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Title: The State and Position of Western Australia; commonly called the Swan-River Settlement. Author: Frederick Chidley Irwin * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1402171h.html Language: English Date first posted: May 2014 Date most recently updated: May 2014 Produced by: Ned Overton. Project Gutenberg Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
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OF H. M. 63RD REGIMENT; LATE COMMANDANT
OF THE TROOPS, AND
ACTING GOVERNOR OF THE COLONY.
SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO., STATIONERS' COURT;
AND J. CROSS, 18, HOLBORN.
London: Printed by Mills and Son,
Gough Square, Fleet Street.
THE RIGHT HON. SIR GEORGE MURRAY,
G.C.B., &c. &c. &c.
In doing myself the honour of dedicating this publication to you, I am influenced not only by feelings of personal respect, but also by considerations of a public nature.
To your discrimination, when presiding over the Colonial Department, the Settlement of Western Australia owes its origin. After years of misrepresentation, the peculiar excellence of the soil and climate is now confessed; and experience is daily proving the singular fitness of that region for supporting a flourishing community.
Among the distinguished services which you have rendered to your country in the Field, the Senate, and the Cabinet, the formation of a Colony which seems destined to rise to rise to no ordinary eminence, will not be regarded by posterity as the least valuable.
With a grateful recollection of the uniform kindness I have experienced at your hands, since the period of my appointment to the command of the troops employed in establishing the Settlement,
I have the honour to be,
Your very faithful
And obedient servant,
F. C. IRWIN.
London, July 14th, 1835.
Introduction—Motives of the Writer—Sources of Information—Description of the Country, Soil, Climate, Natural Productions, Pasturage, Seasons—Favourable Reports of the Interior—Fisheries—Harbours—Political and Commercial Advantages—Table of Sailing Distances &c
The Aborigines: Food, Clothing, Huts, &c.—Character—Natives of the Murray River—Recent Encounter—Mounted Police—Tendency of Penal Settlements—Native Claims—A Treaty recommended—Appeal for Missionaries
Misstatements in recent Publications—Mr. Peel's Grant—Causes of early Failures—Origin of many injurious Reports—Instance of a Settler seriously misled by them—Want of Money—High Prices of Provisions—Want of Storehouses—Free Grants, Tendency of—Remedies in Progress
First Difficulties of the Colony surmounted—Fremantle—Perth—Guildford—Land and Water Communication—Canal—Principal Farms on the Swan River—The Canning—York District—Murray River—Port Leschenault—Vasse's Inlet—Port Augusta—The Blackwood—King George's Sound
General State of Society—Indentured Servants—Aborigines—Native Institution—Sagacity of Two Natives—Intercourse among the Agriculturists—Female Society—Settlers &c. in the Towns—Free Institutions—Trial by Jury
Latest Accounts—Agricultural Society's Report—Increase of Stock—Superior Breeds—Sheep Farming—Wool—Wheat—Kaffre-Corn—Oat-Hay—Hops—Fruits—Vegetables—Timber-Trees &c.—Bees—Flour-Mills—Brewing—Revenue &c. &c.
India—Colonization Company formed at Calcutta—Views of the Shareholders—Loss of the Mercury—Interest excited at Calcutta and Madras—Rearing of Horses for the India Market—Remount of British Cavalry at Madras, procured from Sydney—Position of Swan River—Its superior Advantages for that Traffic
Colonization—Colonel Napier and the "Self-supporting Principle"—Mistaken Policy pointed out—Article on Colonization in Archbishop Whately's Work
A few concluding Hints to Emigrants
No. I. Table of Variations of the Thermometer and Barometer, at PerthNo. II. Meteorological Journal of King George's Sound
No. III. Reports of Physicians it.
No. IV. Captain Preston's Report on the Harbours &c.
No. V. Swan-River Mission
No. VI. Proposals for the Erection of a Church and Parsonage at Augusta, Western AustraliaNo. VII. Native Institution
No. VIII. Extraordinary Recovery of a Child by two Swan-River NativesNo. IX. Government Notice
No. X. Profits of Sheep Farming
STATE AND POSITION
Introduction—Motives of the Writer—Sources of Information—Description of the Country, Soil, Climate, Natural Productions, Pasturage, Seasons—Favourable Reports of the Interior—Fisheries—Harbours—Political and Commercial Advantages—Table of Sailing Distances, &c.
The purpose of the following pages is to lay before persons desirous of emigrating a short, but impartial, statement of the condition of the colony of Western Australia, commonly called the Swan River Settlement. The object of the writer is not to exalt its advantages above those of other colonies. His statements are put forward neither from motives of private interest, nor to forward the views of any party or associated body whatever; and he trusts that, however brief, his statement will be found throughout essentially correct.
That the subject of colonization is an important one, not only to the legislator, but to the simple citizen, no one in the present state of our population will be inclined to question. That it is felt to be so, the state of the press fully demonstrates. The published accounts of colonial resources and expectations held out to the emigrant form, at present, a considerable branch of our periodical literature, and are sought after with avidity. It is to be feared, however, that much of what is thus communicated to the public has no better authority than the expectations of the sanguine, or the prejudice caused by failures that arise from the absence of those qualifications which all emigrants, especially those to a new colony, should more or less bring with them; as their undertaking, even under the most favourable circumstances, is an arduous one, requiring judgment, perseverance, and fortitude.
The author writes for the enterprizing, but rational and sober-minded, emigrant. If the account he has to give of the resources of Western Australia present unexpected attractions, he has no explanation to offer. He only relates what he believes to be true. The task in which he engages he has undertaken with reluctance, literary composition being foreign to his habits; but since his return to England early in the past year, its urgency has been impressed upon him, from conversations he has had with persons of all classes (including well-informed individuals in and out of Parliament) who feel an interest in the settlement. He has found that the general impression on their minds is, that no satisfactory conclusion could be arrived at respecting that colony, the existing accounts of it being so contradictory; and that families in different parts of the kingdom are still in uncertainty, after having long since commenced arrangements for emigrating thither.
The information of the author respecting Western Australia has been acquired during a residence there of from four to five years. He proceeded thither in command of the troops with the expedition that founded the colony in 1829; and, on Sir James Stirling's return to England in August 1832, the government devolved upon him, which he continued to administer for upwards of a twelvemonth, leaving the colony the latter end of September, in the following year. In the course of his official duties, he visited more than once King George's Sound, and the other stations on the coast, and in the interior. It may also be well to mention that he has held an arable farm for several years on the Swan, and has been a director of the Agricultural Society established in the colony: he is, consequently, enabled to speak on the subject of farming there, from some experience of his own. And lastly, since his return home, he has had, through both public and private channels, regular accounts of the progress of the settlement up to the latest arrivals.
Swan River district is situated in about 32° south latitude, and 116° east longitude. It resembles in temperature (to speak from the author's recollections of his residence in those countries) the south of Italy, parts of Spain and Portugal, and the Cape of Good Hope.
A register of the weather on the Swan * is furnished in the concluding pages of this pamphlet, and shows the extremes of temperature during a year. In that instance the thermometer was kept in a hut, and ranged fifteen degrees above the highest point it attained in a brick-house, which was 91°. It there appears that rain was plentiful for six months successively, and that partial showers fell throughout the remainder of the year, except in January. It is here to be remarked, that in the wet season the rains seldom last longer than three days at a time; and that there are intervals of beautiful weather, frequently for ten days in continuance. King George's Sound, in about 35° south latitude, and 118° east longitude, is remarkable for the mildness of its climate, and for having rains every month. By an extract from a meteorological journal,** kept for a year at that place, the weather appears to be cooler in summer, and warmer in winter, than at Swan River. But, although it has the advantage of a more even temperature, the author himself decidedly prefers the climate of Swan River, which is drier. In this preference, it is probable that most persons who have resided in India and other tropical climates, would coincide. At Swan River, although the heat is generally great from three to four months, for several hours in the day, the air, even then, is refreshed by the sea breeze, and the remainder of the day and night is sufficiently cool and agreeable. During the rest of the year, such is the weather, that few would desire any alteration in it.
[* See Appendix, No. 1.]
[** See Appendix, No. 2.]
It is well known that a high temperature is more or less tolerable, in proportion to the degree of moisture in the atmosphere; and this has enabled the author to account for the fact, that he suffered little comparative inconvenience from the heat at Swan River, when the thermometer there indicated a temperature several degrees higher than it had done at Bombay at times when he had felt the heat at the latter place very oppressive.
In point of salubrity, Western Australia is equal to any country the author has visited or heard of. The health of the troops was put to a severe trial there, especially the first year. Being few in number, they had frequently harassing duties to perform: often, after marching throughout the day under a powerful sun, they have lain down to rest, exposed to the deleterious influences of the night air; and, at other times, subjected to all the inclemencies of the winter season. Such service would have invalided many men in most other countries; but after being four years in that climate, the troops continued in good health, with the exception of those who suffered from their intemperate habits.
Of the settlers, some who declared they could not live in England from asthma, or other complaints, have enjoyed such robust health, that they have performed exploring excursions on foot, for several days successively, carrying their provisions, and sleeping under trees. The annexed reports of two physicians,* who have practised several years in the colony, will be found corroborative of this statement.
[* See Appendix, No. 3.]
The country near the coast generally presents either an open forest, plains covered with short brushwood mixed with grass, or open downs. Numerous lakes, fresh and salt, extend along the coast, as do also hills and ridges of recent calcareous formation. A peculiar feature of this coast is a succession of estuaries, each a receptacle of several rivers, and connected with the sea by a narrow mouth.
A great variety of flowering shrubs cover the country in many parts, and, occasionally, lofty trees with wide-spreading branches embellish its surface. But, however it may please the lover of nature, the aspect of the coast districts is not generally inviting to the farmer, the soil being of a light sandy character, and mostly unfit for agriculture. That in the vicinity of the rivers and lakes, however, is of a different description, being alluvial, and generally covered, in a state of nature, with rich pasture, When under cultivation, it bears heavy crops of wheat and other grain.
The higher ranges of hills are of primitive formation, occasionally showing the bare granite rock. On these hills, and between the ranges, where the country is from 500 to 1000 feet above sea level, the soil is mostly of the red marl formation, and generally good, bearing fine forests of native mahogany and other timber. There is feed for sheep on the hills next the coast district, and rich pasture of wild vetch and other herbage for cattle in the ravines. Some land between the ranges seems, but for the lofty timber it bears, wholly sterile: so forbidding is its aspect, from the ironstone with which it abounds, that it resembles districts the author has seen in Sicily, that were overspread with cinders from Mount Etna.
The banks of the rivers, especially of the Swan, present scenery much admired by all who have visited the country. In some parts both borders exhibit extensive meadows, ornamented with trees and flowering shrubs. Elsewhere, high precipitous banks look down on grassy plains on the opposite side. These banks are enamelled with a profusion of the amaranthine tribe of plants (the everlasting flower), and crowned with noble mahogany and other lofty trees.
The most valuable tracts of land are in the interior, to the east of the Darling Range of mountains; and similar tracts approach to within twenty-five miles of the coast, in the south-east parts of the colony, between Cape Leeuwin and King George's Sound. The best land of these tracts is not confined to the vicinity of lakes, rivers, or hills, as is mostly the case on the west side of the mountains, where the principal body of the settlers are at present located.
The only district occupied beyond the Darling Range is called York, and is from fifty to sixty miles from the sea coast. The same name has been given to the projected chief town, the site of which is laid out on the river Avon. This river, flowing from the south, has a north-westerly direction in passing York, and has been lately found to wind through one of the yanks of the Darling Range, and to be identical with the Swan. The Avon varies greatly in width. In some parts, where there are fine reaches of one or two miles in length, it is sixty and seventy paces broad, with high banks. Like the Swan and some other rivers on the coast, it is, in the dry season and towards its source, but a chain of pools, until filled by the winter torrents.
The climate of York is reckoned cooler than that of the Swan. There have been established in this district, for the space of several years, arable and grazing farms; and the proprietors find the country well suited for both, although the crops raised there are not equal in quantity to the produce of the rich alluvial plains of the Swan, Canning, and other rivers in the coast districts.
The fine condition of the herds, the last time the writer visited the district, showed the pasture to be good. Indeed, so very nutritious is the herbage, that a farmer there assured him, he gave no other food than the hay of that country to a team of English horses, which appeared in excellent condition, although employed in drawing heavy loads across the Darling Range.
But the interior of Western Australia is particularly valuable for its sheep pastures. These are extensive tracts of undulating surface, covered with a short sweet grass, and are found to be admirably suited for Merino flocks. Those of Messrs. Bland and Trimmer, which have been there some years, fully justify this assertion, from their rapid increase and healthy condition. Sheep are there exempt from a disease (supposed to originate from feeding in marshy pastures), from which several flocks to the west of the range have suffered severely. In a report printed in the Colonial Gazette of August last, we find Dr. Harris, a physician who is settled on the Swan, and has ably written on the disease alluded to, thus addresses the Agricultural Society of the colony:—"No country in the world can boast of grounds more favourable for sheep than the York district of this colony (only about fifty miles from the coast), where some flocks have been for some time established with such success, as to dispel every doubt, and cheer the prospects of the settlers at large."
The scenery of the interior districts is in many part; beautiful—the undulations of hill and dale, ornamented with clumps of trees and shrubs, present a rich and cheerful aspect. On one occasion, when riding over a tract of this description, of which he particularly wished to gain an accurate knowledge, the author was accompanied by an experienced and intelligent English farmer; and, after an attentive examination of it during a whole day, which they devoted to that object, the farmer coincided with him in opinion, that the tract was well adapted for agricultural or pastoral purposes, but especially for sheep. In accordance with the observation before made, that the quality of the will to the east of the range does not depend on the neighbourhood of rivers &c., they found the land between three and four miles from the river superior to that on its banks.
In the interior, alternating with the fertile districts, are to be found extensive tracts of inferior land. They are either clayey soil on which the water lodges in winter, or sandy, or soils impregnated with salt. These lands afford little herbage, and generally bear forest trees thinly distributed over the surface. The banks of the salt pools are mostly covered with samphire.
The seed time is long and favourable, and lasts from early in May to the end of August. The writer has had, indeed, a good crop of wheat sown so late as the 15th of September; but it grew on alluvial soil—and land should be of this description, or in good condition, to admit of seed being put in so late even as August. Experience, however, has proved that the earlier the seed is sown the better.
Showers commence in March, and increase in duration and heaviness till August; from which period to November they gradually diminish. In September there is heavy rain, and fine showers fall in October and November. By December the grain is ripe, and therefore suffers nothing from lack of moisture.
There is little or no rain in December, January, and February; but in these months the dews are heavy. The grain (which sheds little) may, consequently, be left without injury a long time in the fields, to suit the convenience of the farmer.
Hay is cut in November, and may be made up six hours after cutting, without risk of its heating in the stack.
It is apparent, from what has been said, that the farmer is highly favoured in both seasons—in seed time and in harvest.
Although the grass is much burnt up in the summer, live stock keep in good condition upon it; and young cattle are remarked to be as large at nine months old as they would be in England at twelve: this is attributed to their being enabled to graze all the year without penning up.
The wheat of the colony is a fine grain, and samples of it, sent to England, have been highly approved of, and preserved for seed there. It averages from 62 lbs. to 65 lbs. the bushel, and some of it has weighed 68 lbs.
The average of the crops by the acre has not been great. It has been computed at twenty-five bushels the English acre; but the calculation has not been made with accuracy. The imperfect mode of cultivation should here be borne in mind, as the probable cause of so moderate a produce, compared with instances, hereinafter adduced, of the fertility of the soil. The following is an experiment, made two years in succession.
A piece of alluvial land, measured with exactness, and sown with wheat, gave, the first year, a produce at the rate of forty-three bushels; and the second year, of very nearly sixty-one bushels to the English acre, without the aid of manure. The latter is a return which farmers consider equal to that of the best land in England, under the most improved culture. Some oats, being the second crop raised from the same description of land, cultivated two, years in succession, were, by an experienced farmer, judged by the eye to yield from ten to twelve quarters the English acre. The barley grown in the colony is mostly Cape barley—a large four-sided, grain, giving a heavy produce. It makes fine malt, as has been ascertained: for, from a bushel and a half of it (dried in the sun) and one pound of hops, twenty gallons of good ale and fifteen of small beer have been brewed.
Turnips, particularly the Swedish, give a weighty and sure crop. Potatoes produce very fair crops, and, in the alluvial soils, good ones, without manure.
The sandy lands, which have more or less of loam in them, are becoming more valued every year, and heavy crops of wheat and barley have been had from them with the aid of very little manure. Some of the land which gave this return, bore, when in a state of nature, the grass-tree only, and was cultivated solely from its being near the farmer's residence.
The productive powers of even inferior sandy soils are often extraordinary, and show what the combination of heat and moisture effects in this country. At Perth and Fremantle, vegetables and fruits of fine size and flavour have been produced in sand, without manure. In the former town a radish, growing in sand, was exhibited in 1833, which measured, round the root, more than four feet; and a plant of mangel wurzel, in sandy soil of a better quality, on the Upper Swan, was six feet in circumference.
It ought to be noticed here, that the country has not yet been visited by a drought; and, from its situation on the west coast of the great continent of New Holland, it seems secured from such a calamity; as the westerly winds, which prevail during the winter, bring with them from the sea an abundant supply of rain, at the most seasonable time of the year.—The great advantage the colonists derive from their position in this particular, will be more apparent, if we refer to what the settlement at Algoa Bay, in South Africa, suffered in its infancy, and does still suffer occasionally, from want of rain. The author is the more impressed with the great advantage that Western Australia derives from its situation by having, about three years ago, seen letters from Sydney, on the opposite side of the continent, written by a large landed proprietor in New South Wales, which stated that, from a succession of droughts for several years previous, much distress had been occasioned there, and that the settlers did not know where to find pasture for their numerous flocks and herds.
The following circumstance, showing the increasing extent of that colony, was mentioned by a settler in New South Wales, who visited Swan River last year, with a view, as was understood, of ascertaining on what terms land there could be purchased:—in order to pasture on unappropriated lands his flocks (amounting to from 30,000 to 40,000 sheep), lie had, a short time previous, been obliged to take up his abode in the interior, four hundred miles from Sydney.
As vegetation in Western Australia continues throughout the year, a succession of crops of potatoes and other vegetables may always be had wherever irrigation can be secured.
The following vegetables grow in the open air (if only common pains be taken), namely, tomatos, pumpkins, gourds, vegetable marrow, chillies, eggplants; also every English vegetable, and the following fruits:—melons, bananas, almonds, figs, grapes, peaches, strawberries, and Cape gooseberries, all of which have come to perfection. The olive, pomegranate, apricot, plum, mango, lemon, and orange; the mulberry, apple, nectarine, pear, and various other trees, have not yet had time to bear fruit, but are growing well. Fig-cuttings produce fruit the first year, and vines frequently do so the second year. Oaks, and other timber trees from England, are likewise thriving.
Mr. Drummond, the Government botanist—for several years in charge of the public garden at Perth, says, in a report on its progress:—"The vines planted in May 1831 have made shoots, in what is past of this season, sixteen feet long, and the strongest and finest wood I have ever seen; the olives brought out by Captain Mangles, R. N. have been laid, and produced 150 plants; all the other plants in the garden thrive as well as the best friends of the colony can wish."
The same gentleman has expressed his opinion, as the result of his experience, that the climate of Swan River is peculiarly adapted for the growth of the vine, the olive, and the silk mulberry.
The forests afford abundance of timber suitable for house and ship building, cartwright's work, and cabinet-making. The mahogany of the country is in great plenty. With this wood principally, the Success frigate was repaired in Cockburn Sound; and when she was afterwards overhauled at Portsmouth, the officers of the dock-yard found this timber answering so well, and in such perfect preservation, that, on their report, the Lords of the Admiralty instructed Sir James Stirling to send a quantity of it to England, at a price exceeding, by more than fifty per cent, that allowed for African oak: specimens of it (taken out of the Success, when she was overhauled on the above occasion) are preserved in the model room of the Surveyor General of the Navy, at Somerset House.
The blue gum tree (which, in the south east parts of the colony, grows to a gigantic height, and to which it will be necessary again to advert) has been estimated by an eminent ship-builder in England, to be equal, if not superior, to teak, for ship-building.
The opinion of the colonists themselves respecting the quality of the soil, as expressed in one of their addresses to the Governor on his return to Swan River in August last, is thus reported in the Colonial Gazette: "The experience of the interval between your departure and return has been of the greatest utility in establishing from facts (without the necessity of resorting any further to theories), the fertility of a large portion of the soil of this colony, when under proper cultivation; and the peculiar adaptation of the great mass of land beyond the Darling Range, in soil, herbage, and climate, to the pasturage and rearing of sheep."
The following extract from the report of an overland expedition from Swan River to King George's Sound (a distance of from two hundred to three hundred miles) is here given, in order to show the little probability of good land becoming scarce in the settlement for many years to come. It is written by the conductor of the expedition, Captain Bannister, an intelligent settler, who had travelled in Greece, and other European countries resembling Western Australia in climate.
He thus writes—"From the 23rd" of December "to the 5th of January, we pursued a south-by-east course, for eighty or ninety miles of actual distance, through, in many tracts, a country which surpassed our most sanguine expectations. A very great proportion of this tract was land of the finest description, fit for the plough, sheep, or cattle. The beauty of the scenery, near to and distant from the rivers which we crossed, is equal to any I have seen in the most cultivated timber country in those parts of Europe which I have happened to pass through."
Brevity renders it necessary to omit Captain Bannister's description of rich scenery, and fertile soil, which lie gives in other parts of his report; but the following is an account of what may be deemed one of the most magnificent productions of nature in the vegetable kingdom.
Referring to the country passed over on the 6th and the 9th of January, this officer says,—"The trees were principally the blue gum; and, if others had not seen them, I should be afraid to speak of their magnitude. I measured one; it was, breast-high, forty-two feet in circumference, and in height before a branch, 140 or 150, we thought, at least; and as straight as the barrel of a gun: from the immense growth of these trees, I formed an opinion that the land upon which they grew could not be bad; what little we did see was a brown loam, capable of any cultivation, and, where the underwood was not remarkably thick, grass and herbage grew luxuriantly:"
It should be observed that no other expedition has explored the country described by Captain Bannister; and that as he travelled in the summer or dry season, it must have appeared, from the effects of the sun, to great disadvantage.
The country in the south-east parts of the settlement is described by an enterprising traveller, Dr. J. B. Wilson, R.N. After an excursion of ten days, which he made from King George's Sound, this gentleman (who is a large landed proprietor in New South Wales) thus speaks of the country he observed on the eighth day:—"I have seen many far-famed views in the four ancient divisions of the globe, and have ix hesitation in saying that this of the fifth (if it did not surpass) fell but little short of any of them." Elsewhere he says,—"The timber, principally blue gum, is the finest I ever saw." At the close of his journal, he gives this opinion of the country he had explored:—"I do not hesitate in saying, without fear of future contradiction, that the area passed over contained as much, perhaps more land fit for all rural purposes, than any portion of equal extent (at least as far as I know) in New South Wales." *
[* The statements of these two travellers have been taken from a work published in 1833, by J. Cross, 18 Holborn, entitled "Journals of several expeditions made in Western Australia, during the years 1829, 1830, 1831, and 1832, under the sanction of the Governor, Sir James Stirling." In the Appendix to that work is contained much interesting and useful information, and from it are taken the journals of the weather at Perth, and at King George's Sound; and also the reports of the two physicians adverted to under the head of climate.]
Among those to whose enterprize and exertions the colonists are indebted for very valuable information respecting their territory, it would be injustice to omit the name of Lieut. Dale, of the 63rd regiment, who has been engaged, perhaps more than any other person, in exploring the interior at Swan River and King George's Sound.**
[** This officer has executed, with remarkable fidelity, a Panoramic View of King George's Sound and the adjacent country.]
To this officer the colonists are indebted for the discovery, in August 1830, of the country to the eastward of the Darling Range, by far the finest district yet occupied. His services in the Survey Department, to which he was attached for several years, were deemed so important, that the Governor more than once expressed his sense of them, in his dispatches to the Secretary of State.
On the early state of the Swan River Settlement a short memoir will be found in the first number of the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, by Sir John Barrow, whose knowledge and judgment on all subjects connected with newly-explored countries, render any information from him on these points peculiarly valuable. To this is annexed an interesting paper by that most eminent botanist, Mr. Robert Brown; and a description of the natives of King George's Sound. This last paper goes fully into all the details of the habits and character of these people, and is drawn up with great perspicuity by Scott Nind, Esq., who accompanied, as a medical officer, the first detachment from Sydney stationed there. A valuable work on the natural history of the colony may also be expected (should the delicate state of his health permit) from Mr. Collie, the colonial surgeon, already known for his able and scientific researches made during a voyage round the world in his Majesty's ship Blossom, to which expedition he was attached as naturalist.
There is a plentiful supply of white fish on the coast, including the snapper, and many others not known in Europe. Some of them are well flavoured, and similar to the cod, haddock, &c. Fish have been taken in large quantities off Rottnest Island (outside Gage's Roads), in Cockburn Sound, at the Murray River, and elsewhere. Some samples sent to foreign markets have brought good prices; and there is no doubt but that when capital and enterprise are employed in this speculation, it will prove a fruitful source of wealth to the colony—having such markets near as are afforded by Java, and the other Malay isles, the Mauritius, India, and China. As salt is found in the colony, and especially in Rottnest Island, the means for curing are at hand.
