THE motives, which, in the year 1802, induced Government to employ King's ships in transporting convicts to New South Wales, appear to have had their foundation, not only in principles of


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economy, but also in the union of many other advantages, which promised to be the result. Until this period, merchant ships had always been chartered to convey their victims of vice and folly to the place of their destination: independent of the expence of these vessels, which was a dead loss to Government, the abuses disgraceful to humanity, that too frequently took place on board of them, called aloud for correction. By employing King's ships on this service, a number of officers and seamen would be provided for, who might otherwise emigrate to foreign services, and be totally lost to their country; and again, it must naturally be supposed, that the Officers, having neither pecuniary nor commercial interest in the voyage, would conduct


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it upon principles very different from those of mercenary, and perhaps illiterate traders; at the same time that the former would be enabled to keep the convicts in a better state of discipline, and also be more careful of their health, by that constant attention to cleanliness, which characterizes the British navy. To these obvious and immediate advantages, was added another, which, though merely speculative, promised, if successful, to exceed them all. It was known, that timber, supposed to be peculiarly adapted to naval uses, might be procured at New South Wales with little difficulty or expence, and in the present time of its encreasing scarcity and great demand at home, both for public and private service, this was an object of the first


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national importancenote: it was therefore determined to try the experiment, when, by the conclusion of peace, the nation began to breathe, after the late long and arduous contest. The ships of the navy best calculated for this purpose, were decidedly those built for the East India Company, and purchased into the King's service during the war; and accordingly, the Glatton sailed for Port-Jackson in September, with 330 male, and 170 female convicts.

The Calcutta, another ship of the like class, was intended to pursue the same route and was commissioned in

Asiatic Register, July 1801.




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October followingnote; but while fitting out, a material change was made in her destination. Since the discovery of Bass's Straitnote, it had entered into the contemplation of Government to establish a settlement at its western entrance, as well from commercial, as political motives. In the first respect, it would give the greatest encouragement to the speculations carried on for seals,


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and sea-elephants, to the islands in the Straits, to have a secure port in their vicinity, where the produce might be collected until ready for exportation: in the next place, this measure would prevent any rival nations from establishing themselves on this coast, who might become troublesome neighbours to our colony at Port Jackson, which must no longer be considered as a contemptible part of the British dominions; and to which, the possession of Bass's Strait would give us a less tedious and circuitous access. Port Philipnote, on the north shore of the Straits, which was


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reported to be an excellent harbour, seemed, from its geographical position, to possess all the advantages required in the proposed settlement. To carry this project into execution, several necessary alterations took place in the equipment of the Calcutta; and the command of her was conferred on Captain Daniel Woodriff, an experienced naval officer, who had before visited New South Wales, as Agent of Transports. As the Calcutta was found insufficient to convey the necessary stores for the new settlement, the Ocean, a merchant ship of 500 tons burthen, was chartered for the purpose, and was afterwards to proceed to China, for a cargo of teas: on board her were embarked the civil, and part of the military officers, and settlers; together with a


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the greater part of the stores, provisions, and implements of agriculture; while the Calcutta conveyed a detachment of marines, the whole of the convicts, their wives and children, and the remainder of the stores, as well as a considerable quantity for Port Jacksonnote.




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The Calcutta arrived at Portsmouth, from the River Medway, in the middle of February 1803, where she waited the junction of the Ocean, which was protracted until the 8th of April. The first weeks of this month the winds had been constantly from the eastward; but various trifling causes, which commonly retard expeditions of this nature, prevented our taking advantage of them, and when these obstacles were removed,


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the winds, as if determined to shew their contempt for the ambitious, and too often short-sighted views of man, suddenly changed to the westward, and blew with a degree of violence that left no hopes of succeding, should we attempt to beat down Channel. Perhaps no situation can be more irksome than this to a sailor; when his mind is made up for departure, every delay that impedes it, is felt as a misfortune; and yet such is the contradiction in the mind of man, that while he wishes, he fears the removal of these impediments, and would still linger out another day, to accomplish something which is yet undone, or perhaps to take another last farewell of friends, to whom he has already bidden fifty times adieu. The first moment of a favourable wind we


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took advantage of, and quitted St. Helen's on the morning of the 26th; but on the evening of the next day, the wind again veering to the westward, and blowing hard, obliged us to run through the Needles, and take shelter in Yarmouth Roads. The following morning with a strong breeze from the northward, we again put to sea, and cleared the Channel on the 29th. This part of a foreign voyage, though a mere point as to distance, is reckoned by sailors the most material and difficult; for the English Channel is so situated, that the prevailing westerly winds make the egress from it extremely precarious, particularly in winter.

In bidding farewel to England, it may naturally be supposed, that the feelings of our motley crew would be as


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various as their situations, their prospects, or their characters; yet the general sentiment seemed to be that of entire indifference: a few women alone, whose birth and education had promised them a far different fate, were affected by this heart-rending, though voluntary, exile from their native country; and

“Shudd'ring still, to face the distant deep,
“Return'd, and wept, and still return'd to weep.”

Among the convicts on board, were some who, by prodigality, and its attendant vices, had degraded themselves from a respectable rank in society, and were indebted to the lenity of their prosecutors alone for an escape from the last sentence of the law. Some of these men were accompanied by their wives, who had married them in the sunshine of prosperity, when the world smiled


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deceitfully, and their path of life appeared strewed with unfading flowers; in the season of adversity, they would not be separated, but reposed their heads upon the same thorny pillow; and as they had shared with them the cup of joy, they refused not that of sorrow. Those alone who know the miserable and degraded situation of a transported felon, can appretiate the degree of connubial love, that could induce these women to accompany their guilty husbands in their exile. The laws can only make distinction in crimes, while the criminals, whatever may have been their former situation in life, must suffer alike for crimes of the same nature: it therefore entirely depended on us to ameliorate their condition, and grant such indulgences, as the nature and degree of


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the crime, and the otherwise general character and conduct of the prisoner seemed to deserve. To these helpless females, all the attentions that humanity dictated, and that the nature of our service would admit, were extended, but still it was impossible to separate their situations entirely from their guilty husbands, they were consequently far, very far, from being comfortable; and one of them, borne down by the first hardships of the voyage, which she felt with redoubled force from being far advanced in her pregnancy, fell a victim to her misplaced affection before our arrival at Teneriffe.

The ships anchored before Santa Cruz on the 17th of May, and having completed their water, and procured a supply


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of wine, sailed again on the 21st. While laying at Santa Cruz, fresh beef was served throughout the ship, and as a slight indication of scurvy was observed in some of the prisoners, a large quantity of vegetables and lemons was laid in for sea-store. The free use of fresh water was also permitted to wash the convict's clothes; an indulgence, the beneficial effects of which cannot be too highly valued. In voyages of this nature, where a great number of people are crowded together, to whom it is not always possible to permit such exercise as is necessary to health, cleanliness is the only preventative of disease; and, independent of any other necessity, it will always be eligible to put into any convenient port for that purpose alone.




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It would appear, that the island of Teneriffe deserves the high character it has received for salubrity of climate. We attended the funeral of a native, who had lived 26 years beyond the common life of man, “after which all is but labour and trouble.” His brother, who attended the funeral, was 94, and seemed to put his own mortal destiny at a distance.

The thermometer stood between 70 and 72, a temperature, perhaps, more congenial to human life, than any other.

The celebrated Peak has by no means the grand appearance that the traveller is taught to expect, but its apparent altitude is much diminished, by the general height of the circumjacent mountains:


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indeed, the appearance of the eastern side of the island gives a very unfavourable impression of its value; a confused assemblage of rocky hills, heaped upon, and crossing each other in every direction, present themselves to the eye, like the waves of the ocean disturbed by the fury of contending winds and currents. These precipices are bare of vegetation, except where a starved brush-wood insinuates its roots between the rugged masses of volcanic matter, or in a few spots where the industry of man has conquered the sterility of nature, and raised a scanty crop of barley or maize: as we recede from the sea-coast, however, the country improves, and affords many prospects of romantic grandeur, and luxuriant fertility. The town of Santa Cruz is built with


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tolerable regularity, on a gentle acclivity, on the west side of the Bay: the landing-place is defended from the sea, by a projecting rocky point, and a good stone pier. Being merely a King's port, it derives but little advantage from commerce, which is entirely carried on from the port of Orotava, on the west side of the island. Teneriffe has no manufactures of any consequence, except its wine, nor does it produce corn enough for its own consumption; for this, and also for poultry, it depends upon the other islands, particularly the Grand Canary, with which their is constant intercourse by boats. The importation of foreign linen, or cotton manufactures, is prohibited, and consequently those of the English looms bear a high price, and are universally worn; which proves, that


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great restraints laid on any articles of merchandize, serve but to enhance their value, to make them be sought after with more avidity, and to encourage their clandestine importation. It was found, that the friars and women, whose persons were held free from scrutiny, smuggled on shore great quantities of these goods; and in consequence, neither are now permitted to go on board any vessel, without express leave from the Governor. The importation of tobacco, by private traders, is also forbidden, Government drawing part of its colonial revenue from the exclusive sale of this article.

Santa Cruz has but three churchers; rather a small number for the religion of its inhabitants, which teaches, that


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to “give to the church, is to lend unto God;” and that, being buried in the sacred vestements of a religious order, ensures a favourable reception from St. Peter, who more readily opens to them the portal of everlasting life. In visiting places of public worship in Roman Catholic countries, we cease to wonder at the deeply imprinted superstition of the people; children, before they can scarce speak, are taught to set a sacred value on the ridiculous grimace of devotion, and a father brings his boy, not three years old, to lisp his ave maria, and count his little rosary before the altar. This early impression it is impossible can ever be erased; imitation, at last, becomes a second nature; in maturer years, reason, in vain, attempts to pull down the firm bulwark of superstition,


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and narrow-minded bigotry becomes the characteristic of the man. Toleration of religious opinions has not yet reached this island, and, whatever may be his real persuation, every person residing here must conform to the external ceremonies of the established church: a heretic is still denied the boon of a consecrated grave, and his hapless ghost must be contented with a mansion in the unpurified bosom of his mother earth, unless it prefers a more extensive sepulchre in the ocean. The bodies of those who die in the faith, are usually interred in the churches; the coffins have no cover, and are filled up with quick-lime, which decomposing the flesh, the bones are afterwards removed to a general charnel-house. This example deserves to be universally followed,


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but the prejudices of education, which teaches us to consider disturbing the dead as a species of horrid sacrilegenote, still wars against our better judgment, and perpetuates the noisome and acknowledged evil of crowded churchyards.

It appears to be a custom of ancient origin throughout Europe, (perhaps antecedent to heraldic achievements,) to


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denote the death of any member of the family, by some symbol affixed to the house of the deceased; at Teneriffe, a branch of the palm-tree is placed over the door or window for this purpose.

The manners of the inhabitants in general are those of the mother-country; a few families, of which the Lieutenant Governor's is the chief, adopt the French customs in dress and society; and the vivacity and liberal manners of the latter afford a striking contrast to the austere gravity, and prudish reserve, of the former. The return of peace has not yet brought back to the island the English, who were driven from it by the war; and the necessary business of any British vessels that touch here, is at present transacted by Mr. Armstrong, a native of the island.




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In its present state, Santa Cruz could scarce make a successful defence against a well-conducted coup de main; the fortifications are in ruins, and the garrison consists of a miserable rabble, who, to appearance, would verify the old adage about running away. The pier is, however, defended by a battery, which might annoy the invaders, and which ought, therefore, to be immediately silenced; for this purpose, one line of battle ship would be fully sufficient. A shot from this battery pursued its too unerring course, and deprived the Navy of the brave Bowen, at the same time that it took off the arm of Nelson. In the church of Neustra Senora de Constantia, is suspended the union flag, left behind by Nelson in his unsuccessful attack on the island in 1799. It was pointed


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out to us with every mark of national pride by our conductor, who, after a long harangue on the courage of their troops, was drily requested by an English officer to be particularly careful of this trophy of their prowess, for that Nelson might probably one day return, and call for it.

The water here has a soft, soapy taste, and I believe a slight purgative quality; it is conducted from the mountains to a stone fountain, which throws up three jets d'eau. The island produces a species of pine-tree, which is used in the construction of the houses, and in small vessels; we were here too early for the fruits of the island, which are those peculiar to the tropics. Vegetables were plenty, onions in particular


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are remarkably good; and as they are not to be procured at Rio de Janeiro, it is advisable to lay in a large stock of them here: fowls cost about half a crown each: sheep are scarce, and bad; and hogs neither cheap nor goodnote. The only fish we saw, were large mackarel, vast shoals of which come into the bay at this season; they are caught with hook and line, and attracted towards the boats by fires of the dried pine, which gives a bright blaze, and of a serene evening the bay presents the appearance of a magnificent marine illumination.

Between England and Teneriffe we lost four convicts by death; two of these


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had been embarked in the last stages of consumption, vainly hoping that a warmer climate might restore their healths.

From Teneriffe, we pursued our course towards the Cape Verd Islands, and on the 25th of May made the Isle of Sal, along which we coasted at a distance of six or seven miles, without seeing any thing that could induce a stranger to land on it from choice; not a trace of cultivation, nor of inhabitants, was to be seen; nor did a single shrub enliven the dreary brown of the parched soil. This island has but few stationary inhabitants, but is frequented for the salt which is collected on it, with which it supplies America, and the West Indies.




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On the morning of the 26th, we stood close in for St. Jago, the largest of the Cape Verd Islands, and ranged along its S. E. side at from one to two miles distance. This side of the island is broken, and uneven, in some places bound by projecting shelves of rock, the lower parts being excavated by the continual action of the water; in other spots are small sandy coves, defended by reefs on which the sea beats with violence. This island affords an agreeable prospect to the distressed mariner; the sides of the more gently ascending hills are covered with a verdant carpet, upon which numerous herds of cattle are seen grazing, and in the vallies are groves of cocoa-nuts and bannanas surrounding the habitations of the natives. The harbour of Praya, laying on the south


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side of the island, is, during the regular N.E. trade-wind, perfectly secure, but it is exposed to the tornadoes, which in the months of August and September often blow from the southward. The natives appeared desirous of our landing, by waving their handkerchiefs on the rock as we passed along: hoping some of them might be induced to come on board with fruit, we stood close into the bay, but not a canoe was to be seen, and it was not an object of sufficient consequence, to suffer any delay by sending a boat on shore. The town, from which we were distant about five miles, is the seat of government; to appearance it consists of a few wretched clay huts adjoining the fort, which alone is white-washed. A lucrative trade is carried on from this island to America and


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the West Indies in mules: by breeding these animals, and by supplying ships with refreshments, the inhabitants support themselves. The mother-country feels so little the importance of these islands, that scarce any precautions are taken for their defence: a Creole is often governor-general: and the inferior islands are sometimes governed by Mulattoes.

