The Bushman
Edward Wilson Landor

Part 3 out of 6

trampling over several of the dogs; and darting madly against the
nearest horseman, caught his charger on the flank, and steed and
rider rolled together on the ground. The furious assailant stumbled
over her prostrate foes, and was saluted with a discharge of
fire-arms, which, however, did not prevent her from rushing against
me in return for a ball in the shoulder, but I eluded the assault,
and the animal fell exhausted to the ground.

All this may sound savage enough to those who read in cold blood, but
it was very exciting at the time; and MAN, when a hunter, becomes for
the moment ruthless and blood-thirsty. This was a very severe chase;
the animal had run full five miles over a rough country at such a
pace as to cover our horses with foam, and they now stood thoroughly
blown, and shaking in every limb.

We returned to our home after a short rest, taking the tail with us
as a trophy. A party was despatched in the evening with the cart,
and a large portion of the carcase was brought in and skilfully
salted by the experienced hand of Tom H.

This evening passed away as pleasantly as the last, and as we were
all rather fatigued, we retired early, and slept until awakened by
the sun.

A native arrived early in the morning with the intelligence that a
herd of wild cattle was now grazing in a ravine of the hills about
four miles distant. As we could not well follow them on horseback in
that locality, we started off on foot armed with our rifles. The
morning as usual was brilliant, but not too warm, and we walked along
in high spirits. We had not proceeded far through the woods when one
of the natives, who was in advance, stopped short on a sudden, and we
all instinctively did the same. Stealing back to us, he took my
rifle out of my hands without any ceremony, and telling us to remain
perfectly still, crept slowly forward, stooping nearly to the ground.
We now perceived a small plain about two hundred yards a-head of us,
on which were six wild turkeys leisurely feeding and walking about.

The native had dived among the scrub, and we lost all signs of him.
It soon, however, became evident that the turkeys suspected danger;
they erected their tall brown and grey necks, and looked about them
like alarmed sentinels. "They're off!" cried we -- but just as they
were preparing to run, which they do with great rapidity, one of them
was seen to flutter his wings and tumble over, whilst the crack of
the rifle proclaimed the triumph of Migo. We rushed through the
brush-wood, elated as schoolboys who have shot their first throstle
with a horse-pistol, and found the bustard flapping out its last
breath in the hands of the native, whose dark visage gleamed with
triumphant pride.

Resuming our march, we passed over the side of a hill covered with
inferior Jarra trees, and soon entered the ravine in which we
expected to find the cattle. They were not visible; so we crossed
the valley, and passed up the other side for about half-a-mile, when
we entered another valley, some distance up which we perceived a herd
of cattle quietly grazing, or lying ruminating in the confidence of
perfect security. We endeavoured to creep towards them as quietly as
possible, but their senses of smelling and hearing were so acute that
they became acquainted with their danger too soon for us, and trotted
gently up the valley before we could reach them. We now dispersed in
the hope of heading them. Attaching myself to Migo, who considered
my rifle the most likely to prove successful, as he had killed the
bustard with it, we walked for half an hour across the hill-side
without seeing anything of our game. A rifle-shot and a loud shout
prepared us for something, and in another minute we heard the
crashing of branches and the tread of feet, and soon beheld
half-a-dozen cows and two or three calves making their way up the
hill at a short distance from us.

"What for you no get behind tree?" said the native in an angry
whisper, and giving me a push that prevented my staring idly any
longer, and sent me into a proper position.

"Oh! why will they go in that direction? Why will they not come
within range? I will give everything I have on earth for one good
point-blank shot!"

And sure enough a bouncing bull-calf, turning aside from a thick
clump of trees, came within about a hundred yards of me apparently
wild with fright, and not knowing which way to run. Just as he was
turning off again, I fired, and he fell upon his knees, struck in the

Migo was upon him in an instant, and felled him to the earth with a
blow of his stone-hammer. I shouted the paean of victory, and was
answered by a loud "cooey" from the valley and the voice of my friend
Mr. B. calling out, "I have killed a splendid cow and dispersed the
herd. The bull and several cows are gone down the valley towards the

All the party, with the exception of Tom N., were soon assembled
round the body of B.'s cow, which was black and fine-limbed. She was
evidently in milk, and there was little doubt that the calf slain by
me had belonged to her.

Every one now asked what had become of Tom, whose assistance was
absolutely necessary in cutting up the carcases. B. had heard his
rifle down the valley, and we now began to "cooey" for him. In a few
moments we heard a faint "cooey" in reply, and started in that
direction. After walking for about ten minutes towards the opening
of the valley we heard distinctly, and at no great distance, the
bellowing of a bull. Proceeding cautiously, with our rifles all
ready, we soon arrived at the spot, and there beheld a huge bull
tearing up the ground with his feet and horns, and bellowing in the
most savage manner. A shout of joy directed our attention among the
boughs of a low banksia tree, where our unfortunate friend Tom sat
painfully perched, only just out of reach of danger. The animal
below every now and then fell upon his knees, crushing and smashing
something which we had great difficulty in recognising as poor Tom's

"He is badly wounded," cried Tom, "pitch into him, and don't be afraid!"

Without waiting for this exhortation, we let fly a volley, which
brought the animal down upon his knees; and after a few staggering
efforts to run at us, he sank to rise no more; whilst his first
assailant, Tom, slipped down from his perch, and limped towards the
remains of his rifle, execrating the dying bull in a furious manner,
and even venting his wrath in a kick. As Tom wore a red shirt that
only reached to his hips, he had no chance of concealing an enormous
rent in his nether garment, through which protruded the remains of a
shirt, which at the best of times was probably far from presenting
the appearance of virgin purity, but now was stained with blood. As
people in Tom's plight, when not seriously hurt, are usually more
laughed at than pitied, the chagrin of our friend enhanced the
interest with which we listened to his story.

Knowing that there was no escape for the herd of cattle up the
valleys, as they terminated in steep rocks, and that therefore they
would either cross over the side of the hill, or return down the
first valley towards the plains, Tom hung back, leaving the rest of
the party to head them. After some time had elapsed, he
distinguished the bull and several cows trotting along the hill-side;
and hastening to meet them, he posted himself behind a tree, close to
which he saw they would soon pass.

Anxious, however, to get a view of the game, he stepped out from his
ambush just as the bull had approached within fifty yards. Each saw
the other at the same moment. The bull stopped short, and Tom felt
rather queer. He did not like to fire at the vast head of the
animal, lest the ball should glance off without effect. The bull,
instead of turning aside, began to bellow and tear up the ground with
his hoofs. The cows stood still, and stared at Tom, who began to
think the state of his affairs looked gloomy; but he knew that his
best policy was to remain stock-still; so he looked at the bull and
the cows, and the bull and the cows looked at Tom. At length the
bull had sufficiently nerved his resolution, and began to advance,
tearing up the ground and bellowing as he came on. Tom took aim
between the shoulder-blade and the neck, and fired; the enemy
staggered, and roared with fury, rushing like a whirlwind upon Tom,
who took to his heels, and began dodging round the trees. But the
bull was in earnest; and savage with rage as a thousand lions, he
tore round the trees more quickly even than Tom, carrying his head
close to the ground, and his tail straight out behind, whilst his
eyes, Tom said, glared with such fury, that our poor friend's heart
froze up within him. Luckily he espied a banksia tree which seemed
easy to ascend; but just as he reached it the bull was upon him.
The bull roared, and Tom, roaring almost as loudly, made a spring
at the tree but slipped down again just upon the horns of the
animal. The next hoist, however, rent his garments, and lacerated a
portion of his person which he had always considered especially
sacred; but as the thrust heaved him upwards at the same time, and
gave a fresh impulse to his agility, he succeeded in scrambling
upon a bough that kept him just out of danger. No one may describe
the pangs of despair by which he was assailed when he beheld the
utter destruction of his only rifle. He threw his cap in the face
of the bull, but he only lost his cap as well as his rifle by this
rash and inconsiderate action, which was the highest proof he could
have given of the extremity of his distress.

Poor Tom! he had often been made a butt of, but had never been so
butted before.

The cup went merrily round that evening, and many and jovial were the
songs that were sung, and witty and pleasant were the jokes that
passed freely at the expense of the unfortunate 'tauricide', who,
bereft of his rifle, and dilapidated in reputation and pantaloons,
was heartily glad to be able to hide his sorrows in sleep.



[footnote] *This is a more sentimental story than that of Michael
Blake, but I owe them both to the same authority.

There is a pleasant ride along the shore from Fremantle to a little
bay about seven miles distant, one side of which, covered with lofty
trees, runs far into the sea, and is called Woodman's Point. The sea
in this part appears to be only a few miles broad; Garden-island
forming the opposite shore, the southern extremity of which seems
almost to join Cape Perron, and thus presents the appearance of a
vast bay. Not long ago, the blackened remains of a small house, or
hovel, were to be seen on the verge of the wood, facing towards Cape
Perron. Around it might be distinguished the traces of a garden of
considerable extent; a few stunted vines still continued annually to
put forth the appearance of verdure, which served only to tempt the
appetite of the stray cattle that wandered down to this solitary
spot. A large bed of geraniums had extended itself across the path
which used to lead to the door of the house; and their varied and
beautiful flowers, rejoicing in this congenial climate, gave
additional melancholy to the scene. It was evident those plants had
been reared, and tended, and prized for their beauty; they had once
been carefully cultured, pruned, and watered -- now they were left to
bloom or to die, as accident permitted. Near to this bed of
geraniums, but apart and solitary, untouched even by weeds, of which
there were only few in that sandy soil, grew an English rose-tree.
Its long, unpruned boughs straggled wildly on the ground. It looked
the picture of desolation and despair. A few imperfect flowers
occasionally peeped forth, but knew only a short and precarious
existence, for the shrub being no longer sheltered behind the house,
was now exposed to the daily violence of the sea-breeze.

This widowed rose, deprived of the hand which had tended it so
carefully, and of the heart which its beauty had gladdened, seemed
now in its careless desolation awaiting the hour when it should die.
It really looked, with its drooping boughs, its torn blossoms, and
its brown leaves, rustling and sighing to the breeze, like a sentient
being mourning without hope. Those who have never lived in exile
from their native land, can have no idea of the feelings with which a
lonely colonist, long separated from all the associations of home,
would regard a solitary plant which so peculiarly calls up home
memories. Pardon us, good reader, this appearance of sentiment; you
who will read these lines in Old England -- that land which we must
ever think of with pardonable emotion -- will evince but little
sympathy with us, who necessarily feel some fond regard for the
Mother from whom we are parted, and are naturally drawn towards the
inanimate things by which we are reminded of her. There is in this
colony of western Australia a single daisy root; and never was the
most costly hot-house plant in England so highly prized as this
humble little exile. The fortunate possessor pays it far more
attention than he bestows upon any of the gorgeous flowers that bloom
about it; and those who visit his garden of rare plants find nothing
there that fills them with so profound a feeling of interest as the
meek and lowly flower which recalls to their memories the pleasant
pastures of Old England.

But to return to the ruins of Woodman's Point. This plot of land,
now so neglected and forlorn, was once the blooming garden of a very
singular old man, who owed his support to the vegetables which it
produced, and to the fish that he caught from the little cobble which
danced at anchor in the bay, whenever the weather permitted the
fisherman to exercise his art. No one knew his history, but his
conversation and deportment told you that he was of gentle birth, and
had been well educated. His manners were particularly amiable and
retiring, and every one who visited the solitary old man came away
impressed with a melancholy interest in his fate.

