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Title: History of New South Wales From the Records, Volume I
Author: George Burnett Barton
A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook
eBook No.: 1204171h.html
Language: English
Date first posted: November 2012
Date most recently updated: November 2012

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Please note that the companion volume in this Centennial Series, Volume II. of "The History of New South Wales From the Records", [by Alexander Britton], is also available at
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[Volume I.]











"Nor do I doubt but that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made."—ARTHUR PHILLIP.

By Authority




[Registered under the Copyright Act, 1879]






1.1 Proposals for Colonising New South Wales

1.2 Transportation and Colonisation

1.3 Transportation to America

1.4 The expedition to Botany Bay

1.5 Phillip's Commission

1.6 Preparations for the Expedition

1.7 A Vain Petition

1.8 The Fleet at Sea

1.9 England a Hundred Years ago

1.10 Sir Joseph Banks

1.11 Australia a Hundred Years ago

1.12 Phillip and his Work

1.13 Phillip and the Military

1.14 Phillip and the Natives

1.15 Phillip and Exploration

1.16 Exploration by Sea

1.17 Phillip and his Staff

1.18 The Courts of Law

1.19 Crime and Punishment in the Eighteenth Century

1.20 The Chronicles of Sydney Cove


2.1 The Foundation of the Colony

2.2 First News from Botany Bay

2.3 Administration of Justice

2.4 The Civil and the Military


3.1 James Maria Matra's Proposal

3.2 Sir George Young's Proposal

3.3 Heads of a Plan

3.4 Lord Sydney's Letters

3.5 Portuguese Convicts

3.6 The Depopulation Theory

3.7 History of Transportation to 1787

3.8 Order-in-Council

3.9 The Act of Parliament establishing the Colony

3.10 Cromwell's Prisoners

3.11 Transportation to America

3.12 Early Virginian Planters

3.13 Transportation to the West Indies

3.14 An Official Estimate of Transportation

3.15 Dr. Lang's Estimate

3.16 Statistics of Transportation

3.17 Warrants for Transportation to America

3.18 Contemporary Opinions

3.19 Sir Joseph Banks

3.20 Phillip's Commission

3.21 Phillip's Instructions

3.22 Governors' Commissions.

3.23 The First Fleet

3.24 Burke on Transportation to Africa

3.25 Colonisation of Africa

3.26 Arthur Phillip

3.27 Letters from Sydney Cove

3.28 Deserted Colonies

3.29 From Pittwater to Sydney in 1789

3.30 Phillip's Staff

3.31 La Pérouse at Botany Bay

3.32 A Pathetic Letter

3.33 King's Commission as Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island

3.34 Phillip's Instructions to King

3.35 Judge-Advocate Collins

3.36 Letters Patent Constituting the Courts of Law

3.37 Letters Patent Constituting the Vice-Admiralty Court

3.38 Letters Patent Empowering Governor Phillip to Remit Sentences

3.39 Crime and Punishment in the Eighteenth Century

3.40 Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove

3.41 The American Loyalists

3.42 Live Stock

3.43 Native Food Supply

3.44 The Judge-Advocate's Opinion

3.45 An American Colonist on Transportation

3.46 Administration of the Colonies in 1787

3.47 Pitt's Ministry




[Page Numbers of Chapters in the Book]


Nouvelle Hollande

The Londe of Java

Terra Australis

Sir Joseph Banks

New Holland

Arthur Phillip

The First Exploration Chart

Philip Gidley King

The Governor's House at Rose Hill

Sydney Cove

The First Plan of Sydney

[Statistics of Transportation]


THE attainment by the colony of the Centennial period of its existence, appeared to the Government of New South Wales an appropriate occasion for the preparation, at the public cost, of a comprehensive history, embodying information obtainable from all known sources, and of such an authentic character as to form a reliable basis for the labours of the future historian. The duty of preparing this important work having been entrusted to me, it seemed necessary, in order to do justice to the valuable collection of records placed in my hands by the Government, to make them the groundwork of a narrative written on an essentially different plan from that of any previous one on the subject. {1}

In no account of the country yet published have the records relating to its early years been made use of, at any length. There is but one in which they are quoted or referred to; {2} but the plan on which it was written did not permit of extensive references to them, and consequently an occasional paragraph from the despatches furnishes the only indication of the mine beneath. At the same time, the exigency of space apparently required the author to condense the history of the colony to an extent which rendered any adequate treatment of the subject impossible. The narrative of events from 1787 to 1792—the term of Phillip's command—is compressed into some eighty pages. In three other well known works, not even a reference to the records can be found; and the narrow limits within which the writers moved may be seen from the fact that the period in question is disposed of in forty pages by one, in fifty by a second, and in less than seventy by a third. {3}

It is obvious that the events connected with the foundation of the colony, extending as they did over several years, cannot be satisfactorily treated on such a plan, in any work pretending to be historical. When a mass of material, more than enough in itself to form a volume, is condensed into a few pages, the result cannot be history in the proper sense of the term; it is, in fact, nothing more than elaborated almanac. For many reasons, the period in question might be termed the most important as well as the most interesting in our annals, and the records relating to it cannot fail to command attention wherever the history of an infant nation is regarded with interest—whether as a matter of national concern, or simply as a field for the development of novel theories in politics and sociology.

No one can read the letters and despatches written by Phillip without feeling the varied interest—human as well as historical—that attaches to them. Extending as they do over the whole period of his connection with the colony, they contain all the essential facts connected with its foundation and its years of infancy, when its life seemed so often trembling in the balance; but at the same time we have something more than the essential facts; for we find them everywhere interwoven with many little details of social life, as well as of Phillip's personal experience, which often, no doubt, fall far below "the dignity of history", but are much too valuable as well as interesting to be omitted. His despatches were written out from his journal, and consequently they possess the peculiar charm which makes all journals more or less attractive; great historical events and little personal matters being mixed up in the narrative just as they are in daily life. Many of the trifling details with which the reader will meet in these pages may perhaps lead him to ask—why should such trivial passages be printed in a history? A little consideration, however, will show that they have their historical as well as their personal value. Even when we find Phillip repeating himself, as he often does, his repetitions are worth preserving, because they serve to show how his mind was working at the time, and in that way they reveal the character of the man as well as the circumstances by which he was surrounded. For similar reasons it has been thought proper to publish his written words exactly as he wrote them, without making any attempt to correct his spelling and grammar, or to smooth the rugged surface of his style.

The historical value of these records will be appreciated when it is remembered that no similar series exists in the case of any other country. If we turn for comparison to the history of the American colonies, the difference is as great as that between a landscape lying in the sunshine, and one dimly seen through the mists and clouds of winter. In the preface to a history of the province of New York, written in 1756, the author said—"Except some accounts of the settlements in Massachusetts Bay and Virginia, all the other histories of our plantations upon the continent are little else than collections of falsehoods, and worse than none." It is not quite clear from this passage whether the exception was intended to include the most famous of all the American chronicles—"the Generall Historie of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles, by Captain John Smith, sometymes Governour in those Countryes, and Admirall of New England"; but it is certainly open to some such criticism. Captain Smith's work is the best specimen of a personal narrative of American colonisation which English literature can produce; and it is worth while to consider its literary character in order to appreciate our own good fortune in the matter of historical materials. {4} The reader can form a good estimate of the Captain's value as a chronicler from a passage in his dedication to the duchess of Richmond, in which he recounts some of the romantic passages in his life:—

The beauteous Lady Tragabigdanza, when I was a slave to the Turks, did all she could to secure me. When I overcame the Bashaw of Nalbrits in Tartaria, the charitable Lady Callamata supplied my necessities. In the utmost of many extremities, that blessed Pokahontas, the great King's daughter of Virginia, oft saved my life. When I escaped the cruelty of pirates and most furious storms, a long time alone in a small boat at sea, and driven ashore in France, the good lady Madam Chanoyes bountifully assisted me.

Captain Phillip had not any such conquests as these to boast of; we do not know that he captivated a single princess among the sable tribes he met with in such numbers on these shores, and so far the tale he has to tell derives no charm from romance. No blessed Pokahontas figures in his story; but what it wants in point of sentiment is more than atoned for by its realistic pictures of the life around him. The American chronicler leaves his reader in doubt as to when he is relating plain facts and when he is merely filling up gaps with imaginary adventures. Phillip never leaves us in doubt as to any matter he deals with; although his language has neither point nor polish, it is minutely circumstantial and therefore free from suspicion—free, too, from the stilted phraseology of official correspondence.

Similar criticism might be applied to those of his contemporaries,—Collins, Hunter, King, Tench, and White—who wrote their journals from day to day during the first years of the settlement. The sketches left by these men, each of whom wrote from a different point of view, combine to make up a perfectly faithful picture of the great event in which they were concerned—a picture as accurate in every line as a photograph; for had the sketchers been using sunlight instead of ink for the scenes they described, their work could not have been more true to nature than it is. Where in the history of colonisation shall we look for equally faithful work on the part of chroniclers? In the records left by Phillip and his companions, the natural evolution of that complex organism which we call society may be studied as minutely as the naturalist examines the movements of an insect under a microscope. The rudimentary limbs and organs may be seen slowly developing themselves out of the embryo; struggling into existence, it is true, under the most unfavourable conditions, and frequently threatened with death from inanition; but still showing a native vigour which enabled them to survive the perils that surrounded them, and attain their full development in later years.

For the purpose of constitutional study in particular, the importance of such records as these cannot be overestimated. Every one who has sought to master the constitutional history of England knows how difficult it is to get any clear understanding of the origin of those institutions, legal and political, which make up what is called the English Constitution. It was not until the scholars of the present day made their laborious investigations among the records of the Saxon and the Norman period that the student was enabled to trace those institutions back through successive ages to their earliest forms; to see, for instance, the right of trial by jury, of personal liberty, of parliamentary government, of free speech, and every other right valued by Englishmen, growing out of their rude surroundings as easily as he can follow the gradual developments of vertebrate life in the collections of a museum. Great as the difference is between a colony and its parent State, there is no absurdity in comparing the constitutional growth of one with that of the other. The lapse of a hundred years has given this country a history, and the peculiar circumstances under which it has grown to its present dimensions lend an unusual interest to the examination of its successive stages—from the small military camp under Governor Phillip, to the great group of colonies in the present day. {5}

The final section of this volume contains the Bibliography of Terra Australis, New Holland, and New South Wales to the year 1820, in which many historical references of some interest will be found, as well as a catalogue of all the various publications on the subject. "Knowledge", said Dr. Johnson, "is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we inquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and the backs of books in libraries." The force of this remark will be appreciated by every one who has paid any attention to the history of this country. To know what books have treated of it, from the earliest times to the present day, is an essential preliminary to the study; but hitherto the bibliography of the subject has been left almost untouched. The present attempt being the first of the kind that has been made here, the result cannot pretend to be complete; like the rest of the work, it has had to contend with very adverse conditions as regards time and materials. Before such a catalogue can be made, it would be necessary to search the public libraries of Holland, France, Spain, and Portugal, as well as those of England; because there can be no doubt that many publications relating to this part of the world—from the first indications of its existence down to recent periods—have appeared from time to time in those countries, of which at present we know nothing.

It is much to be wished that some effort should be made for the purpose of obtaining as complete a collection of those publications as can now be made; and also that the Dutch, French, Spanish, and Portuguese archives should be carefully searched for the purpose of procuring authentic copies of all State papers relating to this country. It is not until these materials shall have been obtained that we can hope to arrive at any satisfactory conclusions with respect to the only portion of our history that still remains buried in obscurity. By a remarkable fatality, almost every writer who has had to deal with the past ages of Australia has felt impelled to begin with an account of the early voyages of discovery—on much the same principle that historians of old used to commence with the creation of the world. To deal with the subject of discovery, in the darkness which still surrounds it, is hardly a less difficult task than that of the learned Burgomaster Witsen, when he undertook to write on the Migrations of Mankind. We have only to recall the various theories with respect to the question of priority among the discoverers in order to see the existing state of confusion. There are at least five such theories still in existence: one sets up the Malays and the Chinese as the first discoverers; another the French; a third, the Portuguese, a fourth, the Spaniards; and a fifth, the Dutch. Each of these theories is supported by a great deal of argument and some evidence; but nothing seems to come of either but doubt and despair. To show how unsettled the question still remains, it is enough to mention that Major, in 1859, considered it highly probable that the Portuguese discovered the country between 1511 and 1529, and almost certain that they discovered it before 1542; but having found a mappemonde in the British Museum two years afterwards, he came to the conclusion that the country was positively discovered by the Portuguese in 1601—the Dutch being thus summarily dispossessed of an honour they had enjoyed for more than two centuries. Further researches enabled the lucky discoverer of the map to satisfy himself that it was "an abominable imposture", and the laurel crown was thereupon handed back to the Dutch. {6} Unfortunately, however, the detection of the imposture escaped the notice of many who had read the account of the map—among them being the author of a valuable work on the History of Australian Exploration, in whose pages it appears as unquestioned evidence of "a Portuguese discovery of Australia immediately preceding the Dutch one". {7} However interesting the point of priority may be, it is a matter of little importance compared with a reasonably accurate knowledge of the whole subject—for which we must wait until it is treated, like any other branch of inquiry, according to the critical methods of the present day.


{1} {return}

The collection comprises authentic copies of the records relating to New South Wales, preserved in the Public Record Office in London, and also in various departments of the State; the copies having been made under instructions from the Colonial Secretary (Sir Henry Parkes, G.C.M.G.) by Mr. James Bonwick, an experienced archivist, whose contributions to Australian history are well known in the colonies. It also includes original records in the office of the Colonial Secretary at Sydney; others lent by the Hon. Philip Gidley King, M.L.C., grandson of Governor King; and lastly, the valuable letters and other documents left by Sir Joseph Banks, which came into the possession of the present Lord Brabourne and were purchased from him by the Agent-General (Sir Saul Samuel, K.C.M.G.) on behalf of the Government.

{2} {return}

Rusden, History of Australia, 1883.

{3} {return}

Lang, Historical and Statistical Account of New South Wales, 1834, vol. i, pp. 21-60; Flanagan, History of New South Wales, 1862, vol. i, pp. 21-71; Bennett, History of Australian Discovery and Colonisation, 1867, pp. 107-171. The fact mentioned in the text does not detract in any way from the merits of these works, which were all written with definite ends in view.

{4} {return}

Doyle, The English in America, pp. 554-8.

{5} {return}

In the course of his letter to Lord Knutsford, of the 28th February, 1889—in which he discussed the relations between the Home Government and these colonies, with particular reference to the Commission and Instructions issued to their Governors,—Chief Justice Higinbotham, of Victoria, remarked: "I have not seen a copy of an Australian Governor's Commission and Instructions of an earlier date than 1850." It is a curious fact that although Governor Phillip's Commission and Instructions form the foundation of our political system, they have never been published until the present day.

{6} {return}

Early Voyages to Terra Australis, p. lxiv; Archæologia, vol. xxxviii, p. 438; Prince Henry the Navigator, p. 296 n.

{7} {return}

Favenc, History of Australian Exploration (Sydney, 1888), p. 21.


I HAVE to express my obligations to Mr. D. R. Hawley, Assistant Librarian of the Free Public Library, for his cordial assistance in the examination of authorities, which has been greatly facilitated by his extensive knowledge of books; to Mr. T. A. Coghlan, Government Statistician, for the statistical returns compiled by him on the subject of transportation; to Mr. F. M. Bladen, of the Government Printing Office; and also to Mr. Charles Potter, the Government Printer, whose proposal for a new edition of the Official History of New South Wales (1883), in commemoration of the Centennial Year, led to the present work.

G. B. B.   


[* added to those works available at
Project Gutenberg Australia]

Andrews, Eighteenth Century
Annual Register
Bacon, Essays
Bancroft, History of the United States
* Banks, Sir Joseph, Papers
Bayle, Dictionary
Bennett, Gatherings of a Naturalist
Bennett, History of Australian Discovery and Colonisation
Bentham, Panopticon
Bigge, Report of the Commission of Inquiry
Blackstone, Commentaries
* Bligh, Voyage to the South Sea
Boswell's Life of Samuel Johnson, by Napier
Breton, Excursions in New South Wales
Brosses, Histoire des Navigations
Brougham, Lives of Philosophers and Statesmen
Burke, Edmund, Speeches
Burke, Celebrated Naval and Military Trials
* Burney, Voyages in the South Sea
Burton, State of Religion and Education in New South Wales
Callander, Terra Australis Cognita
Child, New Discourse of Trade
Clarendon, History of the Rebellion
Clode, Military Forces of the Crown
* Collins, Account of the Colony
Colonial Office List
Colquhoun, Police of The Metropolis
* Cook, Captain: Voyages
Cooper, History of the Rod
Cunningham, Two Years in New South Wales
* Dalrymple, Historical Collection of Voyages
* Dampier, Voyages
Darwin, Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove
De Foe, Moll Flanders
   "  "   Colonel Jack
Dictionary of National Biography
Doyle, The English in America
   "  "   History of America
Duff, Voyage of the
Echard, History of England
Edwards, History of the West Indies
Encyclopaedia Britannica
* Eyre, Journals of Expeditions
* Favenc, History of Australian Exploration
Federal and State Constitutions of the United States
Finlason, Martial Law
Flanagan, History of New South Wales
* Flinders, Voyage to Terra Australis
* Forrest, Explorations in Australia
Furneaux, Captain, Narrative
Gentleman's Magazine
Goldsmith, Retaliation
Grenville Papers
* Grey, Journals of Two Expeditions
Griffiths, Chronicles of Newgate
Hakluyt Society, The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher
Hakluyt, Master
Hamilton, Voyage round the World
Hansard, New South Wales
Harris, Collection of Voyages
Hawkesworth, Voyages
Haydn, Dictionary of Dates
Hervey, Australia
Helps, Spanish Conquest in America
History of New Holland
Hogarth, The Idle 'Prentice sent to Sea
   "  "   executed at Tyburn
Holt, Memoirs
Howard, State of the Prisons
* Hunter, Historical Journal
Jamaica, History of [anon]
Jefferson, Works
Jesse, Memoirs of George the Third
Johnston, Report of the Trial by Court-martial [G. Paterson]
Kelynge's Reports
Knight, London
Labilliere, Early History of Victoria
Landman, Adventures and Recollections
Lang, Historical Account of New South Wales
Lang, Transportation and Colonisation
Lecky, History of England in the Eighteenth Century
Lewis, Government of Dependencies
London Evening Post
   "  "   Globe
Longman's School Geography for Australasia
Lucas, Introduction to a Historical Geography of the British Colonies
Macintosh, Sir James, Speeches
Maiden, Description of some Sixteenth Century Maps
* Major, Early Voyages to Terra Australis
   "  "   Archæeologia
   "  "   Prince Henry the Navigator
Malte Brun, Geographie Universelle
* Mann, Present Picture of New South Wales
Massey, Reign of George the Third
McGregor, British America
Merivale, Lectures on Colonisation
Mills, Colonial Constitutions
* Mitchell, Journals of an Expedition
Monthly Review
Mulhall, Dictionary of Statistics
Mundy, Our Antipodes
Napier, Remarks on Military Law
New Monthly Magazine
North, Life of Lord Keeper Guildford
Notes and Queries
Paley, Moral and Political Philosophy
Parker, Voyage Round the World
Parkinson, Journal of a Voyage
Parliamentary Reports, House of Commons
Parliamentary History of England
Payne, the Colonies
Pennant, Outlines of the Globe
Pinkerton, Modern Geography
* Péron, Voyage de Découvertes
Pérouse, Voyage
* Phillip's Voyage
Pike, History of Crime
Purchas, His Pilgrimes
Rapin, History of England
Reid, Two Voyages to New South Wales
Roebuck, The Colonies of England
Rogers, Social Life in Scotland
Romilly, Sir Samuel, Memoirs
Royal Society, Philosophical Transactions of
Rusden, History of Australia
Russell, English Government and Constitution
Sadeur, Jacques, Les Avantures de
Shaw, Zoology of New Holland
Smith, Captain John, The Generall Historie of Virginia
Smith, History of New York
Smith, Wealth of Nations
Southey, History of Brazil
Stanhope, Life of Pitt
Statutes' of the United Kingdom
Statutes of New South Wales
Stephen, History of the Criminal Law
Story, Exposition of the Constitution
Strzelecki, Physical Description of New South Wales
* Sturt, Two Expeditions
Suttor, Memoirs of Sir Joseph Banks
* Tench, Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay
* Tench, Complete Account of the Settlement
Tovey, Martial Law
* Tuckey, Account of a Voyage to establish a colony at Port Phillip
Tytler, Military Law
Vancouver, Voyage of Discovery
Voltaire, Dialogues
* Wentworth, Description of New South Wales
* West, History of Tasmania
* White, Surgeon, Journal of a Voyage
Whitehall Evening Poet
Whitworth, Gazetteer of New South Wales
Woods, History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia


AT the time when Cook sailed into Botany Bay in 1770 most Englishmen, it might be said, knew as much about New Holland as they did about the countries lying round the North Pole, They knew that there was a large tract of land to the south of New Guinea, which had been so far explored that its existence was an ascertained fact; but they knew very little more than that. The big folios in which all the known voyages and travels in different parts of the world had been collected by enterprising publishers from time to time—and which had for many years supplied the place of the old romances of chivalry among the reading public—told them very little about New Holland. The latest edition of Harris's collection of voyages (1764), gave them only the voyages of de Quiros, Pelsart, Tasman, and Dampier. Callander's collection, entitled Terra Australis Cognita (1766-8), contained those voyages and also a short historical summary of the Dutch explorations from 1616 to 1705. These portions of the collection were—like the rest of it—mere translations from a French original. By far the most popular publications on the subject were the various editions of Dampier. His New Voyage Bound the World appeared in 1697, and his Voyage to New Holland in the year 1699 was published in 1703; each passing rapidly through several editions. How much they suited the taste of the age may be seen in a French translation published at Amsterdam in 1701-5, in four neat duodecimos—evidently intended for the ship's cabin as well as the library on shore. Dampier's popularity seems to have spread over all Europe, and naturally, for up to that time no such tales of the sea had appeared in print. There was none of the romance about them which made the voyages of the great discoverers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries seem so marvellous; but they were distinguished from all other works of the kind by the author's power of observation and the graphic style of his narrative, which almost rivalled that of his contemporary De Foe. {1} Other navigators might have been as exact in their nautical and astronomical calculations, but they did not enter into competition with him in the art of story-telling—an art which lost none of its power from being clothed in the homely language of a sailor. So far as New Holland was concerned, his account of it became stereotyped in the memory of his countrymen; an unfortunate fact for the country itself, since the impression left behind was as unfavourable as it could well be. The land rose up before the reader's imagination in the shape of a barren, sandy region, "destitute of Water, except you make Wells", and of everything else that could make a new country attractive to either trader or traveller; inhabited, too, by a race of beings described as the lowest and most degraded type of mankind. Such were the ideas associated with every mention of New Holland, down to the time when the lieutenant in command of the Endeavour determined to explore its eastern coast on his way home from New Zealand.

It is not a very difficult task to identify the known geography of the country at that time; and it is well worth the trouble to do so, in order to get some clear idea of the opinions held by Cook and his companions on the subject. We have only to recall to mind the various works then in circulation, and to glance in imagination at the book-shelves in the cabins of the Endeavour. The little library on board, we may be sure, comprised every work of any value to the geographer and naturalist in the South Sea. First on the list we may place the two quartos published by de Brosses in 1756, containing a complete collection of all the known voyages to the South Lands—(p. 575); the first volume of which contained the Dutch voyages en Australasie, with a chapter (xxvi) on the Dutch discoveries in New Holland. The charts published with each volume showed the position and extent of Nouvelle Hollande as it was then known, and were no doubt consulted with peculiar interest as the Endeavour neared its eastern coast. When he was leaving it in September, 1770, Cook mentioned them in his journal:—"The charts with which I compared such parts of this coast as I visited, are bound up with a French work entitled Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, which was published in 1756, and I found them tolerably exact." Looking at one of these charts, we observe that there is nothing to indicate the existence of the straits between the mainland and Van Diemen's Land; but the passage now known as Torres Straits is distinctly shown, although in the text the author repeatedly expresses a doubt whether the mainland touched New Guinea or not.

Nouvelle Hollande.

Why this doubt should have been expressed by de Brosses when the position of the straits is shown so clearly in his charts, is a question not easily answered. The discovery of the fact that Torres had sailed through the straits in 1606 is attributed to Dalrymple, who made it known to the world in his Account of the Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean previous to 1764, published in 1767—a work which we may safely assume had its place in the Endeavour's library—(p. 576). Flinders states in his introduction that "the existence of such a strait was generally unknown until 1770, when it was again discovered and passed by our great circumnavigator. Captain Cook." In making this statement, he seems to have repeated a remark made in the introduction (p. xvi) to Cook's Third Voyage, where the reader is told that "though the great sagacity and extensive reading of Mr. Dalrymple had discovered some traces of such a passage having been found before, yet those traces were so obscure and so little known in the present age that", among other things, "the President de Brosses had not been able to satisfy himself about them." {2} But unless he had satisfied himself on the subject, why did he construct his maps of New Holland and New Guinea in such a manner as to show the straits? This is one of the many little puzzles connected with Australian geography of the last century which deserve the attention of those who are interested in it. The only answer to the question seems to be that de Brosses looked upon New Holland as an island, probably considering that fact established; but not having seen the Relation written by Torres of his passage through the straits, he thought that there was just room for a doubt on the subject. Nothing was known about Tasman's second voyage in his time.

Dalrymple's Historical Collection of Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean was another work of great authority at the time it was published—1770. It contained a chart of the South Pacific, "pointing out the discoveries made therein previous to 1764", which showed Torres' track in 1606 through the straits. The work made its appearance too late to form part of the Endeavour's library; but its influence on the geographical speculation of the age may be seen at a glance if we compare the introduction and the chapter entitled "Investigation of what may be farther expected in the South Sea", with the introduction to Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole. Dalrymple was an enthusiast on this subject, but he was not entitled to any credit for originality in his speculations; he merely revived the old theory of the southern continent, but he did it with so much force of argument and illustration that an expedition to determine the question was a natural result. It was perhaps unfortunate for us that his work was not published before the Endeavour sailed; because we may be allowed to suppose that if Cook had had an opportunity of reading it, his attention would have been directed to the name AUSTRALIA, from its frequent appearance in capital letters—suggesting the idea that the author intended to point it out as the proper name for the country. By such an accident, the land discovered by Cook mighty peradventure, have escaped the unsatisfactory name it has since borne.

Callander's translation of de Brosses appeared in 1766-68—(p. 576); the second and third volumes being published only two months before the Endeavour sailed; but we may take it for granted that they were not left behind. The three volumes had the advantage of being published in a handy form; but the literary execution was slovenly, and it is manifest that Callander was not a geographer of much discrimination. He published two charts, reproductions from the French work, the larger one showing the outlines of New Holland and the discoveries of de Quiros. Let us suppose that, as soon as the Endeavour was steered westward from Cape Farewell in New Zealand, Cook and his companions read the following account of the country they were about to explore:—

New Holland is that vast region which extends from the sixth to the 34th degree of south latitude, and from longtitude 124 degrees to 187. To the north it has the Molucca islands, or the sea of Lanchidol. To the west and south the Indian Ocean, and the Pacific to the east. But, in this immense stretch of land, we are acquainted only with some parts of the coast lying separated from each other, without being able to affirm whether they compose one continent or (as it is more likely) they are large islands separated from each other by canals or arms of the sea, the narrowest of which have been supposed by navigators to be the mouths of rivers. Neither are we yet assured if New Holland joins New Guinea on the north, or Van Diemen's Land to the south. Tasman has verified by his course that New Zealand, lying to the south-east, is totally separated by the sea from the continents and islands that lie nearer the equator.

The principal countries of New Holland we are as yet acquainted with are, Carpentaria to the north-east, the coast of which, forming a great bay, faces to the west. At the entry of this bay are the Molucca islands; to the north lie the lands of Arnheim and Diemen, which last is different from the Diemen of Abel Tasman: To the north-west lies the land of De Witte. Towards the west lie Endracht or Concordia, Edels, and Lewin. This last occupies the point which lies south-west. To the south lies the land of Peter Nuytz, and further south, but trending eastwards, the land of Diemen, if indeed this last should be comprehended under the division we are now describing.

In running along the east coast of this country, back towards the Equator, we find the Terra Australis del Espiritu Santo, discovered by Quiros. But all this vast interval, lying behind Lewin and Quiros' discovery, is so little known that we cannot tell what part of it is land and what is sea. This tract extends from latitude 43 degrees south to latitude 19 degrees, and has not hitherto been visited, at least as far as we know.

The last paragraph shows that Callander, following de Brosses, imagined that the land discovered by de Quiros formed part of the mainland, as shown on the chart. But this error was detected by Cook before he passed out of the reefs into the open sea. How correctly he had judged the matter may be seen from his statement on the 13th August, 1770, when he wrote:—

The islands which were discovered by Quiros, and called Australia del Espiritu Santo, lie in this parallel; but how far to the eastward cannot now be ascertained: in most charts they are placed in the same longitude with this country which, as appears by the account of his voyage that has been published, he never saw; for that places his discoveries no less than two and twenty degrees to the eastward of it. {3}

It is worth while to remember that Dampier intended, in 1699, to begin his discoveries "upon the Eastern and least known Side of the Terra Australis." He did not carry out that intention because he was afraid of "compassing the South of America in a very high Latitude in the depth of the Winter there"; and also for another reason which he stated in these words—

For should it be ask'd why at my first making that Shore, I did not coast it to the Southward, and that way try to get round to the East of New Holland and New Guinea; I confess I was not for spending my Time more than was necessary in the higher Latitudes; as knowing that the Land there could not be so well worth the discovering, as the Parts that lay nearer the Line, and more directly under the Sun. {4}

IT is necessary here to clear away a very prevalent misapprehension with respect to the land known to geography as Terra Australis, or Terra Australis Incognita. It has been supposed by many writers that the southern continent which formed the main object of Cook's first voyage was identical with the country then known as New Holland. The great discovery that he had in view had nothing to do with that part of the world. His object was to settle the question—about which the geographers were still uncertain—whether the southern continent, classically termed the Terra Australis, really existed or not. As he put it in the introduction to his Second Voyage, he had to determine "whether the unexplored part of the southern hemisphere be only an immense mass of water, or contain another continent." The geographers were not at all curious about the precise position and extent of New Holland; in fact they had not manifested any curiosity about it at all; but the question of the unknown continent was the most important problem in their science at that time.

The common misconception on this subject may perhaps be traced to a mistaken construction of the word Terra. As used by the old geographers, it evidently meant a continent as distinguished from an island. When, for instance, the Spaniards passed from Hispaniola to the mainland, they called it the Tierra firme, to distinguish it from the islands. So, too, when the geographers gave the name Terra Australis Incognita to the undiscovered land in the south, they were thinking of a vast continent stretching from east to west through the South Pacific, and running round the South Pole. The land discovered by the Dutch—which they afterwards called Hollandia Nova in their charts and Nieuw Holland in their conversation—was always supposed to be either one island or several islands separated by straits. In the sixteenth century, it was described on the map drawn by John Rotz (1542) as The Londe of Java; the idea being that it was an immense island—a sort of appendage to the little Java. On the other hand, the map drawn by Pierre Descelliers in 1550,—(p. 91), represents the unknown continent running round the South Pole, marked La Terre Australle. Both these maps have been accepted by modern geographers as authentic. {5}

The Londe of Java.

When the Dutch began their explorations of our coast in the seventeenth century, they usually named their discoveries either after the captains who made them, or the ships in which they sailed. Dirk Hartog's discovery on the west coast was named Landt de Endraght, after his ship; the land of Leeuwin was also called after the ship; De Witt's Land obtained its name from the captain; so also did the Land of Peter Nuyts, Edel's Land, and Arnhem's Land. After the second voyage of Tasman in 1644, the country was called Hollandia Nova; a name which passed into common use among European geographers, in its translated forms, until it was superseded by Australia. But according to Flinders—

the original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time after Tasman's second voyage in 1644, was Terra Australis or Great South Land; and when it was displaced by New Holland, the new term was applied only to the parts lying westward of a meridian line passing through Arnheim's Land on the north and near the isles of St. Francis and St. Peter on the south; all to the eastward, including the shores of the Gulph of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis. {6}

The only authority mentioned by Flinders for this statement is a chart published by Thevenot in 1667, which "was originally taken from that done, in inlaid work, upon the pavement of the new Stadt House at Amsterdam." A chart done on a pavement does not appear to furnish much reliable evidence; but on the strength of it Flinders seems to have come to the conclusion that Terra Australis was the proper name for the whole country in his own day; and for that reason he sought to revive its use, in preference even to the name Australia. A little consideration will show that he had no substantial grounds for his conclusion. There is nothing to prove that the chart referred to by Thevenot was authentic; or that it was designed by geographers; or that it was in any other way entitled to be considered an authority. There is room for doubt on all these points. Burney tells us that Sir Joseph Banks, during his stay at Amsterdam in 1773, "was at much pains in making enquiry concerning the Stadt House map; but he could obtain no proof of the work having been visible within the memory of man." {7} If no one in Amsterdam I had ever heard of it at that time, there can be no certainty that it ever existed, seeing that national records are usually preserved with some care. The idea that the Dutch called the undiscovered portion of the country Terra Australis, as stated by Flinders, is disposed of by Burney's description of the map:—"Eastward on the same land, but without defined limits, is inserted the name Terre Australe, which, being in the French language, was probably an explanatory addition introduced by M. Thevenot himself."

Let us now consider the evidence on the other side. In the first place, there is the striking fact that Cook does not speak of the country as Terra Australis, but as New Holland. When considering his route after having explored New Zealand, he said:—"It was therefore resolved that we should return by the West Indies, and that with this view we should, upon leaving the coast [of New Zealand] steer westward till we should fall in with the east coast of New Holland." There can be no doubt that Cook had carefully studied all the published voyages of discovery in the South Pacific; while the fact that he determined to explore the east coast of New Holland shows that the geography of that country had attracted his attention. Why then should he speak of it as New Holland, if Terra Australis was not only "the original name", but the one by which it continued to be known in his own time?

In the second place, we have only to consult the authorities of his day to see that he used the name which every one else used. In the charts published by Dalrymple and Callander, it was named New Holland; and in those of de Brosses, it was marked Nouvelle Hollande. The name was continued by later geographers. Pennant's Outlines of the Globe (1800), and Pinkerton's Modern Geography (1802)—pp. 590-1, were the principal works of the kind at that time; and in each the country was described as New Holland.

In the third place, the name Terra Australis was not used in the instructions given to Tasman, nor in any of the extracts from the Dutch archives and publications collected by Major {8}—from which it may be inferred that the Dutch geographers did not at any time apply that name to the country in question. It is singular that an author of the present day, having this fact before him in his own pages, should nevertheless have followed the example set by Flinders in adopting a misleading title for his work. The inaccuracy may be compared with another in p. lxxiii of the same treatise, where it is said that "Quiros came to a land which he named Australia del Espiritu Santo"; the name actually given being—la Austrialia del Espiritu Santo, Burney pointed out in 1813 that the Dutch did not apply the name Terra Australis to their discoveries:—"Throughout the instructions to Tasman for his second voyage, the Terra Australis is called the Groote Zuidland, or On-bekende Zuid-land, i.e., the Great or the Unknown South Land." {9} But Burney did not see the absurdity of his calling the country Terra Australis, when the men who had made its exploration their business for at least a century never did so.

In the fourth place, the French geographers, whose opinions are entitled to very great weight, appear to have uniformly observed the Dutch practice in this matter; that is, in not confounding New Holland with Terra Australis. It is evident from the work of de Brosses that when he spoke of the Terres Australes, he meant nothing more than the lands discovered in the South Seas. He drew a clear line of distinction between the unknown continent and the discoveries in New Holland, New Guinea, and New Zealand, of which he says (tom. i, p. 16)—ce n'est peut-être pas un seul continent. Il y a toute apparence que ces grandee contrées sont isolées par plusieurs détroits inconnus. Although this passage is correctly translated by Callander (vol. i, p. 10), he interpolates nearly six pages (pp. 43-48) in the text of de Brosses for the purpose of developing his own ideas on the subject; beginning with the contradictory statement that "New Guinea, Carpentaria, New Holland, Diemen's Land, and the country discovered by Quiros, make all one great continent, from which New Zealand seems to be separated by a strait."

Callander's title may be largely responsible for the confusion of ideas which misled Burney and Flinders, as well as others; although the name Terra Australis was applied to this country in many publications before his time. Dampier, for instance, in his New Voyage Bound the World, spoke of it as—"New Holland, a part of Terra Australis Incognita". But he, too, thought that New Holland was an island;—"I found that other parts of this great Tract of Terra Australis, which had hitherto been represented as the Shore of a Continent, were certainly Islands; and 'tis probably the same with New Holland." {10}

The fact that he believed the country to be an island at the same time that he spoke of it as part of the unknown continent, shows how unsettled his opinion was about it. At the time he wrote, there was nothing but uncertainty on the subject; Tasman's second voyage had not been made known to the world; and even the hydrographers of a much later period had not succeeded in getting any accurate ideas. In the introduction to his Collection of Voyages in the South Pacific, published by Dalrymple in 1770—two years after Cook set sail on his voyage in the Endeavour—he gave it as his opinion, based on a long-continued study of the subject, that "it is more than probable that another continent will be there found [in the South Pacific], extending from 30° south towards the pole." He believed, too, that the continent in question had "been seen on the west side by Tasman in 1642, and on the east by Juan Fernandes above half a century before, and by others after him, in different latitudes from 64° to 40° south." These confident assertions proved to be nothing more than imagination; and it was to settle the question raised by them that Cook was sent a second time into the South Pacific.

While there is no doubt that the name Terra Australis was sometimes applied to the discovered portions of this country two centuries ago, there was no more reason for giving it to them than there would have been for giving it to the New Hebrides or Juan Fernandez. A chart of the islands discovered in the South Sea to the year 1620, published in Burney's Collection of Voyages, shows an outline of the north-west coast marked "Part of the Great Terra Australis"; and speaking of the discoveries of de Quiros, he said:—"The Australia del Espiritu Santo was long supposed to be part of the Great Terra Australis, and in some charts of so recent a date as the middle of the eighteenth century, the two lands are drawn joined." He referred to the charts published by de Brosses, which were drawn by the geographer in ordinary to the King of France—a title conferred by letters patent as a reward for distinguished services. The French cartographers were celebrated for their charts and mappermondes even in the earliest years of their art.

TO understand exactly what the old geographers had in their minds when they wrote about Terra Australis, we must go back at least three centuries, when the theory of its existence was in high favour among them. What they thought about it may be seen in the map of the world published with the account of Frobisher's voyages in the year 1578, and the description of the country given by the writer:—

Terra Australis seemeth to be a great firme land, lying under and aboute the south pole, being in many places a fruitefull soyle, and is not yet thorowly discovered, but onlye seene and touched on the north edge therof, by the travaile of the Portingales and Spaniards, in their Voyages to their East and Weast Indies.

It is included almost by a paralell, passing at 40 degrees in south latitude, yet in some places it reacheth into the sea with greate promontories, even into the tropicke Capricornus. Onely these partes are best knowen, as over against Capo d' buona Speranza (where the Portingales see popingayes commonly of a wonderfull greatnesse), and againe it is knowen at the south side of the straight of Magellanus, and is called Terra del Fuego.

Terra Australis.

It is thoughte this southlande, about the pole Antartike, is farre bigger than the north land aboute the pole Artike; but whether it be so or not, we have no certaine knowledge, for we have no particular description hereof, as we have of the lande under and aboute the north pole. {11}

This is perhaps the earliest description we have of the supposed continent from, the pen of an English geographer. How the idea was gradually developed in succeeding ages may be seen from a short statement of it in Purchas, whose folios appeared in 1625. Speaking of "the Lands on the Southerne side of the [Magellan] Straits", he says:—

This Land about the Straits is not perfectly discovered, whether it be Continent or Islands. Some take it for Continent and extend it more in their imagination than any man's experience, towards those Islands of Saloman and New Guinee, esteeming (of which there is great probability) that Terra Australis or the Southerne Continent, may for the largeness thereof, take up a first place in order, and the first in greatnesse in the division and parting of the Whole World.

As stated by Burney, the Tierra del Fuego was considered to be "part of a great continent, extending both eastward and westward to New Guinea, and round the South Pole, occupying nearly all the space which had not been cut off by the tracks of European navigators; and this ideal continent they have not left destitute of its capes and gulfs." {12} The opinions of the men who furnished the world with geography in those days have not yet lost their interest for us, and therefore a further passage from Purchas may be quoted for the purpose of showing how they arrived at conclusions which nowadays seem so extraordinary. He gives as his authority one Master Brerewood, professor of Astronomy in Gresham College from 1596 to 1613:

Master Breerewood, our Learned Countryman, persuadeth himself that it is as large as the Easterne Continent, which containeth Europe, Africa, and Asia altogether. His reasons are that, touching Latitude, it is known to approach neere (if not on this side) the Æquator; and touching Longitude, to runne along in a continuall circuit about the Earth, fronting both the other Continents.

Another reason, which he deemeth of more certain importance, is this, that the Land to the North side of the Line in the other Continents of the Old and New World is at least four times as large as that part of them which lyeth to the South. Now for as much of the face of the Sea is level (so hee argueth) being therefore called Æquor and Aqua; and, secondly, the Earth being equally poised on both sides of her own Centre; and, thirdly, this Centre being but one to the Water and the Earthy even no other than the Centre of the World: it followeth thereupon that the Earth should in answerable measure and proportion lift itselfe, and appear above the face of the Sea, on the South side of the Line, as it doth on the North; and consequently what is wanting in the South parts of the other Continents towards the countervailing of the North parts (which is about three parts of both the other Continents layed together) must of necessitie be supplyed in this Continent of the South. {13}

Master Brerewood was a contemporary of Bacon and Raleigh, and it is not unlikely that he discussed this subject with them; but unfortunately we have no indication of their ideas about it. All we know is that the ponderous reasoning which satisfied the learned professor seemed to satisfy his great contemporaries as well as the little ones, for there was no division of opinion among them. The theory maintained its vitality until it was exploded by Captain Cook—who, by the way, thought that de Quiros was "the first who had any idea of the existence of a southern continent." {14} That was a mistake. The idea had been floating about in the minds of men for ages before the Spaniard became possessed of it; as he said in his eighth petition to the King of Spain, it had grown up with him from his cradle. Probably he heard of it as soon as he began to take any interest in nautical matters. He lived in a time when men of all maritime countries were full of speculations—mercantile as well as theoretical—with respect to undiscovered lands beyond their own seas; and he seems to have been about the last of the enthusiastic sailors of his own race who, from the days of Prince Henry of Portugal, had made the discovery of new worlds the great ambition of their lives. Of all the early navigators who had sailed the South Pacific, he is the only one of whom it can be said with certainty that he set out on his voyage with the distinct intention of discovering the ideal Terra Australis.

Geography is not usually a rich field for poetic invention; but the unknown continent appealed so powerfully to the imagination that it could not expect to escape poetic treatment. In a long forgotten poem by T. K. Hervey entitled AUSTRALIA—which reached a third edition in 1829—the author gives a prophetic vision of the ruin of old England, and then proceeds to describe her revival in a southern empire; logically approaching the subject with a sketch of the imaginary continent. The unhappy fate of Magellan and Columbus having been deplored, the poet proceeds:—

While Science wept above each hallowed grave,
And mourned her gallant wanderers of the wave,
Hope smiled to think they had not lived in vain,
And Fancy built new regions in the main:—
Far o'er the billowy waste she proudly trod,
To teach the wonders and the ways of God;
And where the vast antarctic waters roll,
She reared a continent against the Pole!

The result of Cook's explorations is described with equal accuracy:—

Before his daring soul and piercing eye,
Behold that polar vision darkly fly!
See, from its throne upon the waters, hurled
The shapeless phantom of a southern world!

THE chapter in which Botany Bay is described in the account of Cook's first voyage was written by the editor, Hawkesworth, from the journals kept by Cook and Banks. It is unfortunate that we can only conjecture from internal evidence which portion of the material was supplied by one and which by the other; still more so that instead of having their descriptions of the country in their own words, we have merely a reproduction of them by the editor. The impression made upon Banks in particular by his examination of the country was so deep that it lasted throughout his life; but there is no indication of it in Hawkesworth's narrative. There is nothing in it to show that Banks had formed any opinion of the country as a field for settlement; and yet there can be no doubt that his mind was full of that idea while he was walking about the shores of Botany Bay. It is equally certain that from the time he returned to England in July, 1771, to the end of his days, he never lost his interest in it; that he used every means in his power to promote the occupation of the country by the Government; that he took a very active part in the measures ultimately adopted for that purpose; and that he watched over the varying fortunes of the little colony with as much anxiety as if he had held a grant from the Crown of the whole territory, after the fashion in which such grants were made in the days of Sir Walter Raleigh.

Why it was that he thought so much of the country is a matter not easily understood at first sight. As a piece of scenery, Botany Bay could hardly be compared with Queen Charlotte's Sound in New Zealand, where the Endeavour had been lying for three weeks shortly before she reached our coasts: but with all its charms of winding bays and coves, and hills covered with impenetrable forests, echoing the melody of birds which "seemed to be like small bells, most exquisitely tuned", the Sound did not make any other impression on Banks than that of the transient pleasure which every traveller receives from a scene of wild uncultivated beauty. That it did not suggest any idea of colonisation may be understood from the fact mentioned by Cook as the result of his survey—"we found no flat large enough for a potatoe garden." The contrast between the scenery of Botany Bay and that which had just been left behind in New Zealand gave rise to very animated discussions on board the Endeavour. The densely timbered hills in one, and the gentle undulations of the other, had each their advocates; but we may imagine Banks summing up the characteristics of the two countries by saying that while the Sound was a magnificent place for tourists to roam about in Botany Bay was designed by nature as a field for colonists. There was no difficulty in finding flats there large enough for many potato gardens. The whole country about the bay seemed to rise and fall for miles around like the lazy billows of the Pacific on a summer day; there were no impenetrable masses of heavy timber, the trees standing so far apart as to give the appearance of an English park. The general impression with respect to the scenery of the bay has seldom done justice to it; but that Cook and his friends thought well of it is manifest from their description. A few lines from Hawkesworth—whose narrative, by the way, never rises beyond a cold expression of approval whatever the scene he describes—will be sufficient to show what they thought of it.

We found the soil to be either swamp or light sand, and the face of the country finely diversified by wood and lawn. The trees are tall, straight, and without underwood, standing at such a distance from each other that the whole country, at least where the swamps do not render it incapable of cultivation, might be cultivated without cutting down one of them; between the trees the ground is covered with grass, of which there is great abundance, growing in tufts about as big as can well be grasped in the hand, which stand very close to each other. The trees over our head abounded with birds of various kinds, among which were many of exquisite beauty, particularly loriquets and cockatoos, which flew in flocks of several scores together.

The country examined on that occasion was the southern shore of the bay, near the point at which Cook had landed—and which is now identified by a monument erected in 1870 to commemorate the event. On another day, "while Mr. Banks was gathering plants near the watering place", Cook went with Solander and one of his officers to examine the country at the head of the bay—by which he probably meant that part of it lying near the mouth of George's River; although he makes no mention either of that or of the other river since named after him. Here he seems to have been still more pleased with what he saw:—

We went up the country for some distance, and found the face of it nearly the same with that which has been described already, but the soil was much richer; for instead of sand, I found a deep black mould, which I thought very fit for the production of grain of any kind. In the woods we found interspersed some of the finest meadows in the world: some places however were rocky, but these were comparatively few: the stone is sandy, and might be used with advantage for building.

"Cook's meadows" became a standing joke in the settlement formed by Phillip on the shores of Sydney Cove. All the officers on board the First Fleet had read his account of Botany Bay before they left England—it is not difficult to imagine how eagerly they took up the third volume of Hawkesworth for the purpose; and on their arrival they expected to find themselves in possession of ready-made meadows, where the plough might be driven without cutting down a tree. Because they did not land on the exact spot described by Cook, they considered themselves cruelly deceived; and in the bitterness of their disappointment they wrote very angry letters to their friends in England, denouncing the country and everything in it. One of these indignant gentlemen wrote that they were all "very much surprised at Mr. Cook's description of Botany Bay"; and another that "the country for several miles round the bay does not afford a spot large enough for a cabbage garden, that was fit for cultivation" (pp. 503-7). Nevertheless, the natural meadows were there all the time, and Cook's observations were as exact in this as they are known to be in every other instance. The explanation of the difference between his account of the country and that of the angry correspondents is, that they made the mistake of applying his description to all parts of it, instead of to one. Their knowledge of the land was practically confined to the northern shore—and to that part of it which lay between it and Sydney Cove. Phillip described it as "a poor sandy heathy full of swamps"; but it is now largely occupied by market gardens. This northern shore was examined by Cook, towards the sea coast, and he wrote of it as follows:—

We found this place without wood, and somewhat resembling our moors in England; the surface of the ground, however, was covered with a thin brush of plants, about as high as the knees; the hills near the coast are low, but others rise behind them, increasing by a gradual ascent to a considerable distance, with marshes and morasses between.

When the French naturalist, Péron, visited the colony in 1802, he described the western shore of the bay as having un aspect enchanteur, which he attributed to the rank vegetation of the swamps caused by the flooding of the two rivers flowing into the bay; concluding that le capitaine Cook et ses illustres compagnons y furent trompés. There is no reason to suppose that they were deceived in the least; nor can there be any question as to the accuracy of their description. The only matter for surprise is that they spoke with so much reserve about the natural attractions of the country. The most conspicuous feature about it was the remarkable beauty of the native plants, and especially of the wild flowers, which were certainly not the product of a swamp, because they are found in their greatest luxuriance in a light sandy soil, near the sea coast. But Hawkesworth tells us little or nothing on this subject, although it may be taken for granted that there was a good deal about it in Banks's journal. All we learn is that "the great quantity of plants which Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander collected in this place induced me to give it the name of Botany Bay;" and again, "there are a few shrubs, and several kinds of the palm; mangroves also grow in great plenty near the head of the bay." These passages were written by Cook, who was not a botanist. That Banks saw something more than a "few shrubs" there, may be gathered from a letter written by him to the Under-Secretary at the Home Office many years afterwards:—

London, 27 April, 1789.   

Sir,—Concluding that it will be thought a desirable Object to bring home for his Majestie's Botanic Garden at Kew some of the many beautifull and usefull Plants with which the Country in the neighborhood of Jackson's Bay is known to abound I beg leave to suggest to you Sir that if the Tafferell of the Ship Guardian be fitted for the reception of Pots in the same manner as was done in the case of the bounty, and one Line along the sides of the Great Cabbin she will be able without any inconvenience to the officers to bring home a great number.

If this Plan is approved I shall be happy to pay all the attention in my power to the Execution of it which as the Bounty has been so lately fitted cannot be a matter of the least difficulty.

     I have the honor to be with much respect

Your Most Obedient and Most Humble Servant


Evan Nepean, Esq.

The date of this letter shows that it was written exactly nineteen years from the day on which Banks and Cook made their first attempt to land on the coast near Botany Bay—which they entered on the following day. That was a long space of time; but "the many beautifull and usefull plants" which had been seen about the bay had not been forgotten; and the first opportunity was taken for the purpose of procuring specimens from Port Jackson. It was in the beginning of winter that Banks saw the plants in their native soil, but at that season of the year the land was no longer covered with the wonderful wild flowers which have always attracted so much admiration. If he had been there in the summer months, when the flowers were in full bloom, he might have fancied himself in some deserted garden in the East, in which an endless variety of tropical plants had been left to spread themselves over the ground in wild confusion.

It was not, however, with the eyes of a botanist only that Banks looked upon this country. Although his opportunities for examining it were very limited—owing, we may suppose, to Cook's anxiety to reach England as soon as possible—he saw enough to convince him that it was eminently suited for colonisation; the climate was perfect, and a soil which, in its natural state, could produce such vegetation as he saw, could be made with little labour to grow anything. If only the Endeavour had run into one or other of the nearest bays to the north—Port Jackson or Broken Bay—it would have been his good fortune to see his first impressions more than confirmed, and he would then have been able to proclaim on his return homo that the English flag had been hoisted on the finest field for colonisation in the world. Even as things stood, he had no hesitation in giving his opinion in very confident terms. When examined as a witness before a Committee of the House of Commons, appointed in 1779 to inquire into the state of the gaols and the question of transportation, he spoke strongly in favour of Botany Bay as a field of operations, arguing that its soil and climate were such as would soon enable a settlement to become self-supporting. As his evidence on the subject may be said to form the starting point of our history, it is worth while to reproduce it. It should be recollected that he was addressing a number of gentlemen whose minds were concentrated on one question—what should be done with the felons?

Joseph Banks, Esquire, being requested, in case it should be thought expedient to establish a colony of convicted felons in any distant part of the globe, from whence their escape might be difficult, and where, from the fertility of the soil, they might be enabled to maintain themselves, after the first year, with little or no aid from the mother country, to give his opinion what place would be most eligible for such settlement, informed your Committee that the place which appeared to him best adapted for such a purpose was Botany Bay, on the coast of New Holland, in the Indian Ocean, which was about seven months' voyage from England; that he apprehended there would be little probability of any opposition from the natives, as during his stay there in the year 1770 he saw very few, and did not think there were above fifty in all the neighbourhood, and had reason to believe the country was very thinly peopled; those he saw were naked, treacherous, and armed with lances, but extremely cowardly, and constantly retired from our people when they made the least appearance of resistance. He was in this bay in the end of April and beginning of May, 1770, when the weather was mild and moderate; that the climate, he apprehended, was similar to that about Toulouse, in the south of France, having found the Southern Hemisphere colder than the Northern, in such proportion that any given climate in the Southern answered to one in the Northern about ten degrees nearer to the pole; the proportion of rich soil was small in comparison to the barren, but sufficient to support a very large number of people; there were no tame animals, and he saw no wild ones during his stay of ten days, but he observed the dung of what was called the Kangourous, which were about the size of a middling sheep, but very swift and difficult to catch; some of those animals he saw in another part of the bay upon the same continent; {15} there were no beasts of prey, and he did not doubt but our sheep and oxen, if carried there, would thrive and increase; there was great quantity of fish, he took a large quantity by hauling the seine, and struck several stingrays—a kind of skate—all very large; one weighed three hundred and thirty-six pounds. The grass was long and luxuriant, and there were some eatable vegetables, particularly a sort of wild spinage; the country was well supplied with water; there was abundance of timber and fuel, sufficient for any number of buildings which might be found necessary.

Being asked, how a colony of that nature could be subsisted in the beginning of their establishment? he answered—They must certainly be furnished at landing, with a full year's allowance of victuals, raiment, and drink; with all kinds of tools for labouring the earth, and building houses; with black cattle, sheep, hogs, and poultry; with seeds of all kinds of European corn and pulse; with garden seeds; with arms and ammunition for their defence, and they should likewise have small boats, nets, and fishing tackle, all of which, except arms and ammunition, might be purchased at the Cape of Good Hope; and that afterwards, with a moderate portion of industry, they might undoubtedly maintain themselves without any assistance from England. He recommended sending a large number of persons, two or three hundred at least; their escape would be difficult, as the country was far distant from any part of the globe inhabited by Europeans.

And being asked, whether he conceived the mother country was likely to reap any benefit from a colony established in Botany Bay? he replied—If the people formed among themselves a civil government, they would necessarily increase, and find occasion for many European commodities; and it was not to be doubted, that a tract of land such as New Holland, which was larger than the whole of Europe, would furnish matter of advantageous return. {16}

Several other witnesses were examined by the Committee with respect to places on the African coast at which penal settlements might be formed. The Committee did not express any opinion about Botany Bay or any other place; but they were evidently in favour of a settlement being formed on the plan suggested by Banks. They observed in their report—

That the plan of establishing a colony or colonies of young convicts in some distant part of the globe, and in new discovered countries, where the climate is healthy and the means of support attainable, is equally agreeable to the dictates of humanity and sound policy, and might prove in the result advantageous both to navigation and commerce.

But there was a difficulty in the way which would require fresh legislation to remove. The existing laws on the subject of transportation applied only to the colonies and plantations in North America, and the War of Independence—then at its height—had closed their ports to the convict ships. The Committee therefore recommended—

That it might be of public utility if the laws which now direct and authorize the transportation of certain convicts to his Majesty's colonies and plantations in North America, were made to authorize the same to any other part of the globe that may be found expedient. {17}

The resolutions of the Committee were agreed to by the House, and it was thereupon ordered that leave should be given to bring in a bill to explain and amend the laws relating to the transportation of offenders. The effect of the legislation subsequently adopted on that subject is stated at p. 449. Turning to page 428, it will be seen that Matra quotes these resolutions of the Committee at the end of his sketch, connecting them with Sydney's remark to him about transportation to New South Wales; from which it may be inferred that the Minister had directed his attention to the report, and that, having looked it up to ascertain its bearing on his proposals, he then added the concluding paragraphs for the purpose of pointing out the advantages offered by his scheme from that particular point of view. Perhaps he began to see, at the same time, that it was hopeless to talk about the American loyalists or any other free settlers.

THE evidence given by Banks before the Committee did not produce any immediate result; but he had sown an acorn which was destined to come up and flourish in its appointed time. The question of the felons and what should be done with them vexed the souls of successive Parliaments and Ministries; it was discussed by philanthropists from one point of view and by politicians from another; but nothing came of their discussions but accumulations of pamphlets and parliamentary papers, with a great work on the State of the Prisons from John Howard and a very little one from Jeremy Bentham, fantastically called a Panopticon, in which the philosopher developed "a new principle" of constructing and managing prisons. While the American war lasted, Lord North and his colleagues had no time to spare for matters of that kind; and the Governments which immediately succeeded his were too short-lived to accomplish any substantial legislation—the real cause of their inefficiency being the blank indifference to questions of social reform which characterised all the politics and politicians of the time.

Better prospects dawned upon the country with the advent of Pitt's administration in 1783. It lasted for eighteen years, and the first ten of them being years of peace, the Ministry had leisure enough to frame any scheme of reform they might please, as well as the power to carry it into effect. Soon after peace had been declared with the United States, the colonists who had remained loyal pressed their claims on Parliament for compensation for the losses they had sustained in the war. They had been driven out of their homes, outlawed and ruined men, and were consequently forced to seek a refuge from the tempest wherever they could find one. Most of them went to the British North American provinces and settled there. Among the proposals made for relieving their distress, it was suggested in 1783 by an Englishman named Matra that some of them should be settled at Botany Bay. He drew up an outline of his ideas on the subject, enlisted the support of Sir Joseph Banks, and formally submitted his plan to the Government. Looking at his proposals in the present day, there need be no hesitation in saying that if the Government had adopted them as they stood and carried them out in a manner worthy of the country, it would have formed the most statesmanlike achievement in the history of Pitt's administration.

But the temper of the age did not favour colonising experiments in which the colonists were to be free agents, while the expenditure was to be met by the public Treasury. Nothing of that kind, at any rate, would go down with the Ministry. The Home Office, which had charge of all matters relating to the colonies, was then presided over by Lord Sydney—a politician better known among his contemporaries by the familiar name of Tommy Townshend. His genius was not accustomed to the work of evolving original conceptions, or even of revolving old ones, when they happened to be rather more comprehensive than usual. He was one of those light-hearted politicians who habitually look upon politics as things of the present hour, and who frame their measures in the same happy state of mind in which they pull on their gloves or pull off their boots—to suit their convenience at the time. So that when the enthusiastic Matra approached his lordship with his new and original scheme for founding a great colony with the American loyalists, the only encouragement he obtained was a remark that New South Wales might be a very proper place for the convicts under sentence of transportation. Matra no doubt felt the chill which every great originator has been doomed to feel, as soon as the project warmed by the fire of genius has been brought into contact with the cold surface of practical politics.

There the matter rested for two years, and might have rested for many years more, had it not been taken up by another enthusiast. Sir George Young; but although he combined a high position in the navy with a good deal of private and official influence, he was not much more successful than Matra—probably owing to the fact that he, too, was in favour of sending out the American loyalists. There can be no doubt, however, that this second appeal had the effect of driving the matter still further into the official mind; so that when another year had been suffered to go by, it was at last resolved that the materials supplied by Matra and Young should be utilised for the purpose of framing a little plan of an essentially different character—one which would exactly meet the political difficulty of the hour, while it carefully excluded the purely enthusiastic idea of founding a great colony of the old heroic type.

Slow as the progress was and tedious the delay, let it be remembered that, but for the really important person who stood behind the scenes, the negotiations which occupied the interval between August 1783 and August 1786 might have extended over a much longer space of time; and might peradventure have come to nothing after all. The idea of founding a colony at Botany Bay clearly originated with Banks; it was proposed by him in 1779; from him it passed to others, and was at last formulated in set terms for the approval of the Government by men who quoted Banks as the great authority on the subject. Ministers in their turn consulted him with as much confidence as the promoters of the scheme had done; and it was undoubtedly on his strong persuasion that the order was at last given for the equipment and despatch of an expedition to the shores of New South Wales.

THE relation in which Banks stood towards the colony from that time corresponded with the position he occupied in the initial stages of the movement. His interest in it might be described as a paternal one; his right to be consulted in every measure concerning it was freely recognised by successive Ministers; and there is no exaggeration in saying that, during the active portion of his life, no measure of any importance was adopted without his opinion having been taken on the subject. It is not easy to find a parallel instance in the history of colonisation; but if we suppose that Sir Walter Raleigh's attempts to found a colony in North America had succeeded, we can imagine how anxiously he would have watched its progress, how steadily he would have used his influence with Burleigh to promote its interests, and how confidently he would have foretold its success in future years. The fact that he held a proprietary interest in Virginia would not justify the cynical belief that he looked upon it as a mere mercantile speculation; we may credit him with an unselfish desire to extend the dominions and the power of his country, at the same time that he hoped to profit by the results of a venture in which he had sunk £40,000 in days when money was very scarce in England. Banks, on the other hand, had no commercial objects of his own in view when he proposed the colonisation of New South Wales, and therefore his position in the matter, from first to last, was wholly free from the suspicion of self-seeking. The two men might be taken as types of their respective ages; each was an Englishman of the heroic stamp, whose national instinct taught him to look beyond the seas for the true source of his country's greatness. Banks was born to rule; no one can look at the lion-like head and figure of the man, as we see it in his portrait, without feeling that nature destined him for a throne of some kind. The only visible sceptre he held belonged to the world of science; his realm was the Royal Society, over which he ruled like an absolute monarch; but practically his influence extended far beyond its boundaries. He took no active part in politics; and yet how clearly his political power shows itself in a few lines written by him on a loose sheet of paper, which still lies among his manuscripts:—

I could not take office and do my duty to the colony, my successor would naturally oppose my wishes; I prefer therefore to be friendly with both sides.

Feb., 1789.

Whether these lines formed portion of a private letter, or were written in reply to some offer of Ministerial office, it is impossible to say. Lord Hawkesbury was appointed President of the Council of Trade and Plantations in 1786, and the office may have been offered to Banks on account of his peculiar qualifications for it. The reason he gives for his refusal is very suggestive; he "could not do his duty to the colony" if he were to take office—in other words, he looked upon his duty to it as a father looks upon his responsibility for a child. If he took office in one administration, he would not be able to exercise any influence when another came into power; and as the laws of party government required that each new Minister should oppose the wishes of his predecessor, he felt bound to keep out of any political complications that threatened to restrict his means of doing good at Botany Bay. So completely have these passages in his life been forgotten that they reveal themselves now, to one who reads his unpublished correspondence, like the meaning of an ancient manuscript. Among the many illustrations that might be given for the same purpose, we may content ourselves for the present with a letter to his friend Captain Bligh, in which he offers him the government of the colony. It was written on March 15, 1805:—

My dear sir,—An opportunity has occurred this day which seems to me to lay open an opportunity of being of service to you and as I hope I never omit any chance of being useful! to a friend whom I esteem as I do you I lose not a minute in apprising you of it.

I have always since the first institution of the new colony at New South Wales taken a deep interest in its success and have been constantly consulted by his Majesty's ministers through all the changes there have been in the department which directs it relative to the more important concerns of the colonists.

At present King the Governor is tired of his station and well he may be so he has carried into effect a reform of great extent which militated much with the interest of the soldiers and settlers there he is consequently disliked and much opposed and has asked leave to return.

In conversation I was this day asked if I knew a man proper to be sent out in his stead one who has integrity unimpeached a mind capable of providing its own resources in difficulties without leening on others for advice firm in discipline civil in deportment and not subject to whimper and whine when severity of discipline is wanted to meet [emergencies]. I immediately answered as this man must be chosen from among the post-captains I know of no one but Captain Bligh who will suit but whether it will meet his views is another question.

I can therefore if you chuse it place you in the government of the new colony with an income of £2,000 a year and with the whole of the Government power and stores at your disposal so that I do not see how it is possible for you to spend £1,000 in truth King who is now there receives only £1,000 with some deductions and yet lives like a prince and I believe saves some money but I could not undertake to recommend any one unless £2,000 clear was given as I think that a man who undertakes so great a trust as the management of an important colony should be certain of living well and laying up a provision for his family.

I apprehend that you are about 55 years old if so you have by the tables an expectation of 15 years' life and in a climate like that which is the best I know a still better expectation but in 15 years £1,000 a year will at compound interest of 5 per cent, have produced more than £30,000 and in case you should not like to spend your life there you will have a fair claim on your return to a pension of £1,000 a year.

besides if your family goes out with you as I conclude they would your daughters will have a better chance of marrying suitably there than they can have here for as the colony grows richer every year and something of trade seems to improve I can have no doubt but that in a few years there will be men there very capable of supporting wives in a creditable manner and very desirous of taking them from a respectable and good family.

Tell me my dear sir when you have consulted your pillow what you think of this to me I confess it appears a promising place for a man who has entered late into the status of a post-captain and the more so as your rank will go on for Phillip the first Governor is now an admiral holding a pension for his services in the country.

Every paragraph in this letter deserves to be studied, for the light it throws upon the history of the time as well as on the character of the man who wrote it. How large a share he had in the actual government of the colony becomes obvious when we find him offering the appointment of Governor to one of his friends and fixing the salary of the office. The conversation referred to probably took place with Viscount Castlereagh, who administered the Colonial and War Department in 1805, Pitt being then a second time Prime Minister. Bligh's adventures in the character of a Governor have a new source of interest for us in the fact that he was selected by Banks as the most capable man of his class for a position which he failed so conspicuously to maintain.


The gentleman being gone, and Dr. Johnson having left the room for some time, a debate arose between the Rev. Mr. Stockdale and Mrs. Desmoulins, whether Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander were entitled to any share of glory from their expedition [with Cook in the Endeavour]. When Dr. Johnson returned to us, I told him the subject of their dispute. JOHNSON: "Why, sir, it was properly for botany that they went out; I believe they thought only of 'culling of simples.'" {18}

If Banks went out only for culling of simples, assuredly no man ever came back with such results to show for his journey. Even Johnson's Dictionary looks a very small performance when placed beside the map of Australia.

The wonderfully small views of great things which the Dr. could take when it pleased him to do so, is shown in another conversation about the great voyages. During the preparations for Cook's second expedition, the "share of glory" obtained by Banks and Solander seems to have excited the ambition of many others—among them being Johnson himself:—

BOSWELL: "Had not you some desire to go upon this expedition, sir?"

JOHNSON: "Why, yes; but I soon laid it aside. Sir, there is very little of intellectual, in the course. Besides, I see but at a small distance. So it was not worth my while to go to see birds fly, which I should not have seen fly; and fishes swim, which I should not have seen swim."

There was a third party, it seems, who was entitled to a "share of glory" from the great expedition, and whose claims were frankly admitted by the Dr.—as appears from a letter he wrote to Banks on the subject:—

To Joseph Banks, Esq.,

Johnson's Court, Fleet-street, Feb. 27, 1772.   

Perpetua âmbita bis terrâ praemia lactis
Haec habet altrici Capra secunda Jovis. {19}

Sir,—I return thanks to you and to Dr. Solander, for the pleasure which I received in yesterday's conversation. I could not recollect a motto for your goat, but have given her one. You, sir, may perhaps have an epic poem from some happier pen than, sir, your most humble servant,


IN reading the evidence given by Banks before the Committee, it is not pleasant to find him identifying himself so readily with. the proposal to establish a penal settlement at Botany Bay. He made no remonstrance against it when examined on the subject; nor did he express any preference for colonising with free settlers at that or any other time. We may easily believe that, if the Government had adopted the proposal for sending out the American loyalists, he would have been at least equally pleased; but there is no ground for supposing that he saw any objection to the substitution of convicts, still less that his moral instinct revolted against it. While, however, we feel surprise and disappointment when a man of his character becomes conspicuous among the patrons of a system which is now universally detested, it should not be forgotten that his views on the subject were not so much his own as those of the age in which he lived. It is not just to condemn even the foremost men of their time because they were not in advance of it. They must be judged by the recognised standards of their day, not by those of our own. All through the eighteenth century, the transportation system flourished in the sunshine of public and parliamentary opinion. The only protests against it came from the American colonists, who not only saw but felt its hideous iniquity; but their remonstrances were never heard in England—or if heard were never listened to. Like the cries of India that Burke spoke about in 1783, they were "given to seas and winds, to be blown about over a remote and unhearing ocean." The feeling that ran through the colonies on this subject has been so carefully excluded from modern history that its existence has been forgotten; but if evidence of it is required, it may be seen in a letter from one of the colonists which appeared in a history of New York written in 1756—see p. 556. They were made to feel the bitter degradation involved in the system, not only in the revolting spectacle of chain-gangs marching through their streets, but in the scornful estimate of American society held by all classes in the mother country. The long list of offences charged against King George in the Declaration of Independence did not contain any mention of the wrong he had done in flooding the colonies with criminals; but the sense of injury and the deep-seated resentment which had been burning in the hearts of the colonists for a century, may well be reckoned among the causes which led to their rebellion; just as the discontinuance of the system on the outbreak of war was assuredly counted among the greatest gains derived from it.

A year before the war broke out, Burke warned the House of Commons against "the fierce spirit of liberty" that had grown with the growth of the colonists, and increased with the increase of their wealth. It was aptly described as fierce; and what could be more calculated to make it so than the sight of slaves and convicts landed year after year on their shores from English ships?

But while Banks may not have seen any reason to quarrel with the transportation system in itself, it is surprising that he should have indorsed a proposal to plant a colony of felons—to use the words of the Committee—in a distant part of the globe, in the expectation that they would be able to maintain themselves, after the first year, with little or no aid from the mother country. His technical knowledge of plants and his experience as a farmer would, one would suppose, have enabled him to see the danger of such an undertaking. But it does not appear that he gave any attention to that view of the question, either in his evidence before the Committee, or in the advice he subsequently gave the Government when the expedition under Phillip was being put together. In that respect he was not at all singular, for nobody seems to have given the matter any consideration. It was taken for granted that the colony would require nothing more than a year or two's supply of salt provisions to start it on a career of successful agricultural industry. Phillip was placed under peremptory instructions to see to the cultivation of the land immediately after his arrival; but the means put in his hands for the purpose were ludicrously inadequate. Nearly all the seed sent out proved useless for cultivation; the agricultural tools were of the kind usually sent out for barter on the Gold Coast; and when it came to actual operations in the field, Phillip could hardly find a man who had any knowledge of farming. The result was that, when the salt provisions began to fail, death by starvation threatened every one in the place. They escaped that fate simply through the prudent management of Phillip, who stood to his post like a Roman sentry through years of crushing anxiety.

There is another view of the matter that deserves to be considered. It is hard to believe that Banks could have been blind to the folly of supposing that a settlement so formed could possibly become self-supporting after a year or two; or so inhuman as to shut his eyes to the inevitable result if it did not. Making every allowance for his confidence in the natural resources of the country, a moment's thought should have satisfied him that the success of the expedition was at least problematical; if there was a fair chance of success, there was an equal risk of failure; and in the event of any disaster overtaking it, the consequences would be fatal not only to the felons—whose fate perhaps was regarded with indifference—but to the officers and men of the military and civil establishments, with the wives and children dependent on them. Considerations of this kind could hardly fail to present themselves to a man who felt his responsibility for the part he had taken in the business—one who was neither a dreamer nor a theorist, nor yet a politician harassed out of his peace of mind by a public question he was wholly unable to deal with. At this point, then, one of two things may be supposed to have happened. Either he consulted the Minister in order to satisfy himself about the arrangements that were being made to ensure success; or else he relied so implicitly on the necessary measures being adopted by the Government that he did not attempt to offer his advice at that stage. It is not difficult to imagine the result of a conversation between him and Sydney on such a topic. He would have been laughed out of his anxiety by the genial Minister, who would have assured him that every possible precaution was being taken to make the scheme a success. He himself had enough to do in drawing up the official documents; but there was Nepean—the permanent Under Secretary—to look after all the details; he could be trusted to see that the men sent out were of the right sort— young able-bodied fellows, such as the Committee had spoken of—and that they were well supplied with the proper tools, seeds, and plants. Then they had got a really good man in Phillip; they could safely leave everything else to him; he would see that the settlement became self-supporting in a year or two. That was the central point of the whole scheme, and he would be made to understand that from the day of their arrival at Botany Bay, everyone must look for his support to the land, and not to the casks of beef.

No conversation of that kind passed between Banks and the Minister, simply because it did not occur to the father of the colony that there could be any necessity for satisfying himself about the management of affairs. The actual course of events at that stage may be seen in the memoranda and letters written by Phillip before the expedition left England—(pp. 37-53). The anxious little Captain—he is described as a little man with a "thin aquiline nose under a large cocked hat" (p. 498)—had no sooner received notice of his appointment than he began to busy himself with the preparations for the voyage. No such fleet had ever been got together before; nor had any captain of a man-of-war ever found himself in charge of such a convoy. Convict ships had crossed the Atlantic often enough; but there was neither novelty nor romance about their movements. Phillip was in charge of a large fleet, bound for a port into which only one ship had sailed since the sun first shone upon its waters; he had not only to navigate an unknown sea, but to found a colony which he felt would one day become an empire. The sense of responsibility that weighed upon him thrills through every line he wrote about the great work he had in hand; and for four or five months at least before he sailed, he rarely suffered a week to pass by without a letter to the Minister or the Under Secretary, touching the various points that required attention. He racked his brains to provide against all possible contingencies, especially against scurvy; for the six small transports were crowded with convicts who had been hurried on board in a shamefully neglected condition—so neglected that Phillip was obliged to supply them. with clothing, and to borrow soap from the marines in order that the men and women might be well scrubbed before the ships put to sea—(pp. 43, 48, 49, 67, 490). Phillip believed in the virtue of soap and water. The first blackfellow whom he captured and tamed in the colony was put in a tub and scrubbed, while he and his officers stood by to watch the process; but he did not care to preside at the cleansing of seven hundred and fifty-six convicts covered with rags and filth.

In the midst of all his anxious care and attention—which embraced everything he could think of, from capital punishment down to the "women's cloathes"—the most important point of all never presented itself to his mind. In these days the founder of a projected colony would probably ask for some information about his colonists before he ventured to start on his expedition; seeing that the success of it would entirely depend on their capacity for colonising work. Agricultural labourers and mechanics of all kinds would be required as soon as tents were pitched; and if no such men were in the ships, starvation would threaten the settlement on the one hand, and sickness from exposure on the other. Obvious as these matters seem to be now, they did not occur to Phillip until he was forced to think of them when he began to direct farming and building operations at Sydney Cove. He did not see the men and women placed under his charge until the fleet reached Santa Cruz; he had not even seen a list of their names and occupations. If he had known half as much about them before he sailed as he knew in the first week or two after he had landed, he would not have incurred the risk he did without strenuous efforts to remedy a neglect that he would have known to be fatal.

How is this oversight to be explained? The answer will be found by looking at the transportation system as Phillip looked at it. In his days it was an organised branch of the Government service, and had been so for a century. Convicts of both sexes were taken from the gaols, put on board the hulks, and shipped in the transports to the American colonies, with as much official supervision as letters and newspapers were sent through the post. The persons sent to the colonies were supposed to be fitted for the work to be done there; the very Act of Parliament which authorised their transportation professed to enact it as a means of supplying the great demand for labour among the colonists. The men and women destined for Botany Bay were also supposed to be selected in the same manner;—who could imagine that it would be otherwise? If any doubt had been expressed on the matter, it would have been set at rest by pointing to the success of the American system. In the face of that experience, it is not surprising if Phillip, like every one else, assumed that the people placed on board his ships belonged to the proper class for such a service.

Brought into contact with this system as he was for the first time in his life, he did not see—it was hardly possible that he should have seen—a broad distinction between the method of dealing with convicts in the American colonies, and that which was about to be established under his government. Every convict transported across the Atlantic had been sold on arrival to the highest bidder for the term of his sentence; and as prices were regulated by values in the market, the people put up for sale were usually worth buying. That was a substantial check on the exportation of worthless material; but there was no check of any kind when the stream was diverted to the South Pacific; and the result was that no attempt was made to select men and women of the kind recommended by Bacon—"gardeners, ploughmen, labourers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers." My lord Sydney never gave the matter a thought; neither did his Under Secretary. The selection was left in the hands of the gaolers, who picked out the men and women they wished to get rid of. So that when Phillip came to know something of them, he had to tell Sydney that more than fifty among them were disabled by old age and disease before they left England; while very few of the rest were of any use to him—(p. 297). That there was less of accident than design in this matter may be suspected from the fact that, notwithstanding Phillip's complaints, the very next transport brought a number of women whom the Judge-Advocate described as "loaded with the infirmities incident to old age" (p. 278). How was Phillip to guard himself and the settlement against such a wrong? There was nothing to arouse a suspicion in his mind while he was in England; his faith in the efficiency of the service was implicit. Banks was equally trustful and confiding; so in fact was every one else. It is always so in matters of administration; things get into a groove, which every one takes to be the right one until a catastrophe happens, and then every one pretends to be shocked.

THE change which Banks brought about in public opinion with respect to the climate, soil, and natural resources of New South Wales cannot be thoroughly understood until we have realised what that opinion actually was in his time. Until he spoke on the subject, the general estimate of New Holland—as it was then called—was unfavourable to the last degree; and that this estimate extended throughout Europe is evident from the fact that in an age when all the sea-faring nations were particularly active in seeking new fields for commercial operations, not one of them made any serious attempt to establish trading posts on its shores—still less to occupy the country. The Dutch settlements in Java and the Spanish in Peru placed facilities for the purpose in the hands of their merchants which would not have been neglected, if there had been any tendency to believe in the prospect of commercial returns for the enterprise. During the third quarter of the last century, the French had begun to look to the South Seas as a promising field for exploration if not for commercial ventures; but they, too, were so possessed with the universal belief that New Holland was not worth the cost of an expedition, that none was sent to it. It seems to have been looked at in much the same light as we have been accustomed to look at Africa—a sort of Dark Continent, with a hot climate and a barren soil, peopled with miserable savages, and incapable of being turned to any good account. The general impression with respect to it, as a field for colonisation, may be seen in the account which de Brosses gives of it, when speaking of the different places in the South Seas that might be occupied for that purpose. His object was to point out the advantages that might be obtained by the establishment of colonies in that part of the world, and consequently he had no reason to depreciate the countries he described:

New Zealand and Van Diemen's Land are too distant [for colonising purposes], being situated towards the south pole and altogether unknown. We do not quite know whether anything can be expected from them. Landing is a very difficult matter on any part of the coast of the great continent which our charts delineate under the name New Holland. Its west coast is obstructed by an endless number of little islands which lie off it. The country near the sea is altogether sterile and bare; like a new surface which the sea has recently left above the waves, before the action of the sun and rain, and the successive accumulations of the débris of light vegetation, has had time to form a soil sufficiently solid to give the plants and trees the nourishment that nature usually gives them. Those growing on the west coast look half dead. The country offered nothing to those who visited it that was at all curious, except a kind of wood that might be useful for painters, being redder than the sassafras of Florida, trees yielding a gum like dragon's blood, and cockle shells of a singular beauty, of which there are some so large that Dampier found an empty one weighing two quintals and a half. The natives are thoroughly brutal, stupid, incapable of work, and insensible to the advantages of trade. {20}

This was the impression made upon the ablest geographer of his time by a careful study of all the published voyages to the country. Dampier's mark is legible in every line of the description; and the accounts gleaned from the Dutchmen seem to have tallied with everything that he had written on the subject. The net result was that New Holland was pronounced unfit for colonisation, and New Britain was recommended as the best available field in the South Sea for the energies of French emigrants—(p. 576). New Zealand and Van Diemen's Land were looked upon as quite out of the question, principally because they were situated so far south. The idea seems to have been that the climate in those islands would be too severe for Europeans—Mediterranean sailors would never go into higher latitudes than they could help—and that the natural products could not be worth the trouble of cultivation. Some reason for that impression may be seen in Dampier's remark that countries lying in such latitudes could not be compared with "the Parts that lay nearer the Line, and more directly under the Sun." Englishmen in his days still cultivated the superstitious belief that all the wealth of the world was concentrated in tropical countries— a belief which gave rise to the great discoveries of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. The Portuguese struggled to reach India by an eastern route, and so made their way round the Cape of Good Hope; while the Spaniards, moved by the same ambition, sought to reach the same goal by sailing west, and so passed through the straits of Magellan. Then began the great contest among the maritime nations of Europe for gold and spices. Long after Dampier's time, the trade with the East was considered the richest of all trades; and the richest part of it was the spices. It is not easy in the present day to understand why such articles as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmegs should have been looked upon with eyes of envy by the merchants of four great colonising nations. The massacre of the English by the Dutch at Amboyna, in 1623, is a memorable proof of the jealous spirit which prevailed among the nations on that subject. The Dutch were regarded as the great monopolisers of the trade; and they were supposed to have deliberately suppressed the accounts of their explorations of New Holland, for the purpose of concealing their discoveries and keeping all the nutmegs to themselves.

The faith in spices as a source of national wealth flourished down to the end of the last century. It shows itself in Matra's proposal for colonising this country. "Part of it lies in a climate parallel to the Spice Islands, and is fitted for the production of that valuable commodity, as well as the sugar-cane, tea, coffee, silk, cotton, indigo, tobacco, and the other articles of commerce that have been so advantageous to the maritime powers of Europe"—(p. 423). Thus he actually heads the whole list of products with the spices, as if sugar, tea, cotton, and tobacco were quite inferior articles. And as if that was not enough, he returns to the subject in another paragraph in which he refers to the Moluccas—then the principal seat of the trade, carefully watched by the Dutch. "As part of New South Wales lies in the same latitude as the Moluccas, and is even very close to them, there is every reason to suppose that what nature has so bountifully bestowed on the small islands may also be found on the larger. But if, contrary to analogy, it should not be so, the object is easily supplied, for as the seeds [of spices] are procured without difficulty, any quantity may speedily be cultivated"— (p. 426). Matra's example was followed by Sir George Young, who gave it as his opinion that "the country is everywhere capable of producing all kinds of spice, likewise the fine oriental cotton, indigo, coffee, tobacco, with every species of the sugar-cane; also tea, silk, and madder"—(p. 430). Considering the great sagacity displayed by both those men in their estimate of a country practically unknown to the world of their time, it is a whimsical fact that their predictions on the subject of the spice trade still remain to be realised. Of all the products mentioned by them, the cloves and nutmegs have hitherto made the smallest show; every ounce of them consumed in the colony from the days of Phillip having been grown for us by our old friends the Dutch—the great purveyors of spices to mankind.

IF we now compare Matra's description of this country—redolent as it is of spices and all manner of good things—with the melancholy picture of it presented by de Brosses less than thirty years before, we may ask—how is this difference in opinion to be accounted for? The Frenchman was not in any way interested in depreciating New Holland or any other part of the Terres Australes as a field for colonisation; we have seen that he wrote for the purpose of stimulating his countrymen to form settlements in that part of the world, wherever it could be done with any prospect of success; and the chapter in which he expanded his ideas on the subject had more to do with the colonisation that subsequently took place than is usually suspected. It would be no answer to say that Cook's account of his explorations brought about the change in public opinion. Matra, it is true, quotes his Voyage, but there is no resemblance between their accounts of the country. The chapter in which its resources are summed up by Hawkesworth is painfully cold and flat.

It is upon the whole rather barren than fertile, yet the rising ground is checquered by woods and lawns, and the plains and vallies are in many places covered with herbage; the soil, however, is frequently sandy, and many of the lawns, or savannahs, are rocky and barren, especially to the northward, where, in the best spots, vegetation was less vigorous than in the southern part of the country; the trees were not so tall, nor was the herbage so rich. The grass in general is high, but thin, and the trees, where they are largest, are seldom less than forty feet asunder; nor is the country inland, as far as we could examine it, better clothed than the sea coast. The banks of the bays are covered with mangroves, to the distance of a mile within the beach, under which the soil is a rank mud, that is always overflowed by a spring tide; farther in the country we sometimes met with a bog, upon which the grass was very thick and luxuriant, and sometimes with a valley, that was clothed with underwood; the soil in some parts seemed to be capable of improvement, but the greater part is such as can admit of no cultivation. The coast, at least that part of it which lies to the northward of 25° S., abounds with fine bays and harbours, where vessels may lie in perfect security from all winds.

There is no ground for complaint on the score of exaggeration here. {21} No one who read the chapter could have formed a high opinion of the country it described; and it is certain that the general public were not at all impressed with the notion that New South Wales was destined to be a great colony. The fact that ten years passed by from the publication of Hawkesworth's volumes to the date of Matra's pamphlet, without any sign of a movement in the shape of colonisation, is enough to show that the public mind had not even conceived an idea of that kind. How the ordinary Englishman looked at the contents of those quartos, while they were still fresh in the minds of men, may be seen in Boswell's account of a conversation about them:—

JOHNSON: "A book may be good for nothing; or there may be only one thing in it worth knowing; are we to read it all through? These voyages (pointing to the three large volumes of Voyages to the South Seas which were just come out), who will read them through? A man had better work his way before the mast than read them through; they will be eaten by rats and mice before they are read through. There can be little entertainment in such books; one set of savages is like another." {22}

If the account of the great voyage made no deeper impression on Dr. Johnson's mind than that, it is not likely that other men would have seen much more in it than he did. And since the exuberant ideas we find in Matra's sketch of the country are not to be found in Hawkesworth, from what source of information were they obtained? The only other source open to him was Sir Joseph Banks; and it may therefore be inferred that the facts and arguments which he urged on the attention of the Government were derived from the conversations that had taken place between them. Men in search of information about a particular country usually consult those who can speak of it from their own personal knowledge; and there can be no doubt that Matra had no sooner made up his mind to develop his ideas in a practical form than he betook himself to Banks, and obtained from the fountain-head the hints which he afterwards developed in his sketch. Banks was a traveller as well as a philosopher; he had sailed round the globe when he was a young man of twenty-five; and as the pivot of the whole scheme was a geographical one, he could have no difficulty in foreseeing the substantial advantages that would ultimately accrue from it to England. Conceive him, then, standing before a map of the world and pointing out to Matra how, with a colony at Botany Bay, England would be in a position to hold both her enemies—the Dutch and Spaniards—in check; because she could as easily threaten Timor, Batavia, and the Moluccas with one squadron, as she could operate against Callao and the Spanish merchant ships with another. They could not do any harm by attacking the colony, because it could be secured against any attack they might venture to make. That was a political consideration which alone would justify the establishment of a colony. The commercial advantages were not less obvious; because another glance at the map would show that, with a territory comprising such a variety of climate, tropical and temperate, and a soil producing the very richest vegetation, there could be no room for doubt as to the results of colonisation. At this point. Banks would naturally bring his varied botanical knowledge to bear on the subject; all the plants known to commerce would be enumerated, and the probability of their successful cultivation in New South Wales would be demonstrated by the experience of other countries lying in the same parallels of latitude.

Possibly there was a good deal of tropical luxuriance about his eloquence on this subject which—to minds not touched with Matra's enthusiasm—might have suggested the idea of a traveller's love of exaggeration; but no one doubts now that he spoke truthfully as well as prophetically. Phillip confirmed every word he said when writing a few months after his arrival at Sydney Cove—(p. 338):—

The climate is equal to the finest in Europe, and we very seldom have any fogs. All the plants and fruit-trees brought from the Brazil and the Cape, that did not die on the passage, thrive exceedingly well; and we do not want vegetables, good in their kind, which are natural to the country.

