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 (11)
Perth, February 1835.
Monday, Feb. 2nd.—I have had a regular series of visitors here to-day since twelve o'clock, when Marshall McDermott called, and took a drink of wine and passed on. Next came a Mr. Anderson, to whose farm I think of sending my flock for a little while. He dined and drank tea, and sat a long time, and whilst he sat in came Mr. McDermott on his return and took a seat also. Shortly afterwards came Mr. Shaw, and then John Mackie, who took tea, and has just now left, at ten o'clock. Mr. Shaw mentioned an extraordinary circumstance which had just occurred at his house. A native called Coroor, who had been out looking for some stray goats belonging to Mr. Shaw, had lain down, in proximity to the fire, on Mr. Shaw's kitchen floor, and had fallen asleep. The native Tomghin was in the kitchen also. Mr. Shaw happened to have his head down looking at Coroor as he slept, when suddenly he saw a spear strike him about the collar bone, and pierce right into his heart. The man was dead in an instant. This spear was thrown by Tomghin, who said he did it in revenge for the death of his brother, Yedemera, who was shot long ago by the soldiers. Are they not an extraordinary race? Shortly afterwards another native, close to Burgess's house, speared poor Toodyeep through the side, so that it is thought she must die. The man seemed perfectly unconcerned after having done it. No wonder they are not very numerous.
Tuesday, Feb. 3rd.—Rode down to Guildford to examine the roads, bridges, &c. Called on Mr. Tanner, and dined there. I wanted to buy some salt-cellars from them, but they wanted 18s. for a pair, and 50s. for a worn pair of plated candlesticks, and as much for some old spoons of date 1719; but as you may buy new ones for less, I did not speculate.
Wednesday, Feb. 4th.—Tomghin seems to be surprised that we should be angry about his killing the man in Mr. Shaw's kitchen. He says it is their law, at their fires, and when the man is asleep; that he had been urged to do it by the black men; that he must yet kill another; that that man's friends have certain opportunities for revenge which he must give, and if they kill him it's all right, if not they must be friends. Such is his account of the affair—given with perfect nonchalance, as a matter of course.
Thursday, Feb. 5th.—Mr. and Mrs. Tanner called, and dined here, quite unexpectedly. I was sitting at my bachelor's dinner when they came. They had been making their farewell visits along the river. They soon remove from this quarter. I regret their departure very much.
Friday, Feb. 6th.—This was the day of our agricultural meeting, and I rode to Guildford to attend it. About 25 persons were present.
The country at the Hotham river, in the interior, nearly 50 miles east from Leschenhault inlet, is spoken of as a fine country. The air is cooler than here, the grass is yet green; kangaroos are so abundant and tame that they were shot as often as required, and cockatoos so numerous as almost to prevent conversation by their noise.
Sunday, Feb. 15th.—Have not made any observations for some days, not having anything particular to say. One thing interesting has occurred in the meantime. Johnny Eakins has come here. I had some of them employed in cutting down overhanging branches of trees, which threatened my cow yard.to me, and I have hired him at 35s. a month. His father and mother will be gratified to hear this; he is now a great strapping fellow, able for any work. Rumour has it that the natives at the Murray have been troublesome again, and that a misunderstanding has occurred over the hills at York with some natives also. They are still friendly
In considering your proceedings at home, nothing strikes me as a more surprising, more useful, more ingenious contrivance than the hydrostatic bed which I read of in the papers. What a luxury it appears to us to lie rolling about, as if in the water! You have so many new ideas, new inventions, and new words since we left, that I suppose we should find it difficult to understand your conversation now. It would not be as of yore. I have been greatly interested in reading Babbage's "Economy of Manufactures," which the Southerns sent to me. I wonder if it is usual with you to say, "Run to the clock and tell me what is the square or cube root of such a number." It would be droll to see school-boys, instead of hammering away at their "twice two's four, twice three's six," all busied in striking chimes upon calculating clocks, and working their sums upon machines.
Monday, Feb. 16th.—Went to Perth this morning. There was a great public meeting, convened by the Sheriff, for the purpose of considering the state of the colony and preparing a memorial of grievances, &c.
Tuesday, Feb. 17th.—Finding no other means of getting a constant supply of fresh water, I have commenced sinking a well beside the kitchen. I fear I must go down very deep—perhaps 40 or 50 feet, and must build it up with stone. Commenced ploughing, also, to-day; it is hard work, the ground is so hard.
Wednesday, Feb. 18th.—Got a reading of De L'Orme, from Lady Stirling. I devour a novel now with great interest.—A small vessel, the Eagle, has come from Van Diemen's Land, bringing stock and a little provisions. My wool is all ready to go with her to the Mauritius.—Our weather is very changeable now; sometimes hot and sometimes quite chilly, so I have got a twinge of vile rheumatism in my back. Thermometer, at noon, 82 deg.; 10 p.m., 75.
Thursday, Feb. 19th.—The native "Gongul," who formerly threw the spear at me, came here to-day. I put my hand to the back of his neck, and turned him out. Capt. Meares also called here.
Saturday, Feb. 21st.—The well is sunk to the depth of 27 feet, and we have come upon water, but not much. Have been busy quarrying stone for building it up—hard red sandstone (iron stone). Would you believe that I have had a valentine sent to me?
Sunday, Feb. 22nd.—John Mackie dined here to-day, and I cannot write much, as he sits beside me.—The Governor has returned, and I must go to Perth to-morrow.
Monday, Feb. 23rd.—Rode down to congratulate the Governor on his return, and, behold, it was a false alarm. He had not then arrived. S— was there also to attend a meeting to consider about the establishment of a Bank.
Tuesday, Feb. 24th.—Went to Guildford to examine a bridge, and took the opportunity of visiting my flock, which is now there. Some are affected with a blindness of the eyes.—A person called Solomon has a small establishment now near my grant, on the other side of the hills. I think of sending a part of my flock there, He proposes to take them at the rate of £25 per hundred for the year. He has just imported some sheep, and a fine-wooled ram.—I have my men busied in planting potatoes. It is an experiment to put them down at this time of the year on dry ground. I have made use of the natives in breaking the hard clods with mauls. Two boys, rejoicing in the euphonious names of Tunagwirt and Manyumerra, have been quartered here by their father, with a sort of hint that his family was large enough without them. I think I shall try to keep the first of them. He tells me that white men call him "Tommy," which is certainly more familiar and easy than that long native name.—Just after I returned from Perth, Letty came with a face of woe to tell me there were but two pieces of beef in the barrel. Awkward announcement!
Thursday, Feb. 26th.—Sent J—— out with the dogs this morning, and he returned at 10 a.m., bringing a kangaroo of 36lbs. with him; a very seasonable supply.—A gentleman thinking of going to the Hotham river has made me an offer to take my sheep to keep for a fifth of the increase. This sounds tempting, but it is far away to send them—perhaps 140 miles. The expense of getting them here for the butcher, or carrying the wool, would make it almost as dear as the third of the increase would at York.—Paid a man to-day 30s. for thrashing thirty bushels of barley and winnowing it.
Saturday, Feb. 28th.—Observing the door of the meat safe open this morning, at a very early hour, I examined it, and found the native dogs had paid it a visit and carried off 28lbs. of fresh kangaroo and a roast fowl, thus leaving us without a day's provisions, for my beef is just out. J—— had been out in the morning with the dogs, but without success, so there is nothing for it but to take the gun and go pot-hunting. I killed three brace of pigeons and a cockatoo.
Sunday, March 1st.—The Governor arrived on Thursday last. I had not heard of it till to-day, when a mounted policeman came up expressly to order me down to a Council meeting to-morrow, at 10 a.m. I must rise early. I dare say I shall have to stay during the week, for the discussion of our ways and means will come on this week in our Legislative Assembly. For some time past, we had been expecting here an increase of military force from Van Diemen's Land, under command of a Major Dease. To-day we have received the enormous addition of eight men!—but no major. There are growing now in front of this house some specimens of what are called here "Caffre melons"—something between a pumpkin and melon. I weighed one yesterday; it was 5½lbs., the same one to-day weighed fully 7lbs., thus increasing more than one pound in weight in one day.
