The Project Gutenberg EBook of Australia, its history and present condition, by 
William Pridden

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Title: Australia, its history and present condition
       containing an account both of the bush and of the colonies,
              with their respective inhabitants

Author: William Pridden

Release Date: December 5, 2009 [EBook #30607]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


Produced by Nick Wall, Anne Storer, and the Online
Distributed Proofreading Team at (This
file was produced from images generously made available
by The Internet Archive/American Libraries.)

Transcriber’s Notes:
1) Morrumbidgee/Murrumbidgee each used on several occasions and left as in the original. ‘Morrumbidgee’ is the aboriginal name for the Murrumbidgee.
2) Used on numerous occasions, civilisation/civilization; civilised/civilized; civilising/civilizing; uncivilised/uncivilized—left as in the original.
3) Same with variations of colonisation/colonization, and a few other “z” words that should be “s” words in their English form.


Englishmans Library












Truth, in her native calmness and becoming moderation, shall be the object of our homage and pursuit; and we will aim at the attainment of knowledge for the improvement of our reason, and not for the gratification of a passion for disputing.”—Address of the Bp of Australia in 1841 to the Church of England Book Society.




[missing illustration: Map of Australia]


A few words by way of Preface are requisite, in order that the objects of the present Work may be stated to the reader, and that he may also be made acquainted with the sources whence the information here communicated is derived, and from consulting which he may still further inform himself concerning Australia. The aim of the writer of the following pages has been,—while furnishing a description of some of the most flourishing and interesting settlements belonging to the British Crown, which, at the same time, exhibit in contrast to each other the two extremes of savage and civilised life;—to call the attention of his countrymen, both at home and in the colonies, to the evils which have arisen from the absence of moral restraint and religious instruction in colonies of civilised and (nominally) christian men. And although it must in many ways be a disadvantage that the person professing to describe a particular country should have gained all his knowledge of it from the report of others, without ever having himself set foot upon its shores; yet, in one respect at least, this may operate advantageously. He is less likely to have party prejudices or private interests to serve in his account of the land to which he is a total stranger. In consequence, probably, of his being an indifferent and impartial observer, not one of our Australian colonies wears in his eye the appearance of a perfect paradise; but then, on the other hand, there is not one of those fine settlements which prejudice urges him to condemn, as though it were barren and dreary as the Great Sahara itself. And the same circumstance—his never having breathed the close unwholesome air of colonial party-politics—will render it less likely that his judgment respecting persons and disputed opinions should be unduly biassed. There will be more probability of his judging upon right principles, and although his facts may (in some instances, unavoidably) be less minutely accurate than an inhabitant of the country would have given, yet they may be less coloured and less partially stated. Instead of giving his own observations as an eye-witness, fraught with his own particular views, he can calmly weigh the opposite statements of men of different opinions, and between the two he is more likely to arrive at the truth. With regard to the present Work, however impartial the author has endeavoured to be, however free he may be from colonial passions and interests, he does not wish to deceive the reader by professing a total freedom from all prejudice. If this were desirable, it is impossible; it is a qualification which no writer, or reader either, possesses. But thus much may be stated, that all his prejudices are in favour of those institutions with which it has pleased God to bless his native land. In a volume that is intended to form part of a series called “The Englishman’s Library,” it may be permitted, surely, to acknowledge a strong and influencing attachment to the Sovereign, the Church, and the Constitution of England.

The object and principles of the present volume being thus plainly set forth, it remains only to mention some of the sources whence the information contained in it is derived. To the Travels of Captain Grey on the western coast of New Holland, and to those of Major Mitchell in the interior, the first portion of this Work is deeply indebted, and every person interested in the state of the natives, or fond of perusing travels in a wild and unknown region, may be referred to these four volumes,[1] where they will find that the extracts here given are but a specimen of the stores of amusement and information which they contain. Captain Sturt’s “Expeditions” and Mr. Oxley’s “Journal” are both interesting works, but they point rather to the progress of discovery in New Holland than to the actual state of our local knowledge of it. Dr. Lang’s two volumes upon New South Wales are full of information from one who has lived there many years, and his faults are sufficiently obvious for any intelligent reader to guard against. Mr. Montgomery Martin’s little book is a very useful compendium, and those that desire to know more particulars concerning the origin of the first English colony in New Holland may be referred to Collins’s account of it. Various interesting particulars respecting the religious state of the colonies in Australia have been derived from the correspondence in the possession of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, free access to which was allowed through the kind introduction of the Rev. C. B. Dalton. Many other sources of information have been consulted, among which the Reports of the Parliamentary Committee upon Transportation, in 1837 and 1838; and that of the Committee upon South Australia, in 1841, must not be left unnoticed. Neither may the work of Judge Burton upon Religion and Education in New South Wales be passed over in silence; for, whatever imperfections may be found in his book,[2] the facts there set forth are valuable, and, for the most part, incontrovertible, and the principles it exhibits are excellent. From the works just mentioned the reader may, should he feel inclined, verify for himself the facts stated in the ensuing pages, or pursue his inquiries further. In the meantime, he cannot do better than join the author of the little book which he holds in his hand, in an humble and earnest prayer to Almighty God, that, in this and in every other instance, whatever may be the feebleness and imperfection of human efforts, all things may be made to work together for good towards promoting the glory of God, the extension of Christ’s kingdom, and the salvation of mankind.




[Page 1.]

Subject of the Work—Discovery and Situation of New Holland—Its Interior little known—Blue Mountains—Conjectures respecting the Interior—Van Diemen’s Land, or Tasmania.



[Page 8.]

The Bush described—Remains of it near Sydney—North-western Coast of New Holland—Sandy Columns and Fragments—Recollections of Home—Gouty Stem Tree—Green Ants—Fine Volcanic District—Cure for Cold—Travelling in the Rainy Season—Rich sequestered Valleys—Plains near the Lachlan—Falls of the Apsley—Beauties of Nature enjoyed by Explorers—Aid afforded by Religion—Trials of Travellers in the Bush—Thirst—A Christian’s Consolations—Plains of Kolaina, or Deceit—Bernier Island—Frederic Smith—A Commander’s Cares—Dried Streams—Return from a Journey in the Bush—Outsettlers—Islands on the Australian Coast—Kangaroo Island—Coral Reefs and Islets.



[Page 42.]

Forbidding aspect of coast no argument against inland beauty and fertility—River Darling—The Murray—Other Rivers of New Holland—Contrasts in Australia—The Lachlan, Regent’s Lake, &c.—Sturt’s Descent down the Murray—His Return—Woods—Difficulties and Dangers of Bush travelling—Wellington Valley—Australia Felix—Conclusion.



[Page 72.]

Comparative advantages of Europeans over Savages—Degraded condition of Natives of New Holland—Total absence of Clothing—Love of Ornaments—Peculiar Rites—Ceremony of knocking out a Tooth—Hardships of Savage Life—Revengeful Spirit—Effect of Native Songs in exciting Anger—Cruelty—Courage—Indifference to accounts of Civilized Life—Contempt of its ways—Treatment of Women—Family Names, and Crests—Language—Music.



[Page 97.]

Means of Subsistence—A Whale Feast—Hunting the Kangaroo—Australian Cookery—Fish—Seal Catching—Turtles—Finding Opossums—Birds—Pursuit of the Emu or Cassowary—Disgusting Food of the Natives—Vegetables—By-yu Nuts—Evils of European Settlements in cutting off the native supply of Food—Native Property in Land—Inhabitants of Van Diemen’s Land—A word of Advice to Christian Colonists.



[Page 120.]

First Shyness of Natives natural—Their perplexity between European Customs and their own—Health and Longevity—Old Age—Funereal Rites—Belief in Sorcery—The Boyl-yas—Various modes of Interment—Tombs—Riches of a Native—Bodily Excellences—Secrecy—Quickness of Sight, &c.—Kaiber and the Watch—The Warran Ground—Various Superstitions—Mischief of bad Example, for which the British nation is responsible—The Church, the right Instrument, and the only one that will be found successful, for civilising the Australian Tribes, if they are ever to be civilised.



[Page 149.]

Bennillong—Barangaroo’s Funeral—The Spitting Tribe—Mulligo’s Death—The Corrobory—Peerat and his Wives—Woga’s Captivity—Ballooderry and the Convicts—Native Hospitality and Philosophy—The Widow and her Child—Miago.



[Page 186.]

Infancy of New South Wales an interesting subject to Englishmen—Arrival, in 1788, of the Sirius, and the Supply at Botany Bay—Settlement commenced in the Harbour of Port Jackson—Character of the Convicts—Influence of Religion—Particulars respecting the Chaplain—His peculiar situation and efforts—A Gold Mine pretended to be found—Supply of Food precarious—Farming—Failure of Provisions—Erection of a Flag-staff at the entrance of Port Jackson—Activity of Governor Phillip—Emigration to Norfolk Island—Loss of the Sirius—Departure of the Supply for Batavia—Arrivals from England—Cruel treatment of Convicts on board—Paramatta founded—Arrival of the Second Fleet—State of Agriculture—The Chaplain’s bounty abused—Attendance at Divine Service—A Church built—Its subsequent fate—Scarcity of Provisions, and great Mortality—Profligacy of Convicts—Harvest of 1792—Departure of Governor Phillip—Major Grose’s government—Captain Paterson’s—Various occurrences—Drunkenness—Love of Money—Spirit of Gambling.



[Page 216.]

Arrival of Governor Hunter—His efforts for reformation—Advancement of the Colony towards supplying its own wants—Wild Cattle found—Coal discovered—Governor’s regulations—Incendiarism—Natives troublesome—Difficulties in governing New South Wales—Crimes common—Laxity of public opinion—The gaols at Sydney and Paramatta purposely set on fire—Departure of Governor Hunter—Captain King succeeds him—Norfolk Island abandoned—Sketch of Norfolk Island—Settlement of Van Diemen’s Land—Free Settlers—Philip Schoeffer—The Presbyterian Settlers at Portland Head—Resignation of Governor King—Captain Bligh his successor—Great Flood of the Hawkesbury—Unpopularity of the Governor—Seizure of his person—Rebellion—Usurpation—Arrival of a new Governor, Colonel Macquarie—Improvements in his time—Road-making—Passage across the Blue Mountains—Public Buildings—Patronage of Emancipists—Discoveries in the Interior, and Extension of the Colony—Continued neglect of the spiritual need of the Colonists—Governor Macquarie’s Departure—His own statement of the progress of the Settlement under his administration.



[Page 243.]

Subject stated—Day-dreams of Colonization—Local divisions of New South Wales—Its Counties—Cumberland—Camden—Illawarra and the Cow Pastures—Argyle—Bathurst—Northumberland—Coal Pits—Hunter’s River—Remaining Counties—Sydney—Port Jackson—Buildings, &c. of Sydney—Commerce—Public Press—Paramatta—Windsor—Liverpool—Conclusion.



[Page 266.]

Description of Van Diemen’s Land—Its local Divisions—Its general Character and Aspect—Hobart Town—Launceston—Other Australian Colonies—Port Phillip—South Australia—Adelaide—Western Australia—Its Towns—North Australia.



[Page 286.]

Climate of Australia—Drought—Agriculture—Flocks and Herds—Government of the Colonies—Discontent—Means of National Improvement—Bishopric of Australia—Tribute of Thanks justly due to the Whig Government—Effects of a Bishop being resident in New South Wales—Educational provision made by George the Fourth—Dr. Lang’s Account of it—Judge Burton’s—Church and School Corporation, established in 1826; suspended in 1829; dissolved in 1833—Causes of this change of Policy—Conclusion.



[Page 307.]

Inhabitants of Australian Colonies—What seed has been there sown—Elements of Society in the Penal Colonies—Convicts—System of Assignment—Public Gangs—Mr. Potter Macqueen’s Establishment—Norfolk Island and its horrors—These have been mitigated of late years—Means of reforming Convicts—Prevalence of Vice among them—The class of Convicts called specials described.



[Page 325.]

Emancipists—Their general Character—Their conduct in the Jurors’ Box no argument in favour of bestowing upon them a Representative Government—Free Population—Ancient Nobility of Botany Bay—Prevailing taste in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land—Love of Gain—Land Sharks—Squatters—Overlanders.



[Page 338.]

Importance of Religion—The Lord’s Day—Habits of duly observing it nearly lost among many of the inhabitants of our Australian Colonies—Opposition to Improvement—Religious strife prevails where religious union is needed—Sir R. Bourke’s novel system of religious Establishments—Its practical working—Efforts of the Church coldly seconded or else opposed, by Government—Petty Persecutions—Similar opposition to National Religious Education as to National Church—Blunders respecting the Irish System of Education in 1836—Attempt in 1840 to banish the Creed and Catechism from Protestant Schools having Government support—Schools of a higher rank in New South Wales—King’s School, Paramatta—Sydney College—The Australian College—The Normal Institution—Proposed College at Liverpool—Other Schools—Population of New South Wales in 1841—Emigration—Conclusion.

Map of Australia Frontispiece
Reduced Map of Van Diemen’s Land 1
Travellers in the Bush 8
Explorers finding the Bed of a dried-up River 42
Opossum Hunting 97
Natives of the Murray Islands in Boats 120
Sydney in its Infancy—View from the South 186
North View of Sydney 243
Hobart Town 266
Cape Pillar, near the Entrance of the Derwent, Van Diemen’s Land 286
Conveying Cattle over the Murray, near Lake Alexandria 325

[Pg 1]

image van diemen’s land.


The vast tract of country which it is the object of the present volume to describe in its leading features, both moral and natural, may be said to consist of two islands, besides many small islets and coral reefs, which lie scattered around the coasts of these principal divisions. The larger island of the two, which from its size may well deserve the appellation of a continent, is called New Holland, or Australia; and is supposed to be not less than three-fourths of the extent of the whole of Europe. The smaller island, so well known by the [Pg 2] names of Van Diemen’s Land, or Tasmania, (from those of the discoverer, Tasman, and the Dutch governor of Batavia, Van Diemen) is not to be compared in size to the other, being about equal in magnitude to Ireland, and, like that island, abounding in fine and excellent harbours. Although, strictly speaking, the name of Australia is confined to the former of these two islands, yet it may be understood to include the smaller island also; and under this name it is proposed to make the reader familiar with the chief objects of curiosity in the natural world, and likewise with the state of human society, whether savage or civilised, in the two islands of New Holland and Van Diemen’s Land, so far as both of these have been hitherto known and explored.

It is by no means certain what nation may justly lay claim to the honour of the discovery of New Holland, the coasts of which were probably seen by the Spaniards, Quiros or Torres, in 1606, and are by some supposed to have been known to the Spanish and Portuguese yet earlier than this date, but were not regularly discovered until the Dutch, between the years 1616 and 1627, explored a considerable portion of the northern and western shores of that vast island, to which they gave the name of their own country, Holland. To the Spaniards this land was known by the names of Terra Australis Incognita, (The Unknown Southern Land,) or Australia del Espiritu Santo, (The Southern Land of the Holy Spirit,) the meaning of which last name does not exactly appear, unless it arose from the discovery of Quiros having been made a little before Whitsuntide. Since that time the coasts of this immense island, extending, it is said, to no less than 8000 miles, have been gradually explored, although they still remain in some parts very imperfectly known. Indeed, it was only in the year 1798 that Van Diemen’s Land was discovered [Pg 3] to be an island separated from New Holland, of which before that time it had been thought to form a large projection or promontory.

New Holland is situated in the vast ocean extending to the south and east of the Spice Islands, and it lies about even with the lower part of the continent of Africa, only at an immense distance due east of it. Its extreme points of latitude are 39 degrees and 10½ degrees S., and of longitude 112 degrees and 153 degrees 40 minutes E. from Greenwich, so that it includes in its huge extent climates both tropical and temperate, but none that are decidedly cold. It must be remembered, indeed, that the countries south of the equator become colder at the same latitude than those that extend towards the north; but, nevertheless, the nearest point towards the South Pole, 39 degrees, nearly answering to the situation of Naples in the northern hemisphere, cannot be otherwise than a mild and warm climate. The shape of New Holland is very irregular, its coast being much broken and indented by various great bays and smaller inlets; but it has been estimated to have a width from E. to W. of 3000 miles, and a breadth from N. to S. of 2000, containing altogether not less than three millions of square miles. Of course, it is impossible, in so large an extent of country, that the interior parts of it should have been explored during the few years in which any portion of it has been occupied by Europeans. Accordingly, almost all the inland tracts are still a vast blank, respecting which very little is known, and that little is far from inviting. Indeed many hindrances oppose themselves to the perfect discovery of these inland regions, besides those common obstacles, to encounter and overcome which every traveller who desires to explore new, wild, and savage countries, must have fully made up his mind.

[Pg 4] First among the peculiar difficulties which have opposed the Australian explorer is the height and ruggedness of that chain of mountains, called, in the colony of New South Wales, the Blue Mountains, which form a mighty barrier of more or less elevation along most parts of the eastern coast of New Holland, sometimes approaching as nearly as 30 miles to the sea, and at other places falling back to a distance of 60 or nearly 100 miles. These mountains are not so very high, the loftiest points appearing to exceed but little the height of Snowdon in Wales, or Ben Nevis in Scotland; but their rugged and barren nature, and the great width to which they frequently extend, render it no very easy matter to cross them at all. Indeed, although the settlement of New South Wales was founded in 1788, it was not before 1813 that a route was discovered across those vast ranges which shut in the colony to the west. Frequently had the passage over the Blue Mountains been attempted before, but never with any success; and the farthest point which had been reached, called Caley’s Repulse, was a spot that almost seemed to forbid man’s footsteps to advance beyond it. Nothing was to be seen there in every direction but immense masses of weather-beaten sandstone-rock, towering over each other in all the sublimity of desolation; while a deep chasm, intersecting a lofty ridge covered with blasted trees, seemed to cut off every hope of farther progress. But all these difficulties have now long since been got over, and stage-coaches are able to run across what were a few years ago deemed impassable hills. Yet, when this dreary barrier of barren mountains has been crossed, another peculiar hindrance presents itself to the exploring traveller. In many parts of the interior of New Holland, which have been visited, the scarcity of water is such that the most distressing privations have been endured, and the most disagreeable [Pg 5] substitutes employed. And yet, strange to say, the very same country, which sometimes affords so few springs, and of which the streams become dried up into chains of dirty pools, and at last into dry ravines and valleys, is, occasionally, subject to extreme floods from the overflowing of its rivers, and then offers a new obstacle to the traveller’s progress in the shape of extensive and impassable marshes! To these difficulties must be added the usual trials of adventurous explorers, the dangers and perplexities of a journey through pathless forests, the want of game of any kind in the barren sandstone districts, the perils sometimes threatened by a visit from the native inhabitants, and, altogether, we shall have reason rather to feel surprise at what has been done in the way of inland discovery in New Holland, than to wonder that so much remains yet undone.

In consequence of the interior portions of the country remaining still unknown, fancy has been busy in forming notions respecting them, and one favourite supposition has been that there exists somewhere in the central part of New Holland an immense lake or inland sea; but of this no proof whatever can be produced, so that it can only be said that it may be so. Certainly, unless some such means of communication by water, or some very large navigable river, should exist, it is hardly possible to imagine how the extensive tracts of inland country can ever become civilized or inhabited by Europeans. And of that portion which has been visited a considerable extent of country appears to be shut out by the natural barrenness of its soil and sandstone-rocks from any prospect of ever supplying food to the colonies of civilized man. So that, while the whole of New Holland is an interesting country from its natural peculiarities, and even the desolate portion of it adds, by its very desolation, a deep interest to the adventures of [Pg 6] those persons who have had the courage to attempt to explore it; yet the chief prospects of Australia’s future importance seem to be confined to its line of coast,—no narrow limits in an island so extensive. Hence the colonies now flourishing on the eastern, southern, and western shores of New Holland, especially on the first, will form a chief object of attention in the present work; although, as will be seen by its contents, the “bush,” or wild country, and its savage inhabitants, will be by no means overlooked.

Respecting Van Diemen’s Land much need not be here said, although, however small in comparative extent, its population was in 1836 above half of that of the whole colony of New South Wales. It is, therefore, and always will be, an important island, though, from its mountainous character and confined limits, it cannot, of course, be expected to keep pace with the increasing population of the sister colony. Van Diemen’s Land was discovered in 1642, by the Dutchman, Tasman, who first sailed round its southern point, and ascertained that the great Southern Land, or Australia, did not extend, as it had been supposed, to the South Pole. The island was apparently overlooked, until, in 1804, a colony was founded there by the English, and it was taken possession of in the name of his Britannic majesty. Since that time, with the exception of those early hardships to which all colonies seem liable, it has been flourishing and increasing. To many Englishmen its colder climate, (which is yet sufficiently mild,) and its supposed resemblance in appearance and productions to their native land, have appeared preferable to all the advantages which the larger island possesses. Van Diemen’s Land is divided from New Holland on the north by Bass’s Straits, its extreme points of latitude are 41° 20', and 43° 40' S., and of longitude 144° 40', and 148° 20' E. Its [Pg 7] shape is irregular, being much broken by various inlets, but its greatest extent from N. to S. is reckoned to be about 210 miles, and from E. to W. 150 miles, containing a surface of about 24,000 square miles. The native inhabitants of this smaller island have entirely disappeared before the superior weapons and powers of civilised man.

[Pg 8]

image travellers in the bush.




All that country, which remains in a state of nature uncultivated and uninclosed, is known among the inhabitants of the Australian colonies by the expressive name of the Bush.[3] It includes land and scenery of every description, and, likewise, no small variety of climate, as may be supposed from the great extent of the island of New Holland. Accordingly, without indulging in surmises concerning the yet unknown parts, it may be safely said, respecting those which have been more or less frequently visited and accurately explored, that the extremes of rural beauty and savage wildness of scenery,—smiling plains and barren deserts, snowy mountains and marshy fens, crowded forests and bare rocks, green pastures and sandy flats,—every possible [Pg 9] variety, in short, of country and of aspect may be found in that boundless region which is all included under the general appellation of the Bush. To enter into a particular or regular description of this is clearly no less impossible than it would be tedious and unprofitable. And yet there are many descriptions of different portions of it given by eye-witnesses, many circumstances and natural curiosities belonging to it, and related to us upon the best authority, which are likely to please and interest the reader, who can see and adore God everywhere, and is capable of taking delight in tracing out and following the footsteps of Almighty Wisdom and Power, even in the wilderness and among the mountain-tops. It is proposed, therefore, to select a few of the pictures which have been drawn by the bold explorers of the Bush, so as to give a general idea of the character, the scenery, the dangers, and the privations of that portion of the Australian islands. And, having first become familiar and acquainted with these, we shall be better able to set a just value, when we turn to the state of the colonies and their inhabitants, upon that moral courage, that British perseverance and daring, which have, within the memory of man, changed so many square miles of bush into fertile and enclosed farms; which have raised a regular supply of food for many thousands of human beings out of what, sixty years ago, was, comparatively speaking, a silent and uninhabited waste. When the troops and convicts, who formed the first colony in New South Wales, landed at Port Jackson, the inlet on which the town of Sydney is now situated, “Every man stepped from the boat literally into a wood. Parties of people were everywhere heard and seen variously employed; some in clearing ground for the different encampments; others in pitching tents, or bringing up such stores as were more immediately [Pg 10] wanted; and the spot, which had so lately been the abode of silence and tranquillity, was now changed to that of noise, clamour, and confusion.”[4]

And still, even near to the capital town of the colony, there are portions of wild country left pretty much in their natural and original state. Of one of these spots, in the direction of Petersham, the following lively description from the pen of a gentleman only recently arrived in the colony, may be acceptable. “To the right lies a large and open glen, covered with cattle and enclosed with bush, (so we call the forest,) consisting of brushwood and gigantic trees; and, above the trees, the broad sea of Botany Bay, and the two headlands, Solander and Banks, with a white stone church and steeple, St. Peter’s New Town, conveying an assurance that there are Englishmen of the right sort not far from us. And now we plunge into the thicket, with scarcely a track to guide our steps. I have by this time made acquaintance with the principal giants of the grove. Some are standing, some are felled; the unmolested monarchs stand full 200 feet high, and heave their white and spectral limbs in all directions; the fallen monsters, crushed with their overthrow, startle you with their strange appearances; whilst underfoot a wild variety of new plants arrest your attention. The bush-shrubs are exquisitely beautiful. Anon a charred and blackened trunk stops your path: if you are in spirits, you jump over all; if you are coming home serious, weary, and warm, you plod your way round. Well,—in twenty minutes’ time you reach a solitary hut,—the first stage of the walk: you pass the fence, the path becomes narrow,—the bush thickens round you,—it winds, it rises, it descends: all on a sudden it opens with a bit of cleared ground full twenty yards in extent, and a felled tree in the midst. Here let [Pg 11] us pause, and, kneeling on the turf, uncovered, pour forth the voice of health, of cheerfulness, and gratitude to Him who guides and guards us on our way. And now, onward again. The land falls suddenly, and we cross a brook, which a child may stride, but whose waters are a blessing both to man and beast. And now we rise again; the country is cleared; there is a flock of sheep, and a man looking after them; to the left, a farmhouse, offices, &c.; before us the spire of St. James’s, Sydney, perhaps three miles distant, the metropolitan church of the new empire, and, a little to the right, the rival building of the Roman church. Beneath us lies Sydney, the base-born mother of this New World, covering a large extent of ground, and, at the extreme point of land, the signal station, with the flags displayed, betokening the arrival of a ship from England. Till now we have met with no living creature, but here, perhaps, the chaise with Sydney tradesman and his wife, the single horseman, and a straggler or two on foot, begin to appear.”

The general appearance of the coast of New Holland is said to be very barren and forbidding, much more so than the shores of Van Diemen’s Land are; and it thus often happens that strangers are agreeably disappointed by finding extreme richness and fertility in many parts of a country, which at their first landing afforded no such promises of excellence. One of the most dreary and most curious descriptions of country is to be met with on the north-western shores of New Holland, quite on the opposite coast to that where the principal English colony is situated. The daring explorer of this north-western coast, Captain Grey, has given a fearful account of his dangers and adventures among the barren sandstone hills of this district. Its appearance, upon his landing at Hanover Bay, was that of a line of lofty cliffs, [Pg 12] occasionally broken by sandy beaches; on the summits of these cliffs, and behind the beaches, rose rocky sandstone hills, very thinly wooded. Upon landing, the shore was found to be exceedingly steep and broken; indeed the hills are stated to have looked like the ruins of hills, being composed of huge blocks of red sandstone, confusedly piled together in loose disorder, and so overgrown with various creeping plants, that the holes between them were completely hidden, and into these one or other of the party was continually slipping and falling. The trees were so small and so scantily covered with leaves that they gave no shelter from the heat of the sun, which was reflected by the soil with intense force, so that it was really painful to touch, or even to stand upon, the bare sandstone. Excessive thirst soon began to be felt, and the party, unprepared for this, had only two pints of water with them, a portion of which they were forced to give to their dogs; all three of these, however, died of exhaustion. After a vain search of some hours, at length the welcome cry of “Water!” was heard from one of the party; but, alas! upon scrambling down the deep and difficult ravine where the water ran, it was found to be quite salty, and they were compelled to get up again as well as they could, unrefreshed and disheartened. After following the course of the deep valley upwards about half a mile, they looked down and saw some birds ascending from the thick woods growing below, and, knowing these white cockatoos to be a sure sign of water very near, the weary party again descended, and found a pool of brackish water, which, in their situation, appeared to afford the most delicious draughts, although they shortly afterwards paid the penalty of yet more intolerable thirst, arising from making too free with a beverage of such quality.

[Pg 13] The nature of the country near Hanover Bay, where the party belonging to Captain Grey was exploring, is most remarkable. The summits of the ranges of sandstone hills were generally a level sort of table-land, but this level was frequently broken and sometimes nearly covered with lofty detached pillars of rock, forming the most curious shapes in their various grouping. In one place they looked like the aisle of a church unroofed, in another there stood, upon a huge base, what appeared to be the legs of an ancient statue, from which the body had been knocked away; and fancy might make out many more such resemblances. Some of these time-worn sandy columns were covered with sweet-smelling creepers, and their bases were hidden by various plants growing thickly around them. The tops of all were nearly on a level, and the height of those that were measured was upwards of forty feet. The cause of this singular appearance of the country was at length discovered by the noise of water running under the present surface, in the hollows of the sandstone, and gradually carrying away the soil upon which the top surface rests. Formerly, no doubt, the level of the whole country was even with the tops of the broken pillars, and much higher; and hereafter what is now at the surface will give way beneath the wasting of the streams that flow below, and no traces of its present height will be left, except in those places where the power of the water is less felt, which will rear up their lofty heads, and bear witness by their presence of the ruin that will have taken place.

In wandering through a country of this description, how natural does the following little remark of Captain Grey appear! A plant was observed here, which, in appearance and smell, exactly resembled the jasmine of England; and it would be difficult to give an idea of the feeling of pleasure derived from the sight of this simple [Pg 14] emblem of home. But, while the least plant or tree that could remind them of home was gladly welcomed, there were many new and remarkable objects to engage the attention of the travellers. Among these the large green ants, and the gouty stem tree may be particularly noticed. The ants are, it would seem, confined to the sandstone country, and are very troublesome. The gouty stem tree is so named from the resemblance borne by its immense trunk to the limb of a gouty person. It is an unsightly but very useful tree, producing an agreeable and nourishing fruit, as well as a gum and bark that may be prepared for food. Upon some of these trees were found the first rude efforts of savages to gain the art of writing, being a number of marks, supposed to denote the quantity of fruit gathered from the tree each year, all but the last row being constantly scratched out, thus:

tally markings

But, miserable as the general appearance of that part of the north-western coast of New Holland undoubtedly is, yet are there many rich and lovely spots to be found in its neighbourhood; and, further inland, vast tracts of fertile country appear to want only civilised and Christian men for their inhabitants. What is wanting in the ensuing picture but civilisation and religion, in order to make it as perfect as any earthly abode can be? “From the summit of the hills on which we stood,” (says Captain Grey) “an almost precipitous descent led into a fertile plain below; and, from this part, away to the southward, for thirty to forty miles, stretched a low, luxuriant country, broken by conical peaks and rounded hills, which were richly clothed with grass to their very summits. The plains and hills were both thinly wooded, and curving lines of shady [Pg 15] trees marked out the courses of numerous streams.” This beautiful prospect was over a volcanic district, and with the sandstone which they were just leaving, they were bidding farewell to barrenness and desolation. It was near this beautiful spot, and in a country no less rich and delightful, that the party of adventurers was overtaken by the violent rains, which occur in those hot climates, and which struck the men with so great chill, that they were driven to make trial of an odd way of getting warm. Some of them got into a stream, the waters of which were comparatively warm, and thus saved themselves from the painful feeling arising from the very cold rain falling on the pores of the skin, which had previously been opened by continued perspiration.

The rains appear during the wet season to fall very heavily and constantly in North-Western Australia, and though a good supply of these is an advantage to an occupied country, well provided with roads, it is a great cause of trouble to first explorers who have to find a ford over every stream, and a passage across every swamp, and who often run the risk of getting into a perfectly impassable region. Of this sort, alike differing from the barren sandstone and the volcanic fertile country, was a third track through which Captain Grey endeavoured to pass. A vast extent of land lying low and level near the banks of the river Glenelg,[5] and well fitted, if properly drained, for the abundant growth of useful and valuable produce, was found, during the rainy season, to be in the state of a foul marsh, overgrown with vegetation, choking up the fresh water so as to cause a flood ankle-deep; and this marshy ground, [Pg 16] being divided by deep muddy ditches, and occasionally overflown by the river, offered, as may be supposed, no small hindrances to the progress of the travellers. In some places it was quite impossible, from the thickly-timbered character of its banks, to approach the main stream; in others they appeared to be almost entirely surrounded by sluggish waters, of which they knew neither the depth nor the nature of their banks. Elsewhere, unable to cross some deep stream, the explorers were driven miles out of their way, and sometimes even in their tents, the water stood to the depth of two or three inches. On one occasion, when the party was almost surrounded by swamps, their loaded ponies sank nearly up to the shoulders in a bog, whichever way they attempted to move, and from this spot they had two miles to travel before they could reach the nearest rising ground. The river Glenelg was at this time overflowing its banks, and, to the natural alarm of men wandering in its rich valley, drift-wood, reeds, grass, &c. were seen lodged in the trees above their heads, fifteen feet beyond the present level of the water, affording a proof of what floods in that country had been, and, of course, might be again. However, this very soil in so warm a climate, only about sixteen degrees south of the equator, would be admirably fitted for the cultivation of rice, which needs abundance of moisture. But little do the peaceful inhabitants of a cultivated country, well drained, and provided with bridges and good roads, think of the risk and hardships undergone by the first explorers of a new land, however great its capabilities, and whatever may be its natural advantages.

But it was not in the plain country alone, that Captain Grey found spots of great richness and fertility, as the following description of the happy vallies frequently [Pg 17] found among the mountain-ranges may testify: One may be chosen as a specimen of many. At its northern end it was about four miles wide, being bounded on all sides by rocky, wooded ranges, with dark gullies from which numerous petty streams run down into the main one in the centre. The valley gradually grows narrow towards the south, and is bounded by steep cliffs betwixt which the waters find an outlet. Sometimes a valley of this kind, most beautiful, most productive, will contain from four to five thousand acres of nearly level land, shut out from the rest of the world by the boundary of hills that enclose it. How great a contrast to these lovely vallies does the description, given by another traveller in a different district, present! Nothing, according to Mr. Oxley’s account, can be more monotonous and wearying, than the dull, unvarying aspect of the level and desolate region through which the Lachlan winds its sluggish course. One tree, one soil, one water, and one description of bird, fish, or animal, prevails alike for ten miles, and for a hundred. And, if we turn from this to a third picture of desolation mingled with sublimity, the contrast appears yet more heightened. Among the hills behind Port Macquarrie on the eastern coast, Mr. Oxley came suddenly upon the spot where a river, (the Apsley,) leaves the gently-rising and fine country through which it had been passing, and falls into a deep glen. At this spot the country seems cleft in twain, and divided to its very foundation, a ledge of rocks separates the waters, which, falling over a perpendicular rock, 235 feet in height, form a grand cascade. At a distance of 300 yards, and an elevation of as many feet, the travellers were wetted with the spray. After winding through the cleft rocks about 400 yards, the river again falls, in one single sheet, upwards of 100 [Pg 18] feet, and continues, in a succession of smaller falls, about a quarter of a mile lower, where the cliffs are of a perpendicular height, on each side exceeding 1,200 feet; the width of the edges being about 200 yards. From thence it descends, as before described, until all sight of it is lost from the vast elevation of the rocky hills, which it divides and runs through. The different points of this deep glen, seem as if they would fit into the opposite openings forming the smaller glens on either side.[6]

Amid scenery like that which has now been described, varying from grandeur to tameness, from fertility to barrenness, from extreme beauty to extreme ugliness, but always possessing, at least, the recommendation of being new, the wanderers in the Bush are delighted to range. There is a charm to enterprising spirits in the freedom, the stillness, and even in the dangers and privations, of these vast wilds, which, to such spirits, scenes of a more civilised character can never possess. If it be true,—and who has never felt it to be so?—that

“God made the country and man made the town,”

much more distinctly is God’s power visible in the lonely wastes of Australia, much more deeply do men feel, while passing through those regions, that it is His hand that has planted the wilderness with trees, and peopled the desert with living things. Under these impressions men learn to delight in exploring the bush, and when they meet, as they often do, with sweet spots, on which Nature has secretly lavished her choicest gifts, most thoroughly do they enjoy, most devotedly do they admire, their beauty. In travelling some miles to the northward of Perth, a town on the Swan River, [Pg 19] Captain Grey fell in with a charming scene, which he thus describes: “Our” station, “this night, had a beauty about it, which would have made any one, possessed with the least enthusiasm, fall in love with a bush life. We were sitting on a gently-rising ground, which sloped away gradually to a picturesque lake, surrounded by wooded hills,—while the moon shone so brightly on the lake, that the distance was perfectly clear, and we could distinctly see the large flocks of wild fowl, as they passed over our heads, and then splashed into the water, darkening and agitating its silvery surface; in front of us blazed a cheerful fire, round which were the dark forms of the natives, busily engaged in roasting ducks for us; the foreground was covered with graceful grass-trees, and, at the moment we commenced supper, I made the natives set fire to the dried tops of two of these, and by the light of these splendid chandeliers, which threw a red glare over the whole forest in our vicinity, we ate our evening meal; then, closing round the fire, rolled ourselves up in our blankets, and laid down to sleep.”

The very same feeling of religion, which heightens the pleasures and gives a keener relish to the enjoyments of life in these lonely places, can also afford comfort, and hope, and encouragement under those perils and privations which first explorers must undergo. Religion is the sun that brightens our summer hours, and gives us, even through the darkest and most stormy day, light, and confidence, and certainty. And when a small body of men are left alone, as it were, in the wilderness with their God, whatever occurs to them, whether of a pleasing or of a trying character, is likely to lift up their souls to their Maker, in whom “they live and move, and have their being.” When the patient traveller, of whose adventures in Western [Pg 20] Australia so much mention has been made, had waited weather-bound on a lonely coast, never before trodden by the foot of civilised man, until eight days had been consumed in watching to no purpose the winds and the waves,—when, at a distance of thousands of miles from their native country, and many hundreds of miles from the nearest English colony, he and his little party were wasting strength and provisions in a desert spot; from which their only means of escaping was in one frail boat, which the fury of the sea forbade them to think of launching upon the deep,—when the men, under these circumstances, were becoming more and more gloomy and petulant, where was it that the commander sought and found consolation? It was in religion. And the witness of one who has successfully gone through trials of this kind, is well deserving of the utmost attention. “I feel assured,” says Captain Grey, in his account of this trial of patience, “that, but for the support I derived from prayer, and frequent perusal and meditation of the Scriptures, I should never have been able to have borne myself in such a manner as to have maintained discipline and confidence amongst the rest of the party; nor in all my sufferings did I ever lose the consolation derived from a firm reliance upon the goodness of Providence. It is only those who go forth into perils and dangers, amidst which human foresight and strength can but little avail, and who find themselves, day after day, protected by an unseen influence, and ever and again snatched from the very jaws of destruction, by a power which is not of this world, who can at all estimate the knowledge of one’s own weakness and littleness, and the firm reliance and trust upon the goodness of the Creator, which the human breast is capable of feeling. Like all other lessons which are of great and lasting benefit to man, this one must be [Pg 21] learned amid much sorrowing and woe; but, having learned it, it is but the sweeter from the pain and toil which are undergone in the acquisition.”

The mention of these trials to which travellers in the bush are peculiarly liable, brings naturally to mind that worst of all privations, a want of water, to which they are so frequently exposed. The effects of extreme thirst are stated to have been shown, not merely in weakness and want, in a parched and burning mouth, but likewise in a partial loss of the senses of seeing and hearing. Indeed, the powers of the whole frame are affected, and, upon moving, after a short interval of rest, the blood rushes up into the head with a fearful and painful violence. A party of men reduced to this condition have very little strength, either of mind or body, left them, and it is stated, that, in cases of extreme privation, the worst characters have always least control over their appetites.[7] Imagine men marching through a barren and sandy country, a thirsty land where no water is, at the rate of about two miles in an hour and a quarter, when, suddenly, they come upon the edge of a dried-up swamp, and behold the footmark of a native, imprinted on the sand,—the first beginning of hope, a sign of animal life, which of course implies the means of supporting it. Many more footsteps are soon seen, and some wells of the natives are next discovered, but alas! all appear dry. Kaiber, a native companion of the party, suddenly starts up from a bed of reeds, where he has been burying his head in a hole of soft mud, with which he had completely swelled himself out, and of which he had helped himself to pretty well half the supply. It is so thick that it needs straining through a handkerchief, yet so welcome, after three days and two [Pg 22] nights of burning thirst, under a fierce sun, that each man throws himself down beside the hole, exclaiming “Thank God!” and then greedily swallows a few mouthfulls of the liquid mud, declaring it to be the most delicious water, with a peculiar flavour, better than any that had ever before been tasted by him. Upon scraping the mud quite out of the hole, water begins slowly to trickle in again.[8] As might be expected, game abounds here, driven by the general dryness of the country to these springs. But the trembling hand of a man worn down by fatigue and thirst is not equal to wield a gun, or direct its fire to any purpose; so it seems as if thirst were escaped for a time, in order that hunger might occupy its place. At length, however, the native kills a cockatoo, which had been wounded by a shot; and this bird, with a spoonful of flour to each man, and a tolerable abundance of liquid mud, becomes the means of saving the lives of the party.

Such is the picture, taken from life, of some of the privations undergone, during dry seasons, in certain portions of the bush, and we must, at the risk of being tedious, repeat again the witness of a military man, of one who has seen much of the world, respecting the best source of comfort and support under these distressing [Pg 23] trials. At such times, upon halting, when the others of the party would lie wearily down, and brood over their melancholy state, Captain Grey would keep his journal, (a most useful repository of facts,) and this duty being done, he would open a small New Testament, his companion through all his wanderings, from which book he drank in such deep draughts of comfort, that his spirits were always good. And on another occasion, he shared the last remaining portion of provision with his native servant; after which he actually felt glad that it was gone, and that he no longer had to struggle with the pangs of hunger, and put off eating it to a future hour. Having completed this last morsel, he occupied himself a little with his journal, then read a few chapters in the New Testament, and, after fulfilling these duties, he felt himself as contented and cheerful as ever he had been in the most fortunate moments of his life.

As in life, those objects which we have not, but of which we think we stand in need, are ever present to our fancy, so in these thirsty soils the mere appearance of that water, of which the reality would be so grateful, is frequently known to mock the sight of man. A remarkable specimen of this was seen at the plains of Kolaina (Deceit), in North-Western Australia. From a sand hill, not very far from the coast, was seen a splendid view of a noble lake, dotted about with many beautiful islands. The water had a glassy and fairy-like appearance, and it was an imposing feeling to sit down alone on the lofty eminence, and survey the great lake on which no European eye had ever before rested, and which was cut off from the sea by a narrow and lofty ridge of sandy hills. It was proposed at once to launch the boats upon this water, but a little closer survey was thought prudent, and then it proved that the lake was not so near as it had seemed to be, and that there were [Pg 24] extensive plains of mud and sand lying between it and the rising ground. It appeared to be about a mile distant, and all were still certain that it was water they saw, for the shadows of the low hills near it, as well as those of the trees upon them, could be distinctly traced on the unruffled surface.[9] As they advanced, the water retreated, and at last surrounded them. The party now saw that they were deceived by mirage,[10] or vapour, which changed the sandy mud of the plains they were crossing into the resemblance, at a distance, of a noble piece of water. In reading the history of mankind, how often may we apply this disappointment to moral objects! how very frequently do the mistaken eyes of mortals eagerly gaze upon the mirage raised by falsehood, as though they were beholding the living waters of truth itself! What appearance, indeed, does the whole world present to one who rests upon the everlasting hill of the gospel,—the rock upon which Christ’s church has been built,—except it be that of one vast plain of Kolaina, or deceit? It was no long time after the explorers of the north-western coast of New Holland had been mocked by the mirage or vapour which has just been spoken of, that they had a fearful lesson of the vain and shadowy nature of human hopes and expectations. When they had first arrived off the coast, on that expedition, they had chosen an island, named Bernier Island, upon which to bury, for the sake of safety, their stores and provisions, so that they might return to them whenever it should be necessary. Bernier Island is a barren spot, formed of limestone, shells, and sand, and without a [Pg 25] single tree or blade of grass upon it, but only wretched, scrubby bushes, amidst which the light sand and shells are drifted by the winds. Such was the remote spot, surrounded by the ocean’s waves, yet not very far from the main shore, upon which it was resolved to conceal their store of necessaries, secure, as it was supposed, from every enemy. In little more than three weeks, during which the adventurers had gone through many perils, and much stormy weather, they returned again, not without some difficulty, to their stores. But on approaching Bernier Island with their boat they scarcely knew it again, so vast a difference had the recent storms made in its outward appearance, so fearful were the pranks which the hurricane had played upon a land which was, in fact, nothing but loose sand, heaped upon a bed of limestone. The place where their stores had been securely left was gone, the remains of the flour-casks, salt provisions, &c. were scattered about in various directions; and the whole spot so entirely altered that it could hardly be ascertained, except by the fragments that were seen near it. How to get back again to Swan River, the nearest British settlement, without provisions, without water, without strength, was indeed a perplexing inquiry, and to answer this the leader of the party, having left his companions for a while, set himself seriously to work. Sitting down upon a rock on the shore, he felt the gale blowing fiercely in his face, and the spray of the breakers dashing over him; nothing could be more gloomy and dreary. Inland, no objects were to be seen but a mere bed of rock covered with drifting sand, on which were growing stunted, scrubby bushes; and former experience taught him, that no fresh water was to be found in the island. Several plans of escape, all apparently alike hopeless, offered themselves to his mind, and, more fully to compose [Pg 26] himself, he took forth his constant companion in the wilderness, and read a few chapters of Holy Writ. Contentment and resignation were thus in some degree gained, and he soon joined the rest of the party, having resolved upon that plan, which God’s providence and mercy finally enabled him to carry out, without losing, from a party of twelve, constantly exposed during a very long journey to most dreadful toils, hunger, and thirst, more than one man only, who died at no great distance from the English colony. That one person was a youth of eighteen years of age, who had come out from England, led solely by an enterprising spirit, and not with any view of settling. On the return of the party under Captain Grey towards Swan River, they were so sadly pinched by want of provisions, and by thirst, that five of them were obliged to start with their leader, in order to reach the British colony by forced marches, and Frederick Smith, the youthful adventurer, was one of those that remained behind. After undergoing extreme trials, which from his age he was less able to bear than the others, he, at last, became quite worn out, and sat down, one evening, on a bank, declaring that he could go no further. He was behind the rest of the party, and the man who was with him went and told his companions that he thought Smith was dying. The next morning that man went back for him; but, being himself very weak, he did not go far enough, at all events he did not find him. Probably, the poor sufferer had crawled a little out of the track, for, afterwards, when a party was sent from Swan River in search of him, they traced, with the help of a native, his footsteps up a bare sand hill to the height of twelve or fourteen feet, and there, turning about to the left, they found the object of their search stretched lifeless upon his back, in the midst of a thick bush, where he seemed to have [Pg 27] laid down to sleep, being half wrapped up in his blanket.[11] All his little articles of baggage were very near him, and, from the posture in which he was found, it appeared that the immediate cause of his death was a rush of blood to the head, which would occasion no great suffering in his last moments. A grave was scraped in the sand by the searching party, and Frederic Smith was buried in the wilderness wherein he had died, and which he had been among the first to explore, about seventy-six miles northward of the Swan River. The grave was made smooth, and a piece of wood found upon the neighbouring beach was placed at its head, and then the solitary spot was forsaken for ever by the mourning companions of the departed youth, who left

“Heaven’s fresh gales, and the ocean’s wave,
Alternate to sigh o’er the wanderer’s grave.”[12]

It was only six weeks before this untimely end of the young explorer, that he had set out, full of hope, on the long journey by the coast, which the party made on their return, and had been a leading character in such beautiful pictures of life in the Australian wilderness as [Pg 28] this which is given by his friend Captain Grey. “We soon found ourselves at the foot of a lofty cascade, down which a little water was slowly dropping; and, on climbing to its summit, it appeared to be so well fitted for a halting-place for the night, that I determined to remain there. The men made themselves comfortable near the water-holes, and Mr. Smith and myself crept into a little cave, which occasionally served as a resting-place for the natives, the remains of whose fires were scattered about. A wild woodland and rocky scenery was around us; and when the moon rose and shed her pale light over all, I sat with Mr. Smith on the edge of the waterfall, gazing by turns into the dim woody abyss below, and at the red fires and picturesque groups of the men, than which fancy could scarcely imagine a wilder scene.”

It is no uncommon mistake, with persons who ought to know better, to magnify the toils and hardships endured by the body, while those labours and anxieties that the mind undergoes are disregarded and forgotten. Every man engaged in an exploring party in the bush, for instance, has his severe trials to go through, but their trials are not to be compared to those of the commander of the party. How often when the rest are sleeping must he be watchful? How frequently, while others are gay, must he feel thoughtful! These remarks may easily be applied to the following description of the coast near Shark’s Bay, in the N. W. of the island of New Holland. There was great beauty in the scenery, both the sky and the water had that peculiar brilliancy about them to be seen only in fine weather, and in a very warm climate. To the west lay a boundless extent of sea, to the eastward was a low shore fringed with trees, not only down to the water’s edge, but forming little green knots of foliage in the ocean itself; behind these [Pg 29] trees were low wooded hills, and in front of them were numbers of pelicans and water-fowl. There was only about three feet depth of clear transparent water, through which were seen many beautiful and large shells, and various strange-looking fish, at some of which last one or other of Captain Grey’s men would sometimes make an attack, while loud peals of laughter would rise from the rest, when the pursuer, too anxious to gain his object, would miss his stroke at the fish, or, stumbling, roll headlong in the water. The fineness of the day, the novelty of the scenery, and the rapid way they were making, made the poor fellows forget past dangers, as well as those they had yet to undergo. But this was more than their commander was able to do. “My own meditations,” adds Captain Grey, “were of a more melancholy character, for I feared that the days of some of the light-hearted group were already numbered, and would soon be brought to a close. Amid such scenes and thoughts we were swept along, while this unknown coast, which so many had anxiously yet vainly wished to see, passed before our eyes like a dream, and ere many more years have hurried by, it is possible that the recollection of this day may be as such to me.”

Among the wonders of Nature to be met with in the Australian bush, the large rivers occasionally dried up to their very lowest depth by the extreme drought, are very remarkable. Few natural objects can equal in beauty and utility a river in its proper state,—

“Though deep, yet clear; though gentle, yet not dull;
Strong without rage, without o’erflowing full;”

but few can exceed in terror and destruction a large river in time of flood; while nothing, surely, can surpass in horror and desolation the same object when its stream is wasted, its waters disappeared, its usefulness [Pg 30] and beauty alike gone. This spectacle is, fortunately, but rarely seen, except in Australia, and even there only after very dry seasons. One river seen in this state consisted of several channels or beds, divided from each other by long strips of land, which in times of flood become islands; the main channel was about 270 yards in breadth, and the height of its bank was about fifteen feet. After the exploring party had passed the highest point in the channel to which the tide flowed from the sea, this huge river bed was perfectly dry, and looked the most mournful, deserted spot imaginable. Occasionally water-holes were found eighteen or twenty feet in depth, and it is from these alone that travellers have been enabled to satisfy their thirst in crossing over the unexplored parts of the bush, where no water could elsewhere be obtained. Still, notwithstanding the extreme drought by which they were surrounded, the strangers could see by the remaining drift wood, which had been washed high up into the neighbouring trees, what rapid and overpowering currents sometimes swept along the now dry channel.

On another occasion the same singular object is powerfully described, and the feelings of men, who had long been in need of water, at beholding a sight like this can scarcely be imagined. Beneath them lay the dry bed of a large river, its depth at this point being between forty and fifty feet, and its breadth upwards of 300 yards; it was at times subject to terrible floods, for along its banks lay the trunks of immense trees, giants of the forest, which had been formerly washed down from the interior of the country; yet nothing now met their craving eyes but a vast sandy channel, which scorched their eyeballs, as the rays of the sun were reflected back from its white, glistening bed. Above and below this spot, however, large pools of water were found, and even [Pg 31] here, when a hole of a few inches depth was scraped in the dry channel, it soon became filled with water which oozed into it from the sand. At another stream, which the same exploring party afterwards fell in with, they were less successful, and found all the pools entirely dry. The sun was intensely hot, and the poor men grew faint for want of water, while it heightened their sufferings, that they stood upon the brink of a river, or wandered along its banks with eager, piercing eyes, and an air of watchfulness peculiar to those who seek for that on which their lives depend. One while they explored a shallow, stony part of the bed, which was parched up and blackened by the fiery sun: their steps were slow and listless, and it was plainly to be seen how faint, weak, and weary they were; the next minute another pool would be seen ahead, the depth of which the eye could not at a distance reach; now they hurried on towards it with a dreadful look of eager anxiety—the pool was reached—the bottom seen; but, alas! no water: then they paused, and looked one at the other with an air of utter despair. The order to march from this distressing spot was unwillingly and slowly obeyed. So fondly does the human soul cling to the very faintest semblance of hope, that the adventurers would rather have wandered up and down these barren and arid banks, in vain search after water, than tear themselves away by one bold effort from the deceitful expectations held out to them by the empty channel.

It was on his return from a journey attended by perils and privations like these, that Captain Grey relates the following simple occurrence, which may help to make men value more highly, or rather prize more justly, the many little comforts they may possess: The Captain had left some of his men behind, and was hastening with all speed to the settlement of Perth, in Western Australia, [Pg 32] in order to get assistance and necessaries for them. Starting an hour and a half before daylight, he reached the hut of Williams, the farthest settler, north of Perth, in time to find the wife and another woman at breakfast. He had known Mrs. Williams, and, forgetting how strangely want and suffering had changed his appearance for the worse, he expected her to remember him again. But he was mistaken for a crazy Malay, nicknamed Magic, who used to visit the houses of the out-settlers. Hurt at his reception, “I am not Magic,” exclaimed he. “Well then, my good man, who are you?” inquired they, laughing. “One who is almost starved,” was his solemn reply. “Will you take this, then?” said the hostess, handing him a cup of tea she was raising to her lips. “With all my heart and soul, and God reward you for it,” was the answer; and he swallowed the delicious draught. Who can fail of being reminded, upon reading this anecdote, of those gracious and beautiful words of his Redeemer—“Whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward”? (Mark ix. 41.)

The mention of the out-settler’s hut, in which Captain Grey met with this small, but most acceptable, kindness, may serve to remind us of an object, which, although not, strictly speaking, belonging to the bush, is, nevertheless, very frequently seen in that part of the wild country which is most visited,—the portions of it which are adjoining to the British settlements. In these parts of the bush the small hut of the humble out-settler may often be espied; and, while we speak of the toils and privations frequently undergone by this class of people at first, we must not forget that they are thus opening to themselves a way to future wealth and comfort. Nor, be it recollected, is the condition of an out-settler [Pg 33] in the Australian bush any more a fair average specimen of that of the inhabitants of the colonies than the owner of a mud-hovel raised on some English heath would be of the inhabitants of the parish in which he happens to dwell. One strong difference may be seen in the two cases. In England the cottager must, in all likelihood, live and die a cottager, as his fathers have done before him, and his children will after him; whereas, in the Australian colonies, with prudence and the Divine blessing, (without which a man can do well nowhere) the humble out-settler may gradually, yet rapidly, grow up into the wealthy and substantial farmer and landowner. Bearing in mind these facts, the following sketch of the premises of an out-settler on the river Williams, at the back of the Swan River settlement, in Western Australia, may be at once instructive, and not unsuitable to the subject of this chapter. The house was made of a few upright poles, to which, at the top, cross poles were fastened, and a covering of rude thatch tied upon the whole. It was open at both ends, and exposed to the wind, which, as the situation was high, was very unpleasant. Here, however, were the elements of future riches, a very large flock of sheep, in fair condition, also a well-supplied stock-yard, and cattle in beautiful order; while upwards of twenty dogs, for hunting the kangaroo, completed the establishment. The settlers were four in number, and, except four soldiers quartered about sixteen miles from them, there were no other Europeans within fifty miles of the spot. All stores and necessaries were sent from a distance of 120 miles, through a country without roads, and exposed to the power of the native inhabitants. In this but might be seen a lively picture of the trials occasionally endured by first settlers; they had no flour, tea, sugar, meat, or any provision whatever, except [Pg 34] their live stock and the milk of their cattle, their sole dependence for any other article of food being the kangaroo dogs, and the only thing their visitors were able to do to better their situation was to leave them some shot. All other circumstances were on the same scale with them, and one, supposing them to have been faithful members of the Church of their native land, must have been the most grievous privation of all:—

“The sound of the church-going bell
Those valleys and rocks never heard;
Never sighed at the sound of a knell,
Nor smiled when a sabbath appear’d.”

They had but one old clasp knife; there was but one small bed, for one person, the others sleeping on the ground every night, with little or no covering; they had no soap to wash themselves or their clothes, yet they submitted cheerfully to all these privations, considering them to be necessary consequences of their situation. Two of these out-settlers were gentlemen, not only by birth, but also in thought and manner; nor can it be doubted that they were really happier than many an idle young man to be seen lounging about in England, a burden to himself and to his friends. Idleness and vice have often in England been the means of levelling with the dust the lordly mansion, whilst industry, in the wilds of Australia, can rear a comfortable dwelling on the very spot where once stood the hut of the out-settler.

Scattered round the shores of New Holland at various distances are many small islands and rocks, the prevailing appearance of which is that of extreme barrenness. On many of these it would seem that no human beings had ever set their feet before the Europeans, and especially the English, explored those coasts. In several parts the natives were without any means of conveyance [Pg 35] across even a narrow arm of the sea, and thus the brute creation were left in a long and undisturbed possession of many of the isles which lie near the main land. In the more barren and miserable of these the bird called the sooty petrel, and the seal, are the principal animals to be found, whilst in those that are somewhat more fruitful, kangaroos, also, and emus are to be found; the smaller breed of kangaroos being usually met with in the smaller islands, and the larger species on the main land or in islands of a greater extent. The following short account, by Captain Flinders, may serve as a specimen of the lesser isles: Great flocks of petrels had been noticed coming in from the sea to the island, and early next morning, a boat was sent from the ship to collect a quantity of them for food, and to kill seals, but the birds were already moving off, and no more than four seals, of the hair kind, were procured. Upon the men going on shore, the island was found to be a rock of granite, but this was covered with a crust of limestone or chalk, in some places fifty feet thick. The soil at the top was little better than sand, but was overspread with shrubs, mostly of one kind, a whitish velvet-like plant, amongst which the petrels, who make their nests underground, had burrowed everywhere, and, from the extreme heat of the sun, the reflection of it from the sand, and frequently being sunk half way up the leg in these holes, the sailors, little used to difficulties in land-travelling, were scarcely able to reach the highest hill near the middle of the island. It was in the neighbourhood of scattered sandy spots of this description that the sailors of Captain Flinders would often endeavour successfully to improve their ordinary fare by catching a few fish. On one occasion they were very much hindered by three monstrous sharks, in whose presence no other fish dared to appear. After some attempts, and with much difficulty, [Pg 36] they took one of these creatures, and got it on board the ship. In length it was no more than twelve feet three inches, but the body measured eight feet round. Among the vast quantity of things contained in the stomach was a tolerably large seal, bitten in two, and swallowed with half of the spear sticking in it, with which it had probably been killed by the natives. The stench of this ravenous monster was great, even before it was dead; and, when the stomach was opened, it became intolerable.

Quite contrary, in many respects, to these sandy islands, and yet but little superior to them in fruitfulness, are some of those which were visited by the same enterprising voyager on the eastern coast of Australia. Their shores were very low, so much so, that frequently a landing is impossible, and generally very difficult, on account of the mud; and often a vast quantity of mangrove trees are found growing in the swamps that surround the shores, and choking the soil with a rank vegetation. On one of these islands when a landing had been effected without a very great deal of trouble, and a rising ground was reached, the sides of this little eminence were found to be so steep, and were so thickly covered with trees and shrubs, bound together and interlaced with strong plants, resembling vines in their growth, that all attempts to reach the top of the hill were without success. It appeared to be almost easier to have climbed up the trees, and have scrambled from one to another upon the vines, than to have threaded a way through the perplexing net-work formed by these plants, beneath which all was darkness and uncertainty.

There are, however, some few islands, which promise to become, at a future time, inhabited and cultivated spots, being neither so entirely naked, nor yet so choked up by a poor and hungry vegetation concealing a thin soil, as those already described. Of these more smiling [Pg 37] spots the large island, off the western coast, called Kangaroo Island, may serve for a specimen. A thick wood covered almost all that part of the island which was seen from the ship by Captain Flinders, but the trees that were alive were not so large as those lying on the ground, nor as the dead trees still standing upright. Those upon the ground were so abundant, that, in ascending the higher land, a considerable part of the walk was upon them. No inhabitants were seen in the island, but yet it seemed, from the appearance of the trees, as though, at the distance of some years, the woods had been destroyed by fire. The soil, so far as it was seen, was thought very good, and the trees bore witness of this by their size and growth; yet so frequently do travellers, like doctors, disagree, that another explorer, Captain Sturt, pronounces this spot to be not by any means fertile. The quantity of kangaroos found here was remarkable enough to give a name to the island; and so entirely were these harmless animals strangers to the power of man, that they suffered themselves to be approached and killed without any efforts to escape. Captain Flinders, on the first day of landing, killed ten, and the rest of his party made up the number to thirty-one taken on board in the course of the day, the least weighing 69 and the largest 125 lbs. The whole ship’s company were employed that afternoon in skinning and cleaning the kangaroos, and a delightful feast they afforded to men who for four months had scarcely tasted any fresh provisions. Never, perhaps, had the dominion held here by these creatures been before disturbed; the seals, indeed, shared it with the kangaroos on the shores, but they seemed to dwell peacefully together, each animal occasionally wandering into the haunts of the other, so that a gun fired at a [Pg 38] kangaroo upon the beach would sometimes bring forth two or three bellowing seals from underneath bushes a good deal further from the water-side. The seal, indeed, was the most knowing creature of the two, for its actions bespoke that it distinguished the sailors from kangaroos, whereas the latter not uncommonly appeared to mistake them for seals. Indeed it is curious to trace the total absence of all knowledge of man in these distant isles of Australia. In another island a white eagle was seen making a motion to pounce down upon the British sailors, whom it evidently took for kangaroos, never, probably, having seen an upright animal, (except that, when moving upon its hind legs,) and naturally, therefore, mistaking the men for its usual prey.

In another part of Kangaroo Island, which was afterwards visited, a large piece of water was discovered at the head of a bay, and in this water an immense number of pelicans were seen; upon some small islets were found many young birds yet unable to fly, and upon the surrounding beach a great number of old ones were seen, while the bones and skeletons of many lay scattered about. So that it appeared to be at once the breeding-place and death-bed of these birds, who, in the hidden bosom of a quiet lake, in an uninhabited island, had long continued to extend their race, generation after generation retiring to the same spot where they were first brought to light, and there ending their days in tranquillity. In this part of the island kangaroos were less plentiful than in the other, but the soil appeared equally promising, and in all likelihood, before many years have flown by, trees, seals, kangaroos, and pelicans will all be forced to give up their old domains, and be destroyed before the pressing wants and daring spirit of the British emigrant. One important hindrance is noticed by [Pg 39] Flinders,—the scarcity of water,—but the presence of so many animals shows that there is an abundance somewhere, though he could find but a scanty supply in one single spot. In Kangaroo Island only one accident occurred which showed any disposition or power on the part of its old inhabitants to wage war with the intruders. One of the sailors having attacked a large seal without proper caution, was so severely bitten in the leg, that he was not merely laid up in consequence of this hurt, but was obliged to be discharged, three months afterwards, when the ship was refitted at Sydney.

In addition to the numerous barren rocks and the few tolerably large wooded islands, which encircle the shores of Australia, there is a third description of isles or rocks, which must not be passed over altogether without notice. The substance called coral is well known in Europe, but with us the name connects itself with very different objects from those to which it is related in Australia. Here female ornaments and toys for infants are almost the only objects to be seen that are formed of coral; there it forms the most stupendous rocks or reefs, which serve frequently for a foundation to islands of no mean size; indeed, in one part of the north-eastern coast of Australia, the coral reefs are known to extend not less than 350 miles in a straight line, without a single opening of any magnitude occurring in them.

Among these, surrounded by dangers, did Captain Flinders sail, during fourteen days, for more than 500 miles before he could escape into less perilous seas. Upon landing on one of these reefs, when the water was clear, the view underneath, from the edge of the rocks, was extremely beautiful. Quite a new creation, but still not unlike the old, was offered to the view. There appeared wheat-sheaves, mushrooms, stags’ horns, cabbage-leaves, [Pg 40] and a variety of other forms, glowing under water with brilliant tints, of every shade betwixt green, purple, brown, and white; equalling in beauty and surpassing in grandeur the most favourite flower-bed of the curious florist. These appearances were, in fact, different sorts of coral, and fungus, growing, as it were, out of the solid rock, and each had its own peculiar form and shade of colouring, but yet the spectators, who knew their ship to be hemmed in by rocks of this material, while considering the richness of the scene, could not long forget with what power of destruction it was gifted.

The cause of these coral rocks and islands, which are slowly, but certainly, increasing, is a very small marine insect, by which the substance called coral is formed. These work under water, generation after generation contributing its share in the construction of what, in the course of ages, becomes a solid rock, exalting its head above the face of the surrounding waters, and rising sometimes from the depth of 200 fathoms, and perhaps even more. To be constantly covered with water seems necessary to these minute animals, for they do not work, except in holes upon the reef, beyond low-water-mark; but the coral and other broken remains thrown up by the sea lodge upon the rock and form a solid mass with it, as high as the common tides reach. The new bank is not long left unvisited by sea-birds; salt-plants take root upon it, and a kind of soil begins to be formed; a cocoa-nut,[13] or the seed of some other tree, is thrown on shore; land-birds visit it, and deposit the seeds of fresh [Pg 41] shrubs or trees; every high tide, and still more every gale, adds something to the bank; the form of an island is by degrees assumed; and, last of all, comes man to take possession.