A whale fishery would also yield a rich return for the employment of capital and skill. There is, it is believed, no frequented coast where whales are found in greater numbers. When at Port Leschenault, the writer was told by the officer commanding there, that he had counted fourteen in the bay at once. During a voyage of the Sulphur down the coast, three hundred are said to have been seen. Some of these fish were declared to be sperm, by men of the ship who had been whalers; but it is chiefly the black whale that frequents the coast.
Soon after the Sulphur's arrival, at an early period of the settlement, her crew, with that of the Challenger frigate, were engaged in fishing; and on one occasion, they caught so vast a quantity of a species called the King fish, that the net they were using broke, and the fish were literally driven on shore. After filling three large boats with them, a considerable heap was left on the beach. Upwards of three hundred people were amply supplied on this occasion, including the civil and military establishments then on Garden Island; and also the crews of the above ships and the Parmelia transport. Close to Garden Island, is a bank on which the finest whiting are caught in great quantities; they are larger than those taken on the English coast, and equal to them in flavour. Mr. D. H. Macleod, late of the 63rd Regt., and Government Resident at King George's Sound, informed the writer, that he was along with the crew of the colonial schooner "Ellen," when they caught on the Five Fathom Bank, outside of that island, a place greatly frequented by the snapper—in less than two hours, and with half a dozen hooks and lines—fish of that description, to an extent exceeding five cwt. Some of them weighed from 20 to 40lbs. each.
In the Swan River there is a great abundance of fish of the herring tribe, of a flatter description, and broader than those in the English seas. Some of these, along with the Snapper, were cured, and taken to Java by Mr. Sholl, the purser of the Sulphur, acting as the agent of the local government, and were pronounced by the Malays, at Sourabaya, to be well adapted for the Java market.
Erroneous impressions have been prevalent respecting the harbours of Western Australia; and these impressions, for a time, raised considerably the rate of insurance at Lloyd's. Accurate information, however, on this head having now been had, the injurious effect has ceased. As an instance of this, a vessel, which has just sailed for Swan River and King George's Sound, has been insured at as low a rate as vessels which are bound for the neighbouring colonies.
In the Appendix * will be found a particular description of the harbours of the colony, which has been kindly furnished by Captain Preston, R. N. This intelligent officer was lieutenant of the Success frigate, at the time Sir James Stirling was dispatched to explore the coast in 1827; and, on his recommendation to the Admiralty, was appointed first lieutenant of the Sulphur; in which sloop, and in command of a colonial vessel, he was, for several years, employed on the station.
[* See Appendix, No. 4; where also will be found inserted a paper extracted from the "Perth Gazette," on the subject of the buoys in Cockburn Sound, and which has already appeared in the "Nautical Magazine." This paper, which has been furnished by the Surveyor-General, Mr. Roe, is particularly important, as containing a description of Lambert Channel, a valuable outlet to sea or to Cockburn Sound, from Owen's Anchorage or Gage's Roads without passing round Rottnest Island, which, during strong northerly winch may be considered almost impracticable. The channel was named after Capt. Lambert, of H. M. ship Alligator, which was last year sent from India for the purpose of replacing the buoys and beacons at the entrance of the harbours.]
From Captain Preston's report it will be seen that Owen's Anchorage, two miles and a quarter from the jetty at Fremantle, is a good and safe station for ships in the blowing season; and that they may remain in Gage's Roads, opposite the town, even during that season, except in a gale, the approach of which is always indicated by the barometer; when they may run into Owen's Anchorage. The directions given by that officer, for vessels entering the harbours, will be found to correspond with those laid down by Sir James Stirling, and the Surveyor General, Mr. Roe.**
[** See a chart of the Harbours, published in
1833, by J. Arrowsmith, 33 East-street, Red Lion-square; who has
also furnished, from documents supplied by the Colonial Office, a
valuable map of the colony, which every person going out ought to
[Source: Trove/NLA http://nla.gov.au/nla.map-nk11133-sd-cd. Not in the original.]
Cockburn Sound and King George's Sound
by J. Arrowsmith (1833).
[NLA Map No. nk11133-sd-cd.]
[Click on the map to enlarge it.]
The importance of having a secure harbour at Swan River, where vessels can refit, as well as lie in security in the winter season, is considerable in a political, as well as a commercial point of view. This, at present, may chance to be disregarded or overlooked; but, if an enemy were ever to get possession of the place, and fortify it, so as to render, it a secure resort, from whence his privateers might annoy our trade in the Eastern seas, the British Government would have cause to regret the not having secured possession by requisite fortifications. The harbour at Cockburn Sound, which fully answers to the above description, is so capacious that vessels could lie in it without being annoyed by batteries from the shore; and it will be seen, by reference to Captain Preston's report, that when vessels require to be hove down, Port Royal, within its limits, is well adapted for that purpose.
The great advantages for commerce which Western Australia derives from its position, will be obvious from a glance at a map of the world; but persons acquainted with the coasts of New Holland, and the monsoons that blow in the Indian seas, will be better able to appreciate how much it is favoured as to situation. As the north-west winds prevail from March till September, during that season vessels from the eastward rarely succeed in getting up the west coast of Australia; but, most frequently, after beating about for several weeks off Cape Leeuwin, they have been forced to put about, and go round the east coast, and through the dangerous straits of Torres, to get to India and the westward.* Swan River, on the contrary, is so much to windward of that formidable Cape, that the passage to and from the Mauritius is favourable throughout the year.
[* In the work on South Australia, where the sailing distances are given from Port Lincoln, the wind is said to be favourable, at all seasons, from that port to Timor, Java, Madras, Ceylon, Mauritius, and Cape of Good Hope. As South Australia, however, lies considerably to the south-east of these ports, it is clear that this cannot be the case while the north-west winds prevail. The error is palpable.]
The following is a table of the distances, in the favourable season, from Swan River to the undermentioned countries. The passage, however, to Ceylon and Madras has occasionally been performed in much shorter time.
|To||Timor||1,500 miles||12 days.|
|Cape of Good Hope||5,000||31|
|Van Diemen's Land||2,200||12|
The season most propitious for making a voyage from the colony to India, is from the beginning of April to the beginning of September. By leaving Swan River during that period, a vessel immediately gets into the south-east trade-wind, which carries her across the line, when she meets with the south-west monsoon, that takes her at once to Madras. At this season, fine weather may be reckoned upon for the whole of the way. The "Merope," Capt. Pollock, which conveyed a detachment of the 63rd Regt. from Swan River to Madras, arrived in the roads at the latter place on the 16th of May 1834, after a voyage of nineteen days.
In his voyage from England to the colony, and in returning home, the author was, on each occasion, at sea about three months and a half. The passage out and home, at the proper seasons, is both safe and agreeable. With a view to fine weather while passing the Cape, and on his arrival on the coast, it is desirable that the emigrant should not arrive at those places during the winter season, which answers to our summer.
If, after what has now been stated, anything can still be considered wanting to establish the position that Western Australia is well calculated for colonization, it is furnished in the following extract from an authority the most disinterested and unbiassed that, for this particular purpose, can well be appealed to: viz., a work drawn up under the sanction of the committee of the South Australian Association,* who have for their chairman Mr. W. Wolryche Whitmore, the late member for Wolverhampton, a gentleman who has displayed extensive knowledge on the subject of colonization:—"For fear that these remarks should be attributed to a disposition, which is common amongst colonists, to praise their own settlement at the expense of other settlements, this opportunity is taken to express an opinion, that Western Australia is, as respects soil and climate, one of the finest countries in the world, and one of the most fit for supporting a prosperous colony. That the colony there settled is not prosperous, is, we believe, owing not at all to any defects of climate or soil, but entirely to a bad system of colonization, which may be reformed; or rather to the want of a good system, which may be supplied."
[* The publication is entitled "The New British Province of South Australia," and the passage is quoted from a note inserted at page 19 of it.]
The Aborigines: Food, Clothing, Huts, &c.—Character—Natives of the Murray River—Recent Encounter—Mounted Police—Tendency of Penal Settlements—Native Claims—A Treaty recommended—Appeal for Missionaries.
The tribes who frequent the districts in the vicinity of the Swan, Port Augusta, and King George's Sound (the territory now occupied by the settlers), do not exceed, perhaps, a thousand souls. The form of their government is patriarchal, and they live under independent chiefs; to whom, however, they are little in subjection, except when they are at war among themselves, which is not unfrequently the case. Their mode of life is migratory.
Their food is of various kinds, and as the season arrives for each, they remove to that part of the country most favourable for obtaining it. At one season they live principally on the kangaroo. This animal (of which there are several species) they kill with spears, and occasionally hunt with dogs. These dogs vary considerably in size, and, from their bushy tail and short pricked ears, resemble the fox. The natives also eat the opossum, an animal they find mostly in the hollows of trees: they show great agility in pursuit of it. At the fishing season they resort to the vicinity of rivers and lakes. Their mode of taking the fish is by spearing, at which they are very dexterous. They have most success at night, when the fish are attracted by the glare of torches, and in some places they take a great deal by means of weirs. In the vicinity of these, fish have been found left in heaps by the natives, after they had used what they needed.
They also live on the tortoise and land-crab, and cat grubs, which they find of a large size in the bark of certain trees. The principal root they use is the eringo, or wild parsnip, which grows to the depth of three or four feet in loam and other strong soils. Certain nuts of a bitter quality they convert into food, by previous rubbing over with clay, and baking in hot ashes. In the proper season, they get honey from the blossoms of the banksia tree, which they extract by suction.
As to their mode of cooking fish, the author has partaken of a specimen of it, that would have been no disgrace to a Parisian cook. It was a flat fish, which, after being washed and prepared, was wrapped in soft bark, and placed in hot ashes until dressed. By this process, an acid from the bark was communicated to the fish, imparting to it so agreeable a flavour, that it required the addition of no other sauce.
Their only clothing by day, and covering at night, is made of kangaroo and opossum skins, with which the women are tolerably well supplied; but the men, especially in summer, often go naked. Their huts, which in shape resemble bee-hives, are about four feet high, and capable of containing but three or four persons. They are constructed in a few minutes with sticks, and covered with the bark of the Melaleuka, or tea tree, as it is called in New Holland. This bark is of a soft cottony substance, and strips off the tree in large flakes. The entrance is on the side which is sheltered from the prevalent wind; where, instead of a door, fire is kindled, towards which the inmates stretch their feet when they lie down.
These savages, though exhibiting fewer marks of approach to civilization than any others the writer has seen, are yet far from being deficient in observation, quickness of apprehension, and docility. Like most savages, they set little value on human life, and eagerly avenge insult or injury: yet they are not so sanguinary as the North American Indians; and, except when provoked, they have seldom been known to attempt the life of a settler.
The talent of these natives for mimickry is considerable, and shows their habits of observation. They repeat with great accuracy the conversation of the Europeans, and pronounce each word correctly, excepting those beginning with an S; for instance, "Swan," they call "On." They have also been seen imitating the walk and gesture of a number of Europeans, some of whom they had but occasionally met, with such exactness, that the standers-by were instantly enabled to name the persons intended. This facility of imitation renders their pantomimic dances, which they delight in, lively pictures of some of their pursuits. In these dances, called by them corrobories, they engage generally at night, near a blazing fire. Their representation of killing the kangaroo is peculiarly striking. Two are selected out of the circle to represent the hunter and the kangaroo. One assumes the attitude of the animal when grazing, and exhibits the cautious timidity natural to it, pausing from time to time, rising upon end, looking about, and anxiously listening as it were, to ascertain whether an enemy be nigh. The hunter, approaching against the wind, with extreme caution steals on his prey; and, after frequent change of his position, retreating, or throwing himself on the ground, the scene at length closes with the triumph of the hunter, on his discharging the spear, which is supposed to pierce the animal.
The natives daily enter the towns and farm-houses with confidence, unless when an interruption occurs of the good understanding usually subsisting between them and the colonists. They are partial to our food, especially bread, for which they often ask, and are willing to perform short tasks of labour, or give in exchange spears, fish, or whatever else they may have. This taste has led them to occasional acts of plunder; and settlers having fired on them in defence of their property, the natives have retaliated, and thus blood has unhappily been shed on both sides.
The conduct of the local government towards the natives has been characterized by lenity; but, a short time previous to the author's leaving the colony, it became necessary to have a public execution under the following circumstances:—a native had been shot in the act of breaking into a store by night; and, to revenge his loss, the remainder of the tribe had put to death two servants of a settler. The chief and his son, having been identified as principals in these murders, were outlawed; and, shortly after, the former was captured, and executed at Perth, and the latter was shot in the woods. These acts of justice so completely succeeded in their object of intimidating the natives on the Swan and Canning rivers, that recent accounts from the colony represent the shepherds and others in the habit of going about the country, as having for a considerable time laid aside their usual precaution of carrying fire-arms; so peaceable had the conduct of these tribes become.
Another proof of the good effects of the course pursued by the local government was, that a native who had been outlawed with the chief and his son, and subsequently pardoned, requested an interview of the Governor, which he obtained: when, after stating the injuries his tribe had suffered from the colonists, he begged that a permanent treaty of amity might be made with them: and, in reply, was told that it was the earnest wish of the Government to effect this object—to protect them from injury, and benefit them in other ways, if they would only abstain from aggression on the lives and properties of the colonists. The result of the conference seemed to give great satisfaction to this native, and to others along with him; and a very marked change for the better was observed in his subsequent behaviour.
The natives of the Murray river, forty miles to the southward of the Swan, are a more warlike and athletic race than those already mentioned. They have, from the first, evinced a desire to dislodge the settlers located in their district; and have, from time to time, killed and wounded several of them, with little or no apparent provocation, contriving, on repeated occasions, to evade parties of military sent against them after these outrages.
Recent accounts from the colony contain the report of an encounter with this tribe, wherein they lost from twenty-five to thirty men, of whom fifteen were recognised as having been noted offenders. The party engaged with them was under the conduct of the Governor, who was proceeding on an excursion to examine a fertile district, with the view of forming a settlement there. It consisted of some gentlemen, and a few soldiers and mounted police, twenty-four in all. On arriving at the place, they heard the natives talking loudly in the vicinity; and the party, with the exception of the police, halted at a ford. The police rode forward, when the natives, who proved to be seventy in number, and well armed with spears, seeing only five men, commenced the attack. This little band, however, repulsed them; but the natives continued the fight, retreating until they reached the ford, where they found themselves placed between two fires: they, notwithstanding, fought on resolutely, till they had sustained the above severe loss. That on the part of the colonists, was Captain Ellis (commanding the police), and a constable wounded; the former mortally. Captain Ellis had served in the 14th Dragoons in the Peninsular war, and was a gallant and enterprising officer. The great utility of a few mounted police in the colony was very apparent in this skirmish.
Though the loss of life in this affair is a very painful consideration, and deeply to be deplored, yet it seems manifest that without some severe defeat to convince this tribe of their inferiority in power to the whites, a petty and harassing warfare might have been indefinitely prolonged, with ultimately much heavier loss on both sides. It may now be confidently expected that this tribe will cease to assume a hostile attitude, and will follow the example of the tribes on the Swan and Canning rivers, who are evincing, as before shown, a desire to be on friendly terms with the settlers.
The author cannot let this opportunity pass, without calling the attention of the public to the claims which the natives of New Holland have upon it. It must be confessed that to those tribes, hitherto, British example and connexion have, for the most part, been found the very reverse of beneficial. It is impossible for a moment to maintain or vindicate the abstract right of civilized nations to establish themselves in the territories of savage tribes, without, at least, acknowledging that such intrusions involve the settlers, and the nation to which they belong, in deep and lasting responsibilities: in other words, that the latter are bound, by the strongest ties of moral obligation, to assist the natives in accommodating themselves to the great changes they have to undergo; for it is incumbent upon us ever to bear in mind that, by our entry into, and establishment in the country, the natives are gradually deprived of their hunting and fishing grounds, and are consequently forced, unprepared, into new modes of life, and new conditions of society. The equitable and liberal fulfilment of the obligations thus incurred, is indispensable to any case of justification, which even the least scrupulous advocate of such intrusions might attempt.
Among the primary measures which he is anxious to see adopted, now that we are possessed of a sufficient knowledge of the natives of Western Australia and of their language, the writer would suggest that a formal treaty with them be speedily entered into. As a measure of healing and pacification, he is persuaded it would do much to prevent irritation and heart-burnings, and to promote a permanent good understanding with them. The advantages of such an arrangement could not fail to be shared by both parties. It is a favourable circumstance in this view, that the colony has, in the person of Mr. Moore, the Advocate-General, a public officer peculiarly gifted for conducting such a negotiation. The extraordinary aptitude he possesses for holding intercourse with the natives, has been strikingly exhibited in the accounts published in the Western Australian journals of July 12 and 19, 1834. The particulars of his conference with an outlawed chief of one of the tribes are so interesting, that want of room alone prevents their insertion in the Appendix.
Western Australia, apart from the continent to which it belongs, has an unquestionable demand upon us for such a solemn compact and treaty as that already alluded to. It has every right to expect that a benevolent line of policy will be pursued; but, on a professedly Christian country, it has a peculiar and irresistible claim that the blessings of Christianity should be extended to it. Let it not be said that a nation which includes among its far-famed institutions, Missionary establishments, designed to promote the conversion of the heathen in general, passes by or neglects a country on whose shores it has planted a colony for its own convenience and advantage. To the religious part of such a nation, at all events, the appeal seems one that has only to be made, to be immediately successful.
But if these remarks necessarily apply to Western Australia, considered apart from the continent to which it belongs,—if they cannot be gainsaid or resisted when the case is thus limited—with what accumulated force do they apply when we look at the connexion which all the while subsists between this settlement and that great continent, a country equal in extent to Europe; the eastern shores of which have not only sustained all the common and inseparable injuries attendant upon colonization conducted under ordinary circumstances, but have had superinduced all the evils of a penal settlement! Not only has Australia, in that quarter, experienced none of those compensating results which every right-minded and considerate person must in all instances desire; but, on the contrary, evils which are of rare occurrence in colonization—evils the most afflicting and appalling, have been—thoughtlessly, it is hoped, but on an extensive scale, inflicted.
It is now about half a century since a penal settlement was formed on that coast. To those shores a moral pestilence has since been wafted. The scum and refuse of the civilized nation (men whose education in their own country has only served to render them adepts in villainy) have been let loose upon the natives—for it seems an almost inevitable result of a penal settlement, that some of the most desperate and depraved of the convicts will, from time to time, escape, and lead on the native tribes to the commission of every enormity that malignant ingenuity can devise. Such has been the case in New South Wales, and in Van Diemen's Land.
For proof that this statement is not overcharged, it is only necessary to refer the reader to the testimony of the Rev. Messrs. Watson and Handt, who were sent out in 1832 by the Church Missionary Society. These gentlemen commenced their labours at Wellington Valley, in the interior of the country; and, in the "Church Missionary Record" of November 1834, is given the first account of their mission. The following remarks, with which that account is there introduced, but too fully corroborate what has been already stated of the injuries inflicted on the savages, by a penal settlement having been fixed among them:—
"In the following extracts from the communications of the Rev. Messrs. W. Watson and J. C. S. Handt, such particulars only are presented to our readers as are fit to meet the public eye; for we are grieved to say, that such are the miseries, diseases, and degradation, brought on the Aborigines of this vast country by their intercourse with Europeans, that decency would be shocked at the recital of their state. Suffice it to say, that, surrounded by wretchedness of the lowest description, the missionaries and their wives are giving themselves to their work of mercy with zeal and self-denial. Without this, it were impossible ever to hope to see righteousness prevail over a scene of such complete moral desolation!!!"
[* See Appendix, No. 5.]
Misstatements in recent Publications—Mr. Peers Grant—Causes of early Failures—Origin of many injurious Reports—Instance of a Settler seriously misled by them—Want of Money—High Prices of Provisions—Want of Storehouses—Free Grants, Tendency of—Remedies in Progress.
The reader's attention will now be drawn to some of the misstatements with respect to the colony, which have appeared in recent publications. Under this head he would especially notice a work entitled "England and America;" as the question of colonization is ably discussed in it, and the system which it recommends is intended to be followed up in the projected colony of South Australia. The author would here remark, that from what came under his own observation, when he was in South Africa in 1817, of the condition of the Boors on the Caffrarian frontier, as well as from his recent experience in New Holland, he fully acquiesces in the theory that work develops—that, in order to the rapid progress and prosperity of a free colony, a due proportion ought to be maintained between land, capital, and labour. Agreeing, however, as he does on this point, it is at the same time incumbent on him, as an eye-witness to the progress of the colony of Western Australia from its origin, to show that the statements therein made relative to its early condition are incorrect.
At page 33, vol. 2, of the work in question, there is said to be, in Western Australia, "abundance of good land, and of land, too, cleared and drained by nature." After adverting to the amount of capital and live stock, and the number of labourers introduced by the first settlers, it is asked, what has become of all that capital, and all those labourers? Then comes the following passage:—"Why this failure, with all the elements of success—plenty of good land, plenty of capital, and enough labour?—The explanation is easy;—in this colony there never has been a class of labourers. Those who went out as labourers no sooner reached the colony than they were tempted, by the superabundance of good land, to become landowners."
This writer proceeds to state, that Mr. Peel (who, as he had been informed, had brought out a capital of 50,000l. and 300 persons of the labouring class) had been thus left without a servant to make his bed, or to fetch him water from the river; and that, in the absence of his people, his capital had perished. "The same thing," he adds, "happened in many cases." Further on, it is stated that some of the labourers, who had become independent landowners, died of hunger, at a period when a large supply of food had reached the colony; and that they were starved, because where they had settled was not known to the Governor, nor even to themselves—"such," says this writer, "was the dispersion of these colonists, in consequence of the superabundance of good land." It is added, that the settlers who remained had petitioned for convicts—though one of the chief inducements to settling in the colony was an undertaking, on the part of the English Government, that none should be sent thither.
If this writer's statement be correct—that labourers on their arrival, tempted by the superabundance of good land, did with impunity desert their masters, leaving their property to perish, and did themselves become landowners, it will be apparent, either that there were then no laws in the colony, or that they were not in force. The reverse, however, is the fact,—there were laws, and they were enforced.
The following is No. 8 of the land regulations:—"No grant of land will be made to servants under indenture; nor shall persons receive grants who shall appear to have come to the settlement at the expense of other individuals, without sufficient assurance of their having fulfilled the condition of any agreement under which they may have come." The author does not remember an instance of this regulation being relaxed; and it is manifest that destruction of property and the ruin of the capitalist must have been inevitable, had the Government not enforced it.
Equally without foundation is the statement—that the indentured servant could desert his master with impunity. The indenture was binding equally on master and servant, and was strictly enforced by the colonial law. If the master failed to give the wages, food, or whatever else might have been stipulated for in the indenture, the servant, on establishing his complaint before a magistrate, obtained his discharge. On the other hand, if the master proved a breach of the indenture by the servant unduly absenting himself, refusing to work, &c., the magistrate was under obligation to imprison the servant. Also any person employing an indentured servant, without permission of the master, was subject to a very heavy fine.
Mr. Peel and his people were in this manner circumstanced. The author has read many of their indentures: in all of these Mr. Peel was bound to pan them daily wages (generally three shillings), out of which their food and clothing were to be deducted. The capital imported by Mr. Peel, though very considerable, was understood to consist chiefly of stores and live-stock. However this may have been, he found it convenient, after a time, to grant most of his people permission to work for other settlers, reserving a right to recal them when he chose; but allowing them the alternative of their discharge, on their reimbursing him the expense of their passage out. As his people could get higher wages when working for others, they gladly accepted the permission. Occasional misunderstandings took place between him and some of them, and it was not till after the Governor, accompanied by the Law-Adviser of Government, had more than once repaired in person to Mr. Peel's location, that an adjustment of those differences was effected. The author has known several servants of Mr. Peel to be imprisoned for breaches of indenture. A number of them, however, were excellent men, who would have conscientiously adhered to him, had he not given them the option of working for others.
It is but justice here to acknowledge the great benefit conferred on the settlement by Mr. Peel, in the introduction of men who were not only of good conduct, but well acquainted with farming pursuits or with trades. For himself, the author feels happy in having this opportunity to express his sense of it, having had upwards of four years in his service a family brought out by Mr. Peel. The father of this family is a man of intelligence and observation. Besides his own trade of brick and tile-making, he has a competent knowledge of farming, gardening, bricklaying, lime-burning, and brewing, in which various occupations he employs himself. Such is his industry, that he has been seen working for hours in the garden by moonlight, after spending a long day at labour in the field. His wife is a regular dairywoman. One of the sons is a carpenter, and another a ploughman, besides having each a knowledge of their father's trade; and the rest of the family, down to the youngest, are training up in habits of industry and labour.
Desirous of avoiding further allusion than is justifiable to the affairs of an individual, the writer hopes enough has been said to demonstrate that, whatever injury Mr. Peel may have sustained by destruction of stores, and loss of live-stock (and there is no doubt it was very considerable), the cause is not attributable to his not having had the aid of such of his people as he chose to retain in his service.
