« AnteriorContinuar »
HOW SMALL FARMERS LIVE IN AUSTRALIA.
“ The girl that is old enough helps me; one daughter is married to a stockkeeper. Wages £20.
“We employ one man, wages 6s. per week; he boards and lodges with the family.
“In harvest time, I have twelve pigs and three up fattening; this year I have killed for my family use two bullocks; four pigs; they weighed about 150lbs. each; twenty-two ducks, four dozen of fowls, not counting young things; eggs we use as we want for the family, and I sell about ten or twelve dozen a week. Fowls, thirteen-pence per pair; eggs pay well; the neighbours are civil and obliging; when one man's short of rent or flour we help each other. There is good fish in the river, and it does not take much trouble to catch them. “I sold my wheat at 4s. per
bushel. “ I paid in August last £2 2s. 6d. for half a chest of tea and £1 2s. 6d. the cwt. for sugar. I usually buy half a chest of tea and one bag of sugar at a time; quarter cwt. of soap. I buy tea twice a year, and sugar three times.”
After taking down the statements, Mrs. Chisholm often added her own notes, as in the following on three old prisoners at Webb's Creek :
“ This poor man is a widower, his wife has not been long dead, and never did I see grief so stamped upon a poor man's countenance ; he was very kind to his partner during a long illness, had a doctor twice to see her ; he has a dread of bachelorism; he has visited his solitary neighbours over the river, and knows what a bachelor's life is. May my sons escape the calamity that prevails at Webb’s Creek. All fastidious bachelors in search of imaginary beings should visit Webb’s Creek, and see the comforts of single blessedness. I could not sleep all night for the sound of their miserable voices, their black chins, their brown shirts. A man would be happier with a very shrew than left to mate with his own shadow.”
A BACHELOR SETTLEMENT. “A very snug hut, ascent to it steep; the house sheltered by a rock; we were scarce in the house before the frying-pan was put on the fire; here we had fried eggs and bacon, cold boiled pork, tea, and damper : the bacon here was the best cured of any I have tasted in the colony. There is a good pigyard; here are the pigs, bachelor Hale's sole care (p. 52); he gets up at night to feed, then goes out by day to gather thistles for them. When we left here, Whitaker brought a dozen of eggs to the boat as a present for me. How comfortable old people can live on a bit of land; what ingenious contrivances poor homes are to keep human beings poor and miserable!
“ Four large sacks of flour, three casks of meat, a great abundance of provisions, and a very considerable number of pigs ; but my attention was so taken up in examining the government monastery that I forgot to enter the numbers. At this desolate spot there were evident signs that men seldom voluntarily live alone. There was the tomb of Henry Hale’s bush wife, 'a gin's grave;' it was neatly paled in and painted ; never did I witness such misery in the midst of plenty. What frightful evils are the results of checking population !"
SIR CHARLES FITZROY.
RETROSPECT OF SIR GEORGE GIPPS'S GOVERNMENT - CONTEST ON DISTRICT
COUNCILS_SIR CHARLES FITZROY'S ADMINISTRATION—THE SQUATTERS OBTAIN FIXITY OF TENURE-FUTILE ATTEMPT TO REINTRODUCE CONVICTS.
New South Wales, and departed for England, worn out in body and mind by the excitement of perpetual contests with colonists as unscrupulous in their attacks as he was obstinate and haughty in maintaining his opinions and position. It was a war to the knife on both sides. The last measure he presented to the Legislative Council (a bill to renew the border police) was rejected, and an address voted, by a large majority, after two nights' debate, which was virtually a vote of censure on his government.
A few examples will illustrate the peculiarities of his government :
He disallowed the cost of curing a black aborigine of an infectious disorder, on the ground “that there were no funds legitimately applicable for that purpose;" but he spared no expense to discover, try, and hang, if possible, those gentlemen who had slain blacks in self-defence, after he had withdrawn the police, for which they paid a special tax.
In the same spirit he threatened to withdraw the pasturing licence of any man whose shepherd lived with a black concubine, blacks being the only females within hundreds of miles; but he towered with indignation when it was suggested that it was his duty to provide the shepherds with wives.
Having found officials, who had been elected members of the council, voting against him, he issued an order that, “On questions deemed of importance by the representative of her Majesty, persons who hold office during her Majesty's pleasure, and who may at the same time be members of the Legislative Council, are not at liberty to oppose, in their latter capacity, the government which it is their duty in the former capacity to serve.”
A return made to the Legislative Council affords a series of examples of the arbitrary manner in which he exercised the power vested in him, as governor, of raising and reducing the price of land. In many instances he acted in defiance of the recommendation of the surveyors and local authorities. He believed in no one but himself.
CONTEST ON DISTRICT COUNCILS BILL.
“ Land at Illawarra was sold at 12s. and £1, raised to £10, not sold, then offered at auction at £1, and being the refuse still remained unsold.
“In a second district land raised to £10 was reduced to £2. In a third, after an increase to £10 and £100, the lots were reduced to £2
In a third £100 upset was obliged to be reduced to £10 an
A fourth and fifth district present equally striking instances of the governor's ill success as a land valuer.”
Perhaps, next to the contest with the squatters, the hardest struggle took place upon the District Council Bill.
District councils, as we have already stated, were created at the suggestion of Sir George Gipps, before he became Governor of New South Wales, by the 47th section of the 5th and 6th Victoria, c. 79, with the view of raising local taxes, to be expended, under local control, for local objects, such as roads, bridges, schools, &c.
