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The Bushman by Edward Wilson Landor

Part 2 out of 6

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not attempt to increase their property by speculating in goods. On
their arrival, they will most probably find the markets already
glutted, and they will be compelled either to sell at a sacrifice, or
leave their effects in the hands of an agent, who will charge
enormously for warehouse-rent and other expenses, and will take
especial care that the unfortunate emigrant is not the party who
profits most by the sale of his goods.

We had brought out with us an old artillery waggon; and all hands now
set to work to put it together, which was accomplished after a good
deal of difficulty. We also purchased three pair of bullocks, which
were at that date very dear. One pair -- magnificent animals
certainly -- cost fifty guineas, and the other animals twenty pounds
a-piece. Now, however, the best working bullocks may be obtained for
about fifteen pounds a pair. As the road so far as Guildford was
excessively heavy, we resolved to convey most of our goods by water
to a spot a few miles beyond that town, where a friendly settler had
placed at our disposal a wooden building, consisting of a single
room, situated on the banks of the river, and used occasionally by
himself as a store-house for his own goods on their transit to his
dwelling. The same friend lent us his own whale-boat; and by
determining to convey our effects ourselves we avoided a very heavy
expense. The cost of conveying necessaries from the coast to the
farm settlements in the interior, has been one of the chief drawbacks
to the colony. The boatmen made fortunes, whilst the farmers were
nearly ruined by their charges, and those of the storekeepers in the

For fifteen years, at least, the latter have grumbled with violent
indignation unless their goods have realised from two to five hundred
per cent profit. Resolved, therefore, to be our own boatmen, we
moored our vessel at a little wooden jetty below our house, and began
to pack up such articles as were designed to compose the first cargo.

I remember well the pleasure with which we stood upon that wooden
jetty one summer's evening, looking upon the boat in which we were to
perform our first voyage up the river, as she lightly floated before
us, scarcely giving a strain upon the rope which held her to one of
the posts at the end of the pier. Fig and Jezebel, always intimate
friends, were hunting for bandicoots -- animals less than a
kangaroo-rat -- which abounded in the bank below our dwelling.

Upon this bank, Hannibal was to be seen cleaning the tandem harness,
suspended from the bough of a tree, and occasionally casting an eye
in the direction of the sheep, for whose safety he was responsible.
By the river side, our bullocks were busily engaged picking the
scanty herbage. The sea-breeze blowing steadily up the river cooled
the air, and seemed to bear health and spirits on its wings.

The only sound that met the ear was a rushing noise, which every now
and then rose from the water along the shore. It was caused by
myriads of little fish rushing into shoal water to escape from
some pressing foe.

There are some minds that draw pleasure from things which in no
degree affect others; to such, this was one of those seasons of
tranquil happiness that leave no regrets behind. The consciousness
of independence -- the pleasant nature of our duties -- the cheerful
aspect of all around -- the flattering whispers of Hope, though false
as usual -- all helped to form for the mental eye a picture which it
loved to look upon.

And now we were busied in loading our boat. What pride we felt! no
shame at being seen performing manual labour; but pride, and
pleasure, and exultation. We had always been fond of boating, and
now that it was about to be an useful employment, it seemed
additionally agreeable. And what a noble scene for this our first
adventurous voyage, upon that broad river or rather arm of the sea!
We had found out the secret of human happiness, long hidden from us
-- business had become our pleasure. I was to be the captain, and my
youngest brother and Simon composed the crew.

The boat was not loaded until late in the afternoon, and our
departure was therefore postponed until the sea-breeze should set in
on the following day. Still, we could not resist the delight of
making an experimental trip, and so the sprit-sail and jib were set,
and we shoved off into the tide-way. A whale-boat goes very fast
before the wind, but will not beat, nor will she go about well
without using an oar; she is not, therefore the craft best adapted
for nautical evolutions, but we were too happy to find much fault
with her on that occasion; and so we sailed several times across the
river and back again in the very height of enjoyment. Then suddenly
luffing up in the middle of the stream, the anchor was let go, and
the sail brailed up, in order that we might have the pleasure of
sitting still in the very midst of the waters, and rest, as it were,
in the plenitude of our satisfaction; and when the anchor dragged a
few yards over the sand before it held, and then suddenly brought up
the boat with a jerk, it seemed the climax of our pleasure. This,
the sagacious reader, in the depth of his gravity, will consider
extremely boyish. But should we not rejoice and be thankful whenever
we find among the many simple pleasures of our boyhood, a single one
which retains the power of gladdening our maturer years? Alas! one
after another they die down, and are no more to be revived. We are
apt to fancy that when the pleasures of youth have lost their
sweetness, and are no longer desired, it is an evidence of our
increasing wisdom. But it proves only that our tastes, grown more
vitiated, have taken new directions. We have only changed our
follies -- and for the worse.*

[footnote] *"'Tis sweet to think we grow more wise
When Radcliffe's page we cease to prize,
And turn to Malthus, and to Hervey,
For tombs, or cradles topsy-turvy;
'Tis sweet to flatter one's dear self,
And altered feelings vaunt, when pelf
Is passion, poetry, romance; --
And all our faith's in three per cents."
R. R. Madden

The breeze! the breeze! the glorious sea-breeze comes stealing
swiftly over the bar; it crosses the first bay. Like a dark shadow
it moves along the face of the river, and now it has reached our
landing-place and gone swiftly forwards, bringing pleasure and
thankfulness on its path. Now, my men, jump in! hand me the grog and
provision basket -- and now loose the sails, and shove off. There,
we are fairly under weigh, and little Fig whimpers his adieu to
Jezebel and Nero, who for some minutes accompany the course of the
boat along the shore; and then finding we are really going, remain
fixed with astonishment, gazing upon their departing friend. Soon,
how soon, vanishes from their breasts every feeling of regret!
Before we have turned the first headland we perceive them playfully
biting each other about the ears and neck: and now Nero scampers off
under the trees in the direction of the house, and Jezebel (type of
her sex!) hurries after him.

The breeze came rattling up the river, and the boat flew merrily
before it. We had occasionally sailed to Perth in the passage-boats,
and therefore knew something of the channel. Sand-spits frequently
run far out into the river, and those who think only of steering a
straight course, are very sure of running aground several times
during the voyage.

The distance from Fremantle to Perth, by water, is about twelve
miles, and it is about as many more from Perth to Guildford. After
passing the ferry-reach, the river appeared about a quarter of a mile
broad, having abrupt rocky banks on either side; far a-head was the
wooded bottom of Freshwater Bay. Instead of coasting round this bay,
we passed through a channel cut across the spit into Melville water.
Here is a beautiful site for a house: a sloping lawn, covered with
fine peppermint trees, which in form resemble the weeping willow, and
a great variety of flowering shrubs, down to the water's edge. The
view from the house (lately the seat of Alfred Waylen, Esq.) is
exceedingly pleasing; on one hand is the fine sheet of Melville
water, seven miles in extent, and three or four in breadth,
surrounded by thick woods; in front is the graceful curve of
Freshwater Bay; and on the opposite side of the house from Melville
water, the river sweeps abruptly round through the deep and broad
channel I have already mentioned towards the ferry-reach.

We passed up Melville water, and in about an hour and a quarter after
starting came abreast of the town of Perth, which we left about
three-quarters of a mile on our larboard side, and continued our
passage up Perth water. We had now a difficult channel to pass
through, where the river is extremely shoal; and in our inexperience
we soon got the boat aground. Jumping into the water, we succeeded
in shoving her again into the channel, and passed by a small island
called Harrison's Island. It was here that a French exploring party
took refuge after they had come so far up the river in spite of many
alarms. These men were some of the crew of Captain Perron, who was
engaged in a survey of this part of the coast of Australia, for the
French Government. During the night they were thrown into a state of
agitation and alarm by hearing incessant noises in the thick woods on
the main land, that were thought by some to be the bellowing of wild
bulls; by many the howling of wolves; and by others the cries of
savages. After a night spent in momentary expectation of attack and
massacre, the Frenchmen got into their boats and hastened down the
river again with the utmost expedition, and scarcely thought
themselves quite safe until they were once more on board their ship.

This account of the French navigators was uppermost in the minds of
the English settlers on their first arrival, and contributed greatly
to the dread they felt at wandering a few yards from the settlement.
In those days, an orderly scarcely durst take a message from the
Governor to the Surveyor General's tent, within sight, unless
accompanied by a couple of his fellows, with their muskets ready for

The borders of the river were in many parts, especially on the
present town site of Perth, so entangled with thick brushwood, that
enemies might be lying in swarms, close at hand, without the least
fear of detection. When Sir James Stirling and his party first
passed up the river in boats, they had the accounts of the French
sailors fully in mind, and were very cautious how they landed. They
passed the night in a state of preparation, if not of alarm, and were
kept in constant vigilance by the same fearful noises.

The woods were now supposed to be filled with wild beasts, and it was
not until some time had elapsed that people became convinced that the
dreadful sounds which assailed their ears at night proceeded from
myriads of frogs. These little creatures swarm in the samphire
marshes near the river, and possess voices far surpassing anything
known in their species in Europe.

I was once looking out for ducks or coots in a thicket of bulrushes
higher than my head, when I was startled by hearing a loud "bomb!" at
no great distance from me. Having no idea what kind of wild beast
had made its lair in that dense thicket, I got ready to fire both
barrels on the first appearance of danger. Again the same awful
noise! It must be the snorting of a bison, or vast buffalo, seeking
shelter from the sun -- or it may proceed from some kind of
water-dragon, I thought. I looked in every direction, but could see
no living creature; and at last was about to retreat in the quietest
manner possible, when I espied a little frog perched on the top of a
reed, about a yard from my nose, and apparently looking full in my
face, whilst, ever and anon he inflated his cheeks, and uttered the
fearful sounds I had heard.

But besides the dread of wild beasts, the colonists were long in the
greatest apprehension of losing themselves in the vast wilderness of
forest by which they were on every side enclosed. The country being
extremely level, up to the Darling range of hills, which is seen
trending north and south about twelve or fourteen miles at the back
of Perth, a man once in the woods has no object but the sun by which
to direct his course. Every now and then he comes upon an impassable
swamp, which throws him out of his track, and causes him infinite
difficulty before he can get round it, and then he begins to doubt of
his true direction. This is certainly, an awkward predicament; and
nothing is so easy as for inexperienced bushmen to lose their way.
When once a man begins to doubt whether he is right, he loses all
confidence in himself; he wanders first in one direction and then in
another, in the hope of finding something to guide him; and fears
lest every step should take him farther into the labyrinth of the
forest-wilderness. I have myself been several times lost for a short
period, and know how very unpleasant is the sensation. A common
soldier, sent on a message from Perth to Fremantle, happened to get
off the track. Becoming alarmed, he tried to recover it, but as it
had made a bend, he walked as far as he thought its position ought to
be, without success, and then fancied he must have mistaken the
direction. He therefore diverged at right angles, and after walking
a short time, recollected that he must now be going in the wrong
direction, as he had left the path originally on his left hand.
Accordingly he turned back again, and walked so far without
perceiving any signs of the track that he now fancied he must be
going parallel with it. Had he gone on a few yards father, all would
have been right, but now he really took a parallel course, and after
walking for some time longer, he again turned back, and walked in
another direction. Now this man had the sea on one side of him, and
the river on the other, at most not more than four miles apart; yet
the dread of having walked back into the wilderness behind Perth
overpowered his faculties, and he walked for hours in a circle of
about half a mile in diameter. He might have considered that the
Darling Hills were behind Perth, and must have brought him up, but
reason does not always act freely at these times. At length,
completely exhausted, he sat down at the foot of a tree, where he
remained all night, expecting death from starvation, from the
natives, or some unknown wild beasts.

