1st January. The new year was introduced with a pretty heavy gale of wind from the northward and westward, which was the first we had encountered since we left England. It began a little before 12 o’clock the preceding night, and continued till seven this evening. The Sirius was the whole day under her stay-sails, and the convoy under their fore-sail and stay-sails.
2d and 3rd January. Smart gales, with dark gloomy weather. Some seals and oceanic birds about the ship.
4th January. Cloudy weather, in latitude 44°2’S. The Sirius made the signal for the longitude by lunar observation, which was found to be 135°30’ East. In the evening some birds, called Mother Cary’s Chickens, were round the ship.
5th January. The weather cold and clear, the wind N.W. Passed some seaweed. In the morning the third mate thought he saw some divers; but, as they were not seen by any other person, not much attention was paid to the report. At night we had some squalls, with light showers of rain.
7th January. Early in the morning the Lady Penrhyn made the signal for seeing land; but it only proved to be a fog-bank; a circumstance that often deceives the anxious mariner. About two o’clock in the afternoon the Prince of Wales, being the headmost ship, made the same signal. The Charlotte being next in succession, the signal was scarcely displayed before we also discovered it very plainly through the haze, and repeated the signal, which was answered by the Sirius.
By our last lunar observation this land appears to be well laid down in Maskelyne’s Tables, and in the journals of the celebrated Cook: but to the surprise of every one on board, we found a small chart, published by Steele, and which was held in little estimation, to be not only accurate as to the situation, but also to give a tolerable appearance and description of Van Dieman’s Land: indeed such as may prove extremely useful to ships coming this way, and fully sufficient to enable them to avoid all danger if the weather be clear. For my own part, I see no hazard that attends making this land by day (such an attempt by night would be very incautious and absurd), as nature has been very particular in pointing out where it lies, by rocks which jutt out of the sea, like so many beacons.
I believe a convoy was never conducted with more care, or made the land with greater accuracy and certainly, than this. Indeed, ability and experienced nautical knowledge were never more fully evinced on all occasions than by Captain Hunter; who is, I may venture to pronounce, without much risk of having my veracity called in question, one of the most assiduous and accurate observers, and able navigators, the present day furnishes. His appointment to this expedition by Lord Howe is strongly marked with that prudence and wisdom which are known to govern his Lordship’s conduct. Captain Hunter has a pretty turn for drawing, which will enable him, no doubt, to give such a description of this coast as will do credit to himself, and be of singular advantage, as well to those whose lot it may be to visit, hereafter, this extensive coast, as to navigation at large.
The assistance of Lieutenant Bradley, first of the Sirius (who likewise is an officer of more than common abilities), as a navigator in conducting a convoy in a track so little known, must have been pleasing to Captain Hunter.
As we run in with the land, which is pretty high, we were surprised to see, at this season of the year, some small patches of snow. The haze being dispersed, by a gentle breeze at N.N.W., we could observe, and hear, as we were not more than six or seven miles from the shore, the surf beating high and loudly against some uneven rocks which jutted out, in strange projections, into the sea. This part of the coast, as far as we could see, is bold, irregular, and craggy; and very few trees, or appearance of verdure, to be seen.
At four in the afternoon, being about six or eight miles to the eastward of the eastward-most rock, called the Mewstone (there being several others which we distinctly saw), bearing N.N.W. we discovered to the westward of them some eminences, which probably might be islands; or, if not, some land running a considerable way into the sea. For my own part I am inclined to believe the latter to be the case; though the distance was too great to hazard a conclusive opinion upon it, as a large smoke was seen close to the innermost height.
About seven, steering to the eastward, along shore, nearly at the distance of four miles, being well in with the westward-most point of a very large bay, called Storm Bay, laid down in lat. 44°3’S. and long. 146°E. we discovered Swilly bearing S.E. 1/2S. and a little to the eastward of it a small rock rising out of the sea, distinguished by the name of the Eddystone, from its resemblance to the Eddystone light-house off Plymouth, which was very perceptible at the distance we were then from it. Our being close in with the land prevented us from seeing either of these before, as they lie at least six or seven leagues out to sea. From the S.W. cape, which lies in lat. 43°39’S. and long. 145°50’E. to the S.E. cape, which is admitted to be Tasman’s South Cape, is about the distance of fifteen or sixteen leagues. As we got to the eastward, we saw many trees, mostly of a dwarf or stunted kind, with a whitish bark, and perfectly leafless.
This part of the country still continued to be a rough, rugged, uneven tract, with very little appearance of fertility. Some small patches of verdure were discovered about Storm Bay, and the trees seemed to increase in number and size. Between eight and nine at night we saw a large fire on the east point of land which forms this bay, made by the natives, none of whom could we see during the day, though close in with the shore: nor did we perceive any other indication of its being inhabited but this fire, and the smoke mentioned to be seen on our first falling in with the land. The distance between the smoke and the fire was eight leagues, a space that would surely have exhibited some other proofs of populosity had it been thickly peopled.
About 10 o’clock, off Storm Bay, the weather moderately pleasant, the ship was taken aback. The Lady Penrhyn was then under our lee quarter, which obliged us to tack, after which we immediately wore, brought the ship to the wind on the other tack, and stood to sea with the rest of the ships. The wind was then at N.E. which just enabled us to weather Swilly and the Eddystone. As we got to sea the wind increased moderately.
8th January. The wind and weather variable; could perceive nothing of the land. I went on board the Fishburne, to see the boatswain, who, on the first night of the new year, having probably drank more grog than he ought, and the ship labouring much, had fallen from the top-sail yard, by which he bruised himself in a dreadful manner. The man being highly scorbutic, the parts soon mortified, and he died about half an hour after I got on board.
The master of the ship showed evident marks of great concern for this invaluable man, as he termed him. He declared to me that, sooner than venture again on so long a voyage without a surgeon, he would put to sea with less than half his complement of men; for he was strongly of opinion that if the poor fellow had received immediate assistance he would have recovered. I should have seen him sooner, but was prevented by my own indifferent state of health. How owners of ships can think of sending them through such a variety of climates, and a voyage of so great a length, without a surgeon, is to me a matter of surprise. The Lady Penrhyn, owned by Alderman Curtis, was the only merchant ship in our fleet that had a surgeon. What the others will do on their return, Heaven only knows; but this I well know, that they would never have reached thus far but for the succour given them by myself and my assistants.
9th January. Wind variable, and weather hazy, damp and dark; with some vivid flashes of lightning, succeeded by distant peals of loud thunder. On the morning of this day died Edward Thomson, a convict, worn out with a melancholy and long confinement. Had he lived, I think he would have proved a deserving member of society, as he seemed sensible of the impropriety and imprudence of his former life, and studious to atone for it.
10th January. The wind variable and weather dark and gloomy, with a very troublesome high sea. About two o’clock p.m. we had one of the most sudden gusts of wind I ever remember to have known. In an instant it split our main-sail; and but for the activity shewn by the sailors, in letting fly the sheets and lowering the top-sails, the masts must have gone over the side. The Prince of Wales, who was close to us, had her main yard carried away in the slings. Fortunately for us the squall was of short duration, otherwise the ships must have suffered considerably from the uncommon cross sea that was running; which we had found to be the case ever since we reached this coast.
11th and 12th January. The wind variable, inclining to the southward and westward, and still an unpleasant cross troublesome sea. We saw a whale, several seals, and many large oceanous birds, which we frequently fired at, without their betraying the smallest symptom of fear either at the report, or at the balls, which frequently dropped close to them. A conclusion may be drawn from hence, that they had never been harassed with fire-arms before; if they had, they would undoubtedly have shown some fear, a sensation they seemed to be totally unacquainted with. In all our firings we did not kill one of them.
19th January. In the evening we saw the land over Red Point, bearing W. by N. the extremes of the land from S.S.W. to N. We were then about three leagues from the shore, and, finding it unlikely to get in that night, Captain Hunter made the signal for the convoy to come within hail, when he acquainted them that the entrance into Botany Bay bore N.N.W.: adding that for the night he intended to stand off and on, and early in the morning make sail for the bay.
20th January. At four in the morning the Sirius and convoy made sail, and at eight o’clock anchored in eight fathom water; Cape Banks E.S.E., Point Solander S.S.E., and the entrance of the bay, between these two lands, W.S.W.
We found here the Supply tender, which had arrived the 18th, and the Alexander, Scarborough, and Friendship transports, who had only arrived the day before. To see all the ships safe in their destined port, without ever having, by any accident, been one hour separated, and all the people in as good health as could be expected or hoped for, after so long a voyage, was a sight truly pleasing, and at which every heart must rejoice. As we sailed into the bay, some of the natives were on the shore, looking with seeming attention at such large moving bodies coming amongst them. In the evening the boats were permitted to land on the north side, in order to get water and grass for the little stock we had remaining. An officer’s guard was placed there to prevent the seamen from straggling, or having any improper intercourse with the natives.
Captain Hunter, after anchoring, waited on the governor, on board the Supply, who, with several other officers, landed. As they rowed along the shore, some of the natives followed the boat; but on her putting in for the shore they ran into the woods. Some of the gentlemen, however, before they returned on board, obtained an interview with them, during which they showed some distrust, but, upon the whole, were civilly inclined. The boats sent to haul the seine returned, having had tolerable success. The fish they caught were bream, mullet, large rays, besides many other smaller species.
21st January. The governor, Captain Hunter, and the two masters of the men of war, with a party of marines, set off this morning, in two rigged long boats, to examine Port Jackson, a harbour lying a little to the northward, which was discovered by Captain Cook.
23rd January. The party returned this evening, full of praises on the extent and excellence of the harbour, as well as the superiority of the ground, water, and situation to that of Botany Bay, which, I own, does not, in my opinion, by any means merit the commendations bestowed on it by the muchlamented Cook, and others whose names and judgments are no less admired and esteemed.
During his excellency’s absence the lieutenant-governor had issued his orders to land all the artificers that could be found among the convicts, and a party of others, to clear the ground for the intended town, to dig sawpits, and to perform everything that was essential towards the works purposed to be carried on. Although the spot fixed on for the town was the most eligible that could be chosen, yet I think it would never have answered, the ground around it being sandy, poor, and swampy, and but very indifferently supplied with water. The fine meadows talked of in Captain Cook’s voyage I could never see, though I took some pains to find them out; nor have I ever heard of a person that has seen any parts resembling them.
While the people were employed on shore, the natives came several times among them, and behaved with a kind of cautious friendship. One evening while the seine was hauling, some of them were present, and expressed great surprise at what they saw, giving a shout expressive of astonishment and joy when they perceived the quantity that was caught. No sooner were the fish out of the water than they began to lay hold of them, as if they had a right to them, or that they were their own; upon which the officer of the boat, I think very properly, restrained them, giving, however, to each of them a part. They did not at first seem very well pleased with this mode of procedure, but on observing with what justice the fish was distributed they appeared content.
While we remained at Botany Bay, as I was one morning on board the Supply we saw twenty-nine of the natives on the beach, looking towards the shipping; upon which Lieutenants Ball and King, Mr. Dawes, and myself went on shore, landing at the place where they were. They were friendly and pacific, though each of them was armed with a spear or long dart and had a stick, with a shell at the end, used by them in throwing their weapons. Besides these, some few had shields made of the bark of the cork tree, of a plain appearance but sufficient to ward off or turn their own weapons, some of which were pointed and barbed with the bones of fish, fastened on with some kind of adhesive gum.
One of the most friendly, and who appeared to be the most confident, on signs being made to him, stuck the end of his shield in the sand, but could not be prevailed upon to throw his spear at it. Finding he declined it, I fired a pistol ball through it. The explosion frightened him, as well as his companions, a little; but they soon got over it, and on my putting the pistol into my pocket he took up the shield, and appeared to be much surprised at finding it perforated. He then, by signs and gestures, seemed to ask if the pistol would make a hole through him, and on being made sensible that it would, he showed not the smallest signs of fear; on the contrary he endeavoured, as we construed his motions, to impress us with an idea of the superiority of his own arms, which he applied to his breast, and by staggering, and a show of falling, seemed to wish us to understand that the force and effect of them was mortal, and not to be resisted.
However, I am well convinced that they know and dread the superiority of our arms, notwithstanding this show of indifference, as they, on all occasions, have discovered a dislike to a musquet: and so very soon did they make themselves acquainted with the nature of our military dress, that, from the first, they carefully avoided a soldier, or any person wearing a red coat, which they seem to have marked as a fighting vesture.
Many of their warriors, or distinguished men, we observed to be painted in stripes across the breast and back, which at some little distance appears not unlike our soldiers’ cross belts.
24th January. The boats were employed in getting water and grass for the live stock; as the governor, finding Port Jackson more suited to his wishes, had determined to remove to that place and form the settlement there. While these preparations were making, every person in the fleet was surprised to see, in this part of the world, two large ships plying hard in the offing to get into the bay. It was seen, in the evening, that they had French colours flying; but, the wind blowing pretty strong out of the bay, they were unable to get in, and, the weather becoming thick and hazy, we soon lost sight of them.
