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Title:      Old tales of a Young Country (1871)
Author:     Marcus Clarke
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Title:      Old tales of a Young Country (1871)
Author:     Marcus Clarke


THE narratives which follow have, with one exception, already been
published in the Australasian weekly newspaper.

They were dug out by me at odd times during a period of three years,
from the store of pamphlets, books, and records of old times, which is
in the Public Library; and in their narration, I lay claim but to such
originality as belongs to the compiler. The fact, that, being in a
measure themselves records of bye-gone days, they have tickled the
memories of old colonists, and so attracted an attention altogether out
of proportion to their literary merits, is my reason for publishing them
in a collected form.

I have done my best to secure accuracy in names, dates, and minute
particulars; but the meagreness of the early colonial newspapers, the
wanton destruction or mutilation of many of the early colonial official
documents, the jealousy with which colonial families guard the secret
histories bequeathed to them by their ancestors, and the fact that the
rude, adventurous life of those early colonial days prevented the
registration of the very romances which it induced, render it difficult
to obtain correlative evidence of many statements quoted, and have
compelled me in some few instances to accept the narrative as correct on
the sole authority of the first and only narrator.

I shall therefore be glad to receive any corrections or suggestions from
persons whom accident has furnished with fuller information than I
possess, on the subjects treated of in the following pages. MARCUS
CLARKE. The Public Library, Museums, &c., Melbourne, 30th November,




AT daylight on the 13th May, 1787, His Majesty's ship "Sirius" made
signal to sail to a little fleet that had been lying off the Mother Bank
since the 16th of March. This little fleet was destined to carry
Governor Phillip to take formal possession of Botany Bay, a place
recommended to the Government as suitable for a convict station.

The fleet was not a large one. It consisted of His Majesty's ships
"Sirius," "Supply," and "Hyena" (the latter only acting as convoy for a
certain distance), three victualling ships with two years' stores and
provisions for the settlement, and six transports with troops and
convicts. The major-commandant and his staff were on board the "Sirius,"
and the transports carried about 200 officers and soldiers, together
with 775 convicts, consisting of 565 men, 192 women, and 18 children.
The list of the military force, as given by Captain Watkin French, of
the Marines (from whose account of the expedition the minuter details of
this paper are derived), is worth noting--4 captains, 12 subalterns, 24
sergeants and corporals, 8 drummers, and 160 private marines; and he
adds that the majority of the prisoners were mechanics and husbandmen
specially selected by order of the Government. Having got through the
Needles with a "fresh leading breeze," the convicts began to repine at
their lot; but on the morning of the 20th, getting their irons knocked
off by order of the commandant, and sending a few messages to England by
the "Hyena," which parted company that afternoon, matters began to
assume a more cheerful aspect.

Let us glance for a moment at the state of affairs in Europe. It was
seven years after the Gordon riots and the burning of Newgate. American
independence had been already declared, and the blood shed at Bunker's
Hill had caused the tree of liberty to blossom and bud. Admiral
Kempenfelt and the "Royal George" had gone down at Spithead. William
Pitt was 29 years old, and had been Premier of England for four years.
The steam-engine had supplanted the hand-loom in the cotton mills for
nearly three years. Poor Peg Nicholson had just stabbed at George III.,
and Edmund Burke had thrown the first stone at Warren Hastings.
Washington was on the eve of his presidency, and the Convocation of
Notables was waiting to be convoked. It was the age of mail coaches,
knee-breeches, frogs, Frenchmen, taxation, and wooden shoes. England was
yet bleeding from her struggle with her colonies, and the thundercloud
of revolution hung over France. Napoleon had just got his commission as
sub-lieutenant, and the Bastille had not yet fallen.

After touching at Teneriffe on the 3rd June--where a convict made a
desperate attempt to escape by seizing a boat in the night and rowing
off to a small cove, from which he intended to "cross to the Great
Canaries"--and at Rio de Janeiro on the 7th August, the fleet cast
anchor in Table Bay on the 13th of October, and found the harbour
crowded with shipping. At the Cape they remained until the 12th of
November, and took on board 2 bulls, 7 cows, 3 horses, 44 sheep, 32
hogs, besides goats and poultry, for the purpose of stocking the
settlement. A few officers also purchased live stock, but found it an
inconvenient proceeding, as hay cost 1 6s. the hundredweight. It was
also gratifying to the expedition to be informed by the master of an
American ship, 140 days from Boston, on a trading voyage to the East
Indies, and rescuer of the officers and crew of the "Harcourt," wrecked
on the Cape de Verde Islands, that "if a reception could be secured,
emigration would take place to New South Wales, not only from the old
continent but the new one, where the spirit of adventure and thirst for
novelty were excessive."

Meeting with contrary winds, Governor Phillip resolved to change his
pennant from the "Sirius" to the "Supply," and proceed on his way
without waiting for the rest of the fleet. On the 25th, therefore, the
separation took place, several sawyers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and
other mechanics being drafted from various ships into the "Supply," in
order that His Excellency might get a few buildings run up by the time
the fleet should arrive. The fleet itself was put into two divisions,
the first, consisting of three transports, under the command of
Lieutenant Bird; and the second, comprising the victuallers and
remaining transports, was left in charge of Captain Hunter, of the
"Sirius." Sailing in this order, then, on the 7th January, 1788, the
expedition sighted the shore of New South Wales, but the westerly wind
dying away, the little squadron was compelled to hold off the shore, and
did not get sight of it again until the 19th, and on the morning of the
20th--a dull, heavy, and cloudy day--the last division cast anchor in
the harbour, and was welcomed by the already-arrived "Supply" and her
illustrious passenger. The voyage had taken exactly 35 weeks, and out of
112 marines His Majesty had lost but one, making up for it, however, by
the death of 24 out of the 700 convicts.

The stay in the bay was not of long duration. The Governor and
Lieutenant-Governor (Mr. Robert Ross) started to explore the country the
next morning, and getting into an opening called by Captain Cook "Port
Jackson," were so struck with the advantages of the place that it was
determined instantly to remove thither. On setting sail the next
morning, however, a great alarm spread through the fleet: two large
ships were seen standing in for the mouth of the bay! All sorts of
rumours were afloat. It was the vanguard of a Dutch fleet come to
dispossess them. It was an armed vessel of war, and her consort. It was
a store-ship from England. Governor Phillip, however, stayed the panic
by making public announcement that the strange sail were French ships
under the command of M. de La Perrouse. The next morning the two nations
saluted each other as they passed with flags flying in the solitary bay.
After a few hours run to Port Jackson, during which time the party
admired the luxuriant prospect of its shores, among which many of the
"Indians" were frequently seen, they anchored in a snug cove, and on the
next day commenced to disembark.

Setting vigorously to work to cut down the trees, set up the tents, and
mark out the dimensions of their future home, the expedition passed away
some weeks pleasantly enough. The Governor fixed his residence on the
eastern side of a small rivulet at the head of the cove, with a large
body of convicts encamped near him; and on the western side were
stationed the remaining body of prisoners, with guards posted over them
night and day. The pressure of business--that is to say, the making of
huts and daubing of wattles--prevented the immediate reading of the
commissions, but on the 7th of February the colony was taken possession
of in due form. On that day the officers of the guard took post in the
Marine battalion, which was drawn up and marched off the parade, with
colours flying and music playing, to an adjoining ground which had been
cleared for the occasion, and upon which the convicts were assembled.
The judge-advocate, David Collins, Esq., then read His Majesty's
commission, which appointed His Excellency Arthur Phillip, Esq.,
Governor and Captain-General in and over the territory of New South
Wales and its dependencies. Upon this His Excellency made a judicious
speech to the convicts, assuring them of his desire to treat them fairly
and kindly, and read an Act of Parliament for the establishment of laws,
and patents for holding civil and criminal courts. Three volleys were
fired by the troops, who then marched back to their parade and were
reviewed by His Excellency, the day's proceedings winding up by a "cold
collation" in His Excellency's newly-erected tent, and the "drinking of
many loyal and public toasts." We can imagine the happy little picnic
party in the cool of the evening drinking prosperity to Port Jackson,
with the "Indians" handy in the adjoining bush, and about 1200 square
feet of cleared land round about them, all unwitting of goldfields,
Bathurst rushes, separation of Victoria, land acts, universal suffrage,
and the like.

The extent of the Governor's authority by this commission is defined to
reach from 43 39' south to lat 10 37' south; and commencing again at
the 135 of longitude east of Greenwich, it proceeds in an easterly
direction, and includes all islands within the limits of the specified
latitudes in the Pacific Ocean.[*] As far as regarded his authority over
his governed subjects, he was absolute; he had no council; he could
imprison at will, and pardon at will.

[* Captain French says 43 49'; Flanagan, 43 29'.]

He was soon called upon to exercise his power. Four days after the
conciliatory speech, three convicts were brought to trial. One was
convicted of striking a marine with a cooper's adze, and received 150
lashes for his pains. Another, for theft, was marooned on an adjoining
island, and kept there on bread and water for a week; while a third,
sentenced to receive 50 lashes, was pardoned by the grace of the
Governor. On the 28th of February a "mutinous plot" was discovered among
the convicts, who had planned to steal the provisions and take to the
bush. Four were arraigned, three sentenced to death, and the fourth to
be flogged. Only one, however, was executed--the ringleader, Thomas
Barrett, "an old and desperate offender, who died with a hardy spirit."
He was swung off the limb of a big tree, near which were assembled the
whole body of convicts, guarded by the battalion of marines.

The constitution of the court by which these fellows were tried was
rather peculiar. The number of members, including the judge-advocate,
was limited to seven, who are expressly ordered to be officers of either
army or navy. The court being met in military fashion--armed--the
judge-advocate swears in the members in the manner adopted towards
jurymen, and is afterwards sworn in himself in the same manner. The
crime is then put to the prisoner and the prosecution is left entirely
to the person at whose suit he is tried. The witnesses are all examined
on oath, and the decision is directed to be given according to the laws
of England, "or as nearly as may be, allowing for the circumstances and
situation of the settlement," by a majority of votes. In capital cases,
however, five out of the seven members must concur to make a verdict.
During the sitting of the court, the court-house was surrounded by a
guard under arms, and admission granted to any one who might choose to
enter it.

On the 15th February Lieutenant Bull sailed for Norfolk Island, a place
concerning which the "Ministry" had heard great reports, and took with
him Lieutenant King as commandant, a surgeon, a midshipman, a weaver,
two marines, and sixteen convicts, of whom six were women. Events went
on quietly enough. The natives, or "Indians" as they seem to have been
called, were friendly, and viewed with astonishment the white skins and
shaven chins of the new comers. Governor Phillip seems to have protected
them from insult, and they in return behaved with some civility, though
occasionally asserting their freedom by knocking in the skull of some
aggressive convict. They were a poor set of creatures going entirely
naked, sleeping in a sort of coffin of bark, eating roots and refusing
rum; but when roused they could be dangerous. Their weapons were stone
hatchets, wooden swords, spears, and clubs. The dingo, that pest of the
early squatters, was quite domesticated in those days. Governor Phillip
had one given to him as a present by a friendly native, and thought it
something like a fox. With the aspect and appearance of the colony the
settlers seemed more than satisfied, but they complained bitterly at
first of the bad grain of the wood. Snakes were plentiful, and the emu
and kangaroo alarmed the female convicts greatly. The soil seemed well
adapted for agriculture, and the vegetables planted by the garrison grew
very successfully. The notion of "mines," which it would appear had
possessed the brain of some wild dreamer in England, was speedily
laughed to scorn, although Governor Phillip observed a "prodigious chain
of mountains," running north and south, at a distance of some 60 miles
inland, which he thought might be worth exploring.

In the middle of March the French departed on the prosecution of their
voyage. Their ships--under the command of M. de La Perrouse--had sailed
from France on the 1st August, 1785, and as all the world knows, were
not destined to get back again. While at Botany Bay the abb Receveur,
naturalist attached to the expedition, died, and was buried on the north
shore, with a plate of copper attached to a tree above his grave.

On the 20th March the "Supply" returned from Norfolk Island, having
safely landed Lieutenant King. Lieutenant Bull reported that the Norfolk
pines were very large, but regretted much that he could not find any New
Zealand flax, arguing badly for the future commercial prosperity of the
colony from that circumstance.

Winter now coming on, the erection of barracks was set about with great
vigour, and the privates of each company undertook to build for
themselves two wooden houses, 68 feet in length and 23 feet in breadth,
but were compelled to abandon the undertaking and proceed on a more
limited scale. The plan of the town, moreover, was drawn out, and it
being agreed that "to proceed on a narrow confined scale in a country of
the extensive limits we possess would be unpardonable, extent of empire
commanding grandeur of design," the principal street was laid down 200
feet in breadth, and the rest in corresponding proportion. Possessed
with the same admirable notions, His Excellency undertook an expedition
into the interior. His party consisted of eleven persons, but at the end
of four days, provisions growing scarce, it was deemed prudent to

Now the troubles began. Fresh meat began to fail. The "Supply" went to
Howe's Island (discovered on her former trip) to look for turtle, but
found none. Fish became scarce. It was not thought prudent to kill the
live stock bought at so great an expense at the Cape, and the settlement
was compelled to live almost entirely on salt provisions. As a natural
consequence, scurvy broke out: vegetables were scarce, and the garrison
fell sick. It drew near the time for the departure of the ships for
Europe, and earnest representations were made concerning the supply of
fresh meat. But there was a hopeful spirit abroad.

On the anniversary of the King's birthday all the officers dined with
the Governor, and among other toasts drunk was that of "Prosperity of
Sydney Cove, in Cumberland County." At daylight the ships fired 21 guns
each, which was repeated at noon, and answered by three volleys from the
battalion of marines. Each prisoner received an allowance of grog,
and--glorious day--"every non-commissioned officer and private soldier
had the honour of drinking His Majesty's health in a pint of porter,
served out at the flag-staff." Three days' holiday were given to every
convict on the island, and four felons who had been marooned in irons
were allowed to rejoin their comrades. This indulgence, however, was
followed by ill effects. A prisoner named Samuel Peyton, twenty years of
age, broke open an officer's marquee, with intent to commit robbery, for
which offence he was tried and hung, together with another man, named
Corbett, who had attempted to escape.

On the 14th of July, 1788, the ships, with the exception of the "Sirius"
and the "Supply," which had gone to Norfolk Island, sailed for England,
to report to the British Government that the colony of Port Jackson had
been successfully established.

Looking back--while a boy yells latest Sydney telegrams under my
window--from the new story of 1871 to this old story of 1788, it seems
worth the retelling.


MOST people have heard of George Barrington, the pickpocket. His name
has become notorious--I had almost written famous--for gentlemanly
larceny. Bulwer has dished up an imitation of him in Paul Cliford, and
Lever has introduced him bodily into The O'Donoghue. I read once a
highly-spiced romance called by his name, and purporting to be an
account of his doings, in that oracle of nurserymaids the London
Journal, and I came very near to seeing a sensation drama in five acts,
of which he was the intelligent hero. I have heard his name mentioned
with almost as much admiration as that of Jack Sheppard by pipe-smoking
"old hands," yarning while the sheep were camped; and I have seen a
picture of him--Claude Duval dashed with Almaviva--presiding at a
banquet as the Prince of Prigs. That he was the prince of prigs in the
age of the first gentleman in Europe, there can be no doubt. He robbed
with grace, and broke the eighth commandment with an air. He was not
such a grand speculator as Price, otherwise Old Patch; he did not ride
so dashingly as Claude Duval; he had not the more solid qualities of M.
Vidocq, nor the enterprising financial ability of Sir John Dean Paul;
but he was, in his way, as smart a fellow as any of them. He lived
merrily all his life, and having been transported, made the best of his
altered circumstances, took the goods the gods provided him, became
superintendent of convicts at Parramatta, wrote a history of his adopted
country, and died in the odour of respectability.

It is on account of his latter exploit in the way of authorship that I
have elected to tell the true story of his life in these pages.
Strangely enough, however, though Messrs. Sherwood, Neily, and Jones, of
5 Newgate-street, London, published, in the year 1810, in two volumes
quarto, a History of New South Wales, by George Barrington,
superintendent of convicts, the literary fame of its author was not much
enhanced. His speeches, at his trials, were excellent, but his writing
is execrable. The History is a very slip-slop piece of work; and is,
moreover, according to Dr. Lang, untrustworthy.[*] As a thief, Mr.
Barrington was not above suspicion. As an author, he is beneath
contempt. One would have thought that so ingenious a stealer of other
men's property could not but have succeeded in literature; but, strange
to say, he neglected the advantages afforded by his early training, and
consequently has not achieved literary distinction.

[* Mr. West says that Barrington did not write the history at all, but
that the booksellers pirated Colonel Collins' New South Wales, and
affixed the pickpocket name as an attraction. West's Tasmania, vol. ii.,
p. 145.]

George Barrington was born in the year 1755 at Maynooth, in Kildare. His
real name was Waldron, and his parents seem to have occupied the
position of respectable cottagers. They were themselves in straitened
circumstances, and their son would have grown up without education had
not his precocious talents attracted the attention of a benevolent
clergyman, who placed the lad at school in Dublin. He was liberally
supplied with money by his patron, who announced his intention of
starting him in life. At sixteen years of age, however, he quarrelled
with another lad, and stabbed him with a penknife. For this, Waldron was
severely flogged, and smarting as much from wounded vanity as from loss
of cuticle, he determined to run away. The same night he packed up his
clothes, stole twelve guineas from his master, and a gold repeater from
his master's sister, and scaling the school wall, set out in the middle
of the night to seek his fortune. Such as it was, he soon found it.
Putting up the next evening at a small inn in the town of Drogheda, he
heard that a company of strolling players were to perform that night,
and, boy-like, went to see them.

The manager of this company was a man named Price. He was of gentlemanly
exterior, of reputed good family, and agreeable figure, but having been
detected in the commission of some fraud, was outlawed to Ireland. Price
fell in with the boy, took a fancy to him, heard his story, and enrolled
him as a member of his company. Burning with theatrical ambition,
Barrington--as he now called himself--essayed the part of Jaffier in
Venice Preserved, and made a hit. He had a speaking eye, a good figure,
a handsome face, some talent, and a prodigious memory. The last two
qualities gave him success in his new rle; the first three gained him
the heart of the Belvidera of the night. This was a young girl of
respectable connections and some education, who had been seduced and
deserted by a lieutenant of marines, and thrown upon her own resources
for a livelihood. She appears, however, to have been more sinned against
than sinning, and to have in some degree merited the affection which the
ardent, impulsive youth showed for her. Into this lioison Barrington,
like the young gentleman in the "Disowned," fell--or jumped--headlong,
and the company secured his services.

For some time life seemed cheery enough. With love in the person of the
lively actress, and fame in the shape of the thumpings of the thick
sticks of an Irish audience, Barrington was satisfied. But soon there
came a change. At Londonderry, Manager Price announced that he was in
difficulties. Barrington's stolen watch had long ago disappeared, and
the twelve guineas had quickly melted in the sun of Belvidera's smiles.
The "company"--poor devils--had not a sou amongst them. In this dilemma
Mr. Price suggested pocket-picking, and Barrington--with Belvidera in
tears--consented. What with pocket-picking and play-acting the winter of
1771 passed pleasantly enough, but falling sick of a fever, Barrington
was left behind by the ungrateful Price, and came near dying. Belvidera,
however, refused to desert her lover, and nursed him to a recovery. A
few weeks after, the poor faithful wicked little soul--she was only
eighteen--was drowned crossing the Boyne.

Barrington, upon this, set out to look for Price, and found him at Cork,
picking pockets. He told him of his loss.

"Join your fortunes with mine, lad!" says Price over a bowl of punch.
"Fools were made for men like us to live upon!"

The compact was soon made. Barrington took the part of a young gentleman
of fashion, and Price that of his tutor. They frequented assemblies,
balls, and races, and by the end of the year made 1000. Emboldened by
success, Price became less cautious in his operations, was detected,
convicted, and sent to the plantations. His hopeful pupil, turning his
head from the card-table, saw the arrest of his friend, and with a
plausible excuse, rose, slipped out, and took horse for Dublin.

At Dublin, he was caught on the racecourse, but, restoring the snatched
purse to its owner, was permitted to escape. Judging that the story
would soon get wind, he wisely started for London.

Now begins a new phase in his career. He had been the Bohemian, the
strolling player, the bon camarado of bully-rooks and swindlers. He
would take a new line of action. He would be the gentleman, the
gamester, the man of fashion. He sailed in the "Dorset" yacht (which had
on board the Duke of Leinster), and there he made the acquaintance of a
Mr. H. Mr. H. was a pigeon of admirable feather. Rich, and of good
family, he was well worth the plucking. Young, vain, and innocent, he
was easy to be plucked. To this young man Barrington introduced himself
as a man of fortune "travelling for his health," and they soon became
firm friends. With the remnant of his Irish booty, Barrington rivalled
his friend in extravagance, and the two seem to have seen the usual
round of London dissipation. When Mr. H. wanted money, he drew a cheque
on his bankers; when Mr. Barrington's funds were low, he picked a
pocket. Meanwhile, the dice-box rattled, and the cards were dealt
frequently. Ecart was a favourite game of the fashionable Mr.
Barrington, and he had a knack of "turning the king" that was both
curious and profitable. It was not fated, however, that he should keep
his dish all to himself. One night at Ranelagh, while indulging in his
usual depredations, he was accosted by a stranger. "I know you," said
this man; "I came over in the yacht with you from Ireland. I saw you
pick that gentleman's pocket. You are a scoundrel, sir; and unless you
divide, I hand you over to the police!"

The booty was nearly 100 in gold, and some five watches, but the
virtuous stranger was firm. They adjourned to a tavern, and Barrington
divided the spoil. The stranger turned out to be a swindler named James,
who had been the possessor of 300 a-year; but having ruined himself at
the gaming-table, had turned highwayman. A bullet wound received on
Finchley Common incapacitated him for his profession, and he then turned
parson and pickpocket. With this worthy, Barrington joined his fortunes,
and introducing him to poor H. as "Captain" James, the two rooked him
without mercy.

The "Thatched House" and the "Devil's Tavern" at Temple Bar were the
favourite resorts of the two friends, and they soon became famous for
their easy bearing and gentlemanly address. Cautious and cool,
Barrington mixed in the best society, and picked its aristocratic
pockets without detection. The noblemen of his acquaintance bewailed
their losses to him, and he cheered them with his sympathy, or roused
them with his wit. The memory which enabled him to play Jaffier at
twelve hours' notice stood him in stead in his new part of gentleman of
quality. He read largely, and remembered what he read. His natural
talents were great, his impudence unbounded, his nerve admirable; he was
Barry Lyndon varnished; he wanted but a touch of genius to become

In the summer of 1775 he visited the "waters" in company with other
dandies, and at Brighton--then called Brightelmstone, and only in the
bud of its Georgian blossom--he fell in with Lord Ancaster and Sir
Alexander Leith, and was entertained by them with much gravity. During
this time he still continued his partnership with James, who acted as
jackal to the more noble beast of prey, and found out his game for him.
Moreover, in his late profession of high toby man, Mr. James had become
acquainted with that useful creature, a "fence," or receiver of stolen
goods, who purchased the commodities which the firm had for sale, and
asked no questions. It is just probable that Barrington imagined that
his partner--jackal as he was--retained the lion's share of the booty,
for in the beginning of the next spring I find him employing a Mr. Lowe
as his chancellor of the exchequer.

Lowe had been a livery-stable keeper, landlord of a sporting
public-house, and usurer. His last speculation, while it enriched him
considerably, enlarged his circle of acquaintance. He took a respectable
house in Bloomsbury, lived like a man of easy fortune, and "put away"
large quantities of stolen goods. To him Barrington linked his fortunes.
James, at first disgusted, and then indignant, appears to have accepted
the inevitable, and retired into private life. Like the wicked marquise
of the old, or the Becky Sharpe of the modern Balzac, he "sought the
consolations of religion." He retired to a monastery, and left all his
earnings to the Church. Lowe, by the way, was not so fortunate. He was
tried for firing a hospital at Kentish Town, of which he was treasurer,
and poisoned himself in prison in 1779.

In conjunction with this worthy man Barrington rapidly rose to eminence.
He went to Court on the Queen's birthday, and in addition to innumerable
snuff-boxes and purses, cut off the collar of an Order of the Carter,
and sold the diamonds to a Dutch Jew who came over from Holland each
year to purchase stolen jewels. Encouraged by his success, he next
attempted to steal Prince Orloff's diamond snuff-box, at Covent-garden
Theatre. This box was of gold, thickly studded with brilliants, and was
presented to the illustrious Russian by the Empress Catherine. It was
supposed to be worth 30,000. Barrington seated himself next the Prince
and secured the box, but the Russian caught him by the collar, and
handed him over to the police. Being brought before Sir John Fielding,
the wily prisoner set forth a sad case with such semblance of truth that
the good-natured Prince declined to press the charge, and he escaped
with a caution. This exposure, however, ruined his social reputation,
and being turned out of his old haunts he was compelled to hunt smaller
game. In 1777 he was detected picking the pocket of a trull at
Drury-lane Theatre, and was sentenced to three years' hard labour in the
hulks. Here his behaviour was so good that he was released after twelve
months, and six months after his liberation was again detected picking
pockets at St. Sepulchre's Church, and sentenced for five years. The
"hulks" of those days was a terrible place. Men and women were crowded
together. Oaths, dirt, drink, and the cat embroidered the prison
garments. Prisoners were treated like beasts, and behaved like beasts.
The lash cut the manhood out of them. Here Barrington seems to have
suffered severely in mind and body. He tried to escape twice and to stab
himself once, but was unsuccessful in all three efforts. His misery,
however, attracted the attention of a wealthy associate of former days,
who, exerting his influence with the Government, succeeded in getting
Barrington's release, on condition that he should exile himself, as his
old patron, manager Price, had done, to Ireland. Here he resumed his old
occupation, until Dublin was too hot to hold him; and then taking
Scotland by the way, returned to England.

His star shone brighter now than ever. He stole 600 at Chester, 1000
at York, and 500 guineas at Bath. He was the chat of the coffee-houses,
the scandal of the wells. His person was well known. He was the hero of
a hundred stories. He achieved a reputation for gallantry. Fine ladies
were in love with him, or professed to be. He was reported to have
robbed the King's coach, and to have intrigued with a royal duchess. He
was captured once or twice, but always escaped. He had plenty of money,
and turnkeys--in those days, at all events--were not angels. He jumped
from one disguise to another with the nimbleness of a harlequin. Now he
was here, now there. One day he would be a quack doctor at Bath, the
next a respectable bagman at Gloucester. He kept an E.O. table at the
races on Monday, and on Tuesday borrowed 20 as a Methodist missionary
desirous of turning heathen souls to God. Even when arrested, his wit
and manners saved him from the ready rope. Being seized at Newcastle, he
was sent in irons to Newgate, but pleaded so successfully with his
friends, that they raised 100 guineas for him, and spending it in feeing
an astute counsel, he escaped again through some legal quibble. At last
he was caught and held tight.

A Mr. Henry Hare Townsend having entered a nag for the Enfield races,
had gone down to see how fortune would turn. He had his watch and seals
with him, in his waist-coat pocket. As he was leading his horse down the
course, he was jostled by a person in light-coloured clothes, from whom
he demanded, with an oath, what he wanted, but got no reply. A few
moments after a Mr. Blades--a sporting friend of his--came up, and asked
him if he had not been robbed. Clapping his hand to his pocket, he
discovered the loss of his watch, and instantly suspected the awkward
gentleman in buff. This was Barrington. Seeing him the other side of the
course, Townsend and Blades went round and seized him, Townsend saying,
"You d--d rascal, you've got my watch!" They took him into a booth, and
there several witnesses of credibility swore that they saw him drop the
stolen property. On Wednesday morning, 15th September, 1790, he was
tried and convicted.

Barrington made an able defence, commenting on the unfavourable opinion
which the jury entertained of him, and the facts that no one saw him
taks the watch, nor could absolutely swear that he dropped it. Referring
to his expectation of a death sentence, he said that he should bear it
with fortitude, as he was innocent and maligned, but that if time were
given him to repent, he would do so without delay. The jury, impressed
by his eloquence, sentenced him to seven years' transportation. They
could have hung him if they chose. On Wednesday, the 22nd of September,
the Recorder pronounced sentence on him, and the accomplished scoundrel
took leave of him in the following neat and appropriate speech, to which
Mr. Owen Suffolk,[*] late of this colony, could perhaps alone supply a

[* A convict who, after many imprisonments, wrote an account of
his misdeeds, which under the title of "Days of Crime, and Years of
Suffering" was published in the Australasian, the principal weekly
family paper in Victoria. The talented author went to England, and is
again in jail.]

"My Lord--I have a great deal to say in extenuation of the crime for
which I now stand convicted at this bar; but upon consideration, I will
not arrest the attention of the honourable Court too long. Among the
extraordinary vicissitudes incident to human nature, it is the peculiar
and unfortunate lot of some devoted persons to have their best wishes
and their most earnest endeavours to deserve the good opinion of the
most respectable part of society frustrated. Whatever they say, or
whatever they do, every word and its meaning, every action and its
motive, is represented in an unfavourable light, and is distorted from
the real intention of the speaker or the actor. That this has been my
unhappy fate does not seem to need much confirmation. Every effort to
deserve well of mankind, that my heart bore witness to, its rectitude
has been frustrated by such measures as these, and consequently rendered
abortive. Many of the circumstances of my life, I can, without any
violation of the truth, declare to have therefore happened absolutely in
spite of myself. The world, my lord, has given me credit for abilities,
indeed much greater than I possess, and therefore much more than I
deserved; but I had never found any kind hand to foster those abilities.
I might ask, where was the generous and powerful hand that was ever
stretched forth to rescue George Barrington from infamy? In an age like
this, which in several respects is so justly famed for liberal
sentiments, it was my severe lot that no noble-minded gentleman stepped
forward and said--'Barrington, you are possessed of talents which may be
useful to society. I feel for your situation, and as long as you act the
part of a good citizen, I will be your protector; you will have time and
opportunity to rescue yourself from the obloquy of your former conduct.'
Alas, my lord, George Barrington had never the supreme felicity of
having such comfort administered to his wounded spirit. As matters have
unfortunately turned out, the die is cast; and as it is, I have resigned
to my fate without one murmur of complaint."

Being shipped off to his new home, Mr. Barrington not only conducted
himself with propriety, but did the State some service. A mutiny broke
out on board the convict-ship. The convicts attempted to seize the
vessel and take her to America, "where," says Barrington in his account
of the voyage, "they expected to not only attain their liberty, but
receive a tract of land from Congress." The plot was laid with some
ingenuity, and on an occasion when the captain and officers were below
examining the stowage of the wine, the mutineers attempted to get
possession of the ship; but Barrington, snatching up a handspike, kept
the hatchway until the officers came to his assistance. The two
ring-leaders were hung at the yard-arm that very afternoon, and the
others severely flogged. This service caused the gentlemanly convict to
receive some attention. He had the run of the store-room on board, and
was recommended to Governor Phillip as soon as the ship anchored at

The Governor received him with kindness, appointed him superintendent of
convicts, and in November, 1792, he entered upon that office by virtue
of one of the first warrants of emancipation granted in the colony. From
this time Mr. Barrington seems to have conducted himself with propriety,
and to have given up the follies of his youth. It is possible, indeed,
that police were more plentiful than purses in the land of his adoption.
However, he made an admirable superintendent of convicts, and would
address his petty officers in tones which yet faintly smacked of the
Phoenix and Ranelagh. At the expiration of his sentence he was but 44
years old, but he settled in Parramatta, and lived to a good old age,
though I cannot find the precise date of his death. The author of a
little book called Australian Discovery and Colonisation, published
1850, says that at that time the interesting thief was still remembered
by some of the early residents as a very gentlemanly old man,
scrupulously neat in dress and courteous in deportment. In addition to
his "history," which he dedicated with characteristic impudence to "His
Gracious Majesty," Barrington was the reputed author of the celebrated
prologue to the "Revenge," spoken on the 16th January, 1796, at the
first dramatic performance given in the colony, and which from the
neatness of the couplet--

"True patriots we, for be it understood, We left our country for our
country's good"--

has been often quoted. There is more reason, however, to suppose that
some officer of literary ability and cultivated tastes was the author.
No convict would have written such a cutting satire upon colonial
society and his own pretensions to respectability. Moreover, the
neatness of the prologue is in striking contrast to the slovenliness of
the history. It is impossible to imagine that the same hand wrote both.


EVERY country can claim for itself a Robinson Crusoe of home
manufacture. He of Australia is William Buckley. As the majority of
reading Australians are aware, Victoria--or, as it was originally
called, Port Phillip--was twice colonised: first, by Lieutenant-Governor
Collins, and, secondly, by Batman and Fawkner. The first was a forced,
the second a voluntary colonisation. Governor Collins came in 1803, with
convicts. Batman and Fawkner came in 1835 with freemen. Buckley belonged
to the first expedition, and, the only white man who remained in the
country, he lived long enough to see the second. He was one of the
convicts brought out by Governor Collins, and succeeded in escaping to
the bush and maintaining himself there for thirty-two years. His
"picture in little" has been often painted, but as perhaps few persons
are familiar with the details of his life and adventures, this sketch
[compiled from an account of his wanderings written by himself] may not
prove unacceptable.

William Buckley was born in 1780 at Macclesfield, in Cheshire. His
parents were poor folk, who cultivated young William upon a little
oatmeal. He had two brothers and a sister, but at sixteen years of age
he left them, and never saw them more. Apprenticed to a bricklayer, he
scorned the hod, and longed, like Norval, to "follow to the field some
warlike lord." His father objected, but the Norval parallel still
holding good, "Heaven soon granted what his sire denied." A sergeant in
the Cheshire militia, assisted by ten guineas bounty, proved too much
for parental advice, and William enlisted. He was at that time a prize
for any recruiting sergeant. His height was gigantic, his strength
excessive, and his brain-powerfeeble. He made a capital soldier. Getting
into the King's Own [4th Foot] he was sent to Holland, and fought there,
receiving a wound in the hand. On his return to England he obtained
leave of absence, and indulged in "riotous habits." His Dutch
experiences did not appear to have been of an improving kind. Possibly
the army swore as terribly in Flanders in the days of Buckley as it did
in those of Captain Tobias Shandy. However, be that as it may, Buckley
would seem to have borne rather a bad character, and being, as he neatly
puts it, "implicated in an offence that rendered me liable to
punishment," to wit, receiving stolen property, was tried at Chatham,
found guilty, and sentenced to the hulks. After six months' work at the
fortifications of Woolwich, he was ordered on board the "Calcutta,"
bound for Australia; and from this date his story, as far as we are
concerned with it, may be said to commence. Lieutenant-Colonel Collins,
of the Royal Marines (who had previously been Judge-Advocate to the
colony of New South Wales at its establishment by Governor Phillip), had
been compensated for loss of legitimate promotion by the governorship of
the projected colony of Van Diemen's Land. He was placed in command of
the ships "Calcutta" and "Ocean," with instructions to form a convict
settlement on the south-east coast of New Holland, and on the 27th
April, 1803, left England for that purpose. A journal kept by the Rev.
R. Knopwood, chaplain on board the "Calcutta," gives us some particulars
of the adventure.

After a somewhat stormy voyage the expedition sighted Port Phillip Heads
at 5 a.m. on the 9th October, and moored in the bay. After some
prospecting of the adjoining land, it was resolved to go higher up the
bay, and eventually near Point Lonsdale a site was fixed on for the new
city, and the stores were disembarked. On the 25th of October, at 8
a.m., the British flag was hoisted; and it being the King's birthday
into the bargain, some waste of powder was occasioned. The convicts were
then divided into gangs, and put to work; and after a skirmish or two
with the blacks, the colonists began to shake themselves down. Our hero
Buckley was by this time in a position of some importance, and Mr.
Knopwood records that on the 2nd November a complaint was made to him by
the future Crusoe that "one Robert Cannady had defranded Buckley, the
'Governor's servant,' of a waistcoat." Hearing the case in his capacity
of magistrate, the worthy chaplain upheld Buckley's cause, and ordered
the waistcoat to be given up. Notwithstanding his apparently comfortable
condition, Buckley was discontented. He complained that the rope's-end
was a little too freely administered, and that the work was too hard. A
magazine and store-house were the first public buildings erected, and
upon these Buckley--in virtue, I suppose, of his early lessons under the
Cheshire bricklayer--was employed. He had been brickmaking or
bricklaying for about three months when he resolved to attempt his
escape. Such attempts were frequent.

There seems to have been some wild notion abroad that California was
situated on the other side of the continent, and that Sydney was within
easy walking distance. The prisoners were not very closely watched; some
of them were employed at some distance from the barracks, and escape was
not difficult; but the character of the surrounding country made any
projected stroll to China or California a serious matter, and in the
majority of cases the poor ignorant fellows returned with gaunt frames
and hungry faces, begging to be flogged and fed. The Rev. Knopwood's
journal is full of attempted escapes, but he usually records one of two
results--a return or a death. The soldiers shot at any escaping convict,
and if they missed him, the settlement would content itself with the
surety proved by sad experience, that in a few days he would return to
the camp, or his dead body would be brought in by some exploring party.

On the 27th of December, one of these "escapes" took place. At 9 p.m.
six convicts endeavoured to make their escape, of whom Buckley was one.
They were beset by a look-out party, and one man was shot. His name was
Charles Shaw. The next night great fires were seen at a distance, and
were supposed to be lit by the runaways. On the 6th of January a search
was made, the worthy chaplain himself armed and assisting, but without
any effect. The colony became alarmed. The absence of four men in the
bush was a bad example. The next day the drums beat to arms, and a
select body of marines were sent in pursuit of the fugitives; but though
they were tracked for fifty miles, they could not be discovered.
Believing that the absconders had died in the bush, the commandant was
satisfied, and refrained from further exertions. On the 16th of January,
one of the party, named M'Allender, came in and surrendered, giving up a
gun which he had stolen. He said that all the others had died or been
lost in the bush. This intelligence was for the colonists satisfactory,
and in four days the occurrence was almost forgotten. Indeed, the
Governor and his officers had something more interesting than convicts'
escapades to occupy their minds.

From the very first landing the people had grumbled at the situation and
the climate. It was the height of summer. The thermometer averaged 110
in the sun. Fires were frequent; once, indeed, the huts of the officers
of marines and the marquees themselves were nearly consumed. The soil
was sandy and uninviting, the surrounding country barren and grim. Water
was not too abundant, and as yet no river of any importance had been
discovered. Collins had not the wit or the luck to penetrate to the
Yarra or to coast to the Barwon, and disgusted with the inhospitable
soil, he yielded to the entreaties of his officers, and broke up the
settlement. The 24th, 25th, and 26th of January were spent in
re-embarking the convicts, stores, and soldiers, and by daylight of the
30th Port Phillip was deserted. It had been colonised for the space of
three months, and during that time one child had been born. "On the 5th
November," says the chaplain, "Sergeant Thomas's wife was delivered of a
boy, the first child of European parents born at Port Phillip." This boy
was named Hobart.

The record of the chaplain's experiences, as far as it is necessary to
follow it, ends at 3 o'clock on the afternoon of the day of the
desertion. "At 3 p.m.," says he, "I dined with the Governor." Perhaps
the conversation at that dinner was not without reference to the fate of
Buckley and his companions. I can imagine the good chaplain sighing over
his glass, and mentally congratulating the repentant M'Allender upon the
good sense which had induced him to return to bondage. There could be no
hope for the poor runaways now. Even if, by some wild chance, a hardier
absconder succeeded in dragging himself back to camp, eager for the lash
and loaf, his tardy penitence must come too late. The hot January sun
would glare down now but upon deserted and unfinished buildings, bared
spaces of ground, and all the melancholy ruin of abandoned habitations.
Convict M'Allender himself, snugly disposed in the lower deck of the
"Ocean," might feel not uninclined to plume his ruffled feathers at the
good fortune which had preserved him from the hideous fate of his
unhappy companions. Let us see what that fate was.

On the evening of the 27th of December this had occurred. At sunset, the
hour of returning to the sheds, four men--one of whom had possession of
a gun obtained from the Governor's garden--sneaked round the
partially-finished buildings, and took to the bush. A sentry challenged,
and, receiving no reply, fired, and shot the last of the party. The
others ran for the best part of four hours, and though pursued, were not
recaptured. That night they camped on the bank of a creek, and in the
morning pushed on again with redoubled vigour. They had some bread and
meat, sundry tin pots, the gun before mentioned, and an iron kettle. It
was resolved to head for Sydney; and in happy ignorance of intervening
dangers, the adventurers set their faces to the wilderness and made
straight towards the present site of Melbourne.

They crossed the Yarra, and reached the Yawang hills on the third day's
journey. Here the last particle of the treasured bread and meat was
consumed, Sydney was distant, and starvation imminent. Buckley, who by
virtue of his size and courage had been elected leader of the party,
ordered a retreat to the sea coast, where mussels and limpets might keep
life in them. With some difficulty they made their way to the beach, and
wandered along it for three days, subsisting on gum, fish, and limpets.
They broiled their poor fare on the embers, having flung away the kettle
on the second day's march, as being too heavy to carry. It was found,
Buckley says, thirty-two years afterwards, by a ploughing settler. By
this time they had made the circuit of the bay, and from their lair
could see the "Calcutta" lying at anchor on the opposite side. Maddened
by hunger, and desperate with dread of death, the grim philosophy of the
lash and loaf overtook them. They lighted fires by night to attract the
attention of the settlement, and hoisted their ragged garments on trees
by day. Once a boat--probably the one with our armed chaplain--was seen
to approach, and a rescue was hailed with a sort of dismal delight; but
she returned without seeing their signals, and hope vanished. For six
days the miserable wretches starved within sight of their prison home,
and at last plucked up courage to make a last effort for life. They told
Buckley that they had determined to retrace their steps round the bay to
the settlement, and urged him to accompany them. The desperate giant
refused. He would have liberty at any hazard. Death in the gloomy
swamps, the fantastic underwood, or the barren sand hills, seemed not so
terrible as the death-in-life of the convict sheds. They might go if
they pleased--he would remain. They did so, and all but one--M'Allender
who carried the now useless gun--met the fate they dreaded.

Buckley, left to himself, turned his back upon the ships, and doggedly
set out in search of Sydney. "How I could have deceived myself into a
belief of reaching it," he says, "is astonishing. . . . The whole affair
was in fact a species of madness." For seven days he travelled, swimming
rivers, fording creeks, and plunging through scrub. His hope was to
follow the coast-line until he reached his destination. He lived on
shell-fish, gum, and the tops of young plants. On the sixth day the
climate grew warmer. This added to his distress, for it increased his
thirst. He began to have difficulty in finding food, and coming to two
rocks that stood close together, flung himself down between them in
despair. The rising tide drove him out of his miserable refuge, and
climbing to the top, he slept, and hoped to die.

The next morning, however, he found something which cheered him. All
through the journey the runaways had seen and heard the natives. Buckley
had twice swum a creek to escape from them, and at night the forest was
glow-wormed with their fires. The dying wretch--he had been without food
or water for three days, and was at the last gasp--came upon a
smouldering log. The sight gave him new energies. He tore down some
berries, roasted and ate them, and searching a little further found a
"great supply of shell-fish." At this place he remained for more than a
week,[*] and then coming to a big rock, sheltered by an overhanging cliff,
from which a plentiful stream of fresh water continually gushed, he made
himself a sort of hut. Here he lived in rude contentment, and feeding on
shell-fish and a sort of wild berry, began to experience the delights of

[* "It may have been two or three," he says, "for I seemed hence-forward
to have lost all record of time." Probably the cherry.

He was soon disturbed. One day three natives appeared, and took
possession of his home. They did not seem terrified at his appearance,
but ate and drank (cray-fish and water) with great gusto. They were
dressed in opossum skins, and armed with spears. Buckley, weak with
illness and unarmed, made no resistance to their will, and they bore him
off to their huts. That night they watched him, or he would have
escaped. In the morning, after a vain attempt to obtain such remnants of
his woollen stockings as time and the shingle had left him, they went
away, and he, frightened at the chance of their return, took to the
bush. For some months he wandered about, living the life of a wild man,
and subsisting on roots, berries, and shell-fish. The weather set in
gloomy and tempestuous. He was frequently without fire, food, or
shelter, and his sleep was broken by terror of the natives. The physical
instinct of life-preservation must have been very strong in the man; a
less stolid animal would have got rid of its burden long ago. One day,
crawling rather than walking through the scrub, he saw a mound of earth
with a spear sticking up out of the top of it, and, being in want of a
walking-stick, he pulled up the weapon. That spear saved his life.

Having lain down that night under a tree, at grips with his last enemy,
and not expecting to see the light of another morning, he was perceived
by two lubras, who brought their husbands in great amazement to see the
white man. The husbands--with that intelligence which is the privilege
of the male sex--saw the state of the case at a glance. A great warrior
had been buried at the mound. Great warriors, as all the world knows,
change into white men after death. Buckley was a white man; and,
moreover, he had in his hand the very spear that had been stuck into the
tomb. Nothing could be more satisfactory, and saluting the half-starved
convict by the name of Murrangurk, they bore him off to their huts, with
much shouting and demonstrations of joy. Luckily for the restored
Murrangurk, this joviality soon took the practical form of gum-water and
chrysalids, upon which he dined heartily.

After a terrific corroboree, in which the women beat skin-drums until
they fainted, and the men hacked themselves with knives until they bled,
Buckley was duly received into the black bosom of the people, and
presented with a nephew. This ready-made relative proved attentive, and
Buckley accepted his position with grace, reflecting that if his nephew
was not very wise, "there was no chance of his uncle having to pay his
tailor's or other bills. A consolation," he adds with some humour, "that
many uncles would be glad to possess with equal security."

The rescued man soon fell in with the customs of his rescuers, and for
the next thirty years lived with them as one of themselves, joining in
their fights, and taking a prominent part in their councils. He was
married to a charming but faithless woman, who, unmindful of the honour
done her, eloped with a young warrior of her own race a fortnight after
her marriage. Her justly indignant relatives, however, quickly knocked
her on the head, and upheld the sanctity of the marriage tie. Despite
his ill-success in the matrimonial lottery, Buckley appears to have
found considerable favour in the eyes of the lubras. He relates with
calm satisfaction many interesting intrigues, and pauses frequently in
his narrative to heave a tender sigh at the recollection of the many
ladies who were waddied for his sake. He became at last a sort of father
of the people, presiding in the council and issuing orders to the
senate. The tribe which originally adopted him were almost totally
destroyed in battle, and he then found a home among the friends of one
of his wives.

His account of his wanderings is not particularly interesting. The
Australian black is as far removed from Uncas and Chingachook, as Uncas
and Chingachook are from reality. Mr. Buckley's friends had no medicine
men, no tents, no Great Spirit, no fawnskin clothes, no mocassins, no
calumets, and no buffalo. They were simply a set of repulsive, filthy
savages, who daubed themselves with mud, and knew no pleasure save that
of gorging. I am afraid that Mr. Buckley's narrative shows the beautiful
fallacy of the "poetical" native theory. An Australian Romeo would bear
his Juliet off with the blow of a club, and Juliet would prepare herself
for her bridal by "greasing herself from head to foot with the
kidney-fat of her lover's rival." Poor Paris!

However, here and there we get amusing hints of primitive innocence. In
happy ignorance of cookery, Mr. Buckley's friends eat "all kinds of
beasts, fish, fowl, reptile, and creeping thing." They have no notion of
mechanical appliance, and a rude dam that Buckley makes astonishes them
greatly. Their arms are spears, clubs, and flint-headed tomahawks, and
they spear their fish and dig out their wombats. No genius among them
has ever invented a net or a snare. They keep count of time by
chalk-marks on the arm. They paint themselves for battle or feast. They
bury their dead in mounds, or suspend them in trees. They eat their
enemies, having previously grilled them between heated stones.
Affectionate wives preserve the knee-joints of their dead husbands as
relies, and wear them round their necks, locket-fashion. Deformed
children are instantly brained, and the population is kept within
reasonable bounds by judicious weeding of an extensive family. A child
every two years is considered enough for any reasonable mother, and
should she indulge in more, the indignant father cracks its skull
against the nearest tree. Nothing is new, we see,--not even Social
Science. Cannibalism is a luxury, not an ordinary practice; but Buckley
mentions a tribe called the Pallidurgbarrans, who eat human flesh
whenever they get a chance, and employ human kidney fat, not as a
charmed unguent for the increase of their valour, but as a sort of
Dundee marmalade, viz., "an excellent substitute for butter at
breakfast." These gentlemen are the colour of "light copper, their
bodies having tremendously large and protruding bellies." They ate so
many natives at last that war was declared, and some inglorious
Pelissier drove a few hundred of them into a cave, and setting fire to
the surrounding bush, suffocated them with great success.

When a girl is born she is instantly promised in marriage, and from that
time neither she herself nor her mother must speak to the intended
son-in-law, nor the son-in-law to them. Marriage is quite  la mode with
these people. The nearest approach, however, that they make to
civilisation is in popular theology. They believe that the earth is
supported on props, which are in charge of an old man, who lives at the
most remote corner of the earth. Occasionally this old man sends a
message to say, that unless he gets a supply of tomahawks and rope
wherewith to cut and tie more props, the earth will "go by the run, and
all hands will be smothered." One of these messages arrived while
Buckley was there, and he says that intense excitement prevailed, and
tomahawks galore were sent on to the "old man." "Who this knowing old
juggling thief is," says Buckley, "I could never make out. However, it
is only one of the same sort of robberies which are practised in the
other countries of what are called Christendom." Popular theology is
accustomed to cry out for "more props."

At last, after thirty-two years of savage life, Buckley met two natives,
one of whom carried a flag over his shoulders. He had long given up all
hope of meeting with white men; he had forgotten his language and almost
his name, but the sight of the flag gave him a strange shock. The
natives told him that they had seen a vessel at anchor in Port Phillip
Bay, near the Indented Heads, and, all hands having left her on a boat
expedition up the river, they had climbed on board and helped
themselves. They proposed to Buckley to go back with them and help to
decoy the people on shore, when they would kill them and seize the
cargo. Now for the first time the hope of escape from the hideous
liberty he had sought arose. He pretended to fall in with their views,
and going down to the sea-shore, made every effort to privately attract
the attention of the new comers. But he had forgotten the English
tongue, and could only make hoarse and unintelligible noises. Twice a
boat approached him, and twice, hearing his frantic gibberish and seeing
his savage costume, the sailors laughed and pulled off.

