An Australian Parsonage/Chapter XIII

CHAPTER XIII.

Names upon shore-line of West Australia in three different languages—Legend of Great Java—Spanish admiral invents name of Australia—Pioneers of West Australia exclusively Dutch—Discovery of Swan River—Finding of inscription on Dirk Hartog's Island—Dampier's shark—M. de Bougainville—Reasons of Admiral D'Entrecasteax's voyage being undertaken—Captain Baudin's ideas about names—Tale invented by colonial John Bull—Naturalists lose their way—Captain Baudin's inhumanity—Pewter plate carried to Paris—Captain Stirling sails to Swan River—His favourable reports of it—Cockburn Sound—Garden Island—Plans for colonization—No convicts to be admitted—Large grants of land—Deplorable condition of first immigrants—Scurvy—Early cutting of cabbages—Governor Stirling's activity—Unsuitability of goods and furniture—Travelling carriages turned to good account—Deal packing-cases found useful—Harp re-shipped—Tents blow loose in windy weather—Boys fasten ropes—Vessel on sand-bank—Boat capsized—Merits of twins not recognized by Colonial Government—Australind projected—Repetition of disappointment—Western Australia acquires a bad name—Discovery of mineral districts.

Anyone who looks at a map of Western Australia cannot fail to observe that the names upon its shore-line belong to three different languages. French, Dutch, and English names occur amongst the appellations of its capes, bays, and headlands, and, like the bricks in the chimney built by Jack Cade's father, "testify" to the nationality of the adventurous seamen who at distant intervals surveyed the coast. There seems, however, to be a probability that the existence of Australia was first surmised by the Portuguese, who established colonies in India and the Spice Islands at a very early period, and a story goes that one John Rotz, of the Portuguese service, dedicated a hydrographic map to the king of England in 1542, wherein a portion of the austral continent was delineated under the name of Great Java. Whatever foundation there may be for this anecdote, it is nevertheless certain that Australia virtually remained an unknown and mysterious territory until the beginning of the seventeenth century, when Dutch and Spaniards began to press hard on each other's heels in the task of unveiling it, and the latter not only carried off the chief honours of discovery, but also published the earliest accounts of the "great south land" which can be considered authentic.

The name itself of Australia, which Flinders suggested should be applied collectively to the whole of the continent, was first invented by the Spanish admiral Quiròs as the designation of that part of it which he discovered in the year 1608. The earliest pioneers of Western Australia, however, seem to have been exclusively Dutch, for its entire seaboard is in old maps parcelled out into separate "lands," each of which bears the name of a Dutchman or of his ship. Tasman's Land, De Witt's Land, Endracht's Land, Edel's Land, the Land of Lyons (or Leeuwin), and Nuyt's Land encircled what is now called Western Australia in a connected chain from its northern boundary to its extreme south-east limit, each link having had a geographical existence before the middle of the seventeenth century whilst as yet people made voyages of discovery without chronometers, and in vessels that were sometimes not many sizes bigger than a modern coastguard cutter.

The river Swan became known to Europeans under the auspices of a Dutch commander, named William Vlaming, who, when cruising off Edel's Land, discovered, upon the 3rd of January 1697, the mouth of a stream much frequented by black swans, and an adjacent island that swarmed with kangaroo rats. Vlaming bestowed upon the island the appropriate name of Rottnest, or the "rat's nest," and christened the stream the Black Swan River, but the river has long since moulted the first portion of the adjective, and the birds that once haunted its waters have also much withdrawn themselves from observation.

Proceeding northwards, and coasting along Endracht's Land, Vlaming landed upon an island called after Dirk Hartog, at the entrance of Shark's Bay, and had the good hap to find a written memorial which Dirk Hartog himself had left there eighty-one years previously. A pewter plate nailed to a tree bore an inscription to the effect that the ship 'Endracht,' of Amsterdam, had arrived at that island on the 25th of October, 1616: Captain Dirk Hartog: and that she had sailed two days afterwards for Bantam. Vlaming replaced the pewter document after appending a second inscription, recording his own arrival at that spot in the ship 'Geelvint,' on the 4th of February, 1697, and he is also said to have deposited similar memorials of his progress along the coast at different places on the mainland; but unfortunately none of them have ever yet come to light.

