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Title: Sketch of the History of Van Diemen's Land. Author: James Bischoff. * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1401091h.html Language: English Date first posted: March 2014 Date most recently march 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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A special character in this work, , has been interpreted to mean
"per", and is rendered here as [per].
The font size of the Note to Chapter V. and the Appendix have not been reduced.
The map of Van Diemen's Land [by J. Arrowsmith] is available online from Trove as Map No. nk2456-173.
VAN DIEMEN'S LAND COMPANY'S ESTABLISHMENT AT CIRCULAR HEAD.
JOHN RICHARDSON, ROYAL EXCHANGE.
G. WOODFALL, ANGEL COURT, SKINNER STREET, LONDON.
GOVERNOR OF THE VAN DIEMEN'S LAND COMPANY.
my dear sir,
I cannot allow the following Sketch to go forth to the Proprietors of the Van Diemen's Land Company and to the Public, without making some, though very inadequate, acknowledgement of the obligations which are due to you for your constant and unwearied attention to the interests of that Company from its commencement. Your time has on all occasions been devoted to them; your experience and excellent judgment have greatly contributed to encourage Edward Curr, Esq., the chief agent in Van Diemen's Land, in his arduous duties, than whom few men have had to contend against greater trials, but they have been surmounted by his prudence, firmness, and talent. He has invariably met with the support of yourself, Joseph Cripps, Esq., Deputy-Governor, and the Directors, which has enabled him to overcome many difficulties, and, by unremitting steadiness and perseverance, to place the concerns of the Company in their present satisfactory condition.
The advantage of your advice and exertion has been equally felt at home; you preside over a Court of Directors, not surpassed in weight and respectability by any in London, drawn together by the large stake they individually hold, and by the confidence placed in them by the Proprietors. The prosperity of the Company has been their only object, private feeling and private interest have invariably given way to the general good, every question has been discussed with candour, and the good humour and those friendly feelings which prevail, render the meetings of Directors pleasant and efficient. To yourself the Company is much indebted. May you long live to witness the harmony and the increasing success of these exertions.
I cannot close this address without also expressing my sincere and heartfelt thanks for the kindness and attention invariably received from yourself, Mr. Cripps, and the Directors, for the generous confidence placed in me, and the assistance so cheerfully and effectually rendered to me in the important and sometimes difficult duties of my office: these have made an impression which no time can efface. I have the honour to remain, with great regard and respect.
My dear Sir,
London, 7th April, 1832.
In order to make the Proprietors of the Van Diemen's Land Company acquainted with the country in which they have invested their properly, it has been thought desirable to give a brief Sketch of the History of that interesting island, to point out some of the difficulties against which early settlers have had to contend, the manner in which they have been surmounted, and the prosperity which has resulted from their industry and perseverance, that by comparing themselves with other colonists, the Proprietors may be enabled to form a just estimate of their prospects, not only from produce which forms annual income, but from the increased and increasing value of their permanent investment in land.
The review of the annals of Van Diemen's Land has been a matter of no difficulty, being a compilation from very few books, to which is added information derived from private letters and from individuals who have visited the colony. The Compiler, not having been there himself, is indebted altogether to the accounts of others. It has required no research amongst ancient and valuable manuscripts deposited in college libraries and the British Museum, no knowledge of ancient language, or indeed of any language, save his native tongue, for the space of time which this History embraces is confined to the life of man. Fifty years have scarcely elapsed since our great navigator. Captain Cook, visited the Southern Ocean, made known to the world the accession of its immense continent, with numerous beautiful and fruitful islands, and the British settler who first set foot in Van Diemen's Land, A. Riley, Esq., a respectable London merchant, is yet amongst us.
We are still in the dark as to many most essential points in natural history; the visiters to and writers upon Australia have not possessed that scientific knowledge which has enabled them to give a philosophical account of the character and properties of its productions. A rich field is here open for science; the peculiar nature of the animal world so totally different in some particulars from that of Europe, has not been sufficiently studied by the anatomist; the properties of the vegetable have not yet undergone the searching analysis of the chemist, and the mineral world has not been laid open to the geologist. Still, however, much valuable information is given in the works of Curr, Evans, Widowson, the anonymous writer of "The Picture of Australia," and of "An Account of Van Diemen's Land," lately published at Calcutta; to which must be added, "The Van Diemen's Land Anniversary, or Hobart Town Almanac." From these books, the Compiler of the following sheets has made copious extracts; but if the Proprietors wish to become thoroughly acquainted with the subject, each should supply himself with those publications, it being impossible by any extracts to do justice to them.
After this brief and imperfect History of the Island, the Compiler has given some account of the present system of carrying into effect secondary punishment by sentence of transportation, comparing it with the manner in which convicts were formerly treated, in order to shew that it has now not only become an incentive and a premium to crime at home, but places the criminal in a much better situation than the honest, industrious, but poor emigrant. And in conclusion, the Compiler has given some account of the establishment and progress of the Van Diemen's Land Company, adding an Appendix containing extracts from Parliamentary Papers, giving much interesting information respecting the Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land.
Natural Productions—Progress of Cultivation—Aborigines
Difficulties of first Settlers—Sheep, Cattle, Horses—Table of Population—Live Stock—Acres of Land under Cultivation—Wool imported into Great Britain from Australia—Fisheries—Commerce—Table of Imports from and Exports to Van Diemen's Land—Gardens—Hobart Town—Launceston—Roads—Ports—Towns—Mountains.
Convict Labour and Emigration—Prospects of Proprietors and Settlers.
History of the Van Diemen's Land Company—Object—Particulars of the Charter and Act of Parliament, and Extracts from Annual Reports.
Van Diemen's Land Company's Report in the year 1832,
Note to Chap. V.—Journeys in the Interior
Appendix.—Treatment of the Aborigines
Van Diemen's Land,
by J. Arrowsmith.
[NLA Map No. nk 2456-173.]
[Click on the map to enlarge it.]
"The existence of New Holland and Van Diemen's Land was not known, with anything like certainty, till long after the discovery of America, of the passage around the Cape of Good Hope, and of the islands in the Indian seas, as far as Timor, Ceram, and some parts of the coast of New Guinea. There are some disputes, or at least obscurities, as to the time of the original discovery and the nation that made it. The French writers on Australian voyages, the president De Brosses and the Abbé Prévot, claim the merit for a countryman of their own. Captain Paulovier Gonneville, who sailed from Honfleur in the month of June 1503, was caught in a furious tempest off the Cape, lost his reckoning, and drifted in an unknown sea, from which he escaped by observing that the flight of birds was towards the south; and following them. Gonneville lived six months on the land, to which he gave the name of Southern India; and during the time, he occupied himself in refitting his vessel, and at the same time carried on a friendly intercourse with the natives, whom he mentions as having made some advances in civilization. Now all the more recent voyagers who have visited the north coasts of New Holland and had a sight of the natives, (we can hardly call it intercourse,) represent them as being without the very first elements of civilization, and so treacherous and cruel in their dispositions, that no friendly terms could be kept with them. These considerations, and the additional one that, from the French captain's account, the people on whose island he lived were very like the inhabitants of Madagascar, render it almost certain that that was the island on which he spent the six months." *
[* Picture of Australia.]
Portugal next claims the discovery. It is stated, that in the Library of the Carthusian Friars at Evora, there exists an authentic manuscript atlas of all the countries in the world, with richly emblazoned maps, made by Ternao Vaz Dourado, cosmographer in Goa, in 1570. In one of the maps is laid down the northern coast of Australia, with a note: This coast was discovered by Ternao de Magathæus, a native of Portugal, in the year 1520.*
[* East India Magazine.]
"It is probable, that in the early part of the sixteenth century, the Dutch or the Portuguese, in their way to or from the Spice Islands, may have discovered part of the coast; and in an old French chart, dedicated to the King of England, with an English copy, date 1542, in the British Museum, a portion of coast to the south of the Spice Islands is laid down and named Great Java, but whether it be New Holland or New Guinea is not known. The position of some of the coasts certainly gives it a resemblance to the north-east of New Holland, which could hardly be the result of accident
"In 1605, the Duyfhen, Dutch yacht, sailed from Bantam, in Java, for the purpose of exploring New Guinea; and from the account given, both of the country and the people, (who killed part of the crew,) it is evident that the main land of New Holland, to the south-west of Cape York, was seen in 1606.
"But the first certain discovery was of the west coast, by the Dutch, in 1616. The French expedition of discovery, sent out in 1801, found upon Dirk Hartog's Island, off Shank Bay, in latitude about 25° S., a pewter plate, which settled the point. It bore two inscriptions by different persons, and at different times. The first was, '1616, on the 25th of October, the ship Endraght, of Amsterdam, arrived here, Captain Dirk Hartog, of Amsterdam.' The second inscription was to this effect: '1697. on the 4th of February, the ship Geelvink, of Amsterdam, arrived here, Wilhelm de Vlaming, Captain-Commandant,' and mentions two other vessels with her." *
[* Picture of Australia.]
The island of Van Diemen's Land was first visited in the year 1643, by the Dutch navigator Abel Jansen Tasman, who gave its name in honour of Anthony Van Diemen, at that time Governor-General of the Dutch possessions in the East Indies. Captain Furneaux, in the Adventure, who accompanied Captain Cook on his second voyage round the world, visited it in 1773; he is supposed to have been the first Englishman who set foot In the island, and gave the name of his ship, 'Adventure', to the bay he entered.
Van Diemen's Land lies between the parallel of 40° 20" and 43° 40" south latitude, and between the meridian of 144° 30" and 148° 30" east longitude; its extent, from north to south, is about 200 miles, and from east to west, about 160 miles, containing an area of about 15,000,000 superficial square acres of land, or having a surface about equal to the size of Ireland.
Captain Cook touched at Van Diemen's Land on his third voyage in 1777; he cast anchor in Adventure Bay, and took in wood and water. He, however, supposed it to be the most southern part of New Holland; his expression is, "I hardly need say, that it is the southern point of New Holland, which, if it doth not deserve the name of a continent, is by far the largest island in the world." *
[* Cook's Voyages.]
"Dr. Bass, in 1798, discovered that Van Diemen's Land was an island, separated from New Holland by a strait now bearing his name.
"Lieutenant Bowen landed on the east bank of the Derwent in 1803, and first took possession of the island.
"Colonel Collins, the first Lieutenant-Governor, arrived in 1804, established himself on the west side of the river Derwent, and formed a settlement, giving it the name of Hobart Town; the limits of three counties were defined, viz., Northumberland, Cornwall, and Buckinghamshire.
"Colonel Patterson arrived in the river Tamar, from Sydney, in the same year, and pitched his tent on a plain on the west bank of that river.
"Lieutenant-Governor Collins died, at Hobart Town, in 1810, and from that time till 1813, the government of the colony was administered by different military officers, as they successively had the command.
"The second Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Davey, arrived at Hobart Town in 1813; the ports were then first opened to commerce, and put upon the same footing as those of New South Wales, merchant ships having been prohibited from entering the harbours." *
[* Van Diemen's Land Almanack.]
The third lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Sorell, was appointed in 1817, a man of liberal and enlightened mind, eminently qualified for developing the character and resources of the island. Under his government, the nature of the country, the fertility of the soil, and its various capabilities and products were made known; and, in 1819, the emigration of free settlers from England first commenced. That may indeed be considered the period from which its prosperity took its rise; since then the beneficial effects of industry and capital have been displayed; Englishmen are now established on lands which had recently been the range of the kangaroo, and the hunting ground of the wretched savage, who, without domicile, wandered about in precarious search of food; forests are now brought under cultivation and stocked with herds of cattle and flocks of sheep. A great portion of the island already answers the beautiful description of the poet:
"On spacious airy downs and gentle hills
With grass and thyme o'erspread, and clover wild,
Where smiling Phœbus tempers every breeze,
The fairest flocks rejoice."
Under the government of Colonel Sorell, roads were cut through the woods from the south to the north extremity of the island, from Hobart Town to Port Dalrymple, as well as between other chief settlements in the interior.
The present Lieutenant-Governor, Colonel Arthur, succeeded Colonel Sorell, in 1824; a man in every way well qualified to pursue the judicious plans of his predecessor. Devoting all the energies of a strong and enlarged mind to advance the permanent prosperity of the colony placed under his charge, he has visited different parts of the island, caused roads and bridges to be constructed, and has divided the settled part of the country on the east side of the island into nine police districts, viz., Hobart Town, Norfolk, Richmond, Clyde, Oatlands, Oyster Bay, Campbell Town, Launceston, and Norfolk Plains.
Till this period the island of Van Diemen's Land, though having a lieutenant-governor, was under the government of New South Wales; but, in 1825, it was, by royal proclamation, declared independent thereof, the lieutenant-governor acting from orders transmitted to him from the colonial department.
Respecting the general character of the island, much valuable information is given in the Hobart Town Almanack for 1831, published by Dr. Ross. These animals are equally interesting to the inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land and to Europeans at home. The following particulars are extracted from that work:
"The general character of the surface of Van Diemen's Land is hilly and mountainous, the hills being mostly covered with trees to the height of between three and four thousand feet, where the difference of climate in that lofty and exposed region checks vegetation, and exposes to the eye, as the mountains rise upon the horizon, a comparatively naked and weather born barren aspect, being for five or six months in the year, from April till October, more or less covered with snow.
"This hilly character of the country, especially on the southern side of the island, admits but of little interruption. The hills are not only frequent but continuously so, the general face of the island being a never ending succession of hill and dale: the traveller no sooner arrives at the bottom of one hill than he has to ascend another, often three or four times in the space of one mile, while at other times the land swells up into greater heights, reaching along several miles of ascent. The level parts, marshes or plains, as they are called in the colony, giving relief to this fatiguing surface, are comparatively few. The reader, however, must not conclude either that the hills of the island are all sterile or the plains all fertile; on the contrary, though most of the large hills and mountains are either too steep and rocky, or too thickly covered with timber, to admit of cultivation, a large proportion of the more moderately sized hills and gentler undulations are thickly covered with herbage, presenting to the view an agreeable succession of moderately wooded downs, and affording excellent pasture for sheep and cattle. Altogether, and on the most liberal computation, the productive surface of the island cannot fairly be estimated at more than one-third. To one accustomed to the moist climate and plentifully watered countries of England, Scotland, and Ireland, Van Diemen's Land, at first sight, may present a dry and unproductive appearance; but upon a nearer acquaintance, it will put on a more inviting aspect." *
[* Hobart Town Almanack.]
"The shores of Van Diemen's Land are much more bold in their general character than those of New Holland, and at some points they afford scenery as grand as can be found in any part of the world. One of the most remarkable characteristics of the seas around Australia is the numerous islands with which they are studded, and the small elevation of most of them above the level of the sea. On the shores of Van Diemen's Land these islands are sometimes of a different character, being pyramids of rock presenting a columnar or basaltic appearance; on the south, some of them also partake of the high and cliffy nature of that coast. In glancing over a correct chart of the Australian seas, there are several places where the formation of islands is more than ordinarily conspicuous. Bass's Straits is full of them, and soundings are met with, at no very great depths, in all the channels. These islands indicate the continuation or a submarine ridge from the termination of the eastern mountains of Van Diemen's Land at Cape Portland to the high land of Wilson's promontory in New Holland; and probably this is the only place at which New Holland can be traced as having a geological connexion with any other land, unless indeed we consider that there is a similar connexion between Cape Grim on the south entrance to Bass's Straits, and Cape Otway on the north-west of the coast Such a connexion, though not quite so continuous as the former, may be traced by Hunter's Islands on Van Diemen's Land coast, to King's Island in the middle of the channel."
"The principal harbours are in the Derwent and the Tamar, to which must now be added Circular Head and Woolnorth, a very good channel having been recently discovered there, which will admit a vessel of 500 tons burden, and nothing else was wanted to make the harbour safe and desirable.
"Around Van Diemen's Land the winds are generally from the west and south, and the ports, more especially the Derwent, are accessible at all seasons.
"The two principal rivers, the Tamar in the north, and the Derwent in the south, overlay each other, the remotest source of the Derwent being within fifty miles of the north coast, and that of the Macquarrie, the most remote branch of the Tamar, being not more than forty miles from the tide-way in the Derwent and Coal rivers. The country midway between the mouths of the two rivers, is not what can, strictly speaking, be called mountainous, though it is considerably elevated. One of the most remarkable of its characteristics is, that between the sources of the Macquarrie, which runs to the Tamar, and those of the Jordan, which runs to the Derwent, there is a salt plain. In that plain there are three pools or hollows which are filled with water during the rainy season, but which are dried up by evaporation when the rains are over; and so strongly is the water of these hollows, and consequently the soil over which it flows and through which it percolates, impregnated with salt, that a considerable quantity is collected every season for domestic purposes.
"As the entrance of the river Tamar is approached, the country becomes fertile down to the water's edge, and forms a pleasant contrast to the dry and sandy shores of New Holland. The estuary of the Tamar is navigable much further into the interior than any of the rivers in New Holland: it winds considerably, and there are some banks in it, but the tide rises fifteen feet at Launceston, which is forty-three miles from the sea. The land on the banks of this river is in many places very good, and in general is well wooded.
"The branches of the Derwent indicate an extensive valley or series of smaller valleys connected with that river. The breadth from the most easterly sources of the Jordan to the western mountains, is not less than eighty miles in a straight line; and the length from the remotest source to Hobart Town, is about 150, so that that river drains an extent of 12,000 square miles of country, and though there be occasional mountains and unproductive places, the general character of that extensive district is fertility. At Hobart Town, the valley of the Derwent may be said to terminate, for though the entrance be full forty miles further before the open sea is reached, the heights connected with Mount Wellington close up the valley on the west, and the Coal River Comes near to the Derwent on the east.
"The fresh water which gets the name of Derwent, is not the principal branch, but one that comes from the western mountains; the one which is, as it were, the main stem of the river is the Ouse, which rises about forty miles from the north coast, and the same distance from the west.
"About the parallel of 42 degrees south, there are a number of lakes, the largest is Lake Arthur, estimated at about fifteen miles long and five broad; that lake is the source of the Shannon, the first branch that fells into the Ouse on the east side. The Clyde and the Jordan arc the other principal branches on the east side; they both originate in lakes and marshes, and the plains through which they pass, more especially those on the Jordan, are very fertile and beautiful.
"The Macquarrie, which has its source near those of the Clyde and the Jordan, is the largest branch of the Tamar. The grounds through which it passes are in general rich, as are also those on the banks of the South Esk, which rises in the eastern mountains near Tasman's Peak, and flows towards the north-west. The North Esk is the other principal branch of the Tamar: it joins the South Esk at Launceston, and is a romantic little river, but its course is too precipitous and is not available for the purposes of navigation." *
[* Picture of Australia.]
The rivers and streams which intersect the island in every direction on the north-west quarter of Van Diemen's Land, are frequent; the Avon, Mersey, Don, Forth, Leven, Blythe, Emu, Cam, Inglis, Detention, intervene betwixt the Tamar and Circular Head; and between that and Cape Grim Head, are Dutch River, Montague, Harcus, and Welcome. All these, rising far in the interior of the island, empty themselves into Bass's Straits, whilst the Hellyer and the Arthur rising the Surrey Hills, fall into the Indian Ocean, on the western coast. Some of these numerous streams will probably serve for internal navigation, they are of infinite use in fertilizing the large extent of country through which they pass; but the navigation at their mouths is interrupted in general by bars, over which vessels drawing more than four feet water cannot pass. The principal harbours on the north-west coast of the island are Emu Bay, Circular Head, and Woolnorth.
"Few, if any, attempts have yet been made to classify or analyse the mineral productions composing the superficial strata or subsoil of the island. Limestone is almost the only one that has yet been brought into general use; this requisite of civilized life has been found in abundance in most parts, with the exception of the neighbourhood of Launceston, to which place it is usually imported from Sydney, as a return cargo, in the vessels that carry up wheat to that port. Marble of a white mixed grey colour, susceptible of a good polish, has frequently been found, though never yet dug up or applied to use. Iron ore is very general, of a red, browti, and black colour; in one or two instances it has been analysed, and found to contain eighty per cent of the perfect mineral; it also occurs, though more rarely and in smaller quantities, under the form of red chalk, with which, mixed with grease, the Aborigines besmear their heads and bodies. Indications of coat have been found all across the island. Of the various species of the argillaceous genus, basalt is by far the most abundant, indeed it would appear to be the chief and predominant substratum in the island; all along the coast it presents itself in rocky precipitous heights, standing on its beautiful columnar pedestals; of these. Fluted Cape at Adventure Bay is perhaps the most remarkable, so called from the circular columns standing up close together, in the form of the barrel of an organ. Circular Head, which gives the name to the Van Diemen's Land Company's establishment, is another remarkable instance of the singular appearance which this species of rock puts on, resembling different artificial productions of man. That curious rock stands like a huge round tower or fortress, built by human hands, which stretching out into the sea, as if from the middle of a bay, is joined to the land by a narrow isthmus, and has a small creek on each side. In some parts, both on the coast and in the interior, the columns stand in insulated positions, springing up from the grass or the ocean, like obelisks or huge needles, and presenting a singular appearance to the eye. As basaltic rock has the power of acting on the magnetic needle, and occurs in such large masses, it in some measure accounts for the variations which travellers, depending upon the guidance of the pocket compass, when in the bush, sometimes experience. Argil also appears in the form of excellent roof slate; and in that of mica, it is in large masses. Excellent sandstone, for building, is found in every part of the island. Flints, in great plenty, are scattered upon the hills. Other rare species of the silicious genus have been found in different parts of the island, especially in those which appear to have been washed, in former times, by the ocean, and which have been deposited in certain ranges or linear positions, by the lashing of the waves and the subsiding of the waters; of these may be mentioned, though found generally in small pieces, hornstone, schistus, wood-opal, bloodstone, jasper, and that singular species called the cat's-eye, reflecting different rays of light from the change of position.
"Of the metallic ores, besides iron, which is most abundant, specimens of chromate of iron, of red and green copper ore, lead, zinc, manganese, and some say of silver and gold, have occasionally been found, but the latter, we think, is not to be relied on.
"Petrified remains of wood and other vegetable productions, entirely converted into silicious matter, and capable of the finest polish, are occasionally met with.
"According to the latitude of Van Diemen's Land, it ought to enjoy a climate equal to that of the southern parts of France or the northern parts of Spain and Italy, along the coasts of the Mediterranean; but the general temperature of a country is affected by other circumstances besides that of latitude, and geographers have generally agreed that the great extent of uninterrupted ocean round the south pole, compared to that of the northern hemisphere, where land so much more abounds, makes a difference in the climate equal to several degrees of latitude. It would appear that this difference is scarcely sensible, under the fortieth degree of latitude; for while the summer heats of Buenos Ayres, the Cape of Good Hope, and Sydney, are as great as at Gibraltar, Tunis, or Charleston, or Bermuda in America; Patagonia, New Zealand, and Van Diemen's Land have a temperature almost as cold in the summer season as that of London, Brussels, or at least Paris and Vienna. While, therefore. Van Diemen's Land has a portion of the sun's rays and a length of day equal to that enjoyed by the inhabitants of Rome, Constantinople, or Madrid, in the mildest winter, its summer heats are so moderated as to be not only congenial, but delightful, to a person who has lived to maturity in an English climate, and whose system has been habituated to it; however warm the middle of the day may be, it is invariably attended by a morning and evening so cool, as completely to brace the body and counteract any enervating effects that the meridian beat might have occasioned; and while the summer heat is thus moderated, the inclemency of winter is dissipated by the equality of temperature diffused from the extent of ocean surrounding its insular position.
"Except on the days when rain actually falls, which, on an average, do not exceed fifty or sixty in the year, the sky is clear and the sun brilliant, the atmosphere is consequently, for the most part, dry, pure, and elastic, which renders the system in a great measure insensible to the sudden changes of temperature that so frequently occur. In the winter, the frost at night, except in the higher regions of the interior, or in some deep dell, where the sun's rays scarcely ever reach, is never so severe as to withstand the heat of the ensuing day. Sleet or snow generally falls once or twice a year, but never lies on the ground above a day or two, except on the tops of the mountains or in the central parts of the island, where it has been known to continue for a week or ten days.
"In so clear a sky, as might be supposed, the serenity of the starlight and moonlight nights calls forth the notice and admiration of every one susceptible of the charms of nature; few parts of the globe are more favourable for obtaining a knowledge of the constellations, or for alluring the young to the delightful science of astronomy. A summer's morning, at all times beautiful in the country, is peculiarly so in Van Diemen's Land. In such a climate, and with the active life which settlers in a new colony must necessarily lead, the health of the inhabitants, as might be supposed, is of the best kind.
"On the whole, it may be fairly estimated from all the experience that the present young state of the colony affords, that the chances of life and longevity are twenty per cent, better in Van Diemen's Land than in England." *
[* Van Diemen's Land Almanack.]
A book was published at Calcutta, in 1830, giving an account of Van Diemen's Land, principally intended for the use of persons residing in India, and shewing the advantages it holds out to them for their residence; the following is extracted from that work.
"Its climate seems so well adapted to the renovating of the constitution of those who have suffered from their residence in India, that it only requires to be pointed out, and the easiest manner of getting there made known, as also the cheapness and comfort of living, when there, to turn the tide of visitors to the Cape and the Isle of France, towards its shores.
"Many, also, who have saved what would only afford a bare existence in England, or indeed any part of Europe, might, with the addition of their pension, live with the greatest comfort in this country; but are deterred from making the experiment, from the little faith that can generally be put in the publications on emigration; and from the want of correct information on points having a direct reference to their own peculiar circumstances and previous habits of life." *
[* An Account of Van Diemen's Land.]
Natural Productions—Progress of Cultivation—Aborigines.
The natural productions of the island are well described by Mr. Widowson in his work containing much valuable information. The following is extracted chiefly from it.
"The stringy bark is perhaps one of the most useful trees in the island; it is found in low swampy places, and grows from forty to seventy feet high; it is a hard straight grained wood, and principally used in building and fencing; the bark, which serves as a covering for splitters and sawyers is easily separated from the wood in immense large strips.
"The blue gum is found in greater abundance; it is a loose grained heavy wood and grows to an immense size. The lesser trees have been frequently used for masts for small vessels, and are found to answer well; the greater number of colonial boats are built of blue gum; the oars are made of the same wood, but they appear to retain their natural moisture for years, as they sink instantly when dropped into the water. This wood is also used for building purposes, but requires to be particularly well seasoned; when dry it is extremely tough and durable.
"The peppermint, so called from the leaves imparting to the taste that flavour, grows every where throughout the island. This tree is of very little use except for shingles; in the forests, it may be sometimes seen rearing its lofty head conspicuously above the rest to a surprising height.
"The black and silver wattle (the mimosa) are trees used in house-work and furniture; but from their diminutive size are not much sought after. The bark of the former is exported to England in large quantities. The mimosa bears immense branches of yellow flowers, in the spring they have a most beautiful appearance, and would form a delightful contrast to an English chestnut.
"The ground saplings grow in clumps resembling our ash-poles in form, and may be easily converted to the same uses.
"Huon pine is by far the most beautiful wood found in the island; it is very superior both in colour and substance to the Norway deal, but is scarce and difficult to be had.
"Adventure Bay pine is found at the extremity of the deep bay of that name; it is a species of pine adapted for house-work and furniture, but is not common.
"The light wood found by the sides of creeks and swamps, grows larger in the top than any tree of the same size; the wood is extremely hard and light. Mill-wheel shafts and cogs are made from this wood, and found to answer better than any other kind.
"The cherry-tree is a small diminutive plant found on rocky hills and poor land; it is more used for the fire than any thing else. Gunstocks are made of it, but they do not last long. Honeysuckle is found in various parts: the cherry, the oak, and the honeysuckle are companions.
"The trees and forests of Tasmania (with but one exception, the mimosa) rather diminish than add to the beauty of the country; where they are thinly spread, the tops grow extremely ugly, and bear not the slightest resemblance to the worst of our oak and elm. Two or three of the larger kinds of tree shed their outward bark instead of leaves, and slips forty or fifty feet long are seen hanging down from the top to the bottom, presenting a most unsightly appearance.
"The mimosa is by far the most beautiful and indeed the only tree to which nature seems to have given the appearance of ornament. All the native trees of Van Diemen's Land, are evergreen.
"The shrubs of Tasmania are very numerous, and some of them beautiful; a few have been transplanted from the forests and scrubs to the pleasure grounds of the wealthy.
"The tea-tree grows in wet situations, and in clusters along the banks of rivers and mountain streams; the leaves infused, make a pleasant beverage, and with a little sugar form a most excellent substitute for tea. The natives select their spears from among the straightest and largest sticks of the tea-tree. Of fruits there are none indigenous in the island worth noticing. The native cherry, currant, cranberry, or any other are as ungrateful as the crab of England. The musk-plant, the cotton plant, the native myrtle, the human and others are the common shrubs of the country; the currogong is sometimes found, its inner bark may be manufactured into ropes.
"The native grasses of the island very for exceed those of any other country, and if properly cultivated, would unquestionably be most productive." *
[* Widowson's Present State of Van Diemen's Land.]
"Though some of the quadrupeds of Van Diemen's Land and New South Wales have their teeth so constructed as to feed only on grass, others have teeth adapted for the gnawing of bark, and others again have canine teeth, and live upon animal food. They differ in one striking particular from all the quadrupeds of the other parts of the world, with the exception of one or two genera, which are not very extensively diffused, being confined to America and the south-east of Asia. The peculiarity of the Australian quadrupeds, which may be taken as their distinguishing characteristic, is the attachment of a sack or pouch of the cuticle to the abdomen of the female, which partially in all instances and entirely in most covers the teats and opens anteriorly. Into the pouch the young are received in a small formless and embryo state, and they remain fixed to the teats till they are perfectly formed and have acquired 8 size proportionate to that of the parent animal, at which time they are detached, and the teat, which had previously been extended, slender and probably reaching the stomach of the young animal, becomes shortened, so that the young can then suck milky nutriment like other mammalia.
"From this peculiarity in their formation, the whole class have received the name of 'marsupiata,' or pouched animals, without reference to the structure of their teeth, or the habits of the genus or species." *
[* Widowson's Present State of Van Diemen's Land.]
"Kangaroos, of which there are three or four varieties, constitute the grazing animals. Their characters, (and excepting size and colour, their appearance,) are in all the species and varieties nearly the same. The head is small, the month destitute of canine teeth, the eyes large, and the ears erect and pointed. The fore part and fore legs of the animal are small, the latter being divided into five toes armed with strong claws. Towards the hind quarters the whole of the race get comparatively thick and strong, and the hind legs are long, powerful, and remark. ably elastic. The hind feet are singularly formed, they terminate in three toes, the central one remarkably long, and armed with a claw. The bottom of the feet is covered with an elastic substance, more abundant and yielding more readily to pressure than that found on the foot of almost any other animal. Some idea of the power of a kangaroo's hind leg may be formed from the fact that the elasticity of the two legs is sufficient, without any fulcrum, to throw an animal, weighing between two and three hundred weight, a distance of sixty, or, it is said, sometimes even ninety feet at a single bound, and that the instant the feet touch the ground, the animal is elevated to another leap. The tail is large and very muscular." *
[* Picture of Australia.]
"There are three or four varieties of kangaroos; those most common, and which furnish sport in the chase, are denominated the forester and brush kangaroo. They grow to an immense size, and have been known to weigh twelve stone. Kangaroos frequently herd together; they are remarkably swift, and bound from fifteen to twenty feet at first starting.
"The brush kangaroo is much smaller and frequents the scrubs and rocky hills.
"The wallabee is not very common, although found in abundance near the mountains; they seldom weigh more than twenty-five or thirty pounds, and are much superior in flavour to any others of the kangaroo species.
"There are two kinds of opossums, the large or grey, and the ring-tailed; they are both very harmless, and in shape not unlike the pole-cat They live in the hollow of trees, and feed upon the leaves of the peppermint and young grass. The skins of these animals are very beautiful.
"The kangaroo rat is a small inoffensive animal, and perfectly distinct from the ordinary species of rat, indeed it may be called the kangaroo in miniature; it is about the size of a wild rabbit, and bounds exactly like a kangaroo.
"The bandicoot is as large as a rabbit. There are two kinds, the rat and the rabbit bandicoot, they both burrow in the earth, and live upon roots and plants. The flesh of the latter is white and delicious.
"The opossum mouse is about the size of our largest barn mouse, it is a fac simile of the opossum; when caught it soon becomes very tame like the rest of the animals in the island. Manna is the food they exist upon, they are exceedingly pretty, and their skins impart the most agreeable aromatic scent.
"The native porcupine or echidna is not very common nor so large as that found in America. It appears to be a species of animal between the porcupine and hedge-hog; it is quite harmless.
"The only animals that can be termed carnivorous, are the small hyena, the devil, and the native cat. The hyena, or as it is sometimes called the tiger, is about the size of a large terrier. It frequents the wilds of Tasmania, and is scarcely beard of in the located districts. "When sheep run in large flocks near the mountains, these animals destroy a great many lambs. The female produces five or six at a birth: the skin resembles the striped hyena.
"The devil, or as naturalists term it, 'dasyurus ursinus,' is very properly named, if it is meant as a designation for the most forbidding and ugly of the animal creation. It is as great a destroyer of young lambs as the hyena, and, generally speaking, is as large as a middle sized dog. The head resembles that of an otter in shape, but is out of proportion with the rest of the body; the mouth is furnished with three rows of double teeth; the legs are short with the feet similar to the cat, being covered with a tough skin free from hair; the skin resembles the sable in colour; the tail is short and thick; it is generally found in the clefts of rocks contiguous to the mountains, or on stony hills; the head appears to be full of scabs, as though the animal was diseased; they are very slow on their legs, are taken in small pit falls, and killed by dogs.
"The native cat resembles our pole-cat or weazel as to its mode of living. It is between the size of the two, and infests the hen-roosts, and is a great destroyer of all kinds of poultry. They are found in hollow trees and under dead timber: their skins are either grey or black spotted.
"The feathered tribes of Van Diemen's Land are numerous. The sea and other water-fowl consist of gulls of various kinds, boobies, noddies, shags, gornets, cormorants, pelicans, black swans (very abundant), the musk-duck, and all kinds of the duck tribe. The land birds, generally speaking, are all of them curious and beautiful. The numbers of various kinds of parrots and parroquets, clothed in the most beautiful plumage, are almost beyond description. The cockatoos are as great destroyers of corn, during the seed time and harvest, as crows are in England.