A thick haze always obscures these islands, and prevents their being seen at the distance that might be expected from their altitudes: this, I suppose, proceeds from the exhalations arising from the Salt lakes, and this haze is much thicker and more opake when the sun is in the Northern tropic.




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Chap. II.

From the Cape Verd Islands to Rio de Janeiro.—North Atlantic Ocean.—St. Sebastian.—Population.—Manners, Climate, and Diseases.

June. FROM the Cape Verd Islands to the vicinity of the line, the N.E. trade-wind continued to impel us forward with undeviating celerity. In this space, it is impossible not to mark, with emotions of pleasure, the beautiful atmospherical pictures which the evenings afford: in the direction of the setting sun, the Heavens are seen glowing with orange and purple, blended into the greatest variety of tints, and melting imperceptibly


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into the pure ether of light cerulean blue; in which, the first stars of evening shine with the most brilliant silvery lustre; but,

———Who can paint
Like Nature? Can imagination boast,
Amidst its gay creation, hues like her's:
Or, can it mix them with that matchless skill,
And lose them in each other?

This beautiful appearance of the Heavens is confined to the Northern Tropic: in the Southern, the air is commonly loaded with gloomy and dense vapours, that, descending to the horizon, constitute that kind of atmosphere to which is given the epithet, hazy.

The Northern tropical seas are the peculiar residence of the Dolphin, the Bonetta, the Albacore, the Skip-jack,


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and the Flying-fish; the latter is often seen winging its transient flight, to escape the swift pursuit of the dolphin, while the voracious shark waits its descent; when, exhausted by the want of moisture, its wings refuse to bear it aloft, and it falls helpless into his devouring jaws. The shark is the hereditary foe of sailors; and the moment one is spied, the whole crew are instantly in arms; often, the day's allowance of meat is sacrificed to bait the hook intended to entrap their hungry adversary; while grains, harpoons, and every missive weapon, are pointed at his devoted head. When success attends their operations, and the deluded victim is dragged on board, no pack of hungry fox-hounds can be more restless, till they receive the reward


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of their labours, than the sailors to tear out the bowels, and examine the stomach of the shark. Here they often recover the pieces of meat used to bait the hooks, which his sagacity had extricated; and after cutting off his finsnote, saving his jaws as objects of curiousity, and reserving a few slices from the tail to eat, the carcase is again committed to the watery element.

The peculiar property of tropical atmospheres in corroding iron, is well known: it is almost impossible to keep any article of that metal from rusting, even for an hour, without the application


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of oil. The copious vapours exhaled from the earth and sea, in tropical climates may produce this effect, which is found to decrease as we recede from the equator, either north or south.

In latitude 6° North, we lost the N.E. trade-wind, and for a few days experienced the usual equinoctal calms, and squalls, with heavy rains, and strong easterly currents. The line was crossed in the longitude of 25° W.note, with the


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usual visit from Mr. Neptune, his wife, and child. This ceremony, though ridiculous


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enough, is, when ably executed, sufficiently amusing: the ugliest persons in the ship are chosen to represent Neptune, and Amphitrite (but the latter name being rather too hard of pronunciation, is always familiarized into Mrs. Neptune); their faces are painted in the most ridiculous manner, and their heads are furnished with swabs well greased and powdered: Neptune's beard is of the same materials; while a pair of grains, or a boat hook, serves him for a trident: a triumphal car is constructed with chairs fixed on a gun-carriage, or wheel-barrow, in which they are seated, and drawn from the forecastle to the quarter-deck, by a number of sailors representing Tritons. After enquiries respecting the ships's destination, saluting their old acquaintances, and making


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the Captain some ridiculous present, such as a dog or a cat, under the name of a Canary-bird, they are again rolled foreward, and the ceremony of shaving and ducking their new visitors commences. A large tub of salt water is prepared, with a stick across it, on which the visitor is seated; Neptune's barber, after lathering his face well, with a mixture of tar and grease, performs the operation of shaving with a piece of rusty iron hoop, and when clean scraped, which is not accomplished without many wry faces, he is pushed backwards into the tub, and kept there until completely soaked.

The vicissitudes of the weather on the line are greater than any where else on the surface of the globe. In a moment,


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from an atmosphere glowing with the fierce rays of a vertical sun, the storm is seen brooding in the horizon, which soon becomes of a pitchy blackness; the dark volume silently and slowly approaches; not a breath ruffles the glassy surface of the main, until, in an instant, it bursts in all the fury of elemental strife. Thomson has so happily painted these equatorial squalls, that I cannot help transcribing the passage:

—— In blazing height of noon,
The sun, oppress'd, is plung'd in thickest gloom.
Still Horror reigns, a dreary twilight round,
Of struggling night and day malignant mix'd,
For to the hot equator crouding fast,
Where highly rarefy'd, the yielding air
Admits their stream, incessant vapours roll,
Amazing clouds on clouds continual heap'd;
Or whirl'd impetuous by the gusty wind,
Or silent borne along, heavy and slow,
With the big stores of steaming ocean charg'd.



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Meantime, amid these upper seas condens'd

And by conflicting winds together dash'd,
The Thunder holds her black tremendous throne:
From cloud to cloud the rending Lightnings rage;
Till, in the furious elemental war
Dissolv'd, the whole precipitated mass
Unbroken floods, and solid torrents pours.

These squalls are, however, short as they are violent, and the sun soon bursts forth again in all his former fervour. The S.E. trade met us two degrees to the northward of the line, and accompanied us to 20° South, where it was succeeded by winds blowing from every point of the compassnote. Our arrival


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at Rio de Janeiro was greatly retarded by the Ocean, whose rate of sailing was much inferior to the Calcutta's. We reached that Port the last day of June, and immediately commenced the necessary refittal of the ship, to enable her to encounter the long succession of stormy weather, which the season of the year taught us to expect in the remainder of our passage to New Holland. The small Island of Enchardos, about two miles from the town, was hired with permission of the Viceroynote, for the purpose of repairing our water-casks, and landing the women to wash; a dilapidated monastery affording them and the marine guard a comfortable mansion:




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The entrance of the harbour of Rio de Janeiro is narrow for about a quarter of a mile; it thence widens into a secure basin, which at the town is five miles in breadth, and extends inland beyond the reach of the eye: several fruitful islets are scattered on each side, which, covered with loaded orange-trees, almost realize the fiction of the gardens of the Hesperides.

The shores which surround the harbour are vastly mountainous, forming abrupt and craggy precipices of the most wild and extraordinary shapes. Nature seems to have sported in the formation of this her last work, and to have combined all the fanciful forms, which she scattered more sparingly over the old continent. The entrance of the


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harbour is pointed out by a towering cliff, on the South side, rising perpendicularly from the sea; while, at the head of the Port, the mountains rise into higher elevations, and present forms more strikingly singular;

Rocks rich with gems, and mountains big with mines,
Whence many a bursting stream auriferous plays,

are here seen, now faintly peeping from behind the intervening clouds, and now presenting their dark blue summits above the flaky vapours that roll along their sides.

These mountains consist entirely of granite, forming an adamantine barrier to the waters of the Ocean. They are clothed in every part where the least soil can remain, with trees and shrubs of various kinds; and even to the naked


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rock, vegetables are seen to adhere, which appear to derive their nourishment from the moisture of the air alone. Here are many picturesque vallies, narrow, but winding along the base of the mountains, from the shores of the harbour to some distance inland. These glens are supereminently fruitful, from the combined causes of superior heat and moisture; the first proceeding from the reflected heat of the sun, confined in a narrow space, and the latter produced by the condensation of the vapours, attracted by that heat, or driven by the winds against the mountains' sides. The numerous little coves at the entrance of these glens, are bordered with beaches of the finest sand, where fishermen have erected their dwellings, and which, viewing them from without,


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have all the apparent neatness of our best English villages; but too soon we find on entering them, that this is the mere effect of white-wash, and that within, they are the habitations of sloth and nastiness. The town of St. Sebastian is built entirely of granite, which appears to be the only stone found here, except a species of black and white marble. From the Bay, the appearance of the town is not inelegant, but the deception vanishes on a nearer approach. The streets, though straight and regular, are narrow and dirty, the projecting balconies sometimes nearly meeting each other; the houses are commonly two stories high, independent of the ground floors, which are occupied as shops or cellars; they are dirty, hot, and inconvenient; the staircases


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are perpendicular, and without any light; and in the arrangement of the rooms, no regard is paid, either to a free circulation of air, or to the beauty of prospect. The furniture of the houses, though costly, disgusts the eye used to elegant plainness, by its clumsiness and tawdry decocations; while the spider weaves her web, and pursues her sanguinary trade in uninterrupted security, upon the walls and ceiling. In the houses of the rich, the windows are glazed, which only serves to increase the the reflected power of the sun, and render them intolerably hot; but the generality of houses are furnished with shutters of close latticework, behind which the women assemble in the evening; and while their own persons are concealed, enjoy the


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passing breeze, which is not, however, always very aromatic. In the English Settlements within the tropics, art is exhausted to correct or mitigate the ardour of the climate, and to render a burning atmosphere, not only supportable, but pleasant to a northern constitution. In the Brasils the defects of climate are increased by the slothful and dirty customs of the inhabitants. The cause of this difference is to be ascribed to the climates of the mother-countries; the climate of Portugal approaching to that of Brasil, the Europeans who emigrate hither feel little inconvenience from the change; in our tropical Settlements, the climate of their old differing so much from that of their new residence, the emigrants leave no means unemployed to mitigate the fervour


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of the sun, whose ardent blaze is found to derange the nervous system, enervate the body, and render the mind a prey to listlessness and insanity.

There are eighteen parish churches, four monasteries, and three convents in the town of St. Sebastian, besides several smaller religious buildings on the islands, and in the suburbs. Upon these edifices no expence is spared to attract the imagination of the weak and ignorant, by a profusion of gilding, and other tawdry decorations. The “Hospital de Mieseracordie” is also a religious institution, which receives patients of every denomination, and is principally supported by private benefactions. To these may be added a Penitentiary-House, where the incontinent fair are


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secluded from the world, to weep for, and atone their faults in solitude and silence; hither jealous husbands, or cross parents, send their too amorous wives and daughters, and doubtless, often upon no better foundation, than “trifles light as air.” The admission to the nunneries is expensive; and I have heard a fond mother regret her want of fortune, only because it prevented her dedicating some of her beloved daughters to God. The clergy possess immense property, in land, houses, and specie: when it was proposed to lay an impost of ten per cent upon the income of the church, the Benedictine monks offered to commute their part of the tax, by paying 40,000 crowns annually. Their pious desire for the conversion of heretics still glows


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with all the ardour of bigotry, and the recantation of one protestant is considered of more value, than the conversion of 100 pagans; as in heaven there is more joy over one sinner that repenteth, than over ninety and nine just persons. An unfortunate foreigner of this persuasion, who by sickness, or other causes, is obliged to remain here after his ship sails, is continually plagued by the impertinent intrusion of a dozen of these pious fathers, who, if he can find no means of leaving the country, in general tire his patience out in a few months, and for quietness sake he consents to be saved according to their receiptnote.




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No foreigner is allowed to reside here, unless he subsists by some mechanical trade, or is in the service of the state; and if it appears that any idlers are inclined to remain in the colony by stealth, after sufficient warning and opportunities to get away, they are arrested


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and confined on Cobras Island, and either put on board their own country ships that may touch here, or sent to Lisbon as prisoners.

Besides the religious buildings, the other public edifices are the Viceroy's palace, which forms one side of a flagged square, fronting the landing-place: contiguous to this, and nearly adjoining each other, are the opera-house, the royal stables, the prisonnote, and the mint. The opera-house, which holds about six hundred persons, is open on Thursdays, Sundays, and most holidays: the pieces performed are, indifferently,


  ― (53) ―
tragedies, comedies or operas, with interludes and after-pieces: the dialogue is in Portuguese, but the words and music of the songs are Italian. The house is wretchedly fitted up, the scenes miserably daubed, and where foliage is required, branches of real trees are introduced; so that while the artificial scenery wears the gay livery of summer, the natural sometimes presents the appearance of autumnal decay. The viceroy is expected by the populace, to shew himself at the theatre every night: on his entering the house, the audience rise, turn their faces towards his box, and again sit down. In private companies, no person sits while he stands, unless at his request; thus unsocial formality is the price that greatness every where pays for vulgar admiration.




  ― (54) ―

The town is supplied with water from a hill by a lofty aqueduct, of two tier of brick arches, built in a light, and not inelegant style. The public garden, which contains between three and four acres of ground, is situated on the seaside; the walks run in straight lines, and are shaded by mangoe trees, whose foliage is extremely luxuriant, and by its dark hue peculiarly calculated to refresh the eye, pained by the constant glare of the sun. At the extremity of the garden next the beach, is a flagged terrace, and a room hung with views of the country, and other curiosities; a fountain, which throws up a jet d'eau, waters the garden, and cools the air. In the winter, the garden is entirely deserted; the ladies then keep constantly in their houses, and the men, wanting


  ― (55) ―
that first inducement, the charms of female society, feel no inclination for a barren promenade, but, following the example of the fair sex, pass their time in listless indolence, and, like the swallow, remain in a state of torpidity till the return of spring.