He always welcomed a visitor with gentle pleasure, and seemed glad of
the opportunity of showing his crops of vegetables and the flowers in
which he delighted.

The rose-tree never failed to arrest his steps for a moment. He had
brought it himself from England as a cutting, and there was evidently
some history attached to it; but he never shared his confidence with
any one; and the history of the rose-tree, like his own, was never

There was only one point on which he betrayed any feeling of pride --
and that was his name. No one else would perhaps have been so proud
of it, but he himself ever seemed to regard it with veneration.

He called himself Anthony Elisha Simson; and never failed to make you
observe that his patronymic was spelt without a "p".

Nothing irritated him so much as to receive a note addressed, "A. E.
Simpson, Esq."

The Simsons, he would assure you, were an old family in the northern
counties of England, and traced back their genealogy to the Conquest;
whereas the Simpsons were of quite a different, and doubtless
inferior origin. Nothing more than this did he ever relate
concerning his family or his personal history.

He arrived in the colony a few years after its foundation, without
any other effects than what were contained in a portmanteau and
carpet-bag, and with only a few sovereigns in his purse. Without
associating himself with any one, he early fixed upon the spot where
he afterwards built his house, and established his permanent abode.
Here he began to make his garden, and did not disdain to earn a few
shillings occasionally by cutting fire-wood for a man who supplied
Fremantle with that necessary article. It was this occupation that
caused the settlers, who knew nothing more of him, to give him the
title of "The Woodman" -- a name which soon attached to the locality.

After he had been some time in the colony, Mr. Simson began to
express great impatience for the arrival of letters from England.
Whenever a vessel arrived at the port, he would put on his old
shooting-coat, and walk along the shore to Fremantle, where, after
having inquired in vain at the post-office, he would purchase a pound
of tea, and then return home again.

Years went by. Every time that a vessel arrived, poor Simson would
hurry to Fremantle. He would watch, with eyes of ill-repressed
eagerness, the mail carried to the post-office in boxes and large
sacks. Surely amid that multitude of letters there must be one for
him! Patiently would he wait for hours at the window, whilst the
post-master and his assistants sorted the letters; and when he had
received the usual answer to his inquiry, he would return to his
abode with down-cast looks.

As time passed on he grew more fretful and impatient. Receiving no
intelligence from England, he seemed to be anxious to return thither.
He would drop expressions which led his visitors (generally
government officers who called upon him in their rides) to believe he
would depart from the colony were he rich enough to pay his passage,
or were he not restrained by some other powerful motive.

His mind ran altogether upon the Old Country, and it was with
reluctance that he planted the vegetables and cured the fish which
were essential to his support.

For many hours during the day he used to be seen standing fixed as a
sentinel on the low rock which formed the extremity of the ridge
called after himself -- the Woodman's Point -- and looking homewards.

Doubtless, thought was busy within him -- the thought of all he had
left or acted there. None had written to him; none remembered or
perhaps wished to remember him. But home was in his heart, even
whilst he felt there was no longer a home for him. A restless
anxiety preyed upon his mind, and he grew thin and feeble; but still
whenever a sail was seen coming round the north end of Rottnest, and
approaching the port, he would seize his staff, and set out upon his
long journey to Fremantle to inquire if there were, at last, a letter
awaiting him.

May we imagine the growing despair in the heart of this poor old
exile, as life seemed ebbing away, and yet there came no news, no
hope to him from home? Frequently he wrote himself, but always to
the same address -- that of a broker, it was supposed, in
Throgmorton-street. But no answer was ever returned. Had he no
children -- no friends?

Naturally weak-minded, he had now grown almost imbecile; but his
manners were still so gentle, and every thing about him seemed to
betoken so amiable and so resigned a spirit, that those who visited
him could scarcely part again without tears. As he grew more feeble
in body, he became more anxious to receive a letter from home; he
expected that every one who approached his dwelling was the bearer of
the intelligence so long hoped for in vain; and he would hasten to
greet him at the gate with eager looks and flushed cheeks -- again
only to be disappointed.

At length it was with difficulty that he tottered to the Point, to
look for a vessel which might bring him news. Although no ship had
arrived since he last sent to the post-office, he would urge his
visitor, though with hesitating earnestness, to be so good as to call
there on his return, and ascertain if by chance a letter were not
awaiting him. He said he felt that his hour was approaching, but he
could not bear to think of setting out on that long journey without
having once heard from home. Sometimes he muttered, as it were to
himself, that treachery had been practised against him, and he would
go and expose it; but he never allowed himself to indulge long in
this strain. Sometimes he would try to raise money enough by drawing
bills to pay his passage, but no one would advance anything upon them.

Daily he became more feeble, and men began to talk of sending him a
nurse. The last visitor who beheld him alive, found him seated in
the chair which he had himself constructed, and appearing less
depressed than usual. He said he expected soon to receive news from
home, and smiled with child-like glee. His friend helped him to walk
as far as the rose-tree, which was then putting forth its buds.
"Promise," said the old man, laying his trembling hand upon the
other's arm, "promise that when I am gone you will come and see them
in full blow? Promise! you will make me happy."

The next day they sent a lad from Fremantle to attend upon him. The
boy found him seated in his chair. He was dead. A mound of earth at
the foot of a mahogany-tree, still marks the spot where he was
buried. Those 'friends' at home who neglected or repulsed him when
living, may by chance meet with this record from the hand of a
stranger -- but it will not move them; nor need it now.



The native population of our colony are said to be a much more
peaceable and harmless race than those of any other part of
Australia. In the early days of the settlement they caused a good
deal of trouble, and were very destructive to the pigs and sheep of
the colonists; but a little well-timed severity, and a steadily
pursued system of government, soon reduced them into well-conducted
subjects of the British Crown. There appears, however, to be little
hope of civilizing them, and teaching them European arts and habits.
Those of mature age, though indolent, and seldom inclined to be
useful in the smallest degree, are peaceful in their habits; and when
in want of a little flour will exert themselves to earn it, by
carrying letters, shooting wild ducks with a gun lent to them,
driving home cattle, or any other easy pursuit; but they appear to be
incapable of elevation above their original condition. Considerable
pains have been bestowed (especially by the Wesleyans) upon the
native children, many of whom are educated in schools at Perth,
Fremantle, and other places, in the hope of making them eventually
useful servants to the settlers. Most of these, however, betake
themselves to the bush, and resume their hereditary pursuits, just at
the age when it is hoped they will become useful. Very frequently
they die at that age of mesenteric disorders; and very few indeed
become permanently civilized in their habits.

Nothing could be more anomalous and perplexing than the position of
the Aborigines as British subjects. Our brave and conscientious
Britons, whilst taking possession of their territory, have been most
careful and anxious to make it universally known, that Australia is
not a conquered country; and successive Secretaries of State, who
write to their governors in a tone like that in which men of sour
tempers address their maladroit domestics, have repeatedly commanded
that it must never be forgotten "that our possession of this
territory is based on a right of occupancy."

A "right of occupancy!" Amiable sophistry! Why not say boldly at
once, the right of power? We have seized upon the country, and shot
down the inhabitants, until the survivors have found it expedient to
submit to our rule. We have acted exactly as Julius Caesar did when
he took possession of Britain. But Caesar was not so hypocritical as
to pretend any moral right to possession. On what grounds can we
possibly claim a right to the occupancy of the land? We are told,
because civilized people are justified in extending themselves over
uncivilized countries. According to this doctrine, were there a
nation in the world superior to ourselves in the arts of life, and of
a different religious faith, it would be equally entitled (had it the
physical power) to the possession of Old England under the "right of
occupancy;" for the sole purpose of our moral and social improvement,
and to make us participants in the supposed truths of a new creed.

We have a right to our Australian possessions; but it is the right of
Conquest, and we hold them with the grasp of Power. Unless we
proceed on this foundation, our conduct towards the native population
can be considered only as a monstrous absurdity. However Secretaries
of State may choose to phrase the matter, we can have no other right
of occupancy. We resolve to found a colony in a country, the
inhabitants of which are not strong enough to prevent our so doing,
though they evince their repugnance by a thousand acts of hostility.

We build houses and cultivate the soil, and for our own protection we
find it necessary to declare the native population subject to our

This would be an easy and simple matter were it the case of
conquerors dictating to the conquered; but our Secretaries of State,
exhibiting an interesting display of conscientiousness and timidity,
shrink from the responsibility of having sanctioned a conquest over a
nation of miserable savages, protected by the oracles at Exeter Hall,
and reject with sharp cries of anger the scurrilous imputation.
Instead, therefore, of being in possession by right of arms, we
modestly appropriate the land to ourselves, whilst making the most
civil assurances that we take not this liberty as conquerors, but
merely in order to gratify a praiseworthy desire of occupying the
country. We then declare ourselves seised in fee by right of
occupancy. But now comes the difficulty. What right have we to
impose laws upon people whom we profess not to have conquered, and
who have never annexed themselves or their country to the British
Empire by any written or even verbal treaty?

And if this people and country be not subject to our rule by
conquest, and have never consented or desired (but the contrary) to
accept of our code of laws, and to submit themselves to our
authority, are they really within the jurisdiction of the laws of
England -- 'especially for offences committed inter se?'

Such is the anomalous position in which the native inhabitants are
placed through the tender consciences of our rulers at home. A
member of a tribe has been speared by one of another tribe, who
happens to be patronized by a farm-settler, and is occasionally
useful in hunting-up stray cattle. The friends of the dead man
proceed to punish the assassin according to their own hereditary
laws; they surprise him suddenly, and spear him. The farmer writes
an account of the fact to the Protector of Natives at Perth; and this
energetic individual, rising hastily from dinner, calls for his
horse, and endowing himself with a blue woollen shirt, and a pair of
dragoon spurs, with a blanket tied round his waist, fearlessly
commits himself to the forest, and repairs to the scene of slaughter.

He learns from the mouth of the farm-settler, that the facts are
really what he had been already apprised of by letter; and then,
having left word that the offender may be caught as soon as possible,
and forwarded to Fremantle gaol, he hastens back again to his anxious
family; and the next morning delivers a suitable report to his
Excellency the Governor of all that he has performed. In course of
time the native is apprehended -- betrayed by a friend for a pound of
flour -- and brought to the bar of justice. His natural defence
would be that he certainly slew an enemy, as he is accused of having
done, but then it was a meritorious and necessary act; he glories in
it; his own laws required that he should slay the murderer of his
relative; and his own laws, therefore, accuse him not. What are
English customs, prejudices, or laws to him? He is not a British
subject, for he is not the inhabitant of a conquered country (as
English governors tell him), nor has he, or any of his tribe or
complexion, consented or wished to be placed under the protection of
our laws. Why, then, should he be violently dragged from the arms of
his 'wilgied' squaws, and his little pot-bellied piccaninnies, and
required to plead for his life in the midst of a large room filled
with frowning white faces? Much obliged is he to the judge, who
kindly tells him, through the interpreter, that he is not bound to
convict himself, and need not acknowledge anything that may operate
to his disadvantage in the minds of the jury.

The unfortunate savage disregards the friendly caution, and heeds it
not; he maintains, stoutly, that he 'gidgied' Womera through the
back, because Womera had 'gidgied' Domera through the belly. He
enters into minute details to the gentlemen of the jury of the manner
in which these slaughters were effected, and describes the extent and
direction of the wounds, and every other interesting particular that
occurs to him. The gentlemen of the jury, after duly considering the
case, return (of necessity) a verdict of "Wilful murder," and the
judge pronounces sentence of death -- which is afterwards commuted by
the Governor to transportation for life to the Isle of Rottnest.