Although, as has been shown, the conditions of the indentures were by the colonial laws enforced, it will nevertheless be manifest, that no law, in any country, can prevent an artful and unprincipled servant (anxious to be rid of his engagement) from acting in so vexatious a manner, that some masters, in preference to keeping such a one, would forego any benefit the indenture might confer. Such a course has been adopted in the colony by some masters thus circumstanced. Those, however, who had been careful to bring out men of good character, and to whom they allowed an equitable compensation for their services, have rarely had cause for complaint; and, on the contrary, have generally been rewarded by the cheerful obedience of their servants.
The author is the more desirous of disproving the alleged lawless state of society in the colony, as the implied reproach is totally unmerited by the Governor, Sir James Stirling, who has been most indefatigable and self-denying in his exertions for the public welfare; and it is equally so by the magistracy, who, under the conduct of their chairman Mr. Mackie, formerly Counsel to the Local Government, and now the colonial judge (a gentleman whose integrity, assiduity, and professional talent, are highly appreciated by the colonists), have, from the outset, administered the laws with vigour and impartiality.
With reference to the assertion that some individuals had perished with hunger from not having been able to inform the Governor as to where they had settled, the author cart only say, that he did not hear of any such circumstance while in the colony, and that he considers it very improbable; as, with the exception of the people connected with Mr. Peel, the settlers, at the period alluded to, were located on the Swan and the Canning, by following down which rivers they could have reached, in the course of a single day, the towns of Perth or Fremantle.
He has also to confess his ignorance of the colonists having, as stated, petitioned for convicts—he knows that such a wish was not expressed in their memorial drawn up in 1832, and laid before his Majesty's Government by Sir James Stirling in person. The colonists having had before their eyes, in the neighbouring penal settlements, the serious evils inflicted on society by the employment of convicts (especially as in-door servants), have firmly resisted the temptation to seek such a remedy for their wants. The extreme difficulty, which it is notorious respectable families there experience, to sufficiently guard the morals of their offspring, and to secure their being brought up in the necessary principles of virtue and integrity, is alone a consideration which, it is believed, will keep the colonists in Western Australia stedfast on this point. No mere worldly prosperity whatsoever, can compensate for the tremendous risk to which children in a penal settlement are exposed, as many a heart-broken parent can testify.
It is stated, at page 145, vol. 2, of the work already quoted, that 500,000 acres in the colony had been granted to Mr. Peel—that he had been permitted to mark out his grant on the map, in England—and that, having selected it about the port or landing-place, he subsequently took possession of it, to the great injury of other settlers.
The writer is here in error with respect both to the extent and the situation of this grant; for, without reference to Mr. Peel's claim to a larger quantity, the tract assigned him consists of but half the number of acres stated, and the distance between its nearest point and the port, is about seven miles. From thence, the grant extends along the shore to the southward, as far as the right bank of the Murray river, and, inland, about thirteen miles.
It is true that in the agreement entered into with Mr. Peel, he was authorized, when in England, to mark out a portion of his grant on the map; and the situation he selected reached from the Swan to the Canning river, and extended towards the port: but his obtaining possession of this grant, was made contingent on his arriving in the colony with a stipulated amount of property and number of souls by an appointed day. He failed to arrive within the limits of the time fixed; and the land reserved for him was, in conformity with instructions from his Majesty's Government, granted to other settlers.
In the passage already quoted, an accusation is repeated which was circulated at the period in question—that the large grant of land made to Mr. Peel was an especial favour conferred on him in consideration of his relationship to one of his Majesty's Ministers then in office. This seems a suitable occasion for examining as to the correctness of that charge. On reference to the correspondence on the subject, published by order of the House of Commons, it appears that, on its being known that His Majesty's Government intended to form a colony in Western Australia, four gentlemen, one of whom was Mr. Peel, submitted to the Secretary of State, Sir George Murray, a proposal to send out a large body of emigrants to the settlement, on condition of obtaining a proportionate grant of land there. This proposal was agreed to, except as to some minor details—which modification, however, caused three of the association to withdraw from it; and, on this, an offer was made by Mr. Peel to complete the project by himself, to which the Government acceded.
The terms agreed on were these,—that half a million of acres should be allotted to Mr. Peel, after the arrival of a vessel sent out by him, with four hundred settlers; and if, at the expiration of the year 1840, it should be found that the requisite investment in the colony of one shilling and sixpence the acre had been made, another half million of acres would then be assigned him by degrees, as fresh importations of settlers and capital were made; in accordance with the original terms published at the colonial office. Mr. Peel was also informed that the tract of two hundred and fifty thousand acres (to which extent the association had been allowed a priority of choice) would be reserved for him until the 1st of November 1829; and further, that, should he fail in his contract, and arrive subsequently to the above period, or with fewer emigrants than stipulated, he would still have granted to him as many acres as his actual number of settlers and amount of investment would cover, at the rate of forty acres for every three pounds sterling.
The tract marked out by Mr. Peel and his partners on the map having been given to others, the Governor offered him two hundred and fifty thousand acres in another part of the colony, which he took, as above mentioned; and, up to the period of the author's departure from that country, he was not aware of Mr. Peel's having taken any steps towards establishing a claim to an additional quantity of land.
If then it be borne in mind that, towards the fulfilment of this agreement on his part, Mr. Peel introduced into the colony a population, to the amount (if the work just quoted be correct) of 300 souls, and a property of 50,000l.; and if the evident risk is also considered, it will, it is apprehended, be generally admitted, that few who would regard, the enterprise solely as a commercial speculation, would have accepted the grant on the terms represented as so favourable to Mr. Peel.
After observing upon this grant, this writer proceeds to state the conditions on which other settlers obtained land in the following passage:—"It was declared that all the world should be entitled to unlimited grants on either one of two conditions, as the grantee should prefer; either an outlay of one shilling and sixpence per acre in conveying labourers to the settlement, or the investment of capital on the land at the rate of one shilling and sixpence per acre." These conditions, he goes on to contend, are at variance with each other; but on this point his information has been erroneous. No land could be obtained on the second condition; and, on the first, land was assigned in occupancy only (it still continuing crown land), until the improvement required by the second condition was effected, when the occupant became entitled to the fee-simple; but, if he failed to effect the improvement within a stipulated period, his grant reverted to the Crown.
The above remarks will equally apply to the work on South Australia, already noticed (which quotes from "England and America" most of the statements here animadverted upon), and also to a paper in the "Literary Gazette" for November 1831, containing similar errors, and which article is quoted by the first-mentioned work.
Some allusion may here be expected to the statements that have been made on the subject of labour. The writer of "England and America," in a passage already quoted, asserts, that in this colony—"there never has been a class of labourers." The Literary Gazette of November 1831 states, that "to the want of labour, and to that alone, may be traced all the evils that have afflicted this infant settlement." A third writer (that on "South Australia") adds:—"they may be traced, not to a want of labour absolutely, for plenty of workmen were taken to the colony by the first emigrant capitalists; but to the want of arrangements for having constancy and combination of labour."
These writers explain their meaning by asserting, that when the indentured servants, on their arrival in the colony found good land so easily to be acquired, they left their masters with impunity, and became landowners.
These representations have already been shown to be in material points erroneous, by quoting the Government regulation, which prevented labourers from acquiring land, without consent of their masters; and by demonstrating that, to the latter, the services of their people were secured, by an efficient administration of the laws. It is true, many of the labouring class went to Van Diemen's Land, but this was with consent of their masters. Some capitalists (looking chiefly to the land they would acquire from the number of people they brought out) had large families in their service; but, finding the outlay required for their maintenance to exceed so much their expectations, they granted discharges to as many as they could dispense with.
The rate of labour in the colony has always been high—from thirty to forty shillings a month, with rations costing about as much more. The usual daily wages of a labourer have been five shillings, and, of an artificer, from eight to ten.
As to the scarcity of labour there, the author does not recollect any period at which agricultural or other labourers could not be had, unless occasionally in the harvest time; and then those farmers who offered higher wages than ordinary seldom failed in getting them. The contrary indeed was not unfrequent—that labourers had a difficulty in getting employment.
The apparent contradiction between the high price of labour and the occasional want of employment, will be cleared up when the high price of provisions is considered, and also the want of capital to give employment to that labour—evils which have resulted from causes already adverted to.
It now remains for the author to offer a few observations,
(1.) On the failures that occurred among the early settlers.
(2.) On the origin of the reports so widely circulated to the prejudice of the country.
(3.) On the tardy progress of the colony, compared with what had been expected.
The following extract from one of the earliest dispatches of the Governor (written in January 1830, and addressed to the Secretary of State) will serve to preface these remarks, as it bears immediately on the first point. Adverting to the circumstances under which the first settlers came out, he thus proceeds:—"There could not be a great number with minds and bodies suited to encounter the struggle and distresses of a new settlement. Many, if not all, have accordingly been more or less disappointed on arrival, with either the state of things here, or their own want of power to surmount the difficulties pressing around them. This has been experienced, in the beginning, by every new colony; and might have been expected to occur here, as well as elsewhere. The greater part, incapable of succeeding in England, are not likely to prosper here to the extent of their groundless and inconsiderate expectations. Many of the settlers who have come, should never have left in England a safe and tranquil state of life; and, if it be possible to discourage one set of people, and to encourage another, I would earnestly request that, for a few years, the helpless and inefficient may be kept from the settlement; whilst, as to the active, industrious, and intelligent, they may be assured with confidence of a fair reward for their labours."
If, after what has been said, it be granted that Western Australia, as far as natural advantages go, is well suited for the purposes of colonization, still it will be apparent, from the principle on which the colony was founded, that its success must be greatly dependent on the capital and exertions of the settlers. The charge of maintaining a military and a civil establishment being all his Majesty's Government was pledged to, every other expense was to be borne by the emigrant; such as his outfit, voyage, and settlement in the colony.
No arrangement prior to leaving England having been made by the emigrants to ensure the advantages of co-operation on the part of their friends at home, and among themselves in the colony, each depended on his own energy and resources for his success; and the foregoing description of many of the original settlers will account for the disappointments that ensued in various instances.
Few who abandoned the settlement under such circumstances, were willing to admit their failure was the result of their own want of exertion, or their unfitness for the enterprise in which they had embarked: accordingly, wherever they went, and in their letters home, the blame was laid on the country. Thus many of the evil reports respecting it, which were current at home and in the neighbouring colonies, may be traced to this source. Of this, the following is a striking instance.
Among those who first settled at Perth, was a tradesman, who had been in such circumstances in England as enabled him to bring out a wooden house, and whatever else was requisite for the convenience of his family. This man, whose trade was a good one, seemed a respectable and well-informed person; but, getting little business, and not embarking in agricultural pursuits, he soon became addicted to intemperance; and, shortly after, sold off the remainder of his property, and removed to the Cape of Good Hope. There—not contented with disseminating the worst reports of Western Australia, little of which, if any, he could have seen, except the sandy district of the coast—he industriously sought out those emigrants who touched at the Cape; and, after telling them he had but lately left Swan River, proceeded to give such a description of the country as was calculated to deter them from prosecuting their voyage thither.
A settler, who had suffered severely from confiding in the reports of this person and others, related to the author the following particulars:—He had left England for Western Australia in a ship chartered by himself, and freighted with his own establishment, stores of all kinds, and livestock—the latter, of choice breeds; and his people, amounting in number to seventy persons, or upwards. The reports he heard on his arrival at the Cape, deterred him from continuing his enterprise; and, in consequence, he discharged his ship, with a number of his people—sold most of his livestock at less than the English price; and then proceeded with his family, and remaining establishment, in another vessel bound to Van Diemen's Land, with a view of settling there. Touching at the Swan, on his voyage, he had an opportunity of examining the country for himself; and, so pleased was he with it, that he resumed his purpose of settling there, although the step he had taken at the Cape had occasioned him a loss of, at least, several thousand pounds—and he has now, for some years, been located on the Swan.
A prevalent cause of distress among the early settlers arose from their having generally brought out with them little ready money, compared with their other property. This, was chiefly owing to the Government regulations admitting of land being assigned to those only, who introduced labourers and various kinds of property required by farmers. Many of the settlers, therefore, to the extent of their means, were in this way amply provided; but, having understood in England, that money would be of little use in a new country, numbers, without questioning what they wished to be true, incautiously expended most of their means in the property that would entitle them to obtain land in the colony. However, when they had been some time in the settlement, they discovered that there—as in other places—money was needful; and, on wishing to procure some by the sale of part of their property, they found it difficult to do so without loss, in consequence of most other settlers having brought out similar investments.
Another cause of depression, which has borne seriously on the settlers, has been the occasional high price of the necessaries of life. With a view of remedying this evil, cargoes of provisions have been repeatedly imported by the Local Government—the actual cost alone being charged to the settler. Even a ship-load of bullocks and pigs was introduced from Java. It was found impracticable, however, to follow up this plan, from the loss it entailed, owing to the want of suitable storehouses, at that early period, for securing the grain and other provisions so imported from the weather, the ravages of vermin, and, especially, the white ant. Besides, numbers of the bullocks and pigs getting loose, soon became as wild and difficult to recapture, as if they had been natives of the woods, whither they had betaken themselves.
As another mode of keeping down the markets, an arrangement was entered into by the Government with some merchants, who engaged to prevent, by their importations, the prices from rising above a fixed standard: but the smallness and variableness of the demand operated to frustrate this measure likewise.
Experience has shown that the system of free grants, which was the first adopted in Western Australia, is decidedly injurious to the prosperity of a settlement, from the facility it affords to persons possessed of comparatively little capital, to acquire extensive tracts of land, the greater part of which, for want of means, they cannot use for agricultural or pastoral purposes. It also occasions the too wide dispersion of the settlers; thus necessarily increasing the expense of government, and, at the same time, producing serious inconvenience to the farmer.
To counteract these evils, several causes have been in operation. On the distribution of land to the first settlers on the Swan and the Canning, a remedy was provided by a judicious arrangement on the part of the Governor, restricting the river frontage of the grants to a seventh or an eighth of what it would have been, had they been given in squares; and as, for the convenience of water carriage, and from the superiority of the land, all erected their dwellings on the banks of the rivers, the settlers were thus brought as near each other, as if the grants had been reduced to the square of this narrow frontage on the rivers. Chiefly owing to this arrangement it happens, that on the Upper Swan, near where the river debouches from the gorge of the hills, there are thirteen grants, each from 2000 to 7000 acres in extent; the farthest removed of which is within a mile and a half of a central point—and on nine of them are the habitations of their respective proprietors. By another Government regulation, persons entitled to large grants are restricted to a limited quantity of land on the rivers in question, and are required to select elsewhere the remainder due to them. A further remedy has resulted from merchants and others living in the towns of Perth and Fremantle (and to whom grants in occupancy had been made) transferring half of their land to other persons, on condition of their making the improvements requisite to entitle the former to the fee simple of the whole. In this way, and by sale, all grants on the Swan, exceeding 5000 acres, have been reduced. But it is important here to add, that his Majesty's regulations, which took effect in 1832, abolished the system of free grants in the colony, and directed the sale of all crown land at the minimum price of five shillings the acre. Since that period, the evil has been rapidly diminishing; and will, after a time, be completely removed.
Many of the original settlers in possession of large tracts, have exhausted their funds in establishing themselves, and would gladly sell a portion of their land, which those newly arrived will purchase in preference to crown land, as better situated, and doubtless much cheaper.
Should it be apprehended that the extent of Mr. Peel's grant (so much exceeding what he could farm himself) would in any degree counteract the benefit expected from the present system, the circumstance of his grant being situated on the sea coast is to be considered; for, though it includes excellent land, particularly on the Murray, yet, as the interior confessedly contains the best land in the colony, future emigrants will most probably select their locations in that quarter.
First difficulties of the Colony surmounted—Fremantle—Perth—Guildford—Land and Water communication—Canal—Principal Farms on the Swart River—The Canning—York District—Murray River—Port Leschenault—Vasse's Inlet—Port Augusta—The Blackwood River—King George's Sound.
It may now be desirable to take a view of the present condition of the settlement, and to enlarge a little on its prospects. The colony may be considered as having already surmounted the most trying stage of its existence.-An emigrant now arriving at Swan River will find that society there has passed through its primary state, and will be likely to witness with surprise the progress it has actually made.
On approaching Fremantle from the sea, the site of the town is indicated by a handsome octagonal building of white cut stone, erected near the edge of a precipice which overhangs the mouth of the river. On landing, the stranger has the pleasure of entering a small but neat town, with wide streets, some of which have been macadamized. The streets are laid out at right angles with each other, and the houses are constructed either of white stone, or of wood that is painted over. As there is abundance of fine limestone on the spot, it is probable that this will be the material chiefly resorted to for building there in future. Fremantle contains several hotels, where travellers may partake of excellent accommodation and a good table. The principal one is equal in appearance and comfort to a good English country inn. Invalids from India, accustomed to every luxury, have been thoroughly satisfied with their entertainment there, and have written to their friends in India to that effect. The shops and stores are provided with almost every thing the settlers are likely to require.
If the traveller wishes to proceed to Perth, the seat of Government, he may easily procure good horses or boats on hire. There are also regular passage-boats, by which the distance is accomplished within a couple of hours. The water communication between Fremantle and Perth is by means of an estuary, extending ten miles into the interior, and to which the general name of the Swan is given; but the river of that name enters it near Perth. The estuary has for several miles a winding course through pleasing and romantic scenery, and is from two furlongs to more than a mile across. The banks are studded with rocks of grotesque and singular shapes; some, half concealed by shrubs and trees, while others are naked and precipitous. The passage is rendered circuitous by long spits of sand, to avoid which the boats have often to go a considerable way round to keep in deep water. After clearing these, the traveller enters Melville Water, which is some six miles in length, and four in width, having in the distance a fine view of the Darling Range. Proceeding on his course, he leaves the mouth of the Canning about four miles on his right; and, passing through a narrow strait at the foot of Mount Eliza, a richly wooded hill on his left, discovers the town of Perth, beautifully situated on one of its declivities, and extending along the shore of a somewhat circular bay.
In going by land from Fremantle to Perth, the traveller follows the road to Preston Point, which is a mile and a half higher up on the estuary; where he finds a horse-ferry to take him across to the opposite bank, from whence there is a road leading directly to Perth. This road is through a sandy tract, generally loose, and mostly an open forest. Midway there is a good hotel, built of stone, and two stories high.
The town of Perth is much more scattered than that of Fremantle, and is partially concealed by some fine trees which have been left standing. The main street extends about a mile along a ridge which runs parallel with the water's edge. Most of the houses are of wood, but some good ones of brick have been erected; and as bricks are made on the spot, and stone can be brought by barges from Mount Eliza, it is not likely that any more wooden houses will be built. It may be here well to caution emigrants against bringing out wooden houses from England. They are very uncomfortable dwellings in such a climate, for not only are they liable to warp and shrink, and thus to admit too freely the external air; but, if constructed with ever such well-seasoned materials, they are rarely a sufficient protection from heat and cold. In a wooden house with a thatched roof, situated at Fremantle, Fahrenheit's thermometer stood 16° higher in the hot season than it did in a stone house close by. The appearance of the town of Perth is considerably enhanced by the officers' barracks, and those of the private soldiers; the other public buildings are, the jail, and an extensive commissariat store. In this town are several comfortable inns. One of them is kept by George Hodges, a discharged soldier of the 63rd regiment. This settler owes his prosperity in the colony chiefly to the prudence and good management of his wife. Having a knowledge of baking, she commenced in a very small way at Perth; and, being noted for her steady conduct and integrity, merchants and masters of vessels entrusted her with considerable quantities of flour, for which she paid with punctuality. From her success in this, and other undertakings, her husband has now the principal bakery and inn, besides a general shop. Equally successful is Edward Barron, the proprietor of another inn there, who had also been in the 63rd regiment, Sergeant-Major of the detachment. His wife, whose dairy is one of the most extensive in the colony, principally supplies the town with milk and butter.
Perth contains several good shops, and merchants' stores. Horses and boats can be obtained here, as at Fremantle, on hire. The church is the only one in the colony. It is a temporary building, erected a few months after the establishment of the town in 1829, under the direction of Archdeacon Scott, who, on his way to England from New South Wales, happened to arrive in the colony at that period in H. M. ship Success; and to whose gratuitous and zealous services, as an officiating clergyman, for several months prior to the arrival of Mr. Wittenoom, the colonial chaplain, the colonists were deeply indebted. Mr. Wittenoom is, up to this time, the only minister of the gospel, of any denomination, in the settlement.
Leaving Perth, the Swan winds considerably towards Guildford, a village on its left bank. The distance between these places by water, following the channel of the river, is about twelve miles; but, during summer, considerable difficulty is at present experienced in crossing the "Flats," which are shoals a little above Perth, and extend about a mile. To remedy this, the Government has cut a canal, about a quarter of a mile long; and so serpentine is the river in that part, that the undertaking, when completed, will shorten the distance about three miles. The engineer's plan involves the damming up of the river, in order to turn its waters into the canal, which at present is but partially filled.
The distance, by land from Perth to Guildford is but seven miles. The road is on the right bank of the river, and having bridges over the brooks and ravines, there is communication for carriages, but from the sandy nature of the ground the travelling is heavy. As there is a stiff soil on the opposite side, it is intended to take advantage of the proposed dam, and carrying the road across there, to continue it from thence along the left bank.
Between Perth and Guildford, on both banks of the river, there are several good farms. The land is confessedly inferior to that above Guildford, but here is seen what steadiness, perseverance, and skill, can accomplish even under disadvantages. Among those who have farms in this quarter, are, the Messrs. Hardy, farmers from Lincolnshire, and the Messrs. Clarkson, from Yorkshire. These settlers have arable, as well as grazing farms, and so early as 1833, had reared a race of tall handsome horses from a large breed they brought out with them, and crossed with Cape mares.
In visiting the location of Mr. Joseph Hardy, the writer was struck with the comfort and neatness exhibited in his dwelling and out-buildings, as well as with the excellent arrangement of his farm altogether; but, more particularly, when Mr. Hardy informed him that it was all the work of his own hands, with the occasional aid of a farm servant. His house seemed to have no sawn timber in it, except the doors and windows. The walls were constructed of stakes driven into the ground, and interlaced with wattles, the space within being filled with mud-mortar, and the whole plastered so as to present a smooth surface. The roof was constructed without nails, except those which fastened the rafters; the lathing was secured by rope-yarn. The covering was thatch, made of a fine sort of rush, that lies more compact than straw, and when clipped, has a very neat appearance. Many of the farm houses are of this description, and are erected at a trifling expense; they are every way preferable, both in summer and winter, to wooden houses.
The following is an extract from a letter, dated Peninsula Farm, 14th July 1832, and addressed to the author, by this praiseworthy settler. The document has already appeared in one of Mr. Cross's publications, and is quoted here for the excellent spirit and qualities it exhibits; and also, as showing the success which may generally be expected to result from that union of judgment, perseverance, and fortitude, the importance of which has been, in the early pages of this pamphlet, pointed out to the emigrant.
"February 3, 1830, arrived at Swan River, in the brig Tranby, from Hull, and found many of the emigrants in their tents at Fremantle, generally dissatisfied, and full of complaints respecting the colony, and some of them ready for going away. The flats up the Swan, the badness of the soil, the heat of the weather, with many other things of the same kind, appeared to be subjects of general conversation, when worshipping at the shrine of Bacchus; and, after being assailed on every hand by such miserable comforter's, I found it necessary to leave them, and go to look for myself; and after reaching the Peninsula (where I now reside), was convinced that the land was of a useful character, and might be made to suit the general purposes of agriculture, although inferior to much of the land higher up the Swan. The first three or four months were taken up by house and boat-building, getting up the goods from Fremantle to the Peninsula, &c. &c. In June we began to clear the land, and plough for wheat, barley, oats, rye, &c., all of which came up well; but the fences not being sufficiently good, the cattle broke in, and destroyed a great part of the crop—that which escaped their ravages came to maturity, and was of a very good description. The last year, 1831 has convinced me that when the land can have tillage, and proper management, it will grow wheat, barley, oats, rye, potatoes, and turnips, in great abundance: very good specimens of the aforesaid articles were produced the last year—the average weight of wheat from 62lbs. to 65lbs. the bushel. * * * * * * As it respects the colony at large, there is little doubt but it will succeed, and well, if it receive that encouragement and support which all colonies need in their infancy. We have already seen the wilderness become a fruitful field, bending beneath the gentle breeze, and are looking forward to the time when every diligent man shall be surrounded with peace and plenty."
At the date of this letter, Mr. Hardy purchased from the Governor, then about to return to England, some cows of Colonel Arbuthnot's fatuous short-horned breed. For these he gave forty pounds a piece, and, as the author was told; paid for them out of the produce of the preceding harvest.
At Guildford the town-grants amount to from two to font acres each. Here are some industrious small farmers (principally brought out by Mr. Peel). As soon as these men had built cottages and performed the location duties on their first grants, others were assigned them by the Government. This village has a very interesting appearance, and covers a considerable space of ground. Each cottage is surrounded by its garden, and has fields neatly fenced contiguous.
