Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The Naval Pioneers of Australia by Louis Becke and Walter Jeffery

Part 2 out of 4

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

With the blacks the governor soon made friends, and such moments as
Phillip allowed himself for leisure from the care of his own people he
chiefly devoted in an endeavour to improve the state of the native race.

AUGUST, 1788. Drawn by E. Dayes from a sketch by J. Hunter. From "An
Historical Journal of Transactions at Port Jackson," by Captain John
Hunter. _To face p_.84.]

As soon as the exiles were landed he married up as many of his male
prisoners as could be induced to take wives from the female convicts,
offered them inducements to work, and swiftly punished the lazy and
incorrigible--severely, say the modern democratic writers, but all the
same mildly as punishments went in those days.

When famine was upon the land he shared equally the short commons of the
public stores; and when "Government House" gave a dinnerparty, officers
took their own bread in their pockets that they might have something to

As time went on he established farms, planned a town of wide, imposing
streets (a plan afterwards departed from by his successors, to the
everlasting regret of their successors), and introduced a system of land
grants which has ever since formed the basis of the colony's land laws,
although politicians and lawyers have too long had their say in
legislation for Phillip's plans to be any longer recognizable or the
existing laws intelligible.[B]

[Footnote B: A leader of the Bar in New South Wales, an eminent Q.C. of
the highest talent, has publicly declared (and every honest man agrees
with him) that the existing land laws are unintelligible to anyone, lawyer
or layman.]

The peculiar fitness of Phillip for the task imposed on him was, there is
little doubt, due largely to his naval training, and no naval officer has
better justified Lord Palmerston's happily worded and well-deserved
compliment to the profession, "Whenever I want a thing well done in a
distant part of the world; when I want a man with a good head, a good
heart, lots of pluck, and plenty of common-sense, I always send for a
captain of the navy."

A captain of a man-of-war then, as now, began at the bottom of the ladder,
learning how to do little things, picking up such knowledge of detail as
qualified him to teach others, to know what could be done and how it ought
to be done. In all professions this rule holds good, but on shipboard men
acquire something more. On land a man learns his particular business in
the world; at sea his ship is a man's world, and on the completeness of
the captain's knowledge of how to feed, to clothe, to govern, his people
depended then, and in a great measure now depends, the comfort, the lives
even, of seamen. So that, being trained in this self-dependence--in the
problem of supplying food to men, and in the art of governing them, as
well as in the trade of sailorizing--the sea-captain ought to make the
best kind of governor for a new and desolate country. If your sea-captain
has brains, has a mind, in fact, as well as a training, then he ought to
make the ideal king.

Phillip's despatches contain passages that strikingly show his peculiar
qualifications in both these respects. His capacity for detail and
readiness of resource were continually demonstrated, these qualifications
doubtless due to his sea-training; his sound judgment of men and things,
his wonderful foresight, which enabled him to predict the great future of
the colony and to so govern it as to hold this future ever in view, were
qualifications belonging to the _man_, and were such that no professional
training could have given.

Barton, in his _History of New South Wales from the Records_, incomparably
the best work on the subject, says: "The policy of the Government in his
day consisted mainly of finding something to eat." This is true so far as
it goes, but Barton himself shows what finding something to eat meant in
those days, and Phillip's despatches prove that, although the food
question was the practical every-day problem to be grappled with, he, in
the midst of the most harassing famine-time, was able to look beyond when
he wrote these words: "This country will yet be the most valuable
acquisition Great Britain has ever made."

In future chapters we shall go more particularly into the early life of
the colony and see how the problems that harassed Phillip's administration
continued long after he had returned to England; we shall then see how
immeasurably the first governor was superior to the men who followed him.
And it is only by such comparison that a just estimate of Phillip can be
made, for he was a modest, self-contained man, making no complaints in his
letters of the difficulties to be encountered, making no boasts of his
success in overcoming them. The three sea-captains who in turn followed
him did their best to govern well, taking care in their despatches that
the causes of their non-success should be duly set forth, but these
documents also show that much of their trouble was of their own making. In
the case of Phillip, his letters to the Home Office show, and every
contemporary writer and modern Australian [Sidenote: 1801-14]
historian proves, that in no single instance did a lack of any quality of
administrative ability in him create a difficulty, and that every problem
of the many that during his term of office required solution was solved by
his sound common-sense method of grappling with it.

He was wounded by the spear of a black, thrown at him in a
misunderstanding, as he himself declared, and he would not allow the
native on that account to be punished. This wound, the hard work and
never-ending anxiety, seriously injured the governor's health. He applied
for leave of absence, and when he left the colony had every intention of
returning to continue his work, but his health did not improve enough for
this. The Government accepted his resignation with regret, and appointed
him to the command of the _Swiftsure_, with a special pension for his
services in New South Wales of L500 a year; in 1801 he was promoted
Rear-Admiral of the Blue, in 1804 Rear-Admiral of the White, in 1805
Rear-Admiral of the Red, in 1809 Vice-Admiral of the White, and on July
31st, 1810, Vice-Admiral of the Red.

