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the lost settlement, or to apply some modified principles in place of those which, upon their own showing, had signally failed. But, could the public of this country, upon simple proof of the resources of a colony, be brought to believe that its physically low condition might possibly arise from the unsuccessful application of many species of legislative quackery, it would then understand much that at present lies at the door of individual folly and extravagance of thought, at the same time furnishing an outlet of escape for the really criminal party in the affair.
The early colonists were cast upon the western shore of Australia heedlessly, and without due preparation. A colony was to be planted ; and the home government for the time being, desirous to save the nation the greater portion of the expense of such an undertaking, eagerly caught at the propositions of a few speculative individuals; and thus shifted a burden, as they supposed. from their own shoulders to the backs of men who aimed alone at speedy self-aggrandisement. The terms of the compact were, to all intents and purposes, highly favourable to those who chose to accept them; and it may yet be a matter of speculation whether or not, had these men been at all acquainted with the nature of the task they had undertaken, the wide-spread domains at this hour in few hands might have been turned to highly profitable account.
But it appears never to be in the nature of things that individual efforts should be acknowledged by those which succeed ; and the certain effect was, that a large, though limited, capital exhausted itself at the outset ; and left at length in the hands of that government, which ought never to have relinquished its primary right, the perfecting of a work seemingly as far distant from accomplishment as it was at the beginning. The moderate crowd of settlers which flocked into the territory deemed no power responsible but that of the parent country; and we of the present age of colonisation can very readily imagine their chagrin and disappointment when they received in return for their natural demands an assurance very much to this effect-that, as private enterprise had commenced the scheme, private means must be brought to carry it through. Waiting, hopelessly waiting for the coming immigration, which was to remove every strait in which they found themselves, to render that assistance and disentangle those difficulties which population in all countries can so easily and effectually surmount, much of the time and substance of the newcomers was spent in wandering gossip from tent to tent, or, in too many instances, in that species of dissipation which is allied to the sad and fatal feeling that they found themselves in the toils of a dilemma from which there was no visible escape. At this time, too, the government, with an improvidence of action for which we cannot too deeply blame them, enlarged the circle of despondency by declaring that the fault rested with the settlers themselves, whose unwillingness to apply at once to the duties of their new state opposed both the wishes and endeavours of their rulers to ameliorate their condition.
Yet, whatever may have been the inertness of these emigrant-settlers, and how great their acknowledged incapacity, still the extremes of each could afford no justifiable excuse to the government, either to lay down its prerogative and duty, or to fail in re-establishing and asserting that right and duty so soon as untoward circumstances called loudly for its exercise and its aid. To say to the already disheartened and mistaken settler, “ The fault is your own"_“We have granted what you asked,
and are by no means responsible for the want of forethought and prudence which have placed you where you are"—is but poor sympathy at any time; but when in after years we find the same government, being engaged upon the work of founding another settlement in the southern hemisphere, taking the experience of this very colony, and not disguising the fact of their so doing,--taking the past errors of this very spot as a guide for their conduct in the new sphere of their exertions, and going so far as to supply the monied-resources which were withheld in the former case, we cannot cease to point out such inconsistencies ; we cannot hesitate, in the task we have undertaken to give a brief history of this ill-judged settlement, to shift the burthen once more, and fix it firmly upon those shoulders whose breadth and strength are ever matters of astonishment, even to the session-dried experience of many members of the British parliament. And this is not mere declamation-mere finding fault, or arraying opinion against opinion—it is a thing inseparable from the history of the settlement, and from its traduced character.
At this hour, when its claims are beginning to dawn upon that portion of society which takes an interest in these matters, when some fair prospect of redeeming the past is held out by way of compensation for the lingering neglect of bygone days, and when at the moment we write our eye catches numerous specimens of rich mineral wealth yet to be developed, we can turn with renewed strength from the contemplation of even that which our antagonists have all along gracelessly bandied against us. A few words, however, will correctly define the course of proceeding which has made the very name of Swan River an instrument of example, a sample of all that could be ruinous and false in the modus operandi of colonisation. Probably up to the hour when the far-famed Californian “ diggings" burst in all their glory upon that section of society--and large and varied it indeed is !—which spurns at the ordinary roads to wealth, and prefers a cross country at all risks, no spot, no emigration field ever kindled higher hope, exhausted more speculation in the prospect of boundless and fertile domains to enrich their new possessors as of old, than did the now lulling settlement on the Swan River. The most extravagant
fancies, which in later days are disallowed and scattered to the winds, spread their meshes around a certain estimable class of emigrants, and told them that that for which they sighed in vain in their native land, those coveted landed possessions which in the old country brought great influence and accumulating resources, had found their counterpart in the regions of the South; and there, under even a far brighter clime, could they realise territorial parade, and perpetuate the doctrine of acres. As a natural consequence of the puffs of that day, and the liberal conditions upon which the government ceded it possessions, a numerous body of a superior order of emigrants entered the field ; and as the granting of land was dependent in amount upon the property, be it whatever it might, which was brought into the settlement, a somewhat partial exclusion of a moderate and highly essential class necessarily took place.
