Page:An account of the English colony in New South Wales.djvu/51

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1788.]
19
OF NEW SOUTH WALES.

perfectly convinced that nothing short of the greatest necessity could have induced M. de la Perouse to take such a step; as he had been heard to declare, that it was among the particular instructions which he received from his sovereign, to endeavour by every possible means to acquire and cultivate the friendship of the natives of such places as he might discover or visit, and to avoid exercising any act of hostility upon them. In obedience to this humane command, there was no doubt but he forbore using force until forbearance would have been dangerous; and he had been taught a lesson at Maouna, one of the Isles des Navigateurs, that the tempers of savages were not to be trusted too far; having, on the very day and hour of their departure from that island, had the boats of the two ships, which were sent on shore for a last load of water, attacked by the natives with stones and clubs, and M. de l’Angle, the captain of the Astrolabe, with eleven officers and men, put to death; those who were so fortunate as to get off in the small boats that attended on the watering launches (which were destroyed) escaped, but not without many wounds and contusions. It was conjectured, that some one of the seamen by ill conduct must have provoked this outrage, as the natives during the time when the ships were at the island had lived with the officers and people on terms of the greatest harmony. This was not the first misfortune that those ships had met with during their voyage; for on the north-west coast of America they lost two boats, with their crews and several young men of family, in the surf.

Notwithstanding the pressure of important business at Sidney, the discharge of religious duties was never omitted; divine service being performed every Sunday that the weather would permit; at which time the detachment of marines paraded with their arms, the whole body of convicts attended, and were observed to conduct themselves in general with the respect and attention due to the occasion on which they were assembled.

It was observed with satisfaction, that many couples were announced for marriage; but on strictly scrutinizing into the motive, it

was
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