Tuesday, March 11th.—Was kept in town all last week, and did not reach home till Sunday, and had to start next morning back again, and here I am in Perth still. Meanwhile we have had several ships arriving from different quarters. By one of them, the Eagle, I have this day shipped 936lbs. of wool to Edward Fletcher, in six bales of different sizes, and one box. Two of these bales are for you, containing 106lbs. There is quite a mania for sheep now in this colony. Four hundred have arrived this day in a vessel, and 1000 more are daily expected. Of these I have engaged 100, which will cost me about £2 a piece; but I understand that they are asking as much as 55s. a head for those which have arrived now. There are 30 calves also, at £11 a piece.
March 26th.—There has been some distracting irregularity about my movements and occupations lately, so that I have lost the connexion of my journal. A most important measure for the colony has been hanging over the Legislative Council for some time, namely, the "opening of our budget,"—that is, in plain terms, laying before the public the plan for revising the revenue and adjusting the expenditure of the colony for the ensuing financial year, which commences with us on the 1st April. This is the first time it has been done here, and the public mind was very anxious about it, as there were some items of expenditure proposed by the Government which were not thought very useful or judicious by the colonists. I think the Governor has some misgivings about it, as well as the public, he fearing lest the Council should not concur in his Estimates, and the public doubtful whether we should dare to act with impartiality.
On Tuesday the Governor opened the Legislative Council for this purpose with a long address, which he read to us, and he then laid his Estimates before us, and moved to have us all appointed a committee to examine them. I seconded his motion, and made a stout speech on the occasion, which you will see, I dare say, in our colonial paper of next week, which I shall send to you, for I saw "a chiel amang us takin' notes, aud feth he'll print it." I think we have set the public mind a little at ease on the subject, by asserting our independence of any influence but the conscientious discharge of our duty. In committee, we have dissented altogether from the Governor's Estimates, and proposed to substitute others, the effect of which is nearly tantamount to "stopping the supplies," if he rejects them. The principal difference is in the expense of maintaining a body of mounted police, which he established. We found that our means would not allow us to spend so much upon them as he proposed, with justice to the other more urgent wants of the colony; so we reduced that item and increased others.
I have hastened home to get a day or two of relaxation. I lost my way last night on the road homewards. It was very dark and rainy, and my horse was a young one, and, had it not been that I got a glimpse of the constellation Orion, from which I calculated the direction, I must have wandered till daylight. Fortunately I got home at ten, wet and cold.
A ship has touched here, and brought a quantity of wine called "Cette wine,"—I think made in France near the borders of Spain. It is a very nice light red wine, between a port and claret body and flavour. For this we paid at the rate of £15 a pipe. I bought a ¼-cask (about 25 gallons); bought also a ½-barrel of pork (1 cwt.) for £3; and three cwt. of beef for £5 12s. Od. The pork is delicious (Irish); beef indifferent (from Sydney).
I was witness to a great row among a number of natives at Perth yesterday morning. The occasion was this. It appears that among themselves the ground is parcelled out to individuals, and passes by inheritance. The country formerly of Midgegoroo, then of his son Yagein, belongs now of right to two young lads (brothers), and a son of Yagein. Some trespassers went upon this ground, lighted their fires, and chased the wallabees. This was resented by the young lads, and, as it happened, there was a large meeting of natives at the time, a general row commenced, and no less than fifteen were wounded with spears in different parts of the legs,—to which they seem to confine themselves as if by some law among themselves. Sometimes two picked men opposed one another, and seemed to us as if they were about to engage in deadly fight. The whole scene was interesting, even amusing, for they appear to think nothing of a thrust in the fleshy part of the leg. One singular thing occurred. Tomghin was there, and Migo, who is his intimate friend or brother. They fought on different sides. Tomghin wounded the chief of Migo's party, who called out to Migo peremptorily to spear Tomghin. Migo ran up to Tomghin, who held out his thigh to receive the thrust of the other without either flinching or returning it. In our eyes, the worst part of it seems to be that their chief object apparently is to spear the women. The men try to frustrate these attempts with their spears until they are separated. Such is their mode.
28th March.—My old native friend, Doorbup, has been staying with me for some time. He has become an expert shot, and has killed for me a number of cockatoos and pigeons. He greatly gives the preference to the "cap gun," as he does not like the flash from the pan of the flint gun.—It is a most singular thing that a man in taking over a flock of goats to a station beyond the hills, the other day, lost no less than 53, from the sudden illness with which animals have been seized here. It is a fearful thing, and we know not the cause nor the remedy. Some say that bleeding is found useful.
April 3rd, Friday.—I must be down to Guildford on Monday as Commissioner of Roads, and to Perth to Council on Tuesday. I go to Mr. McDermott's to-morrow to see the sheep and make arrangements about their going away; from that, on Sunday, to start for York on Monday.
April 5th.—Rode to Mr. McDermott's yesterday to see the sheep. They are just lambing, so I fear I cannot send them now. A native boatman, Moly Dalebin, brought me a note this evening, saying that Mr. Henty had just arrived, bringing 930 sheep.—I have engaged 100 from him. This will exhaust all my available finances. I have to go to Guildford tomorrow to examine bridges, and to the Flats to examine and report upon their state.
April 11th, Saturday.—I only got home late last night. On Monday, on reaching Guildford, Mr. Roe had not arrived, so, after sending back the horse and waiting in vain for him, I had to walk to Perth. The weather was very hot. On Tuesday I went down to Fremantle, where I had despatched J—— to make enquiries about the sheep, which I had very bad accounts of. Three miles on this side of Fremantle, I found my brave J—— with 99 sheep, which looked not very bad under all circumstances. He had lost one on the way, so far. Mackie had bought 50, and had lost no less than 5 (dead) in the same space. The sheep are very weak; you can hardly imagine the state of a flock coming from a ship. On the second day, they reached Perth, rested there a day, and have this day reached Edwards' on the other side of the river. There are of course several casualties, and some sick left behind, but I hope to have 95 for £192; of these 24 are only lambs. You see what struggles and difficulties we experience in getting a nucleus flock here. Mr. Henty, who bought them by contract, declares that every sheep stands him here at 45s., and that his loss will be heavy by them. However, he is selling his potatoes at £28 a ton, to make up for it.
In walking up yesterday, I called at S——'s and found him busied in erecting a verandah of sawed timber all round the house. Mr. Bull and Lennard are anxious to see Lennard's brook about 40 miles north of this and they wish me to accompany them. We propose to set out on Tuesday, accompanied by two natives.—A bullock of Mr. Ridley's died suddenly. The news has spread among the natives, and they were hurrying off this morning to share the feast.—I have got the frame work of a verandah put up round the back of my house, and shall get it thatched as soon as I can get the straw.
April 21st.—I have been out on an expedition since this day week, and only got home at 11 last night. Bull, Lennard, and myself—the two former having servants also, set out for Lennard's brook. My flock is to go on its way to York to-morrow,—that is, as many as can travel. I wish I had sent them long since, for the food here is so short and dry that the ewes have not milk, and I have lost many lambs already and several sheep of my old flock. I have also lost ten of those last purchased, but shall think myself fortunate if I escape with 10 per cent. loss.—I have had a letter from Mr. Dunnage, Hatchell's friend, who was here when I came, but is now a clergyman in England. Do you ever see or hear of Dale? He will be interested in the result of our visit to Lennard's brook, which we had passed before in company together. Tell him the natives at Lennard's brook recollected our former visit; that the' word "roging" which they used on that occasion means a stranger. They meant that they wished to see the strangers, and the word "rogo" which they used, when they wished us to go in a certain direction different from that which we took means, "There, or that way." The Perth natives now say that the Perth white men speak "English plenty," meaning broken English, but that I speak like a Waylo man,—that is, a man from the North. Waylo is the name of the district we visited.
Sunday, 3rd May.—Have been in Perth for most part of last week, and only returned last night. I am in painful suspense as to the result of sending the sheep over the hills, for news reached Perth yesterday that Dr. Harris in taking his over, at the same time with mine, lost 80 sheep and two bullocks by death. It is a most alarming circumstance. The cause of this mortality is as yet unknown. Some attribute it to a poisonous plant, some to overdriving, some to want of water. All are at fault, and the sickness is so sudden that there is scarcely time to apply a remedy, even if it were known. The same rumour hath it that mine had passed Dr. Harris's on the way, and were seen within twelve miles of York with only a few deaths among them.