Now if our laws had been imposed upon this people as a conquered
nation, or if they had annexed themselves and their country to our
rule and empire by anything like a treaty, all these proceedings
would be right and proper. But as it is, we are two nations
occupying the same land, and we have no more right to try them by our
laws for offences committed 'inter se', than they have to seize and
spear an Englishman, according to their law, because he has laid
himself open to an action of 'crim. con.' at the suit of his
next-door neighbour.

Look at the question in another point of view. Is jurisdiction a
necessary incident of sovereignty? Do a people become subject to our
laws by the very act of planting the British standard on the top of a
hill? If so, they have been subject to them from the days of Captain
Cook; and the despatches of Her Majesty's Secretaries of State,
declaring that the natives should be considered amenable to our laws
for all offences which they might commit among themselves, were very
useless compositions. We claim the sovereignty, yet we disclaim
having obtained it by conquest; we acknowledge that it was not by
treaty; we should be very sorry to allow that it was by fraud; and
how, in the name of wonder, then, can we defend our claim?
Secretaries of State have discovered the means, and tell us that Her
Majesty's claim to possession and sovereignty is "based on a right of
occupancy." Jurisdiction, however, is not the necessary incident of
territorial sovereignty, unless that sovereignty were acquired by
conquest or treaty. We question, indeed, whether it is the necessary
consequence even of conquest -- the laws of the conqueror must first
be expressly imposed. The old Saxon laws prevailed among the people
of England after the Conquest, until the Norman forms were expressly

It is well known in colonies, that the laws propounded in certain
despatches are more powerful, and more regarded and reverenced, than
any others, human or divine. A kind of moral gun-cotton, they drive
through the most stupendous difficulties, and rend rocks that
appeared to be insuperable barriers in the eyes of common sense or
common justice. Judges are compelled to yield to their authority,
and do violence to their own consciences whilst they help to lay the
healing unction to those of their lawgivers.

The most convenient and the most sensible proceeding, on the part of
our rulers at home, would be to consider this country in the light of
a recent conquest. Instead of declaring, as now, that the natives
are to be treated in every way as British subjects -- thus making
them amenable to the English law in all its complexity, whilst their
own laws and habits are so entirely opposite in character -- it would
be better to pass a few simple ordinances, in the nature of military
law, which would be intelligible to the natives themselves, and which
would avoid the difficulty of applying the cumbrous machinery of our
criminal code to the government of savages who can never be made to
comprehend its valuable properties. It is most essential that the
natives who commit offences against the persons or property of the
whites should be brought to punishment. At the same time it is most
difficult to establish the guilt of the party accused, according to
the strict rules of legal evidence. The only witnesses, probably,
were natives, who understand not the nature of an oath, and who lie
like the Prince of Darkness whenever they have wit enough to perceive
it is their interest to do so. In general, the only chance of
obtaining a legal conviction is through the confession of the
prisoner; and as it is most desirable that he should be convicted,
when there is no moral doubt of his guilt, as his acquittal would be
looked upon as a triumph by his fellows, and make them more daring in
their opposition to the law, very little delicacy is used in
obtaining that confession.

Were the prisoner defended by counsel, who did his duty to his
client, without regard to the interests of the public, the guilty
person would escape in almost every instance. As it is, the law is
outraged, and a trial by jury made an occasion of mockery and gross
absurdity, in order to obtain a conviction which is necessary to the
welfare of the white population. Nothing would be more easy than to
legislate for the proper government of the Aborigines; but you must
begin 'de novo', and throw aside with scorn the morbid sentimentality
that refuses to look upon those as a conquered people, whom,
nevertheless, it subjects to the heavy thraldom of laws which they
are not yet fitted to endure.



The native inhabitants of Western Australia are only superior in the
scale of human beings to the Bosjemans of Southern Africa. Their
intellectual capacity appears to be very small, and their physical
structure is extremely feeble. In some respects the Australian
peculiarly assimilates to two of the five varieties of the human
race. In the form of his face and the texture of his hair he
resembles the Malay; in the narrow forehead, the prominent
cheek-bones, and the knees turned in, he approaches towards the
Ethiopian.* There is a remarkable difference between the jaws and
teeth of the Australian and those of any other existing race. The
incisores are thick and round, not, as usual, flattened into edges,
but resembling truncated cones; the cuspidati are not pointed, but
broad and flat on the masticating surface, like the neighbouring
bicuspides. This may be attributable to mechanical attrition,
depending on the nature of the food which the teeth are employed in
masticating. The upper does not overlap the under jaw, but the teeth
meet at their surfaces. This peculiarity of teeth has been noticed
by Blumenbach as a characteristic of the Egyptian mummy; but he
thinks the nature of the food not sufficient to account for it, and
imagines it to depend on a natural variety. He observes, that
"although it seemed most easy to account for this appearance by
attributing it to the nature of the food used by the Egyptians, yet
the generality of its occurrence in Egyptian mummies, and its absence
in other races, are remarkable; and it affords some probability that
the peculiarity depends upon a natural variety."** A constant
uniformity in the structure and arrangement of the teeth is an
important particular in the identification of species; and if any
human race were found to deviate materially in its dentition from the
rest of mankind, the fact would give rise to a strong suspicion of a
real specific diversity. I have examined the teeth of infants and
children, and found them in every respect similar to those of
Europeans of similar ages. Moreover, the process of degradation may
be traced in natives of different ages up to the teeth worn to the
level of the gums in the old man. I therefore consider it the effect
of attrition; but it becomes an interesting question to determine
what may be the nature of the food which produced the same character
in the ancient Egyptian and the modern Australian. Did the fathers
of science live on barks and roots, like the wretched Australian?
Although attrition may cause this singular appearance of the teeth,
the real question is, why does the lower jaw so perfectly and exactly
meet its fellow? And is this confined to these two examples?

[footnote] *The observations in this chapter were contributed by
Henry Landor, Esq., Colonial Surgeon on the Gold Coast, who resided
five years among the natives of Western Australia, and is intimately
acquainted with all their habits and peculiarities.

[footnote] **In a former chapter (13.) I have expressed an opinion
that the natives are descended from the old inhabitants of India,
which I think is exceedingly probable. It is interesting to
remember, that the ancient Egyptians are supposed to have originally
come from the same country.

There is no fixed law determining invariably the human stature,
although there is a standard, as in other animals, from which
deviations are not very considerable in either direction. Some
varieties exceed, others fall short of, the ordinary stature in a
small degree. The source of these deviations is in the breed; they
are quite independent of external influences.

In all the five human varieties, some nations are conspicuous for
height and strength, others for lower stature and inferior muscular
power; but in no case is the peculiarity confined to any particular
temperature, climate, or mode of life. The Australians, in general,
are of a moderate stature, with slender limbs, thin arms, and long
taper fingers. Although in general stature there is nothing to
distinguish one variety of man from another, yet in the comparative
length of the different parts of the human frame there are striking
differences. In the highest and most intellectual variety (the
Caucasian) the arm (os humeri) exceeds the fore-arm in length by two
or three inches -- in none less than two inches. In monkeys the
fore-arm and arm are of the same length, and in some monkeys the
fore-arm is the longer. In the Negro, the 'ulna', the longest bone
of the fore-arm, is nearly of the same length as the 'os humeri', the
latter being from one to two inches longer. In a Negro in the
lunatic asylum of Liverpool (says Mr. White) the ulna was twelve and
a half inches, and the humerus only thirteen and a half. In the
Australian, the ulna in some I have measured was ten and a half,
nine, ten, eleven and a half; the humerus was in those individuals
respectively eleven and a half, ten and a half, eleven and a half,
twelve and a half. Thus, in none of the measurements did the humerus
exceed the ulna two inches, which in the Caucasian variety is the
lowest number. In all the black races the arm is longer in
proportion to the stature than in the white. The length of the leg
of the Australian averages thirty-six inches; in one man it was only
thirty-three and a half, and the tibia of that man measured sixteen
and a half, leaving only seventeen to the femur -- a very remarkable

Thus in the proportion of their limbs, the Australian ranks far below
the European; nay, even below the Negro, and approaches far nearer to
the simiae than any of the other races of mankind. Perron, in his
voyage, made an estimate of the average strength of the arms and
loins of the Australian, and of some French and English; this is the
result in French measures: --

Kilogrammes. Myriagrammes.
Australian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50.8 . . . . . . . .10.2
Natives of Timor . . . . . . . . . . . 58.7 . . . . . . . 11.6
French . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 69.2 . . . . . . . .15.2
English . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 71.4 . . . . . . . .16.3

Thus in whatever manner the capacity of the race is tested, its
inferiority is strikingly exhibited. We shall find, when examining
the skull, that the coronal suture falls on the temporal instead of
the sphenoid bone, which is one of the strongest marks of the simiae,
and does not occur in other human skulls.

I have no desire to place the Australian lower in the scale of
intelligence than he is fairly entitled to rank, but I cannot shut my
eyes to facts; and if his organization is in conformity with his
inferiority, there he must rank, in spite of the wishes of his
warmest friends. At the same time I agree with the most enthusiastic
philanthropist that no attempt should be left untried to amend his
condition, and bestow upon him the blessings which Providence has
lavished upon us; but I cannot help fearing the result will be
disappointment. A fair comparative experiment says Mr. Lawrence, has
been made of the white and dark races of North America; and no trial
in natural philosophy has had a more unequivocal result. The native
races have not advanced a single step in 300 years; neither example
nor persuasion has induced them, except in very small numbers and in
few instances, to exchange the precarious supply of hunting, and
fishing for agriculture and the arts of settled life.

The colour of the skin is chocolate, and resembles the Malay,
although perhaps a little darker. The colour of the skin is, of
course, greatly dependent upon the nature of the climate and the
constant exposure of the surface of the body to the sun; the parts
under the arms are of a brighter colour than those more exposed. We
find in human races, as in vegetation, that every successive level
alters its character; thus indicating that the state of the
temperature of high regions assimilates to high latitudes. If,
therefore, complexions depend upon climate and external conditions,
we should expect to find them varying in reference to elevation of
surface; and if they should be actually found to undergo such
variations, this will be a strong argument in favour of the
supposition that these external characters do in fact depend upon
local conditions. The Swiss in the high mountains above the plains
of Lombardy have sandy or brown hair. What a contrast presents
itself to the traveller in the Milanese, where the peasants have
black hair and almost Oriental features! The Basques, of the tracts
approaching the Pyrenees, says Colonel Napier, are a strikingly
different people from the inhabitants of the low parts around,
whether Spaniards or Biscayans. They are finely made, tall men, with
aquiline noses, fair complexions, light eyes, and flaxen hair;
instead of the swarthy complexion, black hair, and dark eyes of the
Castilian. And in Africa what striking differences of complexion
exist between the Negro of the plains and of the mountains, even
whilst the osteology is the same, therefore I pass over the hair and
skin of the Australian as parts too much subjected to the influence
of climate to afford means of legitimate deduction. It is the general
opinion that these natives are not a long-lived race. The poverty of
their food may account for this, together with the want of shelter
from the vicissitudes of the climate. The care taken by civilized
man to preserve health is, by increasing susceptibility, the
indirect cause of disease; the more rigid is the observance of
regimen, the more pernicious will be the slightest aberration from
it; but a total disregard of all the comforts of regular food, and
efficient shelter, the habit of cramming the stomach when food is
plentiful, and of enduring long abstinence when it cannot be
procured, has a far more baneful effect upon the human constitution
than all the excesses of the white man. As man recedes from one
hastener of destruction, he inevitably approaches another:

"Gross riot treasures up a wealthy fund
Of plagues, but more immedicable ills
Attend the lean extreme."