By the early part of the eighteenth century Dutch curiosity seems to have been lulled concerning New Holland, (as the States-General had decreed in 1665 that their discoveries in Australia should be henceforth collectively called,) or satisfied that it offered little to reward further investigation. No Dutch settlement crowned the patient labour which the maritime sons of Holland had spent in exploring the Australian coast, nor do they ever seem to have reaped any advantage from the discovery of it. A few mutineers were set ashore in the year 1629, by one Francis Pelsart, in what would be now called the district of Champion Bay, but nothing was ever known of their subsequent fate.

The time was approaching for the introduction of French and English names on the coast-line of West Australia, and as far as I can ascertain the first English name that ever appeared there was that of Dampier, the whilom buccaneer, who was deputed by the British Government to conduct a voyage of discovery to the South Seas in the reign of William III., and who gave his own name to a cluster of little islands, called Dampier's Archipelago, that stud the coast near the sheep-farming settlement of Nichol Bay.

Shark's Bay, which lies considerably to the south of Dampier's Archipelago, does not appear to have received its descriptive name without good reason. In this bay Dampier makes mention of having caught a shark that measured eleven feet in length "with a maw like a leather sack, very thick, and so tough that a sharp knife could scarce cut it." Nor was the sack empty, and its contents, if Dampier was not mistaken in them, proved that the shark hailed from a distant port, and had wisely taken plenty of victuals on board before commencing a long voyage. The provender consisted of "the head and bones of a hippopotamus, the hairy lips of which were still sound,"—"the jaw was also firm, out of which we plucked a great many teeth, two of them eight inches long, and as big as a man's thumb." Dampier's roaming life must have furnished him with opportunity, one would think, of knowing a hippopotamus when he saw one, but it is difficult to imagine that he judged correctly in this instance, as the hippopotamus is nowhere to be found on the scantily-watered continent of Australia. But it must not be supposed that the marine productions of Shark's Bay are confined to the hideous fish from which it takes its name, conchologists being indebted to it for very beautiful shells which are gathered on the beach.

No Frenchman came to reconnoitre West Australia until the early part of George the Third's reign, when there appeared one of great note, no less a personage than M. de Bougainville, who had rendered important assistance to the Marquis de Montcalm in defending Canada against the English, and whose intention to have supplied the garrison of Quebec with provisions, on the night that Wolfe ascended the heights of Abraham, ran within a hair's breadth of frustrating that exploit, and had nearly deprived England of one of her brightest historical pages. M. de Bougainville subsequently exchanged a soldier's life for a sailor's, and signalized himself as the first Frenchman who ever made a voyage round the world. Cape Bougainville and Cape Voltaire are two long narrow-necked promontories on either side of Admiralty Gulf in the north of West Australia—a part which at present is only resorted to by pearl-fishers.

The next visit that Western Australia received from the French was remarkable on two accounts, being due not only to one of the last acts which the unfortunate Louis the Sixteenth exercised as a sovereign, but also to the unusual circumstance of a resolution passed by the National Assembly with a humane purpose for its object. The painful uncertainty which had been felt in France concerning the fate of M. de la Pérouse and his ships 'La Boussole' and 'L' Astrolabe,' induced the National Assembly to request that the king should order his ministers and consuls, residing in different countries, to set on foot all possible inquiries with a view of ascertaining whether that commander, or any of his men, might yet be living, as shipwrecked mariners, on some distant island of the South Seas. It was also suggested that the king should offer suitable rewards to all navigators, of any nation whatsoever, who should procure tidings of the fate of M. de la Pérouse, and that two French ships should be fitted out with the double purpose of searching for the missing crews, and of extending scientific and geographical knowledge. Accordingly the frigates 'La Recherche' and 'L'Esperance' were equipped at Brest, and the Admiral D'Entrecasteaux received the command of the expedition which, in the words of the poor king,[1] "présentait une occasion de perfectionner la description du globe, at d'accroítre les connaissances humaines."