[Pg 42]

image explorers finding the bed of a dried up river.




It needs only a single glance at the map of New Holland to see that, like most other countries, and even more than most others, the coasts are well known, while the interior parts are comparatively undiscovered, and, to a great extent, totally so. And, although a much more minute description of the shores of this immense island might easily be given, although we might accompany Flinders or King in their navigation of its intricate seas, and survey of its long line of coast, yet this part of the subject must necessarily be passed over without detaining us any further. A very considerable portion of the sea-coast of New Holland is not much unlike that in the Gulph of Carpentaria, in the north part of the island, where, when Captain Flinders had reached the highest spot he could find in 175 leagues of coast,—this loftiest [Pg 43] hill did not much exceed the height of the ship’s masthead! And where the shores are not of this exceedingly level character, they are usually sterile, sandy, and broken, so as to offer rather an uninviting aspect to the stranger. It is obvious that, in either case, whether the coast be flat or barren, there may be many beautiful and lovely districts within a day’s journey inland; and nothing is more absurd than to take exception against the whole of a country merely because its borders and boundaries are forbidding. In the case of New Holland, it is true, the same sort of barrenness extends itself very much into the interior of the land; but, if we pursue the patient footsteps and daring discoveries of those few Europeans who have penetrated far into its inland parts, we shall find many interesting scenes described, and much both of the sublime and beautiful in nature brought before us.

One of the principal scenes on which have been displayed the perseverance and courage of the explorers of the interior is the banks of the river Darling. This stream, which has its source on the western side of the long range of mountains running parallel with the coast, and called in the colony the Blue Mountains, carries off the drainage of an immense extent of country, to the westward and north-westward of New South Wales. In fact, except in the southern parts of that colony, where the Lachlan and Murrumbidgee carry off the waters which do not fall eastwards to the coast, all the streams that rise upon or beyond the Blue Mountains, and take a westerly direction, finally meet together in the basin of the Darling.[14] It might be imagined that a [Pg 44] river into which is carried the drainage of so extensive a district would be always well supplied with water, and so it would be in other countries, but the streams of New Holland are altogether different from those in other parts of the world. Comparatively, indeed, the Darling does assert its superiority over most of the other water-courses of that country; for, at a season when their channels were, in general, absolutely without water, or dwindled down into mere chains of muddy ponds, the Darling still continued to wind its slow current, carrying a supply of excellent water through the heart of a desert district. Along the weary plains by which its course is bounded, it proceeds for not less than 660 miles,[15] without receiving, so far as is known, a single tributary stream; and, from its waters being occasionally salt, it is supposed to owe its support, in its reduced state during very dry seasons, chiefly to natural springs. Its bed is, on an average, about sixty feet below the common surface of the country. There are no traces of water-courses on the level plains, and it would appear that, whatever moisture descends from the higher grounds, which (where there are any at all,) are seldom less than twelve miles from the Darling, must be taken up by the clayey soil, so as scarcely to find its way down to the river, except it be by springs. The average breadth of the stream at the surface, when low, is about fifty yards, but oftener less than this, and seldom more. The fall of the country through which it passes, in that part of its course through the interior, which was first [Pg 45] explored by Major Mitchell, is very trifling; and it is the opinion of that officer, that the swiftness of its course never exceeds one mile per hour, but that it is in general much less. At the time of the Major’s expedition, the water actually flowing, as seen at one or two shallow places, did not exceed in quantity that which would be necessary to turn a mill. But, with all this scantiness of supply during the dry season then prevailing,[16] the marks of tremendous inundations were plain upon the surface of the country, frequently extending two miles back from the ordinary channel of the waters. And everywhere the banks of the river displayed the effect of floods in parallel lines, marking on the smooth sloping earth the various heights to which the waters had at different periods arisen. The surface of the plains nearest the river is unlike any part of the earth’s face that the travellers had elsewhere seen. It was clear of vegetation, like a fallow-field, but less level, and quite full of holes, big enough to receive the whole leg, and sometimes the body, of the unfortunate persons who might slip into them. Galloping or trotting in such a country was out of the question, and as the surface of this dry and cracked soil was soft and loose, it was very fatiguing for draught. Six of the bullocks accompanying the expedition never returned from the Darling. Yet, how much preferable was the country, even in this state, to that in which a flood would have placed it; for, had rainy weather, or any overflowing of the river, happened, travelling upon the banks of the Darling would have become absolutely impossible.

But the river Darling itself, though it appears as a [Pg 46] principal and independent stream during so long a course, is, we have little reason to doubt, no more than an important tributary to the chief of Australian rivers, the Murray. This last channel collects eventually all the waters flowing in a westward direction upon the eastern side of New Holland, between the latitudes of 28° S. and 36° S. The Darling, the Lachlan, and the Murrumbidgee, without mentioning streams of minor importance, all find their way southwards into the basin of the Murray, which is really a noble river, and does not seem subject to the same deplorable impoverishment, which most of the others suffer in very dry seasons. It was very earnestly anticipated that the mouth of a stream like this would probably form a good harbour, and thus afford a reasonable prospect of its hereafter becoming a busy navigable river, the means of furnishing inland communication to a considerable distance. This is, of all things, what New Holland appears most to want, but the want is not (as we shall shortly find) adequately supplied by the entrance to the Murray. A like failure occurs at the entrance of other Australian rivers, as in the instance of a much smaller but very beautiful stream, the Glenelg, which falls into a shallow basin within the sandy hills of the southern coast, the outlet being between two rocky heads, but choked up with the sands of the beach. We cannot, while we read of the scanty means of inland navigation, with which it has pleased Divine Providence to favour an island so enormous as New Holland, but feel thankful for the abundant advantages of this kind which our own native islands possess; but at the same time there is no reason to despair, even yet, of a navigable river being discovered in New Holland;[17] or, at [Pg 47] the worst, the modern invention of rail-roads may supersede, in a great measure, the need of other communication.

It would be impossible to compress into a moderate compass the various interesting particulars, which have been related of the rivers of New Holland and their neighbouring districts; but for this and much other pleasing information the reader may be referred, once for all, to the works of those travellers, whose names have been already so frequently mentioned. It is a curious fact that almost every stream of the least consequence in New Holland, appears to have its peculiar features, and a character and scenery of its own, which continue throughout its course, so that it could often be recognised by travellers coming upon it a second time, and at a different part of its career towards the sea. The beautifully-timbered plains, or the limestone cliffs of the noble Murray—the naked plains that bound on either side the strip of forest-trees of huge dimensions, by which the Lachlan is bordered,—the constantly full stream, the water-worn and lightly-timbered banks, the clear open space between the river and its distant margin of reeds, which mark the character of the Murrumbidgee,—the low grassy banks or limestone rocks, the cascades and caverns, the beautiful festoons of creeping plants, the curious form of the duck-billed platypus,[18] which are to be found on the Glenelg; the sandstone wastes of the Wollondilly, the grassy surface of the pretty Yarrayne,[19] with its trees on its brink [Pg 48] instead of on its bank; the peculiar grandeur of the tremendous ravine, 1,500 feet in depth, down which the Shoalhaven flows; these and many more remarkable features of scenery in the Australian rivers, would afford abundance of materials for description either in poetry or prose. But we can now notice only one more peculiarity which most of these streams exhibit; they have, at a greater or less distance from their proper channels, secondary banks, beyond which floods rarely or never are known to extend. In no part of the habitable world is the force of contrast more to be observed than in Australia. A very able scientific writer[20] has ingeniously represented three persons travelling in certain directions across Great Britain, and finishing their journeys with three totally different impressions of the soil, country, and inhabitants; one having passed through a rocky and mining district, the second through a coal country peopled by manufacturers, and a third having crossed a chalky region devoted entirely to agriculture. An observation of this kind is even still more true of New Holland. And, consequently, when, instead of pursuing the course of certain similar lines of country, the traveller crosses these, the changes that take place in the appearance and productions of the various districts are exceedingly striking and follow sometimes in very rapid succession. A few examples of these contrasts, which arise in Australia from the nature of the seasons, as well as from that of the soil or climate, may here be noticed. [Pg 49] How great a change did the exploring party under Major Mitchell experience, when, after tracing for forty-nine days the dry bed of the Lachlan, they suddenly saw a magnificent stream of clear and running water before them, and came upon the Murrumbidgee. Its banks, unlike those of the former channel, were clothed with excellent grass; a pleasing sight for the cattle—and it was no slight satisfaction to their possessors to see the jaded animals, after thirsting so long among the muddy holes of the Lachlan, drinking at this full and flowing stream. And yet, so different are the series of seasons, at intervals, that, down the very river of which Mitchell speaks in 1836 as a deep, dry ravine, containing only a scanty chain of small ponds, the boats of its first explorer, Mr. Oxley, had, in 1817, floated during a space of fifteen days, until they had reached a country almost entirely flooded, and the river seemed completely to lose itself among the shallow waters! During the winter of 1835, the whale-boats were drawn by the exploring party 1,600 miles over land,[21] without finding a river, where they could be used; whereas, in 1817 and 1818, Mr. Oxley had twice retired by nearly the same routes, and in the same season of the year, from supposed inland seas![22] So that, in fact, we rise from the perusal of two accounts of travellers of credit, both exploring the very same country, with the impression, from one statement, that there exists an endless succession of swamps, or an immense shallow, inland lake; where, from the other, we are taught to believe, there is nothing but a sandy desert to be found, or dry and cracked plains of clay, baked hard by the heat of the sun.

Changes of this sort in the seasons, affecting so [Pg 50] powerfully the appearance of whole districts, cannot but have a proportionable effect on particular spots. Regent’s Lake, the “noble lake,” as its first discoverer, Oxley, called it, was, when Mitchell visited it, for the most part, a plain covered with luxuriant grass;[23] some good water, it is true, lodged on the most eastern extremity, but nowhere to a greater depth than a foot. There ducks and swans, in vast numbers, had taken refuge, and pelicans stood high upon their legs above the remains of Regent’s Lake. On its northern margin, and within the former boundary of the lake, stood dead trees of a full-grown size, which had been apparently killed by too much water, plainly showing to what long periods the extremes of drought and moisture have extended, and may again extend, in this singular country. And some of the changes in scenery, within a short distance, and frequently arising from the same causes, the presence or absence of water, are very remarkable. In Major Mitchell’s journal, at the date of April 10th, may be found the following observations: “We had passed through valleys, on first descending from the mountains, where the yellow oat-grass resembled a ripe crop of grain. But this resemblance to the emblem of plenty, made the desolation of these hopeless solitudes only the more apparent, abandoned, as they then were, alike by man, beast, and bird. No living thing remained in these valleys, for water, that element so essential to life, was a want too obvious in the dismal silence, (for not an insect hummed,) and the yellow hues of withering vegetation.” On the next [Pg 51] page of the journal, under the events of the following day, what a contrast appears:—“The evening was beautiful; the new grass springing in places where it had been burnt, presented a shining verdure in the rays of the descending sun; the songs of the birds accorded here with other joyous sounds, the very air seemed alive with the music of animated nature, so different was the scene in this well-watered valley, from that of the parched and silent region from which we had just descended. The natives, whom we met here, were fine-looking men, enjoying contentment and happiness, within the precincts of their native woods.” They were very civil, and presented a burning stick to the strangers, at the moment when they saw that they wanted fire, in a manner expressive of welcome and of a wish to assist them. At a distance were the native fires, and the squalling of children might be heard, until at night the beautiful moon came forth, and the soft notes of a flute belonging to one of the Englishmen fell agreeably on the ear, while the eye was gratified by the moonbeams, as they gleamed from the trees, amid the curling smoke of the temporary encampment. The cattle were refreshing themselves in green pastures. It was Saturday night, and next day the party was to rest. How sweet a spot to repose from their toils and sufferings, and to lift up their hearts towards the mercy-seat of Him,—

“Who, in the busy crowded town,
Regards each suppliant’s cry;—
Who, whether Nature smile or frown,
Man’s wants can still supply.”

One of the greatest victories over natural difficulties that was ever gained by British courage and perseverance, was the exploring of the course of the Morrumbidgee and Murray rivers by Captain Sturt and his [Pg 52] party, in the year 1830; and since their route was through a new country, and their descent from the high lands south-westward of Sydney, to the southern coast of New Holland was an amazing enterprise to project, much more to accomplish, an abridged account of it may not be unacceptable to the reader. And when it is remembered that the sight of the gallant officer commanding this expedition, was sacrificed almost entirely to “the effect of exposure and anxiety of mind in the prosecution of geographical researches,”[24] this fact may add to the interest which we feel in his adventures. The Murrumbidgee is a river which runs westerly from the district called Yass Plains, situated very nearly at the south-western extremity of New South Wales. It was for the purpose of exploring the course of this fine stream, that Captain Sturt was sent out at the latter end of 1829, and he had reached by land-conveyance a swampy region exactly resembling those marshes in which the Lachlan and Macquarie rivers had been supposed by Mr. Oxley to lose themselves. To proceed further by land was impossible, and, since they had brought with them a whale-boat, which had been drawn by oxen for many a weary mile, it was resolved to launch this on the river, a smaller boat was built in seven days only, and both boats being laden with necessaries, and manned with six hands, arrangements were made for forming a depôt, and the rest of the party were sent back; and when the explorers thus parted company in the marshy plains of the Morrumbidgee, it appeared doubtful even to themselves whether they were ever likely to meet again in this world. Of the country, whither the stream would carry the little crew of adventurers, literally nothing was known. There [Pg 53] might be a vast inland sea,—and then how could they hope with their frail barks to navigate it in safety for the very first time? Or, even if they did so, how were they to force their way back again to the remote dwelling-places of civilised man? The river might gradually waste itself among the morasses; and then, with their boats become useless for want of depth of water, how were they to walk across those endless levels of soft mud? or, supposing that to be practicable, how were their provisions to be conveyed, or whence, then, except from their boats, could they hope for a supply? Questions of this nature must have offered themselves to the minds of the daring spirits, who accompanied Captain Sturt; nor can due justice be rendered to their courage without a careful consideration of the dangers which they deliberately braved.

Two oars only were used in the whale-boat, to the stern of which the skiff was fastened by a rope; but the progress of the party down the river was rapid. Having passed, in the midst of the marshes, the mouth of a considerable stream (supposed to be the Lachlan, here emptying its waters out from the midst of those swamps wherein it appeared to Mr. Oxley to be lost,) on the second day of their journey the voyagers met with an accident that had nearly compelled them to return. The skiff struck upon a sunken log, and, immediately filling, went down in about twelve feet of water. Damage was done to some of the provisions, and many tools were thrown overboard, though these were afterwards regained by means of diving and great labour, and the skiff was got up again. In the very same night a robbery was committed by the natives; and a frying-pan, three cutlasses, and five tomahawks, with the pea of the steelyards—altogether no small loss in the Australian desert—were carried off. The country in this part is [Pg 54] “a waving expanse of reeds, and as flat as possible,” and the river, instead of increasing in its downward course, seemed rather to be diminishing. After some days, however, the party had passed through this flooded region, and reached a boundless flat, with no object for the eye to rest upon, beyond the dark and gloomy woods by which it was occupied. Several rapids occurred in the river; and, during great part of two days the channel was so narrow and so much blocked up with huge trees, that, in spite of every effort, the adventurers were expecting their boat every moment to strike. For two hours in the afternoon of the second of these days of anxiety, the little vessels were hurried rapidly along the winding reaches of the Morrumbidgee, until suddenly they found themselves borne upon the bosom of a broad and noble river, in comparison with which that which they had just quitted bore the appearance of an insignificant opening! The width of the large stream thus discovered was about 350 feet, and its depth from 12 to 20 feet, whilst its banks, although averaging 18 feet in height, were evidently subject to floods. The breadth of rich soil between its outer and inner banks was very inconsiderable, and the upper levels were poor and sandy. As the party descended, the adjoining country became somewhat higher and a little undulating, and natives were seen, while the Murray (for such was the name given to their new discovery) improved upon them every mile they proceeded. Four natives of a tribe with which they had met followed them, as guides, for some distance, and, after having nearly lost their largest boat upon a rock in the midst of a rapid, the British travellers continued their onward course, and a sail was hoisted for the first time, in order to save, as much as was possible, the strength of the men.

The country in this part of their voyage was again [Pg 55] very low, and they fell in with a large body of savages, with whom they were on the point of being forced, in self-defence, to have a deadly encounter, when suddenly the four natives who had accompanied them appeared running at full speed, and, through their assistance, though not without some difficulty, bloodshed was prevented. Very shortly after this adventure, when the men had just pushed their boat off from a shoal, upon which it had struck, they noticed a new and considerable stream coming from the north, and uniting its waters with those of the Murray. Upon landing on the right bank of the newly-discovered stream, the natives came swimming over from motives of curiosity; and there were not less than 600 of these, belonging to some of the most ferocious tribes in Australia, surrounding eight Englishmen—Captain Sturt, his friend MʻLeay, and the crew—which last had been preserved by an almost miraculous intervention of Providence in their favour. The boat was afterwards pulled a few miles up the recently-discovered river, which is reasonably supposed to have been the Darling, from whose banks, some hundreds of miles higher up, Captain Sturt had twice been forced to retire in a former expedition. Its sides were sloping and grassy, and overhung by magnificent trees; in breadth it was about 100 yards, and in depth rather more than twelve feet, and the men pleased themselves by exclaiming, upon entering it, that they had got into an English river. A net extending right across the stream at length checked their progress; for they were unwilling to disappoint the numbers who were expecting their food that day from this source. So the men rested on their oars in the midst of the smooth current of the Darling, the Union-Jack was hoisted, and, giving way to their feelings, all stood up in the boat, and gave three distinct cheers. “The eye [Pg 56] of every native along the banks had been fixed upon that noble flag, at all times a beautiful object,” says Captain Sturt, “and to them a novel one, as it waved over us in the heart of a desert. They had, until that moment, been particularly loquacious, but the sight of that flag and the sound of our voices hushed the tumult; and while they were still lost in astonishment, the boat’s head was speedily turned, the sail was sheeted home, both wind and current were in our favour, and we vanished from them with a rapidity that surprised even ourselves, and which precluded every hope of the most adventurous among them to keep up with us.”[25]

Cheered with the gratification of national feeling thus powerfully described, the patient crew returned to their toils in descending the Murray, whose banks continued unchanged for some distance; but its channel was much encumbered with timber, some very large sand-banks were seen, and several rapids were passed. The skiff being found more troublesome than useful, was broken up and burned. On one occasion, during a friendly interview with some of the savages, some clay was piled up, as a means of inquiring whether there were any hills near; and two or three of the blacks, catching the meaning, pointed to the N. W., in which direction two lofty ranges were seen from the top of a tree, and were supposed to be not less than 40 miles distant, but the country through which the Murray passed still continued low.

The heat was excessive and the weather very dry, while the banks of the river appeared to be thickly peopled for Australia, and the British strangers contrived to keep upon good terms with the natives. [Pg 57] After having passed one solitary cliff of some height, they met with stormy weather for a few days, and several tributary streams of some size were perceived mingling their waters with those of the Murray, the left bank of which became extremely lofty, and, though formed almost wholly of clay and sand, it bore the appearance of columns or battlements, the sand having been washed away in many places, while the clay was left hollowed out more like the work of art than of nature. After a continued descent of 22 days, the party, who were pleased with the noble character of the river upon which they were, though disappointed at the poverty of the country through which it passed, began to grow somewhat weary; but upon inquiries being made of the natives no tidings could be gained respecting their approach towards the sea. The navigation of every natural stream is rendered tedious, though beautiful, by its devious course, but, “what with its regular turns, and its extensive sweeps, the Murray covers treble the ground, at a moderate computation, that it would occupy in a direct course.” The current became weaker, and the channel deeper, as they proceeded down the stream, and the cliffs of clay and sand were succeeded by others of a very curious formation, being composed of shells closely compacted together, but having the softer parts so worn away, that the whole cliff bore in many places the appearance of human skulls piled one upon the other. At first, this remarkable formation did not rise more than a foot above the water, but within ten miles from this spot it exceeded 150 feet in height, the country in the vicinity became undulating, and the river itself was confined in a glen whose extreme breadth did not exceed half a mile. An old man, a native, was met with hereabouts, who appeared by his signs to indicate that the explorers were at no great distance from some [Pg 58] remarkable change. The old man pointed to the N. W., and then placed his hand on the side of his head, in token, it was supposed, of their sleeping to the N. W. of the spot where they were. He then pointed due south, describing by his action, the roaring of the sea, and the height of the waves. A line of cliffs, from two to three hundred feet in height, flanked the river upon alternate sides, but the rest of the country was level, and the soil upon the table-land at the top of the cliffs very poor and sterile. The next change of scenery brought them to cliffs of a higher description, which continued on both sides of the river, though not always close to it. The stream lost its sandy bed and its current together, and became deep, still, and turbid, with a muddy bottom; and the appearance of the water lashing against the base of the cliffs reminded the anxious voyagers of the sea. The scenery became in many places beautiful, and the river was never less than 400 yards in breadth. Some sea-gulls were seen flying over the boat, and being hailed as the messengers of good tidings, they were not permitted to be shot. The adverse wind and the short, heavy waves rendered the labour at the oar very laborious, but the hope of speedily gaining some noble inlet—a harbour worthy to form the mouth of a stream like the Murray—encouraged the crew to pull on manfully, and to disregard fatigue. The salt meat was all spoiled, and had been given to the dogs; fish no one would eat, and of wild fowl there was none to be seen; so that the provisions of the party consisted of little else but flour. And already, though hitherto they had been performing the easiest part of their task, having had the stream in their favour, it was evident that the men were much reduced, besides which they were complaining of sore eyes.

These circumstances all combined to increase the [Pg 59] natural anxiety felt by the little band of adventurers to reach the termination of the Murray; and as its valley opened to two, three, and four miles of breadth, while the width of the river increased to the third of a mile, the expectations of the men toiling at the oar became proportionably excited. The cliffs ceased, and gave place to undulating hills; no pleasure-ground could have been more tastefully laid out than the country to the right, and the various groups of trees, disposed upon the sides of the elevations that bounded the western side of the valley, were most ornamental. On the opposite side, the country was less inviting, and the hills were bleak and bare. At length a clear horizon appeared to the south, the direction in which the river was flowing; Captain Sturt landed to survey the country, and beneath him was the great object of his search, the termination of one of Australia’s longest and largest streams. Immediately below him was a beautiful lake, of very large extent, and greatly agitated by the wind. Ranges of hills were observed to the westward, stretching from north to south, and distant forty miles. Between these hills and the place where the traveller stood, the western bank of the Murray was continued in the form of a beautiful promontory projecting into the lake, and between this point and the base of the ranges the vast sheet of water before him extended in the shape of a bay. The scene was altogether a very fine one; but disappointment was a prevailing feeling in the mind of the explorer, for it was most likely that there would be no practicable communication for large ships between the lake and the ocean, and thus a check was put upon the hopes that had been entertained of having at length discovered a large and navigable river leading into the interior of New Holland. The lake, called Lake Alexandrina, which was fifty miles long and forty [Pg 60] broad,[26] was crossed with the assistance of a favourable wind; its waters were found to be generally very shallow, and the long, narrow, and winding channel by which it communicates with the ocean was found, as it had been feared, almost impracticable even for the smallest vessels. This channel unites itself with the sea on the south-western coast of New Holland, at the bottom of a bay named Encounter Bay, one boundary of which is Cape Jervis, by which it is separated from St. Vincent’s Gulph,—the very part of the coast where a ship was to be despatched by the Governor of New South Wales to afford the party assistance, in case of their being successful in penetrating to the sea-shore. Flour and tea were the only articles remaining of their store of provisions, and neither of these were in sufficient quantities to last them to the place where they expected to find fresh supplies inland. But the first view of Encounter Bay convinced them that no vessel could ever venture into it at a season when the S. W. winds prevailed, and to the deep bight which it formed upon the coast (at the bottom of which they then were), it was hopeless to expect any vessel to approach so nearly as to be seen by them. To remain there was out of the question; to cross the ranges towards the Gulph of St. Vincent, when the men had no strength to walk, and the natives were numerous and not peaceably disposed, was equally impossible. The passage from the lake to the ocean was not without interruption, from the shallowness of the sandy channel, otherwise Captain Sturt, in his little boat, would have coasted round to Port Jackson, or steered for Launceston, in Van Dieman’s Land; and this he declares he would rather have done, could he have foreseen future difficulties, [Pg 61] than follow the course which he did. Having walked across to the entrance of the channel, and found it quite impracticable and useless, he resolved to return along the same route by which he had come, only with these important additional difficulties to encounter,—diminished strength, exhausted stores, and an adverse current. The provisions were found sufficient only for the same number of days upon their return as they had occupied in descending the river, and speed was no less desirable in order to avoid encounters with the natives than for the purpose of escaping the miseries of want; into which, however, it was felt, a single untoward accident might in an instant plunge them. With feelings of this description the party left Lake Alexandrina and re-entered the channel of the Murray.

It will be needless to follow the explorers through all the particulars of their journey upwards to the depôt on the Morrumbidgee. The boat struck, the natives were troublesome, the rapids difficult to get over; but the worst of all their toils and trials were their daily labours and unsatisfied wants. One circumstance ought, in justice to the character of the men, to be noticed. They positively refused to touch six pounds of sugar that were still remaining in the cask, declaring that, if divided, it would benefit nobody, whereas it would last during some time for the use of Captain Sturt and Mr. MʻLeay, who were less able to submit to privations than they were. After having continued for no less than fifty-five days upon the waters of the Murray, it was with great joy that they quitted this stream, and turned their boat into the gloomy and narrow channel of the Morrumbidgee. Having suffered much privation, anxiety, and labour, and not without one or two unpleasant encounters with the natives, at length the party reached their depôt, but they found it deserted! During seventy-seven [Pg 62] days they could not have pulled, according to Captain Sturt’s calculation, less than 2000 miles; and now, worn out by fatigue and want, they were compelled to proceed yet further, and to endure, for some time longer, the most severe privations to which man can be exposed. But, under the guidance of Divine Providence, the lives of all were preserved, and now the reward of their deeds of heroism is willingly bestowed upon them. Among the boldest exploits ever performed by man, the descent of Captain Sturt and his companions down the Murray, and their return to the same spot again, may deserve to be justly ranked.[27] Nor, however disappointing the result of their examination of the mouth of the Murray may have been, was their daring adventure without its useful consequences. The lake Alexandrina is said to be navigable across for vessels drawing six feet of water, and the entrance to the sea, though rather difficult in heavy weather, is safe in moderate weather for vessels of the same size. The Murray itself is navigable for steam-vessels for many hundred miles, and probably it will not be very long before these modern inventions are introduced upon its waters.

Whoever has seen any recent map of New Holland must have been struck with the curious appearance of a vast semicircle of water, called Lake Torrens, near the southern coast, and extending many miles inland from the head of Spencer’s Gulph. A range of hills, named Flinders’ Range, runs to a considerable distance inland, taking its rise near the head of the gulph just mentioned, and Lake Torrens nearly surrounds the whole of the low country extending from this mountainous ridge. This immense lake is supposed to resemble [Pg 63] in shape a horse-shoe, and to extend for full 400 miles, whilst its apparent breadth is from 20 to 30. The greater part of the vast area contained in its bed is certainly dry on the surface, and consists of a mixture of sand and mud, of so soft and yielding a character as to render perfectly unavailing all attempts either to cross it, or to reach the edge of the water, which appears to exist at a distance of some miles from the outer margin. Once only was Mr. Eyre, the enterprising discoverer of this singular lake, able to taste of its waters, and then he found them as salt as the sea. The low, miserable, desert country in the neighbourhood, and Lake Torrens itself, act as a kind of barrier against the progress of inland discovery at the back of the colony of South Australia, since it is impossible to penetrate very far into the interior, without making a great circle either to the east or to the west. The portion of the bed of the lake which is exposed is thickly coated with particles of salt; there are few trees or shrubs of any kind to be found near, nor are grass and fresh water by any means abundant. Altogether, the neighbourhood of Lake Torrens would seem a very miserable region, and forms a strong contrast to the smiling and cultivated district of which it forms the back country.[28]

Although Australia, in its natural and uncultivated state, abounds in trees, like most other wild countries, nevertheless, there are vast and extensive tracts where the plains are entirely bare, or covered only with a low, thick, and often prickly, bush, or else are what is termed “open forest,” that is, are dotted about with fine trees, dispersed in various groups, and resembling the scenery of an English park. The greatest peculiarity of the native forests appears to be, that the whole of their [Pg 64] trees and shrubs are evergreen,[29] although European trees will flourish in the land of the south without acquiring this peculiarity, or losing their deciduous character. But it is rather a subject of complaint against the woods of New Holland, that they have very little picturesque effect in them, which may be partly owing to the poverty of the foliage of the prevailing tree, the eucalyptus, (commonly called the iron-bark, or blue gum, according to its species,) which seldom has anything ornamental to landscape, either in the trunk or branches. These sombre trees are, however, very useful for timber, and they grow to an astonishing height, often rearing up their lofty heads to 150 feet or upwards. The woods, in general, are very brittle, partly, it may be, owing to the number of acacias which are to be found among them; and no experienced bushman likes to sleep under trees, especially during high winds. We must by no means form our ideas of the appearance of an Australian forest from that of the neat and trim woods of our own country, where every single branch or bough, and much more every tree, bears a certain value. Except that portion which is required for fuel or materials by an extremely scattered population in a very mild climate, there is nothing carried off from the forests, and, were it not for the frequent and destructive fires which the natives kindle in many parts, no check worth mentioning would be placed upon the natural increase and decay of the woods of New Holland. The consequence of this is, that trees are to be seen there in every stage of growth or ruin; and, occasionally, in very thickly-planted spots, the surface of the ground is not a little encumbered by the fallen branches and trunks of the ancient ornaments of the forest. Nor is it by the hand [Pg 65] of Time alone that these marks of destruction are scattered about in the vast woodlands; the breath of a tremendous storm will occasionally accomplish, perhaps, as much in a few hours as natural decay would in many years.[30] Altogether, the forests of Australia may be said to be in a purely natural state, and thus do they offer to the eye of the inquiring traveller many objects less pleasing, it may be, but nevertheless more sublime and solemn, than those with which the woods of more cultivated countries commonly abound.

To travel without any beaten track through a country clothed, in many parts, very thickly, by forests like those just described, is in itself no easy undertaking, and the operation of hewing a way for a mile or two through the surrounding woods, during the very heat of the day, and sometimes after a long march, is very trying. But when the exposure to burning thirst, and to the uncertain disposition of the native inhabitants is added, the patient endurance of successful explorers is still more strongly displayed. Nor, although it be only a minor annoyance, must the pain and inconvenience felt by wanderers in the bush from the prickly grass, which is found abundantly in the sandy districts, be forgotten. In those barren sands, where no grass grows, there are frequently tufts of a prickly bush, which tortures the horses, and tears to pieces the clothes of the men about their ankles, if they are walking. This bush, called the prickly grass, and a dwarf tree, the Eucalyptus dumosa, grows only where the soil appears too barren and loose for anything else; indeed, were it not for these, the sand would probably drift away, and cover the vegetation of neighbouring spots less barren and miserable. Against this evil, nature seems to have provided by the [Pg 66] presence of two plants so singularly fitted for a soil of this description. The root of the Eucalyptus dumosa resembles that of a large tree; but it has no trunk, and only a few branches rise above the ground, forming an open kind of bush, often so low that a man on horseback may look over it for miles. This dwarf tree, and the prickly grass together, occupy the ground, and seem intended to bind down the sands of Australia. The size of the roots prevents the bush from growing very close together, and the stems being without leaves, except at the top, this kind of Eucalyptus is almost proof against the running fires of the bush. The prickly grass resembles, at a distance, in colour and form, an overgrown lavender plant, but the blades of it, consisting of sharp spikes, occasion most cruel annoyance both to men and horses. Another inconvenience and danger to which exploring parties are liable, are those fires in the bush already alluded to; which, whether caused by accident, or designedly by the natives, are not uncommon events.[31] “The country seemed all on fire around us.”—“All the country beyond the river was in flames; one spark might have set the whole country on our side in a blaze, and then no food would remain for the cattle, not to mention the danger to our stores and ammunition.” “Fires prevailed extensively at great distances in the interior, and the sultry air seemed heated by the general conflagration;” these expressions convey rather alarming ideas of the dangers to which travellers are exposed in the bush, and from which it is not always easy to make good an escape.

It may have been observed, possibly, in what has been related of the country and scenery of New Holland [Pg 67] in its natural state, that the descriptions of very beautiful or fertile spots have been comparatively few. Now, although it is true that a very large portion of the known surface of that island is occupied by the sandstone rock, which is in its very nature utterly barren, nevertheless, it is by no means to be supposed that there is any scarcity of most rich and beautiful land—some of it fit for immediate occupation—to be found in most parts of Australia. In attempting to draw a picture of a distant and remarkable region, we are almost sure to mark and bring distinctly out its most peculiar and striking features; the scenes resembling those of our own quiet and happy land are passed over as tame and familiar, while the dreariness of the desert, the horrors of a “barren and dry land where no water is,”—the boundless plains, or the bare mountain-tops, the lonely shore or the rocky isle—scenes like these, are commonly dwelt upon and described. In short, the very spots which are least enticing, in reality, for the colonist to settle in, are often most agreeable, in description, for the stranger to read of.

But, since the reader must not be left with the erroneous and unpleasant impression that the country of which we have been treating is, for the most part, a mere wilderness, if not a desert, we may select two recently-discovered districts of it to serve for a favourable specimen of the beauty and fertility of many others, which cannot now be noticed.

The following description of Wellington Valley (now recently included in the limits of the colony,) is from the pen of its first discoverer, Mr. Oxley, and other travellers bear witness that it is not overcharged: “A mile and a half brought us into the valley which we had seen on our first descending into the glen: imagination cannot fancy anything more beautifully picturesque than [Pg 68] the scene which burst upon us. The breadth of the valley, to the base of the opposite gently-rising hills, was between three and four miles, studded with fine trees, upon a soil which for richness can nowhere be exceeded; its extent, north and south, we could not see: to the west, it was bounded by the lofty rocky ranges by which we had entered it; these were covered to the summit with cypresses and acacias in full bloom, and a few trees in bright green foliage gave additional beauty to the scene. In the centre of this charming valley ran a strong and beautiful stream, its bright, transparent waters dashing over a gravelly bottom, intermingled with large stones, forming at short intervals considerable pools, in which the rays of the sun were reflected with a brilliancy equal to that of the most polished mirror. The banks were low and grassy, with a margin of gravel and pebble-stones; there were marks of flood to the height of about twelve feet, when the river would still be confined within its secondary banks, and not overflow the rich lands that bordered it. Its usual width is 200 feet; in times of flood it would be from 600 to 800 feet.”[32]

In Australia Felix, as it has been called by its discoverer, Major Mitchell, which is a much larger district than that just described, almost every earthly delight and advantage would likewise seem to have combined to make it a perfect dwelling-place for man. The temperate and mild climate; the neighbourhood of the sea; the variety and fertility of its surface; the ranges of lofty and picturesque mountains by which it is backed; the number of rivers, small and large, by which it is watered; the comparatively open nature of the country, yet not without an ample supply of timber close at hand; all these and other advantages unite in rendering Australia Felix one of the most desirable spots upon the face of the [Pg 69] globe. And the beauties and blessings of a spot like this, must have stood forth in bold contrast with the dreary, lifeless plains of the Darling, or Lachlan, which the discoverers of Australia Felix had so long been engaged in exploring. One of the first harbingers of the better country, to which the travellers were drawing near, was a very curious height, called Pyramid Hill, which is formed of granite, and, being a triangular pyramid, standing quite alone, closely resembles the monuments of ancient Egypt. It rises 300 feet above the surrounding plain; its point consists of a single block of granite, and the view over the neighbouring country was exceedingly beautiful. The scene was different from anything the travellers had elsewhere witnessed. “A land so inviting, and still without inhabitants![33] As I stood,” continues the explorer, warming with the thoughts of his discovery, “the first European intruder on the sublime solitude of these verdant plains, as yet untouched by flocks or herds, I felt conscious of being the harbinger of mighty changes; and that our steps would soon be followed by the men and animals for which it seemed to have been prepared.” Twelve days afterwards, the whole of which had been spent in traversing a district rich and lovely in the extreme, the first view of a noble range of mountains (the Grampians) was obtained; they rose in the south to a stupendous height, and presented as bold and picturesque an outline as ever painter imagined.[34] And, during a journey of many days, the same rich and sublime scenery still appeared, mingled together in beautiful and endless variety. Every day the party of [Pg 70] travellers passed over land which, for natural fertility and beauty, could scarcely be surpassed; over streams of unfailing abundance, and plains covered with the richest pasturage. Stately trees and majestic mountains adorned the ever-varying landscape, the most southern region of all Australia, and the best. On the river Glenelg, which was discovered about a month after they had left Pyramid Hill, the land appeared everywhere alike good, alike beautiful; whether on the finely-varied hills, or in the equally romantic vales, which opened in endless succession on both banks of the river. Further on in this lovely district, the British explorers came upon fresh scenes of surpassing sweetness. A small party of them were out upon an excursion, when they perceived before them a ridge in the blue distance—rather an unusual object in that close country. They soon after quitted the wood through which they had been passing, and found that they were on a kind of table-land, approaching a deep ravine coming from their right, which terminated on a very fine-looking open country below, watered by a winding river. They descended by a bold projection to the bottom of the ravine, and found there a foaming little river, hurrying downwards over rocks. After fording this stream, they ascended a very steep but grassy mountain-side, and, on reaching a brow of high land, a noble prospect appeared; a river winding among meadows that were fully a mile broad, and green as an emerald. Above them rose swelling hills of fantastic shapes, but all smooth and thickly covered with rich verdure. Behind these were higher hills, all having grass on their sides, and trees on their summits, and extending east and west throughout the landscaper as far as could be seen. After riding about two miles along an entirely open, grassy ridge, the party again found the Glenelg, flowing eastward towards an apparently [Pg 71] much lower country. The river was making for the coast, (turning southward some miles below the hill on which they stood,) through a country far surpassing in beauty and richness any part hitherto discovered.

What, in fact, is there wanting to the charming and extensive region just described, or what to hundreds of other fruitful and lovely districts under the power of the British crown, except civilised inhabitants, and the establishment of a branch of Christ’s “one Catholic and Apostolic Church?” The population is ready, nay, even redundant, in England; nor are the means deficient in a land abounding beyond all others in wealthy capitalists. But the will, the wisdom, the understanding heart, the united counsels, are, it is to be feared, and are likely still to be, wanting with us. May that God who maketh men to be of one mind in a house or nation, so dispose events, that in due time the valleys and hills of Australia Felix may be dotted with churches, and filled with faithful members of Christ! Then will it become a happy land indeed. Then may its inhabitants feel a lively interest, both in the social and religious welfare of their country; and each one may join, from the distant shores of the once unknown Southern Land, in the holy aspirations of the Royal Prophet: “For my brethren and companions’ sakes I will wish thee prosperity. Yea, because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek to do thee good.”[35]

[Pg 72]



In most instances in which a country is taken possession of, and its original inhabitants are removed, enslaved, or exterminated, the party thus violently seizing upon the rights of others is considered the superior and more civilized nation of the two. The very means by which this advantage is gained are, usually, boldness, and worldly talent, without which a conquest or successful invasion is impossible; and these, when prosperous, are qualities which awaken very powerfully the admiration and attention of men. So that, while earthly prosperity and excellence are combining to cast a splendour around the actions of the successful nation, adversity and inferiority do usually join [Pg 73] in blackening the cloud which hangs over the character of that which is unfortunate. It is not for us to defend these judgments of the world, as though they were, in any case, altogether righteous judgments, but this we may safely affirm, in the particular instance of Australia, that, upon the whole, it is a gain to the cause of truth and virtue for Christian England to possess those wilds, which lately were occupied by miserable natives; and, while we own that it is wrong to do evil that good may come, yet may we, likewise, confess with thankfulness the Divine mercy and wisdom which have so often brought good out of the evil committed by our countrymen in these distant lands. It must be confessed, too, that, whatever may be the amount of iniquity wantonly committed among the natives of the other portions of the globe, for which Europe is responsible, still, the Europeans, upon the whole, stand higher than the inhabitants of the remaining portions, and, of course, in proportion, very much higher than the most degraded and least-improved race of savages, the Australian natives. True, indeed, these despised Australians may, hereafter, rise up in judgment against Europeans to condemn them; and when that which has been given to each race of men shall be again required of them, those that have received the most may frequently be found to have profited the least by the gifts of Divine Providence. Still, without pretending to pass judgment upon any, whether nations or individual persons,—without affecting, either, to close our eyes against the miserable vices by which the Christian name has been disgraced, and our country’s glory sullied, among distant and barbarous nations, we may with safety speak of the inhabitants of those heathen lands in terms that are suitable to their degraded state. In describing their darkened and almost brutal condition, we are but describing things as they [Pg 74] really exist;[36] it changes not the actual fact to prove that, in many more respects than would at first sight appear, the behaviour of men of our own enlightened nation is scarcely less darkened or less brutal than theirs. Nay, the Australian savage, in his natural state, may be a far higher and nobler character than the British convict sometimes is in his degraded state; and, nevertheless, it may be correct to class the nation of the former among barbarians, and that of the latter among civilized people. But in forming our judgment respecting the real character of the natives of the Bush we must beware lest we try them by our own standard,—a standard by which it is unjust to measure them, since they have never known it, nor ever had the means of reaching it.[37] Every wise man will make all possible allowance for the effect of many generations of ignorance and degradation upon the human soul, and when this has been fairly done, the truly wise man, the humble Christian, whilst he reads of the deplorable condition to which the human soul may be reduced, (as it is shown in the instance before us,) will feel disposed to ask himself, “Who made thee to differ from others? And what hast thou that thou didst not receive?”

The native population of Australia is very peculiar in [Pg 75] many respects, not exactly resembling any other known race of human beings in the world. They are more nearly akin to the Africans than to any others, and they have, accordingly, been sometimes called the Eastern Negroes, having the same thick lips, high cheek-bones, sunken eyes, and legs without calves, which distinguish the native of Africa; but, with the exception of Van Diemen’s Land, and the adjoining coasts, the woolly hair of the negro is not to be found among them, nor is the nose usually so flat, or the forehead so low. They are seldom very tall, but generally well made; and their bodily activity is most surprising; nor is their courage at all to be despised. The Australian native has always been pointed out as being the lowest specimen of human nature, and, since, in every scale of degrees, one must be lowest, this is probably correct enough; yet we are by no means to give too hasty credit to the accounts of their condition, which have been given by those whose interest it may have been to represent them in as unfavourable a light as possible, or whose opportunities of judging have been few and scanty, compared with their hasty willingness to pass judgment upon them. Men, more or less busily engaged in killing and taking possession, are not likely to make a very favourable report of those poor creatures into whose inheritance they have come; mere self-defence would tempt them to try to lessen the greatness of their crimes, by asserting the victims of these to be scarcely deserving of a better fate, and, in the present instance, the actual condition of the native population would be very favourable to excuses of this kind. Or, even without this evil intention of excusing wrong by slandering those that suffer it, many men, with but few means of understanding their character, may have spoken decidedly respecting the Australian natives, and that, too, in language even [Pg 76] harsher than their degraded state would justify. Disgusting and horrid many of their habits and customs undoubtedly are, yet they appear even more so at first sight, and to one only imperfectly acquainted with them; especially when (which often happens) not the slightest allowance is made for the peculiar situation of the savage, but he is taken at once from the midst of his naked barbarity, and tried by the rules of refinement and civilization. Recently, indeed, public attention and pity have been more turned towards the unhappy race of natives, and many traits have been discovered in their character which would not dishonour more enlightened nations. The degraded position of those who are in the midst of the white population affords no just criterion of their merits. Their quickness of apprehension is often surprising, and nothing, however new and strange, seems to puzzle or astonish them; so that they follow closely the advice of the ancient poet:

“Wonder at nought:—the only rule I know
To make man happy, and to keep him so.”

“They are never awkward,” says Major Mitchell, who was well qualified to speak from experience; “on the contrary, in manners, and general intelligence, they appear superior to any class of white rustics that I have seen. Their powers of mimicry seem extraordinary, and their shrewdness shines even through the medium of imperfect language, and renders them, in general, very agreeable companions.” We may, therefore, if our inquiry be accompanied by humility and justice, be able to form a fair and impartial opinion respecting these people; and the result of an inquiry of this sort must be, in every well-regulated soul, not merely a feeling of thankfulness (still less of self-sufficiency,) that we are far removed from the savage state, but, likewise, a sense of shame, that, [Pg 77] with many of our fellow-countrymen, their superior advantages have been productive of little or no fruit.

One very remarkable distinction of the natives of the Bush is, the entire absence of clothing, unless the cloak, made of opossum-skin, worn by some tribes, can deserve to be thought an exception. Their climate being, generally speaking, a dry one, and exposure to the air, even at night, being much less hurtful than in most other countries, this habit of going without clothing, after the fashion of a brute beast, is by no means so dangerous in Australia as it would be elsewhere. But, while they can dispense with clothes, like most other savages, they are extremely fond of ornaments,—at least, of what they esteem to be such: these are teeth of kangaroos, or men, jaw-bones of a fish, feathers, tails of dogs, pieces of wood, &c., fastened on different parts of the head, by a sort of gum; while scars, and marks of various kinds, are made upon the breast, arms, and back; or, upon certain occasions, as going to war, or mourning for a friend, the body is streaked over with white and yellow paint, according to the taste of the party concerned. In two very distant parts of Australia, namely, the gulf of Carpentaria, and the eastern coast of St. Vincent’s Gulf, the natives practise the rite of circumcision—a remarkable agreement, when we consider that they are about 1200 miles apart, and have no means of communication with each other. It is no uncommon custom, either, for the natives to pierce their noses, and to place a bone or reed through the opening, which is reckoned a great ornament. But there is another custom, almost peculiar to Australia, which, from its singularity, may deserve to be noticed at some length. Among many of the native tribes,[38] it is usual for the males to have a [Pg 78] front tooth, or sometimes two, struck out at the time of their arriving at manhood, and this ceremony is performed in a most solemn and impressive manner. The following account of it, from the pen of an eye-witness, may be not unacceptable to the reader: Lieutenant Collins, the historian of the infant colony of New South Wales, was present during the whole of this curious operation, and thus describes the accompanying ceremonies practised by the natives of that part of Australia:—For seven days previous to the commencement of the solemnity, the people continued to assemble, and the evenings were spent in dancing, for which they adorned themselves in their best manner, namely, by painting themselves white, and especially by drawing white circles round their eyes. When the field was prepared, and the youths who were to be enrolled among men were all placed together upon one side of it, the business began with a loud shout, and a clattering of shields and spears, from the armed party, whose office it was to seize the patients about to undergo the extraordinary operation. This was done one by one, until the whole number, fifteen, were brought forward, and placed in the midst of the armed body of men; then each youth was made to sit down, holding his head downwards, with his hands clasped, and his legs crossed under him, in which painful posture it was said they were to remain all night, without looking up or taking any refreshment whatever.[39] The Carrahdis, or persons who were to [Pg 79] perform the operation, now began some of their strange mummeries. Each one of these, in his turn, appeared to suffer most extreme agony, and put himself into every posture that pain could occasion, until, at length, a bone was brought forward, which was intended to be used in the ensuing ceremony; and the poor youths were led to believe that the more pain these Carrahdis suffered in obtaining the bone, the less would be theirs in losing a tooth. The following day began with the ceremony of the fifteen operators running round upon their hands and feet, in imitation of the dogs of that country, and throwing upon the boys, as they passed, sand and dirt with their hands and feet. The youths were perfectly still and silent, and it was understood that this ceremony gave them power over the dog, and endowed them with whatever good qualities that animal might possess.

The next part that was performed, was the offering of a sham kangaroo, made of grass, to the fifteen lads, who were still seated as before. One man brought the kangaroo, and a second carried some brushwood, besides having one or two flowering shrubs stuck through his nose, and both seemed to stagger under the weight of their burdens. Stalking and limping, they at last reached the feet of the youthful hunters, and placed before them the prize of the chase, after which they went away, as though entirely wearied out. By this rite was given the power of killing the kangaroo, and the brushwood, most likely, was meant to represent its common haunt. In about an hour’s space, the chief actors returned from a valley to which they had retired, bringing with them long tails of grass, which were fitted to the girdle. By the help of this addition, they imitated a herd of kangaroos, one man beating time to them with a club on a shield, and two others, armed, followed [Pg 80] them and affected to steal unnoticed upon them to spear them. As soon as these pretended kangaroos had passed the objects of their visit, they instantly got rid of their artificial tails, each man caught up a lad, and, placing him upon his shoulders, carried him off in triumph to the last scene of this strange exhibition.

After walking a short distance, the men put down their burdens, placing them in a cluster, each boy with his head upon his breast, and his hands clasped together. In a few minutes, after a greater degree of mystery and preparation than had been before observed, the youthful band was brought forward to a place where a number of human beings were seen lying with their faces to the ground, as if they were dead, and in front of these was a man seated on a stump of a tree, bearing another man upon his shoulders, both having their arms extended, while two men, in a like attitude, were seen also behind the group of prostrate figures. These first two men made most hideous faces for a few minutes, and then the lads were led over the bodies lying on the ground, which moved and writhed, as though in great agony; after which the same strange grimaces were repeated by the two men who were placed on the further side of the apparently dead bodies. All the information that could be gained of the meaning of this, was, that it would make them brave men; that they would see well and fight well. Then followed a sort of martial exercise with spear and shield, in the presence of the future warriors, to signify to them what was to be one great business of their lives—the use of the spear; and, when this was finished, the preparations for striking out the tooth commenced. The first subject of this barbarous operation was chosen, and seated upon the shoulders of a native, who himself sat down upon the grass; and then the bone was produced, which had [Pg 81] cost so much apparent pain to procure the evening before, and which was made very sharp and fine at one end, for the purpose of lancing the gum. But for some such precaution, it would have been impossible to have knocked out the tooth, without breaking the jaw-bone. A stick was then cut with much ceremony out of some hard wood, and when the gum of the patient was properly prepared, the smallest end of the stick was applied to the top of the tooth, while the operator stood ready with a large stone, as though about to drive the tooth down the throat of the youth. Here a certain attention to the number three, which had been before shown, was again noticed, for no stroke was actually made, until three attempts to hit the stick had taken place; and, notwithstanding repeated blows, so firmly was the tooth of the first boy fixed in his gum, that it was full ten minutes before it was forced out. The sufferer was then removed, his gum was closed, and he was dressed out in a new style, with a girdle, in which was stuck a wooden sword, and with a bandage round his head, while his left hand was placed over his mouth, and he was not allowed to speak, nor, during that day, to eat. In this manner were all the others treated, except one only, who could not endure the pain of more than one blow with the stone, and, breaking away from his tormentors, he managed to make his escape. During the whole operation a hideous noise was kept up around the patients, with whom, generally, it seemed to be a point of honour to endure this pain without a single murmur. Having once gone through this strange ceremony, they were henceforth admitted into the company and privileges of the class of men.

And as the commencement of manhood in this way, requires no small exercise of courage and endurance of pain, so the remainder of the life of an Australian [Pg 82] savage is usually abundant in trials calling for the like qualities, and demanding both bravery and patience. Whatever may be the particular evils of civilized society, and however some wild imaginations may be tempted by these to regard with regret or envy the enjoyments of savage life, after all it must be confessed, these enjoyments are, at best, very scanty and very uncertain, whilst the miseries attendant upon such a state are of a nature continually to try the patience and weary the spirit of him who has to endure them. Without dwelling just at present upon the natural wants and sufferings to which savage men are perpetually exposed in the wilderness of Australia, it is deplorable to think of how many evils these thinly-scattered tribes are the cause to each other; enormous and sad is the amount of suffering, which, even in those lonely and unfrequented regions, human beings are constantly bringing upon their brethren or neighbours. War, which seems almost a necessary evil, an unavoidable scourge to man’s fallen race, in all ages and in every country, wears its most deadly aspect, and shows its fiercest spirit among the petty tribes, and in the personal encounters of savages like those of whom we are treating. Various causes of misunderstanding will, of course, arise among them from time to time, and every trifling quarrel is continued and inflamed by their amazing and persevering efforts to revenge themselves, which appears to be with them considered a matter of duty. The shedding of blood is always followed by punishment, and only those who are jee-dyte, or unconnected with the family of the guilty person, can consider themselves in safety from this evil spirit of revenge. Little children of seven or eight years old, if, while playing, they hear that some murder has taken place, can in a moment tell whether or not they are jee-dyte, and even [Pg 83] at this tender age, take their measures accordingly. An example of this unsparing visitation of offences occurred not long after the settlement of New South Wales had commenced. A native had been murdered, and his widow, being obliged to revenge his death, chanced to meet with a little girl distantly related to the murderer, upon whom she instantly poured forth her fury, beating her cruelly about the head with a club and pointed stone, until at length she caused the child’s death. When this was mentioned before the other natives, they appeared to look upon it as a right and necessary act, nor was the woman punished by the child’s relatives, possibly because it was looked upon as a just requital.

When a native has received any injury, whether real or fancied, he is very apt to work himself up into a tremendous passion, and for this purpose certain war-songs, especially if they are chanted by women, seem amazingly powerful. Indeed, it is stated, on good authority, that four or five mischievously-inclined old women can soon stir up forty or fifty men to any deed of blood, by means of their chants, which are accompanied by tears and groans, until the men are excited into a perfect state of frenzy. The men also have their war-songs, which they sing as they walk rapidly backwards and forwards, quivering their spears, in order to work themselves up into a passion. The following very common one may serve for a specimen, both of the manner and matter of this rude, yet, to them, soul-stirring poetry:—

Yu-do dauna, Spear his forehead,
Nan-do dauna, Spear his breast,
Myeree dauna, Spear his liver,
Goor-doo dauna, Spear his heart,
Boon-gal-la dauna, Spear his loins,
Gonog-o dauna, Spear his shoulder,
Dow-al dauna, Spear his thigh,
Nar-ra dauna, Spear his ribs,
&c. &c. &c. &c. &c. &c.

[Pg 84] And thus it is that a native, when he feels afraid, sings himself into courage, or, if he is already in a bold mood, he heaps fuel upon the flame of his anger, and adds strength to his fury. The deadly feeling of hatred and revenge extends itself to their public, as well as to their private, quarrels, and sometimes shows itself in a very fierce and unexpected manner. In the valley of the Wollombi, between Sydney and Hunter’s River, some years ago, three boys of a certain tribe had been persuaded to reside in the families of three of the British settlers there. These were marked out for vengeance by the natives belonging to a tribe in a state of warfare with them, about 100 of whom travelled between 20 and 30 miles during one night—a thing almost unheard of among the natives—and reached the neighbourhood of the settlers on the Wollombi very early on the ensuing morning. Two or three of them were sent to each of the houses to entice the boys out, but these, it appeared, somewhat suspected the intentions of their enemies. However, they were at length persuaded to join the native dance, when suddenly a circle was formed round them, and they were speedily beaten to death with waddies or clubs. Immediately after which deed, the troop of natives returned back again to their own neighbourhood. A European happened to pass by, just as the boys were dying, but being alone and unarmed, his interference might have been dangerous to himself, without proving of any the slightest advantage to the unfortunate sufferers.

Another instance of that cowardly cruelty, which will take every possible advantage of a helpless age and sex occurred many years before this, when the colony of New South Wales was quite in its infancy. The father and mother of a little native girl, aged about seven years, had belonged to a party by whom many robberies had [Pg 85] been committed on the banks of the river Hawkesbury, but an armed troop of Europeans was sent in pursuit of these robbers, and when a meeting took place, the child’s parents were among those that fell, while she accompanied the victorious party to the British settlement. Here she behaved herself with propriety, being a well-disposed child, she was a favourite at Government-house, where she resided under the protection of the governor. This circumstance, and the fact of her belonging to a different tribe from their own, awakened the jealousy of some of the natives, who belonged to the neighbourhood of Sydney, and she was consequently put to death in the most cruel manner. Her body was found in the woods, speared in several places, and with both the arms cut off. The murderers of the poor child escaped.

But, while we justly condemn and pity the cruel and cowardly acts of this description, which, unhappily, too often figure among the deeds of the natives of the Australian Bush, we are by no means to suppose them wanting in all feeling of kindness and humanity, still less would it be correct to consider them deficient in true courage. Every allowance ought to be made for the disadvantages of savage life, for the complete ignorance of these people, for the difficulty which they frequently have in procuring necessary food, and for the consequent cheapness in which life is held among them; and when these and other like arguments are duly weighed, we may learn not to abominate less the crimes of savages, but to pity more the unhappy beings who commit them. Indeed, if we go somewhat further, we may take shame to ourselves and to all civilized nations, in many of whose practices a counterpart may be found for the worst sins of the uncultivated, uncivilized heathens.

Within the last few years many crimes have been [Pg 86] recorded in our newspapers, which, though committed in those large English towns, by some conceived to be centres of civilization, refinement, and enlightenment, might rival in horror and atrocity the very darkest deeds of savages.

Many proofs that the disposition of the native Australians is naturally brave and courageous (however cowardly some of their barbarities may appear,) could easily be brought forward; but none can be a stronger proof of this than the coolness and self-possession which they have so frequently exhibited upon meeting with Europeans, and encountering their fire-arms for the first time. An example of this occurred in Western Australia, when Captain Grey’s party were on their return home towards the British settlement of Perth. They were winding their way along on the summit of a limestone hill not very far from the coast, which formed a terrace about half a mile in width, with rich grass and beautiful clumps of trees to adorn it; and while, on the side towards the land, another terrace arose exactly like it, on the opposite side they overlooked a bay surrounded by verdant and extensive flats. Their enjoyment of the lovely scenery of this spot was soon disturbed by the appearance of a large body of the natives on the high ground to the east of them; and, although these strangers boldly advanced to within 200 yards of them, all endeavours to bring about an amicable meeting proved in vain, for the savages shouted to their companions, and these again to others yet more remote, until the calls were lost in the distance, while fresh parties of natives came trooping in from all directions. The question was, how to get rid of these people without bloodshed; and when an attempt to move quietly forward had been disappointed, by the Australians hastening on to occupy a thick piece of bush, through [Pg 87] which the English party must pass, at last, Captain Grey, advancing towards them with his gun cocked and pointed, drove them a little before him, after which, to complete their dispersion, he intended to fire over their heads. But, to his mortification and their delight, the gun missed fire, upon which the natives, taking fresh courage, turned round to make faces at him and to imitate the snapping of the gun. The second barrel was then fired over their heads, at which they were alarmed, and made a rapid retreat, halting, however, upon a rising ground about 300 yards off, and preparing in earnest for action, when they perceived that they had suffered no loss. But since they had thus learned to despise the weapons of European warfare, prompt action was needful to prevent fatal consequences on both sides. The captain, accordingly, took his rifle from the man who was carrying it, and directing it at a heap of closely-matted dead bushes, about two or three yards from the main body of the enemy, he drove the ball right through it; the dry rotten boughs crackled and flew in all directions, and the poor savages, confounded at this new and unfair mode of fighting, hastily dispersed, without any loss of life having been sustained by either party.[40]

On another occasion, not long after this encounter, and in the same neighbourhood, the party of English explorers fell in with a native carrying his spear and a [Pg 88] handful of fish; he was lost in thought, and they were close to him before he saw them, but, when he did so, he took no notice of them. Without even quickening his pace, he continued in his own course, which crossed their path, and, as he evidently wished to avoid all communication, the men were ordered to take no notice of him, and so they passed one another. He must have been a very brave fellow, observes the captain, to act thus coolly, when an array so strange to him met his eye. In like manner, when Major Mitchell was riding upon the banks of the Gwydir, he fell in with a tall native, covered with pipe-clay, who, although he could never have seen a horse before, nevertheless, put himself in a posture of defiance, and did not retreat, until the traveller galloped at him to prevent his attack.

In a different part of New Holland, on the eastern coast, when Flinders was exploring Pumice-stone River, near Moreton Bay, he was by no means successful in striking the natives with awe and astonishment. A hawk having presented itself to view, he thought this afforded a good opportunity of showing his new friends, the inhabitants of the Bush, a specimen of the effect and certainty of his fire-arms. He made them understand what he intended, and they were so far alarmed as to seem to be on the point of running into the woods, but a plan of detaining them was discovered, for the seamen placed themselves in front of the savages, forming a kind of defence; in which situation they anxiously watched the British officer, while he fired at the bird. What must have been his feelings at the moment!—the hawk, uninjured, flew away![41]

[Pg 89] It is, certainly, no easy task to awaken in the soul of the completely savage man any great interest or concern in the ways and habits of civilized life. The fallen nature, of which all mankind are common partakers, renders it, unfortunately, easy to copy what is evil; and, accordingly, the drunkenness, the deceitfulness, and general licentiousness of depraved Europeans find many admirers and imitators among the simple children of the Australian wilderness; but when anything good, or decent, or even merely useful, is to be taught them, then do they appear dull and inapt scholars indeed. Living, as they do, in a peculiar world, as it were, of their own, they feel little or no pleasure at hearing of what is going on elsewhere, and it has been observed by one who had mixed very much with their various tribes, and had gained considerable knowledge of their language, that, while they cared not for stories respecting man in his civilized state, anything at all bearing upon savage life was eagerly listened to and well received. Once, having described to them some circumstances respecting England and its inhabitants, the traveller took occasion, from the mention of the length of days there in summer, to speak of those lands near the North Pole, where, in summer, the sun never sets, while it never rises for some weeks during the winter. The natives agreed that this must be another sun, and not the one seen by them; but, when the conversation turned upon the people of those northern regions, and the small Laplander, clothed in skins of the seal, instead of the kangaroo, was described to them, they were exceedingly delighted; and this picture of half-savage life, so different from their own, threw quite into the shade all the other stories they had heard. It is, indeed, really laughable to find with what cool contempt some of these natives, who have never had any intercourse with Europeans, treat [Pg 90] our comforts, our tastes, and pursuits. We may contemn and pity them, but they seem to have very much the same feelings for us. We are horrified at the greediness with which they devour grubs, and many of them are shocked at our oyster-eating propensities! A remarkable instance of this occurred to Captain Flinders in 1798, when he was exploring the eastern coast of New Holland, and surveying Two-fold Bay. While measuring a base line upon the beach, the English sailors heard the screams of three native women, who took up their children and ran off in great alarm. Soon after this a man made his appearance, armed only with a waddie, or wooden scimetar, but approaching them apparently with careless confidence. The explorers made much of him, and gave him some biscuit; in return for which he presented them with a piece of gristly fat, probably of whale. This was tasted by Captain Flinders, but he was forced to watch for an opportunity of getting rid of it while the eyes of the donor were not upon him. But the savage himself was, curiously enough, doing precisely the same thing with the biscuit, the taste of which was, perhaps, no more agreeable to him than that of the whale to the Englishman. The commencement of the trigonometrical operations necessary for surveying the bay was beheld by the Australian with indifference, if not with contempt; and he quitted the strangers, apparently satisfied that from people who could thus seriously occupy themselves there was no great danger to be feared.

But, whatever may be urged respecting the variety of tastes and the want of a settled and uniform standard of appeal respecting them; however it may be argued the rich and luscious fat of a noble whale may intrinsically surpass the lean and mouldy flavour of dry sea-biscuit; nevertheless, in many other matters of greater importance, [Pg 91] it must be confessed that the manners and habits of the natives of the Bush are extremely wretched and evil. And the Christian European, while he dares not despise them, cannot do otherwise than pity them. The fact has been already noticed, that these miserable children of nature scarcely ever wear anything deserving of the name of clothing; and, in many parts of New Holland, their huts, usually constructed by the women, and composed of little better materials than bark, or wood, and boughs,[42] reeds, or clay, scarcely merit the title of human habitations. But it is not so much in their outward state, as in their moral and social habits, that this race of men are most pitiable and degraded. One subject which has been frequently observed to mark the difference not so much between civilized and uncivilized men, as that between Christians and heathens, must especially be noticed. Cruel as is the treatment of women in many other parts of the globe, the inhabitants of Australia seem to go beyond all other barbarians in this respect. From the best and wisest people of christian Europe down to the vilest and most degraded tribes of heathen Australia, a regular scale might be formed of the general mode of behaviour to the weaker sex among these various nations; and, mostly, it would be found that the general superiority or inferiority of each nation is not untruly indicated by the kindness or cruelty with which their females are usually treated.

From their earliest infancy the female children are engaged or betrothed to a future husband, and in case of his death, they belong to his heir. But this arrangement is frequently prevented by the horrid practice, common among these barbarians, of stealing their wives, and taking them away by main force. Indeed, it seems [Pg 92] a rule for the women to follow the conquering party, as a matter of course; so that on the return of an expedition into the interior of New Holland, the friendly and neighbouring natives, being informed that some of the distant and hostile people had been shot, only observed, “Stupid white fellows! why did you not bring away the gins?”

