Page:The Irish in Australia.djvu/336

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

There were to be no more free grants. In the settled districts, all land was to be put up for auction; if less than five shillings an acre was offered, it was not to be sold; when the offers rose above that price, it was to be given to the highest bidder. This was regarded as a very fair arrangement; and, as a large sum of money was annually received from the sale of land, the government was able to resume the practice—discontinued in 1818—of assisting poor people in Europe to emigrate to the colony. Beyond the surveyed districts, the land was occupied by squatters, who settled down where they pleased, but had no legal right to their 'runs,' as they were called. With regard to these lands, new regulations were urgently required, for the squatters, who were liable to be turned off at a moment's notice, felt themselves in a very precarious position. Besides, as their sheep increased rapidly and the flocks of neighbouring squatters interfered with one another, violent feuds sprang up and were carried on with much bitterness. To put an end to these evils, Governor Bourke ordered the squatters to apply for the land they required. He promised to have boundaries marked out; but gave notice that he would in future charge a small rent, proportioned to the number of sheep the land could support. In return he would secure to each squatter the peaceable occupation of his run, until the time came when it should be required for sale. This regulation did much to secure the stability of squatting interests in New South Wales. After ruling well and wisely for six years, Governor Bourke retired, in the year 1837, amid the sincere regrets of the whole colony."

A contemporary eye-witness, Mr. Marjoribanks, speaks of Sir Richard Bourke as being "extremely popular amongst all classes. He was a man that scorned oppression of any