The next day he walked again as long as his strength would allow, but
before night sank down in the extremity of despair. It was not until
the third day of his misfortunes that he was tracked up by a party
sent in search of him, and guided by friendly natives, who followed
his many devious steps with unerring eyes.

Another man, similarly lost in the interior, after vainly trying to
recover the road, determined to make for the coast, which he knew lay
to the west. He was also confident that the sun regularly set in
that quarter, and therefore, he boldly determined to trust himself to
the guidance of the sun, making sure, that if he followed it far
enough, it must lead him to the coast at last. Accordingly, he
marched after the sun till night-fall and then went cheerfully to
sleep, having supped upon some bread and pork, which he carried with
him. The next morning, at sunrise, he started off in the direction
of his guide, perfectly unconscious that he was now retracing his
steps, and journeying eastward. All day, however, he continued to
follow the sun, and when it set, wondered that he had not yet reached
the sea. At night, he finished his bread and pork, and the next
morning set off again on his long and tedious journey; still, at
night, there was no appearance of the ocean, and he fired off his gun
at a black cockatoo, which he killed with his only charge of shot.

Upon this bird he lived for the next two days, and for two more he
subsisted upon roots. He had now given up all hopes of discovering
the sea, and had lain down to die, when he was found by his master
and a party of natives, who had come in search of him.

It appeared that he was found upon almost the very spot on which he
had first lost himself.

When once a man begins to believe that he is lost in the wilderness,
he feels as helpless as one who is blind-folded at the game of
blindman's buff, and who has been twirled round so often, that he has
no idea whereabouts the door or the fire-place is situated. Those
who are used to the bush steer their course with almost unerring
precision by the sun, and a few known objects, but there are numbers
who never acquire this power. The natives appear to know by instinct
the direction of every spot they wish to reach; and many white men
seem to possess the same faculty.

But I have almost forgotten that we are all this time sailing up the
rive in our whale-boat. It was a very beautiful sail, and we
repeatedly passed cheerful-looking farm-houses on either bank --
sometimes goodly mansions with park-like enclosures about them. In
the afternoon we dined upon cold wild-duck; and as each man sipped
his grog in his pannikin, we felt so exceedingly cheerful, that Simon
and Meliboeus favoured the public with "Away with melancholy!" and
divers other agreeable ditties. The wind however died away, and
evening set in as we passed Guildford. The banks of the river had
now risen into steep cliffs, which threw a deep gloom over our
course. We had furled the sails, and taken to the oars, and as we
blindly poked our way, we began to think this kind of work was not
quite so agreeable as it had at first appeared. Nothing was now to
be seen but the outlines of the steep sides of the river on which
occasional houses were visible, the light streaming through the
windows, and making us fancy how comfortable every thing must be
within, and how pleasant it would be to be sitting at supper in a
cheerful room, instead of toiling at our oars with blistered hands,
and without the prospect of a good bed at the end of the voyage.

Romance was gone; the sad reality of life remained. Still we pulled
along, steering by turns, and doubting and wondering every hundred
yards whether we had not gone past the place we sought. Sometimes we
paused on our oars to debate the question, but still we continued to
push on; till at length we found ourselves close abreast of the
wooden building we were so anxiously looking out for, and experienced
a sensation of surprise as well as of delight.

The boat was soon safely moored, and the door of the building
unlocked; and by the light of a wax taper, which we had brought on
purpose, we found ourselves in a large empty room, without any
fire-place. A heap of dead wood was soon collected at the entrance;
and a glorious fire lighted up the small enclosure which surrounded
the building, and sufficiently illuminated a considerable portion of
the room itself. The kettle being put on, we soon had tea ready, and
managed to get through our rations of bread and pork, not forgetting
to give little Fig his supper, who sat very seriously before the
fire, wondering what it all meant.

Cigars, and brandy and water, having been duly administered before
bed-time, we next proceeded to litter down coats and cloaks; and
having made ourselves as comfortable as circumstances would admit of,
stretched ourselves on the floor, with a few sighs and thoughts of
home, and slept until day-break.

The first thing we did next morning was to unload the boat; and then
having breakfasted, and secured the door on our effects, we started
on our homeward trip, and had the satisfaction of pulling the whole
distance to Perth, where we were obliged to sleep the next night, as
it was impossible for us to get down Melville water in the teeth of a
strong sea-breeze.

When we had to start again with another load of goods, our hearts
were much heavier than on the first excursion.



First impressions endure the longest, and are recalled with most
pleasure. Further acquaintance does not always give us a truer idea
of the value of the object, as familiarity frequently makes us
overlook as insignificant that which is constantly before us. It is
not the object that is proved to be really less valuable as we become
better acquainted with it, but our own views which change with our
position. My first impressions on visiting the various farms, or
rather gentlemen's residences, on the banks of the Swan, were
extremely agreeable. I thought nothing could be more delightful than
to live at one of those picturesque and lovely spots. If the romance
of that first feeling be now faded from my heart, it is not because I
have discovered that all which I then saw was an illusion, but
because a more sober state of mind -- that state into which the mind
settles as the excitement of sudden change and unwonted novelty
subsides -- teaches that happiness is not local, and that it is no
more likely to be found in the finest country residence than in the
main street of a town.

At the first view we are apt to imagine that people who live in one
of these pleasant retreats must needs be happier than ourselves, who
possess nothing but a miserable shilling.

This is the delusion; and when with increasing knowledge, we recover
from this, we cease to envy and to covet.

My first ride up the Swan was a most delightful one. No park in
England could be more beautiful than the grounds around some of the

The ride through the scattered village of Guildford, with a view of
the rich and extensive flats of Woodbridge, the property of Sir James
Stirling, and the frequent bends of the river, is a very agreeable
one. The whole country of the middle and upper Swan resembles a vast
English park. We passed the pretty country church of the Middle
Swan, with its modest parsonage beside it, and then proceeded through
wooded ravines along a pleasant drive to one of the most hospitable
mansions in the colony. Extensive stables, barns and out-buildings
occupied the back of the premises. As it was now too late in the
evening to see much of the surrounding scenery, we entered the house
of Samuel Moore, Esq., and sat down to an excellent dinner. In the
evening we had music -- pianos are as common in Western Australia as
in England. At night I occupied a sofa in the parlour. The
excitement and novelty of my present situation -- so many thousands
of leagues removed from the spot on which, only a few months before,
I had deemed I was to spend my life -- kept me wakeful; and about one
o'clock I arose, and opening the French window, stepped out into the
verandah. How solemn was the scene before me, faintly lighted by the
moon! In front of the house was a pretty sloping garden, and below
this stretched a broad clearing, now waving with corn, amidst which
rose up a number of scattered, lofty, dead trees, which had been
purposely killed by ringing the bark. How mournful they looked in
that gloomy light!

The river bounded this clearing, and beyond the river stretched its
high bank, covered with forest trees, the advanced lines, as it were,
of the vast wilderness which lay behind. From out the depths of
those woods rose the occasional shrieks of an owl, or other night
bird, and at intervals the long dismal howl of a wild dog -- the only
carnivorous animal indigenous in that country. The air was balmy,
but there was something in the mournful aspect of the scene that
weighed upon the spirits, and made one feel inexpressibly lonely in
the midst of that boundless wilderness of forest.

Time soon takes off the edge of novelty, and long ago I have learned
to feel perfectly at ease and cheerful, whilst lying in the midst of
much deeper solitude, with no companions but my horse grazing near
me, and the fire at my feet. There is no country in the world so
safe for the traveller as Western Australia.

The next day we went over the farm of our host. His best land was on
the flats at the river side, but his upland, by judicious
cultivation, is made productive and valuable. A carriage-drive
extends through the grounds and affords beautiful prospects of the
river, and of the estates through which it runs; and on the other
side, of the Darling Hills. The hedge-rows on this property are
planted with olive, almond, and peach trees -- an admirable policy,
which ought to be adopted throughout Australia. In a few years --
for the olive bears fruit much sooner here than in the south of
Europe -- a valuable traffic in olive-oil may be expected from this

The ingenious gentleman who owns this property (which is, in point of
soil, one of the worst farms on the Swan) continues annually to add
to its value by his persevering system of improvement. He has had a
steam-engine constructed on his own premises, and under his personal
superintendence; and he grinds his own flour as well as that of his

The neighbouring estate of W. L. Brockman, Esq., is a more valuable
property, and equally attractive in possessing a well-cultivated
farm, a beautiful situation, a comfortable residence, and an amiable

With similar energy and savoir faire, all the beautiful farms on this
river might be made most enviable residences.

Whilst on the subject of farming, I may mention a reaping-machine
which has been introduced into this colony from South Australia,
where it was invented. It is only adapted to a very dry climate, but
there it is most valuable. A pair of horses push a machine before
them, which consists of a threshing-machine and a set of revolving
combs, some six feet wide. These combs, in their revolutions, catch
up the wheat, and tear off the ears from the stalks, throwing them
back into the threshing-machine. A field of wheat is thus reaped and
threshed as fast as the horses can walk over it. The straw is
afterwards mown.

The roads are hard and good in this neighbourhood, and some of the
settlers keep their open carriages.

I doubt whether I have conveyed to the reader a just idea of some of
the pleasantest spots which are to be met with in this colony; but I
would not have him (full of romantic thoughts and agricultural
purposes) rush hastily into the mart and sell his substance in order
to lead a life of tranquil retirement in this distant Eden. It
requires a good deal of philosophy to make a contented settler. Most
colonists leave England full of virtuous resolutions -- with bosoms
glowing with the ardent love of nature; and fully persuaded that they
need nothing to make them happy but a small farm, beautifully
situated, with its cottage ornee, and its spreading vines, and a
noble fig-tree, beneath which they are to sit in the cool of the
evening, with their little ones around them. All this they may
really possess; and for some time they are in raptures at the novel
feeling of being men of landed interest. This is always the first
ambition of a colonist -- to have some property which he may lawfully
call his own. And, indeed, the human heart never expands with more
satisfactory pride than in the breast of him whose territorial
possessions have hitherto been confined to a few flower-pots in his
parlour-window, but who now stands firmly beneath a lofty gum-tree,
and looking round him, murmurs "This is mine!" It is, indeed, a very
pleasant sensation, but, unfortunately, it is very short-lived.

Men do not come out to a colony to spend an income, but to make a
living. When once their capital is laid out in the acquisition of a
farm, and in the necessary purchase of stock, they have to raise
money out of it to pay their labourers' wages, and find their
households with tea, sugar, clothing, and "sundries." Many things
may be grown upon your farm, but not everything. At first, the
settler is satisfied with finding that he can sell sufficient produce
to enable him to pay his way, provided he practise the utmost
economy, and exhibit a reasonable degree of good management.