I am much amused with the patent for "grumbling" which you have conferred upon me; I think I have made the most of it on some occasions, and manufactured largely of that article. Nothing is more satisfactory than a good hearty grumble; it is like the safety-valve of a steam engine which lets the superfluous power escape harmlessly, though noisily, and which would be destruction if pent up unliberated. The yard and kitchen look like a hospital with sick sheep and lambs. The dogs and pigs fare all the better at this time, for I boil the dead ones for them. It is an ill wind, &c., and I suppose I have lost 30 or 40 lambs, and perhaps 15 sheep between the old one and the new flock,—another grumble. Planted half an acre of potatoes long since, but scarcely any have come up—another grumble. Sowed a large quantity of turnip seed, cabbage, &c., and not a single grain had come up yet, though a month sown—another grumble. Cows seem to be increasing in number here; they are devouring some wheat which I sowed early—still another grumble. See how readily by practice I can manufacture that patent article!
May 5.—Have my flock in four different places now, some over the hills and some at a grant next to this; the ewes and lambs at Coulston (Mr. Brown's place), and a few still remaining in hospital here). Found a sheep dead in the river to-day. They approach the edge of a steep bank to get at the grass, and tumble in, and are too weak to get out if not assisted.
Wednesday, May 6th.—Another sheep dead to-day; but it had got its thigh broken some time ago. This is compensated by the birth of two lambs. "Child at the breast" is a phrase among us which signifies a state of helpless infancy. Apropos, there was a fine little native girl helping its father and mother to-day to break clods of earth, and I was not a little surprised to see it afford ocular demonstration that it still sought support from its mother. In short, they frequently appear to rear one child until another is ready to take its place, even though there be a long interval.
May 7th, 8th, and 9th.—Down in Perth. The Dublin Packet has arrived. She has brought very few letters for the colony. I have received a number of Manchester, Liverpool, Dublin, Derry and other papers, and only one letter! J—— returned on Friday night from York, and tells me I have lost but five sheep and six lambs on the way; but poor Dr. H—— has been sadly unfortunate, having lost 93 sheep, 14 goats and 3 bullocks, and, to complete the misfortune, two of his men whom he had left behind on the way to look after a sick bullock were attacked and severely wounded by some natives, and had a most providential escape for their lives. The spear struck one just beside the back bone, and glanced along the ribs and into the flesh towards his breast. The other was struck on the breast bone, which turned the spear along his ribs and under his arm. On reaching home on Saturday night I was greeted with a bad piece of news,—a dog belonging to one of the natives had destroyed four of my sheep, and a fifth was in hospital. The same dog has been notorious here, but seems to bear a charmed life, for many have fired at him, but without effect. I was much inclined to bring the soldiers upon the owner, and seize and detain him until he should give up the dog, but, it being my own case, I did not like to act as a magistrate, and so I sent notice to our police about it. However, in the meantime I hear that one of Mr. Bull's men fired at the dog yesterday, and struck him with a charge of shot in the side, and perhaps he may die. The owner is a daring fellow, the very image of Yagan. It was this man who killed the soldier here about a year ago, and he has often said if white man would shoot his dog, he would spear white man. The dog destroyed seventeen fowls in Mr. Bull's yard on the morning he was killed.—Yesterday morning I drowned one of my cats for misbehaving, and the natives fished it out of the river and eat it, saying it was "all same possum," and from the look of it I should say it was better, for I think an opossum as vile eating, but in the colony we are not very squeamish.—I have had three men these two days branding the sheep with a hot iron, dressing them for the scab. M—— was here to-day, modestly requesting me to lend him 40 or 50 bushels of wheat, and he would repay me after next harvest. We had several showers of rain to-day,—the first we have had for a long time. All vegetation on my ground is at a standstill for want of it.—I have been reading many Irish newspapers, all very dull. I wonder if our little colonial Gazette reaches you. I send it regularly; it is very small for the money—like most other things here.
Wednesday, May 6.—A native dog attacked the flock yesterday, and would not be driven away by all the shepherd's exertions, but at last caught one by the throat and so worried it that it died to-day. It was a fine ewe, forward in lamb. This is not my only misfortune, for I have found one of my best young ewes in the river to-night drowned; it was weak, having been bled and physicked yesterday.—The police are here to-day. I had sent for them to endeavour to arrest some of the owners of these dogs, but they (the natives) made off. This may have a good effect in showing them how we look on such matters.—One of the little native boys was busy eating frogs to-day. They looked so tempting that I ate one also, and it was delicious. The part I ate, however, was the eggs of the female, which they seem to prize most, as they say, "the men frogs are no good," the taste was much like that of an egg. It strikes me that I have never seen here in the pools the frog spawn, and these eggs, judging by their appearance when the frog was roasted, looked like little white eggs, distinctly formed, and not globular jellies with the embryo, like a black speck, as they are at home. The natives dig them out of the ground with their hands. There is no water now, nor none since winter last, when these were got. How do they live? Do they sleep?
I cannot think how the word "kangaroo" came into use. It is not the name of this animal among the natives of any part of this island, I believe, where they seem to have distinct names for each species. Here "yowart" is the male, "yarho" the female, "yangor" (or "yangori") the generic name,—whence probably the word was corrupted.
Thursday.—The flock has been attacked with blindness today in a most sudden manner. I got the flock home instantly, and had them copiously bled, and gave them turpentine. It is a most extraordinary illness. There is no visible sore nor ailment about the eye, but that it looks green and glassy. I had them grazing upon Mr. Brown's land. It is singular that on some lands sheep are affected by blindness, on some by fatal illness like apoplexy. The lowlands are blamed for the former,—the highlands for the latter illness. I have never known any illness incidental to my own ground, but the pasture has not been sufficient to feed them lately. I think it is the succulence of young grass, which springs rapidly near the banks of the river after a shower, that occasions the illness.
Saturday night, May 30th.—I closed my last about a week since. I forget whether I mentioned the arrival of a vessel from Madras, which is soon to be followed by another, bringing several fried Nabobs here to get their livers a little cooled. It will be extremely advantageous if the Indian invalids should take a fancy to come here to recruit, which I have no doubt they will do when we have a few more comforts to offer them.—I sent off another small flock of 100 sheep and about 70 lambs to York on Monday last under the charge of James and another man, but in company with a caravan and carts, &c., going at the same time. James has turned out a capital hand among sheep—bleeding and doctoring them with great readiness. He has had but too much practice lately in these departments. I have just learned to-day that the party had been met near York all safe, with the exception of two lambs which had perished on the way. I went to Perth on Wednesday, and to Fremantle with Mr. Roe on Tuesday, to examine ferries, &c., as commissioner of roads, bridges, ferries, &c. An unpleasant occurrence happened at Perth which may lead to bad consequences. A townsman of Perth, finding that his store had been plundered by some natives, took his gun and went to where there were a number of them sleeping, and got into a scuffle with one whom he supposed to be a guilty person. His gun went off in the struggle, and all the contents passed through the lad's thigh and into the calf of his leg. They wanted to take summary vengeance, and were with difficulty persuaded to let our law take its course. They have been pacified in the meantime by seeing him sent handcuffed to gaol to await the event, if the boy should die. They wished to be allowed to spear him in the leg, and said if he gave some bread they would only spear him a very little. If the boy dies they say that they will kill the guilty man who stole the flour, as he was the cause of it, but they expect that the white man will be killed by us if Gogaly (the boy) should die.—On my arrival here to-night I find three other sheep dead in my absence, all (I believe) my own. One appears to have bled to death in the fold, from the wound made in branding it. One was a blind one, and the third was one which the native dogs had mangled long ago.
Monday, June 1st.—This is the anniversary of the foundation or establishment of this colony, and is to be celebrated in Perth by rustic sports and gambols, as running after pigs with soaped tails, jumping in sacks, &c. I was trepanned into subscribing a pound for it, as the Government officers were expected to contribute. The mortality among my sheep seems to be dying out. I have not had any more deaths for several days, but some are in a doubtful state, and I have still eight blind.—The team is now occupied in breaking up some high ground of a sandy loamy nature, some say it will not give a crop without manure. I shall be very badly off for wheat ground. This season is unusually dry; the rains have not come so early as heretofore, and the crops are later in consequence. There has been frost every day for some time; we had not observed frost in other years before July. Potatoes which have been in the ground nearly two months are now only appearing.
Monday.—Caught a native woman to-day stealing wheat from casks under the verandah. Gave her a rap with a stick, intending to hit her over the head; she raised her face up suddenly, and I struck her on the nose and cut her. The blow was nothing, but the stick was ragged. I chased her off and kept her bags and all their contents. Some time afterwards came a man demanding them and threatening terrible things; I turned him off instantly, taking the precaution to keep my gun in my hand, for they are not to be trusted when in these moods. Whether anything will come of this I know not, but it is a little awkward.