Polygamy is not uncommonly practised; and an old man, especially, among other privileges, may have as many gins, or wives, as he can keep, or maintain. Indeed, the maintenance of a wife is not expensive, since they are expected to work; and all the most laborious tasks, including that of supplying a great part of the necessary food for the family, are performed by them.[43] Hence, they are watched with very jealous care, being valuable possessions; but, in spite of all precautions, they are frequently carried off, and that in the most inhuman manner. The lover steals upon the encampment by night, and, discovering where the object of his affection is, he frequently beats her on the head till she becomes senseless, and then drags her off through the bushes, as a tiger would its prey![44] This, of course, is an undertaking attended with considerable danger; for if the intruder is caught, he will be speared through the leg, or even killed, by the angry husband or relatives. Thus many quarrels arise, in which brothers or friends are generally ready enough to bear a part. But—unlike the courteous and christian customs of our own country—the poor female, whether innocent or guilty, it matters not, has no one to take her part; the established [Pg 93] rule with regard to women among these brutal creatures being, “If I beat your mother, then you beat mine; if I beat your wife, then you beat mine,” &c. &c. The consequence of these ferocious habits is evident enough in the appearance of most of the young women, who have any good looks or personal comeliness to boast of. The number of violent blows upon the head, or of rude wounds inflicted by the spear, form so many miserable trophies of victories dearly won by these Australian beauties, and the early life of one of these unhappy beings is generally a continued series of captivities to different masters, of wanderings in strange families, of rapid flights, of bad treatment from other females, amongst whom she is brought a stranger by her captor; and rarely is a form of unusual grace and elegance seen, but it is marked and scarred by the furrows of old wounds; while many females thus wander several hundreds of miles from the home of their infancy, without any corresponding ties of affection being formed to recompense them for those so rudely torn asunder. As may be well imagined, a marriage thus roughly commenced is not very smooth in its continuance; and the most cruel punishments—violent beating, throwing spears or burning brands, &c.—are frequently inflicted upon the weaker party, without any sufficient provocation having been given. It is evident, that treatment of this kind, together with the immensely long journeys which they are compelled to take, always accompanying their husbands on every excursion, must be very injurious to the constitution and healthiness of the weaker sex. And to these trials must be added the constant carrying of those children that are yet unable to travel, the perpetual search for food, and preparation of it when it is obtained, besides many other laborious offices performed by the women, all which being reckoned up [Pg 94] together, will form a life of toil and misery, which we may hope is endured by no other human beings beside the females of Australia. Nor is such treatment without its ill effect upon the tempers and dispositions of the female sex. The ferocity of the women, when it is excited, exceeds that of the men; they deal dreadful blows at one another with their long sticks, and, if ever the husband is about to spear in the leg, or beat, one of his wives, the others are certain to set on her, and treat her with great inhumanity.

One custom, which to Europeans seems extremely remarkable, is that of the family name of the mother, and not of the father, becoming the surname of the children of either sex. And another, connected with this, forbids a man from marrying with a woman of his own family name. Each family has for its crest or sign, or kobong, as they call it, some animal or vegetable; and a certain mysterious connexion is supposed to exist between a family and its kobong; so that a member of the family will never kill an animal of the same species with his kobong, should he find it asleep; indeed, he always kills it reluctantly, and never without affording it a chance of escape.[45] This arises from the family belief that some one individual of the species is their nearest friend, to kill whom would be a great crime, and is to be carefully avoided. And, in like manner, a native having a vegetable for a kobong may not gather it under certain circumstances, and at a particular period of the [Pg 95] year. It is said that they occasionally exchange surnames with their friends, a custom which is supposed to have prevailed among the Jews; and they have another practice resembling the same people, which is, that when a husband dies, his brother takes the wife.[46] Among beings who hold life so cheaply, it cannot be a matter of surprise that the destruction of infants should be occasionally practised, more especially in cases where the child is born with any natural deformity: nor is it an excuse for these barbarians that the polished nations of ancient Greece and Italy habitually committed the like atrocities, or even greater,—considering it in their own choice to rear up their offspring or not, exactly as it suited their convenience. In fact, we may learn from this and many other instances, that it is not civilisation alone, but yet more than that, Christianity, by which the difference between the European and the Australian is produced:—

“In vain are arts pursued, or taste refin’d,
Unless Religion purifies the mind.”

Respecting the languages spoken in different parts of New Holland, it is doubtful whether they have all a common root or not, but the opinion of Captain Grey, who was not unqualified to judge, is in favour of their kindred origin. In so vast an extent of country, among wandering tribes, that hold little or no communication with each other, great differences in language were to be expected, and are found to exist. If three men from the east, the west, and the north of England meet together, they occasionally puzzle one another by their various dialects; what, then, must be expected by way of variety in a country between two and three thousand miles across, without much communication, and totally [Pg 96] differing, at its extreme points, in climate and in animal and vegetable productions? For new objects new names were, of necessity, invented; but the resemblance between words signifying objects common everywhere, as, for instance, the parts of the human body, is said to be remarkable. The Australian languages are stated to be soft and melodious in their sound, and their songs, though rude and wild, have amazing power over the feelings of the soul. Noise would appear to have great charms in savage ears, and, sometimes, from the high key in which our English songs are occasionally pitched, it would seem to have charms also for “ears polite.” But an elegant and refined European song would only be laughed at and mimicked by the musical blacks, some few of whom are not, however, quite insensible to the sweets of civilised melody. Warrup, a native servant, was once present when “God save the Queen” was sung in chorus, and it so affected him, that he burst into tears. He certainly could not have understood the words, much less could he have entered into the noble and loyal spirit, of our National Anthem: it must, therefore, have been the music, and, perhaps, the excitement prevailing around him, which affected him.

[Pg 97]

image opossum hunting.




One of the most important occupations of every man in this present state of things, is the pursuit of food and necessary sustenance for himself and those belonging to him. But this occupation, being in some respects more difficult, or at least, more uncertain and engrossing, stands more forward in savage life, and appears more important than ever; while, at the same time, the contrast upon this subject between the rude child of nature and the civilized inhabitants of the earth, becomes even stronger than usual. In glancing over the condition of the native of the Bush in Australia, with respect to his supply of needful support, and his means of obtaining it, several truths are to be borne in remembrance, obvious indeed when pointed out, and yet not unlikely to escape a casual observer. First, the vast [Pg 98] extent of country, compared with the thin and scattered population it maintains; next, the very different sort of food required by a savage and a European; and lastly, the various kinds of food which are used by the inhabitants of the wilderness—are all matters which must be recollected, if we would form a fair judgment upon the subject, and do justice to the humble, and apparently scanty, bill of fare which Nature has provided for those that dwell among her wildest scenes and in her most secret, recesses. In these spots it is but rarely, of course, from the mere absence of sufficient provisions, that any large body of natives can assemble together; but, occasionally, a feast is prepared for a considerable number, either when some particular article of food abounds at a certain place and is in full season, or, especially, when a whale (a fish very common on the coasts of New Holland) is thrown ashore. In the latter case, it is impossible for us entirely to enter into the feelings of the savage, for we have never, unexpectedly, had so large a quantity of what is considered the greatest delicacy placed at once before us. Hence, when the Australian finds a whale thrown ashore in his own district, his heart warms and opens with kind feelings of hospitality; he longs to see all his friends about him, and large fires are immediately kindled to announce the fortunate and joyful event. Notice of the feast having been thus given, and a due invitation forwarded, he rubs himself all over with the blubber, and his favourite wives are served in the same manner, after which, he begins to cut his way into the flesh of the whale, the grain of which is about the firmness of a goose-quill; of this he chooses the nicest morsels, and either broils them on the fire, or cooks them by cutting them into small pieces, and spitting them on a pointed stick.

[Pg 99] Other natives, attracted by the flaming signal of revelry, soon assemble in gay companies from all quarters: by night they dance and sing, and by day they eat and sleep, and the feast continues unchecked until they at last fairly eat their way into the whale, and may be seen climbing in and about the carcase choosing their favourite pieces. The fish, in a few days, becomes more disagreeable than ever, but still they will not leave it, until they have been completely gorged with it,—out of temper from indigestion, and therefore engaged in frequent quarrels. And, even when they are, at length, obliged to quit the feast, they carry off with them as much as they can stagger under, to eat upon the way, and to take as a rarity to their distant friends. Such is a true picture of a native Australian feast, and the polished sons and daughters of Europe will turn away from it with feelings of unmingled disgust. But, with how many of these is life itself a perpetual series of feasting, less gross and disgusting indeed, but not less really sensual than this! How many inhabitants of civilised countries live continually as though the saying, “Let us eat and drink, for to-morrow we die” were the whole sum and substance of practical wisdom! Yet if it were so, who would be more happy, who more blessed in his situation, than the savage devouring, day after day, the food his heart delights in?

But a whale-feast is an event of no ordinary kind in the life of an inhabitant of the Bush, and, if we would know how the common sustenance of life is procured by him, we must follow him through a variety of scenes and pursuits, of which, by no means the least important or interesting, is the chase of the kangaroo.[47] [Pg 100] This singular and harmless creature is now so well known to Europeans, from specimens that have been brought over and placed in our public collections of animals, and also from numberless pictures, that it would be waste of time to stop to describe it. In truth, being one of the productions peculiar to Australia, it may be said, from the figures of it to be seen upon the back of every book relating to that country, to have become almost the kobong or crest of that southern region. In many portions of New Holland, particularly where the country is wooded and the soil tolerably fertile, kangaroos are very abundant; but so great havoc is made among these defenceless creatures by their various enemies, especially by man, that their numbers appear to be upon the decrease.[48]

A day’s hunting is often the cause of no small excitement, even in England, among men who care nothing for the object of their chase, and are certain of a good dinner at the end of their day’s sport; but we may suppose this to be a matter of more serious interest to the Australian, who depends upon his skill and patience in hunting for his daily food. His whole manner and appearance, accordingly, are changed on these occasions; his eyes brighten up, his motion becomes quick though silent, and every token of his eagerness and anxiety is discoverable in his behaviour. Earth, water, trees, sky, are all in turn the subjects of his keenest search, and his whole soul appears to be engaged in his two senses of sight and hearing. His wives, and even his children, become perfectly silent, until, perhaps, a suppressed whistle is given by one of the women, denoting that she sees a kangaroo near her husband, after which all is again quiet, and an unpractised stranger might ride [Pg 101] within a few yards of the group, and not perceive a living thing. The devoted animal, meanwhile, after listening two or three times without being able to perceive any further cause of alarm, returns to its food or other occupation in complete security, while the watchful savage poises his spear, and lifts up his arm ready for throwing it, and then advances slowly and with stealth towards his prey, no part moving but his legs. Whenever the kangaroo looks round, its enemy stands still in the same position he is in when it first raises its head, until the animal, again assured of safety, gives a skip or two, and goes on feeding: again the native advances, and the same scene occurs, until the whizzing spear penetrates the unfortunate creature, upon which the whole wood rings with sudden shouts; women and children all join in the chase, and, at last, the kangaroo, weakened from loss of blood and encumbered by the spear, places its back against a tree, and appears to attack its pursuer with the fury of despair. Though naturally a timid animal, it will, when it is hard pressed for life, make a bold stand; and, if hunted by Europeans, will sometimes wait for the dogs and tear them with its hind claws, or squeeze them with its fore arms, until the blood gushes out of the hound’s nostrils; and sometimes the poor creature will take to the water, and drown every dog that comes near it.[49] But by the natives the poor beast is generally soon dispatched with spears thrown from a distance, and its body is carried off by its conqueror and his wives to some convenient resting-place where they may enjoy their meal.

There is likewise another mode of hunting the same animal, in which many persons join together, and which, though more lively and noisy, is not so characteristical as the first. A herd of kangaroos are surprised either [Pg 102] in a thick bushy place, to which they have retired during the heat of the day, or else in an open plain. In the first case, they are encircled by a party, each native giving a low whistle, as he takes up his place, and when the blockade is finished, the bushes are set on fire, and the frightened animals fly from the flames towards the open plains; but no sooner do they approach the outskirts of the wood, than the bushes are fired in the direction in which they are running, while they are driven back by loud calls and tremendous cries, which increase their terror, and they run wildly about, until, at length, maddened by fear, they make a rush through their enemies, who allow but few of them to escape. When the kangaroos are surrounded upon a plain, the point generally chosen is an open bottom encircled by wood; each native has his place given him by some of the elder ones, and all possible means that art, or experience, or the nature of the ground, can furnish, are employed to ensure success in approaching as nearly as may be towards the animals without disturbing them. Thus the circle narrows round the unwary herd, till at last one of them becomes alarmed, and bounds away; but its flight is speedily stopped by a savage with fearful yells; and before the first moments of terror and surprise have passed by, the armed natives come running upon them from every side, brandishing their spears, and raising loud cries; nor does the slaughter, thus commenced, commonly finish before the greater number of them have fallen. These public hunts are conducted under certain rules; for example, the supposed owner of the land must be present, and must have invited the party, or a deadly fight between human beings is pretty sure to take place. The first spear that strikes a kangaroo settles whose property the dead animal is to be; however slight the wound, and even though inflicted by a [Pg 103] boy only, this rule holds good; and if the creature killed is one which the boy may not yet lawfully eat,[50] then his right passes on to his father, or nearest male relative. The cries of the hunters are said to be very beautiful and expressive, and they vary at different periods of the chase, being readily understood and answered by all, so that they can thus explain their meaning to one another at a very great distance.

But, since the kangaroo is one of the principal articles of food in the wilds of New Holland, there are yet other modes of taking it, which are commonly practised.

Sometimes they use the ordinary methods of catching it in nets or pitfalls. Occasionally, also, in a dry district, where many animals assemble together from a great distance to drink at some solitary piece of water, the huntsman builds for himself a rude place of shelter, in which for hours he remains concealed and motionless, until the thirsty animals approach in sufficient numbers. Then kangaroos, cockatoos, pigeons, &c. are attacked and destroyed without mercy, and the patience of the hunter is commonly richly rewarded by the booty he obtains.

But the mode of tracking a kangaroo until it is wearied out, is the one which, beyond all others, commands the admiration of the Australians, for it calls forth the exercise of every quality most highly prized among savages, skill in following traces, endurance of hunger and thirst, unwearied bodily exertion, and lasting perseverance. To perform this task the hunter starts upon the track of the kangaroo, which he follows until he catches sight of the animal, as it flies timidly before him; again he pursues the track, and again the object of his pursuit bounds away from him; and this is repeated until nightfall, when the pursuer lights his fire and sleeps upon [Pg 104] the track. With the first light of day the hunt is renewed, and, towards the close of the second day, or in the course of the third, the kangaroo, wearied and exhausted by the chase, will allow the hunter to approach near enough to spear it. None but a skilful hunter, in the pride of youth and strength can perform this feat, and one who has frequently practised it always enjoys great fame amongst his companions.

When the kangaroo has been obtained in some one or other of these various methods, the first operation is to take off the skin of the tail, the sinews of which are carefully preserved to sew cloaks or bags, or to make spears. The next thing to be thought of is the cooking of the flesh; and two modes of doing this are common. One of these is to make an oven by digging a hole in the sand, and lighting a fire in it; when the sand is well heated, and a large heap of ashes is collected, the hole is scraped out, and the kangaroo is placed in it, skin and all; it is then covered over with ashes, and a slow fire is kept up above it; when baked enough, it is taken out and laid upon its back, the intestines are then removed, and the whole of the gravy is left in the body of the animal, which is carefully taken out of the skin, and then cut up and eaten. Travellers in the Bush speak very highly of the delicious flavour of the meat thus curiously cooked. The other mode of dressing is merely to broil different portions of the kangaroo upon the fire, and it may be noticed that certain parts, as the blood, the entrails, and the marrow, are reckoned great dainties. Of these the young men are forbidden to partake. Of the blood a sort of long sausage is made, and this is afterwards eaten by the person of most consequence in the company.

Another abundant source of food is supplied to the native population of New Holland at certain seasons, [Pg 105] in particular situations, by the various sorts of fish which abound on its coasts, and in its bays and inlets. From this, most probably, arises the fact observed by Captain Flinders, that the borders of bays, and entrances of rivers, are in New Holland always most thickly peopled. And Collins mentions a sort of fancied superiority, which these people pretend to, above those that dwell in the more inland parts. “The natives of the coast,” he says, “when speaking of those in the interior, constantly expressed themselves with contempt and marks of disapprobation.” So very similar are the airs and vanity of a savage, to those in which civilised man indulges. The three most common modes of catching fish are, by spearing them, taking them by means of a weir constructed across places which are left nearly dry at low water, or after a flood, and enclosing them in a net, prepared by the women out of grassy fibres, and one of their greatest efforts of ingenuity.[51] Nothing very remarkable is to be noticed in these modes of fishing, except it be the speed with which they run along the shore, and the certainty with which they aim their spears at the inhabitants of the shallow bays and open lakes. As surely as the natives disappear under the surface of the water, so surely will they reappear with a fish writhing upon the point of their short spears; and even under water their aim is always correct. One traveller, Sturt, is of opinion that they seldom eat the finny tribes when they can get anything else, but this idea seems scarcely to agree with the report of others. At all events, whether from choice or not, a large proportion of their subsistence is derived from the waters. [Pg 106] With regard to the cookery of their fish, the Australian barbarians are said to have a most admirable method of dressing them, not unworthy of being copied by other nations. If the fish are not simply broiled upon the fire, they are laid in a piece of paper bark, which is wrapt round them, as paper is folded round a cutlet; strings of grass are then wound tightly about the bark and fish, which is slowly baked in heated sand, covered with hot ashes; when it is sufficiently cooked, the bark is opened, and answers the purpose of a dish; it is, of course, full of juice and gravy, not a drop of which has escaped. The flavour of many sorts of fish thus dressed is said to be delicious, and sometimes pieces of kangaroo and other meats are cooked in the same manner.

The seal is exceedingly abundant on many parts of the Australian coast, and is also useful to the natives for purposes of food, while the pursuit of this creature is an exciting sport for the inhabitants of the southern and western shores of New Holland. The animal must be surprised upon the beach, or in the surf, or among the rocks that lie at no great distance from the shore; and the natives delight in the pursuit, clambering about the wild crags that encircle their own land; sometimes leaping from one rock to another, spearing the fish that lie in the quiet pools between, in the next moment dashing into the surf to fight with a seal or turn a turtle; these are to them agreeable and joyous occupations. And when we remember that their steps are followed by a wife and children, as dear to them, probably, as ours are to us, who are witnesses of their skill and activity; and who, when the game is killed, will help to light the fire with which it is to be cooked, and to drag it to the resting-place, where the father romps with his little ones until the meal is made ready; when we recollect, likewise, that all this takes place in a climate so mild and [Pg 107] genial, that a house is not necessary, we shall feel less surprise at the difficulty of persuading an inhabitant of the Bush to fall into European customs, and submit to the trammels of civilised life.

The turtle, must by no means be forgotten, in an account of the different articles of provision upon which an Australian has to depend for his supply. These useful creatures are to be found chiefly on the coast in the warmer portions of New Holland, and are in high season about December and January, the height of summer in Australia. The green turtles are surprised upon the beach when they come to lay their eggs; but the fresh-water turtle is found (as its name implies,) in fresh lakes and ponds, at the season when these are most dried up, and their margin is overgrown with reeds and rushes. Among these the natives wade with stealthy pace, so quietly indeed, that they even creep upon wild fowl and spear them. The turtles swim lazily along the surface of the water, biting and smelling the various aquatic plants they meet with, but as soon as they are alarmed, they sink to the bottom instantly. The pursuer puts out his foot, (the toes of which he uses to seize anything, almost as we use our fingers,) and gropes about with it among the weeds at the bottom of the water until he feels the turtle; and then, holding it to the ground, he plunges his hands and arms in and seizes his prey. In this manner two or three men have been known to take fourteen turtles in a very short time; but these are small, weighing from one to two or three pounds each. The fresh-water turtle is cooked, after the Australian fashion, by being baked, shell and all, in hot ashes; and when it is sufficiently dressed, the bottom shell is removed with ease, and the whole animal remains in the upper shell, which serves for a dish. They are generally very fat and delicious, so that the New Hollanders [Pg 108] are extremely fond of them, and the turtle season, being an important part of the year, is looked forward to with pleasure. The green turtles, which are a much larger animal, found only by the sea-side, are taken when crawling on the beach. If they by accident get upon their backs, they are unable to right themselves, and perish miserably, so that nothing more is necessary to secure them, than to place them in that posture, and they may be taken away and devoured at leisure. Among Wellesley Islands, at the bottom of the Gulph of Carpentaria, in the north of New Holland, Captain Flinders obtained in one day, in this manner, no less than forty-six turtles, the least of them weighing 250lbs, and the average being about 300lbs; besides which, many that were not wanted, because there was no room to stow them away, were turned again, and suffered to make their escape.

Opossum hunting offers another means of supplying food to the Australians, and as these quadrupeds usually dwell in the hollows of decayed trees, and ascend the trees when they are at all alarmed, the mode of pursuing them is of a new and different character. The first thing to be done is to ascertain that the opossum has really concealed itself somewhere in the tree. To discover this the holes made by the nails of the animal in the bark as it climbed up, are sufficient; only, one of these footmarks having a little sand in it is anxiously sought for, and if this sand sticks together, when the hunter blows gently upon it, it is a proof, since it is not dry enough yet to blow away, that the opossum has gone up into the tree that very morning. The dextrous savage then pulls out his hatchet,[52] a rude stone hatchet—unless [Pg 109] he has been fortunate enough to get a better one from some European, and cuts a notch in the bark of the tree sufficiently large and deep to receive the ball of his great toe. The first notch being thus made, about four feet from the ground, he places the toe of his right foot in it, throws his right arm round the tree, and with his left hand sticks the point of the handle of his hatchet into the bark, as high up as he can reach, and thus forms a stay to drag himself up with. This first step being made good, he cuts another for his left foot, and so on, always clinging with the left hand and cutting with the right, resting the whole weight of the body upon the toe of either foot, until the hole is reached where the opossum lies hidden, which is then compelled by smoke, or by being poked out, to quit its hiding place; when the conqueror, catching hold of his victim’s tail, dashes it down on the ground, and quietly descends after it. As the bite of the opossum is very painful and severe, due care is taken, in laying hold of it, to keep clear of all danger from its teeth. Occasionally trees of 130 feet in height have been observed, which had been notched by the natives up to at least eighty feet! and the old notches are never again used, but new ones are cut every time. Strange to tell, this very difficult operation of following the opossum is not uncommonly performed by moonlight, some persons moving onwards to detect the animal feeding, while others follow, creeping after them with fire-sticks; and it is curious to watch the dark body of the savage, climbing the tree, contrasted with the pale moonlight. The Australians are fond of these expeditions, the end of which is the same as of the others conducted in broad daylight—the poor opossum is reached, and knocked down with a stick, or shaken off the branch to which he had fled as a last retreat.

Birds form a considerable article of food in the wilds [Pg 110] of New Holland, and there are many various sorts of them, as well as many different modes of killing and ensnaring them, which it would be tedious to dwell upon; but the emu, or cassowary, is too important and remarkable to be passed over. This bird is very large, and its covering resembles hair more than feathers; it is not able to fly, but it can run more swiftly than the fleetest dogs, and its kick is violent enough to break a man’s leg: it is however easily tamed. The instinctive dread which these animals in their wild state have of man is very remarkable. It was observed by Major Mitchell, on various occasions during his journeys, that the first appearance of large quadrupeds—bullocks and horses, did not scare the emu or kangaroo; but that, on the contrary, when they would have fled from the first approach of their enemy man, advancing singly, they would allow him to draw near when mounted, and even to dismount, fire from behind a horse, and load again, without attempting to run off. In hunting the emu, it matters not how much noise is made, for the natives say that bird is quite deaf, although its sight is keen in proportion. The kangaroo must be pursued as silently as possible.

Emus are killed in the same manner as kangaroos, but they are more prized by the natives, and the death of one of these birds awakens a greater excitement in the spectators; shout succeeds shout, and the distant sojourners take up the cry, until it is sometimes reechoed for miles; yet the feast which follows is very exclusive, the flesh of the emu, which, except in one part which tastes like beef, is very oily, being thought by far too delicious to be made a common article of food. Young men and unprivileged persons are forbidden to touch it, on pain of severe penalties, which are strictly enforced. The emus are generally found, like [Pg 111] the kangaroos, in tolerably fertile spots, and like them, also, are fast disappearing from the neighbourhood of the haunts of Europeans. The destruction of cockatoos with the weapon, or throwing stick, called a kiley,[53] the hunting and snaring of different sorts of wild fowl, afford ample room for a display of that cunning, skill, and amazing patience, which distinguish the character of uncivilized man. One curious way of catching birds in Australia is certainly original, if it be but correctly reported. It is said that a native will, in the heat of the sun, lay down as if asleep, holding a bit of fish in his hand; the bird seeing the bait, seizes on the fish, and the native then catches it! But enough has now been stated respecting the various ways in which game is taken in the bush. And although, perhaps, enough has been said concerning Australian cookery, yet the mode in which they cook the birds in that country, similar indeed to the methods already mentioned, may briefly be noted. When the natives wish to dress a bird very nicely, the entrails are taken out and cooked separately, (being considered a great delicacy,) after the example of the admirers of woodcocks in England. A triangle is then formed round the bird by three red hot pieces of stick, against which ashes are placed, hot coals are also stuffed into the inside of the bird, and it is thus quickly cooked, and kept full of gravy. In the opinion of [Pg 112] Captain Grey, wild fowl dressed in this manner, on a clean piece of bark, was as good a dish as he had ever eaten.

But there are many other kinds of food which custom, and perhaps necessity, have rendered palatable to the people of New Holland, but which we can regard only with disgust and aversion. Among these it may be scarcely just to reckon frogs, since they are an article of food in one of the most polished nations of Europe, and those who have tasted them properly dressed have usually no fault to find with their flavour. The season in Australia for catching frogs and fresh-water shell-fish, is when the swamps are nearly dried up by the heat; these animals then bury themselves in holes in the mud, and the native women, with their long sticks, and taper arms, which they plunge up to the shoulder in the slime, manage to drag them out. In summer a whole troop of females may be seen paddling about in a swamp, slapping themselves to kill the mosquitoes and sandflies, and every now and then plunging their arms down into the mud, and dragging forth their prey. Sometimes one of these women may be seen with ten or twelve pounds’ weight of frogs in her bag. Frogs are cooked on a slow fire of wood-ashes, and being held in one hand by the hind legs, a dexterous pinch with the finger and thumb of the other at once removes the lower portion of the intestines, and the remainder of the little animal is then taken at a mouthful. Muscles are also abundant in the rivers, and in the north-western parts of New Holland they form a principal article of food; but in the south-western districts the inhabitants will not touch them, for there is a tradition that some persons long ago ate them and died by means of sorcerers, who considered that fish to be their peculiar property. Grubs are a favourite food with some of the Australian natives, and, [Pg 113] in order to procure them, they are at the pains of breaking off the top of the trees frequented by these grubs, since, until its top is dead, the trees do not afford a proper abode for them. Grubs are eaten either raw, or else roasted in much the same manner as the fish are. But taste is proverbially a subject concerning which there is no accounting by reason, as we must confess when we find snakes, lizards, rats, mice, and weasels among Australian dainties. The smaller quadrupeds are not skinned before they are cooked, but are dressed with the skin, the fur being only singed off; and hunger renders these not only palatable but digestible. Salt is rarely or never used by the natives, until they have been taught its use by Europeans; and even then they do not relish it at first, any more than other sauces or condiments; indeed, it is quite laughable to see their grimaces the first time that they taste mustard upon a piece of meat.

Among vegetable productions there are many roots, which are eaten by the natives. It is commonly the office of the women to dig for roots, for which purpose they carry a long pointed stick to loosen the earth, and that is afterwards scooped up by the fingers of the left hand. Their withered arms and hands, covered with earth by digging and scraping after food, resemble, as they advance in years, the limbs and claws of a quadruped more than those of a human being. In stiff soils, this operation of digging can only be performed when the earth is moist, but in loose sandy soils it may be always done, and, on this account, the visits of the natives to different spots are regulated by the season of the year; as, for example, the roots that grow in the clay are not in season, because not to be got at, in the parching and dry months of summer. No plant bearing seeds is allowed to be dug up after it has flowered, and the natives are very careful [Pg 114] in observing this rule. A considerable portion of the time of the women and children is occupied in getting up the various eatable roots, which are either roasted, or else devoured in a raw state; some resembling onions and others potatoes in their flavour. One root, called the mene, has rather an acid taste, and when eaten alone, it is said to disorder the bowels; but the natives in the southern parts pound it between two stones, and sprinkle over it a few pinches of a kind of earth, which forms, together with the bruised root, a sort of paste, that is thought exceedingly good, and quite free from all injurious properties. A kind of paste, which is sometimes baked into a cake, is also formed of many other roots. All these grow wild, and are used exactly in their natural state, unless burning the leaves of one plant in dry seasons to improve the root, or similar trifling pains respecting their growth, can deserve the name of cultivation. The fungus is also greedily devoured by the unfastidious natives of Australia, and a kind of gum, resembling what is in England called gum-tragacanth, is very abundant and popular among them. One traveller, Captain Sturt, who was among the first to notice the use of this peculiar food, imagined that it was eaten only from dire necessity. Indeed, it is an amusing proof of the occasional errors into which hasty impressions will lead intelligent men, that he pities as “unfortunate creatures reduced to the last extremity” those who were, in reality, regaling themselves upon a favourite luxury. During summer the acacias, growing in swampy plains, are positively loaded with this gum, and the natives assemble in great numbers to feast upon it. On such occasions a sort of fair is held among those that frequent these yearly meetings, and fun, frolic, and quarrelling of every description prevail, as in similar meetings of our own countrymen.

[Pg 115] The pulp of the nut of a species of palm is called by-yu, and it is a curious fact, that, although in its natural state this is a rank poison, the natives have, nevertheless, a method of depriving it of its mischievous qualities, and it becomes an agreeable and nourishing article of food. Europeans, ignorant of the mode of preparing this nut, are sure to pay for their rashness, if they venture to eat it in its unprepared state. The women collect these nuts from the palms in the month of March, (the beginning of autumn,) and leave them to soak for several days in some shallow pool; after the by-yu has been sufficiently soaked, they dig, in a dry sandy place, holes about one foot across and nearly two feet in depth: these holes are lined with rushes, and filled with nuts, over which last a little sand is sprinkled, and then all is covered nicely up with the tops of the grass-tree. And thus, in about a fortnight, the pulp which encloses the nut becomes quite dry, and it is then fit for use: but if eaten before, it produces the bad effects already mentioned. The pulp is eaten both raw and roasted; in the latter state, the taste is said to be equal to that of a chestnut; but this process has no effect whatever upon the kernels, which act still as a strong emetic and purgative. This subject of the sources whence the Australians derive their daily food from God, who, whether in the north or the south, in the east or the west, is still found “opening his hand,” and “filling all things living with plenteousness,” might easily be extended even yet more; for in so vast a tract of country as New Holland, the varieties of animal and vegetable food, and the different modes of obtaining it, must evidently be very numerous. Enough, however, has been stated to enable the reader to judge respecting the means of subsistence possessed by the inhabitants of the Bush; and it will be easily [Pg 116] seen that this mode of living appears, at the first view, more precarious and less laborious than it really is. It is not so precarious a life as it seems to be, because the articles needful for support, of one kind or another, are perpetually at hand to those who can find them and use them, whilst Europeans, or even natives from a distant part, are often, for want of this power, in danger of starving in the midst of plenty.[54] At the same time, the savage, free from servile toil and daily labour though he may appear to be, does in truth earn his living quite as laboriously as others do; nor is he, of all men, the most exempt from the general curse which sin has brought down upon us: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread.” Enough, likewise, has been stated respecting the supplies provided in the wilderness for its inhabitants to qualify us to perceive how very serious an injury is inflicted upon the original people of a district in Australia, when Europeans sit down, as they term it, (i.e. settle,) upon their lands. We might imagine (however Utopian may be the fancy) a body of able agriculturists settling in a country but poorly cultivated, and while they occupied a portion of the land belonging to the first inhabitants, rendering what remained to these more valuable by proper cultivation, than the whole had originally been. But nothing of the kind is possible with people accustomed from their infancy to habits of life and means of subsistence like [Pg 117] those of the Australians. Occupy their land, and the wild animals must be destroyed or driven away; the wild plants and roots ploughed up or burnt; or, at all events, the wild owners of that land must (however rightful, however ancient, their claim of possession) be warned off from their own soil, and, as trespassers, made liable to punishment according to law,—to European law.

We are not to suppose from the wandering character of the life usually led by them, that these human beings have no notion of property in land. On the contrary, it is an opinion held by men best able to judge, and supported by sufficient proof, that, not only have the various tribes their fixed boundaries of hunting-ground, which they cannot cross without the risk of a quarrel with their neighbours, but that even individual persons possess property of this nature, which is handed down, according to certain laws, from father to son. A curious example of this strictness about property, exceeding even the ideas of Europeans upon the subject, was found upon the banks of the river Darling, where different tribes occupy different portions of the stream whence all equally derive the chief part of their subsistence. One of these tribes desired Major Mitchell’s men to pour out the water which they had taken, as if it had belonged to them, and at the same time they dug a hole in the ground to receive it, when poured out. Nay, so strongly are the river chiefs possessed with a notion of the water being their own, that they have been seen, on receiving a tomahawk, to point to the stream, signifying that the strangers were at liberty to take water from it. Indeed, the main difference between the property of the native and that of the colonist, consists in the very dissimilar uses to which the parties apply their possessions. The one holds his lands for a cattle-run or a farm, the other employs his in feeding kangaroos or in growing [Pg 118] wild roots. But both agree in punishing intruders, both profess alike to esteem the rights of property to be sacred; and yet how questionable, how opposite to these professions must the conduct of Europeans seem, when they fix themselves upon certain spots, without taking any notice of the vested rights of the former inhabitants, and then threaten, or even shoot them, if they are found lingering among their old haunts, upon their own estates! Or, if no open violence is offered, “the sheep and cattle,” to borrow the words of a kind-hearted traveller, “fill the green pastures, where the kangaroo was accustomed to range until the stranger came from distant lands, and claimed the soil.” The first inhabitants, unless they remove beyond the limits of the colony, are hemmed in by the power of the white population, and deprived of the liberty of wandering at will through their native wilds, and compelled to seek shelter in close thickets and rocky fastnesses; where, however, if they can find a home, they have great difficulty in finding a subsistence, for their chief support, the kangaroo, is either destroyed or banished. In 1772, when the French discoverer, Monsieur Marion, was exploring Van Dieman’s Land, he found the coast well inhabited, as the fires by day and night bore witness, and on anchoring in Frederic Hendrick’s Bay, about thirty men assembled upon the shore. And now, only seventy years later, what has become of the grandchildren and descendants of those unfortunate natives? Let the reply to this inquiry be made in the very words given in evidence before a Committee of the House of Commons, in 1838.[55]—“There is not a native in Van Dieman’s Land. The last portion that was secured was sent to a small island called Gun Carriage Island, where they are maintained at the expense of government, and [Pg 119] I believe some attempts at civilisation have been made.—There has been a lingering desire to come back again; but they have no means of getting back; the island is some distance from Van Dieman’s Land; they are pining away and dying very fast.—I believe more than one half of them have died, not from any positive disease, but from a disease which we know in medicine under the name of home-sickness, a disease which is very common to some Europeans, particularly the Swiss soldiers and the Swiss peasantry: they are known to die from a disease of the stomach, which comes on entirely from a desire to return to their country.”

It may be difficult for the christian moralist to condemn altogether the system of colonisation which has been practised; it cannot be denied that the occupation of these vast and favoured regions by civilised and christian nations is, in itself, a highly desirable object; yet the man of right principles will surely hesitate before he approves, for the sake of the good that is to follow, of the evil which has been done. In this instance, as in many other evils to be seen under the sun, it is more easy to perceive the mischief, than to point out the means of avoiding or of remedying it. But, at least, it may be said, let those who now hold the beautiful and frequently fertile lands, which once belonged to the poor and helpless native, beware of having their hearts lifted up with pride,—of forgetting themselves or their God. Past evils are not to be prevented, but future events are still in their power. The warning and reasoning of the great Apostle of the Gentiles, (Rom. xi. 17-24,) although upon quite another subject, are still not without application here. Nor should the British colonist ever forget, while he surveys the fruitful fields which he may now call his own, the emphatic words of St. Paul: “If God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also spare not thee.”

[Pg 120]

image natives of the murray islands in boats.




The shyness which the savages of Australia frequently exhibit in their first intercourse with Europeans is not at all surprising; indeed, it is rather remarkable how soon they get over this feeling, if they are not interfered with, and no unpleasant occurrences take place. As Captain Flinders has very justly observed, “were we living in a state of nature, frequently at war with our neighbours, and ignorant of the existence of any other nation, on the first arrival of strangers, so different in complexion and appearance to ourselves, having power to transport themselves over, and even living upon an element which to us was impassable,[56] the first sensation [Pg 121] would probably be terror, and the first movement flight.” We should watch these extraordinary people from our retreats, and if we found ourselves sought out or pursued by them, their designs would be suspected; otherwise, upon seeing them quietly engaged in their own occupations, curiosity would get the better of fear, and, after observing them more closely, we should ourselves seek to open a communication. This is precisely what takes place with the native tribes in New Holland, when the discoverers conduct themselves prudently, and no particular cause of offence or dislike occurs. But where all appears equally strange and suspicious to them, it cannot be wondered if they often mistake the meaning of European customs and actions. For example, when Major Mitchell was desirous of taking the portrait of a native in Eastern Australia, the terror and suspicion of the poor creature, at being required to stand steadily before the artist were such, that, notwithstanding the power of disguising fear, so remarkable in the savage race, the stout heart of Cambo was overcome, and beat visibly; the perspiration streamed from his breast, and he was about to sink to the ground, when he at length suddenly darted away; but he speedily returned, bearing in one hand his club, and in the other his boomerang or kiley, with which he seemed to gain just fortitude enough to be able to stand on his legs until the sketch was finished.

To the observer of human nature it is, indeed, a curious spectacle to watch the several contrary feelings and impulses by which the Australian savage is actuated in his intercourse with the more civilised portions of our race. Attachment, very strong attachment to his own customs, and wild roving mode of life,—admiration of the evident superiority, the luxury, abundance and comfort, enjoyed by Europeans,—doubt and alarm respecting the [Pg 122] final issue of the changes which he sees taking place before his eyes,—an increasing taste for many of the useful or agreeable articles which are to be procured only from the hands of the strangers,—these and other similar feelings alternately sway the mind, and prompt the actions, of the native of the bush in Australia, so as to give an appearance of inconsistency, not merely to the varying conduct of different persons, but frequently to the behaviour of the very same person at different times. Sometimes the perplexed savage decidedly prefers his piece of whale to all the luxuries of English fare;[57] at another time he despises the common food of the bush—kangaroo flesh, or fish,—and presuming upon his usefulness as a guide, nothing but wheaten flour, at the rate of two pounds and a half a day, will satisfy his desires.[58] One day, fired with a wish to emulate his betters, the black man assumes the costume of an European, likes to be close-shaved, wears a white neck-cloth, and means to become entirely “a white fellow.” Another day, wearied with the heat and thraldom of dress, and tempted by the cool appearance, or stung by the severe taunts of his brethren in the bush, off he flings his encumbrances and civilisation, and gladly returns to a state of nature again.

The barber’s art appears, in several cases, to have caught the attention of these savages. The following ridiculous account of an operation of this kind, performed upon some natives of the country a little southward of Port Jackson, is given by Flinders. “A new employment arose up on our hands. We had clipped the hair and beards of the two Botany Bay natives, at Red Point; and they were showing themselves to the others, and persuading them to follow their example. [Pg 123] While, therefore, the powder was drying, I began with a large pair of scissors to execute my new office upon the eldest of four or five chins presented to me; and as great nicety was not required, the shearing of a dozen of them did not occupy me long. Some of the more timid were alarmed at a formidable instrument coming so near to their noses, and would scarcely be persuaded by their shaven friends to allow the operation to be finished. But when their chins were held up a second time, their fear of the instrument, the wild stare of their eyes, and the smile which they forced, formed a compound upon the rough savage countenance, not unworthy the pencil of a Hogarth. I was almost tempted to try what effect a little snip would produce, but our situation was too critical to admit of such experiments.”[59]

It has been repeatedly stated, upon good authority, that the health of the natives of the bush has suffered greatly, and that their lives have been frequently shortened, by the habits and indulgences which they have learned from their more civilized neighbours. In their original state, although beyond question the average duration of life was considerably below that of European nations, yet an advanced age was not uncommonly attained among them. Numbers die during the period of infancy, for none except very strong children can possibly undergo the hardships, the privations, and the perpetual travelling, which most of the infants born in the bush must brave and endure. Besides which, there is the chance of a violent death in some of the frequent quarrels which arise and include in their consequences all the relatives of the contending parties. But, due allowance having been made for these causes by which the average duration of life in those wild regions is shortened, it does not appear that their inhabitants are [Pg 124] a particularly short-lived race, although by some persons this has been thought to be the case. It is impossible exactly to ascertain the age of the Australian savages, who have no mode of keeping account of this themselves; but from instances of youths, their father, grandfather, and great uncle being alive, and in the enjoyment of tolerably good health, or from similar cases, it may be safely concluded that they frequently reach, or even pass beyond, the boundary term of life, three score years and ten. To one horrible mode of departing from life, which is strangely common in more polished nations, these barbarians are, happily, strangers. Captain Grey says, “I believe they have no idea that such a thing as a man’s putting an end to his own life could ever occur; whenever I have questioned them on this point, they have invariably laughed at me, and treated my question as a joke.” The period of old age must be as happy as any other time in the life of a savage, if not more so, since aged men are always treated with much respect, and rarely take an active part in any fray. They are allowed to marry young wives, and to watch them as jealously, and treat them as cruelly, as they please; and they appear to suffer less from weakness and disease than the aged amongst us usually endure. The old, too, are privileged to eat certain kinds of meat forbidden to the young. Thus Piper, a native, who accompanied Major Mitchell, would not eat the flesh of emu, even when food was scarce; but when he had undergone the ceremony of being rubbed over with the fat of that bird by an old man, he had thenceforth no objection to it. The threatened penalty was, that young men, after eating it, would be afflicted with sores all over the body; but the fact is, that it is too rich and oily for the old men to allow any but themselves to partake of it. So that, upon the whole, in New Holland, as in most other uncivilised [Pg 125] countries, old age is a period of much dignity, and of considerable enjoyment of life.

But, whatever may be the troubles, or whatever the enjoyments, of old age, they are, in their very nature, even above our other troubles or enjoyments, brief and transitory. The aged warrior of Australia can plead no exemption from the common lot of mortality, and death draws a veil over the chequered existence,—the faults and follies, the talents and virtues, of every child of Adam. The various customs and superstitions, connected with the death and burial of their friends, are very numerous among the tribes of Australia, and some of them are curious and peculiar. It would be impossible to give a full account of them, but a few of the most remarkable may be selected. Throughout all the funeral solemnities of savage and heathen nations the same distinguishing mark is to be observed,—they are the vain devices, the miserable inventions of men who sorrow for their departed friends as those that have no hope. Nothing, it is asserted, can awake in the breast more melancholy feelings than the funeral chants of the Australians. They are sung by a whole chorus of females of all ages, and the effect produced upon the bystanders by this wild music surpasses belief. The following is a chant, which has been heard upon several such occasions, and which, simple though it be, fully expresses the feelings of a benighted heathen mourning over the grave of a friend whom he has lost (as he thinks) for ever:—

The young women sing My young brother, }
The old women My young son, } again,
In future shall I
never see.
My young brother, }
My young son, } again,
In future shall I
never see.

But previously to our entering upon the subject of [Pg 126] the funeral rites practised in New Holland, it will be necessary to notice the superstitions respecting sorcerers, which in that country are so intimately connected with the very idea of death. When an individual life is taken away by open violence, then, as we have seen, it is avenged upon the supposed murderer, or his relatives. But when death occurs from accidental or natural causes, it is usually attributed to the influence of sorcery, and not unfrequently is it revenged upon some connexion of the parties believed to have practised that art. So that, generally speaking, the death of one human being involves that of another, which is no small check to population. In truth, it would almost seem that the natives have no idea of death occurring, except by violence or sorcery;[60] and these strange notions must not be dealt with too severely, in a country like England, where (within the last 200 years, and in no uncivilised state of society) persons have been burnt for witchcraft; and in which, even in the present day, every vile imposture and godless pretence of supernatural power is sure of finding eager listeners and astonished admirers. The Boyl-yas, or native sorcerers, are objects of mysterious dread, and are thought to have the power of becoming invisible to all eyes but those of their brethren in the same evil craft. As our northern witches were supposed to have the power of riding upon a broom-stick, so these southern sorcerers are said to be able to transport themselves at pleasure through the air. If they have a dislike to any one they can kill him, it is said, by stealing on him at night and consuming his flesh, into which they enter like pieces of quartz-stone, and the pain they occasion is always felt. [Pg 127] Another sorcerer, however, can draw them out, and the pieces of stone pretended to be thus obtained are kept as great curiosities. Perhaps the clearest ideas of the imaginary powers of these sorcerers, and of the dread in which they are held, will be found from the following account, obtained from a native with the utmost difficulty, (for the subject is never willingly mentioned,) and reported verbatim by Captain Grey.

“‘The Boyl-yas,’ said the trembling Kaiber, ‘are natives who have the power of boyl-ya; they sit down to the northward, the eastward, and southward; the Boyl-yas are very bad, they walk away there’ (pointing to the east). ‘I shall be very ill presently. The Boyl-yas eat up a great many natives,—they eat them up as fire would; you and I will be very ill directly. The Boyl-yas have ears: by and by they will be greatly enraged. I’ll tell you no more.’

“‘The Boyl-yas move stealthily,—you sleep and they steal on you,—very stealthily the Boyl-yas move. These Boyl-yas are dreadfully revengeful; by and by we shall be very ill. I’ll not talk about them. They come moving along in the sky,—cannot you let them alone? I’ve already a terrible headache; by and by you and I will be two dead men.’

“‘The natives cannot see them. The Boyl-yas do not bite, they feed stealthily; they do not eat the bones, but consume the flesh. Just give me what you intend to give, and I’ll walk off.’

What secrets can the human breast contain,
When tempted by thy charms, curst love of gain!

“‘The Boyl-yas sit at the graves of natives in great numbers. If natives are ill, the Boyl-yas charm, charm, charm, charm, and charm, and, by and by, the natives recover.’”

[Pg 128] Nothing further could be learned from this terrified and unwilling witness. The custom spoken of in the last part of his evidence, that of sitting at the graves of the dead, is found in nearly all the known portions of Australia, and the object of this practice is to discover by what person the death of the deceased individual has been caused, which is supposed to be declared by dreams or visions. A similar custom among the Jews is reproved by the prophet Isaiah, chap. lxv. 4, 5.

Once, when Major Mitchell had been harassed, and two of his party killed by the hostile natives, he reached a spot of security, where, while admiring the calm repose of the wild landscape, and the beauteous beams of the setting sun, he was anticipating a night free from disturbance. He was alone, waiting the arrival of his party, but his reveries were dissipated in the most soothing manner, by the soft sounds of a female voice, singing in a very different tone from that generally prevailing among the Australians. It sounded like the song of despair, and, indeed, it was the strain of a female mourning over some deceased relative; nor could the loud “hurra” of the men, when they came up, angry at the recent pillage and murder of some of the party, put to flight the melancholy songstress of the woods. On these occasions it is usual for the relatives of the deceased to continue their lamentations, appearing insensible of what people may be doing around them.

The rude verses, given below, and forming the substance of a chant, sung by an old woman to incite the men to avenge the death of a young person, may serve at once for a specimen of the poetry and superstition of the Australian wilderness:—

“The blear-eyed sorcerers of the north
Their vile enchantments sung and wove,
And in the night they sallied forth,
A fearful, man-devouring drove.

[Pg 129] “Feasting on our own lov’d one
With sanguinary jaws and tongue,
The wretches sat, and gnaw’d, and kept
Devouring, while their victim slept.
Yho, yang, yho yang, yang yho.

“Yes, unconsciously he rested
In a slumber too profound;
While vile Boyl-yas sat and feasted
On the victim they had bound
In sleep:—Mooligo, dear young brother,
Where shall we find the like of thee?
Favourite of thy tender mother,
We again shall never see
Mooligo, our dear young brother.
Yho, yang yho, ho, ho.

“Men, who ever bold have been,
Are your long spears sharpened well?
Fix anew the quartz-stone keen,
Let each shaft upon them tell.
Poise your meer-ros, long and sure,
Let the kileys whiz and whirl
Strangely through the air so pure;
Heavy dow-uks at them hurl;
Shout the yell they dread to hear.
Let the young men leap on high,
To avoid the quivering spear;
Light of limb and quick of eye,
Who sees well has nought to fear.
Let them shift, and let them leap,
While the quick spear whistling flies,
Woe to him who cannot leap!
Woe to him who has bad eyes!”

When an old woman has commenced a chant of this kind, she will continue it until she becomes positively exhausted; and upon her ceasing, another takes up the song. The effect some of them have upon the assembled men is very great; indeed, it is said that these addresses of the old women are the cause of most of the disturbances which take place. Thus, even amid the forests of New Holland, the influence of woman will, in one way or another, make itself felt.

The ceremonies observed at the funeral of a native vary, as might be expected, in so great a space, but they are wild and impressive in every part of New Holland. According to Collins, the natives of the colony called New [Pg 130] South Wales were in the habit of burning the bodies of those who had passed the middle age of life, but burial seems the more universal method of disposing of their dead among the Australians. Some very curious drawings and figures cut in the rock were discovered by Captain Grey, in North-Western Australia, but whether these were burying-places does not appear. For the account of these works of rude art, which is extremely interesting, but too long to transcribe, the reader is referred to the delightful work of the traveller just mentioned.

The shrieks and piercing cries uttered by the women over their dead relatives, are said to be truly fearful, and agreeably to the ancient custom of idolatrous eastern nations mentioned in 1 Kings xviii. 28, and in Jer. xlviii. 37,[61] they tear and lacerate themselves most frightfully, occasionally cutting off portions of their beards, and, having singed them, throwing them upon the dead body. With respect to their tombs, these are of various sorts in different districts. In the gulph of Carpentaria, on the Northern coast, Flinders found several skeletons of natives, standing upright in the hollow trunks of trees; the skulls and bones, being smeared or painted partly red and partly white, made a very strange appearance. On the banks of the river Darling, in the interior of Eastern Australia, Major Mitchell fell in with a tribe, which had evidently suffered greatly from small-pox,[62] or [Pg 131] some similar disease, and in the same neighbourhood he met with some remarkable mounds or tombs, supposed to cover the remains of that portion of the tribe which had been swept off by the same disease that had left its marks upon the survivors. On a small hill, overlooking the river, were three large tombs, of an oval shape, and about twelve feet across in the longest diameter. Each stood in the centre of an artificial hollow, the mound in the middle being about five feet high; and on each of them were piled numerous withered branches and limbs of trees, forming no unsuitable emblems of mortality. There were no trees on this hill, save one quite dead, which seemed to point with its hoary arms, like a spectre, to the tombs. A melancholy waste, where a level country and boundless woods extended beyond the reach of vision, was in perfect harmony with the dreary foreground of the scene.

Indeed, to those who have been from infancy accustomed to the quiet consecrated burying places of our own land,—spots which, in rural districts, are usually retired, yet not quite removed from the reach of “the busy hum of men;” to those who have always looked upon a Christian temple,

“Whose taper spire points, finger-like, to heaven,”

as the almost necessary accompaniment of a burial-place, the appearance of the native tombs in the desolate wilds of a savage and uncultivated country, must be dreary in the extreme. Scenes of this character must appear to the eye of a Christian almost emblematical of the spiritual blank—the absence of any sure and certain hope—in the midst of which the natives, whose remains are there reposing, must have lived and died. How [Pg 132] striking is Captain Grey’s description of another tomb, which was found in a totally different part of New Holland, near the western coast, and at no great distance from the Swan River settlement! The scenery, not, indeed, in the immediate vicinity, but very near to the newly-made grave, is thus described. Even at mid-day, the forest wore a sombre aspect, and a stillness and solitude reigned throughout it that were very striking. Occasionally, a timid kangaroo might be seen stealing off in the distance, or a kangaroo-rat might dart out from a tuft beneath your feet, but these were rare circumstances. The most usual disturbers of these wooded solitudes were the black cockatoos; “but I have never, in any part of the world,” adds the enterprising traveller, “seen so great a want of animal life as in these mountains.” It was not far from this lonely district, in a country nearly resembling it, only less wooded and more broken into deep valleys, that a recent grave was found, carefully constructed, with a hut built over it, to protect the now senseless slumberer beneath from the rains of winter. All that friendship could do to render his future state happy had been done. His throwing-stick was stuck in the ground at his head; his broken spears rested against the entrance of the hut; the grave was thickly strewed with wilgey, or red earth; and three trees in front of the hut, chopped with a variety of notches and uncouth figures, bore testimony that his death had been bloodily avenged. The native Kaiber, who acted as guide to the travellers, gazed upon this scene with concern and uneasiness. Being asked why the spears were broken, the trees notched, and the red earth strewed upon the grave, his reply was, “Neither you nor I know: our people have always done so, and we do so now,”—quite as good a reason as many who think themselves far more enlightened are able to give [Pg 133] for their actions. When a proposal was made to stop for the night at this solitary spot, poor Kaiber resisted it; “I cannot rest here,” said he, “for there are many spirits in this place.”[63]

When Mr. Montgomery Martin was in Australia, he obtained with some difficulty the dead body of an old woman, who had long been known about Sydney. Hearing of her death and burial in the forest, about twenty-five miles from his residence, he went thither, and aided by some stock-keepers, found the grave,—a slightly elevated and nearly circular mound. The body was buried six feet deep, wrapped in several sheets of bark, the inner one being of a fine silvery texture. Several things which the deceased possessed in life, together with her favourite dog, were buried with her,—all apparently for use in another world. The skull of this poor creature was full of indentations, as if a tin vessel had been struck by a hammer; light might be seen through these hollows, which had been caused by blows of whaddies (hard sticks) when she was young, and some bold youths among the natives courted her after this strange fashion. It seemed scarcely possible that marks so extraordinary could have been made in the human skull without fracturing it.[64]

In a society of men so simple and so little advanced in refinement or civilisation as the inhabitants of New Holland, it is evident that their wants must be few and easily satisfied, their stock of earthly riches very small and humble. Indeed, these people nearly always carry the whole of their worldly property about with them, and the Australian hunter is thus equipped: round his middle is wound a belt spun from the fur of the opossum, in which are stuck his hatchet, his kiley or boomerang, [Pg 134] and a short heavy stick to throw at the smaller animals. In his hand he carries his throwing-stick, and several spears, headed in two or three different manners, so that they are equally suitable to war or the chase. In the southern parts, a warm kangaroo-skin cloak, thrown over his shoulders, completes the hunter’s outfit; but this is seldom or never seen northwards of 29° south latitude. These, however, are not quite all the riches of the barbarian, a portion of which is carried by his wife, or wives, as the case may be; and each of these has a long thick stick, with its point hardened in the fire, a child or two fixed upon their shoulders, and in their bags, in which also they keep sundry other articles, reckoned valuable and important for the comfort of savage life. For example; a flat stone to pound roots with, and earth to mix with the pounded roots;[65] quartz, for making spears and knives; stones, for hatchets; gum, for making and mending weapons and tools; kangaroo sinews for thread, and the shin-bones of the same animal for needles;—these and many similar articles, together with whatever roots, &c. they may have collected during the day, form the total of the burden of a female Australian; and this, together with the husband’s goods, forms the sum and substance of the wealth of an inhabitant of the southern land. In Wellesley’s Islands, on the north coast of New Holland, the catalogue of a native’s riches appears somewhat different, from his maritime position.[66] A raft, made of several straight branches of mangrove lashed together, broader at one end than at the other;—a bunch of grass at the broad end where the man sits to paddle,—a short net to catch [Pg 135] turtle, or probably a young shark,—and their spears and paddles seem to form the whole earthly riches of these rude fishermen.[67] But one essential thing must not be overlooked in the enumeration of a native’s possessions. Fire, of procuring which they have not very easy means, is usually carried about with them; and the women commonly have the charge of the lighted stick, in addition to their other cares.

It is no very easy matter for civilized man to realise the perfectly free and unencumbered way in which these natives roam from place to place, accordingly as seasons or provisions may serve, constantly carrying with them a home wherever they go; and (what is far more difficult in civilised society) leaving no cares of home behind them in the spot from which they may have recently removed. Certainly there must be something very delightful in this wild sort of life to every one, who has from his early infancy been accustomed to its pleasure and inured to its hardships, neither of which are by any means to be measured by the standard of the cold and changeable climate of England. The grand objects of the savage, in almost every part of the globe, are to baffle his human enemies, and to assert his dominion over the lower races of animals. For these purposes, the activity, secrecy, acuteness, and sagacity of man in an uncivilised state are almost incredible; nor could we have supposed, were not the truth shown in numberless instances, that the senses of human beings were capable of so great perfection, their bodies and limbs of such exertion and agility, as they gain by continual practice and early training in the forests of America or Australia. In these bodily excellencies, the inhabitants of the last-named continent might safely challenge the whole world [Pg 136] to surpass them. The natives once approached Major Mitchell’s camp by night; and though nine fire-sticks were seen in motion, no noise was heard. At length when the lights had approached within 150 yards, every one suddenly disappeared; the bearers preserving, all the while, the most perfect silence. It was then thought advisable to scare these noiseless visitors away, and a rocket was sent up, at which signal the English party rushed forward with a shout; and this had the desired effect. It is said that the natives regard, as an important matter, the falling of a star, which would account for their alarm at the rocket. On another occasion, when an English exploring party had discovered a few traces of natives near their place of encampment, an active search after them immediately took place; and it appeared that they had crept up within about one hundred yards of the camp, after which they had been disturbed, and had made off. Their mode of approach was by a stream of water, so as to conceal their trail; after which they had turned out of the stream up its right bank, and had carefully trod in one another’s footmarks, so as to conceal their number, although traces of six or seven different men could be perceived as far as the spot where they had been disturbed. From this point these children of the Bush had disappeared, as it were, by magic: not a twig was broken, not a stone was turned, nor could it be observed that the heavy drops of rain had been shaken from a single blade of grass. All efforts to hit upon the direction in which they had fled were to no purpose, except to put the explorers more constantly on the watch against beings who were often near them when they least dreamed of their presence. Human wisdom would enforce this lesson from such circumstances; but how often does heavenly wisdom lift up its voice to us in vain, teaching us by what is passing [Pg 137] around us to be upon our watch constantly over our own conduct, since we are never very far from the Almighty presence of God himself!

To the quick-sighted natives, the surface of the earth is, in fact, as legible as a newspaper, so accustomed are they to read in any traces left upon it the events of the day.[68] For once, Major Mitchell informs us, he was able to hide so that these people could not find; but then his buried treasure was only a collection of specimens of stones and minerals, of the use of which they could know nothing, and concerning which they were little likely to have any suspicions. The notes written by the traveller, and concealed in trees, seldom escaped notice;[69] nor did provisions, nor, in short, any article which they could either use or suspect pass unobserved.

In Western Australia, Captain Grey, having galloped after some wild cattle which he had met in his journey, found, upon wishing to ascertain the hour, that his watch had fallen from his pocket during the chase. He waited until the rest of his party came up, and then requested Kaiber, their native guide, to walk back and find the watch. This, Kaiber assured the traveller, was utterly impossible, nor could his assertion be gainsaid; nevertheless, the watch was too valuable to be given up without an effort for its recovery. “Well, Kaiber,” said the captain, “your people had told me you could see tracks well, but I find they are mistaken; you have but one eye,—something is the matter with the other,” (this was really the case)—“no young woman will have you, for if you cannot follow my tracks, and find a watch, how can [Pg 138] you kill game for her?” This speech had the desired effect, and the promise of a shilling heightened his diligence, so they went back together in search of the lost article. The ground that had been passed over was badly suited for the purpose of tracking, and the scrub was thick; nevertheless, to his delight and surprise, the captain had his watch restored to his pocket in less than half an hour.

Even in the simple arts and rude habits of the people of New Holland there are different degrees of advancement and progress to be observed. On the west coast, a few degrees to the north of the British settlement at Swan River, a great difference was noticed by Captain Grey in the arrangements of the native population. The country near the Hutt River is exceedingly beautiful and fertile, and it supports a very numerous population, comparatively with other districts. The exploring party found a native path or road, wider, more used, and altogether better than any before seen in that region. Along the side of this path were seen frequent wells, some of them ten or twelve feet in depth, which were made in a superior manner. Across the dry bed of a stream they then came upon a light fruitful soil, which served the inhabitants as a warran ground. Warran is a sort of yam like the sweet potato, and its root is a favourite article of food with some of the native tribes. For three miles and a half the travellers passed over a fertile tract of land full of the holes made by the natives in digging this root; indeed, so thick were they, that it was not easy to walk, and this tract extended east and west, as far as they could see. The district must have been inhabited a great many years, for more had been done in it to secure a provision from the ground by hard manual labour than it would have appeared to be in the power of uncivilised man to accomplish.

[Pg 139] It can be no subject of surprise that the various tribes of Australia, living in a wild country, and blessed with no clear nor adequate ideas of their Maker, should be exceedingly superstitious, as well as ignorant and simple. The strange aversion felt by some of them to a sort of muscle or oyster, found in fresh water, has already been mentioned; and the horror of the native population at the supposed effects of sorcery has also been detailed. Kaiber, Captain Grey’s guide, was bidden to gather a few of these muscles to make a meal for the party of hungry travellers in the Bush, but at first he would not move, declaring that if he touched these shell-fish, the Boyl-yas would be the death of him. Unable to bring any instance of mischief arising from them, he shrewdly answered, that this was because nobody had been “wooden-headed” enough to meddle with them, and that he intended to have nothing whatever to do with them. At last, with much difficulty he was prevailed to go, but whilst occupied in his task, he was heard most bitterly deploring his fate. It was his courage and strong sinews, he said, that had hitherto kept him from dying either of hunger or thirst, but what would these avail him against the power of sorcery? However, the muscles were brought, and Kaiber’s master made his meal upon them, but no persuasions could prevail upon him to partake of them. The same evening, the half-starved, half-clothed party of travellers were overtaken by a tremendous storm, which put out their fires, and they continued during the night in a most pitiable state from exposure to the cold and weather. All these misfortunes were set down by the sagacious native to the account of the muscles, nor was it till his master threatened him with a good beating, that Kaiber left off chattering to himself, while his mouth moved with the effect of the extreme cold:—

[Pg 140] “Oh, wherefore did he eat the muscles?
Now the Boyl-yas storms and thunder make;
Oh, wherefore would he eat the muscles?”

Among the superstitions of Australia, that feeling of awe which revolts from mentioning even the name of a deceased person is very remarkable; and the custom of silence upon this subject is so strictly enforced, that it renders inquiry respecting the family or ancestors of a native extremely difficult.[70] The only circumstance enabling the inquirer to overcome this hindrance is the fact, that, the longer a person has been dead, the less unwilling do they appear to name him. Thus did Captain Grey obtain some curious information respecting their pedigrees and family customs; for he began with endeavouring to discover only the oldest names on record, and then, as opportunity served, he would contrive to fill up the blanks, sometimes, when they were assembled round their fires at night, encouraging little disputes among them concerning their forefathers, by means of which he was able to gain much of the information he wanted.

One very singular notion prevailing among the native population of Australia, and proving that the belief in a spiritual world and in a future state, is not quite extinct even among them, is the idea which they entertain of white people being the souls of departed blacks. This supposition may serve to explain the reason of the disagreeable process complained of by Sturt, who says, that every new tribe examined them, pulling them about, measuring the hands and feet of the strangers with their own, counting their fingers, feeling their faces, and besmearing them all over with dirt and grease. A more powerful feeling than curiosity even may have [Pg 141] prompted this conduct, and they may have sought, impelled by superstition, to recognise in the foreigners their own kindred. But however that may have been, most travellers in Australia mention the peculiar idea alluded to. Captain Grey was once vehemently attacked by the caresses of an old, ugly, and dirty black woman, who recognised him as her son’s ghost, and was obliged to endure them. His real mother, the captain says, could scarcely have expressed more delight at his return, while his sable-coloured brothers and sister paid their respects to him, when the vehemence of a mother’s affection had somewhat subsided. He was convinced that the old woman really believed him to be her son, whose first thought, upon his return to earth, had been to revisit his old mother, and bring her a present!

The natives believe that the night-mare—a subject likely enough to give birth to superstition—is caused by some evil spirit, in order to get rid of which they jump up, seize a lighted brand from the fire, and, after whirling it round the head with a variety of imprecations, they throw the stick away in the direction where they suppose the evil spirit to be. They say the demon wants a light, and that when he gets it, he will go away. However, besides supplying this his need, they likewise take the precautions of changing their position, and of getting as near as they can into the middle of the group of their companions who are sleeping round the fire. If obliged to move away from the fire after dark, either to get water or for any other purpose, they carry a light with them, and set fire to dry bushes as they go along.