He died at Bath on August 31st, 1814, and was buried in Bathampton Church.
For many years those interested in the subject, especially the New South
Wales Government, spent much time in searching for his burial-place, which
was only discovered by the Vicar of Bathampton, the Rev. Lancelot J. Fish,
in December, 1897, after long and persistent research.

Those by whom the services of the silent, hard-working, and self-contained
Arthur Phillip are least appreciated are, curiously enough, the Australian
colonists; and it was not until early in 1897 that a statue to him was
unveiled in Sydney. At this very time, it is sad to reflect, his last
resting-place was unknown. Phillip, like Cook, did his work well and
truly, and his true memorial is the country of which he was practically
the founder.



Admiral Phillip's work was, as we have said, the founding of Australia;
that of Hunter is mainly important for the service he did under Phillip.
From the time he assumed the government of the colony until his return to
England, his career showed that, though he had "the heart of a true
British sailor," as the old song says, he somewhat lacked the head of a

John Hunter was born at Leith in 1737, his father being a well-known
shipmaster sailing out of that port, while his mother was of a good
Edinburgh family, one of her brothers having served as provost of that
city. Young Hunter made two or three voyages with his father at an age so
young that when shipwrecked on the Norwegian coast a peasant woman took
him home in her arms, and seeing what a child he was, put him to bed
between two of her daughters.

He had an elder brother, William, who gives a most interesting account of
himself in vol. xii. of the _Naval Chronicle_ (1805). William saw some
very remarkable service in his forty-five years at sea in the royal and
merchant navies. Both brothers knew and were friendly with Falconer, the
sea-poet, and John was shipmate in the _Royal George_ with Falconer, who
was a townsman of theirs. The brothers supplied many of the particulars of
the poet's life, written by Clarke, and the name Falconer in connection
with both Hunters often occurs in the _Naval Chronicle_.

After Hunter, senior, was shipwrecked, John was sent to his uncle, a
merchant of Lynn, who sent the boy to school, where he became acquainted
with Charles Burney, the musician. Dr. Burney wanted to make a musician of
him, and Hunter was nothing loth, but the uncle intended the boy for the
Church, and sent him to the Aberdeen University. There his thoughts once
more turned to the sea, and he was duly entered in the _Grampus_ as
captain's servant in 1754, which of course means that he was so rated on
the books in the fashion of the time. After obtaining his rating as A.B.,
and then as midshipman, he passed his examination as lieutenant in
February, 1760; but it was not until twenty [Sidenote: 1760]
years later, when he was forty-three, that he received his lieutenant's
commission, having in the interval served in pretty well every quarter of
the globe as midshipman and master's mate. In 1757 he was under Sir
Charles Knowles in the expedition against Rochefort; in 1759 he served
under Sir Charles Saunders at Quebec; in 1756 he was master of the
_Eagle_, Lord Howe's flagship, so skilfully navigating the vessel up the
Delaware and Chesapeake and in the defence of Sandy Hook that Lord Howe
recommended him for promotion in these words:--

"Mr. John Hunter, from his knowledge and experience in all the
branches of his profession, is justly entitled to the character of
a distinguished officer."

It was some years, however, before Hunter was given a chance, which came
to him when serving in the West Indies, under Sir George Rodney, who
appointed him a lieutenant, and the appointment was confirmed by the

In 1782 he was again under Lord Howe as first lieutenant of the _Victory_,
and soon after was given the command of the _Marquis de Seignelay_. Then
came the Peace of Paris, and Hunter's next appointment was to the
_Sirius_. There is very little doubt from a study of the _Naval
Chronicle's_ biographies and from the letters of Lord Howe that, if that
nobleman had had his way, Hunter would have been the first governor of New
South Wales, and it is equally likely that, if Hunter had been appointed
to the chief command, the history of the expedition would have had to be
written very differently, for brave and gallant as he was, he was a man
without method.

When Phillip was appointed to govern the colonizing expedition and to
command the _Sirius_, Hunter was posted as second captain of the frigate,
in order that the ship, when Phillip assumed his shore duties, should be
commanded by a post-captain. A few days after the arrival of the fleet
Hunter set to work, and in the ship's boats thoroughly surveyed Port
Jackson. He was a keen explorer, and besides being one of the party who
made the important discovery of the Hawkesbury river, he charted Botany
and Broken Bays; and his charts as well as land maps, published in a
capital book he wrote giving an account of the settlement, show how well
he did the work.[C]

[Footnote C: _An Historical Journal of the Transactions at Port Jackson,
etc., etc.,_ by John Hunter, Esq., Post-Captain R.N. (London, 1793.)]