25th January. Nothing of the strange ships to be seen. The governor, with a detachment of marines, sailed in the Supply tender for Port Jackson, leaving instructions with Captain Hunter to follow him, with all the transports and victuallers, as soon as the wind and weather would permit.
26th January. We again descried the French ships standing in for the bay, with a leading wind; upon which Captain Hunter sent his first lieutenant on board the commanding officer’s ship, which was distinguished by a broad pendant, to assist them in coming in. Soon after the lieutenants were returned to the Sirius, Captain Clonnard, the French commodore’s captain (who during the late war commanded the Artois, taken by the Bienfaisant, Captain Macbride), waited on Captain Hunter, and informed him that the ships were the Astrolabe and the Boussale, which sailed from France in the year 1786, under the command of Messieurs de la Perouse and De Langle. He further acquainted him that, having touched at Navigator’s Isles, they had had the misfortune to lose Captain De Langle, the second in command, with ten other officers and two boats crews, all of whom were cut off by the natives of those islands, who appeared to be numerous and warlike. This accident induced them to put into this port in order to build some boats, which they had in frames. It also had afforded room for the promotion of Monsieur Clonnard, who, on their leaving France, was only the commodore’s first lieutenant.
At ten o’clock the Sirius, with all the ships, weighed, and in the evening anchored in Port Jackson, with a few trifling damages done to some of them, who had run foul of each other in working out of Botany Bay.
Port Jackson I believe to be, without exception, the finest and most extensive harbour in the universe, and at the same time the most secure, being safe from all the winds that blow. It is divided into a great number of coves, to which his excellency has given different names. That on which the town is to be built, is called Sydney Cove. It is one of the smallest in the harbour, but the most convenient, as ships of the greatest burden can with ease go into it, and heave out close to the shore. Trincomalé, acknowledged to be one of the best harbours in the world, is by no means to be compared to it. In a word, Port Jackson would afford sufficient and safe anchorage for all the navies of Europe.
The Supply had arrived the day before, and the governor, with every person that could be spared from the ship, were on shore, clearing the ground for the encampment. In the evening, when all the ships had anchored, the English colours were displayed; and at the foot of the flag-staff his Majesty’s health, and success to the settlement, was drank by the governor, many of the principal officers, and private men who were present upon the occasion.
27th January. A number of convicts from the different transports were landed to assist in clearing the ground for the encampment. His excellency marked the outlines, and, as much as possible to prevent irregularity, and to keep the convicts from straggling, the provost marshal, aided by the patrole, had orders to take into custody all convicts that should be found without the lines, and to leave them in charge of the main or quarter guard.
The boats sent this day to fish were successful. Some of the natives came into the little bay or cove where the seine was hauled, and behaved very friendly. Indeed they carried their civility so far, although a people that appeared to be averse to work, as to assist in dragging it ashore. For this kind office they were liberally rewarded with fish, which seemed to please them and give general satisfaction.
29th January. A convenient place for the cattle being found, the few that remained were landed. The frame and materials for the governor’s house, constructed by Smith in St. George’s Fields, were likewise sent on shore, and some preparations made for erecting it.
This day Captain Hunter and Lieutenant Bradley began to take a survey of the harbour. In the course of the last week, all the marines, their wives and children, together with all the convicts, male and female, were landed. The laboratory and sick tents were erected, and, I am sorry to say, were soon filled with patients afflicted with the true camp dysentery and the scurvy. More pitiable objects were perhaps never seen. Not a comfort or convenience could be got for them, besides the very few we had with us.
His excellency, seeing the state these poor objects were in, ordered a piece of ground to be inclosed, for the purpose of raising vegetables for them. The seeds that were sown upon this occasion, on first appearing above ground, looked promising and well, but soon after withered away, which was not indeed extraordinary, as they were not sown at a proper season of the year.
The sick have increased since our landing to such a degree, that a spot for a general hospital has been marked out and artificers already employed on it. A proper spot, contiguous to the hospital, has been chosen, to raise such vegetables as can be produced at this season of the year; and where a permanent garden for the use of the hospital is to be established.
1st February. We had the most tremendous thunder and lightning, with heavy rain, I ever remember to have seen.
2nd February. This morning five sheep, belonging to the lieutenant-governor and quarter-master, were killed by lightning under a tree, at the foot of which a shed had been built for them. The branches and trunk of the tree were shivered and rent in a very extraordinary manner.
5th February. A storehouse has been begun, for the purpose of receiving the stores and provisions of the three transports bound to China. On a muster of the convicts this morning, some were found to be missing, and supposed to have gone to Botany Bay, in hopes of being received on board the French ships, which are said to be short of hands, and made more so by the loss they had recently sustained, as before mentioned.
7th February. The governor’s commission, and that for establishing a criminal court of judicature, admiralty court, etc. were read. After this was done the troops under arms fired three volleys, when his excellency thanked the soldiers for their steady and good conduct, which Major Ross caused to be inserted in the general order book.
The governor then addressed the convicts in a short speech, extremely well adapted to the people he had to govern and who were then before him. Among many circumstances that would tend to their future happiness and comfort, he recommended marriage, assuring them that an indiscriminate and illegal intercourse would be punished with the greatest severity and rigour. Honesty, obedience, and industry, he told them, would make their situation comfortable, whereas a contrary line of conduct would subject them to ignominy, severities, and punishment. When the ceremony was concluded, his excellency, attended by all the officers of the colony, withdrew to a tent pitched for the occasion, where a cold dinner was laid out; and, after the cloth was removed, many loyal and public toasts were drank.
8th February. A party of the gentlemen of the garrison set out by land to pay a visit to the French at Botany Bay, from whom they met with the most hospitable, polite, and friendly reception and treatment. Many of the convicts who had been missing had been at Botany Bay. They had offered themselves to the French navigators on any terms, but not one of them had been received. This refusal obliged them to return; and when they came back they were real objects of pity. Conscious of the punishment that awaited so imprudent and improper an experiment, they had stayed out as long as the cravings of nature would permit, and were nearly half starved.
A woman, named Ann Smith, and a man have never since been heard of. They are supposed to have missed their way as they returned, and to have perished for want. As the French commodore had given his honour that he would not admit any of them on board, it cannot be thought he would take them. The convict, it is true, was a Frenchman, named Peter Paris, and it is possible, on that account, he might have been concealed, through pity, by his countrymen, and carried off without the knowledge of the commanding officer.
At the very time the party from hence were gone by land to Botany Bay, Captain Clonnard came round in a boat, on a visit of ceremony from Monsieur de la Peyrouse to the governor. He brought with him some dispatches, which he requested might be forwarded to the French ambassador at the court of London, by the first transports that sailed for England. The captain stayed all night and returned the next morning.
This day, for the first time, a Kangaroo was shot and brought into camp. Some of the natives passed pretty close to the Sirius, without seeming to express, by their countenance or actions, either fear, curiosity, or surprise.
During the course of this week fourteen marriages were solemnized.
The criminal court, consisting of six officers of his Majesty’s forces by land or sea, with the judge advocate, sat for the first time, before whom several convicts were tried for petty larceny. Some of them were acquitted, others sentenced to receive corporal punishment, and one or two were, by the decision of the court, ordered to a barren rock, or little island, in the middle of the harbour, there to remain on bread and water for a stated time.
12th February. The commissions were read a second time, at the desire of some of the officers whose situation with the battalion prevented them from being present at the first reading, after which the lieutenant-governor and judge advocate were sworn in justices of the peace, and Lieutenant King (second of the Sirius) superintendant and commanding officer of New Norfolk Island, an appointment given him by the governor.
14th February. The Supply sailed for Norfolk Island, with Lieutenant King and his detachment, consisting of Mr. Cunningham, master’s mate, and Mr. Jameson, surgeon’s first mate, of the Sirius, two marines, and twelve male and female convicts. The governor furnished him with provisions and stores of every kind for six months, and with tools for cutting down timber, which last employment was the purpose of his mission.
27th February. Thomas Barrett, Henry Lovel, and Joseph Hall, were brought before the criminal court and tried for feloniously and fraudulently taking away from the public store beef and pease, the property of the crown. They were convicted on the clearest evidence, and, sentence of death being passed on them, they were, about six o’clock the same evening, taken to the fatal tree, where Barrett was launched into eternity, after having confessed to the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who attended him, that he was guilty of the crime, and had long merited the ignominious death which he was about to suffer, and to which he said he had been brought by bad company and evil example. Lovel and Hall were respited until six o’clock the next evening. When that awful hour arrived, they were led to the place of execution, and, just as they were on the point of ascending the ladder, the judge advocate arrived with the governor’s pardon, on condition of their being banished to some uninhabited place.
29th February. Daniel Gordon and John Williams were tried and convicted of stealing wine, the property of Mr. Zachariah Clarke. Williams being an ignorant black youth, the court recommended him to the governor as a proper object of mercy, and he was accordingly pardoned. Gordon, who was another black, had his sentence of death, while at the gallows, changed to banishment with Lovel and Hall.
30th February (sic). John Freeman was tried for stealing from another convict seven pounds of flour. He was convicted and sentenced to be hanged; but while under the ladder, with the rope about his neck, he was offered his free pardon on condition of performing the duty of the common executioner as long as he remained in this country; which, after some little pause, he reluctantly accepted. William Sheerman, his accomplice, was sentenced to receive on his bare back, with a cat-o’nine-tails, three hundred lashes, which were inflicted.
A New Holland Cassowary was brought into camp. This bird stands seven feet high, measuring from the ground to the upper part of the head, and, in every respect, is much larger than the common Cassowary of all authors, and differs so much therefrom, in its form, as to clearly prove it a new species. The colour of the plumage is greatly similar, consisting of a mixture of dirty brown and grey; on the belly it was somewhat whiter; and the remarkable structure of the feathers, in having two quills with their webs arising out of one shaft, is seen in this as well as the common sort. It differs materially in wanting the horny appendage on the top of the head. The head and beak are much more like those of the ostrich than the common Cassowary, both in shape and size. Upon the upper part of the head the feathers, with which it is but thinly covered, are very small, looking more like hair than feathers, and in having the neck pretty well clothed with them, except the chin and throat, which are so thinly covered that the skin, which is there of a purplish colour, may be seen clearly. The small wings are exceedingly short, which form a ridiculous contrast with the body, as they are even less than those of the Cassowary: they have no large quills in them, being only covered with the small feathers that grow all over the body.
Another singularity also presents itself in this species, which is in respect to the legs. As to the back part of them, the whole length is indented, or sawed, in a remarkable manner. The toes are three in number, the middle one long, the other two short, with strong claws, not unlike the same part of the common species. On examining the viscera, they differed from that of every other species of the feathered kind which I had ever seen, particularly in having no gizzard, or second stomach, and the liver was so very small that it did not exceed in size that of a black- bird. To this liver was joined a large gall-bladder, well distended with bile.
The crop, or stomach, was filled with at least six or seven pounds of grass, flowers, and a few berries and seeds. The intestinal canal was at least six yards long, very wide, and of a regular cylindrical shape from the opening of the stomach to the vent. The heart and lungs were separated by a diaphragm or midriff, and bore a tolerable proportion to the size of the bird. The flesh of this bird was very good, and tasted not unlike young tender beef.
This bird is supposed to be not uncommon in New Holland, as it has been frequently seen by our settlers both at Botany Bay and Port Jackson, but is exceedingly shy and runs faster than a grey-hound. One of them, however, has been shot. [* A drawing was taken from this bird, of which an engraving is annexed. It has been lately sent to England by the governor as a present to Lord Sydney, who, through the medium of Sir Joseph Banks, has deposited it in the collections of Natural History of Mr. John Hunter in Leicester Square.]
9th March. The governor, with two long boats manned and armed, returned from Broken Bay, situated a little to the northward, which he had been exploring for several days. It affords good shelter for shipping, and the entrance is bold; it cannot, however, be compared to Port Jackson. While he was there, he saw a great many of the natives, some of whom he thinks he had observed before, either at Botany Bay or in the neighbourhood of Port Jackson. One of the females happened to fall in love with his great coat; and to obtain it she used a vareity of means. First, she danced, and played a number of antic tricks; but, finding this mode ineffectual, she had recourse to tears, which she shed plentifully. This expedient not answering, she ceased from weeping, and appeared as cheerful as any of the party around her. From this little incident it may be seen that they are not a people devoid of art.
At Broken Bay many of the females, young and old, had the first joint of the little finger on their left hand cut off. As this was the case with those who were married, or appeared to be so from their having young children, as well as with those who were too young for a connection of that nature, it was not possible to account for the cause of such an amputation.
Thefts and depredations on one another have become so very frequent and glaring among the convicts, that scarcely a day passes without some of these miserable delinquents being punished. So hardened in wickedness and depravity are many of them, that they seem insensible to the fear of corporal punishment, or even death itself.