I have observed that the natives mix the gum of certain trees with
the bark, and masticate both together. This is attributed to the
difficulty of masticating the gum alone; but I am persuaded that it
has another cause also, and that it arises from that experience of
the necessity of an additional stimulus to the digestive organ which
has taught the Esquimaux and Ottomacs to add sawdust or clay to their
train-oil. It arises from the fact that (paradoxical as it may
appear) an animal may be starved by giving it continually too simple
and too nutritious food; aliment in such a state of condensation does
not impart the necessary stimulus, which requires to be partly
mechanical and partly chemical, and to be exerted at once on the
irritability of the capillaries of the stomach to promote its
secretions, and on the muscular fibres to promote its

I shall now point out the difference between the Australian skull
and those of some other races, without giving a description of skulls
in general, which would unnecessarily lengthen these observations.
"Of all the peculiarities in the form of the bony fabric, those of
the skull are the most striking and distinguishing. It is in the
head that we find the varieties most strongly characteristic of the
different races. The characters of the countenance, and the shape of
the features depend chiefly on the conformation of the bones of the

The Australian skull belongs to that variety called the prognathous,
or narrow elongated variety; yet it is not so striking an example of
this variety as the Negro skull. If the skull be held in the hand so
that the observer look upon the vertex, the first point he remarks is
the extreme narrowness of the frontal bone, and a slight bulging
where the parietal and occipital bones unite. He also sees
distinctly through the zygomatic arches on both sides, which in the
European skull is impossible, as the lateral portions of the frontal
bone are more developed. The summit of the head rises in a
longitudinal ridge in the direction of the sagittal suture; so that
from the sagittal suture to that portion of the cranium where the
diameter is greatest the head slopes like the roof of a house. The
forehead is generally flat; the upper jaw rather prominent; the
frontal sinuses large; the occipital bone is flat, and there is a
remarkable receding of the bone from the posterior insertion of the
'occipitofrontalis' muscle to the 'foramen magnum'. It is a peculiar
character of the Australian skull to have a very singular depression
at the junction of the nasal bones with the nasal processes of the
frontal bone. This may be seen in an engraving in Dr. Pritchard's
work. I have before described the teeth, and mentioned the
remarkable junction of the temporal and parietal bones at the coronal
suture, and consequently the complete separation of the sphenoid from
the parietal, which in European skulls meet for the space of nearly
half an inch. Professor Owen has observed this conformation in six
out of seven skulls of young chimpanzees, and Professor Mayo has also
noticed it in the skulls he has examined. But although this is a
peculiarity found in this race alone, it is not constant. I have a
skull in which the sphenoid touches the parietal on one side, whilst
on the other they are separated a sixth of an inch; and in the
engraving, before referred to, the bones are slightly separated, but
by no means to the extent that they are in European skulls. The
super and infra orbital foramina are very large, and the orbits are
broad, with the orbital ridge sharp and prominent. All the foramina
for the transmission of the sensiferous nerves are large, the
auditory particularly so; while the foramen, through which the
carotid artery enters the skull, is small. The mastoid processes are
large, which might be expected, as their hearing is acute. The
styloid process is small; in monkeys it is wanting. The position of
the 'foramen magnum', as in all savage tribes, is more behind the
middle transverse diameter than in Europeans; but this arises in a
great measure, though not entirely, from the prominence of the
alveolar processes of the upper jaw. Owing to constant exposure to
all seasons, the skulls of savages are of greater density, and weigh
heavier than those of Europeans: --

lb. oz.
Skull of a Greek . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 11 1/2
" Negro . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 0
" Mulatto . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 10
" Chinese . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 7 1/2
" Gipsy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 0
" Australian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1 12 1/2

Upon an examination of the foregoing points of diversity, it is
unquestionable that the Australian skull is inferior in development
to the European, and the capacity of the cranium of much less.



The Natives have very few traditions, and most of those which they
relate resemble the disconnected phantasies of a dream rather than
the record of a series of facts.

They have some indistinct ideas about Chingi, the Evil Spirit, but no
notion whatever of a Supreme God. When first the English arrived,
many of the Aborigines considered them to be the spirits of their
deceased relatives; and some of them fancied they could trace the
features of former friends in the lineaments of individuals among the
whites. One of these natives, still living, has more than once told
me that his late uncle is now a certain eloquent and popular member
of the Legislative Council. The nephew and resuscitated uncle
occasionally meet, when the former never fails to claim the
relationship, which the latter good-humouredly acknowledges; and the
relatives separate with mutual expressions of politeness and

One of their most remarkable and most intelligible traditions was
recorded some time ago in the 'Perth Inquirer', by Mr. Armstrong,
Interpreter to the Natives.

It is as follows: --
"The natives assert that they have been told from age to age, that
when man first began to exist, there were two beings, male and
female, named Wal-lyne-up (the father) and Doronop (the mother); that
they had a son called Biu-dir-woor, who received a deadly wound,
which they carefully endeavoured to heal, but without success;
whereupon it was declared by Wal-lyne-up, that all who came after him
should also die in like manner. Could the wound have been healed in
this case, being the first, the natives think death would have had no
power over them. The place where the scene occurred, and where
Bin-dir-woor was buried, the natives imagine to have been on the
southern plains, between Clarence and the Murray; and the instrument
used is said to have been a spear thrown by some unknown being, and
directed by some supernatural power. The tradition goes on to state
that Bin-dir-woor, the son, although deprived of life and buried in
his grave, did not remain there, but arose and went to the west; to
the unknown land of spirits across the sea. The parents followed
after their son, but (as the natives suppose) were unable to prevail
upon him to return, and they have remained with him ever since."

The following is one of their fables: -- The kangaroo was originally
blind, and could only walk or crawl. The frog seeing it so much at
the mercy of its enemies, took compassion on it, and anointed the
sightless eyeballs of the kangaroo with its saliva, and told it to
hop as he did. The kangaroo did so, and is now become the most
difficult animal in the world to catch.

Besides Chingi, the evil spirit who haunts the woods, there is
another in the shape of an immense serpent, called Waugul, that
inhabits solitary pools. Snakes that frequent both water and land,
of great size -- twenty feet long, according to some authorities --
have been occasionally seen, and give a colour to this belief of the
natives. One day, whilst bivouacking at a lonely and romantic spot,
in a valley of rocks, situated some forty miles north of Perth,
called the 'Dooda-mya', or the Abode of Dogs, I desired a native to
lead my horse to a pool, and let him drink. The man, however,
declined with terror, refusing to go near the pool, which was
inhabited by the Waugul. I therefore had to take my horse myself to
the spot, whilst the native stood aloof, fully expecting that the
Waugul would seize him by the nose and pull him under water.

The natives are polygamists. Each male is entitled to all the
females who are related to him in a certain degree. A newly-born
child is therefore the betrothed spouse of a man who may be thirty
years of age, and who claims her from her parents so soon as she is
marriageable -- when she is twelve years old, or earlier. Some men
have, consequently, four or six wives of various ages, whilst others
have none at all. The latter are therefore continually engaged in
stealing the wives of other people.

This causes incessant wars among the tribes. When the legitimate
husband recovers his wife, he does not restore her to the full
enjoyment of domestic happiness, until he has punished her for
eloping. This he does by thrusting a spear through the fleshy part
of her leg or thigh.

The natives are very good-natured to one another; sharing their
provisions and kangaroo-skin cloaks without grudging. The head of a
family takes the half-baked duck, opossum, or wild-dog, from the
fire, and after tearing it in pieces with his teeth, throws the
fragments into the sand for his wives and children to pick up. They
are very fond of rice and sugar; and bake dampers from flour, making
them on a corner of their cloaks.

Fish and other things are frequently baked in the bark of the paper-tree.

The following observations have been sent to me by my youngest
brother: "Every tribe possesses a certain tract of country which is
called after the name of the tribe -- as Moenaing Budja -- the
Moenai-men's ground. They are not always very particular about
trespassing on their neighbour's territory. Many of the colonists
say that each tribe has its chief or king; but among all whom I have
seen, I never could discover that they paid any particular respect to
one individual, though they appear to reverence old age; and I have
frequently seen a party of young men, alternately carrying an old
grey-headed patriarch during their excursions from one encampment to

"They have no religion whatever, but they believe in some kind of an
evil spirit. I have often tried to discover, but could never clearly
understand, whether they believe in only one all-powerful evil
spirit, or whether it is merely the spirits of their departed friends
that they fear; or, (as I am inclined to believe) they fear both; and
for these reasons: -- wherever there is a large encampment of
natives, each family has its own private fire and hut, but you will
always perceive another fire about one hundred yards from the camp,
which apparently belongs to no one; but which the old hags take care
shall never go out during the night; for they will frequently get up
and replenish that fire, when they are too lazy to fetch fuel for
their own. They call that Chingi's fire; and they believe if he
comes in the night he will sit quietly by his own fire and leave them
undisturbed. That they likewise believe in the reappearance of
departed spirits, may be easily proved by the manner and the
formalities with which they bury their dead. In the first place they
cut off the hair and beard; they then break his finger-joints and tie
the thumb and fore-finger of the right hand together; so that if he
rise again, he may not have the power to use a spear and revenge
himself. They then break his spears, throwing-stick, and all his
other implements of war, and throw them into the grave, over which
they build a hut; and a fire is kept lighted for a certain length of
time. It is likewise customary for his wife or nearest relation, if
at any future period they should happen to pass near the grave, to
repair the hut, rekindle the fire, and utter a long rigmarole to the
departed, to induce him to lie still, and not come back and torment
them. Nothing will induce a stranger to go near a new grave, or to
mention the name of the departed for a long time after his death.
They always speak of him as So-and-so's brother, or father. If the
deceased be the father of a family, it is the duty of his eldest son,
or nearest relation, to avenge his death by killing one of the next,
or any other tribe; and this often leads to furious battles or
cold-blooded murders; for they are by no means particular whether it
be man, woman, or child who is the victim; and it is generally the
poor women who suffer on these occasions; the men being too cowardly,
unless under the influence of very strong passion, to attack those of
equal strength with themselves. The women do all the work, such as
building huts, carrying water, digging up roots, and procuring grubs
out of the wattle and grass-trees. I have seen a poor unfortunate
woman marching twenty miles a-day, with (at least) a hundred
pounds'-weight on her back, including the child and all their
effects; whilst the husband has been too lazy to carry even his
cloak. A hunting excursion with a large party of natives is capital
sport. They choose, if possible, a valley, at one end of which they
station ten or twenty of the most expert spearmen; with whom, if you
want any fun, you must station yourself, taking care to remain
concealed. All the juveniles of the party then start off, and make a
circuit of many miles in extent, shouting and hallooing the whole
time. They form a semicircle, and drive all the kangaroos before
them down the valley, to the spot where the old hunters are placed.
Then comes the tug of war, the crashing of bushes, the flying of
spears, and the thump, thump of the kangaroos, as they come tearing
along, sometimes in hundreds, from the old grey grandfather of six
feet high, to the little picanniny of twelve inches, who has tumbled
out of his mother's pouch; and numbers fall victims to the ruthless
arms of the hunters. The evening terminates with a grand feast and a

[etching opposite p. 214 "Spearing Kangaroos"]

Each tribe has its doctor, or wise man, who is supposed to have
supernatural powers of healing wounds, and is the oracle of the
tribe. One of these fellows described to me the mode of his
initiation. He said his father, himself a wise man, took him one
night to the edge of a steep hill, where he left him lying wrapped in
his kangaroo-skin cloak. He was very much frightened, but durst not
stir. During the night Chingi came and tried to throw him down the
hill, and to strangle him, but did not succeed. Chingi was like
something very black. He afterwards came again, and told him a great
many secrets; and thus is was that my informant became a doctor and a
wise man. I think I have heard of people obtaining the power of
second sight in the Isle of Skye by lying on a rock all night,
wrapped in a bull's hide, and receiving a visit from the devil. The
similarity between these initiatory processes struck me forcibly.