"Tasmania may be said to be entirely without singing birds, although the parroquets sing admirably when taught and rendered tame. The tribes of small birds are various, but very unlike any birds seen in England. The crows are similar to those in England, with the exception of white eyes. There are two kinds of magpies, the one completely black, the other like ours, but differently marked: neither is so mischievous or destructive.
"The birds of prey are, the eagle, owls, bats, and the different kinds of hawks, which are much like those in England. Many of the large hawks are perfectly white.
"The pigeons are by far the most beautiful birds in the island; they are called bronze winged pigeons. They are more like the partridge than the pigeon, and much more delicious to eat. The wings are beautifully variegated with gold-coloured feathers. They are wild, though easily shot off the stubble, where they feed in large quantities. There are smaller kinds of pigeons, and a beautiful species of dove, whose cooing is a melancholy tone."
"The birds that may be called game, are very numerous, with the exception of the emu or native ostrich, they very much resemble the latter bird, and are nearly as large. They leave the mountains to feed in the plains, and are sometimes caught by the kangaroo dogs. They are exceedingly swift, and, like the ostrich, have no power to raise themselves from the earth.
"The quail, of which there are three kinds, are far more numerous, in many parts of the island, than the partridge in England. They are much larger than the quail of any other country, and afford to the sportsman capital shooting.
"Snipes are found in great abundance, from September to March, in the lakes and wet valleys. They are precisely like the snipe of England, but not near so wild. Wild ducks and widgeons are also found in all the principal fresh water rivers.
"The bittern is rare and not frequently met with. Plovers are not numerous. There are two kinds, the golden and silver plover. The baldcoot, and a large bird called the native hen, and the heron frequent the lakes.
"The coast and harbours abound with various kinds of fish; few, or any of them, are known in Europe. The market of Hobart Town is principally supplied from the Derwent, with small rock cod, flat-heads, and a fish called the perch, and various others. Sharks and porpoises are common in the river, within a mile or two of the town, and several large black whales have been killed in the harbour.
"Of the several kinds of reptiles, none are so common as the snake; they-vary in size from one to six feet long. At the sight of a man, they generally make their escape into holes in the ground or beneath old trees.
"Centipedes, scorpions, and a small kind of lizard and frogs are to be seen, but not very commonly.
"The insects are not so numerous or so annoying as in most other countries. The ant, the mosquito, and a common green fly are chiefly seen. The mosquito does not sting so severely as in hotter climates." *
[* Widowson's Present State of Van Diemen's Land.]
The immediate neighbourhood of Hobart Town was the first part of the island brought under cultivation; and in order to induce emigration, grants of land were given by General Macquarrie, Governor of New South Wales, almost indiscriminately, to those who applied for them. The advantage of roads, and consequently the facilities of sending produce to Hobart Town, confined the settlements almost exclusively to a northern direction, which on that line passes through what was supposed to be the best land in the island; and as cultivation extended north from the Derwent to the Tamar, the quality of the land improved and the climate became milder; but till the late discoveries, which have been made by Mr. Hellyer and Mr. Fossey, the character of the whole surface of the island was supposed to be good. Mr. Widowson, who published his work on the present state of Van Diemen's Land so late as the year 1829, commences his introduction by the following account.
"Of all our ultra-marine possessions, vast and valuable as many of them are, no one excites so much interest, in the proper sense of the word, as our different settlements in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. They are not rich in mines, sugar-canes, cochineal, or cotton, but they are blessed with a climate, which, though different in different places, is yet, on the whole, favourable to the health, comfort, and industry of Europeans. They exhibit an almost endless extent of surface, various as to aspect and capability, but taken together, suited in an extraordinary degree to the numerous purposes of rural economy, the plough and spade, the dairy and sheep walk. The emigrant has not to wage hopeless and ruinous war with interminable forests and impregnable jungles, as he finds prepared by the hand of nature extensive plains ready for the ploughshare, and capable of repaying manifold in the first season." *
[* Widowson's State of Van Diemen's Land.]
Such, though perhaps stated in too glowing terms, was the character of the country between Hobart Town and Launceston, having extensive plains lightly timbered, upon which sheep might be immediately placed; but greater experience has shewn that such is not a faithful picture of those parts of Van Diemen's Land which have been lately explored.
The first difficulties experienced by settlers, even in that part of the island which best deserved the eulogium given to it, arose from those who had prior possession, the Bushrangers and the Aborigines. The Bushrangers were convicts who escaped from penal settlements, or from individuals to whom they had been assigned, formed themselves into banditti, and as Mr. Curr expressed it, "ranged the woods of the island, and for a period of six years committed the most cruel and daring robberies. Their leader, Michael Howe, was a notorious character, who was, after a long warfare, killed in October 1818, and who might be properly called the last of the Bushrangers." * From that period, little inconvenience has arisen from the ravages of banditti, though convicts have occasionally escaped and resorted to plunder and to concealment in the woods. The Aborigines have, however, continued their depredations upon the property of settlers, and some murders have very lately taken place. This is a subject which must occasion grief and distress to every man of common feeling. The original possessors of the land must have regarded the European settlers as invaders or uninvited, obtrusive guests; and the occupation of land and encroachment upon their hunting grounds, could be alone justified, by the hope that these degraded and wretched savages might be taught the arts of civilized life, and from a state of misery and precarious subsistence advanced to comfort and happiness. These objects ought to have been kept in view and perseveringly followed, and so far as it has been in the power of government at home to instruct, and the colonial government to follow their orders, every effort has been made to conciliate and civilize the Aborigines. Unable, however, to draw distinctions, they have regarded all white men as their enemies, and have visited the innocent with that cruelty and resentment which a savage must naturally feel for injuries received. Finding that all efforts to conciliate failed, it was at length determined to endeavour by one general effort on the part of the military and the settlers to surround the natives, to drive them to a corner of the island, where there was sufficient space allowed for their hunting and fishing, and then to prevent them from going to the located districts. This plan also has not succeeded; the savage was too well acquainted with the nature of the country, and eluded his pursuers; but since that time, a gentleman, Mr. G. A. Robinson, has nobly volunteered to visit the different tribes, and personally to risk his own life, by throwing himself unarmed amongst them, and endeavouring to induce them to accompany him to one of the islands in Bass's Straits, which will be assigned to the natives and to them alone. The various instructions and proceedings relating to this subject were printed by order of the House of Commons, 23d September, 1831, and as it must be interesting to every proprietor of this Company, it has been thought best, after giving an account of Captain Cook's first interview with the natives, so that their original character and disposition may be in some measure known, to give in an Appendix, ample extracts from those parliamentary papers.
[* Curr's Account of Van Diemen's Land.]
Captain Cook gives the following account of his first interview with the natives.
"We were agreeably surprised at the place where we were cutting wood with a visit from some of the natives, eight men and a boy. They approached us from the woods without betraying any marks of fear, or rather with the greatest confidence imaginable, for none of them had any weapons except one, who held in his hand a stick about two feet long and pointed at the end.
"They were quite naked and wore no ornaments, unless we consider as such, and as a proof of their love of finery, some large punctures or ridges raised on different parts of their bodies, some in straight and others in curved lines.
"They were of the common stature, but rather slender, their skin was black and also their hair, which was as woolly as any native of Guinea, but they were not distinguished by remarkably thick lips nor flat noses; on the contrary, their features were far from being disagreeable. They had pretty good eyes, and their teeth were tolerably even, but dirty; most of them had their hair and beards smeared with a red ointment, and some had their faces also painted with the same composition.
"They received every present we made them without the least appearance of satisfaction. When some bread was given, as soon as they understood that it was to be eaten, they either returned it or threw it away without even tasting it. They also refused some elephant flesh both raw and dressed, which we offered to them: but upon giving some birds to them, they did not return these, but easily made us comprehend that they were fond of such food. I had brought two pigs ashore, with a view to leave them in the woods. The instant these came within their reach, they seized them as a dog would have done, by the ears, and were for carrying them off immediately, with no other intention, as we could perceive, but to kill them.
"Being desirous of knowing the use of the stick which one of our visitors carried in his hand, I made signs to them to shew me, and so far succeeded that one of them set up a piece of wood as a mark and threw at it, at the distance of about twenty yards: but we had little reason to commend his dexterity, for after repeated trials, he was still very wide from the object Omai,* to shew them how much superior our weapons were to theirs, then fired his musket at it, which alarmed them so much, that notwithstanding all we could do or say, they ran instantly into the woods; one of them was so frightened that he let drop an axe and two knives that had been given to him. From us, however, they went to the place where some of the Discovery's people were employed in taking water into their boat. The officer of that party, not knowing that they had paid us a friendly visit, nor what their intent might be, fired a musket in the air, which sent them off with the greatest precipitation: thus ended our first visit with the natives.
[* A native of the South Sea Islands, who accompanied Captain Furneaux, and came with him to England.]
"The morning of the 29th January (1777) was ushered in with a dead calm, which continued all day and effectually prevented our sailing. I therefore sent a party over to the east side of the bay to cut grass, having been informed that some of a superior quality grew there. Another party, to cut wood, was ordered to go to the usual place, and I accompanied them myself. We had observed several of the natives this morning sauntering along the shore, which assured us, that though their consternation had made them leave us abruptly the day before, they were convinced that we intended them DO mischief, and were desirous of renewing the intercourse. It was natural that I should wish to be present on the occasion. We had not been long landed, before twenty of them, men and boys, joined us without expressing the least sign of fear or distrust. There was one of this company conspicuously deformed, and who was not more distinguishable by the hump on his back, than by the drollery of his gestures and the seeming humour of his speeches, which he was very fond of exhibiting, as we supposed Tor our entertainment. Some of our present group wore loose round their necks three or tour folds of small cord, made of the fur of some animal, and others of them had a narrow slip of kangaroo skin tied round their ankles.
"After staying about an hour with the wooding party and the natives, as I could now be pretty confident that the latter were not likely to give the former any disturbance, I left them, and returned on board to dinner, where, some time after. Lieutenant King arrived. From him I learnt that I had but just left the shore, when several women and children made their appearance, and were introduced to him by some of the men who attended them; he gave presents to all of such trifles as he had about him. These females wore a kangaroo skin, in the shape as it came from the animal, tied over the shoulders and round the waist; but its only use seemed to be to support their children when carried on their backs, for it did bot cover those parts which most nations conceal, being in all other respects as naked as the men and as black, and their bodies marked with scars in the same manner. But in this they differed from the men, that, though their hair was of the same colour and texture, some of them had their heads completely shorn or shaved: in others, this operation had been performed only on one side, while the rest of them had all the upper part of the head shorn close, leaving a circle of hair all round, somewhat like the tonsure of the Romish ecclesiastics. Many of the children had fine features and were thought pretty; but of the persons of the women, especially those advanced in years, a less favourable report was made. However, some of the gentlemen belonging to the Discovery, I was told, paid their addresses and made liberal offers of presents, which were rejected with great disdain, whether from a sense of virtue or the fear of displeasing the men, I shall not pretend to determine. That this gallantry was not very agreeable to the latter is certain, for an elderly man, as soon as he observed it, ordered all the women and children to retire, which they obeyed, though some of them shewed a little reluctance." *
[* Cook's Voyages.]
Such is the account given of the Aborigines by Captain Cook. The documents printed in the Appendix shew the cruel and inhuman manner in which these poor savages have been since treated, and the measures which it is now deemed necessary to adopt, in order to put a stop to their ravages, and to protect the persons and properties of settlers.
Difficulties of first Settlers—Sheep, Cattle, Horses—Table of Population—Live Stuck—Acres of Land under Cultivation—Wool imported into Great Britain from Australia—Fisheries—Commerce—Gardens—Hobart Town—Launceston—Roods—Ports—Towns—Mountains.
The two difficulties with which the settlers in Van Diemen's Land have had peculiarly to contend, are the Bushrangers and the Aborigines. Another, which is common to all distant settlements, is the communication with the mother country or with others whence they could obtain supplies until they were able to cultivate their lands to produce sufficient food for their wants: the consequence was, that early settlers suffered severely from famine.
The year 1819 may be considered the period from which the colony of Van Diemen's Land has risen to consequence and wealth, but even at that time there was some stock in the island of sheep, cattle, and horses; and though free emigration had not been encouraged, various individuals had settled there, and large districts of land had been granted. A commission of enquiry was established by government in that year, in order to ascertain the actual state of the colonies of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, and reports were drawn up by Commissioner Bigg, and printed by order of the House of Commons in the years 1822 and 1823. These reports give the most, authentic account of the state of the infancy of the colonies when Colonel Sorell was the lieutenant-governor of Van Diemen's Land.
From these official reports it appears, that the breed of sheep was then in the lowest state. The following extract from Commissioner Bigg's Reports will best shew the nature of the flocks, and the anxious attention given to them by the lieutenant-governor.
"The breed of sheep now prevailing in Van Diemen's Land was derived from a flock imported by Colonel Paterson from New South Wales. These sheep were of the Teeswater breed, and have since received a slight admixture with the sheep of the Leicester breed and with a few that have been imported from Bengal. Of the latter there are few remaining, and the traces are nearly extinct From the access that the sheep of these settlements have had to new pasturage, they have thriven rapidly and as quickly increased in number.
"By the return made of New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, the muster of 1818, the number of sheep is stated to have amounted to 127,883. In 1819 it is stated to have been 172,128; and by the return made to the muster 1820, the number of both settlements is stated to have amounted to 182,468.
"From the statement made by Mr. Deputy Commissary-General Hull, the returns given in at the annual muster, especially of the number of ewes, are not to be depended upon. The general embarrassment of the settlers, and the wish to swell the amount of their property, as well as to entitle themselves to a share of the supply required for the king's stores, all operate to give a delusive character to these returns. The state of the flocks will, however, in some measure account for the rapidity of their increase: it was the custom to allow the sheep of all ages and sizes to herd together in the same flock, and the lambs were allowed to breed before they had attained the age of seven months. Little improvement has taken placp either in the size or in the fleeces of the sheep of Van Diemen's Land; nor did it appear likely to take place under the management of the present proprietors and as long as their attention was devoted to the single object of supplying the stores with meat.
"Lieutenant-Governor Sorell had for some time been impressed with the necessity of making some effort to improve the value of the wool; and after communicating with Mr. M'Arthur upon the best means of effecting it, Governor Macquarrie sanctioned an agreement by which that gentleman delivered, at Sydney, 300 lambs of the improved Merino breed in exchange for a certain quantity of land in New Sooth Wales. The lambs were embarked in a large vessel that was destined for Van Diemen's Land, and every care was taken for their security and preservation during the voyage. In consequence, however, of their long detention at Sydney after their embarkation, on account of some private business of the captain and of the great number of lambs that were put on board and necessarily confined between the decks, ninety-one died on the passage, 209 were landed, and of them twenty-four died soon afterwards.
"A distribution of 181 lambs, valued at seven guineas each, took place at Hobart Town in the month of September, 1820, to the individuals whom Lieutenant-Governor Sorell considered most capable of giving attention to the improvement of their fleeces, and the number appropriated to each individual was also regulated by him, on due consideration of the application that was made to him and the character of the applicants. Securities were likewise given from each person for the repayment of the value of the lambs thus distributed, and amounted to £1330 7s. 8d." * This may be considered the commencement of attempts to improve the fleeces in Van Diemen's Land, and to make the growth of wool important.
[* Bigg[e]'s Report, January 10, 1823.]
It is stated in Commissioner Bigg's Report that the breed of cattle prevalent in Van Diemen's Land, was derived from an admixture of the Bengal and the English breeds.
The ordinary weight of the cattle at three years old was about 470 pounds: they were much used for draught and all agricultural purposes. The number of cattle returned at the muster 1820. amounted to 28,838.
The number of horses was not stated in that report; but the deputy surveyor, Evans, states the number in that year to have been 411.
The land cultivated for wheat in 1820 appeared to be 9275 acres.
|In 1820 Hobart Town contained||1||house with three Stories.|
|20||houses with two Stories.|
|72||do. with ground floor.|
Having thus shewn what Van Diemen's Land was in 1820, by reference to the maps of the island hereto annexed, just published by Mr. Arrowsmith, and the following statistical tables, the proprietor will see the rapid advance made in the island, and the progress towards more extended cultivation. In this table the population and stock of the Van Diemen's Land Company is not included, as it appears in the annual report.
The whole white population in the island, including convicts in the prisoners' hulk and in chain gangs, is estimated at 20,735.
The number of the Aborigines is uncertain, but is estimated at 500.
The foregoing tables are formed from information contained in the Van Diemen's Land Anniversary and Hobart Town Almanack for the year 1831.
The chief article of exportation, in Value, from Van Diemen's Land is wool; the rapid increase in the quantity produced, together with the equally rapid improvement in the quality of the fleece,-must make that article the most important and, properly speaking, the staple commodity of the colony. Its growing importance to our manufacturers at home is equally great, the felting properties superior to the wool of other countries, and the peculiar softness of the texture make it very valuable to the cloth manufacturers, while the length of staple, combined with that softness, makes the heavier fleeces peculiarly adapted for the fabrics made from fine worsted. Every year adds to the value which the Australian colonies become to the mother country; and when it is considered, that a few merino sheep were introduced from Spain into Germany in the year 1780, and that wool was first imported from thence in 1809, it may be fairly estimated, that in the course of a few years we shall get our supplies of wool altogether from British soil. The following Table shews the rapid increase of importation, both from New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land.
Official Return of Quantities of Sheep's and Lamb's Wool, imported into Great Britain from New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, in each Year since 1821, shews its rapid Increase from both Colonies, but particularly from Van Diemen's Land:
|Year.||Quantities imported from
New South Wales and
Van Diemen's Land.
New South Wales.
Van Diemen's Land.
The next article of importance to the commerce of Van Diemen's Land is oil. The following extracts give much information upon that and other productions.
"The sperm whale abounds in the Australian seas, particularly in Bass's Straits, the oil of which fetches a high price in the English market; and it must be evident to every one, that if the merchants of London find it to their advantage to equip vessels there at a very heavy expense for such a distant speculation as a three years' voyage to the southern fishery, how much more profitable it would be for the mercantile people of Van Diemen's Land to enter into the trade, when they have the fish at their very doors? There would be no necessity for the ships keeping the sea so long to their great detriment, as they would have a port at hand to which they might resort, and there deposit their oil, refit, and take in fresh supplies. The capital required would also be much less, from the smaller size of the vessels, and the return being so much quicker, a ready sale being found on the spot, should the adventurer not be able to wait even so long as to send it to the English market. Having a valuable article to offer in return for these imports, and furnishing freight to vessels which are now obliged to go elsewhere in ballast to seek it, would tend much to increase the trade of the colony by attracting vessels, and to the benefit of the settlers by reducing the prices of articles from the greater importation caused by it.
"The whale which yields the black oil is extremely numerous all round the island, coming up even into the harbour, where the inhabitants may witness the animating spectacle of these huge monsters killed by the boats' crews belonging to the port One female went up as far as New Norfolk, twenty-four miles above Hobart Town, it is supposed for the purpose of calving, and was killed there.
"Seals are very numerous on the coasts and islands, and their skins are sent to England. No use whatever is made of the oil which this animal yields so abundantly, the carcases being generally left to rot by the fishermen. The skins of kangaroos and other animals, such as those of the opossum, tiger-cat, and platthypus, or ornythorhyncus * paradoxus, are exported, but in such trifling quantities as to be scarcely worth mentioning. The skin of the kangaroo answers, as well as kid skins, for the upper leathers of shoes, and is of a very soft, pleasant wear. Till lately, scarcely any attention was paid to the hides of the cattle that were slaughtered out of the towns; and even now very little care is bestowed upon them. Great quantities are consumed by the settlers themselves in making a rude sort of rope, by cutting the hide up into strips; and what are not so used, are generally thrown aside to rot. The curing of hides, and salting of beef for exportation are very worthy of attention on the part of the settlers. The herds of cattle are increasing so rapidly, and in many places are allowed to stray so much at large over the country, as to be almost valueless to the proprietors: it would be worth their while to slaughter very extensively, for the purposes mentioned. Few attempts have been made to salt beef for exportation; but were it properly done, India, the Mauritius, (and Swan River for some time,) would afford an extensive market, in supplying the navy and merchantmen. The latter generally bring a sufficiency of salt provisions for the voyage out and home; but were they sure of obtaining them good in India, it cannot be doubted but that they would be glad to avail themselves of the additional quantity of room, obtainable by only taking enough for their outward voyage. Some trials, in a small way, have been made in salting beef, which did not stand the changes of climate. There can be no doubt but that this must have arisen either from the method of curing pursued in England not being properly understood in the colony, or from the nature of the salt made use of. There is nothing in the climate to prevent meat being cured just as well as in any part of the world. Hams and bacon are cured in considerable quantities; and were proper attention paid to the English methods of doing it, they ought to furnish a considerable article for export to India, as well as cheese, the making of which is beginning to be more attended to in this colony.
[* The ornythorhynchi appear to blend several of the characters of the quadruped and the bird, and in one of the species even of the fish; they are four footed animals about twenty inches long, terminating at the head in a bill like that of a duck, and at the other end in a tail not unlike that of a seal.]
"The corn of Van Diemen's Land is particularly fine and heavy. Large quantities are exported annually to Sydney; and a few trials have been made of sending it, as also flour, to the Isle of France, where they have sold very well. Barley grows very luxuriantly; but from the little pains hitherto bestowed in keeping the seed free from admixture of other grains, it cannot be extensively used in brewing of malt liquor; to which, probably, may be attributed the slow progress in this branch of trade, as the brewers are obliged to purchase foreign barley at a high price. There are, however, five breweries established in Hobart Town, producing very good beer and ale. Imported hops are made use of at present; but attention is given to the growth of this very necessary article, to the raising of which the climate is found extremely favourable. It is to be hoped that at some no very distant period, beer may also afford an export to our Indian settlements, to which the voyage from hence is so much shorter than from England. The distance is now performed in two months, even in winter; and as the usual state of the winds, &c. become better known, it will, no doubt, be done in less time. There is but one distillery now at work in the island.
"The bark of the mimosa, or, as it is called in the colony 'the wattle tree' is found to answer extremely well in tanning leather, and to yield a very powerful extract for the same purpose. Of the latter not much is made, but great quantities of the bark are sent to England, the character of it becoming better understood. A small portion of the extract was also sent; but from ignorance of the mode of manufacture, it was boiled in iron vessels; so that, although of very great strength, it did not answer, from its imparting a colour to the leather and rendering it brittle. Time and experience will enable the colonists to manufacture it in a proper manner.
"Leather is tanned to a considerable extent in various places, and a great deal is consumed in the making of shoes, which are found very durable. A good deal of glue and parchment is also made. Hats are manufactured in Hobart Town; they have not, however, so good tax appearance as those sent from England.
"There is a considerable manufactory of salt in Brune's Island; but a great deal is still imported from England.
"The demand for soap is largely supplied by the manufactory of this article in Hobart Town. The barilla used is found on the islands in Bass's Straits, and the eastern coast of the island; and some little of the last-mentioned produce has been exported. It only requires command of labour and capital to develops the great resources which the island possesses within itself." *
[* An Account of Van Diemen's Land, printed at Calcutta.]
The above extracts shew the capabilities of Van Diemen's Land for general trade; considerable commerce has been carried on with the East Indies, the Mauritius, New South Wales, and the Brazil; the most important is, however, with the mother country, and the following, official Table of the quantities of the principal articles imported from thence, and the Table of the declared value of British and Irish produce and manufactures, together with the quantities of foreign and colonial produce exported in the last five years, viz. the years 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, and 1831, shew the growing importance of the trade with Van Diemen's Land, as well as respects the raw materials imported from thence, so essential to our national industry, as the increasing demand for our manufactures. It is indeed to our own colonies and to distant markets that the British merchant must look for the consumption of the chief fabrics of Great Britain, the demand for which will be reduced by the extension of manufactures on the continent of Europe.
An Account of the Quantities of the principal Articles Imported into the United Kingdom from Van Diemen's Land, during the last five years.
An Account of the Exports from the United Kingdom to Van Diemen's Land, in each of the last Five Years.
[Click on the table to enlarge it.]
Hobart Town is the capital of Van Diemen's Land, the chief residence of the Governor, and the seat of Government. It is situate on the west side of the Derwent, near the north extremity of the district to which it gives the name. A fine stream of water, taking its rise from the foot of Mount Wellington, about four miles distant, runs through the town. The banks On each side rise all round in gentle eminences, on which the town is built. The houses being built originally on small separate allotments of land, consisting of a quarter of an acre each, the view, as the stranger walks along, is left unobstructed, and generally commands a delightful prospect over the town and buildings. The streets are laid out intersecting each other at right angles. An amphitheatre of gently rising hills, beautifully clothed with trees and crowned by Mount Wellington 4000 feet high, defends it from the westerly winds, while the Derwent with its beautiful bays skirts it on the east. The town contained, in 1831, as recorded in the Hobart Town Almanack, 783 houses and 6000 inhabitants. There are in the town, six corn-mills, four breweries, a soap manufactory, about eight tanneries, and a hat manufactory. Shipbuilding is carried on to the extent of about 200 tons per annum, and its foreign trade with England, the Brazils, and the East Indian archipelago is considerable. The whale fishery is also carried on to a large extent. The next town in importance is Launceston. It is the capital of the district of that name, the residence of a civil commandant, and garrisoned by a considerable detachment of troops. Assizes are held there, and they have courts of requests and quarter sessions. It is situate at the confluence of the North and South Esk, which here form the Tamar. The water is salt and is navigable for vessels of 300 tons up to the town. It maintains a frequent and prosperous trade with Sydney, being nearly in the centre of a very fertile corn country; six or seven ships are also loaded at Launceston annually for England, with wool, bark, and wheat, and there is a constant intercourse with Swan River. Launceston is indeed fast advancing in wealth and consequence, and 13 likely to become the most considerable commercial town in the eastern hemisphere. Its rapid increase in population and trade will soon make it vie with, and probably surpass Hobart Town in importance.
The following account of a journey from Hobart Town to Launceston, is extracted from the book printed at Calcutta.
"The distance from Hobart Town to Launceston, north of Hobart Town, is 124 miles by the present road, which is most excellent throughout, except in a very few places; made on Mac Adam's principle, and kept in very good repair by different chain gangs, who are also employed in making new portions of road wherever it is found to shorten the distance, or to go through a tract of country easier for cattle to travel. At present, travellers going the north road are obliged to cross the Derwent fiver by various ferries, which are not pleasant when the wind is strong. To obviate the inconvenience resulting from the difficulty of transit for carts and goods, a causeway is building at the Black Snake, about eleven miles from Hobart Town, reducing the channel of the river to about 200 yards of deep water, across which a flying bridge will traverse; and a new line of road has been cut from thence into the old one, shortening the distance by three miles. An excellent and handsome white freestone bridge is building on this line, over the Jordan River, which falls into the Derwent, after a very long and tortuous course. Besides the great north road, there are various others penetrating into different districts. One goes to New Norfolk, distant twenty-four miles, which is a large and thriving village in a beautiful situation on the Derwent. The Governor has a country house here, to which he frequently retires for a little relaxation from public business. Another, after crossing the Derwent at Kangaroo Point, goes to Richmond and Jericho, besides branches to many other districts. In addition to the macadamized roads made, and in progress in various parts of the colony, there are tracks into every part where settlements have been made, that can be travelled over in a gig without the slightest difficulty.
"The means of accommodation on the great roads are numerous and excellent at the different inns, of which there are no Jess than sixteen between Hobart Town and Launceston, and they are equally numerous on all the other roads. The 'entertainment for man and horse' is generally very good, and the charges not very greatly above the inns in Hobart Town. The scenery is every where most romantic, and will well repay the traveller for the fatigue of his journey. Among the most beautiful places may be mentioned the village of New Town, distant about three miles from Hobart Town, consisting chiefly of gentlemen's houses and properties, well cleared, cultivated, and laid out into gardens and meadows: it is on the bank of the Derwent, the views of which at this spot are quite charming. This place reminds one of a quiet English village, and it only requires a spire to render the illusion complete. Perth, on the South Esk, distant twelve miles from Launceston, is also another romantic village with which the traveller will be much struck, as well as with the beauty of the river, which glides silently between its sloping banks, covered with the finest verdure.
"George Town is forty miles from Launceston, and 164 from Hobart Town, within four miles of the entrance of Port Dalrymple, which is the name of the mouth of the Tamar, where it falls into Bass's Straits. This is but a small place, and has fallen much into decay since the head quarters were removed from it to Launceston.
"Besides these places there are various other towns and villages; some of them, however, merely as yet in name, and others which are advancing considerably; among which may be mentioned Perth, Green Ponds, Oatlands, Jericho, Campbell Town, Richmond, and Sorell Town,—some of them very prettily situated.
"There are several ranges of mountains in various parts of the country, of considerable height; the greatest elevation as yet ascertained is about 5000 feet above the sea, and the summits of them are covered with snow throughout the year: very little is known of these ranges, the difficulty of penetrating their recesses having hitherto baffled the explorers. What is called the Western Tier has as yet proved a bar to ascertaining the capabilities of the country on the western side of the island.
"The dwellings of the settlers are generally at considerable distances from each other, and mostly in the style of farm houses; though many of them belonging to the larger proprietors are excellent dwellings, built either of weather boards, brick, or stone, with out-offices of every description. In some places, however, the houses are so near to each other as to form very picturesque hamlets. There are numerous small churches and chapels already built, both by government and private subscription, and others proposed and in progress. Several chaplains are stationed in the larger townships, and in the smaller ones there are what are called catechists, who read prayers on Sundays. There are district assistant surgeons stationed in various parts of the colony, to afford medical aid to the convicts and military detachments, who are paid by government for their services. There are many very excellent private practitioners in Hobart Town and Launceston, as well as a few in the other parts of the country; so that there is no want of medical attendance, although, in such a climate, it is not much required.
"There is no difficulty of communication by letters, mails being transported on horseback to all the principal districts in the country; and the more distant settlers send their letters to particular places appointed for them. The rates are yet rather high, but some new arrangement is about to be made regarding the postage, as well as to make the days of despatch more numerous.
"The seasons in Van Diemen's Land may be divided as follows. The spring commences in September, the summer in December, the autumn in March, and the winter in June. It is some time before the emigrant from the northern hemisphere gets reconciled to this complete inversion of the seasons. Christmas falls in the midst of summer; and the state of the weather quite outrages all the associations of ideas he has so long cherished, as connected with that period of festivity. Time, however, accustoms him to this, as well as to seeing the indigenous evergreens covered with foliage in the depth of winter. Trees grown from imported seeds or cuttings, shed their leaves in the autumn of this country, the same as in Europe.
"The climate seems peculiarly favourable' to raising all kinds of vegetable productions; the only thing they suffer from, are the night frosts in summer, which, however, do not prevail so much near Hobart Town and Launceston as in the more elevated parts in the interior of the island. They may be attributed to the immense forests retaining the moisture, which is acted upon by the piercing winds, from which, in the present open and uninclosed state of the country, the plants are not at all defended. As the woods get cleared and hedge-rows more extensively introduced, the effect of these frosts may be expected to be very much diminished. The hawthorn, whin, and all other plants fit for this purpose, grow most luxuriantly, and the planting of them is coming extensively into practice. Fruit-trees of all kinds grow most rapidly, and what is surprising to an European, generally commence bearing in the third year. Apple orchards have been formed to a great extent: much of the fruit is of a very good quality, and grows to an immense size. An apple fifteen inches and a half in circumference, and weighing from seventeen to nineteen ounces, is not uncommon. The making of cider is only just now beginning to be thought of; but some of the colonists now perceive what an excellent beverage may be obtained for themselves, and servants, with little expense and trouble, and are turning their attention to this. It is to be hoped, that ere many years have elapsed, the making of cider will afford an export, and at the same time tend to diminish the present great consumption of spirits. Peaches, apricots, and nectarines grow very luxuriantly, and bear abundantly; but being for the most part from seedlings, they are of an inferior sort. The peaches in particular abound so much, as to be left to rot on the ground, or are thrown to the pigs.
"Grafting is becoming extensively practised, and we may hope, in a few years, to see as fine varieties of fruit here as in any part of the world. Damsons, plums, and green-gages, cherries, pears, and quinces, are all to be had, but are not, generally, very good. The grape-vine grows so well here and bears so plentifully, as to afford reasonable hopes that at some future period it will not be found impracticable to manufacture wine. Some little was made from grapes in a garden near Hobart Town, but had not attained a sufficient age to allow of any judgment being formed. A gentleman had taken a suburb allotment, near Hobart Town, intending to form a vineyard for the purpose of making experiments on the manufacture of wine. Gooseberries and currants are grown of the finest size and quality. The crops of raspberries are, however, the most astonishing. The bushes grow to an enormous height, and bear such quantities of fruit as have, in all probability, never been seen any where else. A great deal of most excellent jam is made and sold in the towns, as well as jellies and preserves front many other sorts of fruit, of a very good quality. The cheapness of sugar and the abundance of the fruit will, ere long, induce the colonists to turn their attention to sending these luxuries to the Indian market.
"Strawberries grow very well, but are not as yet abundant
"Vegetables of all kinds are most plentiful in the colony, and of the finest quality. There is little trouble in rearing them at almost any season of the year, from the general mildness of the climate; as an instance of which, geraniums are grown in the open air, attaining a great size, and being in bloom all the year. That tender plant mignionette, may be said never to be out of blossom. Every thing that can be grown in England may be raised here, of the finest quality; and most of the vegetable productions of Southern Europe, which require so much care and expense to be bestowed upon them in England, may be had without much of either in this colony." *
[* Account of Van Diemen's Land, published at Calcutta.]
Convict Labour and Emigration—Prospects of Proprietors and Settlers.
Van Diemen's Land is indebted for its present prosperous condition chiefly to crimes committed in Great Britain. Its lands have been cleared, its roads constructed, its towns built, by men who had either forfeited their lives to the offended laws of their country, (which had been spared by the mercy of their king,) or by men who, for the commission of acts a shade lower in guilt, were banished from their families and their homes.
When the Australian colonies first became penal settlements, sentence of transportation was attended with severe labour and great suffering. The accounts sent by convicts, both of their voyage and their treatment on arrival, tended to show that they were really receiving punishment due to their crime; that whatever situation they might have filled in England, it could not be improved in exile, but that the verdict of a jury and the sentence of a judge brought upon them disgrace, misery, and wretchedness. It was a common saying, that the sentence of transportation was very little better than that of death. The following account as to the nature of this punishment was given in evidence, by Mr. E. G. Wakefield, before a select committee of the House of Commons, in August last.