But long after Phillip's evidence on these points had been published in English newspapers, the cynical spirit of disbelief that has always hung like a cloud over the country met him wherever he went. Ten years after the occupation of it had begun, he told Governor Hunter that he had been "uniformly contradicted, except by Governor Phillip" (p. 85), whenever he gave his opinion about its soil and climate. There was some authority, too, for the contradiction; for had not the Frenchmen, who dropped into Botany Bay just as the First Fleet was sailing out of it, made it known to the world that "in their whole voyage they nowhere found so poor a country nor such wretched, miserable people"? (p. 33 n). How they would have ridiculed the idea, had it been mentioned to them by Phillip's officers, of their coming to take possession of such a place! They would not have taken it as a gift from his Britannic Majesty—not even with all the convicts thrown in. The volumes of their countryman de Brosses were on board their ships; they had all read his description of New Holland and its inhabitants; and they were prepared to indorse every word of it. Even the poor natives had nothing to recommend them, although they could whistle the air of Malbrooke as soon as they heard it—(121 n).

LET us now turn for a few moments from the geographers and the Frenchmen to the artists, and endeavour to ascertain what they thought of the country which others held in such little account. Men who form their notions of the earth from poring over maps and charts, or twirling a globe on its pivot, are not usually men of imagination; and no one would expect to meet with poetic descriptions of scenery in French voyages of discovery. English artists, on the other hand, are usually credited with the intuitive perceptions of genius when they take the field in search of landscapes; and in their written accounts of a new country, visited in the interests of their art, we expect to find, at the very least, some freedom from prejudice, if not that glow of enthusiasm which men feel when their imaginations are stimulated by beautiful scenery never seen before.

On board the Endeavour there was a young artist, named Sydney Parkinson, who had been engaged by Banks for the special purpose of sketching all the picturesque and novel subjects they expected to meet with in the course of their three years' voyage. He not only took sketches but he kept a journal, which, after his death, was published by his brother in a large quarto, "embellished", as the title-page says, "with twenty-nine views and designs, engraved by capital artists"—(p. 578). Out of the twenty-nine embellishments, there is only one referring to this country; and that represents "two natives of New Holland advancing to combat"—the enemy being Cook and his landing party at Botany Bay. Two illustrations were supplied to Cook's Voyage—one being a view of the Endeavour River, with the ship high and dry on the bank; and the other, a sketch of a kangaroo. These productions may be taken to convey Parkinson's opinion of this part of the world from a professional point of view. The inference is that he did not see any scenery in New South Wales worth sketching. What was he doing, one is inclined to ask, during the eight days that he passed in Botany Bay? If he could see nothing worth notice about the bay itself, he had only to go in a boat up the two rivers running into it, in order to find a succession of beautiful views lying before him. But it does not appear that he went up the rivers at all; and as for the bay, it seems to have made no sort of pleasant impression on him.

There were two other artists on board the same ship—William Hodges and James Webber—whose portfolios were also published—(p. 595). The whole collection contains only two drawings referring to this country, both of which were studies of aboriginal life. One of them was painted in oil on a piece of sail-cloth, while the ship was in the Endeavour River, the artist having lost his materials when she struck the reef. No attempt was made by these gentlemen to paint a landscape during their stay on the coast; the only source of interest they found in the country seems to have been the natives, whose "bottle-noses" were immortalised by Dampier.

None of these artists having left on record any expression of opinion with respect to the character of the scenery in this part of the world, we can only look to their published sketches in order to find out what they thought about it. If they had considered it worth the trouble of reproduction with brush or pencil, we may suppose that they would not have omitted any opportunity in their way, seeing that they had undertaken a perilous voyage of three years' duration for the purpose of exercising their art in new fields. Their silence, therefore, sufficiently indicates their judgment on the subject. That it does so there can be no doubt; and the inference is confirmed by the unhesitating statements of another artist, who came out some years afterwards on an exactly similar mission.

When the Investigator sailed from England in 1801, under the command of Matthew Flinders, who was commissioned to survey the coasts of this country, she carried a draftsman named William Westall, appointed by the Admiralty at the instance of Sir Joseph Banks. What Westall thought of Australian scenery may be seen in a letter to his patron accounting for his determination to visit Ceylon and India for professional purposes, instead of returning to England with the sketches he had taken in New Holland. It is necessary to explain that the Investigator having been condemned in Sydney Cove in 1803, before Flinders had time to accomplish his work, he went on board the Porpoise as a passenger to England. On his way through Torres Straits, the ship struck on a reef; and Flinders returned to Sydney in an open boat to obtain assistance for the crew, who were left on the wreck to await his return. The only vessel at the Governor's disposal—a little schooner named the Cumberland, of twenty-nine tons—was placed at his service; and in her he returned to the wreck, took off the crew, and then sailed for England, putting in at Port Louis on his way, where he was made prisoner by the French. Westall seems to have left him at Sydney, and gone on board a ship bound for China.

Ship Carron, Canton River,          

January 31, 1804.      


As my returning to England direct for the purpose of executing the sketches that were saved from the Porpoise must appear absolutely necessary, I shall lay before you the principal reasons that have induced me to take India in my route home.

I am sorry to say the voyage to New Holland has not answered my expectations in any one way; for though I did not expect there was much to be got in New Holland, I should have been fully recompensed for being so long on that barren coast by the richness of the South Sea Islands which, on leaving England, I had reason to suppose we should have wintered at, instead of Port Jackson. I was not aware the voyage was confined to New Holland only; had I known this, I most certainly would not have engaged in a hazardous voyage where I could have little opportunity of employing my pencil with any advantage to myself or my employers.

I mentioned these circumstances to Mr. Lance, and my desire of going to Ceylon, a country where I could scarcely fail of success, for the rich and picturesque appearance of that island, every part affording infinite variety, must produce many subjects to a painter extremely valuable. And as no painter has yet been there, what I should acquire would be perfectly new and probably interesting, from the island being one of the richest in India, and lately acquired.

Mr. Lance said that as I had so few sketches of New Holland, there could be no necessity for my returning immediately to England; that I had now an opportunity of going to India which I ought by no means to lose; and if I did go he said he would undertake (as he was very intimate) to make my excuses to you. I cannot enough acknowledge the attention that gentleman has shown me since my arrival in China (which increases my obligations to you, for I believe Mr. Lance has been attentive to me merely because I was by you appointed). What I have seen of the country about Canton I am entirely indebted to him for; he has given me letters from Mr. Drummond and the Committee to the Governors of Ceylon, Penang, Madriz, and Bombay; and in short it is entirely by his advice and direction that I did not immediately return with the sketches, which, before I had seen him, I had fully determined.

These, sir, are the principal reasons that have determined me to remain some time longer from England; knowing that it will be very much more to my advantage (though against my inclination, for I would rather return) going to Ceylon and the countries that the East India Company have lately acquired, than to return with subjects which, when executed, can neither afford pleasure from exhibiting the face of a beautiful country, nor curiosity from their singularity: New Holland in its general appearance differing little from the northern parts of England.

I have now, sir, nothing more to add except that, if I thought you would be displeased that I do not return with the drawings that are remaining, I would most certainly relinquish my design of going to India, as I am bound by duty as well as inclination to fulfil in every respect my engagements with yourself and the Lords of the Admiralty.

I am, sir,
         Your most obedient, humble servant,

WM. WESTALL.      

Banks's face, when he read that letter, would have made quite a nice study for Sir Joshua. The idea of an artist, specially selected for the purpose, devoting three years to the work of illustrating New Holland, and then declaring that he had seen nothing to illustrate, seems excessively comic in the present day; but Banks did not see anything funny about it. We may fancy him reading Westall's letter over and over again, in the vain effort to understand what it meant. Was it possible that, in the whole extent of his voyage, from King George's Sound to Port Jackson, thence to the Gulf of Carpentaria, thence to Timor, and back to Sydney Cove, with all the excursions inland, Westall did not see anything worth describing? "That barren coast"! "So few sketches of New Holland"! Why, he does not even express a regret for the loss of his sketches in the wreck; nor does he take the trouble to send a list of those that were saved. Evidently, then, he did not take the slightest interest in them, and did not conceive it possible that any one else could do so.

If we turn over the leaves of the Voyage to Terra Australis, written by Flinders, we can see what Westall had been about all this time. In the first volume, there is a plate showing a View from the south side of King George's Sound, where Flinders began his survey; then there is another, showing the Entrance of Port Lincoln, taken from behind Memory Cove; a third, in which he gives a View on the North side of Kangaroo Island; and a fourth contains a View of Port Jackson, taken from South Head. The sketches in the second volume were taken on the north coast, and are of much the same character as the others.

The Investigator was at anchor in Sydney Cove from May to July, 1802—over two months, so that this extraordinary artist, as he seems to us, had opportunity enough for studying the scenery there. But he did not see any beauty in it—not even in "our beautiful harbour"! His silence is quite as suggestive as his innuendoes. He stood on the South Head, and drew a hard outline of the port as it lay before him on a May morning, with its little islands still as Nature made them; and he seems to have considered that one such sketch was quite enough to show people in England "the finest harbour in the world"—as Phillip called it. No doubt he visited the different coves in the ship's boat, and, like Judge-Advocate Collins, was "struck with horror at the bare idea of being lost in them"—(p. 153 n); they were all so much alike, then, that no man could tell one from another— timbered down to the water's edge, and with hardly a sign of habitation. Whether he went up Middle Harbour, or up the Hawkesbury—which Anthony Trollope, in 1871, pronounced a better piece of river scenery than either the Rhine or the Upper Mississippi—we don't know. Nor have we any idea whether he made an excursion outside the boundaries of Sydney town. He must have heard enough about the Blue Mountains to stimulate any imagination that was not "duller than the fat weed that rots itself at ease at Lethe wharf". For among the men he met there was George Caley—the botanist sent out by Banks to collect for the Royal Gardens at Kew—who was always moving about in search of specimens, and who is still remembered by the famous repulse he met with among the ranges; and there was the energetic young Ensign Barrallier, equally eager to distinguish himself in exploration, and whose ambition it was to be the first man across the Blue Mountains into the unknown country beyond them. Governor King's celebrated joke—sending Barrallier on an embassy to the King of the Blue Mountains in order to detach him from the Corps—was quite fresh when the Investigator returned to the Cove; and as King took great interest in exploration, the conversation at his table naturally turned on the mysterious mountains, the unknown rivers, the wonderful harbours, the Mediterranean sea, and every other physical feature of the country, as well as its peculiar vegetation and the grotesquerie of its animal life. Could any artist on his travels have wished for better guides?

Westall's indifference becomes doubly singular when we recollect that all through his voyage he was in daily communion with Flinders, whose devotion to his work reached its climax in martyrdom." So devoted was he that the disappointment he endured when forced by the state of his ship to discontinue his voyage wrung these words from him:—"The accomplishment of the survey was, in fact, an object so near my heart that could I have foreseen the train of ills that were to follow the decay of the Investigator, and prevent the survey being resumed—and had my existence depended upon the expression of a wish—I do not know that it would have received utterance." No exaggeration there, for it is borne out by the melancholy record of his life. But what a contrast it presents with Westall's letter! One man prepared to sacrifice life itself if only he could accomplish the great object of his ambition; the other absolutely too indifferent to seek fitting subjects for his pencil!

The difference between the two men was simply this: the sailor was a man whose genius led him instinctively to the work of exploration, and who devoted himself to it, not for the sake of profit or reward—he got neither—but because he loved the work for its own sake, and saw in it a straight road to immortality. The artist was nothing more than a commercial gentleman, who knew too well that he could make neither money nor reputation out of any Views of New Holland he might publish in London. There was no market for them there, the British public—with the exception of a few men like Banks and Phillip—having no taste for colonial scenery. No wonder, then, that he looked upon the wreck of the Porpoise as a happy release, because it put an end to the dismal expedition he had foolishly joined, and gave him a chance of getting away to brighter scenes—Ceylon and India—where subjects of intense interest in England, full of colour, life, and movement, were waiting for the artist's touch.

THE perverse tenacity with which Englishmen generally have held on to their unpleasant impressions with respect to this country, is one of the most conspicuous features in its social history. It would not be too much perhaps to say that it has hardly yet overcome the inveterate prejudice which, originating in the gloomy accounts of its earliest explorers, led one of the most speculative of Frenchmen in the last century to pronounce it unfit for colonisation, and subsequently condemned it to the dismal fate of a penal settlement, to be populated by British I criminals for over half a century. Banks could find only two men in his time to whom he could appeal for confirmation of his own opinion in its favour; and the proportion of those who believed in it to those who did not, increased at a very slow rate for many years afterwards. Undoubtedly the publication of Phillip's despatches did a great deal to justify all that Banks had said; and the official volume in which they were given to the world was probably published for the purpose of justifying the Government in the eyes of the public, and pacifying the unfriendly critics of their action. But there were other pens besides Phillip's at work; and the accounts written by them for the benefit of friends in England met with equal publicity and were read perhaps with much more confidence. They related the bitter experience of men whose sufferings, brought about by the mismanagement of the Government, were invariably debited to the unfortunate colony, for which in most cases they had nothing better to say than the Israelites of old had to say for Egypt. It was not unnatural that men trembling for their very existence should feel nothing but despair in their hearts when they sat down to describe the scene of their misery; and that they should rail at the deceptive visions on which their fancy had been fed in England of grassy meadows ready for the plough, where they could see nothing but rocks and gum-trees; and of a land abounding in the richest products of tropical islands, where no better result than a miserable existence could be gained from the most painful toil.

Long after that dreadful time had passed away, and when the success of the colony was no longer a matter of uncertainty or doubt, it still had to struggle against the gulf-stream of depreciation which had always swept so strongly toward its shores. The traveller who looks down from the summit of Mount Gambier upon the dark-blue waters of the lake below, sheltered from rude winds by terraced walls on which the grass grows as smooth and green as on a lawn, may find it hard to realise the fact that he stands on the edge of a volcano, and that the scene of silent beauty on which he gazes was once a field of raging oceanic fires. It is not less difficult for those who know the colony only in its present stage to bring before the mind's eye the period of what might be called its volcanic action—when elemental forces were at work in constructing the materials of its future wealth and greatness by the agency of hell-fire and lava. Looking as we do now on great cities and cultivated fields, marked by every sign of an enterprising and prosperous population, we see no trace of the time when the only evidence of civilised life was found in convicts' huts and soldiers' barracks. With the exception of a few streets, roads, and public buildings, every vestige of those times has disappeared from view; and the antiquarian who seeks to reconstruct the city of the dead finds his efforts baffled at every step of his investigation. But for the literature of the old days—the long forgotten books and newspapers, and the piles of buried records on which the dust of a hundred years has settled down—it would not be possible to form any accurate conception of the ideas which prevailed about the colony throughout the long period in which it was known to Englishmen as Botany Bay, and when the name they gave it meant all that was abominable in the eyes of decent people. There is no exaggeration in the statement of a recent writer referring to this country as it was known in England less than forty years ago:—"Most people still thought of Australia as a vast desert, remarkable only for containing a den of thieves and murderers, called 'Botany Bay'." {23}

The "vast desert" which Englishmen used to summon up before the mind's eye whenever Australia was mentioned, reminds one of the picture which de Brosses had drawn of the country a century before. The only essential difference between the two is that the English sketch has a den of thieves and murderers in one corner of it, while the French one has nothing but a few sickly trees to relieve its dreariness. There was something in the shape of evidence to support the popular impression in England, because Sturt's theory about the great central desert had just been published at the time referred to. He made his first acquaintance with the interior when he entered the country watered by the Macquarie, Bogan, and Darling, a drought of three years' duration being then at its height. Looking day after day for well-watered, grassy table-lands, and finding only plains that looked "dismally brown", where "the emus, with outstretched necks, gasping for breath, searched the channels of the river for water, in vain", he came to the conclusion that the country he saw was unfit for occupation—a desert that not even the natives would care to penetrate. But every acre of it is now, and has been for many years, under pastoral lease, roamed over by sheep and cattle in thousands, notwithstanding its want of water in dry seasons; and the distant banks of the Darling, far beyond the limit of his exploration, have long since been connected with Sydney by the rail and the telegraph.

In his last expedition, Sturt strove to reach the centre of the continent, the great object of his ambition; but he was driven back by the stony desert, of which he left such a terrible picture that it filled the mind with an idea of hopeless desolation—as if the interior of the country consisted of nothing better than sandy plains and ridges, in which the only sign of life to be met with was an occasional flock of birds or a famished aboriginal. The desert that filled his heart with despair in 1844 is no more dreaded now than the barren plains in which he struggled during his first expedition. Speaking of the place at which he camped for six months, and which he described as "the only spot in that wide-spread desert where our wants could have been permanently supplied", Favenc says:—"In the ranges where Sturt spent his summer months of detention, there is now one of the wonderful mining townships of Australia, where men toil as laboriously as in a temperate zone; and the fires of the battery and the smelting furnace burn steadily, day and night, in sight of the spot where Poole [his second in command] lies buried." {24} Fifteen years after Sturt met with the disappointment which he felt so bitterly that he said, "I could calmly have laid my head on that desert never to raise it again", the draftsman of his expedition, McDowall Stuart, camped in the centre of the continent, where he found grass and water in abundance; and his track on a later expedition, in which he succeeded in making his way to the shores of the Indian Ocean, was afterwards followed in the construction of the great overland line of telegraph connecting Australia with the rest of the civilised world.

The prejudice in favour of the vast desert theory seems to have been so confirmed in the minds of Englishmen, that it continued to survive long after the results of later explorations showed its unsoundness. Western Australia, in particular, was regarded as almost unfit for settlement at any distance outside Perth, although Grey in 1837 and Frank Gregory in 1861 had done so much to show that good country is to be found there as well as elsewhere. A singular illustration of the prevalent ideas may be seen in a letter written by Sir William Denison from Sydney in 1857, in which he summarised the results of an expedition sent out under A. C. Gregory, in 1855, for the purpose of discovering traces of Leichhardt, and also exploring the country in the far north. The line of exploration began at the mouth of the Victoria River on the north-west coast, followed it up to its sources, crossed the watershed, thence back to the depôt—from which a fresh start was made eastward to the Roper; thence round the shores of the Gulf of Carpentaria to the Gilbert; from which the explorers travelled in a south-easterly direction homewards. The journals kept during the expedition, which lasted sixteen months, do not give much precise information about the nature of the country traversed; but although the reports brought back were not calculated to create a rush of stock-owners to the north, they were not so discouraging as to prevent the gradual extension of settlement which has since taken place. The exploration of the Victoria proved the existence of good pastoral country in that direction; and even if the Plains of Promise did not realise the anticipations formed of them by their discoverer, they were at least seen to be well fitted for occupation. Now let us see how Denison described the results:—

Last year, or rather in 1855, an expedition was sent to explore the north-western part of the continent. The men returned a few weeks ago, and the result of the information obtained is, that Australia consists of a narrow belt of good land to the south, east, and north, varying from, say, 250 miles in width to 60. On the west coast the desert, which fills up the whole interior, abuts on the coast. In fact, five-sixths of the whole block of land is desert; yet we constantly hear people talking of the destinies of this great continent as being similar to those of America! The destinies of a dry, arid, unproductive country, without rivers or means of internal communication, what are they? The people who talk in this way can have a very slight conception of the influence which water, and the means of water communication, exercise upon the destinies, as they term it, of a people.

The tone of this letter is enough to show the state of mind in which it was written. Denison was evidently pleased, as if he felt that the result of the expedition had entirely confirmed his own ideas on the subject. Australia was a desert, with just a narrow strip of coast line fit for occupation. Even that was some advance on Payne's account of the country—a vast desert, with a den of thieves and murderers at Botany Bay. Denison knew better than that, because he had been Governor of Van Diemen's Land before he came on to Sydney in 1855. Still he had the stereotyped English ideas on the subject, and "the people who talked of their destinies" seemed to him in need of a little caustic treatment. He could hardly have failed to see that Gregory's observations did not even touch the question as to the character of "the whole block of land". That could not be answered even by a careful examination of all the explorations made since the Blue Mountains were passed. We have only to follow the track of each explorer upon the map in order to see how very limited the range of observation was in each case; and then, recollecting how much the result would necessarily depend on the seasons, the equipment of the party, and the skill, judgment, and experience of the leader, we can see how absurd it is to suppose that any one expedition could be held to determine the character of the unknown interior. It is not known even now, although the light of thirty years' additional experience has been thrown upon the subject; and it will not be known until the pressure of population is felt here as it is felt in older countries.

Although he made no mention of them in his letter, the actual facts of Gregory's expedition could not have been unknown to Denison. At the time he wrote he was Governor of New South Wales, and the report of an exploring expedition at that period—sent out by his own Government—would necessarily attract his attention. The peculiar representation of the matter which he thought fit to circulate in England can not be easily accounted for, unless we suppose that he was so much influenced by preconceived opinions as to be unable to state the case fairly. The letter he wrote in 1857 was published by him in 1870. {25}

School children in England and the colonies are still taught that "there are vast tracts in the interior of Australia which are absolutely desert, and for ever doomed to remain without inhabitants, these lying more to the west than to the east; and there are other large tracts that can produce only a scanty herbage fit for nothing but sheep-rearing, and in many cases not to be depended on in all years for that." {26} This statement—evidently written by one who had no personal knowledge of the country—is not based on the evidence of recent explorers, but is a scientific deduction from the climatic peculiarities of the country, and the resemblance which they are supposed to bear to those of South Africa. Such a line of argument can not be safely applied to this country. Experience has shown that even actual observation is not always a reliable guide to theoretic conclusions—Oxley and Sturt, for instance, were both scientific observers, but each of them propounded a theory about "vast tracts in the interior", which subsequent exploration proved to be a mere nightmare. They overlooked two important considerations in estimating the character and probable value of the country they criticised; one being the effect of settlement on its physical features, and the other, the existence of accumulated stores of water beneath the surface. The nature and extent of the change brought about by occupation of new country can be accurately measured by those only who have witnessed it; and perhaps more remarkable proofs of such changes could hardly be found than have frequently been seen here. In the days when Oxley and Sturt rode through the interior, like two Arab sheiks on the road to Mecca, men were only beginning to learn the lessons which Nature had to teach them. The sudden termination of large rivers in extensive marshes led Oxley to conclude that they discharged their waters into a great inland sea—a theory which he supported with as much confidence as if he had actually stood upon its shores. The buried waters which he and many others sought to trace in vain are now, after the lapse of seventy years, being brought to light for the first time by the Artesian bore; and the experience of a few years will probably serve to settle the vexed question of physical geography which puzzled not only the explorer, but all the philosophers of his time. {27}

The progress of settlement in that portion of the interior which not long ago was branded on the map as the Great Central Desert attracts so little attention, even among ourselves, that it is not surprising if it is wholly unknown beyond our own borders. It is only by an accident, as it seems, that any definite intelligence reaches us from the remote points occupied as outposts by the invaders of the wilderness. While these pages are being printed, a remarkable illustration of this fact presents itself in the shape of a telegram from Euriowrie, a post and telegraph station eight hundred and seventy miles north-west of Sydney, announcing the arrival of a caravan of sixty-three camels at Tibooburra a few days before, laden with goods for Euriowrie and Queensland. "They formed quite a procession through the town, each fastened by a gaily coloured cord in single file, the Afghan drivers being gorgeously attired in many coloured silks, shawls, gold lace, and turbans. The team has been thirty-six days coming from Farina on the trans-continental railway, and only one beast was lost on the trip of three hundred and fifty-five miles." A glance at the map will show that this Oriental substitute for the old bullock-team travelled through the country penetrated by Eyre in 1840, when he reached the summit of Mount Hopeless, and by Sturt in his famous journey of 1844-5, when he discovered Cooper's Creek. Each of those adventurous explorers, whom no difficulty or danger could deter, returned in despair from the scene of desolation that lay before him. Now we have a trans-continental line of railway from Adelaide to Port Darwin in course of construction through the heart of it. Farina being one of its stations—four hundred and seven miles north from the starting point, and near the range from which Eyre looked round him, in vain, to find some means of crossing Lake Torrens to the unknown country beyond it.


{1} {return}

Dampier's account of the Moskito Indian who had been left ashore at Juan Fernandez in 1681, looks like the first rough sketch of Robinson Crusoe. It is worth while to compare his description, which will be found in his Voyage round the World, vol. i, pp. 84-92, ed. 1729, with De Foe's. The story of Alexander Selkirk appeared in Captain Woodes Rogers's Voyage Round the World (1712), p. 124.

{2} {return}

Cook stated in 1776 that "Torres seems to have been the first who sailed between New Holland and New Guinea"—Voyage towards the South Pole, introduction, p. xii; but he made no reference to him when he gave the name Endeavour Streights to the passage between the Prince of Wales's Islands and the mainland in 1770; Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 619.

{3} {return}

Hawkesworth, vol. iii, pp. 602-3.

{4} {return}

Voyage to New Holland, vol. iii, pp. 124-5, ed. 1729.

{5} {return}

Tasman's instructions directed him to take a certain course, by which "the known south hind would be entirely circumnavigated, and discovered to be the largest island of the globe."—Major, Early Voyages to Terra Australis, p. 49.

{6} {return}

Voyage to Terra Australis, introduction, p. ii.

{7} {return}

Voyages in the South Sea, vol. iii, p. 182.

{8} {return}

Early Voyages to Terra Australis, pp. 43-98, 112-133, 165-189; post, p. 572.

{9} {return}

Voyages in the South Sea, vol. iii, p. 181.

{10} {return}

Voyage to New Holland, vol. iii, p. 126, ed. 1720.

{11} {return}

A True Discourse on the late Voyages of Discoverie under the conduct of Martin Frobisher, General.—Hakluyt Society, pp. 36-7.

{12} {return}

Voyages in the South Sea, vol. i, p. 303.—The Tierra del Fuego is drawn as part of La Terre Australle in the chart made by John Rotz, 1542; ib., p. 380.

{13} {return}

Purchas, part i, chap. vii, pp. 924-5.

{14} {return}

Voyage towards the South Pole, introduction, p. xi

{15} {return}

This should read—"in another part of the same continent", meaning the Endeavour river, where Banks hunted his first kangaroo; Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 569.

{16} {return}

Journals of the House of Commons, vol. xxxvii, p. 311.

{17} {return}

Ib., 314.

{18} {return}

Boswell's Johnson, by Napier, vol. ii, p. 3.

{19} {return}

Thus translated by a friend:—

In fame scarce second to the nurse of Jove,
This goat, who twice the world had traversed round,
Deserving both her master's care and love,
Ease and perpetual pasture now has found.—Ib., vol. i. p. 533.

{20} {return}

Histoire des Navigations, tom. ii, pp. 380-1.

{21} {return}

"I gave him [Johnson] an account of a conversation which had passed between me and Captain Cook, the day before, at dinner at Sir John Pringle's, and he was much pleased with the conscientious accuracy of that celebrated circumnavigator, who set me right as to many of the exaggerated accounts given by Dr. Hawkesworth of his voyages."—Boswell's Life of Johnson, by Napier, vol. ii, p. 295. It is not clear from this passage whether the charge of exaggeration reference to the published accounts of the voyage, or to Hawkesworth's conversation about it. His preface says that the manuscript was read over to Cook before it was published, and was approved of by him. That he was not pleased with his editor's work may be suspected from the fact that the title page of the account of his second voyage states that it was "Written by James Cook".

{22} {return}

Boswell, vol. iii, p. 396.

{23} {return}

Payne, The Colonies (1883), p. 106.

{24} {return}

History of Australian Exploration, p. 141.

{25} {return}

Varieties of Vice-regal Life, vol. i, p. 381. Gregory's expedition left Sydney in July, 1855; Denison arrived in the January preceding.

{26} {return}

Longman's School Geography for Australasia (1888), p. 70. Compare these notions about the interior with the accounts given by Phillip of the native population, particularly with respect to its distribution—(pp. 140, 289). He supposed that the natives were confined to the coast, because he could not see how they could possibly obtain any food in the bush. If the white men with their gun could not get enough to keep them alive, how could the blacks with their spears do it? The argument seemed conclusive; and yet we know now that the interior carried a large population of natives, and that, as a rule, they were better fed than those on the sea-coast—(p. 552). But that knowledge was gained by slow degrees and by actual observation, which in Phillip's time was beyond reach.

{27} {return}

The inland sea theory is of much older date than Oxley. Its origin is explained in Flinders, vol. i, p. lxxiii.





AMONG the various documents relating to New South. Wales preserved in the Public Record Office in London, there are two remarkable papers in which the writers submitted their views to the Government of the day for the colonisation of the territory discovered by Captain Cook. Looking at them in the light of contemporary history, it will be seen that they form distinct links in the chain connecting the expedition of 1787 to Botany Bay with the great historical events of preceding years. The first of these papers, which bears date August 23rd, 1783, was written by a gentleman named James Maria Matra, who, though now wholly unknown, appears from his correspondence to have been a man of some note in the political world of his time. He is entitled to the credit of having made the first formal proposal for the colonisation of New South Wales; and there is little doubt that, although the project he submitted to the Government—the Coalition Government of Fox and Lord North was then in power—was not adopted in its original form, the ultimate scheme carried out by the Pitt Ministry was elaborated from the materials which he had put together.

From a letter addressed by Matra to Evan Nepean, {1} the Under Secretary for the Home Department, in October, 1784, it appears that his proposal had been formally laid before the Government. He said:—

You will therefore do me a particular pleasure if, to the great trouble you have already taken in pushing forward this business for me, you would be so obliging as to tell me if the Ministry have come to a decided resolution to reject the plan; or if there be any chance of its being entered on in the spring season.

It also appears from a note appended to his paper that Matra had been in personal communication on the subject with Lord Sydney, {2} who expressed an opinion to the effect that the new territory would be a suitable place for convicts. "When I conversed with Lord Sydney on this subject, it was observed that New South Wales would be a very proper region for the reception of criminals condemned to transportation." This intimation of his lordship's views led Matra to add some suggestions on that point; but he had not made any reference to it in his original sketch.

From another letter written by Matra to Nepean, it appears that Pitt's Attorney-General, Pepper Arden, had also been consulted in the matter, and that he had been supplied with some further information about the sailing route of the China ships—"the only difficulty"—added Matra—"I can think of in the way of the South Sea scheme."

The repeated and emphatic reference to Sir Joseph Banks, which appears in the course of Matra's paper, shows that the distinguished naturalist had signified his approval of it in strong terms. It may be inferred that his personal influence with the Government, which was very great, had been exerted in favour of the project, and it was undoubtedly at his suggestion that Botany Bay was selected as the field of operations when it was resolved to colonise New South Wales. Thirteen years had passed since he had collected his botanical specimens about the shores of the bay, and during that time no movement had been made for the occupation of the country; although he had given strong evidence in favour of it before a select committee of the House of Commons in 1779.

The Coalition Government having remained in office only a few months—from April to December, 1783—it is not probable that any colonising project, however sound in itself, could have met with much consideration in the midst of the political uncertainties which surrounded the Cabinet. On the formation of Pitt's administration, Matra seems to have renewed his negotiations on the subject, and pressed the matter on the attention of Lord Sydney. It was referred by the Minister to Lord Howe, {3} the First Lord of the Admiralty, for his opinion of it, and the Admirals ideas were communicated immediately afterwards in a remarkable letter to his lordship, dated 26 December, 1784:—

I return, my dear lord, the papers you left with me to-day, which are copies only of the former sent to me on the same subject on Friday evening.

Should it be thought advisable to increase the number of our settlements on the plan Mr. Matra has suggested, I imagine it would be necessary to employ ships of a different construction, Frigates are ill-adapted for such services. I conceive that ships of burthen to contain the various stores, provisions, implements, &c., wanted for the first colonists meant to be established there, and composing the chief part of the company of the ship, should be provided for the purpose; though an armed vessel of suitable dimensions might be previously appointed to inspect and fix on the preferable station for forming the intended establishment.

The length of the navigation, subject to all the retardments of an India voyage, do not, I must confess, encourage me to hope for a return of the many advantages, in commerce or war, which Mr. Matra has in contemplation.

The scheme being thus questioned by the Admiralty, no further action appears to have been taken with respect to it. It seems probable, however, that Matra, not satisfied with Lord Howe's unfavourable opinion of his project, determined to seek another channel for it, and for that purpose placed himself in communication with Sir George Young, who is described in a letter from Pepper Arden, the Attorney-General, to Lord Sydney, as "of the navy". {4} He appears to have thoroughly sympathised with Matra's ideas on the subject; his experience in the navy leading him to appreciate the prospective importance of a colony in the South Sea to the commerce as well as the naval power of the mother country. Guided by this experience, he prepared a condensed edition of Matra's proposals, presenting them in a shape somewhat more consistent with official views on the subject of colonisation. His plan was introduced to Lord 1786 Sydney's notice in a letter from Pepper Arden, dated 13th January, 1785, in the course of which he said,—"Lord Mansfield mentioned the subject to me, and desired Sir George Young would call upon me to explain his ideas."

Although there is no express allusion in Sir George's paper to Matra's proposals, no one can compare the two documents without seeing that the one formed the basis of the other—the only essential difference between them being that Sir George Young's sketch presented a condensed, and in some respects a more practical view, of the subject. The identity of the two schemes may be shown by analysing the arguments used by the two writers, and comparing them one with another. Briefly stated, those relied upon by Matra were as follows:—

1. The proposed colony of New South Wales might 'in time atone for the loss of the American colonies.'

2. The new territory offered almost every conceivable inducement to colonisation. "The climate and soil are so happily adapted to produce every various and valuable production of Europe and of both the Indies that, with good management and a few settlers, in twenty or thirty years they might cause a revolution in the whole system of European commerce, and secure to England a monopoly of some part of it, and a very large share in the whole."

3. The colony might afford an asylum for the American colonists who had remained loyal and had suffered for their loyalty to the Crown during the war. These settlers might be expected to form the basis of the future population of New South Wales. The proposal for its settlement had met with the approval of many Americans of that class, who had been consulted on the subject with a view to their taking part in it.

4. The expense of founding a settlement as proposed need not exceed £3,000. It would be sufficient, in the first instance, to despatch two ships of the peace establishment with two companies of marines and about twenty artificers, "who are all the emigration required from the parent State." These men could be left at the new settlement to prepare for the reception of the intended settlers. The ships could take in a supply of live stock, seed, and fruit-trees at the Cape of Good Hope.

5. One of the ships might be despatched from the colony to New Caledonia, Otaheite, and the neighbouring islands, "to procure a few families thence, and as many women as may serve for the men left behind."

Sir Joseph Banks was of opinion that "any number of useful inhabitants" might be drawn from China, "agreeably to an invariable custom of the Dutch in forming or recruiting their Eastern settlements". {5}

6. The proposed colony would improve the trade with China, and open up commercial intercourse with Japan, Korea, and the Moluccas. The timber and flax of New Zealand might become articles of commerce, of great importance to the naval interests of England. "There is also a prospect of considerably extending our woollen trade."

7. "Those who are alarmed at the idea of weakening the mother country by opening a channel for emigration "might console themselves by reflecting that "it is more profitable that a part of our countrymen should go to a new abode where they may be useful to us, than to the American States."

8. The geographical position of New South Wales might give it "a very commanding influence in the policy of Europe." In the event of war with Holland or Spain, it would furnish England with a naval station of the greatest value.

9. The common apprehension of danger resulting to the mother country from voluntary emigration was not a matter for serious consideration, when viewed in connection with the commercial and political advantages to be derived from it.

10. Convicts might be transported to the new territory under much more favourable circumstances as regards expense and other practical considerations, than to any other country, and with far greater opportunities for their ultimate reformation.

Such was Matra's line of argument. Sir George Young sketched the prospective advantages of the settlement in the following form:—

1. The geographical position of the country placed it within easy communication with the Spanish settlements in South America on the one hand, and with China, the Spice Islands, and the Cape of Good Hope on the other. The facilities for extensive trade thus disclosed were not all; for should war break out between England and Spain, English ships would then have the immense advantage of a great naval station in the South Sea.

2. The variety of soil and climate comprised within the territory would enable the colonists to produce almost all the products known to the commerce of European nations,—"not to mention the great probability of finding in such an immense country metals of every kind."

3. The settlement of "a territory so happily situated" would not only lead to the establishment of "a very extensive commerce", but would "greatly increase our shipping and number of seamen". In addition to many other products, the New Zealand flax plant might be largely cultivated, and by that means the English navy might be rendered independent of Russia for its supply of cordage and canvas.

4. The settlement of the country would not tend to "depopulate the parent State", as the settlers would be principally collected from the Friendly Islands and China; the only men required from England being a few skilled workmen, who might be drawn from the ships sent out on the service.

5. The American colonists who had been loyal to the Crown in the War of Independence would find in New South Wales "a fertile, healthy soil, far preferable to their own", where they might be established "with a greater prospect of success than in any other place hitherto pointed out for them."

6. The expense involved in carrying out this plan could not exceed £3,000, seeing that ships-of-war might be as cheaply fed and paid in the South Sea as in the British Channel.

7. The expense of transporting felons might be considerably reduced by sending them to the new territory, while the danger of their returning from it would be much less than in the case of other countries. The transportation might be cheaply carried out by means of the China ships of the East India Company, which, by altering their route after leaving the Cape of Good Hope, might land the felons on the coast of New South Wales, and then proceed to their destination.

While the identity of these schemes is obvious, it is not less clear that they formed the starting-point of the expedition subsequently sent out. Although it assumed a very different shape when actually executed, we have only to read Lord Sydney's letter to the Treasury of the 18th August, 1786, {6} and the instructions to Governor Phillip on his departure, to see that the whole scheme, modified, as it was, by the exigencies of the transportation question, originated in the plan formulated by Matra and revised by Sir George Young. Very little is said in the official documents with reference to the commercial or political advantages so forcibly urged by those gentlemen; the whole project had apparently dwindled down to a plan for ridding the country of its surplus criminals. Matra's idea was that the colony might be settled by the unfortunate loyalists scattered throughout the American colonies, who were at that time looking out for new homes. As it turned out, none of them emigrated to New South Wales; the expedition to Botany Bay was composed exclusively of convicts, with the military and civil officials required to govern them. The official instructions to Governor Phillip embodied two or three of Matra's suggestions—the cultivation of the New Zealand flax plant, and the despatch of a ship to the islands for the purpose of procuring women; but curiously enough, these suggestions were the only points of his project which proved impracticable. The flax plant was never cultivated in any part of New South Wales, and never realised the anticipations formed of it, even in Norfolk Island. Nor did Phillip make any attempt to bring women from the islands, knowing that "it would answer no other purpose than that of bringing them to pine away in misery." The proposal was a worse than thoughtless one.

But although the schemes elaborated by Matra and Sir George Young were not officially adopted by the Government, they appear to have been subjected to further revision at the hands of officials, the result being seen in the shape of a paper, without name or date, entitled—"Heads of a Plan for effectually disposing of convicts, by the establishment of a colony in New South Wales." {7} In this plan we find the details of the expedition to Botany Bay foreshadowed with remarkable precision. All mention of free settlers has disappeared, and from first to last the project is confined to a proposal for "effectually disposing of convicts". That these "heads of a plan" were drawn up by some one in the confidence of the Government is shown by the fact that, in his letter to the Treasury of the 18th August, 1786, and also in his subsequent letter to the Admiralty, in which instructions were given for the equipment of the expedition. Lord Sydney made special reference to the paper:—"I enclose to your lordships herewith the heads of a plan upon which the new settlement is to be formed." A review of the records on this subject seems to show that in the interval of three years which elapsed between the date of Matra's project and the letters referred to, the proposals for colonising Now South Wales had been subjected to several processes of revision, resulting in the plan finally adopted.

It is evident that the plans proposed to the Government were drawn up under very different influences from those which finally determined the matter. Both Matra and Sir George Young pointed to the American loyalists as the proper men to send out to New South Wales; they were practical settlers, accustomed to the struggles of colonial life, and they were entitled to the assistance of the Government in their search for new homes. But the Home Secretary was not troubled about the loyalists, while he was very much troubled about the convicts. The hulks and gaols were crowded with criminals condemned to transportation, and where were they to be sent when the American ports were no longer open?

Although Matra's proposal was ultimately shaped so as to suit the Minister's convenience, it is not possible to read his long-forgotten essay without seeing how clearly, even in the dim distance, the "heroic work of colonisation" occupied the background of the picture which represents the departure of the First Fleet for the shores of New South Wales. The mean proportions which the scheme assumed in Sydney's hands should not blind us to the fact that it originated in a desire to establish free settlers in a new colony, under conditions which would enable them to turn to account the great natural resources of the country, not only to their own benefit but to that of the nation.

Here he disappears from the page of history; but Sir 1793-8 George Young again becomes visible for a moment in the act of presenting a little petition to Sydney:—

To the Right Honorable Lord Sydney, one, &c.

The Petition of Sir George Young, Knight, and John Call, Esquire, in behalf of themselves and others, sheweth,—that your petitioners have it in contemplation to form a settlement on a small uninhabited island, first discovered by Captain Cook and by him named Norfolk Island, lying in the latitude 29° 2' south, and longitude 168° 16' east from Greenwich, in the Pacific Ocean; in order to promote the cultivation of the New Zealand flax-plant, and the growth of pine timber for masts, being persuaded that if they are fortunate enough to succeed in their undertaking, it will be attended with great national utility, by furnishing a future supply of those valuable articles—cordage and masts—for his Majesty's ships-of-war in India, which have hitherto been obtained at an enormous expense owing to the difficulty of conveying them thither, and from their scarcity have often reduced the maritime force employed in the East Indies to great inconvenience and distress.

Your petitioners therefore, considering the great expence and risque they must necessarily incur in prosecuting an enterprise in which, if they succeed, the nation cannot fail of being benefited, humbly solicit from his Majesty a grant to them and their heirs for ever of the said island, to be held of the Crown as of the Manor of East Greenwich.

London, May 24th, 1788.

The reticence which the Government had observed in connection with their plans for colonising New South Wales may be seen in the fact that even Sir George Young—who was in a position to obtain information from official sources—was ignorant of their intentions as regards Norfolk Island. At the time that he presented his petition, Lieutenant King had been in occupation of it for over three months; but Sir George had not even a suspicion that instructions had been given to Phillip to hoist the British flag there as soon as possible after his arrival.


{1} {return}

Nepean's name is frequently met with in the official correspondence connected with the expedition to Botany Bay, and the subsequent colonisation of New South Wales. His name was given by Governor Phillip to the river Nepean on its discovery in 1789. He was Under Secretary when George the Third summarily dismissed Fox and Lord North from office, on the 18th December, 1783, and was sent by the King with a verbal message to Lord North, requiring him to send the seals of office to the Palace by the hands of the Under Secretary. "It was one o'clock in the morning, and Lord North had retired to rest with Lady North, when Sir Evan Nepean knocked at his bed-chamber door, and desired to see him on most important business. 'Then,' said the discarded Minister, 'you must see Lady North too'; at the same time intimating his determination not to get out of bed. Sir Evan Nepean having accordingly been admitted and declared his errand. Lord North delivered to him the key of the closet in which the seals of office were kept, and then quietly turned round to sleep again."—Jesse, Memoirs of George the Third, vol. ii, p. 448; Massey, Reign of George the Third, vol. iii, p. 209, note. He was created a baronet in 1802; sat in the House of Commons, was sworn of the Privy Council, and held the offices of Secretary to the Admiralty and Chief Secretary for Ireland; being subsequently appointed one of the Lords of the Admiralty and also Governor of Bombay. He died in 1822.

{2} {return}

Post, pp. 423-8—Thomas Townshend, Viscount Sydney, filled the office of Secretary of State for the Home Department in Lord Shelburne's short-lived administration of 1782-3, and subsequently filled the same office in Pitt's, which lasted from 1783 to 1801. He was raised to the Peerage in March, 1783, as Baron Sydney of Chislehurst, and in June, 1789, became Viscount Sydney of St. Leonards, county Gloucester. He held office until that year, and died in 1800.

{3} {return}

Lord Howe was appointed First Lord of the Admiralty on the formation of Pitt's Cabinet. He was George the Third's "favourite Admiral."—Jesse, Memoirs, vol. iii, p. 204.

{4} {return}

Post, p. 429.—Sir George Young was an officer of distinction. He served at the taking of Louisburg in 1758, at Quebec in 1759, at the Havannah in 1762, and at Pondicherry in 1778. He was an admiral of the White squadron, and died in 1810, at the age of 78. Some confusion has existed between his name and that of a contemporary, Sir George Yonge (pronounced Young), who was Secretary of War in the Shelburne administration of 1782, and subsequently in Pitt's. Among the despatches from the English Government in 1792 may be seen a letter from Sir George Yonge addressed to Governor Phillip, dated from the War Office, 24 July, 1792. Sir George's name appears in the list of Ministers present at a meeting of the Privy Council, at which "the King's Most Excellent Majesty" presided, and which was held at the Court at St. James's, on the 10th December, 1786, "William Pitt, Esq.", being also present. It was then ordered that a second captain should be appointed to the "man-of-war that shall proceed with the transport vessels appointed to convey the convicts to Botany Bay", with power to command in the absence of the principal captain. Captain Hunter was appointed second captain, Phillip being the principal.

{5} {return}

The employment of Chinese in the settlement of new countries was a familiar idea down to a much later period. Dr. Lang, for instance, proposed a settlement of the kind for the cultivation of the tea-plant "at one of the northern settlements of New South Wales, as, for instance, at Port Macquarie ... The Dutch have long been alive to the benefits likely to result to their nation from the settlement of numerous families of Chinese in their colonial territories. Chinese are very numerous in the city of Batavia."—Historical Account of New South Wales, 1st ed., 1834, vol. i, pp. 386-7.

{6} {return}

Post, p. 435.

{7} {return}

Post, p. 432.


THE employment of convicts in the formation of new colonies, a practice which probably originated in the ancient custom of employing slave labour on public works, was a common one among the colonising nations of Europe from the earliest times. By two edicts issued in 1497, the Spanish Government authorised judicial transportation of criminals to the West Indies, and gave certain criminals the option of transporting themselves to Hispaniola (St. Domingo) at their own expense, to serve for a specified time under Columbus. The first Europeans who landed on the coast of Brazil were two convicts, who were left ashore by the Portuguese in 1500. {1} The commission given by the King of France in 1540 to Jacques Cartier, or Quartier, as Captain-General on his second voyage to Canada, authorised him to choose fifty persons out of such criminals in prison as should have been convicted of any crimes whatever, excepting treason and counterfeiting money, whom he should think fit and capable to serve in the expedition. Another French expedition to Canada, which set sail in 1598 under the command of the Marquis de la Roche, carried forty convicts who were left on the Isle of Sables, about fifty leagues to the south-east of Cape Breton, for the purpose of forming a settlement there. In the same manner. Sir Martin Frobisher was supplied, by the Queen's order, with certain "prisoners and condemned men" when he sailed in 1577 on his second voyage "for the discoverie of a new passage to Cataya, China, and the East India, by the North-west", and also for the discovery of "golde mynes" among the icebergs. His instructions directed him to "sett on land upon the coast of Friesland vi of the condemned persons which you carie with you, with weapons and vittualls such as you may conveniently spare, to which persons you shall give instructions howe they may by their good behaviour wyn the goodwill of the people of that country, and also learn the state of the same." {2} And lastly, the colonists sent out to North America by the Government of Sweden in 1638, when Fort Christina in Delaware was founded, were composed largely of convicts from the prisons of Sweden and Finland.

It was natural that this system, once introduced, should be utilised for other purposes than that of laying the foundations of new settlements. The difficulty of obtaining free settlers for the work operated long after that stage in the history of a colony had been passed; and as the demand for labour in the colonies far exceeded the supply, the employment of prisoners became a matter of practical necessity as well as one of State policy.

This difficulty was aggravated by another influence which operated largely in the same direction. Down to a comparatively recent period, the various States of Europe, so far from suffering from redundant populations, were harassed with the fear of losing that portion of them which formed the main reservoirs of their military strength. One result of this apprehension was a settled aversion to the emigration of able-bodied men to new countries, on the ground that it tended to depopulate the parent State. The "depopulation" theory became a potent factor, especially in England, in checking the tendency to emigration to the colonies, and continued to be so until the evils of a surplus population had grown into a great national question. {3}

A third cause was at work throughout the same period and in the same direction; and that was the necessity for finding some effectual means for disposing of the convicted criminals who were always accumulating in the small, ill-constructed, and unwholesome gaols of former times. Transportation under such circumstances naturally became a favourite theory of penal discipline among reformers and philanthropists, the arguments in its favour being mainly these:—1, It freed the country from large numbers of the criminal classes, as well as from the dangers attending over-crowded gaols; 2, It was calculated to promote the prosperity of the colonies; 3, It offered a better prospect of reformation to the convicts who were sent abroad than could possibly be afforded them in the gaols; and 4, It served to mitigate the severity of the old criminal laws, which prescribed the penalty of death for many offences now punished with a few months' imprisonment. For these reasons the system held its ground firmly for fully three centuries.

Its Commencement may be dated from the fifteenth century, and so far as England is concerned, it may be said to have terminated in 1867. The Portuguese, who are credited with having been "the first European nation to employ transportation and penal labour in the colonies as a mode of punishment", {4} made large use of their Brazilian and other possessions for the reception of convicts. If they were the first to introduce this system for penal purposes, England was "the first country which systematically used her dependencies as places for the reception and punishment of convicts." {5} The transportation of convicts from England to the North American colonies began in the reign of James I, was largely resorted to in the time of Charles II, and early in the eighteenth century was reduced to a regular system. One reason why it came so largely into use was because "it was found that the Government might save the expense of maintaining convicts by selling them as slaves for a term of years or for life, to a Virginia or Maryland planter. {6} The Government, of course, did not sell the convicts directly, but it empowered the shipowners who contracted for their transportation to sell them, by giving the former a statutory right of property in their service. {7} The Government transferred them to the contractors, who in their turn transferred them to the planters—the Government in that way relieving itself of all cost and responsibility. But although the system of contract was continued for some years when convicts were sent out to Australia, they ceased to be made the subject of actual sale. A different method of dealing with them was adopted; the Government retained its control over them from first to last, paid for their transportation at a fixed rate, and afterwards {8} permitted their assignment to colonists on certain terms.


{1} {return}

Post, p. 439.

{2} {return}

Hakluyt Society: The Three Voyages of Martin Frobisher, p. 118.

{3} {return}

Post, p. 440.

{4} {return}

Merivale, Lectures on Colonisation, vol, ii, p. 3.

{5} {return}

G. C. Lewis, on the Government of Dependencies, p. 236. The Council of Foreign Plantations, established by Charles II in 1660, were instructed, among other things, "to inquire touching emigration and how noxious and unprofitable persons may be transplanted to the general advantage of the public and commodity of our foreign plantations."—Mills, Colonial Constitutions, p. 5.

{6} {return}

Lewis, p. 257.

{7} {return}

Post, p. 447.

{8} {return}

"In 1824, by statute 5 George IV, c. 84, a new element was introduced into the system of transportation, by giving to the Governor of a penal colony a property in the services of a transported offender for the period of his sentence, and authorising him to assign over such offender to any other person."—Mills, Colonial Constitutions, p. 346. The element referred to was not altogether new. Governor Phillip was instructed to obtain an assignment to himself, from the masters of the transports in the First Fleet, of the servitude of the convicts on board for the remainder of the terms specified in their sentences; and he was authorised, in 1789, to assign to each grantee of lands in the colony any number of convicts that he might judge sufficient on certain conditions. The section (viii) of the Act referred to by Mills is as follows:—

And be it further enacted that so soon as any such offender shall be delivered to the Governor of the colony, or other person or persons to whom the contractor shall be so directed to deliver him or her, the property in the service of such offender shall be vested in the Governor of the colony for the time being, or in such other person or persons; and it shall be lawful for the Governor for the time being, and for such other person or persons, whenever he or they shall think fit, to assign any such offender to any other person for the then residue of his or her term of transportation, and for such assignee to assign over such offender, and so often as may be thought fit; and the property in the service of such offender shall continue in the Governor for the time being, or in such other person or persons as aforesaid, or his or their assigns, during the whole remaining term of life or years for which such offender was sentenced or ordered to be transported.


TRANSPORTATION to the American plantations is said to have become a common sentence in the English Criminal Courts about the time of the Restoration—1660, {1} Cromwell sent large numbers of his royalist prisoners to the West Indies; {2} but although many convicts of all classes were afterwards sent there, they were few in comparison with the numbers sent to America. The extent to which transportation to that country was carried may be gathered from many casual references in the pages of contemporary-writers. When, for instance, Bacon wrote in his Essays that "it is a shameful and unblessed thing to take the scum of people and wicked condemned men to be the people with whom you plant", he was evidently pointing to Virginia. He was a shareholder in the trading Company formed by London merchants and others for the purpose of colonising that country, and which, in 1608—the second edition of the Essays was published in 1612—sent out an expedition of nine ships with five hundred settlers on board. These men "were for the most part the very scum of the earth—men sent out to the New World because they were unfit to live in the Old." {3} Speaking of a later period, the same authority says:—"Most of the colonists were no better than criminals; indeed, the colony had got so evil a name in England that few respectable men would go out." De Foe, whose pictures of contemporary life are none the less reliable because they were used for the purposes of fiction, has left some remarkably graphic sketches of the transportation system, of the traffic in indented servants, and of the kidnapping practices to which it gave rise. {4} Not only were the gaols cleared from time to time by the removal of their inmates to the ships employed in carrying them over to the plantations, but the very streets of London and other large cities were swept by kidnappers in search of their prey. The method of dealing with the convicts and indented servants, who were shipped to the plantations in the West Indies as well as to those in America, is described by a historian of Jamaica, whose work was written and published at a time when information on the subject might be readily gathered from men's mouths, instead of being laboriously compiled from dusty records. {4} The author, seeking to justify the planters from the charge of cruelty to their slaves so often alleged against them, asserts that the cruelty was not practised by the planters but by their overseers, who were sent out to the plantations from England. The colonists were thus made to suffer in reputation for the vicious brutality of men thrust upon them by the English Government; and incidentally he remarks—"America has been made the very common sewer and dungyard to Britain." Similar language seems to have been frequently applied to the West Indies. {5} Perhaps the truth could hardly be better expressed than it is by Bancroft:—"The history of our colonisation is the History of the crimes of Europe."

Owing, however, to the absence of statistics on the subject, there are no very accurate means in the present day of ascertaining the extent to which transportation to America was carried during the period of one hundred and twenty years—say from 1650 to 1775—in which it may be said to have flourished. According to an official estimate, {6} written in 1787, the average annual number transported during the seven years from 1769 to 1775 was about 1,100. If we take the average number at 1,000 throughout the whole period, the result would be a total of 120,000. That estimate is probably within the mark, because it takes no account of the large numbers who were sent out for political offences after the rebellions of 1685, 1715, and 1745. Nor does it take any account of the offenders who were allowed to transport themselves—a privilege frequently granted in the case of men arrested on suspicion but not brought to trial, as well as in cases of conviction. In any case, therefore, it might be fairly assumed that while the total number of convicts of all classes transported to America could not have been less than 120,000, it was probably far larger. Dr. Lang mentions, {6} in his Transportation and Colonisation, that according to an estimate which Lord Auckland caused to be prepared in connection with the work entitled Governor Phillip's Voyage, the average number of convicts annually sent out to America amounted to 2,000. His own calculation is that the number did not exceed 500 annually, or a total of 50,000 altogether. But this estimate appears to be as much below the mark as Lord Auckland's seemed to him above it.

The reticence of American writers on this subject renders it difficult to obtain any exact information with respect to it. A curious instance of national sensitiveness may be seen in a statement made by Thomas Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, who was Governor of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, Minister at the Court of France from 1784 to 1789, and President of the United States from 1801 to 1809. In a note written for the information of the author of an article on the Etats Unis in the Encyclopédie Méthodique, he stated that "the malefactors sent to America were not sufficient in number to merit enumeration, as one class out of three which peopled America." And he added: "It was at a late period of their history that this practice began. I have no book by me which enables me to point out the date of its commencement. But I do not think the whole number sent out would amount to 2,000; and being principally men eaten up with disease, they married seldom and propagated little. I do not suppose that themselves and their descendants are at present 4,000, which is little more than one-thousandth part of the whole inhabitants." {7}

It is not easy to reconcile this estimate—which bears no date, but was written about 1785—with that of the official charged with the transportation of convicts to America, whose letter on the subject has been already referred to. Jefferson's calculation was not based on any statistical or official information, and is evidently at variance with the facts as they appear in the records.

Later writers of American history would appear to have adopted the great President's views on this subject. Their pages may be searched in vain for any account of the transportation system, although it formed so conspicuous a chapter in the annals of American colonisation. The convict element in the composition of early American society has long since dropped out of sight; so much so, indeed, that it is difficult now to find even an allusion to it in the literature of the present century. {8} The explanation is not difficult. The convicts, scattered over the immense territory of the plantations, were so rapidly absorbed in the general population that all traces of their identity were soon lost in the crowd; a result largely owing to the means of reformation afforded them by free grants of land and assistance in the work of cultivation.

Transportation to New South Wales ceased in 1841, and the total number of convicts sent out to the colony up to that date is calculated at 83,000. {9} Of this portion of its population it may be said that the process of absorption which took place in the American colonies has been witnessed here—largely accelerated by the great gold discoveries which began ten years after the system was discontinued. Those discoveries may be said to have dispersed the scattered remnants of the old convict days, as effectually, if not as rapidly, as bush fires have consumed the decayed vegetation of a forest.

Transportation to Van Diemen's Land and Norfolk Island ceased in 1853, and to Western Australia in 1867, For nearly eighty years, in face of all the accumulated evidence against it, this system was carried out as resolutely under one form of government as another—with the same faith in its equity under Lord John Russell in 1840 as under Lord Sydney over half a century before; and but for the determined resistance of the colonies to its continuance, it would probably have been in existence at the present day. So little do merely moral considerations avail, when weighed in the balance against political convenience.


{1} {return}

Kelynge's Reports, p. 45:—"It having been lately used that for felonies within clergy, if the prisoner desire it, not to give book, but procure a conditional pardon from the King, and send him beyond sea to serve five years in some of the King's plantations, and then to have land there assigned to him, according to the use in those plantations for servants after their time expired; with a condition in the pardon, to be void if they do not go, or if they return into England during seven years or after without the King's license." Kelynge was appointed Lord Chief Justice in 1665.

{2} {return}

Post, p. 455.

{3} {return}

Doyle, History of America, pp. 45-6.

{4} {return}

Post, pp. 458-9, 460.

{5} {return}

"Yet there are authors who affect to describe the inhabitants of all the West Indies as a herd of criminals and convicts."—Edwards, History of the West Indies, vol. ii, p. 7. It was the fashion with many English writers of the eighteenth century, when alluding to colonists generally, to describe them in the manner complained of by Edwards.

{6} {return}

Post, pp. 461-2.

{7} {return}

Jefferson, Works, vol. ix, p. 254.

{8} {return}

Some indication of the difficulty of obtaining authentic information on this subject may be gathered from the fact that a correspondent's letter published in Notes and Queries for November 10, 1869, p. 369, asking tor "trustworthy sources of information respecting the old system of transportation, as it existed prior to the American War of Independence", met with no reply. Another letter, requesting information as to what extent prisoners had been transported to the United States, appeared in the same periodical for December 11, 1886 (vol. ii, p. 476), to which several replies were sent; see vol. iii, pp. 58, 114, 193; vol. iv, pp. 134, 394; vol. v, p. 196.

{9} {return}

Post, p. 463.


THE colonies in British America continued to receive convicts for some years after the Declaration of Independence by the United States in 1776, followed by the Treaty of Versailles in 1783, had put an end to the system of transportation to the States. Among the records of the Home Office are two warrants, dated 1783 and 1784, and addressed to the superintendent of the convicts on the river Thames, requiring him to deliver certain convicts then on board the hulks to the contractor for their transportation to America. {1} These warrants are sufficient to show that transportation to America did not, as is often supposed, entirely cease after the War of Independence. {2}

When the independence of the United States was recognised by England, by the Peace of Versailles, the Government found itself under the necessity of finding some other outlet for the fast-accumulating population of the gaols. The coasts of Africa were at first thought of as the most suitable place for the reception of convicts, and many were sent there; but the unhealthiness of the climate proved so fatal to them that transportation to that country was wholly abandoned in 1785.

The final determination of the Government was made known in a letter from Lord Sydney to the Lords of the Treasury, dated 18th August, 1786:—

The several gaols and places for the confinement of felons in this kingdom being in so crowded a state that the greatest danger is to be apprehended, not only from their escape but from infectious distempers which may hourly be expected to break out amongst them, his Majesty, desirous of preventing by every possible means the ill consequences which might happen from either of these causes, has been pleased to signify to me his royal commands that measures should immediately be pursued for sending out of his kingdom such of the convicts as are under sentence or order of transportation.

The Nautilus, sloop, which, upon the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons, had been sent to explore the southern coast of Africa, in order to find out an eligible situation for the reception of the said convicts, where, from their industry, they might soon be likely to obtain means of subsistence, having lately returned, and it appearing by the report of her officers that the several parts of the coast which they examined between the latitudes 15° 50' south and the latitude of 33° are sandy and barren, and from other causes unfit for a settlement of that description, his Majesty has thought it advisable to fix upon Botany Bay, situated on the coast of New South Wales, in the latitude of about 33° south, which, according to the accounts given by the late Captain Cook, as well as the representations of persons {3} who accompanied him during his last voyage, and who have been consulted upon the subject, is looked upon as a place likely to answer the above purposes.

I am therefore commanded to signify to your lordships His Majesty's pleasure that you do forthwith take such measures as may be necessary for providing a proper number of vessels for the conveyance of seven hundred and fifty convicts to Botany Bay, together with such provisions, necessaries, and implements for agriculture as may be necessary for their use after their arrival. {4}

It would appear from this letter that the sole motive of the expedition to Botany Bay was to relieve the gaols. But there is abundant evidence to show that other and higher considerations had been at work for some time previously; and that although the relief of the prisons was the immediate object in view, the real motives which led to the expedition were of a much larger and more statesman-like character.

The work of colonisation had so long been associated in the minds of colonising nations with the employment of convict labour that, when a new colony was projected, the despatch of convicts to its shores was usually accepted as an indispensable part of the programme. This fact in the history of colonisation has so far been lost sight of by many writers in the present century, that transportation to Botany Bay has generally been treated as the central idea of the whole movement; and its history has too often been written as if "the new intended settlement" was from the first intended to be nothing more than a strictly penal one—a mere substitute for hulks and penitentiaries.

Undoubtedly there is some colour for this view of the matter. When the Government had determined to form a settlement on the coast of New South Wales, they did not announce that they were about to do so, but contented themselves with an intimation that they proposed to transport a number of felons in order to relieve the gaols. In the speech with which George the Third opened Parliament on the 23rd January, 1787, the only reference to the subject was the following:—

A plan has been formed, by my direction, for transporting a number of convicts in order to remove the inconvenience which arose from the crowded state of the gaols in different parts of the kingdom; and you will, I doubt not, take such further measures as may be necessary for this purpose. {5}

Nor was anything said about the matter in the debate on the address in reply, beyond a remark from the mover to the effect that transportation was a measure of absolute necessity, "no penitentiary houses having been built, though an Act had passed for their erection."

Judging from the extremely curt allusion to the matter in the King's speech, it would appear that the Government did not think it expedient to invite discussion with respect to their colonising project. No debate seems to have taken place at any stage of the business, even the bill "to enable his Majesty to establish a Criminal Judicature on the eastern coast of New South Wales and the parts adjacent" having passed without comment. {6} The measure seems to have been treated as if it contained nothing beyond a provision for the disposal of felons. Possibly the Government may have been influenced by the objections urged in different quarters to any proposal for the establishment of a new colony. They had to encounter objections from the East India Company to any interference with their commercial monopoly; objections from philosophers who considered colonies a source of weakness to the mother country; objections from critics who looked upon the eastern coast of New Holland as, "perhaps, the most barren, least inhabited, and worst cultivated country in the Southern Hemisphere"; {7} and objections from humanitarians who argued that, if the Government "had chosen to embrace the single purpose of forming a settlement at Botany Bay, they would be justly censurable in inviting the industrious and reputable artisan to exchange his own happy soil for the possession of territory, however extensive, in a part of the world as yet so little known. {8}

But notwithstanding the indifference with which the proposed expedition appears to have been received in political circles, a glance at contemporary history is enough to show that there were other objects in view in the minds of English statesmen besides the relief of overcrowded gaols. In the first place, the loss of the American colonies naturally provoked a desire to found other colonies, which in course of time might compensate England for them; and in the second place, there was the clear political necessity of occupying the territory discovered by Captain Cook, in order to prevent its occupation by the French.

The sequence of events during the twenty-five years which preceded the expedition under Governor Phillip is too strikingly suggestive to be overlooked. We have only to review the great historical occurrences of that time in order to see the connection between them.

1. The Peace of Paris in 1763 put an end to the long struggle between France and England for the possession of Canada and India. The French having lost both, it was inevitable that they should seek to retrieve the disaster by fresh discoveries in other parts of the world.

2. Accordingly, an expedition of discovery in the South Sea was despatched under the command of Louis de Bougainville, Colonel of Foot and Commodore, in 1766. He sailed round the world—the first achievement of the kind in the history of French navigation—and discovered various islands in the Pacific Ocean.

3. The English expedition under Captain Cook, "for making discoveries in the southern hemisphere", followed in 1768, and the publication of his voyages in 1773 directed attention to one of the greatest fields for colonisation that had yet been made known.

4. The French Government despatched another expedition in 1772, under Captain Marion Du Fresne, to make discoveries in the Southern Ocean. He touched at Van Diemen's Land and New Zealand, but added little or nothing to their geography.

5. A second expedition under Captain Cook was despatched in 1772 for the purpose of making discoveries in the unexplored part of the southern hemisphere. New Caledonia and Norfolk Island were discovered on this voyage.

6. A third expedition under the same commander was sent out to the Pacific Ocean in 1776, to make discoveries in the northern hemisphere.

7. By the Peace of Versailles in 1783, England recognised the independence of the American colonies, which were thus finally lost to her.

8. The French Government sent out a third expedition in 1785, under the command of La Pérouse, for the purpose of making discoveries and also examining portions of New Holland and New Zealand.

9. In 1786 Botany Bay was fixed upon as the site of the intended settlement on the coast of New South Wales, and in May, 1787, the fleet sailed under the command of Governor Philip, whose last lines from England showed how thoroughly he appreciated the national importance of the work in which he was engaged.

These events lead to the conclusion that, whether Lord Sydney and his colleagues confined their attention to the state of the gaols or not, there was a motive-power of a very different character at work, irresistibly impelling them to undertake the colonisation of New South Wales. {9}


{1} {return}

Post, p. 466.—It may be mentioned that when New South Wales became the scene of operations, the warrants for the delivery of convicts from the hulks to the contractors followed the American form.

{2} {return}

"The Recorder of London had a long conference with Lord Sidney on the subject of the present state of the prisons of the metropolis, and the number of convicts that are increasing to an alarming degree, owing to the delay of sending abroad those under sentence of transportation. The season is over for sending them to Quebec and Nova Scotia; but assurances have been given that two ships, properly fitted up, shall be ready by the latter end of March next, to carry convicts to America."—Annual Register, 1788, vol xxx, Chron., p. 223, under date 8th December, 1788.

{3} {return}

Sir Joseph Banks was the confidential adviser of the Government on matters relating to Botany Bay.

{4} {return}

The rest of this letter will be found post, p. 435.

{5} {return}

Parliamentary History, vol, xxvi, p. 211.

{6} {return}

There is no reference to the bill in the Parliamentary History for 1787.

{7} {return}

Post, p. 467.

{8} {return}

The History of New Holland, 1787, preface, p. v.

{9} {return}

Lucas, Introduction to a Historical Geography of the British Colonies, p. 103.


IF there were any serious doubt as to the real nature of the expedition on which Phillip was despatched, it might be settled by reference to the terms of his Commission, illustrated as it is by the official Instructions which accompanied it. {1} There is certainly nothing in the former that could lead the reader to suppose that the sole object of the expedition was the establishment of a penal settlement; nor could a stranger to our history even gather from it that such a settlement was contemplated. The Commission conferred much the same powers on Phillip as those with which the Governors sent out to the colonies and plantations in North America and the West Indies used to be invested in days when "assemblies of freeholders" were unknown. All these Commissions seem to have been framed more or less on the same lines, and according to precedents established in the early days of the colonial system; {1} the points of difference observable among them being attributable to difference in the positions occupied by the various Governors—some being appointed to Crown colonies, others to colonies possessing legislative institutions. Phillip was sent out as the Governor of a Crown colony, and consequently there was practically no limitation of his powers. {2} He was appointed "Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over our territory called New South Wales, extending from the northern Cape or extremity of the coast called Cape York to the southern extremity or South Cape, {3} and of all the country inland westward as far as the 135th degree of east longtitude, including "all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean; and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts, and all other fortifications or other military works which may be hereafter erected upon the said territory or any of the said islands."

The jurisdiction thus created was evidently designed to answer a higher purpose than that of establishing a place for the reception of convicts. Any of the adjacent islands ill the Pacific Ocean—Norfolk Island or New Caledonia, for instance—might have been sufficient for that purpose, and might probably have been even better adapted to it than the mainland; but the territory placed under Phillip's administration comprised the best half of New Holland, and taking possession of it was in fact taking possession of the whole. That the intention of the British Government in occupying New South Wales was to colonise it is further shown in the direction—"that you take the oath required to be taken by Governors in the plantations, to do their utmost that the several laws relating to trade and the plantations be duly observed." The laws referred to were the celebrated Trade and Navigation Laws, passed for the purpose of keeping the colonial trade in the hands of 1787 British merchants; but unless it was intended that New South Wales should be colonised and commercial relations established between it and the mother country, the reference to those laws would have been curiously out of place in Phillip's Commission. {4}

The several powers and authorities conferred upon him were such as would be required for the establishment of a civil government in any new settlement, of whatever elements its population might be composed. He was empowered—(1) to keep and use the "Great Seal of our said territory and its dependencies"; (2) to administer oaths; (3) to appoint Justices of the Peace, coroners, constables, and other necessary officers, for the administration of justice; (4) to grant pardons and to remit fines; (5) to grant custody of idiots and lunatics; (6) to levy forces for defence; (7) to execute martial law in time of invasion or at other lawful times; (8) to build and arm fortifications for defence; (9) to punish mutiny in ships-of-war according to martial law; (10) to punish offences committed on shore by men belonging to the navy; (11) to issue public moneys by warrant; (12) to grant lands; (13) to appoint fairs, marts, and markets, and also ports and harbours for shipping.

Equally significant is the following passage in the Instructions with reference to Norfolk Island:—

Norfolk Island being represented as a spot which may hereafter become useful, you are, as soon as circumstances will admit of it, to send a small establishment thither to secure the same to us, and prevent its being occupied by the subjects of any other European Power.

The only other Power which was at all likely to occupy Norfolk Island was France; and the order to take possession of it as soon as possible shows that the probability of its being occupied by the French was distinctly present to the mind of the British Government. The repeated injunctions conveyed to Phillip to lose no time in sailing with his fleet and in disembarking on his arrival, point to the same conclusion. Possibly it was apprehended that the expedition sent out by the French Government in 1785, under the command of La Pérouse, {5} included some design to occupy the great territory discovered by Captain Cook. That such an apprehension would not have been altogether an unreasonable one under the circumstances—although, as a matter of fact, it would have been unfounded—is a very natural inference from the chronic state of jealousy which then existed between the two Powers. There is nothing, however, in the "Private Instructions from the King to the Sieur de la Pérouse", published by the French Government with the narrative of his voyage, that can be said to justify the suspicion. He was directed to examine the north and west coasts of New Holland; consequently he could not have had any design upon the east or south coast. During his stay in Queen Charlotte's Sound, he was to "gain intelligence whether the English have formed, or entertain the project of forming, any settlement on these islands (of New Zealand); and if he should hear that they have actually formed a settlement, he will endeavour to repair thither in order to learn its condition, strength, and object." {6} From which it would appear that, although the voyage was one of discovery, it was also designed to be the means of acquiring information with respect to new settlements by the English in New Zealand. It would also seem that the French Government had entertained the project of occupying those islands even at that time. {7}

Although it is tolerably clear from La Pérouse's instructions that the French Government had no intention of anticipating the British in their occupation of New South Wales, a strong impression to the contrary has always prevailed in some quarters. The idea seems to have been suggested by the track of the French ships, as marked on the chart of their voyage from Kamschatka to Botany Bay. But if any suspicion as to their intentions had occurred to Governor Phillip, he would not have omitted to mention it in his first despatch from Sydney Cove, when referring to the French ships. It may also be assumed that either Captain Hunter or Lieutenant King, of the Sirius, would have made some allusion to it, when writing on the subject. But neither they, nor Judge-Advocate Collins, nor Captain Tench, each of whom also made specific reference to it, appear to have had any impression of the kind. The records left by these authorities point distinctly the other way. Captain Tench, for instance, in the lively account he gives of the unexpected appearance of the strangers, says:—

"By this time the alarm had become general, and everyone appeared lost in conjecture. Now they were Dutchmen sent to dispossess us, and the moment after, store-ships from England, with supplies for the settlement. The improbabilities which attended both these conclusions were sunk in the agitation of the moment. It was by Governor Phillip that this mystery was at length unravelled, and the cause of the alarm pronounced to the two French ships which, it was now recollected, were on a voyage of discovery in the southern hemisphere. Thus were our doubts cleared up and our apprehensions banished." {8}

It seems to have been forgotten that, if the French Government had intended at that time to take possession of any part of the east coast of New Holland, there was nothing to prevent La Pérouse from exploring to the southward of Point Hicks, and hoisting the French flag at any place he pleased in that direction. The country of which Captain Cook took possession on the 21st August, 1770, extended from latitude 38°—Point Hicks—to latitude 10° south; but although the territory claimed in Phillip's Commission covered the whole of the coast line from Cape York to the South Cape, and all the country inland westward as far as the 135th degree of east longtitude, it was still open to the French to claim, by virtue of prior discovery, any part of the territory not included in Cook's boundaries, or not Actually occupied by the English. Had the exploration of the southern coast, made by Baudin in 1801-2, not been anticipated by Flinders, it is difficult to see how the right of the French to occupy the territory they claimed could have been denied; still more so had La Pérouse thought proper to explore to the southward of Pointe de Hick, instead of passing his time idly in Botany Bay. In that case the territory now included in the boundaries of Victoria and South Australia might have been added to the French dominions. The reason why he did not do so may, perhaps, be found in the statement made by Collins when referring to his departure. {9} He felt so little interest in the country that he did not think it worth his while to examine it. French opinion on that subject, however, was considerably changed in 1800, when Consul Bonaparte despatched the expedition under Baudin for the purpose of making discoveries—apparently with a view to the annexation of all the unoccupied territory that could be found. The Terre Napoléon, which figures so prettily on the map published with Péron's Voyage, is a significant illustration of the great Emperor's ambition.


{1} {return}

Post, pp. 474, 481, 487.

{2} {return}

A good illustration of the manner in which Governors of the old school used to interpret their Commissions will be found in Edwards, History of the West Indies, vol. ii, page 395:—"Mr. Stokes, the late Chief Justice of Georgia, relates that a Governor of a province in North America (at that time a British colony) ordered the Provost-Marshal to hang up a convict some days before the time appointed by his sentence and a rule of Court for his execution. 'He meant well', says Stokes, 'but being a military man, conceived that as he had power to reprieve after sentence, he had power to execute also when he pleased, and the criminal was actually hanged as the Governor ordered, nor could his Excellency be persuaded that, by this very act, he was himself committing felony.' And of another military Governor, it is said that he 'took it into his head to suspend a gentleman from his seat in the Council, for no other reason than marrying his daughter without his consent.'"

{3} {return}

By the South Cape was then meant the southern extremity of Van Diemen's Land, discovered and named by Tasman. "A point much like the Ram Head, off Plymouth, which I take to be the same that Tasman calls South Cape, bore north four leagues off us."—Captain Furneaux's Narrative, 9 March, 1773. Van Diemen's Land was supposed, until the discovery of Bass's Straits, to form part of New Holland. "Van Diemen's Land has been twice visited before. I need hardly say that it is the southern point of New Holland."—Cook's Third Voyage, vol. i, p. 103, January, 1777.

{4} {return}

The extent of the restrictions placed upon the colonies at that time with respect to their commercial relations with other countries may be understood from the following passage in the preface to the History of New Holland, 1787, page viii:—"Botany Bay and the rest of New South Wales may be rendered, in the hands of this nation, a more important instrument for the improvement of her commerce; a passive instrument, it is true; for notwithstanding the extent of its coast, that country, supposing it already colonised, can never, while the charter of the East India Company exists, possess a commerce of its own. It might, perhaps, appear impossible to prevent the inhabitants of a whole colony, especially if increased to any magnitude, from becoming merchants on their own account; but besides the restriction which it is in the power of the mother country to impose, a single Act of the Legislature, rendering any person possessed of property in Great Britain or Ireland disqualified to become possessors of fixed property in New South Wales would, it is imagined, go a great way to effect such a prevention. Thus the traffick, in particular, of the English East India Company, would be as inaccessible to the colonists of New South Wales, though settled on the borders of the East, as to the inhabitants of the island of St. Helena."

{5} {return}

The name is sometimes spelt Peyrouse, as, for instance, in Phillip's Voyage, where it is stated that the latter "is the right form of that officer's name"; p. 68 n. But as it is spelt Pérouse in the authorised French edition of his voyage, published in 1799, and also on the medal struck on the occasion of the expedition, there can be little doubt that Peyrouse was not then considered the right form of the name in France; although it may have been the antiquated form of it.

{6} {return}

A Voyage Round the World, under the Command of J. F. G. de La Pérouse. Translated from the French, 1799, vol. i, p. 27. The last lines written by the unfortunate navigator convey the information he had obtained during his stay at Botany Bay with respect to Phillip's expedition.

{7} {return}

The apprehension of French settlement on the coast of New South Wales continued to agitate the British mind for many years after Phillip left the colony. During Governor King's administration, 1800-1806, the excitement caused by this apprehension reached its climax when the ships sent out by Napoleon in 1800 were known to be cruising in these seas. To appreciate the reasons for the excitement, the reader has only to compare Péron's Voyage de Découvertes aux Terres Australes, published by the French Government in 1807, with the Voyage to Terra Australis, written by Flinders and published in 1814.

{8} {return}

Narrative of the Expedition to Botany Bay, p. 50.—The latest reference to French designs appeared in an article published in the London Globe newspaper on the 26th January, 1858, on the occasion of the New South Wales Centenary, in which the writer said:—"It is not generally realised that a matter of no more than three days prevented New South Wales from becoming French instead of British territory, and very possibly from remaining so to this hour—to the exceeding simplification of the question of recidivists and Nouméan évadés. It was a race to Botany Bay between Captain Phillip, riding for England, and de La Pérouse, riding for France; and Captain Phillip's fleet beat the Boussole and the Astrolabe by just three days. De la Pérouse arrived to find the first English Governor in possession; submitted to the inevitable with national courtesy; and sailed off—to be lost on a coral reef, and to have his fate wrapped in mystery for forty years. The birth of New South Wales, as a colony, took place therefore under more than ordinary romantic circumstances ... The whole past history of Australasia, in the largest sense, has hung upon that accident."

{9} {return}

"On or about Monday, the 10th of March, the French ships sailed from Botany Bay, bound, as they said, to the northward, and carrying with them the most unfavourable ideas of this country and its native inhabitants; the officers having been heard to declare that in their whole voyage they nowhere found so poor a country nor such wretched, miserable people."—Vol. i, p. 20.


THE instructions sent from Whitehall to the Treasury and the Admiralty by Lord Sydney for the equipment of the ships required on the expedition appear to indicate all the deliberation which might be expected on such an occasion. As it turned out, however, there was but too much reason for the complaints made on the subject by Governor Phillip. There was evidence of so much neglect and inattention to the most essential matters that, judging from his repeated remonstrances, it would appear as if the necessary preparations had been left to take care of themselves. For the negligence displayed in almost every instance, the contractors and subordinate officials charged with the management of details were no doubt mainly responsible: but seeing that the expedition was formed for the avowed purpose of founding a colony as well as transporting convicts, it is singular that so little precaution should have been taken to ensure its success. That it did meet with success must be largely attributed to the prudence, sagacity, and foresight displayed by Phillip, from the time he assumed command of it to the day when he left the colony.

Some idea of the difficulties he had to contend with from the first, and which might have been avoided by proper attention to the actual requirements of the expedition, may be gathered from the following facts:—

1. The convicts put on board the transports, numbering seven hundred and fifty-six in all, of whom five hundred and sixty-four were men and one hundred and ninety-two were women, were not by any means adapted to the work of colonising. Instead of being selected for their probable usefulness on landing in a new country, as labourers and skilled workmen, they were mostly unfit for any useful employment. Fifty-two of them were incapacitated for work of any kind by old age and incurable complaints, and consequently had to be kept on the sick list after their arrival, at a time when the infant colony was threatened with starvation.

2. The convicts were put on board without sufficient clothing supplies of clothing, a neglect especially felt in the case of the women; and the hardship was aggravated by the want of such simple necessaries as needles and thread, so that when their clothes fell to pieces they could not be repaired.

3. The supply of anti-scorbutics on board the fleet was very insufficient. The outbreak of scurvy at sea was prevented by the supplies of fresh provisions obtained at Teneriffe, Rio, and the Cape; but when it broke out after the arrival at Port Jackson, the medical staff found themselves without the necessary means of treatment for the sick.

4. Although Governor Phillip was instructed to "proceed to the cultivation of the land" immediately after his arrival, under the idea that the convicts would be able to provide the means of subsistence, and for that purpose supplies of seed, grain, and farming implements had been put on board the ships, no men were sent out who had any knowledge of farming or of the management of stock.

5. The number of carpenters among the convicts was so small—there were only twelve, and several of them were sick on their arrival—that ships' carpenters had to be hired from the fleet. A similar difficulty presented itself in the case of other mechanics required in the construction of houses and public buildings. {1}

6. There were no men on board the fleet who had any knowledge of useful sciences, such as botany, geology, mineralogy, and natural history; and consequently there was no means of ascertaining the various resources of the country, and applying the knowledge to the wants of the settlement.

7. Nor were there any persons skilled in technical arts, such as flax-dressing, although the Governor was instructed to cultivate flax as a means of acquiring clothing for the convicts, as well as for maritime purposes.

8. No persons were sent out in charge of the convicts in the capacity of overseers or superintendents; and as the Governor was consequently under the necessity of selecting such officers from among the convicts, the difficulty of maintaining order among them was much greater than it would otherwise have been.

9. No instructions were conveyed to the officers of the marines for the purpose of ensuring their obedience to the Governor's orders; the consequence being that they were no sooner encamped than they refused to obey any orders outside their ordinary duty, insisting that they would not interfere with the convicts under any circumstances, except as a garrison force.

10. The Judge-Advocate appointed to preside over the Courts of civil and criminal jurisdiction was a captain of marines, without any legal training or experience; and although those Courts were instructed to administer justice "according to the laws of England", the presiding judge had no qualifications of the kind required for a purely judicial position. The Governor was thus left without any legal advice on which he could rely, and law was administered on strictly military principles.

These were some of the difficulties which Phillip had to encounter day by day, and which were, no doubt, doubly trying to him from the fact that they might have been so easily avoided by proper attention in the first instance. But serious as they were, they were greatly aggravated by the subsequent despatch of convict ships, one after another, at a time when the settlement was suffering from want of the actual necessaries of life; ships, too, sent out with so little regard for human life that pestilential fevers broke out among their wretched passengers, carrying off large numbers of them at sea, and leaving the rest in so disabled a state that on their arrival they had to be kept in hospital among a starving population.

From the time of his appointment to that of his departure on the 13th May, 1787, Phillip—judging from his correspondence—appears to have been energetically employed in supervising the arrangements made for the expedition, inquiring into various details connected with it, and otherwise preparing for his new sphere of action. How minutely he examined every point that presented itself to his mind at this time may be seen from a "memo." preserved in the Record Office, bearing no date, but evidently written soon after he had received his appointment. It contains a striking passage, in which, as on other occasions, he expressed his opinion of the great future which lay before the colony:—

By arriving at the settlement two or three months before the transports, many and very great advantages would be gained. Huts would be ready to receive the convicts who are sick, and they would find vegetables, of which it may naturally be supposed they will stand in great need, as the scurvy must make a great ravage amongst people naturally indolent and not cleanly.

Huts would be ready for the women; the stores would be properly lodged and defended from the convicts, in such manner as to prevent their making any attempt on them. The cattle and stock would be likewise properly secured, and the ground marked out for the convicts; for lists of those intended to be sent being given to the commanding officers, mentioning their age, crimes, trades, and character, they might be so divided as to render few changes necessary, and the provisions would be ready for issuing without any waste. But if convicts, provisions, &c., most be landed a few days after the ships' arrival, and consequently nearly at the same time, great inconvenience will arise, and to keep the convicts more than a few days on board, after they get into a port, considering the length of time which they must inevitably be confined, may be attended with consequences easier to conceive than to point out in a letter. Add to this, fevers of a malignant kind may make it necessary to have a second hospital.

A ship's company is landed, huts raised, and the sick provided for in a couple of days; but here the greater number are convicts, in whom no confidence can be placed, and against whom both person and provisions are to be guarded. Everything necessary for the settlement would be received at the Cape on board by the commanding officer, and nothing left for the transports but a certain proportion of live stock.

The confining the convicts on board the ships requires some consideration. Sickness must be the consequence in so long a voyage (six months may be allowed for the voyage—that is, from the time of leaving England to the arrival in Botany Bay), and disagreeable consequences may be feared if they have the liberty of the deck. The sooner the crimes and behaviour of these people are known the better, as they may be divided, and the greatest villains particularly guarded against in one transport.

The women in general, I should suppose, possess neither virtue nor honesty. But there may be some for theft who still retain some degree of virtue, and these should be permitted to keep together, and strict orders to the master of the transport be given that they are not abused and insulted by the ship's company— which is said to have been the case too often when they were sent to America.

At the ports we put into for water, &c., there may be some sick that may have fever of such a nature that it may be necessary for the safety of the rest to remove them out of the ship. In such a case, how am I to act?

The greatest care will be necessary to prevent any of the convicts from being sent that have any venereal complaints. During the passage, when light airs or calms permit it, I shall visit the transports to see that they are kept clean, and receive the allowance ordered by Government; and at these times shall endeavour to make them sensible of their situation, and that their happiness and misery is in their own hands; that those who behave well will be rewarded by being allowed to work occasionally on the small lots of land set apart for them, and which they will be put in possession of at the expiration of the time for which they are transported.

On landing in Botany Bay, it will be necessary to throw up a slight work as a defence against the natives—who, though only seen in small numbers by Captain Cook, may be very numerous on other parts of the coast—and against the convicts; for this, my own little knowledge as a field engineer will be sufficient, and will be the work of a few days only; but some small cannon for a redoubt win be necessary. Within the lines the stores and provisions will be secured, and I should hope that the situation I should be able to take may admit of having the small rivers between the garrison and the convicts so situated that I may be able to prevent their having any intercourse with the natives.

I shall think it a great point gained if I can proceed in this business without having any dispute with the natives, a few of which I shall endeavour to persuade to settle near us, and who I mean to furnish with everything that can tend to civilise them, and to give them a high opinion of their new guests; for which purpose it will be necessary to prevent the transports' crews from having any intercourse with the natives, if possible. The convicts must have none, for if they have, the arms of the natives will be very formidable in their hands, the women abused, and the natives disgusted.

The keeping of the women apart merits great consideration, and I don't know but it may be best if the most abandoned are permitted to receive the visits of the convicts in the limits allotted them at certain hours, and under certain restrictions. Something of this kind was the case on Mill Bank formerly. The rest of the women I should keep apart, and by permitting the men to be in their company when not at work they will, I should suppose, marry, in which case they should be encouraged, if they are industrious, by being allowed to work one day in the week more than the unmarried on their own lots of ground.

The natives may, it is probable, permit their women to marry and live with the men after a certain time, in which case I should think it necessary to punish with severity the man who used the woman ill; and I know of no punishment likely to answer the purpose of deterring others so well as exiling them to a distant spot, or to an island, where they would be obliged to work hard to gain their daily subsistence, and for which they would have the necessary tools; but no two to be together, if it could be avoided.