While watching the vessel, the natives told him that some years before
another vessel had anchored in the same place, and two white men were
brought ashore by four or five others, who tied them to trees and shot
them, leaving their bodies bound. There were many such mysteries of the
sea in those times.

In a few days more the vessel departed, and poor Buckley going to the
spot where he had last seen her crew land, found a white man's
grave--grim answer to his hopes and prayers. A few months after this he
found a boat stranded on the shore, and learned that two sailors had
been saved and well-treated by the natives, who wished to bring them to
him, but that the castaways, suspicious and ill at ease, had gone off in
the direction of the Yarra. There they were savagely murdered. A vessel
would seem to have been wrecked somewhere on the coast, for barrels were
found. One of these contained what Buckley, who found it, supposed to be
beer or wine; but the flavour appeared "horribly offensive" to him, and
he staved the cask.

At last his "good time" arrived. One day two young natives met him, and
waving coloured handkerchiefs, informed him that three white and six
black men had been landed from a ship which had gone away again, and
that they had erected two tents. The natives suggested murder and
robbery, and told Buckley that they were in search of another tribe in
order to fall upon the white men more effectually. Alarmed by this
intelligence, Buckley started for the white camp, and reaching it the
next day, sat down at some little distance and made signs to his
countrymen. His strange colour, his wild garb, and his gigantic height
appeared to alarm them, but they spoke kindly to him. Buckley could
neither understand nor reply. At last one man offered him some bread,
"calling it by its name," and as he did so, Buckley says, "a cloud
appeared to pass from over my brain, and I repeated that and other
English words after him." They took him to their tents, and gave him
biscuit, tea, and meat. He showed them the initials W. B. on one of his
arms, and they regarded him as a shipwrecked seaman. Little by little he
recovered the use of his tongue, and could speak with them. They told
him that the vessel which had landed them would be back from Launceston
in a few days with more people and a fresh supply of tools; that they
were about to settle in the country, and had already bought land of the
native chiefs. "This," says Buckley, "I knew could not have been,
because, unlike other savage communities or people, they have no chiefs
claiming or possessing superior right over the soil, theirs being only
as heads of families."

The natives now began to assemble in great numbers, and announced to
Buckley their intention of killing the new settlers, desiring him to aid
them, and threatening him that they would sacrifice him with the weaker
party if he refused. Buckley was a little frightened at this, but
succeeded in persuading his old friends to wait until the return of the
ship, when, he said, the amount of plunder would be increased. The ship
not returning as soon as was expected, the natives began to grow
impatient, and then Buckley, throwing off all disguise, openly sided
with the white men, and, arming himself with a gun, vowed he would shoot
through the head the first man who flung a spear. This threat, and a
promise of unlimited presents, kept them quiet, and at last the vessel

She brought Batman, Wedge, and their party, and having landed the
stores, returned next day to Van Diemen's Land with an account of
Buckley, and a solicitation from Mr. Wedge for a free pardon for him. He
was installed in the meantime as interpreter, and guide to the
expedition. When the vessel returned, Batman went on board, and fired
off his gun as a signal to Buckley that his pardon had arrived. The next
day he received that document, signed by Colonel Arthur, dated 25th
August, 1835, exactly thirty-two years from the date of his landing from
the ship "Calcutta."

By this vessel instructions were brought to the directors of the company
to proceed to the right bank of the Yarra, and in three days the site of
Melbourne was marked out. The next vessel brought Mr. Gellibrand and a
number of settlers, to whom Buckley was engaged as interpreter, at a
salary of 50 a-year and rations. He accompanied them in an exploring
expedition, and on his return built the chimney of Mr. Batman's house,
on Batman's Hill, the "first habitation regularly formed at Port

The tide of immigration now poured into the new settlement, and
Melbourne became a township. Captain Lonsdale (of Buckley's old
regiment) came over with a detachment of the 4th to assume the command
of the colony, and made Buckley his personal attendant. He was now in
clover, was well-dressed, well-fed, and a man of no small importance. He
quarrelled with a Mr. Fawkner,[*] from Launceston, "who had been an old
settler, but had no connection with the company." He acted as constable,
and hunted down and apprehended a black-fellow for killing a shepherd.
Governor Bourke with several officers of the New South Wales Government
visiting the place, Buckley received him at the head of 100 natives
"ranked in line, and saluting him by putting their hands to their
foreheads" as he directed. The Governor was interested in the "wild
white man," and asked him many questions about his wild life. Buckley
replied with suitable dignity, and ended by accompanying His Excellency
into the interior--about as far as Mordialloc--and showing him the
lions. On his return he heard of the loss of Mr. Gellibrand and Mr.
Hesse, and volunteered to look for them. The loss of these gentlemen
threw the settlement into a great state of consternation. They had
attempted to ride from Geelong to Melbourne, and had been lost in the
bush. It was generally thought that they were murdered by the blacks,
and several natives were shot without the slightest reason. All search
for the missing men proved unsuccessful, and Buckley returned. An
absconder from Van Diemen's Land being apprehended about this time,
Buckley was sent in charge of him to Launceston, and returned in a
steam-vessel, having on board Captain Fyans, who had been appointed
resident magistrate at Geelong.

[* John Fawkner, J.P., who claimed to be the founder of the colony.
He died on the 4th of September, 1869, aged seventy-seven years.]

He now seems to have been discontented with his position, and says
"finding that some persons were always throwing difficulties in the way
of my interests, and not knowing what might be the result, I determined
on resigning office, and on leaving a colony where my services were so
little known, and so badly appreciated by the principal authorities." On
the 28th December, 1837, Buckley sailed from Melbourne in the "Yarra
Yarra," and landed in Hobart Town on the 10th of January following. Here
he was made much of; public-houses were open to him, and strangers stood
treat to him. One gentleman took him to the theatre, and "one of the
performers came to ask me if I would like to visit the place again, and
come upon the stage." Buckley, with that wild desire to go "behind the
scenes" which thirty-two years of barbarism had not shaken out of him,
said that he would like it much. Next day, however, he discovered the
reason of his friend's kindness. He was to be exhibited as the
Anglo-Australian giant! "I soon," says he, "gave a denial to any such
display, very much to the mortification, as I afterwards understood, of
the stage manager, who had publicly notified my appearance." I wonder
who was this ingenious dog. He doubtless gauged the public taste
accurately--Buckley would have been a "good draw."

Shortly afterwards a Mr. Cutts, one of his old shipmates in the
"Calcutta," who had now become a wealthy and respectable settler near
Green Ponds, made interest with Sir John Franklin, and Buckley was
appointed assistant-store-keeper at the Hobart Town Immigrants' Home;
and when that establishment was broken up, he was transferred to the
Female Nursery as gatekeeper.

At the Immigrants' Home he "became acquainted with a family, consisting
of a respectable mechanic, his wife and daughter," and the mechanic
being killed by the natives near the Murray River, Buckley proposed for
the widow and was accepted. He was married in March, 1840.

Ten years afterwards he was paid off by the Convict Department, with a
pension of 12 a-year, and on this, and a subscription raised by his
friends, he lived until his death, which occurred in February, 1856,
when he had attained the age of seventy-six.


ON Saturday, the 23rd of September, 1820, the free residents of Hobart
Town, on opening the moist folio of the Hobart Town Gazette and Southern
Reporter found a startling proclamation.

The Hobart Town Gazette, let us note, was the paper authorised by the
Government, and assisted by those agreeable evidences of patronage,
Government advertisements. It was published "by authority," and printed
by Mr. Andrew Bent--the father of the Tasmanian press, who was at that
time the leading printer in Hobart Town. Mr. Bent, however, fell out
with Governor Arthur, and venturing to attack the Government, was
summarily deprived of his office, and eventually ruined.

In the year 1820, however, Mr. Bent was in good favour, and headed his
Gazette with the following notice:--

"His Honour the Lieutenant-Governor has thought proper to direct that
all Public Communications which may appear in the "Hobart Town Gazette"
and "Southern Reporter," signed with any Oficial Signature, are to be
considered as Oficial Communications made to those persons to whom they
may relate. "By command of His Honour, "E. ROBINSON, Secretary."

The proclamation which greeted the readers of this issue of the 23rd of
September, fifty years ago, was nothing less than an announcement of the
death of the late "Sovereign Lord, King George III., and accession to
the crown of that High and Mighty Prince George, of Wales," and ran to
the effect that William Sorrell, Esq., Lieutenant-Governor of the
settlements of Van Diemen's Land, together with several other
distinguished persons, being assisted by the officers, civil and
military, the magistrates, clergy, and principal inhabitants of the
colony generally, did publish and proclaim, "with one Voice and consent
of Tongue and Heart," the aforesaid High and Mighty Prince, to be
"George IV.," defender and rightful liege lord of all sorts of things,
and Supreme Liege Lord of Van Diemen's Land among the rest.

The paper in which this piece of news appears is lying before me as I
write. It is a broadsheet of the coarsest character, and, with its
flourish of Royal Arms at the head of it, looks not unlike a corpulent
playbill. The paper is rough in texture and brown in colour, and the
imprint is not as clear as it might be. The whole matter is of course
surrounded with a deep black border as mourning for poor old George
Tertius. A glance at its columns will give us a glimpse into a curious
condition of society. In the first sheet is the Police Fund of Van
Diemen's Land "in account current with John Beamont, Esq., Treasurer,"
in which are some quaint items. Mr. John Petchey receives 10 for
fire-wood supplied to Government-house. Mr. R. W. Fyett charges 1 for
the use of his cart and bullocks. The superintendent of police receives
6 as "a reward for capturing three absentees," also 5 for
"apprehending Blackmore, reward advertised" (Blackmore, I presume, being
a convict illegally at large). Mrs. Cullen is paid 2 15s. for
accommodating persons in attendance on the Lieutenant-Governor at
general muster. Nicholas de Courcy claims 1 for tailor's work for the
Governor's orderly, and Mr. Lord charges 50 "for a horse supplied to
Government." The Government was all in all in those days.

Immediately after this financial statement comes a paragraph that may
perhaps surprise one or two of the inhabitants of Hobart Town who think
their church has been named in honour of the patron saint of Wales.

"The Lieutenant-Governor directs that the new Church of Hobart Town
shall be called 'St. David's Church,' out of Respect to the memory of
the late Colonel David Collins, of the Royal Marines, under whose
Direction the Settlement was founded in the year 1804, and who died
Lieutenant-Governor in the year 1810."

Great generals have been canonised before now, and strong men lived
before Agamemnon and Colonel David Collins. Though to name a church
after a colonel of marines does seem rather a liberty with the Calendar.

The Lieutenant-Governor orders a "general muster of inhabitants" (civil
officers and military alone excepted), on certain days. This
proclamation is interesting because of its pleasant tyranny. It commands
all "free men" and "free women," together with "male and female
prisoners and ticket-ofleave men," to come together at certain places,
at certain dates, for the purpose of being counted, like sheep; and
further orders that at "all these musters the free women, as well those
who came free to this colony as those who are free by absolute or
conditional pardon, and by expiration of sentence, are to give in the
names and ages of their children."

What a strange sight this "muster" must have presented! Any colonial
Frith desirous of painting a picture of the sensational school might
choose a worse subject than that of "A General Muster in 1820." Let us
imagine for a moment the old town, the old-fashioned dresses, the
striving of the "tawdry yellow" of the convict garb with the "dirty red"
of His Majesty's uniform, the intermingling of faces, the strong
contrasts and curious juxtapositions. There seems room for powerful
painting in such a picture. The "Town Talk" is not very important. An
account is given of a procession which took place on Sunday, and was
composed of the Lieutenant-Governor, the Deputy Judge-advocate, the
officers and magistrates, and principal inhabitants of the settlement,
all in deep mourning, and it is stated that minute guns, in number
corresponding with the years of his late Majesty were fired from
Mulgrave Battery. The reporter for the Gazette remarks also that the
ceremony left a deep impression of the veneration and respect which were
felt towards the lamented sovereign, "an impression," he says, "which
was much strengthened by the discourse of the Rev. R. Knopwood, M.A.,
whose allusions to His late Majesty's Public and Private Virtues were
most appropriate to the melancholy occasion." "The writer further
observed that the memory of the deceased monarch cannot fail to live
while Royal Virtue continues to be venerated."

Le roi est mort; vive le roi! The next paragraph relates how the reading
of the Proclamation of the new king was received. The document--which is
printed at the head of the paper--was read "in front of Government-house
under a Royal salute from Mulgrave Battery, and three volleys from a
detachment of the 48th Regiment."

Commerce goes hand in hand with loyalty. The Southern Reporter is happy
to hear that "the new Flour-mill lately erected in Liverpool-street
Grinds remarkably well." The mill-stones of this remarkable structure
are specially mentioned as being "the first yet used in this settlement
the production of Van Diemen's Land." A vaguely-worded but well-meant
support of native industries.

That portion of a paper which Punch called the Hatches, Matches, and
Despatches, is not very well filled. One solitary marriage is alone

"Married by special licence by the Rev. R. Knopwood, M.A., on Monday the
11th inst., John Beamont, Esq., Provost Marshal, to Harriett, second
daughter of G. W. Evans, Esq., Deputy Surveyor-General."

But close upon the heels of the marriage follows an amusing exposition
of the intentions of a Mr. Fergusson.

"Mr. Fergusson hereby Begs leave to make known to those who stand
Indebted to him his intention of Looking for the same in the next
sitting of the Lieutenant-Governor's Court, and no Favor or Afection
will be shown."

Mr. F.'s impartiality is quite touching. Debts appear difficult to
collect at this date, for Mrs. Lord, acting as agent to Edward Lord,
Esq., acquaints the public that though deeply desirous of "affording
them every Facility for discharging their Embarrassments," still she
cannot remain wholly unpaid, but is prepared to accept good storeable
beef and mutton to the extent in quantity of 250,000 lbs. weight, at 6d.
per lb., in liquidation of their debts. While making this liberal offer,
however, Mrs. Lord feels it a duty belonging to her agency to state,
"that if the present opportunity be not embraced by Mr. Lord's
creditors, she will not allow the expected Circuit of the Supreme Court
to pass without resorting to that and the Lieutenant-Governor's Court as
the case may require to Compel Payment of the several obligations." A
courteous but a severe lady, Mrs. Lord, evidently, and one who will
stand no "nonsense," but have her lawful bond or pound of flesh, as the
case may be.

Here is a curious advertisement:--"Mr. Reiby has the pleasure of
informing the public that he has received by the last arrivals the
following choice articles, which will be sold at very reduced prices for
ready money:--Brass-wire seives, loom-shirting, flannel, writing-paper,
quills, wafers, ink-powder, tortoiseshell combs, spices of all sorts,
snuff, ball-cotton, threads, white and coloured handkerchiefs, men's
common hats, red cotton shirts, Flushing coats, red caps, waistcoats,
pea-jackets, drill frocks, trousers and jackets, chip hats, nankeens,
k-nives and forks, crockery ware, cotton socks, best English chintz,
best bottled London porter, cedar in plank, tumblers, English
playing-cards, gunpowder, white wine in draught and bottle, rum, tea,
sugar, Bengal soap, and various other Useful and Valuable articles.
Also, a capital One-horse Gig, with harness complete." Rather a
miscellaneous collection of Mr. Reiby's!

The newspapers of that day contained items which would rather startle a
modern Tasmanian. For instance:--"One Hundred and Fifty Pounds Reward.
"Police-ofice, Hobart Town, November 28, 1820.

"Whereas, Thomas Kenny (No. 73), a convict, 5ft. 3 3/4 in. high, brown
hair, dark-grey eyes, 18 years of age, a blacksmith by trade, was tried
in the county of Dublin in 1818, was sentenced to be transported for
life, born in the county of Westmeath, has a crucifix above the elbow on
the right arm, T.K. on the left arm, arrived in Sydney in the ship
"Bencoolen," and here in the ship "Admiral Cockburn," charged with
wilful murder; and Thomas Atkinson, &c., and James Letting, &c., and
Thomas Lawton, &c., and Joseph Saunders, &c., charged with divers
capital felonies, broke out of His Majesty's gaol at Hobart Town on the
night of the 27th of November." And so on. Beneath this Mr. James Blay
puts a "Caution to the Public.

"Whereas several of my One Shilling promissory Notes have been lately
altered into Five Shilling Bills; in order to bring the ofender or
ofenders to public justice, I hereby ofer a reward of Five Pounds
sterling to any person or persons who will be the means of apprehending
them. "JAMES BLAY."

A glance at the police reports and trials shows a healthy condition of

"Daniel Eachan, charged with forging an order for 3, is sentenced to 200
lashes and transportation to Newcastle. James Flinn and John Griffiths,
alias Frog, charged with stealing a pocket-book, value 15s., and
attempting to steal a watch, are sentenced to 50 lashes and
transportation to Newcastle; and John Anthony, James Taylor, and George
Howel, charged with "committing divers felonies," are treated to 100
lashes each and 12 months in the gaol-gang. Here are specimens of female

"Ann Darter. May. 5ft. 1 1/2in.; brown hair, brown eyes; aged 36;
servant. Tried at the Old Bailey, April, 1 822--life. Native place, St.
Sepulchre's. Absconded from the service of Dr. Bromley, 17th February."

"Janet Ceflude. Brothers. 5ft. 4in.; dark hair, dark eyes; aged 26;
dressmaker. Tried at Chester, April 5--life. Native place, Whitehaven."

Constables who permitted convicts to escape were not merely reprimanded
or reduced. A sterner punishment was meted out to them, as thus--

"Thomas Trueman, a Constable, was charged with negligently sufering two
prisoners, who were confined in the County Gaol on charges of a very
serious nature, to Escape, which was clearly proved by various
witnesses, and he was sentenced, being a prisoner, to be Dismissed his
Ofice and to receive 100 lashes.' Quis custodiel ipse custodes?

Amongst other duties of constables was that of seeing to the safe
housing of all ticket-of-leave men by a certain hour, and the ancient
institution of curfew, or something very like it, was in force. A notice
in the issue of the 23rd November, signed by Mr. Robinson, says--

"Commencing on Monday next, the Evening Bell will ring at 9 o'clock
until further orders."

Matrimonial matters did not always seem to go happily, even in this
primitive condition of things. Gentlemen are constantly advertising
their domestic troubles in the Southern Reporter, and scarcely a day
passes without some husband being left lamenting by his frail spouse.
Ladies seem to have been at a premium. I extract two plaints which are
touching in their simple woe:--"Caution.

"The public are hereby Cautioned against harbouring or concealing or
giving credit to my Wife, Mary Steele, she having absconded from her
home with sundry Articles amounting to nearly Fifty Pounds in property,
as I am determined not to pay any Debts she may contract, and to
prosecute any person or persons who may harbour or conceal her after
this notice.


The second is even more notable--"Whereas, my wife, Margaret Banks,
having eloped from her home without any Just Provocation, leaving me
with her Eive (sic) Small Children !--This is to give notice that I will
not be responsible for any debts she may contract on my account. "THOMAS

The care with which Mr. Banks distributes his personal pronouns is

"Leading articles" are few and far between in the columns of our
journal. Government advertisements, "local news," and lists of
"prisoners tried" exhausted the balance of reading matter, which is made
up of such items as these--"Indian marriage in high life," "Singular
discovery of a murder by dreaming," "New method of seasoning mahogany,"
"The honest cook," and "A jest by Mr. Curran." The "jest" is so
exquisitely dull that it is worth extracting--

"Mr. Curran, cross-examining a horse-jockey's servant, asked his
master's age. 'I never put my hand into his mouth to try,' answered the
witness. The laugh was against the counsel '(mark this!)' till he
retorted, 'You are perfectly right, friend, for your master is said to
be a great bite!'"

Let me close the Hobart Town Gazette of 1820 with the account of a
thunderstorm, during which an intrusive "Electric Fire-ball" entered a
"dormant window" in the roof of Government House. This impertinent
manifestation of nature descended from floor to floor, knocked doors off
their hinges, scattered plates, pulverised panes of glass, walked down
the grand staircase, melted the bell-wires, entered His Excellency's
office, struck His Excellency's chair [but "providentially His
Excellency was at that time absent on his tour through the North-Western
Country"], shattered His Excellency's umbrella, and passed through the
wall, leaving the house nearly a wreck, and full of a suffocating smell
of sulphur. "Most providentially" it so happened that "Mrs. Macquarie
and her darling boy" had that morning breakfasted in an apartment which
was the only one in the house not visited by this "scourge," and to this
cause "may be attributed their almost miraculous escape."

A distinction between the providential and the almost miraculous is here
very delicately marked.


THE social condition of Sydney in 1807 was somewhat curious. The place
being under military discipline, and controlled by military officers,
the army was at a premium. The Governor was a sort of proconsul with
absolute power, and his officers monopolised all the good things of the
colony. Among the principal of these good things was the rum-trade. From
the first settlement of New South Wales the unrestrained importation of
ardent spirits had prevailed to an alarming extent. Rum poured into the
colony in barrels, in hogsheads, in puncheons. Rum flowed like water,
and was drunk like wine. Rum was taken morning, noon, and night, was
paid as "boot" in exchanges, and received as payment for purchases. Rum
at last became a colonial currency. The governor, clergy, and officers
civil and military, all bartered rum. The New South Wales Veteran Corps
(a regiment of pensioners tempted by promise of privilege to emigrate)
was called the "Rum-Puncheon Corps." Mr. Macarthur (the chief actor in
the drama about to open) says in his evidence on the trial of Major
Johnston, that such barter "was universal. Officers, civil and military,
clergy, every description of inhabitants, were under the necessity of
paying for the necessaries of life, for every article of consumption, in
that sort of commodity which the people who had to sell were inclined to
take: in many cases you could not get labour performed without it."

This being the case, one may judge of the disgust that prevailed among
the rum-storers when it was reported that a new Governor was to replace
Governor King--a bluff sailor, who loved rum--with strict injunctions
from the home Government to put down the monopolists. The name of this
new Governor was Captain Bligh, a bold and daring, though somewhat
pig-headed post-captain, who had gained some notoriety by reason of the
famous mutiny of the "Bounty." This story is so well known that I will
do no more than glance at it. The "Bounty" was sent to collect seeds of
the breadfruit tree of the South Sea Islands, for the purpose of
planting them in the West Indies. Tired of this botanical exploration,
and seduced by the black eyes of the Tahitian damsels, the crew of the
"Bounty," led by a lazy old reprobate named John Adams, mutinied, and
putting Bligh and his officers adrift in a longboat, gave themselves up
to unrestrained licentiousness on one of the lovely islands of the South
Pacific. Here they lived for some years, until Adams, worn out by
debauchery, achieved patriarchal dignity, and preached the gospel to his
numerous family of half-caste children. Although it is more than
probable that he never heard of Byron, the old gentleman verified the
poet's statement anent "rum and true religion," for he tried the charms
of both, and died in the odour of sanctity. His companions, ultimately
found, were given the convict settlement of Norfolk Island as a
residence. They--with Adams at their head--have since been canonised by
the Low Church missionary story-books, and the "Mutiny of the 'Bounty'"
was for some time the strong point of the Sunday at Home. Bligh
displayed much ability in navigating his boat to safety, and as a sort
of recompense for the sufferings he had endured, was made Governor of
New South Wales. His previous history was a good one. He had been for
nineteen years a post captain; had fought under Parker, Howe, and
Nelson. At Copenhagen he commanded the "Glatton," and was thanked by
Nelson publicly on the quarter-deck for his services. He was said to be
a tyrant, and to have ill-treated the crew of the "Bounty." It is
possible he did so, but it is also possible that they deserved it.

The expectations of the colonists were realised. Bligh landed in 1806,
and forthwith announced his intention of travelling through the colony
in order to ascertain the condition of its inhabitants. Now, but four
months before his arrival, occurred the great March flood of 1806, and
the colony was suffering from scarcity of grain. According to Dr. Lang.[*]
maize-meal and coarse flour were sold in Sydney at 2s. 6d. the pound,
the two-pound loaf being 4s. 6d., and sometimes 5s., while "whole
families on the Hawkesbury had often no bread in their houses for months
together." Bligh riding round, like the King of Yvett, made personal
inquiries into the condition of each settler, and volunteered to take
from each a certain quantity of wheat or produce, giving in payment
orders in advance on the King's stores at Sydney. This arrangement,
however beneficial to the settlers, did not accord with the interests of
the military and civil importers of rum and tobacco. No settler who
could obtain tea, sugar, and woollen stuffs at nearly cost price from
the King's stores would sell his crop for the fiery Jamaica compound of
the monopolists, or accept as part payment the usual puncheon of strong
waters at the usual high rate of valuation. The merchants of Sydney were
most indignant, and their indignation was not decreased by the
publication on February the 14th, 1807, of a general order prohibiting
the rum-puncheon trade altogether. By this alarming order the monopoly
was at once crushed. Bligh prohibited "the exchange of spirits or other
liquors as payment for grain, animal food, labour, wearing apparel, or
any other commodity whatever." A prisoner convicted of such sale or
purchase rendered himself liable to 100 lashes and twelve months' hard
labour. A settler, free by servitude, pardon, or emancipation, was
deprived of all indulgences from the Crown, fined 20, and imprisoned
for three months. Free settlers and masters of ships were fined 50, and
deprived of indulgences from the Crown. This sledge-hammer proclamation
at once knocked to shivers the brittle pot of profitable monopoly which
had hitherto boiled so briskly, and the merchants and trading members of
the New South Wales Corps began to mutter curses against the popular
despot of Government-house.

[* History of New South Wales.]

At last a spark from an unexpected quarter fired the train. In March,
1807, the ship "Dart" arrived in Sydney. Among her cargo were two large
stills, one addressed to Captain Abbott, of the New South Wales Corps,
and the other to Mr. Macarthur. It seems that Mr. Macarthur was
part-owner of the "Dart," and that the agent to whom Captain Abbott had
written for the still, thinking that the speculation would be a
profitable one, took upon himself to send another to the owner of the
vessel. The vapours from these stills, when condensed, proved to be that
fiery spirit, called Rebellion.

According to custom, the manifest of the "Dart" was exhibited to the
Governor, who, observing the unlucky stills ordered them to be both
placed in the King's stores, in order that they might be shipped back to
England on the first opportunity. It so happened that the coppers of the
stills had been filled with drugs, and the naval officer to whom the
execution of the Governor's mandate was entrusted, retained only the
heads and worms, allowing the coppers to be placed in Mr. Macarthur's

Mr. Macarthur, formerly captain and paymaster of the New South Wales
Corps, and then a merchant of respectability, was not on good terms with
the Governor. As might naturally be expected, he sided with the
monopolists. Indeed, he was bound to the "opposition" by a threefold
band. As an old member of the military corps he possessed all the
camaraderie by which a regiment hangs together, and resented the
proclamation of the Governor as injurious to the interests of his old
companions. As a merchant, with whom the rum-puncheon trade was
necessarily a source of income, he saw himself deprived of large and
sure profits. As a private gentleman of wealth and station, holding a
position universally admitted to be only inferior to that of the
Governor himself, he had imagined himself injured by the action of Bligh
with reference to an appeal from the law courts, and refused to visit at
Government-house. At this distance of time, and in the absence of
anything like satisfactory evidence, it is impossible to decide how far
the conduct of Macarthur was dictated by petulance or vanity. Mr.
Flanagan, in his History of New South Wales, warmly supports the course
he took, and declares that Bligh's protended affection for the people
but veiled his quarter-deck detestation of all interference, and that he
tyrannised grossly over Macarthur and his friends; while Dr. Lang
contends that Bligh was an honest, rough, and well-meaning man, who
opposed himself sturdily to a monstrous system of mercantile robbery.
Having due regard to Bligh's former career, I feel inclined to agree
with Dr. Lang.

Macarthur, annoyed at the order of the Governor, was yet to be subjected
to another act of oppression. The "Duke of Portland" being about to sail
for London, it was discovered that the stills were not on board her, and
the Governor ordered them to be shipped forthwith. Macarthur replied
that he had nothing to do with Captain Abbott's still, and that he
intended to dispose of his own to some ship going to India or China; but
that if that should be objected to, the head and worm could be disposed
of as His Excellency thought fit, and that he would apply the copper to
some domestic use. His Excellency but reiterated his former order, and
after some complication and correspondence, a Mr. Campbell was sent to
"take the stills." The merchant showed him where they were placed, and
told him that he might take them at his own risk if he chose. Campbell
did choose, and Macarthur prosecuted him instantly for illegal seizure
of property, asking in court "if an Englishman in New South Wales was to
have his property wrested from him on the mere sign-manual of the
Governor?" The rebellion against despotism had begun.

Now another complication arose. In the month of June, a convict named
Hoare had escaped in the "Parramatta" to Tahiti. Macarthur was
part-owner of this vessel, and the English inhabitants of Tahiti (that
is to say, a few missionaries who had usurped the lands of the natives
under the pretence of converting them) complained to the Governor.
Proceeding were taken against Macarthur by the governor, and a bond of
900, given by the owners of the "Parramatta" to the Government,
declared forfeited. Macarthur appealed to the Governor against this
sentence, but without effect, and thereupon refused to pay the fine. In
default of payment the vessel was seized, and Macarthur, hearing of the
seizure, informed the captain and crew that as they had "abandoned" the
vessel, they might expect nothing more from him. By the colonial
regulations, no seamen were allowed ashore in Sydney unless under
certain conditions, and the men were therefore compelled to make
affidavit of their owners' procedure. In consequence of this affidavit,
the Judge-advocate sent a summons commanding the appearance of Macarthur
at court on the following day.

Unfortunately, Richard Atkins, the Advocate-general, was himself
involved in Macarthur's personal quarrels, and an action at law was then
pending between them. Moreover, Atkins was a man of intemperate habits
and profligate character. He is characterised by Dr. Lang as "the
broken-down relative of a person in power," and was notoriously
incapable of fulfilling his legal duties. Governor Bligh, indeed, having
been desired by the Secretary of State to inform him privately of the
characters of individuals holding office, wrote thus of Mr. Atkins:--"He
is accustomed to inebriety. He has been the ridicule of the community.
Sentence of death has been pronounced in moments of intoxication. His
determination is weak, and his opinion floating and infirm. His
knowledge of the law is insignificant, and subject to private
inclination; and confidential causes of the Crown, where due secresy is
required, he is not to be trusted with." The result of this mingled
ignorance and intemperance on the part of Atkins was, that he was
obliged to have recourse to a convict named Crossley in order to prepare
his indictments and aid his wavering judgment. Crossley had originally
been an attorney, but was transported for perjury, and having been
pardoned by Governor King, was living on his acquired property on the
Hawkesbury River.

As may be easily imagined, the scandal anent Atkins and his friend was
considerable, and Macarthur in his quarrel was supported by the majority
of the officers under Government. Desirous of pushing matters to a
crisis, and, I am afraid, not without a certain malice prepense against
his enemy, the Governor, Macarthur replied to the Judge-advocate's
summons by a cold and stinging letter, briefly refusing to attend. Upon
this, Atkins committed an error. Galled by the contumacy of the wealthy
merchant, he determined to put a slight upon him which he would not
easily forget. He issued a warrant for his arrest. The execution of this
warrant was entrusted to a man named Francis Oakes, who had been a
"missionary" to Tahiti, but was now head-constable at Parramatta. Oakes,
having thus from a fisher of souls become a fisher of bodies, repaired
to Macarthur's residence on the 15th December, 1807, and, "after many
humble apologies," presented the warrant. Macarthur read it,
and--remarking to Oakes that "if he came a second time to enforce it, to
come well armed, for he would never submit until his blood was
shed"--refused to comply. "I have been already robbed of ten thousand
pounds," said he; "but let them alone, and they will soon make a rope to
hang themselves." Poor Oakes then requested that the great man would
give him some document to show that the warrant had been duly executed,
and Macarthur wrote the following:--"Parramatta, December 15th 1807.

"Mr. Oakes--You will inform the person who sent you here with the
warrant you have now shown me, and given me a copy of, that I never will
submit to the horrid tyranny that is attempted until I am forced; that I
consider it with scorn and contempt, as I do the persons who have
directed it to be executed."

(Signed) "J. MACARTHUR."

Oakes having obtained this document, posted off to Atkins, and
(doubtless chuckling at the speedy humiliation of his superior)
recapitulated all that had passed. Atkins, furious with rage, sought the
Governor; and Mr. Oakes's deposition having been taken, a warrant was
issued for Macarthur's arrest. The next day three constables, armed with
cutlasses, apprehended the "monopolist" in the house of Mr. Grimes, the
Surveyor-general, and he being brought on the 17th before a bench of
magistrates, was duly committed for trial for "high misdemeanours"
before a special criminal court to be summoned for the purpose. To the
inhabitants this intelligence was as startling as the news of the arrest
of the Five Members had been to their ancestors. The despot had
accomplished a coup d'tat.

Macarthur, however, was liberated on bail, and in the interim between
the 17th of December and the 25th of January the greatest excitement
prevailed. The ill-feeling between the prisoner and the Judge-advocate
was well known and freely commented upon. Macarthur himself was not
idle. He enlisted the sympathies of the New South Wales corps, and seems
to have informed its officers (who were to try him) that he relied upon
their favourable verdict. This reliance was not unfounded. The officers
rallied round their old comrade, and it is on record that the night
before the trial Macarthur's son and nephew and two of the bailsmen
dined at a public mess-dinner of the corps. The colours of the regiment
were displayed and the regimental band playing, Mr. Macarthur himself
walking up and down the parade and listening to the music. History again
suggests a distant parallel in the "white cockade" Opera-house dinner of
bodyguards at the OEil de Boeuf.

It is, I am afraid, beyond question that Macarthur, not content with the
knowledge that the six jurors would acquit him, to the confusion of the
Government party, determined to strike a final blow at his old enemy the
Judge-advocate; nay, it is possible that, strong in his own position, he
meditated nothing less than the downfall of Governor Bligh himself. On
the 25th of January, 1807, the court was crowded not only with
civilians, but with many soldiers of the Veteran Corps, muttering
discontent, and fingering their side-arms. It was generally understood
that the prisoner had, in a letter addressed to the Governor, protested
against the presence of the Judge-advocate; and as it was evident that
the Judge-advocate was about to preside, the action of Macarthur was
anxiously looked for. The indictment--prepared by Crossley, charging
Macarthur with contempt and sedition--was then read, and the six
officers having been sworn, Atkins was preparing to take the oath
himself, when the prisoner challenged him. The point was argued, and
Atkins declaring that by the terms of the patent the court could not be
formed without him (which was perfectly true), Captain Kemp replied that
the Judge-advocate was nothing more than a juror, and Lieutenant Lawson
desired the prisoner to state his objections, calling out, "We will hear

Amid the greatest confusion, Atkins vacated his seat as president, and
Macarthur harangued the court. He stated that he had been brought to
trial in ignorance of the charge against him, that he had in vain
attempted to obtain from Atkins a copy of the indictment, and that he
objected to him on six grounds:--First, that a suit was pending between
them. Second, that Atkins cherished a "rancorous inveteracy against
him." Third, that having given evidence to support an accusation against
Atkins, he was therefore exposed to his enmity. Fourth, because Atkins
had "associated and combined with that well-known dismembered limb of
the law, George Crossley," to accomplish his destruction. Fifth, because
Atkins knew that should he fail to procure a conviction he would be
prosecuted for false imprisonment. Sixth, because Atkins had already
pronounced sentence against him at the bench of magistrates, and
consequently came into court with the intention to convict. This speech
contained a quotation of eight "authorities" on the question of
challenge, and ended with an ad captandum appeal to the New South Wales

At the conclusion of the harangue Atkins swore he would commit the
speaker for contempt, but Captain Kemp cried, "You! you commit! No, sir;
but I will commit you to gaol." The soldiers began to cheer, and Atkins,
apprehensive of violence, called out that he adjourned the court, but
the six refused to listen, and told the people not to disperse, saying,
"We are a court. Tell them not to go out."

The Judge-advocate having left, Macarthur demanded protection, stating
that he had been informed that a force of armed ruffians had been
prepared against him, and begging for a military guard. As perhaps had
been previously agreed upon, this request was instantly granted. The
provost-marshal, however, considering this proceeding a rescue, left the
court in search of Atkins and three magistrates, in order to get a
warrant for the apprehension of Macarthur.

The six, thus left masters of the situation, desired to proceed pro
formd, and solemnly then and there concocted a letter to the Governor,
requesting that another Judge-advocate might be appointed in the place
of Atkins. At half-past twelve the reply came. The Governor refused.
"Willing to wound, but yet afraid to strike," the six sent another
letter, reiterating their opinion, and begging further consideration.

Atkins, however, had not been idle. He, too, sent a memorial to the
Governor, giving his version of the story, and complaining that the six
had impounded his papers. Upon the receipt of this letter, the Governor,
at a quarter-past two, sent his secretary, Mr. Edmund Griffin, to the
court-house with a peremptory order to bring away all papers. The six,
however, respectfully refused to comply with this command, unless "His
Excellency would be pleased to appoint another Judge-advocate." At a
quarter to four the Governor played his last card. He sent a letter
"finally demanding an answer in writing" as to the intentions of the
six, and with italics "repeating that they were no court without the
Judge-advocate." The six at five p.m. closed the campaign by formally
informing His Excellency that they intended to retain the original
correspondence, and had adjourned to the following day.

That evening was one of intense excitement in Sydney. The recalcitrant
six were in some tremor as to the result of their proceedings, and one
may not unreasonably think that the mess-table talk was not of the
brightest. Mr. Macarthur, snatched out of the hands of the fowler, and
exultant in his temporary triumph, could not but be alarmed as to the
ultimate issue of the struggle; Richard Atkins, Esq., and Crossley his
companion, were indignant and revengeful, breathing threats and
warrants; while His Excellency, Governor Bligh--whose fits of rage were
notorious--paced the dining-room of the verandah-cottage called
"Government-house," waiting with furious impatience for the arrival of
his allies. The Prussians of this Waterloo were represented by Major
Johnstone, commanding the New South Wales corps; and immediately upon
the receipt of the last manifesto of the six, Bligh had sent a despatch
commanding his appearance. If the presence of their commander-in-chief
did not quell the rebellious officers, Bligh's quarter-deck knowledge
was good for nothing. Unluckily, Major Johnstone had been thrown out of
his chaise some time before, and was unable to come. He lived four miles
from town, and returned merely a verbal message, regretting his
inability to comply with His Excellency's order. "He was too ill to
come, and too weak to write." This was the coup de grace. It was evident
that the major sided with his comrades. Nothing now remained but to try
conclusions with Macarthur.

Early the next morning (January 26) Macarthur was arrested, and lodged
in gaol. The court, reassembling, demanded that he should be restored to
his former bail, and at ten o'clock addressed another letter to the
Governor, asserting that the deposition of the provost marshal was
false, and that the prisoner ought in law to be released. No answer was
vouchsafed to this document, and at three p.m. the court adjourned,
wondering what His Excellency would do next. They were soon informed. In
the course of the afternoon Bligh had decided upon war, and before
dinner each of the six received a letter summoning him to
Government-house on the morrow to answer for "treasonable practices." It
was also rumoured that Major Johnstone had received another letter,
containing a tacit threat that, unless he appeared to support
constituted authority, he would be virtually superseded in his command
by Captain Abbott.

The utmost dismay now prevailed. It was urged that Bligh intended to set
aside all forms of law, and ignoring the powers and jurisdiction of the
Criminal Court, would seize upon his enemies in virtue of his untempered
despotism. The barracks were in a ferment. Officers and men were alike
ready for resistance. In the midst of the turmoil, at five p.m., a
chaise containing the injured Johnstone drove up to the barracks.
Lafayette's white horse could not have produced a greater sensation. The
crowd on the barracks-steps received him with open arms, and, amid a
storm of mingled cheers and hisses, demanded whether he was come to ruin
or to save the state. Johnstone, whose action would seem to point to a
foregone conclusion, vowed that he had no intention of injuring his old
companions in arms, and his utterance was received with intense
enthusiasm. Presently, the waiting mob outside the gates, eager to know
the result of the noisy council within, were gladdened by a visible sign
of power. Two merchants, Messrs. Bloxcell and Bayley, appeared
flourishing a folded paper, and took the way to the gaol. Major
Johnstone, the "Lieutenant-Governor," had signed an order for
Macarthur's release, and was ready to back it with the muskets of the
regiment under his command. Presently Macarthur appeared amid more
cheering, and was conducted by his rescuers to the Council Chamber. For
more than an hour the council deliberated, and at last a strange noise
was heard in the barrack-yard. The soldiers were getting under arms. It
was more than a revolt--it was a revolution.

At half-past six the drums beat hard and loud, and the regiment, having
been formed in the barrack-square, marched down to Government-house,
with colours flying and fixed bayonets. Government-house was a
verandahed-cottage in O'Connell-street (in 1852 it was still standing),
and was guarded by the usual guard of honour, under Lieutenant Bell. As
the regiment approached Bell was heard to order his men to prime and
load, and the instant after joined his comrades. In another moment the
house was surrounded. The Bligh dynasty had fallen. Major Johnstone was
Governor of New South Wales.

The entrance of the revolutionary army was opposed by but one
person--and that a woman. Mrs. Putland, the widowed daughter of the
Governor, ran down to the gate and endeavoured to dissuade Johnstone
from entering, but she was put aside, and a search was made for the
Governor. It has been stated that Bligh took refuge under a bed, and was
dragged thence in a condition of craven terror; but this statement is
stoutly denied by many persons. It seems, indeed, almost impossible to
suppose that a man of Bligh's well-known courage would be guilty of such
an act of gross cowardice. All that we know of his past life militates
against such a supposition. In times of danger he had always been found
brave to rashness. His very vices were those which spring from an
overweening self-confidence, combined with strong personal courage. It
is not likely that a captain who had fought his ship so as to merit the
thanks of Nelson, and had lived through such a voyage as that which
followed upon the mutiny of the "Bounty," would hide beneath a bed to
escape from the violence of officers who had dined at his own table.
Moreover, there was nothing in the aspect of affairs to warrant such a
display of timidity. The "revolution" was after all but a civil matter.
There was no infuriated mob waiting to tear him in pieces. No threats of
personal violence had been used, and Bligh must have known that his life
was never in danger. Apart from the evidence of "character," which is
directly opposed to the supposition of rank cowardice, there is not the
shadow of motive for such a dastardly act as that with which he is
charged, while the story is in itself precisely one of those coarse lies
which are so easily invented, and so readily believed by the vulgarer
sort. Bligh and his bed is only another version of James II. and his

What really took place is--as nearly as I can discover--as follows:--

On entering the house Major Johnstone despatched Lieut. Minchin to
summon the Governor to his presence, and calling for pens and paper,
composed in Bligh's diningroom a formal letter of dismissal. This letter
stated that Bligh "having been charged by the respectable inhabitants of
(sic) crimes that render him unfit to exercise supreme authority," it
was the painful duty of the writer to require him, "in His Majesty's
sacred name," to resign his authority and submit to arrest. This letter
was addressed to "William Bligh, Esq., F.R.S.," and signed "George
Johnstone, acting Lieutenant-Governor, and Major commanding the New
South Wales Corps."

Bligh, in the meantime, had resolved on his course of action. Seeing
that resistance was hopeless, he called to his orderly to saddle his
horses, and ran upstairs to put on his uniform. His idea was to escape
from the house and get to the region of the Hawkesbury, where he
believed that the people, remembering the benefits he had formerly
bestowed upon them, would rise in his behalf. While standing on the
stairs, waiting for a servant who had gone for his sword, be was
surprised by a number of soldiers with fixed bayonets, who made their
way upstairs. Conceiving at once that Johnstone wished to take him
prisoner, he stepped back into a bedroom adjoining, and attempted to get
from a cupboard some papers which he wished to destroy. In this position
he was found by Lieutenant Minchin, who arrested him in the name of the

Minchin brought his prisoner into the drawingroom, "crowded," says
Bligh, "with soldiers under arms, many of whom appeared to be
intoxicated." The letter written by Johnstone was then brought by
Lieutenant Moore, and while Bligh was in the act of reading it, the new
Governor appeared in the doorway, surrounded by officers, and verbally
confirmed the contents of the letter.

Martial law was then proclaimed, all official papers and letters,
together with Bligh's commission as governor, and the "great seal" of
the colony, were seized, and Bligh was left with his daughter and
another lady, sentries being placed round the house to prevent his
escape. Strangely enough, this eventful evening was the 26th of January,
1805, the twentieth anniversary of the founding of the colony.

On the 27th a general order was published, headed with the following
Napoleonic fustian:--

"Soldiers! your conduct has endeared you to every well-disposed
inhabitant in this settlement. Persevere in the same honourable path,
and you will establish the credit of the New South Wales Corps on a
basis not to be shaken. God save the king!"

By the general order all the officers of the late Government were
deposed, Atkins heading the list. The ring-leaders of the revolution
were appointed magistrates, and Mr. Campbell, the Treasurer, was
dismissed, with directions to balance his accounts without delay.

Nor was this all. Three days afterwards, Mr. Fulton, the chaplain, was
suspended, and all civil and military officers, and every well-disposed
inhabitant, were ordered to join in thanksgiving to Almighty God for His
merciful interposition in their favour by relieving them without
bloodshed from the awful situation in which they stood before the
memorable 26th inst.

On the 2nd of February Mr. Macarthur was tried over again before the
same court which had already sat upon his case, Mr. Grimes Acting as
Advocate-general in the place of Atkins, and was unanimously acquitted.
Ten days afterwards he was made Colonial Secretary and territorial

Not satisfied, however, with advancing their friends, the successful
revolutionists determined to take vengeance on their enemies. Mr. Lowe,
the provost-marshal, who had arrested Macarthur, was imprisoned for
nearly three months on a charge of perjury, and finally sent for four
months to the coal-mines at Newcastle. Atkins was too high to be
assailed, but Crossley, the attorney, was sentenced to transportation
for seven years.

These arbitrary acts caused some sensation among the free settlers, and
the Government went the length of prohibiting all public meetings,
fearing lest a demonstration might be got up in favour of Bligh.
Notwithstanding this, however, a memorial was drawn up, signed by a
large number of persons, and forwarded secretly to England. This
proceeding was discovered, and the most active mover in the business,
Mr. George Suttor, was imprisoned for six months.

Notwithstanding the enthusiasm with which the rumpuncheoners had hailed
the accession of Major Johnstone (bonfires had been blazing in all
directions), the disaffected mustered largely, and it was rumoured that
a conspiracy was afoot to reinstate Bligh. The illustrious prisoner was
the white elephant of the Johnstone Government. He was kept at
Government House, and followed by a sentry wherever he went; but upon
these rumours gaining ground, was with his daughter placed as a close
prisoner in the military barracks. At last it was decided to send him to
England, and in March, 1809, he was permitted to go on board the
"Porpoise," on the condition that he sailed straight for Great Britain,
and did not attempt to land on any part of the Australian coast. Bligh
gave his word to this effect; but I am sorry to say that he broke it
immediately, and landed at Hobart Town, Van Diemen's Land being then a
dependency of New South Wales. His coming created considerable
excitement, and for some time he received the honour due to his rank;
but before long an attempt was made to seize him, and he was compelled
to lie on and off the coast in the "Porpoise," hoping for despatches
from England.

For nearly nine months the "Porpoise" beat about the Van Diemen's Land
coast, and at last the wished-for succour arrived. On the 25th December
Colonel Macquarie arrived in Sydney with orders to reinstate Captain
Bligh for twenty-four hours, and to then assume the command. Johnstone
was to be sent home in strict arrest, and the New South Wales Corps was
to be replaced by the 73rd regiment. In January, 1810, Bligh arrived
from Adventure Bay, where he had been lying when the news of the arrival
came to him, and was received with due honour by Colonel Macquarie. The
former officers were reinstated, and a special act passed to legalise
proceedings taken under the usurped Government.

On the 12th May Bligh sailed for England, and was followed by Johnstone
and Macarthur, together with a cloud of witnesses of all kinds. The
Government--caring but little for its convict colonies--was willing to
deal gently with the culprits. Bligh was certainly made rear-admiral,
and sent on active service, but Major Johnstone was not prevented from
becoming lieutenant-colonel. At length, on the 7th May, 1811, the trial
took place. The Court sat at Chelsea, the Right Hon. Charles
Manners-Sutton (grandfather of the present Lord Canterbury), being
Judge-advocate General. Colonel Johnstone was found guilty, and
cashiered. In publishing this sentence in the general orders the
following rider was added:--

"The Court, in passing a sentence so inadequate to the enormity of the
crime of which the prisoner has been found guilty, have apparently been
actuated by a consideration of the novel and extraordinary circumstances
which by the evidence on the face of the proceedings may have appeared
to them to have existed during the administration of Governor Bligh."

Colonel Johnstone returned to the colony, and died there, universally
respected, during the government of Macquarie. Mr. Macarthur, after a
compulsory absence of eight years, also returned, and did better than
poor Johnstone--he founded a family.

So ended the rum-puncheon revolution. To us it may seem something like a
storm in a teapot, but to the worthy residents of New South Wales in
1807 it was a very terrible hurricane indeed.


IN the year 1820, a writer in the Quarterly, speaking of a book given
him to review, says--"It is the greatest literary curiosity that has
come before us--the first child of the press of a State only fifteen
years old. It would of course be reprinted here, but our copy, pene-nos,
is a genuine Caxton. This little book would assuredly be the Reynarde
Foxe of Australian bibliomaniacs."

A copy of this wonderful work is now lying before me. It is a ragged and
dirty little pamphlet of 36 pages. The paper is old and yellow, the
letter-press in some places illegible, and several leaves are missing.
It is printed in the year 1818, by Mr. Bent, and is called Michael Howe,
the Last and Worst of the Bushrangers. The popularity of the volume is
unquestionable. It is quoted by Mr. West in his History of Tasmania, and
is extracted bodily into a History of Van Diemen's Land by one Syme, who
was a settler there in 1846. Mr. Bonwick, writing in 1856, calls Syme
the "historian of Howe," Syme however merely reprinted Bent's pamphlet
as an appendix to his own book. The Sydney Gazettes quoted by Wentworth
and West, Commissioner Bigge's Reports, and a pleasant collection of
stories called The Military Sketch-book, written by an "Officer of the
Line," and published by Colburn in 1827, also contain particulars
concerning the bushranger, and have been used by me to supplement the
curiosity of the Quarterly Reviewer.