"I was also asked as to the effect of transportation to an unwholesome colony, and I wish to remark upon that point, that transportation to the most unwholesome colony, could not be so severe as was the system of transportation, when first introduced, to New South Wales. During the first four or five years of the existence of that colony, the contracts for the transportation of prisoners were made for 80 many embarked from England, not for so many disembarked in the colony; the consequence was, that the captains of the transports had a direct interest in killing the prisoners; and the fact was, as to a great number of ships one third; as to a considerable number a half, and as to some two thirds, of the prisoners died on the passage. It is a well known fact. I derive it from books and various sources. It was a severe punishment, indeed, it was capital punishment as to a very large proportion of the persons sentenced to transportation; it was much more severe as a punishment than transportation now would be, to the most unwholesome colony we possess." *
[* Mr. Wakefield's Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
Mr. William Walker, who resided in New South Wales about seventeen years, stated, in evidence before the same committee, "that in the earlier days of the colony. Government were obliged to cultivate food for the supply of the people, and that convicts were all sent to government farms, in the first instance, and worked very hard; the work was there very severe, and they were much afraid of it. That those labourers, after having served government, were, after a short space of time, assigned to the settlers and he had heard the oldest settlers in the colony say, they never had such men in their employment as those who had been worked at the government farms." **
[** Mr. William Walker's Evidence before the same Committee.]
Thus transportation acted as a preventive to crime, and the accounts sent home by convicts deterred others from its commission. The ameliorated system with respect to the voyage was, indeed, most necessary, but the relaxation which has taken place as to employment on arrival has had a most pernicious effect, and from too much severity, it has become too lenient. Let the original system be contrasted with that which was adopted by General Macquarrie, when Governor of New South Wales, and the injurious consequences of which has required all the energy of General Darling to counteract.
Mr. James Busby, late collector of the internal revenue of New South Wales, and a member of the land-board of that colony, besides giving clear and conclusive verbal evidence, addressed a letter to the select committee of the House of Commons, from which the following is extracted.
"In the management and discipline of convicts in New South Wales, the local government has seldom, if ever, adverted to the punishment of transportation with reference to its operation as a preventive from crime in the mother country.
"It was the invariable practice of General Macquarrie, during the long period of his administration, to assure the newly arrived convict, that his past conduct would be entirely overlooked, and that his future treatment would altogether depend upon the line of conduct he should thenceforward adopt. The prospect held out to him, was not punishment for the past, but encouragement for the future, and he had the most ample evidence in the circumstances of many of the convicts, that the way not only to indulgence, but even to wealth and a certain degree of distinction, was open to his ambition.
"With the reformation of the convict which was the object aimed at by this treatment, there was combined another object, which contributed to procure him additional indulgence, viz., the value of his labour, which it was necessary to make available in the cultivation of the land, and in providing the necessary accommodation of public buildings; whether employed in the public works or in the service of individuals, his labour was stimulated by the reward of permission to work for his own behoof, during a part of each week, and then in every shape a mitigation of his punishment became the ruling principle of his treatment.
"Up to the present day, the same principles, though under considerable restriction in their application, have continued to prevail. The convicts have been distributed to the service of the settlers or retained in that of government, with a view to the demands of their labour and to the saving of expense in their maintenance, rather than to an uniform and indiscriminative system of discipline; and while they were encouraged to good conduct by the prospect of a remission of their sentence, their industry has been often either directly prompted by a share in its advantages, or they have found means to elude the controul of their overseers, or to obtain their connivance in turning it to their own account. They look forward to the privilege of what is called a ticket of leave, which good conduct during a certain period will procure them, and by which they are allowed to work for their own exclusive benefit; and although their residence is restricted to a certain district, they are in other respects entirely at their own disposal, so long as their conduct is such as to escape the notice of the police.
"A convict for seven years is allowed his privilege of a ticket of leave at the end of four years' service; a convict of fourteen years, after six years'; and a convict for life, after eight years' service, provided they shall have continued during their respective periods in the service of one master.
"It has been the tendency of such a system to banish from their own minds the salutary feeling, that they were doomed to eat the bitter fruits of bondage as a satisfaction to the injured Jaws of their country, and as a beacon to others to avoid a similar course of conduct; and now that all the hardships inseparable from the first settlement and earlier stages of a colony have been overcome, the situation of a majority has been such as rather to excite the envy than the dread of the poorer classes in England, to whom their condition is understood to be well known.
"Whatever advantages, therefore, the present system of transportation may afford to the colony, by supplying, at a cheap rate, its demands for labour, (to it the most valuable of all commodities,) it is not to be wondered at, that its inefficiency in the objects of its first institution, as a punishment and a preventive from crime, should at length have attracted the attention of his majesty's government." *
[* Mr. Busby's evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
This contrast in the punishment consequent on the sentence of transportation at the early settlement of the Australian colonies and at the present time, clearly shews, that as a preventive of crime transportation has ceased to be useful, the reverse, indeed, may be fairly presumed; that the change of the condition of the labourer from his generally wretched condition at home, to his comparatively comfortable state in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land, acts as a premium and a stimulus to crime.
Mr. Wontner, the highly respectable governor of Newgate, though he admits that some sentenced to transportation appear to suffer much mental anxiety on the subject, says, "I think the evil is this, that persons who are sentenced to transportation know that their friends are exerting themselves to get good situations for them, and they are receiving information from New South Wales, that this person and that person, whom they had known here, are in situations where they are getting money; this makes transportation no terror to them." *
[* Mr. Wontner's Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
Mr. E. G. Wakefield, who, from his long confinement in Newgate, was well qualified to form a correct opinion, says, "I had particular opportunities of observing the impression made upon the minds of convicts under sentence of transportation, because, in the first place, there is always a considerable number of such persons in Newgate, and, secondly, Newgate is a sort of lodging-house for convicts coming from the country prisons; they remain there for a short time, but quite long enough to give any body who is an inmate of the prison an opportunity of observing the impression upon their minds. I took very great pains, during the course of three years, to observe the state of mind of those persons, and I do not now remember a single instance in which a prisoner appeared to me to be deeply affected by the prospect of being transported to the colonies; on most occasions, when I examined any prisoner, I found his mind bent upon the colonies, when he expected to go there, and bent upon attaining a degree of wealth and happiness such as he had no prospect of attaining in this country. Amongst a number of persons sentenced to transportation, and living together, I have generally found one, and sometimes two or three, who had already been in the colonies; and it is very seldom a session passes at the Old Bailey without the conviction of some man who has been transported before, consequently, the convicts associating with these men, have the best opportunities of hearing reports as to the state of the convicts in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land. These reports are always exceedingly favourable; in many cases, no doubt, they are much exaggerated in favour of the convict, because a man who returns from transportation takes pleasure in making people believe that he has cheated the law, and that he has enjoyed himself, notwithstanding the sentence passed upon him. But whilst some allowance must be made for this exaggeration of the returned convict, the story he has to tell is, when true, a very favourable one in the estimation of these people. He states such facts as, that a great number of the persons who keep carriages in Sydney were once convicts, and he gives the names of those persons, and describes how they, in the course of a very few years, have raised themselves from the situation of convicts to that of the most important persons, in point of wealth perhaps, in the colony. All these representations are received with great delight by the convicts, and those who think upon the subject at alt, go out with the prospect of benefiting themselves and doing well." *
[* Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
Mr. James Busby stated, "I have known individuals who have committed crimes to get to New South Wales, and I think I have known of people who have endeavoured to induce their relatives or connexions to commit crime in order to get them sent out." *
[* Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
Thomas Potter Macqueen, Esq., late member for Bedfordshire, goes still further, and states, in evidence to the same committee, "I consider the condition of the convict labourers in New South Wales as infinitely superior to that of the agricultural labourers of this country; and I have found, from my own experience u a magistrate, that many persons have asked me what extent of crime would insure them transportation." *
[* Evidence before the Committee of the House of Commons.]
With these facts, so stated, coming from different persons, holding different situations, but all confirmatory, is it too much to say, that the sentence of transportation, upon the present system, is an incentive and premium to crime? The effect upon the morals of the lowest classes in this country cannot be mistaken, and the effect upon the colonies is also injurious; for however beneficial the labour of convicts has been, it does not follow, that under a more severe system, with more labour, greater coercion, and more restraint, it would not, even from those convicts, have been more beneficial. But besides the advantage which might be derived in the colony from greater restriction, the convict, in going to Van Diemen's Land, has now a decided advantage over those poor, but honest, farmers who still remain uncontaminated by vice, whose minds would revolt at crime, and whose object is to maintain their families in comfort and respectability, to put them in the way of getting forward in the world, and leave a good name behind them. Men of that description, the most useful men who can go to a colony, cannot afford to pay the expense of their passage; they, upon certain conditions, are obliged to engage themselves for a term of years to serve the person who pays their expenses, generally seven years, and at about half the wages that they could, if free, obtain in the colony. From this agreement they have no chance of escape, the very principles which make them detest crime would make them adhere to the terms of their agreement; and we see, that a criminal sentenced to seven years' transportation obtains his ticket of leave, and earns the highest wages, at the expiration of four, whilst the honest man has no chance of attaining that advantage in less than seven years. But this is not all: the present system makes no distinction between the honest and the dishonest man; the latter can rise to wealth sooner than the former, and it is now the decided interest of a man to get the expense of his passage paid by the commission of crime. The system is also equally injurious to those who engage free emigrants and pay their expenses out, because, when the men so engaged have been some time in the colony, they feel dissatisfied at comparing their condition with that of convicts, and consequently a convict labourer becomes more valuable than a free and honest emigrant.
Whether, therefore, the object be to prevent crime at home or to encourage emigration, the present system requires change. If the sentence of the convict were defined, and he experienced hardship in road gangs and severe labour which his crimes, according to their degree, merited, and after undergoing severe labour was then assigned to a settler, and he was certain that he had no chance of escape from the full extent of that sentence; if he were to know that good conduct during the whole period for which he was to remain in exile, would be the only means of obtaining encouragement at its expiration, a stimulus for reformation would be held out, but he would not be placed in an advantageous situation as compared with the emigrant; a distinction, and a marked distinction, would be drawn between the two; good character and good conduct would have their proper weight, and emigration would thereby be encouraged.
In the earliest stages of the colony the settler experienced great difficulties and had to undergo much hardship, but as each year elapsed, these difficulties decreased, so that the emigrant of the present day has, comparatively speaking, an easy course and a plain road before him; still, however, difficulties must continue, and they can only be removed by increased population, which will give the settler more labourers and at a cheaper rate. For one moment let a comparison be drawn between Ireland and Van Diemen's Land. They are both islands, containing about the same number of superficial square miles, but the one is overburdened with population, whilst the other has only 25,000 inhabitants; the lowest classes in the one live in misery, chiefly without animal food, ill fed, ill clothed, without employment, and a prey to those restless and desperate characters who have so frequently risen up and destroyed their peace; the other has abundance of land wanting the hand of the labourers, and great productions in proportion to the wants of the inhabitants. If one tenth, or one hundredth, of the population of Ireland could be transferred to Van Diemen's Land, the advantage would be mutual, it would be a relief to the one, a gain to the other; and if by any means the change could be gradually made by removing the surplus population from what is called overstocked Ireland, great advantage would accrue.
Let a contrast be also drawn between Scotland and the northern counties of England, with Ireland and the southern counties of England. In Scotland as well as the northern counties there are large districts wholly agricultural; the Lothians, the Cheviot Hills scarce possess a manufacture; so also great part of Northumberland, Durham, Westmoreland, the North and East Ridings of Yorkshire are agriculture, they are equally healthy with the southern counties, but the population does not overrun the country. The children of agricultural labourers get employment in the manufacturing districts in their neighbourhood, in Glasgow, Paisley, Lancashire, and the West Riding of Yorkshire, where both boys and girls obtain their settlement. Whole families rarely, if ever, remove from agricultural districts to the manufacturing towns, the parents remain upon their farms, but some of their children when they attain the proper age relieve both their patents and parish by emigration. Let this apparently natural mode of relief be applied to other agricultural districts. It has been recommended to send men out with their families, and to a certain extent that may be right; but married people with families have already fulfilled the law of nature and done their duty in increasing population, and they have acquired fixed habits which unfit them for a new country. There have been very few instances of poor families removing firom the agricultural districts to the colonies unless as servants to settlers, where they are, in a great measure, independent of their own mental exertion. If, however, encouragement were given, under proper regulations, for young people of both sexes to go to the colonies, either as apprentices to settlers, or under the charge of superintendants who would instruct them and attend to their conduct, it would probably be much more efficacious in relieving the over peopled districts, because they would be removed before they began to increase, and would raise up a useful population where it is so much wanted. There are few persons in Van Diemen's Land between the age of manhood and children of five or six years, and it is exactly that intermediate description which is most required; boys who can drive the plough and the cart, tend the sheep, and do a hundred offices which are undertaken by the lads of England; girls who can weed the fields, look after the cows, and do the house-work of families. By thus encouraging the emigration of young people, great benefit would accrue both at home and abroad: it would be less expense to parishes to pay for their passage, being about half the cost of adults, their maintenance would be less expensive than if they remained at home; and in a short time they would cease to to be a burden. If government establish schools for female convicts, they might surely be established for those who have not, by the commission of crime, qualified themselves for such special care and attention.
Mr. Busby, in his letter addressed to the committee of the House of Commons states,
"Female convicts, upon their arrival, are invariably assigned to the service of private individuals, as far as the demand for their service will allow; the remainder are sent to the female factory at Parramatta.
"Most of the advantages which are attainable by many of the male convicts, whether in the employment of an individual or in that of government, are beyond the reach of the female.
"The demand for her service in a menial capacity, is not so great, in proportion to the number at the disposal of government, as to make it the interest of her master either to induce her to good conduct, by the temptation of pecuniary rewards, or to screen her from punishment when deserved. If retained in the factory, the discipline in that establishment is now so excellent, that while those confined for punishment; are treated more or less severely in proportion to the nature of their offences, those who are retained merely because there has been no applicant for their services, suffer little in the nature of punishment beyond the confinement within its walls. The only alleviation, therefore, of the punishment of the females, whether in private service or within the walls of the factory, is the prospect of that degree of freedom which a ticket of leave confers, or of contracting marriage, for which every facility is wisely afforded by government. While, therefore, excepting in the case of characters of the most depraved description, transportation must always appear more dreadful to the feelings of the female than of the male culprit, there is little in their subsequent treatment to excite the high hopes and expectations so frequently entertained by the latter; and as leas change is required in the punishment of a female, as regards the influence of example in the mother country, the very efficient discipline which has at length resulted from the great and persevering attention bestowed upon their treatment leaves, as far as my judgment goes, little room for practical improvement in the colony." *
[* Letter to the Committee of the House of Commons.]
Such is the treatment which the female convicts receive. It is a known fact, that some of them have married well, and conducted themselves with credit and even respectability; and there is one instance in particular, in a female who was a domestic servant in one of the midland counties of England, having been sentenced to transportation for robbing her master: she was most respectably married soon after her arrival, and has since then in each year sent home fifty pounds to her mother, who was in distressed circumstances, thereby making the evening of her life comfortable. If, however, government take such care of female convicts,—not more care than they ought to take,—why should not the virtuous and the honest have encouragement and protection? If schools are established for the vicious, they surely ought to be opened for those who are free from crime, more especially if this over-peopled country of Great Britain can be best relieved, and the interests of the colonies best promoted, by the emigration of young persons. Parents who cannot maintain their families without parochial relief, ought not to complain; their children, instead of the prospect of poverty by remaining at home, would have the hope of advancement in life in a British Colony and a healthy climate, where by their industry they might, as in the case just mentioned, minister to the relief of their parents and cheer the evening of their lives.
The subject of emigration has of late been much under the consideration of his majesty's government. It is one of considerable difficulty, and the documents respecting crown lands and emigration, which have been printed by order of the House of Commons, dated the 13th October last, shew the anxiety of the Colonial Department to meet the difficulties, and to devise such measures as wilt best and most effectually promote this important object.
Extensive surveys have been ordered in the Australian colonies, and the territories are to be divided into counties, which are to be forty miles square, to be apportioned each county into hundreds, each of which shall comprise an area of 100 square miles, and those subdivided into parishes to comprize an area of twenty-five square miles, having regard to divisions by natural boundaries, formed by rivers, streams, or highlands.
When these surveys are made, lists of parishes and charts are to be prepared and exhibited, and the lands therein are to be put up for sale from time to time; the highest bidding to be accepted, provided it should at least amount to five shillings per acre; ten per cent, deposit is to be made; and the balance paid within one calendar month; the lots to be put up for sale to comprise 640 acres at least. Such are the plans devised for encouraging capitalists to go out to these colonies; and with a view to supply them with labourers as well as to relieve the counties in the south of England, supposed to be over populous, and to place agricultural labourers in usefulness and comfort on their arrival, several measures are proposed.
A tax is recommended to be laid in the colonies on convict labour, which tax is to be extended to those convicts who have tickets of leave; a fund is to be raised from the sale of land, which will be applicable to the expenses of sending emigrants; the labourers so sent out are to be hired for a stated period, not more than seven years, and during that time one-fourth of the wages they receive is to be paid to Government, till the advance made for defraying the cost of their passage is paid, when, of course, such payment will cease; and last, an abatement in the purchase or redemption of quit-rents, now payable, is suggested upon the principle adopted with the Van Diemen's Land Company for taking out a limited number of free emigrants in 1827, which was a remission of twenty pounds for each woman and sixteen pounds for each man then sent by the Company.
Such are the plans proposed to encourage emigration. But his Majesty's Government have paid more particular attention to induce the emigration of females, and it would be impossible to devise any measure more important to the Australian colonies than to afford assistance to the emigration of young and respectable women; and it would be equally beneficial to the young women themselves, for whether in domestic employment, or in those portions of work in field husbandry and the management of dairies, to which they are fit, there is abundance of employment.
The estimated expense of sending out young women is sixteen pounds each, and the committee of emigration appointed by Government proptrae, that half that amount should be defrayed by the parents or by the young women, either from their own funds or private subscription, which they may be able to raise, and the other half from the colonial treasury; and reckoning that from the sources just enumerated £10,000 will be this year at the disposal of Government, they propose sending 1200 female emigrants, namely, 800 to Sydney and 400 to Van Diemen's Land. An annual supply of that number will be most advantageous, and a greater boon could not be given to the colonies.
Circulars have been printed which not only shew the anxiety of Government upon this subject, but the pains which are taken to ascertain the character and conduct of such who are desirous to emigrate, and every encouragement is held out for applications.
But whether emigration of adults or of children be best, it is manifest that great changes must be made with respect to the treatment of convicts. It is not intended to promote or encourage the increase of punishment farther than that increase tends to check and prevent crime at home and promote free emigration; but unless some change take place, the encouragement of crime will go on. The wisdom of parliament will best devise the proper measures.
Let these changes be made and agricultural labourers will be eager to try their fortunes in British colonies and will be no longer reluctant to let their children go where their cont duct will be watched, and they will be encouraged to industry and honesty. Another act of our Government which tends to depress and retard the prosperity of these distant colonies, is the duties which are imposed upon produce imported from thence, and particularly corn. Great part of Van Diemen's Land is a corn country, and the quality of the wheat excellent: encouragement to grow wheat cannot arise from a demand for the supply of their own population, for the cultivation of a very small surface would suffice for the food of 25,000 persons; the farmer, therefore, must depend upon demand from other countries. New South Wales for three years successively suffered so much from drought that it became almost dependent upon Van Diemen's Land for bread. At that time the price of wheat advanced to ten shillings per bushel. On the return of more propitious seasons, in the upper Colony, the price of wheat fell to four shillings per bushel in Van Diemen's Land, and at that price shipments were made to England, It is evident that four shillings per bushel could not remunerate the grower, the shipment might answer to the merchants; but from the great fluctuation in the price of wheat at home, with the heavy expense of such a voyage, they could make no calculation as to the result of their shipments; and instead of a safe trade, it becomes speculative. If the average price of wheat in England is under sixty-seven shillings per quarter, a duty of five shillings per quarter is imposed even from our own colonies. Surely, when Government hold out encouragement to emigration, they ought to protect production from such a heavy tax. The very act is an anomaly: they virtually say, "we wish you to go out, we will do all we can for you, but we will not allow you to send your corn home. You may try to find a market in the East Indies, Brazil, or any where else; but if you attempt to compete with your fellow subject, the English farmer, we will, by tax, effectually punish your presumption." When the com of Van Diemen's Land has to traverse half the circumference of the globe, that alone ought to be as much tax as the landowner can desire; and thus the Van Diemen's Land farmer would cultivate wheat with confidence, because the merchants would, at certain prices, always send part of the surplus to England. It was wisely ordered, that the tax imposed on wool coming from the Australian colonies should be repealed, and the same encouragement—it might be called by the fashionable phrase of the day, protection—ought to be extended to all their products.
Hides imported dry pay a duty of 2s. 4d. per cwt. and wet, 1s. 2d. per cwt., when tanned and not otherwise dressed, they pay 3d. per lb. Sheep skins undressed. 1s. per dozen. Beef cured, 12s. per cwt. Oil 1s. per ton. All these taxes are injurious to an infant colony, and raise very little revenue. The following articles are allowed to be imported free till January 1833: bark, flax, and wood for ship building eighteen inches square. Whilst, therefore, this subject must come under the consideration of parliament during the present session, in order to regulate the trade after January next, it is hoped the importation of every article from these distant colonies will be admitted free, so as to remove and prevent impediment and restriction to their prosperity. Lord Bacon says, "Let there be freedom from custom till the plantation be of strength, and not only freedom from custom, but freedom to carry their commodities where they may make the best of them.
"When the plantation grows to strength, then it is time to plant with women as well as with men; that the plantation may spread into generations." *
[* Bacon's Essays.]
Such are some of the disadvantages against which the Australian colonies have had to contend; difficulties natural to all new countries—difficulties arising from the distance of markets—difficulties arising from unwise regulations with respect to convict labour, and difficulties from taxation at home; and yet these have been surmounted, and settlers, after suffering hardships and privation for some years, which they little expected and for which they were not prepared, have surmounted them, and wool, which is the main article of commerce, is rapidly improving in quality as well as increasing in quantity.
With progressive advances the price of land in Van Diemen's Land must increase. In its early settlement, government gave grants of land where it was likely to be cleared, but now, seeing that it thereby got into bad hands, and if cultivated at all, not so as to improve the country, they have fixed a minimum price at 5s. per acre for the worst land in the worst situations; and when the crown lands are sold, beginning at that price, the bidders at public sale give what they conceive to be the value. The land on the north coast has been sold at 15s. and 20s. per acre, and good locations are now becoming so scarce that the property which has been held by individuals for two or three years has increased in value from ten to a hundred fold, and must still further increase with greater population and more extended cultivation.
The proprietors, therefore, of the Van Diemen's Land Company will see that they have been and are in the same situation as the common settler. They have had similar difficulties to contend against, but under the most prudent and skilful management of their chief agent, their flocks and their herds have increased, the lands cleared, the roads made; and they, like the common settler, are beginning to reap the fruits of their outlay and their patience. Their sheep will increase most rapidly, their cattle and their horses will increase in a similar proportion, their outlays will diminish, and soon cease, and the importation of produce together with the sale of stock in the colony will soon pay interest, whilst their investment in land, the original cost of which was so small, will advance in value with that of their neighbours.
Whatever contributes to the prosperity of the colony must be advantageous to the Van Diemen's Land Company. Bad management might destroy the hopes of the Company without materially affecting the colony, but the Company could not flourish if the colony did not prosper. Every measure, therefore, that can be promoted for the good of the colony will be beneficial to the Company, who are settlers in it upon a large scale, and their prosperity must be also highly advantageous to the colony, which has already derived great benefit from the establishment. His Majesty's Government fixed the location at the north-west corner of the island, which had never been traversed by civilized man; a nucleus was thereby formed at a distant point, so that in exploring the country, its character and capabilities might be developed, roads made to communicate with the located districts, and the intermediate space made available for private settlers: whilst, therefore, it would have cost government great expense and delay to ascertain the nature of that country, the whole has been explored and an immense tract placed at the disposal of Government for private settlers. So, also, the colony has derived great advantages from the capital expended, and from the Company's stock. It was their interest to send sheep from Europe of the very purest breed; no pains were spared in the selection; they have given a character to the stock of the Company, and by the sale of rams, have improved the sheep of the colony and given a character to the whole. The introduction of the best breeds of sheep, horses, cattle, and pigs, are directly advantageous to the Company, but the benefit is soon felt in the colony. The people, also, who have been sent out do much good; some who went in the service of the Company possessed great talents, integrity, and perseverance; they have had the means of acquiring and diffusing knowledge as to the capabilities and resources of the island; and those who have been sent in more humble situations were men of excellent character and respectable in their stations. All these do good to the Company, but the benefit is spread over the society of the island; the interests of the colonists and the Company are hereby identified; the Company can do nothing advantageous to' itself without being beneficial to the colony.
History of the Van Diemen's Land Company—Object—Particulars of the Charter and Act of Parliament, and Extracts from Annual Reports.
Having thus endeavoured to give some account of this colony, it now becomes proper to mention the rise, progress, and present state of the Van Diemen's Land Company; and in order to make the proprietors well acquainted with that subject, little more is required than to make copious extracts from the several Reports at the General Annual Meetings. The first Report, dated 7th March, 1826, was never printed; it was by far the most important, containing the ground-work of the establishment, and those plans which were devised and then laid down, and which have been almost undeviatingly pursued.
The original proprietors and directors took every measure to make it a sound, not a speculative company. They knew that for several years there could be no return, and they wisely determined that no interest should be paid from capital, but should commence when there was such an income from produce and profit as would allow dividends after the payment of all the expenses of the establishment. This course has been the means of locking up capital for some years but so soon as dividends commence, the advantage will be felt in the amount of the division. It will be seen, that the progress made by the Company has been very similar to that of a private settler, who has been invariably exposed to difficulties and disappointments till he has brought a certain portion of land under cultivation, and raised a stock of sheep, cattle, and horses; but these difficulties surmounted, and such stock being obtained, he has gradually risen to prosperity and wealth, the live stock increasing both in number and value, his wool improving, and his land becoming each year more valuable. It is that point the Van Diemen's Land Company has now attained, and the Reports will show its gradual progressive advance. The following is almost the whole of the First Report:—
Extract from the Report made to the first yearly General Meeting of the Proprietors of the Van Diemen's Land Company, held at he Company's office, the 7th March, 1826.
"The Governor, Deputy Governor, and Directors of the Van Diemen's Land Company have great satisfaction in meeting the Proprietors at their first general court, and congratulating them on the success of those exertions which have led to the establishment of the undertaking by an act of parliament and a royal charter; the former of which is dated the 10th of June, 1825, and the latter passed the great seal on the 10th of November last.
"The time necessarily consumed in the progress of these measures has caused the proceedings of the Court of Directors, in the general concerns of the Company, to be considerably advanced before an opportunity was afforded of making any public Report on the subject. In a very early stage of the application to government for a legal sanction of the Company, a pledge was exacted, that the shares should not be issued to the public, so as to become a marketable or speculative property until the 'Charter should be obtained. This pledge has been redeemed; but the Directors have felt that they would not be honourably fulfilling the intentions of government, unless they acted in all other respects in conformity with the prohibition. It is for this reason that they have, contrary to the example of other companies, forborne to issue a Prospectus, and to invite a general application for their shares. This omission calls upon them to enter a little more fully into their plans and proceedings; and will excuse them for occupying more of the time of this General Court with details, than they would otherwise be disposed to do. Setting out, however, with a full and clear exposition of what has hitherto been done; of the ends they have in view; and the means by which they propose to accomplish those ends; little will be required at their future meetings, than to follow their general plan through its successive stages. If zeal and exertion can insure success, the Directors feel assured, that their Reports to the future General Courts will be gratifying to the Proprietors, and encouraging to themselves.
"It is little more than twenty years since the first settlement was made by the British on the Island of Van Diemen; and a few years only have elapsed, since the public in England began to be acquainted with its soil, climate, and productions. Interesting as it has been found to be to the naturalist, it is no less so when considered as an addition, to our already extensive colonial empire. The regularity and salubrity of its climate, the variety of its surface, affording dry and extensive downs, covered with natural grass and herbage, and alternating with rich and well watered valleys; the whole moderately timbered, but in general free from those dense masses of wood and jungle, which so frequently cover the lands in the tropical and temperate regions, point it out as a country having some striking and very peculiar advantages for the purposes of pasturage and agriculture.
"Viewed in relation to its geographical position, the island of Van Diemen presents to the eye of the politician prospective advantages do leas attracting. The neighbouring seas have been of late years a great and increasing resort for vessels engaged in the Southern Whale and Seal Fishery, many of which are either fitted out in Van Diemen's Land, or call there for supplies. By its proximity to the Indian and Chinese, seas, it has the power of supplying the tropical countries of the East with all the productions of the temperate zone. The facility. also, with which a commercial intercourse may be maintained with both the eastern and western coasts of America, the maritime parts of which are fast rising into wealth and importance, all concur in ensuring to it its full share of benefit in the new and boundless fields of commerce that are yearly opening to the commercial states of both hemispheres.
"There cannot be a greater proof of the estimation in which this island is held, than the rigidity with which the colonization of it has advanced, and the eagerness with which the fertile portions of its land have been sought after and settled. Its population, which in 1810 was only 1256, holding 559 acres of land, amounted in 1821, to 7285, holding 723,679 acres. The estimated population of 1823, was 12,000; and the quantity of land granted in the two last mentioned years, was, according to Mr. Evans, the Deputy Surveyor-General, 132,570 acres. The stock of sheep, which in 1810 was 3070, in 1821 was 170,391; an increase in eleven years nearly in the proportion of from one to sixty; while other live stock have multiplied in a corresponding ratio. Its growing wealth as a commercial colony may be estimated by the value of the merchandize imported into it, which, in 1816, amounted to £47,256; and in 1822, to £112,982; having nearly tripled in only six years.
"It was not to be expected that resources and indications of growing wealth such as these, should long escape the penetration of the British public, nor that individuals, whose pursuits in trade or agriculture had led them to the island, should conceive the project of uniting together in order to have the command of a larger capital than the colonists have hitherto been able to afford, and to obtain possession of a sufficient tract of land to realize all the advantages held out by this highly favoured country.
"There were other considerations, however, of much greater importance as connected with our home manufactures, which led to the formation of a company for agricultural purposes in Van Diemen's Land; and it was chiefly in furtherance of these, that on the 12th of May, 1824, a meeting was held at which it was unanimously resolved to apply to government for a grant of 500,000 acres. About this time Colonel Sorell, the late Lieutenant-Governor, arrived from the colony; when he was applied to by Earl Bathurst for his opinion of the measure. Although he differed somewhat from the opinions given to the Directors in other quarters, as to the quantity of good land in the colony unappropriated; yet the Court had the satisfaction to find, that their undertaking had the support of this intelligent officer; who, whilst he was in authority in Van Diemen's Land, had applied all the resources of his well informed mind to the improvement of the island; and having its prosperity still warmly at heart, suggested a considerable extension of the privileges first asked for.
"The Court has the satisfaction to say, that throughout the whole of the negociation, whether for the grant of land, the act of parliament, or the charter, the Directors have had the cordial assistance of the Right Honourable Earl Bathurst, and of every other department of government, in such a way as to convince them, that as a body they possess its entire confidence and good wishes.
"With respect to the selection of the lands to be granted to the Company, the following rules were laid down by Earl Bathurst, in a letter dated the 15th of April, 1825:
"'The Van Diemen's Land Company will receive their grant in the north-west district of the island; bounded on the north by Bass's Straits, on the west by the ocean, and on the east and south by lines drawn from either shore, so as to afford the necessary depth of country; within that district they will be at liberty to select any ungranted land at their own discretion. These lands, however, must be in one continuous and unbroken tract, approximating to the form of a square, as near as may be compatible with preserving a clear and well defined natural boundary.'
"The whole quantity of useful land, that is, of land capable of being used in pasturage and tillage, to be contained in this square, is 250,000 acres. Whatever useless and unproductive land may be included in order to complete the square figure, will be granted to the Company gratuitously.
"It is arranged that the survey of the land to be thus granted to the Company, shall be carried into effect by five Commissioners; of whom two will be named by the crown, and two by the Company; the fifth to be elected by the four thus appointed. The majority of these Commissioners will concur in a report on the lands; stating with all possible precision the exact limits of the grant, and also the relative number of acres capable of being employed in pasturage and tillage, or otherwise. So soon as the limits of the intended grant shall be thus settled, the Governor is authorized to issue a grant of it to the Company.
"In the grant a quit-rent will be charged, amounting to thirty shillings per annum for every £100, of the value of the good and productive land comprised in it. This quit-rent will not become payable until the expiration of five years from the date of the grant; and upon giving six months' notice in writing to the local government, the Company will be at liberty to redeem the quit-rent or any part of it, by paying into the colonial treasury a sum equal to twenty times the amount of the rent proposed to be extinguished, when so much of the land will be released from all future payments.
"If the local government shall be able and willing to supply the Company with convict labourers not exceeding the number of free labourers employed by them in their grant, the Company may accept such convicts, and employ and maintain them at their own expense. The employment and maintenance by the Company of these convicts, will be allowed in payment of the quit-rent or purchase money: it being estimated that government has saved £16 sterling by each convict wholly kept and maintained by the Company for one year.
"The value to be put upon the land only remained to be settled, and it appearing to the Directors, that it would on every account be desirable to have it fixed in England, while they yet had the assistance and local information of their Secretary, Mr. Curr, in the negociation; as well as to obviate the possibility of those difficulties and delays which might arise in a mixed body of Commissioners, acted upon, possibly, more or less, by local and particular interests, a letter was, on the 1st of September, addressed to Earl Bathurst, requesting that his Majesty's Government would at once impose such a price upon it as might appear just, both as respected the interests of the public and the Company; instead of the value being left to be fixed in the colony, in the manner originally proposed.
"In compliance with this request, and to place the Company in the same situation as it would have been in when they first applied for the grant of land and charter, it has been agreed that the price at which the land shall be valued to the Company shall be two shillings and sixpence per acre of good pasturage and tillage, on which a quit-rent of one and a-half, or thirty shillings per £100, is imposed, equal to £468 15s. per annum, payable in the-manner already described; which at twenty years' purchase amounts to £9575 sterling.
"Since the arrangements for this purchase were concluded, accounts have been received from the island, of the local government having issued a notice, that they will not grant any more lands, until provision has been made for public purposes. The point to which the Directors had been so fortunate as to conduct their negociation, prior to the receipt of this intelligence, as well as the instructions which will in pursuance of the agreement have been gives to the government of the colony, exempt the Company from the operation of this notice.
