BOOK OF THE BUSH
MANY TRUTHFUL SKETCHES OF THE EARLY COLONIAL LIFE OF SQUATTERS, WHALERS, CONVICTS, DIGGERS, AND OTHERS WHO LEFT THEIR NATIVE LAND AND NEVER RETURNED.
By GEORGE DUNDERDALE.
ILLUSTRATED BY J. MACFARLANE.
LONDON: WARD, LOCK & CO., LIMITED, WARWICK HOUSE, SALISBURY SQUARE, E.C. NEW YORK AND MELBOURNE.
PURGING OUT THE OLD LEAVEN.
WRECK OF THE CONVICT SHIP "NEVA" ON KING'S ISLAND.
DISCOVERY OF THE RIVER HOPKINS.
OUT WEST IN 1849.
AMONG THE DIGGERS IN 1853.
A BUSH HERMIT.
THE TWO SHEPHERDS.
A VALIANT POLICE-SERGEANT.
THE GOVERNMENT STROKE.
ON THE NINETY-MILE.
THE ISLE OF BLASTED HOPES.
GLENGARRY IN GIPPSLAND.
WANTED, A CATTLE MARKET.
TWO SPECIAL SURVEYS.
HOW GOVERNMENT CAME TO GIPPSLAND.
GIPPSLAND UNDER THE LAW.
UNTIL THE GOLDEN DAWN.
A NEW RUSH.
GIPPSLAND AFTER THIRTY YEARS.
GOVERNMENT OFFICERS IN THE BUSH.
SEAL ISLANDS AND SEALERS.
A HAPPY CONVICT.
LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS.
ILLUSTRATION 1. "Joey's out."
ILLUSTRATION 2. "I'll show you who is master aboard this ship."
ILLUSTRATION 3. "You stockman, Frank, come off that horse."
ILLUSTRATION 4. "The biggest bully apropriated the belle of the ball."
* * *
"The best article in the March (1893) number of the 'Austral Light' is a pen picture by Mr. George Dunderdale of the famous Ninety-Mile Beach, the vast stretch of white and lonely sea-sands, which forms the sea-barrier of Gippsland."—'Review of Reviews', March, 1893.
* * *
"The most interesting article in 'Austral Light' is one on Gippsland pioneers, by George Dunderdale."—'Review of Reviews', March, 1895.
* * *
"In 'Austral Light' for September Mr. George Dunderdale contributes, under the title of 'Gippsland under the Law,' one of those realistic sketches of early colonial life which only he can write."—'Review of Reviews', September, 1895.
* * *
THE BOOK OF THE BUSH.
PURGING OUT THE OLD LEAVEN.
While the world was young, nations could be founded peaceably. There was plenty of unoccupied country, and when two neighbouring patriarchs found their flocks were becoming too numerous for the pasture, one said to the other: "Let there be no quarrel, I pray, between thee and me; the whole earth is between us, and the land is watered as the garden of Paradise. If thou wilt go to the east, I will go to the west; or if thou wilt go to the west, I will go to the east." So they parted in peace.
But when the human flood covered the whole earth, the surplus population was disposed of by war, famine, or pestilence. Death is the effectual remedy for over-population. Heroes arose who had no conscientious scruples. They skinned their natives alive, or crucified them. They were then adored as demi-gods, and placed among the stars.
Pious Aeneas was the pattern of a good emigrant in the early times, but with all his piety he did some things that ought to have made his favouring deities blush, if possible.
America, when discovered for the last of many times, was assigned by the Pope to the Spaniards and Portuguese. The natives were not consulted; but they were not exterminated; their descendants occupy the land to the present day.
England claimed a share in the new continent, and it was parcelled out to merchant adventurers by royal charter. The adventures of these merchants were various, but they held on to the land.
New England was given to the Puritans by no earthly potentate, their title came direct from heaven. Increase Mather said: "The Lord God has given us for a rightful possession the land of the Heathen People amongst whom we dwell;" and where are the Heathen People now?
Australia was not given to us either by the Pope or by the Lord. We took this land, as we have taken many other lands, for our own benefit, without asking leave of either heaven or earth. A continent, with its adjacent islands, was practically vacant, inhabited only by that unearthly animal the kangaroo, and by black savages, who had not even invented the bow and arrow, never built a hut or cultivated a yard of land. Such people could show no valid claim to land or life, so we confiscated both. The British Islands were infested with criminals from the earliest times. Our ancestors were all pirates, and we have inherited from them a lurking taint in our blood, which is continually impelling us to steal something or kill somebody. How to get rid of this taint was a problem which our statesmen found it difficult to solve. In times of war they mitigated the evil by filling the ranks of our armies from the gaols, and manning our navies by the help of the press-gang, but in times of peace the scum of society was always increasing.
At last a great idea arose in the mind of England. Little was known of New Holland, except that it was large enough to harbour all the criminals of Great Britain and the rest of the population if necessary. Why not transport all convicts, separate the chaff from the wheat, and purge out the old leaven? By expelling all the wicked, England would become the model of virtue to all nations.
So the system was established. Old ships were chartered and filled with the contents of the gaols. If the ships were not quite seaworthy it did not matter much. The voyage was sure to be a success; the passengers might never reach land, but in any case they would never return. On the vessels conveying male convicts, some soldiers and officers were embarked to keep order and put down mutiny. Order was kept with the lash, and mutiny was put down with the musket. On the ships conveying women there were no soldiers, but an extra half-crew was engaged. These men were called "Shilling-a-month" men, because they had agreed to work for one shilling a month for the privilege of being allowed to remain in Sydney. If the voyage lasted twelve months they would thus have the sum of twelve shillings with which to commence making their fortunes in the Southern Hemisphere. But the "Shilling-a-month" man, as a matter of fact, was not worth one cent the day after he landed, and he had to begin life once more barefoot, like a new-born babe.
The seamen's food on board these transports was bad and scanty, consisting of live biscuit, salt horse, Yankee pork, and Scotch coffee. The Scotch coffee was made by steeping burnt biscuit in boiling water to make it strong. The convicts' breakfast consisted of oatmeal porridge, and the hungry seamen used to crowd round the galley every morning to steal some of it. It would be impossible for a nation ever to become virtuous and rich if its seamen and convicts were reared in luxury and encouraged in habits of extravagance.
When the transport cast anchor in the beautiful harbour of Port Jackson, the ship's blacksmith was called out of his bunk at midnight. It was his duty to rivet chains on the legs of the second-sentence men—the twice convicted. They had been told on the voyage that they would have an island all to themselves, where they would not be annoyed by the contemptuous looks and bitter jibes of better men. All night long the blacksmith plied his hammer and made the ship resound with the rattling chains and ringing manacles, as he fastened them well on the legs of the prisoners. At dawn of day, chained together in pairs, they were landed on Goat Island; that was the bright little isle—their promised land. Every morning they were taken over in boats to the town of Sydney, where they had to work as scavengers and road-makers until four o'clock in the afternoon. They turned out their toes, and shuffled their feet along the ground, dragging their chains after them. The police could always identify a man who had been a chain-gang prisoner during the rest of his life by the way he dragged his feet after him.
In their leisure hours these convicts were allowed to make cabbage-tree hats. They sold them for about a shilling each, and the shop-keepers resold them for a dollar. They were the best hats ever worn in the Sunny South, and were nearly indestructible; one hat would last a lifetime, but for that reason they were bad for trade, and became unfashionable.
The rest of the transported were assigned as servants to those willing to give them food and clothing without wages. The free men were thus enabled to grow rich by the labours of the bondmen—vice was punished and virtue rewarded.
Until all the passengers had been disposed of, sentinels were posted on the deck of the transport with orders to shoot anyone who attempted to escape. But when all the convicts were gone, Jack was sorely tempted to follow the shilling-a-month men. He quietly slipped ashore, hurried off to Botany Bay, and lived in retirement until his ship had left Port Jackson. He then returned to Sydney, penniless and barefoot, and began to look for a berth. At the Rum Puncheon wharf he found a shilling-a-month man already installed as cook on a colonial schooner. He was invited to breakfast, and was astonished and delighted with the luxuries lavished on the colonial seaman. He had fresh beef, fresh bread, good biscuit, tea, coffee, and vegetables, and three pounds a month wages. There was a vacancy on the schooner for an able seaman, and Jack filled it. He then registered a solemn oath that he would "never go back to England no more," and kept it.
