Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

6

A Dr. —, who had the reputation among the prisoner population of never having spared any man in his anger, or any woman in his lust, during the old flogging days, met Smashem one day, face to face, coming out of the bank in Sydney ; and holding out his hand said,

Come, shake hands, Mr. Smith, and let bygones be bygones: I am glad to see you looking so well.' Smith, putting his hands behind him, answered, “I suppose, because I have got a velvet waistcoat, and money in the bank, you want to shake hands; but no! Dr. it would take a second resurrection to save such as thee.' The doctor slunk away.

The following recollections are extracted by permission from the MS. “Voluntary Statements of the People of New South Wales," collected by Mrs. Chisholm :

Joseph Smith.

“ MACDONALD'S RIVER, COUNTY OF HUNTER, 3rd Oct., 1845. “ I arrived in the colony fifty-six years since ; it was Governor Phillip's time, and I was fourteen years old ; there were only eight houses in the colony then. I know that myself and eighteen others laid in a hollow tree for seventeen weeks ; and cooked out of a kettle with a wooden bottom : we used to stick it in a hole in the ground, and make a fire round it. I was seven years in service (bond), and then started working for a living wherever I could get it. There was plenty of hardship then : I have often taken grass, and pounded it, and made soup

from a native dog. I would eat anything then. For seventeen weeks I had only five ounces of flour a day. We never got a full ration except when the ship was in harbour. The motto was, “kill them or work them, their provision will be in store.' Many a time have I been yoked like a bullock with twenty or thirty others to drag along timber. About eight hundred died in six months at a place called Toongabbie, or Constitution-hill. I knew a man so weak, he was thrown into the grave, when he said, “Don't cover me up; I'm not dead; for God's sake don't cover me up! The overseer answered, ‘D your eyes, you'll die to-night, and we shall have the trouble to come back again! The

ecovered, his name is James Glasshouse, and he is now alive at Richmond.

“They used to have a large hole for the dead; once a day men were sent down to collect the corpses of prisoners, and throw them in without any ceremony or service. The native dogs used to come down at night and fight and howl in packs, gnawing the poor dead bodies. The

governor would order the lash at the rate of five hundred, six

man reco

[blocks in formation]

hundred, to eight hundred ; and if the men could have stood it they would have had more. I knew a man hung there and then for stealing a few biscuits, and another for stealing a duck frock.* A man was condemned no time-take him to the tree, and hang him. The overseers were allowed to flog the men in the fields. Often have men been taken from the gang, had fifty, and sent back to work. Any man would have committed murder for a month's provisions : I would have committed three (murders) for a week's provisions ! I was chained seven weeks on my back for being out getting greens, wild herbs. The Rev. used to come it tightly to force some confession. Men were obliged to tell lies to prevent their bowels from being cut out by the lash. « Old

(an overseer) killed three men in a fortnight at the saw by overwork. We used to be taken in large parties to raise a tree; when the body of the tree was raised, he (Old -) would call some of the men away—then more; the men were bent double they could not bear it—they fell—the tree on one or two, killed on the spot. • Take him away; put him in the ground !' There was no more about it.

“After seven years I got my liberty, and then started working about for a living where I could get it. I stowed myself away on board the Barrington, bound for Norfolk Island, with eighteen others; it was not a penal settlement then. Governor King was there. I had food plenty. I was overseer of the governor's garden. Afterwards I went to live with old D'Arcy Wentworth, † and a better master never lived in the world. Little Billy, I the great lawyer, has often been carried in my arms.

“Old D'Arcy wanted me to take charge of Home-Bush $ property, but I took to the river (Hawkesbury), worked up and down till I saved money to buy old Brown's farm at Pitt Town.

No man worked harder than I have done, I have by me about one thousand pounds ready cash. I have given that farm of forty acres to my son Joseph, and three other farms, and about five hundred head of cattle;

* J. Bennet, a youth 17 years of age, was convicted and immediately executed for stealing to the value of 5s. out of a tent.--Collins, p. 27, History of New South Wales.

op Who came out as a political exile for having been concerned in Irish treason, was appointed surgeon to the Norfolk Island settlement. He took an active part in the Bligh rebellion. afterwards a magistrate. A man of great ability and eloquence, but by no means popular, being of the old fierce republican school of politics of the last generation. Irish too.

William D'Arcy Wentworth, barrister-at-law, author of a description of New South Wales, published 1819,-& work, or rather large pamphlet, chiefly political, written with great power and eloquence, which first called the attention of the reading public to the resources of New South Wales. The emancipation of New South Wales is in a great degree due to Mr. Wentworth's exertions.

$ The Goodwood Park of New South Wales, where races ranking colonially with our Ascot, are held annually, about eight miles from Sydney.

Was

and about the same to my
other son.

-30

I have also got 80 acresacres, 50, 75,-beside my house, and some fine cattle. We are never without a chest of tea in the house ; we use two in the year. I have paid £40 for a chest of tea in this colony. Tea is a great comfort."

Mrs. Smith's Statement.

“ I have seen Dr. take a woman who was in the family way, with a rope round her, and duck her in the water at Queen’s-wharf.* The laws were bad then. If a gentleman wanted a man's wife, he would send the husband to Norfolk Island. I have seen a man flogged for pulling six turnips instead of five. One Defrey was overseer,

the biggest villain that ever lived—delighted in torment. He used to walk

up

and down and rub his hands when the blood ran. When he walked out, the flogger walked behind him. He died a miserable death—maggots ate him up; not a man could be found to bury him. I have seen six men executed for stealing 21 lbs. of flour. I have seen a man struck when at work with a handspike, and killed on the spot. I have seen men in tears round Governor

begging for food. He would mock them with “Yes, yes, gentlemen ; I'll make you comfortable ; give you a nightcap and a pair of stockings!!”