From the year 1813--the year in which Colonel Davey arrived as
Lieutenant-Governor--to 1825, the colony of Van Diemen's Land was
overrun with bushrangers. The severe punishments of lash and chain urged
the convicts to escape, the paucity of the military force assisted them
in their attempts, and the mountainous nature of the country aided to
baffle efforts at recapture. In those days the "settler" would till his
fields with pistols in his belt, and smoke his evening pipe with rifle
placed ready to his hand. Bands of escaped convicts ranged the
mountains, descending from their rocky fastnesses to plunder, murder,
and ravish. They rode about in gangs, they held councils of war, they
posted sentries, and took oaths of secrecy. They attacked the gaol, and
liberated their companions; they even issued proclamations, and dictated
terms to the Governor himself. Indeed, the condition of affairs in
Hobart Town was not encouraging to the settler. The convict element was
uppermost. Felons were to freemen in the proportion of ten to one.
Concubinage with convict women was customary. The very ships that
brought a mingled herd of male and female criminals were the scenes of
unbridled license. Each sailor or soldier was permitted to ally himself
to a female, and the connection often terminated in a marriage which
manumitted the convict. "The madams on board," says Macarthur, "occupy
the few days which elapse before landing in preparing the most dazzling
effect in their descent upon the Australian shore. With rich dresses,
bonnets  la mode, ear pendants, brooches, long gorgeous shawls and
splendid veils, silk stockings, kid gloves, and parasols in hand,
dispensing sweet odours from their profusely perfumed forms, they are
assigned as servants. The settler expected a servant, but receives a
princess." The children of these rakings of the London bagnios were not
unworthy of their race. Their paramours vied with each other in villainy
and distinction. Blunt Davey himself was not too curious as to the
morals of his domestics, and gentlemen in Hobart Town witnessed some
curious scenes. "Society, as it then existed," says Mr. West, "nourished
every species of crime. Tattered promissory notes, of small amount and
doubtful parentage, fluttered about the colony . . . Plate, stolen by
bushrangers and burglars, was melted down and disposed of . . . They
burnt the implements of husbandry for the iron, they robbed the gibbet
of the chains, they even wrenched the plate from the coffin of an
opulent merchant, and stripped him of his shroud." In addition to the
cheerful condition of affairs at home, armed bandits, mounted on stolen
horses, rode abroad, and defied all attempts of capture. Of these gentry
the most noted was Michael Howe.

In the year 1812, the convict ship "Indefatigable," Captain Cross,
arrived at Hobart Town; and among the many poor devils whom she carried
was one Michael Howe, a native of Pontefract, transported for seven
years, for robbing a miller on the king's highway. The robber seemed
tractable and goodnatured, though cursed with a most pernicious love of
liberty. He attempted to escape before the vessel left the docks,
jumping overboard, and swimming some distance before he was retaken. On
arrival in Van Diemen's Land he was assigned to a Mr. Ingle, a
store-keeper, but the life did not appear to suit him. He had been a
sailor, had served on board a man-of-war, and owned (according to Mr.
West) a small collier. A man of determined character and somewhat
romantic notions, he resolved to escape and take to the bush. At that
time, a scoundrel named Whitehead, with a band of twenty-seven
desperadoes, ranged the country; to these worthies Howe made his way,
and was received with acclamations by the troop.

The first exploit of the gang was to attack New Norfolk--then a small
but flourishing township--and to plunder the inhabitants of all their
portable property. From New Norfolk they proceeded to Pittwater, and
burnt the wheat-stacks, barns, and out-houses of Mr. Humphrey, the
police magistrate, affixing to the gate of the ruined barn a paper, on
which was drawn--in the same spirit as the coffin and cross-bones of the
Irish rentreceipts--a gun firing a gigantic bullet at the head of a man.
Mr. Humphrey appears to have taken his loss quietly, but on the ruflians
plundering the house of a Mr. Carlisle, the settlers thought it time to
bestir themselves. A neighbour of Carlisle's, a Mr. M'Carthy, who owned
a schooner, the "Geordy," then lying in the river, determined to make a
push for a general capture of the gang.

Howe, when a servant at Ingle's, had gained the affections of a native
girl, and had induced her to accompany him to the bush. This young woman
was only seventeen years of age, and is described as being of some
considerable personal attractions. She was accustomed to wait upon her
lover, and to assist him in his escapes from justice. On the night when
Whitehead fired Mr. Humphrey's house, Black Mary and Howe were encamped
with some of the gang on heights above the plain. According to the
girl's statement, the bushranger in high glee filled a "goblet"
(probably a pannikin), and as the twilight closed, cried to his comrade
Collier, "Collier, we want light! Here's success to the hand that will
give it us!" Practical Mary, eager to please her lord, rose to get a
firestick from the embers; but Howe laughed loudly, and seizing her by
the arm exclaimed, "Sit down, girl! Whitehead's lighting a match for
us!" Presently "a tremendous flame arose from two different points
below, which threw a glare over all the plain." "There," cried Howe;
"these fires have cost a pretty penny. Here's success to the bushman's
tinder-box, and a blazing fire to his enemies!" Mary relates that Howe
was kind to her--after the manner of his sex--whenever "things went
right with him;" but that if anything "crossed his temper, he was like a
tiger." He was very jealous of her, she says; and when Edwards, one of
his gang, gave her a shawl which he had stolen from Captain Tonnson,
Howe pistolled him on the spot.

M'Carthy organised a party, consisting of some eleven men, among whom
were Carlisle, O'Birne, the master of the schooner, and an old convict
of sixty years of age, named Worral. This old man had been one of the
mutineers of the Nore, and though he vows in his narrative (given in the
Military Sketch-Book) that the only part he took in the proceedings was
the writing "in a fair hand" several papers for the mutineers, he was
transported for life to Van Diemen's Land. This party, armed to the
teeth, and guided by a native, set out upon the track of the
bushrangers. By-and-by they heard the report of a musket-shot, and
creeping stealthily up behind a huge hollowed log, came upon the bandits
pleasantly encamped. The scene as described by Worral must have been a
picturesque one. "Some were cooking pieces of mutton; others lolling on
the grass, smoking and drinking; and a pretty, interesting-looking
native girl sat playing with the long and bushy black ringlets of a
stout, wicked-looking man seated by her. He had pistols in his belt,
wore a fustian jacket, a kangaroo-skin cap and waistcoat, with leather
gaiters and dirty velveteen breeches." This was Michael Howe. Whitehead,
the leader--"a tall, ill-looking villain"--was asleep on the grass.
M'Carthy directed his men to cock their pieces, and called upon the
bushrangers to surrender. Instantly the gang were on their feet. But
before a shot was fired, Whitehead called a parley. "We don't want to
shed blood," said he; "go home." M'Carthy still held firm, and was
further expostulating, when Howe roared, "Slap at the beggars!" and a
tearing volley from guns and pistols rattled among the branches. Five of
the attacking party fell, and, "keeping up a brisk hedge-firing," they
were forced to retreat, leaving one of their number--a man named
Murphy--dead on the grass. Mr. Carlisle and O'Birne were mortally
wounded: Carlisle died on the road home; O'Birne, who was shot through
the jaws, lingered for four days in extreme agony.

M'Carthy knew that his unsuccessful attempt would bring upon him speedy
vengeance, and applied for military protection. A detachment of the 73rd
Regiment were sent out to scour the country, and M'Carthy's homestead
was garrisoned by a party of the 46th. The bushrangers, unwitting of the
ambush, attacked the farm, and a sort of siege commenced. The soldiers,
however, gained the day, and a shot from Worral mortally wounded
Whitehead. The dying man ran back towards his comrades, crying to Howe,
"Take my watch--the villains have shot me." The soldiers ran round the
house to take their assailants in the rear, and Worral, reloading his
piece, observed Howe bend over the corpse of his captain as if to comply
with his request. He ran towards him, but when he reached the spot the
miscreant had disappeared, and there lay on the ground the mutilated
trunk of Whitehead. In pursuance of an agreement made between them, Howe
had hacked off his comrade's head with his clasp-knife, to prevent any
person claiming the reward that was offered for it. The gang got clear
away to the mountains. The body of Whitehead was gibbeted on Hunter's
Island, and Howe became the leader of the troop.

The atrocity and daring of the scoundrel now almost surpasses belief.
His head-quarters were about fifteen miles west of Oatlands, in a place
yet known as "Michael Howe's Marsh." He instituted there a sort of rude
court of justice, and would subject such of his band as displeased him
to punishment. Says Mr. West--"The tone assumed by this robber was that
of an independent chief, and in the management of his men he attempted
the discipline of war. He professed the piety of the quarter-deck, and
read to them the Scriptures." His style and title was "Governor of the
Ranges," and he addressed the King's representative as "Governor of the
Town." He punished his men with blows and hard labour if they disobeyed
him; and when one day a man named Bowles fired a blank shot over his
head in jest, the chief tied him hand and foot, and blew his brains out.
He compelled his adherents to take an oath of fidelity upon a (stolen)
Bible, and sent insolent messages to the authorities. In a journal
called the Bengal Hurkaru occurs the following:--"John Yorke, being duly
sworn, states--About five o'clock in the evening of November 27th
(1816), I fell in with a party of bushrangers--about fourteen men and
two women. Michael Howe and Geary were the only two of the gang I knew
personally. I met them on Scantling's Plains. I was on horseback. They
desired me to stop, which I accordingly did on the high road; it was
Geary that stopped me; he said he wanted to see every man sworn to abide
by the contents of a letter. I observed a thick man writing, as I
suppose, to the Lieutenant-Governor. Geary was the man who administered
the oath on a prayer-book, calling each man for the purpose regularly.
They did not inform me of the contents of the letter. Michael Howe and
Geary directed me to state when I came home the whole I had seen; and to
inform Mr. Humphrey, the magistrate, and Mr. Wade, the chief constable,
to take care of themselves, as they were resolved to have their lives,
and to prevent them keeping stock or grain, unless something was done
for them; that Mr. Humphrey might rear what grain he liked, but they
would thrash more in one night than he could reap in a year. They said
they would set the whole country on fire with one stick. I was detained
about three-quarters of an hour, during which time they charged me to be
strict in making known what they said to me and what I had seen. On my
return from Port Dalrymple, I called at a hut, occupied by Joseph
Wright, at Scantling's Plains. William Williams and a youth were there,
who told me the bushrangers had been there a few days before, and forced
them to a place called Murderer's Plains, which the bushrangers called
the Tallow-chandler's Shop, where they made them remain three days for
the purpose of rendering down a large quantity of beef-fat, which
Williams understood was taken from cattle belonging to Stynes and Troy."

The poorer settlers were in league with the daring robbers, and were
wont to supply them with information. Howe affected to be a sort of
Robin Hood--indeed it is probable that the marauder of Sherwood Forest
was just such another greasy ruffian. In another hundred years the
"light that never was on land or sea, the consecration and the Poet's
dream"--the consecration of that lecherous butcher, Henry the
Eighth--the poet's dream of that beer-swelling termagant, Virgin
Elizabeth--the light that gilds the shameless robberies of the glorious
Reformation--may shine upon Michael Howe in the character of a romantic
outlaw. The people certainly admired him; and though a reward of 100
guineas and a free passage to England was set upon his head, he was
accustomed to visit Hobart Town in perfect security.

Worral--who had set his heart upon seeing England again, and was always
on the watch to capture the bandit--came very near taking him on one
occasion. The old sailor was buying some powder and shot in the store of
one Stevens, when a man "dressed like a gentleman" entered. The moment
Worral heard him speak, he recognised the voice of the "fellow who had
cut off the head of Whitehead," and grappled with him. A furious
struggle took place, and just as poor Worral thought his 100 guineas and
free passage were safe, he received a violent blow on the back of his
head, and fell senseless. When he recovered, Stevens the storekeeper was
holding a pannikin of rum to his lips, and Howe had gone. Stevens swore
that "a strange man had rushed into the store, and knocked Worral down
with a bludgeon." The bethumped old fellow had his suspicions, but like
a wise man said nothing, until one day Stevens was detected in
"receiving" plunder, and previous to swinging on the Hunter Island
gibbet, confessed that he himself had struck the blow--"I wish I'd
killed him," he added.

A regular campaign was now commenced against the free-booters, and one
day a party of the 46th, among whom as a volunteer was the indefatigable
Worral, stumbled upon a hut on the banks of the Shannon. The bushrangers
had chosen their camping-ground with an eye to the picturesque. "It was
a flat piece of green land, covered with wild flowers, and over-looking
the most beautiful country that can be imagined: a precipice in our
front, from which we hurled a stone that rolled over half-amile of steep
hill down to river, all studded with islands and ornamented by the most
delightfully displayed foliage on its banks; plain over plain, and wood
over wood, was to be seen for twenty miles distance, and the blue
mountains far away gave one the idea of an earthly paradise, yet no
human being ever claimed it--none ever trod over this fair country but a
few lawless brigands." Remaining in ambush for some time at the spot,
they at last perceived four men approaching, of whom one was Howe. The
native girl before mentioned was with him, clad in a dress of skins,
feathers, and white calico. The instinct of the savage detected the
trap: she pointed, gesticulated, seized Howe's arm, and ran back. The
soldiers dashed out, and allowing the less valuable prey to escape,
followed Howe. The bushranger, closely followed by the girl, gained the
summit of a hill, turned round and fired, but missed, and ran on. For
more than a mile the chase continued, the bushranger gaining on his
pursuers at every stride, when the girl's strength began to fail her,
and she lagged behind. Howe pressed and urged her to further exertion.
The pursuers set up a great shout at this, and redoubled their efforts.
The girl fell, and Howe in vain commanded her to rise. The soldiers were
within five hundred yards of him, and gnashing his teeth with rage, the
monster drew his remaining pistol, and, taking deliberate aim at the
exhausted girl, fired. He then turned, and plunged into a ravine, "where
pursuit was hopeless."

Howe doubtless hoped that his bullet had taken fatal effect, and that
Mary would be unable to speak concerning him. He was doubly deceived.
The girl was but slightly wounded, and justly incensed at the brutality
of her lover. She volunteered to aid her rescuers to track him to his
hiding-place. After a march of three hours, the party arrived at some
huts on the Shannon bank. These were deserted, but on the opposite side
of the river stood Geary--the lieutenant of the gang--with levelled
musket. He fired, missed, and made off. The girl now led them to another
place, and as they "arrived at a high rock which overhung the waters of
the creek," a shot was heard; a wild figure burst out of the bush, and
darted past them. The cliff was steep, but two soldiers, dropping down
its hinder side, ran round and cut off the outlaw's retreat.

It was Hillier, the most brutal of the band. He turned and faced them
for an instant, and then, seeing their numbers, flung away his empty gun
with an oath, and sprang head-first from the rock into the river. The
drop was a hundred feet, and all thought him a dead man. He rose to the
surface, however, and swam for the opposite bank. The two soldiers
quickly ran to a narrow ravine formed by the over-hanging rocks, and,
daringly leaping it, met him as he landed. He took to the water again,
but on reaching the middle of the creek, and seeing musket-muzzles
menacing him on all sides, cried out that he would surrender, and, if
they would spare his life, turn approver. The sergeant who commanded the
party would make no terms, vowing to shoot him unless he surrendered
instantly. So he came ashore and was bound.

Now a very horrible discovery was made. Guided by the native girl, they
reached a hut, in which lay a body with the head nearly severed from the
trunk. "Ay," says Hillier; "that's poor Peter Septon; he often said he'd
cut his own throat, and now he's done it completely." "No man ever cut
his throat in that manner," cries Worral. "You did it, you villain!"
Hillier protested innocence, but a few paces further the party came upon
another bleeding wretch, with his hand shattered by a bullet, and his
throat partially severed. This was Collier, another bandit. "Villain!"
cries he to Hillier, "you would have murdered me as you murdered
Septon." The black girl at this moment, seeing that the murderer was
inevitably doomed, says--"Hillier, you killed my sister too!" Hillier,
finding it useless to dissemble, confessed. The soldiers brought their
prisoners to New Norfolk, making Hillier carry Septon's head tied round
his neck. The two men who had escaped with Howe were soon afterwards
retaken at Kangaroo Point, and the four were gibbetted together on
Hunter's Island, beside the whistling bones of Whitehead.

Howe was now reduced to despair. The capture of the huts had deprived
him of his ammunition and his dogs--the two sources of life in the bush.
He resolved to surrender himself, offering, if his life was spared, to
assist the Government in capturing the remnant of his own band. Such was
the state of the country, and the terror his deeds had inspired, that
Governor Sorrell, who had succeeded Davey, accepted the offer made him,
and despatched Captain Nairns, of the 46th, as an ambassador to the
bushranger. Howe was brought to Hobart Town, and lodged in gaol, from
which he was soon rashly released, and permitted to walk about the city
attended only by a single constable.

In the meantime the robbers received reinforcements of several escaped
convicts, for whom large rewards were offered by the Crown; and
notwithstanding that Geary was shot in an affray in the Tea-tree Bush,
the plundering and burning continued. Twenty men were thought to be at
large. They seized the boat which carried provisions between George Town
and Launceston, they sent messages of defiance to the government, and
openly offered an asylum to all escaped convicts. Encouraged by these
successes, or perhaps weary of civilisation, Howe eluded his guardian
constable, and having received arms and provisions, made for his old
haunts. This was too much for human patience. The Governor made a
personal appeal to the settlers, and troops of volunteers were
despatched in all directions. Convicts and freemen took part in these
excursions, and such exertions were made that of the twenty only three
remained at large, Howe, Watts, and Browne. For these miscreants the
following rewards were offered:--For Howe, one hundred guineas and a
free pardon; for Watts, eighty guineas and a free pardon; for Browne,
fifty guineas and a free pardon. Brown, surrendered, but Howe was not to
be taken.

A convict named Drewe, otherwise called Slambow, was shepherding for a
Mr. Williams, and determined to make a push for the reward. This Drewe
had, it appears, with the majority of the convict storekeepers, often
assisted Howe in his escapes from justice. Falling in with Watts, he
pointed out the advantages of freedom, and suggested that the two
together might easily overcome the brigand. Watts assented, and proposed
to Howe that they should send a message to Hobart Town through Slambow.
Howe agreed, and the three met at dawn, at a place called Longbottom, on
the banks of the Derwent. Howe ordered Watts to shake the priming from
his gun, and did the same himself. Drewe had been advised to leave his
gun, and was unarmed. The bushranger then lighted a fire, and busied
himself in preparing a breakfast for his guest. Watts seized a
favourable moment, and, leaping upon him, secured him. Howe witnessed
the treacherous scoundrels eat their breakfast in silence, busying
himself the while with straining at his bonds. After breakfast the
captors started in high glee for Hobart Town, Watts going first with the
loaded gun, the bound bushranger in the middle, and Drewe bringing up
the rear. They had gone about eight miles, and Drewe, eager for the
reward, had refused assistance from his master, when Howe, watching a
favourable moment, slipped his hands from the loosened cords, drew a
concealed knife, and stabbed Watts in the back. Drewe was clambering up
a bank, and saw nothing; but, when he reached the top, Howe coolly
presented Watts' gun, and shot him dead. Watts cried, "Have you shot
Slambow?" "Yes," says Howe, "and will shoot you as soon as I can load
the piece." Upon this, Watts, though bleeding from the wound in his
back, made shift to get upon his feet, and ran some two hundred yards.
Howe, doubtless fearing an alarm from the shot, did not wait to complete
his work, but made off into the bush. Watts got to a settler's house,
and, being sent to Sydney, three days after his arrival, died of his
wounds. Villain as Howe was, one cannot but admit that his cowardly
assailants met with their deserts.

The double murder, however, caused a proclamation from Government,
offering, in addition to the reward and pardon, a free passage to
England for any one who should bring in the dreaded bushranger dead or
alive. Our old friend Worral determined to make a final effort. Alone in
the wilderness, Howe seems to have lived for some time the victim of a
despairing conscience. His nature was never without a touch of rude
romance, and the recollection of his crimes went far to turn his brain.
In his solitary wanderings among the mountains he saw visions. Spirits
appeared to him and promised him happiness. The ghosts of his victims
arose, and threatened despair. He kept a journal of his dreams--a
journal written with blood, on kangaroo skin. It is possible that, in a
land of fruits and game, he might have lived a hermit, and died a
penitent. But the barren beauty of the bush afforded no sustenance. He
was compelled to descend from his hut--an eyrie built on the brink of a
cataract, and surrounded by some of the sublimest scenery of the
Tasmanian mountains--to plunder the farms for food and ammunition. Armed
bands, incited by the hope of the reward, lay in wait for him at every
turn. Mr. Bonwick describes the condition of the man in the following
picturesque passage:--"Clad in kangaroo skins, and with a long, shaggy,
black beard, he had a very Orson-like aspect. Badgered on all sides, he
chose a retreat among the mountain fastnesses of the Upper Shannon--a
dreary solitude of cloudland--the rocky home of hermit eagles. On this
elevated plateau, contiguous to the almost bottomless lakes from whose
crater-formed recesses in ancient days torrents of liquid fire poured
forth upon the plains of Tasmania, or rose uplifted basaltic masses,
like frowning Wellington, within sight of lofty hills of snow, having
the peak of Teneriffe to the south, Frenchman's Cap and Byron to the
west, Miller's Bluff to the east, and the serrated crest of the Western
tier to the north; entrenched in dense woods, with surrounding forests
of dead poles, through whose leafless passages the wind harshly whistled
in a storm--thus situated, amidst some of the sublimest scenes of
nature, away from suffering and degraded humanity, the lonely bushranger
was confronted with his God and his own conscience."

To capture this hunted outlaw was the task and the fortune of Worral. He
allied himself with a man named Warburton, a kangaroo-hunter and
confidant of Howe's, and one Pugh, a soldier of the 48th. The three
proceeded to Warburton's hut, situated in a lonely spot on the Shannon
Bank; and Worral and Pugh sat down with their guns across their knees,
while Warburton went out to seek Howe. At last, the sun striking a tier
of the opposite hills showed two figures approaching the hut. An hour
passed, and Worral in despair crept cautiously out. The bushranger was
standing within a hundred yards of him, talking to the traitor. He drew
back, and presently Howe slowly entered the hut, with his gun presented
and cocked. He saw the trap at once. "Is that your game?" he cried, and
fired. Pugh knocked up the gun, and, says Worral with almost poetic
imagery, "Howe ran off like a wolf." I give the story of the capture in
the sailor's own words:--"I fired, but missed; Pugh then halted and took
aim at him, but also missed. I immediately flung away the gun, and ran
after Howe; Pugh also pursued; Warburton was a considerable distance
away. I ran very fast; so did Howe, and if he had not fallen down an
unexpected bank I should not have been fleet enough for him. This fall,
however, brought me up with him. He was on his legs, and preparing to
climb a broken bank, which would have given him a free run into a wood,
when I presented my pistol at him and desired him to stand. He drew
forth another, but did not level it at me. We were about fifteen yards
from each other, the bank he fell from between us. He stared at me with
astonishment, and to tell you the truth I was a little astonished at
him, for he was covered with patches of kangaroo-skins, and wore a long
black beard, a haversack and powder-horn slung across his shoulders. I
wore my beard also--as I do now--and a curious pair we looked like.
After a moment's pause he cried out, 'Blackbeard against Grey-beard for
a million!' and fired. I slapped at him, and I believe hit him, for he
staggered, but rallied again, and was clearing the bank between him and
me when Pugh ran up, and with the butt end of his firelock knocked him
down again, jumped after him, and battered his brains out, just as he
was opening a clasp-knife to defend himself."

Such was the end of Michael Howe. His captors cut off his head and
brought it to Hobart Town, terrifying poor Dr. Ross, who, proceeding
up-country a newly-arrived immigrant, met the ghastly procession. The
reward was divided amongst them; the settlers subscribed nearly double
the amount, and old Worral was "sent home free, with the thanks of the
Governor and the public."


IN Ross 's Van Diemen's Land Annual for 1835 appears the first part of a
"Shred of Autobiography, containing various anecdotes, personal and
historical, connected with these colonies." This autobiography is
anonymous, and was written by a manumitted convict. The second part
appeared in the Annual for 1838, after Dr. Ross's death. The writer's
name was Jorgenson, and the story of his life reads more like a romance
than a record of fact. He was a seaman, explorer, traveller, adventurer,
gambler, spy, man of letters, man of fortune, political prisoner,
dispensing chemist, and King of Iceland, and was transported for
illegally pawning the property of a lodginghouse-keeper in Tottenham
Court road.

His "autobiography" is written in a vain and egotistical strain, with
much affectation of classical knowledge, and is rambling and
disconnected. It occupies 195 closely-printed pages of the Annual, and
readers who prefer their information at first hand cannot do better than
procure the volumes, and read for themselves. My apology to the shade of
the author must be that, as the publication in which his lucubrations
appeared is long since out of print, and copies are extremely rare, it
is just possible that such a course of action would--on the part of a
few thousand readers--be absolutely impossible. I propose, however, to
stick as closely to the narrative as I can, and to give Jorgenson's own
language wherever practicable. This "old tale," therefore--to
appropriate a jest made concerning a plagiarising writer of colonial
notoriety--may be divided into two parts--that which is printed between
inverted commas, and that which ought to be.

"Who so able to write a man's life as the living man himself?" cries
Captain Jorgenson. "The age of intellect has merged into the
autobiographical. A Homer is no longer wanted to immortalise an
Agamemmon. For where sound the trumpet of his own exploits? or who, like
myself, would suffer the sad but instructive vicissitudes of his fate to
pass by unwept and unrecorded, or as Horace says--illacrymabiles? No;
having been promised a niche in Ross's Van Diemen's Land Annual--the
only sanctuary and safe retreat of great names, the sole Westminster
Abbey which these Australian regions can yet boast--I hasten to fill it
up before a greater man steps in to occupy the ground." After this
peroration--repeated in the second part as a gem too bright to be
lost--Captain Jorgenson proceeds to recount his birth and early

He was born in Copenhagen in the year 1780, and was the son of a
mathematical-instrument maker. He received a good education, but, though
his parents appeared to have been in easy circumstances, and would have
started him in business, the boy must needs "go to sea." "When I saw a
Dutch Indiaman set sail, with its officers on deck, dressed out in their
fine uniforms, my heart burned with envy to be like them." Old
Jorgenson, however, did not approve of his son's notions, and, with a
view to sicken him of a sea-faring life, bound him apprentice to an
English collier, and kept him on board her for four years. He was then
eighteen, and, "beginning to think for myself (for we in Denmark are of
age at sixteen)," he quitted the collier, and shipped on board the
"Fanny," a South Sea whaler, bound with stores to the Cape of Good Hope.
At the Cape he made another engagement with Captain Black, of the
"Harbinger," bound for Algoa Bay. Black had obtained his appointment for
services rendered on board the "Jane Shore" (prison ship). The prisoners
and soldiers concerted a plan of mutiny, and, seizing the vessel, took
her to Buenos Ayres. Black escaped the carnage, and, with 180 others
(among whom was the famous pickpocket and swindler, Major Sempill, who
refused to join the mutineers), was put into an open boat, and after
much hardship got to the West Indies. The "Harbinger" had a narrow
escape of being taken by a French ship of 44 guns (this was in the year
1798), but beat off her enemy and accomplished her voyage without

Returning to the Cape, young Jorgenson joined a brig of 65 tons. This
was the "Nelson," commanded by Lieutenant Grant, and was sent as a
tender to the "Investigator," commanded by Captain Flinders, on a
surveying voyage round the Australian coast. Dr. Bass, originally
surgeon of H.M.S. "Reliance," had got down to Western Port from Sydney
in a whale boat, and gave it as his opinion that "some strait" must
exist in that latitude. Captain Flinders set out from Sydney to
ascertain this point, but, before the result of his expedition was known
in England, the "Lady Nelson" was despatched on the same errand. She was
built expressly for the voyage, and was admirably fitted. Jorgenson says
she had "a remarkable sliding keel, the invention of Commissioner
Shanks, of the Navy Board, which answered so well that I have often
wondered it did not come into more general use." It was composed of
three parts or broad planks, fitted into corresponding sockets or
openings, which went completely through the vessel, from the deck to the
keel. These planks could be let down or drawn up at pleasure, to a depth
of 8ft., according as the vessel went into deep or shallow water, or in
sailing against the wind to obviate the leeway.

Lieutenant Grant received orders to shape his course for the western
extremity of what was then believed to be the peninsula of Van Diemen's
Land. The first point he made was King's Island (named after Captain
King, third governor of New South Wales). From King's Island they went
to Sydney, and then returned and completed the survey of Port Phillip,
Western Port, Port Dalrymple, and the Derwent. The "strait" was named
after the doctor, and Bass's Straits are a sufficiently credible witness
that Van Diemen's Land is not part of New Holland.

On her return to Sydney, the "Lady Nelson" was ordered to accompany
Flinders in his expedition to the north; but at the Northumberland
Islands she lost "all her cables and anchors on the coral reefs, and was
obliged to steer for the main island of the chain," and eventually
returned to Sydney. The "Investigator" went on, and circumnavigated the
continent. She had on board Messrs. Brown and Kelly, botanists (the
latter sent out at the expense of Sir Joseph Banks), M. Bauer, and
Westall, the landscape painter. The account of the voyage is well known,
as it is written at length in the chronicles of the early explorers, but
some particulars given by Jorgenson may find a place here. Having
accomplished her task, the "Investigator" was condemned as
unseaworthy--a condemnation which Jorgenson disputes--cut down, and sent
home under the charge of Captain Kent, nephew (by marriage) to Hunter,
the late Governor of New South Wales. Flinders placed his crew and
himself on board the "Porpoise" man-of-war, and was wrecked in Torres
Straits, in company with the "Cato" and "Bridgewater," "extra East India
ships." The "Bridgewater" escaped, and seems to have left her consorts
to their fate. The crew of the "Porpoise" got on to the reef, but all on
board the "Cato" were lost except three. Flinders took the intelligence
to Sydney in the ship's boat, leaving the survivors "building a schooner
of the wreck." They were ultimately saved, but the botanical collection
of "unknown Australian plants" was lost. Nothing daunted by his
mischances, Flinders, being anxious to complete the survey of the
continent, and to take the news of his discoveries to England, induced
King to place at his disposal the "Cumberland," a small craft of 30 tons
burden. Running short of provisions, and relying on his passport, he
sailed for the Mauritius, and was detained by the French Government
under suspicion of being a "spy." His charts and papers were never more
heard of, and poor Flinders was kept a prisoner for six years. "He was
at last liberated," says Jorgenson, "by the peremptory order of
Napoleon, and died on the 14th July, 1814, the very day that the
'account of a voyage to Terra Australis' was published."

Dr. Bass met with even a worse fate. That worthy, having completed his
survey of the "strait," returned home, but, being unable to rest
quietly, came out again as supercargo and part owner of the brig
"Venus," Captain Bishop, intending to trade in Sydney and Spanish
America. On his arrival at Sydney, Bishop went mad, and Bass, "who,
though a surgeon and physician, was a skilful navigator," took command
of the ship. He went to Valparaiso and endeavoured to "force a trade."
That is to say, "Either buy my goods or I storm the place." Such
amenities of commerce were not unusual in those days. The Spaniards
consented, but Bass and his crew being on shore, "relaxing from the
fatigues of the voyage," and drinking rum and lime juice, the wily
scoundrels seized the "Venus" and cargo, and, capturing Bass and his men
after a deperate resistance, sent them to the quicksilver mines, from
whence they never returned. I fancy that this little episode in the life
of the discoverer of "Bass's Straits" is but little known to the many
good folks who sail across them twice a year. There were some things
done in those days not unworthy of Salvation Yeo and the dogs of Devon.

Sydney was a tolerably strange place. It was a sort of South Sea city of
refuge, and the French war gave a good excuse for gallant gentlemen with
more blood than guineas to exchange the one for the other. The Spanish
coast was the great place for gold and glory, and many a sly privateer
of the "Venus" class sailed from Sydney harbour. Jorgenson mentions
two--a "Captain M'Clarence, of the brig 'Dart,'" who met with death or
the mines at Coquimbo; and "Captain Campbell, of the East India brig
'Harrington.'" Campbell, being in Sydney during the year 1803, got news
of the peace of Amiens. Being a calculating, long-headed fellow, he
guessed that a rupture would soon take place, and prepared to take
advantage of the temporary calm. Getting together a crew of desperadoes
like himself, he sailed for the Spanish-American coast. Entering the
wealthiest ports, he brought his guns to bear upon the town, and,
landing, sword in hand, at the head of his men, he plundered, burnt, and
ravished, despoiling "even the churches, and bringing back with him an
immense treasure." On his return to Sydney, however, contrary to his
expectation, news of war had not yet arrived, and, fearful of Governor
King's wrath, he buried his plunder in one of the many islands of the
straits. His fears were not unfounded. Stern old King--he was an
eccentric, homely, honest man--ordered the pirate and his officers into
arrest, where they remained for some time in fear and trembling. But
Campbell's shrewd Scot's head had not deceived him. When the English
news arrived, it was discovered that war had been already declared with
Spain, and "Captain Campbell" having but served his country, was
honourably set free.

It is not absolutely stated that the pirate dug his treasure up again.
If he did not, perhaps some lucky fellow may yet stumble upon it. But it
is more than probable that a good deal of it found its way into the
pockets of Sydney taverners. These gentry must have made large sums.
Owing to the frequent failure of supplies from England, provisions were
very dear. "It was no uncommon thing," says Jorgenson "to give ten
guineas for a gallon of rum. Tobacco was proportionately dear, and tea
was never under a guinea a pound. Money itself sympathised with the
general rise. The common penny pieces passed for two pence, and
halfpence for pence. A large quantity of copper was in consequence
brought out by the masters of vessels, who thus realised a profit of 100
per cent. The colony was ultimately most inconveniently overloaded with
copper money. It was worse than the days of Wood's halfpence, which Dean
Swift so ably put down; and Governor King, in like manner, was compelled
to put his veto on the further introduction of such money, and speedily
settled the point by reducing pence and halfpence to the proper value."

In 1803 the "Lady Nelson" set sail from Sydney with Captain Bowen, R.N.,
to form a settlement at the Derwent. "The late Dr. Mountgarrett and two
ladies," whose names Captain Jorgenson has still the pleasure to "enrol
among his friends," accompanied the expedition. They were disembarked on
the "north bank of the Derwent, at Risdon,"[*] and then went on to Port
Phillip, where Collins had endeavoured to form a settlement. During
their absence the station at Risdon was abandoned, and the tents pitched
on the present site of Hobart Town. Speedily tired of His Majesty's
service, erratic Jorgenson now took charge of a small vessel going on a
sealing voyage to New Zealand, and then shipped as chief officer of a
whaler. They sailed for the Derwent, and our author "can boast of having
stuck the first whale in that river." From the Derwent they went to New
Zealand, and, having cruised for some time in those seas, bore up for
London, having on board two New Zealanders and two Otaheitans, whom
Jorgenson introduced to Sir Joseph Banks. Sir Joseph took charge of
them, paid their expenses, and placed them under the care of the Rev.
Joseph Hardcastle, "in order that by initiating them in the truths of
the Christian religion they might be able to confer a similar boon on
their own countrymen." The poor fellows died in a twelvemonth.

[* Otherwise Restdown.]

Jorgenson now went back to Copenhagen, which he found bombarded by the
English, and, having seen his friends, was welcomed with great
rejoicings. He seems to have become quite a "lion," for next year (1807)
we find him in a position of some importance. By dint of stories about
the Australias and the Spanish main, he, like Mr. Oxenham, would appear
to have fired the hearts of the honest Copenhagen burghers. Old
Jorgenson and seven other merchants of Copenhagen, "touched with a
spirit of reprisal against the English," subscribed to purchase a small
vessel, armed with 28 guns, and presented her to the Crown. She was
armed, commissioned, and manned by the Government, and our hero placed
in command. Now begins a new epoch in his life. Our hero's vessel,
manned by 83 men, and carrying 28 guns, cut through the ice "a month
before it was expected that any vessel could get out," and, coming
unawares among the English traders, captured several ships.

Encouraged by this success, and relying on his knowledge of the coast,
Jorgenson stood over to England. His courage, however, outran his
prudence, and off Flamborough Head he came plump upon two sloops of war,
the "Sappho" and the "Clio." The former, commanded by Captain Longford,
instantly bore down upon him, and finding that flight was impossible,
the Danish privateer determined to put a bold face on it and give
battle. Notwithstanding that the "Sappho" had 120 men, he kept her at
bay for three-quarters of an hour, making shift to fire 17 broadsides.
At last, his powder being spent, and his "masts, rigging, and sails all
shot to pieces," he was compelled to surrender, and was taken in triumph
to Yarmouth. That the action was a pretty severe one, is confirmed by
the fact that Longford was made a post-captain for his "services" on the

It would appear that Jorgenson had, like a wise man, secured a retreat.
When at Copenhagen, the year before, he had "chanced to obtain an
interview" with a "public officer connected with the British Ministry,"
and this individual sent for him to London, where Jorgenson delicately
hints at an offer of secret service employment. Fairly established in
the city, and introduced to "several of the high official characters of
that eventful period," Jorgenson suggested a scheme for the relief of
Iceland. That island, being in the very midst of the Danish and English
combatants, came rather badly off. The inhabitants derived their means
of support chiefly from the export trade of wool and fish; and trade
being prohibited, and "British supplies" cut off by the Danish ships,
the place was in a state of famine. The miseries of the islanders had
attracted the attention of English merchants, who--doubtless with a
shrewd eye to the main chance--cast about for some daring fellow willing
to run the blockade. Jorgenson called upon his old acquaintance, Sir
Joseph Banks, and represented his own good qualities strongly.
Permission was obtained from the British Government to freight a ship
with provisions, and Jorgenson, taking the command, sailed from
Liverpool on the 29th of December.

Many predictions were made as to the failure of the expedition, the
danger being increased by inclement weather and the winter season.
Though the vessel was but 350 tons burden, the insurance cost the
benevolent speculators 1000 guineas, for, says Jorgenson, "the
enterprise was considered almost desperate," and it was held "madness to
attempt such a voyage, which from the high latitude of the country, must
necessarily be made at that season of the year almost in the dark." The
bold fellow, however, arrived in safety, and found "the hours of the
night brighter than those of the day, owing to the brilliant reflection
of the Northern Light." Finding that matters turned out well, he left
the provisions in charge of the supercargo, and hastened back to
Liverpool, in order to bring out another cargo.

He speedily loaded two vessels, one with flour and another with
provisions, and started again for the north. During his absence,
however, the governor, Count von Tramp, had issued a proclamation
prohibiting all communication with the English. It would seem that Count
von Tramp did not disdain to trade a little himself, for a Danish vessel
was in the habit of running small cargoes of rye, which were sold--as
Jorgenson hints, to the advantage of the authorities--at 40s. per 200

Here was a dilemma. The two vessels, anchored in the port with their
flour and provisions aboard, were ordered to go away again, full as they
came. Jorgenson, like "Captain Hiram Hudson," in Foul Play, "knew his
duty to his employers," and vowed he would land his cargo at all
hazards. He feigned submission, but the next day being Sunday, and the
"people at church"--good souls--he landed with twelve of his men, and,
making straight to the governor's residence, stationed six men at the
front, and six at the back, with orders to fire on any one who should
interrupt him. Then, with a brace of pistols in his belt, he walked into
the Count's chamber, and informed him that he might consider himself
deposed. The Count, "who was reposing on a sofa," made an attempt at
resistance, but, as there was no one in the house but the cook, one or
two domestics, and "a Danish lady," he was speedily overpowered, carried
down to the beach, and placed under hatches in Jorgenson's ship. The new
king lost no time in "securing the iron chest," and when the people came
out of church they found that a revolution had taken place.*

[* An amusing account of this transaction appeared, some years back, in
Household Words. It gives more particulars of the seizure of the Count
than I can find space for here.]

"I am not aware," says Jorgenson, "unless some more deep-read historian
than myself can cite an instance, that any revolution in the annals of
nations was ever more adroitly, more harmlessly, or more decisively
effected than this. The whole government of the island was changed in a
moment. I was well aware of the sentiments of the people before I
planned my scheme, and I knew I was safe."

The next day he issued a proclamation stating that the people, tired of
Danish oppression, had called him to the head of the Government. This
proclamation seemed to satisfy everybody. The few English on the island
imagined that Jorgenson had concerted the plot with the Icelanders, and
the Danes believed he was supported by the English Government. Having
thus secured his position, our hero issued laws, all "of course of a
popular description." He relieved the people of half the taxes,
ingeniously supplying their place by a duty levied on the "British
goods" which he had himself imported. He released all people from debts
due to the Crown of Denmark, compelled public defaulters to make up
deficiencies from their private estates, and advanced moneys for the
benefit of public schools and fisheries. He established trial by jury
and "free representative government," and with true judgment augumented
the salaries of the clergy. Some of these gentry had but 12 a year to
live upon, and, as the acute Jorgenson expected, "they were not wanting
in gratitude, for they all preached resignation and contentment under
the present order of things." Having thus provided for wants temporal
and spiritual, he erected a fort of six guns, raised a troop of cavalry,
and hoisted the ancient and independent flag of Iceland.

The inhabitants appeared to enjoy this novel condition of things, and
when the king made a tour of his dominions received him with
acclamations. Indeed, it was but prudent that they should do so, for one
contumacious fellow, a magistrate or head-man of one of the northern
villages, some 150 miles from Reykavig, refusing to do homage and
"surrender the iron chest," the monarch piled brushwood round his front
door and fired it, "upon which he immediately submitted." One advantage
in primitive government is--despatch. When at Liverpool, Jorgenson had
written to New York requesting that a ship might be sent to Iceland with
tobacco, and soon after his return to the capital he had the
satisfaction of seeing a vessel enter the harbour "with a valuable cargo
from New York," which cargo he received in exchange for his (taxed)
British manufactures. This commercial enterprise proving so successful,
Jorgenson, secure in his own impudence, resolved to visit London and
"enter into an amicable treaty with Great Britain in order to permit
vessels with British licenses to import grain," and set sail with a
fleet of two ships, one the vessel which had brought him from London,
and the other a Danish ship belonging to the deposed Von Tramp.

Unluckily, the Danish ship caught fire, and, though every effort was
made to save her, she burnt to the water's edge with all her cargo. "The
firing of the 10 guns, with the flames blazing along the shrouds and
sails, had," says the king, "a sublimely grand effect upon the water;
and when the hold and cargo took fire--the latter consisting of wool,
feathers, oil, tallow, and tar--the effect was truly grand, the copper
bottom continuing to float like an immense copper cauldron, long after
the shades of night had come on." Indeed, in that latitude and in those
seas, one might not have inaptly called to mind the celebrated story of
the old Viking and his floating funeral-pyre.

This accident compelled them to return to Iceland for provisions; and,
putting the passengers on board H.M. Talbot, then in harbour, Jorgenson
made all haste for Liverpool, which he reached in eight days. Fearing
that the representations of the English captain might do him injury, he
hurried up to London, and saw Sir Joseph Banks. That gentleman, however,
justly incensed at the extraordinary breach of trust of which his
privateer captain had been guilty, refused to have anything to do with
him, and, the "Talbot" having meanwhile got into port, the captain made
a statement of the "Iceland affair" to the Government. He said that King
Jorgenson had "established a republican government in Iceland, for the
purpose of making that island a nest for all the disaffected persons in
Europe," and added "that he was highly unqualified to hold the command
of a kingdom, because he had been an apprentice on board an English
collier, and had served as midshipman in an English ship of war."

Hearing of this statement, and fearing the consequences, the king went
into hiding for a week or so, but one day, while dining at the Spread
Eagle, in Gracechurch-street, he was arrested and taken before the Lord
Mayor, charged with being "an alien to an enemy, at large without the
king's license, and with having broken his parole." In vain he pleaded
that he was really acting in the interest of England; the Lord Mayor had
no taste for romance, and the poor king was put into Tothill Fields
prison, there to console himself by the recollections of other monarchs
who had been placed in similar positions. Had Voltaire been alive, he
might have given him a seat at the supper-table in Candide.

After five weeks in Tothill Fields, where he "met with persons the
effect of whose intimacy steeped his future life in misery"--notably
Count Dillon, then a political prisoner--he was removed to the hulk
appointed for the reception of Danish prisoners, and kept there for
nearly twelve months, at the end of which time he was permitted to
reside at Reading on his parole. Here he cultivated literary tastes, and
wrote a little work, entitled The Copenhagen Expedition Traced to other
Causes than the Treaty of Tilsit. I have no doubt he knew as much about
the subject as most people. After a ten months' residence at Reading, he
received a permission to return to London, and was "soon picked up by my
Tothill Fields acquaintance." How he lived at this epoch it is not
difficult to conjecture. He says himself, "I was thoroughly initiated
into all the horrors and enticements of the gaming-table." He appears to
have lived his fair share of life in Bohemia, being now rich, now poor,
now strolling in the parks, now lurking in a garret. At last, stripped
of every penny, "including a 16th share of a 20,000 prize in the State
lottery," he took his passage in a vessel bound for Lisbon. Even here
his ill fortune pursued him. Just before the vessel sailed, Bellingham
had assassinated Mr. Perceval in the lobby of the House of Commons, and
meddlesome Jorgenson must needs be the first to convey the intelligence
to the British Consulate. The Consul, however, disbelieved the story,
and, as Jorgenson could give no very good account of himself, sent him
back to England. Determined to go to Spain--doubtless, like Ancient
Pistol, with a view to the plunder obtainable at the seat of war--he
engaged as a mate of a merchant vessel, was discharged at Lisbon, passed
through the lines, and visited Madrid. Unable to keep from play,
however, he was again robbed of his gains, and, selling his clothes, and
retaining only a jacket and trousers, entered as seaman in a gunboat
which was "going home with the mail." Unluckily, the packet-boat hove in
sight, and took the mails, while the gunboat was sent to cruise off Cape
St. Vincent.

Here Jorgenson assisted in the capture of several privateers, and gained
promotion. On arriving at Gibraltar, he "malingered," and was placed in
the hospital, and finally invalided in the "Dromedary" (afterwards sent
as store and prison ship to Van Diemen's Land). Arriving at Ports-mouth
in 1813, he was placed on board the "Gladiator," 50 guns, stationed as
an invalid-hulk. The berthing of the invalids would not appear to be
conducive to their recovery. "Between 700 and 800 persons," says
Jorgenson, "were collected in this horribly pent-up place, which could
not have afforded moderate accommodation for half of them, even had they
been in good health. As it was, they were obliged to remain on deck and
below alternately night and day, a most trying vicissitude, which
occasioned the death of many." Jorgenson, not liking his position, wrote
a letter to the Admiral requesting to be allowed to go ashore. But, this
coming to the ears of the captain and the doctor, they were indignant,
the doctor vowing that the patient was "shamming," and the captain
swearing that he would "teach him to apply to the Admiral instead of to
him." Upon this Jorgenson reflected--the small vanity of the captain was
hurt at his authority being slighted. What would move one man would move
another. Jorgenson wrote to the Admiral apologising for his former
letter, and regretting that "he did not know that the captain was only
responsible to the Lords of the Admiralty and not to him." This touched
the Admiral on a sore point. He ordered the captain and the patient both
before him, and, to assert his dignity, dismissed Jorgenson and
reprimanded the captain.

Getting back to London, Jorgenson seems to have subsisted by writing for
patronage, and spying for the Government. In his leisure moments, he
wrote an account of the Icelandic revolution, which he presented to Sir
Joseph Banks. He seems to have become quite a "lion" among the curious
at this period. His "tempter," as he calls it, overtook him again, and,
going up to town, he "launched into extravagance," and soon became
little better than a sharper. He tells here a curious anccdote. Being
one day at a coffee-house in the Strand, he met Count Dillon, whose
acquaintance he had made in Tothill Fields prison. Dillon, thinking him
an "enemy of England," began to talk freely; and Jorgenson, always ready
to turn an honest penny, did not scruple to draw him out with a view to
giving information to the Government. Dillon told him of a plot then
concerted between the Americans and the French, "to send out an armed
expedition" to take possession of the Australias.

This idea originated from the reports given by Boudin, commodore of the
"Geographe" and the "Naturaliste," who had visited the colonies in 1801.
Jorgenson had met this adventurer in Sydney, but had at that time no
suspicions of his intentions. He recalls, however, that, "on the
occasion of his making an exploring tour into the interior of New South
Wales, I was induced to accompany him, and all his ambition was to
advance further than any Englishman had ever been before. We had
travelled about 100 miles from Sydney, and had ascended the Hawkesbury a
considerable way, some marked tree or remains of a temporary hut giving
constant indications that a European had been there at some former
period. I had become so impatient at his incessant reasons, thus
continually discovered, for penetrating further, with so futile an
object as that of returning to Paris and boasting that he had been where
no traveller had been before him, that, espying a large white rock
projecting from a little eminence, I ran forward, and, standing upon it,
called out to him with a show of exultation that that was the point
beyond which no white had been. Boudin then marched about 20 paces
further, and returned quite satisfied."

The expedition was to consist of two armed French and American vessels,
which, meeting at a certain rendezvous, were to sail together into the
South Seas, and "participate in the plunder of the colonies."
Immediately on hearing this, Jorgenson posted to the Colonial Office,
and laid his intelligence before "a gentleman high in office." The
information was, however, disregarded, the Government considering it a
"wild scheme," and unlikely to be carried into effect "while the whole
energies of Europe were drawn to a vortex in the Continental contest."
Jorgenson says, moreover, that the "gentleman" remarked that even should
the attempt be successful, England would lose little or nothing. "These
colonies are not worth keeping," said he, "for they already cost the
Government 100,000 a year!"

The expedition, however, sailed in 1813, but the two French ships, under
Count Dillon, were wrecked off Cadiz. The Americans proceeded, and
captured and burned 17 whalers. The deficiency thus created in the
London market sent sperm oil up to an enormous price. Upon this
circumstance, and the indifference of the British Government to the
smaller dependencies, Jorgenson remarks--"It is indeed much to be
regretted that the navigation, fisheries, and trade of these seas has so
long been looked over by the authorities at home. The immense
archipelago of the Pacific is studded with islands, and inhabited by
millions of friendly-disposed people, ready and anxious to exchange
their commodities for British manufactures. The benign influence of the
Christian religion, which is rapidly extending itself by the aid of our
gospel missionaries, is doing much to raise these people in the scale of
civilised society; and although the Americans are hourly taking
advantage of our comparative supineness, the approach of an English flag
is always, and we trust ever will be, hailed with superior satisfaction.
The pearl fishery is said to be more profitable and less hazardous than
that of the sperm whale, and the sandalwood and beche-de-la-mer, which
are produced so abundantly on the northern coasts of our New Holland,
are known to yield the Dutch, through the medium of the Malays, an
immense revenue. Nothing surprised Captain Flinders more, in the course
of his navigation of these countries, than the immense fleets of Malay
proas extensively engaged in this traffic which he met with in the Gulf
of Carpentaria."