The Helena river, flowing from the east, joins the Swan at Guildford. It takes its rise in an elevated plain, within the Darling range, and pursues a course of from fifty to sixty miles through a valley which is in many parts rocky, and singularly beautiful and romantic. As this river approaches the Swan, its banks present some of the richest alluvial soil hitherto found in the country. Here Sir James Stirling has a farm, extending across from one river to the other, and which has been highly improved. Woodbridge, his country residence, is a cottage ornée, beautifully place on a high bank, which overhangs the Swan, and commanding a view of two fine reaches of the river. On the opposite bank is the residence of Mr. Walcot, whose farm, garden and establishment, are such as a traveller would be pleased to find even at the Cape, but much more so in a recent settlement: the same observation applies to a number of other farms in the colony. In this vicinity, and within a distance of three miles, are the residences of the following gentlemen:—Messrs. Tanner, M'Dermott, Ridley, Whitfield, Thompson, Trimmer (two), Wells, Lewis, Boyd. Brown, Drummond, and Captain Meares, late of the Life Guards.—Mr. Tanner is one of the most scientific and extensive farmers in the colony, and has directed his attention both to sheep farming and tillage. He possesses one of the best grants at the head of the river; and which, after considerably improving and erecting thereon a house and offices, he has let. He now rents the Governor's farm (on which he resides), and another in the neighbourhood; besides occupying a third there, which is his own property.—Mr. M'Dermott, after many years spent in the service of his country as a military officer, is now distinguished by his activity and unwearied devotedness to his new avocations.—Captain Meares, as a settler, still retains the energy and activity which he displayed while a cavalry officer. With a view to the comfort of his numerous and amiable family, he is residing at present near Guildford, but his principal grant is on the Murray.—Lieut. Roe, R.N., the Surveyor-General, has a fine grant in this neighbourhood, to the improvement of which, he has not yet been able to turn his attention: his professional duties are laborious, and greatly occupy his time. This gentleman was for several years employed in surveying the coast of New Holland, under Captain Philip King, R.N., and owes his present appointment to the peculiar talent he displayed on that service.
As the traveller continues ascending the river, he passes the farm of Dr. Harris, and those of Messrs. Andrews and Yule. The establishment of the latter gentleman is one of the most complete. His people are Scotch; and, by their trust-worthiness and sobriety, added to industry and skill in their occupations, and, above all, their attention to their children's education, and their observance of the sabbath, they uphold the high character generally acceded to the Scottish peasant both at home and abroad.—Further on is the establishment of Mr. Lennard; and nearly opposite to it, on the left bank, is that of Mr. Brockman. These gentlemen are among the most extensive and successful farmers and graziers in the colony, and practise the improved modes of culture adopted in Essex and Kent, from which counties they respectively come. Above these are several smaller farmers, and some grants of non-resident proprietors.
Still higher up the river, and extending beyond where it is navigable, the following proprietors have estates:—Messrs. Moore, Tanner, Shaw, Brown, Burgess (three), Bull, Leake, Mackie, and several others. The settlers here are deserving of distinguished notice. Mr. Moore (the Advocate General) possesses a considerable flock of sheep, and, in the intervals of his official occupations, takes great interest in his farm and garden.—Mr. Shaw, who was an officer in the Rifle brigade, is also a sheep-farmer, and is most laborious and indefatigable in prosecuting his agricultural pursuits.—Mr. Brown (the Colonial Secretary) has one of the best farms in this part, which, with a comfortable house and offices upon it, is let to another settler. This gentleman has also one of the most improved farms in the neighbourhood of Guildford.—The three Messrs. Burgess, who are brothers, rival Mr. Shaw in the spirit with which they follow up their occupations. In addition to their own, they rent the farm of Mr. Tanner in this vicinity, and likewise carry on a brewery.—Mr. Leake, who is one of the first merchants in the colony, and Government Resident at Fremantle, is connected with Mr. Bull in his farming speculations, in which they have been remarkably successful.—Henley Park, so named by Sir James Stirling, when he explored the country in 1827, from its resemblance to the estate of a relation of his in Surrey,—is the joint property of Mr. Mackie, the colonial judge, and of the writer; and it is chiefly to their steward, Richard Edwards (already noticed as a settler brought out by Mr. Peel), that they are indebted for the high state of cultivation to which the farm and garden have been brought.
With a view of showing what can be done by a single energetic mind, it may be, useful to give a slight sketch of what Edwards has accomplished. One of the first things he set about was, to prepare materials for a substantial house, for which purpose he made and burnt bricks and tiles out of the clay required to be removed to clear the foundation of the house, thereby saving the expense and labour of carriage. He had to explore the country to ascertain where the best lime could be procured. This he found, at the time, no nearer than in one of the bays of Melville Water, below Perth; whence, after burning, he brought it up in boats. The timber, which was mahogany, cut down on the estate, was sawn and prepared by his son, the carpenter, with the assistance of another man; while he himself was the bricklayer and builder. The house is double, consisting of two stories, and is one of the largest in the colony.
In the farm-yard he has many ingenious contrivances to meet the wants and habits of its various tribes. His geese and ducks are provided with ample ponds, in the sides of which he has constructed dwellings suitable to them, where they find protection from the heat, and security from the native dog, the only animal they have to fear. His cattle and pigs are kept in fine order.
In the improvement of the gardens he takes peculiar delight, and is very successful; having a good knowledge of horticulture, acquired by serving an apprenticeship to a market gardener. The spot he fixed upon for his first one was a somewhat elevated morass, on sloping ground, separated from the house by a ravine, and covered with rank vegetation, owing to latent springs. These, after burning off the surface, he dug out, and formed into circular wells of close and substantial brick-work, rising several layers above the surface: from these wells, at different elevations, he is enabled to conduct the water in channels to almost every part of the garden. When the last accounts left, he was constructing earthen pipes for the purpose of completing his plans of irrigation, and also for conveying water across the ravine to the height on which the house is situated. In this garden, and in another larger one, hereafter to be noticed, almost every kind of vegetable, and as many sorts of fruit-trees as have been introduced from tropical and extra-tropical countries, are found to flourish. Among the former was the mangel-wurzel, already mentioned as having a root six feet in circumference; the tomato grows here luxuriantly, weighed down with the load of its beautiful fruit, which gives so fine a flavour to sauces, soups, &c. Among the fruit-trees, he has raised many hundred almonds and Cape-gooseberries, the latter a delicious fruit, producing every month; and also figs and vines in abundance, the latter bearing grapes of a fine and rich flavour.
In front of the house are about two hundred acres of rich meadow, encircled nearly by the river. The situation of a part of this meadow attracted his notice, from its being inclosed between the river, and a natural moat of a semicircular form. This moat he dug out, to a considerable depth and breadth, throwing the soil on the inner banks of the inclosure, which he faced with a firm wall of green turf, and made to slope down gradually on the inner side. Along the whole extent of this sloping bank, which is of the finest alluvial soil, are planted in profusion vegetables and fruit-trees. The bank shelves down to a walk made all round within the inclosure, an area of about thirty acres. Most of the interior is now under cultivation, bearing crops of wheat, oats, and barley. He intends, both here and in the garden before mentioned, to shelter some of the walks from the sun by trellised vines. There is also, adjoining this latter garden, and separated from the house by the ravine fore alluded to, a small rocky hill, favourable for vines, and which he has marked out for a vineyard. In addition to the above, is laid out—in front of the house, and on the slope of the hill, where there are no springs—a winter garden, in which he has displayed considerable ingenuity and taste. His two smaller gardens are from one to two acres each.
In his agricultural pursuits Edwards has been equally successful. He seems to have acquired his knowledge of farming, while following his trade of a master-brickmaker in Gloucestershire, in consequence of having purchased a few acres of the Forest of Dean, which he reclaimed and made into a farm. At times when the necessaries of life have been very scarce and dear in the colony, he has provided for his family in abundance; and has added to their comforts within the last two years by availing himself of his knowledge of malting and brewing. This indefatigable man has found time for performing the location duties on an adjoining estate, the half of which, amounting to from two to three thousand acres, he obtained as a return from the owner, himself a merchant at Fremantle. He also made the bricks, and constructed the walls, of a dwelling-house recently erected by Mr. Bull, who resides within a mile of him.—The writer has occupied a much larger space than he intended with these minute details, partly to do justice to a faithful and valuable servant, and principally with a view of conveying some useful instruction to those who may have yet to learn what are the requisites for a successful colonist.*
[* It ought to be mentioned, to the credit of this English yeoman, that when a project was started some time ago of supplying the religious wants of this part of the settlement, he expressed his desire to contribute by giving his gratuitous services, as a builder &c., towards the erection of a church.]
To return from this digression, it is impossible to leave this part of the colony without giving some account of the really splendid establishment of Mr. Bull. This gentleman is a Lieutenant in the Navy, and affords a striking proof how well qualified officers in his branch of the public service may be to become settlers, from the energy and fortitude to which their professional habits give rise. He had acquired some knowledge of farming during a residence in Bedfordshire. Mr. Bull appears to have had in his eye the solid comfort of the substantial English farmer of the olden time. His kitchen, which is lofty and spacious, and has a fire-place of corresponding dimensions, is well garnished with flitches of bacon and other tokens of good cheer. After sharing with his numerous servants in their various employments—often himself holding the plough—it was his custom to sit down with them, presiding at the head of a long table plentifully furnished with plain but excellent fare, chiefly the produce of his own farm; to which were added good beer and ale, from barley grown, malted, and brewed, on the premises. The quantity he raises of wheat and other grain, and also of hay, equals, if not exceeds, the produce of any other colonist. His mill, which was constructed under his own direction, and is worked by horses, not only grinds the flour which is used in his own establishment, but returns him a considerable profit, by what it grinds for other settlers. Among his numerous cattle, are some of the finest cows in the colony, the genuine produce of the Duke of Bedford's famous breed, obtained directly from Woburn. This gentleman, after having, by his strenuous exertions, overcome the difficulties of establishing himself in a new country, and provided an excellent home, has completed his comforts by marrying a lady in the colony, whose management of his extensive dairy, and of those departments which are under her immediate superintendence, is equally admirable with that of her husband in his peculiar avocations. The butter and cheese from Mrs. Bull's dairy are in great request in the market.—The writer cannot take leave of this fine establishment and its owners without bearing his testimony to the hospitality which reigns there; nor can he omit to mention that, by the settlers in general, this virtue is practised to an extent that he has not seen surpassed among the various civilized and barbarous nations that it has been his lot to visit, while on foreign service, or in the course of somewhat extensive travels when on leave of absence, from his youth upwards.
In proceeding by water from Perth to the Canning, the traveller has to pass through that part of the estuary called Melville Water, from which he enters the river in question. A short distance above its mouth, there are flats similar to those in the Swan, that impede the navigation, and over which it is necessary, in the dry season, to shove the boats about half a mile. The Canning is much narrower than the Swan, and navigable a less distance; but the principal farms on its banks are accessible by its means. From Perth to the mouth of the Canning it is about five miles, and the principal locations are situated about six or seven miles up the stream.
By land there are two roads by which this district may be reached; one of them sets out from the point opposite Mount Eliza, where there is a horse-ferry. This is a bush-road used by carts, and the distance to the chief farms is about ten miles from the point. The other road goes round by Guildford, from whence there is still eight miles further to cross to the Canning. The road is of a similar description to the other. There is a shallow lagoon midway from Guildford, but, having a hard bottom, it presents no serious obstacle to the traveller.
The principal proprietors on the Canning are, Major Nairne, Messrs. Phillips and Davis, Captains Bannister and Pegus, Messrs. Bull, Yule, Hester, Gregory, Bickley, Leroux, Drake, and Morgan. The most improved farm is that of Major Nairne, who furnishes a striking instance that officers, military as well as naval, are calculated by their professional habits to become efficient settlers in a new country. This gentleman, who had been in his Majesty's 46th regiment nearly half a century, is not surpassed in energy and enterprise by any settler in the colony. Finding, on his arrival in 1831, that horses and other working stock were much in demand, he took the first opportunity to proceed to Van Diemen's Land; and shortly after, returned with a cargo of horses and cattle of a very useful description, which he sold to advantage. Subsequently, the estate of which he is now in possession came into the market; when, finding the land was excellent, and had been much improved by its owner Mr. Phillips, who had also built on it a good house and offices, he purchased the whole, including some stock, for upwards of 2000l., and commenced farming with vigour. On one occasion after harvest, not finding a ready sale for his crops, and knowing that in Madras he could sell his potatoes, which formed a considerable part of them, to great advantage, the Major purchased a vessel of about 70 tons burden, then lying in Gage's Roads, in which he proceeded with his produce to Madras; and re, turned from thence with a cargo laid in there, after having disposed of his original one to good account.—Mr. Phillips has taken another grant, adjoining that which he sold to Major Nairne, where he has renewed his farming operations. Mr. P. is not only skilful in farming pursuits, but has a knowledge of mechanics, and has been his own engineer in the erection of a flour mill.—Some of those who have occupied the best cultivated farms in this district have let them to others, and removed to better or more extensive grants on the Swan, and in other parts. There is little natural meadow on the Canning; and, although some of the grants have a considerable proportion of good land, yet this is far from being generally the case.
Proceeding upwards, towards the source of the Canning, between four and five miles above Major Nairne's farm, is the small village of Kelmscott (also a military post), situated on both banks of the river, where it issues, a narrow stream, from the gorge of hills that form part of the Darling Range. There is some excellent land in the neighbourhood, which induced several capitalists to settle there; but after establishing themselves, they removed; principally, it is believed, in consequence of the site being too sequestered, and remote from the markets. It is about three miles above the part where the river is navigable.
The town of York lies in a due east direction from Guildford. The road is, at present, circuitous, owing to rocks, trees, &c., which offer a temporary obstruction, and is about fifty-five miles in length. It passes for about six miles over a plain before it ascends the hills; and proceeding for a similar distance over the mountains, crosses a small stream, which is a branch of the Helena. The line of this stream has hitherto been nearly parallel to that of the road; but it here turns off to the south-east, in which direction the river has its source. Further on, and about midway between Guildford and York, is a farm, the owner of which has built a good house for an inn. Descending the hills, the site of the infant town of York is indicated by Mount Bakewell, a conical hill on the west bank of the Avon. The town locations are 50 acres each; and are laid out round the base of the hill, and along the river to the southward.
The situation is cheerful and open. Plains, resembling park scenery, and bearing fine pasture for sheep, slope down to the Avon. Mount Bakewell, and likewise some low hills on the east bank, are covered with good pasture, which, when turned yellow by the sun, has the appearance of rich crops; and, being contrasted with the evergreen shrubs and trees scattered over the surface, greatly enlivens the landscape. In summer, the bed of the river may be here crossed dry-shod, although above and below there are fine deep reaches of water a mile or two in length.
Among the settlers who have been the most prosperous in the colony, are Messrs. Bland, A. Trimmer, and Heale, who have been for several years located here. They have succeeded admirably with their flocks, herds, and crops. The two former gentlemen have now a flock of 1400 sheep.
The colonists seem now alive to the value of this fine district. The following is an extract from a letter of Sir James Stirling, dated the 3rd of December last, and addressed to Charles E. Mangles, Esq.:—"I have inspected the York district, Bland's establishment, &c. They are in a most prosperous condition; and, undoubtedly, if Bland live, he will be a man of great wealth. Other flocks are now going over to that quarter, where there are one thousand square miles of the finest imaginable sheep land. Amongst others, Lady Stirling's fine-woolled flock will cross the hills in a few days, and every exertion is making to procure sheep, it being evidently the best speculation in this country." Sir James goes on to say, that he is straining every nerve to promote investments of money in sheep, in consequence of the extraordinary profit which sheep-farming there is expected to yield. Some of the colonists, actuated by similar expectations, have, as recent accounts state, formed themselves into a company for the purchase of sheep. Their proposal is to raise a fund by 100l. shares, with a view to the profit arising from fine wool. They anticipate that much expense will be saved by keeping combined flocks, in preference to having smaller ones, each under a distinct shepherd. The plan will also furnish an opportunity to persons who live in the towns, and are not immediately engaged in farming pursuits, to participate in such speculations. Among the most active members of this association is Mr. Commissary Lewis, who is anxious to encourage any scheme calculated to promote the welfare of the settlement. He is possessed of a considerable grant in the York district, and has, for some time, been a sheep proprietor.
The writer will now briefly advert to the out-stations on the coast. Near the mouth of the estuary of the Murray River, forty miles south of Fremantle, are settled, Mr. Peel, Captain Byrne (late of the Rifle brigade), and Mr. Hall. There are also other grants on which the proprietors are not resident, principally owing to the feeling of insecurity that has existed, from the hostile character of the Murray tribe. Into this estuary, besides the Murray River, properly so called, two smaller streams empty themselves. The estuary varies from two to five miles in breadth, and its length from north to south is about sixteen. The interior in this direction is but imperfectly known; but it appears, from recent explorations, to include some very rich land; and, should a good understanding be now established with the natives there, it will probably prove a valuable district for tillage and grazing. That it is well adapted to the latter purpose, is indicated by the circumstance, that a considerable herd of wild cattle in fine condition has been seen in that quarter, which must have rapidly increased, being the produce of such as had strayed from the Government herds, and those of the settlers, at an early period of the colony.
Mr. Peel, though with a very reduced establishment, continues to prosecute his farming operations with great energy and perseverance; and has displayed singular fortitude, considering the severe losses he has sustained.—Capt. Byrne is also an active and enterprising colonist, but has not long been located on the Murray. He has a farm and house on the Swan, which is let to advantage, and a grant in the York district.—Mr. Hall, is a man of singular firmness and intrepidity. He is residing, with his wife and children and his servants, on the left bank of the river, the other settlers being located on the opposite side. This gentleman had mingled more with the aborigines in that district, and obtained a greater influence over them, than any other settler. He has been known to pass several days together along with them in the bush, and has thus acquired a considerable knowledge of their habits and language. A favourite project of his, just before the author left the colony, was a fishery, which he had actually commenced with the assistance of the natives; and, on one occasion, he came to Fremantle, along the coast, in his boat manned and rowed by a party of them. The circumstance, while it shows the remarkable influence this settler had acquired, evinces also the docility and quickness of the natives. Mr. Hall is of a commanding appearance, and is generally habited in a singular costume, of which a conical hat, usually worn by Malays, forms not the least conspicuous part.
About fifty miles further to the south is Port Leschenault, or more correctly speaking Leschenault Inlet, a part of the coast much exposed, especially to the winds prevailing in winter. Here two rivers, the Preston and the Collie, fall into an estuary, which, like all the others on this coast, has a bar-mouth, with depth of water sufficient only for boats to enter. The best land in this neighbourhood is on the banks of the Collie, and on the hills; which last, however, are heavily timbered. The plain country resembles that of Swan River, but there are no settlers located on it. About twenty-five miles further down the coast is Vasse's Inlet, which is likewise exposed to the winter wing The country here is open, and considered well adapted for the plough, or the breeding of cattle.
Some five miles further, proceeding towards the Blackwood and Augusta, an iron-stone district is passed over, which is heavily timbered, and bears but scanty herbage. This description of country continues to within a couple of miles of the river, when the land changes to a red loam. The distance between the Vasse and the part of the river nearest it may be about twenty miles. The banks of the Blackwood are mostly covered with a dense forest; the soil is occasionally a good sandy loam, but generally of a lighter and inferior quality. There is much beautiful and romantic scenery in the neighbourhood of Augusta. The land even on the shore here is rich; but so thickly wooded, as to render its clearing very expensive, and discouraging to the settlers. Fine crops of wheat, barley, Indian corn, oats, and potatoes, are raised here. Augusta is peculiarly adapted for a whale-fishing establishment, as the whales frequent this part of the coast in great numbers; the beach also is well suited for cutting them up, and the bay sheltered from the prevailing winds in winter. The fur seal also abounds. Near Augusta there is a fine stream of fresh water, sufficient to turn a mill, and constant all the year round, which is rarely the case with the streams in that country. There are some enterprising settlers located here, especially Captain Molloy, on half-pay of the Rifle brigade; in which distinguished corps he served in the Peninsula, and at Waterloo, where he was severely wounded. This gentleman has a fine and productive garden, in which he takes great interest. He has been Government Resident at Augusta since the formation of the settlement.—There is likewise a Mr. Turner, who, after many years of successful occupation in London as a builder, has become an energetic settler here; also Messrs. Kellum, and others. About a dozen miles up the Blackwood are located a respectable and amiable family of the name of Bussell, consisting of a lady, the widow of a clergyman, and five sons and three daughters grown up. The eldest of the sons is a graduate of Oxford, and an accomplished scholar. These gentlemen do not neglect their literary pursuits, while they find time to attend to all the various occupations required from settlers. Several miles above where this family is situated, are the Messrs. Chapman. The population of this district, including a small detachment of military, is about a hundred souls. At this station, the settlers have had the happiness of living in almost uninterrupted friendship' with the natives: some of the former have extensive grants at the Vase (where there is an estuary with a river running into it), and are said to be on the point of removing thither, on account of its being much more eligible than the banks of the Blackwood, for farming operations; the Messrs. Bussell are reported to have already partially located themselves there.
A lady who is a relative of a family residing at Augusta, feeling the great disadvantage which that sequestered settlement labours under, for want of a provision for public worship, has set on foot a subscription, limited to a very small sum, for the erection of a church and parsonage, which, it is hoped, will meet with encouragement. The plan will be found in the Appendix.*
[* See Appendix, No. 6.]
Between Augusta and King George's Sound no intercourse has yet been opened by land. The distance by sea is about 180 miles. This latter settlement had been occupied some years by the Sydney Government as a convict station; but was subsequently handed over to the Western Australian Government, and the convicts were withdrawn. The great attraction of King George's Sound is its splendid harbour; it is also well situated for a whale and seal fishery station, both which kinds of fish abound on this coast.
Agriculture here has hitherto made but little progress. The land immediately adjoining the Sound is, in general, light and sandy, and, with the exception of a few patches, not at all calculated for the production of wheat. Settlers, therefore, who wish to possess arable farms, must go at least twenty-five miles into the country; and, as there is no water-communication with the interior of any description, no person should proceed thither at present, with a view to agricultural pursuits, who does not possess a sufficient stock of working bullocks or horses. Allusion has already been made to the circumstance that the land in the interior of King George's Sound is considered equal to that of the York district; and so favourable an opinion does Sir James Stirling entertain of this south-east part of the colony, that lie has chosen almost all his large grant there. Sir Richard Spencer, a Captain in the navy, who has been Government Resident at King George's Sound for nearly two years, is a very active and enterprising colonist. He and several members of his large family have commenced, with considerable means, in agriculture and sheep-farming; and, some of them, with an intention, it is said, of combining therewith commercial pursuits. Mr. Cheyne is an old and highly respectable settler here, and has been joined from time to time by several of his relatives, who went out on his report. His views are understood to be chiefly commercial. It is a circumstance in favour of this part of the settlement, that uninterrupted amity with the natives has been maintained since it was transferred to the Western Australian Government. Recent letters from settlers among the latest arrivals there, complain of the high price of provisions and the failure of their crops of vegetables; but the accounts of some of the old-established settlers continue favourable.
Whatever difficulties this part of the colony may have hitherto presented, the writer ventures his opinion with some reluctance, that all has not been done by the settlers, with perhaps two or three exceptions, that might have been expected. Whether this has been occasioned chiefly by their limited means and the paucity of their numbers, or by a want of union and co-operation, in order to bring their actual strength and resources to bear upon particular points, and thus to avail themselves of the peculiar advantages which that station, even now, holds out, he will not venture, at this distance, to determine; but he cannot bul fear there is much truth in the view which the Editor of the Western Australian Journal takes of this subject. The following extract is from an article in that paper, inserted in November last.
"By the Ellen, Government schooner, we have intelligence from King George's Sound to the end of October, and, we lament to say, not altogether of a favourable nature, the settlers there remaining in a state of torpor, awaiting the enlivening influence of assistance from Government to open roads into the interior of the country, where they can find soil and pasturage adapted for agricultural purposes. That the settlers may reasonably require this assistance to a limited extent we are ready to admit, and have little doubt the subject has been under his Excellency the Governor's consideration; but we would caution the settlers at the Sound against embarking too generally in agricultural pursuits, on a spot where their capital can be applied to much greater advantage to themselves and the community, in the fisheries or sealing. If strangers can make it answer their purpose to come to their harbours, and within a short distance of their doors, for these commodities, surely a little activity and enterprize, coupled with the means which we know the inhabitants possess, would soon place them in a state of positive independence, beyond any thing they can anticipate to realize after numerous years of toil and anxiety in the pursuits of agriculture. Some, from choice, their previous habits of life influencing their determination, will direct their attention to these pursuits, and they, from experience, may succeed; but the mere amateur agriculturist must inevitably fail. If wealth is required, or if it be the patriotic object of advancing the settlement (some having denied that they are in search of riches, but merely social ease and the ordinary enjoyments of life), the end can be most speedily attained by establishing a Whaling Company; to which enter-prize, we are persuaded, increased activity would be given, by the ready co-operation of some of our monied neighbours."