A most melancholy piece of intelligence has just reached me. Poor Thompson, who accompanied Dale and myself over the hills, was drowned yesterday evening in crossing the river near Guildford in a leaky boat. Having spent the evening at Mr. Ridley's he wished to cross the river to go home; the boat was nearly full of water, but he thought he could manage it. Mr. Ridley stood on the bank with a lantern in the meantime, and asked him if he was over yet. "I'm half way at all events, and will soon be over," said he; so Mr Ridley went home, but soon heard a shout that the boat was going down. There was no other boat and no other sound. An hour afterwards his body was found. I suppose the swamping boat dragged him with it in its vortex, and he could not swim. He was from Brentford, an old school fellow of E. Fletcher. Sold a duck and a drake to-day for 8s. which a native brought here from Mr. S. in a letter.
Wednesday.—Letty has gone to Perth to-day. I was reminded at dinner time how much the comfort and order of the house depends upon her. Being called in to dinner I found a piece of meat standing on the side table and that was the whole preparation. There was neither cloth, plates, knives, vegetables, nor anything else; the men thought they had enough to do in taking their own dinner. I sent to-day for the native woman who had been stealing here, and gave her back her bags and cloaks. She looked very penitent. Several strangers appeared to-day who all took the precaution of asking if I was angry now. Off to Perth to-morrow morning.
Monday 22nd.—I only returned here yesterday and found the house beset with natives. It is a most provoking thing that in my absence they are encouraged by the men to come about here, and liberally entertained at my expense. One woman told me to-day that I was very bad, I only gave her a little wheat though she carried wood, but that — gave plenty without asking them to do anything. That is a pleasant hearing. A ship, the Caledonia, has arrived from Van Diemen's Land; another soon expected thence also. There has fallen a great quantity of rain during the last three days; the ground is only now sufficiently softened for all purposes. The season is rather backward, but I think a great struggle will be made this year to raise sufficient grain to support the colony; flour, however, will be dear here for a long time, for it costs us as much nearly to get wheat ground as the price of wheat in other places. The millers have got a trick here of not grinding for any persons but themselves. They offer to buy the wheat at a long credit, then grind and sell it out at a great price. It has been 6d. a pound till the arrival of this vessel, yet the millers were only offering 13s. a bushel for the wheat, which is not much more than 2½d. a pound. I bought a cwt. of potatoes to plant now, for I fear the frost will cut off all the crops, which is only just above ground, though planted more than two months ago. The flock which I bought lately is just now beginning to lamb; if they produce 40 or 50 lambs this season it will make up for the bad bargain.
Tuesday.—Three lambs were found in the fold this morning, and only one ewe with the appearance of being a mother. I have not known a sheep to have three lambs, yet this looks like it; one of them was dead in the morning. Took part of a stack of wheat into the barn to-day. It had suffered sadly from wet and mismanagement, in being badly thatched. It appears that the natives do not consider every frog fit for eating, for some of a greenish colour were under the stack, but they would not eat them, and said they lived above the waters, but the good ones lived in the ground. I had Weeip and two boys carrying wheat almost all day. Shot a duck upon the river to-day. White cockatoos are becoming very troublesome upon the wheat, as well as the crows. One is obliged to keep a boy to drive them away, or to make some contrivance to frighten them. We strike a long board smartly with a stick, the sound of which frightens them a little. It is singular to see a field spotted black and white with these depredators "piebalded."
Wednesday, June 24th.—The colony is now greatly in want of a few good practical shepherds. They would be sure of getting from 40s. to 60s. a month besides being fed. It is surprising how much the condition of the flock depends upon the goodness of the shepherd. Your part of the country not being a sheep country, I knew nothing of them before I came here, but have bought some experience since; and one chief lesson which I have learned is that in the summer time I can keep but a very small flock (perhaps not much more than 100) on the unassisted pasture of my grant, on this side of the hills; but at York my grant would probably feed more than 1000—for, whereas the area of my grazing grounds here is not much more than half a mile broad and a mile deep, the breadth of my grant there is two miles, and I am told the ground is good for an average of at least three miles back. It is about 14 miles to the south of Mount Bakewell, on the west side of the river.
Sunday, June 28th.—Went to Perth on Thursday, and only returned to-day. We are in a dilemma about the trial of the settler for the murder or manslaughter of the native boy named Gogaly. The natives are desirous of seeing him severely punished, and if he be acquitted they will take revenge. It is a most extraordinary thing that we are not furnished here with the Acts, or amendments in the laws, which are taking place every day at home. How we are to know anything about them is difficult to conjecture. Yet we are bound to act according to the law of England. Another of my sheep has had twins. I have now 32 lambs alive from this new flock. I am getting some large trees grubbed at 5s. a tree.
July 5th.—There is an interval here of a week which requires and deserves to be noted particularly. You see the last date is this day week. On Monday night came Weeip here, who had been among the hills and had met with some policemen returning from York with a native whom they had taken prisoner, charged with spearing Morley (who has since died), at the time that my sheep went over the hills. Weeip told me that the man they had taken was not the man that did it, though the same name, and asked me to "paper wonga" the Governor about it. I went down next morning, thinking my presence might be required in my official capacity, hoping to return here that evening again, but I only got home late last night. I succeeded after a good deal of trouble in persuading the Superintendent of Police that they had taken the wrong man, and I got him liberated. This accounts for the interval (as I seldom write my journal unless when here at home), but I must now fill up the interval. The Sir David Ogilby has arrived here, bringing letters from the Cape. I have received two letters from you (dated 28th Nov. and 17th Dec., 1834), and several copies of the Derry Sentinel and Stewart's Dispatch, the latest being of the date of 30th January, 1835. I shall shortly advert to the different topics contained in them.
I see —— has made himself active in getting up a West Australian Company. It is a dangerous thing to meddle with; the blame of failure is sure to be visited on the projector of the scheme, and instances of ill success are certain to occur, if not of general failure. If, by the slightest misrepresentation or exaggeration, any individual finds himself misled, the consciousness of injury done to such person must surely be accompanied with great remorse. It is for this cause I have been so cautious in my journals to you. I thank God I have not to charge myself with endeavouring to induce any person to come out. It is this feeling I dare say which makes Sir James Stirling now so cautious and silent. He has already suffered severely in mind from the reproaches and maledictions which have been heaped upon him by those who had only themselves to blame. "How came you to bring us to such a miserable place?" was the general clamour. That miserable place has already been established to a degree which is surprising, when calmly considered as an isolated colony in only the sixth year of its existence. Recollect, it is not to be compared with the instantaneous maturity of a new town in America, which is but as the hiving off of a vigorous and full-grown swarm. But here is an isolated colony in an uninhabited wilderness, with an unknown climate, new soil unaccustomed to production, remote from friends, and to which assistance is dealt with a niggardly hand, where all provisions, stock, and necessaries have to be procured from other, distant, jealous, and unfriendly people, and procured by means of merchants who thrive in proportion to their exactions.
If this scheme of the W. A. Company should still continue when this reaches you, there is a block of land at Leschenault Inlet, consisting of 100,000 acres, belonging to Colonel Latour which possibly might be purchased at a cheaper rate from his assignees, who live in London. I consider the land good, as far as I have been able to ascertain anything about it. The situation is good, for these reasons—it has a frontage on the coast by which a communication by sea is secured for transport of heavy goods, &c., and for receiving stock direct from Van Diemen's Land, or elsewhere. Then fish may be caught in abundance in the bay. The grassy lands, I believe come near the coast. The climate is rather cooler there than here. A large tract of grazing ground probably lies adjacent to it, north, south, and east, where a continuation of it could be purchased from Government at 5s. an acre. Probably Latour's might be purchased at less than 1s. an acre, if the business be directly gone about. There are some disadvantages belonging to it which require such explanation as can only be given now as the result of experience of climate and situation and circumstances of the place. The term "port" may mislead. The whole space of Geograph Bay does not present a single port or sheltered harbour, with the probable exception of a little neck behind a jutting headland about the S.W. bight of the bay. The situation speaks for itself. Vessels of a large size may approach the shore in summer and calm weather, and discharge or take in cargo. "Military post" there is none there now; it has been given up. In fact, there are no settlers there, and consequently no occasion for a post. There is, I understand, a beautiful site for a town, but the lakes and rivers must not be calculated upon, for no river that we have discovered, as yet, runs in the summer; they are mere pools and shallows, or chains of pools. But if they have sufficient water for the stock they are valuable. This place is nearly on the same parallel with the best part of Bannister's track, much of which is already pre-engaged, and not an inch of which you could get from Government under 5s. an acre. Many opportunities have occurred here of getting land from early settlers, which was sold under execution or through distress, at a very low rate—some at twopence an acre; but few had money to purchase, and there was a certainty that the money must lie dead for some time. Mr. N—— wrote to me a long time ago to purchase a grant for him, and go as far as £600. I should have been ruined if I had done so, for he did not send the money, and that is the very thing that is wanted here when people sell. There is also a Mr. James Henty, who was formerly a merchant here, and who is now in London. You could hear of him at Cross's. I think he has a large grant at the Leschenhault Inlet, or somewhere thereabouts. Perhaps he would sell. I am speaking almost at random about this company and your plans, for I am in no way informed of its existence save by an advertisement in Stewart's Dispatch. So far as it goes Sir James is greatly pleased with it.
