Diary of ten years eventful life of an early settler in Western Australia and also A descriptive vocabulary of the language of the aborigines/The colony (13)
Perth, April 1837.
April 22nd.—A gap of several months occurs in the diary at the point where we last left off. We pick it up again on the 22nd of April, 1837, when Mr. Moore writes:—I closed my last rather abruptly to go by the Strathislie to Van Diemen's Land or Sydney. The Indian gentlemen in her were very much pleased with this place, as well the country as the society. I beg to say that it is generally believed in India that this colony is all but abandoned, and that only a few are left here waiting an opportunity to leave it. I beg to say also that, had it not been for the loss of the Mercury, which is supposed to have foundered at sea on her voyage hither, we should have had many persons from that quarter. However, our time will come round again. One whaling company is almost ready for operations. A whale was seen close to the shore a few days since, and some of the boats had a trial at it, but missed their aim. I expect to get into my new house at Perth next week. It is in a sad state of dilapidation. It will cost £13 to glaze and panel the windows and outside door. I paid £2 10s. for getting a frame to a table (6 feet by 4), and supplied all the wood myself. To procure the necessary furniture and other requisites for the house will strip my pocket, though it may replenish the house. It may appear absurd to you, but I really cannot get any knives and forks in the colony, nor a common three-legged iron pot. I fear I shall have rather rude cooking. I have hired a black fellow (a Lascar) at 30s. a month as a servant. Oh, if one could get to London for one hour to equip one's self, what a busy hour it would be! I came up this morning from Perth, and must return on Monday again. Mackie sets out on that day for King George's Sound, on circuit. I shall feel lonely in Perth until his return. I have hitherto lived with him while in town.
Sunday.—A pair of wild ducks were feeding on the lucerne in the front of the house to-day, and I wounded one. The dog jumped into the river and tried to catch it, but it dived so as to get out of reach. I also plunged in to help the dog, and it was a rare chase of nearly half an hour. At last I caught it under the water, but I had not bargained for such a swim.
Saturday.—Went to Perth on Monday last and took possession of my new house. Had dispatched J— from this at 11, with a bullock team and a cart loaded with divers things, and, amongst others, with a leg of mutton, ready roasted, for dinner. I expected him about five o'clock, but it was near nine before he arrived, and so dinner was at a very fashionable hour. It is a singular-looking house,—a wooden one, no less than 60 feet long, divided into four rooms and a hall. I think of getting it lath and plastered in the inside, and painted on the outside. The verandah droops too much and wants alteration. The purchase consists of two allotments, one on each side of a street running parallel with the river. That next the river has a fine site for a house, on the top of a bank or terrace 20 or 30 feet high, commanding a view of the river. The house is on the other side of the street and rather buried in a hollow.—I am trying an experiment here on potatoes. Some that were left in the ground last season have come up so strong that I have thought it worth while to transplant them into regular drills. If the frost does not cut them off, I may expect an early crop. We have much more rain this season than hitherto at the same period.
Sunday.—John Mackie spent the day with me. He says he has had about 320 bushels of wheat off his ground (10 acres) this year. Average value 6s. a bushel—£90. This, with a little dealing in cattle and sheep and pigs, gives him a nice little occupation.
Monday.—The lucerne which you first of all sent out here, I have been transplanting and extending from time to time, both by thinning the rows and sowing the seed. The chicory and yarrow are coming up this year in quantities, but not a vestige of the trifolium incarnatum. It will not answer us; but lucerne will be valuable, as it keeps in the ground, and comes green at an early period, after the heats of summer, even on dry ground.—These whaling companies are requiring so many men that hands are very scarce; no talk now but of "lays" and "spouting," and other technical whaling terms. I am preparing leases of parts of the coast for the two companies, for stations, one at Carnac and one at Fremantle.
May 6th.—The Governor has returned in great spirits from his excursion to the South East, comprising an examination of the country from the Murray River to within 55 miles of King George's Sound, having seen a large extent of fine country, well watered. Some pools in the rivers which they saw ever so far in the interior were very large, and must end in considerable rivers. Two (called respectively the Arthur and the Beaufort) are supposed to unite together and form the Donnelly river, which falls into the sea near Flinders Bay. The Murray river, at its issuing from the hills, was pouring out a large body of water. He seems to think that that would have been a better situation for the settlement had it been known at the time. I have got at last into the large house in Perth and feel most miserable in it. The cold is so great that I find it by no means agreeable; but I have lined one of the rooms with canvas, which will improve it.
Saturday.—Left this place (Millendon) on Monday morning last for Perth, and have only now returned. What between carpenters, painters, landscape gardeners, and other workmen, I have had a busy time in Perth, over and above my own business. I have got the ground in front of the house laid out regularly and skilfully; the windows, doors, and verandah painted, the gates fresh hung, and many little alterations, so that already it looks well, whereas in its previous dilapidated state, it looked like a gloomy deserted barrack. I have not yet been able to get a table to put in my room (proper for it), or a bedstead to put my mattrass on. My furniture, in the way of tables, consist of two small card tables, one of which is the same old one I had in college (I believe), or at all events one I brought with me. My mattrass is spread on the floor, and that is the whole preparation. Such furniture is now rarely to be met with, and the carpenters are all so occupied that there is no such a thing as getting anything made in reasonable time. The gardener charged me 26s. for about three days work; the painter charges £7 12s. for painting the outside of the doors and windows.—J— has been to York since I was here, and has brought over 27 wethers for the market. His principal business was to see 103 lambs drawn off, to be separated from their mothers and divided and marked for me, after the proportion was deducted for the men who kept them. There has been a very singular disease among some flocks this year at York, something like apoplexy. They die very suddenly. I think it arises from eating too freely of the young grass, which springs as if by magic after the first showers. Several sheep on the Swan have been attacked by blindness, which appears to me to be only a milder form of the same sort of illness, caused by the rupture of a small blood vessel about the eye. I have had one lamb and two goats affected, but by copious bleeding they appear to have been relieved.