In September, 1788, Hunter sailed from Port Jackson [Sidenote: 1788]
for the Cape of Good Hope, to obtain supplies for the half-starving
colony. On the voyage he formed the opinion that New Holland was separated
from Van Diemen's Land by a strait, an opinion to be afterwards confirmed
in its accuracy by Bass.

The poor old _Sirius_ came in for some bad weather on the trip, and a
glimpse of Hunter's character is given to us in a letter written home by
one of the youngsters (Southwell) under him, who tells us that Hunter,
knowing the importance of delivering stores to the half-famished settlers,
drove the frigate's crazy old hull along so that--

"we had a very narrow escape from shipwreck, being driven on that
part of the coast called Tasman's Head in thick weather and hard
gales of wind, and embay'd, being twelve hours before we got
clear, the ship forced to be overpressed with sail, and the hands
kept continually at the pumps, and all this time in the most
destressing anxiety, being uncertain of our exact situation and
doubtful of our tackling holding, which has a very long time been
bad, for had a mast gone, or topsail given way, there was nothing
to be expected in such boistrous weather but certain death on a
coast so inhospitable and unknown. And now to reflect, if we had
not reached the port with that seasonable supply, what could have
become of this colony? 'Twould have been a most insupportable
blow, and thus to observe our manifold misfortunes so attemper'd
with the Divine mercy of these occasions seems, methinks, to
suggest a comfortable lesson of resignation and trust that there
are still good things in store, and 'tis a duty to wait in a
moderated spirit of patient expectation for them. 'Tis worthy of
remark, the following day (for we cleared this dreaded land about
2 in the morning, being April the 22nd, 1789), on examining the
state of the rigging, &c., some articles were so fearfully chafed
that a backstay or two actually went away or broke."

Soon after came the end of the old ship. She had been sent to Norfolk
Island, with a large proportion of the settlers at Port Jackson, to
relieve the strain on the food supply. The contingent embarked with a
marine guard under Major Ross in the _Sirius_ and the Government brig
_Supply_, and sailed on the 6th of March, 1790. Young Southwell, the
signal midshipman stationed at the solitary look-out on the south head of
Port Jackson, shall tell the rest of the story:--

[Illustration: CAPTAIN JOHN HUNTER. From an engraving in the "Naval
Chronicle" for 1801.] _To face p. 96._

"Nothing more of these [the two ships] were seen 'till April the
5th, when the man who takes his station there at daybreak soon
came down to inform me a sail was in sight. On going up I saw her
coming up with the land, and judged it to be the _Supply_, but was
not a little surprised at her returning so soon, and likewise,
being alone, my mind fell to foreboding an accident; and on
going down to get ready to wait on the gov'r [Sidenote: 1790]
I desired the gunner to notice if the people mustered thick on her
decks as she came in under the headland, thinking in my own mind,
what I afterwards found, that the _Sirius_ was lost. The _Supply_
bro't an account that on the 19th of March about noon the _Sirius_
had, in course of loading the boats, drifted rather in with the
land. On seeing this they of course endeavoured to stand off, but
the wind being dead on the shore, and the ship being out of trim
and working unusually bad, she in staying--for she would not go
about just as she was coming to the wind--tailed the ground with
the after-part of her keel, and, with two sends of the vast surf
that runs there, was completely thrown on the reef of dangerous
rocks called Pt. Ross. They luckily in their last extremity let go
both anchors and stopper'd the cables securely, and this, 'tho it
failed of the intention of riding her clear, yet caused her to go
right stern foremost on the rocks, by which means she lay with her
bow opposed to the sea, a most happy circumstance, for had she
laid broadside to, which otherwise she would have had a natural
tendency to have done, 'tis more than probable she must have
overset, gone to pieces, and every soul have perish'd.

