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Title:      Letters from an Exile at Botany Bay (1794)
Author:     Thomas Watling (b. 1762)
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Language:   English
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Date first posted:          January 2004
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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Letters from an Exile at Botany Bay (1794)
Author:     Thomas Watling (b. 1762)

Letters from an Exile at Botany Bay, to his Aunt in Dumfries
Giving a Particular Account of the Settlement of New South Wales,
with the Customs and Manners of the Inhabitants.

Watling, Thomas (b.1762)

First Published: 1794


First; he hopes it may contribute a little to the relief of an old,
infirm, and friendless woman, to whom it is addressed.

And Secondly; he imagines, the account here given of a country so little
known, may be interesting to some, and amusing to all. With the original,
which is now in his hands, he declines taking any liberty, but leaves the
unfortunate exile to tell his story exactly in his own words, and how he
acquits himself, the public must determine.

The publisher has several letters from the same author still in his
hands; and should these meet with a favourable reception, they are
intended to be published, together with a life of the author on some
future occasion.


[May 12 1793]

Sydney-Cove, Port-Jackson, New-South-Wales,
May 12th, 1793.

Embracing the opportunity of a returning vessel, I would waft you, from
this place, a second testimonial of my insuperable attachment and
remembance. My first letter per the Atlantic, I hope you have received
before; but should it be otherwise, after speaking to the present state
of my mind, I shall hastily recapitulate its principal contents.

In my saddest hours, and God knows there are many of them, I have
observed you are then most busy with my memory. Melancholy's sombre
shadow louring over my soul, endears the fleeting moment by impelling me
to write to you. Indeed, it is solely owing to this despondent state of
mind, that ought I have produced for those last four years proceeds. When
this gloom frowns dreadful over the vista of my being, I but too much
indulge the dreary prospect--exploring the wide domain of adversity
terminated only by the impending darkness;--hence it is, that whatever
flows from my pen, or is laboured by my pencil, affects, in some degree,
the tone of mind that possess me at the period of its production.

Recurring now to my former letter:--it informed that I had wrote you from
Rio de Janeiro; that I had escaped at the Cape of Good-Hope, where I was
betrayed by the mercenary Dutch, and remanded to captivity; whence, after
seven months of imprisonment, the Royal Admiral E. Indiaman landed me
here; where the pur-blind jurisprudence of a Scottish tribunal,
doubtless, first intended me.

To lead you through the labyrinth of all my sufferings, from the 28th of
December, 1791, down to the present period, is a thing utterly
impossible; neither is it my duty to harrow up your feelings by the
attempt.--It better becomes me to soothe those sorrows that vague report
in the public prints has most likely excited, than to give an additional
stab to so valued a life --a life I have already, though innocently,
almost extinguished.

Yet not to pass over all too rapid; and to shew how dear you were to me
in my most prosperous state, take the subsequent specimen intended for
you, when I deemed myself a favored denizen of heaven--breathing a few
hours of inestimable liberty.

[December 13 1791]

Dated, Cape of Good Hope, African-Coast,
Tuesday, Dec. 13th, 1791.

Your loved Watling is at liberty! to say ought else is almost
unnecessary, as I am conscious your amiable, tender heart, will now hope
every thing. Indeed I am very incapable to write more at present; nor
will I ever be master of sufficient language to give any semblance to
these sensations I just now experience. True, I am in a remote clime,
where Slavery wields her iron sceptre, and where slaves are at this
moment attending me--yet blessed be Divine Mercy, I enjoy freedom!--I
that but yesterday had the ignominious epithet convict adhibited to my
name, am again myself! to-day all nature seems renovated. The sun that
has ben clouded for three years has regained his splendour, and the meads
their verdure. 'Tis the jubilee of creation; at least I will believe
so.--I tread in air; my spirits are electrified; and my poor heart beats
quick with redoubled fervor and emotion towards that peaceful little fire
side which it has long sighed after and bled for.

