« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
And the Evil unmixed,
Be found in the band
Of Unhallowed Powers,
To work them dole
In body and soul !
Described by the name
Enjoyed by the Children
Rose from Nought, and the Morning
*And when the great work is achieved, In the Name of GOD I began-
In the Name of GOD I end.
Poetry, which Wetzel, we presume, regarded during the rest of the week in which he wrote it as final and binding on his muses.
Good Night, Good Night, my Lyre!
That lent me Warmth and Light.
With Love, Life too is fled;
My mind is all but dead;
Soon will my sad eyes close,
O, Lyre, on Earth and Thee!
I go to woo Repose
In GOD's Eternity!
* Unrhymed (also) in the original.
WESTERN AUSTRALIA, OR SWAN RIVER SETTLEMENT.
IN former papers we have given some account of the two earliest settled Australian colonies, whose progress has been greatly accelerated by the abun dant supply of convict labour, and the enormous colonial expenditure such a system entails on the parent country. The prosperity of the penal colonies may be compared to that of an individual who becomes rich by selling wine made from grapes reared in a hot-house, while the glass, fuel, and abundance of labour are supplied to him free from all expense. In the two younger colonies
we cannot anticipate such a rapid progress; but their foundations being laid on a basis of sound morality, their prosperity will be permanent and increas ing, and will exert a greater degree of influence on the mother country, with which their relations will be more intimate and respectable. If any evidence could be required to prove the inherent superiority of morality over wealth, it would be the fact, that the youngest of our colonies-that of South Australia-is more the subject of conversation in the mother country, and more
[We now resume our series of articles on Australia, which were interrupted by domestic affliction and pressing avocations.]
works are written concerning it, and more discussions have taken place regarding it, than concerning the two older and penal colonies, with their far superior riches and population. Hence also the two new colonies of Western and South Australia, with all the amount of preliminary hardships which the absence of convict labour occasions, are preferred by emigrants to the superior facilities which Sydney offers to the emigrant capitalist. The prosperity of the new colonies will be steady and certain, while in the older ones a social and economical revolution must take place before the present unstable condition of society be properly adjusted. But if the moral and intellectual characters of the old and new colonies be so very different, their physical and material conditions are very similar. In all the three Australian colonies we find a similarity of character-none of them possess any large and navigable rivers similar to those of India or America, or indeed of Europe. The streams are comparatively unimportant, and chiefly valuable from the alluvial soil which has accumulated on their margins, which forms the granary of the district, while the greater part of the land is dry and sandy, or open woodland, better adapted for pasturage than for agriculture. As, however, the general features of the country are modified by local causes, it will be necessary to enter into some details in speaking of the different districts which are now occupied by our enterprising countrymen.
The Swan River colony is the most northern, and consequently the nearest to the equator of any of the Australian settlements. The difference, however, of latitude is not so great as to impress upon it so much of a tropical character as to distinguish its vegetable and animal productions in any remarkable degree from those of Sidney or Adelaide. In short, the climate is nearly similar to that of New South Wales or the Cape of Good Hope, which last country it greatly resembles not only in dryness and adaptation for supporting cattle, but also in the analogy which exists between many of the vegetable productions of the two countries. In the Swan River colony, or Western Australia, we have a narrow line of seacoast, separated from the interior by three parallel mountain ranges which run in a north and south direction, and are consequently also nearly parallel to the coast. In this respect the
country has much resemblance to New South Wales, as it also necessarily has in its natural irrigation. Of these mountain ranges the eastern or more inland is the loftiest; the second goes by the name of the Darling range. The direction of the mountains determines that of the rivers, which have an easterly or westerly course according to the inclination of the country; but in no case are they navigable, or of much value as a means of inland communication. From the small elevation of the mountains they only supply a moderate amount of moisture to their streams, while the evaporation from the heated surface of the land is very great; and during the dry season the rivers are merely a series of pools, which, during the rainy season, become torrents, overflowing the alluvial flats, as the rich plains of Egypt and Bengal are annually laid under water by the swelling of their respective rivers. From the elevation of the land in Western Australia running nearly north and south, it derives a constant supply of moisture carried inland by the prevailing westerly winds, and is therefore less exposed to droughts than the country around Sydney. The prevailing rocks are said to be primitive, consisting of granite with quartzose substances, and the soil is usually dry and sandy, better adapted for sheep-feeding than for growing corn; and it is only on flats along the rivers and lakes that rich soil is found capable of bearing heavy crops of corn.