The principal business going forward at present is erecting cabbage-tree huts for the officers, soldiers, and convicts; some storehouses, etc.; and a very good hospital; all which in the completion will cost a great deal of time and trouble, as the timber of this country is very unfit for the purpose of building. Nor do I know any one purpose for which it will answer except for fire-wood; and for that it is excellent: but in other respects it is the worst wood that any country or climate ever produced, although some of the trees, when standing, appear fit for any use whatever, masts for shipping not excepted. Strange as it may be imagined, no wood in this country, though sawed ever so thin, and dried ever so well, will float. Repeated trials have only served to convince me that, immediately on immersion, it sinks to the bottom like a stone.
The stone of this country is excellent for building, could any kind of cement be found to keep it together. There is not any limestone (I believe) in New South Wales. The governor, notwithstanding that he had collected together all the shells which could be found, for the purpose of obtaining from them the lime necessary to the construction of a house for his own residence, did not procure even a fourth part of the quantity which was wanted. The foundation stone of a private house for him has been laid, and a plate of copper, with the following inscription engraved on it, is to be placed in the wall:
ARTHUR PHILLIP, ESQ.
Captain General in and over his Majesty’s Territory
of New South Wales, and its Dependencies;
Arrived in this Country on the 18th Day of
January, 1788, with the first Settlers;
And on the 15th Day of May, in the same Year,
the first of these Stones was laid.
The Supply tender returned from Norfolk Island, where, with great difficulty and danger, the stores sent with Lieutenant King were landed, on account of the rockyness of its shore, and the violence of the surf that almost continually beats upon it. In her passage there she fell in with an island, in lat. 31°36’S. long. 159°4’E., never before discovered, to which Lieutenant Ball, who commanded the Supply on this occasion, gave the name of Lord Howe’s Island. On her return to this port she stopped at it, and found the landing nearly, if not quite, as difficult as at Norfolk Island. The shore in many places was covered with excellent turtle, eighteen of which were brought here, and proved a seasonable supply to the convicts afflicted with the scurvy, many of whom were in a deplorable situation.
The smallest turtle brought from Lord Howe’s Island did not weigh less than 150 lb. They also found on it, in great plenty, a kind of fowl, resembling much the Guinea fowl in shape and size but widely different in colour, they being in general all white, with a red fleshy substance rising, like a cock’s comb, from the head, and not unlike a piece of sealing wax. These not being birds of flight, nor in the least wild, the sailors, availing themselves of their gentleness and inability to take wing from their pursuits, easily struck them down with sticks.
There were also many birds of the dove kind, as tame as the former, and caught with equal facility. Some of them were brought alive to this place. Besides these, the shore abounded with sea birds of several species. The island is very barren, and not more than twenty miles in circumference.
25th March. The Scarborough, Lady Penrhyn, and Charlotte, transports, being cleared of government stores, were discharged from the service, and are shortly to depart for China in order to load home with tea, they being chartered by the East India company for that purpose.
15th April. His excellency, attended by Lieutenant Ball of the navy, Lieutenant George Johnston of the marines, the judge advocate, myself, three soldiers, and two seamen, landed in Manly Cove (so called from the manly conduct of the natives when the governor first visited it), on the north side of the entrance into Port Jackson harbour, in order to trace to its source a river which had been discovered a few days before. We, however, found this impracticable, owing to a thicket and swamp which ran along the side of it.
The governor, anxious to acquire all the knowledge of the country in his power, forded the river in two places, and more than up to our waists in water, in hopes of being able to avoid the thicket and swamp; but, notwithstanding all his perseverance, we were at length obliged to return and to proceed along the sea-shore, a mile or two to the northward.
At the end of this we fell in with a small salt-water lagoon, on which we found nine birds that, whilst swimming, most perfectly resembled the rara avis of the ancients - a black swan. We discharged several shots at them, but the distance was too great for execution. Our frequent firing, however, caused them to take wing, and they flew towards the sea, which was very near, in the order that wild geese generally preserve, the one before the other. Had we not raised them, we should certainly have concluded that they were black swans, but their flight gave us an opportunity of seeing some white feathers, which terminated the tip of each wing; in every other part they were perfectly black. Their size appeared not equal to that of an European swan, but the shape exactly corresponded, except about the wings, which seemed rather small for the body.
We not long after discovered the great brown King’s Fisher, of which a plate is annexed. This bird has been described by Mr. Latham in his General Synopsis of Birds, vol. ii., p. 603, nearly to the following purport:— The length eighteen inches; the bill black above and white beneath; the feathers of the head narrow and pretty long, so as to form a kind of crest. They are of a brown colour, streaked with paler brown; the back and wings in general brown; the lower part of the back and rump pale blue-green; the outer edges of the quills blue; within and the tips black; on the wing coverts is a patel of glossy blue-green; the tail is barred with ferruginous and steel-black, glossed with purple, the end, for one inch, white; the under part of the body is white, transversely streaked with dusky lines; legs yellow, claws black.
This bird is not uncommon in many islands of the South Seas, being pretty frequent at New Guinea, from whence the specimen came from which Mr. Latham took his description: it is also an inhabitant of New Holland, from whence several have been sent over to England.
We rounded this lagoon, and proceeded four or five miles westward, along the banks of a small fresh-water river, which emptied itself into it and had for its source only a swamp or boggy ground. After we had passed this swamp we got into an immense wood, the trees of which were very high and large, and a considerable distance apart, with little under or brush wood. The ground was not very good, although it produced a luxuriant coat of a kind of sour grass growing in tufts or bushes, which, at some distance, had the appearance of meadow land, and might be mistaken for it by superficial examiners.
Here we pitched our tents (without which the governor never travelled) for the night, near a swamp, out of which we were supplied with water, not, indeed, either of the best or clearest kind. The night being cold, and a heavy dew falling, we kept up a large fire before the tents, which, though in one respect an excellent precaution, far from chasing away seemed to allure the musquitos, which tormented us inexpressibly during the whole night.
We this day discovered the Banksian Cockatoo. This species was first described by Mr. Latham, in his seventh volume or supplement to the General Synopsis of Birds, and the one in the plate annexed differs from that in some few particulars. In Mr. Latham’s figure the general colour is dusky black, the feathers of the head longer than the rest, forming a crest; and each of those on the head, back of the neck, and major part of the wings has a spot of buff-colour at the tips; the under parts of the body barred with narrow bars of buff-colour; the tail is black at the bottom and ends of the feathers, but the middle of a fine red, barred irregularly with black. In our specimen, the general colour of the bird is olive, or rusty black; the head feathers pretty long, and about the sides of the head and top of it is a mixture of fine yellow; but none of the feathers are marked with buff at the tips, nor is the under part of the body crossed with buff-colour. In the tail it differs scarcely at all from Mr. Latham’s figure.
These birds have been met with in several parts of New Holland.
We likewise saw several Blue-bellied Parrots. This is a very beautiful bird, and Mr. Latham, whose leave we have to copy the account of it, from his Syn. vol. i., p. 213, No. 14. B., describes it thus: “The length is fifteen inches; the bill is reddish; orbits black; head and throat dark blue, with a mixture of lighter blue feathers; back part of the head green; towards the throat yellow green; back and wings green; prime quills dusky, barred with yellow; breast red, mixed with yellow; belly of a fine blue; thighs green and yellow; tail cuneiform; the two middle feathers green; the others the same, but bright yellow on the outer edges; legs dusky.”
This bird is a very common species in various parts of New Holland, and in great plenty both at Botany Bay and Port Jackson. It is found to differ much in plumage, several other varieties having been met with, which are natives of Amboina and others of the Molucca Islands.
16th April. We pursued our route westward, proceeding many miles inland without being able to trace, by a single vestige, that the natives had been recently in those parts. We saw, however, some proofs of their ingenuity in various figures cut on the smooth surface of some large stones. They consisted chiefly of representations of themselves in different attitudes, of their canoes, of several sorts of fish and animals; and, considering the rudeness of the instruments with which the figures must have been executed, they seemed to exhibit tolerably strong likenesses. On the stones, where the natives had been thus exercising their abilities in sculpture, were several weather-beaten shells. The country all around this place was rather high and rocky, and the soil arid, parched, and inhospitable.
In the evening, after a long and fatiguing march, we fell in with the north-west branch of Port Jackson harbour. Here the two seamen, overcome with fatigue, and having their shoes torn from their feet through the ruggedness of the road along which we had travelled, could proceed no further. This circumstance induced the governor to consign them to the care of Lieutenant Ball and a marine, supplying them with provisions sufficient to last them till they reached the ships. His excellency, with the rest of the party, pushed on to the westward, by the water side, in hopes of finding better land and a more open country.
About four o’clock in the afternoon we came to a steep valley, where the flowing of the tide ceased, and a fresh-water stream commenced. Here, in the most desert, wild, and solitary seclusion that the imagination can form any idea of, we took up our abode for the night, dressed our provisions, washed our shirts and stockings, and turned our inconvenient situation to the best advantage in our power.
Saw this day the Anomalous Hornbill, of which a plate is annexed. This bird is so very singular in its several characteristics that it can scarcely be said to which of the present known genera to refer it. In the bill it seems most allied to the hornbill, but the legs are those of a toucan, and the tongue is more like that of a crow than any other. It must therefore be left to future ornithologists or determine the point, resting here satisfied with describing its external appearance.
The size of the body is not much less than that of a crow: the bill is very large and bent, particularly at the tip of the upper mandible; the nostrils and space round the eyes are bare and red; the head, neck, and all beneath, are of a pale grey, crossed over the thighs with dusky lines; the back and wings dusky lead-colour, with the end of each feather black; the tail is long and wedgeshaped, the feathers white at the ends, near which is a bar of black. The bill and legs are brown; the toes are placed two before and two behind, as in the parrot or toucan genus.
This singular bird was met with at New Holland, from whence three or four specimens have found their way to England, but whether it is a numerous species has not been mentioned.
The next morning we hid our tents and the remains of our provisions, and, with only a little rum and a small quantity of bread, made a forced march into the country, to the westward, of about fourteen miles, without being able to succeed in the object of our search, which was for good land, well-watered. Indeed, the land here, although covered with an endless wood, was better than the parts which we had already explored. Finding it, however, very unlikely that we should be able to penetrate through this immense forest, and circumstanced as we were, it was thought more prudent to return. We, accordingly, after an expeditious walk, reached the stream from whence we had set out in the morning, and, taking up the tents and provisions which we had left, proceeded a little farther down, to the flowing of the tide, and there pitched our tents for the night, during which it rained very heavily, with thunder and lightning.
The Wattled Bee-eater, of which a plate is annexed, fell in our way during the course of the day. This bird is the size of a missel thrush but much larger in proportion, its total length being about fourteen inches. The feathers on the upper part of the head, longer than the rest, give the appearance of a crest; those of the underpart are smooth; the plumage for the most part is brown, the feathers long and pointed, and each feather has a streak of white down the middle; under the eye, on each side, is a kind of wattle, of an orange colour; the middle of the belly is yellow; the tail is wedge-shaped, similar to that of the magpie, and the feathers tipped with white; the bill and legs are brown. This bird seems to be peculiar to New Holland, and is undoubtedly a species which has not hitherto been described.
18th April. We began our progress early in the morning, bending our course down the river. Some places along the shore, where the tide had flowed so as to obstruct our passage, we were obliged to ford, and at times we were under the necessity of climbing heights nearly inaccessible. At length, after undergoing much fatigue, we were agreeably surprised, and cheered, with the sight of two boats, sent by Captain Hunter to meet us, and just then coming up with the tide. By them we learnt, that Lieutenant Ball, with his enfeebled party, had arrived safe at the ship the day after they had quitted us.
We all went on board the boats, and fell down the river till we got to a pleasant little cove, where we dined, with great satisfaction and comfort, upon the welcome provisions which were sent in the boats by the governor’s steward. After having refreshed ourselves, we again embarked, and about six o’clock in the evening arrived in Sydney Cove.
We were likewise able, during this excursion, to take one of the Goldwinged Pigeons, of which a plate is annexed. This bird is a curious and singular species, remarkable for having most of the feathers of the wing marked with a brilliant spot of golden yellow, changing, in various reflections of light, to green and copper-bronze, and, when the wing is closed, forming two bars of the same across it. The general colour of the bird otherwise is brown, changing to vinaceous red on the breast, in the manner of our domestic species. The fore part of the head and chin are buff colour, with a streak of brownish red passing on each side through the eye. The quills and tail are darker than the rest of the plumage, but all the feathers of the last, except the two middle ones, incline to lead colour, with a bar of black near the tip. The bill and legs are of a dull red.
This species is a native of New South Wales, several of them having been sent from Port Jackson.
22d April. On the morning of this day the governor, accompanied by the same party, with the addition of Lieutenant Cresswell of the marines and six privates, landed at the head of the harbour, with an intention of penetrating into the country westward, as far as seven days provisions would admit of; every individual carrying his own allowance of bread, beef, rum, and water. The soldiers, beside their own provisions, carried a camp kettle and two tents, with their poles, etc.
Thus equipped, with the additional weight of spare shoes, shirts, trowsers, together with a great coat, or Scotch plaid, for the purpose of sleeping in, as the nights were cold, we proceeded on our destination. We likewise took with us a small hand hatchet in order to mark the trees as we went on, those marks (called in America blazing) being the only guide to direct us in our return. The country was so rugged as to render it almost impossible to explore our way by the assistance of the compass.