Monday.—Have been occupied in writing a long opinion upon the propriety of the Government charging a fine of 6d. an acre on the lands of absentees who have not made the requisite expenditure, according to the terms of the original assignment, and also of resuming such lands, absolutely, if not improved within the specified time. Settlers are now going to the interior, to the extensive grazing tracts. These grants on the Swan, from their long narrow shape, are quite incapable of keeping a large flock. I paid 15s. for a day and a half hire of a winnowing machine, and had to send two miles for it besides. It is quite indispensable. I trust that you may have sent me the sieves and iron work of one. Henceforward I shall consider what articles I shall require from year to year, and order them out, in return for wool, pork, oatmeal, herrings, soap, candles, wine,—we are tired of Cape wine, they send it so doctored that it is unwholesome,—and a crate of the better kind of crockery now and then. I cannot get a cruet stand in the colony. I gave 15s. the other day for a small cotton cover for a card table. Send me some carpeting, and something to make curtains, some knives, carving knives, and forks.
Saturday.—Reached home this evening. Our little Bank has been brought into a state of forwardness during the week by having directors appointed, &c. Two other companies (I believe I mentioned) are forward also, for whaling operations. I am preparing leases of certain fishing stations for them, and I suppose they will require Acts of the Legislature also. There is hardly a subject that one is not obliged to dabble in. All these subjects are brought before Council, and there, of course, questions are asked, and arguments raised, which one must be prepared for. You see how necessary it is to have a good supply of useful books here. The people here (especially the would-be fashionable), have a vile trick of sitting late at parties. I dined at a house on Thursday, and was obliged to sit from six in the evening till four next morning, playing cards as stupidly as might be. What occurred the next night at the Governor's, whilst they were sitting at tea, was this: some one proposed that they should get up a dance (there were two lady visitors there), and the hint was improved upon; messengers were despatched to muster the neighbours, a fifer was pressed into the service, and we were dancing full fling before nine o'clock, and had a very merry pleasant evening without ceremony. We were snug in our beds by one o'clock, without draining the cup to the dregs.
Monday.—Dr. Harris came here for breakfast this morning. He was speaking on the subject of the rivers which have been seen lately between this and King George's Sound by land. Two rivers (the Hotham and the Williams) unite, and form the Murray river. The Hotham, he says, at the highest point it has been seen—namely, about 60 miles South, and about the same meridian as York—appears to come from the North of East, and is there a very considerable river, so that it probably comes from a long distance, and may be the drain of much of that country which we saw on our East course,— although we never observed the slightest indication of a drain to the Southward.—Have been trying an experiment this year to some extent by transplanting potatoes into regular drills, where they have come self-sown, or from those left undug in the ground. They look very well now, and some have potatoes as large as walnuts by them, and, if the frost does not destroy them, I hope to have a nice crop; but, one night's frost, and they are lost.—9 o'clock: A great barking of dogs, and in walked a gentleman (young Mr. Walcott), saying, "I'm on my way home to John Mackie, and it is so cold I just called to get a glass of grog." He took two and proceeded on his way. Two native boys are with me now attending my cattle and sheep. One has just been telling me that a large hawk, when it discovers an emu's nest, takes a stone in its talons, hovers over the nest, and lets it drop among the eggs to break them. He laughed so slily whilst telling it that I think he was "taking a rise" out of the white man.
Saturday.—For the first time since the barrel of herrings was opened, I ate some this evening, having arrived in a very hungry mood, and nothing else so readily presenting itself as that and an egg. Got into the canvassed room and had a few friends with me there last evening. Mackie has returned from King George's Sound. People are all busy whaling there also; but they have connected themselves with some Americans who have come there, and are likely to make a good speculation of it. This subject of the Americans coming in numbers to our coast has given rise already to a question of some importance, namely, whether it is in our power to prevent them whaling on our coasts, bays, &c. I am reading some works in order to glean what information I can on the subject. One cantankerous settler at King George's Sound called upon the captain of a man of war, which touched there, to interfere and drive the Americans off. The captain doubted his authority, and said he would consult the Admiral, &c. In the meantime this very man has formed a very advantageous sort of whaling connection with the Americans, and I dare say would now be sorry if he were disturbed. When will our own countrymen or our British Government open their eyes to our importance? This may be a good means of doing it. There is to be a ball in commemoration of the establishment of the colony on Thursday next, the 1st June; and, in the day time, rustic games, races, soaped tails, &c.
Monday.—It is not long since I killed and salted down a pig of 170lbs., and already it is almost finished. It is well there are so many sheep in the colony fit to be killed this year, for there has not been a barrel of beef or pork in it for a long time; the supply will barely keep pace with the demand, even with the importations; but every year we improve.
Tuesday.—Very heavy rain last night. I was roused by the making of its way down into the room beside the chimney, so I lighted a candle and read the law of fisheries, &c., for some hours, by way of a soporific.
June 3rd.—Just returned from Perth. There have been great doings there this week. A sort of fair, and games, and races were held on the 1st of June, in commemoration of the foundation of the colony. There was a good deal of amusement. The natives had their share also, running after pigs with soaped tails, throwing spears at loaves, &c. They seemed to enjoy it greatly. In the evening there was a subscription ball, at which there were 80 people and upwards. You cannot imagine the perplexity we are in here sometimes for books on law subjects, especially where alterations have been made by statute law recently. The Governor himself is not even furnished with a copy of the Acts of Parliament. I felt the want in a case I had to consider lately. Dr. Giustiniani applied to be naturalised, in order to secure land and houses, &c., which he had purchased. Now, with regard to aliens, many important regulations have been made in the 3rd Geo. IV., and also in the year 5th Geo. IV., with respect to aliens, and yet they are not in the colony. It is uncomfortable to have to give an opinion without having any means of information. I had to examine and consider and report upon the whole state of the law on the point for the information of the Governor, but our Royal instructions prohibit the proposal of any Act for naturalising aliens, so that puts an end to doubt on the subject, and will be anything but gratifying to Dr. G. As an alien he cannot hold lands either by grant, purchase, or devise; he cannot inherit, transmit, or bequeath; and I believe he is compellable to leave the realm if the King see fit. But upon this latter point a residence of seven years gives some immunity (according to the Acts above alluded to), and he thinks he can claim naturalisation on that ground. He is wrong, but you see how important the Acts are to us. Chitty's Collection of Statutes which was sent to me I find very useful, but does not come down to the period of these Acts. Our Legislative Council sits on Monday, so I leave this to-morrow again. An unpleasant affair near York; the natives have speared a soldier (since died) and wounded another (a settler). This was quite unprovoked on their part. The act is supposed to be in revenge for some old affair, None of the perpetrators could be found. Nothing but a severe example has been found effectual, and yet this is condemned and called out about by all those who are in no danger themselves nor their property.