"According to the terms of the charter, the pursuits in which the Company is allowed to employ its capital are, the cultivating and improving such waste lands as shall be granted in pursuance of the agreement already made with Government, including erecting buildings and machinery thereon, constructing roads, canals, bridges, and such other works, as are requisite to carry on and perfect the cultivation; and the sending out and advancing money to persons willing and desirous to settle upon their lands.
"They have also liberty, subject to certain provisions, to open and work mines of coal, iron, and other minerals; and to quarry without restriction or condition for stone, lime, clay, and other materials for building; to make loans or advances of money to resident colonists, as well as individuals, as partnerships, on the security of their lands within the colony; also on mortgages, bonds, and judgments; to contract for and execute any public works which may be undertaken by Government within the island and its dependencies; to make loans and advances upon the security of tolls and other public taxes, within the island and its dependencies; to make loans to persons engaged in the whale or seal fisheries, upon or in the neighbourhood of the coasts of the island, for the purpose of carrying on the fisheries; and lastly, to purchase and hold houses, wharfs, and other buildings, and also lands and hereditaments within the island and its dependencies.
"To some of these pursuits and privileges, more particularly the lending of money, there are limits assigned, either as to time or amount, or both, of which the object is, not to debar the Company from the exercise of their chartered lights, but to guard against their interference with the pursuits of trade or banking, from both of which, by a special clause, they are interdicted; but reservation is made that an extension of time or amount may be granted, provided the Company shall be able to shew good grounds for the request.
"Of these multifarious pursuits, agriculture and pasturage have been selected for the present, as offering in the infancy of the establishment the most beneficial, and at the same time the least hazardous investments for the capital of the Company. The instructions given to the commissioners and agents already despatched are, to confine their attention, on their first arrival, to the selection of the lands; and then to form such farming and other establishments upon them, and to bring such a quantity of acres into cultivation as shall insure subsistence to the people, and afford shelter and protection to the stock and other property collected upon them. They are strictly prohibited entering into any other engagements or undertakings on behalf of the Company, until these great and primary objects are accomplished, or until further instructions shall be given, them from hence. In all their undertakings, it has been impressed upon them to proceed only on a scale commensurate with their actual or probable wants, and then, on the most economical footing. When these preliminary undertakings are in a state of sufficient forwardness, the Court (no way forgetful of the leading object of the Company, the growth of fine wool) is resolved to pursue the cultivation of this lucrative production on a liberal scale.
"The facts and opinions adduced by those who are best acquainted with the island, and with wool as a material in our manufactures, so important to the mother country, concur in persuading the Court that the climate of Van Diemen's Land la favourable in the highest degree to sheep: that the animal thrives as well, and is as free from disease as in the most genial parts of Europe; and that the wool is not only capable of all the melioration and improvement which it is found to attain in Europe, but possesses some of the qualities most essential to the woollen manufactures, in a degree superior even to the choicest fleeces of Spain and Germany. The most remarkable of these peculiarities is the high fulling property by which both the coarse and fine wools are distinguished, and on account of which they are eagerly purchased by our manufacturers. The Court has also the most respectable authority for asserting, that they are found to work much better and to prove softer, than any other wool of the same degree of fineness.
"The quality of wool which it may best suit the Company's purpose to produce, must be left in a certain degree to future experience, suffice it to say at present, that they have their choice; and that they have only to put upon their lands sheep of any breed, to have in a very few years large flocks of any description. It is the present intention of the Court to keep separate flocks of the most esteemed breeds, not only to have the facility of supplying the market with the quality of wool that maybe most in request, but in order that by experiments in crossing, and an attentive practice of those rules which experience has taught the most successful breeders of the Continent, a steady and progressive improvement may be insured.
"Confiding in the correctness of these views, the Court has resolved to commence as early as possible the formation of the Company's flocks, and by an immediate exportation of sheep, not to suffer even one season to be lost, the produce of which, if estimated according to the progressive rate of increase in this branch of rural economy, will be in a few years sensibly felt in their profits.
"Agreements have been entered into for an early shipment of a considerable number of selected merinos; and the Court is cultivating a correspondence, through which it will be able, hereafter, either to make large additions, if numbers should be desirable, or frequent small shipments of a superior breed, if quality should appear most advantageous.
"Having premised thus much as to what are the leading privileges obtained from his Majesty's Government for the Company, and having stated which of all those objects have been selected as most likely to realize the expectations of the subscribers, the Court will proceed to explain the nature of the constitution which it has been thought advisable to form for conducting the affairs of the Company.
"The capital is £1,000,000 sterling, divided into 10,000 shares of £100 each.
"The general management of the affairs of the Company, is vested in a Governor, Deputy-Governor, eighteen Directors, and three Auditors.
"A court of the Directors is required to be held at least once in every month, and a general court of Proprietors on the first Tuesday in the month of March in every year, or within fourteen days after, of which fourteen days' notice are to be given.
"All elections and all questions at such general meetings of Proprietors, are to be decided by the majority of votes of the members present, each member being entitled to vote in proportion to the number of shares held by him, in the following order:
|For 10||shares and less than||30 shares||1 vote.|
It is required that the books of the Company be written up and balanced to the 31st December in each year, and the same being so balanced and approved by the court of Directors, an abstract thereof, shewing the state of the debts and credits of the Company, signed by two or more of the auditors, shall be produced at the next following yearly general meeting.
"Power is given to the general courts of Proprietors to pass bye-laws; and in other respects the provisions both of the act of parliament and charter are so similar to those of other corporate and joint stock companies, that it is not deemed necessary to particularize them."
It is unnecessary to make any extracts from the second annual Report, dated 13th March, 1827, The Proprietors were merely informed of the arrival of Mr. Curr and those who went out with him. They had, however, commenced to explore the north-west side of the island, and had fixed their establishment at Circular Head. The third Report, dated 10th March, 1828, is interesting, shewing the discoveries of the Hampshire and Surrey Hills by Mr. Hellyer, and from which the following is extracted.
Extract from the Report made to the third yearly General Meeting of the Van Diemen's Land Company; held at the Company's office in Broad Street, the 18th of March, 1828.
"At the last annual meeting on the 13th of March, 1827, the Directors took occasion to explain to the Proprietors, the progress that had bees made towards the acquisition of a tract of land, suitable to the purposes for which the Company was formed; and concluded by informing them, that a station had been selected at Circular Head for the first establishment, around which there appeared a prospect of finding a sufficiency of good and useful land, although lying somewhat scattered and divided.
"It being necessary to provide immediate shelter for the people and an early supply of agricultural produce for the subsistence of the establishment, the farming servants were employed in clearing land and the mechanics in erecting huts and other temporary accommodations. In the mean time the Company's surveyors, under the direction of the agents, were engaged in a more extended examination of the north-west portion of the island, to a considerable distance from Circular Head, with a view to determine the situation and boundaries of the future grant.
"Circular Head is a peninsula, computed to contain about 8000 acres of land; of which 4000 may be considered good sheep land, being for the most part dry, open, grassy hills, with a herbage of fine grass, trefoil, cinquefoil, and wild vetches, equal, in the spring season, to any English meadow. About 2000 acres are woody, being thinly covered with small trees, growing similar to the hawthorn in England, and affording excellent shelter for sheep. Many parts are rocky, but the most part abounds in grass, and the whole is capable of being converted into sheep pasture at a comparatively small expense. As a homestead and a principal agricultural establishment, Mr. Curr, the Company's chief agent, writes that nothing can surpass it
"The adjacent country, although it contains some considerable portions of excellent meadow and grazing land, with a narrow slip of good sheep-run down the west coast, was found to consist in general, of barren heathy plains and low swampy forests; so that a sufficient tract of land suitable for a large sheep farm could not be had, without extending the boundaries over a wider space than could either have been allowed by Government or have been convenient to the Company.
"Mr. Hellyer, the Company's chief surveyor, was therefore despatched on the 1st of February, 1827, on an expedition to the southward, to examine a large open district, which on former excursions had been seen from two different points of view, and promised to realize the best hopes of the agents; After a painful journey on foot, with only two attendants, in which the party patiently endured privations and surmounted difficulties, calculated to arrest the progress of less enterprising travellers, they came on the 13th upon grassy hills, of the extent of which they had previously no idea. Crossing these and passing through a considerable tract of myrtle forest, they forded a wide and deep river flowing to the north, which they named the Emu. On the 14th they arrived at the base of a lofty hill, which was named after the day, Valentine's Peak. From the summit and from an elevation of 3000 feet, they saw a fine open country to the north-east and south-west. Descending the south side of the hill, they alighted in the evening upon grassy hills and knolls, resembling a neglected old park in England; 1000 to 1500 acres in a patch, and without a tree, except a few clumps of blackwood. Kangaroos were here in abundance, as in every other part of the country about to be described; a sure sign of the goodness of the soil and herbage. A brook runs across this district, the banks of which are green with trefoil. Proceeding in a direction west-south-west, they passed through an excellent country, consisting of gently rising, dry, grassy hills. On the following day they walked over many considerable hills, the grass of which had recently been burned by the natives, and soon after came to a noble river, with a strong current, gliding smoothly along from south to north, and which they named the Don by way of distinction. At that part it was about sixty yards wide, and in the shallowest place, up to their middles in crossing. On its banks are complete sloping shrubberies. At some distance from this river, (Mr. Hellyer proceeds to state) they ascended the most magnificent grassy hill he had seen in the island, the sides consisting of several level terraces, as if laid out by art, and the top crowned with a straight row of stately pepper, mint trees, beyond which there was not a tree for four miles along the grassy hills. He congratulated himself on having had so fine a day as the preceding, or he could have had a very imperfect idea of the extent of good country around him. The plains, or rather hills, which he had just passed over, he named, from their extent and importance, the Surrey Hills, being about the same distance inland as that county in England. He describes them as resembling English enclosures in many respects, being bounded by brooks between each, with belts of beautiful shrubs in every vale. The grasses in the line of their walk, were principally timothy, foxtail, and single kangaroo. The surface soil is a dark vegetable mould upon a rich brown open loam, of various depths, and lighter in colour according to its depth; but the substratum is every where gravelly, which appears to render these hills perfectly dry. All the brooks have hard pebbly bottoms, are free from mud, and the water is as clear as crystal. The trees found on these bills are generally of fine growth, very tall and straight, some of them measuring a hundred feet to the lowest branch, and stand a hundred yards apart. This Mr. Hellyer does not think at all too thickly timbered to afford a shade from the summer heat; and it should be remembered, that the trees of Van Diemen's Land do not cover the ground as in England. In number they did not average more than about ten to an acre. There were many open plains hereabout, of several square miles, without a single tree. The plains or hills to the north of the peak, being the first open country Mr. Hellyer entered upon in this journey, he has named the Hampshire Hills. They appear even more parklike than the Surrey Hills, and are handsomely clumped with trees. The course of the party from the peak had now carried them nearly twenty miles; and as far as they were able to see, there arose on all sides grassy hills out of number, which it was delightful to look round upon from one higher than the rest. In tracing their way back to Circular Head, they came to the bend of a deep and rapid river, larger than the Don already described, and more than ten feet deep close to the banks. This they named the Arthur, in compliment to his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, being one of the principal rivers of the island. Of the two districts now described, that named the Surrey Hills appears, upon a map drawn by Mr. Hellyer, to be nearly a parallelogram, thirty miles in length and fifteen in breadth, lying at a distance of about twenty-five miles from Bass's Straits at the nearest point. That called the Hampshire Hills, lying between the former and the north coast, is of a less regular figure, and may be computed to be about ten miles in length by eight in breadth. The river Emu runs through the Hampshire Hills into Bass's Straits. The Arthur, which passes through the Surrey Hills, is supposed to enter the western sea. The course of the Don is not yet sufficiently known.
"The description given by Mr. Hellyer of the country travelled over by him in this interesting journey, has since been confirmed by Mr. Foasey, another surveyor of the Company, who, entering it from the eastward, came upon a different part of the Surrey Hills; and, crossing the river called the Leven, represents the country in its vicinity as so admirably laid out by nature, that it assumes very much the appearance of a nobleman's domain, both as to extent and good quality. Mr. Fossey adds, that from actual observation, these tracts of land both as to extent and quality, are likely to suit the purpose for which they are required.
"These concurring narratives immediately determined the agents on looking to the district of the hills as their future site of the Company's grant; and the Directors have the satisfaction to report, that a minute of agreement has been signed on behalf of the Company, by which permission has been obtained of his Majesty's Government, to select one block of 20,000 acres at Circular Head; and two blocks, to comprise together 220,000 acres in the districts just described, all at the valuation originally agreed upon. The useless or unprofitable land which it may be necessary to include, in order to give a well-defined boundary, will be granted to the Company gratuitously, according to the stipulation mentioned in the last Report, and is allowed to extend to one-fourth part of the whole grant, or an addition (if needful) of 62,500 acres. A fourth block of 10,000 acres will be selected at the option of the Company, at some point intermediate between the larger grant and the settled districts."
An Appendix was given to that Report, containing some interesting accounts given of the country explored by Mr. Alexander Goldie, Mr. Henry Hellyer, and Mr. Joseph Fossey, and the danger, fatigue, and sufferings they encountered, which reports are inserted in the note at p. 156.
The following is extracted from the Report made to the fourth yearly General Meeting of the Van Diemen's Land Company; held at the Company's Office in Broad Street, the 17th of March, 1829.
"The attention and labours of the Company's agent during the past year, have been chiefly directed to carrying on the works and cultivation at Circular Head; to opening a road from Emu Bay to the Hampshire Hills, and thence to the Surrey Hills; to making another road from the neighbourhood of Launceston to meet the former in the Surrey Hills; to forming stock stations in those two districts, removing thither the Company's flocks and herds, and to their pasturage and increase—upon all which subjects the Directors purpose to offer a few brief, but, they trust, very satisfactory explanations.
"At Circular Head about 100 acres of land had been broken up in April, 1827, and sixty acres more in the following season, making 160 acres under the plough, and bearing wheat, barley, oats, turnips, potatoes, and other crops suitable to the wants of the establishment. Two abundant crops of excellent hay had been got in, made entirely from the native grasses, sufficient for the consumption of the stock of cattle. The principal buildings erecting or finished at this point are, a commodious house, weather-boarded and shingled, the frame and fittings of vhich were sent from England; a smaller house for the use of the superior officers of the establishment; cottages and huts for the servants and for the labouring classes; a large storehouse; a barn and threshing machine; shops and work-places for the different artizans; requisite sheds for sheep and cattle. The surrounding land had been fenced and drained under the able direction of Mr. Goldie. A substantial, but not expensive pier or jetty of wood, had been constructed at the north-west point of the harbour, under the direction of Mr. Hellyer, at which the Tranmere and the smaller vessels had discharged their cargoes. These constitute the improvements which the Directors, at present, contemplate making at this place: it will be valuable as a homestead, not only in consideration of the improvements actually made there, and of its affording an abundant supply of agricultural produce, but on account of its offering a good harbour in which large vessels can load and discharge.
"This feature alone is a sufficient motive with the Directors for having stipulated for it as a part of their grant.
"The Company's officers have also formed a small establishment at the mouth of the Emu river, about thirty miles eastward of Circular Head, affording good anchorage within, but having a bar across the entrance, which renders it accessible only to small vessels and colonial craft; for these, however, it seems likely to prove an useful station. The works undertaken at this place consist of a small but substantial wooden pier or jetty; a store or warehouse; a stable; and as many huts as are requisite for the people employed in that vicinity.
"The most important works which the Company's servants have undertaken during the last year have been opening roads; one from Emu river and the other from Launceston, to the Surrey and Hampshire Hills; the first from Emu river, under the superintendence of Mr. Hellyer, had been cut into the Hampshire Hills, in the course of which several plains or open spaces were found, well adapted for the pasturage of cattle, 'on their journey from the coast into the interior; the other road under the direction of Mr. Fossey, from Launceston westward, through Moleside, Emu Plains, and Hounslow Heath, into the Surrey and Hampshire Hills. On the 2d of February, 1828, this road was completed as far as four miles westward of the Mersey, or about seventy miles from Launceston, and it was expected to be carried into the Hampshire Hills in about two months more. Carts had been driven upon this road as far as it was then opened, and a drove of cattle had passed by it to the Mersey river, and thence to the Company's settlement at Emu Bay. The great advantages to which the Directors look forward, in having established this communication, is not merely the transit of their own stores and produce to and from a principal shipping port, and to the second town in the island, but the encouragement it will afford to settlers to establish themselves in the country through which the road passes, which abounds with plots of rich land, and others fit for sheep pasture, well adapted for farms, the occupation and cultivation of which must enhance the value of the Company's property, and have other beneficial effects on their interest. The Directors, also, cannot help feeling that they have thereby conferred an important benefit on the colony, by laying open and rendering accessible so extensive and fertile a district The two roads now described being completed, Mr. Hellyer was instructed to continue his operations into the Surrey Hills, whilst Mr. Fossey carried on his road until it joined Mr. Hellyer's in the same district; all of which it was hoped would be accomplished by the ensuing winter. In the mean time a station, or homestead, had been selected at the Hampshire Hills, comprising every advantage of that district, and another was ordered to be fixed on at the Surrey Hills.
The following brief notices, extracted from Mr. Curr's account of his visit to the Hampshire and Surrey Hilts, will convey a tolerably accurate idea of the country.
"'The first eight miles of the coast ran through a thick forest, after which comes a succession of small plains, which lie in the midst of the forest, in or near to the Hampshire Hills. These plains: are all of the same character, sound, light, dry soil; the rock in parts appearing through the surface, well watered by springs and creeks, apd surrounded by the best timber; the grass is coarse, but plentiful, affording good cattle pasture, and, after burning, sheep may be kept moderately well upon them; they seem adapted for small arable farms in the hands of tenants. From the last of these-plains, which has been named 'Highclere', the road passes through four miles more of forest, when it opens on the Hampshire Hills, a district which comprises from 9,000 to 10,000 acres of clear land. The soil resembles that of the plains just described, and the grass is generally adapted: for the feeding of sheep; indeed, it is decidedly a sheep country, though it may not bear to be heavily stocked. As respects water, the Hampshire Hills are incomparably more happily circumstanced than aoy other district in the island, the want of streams being one of the greatest and most general faults of Van Diemen's Land. Here every valley has its spring, or stream of purest water, running invariably over a clear pebbly bottom, and many of them are deep and strong enough to be useful fences. The Emu River, which is about twenty-two yards wide and two feet deep, runs through the midst. There are innumerable situations well adapted for the erection of grist and saw mills, and the supply of timber is inexhaustible. This river does not overflow its banks, being fed by the springs in the mountains.' Mr. Curr continues, 'I may add, that, in point of picturesque beauty, the Hampshire Hills yield to nothing I have seen in the island.'
"Of the district of the Surrey Hills the Directors have little to add to the satisfactory information given in the last Report, except, that on a second visit made to them by Mr. Curr, on his journey just alluded to, he found the northern portion to agree very much with the Hampshire Hills, but the soil and grass to improve on advancing southward. The climate of this portion of the island appears to be showery and changeable, sometimes cold; snow occasionally falls in the interior, but seldom lies. The soil appears to be naturally dry."
The fifth and sixth Reports, dated 1830 and 1831, give very few additional particulars with respect to the district to be allotted to the Company; they mention the completion of the roads, viz., one laid out and made under the superintendence of Mr. Fossey, from Launceston through the Surrey Hills; the other from the Surrey Hills through the Hampshire Hills to Emu Bay, by Mr. Hellyer, with bridges, which were erected over the rivers and streams. And they state the definitive arrangements which had been made with the government at home with respect to the allotments of land, which were determined upon in the following locations:—
|150,000||acres||at Woolnorth, in one continuous tract.|
|20,000||—||at Circular Head and the coast adjoining.|
|10,000||—||at Hampshire Hills, in one continuous tract.|
|10,000||—||at Middlesex Plains, in one continuous tract.|
|150,000||—||at Surrey Hills, in one continuous tract.|
the estimated quantity of good land in the three islands, viz., Robins' Island, Walker's Island, and Trefoil Island.
The seventh annual Report, dated 13th March last, completes the information received by the Directors with respect-to their lands, and brings the account of the proceedings of the Company to the present period.
GOVERNORS, DIRECTORS, and OFFICERS.
Esq. M.P. Governor.
JOSEPH CRIPPS, Esq. M.P. Deputy Governor.
|JOSEPH BOND, Esq.
WM. BORRADAILE, Esq.
|Gen. Sir R. MACFARLANE,
|WILLIAM BURNIE, Esq.|||||WM. MARSHALL, Esq. M.P.|
|JOHN CATTLEY, Esq.|||||JOHN MITCHELL, Jun. Esq.|
|RAIKES CURRIE, Esq.|||||Jno. HORSLEY PALMER, Esq.|
|ROBERT DENT, Esq.|||||BRICE PEARSE, Esq.|
|Sir F. HASTINGS DOYLE, Bt.|||||GEORGE RAIKES, Esq.|
|EDWARD FLETCHER, Esq.|||||THOMAS SHEPPARD, Esq.|
|JOHN GURDON, Esq.
JOHN JACOB, Esq.
|JAMES BISCHOFF, Esq.—
|Felix Calvert LADBROKE,
|JOHN WANSEY. Esq.
WILLIAM WILKINSON, Esq.
Mr. SAMUEL R. EWEN, Clerk.
The Directors of the Van Diemen's Land Company have great pleasure in meeting the Proprietors, trusting they are enabled to shew, that the concerns of the Company have steadily advanced, and hold out the prospect of gradual improvement, with a certainty of success.
From Merino Sheep with fine fleeces but of little weight, giving
|} 3s. 5½d. [per] fleece|
And from improved Sheep crossed by Merinos.
|} 4s. 5½d. [per] do.|
By having stud flocks of the best Saxon sheep, of the Nigretta, the Leicester and Cotswold sheep, kept totally separate, the shepherds are enabled, by rams from the stud flocks, to improve the coarse fleeces of the Van Diemen's Land sheep, purchased in the island. The increase of the flocks has so far been retarded, by the nature of the country, where, though in the summer season on the open forests and on the native grasses, there is abundance of food, they had no means of having provender in the winter, till a larger extent of country was burnt and cleared, and English grasses introduced. An opinion has prevailed, that the flocks might have been much more rapidly increased: there is no doubt but a superficial observer would in the summer adopt that opinion; but it is the study of a good and prudent manager, to regulate his flocks and herds by his means of support in all seasons and under the worst circumstances. The increase of the flocks must therefore be governed by the extent of land which can be prepared for them, and limited by the quantity of food which can be provided for their support during winter. This is annually extending upon a large scale, and having now more than 5000 ewes, each annual Report will shew a great increase in the flocks.
It is not, however, wool alone by which profit is derived, the stud flocks become valuable from the annual sale of ram lambs.
|51 Saxon Ram Lambs were sold at||£12||[per] head|
And Mr. Curr writes, "The rams which have been delivered are so highly thought of, that I feel confident they will insure the sale of a much larger number next season, indeed it is probable we shall not be able to supply all that will be wanted."
Cattle are next in importance to sheep in number and value-, and here too the character of the stock begins to shew its advantage. The bulls which were sent from this country were of the pure Durham breed, (descendants of the celebrated bull Comet,) and the young bulls are now sought for by the settlers.
|1 Bull, a year old, was sold for||21|
|2 Bulls, six months old||15||each.|
There is every probability that the demand for young bulls will far exceed the supply.
Horses also are a very important part of the stock, and likely to become more so; the Cleveland horse, sent from hence, is in high repute, and was last spring sent to the settled districts; making a very profitable season. One of the blood horses sent by the George Canning, "Inglemere", was considered the best in the island.
This stock however is one which requires a greater length of time, before it can turn to profit, than either sheep or cattle. Horses are not saleable before they are three, four, or five years old, and till that age their annual value increases without much expense; there were twenty-four foals in 1830, and eight more, viz., thirty-two foals in the last year.
The following is the return of live stock on the 30th June last.
|Sheep and Lambs, viz.||306||Rams|
|Horses, Mares, and Foals.||93|
The number of acres of land under the plough is increasing, but the produce from the livestock is so much more valuable and marketable, that attention has chiefly been given to the production of such a quantity of wheat, oats, barley, and potatoes, as would supply food to the establishments; and this policy has proved the best, for in consequence of abundant harvests of late, in the upper as well as the lower colony, the price of wheat was extremely low, about 4s. per bushel; so that though the purchase of wheat in Van Diemen's Land, and the exportation of it to England, (where, in consequence of its very superior quality, it has sold at 80s. per quarter in Mark Lane,) has paid well as an article of merchandize, the price at which it was sold by the farmer in Van Diemen's Land could not remunerate him. It is evident however that the growth of wheat may be looked forward to as an important article of produce.
Some very valuable geological discoveries have been made. Mr. Curr writes, that "beds of Turkey stone, to an inexhaustible extent apparently, are found at Woolnorth; one bed lies close to the shore, three or four hundred yards from the anchorage; our carpenters use it, and say it makes as good sharpening stones as any Turkey stone bought in England; it also makes perfectly good hones for razors—specimens will be sent. Lime-stone and excellent coal have also been found by Mr. Milligen, at the Hampshire Hills; lime is particularly valuable and will save great expense, for the lime hitherto used has been made from burnt sea-shells collected in Bass's Straits, and conveyed a great distance for use."
The boundaries of the lands are not yet finally determined. In order to accomplish that object, Mr. Curr had been to Hobart Town, and at a personal interview with the Lieutenant-Governor, proposed certain points from which the measurement of the two large grants, Woolnorth and the Surrey Hills, should be calculated and measured; and he also requested a grant of land between the Hampshire Hills and Emu Bay, through which the road passes to that port To these proposals the Lieutenant-Governor had made no objection, but wished Mr. Curr to state them in writing, which has in consequence been done, and there is no doubt when the spring was sufficiently advanced, the boundaries would be defined.
The account which Mr. Curr gives of the people employed on the establishment, is most satisfactory. There is no necessity for either military or civil power to keep them in order; they proceed cheerfully with their labour, and complaint is seldom heard. This may in some measure be attributed to the care which has been taken in selecting the free servants, who have been sent from this country. Good conduct and good character have been indispensable qualifications; every applicant was rejected upon whom there was stain or taint, and their previous good character was the ground of hope that they would be useful and respectable. In this the Directors have not been disappointed, but in addition to their good qualities, they have been well managed by Mr. Curr. Strict, whenever offence has been committed, thoughtful, considerate and encouraging to all who have conducted themselves well, he has acquired a moral influence over the people far more desirable, and with regard to the interests of the Company, far more advantageous, than coercion, restraint, or punishment; and it will be a subject of pride to him, as well as satisfaction to the Proprietors, to find the men who were first sent out by the Company, and whose agreements for the term of years have expired, settling themselves in the Island with respectability and comfort, and with the prospect of seeing their families prosper in the world. The following extract from Mr. Curr's despatch, dated Launceston, 4th May, 1831, will be read with interest and pleasure.
"It has been a source of sincere satisfaction to me, in which I am sure the Court will participate, to find all the old indented servants of the Company, who went out per the Tranmere and Caroline, doing extremely well with not more, I believe, than one exception, and with the same one exception, very well spoken of. The farming men are generally in places at wages of from thirty to fifty guineas a-year with a maintenance; the shepherds £50 to £60 a-year; the mechanics are chiefly in this town and earning 10s. per day and upwards: these latter have got town allotments, and are most of them building or about to build good brick cottages for themselves."
Thus it follows, that though the Company engage their servants at low wages, in comparison with what are given in some parts of the Island, and have them indented for a term of years as a remuneration for the expense of sending them out with their families, those men are enabled with their comparative low wages to save money, and at the expiration of their terms to establish themselves respectably. The maintenance of families in the Colony is little felt, as the women can always earn good wages. Mr. Curr says they can even enrich themselves, and children have ample employment in the fields and earn sufficient for their maintenance. It must be also highly gratifying to the Proprietors to know, that they have thus been the means of enabling industrious and united families, who, with the utmost toil, were scarce able to support themselves at home, to live in comfort and to enrich themselves in Van Diemen's Land; and the number of respectable persons whom the Company have sent out must place the establishment in a very favourable point of view both with the Colonists and the Government.
The Directors have been desirous of encouraging good conduct, economy, and prudence by every possible means, and are now establishing a Savings Bank, under the sanction and approbation of Government, where weekly deposits may accumulate and increase by interest.
But good conduct is not confined to the free servants; the assigned servants or convicts behave well under the able and judicious management of Mr. Curr, who has great advantages from his insulated situation, distant from the located districts, having the means of limiting the supply of ardent spirits so as to prevent the effects of excessive dram drinking, which is much complained of and is the prevalent vice of the Colony. But independent of these advantages, the convict labourer knows that it is his interest to gain the approbation of Mr. Curr, whose influence over the whole establishment has been formed and maintained by his own excellent example, and by the power which he holds over every one placed under his charge; nor does this account of the good conduct of the people rest altogether on the authority of Mr. Curr; he writes, on the 20th May last;—
"I had some conversation with the Governor respecting the appointment of a magistrate at the Surrey Hills; the Governor noticed the quietness of our establishments, the absence of crime, and the little trouble they cause to the government; confessed that he had anticipated they would have been a source of great trouble. In truth, there has scarcely been a misdemeanour or a complaint to remind him, or any officer of government, of our existence; other districts, and less populous settlements, in the colony have their magistrates, constables, field police, iron gangs, gaols, and barracks; we have nothing of the sort, and little need of them; and were our settlements more compact we should have no need of them whatever."
Notwithstanding, however, the able management of Mr. Curr, it must be admitted that it is a duty due to the large population now there, that suitable provision should be made for religious instruction and the education of the children; and for the accomplishment of these important objects the Directors suggest to the consideration of this meeting, that a respectable clergyman of the Established Church should be sent out.
The higher officers who went out with Mr. Curr have all left, or are about to leave, the employment of the Company, their engagements having been fulfilled.
Mr. Adey is established as a merchant at Hobart Town.
Mr. Goldie is appointed to the superintendence and management of Sir John Owen's large property in Van Diemen's Land.
Mr. Hellyer, whose valuable services have been so great, and whose name is so well known both to the colonial government and at home, by his unwearied exertions for the Company, by his personal privation and risk In exploring the country, and by the admirable maps and plans which have been exhibited, has been recently appointed to an important situation under the Surveyor General of the Colony.
Mr. Fossey, Mr. Hellyer's companion in fatigue and equally indefatigable in his exertions, has been lately in this country, and returned to Circular Head by the ship Forth; in case his valuable services should be required, he may be again engaged by Mr. Curr, having expressed his desire to return to us, but as it is probable the locations will be definitively fixed and the boundaries marked out, before Mr. Hellyer would leave us, or Mr. Fossey arrive, there may be now no occasion for his services, and thus a considerable saving may be made in the salaries of officers in that department.
The persons who have been sent out since the last General Meeting, have been—
1. Mr. King, an experienced farmer, as superintendent of farms,
|14 shepherds, viz.||6 from Scotland,|
|5 from Wiltshire,|
|3 from Norfolk,|
3 masons and bricklayers from Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire,
Together with their families, consisting of
The men are chiefly engaged to replace those whose terms are about to expire, and they are indented for the term of seven years at much lower wages than have been paid to the persons whom they succeed; so that the expense of sending out the families will be soon remunerated to the Company; all these, except five, are gone out in the Forth, Captain Robertson, and are to disembark at Circular Head, having a large quantity of stores on board for the establishment. The Directors availed themselves of so good an opportunity, by sending an entire blood horse and two blood mares, as well as two more young bulls of the Durham breed.
The balance sheet up to the 30th June. 1830, received from Van Diemen's Land, and the balance sheet of the books here, are laid upon the table.
The abstract of accounts which accompanies the balance sheet from Van Diemen's Land explains the manner in which the capital has been invested. It appears from this abstract, after reckoning the first cost, and adding thereto the proportionate expense which properly belonged to each branch of stock arising from the passage-money for people going out, and their wages, that our stock of sheep, in June 1880, cost £30,717 2s. 8d.; and though this is a high rate for the number of the flocks, it must be recollected that they are the basis upon which prosperity rests, and from which the future stock, as they increase in number, will acquire their value. The great expense of a flock in Van Diemen's Land is the first cost and formation, particularly when a great part is sent from Europe, and considering the number of German and Nigretta sheep sent at heavy expense this amount is not larger than might have been expected, or than could have been avoided, as no pains have been spared to make all the purchase in the most advantageous manner.
The same observations apply to cattle and horses;
In this abstract, the charges which have been incurred by exploring the country in order to make a judicious selection of land, (a service which has occupied about six years, and is only just finished, but which was of the first importance,) also the charge in clearing and fencing the land, bringing it under cultivation, the expense of building, &c., are all attached to the respective locations to which they belonged; and upon comparing this abstract with the statistical accounts received from Mr. Curr, the amount of each investment is clearly shewn: the following details will make the Proprietors acquainted with the value of their outlay.
Circular Head is at present, and will continue to be the chief establishment; there is an excellent roadstead where, in consequence of a round promontory of rock, shelter is given in the Bays formed on each side, and ships can ride at anchor with safety; the frontispiece will shew its peculiar form, and the beauty of its situation, having a natural but most efficient breakwater.
On the land adjoining to that promontory, Mr. Curr has fixed his residence; his house appear? in the sketch, it is called Highfield Cottage, consisting of twelve apartments, and is surrounded by an enclosure of 5½ acres of land, comprising garden, orchard, and three paddocks. The other buildings at Circular Head consist of
Beach cottage for the officers' residence, 56 feet by 13, having four rooms and kitchen.
Officers' sleeping rooms at the back of the store.
Company's office, 35 feet by 15, to two rooms.
Freemen's cottage, 48 feet by 23.9 in seven rooms, accommodating three married men and their families, and the single men.
Seven other cottages.
Store and store buildings, 60 feet by 16.
Blacksmith and carpenter's shops.
Tool house, saw-pit, nail house, iron house, shed, stables, &c.
A most complete farm yard, round which are built, and communicating with it,
THE VAN DIEMEN'S LAND CO. ESTABLISHMENT AT EMU BAY.
An 8 stall stable.
Two 3 stall stables.
Thrashing barn with two floors and an eight horse power machine.
Cow stable with 26 stalls complete.
Pig-sty, root and fodder house, calf house, dairy, cheese-room.
Three cattle yards.
Four sheep yards with washing tanks.
A draw well, 60 feet deep.