"Her bottom bilged immediately, and the masts were as soon cut
away, and the gallant ship, upon which hung the hopes of the
colony, was now a complete wreck. They [the _Supply_] brought a
few of the officers and men hither; the remainder of the ships
company, together with Captain Hunter, &c., are left there on
acc't of constituting a number adequate to the provision, and
partly to save what they possibly can from the wreck. I understand
that there are some faint hopes, if favor'd with extraordinary
fine weather, to recover most of the provision, for she carried a
great quantity there on the part of the reinforcement. The whole
of the crew were saved, every exertion being used, and all
assistance received from the _Supply_ and colonists on shore. The
passengers fortunately landed before the accident, and I will just
mention to you the method by which the crew were saved. When they
found that the ship was ruined and giving way upon the beam right
athwart, they made a rope fast to a drift-buoy, which by the surf
was driven on shore. By this a stout hawser was convey'd, and
those on shore made it fast a good way up a pine-tree. The other
end, being on board, was hove taut. On this hawser was placed the
heart of a stay (a piece of wood with a hole through it), and to
this a grating was slung after the manner of a pair of scales. Two
lines were made fast on either side of the heart, one to haul it
on shore, the other to haul it on board. On this the shipwreck'd
seated themselves, two or more at a time, and thus were dragged on
shore thro' a dashing surf, which broke frequently over their
heads, keeping them a considerable time under water, some of them
coming out of the water half drowned and a good deal bruised.
Captn. Hunter was a good deal hurt, and with repeated seas knock'd
off the grating, in so much that all the lookers-on feared greatly
for his letting go; but he got on shore safe, and his hurts are by
no means dangerous. Many private effects were saved, the sea
driving them on shore when thrown overboard, but 'twas not always
so courteous. Much is lost, and many escaped with nothing more
than they stood in."

Hunter and his crew were left at Norfolk Island [Sidenote: 1792]
for many weary months before a vessel could be obtained in which to send
them to England, and it was not until the end of the following March--a
year after the loss of their ship--that they sailed from Sydney in the
_Waaksamheyd_, a small Dutch _snow_.[D]

[Footnote D: A favourite rig of that period. A snow was similar to a brig,
except that she carried upon a small spar, just abaft the mainmast, a kind
of trysail, then called the spanker.]

In this miserable little vessel Hunter made a remarkable voyage home, of
which he gives an account in his book. His official letter to the
Secretary of the Admiralty, dated Portsmouth, April 23rd, 1792, tells in a
few words what sort of a passage could be made to England in those days.
He writes:--

"You will be pleased to inform their lordships that upon my
arrival from Norfolk Island at Port Jackson (26th February, 1791)
I found that Governor Phillip had contracted with the master of a
Dutch _snow_, which had arrived at that port from Batavia with a
cargo of provisions purchased there for the use of the settlement,
for a passage to England for the remaining officers and company of
His Majestie's late ship the _Sirius_, under my command, in
consequence of which agreement I was directed to embark, and we
sail'd from Port Jackson on the 27th of March, victuall'd for
sixteen weeks, and with fifty tons of water on board. We were in
all on board 123 people, including those belonging to the
vessel.... We steer'd to the northward, and made New Caledonia 23
April, and passed to the westward of it. As the master did not
feel himself qualified to navigate a ship in these unknown seas,
he had, upon our leaving Port Jackson, requested my assistance,
which he had. In sailing to the northward we fell in with several
islands and shoals, the situations of which we determined.... No
ship that I have heard of having sail'd between New Britain and
New Ireland since that passage was discovered by Captain Carteret
in H.M. sloop _Swallow_, I was the more desirous to take that rout
from his having found two very accessable harbours in New Ireland,
where we hoped to get a supply of water....

"We passed thro' the Strait of Macassar, and arrived at Batavia on
the 27th of September, after a most tedious and destressing
passage of twenty-six weeks, during a great part of which time we
had been upon a very small ration of provision. We buried on the
passage Lieutenant George William Maxwell and one seaman of the
_Sirius_, with one belonging to the _snow_. My transactions at
Batavia will be fully seen in the narrative. I left that place on
the 20th October, and arrived at the Cape on the 17th December,
but being unable to reach the proper anchorage, I was on the 20th
driven to sea again, with the loss of two anchors and cables. On
the 22nd we again reached the bay, with a signal of distress
flying, and thro' the exertions of Captain Bligh, who was there in
the _Providence_, we were got into safety, and receiv'd anchors
and cables from the shore. My people being very sickly, the
effects of that destructive place Batavia, their slow progress in
recovery detained me at the Cape longer than I intended to have
staid. I sailed from Table Bay 18th January, but left five sick
behind me; anchored at St. Helena 4th February, to complete our
water, left that island the 13th, and arrived here late last

On the way home the _Waaksamheyd_ got into trouble with the natives of
Mindanao, one of the Dutch Archipelago. The rajah of the place would not
supply refreshment to the vessel, and her master threatened to fire upon
the native canoes, notwithstanding the remonstrances of Hunter. In the
course of the dispute the rajah lost his temper and attacked the
shipmaster, whose life was saved by Hunter, but the quarrel resulted in a
regular engagement between the natives and people on the ship, in which
the crew of the _Sirius_, for their own safety, were compelled to take
part. The canoes were ultimately driven off, with great loss of life to
the people in them, and the Europeans escaped unhurt.