Saturday.—This day will be memorable in the annals of this colony for the killing of the first whale. At Perth, great firing was heard in the direction of Fremantle, and it was supposed that a ship had arrived, but a messenger came in breathless haste to say the boats had struck a whale and were engaged with it. This was all that was known when I came away, but everybody was running about, elated with the news. I went to Fremantle on Thursday with the Governor and some others, to examine a jetty and proposed tunnel which has been projected to be cut through a hill there, giving an easy access from the sea beach to the main street. The plan is quite practicable, and not very expensive, for the distance is only 80 yards, and the rock is soft limestone. It is said that already a dispute has occurred between our two whaling companies as to the whale, one having first struck it, and the other killed it. I think the custom of the South Sea Fishery is at variance with that of the Greenland Fishery on this very point, there being some nice distinctions about "fast" and "loose" fish.
Monday.—The docility of some horses is remarkable. I have a young horse 2½ years old; he was alongside his brother of only 3½, and they both harrowed and ploughed as steadily as old trained horses. From the mare which I bought originally from Mr. Brown, I have now a mare, two horses, and a 1½ year-old filly. Got a small stock of wheat carried into the barn to-day. There was an immense number of mice in it. One of the natives was assisting, and he got as many as made a full meal for himself and his wife. Have been preparing this evening a sketch of a report of a committee of the Legislative Council to present to the Governor. There is just the same difference between him and us this year, as before, but I hope we may be able to settle it amicably now. We propose a greater expenditure for some services, and a less for others than he does. We are anxiously looking for a vessel from England. There is neither salt meat nor foreign flour, nor candles nor soap, in the colony, but it is a comfort on the other hand that there is plenty of fresh meat and colonial wheat and flour, and whale oil, and plenty of clean pure water. So we cannot be at any very great loss for want of the above articles. I ate a dish of Neeld turnips yesterday, the first this season, and almost the earliest in the colony—certainly the earliest in the clay grounds in the country. They are very sweet, and this is from the original seed sent out, for not one went to seed last year with me.
June 18th.—On Tuesday last there were some very fierce gusts of wind, and during one of them a vessel called the Abeona, which has touched here on her passage from the Mauritius to Sydney, was driven from her moorings and drifted towards the shore, but, by good management and the strength of her anchor cables, she was let gradually upon the sandy beach, so that when the weather was calm again, she was got off without any damage. She has sugar, rice, a few candles, &c., but for everything such a price is asked that if they do not come down a little, they may take their goods to another market. The whale has been mismanaged, for want of proper tackle to turn it, so they have only got the blubber off the upper part, and the rest is spoilt, and smells so strongly that the inhabitants of Fremantle begin to find that there are disagreeables attending whaling also. For the first time in my life I was successful in a raffle. I had made my throw at an early hour and came away, but it appears afterwards there was a tie between me and another. Lady Stirling threw for me, and her luck carried the day. I look upon raffling as a sort of genteel way of begging, but we are expected to contribute, and so follow the crowd. I dare say you think it a monstrous thing to charge 15 per cent. interest, but there is hardly any way in which money can be employed here that does not yield a much higher rate. That is an ordinary rate. Even now when money has become rather more easily to be obtained than heretofore, it was discussed for a time whether the rate of discount in the bank should not be 15 per cent; but it has been settled down to 12½. Persons have money lent out at 25 per cent. You see where such enormous profit can be made by the use of money; those who once get hold of any, either by loan or otherwise, are very loath to pay it back again, and perhaps would not care ever to pay it, if it were not for the interest charged. The vessel has not brought any salt meat. Fresh meat has risen again to 1s. 5d. a lb. My people live entirely on fresh mutton. When one is done they kill another, two lambs in the week being about the consumption. We have only lambs of this year, or rather of nearly a year old, to kill. They generally weigh about 33lbs. each on an average. Dr. G. is now blaming the Government for not proceeding to try and execute a settler, who shot a native, in the act of robbing his master's barn. The case is one of some difficulty. The master placed the man in the barn to watch the property. The settlers complain that they have not sufficient protection allowed them by the Government, and they are thus compelled to defend and secure their property themselves. The Government here can not, and the Government at home will not, give more, except out of the pockets of the settlers. So we are upon the horns of an inexorable dilemma.
June 24th.—I have just heard that the Abeona will sail to-morrow, and though we have been long waiting in expectation of the arrival of the Hero, and keeping all our letters back till we should hear by her, yet I think it better to send off this letter, as we know not how long it may be before another opportunity may offer. We had another meeting of the Legislative Council yesterday, and both the Governor and Council still maintain their own opinions about the amount of expenditure for the police, so that no ordinance can be passed for this year's expenditure. Whale fishing here is very encouraging, and the prospects extremely promising. Two whales have been killed within the last week, and a whale calf also, besides the mother or cow whale, being wounded so severely, that it is thought she will be taken also. I have a gardener making a little plantation of flowers and shrubs in front of the house, and for that and half a day's work, planting potatoes, his charge is no less than £2. He supplied about twenty geraniums and stocks, and other things. Send me a light plough of wrought iron, with an extra mould board, which could be fitted as a double mould board plough (cast iron is worse then useless, for it snaps and cannot be mended); also the sides and iron work of a winnowing machine. I pay 10s. a day for the hire of one. I have a stack of wheat to be threshed out. Mr. Brockman wants four guineas a day for the use of his threshing machine, and you must pay eight men to attend to it.