Those gradations of fortune, which exist in, and indeed appear to be the necessary consequences of a well-regulated society, are not to be found in the Brasils; the only distinction is the rich and poor; the former are proud though ignorant, and ostentatious though avaricious; and the superabundance of all the mere necessaries of life alone, prevents the latter from being indigent beggars. Those who can acquire half


  ― (56) ―
a dozen slaves, live in idleness upon the wages of their labour, and stroll the streets in all the solemnity of self-importance. In their general expences, the rich are penurious, and the marriage of their children alone seems to thaw their frozen generosity: on these occasions, they run into the contrary extreme, and ridiculous extravagance becomes the order of the day. I have seen a bridal chemise, the needle-work of which had cost fifty pounds, and the rest of the marriage paraphernalia was in the same proportion of expence. Their entertainments are profuse in proportion as they are rare, but seldom possess any title to elegance, and sometimes want even common cleanliness to recommend them to an English appetitenote. The carriages


  ― (57) ―
in use among the rich are cabriolets, drawn by mules, and chairs curtained round, in which they are carried through the streets by Negro slaves; the latter are also female conveyances. Gaming, the peculiar vice of idleness, is prevalent among the men. Pharaoh is


  ― (58) ―
their favourite game, and the fickle Goddess is here pursued with as much avidity as at Brooks's or Almack's; it is but justice to the Brasilian ladies to say, that they bear no part in this destructive vice, but whether from want of inclination, or from restraint, I cannot take upon me to say.

The manners of the Brasilians are, however, gradually converging towards that liberal system, which appears to be continually gaining ground throughout the world, and which will probably be one day universally established, in exact proportion to the peculiar physical and moral attributes of man in the climate he inhabits. The usual dress of both sexes is adopted from the French; swords and cocked hats are entirely out


  ― (59) ―
of fashion, and clokes are now only worn by the vulgar. The men who have had any intercourse with the English, adopt their customs, even to minuteness; hence, cropped heads, round hats, and half boots, have ceased to be considered a foreign costume. The women wear their waists very short, their bosoms much exposed, and their head-dresses and naked arms covered with a profusion of sparkling stonesnote, which are of little value here; the ladies, however, as well as the men, seem to prefer attiring themselves a la mode d'Angleterre, when it is in their power. An English milliner who stopped here, on her way to India, performed greater metamorphoses on the external form of


  ― (60) ―
some young ladies, that can be equalled in the pages of Ovidnote. The features of the females can in no instance that I saw, claim the title of beautiful, and even very few deserve the epithet of pretty: however, their black eyes, large, full, and sparkling, give a degree of brilliancy to their dark complexions, and throw some expression into their countenances; but it is too generally the mere expression of animal vivacity,


  ― (61) ―
untempered by the soft chastising power of tender sensibility. Their eyebrows are finely arched; their eye lashes long and silken; their hair is long, black, and coarsely luxuriant; and if we may judge from the frequent application of the fingers, is not always without inhabitants. In their persons, they are unacquainted with that delicate properte, from which our countrywomen derive so large a portion of their power over the other sex, and for which they are conspicuous over all the nations of Europe. Among other habits of the Brasilian ladies, which, separately considered, are perhaps trifling, but when combined, form a powerful opposition to the empire of female charms, is that of continually spitting, without regard either to manner, time, or place.




  ― (62) ―

The young ladies who are educated in the Convents, are permitted to converse even with strangers at the gate, and often shewed their partiality for our countrymen, by the interchange of pocket-handkerchiefs and other trifles. There is something so interesting in the silvery tones of a secluded damsel, when two rows of iron bars intervene to prevent a near approach, something so Pyramus and Thisbenote like, that the heart of a true-born Englishman cannot fail being captivated.

“Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,” and while he repeats the swelling names of Magdelina, Antonia,


  ― (63) ―
or Seraphina, he depracates the hell-invented barrier, that precludes him from imprinting the impassioned kiss on the hand of the sweetly pensive recluse. For the encouragement of my enamoured countrymen, who might otherwise give way to despondency, and pine in hopeless love, I cannot help informing them, that the iron bars of the convents are not quite so hard as adamant, nor the walls so high as to render an escalade impracticable; and that the watchful eye of the dragon, who guards the Hesperian fruit, has more than once been eluded by British ingenuity, or lulled to sleep by Brasilian gold.

The custom of dropping bouquets upon the heads of passengers, as signals


  ― (64) ―
to assignation, is no longer to be found at Rio, and as we have no reason to doubt the veracity of the gentlemennote who were thus favoured, we ought not to pass over this alteration in the manners of the Brasilian women, without endeavouring to account for it. Former travellers have always complained of the difficulty they found in even getting a transient view of women of condition; this is, however, far from being the case at present: indeed, we generally found the manners of the ladies, (particularly the unmarried ones) approaching nearer to the easy familiarity of the English, than to the prudish reserve which is said to be the exterior characteristic of Portuguese females. As the manners of a people improve,


  ― (65) ―
jealous restraints give way to delicate attentions towards the females: men begin to place confidence in women; and the latter feeling their own importance, soon acquire that proper pride which is the great support of female virtue; and enjoying the liberty of doing as they choose, they think only of doing as they ought. Thus secret assignations become less necessary, as jealousy and scandal cease to fetter the social intercourse of the sexes; for experience proves the truth of the remark, that virtue will ever be displeasing, when she exhibits herself only in the disguise of harshness, caprice, or some other replusive quality.

In music and singing the Brasilians of both sexes may be said to excel. These are arts peculiarly congenial to luxurious


  ― (66) ―
climates, for there the wants of man, being supplied by nature almost spontaneously, he has leisure to cultivate the soft impressions which the surrounding scenery creates, and by observing the harmonies of nature, he becomes a poet and musician. Dancing is a very favourite amusement, in which the ladies perform with extraordinary grace; besides national and English country dances, the native dance of the Indians is sometimes performed, the figures and motions of which are very little superior, in point of delicacy, to those of the Otaheitean timoradee.

The estimated proportion of the sexes at Rio is eleven women to two men; this may be attribured to physical as well as moral causes; for it is a demonstrable


  ― (67) ―
fact, that in warm climates more females are born than malesnote; and secondly, the females leading a life of seclusion and temperance, and employed only in domestic offices, are entirely free from the dangers, and but little subject to the diseases which destroy the other sex. While the men are occupied in the hazardous pursuit of honour or of fortune in distant countries, from whence they are often doomed never to return, the women are born and die without ever quitting their paternal roof.

In the females of Brasil, as well as of other countries in the torid zone, there


  ― (68) ―
is no resting time between the periods of perfection and decline; like the delicate fruits of the soil, the genial warmth of the sun forces them to a premature ripeness, and after a momentary bloom sinks them towards decay: at fourteen they become mothers, at sixteen the blossoms of their beauty are full blown, and at twenty they are withered like the faded rose in autumn. Thus the lives of three of these daughters of the sun are scarce equal to that of one European; among the former the period of their bodily perfections far precedes that of their mental ones, in the latter they accompany each other hand in hand. These principles, doubtless, influenced the wise law-givers of the East in their permission of polygamy; for, in the torrid zone, should a man be circumscriced to one wife, he must pass


  ― (69) ―
nearly two thirds of his days united to a disgusting mummy, useless to society, else the depravity of human nature, joined to the irritation of unsatisfied passions, would lead him to get rid of the incumberance by clandestine means. This confinement to a single wife, in the European settlements of Asia and America, is one of the principal causes of the unbounded licentiousness in the men, and the spirit of intrigue in the women. In the Brasils, the licentious intercourse of the sexes perhaps equals what we are told prevailed in the most degenerate period of Imperial Rome. The primary cause of this general corruption of manners, must be referred to climate, which acts forcibly in giving strength to the physical properties of love. In proportion as the passion for enjoyment is excited,


  ― (70) ―
the fear of losing the object which confers it is increased, and hence proceeds the constitutional jealousy of men in warm climates. In the Brasils, the moment a girl is betrothed she becomes subject to all the restraints imposed by this rankling passion; and should the absence of her intended husband be unavoidable, previous to the nuptial ceremony, he often causes her to be immured within the walls of a convent till his return. By such suspicions he too often creates the evil he complains of, and then punishes the crime he has provoked; and while he thus becomes the arbiter of his own fate, he accuses Nature of causing all his sufferings. Unmarried females, being allowed much greater liberties than wives, are by no means anxious to be married, and consequently


  ― (71) ―
neglect all those minute delicacies in their common intercourse with the other sex, which forms the basis of mutual love, considered as a refined passion. But the climate operating upon the fair sex more forcibly in proportion to their superior delicacy of organization, enervates the system, and induces a kind of restless indolence, to which is attached a boundless desire for variety, when it can be procured without much exertion: hence, while the mind is lulled into inactivity, and the eye of prudence sleeps, the bosom is “tremblingly alive” to the soft sensations of love, and the bulwarks of female innocence lie exposed and defenceless to the attacks of the watchful seducer. The public opinion is not, however, so depraved as to sanction this laxity of morals, and hence pregnancy is


  ― (72) ―
too often concealed by procuring abortion, which repeated, perhaps, several times, assists in bringing on a premature old age, and sinks the victim to the grave loaded with guilt and disease.

Quod neque in Armeniis tigres secere latebris
Perdere nec foetus ausa Leaena suos.
At tenerae faciunt, sed non impune puellae
Saepe, suos utero quae necat, ipsa perit.

   Ovid. Amor. l. 2.

The punishment of adultery is transportation of both the offenders to different places on the coast of Africa; but the injured hufband may revenge himself by the instant death of both parties, if he finds them, “nudus cum nuda, solus cum sola.”

The city of St. Sebastian, from being surrounded by hills, which prevent the free circulation of air, is more unhealthy


  ― (73) ―
than the other settlements on the coast; and the dirty customs of the inhabitants tend to increase the defects of situation. The diseases most prevalent are fevers, dysentry, and hydrocele. Fevers, if not entirely generated, are undoubtedly multiplied by the noxious effluvia arising from the unremoved filth in the streets; for here the windows give a nightly exit to all the vile accumulation of the daynote. Dysentries may probably proceed from their method of living, or their common kinds of food, of which fish, fruit, and sweetmeats, form the principal articles. The chief animal


  ― (74) ―
food of the lower-class is salted pork not half cured, or jerked beef, both brought from Rio Grande; and their beverage is a deleterious and ardent spirit, which from its cheapness comes within the reach of their scanty finances. The causes of the hydrocele, which often renders those afflicted with it the most pitiable objects, may, perhaps, with equal reason, be traced to themselves; for by the continual use of tepid baths, they increase the naturally great relaxation, which pervades the system in a warm climate. In our English settlements, where cold bathing is daily practised, such a disease is almost unknownnote. During the winter the thermometer seldom rises above 74°, and sometimes falls


  ― (75) ―
to 65°. At this season heavy dews descend during the night, and the mornings are enveloped in thick fogs, but soon

——— The potent sun
Melts into limpid air the high rais'd clouds,
And morning fogs that hover'd round the hills,
In party colour'd bands,

leaving the atmosphere pure and serene. The land and sea breezes are tolerably regular: the former commences towards morning, and is commonly very light. The sea breeze may be seen curling the surface of the ocean at noon, but it seldom reaches the town before two o'clock: it is generally moderate, cool, and refreshing.

The Creoles, at this season, seem to feel all the effects of rigorous cold;


  ― (76) ―
while we were melting in the lightest clothing, they muffled themselves up in their cloaks, and sat shivering, with their doors and windows closed. The rainy season commences in August; and for six weeks or two months, a continual torrent pours down, with a close and suffocating atmosphere. To the rains succeed the dry and parching months of November and December, when the Creoles are again re-animated; and awakened by the ardent blaze of the sun, from the lethargic torpidity of winter, renew their occupations or amusements.




  ― (77) ―

Chap. III.

Rio Janeiro.—Productions, Trade.—Slaves, Indians.— Police and Court of Justice.—State of Defence.—Political Situation.

THE chief vegetable productions of the district of Rio de Janeiro are sugar, coffee, cotton, cocoa, tobacco, and indigo; of these, sugar is alone indigenous, and was found growing wild by the first colonists. The tobacco raised in the Brasils is consumed there in segars and snuff; and the cultivation of indigo has been much neglected, since the East Indian indigo has rivalled it in the European


  ― (78) ―
markets. The soil is every where so rich, that it requires all the labour of the farmer to check the too luxuriant vegetation, and keep the ground free from brush-wood and shrubs; a few months' neglect covers the soil with a tangled under-wood, bound together and rendered impenetrable by creeping vines. Twelve different kinds of oranges are cultivated here, and all other tropical fruits grow almost spontaneously; the soil has also been found friendly to the spices of the East, and pepper is already cultivated with some success; in short,

Whatever blooms in torrid tracks appear,
Whose bright succession decks the varied year,
These here disporting own the kindred soil,
Nor ask luxuriance from the planter's toil.

The horses of Brasil are small, and incapable of much labour; in the interior


  ― (79) ―
they run wild in vast droves, and are of so little value, that they are merely caught to perform a journey; and when tired, or the journey is over, are again turned loose. The mules, which graze in flocks about the town, are the chief beasts of burthen, and are particularly adapted to the precipices of the country. Oxen are brought in from Rio Grande, where they are worth about eight shillings each, and where they are slaughtered merely for their hides and tallow; on their arrival at Rio Janeiro, though wretchedly impoverished by the journey, they are sold for fifty shillings to four pounds a-head. The farms are fenced by lime-bushes and oranges-trees, intermixed with various flowering shrubs, equally beautiful and aromatic. At night, the trees appear


  ― (80) ―
illuminated by myriads of fire-flies, which play among the branches, for here

———On every hedge
The glow-worm lights his gem, and through the dark
A moving radiance twinkles.

The district of the mines commences about sixty miles from Rio; their produce is conveyed thither on mules, escorted by detachments of cavalry, of which there is a regiment stationed at Minas, the Capital, which is said to be large and populous; this province extends to the borders of the Spanish settlements in Paraguay. The journey to Matto Grosso, the farthest Portuguese station, is by Rio Grande, and is said to take up to six months in contending against the stream, but the return is made in about three months; from


  ― (81) ―
hence comes the sarsaparilla and balsam copaiba. The most minute precautions are taken to prevent the concealment of diamonds, by persons of every description coming from the mines; they are not only stripped naked, and minutely searched, but even their horses and mules are purged: this strict scrutiny sets ingenuity to work to evade it, and the attempts are often successful. A Friar coming from the mines has been known to conceal three superb diamonds, in the waxen figure of the Virgin, which he carried in his pocket; the superstition of his examiners held the divine Image sacred, and kissing it with greater devotion, than they would probably have felt for the lovliest female of mere


  ― (82) ―
flesh and blood, returned it to the holy Father unexamined.

The King's tenth of the gold is taken from the ore at the smelting-house, where it is cast into ingots, which are stamped, and then become a legal tender in payments; if the owner wishes to have it coined, it pays two and a half per cent at the mint. The colonial gold currency is in pieces of four millres, or twenty-five shillings sterling; these are greatly alloyed, to prevent their exportation from the Colony. Most of the gold sent to Portugal is coined into half joes (2l.); and the exportation of uncoined gold is forbidden, upon pain of transportation for life to the coast of Guinea.