All who can recall those days will remember the “hot haste" with which numerous families embarked for the promised land; taking with them their servants, and in some cases handsome equipages, together with much antique and fusty mummery, which should have garnished on their native shore, prior to departure, a blazing pile to commemorate the extinction of old habits and prejudices—which they found, alas! too late,
were both incompatible with and alien to the dawning sphere of a new existence. Many will call to mind, also, the shock, which came as smartly as the pang of remorse which visited that universally-sympathised-withindividual of golden-egg notoriety, when the early settlers had at length pierced the cloud of mystery, and beheld the first faint impressions of the errors into which they had fallen. There was neither milk nor honey in the land, nor spontaneous crops, nor willing tenantry ready at call; and but few substitutes, who soon began naturally to feel their value and their importance. Long did they linger on in expectation of coming herds of men, to set all matters on a proper footing; but it was too late. They depended upon the favour of the public at home, and in its acknowledgment of the merits of their country; and that public had been disappointed like themselves-it saw its own fond and giddy prospects fading away, and it withdrew from the connexion altogether. At that hour the government might have stemmed the ebbing tide of popularity, but it failed to do so; it seemed, as it were, to make common cause with the public, and to repudiate that it had cradled and launched upon the world. And where is it now?-It is now mature and ripe for the masses who closely follow upon the steps of the pioneer. Swan River and its early mishaps became a proverb; and the government of this country, and the ranks of founders of new settlements, gained experience at its solitary cost; and failed not to parade, whenever circumstances needed such, the rash and inefficient principles on which it had commenced its career of hardship and suffering. Relapsing into forgetfulness, the emigrant public ceased to consider it at all; and this neglect appears to have superinduced the belief that the territory itself was unfit for the purposes of successful colonisation.
Let us now return to the banks of the Canning River, and mark what remains at the present time of the numerous body of settlers who once struggled with the destinies of a new country, and sought to establish homes in the wilderness, and draw around them the adjuncts of civilisation amid the simple pursuits of husbandry. The fabled notion of possessing a numerous tenantry, which should take the burden of culture off the shoulders of original proprietors, was soon blotted out of the records of their gains; and though, as we have before mentioned, there are many existing landmarks of former extensive location thereabouts, still the spot is not entirely deserted. The proprietor of the homestead and farm to which we have introduced the reader, was himself amongst the earliest arrivals in the colony. The brief narrative of his privations, sufferings, and losses, is, fortunately for the hope we have in the success of emigrants to those shores, one of an unusual, and at the same time interesting character. The difference is so great between the habits of an old country and a new, that most people who cling to the routine of the former will hardly be found to admit the possibility of happiness existing where the unceasing requirements of civilisation are not only unrequited, but unthought of and excluded altogether. The fact must never be lost sight of, that in a climate so mild as that of Australia, and so stimulating and spirit-nourishing, men care little how they live, so that they live peaceably, and are freed from the carking cares which beset the dwellings of members of older communities. This gentleman arrived in Western Australia with a wife and a family of young children, and planted himself at the spot on which we found him. Many harassing cares marked
of the first settlers; and among these there was not one which retarded their efforts so much as the hostile front assumed by the native tribes against the invaders of their domain. In all countries, where aboriginal tribes exist in considerable numbers, collisions are unavoidable; and as many well-meaning people in this country, who have never seen a wild man except by deputy at some country fair, exhibit an overstrained tenacity of belief in the premeditated wrong of the white man, and are exceedingly thin-skinned upon this point, we think it right to speak a little of the experience of our own colonists in this particular.
