Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia and also A descriptive vocabulary of the language of the aborigines/The colony (15)
Jan. 1st.—It appears a singular coincidence, that of all days in the year our new Governor (Mr. Hutt) should arrive on the first, as if it had been, by preconcerted arrangement, carried out with the regularity of machinery. Yet it was wholly fortuitous. One may suppose that Sir James might have desired to wear out the year that he had proceeded so far with, and have so fixed the last day of his administration; but that the new Governor should arrive so as to begin his administration on the first day of the new year, and upon the very day of Sir James's abdication, was an appropriate coincidence, such as seldom occurs. I do not know why I took so much note of it. I verily believe it was for this reason—that having been a little hard worked, what with Bull's business and the Council's, and law cases and sessions, and magisterial enquiries, I had longed for a month's recess during the interregnum. But we were cheated out of it by this speedy arrival, and I had to remain in Perth of course.
On Wednesday Sir James and Mr. Hutt met, and had so much to say to one another that Mr. Hutt did not come to head quarters before Thursday morning, when we were all duly in waiting to receive him, and introduce him to the Council (ourselves), and examine his commission, and have the proper oath administered to him, when he did the same to us in turn. Then his commission and divers proclamations were read in public; then we had a short Council. And so that day ended, after having held (pro formâ) a Legislative Council also, and having sworn in some four new members, who have been admitted there. Well, next day (Friday), we had to open despatches and look into documents and so on; and, between whiles, to steal a peep into our private letters and newspapers. There were great doings in Fremantle on Friday—a dejeuner and a ball in honour of Sir James and Lady Stirling. I could not get down there before Saturday morning, when I rode down with our new Governor. Almost all the gentry of this part of the colony were there to take leave of Sir James. He was to have sailed on Saturday, but I prevailed on him to wait for the newspapers of the week, as, owing to the press being broken, none had been published the week before. We took leave of him publicly on his embarkation at 4 o'clock, and, as we raised our voices to cheer him for the last time, he was very much affected. I returned with the Governor that evening, and had much conversation with him. I rather like him as yet. I took one good night's rest, and yesterday (Sunday) I reached this quiet place once more. So I have worked up my story to the present day, and now I can go on pari passa.
Jan. 12th.—Have been in Perth since Wednesday. I give the natives up as wholly devoid of gratitude or good feeling. Last week, when they knew I was absent, having undertaken at their urgent entreaty to go and intercede with the Governor for the release of a prisoner (which I did and obtained it), the whole body of them encamped for three days and nights close to my wheat field, on Wright's grant, and carried off a great portion of the field of wheat. I think they must have taken near £20 worth. I came by chance on one of their encampments yesterday, where they had pounded the heads off the corn, and I was amazed.
Jan. 20th.—Have been in Perth all the week till this morning. What with Council and business of one sort or another, we have been much occupied. There were no fewer than five meetings on different subjects yesterday, which I attended—church and missionary meetings, and temperance meetings, and road meetings, and so on. It is strange that with all the ships that have come, prices are still as high as ever—£8 for a cask of pork; 1s. for a pair of high-low shoes; wine at 52s. a dozen (sherry), &c. Irwin has got out some wine from London; best white Marsala at 3s. 10d. a gallon, sherry at 4s. 3d., and port at 7s. We are obliged to have these things here, although I use very little myself, and, as a temperance man, I have not tasted spirit for more than a year past.
Sunday.—Mr. Mitchell was at Henley Park this day, but he was so tired that he begged me to read all the service for him, and, having read the full service in the morning with a long sermon, I found it quite enough for one day, and a very warm day it was. My grapes are now ripe. I have abundance, but they are soon over.
Monday.—Went up to see the flock on my new farm. They are at a place called Menolup. They will put up this week a stock yard, 20 yards square, made of mahogany post rails and close paling. They (the sheep) appear to do well there as yet; if they continue to do so all the year I shall have made a good selection, as, from the situation of the grant—having the brook which gives a command of the only water in that neighbourhood—I have command of a good range of pasture. It is nine square miles long, and another long narrow piece at the end of that again, nearly a mile long.
Jan. 26th.—Arrived here last night, but was so tired and sleepy that I could not write. We have had a busy week. When I went down I found all the people in arms about a fresh notice which our Governor was about to issue, which would have very materially affected many deserving settlers. The notice was that in future no stock which was not the actual property of the owner of the land would be suffered to count as doing the location duties of any land. The general plan here has been to give to some person who had stock a share of the land, if he would go and reside upon it for a sufficient time. Many would have been sufferers. We had an annual meeting of our temperance society on Thursday evening. I spun a long and a tough yarn. The people were quite amused with the mode in which I illustrated the manner of ardent spirits being first taken out of the hands of the medical men, and every man administered the medicine to himself, till at length he seemed perpetually to require a repetition of the dose. When I represented the doctor measuring it out by drops from his bottle to his patient, who soon became impatient, and at last snatched the bottle out of his hand and said: "Give us the bottle, we know how to help ourselves," &c. "Bravo," they cried, as if they had witnessed some dexterous feat. Then the description of the various ailments to which it was applied as a cure amused the meeting also. When a man was hot, when he was cold, when he was wet or dry, sleepy, or watchful, had eaten heartily or had no appetite when he had company, when he was lonely, when he arose, when he lay down; his morning, his meridian altitude, his splicing the mainbrace, his night cap; when he had eaten fresh pork, or salt pork, or fish, or goose, or pudding, and, when there was no other reason, then because he liked it, and because he could not do without it. And so on.