Just at this time, the adviser of the Government was arrested and sent
to the Fleet for two years, and, when the intelligence of the
destruction of the British whaling ships was brought, did not fail to
remind His Majesty's Ministers of the service he had rendered. He was
supplied with money to pay his debts; but so inveterate was his passion
for the gaming-table, that, instead of discharging his liabilities, he
went to a hazard-table and lost every penny.

Being now securely locked up, without hope of release, Jorgenson "amused
himself" by writing histories, pamphlets, and stories. Sending these,
"neatly written in manuscript," to several persons of rank, he made
enough money to live upon, and too little to allow him to gamble. He
enjoyed the "liberties of the Fleet," and became a sort of "patron," a
Danish Dorrit, a "father of his people." This Arcadian life, however,
was somewhat strangely interrupted. One day he was sent for from the
Foreign Office, and "had the pleasure to be engaged on a foreign mission
to the seat of war;" in other words, he took service as a "spy."

Amply supplied with money for his present expenses, and provided with an
order to "draw on London" for any funds he might require while
travelling, it would appear that Jorgenson at last had fallen on good
days. He had a "career," such as it was, before him, and could have at
once left London and the Fleet Prison with credit. His propensity for
gambling was, however, too much for him, and, instead of going to Dover,
he went to a "silver-hell," and lost, not only his money, but the very
clothes he had provided for his journey.

Totally destitute of the means of living, and ashamed to apply to "the
gentleman in the Foreign Office" who had given him his place, and who
naturally concluded that his protg was already in Paris, our poor hero
was at his wits' end. But, with a determination and impudence worthy of
Lazarillo de Tormes or the more famous Gil Blas of Santillane, Jorgenson
resolved to seize his chance of advancement with his naked hands.
Repairing to the friend of debtors, vagabonds, thieves, and
adventurers--the old-clothes man, that great "dresser" for the Beggar's
Opera--he exchanged his only suit for a sailor's jacket and trousers,
walked to Gravesend, and embarked on board a transport bound for Ostend.
At Ostend he met an officer who knew him, and testified to his identity,
and an "order" on the Foreign Office was cashed without difficulty. Of
his business on the Continent our friend speaks little, as becomes him.
He says vaguely that he was "sent to ascertain what effect the
subjugation of Napoleon was likely to have on British Commerce," but, as
he arrived in Ghent some weeks before the Battle of Waterloo, his
explanation is not as satisfactory as it might be, and, though we admire
his delicacy, we can but regret his reticence. He was at Brussels when
the celebrated stampede took place, and may have witnessed Mrs.
Crawley's triumph and Jos. Sedley's flight (relict non bene
parmul--his moustache ingloriously left behind). He was a "silent
spectator of the three days," and, wandering over the field of Waterloo
after the battle, may perhaps have seen M. Thnardier (like Diogenes
with his lantern), seeking for a man honest enough to be worth robbing.
How the father of Eponine, and the saviour of the Baron Pontmercy would
have fraternised with such a comrade!

The life of a spy in those days was not an unpleasant one. Jorgenson
went to Paris with the stream, and found that "the business he had to
perform brought him in contact with several celebrated names of that
day," and in particular he had "the pleasure to form an acquaintance
with a French general, a great favourite of Bonaparte, and now a marshal
of France," and, being liberally supplied with money by his employers,
enjoyed himself much. Paris at that time was a kaleidoscope of
uniforms--Germans, English, French, and Russians, all fraternised and
fought. Jorgenson had for six months ample opportunities to study human
nature. He could attend the balls of Madame Roni (ne Rooney); comment
on the conduct of Captain Gronow's ferocious duellist; gaze at a
distance on Madame Firmiani; or lend the natural vigour of his arm to
the assistance of Arthur O'Leary, Esq., beleagured in the gaming-house
of the Palais Royal. This last conjecture is not without foundation. He
rushed to the gambling-houses with eagerness, and played with
desperation. Mr. Blunt (the friend of Mr. Sala) did not beggar himself
with greater bonhomie. Notwithstanding that he was ordered on a special
mission to Warsaw, he played until he had nothing to sell but his shirt,
and, disposing of that garment for seven francs to a sergeant, he
buttoned up his coat, and, leaving Paris by the east gate, set out along
the north road on foot.

It was the month of December, and bitterly cold. Arriving at Joncherie,
one hundred and twenty miles from the capital, Jorgenson found himself
worn out with fatigue and reduced to the last sou of the seven francs.
He dare not draw upon the F. O. until he reached Poland, and knew no one
on the road. Rendered desperate by circumstances, he did just exactly
what little Con Cregan did in Dublin--walked boldly into the best hotel,
and ordered the best dinner they could give him. The hotel was a cabaret
of mean pretensions, and the dinner bacon and eggs. Jorgenson turned up
his nose with the air of a prince, and determined to make the best of
it. As he was very hungry, this was not so difficult. Meanwhile the news
of the illustrious stranger in the buttoned-up coat had gone the rounds
of the village, and the mayor called to see the stranger's passport. In
the course of a lofty conversation with the host, Jorgenson had learned
that the mayor was "Bourbonniste," and, in pulling his passport from his
pocket, pulled with it a letter from the Duchess d'Angoulme. The mayor
picked it up. "Ha!--oh, a letter!--see!" "From my friend the Duchess
d'Angoulme." "Thirty thousand pardons, Monsieur," cries the polite
mayor, "but we officials have our duties, you know." Jorgenson finished
the bacon, and graciously forgave the impertinence of M. le Maire's
inquiries. He was an Irishman going to the Holy Land--poor, like many of
his countrymen, but of excellent family, like all of them. "Then," cries
the mayor, "you must see our Baroness D'Este, who will be most glad to
receive any person going on such a mission!" Jorgenson visited the
baroness--some pious woman without much brains--and not only talked her
into paying his expenses at the inn, but got from her several coins to
deposit, with her blessing, at the sacred shrine. With this aid, our
adventurer contrived to get as far as Rheims, and there resolved to make
a bold stroke for fortune. "The politics of this ancient city," says he,
"were of a very opposite description from those of my last resting
place." The prefect was a zealous Bonapartist, and Jorgenson, who, like
St. Paul, seems to have been "all things to all men," avowed himself a
zealous adherent of that banished potentate, and further informed the
perfect of a plot formed by the English to rob the commissariat. The
plot was not discovered, but the letter procured a personal interview,
and the perfect was so charmed with the stranger that he not only gave
him a supply of money, but a fine horse, and a "billet," which entitled
him to a certain sum per mile to defray expenses. Armed with these
useful evidences of the prefect's political sentiments, Jorgenson
reached Frankfort in twenty-two days--not without adventures. At Metz
the mayor could not speak French, and refused to assist the traveller.
"Though," remarks Jorgenson; with a degree of self-complacency only
equalled by that of the bashful Plumper, "I have always found it an
up-hill sort of thing for myself to get over, I have found almost on all
occasions, both in the old world and the new, that a certain degree of
'modest' assurance was a great help to a man in getting through life."
Acting on this notion, he put the "billet" (written in French) into the
surly mayor's hand, and remarked with a low bow, "You will see, sir, by
that document with what you are to supply me." The excellent man, rather
than admit his inability to read, at once gave the modestly-assured
Jorgenson all he wished. Another mayor, however, received a specimen of
what Frank Smedley called "Oaklands' quiet manner." He refused to do
anything, and told the bearer of the "billet" that he was "a lazy
vagabond." Jorgenson, whose Icelandic experiences had taught him to
mingle the fortiter in re with the suaviter in modo, promptly knocked
him down, seized a horse, and galloped off amid a demonstration of
pitchforks from the inhabitants.

Arrived in Frankfort in a storm of rain, he began to wonder how he
should get on, and, meeting an apparently charitable Jew, told him his
story. The Jew, however, remarked that he had taken him for a rich
Polish merchant, and, waggishly laying a finger along his nose,
departed. The recollection of his good fortune at Joncherie now came
upon Jorgenson, and, "entering a good inn," he ordered "a sumptuous
meal, and went to bed." In the morning he sent for the landlord, told
him that he had no money, but expected some in the course of the day,
and that if he would permit him to go out he would leave his "waistcoat"
as security. The landlord accepted, and, once more buttoned up,
Jorgenson roamed the town in hopes of meeting with a friend. But
Frankfort was large, and friends were few and far between. From the
scanning the faces of passers-by, he at last took, like Balzac, to
studying shop-fronts, and, also like Balzac, was at last rewarded by a
name which "embodied his idea." This name, however, was not Z. Marcas,
but Fraser, and its owner was not a cobbler, but a watchmaker. In goes
Jorgenson. "Good morning. My name is Jorgenson; that chronometer there
was made by my father in Denmark." The honest Fraser looked. Sure enough
it was so. A conversation began which ended by the watchmaker taking the
waistcoatless son of his fellow tradesman to the house of Lord
Clancarty, the British Minister. Jorgenson sent in his name, "on secret
service." The servants stared at his shabby attire. What if he were come
to murder His Lordship! His fate hung in the balance, when a side door
opened and "a gentleman attached to the Foreign Office" came out, like
Horace's god of the go-cart, and recognised him. All was now put right.
He was supplied with money, redeemed his waistcoat, and paid for his

Mr. Fraser, who seems to have been a man of intelligence and position,
gave him a letter to the secretary of the Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt, and
on presenting it Jorgenson had "some interesting conversation with His
Highness with regard to what I had seen in these colonies" (Tasmania and
New South Wales), and spent some time in admiring the ducal gallery of
paintings. When he took his departure the Duke made him a handsome
present. Encouraged by these compliments, Jorgenson began to take his
proper position, and travelled in a carriage to Berlin, calling on all
the celebrities as he passed. He was mistaken by some for an English
milord. At Saxe-Weimar he was introduced to Goethe. "I saw him in the
library of the Duke--a magnificent collection of books, containing
upwards of 700,000 volumes. Goethe was a member of the privy council, as
well as filling the office of librarian to the Duke, a situation more
congenial to his literary habits. Though upwards of seventy, he was full
of life and spirits. He wore the dress of a privy councillor, a blue
coat with gold facings. He was stout and portly in appearance, rather
tall, with hazel eyes, remarkably heavy eyebrows, and dark complexion."

At Leipsic our adventurer surveyed the battle-field, and, like a
premature Childe Harold, moralised there. In Berlin, the British
Minister afforded him "every assistance," and there is little doubt that
he held a position of some confidence as a secret agent. He visited
Niebhur and Bernstoff (the latter being Minister of Foreign Affairs),
and appears to have been on terms of acquaintanceship with Prince (then
Count) Puckler Muskau. He gives an entertaining description of the
Prince's ascent in a balloon, in company with "a female aronaut, to
whom he presented 500 crowns." He played cards with Marshal Blucher, and
had the entre to good society. Unluckily, his passion for gambling
again beset him, and ultimately proved his ruin. So enthralled was he by
the gaming-table that he never set out for Warsaw at all, but, forming
an acquaintance with some Poles, "collected from them such information
as it was my duty to obtain," and actually wrote several despatches,
dated Warsaw, embodying the intelligence thus received.

At last, in November, 1816, he got as far as Dresden, and there his ruin
was completely effected. In two days all his money was swallowed up by a
"set of sharpers." His false despatches were detected, and, in debt and
disgrace, he determined to retrace his steps to London. His creditors
pressing him, he was compelled to leave without a passport, and thus had
to "dodge" his way to the seaboard. One instance which he relates will
serve as an example of the tricks to which he resorted. One night the
gatekeeper at the gate of a small fortified town refused to let him
pass. He was cold, hungry, and in despair. The noise of the altercation
brought out the gatekeeper's wife. The sex adore three things--charity,
mystery, and finery. Jorgenson beckoned her aside, and, begging her to
intercede in his behalf, pulled from his pocket two silk handkerchiefs,
gave her one, and avowed himself a smuggler expecting hourly the arrival
of his cart from the frontier. The gatekeeper's wife was mortal, and the
gatekeeper was uxorious. The smuggler was asked in to supper, passed a
pleasant night, and after a hearty breakfast went out to look after his
cart, and "so proceeded on his journey." When he got to London he was
paid for his services, and resolved with the money thus acquired to
emigrate to Spanish America, the natural home of adventurers like
himself. But, "venturing a small stake" in the hope of adding to the
small store he had already with him, he soon lost every penny, and for
the next three years of his life was engaged in a "continual whirl of
misery and disappointment at the gaming-table."

At last, having sunk lower and lower, he seems to have become something
little better than a copper-captain, the swashbuckling bully of the
gaming-house. In the year 1820 he was arrested for pawning certain
articles of bed-furniture belonging to his landlady in Tottenham Court
road, and was sentenced to seven years' transportation. Pending the
execution of his sentence, he was placed under the surgeon of Newgate,
Mr. Box, as assistant in the hospital. Here he made desperate efforts to
get his sentence commuted, and at last succeeded. Permitted, doubtless
through the influence of his former employers, to retain his post as
dispenser, for nearly two years, Jorgenson conducted himself with
propriety; and getting "favourable notice" from the sheriffs, his case
was more minutely inquired into, and it being found that the articles
for the theft of which he had been sentenced were pawned in the name of
one of his fellow-lodgers, he received his pardon, on condition that he
should quit the kingdom within a month from the day of his liberation.
Unfortunately, however, having a considerable sum in his pockets, the
savings of his "gratuities," he again sought the gaming-table, and in
the excitement of play overstayed his leave. At last, being several
weeks over his allotted time, he resolved to ship on board a man-of-war,
and was on his way to the tender in the river, when he fell in with an
old acquaintance on Tower Hill, who asked him to dinner. This jolly
companion had been Jorgenson's predecessor as "assistant" in Newgate,
and, hearing that he had "outstayed his time," brought in the police,
and handed his guest over to the law he had outraged. Jorgenson calls
this betrayer of social confidence a "scoundrel," and there are few who
will not heartily endorse his opinion. He was tried and sentenced to
transportation for life, and though three years in his former situation
in the hospital--during which time he revised the account of his
Continental tour, and wrote a religious work, The Religion of Christ the
Religion of Nature--he was at last sent out to Van Diemen's Land in the
"Woodman," which "sailed from Sheerness with 150 convicts and a
detachment of military," with their wives and children, in November,

Some of his experiences of Newgate are curious, as examples of convict
discipline of that epoch. He says that "cards were often smuggled in,"
and that "as there is a standing rule against the admission of any
female, unless a prisoner's wife, the majority of prisoners declare
themselves married in order to obtain interviews with their former
associates." This declaration is, of course, recorded in the books of
the gaol, and transmitted in the lists sent to the convict settlement.
The trials were conducted with indecent rapidity, and it was a common
thing for prisoners to plead guilty "in order to save time." "I well
remember," says Jorgenson, "one day when five men were arraigned at the
bar, the four most guilty of whom, being asked their plea by the court,
answered promptly, and with much seem iny contrition, 'Guilty, my Lord,'
and were sentenced to a few months' imprisonment, while the fifth,
sensible of his comparative innocence, pleaded 'Not guilty,' occupied
the time of the court with his defence for three-quarters of an hour,
and was sentenced to seven years' transportation."

Capital punishment was frequent, and apparently but little feared. A man
named Madden, under sentence of death, "malingered" for hospital
comforts in his last moments. "He had fallen fast asleep one evening,
when the sheriff came about eleven o'clock to announce to him the awful
news that he was to be hanged next Monday morning. The poor creature,
raising himself in his bed, and thinking, I verily believe, more of the
respect that was due to the sheriff than of his own dreadful situation,
touched respectfully with his hand a little tuft of hair that stuck out
on his brow from under his nightcap, in lieu of his hat, and, bending
his head, merely said, 'Very well, gentlemen,' then, laying himself down
again, and throwing the blankets over his shoulders, was asleep and
actually snoring in five minutes." At the same time, he mentions the
case of an old man who was under sentence, and whose wife, being in the
most destitute condition, often came to the prison vowing that he had
money, and begging him to give her some--"if it was but a single
sixpence." The miser refused, and "actually went to the gallows, and was
hanged, with nine sovereigns in his trousers pocket." Jorgenson speaks
highly of Dr. Box, and cites, in support of his assertion of that
gentleman's probity, a story to the effect that a gentleman of good
family was condemned to death, and, as by his decease his relatives
would lose a valuable lease of certain Crown lands, his two sons offered
Box a bribe of 4000 to declare their father insane. Box would not
accept the bribe, but pledged himself to secresy, and two "eminent
physicians" being less scrupulous, the prisoner escaped. He tells also a
very strange story of a clerk in the Transfer Office of the Bank of
England, who, being committed for forgery, attempted to escape through
the window of a third storey, but fell, and broke his jaw-bone, his
hip-bone, and one of his arms. The case was clear, but the accident
caused a postponement of the trial until the next sessions, and the
prisoner, being then brought into court, "carried on a litter and
bandaged all round," was again remanded. In the meantime, his friends
set vigorously to work, and, by dint of high bribery, suborned
witnesses, and destroyed vouchers, got an acquittal.

Jorgenson gives as his opinion that convicts were in great terror of
"transportation," and regarded it in many instances as a punishment
worse than death. "I have known," says he, "several who would have
looked upon death as less severe than being torn from their old friends
and associates. The very remoteness of the scene, and the uncertainty
(not-withstanding every representation) of the fate they are to meet
with, affects them with a species of horror inconceivable to those who
have not been similarly situated...The idea of reforming a person
who has been convicted of never so small an offence at home seems never
to be entertained . . . When in gaol, it is a common boast among
themselves, and a spirit of emulation exists among them to show who has
committed the most numerous and most daring offences, from which they
derive a sort of consequence over each other."

Previous to his removal on board the "Woodman," he was placed in the
"Justitia" hulk, stationed off Woolwich, and did not appear to like his
situation. The hulks were hot-beds of infamy and blackguardism. The
authority possessed by the officers was often abused, and the most
vicious of the criminal class, herded together without proper
superintendence, committed the most abominable crimes with comparative
impunity. Jorgenson speaks bitterly of his sufferings; and, admitting
that it is possible that he may exaggerate, one cannot but agree with
him when he characterises the English galleys of that time as "schools
of abominable pollution," and avers that "those who have been discharged
from them have over-run England, and everywhere spread vice and
immorality." On board the prison-ships things were but little better.
"Each prisoner was supplied with new clothing of the coarsest
description," and each, without exception, had a pair of double-irons
placed on his legs . . . Swearing, cursing, wrangling, lamentations, and
tears deafened all within hearing, and it appeared as if ten thousand
demons had been let loose . . . By daylight or dark, they (the
prisoners) did not scruple to steal all that came in their way, boxes
and parcels of tea and sugar were torn from those who possessed any, and
in case of resistance life was endangered...Those who were most
daring and active in these exploits were looked up to with a great deal
of respect by their less hardened fellow convicts...The thieves
easily found receivers, as wearing apparel and other things were sold to
the soldiers and their wives, and the sailors in the half-deck." The
surgeon-superintendent is described as a good-hearted man, as is also
Mr. Leary, a lieutenant in the navy, who commanded the vessel.
Jorgenson's description of the voyage is somewhat minute, but too
lengthy to quote here. Once fairly in blue water, the irons were knocked
off, and the prisoners sent up on deck in gangs. In the tropics four
died of fever, and several were placed in hospital. This
"fever"--probably "ship fever"--carried off the surgeon himself, and the
"Woodman" was obliged to make the Cape, and take another surgeon on
board. Fortunately, the disease did not spread in colder latitudes; they
arrived safely at Hobart Town on the 5th May, 1826; and Jorgenson
"remembered sadly," as he contemplated the rising city, that
"twenty-three years before he had assisted in forming Risdon, the first
settlement in the island."

The morning after the "Woodman" arrived in Hobart Town, the usual muster
of prisoners took place.

The convicts in their prison clothes were landed and marched up to the
prisoners' barracks, where they were inspected by the Governor, Colonel
Arthur, and in due course "assigned" or sentenced to such further
imprisonment as their conduct during the voyage had rendered desirable.
Jorgenson had "letters of recommendation" from two of the directors of
the Van Diemen's Land Company to their principal agent, Mr. Edward Curr.
Unluckily, however, our hero had been enthralled by the representations
of a Mr. Rolla O'Farrell, "a gentleman of fashionable appearance, who
spoke a little French," and had made application to be placed in his
office on Government service. This application was granted, and
Jorgenson found that he had committed a great error, the Government pay
being small and the work arduous. "A prisoner clerk," he says, "received
only 6d. a day and 1d. for rations; the former paid quarterly, and the
latter every month."

He had hoped that the Government would have extended some mercy towards
him, not only on account of his period of imprisonment in Newgate, but
because of his services on board the "Woodman." But he was disappointed.
Strange rumours concerning him were afloat. Some said he was a political
pamphleteer, imprisoned for having written against the Government;
others, that he had been a political spy, employed against the British
Crown. Those reports Jorgenson stigmatises as "devoid of truth," adding,
with some tolerable degree of that modest self-assurance which he
alleges is so needful to success in life, that "a system of espionage is
of so abominable a character, that no man possessed of the least
particle of honour would engage in it."

At last there was found for him an employment more suited to his
ambition than that of copying letters in a Government office. A party
having been formed to explore the company's land, and to trace a road
from the River Shannon to Circular Head, he was placed in command. It
was the early part of September, and the rivers were much swollen with
recent heavy rains. Each man had with him six weeks' provisions, slung
swagwise on his back (no small weight to carry), and the journey was
most laborious. The settlers, however, received them with much kindness,
and until their arrival at the Big Lake, north-west of the ford of the
Shannon, they got on well enough. At the River Ouse, which runs parallel
with the Big Lake, however, their difficulties commenced. No ford was to
be found, and for more than thirty miles Jorgenson followed the course
of the stream, searching in vain for a crossing-place. Being now nearly
fifty years of age, and in nowise re-invigorated by his travels and
dissipations, Jorgenson was becoming knocked up, and meditated a
retreat. Reaching, however, a "cataract pouring down between
perpendicular and impracticable rocks," the party were brought to a ford
by the accident of their dogs pursuing a kangaroo, which "led them
through an opening" in the cliffs. They crossed the river some miles
further down, but, the provisions being nearly expended, were compelled
to fall back to Dr. Ross's farm, situated on the confluence of the Ouse
and Shannon. From this place Jorgenson despatched a man to Hobart Town,
with letters for Mr. Curr, and himself explored the country round,
"armed with a ponderous sword given him by Dr. Ross."

The messenger having returned after an absence of some weeks, the
adventurers made another more successful attempt to pursue their
journey. Retracing their steps they penetrated to the source of the
Derwent, and ascending the mountains--foot-deep with snow--had hopes of
reaching Circular Head, when the desperate nature of the country again
barred their progress. The hills were rifted with chasms, and gored with
caons and ravines. It was impossible to go on, and the floods which had
risen since their setting forth forbade them to go back. Provisions fell
short, and death stared them in the face. In this plight Jorgenson
avowed his ability to lead his companions to a stock-hut, and to his
astonishment succeeded in doing so. Descending from the hills and
keeping between the river-beds, the party found themselves in a country
of a different aspect, and traversing some broad cattle-tracks leading
down a series of gentle slopes, arrived at the banks of Lake Echo. A
distinct view of the Table Mountain on the Clyde now cheered their
spirits, and by the afternoon of the next day they reached "a

The stockmen, observing the tattered clothes, long beards, and
portentous firearms of the travellers, took them for bushrangers; and
until Jorgenson produced his maps, compass, journal, and letters from
Curr, refused to give them shelter. Bushrangers swarmed at that time in
the country districts, and the fear of the good folks was not without
warrant. Jorgenson's good fortune--now bringing him in contact with a
scholar, and now with a "shipmate"--protected him until he reached
Hobart Town. It was lucky indeed that he had not succeeded in making
Circular Head, for the provisions which were to have been buried there
had missed carriage, and had the explorers reached the Bluff they must
all have died of starvation.

In the early part of January, 1827, he was again employed by the company
on a like service. It was decided to send a party along the western
coast of the island from Circular Head to the Shannon. Proceeding to
Circular Head, Jorgenson did good service in "talking over" some of the
most dissatisfied of the convicts--a mutiny had just been put down by
force of arms--and with three others, including Mr. Lorymer, one of the
company's surveyors, set out from Cape Cameron to Pieman's River. This
expedition was a more disastrous one than the first. The coast was
barren and flinty. In various resting-places on their weary journey they
fell in with wrecks of beached vessels--melancholy memorials of former
visitors. The sand-hills rivalled those of Jutland--"in one place," says
Jorgenson, "a mountain of sand had been reared which, after ascending
with great difficulty, measured on the top seven miles in length."
Timber was scarce--it was even difficult to find a cross-pole for their
tent. Climbing at last with immense toil the almost perpendicular banks
of Pieman's River, a scene of appalling desolation burst upon them. "It
was as though some mighty convulsion had rent the earth asunder, and
sported with trees of enormous length and circumference, tearing them up
by the roots--trees nearly coeval with centuries back." Beyond this wild
stretch of mountain land towered the Frenchman's Cap and the Traveller's
Guide, the two landmarks of that dreary spot, Macquarie Harbour.
Descending the gullies, with the hope of finding a road through what
seemed to be a huge plain stretching away to the westward, they found
themselves in a desert of six-wire scrub, so dense that they could not
cut their way through it quicker than at the rate of 200 yards a-day.
This was the "desert" where so many runaways from "Hell's Gates"
settlement had been lost; and Jorgenson, finding that his two best dogs
had died from hunger, and that the provisions were reduced to two bags
of flour, determined to retreat to Circular Head.

Arriving at Cape Camberon, danger thickens upon them. They could not
find water. They were nearly swallowed by the quick-sands on the
seashore. They made a raft, and poor Lorymer was drowned in attempting
to cross the Duck River. Wet, exhausted, and fainting from want of food,
the three survivors at last came upon "the tail of a dog-fish, at which
the crows and gulls were greedily picking," and saw in this "savoury
morsel a new lease of life." Concealing their firearms in the scrub, and
flinging away all unnecessary burden of accoutrements, they pushed on
with the energy of desperation, and at last reached Circular Head in
safety. Jorgenson lay between life and death for four days, and at last
recovered. This was his last expedition on the part of the Van Diemen's
Land Company. Arrived at Hobart Town once more, he received his
ticket-ofleave, and occupied himself in assisting in editing a colonial
newspaper, "being glad," he says, "to employ myself in any way in which
I could obtain an honest subsistence." He did not long fill the
editorial chair, finding the "proprietor of the paper" not at all to his
taste. This worthy man, it appears, "kept him starving," and also, after
a fashion which has been found uncongenial to men of letters in every
age, "insisted that every one in the house should attend prayers three
times a day, and as these prayers were unusually long, and delivered in
a tone and dialect extremely disagreeable," Jorgenson was "glad to get
rid of the connection."

A new field for enterprise awaited him. As I have already stated in a
previous article, the country at that time (1827-29) was infested with
desperadoes, who, escaped from the various prison gangs on the island,
had taken to the bush. The most daring robberies were committed in open
day, and the authorities set completely at defiance. The day before
Jorgenson had reached Dr. Ross's house on the occasion of his first
expedition to the Big Lake, the place had been "visited by Dunn," a
notorious ruffian, whose name yet lives in prison story. This gentleman
was a mate of the more infamous wretch Brady, and was the terror of the
district. He is reported to have shot down alike aborigines and
settlers. Mr. Bonwick, in his Bushrangers, tells how he cut off the head
of a native and tied it round the neck of a lubra as a token of esteem;
on this occasion he merely made one of the stockmen tie up the other
two, and then fry him some chops.

He was caught and hung, not long after; and the compiler of the
Bushrangers states that he appeared on the scaffold in "a long white
muslin robe, with a huge black cross marked thereon before and behind."
Such monsters as these were numerous, and a formidable gang, consisting
of upwards of sixty in different parts of the colony, acted in concert,
in stealing sheep, cattle, and horses. The Government had determined to
put down these villains with a strong hand. Up to that time it had been
the custom to punish with death all captured runaways, but it was found
that such policy did not answer. It was resolved to offer pardon to
approves, and the instant this was done crime began to decrease. When a
man had no chance of escape from the gallows whatever he confessed, he
not unwisely held his tongue and confessed nothing; but when hope of
mercy was held out, many betrayed their associates. As go-betweens of
the Crown and the convict, some few daring and trusted agents were
employed, and Jorgenson was chosen one of these. Given a letter from the
Colonial Secretary to Mr. Thomas Anstey, of Anstey Barton, police
magistrate in the Oatlands district, he proceeded to that gentleman's
house, and was soon installed as constable of the field police and
assistant-constable to the police-magistrate. His duties were arduous.
The circumference of the Oatlands district alone is more than 150 miles,
and "bushrangers harassing the settlers, and the hostile aboriginal
tribes committing many murders and depredations, the situation of a
constable was not without its difficulties and dangers." Jorgenson was
obliged to visit all the farms and stock-huts in the districts of
Oatlands, Clyde, Campbell Town, the great and little Swan ports, and
sometimes the Richmond district, and slept out among such suggestive
names as those of "Murderer's Plains," "Murderer's Tier," "Deadman's
Point," "Killman's Point," "Hell's Corner," "Four-square Gallows,"
"Dunn's Look-out," "Brady's Look-out," and the like.

After two years of this life, during which he several times narrowly
escaped death from bullet or starvation, Jorgenson took part in the
celebrated war of extermination against the blacks. The aboriginals had
for a long time harassed the settlers, reprisals took place, and a
mutual distrust was engendered. At this time things had arrived at the
pass that natives speared white men wherever they found them, and white
men shot down natives wholesale in return. In the year 1827, 121
outrages by natives were committed in the Oatlands district alone, and
no less than 28 inquests were held by one coroner on the bodies of
people murdered by aboriginals. As an instance of the sort of amusement
that had been going on for the previous eight years, Jorgenson cites an
official report made by a settler named Robert Jones, "residing at
Pleasant Place, near Poole's Marsh, on the River Jordan, in the district
of the Upper Clyde." This report gives so vivid a picture of "squatting"
life at that period of Tasmanian history that I proceed to quote it
nearly at length. "On the evening of the 17th and 18th day of March, in
the year 1819," says Mr. Jones, "I resided in a stock-hut under a stony
sugar-loaf, about two miles to the westward of the Macquarie River, then
called the Relief River. There were three inmates, of whom one went out
on the Relief Plains to look after the sheep. Towards the evening this
man came running to the hut, seemingly in a very exhausted state. He
said that the natives were spearing the sheep on the plains, and when
they saw him they pursued him until he came in sight of the hut. We
seized our firearms, consisting of two muskets, and went in pursuit, but
they were in so bad a state as to be almost useless. After proceeding
about 200 yards, we observed several natives lurking behind the trees.
We attempted to get up with them, but they ran up into a high tier,
where they were joined by a great number of others. They did not offer
to disperse, but on the contrary, some of the most daring came up to us
quivering their spears and making a hideous noise. We presented our
pieces with an idea of frightening them, but they heeded us not; and
what was worse, the man who carried the ammunition had unfortunately
lost it. We now commenced our retreat, in which we found little
difficulty, as it was by this time quite dark.

"The following morning, at dawn of day, I went down on the plains, about
a quarter of a mile from the hut; I heard a kind of gibberish, and on
looking round I saw a great number going towards the hut. I might have
made my escape, for they seemed to take no notice of me; however, I ran
with all speed to the hut, for I guessed it to be their intention to set
fire to it, which might have been easily accomplished, as the inmates
were still in bed. I succeeded in rousing them, and we prepared
ourselves against an attack. They made a most formidable appearance;
some were making along a valley at the back of the hut with lighted bark
in their hands, whilst a far greater number took up a position on the
side of the hill, whence they could safely throw spears, waddies, and
stones at us. They now gave a great shout, and commenced operations, so
we were obliged to take shelter under the far end of the hut. They
continued to assail us for a length of time; and finding that our pieces
would not go off, they made signs for us to quit the place, which we
were unwilling to do. I could perceive, as they approached closer, that
they were smeared all over with red ochre; and I have since been
informed, that when so daubed it is a sure sign of hostile
determination. The whole strength of the tribe present could not have
been less than 200 in number. I observed one of a portly stature, who
appeared to stand six feet in height. He was smeared all over with red
ochre, carrying a spear of peculiar make, different to those of the
rest, and much longer; he had no other sort of weapon, and even of that
he made no use; he stood aloof from the rest and issued his orders with
great calmness, and was implicitly obeyed. They now formed themselves
into a half-moon ring, and attacked us with great vigour. We placed
ourselves in the best posture of defence that we could. One of our men
stood at the door of the hut with a waddy in his hand, while myself and
the third man armed ourselves with shovels, and, in a state of
desperation almost, attacked the two wings. This made a momentary
impression on them, and they retreated up the hill, being closely
pursued by us. On a sudden they made a halt, and again commenced darting
their spears, waddies, and stones; one of our men received a spear-wound
on the shin-bone. We endeavoured to ward off their spears, thinking they
would at last be expended. They now rushed down in a most furious
manner, so we were obliged to make our retreat towards the plains,
having first secured our fire-arms. We ran down a small valley, with a
small rise on each side. I observed a wild cow running with a spear in
her, and several kangaroo-dogs were also speared. We were now completely
surrounded, and in a very disadvantageous situation. We were obliged to
stop; I received three spear-wounds at the same moment; one through my
right cheek, another through the muscle of my right arm, and a third in
my right side. I endeavoured to pull out the spears, but could not
succeed, and one of my comrades came to my assistance. This man himself
now received a spear wound in the back, whilst the third, who was as
much exposed as we were, escaped unhurt. I bled most profusely. We kept
snapping our pieces, but to no purpose; our caps were knocked off
several times, our trousers were full of spear-holes, and the blacks now
came rushing down within a few yards with uplifted waddies to knock out
our brains. We had now been engaged about six or seven hours, and were
greatly exhausted; I stood in utter stupefaction, and we gave up all
hopes of escape. At that moment a most fortunate accident occurred,
which I have ever considered as an act of Providence. One of the pieces,
which would not for a length of time go off, now happily did execution,
and the chief, the portly man spoken of above, received a ball, which
killed him on the spot. The natives gave way on all sides; they
endeavoured to make the chief stand on his legs, made a frightful noise,
looked up to heaven, and smote their breasts. With the help of my
comrades we made towards the plains, but about forty blacks, forming
themselves into two divisions, pursued us until we reached them, when
they abandoned further pursuit. A man now came up with a gun in his
hand, who asked us what was the matter. He conducted us to a fire by the
river-side, and gave us some warm tea. I became very faint; my comrades
disincumbered me of my jacket, and sprinkled me over with cold water. We
had now upwards of ten miles to travel before we could obtain any
assistance, and we were compelled to course down the river, as I was
obliged to lie down very frequently. At length we reached the stock-hut
of Mr. Rowland Walpole Loane, where we were received with much kindness;
after which, suffering severely from my wounds, I was with difficulty
conveyed to Hobart Town.

"A party afterwards went in quest of the hostile tribe, and found that
they had burned the hut down, after having taken out a bag of sugar,
sheep-shears, a tomahawk, a hat, and jacket. All these things they had
scattered about in every direction."

This is not the only narrow escape Mr. Jones had from the blacks. In
another part of his report he says :--"In November, 1826, I was attacked
by a numerous tribe of the aborigines, at my residence at Pleasant
Place, in the parish of Rutland, in the county of Monmouth. On a
Thursday morning I left my wife and family at home, proceeding myself in
search of some sheep, and returned about ten o'clock of the forenoon. I
had scarcely entered my dwelling when my little boy came in, saying to
his mother that the blacks were about. I seized my musket and went out,
and saw two. I pursued them; but when I had got half-way up the tier I
saw about twenty natives in ambush amongst some wattle-trees. My wife
was at the time standing at our door, with a loaded pistol in her hand,
and called to me to come down, which I did. The natives followed,
swearing at me in good English. They now extended themselves; and as the
trees were at that time standing close to the house, they singly skulked
behind them. I was on the alert, for I observed one man on one side, and
another one on the other side, with lighted bark in their hands; the
women and children were up in the tier. I was much perplexed, for I was
obliged constantly to run forwards and backwards. The centre of them
worked down when they saw an opportunity. It had been a high flood the
day before, and the water had scarcely left the marshes, so we were
hemmed in on all sides--the river behind, and the blacks before us. Mrs.
Jones had several times prevented the men from coming to the house, by
presenting her pistol to them; which so exasperated them, that he who
was taller than the rest, and seemed to be their chief, exclaimed in a
great passion, in English--'As for you, maam--as for you, ma-am--I will
put you in the b--y river, ma-am,' and then he cut a number of capers.
We had then with us a courageous and faithful little girl, who proposed
to go upon a scrubby hill, about a mile distant, to tell the sawyers who
were at work there the dangers to which we were exposed; but we would
not allow it, fearing she might be speared. Shortly after the girl was
missing; it appeared afterwards that she had crawled along the fences,
and succeeded in getting up to the sawyers. Guessing that she had
proceeded thither, in about half-an-hour after we cooced, and were
speedily answered by the men. The native women on the tier gave out a
signal, and the blacks all fled. We pursued them, and I got very close
to one, when he stooped under the boughs of a fallen tree, and I could
see no more of him. We came up to a spot where we found a fire, with
some kangaroo half-roasted, and some dogs which ran away. We then
observed the blacks ascending the second tier, and we quitted further
pursuit, as it would not have been safe to leave the house and family
unprotected. This engagement with the natives lasted about four hours."

This statement of Mr. Jones gives a very accurate notion of the
condition of affairs in the colony. Jorgenson quotes it with expressions
of resentment against the aboriginals which need not be repeated here.
There can be but little doubt but that there existed faults on both
sides. The colonists--rude, hot-tempered, and blood-thirsty, as many of
them were--often made unprovoked attacks upon the natives, and the blood
shed in these encounters was bitterly avenged on the first opportunity.
"The career of the blacks in Van Diemen's Land," says Jorgenson, "has
been ever marked with ingratitude towards those who treated them with
kindness, and in their attacks on the whites they pursued them with
indiscriminate slaughter, not sparing any who had even vindicated their
cause and fed them."

In consequence of repeated outrages of this nature, the Government
resolved to bestir itself; but as yet apparently unwilling to commence
hostile operations on a "grand scale," contented itself by forming a
committee of deliberation, which should take into consideration the
whole question.

The sitting of this committee resulted in the establishment of an armed
band--a sort of land privateer force--in each district. Mr. Gilbert
Robertson, the chief constable of the Richmond district, had in
November, 1828, been sent in pursuit of an aggressive tribe, and had
captured six of them without injury to his own men. Upon the strength of
this exploit the Government engaged him to go in quest of the blacks for
twelve months on a salary of 150 per annum, and in case of success he
was to receive a grant of 2000 acres of land. Robertson does not appear
to have been particularly successful, for in the spring of 1829 Mr.
Anstey received a commission from Colonel Arthur to undertake the
superintendence of all the roving parties. Four bands were thereupon
sent out, and the direction of these guerillas was assigned to
Jorgenson. Mr. Batman had twelve men under his control; Nicholas, in the
Campbell Town district, six; Sherwin, in the Clyde district, and Doran,
in the New Norfolk district, five apiece. The duty of these bands was to
range the country, and, while executing vengeance for outrage committed,
to keep the natives within their assigned limits. A bounty of 5 was
given for every one of the aborigines taken alive. The settlers
roundabout meantime did yeoman service. Mr. George Anstey, "then a mere
youth," headed a party of his father's servants, and captured a small
tribe; and Mr. Howell, of the Shannon, captured another, and, forwarding
them to head-quarters, received a grant of 1000 acres of land. The
blacks, however, were bold and united. Arranging their plans of action,
they would creep through the country by twos and threes, and suddenly
uniting at a given spot, would slaughter women and children, and fire
homesteads. The settlers in those days never went out to plough without
"placing their firearms against a stump in the field."

The nature of the country favoured these sudden attacks. Mr. Frankland,
the Surveyor-General, in a report prepared for the express purpose of
assisting Colonel Arthur in a campaign which he was then meditating
against the natives, says--"The most lofty mountains rise in basaltic
order in all parts of the territory, piercing in their upheaval the more
recent formations, and leaving round their bases the various strata of
sandstones and fossilliferous rocks. Independent of these great ranges,
the whole country is broken into a sea of minor elevations, sometimes
extending in long ridges called by the colonists 'tiers,' sometimes in
unconnected hills." The nature of the ground thus rendered anything like
concerted action of a disciplined body almost impossible, and the
guerillas dodged the blacks from gully to rock, from hill to plain,
silently following their footsteps like Indian warriors on a war-trail.

The conduct of the scouting parties, however, was so far unsatisfactory
that Colonel Arthur determined to put in practice a notion which had
been long simmering in his brain--he would draw a cordon round the
recalcitrant blacks, and drive them into one corner of the island. The
natives, irritated rather than cowed by the constant pursuit of the
armed force, had committed some daring reprisals. Watching until their
enemies had been betrayed by a false alarm into some fruitless errand,
they would in broad daylight sally forth upon the unprotected farms, and
massacre the inhabitants. So bold had they grown that in one case--a
peculiarly atrocious one--six of them climbed the fence of a settler's
house, and entering by the back door killed the housewife and three
children, while the father and his servants were at work but fifty yards
away in the field, with fire-arms at hand. Popular indignation was
excited to the highest pitch; and upon the proposition of Colonel Arthur
being mooted, an extraordinary demonstration took place.

By a Government order issued from the Colonial Secretary's Office on the
9th September, 1830, the whole population of the island was called to
arms. "The Lieutenant-Governor calls upon every settler, whether
residing on his farm or in a town, who is not prevented by some
overruling necessity, cheerfully to render his assitance, and place
himself under the direction of the police-magistrate of that district in
which his farm is situated, or any other district he may prefer." The
whole military force in the colony was to be stationed at those points
where the natives were most likely to be encountered. The north side of
the island was placed under the care of Captain Donaldson, of the 57th
Regiment. Captain Wellman, of the same corps, commanded from "Ross,
north-east of St. Patrick's Head, and north-west to Auburn and Lake
River." The Bothwell district was occupied by Captain Wentworth, of the
63rd, whose cordon extended north-west to the lakes, and south-west to
Hamilton township. The Lower Clyde, from Hamilton township, south-east
to New Norfolk, was under the charge of Captain Vicary, 63rd Regiment.
The force at Crossmarsh, and the borders of the Oatlands, Richmond, and
Bothwell districts, was commanded by Captain Malion, 63rd Regiment.
Lieutenant Barrow, 63rd, commanded the force in the district of
Richmond, "extending north to Jerusalem, north-east to Prosser's Plains,
and east to the coast;" and Lieutenant Aubin, of the 63rd, commanded the
force in the district of Oyster Bay, extending south to Little Swan
Port, north to the head of the Swan River, and west to Eastern Marshes,
while the whole body thus employed was placed under the general charge
of Major Douglas, 63rd, who was stationed at Oatlands. Volunteers from
Hobart Town were urged to join the force in the districts of New
Norfolk, the Clyde, or Richmond; and those from Launceston were directed
to close in with the police to the westward of Norfolk Plains, or in the
country between Ben Lomond and George Town; "while," says the Gazette,
"still more desirable service will be given by any parties who will
ascend to the parts round the Lakes and Western Bluff, so as to
intercept the natives if driven into that part of the country; and any
enterprising young men, who may have been accustomed to make excursions
in the interior, and to endure the fatigues of the bush, will most
beneficially promote the common cause by joining the small military
parties at the out-stations, and in making patrol expeditions with them,
and the services of all such will be readily accepted by the military
officers in command of the several stations."

The roving parties were to be further increased by every possible
method, to which end the Governor desired that "all prisoners holding
tickets of leave, who are capable of bearing arms, report themselves to
the police magistrate of the district in which they reside, in order
that they may be enrolled, either in the regular roving parties, or
otherwise employed in the public service under the instructions of their
respective employers."

This announcement once made, operations were pushed forward with vigour.
Colonel Arthur placed himself at the head of the forces; the "peace" of
Hobart Town and Launceston was left to the care of the principal
inhabitants, who could not attend the line. Captains Wentworth, Mahon,
Bayley, Vicary, Wellman, Macpherson, and Lieutenants Aubin, Croly,
Pedder, Champ, and Murray, placed themselves at the head of their
respective divisions. The whole field police, all ticket-of-leave men,
and a multitude of convicts, either in assigned service or otherwise at
the disposal of Government, were ordered to join the line; and this
immense force, consisting of more than 2000 armed men, moved slowly
across the island, driving the natives before them. A glance at the map
of Tasmania will show the effect of this manoeuvre. The blacks were to
be "driven" like deer into the south-east corner of the island, to be
forced over that narrow strip of sand known as East Bay Neck, connecting
Forestier's Peninsula with the mainland, and then--driven across the
second isthmus, "corralled" in what is now the penal settlement of Port
Arthur. Nature had made for Colonel Arthur an immense stockyard, with
two natural gates. The cordon drawn across County Pembroke was complete
from Sorell Town to Spring Bay. Huge fires were lighted at night, and
guards posted constantly by day. Constantly reinforced, supplied with an
ample commissariat, the terrible line closed in as it were inch by inch,
and the natives, entrapped in the point of land that runs out between
Pittwater and Marion Bay, were compelled to retreat towards East Bay
Neck--the first gate of the stockyard. From East Bay Neck it was
proposed to drive them still further south, across the terrible Eagle
Hawk Neck--yet seen in dreams by many a manumitted convict--down to the
last point of dry land, the basalt cliffs at whose jagged base breaks
unchecked the fury of the Southern Sea. It was as though the blacks,
like rats driven to the utmost extremity of a quay, should be compelled
to take to the water.

Colonel Arthur, however, did not push matters to this extremity. Having
closed in upon East Bay Neck, and driven the natives into the stockyard,
he broke up his forces and gave the volunteers leave to return to their
homes "to prepare for a second series of operations," which ultimately
resulted in something very like the complete destruction of the native
race. The disarmed convicts, strange to say, returned quietly to their
stations, though Jorgenson hints that several promising conspiracies
were nipped in the bud, and the Van Diemonians, in a fever of joy,
presented a congratulatory address to the Governor. It was reported that
the natives had broken the cordon, and papers of the day hint that the
expedition was a failure. There is no doubt that, when we take into
consideration the state of the country, the feeling of the population,
and the fact that a large body of the vilest scoundrels were entrusted
with arms which at any moment they might have turned against their
leaders, the undertaking was a brilliant success. But the second
expedition was even more wonderful than the first, and the story of Mr.
Robinson, the "apostle of the blacks," who, unarmed and alone, went into
the midst of them, and by dint of argument brought whole tribes into
submission, is in itself a romance. Jorgenson wanders from his own
history to relate some of the exploits of this extraordinary man, but as
the history of the final subjugation of the native race and the labours
of their missionary is worthy of a place to itself, I will reserve
further account of them.[*]

[* Since the above was written, a full account of the aborigines and
their extermination has been given by Mr. Bonwick in his Last of the

But Jorgenson's adventures were drawing to a close. One afternoon at
Anstey Barton, in turning over the leaves of the Gazette just brought by
the mail-boy, Jorgenson observed his own name. He had obtained his
pardon! One would think that this intelligence would have filled him
with joy; but, if we are to believe his own account, he felt rather
miserable than otherwise. He had become used to his chain, and freedom
was strange to him. Moreover, he was in a worse plight free than as a
bondsman, for he had to keep himself. The roving bands, of which he was
leader, were broken up in the spring (1831), and he was left without
employment. He received a grant of 100 acres of land, but with a touch
of his old extravagance, he "sold it almost immediately," and in all
probability gambled away the proceeds. There was no occupation for a
swash-buckler like himself; and even had there been some exploring
expedition to join, or bushranger to capture, his altered condition had
brought with it altered feelings. When a convict, Jorgenson was fearless
to desperation; as a freeman he could appreciate the value of
life:--"Prior to my receiving a pardon I had fearlessly plunged into
rapid rivers, up to the armpits, with a knapsack on my back, containing
a weight of 60 lbs. to 70 lbs. When in quest of the blacks, I spent one
night at Mr. Kemp's farm at the Cross Marsh; the next morning I
proceeded to Mr. George Espie's farm, on the Jordan, to cross the river,
as the floods were down. Here, across the Jordan, is a post and
rail-fence, where persons may cross, although it is not without danger,
the fence trembling from the heavy pressure of the current. I went down,
and although I had often crossed when the fence was completely under
water, and that there was now a clear rail, I would not venture to
cross. Mr. Espie expressed some surprise at my backwardness, as he had
formerly seen me cross without any apprehension. I replied, 'Yes, Mr.
Espie, I was then a prisoner, and life of little matter; but now that I
am free, I must take more care of myself.'"

The month after he got his pardon he took up his abode in Hobart Town,
but "was sadly put to it to make both ends meet." He seems to have got
married also, and speaks of his wife, "who volunteered to take charge of
a dairy farm;" but as Jorgenson knew nothing about farming, and
confounded seedtime with harvest, the pair were speedily discharged. In
this dilemma, the king, sailor, spy, courtier, gambler, convict,
constable, and explorer, bethought himself of a ninth profession--letters.
He had lived in London on his writings: he would try to do the
same in Hobart Town. No sooner thought than achieved, and
by-and-by our hero calmly publishes "a tolerably large pamphlet on the
Funding System," which brought him in more than 100 guineas. This
easily-earned money was soon spent, and he was again destitute, when
fortune, which had buffeted him long, landed him safely at last. A
letter from the Danish envoy in London to Lord Glenelg was enclosed by
that nobleman to Colonel Arthur, with an intimation that the "mother of
J. Jorgenson, a prisoner of the Crown," was dead, and that he had come
into a comfortable little fortune. The curtain falls upon him
petitioning the Government for a further grant of land, in consideration
of his services in 1829-30-31. Here is one of the "testimonials" out of
many he gives as having been attached to the document:--

"There are to certify that memorialist has been well known to me during
the last nine years. He was some years under my orders when I was
police-magistrate of the Oatlands district, during which period he acted
successively as my assistant-clerk, constable of the field-police,
leader of several roving bands in quest of the aborigines, and one of
the directors of the Oatland volunteers, in the levy en masse against
the aborigines. In all those capacities memorialist discharged honestly
and fearlessly the arduous duties which were entrusted to him."
"(Signed) THOS. ANSTEY, M.L.C., J.P.

"Anstey Barton, 10th December, 1836."