The subject of imigration is one which I approach with great diffidence. It is so comprehensive and so various that it is not possible to treat it methodically in the due bounds of my compressed journal. Were I sitting beside you for an hour, I could disabuse your mind of many false impressions which seem to rest upon them. There is naturally in the mind of every one who thinks of emigrating, so much that is enthusiastic and visionary, so much of fancy and romance, so much of theory and imagination, so little of practice and business, so much contemplation of every probable advantage and so much oversight of all actual difficulty, that it is hard to be prepared for the reality. Then, how many are but badly qualified for settlers! There must be enthusiasm and there must be steadiness, energy, and patience, quickness, and perseverance, courage, and forbearance, promptitude, and prudence, and many other opposite qualities; and, at the back of them all, there must be—money. I mean for one who sets up for himself, and not as the servant or steward of another. I think few situations could be much more trying than that of a person arriving here now with but a small capital, unless his ideas were proportionately adjusted. You could not get a grant on the Swan under from £100 to £1000, according to the size and quality. Supposing you purchase from Government or from a settler, land at a distance; if from Government you pay 5s. an acre, settlers wish to get 4s. 6d.; your grant may be from 30 to 50, or more miles away. How are you to get at it? You must in the first place buy a team—that will cost you £100, and a cart at least £20. In short, I am afraid to enumerate all the expenses and difficulties, you would think them so disheartening. They can all be surmounted, but if a man be not prepared for them he may sink under them. Good bargains, lucky chances of spots may be met with, but they are few, and becoming fewer every day. A squatter that is a person who would go beyond the locations and occupy any ground that would answer his purpose might do well here with a large flock, but he must be contented with a rude house or a tent, cultivate only such ground as would give him wheat and vegetables; live much upon the produce of his dogs and his guns; drive his surplus stock occasionally to market, with his wool also; and take back little necessaries, comforts, and luxuries. This might be done by a man who had a large family, and all help within himself, for you could scarcely tempt free English servants to go out of the pale of society voluntarily, and in this respect the convict population at Sydney is an advantage. The natives are the serious obstacle to a small establishment in a distant situation.
August 29.—James bought a young ram from me to-day for 32s., and sold it almost immediately for £2. Had some emu to-day for dinner; it tastes very like young beef, sweet and tender; a roast thigh looked very like a roasted leg of mutton. Have scarcely had a moment of the day to myself people here on different sorts of business: Mr. Bull, Mr. Mellersh, J. Mackie, and Nat. Shaw.—I have calculated that there are 1131 acres of wheat sown in the colony this year which, at an average of 15 bushels to the acre, would give, say, in round numbers, 15,000 bushels of wheat, which will go a good way in supplying us with flour for this year,—perhaps give nine months supply, after deducting 3000 bushels for seed, and poultry, and waste.
August 31.—We have had much rain during all the last week and strong winds.—Two blind sheep have been turned out daily for some time on the plain to graze; one of them was furnished with a bell, by the sound of which the other became accustomed to guide itself. Some days ago, the one with the bell was killed, and the other poor thing wandered about, went astray, and could not be found readily. James armed himself with the bell of the dead one, and went ringing through the bush. The lost one answered the signal immediately, and so we found a new way of catching sheep.—Planted yesterday a number of cuttings of vine, peach, and fig trees. It is rather late, but I got them from the Governor's garden, and will give them a chance.—I have heard that the packing in which I was obliged to put my wool last year, went all to pieces at the Isle of France, in transhipping it. There are Indian gunny bags to be got here now at 7s. 6d. I am in doubt about buying, as I make sure of your sending some by the first vessel. When is it to arrive?
Wednesday.—There has been a long spell of rainy and stormy weather, but this day it appears to have cleared up a little. You would have laughed to have seen the native Tomghin this evening walking about with an umbrella over his head, accompanying me to look for a stray sheep. He could not manage the name of it. The nearest approach was "hemphrella."—I have now the only pure Saxony ram in the colony, and I have two pure ewes. I must give them every chance, or else we shall lose the pure blood, as the ram is old. The wool is very fine but very short. Sold another young ram to James for 30s. By the way I recommend persons coming here to bring out a number of iron hurdles; they are very serviceable even for a temporary fence until required to fold sheep. The freight would be little, and they are much cheaper than you could get even wooden ones made here.
Saturday night.—Went to Perth on Thursday. The Irene, which sailed a week ago for the Isle of France, had been driven back by contrary winds, and was off Rottnest Island before they knew where they had been blown to. A young gentleman called Pratt has been drowned, his boat having capsized and swamped whilst he was engaged in a sailing match.—I mentioned in a previous letter a speculation of a steam mill for flour, &c. The more I think of it the more feasible it appears. If it were placed in a large flat boat or vessel, so as to move about on the river, up and down to the different farms, it would be an excellent thing.—I washed two or three sheep to-day for the purpose of shearing. It is too early for general shearing, but I want to get these dressed to prevent scab. I intend this year to cull out samples of different qualities of wool,—pure Saxon from Saxony, pure Saxon, bred in the colony, cross between pure Saxon and pure merino, and between pure Saxon and mixed merino. I have a young ram from a pure Saxon ram and pure merino ewe; his wool is very long and pure,—i. e., long compared with Saxon, fine compared with merino wool.
Sept. 6th.—I must return to Perth to-morrow again; meantime, I am getting more potatoes planted, and others dug at the same time. There are at this moment some thoroughly ripe, some ripening, some about two inches over the moulding, some just appearing, and some being planted. This will give us a succession. I had put down many cuttings of peaches, vines, &c., by the river side just before the flood came. It has now subsided, and I find they are rather benefitted than injured by it. Found something like broad-tongued cress, growing wild, to-day.
Thursday.—On Tuesday I went to Perth and have just returned, having been in Fremantle yesterday. The captain and some officers of H.M.S. Zebra have gone up to Mr. Bull's to see the country. They are greatly pleased with it so far. I dare say they will call here to-morrow.—There was a special meeting of magistrates to-day, at Perth, at which I presided as chairman. The object was to revise an established scale of poundage fees in cases of trespass of cattle. The fine has been established at 1s. a head for large cattle, and 3d. a head for sheep, besides the damage done. In case of some of the large flocks of sheep, there might have been £7 or £8 to pay, merely for the impounding in a man's private fold. This is altered now.
Saturday.—Took tea at Mr. Bull's last night. Capt. McCrea of the Zebra is very fond of farming, and is greatly delighted with the ground on the Swan. He says from the reports about this place he had no idea of finding it what it is. He had a farm near Devonport himself, and looks like a farmer. He called here to-day on his way down.—Got the sheep washed to-day preparatory to shearing, but the wool of this flock will not be worth sending home. I shall have very little to send this year, for Mr. Solomon, who keeps my flock, retains a portion of it for his trouble. Got a few potatoes turned out with my plough to-day; a tolerable, but not like an Irish crop.
Monday.—There came on a very severe storm on Saturday night. Thunder, lightning, and heavy rain; the day had been unusually warm. I find on a calculation that the consumption of flour for my establishment is just 1 cwt. a week. The natives are a heavy tax upon us in that way.—A huge limb of a tree fell down near the house on Friday night. The weather was quite calm at the time.—I am just about to put a crop of Caffre corn in the ground from which the potatoes have been ploughed. I shall put it in drills three feet asunder, so that I can put in another crop in the intervals, as soon as the corn is ripe.