I hold it imprudent to commit to paper how I have obtained emancipation.
I will only say, that the ship Pitt lyes opposite my window, and means to
sail by Sunday next; after when, should any other vessel here tend to
Europe, if possible, I will procure a passage--and be happy.

O my poor, dear, dear aunt, rejoice with me! my senses are all absorbed
in the most pleasing delirium that ever was poured upon mortal. Most
merciful good God, design to pardon all that cavil and innate murmuring I
have so frequently emited against thy wise and just dispensations. Here
upon my bended knee, permit me to adore and render Thee the warmest
gratulations for those numberless blessings conferred upon an unworthy
sinner--particularly this last, most exquisitely felt--this sum-total of
terrene felicity.

Come then my long drooping and forlorn Hope, and once more extend thy
fairy landscapes, and display thy tinselled forms. My glowing bosom can
cheerfully heighten even thy most vivid colouring, and indulge thy most
flattering phantoms. Best boon of indulgent heaven, never, never, never
again fly thy suppliant votary, but henceforth dwell unmolested in this
unambitious, thrice happy breast.

So soon as I have discharged this letter, I shall fabricate schemes for a
continuation of humble happiness. It is my wish, that we would together,
with my dear and faithful C----, lead the residue of our days in
obscurity, from the vices and follies of this transitory faithless
world;--and every dawning day, and setting sun, offer up to the Father of
Mercies, a sincere prayer for the most distinguished of benefactions
toward us his most favoured of creatures.

May that gracious Almighty, and every good angel protect you, and haste
that happy moment that restores us together--when the returning prodigal
shall throw himself at your feet--recount all his sorrows--and ever
remain under the influence of your indulgent eye, and tender monition.

I am Dear Aunt, &c.

It is needless to tell how soon the preceding became a most bitter
contrast; but the nauseous cup was poured out for me, and I was born to
drink it to the very dregs.--O dread Jehovah! wherefore didst thou so
tenderly affix the giddy height of fragile human felicity so directly
over the tremendous abyss of blackest and deepest of misery?--surely but
to render me the most wretched and unhappy of all mankind!

Drop but one single tear over this rueful feature of my existence, and if
possible,--forget it.

I may now say, that my constitution has after all this, had sufficient
strength to combat the repeated attacks of a smart fever; and I could
also say much more, but it being only of the same melancholy tenor, I
shall for the time wave egotism, and commence a slight, contour of this
novel country:--not however expecting connection, you must just accept of
each wild idea as it presents itself.

* * * * *

[December 13 1791 Continued: Account of the Colony]

Britain, I believe, still entertains, and very justly, an idea of the
sterility and miserable state of N. S. Wales. It will be long before ever
it can even support itself.--Still that country so famed for charity and
liberality of sentiment I doubt not will persevere to continue it.--When
I have seen so much wanton cruelty practised on board the English hulks,
on poor wretches, without the least colour of justice, what may I not
reasonably infer?--French Bastile, nor Spanish Inquisition, could not
centre more of horrors.

Our longest day coincides exactly with your shortest; and vice versa. The
climate is an extremely sultry one, especially in summer; and yet
paradoxical as it may appear, it is in, no wise propitious for tropical
vegetation. A few European culinary vegetables grow, but never arrive to
their pristine maturity, and when re-transplanted dwindle unto nothing.--
The face of the country is deceitful; having every appearance of
fertility; and yet productive of no one article in itself fit for the
support of mankind.

The flattering appearance of nature may be offered as the best apology
for those mistaken eulogisms lavished by a late eminent circumnavigator
upon this place. Perhaps nothing can surpass the circumambient windings,
and romantic banks of a narrow arm of the sea, that leads from this to
Parramatta, another settlement about fourteen miles off. The Poet may
there descry numberless beauties; nor can there be fitter haunts for his
imagination. The elysian scenery of a Telemachus;--the secret recesses
for a Thomson's musidora;--arcadian shades, or classic bowers, present
themselves at every winding to the ravished eye.--Overhead the most
grotesque foliage yields a shade, where cooling zephyrs breathe every
perfume. Mangrove avenues, and picturesque rocks, entwined with
nondescript flowers:--In short, were the benefits in the least equal to
the specious external, this country need hardly give place to any other
on earth.