But soon there are extra expenses to be liquidated; a long illness in
his family brings him in debt to the doctor; or his neighbour has
injured him, and he has, thereupon, further injured himself by going
to law and avenging the wrong. He now becomes discontented, and
thinks he is as badly off as he was before he left England; or,
perhaps he may have sustained no losses, and is just able to live on
his property without getting into debt; he forgets, however, the
principles on which he came out to settle; he begins to complain that
he is not making money. It is true he leads an easier life than he
did in England; he is not striving and struggling for existence as he
was there, but he is making no money. His wife asks him daily, in
the pleasantest connubial key, why he brought them all from England,
to bury them there, and see nobody from morn till night? What, she
urges, is to become of their children? Will Jonadab, their
first-born, be a gentleman like his maternal ancestors? -- But how,
indeed should he, with the pursuits of a cow-boy and the hands of a
scavenger? It is very well for one who cares nothing for genteel
society, and whose bearish manners, in fact, unfit him for it, to
lead such a life; but is she to endure this for ever, and see her
daughters married to men who wear long beards and Blucher boots?

These incessant attacks at length overthrow the ennobling philosophy
of the colonist. He knows not where to procure more than he already
possesses, or he would gladly return to the country of his
fore-fathers; but alas! he sees no prospect of gaining even a bare
livelihood there. Without knowing, then, how or where to improve his
condition, he deplores the penury of his lot, and sighs for wealth
which he has no prospect of ever obtaining.

My own opinion has ever been that colonists, with few exceptions,
must always be poor men. They may possess large estates and numerous
herds; but the more numerous these herds, the less is their
marketable value: for population and demand can never increase in
equal ratio with the supply. A man, therefore, who possesses the
elements of wealth, may still be poor in the article of money.

Nor will his estates produce him more income than his herds; for in
most cases the only rent which his tenants can afford to pay is in
kind. 'The only real wealth to a colony is the incessant influx of
immigration, combining capital and labour.'

There are some of us, happily, who still retain the ancient
philosophy. We have not thought of pecuniary wealth, and are content
to live easily, with those moderate blessings which attach to a
beneficent climate and a simple mode of life.

So very little is required which money can buy, that men seem to be
annoyed at the fact, and insist upon creating new wants.

A great deal of discontent and repining generally prevails in a
colony. People who have lived miserably in England, who have long
doubtfully hovered between suicide and highway robbery, determine at
length to adopt the still more melancholy alternative of emigration.
After bequeathing a few tender sighs to the country which they have
hitherto regarded rather as a step-mother than a parent; and having
pathetically solicited the sympathy of those who more readily bestow
upon them a few pounds than a few tears, in the pious hope of never
seeing them more, our emigrants betake themselves to the favoured
land of their adoption, in the full and confident belief that they
have nothing now to do, but live "like gentlemen," though without the
means, or any other qualifications of that class. Their Faith is of
that affecting and unlimited description, as to lead them to suppose
that He who beneficently feeds the ravens will not neglect the rooks
or the drones.

In a very short time, however, they find that they are no better off
in the new than they were in the old country. The gum-trees do not
produce bread, nor the banksias shoulders of mutton; and,
consequently, their hopes have been miserably disappointed, and they
loudly proclaim their wants and sorrows in the streets. There are
unfortunately in all colonies -- those 'refugia peccatorum' -- many
emigrants of this class, idle and worthless, who have never done
well, and never will succeed in any part of the world.

A colonial life is not for these men, and we recommend them to pass
on to some other region as quickly as possible.



In the chief town of every colony, there is always agreeable society
to be found among the resident Government officers, and the other
principal inhabitants. Many estimable individuals are to be met with
in all communities; in that in which I have myself resided for some
years, there are many for whom I entertain the highest regard. I
hope, therefore, it will not be considered that, in the remarks which
I am about to make, I am actuated by any ill or invidious feeling, or
at all allude to individuals. Since I have undertaken the task of
drawing sketches of colonial life, I must not endeavour to conceal
any portion of the truth, nor tacitly allow erroneous conclusions to
be drawn from my remarks.

I have already observed that a good and kindly feeling towards one
another prevails in this colony among the settlers generally. But I
must qualify this remark by adding -- in all cases in which
individual interests are not concerned. There is less perhaps of the
'spirit of dealing' in this colony than in any other of the British
empire. Ours is not a mercantile community, and the farm-settlers
generally are young men of good birth and gentlemanly spirit. Still,
even here, beyond all question, exists the same odious tendency
(though less apparent) which prevails more or less in all colonies,
to advance self-interest on every possible occasion, without being
deterred by any scruples whatsoever.

When men become emigrants, they leave behind them their relations,
friends, connexions, and all their old associations, and appear upon
a new theatre of action, where they have no feelings to consult
beyond their own personal wishes and interests.

They find themselves suddenly emancipated from all those restraints
which formerly acted with a salutary influence upon their natural
inclinations; and having no one near them whose opinion they regard,
or whom they care to conciliate, they fall rapidly into the belief
that they have no one to live for but themselves, and, consequently,
make self the sole guide of all their actions, and sole god of their

This spirit of 'Yankeeism' is the prevailing spirit of colonies. It
is the natural consequence of the isolated state in which men feel
themselves to exist, when they have no longer those less selfish
motives of action that influenced and regulated their conduct under
other circumstances. The eye of a parent no longer watches over them
with approbation or anxiety; and what has a still more powerful
influence upon their conduct, they are now beyond the observation of
that circle of friends, relations, and acquaintance, to which they
had been known from childhood; which had constituted their world, and
the censure or approbation of which determined their state of
self-reproach or self-satisfaction. Few men may be trusted far who
can say, "I am not known here," for these are always the people who
care least what they do. Good and well-meaning persons will exclaim,
"Colonists can have very little sense of religion, if they allow
themselves to act at a distance differently from what they would do
at home." Those who have more than a theoretical acquaintance with
mankind, and who are used to look upon them in their undisguised
selfishness, know well that their sense of religion is greatly
dependent upon the circumstances in which men find themselves placed.
We are not speaking of what such and such people would do and feel,
but of what is really done and felt by thousands.

Besides, I have already premised that it is not every colonist who
acts on these principles, but that such is the general tendency to
act in a colony.

We can now understand the origin of that intense selfishness in the
American character, which has never yet been cast aside, and which,
in fact, is perpetuated by a republican form of government.

The high and nice sense of honour, the chivalrous generosity, the
frank acknowledgment of superiority, and the ready devotion of self
to the interests of others at the call of duty, constituted the
brightest ornaments of the feudal system, and still glitter (though
with feebler lustre) among the fragments of that system throughout
civilized Europe.

The Spirit of Trade, which has shattered feudalism, has impaired the
brightness of that principle which was the soul of feudalism. Nor
has religion yet succeeded in supplying the loss. Religion, which is
the bond between Man and his God, has less influence in regulating
his dealings with his fellows than Honour, which is the bond between
man and man.*

[footnote] *In making this observation, I refer to the general
conduct of the World; and am far from intending to say, that honour
ought to have more influence with mankind than religion. The truly
religious, a small but sacred band, "do justly, love mercy, and walk
humbly with God."

And when the principle of honour loses its purity, you may be sure
that the principle of religion is already decayed or dead. Now the
principle of honour being (so to speak) of human origin, depends
greatly for existence upon the opinions of men; and when we are
emancipated from all great regard for those opinions, it almost
inevitably follows that our sense of honour becomes much impaired;
and having no longer any fear of censure, we no longer have any
feeling of shame.

In a colony, then, is most apparent the accursed Spirit of Trade --
that insidious spirit which undermines the truth of the heart, which
destroys its most generous impulses, and sneers at every
manifestation of disinterestedness. The first object of a colonist
is that of a petty shopkeeper, -- to grasp at every thing which is
likely to benefit himself, without regard to justice, religion, or
honour. His own interest is the only guide of his actions, and
becomes the very soul of his existence. He came out to make a
fortune, if possible, and he thinks himself justified in using every
means to this end. Do not suppose that he is a downright villain who
would commit highway robbery. He would be greatly shocked at such an
imputation, for his conscience is still too timid for so flagrant a
crime. He merely follows the golden maxim of 'caveat emptor', and,
like the petty shopkeeper, thinks he is justified in cheating those
who are too stupid to look after their own interests, and too
ignorant or too feeble to enforce their just dues.

When that nice sense of honour which rules the conduct of the
high-minded gentleman, and makes him scorn to take advantage of the
ignorance or the necessities of another, ceases to influence, the
accursed spirit becomes dominant, and men look with suspicion on all
around them.

It has become the pride and the boast of colonists, as of
horse-dealers, that they are sharp fellows; that they have cut their
eye-teeth, and are remarkably wide-awake. These honourable
distinctions are acknowledged by the simple-minded with alarm. They
feel like men involved among a mob, and instinctively button up their

The moral thermometer in a colony is lamentably low.

We do not, however, look upon this state of things as irremediable,
and without hope; on the contrary, we doubt not but the Better Spirit
will in time resume its pre-eminence, and colonists will be respected
for their elevated sentiments and high sense of honour, rather than
for their acuteness in driving a bargain. This evil, which is the
natural consequence of their present condition as isolated atoms,
unconnected together by those bonds of mutual respect which confine
men in older countries, will cease as society becomes re-organized,
and men feel themselves occupying in a colony the same position, as
regards obligations and duties, that they would have filled in the
parent state. As they settle themselves more firmly in their places,
they will come to feel that respect which ever attaches to the
character of HOME; and conscious that example is necessary from men
who occupy prominent positions, a higher tone will insensibly be
assumed, and the Better Spirit again be diffused throughout all the
ramifications of society. But to this end, it is most essential that
every aid should be given that Government has the power to bestow.
Religious instruction, and that good example which, we may assume, is
ever afforded to society by the English clergy, are the principal
instruments to be sought. In Western Australia there are at this
time only six clergymen, who are scattered over a country many
hundred miles in extent. Many districts are, unavoidably, entirely
without the exhortations and offices of a minister. At King George's
Sound, an important post, no clergyman is seen from one year to
another. Human beings are born, married, and buried, without a
minister to baptize, to teach, to bless, or to give consolation in
their extremity. There is no bishop to consecrate, to watch over, or
to reprove.*

[footnote] *By the munificence of Miss Burdett Coutts, a bishopric
has been recently founded in South Australia; and the Western Colony
is for the present to be included in the same diocese. But when it
is remembered that there is no over-land communication between the
colonies, and the route by sea occupies about ten days, it must be
evident that this provision is very inadequate to our wants.

This is a state of things that must be remedied, or moral
improvements cannot be expected.

The Roman Church has been more thoughtful of her children in this
colony, there being now settled here a bishop, and about a dozen
priests of that persuasion -- reason the more for the active
interference of a Protestant Government to protect the spiritual
welfare of the Protestant community.