  ― (83) ―

The Viceroy's salary is only about 2,600l. a-year, but, by perquisites, his usual income amounts to between 15 and 20,000l.: these arrive chiefly from the sale of offices, which are all invested in the Viceroy, and of which he is said commonly to retain the third part of the annual profits. His office properly lasts only three years, but he is generally continued until he has realized a handsome fortune, for it is usually the poor Grandees who are appointed to this lucrative government. The present Viceroy is of the family of Valencia, and related to the throne of Portugal, by the house of Braganza; he is a man of information, liberal and polite in his manners, and apparently attached to the English nation. The vice-regal state is by no means equal to


  ― (84) ―
that of our Indian Governor-General, though their supposed incomes are nearly the same.

That jealousy of foreigners which prevailed at Rio de Janeiro some years ago, appears no longer to exist. We always found ourselves at perfect liberty to make excursions as far as we chose, either on foot, or on horseback, unattended by any guard. This indulgence however, appears to proceed from the liberal sentiments of the Viceroy, and was only extended to officers in the King's service; and as the regulations respecting foreigners are not abrogated, they may be at any time put into execution with all their force. Upon the eastern side of the harbour, we were allowed to cut brooms, and wander


  ― (85) ―
over the country in quest of game, without meeting the most distant interruption. Here, had any of us note possessed botanical knowledge, or taste, we might have been abundantly gratified by the examination of plants, “beyond the power of Botanist to number up their tribes.”

The improvement of the district of Rio de Janeiro, though it certainly does not equal what it might have been, if colonised by a nation of more persevering industry, may be looked on as rapid, under the torpidity of Portuguese indolence. Portugal has, however, possessed great advantages above all other nations of Europe, who have


  ― (86) ―
colonized America, in having factories on the opposite coast of Africa, whence her colonists procure an easy, and continual supply of slaves. The mother-country is so jealous of the rivalship of the Colonies, that the introduction of the most trifling manufactures is forbidden; the casting bells for the churches, in particular, is laid under severe penalties, lest the colonists should one day learn, that bells and cannon might be made from the same materials.

None but professed merchants ever think of turning their money to any account, by interest, &c.: many old misers are known to have very large sums lying dead in their coffers, which, for want of banks, they keep in their own houses,


  ― (87) ―
and live upon the wages of their slaves. The trade of Rio de Janeiro, although it has to contend with monopolies, prohibitions, and a heavy duty of ten per cent, but above all, with the unconquerable indolence of the Portuguese, is by no means trifling, and is annually increasing. It is confined entirely to the mother-country, a direct trade with foreigners, or by foreign ships, being strictly prohibited. The fleets employed in the commerce of Brazil, are confined to the ports of Lisbon and Oporto, whence they sail and return annually, in three fleets; the great disadvantage of this method, however, begins to be seen by the merchants, and single ships are at present allowed to sail from Europe, without confinement to any particular season. All foreign


  ― (88) ―
vessels attempting to trade on the coast, are liable to confiscation; and a ship of the line, and two brigs of war are stationed at Rio, to support these commercial regulations.

The annual exports from the port of Rio Janeiro, are, from good authority, said to be as follows:




  ― (89) ―

                             
Exports.  Quantity.  Price at Rio  Total value. 
Sugar  13,000 chests of 15,00 cwt. each.  4d. per lb.  £325,000 
Rumnote   5,000 leaguers of 150 galls. each.  15d. per gall.  46,875 
Coffeenote   800,000 lb. wt.  6d. per lb.  40,000 
Gold  400,000 half joes  2l. each  800,000 
Silvernote   700,000 Spanish dollars  5s. each  175,000 
Raw Hidesnote   3,000 tons  —  90,000 
Rice  500 tons  25l. a ton  7,500 
Cotton  800 tons  1s. per lb.  89,600 
Indigo  trifling, perhaps  —  10,000 
Cochinealnote  
Cocoanote   variable, perhaps  about  30,000 
Dye wood 
Drugs 
Total value of Exports, £1,613,975 

About fifty ships, from three hundred to eight hundred tons each, sail annually from this port to Europe: these


  ― (90) ―
vessels are mostly built in the Brasils, the timber of which is said to equal the oak in durability. The imports are woollens, printed cottons, hard ware, cutlery, and wines, and generally, all the articles necessary to the domestic economy of Europeans. The trade with Africa employs twenty-five ships, from one hundred and fifty to four hundred tons, who, in return for rum, gunpowder, arms, coarse cottons, and trinkets, import slaves, wax, and ivory, the latter of which, is re-exported to Europe. Corn and flour are brought from Rio Grande: one hundred and thirty vessels, from fifty to one hundred tons, are constantly employed in this trade, and in smuggling from the Spanish settlements; for the Spanish government at home, equally jealous with the Portuguese,


  ― (91) ―
strictly prohibits all foreign communication with its American colonies; hence arsies (by the mutual connivance of the colonial governments) an extensive contraband trade, which, while it enriches individuals, diminishes the public revenue of both countriesnote.

Every article of merchandize, or consumption, whether the produce of the colony, or imported, pays to the crown a tenth part of its value, previous to its being exposed for sale. These duties


  ― (92) ―
are generally farmed; and that on fish alone produces 18,000 crowns annually. The farmers of the revenue are authorized to demand the assistance of the military, if any resistance is made to its collection. The whole amount of revenue raised in the district of Rio Janeiro, is nearly four millions sterling.

The annual importation of negro slaves, is said to amount to between ten and twelve thousand; their value is thus estimated: a full grown man 40l., a woman 32l., a boy 20l.; their value is much increased, by their having had the small-pox. The food of the slaves, is Cassada bread, and Indian corn roasted, and on the sea-coast some fish. In the country, the owners are at no expence for their diet: they allot


  ― (93) ―
them a small piece of land, and a day in the week to cultivate it, and from it they are obliged to derive a subsistence for themselves and families. The plantation negroes are entirely naked; but in the towns, their owners have more regard to decency.

On the importation of a cargo of negroes, they are christened previous to their sale; for this purpose, they are marched to a church-yard, and separated into as many groups, as there are different names to be given: the priest standing in the middle of each group, flourishes a broom dipped in holy-water over their heads, until they are all well sprinkled, and, at the same time, bawls out to them, what their name is to be.




  ― (94) ―

Most of the imported negroes are sent to the mines to replace those who have fallen victims to their insalubrious atmosphere; many of them die shortly after their arrival, from change of climate and food, and a few from mental despondency, which is here degraded by the name of sulkiness. Arguing from the experience of two centuries, we shall be almost induced to adopt the opinion of Voltaire, that a physical cause can alone produce so extraordinary an effect, as an immense tribe kept in a state of the most abject slavery by a handful of foreigners, not amounting to the tenth part of their own numbers. All the false reasoning upon this subject may be deduced from this fallacious maxim, “that to judge correctly of the feelings of others, we should suppose ourselves in


  ― (95) ―
their situations;” but by placing ourselves thus, we do not judge of their feelings but of our own, and assume for granted what is contrary to nature, that man is every where the same. We do not consider that what to our constitutional energies and cultivated minds would appear the acme of misery, may, to others of a different temperament, be a state of comparative enjoyment; for the perceptions of every individual being, create a standard of happiness in his own mind, and nature has given to no two the same capacity of enjoyment. If the negro inherited from nature the intellectual capacity of the Europeans, why have we not seen him improve in the arts of civilization, by the force of natural ingenuity, or, at least, by the adoption of some of the knowledge of the latter, Here it


  ― (96) ―
may be said, that his tyrannical masters deny him the means of acquiring that knowledge; but to answer this objection we need only enquire by what means many other people arose from barbarism, and we shall find ourselves obliged to trace back the road of improvement to original genius. The leaders of the negroes in St. Domingo may be adduced as instances of brilliant talents and unconquerable spirit in the sons of Africa; but rules are sometimes proved by their exceptions. A civil war, or a revolution in a state, opens an unbounded theatre for the exhibition of talents, and gives to native genius the power of distinguishing itself: we accordingly see it rising superior to all obstacles from want of education or political oppression. In the tumults of the


  ― (97) ―
West Indies, a few leaders may be found, who appear among their countrymen, a kind of lusus naturae, that more forcibly point out their general degradation; in fine, we may as well affirm, that education would give to the cart-horse the spirit of a courser, or to the cur the sagacity of the hound, as that it would give to the negro the talents and abilities of the European. But though nature may deny to the sons of Africa the degree of mental light which illuminates the western world, she has not totally forbidden them a participation in its benign influence. Nature surely never intended to create,

——Wretches born to work and weep
Explore the mine,

or, in short, to become the absolute property of other men; though she has not


  ― (98) ―
raised them to the standard of man in temperate climates, neither has she sunk them to the level of brutes; hence, although they are fitted to be more easily reduced to a state of subjection, they are not absolutely incapable of understanding the value of liberty, or ignorant of the means of both aquiring and preserving it. The negro is not always devoid of that courage and fortitude, that marks the superiority of his European tyrant: he suffers pain with the most stoical indifference, and often dares his master to punish him by inflicting tortures on himself. Many negroes retreat to the fastnesses in the mountains, where they form a body of implacable marauders, and warm with revenge, commit unceasing depradations upon the neighbouring farmers.




  ― (99) ―

A short time previous to our arrival, an instance of heroism was exemplified in a native negro, for which ancient Rome would have erected him a statue next to that of Virginius; and although my pen is greatly incapable of doing justice to the story, it would be still greater injustice to suppress it.

The law obliges a master to give freedom to his slave, if the latter can procure the sum, at which he may be fairly estimated; and this is almost the only boon granted to this degraded race.

Senor D. was a wealthy planter in the district of the mines, and among his numerous slaves was one called Hanno, who had been born on the estate, and whose ingenuity had increased his value


  ― (100) ―
much beyond that of his fellows. Scarce had Hanno arrived at that age when every zephyr seems the sigh of love, ere his fondest wishes centered on Zelida, a young female of his own age, and a slave to the same master; in her his partial eye perceived all that was beautiful in person, or amiable in mind; the passion was mutual, it had “grown with their growth, and strengthened with their strength;” but Hanno, though a slave, possessed the feelings of a man, and his generous soul revolted at the idea of entailing that slavery upon his children, which was the only birth-right he inherited from his fathers. His mind was energetic, and his resolutions immutable: while he fulfilled his daily task, and was distinguished for his diligence and fidelity, he was enabled, by extra labour and the


  ― (101) ―
utmost frugality, to lay by something, without defrauding his master of his time; and at the end of seven years, his savings amounted to the estimated value of a female slave. Time had not altered his passion for Zelida, and they were united by the simple and unartificial bonds of mutual love. The absence of Senor D. for two years prevented the accomplishment of Hanno's first wishes, the purchase of Zelida's freedom, and in that time she had presented him with a boy and a girl. Though slaves from their birth, Hanno was not chagrined, for he had now added to his hoard a sufficient sum to purchase their liberty likewise. On the return of Senor D. Hanno anxiously demanded a compliance with the law, but well aware of his master's sordid avarice, cautiously affirmed,


  ― (102) ―
that a kind friend was to advance him the money. Senor D. agreed to receive the price, and a day was fixed to execute the deeds before a magistrate. On that day Hanno fled upon the wings of hope to his master's house, while it may be supposed the most heartfelt joy animated his bosom, on the prospect of giving immediate liberty to those his soul doated on. He tendered the gold—it was seized as the stolen property of Senor D.; and Hanno being unable to bring forward the supposed lender, was condemned, and the cruelty of his master was exhausted in superintending his punishment. Still bleeding from the scourge, he returned to his hut, which, though the residence of slavery, had till now been cheered by the benign influence of love and hope. He found his


  ― (103) ―
wife suckling her infant daughter, while his son, yet unable to walk, was amusing her with his playful gambols upon the bare earth. Without answering Zelida's anxious enquiries, he thus addressed her: “To procure your liberty, more dear to me than my own, I have, since the moment of our acquaintance, deprived myself of every comfort my state of bondage allows; for that perpose, I have laboured during those permitted hours of relaxation, which my fellows have employed in amusements; I have curtailed my scanty meal of cassada, I have sold my morsel of tobacconote, and I have gone naked amidst the burning heats of summer, and the


  ― (104) ―
pinching colds of winternote. I had accomplished the object of all my cares, and all my deprivations, and this morning I tendered to your owner the price of your liberty, and that of your children; but when the deed was to be ratified before the magistrate, he seized it as his own, and accusing me of robbery, inflicted the punishment of a crime my soul detests. My efforts to procure your liberty are abortive; the fruits of my industry, like the labours of the silkworm, are gone to feed the luxury of our tyrant; the blossoms of hope are for ever blighted, and the wretched Hanno's cup of misery is full. Yet, a


  ― (105) ―
way, a sure, but dreadful way remains, to free you, my wife, from the scourge of tyranny, or the violation of lust, and to rescue you, my children, from the hands of an unfeeling monster, and from a life of unceasing wretchedness.” Then seizing a knife, he plunged it into the bosom of his wife, and while reeking with her blood, buried it in the hearts of his children. When seized and interrogated, he answered with a manly tone of firmness, “I killed my wife and children to shorten a miserable existence in bondage, but I spared my own life to shew my brutal tyrant how easy it is to escape from his power, and how little the soul of a negro fears death or torment. I expect to suffer the utmost tortures that your cruelty can devise, but pain I despise thus, (staking his arm


  ― (106) ―
on an iron spike, and tearing it through the flesh,) and death I desire, that I may rejoin my wife and children, who have, ere this, a habitation prepared for me in the land of our forefathers, where no cruel white man is permitted to enter.” Even the proud apathy of the Portuguese was roused by this appeal to their feelings; the slave was pardoned and granted his freedom; Senor D. severely fined, and the unworthy magistrate, who seconded his villany, degraded from his office. I trust this digression will plead its own excuse, and shall conclude it with the hope, that the time is not far distant,

Till the freed Indians, in their native groves,
Reap their own fruits, and woo their sable loves.

The new negroes have an idea, that their priests can render them invulnerable


  ― (107) ―
to the weapons of their enemies; and hence arise the most bloody contests between the different tribes, which the severest punishments cannot suppress. National hatred is one of the strongest principles in the minds of the ignorant, and a real John Bull as heartily despises a Frenchman when fellow-prisoner as when at liberty.

