Page:Last of the tasmanians.djvu/307

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274
THE LAST OF THE TASMANIANS.

For a time the new settlement prospered, or seemed to prosper. Mr. Clark wrote to me cheerfully: "They are now comfortable," said he; "have a fall supply of provisions; are able to till their gardens, sow peas, beans, and potatoes; anxious to earn money, of which they know to a certain extent the value. They are thankful to the Lieutenant-Governor and the Colonial Secretary for removing them from Flinders Island, and to Dr. Milligan for all the trouble he has taken. The women can all make their own clothes, and cook their food by either boiling or roasting. Their houses are comfortable and clean. They are as contented as possible." So far this is all satisfactory.

But the Hobart Town people began to doubt the wisdom of the plans pursued at the Cove, particularly when Mr. and Mrs. Clark had gone to their rest. At the end of 1854, there remained of the original forty-four, only three men, eleven women, and two boys at the station. But the colonists found themselves charged with the following little bill for the establishment that was rent free, with wood and water allowance: the expenses for that year stood at 2,006l. 8s. 8d. Curious folks divided this by fourteen, omitting the two boys, and got as a result nearly three pounds a week for each. The Protectorate was then pronounced too extravagant, and a more suitable outlay was ordained.

When I visited Oyster Cove in 1859, a sad spectacle met my eyes. I simply now record what I stated to Dr. Nixon, Bishop of Tasmania, on my return to Hobart Town. I went to him, knowing him to be really interested in the Aborigines, and aware that a long and painful illness, which subsequently led to his resignation of the episcopate, had prevented his attention to their claims. Blame might naturally be attached to somebody. The blight had fallen upon the Natives, and produced the disorders, doubtless, which appeared in their midst. Mr. Dandridge, located with them, seemed kindly disposed toward them, but evidently regarded himself as a sort of ration-distributor only, being, as he told me himself, convinced that he could do nothing to arrest their progress to the grave. He and his wife were then keeping a school for the children of the farmers and labourers outside of the Reserve. Instruction was considered hopeless for the Blacks. But might not a little more have been done?

I saw a miserable collection of huts and out-buildings, the ruins of the old penal establishment, profoundly dirty, and