« AnteriorContinuar »
Admiral Linois, and of many of the most respectable colonists, he treated him with every kind of cruelty and indignity; and, after evading repeated orders for his release, dismissed him as moniously as he had seized him, detaining, however, one log-book, which Flinders was never able to recover. In the meantime appeared an account of Captain Baudin's voyages—the Captain Baudin who had received at Port Jackson every kind of attention and information. In this work, accompanied by an atlas, the discoveries of Flinders and Bass were appropriated wholesale, and renamed.
Baudin had made about fifty leagues of discovery, and claimed nine hundred leagues, part of which had been surveyed by the Dutch a century before his time.
Flinders reached England in 1810, broken in health, but his spirit of duty unimpaired. Under the regulations of the service the time he had passed in unjust imprisonment could not count in his professional employment. At length he petitioned the Prince Regent for promotion, as an act of grace; but that genial patron of embroiderers and tailors refused his prayer.
He devoted the last days of his broken health and spirits to preparing his book and maps for the press — an admirable work, which has been the foundation of every subsequent exploration and colonization in Australia ; and died on the 14th of July, 1814, on the very day his “ Account of a Voyage to Terra Australis” was published. *
We have devoted thus much space to an imperfect record of the labours of Flinders and Bass, as an act of justice towards two men
* While these pages were passing through the hands of the reader for the press, a native of Lincoln, he wrote to a relative and obtained in answer the following interesting particulars :
“Lincoln, 30th June, 1852. “The mother of Mr. George Bass lived with them (the Calder family) fourteen years, and died with them. Her son and only child, George Bass, was born at Asworthy, near Sleaford, where his father had a farm, and died when he was a boy. The widow and son afterwards went to reside at Boston. From his boyhood he showed a strong inclination for a seafaring life, to which his widowed mother was much opposed. He was apprenticed to Mr. Francis, a surgeon at Boston; and at the end of his apprenticeship walked the hospitals and took his diploma with honour, But his inclination for the sea being unsubdued, according to a promise she had made, she yielded to his wish, and sank a considerable sum in fitting him out and buying a share in a ship, which was totally lost. She also lost a great deal of money by the breaking of a bank; but her intimate friend Colonel Gardiner, on hearing of it, insisted upon allowing her an annuity for life. She was a fine noble-minded woman, of no ordinary intellect.
“Her son wrote her long letters containing full accounts of his discoveries. These came into the possession of Miss Calder on the death of Mrs. Bass. A short time ago she thought to take a peep at the letters, went to the old box, but they were gone.
“ The last time his mother heard of him he was in the straits of China. She expected him many years, thinking that he might be taken prisoner; but at last gave up all hopes, thinking that he had been wrecked and drowned. He had only been married three months when he sailed away never to return. His widow is dead."
By a singular coincidence, within a few days after receiving this letter, the author met with a niece of Flinders, in humble circumstances, applying for a passage to Australia at Mrs. Chisholm's.
whose labours profit, but whose merits are scarcely known to thousands of the educated among Australian colonists. There is scarcely a petty town in France in which a monument has not been erected to some hero of the hour—sometimes a poet or historian, more often a successful soldier; but even privateers and pirates have been so honoured. Some Lincolnshire patriot might spare enough to give a tablet to Flinders and Bass in Donnington Church,
1806 to 1809.
BLIGH OF THE BOUNTY-HIS BRUTALITY-M'ARTHUR-FOUNDER OF AUSTRALIAN
WOOL TRADE-BLIGH ATTEMPTS TO CRUSH M'ARTHUR-REVOLUTION-ARREST OF GOVERNOR-HE IS SUPERSEDED_RESULTS OF REVOLT.
APTAIN BLIGH appears to have received his appointment as
Governor of New South Wales as a reward for his gallant conduct in successfully conducting an open boat, with eighteen companions in misfortune, scantily provided with food and water, 3,618 miles, to the Island of Timor, without the loss of a single man, after being cast adrift by the mutineers of the Bounty. No man could be more unfit for such an office. But governors are appointed for the oddest reasons : sometimes because they are distinguished soldiers or sailors; sometimes because they have written a timely book or pamphlet; often because they are related to some great personage, and, being in debt, want an opportunity for saving money : but, no matter for what cause, or by what influence, a governor is appointed; the most important quality of all, the temper of the candidate, is seldom taken into account ; and yet in the governor of a colony no talents can compensate for a violent or spiteful temper.
Bligh had a very difficult task to perform : almost the only unconvicted colonists were the military and civil officers, and their relatives, who formed a sort of Venetian oligarchy of government and trade, and who, beside enjoying the lion's share of grants of land and use of labour, had been accustomed to share with previous governors, at a price arbitrarily imposed upon the importers, the cargoes of vessels as they arrived, and enjoy the profits derived from distributing articles
in demand among the unprivileged settlers at a monopoly tariff. Spirits formed a principal part of these cargoes, and it became the interest of every civil and military officer in the colony that the settlers, free and bond, should drink as much spirits as possible. Bligh brought out instructions to put down this traffic. Hence his immediate unpopularity. But he was a specimen of the naval captain now happily nearly extinct - violent in temper, coarse in language, hating the military, and despising civilians. To those of the humblest class who cringed before him he could be generous of public land and public money ; but to those who dared resist, or even in the slightest degree question, his authority, he was implacable.