The native Indians in the district of Rio Janeiro are few; the Portuguese accuse them of aversion to any kind of labour, and only employ them on the water as boatmen. They are declared by government entirely free, and their conversion to Christianity is strictly ordered to be attempted by persuation alone. The missionaries are numerous, and have so far succeeded in their spiritual


  ― (108) ―
labours, that several towns of baptised Indians are established in the district of the mines.

The harbour of Rio Janeiro is well defended by forts and batteries on every commanding position, which are garrisoned by about 4,000 regular troops, who make a very respectable appearance, and seem to be extremely well disciplined. The whites of every description, amounting to 10,000, are enrolled in a militia, and exercised once a month. From this motley group, however, little service could be expected in the hour of attack, and we might justly exclaim,

'Twas not the spawn of such as these
That dar'd the elements on pathless seas,
And made proud Asian monarchs feel
How weak their gold was against Europe's steel;
But soldiers of another mould,
Rough, hardy, season'd, manly, bold.




  ― (109) ―

With respect to the political relations of the colony and the mother-country, we may safely assert, that the bonds of dependence have been drawn so tight that they are almost ready to break. The restraints on trade, the income-tax of ten per cent. levied with the greatest rigour, (a tax unknown in the English colonies,) and the venality of those in office, are glaring evils, which absolute mental blindness could alone prevent the Brasilians from seeing. The spirit of discontent, which had been long silently fermenting, openly shewed itself a few months ago, upon an attempt to introduce a stamp act into the colony: this measure met with universal resistance from the colonists, who, to avoid the penalties arising from non-compliance, transacted all their money concerns


  ― (110) ―
viva voce, and upon honournote. Should the irritated colonists be driven to extremities, the mother-country will probably find too late, that though a disease at its commencement may be removed by gentle remedies, it will, by neglect, soon grow too powerful for the most desperate. The spirit of revolution which, like the element of fire, seems to pervade the habitable globe, at the present moment, is rapidly gaining strength in these trans-atlantic regions. The philosophy of Helvetius, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Volney, has here its admirers and supporters, who only wait the favourable moment to kindle the latent sparks into flame. These principles are chiefly circulated and extended by a masonic society; which neither the despotic


  ― (111) ―
power of the civil government, nor the denunciations of the church, have been able to suppress or control. In 1803, this society consisted only of twenty-five brethren; in 1804, their numbers have increased to one hundred. Several officers of the inquisition have been sent from Portugal, to suppress it, but without effect; and the presence of these spiritual jackalls, creates but little uneasiness, as they possess no temporal authority, and can only send the culprits to Europe upon proof of their guilt. The French republic, which seems to neglect no means of revolutionising every part of the globe, and to which force and intrigue are indifferent in this pursuit, have not forgotten the Brasils, where their emissaries are sufficiently active in their cause of anarchy


  ― (112) ―
and confusion. The mother-country, aware of the slippery tenure by which the colony is held, with all the fears of a weak despot, prohibits the erection of a printing-press.

Should the Brasils revolt from their allegiance to the parent state, which in the course of national events is by no means improbable, and to which present appearances would authorize the fixing no very distant period; the immense regions of Spanish America will doubtless pursue the same steps. This region of the globe appears, from its geographical position, to be peculiarly adapted to the growth of powerful states; while its natural divisions, and external aspects, are eminently favourable to the preservation of liberty: for though, in its extent,


  ― (113) ―
it occupies the whole of the torrid zone, from its great elevation it enjoys a more temperate climate than the southern provinces of Europe, and is consequently more congenial to freedom. Had South America been colonized by a northern people, who would have cherished the freedom they conveyed thither, it would have at this day presented a very different appearance.




  ― (115) ―

Chap. IV.

From Rio Janeiro to the Cape of Good Hope.—Islands of Tristan d, Acunha.—Cape Town.—Simmon's Town.— Dutch.—Departure from the Cape.—Island of St. Paul.—Arrival at Port Philip.

1803, July. ON quitting the American coast under the tropic of Capricorn, the seaman takes leave of summer seas and gentle breezes for the rest of his voyage through the southern hemisphere; his care then consists in preparing his vessel to encounter the turbulent elements he is to meet with. But the storm which terrifies the landman into repentance, and vows of amendment, is welcomed by the experienced sailor, as expediting his passage; for he never considers how strong the wind is, while it continues


  ― (116) ―
fair, and his bark is able to run before it; or, if it is foul, he consoles himself from day to day with the certainty, that the longer it has continued so, the nearer it is to a change. At this season the prevailing winds, south of the parallel of 36° S. are westerly, which often blow with unabated violence for months together. The southern polar ices, which in summer are often found floating in large detached islands, as far as the latitude of 37°, are in the winter bound together or chained to the Antarctic rocks, and thus they withstand the force of the winds and currents; their neighbourhood is, however, evinced by the degree of cold which gradually increases from the tropic, till in the latitude of 40°, where the thermometer falls to 50°, with showers of sleet and hail.




  ― (117) ―

Quitting Rio Janeiro the 19th of July, with the wind at E. N. E. we shaped our course to the southward, in order to get into the region of westerly winds, which came on gradually till they fixed in strong N. W. gales. It was now found impossible to keep company with the Ocean, without running under bare poles, which strained the ship violently, and we therefore parted company near the Islands of Tristan d'Acunha; the largest of which we made on the 2d of August. The preceeding evening it had blown a heavy gale, with a mountainous sea; but as we approached the island, the wind moderated to a fine breeze, the billows subsided, and the clouds clearing away, shewed the full-moon suspended in the clearest ether: by her friendly light, at about four o'clock we saw the


  ― (118) ―
land, at six leagues distance. As the dawn arose, the horizon becoming hazing, concealed it from our sight; but at sun-rise, the vapours again dispersing, left us a clear view of it till noon, when it was fourteen leagues distant.

The effect which the sight of the smallest spot of land, or even a bare uninhabited rock, has in breaking the tedious monotony of a long sea voyage, is easier felt than described. After passing a long succession of weary hours, with no other objects of contemplation than a world of waters, bounded only by the extent of vision, where it unites with the world of clouds, the sight of land acts like a talisman, and instantaneously transports us into the fairy regions of imagination. We compare the spot we


  ― (119) ―
are viewing with one rendered inestimably dear to us, by the remembrance of its beloved objects, and the tender recollection of past happiness. We pass over, as points in time or space, the years or seas that separate us; and by a cherished delusion, find ourselves arrived at the moment of re-union, cheered by the embrace of friendship, or locked in the arms of love and beauty.

The Island of Tristan d'Acunha, and the circumstances attending our view of it, brought forcibly to mind the beautiful apostrophe to Hope in Mr. Campbel's poem.

Angel of life, thy glitt'ring wings explore
Earth's lonliest bounds, and ocean's wildest shore.
Lo! to the wintry winds the pilot yields
His bark careering o'er unfathom'd fields.
Now on Atlantic waves he rides afar,
Where Andes, giant of the western star,



  ― (120) ―
With meteor standard to the winds unfurl'd,
Looks from his throne of clouds o'er half the world.
Now far he sweeps, where scarce a summer smiles
On Behrring's rocks, or Greenland's naked isles;
Cold on his midnight watch, the breezes blow
From wastes that slumber in eternal snow;
And waft across the waves' tumultuous roar,
The Wolf's long from AEonalaska's shore.

Poor child of danger, nursling of the storm,
Sad are the woes that wreck thy manly form;
Rocks, waves, and winds, the shatter'd bark delay,
Thy heart is sad, thy home is far away.

But hope can here her moon-light vigils keep,
And sing to charm the spirit of the deep;
Swift as yon streamer lights the stary pole,
Her visions warm the watchman's pensive soul.
His native hills, that rise in happier climes,
The grot that heard his song of other times,
His cottage home, his bark of slender sail,
His glassy lake, and broom-wood blossom'd vale,
Rush on his thought; he sweeps before the wind,
Treads the lov'd shore he sigh'd to leave behind,
Meets at each step a friend's familiar face,
And flies at last to Helen's long embrace,
Wipes from her cheek the rapture speaking tear,
And clasps with many a sigh his children dear!



  ― (121) ―
While long neglected, but at length caress'd,
His faithful dog salutes the smiling guest,
Points to his master's eyes where'er they roam
His wistful face, and whines a welcome home.

These islands were discovered by the Portuguese in their first voyages towards the Cape of Good Hope; they are three in number, the largest being that which we passed at the distance of two miles; it is almost bare of vegetation, but in one small spot on the north side, from whence a stream of water was observed precipitating itself into the sea: except in this place the north side of the island rises abruptly to a peak, the summit of which was at this time veiled by the cloudsnote. These islands abound in sea-elephants,


  ― (122) ―
whose oil is more valuable than that of any other amphibious animal; and their tongues, when salted, affords no despicable resource in a scarcity of provisionsnote.

From Tristan d'Acunha a short run of eleven days brought us off the Cape of Good Hope, which we were in hopes of passing with a continuance of our favourable wind; in this, however, we were disappointed, as it suddenly veered to the S. E. and obliged us to run to the


  ― (123) ―
northward and make the land. Upon mature deliberation it was thought better, under these circumstances, to run into the Cape, than endanger the present high health of the ship's company and convicts, by keeping the sea in this stormy season; and we accordingly cast anchor in Simmon's bay.

So much has already been written of the Cape of Good Hope, by travellers of every description, that little remains to be gleaned by the most piercing observation. Different persons, however, view the same objects in different points of view, according to variety of disposition, or the temper of the moment; and what may escape the general observer in the wild field of nature, or be deemed too trifling for the philisophic enquirer,


  ― (124) ―
falls to the lot of the humble gleaner; and it is, indeed, by minute and familiar description alone, that we can point out to others the scenes that we ourselves have viewed.

Cape Town is one of the handsomest colonial towns in the world; the streets, which are wide and perfectly straight, are kept in the highest order, and planted with rows of oaks and firs. The houses are built in a stile of very superior elegance, and inside are in the cleanest and most regular order. They are not, however, sufficiently ventilated, to dissipate the stale fume of tobacco, which is peculiarly offensive to a stranger. The play-house is a neat building, erected by the English, where French and Dutch plays are acted alternately


  ― (125) ―
twice a week by private performers.

The public garden, in which was formerly a menagerie, well stocked with all the curious animals of Africa, was entirely neglected by the English. Within the garden is the government-house, a neat convenient building, without any appearance of grandeur, and perfectly consonant to the plain and frugal manners of the old Batavians. The torrents which descend from the Table-hill in the wet season often overflow the town; to carry the waters off, canals are cut through the principal streets, communicating with the ditch of the fort, and thence with the sea.

Table and False Bay are separated by an isthmus, which has evidently been


  ― (126) ―
covered by the sea at no very remote period, for it is a plain of fine sea-sand mixed with shells, but little elevated above the level of the sea. The S. E. wind, which blows with great fury, forms this sand into hills, which are in some places bare, and in others bound by flowering shrubs, and heaths of various kinds; the distance between the two bays by land is twenty-four miles. Quitting Simmon's town, the road to Muisenbourg (a small post about six miles from it) sometimes runs along the beach which is flat, and on which the sea flows with gentle undulations; at others, it winds round the feet of craggy hills, which are covered with masses of stone suspended almost in air, that seem nodding, and ready to be displaced by the least impulse; even the reverberation of sound, one would


  ― (127) ―
think, might dislodge them. The sides of these hills are covered with heath and shrubs, which throw out blossoms of every colour in the spring, and they abound in deer and other game. Regiments of baboons assemble on them, and, screened behind the impending rocks, roll down the loose masses on the passing traveller; wolves also descend from them in large troops, and “burning for blood; bony, and gaunt, and grim,” seize as their prey the strayed oxen or wandering goats. A few scanty and turbid rills, apparently impregnated with iron, steal down the mountain's sides; but scarce a stream deserving the name of rivulet is to be found here. At Muisenbourg the road crosses a salt lake about half a mile wide, which is always fordable. From hence to within eight miles


  ― (128) ―
of Cape Town, the road lies over a flat heavy sand, where the path is distinguished only by the tracks of waggons; on either side the sand is covered with an innumerable variety of flowering heaths and shrubs, whose blossoms impregnate the air, with the most balmy odours. The remainder of the road to Cape Town is formed of the iron-stone, which abounds here, and is kept in excellent order. Neatly elegant country-houses embellish it on each side, while lofty oaks growing out of the fences, and clumps of firs within them, in some parts, give it the appearance of an English avenue. The entrance into the town is over a down, rising on the left side to the Table mountain, and on the right descending to a fertile valley, with several neat farm-houses and wind-mills scattered


  ― (129) ―
over it. The sides of the hills are variegated with patches of the silver-tree, contrasting their glossy leaves with the brown heath and barren rocks.

The sensations which possessed our minds on entering this beautiful town, fresh from sea, acquired the most vivid colours from contrast. The evening before we were confined to the narrow limits of a ship, surrounded and buffeted by the boisterous waves, and almost beaten down by the torrents of rain, mingled with the continual sprays of the sea; now the loud winds rending the sails, and whistling through the cordage, employed all our exertions to secure our vessel against its utmost fury; now incessant peals of thunder rattling above our heads, while after every vivid


  ― (130) ―
flash the eye felt a temporary suspension of sight, and the mind for a moment shuddered at the doubt of its total extinction, and recollected that a frail plank alone was the barrier between mortal existence and eternity. Now view the contrast in a few short hours; our vessel rides in safety where,

Smooth flow the waves, and zephyrs gently play,

while the danger and the fatigue past are drowned in oblivion; and now we tread the verdant turf, and breathe the balmy atmosphere of odoriferous flowers, while, as we approach the town, parties of equestrian ladies attract our eyes, attended by their beaux, whose happiness we might envy, did not the call of honour, and the voice of patriotism, render us less vulnerable to the


  ― (131) ―
charms of beauty, or the blandishments of love.

Simmon's Town is situated on a small bay of that name, and contains about one hundred and fifty well-built houses; the inhabitants chiefly subsist by supplying ships with refreshments, during the months they are unable to lay in Table Bay. The English built a small block-house, with a battery enbarbet, to the eastward of the town; the post of Muisenbourg has also a small battery, and the beach, in places of easy access, is guarded by a few guns. The road to Muisenbourg has several difficult passes, which might be defended against very superior numbers. A detachment of three hundred troops are stationed at Simmon's Town, who would in the event of an


  ― (132) ―
enemy's landing, retreat to Cape Town, which is garrisoned by three thousand troops, chiefly Swiss, particularly the regiment of Waldeck, which having served under the English banner in the American war, remembers with partiality the food and pay of its old masters, both of which, in the Dutch service, are wretched enough.