A well-governed colony is the Model of a great kingdom. As in the
case of other models, every part of the machinery by which it is
moved is placed at once before the eye of the spectator. In a great
empire, the springs of action are concealed; the public behold only
the results, and can scarcely guess how those results were brought
about. In a colony, every one stands so close to the little machine
of Government, that he can readily discern how it is made to work,
and therefore takes a more lively interest in the working of it. The
model has its representative of a sovereign; its Ministers, who
comprise the Executive Council with the Colonial Secretary as
Premier; its Parliament, the Legislative Assembly; its Bishop of
London, who is represented by the Colonial Chaplain, the dignitary of
the Church in those parts. In the Legislative Assembly there are the
Government party, consisting of the Colonial Secretary and the
Attorney General, who prove their loyalty and devotion by adhering to
His Excellency the Governor on every division, and (according to
general belief) would rather vote against their own measures than
against the representative of their Queen. Then there is the popular
party, consisting of the popular member, who speaks at random on
either side of the debate, but invariably votes against the
Government, in order to maintain inviolate the integrity of his
principles. We have also the Judge, or Lord chancellor, the great
Law officer of the Crown, who sits silently watching the progress of
a Bill, as it steals gently forward towards the close of the second
reading; and then suddenly pounces upon it, to the consternation of
his Excellency, and the delight of the popular member, and tears it
in pieces with his sharp legal teeth, whilst he shows that it is in
its scope and tendency contrary to the Law of England in that case
provided, and is besides impossible to be carried out in the present
circumstances of the Colony. The Model Nation has its national debt
of one thousand pounds, due to the Commissariat chest; and this
burthen of the State costs his Excellency many a sleepless night,
spent in vain conjectures as to the best mode of relieving the
financial embarrassments.

It is pleasant to learn from the model, how Government patronage is
disposed of in the Parent country. Kindly motives, however, which
never appear in the arrangements of the latter, are always
conspicuous in a colony. A public work is sometimes created for the
sole purpose of saving an unfortunate mechanic from the horrors of
idleness; and a debt due to the State is occasionally discharged by
three months' washing of a Privy Councillor's shirts.

Then we have the exact fac-simile of a Royal Court, with its levees
and drawing-rooms, where his Excellency displays the utmost extent of
his affability, and his lady of her queenly airs. There may be seen,
in all its original freshness and vigour, the smiling hatred of rival
ladies, followed by their respective trains of admirers; whilst the
full-blown dames of Members of Council elbow their way, with all the
charming confidence of rank, towards the vicinity of her who is the
cynosure of all eyes. The early levees of the first Governor of
Western Australia were held in a dry swamp, near the centre of the
present town of Perth. His Excellency, graciously bowing beneath the
shade of a banksia tree, received with affability those who were
introduced to him, as they stumbled into his presence over tangled
brushwood, and with difficulty avoided the only humiliation that is
scorned by English courtiers -- that of the person.

Ladies, in struggling through the thorny brake, had sometimes to
labour under the double embarrassment of a ragged reputation and
dress. To appear before the Presence, under such circumstances, with
a smiling countenance, proved the triumph of feminine art, and of
course excited general admiration. But this was in the early days of
the settlement. We have now a handsome Government-house, where
ladies who attend drawing-rooms incur no danger of any kind.

From the financial difficulties of a small colony you may form some
idea of the troubles of the Chancellor of the Exchequer at home. And
yet there is less financial talent required to raise five hundred
thousand pounds in England than five hundred in an impoverished
colony. In the former country only a few voices, comparatively, are
raised in expostulation; and no one cares about them, if Mr. Hume
could be gagged, and the other patriots in the Commons. But in a
colony! threaten to raise the price of sugar by the imposition of
another half-penny per pound, and the whole land will be heaved as
though by an earthquake. Not only will the newspapers pour forth a
terrific storm of denunciations against a treacherous Government, but
every individual of the public will take up the matter as a personal
injury, and roar out his protest against so monstrous a political
crime. Those who called most loudly for the erection of a necessary
bridge, will be most indignant when asked next year to contribute
towards its cost.

The Governor of a colony should not only be a good financier, but if
he would avoid the bitter pangs of repentance, must possess great
firmness in resisting the innumerable calls upon the Government purse.

His Excellency may lay his account to being daily vituperated for not
consenting to the construction of this or that national work, but he
will be still more taken to task when the melancholy duty of paying
for it becomes imperative, and is found to be unavoidable.

It is the general belief, that in a colony we are altogether out of
the world; but it has always appeared to me, that within the narrow
confines of one of those epitomes of a kingdom we may see more of the
world than when standing on the outer edge of society in England.

A man thinks himself in the midst of the world in Great Britain,
because he reads the newspapers and knows what is passing and being
enacted around him. But the same newspapers are read with equal
diligence in a colony, and the same knowledge is acquired there,
though some three months later. To read the newspapers, and to hang,
close as a burr, upon the skirts of society, is not to be in the
world. The world is, in truth, the heart of Man; and he knows most
of the World who knows most of his species. And where, alas! may
this knowledge, so painful and so humiliating, be better acquired
than in a colony? There we have the human heart laid open before us
without veil or disguise: there we see it in all its coarseness, its
selfishness, its brutality.

How many fine natures, cultivated, delicate, and generous, have gone
forth from their native land, full of high resolves, only to perish
in the mephitic atmosphere of a colony!

There we find whatever there is of good and bad in human nature
brought immediately before our eyes. It is a school of moral
anatomy, in which we study subjects whose outer covering has been
removed, and where the inner machinery (fearful to see!) is left

A knowledge of the world! if we gain it not in a colony, it must ever
remain a sealed book to us.

We shall leave but a bad impression on the mind of the reader in
concluding this short chapter with these sombre observations; but we
would not leave him without hope. Time will remedy all this. Some
moral evils correct themselves; as the water of the Nile becomes pure
again after it has gone putrid.



Except the waiter at a commercial inn, no man has so much upon his
hands, or so many faults to answer for, as the Governor of a colony.
If public affairs go wrong, every voice is raised, requiring him
immediately to rectify them; and as every one has a particular plan
of his own, the Governor is expected instantly to adopt them all.
Nor has he public calamities only to answer for; the private
misfortunes of individuals are, without hesitation, laid at his door.
He is expected to do something, and not a little, for all who are in
trouble; he has to devise expedients for those whose own wits are at
fault: it is among his duties to console, to cheer, to advise, to
redress, to remedy; and, above all, to enrich.

As men set up a block of wood in a field to become a rubbing-post for
asses; as bachelors take to themselves wives, and elderly spinsters
individuals of the feline race, in order to have something on which
to vent their occasional ill-humours, so is a Governor set up in a
colony, that the settlers may have a proper object or mark set apart,
on which they may satisfactorily discharge their wrongs, sorrows,
wants, troubles, distractions, follies, and unreasonable
expectations. A Governor is the safety-valve of a colony; withdraw
this legitimate object of abuse, and the whole community would be at
loggerheads. A state of anarchy would be the immediate consequence,
and broil and blood-shed would prevail throughout the land.
Sometimes a Governor forgets the purpose for which he was sent out
from home, and placed on high in a colony, as a rubbing-post; he
sometimes lapses into the error of fancying himself a colonial Solon,
and strives to distinguish his reign by the enactment of laws, which
only increase the natural irritability of the settlers, and cause him
to be more rubbed against than ever. On these occasions he is not
always entitled to much sympathy; but when private parties come
crowding round him to have the consequence of their follies averted,
or merely in a state of discontented irritation, to have their backs
scratched, his poor Excellency is much to be compassionated.

Almost every morning a long-eared crowd assembles around the
Government-offices, where the rubbing-post is set up, and one after
another they are admitted to find what relief they may from this
cheap luxury. It is pleasant to observe that they almost all come
out again with smiling countenances. For a moment, the sense of pain
or discontent has been alleviated by the gentle application.

Sometimes an honest farmer has ridden fifty miles in order to have
the pleasure of complaining to his Excellency of the
mal-administration of the post-office department, evidenced by the
non-delivery of a letter, which, after a vast deal of investigation
and inquiry, turns out never to have been posted. Sometimes a man
comes for advice as to the propriety of going to law with his
neighbour about a bull which had taken the liberty to eat some of his
turnips. One man wishes to have his Excellency's opinion upon a
disease which has lately broken out among his pigs; another has
mysteriously carried a piece of iron-stone in his pocket for a
hundred miles, and claims the reward for the discovery of a
coal-mine; a third has a plan to propose for fertilizing the
sand-plains around Perth, by manuring them with sperm oil. Some are
desirous that their sons should be made Government clerks, and insist
upon their right to all vacant appointments on the plea of being "old
settlers." Others have suggestions to make the neglect of which
would prove ruinous to the colony: general misery is only to be
averted by the repeal of the duty on tobacco: no more ships need be
expected (this is after a gale and wreck,) unless a break-water be
constructed, which may be done for ninety-five thousand pounds, and
there was a surplus revenue last year over the expenditure of
thirteen shillings and sixpence, the local government being also
indebted to the Commissariat chest in the sum of nine hundred pounds
odd. Some complain of roads and bridges being in a defective state,
and wonder why two thousand pounds extra per annum are not laid out
upon them; these are succeeded by a deputation from the inhabitants
of Rockingham, requesting, as a matter of right, that half that sum
may be applied in ornamenting their principal square with a botanical
garden. Then the Governor has to attend to complaints against public
officers. The Commissioner of the Civil Court has proved himself to
be an unjust judge by deciding for the defendant contrary to the
truth, as proved by the plaintiff; or the Commissioner of the Court
of Requests has received a bribe of three-and-fourpence, and refused
to listen to the complainant's story. The magistrates have granted a
spirit license to a notorious character, and denied one to the
applicant, an unimpeachable householder. The Post-Master General has
embezzled a letter, or the Colonial Secretary has neglected to reply
to one.

All these things, and a thousand others, the Governor is expected to
listen to, inquire about, remedy, or profit by.

One day, I remember, I went myself to complain of the absurdity of an
Act of Council which I thought might be advantageously amended by the
aid of a little light which had lately dawned upon me.

Among those who haunted the ante-room, waiting for admittance to the
rubbing-post was a tall Irish woman, who had seen better days, but
was now reduced to much distress, and was besides not altogether
right in her intellects.