In the same number of that Journal appears a petition addressed to the Home Government, and signed by sixteen settlers at King George's Sound, soliciting to have it made a convict station. This petition fully admits that the colony was originally founded on the principle of free labour; and that the general opinion of the settlers formerly was, that the presence of convicts would be objectionable. It acknowledges, that the settlement "possesses equal, if not superior advantages to either of the sister colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land; "but pleads for convicts on the ground of the difficulties they have to encounter in opening proper lines of communication.*
[* It is curious to observe in connexion with the
petition, that the "Sydney Herald" was, almost at the very same
time, calling out for the withdrawal of convicts from that
settlement, in consequence of the "rapid increase of crime." "It
must now be obvious to the colonists," says this journal, "that
if we place the convict system in one scale, and a free
population in the other, the one is an abominable system of
misrule and gross depravity, and the other is the only system by
which this country (New South Wales) can gain a standing among
the British colonies." The writer concludes in these words, "Free
labour will flourish in this country, as it has done in every
free colony under the British crown."
The following passage is also extracted from an article in the same journal, written on occasion of the recent murder of Dr. Wardell:—"In no country is life so insecure as in this: the convict servants being, in numerous instances, the first to destroy it. Let us look back and witness the scenes of atrocious murders that have been perpetrated under such circumstances. We see the murder of Mr. Clements; of Mr. M'Intyre, by his convict servant; of Captain Payne; of Mr. Campbell, at his own door; of Captain Waldron, by his female convicts; of Captain Logan, through the instrumentality of blacks, incited by runaway convicts; and many other individuals of a more lowly rank in life. Each instance of the kind proves that the convict system, with its attendant satellite the convict government, is bad, and must be speedily remedied."]
These few individuals, about half of whom appear to be among the recent arrivals, wish to get out of their temporary difficulties, by the adoption of a measure which cannot be too strongly deprecated. Once introduced to King George's Sound, and the convicts would soon find their way, as bush-rangers, over the whole of the colony. Recent accounts state, that a party of settlers, attended by a Government Surveyor, had visited the Hotham, a river 100 miles south of the Swan. They are represented as having returned highly pleased with the country, more especially with that on the banks of the river. Mr. Tanner, it is added, had made arrangements to have his grant there located immediately. With a view of marking out a line of road through the interior, the Surveyor-General was to proceed, after some interval, to that neighbourhood, and from thence to King George's Sound. The Governor himself had just embarked for that port; and, as the opening of the inland communication is a subject he has long contemplated, its accomplishment may shortly be expected. The country the road will penetrate is reported to be abundantly supplied with water, and places suitable for good stock stations. It would appear from Captain Bannister's statement, that a great deal of the country is open, where it would require but little labour for the formation of a road.
When once this line of communication, however imperfectly, is opened, King George's Sound will become a station of great importance, it being but ten days sail from Van Diemen's Land. It will, consequently, afford great facilities for the introduction of stock from that colony and Sydney, without exposure to the risk and loss that are often encountered in doubling Cape Leeuwin.
In the mean time, the monstrous project of making King George's Sound a penal settlement, is not likely to gain many adherents in the colony. The following passages from Archbishop Whately's First Letter to Earl Grey are presented to the reader, as calculated for ever to set that question at rest. After pointing out the results of the errors Great Britain has committed in her old colonies, and remarking that our new colonies are not yet out of our forming hands, the writer thus proceeds:—
"There is one, especially, in the constitution of which we are bound to retrace, if possible, all our steps,—bound on every principle of expediency and national honour; nay, on a principle (if such principle there be) of national conscience. It will be readily understood that this one is the convict colony in New South Wales,—a colony founded and maintained on principles which, if acted on by an individual in private life, would expose him to the charge either of insanity or of shameless profligacy. Imagine the case of a household most carefully made up of picked specimens from all the idle, mischievous, and notoriously bad characters in the country! Surely the man who should be mad or wicked enough to bring together this monstrous family, and to keep up its numbers and character by continual fresh supplies, would be scouted from the society he so outraged—would be denounced as the author of a diabolical nuisance to his neighbours and his country, would be proclaimed infamous for setting at nought all morality and decency. What is it better, that, instead of a household, it is a whole people we have so brought together, and are so keeping up?—that it is the wide society of the whole world, and not of a single country, against which the nuisance is committed?" After explaining his views as to the remedies to be applied, the writer adds—"But these measures, if carried into effect at all, must be taken in hand soon. Time—no distant time, perhaps—may place this 'foul disnatured' progeny of ours out of our power for good or for harm. Let us count the years that have passed since we first scattered emigrants along the coast of America. It is but as yesterday—and look at the gigantic people that has arisen. Thank Heaven! that in morals and in civilization they are at this day what they are. But can we look forward without a shudder at the appalling spectacle which a few generations hence may be doomed to witness in Australia? Pass by as many years to come as it has taken the United States of America to attain to their present maturity, and here will be another new world with another new people, stretching out its population unchecked; rapid in its increase of wealth, and art, and power; taking its place in the congress of the mightiest nations; rivalling, perhaps ruling them; and then think what stuff this people will have been made of; and who it is that posterity will then curse for bringing this mildew on the social intercourse of the world; who it is that will be answerable for the injury done by it to human virtue and human happiness at a tribunal more distant, but more awful even than posterity." *
[* Archbishop Whately's Thoughts on Secondary Punishment, being a Letter addressed to Earl Grey, pp. 202, 3, 4.]
How our transportation system appears in the eyes of Europe may be judged of, by the following extract from "Remarks of the French Commissioners on the American System of Secondary Punishments:"
"Society in Australia is divided into different classes, as distinct and inimical to each other as the different classes of the middle age. The criminal is exposed to the contempt of him who has obtained his liberty; he, to the outrage of his own son, born free; and all, to the pride of the colonist whose origin is without blemish. They resemble four hostile nations meeting on the same soil. We may judge of the feelings which animate these different members of the same people, by the following extract from the Report of Mr. Bigges:—'As long as these sentiments of jealousy and enmity subsist,' says he, 'the introduction of trial by jury into the colony must not be thought of. In the actual state of things, a jury composed of former criminals cannot fail to combine against an accused person belonging to the class of free colonists; in the same manner, juries chosen from among free colonists, will always think they show the purity of their own class in condemning an old convict against whom a second accusation should be directed.'" **
[** Archbishop Whately's Second Letter to Earl Grey, p. 165.]
General State of Society—Indentured Servants—Aborigines—Native Institution—Sagacity of two Natives—Intercourse among the Agriculturists—Female Society—Settlers &c. in the Towns—Free Institutions—Trial by Jury.
Having now conducted the reader to the several stations in the colony, with the view of enabling him to form some idea of the state and progress of the settlement, it remains to complete this part of the subject by glancing at the general state of society. On this topic considerable light is thrown by a little volume made up of passages extracted from letters and journals * transmitted to his friends at home by Mr. Moore, the Advocate-General. Originally intended solely for the perusal of a private circle, and therefore thrown off in evident haste, and without the slightest view to publication, and often only recording the fleeting rumour of the day, it is to be regretted that these documents were not submitted to his pruning hand. Some inconvenience has arisen from this; and not the least is, that some of the acts of the colonial government have gone forth to the public with, though no doubt most unintentionally, a degree of false colouring; and this communicated by a gentleman described as filling at the time a judicial situation. But it is to be borne in mind, that Mr. Moore was then a judge in the Civil Court only, and had not the slightest connexion with the judicial inquiries and proceedings which terminated in the acts alluded to. **
[* Extracts of the Letters and Journals of George Fletcher Moore, Esq. &c. &c., edited by Mr. Martin Doyle. Orr and Smith, Amen Corner.]
[** Though not at all of the spirit, yet certainly of the heedlessness, with which Col. Napier has commented upon one especially of these acts, the writer feels he has occasion to complain. The following passage occurs in page 129 of the Colonel's last work, when alluding to the execution of Midgegoroo. "Now, if this man bad committed any crime, which may perhaps have been the case, though it does not so appear by Mr. Moore's account, &c. &c. &c." Will the reader believe that the Colonel had himself just recorded, in the next preceding page of his work, the following extract from Mr. Moore?—"May 22nd. Midgegoroo, after having been fully identified as a principal actor in three murders at least, has been shot at the jail door by a party of the military." Incredible as it may appear, such is actually the inconsistency into which mere heedlessness has betrayed Colonel Napier.]
As in this work there are frequent complaints of indentured servants, a few words respecting them may here be called for. The character of this class of persons is about the average of that of persons in similar occupations in England, except so far as it is modified by the new circumstances in which they are placed, of which they very naturally avail themselves. Feeling their own importance to their employer's comfort and success, and that he cannot easily dispense with them, or in most instances readily supply their places, they are apt to presume on this knowledge, and thus, in some instances, become an occasion of considerable annoyance to their masters. Too much pains cannot be taken to draw them off from the use of spirits, to which they have already become greatly accustomed, from the absence of malt liquors in the colony. As brewing succeeds well, and the hop has begun to be planted, it is hoped that the evil will receive a timely check. The additional duties that have been lately imposed on spirits may also contribute to this desirable result.
In taking a general view of the state of society, it will be requisite to make some further allusion to the natives. The writer, indeed, has a particular inducement to revert to them, having been favoured with a sight of an additional file of the Perth Gazette, which has reached the Colonial Office, since the early sheets of this pamphlet went to press. It has been already noticed as a leading circumstance affecting the state and progress of society in this settlement, that the aborigines are so inconsiderable in point of numbers. This will greatly facilitate the humane and enlightened policy that the Governor is adopting; and which, if successful (and the writer confesses that he is inclined to be sanguine on this head), will not only bring these tribes within the pale of civilization, but speedily render them useful and valuable members of a British community, sheltering them under its protection, and enabling them to participate largely in the general prosperity of the colony. The last arrivals state that the Governor has formed an institution at Mount Eliza, near Perth, for the immediate purpose of civilizing the natives in that district. Mr. Armstrong, a settler who has acquired a considerable knowledge of their language, and has associated much with them in their primitive haunts, has been judiciously selected to act as interpreter and superintendent. A main object proposed is to teach and encourage the natives to acquire the means of regular subsistence, whether by working for individual settlers, or by following up, and improving in, the various arts to which they are already accustomed. In fishing, fox instance, a pursuit in which they combine great ignorance with much dexterity, they are to be assisted by boats nets, &c. To hunting also, and the rest of their useful occupations, they will be stimulated; as it will be a part of the duty of the Superintendent to give them increased facilities for the disposal of any surplus provisions they may be able to obtain. Grounds also are to be set apart for them, to which they are to have free ingress and egress, and no restraint or coercion will be attempted; while additional protection will be secured to them, and medical aid in sickness. They will thus, it is hoped, be gradually trained to make a wise provision for the future. The rules of the Institution, which seem to be admirably adapted to the purpose, will be found detailed in the Appendix.*
[* See Appendix, No. 7.]
If this friendly and paternal system should answer the design proposed, it will, no doubt, be followed up by similar institutions throughout the colony, and thus many important undertakings of a public nature may ultimately be achieved with benefit to all parties. The plan, at all events, does great credit to the benevolence and wisdom of the Governor, and well deserves to be crowned with success.
A circumstance is related in one of the numbers of the Perth Gazette just arrived, so highly creditable to two of the Swan River natives, that no apology can be necessary for inserting it in the Appendix.** Many extraordinary cases have been related of the successful tracking of footsteps by savages through a wild and uncultivated country; but this recent instance exceeds anything of the kind which the writer remembers to have heard or read of. The Hottentot corps of riflemen, who are often employed at the Cape, in tracking the Caffres that have plundered cattle &c. from the settlers on the frontier, exhibit wonderful sagacity in this way. They will discover the track or spur, as it is called, of a man by marks which would escape the notice of the most observant European. Even the recent turning of a pebble, or the fracture of a spray, affords them a clue for continuing their pursuit. This the writer had the opportunity of knowing, when serving on the Caffrarian frontier. But however surprising it then appeared to be, the present instance seems to evince equal, and indeed superior sagacity, on the part of the Swan River natives, inasmuch as the track of a child must be more difficult to discover, than that of a bullock or a man.
[** See Appendix, No. 8.]
The gentleman whose name is mentioned on that occasion as Superintendent of Police, is the son of General Sir Amos Norcott, and is singularly well suited for his office, which brings him in continual contact with the aborigines. He is possessed of energy and activity, and has acquired a considerable knowledge of their manners, habits, and language. Mr. Norcott has a great turn for imitation, and his popularity with the natives may be in part ascribed to his possession of a talent so conspicuous in themselves, as well as to his uniform kindness. Such is their attachment to him, that they are in the habit of shouting out his name on seeing him at a distance.
The state of society among the agriculturists themselves is, in general, of the most friendly description. A kind and cordial feeling is that which for the most part prevails, and a readiness to do good offices for each other. Much social intercourse is kept up, and the laborious occupations of farming are combined with a refinement of manners and taste, which has surprised and delighted many who have visited the colony. To the hospitality which is so generally practised, the writer has already borne testimony when treating of the Swan River District.
For proof that these statements are not overcharged, the writer may confidently appeal to a pamphlet on the colony, written by Lieut. Col. Hanson, Quarter-master-General of the Madras army, and also to the Journals and Letters of Mr. Moore, to which reference has already been made. At the dinners of the Agricultural Society, which occur four times a year, it is usual for a large party of gentlemen to dine together.
The last occasion is thus described in the "Western Australian Journal" of November 8, 1834:—
The Quarterly Meeting of the Members of the Agricultural Society took place yesterday at Guildford.
His Excellency Sir James Stirling, accompanied by Captain Blackwood of the "Hyacinth," Mr. Taylor of King George's Sound, and several other gentlemen, after visiting, in the course of the day, the farms in the neighbourhood of Guildford, and inspecting the stock brought to the cattle-show, at 4 o'clock joined the members of the Society, at the Cleikum Inn, where an excellent dinner was provided, and forty-eight persons sat down to partake of it.
To the ladies generally, of the settlement, the weed of praise is due. Some of them are highly educated as well as most amiable women. They have not neglected to cultivate and maintain, as opportunity has occurred, those elegancies and accomplishments in which they have excelled; and music, especially, forms a most pleasing part of the evening recreations of several families. The good sense and intelligence of the sex have been strikingly displayed in the readiness with which they have borne many privations, and encountered the difficulties incident to a new colony. A remarkable example of heroism, for such it really may be called, occurred some time since, in the instance of an estimable old lady, the mother of two gentlemen of the name of Leake, respectable merchants at Fremantle. This lady was induced by her attachment to her sons, already settled there, and to a grand-daughter who was coming out, to buffet the waves at seventy years of age; and is now actively superintending the domestic arrangements of their hospitable dwelling. The above-named merchants, as also the Messrs. Samson (gentlemen highly esteemed), have establishments both there and at Perth.
The town of Perth is particularly favoured in regard to its social circle, and much friendly intercourse is kept up. To Lady Stirling, the very amiable wife of the Governor, the colonists are greatly indebted. The families of the civil officers of government, and those of some other individuals, contribute to make this a very agreeable place of residence. "The Perth Gazette and Western Australian Journal," is published here under the auspices of the Government, and is ably edited by Mr. Macfaull, the proprietor. This is a very useful channel of communication, and circulates much valuable information among the settlers. It merits, as well by the style and temper in which it is written, as by the manner in which the mechanical part is conducted, to take a high rank among our colonial journals.
The town of Guildford may also be named as furnishing excellent society. The families of Messrs. Tanner, Whitfield, Walcot, Ridley, Boyd, and Captain Mears (several of them blessed with amiable and accomplished daughters), add greatly to the cheerfulness of this neighbourhood. A musical treat may often be had here, and also at Perth and Fremantle.
At a place called the Peninsula, between Perth and Guildford, there are located the families of the two Messrs. Hardy, Mr. Clarkson, and Mr. Drummond, the eminent botanist. Higher up the Swan River, there are those of Messrs. Brockman, Shaw, and Bull. Besides these, there are several bachelors located here and there, some of whom will probably, when they get thoroughly settled down, be following the excellent example of Mr. Bull, already quoted. Similar notice might be taken of the friendly intercourse, and pleasant society to be met with, at the Canning, York, the Murray, Augusta, and King George's Sound.
The Colony is highly privileged in its legal institutions, which afford all the advantages of English law, without the heavy expense attending it here at home. The only criminal court in the settlement is the Quarter Sessions, the judges of which are unpaid magistrates, with the exception of their chairman, who also presides over the Civil Court, with the title of Commissioner; and which office, like that of judge in England, is held during good behaviour. In the Criminal Court the trial is always by jury, which is likewise the case in the Civil Court, whenever either of the parties chooses to incur the expense. The pleadings are oral, and all persons are permitted to practise as advocates. The fees are very moderate. The present commissioner is Mr. Mackie, before alluded to, whose first appointment was that of Advocate-General, or Counsel to the Government; which situation he held, together with that of Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, while Mr. Moore presided in the Civil Court; to which, on its formation, lie had been nominated by the Local Government. On these appointments, however, being laid before his Majesty's Government, it was decided that the same functionary should preside in both courts; and Mr. Mackie, as the senior law-officer, was made the sole Colonial Judge; the office of Advocate-General being offered to Mr. Moore, and accepted by that gentleman. The legal knowledge, professional talent, and equable temper, which Mr. Moore evinced during the two years and upwards he presided in the Civil Court, gave the utmost satisfaction to the colonists, as well as to the Governor.*
[* See Appendix, No. 9.]
Into these particulars respecting the free institutions of the colony the writer has entered thus somewhat minutely, as they cannot fail to have a material influence upon the state of society, and greatly contribute to permanent prosperity. How these advantages are appreciated in the neighbouring penal settlements, the following extract from a letter in "The Tasmanian," a Van Diemen's Land journal of recent date, demonstrates:—
"The 'penal settlement' character of these colonies is a millstone round their necks, which effectually prevents their obtaining their rights of free institutions. Look at Swan River. Depend upon it that, poor as that colony is, her composition being free from penal settlementship, she commands infinitely greater attention in Britain, than does either this, or the great sister colony, with all its wealth. Thus it is that, while we are here subjected to the report of the Crown lawyers, whether we shall possess even the ordinary right of Trial by Jury, the colonists of the Swan River are in full enjoyment of every privilege of Englishmen."
Latest Accounts—Agricultural Society's Report—Increase of Stock—Superior Breeds—Sheep Farming—Wool—Wheat—Kaffre Corn—Oat-Hay—Hops—Fruits—Vegetables—Timber-Trees, &c.—Bees—Flour-Mills—Brewing—Revenue, &c. &c. &c.
Since the preceding sheets were sent to press, Colonial journals down to the 24th of January have come to hand. They enable the writer to give the last Report of the Western Australian Agricultural Society; a document containing the most gratifying accounts of the progress of the settlement—accounts exceeding the expectations of the writer. From what he knows of the gentlemen who have affixed their names to the Report, and who have been already referred to, as among the leading agriculturists in the colony, he has entire confidence in the accuracy of the information it conveys; while he feels himself peculiarly fortunate in being able thus unexpectedly to appeal to such a body of evidence in proof of the general correctness of his own previous statements.
To His Excellency Sir James Stirling, Governor, &c. &c., Patron of the Agricultural Society of Western Australia.
SIR,—In laying before your Excellency our third Agricultural Report for the colony, we cannot but remark, that though the total amount of live stock in the colony may appear small, and though a great many farmers have as yet been able to procure but a very limited supply—yet, when we reflect, that only the fifth year of our existence as a community has passed, and look at the same period of any other colony on record, it will be found that we stand very far before them in this respect, as well as in the extent of land in cultivation. And when we look at the state of importance to which other colonies have arrived (Sydney, for instance, almost even within our own knowledge and experience), we think we have reason to congratulate ourselves.
From our own observations, we can state that within the last twelve months, the increase of stock has been very considerable, the holders having acted more judiciously of late, in withholding the breeding stock from the butcher, however high the price: whereas formerly, they thought merely of the present, by killing ewes &c., whenever the condition of the animal or great demand for meat gave present profit.
We believe the number of head of live stock has never before been taken, to enable us to state with precision what the increase has been within any given time; but, by as careful a means as could be adopted, we find the present numbers, and the quantity of land in cultivation, to be as follows:—
Horses, 84; mares, 78; cows, 307; working cattle, 96; bulls and steers, 97; sheep, 3545; goats, 492; pigs, 374.
Number of acres in wheat, 564; barley, 100; oats, 116; Kaffre corn and maize, 29; potatoes, 15; other crops, 94; fallow, 118; vines half an acre.
Amongst the horses we must remark, that we have your own thorough-bred stock, namely, Grey Leg and Chateau Margaux, and four mares, and your horse Napoleon, the two cart-horses of Mr. Bull and Mr. J. W. Hardy, and Mr. Peel's Punch. Of cart-mares we have Mr. Brockman's two, Mr. Bull's one, Mr. Lennard's two, Mr. Lewis's two, Mr. Phillips's one, Major Nairne's two; also Mr. Smith's fine half-bred mare.
Of cows and bulls we possess a good many of the fine English breeds—Devon short-horned, Yorkshire, Durham, Alderney, Ayrshire, &c.
Of sheep, we have the fine ewes and rams imported from Saxony, by Mr. M'Dermott, at a great expense, with their descendants; and the pure Merinos from the flocks of the late Mr. Joshua Trimmer and others. It is gratifying to know, that the good breeds of the stock above-mentioned bear such a proportion to the inferior, that have been, and may be, imported from the neighbouring colonies, that we have within ourselves the foundation for an unlimited number of first-rate horses, cattle, and sheep.
Of wool, the small quantity hitherto exported has been of course of a very mixed description, and much of it very dirty and badly packed, from obvious causes. It appears not to have fetched in the London market more than 2s. 2d. per lb. The clip of the present season may be rated at about 5884 lbs., and we are happy to say that a large proportion of it is fine, and that much more pains have been taken with it than formerly.
Since making our last Report, explorations that have been made by individuals have not only confirmed our opinions of the extent of the pastoral districts in the interior, but have added some not before known. Added to which, the increased experience of those settlers on the only located district of this description, more than confirms the opinions formerly entertained of it for the breeding of fine-woolled sheep. On this subject, Mr. Bland, one of the largest flockmasters in the colony, says, "With regard to the land in this district, my opinion is, that it is as healthy a sheep-run as can be found; we have resided here with a flock of sheep for nearly three years, and have not had any disease amongst them, excepting the foot-rot, which has been brought up from the Swan. Both sheep and lambs require clipping early in the spring, to prevent a grass-seed with a barbed point from working into the skin. We find the grass certainly increase where it has been most fed off. As to the comparative expense of keeping a flock here, and on the Swan, I am scarcely able to say, not having kept one at the latter place myself; but two men can keep from 700 to 1000, with an extra hand in lambing time, and two or three at clipping time. I think the country, on the average, will keep about one sheep to three acres." But as the feed increases by feeding, a larger proportion may be kept.
We are sorry to say, that the disease mentioned in our last report as having proved so serious a drawback to keeping flocks on the Swan, has not yielded so entirely as we had hoped it was doing to the medicines employed; nor, with all the care of the owner and shepherd, has it been kept off so long as the sheep have remained in those districts of the Swan in which it had before prevailed. But this has hastened the flockmasters here in sending them to the Avon, to which river three individuals have lately removed their sheep, and where there are now no less than eight flocks. It is the intention of more of the principal settlers to send their stock over the hills, when the Government shall have so far improved the road as to enable them to take over supplies, which, for the present, must be taken from their farms on the Swan and Canning. It is very gratifying to be able to state, that of some of the Merino lambs from the Avon, only six months old, killed at Perth, the carcasses have weighed upwards of ten pounds a quarter, and this after having been driven over in two days.
On the number of acres in wheat showing so small an increase on that of last year, we would remark, that the great scarcity of seed prevented more being got in; had it not been for this cause, we can venture to say, that it would have been very much greater. Nearly the whole of the land now fallow would have been in wheat, besides a great deal of new land, had seed been procurable.
Kaffre-corn appears to be almost entirely superseding maize, the former being found not only productive, but answering well on inferior soils; whereas the latter does not succeed well in this country without a great deal of manure, except in soils that are moist in summer.
During the present season oat-hay has been made, for the first time, in the colony, and with complete success; the crop being four or five times as great as that on the natural pastures.
From the great increase in the number of working bullocks within the last year or two, we may reasonably calculate on a very considerable increase in the extent of land under cultivation next year, if the periodical scarcity which has hitherto usually visited us be averted, so that we be not obliged to use for food the wheat intended for seed.
We deem it right to make one observation on the wheat crop, to prevent an erroneous opinion being formed as to its produce,—that though the quantity sown is considerable, and is generally looking well, there are many acres that are sown on inferior land without sufficient tillage, or sown too late, that cannot be counted on.
Amongst the plants introduced since our last report, we notice one of some importance, which is now established; namely, the hop.
The white mulberry, of which there are a great number in the colony, grows most luxuriantly.
We have now growing in the colony plants of nearly every kind of European fruit-tree and shrub, all of which appear to thrive well, as do such of the tropical fruits as have had a fair trial—as the date and banana.
Of figs and vines, the fruit appears to be as good as that grown in any part of the world. Of the vine, one settler has half an acre planted. Indeed this, and other fruit-trees and plants, are becoming very generally cultivated throughout the settlement, especially the fig, vine, and peach, which here grow to a certainty from cuttings.
The olive, although regular plantations have not been made, grows remarkably fast, and there is one plant at Perth now in fruit.
Although garden vegetables cannot be grown in perfection during every mouth in the year on dry soils, yet in moist ground every description of vegetables can be grown at any season, and our supply of them is certainly very superior, with common culture, to what can be obtained in England, without artificial heat and the greatest care.