S—— has written to you to procure one or two servants from Fallowlea school. I partly expect that labourers and servants will come out in Nash's vessel—perhaps one for me. If you have not sent any to me, and if labourers have not come out by Nash's vessel, then I shall be bare enough, though at present I am not in want; but prices are very high. However, 50 in one year would make a great change, and be as many as it would be safe to bring at first. S—— has told you, I suppose, of Mr. Louis Samson offering to take charge of, and pay the passage of, as many as may be bespoke by the master here, guaranteeing the repayment in instalments within two years. It is a liberal offer. He is to get the land to which the married labourers introduced are entitled. If none has been sent by you, and you could get a good handy man, I should be glad to have one also sent to me by Mr. Samson's vessel. He is to be kept at the ship's expense from the day appointed for sailing, which is a great advantage. S—— has told you all the terms, which may save me writing. I would take one on the same terms, if you thought it advisable. I confess if others would bring them, it is pleasanter to hire just when and whom you please, which saves much trouble. Handy boys are extremely useful. We do not get on well for want of labour.
Jan. 28th.—Yesterday one of my boys succeeded in catching a young emu alive. It is a wonderfully tame, even silly thing—like a young turkey; by the way, the same boy also succeeded in shooting a turkey, which I had to-day at dinner. It was delicious. I intended to have devoted this day to writing letters, as the mail is to be closed to-morrow, but here came Mr. Shaw with complaints about natives and other things, and I had to mount my horse, and I have been out all day. Have been making an experiment in wine. Have made five bottles just to try it. I have nearly written my eyes out in answering 33 questions about natives, to which the Governor has required replies. I think I may send them to you at some time. Baptist Noel would be glad to get the sketches I sent, if you do not wish to make any use of them.
March 28th.—I have been so much occupied of late, and so little, at this place which I call my home, that I have got out of the habit of writing a daily journal as heretofore. My last was closed abruptly in Perth about a fortnight or three weeks ago. Since that time we have had one meeting of the Legislative Council, several Executive Councils, and a good deal of other business. On Friday last I dined with the new Governor. His private secretary, Mr. Cowan, came up here with me on Saturday, and stayed till Monday. He was much pleased with the country. Every morning, when I am in Perth, I devote a couple of hours with the Governor and the interpreter to the formation of a vocabulary of the native language. Our progress is slow, but deliberate. We have discovered a tolerably regular conjugation of their verbs, consisting of present and past tense and participle,—for instance, booma, booma-ing, boomaga, respectively stand for beat, beating (or beat), beaten. We are also trying to collect and arrange all the minerals of the colony, and have made a tolerable show already. Mr. Preiss, a German, has discovered, in the Toodyay district, something of a fossil nature, which, I think, is an "encrinite," and is the first of the transition or secondary formation (if it be of one or the other), which has been found here. This gives hope of coming to a coal formation. The Governor has offered a grant of 2560 acres to any one who may first discover a coal field.
The natives have been very troublesome and daring of late. They have killed several pigs in this neighbourhood, and were caught in the act of driving away 150 sheep from a flock next to my grant at York. Six of them have been arrested. The week now approaching—Easter week though it be—will be a busy one with me. On Tuesday we had a very long and important Legislative Council to prepare our Budget. I have also another Act to get ready in the meantime. Then on Wednesday there is our criminal sessions, with some heavy cases to be tried; on Thursday our Legislative Council, with all one's ordinary business besides. This is beginning to be rather hard work.
Good Friday.—It ought to be a hallowed day, but is it so? We had service this morning at Henley Park, and sacrament will be administered next Sunday by Mr. Mitchell. There has been much rain these two days past, and very high wind. I have some trees burning near this, and the sparks are driven by the wind at an alarming rate, considering that our roofs are thatched.
April 1st.—Yesterday, Alfred, the boy who looks after the sheep, managed to shoot two turkeys—the mother and the poult—close to the house. The mother weighed 12lbs.; the chick 6½lbs. It is a very good bird to eat, but "of all the birds in the air," as we used to say in our play, commend me to the barn door fowl, after all. There has been a cricket match played in Perth between the country people and the town people.
Friday night.—I am very tired. Have just come from Perth after a rather severe week's work. On Tuesday we sat in Executive Council till five o'clock; on Wednesday our sessions commenced, and I was engaged till six in the evening with a very heavy calendar. On Thursday I was at work at six o'clock in the morning, preparing for Council, as we had an adjourned meeting of our Executive Council at 10 o'clock, in order to prepare for Legislative Council at one o'clock. Only think of sitting in Executive Council to discuss and settle the heads of a Bill at 10 o'clock, which was to be read a first time in the Legislative Council at one o'clock on the same day. We had barely time to change our dress, and we sat then in Legislative Council till five o'clock. I thought I had done a pretty good day's work, and had gone home with the intention of getting some dinner, when I was sent for to conduct a heavy prosecution for burglary at the sessions; so I hurried to the court. The case had just commenced, and was not finished until after 10 o'clock at night. Schoales was engaged also in the case. I brought him home with me after the trial, and we got our dinner at 10.30 p.m.—fashionable. On this day the sessions were still continued but finished about midday, being the heaviest sessions we have had yet. There were twelve cases for trial.
Saturday.—The Governor brought forward the finance measures for the year on Thursday. His speech did not give any bright picture of our finances. He stated there was a decrease in the revenue, but did not mention the cause of it, which was very simple, namely, the fact of our principal revenue being derived from the duty on spirits, and no ships having arrived here for a long period of the year, that source became dried up for a time. The discussion on the second reading of the Bill is to take place on Monday fortnight.
We are busy ploughing here now, and preparing for seed time, which is approaching. The native Bellick, who lived here so long, has come back again quite tired of bush life, and looking very thin and haggard. He says he will stay the winter with me. There is a good deal of alarm among them about our proceedings, as we have no fewer than eight of them prisoners now, and warrants against seven besides. The natives speak of several lakes and swamps dried up this year that never were so before, in their recollection.
Sunday.—Mrs. Smithers died suddenly last night. It was on her grant that a number of Colonel Latour's cattle were at the time of what is called the "great flood" here, in the year 1830. The stock yard was on the low meadow ground, near the river. The flood came suddenly; some one ran down and threw open the gateway, and 26 head of cattle ran and went into the bush, and have not been recovered since.