Rewarding and punishing the convicts must be left to the Governor; he will likely be answerable for his conduct, and death, I should think, will never be necessary. In fact, I doubt if the fear of death ever prevented a man of no principle from committing a bad action. There are two crimes that would merit death—murder and sodomy; for either of these crimes I should wish to confine the criminal till an opportunity offered of delivering him as a prisoner to the natives of New Zealand, and let them eat him. The dread of this will operate much stronger than the fear of death.

As the getting a large quantity of stock together will be my first great object, till that is obtained the garrison should, as in Gibraltar, not be allowed to kill any animal without first reporting his stock and receiving permission. This order would only be necessary for a certain time, and I mention it here only to show the necessity of a military government; and as I mean in every matter of this kind to set the example, I think that I can say this will never occasion any uneasiness. But, if it should, it will be absolutely necessary, otherwise we shall not do in ten years what I hope to do in four.

Women may be brought from the Friendly and other islands, a proper place prepared to receive them, and where they will be supported for a time, and lots of land assigned to such as marry with the soldiers of the garrison.

As I would not wish convicts to lay the foundations of an Empire, I think they should ever remain separated from the garrison and other settlers that may come from Europe, and not be allowed to mix with them, even after the seven or fourteen years for which they are transported may be expired.

The laws of this country will, of course, be introduced in New South Wales, and there is one that I would wish to take place from the moment his Majesty's forces take possession of the country—that there can be no slavery in a free land, and consequently no slaves.

The cloathing for the convicts will last for a certain time, after which, what means should I have of furnishing them with materials for their making their own cloathes?

It will be necessary to know how far I may permit the seamen and marines of the garrison to cultivate spots of land when the duty of the day is over; and how far I can give them hopes that the grounds they cultivate will be secured to them hereafter; likewise, how far I may permit any of the garrison to remain, when they are ordered home in consequence of relief.

By what I am informed, hatchets and beads are the articles for barter, with a few small grindstones for the Chiefs; and as when they use a light they hold it in their hands, small tin lamps on a very simple construction must be very acceptable.

Ships may arrive at Botany Bay in future. On account of the convicts, the orders of the port for no boats landing but in particular places, coming on shore and returning to the ships at stated hours, must be strictly enforced.

The saddles I mentioned will be absolutely necessary for two or three horsemen, who will examine the country to a certain distance, when it might be dangerous to attempt it with half the garrison; for I am not of the general opinion that there are very few inhabitants in this country, at least so few as have been represented; but this article I take upon myself, as likewise the knives, &c., that I mentioned.

Such fruit trees and cuttings that will bear removing should be added to the seeds carried from England, as likewise roots that will bear keeping that length of time out of the ground.

Two or three of the horses in question will be highly necessary, and there is no time to lose in giving the order, if intended.

A certain quantity of the articles of husbandry, stores, corn, seeds, and of the articles for traffick, should be put on board the Berwick, {2} that in case of an accident we may not be in immediate want of those things, and the same on board the store-ship in which the Lieutenant-Governor goes.

In addition to this memo., Phillip addressed several letters to the Home Department in reference to various matters of detail requiring attention. On the 4th January, 1787, he addressed Nepean as follows:—

As it has been found necessary to add additional security to the hatchways, and to alter the handcuffs on board the Alexander, the same will be necessary to be done on board the different ships as they arrive at Portsmouth; consequently orders should be sent down to that port to inform your office, or the Navy Board, when such alterations are made, otherwise the convicts may be sent from town before the ships are ready to receive them.

I likewise beg leave to observe that the number of scythes (only six), of razors (only five dozen), and the quantity of buck and small shot (only two hundred lb.), now ordered, is very insufficient; and that twenty scythes, twelve dozen of razors (at 12s. a dozen), and five of small shot, chiefly buck, in addition to the above, is very necessary.

I have likewise to request that you will please to inform me in what manner those people are to be paid who superintend the convicts in their various occupations, for some people there mast be named for that purpose, and no one will undertake this business without some reward, though it may be very small, being held out to them; as likewise those who must be employed in issuing the daily provisions. These people cannot well be taken from the garrison; I think they may from the ship.

The knowing what provisions, &c., are on board the different ships is very necessary, as I find there are some things put on board the transports by the agent that cannot possibly remain there. I therefore beg that I may have the account as soon as it can possibly be given.

Several of the staff have requested that I would once more apply to you for a twelvemonths' advance, as they find themselves much distressed in fitting for the voyage, and the uncertainty of which makes their agents unwilling to advance the sum they find absolutely necessary to fit out—and they feel it the more as the officers of marines have now received a year's advance; indeed I doubt if one or two of the assistant surgeons will be able to leave town without the advance.

Another letter to Nepean followed on the 11th of the same month:—

By letters from Lieutenant Shortland and the surgeon's assistant on board the Alexander, I find that one hundred and eighty-four men are put on board that ship, and fifty-six women on board the Lady Penrhyn; that there are amongst the men several unable to help themselves, and that no kind of surgeon's instruments have been put on board that ship or any of the transports. You will, sir, permit me to observe that it will be very difficult to prevent the most fatal sickness amongst men so closely confined; that on board that ship which is to receive two hundred and ten convicts there is not a space left for them to move in sufficiently large for forty men to be in motion at the same time—nor is it safe to permit any number of men to be on deck while the ship remains so near the land.

On this consideration, I hope that you will order the Alexander and Lady Penrhyn to join his Majesty's ship Sirius immediately, and proceed to Spithead, where more liberty may be allowed the convicts than can be done with safety in the river; and those that are waiting to compleat the number to be sent out in those ships may be sent round to Portsmouth with the other convicts, for the most fatal consequences may be expected if the full number is kept on board any length of time before we sail.

You will, I presume, see the necessity of ordering some surgeon's instruments to be sent on board the ships that carry the convicts; and I hope that no more will be embarked till the ships are ready to sail, and which they cannot be for a week after they get to Spithead.

On the 28th February he wrote to Sydney on similar topics. The particular matters he referred to may seem very small at this distance of time; but in his eyes they were evidently essential to the health of his people:

Having received the enclosed reports respecting the marines and convicts now embarked on board the Alexander and Lady Penrhyn, transports, I beg to submit it to your lordship whether it may not be advisable to make some alteration in the provisions, by allowing the marines a proportion of floor, in lieu of a certain proportion of salt meat, and some addition to the provisions served to the convicts. At present a convict has only, for forty-two days, 16 lb. of bread, as will appear to your lordship by the enclosed list.

And I likewise beg leave to solicit your lordship that orders may be given for the supplying both marines and convicts with fresh meat and vegetables while they remain at Spithead, and that a small quantity of wine may be allowed for the sick.

P.S.—I likewise beg leave to represent to your lordship that the contractors having a power of substituting ½ lb. of rice in lieu of 1 lb. of flour will be very severely felt by the convicts.

The specific powers with which he thought it advisable that he should be invested, in order to provide against any emergencies that might arise, formed the subject of a letter to the Under Secretary, dated March 1st. He begins by pointing out that, as he is placed under the control of the Home Office in all matters, it is necessary that his instructions should be as precise as possible.

From the letter I have received from the Admiralty, and of which I enclose a copy, you will see that respecting my 11th, 12th, and 13th queries, the Board declines giving any answer. As I am to be entirely under the direction of the Secretary of State immediately after I arrive on the coast of New South Wales, for what regards the Naval Department as well as respecting the settlement, I must request your particular attention to the following circumstances in drawing up my instructions:—

That I am directed to order wine to be purchased on the passage, at Teneriffe, or where it can be procured; for circumstances may prevent my taking on board the quantity intended at Teneriffe, or perhaps any part of it, and it may be got at the Cape or elsewhere.

That I may employ one of the transports as a hospital ship, if I find it necessary on the passage.

That I order the marines and convicts to be supplied with fresh meat and vegetables at such places as I may stop at on the passage, and to order the Commissary to draw bills on the Treasury for such supplies.

That I have the power of exchanging any part of the garrison with the marines embarked on board the ships, or of incorporating the marines now belonging to the ships with those of the garrison, if the service requires it.

That I am directed to appoint officers to fill such stations as may become vacant by death or otherwise.

That I am directed to discharge from the ships such officers and men as may not be necessary for the navigating of the ships, and which may be necessary in the garrison, such people being desirous of remaining in the settlement.

That I make the settlement in such port as I may find the most convenient and best to answer the intentions of Government.

That I send one of the ships to Charlotte Sound, in the Islands of New Zealand, for the flax-plant, and to the Friendly Islands for the bread-fruit; and as women will be there procured, that I put an officer on board such transport.

That the terms by which lands are to be granted are pointed out by the article which gives me the power of granting lands.

That I have a power of exiling to New Zealand or the neighbouring islands any convicts that may be condemned to death.

That I have the power of emancipation.

The power of suspending and sending home such officer who, from his situation, cannot be tried by a court-martial.

That in case of sending home the Sirius, I have orders from the Secretary of State to take the command of such ships or vessels as remain on the coast, by hoisting a distinguishing pendant on board such ship or tender, as I may judge necessary (such pendant not to give me any claim to the pay of a commanding officer), in order to retain the command by sea, to be more at liberty to visit the coast, and to retain the command of the ships or vessels that remain.

That I have a power to change the species of provisions served to the marines and convicts; for if salt meat is issued, without any proportion of flour—as has been hitherto done by the contractor to the marines embarked on board the Alexander—the scurvy must prove fatal to the greatest part. Of the marines already embarked two months, one in six are sent to the hospital since that ship's arrival at Spithead.

And, on a later occasion, he wrote another series of memoranda on similar points:—

It must be left to me to fix at Botany Bay, if I find it a proper place; if not, to go to a port a few leagues to the northward, where there appears to be a good harbour and several islands. As the natives are very expert in setting fire to the grass, the having an island to secure our stock would be a great advantage, and there is none in or off Botany Bay. {3}

It certainly will not be advisable to send out any more convicts till my situation is known; and the strength of the garrison must always be in proportion to the number of convicts, till the garrison is of a certain force.

Any man who takes the life of a native will be put on his trial the same as if he had killed one of the garrison. This appears to me not only just, but good policy.

These women from the islands cannot be sent for till provision is made to receive them, and they will certainly be free to choose husbands, or to live in private within certain bounds. Any insults offered to them will be punished with severity, and this their situation will require.

A power to exile to New Zealand any convict that may be condemned under certain circumstances appears to me very necessary, and may be attended with good consequences.

Instructions how to proceed in case of being opposed by any European ships when I arrive on the coast.

How and when are the contingent expenses to be drawn for, and on whom?

Mr. Rose informed me that I was to receive as Governor, £        

Allowed for a secretary, £        

Allowed for paper, £        

What is the authority which fixes these appointments?

It will be seen from his last queries that up to this time Phillip had, apparently, been more mindful of the public interest than of his own. He did not even know what salary and allowances it was proposed to attach to his appointment. As to that matter, he was informed in a letter from Whitehall, dated 20th April, that—

It will be proposed to Parliament in a few days to fix your salary as Governor at £1,000 per annum nett, which, with the pay of the Sirius, is judged to be a proper allowance for the support of the stations you are appointed to fill. You will also be allowed a contingent charge of 5s. per diem for the pay of a secretary, and £20 per annum for stationery.

On another delicate matter, he was roughly told that—

With regard to the compensation you solicit by way of table money, I am to inform you that no allowance whatever of that sort can be granted to you.

In answer to his memo. with respect to the site of the intended settlement, he received very pointed instructions:—

There can be no objection to your establishing any part of the territory or islands upon the coast of New South Wales, in the neighbourhood of Botany Bay, which you may consider as more advantageously situated for the principal settlement; but at the same time you must understand that you are not allowed to delay the disembarkation of the establishment upon your arrival on the coast, upon the pretence of searching after a more eligible place than Botany Bay.

In another letter to Sydney, written on the 12th March, Phillip—evidently feeling the weight of responsibility that lay on his shoulders, and anxious to avoid the false position in which he might ultimately find himself placed through the negligence of others—sought to impress on his lordship the necessity for immediate action in order to avert disaster. From the manner in which the marines and convicts were crowded together on board the ships, coupled with the unsatisfactory arrangements for victualling them, he thought it "more than probable" that half the men might be lost on the voyage. But for his persistent representations on these matters, it is not at all unlikely that the First Fleet—instead of arriving, as it did, with healthy crews and passengers—would have experienced much the same fate as that which befell the second:—

As the Navy Board have informed me that no alteration can be made respecting the victualling of the marines during the passage, it is to prevent my character as an officer from being called in question, should the consequence I fear be realised, that I once more trouble your lordship on this subject.

The contracts for the garrison and convicts were made before I ever saw the Navy Board on this business, and though I never have had it in my power officially to interfere, in any respect, yet I have repeatedly pointed out the consequences that must be expected from the men being crowded on board such small ships, and from victualling the marines according to the contract, which allows no flour, as is customary in the Navy. This must be fatal to many, and the more so as no anti-scorbutics are allowed on board the transports for either marine or convict; in fact, my lord, the garrison and convicts are sent to the extremity of the globe as they would be sent to America, a six weeks' passage.

I see the critical situation I may be in after losing part of the garrison, that is at present very weak, when the service for which it is intended is considered; but I am prepared to meet difficulties, and I have only one fear. I fear, my lord, that it may be said hereafter the officer who took charge of the expedition should have known that it was more than probable he lost half the garrison and convicts, crowded and victualled in such a manner for so long a voyage. And the public, believing it rested with me, may impute to my ignorance or inattention what I have never been consulted in, and which never coincided with my ideas, to avoid which is the purport of this letter; and I flatter myself your lordship will hereafter point out the situation in which I have stood through the whole of this business, should it ever be necessary.

Knowing that it was his "duty to repeat complaints that may be redressed", Phillip sent a still more emphatic representation of the state of affairs to the Under Secretary, under date March 18th:—

A letter which I have received from the surgeon states the situation of the convicts to be such that I am under the necessity of requesting you to lay their case before Lord Sydney, that directions may be given to the Commissioners of the Navy for the ordering lighters from Portsmouth Yard to the Alexander to receive the convicts while the ship is cleaned and smoked; and though I have so often solicited that essence of malt or some anti-scorbutic may be allowed, I cannot help once more repeating the necessity of it. And, putting the convicts out of the question, which humanity forbids, the sending of the marines that are on board the transports such a voyage as they are going in a worse state than ever troops were sent out of the kingdom, even to the nearest garrison—for, taking off the tonnage for the provisions and stores, they have not one ton and a half a man—cannot, I am certain, be the intention of his Majesty's Ministers; yet it is absolutely the case, and I have repeatedly stated this fact. Fresh meat for all the convicts, I was informed, had been ordered in consequence of the representation I made as soon as the ships got round to Portsmouth; but the sick only have fresh meat. Wine, at the discretion of the surgeon, is very necessary for the sick, as the convicts are not allowed anything more than water.

The necessity of making one of the transports an hospital ship is obvious, and, I think, cannot be deferred. The Friendship, as having the smallest number of convicts on board, I propose for that purpose.

The giving cloathes to those convicts who have been embarked at Plymouth is so very necessary that I have ordered it to be done, and presume the Navy Board will replace the cloathing; but as there are more convicts to be sent on board the different ships, unless orders are being given for their being washed and cloathed on their leaving the prison, or the hulks, all that we may do will be to no purpose.

These complaints, my dear sir, do not come unexpected, nor were they unavoidable. I foresaw them from the beginning, and repeatedly pointed them out when they might have been so easily prevented at a very small expense, and with little trouble to those who have had the conducting of this business. At present the evils complained of may be redressed, and the intentions of Government by this expedition answered. But if now neglected it may be too late hereafter, and we may expect to see the seamen belonging to the transports run from the ships to avoid a jail distemper, and may be refused entrance into a foreign port.

The situation in which the magistrates sent the women on board the Lady Penrhyn stamps them with infamy; though almost naked and so very filthy that nothing but cloathing them could have prevented them from perishing, and which could not be done in time to prevent a fever, which is still on board that ship, and where there are many with venereal complaints that must spread in spite of every precaution I may take hereafter, and will be fatal to thousands.

There is a necessity for doing something for the young man who is on board the ship as surgeon, or I fear that we shall lose him, and the a hundred women will be left without any assistance, several of them with child. Let me repeat my desire that orders immediately may be given to increase the convict allowance of bread—16 lb. of bread for forty-two days is very little; to supply all the convicts with fresh meat while they remain at Portsmouth, the sick with some small quantity of wine; lighters to be ordered to attend the Alexander while that ship is smoaked, &c.; to wash and cloathe the convicts that are still to be sent down before they are put on board the transports; and to have one of the transport's ordered to serve as a hospital ship.

This is a long letter, but it is my duty to repeat complaints that may be redressed, and which I am certain you desire equally with myself.

Other little matters that had occurred to him subsequently were touched upon in a further letter to Nepean, dated April 11th. The request for "sour krout and portable soup {4} for the convicts that may be sick" shows his extreme desire to secure their health on the passage:—

When you find a quarter of an hour, be so good as to give me a line to the Navy Board, sufficiently explicit to prevent any further delays, with respect to the ordinary caps for the convicts, one Porter and hogshead of porter in bottles as a present to the commanding officer in the island from which we are to procure stock, and ducats to the value of £30 for the same purpose. The beer may be bought at Portsmouth, and I will find room for it on board the Sirius.

A line likewise is necessary to the Admiralty, that I may have an order to receive on board the Sirius the Commissary and the servant to the Judge-Advocate; likewise for victualling the forty marines' wives, and to desire that sour krout and portable soup may be ordered for the convicts that may be sick. There is some krout in store at the victualling office.

P.S.—By some mistake one hundred and nine women and children are put on board the Lady Penrhyn, though that ship was only intended to carry one hundred and two and with propriety should not have more than two-thirds of that number.

Phillip was thus under the necessity of imploring the Government from day to day to supply the actual necessaries which experience had shown to be indispensable for the preservation of health on long voyages. The indifference shown by his Majesty's Ministers evidently tried his temper, and he had at last become very uneasy, if not alarmed, at the prospect before him. Not only were the marines as well as the convicts likely to suffer from the want of ordinary supplies, but the women had been put on board in such a state—"almost naked and so very filthy"—that sickness and disease were tolerably certain to break out among them. The state of things on board his ships may be judged by comparing his accounts of it with Captain Cook's description of the equipment of the Resolution and Adventure in 1772. No expense was spared on that occasion. The ships

were fitted in the most complete manner, and supplied with every extra article that was suggested to be necessary. Lord Sandwich {5} paid an extraordinary attention to this equipment, by visiting the ships from time to time, to satisfy himself that the whole was completed to his wish, and to the satisfaction of those who were to embark in them. Nor were the Navy and Victualling Boards wanting in providing them with the very best of stores and provisions, and whatever else was necessary for so long a voyage. We were supplied with wheat in lieu of so much oatmeal, and sugar in lieu of so much oil; we had, besides, many extra articles, such as malt, sour krout, salted cabbage, portable broth, saloup, mustard, marmalade of carrots, and inspissated juice of wort and beer. {6}

Neither Lord Sydney nor Lord Howe thought it necessary to visit Phillip's ships in order to satisfy himself as to their equipment; nor was the Commodore indulged in any such luxuries as marmalade of carrots or inspissated juice of wort and beer. The foundation of a colony was evidently not a matter of much importance compared with a voyage of discovery in search of a new continent towards the South Pole.

Phillip's last letter from England was written on board the Sirius, then lying on the Motherbank, off the Isle of Wight, on the 11th May. Notwithstanding all his efforts to comply with the repeated orders to sail as soon as possible, he had not been able to satisfy himself about the supply of necessaries, and was obliged to sail without the "women's cloathes", which had been so neglected by the authorities. Much as those articles were needed, however, and anxious as he was to provide for the comfort of the women, he would not "wait a single hour" for the missing garments, but would be on his way to the new land "as soon as there is the least chance of getting down Channel."

Since my letter of this morning, I have seen the bread which the contractor offered for the convicts, in the room of what was to be baked, and which could not have been ready before Monday— it is good, though coarse, and I have ordered it to be sent on board this evening.

The order Major Ross received from the Admiralty respecting the marines has the following words: "To be properly victualled by a Commissary." On this they grounded their letters of complaint; but this business is now settled—all are satisfied I return you Lord Sydney's letter, and hope we shall not give you any further trouble. Had I sailed when first I came down, some of the ships must have gone short of water, which is not yet compleat, but will, I hope, this evening; and we must likewise have left all the necessaries for the sick behind (they not coming down before last night), as well as a great deal of provisions; in fact, it was not possible to sail before this day, and now, unfortunately, the wind is westerly and blows fresh The reason the contractor assigns for not having the provisions on board sooner was, having only three ovens to bake the bread, and in doing which he has lost no time since he received the Navy Board's order. I shall not lose a moment after there is the least chance of getting down Channel; on that you may depend.

No spirits can be received at present on board any of the ships; but the greatest economy will be used in purchasing as much as the ship can stow when in the Brazil, where it is reasonable.

I have received the warrant for appointing Courts-martial, the Articles of War, and the order for the Commissary's purchasing three years' spirits. The two letters for the Vice-Kings and the Governor of the Cape are not yet received; but I must beg of you, my dear sir, to point out to the Navy Board that for women's cloathes I have no resource, and desire them to order that they may be sent down. The agent for the transports, who has corresponded with that Board on the subject, says he has expected them for some time. Be assured that I shall not wait a single hour for them after it is possible to sail. I had desired that the Sirius and Supply, armed tender, might not be paid the two months' advance till the day before I intended to sail, and that was done yesterday.

It is not in my power to send you my lists at present more correct than those you have received from Major Ross; but you shall have one by the return of the Hyæna, for I hope we shall not remain here long enough to make it out, as it will take some days to examine the different ships.

And having at last got his ships as well provided for the voyage as he could contrive to do, by repeated appeals to the authorities at Whitehall, he closed his correspondence with Nepean for the time, with a passage in which he allowed himself to become prophetic:—

Once more I take my leave of you, fully sensible of the trouble you have had in this business, for which at present I can only thank you; but at a future period, when this country feels the advantages that are to be drawn from our intended settlement, you will enjoy a satisfaction that will, I am sure, make you ample amends.


{1} {return}

The same mistake was made when H.M.S. Calcutta was sent out in 1803 to establish a colony at Port Phillip. "'The people wherewith you plant', says Lord Bacon in his Essay on Plantations, 'ought to be gardeners, ploughmen, labourers, smiths, carpenters, joiners, fishermen, fowlers, with some few apothecaries, surgeons, cooks, and bakers.' How little such a selection is attended to in the transportation of convicts to New South Wales was sufficiently exemplified on board the Calcutta, where, out of three hundred and seven convicts, there were but eight carpenters and joiners, three smiths, one gardener, twenty labouring farmers, two fishermen, nine taylors, and four stonemasons. The remainder may be classed under the heads of gentlemen's servants, hair-dressers, hackney coachmen, chairmen, silk-weavers, calico-printers, watch-makers, lapidaries, merchants' clerks, and gentlemen"—Lieutenant Tuckey, Account of a Voyage to establish a Colony at Port Phillip, 1805, p. 231.

{2} {return}

Afterwards called the Sirius; post, p. 489.

{3} {return}

Phillip had evidently read Captain Cook's account of the attempt made by the natives on the Endeavour River to burn his tents by setting fire to the grass, on the 9th July, 1770, because he would not give them any turtle. But as Cook made no mention of "several islands" in Port Jackson, while he described Port Stephens as an inlet sheltered from all winds, with "three small islands" at the entrance, Phillip was probably thinking of that port.—Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 508.

{4} {return}

Captain Cook, in a letter to Sir John Pringle, written for the purpose of explaining his success in preserving the health of his crew on board the Resolution, mentions "sour krout and portable broth" as excellent means for preventing scurvy.

{5} {return}

First Lord of the Admiralty in Lord North's Administration of 1770-1782.

{6} {return}

Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole; Introduction, p. xxx.

1.7 A VAIN PETITION. [1787]

WHILE Phillip was thus employed in getting his ships ready for sea—running backwards and forwards between the Navy and the Victualling Boards, the Admiralty and Whitehall— two Roman Catholic priests came forward with a petition addressed to Lord Sydney, praying that they might be allowed to go out with the Fleet as spiritual advisers to their co-religionists on board. In a letter addressed, without date, to his lordship, one of them pointed out that there were probably not less than three hundred of the convicts belonging to their denomination, woefully in need of religious instruction, and earnestly desirous that some minister of their own faith might be suffered to go with them. He also urged that the presence of Catholic priests among them might not only be of great service in cultivating a spirit of obedience to their officers, but might be the means of making them in the end useful members of society in the new world. The appeal was thus adroitly based on political as well as religious grounds; but unfortunately it made no impression on the Minister. The prayer was not granted; and judging from the fact that no reply to the letter can be found among the records, it may be inferred that none was sent. {1}

My Lord,—You have been apprised of the desire which two clergymen of the Catholic persuasion have to instruct the convicts, who are of their faith, who are destined for Botany Bay. I beg leave to inform your lordship of my sentiments concerning their request. There are not less probably than three hundred, ignorant, you may imagine, of every principle of duty to God and man. The number is great, and consequently constitutes an object of consequence to every man who has the happiness of his neighbours at heart That the Catholics of this country are not only of inoffensive principles, but that they are zealously attached to the Constitution of it, I may presume, is well known to your lordship. For my part, who am one of those clergymen who wish to take care of the convicts of my persuasion, I beg to acquaint your lordship that if I be so happy as to be permitted to go, that I trust my endeavours to bring these unhappy people to a proper sense of their duty as subjects and citizens may be attended with some salutary consequence. They earnestly desire some Catholic clergyman may go with them, and I trust to the known humanity of Government that a request which seems to promise some hopes of their reformation will not be denied. It is well known that these people will not pay the attention to other ministers which they do to their own. Perhaps, also, the presence of such may be of great use to make them readily obey every order of their governors, and I have no doubt our conduct will meet the approbation of them.

I sincerely pity these poor people, not so much for the disagreeable situation into which they have brought themselves, as for the misdemeanours which have made them deserving of it. Yet I trust, if their ignorance be removed, and their obligations as men and Christians be forcibly inculcated to them, that this may be a means under Providence of their becoming useful to themselves, and perhaps afterwards to their country.

At least this I sincerely wish, nor do I think I can ever be as happy elsewhere as in the place of their destination, employed in using my endeavours to bring them out of the wretched state of depravity into which they have fallen. I entreat, therefore, most humbly that this our request may be granted. These poor people will bless and thank you. I shall take care that they be not forgetful of their obligations to Government and Lord Sydney.

I have the honor of subscribing myself
              Your lordship's most humble servant,


My lord,—We are not so presumptuous as to wish support from Government; we offer our voluntary services; we hope, however, not to offend in entreating for our passage.

If the statement made by Mr. Justice Burton on the authority of the Rev. Samuel Marsden represents the facts of the case, Lord Sydney's indifference to the Roman Catholic appeal needs no explanation. Ministers of religion, whatever the sect they might belong to, did not appear to the official mind as at all necessary members of a colonising expedition. Whether or not the appointment of a chaplain to the First Fleet was obtained only through the intervention of Sir Joseph Banks at the last moment, there is no doubt that the subsequent expedition to Port Essington sailed without any chaplain at all. The neglect in one case is the best explanation that can be given of the indifference in the other.

It would certainly not be just to find fault with Phillip, because, while engaged in cataloguing in his "memo." all the needful means he could think of for governing the peculiar people committed to his charge, he did not see the necessity for providing a moral police force as well as an armed one. Neither to him nor to Lord Sydney did it occur that any better means of control for such a population could be found than those which had already been provided, in the shape of marines with fixed bayonets. It was not until Phillip had begun to form his settlement at Sydney Cove that the serious nature of the oversight presented itself to his mind. One of the very first things he had to do was to appoint overseers or superintendents for the purpose of keeping the convicts in order; but no men of the proper kind having been sent out, he was obliged to appoint convicts to that position. The inevitable results soon made their appearance; the so-called superintendents were either unable or unwilling to exercise any authority over the men, who were thus left to please themselves about the way in which their work should be done. Under such circumstances, it was a very difficult matter to get any work out of them at all. In this exigency Phillip was driven to appeal to the military for assistance, and accordingly requested the officers of the garrison to exercise their influence over the men by encouraging those whom they saw disposed to be diligent, and threatening the idle and disorderly with punishment. The officers, under Major Ross's instructions, bluntly refused to do anything of the kind, saying that they would not "interfere with the convicts" in any shape, except as a garrison force.

The most essential means for the good government of the community was thus absolutely wanting, and the natural results soon showed themselves. It might have been foreseen in the first instance that physical force alone is not enough to rule any people, even the most degraded; and that without some efficient moral influence at work, it is not possible to keep the constituent elements of society in working order. The defect was first felt by Phillip in the absence of overseers—the non-commissioned officers, so to speak, whose services he needed so much from day to day. But it was afterwards felt in the absence of a sufficient number of religious instructors, as well as of ordinary teachers. No schoolmaster, or teacher of any kind, formed part of the first establishment, although there were many children among the soldiers' families as well as among the convicts; and although it must have been known that even the men and women needed instruction in one way as much as the children did in another. One minister of religion only had been sent out—the Rev. Richard Johnson, "one of the people called Methodists"; {2} and he was loft to preach in the open air until he found means to put up a thatch-roofed building for religious service. Had the petition of the Roman Catholic priests met with more consideration than it did, Phillip's labours would have been greatly lessened in his efforts to reform the degraded characters around him. The combined influence of the clergy would have been on his side, and he might have been spared the humiliation of applying to the marines for aid in one of his greatest difficulties, and being refused. He was thus forced to govern with the lash and the hangman's rope.

How much misery and how much crime might have been avoided had Lord Sydney and his colleagues but recognised one of the simplest truths in political philosophy, by arming Phillip with the moral and religious assistance he required, may be left to conjecture. But in this, as in many other instances, may be seen how hard and merciless was the age in which they lived. The statesmen of that time had not yet learned that every government lives under a moral obligation to prevent crime as well as to punish it; and when, notwithstanding the severity of their laws, they found its growth unchecked, they saw no other remedy but that of increased severity. A short shrift and a bloody shroud was the usual fate of the unhappy wretches condemned to die, even when the crime was not more serious than a theft committed under the pressure of hunger. Many of these criminals, too, were mere boys, in most cases wholly uneducated, who had been left in childhood to seek their means of living in the streets.

How the question of juvenile crime and depravity was looked at by Pitt and his colleagues may be seen in a speech delivered by the Solicitor-General in the House of Commons in June, 1785, when moving for leave to bring in a bill 1787 "for the better securing the peace." {3} After describing the extraordinary prevalence of crime in the metropolis, he referred to "the crowds that every two or three months fell a sacrifice to the justice of their country, with whose weight the gallows groaned"; and he then mentioned "as a certain truth, that of the whole number hanged in the metropolis, eighteen out of every twenty were under the age of twenty-one." To remedy this evil, the Government proposed—not to establish a system of State schools combined with juvenile reformatories—but to effect certain changes in the regulation of the police. There was no proposal to deal with juvenile delinquents as they are dealt with in the present day; they were left to take their chance as before. Something might be done, he seemed to think, for—

friendless and deserted children who were at present picked up at the age of eight years and regularly educated to the trade of villainy. He should wish them to be taken up and sent to the Marine Society; but as the governors of that institution might possibly object, on the ground of temporary inconvenience, to take them in, he feared it would be necessary to find some other establishment for them.

Beyond that, however, the Government were not prepared to so. Legislators in those days, and in much later times, did not believe in the efficacy of education as a means of preventing crime. Sir Samuel Romilly mentions that in 1807 he supported a bill which proposed to establish schools for the education of the poor in all the parishes of England; but, he adds,—

"The bill will certainly be lost. Many persons think that the subject requires further consideration and a more matured plan; but I am afraid that a much greater portion of the House think it expedient that the people should be kept in a state of ignorance." {4}


{1} {return}

Mr. Justice Burton, in his work on The State of Religion and Education in New South Wales, published in 1840, states, on the authority of the Rev. Samuel Marsden, who acted as chaplain in the colony from 1794 to 1838, that "when the First Fleet was on the point of sailing, in the year 1787, no clergyman had been thought of, and that a friend of his own, a pious man of some influence, anxious for the spiritual welfare of the convicts, made a strong appeal to those in authority upon the subject, and through the interest of the late Bishop Porteus with Sir Joseph Banks the Rev. Richard Johnson was appointed chaplain."

Burton also mentions, in a foot-note, that "an oversight equally remarkable" occurred in connection with "the recent expedition to Port Essington", under the command of Sir J. Gordon Bremer, in H.M.S. Alligator, accompanied by the brig Britomart, which ships sailed "with upwards of five hundred souls, unprovided with any minister of religion." On their arrival at Sydney, the Bishop of Australia "furnished them with such means as were in his power"—a temporary church, bibles, prayer-books, and other religious publications.

{2} {return}

Major Grose, in a despatch to the Home Secretary, 4 September, 1793.

{3} {return}

Parliamentary History for 1785, vol. xxv, p. 888. The debate on this motion is full of information on the social condition of England at that time, which should be carefully borne in mind in connection with the Expedition to Botany Bay.

{4} {return}

Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 207.

1.8 THE FLEET AT SEA. [1787]

IT was on the 13th of May that Phillip, having hoisted his flag on board the Sirius as Commodore of the squadron, gave the signal to weigh anchor, and the ships under his command, one after another, spread their sails to the wind. They were accompanied by another man-of-war, the Hyæna, a frigate of twenty-four guns, which was under orders to see them clear of the Channel and bring back a final letter from Phillip. The navigation of the Channel was the most difficult part of the voyage; but good fortune was with them from the first, and the ships got into the Atlantic without any accident. It was a week, however, before Phillip could sit down and write his first despatch. The sea was running high, and his table was so unsteady that he could not write at ease; his despatch was therefore merely a short note, addressed to Nepean. The Commodore was evidently in good spirits; having cleared the Channel, "I look on all our difficulty as ended." The only matter that seemed to trouble him much was the "women's cloathing", which he had been compelled to leave behind.

As we are now nearly one hundred leagues clear of the Channel, the Hyæna leaves us this evening to return to Plymouth, but the sea runs too high to send on board the different transports to get any particular account of the state of the convicts. I have therefore only to repeat what I said in my last from the Motherbank, that a great part of the women's cloathing was not come down from London when we sailed, nor did I receive the letters for the Vice-King. The Provost-Marshal, who had not been seen for a considerable time before we sailed, is left behind, and as it will be very necessary to have such an officer on the spot, I have ordered Mr. Henry Brewer to act as such, and shall be glad if he is approved of. I enclose a copy of the last returns, and shall send you a more particular account from Teneriffe. At present our motion is such that I find it very difficult to sit at table; but the weather is good, and tho' the Charlotte and Lady Penrhyn sail very badly, the clearing the Channel is one great point gained, and with which I look on all our difficulty as ended.

But one difficulty was no sooner ended than another presented itself in an unexpected shape:—

Since I sealed my letters I have received a report from the officers on board the Scarborough respecting the convicts, who, it is said, have formed a scheme for taking possession of the ship. I have order'd the ringleaders on board the Sirius, and should not mention the affair at this moment, as I have no time to enter into particulars, but that I suppose it will be mentioned in letters from that ship. I did intend to write to Lord Sydney, but it is late, and I wish the boats on board the different ships. You may assure his lordship of my respects, and tell him the reason that prevents my writing to him.

Two of the ringleaders in this conspiracy were flogged, and then removed into another ship. The sudden extinction of their scheme produced a wholesome effect on the minds of the convicts, for they seem to have remained quiet during the rest of the voyage. A different tale is told by the records in the Home Office of a similar conspiracy which took place a few years previously. The ship Mercury, bound to America with one hundred and seventy convicts on board, was seized by them; the captain and his officers were put in irons "after a very bloody resistance, in which many of the convicts were wounded"; but the men having brought the ship into Torbay, their career was very soon closed. "They hoisted out the boat, and about sixty went on shore, armed; a second attempt to land was made by the remainder next morning; but the captain and his people, having got free from their chains", and obtained assistance from a King's ship, immediately secured them.

It was not until the ship cast anchor in the harbour of Santa Cruz in the Isle of Teneriffe, on the 3rd June, that Phillip had an opportunity of seeing the whole of the people committed to his charge. He found them quiet and contented, but noticed some "compleat villains" among them. During their stay in port, they shared with the crews and marines the good things provided for them, in the shape of fresh meat, vegetables, and fruit, for the purpose of protecting them against attacks of scurvy. While here, Phillip wrote a letter to Lord Sydney, in which he mentioned the singular fact discovered after they had set sail, that the marines had been sent to sea without any supply of "musquet balls", or even paper for making "musquet cartridges." It was fortunate that the convicts did not make the same discovery while they were at sea.

I have the honor to inform your lordship that I anchored here the 3rd inst. with his Majesty's ship under my command, the Supply, tender, store-ships, and transports.

By the enclosed list your lordship will see that the convicts are not so sickly as when we sailed, and while we remain here the Commissary will be able to procure them fresh meat at a very moderate expense.

I understood when the marines who were to form the garrison were embarked that they would be furnished with ammunition, but since we sailed find that they were only supplied with what was necessary for immediate service while in port, and we have neither musquet balls nor paper for musquet cartridges, nor have we any armourers' tools to keep small arms in repair.

I am therefore to request that your lordship will be pleased to give orders that those articles may be sent out by the first ship, and for which, as well as for the women's cloathing that was left behind, we shall be much distressed. I hope the transports will be able to compleat their water by the 9th, and shall not lose an hour after that is done.

He wrote at the same time to Nepean:—

I have the pleasure of informing you that I anchored here the 3rd, late in the evening, and by the returns made to Lord Sydney you will see that the convicts are in a better state than when we sailed.

The procuring fresh meat being absolutely necessary, and wishing that it would be done with as little expense to Government as possible, I have ordered bread to be issued to the marines and convicts from the store-ships, for it could not be got here but at a very high price. The butter intended for the use of the garrison will be good for very little, and much wasted before we land from being in single firkins. A proportion of butter I have therefore ordered also to be served while we remain here, and by which means the marines and convicts will have fresh provisions at a less expense to Government (including the value of the biscuit and butter) than if they had continued on salt provisions.

As we have sailed without either musquet cartridges for the use of the garrison, or paper or ball to make them, we shall have none but what little the Sirius can supply. This I have mentioned in my letter to Lord Sydney. Nor have we any tools to keep the small arms in repair, the want of which will put us to many inconveniences.

In my letter by the Hyæna I mentioned the apprehensions the officers of the Scarborough were under, and tho' I did not think they had reason to be seriously alarmed, as some of the convicts had behaved very ill, two of the supposed ringleaders were ordered on board the Sirius, punished, and then sent on board the Prince of Wales, where they still remain. In general the convicts have behaved well. I saw them all yesterday for the first time; they are quiet and contented, tho' there are amongst them some compleat villains.

I shall sail the moment the transports have compleated their water, and hope that will be done by Saturday or Sunday. The Spanish packet that sails this afternoon gives me this opportunity of writing, and I shall leave duplicate to be forwarded by the next conveyance, as it will be a very considerable time after this before I shall have an opportunity of writing again.

As the store-ships cannot receive any more wine for the garrison, spirits will be procured for them at Rio de Janeiro.

The next port at which they touched was that of Rio de Janeiro, where they anchored on the 6th August and remained till the 4th September. The time was pleasantly spent by the English officers, the Viceroy insisting on showing his guests every possible mark of attention—Phillip being accorded the same honours as himself. He had not forgotten that Phillip had served for some time in the Portuguese navy during the war with Spain, and as the Englishman could speak the Portuguese language freely, their intercourse was free from the usual difficulties experienced by foreigners. The reception met with at Rio forms a striking contrast with the treatment to which Captain Cook was subjected during his stay in the same port, in November, 1768. No person on board his ship was allowed to land, except himself, and he was attended by an officer wherever he went—a distinction he would gladly have dispensed with. {1}

The letters written at Rio say very little about the hospitalities shown by the Viceroy, but they give very minute details about matters connected with the fleet and the people on board. The first letter to Lord Sydney was a short one:—

Having sailed from Teneriffe the 10th of June, I anchored off this harbour the 5th of this month, of which I had the honor of informing your lordship by a ship that past us, and the 6th, in the evening, anchored in the harbour with the tender, store-ships, and transports.

I inclose returns of the detachment and of the convicts, who, as well as the officers and seamen belonging to the ships, continue very healthy.

In my letter to Mr. Nepean I have mentioned particulars respecting the provisions, spirits, &c., procured here, and I have the honor of assuring your lordship that every little assistance we have wanted in this port has been most readily granted by the Vice-King, and to whom I feel myself under particular obligations for the attention he has shown to me and the officers under my command.

The convicts have been very plentifully supplied with fresh provisions, and that at a small expense, 3¾d. a head per day, all expenses included. The allowance of meat to the convicts has been 20 oz. every day, and they are much healthier than when we left England. Only fifteen convicts and one marine's child have died since we left Spithead.

This was followed by a longer communication, chiefly remarkable for its reference to the purchase of rum at Rio. Even Phillip's sagacity did not enable him to foresee the dangerous consequences likely to follow from its use in the settlement, and he made his purchase of "one hundred and fifteen pipes of rum" with as little suspicion as if it had been so much small beer. Captain Tench informs us that the Portuguese at Rio had not "learnt the art of making palatable rum", the quantity purchased being "very ill-flavoured."

By my letters of the 5th and 10th of June from Santa Cruz, I had the honor of informing you of the impossibility of receiving any wine on board for the use of the garrison, that the marines and convicts received six days' fresh provisions, and that the Commissary had drawn for £76 1s. 9d., the expenses at that port. I likewise mentioned the slops for the women not being sent down before we sailed, and the want of musquet balls and paper cartridges for the use of the garrison, as likewise tools to keep the small arms in repair; those articles will, I hope, be sent out in the ship that goes for the bread-fruit.

The Provost-Martial having remained in England, I recommended Mr. Henry Brewer as a proper person to fill that post, and I shall order him to do the duty till I receive instructions on that head.

With respect to the women's cloathing, it was made of very slight materials, much too small, and in general came to pieces in a few weeks. If materials are sent out, it will be much cheaper to Government, and the cloathes will be better made.

As few vegetables could be procured at Santa Cruz, I should have stopped for twenty-four hours at Port Praya, {2} but when off that port light airs of wind and a strong current making it probable some of the ships might not get in, I did not think it prudent to attempt it.

We anchored off Rio Janeiro the 5th of this month, of which I had an opportunity of informing you by a ship that passed us, and the 6th, in the evening, got into the harbour with the Supply tender, store-ships, and transports.

I have the pleasure of saying that every assistance we have wanted in this port has been most readily granted.

One hundred and fifteen pipes of rum has been purchased for the use of the garrison, when landed, and for the use of the detachment at this port.

The marines and convicts have had fresh provisions since in port, and as I found at Teneriffe that ¾ lb. of beef was not sufficient for a convict for the day, and that no butter or cheese could be procured here, the beef being exceedingly good and very cheap, I ordered each person victualled by the Commissary 1¼ lb. of beef and 1 lb. of rice, and to the children of the marines and convicts ¾ lb. of meat and 1 lb. of rice, with vegetables each day.

The marines and their wives have had the usual quantity of spirits. The allowance for the convicts when at sea being so small was the reason I ordered them, while in port, the same allowance as the officers and men belonging to the garrison, spirits excepted. The victualling all these, who are under the inspection of the Commissary, including fixing and every other expense, amounts to no more than 3¾d. a head per day.

Wine is not to be bought at present but from those who retail it, there being none in store, consequently is dearer than in general, and the rum on our coming in, there being little in the place, rose more than 25 per cent.

One hundred sacks of casava {3} have been purchased, which will be issued to the convicts when the bread is expended, and will be cheaper to Government; it costs only 5s. 87/8d., and the sacks, being of strong Russia, will be used hereafter in cloathing the convicts many of whom are nearly naked.

As the Vice-King offered anything the King's stores furnished that might be wanted, ten thousand musquet balls have been purchased from the arsenal, the Sirius not being able to supply the garrison with a sufficient quantity to serve till ball might be sent from England.

Before we sailed from Portsmouth two medicine-chests were fitted for the transports that had none, and at Teneriffe soap was bought to repay what the convicts had received before we sailed from England from the marines. These articles and some few others were too trifling to draw for on the Treasury, and were paid by me.

Some expenses have now attended the procuring seeds and plants that could not be purchased, and it will be necessary to satisfy those people whose store we have occupied with some tents that have been damaged and sent on shore to air, and where we have had officers and men since we have been here, with the timekeeper and the necessary instruments to determine its rate of going; as likewise the captain of the port, with his boat's crew, who, the day we came in, attended to give any assistance the transports might want, we then having only a light air of wind, and this I do, having refused the paying the customary fees which are paid by their own merchants' ships as well as strangers. It is £3 12s. on coming in, the same on going out, and 5s. 6d. a day while they remain at anchor in the port. This was demanded for the transports, but never insisted on after I had said it could not be paid, as the ships had King's stores on board. And as these articles are such as do not permit vouchers, I have not thought it right to order the Commissary to pay them, but have drawn on the Treasury for £135, which will be sufficient for the whole. It is little more than half the sum which must have been paid for the store, had it been hired.

With respect to the convicts, they have been all allowed the liberty of the deck in the day, and many of them during the night, which has kept them much healthier than could have been expected.

It has been necessary, that the store-ships might receive the spirits, to move part of the provisions from them into the transports, and I am sorry to say that, what with some of the provisions being in very slight casks, and very little attention having been paid to the stowage, we have had much trouble in moving the casks, and some tents and slops that were only in wrappers were damaged. I fear many articles will be destroyed before they are landed, and which it is not now possible to prevent.

I have been able to procure all such fruit and plants as I think likely to thrive on the coast of New South Wales, particularly the coffee, indigo, cotton, and cochineal.

In a letter written at Rio to Nepean, Phillip referred to an official reception at the Viceroy's palace, but made no attempt to describe the ceremonies:—

The 21st being the Prince of Portugal's birthday, and the Vice-King receiving the compliments of all the officers, I waited on him with those I had presented to him on our arrival. The Sirius fired twenty-one guns, having the flag of Portugal hoisted at the fore-topmast, and the Union at the mizen. He seemed much pleased with this compliment, and we part perfectly satisfied with each other.

Three slight shocks of an earthquake have been felt at Trinidad, where the Portuguese still keep a small garrison.

Surgeon White has left us a pretty account of a reception at the palace, on the occasion of Phillip's final visit {4}:—

On our landing, the same officer who had attended us upon every other public occasion conducted us to the presence-chamber. As we passed, every military and public honour was paid to the Commodore; the colours were laid at his feet, as they hitherto had been whenever he landed in his public character; a token of respect that is never bestowed on any person but the Governor himself. When we arrived at the palace, an officer of the household, who was waiting to receive us, conducted us through a most delightful recess, hung round with bird-cages, whose inhabitants seemed to vie with each other both in the melody of their notes and the beauty of their plumage. The passage we walked through was adorned on each side with odoriferous flowers and aromatic shrubs; which, while they charmed the eye, spread a delightful fragrance around. This passage led to a private room, on the outside of the door of which we were received by the Viceroy, who stood uncovered, and noticed each person separately in the most friendly and polite manner. His excellency preceded us into the room, and having requested all of us to be seated, placed himself by the Commodore in a position that fronted us. In return for oar thanks, he said, "it gave him infinite pleasure and satisfaction to find that the place had afforded us the supplies we stood in need of." To this he added that "the attention of the inhabitants, which we were good enough to notice, was much short of his wishes." "We then arose and took our leave; but not before his excellency had expressed a desire of hearing from the Commodore, with an account of his success in the establishment of the new colony.

A final letter was written to Nepean on the 3rd September—the day before the fleet sailed from Rio. Phillip had every reason to be satisfied with the attentions paid to him and his officers during their stay there, which evidently formed a very pleasant break in the long voyage. Everything had gone well so far; but his letters show the extreme anxiety with which he scrutinised every detail connected with the health of his people.

I have been prevented sailing this morning from the accounts being not yet finally settled—that is, the vouchers not yet sent off. I sail to-morrow, and at the Cape shall have more time, for here, as the only one that understands the language, I have been obliged to be linguist and commissary. By the master of the Sirius you will have some private as well as public letters, and by a ship going to Lisbon you will receive this and copies of my public letters sent by the master; who, as he met with his accident in doing his duty on board the ship, will, I hope, get some little provision.

I have told you in one of my letters how far the Vice-King (the same who was here when I past for India) has carried his politeness, and that tho' I desired much to be received here as the captain of the Sirius only, and for which I had particular reason, he refused my request, and gave it out in orders that I received the same honor as himself, that is, as Captain-General. This has prevented my having any house on shore, and that for obvious reasons.

I have endeavored to explain to Mr. Rose why I have drawn on the Treasury for £135. The little matters paid by me when the ships were at Portsmouth, and the expenses here in procuring seeds and plants that are not publicly sold, could not be paid for by the Commissary. To have hired a store and the island would have been more than the whole sum. The things have been grants as favours, but returns expected, and I made them first at my own expense, till I found I was £100 out of pocket, and then thought that Government had not been so very liberal to me as to make it necessary to pay such a compliment.

If I can preserve the seeds and plants procured here, I shall be very indifferent about those articles at the Cape. Sir Joseph Banks will receive from the master a small box that contains some plants he was very anxious to procure.

The rams are in good health, and my breeding sows, as well as the ladies, seem well calculated for the end proposed.

I intend making a very short stay at the Cape, as the ships are now in much better order than when they left England.

The last letter written on the voyage out was addressed to Nepean from the Cape of Good Hope, undated. The fleet had anchored in Table Bay on the 13th October, and remained there till the 12th of the following month. Mynheer Von Graaffe, the Dutch Governor of the Cape, did not pay such attentions to his visitors as the Viceroy of the Brazils had done; but they were supplied with provisions for the fleet, as well as the plants and live stock required for the colony.

You will please to inform the Right Hon. the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty that I sailed from Rio Janeiro the 4th of September and anchored here the 13th of October with the ships under my command. Having immediately on my arrival requested permission to procure refreshments and such provisions as were wanted for her Majesty's ship Sirius and Supply tender, I was informed that, the crops of corn having failed the year before last, the inhabitants had been reduced to the greatest distress, and that I could not be permitted to purchase any flour or bread. I, however, obtained an order for three days' bread for all the ships; and as I found on inquiry that the last year's crops had been very good, I requested, by letter to the Governor and Council, permission to purchase what provisions were wanted for the Sirius and Supply, as likewise corn for seed, and what was necessary for the live stock intended to be embarked at this place. The three days granted for the bread being expired, leave was given for three days longer, and which permission was afterwards continued till the 23rd, when I received an answer from the Council, who had taken that time to deliberate on my letter of the 15th, granting permission to receive bread daily for the use of the ships while we remained in this port, and the same evening I received a letter from the Governor granting all my demands.

Our passage from Rio de Janeiro was very favourable. The number of sick on our arrival here was twenty marines and ninety-three convicts. The Sirius and Supply had only eight sick on board, and as all the ships were very amply supplied with soft bread, vegetables, and fresh meat, I did not think it necessary to land any of the sick. Their lordships will see by the returns that there are very few sick at present.

We are now ready for sea. What live cattle the ships can stow are now getting on board, with such grain and seeds as was wanted, and I shall sail immediately. The remaining so long before I could obtain leave to procure the necessaries we wanted has detained me longer in this port than I wished, but it will, I hope, be the means of keeping the people in health for the rest of the passage.

While at the Cape, Phillip availed himself of every opportunity for the purpose of procuring the plants and seed required for his farming operations. "As it was earnestly wished to introduce the fruits of the Cape into the new settlement. Captain Phillip was ably assisted in his endeavours to procure the rarest and the best of every species, both in plant and seed, by the King's botanist." {5} The collection made, both at the Cape and at Rio, included almost every kind of useful plant considered likely to thrive in the new country. With most of them Phillip's expectations were fully realised from the first; but it took time and experience to learn that the coffee, cocoa, cotton, and banana plants, collected at Rio, required a rather more tropical climate than that of Botany Bay. Nor were the ipecacuanha and jalap plants, laid in at Rio, destined to take any place in the list of exports from the colony; but the orange, lime, and lemon trees obtained there made ample amends for failure in other directions. {6} The selection made at the Cape proved an unqualified success; the plants included the vine, quince, apple, pear, and strawberry, with the oak, myrtle, and fig trees, the bamboo and the sugar-cane, as well as grain seed of every kind.

Sheep, cattle, and horses were also obtained at the Cape, but the selection was not made with anything like the care devoted to the plants. All the stock taken on board on public account were—one stallion, three mares, three colts, two bulls, six cows, forty-four sheep, four goats, and twenty-eight hogs. {7} Phillip and the officers of the marines made private purchases on their own account, but, as Captain Tench informs us, their original intentions on this head were materially affected by the prices they were asked to pay. This consideration probably deterred Phillip from making a larger investment than he did; but the list of his purchases seems painfully economical when compared with the extent and nature of the territory for which the stock was intended. With all his confidence in the future of the colony, no idea of its capabilities for stock-breeding ever entered his mind. The one fact which ultimately more than satisfied all his predictions never oven occurred to him; and hence it was that he sailed away from the Cape to the greatest pastoral country in the world with a few head of cattle and sheep, barely sufficient to stock the farm of an ordinary settler.


{1} {return}

"As soon as I took leave of his excellency, I found an officer who hail orders to attend me wherever I went; of this I desired an explanation, I and was told that it was meant as a compliment; I earnestly desired to be excused from accepting such an honour, but the good Viceroy would by no means suffer it to be dispensed with."—Hawkesworth, vol. ii, p. 20.

{2} {return}

In the Island of St. Jago, one of the Cape de Verde group. Captain Cook touched at it during his second expedition in August, 1772, and describes the place in the account of his voyage.

{3} {return}

Casava, or cassada, is the root of a shrub, in its crude state highly poisonous; but by washing, pressure, and evaporation, it was deprived of its harmful qualities, and when made into cakes, became a good substitute for bread. It was largely used in the tropical islands.—Phillip's Voyage, p. 33.

{4} {return}

Journal, p. 53.

{5} {return}

Collins, p. xxvii.

{6} {return}

Bennett, Gatherings of a Naturalist, p. 306—"The Orange-tree in Australia."

{7} {return}

Hunter, p. 31; Collins, p. xxvii; Tench, p. 38. Phillip purchase J upwards of seventy sheep on his own and on Government account, of which one only was alive when he wrote his despatch on the 28th September, 1788; post, p. 343.


THE fact that Phillip's expedition attracted very little public attention in England is one of the most striking circumstances connected with it. Measured by its results, it may be said to have been one of the greatest events in English history during the eighteenth century, just as Sir Walter Raleigh's attempts to colonise North America formed one of the greatest events of the sixteenth; but few except Phillip seem to have formed any conception of its real importance. The Ministers who organised it and carried it into execution introduced it to the notice of Parliament simply as a plan for the disposal of felons and the relief of gaols. No one in the House of Commons had much to say about it. Lord Sydney claimed no credit for it. Pitt never made any reference to it. Burke, whose sympathy with the American colonists had been so strongly moved for many years previously, and who, beyond all his contemporaries, had learned to appreciate the importance of the colonies, was silent upon the subject. He touched the skirts of it, so to speak, in 1785, when he pleaded for some merciful consideration towards the unfortunate people who were then awaiting transportation, crowded together in the gaols to the number of 100,000. The swampy coasts of Africa were then supposed to be their destination. It was understood that the Government had some design of establishing Convict settlements in that part of the world, notwithstanding its known unhealthiness; and probably Burke's protest against any such project, which he pronounced inhuman, had some share in its ultimate abandonment. There can be no doubt that "the idea of colonising Africa with felons", to which he alluded, had assumed some shape, however indefinite, in the minds of Ministers. The despatch of the Nautilus to the African coast, to which Lord Sydney referred in the letter already quoted, is sufficient evidence on that point. The ship was sent on the recommendation of a Committee of the House of Commons, to "explore the southern coast of Africa in order to find out an eligible situation for the reception of convicts, where, from their industry, they might soon be likely to obtain means of subsistence"—in other words, to become self-supporting. In pursuance of these instructions, the eastern coast was carefully explored from Port Mozambique to the southern borders of Kaffirland; but the report brought back by the Nautilus was so unfavourable—the coast being pronounced "unfit for settlements"—that the scheme was immediately abandoned. The Government then fell back on the proposals made for colonising New South Wales.

The silence which prevailed in Parliament with respect to the Expedition was not owing to the existence of far more important events, such as wars abroad or disturbances at home. It was a year of profound peace in England. The long and disastrous struggles in which the country had been engaged for many years previously had been brought to an end shortly before. The war with the American colonies, which began in 1775, was finally closed in 1783; and the contest with France and her allies, Spain and Holland, was brought to an end in the same year. For ten years afterwards England lived at peace with her neighbours, until the great war of the French Revolution broke out. There was no foreign complication, therefore, to distract the national attention while Sydney and his colleagues were maturing their plans for the establishment of a new colony in the southern hemisphere; and even supposing that all proposals of the kind had become absolutely distasteful to the British public by reason of their bitter experience in North America, it is difficult to find a reasonable explanation of the profound indifference with which the Expedition of 1787 was regarded in political circles. It did not occur to the most far-sighted statesmen of the day that a new empire might date its history from the day on which Commodore Phillip's fleet should furl its sails in Botany Bay. There was no Canning to rise in the House of Commons and declare that he had called into existence a new world in order to redress the balance of the old. If we turn to the political history of the time, in order to ascertain the momentous questions which absorbed the attention of Parliament, there is nothing that can be placed in comparison, as a matter of historical importance, with the colonisation of New South Wales.

The great subjects of parliamentary discussion at that time have all faded more or less in to oblivion; even the speeches of the most renowned orators of the day awake but a languid interest in the reader. Perhaps no questions gave rise to greater excitement in political and social circles during the year 1787 than those which turned on the rumoured marriage of the Prince of Wales—afterwards George the Fourth—with Mrs. Fitzherbert, and the payment of his Royal Highnesses debts. Public interest became intense when Fox made his celebrated declaration on "direct authority", that the alleged marriage "not only never could have happened legally, but never did happen in any way whatever." This sensation, however, had hardly subsided than another took its place, when it became known that the marriage had really happened after all, and that the great orator had been painfully duped by his princely friend. Such were the absorbing topics of discussion in the month of April, 1787; now, they barely deserve a place in the history of the nation. During Phillip's last days in England before the departure of the Fleet, Burke, Fox, and Sheridan were addressing the House from day to day on "the articles of charge against Mr. Hastings." On the 10th of May, Burke's motion "that the said W. Hastings, esquire, be impeached of High Crimes and Misdemeanors", having been carried, the majority of the Commons immediately attended Mr. Burke to the bar of the House of Peers, where he solemnly impeached Mr. Hastings accordingly. On the following day he reported to the House that he had been to the bar of the House of Lords in obedience to their commands, The great and there, in the name of the House of Commons and of all the Commons of Great Britain, impeached Warren Hastings, esquire, of High Crimes and Misdemeanors. {1} The ex-governor of Bengal then succeeded the Prince of Wales as the centre of attraction in English politics; Mrs. Fitzherbert and her marriage ceased to monopolise the conversation of society, and the approaching trial before the Peers was looked upon as one of the monumental events of English history.

That was the great sensation of the day; and in the midst of all the excitement it occasioned the Sirius and her convoy set sail for their destination without the faintest demonstration of public interest in the matter. It was not even recognised as a national event in the historical records of the time. The comprehensive summary of contemporary history originated by Burke, and known as the Annual Register, made no mention of it in its chronicle of passing events. {2} Strangely enough, the indifference with which it was regarded at the time seems to have influenced later historians to such an extent that they have all apparently agreed to ignore it. Massey's History of the Reign of George the Third, for instance—a work professedly written "to illustrate not only the Political and the Military but the Social History of England" during that period—does not contain the slightest reference to it; and yet Massey wrote as late as 1863. A history of the reign of Elizabeth, or of the reign of James the First, which should make no mention of the attempts to colonise North America, would certainly not be considered either a complete or a philosophical one; but all the histories that have been written of the times of George the Third may be searched in vain for a sketch of Captain Phillip or an account of the First Fleet. Had it been a secret expedition against a Spanish outpost or a French colony, it would no doubt have been watched with the liveliest interest, and its movements would have figured conspicuously in the annals of the time; but being nothing more than a colonising movement, there seems to have been little in it either to attract the notice or touch the sympathies of the nation. {3}


{1} {return}

Parliamentary History for 1787, vol. xxvi, p. 1147. The trial began in the following year, lasted for seven years, and ended in a verdict of acquittal.

{2} {return}

Post, p. 466.

{3} {return}

Lecky's History of England in the Eighteenth Century—a much more philosophic production than Massey's—disposes of the whole subject in the following sentence:—"The same energy which showed itself in reckless and distempered speculation showed itself also in commercial enterprise; the discoveries of Captain Cook extended the horizon of the world, and in New Zealand and Australia he founded colonies which already contain a far greater English population than the American colonies at the time of their separation, and which seem likely to play a great and most beneficent part in the history of mankind."—Vol. vi, p. 187.

1.10 SIR JOSEPH BANKS. [1787-1810]

THERE were one or two sections of society, no doubt, which may be supposed to have taken some active interest in the movement. Cook's First Voyage of Discovery, written by Hawkesworth and published in 1773, had made a deep impression on the scientific mind at the time, and the feeling was revived when it became known that the Government had determined to occupy the territory which the celebrated seaman had explored on the east coast of New Holland. The only living man of note who had any personal knowledge of the country was Sir Joseph Banks, to whom the nation was indebted for all that it cared to hear about New South Wales. It was from his "accurate and circumstantial journal of the voyage", {1} we may believe, that Hawkesworth wrote his pretty descriptions of the meadows and lawns of Botany Bay, the beautiful wild flowers, the birds of exquisite plumage, the delightful climate, the kangaroo and the turtle, the Indians fishing in their canoes, and the various incidents which the explorers met with on their excursions inland. Sir Joseph was President of the Royal Society, the most enthusiastic patron of science known in English history, in great favour with George the Third, and a man of unbounded influence with the Government throughout the active portion of his life. "He it was," wrote Lord Brougham, speaking from his personal knowledge of the man, "who may be truly said to have planted and founded the colony of Botany Bay." {2} If he was not the planter and founder of the colony, he might be fairly described as its patron saint. He was consulted by Lord Sydney before the Cabinet had resolved to send a out an expedition, and it was on his recommendation that the bay was fixed upon as "the site of the new intended settlement." For many years afterwards and through many changes of administration, his advice was sought on every matter of importance connected with the colony. The collection of letters and other documents which he left behind him at his death, known as the Brabourne {3} papers. contains abundant evidence of the anxious interest he continued to feel in the progress of the settlement. Every one connected with it seemed to know that Sir Joseph was the proper person to communicate with when anything required to be done at head-quarters. Many striking instances might be quoted from his correspondence; but the following will be sufficient for the purpose.

Sir Joseph Banks

The Rev. Samuel Marsden, who came out to the colony in 1794 and who combined farming and wool-growing with his missionary labours, wishing to obtain "some of the choicest fruits we have not got, and also two good English rams", wrote him from Sydney, on April 27th, 1803, and began by saying:—

Honoured sir,—I flatter myself you will excuse the liberty I bare taken in addressing these few lines to you. Tho' I have not the honour of any personal knowledge of you, yet, sir, from your known ardent wish to promote the good of the colony, I have presumed to trouble you with this sheet.

Another correspondent, William Wilson, captain of merchant ship, writing from Monument Yard on June 24th, 1806, mentioned that when he commanded a ship six years previously he had sailed to New South Wales, and had visited the island of Otaheite on three occasions:—

By these voyages I have learnt that both the islanders there, and the colonists of New South Wales, justly look up to you as the patron and promoter of their prosperity.

And in a memorial which Wilson enclosed, praying for relief against the arbitrary action of the East India Company in seizing a ship and cargo of seal skins and oil from the colony, he said:—

The colony of New South Wales and its dependencies, daily rising in importance to the mother country, the inhabitants, many of whom have never forfeited one priviledge of British subjects, look homeward with anxiety for encouragement to the industry which is excited among them. In their remote situation, solicitude for a conservator of their rights and a promoter of their welfare naturally directs their attention to you, honourable sir, who from the circumstance of your assent to the settlement being made, it is hoped will, by a continuance of support, not only be instrumental in rendering the colonists comfortable in a great degree among themselves, but even be the means of carrying civilisation and all the blessings connected with it to the thousands of islanders in their neighbourhood.

In many letters written by Matthew Flinders in 1801 on board H.M.S. Investigator at Sheerness, before his departure on the voyage which made him famous, the writer poured out his thanks to Sir Joseph for all that he had already done on his behalf. Flinders seems to have consulted him on every point connected with his expedition, especially when it was necessary to stir up the Navy and Victualling Boards, or to approach the Lords of the Admiralty for some special concession. And when mentioning that he had at last received his commission, he added that he felt himself entirely indebted to Sir Joseph's influence and kindness for it. In other letters, written from the Isle of France in 1804-5-6-7, when poor Flinders was kept in close confinement as a State prisoner by the French Governor de Caen, he appealed to "my patron", Sir Joseph, for assistance in his calamity.

Another unfortunate officer in the navy figures prominently among his correspondents. One of the earliest letters in the collection is from William Bligh, the celebrated lieutenant of the Bounty. It is dated August 6th, 1787, and confirms Brougham's statement that it was Sir Joseph "who suggested the means of transplanting the bread-fruit tree from the South Sea Islands to the West Indies." Bligh wrote immediately after his arrival in London:—

I arrived yesterday from Jamaica, and should instantly have paid my respects to you had not Mr. Campbell told me you were not to return from the country until Thursday. I have heard the flattering news of your great goodness to me, intending to honor me with the command of the vessel which you propose to go to the South Seas.

This letter is followed by a series of other communications from Bligh, written in the same strain. One of the most remarkable is dated from Timor, June 14th, 1789—two days after he had arrived there—enclosing a narrative of the mutiny among the sailors of the Bounty, and of his voyage in the open boat to Timor. "I have not given so full an account to the Admiralty", he says. The correspondence was continued for many years afterwards, including the period during which he was Governor of New South Wales. In one of his letters, dated 30th June, 1808, he gave his patron a lengthy "account of the Rebellion" headed by Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston. On both these occasions Bligh's first thought evidently was to place Sir Joseph Banks in possession of the facts of his case; reporting events to him with as much minuteness as if he had been writing a despatch to the official head of his department. His unfortunate history for twenty years reveals itself with curious distinctness in the discoloured but still legible sheets, of paper preserved by his friend.

There was no point of resemblance between Flinders and Bligh as regards personal character; but each of them was a victim of unexpected disaster, and each showed the same attachment to Sir Joseph Banks. It is curious to observe how they both turned instantly and hopefully to him when misfortune overtook them, as if they felt instinctively that either his hand must help them, or none at all.

These are memorable instances of the singular influence exercised by Sir Joseph with respect to men and matters connected with New South Wales. A remarkable illustration of his fatherly interest in it may be found in a draft letter written by him to the Secretary of the Treasury in June, 1798. The necessity for exploring the interior of the colony with a view to the development of its resources had evidently occupied his attention; and in the course of his letter he sketched out a plan for the purpose, in which he seems to have felt great confidence. He began by pointing out how much this matter had been neglected:—

We have now possessed the country of New South Wales more than ten years; and so much has the discovery of the interior been neglected that no one article has hitherto been discovered, by the importation of which the mother country can receive any degree of return for the cost of founding and hitherto maintaining the colony.

A country so extensive must possess a large river system and raw material of some kind:—

It is impossible to conceive that such a body of land, as large as all Europe, does not produce vast rivers capable of being navigated into the heart of the interior; or that, if properly investigated, such a country, situate in a most fruitful climate, should not produce some native raw material of importance to such a manufacturing country as England is.

A celebrated traveller had just arrived in England, fresh from the work of exploration:—

Mr Mungo Park, {4} lately returned from a journey in Africa, where he penetrated farther into the inland than any European before has done, by several hundred miles, and discovered an immense navigable river running westward, which offers the means of penetrating into the centre of that vast continent, ... offers himself as a volunteer to be employed in exploring the interior of New Holland, by its rivers or otherwise, as may in the event be found most expedient.

His character and qualifications were beyond question:—

His moral character is unblemished, his temper mild, and his patience inexhaustible, as he has proved during his African expedition. He is sufficiently versed in astronomy to make and to calculate observations to determine both latitude and longitude; he knows geography enough to construct a map of the countries he may visit; draws a little; has a competent knowledge of botany and zoology; and has been educated in the medical line.

He is very moderate in his terms; he will be contented with 10s. a day and his rations, and happy if his pay is settled at 12s. The amount of his outfit for instruments, arms, presents, &c., will not, I think, exceed £100, He will want a decked vessel of about thirty tons, under the command of a lieutenant, with orders to follow his advice in all matters of exploring. Such a vessel may easily be built in the colony, if the one already there, which is found to have very bad qualities as a sea boat, cannot be made sufficiently trustworthy; and Lieutenant Flinders, a countryman of mine, a man of activity and information, who is already there, will, I am sure, be happy if he is entrusted with the command, and will enter into the spirit of his orders, and agree perfectly with Park.

The crew of such a vessel need not, in my opinion, consist of more than ten men—four for boat-keepers and six to proceed in the country with one or both the commanders, as may happen, when the land journies are to be attempted.

In the event of this project being carried into execution. Sir Joseph expressed his readiness to draw up instructions for the parties and to correspond with them during the execution of their plans, under the superintendence of the Treasury—"such hopes have I of material discoveries being made, and such zeal do I feel for the prospects of a colony in the founding of which I bore a considerable share."

This proposal, however, does not seem to have met with any acceptance at the hands of the Government, who were probably too much occupied with the war in which they were then engaged with France to think of fitting out exploring expeditions to New South Wales. Had the suggestion been adopted, it may well be supposed that, although Mungo Park's idea of exploring the interior by sailing up large navigable rivers might not have been realised, he and Flinders together could hardly have failed to anticipate some of the discoveries made in later years. But the plan was more feasible on paper than it would have been found in practice. In that respect it resembles a proposal made by Flinders to Sir Joseph Banks, in a letter written from Wilhelm's Plains in the Isle of France, March 20th, 1806:—

Should a peace speedily arrive, and their lordships of the Admiralty wish to have the N.W. coast of Australia examined immediately, I will be ready to embark on any ship provided for the service that they may chuse to send out. My misfortunes have not abated my ardour in the service of science. . . .
With five or six asses to carry provisions (and they can be procured here), expeditions might be made into the interior of Australia from the head of the Gulph of Carpentaria in 18°, and from the head of the Great Gulph on the south coast in 32°, until the courses should nearly meet: five hundred miles each way would most probably be sufficient, since the country does not appear to be mountainous; a view of my general chart will exemplify this. In case of being again sent to Australia, I should much wish that this was a part of my instructions.

Perhaps it was a fortunate thing for Flinders that his the project for exploring the interior "with five or six asses to carry provisions" was not adopted, or the world might have lost his subsequent contributions to geographical science. But although the idea of exploring Australia in that fashion may provoke a smile, a somewhat similar one was not unsuccessful in later years. When Captain Grey set out from Hanover Bay in 1837 on his exploring tour in the north-west, he took with him twenty-six ponies, for which he had sent to Timor. Although they were "very small and perfectly wild", they proved useful, if they did not exactly answer the purpose. {5}

Sir Joseph was never tired of expressing his conviction as to the great future which lay before the colony; nor was his confidence in it ever shaken, even in the darkest hours of its early years. Among the many expressions of his opinion on the subject to be found in his correspondence, the following passages in letters to Governor Hunter, written in 1797 and 1799, deserve attention:—

The climate and soil are, in my own opinion, superior to most which have yet been settled by Europeans. I have always maintained that assertion, grounded on my own experience, but have been uniformly contradicted, except by Governor Phillip, till your last favors have taken away all doubts from the minds of those who have been permitted to peruse them.

Your colony is already a most valuable appendage to Great Britain, and I flatter myself we shall, before long, see her Ministers made sensible of its real value. Rest assured in the meantime that no opportunity will be lost by me of impressing them with just ideas of the probable importance to which it is likely before long to attain, and to urge them to pay it that degree of attention which it clearly deserves at their hands.

He was writing in a time of gloom and disaster in Europe, and naturally turned his eyes to the star rising in the southern sky:—

I see the future prospect of empire and dominion which now cannot be disappointed. Who knows but England may revive in New South Wales when it has sunk in Europe?


{1} {return}

Hawkesworth, introduction, vol. ii, p. xiii.

{2} {return}

Lives of Philosophers of the Time of King George the Third. Mr. George Suttor, in a short memoir of Sir Joseph Banks written from personal knowledge and published at Parramatta in 1855, said:—"The establishment of our colony at Botany Bay originated entirely with Sir Joseph Banks."

{3} {return}

The collection would be more correctly styled the "Sir Joseph Banks Papers." They came into the possession of Lord Brabourne through his connection with Sir Joseph. Lord Brabourne is the great grandson of Sir Edward Knatchbull, whose wife was a sister of Lady Banks, a daughter of William Weston Hugessen. His lordship was raised to the peerage in 1880. The collection was purchased from him by Sir Saul Samuel, Agent-General for the colony.

{4} {return}

Mungo Park was sent out to Africa in 1795 on his first exploring expedition by the African Association, on the recommendation of Sir Joseph Banks, a prominent member of the committee. He returned to England in December, 1797. His second expedition to that country, on which he set out in December, 1803, was undertaken at the request of the Government and proved fatal to him.

{5} {return}

The gradual development of the art of exploration is an interesting feature in its history. For means of carriage our first explorers, when they left the rivers, had to depend on their own backs; then came the pack-horse, the bullock-team, the dray and cart, with boats for river work, and lastly camels. Oxley, in 1817, travelled with boats and bullock-teams; Sturt, in 1828, relied on bullock-teams and pack-horses; Mitchell started on his expedition of 1835 with two boats carried on a boat-carriage, seven carts drawn by bullocks, and seven pack-horses; Eyre set out in 1840 with drays and pack-horses; Leichhardt, in 1844, travelled with eight bullocks carrying pack-saddles; in 1847 he took with him one hundred and eighty sheep, two hundred and seventy goats, forty bullocks, fifteen horses, and thirteen mules; while Burke and Wills, in 1860, travelled in unprecedented pomp with twenty-seven camels, led by sepoys, with waggons and pack-horses bringing up the rear.


WHO it was that originally applied the name Australia to the land once known to geographers, incorrectly, as Terra Australis, and afterwards as New Holland, has been a standing subject of discussion for many years. When Phillip was sent out on his colonising expedition, the word Australia was certainly not in common use. The whole of the territory included within the limits of his Commission was known as New South Wales; the rest of the continent still retaining the title given by the Dutchmen to that portion of it which they claimed by virtue of discovery. {1} It was not till many years afterwards that these names gave place to that of Australia as the designation of the whole continent. Flinders has been generally credited with the selection, or at least with the first public application of the word, in his Voyage to Terra Australis, published in 1814, in which he wrote:—

Had I permitted myself any innovation upon the original term. Terra Australis, it would have been to convert it into Australia, as being more agreeable to the ear and an assimilation to the names of the other great portions of the earth.

The collection of charts published with the narrative of his voyage contains a preliminary one entitled—"General Chart of Terra Australis, or Australia." This chart having necessarily come into the hands of navigators and geographers, it may be supposed that the name applied to the country by Flinders was gradually adopted by them in the first instance, and so met with general acceptation. The change of name suggested by him seems to have been effected during the ten years which succeeded the publication of his work. {2} But it would not be correct to say that he was the first geographer to make use of the word. He had seen it in Dalrymple's Collection of Voyages in the South Pacific {3}—a work which, comprising, as it did, all the geographical knowledge on the subject at that time, was certainly well known to Flinders. The author was a great authority on geography during the period in which he wrote—a fact sufficiently shown by his appointment as hydrographer to the Admiralty. In the introduction to his Collection of Voyages, alluding to the different divisions of his work adopted by de Brosses in his Histoire des Navigations aux Terres Australes, Dalrymple said:—

I have inserted another head of partition, AUSTRALIA, comprehending the discoveries at a distance from America to the eastward.

Under this title he classified "all the lands and islands to the eastward of South America." The idea was probably suggested by the name Austral-Asia, applied by de Brosses' to the discoveries in the South Pacific, exclusive of those to which he had given the names Magellanica and Polynesia. {4} As de Brosses may be fairly credited with the authorship of the term Australasia, there seems equal reason for attributing to Dalrymple the definite application of the name Australia to this country, although he gave a much more extended meaning to it in his work than we do now. The Histoire was published in 1756, fourteen years before Dalrymple's work appeared; consequently the two publications were in the hands of every French and English geographer of the time. That Flinders was well acquainted with the writings of the English geographer is evident from his work; he quotes in his introduction, for instance, a paper translated by Dalrymple, of which he says that it "furnishes more regular and authentic accounts of the early Dutch discoveries in the East than anything with which the public was before acquainted." The paper referred to was "a copy of the instructions to Commodore Abel Jansz Tasman for his second voyage of discovery", which had been procured from the Dutch explorers, authorities by Sir Joseph Banks.

Although Flinders expressed his appreciation of the name which soon afterwards became an established title in geography, it is singular that he should have rejected it in favour of the old term Terra Australis. That he did so, 1787 and after mature consideration of the matter, is clear from his own words:—

It is necessary to geographical precision that so soon as New Holland and New South Wales were known to form one land, there should be a general name applicable to the whole; and this essential point having been established in the present voyage with a degree of certainty sufficient to authorise the measure, I have, with the concurrence of opinions entitled to deference, ventured upon the re-adoption of the original Terra Australis; and of this term I shall hereafter make use when speaking of New Holland and New South Wales in a collective sense; and when using it in the most extended signification, the adjacent isles, including that of Van Diemen's Land, must be understood to be comprehended.

This attempt to revive Terra Australis as the designation of the continent was not destined to succeed; on the contrary, the name seems to have wholly disappeared at the very time when it was expected to become popular again. It might be supposed that a practical seaman like Flinders would have been the last to adopt a suggestion which could only find favour among the pedantic geographers of his day, whose attention was concentrated on the mere history of discovery in the South Sea. Historical continuity was no doubt in favour of the old classical phrase; but as soon as the navigation of the Pacific became a mercantile speculation rather than a voyage of discovery, the question of terminology had to be settled by shipowners and their captains, whose necessities would require a more appropriate name than either Terra Australis or New Holland. The admirable charts constructed by Flinders of course superseded the old ones, from which geographers and navigators alike had previously derived their information respecting the Great South Land. Each of his charts was entitled— "Chart of Terra Australis", excepting the preliminary one, which, as already mentioned, was termed—"General Chart of Terra Australis, or Australia." The Narrative of his Voyage, too, was described on the title-page of his work as a Voyage to Terra Australis. Thus he made it clear that, notwithstanding his personal preference for Australia, he had finally settled in his own mind the name which the country was to bear in future times.

It may be said, no doubt, that if Flinders was not the first to apply the term Australia to this continent, neither was Dalrymple; seeing he found the original form of the word—Austrialia—in a memorial presented by de Quiros to the King of Spain, which appeared in a work well-known to geographers—Purchas, His Pilgrimes, published in 1625. The word Australia is substituted for Austrialia in a note appended to this memorial, entitled—"a note of Australia del Espiritu Santo, written by Master Hakluyt." {5} The memorial was also translated and published by Dalrymple in his Collection of Voyages, and consequently he had the indirect authority of de Quiros for applying the name of Australia to all the lands and islands to the eastward of South America. The land discovered by the Portuguese navigator was named by him la Austrialia del Espiritu Santo, {6} which Dalrymple translated "The Australia del Espiritu Santo"—a curious compound of English and Spanish. The literal rendering of the title would be— "The Southern Land of the Holy Spirit"; and in substituting "The Australia" for "The Southern Land", Dalrymple was apparently exercising his own judgment in the selection of an appropriate name. But de Quiros, again, was not in any sense the originator of the name in question; he did nothing more than translate the old Latin term into Spanish, just as the French geographers rendered it into their language in the shape of La Terre Australe. One of the earliest records in which that title can be found is an old French map—"faicte à Argues par Pierre Descelliers, pbre: (présbytere) Jan: 1550"—in which a conjectural outline of the Great South Land is named La Terre Australle. {7} The derivation of Australia from the old Latin, French, and Spanish names is so obvious that it would be useless to discuss the question of its authorship. The most rational supposition is that it came into vogue in much the same manner as the word America derived its existence from Amerigo—by a species of spontaneous generation. The distinction of authorship cannot be claimed either for Flinders, Dalrymple, de Quiros, or any other geographer in whose writings it may have appeared; but undoubtedly the publication in 1814 of the chart in which Flinders distinctly gave this name to the continent, may be said to have been mainly instrumental in fixing its place finally in our geography. {8}

New Holland

As there is no reason for supposing that the name Australia came into general use before 1820, it is clear that in Phillip's days it was to all intents and purposes unknown. New South Wales for the territory he was sent to govern, and New Holland for the rest of the continent, were the only names with which he could have been acquainted. Even if we suppose that he had met with the word Australia in Dalrymple's pages, he could not officially recognise any other names than those which he found on the charts which had been placed in his hands. Practically there was but one chart—that which had been constructed by Captain Cook while exploring the eastern coast from Point Hicks to Cape York. The rest of the continent was known only through the imperfect charts which had been made up from the voyages of the Dutch navigators and Dampier. How imperfect those charts were may be seen at a glance by comparing the map of New Holland, published by Stockdale in 1787, {9} with a map of Australia at the present time. The straits which separated the coast-line of New Holland from that of Van Diemen's Land had not been discovered, and the latter was consequently regarded as forming part of the mainland. Phillip's jurisdiction was supposed to stretch in an unbroken line from the South Cape to Cape York; and even the configuration of the southern coast, including that of Van Diemen's Land, was a matter of conjecture.


{1} {return}

"The original name, used by the Dutch themselves until some time after Tasman's second voyage in 1644, was Terra Australis or Great South Land; and when it was displaced by New Holland, the new term was applied only to the parts lying westward of a meridian line passing through Arnheim's Land on the north, and near the Isles of St. Francis and St. Peter on the south; all to the eastward, including the shores of the Gulph of Carpentaria, still remained as Terra Australis."—Flinders, Introduction, p. ii.

{2} {return}

In the first edition of his Description of the Colony, published in 1819, Wentworth referred to it simply as situated on the east coast of New Holland; but in the third edition, published in 1824, he added, that "the most eminent modern geographers have given to it the very appropriate name of Australia." The change of name would seem to have taken place between those dates. O'Hara's History of New South Wales, the first edition of which appeared in 1817, and the second in 1818, made no mention of Australia in either, using the old name only. As it may be assumed that neither O'Hara nor Wentworth would have overlooked a point of so much interest as the adoption of a new name for the territory, had it occurred previously to the time when they compiled their works, the change may be said to date from about 1820. See note, p. 92.

{3} {return}

An Historical Collection of the several Voyages and Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean, by Alexander Dalrymple, Esq., London, 1770. In his work on the Early Voyages to Terra Australis, now called Australia, published by the Hakluyt Society in 1859, the author, R. H. Major, speaks of Dalrymple as one "to whom, perhaps next to Hakluyt, this country is the most largely indebted for its commercial prosperity." According to the introduction to Cook's Third Voyage, it was owing to "the great sagacity and extensive reading of Mr. Dalrymple" that Torres' track through the straits named after him was brought to light, the geographer having pointed it out in his Chart of Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean before 1764. Dalrymple was born in 1737 and died in 1808. Among his numerous productions was an anonymous pamphlet, published in 1786, in which he attacked the proposal to found a colony at Botany Bay; post, p. 468.

{4} {return}

Captain Sturt, alluding in the preface to his Two Expeditions, 1833, to the change of name from New Holland to Australia which had taken place "of late years", said:—"The change was, I believe, introduced by the celebrated French geographer, Malte Brun, who, in his division of the globe, gave the appellation of Austral-asia and Polynesia to the new discovered lands in the Southern Ocean." So far from introducing the name in question, Malte Brun endeavoured to suppress it in favour of his own invention—Oceanica:—"The fifth part of the world will be called Oceanica, and its inhabitants Oceanians; names which will supersede the unmeaning or inaccurate designations of Australasia, Notasia, Austral India, and Australia." Nor was it Malte Brun, but de Brosses, who introduced the names of Australasia and Polynesia. The first volume of the Geographie Universelle appeared in 1810.

{5} {return}

Purchas, vol. iv, p. 1427-1432.

{6} {return}

He is supposed to have given this name for two reasons; first, because Philip the Third, King of Spain, was head of the House of Austria; and secondly, because possession of the country had been taken on the King's birthday, the festival of the Holy Spirit. Austrialia was therefore a distinctly different word from Australia. The eastern coast of New Holland, previous to the time of Cook's discoveries, was known on the maps by the name given by de Quiros. In the Carte Générale, published in 1756 by de Brosses with his Histoire des Navigations, the eastern coast is marked Terre du St. Esprit, and a point on the coast is termed Manicolo, The New Hebrides had not then been explored, and geographers had generally accepted de Quiros' assertion that he had discovered the veritable Terra Australis. Captain Cook, when sailing off Cape Tribulation, in June, 1770, wrote:—"We were now near the latitude assigned to the islands which were discovered by Quiros, and which some geographers, for what reason I know not, have thought fit to join to this land." For many years after Cook's time, de Quiros was looked upon as the first discoverer of the country. Wentworth, in his Account of the British Settlements in Austral-asia, 1824, wrote:—"New Holland is said to have been discovered by the Spanish captain, Don Pedro Fernando de Quiros, in 1609"; although in the first edition of his work the discovery was attributed to the Dutch in 1616. He had either not read, or had forgotten, the summary of Australian discovery given by Flinders in the introduction to his Voyage, p. viii, in which the claim of de Quiros to the discovery in question takes its proper place.

{7} {return}

The original map is in the British Museum, but fac-similes of it were obtained for the Public Libraries of Sydney. Melbourne, and Adelaide. In another map of the same period, attributed to John Rotz, hydrographer, 1542, an outline of a large southern island is named the Londe of Java. A curious resemblance between some of the names marked op this map of Jave la Grande and those given by Captain Cook to his discoveries, formed the subject of some animated discussions among the geographers, reviewed by Major in his Early Voyages to Terra Australis.

Captain Burney also remarked the resemblance in his History of the Discoveries in the South Sea, 1803, vol. i, p. 381:—"The coast here (of Jave la Grande) has nearly the same direction with the corresponding part of New Holland, but is continued far to the south; and by a very extraordinary coincidence, immediately beyond the latitude of 30 degrees, the country is named Coste des herbaiges, answering in climate and in name to Botany Bay. The many instances of similitude to the present charts, which are to be found in the general outline of this land, it is not easy to imagine were produced solely by chance."

These maps formed the subject of an interesting Paper read by J. H. Maiden, Esq., F.L.S., F.R.G.S., Curator of the Technological Museum at Sydney, before the New South Wales branch of the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia, on the 26th August, 1886; and published in the Transactions of the Society, vol. iv, p. 91.

{8} {return}

"In a despatch to Lord Bathurst, of April 4th, 1817, Governor Macquarie acknowledges the receipt of Captain Flinders' charts of 'Australia'. This is the first time that the name of Australia appears to have been officially employed. The Governor underlines the word. He states that it was in pursuance of his lordship's despatch of April 18th, 1816, that the expedition for prosecuting the discoveries recently made to the westward of the Blue Mountains has been fitted out; and, in a private letter to Mr. Secretary Goulburn, M.P., of December 21st, 1817, says, speaking of the expedition which had sailed that very morning for the west coast of Australia:—Lieutenant King expects to be absent from Port Jackson between eight and nine months; and, I trust, in that time, will be able to make very important additions to the geographical knowledge already acquired of the continent of Australia; which, I hope, will be the name given to this country in future, instead of the very erroneous and misapplied name hitherto given to it of New Holland, which, properly speaking, only applies to part of this immense continent."—Labilliere's Early History of Victoria, p. 184.

The natives of Australia are referred to by de Brosses, Histoire, p. 17, as les Australiens; but he does not apply the name to the country. So also in a French work of fiction—Les Avantures de Jacques Sadeur, published in Geneva in 1676—the savages are described as les Australiens, but the corresponding name is not applied to the country; although in the English translation it is applied. This work, which was published in 1693, appears to be the second English publication in which the name Australia can be found. In Callander's translation, from de Brosses, of "Gonneville's Voyage to Australasia", the word "Australians" is used as equivalent to les Austraux.