Some kind of Government was necessary, and, as the first inhabitants were criminals, the colony was ruled like a gaol, the Governor being head gaoler. His officers were mostly men who had been trained in the army and navy. They were all poor and needy, for no gentleman of wealth and position would ever have taken office in such a community. They came to make a living, and when free immigrants arrived and trade began to flourish, it was found that the one really valuable commodity was rum, and by rum the officers grew rich. In course of time the country was divided into districts, about thirty or thirty-five in number, over each of which an officer presided as police magistrate, with a clerk and staff of constables, one of whom was official flogger, always a convict promoted to the billet for merit and good behaviour.
New Holland soon became an organised pandemonium, such as the world had never known since Sodom and Gomorrah disappeared in the Dead Sea, and the details of its history cannot be written. To mitigate its horrors the worst of the criminals were transported to Norfolk Island. The Governor there had not the power to inflict capital punishment, and the convicts began to murder one another in order to obtain a brief change of misery, and the pleasure of a sea voyage before they could be tried and hanged in Sydney. A branch pandemonium was also established in Van Diemen's Land. This system was upheld by England for about fifty years.
The 'Britannia', a convict ship, the property of Messrs. Enderby & Sons, arrived at Sydney on October 14th, 1791, and reported that vast numbers of sperm whales were seen after doubling the south-west cape of Van Diemen's Land. Whaling vessels were fitted out in Sydney, and it was found that money could be made by oil and whalebone as well as by rum. Sealing was also pursued in small vessels, which were often lost, and sealers lie buried in all the islands of the southern seas, many of them having a story to tell, but no story-teller.
Whalers, runaway seamen, shilling-a-month men, and escaped convicts were the earliest settlers in New Zealand, and were the first to make peaceful intercourse with the Maoris possible. They built themselves houses with wooden frames, covered with reeds and rushes, learned to converse in the native language, and became family men. They were most of them English and Americans, with a few Frenchmen. They loved freedom, and preferred Maori customs, and the risk of being eaten, to the odious supervision of the English Government. The individual white man in those days was always welcome, especially if he brought with him guns, ammunition, tomahawks, and hoes. It was by these articles that he first won the respect and admiration of the native. If the visitor was a "pakeha tutua," a poor European, he might receive hospitality for a time, in the hope that some profit might be made out of him. But the Maori was a poor man also, with a great appetite, and when it became evident that the guest was no better than a pauper, and could not otherwise pay for his board, the Maori sat on the ground, meditating and watching, until his teeth watered, and at last he attached the body and baked it.
In 1814 the Church Missionary Society sent labourers to the distant vineyard to introduce Christianity, and to instruct the natives in the rights of property. The first native protector of Christianity and letters was Hongi Hika, a great warrior of the Ngapuhi nation, in the North Island. He was born in 1777, and voyaging to Sydney in 1814, he became the guest of the Rev. Mr. Marsden. In 1819 the rev. gentleman bought his settlement at Kerikeri from Hongi Hika, the price being forty-eight axes. The area of the settlement was thirteen thousand acres. The land was excellent, well watered, in a fine situation, and near a good harbour. Hongi next went to England with the Rev. Mr. Kendall to see King George, who was at that time in matrimonial trouble. Hongi was surprised to hear that the King had to ask permission of anyone to dispose of his wife Caroline. He said he had five wives at home, and he could clear off the whole of them if he liked without troubling anybody. He received valuable presents in London, which he brought back to Sydney, and sold for three hundred muskets and ammunition. The year 1822 was the most glorious time of his life. He raised an army of one thousand men, three hundred of whom had been taught the use of his muskets. The neighbouring tribes had no guns. He went up the Tamar, and at Totara slew five hundred men, and baked and ate three hundred of them. On the Waipa he killed fourteen hundred warriors out of a garrison of four thousand, and then returned home with crowds of slaves. The other tribes began to buy guns from the traders as fast as they were able to pay for them with flax; and in 1827, at Wangaroa, a bullet went through Hongi's lungs, leaving a hole in his back through which he used to whistle to entertain his friends; but he died of the wound fifteen months afterwards.
Other men, both clerical and lay, followed the lead of the Rev. Mr. Marsden. In 1821 Mr. Fairbairn bought four hundred acres for ten pounds worth of trade. Baron de Thierry bought forty thousand acres on the Hokianga River for thirty-six axes. From 1825 to 1829 one million acres were bought by settlers and merchants. Twenty-five thousand acres were bought at the Bay of Islands and Hokianga in five years, seventeen thousand of which belonged to the missionaries. In 1835 the Rev. Henry Williams made a bold offer for the unsold country. He forwarded a deed of trust to the governor of New South Wales, requesting that the missionaries should be appointed trustees for the natives for the remainder of their lands, "to preserve them from the intrigues of designing men." Before the year 1839, twenty millions of acres had been purchased by the clergy and laity for a few guns, axes, and other trifles, and the Maoris were fast wasting their inheritance. But the titles were often imperfect. When a man had bought a few hundreds of acres for six axes and a gun, and had paid the price agreed on to the owner, another owner would come and claim the land because his grandfather had been killed on it. He sat down before the settler's house and waited for payment, and whether he got any or not he came at regular intervals during the rest of his life and sat down before the door with his spear and mere* by his side waiting for more purchase money.
[Footnote] *Axe made of greenstone.
Some honest people in England heard of the good things to be had in New Zealand, formed a company, and landed near the mouth of the Hokianga River to form a settlement. The natives happened to be at war, and were performing a war dance. The new company looked on while the natives danced, and then all desire for land in New Zealand faded from their hearts. They returned on board their ship and sailed away, having wasted twenty thousand pounds. Such people should remain in their native country. Your true rover, lay or clerical, comes for something or other, and stays to get it, or dies.
After twenty years of labour, and an expenditure of two hundred thousand pounds, the missionaries claimed only two thousand converts, and these were Christians merely in name. In 1825 the Rev. Henry Williams said the natives were as insensible to redemption as brutes, and in 1829 the Methodists in England contemplated withdrawing their establishment for want of success.
The Catholic Bishop Pompallier, with two priests, landed at Hokianga on January 10th, 1838, and took up his residence at the house of an Irish Catholic named Poynton, who was engaged in the timber trade. Poynton was a truly religious man, who had been living for some time among the Maoris. He was desirous of marrying the daughter of a chief, but he wished that she should be a Christian, and, as there was no Catholic priest nearer than Sydney, he sailed to that port with the chief and his daughter, called on Bishop Polding, and informed him of the object of his visit. A course of instruction was given to the father and daughter, Poynton acting as interpreter; they were baptised, and the marriage took place. After the lapse of sixty years their descendents were found to have retained the faith, and were living as good practical Catholics.
Bishop Pompallier celebrated his first Mass on January 13th, 1838, and the news of his arrival was soon noised abroad and discussed. The Methodist missionaries considered the action of the bishop as an unwarrantable intrusion on their domain, and, being Protestants, they resolved to protest. This they did through the medium of thirty native warriors, who appeared before Poynton's house early in the morning of January 22nd, when the bishop was preparing to say Mass. The chief made a speech. He said the bishop and his priests were enemies to the Maoris. They were not traders, for they had brought no guns, no axes. They had been sent by a foreign chief (the Pope) to deprive the Maoris of their land, and make them change their old customs. Therefore he and his warriors had come to break the crucifix, and the ornaments of the altar, and to take the bishop and his priests to the river.
The bishop replied that, although he was not a trader, he had come as a friend, and did not wish to deprive them of their country or anything belonging to them. He asked them to wait a while, and if they could find him doing the least injury to anyone they could take him to the river. The warriors agreed to wait, and went away.
Next day the bishop went further up the river to Wherinaki, where Laming, a pakeha Maori, resided. Laming was an Irish-Protestant who had great influence with his tribe, which was numerous and warlike. He was admired by the natives for his strength and courage. He was six feet three inches in height, as nimble and spry as a cat, and as long-winded as a coyote. His father-in-law was a famous warrior named Lizard Skin. His religion was that of the Church of England, and he persuaded his tribe to profess it. He told them that the Protestant God was stronger than the Catholic God worshipped by his fellow countryman, Poynton. In after years, when his converts made cartridges of their Bibles and rejected Christianity, he was forced to confess that their religion was of this world only. They prayed that they might be brave in battle, and that their enemies might be filled with fear.
Laming's Christian zeal did not induce him to forget the duties of hospitality. He received the bishop as a friend, and the Europeans round Tatura and other places came regularly to Mass. During the first six years of the mission, twenty thousand Maoris either had been baptised or were being prepared for baptism.