Hunter's experience on this voyage taught him that the proper route home
from Australia was not north about, nor _via_ the Cape of Good Hope, but
round the Horn, and he wrote to the Admiralty to that effect, but it was
years later before sailors woke up to the fact. At the Cape of Good Hope
a number of English shipwrecked sailors were prisoners of the Dutch, and
Hunter's spirited remonstrance brought about their release, and for this
he was thanked by the Admiralty. A court-martial was duly held, and Hunter
and the ship's company honourably acquitted of all blame for the loss of
the _Sirius_.

When it became apparent that Phillip's health would not permit him to
return to New South Wales, Hunter (in October, 1793), who was serving as a
volunteer captain in Lord Howe's flagship, the _Queen Charlotte_, applied
for the position of governor of the colony, and four months later he was
given the appointment. Lord Howe, who had been his constant patron, thus
satisfying his desire to give Hunter an important command, and thereby
depriving the sea service of a very able naval officer, neither to the
advantage of Hunter nor the colony he was sent to govern.

"Naval Chronicle" for 1801. _To face p_. 102.]

In the interval between Phillip's departure for England (December, 1792)
and Hunter's arrival in the colony on September 7th, 1795, the settlement
was governed successively by two lieutenant-governors. These two officers
were Major Grose, the commandant of the New South Wales Corps, who ruled
until December, 1794, and Captain Paterson, of the same regiment, who had
charge until the arrival of Hunter. The New South Wales Corps had such an
influence on the lives of these naval governors of Australia that in the
next chapter it will be necessary to give a sketch of this remarkable
regiment; meanwhile it may be merely mentioned that the commanding officer
of the military, during the period of the four New South Wales naval
governors, held a commission as lieutenant-governor, and so took command
in the absence of the governor.

Upon Hunter's arrival he did not at all like the state of affairs. Major
Grose had permitted to grow up a system of trade in which his officers had
secured monopolies, and, as a leading article of this commerce was rum, it
can easily be understood in what a state of disorder Hunter found the
colony. Instead of the prisoners being kept at work cultivating the
ground, the officers of the New South Wales Regiment employed more than a
proper proportion of them in their private affairs; and the consequence
was, the settlement had made little or no progress on the road to
independence--that is, of course, independence in the matter of growing
its food supply, not its politics. Further than this, Grose's methods of
governing a colony and administering its laws were the same as those he
employed in commanding his regiment. He was not able to rise above this;
and under him martial law was practically, if not nominally, the form of
the colony's government. Paterson, his successor, passively carried on
until the arrival of Hunter the same lines as his predecessor; and the
consequence was, the colony existed for the benefit of the officers of the
regiment, who, by huckstering in stores, were rapidly acquiring fortunes.
A few free settlers had already arrived in the colony, and by degrees
emancipated prisoners and emigrants from Great Britain were forming a
small free population, and were beginning to have "interests." Thus there
were slowly growing the elements of a pretty quarrel, a triangular duel,
in which officials, free emigrants, and emancipated convicts had all
interests to serve, and which for many long years after was the constant
bugbear of the governor of the colony.

By the time Hunter arrived there were a number of time-expired prisoners
in the settlement, and these became an increasing and constant danger.
Retreating into the back country, and herding with the blacks, or
thieving from the farmers, they merged into what were known later on as
bushrangers. From these men and the ill-disciplined and gaol-bird soldiers
of the New South Wales Corps the peaceably disposed inhabitants were in
much greater danger than they ever were from the aborigines.

But although Hunter's despatches are full of complaints of the soldiers,
of the want of stores, and the need of honest, free men to cultivate the
soil by way of a leaven to the hundreds of convicts who were arriving
every year, he, like Phillip, believed that New South Wales would
ultimately become a prosperous colony. More than this, it was under Hunter
that Bass and Flinders did most of their surveying; that Shortland
discovered Newcastle; and to no governor more than to Hunter is credit due
for the interest he took in exploration.

Here is a picture of the colony in the time of Hunter's governorship,
painted by certain missionaries who had been driven by the natives of
Tahiti from their island, and who had taken refuge in New South Wales:--

"His Majesty's ship the _Buffalo_, Captain Kent, being on the eve
of sailing from the colony for the Cape of Good Hope, we embrace
the opportunity of confirming our letter to you of the 1st
September, 1798, by the _Barwell_. Here we have to contend with
the depravity and corruptions of the human heart heightened and
confirmed in all its vicious habits by long and repeated
indulgences of inbred corruption, each one following the bent of
his own corrupt mind, and countenancing his neighbour in the
pursuit of sensual gratifications. Here iniquity abounds, and
those outward gross sins which in Europe would render a person
contemptible in the public eye, and obnoxious to the civil law,
are become fashionable and familiar--adultery, fornication, theft,
drunkenness, extortion, violence, and uncleanness of every kind,
the natural concomitants of deism and infidelity, which have
boldly thrown off the mask, and stalk through the colony in the
open face of the sun, so that it is no uncommon thing to hear a
person say, 'When I was a Christian, I thought so and so.'"