Monday.—Sent off 100 wethers to-day to Mangaga (as my place on Ellen's Brook is mostly called). There is plenty of feed there, but it is scarce here. Shortly after breakfast came a man to request me to read the burial service over the remains of Mrs. Smithers. They have chosen a picturesque place, not far from the house, for her burial place. That is the third time I have read the service in this colony. There were about 30 persons present.
I was not a little surprised and amused this evening when some hubbub occurred among the dogs, who ran off to a distance barking after something. An emu started off along with them, and tried to keep pace with them, making a great fuss, kicking with its feet, and doubling its neck and swaying its body from side to side, as if enjoying the run most heartily.
Friday night.—On my way up here to-night my horse stumbled. I pulled him up sharply with a severe bit, and he came head foremost to the ground, pitching me right over, and then, to mend the matter, he rolled over me. I thought I was made into a pancake, but luckily got off with some knocks and bruises. The poor horse seemed very much astonished, and looked quite penitent, as if at a loss to account for it, so I patted his neck, and he rubbed his head against me, and we made friends and went on again. I fear that we shall become hot house plants here. This day the thermometer was 65, and people were all complaining of cold, and looking quite blue. We thought that degree of heat tolerably warm at home. We still look out for vessels from England, but they seem to be like "the watched pot which is slow to boil." Two native boys have been brought prisoners from my place near York for being concerned in stealing sheep from a neighbouring farm—luckily not from mine. I suppose, like all other thieves, they keep their own place clear. They knew me immediately by name, as I am now generally recognised among them as "wurdagaderak"—which, being interpreted, means "one having authority." We have only finished the letter A in our vocabulary, having got 218 words or forms of expression in that letter.
Saturday.—Another cool pleasant day. I put in no fewer than fourteen panes of glass to-day, which were broken in the kitchen and different places. 1 broke two, through unskilfulness in the use of the glazier's diamond. I have now in this neighbourhood 12,119 acres of land, of which I mean to surrender to the Crown about 9000 of the back land, for which I will get an allowance of 1s. 6d. an acre in a purchase of a fresh selection of land. The land back here, after the first three or four miles, is mere mahogany forest on the Darling Range of hills, and not available either for pasture or agriculture. I think of examining the ground above my grant on the Ellensbrook, and taking it in continuation of the farm, if the ground be worth it.
April 19th.—Worked "double tides," and managed to get up here last night. A vessel, called the Strathisla, has touched here from Calcutta. By her we have a flaming paragraph taken from an Indian paper about the Hindoo sailing from Liverpool for this place. I suppose she is close at hand, and that this is Nash's vessel. Strange that we should hear of her through India first.
April 20th.—I have been to visit my farm at Mangaga. The sheep are thriving well. There are several sorts of bushes there which they browse upon like goats. There were no less than six people there; two sawyers (Johnny Eakins being one of them), two workmen, and the wife of one of them, and the shepherd. The place begins to look more clear and habitable. It is cheerful-looking also, having a view of the Darling Range of hills in front, and at no great distance. Some nights ago the natives were very troublesome there. One of the men enclosed a light in a paper lantern, with a hideous face upon it, stuck it in a bush, and roused the natives, who were greatly alarmed, declaring it was some "boylya" or witchcraft coming upon them from the North, and they left the place in dismay in the morning, looking for the certain death of those who remained in the neighbourhood. I have bought a winnowing machine from Mr. Wittenoom. I could no longer do without it. I must pay upwards of £20 for it.
April 26th.—The Hindoo, with Nash and his party, has just come in.
April 29th.—I intend this as a continuation of my last, which is still on hand. Whether this will form a separate letter, or whether I shall enclose one leaf in the other letter, will depend upon circumstances. I have not said a word yet about Lieutenant Grey, who has just returned from an expedition to Sharks Bay. He has had a very interesting trip. The newspaper will give you the outline, which I will fill up a little, when I see what he has given in the paper. We have got into a plan here of doing everything by committees and meetings. Such things were quite new to me until recently; now we have so many of them that one would require an almanack to keep them in mind. On Thursday last we had at noon a meeting of the Executive Council; at four a meeting of the Church Committee, which continued till half-past five; and at seven a meeting of the Temperance Society, in which I seem to be expected to take a conspicuous part. Whilst on my way to the meeting I was trying to think of something that I might say if I were called upon, but it was all confusion; I could think of nothing, so I determined to say nothing; but one of the labouring class having got up and spoken against the society, I was called on to answer him, and I had to do so. I began rather stiffly, but soon warmed to the work, and ran on for a good half hour, the ideas thronging upon me thicker than I could get quit of them, and pushing me on till I could hardly stop myself, when, to my no small amazement, I was greeted with a burst of applause, whereas I was more prepared for hisses, as it is a very unpopular subject. I was told I had made a considerable impression, and shook the opposition greatly. My object was principally to show that it was a mistake to suppose that spirits were necessary, especially in a warm climate, and to appeal to their own experience of the bad effects which its use had brought about here.
Such a long time elapses before we get a return that there is time to forget what we wrote, but I made sure that when a vessel came from Singapore, which seems to us to be the next thing to home, I would have had some Irish oatmeal, Irish pork, and Irish (or Scotch) herrings; but it appears that the season was very bad in Ireland. It is rather tantalising. The Will Watch came from Calcutta.
Wednesday.—After a long search one of Lieutenant Grey's party has been found, and brought in alive, but four others are out still, and there is great uneasiness on their account. Another party has started again to look for them.
May 9th.—I have just heard that Dr. Walker (one of Lieutenant Grey's party) has made his way to Perth, in a deplorable state. He was supported along the street by two people. A party had gone out to bring in the rest. I was out all this day endeavouring to get some natives to go out, and had intended to set out myself to-morrow morning to look for them.