The next most important object is the education of the youth of the
colony. So soon as ever Government can afford the grant of a few
hundreds a year, free-schools ought to be established in various
districts. Such is usually the scarcity of money in a colony, that
parents cannot afford to bestow even the commonest education upon
their children. Of course, I allude only to the general condition of
society; there are individuals who educate their families in a
judicious and sufficient manner; but the great prevailing want is not
the less felt and deplored. Boys, the sons of men who have
themselves been well educated, are early made to supply the place of
labourers and servants. Hardy and manly in appearance, they are
naturally rough and uncouth in manner, and unhappily possess no
mental stores beyond those early principles of gain which have grown
with their growth. In their anxiety that their sons should do well
in the world, the parent's first object is to impress upon them the
necessity of making the most of every thing. Their early powers are
exercised in selling stores, sheep, cattle, or other produce, and
they are applauded in proportion to the hard bargain which they have
driven. If a man, threatened with law proceedings, is compelled to
sell his whole crop of potatoes at a ruinous loss, our keen and
knowing youngster glories in the opportunity of making a bargain by
which he shall profit to the amount of a hundred per cent., though
the seller return to his agitated family writhing with despair. The
malleable intellect of our youth is annealed by the Demon of Gain
upon the anvil of Self-interest.

National education is one of the first objects of a paternal
government. The course of study ought ever to be adapted to the
circumstances and position of the scholars. In the first years of a
colony, the human mind peculiarly exhibits a downward tendency. Few
men prove themselves in their new condition of life superior or equal
to the character which they had formerly borne, as pious, learned, or
humane. The circumstances which formerly so eminently conduced to
the maintenance of piety, the cultivation of intellect, and the
exercise of benevolence, no longer exist. Solitary and selfish from
position, men of naturally generous temper and good disposition, feel
their hearts contract and shrivel within them. Surrounded by a
sordid and selfish crew, they find no objects for sympathy, no
inducements for the increase or the preservation of knowledge, no
animating impulse to lead them forward in a good cause. Struggling
for a time in the net which is around them, they at length fall from
the edge, down into the seething cauldron, and become fused among the

'The tendency of colonization is to deteriorate.' The first object
of Government should therefore be to arrest this impulse, and remedy
the evil so far as may be accomplished. If the original settlers
degenerate in their moral condition, their children sink still lower.
When parents cease to feel the influence of those high and pure
principles in which they were themselves brought up, they naturally
forget to inculcate them in the minds of their offspring. What,
then, are the guides that direct these in their progress through
life? What can they be but Self-interest, relieved perhaps
occasionally by a few touches of Good-nature?

The young women inevitably grow up mere creatures of impulse. Where
are those high qualities which are necessary to give them their
proper influence over the minds and actions of the other sex? Where
is that powerful sense of the duties of their calling and position,
that is necessary to create confidence in the breast of the lover or
the husband? Where are those unswerving principles which alone can
keep them, through trial and temptation, in the right way?

Woman, alas! has lost her power, when she ceases to inspire
veneration and command respect.

It is the interest of every colony, and the duty of every Government,
to raise the moral character and condition of the people. The
necessity of this must be forcibly present in the minds of those to
whom the duties of legislation are intrusted; and as the most obvious
means of improvement lie in the judicious instruction of the young
generation, the attention of Government must soon be directed to this
grand object.



It is most undeniably true, "that there is no place like England,"
for men who are in "easy circumstances," and who therefore think no
more of direct or indirect taxation, and of those multitudinous
burthens which highly-civilized life imposes, than a besom-maker's
ass does of the load under which it daily journeys. But how many
thousands are there (children of sad parents -- Toil and Sorrow) who
find their utmost efforts scarcely sufficient to keep them out of the
debtor's prison! Continual gloom fills the chambers of their hearts;
the sun bestows its cheering rays in vain; and all the gay and
beautiful influences of the bright world of Nature fail to inspirit
him whose every energy is directed to the task of raising his family
beyond the threatening grasp of Want. In his few moments of
relaxation, when those whom he loves -- for whom he is toiling unto
death -- hang around him with gentle fondness; in those sweet
moments, when love unutterable beams through the glistening eye, and
tender solicitude watches the care-worn face, seeking to win one
happy smile -- even then, he dare not give himself up to joy. The
thought is never absent from him that life perhaps is ebbing fast;
the very labours to which his only hope of income is attached, are
gradually wearing him down to the grave; and when he is no more, what
shall be the lot of those whose beaming faces smile so sweetly? What
struggles, what miseries are in store for the beloved wife, and those
young and innocent daughters whose hearts are full of him! No! he
dare not give himself up to joy; he smiles in answer to their
endearments -- but it is rather a shadow than a sunbeam that passes
across his countenance.

How many thousands are there in England so circumstanced, who curse
the artificial state of society in which they are compelled to live!
In their profession or trade they are bound to keep up a certain
degree of appearance, or they are shunned by those whom it is their
chief interest to conciliate. The great bug-bear ever present in the
mind of an Englishman, is the dread of not being thought sufficiently
"respectable." Professional men and tradesmen depend for their
subsistence upon appearances. To be flashy is as bad as to be
shabby; the great object is to appear substantial. If you are rich,
you have less temptation to be dishonest, and may consequently be
trusted. Every man, therefore, who depends upon the opinion of
others, is compelled to assume the appearance of being comfortably
circumstanced in order to inspire confidence. Character is the
life-blood of Englishmen, but character alone will seldom extricate a
man from the slough of Poverty. In our highly artificial state of
society, something more powerful than character alone is required to
place a man in the road to fortune -- call it as you please, tact or

This necessity for keeping up appearances in order to move in that
rank of life which his business requires him to occupy, is the
heaviest tax imposed upon the income of an Englishman. How often
does it draw from him all his profits, leaving him to lament how
little he is enabled to lay by annually for his children! Many times,
without doubt, he wishes he durst retire to a cottage too small to
admit the visits of the heartless acquaintance who form his
"fashionable" world. Does their society afford him or his family any
real happiness? Is it not rather the cause of many heart-burnings to
him and to them? How much happier he feels he should be, had he
never looked abroad for happiness, but sought it only around his own
hearth! To see his daughters elegantly attired, would gratify him
extremely, were it not for the unwelcome reminiscences of expense.
But would they look less lovely to his eyes, or be less dear to his
heart, when moving about him in the useful performance of domestic
duties, clad in homely garments, and thinking more of him and home
than of visiting and display?

How economically, and how happily too, might he live, were his own
house his world, and his wife and children the only beings for whose
opinion he cared! But alas! these are the persons whose opinion is
of least importance in his pursuit of fortune. He must do as the
world does if he would secure its smiles, and is compelled to think
less of happiness than of gain.

Is such a man happier, leading such a life, than he would be as a
colonist? Here -- ever blessed be the recollection! -- there is no
necessity for sacrificing peace of mind to appearance. The man whose
conduct proves him to be of gentlemanly mould, is everywhere treated
as an equal; and though his occupation and mode of living be ever so
humble, he loses nothing in the consideration of his
fellow-colonists. The half-pay officer, or gentleman farmer, who
occasionally drives his own cart, or sows the seed which he has
purchased in the market, is not thought less qualified to act as a
magistrate, nor is less respected by the great and small in his
neighbourhood. His cares are all directed towards obtaining
substantial comforts for his family, and not towards making a display
in the eyes of the little world around him.

Conscious that he is respected only for his character as an upright
man, and that as every one knows he is not wealthy, it would be
ridiculous to affect the appearance of wealth, he wears the coarsest
garments with more pleasure than the finest coat, and draws all his
happiness from domestic sources. His sons and daughters equally
indifferent to show -- though the latter, at least, are always neatly
dressed -- are busied with their different duties, all tending to
promote the general comfort.

Happy family! -- how pleasantly the evenings pass in your society!
Gladly would I ride many miles to spend such pleasant hours, and
witness happiness so unpretending and real. How cheerful looks that
large room, with its glorious fire of Jarra-wood and black-boys, (for
it is the winter season,) and how lightly those young girls move
about, arranging the tea-table, and preparing for the evening meal!
The kind-hearted mother, relieved of all duties but that of
superintendence, sits by the fire chatting cheerfully with the guest,
whose eyes, nevertheless, wander round the room after a certain light
and dancing shape; the host, a man of eld, but stalwart in
appearance, full of hospitality and noble courtesy, appears in his
easy slippers and an old and well-worn coat, which formerly had seen
service in London ball-rooms. He discourses not only of the crops
and colonial politics, but of literature, and the last news from
England; for like many other colonists he receives the English
papers, and patronizes the 'Quarterly Review'. On the sofa lie the
latest numbers of 'Punch' and 'the Illustrated London News' -- some
four months old, of course -- for the ladies like fun and pictures,
whilst their father laboriously wades through a three months'
accumulation of the 'Times'.

With what alacrity the old gentleman rises up and welcomes a
traveller, who has unexpectedly arrived, and has just stabled his
horse, and seen him fed before he made his appearance in the parlour!
There is no beating about the bush for a bed, or an invitation to
supper. Of the latter he is certain, and indifferent about the
former; for having slept the last night under a tree, he feels sure
of making himself comfortable on the sofa, or on the hearth-rug
before the fire. And then the girls, who have no affectation or
nonsense about them, crowd round the new-arrived, and ply him with
questions about their young friends in other parts of the colony,
and whether he was at the last ball at Government House, and what
was most worn on that occasion -- until the good man, laughing,
breaks through the circle, declaring he will answer no more
questions till he has had his supper, and, it may be, a glass of
whisky-toddy screeching hot.

During the evening the girls sing, and happily they sing well; and
they take most pleasure in those songs which papa likes best to hear.
And the poor bachelor-guest, who looks on, feels his heart melting
within him, and reviles himself for the destitution in which he lives
at home. Suddenly, perhaps, horses at a gallop are heard to enter
the yard; and soon afterwards two young fellows, fresh from the
capital, come dashing into the room, full of spirits, and vowing they
have gallopped over on purpose to ascertain whether the ladies were
still living. Here is authority of undoubted value for everything
relating to the ball at Government House; and the merits and
appearance of every person who attended it are soon brought under
discussion. This naturally inspires the young people with a desire
to dance; so the table is pushed aside, and papa being squeezed
nearly into the fire, mamma takes her place at the piano, and bursts
off with the Annen Polka.

It may seem strange to you, dear reader, who have an idea that
colonists are merely wild beasts, that such things should be. But so
it is; and though people may dance the Cellarius with more gravity in
the saloons of St. James's, I question whether dancing be half the
fun there that our light-hearted colonists seem to think it. There
are no strangers in small colonies -- it is always a family party
dancing together; and consequently, people are as merry as if it were
Christmas-time all the year round.

Your fashionable people may pity them; but God help them, poor
things! In their dark and degraded state they seem to enjoy
themselves so much, that I should not like them to be put out of
conceit with themselves, or made to repudiate whatever gives them
innocent pleasure. Nor are they entirely insensible to the good
opinion of great people; for when they learnt that the Polka was
thought vulgar at Buckingham Palace, they had serious intentions of
denying it admittance into the ball-rooms of Perth; and I sincerely
believe it would speedily have pined away and died, like a maiden
under the breath of slander, but for a confidently entertained hope
that her Majesty would never hear of the offences of the people of
Perth -- and people will do all kinds of things when they can do them
secretly. So the Polka continues to be danced in Western Australia;
and the courage of the dancers has been much revived of late by
hearing that it is still greatly in vogue at home, notwithstanding
the august censures said to have been passed upon it.