The admiral failed in bringing to light the fate of M. de la Pérouse, but his geographical surveyor, M. Beautems Beaupré, made such an accurate chart of Western Australia from Cape Leeuwin as far as 132° east of Greenwich, that Flinders, in speaking of it, says that the advantages to geography from his own subsequent survey of that portion of the coasts "would consist, not in correcting what M. Beautems Beaupré had laid down, but in confirming and adding to the information before obtained."

The south-west headland of Western Australia, and a bay in the south of the colony, are respectively called Espérance Bay and Point D'Entrecasteaux; King George's Sound, which lies between the two, had been discovered by Vancouver about a year before the French admiral's visit.

Bishop Salvado supposes that Admiral D'Entrecasteaux had perhaps intended to have secured this part of Australia as a French possession; but, however that may have been, he did not live to carry back any account of it, and the expedition which he conducted may itself be said to have made no return voyage. The news of the massacre of Louis the Sixteenth and of the overturn of the French monarchy reached the crews of 'La Recherche' and 'L'Espérance' at a Dutch settlement in Java, subsequently to the death of their admiral, whereupon officers and men divided themselves into republican and royalist parties, the frigates were dismantled, and the voyage was declared to be at an end.[2]

The French still continued, however, to buzz like bees about the shore-line of West Australia, and a perfect shower of Gallic appellations fell upon it during the voyages of two corvettes, 'Le Géographe' and 'Le Naturaliste,' which sailed from France in 1800 under command of Captain Baudin. A previous application had been made to Mr. Pitt for the necessary passports,[3] "pour mettre le Capitaine Baudin à l'abri de toute attaque hostile, et lui procurer une réception favorable dans les établissemens Britanniques où il pourra être obligé de relâcher momentanément," for in those days of war between France and England peaceful navigators of either country required letters of safe-conduct to protect them from hard usage in case of meeting their angry neighbours on the high seas, and to enable them to take refuge in each other's ports without risk of imprisonment.

The avowed object of Captain Baudin's expedition, when applying for the passports, was "to sail round the world for the furtherance of scientific research"; but he ended by merely circumnavigating Australia, and there can be no doubt that the real purpose of the voyage was that of 'espionnage' alone.

The prior discoveries of Flinders were appropriated by Captain Baudin without any scruple, and the two gulfs in South Australia, which had been named by the former Spencer and St. Vincent, were paraded in charts (published in Paris as the fruits of French enterprise) under the names of Golfe Bonaparte and Golfe Joséphine. In fact the French captain seems to have been under the impression that a navigator's first duty lay in the invention of a fresh set of names for other people's discoveries, and, amongst a host of similar performances, the name of North West Cape, otherwise Vlaming Head, in West Australia, was altered to that of Cape Murat, as a change for the better. However, as might have been expected, the new names soon fell away from the old localities, though wherever the coast of Swan River had not been previously explored it retains Captain Baudin's nomenclature to this day.

The bay on which the little town of Busselton is situated and its promontory are still called Géographe Bay and Cape Naturaliste, whilst Port Leschenault, near Bunbury, and Cape Péron, south of Perth, perpetuate the memory of two savans who accompanied the expedition. Cape Hamelin enshrines the name of the commander of the 'Naturaliste,' whose observation that the pearl-oyster flourishes on part of the West Australian coast in great quantities is now confirmed by the daily experience of many who make a livelihood in fishing for it.

Captain Hamelin also made an examination of the river of Black Swans, and was, perhaps, the mythical Frenchman of whom the settlers were fond of repeating a story that he had anchored at night, and had sailed away before daybreak in a panic caused by the croaking of the frogs in an adjacent swamp. The colonial John Bull was evidently at a loss for a laugh against his old enemy when he invented this canard, for otherwise he would surely have represented the French commander as having been cheered beyond measure by sounds which conveyed to himself and his crew an abundant promise of their favourite food.