Whether he ever got his grant or not I do not know, as his story breaks
off abruptly:--"I have," says he, "now come to the conclusion of the
second part of my autobiography. It is not for me to speculate upon
whether I shall ever be able to write a third portion. This must be left
to the will of that Being who rules man's destiny. I have had my full
share of days! little is there in this world to care for. The joys of
human life are fleeting and transient; they may be likened to two
friends meeting each other on a hasty journey, who ask a few questions,
and then part, perhaps for ever, leaving nothing behind but a tender
regret. Such is it with the joyous hours of our transitory existence.
These pages had probably never appeared, had I merely consulted the
state of my own feelings; for I am not, like Jean Jacques Rousseau, fond
of thrusting myself on the public with unnecessary confessions: I have
been swayed by motives of a higher character. My youthful readers may
derive a lesson from the history of my life. All human wisdom is vanity
if not regulated by prudence. One error leads to another, and every
deviation from the straight path is sure to entangle the strayed sheep
in the mazes of a labyrinth." Poor strayed sheep! I can fancy worthy
Doctor Ross, the editor, saying, "Jorgenson, you must have had a strange
life of it. Can't you jot down some of those yarns you are always
spinning for the Annual?" and see the wily smile with which the
"Captain" replies, as he shifts his pipe from one side of his mouth to
the other.

Write romances! Why, this poor old convict, who has been resting in his
nameless grave these twenty years, has lived one beside which the "story
of Cambuscan bold," the adventures of Gil Blas, or the doings of that
prince of scoundrels, Mr. Barry Lyndon himself, dwindle into
insignificance. All the raven-haired, hot-headed, supple-wristed
soldiers of fortune that ever diced, drank, duelled, kissed, and
escaladed their way through three volumes octavo, never had such an
experience. Think over his story, from his birth in Denmark to his death
in Van Diemen's Land, and imagine from what he has told us, how much
more he has been compelled to leave unrelated.


At the Sydney Quarter Sessions held on the 8th of November, 1826, two
soldiers of the 57th Regiment were indicted for stealing calico from the
shop of a Jew named Michael Napthali, and sentenced to seven years'

The circumstances of the offence were peculiar. In December, 1826,
Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Darling succeeded to the governorship of
New South Wales, and was clever enough to become in twelve months the
most unpopular personage in the colony. A detailed disquisition upon his
character would be out of place here, but a very excellent and brief
summary of it is given by Mr. Sidney in his Three Colonies of
Australia:--"He was a man of forms and precedents of the true red-tape
school--neat, exact, punctual, industrious, arbitrary, spiteful, and
commonplace." Impressed with a marvellous sense of his own importance,
and obstinate to desperation, Sir Ralph Darling brought the severest
military discipline to bear upon the social relations of governor and
governed. He was Sir Oracle, and if any unhappy dog dared bark when his
august lips were open, instant annihilation was the punishment of his
temerity. He ruled the convicts with a rod of iron, and surrounded by a
tribe of parasites, flatterers, and knaves, stretched the authority he
possessed to the verge of abuse. A violent opposition to
Government-house and its belongings had been growing ever since the days
of Bligh, and the bureaucratic despotism of the military Governor gave
to this opposition a weapon which it was not slow to use. The more he
was abused, the more arbitrary did the Governor become; and at last he
perpetrated an act of tyranny which went near to bracket him in history
with Governor Wall.

The condition of the military forces in the colony was not an enviable
one. The privates of the 57th Regiment saw around them many wealthy men
whom they remembered as convicts, and startled by the strangely lenient
sentences passed by many magistrates, began to murmur at the severe
punishment and strict discipline meted out to themselves by the
Governor's orders. The convict population of Sydney was, in 1827, in one
of two positions. A prisoner of the Crown was either better or worse
treated than his deserts. The cat was used unsparingly. A county
magistrate was "permitted to award any number of lashes for insolence,
idleness, and other indefinite offences." Men were flogged until they
died, or tortured until they committed suicide to escape the weariness
of living. The newly-established settlement of Moreton Bay rivalled the
infamies of Macquarie Harbour, and was only exceeded in terror by that
lowest of deeps, Norfolk Island. But nevertheless the corrupt condition
of officialdom rendered immunity from punishment sufficiently easy to a
patient and designing convict. Money could do everything, and instances
are not wanting of murderers and thieves who succeeded in establishing
themselves in snug shops and snugger farms. Convict jurors sat upon
convict prisoners, and the bon camaraderie of the chain-gang and the
hulks was not invariably forgotten. The military, not always composed of
the best materials--viewed with disgust the social success of the men
whom they had in former times helped to guard, and a pernicious and
dangerous feeling ran current in the garrison that to be a soldier was
not always to be better off than a convict. During the residence of the
57th Regiment in the colony more suicides took place in it than in any
other corps quartered there before or since--five men had already
committed robberies in order to obtain their discharge, while two had
incurably mutilated themselves for the same purpose.

Darling was aware of this notion, and unreasonably irritated at what he
considered an insult to his own judgment, instead of lightening the
military yoke, caused it to press the heavier, vowing that he would take
dire vengenance on any exponent of the rebellious doctrine.

Sudds and Thompson were fated to be the martyrs of a military
reformation. Discontented with their position, and eager for their
discharge from a service which the peddling tyranny of the Governor had
made worse than penal, the two silly fellows determined to commit an
offence which should, by rendering them amenable to transportation for
five or seven years, secure them their discharge at the end of that
time. Thompson, who bore a good character in the regiment, appears to
have been drawn into the scheme by the arguments of Sudds, who had a
wife in England, and was doubly anxious to escape from the bondage of
the Barrack-square. Sudds had been for a long time discontented, and was
regarded as a "loose fellow" by his officers; that is to say, his
discontent took the usual shape of rebellion against constituted
authority. The military stock had become too tight for Sudds and

On the evening of the 20th of September, 1826, the two men determined to
put their project in execution. They went into the shop of a Jew named
Napthali, and asked to see some shirting. Several pieces were shown
them, and Sudds, selecting twelve yards of calico, placed the bundle
under his arm, and walked out of the shop, remarking that his companion
would pay. Thompson chatted with the shopman for a while, and being at
last certain that Sudds was beyond pursuit, declined to pay anything,
and walked out. The pair having met, bestowed the calico about their
persons, and awaited the arrival of the constables. They did not wait
long. As they had anticipated, they were soon apprehended, and giving up
the calico, laughingly told the officer that they were weary of military
service, and had taken this means of quitting it. On the 8th of November
they were tried, and sentenced to seven years' transportation. All had
turned out as they had hoped, and Thompson on leaving the dock said,
with a smile, "I hope your Honour will let me take my firelock. It may
be useful to me in the bush!"

Thus far nothing in the case called for public comment, and, beyond the
ordinary newspaper paragraphs concerning "daring conduct," and "robbery
in open day," the case of the two men passed unnoticed. But on the 21st
of November it began to be rumoured that General Darling intended to
make "an example of the two prisoners," and that some extraordinary
punishment was in store for them. On the 22nd of November a general
order was issued, which stated that "The Lieutenant-General, in virtue
of the power with which he is invested as Governor-in-Chief, has thought
fit to commute (!) the sentence, and to direct that privates Joseph
Sudds and Patrick Thompson shall be worked in chains on the public roads
for the period of their sentence, after which they will rejoin their
corps. The garrison has been assembled to witness the degradation of
these men from the honourable station of soldiers to that of felons
doomed to labour in chains. It is ordered that the prisoners be
immediately stripped of their uniform in the presence of the troops, and
be dressed in felon clothing. That they be put in chains, and delivered
in charge to the overseers of the 'chain gangs,' in order to their being
removed to their interior, and worked on the mountain roads, being
drummed as rogues out of the garrison."

Now the usual way to "drum a man out of garrison" is to put a rope round
his neck, cut off the facings of his uniform, and place on his back a
piece of paper on which is written the name of the offence which the
culprit has committed; and it was supposed that such had been the course
pursued in regard to Sudds and Thompson. On the evening of the 22nd of
November (Thursday), however, the officers and soldiers of the garrison
began to let fall hints respecting some more imposing ceremony, and it
was rumoured that the prisoners had undergone some extraordinary
punishment which had seriously injured one of them. These rumours gained
ground until Monday, the 26th, when it became known that Sudds had died
on the previous night. The Opposition papers published an exaggerated
account of ironing, chaining, and flogging, and after some bickering
between the democratic Australian and the Government paper, an inquiry
was held--at which General Darling most |indecently presided--and it was
given forth that Sudds had died from combined dropsy and bronchitis. Mr.
Wentworth--a native-born Australian barrister, of some eloquence and
intense capacity for hating--would not rest satisfied with this
explanation, and little by little the facts of the case leaked out.

Sudds and Thompson had been loaded with heavier irons than those placed
upon the most desperate convicts, and the ingenious Darling had placed
round their necks spiked iron collars attached by another set of chains
to the ankle fetters. The projecting spikes prevented the unhappy men
from lying down at case, and the connecting chains were short enough to
prevent them from standing upright. Under the effects of this treatment
Sudds had died.

Public fury now knew no bounds. Tradesmen put up their shutters as
though in mourning for some national calamity. The fiercest
denunciations met the Governor on all sides, and he was accused of
wilful murder. A full investigation of the case was demanded, and
granted, but in the meantime Darling's parasites had made away with the
irons. At the sitting of the Executive Council lighter ones were
substituted. A Captain Robinson, however, had, unluckily for himself,
found the original irons at the Government station at Emu Plains, and
gave a full description of them. Shortly after this he was sent to
Norfolk Island,[*] and, after many harassing changes, finally cashiered by
a court-martial convened by Darling, on a frivolous pretence. Wentworth
published in England a series of pamphlets containing an account of the
whole transaction, and it is from these pamphlets (taken in connection
with the Parliamentary papers of the day) that I have attempted to
compile an impartial history of the case.

[* Of course, not as a prisoner.]

While awaiting trial, Sudds had complained of illness. On the 8th of
November the two prisoners were removed to the gaol. On the 11th, Sudds,
being in irons, complained of pains in the bowels, and was admitted as
an out-patient of the gaol hospital. A few days after, he was brought
into the sick ward, suffering from pains in the head and bowels. The
irons were removed, and the following morning his legs, belly, and
thighs were greatly swollen. John Thompson, the gaol attendant, ordered
fomentations of hot water, which removed the pain in the bowels, and the
surgeon arriving that afternoon ordered him to be discharged. The next
day he was brought back worse than before. "My belly is like a drum," he
said. Medicines were given to him, and he remained in the hospital with
gaol irons on until the morning of the 22nd. On the 22nd the order
arrived for the two prisoners to be sent to the barracks. Wilson, the
under-gaoler, and two constables thereupon came for Sudds, and dressed
him in his regimentals. Outside the ward he met Thompson, and the two
were sent down to the parade-ground. The day was one of extreme heat,
and most oppressive. Sudds was unable to stand, and was supported by a
man under each arm while the order was read. Captain Robinson, who was
present at the ceremony, says of Sudds, "His whole body was much puffed
and swollen, particularly his legs and feet." The order having been
read, the regimentals were stripped off the backs of the two men, and
replaced by the yellow convict clothing, while a set of irons was placed
upon each of them. During this operation Sudds was obliged to sit upon
the grass. "These irons," says the editor of the Australian, "were of a
peculiar kind. The rings from the ankles are made after a peculiar
fashion, and are of an uncommon size. In place of having chains attached
to them in the common way, they are connected by means of long and
slender chains with another ring, which is put round the neck, and
serves as a collar. Two thin pieces of iron, each about eight inches
long, protrude from the ring collar, in front under the chin, behind
under the nape of the neck. This is the position of the pieces of iron
(they are not spikes, not being sharp at the end) when the chains are
put on and adjusted as intended. From this it is evident that the degree
of ease or torture experienced by the wearer must depend entirely upon
the length of the several chains. He can't lie down on his back or on
his belly without twisting round the collar, in order to remove the
projecting irons to the side. If the chains be not longer than that part
of the body between the ankles and the neck, he never can extend himself
at full length, but must remain partly doubled up, and become cramped in
the course of a short time; for in turning the collar in order to lie
down, the chains wind and form a curvature round the body, thus
diminishing in effect their length." The weight of these irons was,
according to Captain Robison, between 30 and 40 lbs.

Having been thus bound, the pair were conducted to the barrack gate, and
given over to the constables. Sudds was obliged to lean against the
wall, and complained that the basils of the fetters cut his legs. Being
placed in the cell the torture commenced. Sudds's neck began to swell,
and he found that he could barely breathe. Thompson offered to "turn"
the collar for him, but his offer was refused; Sudds said it hurt him if
it was stirred. "It would admit nothing between it and the neck but a
cotton handkerchief." As for Thompson, he says, at his examination on
board the "Phoenix" hulk, "The projecting irons would not allow me to
stretch myself at full length on my back. I could sleep on my back, by
contracting my legs; I could not lie on either side without contracting
my legs. I could not stand upright with the irons on; the basil of the
irons would not slip up my legs, and the chains were too short to allow
me to stand upright." This was the "little case" of the Tower, or the
stone cage of the Bastille over again. We can imagine without much
difficulty the torture that would be produced by such compulsory
contraction of the body. That night Sudds was taken so ill that Thompson
borrowed a candle from Wilson, the under-gaoler, fearing lest his
companion should suddenly die. He also gave him some tea which he had
purchased. A little after midnight the poor wretch became so bad that
Thompson, thinking he was dying, asked a fellow-prisoner to come and
look at him. The man looked, and said, "He's not dying, but I do not
think he'll live long." Upon this Thompson asked Sudds if he had any
friends to whom he would wish to write. Sudds replied that he had a wife
and child at Gloucester, and begged Thompson to "get some pious book and
read to him," adding, that "they had put him in irons until they killed
him." Shortly after this, Thompson, worn out with fatigue, fell asleep,
and a man named Moreton, who was in gaol for a murderous assault upon
his mother undertook to sit up with the dying man. At eight o'clock the
next morning, Thursday, Sudds was taken to the hospital; his irons were
removed when the doctor came round, at twelve o'clock. That day he ate
nothing but a piece of fish. Mr. M'Intyre, the surgeon, said to him,
"You have brought yourself into pretty disgrace. You will be a fine
figure with those irons, at work." To which he replied, "I will never
work in irons." "You would be better out of the world," says M'Intyre;
and the poor creature with a groan said, "I wish to God I was."

His wish was fulfilled on Sunday night. Had he died in the precincts of
the gaol, an inquest could have been demanded, and General Darling,
hearing of the precarious condition of the prisoner; absolutely ordered
him to be removed on Sunday afternoon to the General Hospital, whither
he was taken in a small cart about an hour before he expired. The
necessity for an inquest was thus obviated, and Mr. M'Intyre, the
assistant-surgeon of the gaol, went down to the hospital to make a
post-mortem examination of the body. He found the organs healthy, but
"discovered in the throat mucus of a slimy, frothy description. The
wind-pipe was rather inclined to a reddish colour." It is tolerably
clear that this appearance was caused by inflammation, induced by the
tight and heavy collar; but Mr. M'Intyre, who held his post at the
Governor's pleasure, obligingly considered it the effect of bronchitis.

The Australian newspaper, however, thought otherwise, and said so. Upon
this Mr. Alexander M'Leay, Colonial Secretary, at the Governor's
request, wrote to the editor and put him in possession of what he was
pleased to term the "facts of the case," to wit, that the punishment
inflicted was, in reality, a mitigation of the original sentence; that
Sudds died from dropsy; that the chains weighed exactly 13 lbs. 12 ozs.,
and could be seen at his office. Public feeling was still rampant, and
on the 5th of December Darling brought the case under the consideration
of the Executive Council. At this meeting Mr. M'Intyre reiterated his
statements about bronchitis, saying, that he had been most particular in
his observations, as he knew that "this was a case which the rascally
newspapers would take up." Captain Dumaresq, acting civil engineer, and
son-in-law to the Governor, produced a set of 13-lb. irons, and said
they were the ones worn by Sudds. A soldier of the 5 7th, named Jesse
Geer, who was in waiting, was then called in; and the Governor remarking
that Geer was as nearly as possible of the same size and stature as
Sudds, ordered the irons to be put upon him, and called the assembled
council to witness how easily they fitted!

Everything now seemed explained, and Darling as a last precaution wrote
to Earl Bathurst on the 12th, reporting the case and the decision of the
council, and adding that "being satisfied from what had occurred that
the conduct of the hospital requires investigation, he would immediately
appoint a board to 'inquire into the management and system generally,'
and report upon the same for his lordship's information."

But tenacious Wentworth still held on to the facts of the case, and was
presently gratified by a piece of important information. Captain
Robison, of the Veteran corps, had seen the original irons which had
been placed on Thompson, and had tried them on out of curiosity. To that
gentleman, on the 1st of January, does Wentworth write, requesting a
full account of the circumstance. Robinson replied on the 3rd, and after
giving in his letter the particulars concerning the "drumming out"
already quoted, says--"A few months after Sudds's punishment and death
(May or June, 1827), I was returning from the command of the Bathurst
district in company with Lieutenant Christie, of the Buffs, and we
stopped a night at the Government station on Emu Plains. The chains
which Private Thompson worked in, as above mentioned, had been left at
Emu, and were brought for us to see. They were of a very unusual
description, and the iron collar reminding me of those I had seen on
condemned slaves, &c., in South America, I was anxious to examine them,
and from this motive was induced to put them on my own person, as did
also Lieutenant Christie, of the Buffs. We had but one opinion as to the
torture they must have produced. . . . I found it quite impossible
whilst I had the collar and irons on me to lie down, except on my back
or face, there being two long iron spikes projecting from the iron
collar which was riveted round the neck, which put it quite out of my
power to turn over to the other side; independently of which there were
two chains on either side extending from the collar and communicating
with those on the legs. . . . I guessed the weight at about 30 lbs. or
40 lbs., or even upwards."

Mr. Mackaness, the sheriff, stated also that, calling at Government
House with Colonel Mills a few days prior to the punishment of Sudds and
Thompson, he saw on the right hand of the hall after entering the door
"either one or two sets of irons, having collars and iron spikes
projecting from them," which now he has no doubt were the same he
afterwards saw upon the men in gaol. Mackaness "took them to be
newly-invented man-traps."

Armed with this fresh information, Wentworth succeeded in getting a sort
of Commission to examine Thompson. This Commission, consisting of
M'Leay, the Colonial Secretary, W. H. Moore, the acting
Attorney-General, and Wentworth himself, sat on board the "Phoenix,"
hulk. Thompson, in his examinations, spoke boldly, and, confident in
popular support, did not hesitate to expatiate upon the cruelties to
which he had been subjected. The day before the death of Sudds, Thompson
could endure the torture of the collar no longer. On Saturday, the 25th
November, he broke the chain, "so as to turn the collar, and lie at
ease." The chains remained broken until Monday morning, when Wilson, the
under-gaoler, took him to the yard, and had Sudds's irons put on him. It
so happened that the chains of these were a little longer than the
others, and Thompson, being a smaller man than his companion, could
straighten his body. He remained in the gaol until Tuesday, when he was
placed in a boat and taken to the prisoners' barracks at Parramatta. On
Wednesday he was taken in a bullock-cart to Penrith gaol, and on
Thursday morning conveyed to "No. 1, Iron-chain-gang-party," on
Lapstone-hill, being the first range of the Blue Mountains. At three
o'clock the same day he was taken out and set to work with the gang,
having the spiked collar that had killed Sudds on his neck the whole
time. After eight days of this work he gave in. It was very hot weather,
and the heat of the iron collar became intolerable, "compelling me," he
says, "to sit down frequently in order to hold it with my hands off my
neck." The overseer ordered him to continue work; but he refused, and
asked to be taken to gaol, where he could get "rest from the heat of the
sun." To gaol he went accordingly, and on the following morning the
collar was removed by Mr. M'Henry, "by order of the Governor." Having
had his irons removed, he was sent back to the overseer, carrying the
collar, &c., with him, and on the arrival of the gang at Emu Plains was
invested with "the usual irons of the gang." A week after this he
refused to work, and being lodged in gaol fell sick of dysentery, and
was finally sent on board the hulks. What became of him at last I do not
know, and cannot discover. Having played his little part in the drama,
he retires. His exit is doubtless noted in the prison records of New
South Wales.

Thus informed, Wentworth wrote to Sir George Murray, the Secretary of
State, and forwarded to him a long bill of indictment against the
detested Governor. On the 8th July, 1828, Mr. Stewart, a member of the
British House of Commons, rose to move for "papers connected with the
case of Joseph Sudds and Patrick Thompson." Sir. G. Cole bore testimony
to "the excellent and humane character of the Governor of New South
Wales," but the motion was agreed to.

In the meantime "the rascally newspapers" had not been idle. "Miles," a
correspondent of the Morning Chronicle, at that time edited by Black,
took up the cudgels for Mr. Wentworth, and commented severely on the
conduct of the Tory Governor of New South Wales. The Tory papers
retaliated, and, after some fierce fighting, Darling seems to have
received a hint to resign. The facts of the case came out but too
clearly, and the motion of Mr. Stewart was fatal. But the struggle
lasted four years--long enough to ruin Robison, who was bandied from
post to pillar, and finally cashiered. On Darling's resignation, in
1831, Robison attempted to obtain redress from the Home Government, but
failed. The Whig party still clamoured for vengeance, and "Miles,"
persistently chronicling all Darling's misdeeds, vowed that unless he
was tried for his life, Picton would have been an ill-used hero, and
Wall a murdered man. The crowning stroke was delivered in a letter
published in 1832. On Wednesday, the 14th December, 1831, a savage
letter from "Miles" in the Chronicle called forth a silly and abusive
reply in the John Bull from Lieutenant-Colonel Darling, the brother of
Sir Ralph. The writer averred that "Miles" would not dare to attack the
Governor of New South Wales when that much-injured man arrived in London
in May. "Miles" waited quietly until June, and then came out with a
clear exposition of the whole case, couched in the most bitter language,
and gives a little bit of information which goes far to set the question
of Governor Darling's veracity at rest. John Head, who was hutkeeper at
Emu Plains, deposed upon oath in Sydney, on the 29th July, 1829, that
"being at the hut when Thompson arrived, he was desired by Plumley, the
overseer of the gang (he not being able to read), to read to him a
letter which the said Plumley had received purporting to be signed by
Alexander M'Leay, Colonial Secretary, by command of the Governor, and
that it directed the said Plumley to take the chains and collar off the
said Patrick Thompson, and to convey the same privately to
Government-house, and that the said Plumley did accordingly take the
chains and put them in a bag, which the deponent Head carried on his
back above half a mile to the Government-house at Emu, and delivered
them to Mr. James Kinghorn, and it is his opinion that they could not
have weighed less than from 30 lbs. to 40 lbs." However, there was no
"trial for murder." The Government expressed itself fully satisfied with
the conduct of Sir Ralph, who was Tory to the backbone. Robison was
cashiered, and Mr. Wentworth having got for Governor Major-General Sir
Richard Bourke (unquestionably the ablest man that had yet occupied that
office), turned his attention to other pursuits.

Meanwhile, if some official in Sydney Gaol will turn up the records for
1826, he may solve the mystery of poor Thompson's fate.


"Now, gentlemen," said the captain, "the boat's all ready for you."

"We had come to anchor that morning in Sullivan's Cove," says Dr. Ross,
writing in 1836 an account of his landing fourteen years before at
Hobart Town, "and for the last hour or two had been doing our best,
after a long voyage, to make ourselves decent, in order to pay our
respects to the Governor."

Dr. Ross was a gentleman of ability and taste, who had emigrated from
England with a view of settling as a farmer in Tasmania--as it was then
called, Van Diemen's Land. After many vicissitudes, truthfully recorded
in the following narrative, he became editor of a Government paper, and
starting the Hobart Town Chronicle and Van Diemen's Land Annual,
occupied a prominent position in the colony until his death. To his
exertions the historians of Tasmania have been largely indebted for the
material of their books. His Annual is--apart from the scarce newspapers
of the day--the almost only record left of the earlier days of the
colony, and his experiences may be read with interest.

On this memorable morning he seated himself in his well-creased "last
new London-made dress coat" in the bows of the boat, eagar to be among
the first to call at Government-house. His fellow-passengers were of a
motley character, and he describes with some humour the incidents of the

"The boat was just shoving off when we were desired to stop (in a
stentorian voice, which none of us dared to disobey), in order to take
on board an emigrant, whom we had all forgotten, and who we wished had
also forgotten us, but who now appeared, descending the steps. I do not,
to this hour, know how he managed to get down, for both arms were loaded
with articles of the heaviest kind. One embraced a steel mill, on the
excellent machinery of which he had enlarged almost every day since he
had purchased it in Oxford-street. The other held, linked together in a
bullock-chain, a huge iron maul, a broad axe, and another very long
felling or rather falling one, as it is colonially called, and which it,
unfortunately for me, in this instance, too truly proved to be. For in
spite of all our cries--'No room, no room!' 'Keep back!' 'Wait till next
time!' &c.--in an instant he had his foot impressed, with all the
superincumbent weight of himself and his iron ware, on the gunwale of
the boat, which he at once brought down to the edge of the water, and,
with the help of the passenger who sat beside me, and by the sweep of
his arm, trying to preserve his equilibrium, deprived me of mine. I was
as suddenly precipitated about ten or a dozen feet below the water.
Thanks to the aquatic acquirements of my early days, however, I was soon
again at the surface, where I swam until I caught the end of a rope, by
which I returned on board, with the mortification of having my fine
leve coat steeped in salt water, and seeing the rest of the passengers
paddling smoothly on shore to get the first blush of the Governor's
patronage. The only consolation I had under my catastrophe was the
finding that the whole of the heavy articles which had contributed to
it, were now lying snug, four fathoms under water, at the bottom of the

This unlucky accident, however, procured him the pleasure of a private
interview with the Governor, Colonel Sorrell, who seemed to be much
pleased at the intention of the new-comer to settle in Van Diemen's Land
instead of going on to Sydney. He was assured that the colony was in
urgent need of settlers like himself, and was promised all the
assistance the Government could give. The largest grant that the
Governor was at that time empowered to make to any settler was 2560
acres. Unfortunately, in sailing from London the doctor had been
induced, in order to accommodate some other passengers, to take out of
the ship a large quantity of goods, and as grants of land were only made
in consideration of, and in proportion to, real property, he could not
claim the full allowance. Colonel Sorrell, however, ordered that 1000
acres should be "laid off" for him, with the understanding that he could
take it up as soon as the second vessel, containing his property,
arrived. This took place six weeks afterwards, but Ross was then "busy
with his farm and family in the interior," and was unable to come to
town or see after the fulfilment of the promise. This state of things
continued until a change of Governors took place, and when Colonel
Arthur arrived, Ross came down to enforce his claim. New Governors or
Governments are not always eager to confirm the minutes left by their
predecessors, and Arthur did not appear to think it necessary to carry
out the suggestions of Sorrell in every particular. Poor Ross was
informed that "the additions would all come in good time, when he had
made the proper improvements on the 1000 acres he had already obtained;"
and this decision, he says, took him so much aback that he never since
stirred in the matter, and--"I have, in consequence, for a series of
years been struggling with every colonial difficulty to maintain a
numerous family; I have seen many other settlers, with far less original
means, and--I say it without disparagement--with certainly no higher
claims, enjoying the advantage of maximum and additional maximum grants,
and rapidly accumulating large and independent fortunes." Hobart Town in
1822 was not a very cheerful place. The population, including prisoners
and military, barely amounted to 3000 souls. The streets were but just
marked out, and consisted for the most part of thinly-scattered cottages
standing in the midst of unfenced allotments, while the roots and stumps
of primeval gum-trees tripped up the unwary foot-passenger.
Macquarie-street was distinguished by Government House, several stores,
and "The Hope and Anchor public-house," St. David's Church (then but
just built), and the Macquarie Hotel, a store where Ross expended the
first money he laid out in the colony in "the purchase of a razor-strop
for two dollars." The streets were knee-deep in mud, and undermined with
large holes, into which the unwary fell headlong. Even in 1825--three
years later--Dr. Ross states that going home one night he witnessed the
sudden plunge of the military band into a mud-hole, and the consequent
stoppage of the martial music which they were discoursing.

The "old market-place," where "Mr. Fergusson's granary stood by itself,"
was an "impassable mud-hole, periodically overflowed with the tide." The
only inns were Mrs. Kearney's, the Derwent, and Macquarie Hotels, and
the Ship Inn--the last-named being at this moment of writing the best
hotel in Hobart Town--and the remainder of the town was principally
composed of two-roomed cottages, having a "skillion" behind. The only
bridge was the "Cross," in Elizabeth-street, which spanned the "town
rivulet," and was calculated as the centre of the city. This bridge was
the[*] "Under the Verandah" of Hobart Town, and many admirable plans for
spoiling the Egyptians were there concocted.

[* The verandah of the Hall of Commerce, the Melbourne Stock Exchange.]

"There were assembled, especially towards evening, gentlemen of various
classes, and from various parts of the world--those who had recently
left the pocket-picking purlieus of the great metropolis, and those who
had added to that experience a few years' sojourn in these colonies.
Numerous bargains, assignments, and assignations were there planned and
transacted, which made their appearance on the ensuing morning in
dismantled and dilapidated stores, and other symptoms of 'freedom' in a
foreign land."

Mount Wellington over-hung the city in all his primeval and barbarous
beauty. The forest of gum-trees reached down to the edge of the town,
and "people cut cart-loads and barrow-loads of wood for their fires not
a hundred yards from their own doors."

It so happened that another vessel had arrived in harbour at the same
time with that one which had brought Dr. Ross, and this astonishing and
unusual circumstance created a profound sensation. Lodging-house
keepers, as rapacious then as now, and as ready to turn an honest penny
at some one else's expense, had raised their prices, and Ross found it
most difficult to obtain a resting-place for himself and his family.
"After a weary search," he succeeded in "hiring a hut of two apartments,
in one of the principal streets, at the weekly rent of 4dol., or 20s.

"Each room had a glazed window, and one of them a fire-place. It had no
other floor but the mother earth, nor roof but the gum shingles, nor
door but the entrance one. Such a building, at a moderate estimate, I
think could have been put up in any part of Middlesex for 40s., or two
months' rent. Indeed, when I hired the premises, the proprietor said he
would prefer selling it to me right out, and that I should have it for
20, or not quite a half-year's rent."

This pleasant and cheap domicile was situated about a quarter of a mile
from the town, and Ross set out to find it, carrying his portmanteau in
one hand and his little baby on the opposite arm, while his wife and two
little ones walked by his side--surely as forlorn a picture of
immigration as could be well imagined.

Presently, however, a man, decently dressed in blue trousers and jacket,
volunteered to carry the portmanteau, and, on arriving at the "hut,"
demanded payment for his trouble. This good Samaritan was an "assigned
servant," and eked out his living by this method of charity. Ross gave
him "the only English shilling, with its George and Dragon," which had
remained in his pocket since he had paid the boatmen at Cox's Quay.
Unluckily, English money was at a discount, and the convict did not like
the look of it.

"He turned it from side to side, between his finger and his thumb; he
looked at the dragon, and he looked at the shield with the garter, but
neither seemed to please him. I saw by his countenance that he
considered them in bad taste in Van Diemen's Land, and he flatly told me
that a pillar dollar of the then oppressed country of Spain was the only
coin he approved of; which, as I did not choose to give him, he would
make me a compliment of the shilling and the job together. As my pride
at that time was not very high--I blush to avow it--I was mean enough to
pocket the affront, and so we parted, never to meet again."

By dint of using one box as a table, and another as a bed, the new
settler contrived to give the "hut" a homely look; and, getting out his
crockeryware, and unpacking his tea and sugar, set to work and made tea
for his "poor sick and wearied wife, and little family." He had brought
with him two servants--the seductive "married couple" of the
advertisements--but, like many deluded settlers before and since, he
found that his importations were worse than useless. The man was a lout,
and the wife a ninny, and disgusted Ross was compelled to get rid of
them both.

Being awakened by the cold of the morning air, he got up to stroll
around his new premises, and inspected more particularly a little inn
which was opposite his door. The servant in this place was sweeping out
the remains of last night's feast, and stared so hard at the new arrival
that Ross went across to look at him. The description he gives is so
characteristic of the time that I extract it bodily:--

"A country settler, whose cart stood before the house, and whose four
large oxen I saw grazing in the bush on the hill behind, was turning
himself in order to renew his nap, on the long wooden sofa-seat, as it
is colonially called, serving as a drinking-bench by day and bed by
night, on which he lay half-undressed, and covered only with a kangaroo
rug. I then inspected the garden of this hostelry, for though it had
been once enclosed with a paling fence, many panels were already gone or
lying prostrate on the ground, and, though so young in existence, it was
already bearing the appearance of antiquity and decay. A goat was
grazing in the farther corner, and no vestiges of horticulture were
apparent, except a sweetbrier bush, a few marigolds in full yellow
blossom, and the remains of two cabbage stalks, which had been nibbled
by the goat."

The next week was passed in arranging his furniture, unpacking his
household goods, and storing them in the town. He had brought with him a
small box of dollars for current expenses, and the conveyance of this
box to his house cost him infinite pain. Some half-dozen fellows--"some
in the garb of gentlemen, others in grey and yellow"--followed him to
his hut, and peered suspiciously round the corner, looking with sharp
eyes to see where the specie was stowed. Ross, however, purchased a
bull-mastiff of one of the soldiers of the 48th, and hung his "trusty
Manton," loaded, on a couple of pegs in his bedroom.

Having thus provided for home cares, he determined to fix on a locality
for his future farm. Getting letters of introduction from the Governor,
he clubbed with three of his fellow-passengers in the hire of a
ticket-of-leave man, who would guide the party to its destination. This
gentleman was civil and attentive. He had been a burglar, and informed
Ross that his last offence--for the commission of which he was then
suffering--was the robbing of the picture gallery of a nobleman in
England, and that he had received 400 as his share in the booty.
Winding along the foot of the Wellington range, with the Derwent on
their right hand, Ross took the road towards the present township of New
Norfolk, and kept his eye open for farmland. He did not see what he
desired, but met with something that frightened him instead of pleasing
him. Surmounting the hill where is now the cottage of Beauly-lodge, he
was met by three men, one of whom carried a blue bag on which the stains
of blood were very conspicuous. Curiosity induced the party to pause,
and the strangers good-naturedly opening the bag, showed them a human
head. "Taking it by the hair, he held it up to our view, with the
greatest exultation imaginable, and for a moment we thought we had
indeed got amongst murderers, pondering between resistance and the
chance of succour or escape, when we were agreeably relieved by the
information that the bleeding head had belonged two days ago to the body
of the notorious bushranger, Michael Howe, for whom, dead or alive, very
large rewards had been offered.[*] He had been caught at a remote solitary
hut on the banks of the River Shannon, and in his attempt to break away
from the soldiers who apprehended him, had been shot through the back,
so that the painful disseverment of the head and trunk, the result of
which we now witnessed, had been only a postmortem operation."

[* Compare this account with that given by Worrall, page 64.]

After a pleasant journey, with numerous pauses at hospitable settlers'
houses, Ross arrived at a beautiful spot on the banks of the Shannon,
which he determined to make his future home, and returned to Hobart Town
for the purpose of making the necessary arrangements to purchase it.

He found his family well, but heard that several attempts had been made
to carry off the box of dollars. Robberies at that time were absurdly
frequent. The police--such as it was--was inefficient, and the thieves
numerous. Scarcely a night passed without some robbery being committed.
The assigned burglars, thieves, and "burkers" would put their wits
together to prey upon their neighbours. They would cut away boards, or
pull out a brick from the chimney bottom, and so work a hole large
enough to admit their bodies. A foot-passenger walking the streets at
night was almost certain to be attacked.

"It was a very common practice to run up behind a well-dressed person,
and whipping off his hat, to run away with it. This was called
'unshingling,' or taking off a man's roof. To say nothing of the
jeopardy in which a watch and other little valuables were placed on such
occasions, I have known instances of persons having the very cout taken
off their backs, especially if it happened to be a good one. For my
part, I could never discover what use the thieves could possibly put
these stolen articles to; for in so small a population, not only were
the face and person of every individual well-known, but the shape and
colour of his coat, and even of his hat, were equally familiar.
Unquestionably if I had been so unfortunate as to lose my hat in this
way (which I was not), I should have recognised it had I seen it on any
man's head in Hobart Town next day. A man much more readily identifies
an old friend of this kind, however great the similarity of black hats
may be, when encountered in the open air, and in the bright light of
day, than he can possibly do in an ante-room by candle-light after the
dazzle of a dancing-party. I say this with the more confidence, because
one of my fellow-passengers, who had lost his hat in this manner,
actually recognised it on the head of a dashing fellow, strutting with
gloves and cane in Macquarie-street." The rogue was apprehended and
convicted of the theft, and enjoyed as a reward for his 'unshingling'
propensities the pleasure of what is called in these ingenious countries
a 'second lagging.'"

Tired of these city joys, and having obtained his grant, and purchased
tools, a plough, and bullocks, our immigrant started up the country to
begin his farmer's life.

The account of the journey "up the country" does not much vary from the
accounts which have been given by early sellers in any colony. The same
troubles with refractory bullocks, the same camping out in unexpected
places, the same astonishment at the beauties of nature as she appears
at dusk, and the same raptures concerning the rising sun, which are
common to all suddenly transplanted cockneys, characterise our author's
description. He is disgusted because his men swear at his bullocks, but
admits, with grief, that swearing is, after all, a necessary evil. He
finds the same difficulty in using an axe that all town-bred gentlemen
have found from time immemorial, and his classical allusions to Tityrus,
Meliboeus, and Horace's Sabine farm, have been made with more or less
success by every "settler" of any pretensions to scholarship. But an
element enters into Dr. Ross's narrative which is wanting in that of the
Canadian back woodsman, or the Victorian "pioneer of civilisation." In
addition to straying bullocks and cursing bullock-drivers, Ross had
another experience. His servants were convicts, and their manners and
customs were not of the most elegant nature.

The spot he selected for his farm was about 56 miles from Hobart Town,
and was situated in the midst of a "howling wilderness." To reach it, a
pilgrimage had to be made with "assigned servants" as assistant
pilgrims. He purchased two carts, made to order, at a cost of 31 guineas
each, and with two bullock-teams and servants to match, set out from the
city. The first cart was filled with baggage, and in the second sat Mrs.
Ross and her family. The patriarch himself, sometimes walking, sometimes
riding, hovered like the parent bird around this ambulatory nest. The
day was oppressively hot, and before the cavalcade had proceeded two
miles, Mrs. Ross, tired of the jolting and the flies, determined to walk
a little. With the terrible exception of the nursemaid and the baby, the
party dismounted, and Ross told the drivers to "proceed slowly."
Instantly they cracked their whips, cursed the bullocks, and disappeared
over the brow of the hill. "I feel the exertion I made on that
occasion," says Ross, "at the moment I am writing . . . The hill was
steep enough and long enough to my conception. No attempt had then been
made to cut down the bank in order to lessen the acclivity. It was to my
mind as steep a ridge as any Dame Nature ever left upon her fair face.
What on earth was to be done? Was I to sit down by the roadside and
bemoan my fate, and the still worse uncertain fate of my torn-away
infant? No, such a course would have been unworthy of a man born beyond
the Tweed--of a man who had had the courage to transport himself. I
carried the younger of my two little ones under my right arm, led the
other by my left, and how I managed the 'Manton' I really cannot tell,
but if I remember right it was in several ways. At one time, carried by
the side of the younger child, I supported it across my arm; at another,
with a portion of the fingers of my right hand, while I led the elder
with the others. If the gun was not loaded I unquestionably was, and to
all appearance with destruction too. The weight which neas escaped with
from the flames of Troy was quite light compared with mine; for after a
few steps accomplished in this manner, my anxiety to get to the summit
of the hill, from whence I thought I might at least see the direction
the carts were taking, or perhaps discover some stranger, though only an
aboriginal, who would run after them, induced me to carry my eldest born
also in my right arm--and now the difficulty of the Manton was greater
than ever. It is almost as impracticable for me to recollect how I did
it as it was then to carry it. To the best of my memory, I contrived to
support it in the loop of my shot-belt, stuffed, as the latter was, as
full of heavy shot as it could hold, while I balanced the other end
under my arm-pit or my chin. I was pacing it along all the time,
however, as fast as my legs could carry me. I perspired at every
pore--my strength was tried to the utmost."

Surmounting the rise at last, however, he found the drays upset, and the
nursemaid in a state of unwonted hilarity. This lady was a convict, and
had but one eye. She consigned all the settlers in the colony to a place
which Ross suggestively hints is "warmer than Siberia." This
hand-maiden--like a transported Miriam--burst into jubilee. "Free men,"
she vowed, "had no business in Van Diemen's Land. It was not meant for
them. It belonged, ay, and should belong, to prisoners only! It was
their country, and their country it should be. Ducks and green peas for
ever! Hurrah !" This sudden outburst somewhat astonished the good
doctor, and the behaviour of the nymph was still more astonishing. "As
she spoke, her hands followed the direction that her animated eye
pointed to in the joyous regions above--she did not certainly wave her
hat, because she had not one to wave, and her Dunstable bonnet had just
received a new shape from the impression of the cart-wheel under which
it had fallen. But she waved her hand in the joy of her heart, and would
have sent my then only son and heir to perdition, never to inherit the
noble estate on the romantic banks of the Shannon, had not his mother
happily caught him by the clothes, while the rump of my newly-bought
gigantic bullock 'Strawberry' saved his little head from dashing on the

The cause was soon apparent. A bottle of rum which Ross had, "for his
stomach's sake," conserved in the bottom of the dray, had been espied by
the single eye of his Hobart Town exportation, and she had drunk it
silently alone. Hinc illoe lucrimoe!

There is no need to expatiate upon the "assignment system." Suffice to
say, that its main feature was the employment of the abilities of
convicts in that groove in which they were best fitted to run. Any free
settler who desired a servant could, by complying with certain
conditions, hire a well-conducted convict from the superintendent's
office. The master clothed and fed this man, and the man worked without
pay for the master. Unluckily, it often happened that, to speak
metaphorically, the round man got into the square hole. Cooks were hired
as wood-cutters, poachers as cooks. Petty thieves, whose soft hands had
touched nothing harder than a handkerchief or a watch-chain, were sent
to grub roots and drive bullocks; while the accomplished valet, whose
skill in hairdressing was the boast of Portman-square, and whose
adroitness in assisting at the compound fracture to the seventh
commandment rivalled that of Leporello himself, was too often condemned
to hew wood and draw water for the use of some commonplace person, who
never had intrigued with another man's wife in the whole course of his
plebeian existence. Hobart Town society was composed at that period of
but three classes--free settlers, and that male and female creation
which are proverbially said to have populated Yorkshire. The "condition
of things" was the most primitive in the world. Literature, as might be
expected, was at a discount.

"It will appear strange," interjects Ross, "but it is no less true, the
Hobart Town Gazette and Van Diemen 's Land General Advertiser, printed
once a fortnight on one leaf, sometimes of white, sometimes of coloured
paper, as Mr. Bent happened to get it, was at that time the only species
of periodical literature which the colony could boast. It contained,
however, a very full and circumstantial account of the goods for sale in
the town, and the various articles that had arrived from England or
elsewhere, and afforded me considerable assistance. It detailed the
measures of Government, the appointments of public officers, general
notices and regulations, agricultural meetings, and indeed almost
everything which a settler required or wished to know. Nevertheless it
had no more claim to compete with the newspapers of the present day than
Tom Thumb has with Tom Paine. Up to the time I am speaking of, and some
years after, there was not a word of slander or defamation put in print
in the colony, unless, indeed, the announcements of the Provost Marshal
or Sheriff of that period, injurious as they sometimes were to people's
credit, could be called so. The 'free press,' or great fourth
estate--the palladium of Englishmen and Van Diemen's Land men too, as it
is justly and proudly called--had scarcely come into being in the
colony, when a fifth power, 'the abuse of the press,' paramount of all
others, such is the rapidity of advancement in new countries, was almost
simultaneously created."

Good Doctor Ross, I may observe, in parenthesis, is a little warm on
this point. Governor Arthur having been handsomely abused by Mr.
Melville, took away from that too out-spoken writer the Government
printing, and gave it to our author. Ross being Government publisher,
and a Scotchman, had more sense than to risk his position. He "went with
the tide," and supported the Government of the day by taking occasion
now and then to give poor Melville a sly dig in the editorial ribs. As

"By the sanction of one of the slanderous journals with which this
literary colony now abounds, you may enter the house of the most retired
individual--you may turn his dwelling inside out--you may fill it with
anything you like, or strip it to the bare walls--you may backbite
himself, his wife, and his children--make his servants insult instead of
serving him--give him a large nose or no nose at all, just as it suits
your convenience--his castle shall or shall not be his castle, agreeably
to your will and pleasure. Never on earth was power more supreme or
despotic--the Imperial Parliament must submit and give way to its
domination, and even Majesty itself must bend if you choose to write
home with the consent and concurrence of this glorious, this tremendous
autocratic, political association press !"

At the time at which he first landed, however, the "Press" was not in
existence. That great engine for the blowing off of private steam not
being yet established, the residents of the city were forced to vent
their private malice in manuscript. "These were the days of 'pipes.'
Certain supposed home truths or lively descriptions were indited in
clear and legible letters on a piece of paper, which was then rolled up
in the form of a pipe, and being held together by twisting at one end,
was found at the door of the person intended to be instructed on its
first opening in the morning."

Nor was the expression of private opinion confined to personalities. A
considerable dislike towards the country itself was manifested. Sydney
was the place, and nothing but Sydney. Any person who settled in Van
Diemen's Land was looked upon as but little better than a madman. The
same objections were urged by the same class of people who urge similar
objections now.

"Sydney was the only place. Why don't you go on to Sydney, sir! There is
nothing but oppression here. The colony is ruined, sir. There is not
even a drop of good water in the whole island, sir. It is all alum; you
will be poisoned if you stop here, sir."

Having crossed the solitary vale of Bagdad, and camped at
Constitution-hill, bogged his bullocks and lost them, Ross at last
reached the "desolate spot" on which his future home was to be built.
His preparations for permanent residence were rapid. He cut down some
poles and made a "wigwam," and dwelling in this wigwam for some weeks,
set boldly to work to construct a "slab hut," in the midst of a
landscape which he thought would have afforded scope for the employment
of the pencil of Morland, and "does now, I trust," says he, "to the
equally immortal one of my friend Mr. Glover." The "hut" was built after
the following manner:--

"Having first erected a snug hut for my men, with a good sleeping-loft
above--which was very easily done by making the frame proportionately
higher, and laying a floor of thinly-split logs neatly across the
joists--I added a very good kitchen, with a fireplace almost as big as a
small room behind, a storeroom, a bedroom for my children, with two
pretty little four-pane windows looking on the river, a study with a
long bench or desk, which served as a library, a workshop, a schoolroom,
and spare bedroom by turns (this place had three little windows to it,
was lined with shelves all round, stuffed full of old books), a small
apartment for my nursemaid and youngest child, and a verandah with a
porch in the centre, supported on four real Doric columns, formed of
equal-sized barrels of trees set upright with flutes and other carving
of bark as nature gave them. They were, though I say it myself, very
pretty, and gave my cottage, with very little trouble, an unassuming,
but comfortable, rural appearance. I lathed the whole, inside and out;
and with the help of the sand and loam which I found at my door, mixed
with chopped grass, I gave it two coats of plaster, that hardened and
stuck, and sticks to this day, for aught I know, as well as any stucco.
My two principal rooms were moreover nicely ceiled up to the rafters in
the roof, giving them a lofty and arched appearance. They were 14ft. or
15ft. high in the centre, and the arching had this advantage, that it
lessened the downward pressure, and saved it from falling, as I have
known ceilings in houses of far higher pretensions often do--and
especially at the most inopportune times, when the fumes of the dinner
on the table informed the treacherous though blind mortar that the
guests were assembled below. There was a very beautiful grass plat or
lawn, of two or three acres in extent, a little to the right in front of
my cottage, and elevated not more than two yards above the margin of the
river. I took a great deal of pains with this little spot. I fenced it
very carefully round, in connection with my garden and lawn that fronted
my cottage, with good 6ft. paling on all sides, except towards the
river, which of itself was a sufficient fence; besides that the opposite
side overhung the stream, as I have said, with beautiful, basaltic,
perpendicular rocks, with here and there a tuft of flowering shrubs
growing out from the crevices. A long straight path, of four yards in
width, stretched from end to end, on the borders of which grew several
English flowers, from seeds I had brought with me, intermixed with
indigenous ones collected from the bush."

But the settler's life was not a bed of roses. Bushrangers and blacks
swarmed about him, and the immigrant was often shot dead on the
threshold of that home which he had but just snatched from the
wilderness. Yet, if the blacks were well treated, they were not
invariably treacherous. Ross says, having began with kindness, he found
that good feeling continued; and that confidence once inspired, the
natives behaved with civility. "They never once committed the smallest
trespass or annoyance on my farm, and during the five or six years that
elapsed between their final removal by Mr. G. A. Robinson to Flinders
Island, and the time of my own removal with my own family to Hobart
Town, while the most dreadful outrages were committed by them all round,
they never once attacked my farm, or any one belonging to it."

But the bushrangers were of a different nature. John Cook, Ross's
assigned servant, is a good example of the class. This fellow was surly,
drunken, and obstructive, and after enduring his ill-humours for some
time, poor Ross returned him to the hands of the Government. Three days
after he was with his new employer he absconded, and was strongly
suspected of being concerned in a murder and robbery perpetrated in the
neighbourhood. Some weeks after this Ross missed a gun, ammunition, and
an iron pot from his hut; and two days afterwards, on visiting his
shepherd's, saw Cook, armed with the stolen weapon, sneak out of the
back door. Ten days afterwards, a party of the 48th, who were out
"bushranger hunting," caught sight of him, and then he disappeared. "I
never more heard of him alive," says Ross; "but about a year after, a
skeleton, which some articles of dress, especially the kangaroo jacket,
with the iron pot and tin pot he had stolen from me, identified as the
remains of poor Cook, and a gun-shot entering under his left blade bone
showed clearly how he met his death. The gun and shot-belt were taken
away, and his miserable bones had been picked bare by the wretched
crows, the self-same, I doubt not, whose foreboding croaking had been so
untimely disregarded both by him and me in the gum-trees, while we lay
beside our swamped cart before dawn on the banks of the Fat Doe river. I
learned from very good though confidential authority some time after,
that this poor misguided man having on one or two occasions for a small
reward aided and assisted a sheep-stealer who possessed some pasture
land between the Shannon and the Clyde, and was acquainted with his
delinquencies, had subsequently shown some little symptoms of
disapprobation of a small sheep robbery committed by the same
individual, being a neighbour, on my own flock, and in consequence a
schism or quarrel ensued. The sheep-stealer then became uneasy from the
fear of Cook on some future occasion coming forward or being called on,
should detection and a trial ensue, to give evidence against him. He and
another associate had resolved, as they had already 'put aside,' as it
is colonially called, one poor man similarly circumstanced as to a
knowledge of their doings, to join him once more in the bush under a
cloak of friendship, and by sending him unawares and unprepared out of
the world, to deprive him of all power to give evidence against them in
a witness-box."

