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money returned, but without interest. Each convict employed for twelve months will be computed as £16 saved to the public."
Persons desirous of becoming grantees without purchase might obtain land on satisfying the governor that they had the power and intention of expending in the cultivation of the land a capital equal to half the estimated value of it.
On grants of not less than 320 acres, and not more than 2,560 acres, subject to a quit rent of 5 per cent. per annum on the estimated value, redeemable within the first twenty-five years at twenty years' purchase, with a credit for one-fifth part of the sums the grantee might have saved by employing convicts, no quit rent was required for the first seven years. But the grantee was subject to forfeiture of his grant if unable to prove to the satisfaction of the surveyor-general that he had expended a capital equal to one-half its value.
It is evident that detailed regulations as to expenditure of capital could never be enforced. In practice, quit rents fell in arrear and could not be recovered. Thousands of acres granted turned out and remain valueless.
In September, 1826, Sir Ralph Darling created a land board, composed of the colonial secretary, the civil engineers, and the auditorgeneral of accounts, which issued a set of regulations worthy, for their thorough absurdity and impracticability, of their bureaucratic descendants, the South Australian commissioners, and the New Zealand Company directors.
Persons desirous of obtaining land were (1) to apply to the colonial secretary for a form to be filled up and submitted to the governor, who (2), if satisfied of the character and respectability “ of the applicant, directed the colonial secretary to supply him with a letter (3) to the land board, in order that they might carefully investigate the stock articles of husbandry, &c., and cash, forming part of his capital. On the land board reporting (4) to the governor satisfactorily as to capital, the governor furnished the applicant (5) with a letter to the surveyorgeneral, who (6) was to give him authority to proceed in search of land ! When he had made his selection he had to apprise the surveyorgeneral (7), who twice a month was to report (8) to the governor such applications ; and, if approved (9) by the governor, the applicant received written authority (10) to take possession of the land until his Majesty's pleasure should be known or the grant made out. Terms as to quit rents the same as the first set of regulations ; viz., 5s. per cent. after seven years ; grants to be in square miles ; one square mile, 640 acres, for each £500 of capital, to the extent of four square
Land selected for purchase, not granted, to be valued by the commissioners, put up for sale, and sold by sealed tender, not under a price fixed by commissioners. Personal residence, or residence of a free man as servant or deputy, required on purchases and grants.
These regulations of Sir Ralph Darling were marked by every official vice_unnecessary forms, expense, and uncertainty, inquisitorial investigation, bribery and corruption among the subordinates in the various offices; in fact, everything that could be done, was done to disgust decent, unpolished, unlearned settlers. They were adopted by the Colonial Office in 1827, and had the effect of rendering the business of obtaining and granting land one series of jobs. The home government always reserved to itself the right of making grants, and exercised it in a most baneful manner.
One effect, unintentional on the part of the authors of these cumbrous arrangements for obtaining grants of land, was to encourage unlicensed squatting in districts unsurveyed, and at that period allowed to remain in “healthy neglect.” So the live stock increased in spite of the forms of the “ land board."
Up to 1820, the last year of Macquarie's government, 400,000 acres passed into the hands of private individuals ; in 1828, 2,524,880 acres had been granted or sold by Brisbane and Darling; making in all 2,906,346 acres. But these acres cannot for useful purposes be compared with European acreage, except in Connemara, where square miles may be bought at 5s. an acre, and are dear at the money.
After the endless delays and forms of the Darling dynasty, the change in 1831 to sale by auction was a great boon to the colony, although the large size of the lots (640 acres) excluded corn-cultivating settlers of fifty acres ; and the putting up to auction of land occupied and improved under expectation of grants caused many cases of individual hardship among the humbler classes.
In every point of view it is most unfortunate that the American system, which had been so far followed, has not been strictly adhered to; that is to say, surveys always in advance of sales, lots from 80 acres upwards, surveyors' maps always open free of charge, without favour, and land at a dollar an acre.
In 1831 it was further decided that part of the funds derived from the sale of lands should be applied to defraying the passages of free emigrants on the bounty system; that is, by paying to importers a certain sum per head for men, women, and children, if approved by a colonial board.
The following is the result of the first five years
of at 5s. an acre for country land :
Years. 1831 1832* 1833* 1834* 1835
d. 3,617 17
5 13,683 6 1 26,272 2 43,482 3 9 89,380 9 4
£176,435 19 4
£31,028 0 In 1836, land sales at Port Phillip being included, produced a total of £132,396.
In 1835 two events occurred which materially affected the colonizing fortunes of Australia. A party of stockowners from Van Diemen's Land, where the accessible pastures had been nearly all appropriated, crossed Bass's Straits, and established themselves on the shores of Port Phillip Bay, on the River Yarra Yarra ; about the same time squatters gradually extended their pastures overland, and whalers settled at Portland Bay; and before the government of New South Wales, within which the unpeopled territory was included under Governor Phillip's commission, acknowledged their existence, many thousand sheep and cattle were feeding over the finest plains that had yet been discovered in the vicinity of a natural port. And these “unauthorized squatters," as they were called in a despatch, poured into the new land with such rapidity that the home government was very unwillingly obliged to sanction the measures which had been taken by Governor Bourke.