May 12th.—I went out 40 miles to the north, looking particularly for a lake called Bambanup, about which there is said to be a fine tract of ground, and also just now a great congregation of ducks, swans, pelicans, &c.—so much so that we did not take any meat with us, only a little flour and tea and sugar. But we could not find the lake, and so had to content ourselves with tea and "damper." One night we had "damper" and a glass of wine, night having come upon us before we could get water. We traced the Ellen's Brook for near 40 miles, and found it to be the drain of extensive level plains of land flooded in winter by some streams running from the hills, and which run even now at the end of summer; but the water subsides in the earth before reaching the plains at this time of the year. I was rather disappointed with the land on the Brook, but there is a good deal of limestone, having rank vegetation. I only returned this evening about four o'clock.
Monday.—Mr. Priess, the naturalist, has called a species of the anigozanthus after me, and has sent me a droll letter with it, written in his German-English. He has also called a new genus after the Governor "Huttia elegans." These are to be figured in the work of Sir F. Hooker, of Glasgow.
May 14th.—I brought this down to-day, as it is said the vessel will sail this week. I have seen Dr. Walker, of Grey's expedition, who has just come in. You never saw such an object, mere skin and bone, and covered with sores and bruises. A ragged, haggard figure was seen hobbling towards the town with a bit of blanket over his shoulders, and it was with difficulty that the previously stout sturdy figure of Walker's former self could be recognised, when reduced to such a shape, guise, and size. He is in a weak and troubled state, both of body and mind, like a person just recovering from a fever. He fears greatly for one or two of the party who are still out. Those who went in search of him are expected back to-morrow.
Friday.—Mr. Singleton has purchased 10,000 acres from Mr. Peel, of choice land, well situated, for £1,250. It is on a river called the Dandalup, which falls into the Murray river. He gets both sides of the river for six miles up from the mouth. It is navigable up to his place, which is not far from the sea. It is the cream of Peel's land, but it was well worth Peel's while to make a sacrifice to get such a settler in his district as an encouragement to others, for his immense tract of land has been heretofore almost entirely vacant.
May 19th.—Nash came up to-day to Henley Park. He has nearly closed for the purchase of a grant called Golden Grove, on the Swan, below Guildford—a pretty place yet unoccupied. I hope he will get it. The party gone in search of the remainder of the exploring party have not yet returned, and great fears are enterained for their lives. Mr. Grey has again gone out to look for them, and he is not quite strong yet.
May 22nd.—Those who went in search of the exploring party have just arrived, bringing in the three survivors—one young man having died two or three days before this party found them. His name was Smith, a young man of large expectations, who joined Grey's party more to while away the time than for any other reason. The poor fellow was found a mere skeleton, having died rather from exhaustion than from actual starvation. The incomprehensible thing is that the party never seemed to think of continuing to walk southwards along the beach, which a moment's reflection must have told them led on to Fremantle. It was 32 days from the time that Mr. Grey had left them. He got on very well, and why the others did not come on can only be answered by supposing that men under such circumstances lose all presence of mind and power of reflection.
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July 13th.—I have fallen out of my habit of regularity, and find it difficult to recover it. We have advanced here to such a pitch of civilization, as to have private theatricals. The play of "Love, á la militaire." was performed on Tuesday night to a fashionable audience, among whom not the least delighted spectators were the young folks of the town and vicinity of Perth. Most of them having never seen a play, were wonderfully amused. On Thursday a rumour arose that fifty sheep or upwards had been driven away from a flock near Guildford by the natives, and there was great excitement in consequence. A party is gone out in pursuit, but what is the result I know not. It is singular that not one of the murderers of the woman and child on my farm has been taken or met with since the occurrence, and yet parties have been out frequently. We are no match for them. They can hide in a manner that baffles all our search. The only way to match them is to make use of them against one another. I did not get home from Perth before Friday night. We are here still busy getting wheat into the ground, and also some potatoes. Only think we have to give £2 a cwt. for potatoes for seed.
July 14th.—This was a very wet evening. I had all sorts of "moving accidents by flood and field" coming home to-night—pitch dark, raining heavily, ground swampy, river flooded, boat cranky, ground slippery, slipped in the river, hat fell off (new one too), but I picked it out of the water before it sailed far. Oh! what mud, and slop and splash.
July 15th.—Worse and worse again. It rained all day and I got wet through twice. One of the partners on my farm on Ellen's Brook has taken fright and given it up, so we had to get another partner. He is to pay £29 for the share of the retiring partner. Have you got from Sir James Stirling a number of stories illustrative of the manners of the natives I sent to you by him?
Wednesday.—The natives upon the Canning River have committed another murder on a shepherd boy of Mr. Phillips, and have driven off a number of sheep. The Governor seems to be not a little astonished. His theory was that such things could only occur at remote stations, and he seemed not very sorry when they did occur, because his theory was supported thereby; but seemed to have no idea that such a thing could possibly occur within reach of the capital (His Excellency's residence), and where settlers are tolerably thick. He sees now the necessity for action, not theory. His blood seems to be up, and he has now endeavoured to raise and equip five distinct parties, all to act in different places and towards a given centre. In the meantime news has reached him that a suspicious party of the natives is in the hills somewhere to the east of the head of the river (as it is called hereabouts, and to the north of this). He has requested me to try and get up a party, and scour the hills and reconnoitre. I have just arrived now at eight o'clock, and must get my gun in order, and make some ball cartridges.