Wednesday.—Took tea last night at Mr. Bull's. The river is still in a flooded state, so that I had some difficulty in getting over by a tree which was partly under water. I have now got the little flock here, shorn; we finished to-day 96 sheep, principally of those which I bought from Henty, brought from Van Dieman's land. Some of them have a fleece more like goat's hair than wool, but their lambs are large and fine, and I expect that the wool from the cross of the pure Saxon will be valuable, as the ewes are very large but the fleece of this lot is hardly worth sending home this year, as some of them had the scab when I got them, and it was for the purpose of curing it thoroughly that I had them shorn soon. One of the cows had a very large bull calf this morning. Bought a cask of beef which stands me about 1s. 4½d. per lb. (American beef), but it is so vile and smells so badly that the men are on the point of mutinying. Oh for some of Sherlock's good sweet prime new pork! The men are making merry in the kitchen to-night; they had an extra allowance of rum, and have just sent in for more. There are some strange men there who help to keep it up.
Sunday.—Returned late last night. Could not get the horse across the river, the water was too high. We have had much more rain this month, than in the same month in any other year since we came here. An expedition which was to have started to explore the district of the Hotham between this and King George's Sound is delayed for some days longer to let the ground dry sufficiently before they start. The Governor is going along with them, with the intention of pushing on from that on horseback as far as "Doubtful Island bay," about 100 miles further East than King George's Sound. If there be a good tract of land there, and a harbour, it will probably come into repute at once and supersede King George's Sound. We shall wait the result of this expedition with much anxiety.
Old Mr. Henty has "squatted" himself on an unlocated district along the coast outside of this territory, at Portland, Bay. He has been very successful in whale fishing, but I believe finds his situation hazardous, as being out of the pale of civilization and protection, and he now thinks of taking land within the territory at some place along the coast, where it is generally supposed that he has seen a fine country, though he has been prudent enough to keep his secret. My dog killed a kangaroo of 34lbs. weight to-day. John Mackie dined here. I have offers from several persons to go and settle on my farm over the hills and take care of my flock. There is quite a mania now for "over the hills."
Oct. 10th.—I have been in Perth since Thursday morning, having returned only late last night. The Governor and a party have just returned from the York district; they made a considerable tour and are greatly pleased. The Governor calculated that he passed over 300 square miles of prime grazing ground. That is the district for any one to go to. There has been much rain, and the river is considerably swollen in consequence. I had some trouble in riding through it; the mare was all but swimming. Perth was gay last week. We had two dancing parties there, one at Mr. Brown's and one at Mr. Roe's, though the weather is becoming too hot now for waltzing, which we indulge in. Paid 30s. of charges on the wool which I sent long ago by the Mauritius, where it was transhipped at this expense, and it is to pay 2d. a lb. from that to London, which, with 2d. from this to the Mauritius, makes a heavy drawback against our wool.
Monday.—Getting melons, pumpkins, and water melons put down. Cut 32 head of cauliflower yesterday and to-day, and gave them to the men, so many had come forward begging for one. Shot one of those gallinules across the river; dog Carlo swam for it, and was mouthing it when John Mackie came running on that side to take it from him, but the dog leapt into the river immediately, with the bird in his mouth, and brought it over to me, The Murray river natives seem to exercise some authority over the natives here. They insisted on boring the noses of two young fellows, Doorbap and Boodap; it is a sort of initiation into manhood, as knocking a front tooth out is at Sydney. One of them took a fit of laughing, which seemed to have the same effect on his nose as when a person laughs whose lips are chapped with frost.
Tuesday.—Folding a few sheep upon the lucerne, which is very luxuriant. There is a native boy here now who has been brought up among the mountains. He speaks a very different dialect from those about here, just as you may have seen a Lowlandman laugh at a "Ballymullen man." He looks mild and just caught like.
Wednesday.—Getting Caffre corn put down in drills three feet apart. One of the native boys, Junagwirt, made himself very useful in putting the seeds into the drills by hand.
Friday.—A small vessel called the Sally Anne has come from Van Diemen's Land, and a boat which had long since sailed from this for Augusta, the Fanny, which was supposed to have been lost, has returned back safe and sound.
Saturday.—Had to go to Perth on Wednesday and to Fremantle on Thursday, as Commissioner of Roads and Bridges. Council early on Friday, and then to Guildford, where all our Colonial Council was present at a fair and ploughing match which was held there. I did not arrive here till 11 o'clock last night. We had a large meeting; fifty persons sat down to dinner, and there were two or three booths or tents where ginger beer and ginger bread were sold. Dancing also took place, and some fighting, in which I believe J— bore his part, but as I have heard no particulars I take care not to enquire. The Governor mentioned to me that he has had from King George's Sound an account of two boys who had accompanied a set of sealers along the southern coast, and, being disgusted with the depravity and barbarity of the men of the party, had, after many efforts, at last made their escape from them, about 400 miles to the east of King George's Sound, which place with great difficulty they reached in safety, principally by the friendly assistance of natives, who brought them to the settlement. Many particulars had not been learned. They were in a very exhausted state when the account was written. They did not speak of any rivers of importance, nor any remarkable features, but we shall hear more particulars bye and bye.
Tuesday.—The Governor is to set out to-morrow on his expedition. I thought to have been able to use all the time of absence as I chose, and to have made some little excursions, but he wishes that the remaining members of Council (now only three in number) should communicate frequently during his absence, and be as much on the spot as possible, for fear of emergencies. The thing principally to be dreaded is hostilities with the natives, and the most troublesome thing to provide for is the employment of the labouring classes who may be out of work, and (a practice which they learned from the poor laws at home) come to the Government instantly for relief. One of my boys went out to-day, accompanied by a native, to look for a kangaroo, and brought home a doe weighing about 40lbs., which Carlo killed single-handed.
Saturday.—Had the honour of a visit from two ladies this evening, Mrs. H—— and Miss S——. Have given the men another job of putting up another building for a kitchen, nearer the house than my present one, which will serve for a store and a place for the men to sleep in. The building they are about to put up will be shingled.
Sunday.—After dinner this evening rode back to the hills. It is singular that there where the sheep were folded last year, has grown up a rich crop of grass of a different sort to that which clothes the adjacent ground; docks also have sprung up in abundance on that spot, and yet I cannot perceive any in the neighbourhood. Enjoyed this ride very much, but felt a great want of some companion to talk to. A depressing sensation of loneliness came strongly over me—a sort of "Oh! dear, what can the matter be?" feeling.
Tuesday.—The weather is only now beginning to become warm. There has been much more rain and cold this season than in any other since I came here. I remember that before I came here the favourite theory respecting the shape of this island was that it was edged round with a great border of high mountains, which threw and detained all the waters on the inner side, so that the whole was like a great basin or reservoir, having a large inland sea. This theory is completely contradicted by our knowledge of the shape of this side of the island at least. The interior, so far from being lower, is higher than the level of the land outside of this range. Several rivers—perhaps we might say all of any importance that we are as yet acquainted with—take their rise inside of the range, and force their way through it to the sea. Where the waters which must in winter be collected over the great surface of the interior, discharge themselves is yet to be accounted for. It has been almost demonstrated that there is no large river along the whole line of south coast from the Murrumbidgee to Cape Leeuin. The Blackwood, which is supposed to be the largest, scarcely deserves the name of a large river. The expedition which is now exploring will give us more information on that point. Coming northward from Cape Leeuin, the first river of any importance is the Murray. There are two estuaries to this river, one of which is 18 or 20 miles long. I dare say that the Hotham, which they are gone to settle upon, will turn out to be identical with the Murray, one of its tributaries, if not the main stream. The next river is the Swan, and after this there is none for about 50 or 60 miles, when you come to the river Garban, the natives hereabouts do not seem to be aware of any river, so there must be a long interval without one. The coast as far as Shark's Bay has been sailed along as near as consistent with safety, and no river has been seen. No reliance can be placed on what the natives say on the subject, but I think it very likely from what some of them have told me that there is a great bay or creek running far inland, in a south and by east direction from Cambridge Gulf, and that into this the principal waters of the western and north-western part of this island discharge themselves. But this is only theory—not quite unfounded though, for the end of Cambridge Gulf was not seen, I believe, by Captain King, though he sailed up a considerable distance. Again; that would account for what the native Tomghin says about the sea in a direction north by east or north north east from this, where there are high mountains, not seen, burning sand, and weak-eyed people (according to his description).