July 8th.—I am not quite sure on what date I closed my last letter to go by the Abeona, via Van Diemen's Land, but it was about a week ago, I think. We have had a meeting of the Legislative Council since, and have just the same difference of opinion as on former occasions with the Governor about the expense of the police force. The weather has been extremely stormy for some time past. Our colonial vessel, the Champion, sailed for the Vasse and Port Augusta nearly a fortnight ago, but, after being a week at sea, was obliged to run back again to Cockburn Sound, with the loss of most of her sails. Some of the boats belonging to the whaling companies have also been injured. A rumour of a most melancholy nature is now current, to the effect that one boat with six men in it has been lost, and no lives saved. I trust it is only an unfounded report.
A King George's Sound native, who had been in the Champion went on shore one evening at Garden Island with two other natives, and next morning he was not to be found, nor had any trace of him been discovered when the last news came. The other natives are quite at a loss to account for it. They say that he became uneasy and frightened at night, got up from the fire and went to the beach, and called out for the ship (which was lying off the shore at some distance), and they know no more of him. He could not swim. A native named Coordap, who was confined in gaol under sentence of transportation for killing sheep, contrived to make his escape, and has already stolen and killed a number of pigs, since his escape, though only about a week ago. Sir Charles Burdett came up here with Mackie yesterday. They dined and slept here. I took Sir Charles for a walk about the adjacent farms after breakfast this morning, and they then returned to Perth. It was fortunate that yesterday and this morning were both fine—the first fine weather we have had for some time; but the day changed as it wore on, and there has been heavy rain again. I have been a loser to some extent by it. A stack of wheat had been opened to get it threshed by Mr. Brockman's threshing machine, but heavy rain came on the second day and they were obliged to leave off. However, we got it all finished yesterday, being about 200 bushels in two days. Mr. Brockman and S— dined here yesterday at one o'clock, but my other guests did not come for dinner till five. Sir Charles wanted me to go down to-day to Perth to dine with him, but I had too much to do in settling accounts, &c., as I have to go down to-morrow again.
July 16th.—The rumour of the six men being drowned is too true. It is not known how it happened, as the boat came on shore empty. They had gone to bring back a small vessel which had gone adrift, owned by the whaling company to which they belonged. The vessel is driven on shore also, and is now a wreck. But a circumstance which threatens even worse consequences has just been reported here. Two settlers have been most inhumanly murdered by the natives near York, who, in fact, have arrived at such a pitch of daring that that part of the colony is in great danger if prompt and decisive measures be not taken. Such steps have been taken to the extent of our power, and I trust they will prove effectual. Four prisoners (natives) have been taken upon warrants, according to the due course of the English law, and this is one of the consequences of that legal absurdity which is enjoined us by the mistaken humanity of those at home. I wish they would give us credit for knowing as much of our own affairs, and the necessities of our position, as they do.
July 18th.—The Governor has requested me to come up here and examine the state of preparations at the house of every settler hereabouts, for it is feared that if the York natives receive any check or take the alarm, they may possibly come over here, and it is well to be ready for them. I am also about to use my influence with some natives in this quarter to act as spies upon them. I rewarded three aborigines on Sunday last with 36lbs. of flour for being instrumental in capturing Coordap, who had escaped from prison. A native in Perth to-day made a disclosure to me of a very extraordinary nature namely, that the native who disappeared so mysteriously from Garden Island was murdered by the other two, with circumstances of great cruelty and disgusting barbarity. One of them throttled the poor fellow, whilst the other mutilated his members, hacked his throat open with a quartz knife, and broke his arms—horrible, horrible! They have made their escape. Nine spears have been found stuck in the body of one of the white men near York, and seven spears in the other. As large a force as can be mustered has been set in motion against them. I only hope they may fall in with them. On my way here to-night I overtook a gentleman within three miles of this place. He had got upon the wrong road, and consequently nearly arrived here, thinking he was on his way to Guildford, which he had overshot by seven miles.
Wednesday.—Made a tour of all the houses higher up the river to-day, and especially the place where John Eakins is, which is the nearest place to the hills and the most likely to be first approached. I believe I mentioned that the natives had killed several pigs up there lately. The men who did it are known, by information from among themselves; and, because one of Eakins' partners drove one of the delinquents away from the house afterwards, this man said he would spear some one there, and they are obliged to be very watchful. In short, a very general impression prevails that if we do not anticipate the natives, some mischief will be done here. Some of them, however, are friendly, and appear desirous to warn us of the danger. This is a most unpleasant state of things, especially when our instructions are to proceed only according to the forms of the English law, which is to say, in short, we must do nothing.
July 20th.—Took another tour to-day, and found that we could muster about 24 armed men hereabouts. This would do pretty well if the natives would stand fight, but that is not their system. They come by stealth; the mischief is done; they are gone, and you see no more of them. A singular scare occurred here to-day. On a sudden there came a rush of natives down the hill and into my kitchen. There was no one about the house but Letty and a little boy. I seized my gun and ran out, when I found that some of them had taken refuge in the kitchen, whilst others besieged the door, quivering their spears and shouting in anger. It was some time before I could understand the matter. The party outside consisted of Tomghin, Weeip, Beguin, and Daubain; in the house was Daubain's wife, wounded in the thigh, and her child (also wounded), besides some other women. Both Daubain and Weeip were wounded in the thighs. Daubain pointed out to me that the spear had gone nearly through his thigh, and made me cut open the other side with a lance to let the blood out, after which I bound up his wounds. The others had now disappeared, so he ordered his wife to follow him, and all went limping up the hill. I was still watching him go off, when Tomghin sprung out from behind a tree, and flung his spears at him, one after the other, which Daubain avoided in some extraordinary manner. Then Tomghin fled and, before I was aware, dashed into my house, ran to a corner where I had a lot of spears, armed himself in a trice, and went out again. After a time some of the others held Tomghin till Daubain had gone to a distance, Tomghin in the meantime shouting with passion. The only words I could understand rightly were that he would "break his head." Whilst all this was , my people had gone to the funeral of the father of two boys called Minchin, who have lived with me for four or five years. I was waiting till the funeral should pass my place on the way to the burying ground, whence I accompanied it, and read the burial service. The five next graves to the one opened this day were of men murdered by the natives. The feelings of the settlers are just now greatly exasperated against them, and this sight did not tend to soothe them much. I want the Governor to apply to the Home Governor for permission to make a law to render legal the evidence of the natives against one another. In ninety cases out of a hundred we know the offenders only through themselves.