The English, during the short period they were masters of the Cape, raised the price of every consumable commodity 200 per cent. but the Dutch government is again endeavouring to reduce things to their former level, and by the strictest economy to make the colony pay its expences. These measures are exceedingly unpopular, and have already caused upwards of one hundred


  ― (133) ―
real or fictitious bankruptcies. Hence the partiality with which the English are viewed here. Their return is openly wished for, even by those who were formerly their greatest foes. In fact, the Dutch government at the Cape, as well as at home, is entirely under French influence; and it is probable that in the boundless ambition of the Corsican usurper, he considers the Cape of Good Hope as one of the steps by which he intends to mount the Asiatic thrones.

The Dutch, as well as the English, who have any floating property in the colony, are anxious to remit it to England, and therefore bills bear a premium of from 30 to 35 per cent. for paper money, which is the only currency here, and which rises from 6d. to 100


  ― (134) ―
rix-dollarsnote. A quantity of copper pennies were put into circulation by the English, but finding it difficult to adjust their intrinsic value to the currency of the colony, without confusion on the one hand, or loss to the importers on the other, it was determined to double the nominal value, by which government gained 60 per cent. at the same time their private importation was made penal.

In Simmon's bay the water is supplied to ships by cocks, at a wharf where boats may lay at most times. Firewood is the scarcest article here: this is owing to the parching S. E. winds preventing the growth of timber, except the silver-tree and pollard oak. The


  ― (135) ―
carriage between the two towns is by waggons with fourteen or sixteen horses, the hire of which is thirty-five rix-dollars (6l. 2s.); the horses are small, but hardy, and bear much fatigue. Oxen are also used to draw the heavy waggons.

The women of the Cape, when young, are often pretty, but whether from their sendentary lives, or peculiar gross food, in a few years they grow unweildy, and delicacy of shape is sunk beneath a load of fat. Their dress is English, and in this respect the severe sentence of Ovid on the fair sex in general, is particularly applicable to the Cape ladies;

Pars minima est, ipsa puella sui.

The contrast between a gay, attentive, and well-dressed English officer,


  ― (136) ―
and a grumbling, coarse, and phlegmatic Dutchman, was too obvious not to strike the Batavian fair ones, and their partiality was so openly expressed, that our countrymen could not well avoid taking advantage of it, and in pure compassion, preventing them from “wasting their sweetness on the desert air.” But, in this respect, public opinion seems to be at present the only criterion of right and wrong, and as that opinion is entirely governed by the conduct of the majority, such venial trespasses are considered with mutual charity, and the damsel who takes an annual trip to the country for the benefit of mountain air, returns in about two months, and receives the congratulations of her friends upon the restored bloom of her complexion, with the modest


  ― (137) ―
air of a vestal “as chaste as unsunned snow.”

In contemplating the manners and opinions of different nations, we are often apt to attribute to the caprice of the human mind, effects which proceed from natural causes alone, over which man can scarcely be allowed to possess any influence. The cleanliness and industry of the Dutch form a striking contrast with the dirt and indolence of the Portuguese, but are not more opposite than the climates of Holland and Portugal. The religious sentiments of these two nations are not less different than their external manners, and may, perhaps, be ultimately deduced from the same cause. At Rio Janeiro, the lofty spires of innumerable churches arise in


  ― (138) ―
every point of view; the streets are crowded with priests of every denomination and habit; the air continually reverberates the solemn sounds of the cloyster bell, while the harmonious notes of the vesperal hymn, chaunted in slow cadence, breaks the silence of the evening, and forces reverence from the bosom of levity itself. At the Cape of Good Hope, two churches and two clergymen are enough for the inhabitants, and at Simmon's Town there is no trace of the peculiar appropriation of the sabbath to religious duties; all here are employed in making money. Money is the supreme divinity of a Dutchman, for which he would renounce his religion, sell his wife, or betray his friend.

The slaves at the Cape are either Mosambique negroes or Malays from the


  ― (139) ―
eastern Archipelago, and we must do their masters the justice to say, that they are more humane in their treatment of them than any other European nation. When in fear of punishment, the slaves often retire to the Table mountain, and give much trouble to the police.

Having secured the continuance of our people's health, by the daily supply of fresh beef and bread, and having received on board five cows, one bull, and twelve sheep for the new Settlement, we put to sea on the 25th, with a fine breeze from the N. W. to the expected continuance of which we trusted for an expeditious passage to the coast of New Holland, and accordingly steered to the southward, to get into the supposed range of its greatest strength. In these


  ― (140) ―
southern seas, we were continually surrounded by whales, and were even sometimes obliged to alter our course to avoid striking on them. They often visit the bays about the Cape, and while they sport on the surface, the winds and waves carry them so near the beach, that all their exertions are insufficient to extricate themselves, and they perish on the shore. Their blubber is removed and converted into oil by persons who farm this prerogative from government. Flocks of albatrosses, and various kinds of peterals, follow the whales, and feed on the oily substances which they exude.

On quitting the Cape, it was natural for the reflecting mind to recur back to the history of the first adventurous navigators who passed this formidable barrier


  ― (141) ―
to ancient navigation. Comparing our own situation and views with those of De Gama and his followers, we are led to appreciate, as it deserves, their perservering boldness, while our admiration is excited by the progress of human invention and improvement, so peculiarly exemplified in the art of navigation.

The stormy seas which wash the southern promontory of Africa, (to which was then given the appropriate name of “Cap de las Tormentos,”) are despised by the British seamen, whose vessel flies in security before the tempest, and while she “rides on the billows and defies the storm,” he carelessly sings as if unconscious of the warring elements around him. In the revolution of all sublunary


  ― (142) ―
affairs, when the past and the present are alike sunk in the oblivious abyss of time, when De Gama is no more heard of, and a faint tradition alone records the doubtful power and opulence of the British isles, then shall some other transcendent genius arise, who, braving this foaming ocean with equal difficulty and equal glory, shall claim the honour of a first discoverer.

——Venient annis
Secula seris; quibus oceanus
Vincula rerum laxet, et ingens
Pateat tellus, Typhisque novos
Deteget orbes; nec sit terris
Ultima Thule.

   SENECA MEDEA.

Scarce had we cleared the land, ere the favourable wind left us, and veering to the eastward, continued to blow from that quarter for eleven days; but by the


  ― (143) ―
assistance of strong easterly currentsnote, we were enabled to preserve our distance from the land. The constant wet and cold weather which now prevailed, required every care and attention to obviate its evil effects upon the convicts, many of whom, through mere carelessness when in fine weather, were now literally naked; the taylors were, therefore, employed in making up jackets and trowsers, from the materials sent on board for that purpose, which were distributed to those most in want. Slight dysenteries were for some time prevalent, but by the unremitting care of the surgeon, and the most minute attention to keeping the prisons well aired and dry, as well as to the personal cleanliness of the convicts, one man only


  ― (144) ―
fell a victim to this disease. The inclement weather had a more fatal effect on the colonial cattle, three of the heifers dying shortly after we left the Cape.

It was our intention to make the island of St. Paul's, in order to verify our chronometersnote, which were at this


  ― (145) ―
period no less than six degrees a-head of the reckoning, but night having overtaken us, and the wind blowing fresh and fair, we ran past them in the dark; our vicinity was, however, evinced in the morning, by large patches of rock-weed, the leaves of which were very broad, and resembled in shape those of the sycamorenote.




  ― (146) ―

From the island of St. Paul to the Coast of New Holland, the winds were commonly between the N. W. and S. W. and our track was confined to the parallels


  ― (147) ―
of 38° and 39°; with the wind from the northward, we always found the sea remarkably smooth, but when the southerly wind prevailed, the heavy swell, even in light breezes, evinced the long fetch of the waters, and demonstrated the general tempestuous weather in the high southern latitudes. These circumstances alone would be almost sufficient to refute the opinion of a southern continent, did not the voyages of Capt. Cook put it beyond a doubt.

From the longitude of 125° E. the oceanic birds, which before flitted over the waves in vast numbers, began to decrease, and in 137° scarce one was seen. This being the spring of the southern hemisphere, they, doubtless, now retire


  ― (148) ―
to the rocks, to deposit their eggs and raise their young.

On Saturday, October 10th, we at last made King Islandnote, in the entrance of Bass's Straits, which we had anxiously looked out for the two proceeding days; the wind being from the N. E. obliged us to stand within three miles of the island, which through the haze we observed to be moderately high and level, with three sandy hills nearly in the centre. The increasing breeze and lowering sky, which portended a coming gale, prevented our examining the island more minutely. Fortunately we stood off in time to gain a sufficient offing before the gale commenced,


  ― (149) ―
which during the night blew a perfect hurricane between the N. W. and S. W. This night of danger and anxiety, was succeeded by a morning beautifully serene, which shewed us the southern coast of New South Wales. From the total want of information respecting the appearance of the land on this coast, we were doubtful as to our situation, and approached the shore with cautious diffidence; at length the break in the land, which forms the entrance of Port Philip, was observed, but a surf, apparently breaking across itnote, created, at first, some mistrust of its identity, until the man at the mast-head observing


  ― (150) ―
a ship at anchor within, which was soon recognized for the Ocean, removed all doubt, and without farther hesitation we pushed in for the entrance. A fair wind and tide soon carried us through; and in a few minutes we were presented with a picture highly contrasted with the scene we had lately contemplated: an expanse of water bounded in many places only by the horizon, and unruffled as the bosom of unpolluted innocence, presented itself to the charmed eye, which roamed over it in silent admiration. The nearer shores, along which the ship glided at the distance of a mile, afforded the most exquisite scenery, and recalled the idea of “Nature in the world's first spring.” In short, every circumstance combined to impress our minds with the highest satisfaction


  ― (151) ―
for our safe arrival, and in creating those emotions which diffused themselves in thanksgiving to that Almighty Guide, who conducted us through the pathless ocean, to the spot of our destination.




  ― (152) ―



  ― (153) ―

Chap. V.

Transactions at Port Philip from the Arrival to the Sailing of the Calcutta.—Survey of the Port.—Natives.— Communication with Port Jackson.—Determination to remove the Colony.—Examination of Western Port

THE week following our arrival at Port Philip was occupied in searching for an eligible place to fix the settlement. As it was of the first consequence that this should be of easy access to shipping, the shores near the mouth of the port were first examined. Here, to our great mortification, we observed a total want of fresh water, and found the soil so extremely light and sandy as to deny all hopes of successful cultivation. As it was, however, determined


  ― (154) ―
to land the people, a small bay, eight miles from the harbour's mouth, was pitched upon for that purpose, where, by sinking casks, water of a tolerable quantity was procured, and here the camp was pitched; and on the 16th of October, the marines and convicts were landed, while the ships immediately began to discharge their cargoes.

On the first days of our landing, previous to the general debarkation, Capt. Woodriff, Colonel Collins, and the First Lieutenant of the Calcutta had some interviews with the natives who came to the boats entirely unarmed, and without the smallest symptom of apprehension; presents of blankets biscuits &c. were given to them, with which, except in one instance, they departed satisfied and inoffensive.


  ― (155) ―
The wash streak of the boat striking one of their fancies, he seized it and threw it behind some bushes; to shew him the impropriety of this, the blankets which had before been given them were taken away, and they were made to understand, that they would not be restored until the board was brought back by him who conveyed it away: this, after some delay and much reluctance, was at last done.

Though the vicinity of the harbour's mouth afforded no situation calculated for the establishment of the colony, it was naturally expected from the extent of the port, (its extremes being sunk in the horizon,) that convenient spots might be found; and the First Lieutenant of the Calcutta, with two boats, was


  ― (156) ―
directed to ascertain this material point, by as careful a survey of the port as time would permit. From the reports of this survey, made to Capt. Woodriff, the following descriptive particulars are extracted.

Port Philip lies in the bottom of a deep bight between Cape Albany Otway and Point Schank. Coming from the westward, the Port may be known by a single bluff head-land without trees, rising from low land, thickly wooded, about four leagues to the westward of the entrance, to which we gave the name of Whale-head, from its resemblance to that fish. The prevalence of southerly winds renders Port Philip easily accessible, but in the same proportion the egress is difficult, for Point


  ― (157) ―
Schank bearing S. E. and Cape Otway S. W. it is obvious that with the wind at south a ship would not clear either, and the heavy swell that constantly tumbles on the coast between Port Philip and Western Port, will often render it impossible (particularly in light winds) to keep off the shore, which here presents a continued barrier of rock, that denies the smallest hopes of escape to those dashed upon it.

The face of the country bordering on the port is beautifully picturesque, swelling into gentle elevations of the brightest verdure, and dotted with trees, as if planted by the hand of taste, while the ground is covered with a profusion of flowers of every colour; in short, the external appearance of the country flattered


  ― (158) ―
us into the most delusive dreams of fruitfulness and plenty.

The soil (except in a few places where marle is found mixed with vegetable mould,) is invariably sandy, and its blackness proceeds from the ashes of the burnt grass, which has everwhere been set fire to by the natives. The proportion of sand varies, and in some spots the soil may be sufficiently strong to produce vegetables, and, perhaps, Indian corn; but it may safely be asserted, that (excepting a few acres at the head of the port) no spot within five miles of the water will produce wheat or any other grain that requires either much moisture or good soil. On some of the highest elevations an arid sea-sand is found, giving nourishment to no other


  ― (159) ―
vegetable than heath and fern. The bases of the hills consist of very coarse granite, which is here found in every stage of formation, from grains scarcely adhering, and crumbling into sand between the fingers, to the perfect stone which almost defies the chissel.

The great scarcity of water is one of the greatest disadvantages the port labours under. In the narrow glens between the hills, the marks of watercourses are visible, but at this time (October) they are mostly dried up; pools of fresh water are found scattered about the port, but they are merely drains from swamps, and from their stagnation are strongly impregnated with decayed vegetable substances.