Under this clause the inhabitants of each district were empowered to elect a council, and, if they neglected to elect, the governor had power to appoint a council, which should decide on the sum required for a year for the district. Half such sum was to be contributed from the colonial treasury, and the other half to be levied on the property in the district. If no local treasurer was elected the colonial treasurer had to issue his warrant, and sell up as much of the property of the district as would raise the requisite sum.
It was a very pretty paper scheme, which met the high approval of English statesmen of the first order. In England it would even now be a great improvement on the present mode of levying county rates, but in pastoral colonies, like those of Australia, it was hopelessly impracticable.
In the first place, there is no population sufficiently dense to work such a system; and, in the second place, there is no ready money to pay the taxes.
Wages are high, consumption is large, and by taxes on consumption, levied at the ports, a considerable revenue may be raised, but by direct taxation very little. The colonists have, or rather had—for it is impossible to say what changes a gold currency may effect-sheep and cattle, which they exchanged, in meat, wool, and tallow, for what they needed in tea, sugar, tobacco, and clothing, but very little money.
When Sir George Gipps attempted to introduce his district councils he found the colonists unprepared to pay five or ten pounds per annum for roads over which they never travelled, and bridges a hundred miles from their farms, and, indignant at finding their property at the mercy
of the colonial treasurer, the irresponsible officer of the governor, the colonists determined to resist the district council scheme. The governor was determined to enforce it. It was his darling child ; he had conceived it while looking out from his study on the dense population of a different state of society, and he was not the man to be beaten by circumstances. Like Sièyes and the Abbé, other celebrated manufacturers of constitutions and governing machines, he was blind and deaf to all facts which militated against his theories, and was prepared that everybody should suffer so long as he maintained his character as a legislator. Thus he answered a deputation of the Legislative Council, and other influential colonists, who waited on him to point out the practical difficulties in the way of executing his district council scheme: “Whether it ruins the colony or not, an act of Parliament must, and shall be, carried out.”
On this question the battle began. The inhabitants, except in one district, neglected to elect committees. The governor appointed them. Then came the question of levying, after assessing, a rate. A flaw was discovered in the act of Parliament. It was decided that the word • levy” did not empower the council to distrain. The governor applied to the Legislative Council for an act to amend the flaw. The Legislative Council refused to help him. He was thrown back on the powers vested in the colonial treasurer; the “ Algerine clause," as it was called in the colony, he threatened, but he dared not put in force. The struggle was carried on for years. The governor was supported by the approval of the home authorities; but the passive resistance of the colonists was too much for him. At length, in 1846, Earl Grey called for a report from the principal officials in New South Wales and Port Phillip, including Mr. Deas Thomson and Mr. Latrobe, and they reported in a manner which effectually, and for ever, shelved Sir George Gipps's district councils.
During an administration of eight years, distinguished by unusual official and literary aptitude, Sir George Gipps succeeded in earning the warm approbation of the Downing-street chiefs, and the detestation of the members of every colonial class and interest, except his immediate dependents. The squatocracy, the mercantile, and the settler class were equally opposed to him. Yet even with the same political and economical views, erroneous and baneful as many of them were, with much less talent, but with a more conciliatory temper, he might have been a happy, a popular, and a really useful governor. The value, as well as the popularity, of a colonial governor depends so much more on the manner in which he conciliates and advises the people under his
GOVERNMENT OF GIPPS AND FITZROY.
charge, than on the manner in which he pens a despatch or draws up a speech from the vice-throne.
We have dwelt on his unhappy career—unhappy for himself and for the colony under his charge—to show what manner of policy was approved and rewarded by the Colonial Office of Earl Grey, and why discontent has been for many years chronic in New South Wales.
His administration will always be considered one of the most important epochs in the history of New South Wales, and indeed of Australia, associated as it is with the permanent infliction of the £l an acre monopoly, the consequent triumph of the great pastoral over the freehold interest, the development of the wonderful pastoral resources of Australia, the abolition of assignment and transportation of criminals, the rise of a free population, the introduction of the elective element into the legislature, the commencement of a legitimate parliamentary struggle for the establishment of a responsible government, and a crowd of events of great local but minor national importance. All these date back to the period during which Sir George Gipps reigned and governed too, and contested every possible question with the Legislative Council, with the judges, with the crown land commissioners, with the clergy of all denominations, with squatters, with settlers, with every one who dared to have any other opinion than the opinion of the governor, except the Secretary of State for the Colonies.
SIR CHARLES FITZROY. Sir Charles Fitzroy, a younger son of the Grafton family, and a brother-in-law of the Duke of Richmond, who had previously been Lieut.-Governor of Prince Edward Island, and Governor of Antigua and the Virgin Islands, in the West Indies, succeeded Sir George Gipps, in 1846, and has retained the office, with increased dignity as governor-general, under the recent “ Australian Reform Bill,” up to the present time.
His administration personally affords no room for observation. He appears to have no opinions, a very conciliatory manner, and to be only anxious to allow the colonists as much liberty of legislation as his instructions will permit. He is contented to drive his own four-in-hand while his official advisers manage the colonists. And perhaps, until it is found possible to select as Governor of Australia some man of superior intellectual attainments and refined tastes, as well as common sense, conciliatory manners, and official aptitude,—some one, in fact, who would teach the wealthy young colonists that, according to modern English notions, more is needed than a large income, a polished exterior, and a fashion