Friday.—Went down the river to-day to the house of Mr. Brockman, to make arrangements with him for co-operation.
Saturday.—As I have given you above a description of a scene that occurred among the natives at my door, I will continue the story by way of illustrating the character of this extraordinary race. I mentioned that a child was wounded in the encounter; Weeip, intending to spear the woman, struck the child by mistake. The spear entered the hip, and passed in a slanting direction into the abdomen, and the child died that night. In the meantime Tomghin carried the wife away again, and she was accompanied by the young girl of about twelve years of age, who had taken refuge in my kitchen along with her. This girl slept at the same fire with him, and might be supposed to be under his care, but next morning he deliberately transfixed her with three spears, and left her lying dead on the spot. Their ways are to me wholly unaccountable. This will bring on him the vengeance of all that girl's relatives, who will probably take a life for it, and so the wheel of massacre keeps perpetually revolving. Most absurd rumours, it appears, had got afloat, and had reached Perth about incursions of tribes of natives about this place, and the Governor, hearing that there were at least 150 natives in this neighbourhood ready to slaughter and devour us, came galloping up this evening, accompanied by his nephew and Lieutenant Armstrong, and by Mr. Lewis, the Commissary. What between quartering the horses, providing for the company, and now getting ready five beds, all hands are occupied.
Monday.—After an early breakfast we all, accompanied by the Governor, went to visit the settlements above this. On our way we fell in with some natives, who were burying the body of the girl (above referred to), so we saw the manner of it. The grave was about four feet deep, but not long enough to receive the body at full length, so the legs were doubled up from the knees. The earth was thrown out into the shape of a crescentio mound at one side; long pieces of wood were laid over the body to prevent the dogs from disturbing it, and the grave was filled up by earth scraped from the ground on the side opposite the crescent. The appearance of the country was very gratifying. The day was delightful, and, after a walk of about eight or nine miles, the Governor returned greatly pleased. He wishes me to remain on the spot for a little time, and on the watch, ready to act if need be, or to pursue whatever course of policy appears best under the circumstances as they arise.
Tuesday.—Went down to Mr. Brockman's to dine to-day. Heard that one of the natives had been shot at York, but no particulars have reached me. If this be all, it is worse than doing nothing, for it will only exasperate without terrifying them. On Sunday night a strange noise, something like thunder, was heard by many. It sounded to me like the sound from a huge rock thundering down a precipice. The cause is not clearly ascertained yet, but some say that it proceeded from an immense meteor which gleamed across the sky at the same time. I did not see the light, but, on my return from Mr. Brockman's, near mid-night, I saw a very bright meteor, the sky at the time being quite clear.
July 26th.—Took a ride round the settlers homesteads to-day to warn them of the approach of a number of natives, seeking to kill a child of Gear, for that which was killed by Tomghin. There were perhaps 30 natives all congregated for this humane and manly purpose. I believe they have not succeeded in accomplishing their object. The Governor is very anxious about the whole affair. He has sent Mr. Bull up to remain in this neighbourhood for a time also, and he wrote me a letter seeming to wish me to remain on the alert here some time longer. I got home this evening more than a ton of flour from the mill, ground and dressed (20 per cent.), and the bran returned, at 1s. 9d. a bushel. This will sell now, I suppose, at £30 a ton.
Thursday.—Two other natives have been shot at York, which will render it more necessary to keep a good look out here. It is understood that the two white men were murdered there merely because two natives were imprisoned, in obedience to the directions of the Secretary of State to act in all respects according to the English law. They speared a man through the head—luckily only through the jaws and tongue; then broke open a settler's house and stole his provisions. Well, a warrant is regularly issued, and, in process of time, they are taken, and their relations murder two white men immediately in consequence. We naturally defend our lives now, and thus vindicate the majesty of the law, but 10 to 1 we shall have an outcry in England that we should be called to account for it. Let them come here and convert the natives, and let us defend ourselves in the way which we find to be the best.
August 1st.—Busy yesterday and to-day transplanting and pruning vines: got about 50 rooted plants put down and a great many cuttings. It was interesting to see some little birds, like robins and wagtails, perching on the bushes and watching to pick up the grubs as they were turned up. An absurd rumour has reached this, that Capt. and Lieut. Armstrong have both been speared by the natives on their way to York. Men's minds are full of fears.
Thursday.—Two whales have been caught within the last week, after a considerable interval. There is an intention of establishing a ship company here. Our Perth whale company has not been so successful as the Fremantle, the managers of which live upon the spot. The melancholy loss of a whole boat's crew, and of a decked boat of considerable size, have been rather a damper upon the Perth company. Got some more vines planted to-day. I have now a hundred, many of which may bear fruit this year; nine peach, and six fig trees bearing; then almonds; also cherry trees, oranges, lemon, guava, and banana. Such is my present stock.
August 7th.—Busy all day in the garden, planting and transplanting. The two Messrs. B— dined here to-day. They have just come over from York, where they have been settled for some time. They give an unpleasant account of the state of things there, on account of the natives. I have now got the names of 18 natives who were concerned in the murder of the two settlers at York; some of them, I am sorry to say, are not far from this.