Often amid these coveted solitudes do I wander by the silent moon, along
the margin of some nameless stream, and pray for the most loved of aunts,
and for my dearest C----. The willing tear will often fall when I reflect
upon your widowed and impotent condition.--"If in existence," I exclaim,
"alas! indigence and pallid hunger most likely guards her humble door,
whilst her modest heart pines in silence, unknown to, and unacquainted
with philantrophy. God of the widow & the orphan, shield her helpless
head, and shed abroad comfort and pious resignation in her agonized and
solitary heart."

My worthy friend, Mr. H----, may reasonably conclude, that these romantic
scenes will much amuse my pencil; though therein he is mistaken. The
landscape painter may in vain seek here for that beauty which arises from
happy-opposed off-scapes. Bold rising hills, of auzure distances would be
a kind of phaenomena. The principal traits of the country are extensive
woods, spread over a little-varied plain. I however confess, that were I
to select and combine, I might avoid that sameness, and find engaging
employment. Trees wreathing their old fantastic roots on high; dissimilar
in tint and foliage; cumbent, upright, fallen, or shattered by lightning,
may be found at every step; whilst sympathetic glooms of twilight
glimmering groves, and wildest nature lulled in sound repose, might much
inspire the soul--all this I confess; but all this, if I possibly can,
shall be considered of hereafter.

In tne warmer season, the thunder very frequently rolls tremendous,
accompanied by a scorching wind, so intolerable as almost to obstruct
respiration;--whilst the surrounding horizon looks one entire sheet of
uninterrupted flame. The air, notwithstanding, is in general dry. Fifteen
months have been known to elapse without a single shower; but though thus
dry, the transitions of hot and cold are often surprisingly quick and
contrasted without any discernable injury to the human system. I have
felt one hour as intensely warm as if immediately under the line, when
the next has made me shiver with cold, yet have I not experienced any
harm therefrom; owing, without a doubt, to the dryness and salubrity, of
the atmosphere.

The vast number of green frogs, reptiles, and large insects, among the
grass and on the trees, during the spring, summer, and fall, make an
incessant noise and clamour. They cannot fail to surprise the stranger
exceedingly, as he will hear their discordant croaking just by, and
sometimes all around him, though he is unable to discover whence it
proceeds:--nor can he perceive the animals from whence the sounds in the
trees issue, they being most effectually hid among the leaves and
branches. Should the curious Ornothologist, or the prying Botanist,
emigrate here, they could not fail of deriving ample gratification in
their favorite pursuits in this, luxuriant museum. Birds, flowers,
shrubs, and plants; of these, many are tinged with hues that must baffle
the happiest efforts of the pencil.--Quadrupeds are by no means various;
but we have a variety of fishes, the greater part of which, are dropped
and spangled with gold and silver, and stained with dyes transparent and
bralliant as the arch of heaven.

One great error in many of our voyagers, is the giving pre-maturely a
decided opinion of what falls within the circle of their observation.
That the inhabitants of N. S. Wales, are centuries behind some other
savage nations, in point of useful knowledge, may be fact; but in this
there is no criterion of judging mental ability. Their huts and canoes,
it is true, are extremely rude and ill formed; but when we consider their
non- acquaintance with iron tools, and the hardness of their wood, it is
more surprising that they can use it at all.--It being so ponderous as to
sink immediately in water, renders it entirely useless that
way:--consequently no succedaneum here can be so easily moulded, or so
fit for the purposes of forming their little vessels as the bark--and
this, both as builders and sailors they manage with singular dexterity.

The people are in general very straight and firm, but extremely ill
featured; and in my opinion the women more so than the men. Irascibility,
ferocity, cunning, treachery, revenge, filth, and immodesty, are
strikingly their dark characteristics--their virtues are so far from
conspicuous, that I have not, as yet, been able to discern them.