Of the various kinds of timber-trees and shrubs from Europe, Africa, &c., that have been tried here, all appear to grow remarkably well.
Bees have been landed at King George's Sound since our last report.
We are happy to state, that four flour mills are now in operation, and two others are now in course of erection; also, that brewing is becoming more general. And notwithstanding the scarcity of money that continues to be felt, we have ascertained that upwards of two thousand pounds are ready to be laid out in the purchase of sheep (including some already sent for), to be sent to the fine pastures on the Avon and the Hotham.
It has been ascertained that in upland, two, and in moist soils, three, crops of potatoes can be produced in the year.
|Wm. Locke Brockman.||Thomas N. Yule.|
|E. P. Barrett Lennard.||W. B. Andrews.|
|J. W. Hardy.||Henry Bull.|
|Geo. Fletcher Moore.||Richard G. Meares, late Captain|
|William Burges.||2nd Life Guards|
|William Tanner, Honorary Secretary.|
A few observations are suggested by this Report. The general reader's attention is first requested to what is there said of the quality of the Live Stock already in the colony. After enumerating the particular breeds of horses, cows, and sheep, the Report adds, "It is gratifying to know that the good breeds of the stock above mentioned bear such a proportion to the inferior that have been, and may be, imported from the neighbouring colonies, that we have within ourselves the foundation for an unlimited number of first-rate horses, cattle, and sheep."
The great importance of this circumstance, as connected with the future prosperity of the settlement, will be duly appreciated by those who have visited the Cape.* The colonists there are possessed of large flocks and herds, but they derive little profit from them, owing to the inferiority of the breeds, the nominal value of cattle in the interior being somewhere about 1l. and sheep 2s. a head, for the use of the butcher; and mares being sold for 5l. The "Fatherland" breed of cattle there is, however, a fine description of stock; and during the last twenty years some excellent horses have been bred, from the first-rate kinds introduced by Lord Charles Somerset and others. The colonies also seem now alive to the advantage of displacing their large-tailed sheep by Merinos; but the foregoing remarks are intended to apply to the general description of stock to be met with on the farms.
[* See Appendix, No. 10.]
In Van Diemen's Land, also, are large herds of cattle, only of value for their carcass, and as wild as deer, paying little more than the cost of catching and driving them to market. The writer, some years ago, purchased, at a cheap rate, as he then thought, two cows imported from that colony; but, after being a short time on his farm, one took to the woods, and was not seen afterwards; and the other strangled itself in an effort to break loose. The importance of avoiding these errors, into which the other colonies of Australia have fallen, at their commencement, will be appreciated by every practical farmer.
Another very important fact is confirmed by the preceding Report, viz., the existence of extensive pastoral districts in the interior. Alluding to one of these, Mr. Bland, a high authority on such a subject, is quoted as giving his opinion that it is "as healthy a sheep-run as can be found."
It appears, from the W. A. Journal, that several cargoes of sheep to the colony were expected, and on the point of being conveyed thither. The paper of the 18th of December last, states that Mr. S. G. Henty, a merchant at Fremantle, had freighted the "Adams" for 600 fine-woolled sheep, having previously made contracts with some of the settlers to deliver them at that port at 35s. a head. A subsequent number says,
"Mr. Sherwin, of Sydney, we hear, has written to his correspondent in this colony, intimating his resolution of visiting us in the 'Australian' freighted with sheep. This gentleman expects to be able to put on board about 1200. We may look for his arrival about March next."
In a previous paper it is mentioned that Mr. Taylor, the master of the Helen, a vessel trading between Sydney and Swan River, was expected to arrive there from the former port with stock and sheep on his own account, having purchased a grant in the York district, where he intended to place them.
Various accounts agree in stating that colonists in New South Wales are seriously turning their attention to Western Australia, and that some intend removing thither with their flocks and herds. One cause of this has been already alluded to, namely, the difficulty of finding pasture for their rapidly increasing flocks.
The extracts given from the Sydney Herald, when noticing the petition from King George's Sound, and which were inserted in the notes, will be fresh in the mind of the reader. If room allowed, such extracts might be greatly multiplied. Suffice it to say, that an increasing feeling of disgust is exhibited at the consequences a penal settlement inflicts, and that a perpetual dread exists of brutal outrages being committed, which latter circumstance alone occasions great uneasiness; but, operating along with the former, cannot fail to cause many to migrate; especially whenever the looked-for communication shall be opened between King George's Sound and Swan River. In the mean time a proposal has been started in New South Wales so bold and difficult of accomplishment, and yet related so circumstantially, that however chimerical the writer must confess it appears to him to be, yet considering the channel through which it is communicated, he feels called upon to give it publicity in the note below. At all events, the suggestion alone, the bare idea of so arduous a plan being in contemplation, and the mention of so large a sum offered by the people of Sydney for such an object, afford additional proofs that a considerable revolution of opinion respecting Western Australia has taken place there.*
[* The following is an extract from the Western Australia Journal, of the 27th of last December, and is taken from an article headed "Overland expedition from Sydney to Swan River." "A scheme, having for its object the conveyance overland from Sydney to this colony, of sheep, horses, and cattle, on a very extensive scale, has been set on foot in the neighbouring colonies ny Captain Bannister and Mr. Clint, both late residents in this colony,—and our Government, we are informed, have been solicited to extend their aid and countenance to the enterprize. No pecuniary aid is required; but in consideration of the magnitude of the undertaking, and the capital risked in the endeavours to accomplish this desirable object, a recompense is sought in a grant, in fee simple, of a certain (we believe moderate) number of acres of land, in proportion to the capital embarked, and the several persons engaged in the expedition. The capital is rated at 10,000l., and the persons comprising the expedition, it is estimated, will amount to about 24." Should this intelligence prove authentic, the author fully concurs in the inference drawn from it by the Editor in the following paragraph: "The proposition, emanating as it does from Captain Bannister, who was the first to penetrate through our distant wilds, affords an assurance, were further confirmation required, to our neighbours and the friends of the colony, that this country possesses advantages of a high order for the purposes to which this expedition is directed; and further establishes the fact of the absence of pasturage on the eastern coast for their rapidly extending flocks. The flocks and herds of New South Wales, it now appears, are driven as far as the Morumbidgee river for pasturage, and are increasing beyond the capabilities of the country to support. The sheep-owners, it is represented to us, are constantly and anxiously looking for districts more advantageously situated."]
It is satisfactory to learn from the W. A. Journal, that almost the whole of the crop of wheat is free from smut and drake. Taking the quantity of land cropped with grain last year to have been as stated in the Report, it is probable that it has not fallen much below a twelvemonth's consumption. To guard, however, against the recurrence of a scarcity, the Government will in future retain a corrective supply of flour in the Commissariat stores, which will be thrown open to the public whenever the price rises beyond a maximum fixed upon. As the want of seed alone has limited the aggregate of the harvest to the amount of acres stated, and the Government has begun to apply the above expedient, the expectation of the Agricultural Society, that there will be "a very considerable increase in the extent of land under cultivation next year," is likely to be fulfilled. This cannot fail very materially to bring down the price of bread in the colony. The price of fresh meat also seems likely to experience a great reduction. The Colonial Journal computes that about 700 wethers will be brought to market in the ensuing year, besides an increased number of bullocks, pigs, poultry, &c. Add to this the fresh importations and accumulating stock, and in the following year "we may reasonably calculate," continues that journal, "upon a very considerable fall in the prices." Though an infant colony must always be prepared for more or less of fluctuation in the price of the necessaries of life, yet the causes for uneasiness on that score, in a country where soil and climate are propitious, may be expected rapidly to diminish.
No apology can be necessary for introducing the following extract from a letter, dated Fremantle, Jan. 29, 18351 and addressed by Mr. James Stokes to Messrs. F. and C. E. Mangles. It is peculiarly valuable, as being written by a settler, who has just established himself in the colony as a fellmonger and woolstapler, &c., and who states that he has had nearly twelve years experience in the wool trade. He fully corroborates, as far as lie goes, the preceding statements.
"Having been in this part of the world now seven months, including great part of the winter and also the summer, I am convinced of the capabilities of the colony for the growth of fine wools, also as to the superiority of the climate, soil, and grasses, &c., for the prevention of diseases and the general health of sheep. I have visited the farms &c. on the Swan several times, and was much pleased with the progress made, as also with the growth of all sorts of fruit, vegetables, corn, &c. I am now just returned from an excursion into the interior of the country in the "York District," having been sixteen miles beyond York with a young man who has settled there as a sheep farmer. I proceeded on four or five miles more to the southward; and also, when I returned to York (to remain a few days, as per invitation, to Messrs. Bland and Trimmer's), I made a tour to the northward: thus travelling over an extent of near thirty miles of splendid country, well watered, with an abundance of grass, and a very superior feed for sheep, or that may be ploughed without almost any clearing, and very properly described by some parties in former journals as having more the appearance of a gentleman's park in England. I was highly gratified with the country. Messrs. Bland and Trimmer's flocks, and in fact all the farmers' sheep here, I cannot but speak of in the highest terms; and Mr. Arthur Trimmer informs me, that it is a very rare occurrence to lose a sheep, and they are particularly fortunate in the lambing season.
All parties now having money to invest, are about doing so in sheep, as they begin to see that wool will be the staple article of the country, I think the settlers here may congratulate themselves when they look back to Sydney in 1806. That settlement then, after being established about fifteen years, exported "one" bag of wool, and this colony, next shearing time, will have been established about six years and a half, when I calculate, with imports of sheep, and their increase, there will be from "thirty to forty" bags exported from here, all done by individual enterprize and private capital, free labour, &c., without having our "Society" contaminated by "Convicts."
Towards the expenditure of the civil service of the year 1834, amounting in all to 12,175l. 13s. 10½d., the sum of 6290l. 19s. 6½d. was provided by parliamentary grant. The remainder was met by the revenue derived from the sale of Crown property in the colony, namely, 3580l. 1s. 11¼d.; and by the proceeds of the internal revenue, amounting to the sum of 2304l. 12s. 5d.
When it is considered that the first land was given in September 1829, too late for growing crops till 1830, and that only five harvests have been reaped; and when—and it is the only way to arrive at a just conclusion—"we look," to use the words of the Report, "at the same period of any other colony on record," the settlers may justly be proud of the position in which they stand. How premature and rash have been the opinions to which some writers stand committed! Where are the proofs of that "failure," of which the author of the work entitled "England and America" speaks? And what can be said of the still more extravagant statements introduced into a very recent work from the pen of Colonel Napier, that the colony had existed for ten years! and that the Governor had made a requisition for 600 soldiers! * It is much to be regretted that the Colonel should have been so easily misled, and have taken apparently so little trouble to be correctly informed on the points to which he referred. The military force of the colony has lately been completed to 150 men; and the writer does not believe that any further increase has been contemplated or applied for by the Local Government, though that amount is certainly as small as is compatible with the wants of the colony.
[* "I have heard, but cannot vouch for the truth
of this assertion, that the Governor of Swan River Settlement
wants more soldiers, and has applied for his force to be
increased to 600 men!" From a work, entitled "colonization; particularly in southern australia:" &c. &c., by Colonel
Charles James Napier, C. B." p. xxvi. In a note in the succeeding
page, the Colonel quotes, on the Authority of the Hobart Town
papers, the following passage:—
"'The Swan River Settlement continues to be affected with a scarcity of provisions,' after being planted about ten years. Pray mark that, reader!"]
India—Colonization Company formed at Calcutta—Views of the Shareholders—Loss of the Mercury—Interest excited at Calcutta and Madras—Rearing of Horses for the India Market—Remount of British Cavalry at Madras, procured from Sydney—Position of Swan River—Its superior Advantages for that traffic.
Some slight reference has already been made to India, and to the favourable circumstances under which the voyage to and fro, between that part of our dominions and Swan River, may be performed. The following additional particulars will be interesting to those who have friends and relations in the East Indies.
In 1833, a company was formed at Calcutta for the purpose of trading with and settling in Western Australia. Among those principally concerned in establishing the company were, J. Pattle, Esq., of the Civil Service, and Colonel Becher. In the same year the bark Mercury was dispatched to King George's Sound on that undertaking, having on board Captain C. Cowles, H. C. M., and J. Calder (late of the firm of Mackintosh and Co.), W. Raynoe, G. Pattle, S. Beadle, jun., Esqrs., Messrs. T. Nisbett, S. Austen, two European officers, one carpenter, and seventy natives of India. This unfortunate bark was never after heard of, and being an old vessel, is supposed to have foundered at sea, as H. M. S. Hyacinth, dispatched in the subsequent year in search of her by Admiral Sir John Gore, could find no trace of the wreck. The gentlemen on board were preceding others interested in the adventure, in order to prepare the way, by selecting the most eligible sites for their future operations. Ten overseers, with five mechanics attached to each, and engaged for five years, were said to be on board, for the purpose of erecting buildings on the respective allotments of the members of the company; and while these improvements were carrying on, the vessel was to return to India for the families of the shareholders. The colony was meant to be the permanent residence of their families, but the gentlemen were to remain only during the summer months. It appears that the company intended having two or three trading vessels, to keep up a regular communication, and also one for whaling during the season. Messrs. J. Pattle and C. and G. Becher, in their petition to the Admiral for search to be made for the Mercury, state, that she sailed in October for Western Australia, "provided with an extensive establishment of men and means, for the purpose of obtaining land, and ultimately effecting colonization at that interesting settlement;" and they go on to say that, as the average passage from Calcutta to King George's Sound was a month, and the Mercury had not reached the colony in March 1834, they feared she had been wrecked on the Keeling or Coco Islands. While the writer deeply sympathizes with the relatives and friends of the unfortunate sufferers, he is happy to find that a strong attachment to the colony, "England's youngest child," is still maintained at Calcutta, and that Messrs. Pattle and Mangles, of the Civil Service, Colonels Becher and Frith, and Captain Lowes, were, according to the latest accounts, distinguished for the deep interest they were taking in its welfare. A letter of the 4th of November, from Mr. Mangles, mentions that one of the greatest sufferers by the loss of the Mercury has since been most active in promoting schemes having for their object the formation of another company, and the keeping up of a constant communication with the colony; "he desires," says Mr. M., "to get up a joint-stock company, 100 shares of 1500 rupees each, and I dare say it will fill. I will let you know hereafter how this matter progresses. I hope to see regular packets for passengers established." A letter from Calcutta, dated January last, states that a passenger-ship for Swan River and Van Diemen's Land was to sail early in that month; so that the proposed communication appears to have fairly commenced.
In Colonel Hanson, already alluded to, the colony possesses, at Madras, a zealous and influential advocate. When he visited Western Australia in 1831, the prejudice against it in public opinion was at its height; but he soon perceived that this prejudice had no foundation, and that, with reference to India, the colony was likely to prove an object of very peculiar interest. It had long been a desideratum with the officers of the various branches of the East India Company's Service to find a country, where, on retiring, they might have a climate that would renovate their impaired constitutions, and yet prove congenial to their acquired feelings, so long habituated to the intense heat of a tropical sun. In these particulars, speaking generally, the climate of England does not suit them. If it restores the constitutions of some, with many it does not agree, from the humidity of the atmosphere; while the cold and long-continued rains are agreeable to few, if any of them. The Colonel found that Western Australia answered the desired description. He came to it an invalid, and left it in rude health; while its climate, of which he had trial in the hottest season, was delightful to his feelings. But besides a healthy and pleasant climate, the servants of the Company are anxious to enjoy society resembling that which they have left behind them, or look forward to mix with, in England. On this head, Colonel Hanson, in his pamphlet, bears a most favourable testimony to the colony, where he found various families, including near relations of both sexes of his friends at Madras and in England, no way their inferiors in refinement of taste and suavity of manners. Recent accounts from Madras state that the Colonel had left that Presidency for King George's Sound, where he has a small grant, intending to reside there for a couple of years while on leave of absence.
The Calcutta Company, in selecting Western Australia as their place of abode or retirement, appear also to have had in view its eligibility as a place of residence for their families when in ill health, or for the education of the children of such members as continued to fill situations in India. Perhaps the most painful circumstance connected with the India Service is the separation of families. How many ladies are obliged to tear themselves from their husbands, either on account of their own ill health, or that of their children, on whose tender frames the deleterious climate soon begins to operate! These separations are often prolonged for years, and the same causes have obliged many a delicate female to make the long voyage a second time home and to India without any relation to protect her. Another frequent cause of separation is the anxiety to obtain for their children a suitable education. In Dr. Milligan's Report on the climate * the following passage occurs:—"The favourable opinion I have already expressed of the influence of this climate on European constitutions, and of the place as a residence for invalids from India, is strengthened by a further experience of two years." The Doctor goes on to show that the climate is peculiarly suited to the female sex, and "children," he adds, "thrive remarkably well."
[* Appendix, No. 3.]
With reference to education, the writer has heard of one family, including several females, who proceeded last year to the colony, with the view of devoting themselves to that object; and one or two estimable persons were so occupied when he left it.
The connexion of the colony with India will also be greatly promoted by a traffic in horses, when the colonists have had time to raise them in sufficient numbers to make the exportation of them an object. The native horses of India are not considered powerful enough for the mounting of our dragoons. When at the Mauritius in November 1833, the writer met Captain Collins of H. M. 13th Light Dragoons, and learned from him that he was proceeding to Sydney, to procure a remount of several hundred horses for the British cavalry at Madras, having contracted with the Government to receive for each, after they were landed and approved of there, the sum of 54l. or 55l., the writer forgets which. Capt. Collins mentioned that the number of horses likely to be wanted in subsequent years would be much greater, and expressed his intention of visiting King George's Sound,** with a view to the future establishment of a breeding stud there, being sensible that a considerable saving would thus accrue, as the expense and risk at present incurred in importing them from the Eastern coast are very great.
[** Now that the harbours in the vicinity of Swan River are well ascertained, and have been found to afford safe entrance and anchorage, they are likely to be resorted to in preference to King George's Sound for the above purpose; as it is of importance that vessels that have live stock on board, should not have to double Cape Leeuwin.]
On reference to a preceding part of this pamphlet *** it will be found that during the winter season in the southern hemisphere, a vessel may easily accomplish the voyage from Swan River to Madras in three weeks, and have fine weather the whole way; but the passage to India from the penal settlements at the same season would require at least twice that time, as the voyage would be along the East coast and through Torres Straits.
[*** See page 20.]
It is needless to dwell on the peculiar advantages Swan River would afford to the capitalist who embarked in the speculation of raising horses for the India market, where 150l. is no unusual price for a good riding horse. Powerful carriage horses are also in great request there.—The latest accounts from the colony mention that it had been proposed to form a company, having for its object the purchase of Sir James Stirling's fine stud of eight thoroughbred horses, lately arrived, and which are mostly, if not entirely, from Lord Egremont's stud. The suggestion seems to have arisen from an apprehension that part of the stud was about to be sent to another colony, and a strong desire to retain so valuable an acquisition.
Colonization—Colonel Napier and the "Self-supporting Principle"—Mistaken Policy pointed out—Article on Colonization in Archbishop Whately's Work.
Having now completed the view the writer had designed to take of the "State and Position of Western Australia," and brought down the information respecting it to the period of the latest arrivals, there remain a few points closely connected with the general principles of Colonial Legislation and Government, which he is desirous very briefly to notice. And first, though he has felt it incumbent upon him to notice certain errors into which Colonel Napier has inadvertently fallen respecting Western Australia, still he feels called upon to do justice to the validity of the reasons on which that officer has declined "the government of the South Australian colony, without troops, and the power to draw upon the British Government for money, in case of need."
"My demand," says the Colonel, "for soldiers
and money is not at variance with the 'self-supporting
principle of the new colony:' the expression 'self-supporting
principle' is as pretty a little philosophical expression as may
be; but reflection will show the commissioners that it is not
strictly applicable in the present case; for that the very
existence of the colony, as we see by the Act of Parliament,
depends upon a loan of 200,000l. from the good
folks in England; that is to say, upon extraneous support:
what then becomes of the 'self-supporting principle?' The
Commissioners must mean 'loan-supporting principle,' and
the word 'self' was an accidental slip of the pen? And how is my
demand at variance with this loan-supporting system? In case the
loan of 200,000l. should not prove sufficient to establish
the colony, to pay its own interest, and to defray the cost of
Government, till the state of the colony produces a revenue equal
to all this expense, I demanded to have a pledge from the British
Government, that it would supply the deficiency, and enable me to
protect the colony, which might otherwise be destroyed by the
miscalculation of people in London, on whose correctness
alone I do not think it safe to hang the destinies of some
thousands of people: therefore, my demand was that, in case of
need, the British Government should advance the loan, instead
of private people. How, in the name of common sense, this is at
variance with the 'loan-supporting principle' I cannot imagine,
and must leave the Commissioners to explain.
"As to the troops, I recommend sending out 200 British soldiers, because they would be by far the cheapest force that can be employed. Some force must be employed, and, besides being the most effectual force, English soldiers would save expense, both to the mother-country, and the colony. If the Commissioners abandon the really 'self-supporting' system of economy, they will soon see the result."
The writer trusts that the remarks into which he may be drawn by having had his attention turned to the work just quoted for the purpose of correcting the errors lately adverted to, will be taken in good part. Attached, as he is ready to acknowledge himself, to the colony of Western Australia, he is conscious of no feelings of hostility to the sister settlement, which it is indeed his cordial wish to serve, rather than to injure, by warning its Directors of those rocks and quicksands upon which he fears they may be running their vessel.—If they persist in their endeavour to found and establish their intended settlement without the aid of a military force, not only to protect the settlers from the aborigines, but to assist in keeping order among the colonists themselves, and to ensure obedience to the laws, they will, he feels assured, be only eventually serving the settlement of Western Australia. His experience and observation of what settlers ordinarily can accomplish in an infant colony, and his conviction that few in any hundred of them possess all the requisites necessary for very speedily mastering the difficulties they have to encounter, induce him to caution the projectors against the line of policy which they propose to adopt, in attempting to dispense with public money, and especially with troops.
As to any jealousy of the sister colony influencing the mind of the writer, he utterly disclaims it. It may be as well, in confirmation of this, to state, that in his opinion, the situation, the geographical position alone, of Western Australia, gives it a great and permanent advantage. That in addition to this, it is no trifling point in favour of the latter, that it has the start of the new settlement, and that many who leave Great Britain to go to South Australia, impatient of the total absence of the comforts they leave behind them, will be likely to transfer themselves and their capital to the colony which has passed through the initiatory stage. These reasons alone are sufficient in the writer's opinion to prove that the capital, and the energies which the friends of the South Australian project may be able to call forth, will, under any circumstances, benefit the settlement of Western Australia. But, if to these causes, which nothing can keep from operating in a greater or less degree in the direction described, a third be superadded—if the ordinary precautions for the security of the settlers are to be dispensed with, and they are to be constantly liable to be called off from their proper pursuits, to defend themselves and the infant settlement—it requires no gift of prophecy to predict, that the result will be, a rapid and general migration, as opportunity and means may offer, to other colonies; and that as Western Australia is near at hand, and in the full enjoyment of free institutions, it cannot but largely participate in the benefits that must result from the failure of so improvident an attempt as that in which Colonel Napier has declined risking his reputation.
The daily employment of settlers in a new colony demands and engrosses their attention to a degree that people at home, who have always been used to a long-established and completely organized state of society, are but little prepared to conceive. The occupations of such persons being pastoral as well as agricultural, lead to their distribution over a considerable extent of country. A colony also like the one proposed, though happily not intended as a penal settlement, will have its ports open to all who have the means and inclination to find their way thither; and granting that it could commence with a greater proportion of settlers of character and intelligence than ever yet found their way to the shores of a colony—still the stream of emigration will bear along with it many who have not the qualities that render them desirable to a new settlement, and who soon evince they need the restraint of a strong and efficient executive.
Again, many who are good and well-conducted members of an old community in which they have been brought up, are greatly indebted, for the character they possess, to those restraints which it has wisely, and from long experience, provided. The entire change of habits, and the wider range which a new settlement involves, not to mention the contact and neighbourhood of tribes in the lowest state of barbarism, have more or less a relaxing tendency as regards the moral texture of such minds; and, if the laws of the colony into which they are transplanted are not strictly maintained, but, on the contrary, impose little or no restraint, society must of course deteriorate, and the entire community ultimately suffer. It is indeed a truism, but one involving grave considerations, that it is much easier to prevent the disorganization of a community, than to reunite and restore it when once it has been suffered to lapse into disorder and demoralization.
It is also of the utmost importance to bear in mind, that a colonial Government that cannot secure, in ordinary cases, protection to the settlers and their property, must operate most injuriously and cruelly upon the aborigines themselves. These encompass them on every side—they cannot help doing so. Each tribe has its recognised boundaries and landmarks. If but one is disturbed, it experiences a difficulty in falling back, and retiring upon the tribes in its rear, who are similarly situated in their turn. They continue, therefore, to hover about their ancient grounds, and depend for their subsistence upon them. The more incompetent the colonial establishments to keep order in the colony and prevent depredation, the more liable will be the dispersed settlers to take the law into their own hands; or rather, to make law for-themselves, and unreservedly to execute such law as they think fit, or as passion or caprice may dictate, in every case in which the natives may be involved. The mere feeling of insecurity has this tendency; and the result of such a state of things would be the gradual extermination of the natives, while the sanguinary and lawless spirit engendered and encouraged, would re-act, and be productive of frightful consequences to the settlers themselves, continuing to pervade the community long after the aborigines had ceased to be objects of terror.