A profound respect, almost amounting to veneration, is paid in many districts of Australia to shining stones or pieces of crystal, which they call “Teyl.” These are carried in the girdles of men, especially of the sorcerers or corad-jes, and no woman is allowed to see the contents [Pg 142] of the round balls made of woollen cord from the fur of the opossum in which these crystals are enclosed. They are employed as charms in sickness, and are sometimes sent from tribe to tribe for hundreds of miles on the sea-coast or in the interior. One of these stones, which was examined by an Englishman, to whom it was shown privately by a black, was of a substance like quartz, about the size of a pigeon’s egg, and transparent, like white sugar-candy. The small particles of crystal which crumble off are swallowed in order to prevent illness. Many other instances of the like superstitious folly might very easily be gathered from the writings of those who have had the best opportunities of becoming acquainted with the manners of the Australian tribes.

The following is from the pen of the Rev. G. King, a missionary of the Society for Propagating the Gospel, who speaks thus of the natives near Fremantle, in Western Australia: “The native children are intelligent and apt to learn, but the advanced men are so far removed from civilisation, and so thoroughly confirmed in roving habits, that all the exertions made in their behalf have found them totally inaccessible; but we have no reason to conclude that they have not a vague idea of a future state. They are exceedingly superstitious; they never venture out of their huts from sunset till sunrise, for fear of encountering goblins and evil spirits. When any of their tribe dies they say, ‘He’ll soon jump up, white man, and come back again in big ship;’ and when a stranger arrives, they examine his countenance minutely, to trace the lineaments of some deceased friend; and when they think they have discovered him they sometimes request him to expose his breast, that they may see where the spear entered which caused the life to fly away so long.”[71] Altogether, experience bears witness, [Pg 143] in their case, of the same fact which is to be perceived in other parts of the globe, namely, that where there is little religion, there is often a great deal of superstition, and that those who do not “believe the truth,” almost always fall into the snares of falsehood, so as to “believe a lie.”

With all the disadvantages of having two races of men (one of which is thought inferior to the other) occupying the same territory; with the evils, likewise, unavoidably arising from the ease with which what is bad in Europeans may be learned and copied, and the difficulty of understanding or imitating what is good in us, the natives are placed in a very peculiar and unhappy situation. Their intercourse with the white men has hitherto, certainly, been productive of more injury, both moral and temporal, than benefit to them. Into the sad and disgusting details, affording a proof of this truth, which may be found in the evidence before the committees of the House of Commons upon the subject of transportation it will neither be suitable nor possible to enter. The fact is, indeed, acknowledged by men of all parties and opinions, while, by all right-minded men, it is deeply deplored.

Drunkenness and its attendant vices prevail to a fearful extent among the Europeans in New Holland, the lower orders especially; and what sins are more enticing than these to the ignorant, sensual savage? Tobacco and spirits, which the poor natives call “tumbledown,” are articles in constant request; and to purchase these of Europeans, the blacks will give almost anything they possess, even their wives.[72] Thus, a regular [Pg 144] traffic in what is evil is carried on, and almost all that the heathen people of Australia learn from the so-called Christians with whom they associate, is to practise, with tenfold aggravation, sins which God abhors, and will not allow to go unpunished. Like children that have been always brought up in a family of foul-tongued transgressors, the very first words of English which the natives learn are words of wickedness and blasphemy; the only introduction to the name of their God and Saviour is in order that they may insult that holy Name, and blaspheme the Divine Majesty. And these lessons are taught them, let us remember, by men calling themselves, and perhaps even thinking themselves, civilised, enlightened, and Christian persons;—by men, certainly, belonging to a nation, which justly lays claim to these honourable epithets! But enough has been stated on this painful subject to fill every thoughtful mind with humiliation and fear, when it contemplates the “much” that “has been given” to civilised nations, and recalls the fixed rule of truth and justice, that so much the “more” will be required of them. Nor is this a matter concerning the British inhabitants of the colonies alone, and with which the nation at large has little or no concern. For if we inquire, who corrupt the natives? the answer is, our vile and worthless population, the very scum of mankind, whom we have cast out as evil from the bosom of their native land. But a further question naturally offers itself. Who were, in many instances, the passive, if not the active, corrupters of these very corrupters themselves? Who have neglected to provide means for their christian instruction, and so let them grow up to be worse than heathens, until they could be [Pg 145] endured no longer in the land? What nation had within a single century more than doubled its population without having built or endowed a score of new churches? To whose neglect is it, partly, though not entirely, owing, that when heathens meet, in far distant countries, with our lower classes, or when their homes are visited in our great towns and cities, the very heathens are sometimes forced to yield the palm to them in wickedness and in sin? Such questions very nearly concern every Englishman, and they are, even now, only beginning to command the attention they deserve. High and low, rich and poor, clergy and laity, we are all alike implicated in those evils, which have arisen from national neglect and forgetfulness of God, and which are not unlikely to lead to national confusion and ruin. But we are still, thank God, blessed with a pure and apostolical Church in our native country, and this is a mighty instrument for good, if we will but support it, and render it as efficient as it ought to be. The children of our little sea-girt isle may almost be called the salt of the earth, so extensively is our naval and our moral power spread. If we can bring those children up in the right way, as dutiful children of God and faithful members of the Church of England, then, indeed, the blessings resulting from our efforts may make themselves felt in the very ends of the earth—in the solitary wilds of New Holland. But otherwise, if we continue to neglect our own people, and disgrace our profession of Christianity by encouraging tacitly the growth of heathenism around us, then we may judge by the moral and social evils which have already resulted from this course what the final consequences are likely to be. “If the salt have lost its savour wherewith shall it be salted: it is therefore good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men.” (Matt. v. 13.)

[Pg 146] With savages resembling those that dwell in the Australian forests, having no means of religious instruction among themselves, the only hope of producing an improvement in their moral and social character, must arise from their intercourse with christian people. But it must be repeated, unhappily, the great majority of christian people (especially in that country and among those classes where the native is most likely to have intercourse) are by no means adorning by their lives the faith and doctrine of that Master whose name they bear. Hence arises the deplorable condition of the natives, who are brought into contact chiefly with the lowest and worst of the Europeans, and who, beside many other hindrances, have the great stumbling-block of bad examples, and evil lives, constantly before them in their intercourse with the Christians. And, as though that were not enough, as though fresh obstacles to the conversion of these nations to God’s truth were needed and required, our holy religion is presented to them, not as it came from the hands of its Founder and his Apostles, inculcating “one Lord, one faith, and one baptism,” but such as man’s weakness and wickedness delight in representing it,—a strange jumble of various “denominations.” And this unworthy course has been followed by government itself. Without any pleas arising from conscience, or the principle of toleration to excuse this, the British government, in what little they have done for converting to Christianity some of the natives, have afforded their help to bodies of Christians bearing different names. Nor can it be said that the Church of England and Ireland was without any zealous ministers ready to undertake this most difficult task, trusting in God’s strength for help to accomplish it, at least in some degree. It is the confession of Dr. Lang himself, who is no friend to the Church of England, that the only [Pg 147] two missions[73] to the natives existing in 1837 were, as all ought to be, episcopalian; but one of these was stated, on the best authority, in 1841 to be “not in an encouraging state,”[74] although a third mission, to belong to the Presbyterians, was about to be commenced under the auspices of Government, among the natives in another station. It is fearlessly asserted that all missions to the heathen supported by Government ought to be subject to episcopal control; and the reasons for this may be briefly added. First, there is no tenderness of conscience, nor claim to toleration, which can stand in the way of an English government spreading among its native subjects the doctrine and discipline of the English Church; supposing these willing to become Christians at all, they cannot have a prior claim upon us to be brought up as dissenters from the Church. Secondly, since the Scotch discipline, though it prevails over a very small part of our population, is yet established by law in one portion of the island, it may put in (as it has done) its claim for help from Government; but, without entering into argument respecting this, might we not safely put it to every wise and rightly judging Presbyterian, whether it is not better to waive this claim of theirs, than to perplex the progress of Christianity, by offering to the heathen Australians, at the same time, and by the same temporal authority, the Bible, which speaks of one Church, and the choice between two churches? And lastly, whatever unhappy scruples and divisions among Christians have arisen respecting episcopacy, surely, if men had a truly christian spirit within them, they would quietly consent [Pg 148] to the instruction of the natives being placed in the hands of a Church which they cannot deny to be scriptural, and of a ministry, which for 1500 years from Christ’s birth no sect of men ever thought of denying to be the only apostolical ministry. It is indeed a strange spectacle which our Christianity must offer to the eyes of those that are really desirous of becoming converts. Either we “bite and devour one another,” or else we quietly set aside our Lord’s commands and prayers for our union, and contentedly agree to divide ourselves into as many parties, sects, or denominations, as we please; and having done so, we go and inoculate our heathen converts with our own love of separation. St. Paul was shocked at hearing of divisions in the Church of Corinth, but enlightened statesmen of the nineteenth century appear to be shocked at the idea of allowing Christianity to be offered to the heathens without its unhappy divisions! What, it may be asked with all reverence, would have been the success of the Apostles in evangelizing the Gentile world, if the gospel of Christ had been offered to the heathens of that age, under the same disadvantages with which men of the present age prefer to clog and impede their missionary efforts? Can we wonder, under these circumstances, at the slow progress of the gospel? Is it not rather wonderful that it should make any progress at all? If the world is reluctant to believe in Christ’s mission, would not His own words, (John xvii. 21,) suggest to us our miserable divisions as a chief cause of this?

[Pg 149]



Bennillong.—The first native who could be persuaded to live upon friendly terms of confidence with the British settlers in New South Wales was called Bennillong, and it was after no very long period, (within two years after the commencement of the colony,) that this intercourse with them began in the following manner:—In the spring of the second year the bodies of many of the natives were found in a lifeless or dying state upon different parts of the coast near Sydney, in consequence of the small-pox, which had been raging among them; and some of these having been brought up to the settlement, from motives of pity, the disease was taken by a native who had been captured shortly before, in hopes of opening through him a means of communication with [Pg 150] the others. The intended interpreter died, but the governor, Captain Philip, still retained in his care two native children, whose lives had been saved from the small-pox, and succeeded, within a few months, in securing two other natives, both of them well known to the children, through whom they were assured of perfect safety. However, instead of remaining until they could become familiar with the English manners and language, so as to carry on an intercourse between the colonists and their own countrymen, these natives both made their escape, one of them very soon after he had been taken; the other, Bennillong, in about six months afterwards, when he had been treated with every kindness and indulgence, and had grown somewhat accustomed to the society of the English settlers. Bennillong made his escape in May 1790, and in the September following he saw some of the colonists, by whom he sent a present to the governor, namely, a piece of the whale which was then lying on the beach, and around which the natives were assembled at a feast. Wishing to see him again, the governor went immediately to the spot, where he found a number of natives, and both Bennillong, and the other one, Cole-be, who had first escaped. All went on amicably at first, and some wearing apparel, belonging to the men in the boat, was given to the savages, while Bennillong obtained a promise from his excellency that more should be brought in two days, and likewise some hatchets. The governor and his friends were retiring by degrees to their boat, having imprudently allowed the natives very nearly to surround them, when Bennillong, after presenting several of his friends by name, pointed out one, whom Captain Philip stepped forward to meet, holding out both his hands to him. The savage, not understanding this civility, and possibly thinking that he was going to [Pg 151] seize him, threw his spear, and wounded the governor rather badly, but not mortally. Several other spears were thrown, and one musket fired, but no injury was done on either side. A few days after the accident Bennillong came with his wife and some companions very near to the settlement, and an interview between these and the British officers took place, in which it was agreed that the governor, as soon as he was able, should visit the same spot; Bennillong, meanwhile, assuring them that the man who had inflicted the wound had been severely beaten. On the tenth day his Excellency was so far recovered as to go to the place of the whale feast, together with several officers, all armed. Bennillong here repeated his assurances to the governor in person, that the offending party had been well beaten by him and Cole-be, and added that his throwing the spear was entirely the effect of his fears, and arose from an impulse of self-preservation. The day before this visit nearly 4000 fish had been taken by the colonists, and between 30 and 40 of these, weighing on an average about 5 lbs. each, were sent to Bennillong and his party on the north shore of Port Jackson. After this, tolerably friendly feelings continued, with some few interruptions, between the two nations, and Bennillong himself became very much attached to the governor, insomuch that he and another native resolved to accompany Captain Philip to England, when, towards the close of 1792, that excellent officer resigned his appointment, and embarked on board of the Atlantic transport-ship. The two Australians, fully bent upon the voyage, which they knew would be a very distant one, withstood resolutely, at the moment of their departure, the united distress of their wives and the dismal lamentations of their friends. No more was heard respecting these absentees until March 1794, when a message was brought from them in [Pg 152] England, requesting that their wives might be told to expect them in the course of that year, since, though well, they had not so completely lost their love of liberty and of their native country, to prefer London, with its pleasures and abundance, to the woods of New South Wales. It was not, however, until August, 1795, that Bennillong reached his native shores, having become accustomed to the manners of civilized life, by his long sojourn among the English people. He declared to his old acquaintance, with an air and tone that seemed to expect compliance, that he should no longer suffer them to fight and cut each other’s throats, but should introduce peace among them, and make them love one another. When they visited him at Government House, he wished they would contrive to be somewhat more cleanly in their persons and less coarse in their manners; and he was quite offended at his sister, who came in such haste to see him, that she positively forgot to bring anything else upon her back, except a little nephew! Bennillong had been an attentive observer of manners, which he was not unsuccessful in copying; his dress was an object of no small concern to him, and every one was of opinion that he had cast off all love for savage life.

Upon his arrival, Bennillong made inquiries after his wife,[75] but having heard no very good account of her conduct, he at length tempted her by some rose-coloured clothes and a gipsy bonnet to leave her new lover and return to her former husband. Bennillong’s presents, however pretty, were of very little practical use, and he was soon afterwards missing, having gone into the Bush to give his rival a good beating with fists after the English method. However, all his valour was lost upon his [Pg 153] wife, who deserted him,—an event which did not appear to give him great uneasiness, nor was it much to be wondered at, since she had been stolen by him. His absence from the governor’s house became now frequent, and when he went out, his clothes were usually left behind him, although he carefully resumed them on his return before he made his visit to the governor.

Within a year of his arrival from England this poor creature had a quarrel with his bosom-friend Cole-be, whose wife he had coveted, and from whom he received some severe wounds, together with the cutting inquiry, “Whether he meant that kind of conduct to be a specimen of English manners?” Thus Bennillong by degrees returned again to all the habits of savage life,—habits rendered rather worse than better by the experience he had gained respecting those of civilized men. He could not, however, keep on terms with his countrymen, and in 1796 he was obliged to call in the help of the governor’s soldiers to protect him from his own people. In the following year he was accused of having been the cause of a woman’s death, who had dreamed, when dying, that he had killed her; and by some it was said, that he actually had wounded her, so that it was demanded of him that he should undergo the ordeal of having some spears thrown at him. Although he denied the charge, yet it was not thought unlikely to be true, for he was now become so fond of drinking that he lost no opportunity of being intoxicated, and in that state was savage and violent enough to be capable of any mischief. On these occasions he amused himself with annoying and insulting all his acquaintance, who were afraid to punish him lest they should offend his white friends. But, however, his interest with the latter was fast declining, for in an affray between the natives, Bennillong chose to throw a spear among the soldiers, who [Pg 154] interfered to prevent further mischief; and one of these was dreadfully wounded by him. He was, notwithstanding, set at liberty, but being offended at the blame his behaviour had brought down upon him he would sometimes walk about armed, and declare that he did so for the purpose of spearing the governor whenever he might see him! After repeated affrays and quarrels with his wife’s lover and other natives, Bennillong, who had almost entirely quitted the comforts and quiet of civilized life, was dangerously wounded twice within two or three months. And although no more is related concerning him, and it is true that he had recently recovered of several very severe wounds, yet the probability is, that this weak and violent savage was not long afterwards cut off in the midst of life by an untimely and cruel death.

Barangaroo’s Funeral.—When Barangaroo Daringha, Bennillong’s elder wife, who was above fifty at the time of her death, was to have the funeral rites performed over her body, it was resolved by her husband that she should be burned, and the governor, the judge-advocate, and the surgeon of the colony were invited to the ceremony, besides whom there were present Bennillong’s relatives and a few others, mostly females. The spot for the pile was prepared by digging out the ground with a stick, to the depth of a few inches, and in this a heap of wood was raised to the height of about three feet, the ends and sides being formed of dry pieces, and the middle of it consisting of small twigs and branches, broken off for the purpose, and thrown together. Some grass was then spread over the pile, and the corpse covered with an old blanket was placed upon it, with the head towards the north. A basket with sundry articles belonging to the deceased was placed by her side, and some large logs being laid over the body by Bennillong, the pile was [Pg 155] lighted by one of the party, and was quickly all in a flame. Bennillong himself pointed out to his friends that the fire had reached the corpse, and the spot was left long before the pile was consumed, while the husband seemed more cheerful than had been expected, and spoke about finding a nurse among the white women for his infant and motherless child, Dil-boong.[76] The next day he invited the same party of Europeans to see him rake the ashes together, and none of his own people were present at this ceremony. He went before his companions in a sort of solemn silence, speaking to no one until he had paid the last duties to Barangaroo. In his hand was the spear, with which he meant to punish the car-rah-dy, or conjurer, for whom he had sent to attend her in her illness, but who either could not or would not obey the summons; and with the end of this spear he collected the funereal ashes into a heap. Over these he made, with a piece of bark, which served for a spade, a small mound of earth, on each side of which was placed a log of wood, and on the top the bark with which he had constructed it. All was done with the utmost care and neatness, and he seemed pleased, when, in reply to his inquiries, he was told by his friends that it was “good.” His behaviour throughout was solemn and manly, and he was perfectly silent during the whole of the ceremony, from which nothing was suffered to withdraw his attention. Nor did he seem desirous to get quickly through it, but paid these last rites of affection with a care that did honour to his feelings towards [Pg 156] one, for whom, notwithstanding his barbarism, he appeared to feel a sincere and strong attachment. When his melancholy task was ended, he stood for a few moments, with his hands folded over his bosom, and his eye fixed upon his labours, in the attitude of a man in profound thought. What were his thoughts then it is impossible certainly to declare, but they may have been more nearly akin to those of the mere civilized worldling than we might at first imagine. Death brings all men to an equality, and throws down every distinction but one. That distinction, indeed, so far from overthrowing, death renders more marked and conspicuous than before, clearly making manifest the difference between the believer and the unbeliever, “between him that serveth God, and him that serveth him not.”

The Spitting Tribe.—This was the name given by Major Mitchell to one of the most troublesome and ferocious of the native tribes, the place of whose habitation is on the lonely banks of the Darling, in the interior of Eastern Australia. When these disagreeable people were first met with, the man who was taking care of the sheep belonging to the exploring party held out a green bough; but the savage, who had before pointed a spear at the Englishman, replied to his emblem of peace by taking a bough, spitting upon it, and then thrusting it into the fire. Upon Major Mitchell hastening to the spot, similar expressions of ill will were manifested, evidently with the purpose of telling the strangers that they must go back. The native and a boy who was with him then threw up dust at their enemies, in a clever way, with their toes. Their feelings of hostility and defiance were too plainly expressed to be mistaken. Every effort at conciliation was useless, until, at length, the enraged native of the Bush retired slowly along the river bank, singing a war-song as he [Pg 157] went, and showing by his actions that he was going for his tribe. This happened in the morning; and during the afternoon of the same day, a party of the tribe made their appearance, holding out boughs indeed, but with a very different ceremonial from what had hitherto been observed.[77] Their violent and expressive gestures evidently were intended to drive back the intruders; and as these last could not but feel that they were not upon their own ground, they used every endeavour to conciliate the opposing party. The blacksmith belonging to the expedition was at work with his bellows and anvil near the river bank, and his labours seemed to awaken very much the curiosity of the natives, who, however, still refused to sit down, and continued to wave their branches in the faces of the white people, and to spit at them repeatedly, all which conduct was patiently endured in the hope of establishing afterwards a more agreeable and friendly intercourse. As a peace-offering, a tomahawk was presented to the leader, who, guessing immediately its use, turned round to a log, and chopped it. Two other stout fellows then rudely demanded the British officer’s pistols from his belt, whereupon he drew one, and, curious to see the effect, fired it at a tree. Immediately, as though they had previously suspected the intruders to be evil demons, and had at length a clear proof of it, they repeated their actions of defiance with tenfold fury, accompanying these with demoniac looks, hideous shouts, and a war-song,—crouching, jumping, spitting, springing with the spear, and throwing dust at them, as they slowly retired. In short, their hideous crouching postures, measured gestures, and low jumps, to the tune of a wild song, with [Pg 158] the fiendish glare of their countenances, at times all black, but now all eyes and teeth, seemed a fitter spectacle for Pandemonium than for the light of the bounteous sun. Thus they retired, dancing in a circle, and leaving the strangers in expectation of their return, and perhaps an attack in the morning. Whatever was the cause of their hostility, any further attempt to quiet them appeared out of the question, and it was too likely that ere long the English party would be forced to prove their superiority by arms.[78]

These troublesome visitors did not, however, make their appearance again before the following afternoon, when their curiosity and desire to get more presents brought them forth from their hiding-places in the woods. By degrees, they seemed to gain a little more confidence; but signs of defiance were still made; and as their fears diminished, their love of pilfering appeared to increase. The blacksmith was at work this day also; and they moved towards him, commencing at the same time a kind of chant, and slowly waving their green boughs. There was evidently some superstition in the ceremony, and one of the parties concerned in it was a coradje, or priest, who occasionally turned his back upon the Europeans, and touched his eye-brows, nose, and breast; then pointing his arm to the sky, and with his hand afterwards laid upon his breast, pouring forth a most solemn chant. The blacksmith, with whose honest occupation all this formed a strange contrast, had been ordered not to laugh nor stop working, which orders he obeyed as long as it was practicable. But, gradually, the black visitors gathered round the forge, and began to pilfer whatever they could [Pg 159] lay hand or foot upon, until the persecuted smith could no longer proceed with his work. The best part of this scene was, that they did not mind being observed by any one, except the blacksmith, supposing that they were robbing him only. His patience, however, being severely tried, he was at last tempted to give one of them a push, when a scene of chanting, spitting, and throwing dust commenced on the part of the thief, who was a stout fellow and carried a spear, which he seemed inclined to use. One or two articles were lost in spite of all efforts, but the explorers were glad to feel at peace with these people upon any terms, and both parties separated that night in a tolerably civil way.

On the following day, the travellers began to move onwards, but they did not leave behind (as they had hoped) their troublesome neighbours. The natives rushed forth from the woods in greater numbers than ever, being painted white, and many of them carrying spears, and shouting. A horse belonging to one of the party was so startled at this, that he galloped away, and was with some little difficulty recovered. The threats and defiance of the savages were again repeated; and when the party of explorers began to proceed onwards, the whole of the woods appeared to be in flames. Various annoyances and hindrances were experienced from these disagreeable inhabitants of the Bush, during the next ten or twelve days; after which an event happened, which, though sad and unfortunate in itself, was yet calculated to fill the minds of these impudent savages with some respect and awe for the power of the Europeans. Joseph Jones,—the man who attended the flock of sheep, which accompanied Major Mitchell’s party in their wanderings in the interior of New Holland,—had been sent for some water; and the tea-kettle he carried with him was the sole cause of the quarrel that ensued. [Pg 160] As he was getting up the river bank with the water, another man being stationed (as usual) at the top to protect him with his pistol, one of the natives, with others in his company, met him half way up, and with a smile took hold of the pot which he was carrying, together with the kettle. This was done under pretence of helping Jones, but, on reaching the top of the bank, the savage, in the same jocose way, held it fast, until a woman said something to him; and then, letting the pot go, he seized the kettle with his left hand, and at the same time struck Jones senseless to the ground by a violent blow on the forehead, inflicted with a club which he held in his right. On seeing this the other man, who was stationed by way of protection, fired, and wounded the savage, who swam across the river, and made off as well as he could; but the rest of the tribe were now advancing. The Englishman fired twice at them, and the second time, unfortunately, he shot the woman already mentioned, who, with her child fastened to her back, slid down the bank, and lay, apparently dying, in the water. At this moment three other Englishmen arrived, who had been sent off from the camp when the noise of fire-arms was heard, and one man among the natives was shot in the breast, but little more mischief was done, for the tribe speedily dispersed, having dragged away the dead body of the woman; while Joseph Jones returned, wounded and bleeding, to the camp of the explorers. When night arrived, “a death-like silence,” says Major Mitchell, “prevailed along the banks of the river; no far-heard voices of natives at their fires broke, as before, the stillness of the night, while a painful sympathy for the child bereft of its parent, and anticipations of the probable consequences to us, cast a melancholy gloom over the scene. The waning moon at length arose, and [Pg 161] I was anxiously occupied with the observations, which were most important at this point of my journey, when a mournful song, strongly expressive of the wailing of women, came from beyond the Darling, on the fitful breeze which still blew from the north-west.” The feelings of a brave but humane British officer, surrounded by difficulties, with very few except convicts under his command, annoyed by natives, yet anxious not to injure them, and just about to turn back from the journey of discovery which he had hitherto successfully pursued; the feelings of Major Mitchell under the circumstances so touchingly described by him can scarcely be imagined. The thoughts of a veteran who had served his country during many long years of war and strife, must have wandered back to past scenes and by-gone days, while he stood in that solitary wilderness; and when the wild shrill cry of savage grief came floating upon his ears, he must have felt most deeply those strange sensations which we experience

“When, musing o’er companions gone,
We doubly feel ourselves alone.”

These savages of the Darling have the power of doing with their toes many things most surprising to men who wear shoes, and have never been accustomed from infancy to climb trees after the Australian fashion. With their toes they gather the fresh-water muscles from the muddy bottoms of rivers or lakes, and these are one of their principal articles of food in the neighbourhood of the Darling. In the attempts of the Spitting Tribe to steal from the English party, their feet were much employed, and they would tread softly on any article, seize it with the toes, pass it up the back, or between the arm and side, and so conceal it in the arm-pit, or between the beard and throat. The hoary old priest of the Spitting Tribe, while intent upon tricks of this [Pg 162] kind, chanted an extraordinary hymn to some deity or devil; the act was evidently superstitious and connected with no good principle. Arrangements were probably being made, and some of these strange ceremonies observed by them, for the purpose of destroying the strangers, intruders they might be called. “And no man,” observes Major Mitchell, “can witness the quickness and intelligence of the aborigines, as displayed in their instant comprehension of our numerous appliances, without feelings of sympathy. They cannot be so obtuse, as not to anticipate in the advance of such a powerful race as ours, the extirpation of their own, in a country which barely affords to them the means of subsistence.” Yet, melancholy though the reflection may appear, it is but too true, that scarcely any hope of improving and civilizing these barbarous people can be at present reasonably indulged. What a picture does the same humane traveller already quoted draw of the tribes about the lower part of the Darling, of whose character the Spitting Tribe may serve for a specimen. “It seldom happened,” he says, “that I was particularly engaged with a map, a drawing, or a calculation, but I was interrupted by them or respecting them. Our gifts seemed only to awaken on their part a desire to destroy us, and to take all we had. While sitting in the dust with them, according to their custom, often have they examined my cap, evidently with no other view than to ascertain whether it would resist the blow of a waddy, or short stick. Then they would feel the thickness of my dress, and whisper together, their eyes occasionally glancing at their spears and clubs. The expression of their countenances was sometimes so hideous, that, after such interviews, I have found comfort in contemplating the honest faces of the horses and sheep; and even in the scowl of ‘the patient ox,’ [Pg 163] I have imagined an expression of dignity, when he may have pricked up his ears, and turned his horns towards these wild specimens of the ‘lords of the creation.’ Travellers in Australian deserts will find that such savages cannot remain at rest when near, but are ever anxious to strip them by all means in their power of every thing. It was not until we proceeded as conquerors, that we knew any thing like tranquillity on the Darling; and I am now of opinion, that to discourage at once the approach of such natives, would tend more to the safety of an exploring party than presenting them with gifts.”

Mulligo’s Death.—The following curious account of the death of a certain native of Western Australia is given by Captain Grey. Mulligo, for such was the name of the unfortunate man, had severely hurt his spine by a fall from a tree, and having lost the use of his lower limbs, he gradually wasted away, until, in about two months’ time, he became a perfect skeleton, and was evidently dying. Soon after day-break, Captain Grey came to the hut of Mulligo, and found him alive indeed, but breathing so slightly that it was scarcely to be perceived. His head rested on his aged mother’s knees, who leaned over him in tears, while other women were seated around, their heads all verging to a common centre, over the wasted frame of the dying man; they were crying bitterly, and scratching their cheeks, foreheads, and noses, with their nails, until the blood trickled slowly from the wounds. The men, meanwhile, were preparing their spears for the fight, which was expected to take place respecting the two wives of Mulligo, the title of his heir being disputed. Other native females soon began to arrive in small parties, each one carrying her long stick in her hand, and each party marching slowly after the eldest woman belonging [Pg 164] to it. When they came within about thirty or forty yards of the hut of the dying man, they raised the most piteous cries, and hurrying their pace, moved rapidly to the place where the other women were seated, recalling to the mind of one acquainted with the Bible, that custom alluded to by Jeremiah (chap. ix. 17, 18). As they came up to the bark hut, many of them struck it violently with their sticks, producing by the blow a dull hollow sound, and then, after joining the assembled circle, chanting mournfully the usual songs on these occasions. Then, suddenly, one of the women in a frenzy would start up, and standing in front of the hut, while she waved her stick violently in the air, would chant forth curses against the sorcerers, who, as she believed, had been the cause of Mulligo’s sufferings. It was strange to watch the effect of these wild chants upon the savage countenances of the men; one while they sat in mournful silence; again they grasped firmly and quivered their spears; and by and by a general “Ee-Ee,” pronounced in their throat, with the lips closed, burst forth in token of approbation at some affecting part of the speech.

Time wore on; each withered beldame by turns addressed the party, while the poor creature, whose dying moments were thus disturbed, was gradually sinking. At last he ceased to live, and at that moment an old woman started up, and with grief and rage, poured forth her curses upon the Boyl-yas, and tore the hut in which Mulligo had been lying to pieces, saying, “This is now no good.” Her proceedings excited the feelings of the men, and at last Moon-dee, the most violent of them, was on the point of spearing one of the wives of the deceased, but he was withheld by some of the women. The cause of Moon-dee’s anger was afterwards thus explained. About two or three [Pg 165] months before this time, a cloak belonging to Mulligo’s brother had been stolen, and, it was supposed, given to one of the sorcerers, who gained thereby some mysterious power over either of the two brothers, which he had exercised on Mulligo, when he caused him to fall and injure his back. Another sorcerer was called in, who applied fire to the injured part, but without any success; and since the poor fellow was daily wasting away, it was imagined that the unfriendly sorcerers came every night to feast upon the invalid during his hours of sleep. But Moon-dee chose to fancy that if his wife had been more watchful, the Boyl-yas might have been detected, and therefore he intended to spear her in the leg, in order to punish her supposed neglect. This outrage was, however, prevented; and the two trembling partners of the deceased, neither of whom was above fifteen years old, fled into Perth, to find among Europeans a refuge from the violence of their own countrymen. After vowing vengeance against a great many of the sorcerers, though they had no proof whatever against any of these in particular, the men followed the widows to Perth, to see that no one stole them away; and a few only were left with the women to superintend the funeral.

In about an hour’s time, the body was removed to a distance of nearly half a mile from the spot where the death had taken place, and the women were still leaning over it, uttering the words, yang, yang, yang, and occasionally chanting a few sentences. The grave was then dug, as usual, due east and west, with no better instruments than sticks and hands; but afterwards, when many Europeans had assembled at the spot, to the great annoyance of the natives, these last occasionally employed a spade, although, from the extreme narrowness of the grave, it was no easy matter to make use of [Pg 166] this implement. During the digging an insect had been thrown up, whose motions were watched with the deepest interest, and since the animal crawled off in the direction of Guildford, this was thought an additional proof of the guilt of the sorcerers of that place, who had before been suspected, because the cloak had been stolen by a man living near this settlement.

When the grave was completed, they set fire to some dried leaves and twigs which they threw in, and old Weeban, the friendly sorcerer, knelt at the foot of the grave, with his back to the east, and his head bowed down to the earth in a posture of the deepest attention; his office being a very important one, namely, to discover in what direction the hostile Boyl-yas would take their flight, when drawn out of the earth by the heat. The fire roared for some time in the grave; and the hollow sound of the flames arising from the narrow opening evidently aroused the superstitious fears of the bystanders, until the old conjuror signified by his actions that the authors of the mischief were gone off in the direction of Guildford. The relatives of the deceased appeared satisfied at knowing upon whom to avenge the foul witchcraft, and at being assured of the cause of their friend’s death. The body of Mulligo was then taken from the females, his mother having, for the last time, fervently kissed its cold lips; and the corpse was lowered into the grave, and placed upon a bed of leaves, which had been laid there directly the fire was extinguished; the face being, according to custom, turned towards the east. The women continued their mournful songs, and the grave was filled up with small green boughs and earth, until the tomb was completed, presenting the appearance, owing to the heaps placed at the head and foot, of three graves nearly alike in size and form, lying in a due east and west direction. On [Pg 167] the same evening, the old mother was found sitting at the place where her son’s remains were interred, and crying bitterly. She had caught the Boyl-yas, she said, in the very act of sitting round Mulligo’s grave, for the purpose of preying upon his miserable body, and she pointed out their tracks at the spot from which they sprung into the air, in the direction of Guildford, but European eyes were not keen enough to detect these mysterious traces of mischief.

The Corrobory.—The natives have a dance, called corrobory, of a very original character, and almost universally prevalent on the shores of Australia. The dance always takes place at night; and not only in this respect, but likewise in the preparation and excitement occasioned by it, a resemblance may be traced between the corrobory and the dances of more civilized nations. The curious evolutions and figures performed in these assemblies of savages, are regulated by time beaten upon stretched skins or drums,—the only musical instrument that is commonly seen among them; and while the light of blazing boughs is thrown upon the scene of festivity, the rude music is accompanied by a song. Darkness seems essential to the effect of the whole; and the painted figures coming forward from the obscurity of the background, while the singers and beaters of time are invisible, have a highly theatrical effect. Each dance appears most tastefully progressive; the movement being first slow, and introduced by two persons, displaying graceful motions, both of arms and legs; others, one by one, join in, each gradually warming into the truly savage attitude of the “corrobory” jump; the legs then stride to the utmost, the head is turned over one shoulder, the eyes glare, and are fixed with savage energy all in one direction; the arms also are raised, and inclined towards the head, the hands usually grasping [Pg 168] some warlike weapons. The jump now keeps time with each beat; the dancers at every movement taking six inches to one side, all being in a connected line, led by the first, which line, however, is sometimes doubled or tripled, according to numbers; and thus great effect is added; for when the front line jumps to the left, the second jumps to the right; the third to the left again, and so on, until the action gains due intensity, when all suddenly stop at the same moment. The excitement which this dance produces in the savage is very remarkable. However listless the individual may be, lying perhaps, as usual, half asleep, set him to this, and he is fired with sudden energy, every nerve is strung to such a degree, that he is hardly to be known as the same person, while the corrobory continues.

Peerat and his Wives.—A garden belonging to a soldier at King George’s Sound had been robbed by the natives of nearly a hundred weight of potatoes. This was the first act of theft that had been committed during the five months of Governor Grey’s residence there, although there had often been as many as two hundred natives in the settlement, who had no means of subsistence beyond the natural productions of the country, and what little they derived from being occasionally employed by the colonists. And even in this theft of the potatoes, they had purposely left the large roots, and had taken away only the smaller ones, in the hope that by so doing they would lessen the crime. However, the governor resolved to act promptly and vigorously upon this first offence, and to avoid the common fault of Europeans, in confounding the guilty and the innocent together. By the help of an intelligent native, the tracks of three persons were found in the garden that had been robbed, and the footsteps were pronounced to be those of Peerat’s two wives, and his son Dal-bean. These had [Pg 169] all walked off into the Bush, meaning, probably, to avoid suspicion, and to wait till the affair had passed quietly over. The governor determined to pursue them, but this required great secrecy, for Australians are no easy creatures to catch hold of; and it was not meant to adopt the popular system of shooting them when they ran away. Accompanied by four natives only, the governor pressed forward, following Peerat’s tracks for about nine miles in a direction where the Bush had been set on fire by the natives, until he met with some of these, who were solemnly informed of the theft and of the names of the criminals, whom he had come to take prisoners; if these were given up, it was promised that they should undergo only the regular punishment for petty robbery; otherwise, the usual allowance of flour, which was issued to all the natives every two months, was to be stopped; and it was threatened that a party of soldiers should be brought out to fire upon Peerat and his party wherever they might be found. These threats, uttered in a very decided tone, gave occasion to a consultation among the natives, by whom it was unanimously agreed:—

Imprimis. That stealing potatoes was a very heinous offence, more particularly in women.

Secondly. That women were notorious thieves, and altogether worse characters than men.

Thirdly. That beating women was an every day occurrence.

Fourthly. That losing flour was a great bore; and,

Fifthly. Upon these considerations, Peerat, his wives, and son, were to be given up.

These resolutions having been passed, the whole assembly came to the governor to inquire whether he told the truth, when he said that he was not personally angry with Peerat’s family, and that they should not be [Pg 170] killed; and being satisfied upon this point, they all proceeded together in search of the offending parties.

Peerat waited quietly to receive them, indeed, he was not aware of the cause of his being honoured by a visit from the governor; when, however, he heard of this, he abused his wives, and promised to thrash them soundly, but absolutely refused to give either them or his son up as prisoners. The first man who might lay a finger upon him was threatened with a spear through the heart, and the governor was obliged to proclaim the sacredness of his own person, and to cock both barrels of his gun, with an assurance that he would shoot poor Peerat in case of resistance. All savage strife is noisy in the extreme; even the strife of civilized men in their public meetings and vestries is often tolerably boisterous,—and a great deal of running and leaping about, and quivering of spears accompanies the former kind of altercation. While things were in this confusion the governor went alone to Peerat’s fire, and seized his little boy, Dal-bean, but could see nothing of the wives, who were, most likely, busy digging roots for the family. The boy was told that if he moved he would be shot, a threat which kept him very quiet; but Peerat soon found out what had happened, and came running after them. These natives are always greatly attached to their children, and strong proofs of this were now given by the father, who first declared that the boy had been with him, and that it was the mother only that had stolen, producing about a dozen witnesses to prove this to be the truth. However, the reply to this was by asking the question, How came the child’s footmarks in the garden? It was answered that Peerat’s second wife had, indeed, been there, and that she was just the size of the boy; but that plea would not hold good, since her footsteps had been observed likewise.

[Pg 171] The father now urged the tender years of the lad, and that he was under the influence of his mother; and then fairly wept upon his child’s neck, who was calling upon his parent and the other natives by name to save him. The governor’s own feelings and those of his followers urged him to let the little fellow go, but he wisely resolved to act with determination, and held fast by the prisoner. Spears were now given to Peerat—a sign of his quarrel being espoused by those who gave them, and that he was expected to use them; and, matters having taken a serious turn, the governor hastened away with his prisoner and two of his native companions, but not before he had explained to the others the advantage of an impartial inquiry and proper punishment of offenders, in preference to their being exposed to the indiscriminating fire of Europeans. Peerat was then threatened with a shot if he did not take himself off, and bring his wives into the settlement to be punished; and the matter ended, for the present, in the lodgment of the youthful Dal-bean safe in the British gaol. In a day or two afterwards, during which no tidings had been heard of Peerat and his wives, the little Dal-bean made an attempt to break out of his place of confinement, by taking up a loose stone from the floor, with which he had battered a hole in the door. This, however, he stoutly denied, asserting that, whilst he was asleep, sorcerers from the north, having a spite against him, had entered through some air-holes in the wall and done this; and, on his persisting in the story, he was told that, in future, he would be well whipped for neglect, if he did not give the alarm when these strange visitors came. Meanwhile, the governor was half inclined to whip him for telling a story, but he satisfied himself with giving him a lecture upon the crime of lying, to which the cunning little rogue replied, by arguing upon the general [Pg 172] usefulness and prevalence of that vice in the world, entirely setting aside its evil nature and sinfulness.

The very same day Peerat made his appearance with a very pitiful tale. He had two wives, and to govern them both was no easy task, but, although they had been soundly beaten, they could not be induced to come into the settlement, until he had threatened to spear them. This threat had, at last, succeeded, and in recompense for his sufferings from the loss of his son, and from the obstinacy and bad temper of his wives, he begged to be allowed to beat the latter himself. They were ordered to the spot where the robbery was committed, and there the native women soon appeared, dreadfully cut and mangled from the beating they had already received. One was a nice looking girl, about fourteen, but an incorrigible thief. Peerat was going to hit her a tremendous blow upon the head, which must have laid it open. She stood with her back to her husband, trembling and crying bitterly. The governor caught Peerat’s arm, picked up a little switch from the ground, and told him to beat her on the shoulders with that, instead of with his meero. Two slight blows, or rather taps, were given her, in order to know where it was that the governor meant her to be struck, but the poor girl cried so bitterly from fear, that she was pardoned, and so likewise was the other woman, who had already been severely beaten, and had at that moment a little child sitting upon her shoulder, and crying piteously at the sight of its mother’s tears. Before the crowd dispersed a lecture was given them, and they were warned not to presume upon the governor’s clemency in the present instance.

In the afternoon, the governor, attended by Peerat, his wives, and a crowd of natives, walked up to the gaol to release little Dal-bean. The father and the governor alone entered the prison, and when the gaoler was told [Pg 173] to hand Peerat the whip, the latter took it, and said, “Yes, yes, I will strike him; let not another beat him.” The door of the cell was then opened, and the little boy was led out: his father ran up to him, caught him in his arms, and began kissing him; having done this, he told him he was going to beat him. The little fellow did not answer a word, but standing as firm and erect as possible, presented his back to him. The father gave him one blow, and it was ended—justice was satisfied. The criminals had surrendered to salutary laws, of which they had but a vague and undefined knowledge; it was their first offence; the nature of the laws they had broken was explained to them; they were warned to be careful in their future conduct, and they were set free. Little Dal-bean, directly they got outside the gaol, walked up to the governor, took his hand, and squeezed it; then turning to his mother, he just looked at her; she cried, but did not dare to kiss him, or to show any other mark of emotion. The whole party then moved off, after showering many thanks upon the governor, and saying, “What a good fellow, what a good fellow,” or, to give a literal translation, “one good man, one good man!”

Woga’s Captivity.—In Caledon Bay, upon the northern coast of New Holland, the natives had behaved very well to the party under Captain Flinders, which had landed on their shores, until one of those who had been most kindly treated ran away with an axe, and from the thickness of the forest could not be overtaken. It was indeed here, as in other parts of Australia, no easy matter to hinder the people from stealing whatever came within their reach; and in order to check this, two men were seized by command of Captain Flinders, and after a little time one of these was set free, upon his promising by signs to restore the axe, and being made to understand that the other would be kept as a pledge [Pg 174] of this engagement being fulfilled. Much confusion was noticed among the natives, and preparations were made for firing upon them in case of necessity, but after one of the prisoners had been released, they appeared to have less anxiety, and still no axe was forthcoming. The prisoner, a youth of about fourteen, whose name was Woga, was taken in a boat to a place much frequented by the savages, many of whom were seen behind the bushes, endeavouring to entice a native who accompanied the expedition on shore, no doubt intending to seize him by way of retaliation. The restoration of the axe was demanded, and the prisoner seemed to use all his powers to enforce it, but the constant answer was that the thief, Ye-han-ge-ree, had been beaten and was gone away; and since no axe was likely to be brought, Woga was carried on board the ship, after a great deal of crying, entreating, threatening, and struggling on his part. He there ate heartily, laughed, sometimes cried, and noticed every thing; frequently expressing admiration at what he saw, and especially at the sheep, hogs, and cats. The next morning he was taken ashore, and attempted to make a spring out of the boat, so that it was needful to bind him, notwithstanding his struggles; but after a while he became quiet, and enjoyed his meal of rice and fish, although he was made fast to a tree. A sort of attack was then made by the other natives upon a party of gentlemen who had landed to botanize, and who had been almost surrounded by the savages; but, however, a couple of shots dispersed their enemies, and two of the Australians were supposed to have been wounded. Since the prisoner was thus a cause of mischief to his fellow-countrymen, and his being carried off would be an act of injustice, as well as injurious to future visitors of that coast, at length Captain Flinders, who would [Pg 175] otherwise willingly have taken Woga with him, resolved to release him. On that day, the third of his captivity, Woga appeared to be a little melancholy in his bondage, but upon the whole had not fared amiss, having been eating the greater part of the morning and afternoon. He begged hard to be released; promising, with tears in his eyes, to bring back the axe; and after having received some clothing and presents he was suffered to depart. As far as two hundred yards he walked away leisurely; but then, looking first behind him, took to his heels with all his might, leaving his British friends very reasonably doubtful of the fulfilment of his pathetic promises!

Bal-loo-der-ry and the Convicts.—In 1791, when the town of Paramatta, about fifteen miles from Sydney, was first settled, the natives soon began to bring in their fish and barter it for bread or salted meat; and this proving a great convenience to the settlers, the traffic was very much encouraged by them. There were, however, some among the convicts so unthinking or so depraved, as wantonly to destroy a canoe belonging to a fine young man, a native, who had left it at a little distance from the settlement, as he thought, out of the way of observation, while he went with some fish he had to sell. His rage at finding his canoe destroyed was very great: he threatened to take his revenge, and in his own way, upon all white people. Three of the offenders, however, having been seen and described, were taken and punished, and so were the remainder of them not very long afterwards. The instant effect of this outrage was, that the natives discontinued the bringing up of fish; and Bal-loo-der-ry, whose canoe had been destroyed, although he had been taught to believe[79] that one of the [Pg 176] six convicts had been hanged for the offence, meeting a few days afterwards with an European who had strayed to some distance from Paramatta, he wounded him in two places with a spear. This act of Bal-loo-der-ry was followed by the governor’s strictly forbidding him to appear again in any of the settlements; and the other natives, his friends, being alarmed, Paramatta was seldom visited by any of them, and all commerce with them was (for the time) at an end. However, in about two months afterwards, before the person wounded by him had recovered, Bal-loo-der-ry ventured into the town with some of his friends, and one or two armed parties were sent to seize him. A spear having been thrown, it was said, by him, two muskets were fired, by which one of his companions was wounded in the leg, but Bal-loo-der-ry was not taken. On the following day it was ordered that he was to be seized whenever an opportunity should offer, and that any native attempting to throw a spear in his defence, (since they well knew why he was denounced,) was, if possible, to be prevented from escaping. Those who knew this savage regretted that it had been necessary to treat him thus harshly, for among his countrymen they had never seen a finer young man. We cannot finish this melancholy history with a more true reflection than that of Lieutenant Collins: "How much greater claim to the appellation of savages had the wretches (the convicts) who were the cause of this, than the natives who were termed so!"

Native Hospitality and Philosophy.—After a most distressing journey in Western Australia, Captain Grey and his party fell in with a number of natives, at no great distance from the settlement of Perth. So great had been the trials of the explorers that a disinclination to move pervaded the whole party, and their courageous leader had felt much the same desire to sink into the [Pg 177] sleep of death, that one feels to take a second slumber in the morning after great fatigue. However they had aroused themselves, and had managed to walk about eight miles at the slow rate of a mile and a quarter an hour, when they came suddenly upon the tracks of the natives. Kaiber, their guide, announced that they were wild natives; and, after a second survey, he declared that they had “great bush fury” on them, i.e. were subject to wild untutored rage. It was proposed, however, to fire a gun as a signal, for since the distance from Perth was thought to be very trifling, it was hoped that these natives would understand its meaning. Kaiber threatened to run away, but the coward was, in fact, afraid to move five yards from the party, so, sitting down on his haunches under cover, he kept muttering to himself various terms of Australian scorn,—“The swan—the big-head—the stone forehead!”—while the Captain advanced towards the strangers, who no sooner heard the gun, and saw him approaching, than they came running to him. Presently, Kaiber accosted one of them by name, and at the sound of this name, Imbat, the strongest feeling was awakened; it was well known to the travellers, and they knew that their lives were safe, and the end of their journey at hand. Captain Grey was in good favour with most of the natives of those parts, to whom he had frequently made presents of flour, and hence his common appellation among them was “Wokeley brudder,” or Oakley’s brother, that being the name of a baker residing in Perth.

The women were soon called up, bark-baskets of frogs opened for the exhausted travellers, by-yu nuts roasted, and, for a special delicacy, the Captain obtained a small fresh-water tortoise. He was bidden to sleep while Imbat cooked, and though the delay which the willing native’s skill in cookery occasioned was a little trying [Pg 178] to the patience of hungry men, yet it was not very long before they were all regaling on the welcome feast. In reply to the questions of the Englishmen, the natives all told them that they would see Perth the next morning, “while the sun was still small;” and upon finding that there was a kangaroo hunter with a hut, and a supply of provisions only seven miles off, Imbat and the Captain went thither together, to prepare for the comfortable reception of the rest of the party. However, they found the hut deserted, its owner having returned to Perth. A fire was lighted, notwithstanding, and the Englishman laid down to rest his weary limbs, while the Australian again began to cook, and in his chattering mood to philosophize also. “What for do you, who have plenty to eat, and much money, walk so far away in the Bush?” was his first inquiry. The Captain, fatigued and rather out of humour, made no reply. “You are thin,” continued the philosopher, “your shanks are long, your belly is small,—you had plenty to eat at home, why did you not stop there?” “Imbat, you comprehend nothing,—you know nothing,” was the traveller’s brief reply. “I know nothing!” answered the wise man of the woods, “I know how to keep myself fat; the young women look at me and say, Imbat is very handsome, he is fat;—they will look at you and say, He not good,—long legs;—what do you know? where is your fat? what for do you know so much, if you can’t keep fat? I know how to stay at home, and not walk too far in the Bush: where is your fat?” “You know how to talk, long tongue,” answered the Captain;—“And I know how to make you fat!” rejoined Imbat, forgetting his anger, and bursting into a roar of laughter, as he began stuffing his guest with frogs, by-yu nuts, &c. The rest of the party arrived just before nightfall, and, searching the hut, they found a paper of tea, and an old tin pot, in which [Pg 179] they prepared the welcome beverage, after which, having had a good supper, they all laid down to sleep; and in the silence of the night, fervent thanks went up from that lonely hut in the wilderness to the Maker of all things, whose merciful guidance had again brought them so near “the haven where they would be.”

The Widow and her Child.—During the journey of Major Mitchell’s party, exploring the course of the river Lachlan down to its junction with the Murray, they had to cross several branches of the former stream, which gave them some trouble from the steepness of their banks, until they at length reached the main channel of the Lachlan, which stream, together with all its tributaries, was at that time perfectly dry. The welcome news was then heard that some ponds of water were near, but at the same time it was reported that natives were there; so the party approached cautiously, and having found two pools encamped beside them. The black people had all fled, except one child, about seven or eight years old, quite blind, who sat near a fire, and a poor little girl still younger, who, notwithstanding the strange appearance of the new visitors, and the terror exhibited in the flight of her own people, still lingered about the bushes, and at length took her seat beside the blind boy. A large supply of the balyan root lay near them, and a dog so lean that he was scarcely able to stand, drew his feeble body close up beside the two children, as though desirous of defending them. Afterwards an old man came up to the fire, and he directed the travellers to some of the water-holes in their proposed route, but could not be prevailed upon to become their guide. However, he persuaded a widow, with the little girl just mentioned, who might be about four years old, to accompany the party and act as guide.

[Pg 180] The strangers soon began to learn the value of their new guide, Turàndurey; for within a fortnight they met with a number of the natives, approaching in a silent and submissive manner, each having a green bough twined round his waist or in his hand; and a parley was opened with them by means of the widow, as she was sitting on the opposite bank of a river to that on which they made their appearance. Some form or ceremony, it seems, always prevents the male natives, when strangers to each other, from speaking at first sight; no such restraint, however, is placed upon their wives or gins, as they are called. These, with the privilege of their sex, are ever ready to speak; and the strangers as readily replied to Turàndurey; so conversation was thus held across the river. This female guide, who had before scarcely ventured to look up, now stood boldly forward to address the strange tribe; and when her countenance was lighted up, displaying fine teeth, and great earnestness of manner, it was gratifying to the travellers to see what spirit their guide possessed. Being invited to swim over the stream, the children of the woods complied but on condition that the wild animals (the sheep and horses) should be driven away,—a stipulation at which the widow and other natives in the British party laughed heartily; nor was their laughter stopped when they watched the awkward attempts of these heroes to show off before the females, while they were unable entirely to conceal their fears of the silly sheep!

It was no very long time afterwards that an unfortunate accident happened to the little native child, Ballandella, who fell from a cart, and one of the wheels passing over, broke her thigh. On riding up to the spot, Major Mitchell found the widow, her mother, in great distress, [Pg 181] lying in the dust, with her head under the limb of her unfortunate child. The doctor was ordered to set it immediately; but, from its being broken very near the socket, it was found difficult to bandage the limb so as to keep the bone in its place. Every possible care was taken of the child, and she bore the pain with admirable patience, though only four years old; while she gave a curious proof of her good sense at so early an age, by calling for “Majy” (the Major), as soon as she had met with the accident. Little Ballandella did very well, and was, after about two months’ time, fast recovering from her misfortune, when the widow, having been travelling all that time, and being now far distant from her own country, felt inclined to return; and was prepared to make nothing of swimming the broad waters of the Murray, the largest known river in New Holland, pushing the child before her floating upon a piece of bark, nor of any other difficulties which might oppose her in her journey homewards. No objections were offered to the woman’s departure, who appeared extremely attached to her daughter, and half afraid of being deprived of her. Indeed, it was a tempting opportunity of trying an experiment of the effect of education upon one of that race; for the little savage, who at first would prefer a snake or lizard to a piece of bread, had become so far civilised at length, as to prefer bread; and it began to cry bitterly on leaving its European friends. However, its absence from them was not to be a long one; for, on the third day, the widow returned again, carrying her child on her back, after the Australian fashion. She had seen, she stated, another tribe on the opposite side of the river, and they had inquired very angrily, who made the fires upon her side; after which, receiving no reply, (for she was afraid and had hid herself,) they danced a corrobory in a furious style, during which she and the child crept away, and had passed two nights without [Pg 182] fire and in the rain.[80] The mother and her daughter received a kindly welcome, and were as well treated as before, notwithstanding the petty jealousy of some other natives, who, it was thought, had persuaded Turàndurey to go, hoping thus to get a greater share of food for themselves. After this, the widow and Ballandella continued with the exploring party during almost the whole of the remainder of their expedition, making themselves serviceable in various ways. Sometimes they would give notice of the approach of the Major, upon his return from an excursion, long before he had reached the camp; their quick ears seemed sensible of the sound of horses’ feet at an astonishing distance, for so only could it be accounted for that the widow and her infant daughter, seated at the fire, were always the first to give notice of the Major’s approach. Sometimes Turàndurey would employ herself in a less serious, though not less useful manner; for on such exploring expeditions the amusement of the men is a matter of the first importance. She would exercise her skill in mimicry or imitation, powers which the natives of New Holland possess to an amazing degree; and she thus occasionally amused the men by acting the part of their leader, taking angles, drawing from nature, and copying other occupations in which Major Mitchell was frequently engaged.

On the return of the expedition, it was found needful, from a scarcity of provisions, to divide into two parties, one of which was to proceed, under the leader, by forced marches home to Sydney, while the other was to remain behind until necessary supplies should be forwarded. The widow was among the party to be left; but on the [Pg 183] morning of separation she was marked with white round the eyes,—the Australian token of mourning,—and the face of Ballandella was whitened also. This poor woman, who had cheerfully carried the child upon her back, when it was offered that both might be carried in the carts, and was as careful and affectionate as any mother could be, had at length determined to entrust to the Major the care of her daughter. He was pleased with this proof of confidence, and less unwilling to take the charge from the knowledge of the wretched state of slavery to which the native females are doomed. Besides, the poor child had suffered considerably by the accident that befel her while with the party of Englishmen, and she seemed to prefer their mode of living so much, that her mother at length despaired of being ever able to instruct her thoroughly in the mysteries of killing and eating snakes, lizards, rats, and similar food. The widow had been long enough with Europeans to learn how much more her sex was respected by civilised men than by savages; and it was with feelings of this nature, probably, that she entrusted her child to them, under the immediate care, however, of a native woman, the wife of Piper, the guide who had accompanied them through all the journey. A match was subsequently made between Turàndurey and king Joey, one of the native chiefs, by which the good woman gained a handsome and comfortable settlement for an Australian. The child Ballandella was a welcome stranger to the Major’s own children, among whom she remained, conforming most willingly to the habits of domestic life, and showing a very promising aptness of understanding, until she was transferred, at the removal of the family to England, to the care of a friend; and the last mention made of Ballandella is, that she was able to read as well as any white child of the same age.

[Pg 184] Miago.—This last sketch of native character may serve to place in a striking, yet fair light, the perplexing situation of the half-civilised blacks, the strong inducements for them to relapse into barbarism again, and, consequently, the difficulty that stands in the way of their being thoroughly reclaimed. It is impossible to do this better than in the very words of Captain Grey.[81] “The officers of the Beagle took away with them a native of the name of Miago, who remained absent with them for several months. I saw him on the north-west coast, on board the Beagle, apparently perfectly civilised; he waited at the gun-room mess, was temperate, (never tasting spirits,) attentive, cheerful, and remarkably clean in his person. The next time I saw him was at Swan River, where he had been left on the return of the Beagle. He was then again a savage, almost naked, painted all over, and had been concerned in several murders. Several persons here told me,—‘You see the taste for a savage life was strong in him, and he took to the bush again directly.’ Let us pause for a moment and consider.

“Miago, when he was landed, had amongst the white people none who would be truly friends of his;—they would give him scraps from their table, but the very outcasts of the whites would not have treated him as an equal,—they had no sympathy with him,—he could not have married a white woman,—he had no certain means of subsistence open to him,—he never could have been either a husband or a father, if he had lived apart from his own people;—where, amongst the whites, was he to find one who would have filled for him the place of his black mother, whom he is much attached to? What white man would have been his brother? What white woman his sister? He had two courses left open to [Pg 185] him,—he could either have renounced all natural ties, and have led a hopeless, joyless life among the whites, ever a servant, ever an inferior being; or he could renounce civilisation, and return to the friends of his childhood, and to the habits of his youth. He chose the latter course, and I think that I should have done the same.”

[Pg 186]

image sydney in its infancy—view from the south.




One of the greatest efforts to which the industry and powers of man can be directed is to change a lonely uncultivated wilderness into an enclosed and fruitful country,—to occupy with civilised human beings and comfortable dwellings those wilds which have hitherto been nearly deserted, or at best but scantily and occasionally inhabited by savage barbarians. The colonisation of New South Wales by the English has been one of the most successful of these efforts; and certainly never before did the change effected by industry so rapidly make itself visible in the face of the new country. But, although the settlement of this colony may now be most certainly pronounced to have been a very successful experiment, it was by no means without hazard, and disappointment, and suffering, to those who were first engaged in it. Indeed it would appear to be the lot of infant colonies to cope with difficulties known only to [Pg 187] first settlers in uncultivated lands; and while the enterprising colonist has to endure and struggle against these early trials, his children or grandchildren, or often the stranger who has made a favourable bargain of his property, are the persons who reap the reward of his toils. It must assuredly be a subject of interest to every inquiring mind to trace the feeble beginnings of an infant colony, accompanying it through all its variations of hope and despondency, of good or ill success, until it is at length conducted to a state of greatness and prosperity quite unexampled, when the shortness of its duration is considered. And since that colony is our own, since Britain is, for several reasons, unusually concerned, both morally and politically, in the welfare of New South Wales, it cannot but be useful as well as interesting to inquire somewhat concerning the past history, previously to our entering upon the present state, of that settlement.

In the year 1770, Captain Cooke, in his first voyage, had touched upon the eastern coast of New Holland, at a bay which, from the number of curious flowers that were there found growing wild, received the name of Botany Bay. About sixteen years afterwards, when the American war had closed up the great outlet by which the mother country had been accustomed to get rid of the worst of its population, it was resolved to form a colony for this purpose elsewhere. The coast of Africa was thought of, but wisely abandoned; and at length Botany Bay was the spot selected by the English government, which despatched, in 1787, the Sirius and the Supply, with six transports and three store-ships, having on board 565 men and 192 women, convicts, besides 160 marines, with their officers, some of their wives, and the necessary crews for working the ships. Provisions for two years were taken out, tools, agricultural [Pg 188] implements, and other articles deemed necessary were also furnished, and the little fleet was placed under the command of Captain Phillip, the future governor of the intended colony. Some live stock was obtained at the Cape of Good Hope, and plants and seeds likely to be useful were procured likewise at that place, (then under the Dutch government,) and at Rio Janeiro. In eight months and a week the voyage was, with the Divine blessing, completed; and after having sailed 5021 leagues, and touched at both the American and African continents, they came to an anchor on January 20th, 1788, within a few days’ sail of the antipodes of their native country, having had, upon the whole, a very healthy and prosperous voyage. Botany Bay did not offer much that was promising for a settlement, since it was mostly surrounded by very poor land, and water was scarce.[82] The governor, accordingly, went in person to examine the two neighbouring harbours of Port Jackson and Broken Bay, and upon drawing near to the entrance of the former the coast looked as unpromising as elsewhere, and the natives on shore continued shouting, “Warra, warra,”—Go away, go away. Captain Cooke, passing by the heads of Port Jackson, thought there might be found shelter within for a boat but Captain Phillip was agreeably surprised at finding there one of the finest harbours in the world; and since the goodness of the soil and the supply of water appeared to be sufficient, it was resolved to fix the new settlement in one of the coves of this large and beautiful inlet. The spot chosen was near a run of fresh water, which stole silently through a very thick wood, the stillness of which was then for the first time interrupted [Pg 189] by the rude sound of the labourer’s axe; and fifty years afterwards so great a change had taken place here, that the lowest price of crown land was then 1,000l. an acre, and in eligible situations sometimes a great deal more.[83]

The royal commission appointing the governor was read, together with the letters patent establishing courts of justice; and the behaviour of the convicts soon rendered it needful to act upon these, for, within a month of their landing, three of them were tried, found guilty, and severely punished. The ground was begun to be gradually cleared, a sort of farm was prepared to receive the live stock, and a garden for the plants and seeds; and, in obedience to the orders of the government at home, the Supply, commanded by Lieutenant King, was sent to Norfolk Island, some few days’ sail to the northeast of Port Jackson, for the purpose of forming a colony there in which the flax of New Zealand might be cultivated. With respect to the first progress of the colony at Sydney, it was very slow, in consequence both of the idleness and ignorance of the great majority of the colonists, to say nothing of their wickedness. In spite of all the efforts of the governor to prevent it, misunderstanding soon began to arise between the convicts and the natives, and it seemed impossible in an infant colony to put a sufficient check upon some of the unruly spirits belonging to the former class, while, at the same time, the thievish temper of the natives began very early to show itself, and to provoke injuries from men possessed of fire-arms. It must be owned, however, that proper regard was not always paid to the rights of the poor savages; and even so late as in the year 1810, a person charged with shooting at a native and wounding him, was tried simply for an assault; whilst another, who had committed a similar offence against a European [Pg 190] was tried on the same day for his life![84] In the beginning of May, not four months after the arrival of the British ships at Port Jackson, and at a time when death and disease were making sad havoc among the settlers, it was found needful to cut short the life of one very juvenile offender by the hand of justice. James Bennett, a youth of only seventeen years of age, was executed for burglary, and died confessing that the love of idleness and bad connexions had been his ruin. Soon after this, three convicts were killed, and a fourth dangerously wounded, by the natives; and upon inquiry it was found that two of them had robbed these people of a canoe, an act of injustice which was, no doubt, the cause of their death. The celebration of King George III.’s birthday, on June the 4th, gave an opportunity to the evil-disposed to commit several robberies, and two of these afterwards suffered death for their offences, while another, who had gone into the woods, was proclaimed an outlaw. For want of any overseers or police, except those taken from their own class, the convicts were getting beyond all discipline; and so utterly reckless and improvident were some of them, that they would consume their weekly allowance of provisions by the end of the third or fourth day, and trust for their supply during the rest of the week to the chance of being able to steal from others that were more provident.[85] One of these degraded creatures is stated to have made up his week’s allowance of flour (eight pounds) into cakes, which having devoured at one meal, he was soon after taken up, speechless and senseless, and died the following day. Among a population like that of which we are treating, while crimes were lamentably common, conviction [Pg 191] was comparatively rare. There was so much tenderness to each other’s guilt, such an acquaintance with vice and the different degrees of it, that, unless detected in the fact, it was next to impossible to bring an offence home to the transgressors. And with respect to their intercourse with the natives, though the convicts who suffered from them generally contrived to make out themselves to be in the right; yet, even upon their own showing, every accident that happened was occasioned by a breach of positive orders repeatedly given. In New South Wales, no less than in every other country, obedience to lawful authority was proved to be the safest and best way, after all; nor could that way be forsaken with impunity.