A country life might always be a happy one, were people possessed of
the smallest competence, and of properly regulated minds. There is
as much unhappiness, or at least discontent, in colonies as
elsewhere; but discontented colonists are the greatest fools in the
world, because they have themselves created the evils, and the
remedies are generally in their own power. The grand object of
man's search is happiness, which he strives to obtain by a thousand
various ways. Wealth he covets, because he fondly believes that it
contains the prize he seeks; but if happiness may be found without
wealth, of what value are riches? Money is not so indispensable a
necessary in a colony. Very little indeed suffices to enable a
proprietor on the banks of the Swan, the Avon, or the Brunswick, to
bring up his family in comfort, and to perform all the rights of a
generous hospitality. The discontent which is so often felt in
colonies arises from two causes: first, it is the natural feeling of
those who emigrate late in life; who, although unsuccessful at home,
have ever been fondly attached to home associations, to the friends
and connexions with whom they have been bound up during many years,
and to the national belief that a man can never be truly happy out of
England. In addition to this, the emigrant of mature years has been
so long accustomed to feel himself living in the very centre of
intelligence, he has so long been accustomed to watch the progress of
political action at home and on the continent, and to drink the fresh
draughts of scientific discovery at the fountain-head, that now, when
far removed from the busy and exciting scenes of the ever-moving
panorama of European life, he feels lost in the wilderness -- a
fragment of drift-wood washed ashore and left far behind by the
fast-progressing waves of Knowledge and Action.

The second cause of discontent is found in the non-acquisition of money.
Every one goes out to a colony with the full conviction that he shall
make a fortune in a few years, and then return to England and become
a man of landed interest.

A man has to conquer his first disappointments before he can become a
happy settler; he has to form new and more just ideas of his actual
position. Generally, it is necessary that he should return to
England once more before he can entirely appreciate the advantages
open to him in a colony. He then fully perceives how much more
difficult it is to obtain a bare subsistence in the old country. He
finds that with the utmost economy he cannot supply the numerous
wants of his family, and he longs for his old Australian dwelling
again, and the easy, independent life which he was accustomed to
lead, when his children used to run about in brown holland, and his
wife looked becoming in printed cotton, and thought no beverage so
good as the wine which she had assisted to make.



Scepticism is the offspring of ignorance. There are many people
still living who doubt the existence of dragons; who go so far as to
assert that such creatures never did exist upon the face of this
earth, and never did torment and destroy the inhabitants thereof, and
persecute forlorn maidens. They scoff at the records which have
descended to our times, as fabulous legends, composed by idle monks;
who were accustomed to write fictitious histories during the dark
ages. They deny to historical ballads that authority which Mr.
Macaulay attaches to them; and yet the principal fact in the
biography of Andromeda (even before the times of the monks) may have
been true; and the poor people of Wantley may really have been
harassed by the celebrated dragon of that ilk. We speak seriously.

Geologists have ascertained beyond a doubt that winged monsters of
the size described in ancient legends did really inhabit this earth
at some period or other. Happily they no longer exist of the same
dimensions as formerly; like the descendants of Anak, they have
become 'fined down', as it were, in the course of ages, until their
proportions no longer awaken personal fear, nor do their exploits
engage the attention of historians. Sometimes, however, the ancient
ferocity, the propensity for devastation, still breaks forth, even in
the diminutive descendants of this formidable race, and persecuted
Man feels himself driven to the brink of despair.

Soon after I had settled at Perth, in a small house, with three
quarters of an acre of ground about it, I began to think of improving
my little territory. I thought it was a duty I owed to society to
set a good example, by bringing my property into a high state of

I intended to "make the barren desert smile" -- to embower my
dwelling in the midst of blossoming peas, and aspiring kidney beans,
-- to draw around me, as it were, a little luxuriant Eden, which
should be the admiration of a Sunday public, as they stood riveted at
the palings, unable to pass by without a lengthened survey; whilst
the envied possessor, stooping behind his magnificent cabbages, would
listen to their unstudied bursts of rapture with justifiable pride.
Glowing with horticultural fervour, I rose early in the morning, and
dug up the soil with stern resolution, toiling with a Patagonian
pick-axe at the great roots which ran in every direction, until I
thought myself a perfect pattern of a settler. My man also exerted
himself with equal energy and more steady endurance; and in process
of time a considerable portion of ground was got ready for seed. In
order that nothing might be wanting to insure the most unlimited
success, I purchased a quantity of manure, and had it drawn upon the
ground. Then it was that the Evil Genius who (like the wicked
Enchanter that always kept his eye upon Don Quixote,) hath ever
dogged my steps, made his baleful presence manifest by the most
rampant hostility. The day on which the manure arrived, I went out
in my pleasure-boat upon Melville Water, accompanied by my man
Hannibal, to manage the head-sheets. On our return, at dusk, we
found the manure scattered all over the premises, as if it had been
kicked about by a party of dancing demons.

The traces of talons were clearly discernible on the ground. I knew
not what to make of it. I thought a dragon must have been rampaging
about the premises. Well! the next day the man scratched the manure
together again as well as he could, and we sowed a quantity of seed
-- peas, beans, and divers succulent vegetables. The following
morning Hannibal rose late, having overslept himself, as he alleged.
I was awakened by his sudden appearance at my bed-side, but no sooner
sat up than I fell back again, appalled by the ghastliness of his

"The d---ls," said he, "have been again, and have scrat up the earth
far and wide; and (he added using a strong expression,) I'll be
dashed if there's a seed left!"

Alas! "'twas but owre true." The ground so neatly raked the evening
before, which I had returned again and again to look at with fond
pride, until it was obscured by darkness, was now torn up and defaced
throughout its length and breadth.

"Well!" I exclaimed, as soon as I could speak, "there are dragons in
the world."

I could now enter into the feelings of the poor husbandman of the
dark ages, when he got up in the morning, and found a dragon
finishing the last of his highly-prized dairy cows. If I could only
catch him at it! I felt immediately a fit of blood-thirstiness creep
over me. I could have destroyed a dozen dragons with pleasure, might
I only come within reach of them. Calmly, however, I ordered
Hannibal to sow the seeds again, and keep better watch and ward in

It now became a serious question how my property was to be protected.
Am I to be subject to these incursions without defence? Is there no
safeguard in this country for a man's possessions?

I finished breakfast hastily, and went to consult the chief
magistrate. To my question as to how I ought to guard my garden and
vegetables from the attacks of the insidious enemy, he replied by
referring me to the 2 Wm. IV. No. 2, a local act, by which people
whose property is trespassed upon, are allowed the privilege of
impounding the trespassers.

Impound a dragon! I thanked the worthy magistrate, "But," said I,
"the creatures that destroy my substance have wings, and are not to
be caught by men who have none."

"The law," replied his worship, "is decisive on the subject; you must
follow the law, whether you be able to follow the offender or not."

"But," said I again, "if the law gives me no protection -- and merely
to authorize me to impound a creature with wings, is a mockery
unworthy of the dignity of the law -- I may surely protect myself? I
will have a file of men on guard, and fire on any creature that
infringes upon the vested rights which I possess in my property. I
will defend myself," said I, growing warm under the oppressive weight
of the law, "and maintain my vested rights."

"No man," replied the worshipful justice, "as you know very well, has
a right to defend himself, except with the weapons of the law. You
will only get into scrapes if you fight with any other weapons."

Finding that I was kicking against the pricks, I made my bow, and
went home again in a very ireful mood.

Hannibal had resown the beds, and was at work upon others. On seeing
me, he stepped up to a fine Nuytsia floribunda, which ornaments my
grounds, and taking up a double-barrelled gun that was leaning
against it, gave a few significant slaps upon the breach, and smiling
complacently, winked his eye. I turned away and entered the house,
filled with a kind of grim satisfaction, as thoughts of vengeance
flitted through my brain. Too much disturbed to sit still, I paced
up and down the room, listening eagerly for sounds which should
announce the hour of slaughter and revenge.

The milk of human kindness had curdled in my breast; I felt that I
could sympathize with the restless anxiety of Charles IX on the
memorable eve of St. Bartholomew. But the butchery of unarmed
Huguenots was a different affair altogether from a war of
extermination against invading dragons. I looked out of the windows
every moment to see what Hannibal was about; but there he continued
hoeing, and weeding, and raking, and looking as calm and amiable as
the Duke when he awaited the proper moment to attack the French.
Suddenly he paused; I watched him quietly drop his rake, and retire
backwards behind a bush, where he remained crouching down, with the
double-barrelled gun in his hands.

Unable to remain quiet any longer, I opened the window, and cried in
a fierce whisper, "Kill! kill!" With his hand he motioned me to be
quiet, so I withdrew and paced about the room with feverish anxiety.
The discharge of both barrels made me drop into a chair. Murder had
been committed! Vengeance was satisfied, and remorse arrived as
usual. Remorse, the ill-favoured offspring of Fear!

"You will get yourself into scrapes," said the chief magistrate, "if
you use any other weapon than the law." I reasoned with Conscience;
I repeated the argument that I had a right to defend my property when
the law failed to afford me protection. Dragons, said I, are 'ferae
naturae'; the people of Perth, it would seem, are in the habit of
keeping them as pets, and thus they come to be considered private
property. But then, let the people of Perth destroy their own
substance, and not mine. If they do not choose to have gardens of
their own, they have no right to prevent the growth of my radishes.
Because they do not like sack, shall we have no more cakes and ale?
Because they can exist without cauliflowers, must I renounce all
hopes of having hyssop in my pottage?

What! am I to rise up early in the morning and sow the seeds of
carefulness and labour, merely for the sustenance of other people's

To whom am I to look for redress, when I know not to whom the
ruthless creatures belong? -- Creatures that wander far and wide in
search of food; that gain their precarious subsistence by plunder and
rapine; and are intensely hostile to the labours and improvements
of civilization. No wonder the poet looked upon them as hell-born,
and called them a pest and a curse to society: --

"------nec saevior ulla
Pestis et ira Deuim Stygiis sese extulit undis."

I had made these reflections, and received a good deal of comfort
from them, when Hannibal appeared at the door with a pallid

"Two of them, Sir, are done for; one's a big un -- eight pounds, if
he weighs an 'unce. He's a handsome feller, that un; black feathers,
and spurs to his heels six inches long. They'll make a houtcry about
him, I expect."

"What have you done with the carcases?"

"Dragged 'em behind the bushes. 'Tan't legal to lift the bodies."

"Go on with your work, Hannibal, and don't appear at all fluttered or
discomposed. Look as if nothing had happened. If any one calls, I
am not at home."

An outcry was raised about the death of the dragon. He was the
favourite of a young lady who was a pet of her papa's -- (next to
dragons, children are the most horrid nuisances). -- An accursed dog
(the D---l take all dogs! say I,) had found the body, and dragged it
into the street, where it was recognised by the girl. The papa,
furious at the sight of the favourite's tears, roamed and raged about
the town in search of witnesses. Men of Belial are always to be
found, especially in a colony, and Hannibal was openly accused of the

The whole town was in a state of excitement. People seemed to think
that a blow had been struck at the very roots of civil and religious
liberty; and as every one had his favourite dragon, every one felt
alarmed for its safety so long as Hannibal remained unpunished.

The ladies were especially bitter in their remarks and innuendoes.

I was told by 'friends', that more than one lady had observed, that
an old bachelor like myself cared nothing about dragons, and
therefore it was just like my selfishness to seek to deprive them of
their innocent pleasures and amusements.

No one would listen to my plea of self-defence; no one regarded my
losses; I was not looked upon as a sufferer; and instead of sympathy
received only abuse.