In this manner we proceeded for a mile or two, through a part well covered with enormous trees, free from underwood. We then reached a thicket of brush-wood, which we found so impervious as to oblige us to return nearly to the place from whence we had set out in the morning. Here we encamped, near some stagnant water, for the night, during which it thundered, lightened [sic], and rained. About eleven o’clock the governor was suddenly attacked with a most violent complaint in his side and loins, brought on by cold and fatigue, not having perfectly gotten the better of the last expedition.
The next morning being fine, his excellency, who was rather better, though still in pain, would not relinquish the object of his pursuit; and therefore we proceeded, and soon got round the wood or thicket which had harassed us so much the day before. After we had passed it, we fell in with an hitherto unperceived branch of Port Jackson harbour, along the bank of which the grass was tolerably rich and succulent, and in height nearly up to the middle, interspersed with a plant much resembling the indigo.
We followed this branch westward for a few miles, until we came to a small fresh-water stream that emptied itself into it. Here we took up our quarters for the night, as our halts were always regulated by fresh water, an essential point by no means to be dispensed with, and not very abundant or frequently to be met with, in this country. We made a kettle of excellent soup out of a white cockatoo and two crows, which I had shot, as we came along. The land all around us was similar to that which we had passed.
At night we had thunder, lightning, and rain. The governor, though not free from pain, was rather recovering.
24th April. As soon as the dew, which is remarkably heavy in this country, was off the ground, we proceeded to trace the river, or small arm of the sea. The banks of it were now pleasant, the trees immensely large, and at a considerable distance from each other; and the land around us flat and rather low, but well covered with the kind of grass just mentioned. Here the tide ceased to flow; and all further progress for boats was stopped by a flat space of large broad stones, over which a fresh-water stream ran.
Just above this flat, close to the water-side, we discovered a quarry of slates, from which we expected to derive great advantage in respect to covering our houses, stores, etc., it being a material beyond conception difficult to be procured in this country; but on trial it was found of no use, as it proved to be of a crumbling and rotten nature. On this fresh-water stream, as well as on the salt, we saw a great many ducks and teal, three of which we shot in the course of the day, besides two crows and some loraquets.
About four in the afternoon, being near the head of the stream, and somewhat apprehensive of rain, we pitched our tents before the grass became wet, a circumstance which would have proved very uncomfortable during the night. Here we had our ducks picked, stuffed with some slices of salt beef, and roasted, and never did a repast seem more delicious; the salt beef, serving as a palatable substitute for the want of salt, gave it an agreeable relish.
The evening cleared up, and the night proved dry. During the latter, we heard a noise which not a little surprised us, on account of its resemblance to the human voice. What it proceeded from we could not discover, but I am of opinion that it was made by a bird, or some animal. The country round us was by no means so good, or the grass so abundant, as that which we had passed. The water, though neither clear nor in any great quantity, was neither of a bad quality nor ill-tasted.
The next day, after having sowed some seeds, we pursued our route for three or four miles west, where we met with a mean hut belonging to some of the natives, but could not perceive the smallest trace of their having been there lately. Close to this hut we saw a kangaroo, which had come to drink at an adjacent pool of stagnated water, but we could not get within shot of it. A little farther on we fell in with three huts, as deserted as the former, and a swamp, not unlike the American rice grounds.
Near this we saw a tree in flames, without the least appearance of any natives; from which we suspected that it had been set on fire by lightning. This circumstance was first suggested by Lieutenant Ball, who had remarked, as well as myself, that every part of the country, though the most inaccessible and rocky, appeared as if, at certain times of the year, it had been all on fire. Indeed in many parts we met with very large trees the trunks of which and branches were evidently rent, and demolished by lightning. Close by the burning tree we saw three kangaroos.
Though by this time very much fatigued, we proceeded about two miles farther on, in hopes of finding some good water, but without effect; and about half past four o’clock we took up our quarters near a stagnant pool. The ground was so very dry and parched that it was with some difficulty we could drive either our tent pegs or poles into it. The country about this spot was much clearer of underwood than that which we had passed during the day. The trees around us were immensely large, and the tops of them filled with loraquets and paroquets of exquisite beauty, which chattered to such a degree that we could scarcely hear each other speak. We fired several times at them, but the trees were so very high that we killed but few.
26th April. We still directed our course westward, and passed another tree on fire, and others which were hollow and perforated by a small hole at the bottom, in which the natives seemed to have snared some animal. It was certainly done by the natives, as the trees where these holes or perforations were, had in general many knotches cut for the purpose of getting to the top of them.
After this we crossed a water-course, which shews that at some seasons the rain is very heavy here, notwithstanding that there was, at present, but little water in it. Beyond the chasm we came to a pleasant hill, the top of which was tolerably clear of trees and perfectly free from underwood. His excellency gave it the name of Belle Veüe.
From the top of this hill we saw a chain of hills or mountains, which appeared to be thirty or forty miles distant, running in a north and south direction. The northernmost being conspicuously higher than any of the rest, the governor called it Richmond Hill; the next, or those in the centre, Lansdown Hills; and those to the southward, which are by much the lowest, Carmarthen Hills.
In a valley below Belle Veüe we saw a fire, and by it found some chewed root of a saline taste, which shewed that the natives had recently been there. The country hereabout was pleasant to the eye, well wooded, and covered with long sour grass, growing in tufts. At the bottom of this valley, or flat, we crossed another water-course and ascended a hill, where the wood was so very thick as to obstruct our view. Here, finding our provisions to run short, our return was concluded on, though with great reluctance, as it was our wish, and had been our determination, to reach the hills before us if it had been possible.
In our way back, which we easily discovered by the marks made in the trees, we saw a hollow tree on fire, the smoke issuing out of the top part as through a chimney. On coming near, and minutely examining it, we found that it had been set on fire by the natives; for there was some dry grass lighted and put into the hole wherein we had supposed they used to snare or take the animal before alluded to. In the evening, where we pitched our tents we shot two crows and some loraquets, for supper. The night was fine and clear, during which we often heard, as before, a sound like the human voice, and, from its continuance on one spot, we concluded it to proceed from a bird perched on some of the trees near us.
27th April. We now found ourselves obliged to make a forced march back, as our provisions were quite exhausted, a circumstance rather alarming in case of losing our way, which, however, we met with no difficulty in discovering by the marked trees. By our calculation we had penetrated into the country, to the westward, not less than thirty-two or thirty-three miles.
This day we saw the dung of an animal as large as that of a horse, but it was more like the excrement of a hog, intermixed with grass.
When we got as far back as the arm or branch of the sea which forms the upper part of Port Jackson harbour, we saw many ducks, but could not get within shot of any of them. It was now growing late, and the governor being apprehensive that the boats, which he had ordered to attend daily, might be, for that day, returning before we could reach them, he sent Lieutenants Johnston and Cresswell, with a marine, a-head, in order to secure such provisions as might have been sent up, and to give directions for the boats to come for us the next morning, as it then appeared very unlikely that all the party, who were, without exception, much fatigued, could be there soon enough to save the tide down. Those gentlemen accordingly went forward, and were so fortunate as to be just in time; and they returned to us with a seasonable supply of bread, beef, rum, and wine.
As soon as they had joined us, we encamped for the night, on a spot about the distance of a mile from the place where the boats were to take us up in the morning. His excellency was again indisposed, occasioned by a return of his complaint, which had been brought on by a fall into a hollow place in the ground that, being concealed by the long grass, he was unable to discern.
We passed the next day in examining different inlets in the upper part of the harbour. We saw there some of the natives, who, in their canoes, came along-side of the boat, to receive some trifles which the governor held out to them. In the evening we returned to Sydney Cove.
1st May. James Bennet, a youth, was executed for robbing a tent, belonging to the Charlotte transport, of sugar and some other articles. Before he was turned off he confessed his guilt, and acknowledged that, young as he was, he had been an old offender. Some other trifling thefts were brought before the court at the same time, and those concerned in them sentenced to receive corporeal punishment.
The Supply tender sailed for Lord Howe’s Island to fetch turtle; as did the Lady Penrhyn transport for China. The Scarborough dropped down the harbour; she was followed the next day by the Charlotte, and they sailed in company for China.
Some of the natives came along-side the Sirius, and made signs to have their beards taken off. One of them patiently, and without fear or distrust, underwent the operation from the ship’s barber, and seemed much delighted with it.
21st May. William Ayres, a convict, who was in a state of convalescence, and to whom I had given permission to go a little way into the country, for the purpose of gathering a few herbs wherewith to make tea, was, after night, brought to the hospital with one of the spears used by the natives sticking in his loins. It had been darted at him as he was stooping, and while his back was turned to the assailant. The weapon was barbed, and stuck so very fast that it would admit of no motion. After dilating the wound to a considerable length and depth, with some difficulty I extracted the spear, which had penetrated the flesh nearly three inches.
After the operation, he informed us that he received his wound from three of the natives, who came behind him at a time when he suspected no person to be near him except Peter Burn, whom he had met a little before, employed on the same business as himself. He added that after they had wounded him they beat him in a cruel manner, and, stripping the cloaths from his back, carried them off; making signs to him (as he interpreted them) to return to the camp. He further related that after they had left him he saw Burn in the possession of another party of the natives, who were dragging him along, with his head bleeding, and seemingly in great distress, while he himself was so exhausted with loss of blood that, instead of being able to assist his companion, he was happy to escape with his life.
The Port Jackson thrush, of which a plate is annexed, inhabits the neighbourhood of Port Jackson. The top of the head in this species is blueish-grey; from thence down the hind part of the neck and the back the colour is a fine chocolate brown; the wings and tail are lead colour, the edges of the feathers pale; the tail itself pretty long, and even at the end; all the under parts from chin to vent are dusky-white, except the middle of the neck, just above the breast, which inclines to chocolate. The bill is of a dull yellow; legs brown.
25th May. The Supply arrived from Lord Howe’s Island without a single turtle, the object for which she was sent: a dreadful disappointment to those who were languishing under the scurvy, many of whom are since dead, and there is great reason to fear that several others will soon share the same fate. This disorder has now risen to a most alarming height, without any possibility of checking it until some vegetables can be raised, which, from the season of the year, cannot take place for many months. And even then I am apprehensive that there will not be a sufficiency produced, such are the labour and difficulty which attend the clearing of the ground.
It will scarcely be credited when I declare that I have known twelve men employed for five days in grubbing up one tree; and, when this has been effected, the timber (as already observed) has been only fit for fire-wood; so that in consequence of the great labour in clearing of the ground and the weak state of the people, to which may be added the scarcity of tools, most of those we had being either worn out by the hardness of the timber or lost in the woods among the grass through the carelessness of the convicts, the prospect before us is not of the most pleasing kind.
All the stock that was landed, both public and private, seems, instead of thriving, to fall off exceedingly. The number at first was but inconsiderable, and even that number is at present much diminished. The sheep, in particular, decrease rapidly, very few being now alive in the colony, although there were numbers, the property of Government or individuals, when first landed.
26th May. Two men of the Sirius were brought before the criminal court and tried for assaulting and beating, in a cruel manner, another man belonging to the same vessel, while employed on an island appropriated by the governor to the use of the ship. They were sentenced to receive five hundred lashes each, but could not undergo the whole of that punishment, as, like most of the persons in the colony, they were much afflicted with the scurvy.
28th May. Captain Hunter, his first lieutenant, and the surgeon of the Sirius went to the point of land which forms the north head of Port Jackson. In going there they discovered an old man, with a little girl about five years of age, lying close to the ground watching their motions, and at the same time endeavouring to conceal themselves. The surgeon had his gun with him, the effects of which he let the old man see by shooting a bird, which fell at his feet. The explosion at first greatly alarmed him, but, perceiving that they intended him no ill, he soon got over his fears. The bird was then given to him, which (having barely plucked, and not more than half broiled it) he devoured, entrails, bones, and all. The little girl was much frightened, and endeavoured to hide herself behind the old man, to escape the least observation.
30th May. Captain Campbell of the marines, who had been up the harbour to procure some rushes for thatch, brought to the hospital the bodies of William Okey and Samuel Davis, two rush-cutters, whom he had found murdered by the natives in a shocking manner.
Okey was transfixed through the breast with one of their spears, which with great difficulty and force was pulled out. He had two other spears sticking in him to a depth which must have proved mortal. His skull was divided and comminuted so much that his brains easily found a passage through. His eyes were out, but these might have been picked away by birds.
Davis was a youth, and had only some trifling marks of violence about him. This lad could not have been many hours dead, for when Captain Campbell found him, which was among some mangrove-trees, and at a considerable distance from the place where the other man lay, he was not stiff nor very cold; nor was he perfectly so when brought to the hospital. From these circumstances we have been led to think that while they were dispatching Okey he had crept to the trees among which he was found, and that fear, united with the cold and wet, in a great degree contributed to his death.