The savage is certainly not always the first aggressor, but yet he has been found so in most cases: the white man wishes earnestly for peace and a good understanding between the conflicting races ; indeed, he would purchase it at a considerable price, and is undoubtedly in most instances required to pay that price. There is a simple and invariable cause of aggression from the native, which is the result of his first communication with the wondrous beings who appear to him to be of another world ; and it is the same to the explorer of the hitherto unknown
terior as it is to the newly-arrived emigrant upon the coast - namely, the cupidity which is naturally excited in his breast by the sight of much desirable wealth; a taste of which the settler, prompted by feelings of humanity and conciliation, readily allows. Those invaluable commodities in the sight of the native, flour and tobacco, are, once tasted, not the harbingers of future peace and mutual good understanding, but the antecedents of hatred and of strife. Such is the product of, perhaps, their first interview. The savage is made acquainted with a treasure which supersedes the necessities of that precarious mode of existence known from his birth; the toils of hunting, the long fasts, and the hours of unsuccessful search, can be at last lessened, if not obviated: the intruder
possesses the secret, and it must be taken from him at every risk ; for it is needless to say that life itself on either side is but a feather in the balance, weighed down by the all-absorbing animal desires of those of our darker brethren.
Until the period, therefore, when these savages were subdued, which was not till a pitched battle had been fought with them, the early colonists were harassed on all sides, and could scarcely consider either their properties or their lives in safety. But now, brought to a state of subjection by stringent though humane laws, they no longer trouble, except by occasional petty thieving; for which, however, they are seldom allowed to escape punishment. On one occasion our friend remembered having to conceal his little ones in flour-casks, to save them from probable destruction by the natives—as it is singular how here, as in many other parts of Australia, they sought to destroy the children of the settlers. The native, in fact, acknowledges no law of control save that of fear ; and so long as we have in all our colonies wielded the rod of correction, and proved our power to' retaliate, as well as to reward by kindness a peaceable demeanour among the aboriginal tribes, so long has bloodshed and extermination been withheld; while early timidity or reserve bas invariably marked colonial annals with warfare and implacable hostility. And we believe all the talking and writing in the world will fail to show otherwise.
Surmounting all these numerous disasters and troubles, we find our friend with a family grown up around him, and at least inured to the life,
which in their case was burdened with little retrospection of the past. Afflicted with a temporary deprivation of sight a few years after his arrival in the colony, this faithful pioneer had lingered at the spot of his first location, and had been enabled, despite his former losses, to complete the work of clearing land, erecting the necessary farm-buildings, and producing in a rough way various kinds of marketable produce. It is true that they lived much in a style which many in this favoured land would consider akin to times of barbarism, and altogether incompatible with the hopes and necessities of civilised existence; but still, however much our friend might deplore—and no doubt in reason he often didthe fading traces of those former days which he well knew could never come again, yet his family remembered them not—they had no recollections, dear and sad, to check them on the path allotted in their simple sphere, or turn them from the ardent pursuit of the small meeds of primitive and patriarchal wealth, which, when we last saw them, they were striving manfully and earnestly to obtain. Perhaps, too, there was no point more estimable in the character of this worthy man, than that which related to the education and training of these children, thus nursed and matured in rude adversity. His wife died, through want of medical aid, it was said, in giving birth to the youngest; and the afflicted parent, deprived of a helpmate so essential to the preservation and nourishment of his children, had, amid the duties of his farm, to lend some hours daily to their instruction. It can hardly be believed how he accomplished this double duty; yet he did accomplish it ; and to the simple rudiments of education were added a knowledge of the French language, of which he was a great proficient, and of music. One of these sons is now ma
married, and promising well ; one is in the employ of the government; and the remaining two labour for their father upon the farm. There is also an only daughter, and she is lately married to a youthful settler. "You can see it better than 1,” said the old man, as he groped his way along with us one day, to explain the resources of his small estate ; the fire has spared the initials, I think;” and, wondering what this could mean, we arrived at the foot of a solitary tree, not far from the spot where his first dwelling had been erected and had been destroyed by fire—it was the grave
of his wife! The letters to which he alluded, and the year, were rudely carved upon the trunk, a few feet above the sod beneath which for ever reposed the companion and the victim of that privation and danger which attend the steps of the first generation in a new country. Yes; sacred indeed will be the spot when the pioneer himself shall join her-though not in consecrated ground. And the Canning shall flow noiselessly onward, and the note of industry shall once more resound upon its banks, and the smoke of many rural dwellings shall
amid the trees; and none shall touch that grave; the ploughshare shall spare it, and the new race shall honour it for a testimony of the founders of their country!
The river of which we speak is in no part dry during the summer season, as is the case with very many of the rivers of Australia ; yet, in common with others, it is subject to occasional foods during the rainy season, and, as a due consequence, some portion of the alluvial fats upon its margin are liable to inundation : and before this was rightly understood, a great deal of the settler’s toil was wasted during some periodical and unlooked-for rising of the waters. There is no damming out, or other