The writer has ventured thus freely, and at greater length than he had intended, to express his opinion, from the deep conviction he entertains that a serious error in colonial policy is about to be committed, which may still be corrected before any mischievous consequences ensue.* In the mean time he congratulates the colonists of Western Australia, that no such visionary experiment is operating there.
[* The following is an extract from Colonel Napier's review of the letter he received in reply to his demand for money and troops, from the South Australian Commissioners, and which letter bears date May 22, 1835:—
Paragraph 4. "'The most flourishing British colonies in North America were founded without pecuniary aid from the mother-country, and without the aid of military force, though planted in the immediate neighbourhood of warlike Indian nations.'"—See the Commissioners' Letter.
On this sentence the Colonel makes the following
"Observation:"—"I have only to refer to any history
of the British colonies in North America, to contradict the
assertion contained in this paragraph. By such reference the
Commissioners will see that, for many years, these infant
colonies struggled with the greatest hardships, and that
some were entirely destroyed! When Pennsylvania, which
suffered the least, was granted to Penn in 1682, the country had
been previously occupied for above fifty years: it had numerous
settlers, and was not a desert. Besides, he went with Quakers. If
all the colonists going to Australia were Quakers, and that I was
William Penn, neither would I ask for troops! But what was the
consequence of the peaceful government established by that great
man? It was this, that in 1764 a body of Presbyterians chose, in
their zeal against 'the heathen,' to massacre a whole
tribe of harmless Indians; and 'the weakness of the
Government,' says Robert Proud, the historian of
Pennsylvania, 'was not able to punish these murderers, nor to
chastise the insurgents.' For my own part, I have no ambition
to be at the head of such a milk-and-water colonial government,
and, while fancying myself a governor, discover that I was
only a football! But we find the great Penn himself
complaining that it was controversy, not
government,' in Pennsylvania. Let us then put Penn and his
Quakers out of our heads.
"All other settlements were retarded in their progress by wars. The want of regular soldiers obliged the settlers to arm, instead of attending lo their peaceful avocations. Dr. Trumbull, in his History of Connecticut, says,
'These infant settlements were surrounded by savages.' (So the Australian colony will be.) They conceived themselves in danger when they went out and when they came in; every man was a soldier, which produced war, and of course injury to the colonies.' Thus it appears that, contrary to the assertion in the Commissioners' letter, there was 'a military force;' and, had it been of a proper description, the colonies would not have suffered injury.
"In 1606 King James formed a colony in America, 'under the superintendence of a council in England, composed of few persons of consideration and talents.' King James made many blunders during his reign, and this seems to have been one of them! These Councillors directed the colony in Virginia. For near twenty years, under their superintendence, the colony suffered all kinds of misery, and was 'a prey to folly, crime, riot, and insubordination.' During that time 'one hundred and fifty thousand pounds and nine thousand people had been sent from England;' and when these Commissioners (whose power it was at last deemed necessary to abolish, and who thought they could govern across the Atlantic) were upset, there remained but eighteen hundred miserable colonists in Virginia! And moreover, the famous Captain Smith, a man of extraordinary courage and talents, governed this colony for a time, and by his great abilities prevented its total ruin. Once these wild colonists expelled him, and afterwards, when danger pressed, elected him President! Another colony, planted near Cape Hatteras, disappeared altogether, and was never heard of more! Twenty-one years are now past since I landed, at the head of 900 British troops, on this very spot, near Cape Hatteras; and, from the nature of that coast, I can easily imagine that a colony might be there surprised and totally destroyed, either by enemies or sickness. Some of the Australian Commissioners were, probably, then at school, so I may take the liberty, appertaining to grey hairs, and tell them that colonies, like camps, are exposed to many dangers, and, among others, those of site, which gentlemen, living always in London, are not exactly the people most fitted either to estimate or provide against."—p. xx—xxiii.]
Whenever that colony shall have arrived at the point at which it can be fairly considered capable of providing for its own establishments, no principle can be more equitable than that it should be called upon to do so; but, till then, if the colony is to be suitably maintained as a part of the British dominions, it is essential that the mother country continue to extend her aid.
But hastening from these questions, the writer cannot let this opportunity pass without expressing the gratification he has experienced while considering the grand and statesman-like principles propounded in an article which forms No. III. of the Appendix to Archbishop Whately's "Thoughts on Secondary Punishments," and which consists of "Suggestions for the Improvement of our System of Colonization," written by a friend of that Prelate. After noticing the instruction to be derived from the ancients, with respect to the settlement and growth of colonies, and contrasting their success with that of modern European States, the writer thus continues:—
"The main cause of this difference may be stated in a few words. We send out colonies of the limbs, without the belly and head;—of needy persons, many of them mere paupers, or even criminals; colonies made up of a single class of persons in the community, and that the most helpless, and the most unfit to perpetuate our national character, and to become the fathers of a race whose habits of thinking and feeling shall correspond to those which, in the mean time, we are cherishing at home. The ancients, on the contrary, sent out a representation of the parent state—colonists from all ranks. We stock the farm with creeping and climbing plants, without any trees of firmer growth for them to entwine round. A hop-ground left without poles, the plants matted confusedly together, and scrambling on the ground in tangled heaps, with here and there some clinging to rank thistles and hemlocks, would be an apt emblem of a modern colony. They began by nominating to the honourable office of captain or leader of the colony one of the chief men, if not the chief man of the state,—like the queen bee leading the workers. Monarchies provided a prince of the blood royal; an aristocracy its choicest nobleman; a democracy its most influential citizen. These naturally carried along with them some of their own station in life—their companions and friends; some of their immediate dependants also—of those between themselves and the lowest class; and were encouraged in various ways to do so. The lowest class again followed with alacrity, because they found themselves moving with, and not away from, the state of society in which they had been living. It was the same social and political union under which they had been born and bred; and to prevent any contrary impression being made, the utmost solemnity was observed in transferring the rites of Pagan superstition. They carried with them their gods—their festivals—their games; all, in short, that held together, and kept entire the fabric of society as it existed in the parent state. Nothing was left behind that could be moved,—of all that the heart or eye of an exile misses. The new colony was made to appear as if time or chance had reduced the whole community to smaller dimensions, leaving it still essentially the same home and country to its surviving members. It consisted of a general contribution of members from all classes, and so became, on its first settlement, a mature state, with all the component parts of that which sent it forth. It was a transfer of population, therefore, which gave rise to no sense of degradation, as if the colonist were thrust out from a higher to a lower description of community."—p. 190-2.
The foregoing writer not only contrasts this with all that happens in a modern colony, but particularly traces its results in the United States of America, where, he says, whatever admixture they had of the higher ranks of the British community, "the advantage, such as it was, was accidental," and formed "no part of the legislative project." He adds,—"our later colonists have not had even this security and ill-administered aid;" and, after remarking that "honour, rank, and power, are less ruinous bribes than money, and yet more to the purpose, inasmuch as they influence more generous minds," he maintains that if some half dozen gentlemen of influence and competent fortune were thus tempted out, their united influence would draw after them numbers of respectable emigrants, including many a clergyman, "whose acquirements would give him weight with the better sort, and whose character and talents would, at the same time, answer for the particular situation in which he would be placed."
"Such a colony," says he, "will be united to us by ties to which one of a different constitution must be a stranger. It will have received from us, and will always trace to us, all its social ingredients. Its highest class will be ours—its gentry ours—its clergy ours—its lower and its lowest ranks all ours; all corresponding and congenial to our manners, institutions, and even our prejudices. Instead of grudgingly casting our morsels to a miserable dependant, we shall have sent forth a child worthy of its parent, and capable of maintaining itself."—p. 199.
An apology is due to the writer of the splendid article from which the above extracts are taken, for the very imperfect attempt at analysis which has been made. The whole paper is well worthy the consideration of the public and the legislature; and it is to be hoped that the "detailed scheme," to which that article is announced as only prefatory, will be speedily forthcoming.
A FEW CONCLUDING HINTS TO EMIGRANTS.
Before the writer takes his final leave, he would venture to throw out a few suggestions on the subject of Emigration. Conscious of the responsibility he incurs in putting forth statements which may lead individuals to take a step of so much importance to themselves and their families, as the selection of a distant colony for their future abode, he would strongly urge upon them to examine well the prospects which they are leaving at home, and not to act precipitately. They have to reflect whether—be a colony ever so inviting—it is worth their while to abandon old connexions and well-established institutions. They have also to consider whether, favourable as the opening may really be, they are the kind of persons for whom it is likely to answer. A mistake on either of these points may be ruinous to their ultimate peace and happiness. In the "Letters and Journals" of Mr. Moore, to which reference has already more than once been made, there is a passage bearing on this point, that well deserves consideration.
"As to coming out, I am still reluctant in giving advice to any one on the subject. It is a serious responsibility to hold out strong inducements, when success depends so much upon the taste, bodily fitness, and preparation for it. To come here costs much; a considerable sum is also further necessary to support you until you can maintain yourself. Land must be paid for—if obtained from Government, at the rate of 5s. per acre.". . . . "Two or three stout hard-working brothers, or a father with a grown-up family able and willing to assist him, with some money to establish themselves in rough comfort and plenty, would be independent in a few years; but there must be no squeamishness as to food, nor daintiness as to luxuries; it is a plodding, matter-of-fact, business-like and hard-working life, until you get yourself established; with very little of that romance and adventure about it, which is so tempting and alluring to young minds. Yet it has its pleasures; but it is quite right that people should prepare themselves for what it really is. I am still unwilling to recommend emigration to any one; for the sort of life is so different from that at home, that many would be discontented with it, and blame the adviser instead of themselves. I had made up my mind to endure every kind of hardship and privation for three years at least; yet here, at the end of two years (Oct. 1833), I live almost as well as I could wish, and certainly lead a healthier, and happier, and less anxious life,* now that the first struggle is over."
[* In this last sentence there appears to be some obscurity. From conversations the author has bad with Mr. Moore on the subject, he has no doubt that the comparison intended to be instituted was between the life Mr. Moore was then passing as a settler, and that which he had led before he went out to the colony.]
The writer, after carefully reviewing what has been stated in the preceding pages respecting the colony of Western Australia, is satisfied that he has not put forth exaggerated statements, but has given, to the best of his ability, a fair and impartial account of the actual state of things. While, on the one hand, he has felt called upon to notice incorrect reports that have been published, to the prejudice of the colony, he has, on the other, studiously rejected exaggerated or erroneous accounts that have been circulated in its favour.
Those who may be about to emigrate cannot be too often reminded that judgment, perseverance, and fortitude, are as essential to their success as good climate and soil, and moderate means. It is true that the colony having attained to its present position, much of the difficulty of the enterprize is removed, and many may now prosper who would not have done so originally; but without some portion of those valuable qualities above specified, the emigrant, under the most favourable circumstances, ought not to expect success.
A colonist, at Swan River, who had seen a great deal of vicissitude, in a recent letter to a friend in England writes thus:—"We have laid the foundation for all new comers to build on: we have purchased dear-bought experience—knowledge to guide all who may feel a wish for enterprize. Were it in our power to recal the time that is past, and were we now to come here, with about 100l. in cash, together with a few of the many useful things we brought out, we should be certain of prosperity."
The emigrant who has abundant pecuniary resources to draw upon, will still find his advantage in beginning on a moderate scale, and in always keeping a considerable portion of capital in hand, till he can thoroughly judge of the calls there may be upon him. The neglect of this caution has given rise to much difficulty and embarrassment, even where the original means of the settler have been large. The sphere of his operations can easily be extended afterwards.
If a capitalist, such as is here contemplated, intend to make the breeding of sheep his principal pursuit, he will do well to take out with him a couple of shepherds, half-a-dozen Saxon or Spanish rams, and a few dogs, in the first instance; and to contract with respectable parties in Van Diemen's Land or Sydney, for the landing of ewes at Swan River. Each of those places has its peculiar advantages. At Sydney the wools are finer; while the distance in the other case is less, and the reduction of freight in proportion. At both places Merino sheep abound. As the capitalist would probably stop at the Cape, he might make arrangements for taking on board some of the Father-land breed of cattle, which is deservedly esteemed. The writer has had cows of this kind which were considered equal to the Durham and Devonshire breeds.
In choosing sites for building, care should be taken to provide against those occasional floods from which the settlement is not exempt, though several years sometimes may elapse before they recur. The early Swan-River settlers were fortunate in following a season of this kind, which put them on their guard. Another evil, however, against which some of them have not sufficiently provided, and in consequence have suffered very severely, is fire. It is of great importance in a country where, at times, trees and vegetation are greatly dried up with sun and heat, to keep the space around a dwelling clear and open. The thatched roof is rather objectionable for a similar reason, though in many situations it may at first be in some measure necessary. The accumulation of farming produce, corn and hay ricks, &c., at a particular spot, should also be avoided, as attended with danger.
In reply to a question that has frequently been put to the writer, as to how much it would be necessary for a person to take out with him to commence as an agriculturist or sheep farmer, on a moderate scale, his answer has been from 800l. to 1000l.; and after canvassing the subject of late with different individuals, who have been for several years in the colony, some agreeing with him, and others rating the requisite sum much higher, the writer would still adhere to that opinion; but the emigrant, to succeed with this sum, must begin at first in a careful way, and determine to put his own shoulder to the wheel, and consent to work with his own men, as well as to direct their labours. A fourth or fifth of the means of such a settler might be invested in articles that would sell well in the colony; as salt-pork, butter, American flour in casks (if cheap), some strong shoes and leather, hops, porter, &c. He should take for his own use wearing apparel for one or two years, calculating upon eight summer months and four winter months, and strong shoes for two or three years, with a good stock of flannel, and some mattresses;—also a plough, a small cart, a pair of harrows, and a few spades and shovels, some plain carpenter's tools, axes; &c., and spare handles. If the emigrant last described intends to be a sheep-farmer, he should take out two or three Merino rams, and some sheep-dogs.
With respect to servants, the emigrant should have two men understanding arable and sheep farming, or what would be better, a married man, with one or two sons above the age of ten. Much of his comfort and success will depend on his servants; the settler therefore cannot be too scrupulous in his inquiry into their character for integrity, and fidelity to the masters with whom they have lived. It will be for the ultimate benefit, as well as comfort, of the emigrant that the terms of agreement he makes with his people be liberal; so that, on reaching the colony, they should not be excited to discontent by any great disproportion between their wages and the current rate in the colony. Letters from the settlement, addressed to the writer, and that come down to the 26th of January last, state, "there is no cause to complain of the now current price of agricultural labour; very good hands can be procured at 30s. per month." In addition to this, are the servants' rations, which hitherto have cost more than the wages, but they may now be calculated at less. The entire cost of a shepherd has been from 60l. to 70l., owing to servants of this class, especially good ones, being scarce. The expense of taking out servants is about 20l. each, and children one-third or one-half of that amount, according to their ages. The writer would not advise that the indenture should be for a longer period than three or at most four years, after which the servant would be at liberty to leave his master, or enter into a new agreement with him. In suggesting liberality in agreements entered into with servants, as good policy on the part of the emigrant, the writer would at the same time have it prospective, in order that every inducement should be held out to good conduct and fidelity. With this view the wages should be somewhat low for the first year, and increase step by step each succeeding year. The writer would recommend there being inserted in the indenture a clause to the effect that if, on completion of the period named therein, the servant has fulfilled his engagement to the satisfaction of his employer, the former should become entitled to a bonus of from thirty to fifty acres of good land. Should the servant choose then to retire on his land, the master would thus secure in him a valuable neighbour, to assist in harvest and at other seasons of need.
The mode of paying shepherds adopted on the borders of Scotland is deserving of imitation. Having lately been trying in that quarter to get men of character to send out this season to his farm in the colony, the writer has learned that shepherds in Selkirkshire receive for wages in lieu of money the product of a certain number of sheep. The average wages for the last two years there are calculated at from 28l. to 30l. for the best hands; while for the nine years preceding, they have been but from 18l. to 20l. Married shepherds, besides the product of the sheep, have a cow's grass worth 6l., a free house and garden in value 5l. or 6l., and oatmeal to the extent of 5l. more. By the mode of payment adopted on the borders, the vigilant superintendence of the shepherd is in a great measure secured, by his interests being combined with those of his employer.
The emigrant should resolutely avoid engaging to supply his servants with rations of spirits; a practice which has been productive of very baneful results in the demoralization of servants, while it inflicts a heavy tax on the master. Good colonial beer would form an excellent substitute, and it might be a stipulation in the indenture that the servant should be supplied with it whenever there was any ready means of obtaining it; but the settler, after the second year, ought to brew for his own establishment.
For the first two years the emigrant should be satisfied to live in such a cottage as he could erect with the aid of his own people—one of a description similar to that mentioned in pp. 52 and 53. This he will find a sufficiently comfortable dwelling both in summer and winter. The cottage should be contiguous to the best site the land affords for a permanent residence, so that it might serve for a kitchen and servants' apartments when the farm-house was completed; but the prudent settler will not undertake this latter work till he is enabled to do it out of the profits of his farm, whether pastoral or agricultural; and then it should be a good substantial building of stone or brick. It need not then, be expensive, as the settler could in the intermediate time be procuring the materials, either by the labour of his people, or by barter from his neighbours. If the means of the emigrant are ample enough to render it unnecessary for him to put his own hand to the work, the writer would still advise him to take part with his people in active labour, as well as to plan and superintend. This will prevent time hanging heavy on his hands, as he will soon become interested in the simplest operations, and the want of society will then be little felt. An additional advantage would be that the servants would work so much better from seeing their master not sparing himself. The occasional labour of the master may be safely reckoned equal, at least, to the work of an additional servant, even where his people are trustworthy; but if they are eye-servants, requiring to be watched, the employer's superintendence will make a much greater difference.
It only remains for the writer now to point out the benefit the emigrant may derive from proceeding at once to the colony at the present juncture. A letter from a friend with whom he is in correspondence, dated January 24, after mentioning how severely the deplorable condition of the markets for the last four years had pressed upon many of the first settlers, obliging some to part with their farms, contains this passage—"In the end, I certainly think this change will conduce to the stability of the colony; inasmuch as the land is gradually getting into the hands of really practical and laborious farmers, who can produce more, and live at far less cost, than a superior rank of farmers." Persons arriving now in the colony may purchase from an impoverished settler a grant of from 3000 to 4000 acres of good land, and well situated, in the district of York or elsewhere, for from 200l. to 300l. perhaps; but when this land is no longer in the market, the emigrant must purchase land from the Local Government, in situations beyond those at present occupied, and at the price of 5s. per acre, being the minimum fixed by his Majesty's Government.
It may be of importance to emigrants purposing to go out to Western Australia, as well as to the friends of persons already settled there, to be informed that Messrs. Mangles, East India Agents, of Austin Friars, London, who have sent one of their vessels, the Hero, this year to the colony, have announced their intention to send a regular packet thither every year, to sail on the 1st of June, with passengers and freight, and also to put on one or more additional vessels, as occasion may require. The remaining ships bound for the colony this year are, the Giraffe, to sail on the 10th of August, and the Briton, about the same time.
Having now touched upon all the various topics that have occurred to him, and endeavoured to discharge what appeared to be a duty both to the public and the colonists, in making known the actual condition of the settlement, the writer has only to hope that a beneficial purpose will be answered. As there never, perhaps, was a period when a spirit of emigration more extensively prevailed, he is induced to believe that the appearance of this publication at such a juncture will be found not unseasonable. Should it be the means of rightly directing any of his countrymen who may now be looking out for a field of honourable and successful enterprize, he will consider himself amply recompensed for any labour the task has imposed. In his judgment—on a calm and deliberate review of the whole subject—the colony of Western Australia is calculated to yield a rich return to capital, industry, and perseverance, and appears to be destined by Providence to take a distinguished rank among the dependencies of the British Empire.
A TABLE showing the variations of the Thermometer and Barometer at Perth, Western Australia, from 1st January to 31st December 1831.
N.B. The Thermometer stood in a thatched hut, not well situated to receive the sea breeze. In comparison with one kept in a brick house near the river, a difference of 15 degrees was observable, being so much lower during the hot months in the latter, especially during the prevalence of the sea breeze. The observations were taken at 7 in the morning, 2 in the afternoon, and 7 in the evening. (Signed.) W. Milligan, M.D., 63rd Regiment.
Extract from a Meteorological Journal of King George's Sound, Western Australia, for the year ending 30th April 1832, by A. Collie, Esq., Colonial Surgeon.
|Mean Temperature.||No. of Days' Rain||Total Quantity of Rain in the|
|8 A.M.||Sunset.||in the Month.||month by Pluviameter.|
The favourable opinion I have already expressed of the influence of this climate on European constitutions, and of the place as a residence for invalids from India, is strengthened by a further experience of two years.
I have met with several individuals here, who on leaving England were great sufferers from dyspepsia, and disorders of the digestive organs, generally from the nervous affections which so often accompany these—from hypochondria, from asthma, and from bronchial diseases—who have recovered their health in a remarkable degree since their arrival. Some of slight figure have become more robust and stronger. Parturition with the female sex is expeditious and safe; being accomplished by the efforts of nature alone, within from three to six hours. No woman has died in childbirth in this colony since its commencement, nor am I aware of any who died within a month after.
Children thrive remarkably well, and I may add every description of live stock, although collected from different climates,—England. India, South America, Africa, &c., and various plants and vegetables, collected from as many different sources, find here a congenial temperature.
Indeed I am disposed to conclude, that when the settlers are well lodged and fed, and the country more cultivated and improved, but few diseases will be met with; I might perhaps say, only dysentery and ophthalmia, and these of a mild character.
(Signed) Wm. Milligan, M.D.
|His Majesty's sloop Sulphur,
10th December, 1832.
In compliance with your Excellency's request, as to my opinion of the climate of Swan River, I beg leave to state, as a climate, with regard to health, I am not aware of any other that can be compared with it.
As a proof of its salubrity, during three years his Majesty's sloop Sulphur was employed upon that station, not a single death, and very few important cases of disease, occurred; notwithstanding the very great exposure of her men, not only to wet, but also night air, in consequence of her boats having been a great deal employed at a distance from the anchorage. When exploring the country for several days, and sometimes weeks, these people have been exposed to the sun, fatigued in the evening, after a day's excursion, slept in the open air, and that repeatedly in wet weather, without suffering in the slightest degree.
Another point ought also to be taken into consideration—the debilitated state of those constitutions which were undergoing this exposure, in consequence of having been so long a period upon salt provisions and without vegetable diet—out of three years and ten months the Sulphur was employed upon the Swan River service, her crew were only 256 days upon fresh diet. A life of this description in any other climate, I have no hesitation in asserting, would have been productive of the most serious disease.
I have, &c. &c.
To his Excellency Governor Stirling, &c. &c.
Cockburn Sound. In approaching the land keep the Haycock on Garden Island N.E.½.N. (magnetic) till within 1½ miles of Garden Island, when you will have passed over the five fathoms' bank, and will be in nine to eleven fathoms water; then steer to the northward, till the Challenger Buoy comes in one with the Stags and Spit Beacons: a pilot will then come on board, but you may safely run into Cockburn Sound by the chart, keeping the Challenger and Stags-on the right hand, and the Middle Beacon and Flat Ledge on the left. The Snapper Buoy and Pointer Beacon show the south passage into Owen's Anchorage or into Gage's Roads. Not knowing if the buoys and pilots are complete in the channel into Cockburn Sound, it would be advisable for ships to make Rottnest Island; keep it on your right hand and run for Gage's Roads, as off Fremantle you-are sure of getting a pilot, when you may anchor either in the Roads or Owen's Anchorage, according to the season. Owen's Anchorage is good and safe at all seasons of the year; and, in my humble opinion, there is not the slightest necessity to go into Cockburn Sound, unless a ship requires to be hove down, when Port Royal will be found well adapted for that purpose; as his Majesty's ship Success was hove keel out, during the most tempestuous winter (1830), and was never obliged to be rightened through any swell setting in to the Anchorage. The number of ships that were driven on shore during that winter, was entirely owing to their not being properly found with anchors and cables, and want of common precaution. The masters of the ships had all sufficient warning and opportunity to run into Owen's Anchorage from the Governor (Sir James Stirling); besides, long before the gale came on, the barometer fell so much as to make us keep an anchor-watch on board the Sulphur, which we very seldom had occasion to do.
From March to the beginning of September gales of wind from N.W. to S.W. may be expected on the coast. They usually commence at N.N.E., and are always preceded by very great depression of the barometer. As they haul round to the westward, they are accompanied by heavy squalls of wind and rain, and generally blow most heavily when at N.W. Before the wind gets to the S.W. the glass is seen to rise suddenly, and the change generally takes place in a heavy squall; after which the weather becomes clear and moderate.
Ships should not run for the land during a gale, unless they are well acquainted with it, and certain of, their latitude and longitude. In running for the land, in blowing weather, I have often been certain of my reckoning by the soundings.
The appearance of Rottnest and Garden Island is low and sandy; but, in clear weather, the main land will be seen distinctly over them.
The distance from Owen's Anchorage to Scott's Jetty, in Fremantle Bay, is about two miles and a quarter.
King George's Sound, with its Harbours.