A summons being issued against Hannibal, he appeared before the
tribunal of two of Her Majesty's Justices of the Peace, accused of a
grave misdemeanour.

As every one knew that I was the instigator of the offence, I
magnanimously avowed the fact, and was requested to stand in the
place of Hannibal.

In vain, however, did I use every argument to justify the deed. The
chief magistrate reminded me that I had been fully advised to proceed
only according to law, under the Act, 2 Wm. IV. No. 2, amended (!!)
by 4 Wm. IV. No. 5; by either of which I was fully authorized to
seize and impound all trespassers -- a limit and license that
included dragons.

My defence was allowed to be a sensible and rational one; but the law
was opposed to it, and their worships were bound by oath to prefer
the law to common sense. (I doubted myself whether dragons came
within the Law, but the Justices decided that they were poundable
animals.) This being the case, I was under the necessity of paying
the sum of ten shillings damages, and as many more for costs and
expenses incurred by the bailiff, in travelling up and down his
bailiwick in search of the body of John Hannibal Muckthorne (whose
body was all the time sitting quietly in my kitchen) -- rather than
go to Fremantle gaol for a month, and help to draw stones about the
streets in a large cart.

I need scarcely add, that I returned home a wiser and sadder man.
"Hannibal," said I, "the Spirit of the Age in this colony is opposed
to territorial and to social improvement. My grounds must still
remain a barren waste. Instead of embowering myself in fertility, as
I had intended; instead of creating new beauties which should
transfuse fresh charms into the minds of the peripatetics of Perth; I
must continue to live in a desert, and shall doubtless soon subside
into an ascetic recluse. Hannibal! turn the horses into the garden,
and let them trample over the beds."

Thus have I reluctantly shown the reader that the dark ages still
cast their shadows over the city of Perth; -- the dawn of a high
state of civilization is still wanting there, where man continues
defenceless from the ravages of noxious monsters peculiar to an early
and uncivilized era.*

[footnote] *The laws which colonists make for themselves are often
as absurd as any that the Imperial Parliament thinks proper to enact
for them. To this day, the only legal remedy (except an action and a
shilling damages) against the winged and long-clawed nuisances that
destroy the hopes and break the heart of the horticulturist, is to
impound them.



[footnote] *A dry and humorous old man, who I cannot help suspecting
coins a good many of his anecdotes, gave me this account of one of
the early settlers, just as I record it. The fact of Blake's coming
to this colony, solely because he had heard there was an estate in it
called Skibbereen, (after the place of his nativity,) struck me as
being something truly Irish and original. The man's whole history is
given almost in the words of my informant, who professed to have
received it pure from the fountain-head.

Michael Blake was a native of Skibbereen, a well-known barony in the
"ould country." His parents lived in a hut, "quite handy" to the
road, in the midst of a bit of turf-ground where they managed to rear
their annual crops of potatoes and their sprouts of children with as
little trouble to themselves as possible. Michael, as he said
himself, was the youngest of four, but there were five younger than
he. As soon as he could walk, his mother clothed him in an old coat
of his father's, the tails of which swept the ground far behind him,
as he trotted over the cabin-floor with a stick in his hand to wallop
his favourite companion, the long-legged and long-snouted sow, as she
lay dreaming in the door-way. His father was an upright man, and
dealt equal justice among his children, whom he 'lathered' daily with
the strictest impartiality. This was all the education they had any
reason to expect, as the priest was always in a hurry when he called
at their door, and had not time to dismount from his pony, from whose
back he bestowed his blessing upon the tattered crowd of children as
they pressed around, and gazed upon his Reverence with their wild
grey eyes and open mouths. And their parents could not be expected
to give any other education than they had themselves received.

Michael grew up, therefore, as might be expected, a hungry,
dirty-faced, unbreeched, long-coated urchin. Although his parents
had done no more for him than to usher him into a life of mud and
misery, Nature had been more compassionate. She had bestowed upon
him a restless imagination, apparently for the purpose of removing
him from this scene of trouble as quickly as possible. It led him,
at an early age, to explore the passes of a neighbouring bog, where
he fell into a deep hole filled with water, and was just on the point
of escaping from the cares of the world, when his eldest brother
unfortunately came by, and fished him out. Their father seized the
opportunity, and lathered them both.

Michael next travelled in a northerly direction, and reached the
high-road with another brother, who was sent out to beg. Here they
both sat upon a stone and cried for their breakfast, until a
brilliant idea occurred to Michael, which dried his tears. He made a
dirt-pie, and presented it to his brother; and they both passed their
time very pleasantly, until an English carriage appeared coming along
the road. Little Pat ran forward, begging and praying their honours
to give him a halfpenny for the love of the Virgin, as he had been
carefully instructed to do by his dear mother, whilst his father took
measures to impress the lesson upon his mind and person. Michael, on
his part, made a vigorous effort to cross over to the other side,
crying lustily, "Please Sir, a halfpenny!" but his mother, in order
to give him a good appearance in front, had buttoned the old coat
wrong side before, and poor Mike, in his haste and hurry, happening
to put one of his little feet into the remains of a pocket, unhappily
tripped himself up, and rolled before the horses' feet. The post-boy
cleverly turned them aside as quickly as possible, but nothing could
prevent the hind-wheel of the carriage from grazing one of Michael's
shins, and making him squall out in the most dreadful manner.

A young lady and gentleman descended from the carriage, and showed
the greatest compassion for the sufferer, whom they caused to be
carried by a servant to his father's hovel, whither they accompanied
him, and soon relieved the anxieties of his parents by a present of
five golden guineas.

Some years elapsed, and things went on in the old way with the Blake
family. Mike had sprouted out into a fine gossoon of a boy, and
exercised his errant disposition by running after the gentlemen when
they went out shooting, and helping the keepers to carry the game.
One day, a gentleman who was shooting in the neighbourhood called at
his father's cabin, and asked for the little boy whom he had run over
in his carriage some seven years before. Mr. Blake, senior, after
blessing his honour for his goodness, and wishing him long life and
every earthly happiness called to the young spalpeen to get out of
that; and why was he not for coming when the gentleman was spaking to
him? Mr. Blake hinted to his visitors that he should correct the
manners of the youth at an early opportunity, and in the meantime
Mike slyly approached with a gun that he was carrying for the keeper
in his hands, and received the compliments of the gentleman on his
good looks.

The end of it was that the gentleman, who was an officer, took Mike
into his service; and in process of time, when he joined his
regiment, Michael became his constant attendant. Dying, however,
unexpectedly, as most people do, the worthy Mr. Blake, junior, was
left to his own resources; and finding nothing better to do, he
accepted a shilling from a friendly serjeant, and entered Her
Majesty's service as a full private.

In process of time he married a wife -- a real jewel, from that "gem
of the sea" so dear to poor old England -- and accompanied his
regiment to Van Dieman's Land, en route to India. He was well known
and liked by the officers, having a peculiar talent for blarney; and
nothing pleased him so much as a little conversation with a superior.

The regiment remained seven years in Van Dieman's Land, and then
passed on to its destination, leaving a number of men, who had
received their discharge, to become settlers in the colony. Among
these was Mr. Michael Blake, who soon established himself on a block
of land, and became a prosperous colonist. But times grew bad, ere
he could retire with a fortune. His wife formed undesirable
acquaintances, and Michael endeavoured to reclaim her by wholesome
correction; but, unhappily, he bestowed so much attention upon her
amendment that he entirely neglected himself, and before he was aware
that he was falling into error, had become an habitual drunkard.

Everything now went wrong. Mike, hating himself, began to hate
everything about him; he hated the colony; he hated the magistrates,
who now and then imposed a penalty upon him; he hated the laws, and
discovered the difference between law and justice, without being able
to find any traces of the latter. His fences fell into decay; his
pigs and cattle committed trespasses, and the neighbours made him pay
damages. It was the fault of the law, or rather of the lawyers, whom
he condemned to the flames with dreadful imprecations.

Unable to pay the storekeeper for sugar and tea, judgment was given
against him, and his last surviving cow was seized by the sheriff.
He had the satisfaction of beating the officer nearly to death; but
the cow was sold notwithstanding, and he took a month's exercise on
the treadmill, whilst his wife spent the time with her friend the
excise-officer, and drank to his better health and general

On being released, he complained to the Governor, and presented
petitions to the Legislative Council against the unjust judges who
ruled the land, and crushed the hearts out of the people.

Soon, however, softer feelings came over him; thoughts returned of
home, so long forgotten in days of prosperity. He wondered whether
his parents were alive, whom, forty years ago, he had left in the
barony of Skibbereen, and had not heard of since.

He thought of the home of his boyhood; of the antiquated cabin in
which, at the will of his father, he had so often "eaten stick;" of
the long-legged and long-snouted sow, that used to grunt uneasily in
her dreams before the fire; of the potatoes and salt for breakfast
and dinner, of which he never got enough; of the puddle before the
door, in which he used to love to dabble -- all these visions of the
past came back upon him now in the time of his sorrows, and filled
him with a craving for the scenes of his youth.

Every one in trouble goes to the Governor, who has consequently
plenty of morning-callers. A few words of sympathy from his
Excellency are very consoling, and serve the afflicted for a topic of
conversation for some time to come. "His Excellency, the last time I
saw him, desired me to write to my friends." "His Excellency
particularly wishes me to make it up with Smith, or I'd never have
forgiven him for seizing my cow." "His Excellency swears that he
can't spare me from the colony, or nothing should make me stay
another day in it," etc. etc.

Mike presented himself at the government-offices, and after waiting a
couple of hours, caught sight of the Governor as he was passing out
through the ante-room.

"God bless your Honour, it's bould I am to be stopping your Honour
and Excellency this way, and you going out too with the business of
the Nation upon your Honour's shoulders."

"What do you want, my good friend, what do you want?"

"It's your Honour and Excellency that's the good friend to me and the
poor, and many's the prayer that's offered up night and morning for
your Excellency, by them that blesses the Good God and the Virgin for
having sent your Honour to reign over us." --

"What is it, Mike, what is it? I'm in a hurry."

"And is it me that's hindering your Honour? sure and I'll walk wid ye
to the world's end and talk all the same. Och, and it's the bad
times that have come upon us all entirely -- and the ould settlers
feels it the most, as is likely. Faith and we'd all die off, out and
out, if it wasn't for your Excellency thinking of us, and schaming to
do us the good turn, when the Council (bad luck to 'em!) raises the

"My horse is waiting; I really cannot stay."

"Arrah, and it's a fine baste that same, and the two of you looks
well together, with the white cockatoo feathers, and the sword all
gould and diamonds."

Here his Excellency showed signs of mounting his horse, so Mike
hastened to whisper confidentially,

"Governor, dear, my heart's broken entirely for the ould country, and
the poor father and mother that's looking out for me night and
morning these forty years, to give me their blessing; and the woman
at home, the crathur, kills me day-by-day with her going on; and I'd
like to see ould Ireland once before I die, and Skibbereen, which
your Honour knows is the finest place under God Almighty's blessed
canopy, and I can't die in pace till I see it -- 'deed I can't,
Governor dear; and ther's a Man-of-war, no less than the Shannon
herself, going to sail for the Indies, where I'd get passed on by
Colonel Maxwell (God bless him for the rale gintleman!) only,
Governor dear, spake the good word for me to Captain Widdicombe, and
I'll be took to Calcutty free for nothing; and it's not a
tinpenny-piece that I have in the world, the blessed Virgin pity me!"
-- Here his Excellency, being mounted on horseback, felt himself in
more independent circumstances, and told Mike that he must not think
of leaving the colony without his wife, as it would be most improper
conduct (the Government would have to support her), and that he
himself had no interest with Captain Widdicombe -- His Excellency's
charger, being of an impatient temper, allowed no further time for
parley, but cantered off with his rider, leaving Mike rather at fault.