She was in the frequent habit of attending there, for the purpose of
complaining against the Advocate General, who never paid her proper
attention when she went to lay her grievances before him. This woman
was the terror of the Government officers. She never allowed her
victim to escape when once she had begun her story; -- in vain might
he try to edge away towards the door -- if he were not to be retained
by the fascination of her voice, she would seize him by the coat with
a grasp of iron, and a fly might as well try to escape from a
pot-bellied spider. Whenever she appeared, no public officer was
ever to be found. A general epidemic seemed to have fallen upon the
offices, and exterminated all the inhabitants. The Colonial
Secretary would rush out to luncheon, deaf as an adder to the cries
of female distress that rang in the troubled air behind him. The
Advocate General, hearing the well-known voice inquiring for him in
no friendly key, would hurry away through an opposite door, and dive
into the woods adjoining Government-house, and there gnaw his nails,
in perturbation of spirit until he thought the evil was overpast.
His Excellency himself would sooner have seen the Asiatic cholera
walk into the room than Miss Maria Martin, and invariably turned
paler then his writing-paper, and shuddered with a sudden ague. She
had so many wrongs to complain of, which no human power could
redress, and she required so much to be done for her, and insisted
upon having reiterated promises to that effect, that no wonder she
excited the utmost terror in the minds of all whom she approached.
She was, moreover, a huge, brawny, fierce-looking creature, and
though upwards of fifty years of age, had the strength of an Irish
porter. She was reported on one occasion to have taken a gentleman
of high reputation, and unimpeachable morals, by the collar of his
coat, and pinned him up against the wall, until he had promised to
speak for her to the Governor; and when he subsequently accused her
of this violence, she retorted by saying that it was in self-defence,
as he had attempted improper liberties. The fear of such an
unscrupulous and cruel accusation made Government officers,
especially the married ones, extremely shy of granting a tete-a-tete
conversation to Miss Martin; and as no one was, of course, more
correct in his conduct than his Excellency the Governor, no wonder
that he should feel extremely nervous whenever he was surprised into
an interview with this interesting spinster.

When I found her in the ante-room I naturally recoiled, and tried to
back out again, smiling blandly all the time, as one does when a
violent-looking dog comes up, and begins sniffing about your legs.
Miss Martin, however, was used to these manoeuvres, and suddenly
getting between me and the door, intercepted my retreat, and insisted
on telling me, for the twentieth time, how villanously the Advocate
General had deceived her. Escape was impossible; I groaned and
sweated with anguish, but listen I must, and had to suffer martyrdom
for an hour, when the Governor's door opened, and he himself looked
out. On seeing the Gorgon he tried to withdraw, but she pounded like
a tigress through the door-way, and slamming the door after her,
secured an audience with his Excellency, which she took care should
not be a short one. I could remain no longer, and therefore owe the
rest of the story to public report. After an hour's tete-a-tete, his
Excellency's voice grew more imperative. The clerks, highly
interested, conceived that he was insisting upon her withdrawing. It
is supposed that he could not possibly escape himself, as she of
course cut off all communication with either the door or the
bell-rope. The lady's voice also waxed higher; at length it rose
into a storm. Nothing more was heard of the poor Governor beyond a
faint, moaning sound; whether he was deprecating the tempest, or
being actually strangled, became a matter of grave speculation. Some
asserted that they heard his kicks upon the floor, others could only
hear convulsive sobs; then all fancied they could distinguish the
sounds of a struggle. The officials debated whether it would be
proper or indelicate to look in upon the interview; but it became so
evident that a scuffle was going on, that the private secretary's
anxiety overcame all other considerations. The door was opened just
as his Excellency, escaping from the grasp of the mad woman, had made
a vault at the railing which ran across the farther end of the
Council Room (to keep back the public on certain days), in hopes of
effecting his escape by the door beyond. Nothing could have been
better conceived than this design; but unhappily the lady had caught
hold of his coat-tail to arrest his flight, and therefore instead of
vaulting clear over the rails, as he had anticipated, his Excellency
was drawn back in his leap, and found himself seated astride upon the
barrier, with a desperate woman tugging at his tail, and trying to
pull him back into the arena. Nothing, we believe, has ever exceeded
the ludicrous misery displayed in his Excellency's visage on finding
himself in this perilous situation. But seeing the private secretary
and a mob of clerks, with their pens in their hands, hastening to his
rescue, he made a desperate effort, and cast himself off on the other
side; and finally succeeded in rushing out of the room, having only
one tail hanging to his coat, with which he escaped into an adjoining
apartment, and was received into the arms of the Surveyor General in
a state of extreme exhaustion.

Such are some of the troubles and afflictions incident to the
unenviable office of Governor of a colony. Those innocent country
gentlemen who have expended the better part of their property on
contested elections, and now weary heaven and Her Majesty's Principal
Secretaries of State for colonial appointments, little know what they
invoke upon themselves. In my opinion Sancho Panza had a sinecure,
compared with theirs, in his Governorship of the island of Barrataria.*

[footnote] *Our love of the ludicrous frequently makes us delighted
to find even the most estimable characters in a ridiculous position.
The above anecdote is perhaps exaggerated, but it is here recorded as
a moral warning to those who yearn like Sancho Panza for a
government, and not from a desire to cast ridicule upon one who was
universally respected and esteemed, for the quiet decorum of his
life, his high principles, his strict impartiality, and the
conscientious discharge of all the duties of his office.



Soon after I was settled in my residence at Perth I purchased a
couple of young mares unbroke, recently imported from the Cape of
Good Hope. They were the offspring of an Arab horse and Cape mare,
and one of them, a chestnut, was almost the handsomest creature I
ever beheld. They cost me thirty guineas each; but since that period
the value of horses is greatly diminished.

I was very much pleased with this purchase, which recalled the
memories of boyhood and a long-tailed pony, whenever I found myself
feeding or grooming my stud -- which I often thought proper to do, as
my establishment, though at that time numerous, did not comprise a
well-educated groom.

Besides my own man, I had two runaway sailors from the ship in which
we had come out, quartered upon me. They expressed so flattering a
regard for me, as the only person whom they knew in this part of the
world, and were so ready to dig the garden and plant potatoes, or do
any other little matter to make themselves useful, that I had not the
heart to refuse them a nook in the kitchen, or a share of our daily
meals. I now called their services into activity by making them
assist at the breaking in of my mares; and whilst I held the
lunging-rein, Mr. Sails would exert himself till he became as black
as a sweep with dust and perspiration, by running round and round in
the rear of the animal, urging her forward with loud cries and
objurgations, accompanied with furious crackings of his whip. These
sailors never did anything quietly. If told to give the horses some
hay, they would both start up from their stools by the kitchen fire,
as if in a state of frantic excitement; thrust their pipes into the
leathern belt which held up their trousers, and jostling each other
through the doorway like a brace of young dogs, tear round the house
to the stable, or rather shed, as though possessed by a legion of
devils. Then, unable to use a fork, they would seize as much hay as
they could clasp in their arms, and littering it all about the
premises, rush to the stalls, where they suddenly grew exceedingly
cautious; for in fact, they felt much greater dread of these horses
than they would have done of a ground shark. Then it was all, "Soh!
my little feller! Soh! my pretty little lass! -- Avast there -- (in
a low tone) you lubber, or I'll rope's end you -- none of that!"
This was whenever the mare, pleased at the sight of the hay, looked
round and whinnied. Unless I superintended the operation myself, the
hay would be thrown under the horse's feet, whilst the men took to
their heels at the same moment, and then turned round to see whether
the animals could reach their fodder. If they could, these worthy
grooms would come cheerfully to me and tell me that the horses were
eating their allowance; but if not, they filled their pipes, and took
a turn out of the way, trusting the hay would all be trampled into
the litter before I happened to see it. Whenever I was present, I
made them get upon the manger and put the hay into the rack, (I never
could teach them to use a fork,) but it was with fear and trembling
that they did this. One day, Sails was standing on the manger, with
the hay in his arms, when the mare, trying to get a mouthful,
happened to rub her nose against the hinder portion of his person.
Sails roared aloud, and let the hay fall upon the mare's head and

"What's the matter, man?" said I.

"By Gad, sir," cried Sails, looking round with a face of terror, and
scrambling down, "he's tuk a bite out of my starn!"

After the horses had been well lunged it became necessary to mount
them. In vain, however, I tried to persuade Sails or his comrade
Dick to get upon their backs. I therefore mounted first myself, and
after a deal of plunging and knocking about was dismounted again,
with the mare, who had thrown herself down, actually kneeling upon my
body. All this time, Sails stood helplessly looking on open-mouthed,
holding the lunging-rein in his hands; and I had to call to him to
"pull her off" before he made any attempt to give assistance. This
accident effectually prevented my gallant grooms from trusting
themselves on horseback; but they proved more useful in breaking in
the animals to draw the light cart. One would ride whilst the other
drove, and their nautical phrases, and seaman-like style of steering
the craft, as they called it, excited the admiration of the
neighbourhood. But they never could bring themselves to like the
employment of tending horses; and finding that I insisted upon their
making themselves useful in this way, they at last gave me up, and
volunteered as part of the crew of a vessel about to sail for

Long after this period I drove the dog-cart over the hills to York
races. My brother had come down to Perth, and we went together,
taking with us our friend the amiable and talented editor of one of
the Perth journals. Attaching another horse to an outrigger, we
drove unicorn, or a team of three.

It was a splendid October morning, (the commencement of summer,) and
we rattled over the long and handsome wooden bridges that cross the
two streams of the Swan, at a spanking pace, whilst the worthy
editor, exulting in his temporary emancipation from office, made the
wooded banks of the river ring again with the joyous notes of his

Half an hour carried us over five miles of road, and brought us to
Mangonah, the beautifully situated dwelling of R. W. Nash, Esq.,
barrister at law, the most active-minded and public-spirited man in
the colony. After a short delay, to laugh at one of our friend's
last coined and most facetious anecdotes, and also to visit his
botanical garden, we rattled off again to Guildford; a scattered
hamlet that was made acquainted with our approach by loud strains
from the editor's bugle. Here, however, we paused not, but proceeded
along a hard and good road towards Green Mount, the first hill which
we had to ascend. Green Mount, six miles from Guildford, is famous
for a desperate skirmish which took place some years ago between a
large body of natives and Messrs. Bland and Souper, at the head of a
party escorting provisions from Perth to the infant settlement at
York. Whilst slowly ascending the hill, a thick flight of spears
fell among the party, wounding several of them. No enemy was
visible, and the greatest consternation prevailed among the men, who
hastened to shelter themselves under the carts. This induced the
natives to rush out of their ambush, when they were received with a
shower of balls; and at length driven back, after losing a good many
men. Mr. Souper had several spears sticking in his body, and others
of the English were severely wounded, but none mortally.

The natives are very tenacious of life, and so are all the birds and
animals indigenous to the country.

The natives often have spears thrust completely through their bodies,
and without any serious injury, receive wounds that would prove
mortal to the whites. A vagabond who had speared one of those noble
rams of ours, of whom honourable mention has been already made, was
shot by our shepherd whilst in the act of decamping with the carcase.
The ball passed completely through his lungs, and would have made an
end of any white man; but the native recovered in the course of a few
days, and walked a hundred miles heavily ironed, to take his trial
for sheep-stealing at the Quarter Sessions.

From Guildford to the foot of Green Mount, the country presents a
vast plain of cold clayey soil, unfit for cultivation, and though
covered with scrub, affording very little useful herbage.

On ascending the hill, we come upon what is generally called the
iron-stone range, which extends nearly to York, a distance of forty
miles. These extensive hills (about fifteen hundred feet above the
level of the sea) are composed almost entirely of granite rocks, with
occasional tracts of quartz; and the surface is generally strewn over
with a hard loose rubble.