Amid the mass of moral corruption, which the British ships had thus imported into the coasts of New Holland, the only hope of infusing health and purity was from religion. But, unhappily, the age in which that expedition left the English shores, was certainly not a religious age; if there was less hypocrisy then than there now is, certainly there was less real piety. In the great towns of the mother country, population and wealth were allowed to make rapid strides, without a single thought being entertained of applying a portion of the increasing wealth of the nation to the spiritual instruction of its increasing population. If there was no room for the poorer classes of society at the parish church, it was thought they might go to the meeting-house; and if there was no room for them there, they might stay at home on the Lord’s day and be idle; it was doing no worse than many of their betters, in a worldly sense, were constantly in the habit of doing.[86] While notions [Pg 192] and practices of this nature prevailed at home, it was not to be expected that any very extraordinary attention would be paid to the religious instruction of the convicts and other settlers in New South Wales. Yet since, even then, it would have been thought shocking to have left a large gaol, with 757 prisoners in it, altogether destitute of the offices of religion, so it could not have been expected that the same number of convicts would ever have been cast forth as evil from their native land, and their souls left to perish on the other side of the globe, without a single chance, humanly speaking, of receiving those blessings of forgiveness and grace, which Christ died to procure for all men. But, whatever might have been thought before hand, or whatever may have been the immediate cause of such neglect, it positively appears, that, “when the fleet was on the point of sailing, in the year 1787, no clergyman had been thought of,” nor was it without a strong appeal to those in authority from one whose conduct in this instance is worthy of all praise, Wilberforce, aided by the interest of Bishop Porteus with Sir Joseph Banks, that the Rev. William Johnson was appointed chaplain.[87] From whatever cause this oversight may have arisen, whether it was intentional, or (what is more likely) merely the consequence of forgetfulness and carelessness, it speaks pretty plainly for the religious indifference of the government. However, the colony was, happily, not permitted to be founded without any one present to administer the sacraments and ordinances, and enforce the duties of our holy religion among the first settlers and convicts.[88] By Divine Providence, [Pg 193] acting through the instrumentality of man, the British nation was spared the sin and shame, which it had well nigh incurred, of casting forth from its own shores a vile mass of uncleanness and corruption, and forgetting at the same time to place amongst it the smallest portion of that good leaven by which alone its evil might be corrected. Accordingly, one chaplain[89] was sent out to officiate among about 1000 souls, who were at first dispersed in eleven ships, and more than two-thirds of them were in a state of extreme spiritual need, inasmuch as they had been guilty of gross and flagrant offences. And thus, thanks to the zeal and good feeling which had gained a victory over the supineness of government, the discharge of religious duties on the Sunday was never omitted at Sydney, Divine service being performed in the open air whenever the state of the weather would permit. All seems to have been done by the chaplain which could be effected under circumstances of great discouragement.[90] When our blessed Redeemer sent forth his disciples, he sent them by two and two, and how encouraging, in the midst of an evil world, is the conversation or counsel of a christian friend that is dearer than a brother! But the chaplain of New South Wales had no such assistance to fall back upon; he was left alone and single-handed—yet not alone, for Christ is ever with his authorised ministers, to fight against the mighty power of evils by which he was surrounded. He visited the sick and the convicts, going from settlement to settlement, and from hut to hut; travelling to [Pg 194] the more distant stations, that were afterwards formed, as far as he could reach, and assembling as many as he could for divine service. With what success these efforts were attended we shall be better able to judge hereafter; but one truth must be borne in mind, which is, that, in the very nature of things, evil will make itself more prominent and noticed in the world than good; so that, whilst it may almost appear from the history of the colony, as though there was not one godly man left in it, we shall do well to remember that there may have been, nevertheless, many a one who was profited by the ministry of Christ’s Church among them, many a Naaman who had been taught to forsake the evil thing which he once delighted in worshipping, many a knee which had not bowed to Baal, and many a mouth which had not kissed his image.[91]

However, it cannot be denied that the greater number of the settlers of every description were but little disposed to listen to the words of eternal truth, although they were ready enough to listen to any falsehood which promised well for their worldly interests. Thus, before the first year of the colony had expired, it was pretended and believed that a gold mine had been discovered. The specimens of this which the impostor produced, were manufactured out of a guinea and a brass buckle; and his object in deceiving was, that he might get clothes and other articles in exchange for his promised gold dust, from the people belonging to the store ships. But his cheat was soon discovered, and all that his gold dust finally procured him, was a severe flogging, and before the end of the year he was executed for another offence. Yet it would not be far from the truth to state, that the British had indeed discovered a gold mine in Sydney, [Pg 195] by working which with industry, ability, and perseverance, enormous riches have been obtained. When the story of the mine was invented, the land around Port Jackson was unproductive, and the hills wild or barren, but in little more than fifty years from that time the imports into the Port of Sydney amounted in 1840 to £2,462,858, while the amount of goods exported from the same place during that year was valued at £1,951,544.[92] Where was there ever a gold mine that was known to make a return so profitable as this to those that worked it?

The great object, and generally the most difficult to be obtained, in forming altogether a new colony, is to make it begin to produce a sufficiency to supply its own necessary wants. But, although this object was kept steadily in view from the very first in New South Wales, yet were there many hindrances to be overcome, and much suffering to be endured, before it was finally gained. The land near the new settlement is none of the best for farming operations, and persons at all acquainted with agriculture appear to have been very scarce among the settlers and convicts; besides which, the prevailing idleness was so great, that it seemed almost impossible to make the men exert themselves; and, perhaps, nothing less than the want and privations, which they subsequently endured, could have had this effect. A regular supply of provisions had constantly been issued from the government stores, and the convicts, with that short-sighted imprudence by which the vicious are generally distinguished, had never given themselves the trouble of looking forwards to the necessity of raising a supply of food for themselves. Meanwhile, although farming operations were going on but slowly, and not very successfully, the stores were being lessened at a [Pg 196] rapid rate, not only by the ordinary issue of provisions, but likewise by rats and pilferers. Six soldiers, and an accomplice who turned king’s evidence, were discovered, after eight months of impunity, by means of a key which was left by one of them in the lock, upon his being disturbed by the patrol; and these men, having betrayed their trust as sentinels, and carried on a regular system of plunder for the purpose of indulging themselves in vice and drunkenness, were all executed. In April 1789 the Sirius returned, bringing the first cargo of provisions received by the colony, which was, however, only equal to four months’ supply at full rations. But full rations were not to continue much longer in the infant settlement. In November, 1789, very nearly two years after the arrival of the colonists, it was found needful to reduce the allowance to two-thirds of every sort of provisions, spirits alone excepted. No alteration was made in the allowance of the women, who were already upon two-thirds of the full ratio of a man; and it was eagerly and confidently expected that, after having waited so long, it would be but a short period more before an ample supply of all that was necessary would be received from the mother country.

In November, which is one of the summer months of the Australian calendar, the little harvest of the colony was got in. At Rose Hill, (or Paramatta, as it is now called,) where the best land had been found, upwards of two hundred bushels of wheat, about thirty-five bushels of barley, besides a small quantity of oats and Indian corn, were harvested; and the whole of this produce was intended to be kept for seed. At Sydney, the spot of cleared ground called the Governor’s Farm had produced about twenty-five bushels of barley. But the evil spirit of thieving was still as rife as ever among the convicts, and the young crops of wheat were the objects of plunder [Pg 197] (especially after the reduction of the allowance,) notwithstanding the immense importance of preserving seed sufficient to crop a larger breadth of land for the following year. In the very beginning of 1790 the provisions brought from England wholly failed, having just about lasted during the two years for which they had been calculated; and the colonists then became totally dependent upon the slender stock brought for them by the Sirius from the Cape of Good Hope. Great anxiety began to be felt for an arrival from England, and a flagstaff[93] was erected on the south head of the entrance to the harbour of Port Jackson, so that a signal might be there made upon the first appearance of the expected vessel. In hope of this welcome event the eyes of the colonists were often directed thither, and often must their hearts have grown sick from the tedious delay of the hope in which they indulged. Certainly, it is a remarkable instance of the hard-heartedness and corruption of man’s nature, that, even under these circumstances, with the horrors of famine daily in view, left alone on a remote and desolate coast, and, as it appeared, forsaken by the rest of the world, they did not profit by the lessons thus forcibly brought before them, nor listen with any good effect to the warnings taught them by sorrow and trouble, those great and awakening preachers of righteousness.

During the anxious interval that succeeded, everything that was possible to be done for the public advantage was done by the governor. Occasionally, a fair supply of fish had been brought in, and accordingly a boat was employed to fish three times in the week, and the whole quantity that was taken was issued out in addition to the rations, which were equally distributed [Pg 198] to every person, no distinction being made in favour of the governor himself, who, when he had a party at Government House, always requested his guests to bring their bread with them, for there was none to spare;—in February, 1790, there were not four months’ provisions in the colony, even at half allowance. These circumstances required thoughtful and vigorous measures to be promptly taken, and since Norfolk Island was a more fertile spot, and much better supplied with provisions at that time, it was resolved to send some of the convicts thither, unless the expected supplies from England should arrive before March 3d, the day fixed for their departure. 116 male and 68 female convicts, with 27 children, were thus sent away, and the colony wore quite a deserted appearance. Every effort was made to prevent the destruction of live stock, which was very rapidly taking place, and towards the end of March a yet further reduction was necessary in the allowances, which were then to be given out daily; an alteration at the same time was made in the hours of public labour, and the afternoons of each day were given up to the people to work for themselves in their own gardens. The fish that was caught was also issued out as part of the allowance, but at a more liberal rate,—ten pounds of fish being deemed equal to two and a half pounds of pork. In the midst of this necessity it is gratifying to find that the witness of the Church, though, as usual, too little heeded, was yet not silent; “attention to religious duties,” i.e. to Divine worship on Sundays, “was never omitted, and service was performed on Good Friday.”[94]

[Pg 199] But the early settlers of New South Wales were taught by sad experience the truth of that common saying that bids us to “welcome the sorrow that comes alone.” It had been arranged that the Sirius should return immediately from Norfolk Island, and then should sail direct for China to procure a supply of provisions immediately. But Providence never permitted the Sirius again to float upon the quiet waters of Sydney Cove. The vessel was lost upon a reef at Norfolk Island, after having landed most of those on board, and the others escaped with their lives, but the ship was totally destroyed. Disgraceful to relate, it was set on fire by two convicts who had been allowed to go on board on the second day after the wreck, in the hope of saving the live hogs, but these men got drunk with the liquor they found, and set the ship on fire in two places, nor was it without great difficulty that they were themselves rescued. This sorrowful intelligence was brought by the Supply,—the only remaining hope of procuring relief for the wants of the colony. After various precautionary measures had been taken, the Supply was despatched to Batavia, under orders to procure, not only a quantity of provisions, but also to hire a vessel, which should accompany the English ship on its return, and should bring to New South Wales a second cargo of necessaries. Meanwhile, the allowances were yet further reduced, and the governor, having reserved 300 bushels of wheat for seed, gave up 300 lbs. weight of flour, which was his own private property, for the public use; besides which, the expedients of fishing and shooting wild animals were tried, but with no great success. Crime appeared rather to increase than to diminish with the increase of temptation and opportunities; and at this awful period of trial for the whole population, it was judged necessary to execute one criminal. A female convict was at this time robbed of [Pg 200] her week’s provisions, and she was left to subsist upon the bounty of others, since it was impossible to replace them from the public store; and if it was a cruel offence of one to rob the poor woman, it reflected credit upon many, that, under such circumstances, she was preserved from starvation.

At length, after six months of indescribable anxiety and privation, the expected signal was made, and a boat was sent off (in very rough weather) to direct the ship how to get safely into the harbour. It was the transport-ship, the Lady Juliana, which had been no less than ten months upon the voyage, and which brought news of the almost total destruction of another ship, the Guardian, which had been sent out previously, and well supplied with every thing necessary for a rising colony. The Lady Juliana brought very little addition to the supplies, compared with the additional number of consumers, above 200 female convicts, which she had with her; these had been sent upon the reckoning of the Guardian’s stores arriving beforehand; and if this had been permitted, probably the colony would never more have experienced want. It was unfortunate, at a time when a cargo of any thing but of convicts would have been serviceable, that scarcely any thing else should arrive. Before the end of June, however, another ship laden with provisions arrived, after having very narrowly escaped a wreck off the heads at the entrance of Port Jackson; and upon the welcome arrival of this supply the immediate scarcity ceased. Three other vessels shortly followed, and things were thus for a time restored to their former course; but repeated trials, arising from want of provisions, were afterwards, at intervals, the lot of the colony. In 1794, on the very day when the doors of the provision-store were closed, and the convicts had received their last allowance which [Pg 201] remained, the signal for a sail was made; and it was the third day before the two vessels then in sight could be got into the harbour, but their arrival brought comparative abundance to the starving population of 3,000 people, who were beginning seriously to reckon up how far their live stock would go towards the supply of their necessities. Several other similar seasons of famine have been recorded, and it is curious and instructive to look back upon the day of small things in a country abundant as New South Wales at present is in the necessaries, comforts, and even luxuries, of life.

The state of health in which many of the convicts reached their place of exile, and the numbers of them which never reached it at all, were deplorable facts, proving too truly that men may be found capable of doing any thing for the hope of profit. A certain sum per head was paid by the government for each convict, and thus the dead became more profitable to the contractors than the living were; for the expenses of the former were less, while the stipulated payments were the same in both cases. Out of three ships 274 convicts died on the voyage,[95] and when they had landed, there were no less than 488 persons in the hospital. Neglect like this of the miserable creatures who had broken their country’s laws, most justly awakens our feelings of indignation; and these are righteous feelings, but let them not be confined to the bodily neglect to which, in a comparatively few instances at first, the convicts were exposed. Let us recollect, with sorrow rather than indignation, how many thousands of these unhappy creatures have, down to the present time, been left to perish, in a spiritual sense, and that, likewise, from motives of [Pg 202] profit, for fear of the outcry of want of economy being excited in a wealthy nation, if sufficient means of spiritual instruction were provided for our banished fellow-countrymen!

Soon after the arrival of the three transports, those of the convicts that were in tolerable health were settled at Rose Hill, and the town now called Paramatta was laid out; and the commencement of a system of free settlers was provided for, although the retired soldiers, those parties for whom it was originally intended, were not usually very persevering or successful in their attempts at farming. In September, 1790, Governor Phillip received that wound of which mention has been made elsewhere;[96] and this season the dry weather was so excessive, that the gardens and fields of corn were parched up for want of moisture. Five convicts left Paramatta in a boat, and got out of the harbour without being discovered, having provisions for a week with them, and purposing to steer for Otaheite![97] A search was made for them, but in vain, and beyond doubt they must have perished miserably. At various times, the convicts, especially some of the Irish, set off to the northwards, meaning to travel by the interior of New Holland overland to China; and many were either starved to death or else killed by the natives, while pursuing this vain hope of escape from thraldom.

The next event of importance to the infant colony was the arrival, towards the close of 1791, of what is called the second fleet, consisting of no less than ten ships, and having on board upwards of 2,000 convicts, with provisions and other necessaries. These ships came dropping into the harbour at short intervals after each other, and their arrival, together with the needful preparations [Pg 203] for the additional numbers brought by them, gave an air of bustle and life to the little town of Sydney. Various public works and buildings had been carried on, especially some tanks were cut in the rocks to serve as reservoirs in dry seasons, and at Paramatta between forty and fifty fresh acres were expected to be got ready for Indian corn this year. By his Majesty’s ship Gorgon, certain needful instruments and powers for carrying on the government of the colony were sent, and amongst others the public seal of New South Wales. Two or three of the vessels which had arrived from England, were employed, after discharging their cargoes, in the whale-fishery, and not altogether without success; so early did British enterprise turn itself to that occupation, which has latterly become most profitable in those regions. During this year, the governor for the first time exercised a power which had only recently been given him, and several convicts were, on account of their good behaviour, released from their state of bondage, on condition of their not returning to England before the term of their sentences had expired. Various allotments of land were also given to those whose terms had already expired, and who signified their willingness to become settlers in this new country. At the close of the year 1791, nearly four years from the first landing of the British in Port Jackson, the public live stock consisted of one aged stallion, one mare, two young stallions, two colts, sixteen cows, two calves, one ram, fifty ewes, six lambs, one boar, fourteen sows, and twenty-two pigs. The cultivated ground at Paramatta amounted to three hundred acres in maize, forty-four in wheat, six in barley, one in oats, four in vines, eighty-six in garden-ground, and seventeen in cultivation by the soldiers of the New South Wales Corps. Thus humble were the beginnings, even after some time, of that wealth in flocks [Pg 204] and herds for which our Australian colonies are now so justly celebrated.

Very little, meanwhile, is recorded of the chaplain, Mr. Johnson, or his doings, but that little is to his credit. He was, it appears, in the habit of relieving from his own private bounty the convicts who were most in need; and some of them spread abroad a report that this was done from funds raised by subscription in the mother country; and upon the strength of this notion, in the spirit which the poorer classes in England too often exhibit, they chose to claim relief as though it were their just right. This false notion was publicly contradicted, and Mr. Johnson thought it necessary that the convicts should know that it was to his bounty alone that they were indebted for these gifts, and that, consequently, the partakers of them were to be of his own selection. Another instance of the kindness of Mr. Johnson, and of the evil return it met with, has also been recorded, and though it occurred some years afterwards, in 1797, it may be noticed here. It happened that among the convicts there was found one who had been this gentleman’s schoolfellow, and the chaplain, feeling compassion for his fallen condition, had taken him into his service, and treated him with the utmost confidence and indulgence. Soon afterwards, it was rumoured that this man had taken an impression of the key of the store-room in clay, from which he had procured another key to fit the lock. Mr. Johnson scarcely credited the story, but at length he consented that a constable should be concealed in the house on a Sunday, when all the family, except this person, would be engaged in Divine service. The plan succeeded too well. Supposing that all was secure, the ungrateful wretch applied his key to the door of the store-room, and began to plunder it of all the articles he chose to take, until the constable, leaving [Pg 205] his hiding-place, put an end to the robbery by making the thief his prisoner.

The attention of Mr. Johnson to his ministerial and public duties appears to have continued in a quiet and regular way, but its fruits were by no means so manifest as could have been wished. In 1790 he complained to the authorities of the want of attendance at divine service, which, it must be observed, was generally performed in the open air, exposed alike to the wind and rain, or burning sun; and then it was ordered that a certain portion of provisions should be taken off from the allowance of each person who might absent himself from prayers without giving a reasonable excuse. And thus, we may suppose, a better congregation was secured; but, alas! from what a motive were they induced to draw near their God. And how many are there, it is to be feared, in our country parishes in England, whose great inducement to attend their church is the fact that the clergyman generally has certain gifts to distribute: how common a fault, in short, has it been in all ages and in all countries for men to seek Christ from no higher motive than that they may “eat of the loaves and be filled!”[98] In proof of the single voice that was raised in the wilderness of New South Wales being not altogether an empty and ineffectual sound, we are told that in 1790, when the female convicts who arrived by the Lady Juliana attended divine service for the first time, Mr. Johnson, with much propriety, in his discourse, touched upon their situation so forcibly as to [Pg 206] draw tears from many of them, who were not yet hardened enough to be altogether insensible to truth. Another instance of very praiseworthy zeal was afforded by the voluntary visit of the chaplain of New South Wales in 1791 to Norfolk Island, which small colony had never yet been favoured even with the temporary presence of a minister of the Church of Christ.

But a yet better proof of the chaplain’s earnestness was given, after the colony had been settled for six years, in his building a church,—the first that was raised in New Holland for the purposes of christian worship. Even now, we often may hear and lament the ignorance which chooses to reckon the clergy as the Church, and which looks upon the efforts recently made in favour of church extension, as lying quite beyond the province of the laity; and this deplorable ignorance was much more common in Mr. Johnson’s days.[99] Accordingly, to the disgrace of the colony and of the government at home, no church was raised during six years, and when at last that object was accomplished, it was by the private purse and the single efforts of an individual,—the chaplain of the colony. The building was in a very humble style, made of wood and thatched, and it is said to have cost Mr. Johnson only 40l.; but all this merely serves to show how easily the good work might have been before done, how inexcusable it was to leave its accomplishment to one individual. A few months before this necessary work was undertaken the colony had been visited by two Spanish ships, and it is possible that an observation made by the Romish priest belonging to one of these ships may have had some effect towards raising the first church built at Sydney. At the time when the [Pg 207] Spanish ships were in the harbour, the English chaplain performed divine service wherever he could find a shady spot; and the Spanish priest observing that, during so many years no church had been built, lifted up his eyes with astonishment, declaring (truly), that, had the place been settled by his nation, a house of God would have been erected before any house for man. How disgraceful to the English nation, how injurious to our Reformed Church, that an observation like this, coming from the lips of one who belonged to a corrupt and idolatrous church, should be so true, so incapable of contradiction! However, if the remark had any effect in exciting the efforts of the Protestant chaplain, and in thus supplying at length a want so palpable as that of a house of God in the colony, it was by no means uttered in vain; and supposing it to be so, this is not a solitary instance of our Church and her members having been aroused into activity by the taunts and attacks of those that are opposed to her.

Upon the opening of the humble building, which had thus tardily been raised for the purposes of divine worship, and to consecrate which according to the beautiful forms of our English church there was no bishop in the colony, the chaplain preached a suitable sermon, we are informed; but, if it may be judged from the scanty record that is preserved of it, this discourse partook of the cold and worldly spirit of the age in which it was delivered. Mr. Johnson began well with impressing upon his hearers the necessity of holiness in every place, and then lamented the urgency of public works having prevented the erection of a church sooner. As though a building for the public worship of Almighty God were not the most urgent of all public works in every christian community! He next went on to declare, that his only motive in coming forward in the [Pg 208] business was that of establishing a place sheltered from bad weather, and from the summer-heats, where public worship might be performed. The uncertainty of a place where they might attend had prevented many from coming, but he hoped that now the attendance would be regular.[100] Surely, the worthy chaplain might have had and avowed a higher motive for building a house of God, than that of keeping men from the wind, and the rain, and the sun; and, undoubtedly, as the inconvenience of the former system was no good excuse for absence from divine service, so neither could the comparative convenience of the new arrangement be at all a proper motive for attendance upon it.

However, many allowances are to be made for Mr. Johnson, and it becomes us, while we condemn the faults, to spare the persons, of the men of that and of other past generations; especially when we look at our own age, and see, notwithstanding the improvement that has unquestionably taken place, how many conspicuous faults there are prevailing among us, which those of future generations will justly pity and condemn. It may be well, before the subject of the church raised by Mr. Johnson is finally quitted, to acquaint the reader with its fate. In 1798, after having stood only five years, it was discovered one evening to be on fire, and, all efforts to save it proving useless, from the combustible nature of the materials, it was consumed in an hour. “This was a great loss,” observes the historian of the colony, “for during the working days of the week the building was used as a school, in which from 150 to 200 children were educated, under the immediate inspection of Mr. Johnson. As this building stood alone, and no person was suffered to remain in it after the school hours, there was not a doubt but the atrocious [Pg 209] act was the effect of design, and in consequence of an order enforcing attendance on divine service.” The governor, however, with praiseworthy zeal, would not suffer a single Sunday to be lost, but ordered a new store-house, which was just finished, to be fitted up for a church. One brief observation may here be added. How powerful a witness do the enemies of Christ’s Church, and of our English branch of it, bear to the usefulness and effect of its doctrine, even in its most helpless and lowest condition, by the ceaseless and unscrupulous pains which they take in trying to silence its testimony!

No apology is necessary for detaining the reader so long upon these little details, since if the religious state and progress of an infant colony be not an interesting feature in its history, what can we hope to find in it that is deserving of the attention of a thoughtful and well-regulated mind? But we return now to the temporal affairs of New South Wales. The year 1792, which began with reduced rations of provisions, was a time of great suffering and scarcity in the colony, nor was it until the latter part of the year that any relief for the wants of the settlers arrived. Meanwhile the mortality that took place was very alarming, and notwithstanding the sickness that prevailed, there was no abatement in wickedness and crime. At one time during this year no less than fifty-three persons were missing, many of whom never returned, having perished, no doubt, miserably in the woods, while seeking for a new settlement, or endeavouring to find their way to China! An execution for theft took place in January, and the unhappy man declared that hunger had tempted him to commit the crime for which he suffered. Many instances of profligacy among the convicts occurred, but one stands forth distinguished by especial wickedness. A woman [Pg 210] had been trusted to carry to the bakehouse the allowance of flour belonging to two others; and after having run in debt for flour taken up on their account, she mixed a quantity of pounded stone, in the proportion of two-thirds of grit to one of flour, with the meal belonging to the other women.[101] Fortunately, the deceit was found out before the flour was mixed with other meal at the bakehouse, and the culprit was sentenced to wear an iron collar for six months. In April, a convict was killed by a blow from the limb of a tree, which fell on his head as he passed under it, and fractured his skull. He died on the spot, having earned from those who knew him the character of being so great a reprobate, that he was scarcely ever known to speak without an oath, or without calling on his Maker to witness the truth of the lie he was about to utter. Are these poor creatures, if may be again asked, to be cast out from their own country, and left (as they too often have been,) to their own evil devices and to Satan’s temptations, without involving the nation that has thus treated them in a load of guilt too fearful to contemplate?

Towards the end of the year 1792 the harvest was gathered in from the 1540 acres of cleared ground, which were sown in the preceding seed-time. The produce was tolerably good, and since no less than 3470 acres of land had already been granted to settlers, it was hoped that before very long the colony might cease to be almost entirely dependent for its support upon the precarious supply which it received from ships. The colonists then learned by sad experience what many Englishmen in the present day seem unwilling to believe, [Pg 211] that it is one of the worst evils to be dependent upon other countries for daily bread. In December, the governor, Captain Phillip, left the colony from ill health, having acted with much prudence and vigour during his administration, and leaving behind him a respectable character; he returned to England, where his services were rewarded by a pension of 400l. a-year, and he retired to Bath, at which city he died. His activity in exploring the neighbouring country and discovering its capabilities, his courage and firmness on many very trying occasions, his steady opposition to every proposal of abandoning the settlement, together with his general character, sufficiently entitle his memory to regard and respect from those who are now living in New South Wales, and reaping in comparative ease the fruit of that harvest which it cost him and others great pains and many trials to sow.

Before the first Governor of New South Wales left that country, he had the satisfaction of seeing its prospects of a future sufficiency of provisions very greatly improved; and a work of charity, the hospital at Paramatta, was completed in the month before that in which he sailed. With the year 1793 began a new government, for as no successor had been appointed at home to Captain Phillip, the chief power now came, according to what had been previously provided, into the hands of Major Grose, of the New South Wales Corps, who assumed the style of Lieutenant-Governor. During nearly three years things continued in this state; only Major Grose left the settlement, and was succeeded by Captain Paterson; nor was it until 1795 that a regular successor to the first governor arrived in the colony. In this period many things occurred which were, no doubt, of the highest interest to the settlers at the time, but few events which deserve our particular [Pg 212] notice now. A fire, which destroyed a house worth 15l., and thirty bushels of new wheat;—the alternate scarcity and comparative abundance of provisions;—the arrival or departure of ships from the harbour;—the commission of the first murder in the colony, and other sad accounts of human depravity and its punishment;—the gradual improvement and extension of the colony;—the first sale by auction of a farm of twenty-five acres for the sum of 13l.:—these and similar subjects occupy the history of New South Wales, not merely during the three years that elapsed between Governor Phillip’s departure and the arrival of his successor, but also during the long period of gradual but increasing improvement which followed the last event.

Yet, while the improvement of the little colony was evidently steady and increasing, when its affairs are regarded in a temporal point of view, in morals its progress appeared to be directly contrary; and, painful though it be to dwell upon the sins and follies of men, whose bodies have long since passed away to their parent dust, and their souls returned to God who gave them, nevertheless, there are many wholesome lessons of instruction and humiliation to be gathered from the history of human depravity in New South Wales. One of the crying sins of the mother country,—a sin now very much confined to the lower classes of society, but fifty years ago equally common among all classes,—is that of drunkenness; and it could scarcely be expected that the outcast daughter in Australia would be less blamable in this respect than the mother from which she sprang.[102] Accordingly, we find that as soon as it was possible to procure spirits, at however great a [Pg 213] sacrifice, they were obtained, and intoxication was indulged in,—if such brutality deserves the name of indulgence,—to an awful extent. Whether all that a writer very intimately acquainted with New South Wales urges against the officers of the New South Wales Corps be true or not, so far as their dealings in spirituous liquors are concerned, there can be no question that these mischievous articles became almost entirely the current coin of the settlement, and were the source of worldly gain to a few, while they proved the moral ruin of almost all, in the colony. But, without giving entire credit to all the assertions of Dr. Lang, who deals very much in hasty notions and exaggerated opinions,[103] we may sorrowfully acknowledge that, if the convicts in New South Wales gave way in a horrible manner to drunkenness and its attendant sins, the upper classes, in general, either set them a bad example, or made a plunder of them by pandering to their favourite vice. The passion for liquor, it is stated by Collins,[104] operated like a mania, there being nothing which the people would not risk to obtain it: and while spirits were to be had, those who did any extra labour refused to be paid in money, or in any other article than spirits, which were then so scarce as to be sold at six shillings a bottle. So eagerly were fermented liquors sought after, and so little was the value of money in a place where neither the comforts nor luxuries of life could be bought, that the purchaser has been often known, in the [Pg 214] early days of the colony, to name himself a price for the article he wanted, fixing it as high again as would otherwise have been required of him. When the few boat-builders and shipwrights in the colony had leisure, they employed themselves in building boats for those that would pay them their price, namely, five or six gallons of spirits. It could be no matter of surprise that boats made by workmen so paid should be badly put together, and scarcely seaworthy.

But, however commonly the standard of value might be measured by spirituous liquors, yet it is evident that these, being themselves procurable for money, could not altogether supersede the desire of money itself. Hence arose those numerous acts of theft and depredation, that improvident thirst after present gain, that total disregard of future consequences by which many of the first inhabitants of the colony were disgraced and ruined. The contagion of evil example forced its way into Government House, and the steward of Governor Hunter became an awful instance of the mischief of bad society. Against this he had been often cautioned by his master, but to no purpose, until at length he was discovered abusing the unlimited confidence which had been placed in him, and making use of the governor’s name in a most iniquitous manner. At this discovery the wretched victim of evil communication retired to a shrubbery in his master’s garden, and shot himself through the head.

From the love of money, which no mean authority has pronounced to be “the root of all evil,”[105] arose likewise that spirit of gambling, which ended in murder on one occasion before the settlement had existed more than six years; and which on many occasions was the manifest cause of misery and ruin to those in whom this [Pg 215] evil spirit had taken up its abode. To such excess was the pursuit of gambling carried among the convicts, that some had been known, after losing provisions, money, and all their spare clothing, to have staked and lost the very clothes on their wretched backs, standing in the midst of their associates as degraded, and as careless of their degradation, as the natives of the country which these gamblers disgraced. Money was their principal object, for with money they could purchase spirits, or whatever else their passions made them covet, or the colony could furnish. These unhappy men have been seen to play at their favourite games for six, eight, and ten dollars each game; and those who were not expert at these, instead of pence, tossed up for dollars![106]

[Pg 216]



The month of August, 1795, was marked in the annals of New South Wales by the arrival of the second governor of the colony, Captain Hunter, who continued five years in power, and returned to England in the year 1800, after having seen the colony over which he was placed prospering and thriving enough in worldly matters, though in other more important points it continued poor and naked indeed. It was a great object with the new governor to check and restrain that love of liquor, which he saw working so much mischief among his people; and several private stills were found and destroyed, to the great regret of their owners, who made twice as large a profit from the spirit distilled by them out of wheat, as they would have been able to have gained, had they sold their grain for the purpose of [Pg 217] making bread. So common was the abuse of paying wages in liquor,[107] that it was pretended that the produce of these stills was only to be paid away in labour, whereas it was sold for a means of intoxication to any person who would bring ready money for it. At the commencement of harvest, in the November immediately following the arrival of Governor Hunter, a regulation was made by that gentleman, which showed that the infant colony was now making rapid strides towards that point of advancement and independence, from which ignorant and designing men are at present labouring to thrust down the mother country. New South Wales was, in 1795, just beginning to supply its inhabitants with corn, and Governor Hunter wisely thought that the increasing abundance of the produce would now bear some little decrease in the high prices hitherto paid for new grain at the public store. England, in 1843, is able to supply its inhabitants with food, (except in scarce years, when corn is let in at prices varying with the degree of scarcity,) and many Englishmen unwisely think that this advantage and independence may be safely bartered away—for what?—for very low prices, and, their constant companions, very low wages, and very great and universal distress![108]

[Pg 218] Another addition to the means, which the country was beginning to possess of maintaining its inhabitants, was made by the regular, though far from rapid, increase of live stock, which, in spite of all obstacles, and notwithstanding great carelessness and ignorance on the part of many of those that kept it, continued to thrive and multiply.[109] But, besides the cattle to be seen upon the various farms and allotments in the settlement, a considerable herd of wild cattle were found, soon after Governor Hunter’s arrival, on the banks of the Nepean River, about thirty miles from Sydney, in a district still bearing the name of the Cow Pastures. These animals were clearly ascertained to have sprung from a few tame cattle which had strayed away from the colony at its first foundation; and the governor, pleased at this discovery, himself paid a visit to the Cow Pastures, where he found a very fine herd, upwards of forty in number, grazing in a pleasant and rich pasturage. The whole number of them was upwards of sixty, but the governor’s party were attacked by a furious bull, which, in self-defence, they were obliged to kill. The country where these animals were seen was remarkably pleasant to the eye; every where was thick and luxuriant grass growing; the trees were thinly scattered, and free from underwood, except in particular spots; in several beautiful flats large [Pg 219] ponds were found, covered with ducks and black swans, the margins of which were fringed with beautiful shrubs, and the ground rose from these levels into hills of easy ascent. The advantages of having an increasing number of wild cattle within so short a distance of the settlement were obvious enough, and the government resolved to protect them to the utmost of its power. Accordingly, it was ordered that no part of the fertile tract of which these animals were in possession should be granted out to settlers; and at length the herds became too numerous even for the 60,000 acres, which the district was supposed to contain. But, in 1813 and the two following years, so severe a drought prevailed, that vast numbers of them died; and afterwards the government consented to grant away the land, and the remainder of the herds betook themselves to the mountainous ranges beyond.

Captain Hunter was rather fond of exploring the unknown country which extended behind, or to the northward or southward of, the narrow limits of the British colony: and during his administration its boundaries were considerably enlarged, and some valuable discoveries were made. One of the most important of these was a discovery which served to prove the claim of the colony to be called New South Wales, from its resemblance to the country whence its name was taken, in one production at least. In 1796, some persons returned from fishing in a bay considerably to the northward of Port Jackson, and brought with them several large pieces of coal, which they said that they had found at some little distance from the beach, lying in quantities on the surface of the ground. This was the first knowledge obtained by the settlers of the value of the productions of the coast at the mouth of the river Hunter, and at the place where coals were found so abundantly there now exists a township, furnishing the whole colony [Pg 220] with a supply of that useful article, besides having a large trade in lime, which is made from the oyster-shells that are found there in immense quantities. The appropriate name of this township is Newcastle.

Many needful and praiseworthy regulations were made by Captain Hunter, who endeavoured to enforce attendance on Divine service, and the proper observance of the Sunday; and who took great pains also to discover and punish those encroachments upon the public stores which had been continually made. The convicts whose time of punishment had expired, but who were unable to get a passage to England, were frequently more troublesome and ill-disposed, being less under authority than the others were. These emancipists, as they were called, would occasionally indeed withdraw from receiving the ration allowed by Government; but then it was only in the hope of avoiding labour, and living by pillage. Or else these men, together with others not less ill-disposed than themselves, would play every possible trick to obtain their allowance from the public stores, when they were not entitled, or to get more than their allowances, when they had a certain claim. To put a check upon such practices, the governor, in 1796, had a general muster of all descriptions of people in every part of the colony at the same hour, so that it would be no longer possible, as on former occasions, for one person to manage to answer to his name in two different places, and to draw provisions from both stores. Very shortly after this general muster, the governor made a journey to the banks of the River Hawkesbury, where there is some of the richest land in the colony, but on his return, he had the mortification of seeing a stack of wheat belonging to Government burnt, containing 800 bushels, and it was not certain whether this fire was accidental, since the destruction thus caused made [Pg 221] room for as many bushels as were destroyed, which must be purchased from the settlers who had wheat to sell. In reading of these atrocious acts—for if this fire was not intentional, others undoubtedly were—the inhabitants of England must not plume themselves upon their superiority to the outcasts of their country in New South Wales. Unhappily, the word incendiarism has become familiar to English ears, and, ever since the evil spirits of agitation and rebellion have been dallied with, they have made their deeds of darkness visible, from time to time, by the awful midnight fires which they have kindled in the land.

But it was not only in checking the outrages of the British inhabitants of New South Wales, that the governor was actively employed; the natives were also exceedingly troublesome, especially at the valuable farms on the Hawkesbury. Vigorous efforts were made to prevent that disorder, and disregard of private property, which seemed so prevailing; and certainly Governor Hunter appears to have been an active and energetic, but, as might be expected in a colony like that over which he was placed, not altogether a popular ruler. The vices of the lower classes were, in too many instances, found profitable, more or less directly, to those who are termed the upper classes in the settlement; and since both classes became to a fearful degree sensual and covetous, the evil was doubly aggravated by example and contagion. And when we consider, that, at that time, the population of the colony might almost have been divided into those who drank rum, and those who sold it;[110] when we recollect the covetousness of all classes, the hardened wickedness of many of the convicts, the idleness of the settlers or soldiers, the peculiar [Pg 222] character of the natives, and the infant state of the British colony, it must be confessed, that the requisites of every good governor,—a wise head, a stout heart, and a steady hand,—were preeminently needful in the governor of New South Wales.

The list of crimes, which were continually occurring during the five years of Captain Hunter’s being governor, was a fearful and appalling one; nor can we wonder at the wish expressed by the historian of the early days of the colony, that future annalists may find a pleasanter field to travel in, without having their steps beset every moment with murderers, robbers, and incendiaries. Twice during Governor Hunter’s administration was a public gaol purposely destroyed by fire; once the gaol at Sydney suffered, although there were twenty prisoners confined there, who being mostly in irons were with difficulty saved; and the second time, the Paramatta gaol was destroyed, and one of the prisoners was scorched to death. Several of the settlers declined to pay anything towards the building of a new gaol, and it was not long a matter of doubt which article would be most likely to bear a productive tax; so a duty of one shilling per gallon was imposed upon spirits, sixpence on wine, and threepence upon porter or strong beer, to be applied to the above purpose. Building gaols is, beyond question, a necessary thing, especially in a colony chiefly formed of convicts: and perhaps a tax upon intoxicating liquors is no bad mode of procuring the means of erecting them, for thus the sober and industrious are not heavily taxed to provide for the support and punishment of the profligate and wicked. Nevertheless, if Christ’s religion be true, there is a surer and better way of checking crime, than by trusting to gaols and police alone; but, unhappily, this more excellent way of reforming the morals of mankind, has, in modern [Pg 223] times, found little favour with the great ones of the world.[111] Certainly the power of the Gospel and Church of Christ had no scope allowed it for its blessed effects, when to a population, consisting in 1803 of 7097 souls, and constantly on the increase, besides being scattered over an immense tract of country, one clergyman only was allowed during seven years to wage, single-handed and alone, the war against evil. There were, indeed, many Irish Roman Catholics among the convicts, and one of these, named Harrold, was a Romish priest, but his character was too little to be trusted for him to be of any great spiritual advantage even to those of his own communion.

In the year 1800, Governor Hunter left the settlement for England, and was succeeded in his office by Captain King, who had been Lieutenant-governor of Norfolk Island, and had conducted with great care and success the establishment of that smaller colony. However, Norfolk Island was abandoned altogether during the government of Captain King and his successor; and it is said this step was taken in compliance with the advice of the former gentleman. It was a saying attributed to him, that “he could not make farmers of pickpockets;”[112] and whatever truth there might be in this maxim, certainly it appears that the progress of agriculture was unfavourable, and that the colony continued still subject [Pg 224] to seasons of scarcity, approaching to famine, and obliged to put up with coarse loaves, which were feelingly called scrubbing brushes;[113] and was always in a state of dependence upon foreign supplies for daily bread. But if there were no corn laws, there was abundance of discontent and misery in the colony of New South Wales; and during the time of Captain King’s government, a rebellion broke out among the convicts, who had been induced by some of their number, rebels from Ireland, to strike for their liberty. The revolt was soon crushed by the military, but not without the loss of life to some of the unhappy men who had been partakers in it.

The six years during which Captain King held the office of governor of New South Wales, under the crown of Great Britain and Ireland, were rendered remarkable, as has been already stated, by the partial abandonment of the colony of Norfolk Island; and, it may be added, yet more remarkable by the commencement of another settlement, the first ever attempted in Van Diemen’s Land.

Norfolk Island, which is situated about 1000 miles from the eastern shore of New Holland, was settled almost immediately after the first foundations of Sydney had been laid; and although but a speck in the ocean, and without any safe or convenient landing-place, the first-named colony was altogether more flourishing in its early days than the other. The natural fertility of the land, the abundance of food supplied by the birds of providence,[114] the number of free settlers, and the wise [Pg 225] arrangements of Lieutenant-governor King, may all be recollected among the reasons of the superior prosperity of Norfolk Island. However, its career of prosperity was doomed to be but a very short one. Partly upon the plea of its having no convenient harbour, and partly because of its very limited extent, it was decided by the home government that it should be abandoned, and this decision was acted upon in 1805 and 1807, when the free settlers were compelled to leave the island, which remained unoccupied for about twenty years, and at the end of this time it was made a penal settlement for the punishment of refractory convicts, which it still continues to be,—one of the finest spots upon earth degraded into the abode of the vilest of human beings,—the scum of the outcast population of a great and civilized nation. And, to heighten the horror of the contrast between things natural and things spiritual in Norfolk Island, there was not, until recently, a single minister of Christ’s Church resident within its bounds; so that where Nature’s sun was shining most beauteously, and Nature’s sights and sounds were most lovely and enchanting, there the outcast souls[115] of a rich and christian population were left to perish, without being able to catch a ray of the Sun of Righteousness, without a chance (so to speak) of hearing the sound of the gospel [Pg 226] of Christ: they might there listen in their lonely wretchedness to the rise and fall of the tide of that ocean by which their little island is surrounded, but they were shut out for ever, it would seem, from the voice of the great multitude of the faithful, “as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth!”

The relinquishment of the settlement at Norfolk Island, under Governor King’s administration, after the money that had been spent upon it, and the success which was attending that expenditure, might well appear to be a hasty and imprudent act; but, undoubtedly, in its consequences it turned out beneficial to Great Britain. Instead of Norfolk Island, another much larger, and far more important spot, which might otherwise have been occupied by foreigners, was colonized by British subjects; and Van Diemen’s Land, from the extent of its present wealth and population, besides its nearer resemblance than other Australian colonies to the climate of the mother country, may justly be esteemed one of the most valuable possessions of the British crown. The history of the foundation of this new colony may here be shortly detailed. It was resolved that a fresh settlement, which might be free from the objections brought against Norfolk Island, should be formed; and, in 1804, Port Phillip, an extensive harbour on the southern coast of New Holland, was the spot chosen for this purpose. But Colonel Collins, who had the command of the party of colonists, found the eastern side of Port Phillip very little suited to his object; and without examining its western side, which has been lately very rapidly and successfully settled, the colonel sailed at once along the western coast of Van Diemen’s Land, took possession of that extensive island in the name of his Britannic Majesty, and, after various surveys, decided upon the [Pg 227] spot where Hobart Town now stands, for his headquarters. The little settlement then consisted only of a few gentlemen holding official situations, fifty marines, and four hundred prisoners. The place selected for headquarters was well chosen, being upon the Derwent, a beautiful and navigable river, and having a good supply of water. In the same year, 1804, another settlement was formed on the opposite, or northern, side of Van Diemen’s Land; it was situated at the mouth of the River Tamar, near George Town, and was called York Town, but it was afterwards abandoned. The usual trials to which newly-planted colonies are exposed, fell also to the lot of that settled by Colonel Collins in Van Diemen’s Land; but its struggles into life were by no means so intense, or so prolonged, as those of its sister colony. At one time when a disappointment occurred in the usual supplies, the hind-quarters of kangaroos were received into His Majesty’s store, at sixpence per pound, and it is said that in six months no less than 15,000lbs. of this meat were there tendered. After some years of occasional scarcity, during which, once, even kangaroo flesh was sold at one shilling and sixpence the pound, and sea-weed, or any other eatable vegetable, was equally dear, the colony began to take root and to increase, still continuing, however, its original character of a penal settlement—a place of punishment for the convicted felons of New South Wales. Cattle and live stock rapidly increased, land became more and more cultivated, houses were built, farms enclosed, free emigrants began to arrive, Hobart Town became a place of some trade and importance, and at last, in 1821, or thereabouts, only seventeen years after the first establishment of the colony, St. David’s Church, at Hobart Town, was, we read, “completed and opened.”[116] What attention was paid to the [Pg 228] spiritual welfare of the poor creatures in this new penal colony during the long interval that elapsed before the occurrence of that great event, it seems hard to say; but, judging from what we have already seen, we may be quite certain of this, that no less care was taken of them, than had formerly been bestowed upon those of a similar character in Norfolk Island.

While Captain King held the government of New South Wales, a subject began to attract the notice of the colonial authorities, which afterwards proved to be one of the highest importance, both to the settlement and likewise to the mother country, namely, the introduction and increase of free settlers. According to Dr. Lang, the first free settlers who emigrated to New South Wales arrived there during Governor Hunter’s administration, which began in August, 1795; but by other writers it is stated that five settlers and their families arrived by the Bellona, in January 1798, so that these may justly be considered the first free emigrants that removed from Europe to Australia.[117] The conditions under which they engaged to settle were, that their passage out should be provided by government, that an assortment of tools and implements should be furnished them, that they should be supplied for two years with provisions, that their lands should be granted free of expense, and that convicts should be assigned for their service, and provided with provisions for two years, and clothing for one. Besides these few emigrants, many of the soldiers and officers, and some of the released convicts, had grants of land given to them; but, generally speaking, their agricultural efforts were not very successful, and military men seemed as little capable of becoming good farmers [Pg 229] as pickpockets were. Yet, as if to show what might have been done by prudence and thrift, in many cases, a few instances of proper carefulness and attendant success are recorded; and one man, to whom, in common with many others, Governor Phillip had given an ewe for breeding, in 1792, having withstood all temptations to part with this treasure, found himself, in 1799, possessed of a flock of 116 sheep, and in a fair way of becoming a man of property.

But there was an individual, whose name and history are upon record, to whom the claim of a yet earlier settlement, as a free person, must be assigned. His history is instructive, and may be worth repeating, since it is, probably, a specimen of what afterwards occurred in a vast number of instances. Philip Schoeffer was a German, who had been sent out with the first fleet that ever sailed to New South Wales, in the capacity of an agriculturist, and chiefly with a view to the cultivation of tobacco (to supersede that of Virginia,) in the proposed settlement. His first grant of land was one hundred and forty acres; but, unhappily, he fell into habits of intemperance, and got rid of it all. Afterwards, he obtained another grant of fifty acres, in what now forms a very valuable situation in the town of Sydney; but this he was induced to give up to the Colonial Government for public purposes, about the year 1807, receiving in return twenty gallons of rum, which were then worth 60l. and a grant of the same extent with his former one, but situated at Pitt Water, one of the inlets of Broken Bay—a large harbour to the northward of Port Jackson. Schoeffer then married a wife, a Scotch woman and a convict, and settled on his farm at Pitt Water, where he lived many years; but old age, poverty, and intemperance induced him to sell it by piecemeal, and he died at last in the benevolent asylum or colonial [Pg 230] poor-house. This short history may serve to show upon what mere accidents the foundation of wealth frequently depends, and especially in a new country; for, if the German could only have kept his farm of fifty acres in Sydney for about thirty years longer, he or his successors might actually have sold it for 100,000l.!

After the landing of the few free settlers already mentioned, which took place while Captain Hunter was governor, the next arrival deserving of notice appears to have been about a dozen families of Scotch Presbyterians, who established themselves under similar conditions with the first emigrants, and whose place of abode was near Portland Head, on the banks of the Hawkesbury. These men seem to have been a quiet and orderly, as well as a prudent, set of people; and their industry was rewarded by success. The zeal and devotion which were exhibited by them in religious matters were also very praiseworthy, and not less so because, according to Captain Bligh, it was the only case of the kind he had ever heard of, during his government of the colony. A building for public worship was erected by them,[118] at a cost of upwards of 400l., and altogether the conduct of these Scotch emigrants reflected credit upon the country and religious body to which they belonged. But, while we award to these persons the praise which is their due, we are by no means entitled to place to the account of their being Presbyterians the good order and right feeling which they exhibited. Scotchmen are proverbially more fond of colonization than Englishmen, and hence it naturally occurred that almost the first respectable settlers were Scotch farmers; but there is no reason to question,—nay, experience has since [Pg 231] proved,—that Englishmen of similar character, and placed in the like circumstances, can conduct themselves not less piously and properly, and will not yield to the disciples of John Calvin or John Knox in their reverence and devotion for a more apostolical Church than that of Scotland. However, it must be owned with sorrow that these instances of religious feeling and zeal were by no means common among the first settlers; nor is this a subject of surprise, when we recollect that, even now, Australia is frequently looked upon as a last refuge for those who can do well nowhere else; and if it be thought so now, much more must this impression have prevailed in the days of its earlier settlers. But, from whatever class, or with whatever failings, they might come, a few fresh settlers continued from year to year to find their way to the shores of New Holland; and, in due time, the tide of emigration was destined to set full into that quarter, carrying with it a portion of the population and wealth of the mother country, together with all its luxuries, its arts, its vices, and its virtues.

In August, 1806, Captain King resigned his office, and was succeeded in the government of New South Wales by Captain Bligh, also of the royal navy. His name is well known from the history of the mutiny of the crew in the ship Bounty, which he had formerly commanded; and he was not less unfortunate on shore, in the art of governing his fellow-creatures. With many good qualities and excellent intentions, his manner of ruling men was not either happy or successful. But before we proceed to the great event in colonial history, which brought to a sudden termination the reign of Governor Bligh, it will be well to notice a remarkable occurrence which happened soon after he came into power. The banks of the river Hawkesbury have already been stated to be distinguished for their fertility; and at this time [Pg 232] they formed the chief source from which the supply of wheat for the colony was drawn. Many acres of land had been cleared there, and the whole district, with smiling farms scattered about upon the rising banks of the beautiful stream, offered one of the most pleasing scenes in the whole settlement. But, within the first year of the government of Captain Bligh, the farmers on the Hawkesbury, and indeed the whole colony, were doomed to undergo a severe trial.[119] In March 1799, the river had been known to rise suddenly to the enormous height of fifty feet, and the destruction of property which had been then occasioned was very great.[120] But now, without any considerable rains having fallen upon the eastern side of the Blue Mountains, between that range and the sea, the river rose, in one place at least, to the enormous height of ninety-three feet, so that buildings, stock, or corn, which were not secured upon rising ground equal in height to that of an ordinary church-tower, must have been overwhelmed and borne away by the flood. It is said that a settler, whose house stood on an eminence at a beautiful bend of the Hawkesbury, saw no less than thirty stacks of wheat at one time floating down the stream during a flood, some of them being covered with pigs and poultry, who had thus vainly sought safety from the rising of the waters. The consequences [Pg 233] of this unexpected disaster were very calamitous, and before the ensuing harvest could be begun, wheat and Indian corn attained an equal value, and were sold at 1l. 8s. or 1l. 10s. per bushel. Even eleven years afterwards, when a similar overflow, though not equal to “the great flood,” occurred, prices were raised enormously, and but for an importation of wheat from Van Diemen’s Land, they would have been very little short of those in the year 1806. Governor Bligh appears to have done all that a governor could do to lessen the distress that prevailed, by ordering a number of the cattle belonging to government to be slaughtered and divided among the sufferers, and by encouraging, to the utmost extent of his power, the cultivation of a large breadth of land in wheat for the ensuing season. By these means, under Divine Providence, the colony again became able to supply itself with daily bread; a capability of which, like many other blessings, nations scarcely know the value and importance, until they are deprived, or deprive themselves of it.[121]

From whatever cause it might arise,—whether from his opposition to the practice of all the chief persons in the colony making a profit by the sale of spirits,[122]—or from his dislike of the New South Wales Corps,—or from his own harsh and tyrannical conduct,—whether, in short, we listen to Governor Bligh’s admirers or enemies, thus much is certain: he was excessively unpopular with a large and powerful party of men in the settlement. Without entering into the particulars of the extraordinary [Pg 234] treatment to which his Majesty’s representative in that distant colony was subjected, it may be sufficient to state that, in consequence of the imprisonment of Mr. Macarthur, an old officer, and a rich and influential settler, great disturbance was excited, which ended in the seizure of the governor’s person, and in the occupation of his office and authority by Major Johnston, the commanding officer of the New South Wales Corps, who assumed the authority of lieutenant-governor in January, 1808, and issued some proclamations ordering various changes among those in authority. In one of these proclamations a day of thanksgiving is appointed to be kept for the recent transactions; and in the same precious document the Rev. Henry Fulton is suspended from discharging his duty as chaplain to the colony,[123] because, whatever may have been the faults of his former life,[124] like most other clergymen of the Church of England, on most other occasions, he had at this time stood fast to his loyalty.

The confusion resulting from the seizure of the governor was lamentable indeed in a colony at the best of times so difficult to be managed. All public meetings were forbidden by the party in power, and our old friends, the Presbyterians at Portland Head, whose loyalty to the governor on this occasion was very creditable, had well nigh got into trouble from their meeting together on “the Sabbath” for public worship. The object of the intruders was to get rid of Captain Bligh as well as they could, and accordingly he was [Pg 235] sent off to England in command of the Porpoise, but he remained from March to December, 1809, off the coast of Van Diemen’s Land, daily expecting despatches from the home government, until at last, on December 28th, his intended successor, Colonel Macquarie, arrived at Sydney. This last gentleman was ordered to reinstate Captain Bligh in the government of the colony for the period of twenty-four hours after his own arrival; but in consequence of Bligh’s absence from Sydney, this was not done. However, Major Johnston was sent home under strict arrest, and, after various delays, he was tried for mutiny, by a court-martial, in May 1811, and found guilty, but was only sentenced to be cashiered, the court considering the peculiar circumstances of the case sufficient to excuse him from a more severe punishment. Captain Bligh was, upon his return to England, immediately promoted to the rank of rear-admiral, and employed in active service; while the New South Wales Corps, which had certainly been long enough in the colony from which it drew its name, was ordered home, and the 73d regiment sent out to supply its place.

The first acts of the new governor, Colonel Macquarie, were to declare the king’s displeasure at the late mutinous proceedings, and to render null and void all the acts of the usurping party, most of whose measures were, however, ratified, their bills upon the Treasury honoured, and their grants of land confirmed. The continuance of Governor Macquarie in power for no less than twelve years, during which peace and tranquillity, undisturbed by any very severe trials, prevailed throughout the settlement, offers but very few of those events which make a figure in the history of the past:—

“Famine and plague, the earthquake and the storm,
Man’s angry passions, war’s terrific form,
The tyrant’s threatenings, and the people’s rage,
These are the crowded woes of History’s page.”

[Pg 236] During the period of which we are now treating, vast improvements and extensive discoveries were made in New South Wales; and in all these, or similar, arts of peace the governor delighted to bear an active and leading part. Availing himself of the means at his disposal, and of the abundance of convict-labour, he made, it is said, no less than 276 miles of good roads during his administration; and, when the nature of the country along which many of these were carried is taken into account, this exploit alone reflects no small credit upon Governor Macquarie. In the year 1813 the colony was enabled, by the courage and perseverance of three gentlemen, to burst those bonds by which it had hitherto been hemmed in within the limits of a narrow strip of land running along the sea-coast. In that year a passage across the Blue Mountains, hitherto thought insuperable, was at length made good; and the hungry sheep and cattle which had been suffering from the prevailing drought in the settlement, were speedily driven over the hills to enjoy the less withered pastures and green plains of the western country. No sooner was this district thus opened than the governor commenced making a road over the mountains, and in this he succeeded after no very long delay, so that a good communication was formed between Sydney and Bathurst Plains, a distance of more than 100 miles, about 50 of which cross an extent of country the most rugged, mountainous, and barren, that can be imagined.

In public buildings Governor Macquarie showed no less activity than in road-making, although his efforts in the former line have not met with unmingled and universal approbation. Certainly, the means by which, what was then called, “the Rum Hospital” was built were, if they are correctly reported by Dr. Lang, disgraceful and mischievous in the highest [Pg 237] degree.[125] However, the improvements that were made in the rising towns, especially in the capital, of the colony, may well demand our admiration, even though, as usual in estimating the deeds of fallen man, we must allow that much evil might have been avoided, and that a large proportion of moral mischief was mingled with the improvements.

The great and distinguishing feature, after all, of Colonel Macquarie’s government appears to have been the studious, and not always judicious, patronage extended by him to the emancipated convicts, whom he generally considered in preference to the free settlers. In consequence of this, the last-named class were thrown into the background, a kind of check was given to emigration, and, what was worst of all, two parties were set on foot within the settlement, altogether opposed to each other;—the exclusionists, who were free settlers, refused to associate at all with those that had ever been convicts; and the emancipists considered that a convict, after his time of punishment had expired, was just as good as any other man. It was absurd, indeed, although no more than usually happens, to see men of the humblest, if not of the lowest, classes in the mother country, suddenly aspiring to become exclusive and grand in the colony. And, on the other hand, it was a pretty sure sign that the convicts, though emancipated from their shackles, were not well rid of their vice or impudence, when they laid claim, even with the aid of a governor’s encouragement, and often of great wealth not very scrupulously acquired, to the highest society and most important offices in the settlement. Undoubtedly, one great object in a penal colony should be that of gradually purifying the population from all disgraceful or [Pg 238] vicious associations; but the hasty attempts of a governor to elevate a class like that of the emancipated convicts were sure to end rather in their depression. Time, and a succeeding generation, would have done quietly what Colonel Macquarie, with all his power, was unable to accomplish. If a governor cannot make pickpockets become good farmers, still less likely is he to succeed in endeavouring to make good magistrates of them; but a few years, under judicious management, might easily produce from among their children admirable specimens of both. And nothing can be a greater hindrance to this desirable result than hasty and ill-timed, though well-intended, attempts to force out of their proper sphere those persons, who, if they are really possessed of any sense, would, of all men, desire to keep within it.

In reckoning up the principal occurrences during the twelve years in which Colonel Macquarie ruled the colony, the vast additions which were made to our knowledge of the country are by no means to be overlooked. Bathurst Plains and the pass to them through the Blue Mountains were, as we have already seen, discovered; the district of Argyle to the south-westward was also made known. Two rivers, named after the governor, who was (it is reported) fond of such compliments, the Lachlan and the Macquarie, were traced westward of the Blue Mountains, until they were supposed to lose themselves in endless and impassable swamps. Northwards, the River Hastings, and a large extent of country suitable for flocks and herds, called Liverpool Plains, were discovered. Besides which, three penal settlements for the punishment of unruly convicts were formed, one at Emu Plains, another at Newcastle, near the mouth of the River Hunter, and a third at Port Macquarie, at the mouth of the Hastings.

[Pg 239] But the mention of new penal settlements, in which the punishment and removal of gross offenders were the only objects, while the reformation and salvation of those poor men were never thought of, forcibly recalls us to a subject of which we have for some time lost sight, and which must be once more noticed before the history of the rise and early progress of the colony of New South Wales is completed. Where was the Church all this time? What was the Church of England doing in the now flourishing settlement of Australia? How far did the state follow at once both its duty and its interest, and employ in the work of reformation in this land of criminals those heavenly instruments, the Bible and the Church? The reply to all these inquiries is briefly made, but the national sin and shame involved in that short reply it might need volumes to unfold.

In 1821, at the end of Macquarie’s government, there was scattered about in the colony a population of 29,783, of whom 13,814 were convicts, and among these were found ministering seven clergymen of the Church of England, with no bishop of that Church to “set things in order”[126] nearer than the Antipodes,—the very opposite side of the habitable globe! Nor, if we look (as unhappily now in every English colony we must look,) beyond the pale of the English Church, shall we find either Romish superstition or Dissenting zeal working any of their usual wonders. Though the number of Romanists from Ireland was very great in the colony, yet they had, in 1821, only one priest residing among them; the Presbyterians at Portland Head had a catechist only, and with respect to the other “denominations” little or nothing is recorded:—the establishment had taken as yet so poor a hold of the soil of New South [Pg 240] Wales, that the voluntary system, which seems often to need its support, as ivy needs the support of a tree, had scarcely been transplanted thither. One observation, before we quit for the present this painful subject, forces itself upon the mind. How utterly unlike are the ways of an All-Perfect God from the ways of imperfect fallen men! The King of kings desireth not the death of any sinner, and has wrought miracles upon miracles of mercy to provide for his salvation; whereas man regardeth not the spiritual life of his brethren, earthly monarchs and nations care chiefly about the removal of the offenders out of their sight, and, so long as this is effected, they trouble not themselves about the future lot of those outcasts; money is more willingly parted with for “penal settlements” than for religious instruction, and, although the earthly wants of the criminals are attended to, here humanity stops short;—if their bodies are not cast out to starve and to perish their souls are. And who cannot read in holy Scripture the just doom of those that have acted, or are acting, thus? “The wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood will I require at thine hand.”[127]

Having now brought down the history of the colony of New South Wales to a period when it might be said to be firmly established and flourishing, both party feeling and needless details may best be avoided by stopping here, yet it will not form an unsuitable conclusion to this chapter to borrow General Macquarie’s account of his own doings, although this may be somewhat tinctured with that vanity, which is said to have been his greatest weakness:—“I found the colony,” he states, in a Report to Earl Bathurst, “barely emerging from infantile imbecility, and suffering from various privations [Pg 241] and disabilities; the country impenetrable beyond 40 miles from Sydney; agriculture in a yet languishing state; commerce in its early dawn; revenue unknown; threatened with famine; distracted by faction; the public buildings in a state of dilapidation, and mouldering to decay; the few roads and bridges formerly constructed rendered almost impassable; the population in general depressed by poverty; no public credit nor private confidence; the morals of the great mass of the population in the lowest state of debasement, and religious worship almost totally neglected.[128] Such was the state of New South Wales when I took charge of its administration on the 1st of January, 1810. I left it in February last, reaping incalculable advantages from my extensive and important discoveries in all directions, including the supposed insurmountable barrier called the Blue Mountains, to the westward of which are situated the fertile plains of Bathurst; and in all respects [?] enjoying a state of private comfort and public prosperity, which I trust will at least equal the expectations of His Majesty’s Government. On my taking the command of the colony in the year 1810, the amount of port duties collected did not exceed 8000l. per annum, and there were only 50l. or 60l. of a balance in the Treasurer’s hands; but now (in 1822,) duties are collected [Pg 242] at Port Jackson to the amount of from 28,000l. to 30,000l. per annum. In addition to this annual colonial revenue, there are port duties, collected at Hobart Town and George Town in Van Diemen’s Land, to the amount of between 8000l. and 10,000l. per annum.”[129]

[Pg 243]

image north view of sydney.




The next objects that demand our notice in Australia are the British colonies, and their present inhabitants. We have already given our attention to the Bush and its wild inhabitants, and the lengthened yet rapid process by which a lonely bay was converted, within the space of little more than forty years, into the flourishing capital of a rising country, has been fully traced. It now remains for the reader to be made acquainted with the natural features, civil divisions, and present state of the British Australian colonies,—especially of the oldest and most important of them, called New South Wales. Were we not already informed of the sad reality of things, we might be tempted to indulge in the daydreams of an explorer, and to join in the bright and hopeful visions of a most pleasing writer, respecting the blessings to arise out of a change of any district from wild bush to civilized colony. But dreams of this nature are little better than vanity, and so our explorer [Pg 244] himself tells us at the end of his narrative:—“Whilst I stretched my weary length,” says Captain Grey, “along, under the pleasant shade, I saw in fancy busy crowds throng the scenes I was then amongst. I pictured to myself the bleating sheep and lowing herds wandering over these fertile hills; and I chose the very spot on which my house should stand, surrounded with as fine an amphitheatre of verdant land as the eye of man had ever gazed on. The view was backed by the Victoria Range, whilst seaward you looked out through a romantic glen upon the great Indian ocean. I knew that within four or five years civilization would have followed my tracks, and that rude nature and the savage would no longer reign supreme over so fine a territory. Mr. Smith entered eagerly into my thoughts and views; together we built these castles in the air, trusting we should see happy results spring from our present sufferings and labours,—but within a few weeks from this day he died in the wilds he was exploring.”[130] So little are the brilliant hopes inspired by discovery to be depended upon, nor less uncertain are the expectations which the colonization of a district awakens in our hearts. We cannot but look for good results, yet frequently are we doomed to disappointment.