One thing I may adduce to their credit, that they are not cannibals. They
burn and bury their dead, but from what motive it is hard to conceive;
immolation it cannot be; as they have not apparently the smallest idea of
a Deity, much less of religion.

In imitation they are extremely apt, particularly in mimicry; and they
seem also in, many other respects to be capable of much improvement; but
they are so very unsteady and indolent, that it would be almost next to a
miracle to bring them to any degree of assiduity or perseverance.

Here I cannot help making what may appear rather an ill-natured remark;
our governors, for they are all such, have carried philosophy, I do not
say religion, to such a pitch of refinement as is surprising. Many of
these savages are allowed, what is termed, a freeman's ratio of provision
for their idleness. They are bedecked at times, with dress which they
make away with the first opportunity, preferring the originality of naked
nature; and they are treated with the most singular tenderness. This you
will suppose not more than laudable; but is there one spark of charity
exhibited to poor wreches, who are at least denominated christians? No,
they are frequently denied the common necessities of life! wrought to
death under the oppressive heat of a burning sun; or barbarously
afflicted with often little merited arbitrary punishment--this may be
philosophy, according to the calculation of our rigid dictators; but I
think it is the falsest species of it I have ever known or heard of.

The men and women, at an early age, devote to their chieftain, the
former, one of the upper fore-teeth; and the latter, the first joint of
the little finger of the left hand, as a token of their fidelity.--This
is one of their public ceremonies, and is performed in the most bungling
manner: but it is impossible to descend to particulars in the limits of a
narrow letter.

A canoe, spear, wooden sword, and shield, short buldgeon, stone hatchet,
fishing tackle, and a rude basket formed of bark, comprise the whole of
their domestic or offensive implements. Their substitute for knives is
ever at hand; the first shell that occurs fully answering that purpose.

They are very quick eyed, and dexterous in the striking of fish, or
aiming of the spear; but they are neither so athletic or nimble as might
reasonably be expected in a savage race.

Bedaubing, or streaking themselves in various forms with red or white
earth, they would prefer to the most tawdry birth-day suit whatever. The
same want of taste keeps them honest this way--but victuals, knives, or
hatchets, vanish with them in a twinkling.

It pays no small compliment to poesy and painting, that they are affected
by the most unenlightened as well as the most refined countries. The
natives are extremely fond of painting, and often sit hours by me when at
work. Several rocks round us have outre figures engraven in them; and
some of their utensils and weapons are curiously carved, considering the
materials they have to work with.

Their Poets neither having the advantage of writing or printing, are
necessitated to travel as the hedge-preachers in Britain, to extend their
reputation. It is but lately that an itinerant sable Ossian called this
way, and held forth to some hundreds of his countrymen, who after kindly
entreating, escorted him to some other bourne, to further promulgate his

Whatever may be their merits in this department, I confess that I am not
connoisseur enough to guess at them. Of their music, however, I may aver
that nothing can be more disagreeable, unless it be their other favorite
amusement, dancing; for if harmony be the foundation of the one, and
grace of the other, these aborigines have not, as yet, the smallest idea
of either.

The hair smeared with gum, and forked as the porcupine; a bone or straw
stuck horizontally through the middle cartilege of the nose; and the body
streaked over with red or white earth, completes the ton of dress of the
inhabitants of N. S. Wales, either for war, love, or festivity.

Many of them are tatowed over the arms, back, and breast, in a very
irregular manner, which seems to have been done at an early period of
life, for which they can assign no other reason than that of ornament.

It were presumption in me to speak of their language, with which I am but
little acquainted. Glossaries have been attempted by some of our
pretending and aspiring gentry, who, I am conscious, are as much ignorant
of it as myself. I think it is by no means copious, but rather confined
to a few simple sounds; but whether this is, or is not a beauty, I leave
to the learned to determine. To an European ear the articulation seems
uncommonly wild and barbarous; owing, very likely, to those national
prejudices every man imbibes, and perhaps cannot entirely divest himself
of. One thing they have in common with more refined communities, that
marks a clannish propinquity of kindred; which is a similarity in the
termination of their sir-names: Terribi-long, Benna-long, Bye-gong,
Wyegong, Cole-bree, Nan-bree, &c., &c., are full as striking as Thomson,
Johnson, and Robson.

