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DISCOVERY OF PORT JACKSON.
and stores was left a matter of chance, dependent on the trades of the six hundred felons; and, as it turned out, there were not half a dozen carpenters, only one bricklayer, and not one mechanic in the whole settlement capable of erecting a corn-mill.
The “first fleet” sailed on the 13th May, 1787, and, after a voyage of eight months, during which they touched at the Cape de Verd Islands, Rio de Janeiro, and the Cape of Good Hope, everywhere received with the greatest attention and courtesy, on the 20th January, 1788, anchored in Botany Bay.
Within four and twenty hours after landing, Governor Phillip ascertained that Botany Bay was quite unsuitable for the site of a colony, that a sufficient quantity of cultivable agricultural land, and of fresh water, were wanting, and that the harbour was unsafe for ships of burden.
Without disembarking his charge, he set out with a party of three boats, to explore the coast to the northward, and particularly Broken Bay, an inlet favourably mentioned by Captain Cook, distant about eighteen miles from Botany Bay; but, as he sailed along the barrier of cliffs which line the shores, he decided to examine a narrow cleft which Cook, passing by as a mere boat harbour, had named after the look-out man who viewed it, Port Jackson.
The day was mild and serene. The expedition sailed along the coast near enough to see, and hear the wild cries of, the astonished natives, who followed them as far as the rugged nature of the land would permit. As they approached Port Jackson, the coast wore such an appearance that Captain Phillip fully expected to find Captain Cook's unfavourable impressions realized; but he was destined to be most agreeably disappointed.
The first tack carried the expedition out of the long heavy swell of the Pacific Ocean into the smooth water of a canal protected by two projecting “heads,” and soon they came within sight of a vast landlocked lake, stretching as far as the eye could reach, dotted with small islands, whose shores sloped, forest-covered, down to the water's edge. Black swans and other rare water-birds fluttered up as the white strangers sailed on, charmed with a scene in which every feature was beautiful, yet strange: they had discovered one of the finest harbours in the world. Coasting round the shores of this great natural basin, Governor Phillip determined to plant his colony on a promontory where a small clear stream trickled into the salt water. After three days spent in exploration, he returned to Botany Bay.
On the morning of the 25th January, as they were working out, the English fleet were astonished by seeing two strange ships of war sailing into the bay. These were the Boussole and Astrolabe, the French expedition of discovery under the command of M. de la Pérouse, which had left France in 1785. La Pérouse “had sailed into Botany Bay by Captain Cook's chart, which lay before him on the binnacle. Having heard at Kamtschatka of the intended settlement, he had expected to have found a town built and market established.” Thus it was probably but by a few days that the honour of discovering Port Jackson fell to England. The French squadron remained until the 10th March to refresh and refit, and, then departing, were never heard of more until, in 1826, Mr. Dillon discovered at the Manicola Islands traces of arms and ornaments which proved their mournful fate-shipwrecked and murdered by savages.
GOVERNOR PHILLIP TO GOVERNOR KING.
1788 TO 1806.
FOUNDATION OF NEW SOUTH WALES—THE CONSTITUTION AND JUDICIAL SYSTEM
-THE LASH - THE LAW-THE FIRST CHURCH - FAMINE - WILD CATTLE FOUND_GOVERNOR HUNTER-GOVERNOR KING.
N the 26th January the English fleet, having been brought round,
anchored in deep water close along the shore of Sydney Cove, so called after Lord Sydney, one of the lords of the Admiralty; a formal disembarkation took place a detachment of marines and blue jackets leaped from their boats into the shades of a primæval forest; after hoisting British colours “near where the colonnade in Bridge-street now stands,” the proclamation and commission constituting the colony were read, a salute of small arms was fired, and the career of the province of New South Wales commenced.
The whole party larded amounted to one thousand and thirty souls, who encamped under tents, and under and within hollow trees, “ in a country resembling the more woody parts of a deer park in England.”
Such were the accidents of the foundation, and such the founders, of our colonial empire in Australia
No sooner had the convict colonists been disembarked, and the erection of the necessary buildings commenced, than the want of a sufficient body of artificers was experienced. The ships furnished sixteen, and the prisoners twelve, carpenters; and by a piece of unexpected good fortune, which caused much rejoicing, “ an experienced bricklayer was discovered among the convicts. He was at once placed at the head of a party of labourers, with orders to construct a number of brick huts : in the meantime the governor occupied a tent.”