In Bayle's Dictionary, the first edition of which appeared in 1710, the word "Australia" occurs three times in note [G], art. Sadeur. "Lastly, the relations of voyages being very much in vogue at that time, he compleated his works by his Australia, as he calls it." The country was not called Australia in Sadeur, but la Terre Australe. Bayle also speaks of "the Australians" in note [D].

It may be mentioned here that Captain Cook, under date 13 August, 1770, speaks of "the islands which were discovered by Quiros, and called Australia del Espiritu Santo", The name Australia was consequently not unknown to Cook.

In the introduction to Cook's Third Voyage, published in 1784, the writer asks, p. xiii,—"Who has not heard, or read, of the boasted Tierra Australia del Espiritu Santo of Quiros?"

The following passage occurs in a work on the Zoology of New Holland, published by Dr. George Shaw in 1794 (p. 2):—

"The vast island or rather continent of Australia, Australasia, or New Holland, which has so lately attracted the particular attention of European navigators and naturalists, seems to abound in scenes of peculiar wildness and sterility."

The terms GREATER AUSTRALIA and LESSER AUSTRALIA are employed in a chart of the Missionary Ship Duff's voyage in 1796-7-8, to distinguish those countries of the Pacific Ocean which lie southward of the tropics. The Voyage was published in 1799.

And in the "Chart of the islands discovered in the South Sea to the year 1620", prefixed to vol. ii of Burney's History of the Voyages and Discoveries in the South Sea (1806), the islands discovered by de Quiros are marked "AUSTRALIA del Espiritu Santo";—that name being used frequently by the same author in his account of the voyage of de Quiros, pp. 299-320; see also Appendix No. II.

{9} {return}

The History of New Holland, from its first discovery in 1616 to the present time, with a particular account of its produce and inhabitants; and a description of Botany Bay. London, 1787.

Some interesting communications on the antiquities of Australian geography will be found in Notes and Queries, 7th series, under the title "Australia and the Ancients"; see i, pp. 408, 492; ii, pp. 36, 97; v, p. 356.

1.12 PHILLIP AND HIS WORK. [1788-1792]

THERE are few materials of much interest in the present day—if we except his letters and despatches from Sydney Cove—for a biography of Arthur Phillip. The scanty details of his career prior to the expedition of 1787 that have come down to us represent him as a naval officer of merit, but without many opportunities for distinction. {1} He held the rank of a post-captain in the Navy when appointed Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief of the new colony. But although Lord Howe was unable to see any special qualifications in Captain Phillip for such a command, {1} the event proved that the great admiral's judgment was as much at fault in that instance as it was when he expressed his doubts about the prospects of a settlement in New South Wales. Phillip's career in the colony showed that he possessed in full measure the qualifications required for the position in which he was placed. Had it been otherwise, he could not have shown the readiness of resource he did under the unexampled difficulties by which he was surrounded from first to last. But for his unwearied attention to every detail connected with the despatch of the First Fleet, it is not probable that the voyage would have met with the remarkable success which attended it. We have only to contrast it with that of the Second Fleet in 1790 in order to see how easily the whole expedition might have been wrecked—not by storm and tempest, but by mere neglect of duty. Making every allowance for favourable winds and weather while at sea, it must still be admitted that nothing but the anxious precautions taken by Phillip in England and on his way out could have enabled him to bring his ships into harbour, after an eight-months' voyage through unknown seas, without having met with disaster in any shape, either to the ships or the people on hoard them. Surgeon White, the medical officer in charge of the settlement, recorded his feelings as he saw the ships at anchor in Botany Bay:—

To see all the ships safe in their destined port, without ever having by any accident been one hour separated, and all the people in as good health as could be expected or hoped for, after so long a voyage, was a sight truly pleasing, and at which every heart must rejoice. {2}

Arthur Phillip

Another authority was equally emphatic:—

Thus, after a passage of exactly thirty-six weeks from Portsmouth, we happily effected our arduous undertaking, with such a train of unexampled blessings as hardly ever attended a fleet in a like predicament Of two hundred and twelve marines we lost only one, and of seven hundred and seventy-five convicts put on board in England but twenty-four perished in our route. {3}

Judge-Advocate Collins, too, with judicial precision and solemnity of statement, summed up the case in these terms:—

Thus, under the blessing of God, was happily completed in eight months and one week a voyage which, before it was undertaken, the mind hardly dared venture to contemplate, and on which it was impossible to reflect without some apprehension as to its termination. This fortunate completion of it, however, afforded even to ourselves as much matter of surprise as of general satisfaction; for in the above space of time we had sailed 5,021 leagues, had touched at the American and African continents, and had at last rested within a few days' sail of the antipodes of our native country, without meeting with any accident in a fleet of eleven sail, nine of which were merchantmen that had never before sailed in that distant and imperfectly explored ocean.

And when it is considered that there was on board a large body of convicts, many of whom were embarked in a very sickly state, we might be deemed peculiarly fortunate that, of the whole number of all descriptions of persons coming to form the new settlement, only thirty-two had died since their leaving England, among whom were to be included one or two deaths by accidents; although previous to our departure it was generally conjectured that before we should have been a month at sea, one of the transports would have been converted into an hospital ship. But it fortunately happened otherwise; and the spirits visible in every eye were to be ascribed to the general joy and satisfaction which immediately took place on finding ourselves arrived at that port which had been so much and so long the theme of our conversations.

There was every reason, indeed, for rejoicing, when the history of the Second Fleet is borne in mind. But the Judge-Advocate did not show much acumen when he ascribed this singular good fortune entirely to the refreshments at Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope, and "the excellent quality of the provisions" with which the ships were supplied by the contractor in England. Provisions alone would not have brought the fleet into Port Jackson with so much cause for congratulation. {4} It was owing to the provident care and foresight of its chief that the expedition met with unexpected good fortune at every stage; just as the success achieved by Captain Cook in his voyages was due rather to his own skill and good management than to the mere equipment of his vessels. {5}

We have only to trace the history of Phillip's administration in order to see the same characteristics attended generally by similar results. From his landing at Botany Bay to his departure from the colony, he displayed all the energy, decision, and good sense which the manifold difficulties of his position seemed to require. The sound judgment shown in his selection of a site for the new settlement relieved it at once from the imminent risk of failure which would have hung over it, had he blindly followed his instructions and pitched his tents on the shores of Botany Bay. No spot on the coast of New South Wales was better adapted for the purpose than Sydney Cove {6} when Phillip first saw it; it remains to this day, and will always remain, the central point of Australian settlement. How much the fate of other colonies has been affected by well or ill-chosen sites for their capital cities, there is evidence enough in their history to show. {7} The selection of Sydney Cove seemed natural and easy enough, no doubt, after it had once been made; but the judgment shown in picking it out at a first glance might be compared with that of a victorious general in time of war, who takes up his position on the field and wins his battle. It is in acts of this description that the leaders of men show their capability for command; and undoubtedly Phillip gave good proof of his capacity in this instance.

But no sooner had Phillip overcome the preliminary obstacles in his way than he was called upon to encounter the still greater difficulties which beset his path from day to day. He stood in a wilderness, of which he knew nothing, but which he was called upon to subdue with the aid of the most unpromising materials that could have been placed in his hands. He had to lay the foundation of a colony which, as he felt, would in the future prove to be the foundation of an empire; {8} to establish the machinery of a civil government; to provide for the administration of justice; to explore the territory inland and along the coast; to discover and develop its native resources; to secure friendly relations with the aboriginals by whom he was surrounded; and to govern, a community largely composed of the worst elements of society. Such wore his functions as Governor of the territory; but he had a still harder task to perform. He had to face the results of the cruel negligence which left the settlement without any regular supply of provisions for long intervals of time, during which the people under his charge were threatened with a lingering death. That was by far the most trying as well as the most important of his many duties; but it was done, and neither in that nor in any other instance did he seek any credit for his work.

It would be absurd to claim anything like genius for Phillip, for there is nothing to indicate that he possessed Letters and any of the higher forms of intellectual power. His letters and despatches show him to have been a man of ordinary education, and without any pretension to scientific or literary attainments. But every line he has written is full of interest for us at the present day; although the reader must be prepared to make large allowances in the matter of grammar and spelling, while there is not even a suspicion of style about his compositions. Perhaps they are all the more interesting on that account, because there is evidently nothing artificial or theatrical about them. There is no diplomacy in his language; he says exactly what he thinks, and says it in the very words he might have used in conversation. The result is that his despatches have all the force of an original narrative, and the story he tells is as well told as we need wish it to be. If we compare his writings with the polished editions of them published in such works as Phillip's Voyage and other compilations of the same kind, we feel at once how much they have lost in point of liveliness and truth to nature. The story, for instance, told by himself of his interviews with the natives at Broken Bay, is quite a different piece of work from the same story re-written with editorial point and precision of language. {9}

A naval officer who had been at sea from the age of sixteen could hardly be expected to distinguish himself outside the ordinary work of his profession. Although it is correct to say that Phillip "raised himself by his merit and his services to distinction and command". he cannot be well classed with Drake, Dampier, or Cook, seeing that he never had the opportunities for acquiring such distinction as fell to their lot. They were men who achieved renown by exploits which have made their names historical, but Phillip's performances were of a much less ambitious type. Yet, placed in the position in which he found himself, it is difficult to see how he could have done more than he did. He accomplished his task successfully, so far as success was attainable with the limited means at his command. Although he was not embarrassed with the bitter local questions which so often disturbed his successors' peace of mind, he had problems to solve which tried his temper and taxed his resources; and the fact that he succeeded in solving them one after another must be placed to his credit in estimating his character as a ruler. "The policy of the Government", in his day, consisted mainly in finding something to eat. At the distance of a hundred years, it is not easy to realise the situation in which he was so often placed when, by the non-arrival of expected supplies from England, the little settlement at Sydney Cove was absolutely in danger of starvation. Infant colonies had been left to perish from want of food in other parts of the world, {10} and on more than one occasion it seemed probable enough that Phillip's efforts to found a colony would have met with the same fate. Had he been improvident or neglectful in his administration, disastrous consequences might have happened; but by the prudent handling of his resources from day to day, he contrived to avert each impending calamity, and the colony prospered.

There is some satisfaction in relieving his memory from a charge which has been unjustly laid to it. He has been held responsible for the extreme severity with which criminal offences of all kinds were punished during his term of office, as if it rested with him to prescribe the sentence in every case as well as to sanction its execution. It has been freely insinuated, too, that he must be held responsible for the severity which continued to mark the administration of the criminal law in this colony long after he had disappeared from the scene; as if his successors had merely continued a system which he had established. One writer says of him:—"His punishments were not frequent, but prompt and terrible." {11} The punishments inflicted on criminals during his time were certainly prompt and terrible, but they were not his; they were inflicted by the Criminal Court, composed of six officers and the Judge-Advocate. That Court was practically a Court-martial; and although it was supposed to administer justice "according to the laws of England", it did so after a strictly military fashion. When we read, for instance, that "Joseph Hunt, a soldier in the detachment, having been found absent from his post when stationed as a centinel, was tried by a Court-martial and sentenced to receive seven hundred lashes", {12} we have a key to the whole system which prevailed in Phillip's time. But personally he had nothing more to do with it, so far as the infliction of punishment was concerned, than the Governor of the present day has to do with the sentences passed on prisoners in the Criminal Courts. The frequent occurrence of such "prompt and terrible punishments" in the first years of the settlement has naturally, perhaps, created an impression that they were the work of a cruel temper inflamed by the consciousness of arbitrary power. So far, however, from that being the case, there is no difficulty in showing that Phillip's disposition was not by any means a cruel one. {13} Many instances might be given of his leniency. When, for instance, he was attacked and wounded by a native with a spear he made no attempt to retaliate; but as soon as he had recovered from the wound, he visited the natives in order to show them that "no animosity was retained on account of the late accident, nor resentment harboured against any but the actual perpetrator of the act." {14} His power to pardon, reprieve, and remit sentences was freely exercised. Of six convicts sentenced to death at the second sitting of the Criminal Court one was pardoned and four reprieved, the latter being "afterwards exiled to a small island within the bay, where they were kept on bread and water." A King's birthday was always accompanied with a release of prisoners. {15}

His own opinion was that hanging is not the most effective punishment, simply because it does not deter men of criminal tendencies from committing crime. In the "memo." in which he jotted down his ideas about the government of the projected colony, he anticipated the question of capital punishment as applied to the convicts, expressing himself strongly against it: "Death, I think, will never be necessary". There were only two crimes which would merit death, in his opinion; and for either of them he would substitute exile to some "cruel island in the far-off sea", as a far more potent deterrent than the hangman's rope, check. Whether he was altogether serious in his proposal to confine the criminal in such cases "till an opportunity offered of delivering him as a prisoner to the natives of New Zealand and let them eat him", may be doubted; at any rate he did not ask for legislative powers to that effect. {16} Perhaps it was intended as a jocular suggestion from the quarter-deck, as the best-known method of instilling fear into the minds of hardened offenders. Among sailors of the old school, no punishment was more dreaded than that of being left ashore in an unknown country, with the prospect of being either eaten by savages or condemned to lead a savage life among them. {17} Had the matter rested entirely in Phillip's discretion, he would have substituted exile for death in extreme cases, not for the purpose of condemning the criminal to be devoured by cannibals, but in order that he might endure the prolonged suffering inseparable from isolation, and at the same time do some service to the State by forming connections among the natives, with the view of Diplomatic reconciling them to the presence of Europeans in their country. The five men whom he reprieved in the first month of his administration he had determined to exile to that part of the territory then known as the South Cape, {18} but that intention was never carried out, probably because, having no means of sending them there, he sent them to Norfolk Island instead; or perhaps to the "small rocky island near the entrance of the cove" officially called Rock Island, but known among the convicts as Pinchgut—from the bread and water which formed their rations when sent there. Speaking in his memo, of the relations which might arise between the convicts and the native women, he said:—

I should think it necessary to punish with severity the man who used the women ill; and I know of no punishment likely to answer the purpose of deterring others so well as exiling them to a distant spot, or to an island.

That was clearly his idea of a really effective punishment. But it was no part of his functions as a Governor to prescribe pains and penalties for offences within the jurisdiction of the Criminal Court. That was a matter in which he could not interfere, otherwise than by exorcising the prerogative of mercy. Nor is there much reason to believe that Phillip had any more faith in the lash as a means of correction than he had in the gallows. His experience in the navy must have made him only too familiar with the custom of flogging, seamen in his days being ruthlessly flogged for petty broaches of naval discipline. The same practice prevailed in the army. Under any circumstances it was, perhaps, inevitable that a Court composed of military and naval men should use the lash as a convenient means of punishment. Any other form of correction for minor offences was hardly known to men of that time. There was no gaol or place of detention for prisoners in the colony; imprisonment, moreover, meant loss of labour; and even if the letter of the law had left the members of the Court to the exercise of their own discretion in the choice of penalties the lash would necessarily, under such circumstances, have taken the place of imprisonment. {19}

Nor the least noticeable feature in Phillip's character is the spirit of self-denial manifested by him throughout the trying times in which he ruled. Most, if not all, of those around him were loud in their complaints against the country; but he appears to have been so confident in its future that the privations he had to undergo made little impression on him. Chief in the ranks of the discontented stood Major Ross, commanding officer of the marines and Lieutenant-Governor of the colony. It was apparently his ambition from the first to find every possible occasion for embarrassing Phillip in the discharge of his duties. Perhaps the Major's outbreaks may be accounted for in some measure by his personal grievances, which were set out at length in a letter to Nepean, written from Sydney Cove in July, 1788. {20} It presents a curious contrast, in tone and temper, with the letters written by Phillip; for while the Major's abounds in petty complaints, the Governor's are absolutely silent with respect to everything in the shape of personal inconvenience. Yet it is certain that he had to bear his full share of the cruel privations which were endured by everyone in the settlement at that time; and whether he bore them patiently or not, there is nothing to show that he ever uttered a murmur on his own account. Whatever complaint he had to make was directed to the remedy of some public grievance—certainly not to any grievance of his own. If he was silent on the subject of his own troubles, he was equally reserved with respect to the sacrifices he felt called upon to make in the public interest. Had it not been recorded by Collins, nothing would have been known in the present day of the self-denial he displayed when, at a time of scarcity fast approaching to famine, he surrendered his own small supplies to the public stock:—

The Governor, from a motive that did him immortal honour, gave up three hundred-weight of flour, which was his excellency's private property, declaring that he wished not to see anything more at his table than the ration which was received in common from the public store, without any distinction of persons; and to this resolution he rigidly adhered, wishing that if a convict complained, he might see that want was not unfelt even at Government House. {21}

While this was the spirit in which Phillip met the privations he had to encounter, the Lieutenant-Governor found time to write a letter of complaint to England, in which the Governor was represented as offensively arbitrary and inconsiderate, subjecting the officers of the garrison to unnecessary hardships and indignities, apparently for no other purpose than that of swelling his own importance at their expense:—

I believe there never was a set of people so much upon the parrish as this garrison is; and what little we want, even to a single nail, we must not send to the Commissary for it, but must apply to his excellency; and when we do, he allways sayes—"there is but little come out",—and of course it is but little we get, and what we are obliged to take as a mark of favor.

There were other officers attached to the establishment who had complaints to make on their own account. One of them, for instance, wrote a letter to Sir Joseph Banks in November, 1788, in which he complained of the hardship he had undergone in having to cut thatch and wattles for his own hut, and concluded by assuring his friend that although he might have "a flattering public account" he need not rely upon it; adding that "every gentleman here, two or three excepted, concurs with me in opinion, and sincerely wish that the expedition may be recalled." Surgeon White, whose Journal is scrupulously free from any remarks calculated to prejudice the colony in the eyes of the British public, described it in a subsequent letter to Sir Joseph Banks as "a country and place so forbidden and so hateful as only to merit execration and curses." {22} He was not the only one who held that opinion; Major Ross, in a letter to Nepean, said he did not "scruple to pronounce that in the whole world there is not a worse country than what we have yet seen of this." {22}

Phillip seems to have stood almost alone in his disregard of present privations and his confidence in the future of the country. The grievances which appeared so unendurable to the men who surrounded him, he spoke of as "the little difficultys we have met with, which time and proper people for cultivating the land will remove." The spirit in which he had settled down to his work may be judged from the assurance he gave Lord Sydney while in the midst of his troubles:—

Anxious to render a very essential service to my country by the establishment of a colony which, from its situation, must hereafter be a valuable acquisition to Great Britain, no perseverance will be wanting on my part, and which consideration alone would make amends for the being surrounded by the most infamous of mankind. Time will remove all difficulties. As to myself, I am satisfied to remain as long as my services are wanted; I am serving my country, and serving the cause of humanity.


{1} {return}

Post, p, 495.

{2} {return}

Journal, p. 114.

{3} {return}

Tench, Narrative, p. 46.

{4} {return}

Captain Tench was not quite so pleased with the provisions:—"When the reader is told that some of the necessary articles allowed to ships on a common passage to the West Indies were withheld from us; that portable soup, wheat, and pickled vegetables were not allowed; and that an inadequate quantity of essence of malt was the only anti-scorbutic supplied, his surprise will redouble at the result of the voyage."—Narrative, p. 46.

{5} {return}

Sir Joseph Banks, in a letter dated August 16, 1791, addressed to Mr. Richards, the contractor, said:—"It appears clear, however, from the remarkable healthyness of the crews that went out with Governor Phillip, and from the as remarkable unhealthyness of some transports that have arrived since, that the good sense and personal attention of the commanders to enforce cleanliness and order among these unfortunate people is the principal cause of the success with which they can be carried out. Government is always ready to allow the necessary expense, but not always able to find out proper people to take charge of the ships."

{6} {return}

"Had that river (the Hawkesbury) and its fertile banks been discovered before the establishment at Sydney Cove had proceeded too far to remove it, how eligible a place would it have been for the principal settlement!"—Collins, p. 540.

{7} {return}

Lieutenant-Governor Collins abandoned Port Phillip as unfit for settlement in 1803, and removed his establishment to the banks of the river Derwent in Tasmania. It is not probable that such a mistake would have been made by Phillip. Nor would he have had any difficulty in determining the question as to the best site for a settlement on the South Australian coast. The first settlers on that territory occupied Kangaroo Island, but Colonel Light, the surveyor sent out by the Home Government in 1836, removed the settlement to the plain on which Adelaide now stands. When Governor Hindmarsh arrived some months afterwards he condemned the site, and proposed to remove the settlement to Encounter Bay. The contention on this point lasted for over a year, and was not settled until the Home Government interfered by recalling the Governor and sending out another, who confirmed the action of the surveyor.

{8} {return}

None of his officers seemed to share his predictions as to the future of the settlement. Tench wrote:—"Speculators who may feel inclined to try their fortunes here will do well to weigh what I have said. If golden dreams of commerce and wealth flatter their imaginations, disappointment will follow; the remoteness of situation, productions of the country, and want of connection with other parts of the world, justify me in the assertion."—Narrative, p. 138. Collins did not permit himself to indulge in any dreams of a brilliant future. "As to its utility, besides the circumstance of its freeing the mother country from the depraved branches of her offspring, it may prove a valuable nursery to our East India possessions for soldiers and seamen."—Preface, p. ix. Hunter did not commit himself to any expression of opinion, beyond saying that if the Government should determine to persevere in establishing a settlement upon an extensive plan, it would be attended with considerable expense to the nation. It would be necessary to stock the country with cattle, and to find people to look after the cattle.—Journal, p. 202. He was so thoroughly practical that, although he surveyed Port Jackson, he had not a word to say for it as regards its attractions, his attention being apparently absorbed by the natives whom he met along its shores. Surgeon White records that when Phillip returned to Botany Bay from his first visit to Port Jackson, he and his friends were "full of praises on the extent and excellence of the harbour." And his own impression is thus stated:—"Port Jackson I believe to be, without exception, the finest harbour in the universe, and at the same time the most secure." But he had nothing further to say in commendation of the country; on the contrary, he wrote a very depressing letter about it from Sydney Cove in April, 1790; post, p. 506.

{9} {return}

Compare Phillip's despatch, post, pp. 283-6, with the reproduction of it in Phillip's Voyage, pp. 76-84. Phillip might have offered the same excuse for his literary deficiencies that Captain Cook did, when, in concluding the introductory discourse to his Second Voyage, he desired the reader "to excuse the inaccuracies of style", and to recollect that "it is the production of a man who has not had the advantage of much school education, but who has been constantly at sea from his youth; and though, with the assistance of a few good friends, he has passed through all the stations belonging to a seaman, from an apprentice boy in the coal trade to a Post-Captain in the Royal Navy, he has had no opportunity of cultivating letters."

{10} {return}

Post, p. 514.

{11} {return}

Bennett, History of Australian Discovery and Colonisation, 1865, p. 169. The punishments inflicted by Phillip for disobedience of his General Orders were prompt, but not terrible. When, for instance, a party of convicts set out with the intention of avenging the death of a comrade, who had been killed by the natives, Phillip sentenced them to receive one hundred and fifty lashes each, and to wear a fetter for a twelve-month. Judged by the standard of that day, the punishment was a mild one; for there could not well have been a more aggravated case of insubordination. As Collins expressed it (p. 58), the men in question had "daringly and flagrantly broken through every order which had been given to prevent their interfering with the natives",—a matter of the highest importance in Phillip's eyes.

{12} {return}

Collins, p. 56.

{13} {return}

In Phillip's Voyage, p. 68, he is described as "intelligent, active, persevering, with firmness to make his authority respected, and mildness to render it pleasing." That was the opinion expressed of him in England; and a similar estimate seems to have been formed of his character by his critics in the colony. Collins, for instance (p. 72), speaking of the capture of Caesar—a notorious offender who had incurred the penalty of death—says that "the Governor, with the humanity that was always conspicuous in his exercise of the authority vested in him, directed that he should be sent to Garden Island, there to work in fetters; and in addition to his ration of provisions, he was to be supplied with vegetables from the garden." And West, in his History of Tasmania, vol. ii, p. 144, states that "the solicitude of Phillip (for the welfare of his people) was displayed in every form of kindness."

{14} {return}

Collins, p. 136.

{15} {return}

On the first celebration of the royal birthday at Sydney Cove, "the three convicts who had been sent to the rock, in the hope that lenity to them might operate also upon others, were on the occasion of his Majesty's birthday liberated from their chains and confinement, and his Excellency forgave the offences of which they had been respectively guilty."—Collins, p. 33. Another birthday was marked in the same manner. "And to make it a chearful day to every one, all offenders who had, for stealing Indian corn, been ordered to wear iron collars, were pardoned."—p. 165.

{16} {return}

He asked for power to exile simply, but it was not given. The only sentences provided for by the Act and Letters Patent constituting the Criminal Court were death and corporal punishment; post, pp. 455, 535.

{17} {return}

This practice was known as marooning, and was a common one among the buccaneers. Dampier relates that "while we lay here"—off the north-west coast of New Holland—"I did endeavour to persuade our men to go to some English factory; but was threatened to be turned ashore and left here for it. This made me desist."—Vol. i, p. 469.

{18} {return}

Phillip's despatch, post, p. 274. According to White, Journal, p. 128, three men were convicted on the 27th February, 1788, of "feloniously and fraudulently taking away from the public store beef and pease, the property of the Crown"; but one only was executed. They were all, "about 6 o'clock the same evening, taken to the fatal tree", but two "were respited until 6 o'clock the next evening. When that awful hour arrived, they were led to the place of execution, and just as they were on the point of ascending the ladder, the Judge-Advocate arrived with the Governor's pardon, on condition of their being banished to some uninhabited place. On the 29th, two men were convicted of stealing wine, and sentenced to death; but one being "an ignorant black youth was pardoned by the Governor, and the other, another black, "had his sentence of death, while at the gallows, changed to banishment." At a later period Norfolk Island was utilised for this purpose. A soldier condemned to death in September, 1789, for a rape on a child of eight years of age, having been recommended to mercy, was pardoned "on condition of his residing, during the term of his natural life, at Norfolk Island."—Collins, p. 80.

{19} {return}

"On the 26th May, 1788, a soldier and a sailor were tried by the Criminal Court of Judicature for assaulting and dangerously wounding James McNeal, a seaman. These people belonged to the Sirius, and were employed on the island where the ship's company had their garden"—hence called Garden Island—"the seamen in cultivating the ground and the soldier in protecting them, for which purpose he had his firelock with him. They all lived together in a hut that was built for them, and on the evening preceding the assault had received their week's allowance of spirits, with which they intoxicated themselves and quarrelled. They were found guilty of the assault, and as pecuniary damages were out of the question, were each sentenced to receive five hundred lashes."—Collins, p. 30.

{20} {return}

Post, p. 499.

{21} {return}

Collins, p. 108.

{22} {return}

Post, p. 507; p. 500.


NOT only had Phillip put on record his aversion to extreme measures in dealing with offenders, but he also indicated the course of action which he proposed to adopt for the purpose of ensuring order and good conduct among the people under his charge. In his despatches of the 9th July and 30th October, 1788, he speaks in feeling terms of "the little plan I had formed in the passage for the government of these people", which he had been obliged to give up on account of the stubborn disinclination of Major Ross to "interfere with the convicts"—as he put it. The little plan which had suggested itself to Phillip's mind as a better means for maintaining order than the frequent use of the lash, or even the gallows, was simply that the officers should use their personal influence among the men for the purpose of encouraging them in well-doing, whenever an opportunity might offer. The request he made of them soon after landing was as follows:—"That officers would, when they saw the convicts diligent, say a few words of encouragement to them; and that when they saw them idle, or met them straggling in the woods, they would threaten them with punishment." There was not much in this, as Phillip said, that "would degrade either the officer or the gentleman"; but the officers, acting under the Major's inspiration, did not look at it in that light. They were not concerned in promoting order and good conduct among the convicts. They were sent out on garrison duty; their official instructions were comprised in "a letter sent from the Admiralty to the Commanding Officers of Marines at Portsmouth and Plymouth"; they would govern themselves by that letter, and not by any requests they might receive from Governor Phillip. On these grounds they absolutely declined to "interfere with the convicts" in any way, even to the extent of giving an occasional word of encouragement to the diligent, or a caution to the idle; although, at the same time, they claimed a right to convict labour in the cultivation of their gardens. So punctilious were they with respect to the strict lines of their military duty, as they conceived it, that they thought "the being obliged to sit as members of the Criminal Court an hardship", because they were not paid for it. "They did not suppose that they were sent out to do more than garrison duty"; and they thought themselves "hardly dealt by in that Government had not determined what lands were to be given them." These demands were no doubt designed to bring pressure to bear upon Phillip, in order that he might obtain from the Home Government the concessions to which they considered themselves entitled. They thought they ought to have their grants of land immediately, as well as convict labour for its cultivation; and also that they ought to be paid for their services in the Criminal Court. Because he did not adopt their views on these points, they had no hesitation in giving him plainly to understand that they "declined the least interference with the convicts, unless when they are immediately employed for their own conveniency, or when they are called out at the head of their men."

Phillip thus found himself, soon after his arrival in the colony, in a position which every day threatened to bring him into collision with the head of the military force; and the attitude assumed by Major Ross was such as to leave very little hope of satisfactory relations being ever established between them. This was the beginning of the dissension between the civil and the military authorities which continued through succeeding administrations, and finally culminated in the deposition of Governor Bligh. It owed its origin to the absence of any instructions from the Home Government with respect to the exact position of the military force in relation to the Governor. The necessity for some such definition of duty did not present itself to the Government when the expedition was being organised; nor did it occur to Phillip, since there is no reference to it in his letters. Probably both he and Lord Sydney took it for granted that the Act of Parliament passed in 1787 rendered any special instructions from the Admiralty unnecessary. But they might have known that nothing, according to historical precedents, was more likely to happen under such circumstances than dissension between the two powers. The antagonism which grew up between Governor Phillip and Major Ross was but a reproduction, on a very small scale, of the violent struggles between the civil and military authorities which formed the prelude to many of the great revolutions recorded in history. That the difference between himself and the Major was not carried to violent extremes must be attributed to Phillip's tact, good temper, and self-control. He had provocation enough, had he been irritable and vindictive, to justify him in any steps he might have thought fit to take for the purpose of asserting his authority as Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief. But he wisely refrained from taking any steps of the kind, contenting himself with proper representations of the matter to the Secretary of State.

Major Ross was evidently disposed to act an aggressive part at every opportunity. Not satisfied with thwarting Phillip's good intentions with respect to the management of the convicts, he endeavoured to place still more serious obstructions in his path. He incited his officers to raise technical objections as to the Governor's power to summon them to attend the sittings of the Criminal Court. One {1} of them having declined to sit, Phillip appointed a Court of Inquiry to investigate the matter; but the only conclusion the Court could come to was, that they did not think themselves "competent to give an opinion on a private dispute, which appeared to them to involve in itself a point of law." He then proceeded to convene the Court in the usual way, but was again met by further objections from Major Ross. How the matter ended will be seen from Phillip's statement in his despatch:—

I had sent for several of the officers before the Court met, in order to point out the consequences which would follow their refusal of so essential a part of their duty; and the officers I saw on that occasion assured me that they had never doubted its being a part of their duty after they heard the Act of Parliament and the Commission read which established that Court; but Major Ross, on the 6th May, telling me that he was still of opinion that many of his officers did not think the sitting as members of the Criminal Court any part of their duty, I desired that he would assemble the officers, that their separate opinions might be taken on that head.

The result was that all the officers who were assembled, to the number of thirteen, gave it as their opinion that they were bound to sit. Ross then turned upon Phillip and charged him with being "oppressive" in his conduct, as if he had taken advantage of the officers' good nature to convert into a duty what they had merely volunteered to do as a matter of courtesy. But as Phillip did not continue the discussion, it came to nothing, and Major Ross was left to mature some other project for the purpose of embarrassing the Governor. He was not long in doing so. In one of Phillip's despatches written in February, 1790, he informed Lord Sydney of another complication in which he had found himself involved with the Major. In order to prevent the nightly plundering of the gardens which supplied the settlement with vegetables—at that time a matter of great importance, owing to the small stock of provisions remaining in the public store—the Governor had made an order directing the night-watch, then composed of convicts, to detain any soldier or seaman who might be found straggling or in the convicts' huts "after the tap-too has beat", and to give information at the nearest guard-house. A soldier having been detained under this regulation, Major Ross immediately interfered.

He sent the next morning to tell the Judge-Advocate that he considered a soldier's being stopped when not committing any unthreatened lawful act as an insult offered to the corps, and that they would not suffer themselves to be treated in that manner, or be controlled by the convicts, while they had bayonets in their hands.

When this intimation was reported to Phillip by the Judge-Advocate, the allusion to the bayonets was cautiously omitted, Collins probably thinking that it might be a little too much for his temper. The order was thereupon modified, and by a new one the night-watch was directed—"not, in future, to stop any soldier unless he is found in a riot, or committing an unlawful act, in which case such soldier is immediately to be taken to the nearest guard."

Major Ross sought to justify his interference in this matter on the ground that the order objected to had "put the soldiers under the command of the convicts"; although he knew that soldiers were in the habit of robbing the gardens, and could not be checked by any other means. The withdrawal of the order amounted to saying that they might continue to rob the gardens as much as they pleased, since the night-watch would not be likely to interfere with them after that. Phillip, as he expressed it, found himself "driven to the necessity of withdrawing an order calculated for the public service"; he had either to withdraw the order or defy the Major of marines. He was no doubt considerably galled when he was afterwards told about the "bayonets"; and he felt it due to himself to explain his position when writing his account of it to Sydney. He did so by adding the following paragraph in a parenthesis:—

Here I beg leave to observe to your lordship that the last sentence, respecting the bayonets, was never mentioned to me till this business was settled. I should not have been induced to withdraw the order which directed the night-watch to stop a soldier by so pointed a menace, for I should not have thought it could tend to the good of his Majesty's service.

But the Major now felt that he was even with Phillip. If he had been obliged to give way on the Criminal Court question, he had compelled the Governor to withdraw his obnoxious order. This was the spirit in which the Lieutenant-Governor played fast and loose with the public service. It was nothing to him whether or not the soldiers under his command stole other people's vegetables, in a time of famine, every night; the corps was not to be insulted by placing them under the control of the police. Nor did it matter much in his eyes whether or not the Criminal Court was prevented from sitting, and offenders were allowed to go free; it was an "oppressive duty" for an officer of marines to take part in the administration of justice, unless he was paid for it.

It was a very fortunate thing that the Major was not always successful in checkmating the Governor. Had he succeeded on the Criminal Court question, for instance, the administration of law would have been brought to a dead stop, the Governor's authority would have been set at defiance, and the convicts would have been left to do as they pleased. The Major's tendency to carry things to extremes was displayed but too clearly in this instance. Apart from all sense of public duty, the terms of the Act were so clear that no room for a reasonable doubt could have been left in the mind of any officer who read it. Captain Tench and twelve other officers admitted that they always thought it their duty, from the moment that they heard the Act of Parliament read, to sit as members of the Court. Nor is it likely that any officer would have formed a different opinion, had he not been encouraged to do so by the Commandant—who slyly told them that if they objected to sit, he knew of "no Article of War to compel them." There was no Article of War on the subject; nor were there any instructions from the Admiralty, as there should have been; but there was the Act of Parliament, which, in definite language and with unmistakable intention, pointed out the duty it imposed on every officer of his Majesty's forces by sea and land within the colony.

Whether or not Major Ross entertained any doubt in his own mind as to the duty imposed on the officers of the detachment by the Act of Parliament, it is clear that in acting as he did on this and other occasions he had quite forgotten the promise voluntarily made by him in a letter to Nepean, written from Portsmouth a few days before he sailed on the expedition:—

I have now only to add that this is the first instance in which the corps of marines has been employed in any way out of the usual line of duty, and as I firmly believe that any part of it being so employed is entirely owing to your friendly wish of drawing the corps forth from that subordinate obscurity in which it has hitherto moved,—impressed with this belief, permit me to offer you my own as well as the sincerest thanks of the officers of the detachment under my command for the generous opinion you have shown in favour of the corps, and to assure you that every nerve shall be strain'd in the faithful and diligent discharge of our duty; and I entertain not a doubt but that the conduct of the whole will be such as will not only do credit to your recommendation, but give satisfaction to Administration. These much-wished for objects obtained, I shall then ardently hope that what you once hinted to me might be the consequence will with your assistance take place, and that we shall no more return to our original obscurity, but become an active corps of your own creation.

Major Ross's eccentric conduct in these instances seems to have been the result of a peculiar temper rather than a studied display of insubordination. If he could not avoid coming into collision with the Governor, he was on no better terms with the Judge-Advocate or his own officers. On one occasion he made a formal complaint against Captain Collins, who, wrote Phillip, "in his turn, represented his having been treated in such a manner by the Lieutenant-Governor and Captain Campbell, before convicts and others, that he wished to resign his office." {2} The Major not only quarrelled with the adjutant and quarter-master, but placed a captain and four subalterns under arrest for no other reason than that they, as members of a Court-martial assembled to try a soldier for assault, had passed a sentence of such a nature as, in his opinion, tended greatly to the subversion of all military discipline. The idea of punishing the members of a Court-martial because their sentence did not meet with his approval is characteristic of the man. They were no more liable to punishment for such a cause than judges or magistrates would have been under similar circumstances. If any notice required to be taken of their action at all, the proper remedy lay in an appeal to a General Court-martial, in order to have the sentence revised. But the Major evidently wanted something more than revision; he wished to bring his officers to trial in order to have them punished. In that matter he was disappointed, owing to a little difficulty which unexpectedly presented itself at the last moment. It was assumed that a General Court-martial required thirteen members to compose it, and as there were only nineteen officers in the detachment, of whom five were then under arrest, and one was ill, it was not possible to get a General Court-martial together. {3} The result was that nothing could be done; the Major had to forego his revenge, and Phillip ordered the five officers to return to duty, until a sufficient number of officers to form a General Court-martial could be assembled.

This disturbance was no sooner disposed of than it seems to have been followed by another, which gave rise to more technical discussions on points of military law between the Governor and the marines. Phillip apologised to Lord Sydney for troubling him with the details of it in a despatch, but excused himself on the ground that "the very unpleasant situation of the detachment doing duty in this country, from the discontents between the Commandant and the officers", rendered it necessary to do so—especially as it was not in his power "to restore that harmony which is so very requisite in our situation." He had received a letter from Major Ross requesting him to assemble a General Court-martial for the purpose of hearing a charge which the Major had made against one of his officers "for neglect of duty, contempt, and disrespect to him. The Governor issued his warrant accordingly, but when the thirteen officers were assembled, a question was raised as to the legality of the proceedings. The warrant was issued under the authority of his Majesty's Commission for assembling General Courts-martial; but the marines "declared that they could not sit under that warrant, being amenable only to the authority of the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain." {4} Phillip endeavoured to get over the difficulty by appointing a Court of Inquiry to "inquire into the particulars of the charge, and to report whether there was or was not sufficient ground for a General Court-martial"; intending, if the report should require any further proceeding, to have the charge fully examined and reported on by another Court of Inquiry. But the officers to whom the question was referred had no sooner met than technical objections again made their appearance; and it was finally resolved that, although the members of the Court might have proceeded to hear the case before the application for a Court-martial had been made, they were precluded from doing so by the issue of the Governor's warrant. {5}

In this dilemma Phillip directed the Judge-Advocate to take the evidence on both sides, intending to send the depositions to England with the officer under arrest. Before that could be done, however. Major Ross came to the rescue with a letter in which he informed Phillip that "the officer had fully satisfied him respecting the charge", and desired that he might be "permitted to withdraw his request for a Court-martial." The officer was thereupon ordered to return to his duty, and there the matter ended. It may well be supposed, however, that it did not end so far as the principal figures in the little drama were concerned. Phillip was not at all inclined to submit quietly either to personal affronts, or to official acts evidently intended to make him feel that the Governor-in-Chief was dependent on the military for assistance in carrying on the government. Feeling that the safety of the settlement was at stake in every stage of the conflict, he refrained from taking any step which might have borne the appearance of retaliation, and allowed Major Ross to pursue his own course until the proper time arrived for checking it. When it came, Phillip disposed of him not only without any display of temper or resentment, but, on the contrary, with every appearance of confidence in his discretion—by sending him to Norfolk Island with a commission as Lieutenant-Governor.


{1} {return}

Captain James Campbell, an especial friend of the Major's. In a letter to Evan Nepean, written shortly before his leaving England, Ross implored the Under Secretary to obtain some appointment tor his friend, suggesting that he might be made Judge of the Vice-Admiralty Court instead of himself (Ross): "If the above cannot possibly be done for him, do, for God's sake, endeavour at something else for him. An addition to his present income is not, I am convinced, his principal object; what I myself wish for him, and what I am sure his own only wish is, some kind of appointment that would have him some little consequence in himself as well as in the eyes of his brother officers going with him, all of whom, with respect to length of service, are but as of yesterday. You, my dear sir, have no idea how much I am interested in this affair, nor how very severely I shall feel myself mortified if something or other cannot be done for him before we quit this country."

{2} {return}

Collins makes no allusion to these matters in his book, although he mentions the difficulty connected with the holding of a General Court-martial; p. 44.

{3} {return}

Post, p. 294. This difficulty was afterwards obviated by sec. 20 of the Mutiny Act, 1805, which provided that any General Court-martial holden in New South Wales might consist of any number of commissioned officers not less than five. But, before this Act, it was provided in previous Mutiny Acts that a General Court-martial might consist either of thirteen or nine commissioned officers, as the case might require, "unless the same shall be holden in any place beyond the seas, in which case the Court might consist of any number not less than seven."—Tytler, Military Law, p. 134.

{4} {return}

The facts are stated by Collins, p. 44. The officers do not seem to have had any doubt as to their power to decide a purely legal question of jurisdiction. "A General Court-martial assembled by special warrant for the trial of a particular person named in that warrant must discharge their duty by taking cognisance of the crime and pronouncing sentence, either of condemnation or of acquittal from the matter of charge. It has been doubted whether it is competent for a Court so constituted to exercise any judgment as to the legality of the trial, or the amenability of the prisoner to their jurisdiction. The Naval Court-martial appointed to try Captain Norris, in 1744, for misbehaviour and cowardice in the sea-fight of Toulon, thought proper to avoid giving any sentence, either of condemnation or acquittal, or determining that they had no right to take trial of the charge, as the accused person had previously given up his commission, and was not in his Majesty's pay; although Captain Norris himself had desired a Court-martial, which had accordingly been granted to him. The proceedings of the Court were called for in the House of Commons and referred to a committee, on whose report a motion was made and passed, that those proceedings were arbitrary and illegal. Yet there would seem to be little doubt that, if the objection to the legality of the trial is self-evident and insurmountable, the Court may suspend procedure till the objection is canvassed by the proper authority; as, for example, if the prisoner is not subject to Military Law, or if the crime should be a civil offence, as murder, highway robbery, rape, &c., falling binder the cognisance of the ordinary municipal Courts."—Tytler, p. 142. ln this case the objection was not self-evident and insurmountable, and therefore the Court might well have proceeded to hear the case, and then referred their difficulty to the Governor, instead of deciding it themselves without reference to him or to any one else.

{5} {return}

This appears to have been a new point in the practice of military law. The officers having previously decided that the Governor's warrant was valueless, and consequently that no Court-martial could be held under it, nothing could be gained by holding a Court of Inquiry, seeing that such a proceeding is of value only as a preliminary to a trial by Court-martial. It answers the same purpose as an investigation before a Grand Jury or a magistrate in the ordinary Courts; the province of the Court of Inquiry being to "determine, on such evidence as can be brought before them, whether there is or is not sufficient cause for bringing particular persons to trial for the offence or crime before a General Court-martial."—Tytler, 341.


THE temper in which Phillip was disposed to rule the little 1788 community placed under his charge may be seen in the line of conduct he adopted towards the native race. The lively interest he took in it forms one of the most conspicuous features of his despatches. It was not merely because he had been instructed "by every possible means to open an intercourse with the natives and to conciliate their affections", that he took every opportunity for doing so. He evidently felt a personal pleasure in the task. It was the first time in his life in which he had found himself in contact with "the Indians"; and the study of their character, customs, and language was full of interest for him. For that, quite as much as for any official reason, he entered in his journal every little incident that occurred in the course of his communications with them. The Home Secretary, let us hope, fully appreciated the very elaborate information in his despatches with respect to the aboriginals; smiling, perhaps, to find him so much absorbed in his inquiries as to their peculiar customs—as, for instance, that of cutting off the two first joints of the little finger on the left hand of their women. But matters of this kind, trivial as they may seem nowadays, serve to show that he was at least sincere in professing anxiety to promote their welfare by every means in his power.

The natives have ever been treated with the greatest humanity and attention, and every precaution that was possible has been taken to prevent their receiving any insults; and when I shall have time to mix more with them, every means shall be used to reconcile them to live amongst us, and to teach them the advantages they will reap from cultivating the land.

Although he never succeeded in teaching them to cultivate the land, he contrived to reconcile some of them at least to living amongst the white men. This result was owing largely, if not entirely, to his own example. Finding it impossible to cultivate friendly relations with them in the absence of an interpreter, he determined to secure one of them for the purpose of training him; and accordingly a young man named Arabanoo was captured in December, 1788. The experiment promised to be successful, the native having taken kindly to the ways of the white men. Phillip's method of teaching him may be gathered from the little sketch which Captain Hunter gives of his tea-table in the following month of May:—

As soon as the ship was secured, I went on shore to wait on the Governor, whom I found in good health; he was sitting by the fire, drinking tea with a few friends, among whom I observed a native man of this country, who was decently cloathed, and seemed to be as much at his ease at the tea-table as any person there; he managed his cup and saucer as well as though he had been long accustomed to such entertainment. {1}

The poor fellow did not live long enough to realise the hopes that were entertained of him:—

Five or six days after my arrival poor Arabanoo was seized with the small-pox, and although every possible means for his recovery were used, he lived only to the crisis of the disease. Every person in the settlement was much concerned for the loss of this man.

The loss must have been keenly felt by Phillip, whose hopes of friendly communication with the natives were then, for the time at least, extinguished. But his first experiment having been so far a success, he determined to make another; and in November of the same year two natives were seized and brought up to the settlement. Their names were Coalby and Bennilong; but both of them made their escape before they had been many weeks in captivity, and rejoined their friends in the bush. They were afterwards induced to pay friendly visits to the settlement:—

As the Governor and every other person in the settlement had ever been kind to them, they were inclined to depend on the Governor's promise, and did come to Sydney; were kindly received, went from house to house, and saw all their old acquaintances; they received many little presents, and returned to their friends when they thought proper. This confidential visit from two men, who appeared to have some influence among their countrymen, soon brought about a more general intercourse, and the next visit from those men brought the same favour from their wives and families, whose example was followed by many others; so that every gentleman's house was now become a resting or sleeping place for some every night; whenever they were pressed for hunger, they had immediately recourse to our quarters. {2}

It was by these means that Phillip endeavoured to establish a good understanding with the natives, and as far as it was possible for him to succeed in such a matter, he may be said to have succeeded. But it was not possible for him to make everyone else follow his example, or even obey his orders {3} the savages, friendly at first, were provoked from time to time by the convicts, and of course retaliated; every act of retaliation increased the ill-feeling on both sides, and at last led the way, in after times, to open violence and bloodshed. {4}

So far as his own efforts were concerned, Phillip appears to have been peculiarly fortunate in his intercourse with the natives, seldom failing to make friends of them at once whenever he met them. A passage in Lieutenant King's Journal, {5} in which he relates his adventure with the natives at Botany Bay on the day the Sirius arrived there, furnishes an illustration on this point. King and his party had met several of them and endeavoured to gain them over:—

I advanced before them, unarmed, presenting some beads and ribbands; two of the natives advanced armed, but would not come close to me; I then dropped the beads and baize which I held out for them, and retreated; they took it up and bound the baize about their heads. They then in a very vociferous manner desired us to begone; and one of them threw a lance wide of us, to show how far they could do execution.

King, who was accompanied by Lieutenant Dawes and three marines, thought it judicious to beat a retreat, and accordingly did so, the natives following them up; but—

they were ten times more vociferous, and very soon after a lance was thrown amongst us, on which I ordered one of the marines to fire with powder only, when they ran off with great precipitation. I embarked, and Governor Phillip joined me from the south side of the bay, where he had found the natives very sociable and friendly. We relanded on Lance Point [so named by King from the lance having been thrown to frighten him] and the same body of natives appeared, brandishing their lances and defying us. However, we rowed close in shore, and the Governor disembarked with some presents, which one of them came and received. Thus peace was established, much to the satisfaction of all parties.

Phillip had no difficulty in making friends of the men whom King found it necessary to frighten with gunpowder. Why the natives readily made peace with one man while they repelled the other, is a question that can only be answered in one way. The result could not have been owing to any other cause than Phillip's tact, courage, and self-possession in dealing with them. {6} Another instance of his success may be seen in the incident which occurred on a subsequent occasion. Having set out in search of some natives who had killed two men at Rushcutters' Bay, he suddenly came upon a large number of them, "and in less than three minutes we were surrounded by two hundred and twelve men." It was a critical moment, and no doubt he felt the danger of his position:—

Had I gone up to them with all the party, though only twelve, or hesitated a moment, a lance would have been thrown, and it would have been impossible to have avoided a dispute.

Fortunately, he had time enough to halt his men while he advanced alone, and by that means he avoided the collision which otherwise would have been inevitable. The event justified his theory that the only means of warding off a conflict with the natives was to place confidence in them.

Another instance of his coolness in these cases may be found in his account of a trip to Broken Bay. A native who had shown signs of friendship towards the white men, having helped himself to a spade, was promptly corrected by Phillip, who gave him two or three slaps on the shoulder and pushed him away.

This destroyed our friendship in a moment, and seizing a spear he came close up to me, poised it, and appeared determined to Poising a Strike; but whether from seeing that his threats were not regarded for I chose rather to risk the spear than fire on him, or from any thing the other natives said who surrounded him, after a few moments he dropped his spear and left us.

Phillip modestly adds that he mentioned the circumstance to show that the natives did not want personal courage, for several officers and men were then near him. But it also showed that he himself had something more than personal courage; the coolness and self-possession he displayed when his life was threatened were remarkable. Most men in his place would have fired at the savage the moment they saw him poise the spear, and the act would have been considered justifiable; for even if the spear was not poised with the intention of throwing it, Phillip could not have known that; and it was not thrown simply because the man was disarmed by his heroism. On a subsequent occasion he was not so fortunate, being seriously wounded by a spear thrown at him by a native who had been introduced to him by Bennilong at Manly Cove. Such an event was sufficient to show the necessity for caution as well as courage in dealing with savages, whose action is habitually guided by the impulse of the moment. {7}

His narrow escape from death on that occasion did not deter him from acting in his usual manner towards the natives. He knew that the man who threw the spear was not actuated by treachery, but was acting in self-defence, being under the impression, when Phillip advanced towards him with open hands, that he was about to be seized and carried off in the same way that other natives had been captured by the Governor's orders. Nothing indeed that had occurred during his intercourse with the tribes had led him to regard the natives as treacherous. {8} An unfavourable opinion on that point was expressed by Captain Hunter and Surgeon White, based on the fact that the natives frequently attacked white men whom they happened to meet unarmed, while they never interfered with those who carried arms. These attacks, however, were probably—as Phillip always believed—acts of retaliation. In the first months of the settlement the canoes and spears, which they had been accustomed to leave on the beaches, were frequently carried off by the convicts and the seamen of the transports; for which revenge was taken whenever an opportunity offered, according to native law. The aggressors, in all cases, were necessarily the men who had not only driven the natives out of their hunting-grounds, but had taken away their means of livings—especially the fish. {9} Phillip recognised their right to that kind of property by ordering the boating parties always to give the natives a share of any fish that might be caught. He relates that on one occasion—

Twenty of the natives came down to the beach, each armed with a number of spears, and seized on a part of the fish caught in the seine. While the greatest number were seizing the fish, several stood at a small distance with their spears poised, ready to throw them if any resistance had been made; but the coxswain very prudently permitted them to take what they chose, and they parted good friends. They at present find it very difficult to support themselves.

If we compare this passage with one in Cook's Voyage, under date 19 July, 1770, describing an attempt made by the natives on the Endeavour River to seize some turtle on board his ship, there will be no difficulty in understanding the native view of the matter. In both cases it is evident that the act—which to the European mind would present the appearance of an impudent attempt at robbery—was in fact an assertion of right on the part of the native owners. {10}

There was one occasion, however, on which Phillip felt called upon to alter his usual line of conduct towards the natives, with the view of teaching them a much-needed lesson. In the month of December, 1790, {11} a party consisting of a Serjeant of marines and three convicts—among whom was a man named McEntire, "the Governor's game-keeper"—was sent out for the purpose of shooting kangaroos at Botany Bay, in order to increase the stock of provisions, which had then become alarmingly small. During the night, they were disturbed in their camp by a noise among the bushes near them, which they found was occasioned by some natives—two of whom were seen creeping towards them with spears in their hands, while three others appeared a little behind. McEntire then got up, saying that he knew them, and laying down his gun, went towards them. They retreated slowly while he followed and began talking in a friendly way with them. One of them suddenly jumped on a fallen tree, and without giving the least warning of his intention, launched his spear at McEntire with such force as to drive it seven and a half inches into his left side. The unfortunate man lingered for some weeks afterwards and then died. Phillip was at Rose Hill when the affair occurred, but on the day after he returned to Sydney, and immediately issued the following order:—

Several tribes of the natives still continue to throw spears at any man they meet unarmed, by which several have been killed, or dangerously wounded:—The Governor, in order to deter the natives from such practices in future, has ordered out a party to search for the man who wounded the convict McEntire in so dangerous a manner on Friday last, though no offence was offered on his part, in order to make a signal example of that tribe. At the same time, the Governor strictly forbids, under penalty of the severest punishment, any soldier or other person not expressly ordered out for that purpose, ever to fire on any native, except in his own defence; or to molest him in any shape, or to bring away any spears, or other articles, which they may find belonging to these people. The natives will be made severe example of whenever any man is wounded by them; but this will be done in a manner which may satisfy them, that it is a punishment inflicted on them for their own bad conduct, and of which they cannot be made sensible, if they are not treated with kindness while they continue peaceable and quiet.

A party, consisting of two captains, two subalterns, and forty privates, with a proper number of non-commissioned officers from the garrison, with three days' provisions, &c., are to be ready to march to-morrow morning at daylight, in order to bring in six of those natives who reside near the head of Botany Bay; or, if that should be found impracticable, to put that number to death.

Captain Tench proceeds to relate that, having been appointed to command the party, he received further instructions from Phillip personally to the following effect:—

That we were, if practicable, to bring away two natives and to put to death ten; that no hut was to be burned; that all women and children were to remain uninjured, not being comprehended within the scope of the order; that our operations were to be directed either by surprise or open force; that after we had made any prisoners all communication, even with those natives with whom we were in habits of intercourse, was to be avoided, and none of them suffered to approach us; that we were to cut off and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose hatchets and bags will be furnished; and, finally, that no signal of amity or invitation should be used in order to allure them to us, or if made on their part should be answered by us; for that such, conduct would not only be present treachery, but give them reason to distrust every future mark of peace and friendship on our part.

It is hardly necessary to say that the soldiers did not succeed in surprising any of the suspected tribe. It is evident that Phillip at that time had not made himself acquainted with the habits and customs of the natives when on the warpath, or he would not have entertained the idea of despatching a large armed force in order to seize the men he wanted. But his determination to inflict punishment for an act which he looked upon as wanton murder shows that his usual course of action towards the natives was not dictated by any misplaced feeling of sympathy, but was the result of his deliberate convictions on the subject. Lenient and forbearing as he was towards them, he was not prepared to condone an unprovoked outrage on their part. In this instance there is some reason to believe that the opinion he had formed of the matter was not altogether a sound one. Tench informs us that "from the aversion uniformly shown by all the natives to this unhappy man (McEntire), he had long been suspected by us of having, in his excursions, shot and injured them." The manner in which the crime was committed would certainly lead one to suppose that it was entirely an act of revenge, provoked by some previous aggression on the part of the victim; and so far it would serve to confirm Phillip's original theory with respect to the many attacks upon unarmed men of which complaint was made.

Looking back now on his benevolent but unavailing efforts to civilise the natives, it seems matter for regret that so little should have been done by the Home Government— either in his time or in that of his successors—to establish some definite principles of action for the purpose of reclaiming them. The task of civilising a savage race was altogether beyond the power of any one man in the colony to accomplish, especially at a time when the struggle for existence was so sharply felt. It was pre-eminently the work of a central Government; the means of doing it, as well as the moral obligation to do it, lay there, and not with the embarrassed head of the colonial administration; still less with the scattered settlers, who so soon found themselves engaged in a hand-to-hand struggle with the natives. There is nothing to show that the Government entertained even the idea of improving their mode of life. Phillip was instructed to open an intercourse with them and to conciliate their affections; every one in the colony was to be enjoined to live in amity and kindness with them; they were not to be wantonly destroyed or unnecessarily interrupted in their occupations. But nothing was said about civilising them. That was Phillip's idea, conceived as soon as he found himself in their midst, and carried out as far as his means and opportunities would allow. Savages, however, are not to be reclaimed by individual acts of kindness; if the work is to be done at all, it can only be done on an organised system.

That much might have been effected in that direction under the influence of a sound method of administration, devised and controlled by the Home Government, will hardly be denied. Sir George Grey offered several practical suggestions in a "report upon the best means of promoting the civilisation of the aboriginal inhabitants of Australia", submitted by him to Lord John Russell in 1840. Among these suggestions was one that might at least have been tested in Australia, as it has been to some extent in India: that savage customs, inconsistent with civilised life, and necessarily tending to perpetuate savagery, should be prohibited. {12} The report was "approved", and copies of it were sent to the Governors of the Australian colonies and New Zealand; but there the matter ended. The natives all over Australia have been left in the enjoyment of their most brutalising laws and customs, and the consequence has justified Sir George Grey's contention. The only measures that have been adopted with a view to their redemption are, the establishment of schools for aboriginal children and the distribution of rations and clothing among the old and infirm. According to the last report of the Aborigines Protection Board, the census taken in October, 1887, showed that the total number in New South Wales for that year, including full-blood and half-castes, was 7,902, of whom 5,042 were full-blood, and 2,860 were half-castes. The number of children attending school in the preceding year was 384; and the amount distributed during that year for supplies was £3,608.

The race is fast disappearing in this colony, and the date of its final disappearance cannot be very far off. Phillip estimated that there were fully 1,500 natives living about the shores of Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay in his time; but there are none to be seen now. Taking his estimate as a basis for calculation, there were probably many thousands at that time scattered over the immense territory included in the boundaries of New South Wales; and at the present day, had not their natural increase been summarily checked by contact with civilisation, instead of the melancholy remnant of the tribes now struggling against destiny, large masses of them would have been gaining their own subsistence at the spear's point. That would have occurred in the ordinary course of nature. Whether the interests of civilisation are better served by the destruction of the race than they would have been by its preservation and redemption, is a question for philosophers to settle. That they were not by nature incapable of being civilised—so far, at least, as any savage race can be civilised at all—is now generally admitted. From the time—just two centuries ago {13}—when Dampier pronounced them "the miserablest People in the World", they remained for many years after the occupation of the country under that stigma; but it has long since been rejected as unfounded and unjust. Sir George Grey considered them "as apt and intelligent as any other race of men I am acquainted with"; {14} and many other well-qualified observers have expressed similar opinions. In the journals of Australian explorers may be found many tributes to their intelligence and fidelity, as well as to their wonderful faculties as bushmen. "They have been described", said Sir T. L. Mitchell, "as the lowest in the scale of humanity, yet I found those who accompanied me superior in penetration and judgment to the white men composing my party. . . . It would ill become me to disparage the character of the aborigines, for one of that unfortunate race has been my 'guide, companion, councillor, and friend', on the most eventful occasions during this last journey of discovery." {15} No one has spoken more emphatically in their favour than Edward John Eyre, the explorer, although no one had more cause to complain of their so-called treachery. He, like Grey, suffered severely from a wanton act of aggression on the part of the natives; but, like Grey, he could discriminate between deliberate treachery and mere impulse; and even where treachery was proved, he did not dream of condemning a whole race for the wrong-doing of a few. Notwithstanding his personal grievance, he could speak of them as "a people hitherto considered the lowest and most irreclaimable of mankind, but whose natural capabilities and endowments are, I feel assured, by no means inferior to those of the most favoured nations." {16} This may seem rather an extreme assertion; but it is confirmed by the independent testimony of many capable judges. Of all men whose opinions might be safely taken on such a question, there are certainly none more entitled to respect than Grey, Mitchell, and Eyre. Taken together, the chapters on the manners and customs of the natives written by Grey and Eyre form perhaps the best critical dissection of the aboriginal character that has yet been published. Although each of these writers looked at his subject from a totally different standpoint, their conclusions are singularly uniform, not only as to the capacity but as to the character and disposition of the native race. If kindness to strangers in distress or devotion to a dying master be any test of good feeling, it would be difficult to find in history more touching instances than those recorded of the blacks at Cooper's Creek in the last hours of Burke, Wills, and King, and of the faithful savage who watched over Kennedy in the agony of death.

Much has been said and written about the cruelty shown by the settlers to the natives from the earliest times; and no one can justify the many murderous acts by which it was sought to hold them in check when their numbers made them formidable. But the ultimate question that arises out of this matter is—with whom lay the responsibility? It was a war of races, and the consequences of such a struggle were inevitable. That they might have been avoided, or at least greatly alleviated, is plain from this consideration; theoretically, the law recognised no distinction between black and white; it held the life of one as dear as that of the other; but practically it deprived the native of the protection which it gave the European by rejecting his evidence in Court. {17} If, therefore, he could not look to the law as a means of redress, it was but natural that he, as a savage, should seek a remedy in his own way. This was but one of many evil consequences which flowed from the want of an intelligent system in dealing with the question, and which should have been established by the Home Government concurrently with the occupation of the territory.


{1} {return}

Journal, p. 132. Tench gives us a similar picture of the Governor's dinner-party on New Year's Day, 1789:—"To-day, being New Year's Day, most of the officers were invited to the Governor's table. Manly [Arabanoo was so named by Phillip because he was captured at Manly Cove, his native name not being then known], dined heartily on fish and roasted pork; he was seated on a chest near a window, out of which, when he had done eating, he would have thrown his plate, had he not been prevented. During dinner-time, a band of music played in an adjoining apartment; and after the cloth was removed, one of the company sang in a very soft and superior style; but the powers of melody were lost on Manly, which disappointed our expectations, as he had before shown pleasure and readiness in imitating our tunes."—Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, p. 13. Their musical capacity was noticed by Tench while the ships were at Botany Bay:—"The Indians, though terrified at the report (of the gun), did not run away; but their astonishment exceeded their alarm, on looking at the shield which the ball had perforated. As this produced a little shyness, the officer, to dissipate their fears and remove their jealousy, whistled the air of Malbrooke, which they appeared highly charmed with, and imitated him with equal pleasure and readiness. I cannot help remarking here, what I was afterwards told by Monsieur De Pérouse, that the natives of California, and throughout all the islands of the Pacific Ocean, and in short wherever he had been, seemed equally touched and delighted with this little plaintive air."—Narrative, p. 58.

{2} {return}

Hunter, p. 205.

{3} {return}

The difficulty experienced by Phillip in enforcing obedience to his reiterated orders on this subject may be seen in the fact, previously noted, (p. 101 n) that, in March, 1789, a party of convicts actually set out in pursuit of the natives for the purpose of avenging the death of a man they had killed.

{4} {return}

"At Swan River, the natives are extremely inimical to the Europeans. They have murdered several persons, besides destroying a great number of sheep. When I was there, soon after the formation of the settlement, we found them friendly and quiet, nor did I hear of a single act of aggression on their part; the only way, therefore, of accounting for the bad feeling which now exists between them and the settlers, is by supposing they must have been ill-used, or that some misunderstanding has taken place."—Lieutenant Breton, Excursions in New South Wales, 1834, p. 166.

{5} {return}

MS. in the possession of the Hon. Philip Gidley King, M.L.C.

{6} {return}

"This very pleasing effect was produced in no small degree by the personal address, as well as by the great care and attention of the Governor."—Phillip's Voyage, p. 44.

{7} {return}

Collins, p. 134; Tench, Complete Account, p. 59. Poising a spear at a stranger was a common practice with the natives. It was an invitation to stand his ground.

{8} {return}

Hunter, p. 463-4.

{9} {return}

"Still it is impossible that the Government should forget that the original aggression was our own; and that we have never yet performed the sacred duty of making any systematic or considerable attempt to impart to the former occupants of New South Wales the blessing of Christianity, or the knowledge of the arts and advantages of civilised life."—Lord John Russell to Sir George Gipps, 21 December, 1839.

{10} {return}

"Every tribe has its own district, the boundaries of which are well-known to the natives generally; and within that district all the wild animals are considered as much the property of the tribe inhabiting, or rather ranging on, its whole extent, as the flocks of sheep and herds of cattle that have been introduced into the country by adventurous Europeans, are held by European law and usage the property of their respective owners."—Dr. Lang, quoted in Captain Grey's Journals of Two Expeditions, 1841, vol. ii, p. 283.

"The foundation of their social edifice may, like that of civilised nations, be said to rest on an inherent sense of the rights of property. As strongly attached to that property, and to the rights which it involves, as any European political body, the tribes of Australia resort to precisely similar measures for protecting it, and seek redress and revenge for its violated laws through the same means as an European nation would, if similarly situated. Thus, if his territory has been trespassed upon, in hunting, by a neighbouring tribe, compensation or a reparation of the insult is asked refused, war ensues; and when both tribes display equal force and courage, in most cases ends in a feud which is bequeathed to future generations."—Strzelecki, Physical Description of New South Wales, 1845, p. 340.

{11} {return}

Tench, Complete Account, p. 89; Collins, p. 143.

{12} {return}

Journals of Two Expeditions, vol. ii, p. 373.—"I do not hesitate to assert my full conviction that whilst those tribes which are in communication with one Europeans are allowed to execute their barbarous laws and customs upon one another, so long will they remain hopelessly immersed in their present state of barbarism; and however unjust such a proceeding might at first might appear, I believe that the course pointed out by true humanity would be, to make them from the very commencement amenable to British laws, both as regards themselves and Europeans; for I hold it to be imagining a contradiction to suppose that individuals subject to savage and barbarous laws can rise into a state of civilisation, which those laws have a manifest tendency to destroy and overturn."

{13} {return}

"The 4th day of January, 1688, we fell in with the land of New Holland, in the latitude of 16° 50'."—Dampier, vol. i, p. 462.

{14} {return}

Journals, vol. ii, p. 374.—Grey's pages furnish abundant evidence in support of this statement.

{15} {return}

Journal of an Expedition into the Interior of Tropical Australia, 1845, pp. 412-4. This passage contains a strong confirmation of the opinion which Mitchell had formed of them ten years previously. He said then:—"My experience enables me to speak in the most favourable terms of the aborigines, whose degraded position in the midst of the white population affords no just criterion of their merits. The quickness of apprehension of those in the interior is very extraordinary, for nothing in all the complicated adaptations we carried with us either surprised or puzzled them. They are never awkward; on the contrary, in manners and general intelligence they appear superior to any class of white rustics that I have seen. Their powers of mimicry seem extraordinary, and their shrewdness shines even through the medium of imperfect language, and renders them, in general, very agreeable companions."—Three Expeditions, 1838, vol. ii, p. 334.

In the same volume (p. 346) the author said:—"Some adequate provision for their civilisation and maintenance is due on our part to this race of men, were it only in return for the means of existence of which we are depriving them. The bad example of the class of persons sent to Australia should be counteracted by some serious efforts to civilise and instruct these aboriginal inhabitants."

Lieutenant-Col. Mundy, who was appointed Deputy Adjutant-General in the Australian Colonies in 1846, gave the result of his observations on the subject in equally strong terms:—"Yet, low in the scale of humanity as is the grade of the Australian savage, I agree with those who believe the assumption unfair that he is incapable of attaining the same standard of intelligence as the European. No really effectual and properly sustained plan for his amelioration has as yet been extended to him. Efforts, prodigal indeed in zeal and money, have been made to civilise and christianise him, but they have hitherto met with signal failure.... The promptitude with which the Australian blacks, enrolled in the police, have acquired a proficiency not only in the manual parts of their duties, but in discipline, abstinence from drink, obedience to orders, &c., affords satisfactory testimony of their aptitude for better things. For bush duties, especially against their own countrymen, the native police is infinitely more effective than the English police. Nor is there, I think, anything very extravagant in the assumption that the creature who has sufficient skill and energy to construct the spear and boomerang, to transfix the kangaroo at sixty paces, strike down the bird on the wing, ensnare the river fish with his nets, and pierce the sea fish with his harpoon, who can manufacture his canoe and its implements, is capable, also, of learning more useful though in fact less ingenious arts and sciences."—Our Antipodes, 4th edition, 1857, p. 52.

{16} {return}

Journals, vol. ii, p. 459.

{17} {return}

"The fact of the natives being unable to give testimony in a Court of Justice is a great hardship on them, and they consider it as such; the reason that occasions their disability is at present quite beyond their comprehension, and it is impossible to explain it to them. I have been a personal witness to a case in which a native was most undeservedly punished, from the circumstance of the natives, who were the only persons who could speak as to certain exculpatory facts, not being permitted to give their evidence."—Grey, Journals, vol. ii, p. 380.


PHILLIP'S place in the ranks of Australian explorers seems to have been but faintly recognised in history. Notwithstanding the fact that his name stands first on the list, and that his discoveries were of very great importance, it has been his unhappy fate to have his name and memory associated so closely with the dismal days of the convict era that his achievements outside that gloomy circle have been almost ignored. When he told Sydney of the only consolation he had for his unpleasant position—the reflection that he was rendering a very essential service to his country by founding a colony destined to prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made, it did not occur to him that his career in it would be, in many minds at least, identified with so much of the least attractive portion of its history. It was no doubt with a sense of relief that he turned his steps away so frequently from the Camp at Sydney Cove towards the sea-coast or the bush, for the purpose of making himself acquainted with the character of his new dominions. However much he may have been impelled by that feeling, the love of travel and adventure must have been strong within him, for he was always moving from one point to another within the limited area of exploration then open to him. {1} His energy and activity in the character of an explorer were conspicuously shown from the very day of his arrival. He had no sooner dropped anchor in Botany Bay than he set to work to examine its capabilities as a harbour; and then, turning his attention to the land, he endeavoured to satisfy himself as to its suitability for a settlement. A very slight inspection of the surrounding country was enough to convince him that a better site would have to be sought for at once. Point Sutherland was the only place that could be found for the purpose in the bay, but the ground about it was spongy, and swamps would necessarily prove unhealthy. To save time—mindful, no doubt, of Sydney's imperious injunction not to "delay the disembarkation of the establishment upon the pretence of seeking a more eligible place than Botany Bay"—instructions were given to have the ground cleared for landing, and he then sailed away in an open boat, regardless of his dignity as a Governor-in-Chief, for the nearest bay to the north, of which he knew nothing beyond what he had read about it in Cook's Voyage. {2}

If Phillip had reason to congratulate himself on the good fortune which had so far attended his voyage, his heart must have rejoiced within him when his boats, after entering the heads of Port Jackson, began to work their way through its waters. As he passed from cove to cove, carefully examining each to ascertain its fitness for the site of a settlement, he no doubt experienced much the same sensations as the long-forgotten Portuguese navigator, Martin de Souza, when he discovered the other great harbour of the world—that of Rio de Janeiro—in 1531. Phillip, it is true, could not make any claim to the honour of being the discoverer as well as the explorer of Port Jackson; but he was the first European to gaze upon its waters and make them known to the world. Unfortunately, however, he left no record of his impressions as the novelty and grandeur of the scenery were displayed before him. In his despatch to Lord Sydney he contented himself with saying that he "had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security". Fresh from the great harbour of the Brazils, he had no doubt compared the two well in his own mind before pronouncing judgment so emphatically in favour of Port Jackson. {3} The exploration of such a harbour—which removed at once every possible doubt with respect to the ultimate success of the expedition—was a signal triumph for Phillip and a rich reward for his labours; and at the same time it probably acted as a powerful stimulus to further exertions in the same direction. If the prospect of making some great discovery with which their names would be for ever identified in history has stirred the ambition of so many explorers since his time, it may be safely assumed that he too was inspired with much the same feeling. That he was so influenced by this success in a field of action altogether new to him is evident from his despatches; and he lost no time in following up his first achievement. As soon as the ships had come round from Botany Bay, the people had been landed, the tents pitched, clearing begun, and the colony proclaimed. Lieutenant King was despatched to Norfolk Island for the purpose of occupying it; and Phillip then, on the 2nd of March, set off to explore Broken Bay, where Captain Cook, at sunset of the day on which he had passed Port Jackson, had noticed "some broken land that seemed to form a bay."

The immediate object of this excursion was "not only to survey the harbour; if any were found to exist, but to examine whether there were within it any spots of ground capable of cultivation, and of maintaining a few families." {4} Of the two purposes, the discovery of good farming land was much the more important; for up to that time no such land had been found either at the settlement or near it; and as Phillip had been told to look to the soil as a principal means of supporting his people, the necessity for getting a large area under cultivation as soon as possible had become urgent. He did not succeed in finding any land of the kind required, except near the southern entrance of the bay, where he came upon "the finest piece of water I ever saw"—which he immediately named Pittwater, after the great Prime Minister. There he found "some good situations where the land might be cultivated"; but they were not adapted for his purposes, although there was no want of water; "we found small springs of water in most of the coves, and saw three cascades falling from a height which the rains then rendered inaccessible", Phillip spent eight days in rowing about the three branches of the harbour and examining the coves; but "the almost continual rains prevented any kind of survey." The bay was afterwards surveyed by Captain Hunter, in August, 1789. It proved to be a very fine piece of scenery, spreading itself out in four large branches; but the entrance of the northern branch—now called Brisbane Water—was obstructed by a sand-bar, "that had only water for small vessels." The rainy weather rendering it impossible to explore either the bay or its shores satisfactorily, Phillip was compelled to return sooner than he otherwise would have done; and "some of the people feeling the effects of the rain", he had to return by water instead of by land, and was thus prevented from examining "a part of the country which appeared open and free from timber."

During his interviews with the natives at Broken Bay he had many opportunities of observing their peculiar customs, which puzzled him a good deal—especially that of cutting off two joints from the little finger of the left hand among the women. He noticed also that the men had the right front tooth in the upper jaw knocked out, wore a piece of wood or bone in the nose, and were scarified about the breast and arms. Some of their graves were opened, and from the ashes found in them he "had no doubt but that they burn their dead."

The next expedition set out on the 15th of April, when Phillip endeavoured to explore the country on the sea-coast a little to the north of Port Jackson. Landing at Shell Cove, between Manly Beach and the North Head, {5} he found, further on, "a passage with deep water into a branch of the harbour that runs to the north-west." On examining this part of the country he came across "a run of fresh water that came from the westward", and a few days afterwards he proceeded to trace it up to its source. In the course of this journey a large lake was met with and examined, but not without great labour, as it was "surrounded with a bog and a large marsh, in which we were frequently up to our middle." This lake is known to excursionists of the present day as Lake Narrabeen, and is frequently visited by coach on the road from Manly to Pittwater. Here Phillip saw a black swan for the first time, and thought it "a noble bird." It took the party three days' hard work to get round the swamps and marshes which they met with on their way; but the traveller nowadays is not obstructed in that manner, the swamps and marshes having long since disappeared under the influence of drainage and cultivation. The result justifies the philosophic reflections indulged in on this subject by the editor of Phillip's Voyage, on "the great improvement which may be made by the industry of a civilised people in this country." {6}

Phillip made one or two other discoveries besides that of the lake on this occasion. When about fifteen miles from the coast he had "a very fine view of the mountains inland"—by which he meant the celebrated range afterwards known as the Blue Mountains. Those to the north he named the Carmarthen Hills, those to the south the Lansdowne, and one that rose up between them Richmond Hill— after some political celebrities of the time. While gazing I the distant range an idea occurred to him which led to one of his most important discoveries. "From, the rising these mountains I did not doubt but that a large river would be found"; and in order to satisfy himself on that point he determined to make another exploration in a different direction.

Accordingly, he set off again a week afterwards, and having landed near the head of the harbour, tried to make his way through the country before him straight to the mountains. This might be called the first of the many attempts to explore the Blue Mountains made during a period of twenty-five years; for it was not until 1813 that the colonists succeeded in cutting a passage through them. Phillip had not gone far on his way before he was stopped by the scrub which he called "a close cover"—and was obliged to return. On the following day, a fresh start was made. By keeping along the banks of a small creek for about four miles the party managed to escape the scrub, and then came upon some unusually good country—"as fine as any I ever saw"—the trees growing from twenty to forty feet apart from each other, and no scrub, except where the soil was poor. It was this sort of country that charmed the eyes of Captain Cook and his friends when, "properly accoutred for the expedition", they made their little "excursions into the country" at Botany Bay—finding in one direction "the face of the country finely diversified by wood and lawn", and in another "some of the finest meadows in the world." Phillip was so pleased with the undulating landscape before him, with its wild flowers and birds of brilliant plumage flitting through the trees, that he found ordinary English unequal to the expression of his feelings, and therefore gave it the name of Belle Vue—probably in recollection of some pleasant landscape in the old world.

But the river was not discovered; it had taken the party five days to make thirty miles, and there was yet no sign of it. The provisions they had taken with them would not last long enough to enable them to make any further attempt on that occasion to reach the mountains, and Phillip suffered so much from a pain in the side—brought on by sleeping for several nights on damp ground at Broken Bay—that he was obliged to return; but he did so with the intention of renewing the attempt in a few days. The good country they had seen, and the prospect of discovering a large river, "made everyone, notwithstanding the fatigue, desirous of being of the party"; and they were not a little encouraged to make another attempt by the traces of the natives which they had seen. Phillip says he "was surprised to find temporary huts made by the natives far inland, where they must depend solely on animals for food." He did not know then what their resources were, but took it for granted that when they left the sea-coast wild animals were their only source of supply. His conjectures as to their habits at this time are not a little amusing. He could not understand how they could live at any distance from the coast, unless wild animals were very plentiful and easily caught; being under the impression that fish was their principal means of subsistence. "Whether they live in the woods by choice, or are driven from the society of those who inhabit the sea-coast, or whether they travel to a distant part of the country, I can form no judgment at present." Evidently he was still much more of a sailor than a bushman, and the idea of such savages living wholly in the bush all the year round seemed out of the question to him. It had not yet occurred to him that the bush maintained its tribes as well as the sea-coast, and that wherever the explorer might go in the interior he would be sure to meet with the natives. The only point on which he was quite clear was, that "when they go inland they certainly do not carry any fish to support them." {7}

The most helpful discovery inland made by Phillip during his first year of office was that of some good farming land near the head of the harbour, where he found "a tract of country running to the westward for many miles which appears to be in general rich, good land." The necessity for cultivating land largely in order to support his people had been daily making itself more and more felt, the land about Sydney Cove being found practically useless for the purpose. The first farm made in the colony was at Farm Cove—whence its name—and there nine acres were laid down in corn soon after the settlement was formed: but nine acres were obviously not enough to support over a thousand persons, and Phillip was consequently driven to explore the surrounding country in search of better soil. Hence his frequent journeys north, south, and west. The only available land which he succeeded in finding for some time was near the head of the harbour, at a place which he named Rose Hill— not knowing at the time that the native name was Parramatta. Here, in November, 1788, he commenced operations on a large scale, and with so much success that Rose Hill soon became an important establishment. {8} His own experience as a gentleman farmer while settled at Lyndhurst, in the New Forest, was probably turned to some practical account here; at any rate, it lent some little attraction to his labours. {9} When Captain Hunter visited the place in May, 1789, after his voyage to the Cape of Good Hope for provisions, he was surprised to find the little settlement in a very flourishing condition; and in July, 1790, Phillip "laid down the lines of a regular town" there; the principal street being one mile in length, with a breadth of two hundred and five feet. The regular town was afterwards named Parramatta by Phillip, on the 4th June, 1791—that being the King's birthday.

The Rose Hill experiment led to other results besides an extension of farming operations. It convinced Phillip that the only means by which the cultivation of the soil could be carried on with permanent success, so as to render the colony independent of supplies from England, was to introduce free settlers, and supply them with convict labour on certain terms until they had established themselves. It was entirely owing to his repeated and emphatic representations on this subject that the Home Government consented, in 1792, to send out free settlers; and the method of dealing with convict labour, afterwards known as the Assignment system, is clearly traceable to the same source. The first settlers—there were only five of them—arrived early in 1793, after Phillip had left the colony; and each received a small grant of land "at the upper part of the harbour above the Flats". to which they gave the name of Liberty Plains. One of the conditions under which they engaged to settle in the colony was that "the service of convicts should be assigned to them free of expence, and those convicts whose services might be assigned to them should be supplied with two years' rations and one year's clothing". Such was the commencement of the Assignment system, of which so much was afterwards heard. Under Phillips's recommendation, it was originally limited to certain cases and conditions, for the purpose of inducing free settlers to reside in the colony and cultivate lands to be granted by the Crown. Subsequently, however, it was developed into a very different arrangement, under which the services of convicts might be obtained by anyone who could feed and clothe them; and it remained in force until the great abuses to which it naturally gave rise ultimately led to its extinction in 1838.

Another excursion was made on the 22nd August in the same year, when Phillip, who was accompanied by Lieutenants Johnston and Cresswell, Surgeon White, and six soldiers, set out to examine the coast between the North Head and Broken Bay. They landed at Manly Cove and proceeded northward along the coast for about six miles, when they were forced to halt until the tide had run out of a lagoon, so that they could ford it. The next day they reached the south branch of Broken Bay; but finding the country rather too rugged for them, they returned to the sea-shore, in order to examine the south part of the entrance into the bay. All along the shore they met parties of the natives, with whom they exchanged civilities. On the following day they returned to the branch of the bay which they had seen, making their way to it by means of a native path. At the head of it they found a freshwater river, which took its rise, a little above, out of a swamp. They made no discovery of any importance, but the trip served to increase their knowledge of the country in that direction, and enabled Mr. White to obtain several specimens of its natural history.

To remove all doubt as to the capability of Botany Bay for the purposes of settlement, and also to extend his knowledge of its branches, Phillip sailed round with a small party in boats, leaving Sydney on the 11th December, and remaining out for five days. During that time he examined the different branches of the bay, now known as Cook's River, George's River, and Woronora River. He left no account of his trip, and consequently we have no knowledge of the opinion he formed with respect to the country examined; but the result confirmed him in his first impression as to the impolicy of founding a settlement in that direction.

The next and perhaps the most important of Phillip's expeditions of discovery started from head-quarters on the 6th of June, 1789. Since his last visit to Broken Bay he had been compelled to defer his projected excursions to the north-west for several reasons. Not only had his health suffered from exposure, but the departure of the Sirius for the Cape of Good Hope in October of the previous year had deprived him of the society of Captain Hunter and his officers, as well as of the use of her boats and crew. The exploration of the large river of which he had been dreaming ever since he had found himself in full view of the Blue Mountains would require their assistance, as it would be necessary to ascend the river from its mouth, to take soundings and measurements, and to examine the country as they went on. The return of the Sirius in May, 1789, enabled Phillip to carry out his intentions, and accordingly a large party was at once organised for the purpose. Two boats were sent on to Broken Bay with provisions, and in a third were Phillip, Captain Hunter and two of his officers; Captain Collins the Judge-Advocate, Captain George Johnston of the marines—then aide-de-camp to the Governor, and afterwards a very conspicuous character in our history—and Surgeon White, "all armed with musquets, &c." They landed "on the north part of Port Jackson"—probably at Manly Cove—and proceeded along the coast towards Broken Bay, crossing many long sandy beaches and struggling through the bush on the hill-sides, occasionally meeting with a path "which the natives in travelling along the coast had trod very well down." These paths spared them a good deal of hard work in making their way through the rugged country in which they found themselves as soon as they began to face the hills. {10}

When they had reached the shores of Broken Bay, where they found the boats waiting for them, they proceeded to explore the various branches of it which had been partially examined on Phillip's previous visit. Two days were devoted to this work, and on the third, while sailing up the north-west branch, they saw a point of high land which had the appearance of an island. {11} Being determined to satisfy themselves on that point, they proceeded to examine it, and while doing so they were led into a branch which had not before been discovered. Following that up, they found a good depth of water and every other indication of the opening of an extensive river. The whole of the day was spent in rowing up the stream, and in the evening they landed on a low marshy point, where they pitched their tents for the night. Their progress next morning was delayed by fogs until ten o'clock, when the sun enabled them to find their way up the windings of the river. The day was passed in a careful examination of the tides and the general character of the river and surrounding country; but they could go no further then for want of provisions, and were compelled to return when evening came on. They had gone about twenty miles from the entrance of the south-west branch; but the banks of the river were so very steep where they were that "there was not a spot on which we could erect a tent except where it was marshy ground". The only landing-place they could find was "a parcel of rocks", and there they passed the night. The next day they had a fair wind, blowing fresh, and consequently were able to sail down to Pittwater, where they camped, and afterwards remained a few days in order to recruit.

Phillip's satisfaction at this point may be easily imagined; his confident prediction of the year before that a great river would be found flowing from the distant mountains was now confirmed; and if he had had a doubt remaining in his mind as to the ultimate success of his settlement, it left him here. For a large river meant a large stretch of fertile country on its banks, of a very different character from that at Rose Hill or any other place in its neighbourhood, with easy carriage for produce by water. As soon as the river banks could be occupied and farmed—especially if free settlers could be sent oat for the purpose—there would be an end to all fears as to the supply of food for the people at Sydney Cove; nor would there be any necessity for sending the Sirius to the Cape or the Supply to Batavia for the purpose of obtaining provisions. This was the point which he had so long been struggling to reach; and having at last arrived at it, he lost no time in following up his latest discovery.

As soon as he had got back to Sydney Cove, he gave orders for the preparation of another expedition, being determined to trace the river to its distant source in the Blue Mountains. The party included the same men as before, with an addition of five marines, numbering altogether about forty, "all well armed and capable of making a powerful resistance", in case they should be attacked by the natives. They left Sydney Cove on the 28th of June, one boat being sent on to the south branch of Broken Bay. The land party walked, as before, from the north part of Port Jackson to Pittwater, which they reached in five hours—very good time, considering that each man had to carry his knapsack and gun, and that the country they had to pass through was very rough. No boat having made its appearance when they arrived at Pittwater, they had to walk round all the bays, woods, and swamps between the head and the entrance of that branch of the bay, in order to meet the boats; and then they found the day so far gone that there was nothing left to do but to pitch their tents for the night.

The next morning they set off in the boats at daybreak; passed Mullet Island—so named from the quantity of mullet and other fish they had caught there on their last visit to it— and then got into the river, reaching a point within three or four miles of the place at which they had turned back three weeks before. There they camped for the night. On the following day they started again at daybreak, and after they had gone a very short distance they found the river divided into two branches, one leading to the north-west and the other to the south. Following the former, they rowed all day up the stream, the banks of which were generally "immense perpendicular mountains of barren rock"; in some places "low marshy points covered with reeds or rushes" intervening between the banks and the mountains. Having found a tolerably dry spot at the foot of one of these hills, they camped for the night.

Their progress next day was considerably checked by large trees which had fallen from the banks, reaching almost across the river. It was now so narrow as hardly to deserve the name; and at last they found they had scarcely room for the oars or water enough to float the boats. Nothing was left but to go back; their estimated distance at this point from Mullet Island being thirty-four miles. Continuing their way down, they entered the southern branch of the river by six o'clock in the evening, and then camped. Proceeding up this part of it next day, they found it again divided into two other branches. Taking the one to the north, they found the water gradually becoming shoally, the depth being four to twelve feet; but Phillip, thinking that "it might lead to a good country, determined to go as high as the boats could find water." They followed the windings of the stream as far as they could go, and managed to cover about thirteen miles of it; the banks being much the same as those of the last, "high, steep, and rocky mountains, with many trees growing down their sides from between the rocks, where no one would believe there could be any soil to nourish them." Here Captain Hunter found the height of the opposite shore to be two hundred and fifty feet perpendicular above the level of the river, which was thirty fathoms wide at that point.

Passing next day into the second southern branch of the river they found deeper water, and rowed for thirteen or fourteen miles before camping for the night; but the country around them "wore a very unpromising aspect, being either high rocky shores or low marshy points." On the following day they went up about fourteen miles, the banks of the river being low and covered with trees which they called pine-trees, from the resemblance of its leaf to that of the European pine. The banks at this part of the river had the appearance of being ploughed up, "as if a vast herd of swine had been living on them." When they went on shore to examine the ground they found "the wild yam in considerable quantities, but in general very small, not larger than a walnut." The natives had done the ploughing.