Previous to the year 1828 some flax had been brought to Sydney from New Zealand, and manufactured into every species of cordage except cables, and it was found to be stronger than Baltic hemp. On account of the ferocious character of the Maoris, the Sydney Government sent several vessels to open communication with the tribes before permitting private individuals to embark in the trade. The ferocity attributed to the natives was not so much a part of their personal character as the result of their habits and beliefs. They were remarkable for great energy of mind and body, foresight, and self-denial. Their average height was about five feet six inches, but men from six feet to six feet six inches were not uncommon. Their point of honour was revenge, and a man who remained quiet while the manes of his friend or relation were unappeased by the blood of the enemy, would be dishonoured among his tribe.
The Maoris were in reality loath to fight, and war was never begun until after long talk. Their object was to exterminate or enslave their enemies, and they ate the slain.
Before commencing hostilities, the warriors endeavoured to put fear into the hearts of their opponents by enumerating the names of the fathers, uncles, or brothers of those in the hostile tribe whom they had slain and eaten in former battles. When a fight was progressing the women looked on from the rear. They were naked to the waist, and wore skirts of matting made from flax. As soon as a head was cut off they ran forward, and brought it away, leaving the body on the ground. If many were slain it was sometimes difficult to discover to what body each head had belonged, whether it was that of a friend or a foe, and it was lawful to bake the bodies of enemies only.
Notwithstanding their peculiar customs, one who knew the Maoris well described them as the most patient, equable, forgiving people in the world, but full of superstitious ideas, which foreigners could not understand.
They believed that everything found on their coast was sent to them by the sea god, Taniwa, and they therefore endeavoured to take possession of the blessings conferred on them by seizing the first ships that anchored in their rivers and harbours. This led to misunderstandings and fights with their officers and crews, who had no knowledge of the sea god, Taniwa. It was found necessary to put netting all round the vessels as high as the tops to prevent surprise, and when trade began it was the rule to admit no more than five Maoris on board at once.
The flax was found growing spontaneously in fields of inexhaustible extent along the more southerly shores of the islands. The fibre was separated by the females, who held the top of the leaf between their toes, and drew a shell through the whole length of the leaf. It took a good cleaner to scrape fifteen pounds weight of it in a day; the average was about ten pounds, for which the traders gave a fig of tobacco and a pipe, two sheets of cartridge paper, or one pound of lead. The price at which the flax was sold in Sydney varied from 20 pounds to 45 pounds per ton, according to quality, so there was a large margin of profit to the trader. In 1828 sixty tons of flax valued at 2,600 pounds, were exported from Sydney to England.
The results of trading with the foreigners were fatal to the natives. At first the trade was in axes, knives, and other edge-tools, beads, and ornaments, but in 1832 the Maoris would scarcely take anything but arms and ammunition, red woollen shirts, and tobacco. Every man in a native hapu had to procure a musket, or die. If the warriors of the hapu had no guns they would soon be all killed by some tribe that had them. The price of one gun, together with the requisite powder, was one ton of cleaned flax, prepared by the women and slaves in the sickly swamps. In the meantime the food crops were neglected, hunger and hard labour killed many, some fell victims to diseases introduced by the white men, and the children nearly all died.
And the Maoris are still dying out of the land, blighted by our civilization. They were willing to learn and to be taught, and they began to work with the white men. In 1853 I saw nearly one hundred of them, naked to the waist, sinking shafts for gold on Bendigo, and no Cousin Jacks worked harder. We could not, of course, make them Englishmen—the true Briton is born, not made; but could we not have kept them alive if we had used reasonable means to do so? Or is it true that in our inmost souls we wanted them to die, that we might possess their land in peace?
Besides flax, it was found that New Zealand produced most excellent timber—the kauri pine. The first visitors saw sea-going canoes beautifully carved by rude tools of stone, which had been hollowed out, each from a single tree, and so large that they were manned by one hundred warriors. The gum trees of New Holland are extremely hard, and their wood is so heavy that it sinks in water like iron. But the kauri, with a leaf like that of the gum tree, is the toughest of pines, though soft and easily worked—suitable for shipbuilding, and for masts and spars. In 1830 twenty-eight vessels made fifty-six voyages from Sydney to New Zealand, chiefly for flax; but they also left parties of men to prosecute the whale and seal fisheries, and to cut kauri pine logs. Two vessels were built by English mechanics, one of 140 tons, and the other of 370 tons burden, and the natives began to assist the new-comers in all their labours.
At this time most of the villages had at least one European resident called a Pakeha Maori, under the protection of a chief of rank and influence, and married to a relative of his, either legally or by native custom. It was through the resident that all the trading of the tribe was carried on. He bought and paid for the flax, and employed men to cut the pine logs and float them down the rivers to the ships.
Every whaling and trading vessel that returned to Sydney or Van Diemen's Land brought back accounts of the wonderful prospects which the islands afforded to men of enterprise, and New Zealand became the favourite refuge for criminals, runaway prisoners, and other lovers of freedom. When, therefore the crew of the schooner 'Industry' threw Captain Blogg overboard, it was a great comfort to them to know that they were going to an island in which there was no Government.
Captain Blogg had arrived from England with a bad character. He had been tried for murder. He had been ordered to pay five hundred pounds as damages to his mate, whom he had imprisoned at sea in a hencoop, and left to pick up his food with the fowls. He had been out-lawed, and forbidden to sail as officer in any British ship. These were facts made known to, and discussed by, all the whalers who entered the Tamar, when the whaling season was over in the year 1835. And yet the notorious Blogg found no difficulty in buying the schooner 'Industry', taking in a cargo, and obtaining a clearance for Hokianga, in New Zealand. He had shipped a crew consisting of a mate, four seamen, and a cook.
Black Ned Tomlins, Jim Parrish, and a few other friends interviewed the crew when the 'Industry' was getting ready for sea. Black Ned was a half-breed native of Kangaroo Island, and was looked upon as the best whaler in the colonies, and the smartest man ever seen in a boat. He was the principal speaker. He put the case to the crew in a friendly way, and asked them if they did not feel themselves to be a set of fools, to think of going to sea with a murdering villain like Blogg?
Dick Secker replied mildly but firmly. He reckoned the crew were, in a general way, able to take care of themselves. They could do their duty, whatever it was; and they were not afraid of sailing with any man that ever trod a deck.
After a few days at sea they were able to form a correct estimate of their master mariner. He never came on deck absolutely drunk, but he was saturated with rum to the very marrow of his bones. A devil of cruelty, hate, and murder glared from his eyes, and his blasphemies could come from no other place but the lowest depths of the bottomless pit. The mate was comparatively a gentle and inoffensive lamb. He did not curse and swear more than was considered decent and proper on board ship, did his duty, and avoided quarrels.
One day Blogg was rating the cook in his usual style when the latter made some reply, and the captain knocked him down. He then called the mate, and with his help stripped the cook to the waist and triced him up to the mast on the weather side. This gave the captain the advantage of a position in which he could deliver his blows downward with full effect. Then he selected a rope's end and began to flog the cook. At every blow he made a spring on his feet, swung the rope over his head, and brought it down on the bare back with the utmost force. It was evident that he was no 'prentice hand at the business, but a good master flogger. The cook writhed and screamed, as every stroke raised bloody ridges on his back; but Blogg enjoyed it. He was in no hurry. He was like a boy who had found a sweet morsel, and was turning it over in his mouth to enjoy it the longer. After each blow he looked at the three seamen standing near, and at the man at the helm, and made little speeches at them. "I'll show you who is master aboard this ship." Whack! "That's what every man Jack of you will get if you give me any of your jaw." Whack! "Maybe you'd like to mutiny, wouldn't you?" Whack! The blows came down with deliberate regularity; the cook's back was blue, black, and bleeding, but the captain showed no sign of any intention to stay his hand. The suffering victim's cries seemed to inflame his cruelty. He was a wild beast in the semblance of a man. At last, in his extreme agony, the cook made a piteous appeal to the seamen:
"Mates, are you men? Are you going to stand there all day, and watch me being flogged to death for nothing?"
Before the next stroke fell the three men had seized the captain; but he fought with so much strength and fury that they found it difficult to hold him. The helmsman steadied the tiller with two turns of the rope and ran forward to assist them. They laid Blogg flat on the deck, but he kept struggling, cursing, threatening, and calling on the mate to help him; but that officer took fright, ran to his cabin in the deckhouse, and began to barricade the door.