What was the motive or cause of this melancholy catastrophe we have not been able to discover, but from the civility shewn on all occasions to the officers by the natives, whenever any of them were met, I am strongly inclined to think that they must have been provoked and injured by the convicts.
We this day caught a Yellow-eared Flycatcher (see annexed plate). This bird is a native of New Holland, the size of a martin, and nearly seven inches in length; the bill is broad at the bottom and of a pale colour; the legs dusky; the plumage is mostly brown, mottled with paler brown; the edges of the wing feathers yellowish; the under part of the body white, inclining to dusky about the chin and throat; the tail is pretty long and, when spread, seems hollowed out at the tip; beneath the eye, on each side, is an irregular streak, growing wider and finishing on the ears, of a yellow or gold colour.
Early the next morning the governor, Lieutenants G. Johnston and Kellow, myself, six soldiers, and two armed convicts, whom we took as guides, went to the place where the murder had been committed, in hopes, by some means or other, to be able to find out either the actual perpetrators or those concerned. As most of their clothes and all their working tools were carried off, we expected that these might furnish us with some clue, but in this we were disappointed. We could not observe a single trace of the natives ever having been there.
We then crossed the country to Botany Bay, still flattering ourselves that we might be able to discover, among a tribe at that place, some proof that they had been concerned, as the governor was resolved on whomsoever he found any of the tools or clothing to shew them his displeasure, and by every means in his power endeavour to convince them of his motives for such a procedure. In our route we saw several kangaroos, and shot a very fine teal.
A little before sun-set, after a long and fatiguing march, we arrived at Botany Bay. When we approached the bay we saw eleven canoes, with two persons in each, fishing; most of them had a fire in their canoe, a convenience which they seldom go without at any time or season, but particularly at this as the weather was very cold. Here we pitched our tents, for (as I have before observed) we never travel without them, and kindled large fires both in front and rear; still, however, the cold was so very intense that we could scarcely close our eyes during the night. In the morning the grass was quite white with a hoar frost, so as to crackle under out feet.
After breakfast we visited the grave of the French abbé who died whilst the Count de Peyrouse was here. It was truly humble indeed, being distinguished only by a common head-stone, stuck slightly into the loose earth which covered it. Against a tree, just above it, was nailed a board, with the following inscription on it:
EX F. F. MINORIBUS GALLIA SACERDOS
PHYSICUS IN CIRCUMNAVIGATIONE MUNDI
DUCE D. DE LA PEYROUSE.
OBIIT DIE 17th FEBR. ANNO 1788.
As the painting on the board could not be permanent, Governor Phillip had the inscription engraved on a plate of copper and nailed to the same tree; and at some future day he intends to have a handsome head-stone placed at the grave. We cut down some trees which stood between that on which the inscription is fixed and the shore, as they prevented persons passing in boats from seeing it.
Between this and the harbour’s mouth we found forty-nine canoes hauled upon the beach, but not a native to be seen. After we had passed them, we fell in with an Indian path, and, as it took a turn towards the camp, we followed it about two miles, when, on a sudden, in a valley or little bay to the northward of Botany Bay we were surprised at hearing the sound of voices, which we instantly found to proceed from a great number of the natives, sitting behind a rock, who appeared to be equally astonished with ourselves, as, from the silence we observed, they had not perceived us till we were within twenty yards of them.
Every one of them, as they got up, armed himself with a long spear, the short stick before described, used in throwing it, a shield made of bark, and either a large club, pointed at one end, or a stone hatchet. At first they seemed rather hostilely inclined, and made signs, with apparent tokens of anger, for us to return; but when they saw the governor advance towards them, unarmed, and with his hands opened wide (a signal we had observed among them of amity and peace), they, with great confidence, came up to him, and received from him some trifles which he had in his pocket, such as fish-hooks, beads, and a looking-glass.
As there appeared not to be less than three hundred of them in this bay, all armed, the soldiers were ordered to fix their bayonets, and to observe a close, well-connected order of march, as they descended the hill. These people (as already mentioned) seem to dislike red coats and and those who carry arms, but on the present occasion they shewed very little fear or distrust; on the contrary, they in a few minutes mixed with us, and conducted us to a very fine stream of water, out of which some of them drank, to shew that it was good.
The women and children kept at some distance, one or two more forward than the rest excepted, who came to the governor for some presents. While he was distributing his gifts, the women danced (an exercise every description of people in this country seem fond of), and threw themselves into some not very decent attitudes. The men in general had their skins smeared all over with grease, or some stinking, oily substance; some wore a small stick or fish-bone, fixed crossways, in the division of the nose, which had a very strange appearance; others were painted in a variety of ways, and had their hair ornamented with the teeth of fish, fastened on by gum, and the skin of the kangaroo.
As they conducted us to the water, a toadstool was picked up by one of our company, which, some of the natives perceiving, they made signs for us to throw it away, as not being good to eat. Soon after I gathered some woodsorrel, which grew in our way, but none of them endeavoured to prevent me from eating it; on the contrary, if a conclusion may be drawn from the signs which they made relative to the toadstool, they shewed, by their looks, that there was nothing hurtful in it.
We halted but a short time with them, as it was growing late and we had a long way to walk. Before we parted from them the governor gave them two small hand-axes, in exchange for some of their stone axes and two of their spears. As we ascended a hill, after our departure from them, eight of them followed us until we had nearly reached the top, where one of those who had been most familiar with us made signs for us to stop; which we readily complying with, he ran to the summit and made a strange kind of hallooing, holding at the same time his hands open above his head.
As soon as we came up to him, we discovered another large body of them in a bay, about half a mile below us. Our new friend seemed anxious to carry us down to them, but, it not being in our way, we declined his offer. Seeing us take another direction, he halted and opened his hands, in order, as we supposed, to put us in mind that he had received nothing from us; upon which we presented him with a bird, the only thing we had, with which he returned, to appearance, fully content and satisfied.
We now proceeded towards the camp, where we arrived about sun-set.
This was the greatest number of the natives we had ever seen together since our coming among them. What could be the cause of their assembling in such numbers gave rise to a variety of conjectures. Some thought they were going to war among themselves, as they had with them a temporary store of half-stinking fish and fern-root, the latter of which they use for bread. This we remarked as several of them were eating it at the time we were among them. Others conjectured that some of them had been concerned in the murder of our men, notwithstanding we did not meet with the smallest trace to countenance such an opinion, and that, fearing we should revenge it, they had formed this convention in order to defend themselves against us. Others imagined that the assemblage might be occasioned by a burial, a marriage, or some religious meeting.
The Tabuan Parrot, one of which was observed here, and of which a plate is annexed, is a bird about eighteen inches in length, and bigger than the Scarlet Lory. The head, neck, and under parts are of a fine scarlet; the upper parts of the body and wings are of a beautiful green; across the upper part of the wing coverts is an oblique bar of yellowish green, more glossy than the rest; the lower part of the back and rump is blue; there is also a small patch of blue at the lower part of the neck behind, between a scarlet and green, dividing those colours; the tail is pretty long, and of an olive brown colour; the bill is reddish; the legs deep brown, nearly black.
The female is mostly green; the head, neck, and under parts olive brown; belly red; rump blue; tail, on the upper surface, green, beneath dusky.
The above inhabits Botany Bay, and seems much allied to the Tabuan Parrot described by Mr. Latham in his Synopsis of Birds; but in that the head, neck, and under parts incline to purplish or chocolate colour; both quills and tail are blue, more or less edged with green, and a crescent of blue at the back part of the neck; it has also the under jaw surrounded with green feathers. It is probable, therefore, that our bird is only a variety of the Tabuan species.
4th June. This being the anniversary of his Majesty’s birth-day, and the first celebration of it in New South Wales, his excellency ordered the Sirius and Supply to fire twenty-one guns at sun-rise, at one o’clock, and at sunset.
Immediately after the King’s ships had ceased firing, at one o’clock, the Borrowdale, Friendship, Fishburne, Golden Grove, and Prince of Wales fired five guns each. The battalion was under arms at twelve and fired three vollies, succeeded by three cheers.
After this ceremony had taken place, the lieutenant-governor, with all the officers of the settlement, civil and military, paid their respects to his excellency at his house. At two o’clock they all met there again to dinner, during which the band of musick played “God save the King” and several excellent marches. After the cloth was removed, his Majesty’s health was drank with three cheers. The Prince of Wales, the Queen and royal family, the Cumberland family, and his Royal Highness Prince William Henry succeeded. His Majesty’s ministers were next given; who, it was observed, may be Pitted against any that ever conducted the affairs of Great Britain.
When all the public toasts had gone round, the governor nominated the district which he had taken possession of, Cumberland County; and gave it such an extent of boundary as to make it the largest county in the whole world. His excellency said that he had intended to have named the town, and laid the first stone, on this auspicious day, but the unexpected difficulties which he had met with, in clearing the ground and from a want of artificers, had rendered it impossible; he therefore put it off till a future day. Its name, however, we understand, is to be ALBION.
The day was passed in cheerfulness and good-humour; but it was a little damped by our perceiving that the governor was in great pain, from a return of his complaint. Though his countenance too plainly indicated the torture which he suffered, he took every method in his power to conceal it, lest it should break in upon the festivity and harmony of the day.
His excellency ordered every soldier a pint of porter, besides his allowance of grog, and every convict half a pint of spirits, made into grog, that they all might drink his Majesty’s health; and, as it was a day of general rejoicing and festivity, he likewise made it a day of forgiveness, remitting the remainder of the punishment to which the sailors of the Sirius were subject, and pardoning Lovel, Sideway, Hall, and Gordon, who had been confined on a little sterile island, or rather rock, situated in the harbour, until a place of banishment could be found.
This act of lenity and mercy, added to many others which the governor had shewn, it is to be hoped will work some change on the minds of these men. Indeed some good may be expected from Hall and Gordon, who, since their sentence, have appeared penitent; but from Lovel and Sideway very little change for the better can be expected, because they seem so truly abandoned and incorrigible.
At night every person attended an immense bonfire that was lighted for the occasion, after which the principal officers of the settlement, and of the men of war, supped at the governor’s, where they terminated the day in pleasantry, good humour and cheerfulness.
The next morning we were astonished at the number of thefts which had been committed, during the general festivity, by the villanous part of the convicts, on one another, and on some of the officers, whose servants did not keep a strict look-out after their marquees. Availing themselves thus of the particular circumstances of the day, is a strong instance of their unabated depravity and want of principle. Scarcely a day passes without an example being made of some one or other of these wretches, but it seems to have no manner of effect upon them.
10th June. John Ascott and Patrick Burn, two convicts, were brought before the criminal court and prosecuted by Lieutenant G. William Maxwell of the Sirius, and Mr Kelter, the Master of the same ship, for having, a few nights before, in a riotous manner, with many more of the convicts, attacked some seamen belonging to the men of war, and behaving in an insolent and contemptuous manner to them. After a long and judicious hearing, the prisoners were acquitted, as the charge brought against them was by no means substantiated.
26th June. About four in the afternoon a slight shock of an earthquake was felt at Sydney Cove and its environs. This incident had so wonderful an effect on Edward Corbett, a convict, who had eloped about three weeks before, on a discovery being made of his having stolen a frock, that he returned and gave himself up to justice. A few days antecedent to his return he had been outlawed, and was supposed to have driven off with him four cows, the only animals of this kind in the colony. This, however, he declared himself innocent of, but confessed his having committed the theft laid to his charge.
The strictest search was made, but in vain, after the cows. It is probable that they have strayed so far off, in this endless wild, as to be irrecoverably lost.
Previously to the return of Corbett he must have suffered very severely from hunger; his eyes were sunk into his head and his whole appearance shewed that he had been half starved. While he was absent, he says, he frequently fell in with the natives, who, though they never treated him ill, did not seem to like his company. He informed us that, in a bay adjacent to that where the governor and his party had met with so many of the natives, he saw the head of one of the convicts lying near the place where the body had been burnt in a large fire. This, in all likelihood, was Burn, who was carried off at the time Ayres was wounded, as he has not been heard of since.
The natives of this country, though their mode of subsisting seems to be so very scanty and precarious, are, I am convinced, not cannibals. One of their graves, which I saw opened, the only one I have met with, contained a body which had evidently been burned, as small pieces of the bones lay in the bottom of it. The grave was neatly made, and well covered with earth and boughs of trees.
The Pennantian Parrot (of which see plate annexed) was about this time first noticed. The general colour of the body, in the male, is crimson; the feathers of the back black in their middle; the chin and throat blue; the wings blue, with a bar of a paler colour down the middle of them; the tail is long, and blue also, and all but the two middle feathers have the ends very pale.
The female differs in having the upper parts of the neck and body of a greenish colour; the top of the head red, and a patch of the same under each eye; the chin and throat blue; lower part of the neck and breast red, as are the rump and vent; the middle of the belly dusky green; tail dark blue, fringed with chestnut; shoulders blue; the rest of the wing the same, but darker; bill and legs as in the male.
24th June. The governor revoked the decree by which Corbett was outlawed, and he was tried by the criminal court simply for the theft he had committed, and sentenced to be hanged.