A pump well, 28 feet deep.
Six ponds formed at springs of water.
The fencing completed is 951.55 chains, or 11⅞ miles in length, enclosing 8 fields of arable land, 3 paddocks, 11 pasture fields, with drains and excellent roads.
The population consists of 45 men, 11 women, 10 boys, and 15 girls.
At Emu Bay, of which there is a sketch opposite, are built,
Store, &c. 60 feet by 20, in two rooms, with loft and shed.
Five cottages, with small paddock and garden.
Blacksmith's shop; saw-pit.
At Hampshire Hills,
Superintendent's cottage and garden.
Store and office, and nine cottages.
Carpenter's shop and blacksmith's shop.
Barn, 40 feet by 18.
Two 4 stall stables.
Cattle sheds 87 feet by 12, with calf-shed, pig-styes, stock-yard, stack-yards, and ram-sheds.
The fencing completed is 545 chains, or 6⅞ miles in length, with drain and roads complete.
At Surrey Hills,
The officers' house and rooms; about eight cottages with sheep-sheds, stock-yards, &c.
The population at Emu Bay and the Hampshire and Surrey Hills, consist of 62 men, 7 women, 5 boys, 5 girls, in all 79.
Store, six cottages with blacksmith's shop and stable.
Stock-yards and garden.
There is one paddock of 100 acres, fenced on four sides.
One paddock of 40 acres, fenced on two sides, the sea completing the enclosure.
The population consists of 24 men, 4 women, 5 boys, 4 girls; in all 37.
To the population in the service of the Company must be added, the assigned agricultural convicts, and it will be again increased by the people sent last year.
miles cut through dense Myrtle Forest.
miles in one line, say from Emu Bay to the Race Course measured; and mile-boards put up, with numerous timber bridges, large and small, the whole line can be travelled, except in the very highest floods.
miles from Hampshire Hills to Burghley.
miles from Burghley to the Race Course.
miles from Chilton to Burghley.
One very substantial bridge has been erected at Weybridge, where the breadth of the stream is 55 feet.
Another at the Hampshire Hills, very substantial, over a stream 88 feet wide.
It appears that all the charges incurred in exploring, in the survey, buildings, roads, &c. amount to £30,050 13s. 1d. or 1s. 8½d. [per] acre; add to this the value of quit rent, and the land, with every expense which has attached to it, will be 2s. 3d. [per] acre, whilst the lowest price for the worst land in the worst situation, without roads, clearing, buildings, or fences in Van Diemen's Land, is now fixed at 5s. [per] acre: and as regards the nature and quality of the main location, the following extract from Mr. Curr's despatch, dated 28th March last, will be interesting.
"A very great extent of country has been burnt this summer, and the stocks therefore are abundantly provided for. On no former visit did the Surrey Hills present so attractive an appearance; to the extent of many square miles, where the fire had run, the country is clothed with the brightest verdure, not a vestige remains of the dry and withered grasses which were so unsightly and so extremely unpalatable to the stock. I have on this occasion traversed the hills in every direction, and I am happy to have it in my power to say, that I am more pleased with them on every successive visit; the quality of the soil is almost uniformly excellent,—superior, I am confident, to any tract of equal extent in the Island. When the old grasses are burnt off, the fresh grass is much relished by the stock of every kind, and the more they are fed down, the closer and richer the grasses and herbs become; the improvement from these causes is rapid and manifest. I have been particularly pleased in this journey with the country on the banks of the Wey, which I had never seen before, it is superior to most parts which have yet been occupied, and present for several miles a succession of the most pleasing and varied scenery; the river rises on Talbot's Marsh, runs a few miles towards the heath, and then, turning off to the north-west, joins the Hellyer a little below Weybridge, receiving in its course numberless small streams, many of which are sheep fences, though none of them large enough, except in winter, to restrain cattle; the largest of these streams, which is bordered by a very good country, I named Sheppard, in honour of our director of that name."
The summary of the expenditure was as follows:
|Do.||in stores, furniture, implements, and machinery.||}||15,479||10||11|
|Do.||in shipping (Friendship and Fanny)||}||2,154||10||3|
Cash, bills, and debts owing to the Company in Van Diemen's Land.
As per balance sheet and abstract taken to the 30th June, 1830.
Such were the investments at that period, the difference between that amount and the debtor side of the London balance sheet, shews the amount of drafts from Van Diemen's Land, as well as the investments in the shipment by the Forth and passage of the people; the Proprietors will from these, form their own opinion as to the value of their investment. At a Special General Meeting of the Proprietors, held on the 23rd August last, it was resolved that the books in Van Diemen's Land, as well as here, should, in future, be made up and balanced on the 31st December of each year; the balance sheet which will be laid before the next annual meeting, will be for the then preceding six months only.
The Proprietors must be aware that more money will necessarily be required, not to defray current annual expenses, but upon those permanent investments, buildings, &c. which are required on all new and unoccupied estates, in order to make the land valuable, as well for cultivation by the Company, as for tenants, or for sale; the main expenses are already incurred; the country is explored and roads constructed, but the locations must be greatly increased in value and rendered available for every purpose by the erection of farm-houses, barns, &c., and by inclosures, these will give good annual remuneration, and for this purpose the Directors expect it will be necessary to make another call, not exceeding £2 [per] share, to be paid as usual by two instalments, of which due and sufficient notice will be given; and from the best judgement they are now able to form, they trust this will be the last call they will have to make.
Capital thus employed will be a beneficial increase in value yearly, for land is becoming scarce, particularly on the north side of the island, and each settler must come nearer to our borders.
With respect to the payment, first of the current expense of the establishment, and next interest and profit, the Directors feel extremely anxious to give such full and minute information as will enable the Proprietors to judge for themselves. Mr. Curr is of opinion, that the current expenditure will be paid this year, by the sale of produce and shipments to Europe: and judging from the quantity of wool, &c. which will be exported, and the sales of live stock in the Colony, together with the produce of the soil, it appears that this expectation will be realized.
The following computation will shew the ground upon which this estimate is formed. Mr. Curr states that the wool which will be sent, and which he is now about to ship, would be not less than 120 bales, and will be in much better condition and quality than any yet received, reckoned at £20 each =
|Ram lambs produced last year £868|
|Bulls—last year £51—do.||200|
Horses and mares, 24 will be saleable at £20 each
Wheat, potatoes, butter, cheese, &c. in 1829, produced £2300, reckoned.
|Bark, wood, and other articles, reckoned||1000|
The expenditure was £8800 in the year 1830. When, therefore, the rapid increase of live stock is considered, the Directors can, with confidence, hold out the prospect of early dividends; it must evidently be advisable to postpone the expectation of them for one or two years; but they trust they may fairly calculate upon being able to announce a dividend in 1834, of which, however, the Proprietors, from the accounts on the table, will be able to form their own opinion.
The following gentlemen go out of the Direction this year by rotation.
All of whom offer themselves again for re-election.
Offer themselves for re-election.
By Order of the Court,
Clerk to the Company.
Van Diemen's Land Company's Office,
55, Old Broad Street, 13th March, 1832.
REFERRED TO AT PAGE 122.
Report of Mr. Alexander Goldie of his Journey from George Town to Cape Grimm and the western coast, dated 28th of November, 1826.
"At your request, I beg to state, that I left Frogmore, accompanied by Mr. Fossey, in a whale boat, with six men, and Frederick as steersman, on Saturday the 29th of July. Owing to the State of the tide, I was unable to get farther than the third river that night. On Sunday morning we breakfasted at a small creek, a mile to the eastward of the Leven; and a heavy swell setting in from the north-west, I was obliged to put into Pariah's Boat Harbour, about six miles to the east of Table Cape. Next morning (Monday the 31st) before eight o'clock, we again got off, and with great difficulty got to the west aide of Table Cape, where we were obliged to put up for a short time, expecting the swell would abate a little. We made a second attempt, but were glad to steer for the nearest harbour we could.
"It began to blow very hard at night, and continued so all the next day, which prevented us proceeding. On Wednesday the 2nd of August, at day-break, we again got into the boat, and although the sea was much abated, yet there was a heavy swell from the north-west; and about two o'clock we reached Circular Head, where I found the schooner Nelson at anchor. We had scarcely got under the lee of the bluff, when it began to blow excessively, and continued for the next two days, so that the schooner durst not put to sea. During these two days, Mr. Fossey and I examined this place, and found a considerable tract of good land, in many places quite clear, and in others very thinly timbered.
"The timber is chiefly small gum, tea tree, and a little blackwood, very small. It is, generally speaking, a good sheep run, and the soil has rather a tendency to sand than day; so that I scarcely expect brick-earth will be found here. The bluff is composed of dark-grey granite, of excellent quality, and the rocks around are generally of the same description.
"There is good anchorage on the south side of the Bluff for small vessels; but Frederick could not say whether it would be equally so for large ones. It is a good deal exposed to the east and north-east winds. It is a very inaccurate way of judging of the quantity of land to walk over it; but Mr. Fossey and myself thought there would he 4000 acres of good clear land, and that a considerable quantity more could be made clear at a very moderate expense.
"Saturday the 5th, being a good day and quite calm, I took the opportunity of sending the boat to the river at Robins' Passage, which we have called Duck River; and as it was very heavily laden, and deep in the water, Mr. Fossey and I, with one of the boatmen, walked there. The distance is about sixteen miles. The country, a few miles inland, is all either swamp or wet heathy plains; and within a mile of the shore, light grey sand. We encamped about three miles from the mouth of the river, and next day (Sunday the 6th) I went up four miles farther, to look for the best way to Cape Grimm. Having fixed on the course, which was west by south, I returned to the tent. Early on Monday morning I ordered Frederick to take the boat with four men to Cape Grimm; and Mr. Fossey, two men, and myself, started for the same place by land. I kept the course I have stated for about three miles, across open heathy plains, a good deal covered with water, and then entered a very swampy forest of stringy bark and gum trees. We continued that course for some hours, but there being no spot lot a person either to sit or lie down, I altered to west north-west, expecting that would bring us to the plains; instead of which, it only kept us along a ridge of hills, about six miles inland, from which we could see nothing. I again changed to north, and got out of the forest into the plains, as it wag dark. All the ground around was very wet, and we had little fire; but it was a fine night, and we all slept soundly after our day's exertions.
"Tuesday the 8th, after breakfast, we started, and kept north-west; and at mid-day made the coast-I varied our course from one to three miles inland, and found nothing but extensive wet heathy plains, with a considerable extent of tea-tree scrub in many places. On Wednesday we passed over a similar country, and crossed two considerable rivers; and on Thursday the 10th we reached the tent, about two miles east of tho most northerly put of the island. On that day we had very great difficulty in crossing a river, and there being no trees near, we had no means of making a bridge. During the whole journey from Circular Head, to within three miles of where the boat lay, I did not see any land at all calculated for the Company's use; being all either thick forest, or low heathy, swampy plains, composed of hungry grey sand; I am not certain that sheep would eat the heath in the plains; but it would be quite impossible to have stock of any kind on them in the winter.
"Friday the 11th and the three following days, I examined the land within a day's walk of the tent, in the neighbourhood of Cape Grimm, and found it to be all good sheep land, with the exception of a low plain, of considerable extent, which would make a good ran for cattle. The land has generally a tendency to sand; but, at one part, about seven miles down the west coast, there is strong clay, which I think would make bricks. I did not see any free-stone; but there is sand-stone close by Cape Grimm. The timber is chiefly bad curly gum, honeysuckle, tea-tree, and a little blackwood. It is very hilly and dry, and thickly covered with kangaroo grass.
"There is a small island, about two miles from the main, called Trefoil Island, which is very beautiful; with little timber, and apparently covered with grass I made an attempt to get to it, but could not, the weather was so stormy.
"Having seen all the land round Cape Grimm, I returned in the boat to the river I have already mentioned (which we had so much difficulty in crossing) on Tuesday the 15th: and the following day started, with Mr. Fossey, Frederick, and one boatman, for a very remarkable hill on the west coast, near West Point, and on Hardwike's map called Mount Cameron. In crossing over the country to the west coast, we saw a great deal of good land quite adapted for sheep; but before reaching Mount Cameron, it becomes very narrow, not exceeding a mile in width; and in the immediate neighbourhood of the hill it is all heath and swamp. The hill itself is of excellent quality, with very good feed upon it, and may consist of 800 or 1000 acres in all. The view from the top is very extensive, but unpromising, being surrounded by heathy plains, and they are bounded by low swampy forests, of amazing extent, both in the east and the south. Thursday the 17th we returned to the tent in an easterly direction, till we came to the river, where the boat lay about twelve miles higher up; and seeing the country all around was grey sand covered with heath and tea-tree, I determined to reach the tent by the shortest road I could find, it having poured with rain nearly the whole day. Mr. Fossey attempted to cross first, and was soon taken off his feet, when he was obliged to swim, and luckily got safe over. I kept lower down with the men, and by cutting trees, &c. we made a bridge on which we crossed. On reaching the other side, Mr. Fossey was not to be found, and did net make his appearance till next morning, having lost himself in the extensive plains.
"I next began to make preparations for starting for the Pieman's river; but owing to the unfavourable state of the weather, I did not get off till Sunday the 20th.
"Mr. Fossey, Frederick, two boatmen and myself, were to compose the expedition, each to carry ten days' provisions; and in order to guard against our running short, I took two more of the boatmen to carry provisions for two or three l60 days, and then to return to take the boat to Circular Head, there to await our arrival. The first daj we got to Mount Cameron. It rained excessively; and from the quantity that had fallen the two preceding, days, I found the plains much deeper in water, and in some places difficult to get through.
"Monday the 21st. On leaving Mount Cameron, there is a honeysuckle bank runs along the west point, covered with kangaroo grass. At this place there is a pretty extensive range of hills of the same quality as Mount Cameron, with very little scrub, chiefly fern and indigo. After we had crossed the hills we came upon wet heathy plains, mixed with tough tea-tree; and at this season fully knee deep with water-We encamped about four miles from the shore, and could see the same kind of good feed run all along the coast, varying in width in different places.
"Tuesday the 22nd. We continued oar route, and, after walking some hours, saw some rising ground to the south and west; and thinking it might be Hardwicke's South Downs, we made for them; but it turned out to be of the same description as that we had already seen along the coast, only a little wider. In a very few minutes we came to a river, which I thought was Pieman's, from the description I had got of it. It is as wide as the Mersey at the mouth; apparently much deeper, and a bar river. There was a heavy sea breaking over it. We attempted to cross, but found it was impossible. I therefore determined to keep up along its banks, a good way; but seeing there was no chance of ever being able to get across, I struck inland south by east. On the opposite side of this river, I could see that the good land became much wider, and also that Mount Norfolk was covered with heath, and clear of wood: our distance from it might be fourteen or sixteen miles. We continued along these wet heathy plains till near dark. I then encamped on the edge of a forest.
"Wednesday the 23rd. The two boatmen returned, and we continued our course south by east, in order to ascend a heathy ridge; on reaching the top, I could see the plains extended for a considerable distance, north-east and south-west; and were bounded by low forests. We entered the forest in a south-east course, expecting to make what we thought was a high ridge, but which turned out to be only high trees along the side of a low tea-tree plain. We had the greatest difficulty in getting through the forest, owing to the fallen timber, scrub, and soft mud, in which we sunk nearly knee deep. We continued in this way, it pouring with rain the whole time, till about four o'clock, when Frederick ascended a tree, and said there were plains before us. This intelligence roused us a little, and ire made another exertion; but instead of finding open plains, they were covered with water, and tea-tree ten feet high; and so strong and thick, that it was next to impossible to get through. After all were exhausted with fatigue, we came to a small spot a little higher than the rest, which we cleared of brush, and pitched our tent on it. The ground was so wet we durst not lie down; and, to add to our comfort, we had only two or three logs to make a fire. At night it cleared up to a very keen frost, which we all felt excessively.
"Next morning, the 24th, seeing the country all around was low and swampy, and not knowing how far it might extend, I determined to retrace our steps; considering it more than any person was able to endure at that season of the year. It took us four hours to get out of the forest, although we came back in our old course; and I am sure we were not more than four miles from the plains. On getting out, I looked all around to see if there was any better place by which we could cross the country; but it all looked equally low and swampy. I therefore made for the hut we had left the day before,
"Friday the 25th. Finding it was impossible to cross the country at this season as far inland as I could wish, (although I think it is practicable at another time of the year,) I returned to Mount Cameron, and from that by the nearest way I could find to Circular Head, which I reached on Tuesday night the 29th. During all that fatiguing walk, I did not see any land at all suitable for the Company, except what I have already mentioned, around Cape Grimm, and the narrow strip that runs along the west coast. It rained and blew so hard from the north-east, that the boat did not come to us till Saturday the 2nd of September. During that time, Mr. Fossey and I again examined this place, and the two greatest disadvantages attending it are the small portion of good land, and being so far separated from any more of a similar quality; and the other is the want of water. There is no running stream; but I think water can be found by digging. At Cape Grimm there is certainly a much greater extent of good land; and there is a very small creek, which I understand is never dry; but there is no anchorage for vessels of any size, nearer than under the Hunter's Island, which is four miles off I and that I am afraid is not so good as at Circular Head.
"Monday the 4th, being the first calm day after the arrival of the boat, I left for Rocky Cape, with the intention of proceeding inland from that place. The three following days it rained very much, which prevented our starting till Friday the 8th. Our course was south by west, by an observation taken from one of the neighbouring mountains to another clear hill, about twelve miles inland. Mr. Fossey, Frederick, two boatmen and myself, took seven days' provisions, and made for a river about four miles to the west of Rocky Cape. We kept up along its banks four miles farther, and then crossed it on a tree, and entered the forest about south-west, varying according to circumstances. The scrub and fallen timber were very difficult to get through, and it was impossible for us to get on more than one mile an hour.
"It had poured with rain for two hours; and as it was getting dark, I determined to encamp by the side of a small river that empties itself into the one we had crossed, and which ran at the bottom of the hill we wished to reach. The ground, although so wet we could not lie down, was clear of brush, and the hill on the opposite side was very scrubby. We had the greatest difficulty in procuring fire; and after we had succeeded, and finished supper, the rain increased so much that the river rose and extinguished it in a very few minutes. We were then obliged to move away to a little eminence about thirty yards off; but before we could reach It we had to wade to our middles in water. There we sat the whole night, by the side of a stringy bark tree with our blankets over our heads. It never ceased raining for one minute during the whole night, and the river kept rising so much, we were under considerable apprehensions of being swept away. At the first appearance of light the next morning, we were all on our legs, but were unable to move for some minutes from the excessive wet and cold.
"The river which was not above eight or ten yards widi the night before, was now swollen to about the eighth of a mile, and running so rapidly it was impossible to cross it. It had also burst out where we were; and the small spot on which we stood had become an island; so, in order to return to the forest through which we had passed the preceding night, we had to wade to our arm-pits, and it was with the utmost difficulty we could stem the current. On reaching the main river, it was about a quarter of a mile in width, so that it was useless to attempt to cross it. We therefore encamped on a small eminence at some distance until it should subside, to allow us to return to the boat. Our dour and sugar were very much spoiled with the wet, the kangaroo knapsacks being quite wet through. We erected a bark hut, and soon made ourselves very comfortable, happy in having escaped with out lives.
"Next day, Sunday the 10th, we saw that the river had fallen considerably, and we luckily succeeded in getting across.
"We had scarcely got bock to the tent when it began to blow and rain excessively, and continued so till Thursday the 14th, when we started for the Mersey. We reached the Leven that night, and next morning got to the Mersey to breakfast, where we found Mr. Adey.
(Signed) "Alexander Goldie."
"To Edward Curr, Esq."
Report of Mr.
Henry Hellyer, dated Circular Head,
13th March, 1827.
"On the 6th, I ascended the Dip, and saw from it a plain about fifteen miles south of Table Cape, and a large tract of open grassy country south-east by east, lying beyond the north side of the Peak, which I considered wan the most desirable route for me to take, and to endeavour to ascend the Peak; the country to the south being all high forest, tier above tier, and to the west one mass of low forest, so flat that I could see Mount Cameron and Cape Grimm, forty miles off, neither of which are very lofty. After taking minute observations of every feature of the surrounding country, I descended and took the horses down through a steep forest, into an extensive green flat, which I call Dipwood Marsh; and knowing it was all forest beyond, for many miles in every direction, and finding here abundance of fresh young grass and herbage, although very coarse, with grass trees and fern, I left the horses and the two prisoners, who ware already knocked up, and started for the open country beyond the Peak, with two intelligent active men used to the hush, each of US carrying a gun, and a knapsack containing a large blanket and a fortnight's provision. My strength, I feared, was scarcely equal to it; but I was determined to go as far as possible.
"The country as far as Dipwood Marsh, from Circular Head, is every where sandy, and of no utility whatever for the purpose of the Company. It consists of barren, rocky, and heathy hills, with useless stunted trees, heathy swampy plains, and rocky forests. I observed there is a sharp white sand freestone to be had from about the Dip; but its carriage would render it almost unavailable: it would, I think, make excellent grindstones, and rubbers for scythes, &c. Dipwood Marsh extends from four to five miles in length, and is about half a mile wide; the soil, grey sand mixed with lumps of bulky quartz. It appears to be a place much frequented by the natives, and has been burnt a few months back. We found several kangaroos upon it when we came down.
"I left Dipwood Marsh on the 7th, and had a most fatiguing march for several days, through a thick dark forest, a succession of woody mountains; and although the men climbed trees, upon every top where it was likely to obtain an observation, we found such a mass of foliage every where, that no distant object could be seen until the evening of the 11th; when we were so fortunate as to see the Peak, which then appeared to be a good three days' march from us. I began now to consider we had travelled five days out of our fourteen, and as I could not go near the Peak, if I went on for the open plains, I determined to insure, at all events, my ascending the Peak.
"On the morning of the 12th, having altered my course from south-east by east to south-east by south-half-south, I found the travelling much the same all that day; but on the 13th, we saw an emu track down the side of a hill, which assured us we were getting into a better country; and about noon, we suddenly came upon grassy hills, the extent of which we had then no idea of. The change was quite reviving: the Peak was some miles before us; we went over these hills, and passed through a considerable tract of myrtle forest, similar to our last six days' travelling, and came to the widest and deepest river we had seen since leaving Circular Head. We crossed over on a fallen tree bridge, twenty feet above the water. Its course here is from south-west, and going east-north-east. I have since named it Emu River. I expected this river skirted the Peak; and we afterwards found seven distinct tiers of hilly forest, before we arrived at the base of the principal eminence.
"On the night of the 13th, we rested on the fourth hill of ascent.
"On the 14th, the day was very unfavourable, being wet and gloomy; but we could not wait for the weather, and about two o'clock we had reached the top of the north pyramid of rock; the highest part being yet far above us, and in the clouds. Seeing the weather thicker to windward, and fearing the scene around me would soon be eclipsed, I hastened to take a sketch of it; but the clouds descended, and it poured with rain, so that we could not see each other. There was each a thick mist, and it rushed past us so furiously, we were obliged to take shelter in a nook of the rocks, and wrap ourselves up in blankets, it was so perishing cold. I wanted to wait to see if it would blow over. We waited till five o'clock, and finding there was no chance of its clearing, we descended; and I determined on going up again the next day. I had just sufficient time to look round me, and see there was a fine open country to the north-east and south-west. We found it very difficult to get down, being obliged to hold on to jutting perpendicular rocks, and the small twigs which grew between them; and finding water just before dark, we stood against some trees, before a large fire. The rain continued a great part of the night.
"The country from Dipwood Marsh to the Peak, is not by any means barren. After the first three miles from the Marsh it chaises from a hungry, sandy soil, to a deep rich loam; and there is not a stone to be seen, except at the bottom of brooks, which are mostly in deep ravines and gullies, which intersect and drain the forest in all directions. The surface soil is actually rank with constantly decaying vegetable matter; its scent is quite disagreeable, and the air in these dense forests is putrid and oppressive, and swarms with musquitoes and large stinging flies, the size of English bees. Daylight is completely shut out by masses of foliage impervious to the rays of the sun. Myrtle is the principal timber throughout this district: its appearance, as to a rough bark and thick foliage, very much resembles the elm; but there are no elms equal to those gigantic trees, being in general from one hundred and fifty to two hundred feet in height, and from thirty to forty feet in circumference. The wood is very like cedar. Sassafras is found here in great abundance and of fine growth; and on many of the higher tiers, are celery-topped pine and blackwattle of considerable size. Fern trees, twenty feet in height, laurel-fern, and feather-fern are every where to be found, except in the thickest scrubs. The rivers and brooks are so numerous, we were scarcely half an hour, during any day, without crossing one or the other. Dead logs and branches impeded us at every step; and we were continually meeting with large tracts of dense thicket, from thirty to forty feet high, so closely interwoven and matted together, as to be impenetrable below: and we were often obliged to be walking upon these never-dry, slippery branches, covered with moss, as much as twenty feet above the ground, which, being in many instances rotten, occasioned us many awkward falls, and tore our clothes to rags-We were not able to force our way on five hundred yards in an hour, in some of these horrid scrubs. I was glad I did not attempt to bring the horses on any further. The grassy tract of country which we had crossed, north of the Emu river, appears to extend many miles to the south-west, and unites with the large open country to the north-east. It is covered with luxuriant grass, and there are a few large, stringy bark trees on the top of the ridge, which runs down the centre of it.
"The hilly forest, from the Emu river to the base of the Peak, is of the same description as all the other myrtle forests we have traversed; except that the soil here is rather rocky, and there are some stringy barks on these hills.
"The Peak is composed of pudding stone, (like several other of the principal mountains which I have examined,) and is in shape, when viewed on the east or west side, like a three masted ship in full sail; and, when observed from the north or south, it is as sharp as any peak can well be imagined, the sides being nearly perpendicular. Its base extends six miles in length and about three miles in width. There is a companion hill on the north-west side, which is of considerable size and very lofty, but woody to the top.
"The morning of the 15th was fortunately very clear and serene: there was not a cloud to be seen. We again toiled up the mountain with our loads, not knowing which way it would be most desirable to go on. After getting to the top, we were several hours struggling through thick scrub and wireweed, and climbing over immense masses of rock: the scrub was dripping wet, from the heavy rain which had fallen in the night. We at length arrived upon the very highest point, 3000 feet above the level of the sea! I found the stump of a withered box tree and cut upon it 'St. Valentine's Peak,' the date of my ascent, &c., which I drove into the cleft of the rocks at the top, with its roots in the air. The men rolled off some huge blocks of rock, which in their fall appeared to smoke, from the splinters which flew off, as they struck and rebounded from one massive projection down to another. I had now to consider which way I should proceed on my return, to see as much as possible of the good country I had discovered from the Peak; and as that portion lying to the north-east might be more easily examined from the coast, I descended at the south end, after collecting specimens of the rock, in doing which I broke off several lumps sparkling with crystals, and brought them sway, although I had a long distance to carry them in my knapsack. We alighted in the evening upon an open spot, which had caught my observation from the top. I found it consisted of grassy hills and knolls, and resembled a neglected old park; a thousand to fifteen hundred acres in a patch, without a tree, except a few clumps of blackwood. Dead trees lay totting where they had Mien; grass run to seed, the tops of which appeared at this season nearly white, made it very conspicuous when viewed from a distance. Here we saw kangaroos in abundance, and tracks of them in all directions. A brook runs across this district from the Peak, in a south-east direction, which I think is very likely to be the source of the Leven river. The banks of the brook are green with trefoil. We found here as good mushrooms as any I have tasted in England. As I had only time to make one straight line through part of the open country, and endeavour to find my way through the mountains of forest which divided me from the horses, I determined, from what I had observed above, to go from this west-south-west, and see a fine large open tract, about ten miles off. We went on in an excellent country, consisting of gently rising, dry, grassy hills, divided from each other by brooks, the sides of which are adorned with blackwood fad other elegant trees and shrubs; and on the hills are a few tall peppermint and stringy barks. About sunset, having routed some emus, we fired at them without impeding their progress; and having shot two kangaroos, we halted for the night. As soon as we had made a fire, the flames caught the grass, and it spread to a great extent, quite illuminating the atmosphere, until rain came on and by degrees extinguished it.
"On the 16th we proceeded west-south-west, and after walking about half a mile, crossed the Emu river, here running north-north-west: saw several wattle birds: went over many considerable hills burnt by the natives: found a lot of native huts, and saw several trees from which bark had been taken to cover them; soon after which we came down to a noble river, with a strong current gliding smoothly along from south to north. I called it the Don by way of distinction. It is fifty yards wide and took us to our middle in the shallowest place we could find. On its banks are complete sloping shrubberies. This river appears to rise from eight to ten feet in time of flood. At some short distance from the Don, we ascended the most magnificent grass hill I have seen in this country, consisting of several level terraces, as if laid out by art, and crowned with a straight row of stately peppermint trees; beyond which there is not a tree for four miles along the grassy hills. I had now arrived at the grand opening seen from the Peak, beyond the Brown Forest: here the natives had been burning large tracts of grass. The morning being cloudy and wet, I was just able to discern through the mist, that the Peak bore from hence east-north-east: the top was in the clouds. I congratulated myself upon having had so fine a day yesterday, or I should have had a very imperfect idea of the extent of good country here. The plains, or rather hills, from the south foot of the Peak, I call, from their great extent and importance, the Surrey Hills; which name I here cut upon a large conspicuous tree, the country being about the same distance inland as that county in England. They resemble English enclosures in many respects, being bounded by brooks between each, with belts of beautiful shrubs in every vale including blue leaf tea-tree, box, sassafras, black wood, wood-pear, birch, sloe-leaf, mask-holly, celery-top pine, and myrtle. The whole country here is grassy. The grasses in the line of our walk are principally timothy, foxtail, and single kangaroo. The surface soil is dark vegetable mould upon a rich brown, open loam, of various depths, and lighter in colour according to its depth: but on the tops of the hills there are rocks above the surface in several instances; and from what I could observe, where trees had fallen torn up by the roots, the substratum is every where gravelly, which appears to render these hills perfectly dry. All the brooks have hard pebbly bottoms, free from mud, and the water is dear as crystal. The timber found on these hills is, in general, of fine growth, very tall and straight; some of it would measure more than 100 feet to the lowest branch. The trees are in many places 100 yards apart. They are principally peppermint and stringy bark; which, having lately made their summer shoots, the whole country where they are appeared from the Peak of a lively brownish hue, by which I was enabled to distinguish the large tract of country which I have marked Brown Forest on the map; and from what I have seen of the Brown Forest thus far, I do not think it at all too thickly timbered to afford a little shade from the summer heat. It will not, in general, average ten trees an acre. There are many open plains of several square miles, without a single tree. The kangaroos stood gazing at us like fawns, and in some instances came bounding towards us; and if we shouted they ran like a flock of sheep; we never saw so many together. The plains or hills to the north of the Peak, being nearer to the coast, I call the Hampshire Hills. They appear even more park-like than the Surrey Hills, and are handsomely clumped with trees. We continued travelling in the Brown Forest until the morning of the 18th: we found it the same kind of grassy country which I have before described, all the way from the Peak. Our course in the Brown Forest has been nearly twenty miles; and as for as we were enabled to view it on both sides, as we came along, there arose grassy hills out of number, which it was delightful to look round upon, from one higher than the rest that commanded such a prospect, which continually occurred in the course of our walk.
"We now approached the high forest tier of woody mountains, near which we came upon a marshy country, and saw several snipes. We found here two native huts, and marks of many fire-places in the neighbourhood, as if the spot had been lately occupied by a large body of natives. In one of the huts I saw a drawing of the moon, done with charcoal, upon the inside of one of the slabs of bark which formed the hut; and regarding it as an evidence of there being artists among them, I cut out the piece, and placed it carefully between two other pieces of bark in my knapsack. I sketched two figures of the moon with charcoal on the bark of the hut, and put the date of my visit. I was now travelling north-west by north, towards the Dip Mountain, until I might be able to get an observation to correct my course; and having ascended the high forest tier, we hoped to obtain a bearing that would guide us in finding the nearest way to the horses; but there was no chance of it. Nothing could be seen but tops of trees upon the next high tier. We descended; and on the 19th came down through a very thick forest, to the bend of a large deep and rapid river, larger than the Don; and at this place more than ten feet deep close to the bank. It was here coming from south-south-east, and going west by south; we did not therefore suppose that we should see any more of it. We pursued our way along a considerable tract of low, flat forest, which had every appearance of bong inundated in the rainy season; beyond which we again found this large river, running north-east. We were obliged now to wade through it, at the best fording place we could find, and it was in some places so deep and dangerous, we could scarcely withstand the current; but, by holding on to poles, we all got safe through it; and having wrung our clothes, we went on over several steep hills of forest and scrub; and about sunset had arrived on the top of a very high forest tier. The men climbed the trees as usual, and could see nothing but tops of trees upon the next high tier, which was a great disappointment to me.
"On the 20th we came down from high mountains of dark forest, and went over many very steep hills, without at all varying the dismal scene; but suddenly it changed for a few minutes, we having come down upon an excellent level spot of high fern and stringy bark; a capital soil for the plough and easily cleared. Its extent might be one hundred acres. It appeared to be a long flat terrace, off the side of the mountain. Here we again heard the great river just below, and found it running west. We had no alternative but to find our way over; and it here appeared so much larger, we all thought it had united with the Don since our first crossing it. We were, however, lucky in finding here a much better ford, with an island of gravel to rest upon; and the current being wider, was not so powerful as at our former crossing place. This spot would serve for a ford and depôt, if ever a road should be made in this direction; which I think is most improbable, from the lofty mountains surrounding it. I have taken the liberty of styling this large river the Arthur, in compliment to his Excellency the present Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen's Land, it being one of the principal rivers in the island. After travelling north-north-west over several high mountains of forest, we at last obtained a view of the east end of the Blue Peak Range, by which we knew we were many days' journey from the horses, and too much to the west. We now changed our coarse to north-north-east. We had no provisions left except flour, which mixed with water only, (we having boiled our sugar bag,) is poor living to take such violent bodily exercise upon.