Thursday.—Set out at eight this morning for Perth. Left it again at five, without even having sat down in the meantime, and reached home tired and hungry. John Mackie came and spent the evening with me. I learned through the means of Mr. Armstrong, who acts as a native interpreter, that the natives are all aware that this is an island, and that the sea which Tomghin spoke of is the sea which bounds the north coast. I had no idea that their knowledge of geography had been so extensive and accurate. It appears a singular fact that, as far as we know of this part of our colony and of its formation, the rocks are either of the oldest or the most recent formation, without the appearance of the intermediate classes, in other words, of the primary and tertiary without the secondary, or, in still plainer terms (lest I should make a mistake in the scientific names) of the granitic and of the alluvial or clay formation. This promises badly for coals, &c., but from the description given of the coast towards the Australian Bight in some of the charts, that district is more likely to be of the secondary formation. Being without the assistance of books here, and having to speak merely from a dim and distant recollection of a former slender acquaintance with these subjects, one is naturally diffident now. There is no point on which we feel sensibly the disadvantages of our situation as that we are almost totally cut off from any participation in the progress of general literature and the advances of science, and that, so far from being able to keep pace with the march of civilisation we are worse than stationary, and in danger of retrograding. After an interval perhaps of a year, we get a great accumulation of newspapers, and must be contented to endeavour to sift out a few grains of wheat from this heap of chaff.
Saturday.—Ploughing in manure upon new ground, to prepare for crops next season. I shall have nearly three additional acres prepared in this way. Between sheep-folding, manuring, and fallowing, I generally manage to bring in a few acres every year. I have scarcely any of that low alluvial ground which gives rich crops without manure. I have been offered 2000 acres next to my own grant at York, for 1s. an acre, i.e., £100. If the person will take part stock in payment, I think I shall try it.—I hope you may have sent material enough for a winnowing machine. I have a crop of barley spoilt this year by the quantity of darnel in it, I have to cut it green for fodder.
Oct. 11.—A pedlar boatman passed here to-day. Letty managed to get from him in barter 3½lbs, of sugar for one dozen eggs, and 6lbs, of yellow soap for another dozen. It is extremely difficult to preserve meat here from the flies now; even while at dinner they leave the meat in a disgusting state; I wonder if you have by any chance sent a dish cover. I have frequently had occasion to mention them. I declare we shall begin to think there is no hope of hearing from England if we do not hear soon. What has become of you all? You would wonder what our natives live upon; yet they do live, and a good many of them, and pretty well too, where any merely civilized being, if left to himself, would starve. Grubs and frogs, and snakes, and lizards, and mice, and two or three small roots like "pignuts and briskins" are their staple food. It seems to be quite an event to kill a kangaroo, or an emu. Oposums (like cats), and bandicoots (like rats), and two or three other little animals, with their chance of bird, seem all their dependence. The Murray river men are much larger and fatter men than any others we have seen; perhaps from the greater quantity of fish got there. How oddly I have wandered from the subject commenced. But I followed the path that seemed straight before me, without looking whether I was straying or not. I had just returned last night from Perth, when Mr. Bull called in on his return from the expedition to Northam and the Williams river. They had a very pleasant excursion, but no less than eight bullocks died suddenly in the morning, from some unknown cause or other—apparently from apoplexy. The Governor, Mr. Roe, Mr. Norcott, with some police, pushed on for Doubtful Island Bay, or King George's Sound, as the case might be, and the rest of the party returned, some by York, some by Kelmscott, as they went. Mr. Bull, on the whole, seems rather disappointed in the general quality of the land. It is a sheep country, but little alluvial land for wheat. The fact is, his ground on the Swan River is so very good that every other place falls short when compared with it. Marshall McDermott has got a good grant there of 25,000 acres. The Hotham and the Williams appear to come from the east and south-east, and to unite their waters and form the principal part of the Murray River. Some natives were seen, but they ran off in great dismay, and some Swan River natives who accompanied them could not succeed in making themselves intelligible, or at all events in allaying their fears. One young woman appeared perfectly paralysed with fear, calling out that the horses were great dogs, and endeavouring to chide them back in the same manner as they speak to their dogs. An undulating country; the hills grassy; soil, light red sandy loam; trees, casuarina; rocks, whinstone, granite, and ironstone. Kangaroos and emus in abundance. I start to-morrow morning for York alone, and without much preparation.
Thursday.—Just returned from York, sleepy and tired. Rode the whole way, nearly 63 miles, since six o'clock this morning, on my young filly. Saw my sheep at Mr. Solomon's, 15 miles beyond York. Examined my grant also, which is nearly opposite. The frontage on the river is not very good, it being composed of clayey plains with gum trees; the pasture on the hills, however, is excellent. There are two pools which contain water all the year, in the bed of the river course, one in the upper part and one in the lower. There is no continuing water in the middle of it, for, remember the river in summer is nothing but a chain of ponds. My grant there is 173 chains, or two miles 13 chains wide, and forms a double square.
Friday.—In the middle of last night came John Mackie to say that the Hero had arrived, and he brought me a letter from Irwin, dated 8th August, 1834, so I mount my steed again.* * * * * * *
Nov. 10th.—Got a reading of three letters from my father, of different dates, which I do not remember, for I only got a hurried glance at them; also one from Captain Mangles, announcing a present of some plants and seeds and books, for which I had sent and am to send; also seed plants and other curiosities from S. R. I had a letter from the house of Loddiges & Sons, the gardeners, near London, accompanying the box of plants, which have been sent packed up on a new principle, have arrived in a good state. I know not which to address myself to first.
Thursday.—Had a visit to-day from Mrs. Harris, Miss E. Harris, Mrs. McFaul, Miss Shaw, Miss M. Shaw, Mr. Harris, Mr. Burgess, John Mackie, and Nat Shaw. What do you think of that for a wilderness? They had been spending this day at Mr Shaw's, called on their return, and I was carried off to Mr. Shaw's for tea, and stayed late. Sleepy, and no journal that night. The next day I had to go to Guildford as Commissioner of Roads and Bridges. Called on Sam. on my way back; dined, came home, and said to myself "I shall have a fine spell at my journal to-night." Just as I was sitting down to it, in came Mr. B. to tell me about an illness that had attacked all the horses at his places (three of mine among the number). One of his had died, the others recovered. The illness appeared very unaccountable, but I got a little whisper that they had made their way into a wheat field, and hence the illness. But Mr. B. stayed so late there was no journal last night either. "Well, I was determined to make amends this night, and had just snugged down to it when a voice hailed from the other side of the river. Mr. Mackie and a number of strange gentlemen have just arrived—come for the loan of three or four bottles of wine. Won't I go over and spend the evening, and could I make up a spare bed for one of the party?" The Fates conspire against the journal.
Thursday.—A Mr. Livingstone, who had come here as surgeon of the Hero, slept here on Tuesday night. I set out for Perth yesterday soon after breakfast, and I have only just returned at eight o'clock very ready for dinner.
Friday.—Captain Mangles has sent me two cases containing rare and useful plants and flowers, such as tea, pomegranate, cork, oak, &c., and wishes me to return the cases filled in the same way. The plants are put into earth in boxes having a glazed sloping roof, quite air tight. The earth is watered when first put in, but not afterwards, nor are they either opened or disturbed till they reach their destination. I must employ our botanist to procure the plants the captain wishes, for I should not like to run the risk of doing it ineffectually myself. Captain M. has also sent me a few books as a present—the 4th volume of Martin's History of British Colonies; Burns' Travels into Bokhara; Tour in the Prairie; and Life of Salt. He wishes me to send him also some live cockatoos. It is singular they are so scarce in menageries. I suppose they must be more delicate than the white sort, but it is very difficult to obtain them here, for they do not build their nests in this neighbourhood (as the natives inform us), and an old one would not do. Two nights since my servants were roused by the screams of a kitten, which was running about wildly, as if under the influence of terror and pain. They feared to meddle with it, and heard the wailings continued afterwards, but fainter and fainter till they died away. In the morning the kitten was not to be found, nor has any trace of it been seen. It is thought that a snake must have bit it in the first instance, and afterwards swallowed it. I have seen Dale's panorama of King George's Sound. It looks well upon paper, and is a very good representation of the Sound and harbour; but the land there is very poor near the coast, and for perhaps 20 or 30 miles. Of course you must be aware that the smoke-dried face of Yagan cannot have the slightest resemblance to his living face, which was plump with a burly-headed look about it. I defy his very mother to recognize the face of her own son now, and I do not think she is craniologist enough to recognize his head. Dale has written to me, but I have not yet seen his letter, for S— has carried it off also.