Samuel Payton, a convict, likewise received the same sentence, for feloniously entering the marquee of Lieutenant Fuzer, on the night of the fourth of June, and stealing from thence some shirts, stockings and combs. His trial had been put off to the present time on account of a wound in his head, which he had received from Captain Lieutenant Meredith, who, on his return from the bonfire, found Payton in his marquée. When brought to the hospital, in consequence of the wound which he had received, he was perfectly senseless. During the time he remained under my care, I frequently admonished him to think of the perilous situation he then stood in, and to make known the accomplices whom he was supposed to have; but he firmly and uniformly denied his guilt and disclaimed his having any knowledge of, or concern in, robbing Lieutenant Fuzer.
He further said that he did not recollect how he came to Captain Lieutenant Meredith’s tent, or any circumstance relative to it. However, since he received his sentence he has confessed that he robbed Lieutenant Fuzer, and gave him information where to find the articles he had been robbed of; he at the same time acknowledged that he entered Mr. Meredith’s marquee with an intention to rob him, doubting not but he should be able to make his escape undiscovered, as every one seemed so fully engaged on the pleasures of the day.
When he and Corbett were brought to the fatal tree, they (particularly Payton) addressed the convicts in a pathetic, eloquent, and well-directed speech. He acknowledged the justice of his sentence, a sentence, which (he said) he had long deserved. He added that he hoped and trusted that the ignominious death he was about to suffer would serve as a caution and warning to those who saw and heard him. They both prayed most fervently, begging forgiveness of an offended GOD. They likewise hoped that those whom they had injured would not only forgive them, as they themselves did all mankind, but offer up their prayers to a merciful REDEEMER that, though so great sinners, they might be received into that bliss which the good and virtuous only can either deserve or expect.
They were now turned off, and in the agonizing moments of the separation of the soul from the body seemed to embrace each other.
The execution of these unhappy youths, the eldest of whom was not twenty-four years of age, which seemed to make a greater impression on the convicts than any circumstance had done since their landing, will induce them, it is to be hoped, to change their conduct, and to adopt a better mode of life than, I am sorry to say, they have hitherto pursued.
The principal business now going forward is the erecting huts for the marines and convicts, with the cabbage-tree. We have been here nearly six months and four officers only as yet got huts: when the rest will be provided with them seems uncertain, but this I well know, that living in tents, as the rainy season has commenced, is truly uncomfortable and likely to give a severe trial to the strongest and most robust constitution.
The trees of this country are immensely large, and clear of branches to an amazing height. While standing, many of them look fair and good to the eye, and appear sufficient to make a mast for the largest ship, but, when cut down, they are scarcely convertible to any use whatever. At the heart they are full of veins through which an amazing quantity of an astringent red gum issues. This gum I have found very serviceable in an obstinate dysentery that raged at our first landing, and still continues to do so, though with less obstinacy and violence.
When these trees are sawed, and any way exposed to the sun, the gum melts, or gets so very brittle, that the wood falls to pieces, and appears as if the pieces had been joined together with this substance. How any kind of houses, except those built of the cabbage tree, can be raised up, the timber being so exceedingly bad, it is impossible to determine.
I have already said that the stone of this country is well calculated for building, could any kind of cement be found to keep them together. As for lime-stone, we have not yet discovered any in the country, and the shells collected for that purpose have been but inconsiderable. From Captain Cook’s account, one would be led to suppose that oyster and cockle shells might be procured in such quantities as to make a sufficiency of lime, for the purpose of constructing at least a few public buildings, but this is by no means the case. That great navigator, notwithstanding his usual accuracy and candour, was certainly too lavish of his praises on Botany Bay.
The peculiarity I have mentioned relative to the wood of this place is strange. There are only three kinds of it, and neither of them will float on the water. We have found another resin here, not unlike the balsam Tolu in smell and effect, but differing widely in colour, being of a clear yellow, which exudes from the tree. This, however, is not to be met with in such quantities as the red gum before mentioned, nor do I think that its medicinal virtues are by any means so powerful.
A kind of earth has been discovered which makes good bricks, but we still are in want of cement for them as well as for the stone.
What animals we have yet met with have been mostly of the Opossum kind.² The Kangaroo, so very accurately delineated by Captain Cook, is certainly of that class, and the largest animal seen in the country. One has been brought into camp which weighed a hundred and forty-nine pounds. See plate annexed.
The conformation of this animal is peculiarly singular. Its hinder parts have great muscular power, and are, perhaps, beyond all parallel out of proportion when compared with the fore parts. As it goes, it jumps on its two hind legs, from twenty to twenty-eight feet, and keeps the two fore ones close to the breast; these are small and short, and it seems to use them much like a squirrel. The tail of these animals is thick and long; they keep it extended, and it serves as a kind of counterpoise to the head, which they carry erect, when bounding at full speed.
The velocity of a Kangaroo as far outstrips that of a greyhound as that animal exceeds in swiftness a common dog. It is a very timid, shy, and inoffensive creature, evidently of the granivorous kind. Upon our first discovering one of them, as it does not use its fore feet to assist it in running, or rather jumping, many were of opinion that the tail, which is immensely large and long, was made use of by them in the act of progression; but this is by no means the case. Had it been used in such a manner, the hair would probably have been worn away from the part which, of course, must be applied to the ground.
The tail, from its size and weight, seems to serve it for a weapon both of defence and offence; for it does not appear that nature has provided it with any other. Its mouth and head, even when full grown, are too small for it to do much execution with the teeth; nor is the conformation of either at all calculated for the purpose. Indeed, its fore feet, which it uses, as a squirrel or monkey, to handle any thing with, and which assist it in lying down, are too small and out of proportion, as are all the superior parts, to admit of its either possessing or exerting much strength.
It has been reported by some convicts who were out one day, accompanied by a large Newfoundland dog, that the latter seized a very large Kangaroo but could not preserve its hold. They observed that the animal effected its escape by the defensive use it made of its tail, with which it struck its assailant in a most tremendous manner. The blows were applied with such force and efficacy, that the dog was bruised, in many places, till the blood flowed. They observed that the Kangaroo did not seem to make any use of either its teeth or fore feet, but fairly beat off the dog with its tail, and escaped before the convicts, though at no great distance, could get up to secure it.
The female has a pouch or pocket, like the Opossum, in which she carries her young. Some have been shot with a young one, not larger than a walnut, sticking to a teat in this pocket. Others, with young ones not bigger than a rat: one of which, most perfectly formed, with every mark and distinguishing characteristic of the Kangaroo, I have sent to Mr. Wilson, of Gower Street, Bedford Square.
There is a peculiar formation in the generative parts of this animal. Of its natural history we at present know little, and therefore, as we are so unacquainted with its habits, haunts, and customs, to attempt particular and accurate descriptions of it might beget error, which time, or a fuller knowledge of its properties, would directly contradict. As to mere conjectures (and such too often are imposed upon the public for incontestible facts), it cannot be improper to suppress them.
Every animal in this country partakes, in a great measure, of the nature of the Kangaroo. We have the Kangaroo Opossum, the Kangaroo Rat, etc. In fact every quadruped that we have seen, except the flying squirrel, and a spotted creature, nearly the size of a Martin, resembles the Kangaroo in the formation of the fore legs and feet, which bear no proportion to the length of the hind legs.
The scarcity of boats will prevent our being so well supplied with fish as otherwise might be expected. Fish is far from abounding at the cold season of the year, but, in the summer, judging from the latter end of the last, we have every reason to conclude that the little bays and coves in the harbour are well stored with them. The fish caught here are, in general, excellent, but several of them, like the animals in some degree resembling the Kangaroo, partake of the properties of the shark. The land, the grass, the trees, the animals, the birds, and the fish, in their different species, approach by strong shades of similitude to each other. A certain likeness runs through the whole.
8th July. A party of the natives came to the place where the Sirius’s boat had been to haul the seine, and, having beaten the crew, took from them by force a part of the fish which they had caught. It is a great misfortune to us that we cannot find proper wood in this place wherewith to build a boat, particularly as fish is not only so very plentiful in the summer but the only change from salt provisions which we can procure, there being neither wild nor domestic animals fit for food.
Here, where no other animal nourishment is to be procured, the Kangaroo is considered as a dainty; but in any other country I am sure that such food would be thrown to the dogs, for it has very little or no fat about it, and, when skinned, the flesh bears some likeness to that of a fox or lean dog.
A few days since a civil court of jurisdiction (which consisted of the judge advocate, the Reverend Mr. Johnson, and myself), was convened, by his excellency, to hear a complaint made against Duncan Sinclair, master of the Alexander transport, by Henry Coble and Susannah his wife (the Norwich convicts who so much excited the public attention), for the non-delivery of a parcel sent on board the Alexander, by Mrs. Jackson of Somerset Street, containing wearing apparel, books, and other things, for the use of the said Henry Coble, his wife, and child, value twenty pounds. The parcel was proved (and this even by the acknowledgment of the master) to have been received on board; and it likewise appeared in evidence that, on moving it from one part of the ship to another, the package had broken and the books had fallen out, which books the convict said had been delivered to him.
The court, after deducting five pounds (the value of the books received), gave a verdict in favour of the couple, in whose cause the world had seemed so much to interest themselves, and in consequence of the authority unto them granted by Act of Parliament, in such cases made and provided, they adjudged the master of the transport fully to compensate the loss of the convicts, amounting to fifteen pounds.
Sinclair considered it as oppressive to be obliged to pay for that on account of which he had not received any freightage, but this objection had no weight with the court, as the ship was in the service of government and paid for the sole purpose of conveying these people, and the little property which they possessed, to this country.
13th July. The Alexander, Friendship, and Prince of Wales transports, with the Borrowdale victualler, sailed for England. His Majesty’s brig the Supply sailed at the same time for Norfolk Island, with provisions, etc. for the people there.
21st July. I went down the harbour, with the master of the Golden Grove victualler, to look for a cabbage tree as a covering for my hut. On our return, we fell in with three canoes that had been out fishing. We rowed towards them, when the natives in them suddenly appeared intimidated, and paddled away with all possible dispatch. Willing to convince them that they had nothing to dread from us, we rowed after them, in order to present them with some trifles which we had about us. When we approached the canoes, an old woman in one of them began to cast her fish overboard, in great haste; whether it was for fear that we should take them from her, or whether she threw them to us, we could not ascertain. However, when we came along-side, our conduct soon convinced her that her alarms, with respect to us, were groundless.
She had in the canoe with her a young girl, whom, as she wore a complete apron, we could not help considering as such an instance of female decency, as we had not at any other time observed among the natives. The girl did not betray the least sign of apprehension, but rather seemed pleased at the interview. She laughed immoderately, either at us or at the petulance shown by the old woman, who, I believe, was more terrified on the girl’s account than on her own.
After this we left them fully satisfied that we did not mean to offer them any injury.
We discovered the New Holland Creeper (see plate annexed). The general colour of the bird is black, spotted in various parts with white: the bill is dusky, growing paler towards the tip; the neck, breast, belly, and sides are more or less streaked with white; over the eye is also a white streak, and the sides of the neck and beginning of the back have likewise some streaks of the same. The quills and tail feathers are marked with yellow on the outer margins; the last are rounded in shape, and two or three of the outer feathers spotted within, at the tip, with white; legs dusky; is about the size of a nightingale, and measures seven inches in length. It is probably a non-descript species.
A party of convicts, who had crossed the country to Botany Bay to gather a kind of plant resembling balm, which we found to be a good and pleasant vegetable, were met by a superior number of the natives, armed with spears and clubs, who chased them for two miles without being able to overtake them; but, if they had succeeded in the pursuit, it is probable that they would have put them to death, for wherever persons unarmed, or inferior in numbers, have fallen in with them, they have never failed to maltreat them.
The natives had with them some middling-sized dogs, somewhat resembling the species called in England fox-dogs. A servant of Captain Shea being one day out shooting, he found a very young puppy, belonging to the natives, eating part of a dead Kangaroo. He brought it to the camp, and it thrives much. The dog, in shape, is rather short and well made, has very fine hair of the nature of fur, and a sagacious look. When found, though not more than a month old, he showed some symptoms of ferocity. It was a considerable time before he could be induced to eat any flesh that was boiled, but he would gorge it raw with great avidity. (See plate annexed.)
23rd July. The blacksmith’s shop, which was built of common brush wood, was burnt down. Very fortunately for us, the bellows and the other tools were, through the exertion of the people, saved. To effect this was no easy point, as in the course of three or four minutes, the wood being very dry, every part of the shop was in flames.
29th July. One of the convicts was met by some of the natives, who wounded him very severely in the breast and head with their spears. They would undoubtedly have destroyed him had he not plunged into the sea, near which he happened to be, and by that means saved himself. When he was brought to the hospital he was very faint from the loss of blood, which had flowed plentifully from his wounds. A piece of a broken spear had entered through the scalp and under his ear, so that the extraction gave him great pain.