This is strong, but it is true.

This letter was addressed to the directors of the London Missionary
Society, and many of similar purport written by Johnson and Marsden, the
chaplains of the settlement, are to be found in the records. All these
writers agree on one point: the colony had fallen from grace under the
military administration. Phillip had left it in good order, and Hunter at
the time, these witnesses testified, was doing his best to improve

Lang (not a reliable authority in many things, but to be believed when
not expressing opinions), in his _History of New South Wales_, tells an
anecdote of Hunter which is worth retelling. Captain Hunter was on one
occasion the subject of an anonymous letter addressed by some disreputable
colonist to the Duke of Portland, then Home Secretary. (There was no
Colonial Secretary in those days.) The Duke sent back the letter without
comment to Hunter, who one day handed it to an officer who was dining with
him. "You will surely notice this?" said the officer. "No," replied
Hunter. "The man has a family, and I don't want to ruin them."

It was this good-nature, this disinclination to fight his enemies to the
bitter end, that ultimately had much to do with Hunter's recall. A certain
Captain John MacArthur, of the New South Wales Corps, of whom we shall
presently hear very much, was, when Hunter arrived, filling the civil post
of Inspector of Public Works. He was also a settler in the full meaning of
the word, owning many acres and requiring many assigned servants to work
them and to look after his flocks and herds, and from some cause connected
with these civil occupations he came into collision with the governor.
This presently led to much correspondence between the Home Office, the
governor, and MacArthur. In these letters Hunter and his subordinate say
very unkind things of each other, which nowadays may well be forgotten.
The settlement was so small, the life was such an uneventful one, that it
would be wonderful indeed if men did not quarrel, and these two men were
naturally antagonistic to each other.

Hunter was an old-fashioned naval officer, sixty years of age, and fifty
of those years had been spent in disinterested service to his country, "a
pleasant, sensible old man," says a young ship's officer, writing home to
his father; and in another letter, published in a newspaper of 1798, we
are told that "much may be expected from Captain Hunter, whose virtue and
integrity is as conspicuous as his merit."

MacArthur was a comparatively young man, who had come to the colony less
with the intention of soldiering than of making himself a home. He was an
excellent colonist and a perfectly honourable man, but he was the very
worst kind of a subordinate that a man with Hunter's lack of strong
personality could have under him. MacArthur wanted to develop the
resources of the colony and improve his farm at the same time, and that he
had it in him to do these things is proved by after-events. The name of
MacArthur, the father of the merino wool industry, is the best-remembered
name in Australia to-day; but poor old Hunter could not recognise the
soldier man's merits, and so he added to his legitimate quarrel with the
meaner hucksters of his officials the quarrel with the enterprising
MacArthur; and, although there is no written evidence to prove it, there
is little doubt that MacArthur's letters to England had due effect upon
the minds of the home authorities.

The Duke of Portland wrote to Hunter early in 1799 requesting him to
afford the fullest refutation of a number of charges that had been made
against the administration of the colony. Wrote the Duke:--

"I proceed to let you know that it is asserted that the price of
necessary articles is of late doubled; that the same wheat is
received into the Government stores at ten shillings per bushel
which the settler is under the necessity of selling to the
huckster at three shillings; that spirits or other articles are
purchased by the officers of His Majesty's forces in New South
Wales, and retailed by them at the most exorbitant prices to the
lowest order of the settlers and convicts; that the profit on such
articles is often at the rate of one hundred shillings for one;
that this sort of traffic is not confined to the officers, but is
carried on in the Government House, although it is not affirmed
that you have any participation in such proceedings; that the
officers and favoured individuals are allowed to send large
quantities of grain into the Government stores, whilst those who
have only the ability to raise small crops are refused, and
consequently are obliged to sell their produce to hucksters at the
low rate above mentioned."

Now many of these allegations were true, for Hunter himself had written
repeatedly complaining of the existence of such abuses, and had been
answered, "Well, put a stop to them." Then he would publish a "Public
Order" or some similar document telling the hucksters they were not to do
these things; the offenders would go on offending, and Hunter would go on
publishing more "Public Orders."

