Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

corn of the settlers was gratuitously ground, were stolen in the absence of the miller. On another, with a superstition worthy of the middle ages, the authorities compelled a soldier suspected of murdering his comrade to handle the dead body, in order to see whether it would bleed, and so accuse him.

In 1798 the great Irish expedition in search of China took place. We laugh at it, yet it was not more foolish than many expeditions and theories patronized in the 19th century. It is also memorable for the foundation of the first brick church, built on the model of the stables of a citizen's mansion, with clock tower.

A return made in this year shows 6,270 acres in crop with wheat or maize, a much larger quantity of arable land in proportion to the population than is now cultivated in any of the Australian colonies. Among the more industrious settlers, George Barrington, the celebrated pickpocket, figures as the owner of twenty acres of wheat, thirteen sheep, fifty-five goats, and two mares: he was a constable.

In the following year the colony was again threatened with famine, partly owing to the deficiency of live stock, and partly to the incurable barrenness of the Sydney district.

In 1800 Captain Hunter was superseded by Captain King.

Under Governor King the Female Orphan School was founded, and the first issue of copper coin took place. The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, the first Australian paper, was founded by a prisoner, George Howe, and published by authority in 1803. The insurrection of prisoners, two hundred and fifty strong, armed with muskets, broke out at Castlehill, on the 4th March, 1804, and was defeated in fifteen minutes by Major Johnstone, of the New South Wales Corps, with twenty-four men. Sixty-seven insurgents fell on the field ; ten were tried and five hung.

A penal settlement was formed in Van Diemen's Land by Captain Collins. In the first instance he proceeded to Port Phillip, but unfortunately landed on the eastern arm, where there was a deficiency of water ; and being, as most military men are, a bad colonist, he abandoned it and proceeded to the Derwent. Had he made his way to the Yarra Yarra River the probability is that Sydney would have become the second settlement; and, with the profusion of white slave labour then available applied on the fine agricultural land of Port Phillip, it is probable that by this time a population of five millions would have been established there.

1806 was signalized by the great flood on the River Hawkesbury, on the banks of which the principal grain cultivation of the colony was carried

RECOLLECTIONS OF PRISONERS.

49

on. The Hawkesbury in ordinary periods winds in a strangely tortuous course through a deep valley, between the precipitous banks above which, on the occurrence of heavy rains, it rises as much as thirty feet in a very few hours. These floods are not periodical. Until 1806 none of importance had occurred; the people had settled down on the rich "interval" land, the deposit of former overflowings. Crops, houses, and many colonists were all swept away in one night, without warning. Famine was the immediate result. The two-pound loaf rose to 5s.; wheat fetched 80s. a bushel, and every vegetable in proportion. A serious flood had occurred in 1801, but this far exceeded it. Indeed it is difficult to teach caution in such matters. A flood which occurred in the Maneroo district in May, 1851, turned into lakes twenty feet deep two townships carefully laid out by the Government surveyor, besides destroying several farms, drowning a number of settlers, and a tribe of blacks.

But this great flood on the Hawkesbury caused eventually a complete rearrangement of the cultivation and occupation of that district.

Calamities, according to popular prejudice, seldom come single ; it was certainly the case in New South Wales in 1806, for the clock tower fell, and Governor Bligh arrived. Captain King resigned his command on the 13th of March.

RECOLLECTIONS OF PRISONERS.

On the Hawkesbury and its tributaries the first successful agricultural colonies were planted, and there dwell a few representatives of the first fleeters.

These settlers, who are chiefly known by nicknames, such as Old Red Jacket and Smashem, are all in comfortable circumstances, some positively wealthy. Among the last was Mr. Smith, better known as • Smashem,' from the Thurlow-like energy with which he spoke his mind, to high and low. Smashem had been free almost ever since he arrived in the colony, and had never been 'in trouble.' He was an old man, with a large-featured, handsome, military sort of face, of a red-brown complexion, shaved clean. His dress consisted of a red flannel shirt, with a black bandana, tied sailor fashion, exposing his strong neck, and a pair of fustian trousers. Out of compliment to the lady he put on a blue coat with gilt buttons, but, being evidently uncomfortable, consented to take it off again. He refused to see the party until he learned that it was the Mrs. Chisholm;' and is usually rough and rude to those he does not respect.

D

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 man recovered, 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

FAMINE AND FLOGGING.

51

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 58. out of a tent.-Collins, p. 27, History of New South Wales.

of Who came out as a political exile for having been concerned in Irish treason, was appointed surgeon to the Norfolk Island settlernent. 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. I have also got 80 acres—30 acres, 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!"

Henry Hale.

was

“ WELL'S CREEK, HAWKESBURY RIVER, 4th Oct., 1845. “I arrived in the third fleet on the 16th of October, 1791 ; it 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.

« AnteriorContinuar »