The "name and fame" of Cook continued, however, for several years
afterwards, and existed in 1836 in the "Runaway List," published in
Hobart Town and Bow-street.

Apropos of the death of Cook, Ross tells a story of the untimely end of
a friend of his, which, as an illustration of the "manners of the age,"
is curious enough. Riding over one day to this man's house, the doctor
was surprised to find him "salting down the carcases of six sheep, which
he had just killed. He said it was a very convenient plan, as it saved
time, and obviated the necessity of bringing home the flock, to kill one
every second day for the use of the family. Besides, he added, the six
sheep's heads and plucks served his people for more than a day, as,
though they would throw away one head or give it to the dogs, they could
not have the face to waste a whole half-dozen at a time. I was simple
and unsuspecting enough to believe there was some convenience in his
plan, though it was not great enough to induce me ever to adopt it. The
same individual, however, was afterwards tried for stealing a whole
flock of about 400 sheep, convicted, and executed with several other bad
characters and bushrangers at Hobart Town. I stood at the bottom of the
ladder as he mounted to the seaffold. He had his arms pinioned behind
his back, and after stooping his head to suck a Sydney orange, which he
was unable otherwise to reach to his mouth, he placed it by a rose which
he held in his other hand, and shaking hands with me, he wished me
farewell, saying, as he looked in my face with a most altered
countenance, which I shall never forget, 'Oh, sir! this is the happiest
day I ever bad in my life.'"

Amid such scenes did the first ten years of our "pioneer's" settlement
pass. Each day, however, brought an increase of civilisation, and, says
happy Ross, "I now saw my way fair before me. My flocks and herds were
rapidly increasing; I could readily sell the former at a pound a head,
and the latter from 8 to 10. Every day was adding something to the
value of my estate, and the efforts which the Government was making to
put down the aggressions of both the black and white invaders of life
and property, although yet abortive, I looked forward with every hope to
be at last, as they have since proved, triumphantly successful."


ON the 9th of August, 1829, the "Cyprus," a vessel which was employed by
the Government of Van Diemen's Land to carry prisoners from Hobart Town
to Macquarie Harbour, was seized by the convicts and carried into the
South Seas.

The story is a romantic one, and if it does not equal in interest the
story of the capture of the "Frederick," of which I shall by-and-by have
occasion to speak, it is remarkable as showing the condition of convict
discipline in the early days of the colony.

Macquarie Harbour--abandoned in 1833--was in these days the Ultima Thule
of convict settlement. Established in 1821 by Governor Sorrell as a
station for the most irreclaimable of the desperadoes who were sent in
shiploads from England, the discipline had gradually increased in
severity until it became a hideous terrorism, which often drove its
victims to seek death as a means of escape. The picture of the place, as
drawn by Mr. Backhouse, the missionary who visited it in 1832, is most
dismal. The scenery is wild and barren, the scrub and undergrowth
impenetrable, and from the swampy ground around the settlement arises
noisome and death-dealing exhalations. The surf beating with violence on
the rocky shore renders approach difficult; and the westerly winds
blowing with fury into the harbour, opposes sometimes for days the
departure of the convict vessels.

This place was the last home--but one--of the felon. Once sent to "the
Hell," as the abode of doom was termed by the prisoners, return was all
but hopeless. The iron-bound coast, the dismal and impassable swamps,
the barren and rugged mountain ranges, combined to render escape
impossible. Of the many unfortunates who made the attempt to regain
their freedom, all save some eight or nine died or were retaken. The
life of a convict at this hideous place of punishment was one continual
agony. In those times, the notion of reclaiming human creatures by
reason and kindness was unknown. Condemned for life to the
settlement--often for small offences against discipline--the miserable
beings were cut off from the world for ever. The commandant--usually
some worthy officer selected from the regiment then in Van Diemen's Land
for his severity or strength of will--dealt with the men under his
charge as the humour took him. The guard was always under arms, and had
orders to fire on any man who attempted to escape. The lash was the
punishment most in vogue, but those wretches whose hardened hides the
cat had cut into insensibility were marooned on rocks within view of the
prison barracks. The work was constant and exhausting. Robbers,
murderers, and forgers, told off into gangs, felled the gigantic trees
which grew in the neighbourhood of the harbour. Chained together like
beasts, and kept in activity by the rarely idle lash, they bore the logs
to the water-side on their backs. Every now and then some feebler
ruffian would fall from exhaustion, and the chain would drag him after
the main body until he rose again. A visitor to the place in 1831 says
that he saw "something which he took for a gigantic centipede, which
moved forward through the bush to the clanking of chains and the
cracking of the overseer's whip." This was a log borne by a convict
gang. Treated like beasts, the men lived the life of beasts. All the
atrocities that men could commit were committed there. Suicide was
frequent. Men drowned themselves to be rid of the burden of their
existence. Three wretches once drew lots as to who should get a sight of
Hobart Town. One was to murder the other, and the third was to volunteer
his evidence. The lottery was drawn, the doomed man laughed ere his
companion beat out his brains, and the two survivors congratulated each
other on their holiday on the scaffold of Hobart Town gaol.

To this place Lieutenant Carew, with ten soldiers, set out to convey
thirty-one prisoners. As not infrequently happened, the weather proved
unfavourable, and the vessel put into Recherche Bay for shelter. The
prisoners were all desperate men. Two of them had been before at "Hell's
Gates," and detailed the horrors of the place to their companions. In
the semi-darkness of the lower deck, where, chained in gangs of four,
the miserable wretches speculated on their doom, it was proposed to
seize the ship. A prisoner named Fergusson was the ringleader. "At the
worst," said he, "it is but death; and which of us wishes to live?" But
the others were not so bold. Degraded by the chain and the lash, they
yet clung to life as the one thing the law had not yet taken from them.
There were wooden bars studded with nails fastened across their prison,
and two sentinels with loaded arms kept watch at the hatchway. How could
they--unarmed, weak, and chained--hope to succeed? But with Fergusson
was a man named Walker, who had been a sailor, and he urged them on.
"Once free, he could navigate the ship to China!" Six times did the
trembling wretches essay the struggle with the soldiers, and six times
did their courage fail them. At last a favourable opportunity presented

Lying at anchor in the channel, with the land in sight, life on board
the ship became tedious even to the officers. Lieutenant Carew,
confident in his soldiers and their muskets, thought he would take a
little fishing excursion. His wife was on board, but, for some reason or
other, refused to accompany him. The surgeon, however, was eager for
some amusement, and taking with them a soldier and convict, the two
lowered a boat and went into the bay.

It was the custom to bring the men on deck by sixes and sevens for
exercise, and it so happened that on this morning it was the turn of
Fergusson and Walker's gang. Fergusson, Walker, Pennell, M'Kan, Jones,
and another, came up in their double irons, and clanked up and down
under the supervision of the loaded muskets. Fergusson saw his
chance--if ever he was to get it--had come now. "Now is your time,
lads," he cried; "the captain's away; there are but the two men on
deck." Sulkily eyeing the muskets, Pennell and M'Kan refused. "You have
failed me six times," cried Fergusson with an oath. "If you don't join
me now, I'll inform of your former plots." This threat terrified them
into compliance. A rush was made. The two soldiers idly staring over the
bulwarks were knocked down before they could fire their muskets. The
hatchway was secured, and knocking off their irons, the six were masters
of the ship.

But the captain and soldiers below did not intend to surrender without a
struggle. They fired up the hatchway, but without effect, and the other
prisoners burst their nailed bars and joined their companions. A parley
now ensued, the convicts promising to spare the lives of the soldiers if
they gave up their arms. A volley was the only answer, and then two
prisoners, by Fergusson's directions, got buckets of boiling water from
the galley and poured them down the hatchway. Panic-stricken by the
knowledge that thirty desperate men were at liberty on the deck, and
that the seizure of the vessel was only a matter of time, the scalded
soldiers surrendered and passed up their arms.

Carew and the surgeon heard the firing, and came back with all speed to
the vessel. Standing in the stern-sheets, as the two rowers ran the boat
alongside, he commanded the mutineers to return to their prison. A gun
presented at his head was the not unnatural reply. Fergusson, however,
had ordered the priming of the soldiers' pieces to be wetted before they
were handed up, and the gun missed fire. Now began another parley.
Carew, anxious, doubtless, for the safety of his wife, promised that if
the men would give up the ship he would say nothing of their conduct to
the authorities at Hell's Gates; but the easily-won liberty was too
sweet to be resigned so easily. Confident in his own power, Fergusson
told the mutineers that he could navigate the vessel to some foreign
port, where they could defy the wrath of the Governor and the
commandant. The prospect of the sheds and the cat, as contrasted with
freedom and China, was not too tempting. As might have been expected,
they refused.

A muster was now held upon the deck, and Fergusson formally called upon
the convicts to join him. All but thirteen consented, and one of the
sailors, possibly an exconvict himself, threw in his lot with the
mutineers. Boats were lowered, and the soldiers and the thirteen were
landed by the now armed convicts on the barren coast. With a generosity
which to those acquainted with convict customs will seem somewhat
strange, Mrs. Carew, with her children, was restored to her husband
unharmed. Secure of safety, Fergusson ordered rations to be given to his
late masters, and recommended them to make overland for Hobart Town.
"The land party," says Mr. Bonwick, "received 60 lbs. of biscuit, 20
lbs. of flour, 20 lbs. of sugar, 4 lbs. of tea, and 6 gals. rum." The
boats were taken back to the ship and hauled on board, and returning to
their vessel the mutineers gave three cheers for their bloodless

After a hearty supper and a pannikin of rum apiece, the seventeen set to
work to organise their future plans. Some were for China, some for
India, and two men proposed to go to one of the islands of the South
Seas, sink the ship, and settle among the friendly islanders. After some
talk, however, it was resolved to make for the Friendly Isles, where
those who chose could remain.

With provisions for six months for 400 men, arms, ammunition, and a
sailor captain, the mutineers felt that fortune had befriended them at
last. A mid one knows not what wild thoughts of future liberty, the
night passed rapidly away, and at daylight the next morning the marooned
Carew and his companions saw the "Cyprus" spread her sails, and move
slowly out of the harbour.

Then began the sufferings of the conquered party. They were on a
desolate part of the coast; impenetrable scrub and impassable mountain
ranges lay, for many a weary mile, between them and Hobart Town. It was
impossible to communicate with the settlement at Macquarie Harbour; the
country on that side was even more desolate and barren than on the
other. Communication between the two places was most rare, and effected
by that very ship which was now bearing the escaped party in safety to
the South Seas. The only hope was that some passing vessel, either
driven by stress of weather or urged by want of water, would put into
the channel and take them off. The party in all consisted of more than
40 souls, and their slender stock of provision melted away like snow in
the sun. Mr. Carew showed his courage. He apportioned out the victuals
in equal shares, keeping the rum as a last resource. The soldiers were
divided into watches, and he himself took his turn with the rest. Day
after day passed with the same monotony of silence. The allowance of
provisions was decreased, and despair began to sit heavily on their
hearts. From east to west, from north to south, their haggard eyes
turned in vain. "The blaze upon the waters to the east, The blaze upon
the island overhead, The blaze upon the waters to the west, Then the
great stars that globed themselves in heaven, The hollower-bellowing
ocean, and again The scarlet shafts of sunrise, but no sail."

At last hunger broke through discipline. Two men set off overland for
Hobart Town, but, frightened at the perils before them, and menaced by
hostile natives, returned. Five more attempted to head the Huon, and
after coming near to death, were rescued. The others remained waiting
for death.

Desperate, and with but two days' provisions left, Popjoy, a convict,
determined to try and make a boat. Assisted by a man named Morgan, he
framed a sort of coracle of young wattle trees, and covered it with
sailcloth. Over this a mixture of soap and resin was poured, to keep out
the water. After many failures, the thing floated. It was twelve feet
long, and propelled by paddles. During the last two days of its
construction the party were without food. In this rude craft Carew
embarked the remnant of his party, and, hoping against hope, got out to
sea. Luckily, at a distance of twenty miles, they fell in with the
"Oxelia," and the poor fellows were brought safely to Hobart Town. Carew
was tried by court martial, and honourably acquitted. Popjoy, who had
been transported when eleven years old for stealing a hare, received a
free pardon, and returned to England.

In the meantime the "Cyprus" was running for the Friendly Islands. The
mutineers had chosen officers for themselves. Walker was captain;
Fergusson, "dressed up in Carew's best uniform," lieutenant; and Jones
mate. The days passed quickly by, liberty seemed before them, and all
were in high spirits. Getting out of their course, however, they came to
Japan. Here, in spite of Fergusson's orders, seven deserted, and cast in
their lot with the natives of that lovely spot. Fergusson went on, but
seems to have begun to lose his prestige among the men. One Swallow, a
seaman and convict, now appears to have assumed the command. This fellow
seems to have been both powerful and intelligent. He was originally
transported from England for rioting, but on the way out saved the ship
at the hazard of his life. Allowed to roam the deck and assist the
sailors, he contrived to enlist their sympathies, and when the transport
arrived in Hobart Town they hid him in the lower deck and the vessel
sailed away with him. The crew gave him rations. Despite a rigorous
search, he was not found until after some weeks. The captain landed him
at Rio, and he was soon again in London. There an old companion
"peached" upon him, and he was sent back to Van Diemen's Land. Half way
to Hell's Gates, the mutiny restored him once more to freedom. To this
man was the charge of the vessel entrusted, and he took her to China. On
the way a boat with the name of "Edward" on its stern was seized, and
Swallow, knowing that he could not account for the "Cyprus," determined
to try a new plan. There was a sextant in the cabin which had on it the
name "Waldron," and with that and the boat Swallow laid his plot.
Abandoning the vessel, he appeared, with three others, as "shipwrecked
sailors." Swallow affected to be Captain Waldron, and exhibited his
sextant as a proof of his story. The English merchants in Canton got up
a subscription for them, and paid their passage home. Suspicion,
however, was excited by the appearance of four more of the party, who
did not know the captain's name, but said "Wilson" for "Waldron."
Swallow, trapped again, was at his wit's end. Arrived in London, the
party were brought before the Thames Police Court, where a few days
before a curious incident occurred.

Popjoy, having been landed by the mercy of the Crown in London, was cast
upon the streets to find his way to gaol or starvation. Imprisoned from
eleven years old, and knowing nothing save how to roll logs and cringe
to the lash, the returned convict had taken to begging round about the
docks. Begging, like stealing, was a crime, and he was brought before
the Thames Police Court. There he told the story of the mutiny and the

Though there was not criminating evidence, the appearance of "Captain
Waldron" was somewhat strange, and the story of poor Popjoy--who had
been honoured with several paragraphs in the newspaper
town-talk--recurred to the mind of the bench. The suspected men were
remanded. This remand cost three of them their lives.

Strangely enough, a Mr. Capon, who had been gaoler at Hobart Town, was
in London, and, attracted by the report of the case, he strolled down to
the police court. One glance was enough; Swallow, Watt, and Davis were
detected at once, and the whole party committed for trial.

Watt and Davis, tried as pirates and escaped felons, were hung in
London. Swallow and the rest were sent back to Hobart Town. One was hung
at the gaol, and the rest sent back to Hell's Gates for life. Swallow
managed to escape the death penalty, and went back to the chain. Twice
more he tried to escape, but in vain. At last the weight of his doom
broke his spirit, and he submitted to his fate. He worked in his irons
for life, and died--still in yellow livery--at Port Arthur, a melancholy
instance of a brave man crushed into brutality by a senseless system of

Five years later Popjoy died also. He made some endeavour to procure a
pension from the Government, and only waited the arrival of documents
from Hobart Town, formally attesting his services to Lieutenant Carew,
to obtain it. In the meantime he obtained a seaman's berth in a
merchant-vessel, married, and seemed to have lived respectably. Coming
from Quebec in a timber ship, however, he was wrecked off Boulogne.
Taking to the boats, the crew made for the shore, but the sea was
running with great violence, and Popjoy, with another, was washed
overboard and drowned, and so never got his "pension" after all.


FIVE years after the seizure of the "Cyprus" it was resolved that
Macquarie Harbour should be abandoned.

The difficulty of access and the barren nature of the surrounding
country combined to render the spot inadequate to the growing
necessities of the colony. Prisoners were arriving in shiploads, and it
was necessary to find for them some more convenient place of settlement.
Moreover, Governor Arthur seemed to have learnt that his officers were
too far from his control. Rumours of gross abuse of power among the
resident officers were current in Hobart Town, and public attention was
particularly excited by the revelations incident upon the execution of
two men for the murder of their companion, "in order to get a holiday."
The accounts of the conduct of the establishment were perhaps highly
coloured, but sufficiently true in the main to cause Arthur's
resolutions to be universally applauded.

I have already given some description of the settlement itself; let me
here add an account of the voyage to it. In 1832, James Backhouse, the
good Quaker missionary, to whose simply-written narrative I have before
referred, visited "Hell's Gates" in the Government brig "Tamar." "There
were in the cabin," he says--

"John Burn, the captain for the voyage, Henry Herberg, the mate, David
Hoy, a ship's carpenter, Jno. A. Manton, George W. Walker, and myself.
Ten private soldiers and a sergeant, as a guard, occupied a portion of
the hold, in which there were also provisions for the penal settlement,
and a flock of sheep. Two soldiers' wives and five children were in the
midships. Twelve seamen, several of whom were convicts, formed the crew;
and eighteen prisoners under sentence to the penal settlement completed
the ship's company. The last occupied a gaol, separated from the hold by
wooden bars, filled with nails, and accessible only from the deek by a
small hatchway. One of the soldiers on guard stood constantly by this
hatchway, which was secured by three bolts across the opening; two
walked the deck, the one on one side returning with his face toward the
prison at the time the other was going in the opposite direction; and
two were in the hold, seated in view of the gaol. The prisoners wore
chains, and only two of them were allowed to come on deck at a time for
air; these were kept before the windlass, and not allowed to converse
with the seamen. This was rigidly observed in consequence of two of
these men having, at a former period, been parties in the seizure of a
vessel named the 'Cypress' (sic) making the same voyage, which was
carried off to the coast of China or Japan. . . . The gaol occupied by
these men was not high enough for them to stand erect in, but they could
stretch themselves on the floor, on which they slept, being each
furnished with a blanket."

When the vessel, after a tedious voyage, had reached the entrance to the
harbour, the main difficulty of the passage really commenced. The
Doom-rock lay within the jaws of a sandy, barren bight, and the
"league-long rollers" of the Southern Ocean broke unchecked upon the
bar. For some time the "Tamar" stood on and off this dangerous channel,
unwilling to risk an entrance. "At length," says the missionary--

"When about to run back for shelter to Port Davey we were descried, and
a signal to enter was hoisted. We immediately stood in, and in a few
minutes the opportunity to return was past. The pilot put off, knowing
better than ourselves our danger; his boat could only be seen now and
then above the billows; but he was soon alongside, and ordered all the
sails to be squared, so that we might go right before the wind. On
coming on board, he commanded the women and children below, and then
came to me, and advised me to go below also. I replied, that if we were
lost I should like to see the last of it, for the sight was awfully
grand. Laying hold of a rope at the stern, he said, 'Then put your arm
round this rope, and don't speak a word.' To my companion he gave
similar instructions, placing him at the opposite quarter. A man was
sent into the chains on each side with the sounding lead. The pilot went
to the bows, and nothing was now to be heard through the roar of the
wind and waves but his voice calling to the helmsman, the helmsman's
answer, and the voices of the men in the chains, counting off the
fathoms as the water became shallower. The vessel was cast alternately
from one side to the other, to prevent her sticking on the sand, in
which case the billows would have run over her, and have driven her upon
a sandbank a mile from the shore, on which they were breaking with fury.
The fathoms decreased, and the men counted off the feet, of which we
drew seven and a half, and there were but seven in the hollow of the
sea, until they called out eleven feet. At this moment a huge billow
carried us forward on its raging head into deep water. The pilot's
countenance relaxed; he looked like a man reprieved from under the
gallows, and coming up, shook hands with each individual, congratulating
them on a safe arrival in Macquarie Harbour."

Such was the place that it was at last determined to abandon, and in
1834 orders came to break up the settlement.

The commandant, Major Baylee, 63rd Regiment, embarked the prisoners in a
vessel sent specially for them, and accompanied them to Hobart Town,
leaving behind him a man named Taw, who was the pilot at the settlement,
to complete the work of demolition, and bring away such matters as might
have been overlooked in the hurry of the departure of the main body.

Taw was in command of the "Frederick," a brig that had been built at the
settlement, and he had as a crew, Mr. Hoy, the shipwright, a man named
Tate, and ten convicts, together with a guard of three soldiers and a
corporal. The names of the ten--as given in their own narrative, written
while under sentence of death in Hobart Town--were John Barker, Charles
Lyons, James Lesly, James Porter, Benjamin Russen, John Dady, William
Cheshire, William Shiers, John Fair, and John Jones. The narrative was
printed in William Gore Elliston's Hobart Town Almanack and Van Diemen's
Land Annual for 1838, and forms the basis of this twice-told tale.

On the 11th of January, 1834, everything of value had been placed on
board the brig, and the prisoners received the intelligence that the
next day they would weigh ancher, and leave Hell's Gates for ever. One
of the prisoners, however, was still "in confinement." His name was
Charles Lyons, and he had been imprisoned for insubordination. Two
convicts and Taw released him and brought him aboard. That night, in the
prisoner's berth, Lyons gave vent to his wrath, and inveighed against
the tyranny of Taw. He probably guessed what awaited him in Hobart Town.

The next day was spent in running to the bar and back, the heavy sea
outside rendering dangerous any attempt to pass the gates. On the
morning of the 12th, at daybreak, Taw ordered out the whaleboat and went
to "sound the bar," returning with the news that it was yet dangerous,
but that if the tide abated towards evening he would risk it.

Now the evils of forced inaction began to show. The men grumbled. They
should have been well on their way to Hobart Town and civilisation. Why
keep them still in sight of their dismal prison-house? Doubtless with a
view to employing them, Taw gave permission for the men to go ashore and
wash their clothes. All went except Hoy's servant, and while on shore a
plot was concocted.

At half-past three p.m. the men returned, and the corporal, a soldier,
and a prisoner took the whaleboat and went fishing, so that besides the
nine convicts in the forecastle, were only Taw, Hoy, and his servant in
the cabin, and Tate and two soldiers on deck. One of the
convicts--Porter, the narrator of the story--began to sing, and a
soldier came below to listen. While he listened, Lesly, Cheshire,
Russen, Fair, and Barker stole up the hatchway.

The mate and soldier were noiselessly seized, and Cheshire going down
the aft deck, passed up the muskets. The song still continued, and the
soldier, with the disaffected Lyons on one side and Dady on the other,
listened with increased attention. Suddenly, a prisoner came down the
hatchway and trod upon the toe of Shiers. This was the signal. Shiers
presented his fist in the astonished dilettante's face, and Dady and
Lyons seized him and "made him fast." Shiers and Lyons then rushed upon
deck, leaving the prisoner with Porter and Dady below.

Porter--who, by his own account, was unwilling to join the
mutiny--endeavoured to force up the hatch, but presently it was opened
from above, and the other soldier and Tate were sent down bound, and he,
Dady, and Jones got upon deck. Fair, who seems to have assumed the
command, ordered the hatch to be secured, and placed Porter over it as a
guard, while Lesly and Russen, armed with the soldiers' muskets,
stationed themselves at the companion.

Though accomplished with as little noise as possible, the mutiny had
roused Taw and Hoy, and they endeavoured to force their way on deck.
Lesly and Russen, however, beat them back, but did not fire. All was
silent for a while until Cheshire, creeping to the skylight, tore it up,
crying--"Here they are! Surrender! Surrender!"

Fair and Barker snatched up their arms, and four muskets were levelled
down the skylight.

Crouched out of reach of the muskets, the captain and Hoy gave no reply,
and then some one of the mutineers fired. Shiers rushed to the skylight.
"Are you going to commit murder?" he cried. "No, no," replied they; "it
can be done without."

Shiers then called upon Taw and Hoy to surrender, promising to spare
their lives.

"My life be the forfeit if we injure you," said he; "we only want our
liberty." Then the two came on deck. Hoy asked who was to command the

"I am," says Barker, "and with the crew I'll navigate her round the

Hoy then, as did Carew before, promised to say nothing of the escapade
if they would give up the brig. Barker laughed.

"That isn't likely," said he. "We got her, and we'll keep her--liberty
is what we mean to have."

Shiers and Barker then asked the prisoners if they wanted anything from
out their boxes, as they were going to put them ashore, and allowed them
to go down into the cabin and take what they thought proper, only
refusing Hoy his pocket pistols. They were then put into the jolly-boat,
together with the mate and the two soldiers; a bottle of rum was given
to Taw, whose hands were tied, and two bottles of wine and a peajacket
to Hoy, "as he had been indisposed." Indeed the mutineers seem to have
behaved with much consideration and even generosity, priding themselves
on not abusing their newly-found liberty.

A musket fired over the stern brought the whaleboat alongside, and the
soldiers and the prisoners were ordered out of her into the jolly-boat.
The soldiers were then ordered to row the party ashore. Seven
mutineers--two pulling, one steering, and four armed with muskets as a
guard--accompanied them in the whaleboat. Having landed Taw and the
others, the jolly-boat was towed back to the ship, and a watch was set
all night to prevent surprise, so great was their dread of the resolute

Next morning a council of war was held as to the disposition of
provisions. Shiers--referring to the seizure of the "Cyprus," which
would seem to have made a great impression on the minds of
convictism--said, "Don't let this affair be like that one. Do not let us
leave them to starve, but share the provisions equally between us all.
Then when they reach head-quarters they can't say that we'd used them

The notion was deemed a good one; the meat was divided as nearly as
possible, also tea, sugar, flour, and biscuit; and Shiers, taking with
him another pair of shoes and bandages and plaister for Mr. Hoy, who
seems to have been a favourite, got out of the whaleboat and rowed to
the shore.

Hoy and two men received the stores, three of the mutineers standing
armed in the sternsheets to prevent the dreaded Taw from rushing the

Hoy then seems to have thanked them for the provisions, and, while
commenting upon the difficulty of the task before them, to have wished
them success in their enterprise. This at least is the statement of
Porter's narrative, but as that gentleman intersperses his story with
frequent addresses to Providence and reflections on the bounty of Heaven
unusual to convict minds, we may not unreasonably suppose that his
reported conversations are not given verbatim, and that a great deal of
rude language is omitted. Moreover, the poor devil was lying in Hobart
Town Gaol under sentence of death, and had a chaplain for his
amanuensis. Under such circumstances he was likely to restrain the
natural vigour of his descriptive powers.

Having been blessed--if we believe our convict--by the pious Hoy, a
touching adieu took place, and the mutineers returned to the brig. They
passed the morning in throwing overboard the light cargo which was in
the hold, and then ran out a small kedge anchor with about 100 fathoms
of line. The tide being slack, they kedged along until they came to the
Cap and Bonnet, and there observing an old whaleboat ashore they
destroyed it, lest it should offer means of pursuit to the terrible Taw.
It being calm they towed the "Frederick" in safety over the dangerous
bar, and a light breeze springing up from the south-east took her gaily
out to sea.

John Fair being "an experienced mariner," was made mate; but Barker, in
consideration of his superior sagacity and a smattering of navigation,
received the rank of captain. He, "with what few instruments he had,"
made preparation to take his departure from Birches Rock, and stating
that the course should be E.S.E., ordered the whaleboat to be stove in
and cast adrift, as there was no room on board for her. All sail was
then made; Fair and Lyons divided the men in watches, parting the seamen
with the landsmen, and "at eight p.m.," says Porter, "we set our first

At half-past nine that night came a heavy gale from the S.W., which
compelled them to run under close-reefed topsails. Shiers, Cheshire,
Russen, and Lesly were sea-sick, as was also John Barker, and the heavy
sea requiring two men at the helm, the others had their work cut out for

The morning dawned upon a raging sea and a cloudy sky. Lesly sounded the
well and found the hold three-parts full of water, and all hands were
set to the pumps. The gale lasted for two nights and a day, and then
moderated. But the convict-built vessel proved leaky, "occasioned
principally," says Porter, "by carrying such a press of canvas during
the gale," and only one pump could be got to work.

On the 16th, Barker, who still suffered from violent sea-sickness, took
a meridian, and altered the course of the vessel to E. by S., desiring
to "run to the southward of New Zealand, out of the track of shipping."
On the 20th a vast quantity of seaweed appeared, and the men grew
frightened, thinking they were running on land. Fair begged Barker to
come on deck and take an observation, urging the necessity of keeping
the crew in good heart. At first the poor fellow refused, vowing--as
many sea-sick mariners have done before and since--that the ship might
go to the bottom for all he could stir a hand to save her. By dint of
persuasion, however, he was got on deck, supported by two men, and
assured his followers that all was well, adding, "I can take you safe to
South America even though I had no quadrant aboard, by keeping a
dead-reckoning." At noon--still supported by his two assistants, like
Moses between the two Israelites--he took an observation, and shortly
afterwards sent up to inform the men that he would run to the south of
New Zealand, and not sight it, as had been his first intention.

So far so good; but by-and-by--the brig running eleven knots an hour
under closely-reefed topsails, and the pumps hard at work the whole
time--murmurs arose, and Barker not appearing on deck for nine days, a
deputation was sent to beg him to consider the position of the vessel.
Roused by this the "captain" came up, and though sick, made shift to
attend to his navigation. The weather, however, prevented him from
taking an observation until the 30th January, and on that day he altered
the course of the vessel to N. by E., being anxious "to make a landfall
between Chili and Valdivia."

The crew were now well-nigh exhausted. The old sailors had to do duty
for the raw hands, and to add to their distress it came on to blow
harder than they had yet experienced it. A white squall threw the brig
on her beam ends, and carried away the spanker boom; but notwithstanding
the leaky condition of the craft, Fair persisted in carrying on sail.
The more chicken-hearted began to despair of reaching land. They now
sighted a French whaler, hull down to windward, and desperate Barker
gave orders to get out the arms and make ready to defend the brig, in
case the stranger should bear down upon them. His precaution, however,
was not needed.

After nine days of rough weather the gale abated, and Fair, giving
orders to cross the topgallant yards and make sail, on the 25th of
February they made the South American coast, about an hour before dark.

Though all hands swore that there was land ahead, the impostor Barker
laughed at them, saying that he had kept the reckoning, and they were at
least "500 miles off the coast of Chili." Fair, however, put no faith in
his assertions, and gave orders to shorten sail. At daylight they found
a rocky shore close under their lee, and hauled off. Now Barker
condescended to be convinced, and at twelve o'clock informed the crew
that they were between Chili and Valdivia. This was the 24th February,
six weeks and a day from the time when the captured "Frederick" left
Hell's Gates.

Now arose a discussion as to the best course of action. Some advised
landing at once in the launch, others to creep along shore, while the
more prudent recommended that the brig should be abandoned, and that
they should coast in their boat in search of a landing-place. This plan
was at last adopted. The launch was a big, seaworthy boat; moreover, she
had been raised a plank higher, had been decked after a fashion, and
fitted with mast, boom, and a suit of sails, while the badweather cloth
that Taw had used for the whaleboat would answer the purpose of
bulwarks. Putting on board her the scanty remnant of provisions,
together with firearms, ammunition, and--notable item--a Government cat
that had unconsciously cast in its lot with theirs, four of them got
aboard the launch, and the others commenced to batten down the hatches
of the brig.

These amateur carpenters had indeed but little time to spare. The
pumping being stopped, they found four feet of water in the hold, and
hastily flinging over two breakers of water and such provisions as they
could scrape together, called the launch alongside, and got into her
without delay. It was time, for as the sun went down in a lowering and
angry sky, the ill-fated vessel that had brought them to freedom sank to
her channel plates, and the exhausted and toil-worn mutineers, hoisting
sail in the darkness, turned their backs upon her, and speeded towards
the wished-for but unknown shore.

The next day the miserable boat crew, drenched with water and shivering
with cold--they had been sitting by turns of four in the stern-sheets
all night, with their backs to the sea, to prevent the water from
swamping them--reached the coast. At three o'clock in the afternoon they
entered a small bay, and at half-past four came to anchor under the lee
of a barren reef. Some went ashore, but met with "no sign of human
habitation." They slept there that night, having set a watch of two men
in case of attack by wild beasts, and in the morning set to work to
gather shell-fish. Having made such a breakfast as this somewhat meagre
fare afforded, they again set sail, determining to make for a distant
point, in the hope of meeting with human beings. Reaching this point in
the afternoon, they found two strange, pyramidal-shaped rocks, and
running in between them, came upon a stream of fresh water. Near this
was a deserted Indian hut, but no "Indian;" and so, securing the boat
and setting a watch, the castaways passed the second night since the
abandonment of the brig.

All the next day they sailed from bay to bay in search of inhabitants,
and casting anchor in a little inlet at night, prepared to sup on a seal
which they had killed ere they started in the morning; but a heavy swell
arising carried their boat violently towards the rocks, and they were
compelled to use all exertions to keep her afloat. The next day passed
in the same fruitless quest. The wind blew hard, the boat leaked, the
coast seemed ironbound, and they held on their dismal course with
despairing hearts. Camping that night in a snug nook, the cat which they
had brought from the brig, and which had shared with them their scanty
provisions, made off into the woods. The next day was the 3rd
March--about eight weeks since they had seized the "Frederick"--and they
made sure that human habitations were close at hand. Running down the
coast all that day with a fresh breeze, they weathered a point which
John Barker said was "Tweedle-point," and ran for a bluff far down the
shore. Half-an-hour before dark they weathered the bluff, and made for
the beach, but not finding boat-anchorage coasted along until the sun
went down.

Their hearts began now to fail them. They had accomplished an almost
unparalleled escape. They had seized a prison-ship under the very noses
of the guards, and under all disadvantages had carried her out to sea,
sailed her successfully through an unknown ocean, made land just as she
could no longer be kept afloat, and were now about to perish when their
hopes seemed nearest to their fulfilment. The shore was barren and
rocky, night was closing in, they had no food, and they were miles from
succour. "Suddenly," says Porter, "we heard the bellowing of a bullock
on the shore." Did their ears deceive them? All held their breath to
hear the sound again. No, it was no deception--they were saved!

With renewed vigour they tugged at the oars, and rounding a low-lying
reef that projected into the black water, came in sight of large fires.
Against the glare of these fires--which had the appearance of blazing
rubbishheaps--gigantic shadows moved. These shadows were men and women.
Out of the darkness the escaped convicts hailed the shore, but received
for a reply only a confused murmur, which seemed to denote alarm. The
full swell of the ocean rolled in upon the rocky shore, and it was
impossible to land. So keeping out to sea, but still within sight of the
cheering fires, they let go their anchor in nineteen fathoms of water,
and lay outside the reefs waiting for the day.

All that night they kept awake, conversing on the chance of safety.
Perhaps the people they had seen were cannibals, perhaps pirates. At any
rate, they were human. When morning dawned they made all haste to land,
and mooring the boat to some seaweed, called to the Indians. These came
instantly, running down to the boat. They seem to have been Spanish
Indians, and informed Shiers that Valdivia was but three leagues
distant. The mutineers prudently refused to beach the boat, but Shiers
and four men, taking with them needles and thread and a loaded pistol,
jumped ashore, and followed the natives to their huts. In the meantime,
the boat was pushed off four lengths from the shore, to guard against
any attempt that might be made to seize her. By-and-by Shiers returned,
and then the other five landed. They found the Indians very friendly and
partly civilised. The chief wore a poncho--a square cloth, with hole for
the head in the middle--and a pair of blue worsted trousers. The poncho
was embroidered; the fellow carried a large hilted knife (probably a
Spanish machete), for defensive or offensive purposes. They gave this
warrior a hatchet, "of which he well knew the use," and he did the
honours of the village to them. Porter says that the huts were clean and
well built, and the people industrious. He observed a man and boy
ploughing with four bullocks yoked by the horns. The ploughshare was of
wood hardened in the fire. Both sexes wore their hair long, but the
men--having no razors--plucked out their beards by the roots with two
shells provided for the purpose. Porter made repeated requests for
something to eat, but his conductor either could not or--as he
thinks--would not understand him. Having bestowed upon him some buttons,
pins, and needles, the rejoicing mutineers set sail for Valdivia. At
three o'clock in the afternoon they reached a point of land to which
their attention had been drawn, and perceived a flagstaff and twelve-gun
battery. They had made their port at last.

Valdivia is the chief town of the most southern province of Chili, and
is situated nine miles up the river which bears its name. It was founded
in 1551, by Pedro de Valdivia--one of the gentlemen adventurers of that
stormy time--who gave it his name, and grew rich by working the gold
mines in the vicinity. In 1590 it was captured by the natives, but was
afterwards rebuilt and strongly fortified by the Spaniards. The harbour,
at the mouth of which our convicts were now resting, is one of the most
spacious on the coast. Three years after the date of our story--in 1
837--it was ruined by an earthquake.

Pulling in under the guns of the battery, Barker harangued his comrades,
and enlarged upon his own abilities, which had brought them thus far in
safety. It being believed that Spain was hostile to England, they
resolved to tell their story, and throw themselves on the mercy of the
Governor. Barker then gave each of the men half a sovereign, and divided
all the clothing and valuables equally, with the exception of two
watches, which he kept for himself. They then pulled for the shore.

The Spaniards received them with humanity, and they stayed that night at
the fort. The next day it was agreed that Barker, Shiers, Lesley,
Russen, and Cheshire should hire a canoe to go up to the town, and lay
their case before the Governor. This was done, and on the next day
(March 7th) a party of soldiers came down, and took the remaining five
up to the city, where they were lodged in prison. Being taken before the
judge, they told their story, giving the names they went by in Van
Diemen's Land, and he remanded them until the arrival of the Governor.

They remained in prison five days. The mate was allowed a dollar per
day, the boatswain half-a-dollar, and the rest a quarter dollar, "and
provisions being very cheap," says our narrator, "this was amply
sufficient for our support." On the 13th the Governor arrived, and they
were taken before him. He seemed inclined to look favourably upon them,
but asked them why they came to that part of the coast. Whereupon
Barker, with unblushing effrontery, replied--"Because we knew that you
were patriots, and had long ago declared your independence; and we throw
ourselves under the protection of your flag, relying on your clemency."
Upon this, the Governor--saying that he believed that they had spared
life, and had committed no murder--promised to use his influence with
the President, at San Jago, to procure them permission to live in
Valdivia, but that they must in the meantime return to the prison, and
remain there peaceably. In the meantime, a Captain Lawson, their
interpreter, "a gentleman," says Porter, "of great respectability," drew
up a petition praying for their release, and got the principal
inhabitants of the town to sign it. On the following day they were again
brought before the Governor, who said that he would liberate them at
once were he not fearful that some of the number would make their
escape. Upon this the ever-ready Barker made a melodramatic speech,
begging His Excellency to rather shoot them all dead in the Palace
Square than deliver them up to the British Government. The Governor, who
seems to have been a good-humoured fellow, and who had doubtless been
regaled with a highly-coloured description of the horrors of Hell's
Gates--bad enough, in sober truth, Heaven knows--promised to protect
them, vowing that out of respect to their heroic journey he would not
give them up. "And," said he, "if you will promise not to escape, should
a vessel come to-morrow to demand you, you will find me as good as my
word." He then advised them to "beware of intemperance," and to pay back
to the Government as soon as possible the money expended in their
subsistence while in prison. The ten then took lodgings in the town, and
next day assisted in launching a vessel of 100 tons burden--a ceremony
which was performed with the aid of a band of music, and in the presence
of the Governor in person. The owner expressed himself much satisfied
with the behaviour and talent of the Englishmen, and declaring--so says
Porter--that "he would rather have them than thirty of his own
countrymen," engaged them to "fit her out" at 15 dols. a month and

The adventurous ten now seemed to have fallen on good days. They were
well clothed, well fed, and well liked. Macquarie Harbour and its
agonies were forgotten. They cast away recollections of their past
dangers and crimes, and appear to have maintained themselves by honest
industry. The Governor took great interest in their well-being, and
when, on the 25th April, the "Blonde" frigate, Commodore Mason, arrived
in port, sent for them and told them to be of good cheer, that he would
not deliver them up to bondage; that the despatches from San Jago having
arrived, he could officially receive them as Chilian subjects; and that,
if they pleased, they might marry.

Spanish America is noted for the beauty of its women--the Chilian ladies
are even now the belles of the seaboard--and our adventurers jumped at
the offer. The attraction of the gossip by the fountains, the chatter of
the quaint old market-place, the dances by night under the orange-trees,
were too strong to be resisted. The fierce black eyes of the manolas;
for in those days there were yet manolas in Spain and griselles in
France; the more golden glory of the Malaguena, transplanted from the
sultry seaport of Old Spain two generations back; the sparkling purity
of the Andalusian granddaughter of some brilliant adventurer of Seville,
conspired to capture the hearts of the escaped prisoners--all honest
English sensualists, I have no doubt. Five of them were immediately
married, and at the wedding of that lucky scoundrel, John Barker, the
Governor and his lady attended in court costume.

But this felicity was not to last. Nine months after these auspicious
events--on the 10th February, 1 835--the ten were carried off in the
night to the guard-house. In a terrible fright, they speculated on the
cause of their arrest, when suddenly the ubiquitous Governor arriving,
tells them not to be frightened. "There is an English frigate lying
outside the harbour," cries he, "and I was afraid that did you hear the
news you would take to the forest, and have been all slain by the
Indians. Here is a letter that I have just received."

This letter proved to be from Commodore Mason, and stated that its
writer, having learned that several Englishmen were in the town, who had
come in some "clandestine" manner to the coast, desired them to come on
board and give an account of themselves.

The ten upon this fell into great trepidation. "If we go," cried one of
them, "we shall never return." "I thought so!" said the Governor (let us
remember that this is the statement of a convict under sentence of
death). "I will protect you. Should they force their way here, I will
send you up the country under escort to an Indian chief of my
acquaintance, who will protect you. If the captain of this vessel wishes
to speak with you, he shall do so at my palace. You shall not go on

This worthy man, Don Fernando Martelle, doubtless a Spaniard of mettle,
who, having given his word, meant to keep it, proved a true friend; for
a cutter from the frigate attempting to pass the battery, the Spaniards
fired a 32lb. shot over the heads of the crew, and presently the frigate
departed, bearing up in the direction of Valparaiso.

So far, so good, but more evils were in store. On the 2nd May, 1835, the
"Achilles," a 21-gun brig of war, arrived with a new Governor. This
gentleman was coolly received by the inhabitants, "who," says poor
Porter, "had heard but an indifferent account of him," and the refugees
began to dread lest a new Pharaoh had arisen who knew not Joseph. The
old Governor, however, gave them an excellent character, and Governor
Thompson, the novus homo, promised to protect them. They soon
discovered, however, that his promises were of little value. Don
Fernando left on the 20th of May, and as soon as he had gone hostilities
were commenced.

The remaining seven (Jones, Fair, and Dady had wisely taken service in a
brig, and had got away from the place) were ordered to present
themselves at the guard-house every evening, and suffered other small
indignities which the narrator does not particularise. It had been
previously agreed that no attempt to escape should be made, as the
Governor swore that, should any man succeed in getting away from the
city, he would hang the others without mercy. This agreement had been
hitherto strictly kept--the departure of the fortunate three was
permitted by Don Fernando--but in this last extremity Barker broke it.
The boat in which the mutineers had made their adventurous voyage had
been long moored at the back of Government House; but the old Governor,
tempted by an offer of 40 dols., had at last sold her, "mast, oars,
sails, and all," to one of the Spanish merchants. In the month of June,
Barker, enlarging upon the excellent qualities of the old boat, offered
to build one for the Governor. This proposition met with a ready
approval, but when the boat was finished, Barker, pretending that she
was too small, offered to build a larger one, if the Governor would
permit him to get stores, &c., in his name. This was conceded, and, in
three weeks. Barker, Lesley, and Russen completed a three-oared
whaleboat, and fitted her with sails and provisions, on the Governor's

All was now ready, and on Saturday night, the 4th July, Barker, Lesley,
Russen, and a man named Roberts, "formerly mate of a brig," crept out
under cover of the darkness, and, slipping down the river, got out to
sea. On Monday morning, at ten o'clock, their flight was discovered, and
the Governor, in a furious rage at being outwitted, despatched six
soldiers and a crew, with orders "to bring back the Englishmen, dead or
alive." This was easier said than done, and in a week the soldiers
returned, without having even seen the fugitives.

It is not improbable that the townspeople, among whom the Englishmen
were liked and the Governor cordially detested, began to ridicule His
Excellency with the proverbial Spanish freedom of popular speech, for he
seems to have determined to revenge himself on the luckless four,
Porter, Riley, Cheshire, and Shiers, who remained. In vain did the poor
fellows plead their innocence and good conduct. In vain did their
black-eyed wives weep, and their tawny kins-folk remonstrate with
justice. The four were ironed together, and thrown in the prison of
Valdivia, and the English consul at Valparaiso having been communicated
with, a schooner was sent which brought them to Callao--a port not
altogether unknown to several illustrious Victorians in the present
day--and here the dreaded Mason got them at last. The "Blonde" took them
to Valparaiso, when they were placed on board the "North Star," 28 guns,
and sent to England.

Arrived once more in London, they were placed in the Leviathian hulk,
and then shipped (with a fresh batch of convicts) on board the "Sarah,"
and sent back to Van Diemen's Land, there to be tried for their lives.
One can fancy the pleasant time these poor devils must have enjoyed,
speculating on their fate, and imagination does not refuse to suggest
the stories of the horrors of Hell's Gates with which they would beguile
the time and attention of the convict "new chums." A "prison-ship" in
those days was an excellent preparatory school for the gallows. Arrived
in Hobart Town on 29th March, 1837, they were tried before the Chief
Justice, "for piratically seizing the brig Frederick," and were
sentenced to be hanged. Their case, however, excited some interest, and
they appealed to "the English judges." These gentlemen were merciful,
and commuted the death-penalty to "hard labour for life."

Their perilous journey, their strange adventures, their three years of
freedom in the old Spanish town, resulted only in a change of prisons.
Port Arthur was substituted for Macquarie Harbour.

Barker, Lesley, and Russen, were never heard of again. Whether they were
wrecked on that stormy coast, killed by Indians, picked up by a stray
ship, and returned to civilisation, or striking on some savage island
colonised another Pitcairn, no one can tell. Despite their treachery,
their romantic story makes one hope that they got their longed-for
liberty at last.


AMONG the many bubbles of speculation that, reflecting in their shining
sides prismatic worlds of fortune, have been destined to burst in the
most commonplace of soapsuds, it would be unfair to class the
speculation-born colony of South Australia. But, though neither so
magnificently blown as its prototype of the South Seas, nor reflecting
such elegant foolishness as that most glorious bladder blown in the Rue
Quicamfoix, the South Australian bubble was quite as flimsy and quite as
dangerous. Luckily a fact, unsuspected by its blower, saved it from
bursting--the soap-suds were made with mineral water; the pursuers of
the floating globe fell into a quagmire, but found a copper mine.

In the year 1829, Captain Sturt, exploring the Murrumbidgee, came to
Lake Alexandrina--a shallow sheet of water, 60 miles long by 40 in
breadth--and discovered the future province of South Australia. Almost
simultaneously with his discovery was published in London a little book
entitled, A Letter from Sydney, edited by Mr. Robert Gouger, and written
by Mr. Gibbon Wakefield.

I have neither the inclination nor the ability to give in this place an
exhaustive article upon the immigration question, still less to comment
at length upon the system of Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, but a slight sketch
of the scheme laid down by that ingenious theorist may not be altogether

The "Letter from Sydney" produced, as it deserved to do, a profound
sensation upon speculators in England. Its author was a man of ability,
and wrote with taste and elegance. Placing the most audacious
mistatements side by side with the most brilliant sketches of place and
people, he covered the fallacy of his argument by the brilliance of his
wit. The catherine-wheels flashed so dazzlingly that one could not see
how slender was the stick on which they turned. The "Letter from Sydney"
was written with a purpose. It purported to be from the pen of a
gentleman of taste and fortune, who, emigrating to Australia under the
impression that his easily-purchased land would prove remunerative,
found himself poor for want of the means to develope his riches--for
want of men to hew down his magnificent forests of timber, tenants to
rent his fat and fertile farm land, and miners to bring to the surface
his wealth of iron, coal, and copper. Interspersed with exquisite
descriptions of scenery and humorous sketches of colonial discomfort and
colonial society, he draws a succession of pictures of the misery which
would befall the landowners whenever the cessation of convict-shipping
should leave them dependent on free labour. Having thus prepared the
mind of his reader for some sweeping reform, Mr. Wakefield proposes his
modest remedy--to raise the price of land. Cheap land makes dear labour,
for the working-man who by economy and industry accumulates enough money
to purchase a "house and home," will decline to hire himself to reap
those fruits which he shall not enjoy. Cheap land makes cheap
independence, and cheap independence is fatal to individual wealth. The
author of a "Letter from Sydney" pointed out with dismay that in a
country where "common" labourers could maintain themselves without
seeking hired service, the "gentleman" who desired to sell timber,
grain, or coals, must hew, reap, and dig for himself, and such
proceedings have been disdained by "gentlemen" in all ages. In this
wretched country of Australia Mr. Wakefield found that "intellect and
refinement," as he viewed them--that is to say, the reading of
purposeless novels and the lettered leisure of the idle wealthy--were
altogether at a discount, and that the "common" folk, such as mechanics,
farm labourers, and men who ought to be dying by inches in factories, or
starving unmurmuringly in the over-populated agricultural districts of
England, were the only people who could "enjoy" colonial life. Dear
labour meant independence to the labourer, cheap labour meant wealth to
the capitalist, and the author of a "Letter from Sydney" being a
capitalist, desired to increase his capital. He longed for parks and
palaces, for gardens, fountains, picture galleries, and preserves--not
that the labourers who were to help him to obtain all these fine things
might share in the enjoyment of them, but that he himself might become
in Australia the monopolist he was too poor to become in England. The
method he advised for the accomplishment of the monstrous design was
ingenious in its speciousness. Land was to be made so dear that
labourers "could not obtain it too soon;" that is to say, a wealthy man
could purchase by main force of his wealth, and compel the poor man to
hire himself in order to till and reap. A portion of the money thus
invested in land by the rich man was to go into a fund for the bringing
out of emigrants, who might "further benefit the capitalist" by lowering
the price of labour, and who were to consist of healthy young married
couples. Thus the rich man would be spared the pain of contributing a
moiety of his wealth to support the aged and the sick. A succession of
"common" young men and women arriving by a succession of ships, would
compete with each other for the honour of hewing his trees and drawing
his water; and to such young men and women was held out the delightful
prospect of earning, by an artificially-enforced servitude, the right to
settle on the land which they could obtain now for the mere trouble of
tilling it. This system was termed the "sufficient price" system, and as
such has been partially adopted in New South Wales and New Zealand.