The more numerous the difficulties that appeared in the way of Mike's
return to Skibbereen, the more yearning became his desire to lay his
bones there. Every day he appeared at the Government-offices, and
waylaid the Colonial-secretary, or the Attorney-General, or some
other of the officials, entreating them to obtain a free passage for
an old soldier, whose only desire on earth was to die among the bogs
of Skibbereen.

He talked incessantly of that beautiful spot, and swore that he loved
it better than the Garden of Eden. He pined after Skibbereen as the
melancholy pelican pines for his desert home; but hope gradually
seemed to leave him -- all other friends had long since abandoned
him, and he had fallen helplessly into the power of his arch-enemy
the Rum-bottle, when a fellow-countryman arrived at Hobart Town from
Western Australia. Mr. Denis Maguire listened patiently to Mike's
pathetic lamentation over the lost Skibbereen, and then calmly
replied, "Och, but it's little that I'd disthract myself for a place
like that in the ould country; sure isn't there Skibbereen near the
Swan River, belonging to Mr. O'Driscoll, and isn't it a beautifuller
place entirely than any other Skibbereen in the world?" "What!"
interrupted Mike, "is there Skibbereen at the Swan River, and is it
Mr. O'Driscoll that's living there? Arrah! say that again, my
darling, if you plaze." Maguire repeated the statement; on which
Mike, starting up, began to dance an Irish hornpipe; and then,
stopping short of a sudden swore that he was the happiest boy alive,
and thanked the blessed Saints for all their goodness to him.

The next day he managed to sell all the remains of his property, and
made a bargain with the owner of a small coasting-vessel to convey
him and his wife (whom he was compelled to take with him) to Swan
River, where he arrived in due course of time, and managed to locate
himself at Skibbereen, where he built a hut, cultivated several acres
of land, and became quite a reformed character.

Although his landlord, Mr. O'Driscoll, was his countryman, Mike
managed to blarney him so that he did just what he liked, and never
paid any rent either in cash or in kind. His yearning desire had
been to live at Skibbereen, and now that he had attained his object
he was (wonderful to say) contented and happy.

He frequently came to Perth for the sake of a little chat with the
storekeepers and the gentry, and as he was sure to blarney some one
into giving him a dinner, he always returned home light of heart and
unimpaired in pocket. But alas! poor Mike was not destined to die in
peace at Skibbereen. A large party of the natives had suddenly
attacked the abode of a neighbouring settler, and put the owner to
death. Michael Blake and two of his friends, without waiting for
other assistance, hastened to the rescue, imperfectly armed. They
were overpowered in an instant. Blake and one of his companions fell
pierced with many spears, whilst the other, being on horseback,
escaped, carrying with him four spears fixed in his body. Years
afterwards, one of the natives who had assisted at the slaughter
coolly related the particulars of the death of Michael Blake.

When he was lying on the ground, said this man, he turned round, and
supporting himself on his arm, entreated for mercy in the most moving
terms. The savages stood round him, looking on, and listening
patiently to his address.

"Did you show him mercy?" asked my informant.

"No!" replied the savage, with calm indifference.

"What did you do?"

"We cut his tongue out."

"Wretch! what for?"

"He wongee (chattered) too much."

Poor Mike! his blarney could not save him; it had often before done
him good service, but the savages valued it not.



Having received intelligence that a numerous herd of wild cattle had
lately been seen grazing upon some extensive plains a day's journey
south of Perth, I got up a party with the intention of hunting them.

Our preparations were made the day before starting on the expedition.
A bullock-cart was loaded with fire-arms, kegs of brandy, various
kinds of provisions, and cloaks and blankets. A couple of natives
had been engaged to act as guides, and these, with their wives and
families, spent the greater part of the day lounging about my
premises, idly inspecting the arrangements, and sleeping in the
sunshine, lazy as the pigs, which they surpassed in filth. In the
afternoon, taking with them a supply of flour, they commenced their
journey, intending to sleep upon the road, and leave us to overtake
them on the following day.

At day-break the next morning we were in our saddles, the
bullock-cart having started during the night. The party
consisted of three, who were all clad in blue hunting-shirts, and had
polished horns hanging at their backs, filled with eau-de-vie, wine
and water, or the simple fluid, according to the taste of the wearer.
As we passed down the silent street at that early hour, one of the
party, an officer, agreeably dispelled the slumbers of the peaceful
inhabitants by a most able performance upon a key-bugle; the others
gave vent to the exuberance of their spirits by loud "tally-ho's!"
and cries of "hark away!" and other encouraging expressions addressed
to imaginary dogs. Then we gave our able steeds the head, and dashed
along with all those happy and exulting thoughts which bubble in the
breast of youth hurrying to the chase. Is there any moment in life
so dear to memory as those we have passed on horseback, in the fine
air of morning, when we hurried along towards the haunt of cunning
Reynard, and expected every instant to see him break cover? Less
exciting by far is hunting in Australia, but still it is hunting, and
we are on horseback, and eager as ever for a gallop. Passing over
two well-built wooden bridges, connected by a causeway, we crossed
the river, and took the road for the Canning.

Thick woods of banksia, wattle, and eucalypti, closed in the view on
every side; but occasionally we ascended a gentle slope, and then
looking back we could see a beautiful picture before us. In the
still air and misty light of the morning, Perth water lay clear and
tranquil amidst the vast forest by which it is surrounded. The
heights of Mount Eliza looked down into the glittering mirror. On
the right bank were the white houses of the capital; far to the left
we caught glimpses of Melville water. Except the occasional flights
of wild ducks, and the dark gusts which from time to time swept along
the waters, heralding the rising land-wind, all was still and
breathless. One could not help asking oneself how long this scene
had existed as we now beheld it? Was it designed for thousands of
years to be viewed only by savages, mindless as the birds or fishes
that frequented its waters? Had it always existed thus, or been
growing during centuries under the hand of Nature, until it should be
adapted to the habitation of civilized man? And was that period now
arrived, or were we premature in seizing upon our inheritance before
it was thoroughly prepared for our reception? Many times have we
asked ourselves this last question. This singular country appears to
represent the ancient character of the earth in one of the earlier
stages of formation. It represents that epoch when animal life was
first developed in the lowest order of quadrupeds.

There are a few small exceptions, but it may be laid down as a
general rule, that all the animals indigenous to this country are
marsupial -- from the kangaroo, the largest down to the little

The animals not indigenous are Man, the wild cattle, and the wild
dogs. Many speculations have been hazarded as to the origin of the
first: to me it appears there can be little doubt that the first
tribes found their way hither from the eastern islands, having
proceeded originally from India. The language of the natives bears
more traces of the Hindu than of any other. This, I believe, is the
opinion of the Rev. J. Mitchell, M.A., of the Middle Swan, whose long
residence in India, and intimate acquaintance with some of the
languages of that country, give weight to his conjectures. Many of
the words used by the natives of both countries are identical in
sound, and express the same meaning.

I have also noticed that the Coolies of India and the natives of this
colony manage to understand one another much sooner than is the case
between the latter and the whites.

The wild cattle have long existed in the interior, as appears from
their remains. Both they and the wild dog have probably descended
from animals cast ashore by shipwreck. The indigenous tribes are
those of the kangaroo, the opossum, and the lizard. It is curious to
observe how the distinguishing features of the first are manifested
in a great variety of animals, of all sizes from the kangaroo
downwards -- the long hind, and short fore legs, the three toes on
the former, the rat-like-head, the warm pouch, betokening the
immature parturition. The opossums also are marsupial. All these
animals seem to belong to an early age of the geological world. Many
of the plants speak the same language -- especially the Zamia. The
rocks, too, of this portion of New Holland are all primary, except
the limestone and sandstone near the coast. Is this country, then, a
portion of the world that has remained in the same state for
thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of years; or is it of
comparatively recent formation, exhibiting that condition which at
one period belonged to the whole surface of the earth? The latter,
of course, must be the case; and if so, we cannot help thinking that
further changes must take place in its geological character before it
shall be permanently occupied by civilized man. At present, however,
it must be admitted there is no sign of volcanic action going on to
effect these changes. Our conjectures are purely speculative, and
will probably meet with no sympathy from the reader, but we throw
them out because the subject is full of wonder and mystery; and those
who have brought personal observation to bear upon it, best know it
to be so. As we wander through the lacustrine valleys which abound
here; valleys once the beds of rivers, but now broad swamps choked up
with lofty reeds -- we feel as though we were in the land and the age
of the Saurians.

The whole country swarms with lizards, some of which, to the
northward, grow to the size of five feet; but the most common are the
'Iguana', or 'Guana', a creature some ten or twelve inches long, with
a flat head, very wide mouth, and only the stump of a tail. They are
perfectly harmless, and subsist upon frogs and insects. One variety
of this species, found in the district of King George's Sound, was
brought to my notice by my brother. It is usually found in a tuft of
grass, where it lies completely hidden except its tongue, which is
thrust upwards, and bears an exact resemblance to the petal of a
flower, crimson and pink. Flies seem to delight in resting upon this
deceptive flower, which being covered with an adhesive mucous
substance, takes them prisoner, and proves their destruction.

We have now had a long canter, which has brought us to the
neighbourhood of the Canning River. The country hereabouts resembles
a wild English park. The trees are all of the eucalypti species,
large and dispersed; the surface of the ground is level, affording a
view of the Darling Hills, which appear to be close at hand.
Crossing the river by a rustic bridge, we ascended the opposite bank,
whilst our trumpeter blew a charge that was intended to announce our
approach at a farm-house close at hand. As we rode up to the door,
the proprietor, attended by three stalwart sons, hastened to greet
us. He was a gentleman who had passed a good portion of his life on
the Continent, but having a large family to bring up had resolved to
seek his fortune in the Southern hemisphere. Breakfast was already
set out for us in a large room which served as the baronial hall of
the mansion; whilst our horses, partaking of the prodigal hospitality
of the farmer colonist, were tethered in various parts of a fine
field of clover.

Breakfast is a famous meal after an early morning ride, and people
have then not only good appetites but good spirits. Half-a-dozen
kangaroo-dogs, attracted by the clatter of knives and the tempting
savour that arose from the large dish of sheep's fry, crowded round
the open door, whilst they seemed to feel keenly the selfishness of
those who appropriated the whole of the feast to themselves. Every
now and then arose a howl of anguish from the group, as one of the
young men would arrive with fresh supplies of coffee or fried bacon,
and kicked a clear passage for himself into the room. One only of
the canine race was allowed to approach the table -- the venerable
Tip, who having formerly, in times of scarcity, earned his master
five pounds a-week by catching kangaroos for the market of Fremantle,
was now entitled to sit at his right hand, where a few morsels were
occasionally bestowed upon him, which he received with becoming
gravity and decorum.