Then a difficulty arose. What was to be done with the prisoner? He was like a raving maniac. If they allowed him his liberty, he was sure to kill one or more of them. If they bound him he would get loose in some way—probably through the mate—and after what had occurred, it would be safer to turn loose a Bengal tiger on deck then the infuriated captain. There was but one way out of the trouble, and they all knew it. They looked at one another; nothing was wanting but the word, and it soon came. Secker had sailed from the Cove of Cork, and being an Irishman, he was by nature eloquent, first in speech, and first in action. He reflected afterwards, when he had leisure to do so.
"Short work is the best," he said, "over he goes; lift the devil." Each man seized an arm or leg, and Blogg was carried round the mast to the lee side. The men worked together from training and habit. They swung the body athwart the deck like a pendulum, and with a "one! two! three!" it cleared the bulwark, and the devil went head foremost into the deep sea. The cook, looking on from behind the mast, gave a deep sigh of relief.
Thus it was that a great breach of the peace was committed on the Pacific Ocean; and it was done, too, on a beautiful summer's evening, when the sun was low, a gentle breeze barely filled the sails, and everybody should have been happy and comfortable.
Captain Blogg rose to the surface directly and swam after his schooner. The fury of his soul did not abate all at once. He roared to the mate to bring the schooner to, but there was no responsive "Aye, aye, sir." He was now outside of his jurisdiction, and his power was gone. He swam with all his strength, and his bloated face still looked red as the foam passed by it. The helmsman had resumed his place, and steadied the tiller, keeping her full, while the other men looked over the stern. Secker said: "The old man will have a long swim."
But the "old man" swam a losing race. His vessel was gliding away from him: his face grew pale, and in an agony of fear and despair, he called to the men for God's sake to take him on board and he would forgive everything.
But his call came too late; he could find no sureties for his good behaviour in the future; he had never in his life shown any love for God or pity for man, and he found in his utmost need neither mercy nor pity now. He strained his eyes in vain over the crests of the restless billows, calling for the help that did not come. The receding sails never shivered; no land was near, no vessel in sight. The sun went down, and the hopeless sinner was left struggling alone on the black waste of waters.
The men released the cook and held a consultation about a troublesome point of law. Had they committed mutiny and murder, or only justifiable homicide? They felt that the point was a very important one to them—a matter of life and death—and they stood in a group near the tiller to discuss the difficulty, speaking low, while the cook was shivering in the forecastle, trying to ease the pain.
The conclusion of the seamen was, that they had done what was right, both in law and conscience. They had thrown Blogg overboard to prevent him from murdering the cook, and also for their own safety. After they had done their duty by seizing him, he would have killed them if he could. He was a drunken sweep. He was an outlaw, and the law would not protect him. Anybody could kill an outlaw without fear of consequences, so they had heard. But still there was some doubt about it, and there was nobody there to put the case for the captain. The law was, at that time, a terrible thing, especially in Van Diemen's Land, under Colonel Arthur. He governed by the gallows, to make everything orderly and peaceable, and men were peaceable enough after they were hanged.
So Secker and his mates decided that, although they had done nothing but what was right in throwing Blogg over the side, it would be extremely imprudent to trust their innocence to the uncertainty of the law and to the impartiality of Colonel Arthur.
Their first idea was to take the vessel to South America, but after some further discussion, they decided to continue the voyage to Hokianga, and to settle among the Maoris. Nobody had actually seen them throw Blogg overboard except the cook, and him they looked upon as a friend, because they had saved him from being flogged to death. They had some doubts about the best course to take with the mate, but as he was the only man on board who was able to take the schooner to port, they were obliged to make use of his services for the present, and at the end of the voyage they could deal with him in any way prudence might require, and they did not mean to run any unnecessary risks.
They went to the house on deck, and Secker called the mate, informing him that the captain had lost his balance, and had fallen overboard, and that it was his duty to take charge of the 'Industry', and navigate her to Hokianga. But the mate had been thoroughly frightened, and was loth to leave his entrenchment. He could not tell what might happen if he opened his cabin door: he might find himself in the sea in another minute. The men who had thrown the master overboard would not have much scruple about sending an inferior officer after him. If the mate resolved to show fight, it would be necessary for him to kill every man on board, even the cook, before he could feel safe; and then he would be left alone in mid-ocean with nobody to help him to navigate the vessel—a master and crew under one hat, at the mercy of the winds and the waves, with six murdered men on his conscience; and he had a conscience, too, as was soon to be proved.
The seamen swore most solemnly that they did not intend to do him the least harm, and at last the mate opened his door. While in his cabin, he had been spending what he believed to be the last minutes of his life in preparing for death; he did his best to make peace with heaven, and tried to pray. But his mouth was dry with fear, his tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, his memory of sacred things failed him, and he could not pray for want of practice. He could remember only one short prayer, and he was unable to utter even that audibly. And how could a prayer ever reach heaven in time to be of any use to him, when he could not make it heard outside the deck-house? In his desperate straits he took a piece of chalk and began to write it; so when at last he opened the door of his cabin, the four seamen observed that he had nearly covered the boards with writing. It looked like a litany, but it was a litany of only three words—"Lord, have mercy"—which were repeated in lines one above the other.
That litany was never erased or touched by any man who subsequently sailed on board the 'Industry'. She was the first vessel that was piloted up the channel to Port Albert in Gippsland, to take in a cargo of fat cattle, and when she arrived there on August 3rd, 1842, the litany of the mate was still distinctly legible.
Nothing exalts a man so quickly in the estimation of his fellow creatures as killing them. Emperors and kings court the alliance of the conquering hero returning from fields of slaughter. Ladies in Melbourne forgot for a time the demands of fashion in their struggles to obtain an ecstatic glimpse of our modern Bluebeard, Deeming; and no one was prouder than the belle of the ball when she danced down the middle with the man who shot Sandy M'Gee.
And the reverence of the mate for his murdering crew was unfathomable. Their lightest word was a law to him. He wrote up the log in their presence, stating that Captain Blogg had been washed into the sea in a sudden squall on a dark night; vessel hove to, boat lowered, searched for captain all night, could see nothing of him; mate took charge, and bore away for Hokianga next morning. When these untruthful particulars had been entered and read over to the four seamen, they were satisfied for the present. They would settle among the Maoris, and lead a free and happy life. They could do what they liked with the schooner and her cargo, having disposed of the master and owner; and as for the mate, they would dispose of him, too, if he made himself in any way troublesome. What a wonderful piece of good luck it was that they were going to a new country in which there was no government!
The 'Industry' arrived off the bar at Hokianga on November 30th, 1835, and was boarded by a Captain Young, who had settled seven miles up the estuary, at One Tree Point, and acted as pilot of the nascent port. He inquired how much water the schooner drew, noted the state of the tide, and said he would remain on board all night, and go over the bar next morning with the first flood.
The mate had a secret and wanted to get rid of it. While looking round at the shore, and apparently talking about indifferent subjects, he said to the pilot: "Don't look at the men, and don't take any notice of them. They threw Blogg, the master, overboard, when he was flogging the cook, and they would murder me, too, if they knew I told you; so you must pretend not to take any notice of them. What their plans may be, I don't know; but you may be sure they won't go back to the Tamar, if they can help it."
If the pilot felt any surprise, he did not show it. After a short pause he said: "You go about your business, and don't speak to me again, except when the men can hear you. I will think about what is best to be done."
During the night Captain Young thought about it to some purpose. Being a master mariner himself he could imagine no circumstances which would justify a crew in throwing a master mariner overboard. It was the one crime which could not be pardoned either afloat or ashore. Next day he took the vessel up the estuary, and anchored her within two hundred yards of the shore, opposite the residence of Captain McDonnell.
It is true there was no government at that time at Hokianga, nor anywhere else in New Zealand; there were no judges, no magistrates, no courts, and no police. But the British Angel of Annexation was already hovering over the land, although she had not as yet alighted on it.
At this time the shores of New Zealand were infested with captains. There was a Captain Busby, who was called British Resident, and, unfortunately for our seamen, Captain McDonnell had been appointed Additional British Resident at Hokianga a few weeks previously. So far he had been officially idle; there was no business to do, no chance of his displaying his zeal and patriotism. Moreover, he had no pay, and apparently no power and no duties. He was neither a Governor nor a Government, but a kind of forerunner of approaching empire—one of those harmless and far-reaching tentacles which the British octopus extends into the recesses of ocean, searching for prey to satisfy the demands of her imperial appetite.
McDonnell was a naval lieutenant; had served under the East India Company; had smuggled opium to China; had explored the coasts of New Zealand; and on March 31st, 1831, had arrived at Hokianga from Sydney in the 'Sir George Murray', a vessel which he had purchased for 1,300 pounds. He brought with him his wife, two children, and a servant, but took them back on the return voyage. He was now engaged in the flax and kauri pine trade.