Although the sides and summits of the hills present scarcely any
appearance of soil, vast forests of large Jarra trees, and other
varieties of the eucalyptus, extend in every direction; and flowers
the most beautiful relieve the sombre appearance of the ground. Some
few of the valleys afford a few acres of alluvial soil; and in the
first of these, called Mahogany Creek, six miles from Green Mount, we
found a comfortable way-side house, with good out-buildings, and
other accommodations; and here we halted to lunch, and bait our

Many other individuals, bent upon the same journey as ourselves, were
lounging and smoking before the house, or partaking of the
refreshments. Most were travelling on horseback; some in gigs, and
some in light spring-carts. A famous round of cold beef, with
bottled ale and porter, proved extremely agreeable after our drive.

In the afternoon we proceeded fifteen miles farther, to the half-way
house, where on my first arrival in the colony I had been initiated
into the art of cooking a saddle of kangaroo, and serving it up with
mint-sauce. The road, through a dense forest of evergreen trees, is
excessively dreary, and the quarters for the night were never very
satisfactory; but the traveller might always look forward to a
comfortable sitting-room, kangaroo steaks and pork, with plenty of
fresh eggs and good bread. Since that time the house has been given
up by the energetic landlord; and the Local Government is partly
responsible for the loss of this accommodation, in consequence of
having insisted upon a heavy license being annually taken out. In
good times, when the farm-settlers of the York and Northam districts
brought their wool and other produce down this road to the capital,
they invariably spent a merry evening at the half-way house; but
since money has become scarcer in the colony, they have been
compelled to avoid this place of entertainment, and kindle instead a
fire by the road-side, where they spend their evenings in solitary
meditation, to the advantage doubtless of their minds and purses. In
the morning, full of philosophical thoughts and fried rashers of
pork, they calmly yoke their bullocks to the wain, unafflicted by
those pangs which were often the only acknowledgment rendered to the
hospitality of Mr. Smith -- pangs of mental remorse and a bilious
stomach. And yet the worthy host never suffered a guest whom he
respected to depart without administering to him what he called "a
doctor" -- of which, about five o'clock in the morning, the poor man
usually felt himself much in need; and at that hour, as Aurora
entered at the window, would mine host (equally rosy-cheeked) enter
by the door, and deliver his matutinal salutation. This "doctor," a
character universally esteemed by travellers in those parts, was a
tumbler of milk fresh from the cow, tinctured with brandy.

The glory had not departed from the half-way house at the period to
which I refer; and as we drove up to the door, amid the liveliest
strains of the editorial bugle, our jovial host welcomed us with his
heartiest greeting. This spot is truly an oasis in the desert,
affording a few acres of tolerable land, and some excellent
garden-ground which, in the season, produces abundance of grapes,
peaches, apples, figs, and various kinds of vegetables. A deep brook
runs at the bottom of the garden which is very well watered; and on
its margin, in the midst of a green plot, protected by palings from
rude encroachment, is the quiet grave of one of Mr. Smith's children.
How different looks the solitary grave of the desert from the crowded
churchyards of England! How much more home it comes to the heart!
Across the brook is a large barley-field, and down the valley are
several other inclosures; all around, beyond these, is the dark,
melancholy, illimitable forest. At one end of the house, which is of
goodly size, stands a huge erection of wood, resembling a gallows,
from which are suspended the bodies of three kangaroos. Not far from
this, a group of natives -- men, women, and children -- are squatted
round a small fire, eating baked opossums, and chattering, and
uttering shrill screams of laughter, with all their might. Half a
dozen large kangaroo dogs are hanging about this group with wistful
eyes, but evidently without any expectations of obtaining a morsel.

The house, being filled with people on their way to the races,
resounded all the evening with jokes and merriment; and when the
well-disposed retired to bed, and flattered themselves they were just
sinking into repose, a mob of their evil-minded friends, headed by an
Irish barrister and the usually sedate Crown Solicitor, beat down the
door, and pulled them forth again. Then were the four walls of the
room (which contained four beds) made witnesses to a scene exhibiting
all the horrors of war. Dreadful was the conflict: bolsters and
carpet-bags were wielded with fierce animosity; pillows and rolled-up
blankets flew about the room like cannon-shot; and long was the
contest doubtful, until the despair of the besieged at length
overcame the impetuosity of the assailants, and succeeded in driving
them from the apartment.

The half-way house was often so crowded that some of the guests had
to sleep upon the dining-table, the sofas, and the floor. At early
dawn it was usually cleared of its visitors, who would push on to
breakfast at Mahogany Creek; or if going to York, at St. Roman's
Well, distant some fifteen miles. It was here that we breakfasted,
sitting upon the grass, whilst with our camp-kettle we boiled our
chocolate, and enjoyed our morning meal exceedingly.

York is a scattered hamlet of good farm-houses. The country is
highly interesting. A lofty hill, or mountain, called Mount Bakewell,
confines the view on one side, and below it is the river Avon, a
broad stream in winter, but in summer consisting only of deep pools
in various parts of its course. The neighbourhood is beautifully
wooded, and has the appearance of a park. In the centre of the
hamlet a modest-looking, white-washed church "rears its meek fane."
Nothing could be more peaceful and serene than the whole aspect of
the place.

At my brother's farm, comprising 4,000 acres, the property of R. H.
Bland, Esq., Protector of Natives, we found a hearty reception, and a
very pleasant dwelling-house. For several days it was filled with
young men who had come from various parts of the colony to attend the

These gentlemen were most of them young men of good family, and well
educated, who having only a small patrimony, and having been brought
up to no trade or profession, had come out to a colony in the hope of
acquiring landed estates, and of founding in this part of the world a
family of their own. In the meantime they had to drive their teams,
shear their sheep, thresh their corn, and exhibit their skill in
husbandry; whilst their houses were as ill arranged and uncomfortable
as could be expected from the superintendence of bachelors who
thought more of their stables than of the appearance of their rooms.
They care more about good horses than good cooks, and in most cases
prefer doing without kitchen stuff rather than be troubled with a

Freedom of discourse and ease of manner characterize the social
meetings of our bachelor aristocracy "over the hills."

Dinner is only to be obtained by dint of incessant shouting to the
slave (frequently an Indian Coolie) who presides in the detached
kitchen, and brings in the viands as fast as he "dishes up." The
roast mutton gradually cools upon the table while Mooto is
deliberately forking the potatoes out of the pot, and muttering
curses against his master, who stands at the parlour-door, swearing
he will wring his ears off if he does not despatch. In order to
moderate the anguish of stomach experienced by the guests, the host
endeavours to fill up the time by sending the sherry round. The
dinner is at length placed upon the table, and Mooto scuffles out of
the room whilst his master is busy carving, lest he should be
compelled to wait, an occupation less agreeable than that to which he
returns, and which engages most of his time -- sitting on an upturned
box before the fire, and smoking his pipe. Here, piously thanking
Vishnu and Brama for such good tobacco, he puffs away, heedless of
the shouts of his suzerain, who has just discovered there are only
eight plates for twelve people. One of the guests volunteers a foray
into Mooto's territory, chiefly for the sake of relieving his own
feelings by making that worthy acquainted with the opinion he
entertains of him, and returns to his seat with cold plates and a
tranquillized mind.

When the villain lacquey has smoked his pipe, he brings in the
cheese, and clears away. No unnecessary feelings of delicacy
restrain the guests from reviling him seriatim as he removes the
platters; and he retires to his own den and the enjoyment of a pound
of boiled rice with undisturbed equanimity, leaving the others to
boil the kettle and concoct egg-flip, which, together with wine,
brandy, cigars, and pipes, enables the party to get through the
afternoon. Some remain at the table, drinking out of wine-glasses,
tumblers, or pannikins (every vessel which the house contains being
put in requisition), and talking loudly about their horses, or making
bets for the next day's races; others having thrown off their coats,
and flung their persons upon a sofa, with their feet on a
window-sill, puff away in meditative silence, only joining
occasionally in the conversation; whilst two or three walk up and
down the verandah, in solemn consultation as to the best mode of
hedging, having unhappily backed a colt for the Margaux Cup that
turns out to be a dunghill.

I trust my good friends over the hills will not think I am making an
ungrateful return for much hospitality by this rough and imperfect
sketch. Heaven knows they are a worthy, kind-hearted, hospitable set
of good fellows as ever drew a cork or made egg-flip; but I must say
some of the bachelor establishments are rather in a rude and
primitive state at present.

Those houses which are fortunate enough to possess a presiding genius
in the gentle and attractive form of Woman are very differently
ordered. English neatness and English comforts pervade the
establishment, and the manners and customs of well-regulated society
are never forgotten.

It is a pleasant sight in the evening to watch the cattle driven into
the stock-yard by the native boy, who has been with them all day in
the bush. Some of the old cows go steadily enough in the right
direction, but others, and especially the young heifers, are
continually bunting one another, and trying to push their next
neighbours into the ditch. Several, tempted by a pleasant field of
barley, have leapt over a broken rail, and are eating and trampling
down all before them. But soon they are perceived by the dusky
herdsman, who incontinently shrieks like one possessed by demons, and
rushing after the stray kine with a bough hastily picked up, chases
and belabours them up and down the field (the gate of which he has
never thought of opening), until he has done as much mischief as
possible to the crop. Somebody then opens the gate for him, and the
cattle are at length secured in the yard.

Next arrives a flock of two thousand sheep, driven by white
shepherds. On coming to the entrance of the fold-yard, they stop and
hesitate, refusing to enter. All is uncertainty and confusion, the
rearmost urged forward by the shout of the men and the barking of the
dogs, who run from side to side, thrusting their noses into the soft
white fleeces, press into the mass; great is the scuffle, the rush,
and the pattering of feet over the loose pebbles of the yard. At
length, a hardy and determined ram in the vanguard gives a leap of
ten feet through the open gateway, and the others hustle through
after him, every one leaping as he had done, and all congratulating
themselves on having thus cleverly eluded the designs of some unseen

I do not intend to give an account of the races, though they afforded
more amusement probably than is common at Epsom or Ascot. Every one
knew everybody and everybody's horse; and as the horses were
generally ridden by gentlemen, there was no doubt of fair play.
There was an accident, as usual, in the hurdle-race; but not being
fatal, it did not interrupt the sports. Large groups of the natives,
sitting on the ground, or standing leaning on their spears, gave
increased effect to the picturesque scenery. Some clumps of
forest-trees still occupied the centre of the course, and through
these you caught glimpses of coloured jackets and jockey-caps as they
flashed by. The green side of Mount Bakewell was spotted with sheep,
and above them frowned a forest of dark trees.

A loaf of bread stuck upon a spear was a mark and a prize for native
dexterity. The dusky savages forming a line in front, and clustering
eagerly upon one another behind, took their turns to throw at the
coveted target; and every time that a spear left the womera, or
throwing-stick, and missed the mark, a shrill yell burst
simultaneously from the mass, relieving the excitement which had been
pent up in every breast. But when a successful spear struck down the
loaf, trebly wild and shrill was the yell that rent the air.