However, the assurance of the superintendence of Divine Providence may check all misgivings; and under this wholesome persuasion we may proceed to consider the present condition of that country, which has been recently settled and civilized on the eastern coast of New Holland, and which is known by the name of New South Wales. It is manifestly impossible, in describing a territory like this, continually increasing and enlarging itself, whilst at the same time much of the country [Pg 245] already within its bounds is barren and almost unknown, to maintain that accuracy which we are accustomed to find in descriptions of the counties or districts of our own well-defined and cultivated island. Yet, in New South Wales, as in Great Britain, the territory is divided into counties, and occasionally into parishes; and it may serve to give the reader a general idea of the whole country, if each of these former divisions is briefly noticed.

The county called Cumberland is the most populous and important, although by no means the most fertile, in the whole province. It contains the capital, Sydney, and the thriving towns of Paramatta, Liverpool, Windsor, Richmond, &c.; so that in population it far exceeds all the others. It is described as an undulating plain, extending from north to south about fifty-three miles, and in breadth from the sea to the base of the Blue Mountains, upwards of forty miles. The coast is generally bold and rocky, and to the distance of a few miles inland the soil is a poor sandstone, and the country looks bleak and barren; further from the sea its appearance improves, an undulating country extends itself to the width of about ten miles, and this district, where it has been left in its natural state, has the appearance of a noble forest, but, although partially cultivated, the soil still continues poor, for it rests upon a foundation of sandstone. Beyond this, the soil becomes better, the trees are less numerous, the herbage more luxuriant, the scenery beautifully varied, the hills are generally more fertile than the valleys, and the farms and cultivated spots are very numerous. In the valleys of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers, the richness of the soil is very great, and the plains are extensive. One great evil, the scarcity of good water, has been very much felt in this country, but it is expected that by [Pg 246] boring, the deficiency may be supplied. The coast of Cumberland is broken and indented by many creeks or inlets, the most remarkable of which is the noble harbour of Port Jackson. The county of Cumberland is said to contain about 900,000 acres, of which not more than one-third is fit for cultivation, and all the good land in it has been long since granted away. Unfortunately, that part of the country which is most fertile and preferable, is the very part where scarcely any natural springs are to be found, for, although these are abundant on the coast, and in the sandstone country, beyond that line they are rarely met with; and, since the tides flow to a considerable distance up all the rivers, the water of these is in many parts of the district brackish and unfit for use; besides which, in the summer-time, the smaller streams become dry, or dwindle down into mere chains of ponds, barely sufficient to supply the wants of the cattle.

The next county to the southward of Cumberland is named Camden, which continues the line of coast, extending itself about sixty-six miles in length, and being in breadth, towards the interior, about fifty-five miles. This is a more mountainous district than Cumberland, and abounds in lofty timber, but, nevertheless, there are several large tracts of great fertility contained within its limits. The district called Illawarra, or the Five Islands, and that of the Cow Pastures, are the most remarkable; and being both of them rural districts, they may be briefly described here. Illawarra is a very peculiar spot: it is situated immediately between the sea and a range of high hills, so steep that they are almost impassable, while on the remaining side, upon which neither of these two boundaries enclose it, Illawarra is bounded by the Shoal Haven River. The district thus separated by nature from the adjoining country, extends about eighteen miles [Pg 247] along the coast, and is said to comprise 150,000 acres of most beautiful scenery and very fertile soil. The greater part of Illawarra is heavily timbered, and it is said to be not well fitted for the rearing of sheep; but for the plough its deep vegetable soil is admirably suited, and whenever the land begins to feel the effect of repeated cropping, there are means of enriching it at hand in the large heaps of decayed shells to be found upon the sea-shore, which would furnish an excellent manure. The communication between this fertile spot, and the nearest market of any consequence, Sydney, is carried on almost entirely by water; and the Shoal Haven River being navigable for vessels of eighty or ninety tons to the distance of twenty miles up the country, affords the ready means of conveying produce to the capital from many parts of Illawarra. Besides this navigable river, the southern boundary of the district, there are many smaller streams which issue from the mountains to the north and west, so that the country is well watered, besides which advantage it is said to have a larger share of rain than many other parts of the colony, and to be sheltered from the blighting winds which occasionally have proved destructive to the crops elsewhere. The mountain range by which Illawarra is shut in, partakes of the general fertility of the neighbourhood below, and it is supposed, from its eastern aspect, and mild climate, to offer spots favourable for the cultivation of the vine. The timber of the district is very profitable, when felled, and highly ornamental where it is left standing. Indeed, the immense fern-trees, shooting up their rough stems, like large oars, to the height of fifteen or twenty feet, and then suddenly putting forth leaves in every direction, four or five feet in length, and exactly like the leaf of the common fern,—the different kinds of palms rising to the height of seventy or one hundred feet, and then forming large [Pg 248] canopies of leaves; the cedars, the undergrowth of wild vines, creeping plants and shrubs, in rich abundance; all combine to remind the visitor of a tropical climate, of a more northern, or as Englishmen would naturally say, more southern, climate than that of Illawarra.

Respecting the Cow Pastures, the rural district, which, next to Illawarra, is most deserving of notice in the county of Camden, little further need be added to what has been already stated in another place. Instead of cow pastures, however, nearly the whole of the 60,000 acres of good land, which form this district, have now become sheep farms; and the soil appears to be very suitable to the growth and perfection of the last-named animal. Towards the southern and eastern parts of the cow pastures are numerous streams, which retain water even in dry weather, and which communicate with the Nepean River. There do not appear to be any towns deserving of mention in the county of Camden, and its population is small and rural: it is crossed in every direction by steep ridges of hills, which almost always tower upwards like the roof of a house, and where the country is mountainous, meet so close as to leave only a narrow ravine betwixt them.

The adjoining county, which may be next noticed, is that of Argyle, an inland district, not having any front whatever towards the ocean, and lying to the south-westward of the county last described. Argyle is about sixty miles in length, with an average breadth of thirty miles; it is a lofty and broken region, and abounds in small rivulets and ponds, containing water during the whole of the year. It is also well furnished with timber, although there are places where the trees are scattered sparingly, and likewise plains of considerable extent, entirely bare of trees. Of this description are Goulburn’s Plains, which consist of open downs, affording [Pg 249] good pasturage for sheep, and extending twenty miles southward from the township to which they owe their name, their breadth being about ten. There are some remarkable lakes in this county, or near its borders, the two largest of which are called Lake George and Lake Bathurst. Some of the old natives say that they can remember when these lakes did not exist; and dead trees are found in the bed of Lake George, the whole of which was, in October 1836, dried up, and like a grassy meadow.[131]

Bathurst is another inland county, lying nearly due west of Cumberland, but not adjoining it, which may deserve to be briefly described. In looking over a map of the colony of New South Wales, it appears strange that counties, like this, comparatively remote both from the capital and from the sea, should be more known and flourishing than others lying betwixt them and these important objects. But when we reflect upon the nature of the country, and remember that the intervening counties are in a great measure occupied by the Blue Mountains, with their tremendous ravines and dreary sandstone wastes, all wonder will cease at finding the green pastures and smiling country beyond the mountains occupied, while the rugged tract is suffered to remain for the most part in its natural state, and instead of becoming populous itself, is employed only as a channel of communication between the consuming population on the coast and the producing population of the more fertile interior. Bathurst is in length seventy-two miles, and in breadth sixty-eight, in shape somewhat approaching to an irregular square. No part of this district was explored before 1813. It is, in general, a kind of broken table-land, in some places forming extensive [Pg 250] and bare downs, as, for instance, Bathurst Plains, containing 50,000 acres. Occasional open downs of this kind, and not unlike the South Downs in England, extend along the banks of the Macquarie for upwards of one hundred miles. Bathurst is reckoned one of the most flourishing and desirable situations in the whole colony, and the view of these plains from the high land to the eastward upon the road from Sydney is very interesting. The prospect of an extensive district naturally destitute of timber is rare in Australia, and therefore it surprises and pleases the eye of the traveller. Bathurst Plains form, however, by no means a dead level, but consist rather of a series of gentle elevations, with intervening flats of moderate extent; the surrounding forest is rather thin, and patches of it extend irregularly to some distance in the plains, like points of land projecting into a lake.

The green pastures and naturally clear state of this district, formed the first inducements to settlers to occupy a spot, which is now distant from Sydney by the road 121 miles, about fifty of which cross the wildest and most barren mountains imaginable, and which then had no road at all leading to it, except a difficult mountain-pass only recently discovered; consequently, the district was portioned out chiefly in large grants to persons whose means enabled them to cope with the difficulties of approaching the new settlement; and the society at Bathurst Plains is esteemed very good; possibly it may be all the better for its distance from the capital. But the best proof of the goodness of the society in this neighbourhood is the attention which the inhabitants are stated to pay to their religious duties, and the harmony in which they live with one another.[132] The situation of Bathurst Plains is an [Pg 251] exceedingly high one, being more than 2000 feet above the level of the sea; and this elevation, rendering the climate much cooler,[133] produces the same vegetable productions in the parallel latitude of Sydney with those that are to be found in Van Diemen’s Land, ten degrees farther to the south. Bathurst is said to be a very healthy climate; wonders are told of the climate of New South Wales generally, and yet we are informed that “the cheeks of the children beyond the mountains have a rosy tint, which is seldom observable in the lowlands of the colony.” However, notwithstanding all that may be said, disease and death can find out their victims even in Bathurst Plains.

“Guilt’s fatal doom in vain would mortals fly,
And they that breathe the purest air must die.”

The county of Northumberland is one of the most important and valuable in the colony; it is upon the sea-coast, and adjoins Cumberland, being bounded on the south by the river Hawkesbury, and on the north by the Hunter. Its length is about 60 miles, and its breadth about 50: whilst its general appearance is undulating, with high table lands dispersed among the hills, and it is well watered by many streams and rivulets. Within this county are two great sources of worldly wealth,—the coal-mines near one of its principal towns, Newcastle, and the rich productive farms in the valley of the Hunter. The last-named river is navigable for small craft for fifty miles above Newcastle, which is a thriving little port, and boats may ascend two of its three principal branches for about 120 and 200 miles, [Pg 252] but the navigation is liable to be interrupted by sudden and tremendous floods.[134]

Coal is to be found in several parts of New South Wales, but it is most abundant in the country to the south of Hunter’s River, which forms part of the county of Northumberland. Even at some distance from the shore, the black lines of coal may be seen in the cliffs upon the coast, and the coal-pits in this neighbourhood are worked with comparatively little trouble. The Australian Agricultural Company have obtained a grant of these from government: and, as a specimen of the demand for coals some years ago, it may be stated, that, in 1836, there were sold at the pit’s mouth 12,646 tons for 5,747l., being at about the rate of nine shillings per ton. Since that time the consumption has been very rapidly increasing, and steam navigation has now become common in the colony;[135] so that, besides the manufactories of Sydney, and the supply of private families, there is an additional demand for fuel created by the steam-boats plying constantly along that remote coast, which only a century ago no European had yet beheld. It is also reported that iron is to be found in New South Wales, at no great distance from the coal which is so necessary to smelt it; and, if this be true, with these two principal causes of the wealth of the mother country concealed within its bosom, it is quite possible that, in the course of time, the colony may rival, or outstrip, England itself in worldly prosperity.

But, however valuable these elements may be, the riches of a country are based upon more important pursuits than mining or manufactures, and in those fundamental sources of wealth,—in agriculture and its [Pg 253] kindred occupations,—the county of Northumberland stands foremost in New South Wales. Not even the rich valleys of the Hawkesbury and Nepean rivers can excel in fruitfulness or in cultivation that of Hunter’s River. Wheat and maize are among the chief productions of this fine agricultural district, of which Maitland is the principal town. Potatoes, tobacco, cheese, and butter are also forwarded to Sydney for sale from this highly favoured spot. Were it not for the fearful floods to which, in common with many other rivers in the colony, Hunter’s River is liable, altogether this valley, and the arms, or branch valleys, which lead into it, might well be esteemed among the finest situations in the world; and now that this liability is well known, and may be provided against, the objections arising on this score are greatly diminished. Still, a flood rising suddenly forty or sixty feet, and pouring with headlong fury down the peaceful cultivated valleys, is a just object of dread, and a tremendous visitation.

We cannot leave the subject of this rich and beautiful district, abounding in inhabitants and rural wealth, without borrowing the words of the Bishop of Australia in describing its recent increase in those means of grace and hopes of glory, which are, after all, the only true riches. In 1833, when this neighbourhood was visited, “there was but one clergyman in the entire tract of country, extending from the mouth of the Hunter to its source, and the great and growing population on its banks would have appeared, (if we could have forgotten the ability of God to raise up children to himself, and to provide them with spiritual food even from the stones of the desert,) to be abandoned to inevitable destitution, both they and their children. But it has pleased the Almighty to cause the prospect to brighten, and now (in 1839) there will be seven clergymen dispensing the [Pg 254] pure ordinances and inculcating the salutary principles of the Church.”[136]

It would be at once wasting time and presuming upon the reader’s patience to attempt to describe particularly the remaining counties of New South Wales, which are yet but imperfectly known and partially colonized. It will be sufficient to notice the names of the others, which, together with those described above, amount to nineteen in number. Besides Cumberland, Camden, Argyle, Bathurst, and Northumberland, the counties of Cook, Westmoreland, Roxburgh, Wellington, Phillip, Bligh, Brisbane, Hunter, Gloucester, Georgiana, King’s County, Murray, Durham, and St. Vincent’s, may deserve to be mentioned by name, but nothing especially worthy of notice suggests itself respecting them. We may turn, therefore, from the rural districts, and take a rapid view of the principal towns of New South Wales. Among these the capital, Sydney, claims the first place, not less as a matter of right than of courtesy. By a happy concurrence of events, the very first settlement made upon the eastern coast of New Holland was formed upon one of its most eligible spots; and accordingly that town, which ranks first in point of time, is likely always to rank first in population, in size, in commerce, and in wealth. The harbour alone would offer advantages enough to secure considerable importance to a town erected upon its shores, and before Sydney itself is more minutely described, we may borrow the account of Port Jackson, which has been given by one well acquainted with its scenery, and himself by birth an Australian.[137] It is navigable for fifteen miles from its entrance, that is, seven miles beyond Sydney; and in every part there is [Pg 255] good anchorage and complete shelter from all winds. Its entrance is three quarters of a mile in width, and afterwards expands into a spacious basin, fifteen miles long, and in some places three broad, with depth of water sufficient for vessels of the largest size. The harbour is said to have 100 coves, and there is room within it for all the shipping in the world. The views from its shores are varied and beautiful. Looking towards the sea, the eye catches at a single glance the numerous bays and islets between the town and the headlands at the entrance of the harbour, while the bold hills by which it is bounded end abruptly on the coast. To the north a long chain of lofty rugged cliffs mark the bearing of the shore in that direction, and turning southwards, the spectator beholds, seven or eight miles distant, the spacious harbour of Botany Bay, beyond which a high bluff range of hills extends along to the south in the direction towards Illawarra. Westward one vast forest is to be seen, varied only by occasional openings which cultivation and the axe have made on the tops of some of the highest hills. Beyond the numberless undulations of this wooded country the Blue Mountains are espied, towering behind the whole background of the scene, and forming a stately boundary to the prospect. This description of the scenery of Port Jackson applies to a particular spot very near to Sydney, but the views are similar in general character, though infinitely varied in detail, at other places in the neighbourhood; and nearer to the entrance of the harbour a new and still grander object breaks upon the sight:—

“Where the mighty Pacific with soft-swelling waves
A thousand bright regions eternally laves.”

Upon this beautiful and convenient piece of water, which has been just described, is the capital of the principal [Pg 256] British colony in Australia situated. It is chiefly built upon two hilly necks of land, enclosing between them a small inlet, named Sydney Cove. The western of these two projections divides Sydney Cove from another called Cockle Bay, in both of which the water is deep enough to allow the approach of the largest ships to the very sides of the rocks. On this western neck, (which is occupied with houses down to the water’s edge, besides many others which extend into the country behind,) the town forms a little peninsula, being surrounded with water everywhere, except where it adjoins the mainland. On the eastern neck of land the increase of the town has been stopped by the government-house, and its adjoining domains, which occupy the whole of what is called Bennillong’s Point. With the exception of the portion of the shore thus enclosed, the water-side is occupied by wharfs, warehouses, ship-yards, mills, and all the other buildings which mark a naval and commercial town. Behind these marts of industry and wealth, the houses rise one above the other, and, by their situation on the slope of the hill, force themselves conspicuously into notice. Indeed, the town covers a considerable extent of ground, although land for building is so valuable, that the intervening spaces, formerly used as gardens and pleasure-grounds, will soon disappear and be covered with houses. The public buildings of Sydney are said to be neither numerous nor elegant, and certainly no great beauty of architecture can be reasonably expected in a town so recently built, and under such circumstances, as Sydney. Nevertheless many of the buildings are very large; and Mr. Wentworth says something (though not much) in their favour, when he states that they would not disgrace the great metropolis of England itself. In one melancholy feature, Sydney too nearly resembles London, namely, in the immense [Pg 257] number of its public houses, of which, according to Mr. Montgomery Martin, there were about two hundred in the whole town. The population in 1841 was 29,973 souls. Of these, 16,505 were returned as belonging to the Church of England; 8,126 to the Romish Church, while the rest were returned as Presbyterians, Dissenters, Jews, Mahometans, and Pagans. Sydney is divided into four parishes: St. Philip, St. James, St. Andrew, and St. Lawrence; in the two first of which churches have long existed, and in St. James’s church the cathedral service is daily used, with weekly communion; and there is a choir, organ, &c.[138] In the two last named parishes no churches have existed until very recently, but through the indefatigable exertions of Bishop Broughton, which have been not unworthily seconded by the Rev. W. Horatio Walsh, and the Rev. W. West Simpson, congregations have been assembled together, which will, it may be hoped, continue to attend the divine service of the Church of England, long after more suitable buildings than those originally used,—a brewhouse and a threshing-floor,—shall have been provided for their accommodation. In St. Lawrence’s parish a regular church was begun in 1840, and is probably completed before this time; and, to the credit of Sydney, it may be stated, that no less than 571l. were collected from those present at the meeting in which the erection of the church was resolved upon. In St. Andrew’s it is proposed to raise the cathedral church of the diocese of Australia; and, therefore, it must necessarily be longer before the building can be completed; but the importance of this undertaking cannot be more clearly shown than by the recent statement [Pg 258] of Bishop Broughton, whence it would appear that of 7000 inhabitants in St. Andrew’s parish, 3500 belong to the Church of their fathers or of their native home—the scriptural and apostolical Church of England. But more of these, and similar matters elsewhere. It was a wise and useful arrangement of our forefathers, by which our parishes were made at once ecclesiastical and civil divisions; and since this practice has in some measure been followed out in our colonies, the reader will excuse the brief observations thus suggested by the mention of the civil division of Sydney into four parishes. One more remark, and that a painful one, may be added. The expenses of the police establishment, in the town of Sydney alone, cost the government, in the year 1838, the sum of 12,350l., whereas the cost of the ecclesiastical establishment of the Church of England, in the same town, (including the stipend of the bishop,) amounted only to 3,025l. during that year.[139] Supposing (what is most likely) that the former sum is by no means too much, how far too little must the latter be!

Sydney has a very good market, which is tolerably well supplied with the necessaries of life; but many of these, as for example, eggs, butter, apples, &c., are very dear at present, compared with the prices usual in the mother country; while tea, coffee, sugar, &c. are cheap in proportion. The most expensive article of living in Sydney is house-rent, which appears to be enormously high, so that 100l. a year is considered only a moderate charge for an unfurnished house, with ordinary conveniences; and out of the salary allowed by government to the Bishop of Australia, upwards of one-seventh part is expended in rent alone. The shops in the capital of [Pg 259] New South Wales are said to be very good, and the articles well and tastefully arranged; but the social condition of the colony naturally tends to make the persons who keep them very different, and a much less respectable class, speaking generally, than the tradespeople of the mother country. The noble harbour of Port Jackson, and the position of the capital of the colony, unite in affording every possible encouragement to trade; and the following account given by the Sydney Herald, last year (1842) is about the most recent statement that has been received of the present condition of that commerce, which is altering and increasing every year. The shipping of Sydney now amounts to 224 vessels of the aggregate burden of 25,000 tons, of which 15 are steamers, of an aggregate burden of 1635 tons. This statement may give some idea of the rapidity with which the ports of the Southern world are rising into an almost European importance.[140] Since the year 1817 several large banks have been established, and, from the high rate of interest which money has always borne in the colony, it is not surprising that some of these concerns have been very profitable. It is only to be hoped that the spirit of speculation may not be carried out, till it ends, as it too frequently does in the mother country, in fraud and dishonesty.

There is a well-managed post-office in Sydney, and a twopenny post, with delivery twice a day, in the town itself. There is, likewise, a Savings’ Bank,[141] a Mechanics’ Institute, several large schools or colleges; and, in short, so far as is possible, the usages and institutions of England, whether good or bad, are, in most instances, [Pg 260] transferred and copied with amazing accuracy by the inhabitants of New South Wales. “Nothing surprises a stranger in an English colony more than the pertinacity with which our ways, manners, and dress are spread in these outlandish spots. All smells of home.”[142] Accordingly, in complete agreement with the manners of the mother country, though not in harmony with that Word of Truth which commands Christians “with one mind and one mouth to glorify God,” (Rom. xv. 6,) the capital of New South Wales is adorned with several buildings for various parties in the Christian world, as it is called, to meet in public worship. There is a large and handsome Roman Catholic chapel, “a Scotch church, built after the neat and pleasing style (?) adopted by the disciples of John Knox; and the Methodist chapel, an humble and lowly structure;” and, therefore, according to Mr. Montgomery Martin’s opinion, from whom this account is borrowed, all the better fitted to lead men to admire, love, and worship their Creator. How different are these modern notions from those of King David, who, although he was blessed with quite as exalted ideas of God’s omnipresence as most men have, nevertheless deemed it wrong for himself to “dwell in a house of cedar,” while “the ark of God dwelt within curtains,” even the costly and beautifully-wrought curtains of the tabernacle. And among the imitations of the customs and habits of home, the love of newspapers, and the number of these published, deserve a passing notice. The state of the public press in England, especially with regard to its Sunday publications, is grievous and lamentable enough to justify the assertion, that printing is a bane as well as a blessing to our native country. And as for those persons who are weak enough to talk as though newspapers were the great or sole means of [Pg 261] diffusing truth and knowledge among the people, they are not less mistaken than others would be, who might affirm that newspapers were the chief or only means of spreading lies and ignorance among them. But if so much evil is mingled with the good produced by the public press in Great Britain, how must the case stand with the same mighty agent of benefit or mischief in a colony like that of New South Wales? To this question let Dr. Lang,—himself a newspaper editor in Sydney for many years, a man of what are called “Liberal principles,” and a Presbyterian teacher,—furnish a reply. His words are stronger than another person, a stranger to the colony, would like to use, or could be justified in using; and if exceptions against his authority be made in certain quarters, care must be taken by them not to quote that same authority too implicitly on other subjects. Dr. Lang, in the following passage, speaks disparagingly of one of the great idols of his party; their favourite toast has always been, “The Liberty of the Press; it is like the air we breathe, if we have it not, we die,”—although it is true they have occasionally forgotten that other parties want “air to breathe,” as much as themselves. Bearing these things in mind, we may listen with a smile to the character which Dr. Lang gives of the colonial press in New South Wales:—“It has, with only few exceptions, been an instrument of evil instead of good; while, in many instances, it has been a mere receptacle and propagator of downright blackguardism.” Accordingly, it is reckoned, (too justly, we may fear,) among the sources of colonial demoralization in the very paragraph from which the above statement is borrowed.

The next town to be noticed is Paramatta, which is situated in the same county with Sydney, and, indeed, is only eighteen miles by water, and fifteen by land, from the capital; a circumstance that will, most likely, [Pg 262] prevent it from ever reaching that size and consequence to which at a greater distance it might have attained. Paramatta is built along a small fresh-water stream, which falls into the harbour of Port Jackson, at the very head of which the town is seated. For the last few miles the harbour is navigable only for boats of twelve or fifteen tons burthen. The town consists chiefly of one long street, and being backed by a ridge of hills, it has a pleasing appearance, especially from the Sydney road, where it breaks suddenly upon the view. The population of Paramatta is 10,052 souls, and the neighbouring country is tolerably well cleared and inhabited. In this place is the country residence of the governor, and here also is the station of one of the three regiments upon duty in the colony. Besides these distinctions, Paramatta has been chosen to be the site of several establishments of no small utility and interest in New South Wales. On the banks of the river is the Female Orphan School, where the little friendless daughters of the colony are trained up to be members of Christ’s holy Catholic Church, and servants of Him who is “the Father of the fatherless, and the God of the widow, even God in his holy habitation.” Here, likewise, is another establishment of a very different character, but if less successful in its results, not less beneficial in its intentions. The Paramatta factory, or rather penitentiary, is known throughout the settlement, and has been the object of much abuse from portions of the colonial press. Its objects are, first, to afford a home and place of refuge to those female convicts that are not yet assigned to masters, or are out of service; and, secondly, to provide an asylum for those who have misconducted themselves, and to give them leisure for reflection and repentance. At Paramatta, likewise, is the noble institution called the King’s School, which may, with judicious care, prove [Pg 263] an invaluable blessing to the rising generation of the colony. There are also in this town barracks, and a hospital; an old gaol, and a new one lately erected, and intended to serve for the whole county of Cumberland, with the exception of the town of Sydney. Besides these public buildings, there is a Roman Catholic chapel and a Wesleyan meeting-house; and two Presbyterian congregations assemble themselves in Paramatta; nor in this enumeration must the convent lately commenced by a few “Sisters of Charity” be forgotten. The Romanists are rather numerous in this town, and very active. In a private letter received from the neighbourhood of Paramatta, after stating the hold possessed by the English Church upon the affections of the people, the writer observes, “from the pretensions of the dissenters I cannot affect any the slightest uneasiness. Our danger is from Rome. I know not what to anticipate in that quarter. Their exertions here are gigantic, and really do them credit.” Why should not the efforts of our purer and more Scriptural Church be equally strenuous? On the south side of the river is St. John’s Church, which is quite removed from the principal increase of the population, that having taken place chiefly on the opposite bank. The Rev. Samuel Marsden, who was chaplain in New South Wales for more than forty years, bequeathed 200l. and gave a piece of land to promote the erection of a second church here; but for one reason or another, no progress had been made towards this desirable end, and in a letter dated January 1842, Bishop Broughton stated his resolution to commence the good work, even with the scanty resources at his disposal, hoping that the sight of a building in progress would awaken the liberality, and stir up the hearts of those that were able to contribute.

Windsor is the next town in the colony of New South [Pg 264] Wales, which appears to be deserving of a particular notice. It is in the county of Cumberland, and stands upon a hill rising about 100 feet above the level of the Hawkesbury, upon the banks of which river it is built, and is thus placed beyond the reach of its occasional destructive floods. The town is situated on a point of land lying between the Hawkesbury and a stream called South Creek, running on the other side; and so numerous are the windings of the former river, that although not more than thirty-five miles in a straight line from the sea, the distance by the Hawkesbury is 140 miles. The destructive propensity of the colonists to root up and destroy all trees, whether in the way of agriculture or not, would appear to have worked wonders in this neighbourhood, for among other advantages detailed in an advertisement of property to be sold there, it is stated that fire-wood is so scarce, as to ensure considerable profit from the sale of the wood on the estate. Windsor is twenty miles from Paramatta, and thirty-six from Sydney, and the country around it is very rich and beautiful. In some places the cliffs that overhang the Hawkesbury are not less than 600 feet in height; and the picturesque scenery, the numerous vessels and boats upon the stream, which is here navigable for ships of more than 100 tons, the views of the fertile country in the neighbourhood, with its abundant crops of wheat and Indian corn, the boundary of the western horizon, formed by the Blue Mountains, the base of which is about twenty miles distant: all these natural beauties combine to render Windsor a very agreeable spot. Its population is about 2000, and it has the usual public buildings, a gaol, barracks, hospital, &c.; there is also a church dedicated to St. Matthew, which until lately was served together with the chapel at Richmond, a little town about five miles distant, by [Pg 265] the same clergyman. There are also Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, and Wesleyan places of worship.

The town of Liverpool, situated, like those already mentioned, in the county of Cumberland, still remains to be noticed. It is about twenty miles from Sydney, and is built upon the banks of George’s River, a small navigable stream which empties itself into Botany Bay, the bleak and unsheltered inlet upon which the proposed colony under Captain Phillip was to have been settled. Liverpool is centrally situated, but the soil around it is poor, and the population not very large; but since it is the intended seat of the proposed college, founded by Mr. Moore, it will probably hereafter become a place of some consequence. There is nothing particularly to be remarked respecting the buildings of Liverpool at present, with the exception of the Male Orphan Asylum, which is a very good institution, the boys being not only educated there, but likewise brought up to different trades, and general habits of industry. The number of the orphan children in this school in 1839, was 153.[143]

Beyond the limits of the county of Cumberland there are very few towns which are large enough to merit particular attention, and of these the situations of the two most important and conspicuous, namely Bathurst and Newcastle, have already been mentioned. Instead, therefore, of wearying the reader with an attempt minutely to describe the small towns of New South Wales, it will be better to proceed without delay to a description of the other British colonies in Australia.

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image hobart town.




Van Diemen’s Land, or Tasmania, the next important colony, is, as we have before stated, a separate island of considerable size, nearly all the eastern side of which is now inhabited by the English. It was divided into two counties only, which are called Cornwall and Buckinghamshire, but these being inconveniently large, a fresh division into eleven counties, all of them borrowing the names of some in England or Wales, has since taken place.[144] But without concerning ourselves about these [Pg 267] smaller divisions, which it would be impossible to describe exactly and distinctly, it may suffice to state, that the two chief towns in the island are at its opposite extremities, Hobart Town being at the south, and Launceston at the north, and both of these are sea-ports; so that the colony seems naturally to divide itself into two provinces, each of which has one of these towns for its capital, but which are both, nevertheless, similar in their appearance, character, and productions.

Van Diemen’s Land is a more mountainous, and yet, it would seem, a more fruitful country than New South Wales. It is, according to the testimony of all who have visited it, a most beautiful and pleasing land; the mountains are tolerably high, but do not run much in ranges, and the views among them are continually broken and cheered by delightful valleys and fertile plains. Among these hills, limestone is very commonly discovered, and is now in considerable use; it is supposed, likewise, that coals, and iron ore, will be found abundantly in Van Diemen’s Land, but these resources of the colony have not yet been much explored. In the cultivated parts of the country the soil varies greatly; in some places it is a rich black mould, in others, sand or flint is mingled; but its general fertility is proved by the excellent crops which, year after year, it produces. The coast of Van Diemen’s Land abounds in bays and fine harbours; nor is this island at all deficient in rivers and streams, imparting life to the landscape, and fruitfulness to the soil. The Derwent, upon the banks of which stands Hobart Town, is a very fine river, without rocks or sand banks, and always safely navigable for ships of considerable size. Both sides of this river abound in beautiful and romantic scenery, and although the soil is less productive than in some other parts of the colony, yet the neighbourhood of [Pg 268] the capital, and the advantage of water-carriage, combine to make amends for this inferiority. The Tamar falls into the sea in Bass’s Strait, quite on the opposite side of the island to the mouth of the Derwent; and as Hobart Town adorns the latter river, so the Tamar is enlivened by the trade and commerce of the port of Launceston. The navigation of this river for large vessels is not easy, in consequence of a bar and other hindrances. The Tamar is formed by the union of two smaller streams, named the North Esk, and South Esk, and at Launceston, the distance from the sea is about forty miles. Towards its mouth, the land adjoining this stream is barren and sandy, but within a few miles this kind of soil is succeeded by rich level marshes, and beautiful slopes of moderately wooded and rich pasture country rising up behind these. The other rivers of Van Diemen’s Land are either, like the Huon, situated in the uncolonized parts, or, like the Shannon, the Jordan, and the Clyde, inconsiderable streams, so as not to merit a more particular description. Many of the Tasmanian rivers take their rise in lakes, which are usually found in high situations in the central parts of the island, and abound with water-fowl.

Hobart Town, the capital of a very beautiful and lovely island, may boast of a situation of suitable loveliness and beauty. Behind it, on the west, stand some gently rising hills, well wooded, beyond which towers Mount Wellington, 4000 feet in height, and having its summit, during more than half the year, covered with snow, but yet seldom obscured with clouds, because of the pureness and clearness of the air. On the other side of the town, to the eastward, is to be seen the noble Derwent, which here better deserves to be called an arm of the sea than a river, extending with its winding banks, forming beautiful bays and lakes, or projecting into [Pg 269] picturesque points, whilst its waters are enlivened by the boats and shipping of the adjacent port. The water here is salt, and the bay on which Hobart Town stands affords one of the best anchorages in the world for vessels, in whatever number or of whatever burden they may be. Indeed it is said that the Derwent surpasses even Port Jackson, or at least it is doubtful which of the two deserves a preference.[145] The capital of Tasmania is built upon gently rising ground, and though within the present century its site was mere bush-land, it has now some good streets, with large and handsome shops and houses. According to Mr. Montgomery Martin, the average rental of these was 50l. each, but then we must not lose sight of the high value which houses bear in Australia. However, at that calculation, the annual value of rent in Hobart Town in the year 1835, when there were 1281 houses, would be 72,000l.[146] The public buildings are said to be, some of them, handsome and commodious. Court-house, barracks, hospital, orphan-schools, jails, and government house, rank among the principal buildings of Hobart Town; and in many respects it appears to resemble a provincial sea-port in the mother country. It has some excellent inns, good wharfs and warehouses, and public banks, besides a few considerable manufacturing establishments. A small stream runs nearly through the centre of the town, which, besides turning some mills, affords at certain seasons a good supply of water. But the town is chiefly supplied by means of pipes, which convey water to private houses and likewise to the public pumps, and occasionally, it would appear, some scarcity of this needful article prevails.[147] The church of St. David’s, in [Pg 270] the capital of Van Diemen’s Land, is a large building, and so it ought to be, since it was until lately the only church for a population (including the suburbs) of 13,000 souls.[148] Besides the church, sundry other buildings rear up their heads, here as elsewhere; and if any thing could justify separation and divisions among those for whom their Divine Master prayed “that they might be one,” if in any case it were “lawful to do evil that good may come,” then dissent of every kind might find its excuse in a place like Hobart Town, where so many thousand souls, the majority of them in a very unhealthy state, have been formerly left in the charge of one pastor. But instead of praying the Lord of the vineyard for more labourers, and endeavouring themselves to furnish the means of supplying these, men have rushed, self-sent, or sent only by others having no more authority than themselves, into the field of pastoral labour. And while we lament the confusion that has ensued, while we rejoice in whatever good may have resulted from unauthorized preachers, we members of the Church of England are compelled by truth to acknowledge, that, if other men have been led astray by [Pg 271] their eagerness and ignorance, we have been not less culpably misled by our slothfulness and apathy. Accordingly the marks of our needless divisions are every where manifest; and like the noxious weeds which sometimes hang about the roots of a noble tree, so are these transplanted together with our best institutions into our colonies. In the chief town of Tasmania are to be found separate places of worship for Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Wesleyans, and Independents.

With respect to Launceston, which continues still to be the principal town on the northern side of Van Diemen’s Land, there is not much to be related. It stands at the junction of the North and South Esk, and consequently at the head of the navigation of the Tamar, which is formed by these two streams. The town is pleasantly situated at the foot of a hill upon a small plain of about 200 acres of land. There are a few good houses in Launceston, but its improvement has not kept pace with that of Hobart Town; nor is it ever likely to increase very greatly, since a government establishment has been formed at George Town, a place about thirty miles lower down, and consequently much nearer to Port Dalrymple at the entrance of the Tamar, and more convenient in its access for large ships. George Town is well situated for every purpose of trade, but for agriculture it offers no advantages, the soil in the neighbourhood being very poor, and accordingly most of the settlers prefer remaining at Launceston. The population of the latter place may be nearly 1000, but no return of this has been met with apart from the population of the district to which the town gives its name. Launceston has a chaplain and a church, of which no particular account is given. There is also a Presbyterian teacher resident in the town. At Longford, near Launceston, may be found an example of “patient continuance [Pg 272] in well-doing,” which deserves to be recorded for the encouragement of others. About the year 1830 the first clergyman stationed there, the Rev. R. P. Davis, began with a congregation of five, which appeared for some time stationary. A church had been built which it was thought would never be filled; but in eight years afterwards, the walls could not contain those who were anxious to hear the word of God in them. The grain of mustard-seed had literally grown into a spreading tree; the congregation had multiplied a hundredfold, and a large church was about to be built, to which the inhabitants had contributed 1500l.[149] Other small places might be mentioned, as Elizabeth Town, Perth, Brighton, &c., which are very pleasant and thriving little settlements; and the penal settlements of Port Macquarie and on Tasman’s Peninsula might be described. Port Arthur, one of these, is on the last-named Peninsula, a sterile spot of about 100,000 acres, surrounded by sea, except where a narrow neck of land connects it with the main island; and this isthmus is guarded, night and day, by soldiers, and by a line of fierce dogs. Nothing particularly deserving of further notice presents itself, and therefore we may conclude our brief sketch of Van Diemen’s Land, wishing it and all the other British colonies in Australia a progress no less rapid in religion and morals, than their recent progress in commerce, agriculture, riches, and luxuries has been. What condition of a country can be more truly deplorable than that which in holy Scripture is so powerfully set forth, when the boast, “I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing,” is heard proceeding from a land which in the sight of God is “wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked?”[150]

[Pg 273] The Australian colonies may be said to form a family group of British origin; and although the two elder sisters are undoubtedly the most advanced and interesting, yet some of the younger branches of the same family may justly deserve to be noticed. We may begin with the very recent colony called Port Phillip, which lies between New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, and which, as we have already seen, had well nigh taken the place of the latter country in the honours of early colonization. The country in the neighbourhood of the inlet named Port Phillip is in many parts exceedingly rich and fine; the scenery is varied by hills, woods, and water; and besides much excellent pasture and sheep walks, there are thousands of acres ready for the plough, and capable of growing any European grain. The situation of the principal town here, called Melbourne, is on the Yarra Yarra river, just where its stream flows over a fall and mingles with the salt water from Port Phillip, from the head of which bay Melbourne is distant about six miles by the course of the river, but across the land not more than one and a half. The vessels generally lie at Hobson’s Bay, distant by land four or five miles, by water ten or twelve. There is a bar at the entrance of the river which prevents large ships from coming up close to Melbourne. The town appears to be rapidly increasing; the commerce of Port Phillip is yearly extending; its central position, the goodness of much of the surrounding soil, and the fact of its being less encumbered than is usually the case with wood, all these circumstances unite in rendering this outpost, as we may term it, of New South Wales, an important and interesting spot. Respecting its prospects of religious improvement and pastoral care, it is gratifying to be able to quote the following statement from a letter of the Bishop of Australia, of whose unwieldy diocese Port [Pg 274] Phillip forms a part. “At Melbourne the zeal of the inhabitants has led them to undertake the erection of a church, the estimated cost of which is nearly 7000l. Although the certain and rapid increase of the town be such as will, at no distant period, call for a church of that importance, I greatly fear that resources may be wanting for its immediate erection.” Meanwhile the Bishop expresses his anxiety that temporary accommodation, at the least, should be provided for the great numbers collected at Melbourne, who are desirous of attending the church. “It is evident,” continues he, “that within a short interval there will be in the colony few stations, with the exception, perhaps, of Sydney itself, which will demand more assiduous care and attention on behalf of its spiritual interests, than the town whose streets extend over a spot where, not more than three years ago, the Yarra Yarra flowed through an almost uninterrupted solitude.”[151] The population of Melbourne is stated in a recent periodical to be 4479, while that of the whole settlement of Port Phillip is 11,758. By the same authority the numbers of the members of the Church of England in this English colony are said to be 6194; that of the Presbyterians, 2045; of the Wesleyan Methodists, 651; of other dissenters, 1353; of Roman Catholics, 1441; of Jews, 59; Mahommedans and Pagans, 10. The mention of Jews, who are to be met with in almost all these remote colonies of the southern ocean, can scarcely fail to recall to mind God’s threatenings to his chosen people (see Deut. xxviii. 64). We shall conclude this notice of Port Phillip with mentioning two important items in the estimates of its expenditure for 1842:—Police and jails, [Pg 275] 17,526l. 8s.; clergy and schools, 5350l.;[152] and, as a commentary upon these disproportionate estimates, which are by no means peculiar to Port Phillip, the words of Sir George Arthur may be added:—“Penitentiaries, treadwheels, flogging, chain-gangs, and penal settlements,” says the late governor of Tasmania, “will all prove ineffectual either to prevent or to punish crime, without religious and moral instruction.”

The next of the infant colonies of Great Britain in New Holland, which offers itself to our attention, as the eye ranges over the map of that huge island, is the very recently formed settlement of Southern Australia. This is situated upon the southern coast likewise, and consists of a large block of country, the inland parts of which have not yet been explored, forming three sides of a square, with the fourth side broken and jagged by the inclination and indentations of the coast, which are here very considerable. The area of South Australia thus marked out is supposed to be about 310,000 square miles, containing upwards of 98,000,000 of acres; that is to say, it is double the size of the three British kingdoms, and not much less than that of France.[153] The mode of colonizing this extensive tract of country is proposed to be upon different principles from those elsewhere followed in Australia. No transported convicts are ever to be sent there. No free grants of land are to be made, but land can become private property by purchase alone, and the whole of the purchase-money is proposed to be spent in the encouragement of emigration. The emigrants to be conveyed by means of this fund, without [Pg 276] expense to the colony, were to be of both sexes in equal numbers, and the preference is to be given to young married persons not having children. The prospect of having a representative assembly was held out to the colony, but the population was to exceed 50,000 before it could be lawful for the Crown to grant this.

To attempt to state accurately what the soil and capabilities of so vast an extent of country may be, would evidently be to attempt an impossibility. Of that small part of it which is already occupied, much is barren, hilly land, especially upon the coast. Nevertheless, it would appear that South Australia has, so far as we can at present judge, its full proportion of good and available soil, both for the purposes of farming and for pasture.[154] The situation of that part of the colony, where the principal settlements have been commenced, is very well chosen, for it lies upon the Gulf of St. Vincent, a very deep inlet of the sea, and is well backed with a range of hills to the eastward, beyond which the country yet unexplored extends to the banks of the river Murray; so that, in fact, the Murray and the Gulf of St. Vincent, form natural boundaries to those settlements which are already begun, and within these limits it is said that there are the means of supporting comfortably from one hundred to two hundred thousand inhabitants. This statement agrees with Captain Sturt’s report of the existence of several millions of acres of very beautiful and fertile land in the same district. The [Pg 277] climate of South Australia is healthy, though very warm;[155] and the usual disorders of Australia, complaints of the eye and relaxation of the bowels, were the ailments least uncommon among the new settlers. In March 1841, the population of the colony was estimated at about 14,000, and the amount of land under tillage about 2000 acres. But since that time there has been a considerable increase in both items. The quantity of provisions in proportion to the inhabitants was considerably greater than in England. A small commerce is springing up, and slate, which abounds in South Australia, and oil, the produce of the adjacent seas, together with wool from the flocks fed upon the neighbouring hills, begin to form materials of traffic.[156]

The capital of the province of South Australia bears the honoured name of Adelaide, and is placed upon the eastern side of the Gulf of St. Vincent. The country around it is hilly and well timbered, but not too thickly encumbered with wood, and the soil is generally good, with abundance of water. The British settlers removed to this spot from Kangaroo Island, which is at the entrance of Gulf St. Vincent, but which they found less desirable for a colony from the difficulty and expense of clearing away the timber there. Adelaide is supposed to be well and centrally placed for the capital of a province, and it now has a good port,[157] to which vessels of four or five hundred tons may come and discharge their cargoes.

[Pg 278] The town stands on gently rising banks, between which flows a pretty stream, named the Torrens, and commands a view of an extensive plain, reaching down to the sea, over which the fresh breezes generally blow from the south-west. Behind Adelaide is a fine wooded country, and six miles distant is a range of hills, with the wooded summit of Mount Lofty forming their highest point. The population of the capital of South Australia and its immediate neighbourhood, is supposed to be about eight thousand. The town has not yet many buildings or establishments of any importance, but there is a hospital, and also a savings’ bank, in which last, during six months of 1841, the deposits had increased from 130l. 0s. 2d. to 520l. 2s. 10d. It had four newspapers and one colonial chaplain in 1842, and the estimates for that year contained the following items:—Police, 9112l. 19s. 4d.; jail, 1034l. 8s.; colonial chaplain, 370l. But we must do the colony of South Australia the justice to state that this is not the whole sum which is there spent on religious instruction. The voluntary system, as it is called, has been brought into action there, and hitherto, it would appear, successfully enough, so far as pounds, shillings, and pence are concerned, if it be true that in four years,—the four first years of the colony,—upwards of 11,500l. had been voluntarily contributed for religious and educational purposes, and “the clergy,” (as all teachers are now denominated,) supported at an annual charge of 1200l. But, of course, the voluntary principle, as its name implies, is a little apt to be wilful; and, accordingly, in Adelaide alone, with a population of eight thousand souls, it is stated that there are ten or twelve public “places of worship,” and a corresponding number of “zealous, highly-educated, and efficient clergymen.” Every settler apportions his mite to Paul, to Apollos or to Cephas, according as it seems [Pg 279] right in his own eyes; and occasionally it may happen, when any little offence is taken, that the popular saying is actually realized, and Peter is robbed that Paul may be paid. And to some persons, who cannot, one would think, have read their Bible with much attention, this system appears actually to be the very height of perfection. The following brief quotation from a letter of the Congregational teacher at Adelaide is said to be “most satisfactory:”—

Religion.—The whole circle of denominations is filled up with their appropriate pastors, churches, and places of worship. Adelaide is well supplied. The country is not altogether neglected; but, as it fills up, will be better attended to. I do not think the religious prospects bad. Truth and piety, I expect, will flourish in South Australia. The clergy of the Churches of England and Scotland are evangelical; the Wesleyans have been very active and useful. Of us, you read in the Report of the Colonial Missionary Society. The other bodies are also making their way.”[158] Would this report of religion in South Australia be “most satisfactory” to that apostle, who teaches that “there is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling?”

Still let us not judge harshly of the infant colony, nor reproach it for a leprosy, with which it has been inoculated by the mother country. While we hail with gladness the good spirit which has been shown in raising so much money for religious objects in the very infancy of the settlement, let us hope, that the “places of worship” may diminish in number, while the churches increase, and that the country districts may have a larger share of assistance than they can now receive out of what remains of 1200l. a year, after Adelaide and its ten or [Pg 280] twelve clergymen have been supplied.[159] Undoubtedly, in this province of Australia there is much zeal and good feeling awakened, and the efforts of the South Australian Church Building Society are deserving of every success. To the members of this Society it must be indeed a cause of thankfulness and joy, that they can call to mind during the lapse of only four years, the quick succession of an open spot, a tent, a reed hut, a wooden shed, and lastly, a church capable of holding six hundred persons, being respectively used for places of divine worship. And now, not only do they see one church finished, but two others are, ere this time, no doubt completed.[160]

The British colony in the great southern land to which the attention of the reader may next be directed, is that of Western Australia; or, as it was called in its earlier days, during its first struggles into existence, the Swan River Settlement. This is situated upon the coast of New Holland, opposite to the colony of New South Wales, lying in nearly the same latitude, but thirty-four or thirty-six degrees of longitude to the west of it. The first discovery of this spot was made by a Dutchman, Vlaming, in 1697, who named the stream Black Swan River, from the black swans, which were then seen for the first time by Europeans, and two of which were taken alive to Batavia.[161] The banks of the Swan River were first colonized in 1830, and the mode in which this was effected is peculiar and different from the usual course. A few gentlemen of large property undertook to found the colony, at little or no expense to the mother country, receiving immense grants of land in return for the expenses incurred by them in this attempt; which grants, however, were to revert to government, unless [Pg 281] they were cultivated and improved under certain conditions and in a given time. Great difficulties and many privations were endured by the first settlers, but these appear to have been overcome, and so soon as the stream of emigration shall have set steadily into Western Australia, (which is, perhaps, all things considered, the most desirable of our Australasian colonies for a respectable Englishman to fix himself in,) there can be little doubt that its progress will be not less rapid than that of the sister settlements. Along the sea coast, the country is hilly and barren; nor is it much better in the immediate neighbourhood of the principal settlements, Perth and Fremantle; but beyond these there is plenty of good grass country, and near the inland town of Guildford, the arable land in the valley of the Swan River is surpassingly rich and productive, so that it has been known to bear eleven successive crops of wheat in as many years, without any manure, and the last year’s crop averaging twenty-five bushels to the acre. In some parts this good land approaches more nearly to the coast; but still a large proportion of the soil is poor and sandy, although even of this a great deal is capable of cultivation, and is thought to be especially fitted for the growth of the vine.[162] The climate is exceedingly healthy and delightful; indeed, it is even superior to other parts of Australia, and rain is more abundant here than elsewhere. Plenty of fish is likewise to be found in the neighbouring bays and inlets, which are very numerous; and the whales are so plentiful, only a few hours’ sail from the shore, that oil is a principal article [Pg 282] of export, but the Americans are allowed to occupy this fishery almost entirely, and it is stated that from two to three hundred of their ships have been engaged in the whale fishery off this coast during a single year. The population of Western Australia is small, not being computed at more than 2700 souls in the beginning of the year 1842. The number of acres cultivated in 1840 were, according to the returns of the local Agricultural Society, 1650 in wheat, and 3296 in every kind of culture. This settlement is, more than others, in want of that article of which England especially needs to be relieved—population; and if a man is frugal, sober, and industrious, if he will bear in mind that “on no part of the face of the globe will the earth yield her increase, but as it is moistened by sweat from man’s brow,”[163] Western Australia is, possibly, the best and most agreeable country where he can find a happy home. Although this large district is yet so thinly peopled, it is, nevertheless, in a state of colonization and civilization surpassing what might have been fairly expected. And the absence of convicts, though it renders labour scarce and expensive, brings with it counterbalancing advantages, and prevents the double danger of immediate taint to society from the unhappy criminals, and of future schism arising between the emancipated convicts, or their children, and the free settlers.

Fremantle is at the mouth of the Swan River, and contains some tolerable houses, with a jetty and various other conveniences for trade, especially for the whale fishery; from the ships engaged in which pursuit, (chiefly American vessels,) a great portion of its commerce is derived. One cause of its trade and population not having increased more rapidly may be the bar across the [Pg 283] mouth of the Swan River, having only a depth of six feet at low water, and preventing the approach of ships of large burden. The soil around is sandy, and produces little or no grass; but when well cultivated, it yields excellent vegetables. Two miles from Fremantle, up the river, there is a ferry across to Perth, the seat of government and capital of the colony, which is well situated, the river extending into a broad sheet, named Melville Waters, in front of the town. Here is good brick-earth and garden-ground, and near the town there are some tolerable farms. But at Guildford, seven miles further up the river, commences the rich corn-land of the colony, and the town itself contains six or seven hundred inhabitants. York is forty-eight miles eastward of Guildford; and King George’s Sound, on the coast, where there is another settlement, is about one hundred and fifty miles from York.

There are several other little stations scattered about in various directions, especially upon the coast. In 1840 there were five clergymen in Western Australia, and on the 1st of January, 1841, the foundation stone of a church at Perth to contain 600 persons was laid by the governor; its estimated cost was 4000l. There are churches also at Guildford, at the Middle Swan, the Upper Swan, and at York, and a new church erecting at Albany, near King George’s Sound. Some humble little churches have also been built of mud, and thatched with rushes, in this colony. And although, where it can be done, we think that noble churches are most becoming to the service of the King of kings, yet we doubt not, in the cases where these lowly buildings are unavoidable, that since “the chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels,” so these ministering spirits are sent forth into the wilderness to minister unto them that are heirs of salvation: we confidently trust that “the [Pg 284] Lord is among them,” even “as in the holy place of Sinai.” Wesleyan meeting-houses are to be found at Perth and Fremantle. The governor and executive council were authorized to “grant aid towards ministers’ stipends, and towards buildings, without any distinction of sect.”[164] This precious system, which would make no “distinction of sect,” between the doctrine of the beloved apostle St. John, and that of the Nicolaitans, “which God hates,”[165] is almost a dead letter in Western Australia, owing to the scattered state of the population, and the great majority of them being members of the Church of England. The duty of government to tolerate separatists, (while they continue obedient to the laws of the country,) is now denied by no one; and toleration, one might have supposed, would have been all that those who dislike a state church would have accepted; but the duty of government to encourage and foster separation in places where it does not at present exist, is inculcated neither by reason, policy, nor Scripture; neither can dissenters consistently accept of aid from the state in Australia, and exclaim against it in England.

One more commencement of colonization in the island of New Holland must be mentioned in order to complete the circle. An attempt to form a settlement on the northern coast was made as early as 1824, at Melville Island, rather more than five degrees to the west of the Gulph of Carpentaria; but this establishment was moved in 1827 to Raffles Bay, an adjacent inlet of the main land. The new station was in its turn abandoned in the year 1829, and a fresh settlement, at the distance of a few miles, was planted at Port Essington, by Sir Gordon Bremer, who sailed thither with His Majesty’s ships Alligator and Britomarte, in 1838. The [Pg 285] colony is still quite in an infant state. No clergyman accompanied the expedition, although the commander was desirous of securing the blessings of Church communion for his little settlement.[166] In the immediate neighbourhood some native Christians (Australians) were found, who had many years ago been converted by the Dutch; they had churches, and appeared to behave well. Upon application to the Bishop of Australia, 300l. was obtained towards a church at Port Essington, and his endeavours to get a chaplain appointed there were promised. It may be observed that Port Essington is situated 2000 miles, in a direct line, from Hobart Town, and both places were until very recently within the same diocese, that of Australia! In like manner, when the five clergymen stationed in Western Australia had memorialized the Bishop to visit them, that he might consecrate their churches, confirm their children, and “set in order things that were wanting,” one great obstacle to his compliance was the necessity of having his life insured in the interim, for Western Australia, though within his diocese, was not within the limits of his policy of life assurance!

[Pg 286]

image cape pillar near the entrance of river derwent, van dieman’s land.




Having now rapidly surveyed the various British settlements in Australia, taking them separately, a few observations may be added respecting their general condition. And, first, of the climate of these countries, it must have evidently appeared from what has been already stated that this is extremely healthy and beautiful. Every one who has been in Australia appears to be surprised at the spring and elasticity which the climate imparts to the human frame; and although it does not seem that the average of life is at all more prolonged there than in England, still it would really seem, that the enjoyment of life was greater. Such declarations as these.—“To say we are all well is really nothing;” “the full enjoyment of health is quite a marvel;” [Pg 287] occur in the letters of those who are settled in the great Southern Land; and the descriptions with which we meet in books of its exhilarating climate, completely justify and bear out the pleasing accounts of it given us by its inhabitants. In so vast a territory, and in so many different situations as the British colonies now occupy, there must needs be great variety of climate; and the warmth of Sydney and its neighbourhood forms a strong contrast to the cool bracing air of Bathurst, which is only 121 miles distant; the heat of the new settlements at Moreton Bay, which is nearly tropical, is strongly opposed to the English climate, beautifully softened and free from damp, which is enjoyed in Van Diemen’s Land. In Australia, it has been remarked, every thing regarding climate is the opposite of England; for example, the north is the hot wind, and the south the cool; the westerly the most unhealthy, and the east the most salubrious; it is summer with the colonists when it is winter at home, and their midnight coincides with our noonday. Near the coast, the sea breezes, which set in daily from the great expanse of waters, are very refreshing; whilst in the interior, except in Van Diemen’s Land, or in very high situations, the hot winds are extremely disagreeable. Especially in the colony of New South Wales, during the summer season, the westerly wind, which blows probably over immense deserts of sandstone, or over miles of country set on fire by the natives, is scarcely endurable at certain times, but feels like the heated air at the mouth of a furnace, and is then far from wholesome or pleasant. However, this blast of hot wind is said never to endure very long, and it is less oppressive than the same heat would be elsewhere, because in New Holland the air is dry, and in other countries, India for instance, when the heat is exactly the same, it is felt much more [Pg 288] intensely from the quantity of moisture with which the burning atmosphere is surcharged. Still we may form an idea of the occasional violence of the heat in the interior of New Holland, from Captain Sturt’s account of his expedition across the parched-up marshes of the Macquarie River, where the sugar which his men carried in their canisters was melted, and all their dogs destroyed.

The scourge of Australia is drought; and when a native of the British Islands has lived a few years in that part of the world, he begins to understand and feel better than he ever before did, the frequent allusions in the holy Scriptures to water as an emblem and sign of the greatest blessings. The Englishman in Australia soon learns what is meant by the blessings of Christ’s kingdom being compared to “rivers of water in a dry place,” or to “the shadow of a great rock in a weary land,”[167] when that rock promises a spring of living water, a comfort which in New Holland is occasionally found upon the bare top of a mountain, where no other supply is to be had within thirty miles round.[168] And the thankfulness of the inhabitants of our own green islands may be awakened, the undue expectations of the English emigrant may be checked, by reading complaints like the following, which are, at intervals, only too well founded in many parts of the Australian colonies. “We have now for upwards of four months been watching with anxious interest the progress of every cloudy sky; [Pg 289] but, overcast as the heavens most usually are towards evening, the clouds have appeared to consist more of smoky exhalations than moist vapours; and even when at times they have seemed to break darkly over us, their liquid contents have apparently evaporated in the middle air. The various arrivals in our port (Port Macquarie) have brought us accounts of genial showers and refreshing dews, which have visited the neighbouring districts; and even the silence of our own parched coast has been broken by the sound of distant thunderstorms, exhausting themselves on the eastern waves while the sun has been setting in scorching splendour upon the horizon of our western hills. Since the 30th of June last to the present date, October 28th, there have been but thirteen days with rain, and then the showers were but trifling. In consequence, the surface of the ground, in large tracts of the district, is so parched and withered, that all minor vegetation has nearly ceased, and the wheat-crops that were sown in June, are, we fear, doomed to perish.”[169]

How expressive, after reading descriptions like this, do those complaints of one of the inspired writers appear: “The seed is rotten under their clods, the garners are laid desolate, the barns are broken down; for the corn is withered. How do the beasts groan! the herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture; yea, the flocks of sheep are made desolate. O Lord, to thee will I cry: for the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame hath burned all the trees of the field. The beasts of the field cry also unto Thee, for the rivers of waters are dried up, and the fire hath devoured the pastures of the wilderness.” (Joel i. 17-20.)

Most of the productions of the soil which are to be [Pg 290] found in the mother country are raised likewise in the Australian settlements. The wheat-harvest commences in New South Wales in the middle of November, and is generally over by Christmas, so that to this festive season a fresh cause of rejoicing is added, and men are called upon to be thankful at once for the greatest temporal and spiritual blessings; the same time of year supplies them with the meat that perisheth, and reminds them of the coming down from heaven of Him who is the bread of life. But, besides the ordinary produce of our English fields, many productions of the soil are raised in Australia which will not grow in the northern climate of Britain. The fruits of Italy and Spain, the tobacco of Virginia, and the Indian corn of the southern states of America, are all produced in the Australian colonies. And one fruit may be particularly noticed, which is in England justly reckoned a delicacy, but which in New South Wales is so abundant, that the very swine are feasted upon it: peaches are to be had in full perfection for full four months in the year, the later varieties regularly succeeding to those that are earlier. This fruit grows everywhere, it matters not whether the soil be rich or poor; and if a peach-stone is planted it will in three years afterwards bear an abundant crop of fruit. So plentifully do they grow, that they are commonly used to fatten hogs, for which purpose they answer very well, after having been laid in heaps, and allowed to ferment a little; cider also of a pleasant and wholesome quality is made from the same fruit.

The chief wealth of Australia consists in its flocks and herds, and nothing in the progress of our settlements there is more astonishing than the rapidity with which these primitive riches have increased. Sixty years ago there was not a single sheep in the vast island of New Holland; and now, from a few narrow strips of land upon [Pg 291] some of its coasts, millions of pounds of wool are annually exported to England. The fine climate of Australia is especially suited for sheep, and it would appear to have an improving effect upon the quality of that animal’s fleece, which nowhere reaches greater perfection than in New South Wales. Cattle also thrive and increase very much in the Australian settlements, and animals of all kinds in New South Wales are exceedingly dainty: if shut up in a field of good grass they will starve themselves with fretting rather than eat it, they are so anxious to get out upon the sweet natural pastures. Although it is to be hoped and expected that, under judicious management, these colonies will always be able to supply their inhabitants with bread, still it is confessed on all sides that pastoral riches form their natural source of wealth, and that it is to these chiefly, together with their mineral productions and commerce, that they must look for a foundation of permanent and continued worldly prosperity.

The form of government is the same in all the British Australasian colonies, and while the governor’s authority is supreme, by virtue of his being the representative of the British crown, his power is restrained by an executive council and by a legislative council. The former body, whose office is to assist the governor in carrying the laws into execution, is composed of the colonial secretary and treasurer, the bishop and lieutenant-governor, (if the last-named office is not abolished,) under the presidency of the governor himself. The legislative council consists of the same persons, with the addition of the chief justice, the attorney-general, the chief officer of the customs, the auditor-general, and seven private gentlemen of the colony, who are appointed by the crown for life, and for whom, in case of death or removal, the governor may choose a substitute, until [Pg 292] the Queen’s pleasure be known. The office of this legislative council is, as its name implies, that of making laws, in which, however, at least two-thirds of the members must agree, and which must not be contrary to the charter, or letters patent, or orders in council, or laws of England. The proposal of new laws always belongs to the governor, who must, however, give eight clear days’ notice in the public papers, stating the general objects of the intended enactments; nor can this rule be dispensed with, except in cases of very great emergency. Such is briefly the outline of the constitution at present established in the Australian settlements, and under this form of government they have, most of them, already run a race of prosperity, which, allowing for the recent dates of their foundation, can scarcely be matched in the annals of any nation. Nevertheless, the present form of government is a very great subject of discontent among many of the colonists, and the want of a representative house of assembly in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land appears to give as little satisfaction to many persons there, as the presence of such an assembly does here in England.[170] It may easily be imagined what a fine subject for oratory is thus furnished among a mass of people, who, whatever elements of good may exist among them, may, generally speaking, be too truly said to have derived their birth and education from criminals and outcasts. In the midst of a people thus constituted, a press “unshackled by stamps, paper-excise, advertisement duty, or censorship,” is [Pg 293] doing its daily or weekly work of enlightening the minds of the people respecting their grievances; and where, as in Van Diemen’s Land, there is said to be a newspaper for every 1666 free persons,[171] the people must indeed bask in the sunshine of political illumination. “The press,” it is asserted on good authority respecting Van Diemen’s Land, and it is not less true of New South Wales, “The press, with few exceptions, finds ample support in holding up to derision the authorities of the land, and even in the invasion of the sanctity of domestic privacy.”[172] The result, however, of this state of things is that, actually, in the colonies of Australia the grievances appear worse, the “wrongs” more galling, and the “rights” less regarded, than even in England itself; and judging from the crabbed tone of discontent prevailing in most of the colonial newspapers, the people who live in a land almost free from taxes, and quite exempt from tithes and poor-rates, can without much difficulty conjure up complaints of taxation and oppression not less piercing than those which are to be heard in a kingdom where taxgatherers, tithe-proctors, and aristocrats, still exist. Perhaps, there is nothing more calculated to make an Englishman tolerably satisfied with the state of things in his own country than the occasional perusal of the newspapers of lands so “highly favoured” in the way of “taxation” or “liberal institutions,” as the Australian colonies and the United States of America. The christian patriot looks down with pity upon the strife of tongues and the turmoil of party-spirit which Satan contrives to raise in almost every country under the sun; and while the believer can always bless God’s providence for many good things, he expects not perfection in the institutions of mortal men; it is true that

[Pg 294] “Worldly reformers, while they chafe and curse,
Themselves and others change from bad to worse;
While christian souls for blessings past can praise,
And mend their own and others’ future ways.”