The 'Industry' had scarcely dropped her anchor before the Additional Resident boarded her. The pilot spoke to him and in a few words informed him that Blogg, the master, had been pitched into the sea, and explained in what manner he proposed to arrest the four seamen. McDonnell understood, and agreed to the plan at once. He called to the mate in a loud voice, and said: "I am sorry to hear that you have lost the master of this vessel. I live at that house you see on the rising ground, and I keep a list in a book of all vessels that come into the river, and the names of the crews. It is a mere formality, and won't take more than five minutes. So you will oblige me, mate, by coming ashore with your men at once, as I am in a hurry, and have other business to attend to." He then went ashore in his boat. The mate and seamen followed in the ship's boat, and waited in front of the Additional Resident's house. He had a visitor that morning, the Pakeha Maori, Laming.
The men had not to wait long, as it was not advisable to give them much time to think and grow suspicious. McDonnell came to the front door and called the mate, who went inside, signed his name, re-appeared directly, called Secker, and entered the house with him. The Additional Resident was sitting at a table with the signature book before him. He rose from the chair, told Secker to sit down, gave him a pen, and pointed out the place where his name was to be signed. Laming was sitting near the table. While Secker was signing his name McDonnell suddenly put a twisted handkerchief under his chin and tightened it round his neck. Laming presented a horse-pistol and said he would blow his brains out if he uttered a word, and the mate slipped a pair of handcuffs on his wrists. He was then bundled out at the back door and put into a bullet-proof building at the rear. The other three seamen were then called in one after the other, garrotted, handcuffed, and imprisoned in the same way. The little formality of signing names was finished in a few minutes, according to promise.
If such things could be done in New Zealand, where there was neither law nor government, what might happen in Van Diemen's Land, where one man was both law and government, and that man was Colonel Arthur? The prisoners had plenty of time to make a forecast of their fate, while the mate engaged a fresh crew and took in a cargo of flax and timber. When he was ready to sail, he reshipped his old crew in irons, returned with them to the Tamar, and delivered them to the police to be dealt with according to law. For a long time the law was in a state of chaos. Major Abbott was sent from England in 1814 as the first judge. The proceedings in his court were conducted in the style of a drum-head court martial, the accusation, sentences, and execution following one another with military precision and rapidity.
He adjudicated in petty sessions as a magistrate, and dealt in a summary manner with capital offences, which were very numerous. To imprison a man who was already a prisoner for life was no punishment; the major's powers were, therefore, limited to the cat and the gallows. And as the first gallows had been built to carry only eight passengers, his daily death sentences were also limited to that number. For twenty years torture was used to extort confession— even women were flogged if they refused to give evidence, and an order of the Governor was held to be equal to law. Major Abbott died in 1832.
In 1835 the court consisted of the judge-advocate and two of the inhabitants selected by the Governor, Colonel Arthur, who came out in the year 1824, and had been for eleven years a terror to evil-doers. His rule was as despotic as he could possibly make it. If any officer appointed by the Home Government disagreed with his policy he suspended him from his office, and left him to seek redress from his friends in England—a tedious process, which lasted for years. Disagreeable common people he suspended also—by the neck. If a farmer, squatter, or merchant was insubordinate, he stopped his supply of convict labour, and cruelly left him to do his own work. He brooked no discussion of his measures by any pestilent editor. He filled all places of profit with his friends, relatives, and dependents. Everything was referred to his royal will and pleasure. His manners were stiff and formal, his tastes moral, his habits on Sundays religious, and his temper vindictive. Next to the articles of war, the thirty-nine Articles claimed his obedience. When his term of office was drawing to a close he went to church on a certain Sunday to receive the Lord's Supper. While studying his prayer book he observed that it was his duty if his brother had anything against him to seek a reconciliation before offering his gift. The ex-Attorney-General, Gellibrand, was present, a brother Christian who had had many things against him for many years. He had other enemies, some living and some dead, but they were absent. To be reconciled to all of them was an impossibility. He could not ask the minister to suspend the service while he went round Hobart Town looking for his enemies, and shaking hands with them. But he did what was possible. He rose from his knees, marched over to Gellibrand, and held out his hand. Gellibrand was puzzled; he looked at the hand and could see nothing in it. By way of explanation Colonel Arthur pointed out the passage in the prayer-book which had troubled his sensitive conscience. Gellibrand read it, and then shook hands. With a soul washed whiter than snow, the colonel approached the table.
Amongst the convicts every grade of society was represented, from King Jorgensen to the beggar. One Governor had a convict private secretary. Officers of the army and navy, merchants, doctors, and clergymen consorted with costermongers, poachers, and pickpockets. The law, it is sad to relate, had even sent out lawyers, who practised their profession under a cloud, and sometimes pleaded by permission of the court. But their ancient pride had been trodden in the dust; the aureole which once encircled their wigs was gone, and they were often snubbed and silenced by ignorant justices. The punishment for being found out is life-long and terrible. Their clients paid the fees partly in small change and partly in rum.
The defence of the seamen accused of murdering Captain Blogg was undertaken by Mr. Nicholas. He had formerly been employed by the firm of eminent solicitors in London who conducted the defence of Queen Caroline, when the "first gentleman in Europe" tried to get rid of her, and he told me that his misfortunes (forgeries) had deprived him of the honour of sharing with Lord Brougham the credit of her acquittal.
Many years had passed since that celebrated trial when I made the acquaintance of Nicholas. He had by this time lost all social distinction. He had grown old and very shabby, and was so mean that even his old friends, the convicts who had crossed the straits, looked down on him with contempt. He came to me for an elector's right, as a vote in our electorate—the Four Counties—was sometimes worth as much as forty shillings, besides unlimited grog. We were Conservatives then, true patriots, and we imitated—feebly, it is true, but earnestly—the time-honoured customs of old England.
Mr. Nicholas had been a man of many employments, and of many religions. He was never troubled with scruples of conscience, but guided his conduct wholly by enlightened self-interest. He was a Broad Churchman, very broad. As tutor in various families, he had instructed his pupils in the tenets of the Church of England, of the Catholics, of the Presbyterians, and of the Baptists. He always professed the religion of his employer for the time being, and he found that four religions were sufficient for his spiritual and temporal wants. There were many other sects, but the labour of learning all their peculiar views would not pay, so he neglected them. The Wesleyans were at one time all-powerful in our road district, and Nicholas, foreseeing a chance of filling an office of profit under the Board, threw away all his sins, and obtained grace and a billet as toll-collector or pikeman. In England the pike-man was always a surly brute, who collected his fees with the help of a bludgeon and a bulldog, but Nicholas performed his duties in the disguise of a saint. He waited for passengers in his little wooden office, sitting at a table, with a huge Bible before him, absorbed in spiritual reading. He wore spectacles on his Roman nose, had a long grey beard, quoted Scripture to chance passengers, and was very earnest for their salvation. He was atoning for the sins of his youth by leading the life of a hermit by praying and cheating. He has had many followers. He made mistakes in his cash, which for a while were overlooked in so good a man, but they became at length so serious that he lost his billet. He had for some time been spoken of by his friends and admirers as "Mr. Nicholas," but after his last mistakes had been discovered, he began to be known merely as "Old Nick the Lawyer," or "Old Nick the Liar," which some ignorant people look upon as convertible terms. I think Lizard Skin, the cannibal, was a better Christian than old Nick the lawyer, as he was brave and honest, and scorned to tell a lie.
The convict counsel for the four seamen defended them at a great expenditure of learning and lies. He argued at great length:— "That there was no evidence that a master mariner named Blogg ever existed; that he was an outlaw, and, as such, every British subject had an inchoate right to kill him at sight, and, therefore, that the seamen, supposing for the sake of argument that they did kill him, acted strictly within their legal rights; that Blogg drowned himself in a fit of delirium tremens, after being drunk on rum three days and nights consecutively; that he fell overboard accidentally and was drowned; that the cook and mate threw him overboard, and then laid the blame on the innocent seamen; that Blogg swam ashore, and was now living on an unchartered island; that if he was murdered, his body had not been found: there could be no murder without a corpse; and finally, he would respectfully submit to that honourable court, that the case bristled with ineradicable difficulties."
The seamen would have been sent to the gallows in any case, but Nicholas' speech made their fate inevitable. The court brushed aside the legal bristles, and hanged the four seamen on the evidence of the mate and the cook.