The York and Northam districts afford a vast quantity of land
suitable for all kinds of grain. The sheep and cattle runs are
excellent, but they are now fully stocked, and new settlers must
direct their steps to the southward, the Dale and Hotham districts
affording scope and verge enough for many a flock and herd. Our own
sheep were generally kept at a squatting station on the Hotham, some
sixty or seventy miles south of York. Thither, after the races, we
drove to inspect the flock. There was no road, and only an endless
succession of trees, and of gently rising and falling country. How
my brother and his men used to manage to hit upon the site of the
location is more than I can conjecture. People accustomed to the
bush seem to acquire, like the natives, the faculty of knowing
exactly the direction, position, and distance of the spot they want
to reach.

On the way, we fell in with one of those extraordinary nests
constructed by that singular bird called by the natives the Now. Mr.
Gould's description of a similar bird in New South Wales, the Brush
Turkey 'Talegalla Lathami' does not exactly tally with that which we
should give of the Now. His description is as follows: -- "For some
weeks previous to laying its eggs, the Brush turkey collects together
an immense mass of vegetable matter, varying from two to four
cart-loads, with which it forms a pyramidal heap; in this heap it
plants its eggs about eighteen inches deep, and from nine to twelve
inches apart. The eggs are always placed with the large ends
upwards, being carefully covered, and are then left to hatch by the
heat engendered by the decomposition of the surrounding matter. The
heaps are formed by the labours of several pairs of birds. The eggs
are white, about three inches and three quarters long by two and a
half in diameter, and have an excellent flavour."

Of this bird, Professor Owen observes, "On comparing the osteology of
the 'Talegalla' with that of other birds, it exhibits all the
essential modifications which characterize the gallinaceous tribe;
and among the Rasores, it most nearly resembles the genera Penelope
and Crax."

The Now of Western Australia does not build its nest of vegetable
substances, but collects together an immense heap of earth, sand, and
small stones, into the form of a broad cone, four or five feet high
in the centre, and about ten feet across. Directly in the centre it
either leaves or subsequently hollows out a hole large enough to
admit itself, into which it descends and deposits its eggs. The
powerful summer sun heats the earth sufficiently to hatch the eggs,
and the young birds come forth active and able to provide for
themselves. Not the least astonishing part to me is, how they manage
to scramble out of that deep hole. The natives declare that the hen
frequently visits the nest, and watches the progress of incubation,
and then when the young ones are hatched, they get upon her back, and
she scrambles out with her family about her.

This bird is about the size of a pheasant, has long legs, and a very
deep breast-bone. It runs fast. Each nest is supposed to be built
by a single bird, but it is believed that other birds may occupy them
in succeeding seasons.

In the afternoon of the second day after leaving York, we descended
into a broad valley, abounding with grass and scattered gum-trees. A
large flock of sheep were being driven towards the bottom of the
valley, where we could discern signs of human habitation.

On arriving, we found a hut built of piles or stakes interwoven with
boughs, before the door of which was a fire with a large pot upon it,
from which a powerful steam arose that was evidently very grateful to
a group of natives seated around. Two families seemed to compose
this group, consisting of a couple of men, four women, and five or
six children of various ages. As we drew nigh, the whole party,
without rising, uttered a wild scream of welcome, accompanied by that
loud laughter which always seems to escape so readily from this
light-hearted and empty-headed people.

On descending from the vehicle, and looking in at the hut door, we
perceived lying in his shirt-sleeves on a couch composed of
grass-tree tops covered with blankets and a rug made of opossum
skins, the illustrious Meliboeus himself, with a short black pipe in
his mouth, and a handsome edition of "Lalla Rookh" in his hand.
Perceiving us, he jumped up, and expressing his loud surprise,
welcomed us to this rustic Castle of Indolence.

When a large flock of sheep is sent into the bush, and a squatting
station is formed, the shepherds take the sheep out to pasture every
morning, and bring them home at night, whilst one of the party always
remains at the station to protect the provisions from being stolen by
the natives. This person is called the hut-keeper. His duty is to
boil the pork, or kangaroo flesh, and provide supper, etc., for the
shepherds on their return at night. Meliboeus, who superintended
this station, undertook the duties of cooking and guarding the hut
whenever he did not feel disposed to go out kangaroo-hunting, or
shooting wild turkeys or cockatoos. In all things, sports or
labours, the natives were his daily assistants, and in return for
their services were rewarded with the fore-quarters of the kangaroos
killed, and occasionally with a pound or two of flour. There were
some noble dogs at the station, descendants of Jezebel and Nero; and
my brother had a young kangaroo, which hopped in and out with the
utmost confidence, coming up to any one who happened to be eating,
and insisting upon having pieces of bread given to it. Full of fun
and spirits, it would sport about as playfully as a kitten; and it
was very amusing to see how it would tease the dogs, pulling them
about with its sharp claws, and trying to roll them over on the
ground. The dogs, who were in the daily habit of killing kangaroos,
never attempted to bite Minny, who sometimes teased them so heartily,
that they would put their tails between their legs and fairly run

The great enemies of the sheep in the Australian colonies are the
wild-dogs. At York, and in the other settled districts, they are
very troublesome, and require the shepherd to keep a constant
lookout. We were therefore much surprised to learn that although
wild dogs abounded near this squatting station, they never attempted
to touch our flocks. A sheep was to them a new animal; they had yet
to learn the value of mutton. A cowardly race, they are easily
intimidated, and as they have not the art of jumping or clambering
over a fence, a low sheep-fold will keep them out, provided they
cannot force their way under the palings or hurdles. They cannot
bark, and utter only a melancholy howl. The bitch generally litters
in a hollow tree, and produces four or five puppies at a birth.

The production of wool -- the careful acquisition of a good flock of
well-bred sheep, and the attainment of the highest degree of
perfection in preparing the fleeces for the English market -- appears
to us to be the proper ambition of an emigrant to the Australian
colonies. When ill-health compelled my steps hither, it was the
intention of myself and brothers to invest our capital entirely in
sheep; and retiring into the bush for some six or seven years,
gradually accumulate a large flock, the produce of which would soon
have afforded a handsome income. It has never, however, appeared to
be the object of either the Home Government or the Local Government
of any colony (though unquestionably the interest of both) to
encourage emigration. Settlers have invariably every possible
difficulty thrown in their way. On arriving in this colony, we found
to our astonishment that squatting was illegal, and that we would not
be allowed, as we had designed to carry our goods into the interior
and form a station upon Government land. No license could at that
time be obtained, and if we bought the smallest section allowed to be
sold, which was 640 acres, for as many pounds, it was ten to one but
we should soon find the district in which it was situated
insufficient for the run of a large flock, and should have to change
our quarters again. The consequence was, that we were compelled to
abandon our project: my brothers took a farm at a high rent, and
wasted their capital upon objects that could never bring in a good
return; whilst I (infelix!), instead of listening to the gentle
bleatings of sheep, and ministering to the early comforts of innocent
lambs, have been compelled to hearken to the angry altercations of
plaintiff and defendant, and decide upon the amount of damages due to
injured innocence when the pot had insulted the kettle.

Now, however, limited licenses are granted to persons wishing to go
as squatters upon Government land; and even before these were issued,
we were OBLIGED to send our sheep upon Crown lands, and form a
station, for want of room in the settled districts.

Sheep flocks constitute doubtlessly one of the most profitable
investments for the employment of capital, notwithstanding the many
obstacles and discouragements still thrown by both governments in the
way of the wool-grower. They yield a very large return TO THOSE WHO
ATTEND TO THEM IN PERSON, and who confine their attention entirely to
that pursuit, growing only corn enough for their own consumption.



May 10th. -- Felt rather lonely to-day, in the midst of this endless
solitude. Sat before the hut-door thinking of Zimmerman and his
Reflections. Also thought of Brasenose, Oxford, and my narrow escape
from Euclid and Greek plays. Davus sum, non Oedipus. Set to work,
and cooked a kangaroo stew for the three shepherds.

June 4th. -- We have removed the sheep from the Dale to the Avon. We
go wandering about with our flocks and baggage like the Israelites of
old, from one patch of good grass to another. I wonder how long it
will be before we make our fortunes?

28th. -- K. arrived from York with a supply of flour, pork, tea and
sugar. Brings no news from England, or anywhere else. Where the
deuce are all the ships gone to, that we get no letters? Moved the
station to Corbeding.

29th. -- K. returned to York with his bullock-cart. No chance of my
being relieved at present. Went out by myself kangarooing. The pup,
Hector, out of Jezebel, will make a splendid dog. First kangaroo
fought like a devil; Hector, fearing nothing, dashed at him, and got
a severe wound in the throat; but returned to the charge, after
looking on for a few moments. Crossed an immense grassy plain, eight
or nine miles wide, without a tree upon it. Had to carry a kangaroo
more than five miles on my back. Wished it at Hanover, and twice
abandoned it, but returned for it again, being so much in want of
fresh meat.

30th. -- Spent the day in dreary solitude in the hut. All my books
have been read, re-read, and re-re-read.

July 1st. -- Went out with the dogs, and caught three kangaroos.
Passed over some splendid country -- wish it were peopled with white
humans. How pleasant to have been able to call at a cottage, and get
a draught of home-brewed! On the contrary, could not find even a
pond, or a pint of water, and was nearly worried to death by

2d. -- Some scabby sheep having got among our flock, have played the
deuce with it. The scab has regularly broke out. I had rather it
were the plague or Asiatic cholera, and cleared them all off (my own
sheep are fortunately at York). Dressing lambs all morning --
beastly work. In the afternoon went out with the sheep, and left
James to mind the hut. Sand-flies infernal.

3d, Sunday. -- Stayed in the hut all day. Smoked sheep-tobacco,* all
my Turkish being finished. Felt pious, and wrote a short sermon,
choosing the text at random -- Jeremiah ii. 7: "And I brought you
into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof and the goodness
thereof." Read it at night to the shepherds. James said it was

[footnote] *Coarse pig-tail, used as a decoction for dressing the
diseased sheep.

4th. -- Went out kangarooing. Killed an immense fellow: when
standing on his hind legs fighting with me and the dogs, he was a
foot higher than myself. He ran at me, and nearly gave me a
desperate dig with his claw, which tore my only good hunting-shirt
miserably. Smashed his skull for it.

5th and 6th. -- Dressing sheep all day. Out [band of] York natives,
whom we have hitherto kept with us, are all gone home again, leaving
me and my three men, with only two guns, among a suspicious and
treacherous tribe that cannot understand a word we say to them. Wish
my brothers would come and look after their own sheep. It would do
E.'s health more good than sitting in Court, hearing a set of fools
jabber. Sand-flies eat us alive here, and the mosquitoes polish our

7th. -- Muston and myself dressed fifty sheep to-day. John out with
part of the flock.

8th. -- Heavy rain last night. Cannot go on dressing. Did nothing all day.

9th. -- Stayed in the hut doing nothing.

10th, Sunday. -- Ditto.

11th. -- Tired of doing nothing. Dressed sheep most of the day.
Muston out kangarooing; caught three.

12th. -- Cooking. Made a "sea-pie," which was generally admired.

August 1st. -- The Doctor arrived from York, driving tandem in E.'s
trap. He has brought me a parcel of books just come from England.
Blessings on my dear sister for remembering me. I thought myself
forgotten by all the world. Sisters (Heaven for ever bless them!)
are the only people that never forget. News from home! How many
thoughts come flooding upon me!

2d. -- Last night, I confess, I cried myself to sleep, like a great
big baby. I am very comfortable and contented so long as I receive
no letter from home; and yet I am such a fool as to wish for them;
and when they come I am made miserable for a week afterwards.
Somehow, they make me feel my loneliness more. I feel deserted,
forgotten by all but ONE. She says she is constantly wishing for me


Back to Full Books