Friday.—I was on horseback yesterday at daylight, and took a ride round the settlements to gain information, and get a native guide. With some difficulty I succeeded in getting my old friends Weenat and Tomghin. I had many things to do in collecting and arranging the party, so that it was the middle of day before we could start. I had with me Mr. Shaw, two soldiers, a constable, James D——, and the two natives. We were all on foot, as no horse could well go where we proposed to do. Each had to take his own provisions and entire equipment for himself. I took nothing but some bread and meat in my pocket, a worsted shirt, another pair of socks, and the pilot's hood, which, with the gun and ammunition, I found to be quite enough. It was two o'clock when we fairly started, and from that till this evening we had walked 39 miles, having walked to-day not less than 24. The ground was in some places very rough with rocks and fallen timber, and many rather steep hills. It was pretty hard work, and reminded me something of our old times of grouse shooting. We did not see a native all the time though we saw many fresh tracks, and perhaps twenty huts in different places. Yesterday evening, not long before sunset, our guides saw a fire at several miles distance. We hurried on to it over hills and dales at a breathless speed. It was supposed to be the fire of Wilban, who escaped from prison after conviction for murder. We approached the fire with great caution and circumspection, as it was now dark, when, to our ludicrous mortification, it turned out to be the remains of a burning tree, from which the natives had turned out an opossum. It served one good purpose, however, for as we could go no further in the dark, we availed ourselves of the ready-made fire, and halted there for the night. The early part of the night was fine, but it commenced raining afterwards, and continued so till morning, to our grievous discomfort. I got my head on a stone for a pillow, but it was rather too high, and I could not bruise it down, so I experienced the inconvenience of carrying too high a head at the expense of my neck. The morning soon brightened us up, and though walking through the wet bush was not comfortable, yet the day was very favourable. We have all reason to be thankful that in the very midst of winter we could spend a night out with little covering, without experiencing any bad effects—if it be not premature to say so.
July 26th.—Two other parties have also returned from pursuit of the natives, without having seen any. They must have gone to some out of the way place. I came home last night. This morning Mr. Preiss, the German naturalist, came here, and Mr. Irwin. We all set out on an excursion to the hills to botanise. We visited a very picturesque glen about five miles away, where there is a waterfall about 100 feet high, but there was not much water in it. The locality was rich in specimens of plants and flowers. At the very foot of the waterfall were two huts, which, it appears, formed the residence of Wilban; all the time we were looking for him at a distance. We passed the head of the fall on our way out to look for him, but had no suspicion of his being there at the time. It is a singular thing that they have now so much reliance on our good faith that Wilban has sent his young son to a settler's house to remain and mind cattle during his father's outlawry, and Coondebung (against whom there is a warrant also), has sent his wife and child into the settlements, whilst he escapes from justice in the bush. He desired her to say that he could not feed her, as he was afraid to hunt, whilst the white people were unfriendly. They now feel the want of bread to be a privation.
July 27th.—Mr. Preiss, the botanist, was out to-day again in the hills behind this, and he came here for dinner, laden with specimens, and having a native woman also carrying another load of specimens. The natives are quite surprised at his collecting the jilbah (shrubs), and are very curious to know what he does with them. I purchased two shells of emu eggs yesterday for nine duck eggs.
I have not told you the natives appear to have some fables respecting the stars, as well as the more classical ancients had. When I was last in the bush in search of the natives, the stars were shining brightly at night. "What star is that?" I said to Deenat, pointing to Venus. "Oh, that is Julagoling," was the answer. "What is it—a man, or a woman, or what?" I enquired. "Oh, very pretty young woman," was the reply. "Where is her husband?" I said.
"She has no husband; she has had some children, but she always kills them; she is very powerful in magic. Ah, there she goes off to the West, now to practice her enchantments upon us. Do you see that star in the East? that's Diram, and that in the North East? that's Diram also—that in the East is Diram the woman, that in the North East is Diram the man. Do you see two little stars above the woman there? Those are her two children, she let them go astray; you see they are at some distance from her. Their uncle came and asked where were the children, and when she could not find them he was so angry that he drove a spear right through her body. You see it there sticking through her sides. That star on one side is the nose of the spear, and that on the other side is the tail of the spear." What a strange fable, but not more so than many fables of the Romans.
July 29th.—Very busy getting the ground dug about the garden, a little snugged. I suppose I shall have fifty vines bearing fruit this year, and half a dozen peach trees, and as many fig trees; we are quite at a standstill for want of potatoes for seed.
August 3rd.—Lieut. Grey has been with me for two days, and we have had some very pleasant little excursions. Yesterday he and Mr. Leake and I went to visit the waterfalls, to examine the geological curiosities as well. Mr. Preiss and I had examined the botanical features principally. We found that the little stream fell over a vein of basalt which intersected the granite and had protruded through it just at the fall, but was overlain by the granite a little higher up. The decomposition of the basalt makes a better soil than the granite, being generally a rich dark red earth. We found also a number of land shells about the rocks near the face of the cliff. These shells are rare in the colony. I do not know that I have seen any before. I had much conversation with Grey about his former discoveries. He speaks of one thing which has strengthened my belief in the existence of the inland sea. From a hill skirting the coast of Shark's Bay he looked down upon what he conceived to be an inland sea lying to the East. He and his party hurried down to it, but to their surprise found that the appearance of water was the effect of mirage. They walked 15 miles, in a South East direction (I believe) on what was evidently the still moist bed of a scarcely dried up sea. There was the ooze and slimy mud, large blocks of coral, large shells of the conch species, and islands with their South East side steep, and the other sides gradually shelving. As far as they could discern with their glasses the appearance was the same. East South East and N.E. they saw no limit to it. Recently some natives brought large shells to York, which, they asserted, were brought from the N.W. On being questioned as to where they were got they said it was a place like the sea, but a ship could not go to the sea by it. My conjectural solution is this—that there has been a great inlet or estuary connected with the sea at Shark's Bay, and that some elevation of the coast has taken place which has cut off the communication with the sea. There are many proofs of volcanic elevations in this country. This inlet cannot well be supplied from the neighbouring sea at Shark's Bay, for the hills between it and the sea on which Grey stood were 300 feet high (apparently sand hills). It is a most strange and puzzling question, and my solution may be very far from the true one. Do you remember that Daubain asked me if, when I was out to the East, I had seen the "great estuary?"