M. Péron relates in his journal that he and two brother naturalists lost their way on one occasion when they landed for the purpose of searching for curiosities, and his description of what they endured from heat and thirst, and from the scorching sand, will be appreciated by all who are acquainted with West Australia, and with the narratives of those who have been similarly situated. The sight of some natives at a distance, of whom M. Péron and his friends wished to obtain a nearer view, had induced them to stray farther than they were at first aware of, and when they had succeeded with much difficulty in finding their way back to the sea, they perceived that their wanderings had placed a weary stretch of shore between themselves and their boat.

In order to make sure of not missing the way a second time the party determined to follow the windings of the beach, along which they toiled, laden with plants and shells, sometimes wading through the sea to avoid the reflected glare of the sun upon the white sand, and obliged at last to abandon a great part of the precious freight which they had procured at the expense of so much toil and danger, from sheer inability to carry the burden any farther.

By the time that the naturalists reached the boat, the sailors in charge of it had consumed the small supply of food and fresh water that they had brought with them, and the night was too much advanced to admit of an immediate return to the ship. On the morrow a thick fog increased the delay, none of the party, strange to say, being provided with a compass; and the poor curiosity-hunters had endured a fast of forty-four hours when they once again stepped on board 'Le Géographe,' in a state more dead than alive. M. Péron adds that Captain Baudin not only inexorably fined the officer of the boat in ten francs for each of the three guns fired the preceding evening as a signal for him to return, but also upbraided him for not having left the three unfortunate savans to their fate.

Before finally quitting Western Australia Captain Baudin touched at Dirk Hartog's Island, and found the ancient log half buried in the sand with the two inscriptions still legible, in spite of the hundred and eighty-six years which had passed since the writing of the first, and the hundred and five since the addition of the second. Perhaps the French captain thought that the non-destructive character of the climate had been sufficiently tested, for he bore away the interesting relic, and it is said to be now preserved at Paris. The northern point of Dirk Hartog's Island is still called Cape Inscription, though the object is removed that conferred the name upon it.

Between the years 1818 and 1822 Captain King examined the northern coast of Australia, accompanied by the naturalist Mr. Cunningham, both of whose names are preserved in West Australia in King Sound and Cunningham Point.

Bishop Salvado describes Captain King's survey as "a model of patience and precision," but he did not proceed southward, or make any investigation of Swan River proper, imagining that the French had already exhausted that subject. Many people, on the contrary, were of opinion that the French had performed their work in so slovenly a manner as to have added little or nothing to what the world had already known concerning Western Australia, and that a painstaking and laborious expedition might yet bring to light much useful information.

It so happened that Captain, afterwards Sir James Stirling, whilst in command of the 'Success' frigate, was ordered to New South Wales on a particular service, which he could not immediately carry into execution on account of the monsoon, and the Governor, Sir Ralph Darling, advised him to employ the intervening time in examining the western coast and in making up for French deficiencies.

Captain Stirling accordingly set sail, in company with Mr. Eraser a naturalist, rounded Cape Leeuwin on the 2nd of March, 1827, and, having anchored in Gage's Roads opposite the mouth of the Swan River, proceeded to inspect the country lying behind the sandy banks that skirt the coast. The scenery, which the French had slighted or with which they had, perhaps, made no acquaintance, possessed charms for the two Englishmen, and as they could not know by intuition that much of the verdure which they saw was composed of poisonous plants, they pronounced the country to be not only romantic, as indeed it is, but rich also.

If the French, however, had beheld Western Australia through a somewhat jaundiced medium when they stigmatized it as low, sandy, barren, and dreary; with little worthy of interest either in the animal, vegetable, or mineral creation; it must be confessed, on the other hand, that Captain Stirling and Mr. Fraser surveyed the same prospect through a haze, which was as much too roseate as that of their predecessors had been tinged with yellow.