This spontaneous colonization brought into the market, under the new system, a vast quantity of accessible land, of a very superior quality for both agricultural and pastoral purposes.
At the same time that the Tasmanians were swarming across Bass's Straits, and the pastors of New South Wales were marching overland with their flocks to this and other new lands of promise, in England a commission had been issued, an act of Parliament obtained, and a charter granted, for colonizing South Australia, an unexplored tract of land, traversed by a river which the adventurous Sturt had descended and ascended, and given the name of South Australia.
The history of the rise, the fall, and the revival of that now great and flourishing colony will be found in its proper place; but we
* A considerable number of acres were sold by Brisbane and Darling on credit, and paid in these years.
must refer to it here only to show how the speculation of the South Australian Company affected the progress of New South Wales and Port Phillip.
The South Australian adventurers were a camaraderie,* who, although ridiculously ignorant of the practical arts of colonization, as they afterwards proved to the sorrow and ruin of thousands, were adepts of the first water in the arts of puff publicity and parliamentary canvass. They knew how to get up a company, float paragraphs, gather great public meetings, fascinate and cram the ablest writers of the press, agitate Parliament, pack a committee, manufacture a case, and bamboozle the public.
Canals and South American mines had been exhausted; railways were not yet sufficiently advanced, and yet too much advanced to form the subject of speculation; colonization was a new theme; the ignoranc of the public made it an admirable one in the hands of a skilful charlatan like Edward Gibbon Wakefield, the John Law of colonization.
The large fortunes realized in Australia—the stories of convicts with thirty and forty thousand pounds a year—the visits of a few of the sheepowning plutocracy—the flattering accounts of travellers—attracted attention to New South Wales, at a time when, under the influence of the dire calculations of Malthus, and the evil results of the old poor-law system of unlimited out-door relief, the well-to-do English world was oppressed by the nightmare of a surplus pauper population devouring the landholder and fundholder, and reducing the land to one vast potatofed poorhouse.
But there were drawbacks in the unsavoury name of Botany Bay, and the pickpocket character of its population ; in the fearful amount of crime reported by colonial judges; and, worst of all, in a tariff of wages daily rising, which were exacted by free emigrants for their services, in spite of the anti-wages combination of the old white slaveowning colonists.
In 1829 an aristocratic adventurer had, with the assistance of a Sydney money-lender, endeavoured to retrieve his fortune by obtaining a grant of land, and conducting an army of helpless gentlemen and ladies, with still more helpless clodhoppers, to the banks of the Swan River, in North-Western Australia, where with the worst possible arrangements the worst possible colonists found themselves planted in the most remote corner of an unexplored continent, on a dangerous port, on barren sand with poisonous pastures, and thickets full of hostile savagesland so barren, and pastures so poisonous, that the exertions
* See M. Scribe's comedy of “La Camaraderie "
of nearly half a century, with large assistance from public funds, have not yet enabled Western Australia to
of government, or the cost of imports. Port Phillip had more sheep in one year after the first white party landed from Van Diemen's Land than Western Australia in five-and-twenty years.
The increase of sheep depends not on the terms on which land is sold, but on the condition in which grass grows. If pastures are plentiful, so are sheep; if scanty, poisonous, or wanting in water, they perish as surely as a Wakefieldite colony unpuffed. On the success of New South Wales, and the failure of Swan River, the South Australian scheme was floated.
Give us, said the projectors to the legislature and the speculative public, the territory we mark on the map; the right of imposing a sufficient price on the land, and of applying it to the importation of labour ; and we will render labour cheap by the exclusion of labourers from the possession of land, concentrate society, introduce agriculture as scientific as that of Great Britain, in addition to the productions of Spain and Italy, and reap all the profits that have been reaped in New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land without the taint of convict labour, or “the dispersion of the semi-barbarous squatter;" and we will produce a state of society so prosperous and so charming, that the neighbouring cheap-priced convict colonies shall hasten to follow our example.
As they desired so it was granted to them, and under “ South Australia” we may read how bands of youths and maidens, and old men who had not gained wisdom with their grey hairs, went singing in triumph to sit down in a sandy plain and spend two years in gambling for town lots and village lots, with their own and with borrowed paper money; and how they sank into a slough of despondency, and were only saved by resorting to the people and pursuits they had been taught to despise.
But to New South Wales two results arrived through the exertions of the South Australian interest, an interest much more successful in its parliamentary tactics than in its colonizing operations.
First, the sudden abolition of the assignment system and transportation—a righteous act, most rashly performed to the injury of this country and the criminals, to the ruin of Van Diemen's Land, and the great eventful gain but temporary loss of New South Wales. Secondly, the raising of the price of land from 5s. to £l, and foundation of a grievance the effects of which, in a moral, social, and political point of view, are far too serious to be easily or rapidly calculated.