Page:An account of the English colony in New South Wales.djvu/48

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16
[1788.
ACCOUNT OF THE ENGLISH COLONY

for dressing flax, &c. and provisions for six months; before the expiration of which time it was designed to send them a fresh supply.

Norfolk Island is situated in the latitude of 29° South, and in longitude 168° 10' East of Greenwich, and was settled with a view to the cultivation of the flax plant, which at the time when the island was discovered by Captain Cook was found growing most luxuriantly where he landed; and from the specimens taken to England of the New Zealand flax (of which sort is that growing at Norfolk Island), it was hoped that some advantage to the mother-country might be derived from cultivating and manufacturing it.

Houses for the reception of the stores were begun as soon as sufficient ground was cleared for that purpose; and it was found most to the advantage of the public service to employ the convicts in taskwork, allotting a certain quantity of ground to be cleared by a certain number of persons in a given time, and allowing them to employ what time they might gain, till called on again for public service, in bringing in materials and erecting huts for themselves. But these unfortunate people for the most part preferred passing in idleness the hours that might have been so profitably spent, straggling into the woods, or visiting the French ships in Botany Bay. M. de Clonard, the captain of the Astrolabe, (who brought round some dispatches from M. de la Pérouse, which that officer requested might be forwarded to the French ambassador at the court of London by the first of our transports that might sail from thence for Europe,) informed the Governor, that they had been daily visited by the convicts, many of whom solicited to be received on board before their departure, promising (as an inducement) to be accompanied by a number of females. M. de Clonard at the same time assured him, that the general (as he was termed by his officers and people) had given their solicitations no kind of countenance, but had threatened to drive them away by force.

Among the buildings that were early erected was an observatory on the western point of the Cove, to receive the astronomical instru-

ments