The book took the public by assault, it was at once so plausible and so
pathetic. It touched at once the souls and pockets of men. The rich man
saw an easy method of getting richer; the agricultural schemer saw a
virgin field for his experiments; the middle-class farmer was enchanted
with the notion of rivalling the lord of the manor, and becoming the
"squire" of a respectful Australian tenantry; while the philanthropist
admitted that to remove the starving population of St. Giles to a
greater Britain, situated somewhere in the South Seas, was a suggestion
of a most excellent character, and that Mr. Wakefield deserved great
credit for it. During the agitation caused by the Reform Bill of 1832,
public attention was diverted from Mr. Wakefield, and a company formed,
under the title of the South Australian Land Company, failed to float.
In 1833, however, a second company was formed, which included Grote, the
historian, and Henry Bulwer; and, after some changes of constitution,
the company, under the title of the South Australian Association, was
finally established. By an act passed in 1834, the tract of country
discovered by Sturt was created a province, the minimum price of land
fixed at 12s. an acre, and the business of colonisation deputed to eight
members, with Colonel Torrens (proprietor of the Globe) as chairman.

Thus established, the most strenuous exertions were made by the
Association to ensure the popularity of their enterprise. Mr. Gibbon
Wakefield, placed virtually in command, attended the rooms of the
Association at the Adelphi, and by sheer force of talk caught bishops,
mill-owners, and journalists. The rooms were crowded with members of
Parliament, mouth-orators, and pamphleteers, all eager to give to the
world the realisation of Utopia "at a sufficient price." The post of
Governor was offered to Colonel Charles James Napier, but he declined
the appointment, and Captain Hindmarsh, R.N., accepted the office.
Colonel Light was made Surveyor-General, and Mr. Gouger Colonial
Secretary; while Mr. Fisher (better known to colonists as Sir James
Hurtle Fisher), received the post of Resident Commissioner.

Colonel Light was despatched in March, 1836, and Captain Hindmarsh in
July, while in November the "Africaine" arrived with Mr. Gouger, a
banking association, and the South Australian Gazette, a paper first
published in London, and taken out wholesale to be "continued" in the
new colony. Governor Hindmarsh, arriving in December, found fault with
the site fixed upon by Colonel Light as the future capital. "Adelaide"
was built upon a creek leading out of St. Vincent's Gulf. The port was a
mangrove swamp, seven miles from the city; and the piano of Mrs.
Hindmarsh was floated ashore, through the surf, to a mud bank covered
with the dbris of immigrants' furniture. Hindmarsh having "read his
commission under a gum-tree, in the presence of about 200 immigrants and
officials," entered upon his duties by attempting to change the site of
the city. As the fortunate first-comers had already purchased "eligible
town lots" for a price upon which they hoped to realise large profits,
his efforts received determined opposition, and a quarrel arose between
Mr. Fisher and His Excellency, which ended in His Excellency's recall.
The Association now appointed Colonel Gawler, who united in his own
person the offices of Governor and Resident Commissioner, and reconciled
conflicting parties.

Immigrants now began to arrive wholesale, and a fierce competition
ensued for the "town lots." Now the commissioners had issued what they
termed "preliminary orders" at 72 12s. each, which enabled the holder
to select one acre of capital and 120 acres of country land. The order
of this selection was governed by the chances of a lottery, conducted on
the principle of those which recently became so notorious in Victoria.
The first-comers having made their selections, the remainder of the
12,000 acres of "city" was put up to auction and sold to the highest
bidder. The majority of these "orders" were in the bands of the South
Australian Company. A gigantic "land swindle" was now inaugurated.
Instead of South Sea stock, or John Law's paper-money, the speculators
trafficked in blocks of country which should be farms, and stretches of
turf which would soon be terraces. Mr. Davenport Dunn's scheme was
realised, and the "watering-place" was sold before a hut had been built
upon it. It will be easily seen that in this lottery the holders of
"preliminary orders" had the best of the game. They held virtual
pre-emptive rights, and the speculator never knew but that at the last
moment his next-door neighbour would produce a "preliminary" order, and
swoop upon the section he had hoped himself to secure. A traffic took
place similar to that which had made and marred the adventurous
Scotchman, and raised Mr. Secretary Craggs from the footboard to the
council. The "orders" were sold like scrip, and a class of speculators
and enthusiasts, of whom Lord Lytton's "Cousin Jack" may be taken as a
favourable type, swarmed in the "nine square miles" of the unbuilt city.

Colonel Gawler arrived just precisely when this land-jobbing was at its
height, and when the reports of the colony's prosperity had turned the
heads of all the "intending immigrants" in England. Nothing was left
undone by the Association to secure the success of their infant country.
Mr. Gibbon Wakefield was in his glory. He was the apostle of this new
gospel of universal happiness at a "sufficient price," and members of
Parliament, bitten with the desire to "do something popular," flocked
around him, eagerly proclaiming the excellence of his teaching and the
purity of his motives. Colonel Torrens himself did not disdain to
deliver lectures upon the propriety of emigrating at once to Adelaide,
and is reported to have monstrously stated that that city held the same
position with regard to the valley of the Murray as New Orleans did to
the valley of the Mississippi. There was, however, no one to dispute
these assertions, and ship-load after ship load of gentlemen and ladies
left England for this Arcadia in the mangrove swamp of St. Vincent's
Gulf. To the new comer the condition of the infant colony was
astonishing. The town was formed of iron huts and wooden shanties, in
which well-dressed ladies played upon 100-guinea pianos, and gentlemen
in the most correct evening costume entertained their friends with
champagne and potted meats. Dandies who six months before were strolling
up Pall Mall, or lounging in the stalls of the opera-house, waded in
patent-leather boots across the sand to leave cards upon newly-arrived
families of distinction, who--until their parks and palaces became
absolute facts--occupied zinc-roofed cabins and weatherboard cottages.
While labour was in course of becoming cheap, provisions became dear.
Eight shillings and ten shillings were charged for a coarse meal, and
"servants" were not to be had at any price. But the lottery supplied
money as fast as it was needed, and "young pioneers of civilisation,"
having unpacked their fashionable coats, pieced together their dogearts,
and got their blood horses conveyed ashore at a cost that nearly
equalled that of the animals themselves, sold their "preliminary
orders," and gave supper-parties to each other at the Southern Cross
Hotel, to commemorate the fortunate moment when they first undertook to
found an empire. The inexhaustible lottery supplied apparently
inexhaustible funds, and as the bank readily discounted the paper of
notable purchasers, the sellers found their sections transmuted from
barren blocks of unexplored country into cash and credit, both of which
seemed illimitable. Into the current madness Governer Gawler seemed to
fall. He set up public buildings with ruinous rapidity. He organised a
police at a rate of expenditure which seems altogether incommensurate
with the then value of such a body. He built roads, wharfs, and
hospitals, and erected a Government-house at a cost of 20,000. It was
so evident that the colony was going to become a second Carthage, that
to do less would have seemed mean in the eyes of the colonists. Having
done this he sat down in comfort, guarded by a volunteer corps, and
surrounded by a little court, consisting of the white-handed gentlemen
and ladies who were to be the aristocracy of this mighty city of the
mangrove swamp.

But this happy state of things was not long to last. Immigration began
to check itself, and the price of land to decrease. Wool-growing was
found to be more profitable in Port Phillip and New South Wales. The
"healthy young married couples," owning such preposterous things as home
affections and family ties, refused to be transplanted to the South
Australian Canaan, and such labourers as did come were waiting to be
employed by the "gentlemen farmers," who were gambling in Adelaide.
Moreover, such plebeian commodities as beef and mutton began to grow
scarce, and the Carthaginians felt the pangs of famine. It is probable
that the place would have been abandoned altogether, but for the
"overlanders." "Overlanding" was a profitable and, withal, romantic
occupation. Young men of spirit, wearied of the capital, and prompted by
love of gain and adventure, purchased cattle and sheep in New South
Wales, and drove them "overland" to the "New Orleans" of Colonel
Torrens. The journey was not without its perils. Hostile natives
attacked these Australian caravans, and the hot winds of the north were
no insufficient substitute for the simoom of the Arabian deserts. The
scanty streams of the interior were too often dry, and the adventurers,
wandering from the track in search of water, were lost in the barren
wilderness that bordered this new civilisation. Yet "overlanding" had
powerful charms. The life was free and vigorous. The trammels of
conventionality slipped from off the limbs of these wrestlers with the
power of the desert, and they felt the joy of an almost savage
independence. Traversing the great grey forests, or camped by the edge
of some friendly waterhole, that, sheltered beneath its solitary clump
of trees, at once invited and forbade the journey into the limitless
plains ahead of it, the purveying patriarchs of this Australian land
felt that wonderful and subtle happiness which is born of solitude and
silence. Alone with their flocks and herds in the vast wilderness, they
found for the first time that individuality which they had lost amid the
buzz and roar of the crowded capitals of Europe. There 10,000 items went
to swell the sum total of their importance. They were recognised and
respected by virtue of a million accidents. Their tailors and
boot-makers, married cousins and unmarried uncles, all contributed to
make them famous. Even a man who owned the "nattiest groom in London"
had a sort of personal reputation, and many a worthy gentleman climbed
into notoriety on the shoulders of a cook or a coachman. But in the
cattle-yards and the camping ground such aids to celebrity were
unrecognised. Personal prowess and personal intelligence alone availed
the ingenuous youth, who sought for a place among the "overlanders."
Unless he had in him some quality which commanded respect, respect was
not accorded to him. But when after his fatigues, miseries, and regrets,
he reined his horse one day on the summit of some mountain-spur, and
seeing beneath him the wide waste of the untrodden "bush," awoke
suddenly to the consciousness that he was the lord of that wilderness,
that in it he could live unmolested and secure, that he could find there
a home and a subsistence, with no aid but that of his own hands and his
own brains, then for the first time did he discover to what a heritage
of power his birthright as a "man" entitled him.

The sleek "Downing-street colonists" of Adelaide were astonished at the
arrival of these sons of the wilderness. The "trapper" of the Rocky
Mountains found a parallel in the bearded, embrowned overlander, with
his keen eye and ragged defiance of formulae. But with the rags and
keenness the parallel stopped. The gentleman stockowner was no more to
be compared in social relations to Rube Rawlins than was Rube Rawlins to
a gold-stick-in-waiting. Once arrived at Adelaide, the rags and the
defiance disappeared, and "new arrivals fortunate enough to be admitted
to the evening parties of a lady of 'the highest tin,' were astonished
to find, when, to fill up basso in an Italian piece, she called upon a
huge man with brown hands, brown face, and a flowing beard,
magnificently attired, in whom they recognised the individual they had
met the day before, in a torn flannel Jersey, with a short black pipe in
his mouth." Perhaps the life of an overlander was at that time one of
the most agreeable in the colony. The force of endurance and
intelligence not only received due acknowledgment in the shape of praise
and party-giving, but was substantially recognised in current coin of
the realm. Such a combination of circumstances is rare. The
banditti-like gentlemen "who rode blood horses, wore broad-brimmed
sombreros trimmed with fur and eagle plumes, scarlet flannel shirts,
broad belts filled with pistols. knives, and tomahawks." and who were
regarded by the Adelaidians with something of the feeling which greeted
"the arrival of a party of successful buccaneers in a quiet seaport with
a cargo to sell, in old Dampier's time," had not only the gratification
of being the cynosure of neighbouring eyes, but of making considerable
profits on their original outlay. But in the midst of this picturesque
extravagance came the final crash. In order to meet the expenses of
Utopia--in the way of buildings, roads, and bridges--Colonel Gawler had
drawn bills upon the Treasury, and the commissioners and association
losing credit, a series of drafts to the amount of 69,000 was
dishonoured. As soon as this direful intelligence became known, the
bubble burst. A rapid exodus took place. The "working men," poor
fellows, finding themselves doubly deceived, threw themselves upon the
Government for support. The population of the city "diminished in twelve
months to the extent of 3000 souls." The price of food, rent, and wages
fell fifty per cent. Adelaide was almost deserted, and, like the owls
and the bats in the palaces of Palmyra, police horses grazed in the
gardens of the Governor.

Gawlor was dismissed, and Mr. Gibbon Wakefield and his friends
endeavoured to put the burden of disgrace upon his shoulders. That they
at the time succeeded in doing this, there is not a shadow of doubt, and
until very lately Colonel Gawler has been held the scapegoat of South
Australian colonisation. Lord Stanley, the Colonial Secretary, knocked
the last hole in the bottom of this sinking ship In 1842, that
far-seeing statesman brought in and passed two Acts, one of which fixed
the minimum price of land at 1 per acre, while the other handed over
the colony to the Government of the Colonial Office. The effect of these
measures was immediate. As a land-speculating colony. South Australia
was ruined. It was found, moreover, that agriculture could not be
carried on at a profit with hired labour, and the only paying pursuit in
the country was wool-growing. The despised "interior" was now let in
"runs," and to the colonial Meliboei, heaven at last vouchsafed that
proverbial wealth which springs from well-pressed woolpacks. Yet even
this wealth was long in arriving. The port of Adelaide was deserted, and
the visits of the "overlanders" had ceased. The shipment of wool was
attended with difficulty and expense, and it seemed as though the bubble
having burst, the soap-suds were more alkaline than is usual.

In this plight, an accident restored the colony to something resembling
its pristine glory. "The promoters of the colony," says Mr. Samuel
Sidney (to whom, together with Mr. Forster, I am indebted for the
materials of this sketch), "had placed coals, marble, slate, and
precious stones among their probable exports; but copper and lead had
not entered into their calculations." Copper and lead, however, existed,
and in 1843 Mr. Dutton and Captain Bagot purchased an 80-acre section,
which contained the "Kapunda mine." South Australia was once more
famous. Close upon the "Kapunda" followed the "Burra Burra," and Mr.
Kingsley has already told the story of the second speculation-mania.

Application was made to the Governor for a special survey of 20,000
acres, at 1 an acre. The application was granted, and a day and hour
fixed for the payment of the 20,000 in cash. Now, cash was scarce, and
local interest began to grow despondent. How could famine-stricken
Canaan raise 20,000 in cash. To add to the perplexity, arrived from
Sydney a party of speculators well supplied with gold, and announced
their intention of buying up the "survey." A flash of the old gambling
spirit reanimated Adelaide. Sydney should not thus snatch the prize from
the grasp of the colonists. On the last day for payment a desperate
struggle was made to obtain the needful amount of gold coin. "On that
day," says Mr. Sidney, "many secret hoards were dug out; husbands
learned that prudent wives had unknown stores, and old women were even
tempted to draw their 1 and 2 from the recesses of old stockings.
Almost at the last minute the money was collected, counted, and paid,
and the richest copper mine in the world rewarded the long sufferings of
the South Australians."

But the whirligig of time brought in his revenges. The "gentlemen" whose
interests were so tenderly cared for by Mr. Gibbon Wakefield were
disgusted to think that the "common" labourers should come between this
wind of good fortune and their own dilapidated nobility. Was this to be
the end of the "sufficient price" system? Forbid it, Torrens!

A lottery was proposed by which either section of the community should
win or lose a chance in the unopened mine. The "common" people won, and
picked 10,000 acres, which they called "Burra Burra." The "gentlemen"
termed the remaining portion the "Princess Royal." In 1850 the 50 scrip
of the "gentlemen's" section was not worth 12, while "Burra Burra" was,
as Mr. Sidney called it, "the richest copper mine in the world." Despite
Mr. Gibbon Wakefield, the "working man" had won the game after all.

Our bubble, cast in copper, may now be likened to one of those
contrivances of the domestic cistern which, let the tap turn as it will,
always keeps half its bulk above water.


ON the 22nd of May, 1796, Henry Goodridge, the landlord of the Crown and
Anchor Commercial Inn, in the town of Paignton, near Torbay, in Devon,
took an additional horn of ale because that a son was born to him.

The Goodridges are a well-known and respected family in Paignton.
Indeed, that village consists--to speak generally--of but three
families--the Goodridges, the Hunts, and the Browses--and the three are
so intermingled by marriage, that there is not a Hunt or a Browse that
is not in some way related to a Goodridge. The birth of young Charles,
therefore, was the cause of some festivity, and gossips predicted great
things of him. The brat, however, did not appear likely to flourish,
being "subject to fits and weakness." He squinted terribly, moreover,
and Mr. Thompson, the "surgeon of the village," despaired of him. As he
grew he gained strength, and under the tuition of Mistress Lome, the
village "school madam," became an expert in the arts of reading,
writing, and arithmetic.

Paignton, communicating as it does with Brixham and Dartmouth, was
frequently visited by sailors "ashore" for the spending of their pay,
and the reckless jollity of these fellows begat in Charles Goodridge a
desire for a seafaring life. As Mr. Oldmixon descended with his crew of
valiant mariners upon the staid seaport of Bideford, and inflamed the
minds of the wondering fishers with tales of glory on the Spanish main,
so did the tars from the "fleet" heat the imaginations of the honest men
of Devon with their yarns, anent thrashing the "Mounseers," and pouching
the prize money. Master Goodridge--despite that his father kept an inn
on the Western-road, and was a warm man, with his stocking comfortably
lined--must needs go to sea, and at the age of thirteen hired himself as
cabin-boy on board the "Lord Cochrane," a hired armed brig stationed off
Torbay to protect the fishing craft against the French cruisers.

The commander, Lieutenant Joseph Tyndall, agreed to take the lad for
"three months on trial," and at the end of that time he was bound
apprentice to the owners, Mr Martin Gibbs and Mr. Bulteel. Fairly
entered upon the life he had chosen for himself, Goodridge experienced a
fair share of the adventures current at that epoch. He fought a
Portingallo with knives, and, to the honour of Devon, thrashed him
soundly. He came nigh to losing his life in a storm off the coast of
Wexford, and took part in an action with a French privateer. In 1813 he
shipped on board the "Trial," Captain Woolcott, of Dartmouth, engaged to
transport parts of the 20th and 38th regiments of foot to St. Sebastian,
thence to fight the French in Portugal and Spain. Having landed the
troops, not without some firing from the forts surrounding the harbour,
the "Trial," with six other vessels, was despatched to Bilboa, to take
home French prisoners, and Goodridge hints darkly of the horrors of the
passage. The "Trial" then returned to Spain with medicines and stores
for the army, but Goodridge did not sail in her. A fortunate
circumstance for him, as she was totally wrecked at St. Andero. The next
five years were spent in voyaging in any trader that would ship him, and
notwithstanding that he was twice shipwrecked, and once nearly captured
by pirates, his ardour for the sea was in no way abated. Being at home
in April, 1820, his mother vehemently prayed him to remain; but
he--headstrong and hot blooded--vowed that he would ship for a longer
voyage than any he had hitherto attempted, and would not return home for
seven years. His vow was fulfilled with interest.

Going to London on the 1st of May, 1820, he found a cutter of 75 tons,
the "Princess of Wales," commanded by Captain William Veale, about to
sail on a sealing trip to the South Seas, and instantly, full of hope of
adventure, entered on board her. The date of this turning point in his
fortune was rendered remarkable by the fact that it was the day on which
the Cato-street conspirators were executed, and Goodridge, going to
witness the brutal ceremony, came nigh being pressed to death in the
crowd. The "Princess of Wales" had formerly been a Margate hoy, and was
bought by Messrs. Barkworth and Brook, of 80 Old Broad-street, London,
specially for this expedition. The crew consisted of the commander, the
mate (Mathias Mazora, an Italian). ten mariners, and three boys. The
"agreement," signed by owners and crew, was to the effect that the
vessel "was to proceed to the South Seas after oil, tins, skins, and
ambergris, each mariner to have his share one out of every ninety skins
procured, the boys proportionately less, the officers proportionately
more." So, with a fair wind, they sailed from Limehouse Hole on the 9th
of May, and arrived at Torbay on the 16th. Being weatherbound for three
days, Goodridge goes to bid farewell to his family at Paignton, and
leaves them with a sorrowful heart, his only sister being ill of
consumption, and not expected to recover.

On the 3rd of July the "Princess of Wales" arrives at St. Jago, and
having watered, crosses the line on the 19th of July makes for the banks
of Brazil, and meeting the westerly gales steers for Walwich Bay, on the
African coast. Here they explore in search of water, and fall in with
"500 savages all naked, but armed with spears" These gentry, however,
being informed that the white men had not come to enslave them--their
sad experience of white men--grew friendly, and a barter was begun. Says
Goodridge, "For small quantities of iron hoop, bread, and tobacco, we
obtained bullocks, goats, and ivory. The iron hoop was termed by the
natives cantabar, the tobacco baccassah."

They round the Cape in boisterous weather towards the end of September,
and failing to make the islands of Marsaven and Diana, steer for Prince
Edward's Islands (lat. 46 deg. 40 min. S., long. 38 deg. 3 min. E),
which they sight on the 1st of November. Next day they set to work. The
operation of sealing as pursued by these mariners is not child's play.
There is no harbour for shelter, and it is therefore necessary that one
party go ashore provided with provisions, while the remainder of the
crew look after the vessel and salt the hides already procured. The wind
is violent, and chops perpetually, so that scarcely having made all snug
under the lee of the island, they would be compelled to slip cable and
stand out to sea. The land, barren of tree or shrub, affords no shelter
for the shore-going party, and their boat bauled upon shore serves them
for a dwellinghouse.[*] Their provisions are salt pork, bread, coffee, and
molasses, and upon this hard fare they are compelled to violent labour
in hunting and killing the seals. We can imagine that, cold and wet, cut
to the bone by the bleak gales, and soaked by the biting brine,
Goodridge and party were not in the most cheerful plight. In addition,
moreover, to the physical hardship, was the ever-present anxiety that
the ship might be driven out to sea by one of the constantly recurring
gales, and that they should see her no more.

[* The method of thus turning a boat into a house is called
"tussicking." The boat is turned bottom upwards, one gunwale is raised
three or four feet, by means of a sort of turf wall, leaving an opening
sufficiently large for a man to crawl in or out, as a doorway. A fire of
sea-elephant blubber is made at this opening, and each man, on retiring,
takes his station between the thwarts of the boat, where he usually

The fortune of the party was so dismal, that it was resolved to go on to
the Crozets, which were made on Christmas Day. The Crozets are about
lat. 46 deg. 47 min. S., long. 46 deg. 50 min. E., and are seldom
visited. They are five in number, and form a sort of irregular triangle,
the largest being about 25 miles in circumference. Barren of herbage,
and almost iron-bound, these rocks of mid-ocean serve only as a home of
seals, or a roosting-place for wandering sea-birds. The "rookeries" of
the king-penguin and the booby-bird abound, extending sometimes for half
a mile along the shore, while the rocks, at low tide, are resorted to by
large numbers of sea-elephants--a larger kind of seal. In this wild and
desolate spot did Captain Veale hope to make the fortune which should
rejoice the eyes of his young wife in Devon. The sight of the seals
along the shore, the incessant cry of the flocks of gannets and petrels
that darkened the air, and the ludicrous aspect of the penguin waddling
affrightedly to their nests, inspirited the crew of the cutter, and they
landed with high hope.

On the 5th of February, having already collected about 700 skins, it was
resolved by Captain Veale that the eight sealers should proceed to the
easternmost island, while the remaining six should, under his command,
take the vessel to a bay in the island first touched at, where she
would, he thought, ride in safety. The division was made as
follows:--The sealing party:--Mathias Mazora, mate, aged 46, in command,
Italian; Dominick Spesinick, aged 50, Italian; Emanuel Petherbridge,
aged 24, Dartmouth; John Soper, aged 17, Dartmouth; Richard Millechant,
aged 16, Dartmouth; John Norman, aged 24, London; John Piller, aged 25,
London; John Walters, aged 46, London. Eight in all.

In the vessel:--William Veale, aged 28, in command, Dartmouth; Jarvis
Veale, his brother, aged 24, Dartmouth; Henry Parnell, aged 17; William
Hooper, aged 28; Benjamin Baker, aged 16, London; John Newbee, aged 24,
Hanover; Charles Goodridge, aged 24, Paignton. Seven in all.

It was customary for those on the vessel to visit the sealing-party
every week with provisions, take on board the skins collected, employing
themselves in the meantime in salting those already obtained. The last
time such a visit was made was on the 10th of March, in very boisterous

On the 17th, a gale came on from the S.E. Veale thought it advisable to
gain an offing, and the "Princess of Wales" slipped her cable
accordingly, and stood out to sea. Before she had proceeded any distance
it fell a dead and ominous calm, the swell still continuing. It was
impossible to launch a boat in that heaving sea, and equally impossible
to anchor, for repeated soundings gave no bottom. The island presented
to their view a perpendicular cliff, with numerous jagged rocks
projected into the angry sea, and against this cruel wall they were
momentarily drifting. It was midnight and moonless. There was not a
breath of air, and the only sound that met their ears was the roar of
the surf that was soon to engulf them. Says Goodridge:--"The suspense
was truly awful; indeed, the horrors we experienced were far more
dreadful than I had ever felt or witnessed, even in the most violent
storms; for on such occasions the persevering spirits of Englishmen will
struggle with the elements, even to the last blast, or to the last wave
that may overwhelm them; but here there was nothing to combat: we were
led on by an invisible power. All was calm above us; around us, the
surface of the sea, although raised into a mountainous swell, was
comparatively smooth; but the distant sound of its continual crash on
the breakers, to which we were drawn by an irresistible force, broke on
our ears as our death-knell, and every moment brought us nearer to what
appeared inevitable destruction."

[Readers fond of coincidences can compare Poe's account of the noiseless
storm at the end of Arthur Gordon Pym.]

At length, at a little after 12, the cutter struck with great violence,
and was instantly ashore, exposed to the full fury of the waves. Veale
desperately got out the boat, and each one flinging into her something
he deemed of value, the seven scrambled out of the sinking vessel. A
fine rain was falling, the boat was surrounded by rocks, masses of
floating kelp impeded their progress, and the nearest shore was a
perpendicular cliff of great height. To add to the terror of their
situation, an enormous whale, driven in by the storm, rose close to
them, and began beating the water "within a few yards of the stern of
the boat." From this sea-giant their good fortune preserved them, and by
dint of tugging at the oars they succeeded, after four hours' incessant
labour, in effecting a landing on the beach. So great was the violence
of the surf, that the boat was swamped and nearly carried out to sea.
All clinging to her at imminent risk of their own lives, they got her on
shore, and turning her bottom upwards, crept under her, and thus sought
sleep, "being all miserably cold, wet, and hungry."

In the morning they held review of their possessions, and found that in
addition to the knives, steels, and fire-bags, which each one carried in
his belt, they had but a kettle and frying-pan. The fire-bag, as it is
termed, is a necessary to a sealer. It consists of a tinder-box and
cotton, secured from the damp in a tarpaulin case. In this lamentable
state of affairs, they sallied forth to procure food, and speedily
despatched a sea-elephant, with whose blubber they kindled a fire by
which to cook the more toothsome portions of his carcase.

Thus warmed and fed, an expedition was made over the rocks to the spot
where the cutter had foundered the night before, but it was seen at the
first glance that all hopes of saving her must be abandoned. She was
lying on the rocks on her beam ends, with a large hole gaping in her
lower planks, and the still heavy sea breaking over her rendered it
impossible that she should hold together much longer. Their endeavours
must now be addressed to saving such fragments of wood, nails, bolts,
&c., as might be made serviceable to them.

On the following morning (19th March), the boat was launched, and
despite a rough sea, they succeeded in picking up the captain's chest
and the mate's chest. The next day they were rejoiced by some crusts of
bread, but, as if to mock them, the bread appeared sodden with
sea-water, and not eatable. They found also on this day the only shred
of paper, or printed matter, saved from the sea. Captain Cox, the agent
of the Merchant Seaman's Bible Society, had visited the "Princess of
Wales" at Gravesend, and had presented the captain and crew with one of
the Bibles provided by the society for distribution. William Hooper,
seeing something floating in the water, recognised the gift of good
Captain Cox, and crying out lustily, "Pull up! Pull up! Here's our
Bible!" the book was secured. "What made this circumstance the more
remarkable," says Goodridge, "was, that although we had a variety of
other books on board, such as our navigation books, journals, log-books,
&c., this was the only article of the kind that we found, nor did we
discover the smallest shred of paper of any kind except this Bible; and
still equally surprising was it, that after we had carefully dried the
leaves, it was so little injured, that its binding remained in a very
servicable condition, and continued so as long as I had an opportunity
of using it."

The Bible, which was afterwards to afford those pious men of Devon much
consolation, was the last thing saved from the wreck. The next day
nothing remained of her but the topmast, which was entangled with some

During the next three weeks the weather continued so wet and boisterous
that it was as much as they could do to procure food for themselves, but
at the end of that time, collecting the materials they had saved, they
set about erecting for themselves a sort of hut. They sank a foundation,
and rolled fragments of rock together, piling them one upon the other
until a rude wall was obtained. This being thatched with grass--let it
be remembered that there was not a tree or bush on the whole
island--made a tolerable housing-place, and to render it the more snug,
Veale recommended that the rafters should be covered, where practicable,
with the skins of the sea-elephants, which was done.

The hut was divided into bunks with strips of planks, and one long plank
nailed at the foot of these bed-places stood them in lieu of chairs.
Their table was the ground. Veale erected for himself a separate
sleeping-place at the end of the hut towards the sea.

While this rude cabin was in course of construction, they discovered
traces of a party of Americans who were known to have visited the
islands some sixteen years before, and to have built a hut and other
conveniences, but the sea elephants had trodden everything into the
ground. John Soper, however, searching for eggs, found a pick-axe, which
he brought home in great glee. With this pick-axe they dug up the earth
around the ruined hut, and found some pieces of timber, together with
several nails, and--most glorious discovery--a part of a pitch-pot,
which would hold about a gallon. By aid of a piece of hoop, this relic
was made to do duty as a frying pan, and upon finding a "broad axe, a
sharpening-stone, a piece of shovel, and an auger," the party considered
themselves over-burdened with ironmongery. The handle of the old
frying-pan, which was worn so thin from constant use that it was nearly
worn out, was affixed to a handle, and being ground sharp, made a
formidable weapon for the killing of seals.

Let us now consider what productions the island afforded to these
Crusoes. The first and great mainstay of their necessities was the
sea-elephant. This creature, which appears from Goodridge's account of
it to be a sort of walrus, abounded. The largest elephants were about 25
feet long, and 18 feet in circumference. Their blubber was not
unfrequently seven inches thick. One of these huge brutes "boiled down"
would yield, according to Goodridge's estimation, nearly a ton of oil.
The males made their regular appearance about the middle of August,
assembling in great numbers along the beach. Fierce combats took place
among them, the which were often witnessed by the castaways, who,
recognising the various bulls by notable sears won in past fights,
"named them according to their prowess, Nelson, Wellington, Blucher, and
Bonaparte." The females have their young early in September, and suckle
them for about five weeks. The calves when just born are quite black,
having beautiful, glossy skins, found to be, says Goodridge, an
excellent material for caps. The females return to the sea in October,
having finished nursing their unwieldy infants; but the bulls often
proceed inland for two or three miles, and, sometimes to the number of
more than a hundred, live amicably together until December. By that
time--reduced almost to skeletons by reason of their long fast--they
return to the sea. In February they come up again in good condition, and
lie huddled together like pigs, occasionally indulging in sham fights,
regarded by the seamen as preparatory to the real fights in August.

The sea-elephants served Goodridge and his party for meat, washing,
lodging, firing, lamp-light, shoe-leather, sewing-thread, grates,
washing-tubs, and tobacco pipes! For food they used the heart, tongue,
sweet-bread, snotters (the fleshy proboscis which hangs over the nose,
and gives the creature its name), and the flippers. The flesh was not
unpalatable, and the flippers boiled into a jelly, together with some
eggs and a pigeon or two, made a soup that might not be despised by a
gourmt. For the "washing tub" they turned the elephant on his back,
and, having removed the intestines, allowed the blood to flow into the
cavity, and washed their linen dipped in the blood, as a washerwoman
would in soap suds. After rinsing it two or three times in the running
brook close by, the linen was cleansed as well as if they had used the
best soap for the purpose. "Grates" were made of the bones placed
crosswise, upon which pieces of blubber were laid. Lighted "lamps" were
constructed of pieces of rope yarn drawn through lumps of blubber (which
could be obtained in masses of a foot square) and it was found that the
firm grease melted slowly. "Shoes" were composed of strips of skin cut
to the shape of the foot, and drawn round the ankle with thongs,
while--great achievement--excellent tobacco-pipes were made of the
elephant's hollowed teeth as bowls, perforated by the wing-bones of the
water-fowl as stems. As a substitute for tobacco they smoked dried

Second on their list came seals. These were not plentiful, and their
flesh was, moreover, found to be rank. The dog seals are called Wigs,
the female seals Clapmatches, and the young seals Pompeys. Anybody with
a taste for research can amuse himself by discovering the origin of
these remarkable expressions.

There was no lack of fish or fowl upon the island. Sea-birds frequented
the place in vast numbers. Four varieties of penguin are mentioned, to
which Goodridge gives the names of King Penguins, Macarooneys, Johnnies,
and Rock Hoppers. The last named are described as being somewhat larger
than a duck, build their nests among the cliffs and rocks, congregating
in numbers of three or four hundred together. The Johnnies and Rock
Hoppers suffered themselves to be robbed of their eggs without
attempting resistance. The King Penguin, however, is more pugnacious,
and uses its winglets as flappers, wherewith to box the ears of the
assailant of its nest.

In addition to these were "Nellies"--a sort of goose--albatrosses,
petrels, eaglets, divers, teal, and pigeons. The albatross build their
nests on the plains, and live in clubs of about 200 members. If the
ground be at all marshy, they raise their nests about two feet, by
digging a trench round them and throwing up the earth in the middle. It
is to be presumed that none of the castaways had read The Ancient
Mariner, or that if they had, they did not share the superstition of
that single-speech sailor. "On Sundays," says Goodridge, "our dinner
consisted of giblet soup, prepared from the heads, feet, &c., of the
albatross, which were first scalded in boiling water, and then cooked in
our best st le." The pigeons were caught with nooses and baits, as the
New Zealanders catch the mallee hen.

The only vegetable on the island was a plant resembling a cabbage in
appearance. William Hooper, who had sailed in the South Seas, thought
this plant a great prize, having eaten one resembling it when on his
whaling trips, but on a first trial of the enticing vegetable it proved
bitter and uneatable, and it was not until they boiled it for some hours
they could stomach it.

Fortunately they were able to vary their flesh diet by fish. "Our mode
of fishing," says the narrator, "was certainly a novel one. One party
used to take long strips of the sea-elephant's blubber, and, putting one
end close to the water, a fish resembling a gurnet would come and nibble
at it, and then, by drawing it gently up the sloping rocks, the fish
would follow it far enough for another person, watching his opportunity,
to strike it a smart blow with a club, and thus knock it sufficiently
far up the rock to enable him to secure it. They had, however, in course
of time, become so shy, that they were not to be taken in this way, and
we were obliged to have recourse to a more scientific method; for this
purpose we took out the rings that were attached to our sharpening
steels, and, having sufficiently heated them in the fire, we bent them
into the shape of fishing-hooks, and then gave them good points with the
sharpening stone we so fortunately found in digging where the previous
visitors to the island had formed their hut. Having now fishing-hooks,
our next affair was to manufacture lines, and this we soon managed by
untwisting portions of the cordage we had saved from the wreck; and by
retwisting the oakum into small threads, and those again into cord, we
were fully equipped to make war on the finny tribe; the blubber also
forming a very enticing bait, we had soon a plentiful supply; and fish,
flesh, and fowl frequently smoked on our board at one meal--even an
epicure could have found but little fault with a dinner where two of the
courses were soup and fish."

Imagining themselves cut off for ever from civilisation, they determined
to spend their lives hopefully and with good cheer. Mr. Veale having
preserved his watch, they were able to regulate their time with
tolerable accuracy, and marked out for themselves a course of life
suitable to their condition. They rose at eight in the morning, and
break-fasted at nine. After breakfast some of the party went catering
for the day's provisions, while others remained "at home" to cook and
wash. "We dined at one," says Good-ridge, "and took tea about five."
"Tea" was simple, consisting of raw eggs beaten up in water. This mess
they called "Mocoa." On grand occasions they added to their Mocoa the
brain of the sea-elephant, which was very sweet and palatable. A chapter
of the Bible having been read by Veale, they retired to rest at ten.

Even in this society of outcasts, religious differences found a place.
Mathias Mazora, the mate, was a "professed atheist," and set himself to
deride and make sport of the religious exercises of his honest comrades.
It is gratifying, however, to find that the atheism of Mr. Mazora was
promptly snuffed out. The free-thinker laboured under the disadvantage
of not knowing much English, and therefore, however convincing his
arguments may have been, he was unable to deliver them with the force he
could have wished. "Being extremely ignorant," says Goodridge, "not
being able to read, at least not the English language, and having no one
to second him, his conduct did not disturb the general harmony that
reigned among us." Moreover, a "marvellous conversion" is related of
this atheistical mariner. It is probable that his brain was never very
strong, and that solitude and anxiety did not tend to strengthen it. He
is either a great liar, or his atheism--which one can presume him to
have professed, as being a less troublesome creed than any with which he
was acquainted--turned to "insanity." Through much listening to
Scripture, he strove to enact the story of Saul of Tarsus in his own
person, and forthwith indulged in a "vision" of a most orthodox and
gratifying nature. One evening, when alone, seeking for birds' nests,
darkness overtook him before he could reach the But; the ground round
about was full of huge pits of slime made by the sea-elephants, and
Mazora, being afraid of tumbling into one of these, sat down
despairingly. In this plight, and considering earnestly his desperate
needs, he betook himself vigorously to prayer. In a few moments a bright
light appeared about him, and he was enabled to reach the hut in safety.
To those familiar with such marvellous narrations, it is superfluous to
add, that from that moment Mathias Mazora became a true believer.

Thus with superstition, or imposture, already engendered among them, the
little troop ate their elephants and lived monotonously on for nine
months. A fire, which nearly burnt their boat-hut, was their only
diversion. On the 13th of December, however, they were unexpectedly
cheered by meeting with their lost companions.

The sealing-party--left, it will be remembered, on the 10th of
March--had come to the conclusion that the "Princess of Wales" had been
wrecked in the storm. Moving from place to place, as the fortune of food
compelled them, they had at last determined on visiting the island where
there companions had, all unknown to them, found refuge. The meeting was
joyous, and the new comers having, not silver and gold, but a
frying-pan, nails, and hammer, the comfort of the little colony was
materially increased.

Before the two parties had met, the terror of death in that solitude had
seized the marooned men, and they had solemnly marked out a grave-yard,
and fixed each upon his own grave. Now life stirred strong within them.
They resolved to build a ship!

This was an arduous undertaking, for save some gigantic trees (upheaved,
the simple men thought, by an earthquake) they had no timber. Their
stock of nails was scanty, and they had but their boat sails as canvas.
Loth to destroy their boat, they determined to make use of the logs of
wood, and after many long consultations, resolved on their course of

The vessel should be 29ft. long, of 12 tons burden, and lugger-rigged.
They would build her out of the wood used for the huts and the timber
left by the American party. They would make sails for her of sealskin.
When she was completed, a solemn casting of lots should be had with
prayer, and the five thus chosen should put to sea in the hope of
falling in with some ship and bringing succour to their companions.
Accordingly, early in the year 1822 they set to work. They were divided
into two parties, one to obtain provisions while the other worked. The
poor fellows presented a strange appearance. Their clothes had worn out,
and they had attempted to make themselves garments of sealskin. These
were little more than bags buttoned on, in true bush and sailor fashion,
by slips of wood in lieu of buttons. The all-purveying sea-elephant
supplied these, as well as oakum for the boat and stores of provisions
for the voyage. The topmast of the cutter formed the keel of this
wonderful vessel, and her sides were patched with heaven knows what
artfulness of planking, cut with iron hoops, burnt out with fire of
seal-blubber, nailed with wooden rivets, and caulked with fur run
together with tallow.

In nine months, that is to say in January, 1823, the "vessel" was in a
fit state for launching. "Such as she was," says Goodridge: "one
ship-carpenter working with ordinary tools might have made her in two

All hands were now summoned to assist in the launch, when an accident
occurred which came near to overturning all their plans. The
hunting-party, returning to the huts in their boat, met with a storm
which beat in the stern of their craft, and cast them ashore. It was
necessary that they should waste more precious time in repairing this
damage. Without tools they toiled many days to make the boat
sufficiently seaworthy to enable them to rejoin their companions. One
day Dominick Spesinick, who was an elderly man, left them to stroll
along the shore. In a short time he returned gesticulating with
vehemence, but speechless. Rough Veale asks, "What the devil is the
foolish fellow at?" and at last comprehends that Spesinick, being on a
high point of land, has seen a vessel. The party had been so often
deceived by the appearance of large birds, which, sitting on the water,
had all the form of a distant ship, that they declined to believe the
story, and, afraid of the cruel disappointment, refused to follow
Spesinick. His impassioned entreaties, however, at last prevailed, and
it was decided that John Soper should go with him, carrying a tinder-box
in order that he might make a fire if necessary, and attract the notice
of the crew. The pair started. Night fell and they did not return. It
was suggested that they had seen the vessel, and got aboard her. Others,
more charitable in their conclusions, affirmed that the vessel was but
the phantom of the old man's brain, and that he would return with his
wearied comrade before morning broke. The day dawned, however, upon that
sleepless night, and yet no sign of the scouts. "It's all a dream of
his," said Veale; "we had better go and look for our food, lest our
friends fail to launch the newly-built boat, and we perish here alone."

They had already spread themselves along the shore when Millechant gives
utterance to a wild shout, and runs whooping like a madman along the
sand. A boat full of men cheering in English is coming straight to them
over the sparkling sea. Down go eggs and blubber, and the rescued
mariners, stumbling forward, caper and weep in extravagance of joy.

Spesinick and Soper had chased the phantom all night. The old man sank
at last overpowered with fatigue at the summit of a cliff, from which
they could both see a schooner sailing smartly from the island. Soper
tries to kindle a fire, but fails; runs down into a valley, and loses
sight of the vessel; finally fires the fern in despair, and sends up a
smoke like tna. The schooner lays to, and sends a boat; but sees no
one. The sailors go ashore to explore, and on returning find a wild
figure clad in skins clinging to the sides of the boat. It is old

The schooner is an American, the "Philo," Isaac Perceval, master, bound
for the South Seas on a whaling and trading voyage. Perceval receives
them all aboard, and the next day they quit the Crozets, leaving their
ship still on the stocks.

The captain had some disinclination to taking on board all the party,
but eventually consented to do so. It was agreed that the rescued men
should be landed on the Isle of France, and that in the meantime they
should assist the crew of the "Philo" in seal-fishing. This arrangement
having been concluded, the "Philo" set sail for St. Paul's Island (about
1100 miles to the north-east of the Crozets), and arrived there on the
3rd of February. The venture of the "Philo" was successful. The coast
abounded with fish, and seal were plentiful. They continued at their
work until the 1st of April.

Towards the end of March the shipwrecked men began to feel the
restraints of such rude civilisation as they had imposed upon
themselves. Soper and Newbee, indeed, desired to remain on one of the
islands, offering to take their chance of a vessel arriving to rescue
them. As Amsterdam Island is situated in the direct track of all vessels
going to New South Wales, there was not so much madness in the
proposition as might at first be apparent. Captain Perceval agreed,
making them first sign a document stating that they were so left by
their own expressed desire. The two self-reliant mariners having been
then left to their own devices, a dispute arose between the refugees and
the crew. Mazora, the whilom mate, declared that the captain did not
allow him sufficient clothing, and vowed that he would report the
negligence to the authorities of the Isle of France. The captain, justly
incensed at this ingratitude, took a severe course: he put Master Mazora
ashore. The sympathies of the refugees being with their comrade, nine of
them came aft in a body, and said that if Mazora was put ashore they
would go with him. The captain would not budge from his determination,
and all but the brothers Veale and Petheridge left the schooner.

Thus landed for a second time upon a desert island, the plucky fellows
did not despair. There was for them a tolerable house, built by former
seal-fishers, and the island was not far out of the usual track of
shipping. They hoped to be soon picked up by a passing vessel, and to
have in the meantime accumulated as many sealskins as would pay their
passage home. So for two months they lived, eating crawfish, wild hog,
and seal. Some former occupant of the place had sown turnips, the tops
of which served to flavour their soup.

On the 3rd of June, at daybreak, as seven of them were lying in their
hut, John Piller, who lay opposite the door, started up, crying, "A
sail! a sail!" They kindled a signal fire, and soon had the satisfaction
of seeing the vessel approach the land. The weather was boisterous, and
it was not until the next day that a boat came ashore. The vessel was
the "Success," a sloop of 28 tons burthen, and was tender to the "King
George," Captain Bryant, whaler. It had previously been agreed between
the masters of the two vessels, that if they lost each other they should
steer for St. Paul's or Amsterdam as a rendezvous. The "Success" having
missed her mate, was now fulfilling her part of the contract. Mr.
Anderson, the master of the sloop found upon examination of his
provisions that he could feed but three more mouths, and it was agreed
that lots should be drawn by the exiles. Three were away fishing, but
the remaining seven cut up pieces of paper, and having marked three of
the pieces with the letter "P," put them into the bag and drew. The
three prize-holders were Goodridge, Barker, and Piller. The two latter,
however, feared to embark in so small a craft for so long a voyage, and
gave up their chance to Hooper and Walters. Walters was eager to go,
recognising in the "Success" a craft which he himself had helped to
build in South Georgia some years before.

The "Success" brought news of Soper and Newbee. Soper, who had been a
wild fellow in his youth, and had run away to sea, took a notion in his
head that his grandmother, who lived at Dartmouth, had died and left him
money. Being impressed with this idea, his desire to remain on the
island vanished, and the "Success" coming in sight, he and his companion
nailed together a few boards, and put off to her. Anderson agreed to
take him, but Newbee, unwilling to leave his "skins," refused to go, and
after some conversation Soper resolved not to abandon his companion. The
two strangely-mated men shook hands with the crew, and stepped again
upon their frail raft with intent to reach the island. Those on board
the "Success" watched them until near the shore, and saw a monstrous
wave suddenly engulph them. The fury of the surf forbade all attempt at
rescue, and the adventurous pair perished.

After a stormy passage, during which provision and fuel ran so short
that the eleven months had but 51/2 ozs. of pork and a raw potato apiece
daily, the "Success" arrived at Hobart Town. Hooper recognised a
shipmate of his named Richard Sands, who had been transported for
smuggling, and asked him for assistance. Sands being in the boat's crew
of the port officer, Dr. E. F. Bromley, begged that gentleman to aid the
shipwrecked mariners. Dr. Bromley--a good Samaritan--fed and clothed
them, and by-and-by, the sale of their sealskins placed them in
tolerable comfort. Goodridge now began to write a narrative of his
adventures, and was in the midst of his work when a curious incident
occurred. Mr. Brooks, one of the owners of the "Princess of Wales,"
arrived from England.

Brooks was asked to dinner with Dr. Bromley, and happening in the course
of conversation to mention that he had lost a vessel in the South Seas,
Bromley slapped his fist on the table, and bid a servant call up the men
who were below. Goodridge appeared and told his story; "at which," says
he, "Mr. Brooks was delighted, as it gave him an opportunity to prove
the loss of the vessel, and thus recover the insurance."

The captain of the vessel that brought out Brooks offered to take the
three back to England, but Walters only accepted the offer. Walters had
a wife in London, but upon reaching home discovered that she had married
again, thinking him dead. The vulgar Enoch Arden did not die. Like a
prosaic man, he returned again to sea, and left the lady in peace with
her spouse.

Hooper and Goodridge remained at Dr. Bromley's for two months, when
Hooper shipped on a whaling voyage, and Goodridge hired a boat from Mr.
Bethune and began trading in fire-wood. The Crusoe had now settled down
to earn a civilised livelihood, and his story for seven years is that of
an industrious and hard-working man. He entered into the service of Mr.
Austin (who kept the Roseneath Ferry), near New Norfolk, and eventually
hired the ferry-boat from him, and made money. He became acquainted with
Mr. Austin through a man named Davis, who was transported for robbing a
dwellinghouse at Torbay, and had been employed in Austin's service. Mr.
Austin proved a firm friend to Goodridge, who became a sort of retainer
of the Austin family, and in the year 1831 went home to England in the
same vessel with Mr. Josiah Austin, the nephew of his patron. Goodridge
gives some interesting particulars of the kindness and shrewdness of the
Austins, and ends by remarking that the nephew of the ferry proprietor
had in 1838 "settled at Port Phillip, New South Wales, where he had
flocks of sheep to the amount of 8000 or 10,000." The gentlemen who talk
at public dinners about "pioneers of civilisation," might with propriety
study the history of Goodridge's worthy patron.[*]

[* Mr. Austin--the present representative of the family--is the
owner of Barwon Park, one of the finest estates in Victoria. He is noted
for his acclimatising successes, having achieved hares, pheasants, and
deer on his square mile of purchased land. The Duke of Edinburgh was
entertained by Mr. Austin, and host and guest went "pheasant shooting"

Little more remains to tell. Arrived in England, Goodridge found his
father and mother yet alive, and was received with kindness by them. He
married in his native village, but fell into ill health and seems to
have subsisted by the sale of the book from which I have compiled this

The Veales and Petheridge were landed in the Isle of France, and finally
made their way to England. An account of their shipwreck and adventures
is given in the Morning Herald of November, 1823. The elder Veale went
again to sea. A gentleman whom I met the other day told me that some
years ago he saw him in a shipping-office in London--"A regular old
sea-dog!" Jarvis Veale went to America, where he married. Petheridge, in
1852, was sailing a small craft in and out of Dartmouth. The others who
had been left at Paul's Island met with some further adventures. They
collected sufficient skins in twelve months to freight a vessel that
happened to call at the island. In her they proceeded to South America,
and with the proceeds of the sale formed a settlement on an island near
Japan, and cultivated cotton and rice. It is thought that Millechant
eventually became owner of the property, and died a rich man.

So much for the fortune that befel the captain and crew of the "Princess
of Wales."