Wednesday.—Some hints having been communicated with respect to mischief which was brewing by the natives at Perth, the Governor being uneasy about it, despatched a person up to me to prevent my going down, as the hints all had reference to something to take place in this neighbourhood. I met his messenger, but we passed in the dark last night without communication, so I returned here to-day, and find (at least as far as I see yet) that the matter is altogether among themselves They have had a fight near this, but, as usual, it has ended in nothing. Men were present from 40 miles distance, but the whole thing looked more like schoolboys playing at prison bar than any deadly battle. I expected that some of the men from York who had been concerned in the murders there would have been present, and had intended to follow them when they had separated from the others, and endeavour to come up with them; but I think they have taken the alarm and have kept aloof. My old friend Nejal was among them, and very active as a peacemaker.
Thursday.—A little girl of Gear's (a native) had been left by him in the barrack for safety, and one of the natives came to her and said her father had sent him for her, and she had not gone far when three men rushed out from a thicket and drove their spears into her. One spear went in at the collarbone, and out at her back, and this manly feat is the result of the whole battle. In the midst of the fight yesterday old Gear came running up to me where I stood looking, to say that the man who killed J—'s pigs was there, and why did I not take him out of the way, as he was his particular enemy? A native was brought before me to-day, in custody, on a charge of stealing a bag of flour from the mill. I sent him off to Fremantle gaol, under the escort of the constable and a soldier.
Friday.—You could hardly believe that the little girl above alluded to is alive yet. I went to see her to-day and gave her some castor oil. One spear went through the lungs, and the air whistled in the wound (as they describe it), for the wound had closed when I saw it. But they say the barb of the spear is still in the body; if so, and that it is among the lungs, it is a bad case. It is astonishing how tenacious of life they are; any of the wounds would have killed a European child, yet this one speaks sensibly and moves itself. She got up and took the physic readily. At 10 o'clock the dogs began to bark, and I went out to see what was up. The soldier who escorted the native yesterday was on his return, and, being rather groggy, lost his way, so I escorted him a little. Here is a sentence as expressed by one of the natives to-day, as I was examining the wound of that child—"Walialak mangar uky addio tonga." The sound is not harsh. "The barb is still in the liver, I think."
Saturday.—Have been engaged for a great part of the day in conversation with one of the natives who was, I think concerned in the murder of the two men near York. He denied any knowledge of it at first, but, with some little management, I got him to give me the names of no less than 42, who were present. Of course we must not use this against him; indeed, according to the laws, we cannot make any use of it, for it is no evidence. He persists in saying that he was not actually present at the time; that he refused to go; that it was not his country,—he was only a visitor; that he was afraid to do it, or, as he expressed it in a singular manner "that his liver trembled." He says if we will give the women to the young men that they will go with us to point them out. It may not be a bad plan, for the parties out from York cannot fall in with them.
August 13th.—John Mackie spent the day here. The weather is delightful, and I bathed in the river. Old Gear came to show me the spears which he had prepared to go and spear the man who stole his wife. They were so prepared that the barb should break off short in the wound, that being the description of wound which he had received from the other.
August 13th.—Went to Perth on Monday last, and only returned this evening. Two whaling companies, which were injuring each other by rivalry, have joined for the season, and have caught two whales within the week. A few shares have been sold in the Fremantle company at £50, being originally only 20 shares.—On Tuesday intelligence was received by the Government of a most daring attempt on the part of the natives at the settlement of Mr. Waylen, in Toodyay valley. Mr. Waylen and two soldiers stationed there had been absent from the place for a time, leaving it in charge of two men. In the meantime some natives of the same party that had murdered the two settlers, came to the hut and asked for wheat and got it, and next day thinking (perhaps) that there were only two men still in the hut, they came about in large numbers, and five of them forced their way into the hut, and, after awhile, made a rush upon the soldiers, and Mr. Waylen, who had only arrived shortly before, overpowered them, and had them down on the ground. In this awkward predicament, one of the soldiers managed to get hold of one of Mr. Waylen's pistols and shot one of the natives through the head; then a second; then Mr. Waylen got hold of an axe and cut another down. The two others then made off, but the soldiers now being able to get their muskets, shot one and wounded another; so here were four dead and one wounded in a trice. I have no doubt all in the hut would have been murdered if Providence had not favoured them, as two of the white men (the servants) were so paralysed that they did worse than nothing, for they crept away. The hut was so low and small that the natives could neither get their spears in, nor the soldiers use their arms properly. The next night another party of soldiers, under Lieut. Bunbury, shot one and wounded another, near the same place; so they are beginning to feel our vengeance. Mr. Bunbury and the soldiers were obliged to take off their shoes and creep for nearly a mile up a hill, over sharp stones and rocks, in order to come at these men, and, singular to say, a native of that district was their guide. I have put into the newspapers all the particulars of the murder of the two settlers near York as given to me by Begooin. The more I know of the transaction the more black it appears. There are other natives even in this neighbourhood who were present (I suppose the place is 40 miles from this); but I think it prudent to temporise a little, for all our force is on the other side of the hills now, and we are not strong enough to embroil ourselves with the tribes round about us.
August 21st.—A day of rain, which is very seasonable. Every year since I came here we have been predicting great floods in the winter, yet each winter has passed off quietly. This is the seventh since the great flood, and we made sure we should have one this winter, because there is a cycle of seven years observable at Sydney; but the winter is well nigh over, and the river has been very little above its summer level.
Tuesday.—Another day of rain. Saw two little native children to-day stealing some potatoes which were among growing barley, As they stooped and ran, hiding themselves, they put me in mind of the fairies which J—— M—— saw long ago in the "dark loamin" at Bond's Glen. Poor little things! their mothers had instructed them to go and steal, so I walked the mothers off, and they began to beat the children, not for stealing, but, like the Spartans, for being detected.