It is difficult to imagine, in reading the accounts of Western Australia which were promulgated in England on Captain Stirling's return, that it is the same country as that which is described in the 'Voyage de Découvertes'; but an unfeeling captain, ill-provisioned ships, and a great mortality from scurvy, are unfavourable conditions for seeing anything in a cheerful light; beside which it does not seem clear that the French ever penetrated to any considerable distance from the shore.

The descriptive sketch which the English explorers wrote of the new land was filled up in highly-coloured detail by the imagination of their readers, and the bar at the entrance of the river Swan, which Captain Stirling ascertained to consist of four hundred and eighty yards of limestone, with four fathoms of water on either side, was expected to drop piecemeal before the progress of civilization. The 'Annual Register' of 1828 suggests that "when a town begins to spring up upon the banks of the Swan, and substantial buildings are required, the use of the bar as a stone-quarry for architectural purposes will go far to defray the cost of removing it."

The point upon which Captain Stirling's impressions appear to have been widest of the mark was in his supposing that Western Australia was abundantly supplied with fresh water; and his observation, that the tracing of a channel in the sand with the finger would be followed by trickling drops, can only be accounted for by an unusual quantity of rain having immediately preceded his arrival, and also by the winter of the year before having been immoderately wet. Experience has proved, however, that Captain Stirling's encomiums on the West Australian climate were not exaggerated, and that his judgment was also correct in pronouncing Cockburn Sound to be the best and safest anchorage in the vicinity of the river Swan.

Cockburn Sound lies a few miles westward of Fremantle between the mainland and Garden Island, which the French had named Buache, and the alteration of which to Garden is the only instance, I believe, of Captain Stirling having changed any of their denominations. Whilst the 'Success' lay off Swan River a garden had been made and fenced round upon Buache Island, and hence the alteration of the original name to one which English sailors would find more familiar. Two goats were left upon Garden Island when the 'Success' sailed away, and as I have heard that there are goats there to this day I conclude that they are descended from the original pair.

I must now hasten on to describe the causes that led to the colonization of Western Australia, and the manner in which it was conducted. According to a work entitled 'The Three Colonies of Australia,'[4] i.e. New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia, an impression prevailed, at the time of Captain Stirling's inspection of Swan River, that large fortunes, equal to those which had been already made in New South Wales, might be realized with even greater facility in a new colony unshackled with a convict population. Mr. Peel, a gentleman who had influence with Government, and who was also a cousin of the statesman, combined with certain Sydney merchants to found a colony of this experimental kind. A fitting locality was alone wanting, and the favourable reports which Captain Stirling had given of Western Australia induced Mr. Peel and the merchants to conceive that they should find in Swan River all the requisites that were necessary for the carrying out of their scheme.

"Geographical[5] reasons led the adventurers a temperate climate; further precise investigations as to the quality of the soil, extent of pastures, and character of the aborigines were considered unnecessary." An easy assent was obtained from Government to the proposals for making the new settlement, of which Captain Stirling was appointed the Governor, and thus the colony of Swan River (a name now associated with transportation only) commenced its first start by repudiating any admixture of convictism in its society.

The earliest colonists were chiefly composed of persons belonging to the middle and upper middle classes, whose prominent idea seemed to be that of founding a settlement of gentlemen, each of whom, it was arranged, should receive a grant of land in proportion to the number of labourers and the quantity of property that he carried out with him; the last condition being quite independent of what sort of property it was, whether such as would be of immediate use, or such as could only become useful by ingenious adaptation.

[6]"The official persons, from the Governor down to the humblest officers, were to be paid in land—were in fact, like the followers of the old feudal conquerors, to receive a territorial investment for the support of their official dignity. Thus the Governor had a hundred thousand acres set apart for him, whilst the humbler officers generally obtained about five thousand each. The colonists in general were to obtain land according to the means of emigration which they furnished, it being quite overlooked that those who took out free labourers could not compel them to work for their exporters, or even to remain in the colony."