While the boats were passing through a reach of the river, the great range of mountains, of which they had caught distant glimpses on former occasions, seemed suddenly quite close to them—as if a veil of clouds had rolled away in a moment. Phillip, generally happy in his selection of names, called them the Blue Mountains. {12} No doubt he began to realise, while gazing at the stupendous masses of rock split up into numberless gorges densely covered with timber, how difficult a task lay before the man who should venture to explore them. But his present purpose was not to force a passage, like another Hannibal, through the Alpine range before him, but to trace the river he had found to its source, and ascertain as far as possible how far the neighbouring country would serve the pressing needs of the settlement.

After passing the night at the foot of a hill, they continued their voyage up the river at daybreak on the following day, still finding deep water and a wide channel. But as they went on the water gradually became shallow and the channel narrow, showing that they were not very far from the source in the mountains. Towards evening, they found themselves at the foot of a mountain covered with lofty trees. but free from scrub; the country all around being pleasant to look upon, rich with grass, and without any of those rocky patches which met their eyes so often in other directions. The charms of the scenery led them to move some distance up the hill before they camped. In the stillness of the night they were startled by the roar of distant waters falling over rocks, and concluded at once that there was a cataract in the way which would stop their progress up the river.

In order to satisfy themselves on that point, they walked to the top of the hill next morning, when they saw an immense range of mountains only five or six miles off; between this range and the hill on which they stood—which Phillip had named Richmond Hill—lay a deep valley; while in the range itself they distinctly saw "a remarkable gully or chasm" about five miles away. On each side of this gigantic gap stood two hills, which Phillip had named the Carmarthen and Lansdowne Hills. After they had done justice to the scenery here, they descended the hill towards the river; but as it was low water and the boats could hardly float in it, they determined to wait for the next tide, and to spend the intervening time in exploring the country. They found it perfectly clear of scrub, the trees standing wide apart and all of a great height. The soil, too, was good; a small patch of it was turned up under Phillip's instructions, and a few potatoes, some Indian corn, melon, and other seeds were sown. It is pleasant to learn that it "was a common practice when a piece of ground, favourable from its soil and being in an unfrequented situation, was found, to sow a few seeds of different kinds", {13} and leave them to the kindly influences of nature. Some of the little gardens which had thus been planted in the wilderness were afterwards visited and found to be thriving, while others showed no return for the labour. This little instance of carefulness and forethought is characteristic of Phillip. Some of our subsequent explorers adopted a similar practice during their journeys in the far interior. It was on the same principle—suggested probably by Sir Joseph Banks—that Captain Cook used to leave pigs on the islands he visited; but in none of these cases were the benevolent anticipations realised, either as to the pigs or the gardens.

On the rising of the tide, the explorers returned to the river in the hope that they would soon be able to trace it to its source. They had not gone more than half a mile beyond the foot of Richmond Hill when they found the stream again dividing into two narrow branches, from one of which the water came down with a rush over a fall of stones apparently lying across its entrance. They now understood the noise of falling waters which had attracted their attention while lying round their camp-fires on the previous evening. Notwithstanding the noise, however, there was not depth enough for the boats to proceed any further; they were therefore obliged to give up the search, and with it the hope of tracing the river to its source in that direction. The next five days were occupied in the return to Mullet Island, many of the smaller branches being examined on the way.

While they were looking about them at the falls they were surprised to observe the signs of recent floods in the river; and further examination revealed to them the immense force of a mountain torrent descending from such a range as that before them. They saw large logs of timber, which had been lodged from thirty to forty feet above the level of the river, caught on their way down by the clefts in the branches of trees which had been strong enough to resist the onward sweep of the current. All these trees had been bent by the irresistible power of the flood; but most of them had been laid level with the ground on which they stood, "with their tops pointing down the river, as much as I ever saw a field of corn after a storm." The capacity for working wreck and ruin possessed by this little mountain torrent was evident enough even twelve or fourteen miles lower down, where the same sort of flood-marks were visible at twenty-eight feet above the surface of the water; although the common rise and fall of the tide did not appear to be more than six feet. But it was left for later colonists to learn at their cost what "a flood in the Hawkesbury" might mean at times.

The return of the explorers to Sydney Cove was marked by an incident, graphically described by Captain Hunter, {14} which shows how very difficult it was in those days to move about the country, even in the neighbourhood of the settlement. When they had arrived at the north part of Port Jackson—somewhere near Manly—they were unable to reach the settlement, no boat having been sent to meet them; and consequently they had to choose between walking round Middle Harbour to the cove in which the Sirius was lying, or walking back to Broken Bay, where they had left their boats. They were rescued from this dilemma by two of the men swimming across a narrow part of Middle Harbour, and thence making their way to Sirius Cove. "I cannot help here remarking", says Captain Hunter, "how providential it was that we did not all agree to walk round the north-west harbour"; and he then proceeds to describe their meeting with the unfortunate sailmaker of the Sirius, who had been four days lost in the bush, and was nearly dying from hunger and exhaustion. The picturesque places about the harbour, now so easily visited by holiday parties in the course of a day, were then traversed with very great fatigue and no little danger of being lost in the bush and starved to death. {15} The little journeys undertaken by Phillip from time to time may seem very small performances at the present day; but the difficulty of penetrating the country even for twenty or thirty miles inland can only be understood when we have fully realised the struggles of our hardy pioneers to reach the great barrier which blocked the way to the unknown plains of the west. It was only by repeated efforts to reach the mountains that the nature of the task was really comprehended. How little was known of it in the first instance may be seen in Captain Tench's unsuspecting allusion to it:—

At the distance of sixty miles inland, a prodigious chain of lofty mountains runs nearly in a north and south direction, further than the eye can trace them. Should nothing intervene to prevent it, the Governor intends shortly to explore their summits; and I think there can be little doubt that his curiosity will not go unrewarded. {16}

It took twenty-five years, and many painful efforts, to reach those summits. Phillip seems to have satisfied himself during his exploration of the Hawkesbury that in his weakened state of health the task was beyond his powers; at any rate he made no serious attempt to scale the mountains himself. But in December, 1789, a few months after his return from his last expedition, he despatched a small party under Lieutenant Dawes {17} for that purpose. They were out for nine days, and were then obliged to return; for in that time they had done nothing beyond struggling through the gullies and up the rocky hills which met them everywhere. Dawes calculated that he had reached within eleven miles of the range, and seemed to think that he had done something in getting so far—as no doubt he had; but the mountains were practically as far off as ever. Collins (p. 89) gives the following account of this expedition:—

Early in this month, Lieutenant Dawes, with a small party, taking with them just as much provisions as they could conveniently carry, set off on an attempt to reach the western mountains by and from the banks of the freshwater river, first seen some time since by Captain Tench, and supposed to be a branch of the Hawkesbury. From this excursion he returned on the ninth day without accomplishing his design, meeting with nothing after quitting the river but ravines that were nearly inaccessible. He had, notwithstanding the danger and difficulty of getting on through such a country, reached within eleven miles of the mountains, by computation. During his toilsome march he met with nothing very remarkable, except the impressions of a cloven foot of an animal, differing from other cloven feet by the great width of the division in each. He was not fortunate enough to see the animal that had made them. {18}

Another important discovery—that of the Nepean River—was made by Captain Tench in June, 1789. Having been placed in command of the redoubt at Rose Hill shortly before that date, he was unable to join the expedition which resulted in the discovery of the Hawkesbury; but the success achieved on that occasion inspired him with the ambition of acquiring some distinction in the capacity of an explorer. "Stimulated", as he put it, "by a desire of acquiring a further knowledge of the country", he set out from Rose Hill at daybreak on the 26th June, accompanied by the assistant surgeon of the settlement, the surgeon's mate of the Sirius, two marines, and a convict. They directed their march to a hill five miles off, in a westerly direction, which commanded "a view of the great chain of mountains called Carmarthen Hills, extending from north to south further than the eye can reach." Here they paused, gazing for a time at "the wild abyss" of impassable ranges which rose up before them, and considering the direction they should take. After some consultation, they determined to steer west and by north by compass, the make of the land in that quarter indicating the existence of a river. They continued their march all day—

through a country untrodden before by an European foot. Save that a melancholy crow now and then flew croaking overhead, or a kangaroo was seen to bound at a distance, the picture of solitude was complete and undisturbed. At four o'clock in the afternoon we halted near a small pond of water, where we took up our residence for the night, lighted our fire, and prepared to cook our supper—that was, to broil over a couple of ramrods a few slices of salt pork and a crow which we had shot. At daylight we renewed our peregrination; and in an hour afterwards we found ourselves on the banks of a river, nearly as broad as the Thames at Putney, and apparently of great depth, the current running very slowly in a northerly direction. Vast flocks of wild ducks were swimming in the stream; but after being once fired at, they grew so shy that we could not get near them a second time. Nothing is more certain than that the sound of a gun had never before been heard within many miles of this spot.

They followed the course of the river for the rest of that day, making slow progress "through reeds, thickets, and a thousand other obstacles, over coarse sandy ground which had been recently inundated, though full forty feet above the present level of the river." They came upon many traces of the natives, "sometimes in their hunting-huts—sometimes in marks on trees which they had climbed—or in squirrel-traps—or in decoys for ensnaring birds." Having remained out for three days, Tench returned to Rose Hill "with the pleasing intelligence of our discovery." The river was then named the Nepean by Phillip, after his friend Evan Nepean. The country they passed through was described as tolerably plain and little encumbered with underwood, except near the river side. {19}

The next attempt to penetrate the country was again made by Tench in August, 1790. In company with Dawes and Worgan, formerly surgeon of the Sirius, he proceeded in a south-west direction as far as a hill which he called Pyramid Hill. They came upon a river—"unquestionably the Nepean at its source"—to which they gave the name of the Worgan. Towards the end of the month, the same party made another excursion to the north-west of Rose Hill, when they again fell in with the Nepean, and traced it to the spot where Tench discovered it fourteen months before. No discoveries were made on these occasions, but something was added to the knowledge of the country. {20}

The unsuccessful attempts made by Dawes and others to reach the Blue Mountains did not, however, deter Phillip from making an effort to do so; and for that purpose he equipped another expedition, which set out from Rose Hill on the 11th April, 1791. {21} The party comprised, besides himself. Tench and Dawes, Judge-Advocate Collins and his servant, three convicts who were considered good shots, eight soldiers with two Serjeants, and Surgeon White; provisions for seven days being taken with them. "Every man (the Governor excepted)"—Tench tells us—"carried his own knapsack, which contained provisions for ten days; if to this be added a gun, a blanket, and a canteen, the weight will fall nothing short of forty pounds. Slung to the knapsack are the cooking kettle and the hatchet, with which the wood to kindle the nightly fire and build the nightly hut is to be cut down." Two friendly natives, Colebe and Ballederry—the latter had been living at Phillip's house for some time—being anxious to go with them, were allowed to do so, as "much information was expected from them." This was the first occasion on which convicts and blacks were employed in the work of exploration; but they were frequently taken on subsequent expeditions. The line of march taken by Phillip was from Rose Hill to the Hawkesbury, opposite Richmond Hill, then across the river, and so on to the mountains. Foreseeing that a few hours' rain at that time of the year might flood the river and so render their return a difficult matter, he proposed to cross it with only half-a-dozen persons, leaving the rest to construct a raft of light wood for the purpose of punting them over on their return; or if no wood could be found for that purpose, to help them across with lines which were taken with them. The first day's travelling was directed towards the north-west, so as to cross a part of the country which had not yet been explored. After passing several deep ravines and going round the heads of others, over a barren but well-timbered country, they found some good land before them, but it did not last long; for after a few hours walking they came to a dry, arid soil, mostly covered with loose stones. Having met with some pools of good water towards evening, they made their fires near them and laid down for the night. During the day they had seen large numbers of kangaroos—of which there were two varieties, a large grey one (patagorang), and a small red one (baggaray). So plentiful were these animals that in one herd alone there could not have been less than forty.

Starting again the next morning, a few hours brought them to the river, which at that point was about three hundred feet wide, with high banks; the soil about it being a light sand, extending several hundred yards from the river, and covered with fine straight timber. They were now eighteen and a half miles from Rose Hill. As the current in the river was running down, they set off to follow its windings; a man being told off to count his paces as he went, in order that "they might always know their situation in the woods, and the direction it would be necessary to take when they returned across the country." The party marched in Indian file, "the person who went first always falling into the rear whenever he found himself fatigued." During the day they saw "several good situations", as Phillip termed them—meaning sites for farms—on both sides of the river. As they moved along its banks, wild ducks were seen in great numbers on the water, but they were too shy to give anyone a shot at them. In the afternoon, they came upon a creek which they found too deep to cross, and were therefore obliged to leave the river in order to pass round the head of the creek; when they had done so, "they found themselves on the borders of a river not more than eighty feet wide", with low banks covered with brush. The land rose so much on their right that they could not see more than a hundred yards about them, and what they did see was not pleasant to look upon, being mostly a poor stony soil. The country through which they were moving was not by any means easy walking for men carrying their own provisions, so that they did not object to halt at four o'clock and make their fires for the night.

On the third day they continued following up the creek, which had now dwindled into a good-sized ditch, until they reached the head of it, where they were able to cross over. They then struck for the north-west in order to get to the river again; but they were soon stopped by a deep gully. On ascending a hill to their left, they saw the country open towards the west, and thought they could distinguish Richmond Hill—the southern extremity of the range—apparently about thirteen miles distant. To the little hill on which they stood Phillip gave the name of "Tench's Prospect Hill", that officer having then seen Richmond Hill from it for the first time. Here they seem to have found themselves in a difficulty, not knowing in what direction they should proceed. At last they determined to return to the point at which they had made the river the day before, and then to trace it westward until they had got opposite Richmond Hill. So they trudged back again to the head of the creek which they had crossed at noon; and when they had reached it they thought they had taken quite enough exercise for that day, and accordingly sat down to tea round their camp-fires.

They did not make a very early start next morning, as it was half-past seven when they crossed the creek. They then had some easy walking through a country full of timber and pleasing to the eye, but with a poor soil covered all over with stones. The next thing they came to was a swamp, where they had a little duck-shooting before they crossed it; after which they had no difficulty in reaching that part of the river where they had turned off from it on the second day of their journey. Thus they had not much to congratulate themselves upon for their four days' exertions. At this point, however, fortune befriended them in the shape of an old native, whom they saw paddling his own canoe in the river. They made their two natives coo-ee to him and invite him to come over, which he did without any hesitation, happening to know one of them. The stranger followed the explorers up the river in his boat; but as soon as he saw that they did not know how to save themselves unnecessary fatigue in walking, he was kind enough to leave it at once and take the lead, quickly bringing them into a path made by the natives along the river. Here they moved along easily; and after they had camped for the night they were joined by another native with a lively little boy, who soon became friendly with them, intimating their intention to stay, though they had left their families on the opposite bank of the river. In return for a biscuit, the old man who had acted as a guide gave an exhibition of his agility in climbing a tree—the finest exhibition of the kind which Phillip had yet seen.

On resuming the journey next day, the party continued to follow the natives' path along the bank until they came to another creek—too wide to be crossed by cutting down a tree, and too deep to be forded. They had no choice, therefore, but to follow its windings until they supposed themselves at the head of it, and then they made for the river again. But they had not gone far before they found they had only rounded a small branch of the creek; so that they had to follow up the principal branch of it—a task which occupied them for the rest of the day and gave them infinite labour to do it. In the afternoon they found it divide again into two branches, either of which might have been crossed on a tree; but by this time they were all worn out with fatigue, and therefore decided to take rest—especially as it threatened to rain heavily and they had no tent.

Here the two natives, who had been grumbling a good deal during the last day or two, began to grumble in a still louder key. One of them talked pathetically about his absent wife and child; while the other, when he saw the rain coming, reminded Phillip that there were good houses at Sydney and Rose Hill, but none there; no fish and no melon. They would not have felt any remorse in leaving the party had they not been afraid to return by themselves, knowing the danger of hostile spears. They had joined the expedition in the belief that it was a hunting excursion, got up for the purpose of shooting ducks and patagorangs; but when they saw that Phillip did not stop at the places where good sport might have been had, they began to wonder why he had left Rose Hill, and pressed him to return. The two natives were not the only members of the party who were dissatisfied with the results of the expedition. It was clear to all of them that their chance of exploring the Blue Mountains was a very poor one, seeing that they could not do a day's journey without being stopped by a creek or a gully, compelling them to go round it, and thus bringing them back to the place from which they started. Finding that the next two days would be taken up in getting to the opposite side of a creek not one hundred feet wide, Phillip determined to return at once to Rose Hill, sixteen miles from their camp. The next morning they started on their homeward journey and reached the settlement in the afternoon.

During this excursion they had a good opportunity for observing the singular precautions adopted by the natives when meeting each other unexpectedly in the bush; and as it was probably owing to neglect of similar precautions on the part of Europeans that many of the unfortunate collections took place with the natives, it is worth while to give Phillip's account of them. Soon after their camp-fires were lighted on the first evening they were out, the voice of a native calling his dog was heard in the bush; and as their natives wished to interview him, they coo-eed, and were answered by him. As his voice grew nearer, they desired the party to lie down and keep silence. They then advanced a little from their camp; but as the stranger approached they retreated, and as they advanced he was equally cautious. Meanwhile a light was seen moving towards them; they went forward to meet it, and on coming up to the bearer of it a conversation, at a respectful distance, took place between the parties. The fire—a piece of lighted bark from the tea-tree—was carried by a little boy who was made to walk in front, so that the man behind could see if the others were armed or not, while he kept himself behind the trees. When the friendly natives came up to him they told the boy their names and that of the tribe to which they belonged; the boy in return giving similar information on his side. The stranger then making his appearance, they gave him the names of the party, who were still at the camp-fire. On Phillip's approach the boy ran away but the man stood his ground, evidently not much at ease when he saw four or five white men near him—though none of them had arms in his hands. They were all introduced to the stranger by name, {22} and invited him to come to their fire, some fifty yards off; but he declined to do so on the plea that he had left his family behind him.

After the discovery of the Nepean in June, 1789, a question had arisen among the explorers whether that river and the Hawkesbury were really separate streams, or whether one was merely an affluent of the other. In order to settle the matter, Tench and Dawes—who seem to have interested themselves greatly in the work of exploration—made two excursions, one in August, 1790, which proved fruitless so far as this question was concerned; and the other in May, 1791. {23} The two officers, accompanied by two soldiers, started from Rose Hill, intending to make for that part of the river opposite Richmond Hill at which Phillip's party had arrived. The journey resulted in their ascertaining that the two rivers were in reality but one. {24} Tench's narrative of this expedition is distinguished by a sympathetic expression of his gratitude towards certain natives whom they met on their arrival at Richmond Hill. Finding it necessary to cross the river at that place, they were obliged to seek their assistance; and so far from taking advantage of helpless strangers, they cheerfully helped them out of their difficulty. After the party had been ferried across the river, the natives brought over the knapsacks and guns which had been left behind, and delivered them to their owners without making any attempt to seize or even handle them:—

During this long trial of their patience and courtesy, in the latter part of which I was entirely in their power from their having possession of our arms, they had manifested no ungenerous sign of taking advantage of the helplessness and dependence of our situation, no rude curiosity to pry into the packages with which they were entrusted, and no sordid desire to possess the contents of them; although among them were articles exposed to view of which it afterwards appeared they knew the use and longed for the benefit. Let the banks of those rivers "known to song"; let him whose travels have lain among polished nations, produce me a brighter example of disinterested urbanity than was shown by these denizens of a barbarous clime to a set of destitute wanderers on the side of the Hawkesbury.

This is a well deserved tribute to the merits of the aboriginal character; but it is not more emphatic than similar expressions of opinion on the part of Tench's contemporaries. It is well worthy of note that all who were at all qualified to form an opinion—especially Phillip, Hunter, and Collins, as well as Tench—seem to have formed a high opinion of the natives they met with, and to have been animated by the kindliest feelings towards them, notwithstanding their occasional outbreaks of savagery. As to their mental capacity. Tench did not hesitate to declare that "the natives of New South Wales possess a considerable portion of that acumen, or sharpness of intellect, which bespeaks genius." {25}

In following the course of Phillip's explorations—which are not always easily made out from the only records of them that have come down to us—the reader will find considerable assistance in a chart of the country constructed by Lieutenant Dawes, bearing date March, 1791. It will be seen that the whole extent of the country of which Phillip and his contemporaries had acquired any knowledge lay between Botany Bay and Broken Bay, and was practically bounded to the west by the rivers Hawkesbury and Nepean. The country beyond the Nepean had been penetrated, in December, 1789, as far as the hill marked Mount Twiss on the chart; but the difficulties attending any attempt to explore in that direction are amusingly indicated by the remarks which Dawes has sprinkled over his map Beyond Mount Twiss another mountain was seen, named Round Hill; and we are told that "of this hill the Governor desired that the summit might be attained, if possible; but on arriving at the western brow of it, a rugged country between it and Round Hill appeared." At another part we read that "all this country, as far as the eye can reach from very high hills, appears very mountainous and covered with trees." Statements of this kind may be taken to represent all that was then known of the country between the rivers and the Blue Mountains. But of Phillip's energy and determination to gain a satisfactory knowledge of the country some idea may be formed by the dotted lines marked on the chart, running from Rose Hill and Prospect Hill to the banks of the Hawkesbury and the Nepean. Dawes tells us that "the dotted lines show where it is intended to travel in the course of the winter months ensuing, of May, June, July, and August." From which it may be seen that plans had been formed for a thorough examination of the country lying between those boundaries.

The First Exploration Chart.
[Available at the National Library of Australia website as NLA Map nk2456-126-e]

Some portion of this work had been carried out in August, 1790; for it appears from the chart that an expedition had set out from Prospect Hill on the 1st August in that year; had passed beyond the "probable course of the river" (Nepean) to within a short distance of Pyramid Hill to the south on the 3rd; had then turned back towards the river, crossed it, and moved in a north-east direction, where it came on the 5th to a "country of coppices", and thence homewards to Prospect Hill. Another expedition seems to have started from that point later in the same month, travelling north-west till it came to "a lake of muddy water about thirty feet wide, apparently deep; in flood it rises twenty feet; the opposite bank rises beautifully to the height of about fifty feet." Thence the party struck off towards the Hawkesbury, passing through "swampy country" till it reached the river at a point above Richmond Hill; then following along the banks, where they found that "this bank is very sandy", and again, "sandy, the opposite bank is the same"; turning off towards home and passing through country described as "land various; in some parts very good, in others indifferent"; further on meeting with some better soil, "here the land in many places is very good"; and finally reaching home on August 27. It was in this way that the early settlers got to know the nature of the country round about them.

The last effort at exploration made by Tench and Dawes was in July, 1791, when they went in search of a large river supposed to exist a few miles to the southward of Rose Hill. They did not succeed in finding anything better than a salt-water creek running into Botany Bay, and on its banks they passed a miserable night from want of water to quench their thirst; for as they believed that they were going to a river they "thought it needless to march with full canteens." The most noticeable event on this occasion was the extraordinary degree of cold experienced on the road, when they were six miles south-west of Rose Hill. Tench's description of the scene is of sufficient interest to deserve quotation:—

The sun arose in unclouded splendour, and presented to our sight a novel and picturesque view; the contiguous country as white as if covered with snow, contrasted with the foliage of trees flourishing in the verdure of tropical luxuriance Even the exhalation which steamed from the lake beneath contributed to heighten the beauty of the scene. Nothing but demonstration could have convinced me that so severe a degree of cold ever existed in this low latitude. Drops of water on a tin-pot, not altogether out of the influence of the fire, were frozen into solid ice in less than twelve minutes. Part of a leg of kangaroo, which we had roasted for supper, was frozen quite hard, all the juices of it being converted into ice. On those ponds which were near the surface of the earth, the covering of ice was very thick; but on those which were lower down, it was found to be less so in proportion to their depression; and wherever the water was twelve feet below the surface (which happened to be the case close to us), it was uncongealed. {26}

Such is the history of exploration during Phillip's time. The narrative of his little excursions may provoke a smile at the present day, when contrasted with the exploits of later explorers who succeeded in crossing the continent from north to south and from east to west, in face of all the difficulties and dangers presented by mountain ranges, sandy deserts, flooded rivers, and sometimes hostile savages. There is no more comparison between Phillip's achievements and theirs, in one sense, than there is between a harbour excursion and an ocean voyage. But a little consideration will be enough to show that any such conclusion would be unjust to the founder of the colony. If his performances will not bear comparison with those of his more distinguished successors in the same fields it is because the difficulties in his path were, after all, as great in their way as any that others had to contend with. We have only to realise the position in which he was placed in order to see that, under the conditions he had to contend against, it was scarcely possible that the work of exploration could be attended with any marked success. The only means by which it could be accomplished at that time was by boats; for the moment that an exploring party set out to face the bush their progress was checked at every step. They took no horses either to ride or to carry provisions; consequently every man in the party had to walk, carrying his own supplies as well as his arms and ammunition; and as no one could possibly carry more than enough to supply him for eight or ten days, the limits of their exploring powers were very soon reached. If we add to all this the extreme fatigue of travelling in such a manner, without any means of fording a river or even a creek, without even a tent to sleep in at night, and with the constant apprehension of an attack from the natives, it will be seen that exploration under such circumstances was all but hopeless.

But for the discovery of the Hawkesbury, it would hardly have been possible to have made any way at all into the surrounding country. It was almost equivalent to the making of a road. Followed as it was shortly afterwards by the discovery of the Nepean, it enabled Phillip to gain some insight into the character of the country inland. Had the work of exploration been understood in his days, the advantage thus gained might certainly have been turned to better account. A depôt, for instance, might have been established at the foot of Richmond Hill, which would then have become a basis for further operations; and from that point excursions might have been made to the north-west with much less difficulty than when starting from Rose Hill. But neither Phillip nor any of his officers had yet learned the art of making their way through an unknown country, such as that which lay around them. They could not go five miles into the bush without running the risk of losing themselves. When they went on an overland expedition, one man of the party was told off to count his paces in order that they might have some idea as to where they were and how far they had travelled; a small pocket compass being the only instrument they had to guide them. Exploring in that fashion was mere groping in the dark. The explanatory notes made by Lieutenant Dawes on his map—the first exploring map constructed in the colony—show how much the land lay in darkness before him, with here and there a ray of light breaking through it. It was a matter of common occurrence for men to lose themselves in the bush, even in the neighbourhood of Sydney Cove and within sight of the harbour; so much so that the annual returns of casualties included a column under the heading—"Lost in the Bush."

The work actually accomplished by Phillip in this direction during his five years of office was nevertheless of the highest importance. Apart from the elaborate surveys of Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay, which were made by Captain Hunter under his direction—his exploration of the Hawkesbury and of the country which lay between it and Sydney Cove not only rescued the settlement from the peril of ultimate failure, but it may be said to have laid the foundation of all subsequent discoveries. No one can read the journals of Australian explorers without observing how much they were all indebted to the labours of those who had successively gone before them. If Oxley paved the way for Cunningham, Sturt, and Mitchell, they in their turn acted as unseen guides to Eyre and Grey, who again inspired Leichhardt, Burke, Stuart, and others with the hope of penetrating the continent from sea to sea. But Oxley, with whom the history of scientific exploration may be said to have begun, could not have accomplished what he did if Lawson, Blaxland, and Wentworth had not succeeded in finding a way for him over the Blue Mountains four years before he started from Bathurst Plains to trace the Macquarie and the Lachlan. Nor again could they have performed that task had it not been for the exertions of those who went before them in opening up the country to the banks of the Nepean and the Hawkesbury. Even the men who absolutely failed in their attempts to cross the mountains—Bass, Barrallier, and Caley, to say nothing of those who preceded them—may be said to have materially assisted Lawson and his party in solving the problem which had defied their own painful efforts. It was in this spirit that Forrest, who crossed from Perth to Adelaide round the Great Australian Bight, acknowledged that "the records of Eyre's expedition were of the greatest service to me, by at least enabling me to guard against a repetition of the terrible sufferings he endured." {27}


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"Phillip's journeys were almost continuous; in fact, as long as there was a question unsolved, or a hill in sight which he had not visited, he was always exploring."—Woods, History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia, p. 65.

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The bay referred to was not Port Jackson, as generally supposed, but Broken Bay. "The day after my arrival, the Governor, accompanied by me and two other officers, embarked in three boats, and proceeded along the coast to the northward, intending, if we could, to reach what Captain Cook has called Broken Bay."—Hunter, Journal, p. 42; post, p. 268 n.

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La Pérouse thought that "the Bay of Avatscha (in Kamschatka) is certainly the finest, safest, and most commodious that is possible to be found in any part of the globe." He added:—"Its entrance is narrow, and ships would be obliged to pass under the guns of the forts that might be erected. The bottom is mud, and excellent holding ground. Two spacious harbours, one on the east and the other on the west, are capable of receiving the whole of the French and English navies." It was in September, 1787, that the Boussole and the Astrolabe were lying in the bay of Avatscha; and on the 26th January of the following year they dropped anchor in Botany Bay. La Pérouse remained there till the 10th of March, but never felt sufficient interest in Port Jackson to visit it, although he heard many descriptions of it from Lieutenant King and the other English officers whom he met while at Botany Bay.

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Collins, p. 19.

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There is another Shell Cove in Middle Harbour, between Hunter's Kay and the Spit; and a third between Mossman's Bay (formerly called Great Sirius Cove) and Neutral Bay, so named by Phillip when he directed that all foreign ships entering the harbour should anchor there. "The Governor, thinking it probable that foreign ships might again visit this coast, and perhaps run into this harbour for the purpose of procuring refreshments, directed Mr. Blackburn to survey a large bay on the North Shore, contiguous to this cove; and a sufficient depth of water being found, his excellency inserted in the Port Orders that all foreign ships coming into this harbour should anchor in this bay, which he named Neutral Bay, bringing Rock Island to bear S.S.E., and the hospital on the west side of Sydney Cove to bear S.W. by W."—Collins, p. 64.

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Voyage, p. 98; post, p. 288.

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"On the coast fish makes a considerable part of their food, but when that cannot be had, it seems hardly possible that, with their spears, the only missile weapon yet observed among them, they should be able to procure any kind of animal food."—Phillip's Voyage, p. 102.

"The sea-coast, we have every reason at present to believe, is the only part of this country which is inhabited by the human race; the land seems to afford them but a very scanty subsistence."—Hunter, p. 65.

On the other hand, Vancouver, not finding any fish-bones or oyster-shells about the native camps at King George's Sound, concluded that the coast natives went inland for food.—Voyage, October, 1791.

The difficulty suggested by such casual observations as Vancouver's about the oysters is explained by the following passage from Eyre's Journals, referring to the oyster-beds he met with at Streaky Bay:—"Many drays might easily be loaded, one after the other, from these oyster-beds. The natives of the district do not appear to eat them, for I never could find a single shell at any of their encampments. It is difficult to account for the taste or prejudice of the native which guides him in his selection or rejection of particular kinds of food. What is eaten readily by the natives in one part of Australia is left untouched by them in another; thus the oyster is eaten at Sydney, and I believe at King George's Sound, but not at Streaky Bay. The unio or fresh-water muscle is eaten in great numbers by all the natives of New South Wales and South Australia, but Captain Grey found that a Perth native, who accompanied him on one of his expeditions, would not touch this kind of food even when almost starving. Snakes are eaten by some tribes, but not by others; and so with many other kinds of food which they make use of."—Journals, vol. i, p. 195.

"No part of the country is so utterly worthless as not to have attractions sufficient occasionally to tempt the wandering savage into its recesses In the arid, barren, naked plains of the north, with not a shrub to shelter him from the heat, not a stick to burn for his fire (except what he carried with him), the native is found, and where, as far as I could ascertain, the whole country around appeared equally devoid of either animal or vegetable life. In other cases, the very regions which, in the eyes of the European, are most barren and worthless, are to the native the most valuable and productive. Such are dense brushes or sandy tracts of country covered with shrubs, for here the wallabie, the opossum, the kangaroo rat, the bandicoot, leipoa, snakes, lizards, iguanas, and many other animals, reptiles, birds, &c, abound; whilst the kangaroo, the emu, and the native dog are found upon their borders, or in the vicinity of those small grassy plains which are occasionally met with amidst the closest brushes."—Eyre, Journals, p. 351.

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"The month of November commenced with the establishment of a settlement at the head of the harbour. On the 2nd, his excellency the Governor went up to the Crescent with the Surveyor-General, two officers, and a small party of marines, to choose the spot, and to mark out the ground for a redoubt and other necessary buildings; and two days after a party of ten convicts, being chiefly people who understood the business of cultivation, were sent up to him, and a spot upon a rising ground, which his excellency named Rose Hill, in compliment to G. Rose, Esq., one of the Secretaries of the Treasury, was ordered to be cleared for the first habitations. The soil at this spot was of a stiff clayey nature, free from that rock which everywhere covered the surface of Sydney Cove, well clothed with timber, and unobstructed by underwood."—Collins, p. 45.

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He had luckily brought out with him from England a man-servant who, according to Collins (p. 64), "joined to much agricultural knowledge a perfect idea of the labour to be required from, and that might be performed by, the convicts; and whose figure was calculated to make the idle and the worthless shrink if he came near them." This man was said to be the only free person the colony who had any knowledge of farming; post, p. 351.

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Frequent reference is found in the Journals of subsequent explorers to the native paths met with in the interior, and which frequently proved of essential service in leading them to water. Captain Sturt came upon the Darling River while following a track made by the natives:—"As the path we had observed was leading northerly, we took up that course, and had not proceeded more than a mile upon it when we suddenly found ourselves on the banks of a noble river."—Two Expeditions, p. 85. Eyre was indebted to these paths on several occasions for water while making his way among the sand-drifts along the Great Australian Bight to King George's Sound.

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Hunter, p. 143.

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"Called by the Governor the Blue Mountains."—Hunter, p. 150.

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Hunter, p. 152; Captain Grey made an elaborate attempt to introduce plants, seeds, and animals in this manner during his expedition to the north-west coast in 1837. A large stock was collected by him in England, at Teneriffe, the Cape, and Timor. On leaving Hanover Bay, where he had made a garden, he wrote:—"I considered what a blessing to the country these plants must eventually prove, if they should continue to thrive as they had yet done; and as I called to mind how much forethought and care their transportation had occasioned, I would very gladly have passed a year or two of my life in watching over them, and seeing them attain to a useful maturity. One large pumpkin plant in particular claimed my notice. The tropical warmth and rain, and the virgin soil in which it grew, had imparted to it a rich luxuriance; it did not creep along the ground, but its long shoots were spreading upwards amongst the trees. The young cocoa-nuts grew humbly amidst the wild plants and reeds—their worth unknown. Most of these plants I had placed in the ground myself, and had watched their early progress; now they must be left to their fate." Eleven Timor ponies were turned out at the same place:—"Two good mares which were among them might possibly be the means of giving a very valuable race of horses to this country. The companions of our weary wanderings were turned loose,—a new race upon the land; and, as we trusted, to become the progenitors of a numerous herd."—Journals, p. 2.36. Planting vegetables on the islands they called at was a common practice among the whalers; Memoirs of Joseph Holt, vol. ii, p. 353.

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Post, p. 518.

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"In many of these arms (of the harbour), when sitting with my companion at my ease in a boat, I have been struck with horror at the bare idea of my being lost in them; as, from the great similarity of one cove to another, the recollection would be bewildered in attempting to determine any relative situation. It is certain that if destroyed by no other means, insanity would accelerate the miserable end that would ensue."—Collins, p. 69.

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Narrative, p. 118.

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Then in charge of the observatory which had been put up on Point Maskelyne—so named after Dr. Maskelyne, the Astronomer Royal of the time—but afterwards called Dawes' Point, "to receive the astronomical instruments which had been sent out by the Board of Longitude for the purpose of observing the comet which was expected to be seen about the end of this year."—Collins, p. 15. Dawes was also "directed in public orders to act as officer of artillery and engineers; in consequence of which the ordnance of the settlement, and the constructing of a small redoubt on the east side, were put under his directions"; p. 26. The small redoubt was long afterwards known as Dawes' Battery.

{18} {return}

Captain Grey came upon similar tracks while exploring in the north-west, between Hanover Bay and the river Glenelg:—"I have to record the remarkable fact of the existence in these parts of a large quadruped with a divided hoof. This animal I have never seen, but twice came upon its traces. On one occasion I followed its track for above a mile and a half, and at last altogether lost it in rocky ground. The foot-marks exceeded in size those of a buffalo, and it was apparently much larger, for where it had passed through brushwood, shrubs of considerable size in its way had been broken down, and from the openings there left I could form some comparative estimate of its bulk. These tracks were first seen by a man who had joined me at the Cape, and who had there been on the frontier during the Caffre war; he told me that he had seen the spur of a buffalo, imagining that they were here as plentiful as in Africa. I conceived at the time that he had made some mistake, and paid no attention to him until I afterwards twice saw the same traces myself.—Journals, p. 242.

{19} {return}

Complete Account, p. 27.

{20} {return}

Ib., pp. 52, 53. Péron, the naturalist of the French Expedition of 1801, wrote an amusingly inaccurate account of these excursions:—Ce ne fut qu'au mois de décembre 1789 que le Gouvemement lui-même crut devoir s'occuper, d'une manière particulière, des montagnes de l'ouest. Le Lieutenant Dawes partit, à l'effet de les reconnôitre, avec un gros détachment de troupes et des vivres pour dix journées de marche; mais, apres neuf jours de fatigues et de dangers, il revint au Port Jackson, sans avoir pu s'avancer au dela de neuf milles dans l'intérieur des montagnes. D'après son rapport, il avoit êté arrêté par des ravins impraticables, par des chaînes de rochers très-hautes, très escarpées et bordées de précipices.

Huit mois après l'expédition du Lieutenant Dawes, c'est à dire au mois d'aôut 1790, le Capitaine Tench partit lui-même avec une forte escorte de soldats et tous les objets necessaires pour tenter de nouveau le passage des montagnes bleues; mais cette excursion ne fut pas plus heureuse que la première.—Voyage, vol. i, p. 390.

{21} {return}

Hunter, p. 512; Tench, Complete Account, p. 112.

{22} {return}

The custom of introducing strangers by name, individually, was general among all the tribes. Cook relates that, while his ship was lying in the Endeavour River—12 July, 1770—"three Indians ventured down to Tupia's tent, and were so well pleased with their reception that one of them went with their canoe to fetch two others whom we had never seen; when he returned, he introduced the strangers by name, a ceremony which, upon such occasions, was never omitted".

{23} {return}

Tench, Complete Account, p. 127; Hunter, p. 530.

{24} {return}

"The Nepean or Cowpasture River is a fine stream, rising a few miles north of Berrima and flowing in a northerly direction through a fine agricultural district into the Hawkesbury River, between Penrith and Richmond, or at the confluence of the Grose River. The Nepean is, in fact, only another name for the upper end of the Hawkesbury. It is fed by numerous tributary streams, the principal of which are the Wattle, Mount Hunter, Stonequarry, and Myrtle Creeks; and the Warragamba, Bargo, Cordeaux, and the Cataract Rivers. The Nepean flows past the townships of Picton, Riversford, and Camden."—Whitworth, New South Wales Gazetteer.

{25} {return}

Complete Account, p. 188.

{26} {return}

Complete Account, p. 130.

{27} {return}

Forrest, Explorations in Australia, p. 11.

1.16 EXPLORATION BY SEA. [1788-92]

THE course of events at sea during Phillip's time is so much a matter of historical interest that, although not immediately connected with his own work, it is well to bear it in mind, if only for the purpose of obtaining a connected view of the progress of exploration and discovery.

In February, 1788, Lieutenant Ball, of the Supply, while on his way to Norfolk Island, discovered an island which he named Lord Howe Island. On his voyage to Batavia and back in 1790 he sailed round New Holland, and was the first navigator who is known to have done so. {1}

In July, 1789, Captain Cox of the brig Mercury discovered a bay in the south coast of Van Diemen's Land, called Cox Bight; and also another bay, known as Oyster Bay, on the inner side of Maria's Island. {2}

Towards the end of the year 1791, Lieutenant McCluer, of the Bombay marine, sighted Arnhem's Land and sailed along the coast, westward, till he reached Cape Van Diemen. {2}

Two of the transports which arrived in Port Jackson in August, 1791, brought with them intelligence of discoveries made during their passage. The ship Atlantic, on the evening before her arrival, ran into a harbour on the coast which the naval agent on board named Jervis Bay. The Matilda anchored in a bay of one of Schouten's Islands, off the east coast of Van Diemen's Land, which the master named Matilda Bay. {3}

On the 21st August, 1788, Lieutenant Bligh, then in command of the Bounty, bound to the Society Islands on the bread-fruit mission, anchored in Adventure Bay, on the east coast of Van Diemen's Land, and remained there a fortnight, taking in wood and water, and endeavouring to obtain some knowledge of the country and its native population. He had seen the bay on a former occasion, when sailing with Captain Cook in the Resolution and Discovery, in January, 1777; but he found no sign of any European vessels having been there since their visit. During his stay a number of whales made their appearance in the bay, for several days together. He sailed away from it on the 4th September, after having made a very careful plantation of vegetables, grain, and fruit-trees.

Early in May, 1789, Bligh began that portion of his celebrated voyage in the Bounty's launch which took him along the north-east coast of New Holland. On the 27th—a month after he had been put over the ship's side by the mutineers—he recorded that "we passed much driftwood this fore-noon, and saw many birds; I, therefore, did not hesitate to pronounce that we were near the reefs of New Holland",—known to him as the reefs on which the Endeavour struck in 1770. His reason for making the coast so far to the south was that he never doubted of numerous openings in the reef, through which he could have access to the shore. On the following day, "as we advanced within the reefs, the coast began to show itself very distinctly, in a variety of high and low land." Selecting one or two islands before him for a resting-place, he "found a bay and a fine sandy point to land at"; {4} and there they remained for two days, recruiting themselves with oysters, wild fruit, and fresh water. Keeping on his course till he had doubled Cape York, on the 3rd of June he arrived at an island which he "found was only a rock where boobies resort, for which reason I called it Booby Island. Here terminated the rocks and shoals of the north part of New Holland"; and he adds:—

I have little doubt but that the opening, which I named the Bay of Islands, is Endeavour Straits; and that our track was to the northward of Prince of Wales's Isles. {5}

There is some interest in the passage in which Cook referred to this "opening", on the 23rd August, 1770:—

To this channel, or passage, I have given the name of the ship, and called it Endeavour Streights.

Cook, it seems, had not then read Dalrymple's Account of the Discoveries in the South Pacific Ocean previous to 1764, published in 1767—the year before the Endeavour sailed—in which he showed that Torres had sailed through the Straits in 1606.

When the news of Bligh's voyage reached the settlement at Sydney Cove, it inspired some of the more daring convicts with fresh hopes of escaping from their prison. {6} The most adventurous of the many attempts made for this purpose was that of a man named William Bryant, who, accompanied by his wife and two children and seven men, sailed away from the port in a cutter which had been placed under his charge for fishing purposes. This event took place on the night of the 28th March, 1791. Bryant and two or three of the men with him had some knowledge of navigation as well as the management of a boat; and having obtained a compass, quadrant, and chart from the master of a Dutch vessel lying in the harbour, they steered for Timor. Tench obtained the following account from one of them:—

They coasted the shore of New Holland, putting occasionally into different harbours which they found in going along. One of these harbours, in the latitude of 30° south, {7} they described to be of superior excellence and capacity. Here they hauled their bark ashore, paid her seams with tallow, and repaired her. But it was with difficulty they could keep off the attacks of the Indians. These people continued to harass them so much that they quitted the mainland and retreated to a small island in the harbour, where they completed their design. Between the latitude of 26° and 27°, they were driven by a current thirty leagues from the shore among some islands, where they found plenty of large turtles. Soon after they closed again with the continent, where the boat got entangled with the surf and was driven on shore, and they had all well nigh perished. They passed through the Straits of Endeavour, and beyond the Gulf of Carpentaria found a large fresh-water river which they entered, and filled from it their empty casks.

Until they reached the Gulf, they saw no natives or canoes differing from those about Port Jackson; but now they were chased by large canoes, fitted with sails and lighting-stages, and capable of holding thirty men each. They escaped by dint of rowing to windward. On the 5th of June, 1791, they reached Timor. {8}

Here they were received with kindness by the Dutch, until the arrival of Captain Edwards, of H.M.S. Pandora, at Timor, led to their detection, when they were immediately arrested, lodged in prison, and afterwards handed over to him to be conveyed to England. Tench notices, as a peculiar coincidence, that the woman and one of the men were in the same ship as himself when the First Fleet sailed for Botany Bay; and that on the arrival of H.M.S. Gorgon, in which he was a passenger, at the Cape of Good Hope in March, 1792, they were put on board that ship to be taken back to England for trial.

On the wreck of the Pandora during her voyage in search of the Bounty mutineers, the officers and crew who had escaped from the wreck, to the number of ninety-two, with ten prisoners, made a voyage of eleven hundred miles in four of the ship's boats, from the reef on which the ship struck along the northern coast of New South Wales to Coepang. The wreck took place on the 28th August, 1791, and the boats reached Batavia on the 16th September. {9}

The expedition, comprising the ships Recherche and Esperance, sent out by the French Government under the Command of Rear-Admiral Bruni d'Entrecasteaux and Captain Huon de Kermadéc, for the purpose of ascertaining the fate of La Pérouse, anchored in Storm Bay on the 21st April, 1792; and during their stay there, which lasted until the 16th of May, the Frenchmen surveyed and named various places on the coast, including d'Entrecasteaux Channel, the entrance to the rivers Huon and Derwent, Bruni Island, Port Esperance, and Recherche Bay—names which have since retained their places on the map.

It was in September, 1791, while Phillip was exploring the country around Rose Hill, that Captain Vancouver sighted the south-west coast of New Holland and discovered King George's Sound. He remained there for some weeks; and after having explored the Sound and done full justice to the oysters, he sailed away to the east—thus losing the opportunity of making those discoveries which afterwards moved the ambitious spirit of Flinders. The dangerous nature of the navigation along the coast, added to want of time for prosecuting the work of discovery in these seas. are the reasons given by Vancouver for abandoning it at the very time when it seemed to promise good results for his labour. It was in much the same way that Captain Furneaux, after his separation from Captain Cook in 1773, contented himself with a few days' sailing along the coast of Van Diemen's Land from Adventure Bay, and then bore away to New Zealand—leaving it to Bass to discover the straits which have made his name immortal. "It is my opinion", said Furneaux, "that there is no straits between New Holland and Van Diemen's Land, but a very deep bay"; and yet he had left Adventure Bay only four days before, "intending to coast it up along shore, till we should fall in with the land seen by Captain Cook, and discover whether Van Diemen's Land joins with New Holland." A still more singular opinion was left on record by Captain Cook after he had passed some days in Adventure Bay, on his third voyage in January, 1777. As if he felt it necessary to offer some reason for not having made further explorations while on the coast, he wrote;—"Van Diemen's Land has been twice visited before"; (by Tasman and Furneaux). {10} "I need hardly say that it is the southern point of New Holland." When he sighted Point Hicks, in 1770, he was in doubt as to whether Van Diemen's Land formed part of New Holland or not, and accordingly said:—"I cannot determine whether it joins to Van Diemen's Land or not." Between that date and 1777 he seems to have made up his mind on the point, relying on the report made by Furneaux.

These are curious instances of the indifference felt with respect to the exploration of the coast of New Holland. The discovery of a north-west passage, or a supposed continent towards the South Pole, was looked upon as the only object that could seriously deserve attention on the part of the Governments as well as the great geographers of the time. In 1745, an Act of Parliament offered a reward of £20,000 for the discovery of a passage from the North Atlantic to the North Pacific through Hudson's Bay. When it became known that no such passage existed, another Act, passed in 1776, offered the same reward for the discovery "of any northern passage for vessels by sea between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans". Cook's second voyage was made for the purpose of determining "whether the unexplored part of the Southern hemisphere be only an immense mass of water, or contain another continent"—a question of speculative geography, which, as he states in his introduction, "had long engaged the attention, not only of learned men, but of most of the maritime powers of Europe." In pursuit of this object, he sailed south among the icebergs with as much prospect of discovering another continent as Frobisher had of finding the "golde mynes" he was sent to search for in the northern seas. Judging from this instance, speculative geography in the days of George the Third seems to have been no wiser than speculative gold-mining in the days of Queen Elizabeth.

It seems to have been assumed by the geographers, after the publication of Cook's Second Voyage, that the question whether Van Diemen's Land formed part of New Holland or not had been satisfactorily settled by Captain Furneaux. The introduction to the account of that voyage, published in 1784, after quoting Cook's statement that he could not determine the question, proceeds to say:—

But what was thus left undetermined by the operations of his first voyage, was, in the course of his second, soon cleared up; Captain Furneaux, in the Adventure, having explored Van Diemen's Land from its southern point along the east coast, far beyond Tasman's station, and on to the latitude 38°, where Captain Cook's examination of it in 1770 had commenced.

This statement, however, is not supported by Furneaux's account of his voyage. He tells us that he discontinued his northerly course at latitude 39° and steered for New Zealand, by doing which he just missed the discovery of the straits.

In the latitude 40° 50', the land trends away to the westward, which I believe forms a deep bay, as we saw from the deck several smokes arising aback of the islands that lay before it, when we could not see the least signs of land from the mast-head.

Thus, while Furneaux was making up his mind that "there is no straits between Van Diemen's Land and New Holland, but a very deep bay", the straits in question lay right before him. Had he been really intent on settling the matter, he could have done it in a few days. It was an easier thing, no doubt, to write "there is no straits between New Holland and Van Diemen's Land", than to sail along the coast and prove it. But if it is difficult to understand how a professional explorer could so easily satisfy himself on such a point, it is not less surprising to find the geographers of the day readily accepting such a statement as a satisfactory settlement of the question. How little attention was devoted to the matter may be seen from another singular assertion in the introduction to Cook's Third Voyage, published in 1784:—

It is no longer a doubt that we have now a full knowledge of the whole circumference of this vast body of land, this fifth part of the world.

Of the whole circumference in question, one portion only could be said to have been at all known—the strip of coastline explored by Cook. So far as the rest of it was concerned, the knowledge possessed in his day was confined to the very meagre information obtained from Dampier and the Dutch navigators who had touched at different points of the coast—north, north-west, and south. But they did not pretend to give the world anything like a full knowledge of the country they had visited. Even Dampier's narrative, precise as it is when compared with the accounts left by the Dutchmen, is more like the composition of a traveller seeking to gratify the curiosity of his readers with strange tales, than the journal of an explorer devoted to geographical discovery. He seems to be largely responsible for the indifference with which the exploration of New Holland was regarded in Europe, even down to the days of Captain Cook. The picture he had drawn of the country was discouraging in the extreme; and yet his examination of the north-west coast was but a superficial one at best, extending over a very limited time and confined within a narrow range of observation. The prevalence of an unfavourable opinion with respect to the character of the country will probably account for the neglect of its exploration. If it had been regarded as a matter of any importance, instructions would have been given to Captain Cook, or to some of his contemporaries, to explore those portions of the coast-line which had not been visited by the Dutch. But no such instructions were given; and, as it turned out, the exploration of the eastern coast was rather a matter of accident than design. Before he sailed in the Endeavour, he was instructed to explore New Zealand after the astronomical observations at Otaheite were completed, and then to return to England by such route as he should think proper. {11} When he had completed the examination of the islands, he had to determine which of the three routes before him he should take on his voyage home.

I had myself a strong desire to return by Cape Horn, because that would have enabled me finally to determine whether there is or is not a southern continent; but against this it was a sufficient objection that we must have kept in a high southern latitude in the very depth of winter, with a vessel which was not thought sufficient for the undertaking; and the same reason was urged against our proceeding directly for the Cape of Good Hope with still more force, because no discovery of moment could be hoped for in that rout; it was therefore resolved that we should return by the East Indies, and that with this view we should, upon leaving the coast, steer westward, till we should fall in with the east coast of New Holland, and then follow the direction of that coast to the northward till we should arrive at its northern extremity; but if that should be found impracticable, it was further resolved that we should endeavour to fall in with the land, or islands, said to have been discovered by Quiros. {12}


{1} {return}

Tench, Complete Account, p. 72. Phillip's Voyage, p. 189, contains an account of Lieutenant Shortland's discovery of a reef, which he named Middleton Shoals. See Collins, vol. i, p. 76; vol. ii, p. 137.

{2} {return}

Flinders, Introduction, pp. xci, xv.

{3} {return}

Tench, Complete Account, p. 136; Collins, pp. 171-3.

{4} {return}

Bligh, Voyage to the South Sea, pp. 45-53.

{5} {return}

In 1792, Captain Bligh, in H. M.S. Providence, explored a passage through Torres Straits on his return voyage from Tahiti to the West Indies. Lieutenant Flinders served on this expedition, and left an account of it in the introduction to his work, p. xix.

{6} {return}

"After the escape of Captain Bligh, which was well known to us, no length of passage or hazard of navigation seemed above human accomplishment."—Tench, Complete Account, p. 108. The facts relating to Bryant's escape are related by Collins, pp. 156, 218, and also by Tench.

{7} {return}

Either Shoal Bay, latitude 29° 43' south, discovered by Flinders in 1799, or Port Macquarie, latitude 31° 25' 45" south, discovered by Oxley in 1828.

{8} {return}

Complete Account, p. 108.

{9} {return}

Hamilton, Voyage Round the World in H.M. Frigate Pandora, pp. 104-137; Flinders, Introduction, p. xvii; plate xiii.

{10} {return}

And by Captain Marion in 1772; but the account of his voyage was not published in Paris until 1783.—Voyage towards the South Pole, p. xxiii.

{11} {return}

Voyage towards the South Pole, general introduction, p. xx. Cook passed nearly six months—from the 6th October, 1769, to the 31st March, 1770—in exploring the coasts of New Zealand, during which he sailed round them and ascertained the existence of the islands it comprises. But he was only four months on the coast of New South Wales, nearly two of which were passed in the Endeavour River; so that his available time for exploration was limited to two months—one-third of the time devoted to New Zealand. The reason for his careful examination of that country may be found in "a favourite opinion amongst geographers", since Tasman's time, that New Zealand was part of a southern continent. The existence of such a continent was contended for by de Brosses and Dalrymple on the ground that the ascertained body of land in the northern hemisphere required a similar extent of it in the southern, in order to balance the globe.

{12} {return}

Hawkesworth, vol. iii, pp. 432-3. Compare Sydney Parkinson's Journal of a Voyage to the South Seas, 1784, p. 124.

1.17 PHILLIP AND HIS STAFF. [1787-92]


IT is not possible to estimate Phillip's position in the colony accurately without some reference to the principal members of the establishment of which he was the head. Each of these men bore an active part in carrying on the work with which the Governor was entrusted, and the services rendered by them in their several capacities deserve some distinct recognition. Two of them. Hunter and King, succeeded him in the government of the colony, and a third, Collins, became Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land. In their cases as well as in his, it is necessary, in order to understand the course of events, to ascertain as far as possible the character of the individual as well as the nature and extent of his work; but to do this requires us to trace each man's career from the beginning, as we find it recorded in the annals of the time. So far as the principal figures on the stage are concerned, there is not much difficulty in doing so, owing in a great measure to the fact that they left behind them a good deal of useful material for the purpose in the shape of their own journals. They stand out distinctly enough. That Phillip was, on the whole, fortunate in the selection of colleagues made for him in England may be admitted, notwithstanding the complaints he had occasionally to make. With one exception—that of the commanding officer of the marines—they appear to have been all more or less active, if not enthusiastic, in the performance of their duties. He had a personal friend as well as an efficient officer in Lieutenant King of the Sirius, whose services at Norfolk Island proved of no little value to him. On the other hand, he was painfully hampered by the want of cordiality shown by Major Ross; while his difficulties were often aggravated by the fact that the head of the judicial department was by no means qualified for the post in which he found himself installed. With these exceptions, Phillip seems to have had little reason to find fault with his officers. Had fortune so far favoured him as to secure a zealous co-operation on the part of the military, and a wise as well as a humane administration of justice, many obstacles would have been removed from his path, while his work would have been made comparatively easy.

First on the list stands Captain Hunter of the Sirius, whose Historical Journal forms a valuable contribution to the history of the colony. The work affords good evidence of an intelligent if not of a highly cultivated mind, and it shows in a very conspicuous manner the great interest he felt in the foundation of the colony. Recollecting that naval officers in his day were not usually men of much educational attainments. Hunter's book deserves to be regarded as a highly creditable performance. The strictly nautical details to which he could hardly avoid giving a prominent place in its pages, show him to have been an accomplished as well as a careful seaman, although he was unfortunate enough to lose the Sirius at the very time when her services were of vital importance to the starving population of Sydney Cove. {2} But his mind was large enough for something more than navigation; and although he does not enter into any expression of his personal views or feelings on the subject, his reader soon begins to see that the captain of the Sirius had his heart in the work in which he was engaged. He was an active as well as a cordial colleague of Phillip in every thing that could tend to promote the interest of the settlement. Difficulties did not keep him idle. A few days after his arrival with the transports in Port Jackson, he set off with a six-oared boat and a smaller one, for the purpose of making as good a survey of the harbour as circumstances would admit. His tracings of the survey, as well as his chart of the coast between Botany Bay and Broken Bay, published at page 101 of his quarto, remain to show how well the work was done. The interest he took in the exploration of the country inland led him to publish at the same time a "Map of all those Parts of the Territory of New South Wales which have been seen by any person belonging to the Settlement established at Port Jackson", constructed by Lieutenant Dawes in March, 1791. As the first of all our exploration maps, it has historical as well as geographical interest, and deserves to be carefully studied by those who would understand the history of Australian exploration in its earliest stage. Another useful map, representing the progress of the settlement, was drawn by Hunter in 1798, and published by Collins in the second volume of his work, facing the title-page. The original tracing contains a note in Hunter's handwriting, informing us that "the red lines show the country which has been lately walked over." The exploration of the unknown interior interested him, apparently, quite as much as it did Phillip, whom he accompanied on several expeditions. He was one of the party which discovered the Hawkesbury River, and his account of the journey is full of interest. It was on this occasion that they met with the interesting little adventure with the young native woman and her child, sketched by Hunter on the spot, an engraving of which appears on his title-page. On this as on other occasions he showed how warmly he seconded Phillip's efforts to gain the good-will of the natives, by treating them with kindness, especially when in distress.

The first flag-staff and look-out station at the South Head were put up by Hunter at his own suggestion, at a time when every eye in the settlement was anxiously turned in that direction in the hope of seeing a ship from England with supplies. This was in January, 1790, when the provisions in the public store were not enough to last more than six months, even at half the usual allowance.

We all looked forward with hope for arrivals with a relief; and that every assistance necessary for strangers might be at hand, I offered, with a few men from the Sirius, to go down to the south head of the harbour, there to build a look-out house and erect a flag-staff upon the height, which might be seen from the sea; and which might also communicate information of ships in the offing to the Governor at Sydney Cove. The Governor approved of my proposals. I went down with six men, and was accompanied by Mr. White and Mr. Worgan, the surgeons of the settlement and Sirius. We erected a flag-staff and lived in a tent for ten days, in which time we compleated a tolerably good house. At the end of ten days I was relieved by Mr. Bradley with a fresh party. {3}

During Phillip's residence in the colony. Hunter made a voyage in the Sirius to the Cape of Good Hope to obtain further supplies of provisions; sailing in September, 1788, and returning in May of the following year. He concluded his account of the voyage with a remark which shows the opinion he had formed with respect to the existence of a strait between New Holland and Van Diemen's Land—a matter which had been a subject of speculation for many years among navigators.

In passing (at a distance from the coast) between the Islands of Schouten and Furneaux and Point Hicks—the former being the northernmost of Captain Furneaux's observations here, and the latter the southernmost part, which Captain Cook saw when he sailed along the coast—there has been no land seen; and from our having felt an easterly set of current, when the wind was from that quarter (north-west), we had an uncommon large sea, there is reason thence to believe that there is in that space either a very deep gulf or a straight, which may separate Van Diemen's Land from New Holland. {4}

The opinion then formed was afterwards confirmed by Bass's voyage in the whaleboat. In December, 1797, when Hunter was Governor of the colony, he supplied Bass with the boat and a crew of volunteers from the men-of-war in port, for the purpose of exploring the coast to the south and south-west. The results were reported to the Secretary of State by Hunter in a despatch, in which he said that Bass, when at Western Port,—

found an open ocean westward, and by the mountainous sea which rolled from that quarter, and no land discoverable in that direction, we have much reason to conclude that there is an open straight through, between the latitude 39° and 40° south, a circumstance which, from many observations made upon tides and currents thereabouts, I had long conjectured.

The existence of this strait was a subject of discussion in Cook's time, but we have seen that Furneaux reported against it, and his opinion apparently satisfied Cook. Hunter's observations during the voyage with the First Fleet seem to have led him to a different conclusion, in which he was confirmed on his subsequent voyage from the Cape of Good Hope. Referring to the run up the coast on the former occasion. Tench remarked:—

Owing to the weather, which forebade any part of the ships engaging with the shore, we are unable to pronounce whether or not a straight intersects the continent thereabouts; though I have been informed by a naval friend that, when the fleet was off this part of the coast, a strong set off shore was plainly felt.

The naval friend was most probably Captain Hunter, whose skill as a navigator was shown throughout the passage. When "the long wished for shores of Van Diemen" appeared in sight, his passengers were surprised to find that he had predicted the hour at which land would be seen:—

We made the land at two o'clock in the afternoon [of the 7th January, 1788], the very hour we expected to see it from the lunar observations of Captain Hunter, whose accuracy as an astronomer and conduct as an officer had inspired us with equal gratitude and admiration.

After the wreck of the Sirius in March, 1790, at Norfolk Island, Hunter remained there in weary captivity with the officers and crew of the ship, to the number of eighty, for eleven mouths, no means being available for taking them to England. The Supply had been sent to Batavia in order that a Dutch ship might be chartered and laden with provisions for the settlement; and on her return she was again sent to Norfolk Island in order to bring away the shipwrecked crew.

This information I received with joy, as our situation was now become exceedingly irksome; we had been upon this small island eleven months, and during a great part of that time, through various causes, had been oppressed by feelings more distressing than I can find words to express.

They left the island in February, 1791, and on reaching Sydney, Hunter learned that Phillip had made a contract with the master of the Dutch snow, then lying in the harbour, for the passage of the officers and crew to England—

a piece of information which I did not by any means feel a pleasure in hearing; for, anxious as I was to reach England as soon as possible, I should with much patience rather have waited the arrival of an English ship, than embarked under the direction or at the disposal of a foreigner.

The mistrust of foreigners shown in this instance seems to have been a common feeling among English officers at the time. When King reached the Cape of Good Hope on his way to England in October, 1790, he declined a passage in a French frigate because he had heard rumours of a complication between England and Spain. This state of suspicion was more than justified by the cruel treatment which Flinders met with from the French, when he put in to the Mauritius in distress in 1803. King had cautioned him strongly before he sailed against going there.

Hunter, however, was obliged to resign himself to his fate, and shortly afterwards sailed in the Dutchman for England via Batavia and the Cape of Good Hope, reaching his destination in April, 1792, after a voyage of nearly thirteen months. A letter which he addressed to the Lords of the Admiralty on his return, advocating the passage by Cape Horn on the homeward voyage, in preference to that by the Cape of Good Hope, or northward viâ Batavia, throws a curious light on the state of navigation at the time it was written.

In the curious group gathered together on the shores of Sydney Cove, there was but one man with whom Phillip was connected by old associations; and that was the second lieutenant of the Sirius, Philip Gidley King, who had sailed with him on a cruise to the East Indies in a frigate he commanded some six years before the First Fleet left the Channel. There was a difference of twenty years between them in point of age; Phillip being in his fiftieth and King in his thirtieth year when they stood under the British flag, drinking the health of King George and prosperity to the colony of New South Wales. A portrait of the young lieutenant, with a sketch of his previous career in the navy, was published in Phillip's Voyage—where he is described as "an officer much esteemed by Phillip as of great merit in his profession; and highly spoken of in his letters as a man whose perseverance in any service might be fully depended on." So it proved. King's face in the portrait is clearly cut and intelligent, with an expression that enables us to understand Phillip's feeling towards him. The two men had formed a friendship on board the Europe which lasted throughout their lives. How strong and how enduring the tie that bound them may be seen in a letter written from Bath by King, with a trembling hand, seven days before his death in September, 1808, to his son, "dear Phillip", so named after his old comrade:—

As this letter may probably reach you before you sail, I just write to say that I came here on Tuesday with Mr. Lethbridge, on his return to London, merely to see Admiral Phillip, whom I found much better than I possibly could expect from the reports I had heard, although he is quite a cripple, having lost the entire use of his right side; but his intellects are very good, and his spirits are what they always were. {5}

This is the last glimpse we have of Phillip, after his return to England. He lingered on till 1814. The meeting between the two old ex-Governors at Bath, both in the last stage of weakness and decay, furnishes a touching proof of the affection which had so long existed between them.

Philip Gidley King

Although King had entered the navy when he was only twelve years old, he managed to learn the French language sufficiently for conversational purposes; an accomplishment which proved useful when he paid a visit to La Pérouse at Botany Bay, and also when the French ships under Baudin anchored in Port Jackson while he was Governor of the colony. He has left an interesting account in his journal {6} of the visit to La Pérouse, to whom he was sent by Phillip in February, 1788, with offers of assistance. He was accompanied by Lieutenant Dawes, and the young officers were received with all the hospitality usual on such occasions. After they had dined on board the Boussole, La Pérouse and his officers went on shore with them—at the point which now bears his name—where, says King—

I found him quite established; he had thrown round his tents a stockade, which was guarded by two small guns, and in which they were setting up two long-boats, which he had in frame. After these boats were built, it was the intention of M. Peyrouse to go round New Ireland, through the Moluccas, and to pass to the Island of France by the Streights of Sunda.

The unhappy Frenchmen did not know then that a very different track had been marked out for their ships on the chart of destiny, After the party had gone through the stockade they went to the observatory, where they found the astronomer of the expedition at work in a tent; and as conversation naturally turned on scientific matters, the Frenchmen paid a well-merited compliment to Captain Cook, saying that at every place they had touched at and been near, they had found all his nautical and astronomical observations exact. La Pérouse added, with the epigrammatic point characteristic of French genius:—

Enfin, Monsieur Cook a tant fait quil ne m'a rien laissè a faire que d'admirer ses œuvres.

These are the last spoken words which history has preserved of the unfortunate Frenchman; and King did good service to his memory when he recorded them in his notes. {7}

Phillip lost no opportunity for promoting his friend's interests. It was at his instance, no doubt, that King was appointed to the Sirius; and one of the Governor's first official acts, after the proclamation of the colony, was to send him to Norfolk Island with a commission appointing him commandant—thus placing him in the direct path to promotion. The service was an important one, because it involved the establishment of a branch colony to which the elder one would have to look for assistance in the trying times that lay before it. One of the immediate objects in view was the dressing of the flax-plant, the Home Government having been led to believe that the Royal Navy would soon be supplied with better sail-cloth and cordage from Norfolk Island flax than from any other material then known. That expectation was never realised, although flax-dressing afterwards formed one of the principal industries on the island for some years. The plant grew there as luxuriantly as it did in New Zealand; but the art of manufacturing it was unknown until April, 1793, when two natives of New Zealand were seized and carried away from their homes for the purpose of being employed as teachers. They were restored to their own country in the following February, when, according to Collins (p. 346), they had completed the purpose for which they were taken, by giving such instructions in the process of preparing the flax-plant that, even with very bad materials, a few hands could manufacture thirty yards of good canvas in a week. They had not been kidnapped by King's orders; but, nevertheless, in order to satisfy himself that good faith was kept with them, he resolved to see them home; and having appointed a deputy to carry on the government during his absence from the island, he sailed with them to New Zealand—an act of humanity which, however, involved him in an unpleasant correspondence with Major Grose, then administering the government of New South Wales.

King's tenure of office under Phillip's commission lasted until March, 1790, when he was recalled for the purpose of being sent to England with despatches, "in order to give such information to his Majesty's Ministers respecting the settlement I had established as could not be conveyed by letter." Probably there was another reason for this mission, the state of affairs at Sydney Cove being so desperate at that time that the necessity for bringing it home to the minds of Ministers by personal representations must have been strongly felt. King was accordingly discharged from the Sirius and placed in the position of an envoy, with the prospect of further promotion in addition to a trip home. During his two years' residence on the island, he had not spared himself in his efforts to cultivate the wilderness of pines and supple-jacks which he was expected to convert into a granary. His first garden was made in "a fine valley. in which a number of plantain or banana trees were found, to which he gave the name of Arthur's Vale in memory of his friend, whom he had already commemorated by naming Phillip Isle—an island off the coast—after him. The sort of country he had to operate on at that time may be judged from his description of it:—

I took the first opportunity of examining the island around me, and found it almost impenetrable from the size of the trees and the entangled state of their roots, which were in general two feet above the ground, and ran along it to a considerable distance. On the spaces of ground unoccupied by these roots there grew a kind of supple-jack, which in general was as thick as a man's leg; these supple-jacks ran up the trees, and as they grew in every direction they formed an impenetrable kind of network; bending some trees to the ground and then taking root again, they twined round other trees in the same manner, until the whole became an impervious forest. As I had only twelve men (one of whom was seventy-two years of age, and another a boy of fifteen), exclusive of the mate and surgeon, my progress must be very slow. {8}

When Cook landed on the island in October, 1774, he found the ground, for about two hundred yards from the shore, "covered so thick with shrubs and plants as hardly to be penetrated farther inland."

King's work was evidently cut out for him when he was required to commence farming in country of that description, without any assistance in the shape of skilled labour. Having been at sea since he was twelve years of age, he could hardly tell the difference between one plant and another; he did not even know the flax-plant when he saw it; {9} while the men sent with him, unskilled as they were, were too few to enable him to make much progress in clearing and cultivating. But difficulties gradually gave way before his energy and perseverance; so that when he left the island in March, 1790, he was in a position to describe the result of his farming operations with no little satisfaction, and to discourse on crops and soils as if he had been a farmer all his life. Thirty acres of public land were under cultivation when he left, where eighteen were covered with private gardens; the population numbering four hundred and eighteen, exclusive of eighty men belonging to the Sirius. His management, therefore, had proved a success, and fully justified the confidence which Phillip placed in him.

But King had other work to do on the island besides studying seed-time and harvest. No chaplain had been sent with his little company, for there was none to send; and consequently the duty of giving religious instruction fell upon him. Every Sunday morning at eleven the congregation were summoned to his cottage by the church-bell, "which was a man beating on the head of an empty cask"; when every one was required by general orders to "come clean and orderly and behave themselves devoutly." He was a Justice of the Peace, too, as well as a minister of religion, and soon found himself called upon to exercise his magisterial functions. He was, in fact, a complete Court of Criminal and Civil Judicature in himself, although no commission had been issued to him for that purpose beyond his appointment as a magistrate. {10} Collins says (p. 14) that he was "sworn in as a Justice of the Peace, taking the oaths necessary on the occasion, by which he was enabled to punish such petty offences as might be committed among his people, capital crimes being reserved for the cognisance of the Criminal Court of Judicature established here." But as almost all offences were capital crimes at that time, the distinction had very little meaning, except when a really serious case, such as murder, might occur. Soon after his arrival, for instance. King detected one of the marines in the act of stealing rum out of a small vessel in his (King's) tent, where it had been placed for safety. The offence was serious, and had it been committed at Sydney Cove, the case would have been tried before the Criminal Court, and would have resulted in a sentence of death. One of the most painful cases brought before it was that of a young convict who, availing himself, as Collins says (p. 32), of the opportunity that was given on the evening of his Majesty's birthday, when everyone was abroad looking at the bonfires, entered an officer's tent for the purpose of stealing, but was surprised and secured after a struggle in which the thief received a sword wound from the officer. A peculiar interest attaches to this case, arising from a pathetic letter written by, or rather for, the offender to his mother on the eve of his execution, and published by Tench. {11} There was no essential difference between that case and the one mentioned by King; but while one offender suffered death within twenty-four hours after his conviction, the other was much more mercifully dealt with. King might have reserved the case for trial at Sydney, as he did on a subsequent occasion; but instead of doing so, he assembled the people and ordered three dozen lashes to be inflicted on the offender in their presence, first "causing him to be led by a halter to the place of punishment"—probably to remind him of the penalty he had escaped. The flogging, however, did not produce the desired effect; for three days afterwards a convict boy was detected in the act of stealing the surgeon's allowance of rum in his tent. Here was another offence for which sentence of death would have been pronounced at head-quarters; but as the boy was only fifteen years old—he had been transported for seven years—King again dealt summarily with the case, ordering a hundred lashes, "which I hoped would have a good effect."

The boy of fifteen got a hundred lashes because three dozen had failed to make a good impression on the able-bodied marine. The logic of the sentence is not convincing at the present day; but it was evidently considered good reasoning at the time. The case deserves attention as an illustration of the theory and practice of the flogging system a century ago. King's views on the subject were those of a naval officer; he administered punishment in accordance with the practice on board his Majesty's ships. He certainly had not gained any experience in that form of discipline at Sydney Cove, which he had left before it was well established there. Nor is there any reason to believe that he was an unmerciful administrator of the law; on the contrary, his summary dealing with these cases showed that he had no desire to resort to extreme measures; while his action on the discovery of a conspiracy among the convicts to seize a ship and make prisoners of the guards, as well as himself, showed that he was not disposed to abuse his powers. {12} The only punishment he inflicted on that occasion was to put two of the ringleaders in irons, and deprive them of their garden ground; one of them being afterwards sent to Sydney for trial.

King sailed for England viâ Batavia a few days after his return to Sydney Cove in April, 1790, with despatches from Phillip. The narrative of his voyage might form a curious chapter in the history of navigation. The progress made in the art during the last century could not be better illustrated than it is in his experience on that occasion. The traveller now-a-days between Sydney and London has many different routes to choose from; each of them offering a variety of temptations in the shape of luxurious voyaging, with an economy of time that seems marvellous when compared with the eight or ten months usually occupied on the passage home a hundred years ago. But the only means of reaching England open to King was by way of Batavia; and when there he had to trust to chance for a ship to the Cape of Good Hope, and so on to England.

Having succeeded in obtaining a passage from Batavia to England in a small packet belonging to the Dutch East India Company, he sailed in August; but he had not been five days at sea before the whole of the crew, captain included, with the exception of four men, were rendered unfit for work by an attack of putrid fever, caused by "the pestiferous air of Batavia." King was thus forced to take command of the ship and to navigate her with a crew of four men, while the rest, confined below, were rapidly becoming delirious; even the surgeon on board being so ill as to be incapable of rendering assistance. To prevent contagion, he put up a tent on deck for himself and his crew, whom he would not allow to go below. Under these circumstances, he saw that there was nothing to do but to bear up for the Isle of France, or Mauritius, where they arrived in a fortnight. During that time, seventeen of the crew died. On reaching Port Louis, a passage to France in a French frigate about to sail was offered to King, but having "heard of a misunderstanding between England and Spain", he thought it his duty to remain on board the Dutch vessel, notwithstanding the risk of fever.

Having cleansed his ship and taken a fresh crew on board, he sailed for the Cape of Good Hope in September, and anchored in Table Bay after eighteen days at sea. There he found the unfortunate Lieutenant Riou, of H.M.S. Guardian—which had been wrecked by collision with an iceberg in December of the previous year—"waiting for orders from England." A two months' voyage from the Cape brought King to England on the 20th December—the passage from Port Jackson having taken over eight months.

On his arrival in London, King lost no time in delivering his despatches to the Home Office and the Admiralty. The journal he had kept at Norfolk Island was also handed in at the same time; and was subsequently, at the instance of Sir Joseph Banks, published in Captain Hunter's volume. During his interview with Evan Nepean at the Home Office, King was surprised and pleased to learn from him, for the first time, that a commission appointing him Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island had been signed by his Majesty and sent to his agent to be forwarded to him. He had not then received an official letter written on the 1st February, 1790, by Lord Grenville—who had succeeded Sydney at the Home Office—in the following terms:—

I have laid before the King the representations made by Governor Phillip of your services since you have been employed under his command, and I have the satisfaction to acquaint you that his Majesty has, as a reward of those services, been pleased to sign a commission appointing you Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island, to which appointment it is intended to propose in the next estimate laid before the House of Commons an annual allowance of two hundred and fifty pounds.

His position in the service and consequent prospects of promotion were thus assured, through the representations of his friend. The day after he left his despatches, he had an interview with the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Chatham, the Prime Minister's brother, who had succeeded Lord Howe; and on the following day he saw Lord Grenville, who had probably some misgivings as to the state of affairs at Sydney Cove, owing to the wreck of the Guardian and the consequent loss of stores. Their lordships wished to get some authentic information on the subject, and had sent for King. The conversation which took place at the two interviews was fortunately noted down by him shortly afterwards, in the following words:—

On the 22nd December, 1790, I saw Lord Chatham, whose enquirys were first directed to the situation of the colony in New South Wales, and the prospects it afforded for maintaining the colonists. As my stay at Port Jackson was so very short, I could give his lordship no other information on that head than stating the actual situation of the colony for want of provisions and stores at the time I left it; and the great inconvenience that would be experienced by the loss of the Sirius. In answer to his lordship's questions respecting Norfolk Island, I gave him a detail nearly similar to that contained in my journal, that I had delivered to Mr. Stephens {13} the preceding day.

Lord Chatham did not seem to take much interest in the prospects of the colony, beyond the pressing question of the hour.

Lord Grenville having desired to see me after I had been with Lord Chatham, I waited on him the next morning, the 23rd. After several general questions, to which I gave nearly the same answers as to my Lord Chatham, his lordship asked if I thought the colony would experience any total want of provisions before the probable time that the Neptune and other ships might arrive there? In answer to this question, I informed his lordship that when I left Port Jackson, the 21st April, 1790, the pork was calculated to last out till ye 26th August, the rice and flour until the 19th December, at the ration of 2 lb. of flour, 2 lb. of rice, and 2 lb. of pork each man for seven days; and supposing the ships were not more than ten weeks from the Cape of Good Hope to Port Jackson, they would arrive two months before the pork was expended; on which his lordship said he had little doubt that the colony was amply relieved by the Justinian, which sailed a single ship.

This remark of his lordship's shows how easily Ministers managed to satisfy themselves about the position of the colony, notwithstanding the wreck of the Guardian. The Justinian, as Collins tells us (p. 119), narrowly escaped being wrecked on the coast of New South Wales; had that happened, the colonists might have been starved out before relief was brought by the arrival of the Supply from Batavia in September, 1790, followed by a Dutch vessel in December. The Justinian arrived in June, after a five months' voyage. A fortnight before her arrival, the Lady Juliana came in with female convicts; and shortly afterwards three other ships dropped anchor, filled with convicts in such a state of exhaustion from illness that four hundred and eighty-eight of them were placed in hospital as soon as they were landed. These ships formed the Second Fleet.

His lordship next asked if I thought the marines would be desirous of remaining in the colony as soldiers or settlers? I replied that I never had an opportunity of knowing their opinions or wishes on that subject, but that I had my doubts whether many of them would wish to remain when the relief took place. On his lordship asking the same question respecting the convicts, when their terms became expired, I said that I believed returning to England was what they in general looked forward to; but that I thought it probable, as the country advanced in resources and cultivation, that many might be induced to become settlers, and instanced the prospering state of one of that description who I had settled before I left Norfolk Island.

No question about free settlers; even the idea of sending them out had not yet assumed shape. The conversation ended with a friendly remark from his lordship, which naturally led King to put in a word or two for himself:—

His lordship then, with much politeness, expressed his unwillingness (as I was so lately arrived) to propose my immediate return to Norfolk Island. I assured his lordship I felt it both my inclination and duty to be in readiness to go whenever my services might be thought necessary; and after expressing the sense I had of the honour done me by his Majesty's appointing me Lieutenant-Governor of Norfolk Island, I took the liberty of saying that I hoped not to be thought presuming in soliciting the honour of obtaining a step in the navy. His lordship politely remarked that he should be happy to see my wish gratified, but that promotion in the navy by no means rested with him.

After a stay of nearly three months in England, King set out on his return to the seat of his government in H.M.S. Gorgon, commanded by Captain Parker—after whom his son Phillip Parker King was named. They sailed on the 15th March, and arrived in Port Jackson on the 21st September, 1791. The voyage was a pleasant one, judging from the account of it written by Captain Parker's widow and published in 1795. King had many reasons to enjoy the trip; he had not only his commission as a Lieutenant-Governor, but also another as a master and commander in the navy, having obtained the step for which he had asked Lord Grenville. {14} In addition to the commissions, he had a wife whom he had married during his stay in England. Mrs. Parker tells us of many little excursions on shore at Teneriffe. Port Praya, and the Cape, enjoyed by the passengers of the Gorgon—amongst whom was Mr. Grimes, a surveyor, who was sent in 1802 by Governor King to survey Port Phillip. This lady's homely narrative gives us a sketch of social life in Sydney, at the time of her arrival, which seems to show the bright side of a picture too generally looked upon as without even a tint of colour. Let us take her sketch of "Sidney Cove" to begin with—the slopes of which, as she saw it, were still radiant with green, although the ground was very rocky; stately trees crowned the heights on either side; here and there a house or public building, surrounded by huts; red-coated soldiers on guard, with bayonets glistening in the sunlight, and gangs of labourers at work in all directions. Here is her account of what she saw on landing:—

When we went on shore, we were all admiration at the natural beauties raised by the hand of Providence without expence or toil: I mean the various flowery shrubs, natives of this country, that grow apparently from rock itself. The gentle ascents, the winding valleys, and the abundance of flowering shrubs, render the face of the country very delightful. The shrub which most attracted my attention was one which bears a white flower very much resembling our English hawthorn; the smell of it is both sweet and fragrant, and perfumes the air around to a considerable distance. {15}

The Gorgon being the first man-of-war that had entered the harbour since the foundation of the colony, her arrival formed an important event in its social history, and one that was no doubt particularly pleasing to Phillip and his officers. A lively exchange of hospitalities took place between Government House and the ship, at which many cherished memories of Old England were revived. The anniversary of His Majesty's accession to the throne occurring a few days afterwards, Phillip celebrated the occasion by a dinner which, as Collins tells us, "was served to upwards of fifty officers, a greater number than the colony had ever before seen assembled together." The guests of course included the naval officers in port. Then came a breakfast on board the Gorgon, at which "the conversation was very interesting; the one party anxiously making inquiries after their relatives in England, and the other attentively listening to the troubles and anxieties "which had been endured by the colonists. "Governor King and his Lady", we are told, resided on shore at Governor Phillip's, "to whose house the visitors generally repaired after breakfasting on board", and from which parties were made for "several pleasant excursions up the Cove to the settlement called Parramatta." The trip up and down the river gave them an opportunity of seeing the various points of beauty in that branch of the harbour, which were fully appreciated. On reaching Parramatta, Phillip took his friends to his house, described as 1791 "a small convenient building placed upon a gentle ascent, and surrounded by about a couple of acres of garden ground; this spot is called Rose Hill." {16} Here the day was spent and among the objects of interest that attracted attention was "the beautiful plumage of the birds in general, and of the emu in particular", two of which were met with in the woods. During the stay of the Gorgon in port, the excursions included visits to many of the little coves about the harbour, where they found oysters as well as scenery to dwell upon:—

Here we have feasted upon Oisters just taken out of the sea; the attention of our sailors, and their care in opening and placing them round their hats in lieu of plates, by no means diminished the satisfaction we had in eating them.

The Governor's House at Rose Hill.

The ingenuity displayed in improvising plates out of their hats was creditable to the jack-tars of the Gorgon; but the oysters, alas! have gone, with the flowering shrubs and the birds of brilliant plume. From scenes like these it may be gathered that life in Sydney Cove, even in 1791, was not altogether without its charms for those who had opportunities of enjoying it. Phillip was evidently fond of showing his visitors all the attractions of a new and beautiful country, and was probably not a little proud of his dominions. "The fatherly attention of the good Governor upon all occasions" is specially noted by his guest, whose stay in Sydney was rendered "perfectly happy and comfortable" by his kindness, combined with "the friendly politeness of the officers." Good things were not altogether wanting at their tables at this time—a happy contrast with their sufferings of the previous year. Presents of eggs, milk, and vegetables were frequently sent on board the Gorgon by the military gentlemen on shore; kangaroo was considered a delicacy, and emu was said to taste like beef. Thus the month in port went pleasantly by; and when at last, on the 26th October, "Captain King and his Lady, with Captain and Mrs. Paterson, and several other military officers destined for Norfolk Island" had gone on board the Atlantic, they were "accompanied to the end of the Cove by the Governor, Judge-Advocate, Captain Parker, and many others, who were anxious to be in their company as long as possible."

When Phillip determined to send King to England and to put Major Ross in his place at Norfolk Island, he accomplished two objects of some personal interest to himself; he removed one man from a position which enabled him to prove obstructive, if not mischievous, and he did a considerable service to the other. The line of conduct adopted by the Major had rendered it difficult, if not impossible, to look for any cordial co-operation from him; and the only means by which the strained relations that had grown up between them could be improved was by sending him to another field of exertion. The necessity for distributing the population at head-quarters, in consequence of the scarcity of provisions, afforded Phillip an opportunity for doing so. Ross was accordingly sent to Norfolk Island in the Sirius, with two companies of marines and some two hundred convicts, early in March, 1790. The ship had no sooner reached the island than she was wrecked on the reefs, but without any loss of life. This event gave rise to a singular display of authority on the part of Major Ross:—

The instant the ship struck, Lieutenant-Governor Ross ordered the drums to assemble all the marines and convicts; martial law was then proclaimed, and the people were told that if anyone killed any animal or fowl, or committed any robbery whatever, they would be instantly made a severe example of. {17}

In other words, they would be tried by a Court-martial and executed. This proceeding appears to have been the result of a sudden panic which had seized the Major. The wreck of the Sirius no doubt placed the people on the island in a difficult position; their numbers had been largely increased by the new arrivals, while the imminent loss of the stores and provisions on board threatened them with starvation; their lives at any rate would depend on rigid economy in the distribution of food. In this emergency, it occurred to the Major that, as there was no Court in the island empowered to inflict the penalty of death for stealing provisions, many men might be tempted to take advantage of the fact, and the public safety might be thereby endangered. The only remedy he could think of was to substitute military law for the civil, which practically meant taking the power of life and death into his own hands. Hunter and King, accepting him as an authority on the subject, allowed themselves to be persuaded that this was the proper thing to be alone under the circumstances. The arguments by which he justified his course of action were recorded in King's journal at the time:—

At ten in the morning of the next day, Lieutenant-Governor Ross, Captain Hunter, all the commissioned officers of marines and of the Sirius, and myself, assembled in the Government House, when the Lieutenant-Governor laid the situation of the island before the meeting, and pointed out the necessity of a law being made by which criminals might be punished with death for capital crimes, there being no law in force on the island that could notice capital offences: he also proposed the establishment of martial law until further orders, which was unanimously agreed to; and that in all crises where sentence of death was pronounced, five persons out of seven should concur in opinion.

This proceeding is one of many illustrations met with in our early history of the marked propensity shown by military men for setting aside the magistrate, and assuming arbitrary power at a moment's notice. There was no precedent for the act; nor was there any authority for it; still less was there any justification. The only justification recognised by English law is necessity; but that means a necessity demonstrated by facts, not an imaginary one. {18} At the very least, Ross might have waited until his fears had been realised; and he might have waited in safety, seeing that he had an overpowering force of marines, to say nothing of the crew of the Sirius. Apart, moreover, from the absence of any justification for his proceeding connected with the existing state of affairs, there was the fact that the power to proclaim martial law did not rest with him, but with the Governor of the territory; the proclaiming of martial law being at all times a matter for the consideration of the Executive Government, and not of the military employed in enforcing it. {19} Although the Major held a dormant commission as Lieutenant-Governor, that did not invest him with supreme power at Norfolk Island while Phillip was at head-quarters. As a matter of fact, at the time he undertook to establish military law his position was simply that of Major of marines; King being still commandant of the island. {20} But although he was still commandant, and as a magistrate had power to enforce law and order, calling in the aid of the military if he found it necessary, {21} Ross did not hesitate to supersede him in order to carry out his own ideas of "good government".