Friday.—Have been in Perth for a few days. Bought a Leghorn hat for 13s., and, having turned up part of the brim, wear it as a capital screen from the sun. One of the settlers who has come here in the Hero is a Mr. Murray, from Scotland, who is a relative of the Slacks, of Derry, and has been there often. He dined here to-day. There has been experienced in the York district a hail shower of extraordinary severity, such as has not been seen nor dreamt of in this colony before. The hailstones are described to have been as large as pullet's eggs. Some sheep are said to have been killed by the storm, and some of the crops beaten all to pieces. It was very partial in its effects. I picked an ear of ripe wheat to-day. Harvest is at hand. I am getting a little hay made; you might literally carry it from the scythe to the rick here without fear of heating.
Sunday.—Several visitors here to-day; went back to the hills to see the sheep. A native boy who is living there with Johnny helps to hide everything, so that other natives may not find them, and appears very jealous of any other coming there.
Monday.—Much rain, thunder, and lightning, which are unusual at this time of the year. Weeip was very inquisitive yesterday, about L——'s wheel, and begged to be allowed to see her spin some thread, and was quite gratified to see her card some wool and spin it. They (the natives) spin with a sort of distaff, twirling it on their thighs, then winding it.
Dec. 1.—Rode to-day to Guildford to examine a bridge, as Commissioner of Roads and Bridges. Rode on to Mr. Drummond's, the botanist, to make some enquiries about the plants sent here by Captain Mangles. Mr. D. was out exploring. I must send the box filled again.
Friday.—Had a long conversation with Mr. Peel. He has been exploring a fine tract of ground on his grant—rich grassy lands, having numbers of wild cattle upon them. The natives speak of 70 in one herd. I sold a cow this morning for £20. Had offered her to S— for four casks of pork, but he would not take her, and he regrets it now.
Sunday.—Among the books sent to me by Captain Mangles is "Keith on the Evidence of Prophecy." I had read it before, but feel greatly interested in reading it again. Offered £6 for an iron plough at an auction; it was sold for £6 10s. My iron plough cannot be repaired properly, so I must have a new one; it was rather heavy, especially the mould board. I bought a pair of iron harrows for £2 10s.; a bag of sugar at 3s. 2d. per lb., rice at 1s. 2d., per lb., tea at 2s. 11d. Remember this was at an auction, where we expect to get things at a cheap rate. There were some prices that would astonish you. What do you think of Embden grits, or groats, which are little better than coarse oatmeal, selling for 2s. 6d. a lb.? (Oh, dear! to think of the oatmeal which you have at 9s. the long cwt. It makes one's mouth water to think of these things). They are useful for rearing young poultry, young horses, young calves, and also—not to make an irreverent use of the words of the Litany—"all women labouring of child, all sick persons, and young children." But poor Ireland seems to have its produce, not on the shores of a passable sea, that highway of nations, but hemmed in by an impossible barrier, obstructing all intercourse with the world. One would hardly know that there is such a place within the pale of commerce, but that you occasionally see "Tom Sherlock's" brand upon a cask of pork.
Two hundred bushels of wheat were sold in advance yesterday, by two settlers, to a merchant at 8s. per bushel. I suppose he is speculating upon sending some of it to Sydney, where, in consequence of a drought, they are in a very bad state. We could spare them a little now, for with the supplies in hand and the produce of harvest we have one pound for every mouth in the colony for 560 days. What would the South Australian people say to that? We hear that they are abusing us sadly as a "total failure," all ruined, starved, &c. We are getting on our legs now, so we can afford to let them abuse us a little, if it serves their purposes; it will turn out to our advantage in the end. It is impossible that their colony can succeed upon the plans mentioned in the prospectus which we see. They have their trials, sufferings, privations and disappointments, losses and crosses, to suffer as we had, and they will have spent more money in establishing themselves on their land. I could say a great deal on this subject, but perhaps it would not be interesting.
Friday.—The heat has come so powerfully upon us these few days that all our corn has ripened at once, so we are badly off for reapers. I have but five, and am consequently hardly able to keep pace with it. The advantages which you mention that J— possesses in Canada are certainly great at present; I mean the facility of getting meat and fish to live on. But many other things are to be taken into consideration by one who is comparing advantage as inducement to emigration. I do not know what people are to turn their attention to there ultimately; agriculture or pasture? I should think that everything of agricultural produce is so cheap that little could be made of it, and is a forest a grazing country? I do not know enough of it to speak on those points, and therefore I say nothing, but the many circumstances which were disadvantageous to us first, here, are rapidly disappearing or changing their character. Fresh meat two years ago was from 1s. 6d. to 1s. 8d. a lb.; it is now 1s. 2d. to 1s. 3d. Four years hence I dare say that 6d. will be the price. Wheat has been 30s., and it may now be bought for 8s. to 10s. If we throw our view forward to ten years this colony will have all the necessaries of life very cheap, and many luxuries, such as wine and fruit. Our exports of wool and oil will then be considerable. The climate is healthy and pleasant, no uncomfortably cold weather, and the heat very endurable in a good house, although oppressive in a low-roofed, shingled wooden house.
Saturday.—Gave my own three men four glasses of rum each to-day, and two bottles of wine put into water, among them. I think that was pretty well for one day.
Sunday.—Men wished to reap to-day, but I would not allow them. A number of strange natives came here and would insist upon gleaning, or "pick up" as they call it, so I made them carry some from the field as payment for the permission to do so. John Mackie dined here and Francis Whitfield came in the evening. I tried yesterday to make some spruce beer, but I fear that it will fail for want of yeast. Two other men have come to-night offering to work at the harvest,—very seasonable. The sound of a clarionet is something new in this colony. One of these reapers has brought one with him and is now delighting the kitchen audience with "Ye banks and braes." It is a more innocent occupation than grog drinking, which I have too much reason to dread instead of it.
Monday.—Have just heard that the Governor has returned from his trip. A letter ordering me down with all haste. Poor Doctor Collie, who was our Colonial Surgeon, and was on his way home, died, at King George's Sound. He had been in a decline.
Thursday.—Have just returned from Perth. Dined at the Governor's yesterday, and got an account from him of his expedition. They saw considerable tracts of fine grazing ground, but no river of any size. You will see an account of it in our newspaper, so I need not fill my paper with it. Two daughters of Sir Richd. Spencer's dined there (pretty little girls of 14 or 15). The captain of the American vessel dined there also. He says he would have been here three years ago but was deterred by the accounts given him at Sydney, most of which he finds to be false. He is surprized at our advanced state. He is looking for specimens of the gums and resins of this country to take for experiment, and I am endeavouring to get some. They seem a more stirring and inquisitive people than the English.
Friday.—Walking to-day through the lucerne, which is now in full flower, my ears were saluted with the familiar sound of the humming of bees; on watching narrowly I saw a great number as busy as I ever saw them on a heathy hill. They are not unlike the common garden bee, rather more active and restless on the wing; but this might have been owing to the day, which was very sultry, with high wind, thunder and lightning. Their thighs were laden with farina, their honey-bag was filled, and they have a good sting, which they know well how to use, as I can testify. I tried to trace them to their nest, but the day was so murky I could not distinguish them at any distance.
Sunday.—Killed a wether lamb last night, which weighed 36lbs., clean meat and very fat. Sold some at 1s. I think it not improbable that fresh meat may be so low as 9d. a lb. during some part of next year. Long ago I was to have received a small crate of crockery and some material for wool bags "in the next ship." Expecting it, I did not buy when I could have got it, but had to send my wool in my sheets last year, and to purchase this year where I might, for it is not come. I trust I am not to say this of your letters. I have lived a long time, in the few years since I left you. I fancy myself getting old, but time has not been standing still perhaps with you either,—though he could not be so ungallant as to lay his hands upon you so rudely.
The following lines were specially addressed to my sisters in the journal of 5th June, 1835. I cannot call to mind now any particular reason for such an outburst upon myself; which I called
Spirit of better days
Spirit of better days,
Think where thou hast to go—