Mrs. Smith was blind : she acted as she spoke, and wept on recalling the horrors of her early life. The house was large, and crowded with furniture. Smith presented Mrs. C. with a loaded pistol as a souvenir, which he pulled out of his belt, saying, “ You may depend on it!"

[ocr errors]

Henry Hale.

“WELL'S CREEK, HAWKESBURY RIVER, 4th Oct., 1845. “I arrived in the third fleet on the 16th of October, 1791 ; it was on a Sunday we landed. The ship's name was Barrington, Captain Marsh. I was sent to Toongabbie. For nine months there I was on five ounces of flour a day—when weighed out, barely four; served daily. In those days we were yoked to draw timber, twenty-five in gang. The sticks were six feet long ; six men abreast: We held the stick behind us, and dragged with our hands. One man came ashore in the Pitt; his name was Dixon ; he was a guardsman. He was put to the drag; it soon did for him. He began on Thursday and died on a Saturday, as he was dragging a load down Constitution-hill. There were thirteen hundred died there in six

a

* This was a common punishment for female prisoners, until a young girl was killed on the spot by the shock.-C. C.

DISCOVERIES OF FLINDERS AND BASS.

53

months. Men used to carry trees on their shoulders. How they used to die ! The men were weak-dreadfully weak-for want of food. A man named Gibraltar was hung for stealing a loaf out of the governor's kitchen. He got down the chimney, stole the loaf, had a trial, and was hung the next day at sunrise. At this time a full ration was allowed to the governor's dog. This was Governor

I have seen seventy men flogged at night—twenty-five lashes each. On Sunday evening they used to read the laws : if any man was found out of camp he got twenty-five. The women used to be punished with iron collars. In Governor King's time they used to douse them overboard. They killed one.* Dr.

was a great tyrant. Mine is a life grant from Governor Bourke-fourteen acres. I grow tobacco, wheat, and corn; just enough to make a living.”

CHAPTER V.

THE DISCOVERIES OF FLINDERS AND BASS.

FRO

CROM these doleful chronicles of irresponsible tyranny, of crime

and famine, it is a relief to turn and contemplate the heroism of the two men to whose ill-rewarded enterprise the most brilliant discoveries on the Australian coasts are due.

In 1795 Captain Hunter, who had commanded the “First Fleet," was sent out again to supersede Governor Phillip. Among the gentlemen under his command were Matthew Flinders, midshipman; and George Bass, surgeon. Flinders was born at Donnington, in Lincolnshire. Like Cook, and many other illustrious seamen, he commenced his career in the merchant service. Of the birthplace of Bass we are as ignorant as of the place of his death. In their silent paths they were both heroes who ventured and endured shipwreck, thirst, famine, the attacks of black barbarians, and displayed not less humanity than courage and sagacity while pursuing discoveries of the highest possible importance to their country, with faint and distant hopes of any other reward than that inherent feeling which supports unknown and unrewarded genius and heroism—the consciousness of power rightly exercised, of the “talent” put out to interest tenfolda hundredfold.

* This confirms Mrs. Smith's statement.

When they arrived in the colony, seven years after the axes of the “First Fleet” rang in the forests of Sydney Cove, little had been done to work out in detail the investigations made previous to the landing in Botany Bay. “Jervis Bay, indicated, but not named, by him, had been entered by Lieutenant Bowen, and Port Stephen had been examined; but the intermediate portions of the coast, both north and south, were little further known than from Captain Cook's general chart; and none of the more distant openings, marked but not explored by that celebrated navigator, had been seen."

The feelings of the colonists seem to have been expressed in a touch of nature which escapes Collins in a note to his heavy grandiloquent history of New South Wales :

“In many of these arms of Port Jackson, when sitting with my companions at my ease in a boat, I have been struck with horror at the bare idea of being lost in them, as, from the great similarity of one cove to another, the recollection would be bewildered in attempting to determine any relative situation. Insanity would accelerate the miserable end that must ensue.”

Within a month after their arrival in Port Jackson, in 1795, Bass and Flinders set out in a little boat, eight feet long, appropriately called the Tom Thumb, with a crew of one boy, proceeded round to Botany Bay, and, ascending George's River, explored its course twenty miles further than the survey had been carried by Captain Hunter.

On their return, a voyage to Norfolk Island interrupted further proceedings until March, 1796, when they set out again in the Tom Thumb to explore a large river, said to fall into the sea some miles south of Botany Bay. They were absent eight days, explored Port Hacking in the course of their expedition, experienced great danger from the sea, and on land from the savage tribes : as when, dark night, steering along an unknown shore, guided by the sound of the sea breaking against overhanging cliffs, without knowing where they should find shelter, Mr. Bass kept the sheet of the sail in his hand, drawing a few inches occasionally, when he saw a particularly heavy sea following, I (Flinders) was steering with an oar, and it required the utmost exertion and care to prevent broaching to; a single wrong movement would have sent us to the bottom. The boy baled out the water which, in spite of every care, the sea threw

On another occasion, when their little boat was tossed upside down on the shore, saved from utter destruction by its lightness their muskets rusted and their powder wet—Flinders amused the semi

on a

upon us."

« AnteriorContinuar »