"On the 21st, about noon, we came down upon the Arthur again, running east; but seeing it turned to the north, we went round the bend, and from it ascended its very high and steep bank, in a north-north-east direction, and came up to the foot of a long line of perpendicular cliffs of slate, from 200 to 300 feet high, which upon examination proved to be slate of the best quality, splitting in parallel thicknesses to the size of ladies, countesses, or duchesses, and lying in regular horizontal strata from end to end. I brought away specimens, and engraved upon a large slab standing under the cliff, 'Whoever is found stealing slate from this quarry, will be dealt with according to law,' with the date below it. If the Arthur should be found navigable for barges, from hence to the coast, this discovery so near the river, might be valuable. These cliffs appear to extend for miles, and would supply all the world in slates. We continued travelling in the dreary forest, over high mountains of slate, with an abundance of capital whetstone in every deep ravine, a great pan of the 22d; and were obliged to make our way on for many miles, along the top of a highly dangerous, serpentine, strong, and rocky ridge, so narrow at the top, that a single large tree would often occupy the whole width of it; and we were obliged to creep along its almost perpendicular sides to get past such a tree. It resembled the top of a wall of a large castle; and on either side below us, was a rocky ravine many hundred yards deep. After getting over several high hills of forest, we came down to a large river, which we knew could be no other than the Son; and now discovered that it had not joined the Arthur, as we before had reason to suppose. It here ran west in a deep valley of rugged rocks, among mountains of rocky forest. Having with difficulty waded through it, about 300 yards above a noble cascade, where the whole body of water fell twenty feet perpendicular with an astounding noise, we went up one of the loftiest forest tiers we had yet encountered, which we found to be perfectly level at the top and thickly grown with an almost impenetrable espalier-grown scrub, that a dog could not get through below. We persevered in getting over it till dark. It had poured with rain nearly the whole day; the water streamed from our fingers' ends: we were obliged to go on, or starve. This compulsory moving on, past our strength, and the anxiety we all felt as to our ever being able to get back to tell of what we had seen, rendered our situation at this moment by no means enviable. The men began to consider it hopeless, and said they should never be heard of any more, like the seven soldiers that went from Macquarrie Harbour, after bushrangers; but if we had only strength left to crawl on at all, I told them I was sure we should get out. We could not be far wrong in our course, and at all events could make the sea-coast, even if we should continue to be so buried in dark forest, as not to be able to get another observation.
"On the 23d, we toiled as usual over tremendous mountains of forest; and had some thoughts of throwing away every thing we carried, being all nearly exhausted with fatigue and want of food.
"On the 24th, we came to the brink of a frightful precipice, and saw a river below, running north-east. We went along it some distance, and found a place to descend, where We crossed the river, and knew it must be the same we had crossed going to the Peak, which runs into the sea at Table Cape. From a tree on a hill further on, we saw the sea and Table Cape. We immediately altered our course to north-west; and on the 25th, after surmounting several steep and lofty ridges of forest, we caught sight of the Dip, only five miles from us, hearing west-south-west. We became a new set of men in a moment. We struggled hard to get out of the forest, as quick as possible, knowing now exactly the ground we had to go upon. We soon arrived upon the heathy hills surrounding Dipwood Marsh; and, when within a mile of the spot where we had left the men and horses, we fired a signal, and as we walked briskly on, we had the satisfaction of hearing a report in answer to it, which I was rejoiced at, as we could not tell whether the men had not been murdered by the natives during our nineteen days' absence. As we descended the last hill, we were grieved to see two of the horses lying dead. The men came to meet us. They were glad to see us come back, having given up all hopes of it; and were going to leave the place the next day, and endeavour to find their way back to Circular Head. They said the horses had fallen off every day since they were brought here; one of them died six days after I left; the other died the day before I returned; the third horse was nearly dead. I found the poor animal very weak, and scarcely able to eat a piece of bread. I had some warm gruel made, and poured down his throat, and blankets wrapped round him: the other two appeared to have died from indigestion.
"On the following day I had the pack saddles, and several other articles we could not carry, planted, to be sent for at some future opportunity. We were all much in need of a day's rest. The two men. Wells and Higginson, had taken great care of every thing, and deserve encouragement. They did not know what to do for the horses. I had left the two kangaroo dogs with them, thinking they would be starved in the forest, or I should be obliged to give them part of our provisions, which would prevent our going as far as we otherwise might. The dogs had caught them three kangaroos, and two badgers or woombacks. They had not heard, or seen any thing of the natives. I had now an opportunity of putting on clean linen, which I had not been able to do for three weeks, (during such profuse perspiration,) or to have any of my clothes off, except to wring the wet out-I was anxious to get the remaining horse within reach of better food; and on the 27th we quitted Dipwood Marsh for Circular Head.
"The country through which we have been travelling the last seven days, from the Surrey Hills to Dipwood Marsh, was much more difficult to get through than that by which we went to the Peak; the mountains being considerably higher, the ravines much deeper, with bold rocky sides, and giddy precipices, requiring the utmost caution not to descend too iar, to be unable to re-ascend, which we were often obliged to do, and toil again to find a more practicable declivity along the mountain side, after getting a considerable distance down, which was very harassing, and seemed often to render our return hopeless. To add to our difficulties, we had no provisions left for the last four days, except a little flour, of which we could only allow ourselves about a pint a day, stirred in hot water; and we had only enough left for one more meal when we returned to the horses. We were determined, however, to persevere to the utmost to extricate ourselves: the weather too had become very unfavourable since leaving the Peak. The timber in this district I found to be principally myrtle, sassafras, and stinkwood; and on ft mountain, west of the Arthur, I saw several pepper trees, and procured the berries, bark, and root, which are all very biting to the tongue. Large tracts of closely matted scrub, with cutting grass, very much impeded our progress. Fern trees and fern occupy the more open spaces, under the dark spreading branches of the large forest trees. A great number of fine stringy barks are here to be met with, where the soil is dry; but the principal part of this extensive country is as completely overshadowed with enormous myrtles as that through which I went to the Peak. A great proportion of the soil here is mixed with slate and rock; but there are many cultivatable tracts of great extent, with a rich loam of considerable depth: creeks and cascades arc to be found in every gully, up to the very summits of the mountains.
"When we had arrived, with the only remaining horse, upon a heathy hill on the west side of the Dip, the day being fine and the heath dry, we set it on fire, and it raged so furiously we were obliged to hurry out of its way, and were in danger of getting burnt and losing the horse, from his having fallen down and being unable to go on; and it required the strength of us all to remove him out of its way. I expected by making a fire here, the smoke might be seen from Circular Head, and it would be known that the party who had gone in that direction were returning, as the month for which I was provisioned was now expired. We retraced our former steps to the mouth of the Detention river in four days, and made a signal of three large fires on the shore, as agreed, for a boat. The next morning, March the 3d, seeing no boat coming, we proceeded round the shore; and in going along, my attention was attracted by some curious appearances of metal among the rocks, where I broke off some grains resembling copper, under a kind of old metal sheathing, which covered great part of the surface of the rocks; and in stagnant water near, I picked up shells dyed blueish, and observed a greasy scum upon the surface of the water. I am of opinion there must be a large proportion of copper in it, and send the best specimens I could procure. These rocks extend about two miles along the shore, and considerably inland near Crayfish River.
"The following day, March the 4th, we arrived with the horse near to Circular Head, to which place I went forward, and reported to Mr. Adey the propitious result of the journey, and the loss of the two horses.
"We saw no natives, but several huts, and marks of them. We picked up green boughs by the embers of their fires, that had not been gathered two days; we supposed they were not far off, and might have used the boughs for musquito fans. We saw several trees with steps cut in the bark; and, at twenty miles from the sea, picked up the shells and claws of very large lobsters and crayfish, which they had roasted. When the heath was set on fire, I caught one of those curious insects the native straw; it is, I apprehend, a nondescript. The only Creatures inhabiting these large forests, appeared to be opossums and bandicoot rats, and, I suppose, tigers, or native dogs, as they are called; as we often heard the cracking of sticks by some heavy creature after dark, as we lay, like mummies, rolled up in blankets to keep off the musquitoes, by our fire side, upon our bed of fern leaves. This, and the owl's doleful cry of 'more pork', and the screaming of the opossums, were the only disturbances we experienced during the night. Parrots, far above our reach, were chattering all day; and when they made an unusually loud noise, it was occasioned by the eagle-hawk pouncing upon them for his prey. We also occasionally heard the trumpeter, or black magpie, and black cockatoos in large mobs; but they kept so much aloft, we only were able to shoot one of them, and one parrot, during the whole journey; and one of the men shot a 'more pork'.
"I cannot conclude the few particulars I have been enabled to give of my late walk in the bush, without acknowledging how much I am indebted to the unwearied exertions of Richard Frederick and Isaac Cutts, the two freemen you had appointed to attend me. But for their assistance it would have been, from the nature of the country, quite impossible that I could have penetrated so far, as to see that part which is so desirable as a sheep country; the extent of which I have endeavoured to convey an idea of in my map, by giving it a yellow wash. I beg, therefore, to recommend them most particularly to your future consideration, as well as the privations they have endured, and the losses they have sustained in their clothes and several articles belonging to themselves. I cannot omit to state the great care taken by Frederick to save the remaining horse, as I should have been obliged to leave the animal to his fate, but for Frederick's constant attention and perseverance, in conducting him from Dipwood Marsh to Circular Head.
"Had I not taken the pack-hones, and conveyed provisions far as I did, so as to enable us to start from thence, we could not have carried sufficient to have reached that country than this part of the coast. I therefore consider that our being enabled to see so much of the interior, during my last journey, was greatly owing to those poor animals whose lives have been lost in the service.
(Signed) "Henry Hellyer."
Report of Mr. Joseph Fossey, dated Circular Head,
26th May, 1827.
"Conformably to your instructions of the 3d of April last, I have to acquaint you that I proceeded from Launceston on the 6th, for the purpose of making a tour overland, by way of the western marshes, to the coast near Table Cape.
"I left the cart at the Mersey, near Rolland Mountain, on Monday the 23rd of April, having been confined there by indisposition from Wednesday the 18th.
"The whole country, in the line of my route from Moleside to Hounslow Heath, is (with the exception of three small marshes and the Emu Plains, as laid down in the accompanying sketch,) entirely forest, comprising almost every kind of timber usually found in the colony, and principally of a mountainous description. Hence it may be inferred, that a road for carriages in this direction will, from the character of the country, be very circuitous, and consume much time in finding out; yet I do not entertain the most distant doubt of its being ultimately discovered.
"The Mersey and the Forth have both sound beds, and more fordable; and the small marshes just mentioned, being situated at easy distances, will, together with the Emu Plains, which are of considerable extent, form convenient resting places by the way, affording both good feed and water.
"From the Emu Plains to the Heath the difficulties will be very great, but when once overcome, all trouble will comparatively cease.
"The Heath is apparently unbounded, and will be a great acquisition to the Surrey Hills as a summer sheep run. In winter it is covered with snow, and thereby rendered unavailable for any useful purpose.
"The Vale of Belvoir next presents itself, bounded on the north by an arm of the Black Bluff, on the south by gently rising mounds, with some extent of clear land, running in a direction towards Rollands. It has a large lake at the east end, with a fine rivulet meandering through the centre, and an indescribably beautiful waterfall on its south side, near the west end, completes the picture. It is from two to three miles long, and of considerable breadth.
"The numerous situations which present themselves as suitable for any kind of machinery requiring to be worked by water, afford a great variety for selection.
Crossing the arm of the Black Bluff, I ascended May-day Mount, from which I obtained a first view of the lands discovered by Mr. Hellyer, lying to the south-west, south-east, west, and north-west of Valentine's Peak, and which combines a very large tract of open forest ground thinly timbered, with extensive intervening plains. The evening, May the 1st, I took my quarters upon a very large one, lying to the south-east of the peak, of exceedingly fine soil and good grasses, and overrun by kangaroos.
"May the 2nd, passing over a little heath and some forest land, I came upon another part of the Surrey Hills, through which the Leven winds its course to the northward, and I forded it, middle deep, at a point where it has two branches, and if about twenty yards wide. The country in the vicinity of this river is so admirably laid out by nature, that it assumes very much the appearance of a nobleman's domain, both as to extent and good quality, particularly that part lying east of the river. On the west it is of marshy description, yet not in the least degree objectionable on that account, inasmuch as it will furnish a profusion of feed in the event of 807 particularly dry seasons occurring; and it lies well for draining to the river and rivulets which intersect it, should such a measure at any future period be deemed expedient.
"The Green Forest, which divides the Surrey from the Hampshire Hills, comprises myrtle, sassafras, celery-top pine, with a little stringy bark, all of large circumference. There was also the pepper tree and fern tree, with musk and dogwood, through which last it required great perseverance to penetrate, insomuch that I was reduced to crawl through it on my hands and knees, and even in this posture all my efforts were necessary to extricate me from the trammels by which I was encompassed.
"On the 5th I reached the Hampshire Hills, through the heart of which the Emu takes its course in a northerly direction to the coast near Round Hills. The land on the banks of this river, and of which there is a great extent running in a line for the Dial Mountains, is similar, both in quality of soil and herbage, to that of the Garden Plain at Circular Head; and this remark will equally apply to the greater part of the clear lands throughout my route, the heaths of course excepted.
"The weather being now exceedingly unpropitious, rather than enter Arden Forest under such unfavourable auspices, I remained on the hills, chiefly subsisting on kangaroo thickened with a little flour, (this being the most economical mode of extending the remains of that article,) until Thursday the 8th, when the wind veered from the north-west to the south, and it became very clear and fine again. This induced me to proceed, and in three days I reached the coast, within about seven miles to the eastward of Table Cape, and between two or three to the westward of the river Cam, late the Emu.
"The whole distance from the Hampshire Hills to the coast is forest, like the Green Forest before described, except two small plots of grass land, as noted in the sketch. A considerable proportion of this forest is very flat and dry;—is as rich in soil as nature can well make it, and tolerably open to within about three miles of the coast, when immensely high fern and much fallen timber greatly obstructed my route.
"Slate and freestone are both to be obtained in the neighbourhood of the Surrey Hills; the former upon the heath, the latter at May-day Mount.
"A minute examination of the recently discovered open country will occupy much time, but as far as I have been able. to ascertain from actual observation and appearances, it is a tract, both as to extent and other qualities, likely to suit the purposes tor which it is required, and is therefore worthy the search.
"From the numerous huts that present themselves, it is a part of the country to which the natives frequently resort: and on the heath I came so near them, that I distinctly heard their call for the assembling of their forces.
"Friday the 11th. I this morning proceeded, at day-break, to the mouth of the river Cam, and then continued along the shore to the Emu River, on the west side of Round Hill Point, where I was highly gratified by meeting Mr. Hellyer. On the 12th, I arrived at Circular Head; and here I beg leave to state, that both Richard Frederick and Isaac Cutts, who accompanied me in this tour, have proved themselves worthy of any encouragement you may bestow.
(Signed) "Joseph Fossey."
Copy of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur,
to Viscount Goderich.
Van Diemen's Land, Government House,
10th January, 1828.
I have the honour to report to your Lordship, that a more than usual temper of hostility has, within the last six months, manifested itself on the part of the Aborigines of this colony, and has rendered some active steps for protection necessary, and I fear some still stronger measures will be required.
On my succeeding to the government, I found the quarrel of the natives with the Europeans, occasioned by an unfortunate step of the officer in command of the garrison on the first forming of the settlement, was duly aggravated by every kind of injury committed against the defenceless natives by the stock-keepers and sealers, with whom it was a constant practice to fire upon them whenever they approached, and to deprive them of their women whenever the opportunity offered. I considered it my duty, therefore, to declare, by proclamation, that every individual found to have committed any criminal act of aggression upon the Aborigines, should be prosecuted before the Supreme Court. At the same time I enjoined the magistrates and respectable settlers to use every means to conciliate and protect them. The proclamation, I have reason to believe, was not without effect; and I endeavoured still further to cultivate a friendly intercourse, and at least make the attempt to civilize this abased race, on the occasion of the unexpected appearance of a tribe in Hobart Town, by alluring them, with the promise of food and clothings, to repeat their visit. And I had formed the plan of establishing an institution, to which they might resort, in the hope that some might be persuaded to adopt the habits of civilized life. After stopping a few days, however, in the neighbourhood of Hobart Town, the tribe went back to their haunts, and have not again returned; though, to all appearance, they were highly satisfied with the treatment they received, and made it understood that they looked upon the governor as their protector.
It is not a matter of surprise that the injuries real or supposed, inflicted upon the blacks, have been revenged upon the whites, whenever an occasion presented itself; and I regret to say, that the natives, led on by a Sydney black and by two Aborigines of this island, men partially civilized, (a circumstance which augurs ill for any endeavour to instruct these abject beings,) have committed many murders upon the shepherds and herdsmen in remote situations. And they have latterly assumed so formidable an appearance, and perpetrated such repeated outrages within the settled districts, that I have been pressingly called upon by settlers, in several petitions, to adopt some measure which should effectually free them from these troublesome assailants, and from the nuisance of their dogs, which, originally purloined from the settlers, have increased to such a number as to threaten to become a lasting pest to the country.
But it is much easier to complain than to find a cure for the evil, which none of the petitioners has ventured to suggest; and I have not thought proper to do more than afford the protection of some additional parties of police and military, and to point out, by government notices, how far the settlers would be justified by law in making use of arms to drive off the natives who should present a hostile front.
The necessity of taking some decisive step, however, becomes every day more apparent, as the settlers advance on the favourite haunts of the natives; but I confess I feel the subject exceedingly perplexing. The only remedy which I have heard proposed is, to collect the natives, and remove them to some island in the Straits, where there is no want of their accustomed food, and where, by teaching them the art of cultivating the soil, (in the mean time supplying them with bread,) they might provide their own sustenance; and from the necessity which such a situation would impose of becoming stationary, a better chance would be afforded of success to any effort for their civilisation. Not to mention the extreme difficulty of this scheme, nothing short of the last necessity could tolerate so great an aggravation of their injuries, as they Would unquestionably consider removing them from their native tracts. They already complain that the white people have taken possession of their country, encroached upon their hunting grounds, and destroyed their natural food, the kangaroo; and they doubtless would be exasperated to the last degree to be banished altogether from their favourite haunts; and as they would be ill disposed to receive instruction from their oppressors, any attempt to civilize them, under such circumstances, must consequently fail.
The measure which I rather incline to attempt, is to settle the Aborigines in some remote quarter of the island, which should strictly be reserved for them, and to supply them with food and clothing, and afford them protection from injuries by the stock-keepers, on condition of their confining themselves peaceably to certain limits, beyond which if they pass, they should be made to understand they will cease to be protected. With this view I caused a letter to be addressed to the Commissioners of lands, directing them to point out some eligible district in which the trial may be made.
The Commissioners have recommended the north-east coast, as being the most advantageous situation for such a purpose, conceiving, that food can be conveyed by water to that part with the least possible difficulty, and that the natives themselves (if they can be induced to remain quiet) would prefer it to any other part, frequenting it as they continually do for shell fish, and also on account of its being the best sheltered and warmest part of the island, and remote from the settled districts.
It must be acknowledged that this plan also has its difficulties, which indeed the migratory habits of the Aborigines, and their attachment to their savage mode of life, must attach to any scheme, consistent with humanity, for effectually protecting the settlers from their outrages. But it is but justice to make the attempt; for notwithstanding the clamour and urgent appeals which are now made to me for the adoption of harsh measures. I cannot divest myself of the consideration that all aggression originated with the white inhabitants, and that therefore much ought to be endured in return before the blacks are treated as an open and accredited enemy by the government.
In prosecuting the plan I have suggested, only a very limited expenditure will be authorised, until I am honoured with the result of your Lordship's consideration of this most interesting and important subject.
I have the honour to be, my Lord,
Your Lordship's most obedient humble
(Signed) george arthur.
Copy of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor
Arthur to Mr. Secretary Huskisson.
Van Diemen's Land, Government House,
17th April, 1828.
I had the honour to communicate to Lord Goderich, in my despatch of the 10th of January last, the painful necessity of adopting some decided measures to suppress the increasing spirit of resentment manifested by the coloured inhabitants of this colony, and the difficulty which I felt in determining the measures which it would be most advisable to pursue.
It gives me great concern to state, that the animosity of these wretched people is in no degree abated, and that their increasing predatory incursions upon the settled districts, which are accompanied with the perpetration of frequent barbarous murders, have overcome my reluctance to proceed to any coercive measures against them.
The subject has undergone several days' anxious deliberation and discussion in the executive council; and having examined all such persons as are competent to give information, I am it length convinced of the absolute necessity of separating the Aborigines altogether from the white inhabitants, and of removing the former entirely from the settled districts, until their habits shall become more civilized.
The proclamation which I have issued, with the unanimous advice of the Council, fully explains the origin and progress of the unhappy feeling which exists, and the measures directed for the purpose of averting its further fatal consequences.
It is a subject most painful under every consideration; we are undoubtedly the first aggressors, and the desperate characters amongst the prisoner population, who have from time to time absconded into the woods, have no doubt committed the greatest outrages upon the natives, and these ignorant beings, incapable of discrimination, are now filled with enmity and revenge against the whole body of white inhabitants. It is perhaps at this time in vain to trace the cause of the evil which exists;—my duty is plainly to remove its effects; and there does not appear any practical method of accomplishing this measure, short of entirely prohibiting the Aborigines from entering the settled districts; a measure, however, which you may be assured shall be carried into execution without the least avoidable harshness.
I have long indulged the expectation, that kindness and forbearance would have brought about something like a reconciliation; but the repeated murders which have been committed have so greatly inflamed the passions of the settlers, that petitions and complaints have been presented from every part of the colony, and the feeling of resentment now runs so high, that further forbearance would be totally indefensible.
My intention was, to have given up one district to the natives, but such a spirit of dissention exists amongst the tribes themselves, that it cannot possibly be accomplished.
It is painful and distressing to banish the natives from their favourite haunts; but, beyond this, there is no occasion that his Majesty's government should be apprehensive, and I do not even yet resign all the hope of pacifying those angry feelings which are at present but too evident on both aides.
His Majesty's instructions command that every measure shall be resorted to for the instruction and civilization of the natives; may I therefore beg to be honoured with your commands, whether, in promoting this attempt, I am to consider myself authorised to afford some temporary relief in food and clothing, which I fear affords the only prospect of quieting a tribe of savages, and may, perhaps, be absolutely necessary for their support beyond the settled districts?
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient humble Servant,
(Signed) george arthur.
Copy of a Despatch from Secretary Sir George
Murray to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur.
Downing Street, 20th February, 1829.
I have had the honour to receive, and to lay before the king, your Despatch of the 17th of April last.
His Majesty has learnt with much concern, that the conciliatory measures to which you had resorted, with the view of establishing a friendly intercourse with the Aborigines of Van Diemen's Land, should have so completely failed; and that the hostility which continues to be manifested on the part of these people, notwithstanding the endeavours which have been so often used to induce them to adopt more civilised habits, should have rendered other and more decisive measures necessary for the security of the lives and property of the settlers, as well as for the protection of the coloured inhabitants themselves.
As it appears that you have not had recourse to the present alternative of confining the haunts of the natives to particular limits, until you had tried every other possible means of removing the existing evils, his Majesty has commanded me to signify to you his approval of the Proclamation which you have issued for that purpose, and of the instructions which you have given to the civil and military authorities for carrying its provisions into effect. I am aware of the extremely difficult task of inducing ignorant beings of the description of those alluded to, to acknowledge any authority short of absolute force, particularly when possessed with the ides which they appear to entertain in regard to their own rights over the country, in comparison with those of the colonists. I cannot, however, omit to impress upon you, my most earnest desire, that no unnecessary harshness may be exercised in order to confine the coloured inhabitants within the boundaries which you have fixed.
To such of the tribes as may appear to you deserving of assistance in the shape of clothing and subsistence, you will afford these articles; but in thus leaving it to your discretion to apportion that assistance, his Majesty tehes confidently on your limiting it as much as possible; taking care that the persons who may receive such benefits may understand that they are alone indebted for them to the peaceable disposition they have manifested, and to the submission which they have shewn to the orders of the Colonial Government.
(Signed) g. murray.
Extract of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Mr. Secretary Huskisson, dated Van Diemen's Land, 5th July 1828.
With reference to the Despatch which I addressed to you on the 17th of April last, I have the honour to acquaint you, that in furtherance of the proclamation which accompanied it, military parties have been sent to the frontiers, with orders to prevent the Aborigines from approaching the settled districts; and I am happy to state that the native people, except in two or three instances, when they were immediately driven back, have not since shown themselves in any force, nor committed any violence; this, however, may, in some measure, be accounted for by their custom of resorting to the coast in the winter season.
There is nothing, I would repeat, to be apprehended from the natives to excite your alarm, or to check emigration; the measures resorted to will, I am persuaded, be effectual, and my only hope is, that they may prove so without sacrificing the lives of these wretched ignorant beings.
Extract of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Secretary Sir George Murray, dated Van Diemen's Land, 4th November, 1828.
With reference to my Despatches to Mr. Secretary Huskisson of the 17th of April and 5th July last, I regret to report, that the spring had do sooner commenced, than the natives renewed their hostile attacks, in a manner which shewed their intention to destroy, without distinction of sex or age, all the white inhabitants who should fall within their power; and as the measures resorted to, under the proclamation issued on the 15th of April, (copy of which I had the honour to inclose in my despatch,) proved ineffectual to remove the native people from the settled districts, and as considerable doubts had arisen how far under it the acts could be justified which were 'necessary to expel them, I was under the painful necessity of again bringing the subject before the executive council, with the view, under its advice, of adapting stronger measures.
After the most anxious deliberation on two successive days, the members of the council concurred in recommending, as the only means of affording to the king's subjects protection against the atrocities of the aborigines, that they should be declared under martial law, and I have felt myself called upon to issue a proclamation of martial law against them, copy of which I have the honour to enclose.
Though it has been unavoidably necessary to have recourse to this strong measure, I am in hopes that it will be the means of putting a speedy stop, without much bloodshed, to the lawless warfare which has been lately carrying on between the natives and the settlers and stockmen, by compelling the former (to whom it may be possible to make known, through such as may be captured, the consequences of remaining in the settled districts) to retire to those parts of the colony which are excepted from the operation of martial law. You will perceive by the proclamation, that the use of arms is still in no case to be resorted to until other measures for driving them off shall have foiled; and upon the same principle are my instructions to the police magistrates and military officers drawn up, copy of which I have the honour to enclose. And you may be assured that every means in my power, which are most consistent with humanity, will be used, even at the present extremity, for bringing about a good understanding with these wretched beings.
I propose immediately visiting all the military outstations, and I sincerely hope, at an early period, that it may be in my power to report that the aboriginal natives are reduced to a state of quietness, and that the measure which has been resorted to, of treating them as open enemies, may be annulled. Terror may have the effect which no proffered measures of conciliation have been capable of inducing.
With regard to the alarm which it is stated in the minute of council exists among the settlers, it is doubtless very distressing that so many murders have been committed by the Datives upon the stockmen, but there is no decided combined movement among the native tribes; nor, although cunning and artful in the extreme, any such systematic warfare exhibited by any of them, as need excite the least apprehension in the Government; for the blacks, however large their number, have never yet ventured to attack a party consisting of even three armed men.
Copy of a Despatch from Secretary Sir George Murray to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur.
Downing Street, 25th August, 1829.
I have had the honour to receive your Despatch of the 4th of November, by which it appears, that in consequence of the determined spirit of hostility manifested by the black or aboriginal natives of Van Diemen's Land, and the acts of barbarity which they have committed on defenceless settlers, you have found yourself compelled, as the only mode of preserving the lives of his Majesty's subjects, to resort to the extreme measure of proclaiming martial law with respect to the aboriginal inhabitants in those districts of your government which are the most exposed to the inroads of those people.
His Majesty's Government have learnt with extreme regret, that you have been obliged to resort to this alternative. Whilst, however, they lament the ineffectual efforts which you have used to establish a friendly intercourse between the white population and the native tribes, they cannot, under all the circumstances, withhold their sanction from the measure which you have adopted. I have therefore to approve of the proclamation which you have issued for putting in force martial law, as a means of compelling the natives to keep within certain districts prescribed, beyond the settled country; and if the instructions given to the magistrates and other officers, founded upon that proclamation, be executed by them in the same spirit by which you have been guided, I trust that the result will not only secure the lives and property of the settlers, but benefit the natives themselves.
It appears, from a paragraph at the end of the circular instructions addressed to the military officers, that twelve sets of directions have been issued, one to each of the twelve officers employed, prescribing to each the manner in which he is to proceed with relation to the circumstances of his own particular district, in removing the natives.
I have to request that you will send me a copy of each of these sets of directions, together with copies of any other orders which may have been issued to those officers, or to any other persons entrusted with this difficult and anxious duty.
As you appear to have provided in your proclamation against any unnecessary interruption or interference with the ordinary course of the law, I will not urge this subject further upon you; and his Majesty feels assured that you will recall your proclamation, and restore the law to its proper state, at the first moment after the accomplishment of the object for which your measures have been taken.
(Signed) G. MURRAY.
Extract of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur, addressed to the Right Honourable Sir George Murray; dated Government House, Van Diemen's Land, 15th April, 1830.
In your Despatch of the 25th August last, after acknowledging my Despatch of the 4th of November, 1828, in which I had the honour to lay before you the measures p which I had been compelled to resort, in order to protect the settlers from the attacks of the aboriginal natives, by the proclamation of martial law against them, you are pleased to require me to furnish you with a copy of the orders which had been issued to the military officers employed in aid of the civil power, in the protection of the settled districts, together with copies of any instructions which may have been given to any other persons intrusted with this difficult and anxious duty.
In obedience to your directions, I beg to transmit copies of the whole of the instructions which have been issued both to the civil and military authorities; the latter, indeed, have been almost entirely restricted to act as auxiliaries to the civil power.
Your desire to be furnished with copies of these instructions, leads me to conclude that his Majesty's Government will be well pleased to be supplied with still more ample information upon this highly interesting subject than my despatches have hitherto contained, although I trust you will be satisfied that it has been my endeavour throughout to afford a comprehensive statement of our situation to his Majesty's Government.
|exposé, to answer any objections which might hereafter be raised to the proceedings of the government in this very anxious matter. The Committee is named in the margin, and I trust it will be found to incorporate gentlemen the least likely to countenance any measures of unnecessary harshness.||
} Archdeacon Broughton.
} Rev. W. Bedford.
} Rev. J. Norman.
} P. A. Mulgrave, Esq.
} Jocelyn Thomas, Esq.
} James Scott, Esq.
} Samuel Hill, Esq.
} Charles Arthur, Esq.
The arrival in Van Diemen's Land of Archdeacon Broughton, on his first Visitation, enabled me to avail myself of his valuable aid as an additional member, and being uninjured by the natives, and wholly unconnected with the settlers, his opinion, founded upon a very laborious research into the subject, is the more valuable.
The zeal and industry with which the Committee has applied itself in collecting information, both oral and written, from all classes of persons, together with a most diligent inquiry into, and examination of, all the orders and instructions which have been given by the local government from the earliest period upon this subject, have enabled it to trace out the origin and progress of this hostility, together with the views and measures of the Colonial Government, with very great precision; and in the ample report which I have now the honour to lay before you, I feel very confident that it will be highly satisfactory to you to find that, much as the present state of things is to be deplored, the orders and measures of the government have been uniformly consistent in inculcating the most amicable and friendly feeling towards the aboriginal natives.
That the lawless convicts, who have from time to time absconded, together with the distant convict store-keepers in the interior, and the sealers employed in remote parts of the coast, have, from the earliest period, acted with great inhumanity towards the black natives, particularly in seizing their women, there can be no doubt; and these outrages have, it is evident, first excited, what they were naturally calculated to produce in the minds of savages, the strongest feelings of hatred and revenge.
On the other hand, it is equally apparent that the aboriginal natives of this colony are, and ever have been, a most treacherous race; that the kindness and humanity which they have always experienced from the free settlers has not tended to civilise them in any degree; nor has it induced them to forbear from the most wanton and unprovoked acts of barbarity, when a fair opportunity presented itself of indulging their disposition to maim or destroy the white inhabitants.
Our present state, there can be no doubt, is very distressing, as far as it places all remote settlers in much danger and continued apprehension, from the sudden attacks of these savages; but, notwithstanding the agitation which is excited, it is my deliberate opinion, founded on personal observation, having just returned from visiting the districts which have been most exposed to the incursions of the natives, that there would be little to fear if ordinary measures of precaution were adopted with spirit by the settlers. The indifference I have generally noticed is quite remarkable, and strikingly manifests that people, are always much mote ready to complain of evils than disposed to exert themselves to overcome them; not that I mean to assert that the sudden attacks of the natives are at all times to be avoided, and are not very alarming, but certainly much more precaution might be individually used in every family; and this is, after all, the only effectual security which can be given, unless a safety-guard were placed in every dwelling, a thing which is impossible.
The Report of the Committee I received in the Executive Council, on the 19th March, as I was desirous that there should be a full discussion of the whole subject, and that the members of the Council should obtain such further oral information as had not been incorporated by the Committee in the Report. And it was the decided opinion of the Council, that the recommendations of the Committee, so for as they advised still more energetic measures, should be forthwith carried into effect, but that no prospect of conciliation, however desirable conciliation was, should induce the least abatement of the most active operations.
In the margin of the Report I have made such observations as present themselves to my mind on the several recommendations of the Committee, and I would earnestly beg to draw your particular attention to the whole of that document, which tends to throw a very great light on the most interesting, and, I may add, the most embarrassing circumstances of this Government. His Majesty's subjects must be protected, and the outrages of the black natives must be repressed; and yet, if it can be avoided, these wretched people must not be destroyed.
On the destruction by fire of the premises and cornstacks of Mr. Howells and Captain Clark, and subsequently of Mr. Sherwin, the Council advised that a reward of £5 should be offered for the capture of every adult native, and £2 for every child. This inducement to activity in capturing the natives alive, it seems most desirable to encourage; and I am glad to find it falls in with the view of the Committee. The Government order which directs this reward, will be found in Enclosure No. 1. p. 35, and it will, I trust, meet your approbation.
I hope you will permit me to request,
First, That the strong detachment of the 63d Regiment, which is detained at Swan River, may be relieved either from the Mauritius or the Cape, and ordered to join their corps, which will be a valuable acquisition to the force in this colony.
And secondly, I would anxiously hope that, immediately OD receipt of this despatch, you will be pleased to recommend that all the transports about to sail with convicts from England (the Irish convict not having been hitherto sent to Van Diemen's Land) may be ordered to proceed to this colony; at once 2000 might be assigned away, if they were at all a useful class of men, and by distributing them principally among the settlers in the most remote parts of the colony, very great protection would be afforded at a very trifling expense to the Government. Should this suggestion meet your acquiescence, I would beg to recommend, that in taking up the transports, it may be provided in the charterparty, that the Lieutenant-Governor should have the power to order any transport to proceed from Hobart Town to the port of Launceston, by which means a proportion of the convicts may be landed at once at the north side of the island, if it be found desirable.