Writers on colonial subjects have generally spared but little space for observations on Western Australia, but the disastrous landing of her first white inhabitants has not wanted chroniclers. The style of it was even more remarkable than that in which the first batch of convicts was tumbled ashore in New South Wales, when the finding of an experienced bricklayer amongst them was hailed as "a piece of unexpected good fortune,"[7] for in 1788 it was not the fashion, as it is now, to bestow much attention to the comforts of prisoners, whereas the immigration to Swan River was voluntary, its original colonists were of a superior grade, and the value of the property which was brought out by them in the first year alone, was of a very considerable amount.

"In 1829," says the 'Emigrant's Manual,'[8] "the stream of emigration began to set in upon the settlement. The first settlers arrived in June and July, the mid-winter of the antipodes. Many of them were people of considerable substance, and they brought with them, besides herds, flocks and agricultural implements, sundry articles of furniture, dresses and jewellery. The ships landed them with their property on the barren shore. There were no towns or dwellings, no store-houses; no one responsible for assisting the helpless emigrants, who landed like fugitives before a pursuing enemy. The allotments could not be found, for the land had not been surveyed, and those who had so many thousands of acres assigned to them might find their property where they could.

"Before the end of the year, twenty-five ships had reached the shore, with nearly a thousand emigrants, and property worth about fifty thousand pounds. Early in the ensuing year the number of settlers and the quantity of property landed were more than doubled. The tide poured in until there was time to communicate at home the disastrous reception of the settlers. Then indeed it of a necessity subsided, and people awaited with uneasy expectation for further news from the land of promise. The intelligence was distinct enough. The colony was just as if so many people had been shipwrecked, had been able to get ashore, and then depended on the chances of finding food, or of being picked up."

The system on which the distribution of the land was carried out, helped to complete the misfortunes of the settlement. The good land was of no great extent, and what there was of it fell into the hands of those who least knew how to turn it to account, whilst for respectable men of a lower class, to whom agriculture was not an unknown science, there were no allotments left but such as would not repay cultivation.

To fill up the list of disasters, many sheep died of "poison" before the mischievous plants could even be identified; a fine stud of thorough-bred horses is said to have perished for want of water, and the casualties to which live-stock was exposed were further increased by the native habit of spearing it whenever an opportunity presented itself; the apprenticed servants were disheartened and clamoured for the canceling of their indentures, and the gentlemen had to become day-labourers with insufficient bone and sinew as also a want of requisite knowledge for the task.

It was then that many turned their backs upon the colony, quitting it for Sydney, Tasmania, and the Cape, where they freely denounced Swan River as sterile, unhealthy, and what not, though had the charge of unhealthiness been well founded, none but the malcontent refugees would have survived to give any account of it. It is true that many of the first immigrants died of scurvy, but the wonder is that the deaths from this cause were not far more numerous. Salt meat, which had been the principal diet on board ship, continued to be the bill of fare for many a long day after landing, and the colonists could not, of course, obtain fresh vegetables until they had sowed and grown them for themselves.

"We lived at one place for nearly two years," said one of our acquaintances, "before we knew that the ground would bear cabbages," and, under these circumstances, it did not surprise us to hear that when these cabbages came up, which had been experimentally sown, they were cut whilst only in the second leaf. Nor was this early cutting merely resorted to in order to satisfy the natural craving for green food, but sometimes also on account of veritable hunger. The ground had to be surveyed and cleared before it could be either ploughed or sowed, and long before the colonists ceased to depend upon imported corn they had twice suffered from the misery of famine. In a word, the recital of the hardships which had been undegone in those days by all who resolved to stick by the colony, or who had not the means of leaving it, excited our admiration and pity; mixed with vexation that the same persons who had shown such brave endurance should have afterwards stooped to mend their condition by asking the Home Government for convicts.