The coast of Western Australia possesses certain peculiarities which it is of importance to notice. Among these the number of little estuaries or fiords is a curious feature. Ten of them occur between Swan River and King George's Sound, and they vary from five to ten miles in length, and from two to three in breadth. The most important circumstance connected with the position of Western Australia is its proximity to the populous isles of the Indian Archipelago, and in short to all the important commercial emporia to the west of Australia. This fortunate circumstance does not depend on being near in point of absolute distance only for in this respect its superiority to South Australia would not be very great-but from the nature of the prevailing winds, which give a very great advantage to ships sailing from Swan River. The north-west winds prevail in the eastern seas from March till September, and during that season vessels
from any of the eastern ports of Australia have the utmost difficulty in beating to windward up the west coast of New Holland. In this attempt they are frequently unable to get round Cape Leuwin, and are obliged to return and sail round the east coast of New Holland, and to encounter all the dangers of Torres Straits. On the other hand, as Swan River is to the windward of Cape Lenwin, a passage may be made to India during the whole year.
As Western Australia is thus by far the nearest to India of all the Australian colonies, this advantage will no doubt exert a most important influence on its commercial prosperity, and also tend to the polish of its society. Already government has procured several hundred horses from Sydney for mounting the cavalry regiments in India; and it admits of little doubt that this branch of traffic will fall into the Swan River colonists as soon as they are able to supply the demand for in this case every thing depends on the shortness of the transit. But still more important advantages must accrue from this facility of intercourse with India, for the new colony may become the resort of Indian officers, and a commodious place for the education of their children, and an asylum for the invalid. Already an attempt was made by some gentlemen from Calcutta to form an establishment in Western Australia; but the vessel in which they embarked unhappily foundered at sea, and all the crew and passengers perished. The intention of those gentlemen was, to purchase property and form establishments which would serve as retreats for themselves and families during the unhealthy season in India. There is another and most important point of view in which the relations between India and Western Australia may be considered. One of the most painful circumstances attending the vocation of an officer in the Company's service is, that the family can seldom be kept together. The children require to be sent to England at an early age, not merely to preserve their health, but to keep them from the contamination of Hindoo servants, and to enable them to acquire English habits of thought. The result often is, that to obtain these indispensable advantages, the children removed to England in infancy often attain the age of 14 or 15 before they see or become acquainted with their parents. The new colony will offer an asylum where the invalid may recover
his health, and where his family may be educated without incurring the heavy expenses which a voyage to England and residence there require. The various means of education can easily be transported to the new colony, and indeed many of them exist there already; and the advantage of such a relationship as this system will produce in tending to keep up an improved state of society in the new settlement is sufficiently apparent. The carly settlers who emigrated to Western Australia belonged to a higher grade in society than such as usually retire to an infant colony; but much of their accomplishments will soon be lost amid the incessant demands on their time from the necessary attention they must devote to agricultural and commercial pursuits. The resort of Indian officers for the recovery of their health, and of their families for the purposes of education, would exercise a most desirable influence on the social condition of the new settlement, by keeping within it the means of high intellectual improvement, in which the colonists will, of course, participate.
It will now be of advantage to turn from considering the future prospects of the colony to examine its history and present condition. In the year 1829 several wealthy and enterprising individuals, among whom were J. Peel, Esq., and J. P. Macqueen, Esq., agreed to form themselves into an association for the purpose of founding a new colony on the western coast of Australia, without any pecuniary aid from the government. These spirited adventurers agreed to carry out at their own expense ten thousand emigrants in four years, and in return for this they required a grant from government of four millions of acres of land; and of this grant they promised to bestow two hundred acres rent-free to every male emigrant. In addition to this they were to furnish provisions to the colonists for some time, and to maintain two or three vessels to keep up a communication with Sidney. This project did not meet with the approbation of the government, which soon after issued one of its own-much inferior, in our opinion, to the one which was rejected. By the new plan land was granted on condition that a sum of money equivalent to one shilling and six pence per acre on the entire purchase should be expended in improving the land. If the terms of the agreement were not fulfilled within a
stipulated time, government were entitled to withdraw the grant. If the colonist took out labourers along with him, he was allowed two hundred acres for each individual, including those above ten years of age. The governor obtained a grant of 100,000 acres, and Mr. Peel obtained 250,000, on condition of taking out 400 settlers, with the privilege of increasing his grant to a million of acres on the same terms.