At an earlier period in the career of the colony no one would have ventured to question his acts, however tyrannical; but in 1806 the character of the settlement was slowly changing.
A few respectable free settlers had arrived under Governor King. They found profitable employment in growing produce for the use of the government by the help of convicts, whom the government also fed and clothed. -a very safe speculation. All the officials were, as already observed, more or less engaged in barter ; but some of the New South Wales Corps had quitted the military service, in order to betake themselves exclusively to agriculture and commerce. Among these was John MʻArthur, formerly a lieutenant in that regiment, a man of farseeing views, great energy, great intelligence, and indomitable courage.
M'Arthur observed the improvement produced by the climate of New South Wales in the texture of the hairy Indian sheep, and appreciated the value of the district called the Cow Pastures, on which the produce of the lost herd of cattle were found feeding. In 1793 he purchased eight fine-wooled sheep which had been sent out by the Dutch Government to the Cape, and re-exported to Sydney, as the Dutch farmers preferred their own fat-tailed breed.
His purchase subjected him to much ridicule among his brother colonists, who thought it more profitable to grow wheat or pigs for sale at the commissariat stores.
In 1803, in consequence of grievances of which he had to complain at the hands of the colonial authorities, M-Arthur visited England, and there not only obtained permission to purchase a few pure Spanish merinos from the flock of George III., at a time when the exportation of the merino from Spain was a capital crime, and the breed was only to be procured by royal favour, but produced such an effect on the Privy Council, before whom he was examined, on his wool projects, that he carried out to the colony on his return an order for a grant of
MʻARTHUR AND THE GOLDEN FLEECE.
ten thousand acres. This grant he selected on the banks of the Cowpasture River, for he appreciated the discrimination of the lost herd which had there fattened and increased while the colonists starved.
This spot has since become famous as “ Camden,” where the first pure merinos were bred and the first vineyards planted in New South Wales. To Camden, perhaps, future generations of grateful Australians will make pilgrimages. For not greater services the Greeks made of Jason a demi-god. No doubt the Golden Fleece was shorn from a merino ram.
Soon after Bligh landed, Captain King introduced him to MʻArthur, who invited the new governor to visit Camden and inspect his flocks, the result of the crosses from the King's merinos. The answer was a refusal, in the language of the forecastle, expressive of Bligh's contempt for all such occupations. This was characteristic of the man : when the mother and uncle of young Heywood (a boy midshipman on board the Bounty, who received a free pardon and afterwards rose to distinction in the navy) entreated his aid in obtaining mercy for one whose only crime had been not forcing his way through and springing into the overladen boat, he answered in a few lines,“
that so much baseness formed the character of a young man I had a real regard for, and I hope to hear that his friends can bear his loss without much concern."
It would be unnecessary to dwell upon Bligh’s numerous acts of cruelty and tyranny, were it not that his government was one of the great epochs in the history of New South Wales. The results of his despotism turned the attention of the English public to the resources of the colony, and the defeat of his crowning act of oppression enabled M'Arthur to change the destinies of Australia, and make it, instead of a mere gaol, the finest emigration field in the world.
A little anecdote related by Wentworth, culled from hundreds floating in the colony at that period (1816), illustrates a form of government and a state of society strangely at variance with our notions of the rights of Englishmen. Governor Bligh, having heard from his cowkeeper that the servant of an officer of the staff had made some impertinent remarks because disappointed of the customary supply of milk for his master, on the following morning sent for the dissatisfied delinquent. Wondering and trembling, he was ushered into the presence of his excellency, was received with a condescending smile, and told that, as the chief constable's house was on his way home, the governor had merely sent for him to save a dragoon the trouble of going there with a letter. The poor fellow, his mind relieved, respectfully received the missive, delivered it, was immediately tied to the triangles, and rewarded with twenty-five lashes from a cat-o'-nine tails. After a career of two years, during which the person
and property of
every class of the community were at the mercy of his temper for the day, Governor Bligh proceeded with arbitrary illegality to summon, arrest, and try Mr. M‘Arthur, on a frivolous charge of infringing the customs laws, hatched up for the purpose of wreaking his longsmouldering spite.
MʻArthur having refused to notice an illegal summons, the AdvocateGeneral Atkins arrested him, lodged him in prison, and proceeded to try him in a court over which he himself presided, with the assistance of six officers of the New South Wales Corps. This Atkins had been appointed by private interest in England, had no knowledge of law, and was described in a private despatch to the Secretary of State as “accustomed to inebriety, the ridicule of the community, pronouncing sentences of death in moments of intoxication, his knowledge of law insignificant, and subject to private inclination.”
To supply his deficiency of legal knowledge he took for his councillor and secretary a convict attorney of the name of Crossley, transported for forgery.
With the help of this miscreant Atkins prepared a monster indictment, charging M'Arthur with a series of offences—from contempt of