Wednesday.—I was going to Perth, when a constable and others came with great fuss to say that some strange natives had been observed in the neighbourhood who would not give their names, and ergo they must be of the party who killed the men over the hills. I hurried off and found some of my old acquaintances of Jainabingup, where I caught so many "cobblers" a year ago. They were glad to see me, and they might well be, for I could hardly restrain the officious eagerness of the people who wanted to take them, right or wrong. I find the benefit on many occasions of having seen so many natives at different places, as it enables me to do justice the more readily, either for or against them.
August 26th.—The Hero has at last arrived, and, what between letters and newspapers, and seeing old friends and new friends, I have been so taken up as hardly to know how to get on steadily on my old track, but I shall tell you all in time. Mr. Logue and one of his sons spent yesterday with me in Perth, and slept at my place. I dispatched them to walk up here, intending myself to follow on horseback, but when the servant went for the horse he had broken his rope and gone off, so I had to walk, having the mortification to see the horses' tracks before me all the way.
Friday.—Capt. Irwin rode up here with me yesterday, at my invitation, to look at his house before he brings the ladies up to it. The house is not at all in a fit state for their reception. He is greatly gratified with the improved appearance of the country, by the advance of cultivation, since he left the colony. A strange scene occurred here to-day among the natives, which seemed to surprise and grieve Irwin not a little, as a stranger, although we are pretty well accustomed now to such occurrences. I was examining the knee of Weenat, who is still suffering from the wound, and was lying in a hut close to this, when suddenly I observed a body of natives at some distance coming rushing towards us at full speed. Weenat was greatly alarmed, and entreated me to run for my gun and protect him. I did so, and on my return found that they were in the act of communicating tidings of the death of a friend to him. A man sat upon his thighs, breast to breast, for some time, then whispered to him the name. (Bogan had been killed that morning at Guildford, by natives from Perth). Weenat hung his head and cried. The women covered their heads with their cloaks and made a regular wail. These men were the relatives of Bogan, seeking for revenge. The boy Bellick, who had been attending my sheep, also came up at this time, and was embraced; but, friendly as they appeared to be, I suspect that the gun in my hand was the principal cause of their apparent friendship. After a little, they proceeded in search of a victim, and Bellick, unsuspectingly, followed them a little, through curiosity. When they got out of sight of the house, some of the party turned upon him, dragged him to the ground, and endeavoured to kill him, but others interfered, and carried him off back to my place, wounded in two places. The spears had been turned by his ribs. The party rushed on, and soon fell in with old Barragim, or Yellagonga, and he fell dead under nine spears. All this occurred in a very short space of time, and the running, the shouting, the shrieking, the wounds of the boy, the lamentations around him, and the consternation and confusion of the natives when the death of Barragim was known, altogether formed a scene which you in the regular routine of civilised life could hardly picture to yourselves. After dinner we went out to walk a little, when we happened to come to the spot where old Gear was burying the body. The grave was about three feet deep, the body placed on its back, with the legs doubled up. He lighted a fire in the grave, singed off part of the beard, stripped off the nails of the thumb and little finger of the right hand, and tied the finger and thumb together; covered the body with sticks, then trod on the earth; made a hut over the head of the grave; tore the bag into fragments and strewed them on the grave, and then burst into a cry of grief, whilst his wife sung and scraped her nose and rolled on the ground. And so the ceremony ended. He said the finger and thumb were tied that he might not throw any more spears,—rather an unnecessary precaution, one would think. The grave is close beside Mr. Tanner's early residence, which is now a ruin.
Sept. 23rd.—A melancholy accident occurred here this week. A young gentleman (Mr. Creagh), who came out in the Hero, was drowned. He had gone out boating for pleasure; the current drove the boat on the bar at Fremantle, and the boat upset. There are some circumstances connected with his history which make it more to be deplored that he was cut off just now. He was a son of Colonel Creagh, of Limerick.—Wheat has become very scarce again. The price is now 16s. a bushel.
October 12th.—I am really ashamed and afraid of the length of this letter. Our sessions were held at the beginning of this month. The only cases for trial were those of three natives for theft and housebreaking; two were sentenced to seven years' transportation, and one to six months' imprisonment. The Governor wishes me to go to York and have a palaver with the natives there, and I start to-morrow on that errand. J—— is going also to get the sheep shorn. I have got about two bales of wool from my sheep here, and I expect about six or seven from those over the hills. I saved the life of a native to-day. Having got intimation that it was intended to kill a lad who was on his way from Perth to this place, I saddled a horse and galloped after the boy, and just arrived in time to prevent mischief. [N.B.—This was "Garbung," a lad, the son of Derharp, who was sentenced to transportation. No charge against the boy]. I took him to York, where he had lived before. They are a singular race. A young woman has been severely speared near this, but is still alive.—I came up here to-night in two hours and five minutes. Sold two steers to-day at £15 each, and ten wethers at 31s. each.
October 22nd.—Returned this day from York, having ridden from what we call the Half Way House (27 miles), in about 4 hours. Irwin and Lieut. Mortimer and Mr. Wells went over at the same time. The news spread like wildfire among the natives there, that Mr. Moore had come to make peace, and many of them came to me at York, and I had a great palaver, which my limits will not allow me to detail. "Governor wongay yahi keenyak" (the Governor says he is satisfied), was the burthen of my glad tidings to them. You must be satisfied with this brief outline. I took Garbung, the native boy, back to York. He spread the news, and will be of service. Not finding the natives at York, I went 26 miles to the north to look for them; but they would not show there, where the murder was committed. On my way I passed where Mr. Logue is now settled with his family. They are very comfortable already, having taken the crops now growing on a farm. They were then building their own house, about 1½ miles from where they now reside. I went to visit my own grant there, and was greatly pleased. They have 16 acres of wheat, a fine dwelling-house in progress, a kitchen, and a barn, and about 1000 sheep between mine and their own. I have had nearly 400 lambs this year. I persisted in my enquiries from the natives about the water to the East. They still say there is a sea in that direction, but far away. "Moons plenty dead" is all the information I can get. They seem surprised to hear that I have been so far without seeing it. My place near York is called Jilgayria.