As it is impossible for me to be so particular as I could with the
barbarian New Hollander must give place to a few other remarks, I would
inform you of ere I finish my letter.

Returning then back to general observations; and supposing you to have
heard something of the swiftness, meekness, and singular formation of the
Kangaroo, of the Opposum, Guanoe, Lizards, &c., I may say, that not only
these, but the whole appearance of nature must be striking in the extreme
to the adventurer, and at first this will seem to him to be a country of
enchantments. The generality of the birds and the beasts sleeping by day,
and singing or catering in the night, is such an inversion in nature as
is hitherto unknown.

The air, the sky, the land, are objects entirely different from all that
a Briton has been accustomed to see before. The sky clear and warm; in
the summer very seldom overcast, or any haze discernable in the azure;
the rains, when we have them, falling in torrents, & the clouds
immediately dispersing. Thunder, as said, in loud contending peals,
happening often daily, & always within every two or three days, at this
season of the year. Eruscations and flashes of lightning, constantly
succeeding each other in quick and rapid succession. The land, an immense
forest, extended over a plain country, the maritime parts of which, are
interspersed with rocks, yet covered with venerable majestic trees, hoary
with age, or torn with tempests.--In a word, the easy, liberal mind, will
be here filled with astonishment, and find much entertainment from the
various novel objects that every where present themselves.

To sum up natural reflection for the present:--though there are a variety
of objects to exercise the imagination, yet such a sameness runs through
the whole of the animal and vegetable creation of New South Wales, that I
think it would be no hard matter for the discerning naturalist to at once
distinguish them from those of every other country, by their peculiarity.
The various Banksias do not more appear to belong to one common family,
than the Kangaroo, Opposum, and Kangaroo-rat, to that of the Kangaroo.
The fruit and seed of the trees, and most of the underwood, ligneous and
scarce penetrable to the hardest instrument, have all of them something
of resemblance to each other. In short, from the savage native in the
animal, and the towering red gum in the vegetable, everything indigenous
to this colony, approaches or recedes by a very striking and singular
gradation of proximity.

Sydney-Cove, from whence I write this letter, is the principal
settlement, and is about 1/3 part as large as Dumfries. Parramatta, or
Rose-Hill, that I have spoke of, is somewhat less; and the latest
settlement, called Toongabbe, about four miles farther inland, is the
least of all. Many houses of the two former settlements, are built with
brick, and covered with tiles; but none of them, the governor's excepted,
exceed the height of one story. His Excellency's, indeed, is composed of
the common and attic orders, with a pediment in front, and commands the
most exalted station, but as neither the wood, brick, nor stone (lime
there is none) are good for much, it is simple and without any other
embellishment whatever.

It is impossible for a well-wisher to his country, not to breath a sigh,
should he visit us, nay, the genuine British patriot could scarce refrain
from dropping a tear upon a survey of such mistaken policy. To see what
has been done in the space of five or six years, of clearing, building,
and planting, is astonishing. To behold hundreds of hands laboriously
misemployed, that might be of service, and not burthensome to their
country, assuredly deserves attention and reformation; for whatsoever
interested men may advance to the contrary, I humbly declare, that it is
my opinion, that all that has been done is of little service to our
support, and of none at all to government; and that neither this, nor the
ensuing century will see us able to subsist ourselves, much less to
retaliate what has been lavished upon so very wild an adventure.

Norfolk, is a small rocky island in the sea, and is governed by a deputy,
named King. It lyes in latitude 29 . 3. south, longitude 168 . 10.
east. Its length does not exceed seven, nor its breadth four miles; and
it is about eight or ten days sail from Sydney. Capital offences done in
this island, are reserved to the decision of this tribunal; where the
culprits are brought to undergo a form of trial. I will not say but
justice in a criminal court may be administered impartially; but
instances of oppression, and mean souled despotism, are so glaring and
frequent, as to banish every hope of generosity and urbanity from such as
I am:--for unless we can flatter and cajole the vices and follies of
superiors, with the most abominable servility, nothing is to be
expected--and even this conduct, very often after all, meets with its
just reward:--neglect and contempt.