The great instruments by which the christian statesman will aim at reforming mankind, and making them happy, while at the same time he will be gaining the highest of all glory to himself, both in time and eternity, are christian instruction and religious education. A corrupted press and incessant agitation are instruments suitable enough to accomplish the works of darkness for which they are usually employed; nor are churches and schools less fit means of success in the better and more honourable task of bringing a nation to righteousness, respectability, and contentment. A short account of the establishment of the Bishopric of Australia, and a statement of the means of religious and sound education in that part of the world, will not be out of place here; and if, as before, we are driven to speak of the neglect of “the powers that be” upon these essential points, it is hoped that, since this is done unwillingly,—more in shame and sorrow than in anger and party-spirit,—it will not be done with a feeling at all contrary to the Divine precept: “Thou shalt not speak evil of the ruler of thy people.”[173]

“It is evident unto all men diligently reading holy Scripture and ancient authors, that from the Apostles’ time there have been these orders of ministers in Christ’s Church,—Bishops, Priests, and Deacons;”[174] and the Church of England has never yet made bold to dispense with what the Church of Christ did for 1500 years, without a single exception, deem it necessary everywhere to retain. Never in theory, indeed, has our Church made [Pg 295] bold to work without the three orders of an apostolical ministry, but, alas! frequently has she done this in practice, and in no instance more openly or less successfully than in Australia. For upwards of thirty years, no superintendent at all was placed over the clergy and laity of our communion in New South Wales, and when a step was taken, it was not made in the right direction; an archdeacon was appointed, who, whatever might be his civil authority, was, respecting spiritual authority, exactly upon a level with his other brethren in the ministry; nor could he assume more than this without assuming to himself that to which he was not entitled,—the office of a bishop in the Church. Under these strange and irregular circumstances was the infant Church, brought from the British isles and planted in the wilderness of Australia, allowed to continue for about twelve years. The witness of a layman concerning this state of things may be here repeated: “I myself then saw a church without a bishop, and I trust in God I may never see it again.”[175] In 1824, the Rev. T. H. Scott was appointed Archdeacon of New South Wales, and there were then eight chaplains in the colony, which covered a vast expanse of country, and contained, in 1821, (three years earlier,) 29,783 souls, of whom 13,814 were convicts. Thus was New South Wales provided with “a very liberal ecclesiastical establishment,” according to the liberal views of one of its leading historians;[176] and as its population increased, so, in some degree, if not in an equal proportion, did the number of its clergy, so that, in September, 1833, the number of souls in the colony was 60,794,[177] (of whom 16,151 were convicts, [Pg 296] and 17,238 Roman Catholics,) and the number of clergymen was fifteen, besides the archdeacon and four catechists. Archdeacon Scott was succeeded, in 1829, by the Rev. W. G. Broughton, whose zeal and activity reflect honour alike upon himself and upon the discernment of the noble patron, the Duke of Wellington, who, it is believed, first recommended him to that office. After enduring labour, and toil, and anxiety, such as those only know who have to bear the heat and burden of the day in the Lord’s vineyard, at length the archdeacon was made, by permission of the English government under Lord Melbourne, in 1836, Bishop of Australia; and the foundation of an Apostolical and Scriptural Church in the Great Southern Land was at length duly laid, by the consecration of that prelate, at Lambeth, on February 14th, 1836. The old stipend assigned to the archdeacon was to be continued without any increase to the Bishop of Australia; and since 2000l. a-year was undoubtedly a very ample provision for the former, it was thought that it might be found sufficient for the latter; and so it would be, if the British government were willing to provide properly for the spiritual wants of the new diocese, and thus preserve the provision made for the bishop from being almost entirely swallowed up in endeavouring to satisfy the spiritual need of his people. This observation, however, justice compels us to make before we quit the present subject, namely, that, whatever opinion may be entertained of the dispositions of the British government, during the ten years following the passing of the Reform Bill, towards the English Church, for one fact every member of that church must feel deeply indebted to them. During the time of Lord Grey’s and Lord Melbourne’s holding office, no less than six new bishoprics were erected in the British colonies, and the first [Pg 297] impulse was encouraged of that good spirit which has since sent forth into foreign parts five bishops in one day to “preach the word, to be instant in season, out of season, to reprove, rebuke, exhort, with all long-suffering and doctrine.”[178]

Among the five new sees thus recently established, the pressing necessities of Australia have not been overlooked; and Tasmania, or Van Diemen’s Land, an island equal in size to Ireland, has been thought to claim justly a separate bishop for itself. The capital of this island is not less than 600 miles distant from Sydney, the seat of the bishopric of Australia; and with a population of 50,000, rapidly increasing, a large majority of whom are churchmen, its claims to have a bishop of its own are undeniable. And to these just claims the British government have listened so far as to devote the 800l. per annum formerly assigned to an archdeacon of Van Diemen’s Land towards the endowment of a bishop there, in addition to which sum 5000l. have been set apart from the Colonial Bishoprics Fund, and the remainder of what is necessary to provide the occupant of the new see with a decent maintenance is now being raised among those that feel interested in that particular colony, or in the general good work whereof this endowment forms only a part. Nor is it the intention of the promoters of this noble design of founding in our Australian and other colonies the complete framework of a Christian Church to stop short here. South Australia, a province even more thoroughly separated from Sydney than Tasmania is, has appeared well deserving of the attention of those that have the direction of this important work; and the zeal of some of the landed proprietors of the colony has [Pg 298] already prepared the way for the establishment of a bishopric in South Australia. The following extract is from the letter of a layman residing in the last-mentioned colony:—“At present, we are pronounced to be in a diocese, whilst the head of that diocese is living nearly 1200 miles away, and has never been here, and, in all probability never will be.” One person has offered to build, at his own cost, with the tenth part of his property in Australia, a church at Adelaide, to endow the see with land to the amount of 270l. per annum, and to furnish plans, &c. for a bishop’s residence; other gifts of land have likewise been contributed to the amount of 100l. per annum more. A grant of 5000l. has been obtained from the Colonial Bishoprics Fund, and it is hoped that, by the efforts of the friends of sound religion, an endowment of 1000l. per annum may speedily be completed for the intended bishopric.[179] And since the experience of the past forms a stable foundation of hope for the future, we may form a judgment of what will be done, under the Divine blessing, in Tasmania and South Australia, by what has been done in the diocese of Australia. In the charge of the bishop of the last-named see, delivered by him to his clergy in 1841, it is stated, that, before 1836, the date of his consecration, there were in the colony of New South Wales nine churches, eight chapels, or school-houses used as such, and five parsonage-houses; whereas, in 1841, nine new churches had been completed, four had been opened by licence, fifteen more were in course of erection; [Pg 299] and twelve new parsonages had been completed, while eight others were also in progress![180] So great a stimulus, during only five years, had the presence of the full and effective staff of an apostolical ministry added to the growth and increase of the Church in one single colony!

The history of education in the colony of New South Wales is an important and deeply interesting subject;—indeed, in what country is it not so?—but the struggles and disappointments of the friends of sound religious education,—of that education which an Englishman may be thankful to be permitted to call National,—have been very severe and trying. To borrow the language of an able statesman and eloquent writer, “not contented with excluding religion from the province of government, the spirit of the age struggles with not less zeal to introduce, as its substitute, education; that is to say, the cultivation of the intellect of the natural man instead of the heart and affections of the spiritual man—the abiding in the life of Adam, instead of passing into the life of Christ.”[181] This is precisely what has taken place in Australia. Only two years after the foundations of the colony had been laid, George III. was pleased to provide for the Church and for schools, by ordering the governor to allot in every township 400 acres of land for the maintenance of a minister, and 200 acres for the support of a schoolmaster. This provision continued to be assigned, and in many cases the portion of allotted glebe became of considerable value; but, in 1826, a yet more extensive and promising support was afforded by the British government to the cause of religious instruction [Pg 300] in New South Wales. The nature of this assistance may be detailed first in the words of a violent and not very sensible or consistent enemy of the Church of England, and then the reader may turn to the account given by one of its ablest and best friends. “I was utterly astounded,” says Dr. Lang, “in common with most of the colonists, at the promulgation of a royal charter appointing a Church and School Corporation for the religious instruction, and for the general education of the youth of the colony, on the principles of the Church of England, exclusively, and allotting a seventh of the whole territory, for that purpose, to the Episcopalian clergy, with free access, in the meantime, to the colonial treasury-chest. It will scarcely be believed that so wanton an insult as this precious document implied, could have been offered to the common sense of a whole community, even by the late tory administration; or that men could have been found in the nineteenth century to perpetrate so gross an outrage on the best feelings of a numerous body of reputable men.” During the ensuing four or five years, we are told by the same authority that it was completely in the power of the archdeacon and clergy “to have formed a noble institution for the general education of the youth of Australia with the very crumbs that fell from their corporation-table.”[182] They might, “if they had only been possessed of the smallest modicum of common sense, have secured the exclusive predominance of episcopacy in the management of the education of the whole colony, for all time coming.” And yet, adds the sagacious Scotchman, in the very next paragraph, “the yoke must [Pg 301] have proved intolerable in the end, and would sooner or later have been violently broken asunder during some general burst of public indignation.” After a grievous misrepresentation of the expenses incurred by the Church and School Corporation,[183] and a sneer at the want of education which is said to prevail among its members,[184] Dr. Lang contrives at last to land himself, if not his readers, at the desired conclusion, namely, that “ignorance is the mother of devotion” to colonial episcopacy!

But it is time to turn away from the pitiable spectacle of a man calling himself a minister of God’s word, but far better qualified for his other occupation, that of editing a party newspaper in a penal colony, and taking our leave of Dr. Lang with feelings of regret that he has not made a better use of those talents which have been given him: let us turn to the statement given by Judge Burton, of the Church and School Corporation in New South Wales. It is correct that one-seventh part in extent and value of the land in New South Wales, was intended to be set apart for the supply of religious instruction and education to the whole colony. It is true, likewise, that the English government, in 1826, entrusted this endowment for these good purposes entirely to the Church of England; and to what other body could a thoroughly English government have entrusted it? What course could be more suitable to [Pg 302] the principles of the English constitution? Or who in those days suspected the very dissenters, who in England regard the help of the state as an abomination, of being anxious themselves to partake freely of that help in Australia? However, the arrangements were completed, and the charter of the Church and School Corporation was signed in 1826; and at the same time the burden of defraying the regular expenses of the existing clergy and schools, was immediately transferred from the parliamentary grants and the colonial revenue to the newly formed corporation. But, whatever might have been the future value of the endowment thus bestowed upon the Australian Church, its immediate produce was little or nothing; the reserves are stated to have not been fairly portioned out, many of them were allotted in inconvenient or distant situations and unprofitable soils; private interest was allowed to take the first place in the division of land, and persons who would have scorned to defraud men, were happy to be allowed to rob God of his rights and the poor of the means of having the gospel preached to them. Nor, even although these hindrances had not arisen, would there have been any sufficient income arising during the first years from the property of the corporation, unless they had sold this with utter recklessness of the means of securing a future permanent endowment. That portion of their lands which was most improved, was either judiciously sold, or else let; and other parts of it were gradually being brought under cultivation, and improved in value; but meanwhile the increasing yearly expenses of the ecclesiastical establishment were to be met. For this purpose, some money was borrowed on debentures, and an advance was made to the corporation from the colonial treasury; and thus, during three years, were the exertions of the corporation crippled and restrained. [Pg 303] When they were beginning to get somewhat clear of these first difficulties, when their estates were becoming profitable, and their flocks and herds increasing, they were directed to suspend any further proceedings, no more lands were granted them, and they were informed that their charter was to be revoked. This notification was made in 1829, though the revocation did not actually take place till 1833.

In reply to the inquiry, why the Church and School Corporation in New South Wales should have been thus suddenly dissolved, and that, too, at the very time when its means were beginning to be available for the fulfilment of the intentions of its foundation, no other answer can be found besides that suggested by Judge Burton. It was done, no doubt, by way of yielding to the clamour of the secret and open enemies of the Church of England; and the very opposition of Infidels, Romanists, and Dissenters, combined, in jarring harmony, together, bears a strong witness of the value of the object of attack. The sop that was thus thrown to the greedy demon of religious strife, was by no means successful in satisfying or appeasing him; like most other similar concessions, it served only to whet the appetite for more; and it is to God’s undeserved mercies, not to her own efforts, or to the wisdom of her rulers, that England herself owes the preservation at that time of her national Church. And now that the Church and School Corporation in Australia has been abolished these ten years, what are the results; who is the better for its destruction? If this establishment had been permitted to remain, “certainly, at this day its funds would have been sufficient to relieve the government altogether of the charge of maintaining the clergy and schools of the colony.”[185] The estimated expenses of “Church establishments,” [Pg 304] and “school establishments,” for New South Wales in 1842, were respectively, 35,981l. 10s., and 16,322l. 10s.,[186] so that by this time the saving to government, arising from the continuance of the corporation, would have amounted to no trifling annual sum. But, what is of far more importance, and what was foreseen by the enemies of the Church of England when they compassed the ruin of the corporation, the means of “lengthening its cords and strengthening its stakes,” would have been placed within the power of the Australian Church. And since, under every disadvantage, during the short time in which the charter continued to be in force, “the churches were increased in number and better provided, the schools were considerably more than doubled in number, and their effectiveness increased, while their expenses were lessened,”[187] what might have been expected from the same instrument in a longer period of time, and after the first difficulties had been overcome? However, for wise and good purposes, no doubt, it was not permitted that the experiment should be tried; and while we regret that the Church in Australia is not more efficient and better supported than it is, we may yet feel thankful that, by the grace of God, it is as it is.

It affords a sad proof of the continued enmity of the world against Christ, to turn from the noisy outcries of the children of Mammon about economy and ecclesiastical expenses, and to fix our eyes upon the plain matter of fact. When it was confidently asserted, by the highest colonial authority, that the wants of the Australian [Pg 305] Church were fairly supplied, the Bishop, in 1837, mentioned by name no less than fifteen places where clergymen were immediately needed. And it is no uncommon occurrence, as in the church at Mudgee, (quite in the wilderness,) for a consecration to take place, the church to be filled, the inhabitants around delighted, their children baptized, and then the building is closed for an indefinite period, until some clergyman be found to officiate! Some persons may hold that to save money is better than to save souls, but let not these men aspire to the name of Christians.

But, in spite of such enemies, whether endowed or not, whether supported or spurned by the state authorities, the Church is likely to prove a blessing and a safeguard to our Australian colonies. The absence of endowment, the want of worldly means of extension, these are losses not to the Church, but to the state. And while each individual member is bound to spare of his abundance, or even of his poverty, for a work so good and holy as that of propagating the gospel in foreign parts, especially in our colonies;[188] while every lawful effort is to be made to do what we can to resist the progress of evil, we may be satisfied to wait quietly the result. Nor, [Pg 306] among other acts of christian charity, will a faithful member of Christ’s visible Church ever forget to pray for those unhappy men whose extraordinary professions of religion are too often found to end in fruits like these,—in opposing all extension of what they deny not to be, in the main, a scriptural Church, in straining at the smallest particle of endowment, or public assistance for religious objects at home, whilst abroad they can swallow a whole camel’s load of public money or church plunder, when it serves their occasion! May God, in his wisdom, overrule the mischief, and in his mercy forgive the evils of which men of this description have recently been the occasion, both in England and in its colonies!

[Pg 307]



Whatever may be the natural charms or advantages of any region, these are nothing without inhabitants; and however abundantly the means of riches, the comforts, luxuries, or necessaries of life may be scattered around, these are comparatively lost without man to enjoy and to use them. The garden of Eden itself was not perfected until beings were placed in it capable of admiring its beauties and rejoicing in its blessings. And in every country, especially in a civilised country, when we have gone through the length and breadth of the land, examining its natural features and speculating upon its capabilities and future destiny, there is still left a most interesting and important subject of consideration, nor can our knowledge of any region be reckoned complete, until we are acquainted with the present condition of its inhabitants. In the preceding pages it has been found impossible, indeed, to avoid frequently touching upon a topic, which is so closely interwoven with the whole subject; but there still remains abundance of miscellaneous information concerning the present state of the [Pg 308] inhabitants of the Australian colonies to be detailed, without which, indeed, the task we have undertaken would be left altogether incomplete.

Though intellectual man is the principal object in God’s creation upon earth, yet it is not the mere “march of intellect,” but it is the advancement of truth and righteousness,—the gradual outpouring of that knowledge of God which shall cover the earth as the waters cover the seas,—that can cause “the desert to rejoice and blossom as the rose.” The recollection, therefore, of the sort of men with whom Great Britain has partly peopled the lonely shores of Australia,—the remembrance that these men, too morally diseased to be allowed to remain among ourselves, have been cast forth to die, with little or no thought about bringing them to the Great Physician of souls to be made whole,—these reflections have before been offered, and must here be repeated again. We read with pleasure and interest of benevolent travellers, anxious to benefit the countries which they are exploring, scattering around them in favourable spots the seeds of useful plants and noble trees, in the hope that these may hereafter prove beneficial to generations yet unborn. And in like manner may the mother country be said to scatter abroad in her colonies the seeds not only of good, but of evil also. Many admirable institutions, not a few excellent individuals and christian families, have been planted in Australian lands; a branch of Christ’s Church has been placed there, and has taken firm hold of the soil, and numberless other promises of future excellence may be traced by the thankful and inquiring mind. But then, on the contrary, we must not lose sight of the tares that are so abundantly springing up together with the wheat; it is impossible to deny that rank and poisonous [Pg 309] weeds have there been scattered along with the good seed, nay, instead of it. What might have been the present state of Australia, if all, or almost all, its free inhabitants had been faithful Christians, steadfast “in the Apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread and in prayers?” How great an effect might the “salt,” thus placed in those remote parts of the earth, have had in rescuing from corruption that mass of uncleanness, which has been removed thither from our own shores! Now, alas! nowhere more than in some of the Australian settlements “are the works of the flesh manifest, which are these, adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like.”[189]

One cause, unquestionably, of the peculiar prevalence of many of these evil works is the strange elements of which society in Australia is composed. In its lowest rank is found the unhappy criminal, whose liberty has been forfeited, and who is, for a time at least, reduced to a state of servitude in punishment of his offences. Next to this last-named class come the emancipists, as they are called, who have once been in bondage, but by working out their time, or by good conduct, have become free; these and their descendants constitute a distinct and very wealthy class in New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land. The third and highest class is formed of men who have settled as free persons in the colonies, and of their descendants; and between this last class and the two first a considerable distinction is kept up, from which, (it has already been noticed,) miserable [Pg 310] dissensions, jealousies, and heartburnings, have frequently arisen. To an impartial person, beholding these petty discords from the contrary side of the globe, it is pretty plain that both classes are in fault.

It is well known that the system of assigning convicts to various masters has been practised ever since the colony at Port Jackson was first established, and thus the expense of maintaining so many thousands of people has been thrown upon the settlers, who were amply repaid by the value of their labour; by means of which, likewise, the land was brought into cultivation, and the produce of the soil increased. One great argument against the system of transportation, as a punishment, is drawn from this practice of assignment, which, it is asserted, makes the penalty “as uncertain as the diversity of temper, character, and occupation amongst human beings can render it.” Certain rules and conditions were laid down for the treatment of convict servants, and if these behave themselves well, they are allowed “a ticket of leave,” extending over a certain district, within which the holder of the ticket becomes, in fact, a free person; subject, however, to the loss of this privilege in case of his committing any offence. After a certain number of years, the holder of the ticket of leave is allowed to receive a “conditional pardon,” which extends only to the limits of the colony, but is no longer liable to be withdrawn at the will of government. The “absolute pardon,” of course, extends everywhere, and restores the party receiving it to all the rights and privileges of a British subject.[190] The custom of assigning male convicts has, however, been discontinued lately in the elder colony, although women are still assigned to [Pg 311] the settlers by government, or at least were so until very recently. But besides the employment of the convicts by private persons, a vast number of these are constantly engaged in public works, and to the facility of obtaining labour thus afforded does New South Wales owe some of its greatest improvements, especially in roads, bridges, public buildings, and the like undertakings. It is scarcely to be supposed that employment of this kind, when the men must necessarily work in gangs, is so favourable for their moral improvement and reformation as residence in a private family and occupation in rural pursuits is generally likely to prove; though the contrary notion is supported in the recent Report of the Transportation Committee, since, in the former case, they are under stricter discipline. However, it has always been customary to make the public works a sort of punishment, and private service a reward for convicts; and those that have been returned from the latter with complaints, are usually put upon the roads for at least six months; so that, if this system really stands in the way of the improvement of offenders, it keeps those that conduct themselves well from the beginning quite clear of the bad example of less hopeful characters. It is a sad truth, however, in Australia, as it often is found to be in England, that “the most skilful mechanics are generally the worst behaved and most drunken,” and, consequently, most liable to punishment in the public gangs.

By way of introducing the reader to the kind of life led by those unhappy beings who labour in Australia at the public roads, and to give him also some idea of the spiritual work which the ministers of Christ’s Church in a penal colony may be called upon to perform, the following sketch from a private letter will be not unacceptable:—“In [Pg 312] a few minutes I am at the stockade where more than 60 men are immediately mustered; the [Roman] ‘Catholics’[191] are sent back to their boxes, the ‘Protestants’ assemble under a shed, open on two sides, and filled with a few coarse boards for tables and forms, where the men get their meals. Their boxes are wooden buildings of uniform structure, in which the prisoners are locked up from sundown to sunrise. The roof is shingled, the sides are weather-board, the door in the middle is secured by a padlock, and above the door is a grating to admit the light and air, a similar grating being placed exactly opposite to it. The internal arrangements are simple in the extreme, where you see a gangway in the middle, and two tiers of hard planks or dressers for the men to lie upon; their bedding being, I believe, only a blanket. As there is no division to form separate bed-places, the four-and-twenty or thirty men who share these boxes lie like the pigs, and make the best of it they can. When a prisoner has served his time in irons, he is removed to a probationary gang; that which I am describing is an ironed gang. These men are dressed in a motley suit of grey and yellow alternately, each seam being of a different colour; and the irons being secured to each ancle, and, for the relief of the wearer, made fast from the legs to the waist. The whole stockade is sometimes enclosed with high palings, and sometimes open. The service of the Church is performed under the shed where the men assemble for meals. The men behave well or ill as the sergeant in charge takes an [Pg 313] interest in it or not. Here the sergeant and a dozen young soldiers are constant at prayers. The responses are given by all that can read, our blessed societies having furnished Bibles and Prayer-books for all. Every change of position is attended with the clank of chains, which at first harrows your soul: but time does wonders, you know; you forget the irons after a while. A full service and a sermon. You hear an application or two from prisoners about their worldly matters,—chiefly from the craftiest, oldest hands; wish them good morning, and away.

“It is now half-past ten: there lies the hot and dusty road before you, without shelter of any kind, and the sun pours down his fiery beams; no cloud, no intermission. If a breeze blows, it may be hotter than from the mouth of a furnace. Well, courage; step out, it is five miles to the other stockade. A flock of sheep,—the dog baying, the driver blaspheming; a dray or two of hay; a few carts loaded with oranges. Up the hill, down the hill, and so on, till, a little after twelve, you arrive at the other stockade. This is a probationary gang, that is to say, it is composed of those against whom complaints have been made by their respective masters, and who are not assignable to other individuals for six months. In this gang are six-and-twenty persons, of whom two are [Roman] ‘Catholics.’ No motley dress, but all in dark grey; no irons. A corporal and one private for a guard, and both of them exemplary at prayers. Here I have the afternoon service. Generally about this time the wind is up; and here, in a state of perspiration, the breeze gives me a thorough chilling under the open shed; and often clouds of dust come rushing through upon us, as bad as the worst days in March along one of the great roads in England. But the service is attended in a gratifying manner, insomuch [Pg 314] that it would shame many home congregations. The corporal here teaches the poor fellows who require it to read and write, so that even here we find instances of christian charity, without sinister or vain motives, which may well stimulate us and provoke our exertions.”

From this picture of the condition of some of those convicts that are undergoing punishment, we may turn to the more pleasing view, which a gentleman of large property in Australia, Mr. Potter Macqueen, has drawn of the condition of his own assigned servants. Of course, much of the chance of the servant’s improvement must depend, humanly speaking, upon the sort of master into whose hands he is thrown, and Mr. Macqueen would appear to have behaved kindly and judiciously to those entrusted to his care. Occasionally a severe example of punishment was made, and extra labour or stoppage of indulgences, as milk, tea, sugar, or tobacco, were found effectual correction for most faults, whilst additional industry was rewarded by fresh indulgences. Of some deserving men Mr. Macqueen had even brought over the wives and families at his own expense. And what, in this world, could be a greater instance of the luxury of doing good than to behold the family and partner of one who has, though a convict, conducted himself well, restored once more to their long-lost parent and husband, and settled in his new country as pledges of his future continuance in well-doing? Marriage, altogether, was encouraged on the estate of the gentleman already mentioned, as a means of recalling the convicts from bad habits, and urging them to industry and good behaviour; and this wise course has been generally rewarded by witnessing their happiness, and receiving their gratitude. During five years of residence in Australia about two hundred convicts and ticket-of-leave men passed through Mr. Macqueen’s establishment, [Pg 315] and the following account is interesting, since it serves to show what may be done, even with a convict population:—

Free, or enjoying their ticket, married and thoroughly reclaimed 14
Ditto, ditto, single men 49
Free from expiration of sentence, but worthless 7
Returned home to England after becoming free 1
Well-conducted men, as yet under sentence 62
Indifferent, not trustworthy 29
Depraved characters, irreclaimable 7
Sent to iron gangs and penal settlements 11
Escaped 1
Died 3
Given up at request of Government 2
Returned to Government hospital from ill health 4

To encourage reformation, and check that spirit of idleness which is the mother of mischief, alike in convicts and free people, it is strongly recommended to allow the well-disposed men to profit by their own industry. It is forbidden to pay money to prisoners, at least before they obtain their ticket, but they may be rewarded by tea, sugar, tobacco, Cape wine, extra clothing, &c. Mr. Macqueen had one Scotchman, who, under this system, actually sheared 101 sheep in the day, being allowed at the rate of 2s. 6d. per score upon all above 25, which is the quantity fixed by the government rule for a man to do in a single day. And in the same establishment, acting upon like inducements, might be seen sawyers and fencers working by moonlight; and others making tin vessels for utensils, bows for bullocks, &c., in their huts at night. From this method of management a very great degree of comfort arises, of which Mr. Macqueen gives the following instance in a convict’s feast, which he once witnessed. At Christmas, 1837, one of his assigned servants, (who had a narrow escape from capital conviction at home,) requested leave to [Pg 316] draw the amount of some extra labour from the stores, since he wished to give an entertainment to a few of his colleagues, all of whom were named and were well conducted men. The party making this application had been industrious and well-behaved, being besides very cleanly in his hut, and attentive to his garden and poultry, so the request was granted, and his master had the curiosity to observe the style of the festival. The supper consisted of good soup, a dish of fine mullet out of the adjoining river, two large fowls, a piece of bacon, roast beef, a couple of wild ducks and a plum-pudding, accompanied by cauliflower, French beans, and various productions of his garden, together with the delicious water-melon of the country; they had a reasonable quantity of Cape wine with their meal, and closed their evening with punch and smoking.[192]

But the picture of the peculiar class by which a penal colony is distinguished from all others will not be complete without a darker shade of colouring than those upon which we have been gazing. It is a painful feeling to contemplate the past condition of one portion of the convict population, but it is a wholesome exercise of the mind, and has already produced an improvement in that wretched state. Besides, it surely is only fitting that a great, a free, and enlightened nation should know what is the ultimate fate of a part of its outcast population; nor need Englishmen shrink from hearing the history, whilst England herself shrinks not from inflicting the reality of those horrors which have defiled the beautiful shores of Norfolk Island.[193] In 1834 Judge Burton visited this [Pg 317] spot, the penal settlement of a penal settlement, for the purpose of trying 130 prisoners, who had very nearly succeeded in overpowering and murdering the military, after which they intended to make their escape. Eight years before this time, Norfolk Island had been first made a penal settlement; and never during all that period had its wretched inhabitants received any such reproof, consolation, or instruction as the Church gives to its members. The picture presented before the mind of the judge was an appalling one, and he can speak of Norfolk Island only in general terms, as being “a cage full of unclean birds, full of crimes against God and man, murders and blasphemies, and all uncleanness.” We know well what bad men are in England. Take some of the worst of these, let them be sent to New South Wales, and then let some of the very worst of these worst men be again removed to another spot, where they may herd together, and where there are no pains taken about their moral or religious improvement, where, literally speaking, no man careth for their souls:—such was Norfolk Island. And what right had England to cast these souls, as it were, beyond the reach of salvation? Where was the vaunted christian feeling of our proud nation when she delivered these poor creatures over to the hands of Satan, in the hope that her worldly peace, and comfort, and property might be no longer disturbed by their crimes? Had she ordered her fleet to put these men ashore on some desolate island to starve and to die, the whole world would have rung with her cruelty. But now, when it is merely their souls that [Pg 318] are left to starve, when it is only the means of eternal life that they are defrauded of, how few notice it, nay, how few have ever heard of the sin in which the whole nation is thus involved!

One of the prisoners tried in 1834 was a man of singular ability and great presence of mind, and by him Norfolk Island was represented to be a “hell upon earth;” and so it was as far as the company of evil spirits glorying in evil deeds could make it. “Let a man’s heart,” he added, “be what it will, when he comes here, his man’s heart is taken from him, and there is given to him the heart of a beast.” Another said, “It was no mercy to send us to this place; I do not ask life, I do not want to be spared, on condition of remaining here; life is not worth having on such terms.” Another unhappy being was sentenced to die, and began passionately to exclaim and entreat that he might not die without confession. “Oh, your honour,” he said, “as you hope to be saved yourself, do not let me die without seeing my priest. I have been a very wicked man indeed, I have committed many other crimes for which I ought to die, but do not send me out of the world without seeing my priest!” This poor man was a Roman Catholic; he seems not to have known that he might go at once to his Heavenly Father with a heartfelt acknowledgment of his faults, and so he obtained a rude figure of the cross, and in miserable agony pronounced before that, as he embraced it, his brief exclamations for mercy. Others mentioned in moving terms the hopelessness of their lot, and another of them spoke also of what rendered the state they were in one of utter despair; and the statement which he made was perfectly true: he said, addressing the judge, “What is done, your honour, to make us better? once a week we are drawn up in the square opposite the military barrack, and the military are drawn up in front of us with [Pg 319] loaded muskets and fixed bayonets, and a young officer then comes to the fence, and reads part of the prayers, and that takes, may be, about a quarter of an hour, and that is all the religion that we see.”[194]

Urged by appeals like these, which no heart could well resist, Judge Burton reprieved the convicted prisoners, until the whole case should be laid before the government, and at least religious consolation and assistance might be obtained for those who were to suffer capital punishment. Eleven of the prisoners were afterwards executed, but not without having been visited by ministers of religion, who were sent for that express purpose from Sydney. The kind and christian judge exerted himself in behalf of the outcast population of Norfolk Island, “that modern Gomorrah,” as it has been called; and, as usual, improvement in bodily comforts or morals was much more willingly undertaken by those in authority than spiritual reformation. His advice respecting the propriety of diminishing the number of prisoners confined together was speedily attended to. His efforts to procure religious reproof, instruction, and consolation were not so soon successful; they were, however, nobly continued, and at length both Protestant and Roman Catholic chaplains were appointed to the island. But this great object was not gained without giving offence. Strange that any party could take offence at efforts of this description, and stranger still that men professing a general regard for religion, and avowedly possessed of consciences exquisitely tender, and of charity unbounded, should, notwithstanding, object to the conscientious and charitable efforts in the cause of religion of which we have just been speaking! However, these impotent struggles have signally failed, and now there are clergy [Pg 320] both of the English and Roman Church in Norfolk Island, while the moral condition of the prisoners there is stated to have improved greatly. In 1837 the Rev. Mr. Sharpe was removed thither, at his own request, from Pitt Town in New South Wales, and his labours and ministrations are said to have been useful and effectual. But even here, in this effort to save some of Christ’s lost sheep, the unhappy circumstances of our penal colonies were manifested. When Mr. Sharpe was removed to Norfolk Island, a larger and more important sphere of usefulness, his little parish on the Hawkesbury, was for a time left without a pastor. And this distressing trial is frequently occurring; when illness, or death, or removal, deprives a parish of its spiritual shepherd, for a time at least his place is liable to be left vacant, and his people likely to become as sheep going astray. It appears likewise, from the Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, that an assistant-chaplain for Norfolk Island was appointed in 1841. There have been two clergymen of the Church of Rome in the island ever since 1838, an arrangement which was alleged to be necessary, in order that the chaplain himself might not be deprived of private confession and absolution.[195] There was no church in the island a few years ago, but a room in one settlement and a barn in the other were the places where divine service was regularly attended. Besides the Morning and Evening Prayers on Sunday, divine service takes place five times during the week, twice in the gaol, twice in the hospital, and once a week for those men who are exempt from work, their sentences having expired. There may, as has been stated, be much [Pg 321] hypocrisy in Norfolk Island,[196] but surely the spirit which was offended at efforts that have wrought even these changes in a spot of extreme moral and religious desolation, may, without breach of charity, be pronounced to have been an unclean and evil spirit. Can this language be justly deemed too strong, when the facts already stated are borne in mind; when, (to sum up the whole case in a single example,) it is remembered that in one year, 1838, the colonial government of New South Wales paid 57,740l. 11s. 3d. for its police establishment and gaols, while the very utmost that was spent in providing religious instruction for all the prisoners within the limits of the colony amounted, during the same period, to less than 1000l.?[197]

It is stated on good authority,—that of Sir George Arthur, who was formerly governor of Van Diemen’s Land,—that not more than two convicts in every hundred quit the colony and return to England.[198] The expense and difficulty of procuring a passage home operates as a sufficient check to prevent this being frequently obtained; nor, supposing that the English people would act in a kind and christian spirit towards the most deserving men of this class, would either they or the nation be losers. If the wives and families of the most meritorious men could be brought out to them at the public cost, what reasonable cause of regret would an emancipated convict feel for his home,—the scene of his crimes and of his disgrace,—in the mother country? And with respect to the great objection,—the cost of such a [Pg 322] system,—what would that be compared with the advantage which the rapid increase of an English population in Australia is sure to bring, by creating fresh demands for our goods and manufactures? If ours were a wise and understanding nation, if we would spend a portion of our riches in promoting the morals, the comfort, and the religious instruction of our outcast population, we might, in numberless instances, turn the very dregs of our people into means of increasing our prosperity; we might frequently render those that are now the mere refuse of the earth, happy, contented, loyal subjects; and the blessings of them that were ready to perish spiritually would be continually resounding from the far distant shores of Australia upon that Divine Mercy which would have all men to be saved, and upon that nation which would thus have offered itself to be a willing agent and instrument for the furtherance of this gracious design.

In the present condition of New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, with so large a proportion of their population in bondage, and such slender means of moral improvement and religious instruction provided for them by the mother country, it would be unreasonable to hope that the convict population can be otherwise than very bad. There may be many exceptions; and at the end of all things here below, it may be found that some of those poor outcasts, and some of the men who have cast them forth to perish, and now despise them, may fill, respectively, the places of the Publican and Pharisee in our Lord’s parable; the convict may leave the throne of judgment justified rather than his master; the poor repentant criminal may be pardoned, while the proud one,—the self-sufficiency of the nation, by which he was transported, and left without further care,—may be condemned. Still, however, the general character of [Pg 323] the convicts is undoubtedly bad; and the various modes of deceit and dishonesty practised upon their masters, the love of gambling, of strong liquors, and of every kind of licentiousness prevailing in the penal colonies, would fill a volume of equal size and interest with that which is said to be a favourite book in New South Wales,—the Newgate Calendar. Those that are curious upon these subjects may be referred to the thick volume in blue cover, which contains an account of the labours of the Committee upon Transportation, 1837; but when the evidence therein contained is read, it must be with some grains of allowance; the avowed object of Sir W. Molesworth’s motion for the committee, was enmity against the whole system of transportation; and a large majority of those that sat in the committee were, it is believed, of his opinion; at all events, they belonged to his party in politics. So that, before justice can be done to the real state of the convicts, we want to have evidence of an opposite tendency, like that of Mr. Potter Macqueen, already quoted; and before the question, whether transportation is a desirable mode of punishing, or a likely means of reforming criminals, can be fairly decided, inquiry must be made, not respecting what has been done, but respecting what might have been done, or may even yet be done, in our penal colonies.

Before the subject of the convict population is dismissed, it may be well to notice those called specials; that is, men of education, and of a somewhat higher rank in life than the generality of exiles in New South Wales. These were formerly treated with great consideration; for, after having passed a short period of probation, they were employed as clerks to auctioneers or attornies; nay, the instruction of youth was too often, in default of better teachers, committed into their hands. Nor was this all. In former times, persons of [Pg 324] this description have been very much connected with the public press; and the enlightened people of New South Wales have sometimes, it may be feared, been blindly led by an unprincipled convict, when they imagined that they were wisely judging for themselves. The reformation of these specials is said to be more hopeless than that of other prisoners; and very commonly they are confirmed drunkards. Strange materials these from which to form instructors for youth, trustworthy agents of private property, or leaders of public opinion! However, by the progress of emigration, the influence of these men is now superseded; besides which, they have been gradually removed from the government offices, and those that now arrive are employed in hard labour.

[Pg 325]

image conveying cattle over the murray, near lake alexandria.




Respecting the next class of which the population consists in our penal colonies,—that of emancipists, or persons formerly in bondage as convicts, they appear to be pretty nearly what might be expected of a body of men under such circumstances. Although there are many honourable exceptions to the general rule, yet it would seem to be a general rule that roguery and industry are usually connected among them; and that where an emancipist is less inclined to be dishonest, he is more inclined to be idle and improvident; while it often occurs that both faults are found together in one person. Of course, it would be vain to hope that all convicts, or even the majority, perhaps, should become completely reformed; but it is sickening to the heart [Pg 326] that has any christian feeling, to find descriptions like the following, given by one amply qualified to judge, of the deplorable moral and social state of many of those unhappy men after their time of service has expired. “The newly-arrived convict” (Mr. MacArthur states) “sees examples immediately before him of men, formerly in the same condition with himself, wallowing in licentiousness, and possessed of wealth, amassed generally by dishonest means, which they continue, in many instances, still to augment, by keeping grog-shops and gambling-houses, by receiving stolen goods, and by other nefarious practices. This is the general conduct of the class of emancipated convicts who acquire property, as well as of some unprincipled adventurers in the class of free emigrants. There are, however, among the emancipated convicts of property exceptions from this prevalent depravity; rare, indeed, and on that account the more honourable.”[199] And numberless, in the earlier history of New South Wales, are the evil consequences which are recorded to have arisen from the necessity which then existed of employing either convicts, or else men recently emancipated, in places of the highest trust and importance. One striking example may suffice; and it is believed that no injustice is done to the class of men now alluded to, when it is stated that the guilty parties were persons belonging to that body. Soon after the departure of Governor Hunter, in 1800, it was discovered that the clerks who were admitted to the registers of the terms of the transportation of the convicts, had altered the sentences of nearly [Pg 327] 200 prisoners, on receiving from each a sum equal in value to ten or twelve pounds.[200] Of these examples the early history of the colony is full; but, in later years, it may be hoped, that time, and public opinion, and the tide of emigration, have combined to render the conduct of persons belonging to this class less generally objectionable than it formerly was. The greater portion of the shop-keepers, and what may be called the middling classes in Sydney, were emancipists; and their wealth and influence were so great, that, during the years 1834, 1835, and 1836, one-fourth of the jurors who served in the civil and criminal courts belonged to that body. These persons are often very little educated; and young men possessed of from 1000l. to 2000l. a-year in stock, can sometimes neither read nor write. Cock-fighting, driving, and badger-baiting, are pursuits that occupy youths of this class very frequently; and a showy, tawdry style of dress, engages the attention of the young women. Certainly, it is not of materials of this kind, that the English constitution would have juries composed; and it is not surprising that so large a proportion of jurors, who have themselves once stood at the bar of justice, should be the means of carrying undue partiality for the guilty into the jurors’ box, and also of keeping out of that responsible station all those who can in any way escape its duties.[201] Respectable men will not, if they can avoid it, sit in the same box with men who go in with their minds entirely made up to acquit the guilty, whatever may be the tenor of the evidence to which they have just been listening, whatever [Pg 328] the sacredness of the oath they have recently taken. If practical experience is of any real value, then it may safely be pronounced that men, who are scarcely fit to enjoy the privilege of sitting upon juries, are certainly at present unprepared for the introduction of a representative form of legislation and government. The civil juries of New South Wales have held the scales of justice uncommonly even, for they have managed to acquit about 50 per cent. of the persons tried; whereas in Great Britain, and even in Ireland, the acquittals are 19 per cent., and the convictions 81 per cent. A strange, but not unaccountable difference, which, so long as it may continue, will furnish a strong argument of the unfitness of the colony for a representative assembly. Men that have not the principle to put good laws into execution, are very ill qualified to make good laws, or to elect good legislators. And when, to suit party purposes, a clamour is raised about the injustice of denying fresh “constitutional rights” to our fellow-subjects in Australia, we may quietly dispose of this (hitherto absurd and mischievous) claim by referring the very parties raising it to the accounts published, under the sanction chiefly of men of their own opinions, respecting the use made of those rights with which the inhabitants of the penal colonies are already invested. When the evils of the system of transportation are to be exposed, the truth may be told respecting the state of the Australian juries;[202] but why should it not [Pg 329] be still declared,—why should not truth always be told,—even at the hazard of checking “liberal principles,” and delaying representative houses of assembly for the Australian colonies, until the time when they may know how to use them, so that these may prove a benefit instead of an evil to them?

Respecting the last and highest class of society in our penal colonies, the free population, no great deal need be said in particular, since, except from peculiar circumstances, they are pretty much the same in character with the bulk of the population in any other country. But their peculiar circumstances must, in fairness to the class last mentioned, be briefly noticed. Undoubtedly, without any disrespect to emigrants, it may be laid down as an acknowledged fact, that hitherto this class, though it has comprised many excellent, clever, and good men, has not usually been composed of the flower of the English nation. Supposing that things are now altered for the better, time was—and that not many years ago—when “every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented,” was apt to swell the tide of emigration to our British colonies in Australia. Upon arriving there they found a regular system of caste established; and since as members of the free population they were at once exalted to the highest places, this was a system which in most cases flattered the pride of the settlers. Possibly many of the faults of the emancipist class might be traced to the treatment they have received at the hands of the free, and these faults react again as causes and excuses for keeping them at still greater distance than ever. And however natural, however necessary, a distinction of ranks is and must be in every society of men, yet [Pg 330] nothing can be more unnatural or mischievous than a system of dividing men into castes. Unhappily, this division, the fruitful source of all kinds of evil feeling, has to a great extent prevailed in our penal colonies; and nothing, it may be boldly asserted, except religion will ever root it out. Attempt to continue the exclusive privilege of caste to the free population, and you sow the seeds of a servile rebellion. Open your hands to give concessions and privileges to the emancipists, and you scatter good seed upon the stony rock, you vainly endeavour to satisfy the daughters of the horse-leech. But infuse a christian feeling into all classes, get them to meet in the same church, to kneel at the same table, to partake in the same spiritual blessings, and then you may hope that all, whether free or emancipists, will feel themselves to be members of one another, portions of the same body, held in union of heart and soul by means of the same head; “for by One Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free, and have been all made to drink into One Spirit.”[203]

After all that has been stated respecting the three great classes into which society in Australia is divided, it need scarcely be added that the taste displayed by many of the inhabitants of the metropolis of New South Wales is none of the purest or best. Gay equipages, dashing horses, tandems, and racers, are among the favourite exhibitions of the wealth of the emancipist. For music or paintings but little taste prevails in Sydney, and for books, except those of a very low and worthless character, there is no great demand. A fine house, a fine carriage, fine horses, plenty of spirits to drink, appear to be thought the chief goods of human life; and among persons in every class, the acquisition [Pg 331] of money is the one great object. Indeed this last passion, the love of gain, can scarcely be mentioned among the perverted habits by which the Australian colonies are infested, since it seems scarcely possible that the worship of Mammon can be practised more openly or carried much further than it is in the mother country. Yet the temptations to prefer gain to every thing else are unusually strong in these settlements. Professions have been abandoned because they are laborious and unprofitable, while clergymen, medical gentlemen, soldiers, government officers, in short, all classes of men, have made haste to get rich by holding land and stock. An estate, which originally cost little or nothing, grows yearly in value, without a penny being spent upon it; stock speedily increases at very small cost, for there is abundance of pasture for it; and when the settler finds these means of gaining wealth opened to him, he is too apt to devote all his thoughts and energies to this one object. “I have known,” says Captain Grey, “an honourable member of council, and leading magistrate in a colony, take out a retail licence, and add to his already vast wealth from the profits of a gin-shop.”[204]

The evil spirit of covetousness assumes to itself various shapes and appearances according to varying circumstances; and among the characters which it calls into life in Australia, that of a landshark is one of the most remarkable and hateful. When an emigrant arrives at Sydney, he is able, perhaps after considerable delay, to give notice to Government of his wish to purchase some desirable spot of land, which is then selected to be put up to auction; and when it has been duly surveyed, the sale at last takes place. But to the poor emigrant’s astonishment and disappointment the land, which he has chosen so as not to interfere with other property, [Pg 332] which is unoccupied, and entirely useless both in a public and private sense,—is bid for, and finally knocked down to another at an unreasonable price.[205] This other person is a “landshark,” who has gained, perchance, a fortune by regularly attending sales and buying up land that is known to be desired by another. The “shark,” true to his name, wishes either to get his opposition bought off by a bribe, or else hopes to sell his bargain at a profit from the unwillingness of his victim to lose any more time or money in gaining a settlement, with the risk of meeting, after all, with a second disappointment. In case of the “shark’s” scheme proving unsuccessful, there is only the small trifle required as earnest of the purchase to be paid; of course he never completes the engagement, and in due time, in a year possibly, the land is declared forfeited to the crown again. Such is the occupation of a “landshark,” and it would be well if these and similar pests of society were confined, like their namesakes of the ocean, to the more sultry latitudes, but unfortunately they are not altogether without their antitypes and imitators in Great Britain.

There is another character, which, if not peculiar to Australia, is called into being only in those colonies where a large extent of land in its natural state remains unappropriated to any individuals. The squatters, as they are called, are men who occupy with their cattle, or their habitations, those spots on the confines of a colony or estate, which have not as yet become any person’s private property. By the natural increase of their flocks and herds, many of these squatters have enriched themselves; and having been allowed to enjoy the advantages [Pg 333] of as much pasture as they wanted in the bush, without paying any rent for it to the government, they have removed elsewhere when the spot was sold, and have not unfrequently gained enough to purchase that or some other property. Thus the loneliness, the privations, and the perils of a pastoral life in the bush, have often gained at length their recompense, and the squatter has been converted into a respectable settler. But this is too bright a picture to form an average specimen of the class which we are describing. Unfortunately, many of these squatters have been persons originally of depraved and lawless habits, and they have made their residence at the very outskirts of civilization a means of carrying on all manner of mischief. Or sometimes they choose spots of waste land near a high road, where the drays halt to get water for the night, and there the squatters knock up what is called “a hut.” In such places stolen goods are easily disposed of, spirits and tobacco are procured in return for these at “the sly grog shops,” as they are called; and in short they combine the evils of a gypsy encampment and a lonely beer-shop in England, only from the scattered population, the absence of influential inhabitants, and the deplorably bad characters of the men keeping them, these spirit shops are worse places than would be tolerated in this country. It is stated that almost all the men by whom these resorts of iniquity are kept, are either ticket-of-leave men or emancipists. It is no easy thing to suppress these people, for the squatters, like the black natives, can find a home wherever they betake themselves. And it must be owned, that considerable good has resulted in many instances from these forerunners of civilization having penetrated into a district, and learned some of its peculiarities and capabilities before a settlement in it has been regularly [Pg 334] formed. Indeed, it would have been unjust to have been severe with the poor squatter, and his two or three sheep and cattle, when it had long been the practice of the most wealthy landowners in the colony, to send their stock-man with their hundreds of heads of cattle into the bush, to find support exactly in the same way, and without paying anything to government. The rich proprietors have a great aversion to the class of squatters, and not unreasonably, yet they are thus, many of them, squatters themselves, only on a much larger scale; nor are they more inclined, in many instances, to pay rent for their privileges than their more humble brethren. It would appear to be the fairest and best way of dealing with these various descriptions of squatters, to endeavour to cut up, root and branch, the “sly grog shops,” and road-side gentry, while the owner of one sheep, or he that possesses 10,000, should be equally compelled to pay a trifle to government, in proportion to the number of his stock grazing in the bush, and should likewise have his location registered. Some regulations of this kind are, it is believed, proposed, if they have not by this time been brought into operation; and thus we may hope, that whatever benefits the system of squatting may have produced, either as an outlet for restless spirits, or as a means of extending colonization, may still be retained, while the numerous evils that have sprung up along with it may be checked or got rid of. Respecting one thing connected with this subject,—the religious knowledge and spiritual condition of these inhabitants of the wilderness and their children, the christian inquirer cannot but feel anxious. The result of christian anxiety upon this matter cannot be better stated than in the words of one deeply interested about it, and well qualified to weigh the subject with all its bearings. After expressing his thanks to that [Pg 335] Divine Providence, which had enabled him, quite alone, to travel through many miles of country almost without cultivation or visible dwellings, the Bishop of Australia finishes his account of his visitation westward, in the year 1841, with the following reflections:—“It would be impossible for any one, without personal observation, to comprehend from mere description what a field for future labour is now opening in these as yet uncultivated, unpeopled tracts which I am continually traversing. But the time is not far distant when many portions of them will be thronged with multitudes; and in what manner those multitudes are to be provided with means of instruction sufficient to retain them in the christian faith, I am not able to foresee; as yet, no such provision is made or promised. But when, in passing through these scenes, reflections such as these have crowded upon me, and I am unable to return a satisfactory answer to the question, ‘How shall this be accomplished?’ I can find no better resource than to silence myself with ‘Deus providebit;’[206] my trust shall be in the tender mercy of God for ever and ever.”

Among the beings which, although not natives of the bush, appear to be peculiar to the wilds of Australia, the class of men called Overlanders must not be omitted. Their occupation is to convey stock from market to market, and from one colony to another. They require, of course, a certain capital to commence business with, and the courage and skill that are needful in these enterprises must be very great, so that many of the overlanders are said to be really men of a superior class. The love of a roving life, the excitement of overcoming dangers both from natural causes and from the fierce attacks of the natives, and the romantic and [Pg 336] novel situations in which they are frequently placed, all combine to render some men exceedingly fond of this occupation, which has also another strong recommendation, that it is often very profitable. The magnitude of the adventures thus undertaken would scarcely be credited, and often a whole fortune is risked in the shape of cattle driven across the wilderness. One very important route pursued by the overlanders recently has been in the same direction with Captain Sturt’s daring voyage, namely, from New South Wales to South Australia by the course of the Murray. An instance is mentioned by Captain Grey of an overlander who arrived at Adelaide in March 1840 from Illawarra, and his stock at the end of his journey is reckoned up, and found at a moderate computation to be worth no less than 13,845l.[207] And during fifteen months, including the whole of 1839 and part of 1840, there were brought by the overlanders from New South Wales into South Australia 11,200 head of horned cattle, 230 horses, and 60,000 sheep, the value of the whole of which amounted to about 230,800l. Importations of stock immediately add a value to land, for what is the use of pasture without animals to feed upon it? And indeed so large an introduction of those primitive riches, flocks and herds, is almost sure to give a spur to industry, and to assist the increasing prosperity of a rising colony. Under the influence of this cause it is related that land in Western Australia, which was bought for 23l. an acre in December, 1839, was sold for 60l. an acre in February, 1840. And in other colonies where overland communication takes place, instead of the cattle being brought by sea, as in Western Australia, the effect is yet more astonishing. There is much that is noble to admire in the character [Pg 337] of the overlanders, and their efforts have been productive of great advantage to our recent colonies; indeed, it is perhaps in a great measure to their exertions that the very rapid progress of Port Phillip and South Australia may be ascribed. But there appears to be a certain wildness about their character, which, while it fits them admirably for the pursuit which they have chosen, renders them restless and uneasy in more quiet and domestic spheres. The love of gain, too, is rather more of a ruling passion with them than it ought to be, but that is a fault by no means peculiar to the overlanders. Yet it affords a curious comparison and a fresh proof of our nature being a fallen one, when we come quietly to contrast the pains taken, the toils endured, and the risks encountered, in order to supply a colony with “the meat that perisheth,” against the indifference, feebleness, and apathy, which are exhibited about the spiritual necessities of its inhabitants. Erect the standard of worldly profit, and thousands will flock to it, unscared by danger, unwearied by labour. But, meanwhile, how slow is the banner of the Church in being unfurled, how few rally around it, when it is displayed; in short, how much wiser in their generation are the children of this world than the children of light!

[Pg 338]



The religious state of the inhabitants of the Australian colonies, especially of the two oldest and most populous settlements, has been so frequently the subject of allusion in this work, that the reader must already have become acquainted with its general aspect. Nevertheless, there are many interesting particulars which have not yet been detailed; and no subject, surely, can concern more nearly the mother country than the religious condition of her children and offspring. Upon the mere surface of things, judging from appearances only, the religious habits of England would seem perhaps to be transferred to the Australian colonies no less perfectly than its social customs; but, although the resemblance to our spiritual pride and spiritual ignorance, our needless divisions and contempt of lawful authority, is perfect enough, except when it occasionally degenerates [Pg 339] into caricature, yet, in points more deserving of imitation, the likeness between the mother country and her daughters is not always so striking. Probably it would be difficult to sum up the matter better than in the words of Bishop Broughton, who says, “My own opportunities of observation have been very numerous, and I do not hesitate to say, that, in either colony, surrounded, it cannot be dissembled, by much that is base and disgusting, there is, nevertheless, an extensive, and in point of actual influence, a preponderating proportion of integrity and worth, which, if suitably encouraged and supported now, there may hereafter spring up a wise and understanding people to occupy this land.”[208]

The way in which the Lord’s Day is observed in New South Wales, or Van Diemen’s Land, may serve for an index of the general amount of religious feeling among many of its inhabitants. Sunday desecration,—despising the day of rest which the Lord has appointed, is notoriously one of the first steps which a man is tempted to take in that downward course of sin which leads him to the penal colonies; and accordingly, it must be expected that a large quantity of the old leaven should remain working in the convict population. And especially was this to be anticipated, when so little pains were taken to teach them better things, for the absence of religious instruction immediately furnishes an excuse for disregard of the day of rest, and renders that neglect which was before inexcusable, in some measure unavoidable. According to Dr. Lang, religion is but seldom taken into account by the majority of the colonists in their dealings with their convict-servants. In at least as many as four cases out of five, he says, that no attention [Pg 340] to the day is paid, but frequently it is spent in weighing out rations, settling accounts, or paying and receiving visits; while the men, whom it is contrary to law to set to work on a Sunday, are often allowed to cultivate ground for themselves, upon the plea that, if they were not so occupied, they would be doing worse. In the opinion of Judge Burton, the want of occupation on the Sunday was a cause of many robberies being committed, and some of the worst crimes that had been brought under his notice had taken place upon that day. Mr. Barnes says, speaking of the men at the penal settlement of Macquarie Harbour, “I believe more crime or wickedness was committed on Sunday, when they were ringing the bell for church-service, than on any other day of the week.” These opinions are confirmed and strengthened by men of various parties, and different plans have been proposed. That of increasing the number of churches and of the clergy is obviously one of the most likely to succeed, but its success must, in the nature of things, not be very speedy. It was stated by one witness before the Committee upon Transportation, that, when the means of public worship have been provided, the convicts should be regularly mustered and taken to church, which, he thinks, would have a good effect; but what is really wanted is that they should come to church, and not merely be taken thither. One member of the Committee inquired whether all the present churches were filled, and the witness replied that they were not; but this is rather a proof of the need of additional religious instruction than an argument against furnishing it. If among so many souls the few existing places of divine worship are not all fully occupied, is not this a proof of the desolate state of the Lord’s vineyard in that country? [Pg 341] Is not this a sufficient reason for earnestly endeavouring to increase the number of the labourers in the vineyard? The heathenism of a considerable portion of a population nominally christian, manifestly tends to thin the congregations even of existing churches. But the want of church extension, and the dearth of ministers, tends to produce and increase this heathenism, and therefore it indirectly tends to diminish the numbers of the present attendants upon divine service. And what a mockery, in some instances, has the so-called divine service hitherto been! The director-general of roads in Van Diemen’s Land, some years ago, chose to place catechists and clergy under a ban, though there was no great risk of his gangs being much troubled by them, when they had so many other duties to fulfil. And what was the system which this wise manager of roads chose to substitute for the teaching of Christ’s ministers? At every road-station, daily, morning and evening, readings of the sacred Scriptures were established, and “devotional exercises” were added on the sabbath. Well, but who officiated? Let Archdeacon Hutchins reply in the very words used by him, when the matter was brought before the notice of the government in 1837. “These readings of the Scriptures were performed generally, if not always, by some of the very worst of the convicts themselves, selected, no doubt, for the purpose, not on account of their wickedness, but of their abilities. They are the best readers, or the cleverest fellows; and therefore, amongst rogues, generally the greatest. These are men by whom, as far as the director is concerned, the seed of religious knowledge is scattered among the road parties. How far there may be a rational hope of the Divine blessing accompanying such endeavours, I leave to be declared by any one possessed of common sense [Pg 342] and some little acquaintance with Scripture.”[209] Even Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, only “made priests of the lowest of the people;” he did not, that we read of, appoint the vilest characters he could find to that office.

The greater part of the settlers in New South Wales and Tasmania have been derived from those classes, who, in England, except in the rural districts, have, until recently, been well nigh shut out from their parish churches; and, in many instances, their mode of life here was little likely to lead them to a regular attendance upon the public worship of God, even where there was room for them. But nothing more surely produces distaste and carelessness in this matter than the total absence of all regularity respecting it. The truly religious soul, indeed, when banished by circumstances from the temple of the Lord, is always inquiring with the royal Psalmist, “When shall I come to appear before the presence of God?” But the careless man, the worldly-minded man, indeed the greater part of mankind, it is to be feared, feel no longing desires of this kind. The further they are removed from the courts of the Lord’s house, the less they think about its blessings, the less concern they take about religion; so that when an opportunity is offered them of joining in public worship, it actually is viewed as a trouble instead of a privilege, and no small pains are taken to escape from it. For example, it is stated by Mr. Mudie, that when a clergyman had been able to attend, and divine service was about to commence, upon his estate, he noticed but few of the convicts there, the rest declining to come, upon the plea of their being Roman Catholics. But this trick was of no avail, for their master, being satisfied [Pg 343] that they merely wanted to escape attendance, and to employ the opportunity thus afforded them of prowling about and thieving, insisted upon all these Romanists coming up and sitting outside the building in which the others were assembled. The next time the clergyman came, they were all Protestants. But in what a wretched state of depravity must men be who can thus deliberately tell a lie, in order to avoid joining in the worship of the Lord their Maker!

To provide for the spiritual wants of our penal colonies would be, under the most favourable circumstances, no easy matter; and in the actual condition of affairs, it is a most difficult and discouraging task. For not only are the ordinary obstacles arising from man’s fallen nature to be surmounted, but the effect of unusually evil influence and bad example is to be counteracted in a convict population. And far from opposing this mischievous spirit by “endeavouring to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace,” professing believers are nowhere more at variance than in Australia; so that the work of turning the hearts of the disobedient to the wisdom of the Just is perpetually being disturbed by strife and jealousies among those who ought to be one, even as Christ and the Father are One. There, as it has been well observed, “the Church stands upon her own merits, her own divine right; there all the attested grievances of the Dissenters, secular and political, are removed; no tithes, no church-rates, no exclusive state support.” And yet there, it may be added, the fierce contentious spirit which rages in England is unchanged in character, and the way of the Church is just as evil spoken of in New South Wales as in the mother country. The only grievance the dissenters can complain of now in Australia is that assistance is afforded to the Church to a larger amount [Pg 344] than they would like. But this is grievance enough for them to raise an outcry about. And hence arise fresh hindrances to the progress of true religion in these settlements. There are other spirits besides the unclean spirits of infidelity and iniquity which the Church has here to contend against.

The language of a very zealous and active clergyman of Australia is this:—“Give us clergy and churches, and I will ensure congregations and a vast spread of the gospel in the Church of Christ by means of the Church of England.”[210] But, so pitiable is the effect of religious strife, that rather than allow the necessary means to be given for this purpose, many would be content to leave things in their present miserable state; and although, as in the mother country, the majority of the population belong to the Church of England, yet the minority, in all its little sections, unite in grudging every effort that is permitted, every single pound that is spent, by the government in aid of the Church. There is no communion that can pretend to lay claim to the religious instruction of the people; it would be too absurd to propose that the English nation should entrust the religious training of a colony, like that of New South Wales,[211] containing upwards of 70,000 persons belonging to the national Church, into the hands of the Presbyterians, with their 13,153 souls, or into those of the Methodists and other dissenters, with their 5,093 souls, or even to the Romanists, with their 35,690 souls! And accordingly, since it was hopeless to get this important and responsible office exclusively for themselves, all parties really would seem to have conspired together to keep it, at all events, from falling into the possession of [Pg 345] that body to which it of right belongs,—the national Church of England and Ireland,—a Church which the Presbyterians do not generally deny to be scriptural, and which the Romanists, by their peculiar hostility, proclaim to be, in the best and oldest meaning of the word, essentially Protestant. Under feelings of this description, the Roman Catholics, and their “Presbyterian brethren,” (as they can condescend to call them when it answers their purpose,)[212] have been acting in Australia for some years past; and, aided by the potent force of agitation upon a government which “cared for none of these things,” except how it might “please the people,” they have been successful. Spurning the very name of toleration, and despairing of exclusive establishments for their own communion, they have succeeded in giving birth to a system of joint-establishment for three communions of Christians, and encouragement and assistance for as many more as the government may see fit to patronise. In 1836, the system which now continues in operation was commenced by Sir R. Bourke, then Governor of New South Wales, who, in proposing this plan, expressed a confident hope, (which has never yet been fulfilled,) that thus people of different persuasions “would be united together in one bond of peace.” It is pitiable to see a fellow-creature, and him, too, a man in authority, borrowing an expression from a passage of Holy Scripture, (Eph. iv. 3,) while he is at the very time forgetting the duty there enforced. The eye that glances upon the words “bond of peace,” must be very careless or very wilful, if those other words, “unity of Spirit,” or the words below, in the following verses of the same chapter, altogether escape its notice. [Pg 346] The principal features of the new system are these. It affords assistance in money towards building a church or chapel, and a dwelling-house for the minister, in all cases where not less than 300l. have been raised by private subscriptions. It provides a stipend for the support of ministers of religion, upon certain conditions, at the rate of 100l. per annum, where there is a population, of 100 adult persons, (including convicts,) who shall subscribe a declaration stating their desire to attend his place of worship, and shall be living within a reasonable distance of the same. If 200 adults in similar circumstances sign the declaration, a stipend of 150l. is granted; and if 500 persons sign it, the stipend is 200l.—the highest amount ever granted towards the support of any one officiating teacher of religion. In places where there are less than 100 adults ready to subscribe, or where there is no church or chapel yet erected, the governor may contribute a stipend not exceeding 100l. per annum, but in the latter case 50l. must be promised also from private sources. A certain proportion of free sittings, (one-fourth, according to Lang, at least one-sixth part, according to Burton,) is to be reserved in each building. Such are the principal points of the system, and, according to the governor’s regulations, the assistance thus offered is limited chiefly to the Church of England, the Church of Rome, and the Scottish Kirk, which “three grand divisions of Christians”[213] are thus made, in fact, the three established communions of New South Wales.

Undoubtedly good has resulted from the enactment of this law in 1836, for before that there were scarcely any means open of obtaining help towards religious [Pg 347] instruction, whereas certain means are open now, and have been very much used. Yet because some good has resulted in this way, the evil spirit and wretched tendency of the measure must not be overlooked. All the good that has resulted might have been obtained without any of its accompanying evil, if a perfect toleration had been established, the National Church properly endowed, and a sufficient supply of Roman Catholic priests or Presbyterian teachers for the convict population of those persuasions liberally supported by government, as in the gaols in Ireland. In this case, the poor convict, who is not permitted to possess money, would have had the consolations of religion, however imperfect, offered to him in his own way, while the free settler would have had the doors of the national Church opened to him, or the liberty, in case of his dissenting from that, of providing for himself a separate conventicle. Where would have been the hardship of this arrangement? Or why should the voluntary system, which is, in the northern hemisphere, so highly extolled by many Irish Romanists and not a few Presbyterians, in the southern, be thought a punishment and degradation? Thus, “not only has equal protection,—for God forbid that we should ever repine at equal protection,—but equal encouragement been given by government to every description of religious faith, and every denomination of professing Christians, in some of the most important dependencies of the British crown.”[214] Is not this, it may be asked, the very course which a mild and tolerant heathen government would pursue? And is the same policy, which would probably be followed by heathen rulers, either right or expedient in rulers professing themselves to be Christians?