By the Report of the Committee you will perceive that the enmity of the native inhabitants is coeval with our settlement in the colony, and has been progressively increasing; and that they have hitherto rejected all our efforts to conciliate them. Their numbers, I am persuaded, are inconsiderable; although from their migratory habits, it is difficult to calculate them with any certainty. They are naturally a slight and very feeble race, but certainly their exploits in the pursuit of plunder have rendered them much more daring and robust during the last two years; and it is rather the apprehension that they may become still more formidable that makes me uneasy, than any dread of their present prowess.
At the moment of concluding this despatch, I have received an encouraging report from two of the parties who are employed on an embassy of conciliation. Mr. Robinson, who proceeded to the south-west with a party, to which were attached some native black men who had been captured, reports that he has fallen in with a tribe which had received him with so much kindness that he felt a strong hope of eventually conciliating them; and Mr. Batman, who has been employed on the north-east coast, represents that he has, through the intervention of some black women, a very reasonable prospect of conciliating a tribe in that quarter. These miserable beings, I make no doubt, are wearied with the harassing life they have endured for a considerable time past, and would gladly be reconciled, if they knew our real intentions towards them were those of kindness; but unfortunately, the most conciliatory measures of the Government have been already frequently rendered nugatory by the barbarity of runaway convicts, or of detached stock-keepers.
Extract from the Report of the Aborigines Committee, 19th March, 1830.
Committee Room, Government House,
Hobart Town, 10th March, 1830.
The Committee appointed to enquire into the origin of the hostility displayed by the black natives of this island against the settlers, and to consider the measures expedient to be adopted with a view of checking the devastation of property, and the destruction of human lives, occasioned by the state of warfare which has so extensively prevailed, have the honour to report, for his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor's information, the result of their investigation.
With a view to prepare themselves for recommending any specific measures, no less than to enable his Excellency to judge of their propriety and probable effect, they have Bought for information respecting the disposition displayed by the natives from the very first establishment of the colony, and have endeavoured to obtain a connected view of the origin, progress, and existing character of their hostility. Upon all these points the Committee have collected a considerable mass of evidence, oral and written, which they annex to this report, and to which they beg to refer, in confirmation of the statements and reasonings herewith presented.
From the testimony of persons who, from long residence in the colony, are best qualified to afford information, the Committee have collected, that many causes of offence, some wanton and others unintentional, were given to the natives by the first settlers, and have been from time to time renewed in opposition to the expressed disposition and desire of the Government to protect the former from violence and injustice. There is too much reason to apprehend that, as the white population spread itself more widely over the island, and the settlers came mote frequently in contact with the natives, many outrages were committed which no interposition of the Government, however well-disposed, could, with the means at its command, have been able to prevent. It would indeed appear, that there prevailed at this period too general a forgetfulness of those rights of ordinary compassion to which, as human beings and as the original occupants of the soil, these defenceless and ignorant people were justly entitled. They were sacrificed, in many instances, to momentary caprice or anger, as if the life of a savage had been unworthy of the slightest consideration; and they sustained the most unjustifiable treatment in defending themselves against outrages which it was not to be expected that any race of men should submit to without resistance, or endure without imbibing ft spirit of hatred and revenge. The Committee allude to those attacks which, it has come to their knowledge, were then frequently made by lawless and desperate characters, for the purpose of carrying off the native women and children; attempts which, if resisted, the aggressors did not scruple to accomplish with circumstances of dreadful and unnecessary barbarity. In exemplification of this assertion, the Committee cannot but mention one fact, which, from its atrocity, would have appeared to them perfectly incredible, had it not been confirmed by testimony which they cannot doubt. A person named Carrots, since dead, is known to have boasted, that having killed a native, in his attempt to carry off his wife, he cut off the dead man's head, and obliged the woman to go with him, carrying it suspended round her neck. The accuracy of these representations would seem to be most fully confirmed by the language of Proclamations issued by Lieutenant-Governors Davey and Sorell, on the 25th June, 1813, and 13th March, 1819, respectively, from which the following extracts are given. Lieutenant-Colonel Davey states that, "It having been intimated to the Lieutenant-Governor, that a very marked and decided hostility has lately been evinced by the natives in the neighbourhood of the Coal River, in an attack they made upon the herds grazing in that district, he has felt it his duty to enquire into the probable causes which may have induced them to adopt their offensive line of conduct; and it is not without the most extreme concern he has learnt that the resentment of these poor uncultivated beings has been justly excited by a most barbarous and inhuman mode of proceeding acted upon towards them, viz. the robbery of their children. Had not the Lieutenant-Governor the most positive and distinct proofs of such barbarous crimes having been committed, he could not have believed that a British subject would so ignominiously have stained the honour of his country and of himself; but the facts are too clear, and it therefore becomes the indispensable and bounden duty of the Lieutenant-Governor thus publicly to express his utter indignation and abhorrence thereof."
In the Proclamation of Colonel Sorell, the following passages occur:—"The Lieutenant-Governor is aware that many of the settlers and stock-keepers consider the natives as a hostile people, seeking, without provocation, opportunity to destroy them and their stock; and towards whom any attempts at forbearance or conciliation, would be useless. It is however most certain, that if the natives were intent upon destruction of this kind, and if they were incessantly to watch for opportunities for effecting it, the mischief done by them to the owners of cattle and sheep, which are now dispersed for gracing over so great a part of the interior would be increased a hundred fold. But so far from any systematic plan for the destruction of the stock or people being pursued by the native tribes, their meetings with the herdsmen appear to be generally incidental; and it is the opinion of the best informed persons who have been longest in the settlement, that the former are seldom the assailants; and that when they are, they act under the impression of recent injuries done to some of them by white people. It is undeniable that, in many former instances, cruelties have been perpetrated, repugnant to humanity and disgraceful to the British character, whilst few attempts can be traced on the part of the colonists to conciliate the natives, or to make them sensible that peace and forbearance are the objects desired. The impressions remaining from earlier injuries are kept up by the occasional outrages of miscreants whose scene of crime is so remote as to render detection difficult, and who sometimes wantonly fire at and kill the men, and at others pursue the women, for the purpose of compelling them to abandon their children. This last outrage is perhaps the most certain of all to excite in the sufferers a strong thirst for revenge against all white men, and to incite the natives to take vengeance indiscriminately, according to the general practice of an uncivilized people, whenever, in their migrations, they fall in with herds and stockmen."
The Committee, while they lament to revive these imputations, apparently too well founded, against the earlier colonists, are, however, not prepared to say, that the description given by Lieutenant-Governor Sorell of the passive and inoffensive character of the aborigines, unless when previously attacked, is entirely supported by the evidence before them. It would appear, that on the first landing of the settlers in the Derwent, under Lieutenant Bowen, they were permitted for a time to proceed in their operations, without any, or at the utmost with a very slight, manifestation of dissatisfaction on the part of the natives. The first act of decided hostility was committed at Risdon, on the eastern shore of the Derwent, at which place the settlement was under the command of Lieutenant Moore, of the 102d regiment. This occurrence took place the 3d of May 1804; and the Committee have some difficulty in deciding-whether it is to be considered as originating in an aggression by the natives calling forth measures of self-defence, or in an attack upon them commenced by the settlers and military, under an impression that an attempt was about to be made upon the position, by the unusually augmented number of natives who had made their appearance in the neighbourhood. It appears unquestionable that a person named Burke, whose habitation was considerably advanced beyond the rest, was driven from it by the natives, whose number was estimated at upwards of 500, and much violence was threatened by them towards this man and his wife and dwelling. But it is the opinion of some persons who were then in the colony, that the displeasure of these people was excited only by finding this hut erected upon ground to which, as being favourably situated for water and hunting, they were in the habit of resorting, and on which they were preparing at this time to hold a general assembly; and that they had no more hostile intention than to remove this obstacle to their proceedings; while it is deposed to by one who was an eye witness, that they did not proceed even to this extent of aggression. Their having been accompanied by their women and children, whom, when engaged in expeditions of danger, they are known to be in the habit of leaving in a place of security, is a circumstance strongly in favour of the opinion that they had in view no other than a peaceful purpose, and that they were not the first assailants. But whatever may have been the actual course of previous events, it is indisputable that a most lamentable encounter did at this time ensue, in which the numbers slain of men, women, and children, have been estimated as high as fifty; although the Committee from the experience they have had in the course of this inquiry of the facility with which numbers are magnified, as well as from other statements contradictory of the above, are induced to hope that the estimate is greatly overrated.
Whether or no the resentment occasioned by this encounter has been ever since maintained, and has continued to influence the natives in their feelings towards the white population, it is impossible with perfect certainty to determine. It is, however, manifestly shewn that an intercourse with them on the part of insulated or unprotected individuals or families has never been perfectly secure. Although they might receive with apparent favour and confidence such persons as landed from time to time on various parts of the coast, or fell in with them in other remote situations, yet no sooner was the store of presents exhausted, or the interview from other causes concluded, than there was a risk of the natives making an attack upon those very persons from whom they had the very instant before been receiving acts of kindness, and against whom they had up to that moment suffered no indication of hostility to betray itself. There have been, until the occurrence of the late outrages, and their consequent total estrangement, repeated instances of the natives exhibiting such confidence as, without any hesitation, to approach the dwellings of the settlers, and to partake of such refreshments as were then very generally offered to them, and this friendly intercourse having sometimes continued for several days, was usually terminated by their departing to their own districts in a regular and peaceable manner, so long as they were held in restraint by the presence of a sufficient number of observers: but it is within the knowledge of many members of the Committee, and has been confirmed by other statements, that even at this period there was, beyond all doubt, in the disposition of the aborigines, a lurking spirit of cruelty and mischievous craft, as, upon very many occasions, and even on their retirement from houses where, as above stated, they had been kindly received and entertained, they have been known to put to death, with the utmost wantonness and inhumanity, stock and hut keepers, whom they fell in with in retired stations, at a distance from protection, and who, there is every reason to believe, had never given them the slightest provocation. The opinion of the Committee is most decided, that these acts of violence on the part of the natives, are generally to be regarded, not as retaliating for any wrongs which they conceived themselves collectively or individually to have endured, but as proceeding from a wanton and a savage spirit, inherent In them, and impelling them to mischief and cruelty, when it appeared probable that they might be perpetrated with impunity: at the same time they have no hesitation in tracing to the manifold insults and injuries which these unhappy people have sustained from the dissolute and abandoned characters whom they have unfortunately encountered, the universal and permanent excitement of that spirit which now prevails, and which leads them to wreak indiscriminate vengeance, as often as they find opportunity, on the persons and property of the white population.
On turning their attention from the proceedings of individuals to those of the government, the Committee derive the utmost satisfaction from discovering that, on the part of the latter, an uniform anxiety has prevailed to protect the natives and to secure for them the treatment which justice and humanity require. In evidence of this feeling, they have already referred to the proclamations of Lieutenant-Governors Davey and Sorell in 1813 and 1819, and they have before them other documents, of still earlier date, having the same object in view. So early as the 29th of January, 1810, a general order was issued by Lieutenant-Colonel Collins, declaring, that any person who should offer violence to a native, or should in cool blood murder or cause any of them to be murdered, should, on proof being made of the same, be dealt with and proceeded against as if such violence had been offered to or murder committed on a civilised person. With the proclamation of Colonel Davey already noticed, publicity was given to an extract of a letter from Lord Hobart to Lieutenant-Governor Collins, in the following terms: "You are to endeavour, by every means in your power to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their good-will, enjoining all persons under your government to live in amity and kindness with them; and if any person shall exercise any acts of violence against them, or shall wantonly give them any interruption in the exercise of their several occupations, you are to cause such offender to be brought to punishment, according to the degree of the offence." In evidence of the continuance of this feeling, the Committee may also refer to a proclamation of Lieutenant-Governor Sorell, dated 19th May, 1817; herein it is stated that, "Whereas several settlers and others are in the habit of maliciously and wantonly firing at and destroying the defenceless natives, or aborigines, of this island, and whereas it has been commanded by his Excellency the Governor-in-Chief, that the natives should be considered as under the British Government and protection, these instructions render it no less the duty than it is the disposition of the Lieutenant-Governor to forbid and prevent, and when perpetrated to punish, any ill-treatment of the native people of this island, and to support and encourage all measures which may tend to conciliate and civilize them."
There is some ground for believing that these humane precautions were not wholly inefficacious in procuring at least a partial return of confidence on the part of the natives, as in the Hobart Town Gazette of the 18th April, in the following year, the Committee find it stated, that notwithstanding the hostility which has so long prevailed in the breasts of the natives of the island towards Europeans, we now perceive, with heartfelt satisfaction, that hatred in some measure gradually subsiding. Several of them are to be seen about this town and its neighbourhood, who obtain subsistence from the charitable and well-disposed. In other directions there is however too much reason to fear that the former system of injury and destruction was still pursued, as the Committee find that His Excellency, the present Lieutenant-Governor, considered it necessary to re-publish, on the 23rd June, 1824, the proclamation of his predecessor, bearing date May 1817, to which attention has been above directed. Proceeding in the course of events, the Committee find recorded a government and general order, dated the 4th November, 1824, importing, that a body of natives having come into Hobart Town, the Lieutenant-Governor requests that the utmost kindness may be manifested towards them, until some arrangement can be made by the Government for providing for their accommodation and removing them to some proper establishment.
This tribe was subsequently removed to Kangaroo Point, where they experienced a continuance of the humane attention recommended in the government order, and, being under no restraint, they were in the habit of departing and returning as often as their own convenience dictated, or they were desirous of obtaining fresh supplies of food and clothing, with which they were liberally furnished. This satisfactory intercourse appears to have subsisted during a period of two years, but not to have had the effect of inducing the black inhabitants, in any considerable numbers beyond those who originally came in, to associate and domesticate themselves among the settlers. It is even to be feared, from the nature of the events which led to the termination of the intercourse here described, that such a display of kindness had failed to inspire them with any sentiment of attachment or of forbearance from their inveterate habits of treachery and mischief.
A barbarous murder was committed near Oyster Bay, of which two of the tribe frequenting Kangaroo Point were ascertained to be the perpetrators. On their next return to that spot, they were arrested on this charge, and after conviction on the clearest evidence before the Supreme Court, were executed on the 16th September, 1826. After this occurrence, the natives came no more to the usual-place of resort. They have resisted every subsequent attempt on the part of government or of individuals to enter into intercourse or explanation with them; and from that period, the frequency of their attacks on white persons and their property has been gradually increasing. It is, however, necessary to remark, that whatever influence resentment, arising from the execution of the above offenders, may have had in exciting them to such acts of violence, there were other causes in operation, contributing to produce this result, especially the outrages of the bush-rangers, who were then at large in the country.
The Committee beg leave, in proof of the truth of this remark, to refer to a single instance, that of the notorious Dunne, who, after a long course of atrocity, was captured. about the middle of October, 1826, and suffered the penalty of his crimes. A few days previous to his seizure, this man made his appearance at the hut of Mr. Thomson, on the further bank of the Shannon, bringing with him a black native woman, whom he acknowledged he had stolen from her tribe, and whom in that hut he treated with violence, from which she endeavoured ineffectually to escape. After this, Dunne swam across the river Ouse, and landing on the opposite bank, found himself in the midst of that tribe of natives, from whom the woman had been carried off. During several hours he withstood their attacks, and finally succeeded in escaping. But their revenge was not to be thus disappointed; on the day following that on which this atrocious act had been committed by Dunne, and within a few miles of the spot, two men driving a cart were attacked in a secluded wood near the Clyde, by a party of natives, headed by a half-civilized black who hod been some time at the settlement at Macquarrie Harbour. One of the men, William Tidwell, was pierced by a spear through his thigh, and perished. The same party afterwards attacked the but of Mr. Nicholas, and subsequently that of Mr. Thomson before mentioned, where James Scott was killed. The Committee particularly allude to this catastrophe, in consequence of the evidence received before the coroner, Thomas Anstey, Esq., on view of the body of Scott, plainly developing the connexion between this act of violence on the part of the natives and the previous outrage of Dunne. Mr. Thomson's servant deposed—Some few weeks ago, Dunne, the bush-ranger, brought a native woman to our hut; he brought her by force. The same woman was with the tribe of natives when they attacked and plundered our hut, and she was with the party who threatened us with death on the following day, about which time Scott was killed. (See Hobart Town Gazettes, October 14th, 21st, and November 18th, 1826.)
Having brought down to this period the detail of occurrences, and stated such as in their opinion are calculated to account for the enmity displayed by the black against the white population, the Committee deem it expedient to exhibit a brief compendium of the measures which have been adopted by the government, subsequently to the date last mentioned. Their purpose is thereby to furnish means of judging in what degree those measures have accomplished the intended purpose; and of further considering what proceedings may be now expedient and necessary for the tranquillization of the colony.
On the 29th November, 1826, a government notice was issued, wherein, after reference to the series of outrages perpetrated by the aborigines, and a statement of his Excellency's uniform anxiety to inculcate a spirit of forbearance towards them, it was promulgated,
1st. That in the event of a felony being committed, or of an apparent determination existing on the part of the native tribes to attack, rob, or murder the white inhabitants, any persons might arm, and joining the military, contribute to drive them by force to a safe distance.
2d. That they might be apprehended, and if resistance were offered, force might be resorted to for that purpose, by my persons acting under the direction of a magistrate or peace-officer, in cases of their assembling in such manner as to excite fear, or betraying an intention to do any harm, short of felony, to the person or property of any one.
3d. That if any natives should have actually committed felonies, the magistrates should use all exertions to discover and apprehend, on their warrant, the principals concerned therein, and that the officer executing the same might employ force, if the offenders could not otherwise be taken, or if acts of violence or intimidations were resorted to by them or on their behalf.
4th. That any person having actually witnessed the commission of a felony, might raise the neighbourhood and pursue and seize the offenders by all such means as a constable might use.
On the 29th November, 1827, a second government notice appeared, which refers to the renewal of aggressions by the aborigines against the stock-keepers and other white inhabitants, and directs the magistrates to act with vigour upon the principles laid down in the order of the preceding year, of which the substance has been just detailed. At the same time, the Lieutenant-Governor stated, that sufficient troops to give confidence to the inhabitants would be at the disposal of the civil power in every district; but expressed his wish to have it understood that his own confidence chiefly reposed in the adoption of vigorous measures by the magistrates and constables, who were expected to unite every degree of prudence and humanity with the energy and decision so necessary on this distressing occasion. On the 15th April, 1828, a proclamation was issued for the protection of the aboriginal natives against the attacks of aggression, violence, and cruelty committed on them by the stock-keepers and others his Majesty's subjects, and for the purpose of causing the natives to retire from the settled districts of the island, in consideration of their continuing to perpetrate frequent unprovoked outrages on the persons and property of the settlers, and to commit repeated nan ton and barbarous murders and other crimes. Herein it is further represented, that the aborigines have, during a considerable period of time, evinced and are daily evincing a growing spirit of hatred, outrage, and enmity against the subjects of his Majesty, and are putting in practice modes of hostility indicating gradual though slow advances in art, system, and method, and utterly inconsistent with the peaceable pursuits of civilized society, the most necessary arts of human subsistence and the secure enjoyment of human life.
In order, therefore, to prevent as far as possible collisions which were attended with consequences so fatal, the proclamation now in question established a line of military posts along the confines of the settled districts, within which the natives were forbidden to penetrate. All practicable methods were directed to be employed to make known to them the provisions of the proclamation, in furtherance of which object a letter from the major of brigade, dated 21st April, 1828, informed the officers commanding detachments, that the colonel commanding would authorize them to offer any reasonable reward to persons who should succeed in becoming the channel of such communications.
All these measures of forbearance having, however, failed to produce the desired effect, and acts of murder and devastation being continually on the increase, a proclamation declaring martial law against the natives was issued on the 1st November, 1828, excepting from its operation only certain specified districts. The actual use of arms was at the same time strictly prohibited in all cases wherein the natives could be induced by other means to retire beyond the prescribed limits, and the proclamation was conveyed to the police magistrates, accompanied by a letter from his Excellency the Lieutenant Governor, wherein it was stated, that, "the government puts forth its strength on this occasion, by no means whatever with a view of seeking the destruction of the aborigines; on the contrary, it is hoped, by energetic and decisive measures and by punishing the leaders in the atrocities which have been perpetrated, that an end may be put to the lawless and cruel warfare which is now carrying on, and which must terminate in the total annihilation of the natives."
The observance of these principles of action has been repeatedly inculcated since that period and up to the present moment, by circular letters addressed to the police magistrates and by garrison orders; but in consequence of the covert and crafty mode adopted by the natives in making their approaches and attacks, and their almost inconceivable adroitness in effecting their escape, no progress whatever has been made in repressing their outrages or apprehending their persons.
The suggestion formerly thrown out in the proclamation of Lieutenant-Governor Sorell, as to the more extended mischief which the natives would be capable of inflicting were they incessantly to act upon a systematic plan of attacking the settlers and their possessions, has been but too completely verified by the events of the last two years, and still more fatally by those of the few months which have just elapsed. It is manifest that they have lost the sense of the superiority of white men and the dread of the effects of fire arms which they formerly entertained, and have of late conducted their plans of aggression with such resolution as they were not heretofore thought to possess, and with a caution and artifice which renders it almost impossible to foresee or defeat their purposes.
They continue to occupy and ravage beyond the reach of control and in defiance of the orders and efforts of government, those settled districts which they were prohibited from entering. Since the commencement of the present year an unparalleled series of devastation has marked their passage through the country, as atrocities perpetrated by them will abundantly testify.
After a careful comparison of the several statements they have received, the Committee have no hesitation in expressing their persuasion that a sentiment of alarm pervades the minds of the settlers throughout the island, and that the total ruin of every establishment is but too certainly to be apprehended unless immediate means can be devised for suppressing the system of aggression under which so many are at this time suffering, and of which all are in dread that they may themselves become the victims. It cannot be necessary to offer any additional observation to prove that the measures hitherto resorted to, though apparently the most judicious that could be devised, have not been attended with success. The urgency of the case, and the hazard to which the safety of individuals and the public peace continue to be exposed, render it imperative on the Committee to afford the government the aid of their best ability, and at least to attempt the suggestion of some more effectual mode of preservation and resistance. They cannot, however, enter upon this province of their labours without expressing their entire and hearty concurrence in the sentiments of humanity and forbearance towards these wretched people so constantly enforced by his Excellency the present Lieutenant-Governor and his predecessors, in all the public documents which have been issued in connexion with this subject. The feelings of his Majesty's Government and of the British nation, they cannot doubt are altogether in accordance with these views. For themselves, as men, as Englishmen, and as Christians, the Committee are sensibly persuaded, that every degree of moderation and forbearance is due to an ignorant, debased, and unreflecting race, who, it is impossible to doubt, were first excited to general aggression, and systematic barbarity by the wrongs which they themselves experienced on the part of miscreants who were a disgrace to our name and nation and even to human nature. It is as they conceive a plain and most imperative duty, a duty which they would on no account take upon themselves the responsibility of violating or of recommending others to violate, that no act of increased severity should be resorted to against the natives, without first having recourse to every conceivable and practicable method of making known to them that intention, and of forewarning them of the dangers and punishment to which they will expose themselves by persevering in their present hostility. On the other band, the Committee are bound to consider that the natives are now visinng the injuries they have received, not on the actual offenders, but on a different and totally innocent class; anjd they acknowledge the force of the obligation to attend to the interests of that very numerous portion of their fellow-subjects. In the proclamation of the 15th of April, 1828, it was stated, with equal force and justice, that the security and safety of all who have entrusted themselves to this country on the faith of British protection are
|The most obvious suggestion certainly is, that
the first arrangements for precaution and defence should proceed
from the settlers themselves; and the first step to be taken with
this view is, that every head of a family, with every male of
competent age, at least those who are free, should be well
provided with arms, and act on all occasions with a watchful
regard to the security of their dwellings and possessions. It has
been clearly shewn, by repeated instances, that the natives have
by artifice decoyed persons to quit their houses for the purposes
of pursuit, who, on their return, have found their homes utterly
destroyed by fire and every thing of value carried off.
It is impossible for the Committee to suggest, or for the government to prescribe, all the measures of self-defence, which in the event of an attack it may be necessary to adopt, but it is their unanimous persuasion that all settlers should, with their families and dependents, make the defence of their own habitation the chief object of their concern; and should by no inducement be persuaded ever to leave it without a competent guard.
of the committee.
These suggestions the settlers have been most strongly exhorted to attend to; they might certainly have been more watchful, and have been ere this better armed; at the same time it is to be borne in mind, that the means of many of them are very limited, and that the labour of every servant they have is urgently required upon their farms; and that they are ill able to support them simply as a domestic police. It appears from a variety of evidence, that servants working in the barn only a few yards distant from the dwelling-house, have been insufficient to secure it from depredation.
On the other hand, the Committee are persuaded by instances which have occurred even within the last few days, that these attacks are easily repelled where, parties are on their guard and shew a determination to resist force by force; and they are persuaded that nothing would so effectually deter the natives from hostile attempts on dwelling-houses, as the certainty that they would encounter resistance and a few instances of their incurring a severe chastisement in retaliation for their predatory attacks.
|In the next place the Committee consider it their duty to recommend to every settler, to point out to his stock-keepers and assigned servants the fatal consequences which have resulted to the entire community from the base and barbarous conduct which some of their class have pursued towards the natives; how little surprising it is that the latter should proceed to measures of retaliation; and how much it behoves them to desist from a repetition of such disgraceful conduct, from a regard even to their own safety, seeing that not one of those barbarians by whom the natives were thus irritated has ultimately escaped the effects of their vengeance.||
The government orders and notices have been most pressing upon this point; and the fact is that now, although the convict stock-keepers may be equally disposed to act with barbarity, yet their fears now prevail upon them to fly everywhere as soon as the natives are seen.
|With these efforts it would be proper that the government should cooperate, by renewing, and with augmented strictness, the prohibition to destroy kangaroos by hunting, shooting, or other means, within the limits prescribed to the natives, So great is the injustice of this proceeding on the part of the whites, and so apparent the injury suffered by the natives, through the destruction of this their principal source of sustenance, that the Committee would deem it expedient, if other modes of prevention fail, to make this a legal offence, to be visited with very severe penalties. The unassisted efforts of the settlers must, however, it is evident, be insufficient even to defend their own dwellings. Other and more active measures, such as the government alone can institute and support, must be called for. It is therefore recommended that the chief direction of all operations in every district shall be entrusted to the police magistrate.||
Since this Report was presented, the Lieutenant- governor has personally made the most particular inquiry upon this point, and has ascertained that the prohibition against all convict servants keeping dogs has been most effectual in its operation; and the kangaroo actually abounds in the districts most frequented by the natives.
The act of council also, which has recently been passed to prevent the increase of dogs in the colony, must have a very salutary effect.
This has always been the case, with the exception of the roving parties, which, to insure some uniformity in their proceedings, were placed under the particular direction of the police magistrate in the central district, Mr. Anstey, from whom they received their instructions to proceed according to the information obtained. If this force be augmented so as to afford parties for each district, of course they will be better placed under the orders of the police magistrates severally.
|That to every station a number of mounted police should be attached, whose employment would be to convey intimation of the movements of the natives to those parts of the district which should appear to be most threatened, and afford the settlers time to prepare for the defence of their houses. That the field police should be increased to the utmost practicable limit, and that sufficient inducements should be held out to prevail on persons of much superior qualifications to those who have hitherto acted in that capacity, to serve as leaders; and that the whole be regularly clothed and equipped, and placed under a system of discipline appropriate to the service in which they are to be employed.||
The mounted police is a very expensive force, and certainly should not be augmented without great caution. A small augmentation to convey intelligence quickly. I should deem sufficient.
The field police composed of prisoners of the Crown whose conduct merits consideration and indulgence, and every measure has been adopted to render it complete and effective; at the same time, by the admission into this band of any men of bad character, the Government would only be getting rid of one present trouble by letting in another. With every care in making the selection, it is however most desirable to augment the field police during the present exigency.
|Lastly, that the military should be engaged in
aid of the civil power, so far as the very inadequate force now
in the colony will permit.
The Committee are aware that the efforts of Government have never been wanting in supplying the greatest possible amount of disposable force to the disturbed districts.
It is, however, worthy of consideration, whether, by some additional encouragement, the efficiency of that force may not be increased. The Committee would suggest, that an augmentation of allowances should be granted to the soldiery while engaged in this service; and that, to secure their efficiency and discipline, they should be under the command of their own officers, who should also receive a proportionate increase of pay, at the expense of the colony.
With respect to the military, they are of course already under the orders of their own officers, and it may, perhaps, be desirable to make some small allowance of tea and sugar to the soldiers in lieu of their ration of rum, of which they are necessarily deprived whilst actually serving in the bush. No marching money being allowed in the colony, a double ration of bread and meat was formerly given to the soldiers when employed after the bush-rangers, which satisfied the poor settlers who supplied them, and who always complained that the regulated ration of bread and meat never compensated for the breakfast and dinner consumed by the soldiers.
A small colonial allowance of 5s. per diem to the officers employed on this arduous and fatiguing duty would be perhaps reasonable, as they receive no colonial allowance whatever.
|With respect to the mode in which the descriptions of force here spoken of may be most advantageously employed, the Committee do not consider themselves qualified to offer an opinion, excepting so far as to point out some of the defects in the system of the roving parties which have hitherto been employed. To the propriety of engaging leaders of higher qualifications, attention has been already directed. It is besides the persuasion of the Committee, that notwithstanding the exertions of that highly respected individual who has had the superintendence of these parties, an error has been committed by them in extending their march over too wide an extent of country, whereby the natives have been either chased before them, and an useless state of alarm has been kept up, or they have passed the natives unperceived, and have left them unmolested to ravage the country in their rear. It has also been proved that great want of caution has been shewn in their mode of march, in carelessly running backward and forward, talking, shouting, smoking, and suffering other indications of their approach to alarm the keen senses of the natives, and to warn them to fly. The Committee are fully persuaded that such parties, conducted upon these principles, are worse than useless; and they therefore recommend that instead of traversing the country, as heretofore, without system or mutual co-operation, each band should have a particular portion of the district assigned to it, which it should continually traverse, in the manner of a patrol, and endeavour to obtain the roost intimate acquaintance with the tracks which the natives pursue in their migrations, and the haunts (for such there are known to be) which they by preference frequent. The men under whose command they are, must also be such as possess sufficient prudence and authority to repress all those imprudent modes of proceeding above detailed, which necessarily gave alarm to the natives, and preclude the possibility of coming upon them by surprise. The only additional suggestion which the Committee beg leave to offer is, that magazines of provision might be established in central situations, from which the police and military parties might receive their supplies, without the necessity of quitting their stations, or interrupting their pursuit.||
With respect to the roving parties, the observations made by the Committee are, I believe, upon the whole, accurate. A better class of leaders is certainly much required; but the difficulty of getting persons of any respectability who will, day after day, and night after night, expose themselves in traversing the woods, is extreme. However, experience renders it evident that something of this kind must be attempted.
The Committee is right in the observation that these parties have hitherto been too much on the move; but in justification of the police magistrate, who has had the chief direction of them, it is but due to observe, that when the parties have been kept in motion, they have been censured for their indiscretion; and when they have halted, they have been accused of inactivity.
The fact is, measures which do not succeed are always condemned.
This measure has already been carried into effect.
In recommending these measures, the Committee are animated by a desire not to occasion, but to prevent, the effusion of blood; they are desirous that the use of arms should be resorted to only for the purpose of repelling an attack, or danger to life and property, and that the main effort should be directed to capture the natives alive and unhurt.
For the encouragement of this measure, they acknowledge the propriety and recommend a continuance of the system adopted by government, of offering a reward to any free person, military or civil, by whom any such capture shall be effected; and they presume that a ticket of leave, or other appropriate indulgence, would not be withheld from a prisoner who should succeed in the same object. They are persuaded that if the patrolling parties are sufficiently numerous and persevering, the natives must either be deterred from venturing into districts so occupied, or by due vigilance in watching their movements, and caution in approaching them, must be fallen in with and captured.
In effecting this, the design of the Committee is to attain the means of opening, if possible, a communication with the hostile tribes, and of convincing them generally, that the white population have no other desire than the maintenance of peace. In pursuance of this object, they have forwarded to his Excellency their recommendation that the native women lately captured, and who have been treated with kindness and indulgence, of which they appeared very sensible, should be sent back to their tribe. To this destination they have been forwarded with a suitable safeguard; and the opinion of the Committee is, that as opportunities present themselves, the same course should be pursued with respect to any natives, male or female, who may in future be taken prisoners, until it shall evidently appear that this mode of acting has its effect in subduing their feeling of hostility, or that they are utterly beyond the reach of conciliation.
It is much to be desired, that, while under a state of restraint, the natives should be accessible only to persons who have the sanction of the government, as experience shews that, from indiscriminate intercourse, they are liable to imbibe impressions from ill disposed and improper characters, which render them, on their return to their countrymen, more formidable enemies than those who have never had any intercourse with Europeans.
The Committee can scarcely imagine that these recommendations will be considered as severe, or otherwise than they in their consciences believe them to be measures of humane and necessary precaution.
To guard against misconception, they, however, deem it necessary to observe. That there are circumstances existing, which would render it criminal to withhold protection from the settlers, and which in some degree deprive the natives of their claim to an entire forbearance from coercion. These are, first, that the latter have resorted so systematically to the use of fire for the destruction of property as to render their approach to a dwelling house, without any other indication of hostility, extremely hazardous; and secondly, that they are now not acting the part of injured men, seeking to avenge the wrong they have sustained, but rather that of marauders, stimulated by eagerness for plunder and the desire of artificial luxuries, the use of which has now become familiar to them. If, on the other hand, there should be any who conceive that the aggressions lately sustained by the settlers would justify a more severe exertion of force against the natives than is here proposed, the Committee would entreat them again to consider the circumstances in which the present unhappy posture of affairs originated. They are persuaded that under all provocation, and in opposition to any appearance of immediate advantage, the wisest policy will always be found to be that which has justice for its basis. They are sensible that the natives had originally many causes for complaint and many sources of provocation, from the treatment they experienced, and excepting so far as may be necessary for the actual defence of life and property, they desire for themselves and for their country to be pure from the blood of all men. The debt which they have incurred in taking possession of this country they would willingly acquit themselves by every justifiable degree of forbearance and moderation towards the native inhabitants, and by leading them, if opportunity should be afforded, into the paths of civilization.
