Page:The Coming Colony Mennell 1892.djvu/32

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III.


Hardships of the Early Settlers—Champagne Cases as Flooring Boards—Dissipation of the Public Territory—"Eyes" of the Country picked out—Australind—The Convict Influx saves the Colony—Lethargy of the Colonists—The Early Governors—The Crown Colony Régime—Give Down­ing Street its Due—A Country without a Pauper—Fifty-four Thousand People too few—Colonisation Schemes and Land Grant Railways.


The colonists who landed on 1st June, 1829, did so with very little conception of the hardships which lay before them. They and their immediate successors were of a superior class socially to the majority of the immigrants who have formed the staple of the influx into the other colonies. They brought with them champagne in cases, which had ultimately to be used as flooring boards for their primitive dwellings, and carriages, in which, instead of driving, they had to sleep during the first weeks of their novel and disillusionising experience. Sir James Stirling, who commanded on the China station during the Crimean War, and who became a Lord of the Admiralty, had after his expedition in 1826 described the country in the neighbourhood of the Swan River as a land flowing with milk and honey, and evidenced his own bona fides by inducing a number of personal friends to avail themselves of the liberal land grants given by the Imperial Government in exchange for the introduction of capital and labour into the infant colony. He himself accepted land in lieu of salary—though he afterwards got both land and salary—and large allotments were given for every immigrant introduced by the early settlers. The latter were also subsidised in the same way for all property which they brought with them, and as the "property" was assessed at a very high rate and the land at a very low figure, vast tracts of virgin country were alienated to a few persons before the colony got a fair start. It is needless to say that the first settlers did not