In running into King George's Sound there is no danger through either channel. A spit runs off the N.E. end of Michaelmas Island, but shoals gradually to the shore. After you are inside the Island, you may anchor in any part of the Sound in moderate weather. There are two secure Harbours in the Sound, Princess Royal and Oyster; the former will admit ships drawing eighteen or nineteen feet water; the latter vessels drawing ten feet. Wood, water, and ballast, may be obtained at both places.
To Capt. F. C. Irwin, &c. &c. &c.
The following account of the buoys at the entrance of the above harbours has been extracted from the "Nautical Magazine" for March 1835, into which it was copied from the "Perth Gazette," forwarded to that publication by the Surveyor-General, Lieutenant J. S. Roe, R N.
The Challenger Buoy, painted black, is moored in six fathoms water, about twenty-five yards to the north-east of the Challenger Rock, which is nearly awash, and is situated near the north-western termination of Sea Reef; extending a mile and a quarter in a north-west direction from the north-west point of Garden Island. This buoy is visible from a ship's deck, through a spy-glass, at the distance of five or six miles, and is a principal object to be made out by a ship approaching the channel between Carnac and Garden Islands.
Stags Beacon, painted black, is placed about three furlongs in the direction of S. 65° E. (magnetic) from the Challenger buoy, in five fathoms water, about five yards to the N.N.W. of a small rock, with only six or seven feet water upon it. This rock is the northernmost of many which rise out of five and six fathoms water, and from a reef called the "Stags."
Mid Beacon, painted white, is situated opposite to the Challenger buoy, in nearly four fathoms water, and in a line with the outer small island off the south point of Carnac, towards which it is intended shortly to remove it about eighty yards, into three fathoms on the southern edge of Middle Shoal. Mid Beacon will then float at the distance of 100 yards to the S.S.W. of eight and nine feet water on the Middle Shoal.
Flat Ledge Beacon, painted white, is placed in three fathoms and a half water, about 130 yards N.W. by W: from the Flat Ledge, a small reef, covered by only six feet water. This beacon will be shortly removed into three fathoms, about 130 yards in a south-east direction, to the south side of the Flat Ledge.
A ship may safely enter Cockburn Sound by passing to the north of the Challenger Buoy and Stags Beacon, and to the south of the Mid and Flat Ledge Beacons; steering S.E. by E. ¾ E. in Mid-channel. This course may be prolonged until the Flat Ledge and Mid Beacons are brought in a line; then haul up to the east, until the largest rock of the Stragglers, appearing as two small hammocks, comes in sight round the north-east point of Carnac. This will clear the north-east spit, which extends three quarters of a mile from the north-east point of Garden Island, and a course may then be shaped for any part of the Sound.
To seaward of the Challenger, the principal dangers to be avoided are situated on the Five Fathoms Bank, and consist of Seaward Reef, a small patch, six or seven feet under water, about three miles and a quarter W. by N. (magnetic) from the north end of Carnac; and the Casuarina Shoal, with one and two fathoms upon it, about two miles and a half of W. ½ N. from the north-west point of Garden Island. Further to the south lies Coventry Reef, a small patch of rocks just awash, hearing S 18½° W., and distant eight miles from some remarkable sand-hills on the coast near the middle of Garden Island, called "Sandown."
Lambert Channel, through which his Majesty's ship Alligator got to sea from Owen's Anchorage on the 19th of December, is a valuable outlet to sea or to Cockburn Sound, from Owen's Anchorage or Gage's Roads, without passing round Rottnest Island, which, during strong northerly winds that would distress a ship in either of these situations, may be considered almost impracticable. In the absence of means at the present time for buoying this channel, it may be found by keeping the summit of Buckland Downs a very little open to the south of the Mewstone, in the direction of N.E. ¾ E. and S.W. ¾ W. (magnetic). This mark will carry a ship through in not less than four fathoms, and about 100 yards to the northward of a small rock four or five feet under water, which is detached about a cable's length to the north-east of the breakers on the western bank, and is called the Passage Rock. At a cable's length to the north-west of it is a small patch of two fathoms and three-quarters. A ship must pass between them in four to five fathoms water, and then haul up to the W. by S. to avoid a small shoal spot with 3¼ upon it.
The soundings will then quickly deepen to 7, 5, 6, 8, and 9 fathoms, and a course may be shaped to pass half a mile to the westward of the Challenger Buoy. This channel being narrow, and not yet buoyed off, should not be attempted by a stranger without previously securing a boat or conspicuous cask near the Passage Rock, and another near the patch of two fathoms and three-quarters to the north-westward of it.
Medina Beacon, painted red, and the Alligator Beacon, white, point out the channel into Owen's Anchorage. The former is placed in four fathoms water, on the northern edge of the Parmelia Bank, which extends from Woodman's Point to Carnac; and the Alligator Beacon is in five fathoms water, on the southern spit of the Success Bank. They are nearly a mile apart, in a line between Fremantle and the Haycock on Garden Island, with seven to nine fathoms water between them. A ship should steer between them, and, after passing over a bank of three fathoms water, bring up about a mile from the shore, and nearly the same distance to the south-eastward of a beacon which has been placed in two fathoms water, at fifty yards to the westward of the fish-rocks. Should this beacon disappear, the Fish-rocks may be found by keeping the largest Seal-rock on with the south-end of the Mewstone, and bringing the extremity of Rous Head in a line with a conspicuous large sand patch on the coast to the northward.
The Snapper Buoy and Pointer Beacon, as represented in the printed chart of 1831, have not been laid down, in consequence of the channel between Carnac and the Western Bank, for which they were intended as leading marks, having been found too intricate for general use, until means are available for marking off some of the principal dangers in it. The same cause has superseded the present necessity for placing the Basket Beacon at Second Head, and the Brothers Beacon at Beacon Head; nor has it been considered necessary at present to place the Spit Beacon off the north-east point of Garden Island, the foregoing directions for avoiding it being amply sufficient for keeping a ship out of danger in that quarter.
In the course of the past year a few friends of Missions in Glasgow, sensible of the claims which the natives of Western Australia have on them, proposed to the Church Missionary Society to send a missionary there, and that the expense of the station should be borne by themselves and other friends interested in the object. The same proposal was repeated last winter by persons in Dublin anxious to promote the same cause, but the Society declined both proposals, assigning as a reason that they had chosen China, as the next station to which they proposed to extend their operations.
The failure of these applications has led to the formation in Dublin of a Society called "The Swan River Mission," having for its object the sending out missionaries of the Church of England, and also schoolmasters, to the Aborigines and the colonists. The committee of this Society are now occupied in looking out for suitable persons to send thither in those capacities.
Messrs. F. and C. E. Mangles, East India Agents, Austin Friars, London, on hearing a short time since of the existence of the Society, liberally offered them a free passage for a missionary; and as the author is persuaded there are many persons in the United Kingdom who would, in a similar spirit, extend a helping hand to the Society, he hopes this publication may be instrumental in bringing such individuals acquainted with it.
Its committee is composed of the Rev. Messrs. Irwin (of Sandford Chapel), Lloyd, and Marks (chaplains of Molyneux's Asylum), and the Rev. H. Verschoyle (Chaplain of the South Penitentiary); together with the following lay-members: A. Ferrier, Pollock, Kincaid, and Churchill (M. D.), Esqrs. Secretary, the Rev. Hamilton Verschoyle, No. 2, Pembroke-place. The committee are thus particularized, as their names will be a sufficient guarantee for the character of the Society, with all who are acquainted with the religious and benevolent institutions of Dublin.
Postscript.—Since the above was in type, the author has learned from the Secretary, that unforeseen difficulties have arisen in the way of the Committee, while endeavouring to carry out their plans, and that they have come to the opinion that London would be the most suitable place for the position of the Parent Society. At the same time they express their perfect readiness to co-operate, to the utmost of their power, as a branch society; and offer, as a proof of their zeal in the cause, to engage for the raising of the sum of 100l. towards the purpose originally contemplated.
"A Lady, warmly interested in the welfare of relations and friends, settled at the above-named Colony, is extremely anxious that they, and the respectable community to which they belong, should not, in giving up the many advantages of their native land, be deprived of its most precious privilege—the means and opportunity of religious worship and instruction. In order to promote their attainment of this blessing, she has undertaken to raise a subscription for the erection of a Church, on the principles of the Establishment and under episcopal jurisdiction, and a residence for a minister of the Church of England. She has limited the sum to be contributed to sixpence, not only because she trusts to find it sufficient, but that it overcomes any reluctance she might otherwise experience in making her solicitations for this distant though promising part of our empire—to feel she is asking for that which it can inconvenience none to bestow, however numerous and extensive may be their charities.
It is calculated that 500l. will be sufficient for the above-mentioned purpose.
Subscriptions will be received by the Rev. Thomas Dale, M. A., Minister of St. Matthew's Chapel, Denmark Hill, and Evening Lecturer of St. Sepulchre's, London; and by John Cole Symes, Esq., Fenchurch Street, London; by Lawrence Desborough, Esq., Grove Hill, Camberwell; and George Spence, Esq., Jesus College, Cambridge."
With a view to try the experiment of civilizing the natives in the neighbourhood of Perth,—the plan will of course be extended to other districts where its beneficial effects have been made apparent,—his Excellency, the Governor, has been pleased to appoint Mr. F. Armstrong interpreter, with a limited salary, at present; but it will be subject to further improvement in proportion to the increased utility of the institution. Mr. Armstrong brings to the task a considerable knowledge of the native language, obtained through several years of diligent inquiry, and frequent association with the natives in their primitive haunts; we are gratified, therefore, to find so judicious a selection made, and are disposed to augur favourably of this further attempt at conciliation, under the direction of one who has hitherto voluntarily devoted his time to the acquirement of the native language, and has zealously sought an intimate acquaintance with the habits and manners of the tribes around us.
A slight sketch of the proposed system to be adopted may not be unacceptable to our readers; we shall therefore glance over a few of the principal heads. At the outset the natives are to understand that they are to procure their own means of subsistence, either by the remuneration they may derive from work or labour performed for individuals, or by the exercise of their own native arts, such as fishing, hunting, &c. It does not form any part of the intended plan to maintain the natives at the public expense, or support them in a state of indolence,—a boat will be provided for them, for the purpose of fishing, and any surplus quantity they may have will be disposed of for their benefit, under the direction of Mr. Armstrong. They will not be subject to any restraint, but have free ingress and egress, at all times, to such grounds as may be set apart for them; we believe it is in contemplation to devote the grounds under Mount Eliza to that purpose, to which they can have access without passing through the town.
The advantages the natives will have in attaching themselves to the institution, will be—protection from violence, whether from each other or from white people, medical aid in time of sickness, and a regular supply of food ensured by cautious guidance and a provident superintendence; which it is hoped will gradually bring them to a more civilized and happier state of existence.
The following we believe to be the substance of the objects to which it is the desire of his Excellency that the interpreter should direct the attention of the natives:—
1st. That the Government is actuated, in forming this institution, by a disposition to do the natives a good.
2nd. That Mr. Armstrong, understanding the native language, and being a friend to the natives, has been appointed to reside with such of them as may please to live at Mount Eliza Bay.
3rd. That the Governor has given a boat for their use in fishing.
4th. That when they have fish to spare, Mr. Armstrong will help them to dispose of it for flour or money.
5th. That when they are sick, Mr. Armstrong will take them to the doctor to be cured.
6th. That they will be shown how to build huts for themselves.
7th. That as long as they behave well they shall not be molested by any one, whether black or white; and if they are, the Governor will take their part.
8th. That they are to employ and maintain themselves by fishing, or such other work as Mr. Armstrong may point out; and that if they do not procure enough for their own supply, they must go without.
9th. That if they like to go away from Eliza Bay, they may always do so, and come back at their pleasure: but while there they must behave well, and do as Mr. Armstrong directs them; and if they are not well conducted, Mr. Armstrong will not let them remain there.—From the W. A. Journal of Dec. 13, 1834.
About half-past seven o'clock on the evening of the 11th ult., it was reported to Mr. Norcott that one of Mr. Hall's children, a boy, between five and six years of age, was missing, and that he had not been seen since one o'clock on that day, when his brother left him on the beach looking at some soldiers who were fishing there. The natural conclusion was, that the child had mistaken his path on returning home, and had wandered into the bush. Immediate search was made, conceiving that he could not have gone far from the settlement, and was kept up for two hours, indeed until the darkness of the night compelled the party to relinquish all hope of finding him. At four o'clock the next morning, Mr. Norcott, accompanied by Corporal Blyth, of the 21st regiment, Smith, of the Police, and the two natives, Migo and Molly-dobbin, who are now attached to the Mounted Police Corps, set out to renew the search, fully calculating upon finding the little boy in less than an hour. They soon came upon the track where he had been the preceding day, and pursued it for some distance to the northward, when it was lost to all but the natives, who, notwithstanding the wind had been blowing very fresh, and had rendered the traces imperceptible to an unpractised eye, still continued to follow them up, along the beach, for about four miles, when they intimated that he had turned into the bush. Here they still followed him into an almost impenetrable thicket, through which they said he must have crawled on his hands and knees. Their progress was now very slow, in consequence of the thick bush, and the difficulty of perceiving the track on the loose sand; but the acuteness of the natives, who are certainly most astonishingly gifted. led them through it, and in about an hour's time they regained the beach, the boy having made a circuit inland of about 400 yards. The track was now more strongly marked, and was perceptible to the whole party, continuing so over a space of about five miles, occasionally turning in and out of the bush. At the end of about nine miles further the natives were quite at fault, owing to his having left the beach and entered a thicket, which it was with difficulty they could push themselves through; they, however, persevered, and delighted the party, by every now and then crying out, "Me meyal geena," meaning, "I see the foot-marks." Mr. Norcott, who was on horseback, finding great difficulty in passing through the scrub, took a position on a high hill, overlooking the interesting progress of the natives in the hollow below. They were then making their way through a perfect mass of matted bush; and Mr. Norcott informs us, such was the apparent difficulty in tracking the child, that he was about to despair of success, when, to his astonishment, they held up a cap, which was known to belong to the boy. This circumstance cheered them in their pursuit, and about half an hour afterwards the track directed them again to the beach. They proceeded until they reached the Sand Cliffs, about ten or twelve miles from Clarence, one native continuing to walk a little way in the bush, in order to be certain that the boy had not crossed, or left the beach, and the other remaining with the party on the beach. Here it was ascertained he had again taken to the bush, and they found no difficulty in tracking him until they came to an elevated spot, where the wind had entirely effaced the marks of his feet. This was a most anxious moment, as even the natives seemed to be doubtful whether they would again discover the track. Migo, however, descended the hill, persisting in search along the plains inland, and, after having made a circuit of about half a mile, was once more fortunate to fall in with the track; but notwithstanding they had found it, they were sorely perplexed to retain it, and were kept near the spot for two hours, off and on, losing and again discovering it. The party had nearly given up all hope of seeing the child, when Molly-dobbin pointed out the track on the side of a deep ravine. They were then about 600 yards from the beach. The natives then went down into the ravine, and commenced hallooing, thinking that the child might be asleep in the bush, and still persevered in pressing through the thickest scrub, and the most difficult country to penetrate through which they had yet passed; in a short time they once more found themselves on the beach; and observing, by the tracks, that the child had evidently been there within a very short period, they journeyed on with a better hope of obtaining their object, and restoring the lost child to his afflicted parents. No sooner were these feelings of gratification excited, at viewing the recent footsteps, than, at a distance of about three hundred yards, the child was seen lying on the beach, its legs washed by the surf, and apparently, in a state of insensibility. Mr. Norcott galloped up to him, and, calling him by name, the boy awoke and instantly jumped up. Another hour, and probably the child would have perished, as the waves were rapidly gaining on him. The joy and delight of the two natives is represented to have been beyond all conception; and their steady perseverance, Mr. Norcott says, was beyond any thing he could have anticipated from them: and really, when it is considered that they walked a distance of nearly twenty-two miles, with their eyes, for ten hours, constantly fixed upon the ground, and at the same time evincing the most intense anxiety to be instrumental in rescuing the child from its impending fate, we cannot but esteem the act, and highly applaud the noble disposition of these two savages.
Mr. Norcott took the child up, and placing him on the horse before him, the party made for the nearest road home, where they arrived about nine o'clock at night, having been over a distance of thirty-nine miles, after being out seventeen hours, without the slightest refreshment.
It is certainly surprising that the child should have got so far, in the manner he must have been frequently compelled to force himself through the bush. He is not three feet high. His clothes were much torn, and his body was covered with scratches and bruises.
Mr. Norcott, in speaking of the conduct of the natives, conceives that he cannot too highly commend their behaviour, and adduces this circumstance as an instance of the great advantage derived from having these two natives, Migo and Molly-dobbin, permanently attached to the Corps.—Extract from the W. A. Journal of Jan. 3, 1835.
Perth, August 22, 1834.
Instructions having been received by me from his Majesty's Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies to appoint Mr. W. H. Mackie as Commissioner of the Civil Court, under an arrangement made by authority of his Majesty's Government for consolidating in one individual the two offices of Criminal and Civil Judge, hitherto held respectively by Mr. W. H. Mackie, as Chairman of the Quarter Sessions, and by Mr. G. F. Moore, as Civil Commissioner; the cessation of Mr. Moore's duties in the Civil Court, pursuant to those instructions, affords me the opportunity of expressing in the most public manner my unqualified approbation of his conduct while he has held that office. Qualified no less by education than by natural talent and temper for administering justice with wisdom and integrity, the necessity which has led to this discontinuance of Mr. Moore's duties in the Civil Court will be duly appreciated by the public at large, no less than by myself; and he will have the satisfaction of carrying with him, into whatever employment, whether of a public or private nature, which he may undertake, not only the consciousness of high desert, but of knowing, from this public testimony to his merit, the esteem in which he is held by me, as the chief authority in this settlement.
By His Excellency's Command. Governor.
(Signed) Peter Brown, Colonial Secretary.
(This Article oginally appeared in the Cape Advertiser, and is now copied from the Western Australian Journal of Nov. 29, 1834.)
The sheep of this colony (the Cape) have hitherto been reared chiefly for food. But as, with little or no care, they increase much faster than the human race, and as their flesh, being impatient of salt, is unfit far exportation, this article of produce, though most agreeable to the consumer, has long since ceased to hold out any great prospects of wealth to the producer. Genuine Cape sheep, with their thin wiry hair, may be purchased in any numbers from the distant farmers for 1s. 6d. to 2s. a head. * * * *
The total number of these sheep in the colony may be taken at two millions, and using round numbers, we may take their value at the same number of rix-dollars, or 150,000l.
The manufacture of woollen cloth from the wool of pure Cape sheep is unknown. A small quantity has lately been forced into the service of the hatter, and the remainder has either been suffered to rot where it was shed, or entombed in the uncomfortable mattress, or the pack-saddle of the horse, ass, or ox. It was unfit for any market.
Some improvement in this branch of agriculture has lately been effected; but in 1830 the total quantity of wool exported from this fine grazing colony, admirably adapted to the construction and habits of the animal, was 33,407 lbs., at an average price of 10d. per lb.; so that the whole crop of wool did not exceed in value the sum of 1,475l. 5s. 10d.
In New South Wales the climate and face of the country, in their adaptation to the rearing of sheep, very much resemble those of the Cape. We believe no difference exists in any point considerable enough to establish a claim of superiority on either side. And up to 1816 so little sensible were the stockholders of New South Wales of the capabilities of their country, with respect to the production of wool for exportation, that we find Mr. Riley, an able and zealous improver, strenuously urging them to "a consideration of the obvious propriety of transforming the hair that disgraced so many of their sheep into golden fleeces." The total export of wool for that year amounted to no more than about 80,000 lbs. But at that moment the spirit of improvement seems to have caught the whole agricultural population, and the following facts will give our readers some notion what miracles a whole population can perform, when they act in concert and from upright principles.
In 1816, as we have seen, the quantity of wool exported from New South Wales was about 80,000 lbs., more or less.
|In 1822 it amounted to||125,000||lbs.|
|In 1825 it was||411,000|
|In 1828 it had increased to||834,343|
|In 1830 it exceeded||991,000|
|And||in 1834 it is estimated at||2,700,000||!|
Nothing in the history of agriculture has been known parallel to this—except in the neighbouring colony Van Diemen's Land, into which sheep were introduced for the first time in 1826. Indeed it was only discovered to be an island in 1798, and taken possession of by the British in 1803. In 1830 the population, exclusive of a few savage natives, amounted to only 21,125, of whom about 10,000 were convicts. And what quantity of wool did these 11,125 recent free settlers export to the United Kingdom in 1830, only twenty-seven years after the foundation of the colony? No less than 993,979 lbs.!
By the above statement we see that the quantity of wool exported from New South Wales, since 1822, has been more than doubled every three years. But its improvement in quality has not been less admirable. In 1816 it was described by Mr. Riley as "hair which disgraced the sheep." In 1820 a few bales of wool from Mr. Macarthur's flock sold in England at 5s. 6d. per lb., and one at 10s. 4d.! The common price was 2s. In 1830 the Australian wool sold in the London market at the following prices, viz.:—
Best, 2s. to 5s.; second and inferior, 1s. 2d. to 2s.; lamb's, 1s. 2d. to 2s. 1d.
The whole of the enormous quantity they now export, it is expected, will realize an average price of 2s. per lb., which will give for the crop of 1834 the sum of 270,000l.
With respect to the number of sheep from whose backs this prodigious sum of money is annually extracted, we have, at the moment, no certain information of later date than 1828. But as from 1819 to 1828 they had increased from 75,369 to 556,391, we may safely estimate their present number to be about two millions.
The sound of these words brings our thoughts back to the Cape. We have about two millions of sheep; but the wool exported this year will probably not exceed 100,000 lbs., nor realize a higher sum than 7000l.
For what purpose are these statements submitted to our readers? Not to vex them by any humiliating contrast, but to encourage them by a splendid example of successful industry, which they have now the opportunity and means to imitate, and perhaps surpass. Only fourteen years ago the wool exported from both the Australian colonies did not exceed in quantity that which we now raise. They had to import the Merino breed from Europe to improve their coarse and inferior flocks, exposed to a voyage twice as long as, and more than doubly hazardous that, our imports have to encounter. We have a more abundant population, labour cheaper, and most certainly not of a worse description, and every thing else at least equally favourable. And we have at the present moment in prospect two additional advantages which render our position decidedly superior to theirs.
In the first place, an addition is about to be made to the capital of the colony, not as a balance for exports, the produce of many years' labour—but an absolute addition, without any equivalent being rendered to the source from which it comes—of probably not less than 1,200,000l. sterling, or about eight times the value of all the sheep at present in the colony!
In the next place, we have discovered a market where we can be supplied with sheep of equal if not superior quality, at nearly one half the distance, and at a much cheaper rate than in Europe. This is no other than New South Wales itself, which has already begun to export these valuable animals; and from the largeness of the stock and the rapidity with which they increase, constantly doubling their numbers in about two years and a half, there is no risk in our demand, however extensive, making any sensible impression on their means of supplying us.
The first investment has already arrived in Cape Town. It consists of thirty males of the pure Saxon breed, selected from the flock of Alexander Riley, Esq., of Raby.
The history of this Saxon breed is also worthy of notice, as it another instance of the wonderful results of sheep come originally from Spain, where they are called Merinos. The late King of Saxony, when elector, was the first who introduced them into his dominions. He purchased a small flock from the King of Spain, and exerted so much diligence and care in promoting their growth, that they soon succeeded better in Germany than in Spain itself. In the London market, in March 1832, the best Saxon wool of the Electoral flocks, sold at from 4s. to 6s. 6d. per lb.; while the best Spanish wool, the Leonesa, fetched no more than from 2s. to 2s. 9d. And as to their increase, the following fact may suffice:—In 1830 there were imported from Germany into the British market alone, 26,073,822 lbs; while the quantity imported from Spain did not exceed 1,643,515 lbs.
Indeed the Merino seems to improve by every removal from its native soil and climate. Even in England, the climate of which forms a perfect, and to sheep a most severe, contrast with that of Spain, the Merinos not only thrive but improve, both in the carcass and in the quality of their wool. And we have already seen that in 1820 Mr. Macarthur obtained the highest price ever known in the London market, for a bale of wool taken from Merinos in New South Wales. Thus, if the scheme we now recommend, obtain the approbation of our fellow-colonists, we shall probably lay a better foundation for our future flocks, which are to constitute the wealth and power of the colony, than has ever yet been laid in any country. Our breed—the future Cape breed of sheep—will have proceeded from Spain to Saxony, from Saxony to Australia, and from Australia to South Africa—improving at every stage.
These sheep we have seen, in a climate in every respect the same as ours, double their numbers in every two years and a half, more or less. In 1838½ we shall, therefore, have 200,000 sheep. In 1841 we shall have 400,000. In 1843½ they will have increased to 800,000. In 1846 to 1,600,000. In 1848½, or say in 1850, we shall have three millions and two hundred thousand sheep, bearing fleeces of the finest quality in the world, bringing into the colony an annual return of not less than 350,000l, independently of their skins and tallow.
Is this extravagant? Look at Australia. It has been accomplished there, as it were, under our own eyes, in less than eighteen years, though means and resources there, compared with what ours will be, were as but one to ten.
London: Printed by Mills and Son,
Gough Square, Fleet Street.