As a late journalist is much anxious to insinuate the assiduity and
virtue of governor P----, in urging matrimonial connections, and
forbidding illicit ones, I think I may here remark the efficacy of his
endeavours. Had such a scheme taken place, possibly something good might
have accrued, though little I think could reasonably have been expected
from the coupling of whore and rogue together. Be this as it may, I think
that it would have been equally praise-worthy in his Excellency, to have
recommended to our betters, the setting us a continent example; in lieu
of which, there is scarce a man without his mistress. The high class
first exhibit it; and the low, to do them justice, faithfully copy it.

I have observed instances in the papers, of ladies of easy virtue,
stoutly withstanding the royal mercy, and bravely preferring death to
Botany-Bay; but I would beg them to permit me, who am also a prisoner, to
encourage and advise them to behave more pliant in future, and by so
doing obtain their best wishes. Henceforth, be they most forward in
embracing every opportunity that occurs for transportation. They may rest
assured, that they will meet with every indulgence from the humane
officers and sailors in the passage; and after running the gauntlet
there, will, notwithstanding, be certain of coming upon immediate keeping
at their arrival. Nay more, if any girl of uncommon spirit, with a happy
talent for dissention, and no doubt but such there are, should attract
the affection of one in office, she may console herself with the
comfortable prospect of rendering every one unhappy around her; for by
her duplicity and simulation, she may so far agitate her cully, supposing
him one of the springs of our government, as to make our infant colony
quake to the very centre.

But be she ever so dispicable in person or in manners, here she may
depend that she will dress and live better and easier than ever she did
in the prior part of her prostitution.

Now for a contrast.--If a man's abilities are good, they are his bane,
and impede his emancipation. He must abide upon the colony and become the
property of some haughty despot; or be lent about as an household utensil
to his neighbours--there to exert these abilities, without any other
emoluments than illiberal reflection; for the least apparent murmuring
would instantaneously be construed insolence, and could not fail, though
he had faithfully served years, to immediately damn him for ever in this
life--for it would be burthened by cruelty, hunger, and the most
laborious of employment.

Be my merits what they may, I am sorry to say, that they have been
pursued by a good deal of this malign fortune I now mention; and for
which I quote myself, as one instance, to ascertain the truth of. My
employment is painting for J. W----, esq., the non-descript productions
of the country; and for which, I have the rewards hinted at in the
preceding sentence. The performances are, in consequence, such as may be
expected from genius in bondage, to a very mercenary sordid person. There
are, thank God, no fetters for the soul: collected in herself, she scorns
ungenerous treatment, or a prostitution of her perfections; nor will she
meanly pluck the laurel from her own brow, to deck that of her unworthy
governor. Let it suffice to Britain, that my youthful hopes and
reputation are levelled in the dust, and that my old age will be unhoused
and indigent; but never let her presume to barter to interested men, the
efforts of the artist, or lowers of the mind; for those are placed
infinitely above her reach.

I could, along with this, point out many practices equally obnoxious to
honor or justice; but coming from my pen, they might savour so much of
virulence, and so little of candour, that I shall wave them. Though I
have nothing to expect from, or thank my natal abode for, still, fallen
as I am, it would pain me to have my veracity even doubted of by those I
am unknown to.

Should all, or any of these observations, seem not quite original, they
may still prove entertaining from their simplicity and truth. If,
therefore, the publication of such a letter, after the revisal by an
abler hand, can be in the least conducive to the interest of my dear
aunt, I shall yet account myself not altogether cast away; and shall take
care to furnish her with materials by every opportunity. There however
are reflections, which I need not point out, that I could wish either
entirely suppressed, or moulded into such a form, that should they recoil
here, they may not create me cruel and invincible enemies. And if any
person can be found, whose influence is so powerful as to extend here,
and soften my ill-fated condition, one or two years would return me back
with as correct an history, and as faithful and finished a set of
drawings of the picturesque, botanic, or animate curiosities of N. S.
Wales, as has ever yet been received in England.