The tragedy of the gallows was followed by a short afterpiece. Jim Parrish, Ned Tomlins, and every whaler and foremast man in Hobart Town and on the Tamar, discussed the evidence both drunk and sober, and the opinion was universal that the cook ought to have sworn an oath strong enough to go through a three-inch slab of hardwood that he had seen Captain Blogg carried up to heaven by angels, instead of swearing away the lives of men who had taken his part when he was triced up to the mast. The cook was in this manner tried by his peers and condemned to die, and he knew it. He tried to escape by shipping on board a schooner bound to Portland Bay with whalers. The captain took on board a keg of rum, holding fifteen gallons, usually called a "Big Pup," and invited the mate to share the liquor with him. The result was that the two officers soon became incapable of rational navigation. Off King's Island the schooner was hove to in a gale of wind, and for fourteen days stood off and on—five or six hours one way, and five or six hours the other—while the master and mate were down below, "nursing the Big Pup." The seamen were all strangers to the coast, and did not know any cove into which they could run for refuge. The cook was pitched overboard one dark night during that gale off King's Island, and his loss was a piece of ancient history by the time the master and mate had consumed the rum, and were able to enter up the log.
Ex-Attorney-General Gellibrand sailed to Port Philip to look for country in Australia Felix, and he found it. He was last seen on a rounded hill, gazing over the rich and beautiful land which borders Lake Colac; land which he was not fated to occupy, for he wandered away and was lost, and his bones lay unburied by the stream which now bears his name.
When Colonel Arthur's term of office expired he departed with the utmost ceremony. The 21st Fusiliers escorted him to the wharf. As he entered his barge his friends cheered, and his enemies groaned, and then went home and illuminated the town, to testify their joy at getting rid of a tyrant. He was the model Governor of a Crown colony, and the Crown rewarded him for his services. He was made a baronet, appointed Governor of Canada and of Bombay, was a member of Her Majesty's Privy Council, a colonel of the Queen's Own regiment, and he died on September 19th, 1854, full of years and honours, and worth 70,000 pounds.
Laming was left an orphan by the death of Lizard Skin. The chief had grown old and sick, and he sat every day for two years on a fallen puriri near the white man's pah, but he never entered it. His spear was always sticking up beside him. He had a gun, but was never known to use it. He was often humming some ditty about old times before the white man brought guns and powder, but he spoke to no one. He was pondering over the future of his tribe, but the problem was too much for him. The white men were strong and were overrunning his land. His last injunction to his warriors was, that they should listen to the words of his Pakeha, and that they should be brave that they might live.
When the British Government took possession of New Zealand without paying for it, they established a Land Court to investigate the titles to lands formerly bought from the natives, and it was decided in most cases that a few axes and hoes were an insufficient price to pay for the pick of the country; the purchases were swindles. Laming had possession of three or four hundred acres, and to the surprise of the Court it was found that he had paid a fair price for them, and his title was allowed. Moreover, his knowledge of the language and customs of the Maoris was found to be so useful that he was appointed a Judge of the Land Court.
The men who laid the foundations of empire in the Great South Land were men of action. They did not stand idle in the shade, waiting for someone to come and hire them. They dug a vineyard and planted it. The vines now bring forth fruit, the winepress is full, the must is fermenting. When the wine has been drawn off from the lees, and time has matured it, of what kind will it be? And will the Lord of the Vineyard commend it?
The first white settler in Victoria was the escaped convict Buckley; but he did not cultivate the country, nor civilise the natives. The natives, on the contrary, uncivilised him. When white men saw him again, he had forgotten even his mother tongue, and could give them little information. For more than thirty years he had managed to live—to live like a savage; but for any good he had ever done he might as well have died with the other convicts who ran away with him. He never gave any clear account of his companions, and many people were of opinion that he kept himself alive by eating them, until he was found and fed by the blacks, who thought he was one of their dead friends, and had "jumped up a white fellow."
While Buckley was still living with the blacks about Corio Bay, in 1827, Gellibrand and Batman applied for a grant of land at Western Port, where the whalers used to strip wattle bark when whales were out of season; but they did not get it.
Englishmen have no business to live anywhere without being governed, and Colonel Arthur had no money to spend in governing a settlement at Western Port. So Australia Felix was unsettled for eight years longer.
Griffiths & Co., of Launceston, were trading with Sydney in 1833. Their cargo outward was principally wheat, the price of which varied very much; sometimes it was 2s. 6d. a bushel in Launceston, and 18s. in Sydney. The return cargo from Port Jackson was principally coal, freestone, and cedar.
Griffiths & Co. were engaged in whaling in Portland Bay. They sent there two schooners, the 'Henry' and the 'Elizabeth', in June, 1834. They erected huts on shore for the whalers. The 'Henry' was wrecked; but the whales were plentiful, and yielded more oil than the casks would hold, so the men dug clay pits on shore, and poured the oil into them. The oil from forty-five whales was put into the pits, but the clay absorbed every spoonful of it, and nothing but bones was gained from so much slaughter. Before the 'Elizabeth' left Portland Bay, the Hentys, the first permanent settlers in Victoria, arrived in the schooner 'Thistle', on November 4th, 1834.
When the whalers of the 'Elizabeth' had been paid off, and had spent their money, they were engaged to strip wattle bark at Western Port, and were taken across in the schooner, with provisions, tools, six bullocks and a dray. During that season they stripped three hundred tons of bark and chopped it ready for bagging. John Toms went over to weigh and ship the bark, and brought it back, together with the men, in the barque 'Andrew Mack'.
WRECK OF THE CONVICT SHIP "NEVA," ON KING'S ISLAND.
She sailed from Cork on January 8th, 1835, B. H. Peck, master; Dr. Stevenson, R.N., surgeon. She had on board 150 female prisoners and thirty-three of their children, nine free women and their twenty-two children, and a crew of twenty-six. Several ships had been wrecked on King's Island, and when a vessel approached it the mate of the watch warned his men to keep a bright look out. He said, "King's Island is inhabited by anthropophagi, the bloodiest man eaters ever known; and, if you don't want to go to pot, you had better keep your eyes skinned." So the look-out man did not go to sleep.
Nevertheless, the 'Neva' went ashore on the Harbinger reef, on May 13th unshipped her rudder and parted into four pieces. Only nine men and thirteen women reached the island; they were nearly naked and had nothing to eat, and they wandered along the beach during the night, searching amongst the wreckage. At last they found a puncheon of rum, upended it, stove in the head, and drank. The thirteen women then lay down on the sand close together, and slept. The night was very cold, and Robinson, an apprentice, covered the women as well as he could with some pieces of sail and blankets soaked with salt water. The men walked about the beach all night to keep themselves warm, being afraid to go inland for fear of the cannibal blackfellows. In the morning they went to rouse the women, and found that seven of the thirteen were dead.
The surviving men were the master, B. H. Peck, Joseph Bennet, Thomas Sharp, John Watson, Edward Calthorp, Thomas Hines, Robert Ballard, John Robinson, and William Kinderey. The women were Ellen Galvin, Mary Stating, Ann Cullen, Rosa Heland, Rose Dunn, and Margaret Drury.
For three weeks these people lived almost entirely on shellfish. They threw up a barricade on the shore, above high water mark, to protect themselves against the cannibals. The only chest that came ashore unbroken was that of Robinson the apprentice, and in it there was a canister of powder. A flint musket was also found among the wreckage, and with the flint and steel they struck a light and made a fire. When they went down to the beach in search of shellfish, one man kept guard at the barricade, and looked out for the blackfellows; his musket was loaded with powder and pebbles.
Three weeks passed away before any of the natives appeared, but at last they were seen approaching along the shore from the south. At the first alarm all the ship-wrecked people ran to the barricade for shelter, and the men armed themselves with anything in the shape of weapons they could find. But their main hope of victory was the musket. They could not expect to kill many cannibals with one shot, but the flash and report would be sure to strike them with terror, and put them to flight.
By this time their diet of shellfish had left them all weak and emaciated, skeletons only just alive; the anthropophagi would have nothing but bones to pick; still, the little life left in them was precious, and they resolved to sell it as dear as they could. They watched the savages approaching; at length they could count their number. They were only eleven all told, and were advancing slowly. Now they saw that seven of the eleven were small, only picaninnies. When they came nearer three out of the other four were seen to be lubras, and the eleventh individual then resolved himself into a white savage, who roared out, "Mates ahoy!"
The white man was Scott, the sealer, who had taken up is abode on the island with his harem, three Tasmanian gins and seven children.