November 1st.—In the midst of some hot oppressive weather there came to-day a shower of hail stones, such as I have never witnessed before; some of them were as large as pullet's eggs. What a sound they made on our shingle roofs!
November 11th.—The Hero sailed on Wednesday last, having several passengers on board from this,—some to go to England, and others to India, on a speculation to procure sheep and probably camels, and to bring an investment of other such things as may be suitable for us—What a provoking circumstance that this exploring expedition, from which we had hoped to derive such great advantage, is, I fear, altogether frustrated by the course which has been pursued. Messrs. Grey and Lushington, influenced, as we hear, by the evil representations of some persons at the Cape as to our state and resources, hired a vessel there, at £140 a month, and have gone to Java, thence to land upon the N.W. coast, and explore, whilst the vessel hovers and waits for their return. I am reluctant to speak more of this now, not knowing more of it yet than by rumour. Perhaps it is not so bad. I have just seen in Saunders' News Letter Professor McCullagh's reading of J——'s letter on the native kiley. My theory is that the rapid rotation and progression has the effect of compressing the air, so as to act like a spring, and, when the strength of spring has overcome the impressing force, then the weapon is impelled in a new direction compounded of several forces. But this is too long a matter to dwell on here. Its motions have always puzzled me, and, no wonder, when the Professor seems quite at a loss also. Have you found the direction uniform? It seems to me to be very various; but I have not studied or examined this point accurately. Perhaps its examination may be the means of ascertaining or discovering some new law or property of motion.
November 15th.—We had our proclamation of the Accession, and swearing of oaths, &c., all on Monday. Had some conversation with the captain of the Beagle. He is to sail immediately for our N.W. coast, and to explore all the most promising parts of it. I suspect from what I hear that the other gentlemen (Grey and Lushington) have stolen a march upon him, and that their desire to anticipate him was the reason of their sailing from the Cape as they did. Captain Wickham makes this place his head quarters. Has left some of his stores, and means to return here in about four or five months for a fresh supply.—A long Council sitting yesterday.—I want some bricks drawn in Perth to my house, and have been asked 20s. a thousand for carrying them.—Irwin came up with me to-day. The Governor is remaining now at Fremantle, whilst his house is undergoing repair, so we have more time.—Men are busy cutting barley here, part by reaping-hook, part by scythe.
Friday.—Made my first attempt at brewing beer, from bran, to-day. It promises well, but is not finished yet.
Saturday.—Been making a well.—I have been busy laying out a line for a fence which will be more than a mile in length when finished, and will enclose a large piece of ground, part of the line being on the boundary between me and Mr Lamb on the South, and me and Mr. Tanner's ground (where Captain Bryan formerly lived) on the North, and a connecting line at the back, about half a mile from the river.
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December 4th.—I know but little of the habits of vines at home, but one thing appears to me singular. In order to prevent them running too much to wood, I have nipped the ends off the growing branches, and the consequence is that so many of those tendrils which would otherwise be employed in clinging to the trellis or other support, have changed their nature and put out fruit. I had one pomegranate blossom, but the fowls have picked it off. A spot in a field of barley seemed greatly affected, the heads appeared to have been broken short off, and were lying on the ground. It appears to be the work of caterpillars, which are found on the ground there in great numbers. There is a grass which is in seed now; the seed is something like that of a wild or animated oat. It buries itself into the skin wherever it touches. You would pity the poor sheep could you see how they suffer from it. Frequently when they are skinned, the grass seed is found to have penetrated or worked its way into the flesh of the sheep.
December 9th.—A rumour has reached us that a vessel has arrived. It is high time one did, for the colony was much in want of those things with which it cannot supply itself. I literally wear a hat which is half cut through by some accident or other, and completely bare of beaver, but there is not another to be got. The same with shoes, and the same with clothes. There is not a pound of soap in the colony, nor a candle! Had it not been that our sheep have multiplied so fast we had been in a bad way,—not a pound of salt meat to be had. Flour was 9d., but harvest has commenced.
December 14th.—One of the officers of the Beagle (Mr. Dring) has been staying with me, and I took the opportunity of taking him round all the farms in the neighbourhood. He is greatly pleased, as he sees the harvest now in its most interesting state. I have interested myself to get a botanist from this part of the colony on board of the Beagle on this expedition. I have spoken to the Governor and am writing to the captain, and hope to succeed. It is a great mistake that there is not one attached to such an expedition.
Monday.—The Beagle has not yet gone. The captain has demurred about taking the botanist with him. I am quite vexed about it, thinking it, entre nous, a pitiful narrow-minded thing. Only think of such a glorious opportunity wasted, or not appreciated; but perhaps I wrong the man. I shall, however, persevere in the effort. One would think the conductor of such an expedition would consider the services of a botanist invaluable, and this man's assistance is offered without charge to the expedition. Oh! dear, how would Cook have acted? Oh! Botany Bay, who named you, and why? Oh! Sir Joseph Banks, what would you say?
Do you know it has often been occurring to me to write down several little stories, adventures, and traits illustrating the manners, habits and customs of the natives. Do you think they would be thought interesting? What would Mr. H—— think of it? Let me know. But then, it may pass off, or rather may not come on—so no matter about it.
December 23rd.—The Eleanor has arrived, bringing us back several of our old settlers, who had gone to England on their affairs. I have received an account sales of my wool. Bad prices. However, we must share in the general depression.—Another vessel, the Abercrombie, has arrived from Sydney, having touched at South Australia. If you know of any person going to that settlement in whom you are interested, advise them to consider well what they are about to do. From all the accounts we have, there will be, there must be, great distress, and much ruin there before very long. The system is wrong;—the capital nearly exhausted before getting upon the land; and we know that even under favourable circumstances a long time must elapse before the land will give much return. Then the seeds of dissension and discord are already sowing, and flourish between the Government and the companies and others. In short, they have a very severe ordeal to go through.