ON Friday, the 27th of February, 1846, the barque "Peruvian," bound for
China with a cargo of hardwood, left Sydney Harbour.

The "Peruvian" was commanded by George Pitkethly, and had a full
complement of passengers and crew. The captain's brother was first mate,
and the captain's wife was also on board. The names of the other
passengers were Mr. and Mrs. Wilmot, child and nurse, and Mr. J. P.
Quarry and his little daughter. The breeze was fresh, and all had hopes
of a successful passage. On Sunday night, however, the wind increased to
a gale, and on Tuesday the "fineweather" sails were blown out of the
bolt-ropes. On Friday every stitch of canvas was taken off, and the
vessel drove under bare poles. On Saturday, however, the weather
moderated a little, and that night, during the first watch, the mate
made more sail. The captain held consultation with his brother, and
calmed the fears of his wife and the lady passengers by telling them the
worst of the danger was now over. It seemed, however, that during the
gale the ship had been driven out of her course, for Pitkethly said that
she was in the neighbourhood of the Horseshue Reef, and desired the
hands to keep a look-out for broken water. Thus, having got all things
snug, Sunday night passed over. Between three and four o'clock on Monday
morning, however, an unexpected calamity happened. A man named James
Murrell had been at the helm from twelve to two, and had been relieved
by the eldest apprentice. The second mate was officer of the watch, and
the brothers Pitkethly were below asleep in their bunks. The night was
cloudy, and from out of the dusk a-head of them the second mate saw
suddenly rise something that was "either land or a dark cloud." He ran
down to the captain and returned as quickly as possible. Just as he
reached the deck the vessel struck upon a rock, and a terrific sea
sweeping over her stern, carried him overboard, and "he was never seen
again." The shock awakened all on board, and the captain and crew ran up
in great confusion, many still in their night-clothes. A glance
explained the position of the ship. The "Peruvian" was fast on the rock;
and the sea running high, nothing could be done but wait for morning.
This the shivering wretches, crouched under the lee of the cuddy,
resolved to do.

When day broke, the full danger of their position became apparent. No
land was in view, but as far as the eye could reach, the points of the
rocks pierced the white surf. The "Peruvian" had run upon the very
centre of an impassable reef. The captain ordered the boats to be got
over the side, and the jolly-boat was hung in the tackles and lowered.
The moment she touched the broken water she went to pieces. The
long-boat was old and shaky, but she was their only chance. They
launched her over the side, intending to keep her there until they could
get the women and provisions into her, but the sea ran so high that she
was filled as she hung in the tackle. The situation was now indeed
desperate, and when the captain, who seemed beside himself with anxiety,
ordered some hands to jump in and bale out the water, they refused. The
condition of the old and battered boat was such that none would risk
their lives in her, except one man--the captain's brother. The younger
Pitkethly commenced to bale, but as he lifted the second bucket to the
gunwale, the heaving of the sea jerked the stern-post out of the boat,
and the fore-tackle getting adrift, she was carried away from the wreek
on the next wave. Lines were thrown to the unfortunate man, but none
reached him. He saw that his case was hopeless, and bidding goodbye to
his brother and his brother's wife, sat down in the bows beside a live
sheep that had been penned there, and calmly waited for his death. It
was not long. In a few minutes the long-boat sank, and he went down in
her without a cry.

Upon this--the last chance being gone--the captain called all hands into
the cabin and prayed. This course of conduct was productive of good. The
spectacle of women and children who needed their aid calmed and sobered
into self-reliance the excited sailors, and the women and children were
encouraged by the sight of so many sturdy and brave men ready and
willing to help them. Going on deck again, the propriety of making a
raft was discussed, and though it was gloomily admitted that the chance
of being picked up was an extremely remote one, it was resolved to try
this last expedient. They cut away the spars, and bound together first
the mizen, then the mainmast--a difficult task, for, says Murrell, "they
came down with the sails all flying." Working in imminent peril of his
life from every sea that washed over the wreck, Pitkethly at length gave
the last blow to the last nail. The masts and spars lashed together, and
braced with a sort of platform in the middle, formed a rude raft, and
with infinite toil they got the unwieldy thing afloat by middle-day
Sunday. All this time the sea was pouring over the torn and mangled
bulwarks, and the ship was literally bursting with the water she had
swallowed. Each instant it was thought that she would go to pieces.

Provisions had been previously collected for the boats, but when search
was now made for them, it was found that the bread had been spoiled by
the salt water, and nearly all the preserved meat washed overboard. All
that the poor wretches could muster were nine tins of preserved meat, a
small keg of water, and a little brandy. This scanty store being stowed
in the safest portion of the raft, with the captain's instruments and
charts, blankets were spread for the women and children, and the vessel
abandoned. There were then on the raft three women--Mrs. Pitkethly (the
captain's wife), Mrs. Wilmot, and the nurse-girl. The rest of the crew
were Wilmot and Quarry, the captain, the carpenter, the sailmaker, the
cook, four able seamen, four apprentices, and two negroes--stowaways who
had been detected the night after leaving Sydney Heads. It was intended
to hold by the ship for a day or so, and if possible build a boat out of
the boat-planks aboard; but in the middle of the first night the
strength of the current swept the raft from her moorings, and carried
her out to sea. When morning broke, the deadly reef was just visible on
their lee, with the wreck sticking on its back like a slug on a black

Left thus face to face with the ocean and their fate, the little company
made a compact among themselves. The stores should be divided equally,
and there should be no drawing of lots "to take each other's lives." At
first matters seemed rather cheerful. The captain directed the course of
the raft, and by the aid of their sail they made forty miles a-day. They
were in high hopes of reaching land. Three tablespoonfuls of preserved
meat a-day were served out to each person, and the water was measured in
the neck of a glass bottle--four such drams--one in the morning, two in
the middle of the day, and the other in the evening--being allowed to
each. Occasionally a few birds came on board, and the raw flesh and hot
blood were looked upon as delicacies. This lasted for twenty-two days.

Then the usual agony began. On the twenty-third day they saw a sail,
which kept in sight for four hours, but finally disappeared. "This,"
says Murrell, "greatly disappointed us." The preserved meat began to run
short. The allowance of water was decreased day by day. The poor women,
crouched under the lee of the platform, were told that in a few days
there would be no meat and no water. These days became hours. One
morning the last morsel was devoured, and still no land appeared.

Mr. Quarry, who had been a long time ailing, told the man next him that
he would die now, and did die the next morning. His little daughter was
yet alive, and cried over the corpse. Fearfully mindful of their
"compact," the survivors stripped the body instantly, and threw it
overboard; the sharks tore it to pieces before their eyes, and the
captain, who seems to have been a God-fearing man, read the burial
service over the great graveyard on which they floated. That evening
they caught a rock cod-fish with a line and hook baited with white rag,
and cut it up into equal parts. Two more days passed, and they caught a
fish each day. Then it rained, but the exhausted creatures seem to have
neglected to secure as large a supply of water as they might have done.
The two children now died. Mrs. Wilmot's baby went first, then little
Miss Quarry, and lastly Mrs. Wilmot herself. Her husband "took off what
clothing she had on, which was only a nightdress, and threw her into the
sea; but he told us if we were men we would not look at her." The body
of this poor lady floated near the raft for more than twenty minutes.
During the next day two more men died, and "then," says Murrell, "they
dropped off one after the other very rapidly, but I was so exhausted
myself that I forget the order of their names."

The condition of the survivors was terrible, yet, true to their promise,
they abstained from cannibalism. The captain, however, suggested a
method of procuring food that seems to well-dined folks sitting beside
cheerful home fires almost as repulsive. The sharks swarmed around the
raft; if they had but a bait they could catch them. There was really
bait enough. They cut off the leg of a man who had died, and tied it to
the end of an oar. Half-way up the oar was a running bowline, through
which the fish must put its head to take the bait. One man held out this
hideous fishing-rod, while the other held the bowline. A shark came, and
was caught. The carpenter killed him with his axe, and cutting the
monster into strips they made a hearty meal of him. This plan was
pursued with success for some days. At last they espied shore, and were
driven down the coast. Twice they attempted to land, and twice did an
adverse breeze drive their unhappy craft out to sea. At last at midnight
on the forty-second day since they abandoned the wreck of the
"Peruvian," they landed on what is now known as the southern point of
Cape Cleveland. Of the twenty-two souls who had left the wreck, only
seven remained--Mr. Wilmot, James Gooley, John Millar (the sailmaker),
one of the boys, James Murrell (the narrator), the captain and Mrs.

An attempt was made to get water, but it was not successful, and wearied
out, the seven lay down on the sand and fell asleep. That astonishing
run of good fortune which had followed them during their terrible
passage across the sea, and had supplied them with birds and fish, did
not yet desert them. It came on to rain in the night, and in the morning
the holes of the rocks were full of fresh water. When the sun got up,
the captain took a glass out of a telescope which he had preserved, and
lighting by its means a piece of rag, kindled a fire, at which lumps of
shark were boiled and greedily devoured. In the course of the day
oysters were found by the captain, who appears to have divided them
between himself and his wife, for Murrell says that "the others" were
compelled to crawl and get some for themselves. On this desolate rock
might was right, and the captain had the axe. In a few days Mr. Wilmot
and Gooley gave up the fight. They were too sore and sick to crawl to
the oyster-bed, "so they lay down by a waterhole and died, nobody being
equal to provide for more than themselves." For five days more this
torment continued, and then the captain, "in his rambles," came across a
native canoe containing lines and spears. Millar, the sailmaker,
determined to go away in this canoe, and try to reach civilisation. In
vain did his comrades attempt to dissuade him. He was determined. A
quick death in the breakers was preferable to a long torture on the
barren reef. He started and the sea he had defied so long swallowed him
up. His body was afterwards found on the shores of the next bay.

The little company, now diminished by three, received a still further
shock. As Murrell and the captain were crawling over a hill into the
adjoining bay, they saw a fullrigged ship running down the inside
channel. They had no means of signalising her, and sitting down on the
rocks watched her slowly disappear--with what bitterness of spirit one
can easily guess. They then came upon the tracks of natives, and
followed them as far as they could, but the rain had rendered the
footprints illegible to their inexperienced eyes, and after dragging
themselves a little further they returned wearily to camp.

Two days after this, poor Mrs. Pitkethly said that she heard the blacks
"whistling and jabbering round about her;" but she was in a very low
state of health, and her assertion was treated as the hysterical fancy
of a nervous woman. She was right, however. It appears that the natives
believe that falling stars indicate the presence of an hostile tribe,
and that over the place where the poor shipwrecked creatures had been
fighting with death many stars had appeared to fall. The natives,
observing this circumstance--the wandering shepherds of old would have
called it a "miracle"--came down to the rocks, and one of the boys, who
was lamed by boils on his legs, was seen by them crawling through the
shingle. Mrs. Pitkethly persisted in her statement, and at last went out
on the rocks to see for herself. On the cliff above them were a number
of natives. "Oh. George," cried the poor soul to her husband, "we have
come to our last now; here are the wild blacks!"

But the intentions of the natives were friendly. They came down holding
out their hands in token of amity, and snuffing curiously round the
strangers, felt them all over from head to foot. So affectionate did
they become indeed, that ten old men insisted on sleeping in the cave
with them. In the morning a further discussion arose. Murrell and the
lad were claimed as "jumped up whitefellows" belonging to a tribe at
Mount Elliot, while poor Pitkethly and his wife were similarly claimed
by a tribe living at Cape Cleveland. This dispute seemed likely to end
in an awkward quarrel, but was ultimately adjusted by a division of the
spoil of the raft. The natives--as usual--dressed themselves in the
coats, trousers, and other garments saved from the wreck, and some even
tore the leaves out of the few books and fastened them in their hair.
Having thus seized everything of value, they commenced to strip the
prisoners, but the boy begging to be permitted to keep his shirt, and
endeavouring to impress them by pointing to the sun, that unless he was
so allowed he would infallibly be roasted, they graciously gave him back
the garment. The captain was, however, stripped completely naked, and it
was only with the greatest difficulty that poor Mrs. Pitkethly was
allowed to retain her scanty garments.

Some roots, seemingly of the truffle order, were now brought, and the
natives signified their desire for the strangers to join with them in a
corrobboree. This was impossible, but Murrell, by way of compromise, as
gentlemen at evening parties transmute the "singing a song" into the
"telling a story," sang them a hymn--

"God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform"--

at which they were much pleased. The sight of the grinning savages
surrounding the four poor shipwrecked creatures singing a hymn about the
providence of God must have been a strange one.

Received into the camp, they gradually recovered their strength and
learned the language. Immense corrobborees were held over them, and
natives crowded from all parts to see them. Murrell expressed a wish to
go back to his white friends, and it was agreed that the natives should
let him know whenever a ship was seen near the coast. Yet their kindness
was rough at times. They seemed to regard their captives as pretty and
curious toys to be shown to the best advantage, and the attendance of
the "white men" was demanded at every corrobbioree. Murrell gives an
interesting description of the ceremony of the Boree, or making the lads
men, which is too long to quote here. It consists principally in
undergoing various torments designed to test courage. Cane rings are put
on the arms of the youths, and tightened so as to impede the circulation
of the blood. "Their arms swell very much, which puts them in great
agony. They are then left in that torture all night. Their cries are
terrible to hear. To keep their fingers from contraction and thus
deforming them, they sit with their hands and fingers spread out on the
ground, with the heels of their feet pressed closely on them. In the
morning they are brought out in the presence of their mothers, sisters,
and relatives, and just above and below the mark of the cane ring on
their arms they make small incisions to let the blood flow"--a curious
way of celebrating a coming of age, and, if possible, more unpleasant
than the many unpleasant ceremonies practised by all savage tribes. In
happy Europe the "heir" only gets drunk.

The Queensland blacks appear to differ but little in their customs from
others of like race. They burn their dead, and carry the ashes about in
a sheet of bark for twelve months, when they throw them into a
waterhole. Their religious belief is of the most negative character.
They say that their forefathers witnessed a great flood, and all the
people in the world were drowned except some half-dozen, who went up
into a high mountain--Bibbiringda (inland to the north bay of Cape
Cleveland). Murrell thinks that this is some dim recollection of the
Noachian deluge. It is strange that aboriginals who have no tradition of
their many wars, and whose memory is so slight as to tell them nothing
about their father's father, should invariably hold the most orthodox
recollections of the Noachian deluge. They live on roots, fish, fruits,
and birds. The men have several wives, and imitate the example of the
sententions Cato in their treatment of them.

For seventeen years Murrell lived among these fellows. His companions
died. The boy went first, and then the captain. Unhappy Pitkethly could
endure his position no longer. He and his wife were there in the midst
of savages, almost without clothes, and compelled to conform to the
barbarous practices of the country. He seems to have felt more for his
unhappy wife than for himself. "Up to this time," says Murrell, speaking
of two years from the date of the landing, "she managed, by dint of
great difficulty, to keep herself partially covered, but he knew it
could not last much longer; and the thought of her having to come so
low, and her utter helpless condition, was too much for him--he sank
under it." Four days afterwards poor Mrs. Pitkethly followed her
husband, and both bodies were buried, by Murrell's request, in the sand
together. Unhappy creatures! It is difficult to imagine a more dreadful
death for a carefully-nurtured woman.

The slow years rolled on with Murrell, until, like Buckley, he had all
but forgotten his own language, his own name--all save the memory of his
native land. At last ships began to appear. A vessel came to the shore
while Murrell was absent, and the sailors gave shirts to the natives.
Then another ship was seen, and the natives, remembering their
companion's wish, attempted to attract the attention of the crew; but
the Englishmen, not understanding their wild shoutings and yellings,
fired at them, and drove them away.

Not long after this a white man with two horses came upon some natives
lamenting the death of an old man, and raising his gun shot the old
man's son, who was lying on his father's body. For this act of treachery
he was, not unjustly, massacred by the tribe. Murrell says that this man
was a Mr. Humphreys, of Port Denison, who was out looking for a "new
track." After this several white men were seen, and also tracks of
cattle, and Murrell determined to make an effort for liberty. He told
the tribe that his countrymen fired at them because they did not
understand their language, but that he would go and explain to them.
After some demur they consented, and the man who lived with Murrell sent
his gin with him to approach a white man's hut, which they had
discovered some miles down the coast. Getting clear of the scrub, the
exile saw the smoke of the chimney, and the sheep feeding on the grass.
The sight of these strange animals so terrified the gin, that she ran
back alone. Murrell went into a waterhole, where he washed himself as
white as he could, and then, "standing on the fence to keep the dogs
from biting him," he hailed the hut. There were three men living there,
but one, the shepherd, was looking after the sheep. Another one came
out, and one cried, "Bill, here's a yellow man standing on the rails,
naked. He's not a black man--bring the gun." Poor Murrell, in terror,
cries, "Don't shoot! I am a British object, a ship-wrecked sailor." "Of
course," he adds, "I meant subject, but in the excitement of the moment
I did not know what I said." The two men, whose names were Hatch and
Wilson, received him kindly, and heard his story. They asked him if he
knew what day and date it was? He said he did not. "Sunday, the 25th
January, 1863. You have been lost seventeen years." He tried to eat
bread, but it choked him, and he had lost relish for tea and sugar.
By-and-by the shepherd Creek came home, and Murrell unfolded his plans.
He would go back to the blacks as a sort of ambassador of peace and
goodwill. The three white men accepted this conclusion, adding, as a
sort of rider to Murrell's original proposition, that if he did not come
back in the morning, they would put the black trackers on his trail, and
shoot him.

Arrived at the camp, Murrell did his best for his countrymen, and by
exaggerating their numbers and strength, induced his protectors to
promise an "equitable division" of the country. The natives implored him
to remain with them, but he reminded them of the threat of the
"trackers," and was firm. The parting, as Murrell describes it, was
affecting. "When I was coming away, the man I was living with burst out
crying; so did his 'gin' and several of the other 'gins' and men. It was
a wild, touching scene. The remembrance of their past kindness came full
upon me, and quite overpowered me. There was a short struggle between
the feeling of love I had for my old friends and companions, and the
desire once more to live a civilised life, which can be better imagined
than described." He returned to the but, was fed and clothed, and
returned to his right mind. At the end of a fortnight he was taken into
the newly-made town of Bowen, where a subscription was raised for him.
Thus snatched from barbarism, he ran the usual little round of
tea-parties. People were eager to hear this newly-caught lion roar. From
Port Denison he was passed to Rockhampton, and from Rockhampton to
Brisbane. At Brisbane a pious Baptist got hold of him, and "publicly
baptised him on a profession of faith in Christ." He was received as a
"lion" at Government House, and eventually accepted an official crumb in
the shape of a keepership of bonded stores. Upon the strength of this
appointment he married, and lived comfortably, becoming possessed of
freehold property. He was a general favourite with the inhabitants, and
was popularly known as "Jemmy." In appearance he was short and thick
set, with sunken eyes, and a wide mouth. His teeth were worn down to the
gums, "for," says his biographer, Mr. Gregory, "they were his only knife
for years." His hardships had told upon his health, and he suffered
greatly from rheumatism. Nevertheless, he was active and cheerful, and
not without a hankering after his old life. He offered his services to
the Leichhardt party, but they were not accepted--the Port Den ison
Times thinks to the injury of the expedition. He was born at Heybridge,
near Maldon, and was bred to the sea, and his first voyage to the
colonies was made in the "Ramales" to Hobart Town. He died at Port
Denison on the 30th October, 1865, at the age of 41, leaving a wife and
one child. His death was considered almost a public calamity, and was
thus spoken of by the local press:--

"It is our mournful duty," says the Port Denison Times, "to record the
death of the pioneer white man in the north--James Murrell--which took
place on Monday, 30th October. For some time he had been suffering from
a wound received in the knee during his sojourn among the aboriginals,
which had been attacked with rheumatism, and ultimately brought on
inflammation and fever, which resulted in his death . . . Jemmy was
devotedly attached to his wife and child, and during his late illness,
when his mind passed, as in a dream, through the scenes of misery and
care of his exile, he always returned to his wife and child, and his
only care seemed to be that they should in future be provided for. He
was a general favourite throughout the district, and when his death
became known in the town on Monday, the whole of the flags at the ships
in harbour, and at the various stores throughout the town, were lowered
to half-mast. The funeral took place yesterday, and was attended by a
large number of mourners, including many of our influential citizens.
The men belonging to the pilot station had asked and obtained permission
to act as bearers to their old comrade's remains. The police also
attended, and moved in the procession next the hearse; then came the
mayor and the police magistrate, followed by a long string of vehicles,
horsemen, and pedestrians."

Such is the strange story of the first Queensland explorer, and it is
given--with details necessarily omitted here--in a pamphlet, edited by
Mr. Gregory, and published at the Courier Office, Brisbane, in 1865.


AT two o'clock in the afternoon of the 7th of April, 1850, the convict
ship "Neptune" cast anchor in the Derwent. The fortunes and freight of
the "Neptune" were uncommon. She had come from Bermuda to the Cape with
convicts, but the inhabitants of Cape Town refused to allow the
prisoners to land, refused even to supply food for them, and the
"Neptune," after some red-tapery, was compelled to set sail for Van
Diemen's Land. On board her, rejoicings prevailed. While yet at anchor
in Simon's Bay, despatches from Lord Grey were read, which, "in
compensation for the hardships of their long voyage and detention,"
graciously extended to all the prisoners Her Majesty's conditional
pardon, "except to the prisoner Mitchel." So on the 8th the prisoners
land in high spirits (after an eleven months and seventeen days' cruise
in the "Neptune," land of any sort is pleasant), and twelve of the most
powerful ruffians are straightway made constables. The "prisoner
Mitchel," however, yet remains on board, ignorant whether he will be
returned to that solitary confinement that had held him at Bermuda, or
clapped into the cells at Maria Island in company with the other
prisoner, "William Smith O'Brien."

The sufferings of the "prisoner Mitchel" up to this point are
interesting enough, but this is not the place in which to enlarge upon
them. Suffice it to say that he was one of those Irish exiles, those
"rash and most unfortunate men," who, agonised at the struggles of their
unhappy country choking in the red-tape bonds of English misgovernment,
attempted to cut the knot with the sword, and failed. The Alexander of
Ireland had not yet come.

Yet, looking back for a moment upon that most miserable time, I cannot
see what else remained to the Young Ireland party. They had carefully
planned a revolution of moral force. Ireland was to be regenerated.
Irishmen were to be educated out of their prejudices. Ireland was to
recover what she had lost by the Union, and claim for herself the right
of legislation. The Nation (brilliant meteor, now quenched in the
blackest of Irish hogs) was the lever by which the world was to be
moved. The Nation spoke the voice of the leaders of the people, and,
conducted with surprising ability, made itself a power almost before men
were aware of its existence. Like the infant Hercules, it began to
strangle serpents in its cradle. But this "moral force" met with an
unexpected check. From universal peace, Europe flamed suddenly into war.
France and Austria almost simultaneously shook with revolution, and in
the excitement of the time the prudent leaders of the Irish people lost
sight of prudence and "moral suasion." If ever there was a time to
strike for Ireland, it would seem to have come then! If ever the Irish
people were to be free, then did Freedom appear to hover nearest them!
All was arranged, all planned. France and America both gave hopes of
assistance; the people, famished and despairing, called out to be led
against their oppressors. The "rising" was fixed for September, and had
it occurred then it would have in all probability succeeded. But the
Irish camp swarmed with traitors, and the minutest intelligence
concerning the projects of the Confederation was borne to the English
Cabinet. On all sides the enthusiasts were cheated and betrayed--their
most trusted agents were in reality spies, hired with English

Having made itself master of the designs of the "rebels," the English
Parliament determined to force the Revolution to a premature birth, and
so abort it without further trouble. The instrument used was a Treason
and Felony Bill, which, passed through both Houses in one night, was
transmitted to Ireland by the next packet. The arrest of the
conspirators was resolved upon. The tallest poppies were cropped the
first, and the Confederation saw with dismay its best men plucked from
its midst and lodged in gaol. A hurried council of war was held in the
cell of the Enjolras of this Irish Rue St. Denis, and it was resolved to
strike at once. Better to perish with arms in hands than to be silently
and ignominiously handeuffed. War was declared, and the "rising" took
place. But English policy had been successful. The people were
unprepared, foreign assistance was withheld; the stores, dependent on
the harvest of September, were not yet arrived; the very leader was a
makeshift. Mr. Smith O'Brien, a country gentleman of moderate fortune
and high social standing, was forced into the position of general of
these ragged forces. He was brave and enthusiastic, but utterly unfitted
for the position in which the turn of fortune had placed him. It was
necessary, however, to have a name at the head of the movement, and
"O'Brien" was a watchword as dear to Irish hearts as had been "Stewart"
or "Montrose" to the Highlanders of Scotland. Thus the "revolution"
began--we know how it ended amid a savage horse-laugh from all in

There is to me something most pathetic in this Irish rebellion stifled
in its birth. If the patriots--for no man will, I trust, deny them that
title--had been shot down in the heat of battle, or executed on the
scaffold, the world would have accorded to them the respect they
merited; but to raise an insurrection which is put down by a corporal's
guard, to light the torch of revolution only to see it extinguished by a
bucket of water, to be captured in a gooseberry garden and put in a
Tasmanian corner like a naughty boy--most miserable! Poor Ireland's
poverty has ever made her ridiculous, and to the sensitive, the torture
of merited ridicule is of all tortures the greatest. In the day of
defeat there was scarce a writer of any note in England who had the
manliness to refrain from a sneer at the defeated. Even Thackeray--whose
genius should have restrained him--rhymed in stinging couplets about
"Meagher of the swoord," and "Shmith O'Brine." Everything connected with
the brave and foolish Irishmen which should have been respected, was
cruelly sneered at, and held up to laughter. Their names, their accent,
their patriotism, their ancestors, their affections, and their
nationality--all were assailed in turn. The high aspirations, earnest
labours, patriotic enthusiasm, and unhappy fate of these men, seemed to
the English press the best joke in the world. The jokers did not scruple
to invent lies even, and to this hour the malignant fiction of poor
Smith O'Brien's cabbage-bed is devoutly believed by a variety of
respectable Philistines.

But to return. John Mitchel, originally an attorney practising in the
north of Ireland, had by some writings of his attracted the attention of
the editor of the Nation, who invited him to Dublin, and placed him on
the staff of that journal. The reckless impetuosity of the man--unable
to recognise that moderation, when used as means to an end, is always
more damaging to an enemy than ill-judged outbursts of futile
anger--could not understand the apparent sloth of the Nation 's
movements. He quarrelled with the editor, and set up for himself an
opposition paper, the United Irishman, which became the recognised organ
of the headstrong, and which, I am afraid, assisted by its senseless
kicking against the pricks to exhaust the strength of the Young Ireland
party. When the blow fell, he was among the first of the captured, and
was sent to Bermuda, where he was treated with respect and
consideration, but put into solitary confinement. A man of ardour,
taste, and education, his soul sickened at this horrible seclusion from
his kind, and he would have become as insane as one of the
hermit-saints. His nature was fiery, impetuous, and kind; his abilities
were imitative and acute. His "Prison Journal" (from which this
narrative is in part compiled), though drenched with a perverse conceit,
is a remarkable production. Though in style slavishly imitative of
Carlyle, and overlaid with that tawdry ornamentation which is at once
the blot and the brilliancy of Irish eloquence, the book is marked by
passages of extreme beauty of imagination and vigour of thought. The
fact that it was evidently written with an eye to publication, and that
the writer, in the midst of his most unreasoning outbursts of passion
and savagest denunciation of British tyranny, has ever before him his
own figure bowing in the character of a martyred man of genius to an
admiring reader, tends to raise a doubt as to the trustworthiness of the
information conveyed. In this journal the slow torments he suffered at
Bermuda are all set down. I take up the thread of the narrative with the
landing in Van Diemen's Land.

The "political prisoners," as they were called, were permitted to reside
at large in the police districts, out of communication with each other,
on condition of reporting themselves to the police magistrate once a
month. "This condition of existence," says Mitchel, "is, I find, called
a ticket-ofleave. I may accept it or not, as I think proper, or having
accepted I may resign it; but first of all I must give my promise that
so long as I hold the said ticket I shall not escape from the colony."
Smith O'Brien refused to give this promise, but Martin, Meagher, and the
rest did so. Mitchel being in ill-health did not think it necessary to
emulate the self-denial of Smith O'Brien, and so was sent to Bothwell, a
charming village on the Clyde, there to reside on parole. The reason of
Mr. O'Brien's apparent Quixotism was this. It was decided by the poor
fellows that they would treat England as a hostile power, and instead of
protesting against the severity of their sentence, exclaim with all
power of body and breath against what they considered the injustice of
their trial. "The whole of the proceedings are monstrous," was in effect
their plea. "We are not traitors, for Ireland has been usurped. If you
imprison us with convicts, we will not tacitly acknowledge ourselves
criminals by purchasing indulgence at the expense of submission. We
regard ourselves illegally in duress, and we will escape when we think

Plots to escape were numerous, and Smith O'Brien was twice nearly torn
out of Maria Island. The treachery of those who should have befriended
him, however, caused the failure of the best-laid scheme, and he was
removed to Port Arthur, where a little hut was set apart for his
reception. The story of this attempted escape makes a pendant to that of
Mitchel himself. The friends of O'Brien in Hobart Town had bargained
with a man named Ellis, the captain of a small schooner, to hover about
the island until a fitting opportunity arose for the sending on shore a
boat which should pick off the prisoner. O'Brien was at that time
permitted to walk over the island attended by an armed constable, and
his friends having succeeded in communicating to him their plans, it was
decided that when the boat came ashore he should clude his warder and
scramble aboard her, when Ellis would make all sail for San Francisco.
Ellis, however, had sold the details of this desperate plot to the
Government, and the gaolers at Maria Island were in full possession of
every particular. Every step of O'Brien's daily walk was watched, and
his eager glances towards the sea-board noted with grins and jerkings of
elbows. At last the boat appeared, and O'Brien, having, as he thought,
seen his warder safely into the bush, ran down to the beach, and
plunging into the water, waded towards his rescuers. The water was
shallow, and thick with tangled weeds. He could not climb into the boat
without assistance, and while leaning over the gunwale, the constable
appeared with his musket. "The moment he showed himself," says Mitchell,
"the three boatmen cried out together, 'We surrender!' and invited him
on board, where he instantly took up a hatchet--no doubt provided by the
ship for that purpose--and stove the boat." O'Brien saw that he was
betrayed, and on being ordered to move along with the constable and the
boatmen towards the station, refused to stir, hoping, in fact, by his
resistance to provoke the constable to shoot him. However, he was
seized, and carried to his cell. Removed to Port Arthur, he afterwards
gave the required parole, and was set at liberty. Master Ellis was
caught afterwards at San Francisco by some of the O'Brien party, and
being brought out of his ship by night, was tried then and there by
Lynch law, with a view to instant hanging, but was "acquitted for want
of evidence."

John Mitchel having got over the first agonies of separation and
contumely, found life in Van Diemen's Land pleasant enough. He had money
and friends. Liberated on parole, he rode, walked, fished, shot, and
hunted. Around him were many of his old friends; Martin, Meagher, and
Doherty were living within a day's journey of his house, and forbidden
meetings were frequent. The squatters, and even constables and gaol
officials, treated the "political prisoners" with respect. When passing
a chain-gang of poor devils who, failing the dignity of revolution, had
earned their misery by shooting a hare or snaring a partridge, the
overseers "touched their hats" to the well-mounted, well-dressed,
exiles. Yet the fact that they were prisoners--that a slight deviation
from the rules laid down for them, that a momentary outbreak of passion
against a "man in authority"--would condemn them to share the fate of
the ruffianly hare-shooters, and desperate snarers of pheasants,
rendered the thinking hours of the Irishmen heavy with angry regrets.
They were free and merry, but the fabled sword yet hung suspended, and a
caprice might at any time give them over to the coal mines of Port
Arthur, or the travelling sheds of the road-gangs. That fortune had not
cursed them with the companionship of those monsters among whom the
poachers and rick-burners learnt to curse God and live, was much to be
thankful for; but believing in their detention as infamous and unjust,
nothing short of absolute freedom would content them. At every hour, in
every place, the thought of their captivity embittered their pleasures.
Did Mitchel ride afield, or read at home, gallop (in the company of the
wife who had joined him) through the summer bush, or float with Meagher
and Doherty on the bosom of the crater-lake Sorell in the fastnesses of
the mountains, the same thought was present--he was a prisoner. Every
page of his journal breathes the same sentiment. "The spring day has
been most lovely, and the mimosa is just bursting into bloom, loading
the warm air with a rich fragrance which a European joyfully recognises
at once as a well-remembered perfume. It is precisely the fragrance of
the Queen of the Meadows 'spilling her spikenard.' At about ten miles
distance we descend into a deep valley, and water our horses in the
Jordan. Here, as it is the only practicable pass in this direction
between Bothwell and the Oatlands districts, stands a police station.
Two constables lounge before the door as we pass, and, as usual, the
sight of them makes us feel once more that the whole wide and glorious
forest is after all but an umbrageous and highly perfumed dungeon."

Again--"We approach the brow of a deep glen, where trees of vast height
wave their tops far beneath our feet, and the farther side of the glen
is formed by a promontory that runs out into the bay, with steep and
rocky sides worn into cliffs and caves--caves floored with silvery sand,
shell-strewn, such as in European seas would have been consecrate of old
to some Undine's love--caves whither Ligeia, if she had known the way,
might have come to comb her hair; and over the soft swelling slope of
the hill above, embowered so gracefully in trees, what building stands?
Is that a temple crowning the promontory as the pillared portico crowns.
Sunium, or a villa carrying you back to Baiae? Damnation! it is a
convict barrack."

But help was nigh at hand. On the 3rd of January, 1853 (three years out
of the fourteen having passed), the following entry appears in the
journal:--"A new personage has appeared amongst us, dropped down from
the sky, or from New York. When I arrived in Hobart Town two or three
days ago, I went first, of course, to St. Mary's Hospital, where I found
St. Kevin in his laboratory. He opened his eyes wide when he saw me,
drew me into a private room, and bid me guess who had come to Van
Diemen's Land. Guessing was out of the question, so I waited his

"Pat Smyth!"


"No, my boy--commissioned by the Irish Directory in New York to procure
the escape of one or more of us, O'Brien especially, and with abundant
means to secure a ship for San Francisco, and to provide for rescuing us
if necessary out of the hands of the police magistrate after withdrawing
the parole in due form."

Smyth was to meet O'Brien and Kevin at Bridgewater that evening to
arrange plans. Thither went John Mitchel; but some mischance delayed the
coach, and the hour approaching when O'Brien and Kevin must return to
their "registered lodgings," Mitchel was left alone. By-and-bye the
coach arrived, and amongst others a young man alighted. Mitchel guessed
that the stranger must be the Smyth of whom he had heard, so walking
round the coach, he abruptly accosted him. Smyth at first took him for a
spy, but soon was convinced that he was one of the men he had been sent
to seek. The next evening, at O'Brien's lodgings at New Norfolk, the
plot was unfolded. Smyth was hopeful and acute. He had himself passed
through many perils, had agitated in Ireland, escaped in peasant guise
to America, fulminated there with newspapers, raised friends and money,
and now adventured his head a second time in the noose. He was well
provided with letters of introduction, and with current coin. The sudden
"gold-fields" excitement had brought to Australia many bold spirits
ready to venture a ship in such a cause, and by dint of bribery and
stratagem it would be easy to get the exiles aboard her. But Smith
O'Brien would hear of but one mode of escape--to resign the parole, and
then trust to fortune. Mitchel suggests that the four should place
themselves in such a position as to be arrested all together, and then
rescue themselves by force of arms, or that the parole should be
simultaneously withdrawn at all the police offices; but this notion is
overruled. O'Brien's sentence being for "life," it was pressed upon him
to avail himself first of the services of Smyth, but he refused. "I have
had my chance," he said, "and it has failed; the expenses incurred have
been borne by public money; this is your chance--take it." It was then
decided that Smyth, or "Nicaragua," as he was termed among the
conspirators, should lend his best aid to rescue Mitchel, on condition
that Mitchel gave up his parole, and did not make use of the liberty it
afforded him to assist his escape.

All being decided upon, Smyth departed for Melbourne, there to obtain a
ship and crew. John Mitchel began also to make his preparations. Mr.
Davis, the police magistrate of the district, owned a white horse, "half
Arab, full of game, and of great endurance." Mitchel hearing that this
horse might be bought, purchased him. "I don't know the precise work you
want him to do," says Davis, "but you may depend upon his courage."
Mitchel, with an inward smile, stables his new purchase at Nant, and
waits for news. On the 18th of March came a letter from Melbourne, and
on the 24th Nicaragua himself arrived at Lake Sorell. All was prepared.
The brigantine "Waterlily," owned by John Macnamara of Sydney, was to
come to Hobart Town, clear thence for New Zealand, and then coast to
Spring Bay (on the east side of the island, about seventy miles from
Bothwell), and lie there for two days. Mitchel was to go to the
police-office at Bothwell, accompanied by Nicaragua and five others, all
armed, and having delivered up his parole, gallop on his new horse
midway to Spring Bay, where a relay would be provided, and reach the
shore by midnight. A boat sent by Macnamara would pick him up, and if
the police at the Spring Bay Station attempted a rescue, so much the
worse for them. On Sunday evening, however, a friendly resident at
Bothwell informed the six that "all was known," the Governor had for a
fortnight been informed of Nicaragua's intentions, the "Waterlily" was
purposely allowed to clear out of Hobart Town, the police force at
Spring Bay had been doubled, and two constables were on watch at
Mitchel's cottage. In Mitchel's own language, "the plot was blown to the
moon!" and the party dispersed with heavy hearts.

On the 12th of April an incident occurred which, appearing at the time
unfortunate, proved ultimately the aid to escape. Nicaragua, going to
Spring Bay to send off the "Waterlily," was arrested as John Mitchel. He
was carried to Hobart Town, and there lay sick. Mitchel went to see him,
and the two determined to seize upon the first opportunity to escape
together. It was not, however, until the 6th of June that such
opportunity offered itself. Then Smyth found a ship about to sail for
Sydney, the captain of which would receive his friend on board. A week
after this, Mitchel and Smyth started from Nant Cottage to make their
desperate venture. Nicaragua rode Donald the Arab, and Mitchel a
half-bred mare named Fleur-de-lis.

A quarter of a mile from the house, Mitchel's boy coming at full gallop
from Bothwell met them. He bore a note from the shipping agent. The ship
had gone--it was impossible to keep her longer without exciting
suspicion. Nevertheless, it was resolved to give up the parole as
agreed, and to hide in the mountains until a means of escape presented
itself. With this last hope, then, the two galloped to Bothwell. They
overtook a Mr. Denniston, who chatted agreeably about agricultural
matters, and asked Mitchel if he meant to put any of his land in crop
for the ensuing season. Mitchel answered truly enough that he "did not
know." At Bothwell their companion left them, and the pair rode
leisurely down the main street. At the police-barrack on the hill were
eight or nine constables armed, "undergoing a sort of drill," while at
the door was as usual a constable on guard. A Mr. Barr, "a worthy Scotch
gentleman and magistrate of the district," was standing close to the
gate. The two boys had by this time reached the township, and flinging
the reins to them as agreed upon, Mitchel and Smyth walked into the
police-office. Mr. Davis, the magistrate, was sitting at a table in the
court-room. His clerk was with him, and a constable was in the
police-office itself.

"Mr. Davis," says Mitchel, "here is a copy of a note which I have sent
to the Governor."

Davis cast his eye over the note and looked up at Mitchel. Nicaragua
planted himself at his friend's side with a menacing gesture, one hand
thrust into his breast feeling the butt of his revolver. Mitchel held in
his hand a heavy riding-whip, and had two pistols in his breast-pocket.
The note ran as follows:--

"Bothwell, 8th June, 1853.

"To the Lieut.-Gov., &c.

"Sir--I hereby resign the ticket-of-leave, and withdraw my parole. I
shall forthwith present myself before the police-magistrate of Bothwell,
at his office, show him a copy of this note, and offer myself to be
taken into custody. "Your obedient servant,


Mr. Davis, feeling doubtless pretty certain that if he accepted Mr.
Mitchel's offer he would be shot dead upon the spot, stared speechless.

"You see," says Mitchel, "my parole is at an end. I offer myself to be
taken into custody." Still the magistrate and clerk gaped.

"Good morning!" says Mitchel, putting on his hat, and moving to the

The movement, which probably brought the hands out of those dangerous
breast-pockets, broke the spell. "No, no, stop!" cried Davis; "stay
here! Rainsford! constables!"

But it was too late. The constables had heard nothing and knew nothing,
saw only the "ticket-of-leave prisoner, Mitchel," accompanied by his
friend, walk out into the court, and--any suspicions they may have had
silenced by Smyth's "judicious bribery"--only ran against each other in
confusion. The pair leaped into their saddles, and nodding to a few
"grinning residents of Bothwell," who "knew the meaning of the
performance in a moment," dashed down the street at full gallop. A mile
deep in the forest the fugitives changed horses. Smyth riding due north
to Nant Cottage on Fleur-de-lis, intending to make for Oatlands, and
thence by coach to Launceston. Mitchel, a mile further, met a friend,
T--H--, who undertook to guide him to Lake Sorell through the mountains.
All night they rode, only to lose their way in the thick darkness, and
camp on the edge of a precipice in the wildest part of the ranges. In
the morning they reach the hut of "old Job Sims," the friendly shepherd
of Mr. Russell (Job had assisted already at the escape of Meagher), and
there Mitchel wrote to his wife telling her of his fortune. The next day
he fell in with friends, and received the hospitality of a gentleman who
had a "large and handsome house at the base of the Western Tier."
Mitchel calls him "Wood," and says in a foot-note that "Wood is a
fictitious name." At the farmhouse of a Mr. Burke, six miles from
"Wood's," he lay concealed, waiting for news of Nicaragua and a chance
of escape. In the meantime Nicaragna had done well. Galloping furiously
to Oatlands, he inquired eagerly for "horses to Spring Bay," slipped out
of the hotel, climbed the wall, got round to the road, met the coach,
and went by it to Launceston, lying hid there duly shaved and disguised.
Seven mounted police despatched by Davis to "scour the country" find
Mitchel's Fleur-de-lis reeking with sweat in the stable at Oatlands, and
hearing that a gentleman had been asking for horses to Spring Bay, make
desperately in that direction. The Westbury police are patrolling day
and night, though bets are freely made in Hobart Town that Mitchel has
left the island; Davis is laughed at a good deal; Sir William Denison
repudiates all notion of the prisoner's letter; the constable who was on
duty at Davis's door is dismissed for having been "bribed," and, getting
amazingly drunk that evening, loudly expresses his hope that Mitchel is
safely out of the island. In the meantime a strict watch is kept upon
all "suspected persons."

So matters shape themselves until the 20th, when a friend, riding to
Burke's farm-house by night, brings a letter from Nicaragua. That
indefatigable conspirator is at Hobart Town, openly walking about
unarrested, and is negotiating with Macnamara, of the "Don Juan,"
brigantine. Two days after this, another message arrives. The "Don Juan"
is secured, and will call at Emu Bay on the 27th. Mitchel must by hook
or by crook be there to meet her. The floods are up, and to cross to Emu
Bay by land is impossible. All the river mouths, moreover, are watched
by police constables furnished with written descriptions of the prisoner
Mitchel. In this dilemma a new arrangement is effected. A trusty
messenger hurries to Launceston, there to tell the captain of the "Don
Juan" to lie off a "solitary beach" to the west of the mouth of the
Tamar, somewhere between West-head and Badger-head. To this place
Mitchel can get without crossing any river but the Meander.

On the night of the 24th a start was made. The weather was gloomy and
foreboding, the flooded meres and marshes now sheets of thin ice.
Mitchel having despatched two letters, one to his wife, one to his
mother in New York, gives himself into the hands of his guides and
body-guard. This last is of considerable number, consisting of the two
Burkes, Mr. "Wood," and his brother O'K--, O'Mara, Burke's
brother-in-law, and Foley, "a gigantic Tipperary boy." All day long
prudent Mrs. Burke occupies herself with preparations for the journey,
and "amongst other things," the good creature gets some lead, and
judiciously casts bullets.

After two days and nights of the flooded bush, scrambling up
mountain-sides, fording swollen creeks, and shivering benighted among
winter woods, the party reached Badger-head, only to find the brigantine
departed. Wearily waiting, at length another brigantine appeared, but,
despite all signal-fire and smoke, held on her course. Something was
wrong, and Mitchel's escort determined to place him for safety in the
hands of a Mr. Miller, who owned a station on the shores of Port Sorell.
Miller--a hater of Sir William Denison--promised to do his best for the
fugitive, and with him Mitchel stopped four days, waiting for the "Don
Juan." Sick to death of this hand-to-mouth liberty, he urges upon Miller
a variety of desperate schemes, and at last hits upon one that seems to
have in it some gleam of sense. Four miles down the river lies the
"Wave," about to sail for Melbourne with a cargo of sawn timber, and
Mitchel shall sail in her as Miller's brother. All is arranged, the
chief constable who "clears" the vessel unsuspicious, when a message
arrives that changes all their plans. Mr. Dease, a merchant of
Launceston, has secured for Father Macnamara a passage in the steamer to
Melbourne. So Father Macnamara, in the person of Mitchel, bids farewell
to the Millers, and in the dress of a Catholic priest gets to Launceston
through pouring rain. Mr. Miller's brother will not sail this trip.

But the haven is far from won. Rumours of the fugitive's midnight rides
are afloat, and the captain of the steamer says that the rigour of
searching has been so much increased of late that he durst not take the
holy father aboard. Macnamara must risk his cloth and life in an open
boat to the mouth of the Tamar, there to lie until the steamer in
passing can fling him some unseen rope. The night sets in wet and
stormy, and drenched, weary, and despairing, Macnamara arrived just
before dawn at a point of the river seventeen miles from George Town.
There a man named Barrett was to take him aboard another boat, and get
him to the steamer. Lying hid on the banks of the Tamar, the false
priest saw the steamer pass, pause, then make direct for the heads, and
then pause again. Barrett had gone across to George Town to make some
excuse for bringing out his boat, and did not return for an hour. The
steamer could not wait, and after fifteen minutes got up steam. Father
Macnamara sitting in the stern of Barrett's returned boat, and pulled by
four strong men desperately down the bay, saw her suddenly sweep round
the lighthouse and disappear. There was nothing for it but to get back
to Launceston with all speed.

Lying hid in the well-bushed banks again until night, the hunted wretch
made the passage up the river. The night was as black as pitch, the rain
poured in torrents, the woods groaned and shrieked; nothing was visible
but the glimmer of the white foam on the water. Four times was the boat
driven ashore, and the fourth time, when sixteen miles from Launceston,
the boatmen refused to proceed further, and exhausted and disheartened,
flung themselves on the wet banks, and slept under the pouring rain.
Desperate Mitchel now resolved to trust to his disguise, and go to
Hobart Town by the public coach, so, getting into Launceston by midday,
he walked coolly down the street to the house of a friend, and having
eaten, took passage as Father Blake by the night coach. He accomplished
his journey safely, notwithstanding that he had a fellow-passenger, the
Hon. T. M'Dowell, then Attorney-General, who tried to get him into
conversation about his "bishop." At Green Ponds, where every creature
knew him by sight, he had a narrow escape. The chief-constable, on
"special business," looked in upon him; but Father Blake, with one hand
on the farthest door-handle, and the other grasping the butt of a pistol
hidden beneath his cassock, met the inquiring gaze unflinchingly. At
Bridgewater Father Blake alighted, feeling that to brave the "door of
the Ship Inn in Hobart Town, crowded with detectives," would be madness.
He spent the day walking by the river bank, and took passage by the
night coach to Hobart Town. In the centre of the town he made the
coachman pull up, and walked to Conellan's house in Collins street. The
door was opened by Nicaragua himself, the first time they had met since
they changed horses on the banks of the Clyde five weeks before. Father
Blake was among friends at last.

Half an hour sufficed to arrange their plans. Conellan's house was
watched and was unsafe, so Mitchel, as "Mr. Wright," was to lie for a
week at the house of Mr. Manning (Macnamara's agent), and then take
passage in the passenger brig "Emma," for Sydney; Nicaragua to start for
Bothwell in the morning, and bring down Mrs. Mitchel and the children,
who would go on board the "Emma" openly, "Mr. Wright" being picked up in
the evening by a special boat.

On the 19th of July the "Emma" cleared out of Hobart Town, and the next
day a Mr. Wright, who has appeared on board; makes casual acquaintance
with Nicaragua and some of the other passengers, and sits down to smoke
and chat. Mrs. Mitchel with her children--the object of compassion to
many worthy souls aboard--watches Mr. Wright eagerly, but does not speak
to him. On the 23rd of July Mr. Wright, under the name of "Warren," is
domiciled at the house of James Macnamara, in Sydney, waiting for a
vessel, and in the meantime lionises Sydney, "a seaport town of 80,000
inhabitants," says he, "and there's an end."

At length a cabin passage is secured for Mr. Warren in the "Orkney
Lass," bound for Honolulu, and on the 2nd of August that good ship was
cleared at Sydney Heads, and John Mitchel, at five o'clock in the
evening, saw the "coast of New South Wales a hazy line upon the purple
sea, fading into a dream."

Of his further adventures, until he landed on the 29th of November,
1853, in Brooklyn, it is not my province to here relate. His family
followed him, and in America his faculties found scope for expansion.
Among the Confederates his name is almost famous.

A word, however, about the manner of escape. It is hard to say that
Mitchel broke his parole, but I am afraid that at best his escape was
due to a melodramatic quibble. He certainly gave up his
"ticket-of-leave" before he attempted escape, but he made all the
arrangements for escape by virtue of the liberty which that
ticket-of-leave afforded him. His parole obtained him interviews with
Smyth, freedom to plot, money, horses, and arms. To march like a stage
hero into a police-office, and with hand on pistol (purchased by virtue
of the parole) disdainfully ask an unarmed police magistrate to take him
into custody, was not an honest withdrawal of his plighted word. To
fulfil the terms of his contract with the Government, he should have
placed himself in the hands of the constables in the condition he had
been in when the parole was granted him--namely, unarmed, a prisoner,
with bars and stone walls around him, and no fleet horse waiting at the
door to carry him to safety, or bold companion at his side ready to
withstand attempt at capture. Poor Smith O'Brien, eating his heart in
his cell at Maria Island, better understood the nature of the promise of
a gentleman. I am willing to believe, however, that Mitchel--perpetually
posing as a hero--was blinded by the melodramatic heroies of the
proceeding to a true comprehension of its merits.


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