They were the only permanent inhabitants; the cannibal blacks had disappeared, and continued to exist only in the fancies of the mariners. Scott's residence was opposite New Year's Island not far from the shore; there he had built a hut and planted a garden with potatoes and other vegetables. Flesh meat he obtained from the kangaroos and seals. Their skins he took to Launceston in his boat, and in it he brought back supplies of flour and groceries. He had observed dead bodies of women and men, and pieces of a wrecked vessel cast up by the sea, and had travelled along the shore with his family, looking for anything useful or valuable which the wreck might yield. After hearing the story, and seeing the miserable plight of the castaways, he invited them to his home. On arriving at the hut Scott and his lubras prepared for their guests a beautiful meal of kangaroo and potatoes. This was their only food as long as they remained on King's Island, for Scott's only boat had got adrift, and his flour, tea, and sugar had been all consumed. But kangaroo beef and potatoes seemed a most luxurious diet to the men and women who had been kept alive for three weeks on nothing but shellfish.
Scott and his hounds hunted the kangaroo, and supplied the colony with meat. The liver of the kangaroo when boiled and left to grow cold is a dry substance, which, with the help of hunger and a little imagination, is said to be as good as bread.
In the month of July, 1835, heavy gales were blowing over King's Island. For fourteen days the schooner 'Elizabeth', with whalers for Port Fairy, was hove to off the coast, standing off and on, six hours one way and six hours the other. Akers, the captain, and his mate got drunk on rum and water daily. The cook of the 'Industry' was on board the 'Elizabeth', the man whom Captain Blogg was flogging when his crew seized him and threw him overboard. The cook also was now pitched overboard for having given evidence against the four men who had saved him from further flogging.
At this time also Captain Friend, of the whaling cutter 'Sarah Ann', took shelter under the lee of New Year's Island, and he pulled ashore to visit Scott the sealer. There he found the shipwrecked men and women whom he took on board his cutter, and conveyed to Launceston, except one woman and two men. It was then too late in the season to take the whalers to Port Fairy. Captain Friend was appointed chief District Constable at Launceston; all the constables under him were prisoners of the Crown, receiving half a dollar a day. He was afterwards Collector of Customs at the Mersey.
In November, 1835 the schooner 'Elizabeth' returned to Launceston with 270 tuns of oil. The share of the crew of a whaling vessel was one-fiftieth of the value of the oil and bone. The boat-steerer received one-thirtieth, and of the headmen some had one-twenty-fifth, others one-fifteenth. In this same year, 1835, Batman went to Port Phillip with a few friends and seven Sydney blackfellows. On June 14th he returned to Van Diemen's Land, and by the 25th of the same month he had compiled a report of his expedition, which he sent to Governor Arthur, together with a copy of the grant of land executed by the black chiefs. He had obtained three copies of the grant signed by three brothers Jagga-Jagga, by Bungaree, Yan-Yan, Moorwhip, and Marmarallar. The area of the land bought by Batman was not surveyed with precision, but it was of great extent, like infinite space, whose centre is everywhere, and circumference nowhere. And in addition he took up a small patch of one hundred thousand acres between the bay and the Barwon, including the insignificant site of Geelong, a place of small account even to this day. Batman was a long-limbed Sydney native, and he bestrode his real estate like a Colossus, but King William was a bigger Colossus than Batman—he claimed both the land and the blacks, and ignored the Crown grant.
Next, John Fawkner and his friends chartered the schooner 'Enterprise' for a voyage across the Straits to Australia Felix. He afterwards claimed to be the founder of Melbourne. He could write and talk everlastingly, but he had not the 'robur' and 'as triplex' suitable for a sea-robber. Sea-sickness nearly killed him, so he stayed behind while the other adventurers went and laid the foundation. They first examined the shores of Western Port, then went to Port Philip Bay and entered the River Yarra. They disembarked on its banks, ploughed some land, sowed maize and wheat, and planted two thousand fruit trees. They were not so grasping as Batman, and each man pegged out a farm of only one hundred acres. These farms were very valuable in the days of the late boom, and are called the city of Melbourne. Batman wanted to oust the newcomers; he claimed the farms under his grant from the Jagga-Jaggas. He squatted on Batman's Hill, and looked down with evil eyes on the rival immigrants. He saw them clearing away the scrub along Flinders Street, and splitting posts and rails all over the city from Spencer Street to Spring Street, regardless of the fact that the ground under their feet would be, in the days of their grandchildren, worth 3,000 pounds per foot. Their bullock-drays were often bogged in Elizabeth Street, and they made a corduroy crossing over it with red gum logs. Some of these logs were dislodged quite sound fifty years afterwards by the Tramway Company's workmen.
DISCOVERY OF THE RIVER HOPKINS.
"Know ye not that lovely river? Know ye not that smiling river? Whose gentle flood, by cliff and wood, With 'wildering sound goes winding ever."
In January, 1836, Captain Smith, who was in charge of the whaling station at Port Fairy, went with two men, named Wilson and Gibbs, in a whale boat to the islands near Warrnambool, to look for seal. They could find no seal, and then they went across the bay, and found the mouth of the river Hopkins. In trying to land there, their boat capsized in the surf, and Smith was drowned. The other two men succeeded in reaching the shore naked, and they travelled back along the coast to Port Fairy, carrying sticks on their shoulders to look like guns, in order to frighten away the natives, who were very numerous on that part of the coast. On this journey they found the wreck of a vessel, supposed to be a Spanish one, which has since been covered by the drifting sand. When Captain Mills was afterwards harbour master at Belfast, he took the bearings of it, and reported them to the Harbour Department in Melbourne. Vain search was made for it many years afterwards in the hope that it was a Spanish galleon laden with doubloons.
Davy was in the Sydney trade in the 'Elizabeth' until March, 1836; he then left her and joined the cutter 'Sarah Ann', under J. B. Mills, to go whaling at Port Fairy. In the month of May, Captain Mills was short of boats, and went to the Hopkins to look for the boat lost by Smith. He took with him two boats with all their whaling gear, in case he should see a whale. David Fermaner was in one of the boats, which carried a supply of provisions for the two crews; in the other boat there was only what was styled a nosebag, or snack—a mouthful for each man.
On arriving off the Hopkins, they found a nasty sea on, and Captain Mills said it would be dangerous to attempt to land; but his brother Charles said he would try, and in doing so his boat capsized in the breakers. All the men clung to the boat, but the off-sea prevented them from getting on shore. When Captain Mills saw what had happened, he at once pushed on his boat through the surf and succeeded in reaching the shore inside the point on the eastern side of the entrance. He then walked round towards the other boat with a lance warp, waded out in the water as far as he could, and then threw the warp to the men, who hauled on it until their boat came ashore, and they were able to land.
All the provisions were lost. The water was baled out of the boat that had been capsized, and she was taken over to the west head. All the food for twelve men was in the nosebag, and it was very little; each man had a mere nibble for supper. In those days wombats were plentiful near the river, but the men could not catch or kill one of them. Captain Mills had a gun in his boat which happened to be loaded, and he gave it to Davy to try if he could shoot anything for breakfast next morning. There was only one charge, all the rest of the ammunition having been lost in the breakers. Davy walked up the banks of the river early in the morning, and saw plenty of ducks, but they were so wild he could not get near them. At last he was so fortunate as to shoot a musk duck, which he brought back to the camp, stuck up before the fire, and roasted. He then divided it into twelve portions, and gave one portion to each of the twelve men for breakfast; but it was a mockery of a meal, as unsubstantial as an echo—smell, and nothing else.
The two boats were launched, and an attempt was made to pass out to sea through the surf, but the wind was far down south, and the men had to return and beach the boats. The sails were taken ashore and used as tents. In the evening they again endeavoured to catch a wombat, but failed.
On the next day they tried again to get out of the river, but the surf half filled the boats with water, and they were glad to reach the camp again.
Captain Mills was a native of Australia, and a good bushman; he told the men that sow thistles were good to eat, so they went about looking for them, and having found a quantity ate them. On the third day they tried once more to get out of the river, but without success.
On the fourth day Mills decided to carry the boats and whaling gear overland to a bight in the bay to the west. The gear was divided into lots among the men, and consisted of ten oars, two steer-oars, two tubs of whale line each 120 fathoms in length, two fifty-pound anchors, four harpoons, six lances, six lance warps, two tomahawks, two water kegs, two piggins for balers, two sheath knives, and two oil-stones for touching up the lances when they became dull. These were carried for about a quarter of a mile, and then put down for a rest, and the men went back to the camp. The boats were much lighter than the gear, being made of only half-inch plank. One boat was capsized bottom up, and the men took it on their shoulders, six on each side, the tallest men being placed in the middle on account of the shear of the boat, and it was carried about half a mile past the gear. They then returned for the other boat, and in this way brought everything to the bight close to the spot where the bathing house at Warrnambool has since been erected. There they launched the boats, and got out to sea, pulling against a strong westerly breeze.