  ― (160) ―

On the eastern side of the port, twenty-eight miles from the entrance, a stream of fresh water empties itself into the port. This stream runs through an extensive swamp, and appears to be a branch from a large river, at the northern extremity of the port, which the shortness of time and badness of the weather prevented our examining. The bed of this stream is covered with foliaceous mica, which our people at first conceived to be gold dust, and thence expected they had discovered an Elsatedorado.

On the west side of the port is an extensive lagoon, the water of which is too shoal to admit even small boats but at full tides; and in several places salt lagoons are found, generally closed by


  ― (161) ―
the beach, where ducks, teal, and swans are found in abundance.

The timber, within five miles of the beach, is chiefly the she-oak, which is only fit for cabinet word; the trees are open, and the country is entirely free from underwood, except in the swamps, which are always covered with an impenetrable brush. The other kinds of timber trees are very thinly scattered within the above limits; they are the blue-gum, stringy-bark, honeysuckle, box, and a kind of pine; of these the three first grow to a large size, and when sound, would probably be useful in shipbuilding. From the lightness of the soil, as well as its want of depth, the trees shoot their roots horizontally, and having no hold of the ground, are blown


  ― (162) ―
down in great numbers by every strong wind.

Of potable vegetables, wild celery, wild parsnip, scurvy grass, and samphire, were found in great abundance, and several other kinds were eaten by our peoplenote. The only fruits we found were the cone of the she-oak, which, when green, has a pleasantly acid taste, and a small berry, called by the colonists the Port Jackson cherry.

The kangaroo is the largest animal yet discovered in New Holland; it inhabits the neighbourhood of Port Philip in considerable numbers, weighing from 50 to 150lb.; the native dog, the opossum, flying squirrel, and field-rat make


  ― (163) ―
up the catalogue of animals we observed.

Aquatic birds are found in abundance on the lagoons, and are black swans, ducks, teal, black and pied shags, pelicans, gulls, red-bills (a beach bird), herons, curlows, and sand larks; the land birds are eagles, crows, ravens, quail, bronze-winged pigeons, and many beautiful varieties of the parrot tribe, particularly the large black cockatoo; the emue is also a native of this part of the country, its eggs having been found here. Three varieties of snakes were observed, all of which appeared to be venomous. The species of insects are almost innumerable: among them are upwards of one hundred and fifty different kinds of beautiful moths; several kinds of beetles


  ― (164) ―
the animated straw, &c. The swamps are inhabited by myriads of musquitoes of an extraordinary size; but the common fly, which swarms almost beyond belief, possesses all the offensive powers of the musquitoe, its sting creating an equal degree of pain and inflammation. Wasps are also common, but no bees were seen.

Fish, it may safely be asserted, is so scarce that it could never be depended on as a source of effectual relief in the event of scarcity. Several varieties of the ray were almost the only ones caught, with sometimes a few mullet, and other small fish; in general, a day's work with the seine produced scarcely a good dish of fish. The number of sharks which infest the harbour may occasion


  ― (165) ―
this scarcity of small fish. The rocks outside the harbour's mouth are frequented by seals and sea-elephants. The shell-fish are oysters, limpits, mussels, escalops, cockles, sea-ears; and very large cray-fish are found among the rocks.

Deeming minerals, as well as limestone, coal, and clays, of the greatest consequence to the colony, particular attention was paid to searching for them; the only appearance of minerals was in large masses of iron-stone, in some specimens of which, the shape, colour, and weight seemed to authorise the conclusion of its richnessnote. Lime-stone was


  ― (166) ―
found in many places, but the search for coal was fruitless. Several kinds of clay fit for pottery, bricks &c. were found in abundance, but always, more or less, mixed with sand; indeed, after displacing a thin covering of sand and ashes, the bottom, in most places, was found to be a soft, friable sand-stone of a yellowish colour.

With respect to climate, we had not sufficient time to judge of its effects on the human constitution; the vicissitudes of heat and cold are very great, the thermometer varying from 50° to 96°, between sun-rise and noon of the same day; and on the 19th and 21st of October it froze pretty smartly at the head of the port. The N. W. winds, which come on in violent squalls, have all the disagreeable effects of the sirocco of the Levant,


  ― (167) ―
but seldom last more than an hour, when the wind returns to the S. W. with thunder, lightning, and rainnote.

The N. W. side of the port, where a level plain extends to the northward as far as the horizon, appears to be by far the most populous; at this place, upwards of two hundred natives assembled round the surveying boats, and their obviously hostile intentions made the application of fire-arms absolutely necessary to repel them, by which one native was killed, and two or three wounded. Previous to this time, several interviews had been held with separate parties, at different places, during which the most friendly intercourse was maintained, and endeavoured to be strengthened


  ― (168) ―
on our part, by presents of blankets, beads, &c. At these interviews they appeared to have a perfect knowledge of the use of fire-arms; and as they seemed terrified even at the sight of them, they were kept entirely out of view. The last interview which terminated so unexpectedly hostile, had at its commencement the same friendly appearance. Three natives, unarmed, came to the boats, and received fish, bread, and blankets. Feeling no apprehension from three naked and unarmed savages, the First Lieutenant proceeded with one boat to continue the survey, while the other boat's crew remained on shore to dress dinner and procure water. The moment the first boat disappeared the three natives took leave, and in less than an hour returned with forty more, headed


  ― (169) ―
by a chief who seemed to possess much authority. This party immediately divided, some taking off the attention of the people who had charge of the tent, (in which was Mr. Harris the surveyor of the colony,) while the rest surrounded the boats, the oars, masts, and sails of which were used in erecting the tent. Their intention was to plunder was immediately visible, and all the exertions of the boat's crew were insufficient to prevent their possessing themselves of a tomahawk, an axe, and a saw. In this situation, as it was impossible to get the boat away, every thing belonging to her being on shore, it was thought advisable to temporise, and wait the return of the other boat, without having recourse to fire-arms, if it could possibly be avoided; and for this


  ― (170) ―
purpose, bread, meat, and blankets were given them. These condescensions, however, seemed only to increase their boldness, and their numbers having been augmented by the junction of two other parties, amounted to more than two hundred. At this critical time the other boat came in sight, and observing the crowd and tumult at the tent, pushed towards them with all possible dispatch. Upon approaching the shore, the unusual warlike appearance of the natives was immediately observed, and as they seemed to have entire possession of the tent, serious apprehensions were entertained for Mr. Harris and two of the boat's crew, who it was noticed were not at the boat. At the moment that the grapnel was hove out of the Lieutenant's boat, to prevent her taking the ground, one


  ― (171) ―
of the natives seized the master's mate, who had charge of the other boat, and held him fast in his arms, a general cry of “Fire, Sir; for God's sake, fire!” was now addressed from those on shore to the First Lieutenant. Hoping the report only would sufficiently intimidate them, two muskets were fired over their heads; for a moment they seemed to pause, and a few retreated behind the trees, but immediately returned, clapping their hands, and shouting vehemently. Four musquets with buck shot, and the fowling-pieces of the gentlemen with small shot, were now fired among them, and from a general howl, very different from their former shouts, many were supposed to be struck. This discharge created a general panic, and leaving their cloaks behind, they ran in


  ― (172) ―
every direction among the trees. It was hoped the business would have terminated here, and orders were, therefore, given to strike the tent, and prepare to quit the territory of such disagreeable neighbours. While thus employed, a large party were seen again assembling behind a hill, at the foot of which was our tent: they advanced in a compact body to the brow of the hill, every individual armed with a spear, and some, who appeared to be attendants of others, carrying bundles of them; when within an hundred yards of us they halted, and the chief, with one attendant, came down to the tent, and spoke with great vehemence, holding a very large war spear in a position for throwing. The First Lieutenant, wishing to restore peace if possible, laid down his gun, and advancing


  ― (173) ―
to the chief, presented him with several cloaks, necklaces, and spears, which had been left behind on their retreat; the chief took his own cloak and necklace, and gave the others to his attendant. His countenance and gestures all this time betrayed more of anger than fear, and his spear appeared every moment upon the point of quitting his hand. When the cloaks were all given up, the body on the hill began to descend, shouting and flourishing their spears. Our people were immediately drawn up, and ordered to present their musquets loaded with ball, while a last attempts were made to convince the chief that if his people continued to approach they would be immediately fired upon. These threats were either not properly understood, or were despised, and it was


  ― (174) ―
deemed absolutely necessary for our own safety, to prove the power of our fire-arms, before they came near enough to injure us with their spears; selecting one of the foremost, who appeared to be most violent, as a proper example, three musquets were fired at him at fifty yards distance, two of which took effect, and he fell dead on the spot, the chief turning round at the report saw him fall, and immediately fled among the trees; a general dispersion succeeded, and the dead body was left behind.

Among these savages, gradations of rank could be distinctly traced, founded most probably upon personal qualities and external appearance. In these respects the chief far excelled the rest; his figure was masculine and well-proportioned,


  ― (175) ―
and his air bold and commanding. When first he was seen approaching the boat, he was raised upon the shoulders of two men, and surrounded by the whole party, shouting and clapping their hands. Besides his cloak, which was only distinguished by its superior size, he wore a necklace of reeds, and several strings of human hair over his breast. His head was adorned with a coronet of the wing-feathers of the swan, very neatly arranged, and which had a pleasing effect. The fases of several were painted with red, white, and yellow claysnote, and others


  ― (176) ―
had a reed or bone ran through the septum of the nose, perhaps increasing in length according to rank, for the chief's was by far the longest, and must have measured at least two feet. Ornamental scars on the shoulders were general and the face of one was deeply pitted as if from the small-pox, though that disease in not


  ― (177) ―
known to exist in New Hollandnote. A very great difference was observed in the comparative cleanliness of these savages; some of them were so abominably beastly, that it required the strongest stomach to look on them without nausea, while others were sufficiently


  ― (178) ―
cleanly to be viewed without disgust. The beards, which are remarkably bushy in the former were allowed to grow, while in the latter they were cut close, apparently by a sharp instrument, probably a shell.

The only covering they make use of, to preserve their persons from the winter's cold, is a square cloak of opossum skins, neatly sewed together, and thrown loosely over their shoulders; the fleshy side, which is worn inwards, is marked with parallel lines, forming squares, lozenges, &c. and sometimes with uncouth human figures in the attitudes of dancing.

Their arms are spears, used with a throwing stick, like those of Port Jackson;


  ― (179) ―
their shields are made of a hard wood and neatly carved; their war spears are barbed with pieces of white spar, of shark's teeth, fastened on with red gum, and within a certain distance must be very dangerous offensive weapons. Their fish-gigs are pointed with the bone of the kangaroo, and with them they strike the rays which lay in shoal water. We saw no fish hooks, no other implements for fishing in deep water, nor any appearance of canoe, or other water conveyancenote. Their food consists chiefly of shell-fish, and their ingenuity in procuring more substantial aliment, seems confined to the construction of a rude trap, upon the projecting points of the harbour, where the water-fowl lighting


  ― (180) ―
at night are entangled and caught. The scarcity of food must at times reduce them to great extremities. If they ever quit the vicinity of the water, their sole subsistence must be on lizards, grubs, and the few opossums they may be able to kill; for the kangaroo, both by its activity and wariness, I should suppose to be out of reach of their weapons, or their ingenuity. The skins of these animals having never been seen with the natives corroborates this opinion, and it is probable, that the bones with which their fish-gigs are pointed, are those of animals which have died a natural death. That they scruple not to eat lizards and grubs, as well as a very large worm found in the gum-trees, we had ocular demonstration; indeed the latter they seem to consider a very great


  ― (181) ―
delicacy. Bread, beef, and fish, which they received from us, they devoured with great eagerness, swallowing large pieces without chewing, as if afraid of its being taken from them, but in no instance could we get them to drink. Spirits they appeared to dislike from the smell alone, and sweet punch they would taste and spit out again with disapprobation. They chew the green leaves of various plants, several of which had a slight astringent taste, and an aromatic smell.

The huts merely serve the purpose of temporary shelter from the weather. They are constructed of branches of trees placed slanting and open on one side, which is always to leeward; if a fallen tree is near, it usually serves to support the hut, and sometimes when coarse


  ― (182) ―
grass is convenient, it is interwoven with the branches. Their fires are made at the very entrance of the huts, and if the wind shifts must be immediately removed. We had no opportunity of observing their method of first kindling a fire, as the parties we saw had always a fire-brand with them, by which, and a little dry grass, they soon made a “roaring blaze.”

The only traces of society we could observe, was in a cluster of five huts, near which a well of brackish water was probably the only inducement to so close a neighbourhood. How they supply themselves with water in general we were at a loss to guess, for, upon the closest examination, none was found within several miles of the


  ― (183) ―
place where they had constructed their huts.

We had a sufficient proof of their burying their dead, by finding a human skeleton three feet under ground, while digging for water; its decayed state evinced its having been in the ground long before the arrival of any European at this port.

The only domestic utensil observed among them was a straw basket, made with tolerable neatness. Their cookery is confined to broiling, in which they are not very delicate; for the fish they sometimes received from us were put on the fire, and devoured without the useless preparation of gutting, cleaning, &c. Blankets they received with much satisfaction;


  ― (184) ―
but though several to whom they were given paid us visits afterwards, their blankets were always left behind, and they presented themselves shivering with cold. This manoeuvre might probably have been intended to induce a repetition of the gift, unless we suppose them to have been given to their women, which would argue a degree of civilization, from which they are immeasurably removed. Though in our first interviews they seemed to be stupidly devoid of curiosity, and viewed our persons and boats with the most perfect indifference, yet their latter conduct shews, that many of our conveniences appeared valuable, and fear was at last found much more powerful in deterring them from approriating those things to themselves, than any idea of right or wrong.




  ― (185) ―

The natives of this part of New South Wales appear to differ very little from those in the vicinity of Port Jackson; the same cast of features bespeaks the same origin; their arms, their ornaments, and their dances, are much alike, and they seem to differ only in language, and in the ceremony of knocking out a front tooth of every male, those of Port Philip having their jaws perfect. One woman only was seen, who retired by desire of the men on our approach, and one boy paid us a visit, from whose conduct we could not infer the existence of a great degree of subordination, founded on difference of age; this youngster was more loquacious and troublesome than the men.

Nothing could offer a more perfect picture of reposing solitude, than the


  ― (186) ―
wilds of Port Philip on our first arrival. Here Contemplation, with her musing sister Melancholy, might find an undisturbed retreat. Often at the calm hour of evening I have wandered through the woods,

Where the rude ax with heaved stroke
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunts.