Breakfast finished, we saddled our horses and proceeded on our way,
accompanied by one of the sons of our host. We pushed along towards
the foot of the hills, over a sandy country covered with scrub, and
trees of various magnitudes.

The birds that we saw were chiefly fly-catchers and parroquets; and
occasionally the wild turkey, or bustard sailing along in the
distance, made us sigh for a nearer acquaintance.

After a cheerful ride of several hours, having the hills on our left
hand, we crossed a few small plains; and understanding from our
guide, Tom H-----, that we were now at our destination, we began to
look about us for our bullock-cart, whose track we had noticed from
time to time as we came along. Our "cooeys" were answered by voices
not far distant; and following the sound, we soon came within view of
a column of smoke curling lightly above the trees; and on arriving at
the spot whence it arose, we found our man, assisted by the natives,
busily engaged in erecting a kind of hut, or rather skreen of boughs,
for our night quarters. The bullocks were feeding quietly at a short
distance; the cart was conveniently placed for being unpacked; and a
group of three native women and their children, squatted round a fire
of their own, about a hundred yards from ours, and busily occupied in
baking flour-dampers, signalled our approach by shrill cries of
welcome without rising from their places.

[sketch of "The Bivouac."]

Our horses were soon relieved of their saddles, and each man leading
his own steed by the long tether-rope which had been carefully coiled
round its neck, took it to a neighbouring pool to drink, and then
proceeded in search of the best pasture. Our animals having been
attended to, our next thought was of ourselves; and every one took
his bundle of blankets and cloaks out of the cart, and unrolled it
beneath the sloping skreen of boughs, and prepared his bed according
to his particular taste or experience; testing the accommodation from
time to time by flinging himself upon his couch, and ascertaining the
different vents by which the wind would be likely to prove annoying
during the night. These were next stopped up by handfuls of
xanthorea leaves, or by strips of bark from the paper-tree.

The lodging being pronounced perfect, and the sun being level with
the horizon, we hastened the preparation for our meal; and hampers
and boxes soon gave forth their stores of cold fowls, tongues, hams,
and meat-pies. Sausages are excellent things in bush-campaigns; and
as every man toasts his own on the point of a long stick, a high
degree of nervous excitement is felt by each, lest he should lose his
savoury morsel in the fire.

The kettle soon boiled, and as we ate our tea-dinner, the sun went
down, and night quickly swallowed up the short twilight, leaving us
to depend entirely on our fire, which presented a goodly pile that
shot forth cheerful flames, making the scenery around us bright with
light. The ground for the space of many yards glittered beneath the
flickering rays; the bowls of the tall trees seemed whiter than
usual; even the brown cheeks of the natives looked less dark, as they
chattered and laughed over their supper. Cold grog, or hot
brandy-and-water, was leisurely sipped by those who lay on their
couches in the full tranquillity of after-dinner ease; and as
digestion proceeded, songs and catches awakened the echoes of the

Tired at last, we sank to sleep, having first, however, visited our
horses and changed their tether. During the night I woke up. All
around were fast asleep in different postures; some rolling about
uneasily in their dreams; others still as the dead. I heaped fresh
logs upon the fire, which blazed forth anew. The natives were all
huddled under their wigwams, which are about the size and shape of an
open umbrella resting on its edge. The night was dark throughout the
forest, and overhead; the little circle of light within which I
stood, seemed like a magician's ring, sacred and safe from evil
spirits that filled the air around. It was as the speck of Time amid
the ocean of Eternity -- as Hope, bright and solitary in the midst of
unfathomable darkness. There I felt safe and secure -- but without
-- who might tell what spirits roamed abroad, melancholy and
malignant? Peering into that dark boundary of forest, the eye vainly
endeavoured to pierce the gloom. Fancy peopled its confines with
flitting shapes, and beheld a grinning hobgoblin in the grotesque
stump of many a half-burnt tree, on which the light momentarily
flickered. The ear listened eagerly for sounds in the distant
solitude; and one almost expected to hear shrieks of laughter or of
terror borne upon the night-wind from the recesses of the hills.
Evil spirits seem peculiarly the companions of heathen savages. A
wild, desert, and desolate region, traversed only in the day-time,
and rarely even then, by straggling barbarians whose hearts have
never known a single gentle emotion, seems naturally to be the haunt
of the Spirits of Evil.

Chingi, the terror of our natives, is often seen by them, as they lie
cowering under their kangaroo skins, and huddled together in the
extremity of fear, stalking giant-like and gloomy along the summits
of the hills, whilst the moon shrinks timidly behind her curtain of

On that night, however, there was no moon, and Chingi was not visible
to me, nor did any sound break in upon the silence of the forest,
save that of our horses eating their food, and giving an occasional
snort as the sand affected their nostrils. Anxious to behold any
spirits that might please to be visible, I walked to the spot
occupied by my quadruped, with the intention of changing his
quarters; but finding him comfortably stretched in repose, I left him
to dream of his own distant manger and two quarterns of oats, and
returned to my couch. The appearance of the bivouac, to one viewing
it from the surrounding darkness, was very picturesque. Every object
was lighted up by the cheerful blaze -- the cart with its packages in
or about it, the sleepers in their blue or red woollen shirts, under
the sloping roof, their guns leaning against the uprights, their
shot-belts and pouches hanging in front -- the kangaroo-dogs lying
round the fire, and as near to it as possible -- the surrounding
trees and shrubs glittering with a silvery light, their evergreen
foliage rustling at the breath of the soft land-breeze -- altogether
formed a striking and peculiar scene.

Next morning we were up before the sun, and having breakfasted,
proceeded on horseback in search of the herd of wild cattle, which we
knew, from the reports of natives, to be somewhere in the
neighbourhood. We rode down an extensive plain, covered plentifully
with grass, and presenting numerous clumps of trees, which afforded
shelter to bronze-winged pigeons and immense flights of white
cockatoos. The latter screamed fearfully as we drew nigh, but did
not remain long enough to allow us the chance of a shot. Many tracks
of the cattle were visible, traversing these plains in every
direction; but on reaching a small pool, we found such recent traces
as led us to believe the animals could not be far distant. Remaining
stationary for a few moments, we allowed the two natives who
accompanied us to ascertain the direction in which the herd had
wandered, and their signs soon led us to follow in profound silence.
The natives walked rapidly ahead; the tracks were very apparent, and
we were all in high glee, and growing extremely excited. The sun
shone brightly, but as it was in the month of May, the air was mild
and pleasant, without being hot. After proceeding along the plains
for several miles we came to a thick jungle, through which the cattle
had formed a path. The interior presented a rocky area of
considerable extent. Fragments of rock lay jostled together, among
which trees and shrubs appeared, and here and there an open space
afforded room for the herbage which had tempted the cattle into this
rough scene. In parts where grass refused to grow, beautiful purple
flowers raised their heads in clusters -- and ever in the most rugged
and barren spots the gayest flowers are found to bloom. How grateful
do we feel to Nature for bestowing such charms upon the wild desert!
cheering our spirits with a sense of the beautiful, that else would
droop and despond as we journeyed through the lone and dreary waste.

Although we sometimes proceeded over a surface of bare rock, and at
others over large and loose stones, where no foot-print was visible
to the eye of a white man, the natives never failed to discover the
traces which they sought with unerring sagacity. After a ride of
nearly two hours we observed one of the natives making signs to us to
halt. "There they are!" passed in eager whispers from one to the
other. Before us was a belt of wood, through which we could perceive
about a dozen cattle grazing on a broad plain.

Already they had a suspicion of danger, and began to look around
them. One of the natives, with my double-barrelled gun loaded with
heavy ball was creeping toward them through the grass upon his hands
and knees, whilst we cautiously drew up at the side of the wood.

The herd consisted of a huge mouse-coloured bull, with an enormous
hunch on his shoulders, and about a dozen cows, with a few calves.
The bull came slowly towards us, muttering low bellows, and shaking
his fierce head and ponderous neck, on which grew a short, black
mane. From some unexplained cause or other the native fired his gun
before the animal was within range, and the bull, being a beast of
discretion, stopped short, as though extremely surprised, and after a
little hesitation, turned round and rejoined his female friends. The
whole herd then began to trot off at a slow pace across the plain,
which was thereabout a mile broad. We were now all eagerness for the
pursuit; and Tom H-----, the most experienced of the party, calling
on us to follow him, dashed off at right angles from the herd, and
outside the belt of wood, in the belief that he would be able to head
the animals by a little manoeuvring; but at the instant he started
the old bull turned short on his course, and made across the plain in
a new direction. I happened to be the last of our party, and was the
only one who perceived this new disposition of the enemy. Anxious to
be the first in the melee, I allowed my friends to gallop off, and
dashed myself through the wood directly in pursuit of the herd.
Thinking there was no time to lose, I waited not for my gun, but
resolved to trust to the pistols in my holsters.

The cattle, who had begun their retreat at a steady trot, increased
their speed as they saw me gallopping up to them. I was afraid of
their crossing the plain, and escaping in the thick forest beyond,
and so pushed my good horse to his utmost speed. He seemed to be as
much excited as myself, and in a few minutes I headed the herd, and
tried to turn them back; but they would not deviate from their
course, and would have rushed through a regiment of foot, had it been
in their way: I therefore avoided the old bull, who came charging
along at the head of the phalanx, and found myself in the midst of
the herd. It was a moment of delightful excitement; some skill was
required to avoid the hurtling forest of horns, but I turned round
and gallopped with the mass; and having perfect confidence in my
horse and horsemanship, I felt that I could pick out any of the
animals I pleased. My gun, however, was wanting to bring the huge
bull to his bearings. He looked so enormous as I gallopped alongside
of him, that I despaired of making any impression with a pistol, and
resolved to limit my ambition to the slaughter of one of the cows.
We were now across the plain, the bull had entered the forest, and
the others were in the act of doing the same, when I rode against the
outside cow, in the hope of turning her away from the thick cover,
and keeping her in the open plain. She would not, however, turn
aside, and I fired my first pistol at her eye, and though I only
grazed her cheek, succeeded in separating her from her companions,
and turning her up the long plain. At this moment four
kangaroo-dogs, (a cross between a greyhound and a blood-hound, bold,
powerful, and swift,) that had followed me in the chase, but had only
gallopped alongside of the cattle, finding me seriously engaged with
one of the number, made a simultaneous dash at the unfortunate cow,
and endeavoured to impede her career by barking, and biting at her
nostrils, dew-lap, and flanks.

It was a fine sight to see these four noble hounds chasing away on
either side of the animal, whilst she, every now and then, stooped
low her head and made a dash at them, without pausing in her career.
Away she went at a slapping pace, keeping me on the gallop. Fearful
of hurting the dogs, I refrained from firing for some time, but at
length got a chance, and aimed a ball behind her shoulders, but it
struck her ribs, and penetrated no deeper than the skin. Loading as
I rode along, I delivered another ball with better success, and she
began to abate her speed. The rest of the party now came up,
cheering and hallooing, but the game had dashed into a swamp in which
the reeds and shrubs were high enough to conceal horses and huntsmen;
nevertheless, we pushed through, and found her on the bank of a muddy
pool, where she stood at bay, whilst the dogs barked cautiously
before her. She was covered with sweat, blood, and dirt, and
perfectly furious; and the moment we approached she made a rush,

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