Monday night.—There was a christening yesterday at Major Irwin's, and this day there was a ceremony of laying the foundation of a small voluntary church for the Missionary Society, erected on their grant near Guildford. The Governor was there and a good many people.
August 16th.—Ten native prisoners contrived to make their escape from Rottnest Island in a boat. It is quite incomprehensible how they managed to do so. The only remaining inhabitant of the island has been brought out of it, and will soon be ready to leave it, when the entire establishment will be put upon a different footing. I went down to Fremantle with the Governor on Thursday to make enquiries about it. All the people there were engaged in looking out for two whales that were said to have been made fast.
Sir Richard Spencer, who was Government Resident at King George's Sound, has died. I believe that Lieut. Grey (the explorer) will fill his post temporarily. At the Sound there is great want of supplies. They have not had a ship there for ten months. The Champion is to be despatched there immediately. I am busy in getting up a good deal of fencing near the house here, in place of some very dilapidated-looking ditch and bank. There has been some very heavy rain in the course of the week, but the river is scarcely running even here. The pools are not near full yet at York. I expect to fallow some 12 acres of ground this summer, principally in the swamp, which I have nearly succeeded in draining. The grass on it is of a very short and thin nature, not worth the trouble of cutting. An annual crop of tall flags, of which the root is manufactured by the natives into bread, grows upon it; but I expect to make it produce a better crop than that. I had a petition to-day from a man living two miles away, that I would send my sheep to eat off his young wheat, which was growing too rank.
August 26th.—We commenced sheep-shearing to-day; they had been washed in my absence. I have got one bale ready packed. Another day would have finished the small flock which is here, but heavy rain came on yesterday, and we must wait to let the wool dry. The wool which sold for £100 in London has cost me just £51 to make it ready and sell it—i.e., all expenses. We are all in anxious expectation of a ship from England, as two ship's guns were heard on Saturday evening, and we have many conjectures. I have been making little additions to the account of the natives, which I send you. It may be amusing. Recollect, if you do not care for it, send it to somebody—say Baptist Noel, from me. Grey is about to publish a vocabulary, which will reach you in time. I am to undertake to see it through the press. The Governor is threatening to impose a very heavy tax to support a police to quell the natives.
August 30th.—The ship was the Elizabeth from India, or rather from China. She had silks and tea and sugar on board, and touched here on her way to Sydney.
Saturday.—Spent a busy day getting some fencing finished near the house, and putting a trellis work on both sides of a walk, with a pleasant shade amidst clustering grapes. The growth of everything is surprising within the last week. My potatoes, some of which I was almost despairing of, have suddenly lifted up a trap door, as it were, and put their heads up; vines have started into leaf; peach trees all loaded with fruit; almond trees covered with blossoms. The heat of the sun operating on the moist ground has a wonderful effect.
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Sept. 23rd.—On Friday last the Shepherd arrived from England. By her I have one letter only. It is said that she forgot, or wilfully left behind, the mail and all her ship's papers, and the consequence is that there is the greatest confusion and anxiety, no one being certain whether he should expect goods or not by it. You ask about some of the natives, our old friends. Weenat is now married, and when that happens there is not much to be done with them—they are by that step wedded also to savage life. He is still very friendly, and I count him a staunch ally on any occasion of danger; but he has other cares now to occupy him. Tomghin, after much fighting for her, has at last obtained a wife, and has become a little settled in his ways. Weeip is growing old and losing influence; Geear the same. One native boy is regularly domesticated with me, and I think will not relapse, as he wears clothing, and is delicate. Bellick's beard has come; in other words, he is coming to man's estate, and will not much longer submit to the regularity and restraint of civilised life. He has gone off now on some frolic. If food be scarce, or the weather very bad, he will come back. Speaking of weather, we have had a most disastrous occurrence in the colony. On Saturday there was a very severe gale, and, of all times in the year, on the very night of the equinox. Three or four vessels were lying in the most exposed situations; one—the Elizabeth—has been wrecked. She had sailed long ago from this, and put back again in consequence of unfavourable weather. The mail from the colony was put on board of her, and I suppose it is lost. This is very provoking. As far as regards my own letters, I feel quite vexed; for there was a long interval comprised in the journal, and I have no way of recalling events. I have been suffering some losses of sheep lately: two on their way from York, two by native dogs, four after severe dressing for the scab, and two others missing tonight—I do not know how; I lost fourteen at York, and many lambs. I have brought the flock to this place, so that I have now 450 here—rather too many for this farm.
Sept. 26th.—Came from Perth to-night. It appears that both the Shepherd and the Caledonia had drifted and gone ashore. The Caledonia has been got off safe, but the Shepherd is in a very perilous position.
Sept. 27th.—What has put it into your heads that I am on my way home? Have I said anything of this in my letters? I seem to be tied down here more fast than ever. Not contented with Executive Councils every week, the Governor is about to call another meeting of the Legislative Council, on the 14th of next month, to lay on other taxes. This keeps me still more busy. He was about to lay a tax upon land, but I fought stoutly against this tax at present, as land is not productive generally in the colony as yet. I proposed a duty on goods sold by auction. All these taxes are to maintain a police to quell the natives. Now, is it not too bad that the burden of conquering the country should be thrown upon us? To keep twelve mounted men would cost £1700 the first year. This will appear almost incredible to you, and I dare say you will be cutting off an 0 from the above and think it £170; but, no, the horses would cost £70 each, and the keep and pay and clothing of man and horse per year £80 each.
Sept. 28th.—There was a desperate affray amongst the natives at Perth on Thursday. One of them has been wounded in the back, and he says the spear has gone nearly through his body, another through the shoulder into his armpit. Another native had his leg cut through; Maylup has four wounds, and several others have slight wounds.