Governor Stirling did all that was possible to be accomplished under the difficult circumstances. He sent to the Cape for corn, and bought up all private stores of flour amongst the immigrants at a fixed rate; he also paid a visit to England in 1832, for the purpose of laying before the Colonial Office the deplorable state of the settlement, and his return to Swan River in the following year infused fresh courage into the disheartened band, and animated all to new exertion.

If the want of common sense that characterized the colonization of Swan River had not caused so much ruin and misery, it would be difficult to contemplate the landing of its first immigrants from any point of view but that of the absurd. The sort of goods with which the ships were freighted would almost lead one to suppose that the passengers had expected to step from their floating homes to a row of ready-built handsome houses, in which they would have nothing to do but sit down and unpack the furniture which they had brought with them. Every appurtenance of civilized life that could encumber a colony at its outset littered the beach after the vessels were unladen. Thus, for a country that had neither roads nor inns, one or two travelling carriages had been provided—pianos, of course, were not forgotten, and I even heard of a harp being brought ashore, which my informant was careful to add "had a gold ball at the top."

I am bound to confess that the owners of the equipages turned them to good accont for they slept inside them after landing—pianos, too, were of use for the sake of their packing-cases in a country where the natural woods are so hard that a bit of soft deal is a great prize. But the line of utility, stretch and extend it how one would, could not be made to comprehend harps, and the instrument with its gold ball was re-shipped, and finally found a resting-place in the Isle of France.

The greater part of the immigrants bivouacked under tents, but many of them had not even the protection of canvas, and crept for shelter into the caves upon the seashore, in one of which I was told that a family had lived for a fortnight and that the mother lost the use of her limbs from rheumatism in consequence.

Winter in Swan River is a very windy time, and one of the annoyances of living in tents was the frequent necessity for running out in the middle of the night to secure such ropes as the wind had blown loose. The insecurity of the tents in the strong winter gales was a fact to which I often heard the older colonists allude as one of their miseries, suggesting to my mind that the piano, on which a lady assured me that she had been used to play whilst she lived under canvas, must have been very much out of tune.

One of the settlers, who had landed as a boy, told me that the duty of fastening the ropes of the family tent had devolved upon himself and his brother, and that on one especial night when they had to leave their beds on this service, they were rendered more wakeful than usual by the sound of signal guns from a ship in distress. The boys made their way to the beach, where, distinguishing nothing in the darkness excepting one person walking up and down alone who had been aroused by the firing, they thought it best to go back to bed. When morning broke a vessel with a fresh load of immigrants was observed to be grounded upon a sand-bank, with the waves beating heavily on her. The passengers and crew, however, were all rescued, although in nearing the shore a boatload of women and children was capsized in the surf. The boys, of course, were eager spectators of the affair, and a little girl who was fished out of the water eventually became the wife of one of them.

The failure of Swan River put a final end to the system of free grants of land in Australia; but either this fact was not universally known, or a supposition existed in Barladong that, in case of overwhelming merit, the practice might be revived of rewarding private individuals with Government fiefs.

Whatever the necessary pitch of deserving might be, a hard-working neighbour of ours, whose worldly wealth consisted of a little flock of some dozen or so of goats, deemed that he had reached the requisite climax on the morning that his wife presented him with twins. Perhaps he had dim recollections of clergymen at home duly advising their sovereign of the advent of three subjects born at a birth, and may have thought, not altogether unreasonably, that twins being somewhat of a similar phenomenon in Swan River, and free immigrants wanted there, a grateful Government might express its sense of the obligation he had conferred on it by endowing his progeny with a few acres.

He therefore waylaid us as we were riding past his mud dwelling, the road in front of which was littered with children and little kids sitting together in the dust, and begged my husband to draw up a petition for him to His Excellency, "praying him to bestow a small grant of land upon the two youngest members of the goatherd's family." My husband willingly undertook the task, and acquitted himself of it in a most moving manner, but the higher powers were not to be mollified, even by the merits of twins, and the case was rejected as one that justified no departure from existing rules.