The last hymn of the feathered choiristers to the setting sun, and the soft murmers of the breeze, faintly broke the death-like silence that reigned around; while the lightly trodden path of the solitary savage, or the dead ashes of his fire, alone pointed out the existence of human beings. In the course of a very few weeks the scene was greatly altered; lanes were cut in the woods for the passage of the timber carriages; the huts


  ― (187) ―
of the woodmen were erected beneath the sheltering branches of the lofty trees; the “busy hum” of their voices, and the sound of their axes, reverberating through the woods, denote the exertions of social industry, and the labours of civilization. At other times, sitting on the carriage of a gun, in front of the camp, I have contemplated with succeeding emotions of pity, laughter, and astonishment, the scene before me. When I viewed so many of my fellowmen, sunk, some of them from a rank in life, equal to or superior to my own, and by their crimes degraded to a level with the basest of mankind; when I saw them naked, wading to their shoulders in water to unlade the boats, while a burning sun struck its meridian rays upon their uncovered heads, or yoked to


  ― (188) ―
and sweating under a timber carriage, the wheels of which were sunk up to the axle in sand, I only considered their hapless lot, and the rememberance of of their vices was for a moment absorbed in the greatness of their punishment; I exclaimed with enthusiasm,

'Tis liberty alone that gives the flower
Of fleeting life its lustre and perfume,
And we are weeds without it.

When, on the other hand, I viewed the lively appearance of the camp, the employments of the women, and the ridiculous dilemmas into which they were every moment thrown by the novelty of their situations, I smiled, and inwardly admiring the pliability of mind, which enables us to accomodate ourselves to the vicissitudes of fortune, confessed that the pride of independence, and the


  ― (189) ―
keen sensibility of prosperity, like marks imprinted on the sand, are soon effaced by the current of adverse circumstances. What once seemed more valuable than life itself, even female virtue, grows weaker by degrees, and at last falls a sacrifice to present convenience; so true is the poet's exclamation, that “want will perjure the ne'er touch'd vestal.”

And now again, when I consider the motives; when I contrasted the powers, the ingenuity, and the resources of civilized man, with the weakness, the ignorance, and the wants of the savage he came to dispossess, I acknowledged the immensity of human intelligence, and felt thankful for the small portion dispensed to myself. These thoughts naturally led to the contemplation of future


  ― (190) ―
possibilities. I beheld a second Rome, rising from a coalition of banditti. I beheld it giving laws to the world, and superlative in arms and in arts, looking down with proud superiority upon the barbarous nations of the northern hemisphere; thus running over the airy visions of empire, wealth, and glory, I wandered amidst the delusions of imagination.

The unfavourable account given of Port Philip, by the First Lieutenant of the Calcutta, immediately presented the necessity of removing the colony to a more eligible situation, but from a total want of knowledge respecting any recent discoveries, which might have been made on the neighbouring coasts, it was deemed necessary to receive instructions


  ― (191) ―
on this head from the Governor in Chief at Port Jackson. The Ocean transport, being now discharged, was to proceed on her voyage to China, and could not, therefore, be detained without a heavy expence to government. Thus the only means left of communicating with Port Jackson was by an open boat; a six oared cutter was accordingly fitted for the purpose, in which Mr. Collins (who came out on a sealing speculation) undertook to convey the Lieutenant Governor's dispatches. After being nine days at sea, and encountering much bad weather, he was picked up by the Ocean (who sailed six days after him), within sixty miles of Port Jackson, and by her conveyed thither. Governor King, from a correct survey of Port Philip, made by Mr. Grimes, the Surveyor-General of


  ― (192) ―
the Colony, was already convinced of its ineligibility for a settlement, and immediately chartered the Ocean to remove the establishment, either to Port Dalrymple, on the north side of Van Diemen's land, or to the river Derwent, on the south coast of the same island, where a small party from Port Jackson was already established.

As the farther detention of the Calcutta, after the removal was finally concluded on, would greatly retard the principal object of her voyage, the conveying a cargo of ship timber to England, without any adequate advantage to the Colony, she quitted Port Philip on the 18th of December, leaving the Colonists preparing to re-embark on board the Ocean.




  ― (193) ―

While the Calcutta remained at Port Philip, besides the necessary duties of the ship, the crew were actively employed in collecting such specimens of ship-timber as the place afforded; and about one hundred and fifty pieces of compass timber, chiefly honeysuckle, were procurednote.

During the period of uncertainty, between the sailing of the boat, and the return of advices from Port Jackson, the First Lieutenant of the Calcutta, with several other officers, and a party of convicts to carry provisions, proceeded by land to examine Western Portnote, and ascertain the correctness of the description given of it


  ― (194) ―
by the first discoverers, particularly with respect to coal, in which it was said to abound. From the camp we proceeded across the peninsula to where the ridge of Arthur's Seat descends to the sea. This peninsula is formed entirely of sand, thrown up into round hillocks, and covered with coarse grass in tufts; the only trees here are the she-oak, which are small and open. After passing the ridge of Arthur's Seat we proceeded in a direction due east, nearly Parallel to the sea-shore, of which we sometimes came in sight, until we reached a point projecting into the sea, which we supposed to be Cape or Point Schank; in this space the land continues to rise, and forms in larger and steeper hills, separated by narrow glens, but the soil is still very sandy, and no


  ― (195) ―
water is to be found, even by digging in the hollows several feet deep. After passing Cape Schank, the country immediately assumes a quite different appearance; the soil changes to a stiff clay; the she-oak gives place to the blue-gum, and two strong runs of water fall into the sea immediately under the Cape. Here we halted for the night, and, following the example of the natives, erected a hut, and made a fire within a few feet of its entrance. This point we supposed to be twenty-five miles distant from the camp. At day-light we again commenced our march, guided by a pocket-compass; and keeping at the distance of between three and five miles from the sea at noon reached Western Port, about two miles from its entrance. From Cape Schank the country


  ― (196) ―
is varied by hills and vallies, the soil of the former being a stiff clay, with very lofty gum-trees; and of the latter, a rich black mould several feet deep, except in a few spots where a black peaty earth was found. The grass in these vallies is extremely luxuriant; some of them are over-grown with under-wood, while others possess scarce a single shrub. In this track are several small runs of water, emptying themselves into the sea by deep ravines.

Our examination of Western Port was unavoidably confined to the space of a few miles on the western shore; this was principally owing to the man who carried the whole of our bread, having absconded soon after quitting the camp, and to our being deceived in


  ― (197) ―
the extent of the Port, as well as the distance to it; which we found much greater than we had any idea of.

We were provisioned only for four days, at short allowance; for trusting to our guns for an addition to our fare, we employed most of our party to carry water, being ignorant whether any was to be found in our route.

From the entrance of the Port for about twelve miles along the western shore, there is but one place of commodious landing for boats; the beach being either a black plate rock, or a flat sand running out a quarter of a mile; upon which a long and dangerous surf continually breaks. There are three good runs of water in this space, which


  ― (198) ―
falling from the hills, form pools at their base, and are absorbed by the soft sand of the beach. We found these pools covered with teal of a beautiful plumage, and, what was to us of much more importance, of a delicious flavor.

As our track to Western Port had never diverged more than five miles from the sea, it was determined, on returning, to endeavour to penetrate through the country in a N. W. direction, which we supposed would bring us to Port Philip at about twenty miles distance from the camp. We accordingly set off at daylight of the third day, from our night's station, which was about five miles from the entrance of Western Port, and had scarce walked a quarter of a mile when we came to an immense forest of lofty


  ― (199) ―
gum-trees. The country here becomes very mountainous: in the vallies or rather chasms between the mountains, small runs of water trickle through an almost impenetrable jungle of prickly shrubs, bound together by creeping plants. After passing eight of these deep chasms in six miles, which was accomplished with infinite difficulty in four hours, we found the country grows still more impenetrable, vast fields of shrub as prickly as furze arresting our progress every moment. Several of our people who carried the water, being unable to bear the fatigue any longer, we were obliged to give up our intention; and after a short rest, we shaped our course to the S. W. in order to approach the sea, where the country becomes open and less hilly. In this direction


  ― (200) ―
we found the country well-watered, the soil very rich, and in many places meadows of from fifty to an hundred acres, covered with grass five feet high, and unincumbered with a single tree. At sun-set we reached the sea at Cape Schank, and, halting for the night, arrived at the camp in the afternoon of the next day.

Our search for coal, which we were given to understand abounded at Western Port, was fruitless; but our examination was too circumscribed and superficial to authorize any positive assertion respecting it.

The coast between the ridge of Arthur's Seat and Western Port is bound by rocks of black stone, which was


  ― (201) ―
found to burn to a strong lime. The projecting points of land are high, bluff, and perpendicular, presenting a barrier to the sea which breaks against them, even in the finest weather, with violence, denying shelter by anchorage, or safety by running on shore for the smallest boat.

Besides herds of kangeroos, four large wolves were seen at Western Port. Very beautiful bronze-winged pigeons with black and white cockatoos, and innumerable parrots, inhabit the woods.

Though this excursion added but little to the knowledge of the country, it is hoped it will not be entirely devoid of utility. In those spots which appeared best adapted to the purpose, seeds from


  ― (202) ―
Rio Janeiro and the Cape were sown, viz. oranges, limes, melons, pumpkins, Indian corn, and several kinds of garden seeds.

But two huts were found in our track, and not a native was seen; indeed the kangaroo seems to reign undisturbed lord of the soil, a dominion which, by the evacuation of Port Philip, he is likely to retain for ages.

Several convicts absconded from the camp soon after their landing, led away by the most delusive ideas of reaching Port Jackson, or getting on board some whaler, which they ignorantly believed occasionally touched on this coast; some of them were brought back by parties sent after them, and others returned voluntarily,


  ― (203) ―
when nearly famished with hunger. Two only of these unfortunate beings were never heard of after leaving the camp, one of these was George Lee, a character well known to several persons of respectability in England.

After the Calcutta quitted Port Philip, a vessel was sent to examine Port Dalrymple; the accounts brought back not being so favourable as was hoped for, it was finally determined to remove the Colony to the river Darwent, which was partly accomplished before the Calcutta sailed from Port Jackson. The name of Hobart was given to the Settlement, and the most flattering accounts were received from the Lieutenant Governor, of the situation, soil, and climate. Speaking of the climate, he says, that it may


  ― (204) ―
be considered the Montpelier of New South Wales.

The remainder of the Calcutta's voyage was almost totally barren of incident, either to amuse or instruct. She sailed from Port Philip the 18th of December, and passing through Bass's Straits, without experiencing any difficulties, arrived at Port Jackson the 26th. Here she took in a cargo of ship timber (about six hundred logs) and sailed again on the 17th March 1804; passed to the southward of New Zealand, which was seen on the 29th; doubled Cape Horn on the 27th April, and arrived at Rio de Janeiro the 22d May; thus accomplishing a voyage round the world, discharging and receiving a cargo, in eleven months.




  ― (205) ―

In the long navigation between New Zealand and Cape Horn, scarce a single incident occurred either to interest the seaman, or the naturalist. Throughout this navigation, the wind seldom deviated to the northward of N. W. or to the southward of S. W. with strong gales, which enabled us to make an average of one hundred and eighty miles a-day for twenty-nine days.

The variety and numbers of austral oceanic birds, which followed our track, was very great; and it was remarked, that they were seen in greatest numbers during stormy weather. It is probable that the winds at those times disturbing the waters to their utmost depths, may bring blubbers and other substances, upon which these birds feed, to the surface


  ― (206) ―
in greater quantities. In fine weather they probably retire to the rocksnote, where such food may then be most plentiful.

Among these birds we chiefly noticed the albatross, black shear-water, sooty petrell, pintado birds, Port Egmont


  ― (207) ―
hens, small grey gulls, and mother Cary's chicken.

On the 3d April, in latitude 48½° S. and longitude 186½° E. at 9 P. M. a bright orange glow was observed in the heavens to the southward; it rose from the horizon to the altitude of thirty degrees, having the appearance of the western sky, when the sun in summer illuminates it after setting. This appearance lasted about an hour, and gradually sunk into the surrounding obscurity.

The Calcutta passed between the islands of Diego Ramirez and the Hermits, and at about six miles distance from the former. The strength of the wind prevented our sounding here, but


  ― (208) ―
from the muddiness of the water we judged it could not be above thirty fathoms deep: here we found a very strong current setting to the S. E. Diego Ramirez, which is laid down in several charts as one island, on the contrary consists of two detached groups of rocky islets, bearing N. by W. and S. by E. from each other. The passage between the groups is about three miles wide, and (as I was informed by the master of a whaler) is clear of danger. Scarce any vegetation is found on them, the naked rock being everywhere visible. Cape Horn we passed at the distance of four leagues, and observed several patches of snow on its sides; the wind was at west, and the thermometer as high as forty-eight, with very pleasant clear weather. From the appearance of the Hermit's islands


  ― (209) ―
we conjectured that they must afford many good harbours. The day after rounding Cape Horn, we passed Staten Land, of which we had a complete view from end to end, than which nothing could appear more desolate and unfriendly.

Off the coast of Patagonia three land-birds lighted on board, and were caught; the body resembled that of the crow, its length eighteen inches, the bill one inch and a half, the feathers of the head forming a bunch over the forehead, the plumage a beautiful snowy white, the legs and claws black. When caught, they almost immediately became domesticated, and fed on meat. They lived about six weeks, and appeared to be killed by the excessive heat of the weathernote.




  ― (210) ―

After passing Cape Horn, the sea was at times covered with luminous blubbers about nine inches long, which emitted a light equal to that of a wax candle; it was observed, that the appearance of these blubbers always foretold the approach of stormy weather.

At Rio de Janeiro we recruited our water, and sailed again on the 1st of June.

We now once more turned our thoughts towards the shores, which custom and reason bid us hail as the happiest of our globe. Blest isle! where liberty is the birth-right of man; where the laws are the protectors, not the oppressors, of freedom; where beauty is crowned by modesty, and love is refined


  ― (211) ―
by delicacy! And shall that freedom bow to the yoke of Gallic slavery? Shall those laws be changed for the arbitrary dictates of Gallic despotism? Shall that beauty be polluted by the unhallowed touch of ferocious invaders? and that love be degraded into the sensual appetite of brutes? No! the arms of Britons will be nerved with tenfold strength, for the protection of such inestimable blessings, and the insatiate foe will at last be convinced that

Britons never will be slaves.

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