The manner in which he accomplished this purpose was characteristic. As soon as the wreck took place, he summoned a meeting of "all the commissioned officers of his Majesty's navy and marines at this place, for establishing such rules and regulations as may be necessary for the good government of the settlement on the present occasion." These gentlemen, who were termed a "council", were peremptorily "required to meet the Lieutenant-Governor at Government House" on the same day. When the Council was assembled, a series of resolutions, embodying the Major's ideas of good government, was drawn up and agreed to. The first declared that seven commissioned officers should comprise a General Court-martial; but that sentence of death should not be passed in any case unless five members of the Court concurred in the judgment.

By means of this resolution, Ross at once got rid of the difficulties in the way of holding a General Court-martial, which had proved insuperable at Sydney Cove. There it had been held that such a Court could not be constituted unless thirteen officers were present; and when that condition was complied with, it was laid down by the marines that they could not act under any warrant unless it came from the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty. For that reason they declined to recognise the validity of a warrant issued by Phillip under the authority of his Majesty's commission. The resolution, therefore, proposed to create a Court at Norfolk Island for the trial of offences with the same jurisdiction as the Criminal Court at Sydney Cove, to be convened by no better authority than a warrant under the hand of Major Ross.. It is true that when martial law is proclaimed, the constitution of the Courts convened under it may be left to the discretion of the officer charged with the duty of enforcing it; and it is not absolutely necessary that there should be any Court at all. {22} But that view of the matter holds good only where military law has been legally proclaimed by the proper authority, under circumstances which would be held to justify such an interruption of the ordinary course of justice.

Another resolution declared that "all marauding or plundering, whether of public or of private property, will be deemed capital crimes"; in other words, a charge of theft would be followed by sentence and execution. Thus the island was placed under military law in its strictest form; King's command was extinguished, and civil government on the island was at an end. {23}

The proceedings which took place on the occasion of the proclamation formed a pretty little scene for a melodrama:—

At eight o'clock in the morning, all persons on the island were assembled near the lower flag-staff, on which the Union was hoisted: the marines were drawn up in two lines, leaving a space in the centre, at the head of which was the Union. The colours of the detachment were then unfurled, and the Sirius's crew were drawn up on the right, and the convicts on the left, the officers being in the centre. The proclamation was then read, declaring that the island was to be governed by martial law until further orders; the Lieutenant-Governor next addressed the convicts, and after pointing out the situation of the settlement, he exhorted them to be honest, industrious, and obedient. This being concluded, the whole gave three cheers; and every person, beginning with the Lieutenant-Governor, passed under the Union flag, taking off their hats as they passed it in token of an oath to submit and be amenable to the martial law, which had then been declared.

Major Ross remained in charge of the island until King's return in November, 1791, when the Major sailed for Sydney, and shortly afterwards for England. On his departure, his position as commanding officer of the forces was occupied by Major Grose, who arrived in the Pitt, transport, in February, 1792, the first detachment of the New South Wales Corps, of which he was major commandant, having reached the colony in June, 1790. Grose's career in the colony after Phillip had left it formed a singular parallel to that of his predecessor. Under his rule as Lieutenant-Governor, military power became supreme, the magistrate was suppressed, and the colony was governed in much the same fashion as a camp. Grose's commission as Lieutenant-Governor of the colony was publicly read "on the parade in front of the quarters", a month after his arrival; but he did not enter into office until the following December, when Phillip returned to England.

The appointment of a captain of marines to such a post as that of Judge-Advocate at the foundation of the colony was a striking departure from the ordinary rules of the service. The office was a purely civil one; and in view of the fact that the Judge-Advocate presided over the administration of law in the settlement, the selection of a military man for the post can be explained only on the ground that it was intended to administer law in accordance with military rules and practice. Collins had no judicial experience to guide him in his new career. He had not acted as a Judge-Advocate in any of the military tribunals in England; but he had no doubt seen many trials by Court-martial during his time of active service in the navy. He held his appointment at Sydney Cove until 1796, when he returned to England; and after waiting some six or seven years for the promotion he had earned by his services and sufferings in the colony, he was appointed in 1803 Lieutenant-Governor of the projected settlement on the shores of Port Phillip—which he turned into a settlement on the shores of the Derwent. In addition to his judicial duties, he acted as secretary to Governor Phillip for some time after their arrival, and was consequently brought into frequent and familiar contact with him. The position he thus occupied peculiarly fitted him for another and more important office which he conferred upon himself—that of the annalist of the colony; a capacity in which he did great service to the colonists as well as to the Home Government. Although he confined his attention too exclusively to the mere occurrences of the day—a process which resulted in giving his work the character of an almanac, or rather a calendar—the narrative itself is a faithful record of the events connected with the foundation and early years of the settlement, and entitles its author to the grateful remembrance of his readers. The painful duties he was so frequently called upon to discharge as Judge-Advocate had no doubt coloured his impressions of surrounding circumstances, and gave the gloomy character to his chronicle which makes itself so forcibly felt in the present day. Writing day by day as if he had the fatal black cap on his head, he could hardly avoid giving prominence to the dismal scenes in which he was so often compelled to take part.

His own character has been described by those who knew him as essentially humane; he was more than merciful in his administration of the government at Hobart Town. To a man of cultivated mind as well as kindly feeling, the frequent discharge of such judicial duties as fell to his lot must have been trying at the least; and it may readily be believed that his influence with the Governor was not seldom exercised for the purpose of tempering justice with mercy. Perhaps nothing could more forcibly illustrate the prevalent opinion with respect to the criminal code then in force than the fact that, although it was administered by a man whose personal sympathies must in many cases have revolted against its extreme severity, he had not a word to say in condemnation of it, the inference being that it did not present itself to his mind as more severe than it should be. On that point the Judge-Advocate probably held the same opinion as the Judges in England, who were so much in the habit of passing sentence of death for trifling offences at the Criminal Assizes, that they learned to look upon such sentences as absolutely necessary for the protection of society. {24} Every sentence of death or flogging imposed by the Criminal Court for the first eight years of its existence was pronounced by Collins; and in many of those cases he knew, and recorded the fact, that the crime for which punishment was exacted had been committed under the pressure of starvation. {25} The terrible penalties demanded by the law for such offences—in some cases death, in others many hundreds of lashes—seem so inhuman at the present day that the men who administered the law are too often held responsible for its severity. But they were no more accountable for it than the man who guides a steam-engine can be held to answer for its movement. His position as Judge-Advocate made Collins the mouthpiece of the law, but it gave him no control over it; he had no alternative but to pronounce judgment and sentence according to its letter. He had no discretionary power whatever.

During the greater part of Phillip's time, the chief question he had to deal with was the supply and distribution of food. The very existence of the colony depended almost entirely on the arrival of ships from England with provisions; and when the ships did not arrive at the expected time, death from famine could only be averted by the most rigid regulations with respect to the allowance of food. To protect the public store against depredation became a matter of urgent necessity; and the only means of protecting—according to the ideas then in vogue {26}—was to increase the punishment for theft, although it frequently happened that the offenders, from want of sufficient food, were admittedly "too weak" to endure punishment at all. A terrible illustration of this dilemma may be seen in Collins's book. After recording the death of a man who had dropped down dead at the store to which he had gone for his day's provisions—the cause of death being sheer starvation—Collins proceeds to state that the Criminal Court, when assembled to deal with a prisoner who had been caught in the act of stealing potatoes in the clergyman's garden, "finding that the severity of former Courts did not prevent the commission of the same offence", varied the ordinary punishment by directing that the prisoner before them should receive three hundred lashes, lose his ration of flour for six months, and be chained for that time to two other delinquents of the same class. {27} The effect of this sentence may be estimated from the fact that "the Governor remitted, after some days' trial, that part of it which respected the prisoner's ration of flour, without which he could not long have existed." This case is chronicled by Collins without any expression of opinion tending to show that it was regarded as unmerciful; the salient feature in the case was, apparently, that the potatoes were in danger. But in justice to his memory it should not be forgotten that, at that time, the protection of the stores was undoubtedly a matter of life and death to the community. Nor was he singular in his opinion, when compared with the legislators and moralists of the age.

The peculiar circumstances of the time led to a singular distortion of views with respect to the moral nature of the offences brought before the Court. While the heaviest punishment that could be inflicted was unsparingly dealt out to those who ran off with their neighbours' vegetables or helped themselves to the contents of the public store, much more serious violations of the moral code were looked upon as comparatively venial. Collins, for instance, states that a soldier who was condemned to death in July, 1789, for a criminal assault on a child eight years of age, was recommended to mercy and pardoned by the Governor, "on condition of his residing, during the term of his natural life, at Norfolk Island." {28} At that time, residing at Norfolk Island was practically no punishment, because there was a better supply of fresh provisions there than there was at Sydney Cove. Whether that was so or not, the mercy extended to the offender contrasts strangely with the hard measure dealt out to others. In March of the same year, "six marines, the flower of our battalion, were hanged by the public executioner on the sentence of a Criminal Court, composed entirely of their own officers, for having at various times robbed the public stores of flour, meat, spirits, tobacco, and many other articles." {29} There was no recommendation to mercy in that case, although it was known that the men had been tempted to commit the offence br the scarcity of provisions, and the opportunity placed in their way. That the extreme penalty of the law should be rigorously exacted for the commission of petty thefts which now-a-days would entail nothing more than a term of imprisonment, while a criminal assault on a child should meet with so much merciful consideration, seems an absurd inversion of all recognised principles in the administration of justice. The only justification that can be found for it lies in the critical condition of the community at that time, which created a feeling of alarm for the public safety rapidly developing into panic. Many analogies, however, might be found in the history of much older and wiser communities than that of Sydney Cove in the last century; for the influence of panic may be frequently traced in the legislation of the present day, as well be in the administration of justice.


{1} {return}

Post, p. 520.

{2} {return}

"Shortly after his arrival in England (in 1801), Captain Hunter was appointed to the command of the Venerable, seventy-four guns. When cruising with that vessel in Torbay, one of the seamen accidentally falling overboard. Captain Hunter humanely ordered her to put about to pick him up. In executing this manoeuvre, the vessel missed stays, ran ashore, and was wrecked. Captain Hunter was in consequence brought to a Court-martial for the loss of the vessel, but was honourably acquitted. In the course of the trial, it is reported that, when asked what had induced him to put the ship about in such circumstances, he replied (for he was a shrewd man rather than a worldly wise one) that he considered the life of a British seaman of more value than any ship in his Majesty's navy. He was afterwards promoted to the rank of Rear-Admiral."—Lang, New South Wales, 4th ed., vol. i, p. 65.

{3} {return}

Journal, p. 170. An interesting relic of the Sirius may be seen at the Electric Lighthouse near Watson's Bay, in the shape of an old iron nine-pounder mounted on a carriage, with the following inscription engraved on a copper plate affixed to the breech:—

"This gun, which formed a portion of the armament of H.M.S. Sirius, the first man-of-war that entered Port Jackson, was landed here shortly after the foundation of the colony for signalling arrivals, &c."

How the gun came to be landed from the Sirius is told by Captain Hunter (p. 89):—"In the month of September (1788), Governor Phillip signified to me that it was his intention very soon to despatch the Sirius to the Cape of Good Hope in order to purchase such quantity of provisions as she might be capable of taking on board; and that she might be made as light as possible for that purpose, he desired that I would land eight or ten of her guns and carriages, with any other articles which I judged the ship could spare for the time she might be absent, and which might answer the purpose of lightening the ship and the making of room. In consequence of this order, eight guns, with their carriages, and twenty-four rounds of shot for each gun, twenty half-barrels of powder, a spare anchor, and various other articles were put on shore at Sydney Cove."

These guns were probably mounted in the first instance at the redoubt built on Dawes' Point. The one now at the lighthouse is the only one remaining of the whole number put on shore. Four of them were sent down to South Head by Governor Macquarie soon after his arrival and previous to the erection of the old Macquarie lighthouse, to be used as signal guns. Some time afterwards three of the guns were in course of removal to Sydney in a boat, when it sank off Bradley's Head, and the guns were never recovered.

{4} {return}

Journal, p. 125.

{5} {return}

In a previous letter written from Tooting, in Surrey, in July, 1808, King wrote to his son:—"I was with Admiral Phillip a week; he is very much altered, having lost the entire use of his whole right side, arm, and leg; his intellect and spirits are as good as ever. He may linger on some years under his present infirmity, but, from his age, a great reprieve cannot be expected."

{6} {return}

Hunter, p. 289.

{7} {return}

Post, p. 522.

{8} {return}

Hunter, p. 301.

{9} {return}

"The surgeon, in walking about the island, found out the flax-plant, which proved to be what we had hitherto called the iris; not having any description of the plant, I had no idea of its being what Captain Cook called the flax-plant of New Zealand."—Hunter, p. 304.

{10} {return}

The Commission given to King was short and simple:—By His Excellency Arthur Phillip, Esq., &c.

By virtue of the Power and Authority vested in me I do hereby constitute and appoint you, Philip Gidley King, Esq., Superintendant and Commandant of Norfolk Island and of the settlement to be made thereon:—

You are therefore carefully and diligently to discharge the duty of Superintendant and Commandant of the same, by performing all and every such instruction as you have or may hereafter from time to time receive from me, for the good of his Majesty's service.

Given under my hand and seal, this twelfth day of February, 1788.

{11} {return}

Narrative, p. 112; post, p. 525.

{12} {return}

Hunter, p. 346.

{13} {return}

Under Secretary at the Admiralty.

{14} {return}

Post, p. 526.

{15} {return}

This passage bears a curious resemblance to one in Tench's Narrative, p. 118, on the same subject:—"The general face of the country is certainly pleasant, being diversified with gentle ascents and little winding vallies, covered for the most part with large spreading trees, which afford a succession of leaves in all seasons. In those places where trees are scarce, a variety of flowering shrubs abound, most of them entirely new to an European, and surpassing in beauty, fragrance, and number all I ever saw in an uncultivated state; among these, a tall shrub, bearing an elegant white flower which smells like English may, is particularly delightful, and perfumes the air around to a great distance." Mrs. Parker evidently had this description before her when writing her own.

{16} {return}

The "gentle ascent" was called "the Crescent" by Phillip, from its natural appearance. It formed the site of the Government House built by Governor Macquarie, which is still standing, and from which Lady Mary Fitz Roy set out on her fatal drive on the 7th December, 1847.

{17} {return}

King's Journal, in Hunter, p. 383.

{18} {return}

Nothing but the necessity arising from the absolute interruption of civil judicature by arms can warrant the exercise of what is called martial law.—Clode, Military Forces of the Crown, vol. ii, p. 486.

{19} {return}

The proclamation should be made by the Executive Government, as the representative of the Crown. The military officer who carries out the orders of the Crown to supersede all law by his own authority should not be concerned in it, but should be absolutely free from all responsibility as regards the proclamation itself.—Tovey, Martial Law, p. 89.

The declaration of martial law is the act of the Government, or other supreme authority. Its execution is directed by the commander of the forces.—Finlason, Martial Law, p. 73.

{20} {return}

On his arrival at the island, Major Ross "requested that I would continue the command until my departure."—Kind's Journal, p. 383.

{21} {return}

Every magistrate has authority to command all subjects to assist him in the suppression of riot, and has also authority to call in military assistance when he thinks it necessary. In 1796, Lords Eldon and Redesdale stated, in a report to the Duke of Portland concerning the riots in the West of England:—"We apprehend that the civil magistrates have the same power to call for the assistance of the military, as they have to call for the assistance of others of his Majesty's subjects.—Tovey, Martial Law, p. 10. The Letters Patent constituting the Courts of Civil and Criminal Jurisdiction expressly declared that all justices of the peace in the colony should have "the same power to keep the peace, suppress and punish riots", &c., as justices in England had; post, p. 536.

Lieutenant Cresswell, of the marines, who was sent with a detachment to Norfolk Island in June, 1789, after the discovery of the conspiracy to seize King, was sworn in as a Justice of the Peace for the island before his departure. There were consequently two magistrates there when martial law was proclaimed.

{22} {return}

It is distinctly laid down that persons under martial law—that is, in case of mutiny or rebellion—may be summarily tried and convicted, without even the ordinary forms of military law, and with only such inquiry, whether by Court-martial or otherwise, as the circumstances admit of; and if by Court-martial, then by such evidence as can be obtained.—Finlason, Martial Law, p. 83.

{23} {return}

In the various cases in which martial law has been proclaimed in British colonies (collected in Tovey on Martial Law, p. 152) the act was justified by the outbreak of insurrection. The most notable instance of the kind occurred in Jamaica in 1865, when Governor Eyre proclaimed martial law in order to suppress riot and disorder among the negroes. One of the ring-leaders having been tried and executed by Court-martial, an indictment for murder was presented against Governor Eyre in England, but the bill was thrown out by the Grand Jury. Another indictment was then laid against the commanding officer of the troops who had presided at the Court-martial, but the bill was thrown out. In the course of his charge to the Grand Jury Lord Chief Justice Cockburn said:—"No one, I think, who has the faintest idea of what the administration of justice involves, could deem the proceedings on this trial consistent with justice, or, to use a homely phrase, with that fair play which is the right of the commonest criminal. All I can say is, that if on martial law being proclaimed a man can lawfully thus be tried, condemned, and sacrificed, such a state of things is a scandal and reproach to the institutions of this great and free country. I enter my solemn and emphatic protest against the lives of men being thus dealt with in time to come."

{24} {return}

Sir Samuel Romilly relates that when he introduced a bill, in 1808, to repeal the Act of Elizabeth which made it a capital offence to steal privately from the person of another, the reform met with determined opposition from many eminent lawyers. Burton, a Welsh Judge, objected to it because it proposed to leave the offence mere larceny, punishable with only seven years transportation. He thought the punishment should be transportation for life; and said that unless that alteration were made in the bill, he would vote against it. Lord Ellenborough was of the same opinion.

{25} {return}

"Their universal plea was hunger; but it was a plea that, in the then situation of the colony, could not be so much attended to as it certainly would have been in a country of greater plenty"; p. 210. While thefts were common at Sydney Cove, "at Rose Hill the convicts conducted themselves with much greater propriety; not a theft nor any act of ill-behaviour having been for some time past heard of among them." To which he added, in a foot-note—"they had vegetables in great abundance"; p. 112.

{26} {return}

Tench, referring to the extreme distress prevalent in May, 1790, described the measures adopted to suppress theft of provisions as follows;—"Persons detected in robbing gardens or pilfering provisions were never screened; because as every man could possess by his utmost exertions but a bare sufficiency to preserve life, he who deprived his neighbour of that little drove him to desperation. No new laws for the punishment of theft were enacted; but persons of all descriptions were publicly warned that the severest penalties which the existing law would authorise would be inflicted on offenders. Farther, to contribute to the detection of villainy, a proclamation, offering a reward of 60 lb. of flour, more tempting than the ore of Peru or Potosi, was promised to anyone who should apprehend and bring to justice a robber of garden ground",—Complete Account, p. 43.

{27} {return}

Account of the Colony, pp. 110, 111.

{28} {return}

Ib. p. 80.

{29} {return}

Tench, Complete Account, p. 17; Collins, p. 59.


THE Letters Patent by which the Courts of Law were established in the colony, under the authority of the Act of Parliament passed in 1787, created a system of judicature of a wholly novel description. Three Courts were thus instituted: a Court of Civil Jurisdiction, composed of the Judge-Advocate and two persons appointed by the Governor; a Court of Criminal Jurisdiction, composed of the Judge-Advocate and six officers, naval or military; and a Court of Vice-Admiralty, composed of seven Commissioners selected from the civil service as well as the naval and military. The jurisdiction conferred upon each of these tribunals was practically unlimited.

The Civil Court was empowered to hear and determine, in a summary way, actions relating to lands and houses. actions of debt and contract, actions of trespass, "and all manner of other personal pleas whatsoever." No limit was placed to the pecuniary amount involved, and no exception was made as to any special class of actions; nor was any distinction recognised between Common Law and Equity. The process was simple. On a complaint in writing made by the plaintiff, the Judge-Advocate issued a warrant under his hand and seal directed to the Provost-Marshal, stating the substance of the complaint, and requiring him to summon the defendant to appear. If the amount in dispute exceeded £10, the officer was directed to bring the defendant personally into Court or take bail for his appearance; the defendant being further required to find security for the satisfaction of any judgment that might be given against him.

The parties being before the Court, the first stage in the proceedings was to swear its members. The Judge-Advocate administered an oath to each of the officers that he would "well and truly try the several issues brought before him, and give true judgment according to the evidence." The officers having been duly sworn, one of them then administered the same oath to the Judge-Advocate, and the business proceeded. Witnesses on either side—parties to the cause were not then competent witnesses in English Courts—were duly sworn and examined, their evidence taken in writing and signed by them. The Court then gave judgment "according to justice and right"; the judgment being followed by a warrant of execution, if necessary, against the defendant's goods and chattels. Where there was no sufficient distress, the defendant could be imprisoned until the debt and costs were satisfied. But in that case, if the defendant made oath that he had no means of maintaining himself in prison, the complainant had to provide maintenance for him according to the order of the Court; and if the amount was not paid for one week, the debtor was discharged, such discharge from prison being also a discharge from the debt. If, on the other hand, the defendant gained the case, he had similar remedies for the recovery of costs.

Either party who might find himself aggrieved by the judgment had a right of appeal to the Governor, who was empowered to issue the necessary process. Where the amount involved exceeded £300, the unsuccessful appellant might go to a higher tribunal, by appeal to the Privy Council. But no appeal could lie unless proceedings for the purpose were taken within eight days from the date of the judgment of the Judge-Advocate's Court, or fourteen days from that of the Governor's. Having regard to the state of the colony, the provisions for appeal were extremely liberal.

The Court of Criminal Jurisdiction—which also exercised unlimited powers—was convened by a precept or warrant issued by the Governor under his hand and seal at any time he might think proper. There were no regular or appointed times for its sitting during the early years of the settlement; it met whenever it was summoned in the manner mentioned. The procedure at the trial was short and simple. The charge against the prisoner, which was required to be "reduced into writing and exhibited by our Judge-Advocate", was not a formal indictment drawn up with technical accuracy according to precedent, but a plain statement of the offence committed. There was no room for technicalities of any kind in the practice of the Court; there were no lawyers in the colony to take technical objections; nor were prisoners in those days allowed to have counsel on their trial, even in England. The first Judge-Advocate was a military man and not a lawyer; he was not even supposed to have any knowledge of law or of legal forms.

The Court being assembled, its members—each of whom was in full military dress—were sworn to "make true deliverance between his Majesty the King and the prisoner brought before them, and to give true judgment according to the evidence." The Judge-Advocate presided and regulated the procedure; but although he was a judge he was also a juryman, having a vote in the deliberations of the jury. In this as well as in other respects, the constitution of the Court differed materially from that of a Court of Justice in England, where juries were supposed to be sternly guarded against undue judicial influence, and the judge could address the jury only in open Court.

When the prisoner was brought before his judges, the charge was read over to him, and he was called upon to plead. Witnesses were then examined for the Crown. The prosecution was not conducted by the Judge-Advocate, according to the practice of Courts-martial in England, but was left in the hands of the person who had made the charge. {1} The prisoner was left to conduct his defence in like manner. At the conclusion of the case, the Court was cleared, the Judge-Advocate and the officers deliberated over their verdict, and as soon as they had made up their minds about it, the doors were thrown open again and sentence was pronounced in public. In cases not involving the punishment of death, a verdict of the majority was sufficient; but where the charge was capital—and nearly every criminal charge was capital in those days—the concurrence of five members of the Court was necessary before the sentence could be carried out. Where less than five concurred, the proceedings had to be sent to the Home Government for their consideration. The Governor's warrant was a necessary preliminary to an execution; but he was empowered by his commission to grant a pardon in any case, "treason and wilful murder only excepted", and also, on extraordinary occasions, to reprieve a prisoner until final instructions were received from England. {2}

The Court was expressly limited to two forms of punishment—in capital cases death or flogging, and in others, flogging only. No sentence of imprisonment instead of the lash could be passed, nor was there power to impose a fine. A power to impose fines would have been useless in the early days of the settlement, because the prisoners would not have had the means of paying them; and for a similar reason, terms of imprisonment could not be well imposed, seeing that there was no gaol in which the time could be served. To meet the latter difficulty, prisoners were frequently sent for punishment to the islands in the harbour, and subsequently to Norfolk Island. That course was adopted by Phillip in many instances, and would probably have been adopted in many more, if he had had the necessary authority and the means to enforce his own views on the subject; exile to an island being, from the first, his ideal form of penal discipline.

While the Criminal Court was evidently formed on the basis of the Court-martial in England, it was essentially different both in its constitution and its practice. The first and most important point in which this difference appears is the position of the Judge-Advocate. In England, that office was held by a lawyer whose duty it was, not to preside as a judge, but to conduct the case and to advise the Court on legal points, especially points of evidence. The strictly judicial duties were discharged by the President of the Court; but as the person appointed to that office was usually a military man, he was not professionally qualified to deal with legal questions. Trial by Court-martial, in England, was substantially conducted according to the rules of the common law; and consequently it was necessary that the Court should be properly advised on such matters of law as might arise before it. That was the province of the Judge-Advocate. He had no voice or vote so far as the judgment of the Court was concerned, either on the main question or on interlocutory points; he could only advise. Besides acting as prosecutor for the Crown, he was also supposed to assist the prisoner in his defence, in the same manner that judges in the ordinary Criminal Courts are said to be of counsel for him. By this means a fair trial was ensured for the prisoner; so far at any rate that no advantage was taken of him in the examination of witnesses or in the discussion of legal questions. {3}

The Judge-Advocate of the Court created by the Letters Patent of 1787 bore very little resemblance to the Judge Advocate of the English Courts. The first person appointed to the office being a captain of marines, he was not in a position to discharge the duties of a legal adviser. The Court was consequently under the necessity of administering the law without any legal advice whatever. Being expressly required by the Letters Patent to act "according to the laws of England", some knowledge of those laws was evidently presumed; but it is not easy to understand how a Court composed exclusively of military and naval officers could be expected to administer such an intricate system of jurisprudence as "the laws of England". {4} The ordinary Court-martial was properly composed of such materials, because the offences tried before it were simply breaches of military discipline, the punishment for which was regulated by military law. But here the Court was empowered to deal with the whole range of the criminal law, including both common and statute law; and the trials, moreover. were conducted by a judge who was required to act as a prosecutor and a juryman at the same time. Collins was satisfied that "when the state of the colony and the nature of its inhabitants are considered, it must be agreed that the administration of public justice could not have been placed with so much propriety in any other hands". {5} No doubt it would have been a matter of some difficulty to establish, at the foundation of a colony, a Court of Justice strictly modelled according to English precedent. A jury of twelve men, free from all Crown influence, presided over by a judge learned in the law and equally independent of the Crown, forms the essential feature of an English Court of Justice; but such a jury could not have been got together in the early years of the colony, seeing that there were no free settlers at that period. That was one of the unfortunate results of the system on which the colony was founded. Every person charged with an offence was brought before a tribunal, the judge of which knew nothing of law, while he was not only a judge but a juryman; the other members of the Court being officers in the pay of the Crown, whose notions of justice were derived from their knowledge of Courts-martial. "He is brought before a Court", says Collins, "composed of a judge and six men of honour, who hear the evidence both for and against him, and determine whether the crime exhibited be or be not made out." To hear evidence is one thing, and to weigh it is another; and unless the evidence taken before the Judge-Advocate's Court was carefully weighed in every instance according to law, how could he be satisfied that the crime was made out in any case?

But the weighing of evidence is a branch of mental analysis for which the usual training of soldiers and sailors furnishes no qualifications. The danger, to which Courts-martial are peculiarly liable, of arriving at wrong conclusions at the trial of criminal charges, was painfully illustrated in a case mentioned by Sir Samuel Romilly. A sailor was tried by Court-martial in October, 1806, on a charge of mutiny, alleged to have been committed by him nine years previously, when he was a boy of sixteen. There was only one witness for the prosecution, who swore positively that he had seen the prisoner taking an active part in the mutiny; but at the same time he admitted that he had not seen the accused since that time. The latter read a written statement in defence, in which he begged for mercy on account of his youth. He was sentenced to be hanged, and was executed accordingly ten days after the trial. The case subsequently came before the Attorney-General and Romilly, then Solicitor-General; and from inquiries which they instituted, it was clearly proved that the man was innocent. "He had applied to another man to write a defence for him; and he had read it, thinking it calculated to excite compassion, and more likely to save him than a mere denial of the fact." {6}


{1} {return}

Tench, Narrative, p. 70.

{2} {return}

Phillip's commission did not give him any power to remit any part of the term of transportation for which offenders had been sent out to the colony but a power to that effect was given by a subsequent commission, dated 8 November, 1791; post, p. 542.

{3} {return}

Tytler, p. 349. The report of the trial of Lieutenant-Colonel Johnston, for mutiny in arresting and deposing Governor Bligh, held before a General Court-martial in 1811, furnishes a good illustration of the practice in those Courts. The Court was composed of fifteen military officers; Lieutenant-General Keppel being President, and the Right Honorable Charles Manners Sutton the Judge-Advocate.

{4} {return}

Post, p. 535.

{5} {return}

Account of the Colony, p. 12.

{6} {return}

Memoirs of Sir Samuel Romilly, vol. ii, p. 182.


TO understand the principles on which the criminal laws were administered by the Judge-Advocate's Court during the early years of the colony, it is necessary to recollect what those laws were in England throughout the same period. The progress of reform during the present century has brought about so many and such radical changes in the administration of justice, that we are apt to look back upon the proceedings of the Judge-Advocate's Court as if they formed an abnormal and unsightly excrescence on the fair body of English jurisprudence. Apart from the summary method in which the business of the Court was transacted, the want of all proportion between crime and its punishment seems in most cases to have been so excessive, that the severity of the law is usually attributed to the personal disposition of those who administered it. They have been regarded as the originators of a system under which all notions of justice and humanity were carefully excluded from view when an offender was brought up for trial; as if the infliction of some brutal punishment for its own sake was the solo aim and end of their proceedings. The cruel tortures of the lash are supposed to have been recklessly inflicted, and the hangman's rope to have been brought into requisition with almost as little scruple as the dreaded scourge.

The fact is, however, that the founders of the colony were hardly more responsible for the severity of the law than they were for the conditions of the atmosphere they had to breathe. The criminal laws which they brought with them from England had been put on board their ships, so to speak, like the salt pork and the weevilly flour; and they had to make the best of them. Bad as they were, they were still the laws of England, and the punishments which they entailed on offenders were not—as they often appear to be—the inventions of malignant gaolers, but the deliberate judgment of the Legislature. Long after Phillip had retired from the scene of his struggles, the laws which imposed the terrible sentences then in vogue remained in force in England. It was a capital offence, for instance, to pick a pocket—technically called "stealing privately from the person"; a capital offence to steal privately in a shop goods to the value of five shillings; to steal goods to the amount of forty shillings in a dwelling-house or on a navigable river; to steal linen from a bleaching-ground; to break and enter a dwelling-house; to steal a letter; to steal a horse, an ox, or a sheep; to be found begging, if a soldier or a sailor; to return to England after having been transported, if the term had not expired; to destroy any tree, plant, or shrub in a garden; to hunt any deer unlawfully; to appear armed, or with the face blacked or otherwise disguised, in any forest, warren, or place where hares or rabbits were usually kept, or on any high road, open heath, or common. The great number of offences of this description which had been declared to be capital felonies seems to have astonished even Blackstone, who loved to extol the humanity of the laws of England. He pointed out in 1769 that "among the variety of actions which men are daily liable to commit, no less than one hundred and sixty have been declared by Act of Parliament to be felonies without benefit of clergy." {1}

To realise the state of mind in which Phillip looked at the question of crime and punishment, we have only to picture to ourselves the scenes with which he had become familiar during his career in England, before he took command of the Expedition. From 1755, when he entered the navy, to 1787, when he sailed with the First Fleet, the criminal system of the last century may be said to have been in full bloom; and although most of Phillip's time was passed at sea, his visits to England, to say nothing of his residence in the New Forest as a country gentleman, gave him opportunities enough for seeing those peculiar spectacles which justified Charles Knight in describing London at that time as "the City of the Gallows." In going up the Thames, for instance, the traveller would probably see the gibbet standing on its banks, with the remains of mutineers, or persons who had committed murder on the high seas, hanging from them in chains. {2} One of the docks in London was called Execution Dock, because criminals of that class were usually condemned to suffer there. After they had been hanged, their bodies were cut down and removed to the gibbets on the banks of the Thames, where they were left to hang in chains. If he entered London by Oxford-street, Tyburn tree would certainly attract his attention, especially when ten or twelve criminals were about to suffer in the presence of a crowd of people gathered round it, indulging themselves in the sports and pastimes usual on such occasions. {3} If he passed over any of the heaths, commons, or forests which then surrounded London—say Blackheath, Wimbledon, or Finchley Common— a gibbet with a highwayman hanging in chains would probably form a conspicuous feature of the landscape. Even in the crowded streets of the city, he might have seen the gallows standing with its dreadful pendant. {4} In 1786, a scaffold was erected opposite a house in Charlotte-street, Rathbone Place, formerly inhabited by an attorney who had been murdered in it. The murderer was hanged in front of it, according to the prevalent custom of inflicting punishment on the spot where the crime had been committed. Seven years afterwards, a burglar was ordered for execution in Hatton Garden, near the house he had robbed; but having escaped execution by suicide, his body was exhibited in the neighbourhood, "extended upon a plank on the top of an open cart, in his clothes and fettered". {5} This, perhaps the most loathsome practice of the time, continued for many years afterwards. A similar case occurred in 1811, when the cart containing the suicide's body was preceded by a long procession composed of constables who cleared the way with their staves, a newly organised horse patrol with drawn swords, parish and peace officers, and the high constable of the county of Middlesex on horseback. {6} After the Lord George Gordon riots of 1780, the gallows was carried about from street to street of the city, and the condemned men were hanged on the spot pointed out by the witnesses as the scene of their outrages.

During the year in which Phillip sailed with the First Fleet, the number of persons executed in England was one hundred and one; crime at that time having apparently risen to its highest level. In the twelve years between 1771 and 1783, no less than four hundred and sixty-seven persons were hanged in London and Middlesex—an average of rather less than forty per annum. During the twenty-three years from 1749 to 1772, the number of persons condemned to death at the Old Bailey was one thousand one hundred and twenty-one, of whom six hundred and seventy-eight suffered death—a yearly average of less than thirty. {7} These figures relate to London only; they do not include the cases in the country towns to which the judges went on circuit at the Assizes. Executions were, comparatively, almost as common in the country as they were in the metropolis. The Lent Assizes of 1785 were followed by nine at Kingston, nine at Lincoln, and nine at Gloucester, seven at Warwick, six at Exeter, six at Winchester, and six at Salisbury, five at Shrewsbury, and so on all over the country. The total number of capital sentences in England for that year was two hundred and forty-two, out of which there were one hundred and three executions. {8}

London itself stood without a rival among all the capital cities of Europe in its display of public executions, just as it did in the abominations of prison life. The contrast between the criminal laws of England and those of other countries in Europe may be seen in the facts mentioned by Howard. When in Amsterdam on his tour of inquiry among the prisons of Europe, he found that during the eight years before his arrival there in 1783, only five criminals had been executed out of a population of two hundred and fifty thousand—about one-third of that of London. {9} In all the seven provinces which constituted the Dutch Republic, there were seldom more than five or six executions in the course of a year. These statistics are quite enough to justify Sir James FitzStephen's statement that the English people during the last century were, as a rule, "singularly reckless about taking human life." {10} Many allusions to this peculiar characteristic of the nation might be quoted from the literature of the last century. Sheridan illustrated it with his usual point when he asked, during the debate on a bill making it capital to destroy any tree, shrub, or plant in a garden—"was it under the pretence of protecting nursery grounds that they proposed to make it felony in a schoolboy to rob an orchard, or was it contended that gooseberry bushes ought to be fenced round with gibbets?"

It was to this recklessness about taking human life that the practice of duelling owed its popularity throughout the same period. The laws made to prevent it were evaded, the Courts winked at it when they could, and the opinion of Parliament—no doubt in harmony with that of society— seemed to be rather in its favour than otherwise. In the course of a debate in the House of Commons on the duel between the Earl of Shelburne and Mr. Pullarton in 1780, one member asked:—

Did the honorable gentleman think that any order or resolution of the House, that any Act of the Legislature, could prevent a gentleman going out, as it was termed, with another, if he felt his honor injured? Had gentlemen so soon forgot that there were Acts of Parliament against duelling now in being? The very attempt to prevent one man fighting with another was absurd, because it was impossible, by any regulation of Parliament, to prevent it.

To which Burke replied that the right honorable gentleman could not surely imagine that he was so absurd as to attempt to make laws for the restraint of the human feelings and passions. {11} He, therefore, saw nothing particularly reprehensible in the practice; for either he had nothing to say against it, or he thought it prudent to refrain from expressing his opinion. Pitt and Fox each fought his duel.

There were other exhibitions of human suffering to be seen in Phillip's time even more horrible than that of men hanging from the scaffold in public places. The old law under which women were burned as well as hanged for petit treason—that is, for killing a husband or a master, or for coining—was not abolished till 1789. In the year before, it was put in force against a woman convicted of coining; but out of consideration for her sex, she was first strangled and then burned. Having been tied by the neck to an iron bolt fixed near the top of the stake, the steps on which she stood were drawn away and she was left hanging; a chain attached to the stake was then fastened round her body; two cartloads of wood were piled about her, and after she had hung for half an hour the fire was kindled. The flames soon burned the halter, when the body fell a few inches and hung by the iron chain. This scene took place in front of Newgate Gaol, in the presence of the usual crowd. Other executions of the same kind took place in 1767, 1750, and 1726. In the last case the woman was burned alive. "The fire reaching the hangman's hands, he let go the rope by which she was to have been strangled, and the flames slowly consumed her as she pushed the blazing faggots from her, rending the air with her agonised cries." {12}

These were not the only cruel forms of punishment to which women were subjected during the same period. They were frequently ordered to be flogged or whipped, sometimes at the cart's tail in public, and sometimes in prison. In 1764, for instance, a woman was three times conveyed in a cart from Clerkenwell Bridewell to Enfield, and publicly whipped at the cart's tail by the common hangman. The offence for which she suffered was "cutting down and destroying wood in Enfield Chase"—probably to light her fire. {13} Women were not only whipped by order of Court for the offences they had committed, but they were punished in the same manner while in prison at the discretion of the authorities. A whipping-post was set up in every prison yard, and they were mercilessly castigated at it for neglect of duty or insubordination; the punishment being inflicted on their bare backs. This form of punishment lasted till 1820.

Female offenders seem to have been treated with quite as much severity as the men, if not with more; they were not only burned as well as hanged, not only flogged in public as well as in private, but they were heavily ironed and often left in gaol without clothes enough to preserve common decency. Phillip's letters describe the condition of the women put on board the transports in 1787 as disgusting; they were very filthy and almost naked; and notwithstanding his repeated requests for clothing, they were allowed to sail without it—a neglect which seems to have been quite in keeping with official practice long after the sailing of the First Fleet. When Mrs. Fry began her visits to the female prisoners in Newgate in 1813, she found them all in the state described by Phillip. Even before they were lodged in gaol, they were shamefully neglected and ill-treated.

Many were brought to the prison almost without clothes. If coming from a distance, as in the case of convicts lodged in Newgate until embarkation, they were almost invariably ironed, and often cruelly so. One lady saw the female prisoners from Lancaster Castle arrive, not merely handcuffed, but with heavy irons on their legs, which had caused swelling and inflammation. Others wore iron hoops round their legs and arms, and were chained to each other. On the journey, these poor souls could not get up or down from the coach without the whole of them being dragged together. {14}

If this was the manner in which females were treated in 1813, it is safe to infer that they did not meet with more consideration in 1787. The women put on board the First Fleet had no doubt been dragged about the country in irons from the time they left the gaols till they were delivered on board the ships at Portsmouth.

The practice of putting prisoners of both sexes in irons, even before their trial, had been long established, although it was known to be illegal—so far at least as concerned persons awaiting trial. {15} The only excuse that could be offered for it was, that it was difficult to prevent the escape of prisoners, unless they were loaded with clanking irons, owing to the insecurity of the buildings in which they were confined. This cruelty was not only practised in the case of persons actually in gaol, but those who were on their way to it were subjected to the same hardship. There were no police vans or any other vehicles of the kind to convey them from Court to prison; they were marched through the streets in gangs, handcuffed to one another, or linked to a long chain, men and women alike. Anyone who had money to pay for a vehicle might have one, provided the escort warder thought fit to make such a concession, or was honest enough to get the vehicle after receiving the money. Prison vans did not come into use until 1827, when "caravans", as they were called, were introduced. {16}

Flogging was a popular form of punishment from very early times in England. It was freely administered to all kinds of petty offenders—thieves, prostitutes, street brawlers, rogues and vagabonds; the punishment taking place sometimes in public and sometimes in the gaols. When it took place in public the offender was tied to a cart's tail and flogged through the streets, or at the market-place. In the time of Elizabeth, the whipping-post was an established institution in every town and village. The municipal records contain frequent allusions to the practice. The fee paid to the officer of justice was usually fourpence in each case. Sometimes women were employed to whip offenders of their own sex. By an Act passed in the reign of Elizabeth, every vagabond was to be publicly whipped and then sent to the parish where he was born; and the law remained in force till the reign of Anne. The poet Cowper, in one of his letters, describes the flogging of a young thief through the town of Olney. In London, the principal places for punishment of this description appear to have been the Bridewells, or houses of correction. The spectacle was open to the public and was largely attended by sightseers. De Foe has described the scene with characteristic force in his Life of Colonel Jack. According to the practice of the time, the men and women taken into custody by the watch were brought before the magistrates and usually committed to Bridewell. They were then brought before the Court of Governors on their usual sitting day; the offence in each case was stated by the beadles, and the Court gave its decision, generally to the effect that the offenders should be corrected on the spot. The beadles at once prepared the culprits for punishment by stripping their clothes off, and the flogging was administered until the president thought proper to stop it, which he did by rapping with a hammer on the table. At the close of this ceremony, the prisoners were handed over to the officials to pass the term of their imprisonment in beating hemp. {17}

The practice of flogging in the army and navy was carried to an extreme in Phillip's time which seems incredible in the present day. The most notorious instance of excessive punishment will be found in the trial of Governor Wall, who was executed in 1802 for having caused the death of a sergeant named Armstrong at Goree, an island off the African coast, twenty years previously. According to the statement made by the Attorney-General at the trial, Armstrong's offence consisted in his having gone with several other soldiers to the paymaster's house for a settlement of their claims. Although he was not guilty of any mutinous or disrespectful conduct. Wall, who was commandant of the garrison, without any form of trial or inquiry, ordered him to be punished with eight hundred lashes, and personally superintended the flogging. The unfortunate man was stripped and tied to a gun-carriage, and two black men were employed to flog him with a rope one inch in diameter. He died in hospital five days afterwards. {18}

Although there was no doubt that Wall deserved punishment, there was at least one consideration that might have been urged in support of his plea for mercy. He was the victim of a vicious system which had established itself in the army and navy, under which it had become a common practice among commanders in both services to inflict punishment on their own authority, without the intervention of any Court-martial. Romilly mentions a case which was brought before the Privy Council while he was Solicitor-General in Fox's administration of 1806. A lieutenant in the navy was charged with the murder of three seamen at Bombay in the year 1801. They had been flogged without any Court-martial having been held on them; and the punishment was inflicted with such horrible severity that they all three died in less than twenty-four hours after it was over. In the course of the examination before the Council, it appeared that it was not uncommon for officers of the navy to inflict very severe punishment on their own authority, without any Court-martial; their idea being that it was lawful to do so. {19}

Two other instances are mentioned by Romilly which seem to have originated in the same spirit of reckless indifference to results. One was that of a soldier at Gibraltar "whose only offence was that he had come dirty upon the parade", and who was thereupon flogged with such severity that he died a few days afterwards. In the other case, a man who had been thirty years in the Guards, and who had been removed into the veteran battalion in the Tower as a reward for his good conduct throughout that time, was sentenced at the age of sixty to receive three hundred lashes, "because he had been absent a day" from duty. {20} Romilly does not state that these punishments were inflicted without trial, but a charge of "appearing dirty on parade" would seem to be rather beneath the dignity of a military Court. The Courts-martial of the flogging days, however, did not stand much upon their dignity in these matters. Any breach of discipline, however slight, was sufficient to set the law in motion. In 1792, a sergeant named Grant was sentenced to one thousand lashes for having enlisted two drummers of the Coldstream Guards into the East India Company's service. And in 1832, a private in the Scots Greys was tried and sentenced to two hundred lashes "for highly unsoldierlike conduct in dismounting without leave, when taking his lesson in the riding-school, and absolutely refusing to remount his horse when ordered to do so". Many other instances of the same kind might be quoted.

The manner in which this form of punishment was administered in the army is forcibly described by Sir Charles Napier. Referring to the time when he was a subaltern, he says:—

I then frequently saw six hundred, seven hundred, eight hundred, nine hundred, and a thousand lashes sentenced by regimental Courts-martial; and generally every lash inflicted. I have heard of twelve hundred having been inflicted, but never witnessed such an execution. Even a General Court-martial cannot do this now. Its sentence cannot exceed two hundred lashes. I then often saw the unhappy victim of such barbarous work brought out from the hospital three and four times to receive the remainder of his punishment, too severe to be borne without danger of death at one flogging; and sometimes I have witnessed this prolonged torture applied for the avowed purpose of adding to its severity. On these occasions it was terrible to see the new tender skin of the scarcely healed back again laid bare to receive the lash. I declare that, accustomed as I was to such scenes, I could not on these occasions bear to look at the first blows: the feeling of horror which ran through the ranks was evident, and all soldiers know the frequent faintings that take place among recruits when they first see a soldier flogged.

Some commanders appear to have studied flogging as an art, with a view to the infliction of the greatest possible torture on the victim:—

I have heard, and I have no doubt of the fact because it was generally talked of and admitted to be so, though I never saw it, that there were commanding officers who distributed the lashes from the poll of the neck to the heel; thus flaying the shoulders, posteriors, thighs, and calves of the legs, multiplying the torment enormously; but I believe it was done, and legally, too, according to the wording of the sentence which ordered or permitted such cruelty.

But even artistic flogging was effective only up to a certain point:—

I have seen many hundreds of men flogged, and have always observed that when the skin is thoroughly cut up, or flayed off, the great pain subsides. Men are frequently convulsed and screaming during the time they receive from one lash to three hundred lashes, and they bear the remainder, even to eight hundred or a thousand lashes without a groan; they will often lie as if without life, and the drummers appear to be flogging a lump of dead raw flesh. {21}

Bad as matters were in the army, they were even worse in the navy. The captain of a ship afloat was practically judge and jury in all cases; public opinion rarely or never reached him, and he was consequently under no restraint in the exercise of his powers; while the prospect of obtaining redress by complaint to the Admiralty was too remote in those days to afford any protection to the men under his command. But that was not all:—

One lash in the navy was considered equivalent in severity to several in the army; and although the lashes were numbered by dozens instead of hundreds, twelve stripes afloat were fully equal to a hundred on shore. This was partly owing to the make and material of the cat, and also to the mode of flogging. The naval cat was altogether more formidable than the military one, being made out of a piece of rope thicker than a man's wrist, five feet in length all over, three of which were stiff and solid stuff, and the remaining two feet ravelled into hard twisted and knotted ends. {22}

The sentence of a Court-martial was not considered a necessary preliminary to the use of the cat on board a man-of-war. There may be some exaggeration in the stories told by Marryat on the subject; but if his narratives were not always founded on fact, his descriptions were drawn from his own experience during the years he was at sea. The story of the captain of an eighteen-gun brig ordering five dozen lashes to be given to a seaman for spitting on the quarter-deck, may be a humourous invention; but it is nevertheless a good illustration of the manner in which punishment was usually administered in the navy at that period. It was inflicted not only by the captains and superior officers, but by the boatswain and boatswain's mates, who carried rattans or rope's ends to quicken the movements of the men. The practice continued for many years after the close of the last century. The agitation in Parliament for its abolition began in 1811; but it was not until 1859 that corporal punishment in the navy was restricted to cases of insubordination or other serious offences, established before a Court of inquiry held by a captain and two lieutenants. {23} The results of the abolition form an unanswerable argument in favor of the reform. At no time in the history of the army and navy was discipline better than it is in the present day, when flogging is never heard of; a fact which justifies the conclusion that discipline might have been maintained in both services throughout the whole of the flogging period without any recourse to that method of correction.

The temper of the age with respect to the question of crime and its punishment may perhaps be best understood by reviewing the efforts made to reform the existing system. During the eighteenth century no serious or systematic effort was made for that purpose; it is doubtful, indeed, whether the House of Commons would have listened to any proposals of the kind. The Lords would certainly have rejected item as summarily as they would have negatived a motion to extend the franchise to the working classes, or a bill to abolish the penal laws against the Roman Catholics. The political speeches and memoirs of the time are curiously silent on the subject. No member of either House had ventured to take up the question as Romilly took it up in later years. Not one of the many great speeches delivered by Burke, Pox, Pitt, and Sheridan was devoted to the question. While boys were frequently hanged in rows for offences for which they would now be sent to reformatories, the great statesmen and orators of the day looked on in silence. They appear to have taken little or no interest in social problems, partly because such questions were lost sight of in the greater attractions of foreign affairs, culminating at one time in the war of American Independence, and at another in the French Revolution; and partly because politicians had not then learned to look upon the reform of social evils as of paramount importance to the welfare of the nation. During Pitt's eighteen years of office he might have effected any changes in the administration of justice he pleased; but he left it as he found it, not having effected, or even sought to effect, any material changes in it whatever.

No statesman of the day was better qualified than Burke to deal with such a subject; he had not only studied jurisprudence, but he had an instinctive perception of its principles; and yet in the whole circuit of his studies there is no evidence that he had devoted any serious attention to the reform of a system which he knew to be radically defective. {24} A casual reference to the matter may be found here and there in his speeches, enough to show that the tendency of his own mind was wholly opposed to the barbarous code and revolting methods of punishment then in existence; but at the same time it is equally clear that, for reasons we can only conjecture, he refrained from touching the work of reform. On one occasion during the year 1780, he was roused from his apparent indifference by an occurrence which had come under his notice "in the newspapers of that morning." Two men had been put in the pillory the day before, and had been so cruelly ill-treated that one of them was killed outright, while the other was removed in a dying state. Burke's statement of the facts was prefaced by the following remarks:—

In making criminal laws, it behoved them materially to consider how they proceeded, to take care wisely and nicely to proportion the punishment so that it should not exceed the extent of the punishment, crime, and to provide that it should be of that kind which was more calculated to operate as an example and prevent crimes than to oppress and torment the convicted criminal. {25}

He did not give the House his opinion as to the actual proportion between crime and punishment, but rather left it to infer that, as a rule, one was "wisely and nicely" proportioned to the other. The case to which he referred might well have led him to look a little further than the mere facts connected with it. One of the victims being not only short but short-necked, could not reach the hole in the pillory made for the head, whereupon "the officers of justice" forced his head through the hole, so that he hung rather than walked as the pillory went round. The result was that he soon grew black in the face, and the blood forced itself out of his nostrils, eyes, and ears. Knowing the treatment he would probably receive from the mob when he was exposed to their violence, he had begged hard for mercy before his punishment began; but his plea was not listened to, and he was immediately attacked with so much fury that the officers, in order to save him, opened the machine, when he fell down dead.

Burke spoke of this atrocious proceeding as "a melancholy circumstance"—language he might have used had he been speaking of someone who had fallen down stairs and broken his leg. No one in his day could use the language of invective with more effect; but on this occasion he contented himself with a very mild remonstrance. He asked the House whether it would not be right to abolish a mode of punishment liable to such perversion, and intimated at the same time that if no man would take the matter in hand, he would bring in a bill for the purpose. But no bill was brought in for the purpose either by him or by any other member. The Attorney-General said in reply that he would require to consult the judges before he could interfere; but the result of his consultations, if any, was never seen. {26}

If Burke was disposed to be silent on the subject of reform, he was equally reserved as to the moral effect of such a system of punishment on the masses. He saw clearly enough, no doubt, that under the debasing influence of public exhibitions, men had become not only indifferent to suffering, but had learned to look on it as a source of amusement. Had it not been so, such a scene could not have been witnessed in the streets of London. But it would have been useless to raise any question as to the moral result of an established system. It was the settled conviction of society that exhibitions of the kind were necessary in order to deter people from committing crime; just as the practice of mutilating and branding offenders was retained for centuries in the belief that it was the best means of producing a good moral impression on the multitude.

Educated as he was under such influences as these, it is not to be wondered at that Phillip brought with him to Sydney Cove the current doctrine of his times. When, for instance, in the heat of his indignation at a deliberate murder committed by the natives at Botany Bay, he instructed Captain Tench, before setting out on an expedition in search of the murderers, to "cut off and bring in the heads of the slain, for which purpose hatchets and bags would be provided", he was manifestly influenced by the eighteenth century belief in the efficacy of ghastly spectacles. His idea was that, by fixing the heads of the natives on poles around the settlement, he would deter others from committing similar outrages. The effect of such a spectacle would probably have been just the reverse. The feeling of repulsion provoked by exhibitions of that kind on minds not accustomed to them was shown in the case already referred to, when a convict was flogged in the presence of the natives. The only result was to make them sympathise with the sufferer and turn against those who punished him, whom they had not yet learned to look upon as "the officers of justice."

The reform of the criminal law made no appreciable progress until it was taken in hand by Sir Samuel Romilly, who identified himself with the cause as zealously as Wilberforce devoted himself to the abolition of the slave trade. Compared with his design, however, Romilly's actual achievements were very limited; the greatest consisted in having thoroughly awakened men's minds on the subject, and so prepared the way for his successors. The determined opposition he met with, even in places where he might reasonably have looked for sympathy, if not with active assistance, is enough to show the nature of the task he had undertaken. In 1808, he succeeded in passing a bill to repeal the old Act which punished pocket-picking with death; but he met with very different results two years afterwards, when he introduced bills to substitute transportation for death in cases of stealing in shops or dwelling-houses. The bills were passed in the Commons, but were thrown out by a majority of nearly three to one in the Lords. Among those who opposed the stealing-in-shops bill were seven bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury among them. Romilly charitably supposed that they voted against his bill "out of servility towards the Government"; because he was unwilling to believe that they, "recollecting the mild doctrines of their religion, could have come down to the House spontaneously to vote that transportation for life is not a sufficiently severe punishment for the offence of pilfering five shillings worth of property, and that nothing but the blood of the offender could afford an adequate atonement for such a transgression." {27}

It was not necessary to impute servility to the bishops in order to account for their votes. They may be credited with having acted conscientiously, seeing that their opinions coincided with those of distinguished law lords, refined moral philosophers and other eminent persons, including the members of the Perceval Government. Perhaps the most popular as well as the most authoritative work on moral and political philosophy in their days was Paley's, originally published in 1785; and Paley not only approved of but applauded the criminal laws of his time, as the best possible method of administering penal justice. His view was that the law of England, by the number of statutes creating capital offences, swept into the net every crime which under any possible circumstances might merit the punishment of death; but that when the execution of the sentence came under the consideration of the Executive, a small proportion only of each class of offenders was singled out to serve as examples to the rest. By this means, while few criminals actually suffered death, "the tenderness of the law" could not be taken advantage of by others. The happy result so arrived at proved "the wisdom and humanity" of the the design. {28}

To minds fed on such diet as that, any proposals for reform, which had the appearance of relaxing the iron grasp of the law, seemed to be so many dangerous innovations, threatening the security of property and therefore the foundations of society. Proposals for the education of the poor in public schools were looked at in much the same light and met with almost as much opposition. Every other movement in the direction of reform—we might, perhaps, except John Howard's agitation for the improvement of the prisons—met with a similar fate. It was sufficient to stigmatise any scheme for reform as an "innovation" in order to enlist against it every one who believed in things as they were, instead of things as they should be. Even the proposal to do away with the procession to Tyburn met with opposition; and the kind of argument which was considered good logic in 1783 may be seen in Dr. Johnson's remarks on the subject:—

"The age is running mad after innovation; and all the business of the world is to be done in a new way; men are to be hanged in a new way; Tyburn itself is not safe from the fury of innovation." It having been argued that this was an improvement:— "No, sir," said he, eagerly, "it is not an improvement: they object that the old method drew together a number of spectators. Sir, executions are intended to draw spectators. If they do not draw spectators, they don't answer their purpose. The old method was most satisfactory to all parties; the public was gratified by a procession; the criminal was supported by it. Why is all this to be swept away?"

To which Boswell thought it necessary to add:—

I perfectly agree with Dr. Johnson on this head, and am persuaded that executions now, the solemn procession being discontinued, have not nearly the effect which they formerly had. Magistrates, both in London and elsewhere, have, I am afraid, in this had too much regard to their own ease. {29}

While Phillip and his immediate successors in office have been unsparingly criticised here for the apparent severity with which the law was administered during their time, it is clear that, in the eyes of their contemporaries in England, their administration would probably have been considered rather too lenient than otherwise. The prerogative of mercy was frequently exercised by Phillip, and his example was followed by Hunter and King. A striking illustration of English opinion on the subject presents itself in a letter written by Sir Joseph Banks to Governor King in 1804, in which he referred to this matter with marked emphasis:—

There is only one part of your conduct as Governor which I do not think right—that is, your frequent reprieves. I would have justice, in the case of those under your command who have already forfeited their lives and been once admitted to a commutation of punishment, to be certain and inflexible, and no one instance on record where mere mercy, which is a deceiving sentiment, should be permitted to move your mind from the inexorable decree of blind justice. Circumstances may often make clemency necessary—I mean those of suspected error in conviction, but mere whimpering soft-heartedness never should be heard.

The plain inference from this language is, that every convict who committed a second offence, for which he was liable to death as the law then stood, should be hanged without mercy. We have only to recall the long list of capital offences at that time to understand what Sir Joseph meant by "the inexorable decree of blind justice." Had he not been generally credited by those who knew him with great generosity and kindliness of disposition, such a stern denunciation of "whimpering soft-heartedness" might be quoted as evidence of a very different character.

The current of public opinion with respect to the criminal law may be seen in the kind of legislation that met with favour in Parliament, as well as in that which met with no favour at all. While it proved to be such a very difficult matter to repeal a law inflicting death for a trifling offence, nothing seemed easier than to pass an Act imposing it for a new one, however trivial it might be. Romilly mentions that, during the session of 1816, a bill was introduced in the Commons by a colliery proprietor making it a capital offence to destroy any machinery employed in a colliery, although there was a law already in existence to that effect. The bill attracted no attention in the House, but passed through all its stages as a matter of course—"as if the life of a man was of so little account with us that anyone might at his pleasure add to the long list of capital crimes which disgrace our statute books." {30} Burke made the same remark thirty years before.

The laws in question were made for the protection of property, and were made at the instance of property owners— merchants, manufacturers, and country gentlemen—who held seats in Parliament.

A merchant or squire goes into the House of Commons exasperated by the loss of his broadcloth or the robbery of his fish, and immediately endeavours to restrain the crime by severe penalties. Hence it is that, every man judging that to be the most deadly offence by which he is himself a sufferer, the Parliament has permitted the statute book to be loaded with the penalty of death for upwards of two hundred offences. {31}

When Burke went down to Bristol in 1780 to address his constituents, a portion of his speech was occupied with an elaborate defence of his votes in favour of a bill introduced into the House of Commons during the previous session, dealing with the law relating to imprisonment for debt; It proposed to restrict in some measure the unlimited debt, power, then exercised by creditors, of detaining a debtor in prison as long as the debt was unpaid. Reform of that kind was not in favour among the commercial classes of Bristol, who probably regarded it as calculated to prejudice their securities. The absurdity as well as the injustice of the system was exposed by Burke in a few sentences, which display his intuitive perception of principles. In the first place, he said, every man was presumed by the law to be solvent—a presumption quite at variance with facts; and secondly, imprisonment for debt was inflicted, not because an impartial judge considered it necessary, but because an interested and irritated individual chose to demand it; the judge being a passive instrument in his hands. To such an extent had this abuse been carried that the gaols were everywhere crowded with miserable debtors, and Parliament was frequently obliged to interfere. For a long time previously, "Acts of Grace" had been passed once, and latterly twice, in every Parliament, by which the gaol-doors were thrown open and their inmates released. These Acts were described as

a dishonourable invention by which, not from humanity, not from Policy, but merely because we have not room enough to hold these Victims of the absurdity of our laws, we turn loose upon the publick three or four thousand naked wretches corrupted by the habits, debased by the ignominy of a prison.


{1} {return}

Commentaries, 2nd ed., vol. iv, p. 18; post, p. 545. The class of offenders usually executed at Tyburn may be gathered from the following:—"Yesterday morning, about nine o'clock, the following malefactors were brought out of Newgate and carried to Tyburn in three carts, where they were executed according to their sentences, viz.:—Henry Berthand, for feloniously personating one Mark Groves, the proprietor of £100 three per cent. annuities, and transferring the same as if he was the real owner thereof; William Jones, for stealing in a warehouse, in Aldersgate-street, a deal box containing a quantity of haberdashery goods; Peter Verrier, accomplice with Charles Kelly, executed for burglary in the house of Mrs. Pollard, in Great Queen-street; William Odern, for robbing two women in Spawfields; Charles Woolett, for robbing Bernard John Cheale, on the highway, of a metal watch; John Graham, for feloniously altering the principal sum of a bank note of £15, so as to make the same appear to be a bank note of £50, with intent to defraud; Charlotte Goodall and John Edmonds, for stealing in the dwelling-house of Mrs. Fortesque, at Tottenham, where she lived as servant, a great quantity of plate, linen, &c.; Thomas Cladenboul, for assaulting Robert Chilton on the highway and robbing him of a gold watch; John Weatherley and John Lafee, for feloniously and treasonably coining and counterfeiting the silver moneys of the realm called shillings and sixpences. They all behaved very penitent."— London Evening Post, 9 October, 1782.

{2} {return}

Andrews, Eighteenth Century, p. 269; Hogarth, The Idle 'Prentice sent to Sea. The practice of hanging in chains was not confined to cases of piracy or mutiny; the bodies of murderers and highwaymen were usually hung in that manner. A murderer was hanged in chains on Rock Island in 1796; Collins, vol. ii, p. 10. The practice of hanging in chains had fallen into disuse in England by 1832; out an attempt was made to revive it at that date, when the Act for dispensing with the dissection of criminals was passed. A clause was inserted to the effect that the bodies of all prisoners convicted of murder should either be hung in chains, or buried under the gallows on which they had been executed, according to the discretion of the Court.

{3} {return}

Hogarth, The Idle 'Prentice executed at Tyburn.

{4} {return}

"All the gibbets in the Edgeware Road, on which many malefactors were hung in chains, were cut down by persons unknown."—Annual Register, 3 April,1763.

{5} {return}

Griffiths, Chronicles of Newgate (1884), vol. ii, pp. 232-3.

{6} {return}

Ib., vol. ii, p. 267.

{7} {return}

Howard, State of the Prisons, 4th ed., 1792, pp. 482-4.

{8} {return}

Griffiths, vol. ii, p. 3. The number of executions in England during the present century decreased from year to year, notwithstanding the rapid increase of population. Mulhall's Dictionary of Statistics gives the number executed in England and Wales from 1801 to 1820 at one thousand six hundred and ninety-seven, or eighty-five per annum; between 1821 and 1830, the number was six hundred and seventy-two, or sixty-seven per annum; and between 1831 and 1850, the number was three hundred and sixty-five, or eighteen per annum; the total number for the half-century being two thousand seven hundred and thirty-four. The population of England had increased from 8,800,000 in 1801 to 18,000,000 in 1851. The population in 1780 was 8,000,000.

{9} {return}

State of the Prisons, p. 56.

{10} {return}

History of the Criminal Law, vol. i, p. 478. The recklessness was shown not only in the multitude of cases in which life was taken, but in the manner of taking it. By an Act passed in 1752, for instance, murderers were allowed but one clear day to prepare for death; and after execution their bodies were handed over to the surgeon for anatomical practice. The frequency of executions may be gathered from the following:—

John Townshend, a Bow-street officer examined before a Committee of the House of Commons in 1816, relates in his evidence that Lord Chief Justice Eyre once went the Home Circuit, beginning at Hertford and finishing at Kingston, when crimes were so desperate that in his charge to the Grand Jury at Hertford he told them to be careful what bills they found, for he had made up his mind, whatever persons were convicted throughout the circuit for capital offences, to hang them all. And he kept his word; he saved neither man nor woman. In one case seven people, four men and three women, were convicted of robbing a pedlar in a house in Kent-street. "They were all convicted," says Townshend, "and all hanged in Kent-street opposite the door; and, I think, on Kennington Common eight more, making fifteen; all that were convicted were hung." And, generally, he observes in another part of his evidence, "with respect to the present time and the early part of my time, such as 1781-2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7, where there is one person convicted now, I may say I am positively convinced there were five then; we never had an execution wherein we did not grace that unfortunate gibbet with ten, twelve to thirteen, sixteen, and twenty."—Charles Knight, "London", vol. iv, p. 237.

{11} {return}

Parliamentary History, vol. xxi, pp. 324-6. Dr. Johnson defended the practice of duelling.—Boswell's Johnson, by Napier, vol. ii, p. 73; iii, p. 316 n.; iv, pp. 12, 205.

{12} {return}

Griffiths, vol. ii, p. 237; vol. i, p. 354.

{13} {return}

Andrews, p. 294.

{14} {return}

Griffiths, vol. ii, p. 136.

{15} {return}

The law will not justify jailers in fettering a prisoner unless when he is unruly, or has attempted an escape. In 1728, the judges reprimanded the warders of the Fleet prison, and declared that a jailer could not answer the ironing of a man before he was found guilty of a crime.—Blackstone, Comm. book iv, c. 22.

{16} {return}

Griffiths, vol. i, p. 165.

{17} {return}

History of the Rod, pp. 150, 196. Flogging was as common in Scotland as in England. The last exhibition in the streets of Edinburgh la described at length in the same work, p. 189.

{18} {return}

Burke, Celebrated Naval and Military Trials, p. 339.

{19} {return}

Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 133.

{20} {return}

Ib., vol. ii, p. 362.

{21} {return}

Remarks on Military-Law and the Punishment of Flogging, 1837.

{22} {return}

History of the Rod, p. 369. "The military cat was a weapon about eighteen inches in length, armed with thongs of the same length, each thong bearing live or six knots, compressed and hardened into sharp edges till each had acquired the consistency of horn."—Ib., p. 357.

{23} {return}

Ib., p. 570. Flogging in the army was abolished in time of peace in 1868, and totally abolished in 1881. A proposal to abolish it in the navy was negatived in the House of Commons in 1879, by 239 votes to 56.—Haydn, Dictionary of Dates.

{24} {return}

On a motion to commit a bill making it felony to destroy any tree, plant, or shrub in a garden by day or night, Burke said that "the whole system of the penal laws was radically defective", and he recommended "a revision of the whole criminal law, which, in its present state, he considered abominable." Parliamentary History, vol. xxviii, p. 146. The bill referred to may be taken as a specimen of many other measures of the same kind, generally introduced by property owners for their own protection.

{25} {return}

Parliamentary History, vol. xxi, p. 387.

{26} {return}

The pillory was not finally abolished until 1837. A bill for its abolition was rejected by the Lords in 1815 on the motion of Lord Ellenborough, who said that the subject required consideration and ought to be referred to the judges. "He talked about the antiquity of the punishment both in England and the rest of Europe, and said that it was mentioned by Fleta and Ducange; and as usual declaimed against innovation."—Romilly, vol. iii, p. 189.

{27} {return}

Memoirs, vol. ii, p. 325.

{28} {return}

The tenderness of the law seems to have been an article of faith with many men besides Blackstone and Paley. Burke, for instance, in a speech delivered in the House of Commons in 1785, spoke of England as "a country which prided itself on the mild and indulgent principles of its laws"; and again, of "the mild spirit and principles of the English laws." Post, p. 491.

Paley furnishes a curious illustration of the "wisdom and humanity" of the laws in another part of his work, in which he treats of relative duties in connection with property. If, he says, you should see a flock of pigeons in a field of corn, ninety-nine of them gathering all they got into a heap for one, and that the weakest, perhaps worst, of the flock; and if one of them, more hardy or hungry than the rest, should touch a grain of the hoard, and if all the others should instantly fly upon it and tear it to pieces, you would see nothing more than what is every day practised and established among men; "ninety and nine toiling and scraping together a heap of superfluities for one, oftentimes the feeblest and worst of the whole set; and if one of the number take or touch a particle of the hoard, the others joining against him and hanging him for the theft."

{29} {return}

Boswell's Johnson, by Napier, vol. iii, p. 297. The public procession from Newgate to Tyburn was not abolished untill 1783; from that date executions took place in front of Newgate Gaol. Lecky (Eighteenth Century, vol. vi, p. 251) speaks of the "disgusting scene of ribaldry and profanity which habitually took place when the criminal was carried for more than two miles through the most crowded thoroughfares in London. So brutal and brutalising a spectacle could be seen in no other capital in Europe." It is well described in Griffiths, vol. ii, p. 246.

{30} {return}

Memoirs, vol. iii, p. 260. "Mr. Burke once told me that, on a certain occasion when he was leaving the House, one of the messengers called him back, and on his saying he was going on urgent business, replied, 'Oh! it will not keep you a single moment; it is only a felony without benefit of clergy!' He also assured me that although, as may be imagined from his political career, he was not often entitled to ask favour from the Ministry of the day, he was persuaded that his interest was at any time good enough to obtain their assent to the creation of a felony without benefit of clergy."—Sir James Mackintosh, Speech on moving for a Committee to inquire into the state of the Criminal Law, 1819.

{31} {return}

Russell, English Government and Constitution, p. 242.


THE value of contemporary records in connection with the foundation of a colony was fortunately recognised in the official circle which surrounded Phillip; and thus it happened that no less than four members of his staff devoted their attention from the first to the work of recording in their journals from day to day the various events of importance connected with the work they had in hand. Captain Hunter, Captain Tench, Judge-Advocate Collins, and Surgeon White, each kept his diary faithfully, and each did so with a view to the publication of its contents. Lieutenant King also entered in his note-books the various incidents of the voyage out in the First Fleet, and the proceedings at Norfolk Island during the time he was in command there; but he did not write for publication, although his Norfolk Island journal was published in Captain Hunter's volume. Taken altogether, these records comprise a very full and varied account of the "transactions" connected with Phillip's expedition. Each was written from a different standpoint, and consequently each presents the reader with a different view of the events recorded. Their subsequent appearance in print attracted very considerable attention, not only in England, but on the Continent—a fact attested by the appearance of successive editions as well as of several translations into foreign languages. {1}

The first publication which gave the English public an 1789 authentic account of the results of Phillip's expedition was the book commonly known as Phillip's Voyage {2}—a handsome quarto volume, "embellished with fifty-five copper-plates", which made its appearance in the year 1789. It was practically an official production, published by John Stockdale, of Piccadilly, the well-known Government printer of the day. The historical part of the work was based on the despatches received from Phillip, the latest date being November, 1788; the rest of the matter being made up partly of descriptive sketches of animals, birds, and fishes, illustrated by hand-painted engravings; and partly of accounts of voyages made by some of the transports on their return from the colony to Batavia, England, and China. Phillip's despatches, "which were liberally communicated by Government", were written out with editorial decorations by the compiler for the purpose of presenting a connected narrative of events. The portion of the work devoted to natural history was apparently done by several hands, and judging from the appearance of the illustrations, few of them were drawn and coloured from real life. The Voyage proved a very readable publication, and no doubt made a good impression on the public mind with respect to the prospects of the distant settlement. The work passed through three editions in the course of the following year, and was shortly afterwards translated into French and German. It contains a curiosity in the shape of an "elegant. vignette" on the title-page, representing Hope standing in classical attire on the shores of Sydney Cove and addressing words of encouragement to Art and Labour, attended by Peace. This vignette was engraved from a medallion, "which the ingenious Mr. Wedgwood caused to be modelled from a small piece of clay brought from Sydney Cove." The clay had been sent by Phillip through Lord Sydney to Sir Joseph Banks, and had been handed by him to Wedgwood for the purpose of being chemically analysed. It was then pronounced "an excellent material for pottery", and an opinion was expressed that "it might certainly be made the basis of a valuable manufacture for our infant colony." The idea thus suggested was illustrated by the medallion; and in order to give further effect to it, the aid of poetic inspiration was sought in the person of Dr. Erasmus Darwin—"a mighty master of unmeaning rhyme", as Byron called him, and an old friend of Wedgwood's—who wrote the prophetic lines describing the "Visit of Hope to Sydney Cove, near Botany Bay", published with the vignette in Phillip's Voyage. {3}

The next publication in order of date was Captain Tench's Narrative of the Expedition—a small octavo published in 1789, the author's introduction being dated from Sydney Cove, July 10, 1788. In offering his little tract—as he called it—to the public. Tench remarked that it was his wish to supply amusement as well as information; and it may be admitted that he was not unsuccessful in his effort— his book being pleasant reading, notwithstanding an occasional glimpse of the gloomy times he lived in. He was evidently an observant traveller, with a keen eye for a picture or a dramatic situation; disposed to take a genial view of everything, as far as he could; and much given to poetical quotations and good stories. {4} He had a faculty for description of which he does not seem to have been conscious, or he would have been tempted to make greater use of it. The excitement on board the Fleet at Botany Bay, when the two French ships suddenly appeared in the offing, can be seen at a glance in the following lines:—

The thoughts of removal [from Botany Bay to Port Jackson] banished sleep, so that I rose at the first dawn of the morning. But judge of my surprise on hearing from a sergeant who ran down almost breathless to the cabin where I was dressing, that a ship was seen off the harbour's mouth! At first I only laughed, but knowing the man who spoke to me to be of great veracity, and hearing him repeat his information, I flew upon deck, on which I had barely set my foot, when the cry of "another sail" struck on my astonished ear. Confounded by a thousand ideas which arose in my mind in an instant, I sprang upon the barricado, and plainly descried two ships of considerable size standing in for the mouth of the bay. {5}

In another passage. Tench mentions his first meeting with the natives on the south shore of Botany Bay. He had scarcely landed with his party, when he and his party were met by "a dozen Indians, naked as at the moment of their birth":—

I had at this time a little boy, of not more than seven years of age, in my hand. The child seemed to attract their attention very much, for they frequently pointed to him and spoke to each other; and as he was not frightened, I advanced with him towards them, at the same time baring his bosom and showing the whiteness of his skin. On the cloaths being removed, they gave a loud exclamation, and one of the party, an old man with a long beard, hideously ugly, came close to us. I bade my little charge not to be afraid, and introduced him to the acquaintance of this uncouth personage. The Indian, with great tenderness, laid his hand on the child's hat and afterwards felt his cloaths, muttering to himself all the while.

The scene is suggestive of the allegorical representations which used to be in vogue at the Court of the Faerie Queene—Civilisation, in the form of a fair European child, making its first appearance on the shores of a new world, and advancing towards Barbarism in its decay, represented by an ancient Indian gazing wistfully into the child's face, and "muttering to himself all the while."

A few lines enable him to describe the troops and prisoners at work on the shores of Sydney Cove, immediately after their landing:—

The scene, to an indifferent spectator at leisure to contemplate it, would have been highly picturesque and amusing. In one place, a party cutting down the woods; a second, setting up a blacksmith's forge; a third, dragging along a load of stones or provisions; here an officer pitching his marquee, with a detachment of troops parading on one side of him, and a cook's fire blazing up on the other. {6}

In the following year appeared Surgeon White's Journal of a Voyage to New South Wales {7}—another fine quarto, somewhat resembling Phillip's Voyage in appearance and contents. Mr. White had the great advantage of a taste for natural history, and was consequently in a position to enliven as well as to illustrate his pages by descriptions of the new world of animal and vegetable life in which he found himself. The birds are exceedingly well drawn and coloured; but a curious difference may be noticed between the representations of the same specimens in White's Journal and in Phillip's Voyage. The cassowary, the parrots and the cockatoos, for instance, which adorn the two volumes, have very little resemblance with each other when placed side by side for comparison; and as they all purport to be drawn and coloured from nature, it is not easy to account for the difference. So far as the history of the settlement is concerned, White's volume is not of much importance; the record of events dates only to November, 1788, and does not travel beyond the limits of an ordinary journal. It contains a good deal of information, however, not to be found in the pages of his contemporaries, and is consequently entitled to a permanent place in our historical collections.

The good reception which his little Narrative seems to have met with naturally induced Captain Tench to follow it up with a rather more ambitious effort, which appeared in 1793—the same year in which Captain Hunter's book was published. In his later work—entitled "A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson"—Tench gave the "transactions of the colony" year by year as he had noted them in his journal, followed by extracts from his "travelling diaries" relating to his exploring expeditions; the rest of the book being occupied with miscellaneous remarks on the climate, the soil and its productions, and the natives. His pages may be read without any sensation of weariness, being full of anecdote and character. The unhealthy society which surrounded the author did not depress his mind to such an extent as to render him insensible or indifferent to better things. He seems to have kept up his spirits in spite of it, and to have written with a light heart; graphically, too, like an artist sketching the scenes around him with pencil and brush. The result is that his reader has a succession of pictures passing before him, which serve to illustrate the chronicle of events. In this respect Tench stands alone among his contemporaries. Although he had no talent for sketching, like Hunter, his work is essentially picturesque. The difference between his method and theirs may be seen in the fact that there is hardly a line in the bulky volumes they produced that can be said to give the reader any idea of Phillip as a man. There is no attempt to outline his character in any way, either directly or indirectly. Not a word, for instance, of the many conversations which he had with the captain of the Sirius and the Judge-Advocate is preserved in their pages. It is consequently difficult to form any clear idea as to Phillip's individuality from all that they relate of him. The only writer of that time who brings him distinctly before us is Tench. When summoned to attend him for the purpose of receiving instructions as to the military expedition to punish the natives at Botany Bay, Tench had a long conversation with him, and luckily reported some of his remarks {8}:—

To the latter of these causes—misapprehension on the part of the natives—I attribute my own wound; but in this business of McEntire, I am fully persuaded that they were unprovoked, and the barbarity of their conduct admits of no extenuation, for I have separately examined the sergeant, of whose veracity I have the highest opinion, and the two convicts; and their story is short, simple, and alike. I have in vain tried to stimulate Baneelon and Colbee, and the other natives who live among us, to bring in the aggressor. Yesterday, indeed, they promised me to do it, and actually went away as if bent on such a design; but Baneelon, instead of directing his steps to Botany Bay, crossed the harbour in his canoe in order to draw the foreteeth of some of the young men; and Colbee, in the room of fulfilling his engagement, is loitering about the look-out house. Nay, so far from wishing even to describe faithfully the person of the man who has thrown the spear, they pretended that he has a distorted foot, which is a palpable falsehood. So that we have our efforts only to depend upon; and I am resolved to execute the prisoners who may be brought in, in the most public and exemplary manner, in the presence of as many of their countrymen as can be collected, after having explained the cause of such a punishment; and my fixed determination to repeat it, whenever any future breach of good conduct on their side shall render it necessary.

Phillip seems to have had some doubt in his own mind as to the wisdom of these measures—which involved the destruction of ten lives—for Tench goes on to say that—

Here the Governor stopped, and addressing himself to me said, if I could propose any alteration in the orders under which I was to act, he would patiently listen to me. Encouraged by this condescension, I begged leave to offer for consideration whether, instead of destroying ten persons, the capture of six would not better answer all the purposes for which the expedition was to be undertaken; as out of this number a part might be set aside for retaliation, and the rest, at a proper time, liberated after having seen the fate of their comrades, and being made sensible of the cause of their own detention. This scheme his excellency was pleased instantly to adopt, adding, "If six cannot be taken, let this number be shot. Should you find it practicable to take so many, I will hang two, and send the rest to Norfolk Island for a certain period, which will cause their countrymen to believe that we have dispatched them secretly."

Here we get a good illustration of Phillip's way of dealing with matters requiring energy as well as promptness of decision; and at the same time his views on the native question become as distinctly perceptible as they are in his despatches. He had evidently allowed his indignation at a wanton murder—as it seemed to him—to overcome his judgment for the time; but how ready he was to listen to any plea for mercy is seen in his prompt concession to Tench.

The state of distress and consternation into which the settlement was plunged when news arrived of the wreck of the Sirius at Norfolk Island, and the subsequent rejoicing when a ship at last arrived from England, are nowhere so well described as in Tench's pages. {9} For months previously the non-arrival of supplies had filled every mind with alarm, the stock of provisions in the public store having become so small that the rations had to be reduced to the lowest possible limit. In order to relieve the pressure on the public resources, Phillip had despatched the Sirius and Supply to Norfolk Island with several hundred men and women on board; the Sirius being under orders to sail to China, on her return, for supplies of salt provisions. Her wreck increased the danger of the situation to a still more serious point; for the only chance of saving the people from starvation was to send the little brig Supply to Batavia. The extent of the suffering endured at this crisis may be seen in the following extract:—

Three or four instances of persons who have perished from want have been related to me. One only, however, fell within my own observation. I was passing the provision store when a man, with a wild haggard countenance, who had just received his daily pittance to carry home, came out. His faltering gait and eager devouring eye led me to watch him; and he had not proceeded ten steps before he fell. I ordered him to be carried to the hospital, where, when he arrived, he was found dead. On opening the body, the cause of death was pronounced to be inanition.

When matters had reached this stage, nothing but the arrival of a ship from England could have averted the most dreadful consequences:—

A party of seamen were fixed on a high bluff called the South Head, at the entrance of the harbour, on which a flag was ordered to be hoisted whenever a ship might appear, which should serve as a direction to her, and as a signal of approach to us. Here, on the summit of the hill, every morning from daylight until the sun sank, did we sweep the horizon in hope of seeing a sail At every fleeting speck which arose from the bosom of the sea, the heart bounded and the telescope was lifted to the eye.

They were in much the same plight as shipwrecked people floating on a raft. The long-expected ship appeared at the very moment when hope had given way to despair:—

At length the clouds of misfortune began to separate, and on the evening of the 3rd of June, 1790, the joyful cry of "the flag's up" resounded in every direction. I was sitting in my hut, musing on our fate, when a confused clamour in the street drew my attention. I opened my door, and saw several women with children in their arms running to and fro with distracted looks, congratulating each other, and kissing their infants with the most passionate and extravagant marks of fondness. I needed no more; but instantly started out and ran to a hill, where, by the assistance of my pocket-glass, my hopes were realised. My next-door neighbour, a brother officer, was with me; but we could not speak: we wrung each other by the hand, with eyes and hearts overflowing.

It must have been a terrible pinch indeed that could make two officers of marines in those days show such signs of emotion.

Finding that the Governor intended to go immediately in his boat down the harbour, I begged to be of his party. As we proceeded, the object of our hopes soon appeared: a large ship, with English colours flying, working in between the heads which form the entrance of the harbour. The tumultuous state of our minds represented her in danger, and we were in agony. Soon after the Governor, having ascertained what she was, left us, and stept into a fishing-boat to return to Sydney. The weather was wet and tempestuous; but the body is delicate only when the soul is at ease. We pushed through wind and rain, the anxiety of our sensations every moment redoubling. At last we read the word "London" on her stern. "Pull away, lads! She is from old England! A few strokes more and we shall be aboard! Hurrah, for news from our friends!"

One of the most striking passages in Tench's work describes the effect produced upon the minds of the natives by the flogging of a prisoner. Although the man was punished for having stolen some fishing tackle belonging to one of themselves, the only effect of the exhibition was to create feelings of sympathy with the offender and disgust at the exhibition itself:—

The Governor ordered that he should be severely flogged in the presence of as many natives as could be assembled, to whom the cause of punishment should be explained. Many of them, of both sexes, accordingly attended. There was not one of them that did not testify strong abhorrence of the punishment and equal sympathy with the sufferer.

Phillip was anxious to show the natives that the law was no respecter of persons; it did not occur to him that he was exhibiting the law in a shape not at all calculated to create respect for it, even in the minds of savages. The contrast between the civilised and uncivilised codes on this point is curious. Among the natives, a man who wronged another belonging to the same tribe was compelled to stand and defend himself with his shield, while his fellows hurled their spears at him. The idea of flogging a man seemed to them a savage refinement of cruelty. {10}

Captain Hunter's book appeared as an official publication in 1793—a quarto, with maps and illustrations. {11} In every way it was a creditable production, abounding in evidence of its author's personal merit. Besides his own journal of the voyage out with the First Fleet, of subsequent events at the settlement, and of his voyage to Batavia and England, it includes Lieutenant King's journal kept during his residence as Commandant at Norfolk Island in 1788, and also his journal of a voyage to Batavia and England; the history of the colony from June, 1790, to December, 1791, compiled from Governor Phillip's despatches; and it concludes with the journal of a voyage in the Supply from Sydney to England, written by her commander, Lieutenant Ball. Hunter's narrative of events from the founding of the colony to his departure in February, 1790, for Norfolk Island, where he was wrecked, is well written, and forms a valuable chapter in the annals of that time. His skill in sketching is shown in the View of the Settlement on Sydney Cove, Port Jackson, 20th August, 1788, which faces page 77 of his volume. It is of peculiar interest at the present day from the fact that it forms the earliest illustration of the scene known to exist. Another sketch of his appears as a vignette on the title-page, representing an incident of the expedition to Broken Bay, in June, 1789, when the Hawkesbury River was discovered. A young native woman was found by the sailors hiding herself in the long grass, having been unable to make her escape with her friends when they were alarmed by the arrival of the white men. Hunter's account of the matter brings Phillip personally on the scene {12}:—

Information was immediately brought to the Governor, and we all went to see this unhappy girl, whom we found just recovered from the small-pox, and lame: she appeared to be about seventeen or eighteen years of age, and had covered her debilitated and naked body with wet grass, having no other means of hiding herself; she was very much frightened on our approaching her, and shed many tears, with piteous lamentations We understood none of her expressions, but felt much concern at the distress she seemed to suffer; we endeavoured all in our power to make her easy, and with the assistance of a few expressions which had been collected from poor Arabanoo while he was alive, we soothed her distress a little, and the sailors were immediately ordered to bring up some fire, which we placed before her: we pulled some grass, dried it by the fire, and spread round her to keep her warm; then we shot some birds, such as hawks, crows, and gulls, skinned them, and laid them on the fire to broil, together with some fish, which she eat; we then gave her water, of which she seemed to be much in want, for when the word "baa-do" was mentioned, which was their expression for water, she put her tongue out to show how very dry her mouth was; and indeed from her appearance and colour she had a considerable degree of fever on her. Before we retired to rest for the night, we saw her again, and got some firewood laid within her reach, with which she might in course of the night recruit her fire; we also cut a large quantity of grass, dried it, covered her well, and left her to her repose, which, from her situation, I conjecture was not very comfortable and refreshing.

The Settlement At Sydney Cove

Phillip and his men spent the following day in exploring Pittwater; but on their return in the evening, they lost no time in looking after the poor girl they had left. Hunter goes on to say:—

Our tents were no sooner up than we went to visit our young female friend, whom we found in a little bark hut upon the beach; this hut was the place in which she and her friends were enjoying themselves when the arrival of our boat alarmed them. She was not alone as before, but had with her a female child, about two years old, and as fine a little infant of that age as ever I saw; but upon our approach (the night being cold and rainy, and the child terrified exceedingly), she was lying with her elbows and knees on the ground covering the child from our sight with her body, or probably sheltering it from the weather, but I rather think on account of its fears. The little infant could not be prevailed on to look up; it lay with its face upon the ground, and one hand covering its eyes. We supplied her as before, with birds, fish, and fuel, and pulled a quantity of grass to make her a comfortable bed, and covered her little miserable hut so as to keep out the weather.