Their spears are made of a kind of cane which grows out of the tree that produces the yellow gum; they are ten or twelve feet long, pointed, and sometimes barbed, with a piece of the same cane or the teeth of fish. These they throw, with the assistance of the short stick already mentioned, which has a shell made fast to the end of it with the yellow gum.
With this gum they likewise fasten their barbs to their spears and fish-gigs. The latter of these differ from the former by having four prongs, and being always barbed, which is not generally the case with the spears.
Their spears, the only weapon they are ever seen to have that may be considered in any degree as dangerous, they throw thirty or forty yards with an unerring precision. When equipped for any exploit, they are also armed with a shield made of the bark of a tree, with which they very dexterously ward off any thing thrown at them. An humble kind of scymitar, a bludgeon, or club, about twenty inches long, with a large and pointed end, and sometimes a stone hatchet, make up the catalogue of their military implements.
We this day shot a Knob-fronted Bee-eater (see plate annexed). This is about the size of a blackbird; the plumage mostly brown above and white beneath; the head and upper part of the neck are sparingly covered with narrow feathers, almost like hairs; but the fore part of the neck and breast are furnished with long ones, of a white colour and pointed at the ends; the tail is pretty long, and the feathers tipped with white; the bill is about one inch in length, and pale; but, what is most remarkable, on the forehead, just at the base of the bill, is a short blunt knob, about a quarter of an inch in length and of a brownish colour; the tongue is nearly of the length of the bill, and bristly at the end; the legs are brown. This inhabits New South Wales, and is supposed to be a non-descript species.
This day three canoes, with a man and woman in each, came behind the point on which the hospital is built, to fish. I went over to them, as did two other gentlemen, my assistants, without their shewing any fear at our coming; on the contrary, they manifested a friendly confidence. We gave them some bread, which they received with apparent pleasure, but did not eat any of it while in our presence. We likewise presented them with a looking-glass, but this they received with indifference, and seemed to hold in no kind of estimation.
I gave one of the women a pocket handkerchief, which she immediately tied round her head, and shewed great satisfaction. She had a young child between her knees in the canoe (the way in which they always carry their infants), for whom she solicited something, in the most suppliant tone of voice I ever heard. The only thing I had about me was a narrow slip of linen, which I gave her; and, trifling as it was, she appeared to be perfectly satisfied with it, and bound it round the child’s head. She would not come out of the canoe, though along-side the rocks; but the man quitted it, and shewed us some wild figs that grew near at hand. Such as were green and unripe he did not pull; but, after some search, having found one that was tolerably ripe, he made me pluck it and put it into his mouth. He eat it with an apparent relish, and smacked his lips, after he had swallowed it, to convince us how good it was.
At some little distance from the place where we were a sheep lay dead. As soon as he had discovered it, he took it by the horns, and, as well as we could understand him, he was extremely inquisitive and anxious to know what it was. When his curiosity was satisfied, he went into the canoe, where the woman had been waiting for him.
About ten or twenty yards from the shore, among the long grass, in the shallow water, he struck and took with his fish-gig several good fish; an acquisition to which, at this season of the year, it being cold and wet, we were unequal. While he was engaged in watching for them, both he and the woman chewed something, which they frequently spit into the water; and which appeared to us, from his immediately striking a fish, to be a lure.
While they were thus employed, one of the gentlemen with me sung some songs; and when he had done, the females in the canoes either sung one of their own songs, or imitated him, in which they succeeded beyond conception. Any thing spoken by us they most accurately recited, and this in a manner of which we fell greatly short in our attempts to repeat their language after them.
While we were thus amicably engaged, all on a sudden they paddled away from us. On looking about to discover the cause, we perceived the gunner of the Supply at some little distance, with a gun in his hand, an instrument of death, against which they entertain an insuperable aversion. As soon as I discovered him, I called to him to stay where he was, and not make a nearer approach; or, if he did, to lay down his gun. The latter request he immediately complied with; and when the natives saw him unarmed they shewed no further fear, but, returning to their employment, continued alternately to sing songs and to mimic the gentlemen who accompanied me.
August. We this day shot the Sacred Kings-Fisher (see Plate annexed). This bird is about the size of a thrush, and measures nearly ten inches in length: the top of the head is blue, and crested; sides of the head, and back part of it, black; over the eye, from the nostrils, a rusty-coloured streak; the chin, the middle of the neck, all round, and all the under part of the body, buffcolour, more or less inclining to rust; the upper part of the plumage chiefly blue; but the beginning of the back is black, as are also the quills and tail feathers within, being blue only on the outer edges; the bill is large and black, but the base of the under jaw is whitish; the legs are brown. This bird is subject to great variety, several of them being mentioned by Mr. Latham in his Synopsis. The present seems to come nearest his Var. C. See vol. ii, page 622, of that work.
12th August. Celebrated the Prince of Wales’s birthday. The men of war fired a royal salute, and all the officers in the colony, civil and military, dined with the governor. The evening was spent in making bonfires, and testifying such other demonstrations of joy as could be shewn in this country. The weather is now very wet and cold, and has been so for the last six weeks. Several mornings we have had a hoar frost, and a few distinct pelicles of ice were formed on shallow spots of water; the thermometer frequently as low as the freezing point.
16th August. A convict who had been out gathering what they called sweet tea, about a mile from the camp, met a party of the natives, consisting of fourteen, by whom he was beaten, and also slightly wounded with the shell-stick used in throwing their spears; they then made him strip, and would have taken from him his clothes, and probably his life, had it not been for the report of two musquets; which they no sooner heard than they ran away. This party were returning from the wood with cork, which they had been cutting, either for their canoes or huts; and had with them no other instruments than those that were necessary for the business on which they were engaged, such as a stone hatchet, and the shell stick before mentioned. Had they been armed with any other weapons, the convict would probably have lost his life.
That which we call the sweet tea is a creeping kind of vine, running to a great extent along the ground; the stalk is not so thick as the smallest honey-suckle; nor is the leaf so large as the common bay leaf, though something similar to it; and the taste is sweet, exactly like the liquorice root of the shops. Of this the convicts and soldiers make an infusion which is tolerably pleasant, and serves as no bad succedaneum for tea. Indeed, were it to be met with in greater abundance it would be found very beneficial to those poor creatures whose constant diet is salt provisions. In using it for medical purposes, I have found it to be a good pectoral, and, as I before observed, not at all unpleasant. (See plate annexed.)
We have also a kind of shrub in this country, resembling the common broom, which produces a small berry like a white currant, but in taste more similar to a very sour green gooseberry. This has proved a good antiscorbutic; but I am sorry to add that the quantity to be met with is far from sufficient to remove the scurvy.
That disorder still prevails with great violence, nor can we at present find any remedy against it, notwithstanding that the country produces several sorts of plants and shrubs which, in this place, are considered as tolerable vegetables, and used in common. The most plentiful is a plant growing on the sea shore, greatly resembling sage. Among it are often to be found samphire, and a kind of wild spinage, besides a small shrub which we distinguish by the name of the vegetable tree, and the leaves of which prove rather a pleasant substitute for vegetables.
22nd August. His Excellency Governor Phillip, Lieutenant George Johnston, his Adjutant of Orders, Lieutenant Cresswell of the Marines, myself, and six soldiers, landed in Manly Cove, in order to examine the coast to Broken Bay. At a short distance from the shore, we saw sixteen canoes, with two persons in each, and in some three, employed in fishing. They seemed to take very little notice as we passed them, so very intent were they on the business in which they were engaged.
On our landing, we saw sixty more of the natives, about two hundred yards distant from us. Some of them immediately came up to us, and were very friendly. A black man who carried our tents gave two of them a stocking each, with which they seemed much pleased; and, pointing to the naked leg, expressed a great desire to have that also clothed. The morning was so cold, that these poor wretches stood shivering on the beach, and appeared to be very sensible of the comfort and advantage of being clothed.
We sent back our boats, and proceeded northward along the coast about six miles, where we were forced to halt for near two hours, until the tide had run out of a lagoon, or piece of water, so as to admit of its being forded. While we were detained here an old native came to us, and, in the most friendly manner, pointed out the shallowest part of the water we had to cross; but the tide ran with too much rapidity at that time for us to attempt it.
After we had waded through, one of our company shot a very fine duck, which we had dressed for supper, on a little eminence by the side of a cabbage tree swamp, about half a mile from the run of the tide. Here the whole party got as much cabbage, to eat with their salt provisions, as they chose.
While we had been detained by the tide, several natives were on the opposite side, who also pointed out to us the shoalest water, and appeared, by their signs and gestures, to wish us very much to come over; but, before the tide was sufficiently low, they went away. One of them wore a skin of a reddish colour round his shoulders.
Near the place where we pitched our tent, we saw several quails exactly like those in England. I fired four or five times at them, but without success, as my shot was too large.
23rd August. As soon as the dew was off the grass, we began our march, and about twelve o’clock fell in with the south branch of Broken Bay: but finding the country round this part very rugged, and the distance too great for our stock of provisions, we returned to the sea shore, in order to examine the south part of the entrance into the bay. This, like every other part of the country we have seen, had a very indifferent aspect.
From the entrance of Port Jackson to Broken Bay, in some places from fifty to a hundred, in others to two hundred yards distant from the sea, the coast indeed is very pleasant, and tolerably clear of wood; the earth a kind of adhesive clay, covered with a thick and short sour grass.
All along the shore we met the natives, who seem to have no fixed residence or abode, but, indiscriminately, whenever they meet with a hut, or, what is more common, a convenient excavation or hole in the rocks, take possession of it for the time.
In one of their huts, at Broken Bay, which was constructed of bark, and was one of the best I had ever met with, we saw two very well made nets, some fishing lines not inferior to the nets, some spears, a stone hatchet of a very superior make to what they usually have, together with two vehicles for carrying water, one of cork, the other made out of the knot of a large tree hollowed. In this hut there were two pieces of coarse linen, which they must have obtained from some of our people, and every thing about it bespoke more comfort and convenience than I had observed in any other.
A little way from it we fell in with a large party of natives, whom we supposed to be the proprietors; they were armed with spears and stone hatchets. One of the latter they very earnestly wished to exchange for one of ours. Though we would readily have obliged them, it was not in our power to comply with their wishes, as we had only a sufficient number wherewith to cut wood for our own fires. However, notwithstanding our refusal, they parted from us without appearing at all dissatisfied.
As we proceeded along the sandy beach, we gathered some beans, which grew on a small creeping substance not unlike a vine. They were well tasted, and very similar to the English long-pod bean. At the place where we halted, we had them boiled, and we all eat very heartily of them. Half an hour after, the governor and I were seized with a violent vomiting. We drank warm water, which, carrying the load freely from our stomachs, gave us immediate relief. Two other gentlemen of the party ate as freely of them as we had done, without feeling the smallest inconvenience or bad effect. About this place we got some rasberries; but they had not that pleasant tartness peculiar to those in Europe.
24th August. We returned by the same passage, along the coast, without seeing any objects worth notice, until we came to a convenient spot to encamp for the night, where there was great plenty of cabbage trees and tolerable water; a circumstance, as I have already observed, not generally to be met with in this country except on the sea coast, and even there by no means in abundance.
While soup was making of some birds we had lately killed (which proved very good), and every thing was getting ready for the night, the governor, the two other gentlemen, and myself, took our guns and ascended a hill just above us. From this eminence we saw the southern branch of Broken Bay, which ran far into the country.
During our return, we picked up, in the distance of about half a mile, twenty-five flowers of plants and shrubs of different genera and species, specimens of which I have transmitted to Mr. Wilson, particularly the Red Gum Tree (see Plate annexed). On the spot where we encamped the grass was long, dry, and sour, and in such abundance, that we set it on fire all around, for fear the natives should surprise us in the night by doing the same, a custom in which they seem always happy to indulge themselves.
25th August. We set off early in the morning to look at the branch of Broken Bay which we had seen the evening before, and were led to it by a path not very much frequented. At the head of this branch we found a fresh-water river, which took its rise a little above, out of a swamp. Such is the origin and source of every river we have yet discovered in this country, though few, when compared to those in any other part of the world. It is very extraordinary that, in all this extensive tract, a living spring has not yet been explored.
On this river we saw many ducks and teal. Mr. Cresswell shot one of the latter, and I shot one of the former. They were both well tasted, and good of their kind. At the head of this branch we found the country rough and impassable. Having followed the course of the river to its origin, we that day returned to Manly Cove, where we surprised two old men, an old woman, a grown-up girl, and thirteen children, in a hut.
When the children saw us approach, they all gathered themselves closely together around the girl; they cried, and seemed much terrified. The old men showed such dislike to our looking at them that the governor and the rest of the party withdrew to some little distance to dine. Some of the children, on seeing all the party gone but myself and another gentleman, began to laugh, and thus proved that their fears had vanished. When we joined the rest of the party, the old man followed us in a very friendly manner, and took part of every kind of provision we had, but he ate none of it in our sight.
The women and children stood at some distance, and beckoned to us when the men, of whom they seemed to stand in very great dread, had turned their backs.