Possibly, E. M----, esq. No.----, Ely, Place, London; J. M----, esq.; J.
B----, esq. at the India-Board, Whitehall; J. St. B----, esq., London; or
Sir J. J----, any of these, either jointly or severally, might accomplish
it.--I but submit this hint, without the smallest expectation of ever
profiting by it.

To make a proud comparison with a most celebrated literary character, in
order to soften the demerits of this heterogeneous and deranged
performance, I may truly say, that it was neither executed under the
shelter of acadmic bowers, nor the patronage of the great; but in much
indigence, sickness, and indescribable sorrow. That it was stolen from
the nightly repose of a poor being, who could but ill spare it, and who
had to toil as a slave by day, and prohibited from such an attempt under
the terror of rigid punishment--and yet, who maugre every barrier,
accomplished the present, from no other motive than to inform his
abilities subservient to her necessities.

Having occupied so much of my paper, and perhaps to little purpose, it is
high time to turn to my aunt, and speak of my affection. Never did I find
language so imperfect as at present, nor letters to give so little
satisfaction; for the former cannot shadow my feelings, nor the latter
yield me more than pensive melancholy reflection. Yet blessed be my God,
and you my dear, dear parent, even for the power of writing. It can
soothe, in come measure, the black desponding hour, and escape me to hold
an imaginary correspondence with you.--If my present should reach
Dumfries, and find you in existence, I can figure to myself the little
assembled groupe, anxious for its perusal; and my dear aunt as principal,
with the tear of unceasing sorrow stealing down her pallid cheek. O God,
here I would implore thee to speedily terminate to us both, the bitter
tempest of time; and grant to two afflicted and weary wanderers, a happy
meeting in the profound repose of thy beatific eternity!

I find also, for every one of my friends, a regard strengthened in
proportion to my long, long absence. Heaven knows whether my weak heart
could have stood equally faithful in prosperity; but certain it is, the
annals of adversity does not inroll a name superior to that of poor
Watling, for grateful fidelity to generous well-wishers.

To two young women, who I doubt not will remember me, I would present
both my love and respect. I think Miss K. M----, will not forget one who
wishes her but barely as fortunate as he is unhappy. Neither should Miss
A. B----, disfavor the recollection of me, for a similar reason. Tender
motives I will not urge, as they might possibly offend; but a letter from
either, especially Miss M----, would be an acquisition superior to
worldly fortune. For these two young people, my regard must be very
superior to impure desire; as at this remote distance, and with so little
hope of future comfort, I never- theless treasure for them both the most
tender, but most pure and virtuous of sentiments.

My old favourite Miss J. S----, is also still a great one. Tell me
whether or not she is single: she used ever to be a kind neighbour; and
one I could cheerfully at any time in my better days, have taken as a
lovely and awagreeable partner through life.

I begged hard for a letter from Mr. H----, in my last one to you. I hope
he will indulge me with the state of himself, and amiable spouse, and
family. Tell him, it will be extremely painful, should I return without
having where to lay my head, if he should forget me.

I shall not enumerate all my friends; flattering myself they will not
deem it disrespectful. Woe-worn as I am, my memory is not that
treacherous as to forget favours though long since conferred; but having
crowded myself to this last page, I cannot do more than just repeat their
revered names. Mr. and Mrs. M----, B----, D----, and the pious Mrs. M.
K----; these are foremost in my memory; yet thank God, I have still more
that I do not specify, who occupy a warm corner in this unfortunate

When you write to me, be so kind as inform me of every little incident in
the place; for the most trivial will be entertaining and dear to me. I
have seen almost the whole of the London newspapers down to the last six
months; but as they do not descend to occurrences done in that
neighbourhood where my infant and happier years were passed, their
intelligence is flat and insipid. Your new bridge and theatre I have
already heard of, from a soldier who had wrought as a gardener with the
M----, and P. M----, of D----; and who called upon me to see whether I
could promote a little cause for him with his commanding officer.