Hunter received the above letter from Portland in November, 1799. Before
he could write a reply to it, the Duke wrote him another letter. There
were several pages relating to details of administration; but it might
have been written by a woman, for the last paragraph contained the
all-important part in these words:--

"Having now made all the observations which appear to me to be
necessary on the points contained in your several despatches which
are now before me, it is with my very sincere concern that I find
myself obliged to add that I feel myself called upon by the sense
of the duty which I owe to the situation in [Sidenote: 1800]
which I have the honour to be placed to express my disapprobation
of the manner in which the government of the settlement has been
administered by you in so many respects; that I am commanded to
signify you the King's pleasure to return to this kingdom by the
first safe conveyance which offers itself after the arrival of
Lieutenant-Governor King, who is authorized by His Majesty to take
upon him the government of that settlement immediately on your
departure from it."

The poor old governor was very indignant. He denounced in strong language
the "anonymous assassin" who he thinks accused him to His Grace of
conniving at the trading he was endeavouring to suppress.

"Can it be suppos'd, my lord, that a man at my time of life,
holding the rank I have the honour to be arriv'd at in the
profession I have been bred in, and to which I have risen by
virtue of a character never yet stain'd by one mean, base, or
dishonourable action--can it be conceived that after having by a
life truly and sincerely devoted to the service of my sovereign,
after having spent forty-six years of that life in constant and
active employment in all the quarters of the world, during which I
have risen thro' all the ranks and gradations of my profession and
at last arriv'd at the highly flattering and exalted office of
being appointed the representative of His Majesty in this remote
part of his dominions--can it be believ'd, my lord, that a man
possessing a single spark of virtuous principles could be
prevailed on thro' any latent object, any avaricious view, by any
act so mean, so low, so contemptible, as that of which this
anonymous villain has dared to suppose me capable, to bring
disgrace upon that elevated situation? No, my lord, I thank God I
possess a share of pride sufficient to keep me far above any mean
or degrading action. I am satisfied with what the Crown allows me,
altho' that, in my situation in this expensive country, is small
enough, yet, my lord, I am satisfied, nor do I conceive it
consistent with the dignity of my office to endeavour in any way
whatever to gain more, were it even in a less censurable manner
than that which has been mention'd. Let me live upon bread and
water with a pure and unpolluted conscience, a fair and
respectable character, in preference to rolling in wealth obtained
by such infamous, such shameful, such ignominious means as this
letter-writer alludes to."

It is a long while ago since this letter was written by a rough old
sailor, and its quaint wording may raise a smile, but Hunter was very much
in earnest; and if his failure to govern convicts and "officers and
gentlemen" who traded in rum is to count against him, leaving but a
contemptuous pity for a weak old man as an impression on the mind, go back
to his sea-days, when he fought the crazy old _Sirius_ through a hurricane
to bring food to these shore-people, and remember him for this closing
anecdote of his life:--

In 1801, soon after his arrival in England, Hunter [Sidenote: 1801-1821]
commanded the _Venerable_ (74). He was cruising off Torbay, when a man
fell overboard. Hunter attempted to put the ship about to pick him up; she
missed stays, ran ashore, and became a wreck. At the court-martial (at
which Hunter was honourably acquitted) he was asked whether he thought he
was justified in putting the ship about in such circumstances, to which
question he replied, "I consider the life of a British seaman of more
value than any ship in His Majesty's navy."

When he returned to England, he was granted a pension, for his services as
governor, of L300 per annum; was promoted rear-admiral in October, 1807,
and became vice-admiral of the Red in July, 1810. He died in Judd Street,
London, in March, 1821, aged eighty-three, and was buried in Hackney
churchyard, where a tombstone with a long inscription records his



The service of the Marines in the colonization of Australia was, as it
always has been, _per mare, per terram_, such as reflected the highest
credit upon the corps. They were not "Royal" in those days, nor were they
light infantry; the first title came to them in 1802, when their facings
were changed from white to royal blue, and it was not until 1855 that they
were designated light infantry.

The Marine force in the first fleet under Captain Phillip numbered,
including women and children, 253 persons, made up of a major commanding,
1 judge-advocate, 2 captains, 2 captain-lieutenants, 9 first lieutenants,
3 second lieutenants, 1 adjutant, 1 quarter-master, 12 sergeants, 12
corporals, 8 drummers, 160 privates, 30 women, and 12 children. The
detachment was drawn from the Portsmouth and Plymouth divisions in equal
numbers. This expedition to Botany Bay was a service more remote from home
than any the corps had before been engaged in, and the men so looked upon
it, as may be seen from the following tedious memorial, which one company
addressed to the officer commanding:--