As soon as we had dined, and refreshed ourselves, the governor, by himself, went down to them, and distributed some presents among them, which soon gained their friendship and confidence. By this time sixteen canoes, that were out fishing, came close to the spot where we were, and there lay on their paddles, which they managed with wonderful dexterity and address; mimicking us, and indulging in their own merriment.
After many signs and entreaties, one of the women ventured to the governor, who was by himself, and, with seemingly great timidity, took from him some small fishing lines and hooks, articles which they hold in great estimation. This made her less fearful; and in a little time she became perfectly free and unrestrained. Her conduct influenced many others who came on shore for what they could procure. Many of them were painted about the head, breast, and shoulders, with some white substance. None of those who were thus ornamented came on shore, till by signs we made them understand that we intended to offer them some presents; and even then only one of them ventured.
To this person Lieutenant Cresswell gave a white pocket handkerchief, with which she seemed much pleased. Every gentleman now singled out a female and presented her with some trinkets, not forgetting, at the same time, to bestow gifts upon some of her family, whom she took considerable pains to make known, lest they should fall into the hands of such as did not belong to her.
It was remarked that all the women and children, (an old woman excepted) had the little finger of the left hand taken off at the second joint, the stump of which was as well covered as if the operation had been performed by a surgeon.
While we were thus employed among the women, a body of men came out of the woods with a new canoe, made of cork. It was one of the best we had observed in this country, though it fell very short of those which I have seen among the American or Musquito-shore Indians, who, in improvements of every kind, the Indians of this country are many centuries behind. The men had also with them some new paddles, spears, and fishgigs, which they had just been making. They readily showed us the use of every thing they had with them. Indeed they always behave with an apparent civility when they fall in with men that are armed; but when they meet persons unarmed they seldom fail to take every advantage of them.
Those females who were arrived at the age of puberty did not wear a covering; but all the female children and likewise the girls wore a slight kind of covering before them, made of the fur of the kangaroo, twisted into threads.
While we went towards the party of men that came out of the woods with the new canoe, all the women landed, and began to broil their fish, of which they had a large quantity. There seemed to be no harmony or hospitality among them. However, the female to whom I paid the most attention gave me, but not until I asked her for it, some of the fish which she was eating. She had thrown it on the fire, but it was scarcely warm.
Many of the women were strait, well formed, and lively. My companion continued to exhibit a number of coquettish airs while I was decorating her head, neck, and arms with my pocket and neck handkerchiefs, which I tore into ribbons, as if desirous of multiplying two presents into several. Having nothing left, except the buttons of my coat, on her admiring them, I cut them away, and with a piece of string tied them round her waist. Thus ornamented, and thus delighted with her new acquirements, she turned from me with a look of inexpressible archness.
Before the arrival of the boats, which was late, the natives pointed to a hawk, and made signs to us to shoot it. It had alighted upon an adjoining tree, and the governor desired that I would bring it down. The report of the gun frightened them very much. Some ran away; but on perceiving that no harm was intended against them, they returned, and were highly pleased to see the hawk presented by the governor to a young girl, who appeared to be the daughter of the most distinguished amongst them.
While the boats were preparing for our reception, an old woman, perfectly grey with age, solicited us very much for some present; and, in order to make us comply, threw herself, before all her companions, into the most indecent attitudes.
The cocks wain of the boat informed us that while he was waiting for our return, the day before, two parties of the natives met, and commenced hostilities against each other. The man thus described the manner in which this encounter was carried on. A champion from each party, armed with a spear and a shield, pressed forwards before the rest, and, as soon as a favourable opportunity offered (till which he advanced and retreated by turns), threw his spear, and then retired; when another immediately took his place, going through the same manoeuvres; and in this manner was the conflict carried on for more than two hours.
The boats crew and two midshipmen, who saw the whole of the proceeding, perceived that one of the natives walked off with a spear in his side. During the engagement, the women belonging to them, who stood at some distance, discovered strong marks of concern, and screamed loudly when any of the combatants appeared to be wounded.
As the boat was returning close along shore, a spear was thrown at the people by some of the natives, who were lurking behind the trees and rocks. It was hurled with such force, that it flew a considerable way over the boat, although we were between thirty and forty yards from the shore.
It was late in the evening before we arrived in Sydney Cove; and as soon as the governor landed he was informed that a gold mine had been discovered, near the entrance of the harbour, by a convict.
During his excellency’s absence, the convict had made this discovery known to the lieutenant governor and the judge advocate; for which he said that he hoped and expected to have his freedom, and a pecuniary reward. The gentlemen to whom he applied answered that they could not promise to grant his request until he should have put them in possession of the mine; but that they were well assured that the governor would bestow on him a proper recompence, after sufficient proof of the discovery. A boat was, in consequence, ordered from the Sirius, to carry him and Captain Campbell down to the place where he declared that the mine was situated. At their landing, he begged leave to withdraw a little, on some necessary occasion; when, instead of returning to Captain Campbell, he went back to the camp, and, waiting on the lieutenant governor and judge advocate, asserted that he had put Captain Campbell in possession of the mine, who had dispatched him over land for another officer and a proper guard.
His account not being doubted, he was well fed and treated; and Lieutenant Paulden, with a guard and all necessary articles, was ordered to attend him to the place. But, before they could set out, to the great astonishment of all Captain Campbell arrived, and unravelled the whole of this extraordinary deception. This produced an unexpected revolution. Instead of receiving a reward for his golden discoveries, the impostor was immediately taken into custody, with two others, supposed to be concerned in carrying on the artifice. The next day he was examined, with great privacy and strictness; but, no satisfactory elucidation being obtained from him, he was ordered to be severely whipped.
Subsequently to this punishment, of which he was prepared to expect a weekly repetition, between the intervals of hard labour, and to be loaded incessantly with heavy irons, during the time of his remaining in the colony, he most audaciously persisted in endeavouring to maintain the delusion, and declared that if an officer was sent with him he would show him the mine; adding that he was heartily sorry for what had happened.
Accordingly, he was suffered to accompany Lieutenant G. Johnston, the Governor’s Adjutant of Orders, to the place in question. Before the boat had reached its destination Mr. Johnston argued with him, yet not without protesting that if he either attempted to deceive him as he had imposed upon Captain Campbell or presumed to move five yards from him and his party, he would instantly order him to be shot. Finding that this officer was not to be trifled with, but seemed determined, he acknowledged that it was unnecessary to proceed any farther; that he was ignorant of the existence of any such mine, and that the specimens shown by him were only a composition of brass and gold, which he had filed down and melted.
Mr. Johnston brought him back, when he was again examined, and ordered to be punished. It is needless to add that no further discovery was made. He is now at liberty. He is, however, obliged to wear a large R on his back. The man, whose name is Daily, appears insane; yet others cannot be persuaded that he is a lunatic, but are rather of opinion that he is a designing miscreant, and that time will disclose a deep-laid scheme, which he had planned for some purpose hitherto undiscovered.
For my own part, I freely confess, that I cannot coincide with their sentiments. He was so artful as to circulate a report that he had sold several pounds weight of the ore to the master of the Golden Grove, and some of his seamen. This rumour was received with such credulity that, in consequence of the impression which it made, none of the sailors were suffered to leave the ship after a certain hour in the evening.
In a word, so many ridiculous circumstances attended this affair, that to attempt a complete enumeration of them would prove not less difficult than uninteresting.
26th August. The Supply arrived from Norfolk Island, after a long and rough passage. She had landed, but neither in apparent safety nor with facility, the stores which she carried to that place: and, upon the present occasion, I am sorry to add, that the hazard of landing and embarking from this little island is so very great that Mr. Cunningham, a midshipman of the Sirius (who resided on it with Lieutenant King, the superintendant), was lost, with three seamen, in a boat that was swamped by the surf, which on every part of the coast runs high, and beats against the shore with great violence; so that I much fear, from the difficulty of access, and its situation, it never will prove of any great consequence, although it promised some advantages, particularly in furnishing us with pine trees, which grow here to a size nearly equal to those of Norway.
In the whole island there is not a harbour capable of admitting even so small a vessel as the Supply, and the anchorage on every part of the coast is equally bad.
The island produces a kind of gladiolus luteus, or iris palustris, of which, as may be seen by the specimens sent Mr. Wilson, exceeding good hemp is to be made, and which is to be procured in any quantity, the plants growing in great abundance throughout the whole island. The foregoing articles, were the island larger and more easy of access, with even a tolerable harbour, might, in any other country, be of the first consequence to a maritime nation. But, from every information which I have gained from the officers and crew of the Supply, the procuring of this beneficial acquisition is at present somewhat doubtful.
The people settled upon it, when they can venture out, get great plenty of fish and, at certain seasons, turtle. In the island also are pigeons, as tame as domestic fowls; and the soil seems well adapted for the growth of all kinds of grain and vegetables. It produces a wild banana, or plantain tree, which, by cultivation, may assist the settlers as a succedaneum for bread: and I am not without hopes that we shall be able to make some additions from thence to such necessaries of life as may in time be produced here.
A few days since the natives landed near the hospital, where some goats belonging to the Supply were browsing, when they killed, with their spear, a kid, and carried it away. Within this fortnight, they have also killed a he-goat of the governor’s . Whenever an opportunity offered, they have seldom failed to destroy whatever stock they could seize upon unobserved. They have been equally ready to attack the convicts on every occasion which presented itself; and some of them have become victims to these savages.
I have already observed that they stand much in fear of a musquet, and therefore they very seldom approach any person by whom it is carried; and their apprehensions are almost equally great when they perceive a red garment.
5th September. About half after six in the evening, we saw an aurora australis, a phaenomenon uncommon in the southern hemisphere.
2nd October. His Majesty’s ship the Sirius sailed for the Cape of Good Hope, for a supply of flour, it being discovered that our stock of this article bore no proportion to the salt beef and pork.
The same day the Golden Grove sailed for Norfolk Island, with a reinforcement of male and female convicts; two free men, as gardeners; a midshipman from the Sirius to fill up the vacancy occasioned by the death of Mr. Cunningham; a sergeant, corporal, and six privates; and a supply of necessaries for eighteen months.
4th October. A convict, named Cooper Handley, who went out with an armed party of marines to collect wild vegetables and sweet tea, strayed from them, and was afterwards met by the natives, who murdered and mutilated him in a shocking manner. The natives were so near our men that they heard them very distinctly shouting and making a great noise, yet were unable to overtake them in the pursuit. In the evening, a party of soldiers and convicts were sent out to bury the deceased.
10th October. A general court martial was convened by warrant from the governor. When the members, with the deputy judge advocate, were assembled, they gave it as their opinion that, notwithstanding the governor has full power and authority to grant and hold court martials among regular troops, yet, as a corps of marines, under the influence of a particular code of laws, and instructions from the Admiralty, and only amenable to that board, they could not proceed to trial, the board of Admiralty not having delegated any part of their authority over the marine corps, particularly that of holding court martials, to the governor; neither did any part of the act of Parliament for forming a colony in New South Wales contain directions relative to that subject.
The marine instructions, with respect to court martials, state that no general court martial can be ordered but by the Lord High Admiral, or three commissioners for executing the office; nor any sentence be carried into execution until approved of by him or them, unless the marines, as in America, should be, by act of Parliament, considered as a part of the army, which is not the case here.
They are truly and literally governed and regulated by the same rules and instructions as the marine divisions at Chatham, Portsmouth, or Plymouth; and, consequently, their proceeding to trial would not only be illegal, but a direct insult to the governance and power of the Board under which they act, and to whom every appeal from them must come, unless an act of Parliament, in that case made and provided, otherwise directs.
28th October. A marine went to gather some greens and herbs, but has not returned; as he was unarmed, it is feared that he has been met and murdered by the natives.
31st October. A sergeant and four privates, who had been missing three days, returned. They were sent by the commanding officer to look for the marine, and lost themselves in the woods. In the evening of this day we had very loud thunder, and a shower of hail; many of the hail-stones were measured, and found to be five-eights of an inch in diameter.
2nd November. This day more hail; the weather dark and gloomy, with dreadful lightning. The mercury during the whole of the day stood between 66 and 68.
7th November. A criminal court sentenced a convict to five hundred lashes for stealing soap, the property of another convict, value eight pence.
10th November. The Golden Grove returned from Norfolk Island with a few spars, and some timber for the governor. While she lay there, she was obliged to cut her cable and stand to sea, there being (as before observed) no harbour in the whole island where a ship can ride in safety. The master of the ship was swamped in the surf and nearly lost, with his boat and crew.
11th November. Thomas Bulmore, a private marine, died in consequence of the blows which he received during a battle with one of his companions, who is to be tried for his life, on the 17th instant, by a criminal court. So small is our number, and so necessary is every individual who composes it, for one purpose or another, that the loss of even a single man may truly be considered as an irreparable disadvantage!
The preceding is all the account I am able at present to send you of the territories of New South Wales, and its productions. The unsettled state in which you must naturally suppose every thing, as yet, to remain, will not permit me to be as copious as I could wish; but, by the next dispatch, I hope to be able to send you no inconsiderable additions to the Natural History, and at the same time such further information concerning our affairs here as during the interim shall have occurred.
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