The kindly feeling which animated Phillip and his friends in their intercourse with the natives, could not be better illustrated than it is in this passage; nor has the part of the good Samaritan ever been more nobly played by British officers. Phillip and Hunter were rough old sailors; they had been all their lives at sea; but had they been shepherds with their crooks in the days of pastoral poetry, they could not have shown a finer feeling towards a damsel in distress. The facts, as told by Hunter, deserve to rank among the pathetic tales of the Australian bush; none the less touching because the central figure happens to be carved in ebony. Incidents of this kind should not be forgotten in estimating Phillip's character; especially when we find it represented as wanting in the very quality so conspicuously shown in this instance. {13}

Last on the list of the old chronicles is the ponderous work published by Judge-Advocate Collins in two quarto volumes, the first of which appeared in 1798, {13} and the second in 1802. {14} There can be no doubt as to the value of the work for historical purposes, seeing that it contains a mass of information with respect to the colony which none of the writer's contemporaries had been diligent enough to collect. But the merit of the compilation is largely affected by the mistaken principle on which the author worked, especially in the first volume. Instead of writing an account of the colony, as his title-page expressed, he wrote an account of a penal settlement—occupying himself almost exclusively with the unhappy creatures who had been sent to work out their redemption in chains. The impression left upon the reader's mind is that of having waded through a lengthy catalogue of crimes and their punishments, added to a dismal tale of suffering and privation. From page to page he finds his attention concentrated on the unsavoury details connected with the early years of the settlement, almost everything that could relieve the depth of shade in the picture being ignored. The result is that he finds himself slowly descending from one bloomy circle of the Inferno to another, each filled with a succession of repulsive groups. There is little or nothing to relieve the monotony of woe. There is not a word, for instance, about the scenery of the harbour and the surrounding country, which, by the way, seems to have left no other impression upon Collins than one of loneliness and desolation. He found no such source of encouragement as Phillip did in the prospect of future greatness for the country, when the inevitable difficulties attending the foundation of a colony had been overcome, and the unbounded resources it contained had been fully developed by the industry of successive generations. The work of exploration in which Phillip, Hunter, Tench, and Dawes made themselves conspicuous, had very little attraction for him. Although he accompanied them on more than one occasion in their excursions, he made very slight allusion to the matter in his book; in some cases none at all. The discovery of the Hawkesbury did not by any means inflame his imagination. He was a member of the expedition which traced it up to Richmond Hill, and yet he disposed of the whole matter in a paragraph as curt and dry as if he had been describing the robbery of a cabbage-garden and the execution of the thief. He makes no mention of the discovery of the Nepean, beyond a passing allusion to "the freshwater river, first seen some time since by Captain Tench, and supposed to be a branch of the Hawkesbury." {15} But the discovery of those rivers was undoubtedly a turning point in the history of the settlement, and must have done much to dispel the doubts which had previously hung over its future.

The monotonous tone of lamentation which marks so many of his pages is mainly the result of a peculiar frame of mind, which led him to concentrate his attention on the unpleasant side of every picture placed before him. If an occasional gleam of humour had lightened up his reflections on passing events, the narrative he has left us would have been none the less faithful. But there is no attempt at any time to deal pleasantly with the subject he has in hand. He speaks sometimes like Virgil when conducting Dante through the shades below; sometimes like a warder when showing an inquisitive traveller through the corridors of a gaol, stopping now and then at the doors of a cell to tell the dreadful story of its inmate. Even when a fair opportunity comes in his way for amusing himself and his readers with the scenes and topics to which he alludes, he seems to turn away from it, as if the bare suspicion of a jest would compromise his judicial dignity. Any other writer in his place, suffering from a dearth of subjects free from any criminal flavour, might have welcomed the phenomenon recorded by him with respect to the breeding operations of the settlement. "It was observed with concern," he says (p. 76), "that hitherto by far a greater proportion of males than females had been produced by the animals we had brought for the purpose of breeding." This fact he does not attempt to account for; he has no turn for speculation. He contents himself with saying that "this, in any other situation, might not have been so nicely remarked; but here, where a country was to be stocked, a litter of twelve pigs whereof three only were females became a subject of conversation and inquiry." It did not occur to Collins, or any of his friends, that the pigs were only carrying out the principle on which Lord Sydney had acted in populating the colony—an excess of males to females, by four to one. Another event which might have induced a less serious chronicler to relax was the first performance of a play by the convicts, "in a hut fitted up for the occasion." They were allowed to amuse themselves in this manner on the occasion of his Majesty's birthday in 1789, Farquhar's comedy—the Recruiting Officer—being the piece selected. A sketch of the performance, a copy of the prologue, or any other information of the kind, might well have found a place in the chronicler's papers; but he confines himself to the remark that the performers "professed no higher aim than 'humbly to excite a smile,' and their efforts to please were not unattended with success."

Collins having left the colony in September, 1796, and remained in England until he received his commission as Lieutenant-Governor of the projected colony at Port Phillip in 1803, the materials for the second volume of his work, published in 1802, were necessarily furnished by another hand; but whose the hand that furnished them was not mentioned by him, and consequently the authorship of the second volume was never made known. There is no difficulty, however, in discovering the author; internal evidence being quite sufficient to show that the journal which forms the contents of the volume was written by Governor Hunter. He left the colony in September, 1800, and the narrative closes with an account of his embarkation. The only allusion made by Collins to the question of authorship is in his preface, in which he says that the very flattering reception which his first volume had met with had induced him to continue his labours in the character of historian; having been furnished with materials for this purpose, "on the authenticity of which I can safely stake my credit." So far as style is concerned, there is a good deal more resemblance than contrast between the two volumes; Hunter having had no difficulty in adopting the melancholy air and manner which distinguish his predecessor; as if, when sitting down to write, he had wrapped himself up in the inky cloak which Collins had left behind him for the purpose. The reader is too often reminded of the propensity for moralising on the iniquity of human nature which figures so prominently in the first volume. At the same time, Hunter did not neglect the opportunity for displaying the nature and extent of his own services, as well as defending himself from charges which he knew might be made against his administration. The energy unconsciously displayed in passages of this description reveals the author's hand; as, for instance, where he tells us (p. 86)—in reference to the trading monopoly which the officers of the New South Wales Corps had succeeded in establishing—"it must have been evident to every one who had sense to see it, that the Governor, from the hour of his arrival, had used his utmost endeavours to put an end to the practice of so much imposition." That fact is not made at all so clear to the reader as might be wished; more especially as Hunter, for reasons which he does not explain, carefully refrains from any explanation on the subject, or any allusion to the officers concerned. His reserve is the more remarkable because, during his residence among them, those gentlemen had encircled him in their folds like so many cobras. He endured the painful struggle for five years; and then, finding that the only means by which he could shake them off was by leaving the colony in their grasp, he said good-bye to them in an order in which he expressed his admiration for their services, and the confidence he had so long reposed in them.


{1} {return}

The evidence given by these translations of the interest felt throughout Europe in the colonising experiment of the British Government deserves notice. Phillip's Voyage, published in 1789, was translated into French in 1791, and into German in 1789, 1791, and 1794. Hunter's Journal, published in 1793, appeared in two different German editions in 1794, and in a Swedish one in 1797. Tench's Narrative, published in 1789, was republished in Dutch in 1789, in French in 1789 and 1791, in Swedish in 1797; his Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson, published in 1793, was translated into German in 1794. White's Journal, published in 1790, did not appear in a foreign language until 1795, when it was published in French. There is no trace of any translation of Collins's Account, the first volume of which was published in 1798, and the second in 1802; a fact which may be accounted for partly by the unusual size of the work and partly by its having appeared rather late in the field—the greater part of its contents having been anticipated by earlier publications.

{2} {return}

Pott, p. 581.

{3} {return}

Post, p. 548.

{4} {return}

His social qualities seem to have made him popular—two places having been named after him; Tench's Prospect Hill, by Phillip; and Tench's Island, by Lieutenant Ball, on the voyage to Batavia with Lieutenant King in 1790.—Hunter, Journal, p. 421.

{5} {return}

Narrative, p. 49.

{6} {return}

Miratur molem Æneas, magalia quondam;
Miratur portas, strepitumque, et strata viarum.
Instant ardentes Tyrii: pars ducere muros,
Molirique arcem, et manibus subvolvere saxa;
Pars optare locum tecto, et concludere sulco.
Hic portus alii effodiunt; hic alta theatris
Fundamenta locant alii, immanesque columnas
Rupibus excidunt, scenis decora alta futuris.

Æneid, 1, 418.

{7} {return}

Post, p. 582.

{8} {return}

Complete Account, p. 93; ante, p. 126; Collins, vol. ii, pp. 27-8.

{9} {return}

Complete Account, p. 44.

{10} {return}

The effect produced by exhibitions of this kind upon the natives, is shown in another instance. Collins records that, in November, 1796, "the Court having ordered that Francis Morgan (convicted of murder) should be hung in chains upon the small island which is situated in the middle of the harbour, and named by the natives Mat-te-wan-ye, a gibbet was accordingly erected and he was hung there, exhibiting an object of much greater terror to the natives than to the white people, many of whom were more inclined to make a jest of it; but to the natives his appearance was so frightful—his clothes shaking in the wind and the creaking of his irons, added to their superstitious idea of ghosts (for these children of ignorance imagined that, like a ghost, this man might have the power of taking hold of them by the throat) all rendering him such an alarming object to them—that they never trusted themselves near him, nor the spot on which he hung; which, until this time, had ever been with them a favourite place of resort."—Vol. ii, p. 10.

{11} {return}

Post, p. 584.

{12} {return}

Journal, p. 139.

{13} {return}

Woods, in his History of the Discovery and Exploration of Australia (p. 66), expressed the opinion that "Governor Phillip does not appear to have been over endowed with mercy." because there was a good deal of hanging and flogging in his time—as if it had all been done at his instance and by his order.

{14} {return}

Post, p. 589.

{15} {return}

Account of the Colony, pp. 72, 89.



PHILLIP'S first despatch from Sydney Cove is dated 15th May, 1788. From the day of his arrival in the Supply, on the 25th January, to the date of his despatch, his time had been fully employed in getting the settlement into some degree of order, and in exploring the country round about it. It was his practice at that time to keep a journal, in which he set down "the little incidents" of his life from day to day, and from which he subsequently wrote his letters to the Secretary of State. The first was necessarily a lengthy one, but its contents are of peculiar interest in the present day. There is no similar record in which the story of the foundation of a great colony is told with so much personal interest. The events connected with the settlement of the American colonies were not chronicled until long after the principal actors had disappeared from the scene, and consequently their early history is buried in obscurity. But the despatches written by Phillip contain a narrative so clear and graphic in its way that the reader can find no difficulty in realising the scenes he describes, or in following the course of events to which he refers.

It will be observed that he does not make any mention of the public ceremony which took place on the 26th January—the day after his arrival—when the British flag was unfurled at the head of Sydney Cove. On the evening of that day, Phillip and the party that had arrived with him in the Supply from Botany Bay the day before, assembled at the point where they had first landed in the morning, and on which a flagstaff had been erected. There, with the Union Jack flying over their heads, he proposed several toasts— King George the Third, the Royal Family, and Success to the New Colony—which were duly honored by the officers who stood round him; the ceremony concluding with several volleys from the marines. The day had been uncommonly fine, as Collins tells us; and it concluded with the safe arrival of the Sirius and the other ships from Botany Bay—the voyage thus terminating with the same good fortune that had attended it so conspicuously from the beginning.

The formal proclamation of the colony did not take place until the 7th of February, by which time all the people on board the ships had been landed and placed under cover on shore. That was "the memorable day which established a regular form of government on the coast of New South Wales." {1} On the slope of Point Maskelyne—afterwards known as Dawes' Point—the marines were drawn up under arms, the convicts stationed apart, and the Governor, surrounded by his officers, called upon Captain Collins, the Judge-Advocate, to read aloud the various documents which contained within them the essential powers of government. The first was the Commission appointing Phillip Captain-General and Governor-in-Chief in and over the territory of New South Wales and its dependencies. {2} Then came the Act of Parliament, passed the year before, to enable his Majesty to establish a colony and a civil government, and for that purpose to erect a Court of Criminal Judicature for the trial of outrages and misbehaviours. After the Act, the Judge-Advocate proceeded to read out the Letters Patent constituting the Courts of Civil and Criminal Judicature, and also the Vice-Admiralty Court for the trial of piracies and other offences on the seas. {3}

When these documents had been disposed of, Phillip proceeded to address the assembly; his remarks being directed in the first instance to the soldiers, and in the second to the convicts. Among those who were present on the occasion, there were three members of his staff who attentively noted what he said, and afterwards recorded their recollections of it—Captain Collins, Captain Tench, and Surgeon White. Captain Hunter was also present, no doubt, but he made no reference to the speech or the proceedings in his book. The fullest report of the speech appeared in Phillip's Voyage; but it is not easy to say on what authority it was written, seeing that Phillip himself made no allusion to it in his despatches. The only reference made by him to the matter appears in his letter to Evan Nepean of the 9th July, in which he said that "his Majesty's Commission, with that for establishing the Courts of Civil and Criminal Judicature, were read soon after landing". The speech, as it appears in Phillip's Voyage, was probably written by the editor of that work from some private account of it sent to the Government with the despatches:—

Governor Phillip advanced, and addressing first the private soldiers, thanked them for their steady good conduct on every occasion, an honour which was repeated to them in the next general orders. He then turned to the convicts, and distinctly explained to them the nature of their present situation. The greater part, he bade them recollect, had already forfeited their lives to the justice of their country; yet, by the lenity of its laws, they were now so placed that, by industry and good behaviour, they might in time regain the advantages and estimation in society of which they had deprived themselves. They not only had every encouragement to make that effort, but were removed almost entirely from every temptation to guilt. There was little in this infant community which one man could plunder from another, and any dishonest attempts in so small a society would almost infallibly be discovered. To persons detected in such crimes, he could not promise any mercy; nor indeed to any who, under these circumstances, should presume to offend against the peace and good order of the settlement. What mercy could do for them they had already experienced; nor could any good be now expected from those whom neither past warnings, nor the peculiarities of their present situation, could preserve from guilt. Against offenders, therefore, the rigour of the law would certainly be put in force, while they whose behaviour should in any degree promise reformation might always depend upon encouragement fully proportioned to their deserts.

He particularly noticed the illegal intercourse between the sexes as an offence which encouraged a general profligacy of manners, and was in several ways injurious to society. To prevent this, he strongly recommended marriage, and promised every kind of countenance and assistance to those who, by entering into that state, should manifest their willingness to conform to the laws of morality and religion. Governor Phillip concluded his address by declaring his earnest desire to promote the happiness of all who were under his government, and to render the settlement in New South Wales advantageous and honourable to his country. {4}

The account written by Collins omits all reference to the remarks addressed to the marines, and also the advice given to the convicts on the subject of marriage:—

The ceremony of reading these public instruments having been performed by the Judge-Advocate, the Governor, addressing himself to the convicts, assured them, among other things, that "he should ever be ready to show approbation and encouragement to those who proved themselves worthy of them by good conduct and attention to orders; while, on the other hand, such as were determined to act in opposition to propriety, and observe a contrary conduct, would inevitably meet with the punishment which they deserved." He remarked how much it was to their interest to forget the habits of vice and indolence in which too many of them had hitherto lived; and exhorted them to be honest among themselves, obedient to their overseers, and attentive to the several works in which they were about to be employed. {5}

While the wording of these reports presents some points of difference, they nevertheless agree in substance. The words of encouragement offered to industry and good conduct, and the emphatic warning with respect to the consequences of any further criminality—which naturally formed the essence of Phillip's remarks—appear in each account of them. The advice to marry is not mentioned by Collins or Tench; but the former relates that, before the end of the month, "several couples were announced for marriage"—a virtuous resolution which was found to originate in a belief that "married people would meet with various little comforts and privileges denied to those in a single state." Phillip had foreseen the dilemma which was sure to arise whenever the question of intercourse between the sexes should become a subject for serious consideration, and had even contemplated the expediency of expressly permitting prostitution, within certain limits. {6} But the difficulty of dealing with such a subject officially made itself felt as soon as he turned his attention to it, and the result was that he made no regulation of the kind, contenting himself with a strong exhortation in favour of marriage. By refraining from making any order at all, he left matters to take their own course. But on two points he felt Compelled to legislate. One of his first public orders was directed to the prevention of disease. Another was subsequently framed for the purpose of correcting a curious notion which had got abroad on the subject of marriage. It was commonly believed that the ceremony performed in the colony was not valid, and that husbands could throw off the conjugal tie at their pleasure when leaving the country. Phillip therefore ordered that "none should be permitted to quit the colony who had wives or children incapable of maintaining themselves, and likely to become burdensome to the settlement, until they had found sufficient security for the maintenance of such wives or children as long as they might remain after them." {7} It was in this matter that the first fruits of the Government policy began to show themselves. The exclusion of free settlers was, in fact, the exclusion of morality itself. Apart from that, the necessity for equalising the sexes on such an occasion should have been obvious; but not only was that matter disregarded—the proportion between males and females being nearly four to one—but the women sent out were mostly, according to Phillip, "very abandoned wretches." The result was beyond any power to control.

Phillip began his first despatch to Lord Sydney {8} by referring to his departure from the Cape, and his arrangements for arriving early at the scene of operations in Botany Bay:—

I had the honor of informing your lordship by Captain Cox, who was returning to Europe from Madras, that I was ready to sail from the Cape of Good Hope, and which I did, with the ships under my command, the 12th of November.

The 25th, being eighty leagues to the eastward of the Cape, I left the Sirius and went on board the Supply, tender, in hopes, by leaving the convoy, to gain sufficient time to examine the country round Botany Bay, and fix on the most eligible situation for the colony before the transports arrived. At the same time I ordered the agent for the transports in the Alexander to separate from the convoy with that ship, the Scarborough, and Friendship. They sailing better than the others, I had reason to expect their arrival soon after the Supply, and by having the labour of the convicts they had on board, much might be done in preparing for the landing the stores and provisions.

Major Ross now left the Sirius and went on board the Scarborough, that he might be with that part of the detachment which would probably be the first landed.

Captain Hunter, in the Sirius, was to follow with the store-ships and the remainder of the transports, and he had the necessary instructions for his future proceedings, should the Supply meet with any accident.

The westerly winds we now had continued till the 3rd of January, when we saw the coast of New South Wales, but the winds which had been so favourable having seldom been to the eastward, and then for a few hours only, blowing from the N.W. to the S.W., generally very strong gales, now left us, and we had variable winds with a current that at times set very strong to the southward, so that we did not arrive at Botany Bay before the 18th.

The Alexander, Scarborough, and Friendship, came in the next day, and the Sirius, with the rest of the ships, the day after. Those ships had continued very healthy.

The Supply sailing very badly had not permitted my gaining the advantage hoped for; but I began to examine the bay as soon as we anchored, and found that, tho' extensive, it did not afford shelter to ships from the easterly winds, the greater part of the bay being so shoal that ships of even a moderate draught of water are obliged to anchor with the entrance of the bay open, and are exposed to a heavy sea that rolls in when it blows hard from the eastward.

Several small runs of fresh water were found in different parts of the bay, but I did not see any situation to which there was not some very strong objection. {9} The small creek that is in the northern part of the bay runs a considerable way into the country, but it had only water for a boat; the sides of this creek are frequently overflowed, and the low lands are a swamp. The western branch runs up for a considerable distance, but the officers I sent to examine it could not find any water except in very small drains.

The best situation that offered was near Point Sutherland, where there was a small run of good water; but the ground near it, as well as a considerable part of the higher ground, was spongy, and the ships could not approach this part of the bay.

Several good situations offered for a small number of people, but none that appeared calculated for our numbers, and where the stores and provisions could be landed without a great deal of time. When I considered the bay's being so very open, and the probability of the swamps rendering the most eligible situation unhealthy, I judged it advisable to examine Port Jackson; but that no time might be lost if I did not succeed in finding a better harbour and a proper situation for the settlement, the ground near Point Sutherland was in the meantime to be cleared, and preparations made for landing under the direction of the Lieutenant-Governor.

As the time in which I might be absent, if I went in the Supply, must have been very uncertain, I went round with three boats, taking with me Captain Hunter and several officers, that, by examining different parts of the port at the same time, less time might be lost. {10}

We got into Port Jackson early in the afternoon, and had the satisfaction of finding the finest harbour in the world, in which a thousand sail of the line may ride in the most perfect security, and of which a rough survey, made by Captain Hunter and the officers of the Sirius after the ships came round, may give your lordship some idea.

The different coves were examined with all possible expedition. I fixed on the one that had the best spring of water, and in which the ships can anchor so close to the shore that, at a very small expense, quays may be made at which the largest ships may unload. This cove, which I honored with the name of Sydney, is about a quarter of a mile across at the entrance, and half a mile in length.

We returned to Botany Bay the third day, when I received a very unfavourable account of the ground that was clearing. The ships immediately prepared to go round, and the 25th, seven days after I arrived in the Supply, I sailed in her for Port Jackson, leaving Captain Hunter to follow with the transports, it then blowing too strong for them to work out of the bay. They joined me the next evening, and all the transports were moored in the cove.

The arrival of the French ships under La Pérouse is referred to by Phillip in a paragraph in which he gives the result of Lieutenant King's interview with the French commander. There is no mention of any personal communication between the representatives of the two nations, or of any visit paid by La Pérouse to Phillip; but hospitalities were frequently exchanged between the French and English officers, and great cordiality seems to have been shown on both sides.

Two sail had appeared off Botany Bay the 24th under French colours, and anchored there before the Sirius left—the Boussole and the Astrolabe. {11} These ships were commanded by Mons. de la Pérouse, who, having expressed a desire of sending letters to Europe, I sent an officer over, it being only eight miles, to tell him in what time it was probable the ships might sail. Captain Clonard had left the ships in one of their boats the same morning, and Lieutenant Shortland, the agent for the transports, is charged with the letters he brought; they are addressed to the French ambassadors. The officer I sent over was informed that Mons. de la Pérouse sailed from France in June, 1785, that he had been to Santa Catherina, had run along the coast of Chili and California, and had been at Easter Island, Nootka Sound, Cook's River, Kamschatka, Manilla, Isles des Navigateurs, Sandwich and the Friendly Islands. He had likewise anchored off Norfolk Island, but could not land on account of the surf.

After a short account of the massacre at Navigators' Islands, by which the French lost the captain of the Astrolabe with eleven officers and men, Phillip then returns to affairs at the settlement, describing the difficulties encountered in the efforts to clear the ground and put up the necessary buildings. The trees growing at the head of Sydney Cove were so large that the labour of removing them, after they were cut down, proved a serious obstacle to progress; while the land in the neighbourhood was so rocky that cultivation to any considerable extent seemed out of the question. Phillip was consequently driven to "prospect" the country in all directions for any available patch of good soil that would serve the purpose of a farm—a very different state of affairs from that which he had been led to expect from the descriptions in Cook's Voyage of the rich meadow lands at Botany Bay.

The clearing the ground for the people, and for erecting store-houses, was begun as soon as the ships got round, a labour of which it will be hardly possible to give your lordship a just idea.

The necks of land that form the different coves, and near the water for some distance, are in general so rocky that it is surprising such large trees should find sufficient nourishment; but the soil between the rocks is good, and the summits of the rocks, as well as the whole country round us, with few exceptions, are covered with trees, most of which are so large that the removing them off the ground, after they are cut down, is the greatest part of the labour; and the convicts, naturally indolent, having none to attend them but overseers drawn from amongst themselves, and who fear to exert any authority, makes this work go on very slowly.

Your lordship will permit me to observe that our situation, though so very different from what might be expected, is nevertheless the best that offered. My instructions did not permit me to detain the transports a sufficient length of time to examine the coast to any considerable distance. It was absolutely necessary to be certain of a sufficient quantity of fresh water, in a situation that was healthy, and which the ships might approach within a reasonable distance for the conveniency of landing the stores and provisions; and I am fully persuaded that we should never have succeeded had it been attempted to move them only one mile from where they were landed. There are some parts of this harbour where the trees stand at a considerable distance from each other, and where there are small runs of water, which shall be cultivated when our numbers permit; and when the country can be examined, I make no doubt but some good situations will be found that have water, which I have never yet been able to find either in Botany Bay, or in this harbour, but in very small streams.

Some land that is near, and where the trees stand at a considerable distance from each other, will, as soon as convicts can be spared, be cultivated by the officers for raising a little corn for their stock, and this I have endeavoured to promote as much as possible, for I fear the consequences if a ship should be lost in her passage out with provisions. {12}

As there are only twelve convicts who are carpenters, as many as could be procured from the ships have been hired to work on the hospital {13} and store-houses. The people were healthy when landed, but the scurvy has for some time appeared amongst them, and now rages in a most extraordinary manner. Only sixteen carpenters could be hired from the ships, and several of the convict carpenters were sick. It was now the middle of February; the rains began to fall very heavy, and pointed out the necessity of hutting the people; convicts were therefore appointed to assist the detachment in this work.

The immediate occupation of Norfolk Island being one of Phillip's instructions, no time was lost in carrying it out.

February the 14th the Supply sailed for Norfolk Island, with Philip Gidley King, second lieutenant of his Majesty's ship Sirius, for the purpose of settling that island. He only carried with him a petty officer, surgeon's mate, two marines, two men who understood the cultivation of flax, with nine men and six women convicts. Their numbers shall be increased when a small detachment of marines can be spared. I have the honor of transmitting your lordship a copy of the order and instructions {14} given to that officer, and I beg to recommend him as an officer of merit, whose perseverance in that or any other service may be depended on.

Phillip then proceeds to relate his efforts to explore the country in the neighbourhood of the settlement—the first point to which he directed his steps being Broken Bay.

The 2nd of March I went with a long-boat and cutter to examine the broken land mentioned by Captain Cook, about eight miles to the northward of Port Jackson. {15} We slept in the boat that night within a rocky point in the northward part of the bay, which is very extensive, as the natives, though very friendly, appeared to be numerous; and the next day, after passing a bar that had only water for small vessels, entered a very extensive branch, from which the ebb tide came out so strong that the boats could not row against it in the stream, and here was deep water. It appeared to end in several small branches, and in a large lagoon that we could not examine for want of time to search for a channel for the boats amongst the banks of sand and mud. Most of the land on the upper part of this branch was low and full of swamps. Pelicans and a variety of birds were here seen in great numbers leaving this branch, which I called the north-west branch. We proceeded across the bay and went into the south-west branch, which is very extensive, and from which a second branch runs to the westward, affording shelter for any number of ships, and as far as we examined, there is water for the largest ships, having seven fathoms at the entrance and deeper water as you go up, but the almost continual rains prevented any kind of survey. Here the land is much higher than at Port Jackson, more rocky, and equally covered with timber, large trees growing on the summits of mountains that appeared to be accessible to birds only.

Immediately round the headland that forms the southern entrance into the bay there is a third branch, which I think the finest piece of water I ever saw, and which I honored with the name of Pitt water; it is, as well as the south-west branch, of sufficient extent to contain all the navy of Great Britain, but has only eighteen feet at low water on a narrow bar, which runs across the entrance; within the bar there are from seven to fifteen fathoms water. The land here is not so high as in the south-west branch, and there are some good situations where the land might be cultivated. We found small springs of water in most of the coves, and saw three cascades falling from a height which the rains then rendered inaccessible. I returned to Port Jackson, after being absent eight days in the boats. Some of the people feeling the effects of the rain, which had been almost constant, prevented my returning by land, as I intended, in order to examine a part of the country which appeared open and free from timber. {16}

Norfolk Island again forms a subject of comment— Lieutenant Ball's return from it having enabled Phillip to give some account of its capabilities, based on Lieutenant King's report. The discovery of Lord Howe Island is also noted.

Lieutenant Ball, who commands the Supply, arrived the 19th of March. He made Norfolk Island on the 29th of February, and was five days before a place could be found at which it was possible to land the provisions, and saw very few places at which it was possible to land a man, so completely do the rocks surround that island. They succeeded, however, having found a small opening in a reef that runs across a bay that is at the south end of the island, and the six months' provisions were all safely landed. Lieutenant King describes this island as one entire wood, without a single acre of clear land that had been found when the Supply left them, and says that the pine trees rise fifty and sixty feet before they shoot out any branches. There are several other kinds of timber on the island, which, as far as he could examine it, was a rich black mould with great quantities of pumice stone. The trees are so bound together by a kind of supple-jack that the penetrating into the interior parts of the island was very difficult. Several good springs of water were found, and I apprehend his Majesty's ships in the East Indies may be supplied from this island with masts and yards, which will render it a very valuable acquisition. The cultivation of the flax plant will be attended to when people can be sent to clear the ground.

A small island being seen in the passage to Norfolk Island, Lieutenant Ball examined it on his return, and says it abounds in turtle, but unfortunately has no good anchoring-ground. He named it after Lord Howe. It is in 31° 36" south latitude, and 159° E. longitude. Part of this island may be seen sixteen leagues, and a rock that is five leagues to the southward and eastward of this island may be seen eighteen leagues.

The Charlotte, Scarborough, and Lady Penrhyn, transports, were cleared of all their stores, and discharged from Government employ the 24th and 25th of March, and left at liberty to proceed to China when they judged proper; the other ships remain till store-houses can be finished.

The first sitting of the Criminal Court took place on the 11th February, and was followed by another before the end of the month, when six men were condemned to death. Phillip's reference to the proceedings on that occasion shows his belief in exile as a better means of punishment than hanging.

Your lordship will not be surprised that I have been under the necessity of assembling a Criminal Court. {17} Six men were condemned to death—one, who was the head of the gang, was executed the same day; the others I reprieved. They are to be exiled from the settlement; and when the season permits, I intend they shall be landed near the South Cape, where, by their forming connections with the natives, some benefit may accrue to the public. These men had frequently robbed the stores and the other convicts. The one who suffered and two others were condemned for robbing the stores of provisions the very day they received a week's provision, and at which time their allowance, as settled by the Navy Board, was the same as the soldiers, spirits excepted; the others, for robbing a tent and for stealing provisions from other convicts.

Part of the live stock brought from the Cape, small as it was, has been lost, and our resource in fish is also uncertain; some days great quantities are caught, but never sufficient to save any part of the provisions, and at times fish are scarce.

Your lordship will, I presume, see the necessity of a regular supply of provisions for four or five years; and of cloathing, shoes, and frocks in the greatest proportion. The necessary implements for husbandry, and for clearing the ground, brought out, will with difficulty be made to serve the time that is necessary for sending out a fresh supply.

Phillip had not been long in the country before he began to feel more than doubtful about the prospect of obtaining sufficient supplies from it to keep his people alive. He saw that little or nothing could be expected from the cultivation of the soil for some time, partly because the land in the neighbourhood of the settlement was unfit for the purpose, and partly because there were no men in it who had any practical knowledge of farming. Had it been otherwise, there would still have remained the necessity of storing the crops raised during the first two years for seed, the supply sent out in the first instance having proved worthless. As he explained in a subsequent despatch, "all the seed wheat, and the greatest part of the other grains and seeds brought from England, had been heated in the long passage", and very little of what was sown had vegetated.

Equal difficulties were experienced with the live stock. Sheep and cattle did not seem to thrive on the native grasses; the sheep were killed by them, and the cattle escaped into the interior in search of better feed as soon as they got loose. The natural resources of the country in the shape of fish and wild game were too uncertain to depend upon. The fish deserted the harbour at the approach of winter, and even in summer the supply was never sufficient to prove a substitute for ordinary rations. As soon as the pressure of hunger began to be felt, fishing and shooting parties were organised and despatched in different directions; but with all their efforts they could not do more than furnish small quantities of fresh food, invaluable no doubt to people who had to live mainly on salt provisions, but altogether insufficient to depend upon. The wild vegetables, fruits, and berries which grew in the neighbourhood were eagerly sought after, and proved useful in the treatment of scurvy and dysentery; the native tea plant was largely used as a substitute for tea-leaves; but notwithstanding all the assistance that could be obtained from these sources, the difficulty of keeping up the supply of food increased steadily from day to day.

Phillip's foresight led him to dwell upon this matter with increasing emphasis in every despatch he wrote. His uneasiness on the subject is manifest in every line. He knew too well, from his painful experience when preparing for the voyage out, how difficult it was to awaken any interest in the official mind as to the fate of the Expedition: he knew the risk of a store-ship being lost on the passage, and the length of time that must elapse before the loss could become known in England; and he knew that fresh ship-loads of convicts, as useless as the first, would probably be sent out to him without any regard to the position in which he might be placed. His repeated references to these matters, however—in his letters to Nepean as well as in his despatches to Sydney—proved of no avail; the dismal events he dreaded and predicted came to pass; and as a last resort he recalled Lieutenant King from Norfolk Island early in 1790 and sent him to England, in order to make the state of affairs known to Ministers in some more moving shape than a despatch. If the wreck of the Sirius in March of that year made every heart in the little colony tremble, the loss of the Guardian in December, 1789, followed by the arrival of the Second Fleet with nearly a thousand sickly convicts, was a still more appalling disaster.

The labour of the convicts shall be, as is directed, for the public stock; but it is necessary to permit a part of the convicts to work for the officers, who, in our present situation, would otherwise find it impossible to clear a sufficient quantity of ground to raise what is absolutely necessary to support the little stock they have; and I am to request that your lordship will be pleased to direct me to what extent that indulgence may be granted the officers of the garrison.

The Sirius shall be sent to the northward to barter for stock, and which shall be employed solely for the purpose of increasing the breed of such cattle as she may procure. The Supply is noways calculated for this service, as in the least sea her decks are full of water.

The very small proportion of females makes the sending out an additional number absolutely necessary; for I am certain your lordship will think that to send for women from the islands, in our present situation, would answer no other purpose than that of bringing them to pine away in misery.

One of the many mistakes made by the Government in organising the Expedition is seen in Phillip's reference to the want of proportion between the sexes. Out of a total number of seven hundred and fifty-six convicts put on board the transports, there were only one hundred and ninety-two women, or one in four; many of whom were old and enfeebled by disease. The character of these women, and the difficulty of holding them under restraint, may be judged from Surgeon White's account of their gambols during the passage out. {18} With such an excess of males to females, it was a desperate effort of the imagination to suppose that the morals of the community could be sensibly improved by means of marriage; since if every woman had found a husband, there would still have been three hundred and seventy-two men left without any chance of obtaining wives. This defect in the organisation of the colony was not unknown to the Government before the First Fleet sailed; but they seem to have thought that an easy remedy might be found by procuring women from the islands in the Pacific. This idea appears to have been prevalent in England at the time; probably originating in the highly-coloured descriptions of female beauty in the tropical islands which became popular after the publication of Cook's Voyages. Instead of equalising the sexes in the first instance, the Government instructed Phillip to get women from the islands at every opportunity. {19} No objection to such a heartless proceeding presented itself to Sydney or his colleagues, so long as neither "compulsive measures" nor "fallacious pretences" were made use of for the purpose; nor were they deterred by the prospect of creating such a race as would have resulted from the intermixture of convicts and savages.

Although Phillip, while in England, {20} entertained the common idea that island women might be added to the population as easily as live stock, a very short experience in the colony seems to have satisfied him that it would "answer no other purpose than that of bringing them to pine away in misery". The only course he could adopt under the circumstances was to represent the futility of the proposal, and the consequent necessity for sending out more women as soon as possible. The result was that two hundred and twenty-two females, "many of them", says Collins, "loaded with the infirmities incident to old age", were sent out in the next transport—the Lady Juliana—which arrived in June, 1790, two years after Phillip's despatch was written. In recording her arrival, Collins, apparently unmindful of the social problem which Phillip had to solve, expressed his surprise Unprofitable that "a cargo so unnecessary and unprofitable as two hundred and twenty-two females" should have been sent out, instead of a supply of provisions. But circumstances had altered during the interval between the date of Phillip's request for more women and the arrival of the Lady Juliana. The lapse of time had brought a much more pressing difficulty to the surface—that of providing the population with food.

I have had the honor of informing your lordship that this harbour is, in extent and security, very superior to any other that I have ever seen, containing a considerable number of coves formed by narrow necks of land, mostly rocks, covered with timber; and the face of the country, when viewed from the harbour, is the same, with few exceptions. The neck of land between the harbour and the coast is mostly sand. Between that part of the harbour in which the settlement is made and Botany Bay, after you pass the wood which surrounds us, and which in some parts is one and a half, in others three miles across, the country is a poor sandy heath full of swamps. The country towards the head of the bay {21} is covered with timber, and here the land appears less rocky, and the trees stand in some parts at a greater distance; but the head of the bay being left dry in several parts at low water, and the winds being obstructed by the woods and the different windings of the channel, must, I conceive, render this part of the harbour unhealthy till the country can be cleared. As far as the eye can reach to the westward, the country appears to be one continued wood.

Phillip was not at all disposed to be enthusiastic in his views of things, but there were at least two exceptions to the rule. When he first mentioned the harbour of Port Jackson, he pronounced it "the finest harbour in the world"; and, when referring to it again, he declared it to be, "in extent and security, very superior to any other that I have ever seen." Familiar as he was with the principal harbours in the world, he evidently ranked Port Jackson far beyond the best of them. He spoke with equal confidence on another point—the future of the colony he had founded. His opinion of it was expressed repeatedly in the strongest terms, and that too at a time when others were proclaiming it a failure, and writing pitiful lamentations over it to their friends in England. Notwithstanding the difficulties by which they were surrounded, it seemed to him "the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made"; an opinion which was not based on first impressions only, but on a careful examination of the country, day by day.

The timber is well described in Captain Cook's Voyage, but unfortunately it has one very bad quality, which puts us to great inconvenience; I mean the large gum-tree, which splits and warps in such a manner when used green, and to which necessity obliged us, that a store-house boarded up with this wood is rendered useless. The timber which in its growth resembles the fir-tree warps less, but we are already obliged to fetch it from some distance, and it will not float. Here are a variety of palm-trees, and the heaths that are free from timber are covered with a variety of the most beautiful flowering shrubs. Wild celery, spinage, samphire, a small wild fig, and several cherries, which have proved very wholesome, particularly the leaves of a small shrub which is found in such plenty that it has not yet failed us, as most of the others have done. What seeds could be collected are sent to Sir Joseph Banks, is likewise the red gum taken from the large gum-tree by tapping, and the yellow gum which is found on the dwarf palm-tree.

The small quantity of flax that has been procured is sufficient to show the quality, but the flax plant described by Captain Cook I have never met with, nor had the botanists that accompanied Monsieur de la Pérouse found it when I saw them, and which was some time after they arrived. And here, my lord, I must beg leave to observe with regret that, being myself without the smallest knowledge of botany, I am without one botanist, or even an intelligent gardener, in the colony; it is not therefore in my power to give more than a very superficial account of the produce of this country, which has such a variety of plants that I cannot, with all my ignorance, help being convinced that it merits the attention of the naturalist and the botanist.

The stone of this country is of three sorts; freestone, which appears equal to Portland stone; a bad firestone; and a stone that appears to contain a large proportion of iron. We have good clay for bricks, but no chalk or limestone has yet been found.

The relations between the new arrivals and the native inhabitants of the country being a matter of the highest importance, it is not surprising to find the greater part of Phillip's despatch occupied with extracts from his journal on the subject. The interest he took in it is evident from the tone of his remarks. He seems not to have lost any opportunity of going among the natives whenever and wherever they were to be met with, making particular inquiries into their habits and customs, and endeavouring by every means in his power to conciliate them. Notwithstanding the disturbances which took place occasionally between them and the people under his command, his efforts to establish good relations with the savages were tolerably successful. Writing in 1796, Collins related (p. 543) that "after many untoward occurrences and a considerable lapse of time, that friendly intercourse with the natives which had been so earnestly desired was at length established: and having never been materially interrupted, these remote islanders have been shown living in considerable numbers among us without fear or restraint; acquiring our language; readily falling in with our manners and customs; enjoying the comforts of our clothing, and relishing the variety of our food. We saw them die in our houses, and the places of the deceased instantly filled by others, who observed nothing in the fate of their predecessors to deter them from living with us, and placing that entire confidence in us which it was our interest and our pleasure to cultivate."

With respect to the natives, it was my determination from my first landing that nothing less than the most absolute necessity should ever make me fire upon them, and though preserving this resolution has at times been rather difficult, I have hitherto been so fortunate that it never has been necessary. Mons. La Pérouse while at Botany Bay was not so fortunate; he was obliged to fire on them, in consequence of which, with the bad behaviour of some of the transports' boats and some convicts, the natives have lately avoided us, but proper measures are taken to regain their confidence.

The few hours I have to collect and put into method the observations I have made of these people will, I hope, excuse me to your lordship for sending only extracts from my journal, as they have been set down when the little incidents occurred, and from which a more just opinion of these people may be drawn than I should perhaps be able to give.

When I first landed in Botany Bay the natives appeared on the beach, and were easily persuaded to receive what was offered to them; and though they came armed, very readily returned the confidence I placed in them by going to them alone and unarmed, most of them laying down their spears when desired; and while the ships remained in Botany Bay no dispute happened between our people and the natives. {22} They were all naked, but seemed fond of ornaments, putting the beads or red baize that were given them round their heads or necks. Their arms and canoes being described in Captain Cook's Voyage, I do not trouble your lordship with any description of them.

When I first went in the boats to Port Jackson the natives appeared armed near the place at which we landed, and were very vociferous, but, like the others, easily persuaded to accept whatever was offered them; and I persuaded one man, who appeared to be the chief or master of the family, to go with me to that part of the beach where the people were boiling their meat. When he came near the marines, who were drawn up near the place, and saw that by proceeding he should be separated from his companions, who remained with several officers at some distance, he stopped, and with great firmness seemed, by words and actions, to threaten them if they offered to take any advantage of his situation. He then went on with me to examine what was boiling in the pot, and expressed his admiration to me in a manner that made me believe he intended to profit from what he saw, and which I made him understand he might very easily, by the help of some oyster-shells. I believe they know no way of dressing their food but by broiling, and they are seldom seen without a fire, or a piece of wood on fire, which they carry with them from place to place and in their canoes, so that I apprehend they find some difficulty in procuring fire by any other means with which they are acquainted. The boats, in passing near a point of land in their Manly Cove, harbour, were seen by a number of men, and twenty of them waded into the water unarmed, received what was offered them, and examined the boats with a curiosity that gave me a much higher opinion of them than I had formed from the behaviour of those seen in Captain Cook's voyage, and their confidence and manly behaviour made me give the name of Manly Cove to this place.

The same people afterwards joined us where we dined; they were all armed with lances, two with shields and swords, the latter made of wood, the gripe small, and I thought less formidable than a good stick. As their curiosity made them very troublesome when we were preparing our dinner, I made a circle round us; there was little difficulty in making them understand they were not to come within it, and they then sat down very quiet. The white clay rubbed on the upper part of the face of one of these men had the appearance of a mask; and a woman that appeared on some rocks near which the boats passed was marked with white on the face, neck, and breasts in such a manner as to render her the most horrid figure I ever saw. They are not often seen marked in this manner, and it is done only on some particular occasions. Several women landed from their canoes the morning the boats stopped in a small bay near the entrance of the harbour, when I was going to examine the coast to the northward, and three of them were very big with child. Ribbons, baize, &c., they tied round their necks when they were given to them. Several of them had children with them in the canoes. They appeared to be less cheerful than the men, and under great subjection. Two canoes with three women in each, and one canoe with a man and woman, came off to us when we were a mile from the land, and came alongside the boat to receive some fish-hooks and lines which were offered them.

In Broken Bay several women came down to the beach with the men where we landed, one of whom, a young woman, was very talkative and remarkably cheerful. They all readily assisted us in making a fire, and behaved in the most friendly manner. In a bay in which we landed to haul the seine, many of the natives joined us, and I now observed that the women had lost two joints of the little finger of the left hand. As they appeared to be all married women, I supposed it to be a part of the marriage ceremony; but in going into a hut where there were several women and children, who did not seem inclined to show themselves, I found one woman who appeared to have had children, and a very old woman, on neither of whom this operation had been performed. There was likewise a child of five or six years of age that had lost the two joints. It is the women only that suffer this operation, which—as it must be performed with the shell that serves them, when fixed at the end of a short stick, as a chisel for pointing their spears and for separating the oysters from the rocks—must be a painful one. It is only on the little finger of the left hand that it is performed. It cannot be any part of the marriage ceremony, for I have seen several women with child whose fingers were perfect, and, as I before observed, a female child of five or six years of age that had suffered the operation. I likewise saw some very young female children whose fingers were perfect. {23}

The loins of many of the women appeared as if they had something of a scrofulous disorder, but which I thought might be the marks still remaining of a chastisement. They certainly are not treated with any very great tenderness, and I believe are mostly employed in the canoes, where I have seen them with very young infants at the breasts. They appear very obedient to the men, and as they are the weakest, so in this state of nature they appear to be treated as the inferior. The women, as well as the men, seem fond of little ornaments, but which they soon lay aside; and the talkative lady, when she joined us in her canoe the day after we first landed, stood up and gave us a song that was not unpleasing.

As most of the women have lost the two first joints of the little finger on the left hand, so most of the men want the right front tooth in the upper jaw, and have the gristle that separates the nostrils perforated, frequently having a piece of stick or a bone thrust through, and which does not add to their beauty. This is general, but I saw some very old men that had not lost the tooth, and whose noses were not perforated for this ornament. {24} On my showing them that I wanted a front tooth it occasioned a general clamour, and I thought gave me some little merit in their opinion. Their bodies, chiefly about the breasts and arms, are scarified, and sometimes the skin is raised for several inches from the flesh, appearing as if it was filled with wind, forming a round surface of more than a quarter of an inch diameter. They have scars likewise in different parts of the body, and frequently one on the instep; nor does the head always escape, for one of them, putting aside the hair on the fore part of the head, showed a scar, and then, pointing to one on the foot and those on different parts of the body, gave us to understand that he was honored by these marks from head to foot. {25} The scars the men are fond of showing, but I did not think the women seemed to be fond of showing the mutilated finger, and sometimes found it rather difficult to know whether they had lost the joint or not; for though they had not the smallest idea that one part of the body required concealment more than the other, {26} they appeared timid, would not approach so readily as the men did, and sometimes they would not land from their canoes, but made signs for us to give what we offered them to the men.

When the south branch of Broken Bay was first visited, we had some difficulty in getting round the headland that separates the two branches, having very heavy squalls of wind and rain, and when we attempted to land there was not sufficient water for the boat to approach the rocks, on which were standing an old man and a youth. They had seen us labour hard to get under the land, and after pointing out the deepest water for the boats, brought us fire, and going with two of the officers to a cave at some distance, the old man made use of every means in his power to make them go in with him, but which they declined, and this was rather unfortunate, for it rained hard, and the cave was the next day found to be sufficiently large to have contained us all, and which he certainly took great pains to make them understand. When this old man saw us prepare for sleeping on the ground, and clearing away the bushes, he assisted, and was the next morning rewarded for his friendly behaviour. Here we saw a woman big with child that had not lost the joints of the little finger.

When we returned two days afterwards to the spot where the old man had been so friendly, he met us with a dance and a song of joy. His son was with him. A hatchet and several presents were made to them; and as I intended to return to Port Jackson the next day, every possible means were taken to secure his friendship; but when it was dark he stole a spade, and was caught in the act. I thought it necessary to show that I was displeased with him, and therefore when he came to me, pushed him away and gave him two or three slaps on the shoulder with the open hand, at the same time pointing to the spade. This destroyed our friendship in a moment, and seizing a spear, he came close up to me, poised it, and appeared determined to strike; but whether from seeing that his threats were not regarded, for I chose rather to risk the spear than fire on him, or from anything the other natives said who surrounded him, after a few moments he dropped his spear and left us. This circumstance is mentioned to show that they do not want personal courage, for several officers and men were then near me. He returned the next morning with several others, and seemed desirous of being taken notice of, but he was neglected, whilst hatchets and several other articles were given to the others.

The men hang in their hair the teeth of dogs and other animals, lobsters' claws, and several small bones which they secure by gum, but I never saw the women do this. Their food is chiefly fish—the shark, I believe, they never eat—the fern root, wild fig, and the kernels of a large fruit, that is not unlike a pine-apple, but which when eaten by the French seamen occasioned violent retchings. Their hooks are made from shells, and their lines and nets, I believe, from the flax plant; but I have some that were made from the fur of some animal, and others that appeared to be made of cotton. The cray-fish and lobsters they catch in small hoop-nets, the making of which shows some art, yet they have no kind of cloathing; at the same time they appear to be sensible of the cold, and to dislike the rain very much, putting on their heads when it rains a piece of bark, under which I have seen them shiver. Their huts are generally surrounded by oyster and mussel shells, and their bodies smell of oil. They cannot be called a very cleanly people, yet I have seen one of them, after having in his hand a piece of pork, hold out his fingers for others to smell to, with strong marks of disgust, and though they seldom refused bread or meat, if offered them, I have never been able to make them eat with us, and when they left us they generally threw away the bread and meat; but fish they always accepted, and would broil and eat it.

The ground having been seen raised in several places, as is common in England where poor people are buried, I had one of these graves opened, and from the ashes had no doubt but that they burn their dead. From the appearance of the ashes, the body must be laid at length only a few inches below the surface, and is, with the wood ashes made by burning the body, covered slightly over with mould, fern, and a few stones. A grave was opened by Captain Hunter in which part of a jawbone was found not consumed by the fire, but we have seen very few of these graves, and none near their huts. {27}

It is not possible to determine with any accuracy the number of natives, but I think that in Botany Bay, Port Jackson, Broken Bay, and the intermediate coast, they cannot be less than fifteen hundred. {28}

Having related the results of his experience among the natives at length, Phillip returns to the subject of exploration—which naturally attracted his attention quite as much as the other. These were the primary objects of his administration. It was necessary to conciliate the natives in order to secure a peaceful occupation of the territory; and it was equally essential to discover its capabilities and resources. His references to the Blue Mountains and the Hawkesbury are peculiarly interesting from the fact that, at the time he wrote, both mountains and river were mere subjects for conjecture, nothing being known about either.

In going to examine a cove near the entrance of the harbour (Shell Cove), I found a passage with deep water into a branch of the harbour that runs to the north-west, and finding, on examining, that there was a run of fresh water that came from the westward. I went a few days after to examine the source. I landed with four days' provisions, several officers, and a small party of marines, and found to the northward of this part of the harbour a large lake, which we examined, though not without great labour, for it is surrounded with a bog and a large marsh, in which we were frequently up to our middle. Here we saw a black swan; it was larger than the common swan, and when it rose, after being fired at, the wings appeared to be edged with white; there is some red on the bill, and it is a noble bird. With great labour, in three days we got round the swamps and marshes from which all the freshwater drains that this harbour is supplied with.

The country we passed through when we left the low grounds was the most rocky and barren I ever saw, the ascending and descending of the mountains being practicable only in particular places, but covered with flowering shrubs. And when about fifteen miles from the sea-coast we had a very fine view of the mountains inland, the northernmost of which I named Carmarthen Hills and the southernmost Landsdown Hills; a mountain between I called Richmond Hill; {29} and, from the rising of these mountains, I did not doubt but that a large river would be found, in search of which I set off the 22nd of April, with six days' provisions. We were eleven officers and men, and landed near the head of the harbour; here the country was good, but we soon came to a close cover that we endeavoured for some time to get through, but were obliged to return, and the next day passed this cover by keeping along the banks of a small creek for about four miles. The three following days we proceeded to the westward, finding the country in general as fine as any I ever saw, the trees growing from twenty to forty feet from each other, and, except in particular places where the soil was stony and very poor, no underwood. The country through which we passed was mostly level, or only rising in small hills, which gave it a pleasing and picturesque appearance. The fifth day we got to a rising ground, and for the first time since we landed saw Carmarthen Hills, as likewise the hills to the south-west. The country round this hill was so beautiful that I called the hill Belle Vue, but the hills we wished to reach still appeared to be at least thirty miles from us.

We had been five days out, and the want of provisions obliged us to return to the spot we left by the track we went, otherwise our journey might be lengthened several days longer than we expected by meeting with deep ravines, which we might be obliged to go round; and I believe no country can be more difficult to penetrate into than this is. Though we always found pools of water that had remained after the rainy season, yet, as that could not be depended on, the water necessary for the day was always carried, which, with the provisions, arms, and a couple of tents, obliged every officer and man to carry a very heavy load, but which at present was so much lightened, and having the trees marked, in one day and a half we got back to the head of the harbour. We had been thirty miles to the westward, and had seen a country that might be cultivated with ease, and I intended returning in a few days, in hopes of reaching the bottom of Landsdown or Carmarthen Hills; and the traces of the natives inland, added to the hopes of finding a large river, which the appearance of the country promised, made every one, notwithstanding the fatigue, desirous of being of the party. But my having, when I went to Broken Bay, before I was perfectly recovered from the complaint which had been so general, slept several nights on the wet ground, brought on a pain in the side, which the journey increased so much that I found a few weeks' rest necessary after I returned.

I have had the honor of informing your lordship that we now know there is a good country near us, and it shall be settled and cultivated early in the spring. In this journey I was surprised to find temporary huts made by the natives far inland, where they must depend solely on animals for food, and to procure which we have never yet seen any other weapon than the spear, which is certainly very inferior to our guns, which in this journey, though we were in want of provisions for the last two days, procured us barely sufficient for two meals. These huts consist of only a single piece of bark, about eleven feet in length, and from four to six feet in breadth, being, when stripped from the tree, bent in the middle, and set up as children put up a card, affording shelter against a shower of rain, if you sit under it. The hut may perhaps only be intended to hide them from the animals they lay in wait for.

Near one of these huts we found some of the bones of a kangaroo, and saw several trees that were on fire; the natives, I suppose, had left them on our approach. I also found the root of fern, or something like the fern root, that had been chewed by one of the natives; he could only have left the spot a few minutes, but we never saw any of them, and I believe their numbers in these woods are very small. Whether they live in the woods by choice or are driven from the society of those who inhabit the sea-coast, or whether they travel to a distant part of the country, I can form no judgment at present. The bark of many of the trees was cut in notches, and at the foot of one tree we found the fur of a flying squirrel. Many trees were seen with holes that had been enlarged by the natives to get at the animal—either the squirrel, kangaroo rat, or opossum—for the going in of which they wait under their temporary huts; and as the enlarging of these holes could only be done with the shell they use to separate the oysters from the rocks, it must require great patience. Against several trees, where the hole was near the ground but too high to reach, boughs of trees were laid for to climb up by. We saw many places where the natives had made fires, but at one place only were any oyster or mussel shells seen, and there not more than half a dozen, and no fish-bones; so that when they go inland they certainly do not carry any fish to support them.

The curious displays of aboriginal art to be seen on the rocks near the sea-coast did not escape Phillip's attention. In his time it is probable that nearly every flat rock about Port Jackson, Botany Bay, and Broken Bay was ornamented with a representation of animal life, or of native weapons, either carved or painted; but very few specimens of the kind are to be met with in the present day. {30}

In Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay we frequently saw the figures of men, shields, and fish roughly cut on the rocks, and on the top of a mountain I saw the figure of a man in the attitude they put themselves in when they are going to dance, which was much better done than I had seen before; and the figure of a large lizard was sufficiently well executed to satisfy everyone what animal was meant.

In all the country through which I have passed I have seldom gone a mile without seeing trees which appear to have been destroyed by fire. We have seen very heavy thunderstorms, and I believe the gum-trees strongly attract the lightning; but the natives always make their fire, if not before their own huts, at the foot of a gum-tree, which burns very freely, and they never put a fire out when they leave the place.

Near some water we saw the dung of some animal that fed on grass, and which I thought could not be less than a horse. Kangaroos were frequently seen, but very shy; and it is a little extraordinary that more of these animals are seen near the camp than in any other part of the country, notwithstanding they are fired at almost daily. Black swans are found on most of the lakes, and a bird as large as the ostrich was killed while I was at Broken Bay. It differs both from the ostrich and the emu. Several have been seen, but they are very shy, and much swifter than the greyhounds. There are wild ducks, teal, and quails, with great variety of small birds.

On my return from this excursion I had the mortification to find that five ewes and a lamb had been killed in the middle of the day, and very near the camp; I apprehend by some native dogs.

The beginning of May, the rainy season was once more supposed to be set in, but after a week we had fine weather.

The three transports for China sailed the 5th, 6th, and 8th of May, and the Supply having been caulked, sailed the 6th to Lord Howe Island, to endeavour to procure turtle in hopes of checking the scurvy, with which most of the people are affected, and near two hundred rendered incapable of doing any work. It is not possible to send the Sirius to the northward, for she must then have her carpenters, and only three of those hired from the transports now remain; and tho' the detachment began to build barracks for the use of the men and huts for the officers the 14th of February, and near a hundred convicts were given to assist in this work, they are not yet finished, nor is the hospital or the store-house that is to receive the provisions still remaining on board three transports, and on these works the carpenters of the Sirius are employed. I have before pointed out the great labour in clearing the ground as one cause of our slow progress.

Your lordship will, I hope, excuse the confused manner in which I have in this letter given an account of what has passed since I left the Cape of Good Hope. It has been written at different times, and my situation at present does not permit me to begin so long a letter again, the canvas house I am under being neither wind nor water proof.

The second and third despatches were written on the 16th May, and related chiefly to military matters. Their contents show that unpleasant differences of opinion had already occurred between Phillip and the officers of the marines, arising from their determination to confine their services within the strict limits of military duty. They declined to support the Government by exercising a moral control over the convicts; they complained of having to sit as members of the Criminal Court; and at the same time they grumbled because they could not get their grants of land immediately.

I have in my first letter had the honor of observing to your lordship the great want of proper persons for to superintend the convicts. The officers who compose the detachment are not only few in number, but most of them have declined any interference with the convicts, except when they are employed for their own particular service. I requested soon after we landed that officers would occasionally encourage such as they observed diligent, and point out for punishment such as they saw idle or straggling in the woods; this was all I desired, but the officers did not understand that any interference with the convicts was expected, and that they were not sent out to do more than the duty of soldiers. The consequence must be obvious to your lordship: here are only convicts to attend the convicts, and who in general fear to exert any authority, and very little labour is drawn from them in a country which requires the greatest exertions. In this declaration I do not mean to include the Lieutenant-Governor, who has shown every attention that could be expected from him, and the Judge-Advocate, acting as a Justice of the Peace with a diligence that does him the greatest credit. The convicts are under as good order as our present situation permits.

The sitting as members of the Criminal Court is thought a hardship by the officers, and of which they say they were not informed before they left England. It is necessary to mention this circumstance to your lordship, that officers coming out may know that a young colony requires something more from officers than garrison duty.

The not having the power of immediately granting lands the officers likewise feel as a hardship. They say that they shall be obliged to make their minds up as to the staying in the country or returning, before they can know what the bounty of Government intends them.

The third despatch referred to some eccentric proceedings on the part of Major Ross:—

I have the honor of transmitting your lordship copies of the proceedings of a Battalion Court-martial, and the letters which passed on that occasion, by which your lordship will see the reasons assigned by the Commandant of the detachment for putting the officers under arrest, as likewise the reasons given by the Court for not altering the sentence.

Battalion Court-martial being ordered by Major Ross, as Commandant of the detachment, when he judged necessary, I was not informed of the officers being under arrest till the next morning, when he came to inform me, and I used every means in my power to prevent a General Court-martial, the inconveniences of which were obvious. Any accommodation being declined, I did not judge it prudent to put the guards in the charge of sergeants, which must have been done to assemble the Court, the number of officers capable of doing duty being but thirteen. I therefore ordered the officers to return to their duty till a General Court-martial could be assembled.

From an order signed by Lieut. George Johnston, Adjutant of Orders, dated 22nd March, 1788, it appears that, on the previous day, Major Ross had placed Captain Tench and four other officers of the corps under arrest because they, while acting as President and members of a Court-martial for the trial of a private soldier, had passed a sentence which, in the Major's opinion, tended to the subversion of all military discipline. He had also requested that a General Court-martial might be ordered for the trial of the officers, "for refusing to make any alteration in the sentence", after they had been called upon to do so.

As an alternative to this proceeding the Major proposed that, in order to restore harmony and support military discipline, the matter should be submitted by the Judge-Advocate to the determination of any number of officers. The gentlemen concerned, however, declined to adopt that suggestion on the ground that, having been put under arrest, nothing less than a legal decision by a General Court-martial, "or a public reparation from their Commandant", would clear their characters.

At this point a dilemma presented itself. The total number of officers being only nineteen, of whom five were under arrest and one was confined to his bed, thirteen only were left to sit as members of the Court-martial and at the same time to do duty in the Camp. The Court, therefore, could not be held without depriving the settlement of the usual guards, inasmuch as not one officer would have been No means of left for duty while it was sitting. The conclusion arrived at was, that the documents relating to the matter should be delivered to the Judge-Advocate, in order that a General Court-martial might be assembled whenever the service might permit; the officers under arrest to return to their duty.

This disturbance having occurred in March, when the settlement was barely two months old, it would seem that Major Ross's eccentricities began to show themselves at a very early period of his career. It was unfortunate that while the Judge-Advocate was revolving the matter in his mind, it did not occur to him to point out that nothing could be more subversive of military discipline than the course proposed by the Commandant—that of subjecting the members of a Court-martial to trial because they had passed a sentence which did not meet with his approval, and had subsequently refused to alter it at his request. There were many obvious objections to such a course. In the first place, there was no precedent for it; in the second, it was contrary to the established course of proceedings in military as well as other tribunals; in the third, it was calculated to degrade the officers; and in the fourth, it sought to establish a thoroughly vicious principle—that the deliberate sentence of a Court-martial might be altered at the dictation of the commanding officer.

In addition to these objections, there was the further one that the settled course to pursue in such cases was, to appeal to a General Court-martial in order that the sentence complained of might be judicially reviewed. But the practice of military tribunals not being very well known in the settlement at that time. Major Ross's proposal was allowed to pass without challenge, and was ultimately shelved in the manner stated. The position to which military discipline was brought when it had become possible that subalterns, placed under arrest by their commanding officer, could demand a public apology from him, was another matter which might, under different circumstances, have become a matter for consideration.

A letter to Nepean, the Under Secretary, dated 5th July, was sent with the despatches to Sydney. After some details with respect to the allowance of spirits for the soldiers' wives and the rations for the men, it said:—

Every possible attention will be given to the cultivation of the flax plant when circumstances permit, and on our first arrival in this port it was frequently met with; but when I judged the seed to be ripe and ordered it to be collected, very little was found, and none in those places where it had been seen in any quantity, which I impute to the natives pulling up the plant when in flower to make their fishing-lines. A few plants have been collected, and which are sent home under the care of the agent of the transports.

Sheep do not thrive in this country at present, but as many cows, with one or two young bulls, as the ships intended for this settlement that touch at the Cape can receive on board, will, I hope, be ordered, as likewise seeds, and a few quarters of wheat, barley, and Indian corn.

Cloathing for the natives, if sent out, will, I dare say, be very acceptable to them when they come amongst us. I should recommend long frocks and jackets only, which will equally serve both men and women.

A great part of the cloathing I have, sir, already observed was very bad, and a great part of it was likewise too small for people of common size. If some coarse blankets were to be sent out they would greatly contribute to preserve the health of the convicts.

In addition to the frocks and jackets for the natives, good house-carpenters' axes, hats, hooks, and lines will be most beneficial, as well as most acceptable to the natives.

A second series of despatches, bearing date 9th, 10th, and 12th July, was written by Phillip in continuation of those dated 15th and 16th May. The latter had apparently been written in anticipation of the early departure of the transports bound for England; but as they did not sail until the 14th July, another opportunity was afforded for addressing the Home Secretary. The two sets of despatches were received in London at the same time—March, 1789. The first of those written in July gives an interesting review of his proceedings since the month of May:—

I have had the honor of informing your lordship of the situation of this colony prior to the 15th of May, since which two stores have been finished, and the ships are now landing the remainder of the stores and provisions.

The hutting the battalion is still going on, and though from seventy to one hundred convicts have been almost constantly employed assisting in this business, it will not, I apprehend, be finished before the end of July; and every day proves the necessity of proper persons being sent out to superintend the convicts. If a small number of carpenters and bricklayers are sent out with proper people who are capable of superintending the convicts, they will soon be rendered serviceable to the State, and without which they will remain for years a burden to Government. Numbers of them have been brought up from their infancy in such indolence that they would starve if left to themselves, and many (their numbers now exceed fifty), from old age and disorders which are incurable, and with which they were sent from England, are incapable of every kind of work.

The necessity for keeping up a regular supply of provisions for four or five years at least is again referred to:—

Thus situated, your lordship will excuse my observing a second time that a regular supply of provisions from England will be absolutely necessary for four or five years, as the crops for two years to come cannot be depended on for more than what will be necessary for seed, and what the Sirius may procure can only be to breed from. Should necessity oblige us to make use of what that ship may be able to procure, I do not apprehend that the live stock she will bring in twelve months will be more than a month's provision for the colony, and the Supply is totally unfit for a service of this kind.

Lieutenant Ball returned the 25th from Lord Howe Island, where I had sent him in hopes he would have been able to procure some turtle for the sick; but the weather was bad, and that island not having any good water will not be of any service to us, for Lieutenant Ball did not see any turtle, nor does he suppose they were bred there. The transports that sailed for China had my directions not to go to that island, but they all appeared there before the Supply left it, and one was near being lost. {31}

The store-ships and transports, as cleared, are ordered to prepare to return to England immediately, but some of their sheathing being much destroyed by the worms, it is necessary to permit several of those ships to heave down.

One of the convicts who, in searching for vegetables, had gone a considerable distance from the camp, returned very dangerously wounded in the back by a spear. He denies having given the natives any provocation, and says that he saw them carrying away a man that had gone out for the same purpose, and whom they have wounded on the head. A shirt and hat, both pierced with spears have been since found in one of the native huts, but no intelligence can be got of the man; and I have not any doubt but that the natives have killed him, nor have I the least doubt of the convict being the aggressors. Eleven male and one female convicts have been missing since we landed. A bull-calf has likewise been wounded by a spear, and two goats have been killed by some of our own people, the skin of one being found where the natives never appear, so that the little stock we now have is likely to decrease; and though robberies are punished with severity, there is not a week passes but there are people who lose their provisions and clothes, which in our present situation it is impossible to prevent.

I should hope that few convicts will be sent out this year or the next, unless they are artificers, and after what I have had the honor of observing to your lordship, I make no doubt but proper people will be sent to superintend them. The ships that bring out convicts should have at least the two years' provisions on board to land with them; for the putting the convicts on board some ships, and the provisions that were to support them in others, as was done, I beg leave to observe, much against my inclination, must have been fatal if the ship carrying the provisions had been lost.

The First Plan Of Sydney.
[Available at the National Library of Australia website as NLA Map nk2456-124-v]

In the natural course of events, the growth of the social organism with which Phillip was charged had now so far advanced that the formation of a town had begun to occupy his attention. With the assistance of his Surveyor-General, Mr. Alt, an ex-Baron of Hesse Cassel, he designed a plan for the purpose, a copy of which he enclosed in his despatch. His description of the infant city shows how deeply he was impressed with the conviction that it was destined to become prosperous as well as permanent; that the huts and thatch-roofed buildings of his day would soon give way to structures of a more durable kind; and that in place of a few wretched stragglers from the army of civilised life, the shores of Sydney Cove would in time be peopled with an energetic population of free-men, attracted by the prospect of independence in a new and beautiful country. That belief sustained him in all his trials. Among the many proofs of political sagacity to be found in the course of his administration, there was none more remarkable than his suggestion for the prevention of narrow streets, "and the many inconveniences which the increase of inhabitants would otherwise occasion hereafter." Had his views on this subject been carried out, narrow streets and irregular buildings would never have disfigured one of the finest sites for a city which the world can show. In this instance, however, it was unfortunately destined that the foresight of a statesman should be controlled by the force of ignoble circumstances. Phillip at this time had no doubt dreamed the same dream that Darwin afterwards clothed in resounding verse:—

There shall broad streets their stately walls extend,
The circus widen and the crescent bend;

but to realise the dream proved a more difficult matter than he had supposed. It was easy enough to plan streets two hundred feet wide, and to mark out the sites for public buildings of proportionate dimensions; but no sooner had he set to work than he found himself compelled to abandon his scheme for want of the necessary workmen; all the mechanics in the place being insufficient for his purpose. Then he learned that there was no means of making lime, and consequently that nothing could be done in stone; whereupon he was obliged to fall back on bricks and timber, and to content himself with a suggestion that lime should be sent out as ballast in the transports. It was still more aggravating to find that all the tools brought out from England had proved to be of the very worst kind—"as bad as ever were sent out for barter on the coast of Guinea."

I have the honor to enclose your lordship the intended plan for the town. The Lieutenant-Governor has already begun a small house, which forms one corner of the parade; and I am building a small cottage on the east side of the cove, where I shall remain for the present with part of the convicts and an officer's guard. The convicts on both sides are distributed in huts, which are built only for immediate shelter. On the point of land which forms the west side of the cove, an observatory is building under the direction of Lieutenant Dawes, who is charged by the Board of Longitude with observing the expected comet. The temporary buildings are marked in black; those intended to remain, in red. We now make very good bricks, and the stone is good, but do not find either limestone or chalk. As stores and other buildings will be begun in the course of a few months, some regular plan for the town was necessary, and in laying out of which I have endeavoured to place all public buildings in situations that will be eligible hereafter, and to give a sufficient share of ground for the stores, hospital, &c., to be enlarged as may be necessary in the future. The principal streets are placed so as to admit a free circulation of air, and are two hundred feet wide. The ground marked for Government House is intended to include the main guard, Civil and Criminal Courts; and as the ground that runs to the southward is nearly level, and a very good situation for buildings, streets will be laid out in such a manner as to afford a free air; and when the houses are to be built, if it meets with your lordship's approbation, the land will be granted with a clause that will ever prevent more than one house being built on the allotment, which will be sixty feet in front and one hundred and fifty feet in depth; this will preserve uniformity in the buildings, prevent narrow streets, and the many inconveniences which the increase of inhabitants would otherwise occasion hereafter.

The hospital is a building that will stand for some years; it is clear of the town, and the situation is healthy. The barracks and huts now building for the officers and men will stand three or four years. If water could be found by sinking wells on the high ground between the town and the hospital, I proposed building the barracks on that spot, and surrounding with such works as we may be able to make, and which I did intend beginning as soon as the transports were cleared and the men hutted; but I now find that without some additional workmen the progress must be so very slow that the design is laid aside, and the only building I shall attempt will be a store-house that will be secure, those we have already built being not only in danger from fire, from being thatched, but of material that will not stand more than two years. The barracks and all buildings in future will be covered with shingles, which we now make from a tree like the pine-tree in appearance, the wood resembling the English oak.

The monotony of daily life in the Camp was ever and anon disturbed by a sudden alarm of an outrage committed by the natives. At this time they were swarming in the neighbourhood of the settlement, always on the look out for unarmed stragglers whom they could pick off from behind a gum-tree, and whose lives were taken without scruple in revenge for the canoes and fishing-tackle stolen from them on the beaches. According to native law, it was not at all necessary to identify the thief; the tribe to which he belonged was held responsible for his act, and had to pay the penalty. The memory of one of these tragedies is perpetuated in the name given to a bay in the harbour, still known as Rushcutters' Bay. Phillip's account of the matter presents one of the best sides of his character:—

The 30th of May two men employed collecting thatch at some distance from the camp were found dead. One of them had four spears in him, one of which had passed through his body; the other was found at some distance, dead, but without any apparent injury. This was a very unfortunate circumstance, and the more as it will be impossible to discover the people who committed the murder, and I am still persuaded the natives are not the aggressors. These men had been seen with one of their canoes, but I was not informed of that circumstance for some days. Though I did not mean to punish any of the natives for killing these people, which it is more than probable they did in their own defence, or in defending their canoes, I wished to see them; and, as they had carried away the rushcutters' tools, I thought they might be found out and some explanation take place, for which purpose I went out with a small party the next day, and landed where the men were killed; but after traversing the country more than twenty miles, we got to the north shore of Botany Bay without meeting any of the natives; there we saw about twenty canoes fishing.

It was then sunset, and as we made our fires and slept on the beach, I did not doubt but some of them would join us, but not one appeared; and the next morning, though fifty canoes were drawn up on the beach, we could not find a single person, but, on our return, keeping for some time near the sea-coast, we came to a cove where a number of the natives were assembled, I believe more than what belonged to that particular spot. Though we were within ten yards when we first discovered each other, I had barely time to order the party to halt before numbers appeared in arms, and the foremost of them, as he advanced, made signs for us to retire; but upon my going up to him, making signs of friendship, he gave his spear to another, and in less than three minutes we were surrounded by two hundred and twelve men. Numbers of women and children were at a small distance, and, whether by their superiority of numbers, for we were only twelve, or from their not being accustomed to act with treachery, the moment the friendship I offered was accepted on their side they joined us, most of them laying down their spears and stone hatchets with the greatest confidence, and afterwards brought down some of their women to receive the little articles we had to give them. I saw nothing to induce me to believe these people had been concerned in the murder which had been committed. We parted on friendly terms, and I was now more than ever convinced of the necessity of placing confidence in these people as the only means of avoiding a dispute. Had I gone up to them with all the party, though only twelve, or hesitated a moment, a lance would have been thrown, and it would have been impossible to have avoided a dispute.

Here we saw the first stream of fresh water I have seen in this country, but the cove is open to the sea. When the natives saw we were going on towards the next cove, one of them, an old man, made signs to let him go first, and as soon as we were at the top of the hill he called out, holding up both his hands (a sign of friendship) to the people in the next cove, giving them to understand that we were friends. We did not go to that cove, but saw about forty men, so that unless these people had assembled on some particular occasion, the inhabitants are still more numerous than I had imagined I have before had the honor of observing to your lordship that we had traced the natives thirty miles inland, and this morning, in crossing the hills between Botany Bay and Port Jackson, we saw smoke on the top of Landsdown Hill, so that I think there cannot be any doubt of there being inhabitants fifty miles inland.

How little was known of the country at this time may be seen in Phillip's innocent remark about the existence of natives fifty miles inland. It had not even occurred to him as a probability that the interior of New Holland might be peopled with aboriginals, and that those whom he saw around him might be but a handful of the many tribes moving over its immense surface. As a matter of fact, nothing was then known about the country or its inhabitants beyond what had been learned from Cook's Voyage. In the eyes of its first settlers, the land was a wilderness, and the natives were supposed to be confined to the sea-coast.

His Majesty's birthday was observed with every possible mark of attention our situation permitted. The three men that had been reprieved from death in order to be exiled were fully pardoned, and for the twenty-four hours I believe there was not one heavy heart in this part of his Majesty's dominions.

The first celebration of a royal birthday in the colony took place on the 4th of June, when King George the Third attained his fiftieth year. All possible honour was paid to the occasion; and so far as ceremonies are concerned, they differed little from those of the present day. At sun-rise, at one o'clock, and at sunset the two men-of-war in the harbour fired a salute of twenty-one guns each; on shore the colours were hoisted at the Flagstaff; at twelve o'clock, the battalion of marines was under arms, and concluded its parade by firing three vollies, followed by three rounds of cheering. Then came a levée at Government House, at which the Lieutenant-Governor, attended by all the officers of his corps, the captains and other officers of the men-of-war, the members of the Civil Service, and others, paid their respects to his excellency in person. The levée was followed by a dinner at Government House at two o'clock, when Phillip's French cook {32} had an opportunity for displaying his ingenuity. The "band of musick" from the Sirius played God Save the King and several excellent marches during the dinner. "After the cloth was removed"—we are indebted to Surgeon White {33} for these particulars—"his Majesty's health was drank with three cheers." Then came the Prince of Wales, the Queen and Royal Family, the Cumberland Family, his Royal Highness Prince William Henry, and lastly, his Majesty's Ministers, of whom some one was good enough to say that "they might be pitted against any that ever conducted the affairs of Great Britain."

After the toasts had been duly honoured, Phillip informed his guests that he had determined to create a County and to name it the County of Cumberland, after his Royal Highness, giving it such boundaries as would make it the largest county in the world. To the north, it would be bounded by the northernmost point of Broken Bay; to the south, by the southernmost point of Botany Bay; and to the west by the great range of mountains which he had seen for the first time during his expedition of the 15th April. He then went on to say that he had also intended to have named the town they were building, and to have laid the foundation-stone of it, on that day; but the unexpected difficulties he had met with in clearing the ground, added to the want of mechanics, had rendered it impossible to do so. He was therefore obliged to postpone that ceremony until a future day. The name which Phillip thought of giving the town was never officially mentioned by him; but, says White, "we understand it is to be ALBION."

While the gentlemen of the civil, military, and naval establishments were thus enjoying themselves at Government House, the people outside were not forgotten by the Governor. The unhappy creatures lying under sentence at Rock Island were released: some sailors of the Sirius who had got into trouble were pardoned; while every soldier had a pint of porter in addition to his allowance of grog, and every convict "half a pint of spirits made into grog", that they all might drink his Majesty's health and be happy. Even at this early period of his administration, Phillip had gained a reputation for kindness and generosity in dealing with his unfortunate subjects; for White, in mentioning "this act of lenity and mercy", speaks of "many others which the Governor had shown." Night-time was distinguished by "an immense bonfire", in place of a general illumination, which everybody went forth to see; the celebrations of the day concluding with a supper at Government House, where Phillip and his guests "terminated the day in pleasantry, good humour, and cheerfulness."

During all the festivities of the occasion, however, it was noticed that Phillip was "in great pain from a return of his complaint"—an attack which had seized him in the side and loins, brought on by his having slept several nights on the wet ground at Broken Bay, before he was perfectly recovered from the complaint which had attacked almost everyone after the arrival of the Fleet. His sufferings had been aggravated by "a fall into a hollow place in the ground, concealed by the long grass" while he was out on his last expedition in April. But "though his countenance too plainly indicated the torture which he suffered" while entertaining his guests on the royal birthday, "he took every method in his power to conceal it, lest it should break in upon the festivity and harmony of the day." This attack seems to have troubled him greatly for a long time afterwards. In February, 1790, he told Evan Nepean, in reply to a passage in one of Ross's letters twitting him with his absence from head-quarters on "parties of pleasure", that "a journey I made soon after we landed fixed a complaint in my side which has rendered the fatigues of examining the country round us not parties of pleasure, but parties in which nothing but a sense of duty and necessity would make me engage"; and that his absence on a certain occasion took place "at a time when my state of health was such that I should have been pleased to remain in my bed, rather than have gone to Rose Hill to sleep on the boards in a hut." The complaint seems to have got worse in the following year, since in March, 1791, he wrote to Lord Granville requesting permission to return to England, stating as a reason that "a complaint in the side, from which, in more than two years, I have been seldom free", had impaired his health so much as to incapacitate him at times for duty.

If we had been unfortunate in our live stock in general, I had the satisfaction of seeing the cows and horses thrive; but the man who attended the former having left them for a short time, they strayed and were lost The loss of four cows and two bulls will not easily be replaced. Pardon, my lord, these tedious relations of robberies and losses; it is the only means I have of giving your lordship a faint idea of the situation in which I am placed. Of the live stock purchased at the Cape, part died on the passage, and the greatest part of what remained since landing.

Having reason to believe that one of the natives had been murdered and several wounded, which it is probable occasioned the attack on the rushcutters, I have promised to emancipate any convict that will discover the aggressors; it will, I hope, at least prevent anything of the kind in future.

A convict who had committed a robbery and absconded the 5th of June returned the 24th almost starved; he found it impossible to subsist in the woods. One of the natives gave him a fish, but then made signs for him to go away. He says he afterwards joined a party of the natives, who would have burned him but that he got away from them; and that he saw the remains of a human body on the fire. In the woods he saw four of the natives who were dying, and who made signs for food. This man was tried, pleaded guilty, and suffered with another convict. He persisted in the story respecting the natives intending to burn him, and I now believe they find the procuring a subsistence very difficult, for little fish is caught.

The 22nd of this month (June) we had a slight shock of an earthquake. It did not last more than two or three seconds. I felt the ground shake under me, and heard a noise that came from the southward, which I at first took for the report of guns fired at a distance. {34}

Tho' we have had heavy rains at the change of the moon, this cannot be called a rainy season. The climate is a very fine one, and the country will, I make no doubt, when the woods are cleared away, be as healthy as any in the world, but is, I believe, subject to violent storms of thunder and lightning. Soon after we landed several trees were fired by the lightning, and several sheep and hogs killed in the camp.

The climatic changes which took place during the early years of the colony are frequently referred to by Phillip and his contemporaries. The thunderstorms were sudden and violent; rain fell in torrents; trees were frequently split by lightning, and animals standing under them killed; in winter it was so cold that ice was common at Parramatta, and large hailstones fell when it rained; while the heat in summer, especially when the hot winds blew, was intolerably severe. The cause of the extreme heat was a subject of much discussion, some attributing it to the practice, common among the natives, of setting the bush on fire. Tench made a better guess when he accounted for it "by the wind blowing over immense desarts, which, I doubt not, exist in a north-west direction from Port Jackson." {35}

The sudden variations of the weather were at first attributed to the changes of the moon; but according to Tench, "lunar empire afterwards lost its credit", and the violent outbursts of the elements were regarded as peculiar to the country. Experience proved them to be nothing more than the usual results of dense vegetation in semi-tropical countries, unoccupied by civilised men.

The difference in temperature felt at Sydney and Rose Hill, only twelve miles apart, was a subject of common remark: the extremes of heat and cold being felt at one place in much greater intensity than at the other. But although the changes in the weather were so frequent that "clouds, storms, and sunshine passed in rapid succession", it was agreed that the climate itself could not be healthier. Animals of all kinds seemed to thrive under its influence; and as a conclusive proof of its invigorating effect. Tench mentions that "women, who certainly would never have bred in any other climate, here produced as fine children as ever were born." {36}

Of the convicts, thirty-six men and four women died on the passage, twenty men and eight women since landing, eleven men and one woman absconded, four have been executed, and three killed by the natives. The number of convicts now employed in erecting the necessary buildings and cultivating the lands only amounts to three hundred and twenty-six, and the whole number of people victualled amounts to nine hundred and sixty-six—consequently we have only the labour of a part to provide for the whole.

Your lordship will doubtless see the necessity of employing a considerable force in the country, and I presume an addition of five hundred men will be absolutely requisite to enable me to detach three or four companies to the more open country near the head of the harbour.

I could have wished to have given your lordship a more pleasing account of our present situation, and am persuaded I shall have that satisfaction hereafter; nor do I doubt but that this country will prove the most valuable acquisition Great Britain ever made; at the same time no country offers less assistance to the first settlers than this does; nor do I think any country could be more disadvantageously placed with respect to support from the mother country, on which for a few years we must entirely depend.

However depressed Phillip may have felt while recounting his troubles and difficulties, his confidence in the future of the colony seems to have become more and more a settled conviction within him. Considering that he was not at all given to the use of exaggerated language, and that his views of things were decidedly prosaic, the expression of his opinion on this subject is certainly remarkable.

Evidently relying on his good friend Evan Nepean for assistance in his difficulties, Phillip lost no opportunity for keeping him acquainted with the state of affairs in the settlement. His despatches to the Secretary of State were usually accompanied by letters to the Under Secretary, in which the contents of the former were repeated in still plainer and more emphatic language. The point which he was most anxious to impress on the Ministerial mind at this time was, the necessity for keeping up a regular supply of provisions.

Although the First Fleet had sailed with supplies calculated to last for two years, {37} it had become manifest to Phillip, before he had been six months in the country, that he would have to depend on regular supplies from England for at least four or five years to come. According to the original estimate, the provisions put on board the ships were not expected to last more than two years, and therefore another store-ship ought to have been at anchor in the harbour during 1789. Unfortunately, Sydney was sanguine enough to suppose that the cultivation of the land, added to the natural products of the country, would enable Phillip to procure the necessaries of life for his people with very little difficulty. Any practical farmer might have pointed out the danger of relying on such expectations; but it so happened that the difficulties of farming in a new country were never taken into calculation by the Government, until they forced themselves on their attention through the medium of Phillip's bitter experience.

You will see by my letters to Lord Sydney that this colony must for some years depend on supplies from England.

The Sirius will be sent to the northward for live stock as soon as we can spare her carpenters; and from what Monsieur la Pérouse said to Captain Hunter, one of the Isles des Navigateurs is the most likely to furnish us with what we want; but though these islands supply two or three ships very abundantly, they will afford but very little towards the support of this colony, the situation of which I have particularly pointed out in my letters to Lord Sydney, and which I shall recapitulate in this, as the ship by which I now write may arrive before either of those that have my despatches on board.

Phillip's instructions authorised him to take on board, at any place he might touch at on the voyage out, any number of black cattle, sheep, goats, or hogs which he could procure, and also to send the Sirius and the Supply to the islands in order to barter with the natives for further supplies. For that purpose, he was told, "a quantity of arms and other articles of merchandise" had been put on board the ships; and he was expressly required to confine his trading operations as much as possible "to such parts as are not in the possession or under the jurisdiction of other European Powers." {38} The ordinary construction of this language would lead the reader to suppose that Phillip was left at liberty to make what purchases of live stock he might think fit, at the Cape or any other place; and that the authority to trade with the natives of the islands for further supplies was given for the purpose of enabling him to increase his stock from time to time with greater facility than he could otherwise have done.

It seems tolerably clear, however, from the official correspondence, that he was not left entirely to his own discretion in the matter of purchases; but that he was stringently cautioned against drawing bills on the Treasury, either for live stock or anything else, for any larger amount than he could possibly avoid. He was tied down to the strictest economy in every particular. The apologetic character of his letters, when referring to his drafts on the Exchequer, is sufficient to show the limit of his powers in any matter involving expenditure. Some live stock, of course, would have to be taken on board the Fleet for immediate purposes on its arrival, and for that reason he was authorised to make necessary purchases on his way out; but for any. further supplies that might be required he was directed to look to "the islands adjacent"—that is, any islands in the South Pacific at which live stock might be had. The secret of that singular instruction, apparently, was economy; Sydney being evidently under the impression that barter with the natives would be a much cheaper transaction than buying openly in a Dutch market. {39} The accounts in Cook's Voyages of the facility with which his ships had been supplied at different islands gave rise to that impression; but his lordship overlooked the material difference, pointed out by Phillip, between taking in provisions for two or three ships and obtaining regular supplies for a colony. Another and still more important point which did not occur to the Minister was the very dangerous character of the navigation among the islands at that time. The South Pacific was practically unexplored, and Phillip was naturally reluctant to send either of his ships on such a perilous cruise.

The Lieutenant-Governor has about four acres of land in cultivation; I have from eight to ten in wheat and barley. The officers will be able to raise sufficient to support the little live stock they have, and which is all that can be expected from them. All the corn raised this year and the next will be saved for seed, and, if necessity should oblige us to use it, would be only a few days support for the colony, and from the rats and other vermin the crops are very uncertain.

All the provisions we have to depend on until supplies arrive from England are in two wooden buildings, which are thatched. I am sensible of the risk, but have no remedy.

The greatest part of the stock brought from the Cape is dead, and from the inattention of the men who had the care of the cattle, those belonging to Government and two cows belonging to myself, are lost. As they have been missing three weeks, it is probable they are killed by the natives. All my sheep are dead, and a few only remain of those purchased for Government.

Phillip does not mention in his despatches that he had caused a return to be prepared by the Commissary, showing the exact number of live stock in the settlement on the 1st May. {40} Including under that head horses, cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs, the number brought from the Cape on public account was ninety-one; but no record was kept of the stock brought by private individuals. On the 1st May, the population of the Cove could only muster one hundred and thirty-six out of the total number of animals landed in January. As the difference between the two totals amounts to forty-five only, it follows that either the importations on private account were very small, or the mortality was very great. Phillip mentions in his despatch of 28th September that he had brought over seventy sheep with him on his own and on Government account, but that one only remained alive when he wrote. The natural grass was considered to be fatal to them; for those which were fed by their owners outside their tents managed to survive their companions.

The loss of the cattle referred to by Phillip—two bulls and five cows—became in later years one of the romantic incidents of the time. After many ineffectual attempts to recover the runaways, all hope of seeing them again was at last abandoned; the general theory being that they had been killed and eaten by the natives. {41} It was not until November, 1795, that the cattle were heard of again, when reports were brought in to Governor Hunter to the effect that they had multiplied into a herd, and were to be seen grazing on the banks of the Nepean, in pastures as rich as those of a typical English landscape. The narrative of their recovery in Collins furnishes almost the only instance in which that severe writer allows himself to speak approvingly of Australian scenery. {42} Not the least remarkable fact connected with this event is the peculiar display of instinct which led cattle, bred at the Cape of Good Hope, to such distant pasturage.