This first example is a fair specimen of the manner in which the penal discipline in the colony was conducted for a long series of years. A useful man was placed in authority, and allowed a variety of indulgences, quite irrespective of his moral qualities. The greatest ruffians became overseers, and occupied places of trust. Men of no use-mere drudges — were treated worse than beasts of burden.
In the month of May the entire live stock of the colony, public and private, consisted of 2 Bulls, 29 Sheep,
5 Rabbits, 210 Fowls. 3 Colts, The cattle were of the Cape breed, humpy on the shoulders, and long-horned, a fact which it afterwards became of consequence to remember.
In the ensuing month it is recorded as a public calamity that two bulls and four cows wandered away from the pickpocket herdsman who had them in charge, and were lost in the woods. In the sequel it was shown that the cattle were better colonists than their owners.
The entrance to Port Jackson, as already partly described, is through projecting capes, or two heads—which conceal and shelter the far extent of the harbour. A channel, about two miles in breadth, opens a land-locked harbour, about fifteen miles in length, of irregular form, the shores jagged with inlets, coves, and creeks, which, when the first adventurers landed, were covered to the water's edge with the finest timber. At the western extremity a current of fresh water mingling with the sea tide gave signs of the winding Paramatta River, navigable for vessels of small burden for eighteen miles.
The settlement was planted on the banks of an inlet or“ cove," about half a mile in length and a quarter in breadth, which received a considerable stream of fresh water at the upper end.
The native blacks, who then swarmed along the whole coast from Botany Bay, and far beyond in either direction, came to meet the white strangers naked, armed with the shield, the spear, and the boomerang, which the settlers often took for a wooden sword.
From the circumstance of the aborigines not being subject to the authority of any sort of government except that of the strongest man, from the imperfection of their arms, and their mental incapacity for combination, their communications and skirmishes with the white intruders do not occupy that place in the history of the colony which is filled by the Red Indian tribes in the history of North America, or the semi-civilized Peruvians and Mexicans in that of the Spanish South America.
On the 7th February, 1788, the king's commission for the government of the “ territory of New South Wales and its dependencies” was
THE FORM OF GOVERNMENT AND COURTS OF LAW.
read. By this instrument the colony was declared “to extend from the northern extremity of the coast called Cape York, in the latitude of 10° 37', to the southern extremity of South Cape, in the latitude of 43° 39', including all adjacent islands within those latitudes, and inland to the westward as far as the 135th degree of east longitude.”
At the same time were read the letters patent issued under the 27th George III., cap. 56, for establishing courts of civil and criminal judicature in the colony. Under these the governor, or, in his absence, the lieutenant-governor, was authorized, whenever, and only when, he saw fit, to summon a court of criminal jurisdiction, which was to be a court of record, and to consist of the judge-advocate, and six such officers of the sea or land service as the governor should nominate by presents under hand and seal. This court was empowered to inquire into and punish all crimes of whatever nature; the punishment to be inflicted according to the laws of England, as nearly as might be, considering and allowing for the circumstances and situations of the settlement and its inhabitants; the charge to be reduced to writing ; witnesses to be examined upon oath; the sentence of the court to be determined by the opinion of the majority ; but the punishment not to be inflicted, unless five members of the court concurred, until the king's pleasure should be known; the provost-marshal to cause the judgment under the governor's warrant.
In this court the judge-advocate was president (there was no provision that he should be a man of legal education); he was also to frame and exhibit the charge against the prisoner, to have a vote in the court, and to be sworn like the members of it. The military officers were to appear in the insignia of duty-sash and sword; they had the right to examine witnesses as well as the judge-advocate ; he alone centred in his person the offices of prosecutor, judge, and jury.
There was also a civil court, consisting of the judge-advocate and two inhabitants of the settlement, who were to be appointed by the governor, “empowered to decide, in a summary manner, all pleas of lands, houses, debts, contracts, and all personal pleas, with authority to summon parties, upon complaint being made, to examine the matter of such complaint by the oath of witnesses, and to issue warrants of execution under the hand and seal of the judge-advocate.” From this court an appeal might be made to the governor, and from him (where the property exceeded the value of three hundred pounds) to the king in council. To this court was likewise given authority to grant probates of wills, and administration of the personal estates of intestate persons dying within the settlement.