The night before last I was awakened by loud screams. I sat up in the bed for some time before I could recollect myself. The screams were renewed, and seemed to proceed from some part of my own premises. I could not find readily any part of my garments in the dark, so 1 ran out as I was, and found in the yard a native hut erected, in which a man had been asserting his conjugal authority over his wife in a rather severe manner. I pulled their hut down, quenched the fire, and turned them out, not knowing how otherwise to interfere. This woman had been partly the cause of quarrel a few days before. The old man accused her of a desire to abscond, whilst she retaliated, and said he was "yetit-yetit"—a cross old fellow. Next morning I found them back in the same quarter, and I turned them out again. I had hardly done so when two young fellows started out from behind a bush with their spears poised, and gave chase. One of them pinned the husband right through the thigh with his spear, almost into the door of my neighbour, whilst the other carried off the woman. But the cries of the man brought up his friends, and the woman was recovered. It is wonderful how little they seemed to think of the matter. The spear was an unbarbed spear, and the act was done merely to prevent him running after the abductor. The whole thing seemed only as a joke among them. Mago is recovering from his wound; he was struck in mistake by his own friend, and he has a right to inflict a wound of exactly the same sort in the same place upon the other, if he choses. I am anxious to know whether he will do it. This is the lex talionis in perfection.
I wish there was some great railroad between this and you, Oh! that the tedious horrible gap of four or five months voyage could be condensed, or compressed, or done away with in some way! Eight or ten months clipped out of a man's life at any time of life is unendurable to think of. You see how the leaven works, but I think it is in vain for me to long to visit you.
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October 11th.—The Fox, by which I sent my last, only sailed on Tuesday. On Monday (the day before) I had been up at Ellen's Brook getting my flock there washed, and drawing off and marking those belonging to me and to the tenants. In washing them, they managed among them to let three fine sheep of mine be smothered, having been forced into a small fold and trodden under foot. There were several others also trampled down, but they recovered. The plain fact of the matter was—there was too much rum going, and, when men stand in the water sheep-washing, it affects them more readily.
I have advertised a second farm to be let there, and have had an application already. No wonder, for no rent is demanded for some years, and they have their proportion of the sheep which they keep besides. Think of having to give 4000 or 5000 acres for nothing, and to have to coax people to take it on the terms. I was looking this evening also at a snug little farm on my grant here, which I shall let to somebody in the nature of a cottier tenant, who will agree to work for me when I want him. There may be from six to ten acres of arable ground on it—I mean rich alluvial meadow ground. I have just had a fence put on between that and the next neighbour, who has purchased a small piece from Mr. Brockman. The fence is a quarter of a mile, running back from the river, and cost £10, being of only posts and two rails at present. A ditch and bank at the bottom is required to make it a complete fence against sheep; it now is sufficient against cattle, being about 4ft. 6in. high to the top of the post. The natives have speared my poor friend Weenat very badly at Guildford. I have sent him an invitation to come here and I will support him till he recovers. He is to come in a boat. I have got five bales of wool ready to send off, and expect four more from Ellen's Brook.
Oct. 12th.—I rode up this morning to the farm on Ellen's Brook to see the men shearing the sheep, but some rain having come on they had to desist, and I got the flock driven down here, so that I have now in the fold upwards of 700 sheep, and a rare bleating they keep up, as their lambs were left behind to be weaned.
There came a rumour to Perth the other day that 150 sheep were driven off from the grant next mine at York by the natives. There was quite a consternation; but it appears that they were all found again about two miles off, and as no natives were seen, it is supposed that a dog may have scattered the flock, as 200 were missed at first, and 50 came back of themselves at night.
Oct. 19th.—There was a very violent wind yesterday from the south. It nearly unroofed my barn, and this day I hear that the Shepherd was near being on shore again, and the Elizabeth actually driven on shore. I have finished packing all the wool. I have eleven packages. I cannot call them all bales, for one is only a bag, and another about three-fourths full. Began hay harvest to-day; have three scythes at work.
A great number of Perth natives came to-day, about some mischief, I suppose, as the women here seemed greatly frightened. One of them took refuge in the house. I stopped them at a distance, and would not let them approach without giving up their spears. After a little they crossed to the other side, but were driven off from that by Mackie.
This day we had another Executive Council, afier which I managed to ride up here, and am quite tired of work for this week. I pressed Singleton into the service at the public meeting, and he turned out a trump card. We are to have the third reading of the bills on Monday next, and in the course of the week the Governor intends going for the first time on some tour to see the country.
Friday.—Men busy mowing and haymaking, but, singular to say, we have had a good deal of rain about this time, contrary to what is usual. There are a few ridges of potatoes here that look as well as I have seen them do in Ireland. The breach is concealed by the top, on either side, which was always considered a good sign in my time. There is very little natural hay to be found now—the grounds formerly covered with it are now fed down by cattle or ploughed for crops. It is all artificial, and the oat hay is the best we have, it renews itself and remains in the ground like grass.
Friday.—Had our last Legislative Council on Monday; an Executive on Tuesday, and another also appointed for to-day, so that I could not get away before this night. Dined with the Governor.
I had a gentleman from Sydney breakfasting with me yesterday. He had driven over 800 cattle from the Sydney settlement to South Australia. His party was attacked on the River Murray by an immense body of natives—he computes them as 500; but by boldness and good management they beat them off, and shot several of them. He says immigration to Sydney is overdone. The land is raised now to 12s. per acre; few or none buy at that; squatting is very precarious and inconvenient, as you must go to such a distance for land that is vacant. South Australia he considers an utter mistake, as to the principle of its establishment. Ruin is staring many of the settlers in the face. People are as yet buying and selling land as you would buy shares or stock on the stock exchange, but no one doing anything on their grants. Fine town houses but no farms. One or two Sydney people who have their eyes open and know what they are about are making immense fortunes there. So are a few storekeepers, but that is all. He and his partner are going to settle here. He thinks matters are about to take a favourable turn for this place, and wants to buy land on speculation.