To show still more conclusively how dependent the colony was on supplies from England, Phillip proceeds to point out that the nearest places to which he could send for assistance in an emergency—the Cape of Good Hope and Batavia— were too remote to be of much service. He would not feel justified in sending a ship to either of those places "unless in case of the greatest necessity"; and if it should come to that, he was afraid that it would in all probability be too late. Neither the Sirius nor the Supply was noted for its sailing capacity; the latter, according to King, sailed "very ill", while the former, a store-ship converted into a man-of-war for the expedition, had become leaky; and as one took sixty-six days and the other sixty-eight to make the run from the Cape to Botany Bay, it was clear that a voyage to the Cape and back would be attended with great delay in any case. But the necessity for adopting this course came upon Phillip sooner than he had expected when writing to Nepean. He found himself compelled to send the Sirius to the Cape for a six months' supply of flour and other necessaries in less than three months afterwards; the voyage there and back occupied seven months, and the ship narrowly escaped being wrecked on Tasman's Head. {43} Even if these ships had been better fitted for such a service than they were, the navigation of the adjacent seas was so little known at the time, and consequently so dangerous, that even the route by which they should sail was a matter of grave uncertainty among seamen. {44}

With respect to any resources that the Cape of Good Hope might afford, I have only to observe that during the strong westerly winds that prevail all the year between that Cape and the southern extremity of this country would render a passage to the Cape very tedious, if attempted to the southward, and little less so if ships go to the northward. Batavia and our own settlements are at a great distance, and when the transports are sailed I shall have only the Sirius to employ on a service of this kind; and as I should not think myself at liberty to send either to the Cape or to the East Indies, unless in a case of the greatest necessity, it would in all probability then be too late. I mention these circumstances just to show the real situation of the colony, and I make no doubt but that supplies will arrive in time, and on which alone I depend.

The provisions sent to support this colony for two years being put on board three ships was running a very great risk, for had they separated and afterwards been lost, the consequence is obvious, for this country at present does not furnish the smallest resource except in fish, and which has lately been so scarce that the natives find great difficulty in supporting themselves.

Any accident of this kind will be guarded against, of course, and soldiers or convicts when sent out will be put on board the ships with provisions to serve them for two years after they land; and in our present situation I hope few convicts will be sent out, for one year at least, except carpenters, masons, and bricklayers, or farmers, who can support themselves and assist in supporting others. Numbers of those now here are a burthen and incapable of any hard labour, and unfortunately we have not proper people to keep those to their labour who are capable of being made useful.

Officers decline the least interference with the convicts, unless when they are immediately employed for their (the officers') own conveniency, or when they are called out at the head of their men. The saying of a few words to encourage the diligent when they saw them at work, and the pointing out the idle, when they could do it without going out of their way, was all that was desired. The convicts were then employed clearing the ground on which the officers were encamped, and this they refused. They did not suppose that they were sent out to do more than garrison duty; and these gentlemen (that is, the majority of the officers) think the being obliged to sit as members of the Criminal Court a hardship, and for which they are not paid, and likely think themselves hardly dealt by in that Government had not determined what lands were to be given them. But I presume an additional force will be sent out when the necessity of making detachments in order to cultivate lands in the more open country is known, and from four to six hundred men will, I think, be absolutely necessary.

In explaining to Nepean the position taken up by the officers of marines, in reply to the suggestions made to them for the management of the convicts, Phillip referred to the matter without any display of irritation. Situated as he was at that time, nothing could have been more disheartening than the studied selfishness and want of consideration shown by those gentlemen. Without any overseers or superintendents, and consequently without any means of exercising moral control over the convicts, the Governor had a right to expect the cordial co-operation of the officers in preserving order and promoting good conduct among the degraded creatures by whom they were surrounded. It would not have cost the marines anything to comply with his wishes, while the results he hoped for would probably have followed from the line of policy which he sought to establish. The only alternative was to leave the course of events to shape its own channel.

If fifty farmers were sent out with their families, they would do more in one year in rendering this colony independent of the mother country, as to provisions, than a thousand convicts. There is some clear land which is intended to be cultivated at some distance from the camp, and I intended to send out convicts for that purpose under the direction of a person that was going to India in the Charlotte transport, but who remained to settle in this country, and has been brought up a farmer, but several of the convicts (three) having been lately killed by the natives, I am obliged to defer it until a detachment can be made.

His Majesty, a injunction that "you do, immediately upon your landing, proceed to the cultivation of the land", was painfully present to Phillip's mind from the day he landed at Sutherland Point and looked anxiously about him for the meadows he expected to find there. But in his efforts to carry out his instructions, day by day served to reveal some new difficulty. In the first place, he could not find any land that was fit to cultivate, for some months after his arrival; in the second, he had no persons at his disposal who understood the work of cultivation; in the third, the farming implements with which he was supplied were of the least serviceable kind; and in the fourth, nearly all the seed he had brought with him had gone bad. Under such circumstances, his agricultural prospects could not have been a subject for rejoicing.

The most discouraging of all his difficulties was the worthless character of the men whom he had to depend upon in his farming operations. They neither understood the work itself, nor would they make the least effort to learn it; in his own words, "the dread of work was greater in their eyes than the fear of punishment." They would not have been so difficult to deal with had there been a sufficient number of properly qualified overseers to look after them; but when those officials had to be chosen from among themselves, it soon became clear that men so selected either had not any influence over the others, or they had no wish to exercise the authority entrusted to them. It was not less clear that they had very little interest in making their former companions work against their will. After much painful experience, the conclusion was at last forced upon Phillip that, in the hands of such men, the cultivation of soil was a systematic deception; and that the only means by which the colony could be made self-supporting was by settling farmers on the land, supplying them with a certain amount of convict labour, as well as provisions for two years, under proper regulations. In deference to his urgent and repeated representations on this head, the Government ultimately consented to adopt his suggestions; and from that point the prosperity of the colony may be said to have begun. But no free settlers were sent out until 1793.

The natives are far more numerous than they were supposed to be. I think they cannot be less than one thousand five hundred in Botany Bay, Port Jackson, and Broken Bay, including the intermediate coast. I have traced them thirty miles inland, and, having lately seen smoke on Landsdown Hills, which are fifty miles inland, I think leaves no doubt but that there are inhabitants in the interior parts of the country.

Lists of what articles are most wanted will be sent by the Commissary; and I am very sorry to say that not only a great part of the cloathing, particularly the women's, is very bad, but most of the axes, spades, and shovels the worst that ever were seen. The provision is as good. Of the seeds and corn sent from England, part has been destroyed by the weevil; the rest is in good order.

The person I have appointed Provost-Marshall is likewise very useful in superintending the carpenters The person sent out by the contractor, who assists the Commissary in the delivery of provisions, one that was clerk of the Sirius, a master smith, and two farmers, are very useful people, and I beg leave to recommend them to Government. The granting them lands would draw their attention from their present occupations.

The person appointed Provost-Marshal was Henry Brewer, a midshipman of the Sirius, who was appointed on the voyage out, as mentioned by Phillip in one of his letters from Rio. The title was a military one, and in the army the duties of the office were analogous to those of the head of a police department. {45} The Provost-Marshal appointed by Phillip was not attached to the garrison but to the settlement, and consequently he was a civil and not a military officer. The appointment, however, serves to illustrate the distinctly military character of the organisation under which the colony was founded. It was essentially a Camp in the first instance, and was governed according to military ideas. Phillip made the appointment in question under section II of the Act of 1787, which directed the Provost-Marshal to execute the judgments pronounced by the Criminal Court. {46} Every sentence passed by that Court was carried out under his supervision, and he was responsible for its due execution.

The Fishburn store-ship is detained until a proper place can be provided for the spirits; and the rains have for some days prevented the landing the remainder of the provisions from the Golden Grove, therefore those two ships will sail together, I hope by the end of August; the other ships have all cleared, and preparing to sail.

The Fishburn and the Golden Grove sailed for England on the 19th November, carrying the despatches written between that date and the 2nd October. By "the other ships", Phillip meant the Alexander, Prince of Wales, Friendship, and Borrowdale, which sailed on the 14th July, carrying the despatches written previously. There were thus only two opportunities for sending letters direct to England during the year. The three ships which sailed for China in the first week of May did not carry any mail for England. They were under charter to the East India Company, to carry cargoes of "tea and other merchandize" from Canton to London. They had been unloaded in Sydney Cove much more quickly than the other ships, on account of the express instructions given on that point, "a very considerable saving" being thereby effected in freight.

The masters of the transports having left with the agents the bonds and whatever papers they received that related to the convicts, I have no account of the time for which the convicts are sentenced, or the dates of their convictions. Some of them, by their own account, have little more than a year to remain, and I am told will apply for permission to return to England or to go to India in such ships as may be willing to receive them. If lands are granted them, Government will be obliged to support them for two years; and it is more than probable that one half of them, after that time is expired, will still want support. Until I receive instructions on this head, of course, none will be permitted to leave the settlement; but if, when the time for which they are sentenced expires, the most abandoned and useless were permitted to go to China in any ships that may stop here, it would be a great advantage to the settlement.

The dilemma in which Phillip was placed when it was discovered that through the negligence of the Government officials and the masters of the transports, there was no means of ascertaining the terms for which the convicts had been sentenced, or even the dates of their convictions, proved an awkward one when the men concerned came forward to claim their discharge. According to the law then in force, the servitude of the prisoners had been transferred from the Crown to the masters of the transports, who had entered into bonds for the performance of their contracts to transport them; and Phillip was instructed to take care, before the transports were discharged, to obtain an assignment of the servitude from the masters to himself. {47} The discovery that all the official papers relating to the convictions had been left behind was no doubt made when he called upon the masters to execute these assignments. Had the officials in charge of the business done their duty, he would not have been left without the necessary information. A list of the convicts sent out in the First Fleet, specifying their names, where convicted, date of conviction, and the terms of their sentences, was published as an appendix to Phillip's Voyage; and if such a list had been placed in his hands before he sailed, no difficulty could have arisen in the matter.

According to the list of names published in that work, out of a total of seven hundred and seventy-five persons transported, there were only twenty sentenced to fourteen years and thirty-six to life. The rest were sentenced to seven years, or less. The number of persons convicted of serious offences did not, therefore, exceed fifty-six; a very small proportion to the whole number. Under the penal legislation of the time, a sentence of five or seven years' transportation was passed only in cases of minor offences; so that the great majority of the persons sent out in the First Fleet did not by any means represent the worst sections of the criminal class.

As a matter of fact, there was no difference, so far as the sentence was concerned, between one for five years and one for life; seeing that there was no chance of escape from the settlement in either case. Jeremy Bentham argued that the convict whose sentence had expired was entitled to a return passage to England, and that detention in the colony after expiration of the term was false imprisonment:—"Was it [the intention] that they should be left fixed for life on the spot to which they were consigned with such nicety of discrimination for fourteen, seven, and five years? If so, what is the sentence, or the pretended execution of it, but a mockery of justice?" {48}

A convict who fled to the woods after committing a robbery returned after being absent eighteen days, forced in by hunger. He had got some small support from the people and the few fish left by accident on the beach, after hauling the seine, and had endeavoured to live amongst the natives, but they could give him but little assistance. He says that they are now greatly distressed for food, and that he saw several dying with hunger. It is possible that some of the natives at this time of the year might find it easier to support themselves on birds and such animals as shelter themselves in the hollow trees, than on fish; but then, I think, they would not go to the top of the mountains, where at present it must be very cold. I intend going to Landsdown or Carmarthen Hills as soon as the weather permits, if it is possible, and which will explain, what is at present a mystery to me, how people who have not the least idea of cultivation can maintain themselves in the interior parts of this country. When I went to the westward in hopes of being able to reach the mountains, we carried six days' provisions, and proceeded five days to the westward. Returning we were very short of provisions, and our guns only procured us two scanty meals.

The mystery which puzzled Phillip and his contemporaries so much—how the natives contrived to keep themselves alive in the bush—remained a mystery for many years after his time. It was not until the explorers of comparatively recent days made their way into the interior, that the means of subsistence available to the natives inland became known. The idea that the native population was confined to the sea-coast was almost universally entertained, in the first instance; and the interior of the country was looked upon as an uninhabited wilderness, in which it would be impossible to find sufficient food to maintain life for a week. Hence the stories about natives seen "dying with hunger" in the bush, and human bodies roasting on their fires—as if they had been driven to cannibal practices in order to save themselves from starvation. The fact was that, except in times of drought, the inland natives were well supplied by nature. {49}

I shall now conclude with saying that I have no doubt but that the country will hereafter prove a most valuable acquisition to Great Britain, though at present no country can afford less support to the first settlers, or be more disadvantageously placed for receiving support from the mother country, on which it must for a time depend. It will require patience and perseverance, neither of which will, I hope, be wanting on my part.

Here Phillip closed his letter; but the two following paragraphs were afterwards added:—

His Majesty's Commission, with that for establishing the Courts of Civil and Criminal Judicature, were read soon after landing; and as it is necessary in public acts to name the county, I named it Cumberland, and fixed its boundaries by Carmarthen and Landsdown Hills to the westward, by the northern parts of Broken Bay to the northward, and by the southernmost part of Botany Bay to the southward.

I have enclosed copies of a letter I have received from the surgeon, reporting the state of the hospital and the great necessity of blankets and sheets, as well as sugar, and those articles coming; under the denomination of necessaries, and the want of which is equally felt by the marines and convicts.

The necessity of providing for the wants of the sick was frequently referred to in Phillip's letters before the First Fleet sailed. Although there was every reason to anticipate attacks of scurvy and other complaints, not only during the passage but after the arrival of the ships in port, the most ordinary precautions seem to have been neglected. With all his efforts to procure the requisite supplies, Phillip was unable to provide the medical staff with the common necessaries of which they were in daily need. From the Surgeon's letter to which he referred, it appears that blankets and sheets had not been sent out, and the patients were consequently left to lie on their beds without them— one of the results being that "attention to cleanliness was utterly impossible." The ordinary articles of hospital diet were also wanting; there was no sugar, sago, barley, rice, oatmeal, or vinegar; and the patients were consequently dieted on salt provisions, "without any possibility of a change." At the time Phillip wrote on this subject, there were over one hundred persons on the sick list; and the hospital tents had been fully occupied from the arrival of the Fleet. According to White, no sooner had the tents been put up than they were "filled with patients afflicted with the true camp dysentery and the scurvy. More pitiable objects were perhaps never seen. Not a comfort or convenience could be got for them, besides the very few we had with us." {50}

In another last note to Nepean, Phillip mentioned some other necessaries which were very much needed at the same time. The italics in this letter, as well as the spelling, are his own.

To the articles which I have mentioned as more immediately wanted, the following, tho' so very necessary, have escaped my memory till this moment:—Leather for soals for the men's shooes and the materials for mending them. Shooes here last but a very short time, and the want of these materials, and thread to mend the cloathing, will render it impossible to make them serve more than half the time for which they were intended. This country requires warm cloathing in the winter. The rains are frequent, and the nights very cold.

Vinegar will be very acceptable; it is much wanted.

The next despatch to Lord Sydney was written in compliance with the Royal instruction that full reports should be transmitted with respect to the natives, and also concerning "the actual state and quality of the soil at and near the settlement, the probable and most effectual means of improving and cultivating the same, and of the mode, and upon what terms and conditions, the lands should be granted." {51} Phillip was not at this time in a position to report specially upon either of these topics. All the information he had been able to gather about them he had already conveyed to the Home Secretary; but conceiving that something in the shape of a formal report was expected from him, he proceeded to summarise the results of his reflections in the following manner:—

In obedience to the instructions I received under the Royal Sign Manual respecting the natives, and transmitting an account of the nature and quality of the soil in and near the settlement, and the mode, and upon what terms and conditions, according to the best of my judgement, lands may be granted,—

I have the honor of informing your lordship that the natives have ever been treated with the greatest humanity and attention, and every precaution that was possible has been taken to prevent their receiving any insults; and when I shall have time to mix more with them, every means shall be used to reconcile them to live amongst us, and to teach them the advantages they will reap from cultivating the land, which will enable them to support themselves at this season of the year, when fish are so scarce that many of them perish with hunger—at least I have strong reason to suppose that to be the case. Their number in the neighbourhood of this settlement, that is, within ten miles to the northward and ten miles to the southward, I reckon at one thousand five hundred.

With respect to the soil, I have had the honor of informing your lordship that near the head of the harbour there is a tract of country running to the westward for many miles, which appears to be in general rich good land. The breadth of this tract of country I have not yet been able to examine, but I believe it to be considerable. These lands and several particular spots may be settled, and the ground cleared of timber, without the great labour we experience in the situation in which I have been obliged to fix the colony.

Farmers and people used to the cultivation of lands, if sent out (and without which agriculture will make but a very slow progress), must be supported by Government for two or three years, and have the labour of a certain number of convicts to assist them for that time, after which they may be able to support themselves, and to take the convicts sent out at the expense which Government is put to for their transportation; but then, I presume, none should be sent whose sentence is for a less term than fourteen years. A yearly fine to be paid for the lands granted, after the fifth year, the fine to be in grain, and in proportion to the crop; and this, I should hope, would be the only tax laid on the crops, giving the Church lands in the room of tythes.

The sending out settlers who will be interested in the labour of the convicts, and in the cultivation of the country, appears to me to be absolutely necessary.

Lands granted to officers or settlers will, I presume, be on condition of a certain proportion of the land so granted being cultivated or cleared within a certain time, and which time and quantity can only be determined by the nature of the ground and situation of the lands. And, in that case, when lands are granted to officers the garrison must be sufficient for the service of the place, and to permit such officers occasionally to be absent at the lands they are to cultivate, and for a certain time. They likewise must be allowed convicts, who must be maintained at the expense of the Crown.

Your lordship will be pleased to consider this opinion as given in obedience to orders, on a subject which requires more consideration than I can give it at present, and at a time when I have only a very superficial knowledge of the country for a few miles around.

Although Phillip's knowledge of the country was necessarily superficial, his remarks on the subject contain the germ of the policy which was subsequently adopted by the Government, and which ultimately led to the successful results obtained under later administrations. The only practicable means by which the labour of the convicts could be utilised was by assigning them to settlers, whose sense of self-interest would induce them to supervise their labourers efficiently, and by that means extract from them a reasonable amount of work. This system differed essentially from the American, which amounted to nothing more than a sale of the convict from the master of the transport to the planter, for the unexpired term of the sentence,—the Government having nothing to do with the transaction. Under Phillip's proposals, the Government did not part with their control over the convicts after the assignment, while the terms of the bargain gave the employer every reason to treat his servants properly. That this system ultimately gave rise to many lamentable abuses does not prove that Phillip's policy was unsound; because the abuses did not show themselves until it had been carried to a point which he had never contemplated when drafting his ideas on the subject.

The ships were now nearly ready for sea, and Phillip wrote final letters to Sydney and Nepean a few days before they sailed. In one to the Under Secretary, he mentions that he had sent three copies of his despatches by different ships—the object being to ensure not only the safety, but the earliest possible delivery, of his correspondence. When he wrote by different ships, he was always under a doubt as to whether "the letter last written might not be the first received." There was no means in those days of calculating, with any degree of accuracy, the probable time of a ship's arrival in England.

As these ships were the first to undertake a voyage from Port Jackson to England, the route by which they were to go became a question of great importance, as well as interest, to all concerned; and Phillip accordingly took the opinions of the masters on the subject. Of the different routes before them, the southern one by Van Diemen's Land was condemned because the season was too far advanced, while the passage by Cape Horn was objected to by the Governor. It was therefore agreed that they should go to the northward, either through Endeavour Straits—as they were then called—or round New Guinea; although such a course would involve "exploring a passage through an unknown sea perplexed with islands, by men destitute of charts or observations of former navigators." {52}

By the Alexander, under the care of Lieutenant Shortland, agent for the transports, I have sent despatches for the Right Honourable the Lord Sydney and for yourself, with a rough survey Despatches, of Port Jackson. Duplicates of these despatches go by the Friendship under the care of Lieutenant Collins, of the marines, triplicates of most by the master of the Borrowdale, and a quadriplicate of my publick letter to you by the Prince of Wales. With your despatches I have sent duplicates and triplicates of my publick letters to the Admiralty and Navy Board, and I have taken the liberty of troubling you with some private letters.

Lieutenant Shortland is likewise charged with a box of letters from Monsieur la Pérouse for the French Ambassador.

The box of letters for the French Ambassador in London contained La Pérouse's account of his voyage from Kamschatka to Botany Bay, and of his stay there from the 26th January to the 10th March. He had no doubt a good deal to say about the English ships he had met coming out of the bay while he was beating in, and of the subsequent proceedings of their commodore. In the last lines written by him in the published narrative of his Voyage, he wrote that the lieutenant sent on board his ship "appeared to make a great mystery of Commodore Phillip's plan, and we did not take the liberty of putting any questions to him on the subject. The crew of the English boat, less discreet than their officer, soon informed our people that they were going to Port Jackson, sixteen miles north of Point Banks, where Commodore Phillip had himself reconnoitred a very good harbour, which ran ten miles into the land to the south-west, and in which the ships might anchor within pistol-shot of the shore, in water as smooth as that of a basin." {53} The reason why the French ships stayed so long was not known to Phillip; nor did he express any curiosity on the subject. The box of letters reached the French Ambassador in March of the following year; and that was the last tidings received from poor Jean François Galaup de la Pérouse.

Yesterday twenty of the natives came down to the beach, each armed with a number of spears, and seized on a good part of the fish caught in the seine. The coxswain had been ordered, however small the quantity he caught, always to give them a part whenever any of them came where he was fishing, and this was the first time they ever attempted to take any by force. While the greatest number were seizing the fish, several stood at a small distance with their spears poised, ready to throw them if any resistance had been made, but the coxswain very prudently permitted them to take what they chose, and parted good friends. They at present find it very difficult to support themselves.

In consequence of what happened yesterday, no boat will in future go down the harbour without an officer.

Two short notes were written to Sydney, "just before the mail closed",—as we should say—in which Phillip addressed him as a personal friend. In the first he referred, with unconscious pathos, to the painful position in which he found himself placed, cut off from all society and surrounded by the most infamous of mankind; showing at the same time what support he derived, in the midst of his trials and privations, from the consciousness that he was doing good work in the world. Two other points are not less noticeable in this letter,—his confidence in the future of the colony, and the warmth of his friendship for King.

The public letters to your lordship will show the situation of this settlement and the little difficultys we have met with, which time, an additional force, and proper people for cultivating the land will remove; and your lordship may be assured that, anxious to render a very essential service to my country by the establishment of a colony, which from its situation must hereafter be a valuable acquisition to Great Britain, no perseverance will be wanting on my part, and which consideration alone could make amends for the being surrounded by the most infamous of mankind.

It is to your lordship and to Nepean only that I make a declaration of this kind. Time will remove all difficulties, and with a few families who have been used to the cultivation of lands this country will wear a more pleasing aspect, and those who are to come out, knowing what the country really is, will be less disappointed. As to myself, I am satisfied to remain as long as my services are wanted. I am serving my country, and serving the cause of humanity.

I flatter myself that by the return of the ships that brought [? brings] us out provisions, and on which is placed our sole dependence, I shall be able to give your lordship a more satisfactory account of this country.

Lieutenant Philip Gidley King, the second lieutenant of the Sirius, who is at Norfolk Island, is a very steady, good officer, He, too, is cut off from all society, and is in a situation that will require patience and perseverance, both of which he possesses, with great merit in the service as an officer. As such I beg leave to recommend him to your lordship. The rank of master and commander he well earned in the late war, and I should be very happy if he now attained it thro' your lordship. {54}

The last note sent to Sydney informed him of certain presents shipped on board the Alexander for friends in England, including some birds from Lord Howe Island for Lady Chatham.

The kangurroo {55} for your lordship is the largest I have yet seen. As it stands, it measures five feet nine inches. This extraordinary animal makes the same use of its fore feet as a monkey does. Major Ross has one alive. It is young, very tame, and comes to you and embraces your hands with the fore feet. The female was killed, and the young one remained by the body.

The Sirius being under orders to sail for the Cape of Good Hope as soon as she could be got ready for sea, Phillip prepared a despatch for the Home Secretary on the 28th September, to be forwarded by Captain Hunter from the Cape. His original intention was to send the ship northward—to Savu or the Navigators' Islands—for live stock; but finding that there was no means at that time of keeping them alive in the colony—"many being under the necessity of frequently killing a part of what they have for want of food to support them"—he determined to send to the Cape for seed grain, flour, and other necessaries. The Sirius accordingly sailed on the 2nd October.

The most important intelligence which Phillip had to communicate on this occasion was the cheering prospects of the little settlement at Norfolk Island. The good news received from Lieutenant King, the energetic Commandant, had evidently put him in good spirits; and in that pleasant frame of mind he proceeded to describe the position of affairs on the island. Knowing that great hopes were entertained in England with respect to the probable supply of timber, canvas, and cordage for the use of the navy, he felt some satisfaction in stating that the pine-trees and the flax-plant were likely to answer all the expectations that had been formed of them. The celebrity which he fondly hoped would be acquired for those productions was never obtained; nor had he any conception at that time of the very different reputation which the island was destined to acquire.

Extracts from my letters by the ships which sailed in July accompany this letter; and I have now the honor of informing your lordship that the Supply sailed for Norfolk Island the 17th of July, and returning the 26th of August, brought me the following particulars from the Commandant of that island. He says that, immediately after being landed, they proceeded to clear ground sufficient for building huts for themselves and a store-house, the whole island not affording a single acre free from timber. They were landed on the south-west end of the island, a rough sketch of which I received from that officer, and have the honor of enclosing your lordship. The bay in which they landed is sheltered by a reef of coral rock, through which there is a passage for a boat, but which, with the tide of flood when the wind is westerly, makes the landing dangerous; and a midshipman who was ordered to lay within the reef in order to attend the boats coming on shore, imprudently letting the boat drive into the surf, was lost with four men. This was the second time the boat had been overset with that midshipman in her, and the first time one man was lost.

The want of a good landing-place and security for vessels in the winter is the only thing to be wished for, the island being in every other respect one of the finest in the world. The earth is very rich—mould to the depth of five and six feet wherever they have dug so deep—and all the grain and garden seeds which have been put into the ground growing in the most luxuriant manner. This island, from the great quantity of pumice-stone found there, must formerly have been a volcano, the mouth of which, it is probable, will be found on the top of a small mountain near the middle of the island, which he [lieutenant King] has named Mount Pitt. The island is exceedingly well watered, a strong stream, which rises at or near Mount Pitt, running through a very fine valley, sufficiently strong to turn a mill, though divided into several branches; and very fine springs of water are found in different parts of the island.

There are several small bays, and there are some hopes of finding a better landing-place; but the necessity of employing everyone in sheltering themselves and the provisions from the weather, the small number of people—only seventeen men and six women—and the whole island being covered with wood, which a sort of supple-jack interwoven with the trees renders almost impassable, have hitherto prevented its being examined. With this small number Mr. King has cleared sufficient ground to have vegetables of every kind in the greatest abundance, three acres in barley, part of which had been first sown with wheat, but none of which came up, the grain being injured by the weevil; and ground was ready to receive rice and Indian corn when the Supply was there. All his people were in good houses, and he says that he has no doubt but that within three years they shall be in such a situation as to support themselves, with the assistance of a small proportion of salt provisions; and that they will not stand in need of that after the fourth year. They have fish in great abundance, some turtle in the season, great number of pigeons, and have found the plantain growing wild.

The flax-plant (some roots of which I shall send by the Sirius to the Cape to be forwarded to England) is found very luxuriant all over the island, growing to the height of eight feet. Unfortunately, the person I sent who called himself a flax-dresser, cannot prepare it, as this plant requires a different treatment in the dressing to what the European flax-plant does. Your lordship, I presume, will order proper persons to be sent out, by which means that island will, in a very short time, be able to furnish a considerable quantity of flax. The pine-trees, in the opinion of the carpenter of the Supply, who is a good judge, are superior to any he has ever seen; and the island affords excellent timber for ship-building, as well as for masts and yards, with which I make no doubt but his Majesty's ships in the East Indies may be supplied, as likewise with pitch and tar, the only difficulty being the want of a good landing-place; and I have not the least doubt but that one will be found in the small bays; or if not, Mr. King proposes blowing up two or three small rocks which make the reef dangerous; but if disappointed in both, there will be no danger in the summer-time; and I am assured by the master of the Supply it will be safer for a ship to load with masts and spars at Norfolk Island than it is in Riga Bay, where so many ships load yearly.

The Supply has been twice to the island, but in this season we have blowing weather, and that has prevented our receiving any spars. The Golden Grove will sail the beginning of October, with one petty officer, a sergeant, corporal, and six marines, twenty men and ten women convicts, and eighteen months' provisions, for the island; and by that ship I expect spars, some of which shall be sent to the Commissioners of his Majesty's Navy that they may be properly examined, as I believe the wood is nearly as light as the best Norway masts, and grows to a most extraordinary size, some of the trees measuring from one hundred and sixty to one hundred and eighty feet, and rise eighty feet without a branch. The turpentine from them is very white, and in the opinion of those who have seen it, is of the purest kind. The fern-tree is likewise found of a good height, measuring from seventy to eighty feet, and affords good food for the hogs, sheep, and goats, all of which thrive; and I shall send them what live stock we now have remaining of what was purchased on account of Government. No quadrupeds have been seen, except rats, which at present overrun the island, but which the cats and terrier dogs intended to be sent will, I hope, soon destroy. Until that is done, their crops must suffer very considerably. There are likewise great plenty of cabbage-trees, but not a single blade of grass has been seen on the island, the pigeons, sheep, and goats eating the leaves of the shrubs and of particular trees, with which they grow very fat. Two canoes were found on the rocks, probably driven from New Zealand.

They had not such heavy storms of thunder as we have experienced, and the people have been very healthy.

I think this island will answer the most sanguine expectations, and am satisfied that the officer who commands there will, in a very few years, not only put that island in a situation to support itself, but to assist this colony.

All that was known about Norfolk Island in England having been derived from the account of it in Cook's Voyage towards the South Pole, it was no doubt pleasing news for the Home Secretary to learn that any sanguine expectations could be formed of it, seeing that Cook's description of its resources was not by any means enthusiastic. He stayed there only during the day on which he discovered it—the 10th October, 1774; and his remarks about the flax-plant and the pine-trees contain no suggestions as to their probable value for naval purposes. That idea seems to have owed its origin to his description of the plant and the trees in New Zealand. At Norfolk Island, he said—

We observed many trees and plants common at New Zealand; and in particular the flax-plant, which is rather more luxuriant here than in any part of that country; but the chief produce is a sort of spruce pine, which grows in great abundance and to a large size, many of the trees being as thick, breast high, as two men could fathom, and exceedingly straight and tall. This pine is of a sort between that which grows in New Zealand, and that in New Caledonia; the foliage differing something from both; and the wood not so heavy as the former, nor so light and close grained as the latter. {56}

It will be seen, on reference to Matra's and Sir George Young's proposals for the colonisation of New South Wales, that English manufacturers had expressed their opinions strongly in favour of the New Zealand flax as material for navy cordage, canvas, and other purposes; and one of the arguments urged in support of the proposals was that the plant might be cultivated, and that the New Zealand timber might be obtained for masts and ship-building. These points were also dwelt upon in the Heads of a Plan. But nothing was said in those documents about the native flax and timber of Norfolk Island. From Sir George Young's petition for a grant of that island, it might be inferred that the idea of occupying it with a view to those particular industries originated with him—in other words, that he had suggested the matter to the Government. It deserves to be noted that, notwithstanding the importance attached to the products in question, no proposal was made for the colonisation of New Zealand, although Captain Cook had pointed out its advantages for the purpose. {57}

As soon as the rains permitted the getting the provisions on shore from the two remaining store-ships they were cleared, except of the spirits, which are on board of one of them, and which will be landed the end of this month. It was my intention to send the two store-ships away together, and expected they would be ready to sail the first week in October; and the Sirius was ordered to be ready to sail about the same time to the northward, in order to procure live stock; but it was now found that very little of the English wheat had vegetated, and a very considerable quantity of barley and many seeds had rotted in the ground, having been heated in the passage, and some much injured by the weevil; all the barley and wheat, likewise, which had been put on board the Supply at the Cape, were destroyed by the weevil The ground was therefore necessarily sown a second time with the seed which I had saved for the next year, in case the crops in the ground met with any accident The wheat sent to Norfolk Island had likewise failed, and there did not remain seed to sow one acre. I could not be certain that the ships which are expected would bring any quantity of grain, or if put on board them, that they would preserve it good by a proper attention to the stowage, to the want of which I impute our present loss.

The colony not being in a state to support any considerable quantity of live stock, many being under the necessity at present of frequently killing a part of what they have for want of food to support them, I should be obliged to kill what the Sirius might procure, and which could not be expected to exceed ten or fourteen days' provision for the settlement. And we now have not more than a year's bread in store, having been obliged to furnish the Sirius and the Supply with provisions. On these considerations, but more immediately from the fear of not having grain to put into the ground next year, when we shall have a more considerable quantity of ground to sow, I have thought it necessary to order the Sirius to go to the Cape of Good Hope in order to procure grain, and at the same time what quantity of flour and provisions she can receive.

Captain Hunter is likewise ordered to purchase what necessaries the surgeon of the hospital demands for six months, no necessaries of any kind, according to his letter which is enclosed, having been sent out. Fifteen pipes of wine were purchased at Rio de Janeiro, which were all that could be procured, and I presume, as thirty pipes were ordered, the remainder will be sent out by any ship that may stop at Teneriffe. I have only ordered a sufficient quantity of necessaries to be purchased for that time, as a demand has been made in my first letter to your lordship. The cellar for a receiving the spirits will be finished, and the Fishburn store-ship cleared and ready to sail, by the time the Golden Grove returns from Norfolk Island, when both ships shall be immediately ordered to England.

Your lordship will see by the returns the state of the garrison and the provisions remaining in store. What the Sirius will bring will be mostly flour, and that she may take on board as large a quantity as possible, I have ordered some of her guns to be landed. I presume that your lordship will see the necessity of this colony having always a certain quantity of provisions in store.

As soon as the Sirius sails, I intend going up the harbour to the ground pointed out in my former letters as more easily cultivated than the lands round us, with a small detachment, consisting of two lieutenants, one captain, and twenty-five non-commissioned officers and privates, and forty or fifty convicts, who will be employed in cultivating the ground. I purpose remaining with this party until they are settled, and have no doubt, when settlers come out and proper people to superintend the convicts that will be employed for the Crown, but that two or three years will give this country a very different aspect, and in the meantime the clearing the ground near the settlement shall not be neglected.

The hutting the detachment has been going on under the direction of the Major-Commandant. The officers have all separate houses, and, except one or two, are now under cover. The barracks are still in hand. There being some carpenters and sawyers in the different companies, I ordered them to be employed as such; and it being customary to pay the soldiers when so employed, and Major Ross thinking they could not otherwise be set to work as artificers, I have enclosed this report of such as have been employed for your lordship's approbation.

I have likewise the honor of enclosing your lordship his returns of such officers as wish to be relieved at the expiration of the three years for which they were sent out, and of those who are desirous of remaining; as likewise copies of his letter and my answer, respecting the encouragement offered by Government to settlers.

The list of officers and men who wished to be relieved at the expiration of their term of three years shows that out of the total number of one hundred and sixty privates there was only one man who desired to remain as a settler; and only two officers—Tench and Dawes—with one private, who would remain as soldiers for another term of three years. {58} Three officers, of whom one was Lieutenant George Johnston, were unable to make up their minds on the matter; one serjeant and one private were willing to stay as soldiers. Altogether, there were only nine men in the detachment who had any thought of remaining in the colony even for a few years. The rest, with Major Ross at their head, were unanimous in their desire to leave. Evidently, therefore, they had seen very little in the country to attract them, or to create any desire to make their homes in it. But at this time nothing had been officially settled with respect to "the encouragement offered by Government to settlers"; nor was the matter settled until the special Instructions on the subject, signed at Whitehall on the 24th August, 1789, reached the colony. In the absence of this information, there was no inducement to the soldiers to offer themselves as settlers; a fact which may possibly account for the state of the return sent in by Major Ross. {59}

The barracks, officers' houses, hospital, store-houses for the use of the detachment and for the public stores, are buildings that will stand for some years, as they will hereafter be walled up with brick or stone, if limestone can be found in the country, or if sent out as ballast in the transports.

The detachment is now enclosing ground for their gardens, and we have about six acres of wheat, eight of barley, and six acres of other grain, all which, as well as such garden seeds as were not spoiled, promised well; and though the soil is in general a light sandy soil, it is, I believe, as good as what is commonly found near the sea-coast in other parts of the world. The great inconvenience we find is from the rocks and the labour of clearing away the woods which surround us, and which are mostly gum-trees of a very large size, and which are only useful as firewood, though I think that when we can cut them down in the winter and give them time to season, they may be made useful in building. {60}

The fish begin to return with the warm weather, but I fear we shall never be able to save any part of the provisions by the quantity that will be taken.

The rainy season is, I hope, nearly over, and though we have had very heavy rains they have not been more frequent than was expected, and were chiefly confined to a few days near the full and change of the moon.

The climate is equal to the finest in Europe, and we very seldom have any fogs. All the plants and fruit-trees brought from the Brazil and the Cape that did not die on the passage thrive exceedingly well; and we do not want vegetables, good in their kind, which are natural to the country. {61}

With respect to the sending to the islands for women, your lordship will, I believe, think that in the present situation of this colony it would be only bringing them to pine away a few years in misery; and I am very sorry to say that those we have are most of them very abandoned wretches; still, more women will be necessary when more convicts are sent out.

Stone houses that will not be in danger from fire will, if possible, be erected in the course of the summer, as likewise a place of worship; and if ships coming out bring limestone as ballast these very necessary works will go on fast. At present we are obliged to lay the bricks and stones in clay, and of course to make the walls of an extraordinary thickness; and even then they are not to be depended on.

The building of a place of worship during the summer months was one of the many improvements which Phillip had designed in connection with the foundation of a town; but it was never carried out, owing—as Collins says—to "the pressure of other works". {62} It was not until July, 1793, that the building of a place of worship was begun, and then it was at the expense of the chaplain, the Rev. Richard Johnson. Although his Majesty had instructed Phillip, by all proper methods, to enforce a due observance of religion and good order among the inhabitants of the new settlement, and to take such steps for the due celebration of public worship as circumstances would permit, {63} nothing was done for the purpose of enabling him to carry out this instruction beyond the appointment of a chaplain. It was quite consistent with the character of the age that the interests of religion were considered to be duly provided for, when a chaplain had been appointed at ten shillings a day and his rations. No provision was made for the necessary expenses connected with religious services; still less for the erection of a proper building.

This country is supposed to have mines of iron and tin, or silver, by those who have been used to work in mines; but I give no encouragement to search after what, if found in our present situation, would be the greatest evil that could befall the settlement.

A convict used to work in the Staffordshire lead mines says the ground we are now clearing contains a large quantity of that metal; and copper is supposed to lie under some rocks which have been blown in sinking a cellar for the spirits. I have no doubt but that the earth contains iron and other metals, and that mines may hereafter be worked to great advantage. The red used by the painters, and which they call Spanish brown, is found in great abundance; and the white clay with which the natives paint themselves is still in greater plenty, and which the Abbé that came out with Monsieur la Pérouse as a naturalist told me, if cleared of the sand (which may be done with little trouble), would make good china. Specimens were sent to Sir Joseph Banks, and a stone taken out of a slate quarry that I thought contained some metal. {64}

Tench mentions that "previous to leaving England, I remember to have frequently heard it asserted that "the discovery of mines was one of the secondary objects of the Expedition." {65} There was no foundation for that assertion; and it probably owed its origin to nothing more than the vague association of ideas which for centuries past had connected colonising enterprises with mining experiments. The existence of metals and minerals in New South Wales was assumed simply because the territory was known to be extensive and fertile; but no indications of any such deposits had ever been found on its coasts. "The great probability of finding, in such an immense country, metals of every kind", was urged by Sir George Young as a reason for its colonisation. But as neither a geologist nor a mineralogist was appointed when the Expedition was organised, it may be inferred that Lord Sydney did not attach any value to the probability of such discoveries being made. That the idea of finding valuable ores of some kind was prevalent in the settlement may be seen in Phillip's reference to the subject. Rumors were circulated from time to time about mysterious mines which were said to exist in its neighborhood; but he wisely set his face against any attempt to divert the people from their proper occupations—public works and the cultivation of the soil. At the same time he did not neglect any opportunity for, ascertaining the riches of the earth. The attention paid to the subject is shown in Tench's statement with reference to the exploring expeditions to Broken Bay and elsewhere. "On all these excursions we brought away, in small bags, as many specimens of the soil of the country we had passed through as could be conveniently carried; in order that, by analysis, its qualities might be ascertained." {66} No signs of gold were found on those occasions.

Your lordship will, I hope, judge it expedient to send out settlers to whom a certain number of convicts may be given. They, my lord, will be interested in cultivating the lands, and when a few carpenters and bricklayers are sent out who will act as overseers, and have some little interest in the labour of the convicts who are under their care, a great deal of labour will be done by those who are employed in the public works.

I have in a former letter mentioned that a couple of decked vessels of thirty or forty tons burthen, if sent out in frames, and two or three good shipwrights, would be of great service. {67}

The natives, though very friendly whenever they are met by two or three people who are armed, still continue to attack any of the convicts when they meet them in the woods, and two or three have been lately wounded by them. I have been with a small party to examine the land between the harbour and Broken Bay. We went as far as Pittwater, and saw several of the natives, but none came near us. There are several hundred acres of land free from timber, and very proper for cultivation when a small settlement can be made on the coast. On our return to the boats, near the mouth of the harbour, we found about sixty of the natives, men, women, and children, with whom we stayed some hours. They were friendly, but, as I have ever found them, since they find we intend to remain, they appeared best pleased when we were leaving them, though I gave them many useful articles; and it is not possible to say whether it was from fear or contempt that they do not come amongst us. I have already had the honor of informing your lordship of the little we know of these people. Most of the women and all the females I saw had lost two joints from the little finger of the left hand, and two women were scarred on the shoulders like the men—the first I had seen. The women, when we first came on the beach, were in their canoes fishing, which is their constant employment, the men chiefly employing themselves in making canoes, spears, fizgigs, &c.

The day before we returned, the boat that was waiting for us near the harbour's mouth saw about two hundred men, who were assembled in two parties, and who after some time drew up opposite to each other, and from each party men advanced singly and threw their spears, guarding themselves at the same time with their shields. I suppose this to have been no more than an exercise, for the women belonging to both parties remained together on the beach, though towards the end of the combat they are said to have run up and down, uttering violent shrieks.

As it had been supposed that many of the natives had left this part of the coast on account of the great scarcity of fish, the different parts of the harbour were examined in one day, and the canoes counted; not more than sixty-seven canoes and one hundred and thirty-three people were seen, but it was the season in which they make their new canoes, and large parties were known to be in the woods for that purpose. {68} I went a few days after to examine the coast between this harbour and Botany Bay, in which journey few of the natives were seen; but a young whale being driven on the coast, all we met had large pieces, which appeared to have been lain on the fire until the outside was scorched, in which state they eat it. These people last summer would neither eat shark nor stingaray; but the scarcity of fish in the winter, I believe, obliges them to eat anything that affords the smallest nourishment. They have two kinds of root which they chew after roasting; one is the fern root. They eat together, that is, in families, and seldom broil their fish (the only way they ever dress it) for more than a few minutes.

I am sorry to have been so long without knowing more of these people, but I am unwilling to use any force, and hope this summer to persuade a family to live with us, unless they attempt to burn our crops, of which I am apprehensive, for they certainly are not pleased with our remaining amongst them, as they see we deprive them of fish, which is almost their only support; but if they set fire to the corn, necessity will oblige me to drive them to greater distance, though I can assure your lordship that I shall never do it but with the greatest reluctance and from absolute necessity.

As there are paths which are much frequented between this harbour and Broken Bay, I apprehend they frequently change their situation, but have no reason to suppose they go to the northward in the winter and return in the summer.

The kangaroo is the only animal of any size that we have yet seen, and they are frequently killed. They are of two sorts, one seldom weighing more than sixty pounds; these live chiefly on the high grounds. The hair is of a reddish cast, and the head shorter than the large sort, some of which have been killed that weighed one hundred and fifty pounds. Both are of the opossum kind, and the young ones, several of which have been taken, grow very tame in a few days, but none have ever lived more than two or three weeks.

I have now given up all hopes of recovering the two bulls and four cows that were lost; and one sheep only remains of upwards of seventy which I had purchased at the Cape on my own account and on Government's account. It is the rank grass under the trees which has destroyed them, for those who have only had one or two sheep, which have fed about their tents, have preserved them.

Hogs and poultry thrive and increase fast. Black cattle will thrive full as well: and as we shall be able in future to guard against their straying, your lordship will please to determine whether it would not be necessary to order any ship that was coming to the settlement with provisions, to purchase at the Cape as many cows as could be conveniently received on board, with a couple of young bulls. But the ship for that purpose should be able to stow them between decks: and I beg leave to observe that a forty or fifty gun ship that brought out provisions and stores, leaving her guns out, would answer the purpose better than any transport, and at once stock this settlement. Savu is at too great a distance for the Sirius to be employed on that service to any extent. {69}

Your lordship will, I hope, excuse so long a detail of matters trifling in themselves, and which I should not have dwelt on but that I wished the situation of the colony to be known as fully as possible.

A letter to Nepean, of the same date, was written to accompany this despatch, for the purpose of reminding him of the pressing wants of the settlement. The people at this time had neither needles nor thread, and consequently could not mend their clothes; no leather, nails, or cobblers'-wax to keep their shoes together; no bedding to lie upon, for sheets and blankets had not been thought of. Phillip ventured to suggest, probably because they were still suffering from scurvy and other kinds of sickness, that "some kind of bedding" was necessary for them, as well as "some kind of covering" for the children. They, it seems, had been kept on very short commons from the first, since the good-hearted Governor had been obliged, "in several instances", to order them half the man's allowance, or even two-thirds—that being the woman's share. The ordinary ration for a child was one-third of a man's; and as at this time they were all fed on salt provisions— there being no such luxuries as barley, sago, oatmeal, or any other children's food in the stores, except rice—the little folks had uncommonly hard times of it. The stock of cows having been lost early in June, there was no milk and no fresh butter in the settlement; the salt butter had disappeared, and was replaced by "the like quantity of sugar", as Collins says (p. 81)—that is, six ounces per week. Although the people were on full rations at this time, there was nothing to eat but salt beef, salt pork, flour, rice, and pease—with such vegetables as could be grown about the huts, or gathered wild in the bush. Fish was occasionally procured in the summer, and sometimes a bird or even a kangaroo might be shot by those who had guns. For bread, there was flour made into cakes, without milk or eggs. At a later period, when vegetables were easily got, it was usual to boil the flour with greens, instead of baking it into cakes. {70} The daily meals did not include tea; there was nothing to drink but water and the bad Portuguese rum taken on board at Rio for the soldiers and their wives. How niggardly the allowance was may be seen by comparing it with the scale on which convict servants were fed in later years, when they had bread, tea, sugar, and tobacco, {71} in addition to their meat.

I have ordered the Sirius to the Cape for the reasons assigned in my letter to Lord Sydney; all the seed wheat and most of the other seeds brought from England having been spoiled, as well as what wheat was put on board the Supply at the Cape. Several acres sown with this wheat have been sown a second time with the seed I procured for next year, in case of any accident happening to what we have in the ground, and which has left us without a bushel of seed in the settlement. Having only a year's flour in store, Captain Hunter has orders to purchase as much as the ship can stow, and I apprehend he will be able to bring six months' supply for the settlement, as likewise what seed wheat, &c., we may want. The Sirius and Supply being victualled from the stores lessens our provisions; and you will, I believe, see the necessity of having always two years' provisions beforehand; a store-ship may be lost a long time before it is known here or in England.

No kind of necessaries for the sick after landing was sent out. I enclose the surgeon's letter, and what he has demanded for six months I have ordered to be purchased, and apprehend necessaries for the hospital will be sent out by the first ships. The cloathes for the convicts are in general bad, and there is no possibility of mending them for want of thread; it is the same with the shoes, which do not last a month; these necessary articles, to the amount of a few pounds, I have likewise ordered to be purchased.

A strong launch to remove provisions will soon be necessary, as some convicts are going to cultivate land near the head of the harbour, and to bring timber, for what we now use is brought already from a considerable distance, and our roads after heavy rains are bad.

The tools and articles in the enclosed list will be much wanted by the time they can be sent out, and I cannot help repeating that most of the tools were as bad as ever were sent out for barter on the coast of Guinea.

The women have two-thirds of what is allowed the men, and the children one-third. The children's allowance is, I think, too little, and I have been obliged in several instances to order children half the man's allowance, or two-thirds, as the women are allowed.

The wooden ware sent out were too small; they are called bowls and platters, but are not larger than pint basins; there was not one that would hold a quart.

As the candles sent out will not last more than two years, I wish to know if it is the intention of Government to furnish the settlement with that article for any longer term.

The requisites for mending the men and women's cloathes and shoes, as well as some kind of bedding for them, are very necessary; and some kind of covering will be wanted for the children. This is not an expense that will be necessary to continue after a number of settlers are in the colony, for then the convicts will have some resources; at present they have none.

Amongst our many wants a few proper people to superintend the convicts has been mentioned, and we are at present at a great loss for the necessary people to attend the stores and see the provisions issued. The convicts who are proper for this are those who have had some little education, and they are the greatest villains we have. In fact, here is no choice of persons of any class, and I am obliged to continue such as we have in places for which they prove themselves very unfit subjects.

The knowing when the time expires for which the convicts have been transported is very necessary, many of whom will desire to return; and there are many that will be a burthen to Government, and who I should be glad to send away. This I mentioned more particularly in a former letter.

The good behaviour and industry of two convicts have induced me to request that their families be sent to them. The men are at Norfolk Island, and which they do not wish to leave after the time for which they have been transported expires. The names and places of abode of these two families are enclosed.

The Golden Grove is now ready to sail, with one midshipman, one sergeant, one corporal, and five privates, twenty men and ten women convicts; these will make the number on Norfolk Island sixty, and I send eighteen months' provisions. The Fishburn will be ready to sail by the time the Golden Grove returns, and both ships shall sail immediately for England.

Major Ross and his officers do not appear to have formed a happy family by any means. He had placed five of them under arrest in March, and in October he applied for a General Court-martial to try another. On the first occasion it was found that there was not a sufficient number of officers to form a Court; and on the second a still more unexpected difficulty presented itself. The Judge-Advocate raised an objection that officers of marines, while on shore, could not form a Court-martial under a warrant issued by the Governor, the force being then subject to the provisions of an Act of Parliament passed expressly for their regulation; and that they could only sit under a warrant from the Lords of the Admiralty. As this amounted to saying that no Court for the trial of commissioned officers could be held in the colony, the matter was serious. Phillip directed a Court of Enquiry to take evidence, but its members held that they were precluded from doing so by the issue of his warrant. The only expedient left was to direct the Judge-Advocate to take evidence, and to send the depositions, with the officer, to England; but at the last moment the knot was cut by a letter from Major Ross, stating that the officer in question had "fully satisfied" him, and therefore he did not desire to press his application for a Court-martial. This matter formed the subject of a despatch in which the position of affairs was described with great moderation.

I am very sorry to be under the very disagreeable necessity of troubling your lordship with the following particulars, but the very unpleasant situation of the detachment doing duty in this country, from the discontents between the Commandant and the officers, will, I presume, satisfy your lordship of that necessity, as I am sorry to say it is not in my power to restore that harmony which is so very requisite in our situation.

Having received a letter from Major Ross requesting a General Court-martial on an officer for neglect of duty, contempt and disrespect to him, I issued a warrant for assembling a General Court-martial, but the thirteen senior officers when assembled declared that they could not sit as members of a General Court-martial under that warrant, being, as part of his Majesty's forces, amenable only to the authority of the Commissioners for executing the office of Lord High Admiral of Great Britain. The warrant was issued under the authority of his Majesty's Commission for assembling General Courts-martial, but they declined sitting under the Act of Parliament made for the army.

Having assigned their reasons in writing to Major Ross (to whom the warrant was directed), I have the honor to enclose your lordship a copy. Though the letter from the Commanding Officer of the detachment was very sufficient ground for ordering the Court-martial if the officer could have been tried on the spot, as it was now determined that there was no legal authority in this country for ordering a General Court-martial on any part of the Marine Corps, and the officer accused declared himself innocent of of every part of the charge, I ordered a Court of Enquiry to be assembled to enquire into the particulars of the charge, and to report whether there was or was not sufficient ground for a General Court-martial, intending, if the Court of Enquiry reported that they found sufficient ground, to order a Court of Enquiry to examine fully into the charge and to report their opinion, which was the only means I had left of doing justice to both parties, as no Court-martial could be held; for though I knew that Courts of Enquiry always preceded Courts-martial, yet in the present instance I was fully satisfied that the warrant I had issued for holding the Court-martial was totally done away by the officers having denied the legality of it as far as it respected themselves, and consequently a Court of Enquiry perfectly regular; and I had reason to suppose that both parties would have consented to such a determination, no other being possible under our present circumstances.

The Court of Enquiry met, and I received the following answer, signed by the President:—That had the business been referred to them before the application for a Court-martial they might then have proceeded with the consent of both parties, but that at present they thought themselves precluded from making any enquiry, and only reported that an application from a commanding officer was always deemed a sufficient ground for a General Court-martial, not deeming the warrant legal with respect to themselves as being marine officers, and they now refused to make any enquiry because that warrant had been issued.

To order an officer to return to his duty under the same commanding officer whom he was accused of treating with contempt or disrespect, or to let him remain under arrest until he could be tried in this country, might be attended with very disagreeable circumstances; for of seventeen officers comprising the detachment five have been put under arrest by their commandant, and are only returned to duty by my order until a sufficient number of officers to form a General Court-martial can be assembled, as I have in a former letter had the honor of informing your lordship.

I therefore ordered the evidence on both sides to be taken by the Judge-Advocate, and intended to send them home with the officer, but before that could be done I received a letter from Major Ross informing me that the officer had fully satisfied him respecting the charge, and desiring that he might be permitted to withdraw his request for a Court-martial. I therefore ordered the officer to return to his duty. {72}

When the warrant was granted for assembling a General Court-martial, I did not know that an Act of Parliament had been passed for a limited time by which the marines serving in America had been tried; nor did any officer in the detachment entertain a doubt of the propriety of sitting under a warrant issued by the authority of his Majesty's Commission until the evening before the Court was to assemble, when the doubt arose on the Judge-Advocate's reading over the oath.

The present situation of the detachment will be obvious to your lordship.

The Judge-Advocate seems to have gone a little out of his way on this occasion, in anticipating a technical objection which might have been left to the parties concerned—especially as the point was doubtful, to say the least, and the result threatened to be serious. If no General Court-martial could be held under the Governor's warrant, then there was no power to deal with serious offences against military discipline; officers and men might have run riot as much as they pleased, and the Governor would have found himself powerless to deal with the situation. It was the Judge-Advocate's duty, no doubt, to advise the Court on all matters of law arising before it; but a question of jurisdiction, such as was raised by him in this instance, does not appear to have been properly within his province, or that of the Court itself, to determine. The simplest course to have pursued would have been to proceed with the trial, and then refer the question to the proper authorities in England. By that means military discipline would have been saved, without any sacrifice of the rights of parties. But the subalterns who mainly composed the Court may possibly have rejoiced in the opportunity of extinguishing, by a summary decision, the only tribunal in the colony to which they were amenable; as by that means they effectually put it out of the Major's power to put them under arrest, or even to hold a Court-martial in terrorem over them. {73}

Another despatch to Sydney, written on the 30th October, was occupied principally with a recapitulation of matters so dealt with on former occasions. The only event of any importance which he had to communicate was the departure of the Sirius on her voyage to the Cape.

By his Majesty's ship Sirius I had the honor of informing your lordship of my reasons for sending that ship to the Cape of Good Hope: The loss of all the seed-wheat and the greatest part of the other grains and seeds brought from England, which had been heated in the long passage, and very little of which, when sown, ever vegetated. All the seed-wheat put on board the Supply at the Cape of Good Hope had likewise been destroyed by the weevil; and after sowing the ground a second time with what seed had been brought from Rio de Janeiro and the Cape of Good Hope, there did not remain sufficient to sow a single acre; and the crops in the ground are exposed to various accidents in our present situation.

The Sirius sailed the 2nd instant to go round the South Cape, and Captain Hunter has directions to purchase for the use of the garrison what flour the ship can receive, after having compleated his own provisions. The quantity will not be very considerable—at present we have eighteen months' bread in store. Necessaries for the hospital were likewise ordered to be purchased, none of any kind being sent out either for the detachment or convicts.

Your lordship will see by my former letters the little progress we have been able to make in cultivating the lands, and, I presume, the necessity of a few proper persons being sent out to superintend the convicts, as well as settlers who have been used to cultivation, for at present this settlement only affords one person {74} that I can employ in cultivating the lands on the public account. Most of the officers have cultivated a little ground, but it is merely for their own conveniency, and none more than a single acre except the Lieutenant-Governor, who has about three acres. I have sixteen, at a small farm on the public account.

It must, my lord, be settlers, with the assistance of the convicts, that will put this country in a situation for supporting its inhabitants. Nothing but the uncertainty of the time in which my letters may reach England, and the possibility of those last written being the first received, would make me trouble your lordship in this letter with a repetition of what I have fully explained in my former letters: That people who are not convicts are necessary for the stores, from which provisions or stores are delivering almost hourly; and that we want for superintending the convicts such as have been brought up in the line in which they are to be employed.

If the ships that bring out provisions were such as could receive on board black cattle at the Cape of Good Hope, I think we shall in future be able to preserve them; and a ship to remain here as a store-ship would be attended with many advantages. It is still a doubt whether the cattle we lost have been killed by the natives, or if they have strayed into the country; I fear the former, and am sorry to say that the natives now attack any straggler they meet unarmed; and though the strictest orders have been given to keep the convicts within bounds, neither the fear of death or punishment prevents their going out in the night, and one has been killed since the Sirius sailed. The natives, who appear strictly honest amongst themselves, leave their fizgigs, spears, &c., on the beach or in their huts when they go a-fishing. These articles have been taken from them by the convicts, and the people belonging to the transports buy them at the risk of being prosecuted as receivers of stolen goods, if discovered. The natives, as I have observed, revenge themselves on any they meet unarmed. It is not possible to punish them without punishing the innocent with the guilty, and our own people have been the aggressors.

The natives still refuse to come amongst us, and those who are supposed to have murdered several of the convicts have removed from Botany Bay, where they have always been more troublesome than in any other part. I now doubt whether it will be possible to get any of these people to remain with us, in order to get their language, without using force. They see no advantage that can arise from us that may make amends for the loss of that part of the harbour in which we occasionally employ the boats in fishing.

If my former letters have reached your lordship the situation of this settlement is known; and as most of the officers have declined any kind of interference with the convicts, except when immediately employed by themselves, the little progress made in clearing land that requires so much labour will be accounted for. A letter sent from the Admiralty to the Commanding Officers of Marines at Portsmouth and Plymouth is what the officers say they govern themselves by, and in which they say no extra duty is pointed out. What I asked of officers were so very little, and so far from being what would degrade either the officer or the gentleman in our situation, that I beg leave to repeat once more to your lordship the request I made soon after we landed, and which was made in the following words:—"That officers would, when they saw the convicts diligent, say a few words of encouragement to them; and that when they saw them idle, or met them straggling in the woods, they would threaten them with punishment." This I only desired when officers could do it without going out of their way; it was all I asked, and was pointedly refused. They declared against what they called an interference with convicts, and I found myself obliged to give up the little plan I had formed in the passage for the government of these people, and which, had even that been proposed to the officers, required no more from them than the hearing any appeal the overseer might find it necessary to make, and a report from the officer to me, or to the Judge-Advocate, if he thought it necessary, but which never has been asked of the officers, as they declined any kind of interference.

The Golden Grove store-ship sailed for Norfolk Island the 2nd of October with provisions and some stores, and carried a midshipman, two seamen, a sergeant, corporal, and five privates, with twenty-one men and eleven women convicts. Their numbers will be increased in the course of the summer. The Fishburn is now fitting for sea, that she may sail with the Golden Grove, as soon as that ship returns from Norfolk Island.

The same reason which makes me trouble your lordship with tedious extracts from my former letters makes it necessary to point out in this letter that we at present depend entirely for provisions being sent from England; and I beg leave to observe that if a ship should be lost in the passage it might be a very considerable time before it could be known in England. The Sirius, from the length of the voyage, would not be able to supply this settlement from the Cape; and though the islands may furnish refreshments in great abundance to one or two ships, if the Sirius was employed between the islands and this settlement the quantity procured would be but small for so great a number of people. But, my lord, I hope a very few years will put this country in a situation to support itself, for I have the pleasure of seeing what land has been cleared in a very flourishing state.

I am now preparing to go up the harbour with a small detachment of one captain, four lieutenants, and twenty privates, who are to protect some convicts intended to clear land near the head of the harbour, where it is a fine open country, having very little timber, and being perfectly free from underwood.

It was on the 2nd of November that Phillip went up the Parramatta River—"the head of the harbour", as he called it—for the purpose of forming an agricultural settlement on its banks. He selected a piece of rising ground, which, from its shape, suggested the idea of a Crescent, and was so named by him, as a site for his residence; and there he built a cottage which, in after years, gave way to a substantial country house, intended as a residence for the Governor. {75} The settlement was named Rose Hill, and soon began to realise the expectations which its founder had formed of it; so much so indeed that it gradually came to be regarded as the most important place in the colony. Three years after its formation, it had reduced Sydney to the position of a mere official centre. Writing in December, 1791, Tench said that Sydney "had long been considered as only a depôt for stores; it exhibited nothing but a few old scattered huts and some sterile gardens; cultivation of the ground was abandoned, and all our strength transferred to Rose Hill. {76}

The Fishburn and the Golden Grove—the last remaining vessels of the Fleet—were now ready for sea; and as they furnished the only opportunity for sending letters to England which would be available for many months, Phillip gathered together the few remaining items of intelligence which he had to communicate to Sydney. The only news he had to send related to the return of the Golden Grove from Norfolk Island with letters from the Commandant, and the formation of the settlement at Rose Hill.

Since I closed my letter of the 30th of October to your lordship the Golden Grove has arrived from Norfolk Island, where the people and provisions were landed, and from whence I have received the most favourable accounts. They have vegetables in great abundance, as well as fish. The grain that had been sowed after the first had failed (from having been heated in the passage or injured by the weevil) promises a great increase. The soil is extremely rich, and to the depth of many feet wherever they have dug; the people very healthy and perfectly satisfied under an officer who will in less than two years render that island independent of this colony for the necessaries of life, if we can procure black cattle to send him. He will have an additional number of people in the course of the summer. A few honest industrious families would there find themselves happy, in a good climate as healthy as this settlement (and no place can be healthier), with a rich land easy of cultivation, and where the storms of thunder and heavy rains have not been felt The flax plant will supply the settlers on that island with rope and canvas, as well as a considerable part of their cloathing, when they can dress it properly; but a person experienced in dressing flax is much wanted, as well as a few good husbandmen, for those we have been able to send there are not only in general idle and abandoned, but ignorant.

A cocoanut that was as good as if just taken from the tree, and a small piece of wood, said to resemble the handle of a fly-flap as made in the Friendly Islands, and which did not appear to have been long in the water, have suggested an idea that some island which is inhabited lays at no great distance, but which my present situation does not permit me to determine. The remains of two or three canoes have been found on the rocks.

The Golden Grove in her passage from Norfolk Island saw a very dangerous reef, the south end of which lay in the latitude of 29° 25' south, longitude 159° 59' east. It appeared from the N.E. by N. to N. when they were four leagues from it, but no judgement can be formed how far it extends to the northward. {77}

I had the honor of informing your lordship of my intentions of fixing a settlement near the head of the harbour; and I have lately passed several days in examining the country. The land is good, though there is none we can take possession of at present which can be cultivated without clearing the ground of the timber, for if the trees are at the distance of thirty or even fifty feet the roots spread; the labour there, nevertheless, will not exceed the fourth part of what is required in our present situation. The land appears to be the best I have seen in this country, and as far as I could examine, which was for a couple of miles round the spot on which I have fixed, I think the country as fine as any I have seen in England. I had an officer and ten men with me, which I left to finish a small redoubt; and in a few days the remainder of the detachment will be sent up with some convicts.

A soldier has been lately missing, who I suppose lost his way in the woods, and has either been killed by the natives or died by a fit, to which he was subject.

Except the old and those who brought inculpable complaints with them, the people are very healthy; the weather is now settled, and the two store-ships are ready to sail, and intend going round the South Cape.

A small quantity of flax, as I received it from Norfolk Island, is enclosed with the despatches. A plant that produces pepper (supposed to be the same as the East India pepper) is found in great plenty in Norfolk Island. Several roots of this plant and some of the pepper are sent to Sir Joseph Banks, who I have requested to inform your lordship or Mr. Nepean if it proves to be, as supposed, the black pepper used in England.

In sinking a well the sand was supposed to contain a very large proportion of metal, a small quantity of which is sent by the two ships. It has been twenty-four hours in a strong fire, but we could not get it to melt. I suppose it to be blacklead. {78}

This letter closed Phillip's official correspondence for the year. When the ships that carried his despatches had cleared the Heads, there was nothing left in the harbour to remind him of the Fleet he had brought out, except the little brig Supply; nor did any ship from the old country enter the port until the Lady Juliana arrived in June, 1790. The interval was a weary one for men whose associations were wholly with the country they had left behind them, and who had not yet learned to look upon a home in the new world as a compensation for their loss. But, nevertheless, as the year drew to its close, there was more than one event on which Phillip could look back with satisfaction. He had brought out the Fleet in safety and with more success than could have been expected; he had founded his colony on the shores of the finest harbour in the world; he had established peaceful relations with the native inhabitants of the country, even if he had not reconciled them to the prospect of being dispossessed of their hunting-grounds. The most serious difficulty he had to contend with was the want of good land for farming purposes; but that difficulty had at last been disposed of by the settlements at Rose Hill and Norfolk Island.

The scarcity of such land in the immediate neighbourhood of the Camp seemed at first a heavy drawback, if not a great calamity; but probably time and experience led him to see the great moral advantages which indirectly resulted from it. When the settlements at those places had been formed, they enabled him to draft off large numbers of the people who otherwise would have been massed together at head-quarters; by that means preventing the evils which would inevitably have resulted from an overcrowded Camp, in which sickness was always prevalent so long as the population was fed almost exclusively on salt provisions. The establishment at Norfolk Island was doubly useful; for not only did the land yield a rich return for the labour bestowed upon it, and thus support a comparatively large number of people, but it afforded Phillip a means of carrying out his favorite theory of punishment in serious cases—exile from the colony.

Looking at the rich and beautiful country on the western shores of Botany Bay, as it appears in the present day, it is not easy at first sight to understand the difficulty experienced by Phillip in finding a sufficient area of land, fit for cultivation, in the neighbourhood of the settlement. The country round about it had been carefully explored in all directions for that purpose, but it was condemned as useless, except in small patches here and there; the soil being everywhere described as either covered with rocks and trees, or else as a poor sandy heath, full of swamps. Until the land at the head of the Parramatta River was discovered, the prospect of obtaining any substantial assistance from the soil appeared to be uncertain in the extreme. The opinion thus formed with respect to the country can only be understood when we recollect the difficulty experienced in penetrating it where it happened to be covered with timber. The land at Rose Hill was discovered easily because there happened to be a ready means of communication by water, and the country in that direction was tolerably open. But there was even better land to be found at a much shorter distance from Sydney Cove, which, could it have been turned to account, would have removed all difficulty on the subject at once. Between Cook's River and the Cove—a distance of less than five miles in a straight line—there was land enough to supply the settlement with vegetables and fruit, if not grain, in abundance; while beyond the river, in the midst of a charming landscape, lay a fine agricultural district, in which many hundreds of settlers might have made their homes.

How then was it that, while so many efforts were made for the purpose of finding such land, the natural wealth of the soil in the immediate neighbourhood of the Cove remained unknown? Phillip went up Cook's River in December, and he could not but have noticed the level country on its banks, covered as it was with very different timber from the gum-trees at the Cove, and richly suggestive, even then, of the meadows he had read of in Cook's Voyage. The scene which presented itself to him as he followed the windings of the stream, might be compared with that which met the eyes of the Saxons when they first rowed their galleys up the Thames. The traveller who now-a-days crosses the river in a railway train looks out upon a country to which he might be excused for applying Darwin's lines—

Embellished villas crown the landscape scene,
Farms wave with gold and orchards blush between.

If the poet's description is not literally true in the present day, it is at least sufficiently so to justify the glowing language in which he sought to represent the future of Sydney Cove. When he wrote, the land lay there in its native state, waiting only to be cleared, drained, and cultivated in order to realise the golden farms and blushing orchards of his imagination. But there lay the difficulty. The labour of clearing the ground round the Camp had formed the subject of constant complaint during the first year of Phillip's administration; and while it formed so serious a stumbling block in his path, it is not surprising that no attempt was made to penetrate further inland for the purpose of clearing and cultivating the backwoods. The natural difficulties surrounding the cultivation of the soil in a new country were never, perhaps, encountered in such force as they were in his time, peculiarly aggravated as they were by the fact that his farm labourers were men who had never handled a spade or followed a plough's tail. {79}

To realise his position in this matter, it is only necessary to look for a moment at the people placed under his charge. If an expedition were fitted out in the present day for the occupation of unknown country, no man would be permitted to join it who was not in some way fitted for the work to be done. The men sent out in the First Fleet could hardly have been less adapted for the purpose than they were. Many were old and suffering from disease; and even among the able-bodied, there were none who had ever seen a pick-axe or a shovel, except in a shop window. They had been hurried out of their gaols without any other object in view than that of getting rid of the most useless occupants of the cells. Had Phillip taken the precaution to inquire into their capabilities for work before he sailed, he would at least have been prepared for the painful experience that awaited him when his struggle began. But it never occurred to him to make any inquiry on that point. He relied on the Government to provide him with the proper men for the service; and he remained in happy ignorance of the facts until they slowly made themselves known to him. It would not be easy to find a parallel in the history of colonisation for such a scene as that which presented itself when the marines and convicts were drawn up on their first parade. Not a man among them was in the least degree qualified to act the part of a colonist. The soldiers would do nothing but their military duty; the convicts would do nothing that they were not compelled to do. By what miracle, one is inclined to ask, did they escape starvation?


{1} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 64; Collins, p. 7.

{2} {return}

Post, p. 474. The original Commission is missing.

{3} {return}

Ib., pp. 531, 537. The original Letters Patent, engrossed on parchment rolls, are in the Record Office, Sydney.

{4} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 65.

{5} {return}

Surgeon White also reported the speech briefly:—"After this was done, the troops under arms fired three volleys; when his excellency thanked the soldiers for their steady and good conduct; which Major Ross caused to be inserted in the general order-book. The Governor then addressed the convicts in a short speech, extremely well adapted to the people he had to govern, and who were then before him. Among many circumstances that would tend to their future happiness and comfort, he recommended marriage; assuring them that an indiscriminate and illegal intercourse would be punished with the greatest severity and rigour. Honesty, obedience, and industry, he told them, would make their situation comfortable; whereas a contrary line of conduct would subject them to ignominy, severity, and punishment."—Journal, p. 124.

Tench condensed his account of it into a few lines:—"When the Judge-Advocate had finished reading, his excellency addressed himself to the convicts in a pointed and judicious speech, informing them of his future intentions, which were, invariably to cherish and render happy those who showed a disposition to amendment; and to let the rigour of the law take its course against such as might dare to transgress the bounds prescribed."—Narrative, p. 66.

The "Speech of Phillip" in Flanagan's History of New South Wales, pp. 30-34, is clearly fictitious. We have only to compare it with the reports written by the witnesses in whose hearing it was delivered, and who afterwards wrote their independent accounts of it in their journals, to see that the speech attributed to Phillip by Flanagan is an effort of the imagination. A similar production, attributed to Captain Cook, which appears in pp. 18-19 of the same work, is equally fictitious. Apart from other evidence on the point, the use of the word Australia in the Phillip speech is enough to show that it was not written in 1788. Some passages from it were quoted in the House of Assembly by Sir Patrick Jennings, then Premier, when moving certain resolutions for the celebration of the Centennial year of the colony.—Hansard, 23 September, 1886.

{6} {return}

Ante, p. 39.

{7} {return}

Collins, pp. 26, 159.

{8} {return}

Phillip's despatches were addressed to the Secretary of State for the Home Department, the colonies not being at that time specially represented in the Government. Post, p. 549.

{9} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 46; Collins, p. 2; Hunter, p. 42; Tench, p. 48.

{10} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 47; Collins, p. 3; Hunter, p. 42; Tench, p. 48. According to Hunter, it was Phillip's intention to steer for Broken Bay in the first instance. "In this examination, a large opening, or bay, about three leagues and a half to the northward of Cape Banks, was the first place we looked into: it had an unpromising appearance on entering between the outer heads or capes that form its entrance, which are high, rugged, and perpendicular cliffs; but we had not gone far in before we discovered a large branch extending to the southward; into this we went, and soon found ourselves perfectly land-locked, with a good depth of water. We proceeded up for two days, examining every cove or other place which we found capable of receiving ships; the country was also particularly noticed, and found greatly superior in every respect to that round Botany Bay. The Governor, being satisfied with the eligibility of this situation, determined to fix his residence here, and returned immediately to the ships."—p. 135 n.

{11} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 53; Collins, p. 4; Hunter, p. 43; White, p. 119; Tench, p. 49.

{12} {return}

This fear was realised when H.M.S. Guardian, under the command of Lieutenant Riou, with stores and provisions for the colony, was lost on the voyage out in December, 1789. Collins, p. 115.

{13} {return}

According to Péron, the building used as the hospital was brought out in pieces from England:—Plus loin se présentent lea grands bâtimens de l'hopital, susceptibles de recevoir deux ou trois cents malades: il faut distinguer parmi ces bâtimens celui dont toutes les piecés, préparées en Europe, furent apportées dans les vaisseaux du commodore Phillip, et qui, peu de jours apres d'arrivée de la flotte, se trouva en état de recevoir les malades qu'elle avoit abord—Voyage, vol. i, p. 369. According to Phillip, the hospital was not completed in May; post, p. 292.

{14} {return}

Post, p. 527.

{15} {return}

"Some broken land that seemed to form a bay."—Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 507.

{16} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 76; Collins, p. 19.

{17} {return}

Collins, p. 9; White, p. 127; Tench, p. 73.

{18} {return}

Journal, pp. 30, 31.

{19} {return}

Post, p. 486. The official estimate of expenditure in connection with the Expedition contains the following item:—"Women intended to be brought from the Friendly Islands, two hundred at half allowance, £100." In the semi-official sketch of the Expedition, referred to in Lord Sydney's letters to the Treasury and Admiralty, it was proposed that the tender should be "employed in conveying to the new settlement a further number of women from the Friendly Islands, New Caledonia, &c."; because, "without a sufficient proportion of that sex, it would be impossible to preserve the settlement from gross irregularities and disorders"; post, p. 434.

{20} {return}

Ante, pp. 40, 46.

{21} {return}

Port Jackson, not Botany Bay. By "the head of the bay", Phillip meant the Parramatta River.

{22} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 44; Tench, p. 53.

{23} {return}

"The women are, besides, early subjected to an uncommon mutilation of the two first joints of the little finger of the left hand. The operation is performed when they are very young, and is done with a hair or some other slight ligature. This being tied around at the joint the flesh soon swells and in a few days—the circulation being destroyed—the finger mortifies and drops off. I never saw but one instance where the finger was taken off from the right hand, and that was occasioned by the mistake of the mother. Before we knew them we took it to be their marriage ceremony, but on seeing their mutilated children we were convinced of our mistake, and at last learned that these joints of the little finger were supposed to be in the way when they wound their fishing lines over the hand."—Collins, p. 553.

{24} {return}

"Between the ages of eight and sixteen, the males and females undergo the operation of having the septum nasi bored, to receive a bone or reed, which among them is deemed a great ornament, though I have seen many whose articulation was thereby rendered very imperfect. Between the same years also the males receive the qualifications which are given them by losing one of the front teeth."—Ib., p. 563. The practice of striking out the front tooth is minutely described by the same author, pp. 579, 583.

{25} {return}

"Both sexes are ornamented with scars upon the breast, arms, and back, which are cut with broken pieces of the shell they use at the end of the throwing stick. By keeping open these incisions, the flesh grows up between the sides of the wounds, and after a time, skinning over, forms a large wale or seam. I have seen instances where these scars have been cut to resemble the feet of animals; and such boys as underwent the operation while they lived with us, appeared to be proud of the ornament, and to despise the pain which they must have endured. The operation is performed when they are young, and until they advance in years the scar looks large and full; but on some of their old men I have been scarcely able to discern them."—Ib., p. 552.

{26} {return}

"In the women, that feminine delicacy which is to be found among the white people was to be traced even upon their sable cheeks; and though entire strangers to the comforts and conveniences of clothing, yet they sought with a native modesty to conceal by attitude what the want of covering would otherwise have revealed. They have often brought to my recollection "the bending statue which enchants the world", though it must be owned that the resemblance consisted solely in the position."—Ib., p. 550.

{27} {return}

Their young people they consign to the grave; those who have passed the middle age are burnt.—Collins, p. 601.

{28} {return}

Ante, p. 130.

{29} {return}

The Marquis of Caermarthen, eldest son of the Duke of Leeds, was one of Pitt's Secretaries of State; the Marquis of Lansdowne is better known in history as the Earl of Shelburne, Prime Minister in 1782-3, and created Marquis in 1784. Richmond Hill was so named either after the Duke of Richmond, then Master-General of the Ordnance, or after Richmond Hill on the Thames; but Phillip usually named places after well-known statesmen of his time.

{30} {return}

Surgeon White, who was with Phillip on his expedition of the 15th April, 1788, relates that they met with "various figures cut on the smooth surface of some large stones. They consisted chiefly of representations of themselves (the natives) in different attitudes, of their canoes, of several sorts of fish and animals; and considering the rudeness of the instruments with which the figures must have been executed, they seem to exhibit tolerably strong likenesses."—Journal, p. 141. Collins makes no reference to these curiosities in his account of native customs. Some remarkable cave paintings are described in Grey's Journals, vol. i, pp. 201-6.

{31} {return}

The Scarborough, Charlotte, and Lady Penrhyn sailed for China on the 5th, 6th, and 8th May; ante, p. 291.

{32} {return}

The French cook, according to Tench, was "constantly made the butt of his ridicule" by Baneelon, the native whom Phillip had captured and tamed, and who mimicked his voice, gait, and other peculiarities with great exactness and drollery.—Complete Account, p. 57.

{33} {return}

Journal, pp. 169-171.

{34} {return}

According to Collins, p. 35, the shock was local, and so slight that many people did not feel it. On the 17th January, 1801, a very severe shock was felt in Sydney; Mann, Present Picture of New South Wales, p. 8.

{35} {return}

Tench relates that, during a hot wind which lasted for three days, "an immense flight of bats, driven before the wind, covered all the trees round the settlement, whence every moment they dropped dead, or in a dying state, unable longer to endure the burning state of the atmosphere. Nor did the perroquettes, though tropical birds, bear it better; the ground was strewed with them in the same condition as the bats." That was at Rose Hill—Complete Account, p. 168.

{36} {return}

Complete Account, p. 169.

{37} {return}

Post, p. 436, 491.

{38} {return}

Post, pp. 482, 484.

{39} {return}

Phillip's Instructions; post, p. 484.

{40} {return}

Post, p. 551.

{41} {return}

Writing in 1791, Tench referred to the matter as follows:—"Not a trace of them has ever since been observed. Their fate is a riddle, so difficult of solution that I shall not attempt it. Surely, had they strayed inland, in some of our numerous excursions marks of them must have been found. It is equally impossible to believe that either the convicts or natives killed and eat them, without some sign of detection."—Complete Account, p. 163. Had Tench, who discovered the Nepean, followed its course as far as the Cowpastures, his riddle would have been solved at a glance.

{42} {return}

"The country where they were found grazing was remarkably pleasant to the eye; everywhere the foot trod on thick and luxuriant grass; the trees were thinly scattered and free from underwood, except in particular spots; several beautiful flats presented large ponds, covered with ducks and black swan, the margins of which were fringed with shrubs of the most delightful tints, and the ground rose from these levels into hills of easy ascent."—Vol. i, pp. 436, 437; vol. ii, p. 50.

{43} {return}

The Sirius sailed from Port Jackson on the 2nd October, 1788, and returned on the 6th May following. The Supply was sent to Batavia on the 17th April, 1790, and returned on the 19th September, having sailed round New Holland on the voyage.

{44} {return}

Hunter's account of the voyage in his Journal, pp. 89-126, shows the difficulties which surrounded the navigation of a ship from Port Jackson in his day. It was a matter of discussion (p. 93) between him and Phillip whether a ship bound for the Cape of Good Hope should sail west or east; Phillip supported the western route and Hunter the eastern.

{45} {return}

Under the Articles of War existing before the Army Act, Provost-Marshals possessed the power of punishing those whom they detected in the actual commission of crime, the punishment being limited by the necessity of the case and the orders received by them from the Commander of the forces in the field. This power was frequently exercised. The Duke of Wellington wrote of it:—"By the custom of British armies, the Provost has been in the habit of punishing on the spot, even with death, under the orders of the Commander-in-Chief, soldiers found in the act of disobedience of orders, of plunder, or of outrage." And he declared that he did not know "in what manner the army was to be commanded at all, unless the practice was not only continued, but an additional number of Provosts appointed." The power of the Provost-Marshal to punish "on his own authority" is not only not allowed in the present day, but is expressly forbidden by the Army Act.—Tovey, Martial Law, p. 54.

{46} {return}

Post, p. 455.

{47} {return}

Post, p. 483.

{48} {return}

Panopticon, pp. 225-6; post, p. 583.

{49} {return}

Post, p. 552. Dampier came to the conclusion, in 1688, that the natives could find no food inland:—"They must attend the Wares [for catching fish], or else they must fast: For the Earth affords them no Food at all."—Vol. i, n. 465.

{50} {return}

Journal, p. 122. He adds:—"The sick have increased since our landing to such a degree that a spot for a general hospital has been marked out, and artificers already employed on it." From which it would appear that M. Péron was misinformed when he stated that a hospital had been brought out in frame from England, capable of receiving all the sick on board the Fleet. A hospital was brought out in frame in the Justinian, which arrived in June, 1790; hence, probably, Péron's mistake. The only building brought out in the First Fleet was a small house for the Governor—"a portable canvas house", Collins calls it,—p. 6.

{51} {return}

Post, pp. 485-7.

{52} {return}

Phillip's Voyage, p. 185. The voyage of the Alexander through the Straits was considered a matter of so much importance, from a nautical point of view, that a full account of it, with a chart showing the ship's track to Batavia, was published in that work, pp. 186-219.

{53} {return}

Voyage, vol. ii, p. 180.

{54} {return}

The rank of master and commander was conferred on King in March, 1791; poet, p. 368.

{55} {return}

The spelling of the word kangaroo appears to have been an open question at this time. Phillip usually spelt it in its present form. Captain Cook, who introduced it to the English language, said:—"This animal is called by the natives kangaroo."—Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 678. The word is so spelled in Phillip's Voyage in the text, but in the illustration it appears as "kangooroo". Collins, who paid some attention to the native language, spells the word kangooroo in his list of native names; p. 614. Tench states that the word was unknown to the natives about the settlement:—"Kanguroo was a name unknown to them for any animal, until we introduced it. When I showed Colbee [a native] the cows brought out in the Gorgon, he asked me if they were kanguroos?"—Complete Account, p. 171." This statement seems to be confirmed by the list of native names for animals given by Collins. It does not mention the kangaroo as a name in use among the natives at Port Jackson, but specifies the two kinds known to them—the patagorang, a large grey one, and the baggary, a small red one. He states (p. 609) that "the dialect spoken by the natives at Sydney differs entirely from that left us by Captain Cook of the people with whom he had intercourse to the northward, about Endeavour River."

{56} {return}

Voyage towards the South Pole, vol. ii, p. 148.

{57} {return}

"If the settling of this country should ever be thought an object worthy the attention of Great Britain, the best place for establishing a colony would be either on the banks of the Thames or in the country bordering upon the Bay of Islands. In either place there would be the advantage of an excellent harbour; and by means of the river, settlements might be extended and a communication established with the inland parts of the country. Vessels might be built of the fine timber which abounds in these parts, at very little trouble and expence, fit for such a navigation as would answer the purpose."—Hawkesworth, vol. iii, p. 444.

As the cultivation of the New Zealand flax-plant continued to be an object of importance with the Government for some years, and the description of it in Cook's Voyage was the means of directing attention to it in the first instance, it is worth while to quote the passage:—"There is, however, a plant that serves the inhabitants instead of hemp and flax, which excels all that are put to the same purpose in other countries. Of this plant there are two sorts. The leaves of both resemble those of flags, but the flowers are smaller and their clusters more numerous; in one kind they are yellow, and in the other a deep red. Of the leaves of these plants, with very little preparation, they make all their common apparel; and of these they make also their strings, lines and cordage for every purpose, which are so much stronger than anything we can make with hemp, that they will not bear a comparison. From the same plant, by another preparation, they draw long slender fibres which shine like silk, and are as white as snow. Of these, which are also surprisingly strong, the finer clothes are made; and of the leaves, without any other preparation than splitting them into proper breadths and tying the strips together, they make their fishing-nets, some of which, as I have before remarked, are of an enormous size."—Ib., p. 443.

{58} {return}

The list appears in Phillip's Voyage, p. 174, dated 1st October, 1788.

{59} {return}

Tench mentions, under date December, 1791, that in consequence of the offers made to the non-commissioned officers and privates of the marine battalion to remain in the country as settlers, or to enter into the New South Wales corps, three corporals, one drummer, and fifty-nine privates, accepted of grants of land, to settle at Norfolk Island and Rose Hill.—Complete Account, p. 139.

{60} {return}

Some idea of the size of the gum-trees which surrounded the settlement at the time may be gathered from Surgeon White's statement, that he had known twelve men employed for five days in grubbing up one tree.—Journal, p. 158. Another illustration may be found in the first edition of Dr. Lang's Historical Account of New South Wales, 1834, vol. i, p. 30:—"On the summit of the ridge on which the Scots' Church was erected, in the year 1824, a large blue-gum tree of about six feet in diameter had been cut down about thirty-five years before; but the stump, which had been left standing in the ground, was still to all appearances as fresh, and the root as firmly fixed in the soil, as if it had been cut down only a few days previous. It was found necessary to remove the stump, as it interfered with the line of the foundation of the proposed building, and for this purpose a pile of wood and turf was heaped over it and set fire to; but it took about ten days or a fortnight to burn out the old root."

{61} {return}

Among the wild vegetables referred to. Surgeon White mentions "a plant growing on the sea-shore, greatly resembling sage; samphire, and a kind of wild spinage, besides a small shrub which we distinguish by the name of the vegetable-tree, and the leaves of which prove rather a pleasant substitute for vegetables." The sweet tea plant he describes as "a creeping kind of vine, running along the ground; the taste is sweet, exactly like the liquorice-root of the shops." It was largely used as a substitute for tea, and also for medical purposes.—Journal, pp. 195-6; post, p. 345 n.

{62} {return}

Account of the Colony, p. 297.

{63} {return}

Post, p. 485.

{64} {return}

In the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society for 1790, vol. xvi, p. 667, there is a learned dissertation by Josiah Wedgwood—"on the analysis of a mineral substance from New South Wales;" and in a footnote it is mentioned that "along with the mineral here analysed, Mr. Wedgwood was presented by Sir Joseph Banks with some clay, which Mr. Wedgwood found to be an excellent material for pottery, adding that it might certainly become the basis of a valuable manufacture for our infant colony there." Mr. Wedgwood's analysis of the mineral substance referred to in Phillip's despatch of 6 November, post, p. 356, showed that it was "a mixture of fine white sand, a soft white earth, some colourless micaceous particles, and a few black ones, resembling black mica or blacklead"; and the result of his experiments was that, in his opinion, "this substance is a pure species of plumbago or blacklead, not taken notice of by any writer." The clay analysed by Mr. Wedgwood was made into a medallion; ante, p. 244.

{65} {return}

Narrative, p. 121.

{66} {return}

Complete Account, p. 53.

{67} {return}

One of Phillip's first requests after his appointment was for a "large cutter built boat", to be framed in England and put together on his arrival in New South Wales. In a letter to the Admiralty, dated 27th October, 1786, he specified the dimensions of the boat he wanted as follows:—"Thirty-two feet keel, breadth in proportion, about eight feet ten inches, to row sixteen oars, doub