Possibly, if you can insert an advertisement in any public print,
something to the following purport, it may one day turn to advantage: as
my sole motive is your interest, and my happiness your well-being. I
leave the scheme for you to decide upon, and to act as the better
judgment of yourself and friends shall determine.


Sydney-Cove, Port Jackson, New South Wales, May 20th, 1793.

deserve better of his Country, proposes, with due Deference, under the
Patronage of an impartial Public,


In an highly-finished Set of Drawings, done faithfully upon the Spott,
from Nature, in Mezzo, Aqua-tinta, or Water Colours.

THAT the subjects attempted, shall be partial and general views of
Sydney, Parramatta, and Toongabbe; romantic groves, or native groupes,
and that, if possible, in the course of the work, curiosities in
ornothology and botany shall be interwoven.

Though the fabricator, with deep confusion, confesses himself a prisoner,
he would, nevertheless flatter himself, that a philanthropic and liberal
minded nation, would not render that an insuperable barrier; nor from so
melancholy a circumstance, deny him any claim to merit. He would modestly
insinuate, that he rates his abilities equal to the task proposed; and
flatters himself, that his performances shall be the most accurate and
elegant that have, as yet, been received in Britain, from the new world.

Those gentlemen inclined to encourage a work attempted by an unfortunate
being, that possibly may not be utterly destitute of genius, are humbly
requested to transmit their names (post paying) to Mrs. M. K----, nigh &c.

*** No emolument is expected until the paintings or drawings shall arrive
in Britain, and be submitted to the subscribers for engraving; when,
should they be found worthy the indulgence and protection of the really
unbiassed friends of lowly distressed merit--The author, shall gratefully
thank his patrons for what they may think him deserving for his labours.

* * * * *

Try to prevail with Mr. H----, to write a good letter, in my name, to
capt. M----, at E---- P----; stating, that my present condition is
chiefly owing to the low revenge of a certain military character, now
high in office. I would also beg the permission of dedicating this
intended work to him, which I have already privately commenced, and which
I have every reason to hope will not be a despicable one. Could he
prevail with alderman M'C----, to intercede for me, if not to be
emancipated, at least to procure for me the indulgence of prosecuting my
plan, it would probably revive my almost extinguished emulation. Here
again I refer you to your better judgment.

And now being upon the close of my letter--a letter that I am much
anxious for its conveyance; I would earnestly implore, that should it
fall into the hands of strangers, they would generously forward it to the
person for whom it is addressed:--and that should it arrive in Dumfries,
and that tender being happily stolen from existence, that they would add
to this obligation a single line of information to the writer, his most
fervent prayers should be the retaliation.

O! my dear aunt, at the moment I write hastily these last lines, my poor
heart undergoes the most ominous pangs--Yet alas! why should it? since
only in immortality I now fix my anchor for peace and rest. The sooner we
meet in that state, the sooner it is to be hoped will these painful
perturbations cease, and retrospection and sorrow be wiped forever from
your eyes.

Pardon me, best of parents, that this il-pensoroso gloom urges me to
affect you.--What would I not give to stretch me but one half hour upon
my aged grandmother's grave? or what, to throw me at your revered feet,
or mingle with your dust? Pardon such ideas! Oh me! aunt, I am weak! hide
this paragraph, and impute it solely to the softening hand of ever
dropping sorrow.

If there be a friend of mine that can yet recollect me, I would thank him
or her for a letter. No one commander of a vessel will refuse its
carriage, paying the inland postage, and directing it to the care of E.
L----, esq., surgeon, at Sydney, N. S. Wales I need not say that I bless
you; and that I am sure of your blessing in return; for if possible we
are both of us more than sure of either. Remember we will meet, if not in
time, in eternity. Meanwhile accept this tear, and heart-felt adieu,
which is all at present that is in the power of your unhappy but most
affectionate nephew, T. WATLING.


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