Nov. 7th.—The Governor went on an excursion on Monday last, and probably will not return for another week. I propose in the meantime to take a little trip myself to look out for some land which I am entitled to take. We had a meeting of the temperance society on Tuesday last. I had a long argument with several opponents. It is not a very popular cause with the gentry, but it is intended for the people, and is making some progress with them.
Nov. 11th.—Returned to-day from a very pleasant excursion. The weather was favourable—not too warm. Went about 13 miles to the westward, and struck upon a lake nearly five miles long; then continued for nearly 20 miles along a chain of locks and swamps, upon the margin of which generally speaking, there is some very rich grass upon a light limestone soil. I see in Irving's "Tour on the Prairies," he mentions that each person had two blankets and a bear skin, besides a tent for shelter. I carried a blanket strapped on the front of the saddle, and we made some temporary shelter of bushes or bark, and a fire in front of it. But the native lad who was with me, was literally all but naked, and did not complain much, even at night. Whilst we were at one of the lakes a native joined us who had a snake 7 feet 4 inches long, which he had killed. I bought the skin from him; he eat the body. The only bad effect from these excursions is that from the exposure or from the change of diet, any cut or wound festers, and does not heal readily, but a little medicine sets all right again. We went about 83 miles going and coming.
The men are busied in clearing trees. They have found in them many grubs which the natives eat. The grub is a large maggot, which turns into something like a locust. Can this have been the food of John the Baptist in the wilderness? Found some fine plants of native tobacco, and have stripped some leaves to dry them as an experiment.
Having now come to the end of my paper, I shall commence upon a new leaf on my return, so I need not make any conclusive adieus. We are beginning to think that some mischief must have befallen the Black Swan, or she would have been here long since. What a long interval always intervenes between the promise and the fulfilment of the arrival of a vessel.
Nov. 16th.—You will see, I suppose, in the newspaper of this week an account of a dreadful accident which happened at King George's Sound, so I need not dwell upon it. There was a storm and some thunder at Perth on Thursday night, and a good deal of rain, which continued at intervals until Friday, and even hail showers. On Friday night there was a ball at Mr. Brown's, where dancing was kept up till near five o'clock in the morning, and I came home to-day (Saturday) very tired in consequence of it. Found the men busy clearing ground and making a most beneficial change in the appearance of that part of the farm which I bought from Lamb. Our newspaper editor wanted me to give him an account of my last short excursion, but, as I had seen nothing and had only gone over ground frequently traversed before, I declined. The Messrs. Samson have built a very large fine house, which is to serve as a dwelling-house, store, auction-room, &c. It will cost above £3000 when finished. They gave a house-warming ball and supper on Wednesday night, and invited 150 people. Almost everybody was there, and dancing kept up till sunrise. The Governor returned from his trip that evening. He is greatly pleased with his excursion, and most surprised both with the people and the progress of the settlers. This is something from one who appeared to have great prejudices against us at first. He is going out again to King George's Sound in about ten days, so I hope to have another little trip in his absence. I only got home to-night.
Monday night.—We had a large number of strangers at Church yesterday. Mr. Mitchell preached here in the morning, as it was a sacrament Sunday. There were 15 communicants. Among the strangers Messrs. Montgomery and Creery were there. My barley will be all stacked to-day. The men are charging 30s. an acre for reaping wheat this year. I have nearly 50 acres. Only think of having to pay any sum like £75 for cutting a crop of wheat. I am getting my crop of potatoes dug now; they are very good. I have excavated a cellar, and am putting them into it.
Nov. 30th.—This was an exceedingly hot day. I went to a place called Galapgolup, about two miles north from where the farm is on Ellen's Brook. My object was to see if a certain piece of land, which had been intended as the site of a house by some persons who were to have gone there next month, was within my boundary or not. I believe it is mine, as near as I can guess by measurement by pacing—the only way we can do in the absence of surveyors and instruments. I learned to-day the way to procure the crayfish as the natives do. In a swamp you see a hole with earth thrown up, much in the way that you see it with the large worms on the sea shore. You must put in your arm and scrape with your hand till you find it perhaps two feet down. It is like a small, very small lobster, and can bite very smartly.
Dec. 2nd.—Oh, such melting overcoming weather these two days past; a very strong land breeze blowing from the S.E., but hot as if from a furnace. This heat has come upon us all at once, for hitherto it has been singularly cool. The men dug some ridges of potatoes to-day, which would have done no discredit to Ireland. Six of them weighed four pounds; indeed a great number of them would average three quarters of a pound each. I think I drank more water to-day than I ever did on any one day in my life before.
People speak of squatting now—that is, of grazing on any unlocated ground, and, when that is purchased, going to some other place. It would be an uncomfortable roving sort of life without any fixed habitation, yet that is the way many have made their fortune at Sydney. But we have not servants here who would lead that sort of life. The Governor went off yesterday on an expedition to King George's Sound by land; I dare say he will not return for six weeks.
Dec. 7th.—Intimation was sent to me last night that the natives were gathering in great force at the head of the river, and a request that I would go up there. I got three soldiers this morning and went up, accompanied by Major Irwin. Made a loud harangue to them, and told them it was the Governor's order that all should remain in their own districts, at harvest time particularly. After some time they all dispersed. They had been about to kill a child of a man called Dunomeria, who has been very friendly, and has lived constantly with some settler. Some one gave him a gun, and he stood out and braved the whole of them, and when they showered their spears upon him, he cocked the gun, and, in his confusion, one barrel went off, and they all fled in a moment. They complained to me of it, but I told them they had no right to come about our houses to fight and kill one another.