The idea that West Australia might yet offer a valuable field for the investment of English capital was not quite effaced by the result of the disastrous programme for the colonizing of Swan River, and a plan for the formation of a second settlement was ushered into existence ten years later by some London speculators, who composed what was called the "Australind Company." The name of Australind which was bestowed on the new colony had, possibly, been chosen with a view of calling attention to the advantages of its geographical position, for, ever since the first settling of Swan River, West Australians have been reminding the Indian public that they are its near neighbours, and that their colonial air would greatly benefit the children of residents in Bengal.

The site of Australind was fixed at Leschenault Inlet, in a southern direction from Perth, and the persons who embarked their fortunes in the settlement were of the same class in society as the original immigrants to Swan River. But in spite of the experience which had been earned for the Australind settler by the mistakes and misfortunes of his forerunner, the same disappointments that befell the one also awaited the other, and apparently from causes that were very similar. It is true that the custom of excessive free grants had ceased to exist, and that the Australind immigrants were "located on sections of one hundred acres each,"[9] but there was a repetition of blighted expectations—of insufficiency of good land—of servants turning refractory—of masters being compelled to betake themselves to field labour, however unfitted they might have been by previous habits of life for such employment. In fact, it was the same old story of people in comfortable circumstances rushing blindfold into discomfort of every imaginable kind, without any succeeding compensation.

Even, the lesser details of the Australind settlement bore a strong resemblance to those of the landing of the Swan River immigrants, such, for instance, as people living in a tent for six months, and then being totally deprived of it in a windy night of July, and of a house door being made out of the packing-case of a piano.

Eventually the settlement collapsed and came to a comparatively quiet end, but its failure helped to fasten on the colony of Swan River more firmly than ever that worst of misfortunes, a bad name, and thenceforward the mention of Western Australia to English ears elicited no other response than a sigh or a silent shrug of the shoulders.

Had the discovery of the mineral districts preceded, instead of having followed, the settling of Australind, there can be little doubt that the "company" would have commenced mining operations amongst the rich veins of lead and copper at Champion Bay, in preference to collecting a few sheep and cattle farmers on the limited pastures of Leschenault Inlet.

The metal-bearing country was stated[10] in 1862 to occupy a space of between four and five thousand square miles, one-fourth of which was "known to contain extensive beds of copper and lead, and seams of coal, with silver, antimony, plumbago, and arsenic and iron in smaller quantities; minute specks of gold have also been found by washing the sands in the beds of some of the streams." The lead and copper workings which have been established have proved that the quality of both ores is very fine, but the same circumstances which have obstructed the development of the colony since its commencement, and prevented it from outgrowing its early disadvantages, have also hindered the owners of the mines from realizing any vast amount of profit, and what those circumstances arise from will be related in the following chapter.

  1. 'Voyage de D'Entrecasteaux envoyé à la Recherche de la Pérouse.' Rédigé par M. de Rossel. Paris, 808.
  2. M. de Rossel, the officer who succeeded to the command of the expedition after the death of Admiral D'Entrecasteaux, endeavoured to reach Europe in a Dutch East Indiaman, which was captured on the north of Scotland by an English frigate. Lord Spencer offered M. de Rossel employment in the Hydrographical Department of the Admiralty, where he continued until the passing of the decree which allowed the return of emigrants to France. On leaving England, M. de Rossel was permitted to carry with him copies of all the journals, charts, and observations which he had had in his possession when taken prisoner.
  3. 'Voyage de Découertes aux Terres Australes.' Paris, 1805.
  4. The Three Colonies of Australia,' p. 90. Samuel Sidney. London: Ingram Cooke & Co. 1853.
  5. Ibid.
  6. 'Emigrant's Manual,' p. 91. John Hill Burton. Edinburgh: Chambers. 1851.
  7. 'Three Colonies,' p. 27.
  8. 'Emigrant's Manual,' p. 91.
  9. 'Report on the Statistics of Western Australia in 1840.' Perth, 1841.
  10. 'Descriptive Catalogue of the Collection of Products and Manufactures contributed by the Colony of West Australia to the International Exhibition of 1862.'