In conclusion they venture to express a hope, that the experience of present transactions may be even rendered useful in the history of the world; and that in all future attempts at colonisation, it may be steadily home in mind how strict an obligation exists to exercise mercy and justice toward the unprotected savage, and how severe a retribution the neglect of those duties, even by individuals, may ultimately entail upon an entire, an offending community.
On behalf of the Committee,
W. G. BROUGHTON, Archdeacon, Chairman.
To His Excellency,
&c. &c. &c.
Copy of a Despatch from Secretary Sir George Murray to Lieutenant-Governor Arthur.
Downing Street, 5th November, 1830.
I have the honour to acknowledge the receipt of your despatch of the 15th of April last, transmitting copies of the orders which you had issued to the civil and military authorities employed in the protection of the districts most exposed to the hostile attacks of the natives, accompanied by the report of a committee whom you had appointed to enquire as to the origin of those proceedings, and to consider the measures most expedient to be adopted with a view to protect the settlers from a repetition of them in future.
I regret to find that the steps which have been already taken should hive proved ineffectual in establishing a more friendly feeling on the part of the natives towards the settlers. Too much praise, however, cannot be bestowed on the exertions which you have need to conciliate these misguided people; and much credit is also due to the gentlemen composing the committee, whose able report you have transmitted, for the attention which they have given this subject.
It does not appear of much importance at the present moment to inquire further as to the quarter from whence the first aggressions have proceeded, although I fear that it is too evident, from the information obtained upon this point by the Committee, that the provocation has principally originated with the white people. The question which is now most essential to consider, is, as to the remedy to be applied in the present conjuncture; and I will, with this object in view, proceed to make such observations as an examination of the papers before me has suggested.
It is evident from the opinion of the Committee (and I perceive that you have expressed yourself as strongly upon the same point) that no effectual check can be opposed to the hostile attacks of the natives, nor can the country ever be restored to a state of security unless the settlers themselves evince a more determined spirit of resistance to their opponents than they have hitherto manifested. Although there can be no doubt that the indifference of which you complain on the part of the settlers, in a cause in which they are so much interested, might be urged as an excuse for leaving them to their fate when assailed by the natives, yet a due regard to the general interests of the community would render it imprudent to decline affording assistance to those settlers whose property may be most exposed to plunder. At the same time you will take care, whenever called upon to render such assistance, to impress upon the settlers the necessity of relying, more than they have been accustomed to do, upon their own exertions for protection; and you will require in every such case, that the settle should take upon himself a prominent part in the defence of the property threatened with an attack. I am satisfied that in proportion as the settler is reduced to this alternative, will be his anxiety to abstain from all acts likely to irritate the natives, whilst, on the other band, the latter will be less disposed to annoy the settler when they find they can no longer do so with impunity.
The great decrease which has of late years taken place in the amount of the aboriginal population, renders it not unreasonable to apprehend that the whole race of these people may at no distant period become extinct. But with whatever feelings such an event may be looked forward to by those of the settlers who have been sufferers by the collisions which have taken place, it is impossible not to contemplate such a result of our occupation of the island as one very difficult to be reconciled with feelings of humanity, or even with principles of justice and sound policy; and the adoption of any line of conduct, having for its avowed or for its secret object the extinction of the native race, could not foil to leave an indelible stain upon the character of the British government.
The Committee has expressed an opinion, that these acts of violence on the part of the natives are generally to be regarded not retaliatory for any wrongs which they conceived themselves collectively or individually to have endured, but as proceeding from a wanton and savage spirit inherent in them, and impelling them to mischief and cruelty when it appeared probable they might be perpetrated with impunity. In order to the unqualified admission however of this opinion, it would be necessary to have established the fact, that aggressions had not begun with the new settlers.
You have proposed as a means of mitigating the evil complained of, that an increased number of convicts should be sent out to Van Diemen's Land, and that the detachment of the 63d regiment, at present at Swan River, should be withdrawn from thence and be ordered to join the main body of that corps at Van Diemen's Land. On the first of these points your wishes will be complied with if possible; but with regard to the second, I must remind you, that to seek a remedy in the augmentation of the number of His Majesty's troops in the colony of Van Diemen's Land, would be to trust to a resource which must unavoidably be both limited and uncertain.
I approve of your increasing to a reasonable extent the field police, and the awarding a moderate bounty to the military who may be employed upon this particular duty; but I am of opinion that this bounty should be supplied by the settler at whose desire the soldier may be employed; not only with a view of relieving the public of this additional expense, but to prevent unnecessary applications from the settlers for military protection, as no augmentation which could be made to the military force under your command would be adequate to meet every application of this nature from settlers whenever any danger might be apprehended, nor would such a mode of employing the military, if carried to excess, be at all consistent probably with the discipline of the troops.
The mounted police could not be augmented in number, without incurring a charge to which the finances of the colony would not be equal; and it will therefore be desirable that the men now composing this corps should be employed in watching the proceedings of the natives, and in conveying to the settler in whose neighbourhood they may have been seen, the earliest intelligence of their movements, in order that he may secure his habitation, and make such other arrangements as shall appear to him to be necessary to meet the approaching danger.
Upon many of the details which are adverted to by the Committee in their Report, I do not consider that I can enlarge with any advantage. The local authorities can only appreciate the several recommendations with which the Report concludes, and it must accordingly be left to you to decide as to the best mode of stationing the police authorities, and of establishing the magazines of provisions and other necessaries which they may require in the execution of their duties. I cannot, however, refrain from adverting specially to the measure proposed by the Committee, of prohibiting the settlers from destroying the kangaroos by bunting or shooting them within the limits prescribed to the natives, in order that this grievance may be immediately removed, although I am happy to find that no injury has been sustained on this head, in consequence of there appearing to be no real scarcity of these animals in the districts which these people most frequent.
Although it is greatly to be feared that much time and pains will be requisite to alter the footing upon which the British settler and the aborigines of the colony unfortunately stand towards one another, I cannot conclude this despatch without urging upon you, in the strongest manner, to continue to use your utmost endeavours to give to the intercourse between them a less hostile character than it now has; and to employ every means which kindness, humanity, and justice can suggest to reclaim the natives from their original savage life, and render them sensible of the advantages which would ultimately result to themselves and to their descendants, from the introduction amongst them of the religion and the civilization of those whom it must be difficult for them to regard at present in any other light than as formidable intruders. With this object in view, the utmost forbearance will be requisite on the part of the settlers, in every case in which a native may fall in their way; and I hope you will be able, by degrees, to prevail upon the settlers to believe that such a line of conduct, both on their own part and on that of their assigned servants, will not only be the most proper and becoming, but will also prove in the end to be the most conducive to their own interests and their security.
(Signed) G. MURRAY.
Extract of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Secretary Sir George Murray; dated Van Diemen's Land, 20th November, 1830.
By my despatch of the 15th April last you will have been informed, that notwithstanding the united efforts of the Government and the respectable part of the community to conciliate the natives, they continued to shew the most rancorous and determined spirit of hostility to the white people, and the settlers had become importunate in their calls upon the Government for protection; I still, however, persevered in the attempt to open a friendly intercourse with these people, and Mr. Robinson, the person who had been placed in charge of the establishment which I formed for the natives in Bruné Island, having offered to proceed on a mission to the tribes inhabiting the south-west quarter of the island, I readily availed myself of his proposal, and for a short period during the winter months I had great hopes that a friendly understanding might be restored; some of the natives belonging to a tribe which had been known to be hostile, in the north-east quarter of the island, having approached a party of white people in a peaceable manner, and Mr. Robinson having succeeded in communicating amicably with some tribes in the north-west. Being most anxious that the peaceable disposition which had thus been shewn should be encouraged, I caused on this occasion the Government notices to be issued on the 19th and 20th August. But I regret to state, that in the same week the natives attacked and plundered, in a more systematic manner than they had hitherto done, several residences in the heart of the settled districts; and so great was the alarm created by the promulgation, at such a moment, of the Government notices in question, that, with the advice of the council, I felt it necessary to issue a further notice.
I have felt myself imperiously called upon by overruling necessity to act upon the advice of the council, by calling upon the settlers to unite with the Government in a vigorous effort upon an extended scale, to endeavour to surround and capture the natives or expel them from the settled districts. With this view, I caused the Government order to be published of the 9th September; and directed the general movement by the community, of which the Government order of the 22d September contains the outline. And as it was indispensable to the success of the arrangements that the whole island should be declared under martial law, I issued, with the advice of the council, a proclamation for the purpose.
All classes of the community have manifested the greatest alacrity and zeal in seconding the measures of the Government, on this occasion. The settlers have come forward with their personal exertions and the assistance of their servants, whilst the gentlemen of the towns have volunteered to do the duty of the garrison, in a manner which demonstrates how much importance is attached to the measures directed Tor the protection of the lives and properties of the settlers, and how cordially and entirely the whole community unite with the earnest desire of the Government, rather to capture the savages and place them in some situation of security, where they can neither receive nor inflict injury, than destroy their lives.
In the month of July last, three native women, who were captured last year, and subsequently treated with the utmost kindness, were deputed to go out with presents to their tribe, and assure them of the friendly feeling of the Government towards them, and-invite them to be conciliated. The women readily undertook the embassy, appeared very sensible of the humanity they had experienced, and promised to use their influence amongst their tribe, which they felt confident would prove successful. Up to the period of the communication of the present measures, however, they had not returned; but two weeks afterwards they appeared, at the place appointed, the residence of Mr. Bateman, in the police district of Campbell Town, and brought in with them the chief and nine other men of the tribe. According to the arrangement which had been previously determined upon, Mr. Bateman treated these savages with the utmost kindness, distributing to them clothing and food; they were placed under no restraint, but all the indulgence which had been pledged was manifested toward them. Mr. Bateman, who has taken the most lively interest in conciliating these wretched people, and has been one of the few who supposed that they might be influenced by kindness, was, with his family, most assiduous in cultivating the beet understanding; but after remaining with him eight or nine days, they silently withdrew in the dead of the night, robbing Mr. Bateman of every thing they could lay their hands upon, and in their progress plundering every but, and spearing every white man who had the misfortune to encounter them.
In October last, two of the natives belonging to the western tribe delivered themselves up to a shepherd; they were lodged in the Penitentiary at Launceston, as a place of some security, as well as of some protection for them; and according to the directions which have been peremptorily enjoined, they were treated with kindness, and abundance of food and clothing was provided for them, but within a month they effected their escape, and the first notice which was received of the direction they had taken was accompanied by the painful information of their outrages. Eumarrah, the chief of the Stoney Creek tribe, was captured two years ago; for some time after his capture he was narrowly watched, but by his Apparently artless manner, and strong protestations of attachment, lie was gradually confided in more and more, until at length I felt a confidence that he would be greatly instrumental in carrying into effect the measures so ardently desired for conciliation. I have continually had him brought to the Government House, and personally satisfied myself that he fully understood that the wishes of the government were those of kindness and benevolence towards his race. On this occasion, therefore, I brought him with me, and entrusted him to conduct a party of the natives, assuring him that they should be clothed, fed, and protected; but to my disappointment and sincere regret, he availed himself of the first moment to abscond, and has, I fear, rejoined his tribe with the most hostile intentions.
Other instances might be adduced of the treacherous character of these savages; but those I have mentioned will satisfy you, perhaps, that conciliatory measures are not likely to succeed, and cannot in prudence be any longer pursued. It is, however, particularly gratifying to me to reflect that they have been persisted in as long as then was a hope of success, since I collect from the despatches I have had the honour to receive, that such a proceeding is in entire accordance with the views of his Majesty's Government, although certainly a different opinion has been formed by many of the oldest inhabitants of the Colony.
Failing in every endeavour to conciliate, and the outrages of the savages being more daring, and their murders and robberies more systematically conducted, the next measure which we are bound to attempt is, I conceive, that which is now in progress, the earnest and hearty co-operation of the whole European population to capture them, with the least possible destruction of life, or to drive them into Tasman's Peninsula.
You will, Sir, readily admit, that no undertaking can be more arduous, under any circumstances or in any country, than to capture savages; and the difficulty is greatly augmented in this colony, the country being perhaps the most rugged on the face of the earth. Van Diemen's Land is perhaps unequalled by all other islands, for the salubrity of its climate and for the fertility of its valleys, but no country that I am acquainted with, has so large an extent, in proportion to its area, of wild, unproductive, impervious, rugged mountains and dense forests. Upon capturing the native savages I cannot say, therefore,—although it has always been a favourite notion in the colony,—that I have ever been very sanguine; but as a portion of the south-east quarter, containing many thousand acres of most unprofitable soil for Europeans, is well suited for the purpose of savage life, abounding in game, I have entertained strongly the opinion, that it might be practicable to drive the savages into that portion of the territory, and that there they might be retained, as it is connected only by a very narrow neck, which might be guarded. The united efforts of the community have therefore been directed to this end,—either to capture, or drive the native tribes which have been the most sanguinary and the most perfidious and hostile, towards Tasman's Peninsula. The Government orders are declaratory of the objects of Government, and the measures proposed for carrying them into effect; and the rough field-plans and memorandum will still mote distinctly point out to you the several movements which, upon the most anxious and deliberate consideration, appeared to me calculated to impel the savages forward from the settled districts towards the country in which it was desired to secure them.
The operations were first commenced on the 4th of October, at the most remote districts, and after an advance of eighteen days, the position was occupied from Prosser's Bay to Sorell, and five parties were then sent within the circuit formed, to ascertain whether the natives, who had frequently been discovered to be driven before the troops, were then within our chain of posts. The parties thus sent were selected from inhabitants most accustomed to the hush and to the habits of the natives; and they were instructed not to risk the hazard of attempting to capture a few, but rather to gain information. This instruction, unfortunately, was not sufficiently regarded; the savages were discovered by one of the parties, and two of them were captured, and two were shot in the struggle, and the rest disposed, although still within the chain of posts.
Since this occurrence the parties within the circuit have been considerably augmented, but all their endeavours to surround or drive on the natives towards East Bay Neck have been unavailing, and it is only by their traces, and a few being seen occasionally, that we ascertain them to be within the chain of posts. A force composed chiefly of volunteers cannot, of course, be long expected to hold together: the settlers, notwithstanding their exceeding anxiety to capture the blacks, become most impatient of delay, and now no alternative remains but to advance en masse, affording the chance to the savages to escape through the numberless gaps which must inevitably be opened out in advancing over the rugged mountainous country before us, although it is very probable that their fears may prevent them from making the attempt.
I am sorry that the Science sails for England to-morrow, which precludes me from reporting the result, which must be decided in another week. The providence of God will, I trust, crown the measure with success, since it will be a most happy deliverance for all parties that these savages are removed from the possibility of continuing the dreadful murders and outrages which have marked their career for some time past. I cannot, how. ever, say that I am sanguine of success, since their cunning and intelligence are remarkable; but whilst I hope his Majesty's Government will approve of my having omitted no measures which had a tendency to conciliate or to preserve the lives of these savages, I am sure it will always be a matter of consolation to the Government of the colony, and to its respectable inhabitants, that we have made every effort in our power to save the aboriginal race from being exterminated, which must be the result if they can neither be conciliated nor taken; self-preservation will compel the inhabitants to destroy them.
The idea seems too monstrous to be credited, but it is my duty to report, that there are very strong reasons for apprehending that some miserable convicts have incorporated themselves with the savages.
I need not, I am sure, add that this subject wholly engrosses and fills my mind with painful anxiety; but it is my greatest consolation, that the prosperous circumstances of the colony in every other respect, are highly cheering, and that the cordiality and good feeling which universally prevail between the Government and the community, encourage me to hope, that whatever measures may be deemed necessary for our common security, will be heartily concurred in by all classes.
His Majesty's Government maybe assured, that as soon as conciliation be possible, I shall most readily and eagerly embrace it; but I sincerely believe, if we cannot capture, or drive the natives entirely out of the settled districts, that there will be no possibility of conciliating, until some of their most sanguinary chiefs have been shot.
I hope in my former despatches I have succeeded in conveying to His Majesty's Government exactly the progress of this heavy calamity upon the colony: its history is very brief. The aborigine savages of Van Diemen's Land were early distinguished for their extreme timidity and extreme cunning and treachery. Soon after the colony was settled, in the year 1805, a scarcity of provisions was felt, amounting almost to a famine; in this extremity, the convicts were permitted to go into the bush, in order to find food, and as the country abounded with game, they readily discovered it, and were subsequently indisposed to return and submit to the authority of the Government. This state of things continued until the year 1809 or 1810, and laid the foundation for that system of plunder which was denominated bush-ranging. The convicts leading this predatory course of life, continually associated with the aboriginal natives, whom, at is unquestionable, they treated with the most unnatural cruelty, taking away their women and often murdering the men. The sea-faring people employed in the sealing trade also united in the commission of these acts of cruelty; and although the miserable savages were too timid to resent the atrocities committed upon their tribes openly, they nevertheless secretly speared their oppressors whenever favourable opportunities placed them within their power. Unable to distinguish between the class of persons whom I have described and the stock-keepers, they no doubt frequently vented their enmity upon the latter, and hence the enmity between the natives and the Europeans was extended. The savages having become more expert, became also more bold and sanguinary, and undoubtedly they would, without distinction, murder every white inhabitant, if they could do so with safety to themselves. In the year 1824, great encouragement was held out to the natives, to seek the protection of the Government; and three tribes especially, the Big River, the Oyster Bay, and the Abyssinia tribes, were treated with peculiar kindness: huts were erected for them, and food provided, and they were sure of protection from all the respectable part of the community, as well as from the Government I had frequent interviews with them myself, and held out to their chiefs the strongest assurances of protection. Still their enmity was evidently unabated, and I have no doubt they were continually ill-used by the dissolute and abandoned convicts who had absconded either from the Government or from the service of the settlers.
From this or other exciting causes, the character of the savages has evidently become more and more hostile; and although their natural timidity still prevents them from openly attacking only two armed persons, however great their number, yet they will, with a patience quite inexhaustible, watch a cottage or a field for days together, until the unsuspecting inhabitants afford some opening, of which the savages instantly avail themselves, and suddenly spear to death the defenceless victims of their indiscriminate vengeance; and success in various instances seems now to have made them as eager in this mode of warfare, (their object being to plunder as well as to destroy the white inhabitants,) as they were in pursuing the kangaroo. Two Europeans who will face them, will drive fifty savages before them, but still they return and watch, until their unerring spears can bring some victim to the ground. This, which is a faithful statement of our situation, must, I am persuaded, convince you, that the hope of conciliation cannot at this time be reasonably entertained, nor can measures to attain it be any longer prudently acted upon.
Copy of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Secretary Sir George Murray.
|Van Diemen's Land, Government
1st January, 1831.
With reference to my despatch of the 20th November last, I regret to report that the measures which I had the honour to lay before you, terminated without the capture of either of the native tribes; but there is reason to believe, from the comparative forbearance which the savages have since observed, that the late decisive operations of the Government, and of the community generally, have had the effect of deterring them in a great measure from their usual aggressions: and indeed a party of thirteen, from two of the most hostile tribes, including three chiefs, have lately peaceably come in and sought protection, and there are grounds for anticipating that others will follow their example. I cannot hope, however, that they will generally desist from destroying the settlers and their property, unless the most vigorous measures be continued on the part of the Government, in co-operation with the inhabitants. You may however be assured, that although I feel the necessity of carrying on the decisive measures which the safety of the inhabitants demands, I shall not relax in resorting to every practicable means of endeavouring to conciliate these deluded beings, which it is no less my anxious desire than it is the wish of His Majesty's Government to effect.
However tranquil and prosperous we may be in all other respects in this colony, I can well imagine that your anxiety will be great upon this interesting subject, and it will doubtless, therefore, be satisfactory to you to be informed, that it has been a most gratifying proof of the confidence which the inhabitants of the colony place on the measures of the local government, that notwithstanding the partial failure of the late attempt to capture the natives, I have received addresses from the people from all quarters, and which have originated, not with those from whom the government might expect more-especially to receive support, but from the people indiscriminately, expressive of their grateful sense of the protection which the government has evinced its readiness to extend to them, and pledging themselves to give their assistance and co-operation whenever, and in whatsoever manner, they shall be called upon to afford them.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
&c. &c. &c.
(Signed) GEORGE ARTHUR.
Extract of a Despatch from Viscount Goderich to Lieutenant Governor Arthur, dated Downing Street, 17th June 1831.
I have had the honour of receiving your despatch of the 20th of November 1830, containing your answer to that addressed to you by Sir George Murray, and your report of the measures you had been compelled to adopt towards the native tribes, the result of which I have also learnt by your subsequent despatch of the 1st of January last.
The employment of force being indispensable, the plan of driving the natives into the peninsula at the extremity of the island, seems to me to have been well calculated to afford the necessary security to the colonists for their lives and property, with the least possible injury to the unhappy beings whom you were forced to treat as enemies. The unsuccessful issue of the operations undertaken for this purpose is therefore greatly to be regretted, though, considering the difficulties with which you had to contend, a different result was rather to be hoped than expected. I shall await with some anxiety further accounts of what has taken place. Although the surrender of some individuals shews that your operations have not altogether failed in their object, but have inspired the natives with no little dread of your power, yet it will be, I fear, hardly sufficiently strong to conquer the spirit of animosity and the love of plunder which seems to have grown up amongst them. In this unhappy state of things, it is most satisfactory to me to be enabled to rely so implicitly upon your energy under every emergency, as well as on your humanity towards a race entitled by the wrongs which they have suffered to much forbearance, even while it is necessary to repel their attacks. The confidence reposed in you by all classes of the inhabitants, will enable you to turn to the best account the resources of the colony, and is the just reward of the zeal and ability which have distinguished your administration of its affairs.
Copy of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Secretary Sir George Murray.
|Van Diemen's Land, Government
12th February, 1831.
I have the honour to report that since I addressed to you my despatch of the 1st of January last, although the native tribes, against whom the measures of the government had been chiefly directed, have not committed any aggressions, I regret to state that the tribes on the north side of the island have renewed their violence and committed several murders.
Mr. Robinson having returned from his conciliatory mission, the aborigines committee have been attentively engaged in receiving his communications, and have drawn up a report of the future measures which they recommend for the protection of the community and the preservation of the natives. It has not yet been in my power to lay the report before the executive council, but I shall take an opportunity of doing so early next week, and shall have the honour of reporting to you by the next vessel the measures which I shall decide to adopt. In the mean time I transmit a copy of the committee's report for your information.
I have the honour to be. Sir,
Your most obedient and most humble Servant,
(Signed) GEORGE ARTHUR.
Report of the Aborigines Committee.
|Committee Room, Hobart Town,
4th February, 1831.
In consequence of the return of Mr. G. A. Robinson from his conciliatory mission to the aborigines of this island, and his Excellency the Lieutenant-Governor having expressed his desire that the Committee appointed for this especial purpose should re-assemble and resume its sittings; in obedience to this command the Committee did meet from time to time, and have the honour now to submit the following report on those points to which their attention was directed by his Excellency, and also on the subject of your two letters of the 1st and 3d instant, which they have the honour to acknowledge, and upon which they are required to give their opinion for the information of the government.
The first subject of their inquiry was, to ascertain how far Mr. Robinson had succeeded in the main and principal objects of his mission, viz. the opening an amicable intercourse and friendly communication with the whole of the black population of this island. The Committee feel great pleasure in testifying their opinion, that Mr. Robinson has, in a great measure, accomplished this object, and that in so doing he has manifested the most daring intrepidity, persevering zeal, and strenuous exertion. He appears to have acquired a competent knowledge of their language, enabling him to converse with them, and to explain the kind and pacific intentions of the government and the settlers generally towards them.
Mr. Robinson appears also to have gained the confidence of the natives to such an extent, that several of the most hostile class have put themselves under his protection, and he feels confident of the possibility of effecting the voluntary removal of the entire black population, which he is of opinion is not more than 700 in number, in the course of two or three years, holding out to them inducements of food and clothing, and a country where, under the protection of the government, they will be secure from the aggressions of the sealers and bush-rangers, and no restraint imposed on their amusements and sports of the chase.
This circumstance leads to the second subject for the consideration of the Committee, viz. the selection of the most eligible place for the immediate formation of an establishment to receive those that have been taken, and for the future reception of the whole of the aborigines. The Committee have anxiously endeavoured to procure the best possible information with regard to the different islands in Bass's Straits, and after mature deliberation, they are unanimous in the opinion, that Gun Carriage Island, situated between Great Island and Cape Barren, and about eleven leagues distant from the main, possesses more advantages than any other island or place whatever for such an establishment. There is excellent anchorage for vessels, and it is well supplied with wood and water; it is about two miles long and a mile and a half wide, and is surrounded by several islands of the same extent. The natives will be enabled to pass over to Cape Barren for the purposes of hunting; but as it does not abound with game, they will return to the establishment where they will always find food and clothing, &c.; the island also abounds with mutton birds, and also the surrounding coast with shell-fish, their favourite foods.
The Committee are of opinion, that it would be better to farm the establishment on this island, than to place them in any situation where, restraint would require to be imposed, is they conceive from the nature of their habits, and other circumstances, the natives would soon feel discontented and pine away.
To Gun Carriage Island, therefore, the Committee recommend the immediate removal of those natives who have committed themselves to the guardianship and protection of Mr. G. A. Robinson, and that a government vessel be immediately despatched, under the command of some intelligent officer, accompanied by Mr. Robinson, equipped with all the necessary stores, &c., together with a small military guard for the protection of the blacks, and more especially their women, from the aggressions of the sealers and whalers, for the purpose of conveying the whole of the natives to this place that are now on Swan Island or elsewhere.
It will be necessary to remark here, that this island and those around it are much frequented by the sealers, whalers, and also runaway convicts; the Committee therefore recommend that such sealers, &c. &c. as are now living on these islands be ordered to remove forthwith, and that no vessels or boats be allowed to navigate these straits for the purposes of sealing or whaling without a licence from the Government; and for the proper regulation of this trade, and for the most desirable object of apprehending those convicts who have or may is future effect their escape, the Committee are of opinion that a small armed vessel in these straits appears to be essentially necessary, and is a measure which they would strongly recommend to the consideration of the Government.
This vessel may also be made available in conveying supplies and stores, &c. to the establishment.
As the removal of the natives to Maria Island has been brought under the notice of the Committee, as a temporary measure, they feel it incumbent on them to state their objections to this island as an establishment for the natives.
The first and insuperable objection is its being a penal settlement; and to this must be added the circumstance of the necessity of the contiguity of the two establishments, there not being fresh water in any other part of this island. Waiving, however, this objection, still the island is so near to the main land as to hold out constant temptation to escape, which they could accomplish with the greatest facility. The safe custody and civilization of these people being the great objects of the establishment, the Committee cannot recommend Maria Island for this purpose to the Government. Another great objection to Maria Island is, its not affording any harbour or safe anchorage for vessels, which must necessarily be sent there with supplies.
During this inquiry, the Committee at one period were induced to think favourably of King's Island as an eligible situation for the establishment; but having very, maturely considered all the advantages together with all the objections, they are led to the conclusion, from the circumstance of the very great difficulty of approaching it, in consequence of the strong prevailing westerly winds, and entertaining doubts as to the security of a good harbour and safe anchorage, that it is not calculated for the object in view, And cannot, therefore, recommend it to Government.
The Committee have now to state their opinion as regards the best means of protecting the settlers from the aggressions of the hostile tribes. To this subject the Committee have given great attention, and they are unanimously of opinion, that the best measures which can be adopted towards the aborigines are those which have already been so successfully pursued by Mr. G. A. Robinson; and they therefore recommend that an assistant should be immediately appointed, who should proceed with Mr. Robinson to Gun Carriage Island, and as soon as Mr. Robinson shall have seen the natives comfortably settled, he shall renew his mission to the hostile tribes, and endeavour if possible to open a communication with them, and induce them to Join the establishment at Gun Carriage Island.
The Committee however recommend, in the mean time, for the protection of the distant settlers and stock-keepers, that parties of armed men, four in number, should be stationed in the most remote stock huts, with certain instructions as to their manner of proceeding and general line of conduct. They cannot recommend the measure of continuing the roving parties, as they are of opinion that they have afforded no protection to the settlers, and have only tended to increase the hostility of the blacks, and therefore have not answered the objects of the Government.
The last point to which the attention of the Committee has been called is, the claim of Mr. G. A. Robinson on the Government for the services he has performed. The Committee are unanimously of opinion, that at the extreme hazard of life and health, and foregoing every social comfort and family enjoyment, he has done his duty; and they therefore respectfully recommend that Mr. G. A. Robinson should be allowed a salary of £250, to commence from the date of his appointment to this mission, and the further sum of £100 as a free gift from the Government, for his important services in the cause of humanity.
The Committee cannot close their Report without adverting to the colonial secretary's letter of the 3d instant, inclosing several communications detailing the renewed aggressions of the natives in the interior, and they regret extremely to find that they have again commenced hostilities; they cannot therefore too strongly impress upon his Excellency the necessity of carrying into effect the measures they have recommended, if approved, with the least possible delay.
We have, etc.
|(Signed)||JOCELYN THOMAS, Chairman.|
|P. A. MULGRAVE.|
|CHARLES ARTHUR, Secretary.|
|J. BURNETT ESQ.,|
Copy of a Despatch from Lieutenant-Governor Arthur to Secretary Sir George Murray.
|Van Diemen's Land,
Hobart Town, 4th April, 1831.
With reference to my despatch of 12th February last, inclosing a Report of the Aborigines Committee, I have the honour to transmit an extract of the proceedings of the executive council, containing its advice upon the measures which the Committee recommend with regard to the natives.
2dly. You will perceive that the council unanimously. advise the adoption of the recommendation of the Committee, that the thirty-four natives whom Mr. Robinson had induced to follow him to Swan Island, should be removed to Gun Carriage Island, which is situated in Bass's Straits, about eleven leagues from the main, or on some other island which on examination might be found more eligible for the purpose, and there be supplied with food and clothing; and that the minority of the council further advise, that Mr. Robinson should resume his mission to the native tribes, and that other respectable persons, properly qualified for the undertaking, should be employed in the same manner, to act in unison and co-operating with him, with a view to conciliate others of the hostile natives, and endeavour to induce them to go voluntarily to the establishment in-the straits, and there place themselves under the protection and care of the Government. But upon this point the chief justice does not coincide in opinion with the other members, and does not recommend the adoption of measures tending to induce, the natives in tribes to consent to expatriation. He rather recommends that we should still strive to negociate with them, and that it should be proposed to them to allow an European agent to reside with or accompany each tribe, which agents would serve the double purpose of protecting the natives and of checking any disposition towards hostility on their part. The council further advise, that the roving parties employed against the natives should be discontinued, and that small parties of military should be stationed at the remote stock hats id the interior for the protection of the settlers.
3dly. As no time was to be lost in removing the thirty-four natives from Swan Island, where there was no water, to Gun Carriage Island or some other island in the straits, I have despatched a small cutter for the purpose. Mr. Robinson has proceeded in the vessel with the natives who accompanied him round the island, and such as have from time to time been captured; and his Instructions are, as soon as those on Swan Island are removed and placed in security, to visit the islands in the straits, and require the sealers to give up the native women whom they have forcibly carried away, and to place these women in safety with their countrymen at the intended aboriginal establishment on Gun Carriage Island. When the establishment shall have been formed, Mr. Robinson will undertake another mission to the hostile tribes upon the plan he has so successfully adopted, viz. approaching them unarmed in company with a few friendly natives, explaining to them in their own language the amicable intentions of the Government, and offering food, and clothing, and protection from injury, on condition of their being peaceful and inoffensive, or of their going to the aboriginal establishment. By these means, and by conforming to their customs and habits, this zealous and persevering individual appears confident that he shall so ingratiate himself with the natives, as to be able to induce them to accompany him, and to remain upon the island where the establishment will be formed without exercising actual restraint, the appearance of which, in his intercourse with the natives, he has been cautious to avoid.
4thly. As it appears to me most important to mark in an especial manner the consequence which the Government attaches to well-directed exertions to conciliate the natives, I have adopted the recommendation of the Committee in allowing to Mr. Robinson, subject to your approval, a salary of £250 per annum from the date of his appointment to the mission, and so long as he shall be retained in charge of the establishment, with a gratuity of £100; which, indeed, from his long absence from his large family, was only an act of justice; and I have further granted to him 2560 acres of land, free from restrictions. And in the hope of inducing others to come forward in the same cause, the Government notice, copy of which I have the honour to inclose, was issued.
5thly. I regret to report, that since my last communication on this subject, several murders have been perpetrated by the blacks, without, as far as can be ascertained, any provocation whatever; but I coincide with the chief justice, that as, contrary to the most sanguine expectation, an individual has at length been found, in the person of Mr. Robinson, who has had the boldness, totally unarmed, to seek out, approach, and at length confer with the natives, and has induced some of the most hostile to accompany him to Swan Island, a hope may be entertained that others may be conciliated and induced to follow the same course; but with reference to the experience we have already had of the instability of these savages, and attaching much importance to Mr. Robinson's opinion that the chiefs have but little influence over their tribes, and that he does not think they could deter them from the commission of fresh atrocities, or that any dependence could be placed in the observance of any treaty, even if they could be induced to enter into it, I rather incline to coincide with the other members of the council, that they should be drawn, by every mild excitement, to resort to the aboriginal establishment at Gun Carriage Island; for, even if they should pine away in the manner the chief justice apprehends, it is better that they should meet with their death in that way, whilst every act of kindness is manifested towards them, than that they should fall a sacrifice to the inevitable consequences of their continued acts of outrage upon the white inhabitants.
6thly. I have caused such temporary accommodation as the military have themselves been able to construct, with the assistance of a few convict mechanics, to be erected at the most remote districts; and in accordance with the advice of the council, founded upon the recommendation of the Committee, the military outposts will be maintained throughout the winter, and small parties detached from them for the protection of the most exposed settlers. This employment of the soldiers is exceedingly harassing, and to you, Sir, I need not add, very destructive to the internal economy of any troops; but I hope no precaution is omitted which may tend to maintain their discipline, or prevent that contamination which may always be apprehended from their being placed in circumstances tending to promote the least intercourse with convicts.
7thly. Our continued warfare with these miserable savages must continue to be a subject of anxious consideration; but his Majesty's Government may be assured that there is a most sincere disposition, on the part of the constituted authorities, as well as of the inhabitants generally throughout the colony, to embrace every opening for conciliation.
I have the honour to be, Sir,
Your most obedient humble servant,
(Signed) GEORGE ARTHUR.
G. Woodfall, Printer, Angel Court, Skinner Street, London.
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