[Pg 348] Certainly, whatever other arrangements might have been adopted, those that have been made are faulty in principle; and this is true, although it be confessed that some good has arisen from them, since through them an increased supply of religious teaching has been afforded to the colonists, however reluctantly wrung from the government in behalf of the Church of England. The faultiness of principle in these arrangements is thus stated by the present Bishop of Australia, a man well fitted to the responsible station which he fills in Christ’s Church. “By the government plan of aid,” he observes, “encouragement is given to the lax and dangerous opinion, that there is in religion nothing that is either certain or true. The government virtually admits that there is no divinely-instituted form of church-membership, or of doctrine, otherwise that one would in preference receive its support. The consequence is that the most awful truths of Christianity, which have been acknowledged and preserved in the Church from the beginning, are now frequently spoken of as merely sectarian opinions, to which no peculiar respect is due.”[215] The Roman Catholics hailed this measure with delight, for what to them can be a greater triumph or a more gratifying spectacle than to behold a great Protestant nation, inquiring, as Pilate did, “What is truth?” The Presbyterians, likewise, and Protestant Dissenters, were not behind their brethren of Rome (though there were fewer voices to join the shout) in greeting so exquisitely liberal a measure, which is actually founded upon some of their favourite notions respecting the harmlessness of divisions, the total invisibility of the Church, and the hatefulness of “a dominant episcopacy.” The rejoicings which were to be heard in quarters apparently so opposite [Pg 349] boded no good from the measure to the Church of England; and, certainly, from the strange way in which this law has been carried into operation, so far as that communion is concerned, the Government are not to be thanked for any favourable results that have followed. Through the activity of the members of our Church, both at home and in Australia, an increased supply of churches and of clergy has indeed been obtained; but this has, in most instances, literally been wrung from the ruling powers; while the only boon that was freely given,—a most valuable boon, it is willingly acknowledged,—was the appointment of a bishop instead of an archdeacon. However, the value of the boon thus obtained was lessened by the disregard shown by Government to the wants of the Church in Australia. The Bishop returned from England, after his consecration in 1836, alone, without being accompanied by a single clergyman, because, while Roman Catholic priests and Presbyterian teachers were still eligible to receive, and did receive, the aid of government, the Church of England was to remain as it was, notwithstanding its pressing wants and increasing numbers. All allowances towards the expense of the passage, or residence, or means of support for any additional clergymen, were refused. During five years, from 1832 to 1836, the number of chaplains continued to be the same, except in 1833, when there were only fifteen instead of sixteen in the estimates; and this was not because no increase was needful,—for when an outfit of 150l., and a yearly salary of 50l. were generously furnished to twenty clergymen by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, in consequence of the extreme necessity of the case, every one of these were instantly employed. A subscription, amounting to 3,000l. was at this time raised in England in behalf of the Church in Australia, and when the [Pg 350] Government perceived that public opinion was awakened in its favour, and that they had succeeded in giving their friends and supporters a tolerably good start, they at length agreed, with the tact peculiar to them, to place the Church of England (at least nominally) upon the same footing with the two other “grand divisions of Christians.”

Now, therefore, the same assistance in outfit, and the same amount of salary proportioned to the numbers of the congregation, are awarded, according to the Act, to the teachers of each of these three divisions. And thus, as Sir R. Bourke informs Lord Glenelg, in 1837, ministers of the Church of England have been forthcoming to “answer (in many instances) the calls of congregations of their communion;” while, as a matter of course, where no call is heard, no answer is attempted to be given. How very opposite is this modern idea of the sheep calling the shepherd to them, from that pattern set before us by the good Shepherd, who “came to seek and to save that which was lost!” But still, though nominally upon an equality with the others, it is distressing to find how hard a measure has been dealt to the Church in New South Wales; how studiously every petty advantage that could be taken has been taken of it by a Government calling itself liberal and impartial. A few instances of this shall be given, which may serve to show how our brethren in the colonies have been treated, and how we should ourselves be treated, if dissent and Romanism could get the upper-hand in our native country; for then, at the very best, the clergy would be placed, as they now are in Australia, “in a state of dependence upon two unstable supports;—the will of Government, and the disposition of the people.”[216] At present, the latter is favourable enough in Australia; [Pg 351] but the good-will of the Government towards the Church has been indeed strangely shown within the last few years. When the other communions and persuasions in the colony had nearly, if not altogether, provided themselves with the number of ministers that the law would allow them, while the wants of the Church remained, to a great extent, unsupplied, advantage was taken of an expression in a letter of the governor, Sir George Gipps,[217] and a limitation was imposed upon the government assistance by Lord Normanby, which operated exclusively to the hurt of the Church of England. In a like spirit it was that the governor of New South Wales refused to consider as private contributions for schools either sums granted by the societies in England, or by their diocesan committee in New South Wales; although, in both instances, the money was raised entirely by private subscription. The inconvenience, delay, and disappointment which this one arbitrary rule occasioned were astonishing; and to those who took delight in balking the efforts and thwarting the good works of our Church, it must have been very gratifying. So, too, must the refusal, in 1841, of a piece of land for a site of a church and parsonage in the wild district on the banks of the Morrumbidgee, containing 1,200 souls, dispersed about over a very extensive range of country.

Another example of similar conduct has occurred since the change of ministry at home, which would, it might have been hoped, have infused a better feeling into the colonial authorities. At the end of 1841, the Bishop proposed to erect, in certain spots, small wooden churches, as the only means of obtaining churches at [Pg 352] all; trusting, that after these had stood forty or fifty years, they might be replaced by buildings of a higher and more lasting character. The average cost of these humble little buildings was to be from 100l. to 120l.; and they were intended for very poor districts; but since the outlay did not amount to 300l., the Government would give nothing, and no effort was made to introduce a modification of the law (supposing that to have been needful) in order to meet such cases. Instances to the same effect might easily be multiplied. In New South Wales land is comparatively cheap, and a horse is an indispensable necessary for a clergyman; but no part of the government grant is allowed to be spent in purchasing more than an acre for the site of a church, and half an acre for a house and garden. “To extend the latter allowance to any quantity of land from which an income might be derived, would increase the emoluments of the minister, at the public expense, beyond what the Act contemplates;” so the Bishop of Australia was assured by official authority in 1836. But enough of these miserable instances of state-peddling in ecclesiastical establishments. “There is no semblance,” to use Mr. Gladstone’s words, “in any part of these arrangements, of a true and sound conception of the conscientious functions of government in matters of religion.”[218] May we venture to hope that the present ministry, of which the writer of the above is a distinguished member, may exhibit in their conduct and arrangements, both in the colonies and at home, a more sound and true conception of their duty than was ever shown by their predecessors? Such hopes, undoubtedly, are entertained by a portion of the British public, not unimportant either in numbers or in moral and political influence. Nevertheless, the zealously attached members of the Church of England [Pg 353] need not to be reminded of a truth which is frequently brought before them in the circle of its daily service. They know that “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put any confidence in princes.” They are sure that, if theirs is a living branch of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, many a weapon will be formed against it, but yet “no weapon that is formed against it shall prosper.”

It would be wearying to the reader to attempt to enter into the same details respecting schools as have been stated with regard to churches. The fate of the Church and School Corporation has elsewhere been related.[219] Suffice it to say, then, that the same spirit of hostility or indifference has been equally exhibited in both cases; indeed, it would be strange if the bitter enemies, and feeble or false friends of that system of religious instruction which is carried on among the adult population by our national Church, were not alike vigorous in their opposition, or impotent in their friendship, to the system of religious training among the infant population which is wrought out by our national schools. However, in mentioning the subject of schools, the unsuccessful attempt of the Government, in 1836, to saddle the colony of New South Wales with schools conducted upon the modern Irish system, must not be left unnoticed. On this occasion, it may be observed, the Presbyterian, Independent, Baptist, and Wesleyan “denominations of Christians,” were actually forced to leave, for a while, their liberal friends and allies of the Church of Rome, and to seek the assistance, and rejoice in the strength of the “exclusive” and “dominant” Church of England. It is really curious to observe these various sects seeking out the Bishop of Australia, and requesting him to preside at their meeting in opposition to the proposed measure; and since, although he [Pg 354] disagreed with them in a matter not then at issue, namely, the need of creeds and catechisms in imparting religious instruction, nevertheless, as he agreed entirely with them in the matter which was at issue,—the propriety and necessity of using the Holy Scriptures in religious teaching,—he complied with their request, presided at their meeting, and signed their petition. He also presented a petition from himself on the same subject; for the Government had so contrived to shuffle between the Archdeacon and the Bishop, that Dr. Broughton, who had very recently been consecrated, could, just at the time when the education scheme was to have passed, claim a seat in the legislative council in neither capacity. It so happened, that by an official neglect at the Colonial-office in London, no patent, including the Bishop as a member, had been forwarded to New South Wales; so when he reached Sydney, he found himself excluded from his seat in the council during the whole time in which this matter was under discussion there. The plan appeared to be successful; 3,000l. was devoted towards establishing the new scheme, and an honoured name, that of “National Schools,” was pilfered, and bestowed upon those that were projected in Sydney. But, in this instance, high principle and popular feeling were united against the Irish scheme; and as it began with a blunder at the Colonial-office, so it proved to be little better than a blunder throughout. The schools proposed were never established; and since that time the Roman Catholics have made a different sort of attempt to gain educational power, by obtaining separate sums for their own schools, and swamping the members of the Church of England, under the honourable but much abused appellation of Protestants, in the general quagmire of heresy and schism. However, this second effort, which was made with the sanction of the [Pg 355] Government, was defeated chiefly (under Providence) by the zeal and ability of the Bishop; and whoever is desirous of seeing a noble specimen of clear reasoning and manly eloquence, will be gratified and improved by reading the Bishop of Australia’s speech upon the occasion of this scheme having been proposed by Sir George Gipps in the legislative council. Certainly, when we consider how admirably Bishop Broughton demolished Sir George Gipps’s scheme, we must own that the tact was very acute,—or at least the mistake rather suspicious,—which shut him out of the legislative council when Governor Bourke’s plan was in agitation.

Besides the schools assisted by Government for the education of the lower orders, there are, of course, many private schools in the Australian colonies; and it is believed that these important establishments are no longer so commonly under the direction of men that have been convicts as they formerly were. Undoubtedly, one who has been transported may, perchance, turn out afterwards to be a good instructor of youth, but what christian parent would willingly risk his child’s religious and moral progress upon a chance, a possibility, of this kind? The King’s School at Paramatta is an excellent establishment, founded and conducted upon the principles of the Church of England. Sydney College is another well-conducted school, but its principles are more open to objection. “It is to be believed,” as has been remarked, “that a desire to gain the support of men of all religious principles, led to the Sydney College being founded on none;” and it was scarcely possible to fall into a greater error than that of passing almost unnoticed the one thing needful. It is true, that prayers are used daily in this school, and there seems, from Judge Burton’s account of it, to be much that is good and praiseworthy in its management and details. But a [Pg 356] school where the children of Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Jews, meet together, must be, at best, an odd jumble; and the religious tendency of such an education must be very questionable.

The Australian College is said by Dr. Lang, its founder, to be the most promising establishment in New South Wales, being more likely to resemble in course of time a small university or college in Europe than the others are. It is chiefly in the hands of the Presbyterians, and appears to be a thriving and well-conducted school of general learning. Religious instruction is not neglected, but all this department of education is arranged in a vague and general way, so as to avoid as much as possible disputed points; and if parents or guardians object to children receiving this kind of instruction at all, these pupils are allowed to withdraw at the times when it is given. If no essential points of Christianity had ever been brought into dispute, it might have been wise to avoid those unessential points that had been; or if religion were a matter of indifference or secondary consequence, then it might be well to provide for pupils withdrawing beyond the reach of its voice. But since neither of these suppositions are true, the system of the Australian College cannot be recommended. It may be very liberal. It is not very wise. But it is hard to say when we have reached the extremity of any opinions. The plan of the Australian College is far too narrow and confined for some choice spirits of New South Wales; and accordingly the Normal Institution, as it is pompously designated, has been formed by a seceder from the first-named establishment. It is said to be tolerably flourishing, and no wonder, for it offers a very fair secular education, and this is sufficient for the children of this world,—unhappily, no insignificant or small class either in New South Wales or elsewhere. But the christian [Pg 357] reader will be satisfied of the sandy foundation on which the Normal Institution is raised, when he glances over the following extracts from its original prospectus. The pupils are to be afforded “every facility and abundant materials for forming opinions of their own,”—young children, instead of being brought to Christ, are to be allowed (if they can) to find their way to Him. The prospectus says, “Till the mind has formed religious opinions of its own, grounded on a wide range of religious knowledge, the profession of religion is meaningless, if not incalculably pernicious.” Our Lord’s words are, “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven.” But it is vain to quote the words of Scripture to men who will make professions like this: “To inculcate any given set of religious tenets, or to teach any given set of religious text-books, would be to lend my labours to a party whilst I profess to labour for mankind.” As though, forsooth, we could ever labour more advantageously for mankind than when we try to persuade them, from their very tenderest years, to believe in the Bible and to belong to the church of God!

It is the expressed opinion of the highest authority in the church of Australia, that New South Wales, which is certainly the farthest advanced of all our colonies there, is not yet ripe for the establishment of a regular college, resembling our ancient and venerated English universities. But this most important object has not been lost sight of; and while a grammar-school has recently been opened in St. James’s parish in Sydney, and another is projected at Newcastle, both of which are intended to form a nursery for the future college, the means of providing this last are beginning to accumulate. Mr. Thomas Moore, of Liverpool, in New South Wales, who died in 1840, has left the site of his house [Pg 358] in Liverpool, with ground adjoining, together with 700 acres of land, in trust towards the establishment of a college in immediate and exclusive connexion with the Church of England and Ireland. This bequest, in itself insufficient for the proposed purpose, will yet serve for a foundation to begin upon; 3,000l. were voted in January, 1840, by the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge to advance the same good object, and it is expected that the fund will increase and gather strength before the time shall have arrived when it will be thought advisable to commence the college. A new school, attached to the Church of England, is also about to be begun in Van Diemen’s Land. It is to be called Archdeacon Hutchins’s school, being intended by its promoters for a lasting and useful memorial of their respect for the late lamented Archdeacon of Van Diemen’s Land. In the last published account of this undertaking, it is stated that about 850l. was subscribed for this purpose, but at least 2,000l. will be wanted. Our noble Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, ever active in advancing the glorious purpose for which it was formed, has contributed 100l. towards this school, which is to be built at Hobart Town. And it may be observed, that henceforth Van Diemen’s Land will demand even more spiritual care and assistance than the elder colony; for by recent arrangements, the transportation of criminals to New South Wales has altogether ceased, and Van Diemen’s Land is now the only colony to which convicts are conveyed.[220]

A census of the population of New South Wales was taken on the 2d of March, in the year 1841, and the general result of this is here added for the satisfaction of the reader. In the whole colony, including its various [Pg 359] dependencies, but exclusive of Van Diemen’s Land,[221] the total of inhabitants was 130,856, of which number 43,558 were females, and 87,298 males, being as nearly as possible two to one in favour of the latter. The number of houses, mostly built of wood, was 16,776, nearly in the proportion of eight inhabitants to each house. The return of the various religious persuasions was as follows:—Church of England, 73,727, forming a clear majority upon the whole population. Scotch Kirk, 13,153, forming about a tenth of the whole amount of the inhabitants of New South Wales. Members of the Church of Rome, 35,690, being rather more than one-fourth of the population. Protestant Dissenters, including Wesleyans, 5,093, making about one-twenty-sixth of the whole. Jews, 856, Mahometans and Pagans, 207. Of the inhabitants of New South Wales in 1841, 101,749 were returned as free, while 26,977 were in bondage.[222] In 1836, there was about one and three-quarters free to one bond, while in 1841, there were four free to one bond, the proportion of free to the whole population having gained sixteen per cent. in the five years. Henceforth, from the natural increase by births, from the influx of emigrants, and the stoppage of transportation, the advance will be much more rapid. The population of Sydney was, in 1841, no less than 29,973 souls; of these, 16,505 were returned as members of the Church of England; 8,126 belonged to the Romish Church; 3,111 were members of the Scotch Kirk; 1,707 were Protestant Dissenters; 462 were Jews; and 62 Mahometans and Pagans. It will be seen, that in the [Pg 360] population of the metropolis of the colony, the proportions of the various religious opinions are not very materially different from those in the whole of New South Wales, except that the number of Roman Catholics and Dissenters are greater, as they usually are in large towns, and that in Sydney the Romanists have increased, whilst in the colony generally they have diminished since the last census.

A few words may not be out of place, in a work descriptive of the Australian colonies, upon the subject of emigration, but so much has been written upon this matter, that a very few words may suffice to give the opinions of those who are practically acquainted with the subject. Undoubtedly, active, industrious, and prudent persons, are likely to prosper in Australia to a degree which is impossible, and scarcely credible, in Great Britain. No doubt, Providence has in these, and in our other colonies, given England a means of letting its surplus population escape in a way that shall not be merely safe, but even profitable, to the mother country, as well as to the emigrants themselves. The average consumption of English manufactures by the Australian colonists, has recently been stated to amount to ten guineas a-head, while that of the inhabitants of the European countries is only two shillings.[223] And what true-born Englishman would refuse to rejoice in the increased demand thus likely to be opened for our manufactures, and in the increased prosperity of our fellow-subjects on the other side of the globe, who are thus enabled to supply their own wants, by purchasing English goods? The objections which we hear occasionally urged against emigration amount, with [Pg 361] one important exception, to little or nothing. The distance and long voyage, the risk of not succeeding, the impossibility now of pig-drivers and convicts becoming masters of many thousands a-year,[224] the paramount necessity of patient industry and prudent forecast in Australia, no less than in the rest of the world,—all these circumstances offer no reasonable hindrance to the emigrant’s attempt, either to better his condition, or else to get that daily bread which in England he finds difficult to be obtained. And, whatever obstacles of this kind may at first deter him, the careful settler will soon find himself victorious over these, and more comfortably situated, in a worldly sense, than he ever before was.

In a worldly sense, it is said, because, unhappily, there is one great objection to all emigration, belonging to it of necessity, which, in the English colonies, and not least so in Australia, has been fearfully increased and needlessly aggravated. The want of religious instruction in newly-peopled countries, and among a widely-scattered and pastoral population, must needs be grievous, even under the most favourable circumstances. And if these countries are used as penal settlements, the want is likely to be still more deplorable. But the evil is inflamed to the utmost degree, when, as in Australia during the earlier years of its colonial history, little provision of any kind is made for the spiritual need of the people, or when, as in the same country in later years, “a system is pursued which would seem to indicate an utter indifference on the part of those who dispense the national treasure, whether truth or falsehood shall characterise the religious creeds of any of the colonists.”[225] And thus, while [Pg 362] the sum total of religious provision is very insufficient, that little is divided in a kind of scramble among various parties, so that Irish Roman Catholics, who cry up the voluntary system at home, are tempted to glory in being one of “the three established communions” in New South Wales; and Scotch Presbyterians, who profess extreme ardour for the American system of “leaving every religious denomination to support its own ministers,” find in Australia assistance from Government (or even from a clergyman of the Church of England)[226] very convenient, and “a’ vera weel,” as the cannie Scots say. With so much irreligion, so small and so miserably divided a power to oppose it, as we behold in Australia, the great question with every one proposing to emigrate is, whether he can take that step without probable spiritual loss; and at this price he would find all worldly gain too dearly bought. There are many places in our colonies, it is true, where a person may use (or, if he pleases, neglect) the means of grace, exactly as at home; and against these spots the objection now urged would not at all weigh. But before any one removes himself into the wilderness, or far away from any place of worship, except the chapel of the Roman Catholic or the meeting of the separatist, he should be well rooted and grounded in the faith of his fathers. And supposing him to be so, what real patriot could wish a man of this kind to emigrate! How ill can England spare out of any rank of life such persons as these! Before emigration can become as general and respectable as it ought to be, religion must be made its groundwork; and religion, to be successful in doing the work of Christ in the hearts of men, must not consist in that modern jumble of denominations, which [Pg 363] pretends to the name, but must teach its doctrines by means of the ministrations of the “Church of the Living God,” which is the pillar and ground of the truth. When this foundation has been laid, then can the conscientious churchman zealously promote emigration, and not before. And if it should never be laid, still, whatever may be his fears for weak brethren, or his value for more steadfast fellow-members of Christ, influencing him to avoid the responsibility of advising them to quit the home of their fathers, the faithful churchman will be under no alarm whatever, respecting the stability of the branch planted by his mother-church in Australia. Nor yet will he grudge all other denominations (unless they be blasphemous or immoral,) the most complete toleration. Nay, were it not for the mischief that would arise to Christianity and to the souls of men, they might be welcome to all the support and patronage of the State; and if they obtain it all, even then we fear them not; indeed it is our duty to pity them, to love them, to pray for them as brethren. Whatever may be the fate either of Australia or England, the lot of Christ’s Church—that visible Church of His which was founded upon the first preaching of Peter both to the Jews and to the Gentiles—is fixed and determined:—it is firmly built upon a rock, and “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”



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[1] Published, all of them, by T. and W. Boone, London, to whom it is only just to acknowledge their kindness in permitting the use that has been made of these two publications in the first portion of the present Work.

[2] See Dr. Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, especially at p. 5, where it appears that the judge was not quite impartial in one of his statements. Dr. Ullathorne himself has, in his 98 pages, contrived to crowd in at least twice as many misrepresentations as Burton’s 321 pages contain. But that is no excuse. The Romish Church may need, or seem to need, such support. The cause defended by Judge Burton needs it not.

[3] It is supposed that the word “Sin,” applied to the wilderness mentioned in Exodus xvi. 1, and also to the mountain of “Sinai,” has the same meaning, so that the appellation of “Bush” is no new term.

[4] Collins’ “Account of the Colony of New South Wales,” p. 11.

[5] This river must not be confounded with another of the same name in South Australia.

[6] See Oxley’s Journal, p. 299.

[7] See Mitchell’s Three Expeditions in Australia, vol. i. p. 38.

[8] An expedient used by the natives in Torres Strait, on the northern coast of Australia, for getting water, may here be noticed, both for its simplicity and cleverness. “Long slips of bark are tied round the smooth stems of a tree called the pandanus, and the loose ends are led into the shells of a huge sort of cockle, which are placed beneath. By these slips the rain which runs down the branches and stem of the tree is conducted into the shells, each of which will contain two or three pints; thus, forty or fifty placed under different trees will supply a good number of men.”—Flinders’ Voyage to Terra Australis, vol. ii. p. 114.

A different plan for improving the water that is hot and muddy, is thus detailed by Major Mitchell. To obtain a cool and clean draught the blacks scratched a hole in the soft sand beside the pool, thus making a filter, in which the water rose cooled, but muddy. Some tufts of long grass were then thrown in, through which they sucked the cooler water, purified from the sand or gravel. I was glad to follow their example, and found the sweet fragrance of the grass an agreeable addition to the luxury of drinking.

[9] “The most singular quality of this vapour or mirage, as it is termed, is its power of reflection; objects are seen as from the surface of a lake, and their figure is sometimes changed into the most fantastic shapes.”—Crichton’s Arabia, vol. i. p. 41.

[10] See two other curious accounts of the effects of mirage and refraction in Sturt’s Expeditions in Australia, vol. ii. pp. 56 and 171.

[11] The artless description of this sad discovery, given by one of the natives who accompanied the party, may be not unworthy of the reader’s notice. “Away we go, away, away, along the shore away, away, away, a long distance we go. I see Mr. Smith’s footsteps ascending a sand-hill, onwards I go regarding his footsteps. I see Mr. Smith dead. We commence digging the earth. Two sleeps had he been dead; greatly did I weep, and much I grieved. In his blanket folding him, we scraped away the earth. We scrape earth into the grave, we scrape the earth into the grave, a little wood we place in it. Much earth we heap upon it—much earth we throw up. No dogs can dig there, so much earth we throw up. The sun had just inclined to the westward as we laid him in the ground.“—Grey’s Travels in Western Australia, vol. ii. p. 350.

[12] See a like melancholy history of the death of Mr. Cunningham, in Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. i. p. 180, et seq. How thrilling must have been the recollections of his fellow-travellers in the wilderness at the simple incident thus related: “In the bed of the river, where I went this evening to enjoy the sight of the famished cattle drinking, I came accidentally on an old footstep of Mr. Cunningham in the clay, now baked hard by the sun. Four months had elapsed, and up to this time the clay bore the last records of our late fellow-traveller.”

[13] “A cluster of these trees would be an excellent beacon to warn mariners of their danger when near a coral reef, and at all events their fruit would afford some wholesome nourishment to the ship-wrecked seamen. The navigator who should distribute 10,000 cocoa-nuts amongst the numerous sand banks of the great ocean and Indian Sea, would be entitled to the gratitude of all maritime nations, and of every friend of humanity.”—Flinders’ Voyage to Terra Australis, vol. ii. p. 332.

[14] Although the basin of this river extends so far towards the east, on its westerly bank, that is, towards the interior, a desert country stretches itself to an unknown distance, from which it does not appear to receive any increase of its waters at all deserving of notice. From two hills, seventy miles apart, extensive views were gained of this western desert, in which no smoke was seen, indicating the presence of natives, nor even any appearance of trees; the whole country being covered with a thick bush or scrub. For the four winter months spent by Mitchell near the Darling, neither rain nor yet dew fell, and the winds from the west and north-west, hot and parching, seemed to blow over a region in which no humidity remained.

[15] So in Major Mitchell’s work, vol. i. p. 298; but the same author is quoted (more correctly it would seem from the map), by Montgomery Martin, as stating that “The Darling does not, in a course of three hundred miles, receive a single river.”—See Martin’s New South Wales, p. 82.

[16] By dry season, or wet season, in Australia, we are not to understand, as in England, a dry or wet summer, but a series of dry or wet years. At the very bottom of some of the dried-up lakes were found sapling trees of ten years’ growth, which had evidently been killed by the return of the waters to their long-forsaken bed.

[17] “I have myself no doubt that a large navigable river will yet be discovered, communicating with the interior of Australia.”—M. Martin’s New South Wales, p. 99.

[18] This remarkable animal, called also the Ornithorynchus, is peculiar to Australia, it has the body of a beast combined with the mouth and feet of a duck, is to be seen frequently on the banks of the Glenelg, and that unusually near the coast.

[19] Water is proverbially “unstable,” but what occurred to Major Mitchell’s party on the Yarrayne, may serve for a specimen of the peculiar uncertainty of the waters of Australia. In the evening a bridge across that stream had been completed, and everything was prepared for crossing it, but in the morning of the following day no bridge was to be seen, the river having risen so much during the night, although no rain had fallen, that the bridge was four feet under water, and at noon the water had risen fourteen feet,—a change that could only be accounted for by the supposed melting of the snow near the sources of the stream.

[20] See Professor Buckland’s Bridgewater Treatise, vol. i. Introduction, pp. 1, 2.

[21] See Mitchell’s Three Expeditions in Australia, vol. ii. p. 13.

[22] See Oxley’s Journal, pp. 103, 244.

[23] Another lake, called Walljeers, at no very great distance from this, was found, with its whole expanse of about four miles in circumference, entirely covered with a sweet and fragrant plant, somewhat like clover, and eaten by the natives. Exactly resembling new-made hay in the perfume which it gives out even when in the freshest state of verdure, it was indeed “sweet to sense and lovely to the eye” in the heart of a desert country.

[24] See Sturt’s Expeditions in Australia, vol. i. Dedication, p. 4.

[25] Sturt’s Expeditions in Australia, vol. ii. pp. 109, 110.

[26] The dimensions given in Captain Sturt’s map. The South-Australian Almanac states it to be sixty miles long, and varying in width from ten to forty miles.

[27] For the account of this voyage, see Sturt’s Expeditions in Australia, vol. ii. pp. 72-221.

[28] These particulars are taken from the South-Australian Almanac for 1841, pp. 68-73.

[29] See Wentworth’s Australasia, vol. i. p. 3.

[30] See Account of the Effects of a Storm at Mount Macedon, (Mitchell’s “Three Expeditions,” vol. ii. p. 283.)

[31] On one occasion the progress of the fire was against the wind. See this stated and explained by Major Mitchell, “Three Expeditions,” vol. i. p. 19.

[32] See Oxley’s Journals, pp. 184-7.

[33] Not quite so; they soon fell in with a few of the scattered wanderers of the bush.

[34] See the interesting account of Major Mitchell’s ascent to Mount William, the highest point of these hills.—Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. pp. 171-181.

[35] Psalm cxxii. 8,9.

[36] One crime, in which the inhabitants of the neighbouring islands of New Zealand notoriously indulge, has been charged also upon the people of New Holland; but, since no mention of their cannibalism is made by those British travellers who have seen most of the habits of the natives, it is hoped that the charge is an unfounded one. See, however, M. Martin’s New South Wales, pp. 151-2, and the instance of Gome Boak, in Collins’ History of New South Wales, p. 285; and Sturt’s Expeditions in Australia, vol. ii. p. 222.

[37] Nay, our fellow-countrymen in the Australian colonies, can, by no means, endure a strict trial, even by their own rule of right. Take, for instance, the following very common case:—The kangaroo disappears from cattle-runs, and is also killed by stockmen, merely for the sake of the skin; but no mercy is shown to the natives who may help themselves to a bullock or a sheep. They do not, it is true, breed and feed the kangaroos as our people rear and fatten cattle, but, at least, the wild animals are bred and fed upon their land, and consequently belong to them.

[38] Speaking of a tribe which he found upon the banks of the Darling, Mitchell says, “The men retained all their front teeth, and had no scarifications on their bodies, two most unfashionable peculiarities among the aborigines.” (Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. i. p. 261.) The same intelligent traveller accounts for the custom of knocking out the teeth, by supposing it a typical sacrifice, probably derived from early sacrificial rites. The cutting off the last joint of the little finger of females, (he adds,) seems a custom of the same kind. It is a curious observation, that the more ferocious among the natives on the Darling were those tribes that had not lost their front teeth.—Vol. ii. p. 345, and vol. i. p. 304.

[39] This was not the fact, however, for Lieut. Collins found them in a different place, when he went to the spot early in the next morning.

[40] A less serious but even more effectual method of dispersing the natives, when they became troublesome, and would not quit the settlers’ camp at night, is mentioned by Mitchell. At a given signal, one of the Englishmen suddenly sallied forth wearing a gilt mask, and holding in his hand a blue light with which he fired a rocket. Two men concealed bellowed hideously through speaking-trumpets, while all the others shouted and discharged their fire-arms into the air. The man in the mask marched solemnly towards the astonished natives, who were seen through the gloom but for an instant, as they made their escape and disappeared for ever.—Mitchell’s Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 290.

[41] On a similar occasion, near the Darling, where the inhabitants are remarkable for their thievish habits, when a crow was shot, in order to scare them by its sudden death, the only result was, that, before the bird had reached the ground, one of them rushed forward at the top of his speed to seize it!—See Mitchell’s Expeditions, vol. i. p. 265.

[42] See Nehemiah viii. 14, 15.

[43] The men frequently indulge a great degree of indolence at the expense of the women, who are compelled to sit in their canoe, exposed to the fervour of a mid-day sun, hour after hour, chanting their little song, and inviting the fish beneath them to take their bait; for without a sufficient quantity to make a meal for their tyrants, who are lying asleep at their ease, they would meet but a rude reception on their landing.—Collins’ Account of Colony of New South Wales, p. 387.

[44] Playing at “stealing a wife” is a common game with the Australian children.

[45] These facts may account for the statement mentioned by Collins, of a native throwing himself in the way of a man who was about to shoot a crow, whence it was supposed that the bird was an object of worship, which notion is, however, contradicted by the common practice of eating crows, of which birds the natives are very fond.—See Collins’ Account of the Colony of New South Wales, p. 355.

Two young natives, to whom Mr. Oxley had given a tomahawk, discovered the broad arrow, with which it was marked on both sides, and which exactly resembles the print made by the foot of an emu. Probably the youths thought it a kobong, for they frequently pointed to it and to the emu skins which the party had with them.—See Oxley’s Journal, p. 172.

[46] The command in Deut. xxv. only extended to the case of eldest sons dying without children.

[47] The wild dog is also an object of chase, and its puppies are considered great dainties; but they are sometimes saved, in order to bring them up in a tame state, in which case they are taken by one of the elder females of the family, and actually reared up by her in all respects like one of her own children!

[48] It is a saying among the natives, “Where white man sit down, kangaroo go away.”

[49] Martin’s New South Wales, p. 131.

[50] See page 79.

[51] “Among the few specimens of art manufactured by the primitive inhabitants of these wilds, none come so near our own as the net, which, even in its quality, as well as in the mode of knotting, can scarcely be distinguished from those made in Europe.”—Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 153.

[52] “Their only cutting implements are made of stone, sometimes of jasper, fastened between a cleft stick with a hard gum.”—Martin’s New South Wales, p. 147. “The use of the ‘mogo,’ or stone-hatchet, distinguishes the barbarous from the ‘civil’ black fellows, who all use iron tomahawks.”—Mitchell’s Three Expeditions in Eastern Australia, vol. i. p. 4.

[53] The kiley, or boomerang, is a thin curved missile, which can be thrown by a skilful hand so as to rise upon the air, and its crooked course may be, nevertheless, under control. It is about two feet four inches in length, and nine and a half ounces in weight. One side, the uppermost in throwing, is slightly convex, the lower side is flat. It is amazing to witness the feats a native will perform with this weapon, sometimes hurling it to astonishing heights and distances, from which, however, it returns to fall beside him; and sometimes allowing it to fall upon the earth, but so as to rebound, and leap, perhaps, over a tree, or strike some object behind.

[54] For instance, the natives on the river Bogan used the new tomahawks, given them by Major Mitchell, in getting wild honey—a food very commonly eaten in Australia—from the hollow branches of the trees. It seemed as though, in the proper season, they could find it almost everywhere. “To such inexpert clowns as they probably thought us,” continues the Major, “the honey and the bees were inaccessible, and indeed, invisible, save only when the natives cut the former out, and brought it to us in little sheets of bark; thus displaying a degree of ingenuity and skill in supplying wants, which we, with all our science, could not hope to attain.” They caught a bee, and stuck to it, with gum or resin, some light down of a swan or owl: thus laden, the bee would make for its nest in some lofty tree, and betray its store of sweets.—Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. i. p. 173.

[55] See Evidence of J. Barnes, Esq., in minutes of evidence taken before the Select Committee on Transportation, Quest. 417-422, pp. 48, 49.

[56] This remark, which is here applied to the people on the south coast of New Holland, does not hold good of all the natives of that vast island. On the authority of the same able navigator, Flinders, we learn that, in the northern part of the country, about Torres Strait, some of the tribes are very skilful in managing their long canoes. See an interesting account of the natives of the Murray Islands, in Flinders’ Voyage, vol. ii. pp. 108-110.

[57] See p. 99.

[58] See Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. i. p. 39.

[59] Flinders’ Voyage, vol. i. Introd. pp. 99, 100.

[60] “The natives do not allow that there is such a thing as a death from natural causes; they believe that were it not for murderers, or the malignity of sorcerers, they might live for ever.”—Grey’s Travels in Western Australia, vol. ii. p. 238.

[61] See Deut. xiv. 1, where the very spot is mentioned,—“between the eyes,”—which is always torn and scratched by the Australian female mourners.

[62] This disease made dreadful ravages among the natives about the same time as the colony in New South Wales was settled. “The recollection of this scourge will long survive in the traditionary songs of these simple people. The consternation which it excited is yet as fresh in their minds, as if it had been an occurrence of but yesterday, although the generation that witnessed its horrors has almost passed away. The moment one of them was seized with it, was the signal for abandoning him to his fate. Brothers deserted their brothers, husbands their wives, wives their husbands, children their parents, and parents their children; and in some of the caves of the coast, heaps of decayed bones still indicate the spots where these ignorant and helpless children of nature were left to expire, not so much, probably, from the virulence of the disease itself, as from the want of sustenance.”—Wentworth’s Australia, vol. i. p. 311. Third edition. See also Collins’ New South Wales, p. 383.

[63] See, however, a more pleasing picture of a native burying-place, in Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. i. p. 321.

[64] Martin’s New South Wales, p. 143.

[65] See p. 114.

[66] “In many places a log of wood, or a wide slip of bark, tied at either end, and stuffed with clay, is the only mode invented for crossing a river or arm of the sea, while in other parts a large tree, roughly hollowed by fire, forms the canoe.”—M. Martin’s New South Wales, p. 147.

[67] Flinders’ Voyage, vol. ii. p. 138.

[68] See a most remarkable instance of this in M. Martin’s New South Wales, pp. 156-158.

[69] Latterly, however, experience suggested to him what seems to have been a successful mode of concealment. See Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 271.

[70] It is even said, that persons bearing the same name with the deceased take other names, in order to avoid the necessity of pronouncing it at all. See Collins’ Acc. of Col. of N. S. Wales, p. 392.

[71] S. P. G. Report, 1842, p. 59.

[72] The half-caste children are generally put to death by the black husband, under the idea, it is said, that if permitted to grow up, they would be wiser than the people among whom they would live. These helpless innocents are destroyed, as though they were no better than a cat or dog: one farm servant of Mr. Mudie was in a great rage at the birth of a small infant of this description, and without any ceremony, only exclaiming, “Narang fellow,” which means, “Small fellow,” he took it up at once, and dashed it against the wall, as you would any animal. See Evidence before Transport. Com. 1837, p. 43.

[73] Against one of these missions Dr. Lang gives a sneer, and it may be a deserved one, though certainly expressed in unbecoming language; but the attentive reader of Dr. Lang’s amusing work on New South Wales will soon learn not to place too much stress upon all he says. See Lang’s New South Wales, vol. ii. chap. 7, p. 313.

[74] See Bishop of Australia’s Letter in S. P. G. Report for 1842, p. 53.

[75] Like most of his countrymen, Bennillong had two wives, but one of them, Barangaroo, had died, as it appears, before his departure for England. See page 154.

[76] On a similar occasion, Cole-be placed the living child in the grave with its mother, and having laid the child down, he threw upon it a large stone, after which the grave was instantly filled up by the other natives. Upon remonstrating with Cole-be, he, so far from thinking it inhuman, justified this extraordinary act by saying, that, as no woman could be found to nurse the child, it must have died a worse death than that to which he put it.—Collins’ Account of the Colony of New South Wales, p. 393.

[77] The custom of holding out green boughs, which is usually a sign of friendship among the Australians and other savage tribes, formed part of the ceremony of suppliants among the ancient Greeks. See Potter’s Antiquities of Greece, b. ii. c. 5.

[78] The difference in disposition between tribes not very remote from each other was often striking. Only three days’ journey behind, the travellers had left natives as kind and civil as any whom they had seen, and hitherto all the people on the Darling had met them with the branch of peace.

[79] Such are the words of Lieutenant Collins, from whose account of New South Wales the narrative is taken. When will Christians learn, in their intercourse with heathens and savages, to abstain from such falsehood and deceitful dealing?

[80] This generally appears to be rather a suspicious act;—to dance a corrobory is “a proposal these savage tribes often make, and which the traveller who knows them well will think it better to discourage.”—Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 269.

[81] Grey’s Western Australia, vol. ii. p. 370.

[82] It happened that the two French ships of discovery under the unfortunate La Perouse came into the harbour of Botany Bay just as the English were finally quitting it. The French stayed there nearly two months, and after they left that harbour they were never again seen by any Europeans, both vessels having been lost.

[83] See Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. p. 23.

[84] See Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 171. See, too, another instance at p. 385.

[85] This conduct was so common, that, when provisions became scarce, the supply was issued twice in the week, on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

[86] The blame of these lax and unworthy notions must not fall on the laity alone; many of the clergy in those days deserve to have a full share of it; but while we see and lament the faults of that generation, we must not forget to look after those of our own, and to correct them.

[87] See Judge Burton on Religion and Education in New South Wales, p. 1.

[88] Certainly some of the means employed for the moral improvement of the convicts were very strange ones. For example, we are told, on one occasion, that some of them were “ordered to work every Sunday on the highway as a punishment!” See Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 184. See likewise, p. 246.

[89] In 1792, a chaplain came out with the New South Wales Corps; and in 1794, Mr. Marsden, a second chaplain, arrived in the colony. If any person is desirous of seeing how easily the faults and failings of individuals may be turned into arguments against a church, he has only to refer to Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, chap i. “The Dark Age.”

[90] See the authorities quoted by Burton on Religion and Education in New South Wales, p. 6. According to this author, the chaplain’s name was Johnston, not Johnson, as Collins spells it.

[91] See 2 Kings v. and 1 Kings xix. 18. See likewise, in proof of the good conduct of some convicts, Collins’ Account of New South Wales, p. 42.

[92] See the Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. 2, p. 107.

[93] The signal-colours were stolen within a year afterwards by some of the natives, who divided them among the canoes, and used them as coverings.

[94] According to Captain Tench, who is quoted by the Roman Catholic, Dr. Ullathorne, “Divine service was performed at Sydney only one Sunday in the month,” and “the Rev. Mr. Johnson was the best farmer in the country.” What truth there may be in these insinuations, or in the charge against Judge Burton of enlarging upon a Romish priest’s being a convict, while he disguises the same truth when it applied to an English clergyman, must be left to others better acquainted with the facts to determine. See Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, p. 5.

[95] Things are now, happily, better ordered. “There are frequent instances of vessels arriving from England without having had a single death during the voyage” to Sydney.—Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. p. 58.

[96] See “Bennillong,” in chap. vi. p. 151.

[97] Another instance of like folly is mentioned in Collins’ Account of New South Wales, p. 129.

[98] Religion, of course, concerns all equally, only the guilty and the wretched seem to be the last persons who can afford to reject its consolations, even in this world. However, the conduct of those in authority was pretty much on a par with that of the convicts, and it was only when one of the earlier governors was told of but five or six persons attending divine service, that “he determined to go to church himself, and stated that he expected his example would be followed by the people.” See Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, p. 7.

[99] It would appear almost as though some men will not see that churches are not built for clergymen to preach in, and live (or starve) upon the pew-rents, but for laymen to hear God’s word and join in His solemn worship.

[100] See Collins’ Account of New South Wales, pp. 223-4.

[101] A similar scheme was to have been practised by some Irish convict women, who were to have taken their part in a proposed mutiny on board the Marquis Cornwallis during the passage out, by mixing pulverized glass with the flour of which the seamen made their puddings! See Collins, p. 324.

[102] Whatever may be the improvement of the middling and upper classes, nationally speaking the passion for strong liquor continues to bear sway in the British islands to a deplorable extent. Lord Ashley has stated in the House of Commons during the present session, 1843, that there is good authority for estimating our annual consumption of spirituous liquors at twenty-five millions sterling! Compare the gross amount of the revenues of the English Church, about four millions, and those of the poor Kirk of Scotland, the plundered Church of Ireland, and the “voluntary” efforts of the hundred and one sects of Dissenters, together with those of the Romish Church:—and what is the result? Probably, nearly three times as much is spent in these islands upon spirituous liquors as the whole cost of religious instruction of every kind amounts to!

[103] Dr. Lang’s opinion here is, however, confirmed by Judge Burton; see p. 7 of his work on Education and Religion in New South Wales.

[104] Account of Colony of New South Wales, p. 235.

[105] 1 Tim. vi. 10.

[106] Collins’ Account of New South Wales, pp. 243, 244.

[107] The crops of the first settlers were paid for by the Government in spirits, but Captain Hunter endeavoured to put an end to this practice, for it was not possible that a farmer who should be idle enough to throw away the labour of twelve months, for the purchase of a few gallons of injurious liquors, could expect to thrive, or enjoy those comforts which sobriety and industry can alone procure.

[108] It may not be out of place to quote in support of this opinion the sensible words of an Australian writer. “I confess I like to hear of high wages, and of good prices of provisions—of the productions of the country,—for where they prevail for any length of time, the country must be prosperous. Paradoxical as it may seem, it is no less true, that the poorest country is always that where provisions are sold at the cheapest rate. To the same purpose is the testimony of Sir G. Gipps, the present Governor of New South Wales, appointed by Lord Melbourne in 1837, who says:—‘The total amount of the grain’ (imported) ‘even at these prices, amounted to the fearful sum of 246,000l.; but that, it must be remembered, was only the prime cost in the countries where the wheat was grown, and to that must be added the charges for freight, insurance, and commission, probably as much more, so that in two years the colony would expend upwards of half a million of money for foreign bread. The distress of the colony was owing to these immense importations.”—See Speech of Governor Gipps in Council. Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. iii. p. 163. See also Ross’s Van Diemen’s Land Almanac and Annual, 1836, p. 177.

[109] About the time of Captain Hunter’s taking the reins of government a cow was sold for 80l., a horse cost 90l., and a Cape sheep 7l. 10s. Other prices were in proportion; fresh meat was very scarce, and the various attempts to import live stock had been far from successful. Still a beginning had been made, and it is astonishing how rapidly rural wealth began to multiply in New South Wales, after the difficulties of the first eight or ten years had been overcome.

[110] Promissory notes were given, payable in rum instead of money.—Judge Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, p. 7, note.

[111] Thus writes the Bishop of Australia in 1840.—“Neither can I comprehend or approve the policy which thus leaves multitudes without moral or religious guidance, under every inducement to commit acts of violence and rapine, which are not only the sources of infinite misery to the unhappy perpetrators, and to their wretched victims, but actually bring upon the government itself ten times the pecuniary charge which would be incurred by the erection of as many churches, and providing for the support of as many clergymen, as the necessities of every such district require.”

[112] “More labour would have been performed by one hundred free people from any part of England or Scotland, than had at any time been derived from three hundred of these (convicts), with all the attention that could be paid to them.”—Collins’ Account of the Colony of New South Wales, p. 415.

[113] Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 376.

[114] At a time of great distress, when 270 additional inhabitants had just made good their landing at Norfolk Island, whilst the ships and provisions sent with them from Port Jackson were almost entirely lost, these birds of providence, as they were justly called, furnished a supply for the necessities of the people. Mount Pitt, the highest ground in the island, was observed to be crowded with these birds during the night, for in the day-time they go out to sea in search of food. They burrow in the ground, and the hill was as full of holes as a rabbit-warren; in size they were not bigger than pigeons, but they looked much larger in their feathers. Their eggs were well tasted enough, and though the birds themselves had a fishy flavour, hunger made them acceptable. They were easily taken, for when small fires were kindled to attract their notice, they would drop down faster than the people could seize them. For two months together, it is said, that not less than from two to three thousand of these birds were taken every night, so that it was with reason that the starving population of Norfolk Island called them birds of providence.

[115] A peculiar language prevailed in this horrid place. It is said that a bad man was called a good man, and that one who was ready to perform his duty was generally called a bad man; and so, in other respects, language was adapted to the complete subversion of the human heart there existing. See Ullathorne’s Evidence before the Committee on Transportation, 1838, No. 271, p. 27.

[116] See Montgomery Martin’s New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, p. 257.

[117] Compare Lang’s History of New South Wales, vol. i. p. 71, and Collins’ Account of New South Wales, p. 197 and 201. See also Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 115.

[118] “The first religious edifice that was ever reared in the great Terra Australis, by voluntary and private exertion.” See Lang’s Narrative of the Settlement of the Scots’ Church in New South Wales, p. 8. The Doctor, in his Presbyterian zeal, had forgotten Mr. Johnson’s church.

[119] One of the vain attempts of the present age is that of entirely preventing the various fluctuations to which, from accidents, bad seasons, &c., the price of bread is subject. It did appear as though a certain average of moderate prices was established in England; but, recently, the system has been again altered, and time must show how it works. Certainly the changes in the value of corn in New South Wales have formerly been violent enough, supposing the following statement to be correct: “I have nine years been a landholder in this colony, and seven years have cultivated my own farm. In this time I have twice given wheat to my pigs, because I did not know what else to do with it; twice I have known wheat selling at fifteen shillings per bushel, and once at twenty shillings!”—Atkinson on the Encouragement of Distilling and Brewing in New South Wales, p. 3, ed. 1829.

[120] It is said that the natives foresaw the approach of this calamity, and advised the colonists of it, but their warning was not regarded.—See Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 310.

[121] For the particulars here related of the floods of the river Hawkesbury, see Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. pp. 98-101; and also Wentworth’s Australasia, vol. i. p. 67 and 448-9. The latter writer speaks of wheat and maize being sold at 5l. or 6l. per bushel, but that seems to be a mistake.

[122] Still later the following evidence was given upon a trial: “The governor, clergy, officers, civil and military, all ranks and descriptions of people bartered spirits when I left Sydney,—in May, 1810.” What a handle do such practices give to those that love to “despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.”—Jude 8.

[123] Here is an example of the need of a bishop in every colony of any size or importance. What right or power had a usurping military officer to suspend from clerical duties one of the two or three clergymen who were then in the settlement, and that without any crime alleged, any trial, or proof of his misdemeanour? Would not a bishop, to stand between the mighty major and the poor chaplain on this occasion, have been a guardian of “civil and religious liberty?”

[124] Respecting these, see the assertions in Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, page 6.

[125] See Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. pp. 168, 169.

[126] See Titus i. 3.

[127] Ezekiel iii. 18.

[128] How could public religious worship be attended to, when, in the year after Governor Macquarie’s arrival, 1810, a widely-scattered population of 10,452 souls, mostly convicts, were left in the charge of four clergymen? And in what respect were things improved at the time of that Governor’s departure in 1821, when, to a similarly situated population of 29,783 souls there were seven clergymen assigned: and the Romish church had one priest for New South Wales and Van Diemen’s Land, while the Presbyterians at Portland Head had their lay-catechist?—See Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, pp. 8, 9, 12, 16.

We may add, by way of illustrating the regard paid to religious worship, even in Governor Macquarie’s time, that Oxley’s first expedition into the interior was permitted to set out from Bathurst on a Sunday! See his Journal, p. 3. Sunday, indeed, seems to have been a favourite starting-day with Mr. Oxley. See p. 37.

[129] See Governor Macquarie’s Report to Earl Bathurst, in Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. Appendix, No. 8, p. 447.

[130] See Grey’s Travels in Western Australia, vol. ii. pp. 29, 30. For the particulars of Mr. Smith’s death, see page 27.

[131] See Major Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 317.

[132] See Lang’s New South Wales, vol. ii. p. 119.

[133] The difference of temperature in twelve hours’ journey is stated to be upwards of twenty degrees.—Oxley’s Journal of his First Expedition, p. 4.

[134] This account of the navigation of Hunter’s River is taken from Martin’s New South Wales, p. 75. Dr. Lang, vol. ii. p. 64, gives a somewhat different account of it.

[135] It was introduced in 1831.

[136] Bishop of Australia’s Letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, dated September 12th, 1839.

[137] See Wentworth’s Australasia, vol. i. pp. 52-55.

[138] There are several other parishes in the suburbs of Sydney. A third new church is likewise mentioned, among those in progress at Sydney, in the Bishop of Australia’s Charge, delivered in 1841. See Appendix A, p. 36.

[139] Compare p. 115 of Judge Burton’s work on Education and Religion in New South Wales, with Appendix No. 12 of the same work. It may be noticed, that the sum mentioned applies only to stipends and allowances of the Clergy, and does not include sums voted for building purposes.

[140] See the Morning Herald, July 5, 1842.

[141] This is flourishing, for the deposits are stated in recent accounts from Sydney to have increased, between June 30, 1840, and the same date in 1842, from 143,000l. to 178,000l., and the number of accounts opened was much greater than in former years.

[142] Extract from a private letter.

[143] See Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, p. 174.

[144] According to Mr. Montgomery Martin, (Van Diemen’s Land, p. 266,) Cornwall and Buckinghamshire continue to be its only counties, and it is subdivided into nine police districts; but Dr. Ross’s Almanac for 1836 contains, at p. 238, the governor’s proclamation for the division mentioned above; whilst a third division of the island into the counties of Argyle and Launceston is followed in the Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, for 1842. The above may serve for a specimen of the obscurity and confusion upon these trifling matters, respecting which accuracy seems almost unattainable.

[145] See Wentworth’s Australasia, vol. i. p. 51.

[146] See Mr. M. Martin’s Van Diemen’s Land, p. 274.

[147] The following specimen of the evil art of stirring up the discontent of those that are suffering under the dispensations of Providence, is taken from an old newspaper, published in Hobart Town in 1835. It may be stated, that in the very same paper we are informed that the drought had recently been so great that scarcely a cabbage, or any other vegetable but potato, was to be obtained in the town. Of course water was scarce, and precautions had been taken by the Governor to preserve some at a place whence the shipping were supplied; but this careful conduct of their ruler is thus held up to the abhorrence of the people. “Why,” it is asked, “do not the people drink the ditchwater and be poisoned quietly; it is quite enough that their betters should enjoy such a luxury as pure water.” And how often in England do we see this sort of trash printed by those dealers in knowledge, the newspaper-writers, who sometimes argue as though all the credit of prosperous occurrences belonged to the people of a country, and all the disgrace and responsibility of misfortunes and trials were to be put off upon its rulers! How often are we reminded of the Israelites murmuring against Moses on account of the miseries of that wilderness in which their own sins condemned them to wander!

[148] From a letter dated March 4, 1841, and written by the late lamented Archdeacon Hutchins, it would appear that two new churches, St. Giles’s and Trinity, are likely to be erected in Hobart Town. See Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, for 1841, p. 61.

[149] Bishop of Australia’s letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, dated May 22, 1838.

[150] See Rev. iii. 17.

[151] See Bishop of Australia’s Letter, dated June 1840, in the Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for 1841, pp. 148-9.

[152] For the particulars here stated see the Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. 1, p. 51, and No. 2, pp. 111, 112.

[153] See Report of Committee on South Australia, p. 78. Evidence of T. F. Elliot, Esq. Answer 733. From the same source, the report of this Parliamentary Committee in 1841, much of the information respecting Southern Australia is derived.

[154] In these matters it is impossible to get at truth. Each man judges upon certain data, but though the conclusion of each may be correct, yet because the data were partial and imperfect, so likewise will the conclusions be. Mr. Mann, who was examined by the Committee upon South Australia, gives it as his opinion that about four-fifths of the land in that colony were bad. However, he had never been more than three weeks in it nor above fourteen miles from its chief town, so his judgment was formed principally upon hearsay. Others, probably, have gone into the contrary extreme of praising the soil too highly, and truth may, as usual, lie between the two extremes.

[155] It is noticed as a matter of surprise, that on August 6th, 1841, Mount Lofty, a hill 2400 feet in height, was covered with snow, and that the small river, called the Torrens, had been partly frozen.

[156] During the first six months of 1841, seventy vessels, comprising a burden of 11,139 tons, arrived at Port Adelaide. See Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. 2, p. 114.

[157] Here again reports differ. See Mr. T. Driver’s Evidence before the Committee on South Australia, p. 221, Answer, 2498, and following ones.

[158] See “South Australia in 1842,” p. 19, published by Hailes, London.

[159] For the facts here noticed, see the Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. 1. p. 53.

[160] See Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel for 1842, p. 57.

[161] See Flinders’ Voyage, Introduction, vol. i. p. 60.

[162] There is a vine in the government garden (at Perth) which, planted as a cutting, sent out shoots 16½ feet long in the second year, and yielded more than 4 cwt. of grapes. Another, belonging to Mr. C. Brown of the same place, had a stem, which, in only five years’ growth, was 14½ feet in circumference. See “A Short Account of the Settlement in Swan River,” p. 15, published by Cross, Holborn, 1842.

[163] See “A Short Account of the Settlement of Swan River,” p. 33.

[164] See Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. 1, p. 28.

[165] See Rev. ii. 15.

[166] Thus, as recently as the year 1838, two ships were sent from Christian England to found a colony; having on board upwards of 500 souls, but unprovided with any minister of religion! How strange a method, if we really believe God’s word, of gaining a blessing from Heaven, either for ourselves or our colonies!

[167] See Isaiah xxxii. 2. The following proverbial saying in India may serve to show how natural such comparisons are in the mouths of the inhabitants of hot climates: “Ah, that benevolent man, he has long been my shelter from the wind; he is a river to the dry country.“ See Roberts’ Oriental Illustrations of Scripture, ad. loc. p. 429. How different an idea do the words “shelter from the wind” convey to the inhabitant of England’s bleak shores, and Asia’s parching deserts!

[168] See an interesting passage in Major Mitchell’s Three Expeditions, vol. ii. p. 28. See likewise Oxley’s First Journal, p. 75.

[169] See Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. iv. p. 234.

[170] A glance over the two ponderous volumes of the evidence before the Transportation Committee in 1837 and 1838 will satisfy every unprejudiced person that our penal colonies are not yet ripe for a representative government. It is curious enough to compare the fearful picture of these settlements drawn by one section of the so-called Liberal party, which wages war against transportation, with the more pleasing and flattering description of their social condition which is given by that other section of the same party which claims for the colonists “constitutional rights.”

[171] See Mr. Montgomery Martin“s New South Wales, p. 353.

[172] See Report of Transportation Committee in 1838, p. 32.

[173] Acts xxiii. 5.

[174] See the Preface to the Form of Ordaining and Consecrating Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, in the Book of Common Prayer.

[175] The subjection of New South Wales to the Bishopric of Calcutta was a mere absurdity; it might just as well have been under Canterbury at once.

[176] See Wentworth’s Australasia, vol. i. p. 366.

[177] Elsewhere stated to be 60,861. Perfect accuracy in these matters appears almost unattainable.

[178] See St. Paul’s charge to Timothy, the first Bishop of Ephesus, 2 Tim. iv. 2.

[179] See the Report of the Fund for providing Additional Colonial Bishoprics, dated June 25th, 1842. Should the particulars stated above induce any person to desire to lend a helping hand to so good, so glorious a work, any donations for that purpose, small or large, will be thankfully received at the office of the Committee, 79, Pall Mall, London; and a post-office order supplies a sure and easy means of conveyance for sums not exceeding five pounds.

[180] See Report of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts, for 1842.

[181] Gladstone’s “The State in its Relations with the Church,” chap. viii. p. 315.

[182] Lang’s New South Wales, vol. ii. p. 317, &c. See also, at 265-6, a series of similar statements. A good specimen of Dr. Lang’s veracity occurs at p. 267, where the Church and School Corporation is said to have consisted chiefly of clergymen, whereas the majority were laymen. See Burton on Religion and Education in New South Wales, p. 21, and Appendix, No. 1.

[183] They are accused of spending 20,000l. a-year of public money, under pretence of providing for religious instruction and education, while nothing was really done; whereas, out of this sum, nearly 17,000l. were already appropriated for the existing ecclesiastical establishment; and, during the continuance of the Corporation, the schools increased from 16 to 40, and the number of children educated in them from 1,037 to 2,426. See Burton on Religion and Education in New South Wales, pp. 24 and 32.

[184] See the book just quoted for a list of the members of the Church and School Corporation, p. 21. Whatever might be the education of these gentlemen, it is evident that better educated men were not very likely to be found in the colony than the great law officers of the crown, the members of the legislative council, and the nine senior chaplains.

[185] See Burton on Religion and Education in New South Wales, p. 31.

[186] See Australian and New Zealand Magazine, No. i. p. 45. The sums mentioned above include all the expense of grants to other bodies of Christians besides churchmen, but the greater portion of the money is expended upon the great majority of the population who are members of the Church of England.

[187] See Burton, p. 37.

[188] The following striking testimony in favour of the system of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts comes from a quarter by no means unduly biassed in its favour. “How have thousands and tens of thousands been raised in Scotland, for the last forty years, to fit out and to maintain beyond seas whomsoever the dissenting ministers of London chose to ordain as missionaries to the heathen? God forbid, that I should ever whisper a syllable against missions to the heathen! But I have seen too many missionaries, not to have seen more than I choose to mention, whom men possessed of the least discernment would never have presumed to send forth on such an errand! The colonies, however, were the first field to be occupied; and if that field had been properly occupied, it would have afforded much assistance to missions to the heathen.“—Lang’s New South Wales, vol. ii. p. 260.

If any reader of this passage should feel disposed in his heart to help in a good work, which greatly needs his assistance, let him take at once his humble mite, or his large offering, as the case may be, to the clergyman of his parish, or to the office, 79, Pall Mall, London, for the use of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

[189] Gal. v. 19-21.

[190] See Mr. Montgomery Martin’s New South Wales for further particulars on this subject, pp. 168-177.

[191] “Catholic,” a most honoured term in ancient times, has in modern days been very unfortunate. Even now the Romanists misuse it for “Papistical,” the Dissenters occasionally use it to signify “Latitudinarian,” and the members of the Church of England are either afraid to use it at all, or else are perpetually harping upon it, as though it were a mere party-word.

[192] See a pamphlet entitled “Australia as she is and as she may be,” by T. Potter Macqueen, Esq., published by Cross, Holborn, pp. 12-14.

[193] It is right to state here that the cause of a supply of religious instruction having been so long delayed in Norfolk Island is said, by a Roman Catholic writer, to have been the impossibility of finding a clergyman to undertake the charge. See Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, pp. 39, 40. Supposing this account to be correct then, undoubtedly, the English Church must share the blame of neglecting Norfolk Island along with the government, and it is not the wish of the writer of these pages to deny the applicability of the prophet’s confession to ourselves: “O God, to us belongeth confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against Thee.” (Dan. ix. 8.) Still, even according to Dr. Ullathorne, the penal settlement was established six years before its religious instruction was thought of by the government.

[194] Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, p. 260.

[195] The reason given by the Roman Catholic, Dr. Ullathorne, is that the two priests divide the salary, and receive together no more than the one chaplain.—Ullathorne’s Reply to Burton, p. 76. The reader must bear in mind the different scale of expenses required by a person who must be single, and that of a person who may be, and generally is, a married man.

[196] See Committee on Transportation, 1838, pp. 137, 138.

[197] See Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, pp. 287-289. The actual sum there stated is either 725l. or 855l., according as certain expenses connected with the establishment are included or not.

[198] “I think the longer the sentence, the better will be the conduct of the individual,” because his only chance of obtaining any degree of liberty is from good conduct. See Evidence of J. MacArthur, Esq., before the Committee on Transportation in 1837. No. 3350-3, p. 218. Dr. Ullathorne expresses a contrary opinion.

[199] Evidence of J. MacArthur, Esq., before the Committee on Transportation, in 1837, No. 3371-2, p. 220. The richest man in the colony, an emancipist, was said, in 1837, to be worth 40,000l. or 45,000l. a year. For an account of the shameless roguery, and drunken folly, by means of which so vast an income was amassed, see Report of Transp. Com. 1837, p. 14 and 104.

[200] Barrington’s History of New South Wales, p. 421.

[201] For the mode in which the law admitting emancipists into the jurors’ box was passed, see Lang’s New South Wales, vol. i. p. 317-320. “Two absent members of the Legislative Council were known to be opposed to it. Of those present, the governor (Bourke) and five others were in favour of it, while six were against it. The governor gave a second and casting vote.”

[202] See Report of Transportation Committee, 1838, p. 31. “A large proportion of the persons who have appeared and served,” as jurors, “are publicans,” to whose houses prosecutors, parties on bail, or witnesses, resort, for the purpose of drinking, while in attendance upon the court. Once, when a jury was locked up all night, much foul and disgusting language was used; and to gain a release from this association, the disputed point was yielded; “no greater punishment can be inflicted upon a respectable person than to be shut up with such people for a few hours, or for the night.”

See Burton’s Letter, Appendix to Transportation Committee’s Report, 1837, p. 301-2. Dr. Lang’s book on New South Wales abounds in wretched puns, but one rather favourable specimen may be given, when, in allusion to the Englishman’s right of being tried by his peers, the Doctor styles the jurors above described “the Colonial Peerage!

[203] 1 Cor. xii. 13.

[204] Grey’s Travels in Western Australia, vol. ii. pp. 192-3.

[205] The system of starting from a certain fixed sum per acre, named “the upset price,” and selling land at whatever it will fetch beyond this, is established in most of the Australian colonies. The fund thus produced is spent in encouraging emigration and providing labourers.

[206] Jehovah Jireh, that is, “the Lord will see or provide.” See translation in margin of Gen. xxii. 14.

[207] See Grey’s Travels in Western Australia, vol. ii. p. 188.

[208] Letter of the Bishop of Australia to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, dated May 22, 1838.

[209] See Speech of the Bishop of Tasmania at Leeds, Nov. 28, 1842, p. 16.

[210] Letter of Rev. W. H. Walsh to S. P. G., dated October 6th, 1840.

[211] In Van Diemen’s Land, in 1838, it was stated that sixteen out of every twenty-three persons, nearly two-thirds, belonged to the Church of England. Bishop of Australia’s Letter to S. P. G., dated August 18, 1838.

[212] See the Memorial of the (Roman) Catholic Inhabitants of New South Wales to Lord Normanby. Burton on Education and Religion. Appendix, p. 117.

[213] Sir Richard Bourke’s Letter to the Right Hon. E. G. Stanley, September 30th, 1833. Sir Richard, in his haste or his ignorance, has overlooked the Greek Church.

[214] Bishop of Exeter’s Charge in 1837.

[215] Bishop of Australia’s Letter to the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, August 18, 1838.

[216] See Bishop of Australia’s Charge in 1841, p. 10.

[217] On November 9th, 1838, Sir G. Gipps wrote to Lord Glenelg, stating that “he was happy to say there was no want in the colony of clergy of any denomination!” It was only in December 1837 that the Bishop of Australia had requested eighteen or nineteen presbyters of the Church of England for as many places as had actually complied with the government rules, and not more than half the number had, in the interim, been supplied.

[218] Gladstone’s State in its Relations with the Church, chap. vii. p. 272.

[219] See the latter part of Chapter XI.

[220] For the particulars here stated, see the Report of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, for 1842, pp. 56-64.

[221] “It has been found impossible to state accurately the present population of Tasmania. No information could be obtained at the well-known colonial publisher’s (Cross’s) in Holborn.”

[222] These numbers are copied from a Sydney newspaper, but from some difference in the elements of calculation, possibly from not including the population of Norfolk Island, they do not quite tally with those given above.

[223] See the speech of Mr. C. Buller in the House of Commons, on Thursday, April 6th, 1843, upon the subject of colonization.

[224] See Evidence before Committee on Transportation in 1837, p. 41.

[225] See the Bishop of Exeter’s Charge in 1837.

[226] Compare Dr. Lang’s New South Wales, vol. ii. pp. 375, 288; and Burton on Education and Religion in New South Wales, p. 13.

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