The men were very weak, having had nothing to eat for four days but some sow thistles and a musk duck, and the pull to Port Fairy was hard and long. They landed about four o'clock in the afternoon, and Captain Mills told them not to eat anything, saying he would give them something better. At that time there was a liquor called "black strap," brought out in the convict ships for the use of the prisoners, and it was sold with the ships' surplus stores in Sydney and Hobarton. Mills had some of it at Port Fairy. He now put a kettle full of it on the fire, and when it was warmed gave each man a half a pint to begin with. He then told them to go and get supper, and afterwards he gave each of them another half pint.
Rum was in those days a very profitable article of commerce, and the trade in it was monopolised by the Government officers, civil and military. Like flour in the back settlements of the United States, it was reckoned "ekal to cash," and was made to do the office of the pagoda tree in India, which rained dollars at every shake.
The boat that was lost by Smith at the Hopkins was found in good condition, half filled with sand. Joe Wilson went for it afterwards, and brought it back to Port Fairy. He was a native of Sydney, and nephew of Raibey of Launceston, and was murdered not long afterwards at the White Hills. He was sent by Raibey on horseback to Hobarton to buy the revenue cutter 'Charlotte', which had been advertised for sale. He was shot by a man who was waiting for him behind a tree. He fell from his horse, and although he begged hard for his life, the man beat out his brains with the gun. The murderer took all the money Wilson had, which was only one five-pound note, the number of which Raibey knew. A woman tried to pass it in Launceston, and her statements led to the discovery and conviction of the murderer, who was hanged in chains at the White Hills, and the gibbet remained there for many years.
"I wish I were in Portland Bay, Oh, yes, Oh! Harpooning whales on a thirtieth lay, A hundred years ago."
In the year 1837, J. B. Mills had charge of the Portland Fishery, and Davy went with him in the 'Thistle' schooner as mate and navigator, and they were over a month on the passage. Charles Mills was second in command at the station at Portland, and Peter Coakley, an Irishman, was third; the remainder of the crew required for whaling was on board the 'Thistle'. Among them was one named McCann, a Sydney native, a stonemason by trade, and father of the McCann who was afterwards member of Parliament for Geelong. During a westerly gale the schooner ran to Western Port for shelter. In sailing through the Rip, McCann, who was acting as steward, while going aft to the cabin, had to cross over a colonial sofa which was lashed on deck. Instead of stepping over it gently, he made a jump, and the vessel lurching at the same time, he went clean overboard. Davy, who was standing by the man at the helm, told him to put the helm down and let the vessel come to. He then ran forward and got a steer-oar from underneath the boots, and threw it overboard. McCann, being an expert swimmer, swam to the oar, a boat was launched, four men got into it, picked him up, and brought him aboard again none the worse. There was too much sea on to hoist in the boat, as there were no davits, and while she was being towed in she ran ahead of the vessel, which went over her and filled her with water. On arriving in Western Port the boat was found to have been not much damaged. There was on board the 'Thistle' an apprentice whom Davy had stolen in Sydney after he had served four years of his time to a boat-builder named Green. This apprentice repaired the boat, which afterwards proved to be the fastest out of forty-one boats that went out whaling in Portland Bay every morning.
There were in 1837 eight parties of whalers in Portland Bay, and so many whales were killed that the business from that year declined and became unprofitable. Mills' party in the 'Thistle' schooner, of which Davy was mate and navigator, or nurse to Mills, who was not a trained seaman, had their station at Single Corner; Kelly's party was stationed at the neck of land where the breakwater has been constructed. Then there were Dutton's party, with the barque 'African'; Nicholson's, with the barque 'Cheviot', from Hobarton; Chamberlain's, with the barque 'William the Fourth', of Hobarton; the 'Hope' barque, and a brig, both from Sydney. The Hentys also had a whaling station at Double Corner, and by offering to supply their men with fresh meat three times a week, obtained the pick of the whalers. Their head men were Johnny Brennan, John Moles, and Jim Long, natives of Sydney or Tasmania, and all three good whalers.
When the 'Thistle' arrived at Portland Bay every other party had got nearly one hundred tuns of oil each, and Mills' party had none. He started out next morning, choosing the boat which had picked up McCann at Western Port, and killed one whale, which turned out six tuns of oil. He did not get any more for three weeks, being very unlucky. After getting the schooner ready for cutting in, Davy went to steer the boat for Charles Mills, and always got in a mess among the whales, being either capsized or stove in among so many boats. At the end of three weeks Captain Mills got a whale off the second river, halfway round towards Port Fairy. She was taken in tow with the three boats, and after two days' towing, she was anchored within half-a-mile of the schooner in Portland Bay, and the men went ashore. During the night a gale of wind came on from the south-west, and the whale, being a bit stale and high out of the water, drove ashore at the Bluff, a little way past Henty's house.
In the morning Mills said he would go and see what he could get from her on the beach, and ordered his brother, Charles Mills, and Coakley to go out looking for whales. All the boats used to go out before daylight, and dodge one another round the Bay for miles. It was cold work sitting in the boats. The men stayed out until ten or eleven o'clock, and went ashore that day on the Convincing Ground, which was so-called because the whalers used to go down there to fight, and convince one another who was the best man.
In the afternoon, about two o'clock, it was Davy's turn to go up a tree to look for whales. In looking round the Bay towards the Bluff, he saw a boat with a whiff on. He jumped down, and told Charles Mills, who said: "Come on." there was a great rush of all the boats, but Mills' boat kept well forward of the lot. When they arrived off the Bluff they found Captain Mills had fastened to a whale, two other loose whales being near. They pulled up alongside him, and he pointed out a loose whale, to which they fastened. Mansfield, of the Hobarton party, fastened to the third whale. Davy came aft to the steer-oar, and Charles Mills went forward to kill his whale. He had hardly got the lance in his hand when the whale threw herself right athwart the nose of the boat. He then sent the lance right into her and killed her stone dead. Mansfield, in hauling up his whale got on top of Captain Mills' whale, which stove in Mansfield's boat, and sent all his men flying in the air. There was a rush then to pick up the men. Charles Mills, finding his whale dead, struck a whiff in the lance-hole he had made when he killed her, cut the line that was fast to her, and bent it on to another spare iron. Mansfield's whale then milled round and came right on to Charles Mills' boat, and he fastened to her. This gave him a claim of one half of her, so that Mills and his men got two and a half out of the three whales. The men were all picked up. Mills' whales were anchored about half-a-mile from the schooner, and the boats went out next morning and took them in tow.
The whales tow very easily when fresh killed, but if they are allowed to get stiff their fins stand out and hinder the towing. When the two whales were brought alongside the schooner, the boats of Kelly's party were seen fast to a whale off Black Nose Point. Charles Mills pulled over, and when he arrived he found a loose whale, Mansfield and Chase being fast to two other whales. Mills fastened to the loose whale, and then the three whales fouled the three lines, and rolled them all together like a warp, which made it difficult to kill them. After the men had pulled up on them for some time with the oars, two of them began spouting blood and sickened, and Chase's boat got on to them and capsized. Then the whales took to running, and Mansfield cut his line to pick up Chase and his crew. Mansfield's whale being sick, went in a flurry and died. Mills' whale and Chase's worked together until Mills killed his whale; he then whiffed her and fastened to Chase's whale, which gave him a claim for half, and he killed her; so that his party got one and a-half out of the three whales. Chase and his crew were all picked up.
From that day the luck of Mills and his party turned, and they could not try out fast enough. In four months from the time the 'Thistle' left Launceston she had on board two hundred and forty tuns of oil.
In the year 1836, the Hentys had a few cattle running behind the Bluff when Major Mitchell arrived overland from Sydney, and reported good country to the north. They then brought over more cattle from Launceston, and stocked a station.
The first beast killed by the Hentys for their whalers was a heifer, and the carcase, divided into two parts, was suspended from the flagstaff at their house. It could be seen from afar by the men who were pulling across the bay in their boats, and they knew that Henty's men were going to feed on fresh meat, while all the rest were eating such awful stuff as Yankee pork and salt horse. The very sight of the two sides of the heifer suspended at the flagstaff was an unendurable insult and mockery to the carnivorous whalers, and an incitement to larceny. Davy Fermaner was steering one of the boats, and he exclaimed: "There, they are flashing the fresh meat to us. They would look foolish if they lost it to-night."