In consequence of these regulations land could be obtained with the greatest facility, and in very large quantities; and thus, at the very outset, the colony was founded on erroneous principles. On this system of free grants and conditional improvements, nothing was easier than to obtain a very extensive but valueless property, which gratified the ambition of being an extensive landed proprietor, while the stipulated improvements were contingent and remote, and even when fully acted upon, inefficient for the purpose contemplatedthat of promoting the rapid prosperity of the settlement. One evil attending this system of granting land was, that many individuals were tempted to obtain more than they had the means of improving, and were at a subsequent period happy to dispose of a portion or even the whole of their land to some succeeding emigrant. All this might have been avoided by selling the ground to the highest bidder, which would have ensured a degree of foresight which the system adopted was not calculated to produce. The extensive grauts to the early settlers, placed along the margins of rivers, and other alluvial tracts, tended to keep the settlers too far apart, and deprived them of many of the benefits which proximity and co-operation might have produced. The rich but limited quantity of alluvial soil was soon occupied, so that after the first year it was with the utmost difficulty that valuable land could be obtained. The best tracts had been already occupied, in many instances, by those who had neither capital nor talent to turn them to advantage; and thus those districts which, from their fertility and proximity to the coast, ought to have been the most thickly settled, and the property more subdivided, were of little advantage to the colony. Even as early as 1830, when the colony was scarcely a year old, Mr. Moore complained that the only available land for present
purposes is on or near the banks of rivers. All this is now allotted on both sides of each river almost to their source." This serious evil tended, however, to produce its own remedy; and this curative process was aided by several judicious regulations. Many settlers were compelled to part with a portion of their unmanageable_property, to save the remainder. Those who could not comply with the very moderate condition of investing ls. 6d. per acre of the price of their farm on its improvement, had to surrender it up to government, or to obtain aid from some new settler, to enable them to fulfil their contract. The usual plan was to sell half the grant, on condition that the purchaser expended on improvements a sum sufficient to prevent any of the property from reverting to the govern ment.
Another mischievous circumstance was the extent of river frontage allowed to the earlier settlers. The immediate as well as great prospective value of such property rendered it the policy of every settler to cause as much as possible of his ground to extend along the margins of the rivers, and thus exclude the other settlers from access to markets or means of transport. Fortunately this glaring absurdity was not allowed to be perpetuated, and the judicious arrangements of the governor established a just and moderate ratio between the amount of land possessed and the extent of river frontage. This was followed up by another equally wise and necessary measure, by which a settler can in future obtain only a small portion of river land, and must select the remainder of his grant in the interior of the country. It will result, however, from this arrangement that the same colonist will often possess two farms remote from each other, and managed on different principles-the one being a corn, and the other a sheep farm-a system which is not likely to be permanent: for, as the colony increases, a subdivision of employments will no doubt take place. A still more important and beneficial system regulating the disposal of land has been in. troduced since 1832. The system of free or conditional grants has been completely abolished, and all crown lands must be sold to the highest bidder, at a minimum price of 5s. the
of course greatly embarrassed the proceedings of the local government, by Occupying much of its attention in procuring supplies for the urgent wants of the colonists. From ignorance of the proper seasons for sowing, and also from the inexperience of many of the settlers in agricultural occupations, three years elapsed before they could, in any degree, depend upon their own resources for support. Another oversight was, that no regular plan had been concerted for supplying wants and remedying difficulties, the certainty of whose occurrence must have been foreseen. In this respect there is no blame to be attached to the colonists or the zealous and excellent governor; but surely the Colonial-office was to blame, especially as the occurrence of a scarcity of provisions was anticipated and provided for in the original plan which the office had rejected. Even as late as the year 1836 the supply of provisions was very precarious, and the price of wheat often enormous.
The great price and difficulty of obtaining labour has been a very great obstacle to the prosperity of the new colony, and has been severely felt. As the supply of labour is far below the demand for it-that is to say, wages high and servants scarce-it is no wonder, nor any reasonable ground of complaint, that they should sometimes be insolent and addicted to spirits: we might as well be angry at the scarcity of rain or any other natural phenomenon. The proper investigation is, how to obviate or mitigate the evil. When we reflect that the wages of household servants, besides food, cost about thirty pounds a-year, and that a labourer may earn from five to seven shillings a-day, it is easy to perceive that the small capital of the settler must soon be exhausted under such an exorbitant price for labour-the commodity with which he cannot possibly dispense. Even the system of taking out indentured servants must prove a failure, from the various chances of abuse to which it is liable from both the parties interested in it. At sent the labourer has much stronger inducements to break his contract than his employer. He arrives in a country where he sees people in the same grade of society as himself earning enormous wages if industrious, and obtain ing abundance of spirits, if dissipated; and he of course feels impatient to be come an independent labourer, and has a direct and palpable interest in getting
free from his engagements, or, if that
We have alluded to this circumstance