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decided character; and I must slide the following anecdote in here, while I am writing of him. Being, on one occasion, stopped by bushrangers, and deprived of every thing worthy their notice, with his horses to boot, he coolly turned round to the knights of the highway, and said, “Gentlemen, I am very shortsighted; I cannot easily supply the place of the eye-glass you have taken ; you can see pretty well without it, apparently; be so obliging as to return it to me.” The robbers were so surprised and amused at the ludicrous coolness of the speech, that they instantly returned the glass, “ being happy to oblige him.”
It is quite customary, in this life in the woods, for an acquaintance, in passing a station (as homesteads are called) to dress himself in the settler's garments, as a fresh rigout, and leave his own till some other occasion; nay, I have heard of the dress so left, being found on the back of a second caller as better than his own, and so passed through different hands before its original proprietor saw it again. This disregard of neatness of dress, however, is to be regretted. The bush requires all appliances to keep up the distinction of ranks; and the total disregard of all appearance now in fashion tends to destroy the respect due to difference of position : that, and the abomination of an Israelitish beard, would become Siberia better than the forest.
It is truly disheartening, on first coming to this land of promise, to hear the reports respecting the state of the colony. The failures, and expectations of failures ; the deplorable difficulties of nine-tenths of the settlers ; the embarrassments of the storekeepers ; and the inconveniences to which many men of acknowledged wealth are temporarily subjected from want of ready money. Indeed all these calamitous circumstances raise a degree of doubt
DISTRESSED STATE OF THE COLONY.
in some minds, whether the colony is destined to re
The terrible crash in America; the stagnation of trade in the manufacturing districts of England; the colonial liabilities for the bounties to emigrants; the diminished and diminishing receipts from the land sales, consequent upon the price being raised from five shillings to twelve shillings per acre; the sudden doing away, almost at the same moment, of the assignment system, by which the amount paid by the settlers for wages is ruinously increased; the frightful extent to which speculation has been carried on by the settlers in overbuying their capital, and trusting to the forbearance and assistance of agents; and the over-importation on the part of the agents and storekeepers themselves, have one and all contributed to bring about such an amount of distress as the colony certainly has never before had to struggle against since its first establishment ;—not even in the year 1827, when sheep were half-a-crown a head, and bullocks thirty shillings. The assignment system was then in full operation, and land was at five shillings per acre, upset price. The settlers were of a different class ; surer in their hold of the sources of profit; more moderate in their habits, and less speculative. Wool was then more in demand, and there was less of it. In short, there were better grounds for hope of speedy reaction in that season of affliction than now, and their spirits were upheld. At present, all is depression, doubt, and suspicion. Fifteen, twenty, and even fifty per cent., are being given for mioney. One or two money-lenders are making their fortunes rapidly; and auctioneers and attorneys have their hands full of lucrative, but destructive business.
It is, however, a golden year for emigrants, or others possessed of a ready capital. More, I believe, may be
done with one thousand pounds, cash in hand, just now, than with five in former years.
cannot, I confess, view matters with the gloomy hopelessness so commonly entertained. Many of the causes I have assigned for the evil's existing, are of but temporary duration, We have seen such a crisis in our own country, and have seen her rise from it like the phænix. American affairs may improve, and their demand for the raw material may be renewed, as well as for the manufactured. The manufacturing districts of England will, doubtless, be, ere long, again in activity, and demanding the wool of Australia, which is the best in the world. tem of assignment may be re-established by the Government, under remodelled regulations; the public bonds improved ; and the settler's communication with his port facilitated. Cooley labourers may be introduced, which would greatly reduce the enormous expense of wages, and the fleece may yet be made to cover all expenses of the station. The fleece first raised Australia to importance, and the fleece must support it. The colony is too young; it has scarcely stamina to recover from this blow, except by means of that which is its staple commodity. But, if the trade in wool be duly fostered, there appears every hope of rallying from the present depressed posture of affairs.
Men anxious to discover some remedy for the present disastrous state of things, are talking of the yet undeveloped capabilities of Australia,—its vineyards, canes, tobacco, &c. This is all well, and such projects would be admirable in prosperous times; but these, town allotments, and all such modes of profit, possess no immediate exchangeable value, produce no exportable commodity; and without such, it is not very apparent how matters can go
on. The life-blood of the colony was ever, and is still, its wool. Let its character in the English and foreign markets be sustained, (which has lately, I am sorry to say, from its being ill got up, been retrograding,) and the flock-master and all linked with him be supported by cheaper labour, and better internal communication; and then, with a demand for his produce, will return prosperity throughout all the branches of the community. I state these views with diffidence, from my as yet short and therefore imperfect knowledge of the affairs of the colony; and if, after a longer residence in this country, I see cause to alter them, I shall candidly confess my error.
30th October.—This is the first day since my arrival that there has been a brickfielder, accompanied by a hot wind. The first is an absolute tornado of dust from the interior; the latter is the air heated by passing over the inland sands. Both are most disagreeable; but I confess, such is the effect of over-drawn pictures of evil, that, hateful as this fiery wind is, it is not so terrible as I expected; indeed, I was asked how I felt under it, before I knew it was that scourge. The brickfielder is a far greater annoyance. It blows the dust and sand through every crevice, and even into places where it would be supposed impossible that anything could penetrate; on land it is suffocating and annoying, and to vessels near the shore, it is a most fearful dispensation, from the violence of the terrible accompanying gale. The heat and glare from the white sandy streets and houses in these hot suns are overpowering, certainly; and yet I walked up and down the whole length of the town to-day twice, which amounts to about eight miles,—the principal street, George-street, being nearly two miles in length. This I could not have
START FOR THE BUSH.
done in a less pure and elastic atmosphere. We start for the wilderness to-morrow. I have purchased two horses and a gig, as the best mode of travelling in this climate.
31st.—This morning I placed in Mr. R.'s hands all my papers and things that I valued, and did not wish to expose to the “ barbarian eye;" — and, wishing my acquaintances adieu, left Sydney for the bush.
1st November. - Parramatta. - After a delightful drive in my gig, with my Australian on horseback by my wheel, I reached this town, which is the second in importance in the colony, just as the sun went down. It is now the beginning of the Australian summer, and everything around me is fresh and blooming. Our road was bordered on either side by the bush all the way, except spots here and there picked out and partially cleared of wood, with wooden and sometimes turf cottages, resembling those one sees in the wilds of Lochaber. Miserable as such dwellings with their open crevices must appear to our northern notions, they are quite sufficient for this mild climate; and their neat appearance, (for many of them are whitewashed,) made them look wonderfully comfortable and picturesque too as the night drew on, when the light shone through their crevices, and brought them into view in the forest. Before day closed in, we passed one or two really sweet places, with neat and pretty gardens and vineyards around the cottages and paddocks, as the adjoining cleared spaces are called; but the continual croaking of frogs, the tormenting everlasting chirping of myriads of locusts and insects that cover the trees by the way-side, the dust of the road, and, above all, the melancholy impressions produced by the never-ending succession of public-houses, with the tumultuous scenes around their doors, greatly