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1856.]
363
The Progress of the Colony of Victoria.

the blacks.[1] Doubtless this hostility was owing, in the first instance, to the white man's aggressions on their territory, and to the violence and injustice with which the settlers often acted towards them. It is hard to say how far civilized nations are justified in the means they take to establish their authority in barbarous regions; but wherever the white man plants his foot, a baptism of blood is almost sure to follow before he establishes his claim to possession. The quarrel in Port Philip soon became a struggle between pillage and murder on the one hand, and ruthless barbarity and cold-blooded massacre on the other. Bread poisoned with arsenic was purposely left in the way of the blacks—the waterholes near which they were likely to congregate were poisoned in the same deadly manner,—regular parties were made up to shoot them. The rifle, the poison, and the rum of the white man, were more than a match for the wooden weapons and the cunning of the black; and, within the precincts of the colony, the aboriginal inhabitants are now a broken-spirited and degraded race.[2]

In 1836, the Port Philip district was in such a flourishing condition, that the New South Wales government did it the honour of annexing the territory to their own, and sent a magistrate to assert their supremacy, who called a meeting of the inhabitants, at which the sites of Melbourne, Williamstown, Geelong, and Portland were confirmed.

In 1837, the population amounted to three thousand; and Sir Richard Burke (the greatest and best of all the Australian governors) paid the colony a visit. He further confirmed the selection of sites for townships, and directed that their sale should commence immediately. Melbourne was laid out, surveyed, and divided into allotments, which were put up for sale. A reign of ruinous speculation in land now commenced. With an unlimited extent of land at its disposal, the government sold it only in small quantities at a time. These were speedily bought up by speculators, by whom they were sold and resold many times; so that an allotment which in 1837 had sold for £50, rose to £4,000 in 1839. The titles fell into inextricable confusion; and the whole proceeding ended in a commercial crisis and a general crash in 1840. Land fell to one-tenth of its former price; and many were ruined by this deteriora-


  1. The term native is applied to a white person born in the colony. "The blacks" is the only appellation by which the aborigines are designated.
  2. I can vouch for the truth of the following incident, which occurred about twelve years ago, when the colonial government was just beginning to put down such barbarities with a strong hand. I have often seen B., who is still living.
    B. and M. made an excursion on some business affairs into the Eumeralla district, about two hundred miles from Melbourne. Being at a loss for amusement, they set off one day to "shoot a few blacks." They did not meet any of the men, but came upon an encampment of women and children; some of whom they maltreated and butchered. When they had finished this exploit, M. saw that they had been observed by a white stockrider who was passing. He promptly mounted a fleet and strong horse, rode to Melbourne in twenty-four hours, paid some visits, and returned home at his leisure. The miscreants were arrested and brought up for trial. M., however, brought forward witnesses who proved his presence in Melbourne twenty-four hours after the time he was alleged to have been an actor in the butchery at the Emmeralla; and as it was considered impossible that he could have been at the two places within such a short space of time, the trial was quashed, and the prisoners liberated.