"We, the marines embarked on board the _Scarborough_, who have
voluntarily entered on a dangerous expedition, replete with
numberless difficulties, which in the faithful discharge of our
duty we must necessarily be exposed to, and supposing ourselves to
be on the same footing as if embarked on any of His Maj's ships of
war, or as the seamen and marines on the same expedition with
us--we hope to receive the same indulgence, now conceive ourselves
sorely aggrieved by finding the intentions of Government to make
no allowance of spirituous liquor or wine after our arrival at the
intended colony in New South Wales. A moderate distribution of the
above-mentioned article being indispensibly requisite for the
preservation of our lives, which change of climate and the extreme
fatigue we shall be necessarily exposed to may probably endanger,
we therefore humbly entreat you will be pleased to convey these
our sentiments to Major Ross. Presuming, sir, that you will not
only be satisfied that our demand is reasonable, but will also
perceive the urgent necessity there is for a compliance with our
request, we flatter ourselves you will also use your influence to
cause a removal of the uneasiness we experience under the idea of
being restricted in the supply of one of the principal necessarys
of life, without which, for the reasons above stated, we cannot
expect to survive the hardships incident to our situation. You may
depend on a chearful and ready discharge of the public duties that
may be enjoyned on us. The design of Government is, we hope, to
have a feeling for the calamities we must encounter. So, as to
induce them to provide in a moderate and reasonable degree for our
maintenance and preservation, we beg leave to tender our most
dutiful assurances of executing to the utmost of our power our
several abilities in the duty assign'd, so that we remain in every
respect loyal subjects to our king and worthy members of society."

The request was granted, and a three years' supply of spirits was put on
board the transports.

Several officers of this force are entitled to be remembered in connection
with the founding of New South Wales. Major Ross, the commandant and
lieutenant-governor of the colony, was a captain in the Plymouth division
when appointed to New South Wales, and was then given the rank of
brevet-major. From the day of his arrival in the colony until his return
to England he was a constant thorn in the side of the governor. A man more
unsuitable for the particular service could not have been chosen. He was a
most excellent pipe-clay and stock type of soldier, and his men appear to
have been kept well in hand, in spite of [Sidenote: 1788-1792]
a service peculiarly calculated to subvert discipline, but there his
qualifications ended.

He conceived that the sole duty of himself and his command was to defend
the settlement from foreign invasion and to mount guard over the
prisoners. The governor wanted to form a criminal court, as empowered by
his commission, and to do this it was necessary to call upon the marine
officers to sit upon it. Ross would have nothing to do with it until
Phillip, by superior diplomacy, conquered his objections. Ross, in fact,
would have it that no civilian duty should be expected of him; and when
Phillip forced him to admit that the British Government had sent him out
to do more than mount guard, he quoted regulations and many other red-tape
reasons why he should not be anything but a soldier. To crown this, he
quarrelled with all his subordinate officers in turn, and at one time had
them nearly all under arrest together. During his service in the colony he
wrote many letters to the home authorities urging the abandonment of the
settlement asserting that it was utterly impossible that it could be
colonized. He returned to England early in 1792, and the Government showed
its appreciation of his value by making a recruiting officer of him, and
he died in that service at Ipswich in June, 1794.

There are three other officers whose names are familiar to most
Australians: Tench, Collins, and Dawes. The last-named acted as artillery
and engineer officer to the colony, and did incalculable service in
surveying work. He built an observatory and a battery at the head of
Sydney Cove, which, though altered out of recognition, still bears the
name of Dawes' Battery. Captain Tench wrote the most readable book giving
an account of the settlement, and as about half a dozen books were written
by different officers of the first fleet, this, if it is all, is something
to be said about him.

Lieutenant Collins is the best-known officer. He wrote an official
history, and was associated with the colony's progress for many years
after the marines went home. His book is drier reading than that of Tench,
but it is the standard authority; and all the history-makers, good and
bad, have largely drawn upon him for their materials.

In the memoirs of Holt, the "Irish rebel general," who was transported to
Australia, and knew Collins well, appears the following truthful account
of him:--

"Colonel David Collins was the eldest son of General Arthur
Tooker Collins and Harriet Frazer, of Pack, in the King's County,
Ireland, and grandson of Arthur Collins, author of _The Peerage of
England_, etc. He was born on the 3rd of March, 1756, and received
a liberal education under the Rev. Mr. Marshall, master of the
Grammar School at Exeter, where his father resided. In 1770 he was
appointed lieutenant of marines, and in 1772 was with the late
Admiral McBride when the unfortunate Matilda, Queen of Denmark,
was rescued by the energy of the British Government, and conveyed
to a place of safety in the King's (her brother's) Hanoverian
dominions. On that occasion he commanded the guard that received
Her Majesty, and had the honour of kissing her hand. In 1775 he
was at the battle of Bunker's Hill, in which the first battalion
of marines, to which he belonged, so signally distinguished
itself, having its commanding officer, the gallant Major
Pitcairne, and a great many officers and men, killed in storming
the redoubt, besides a very large proportion wounded. In 1777 he
was adjutant of the Chatham division, and in 1784 captain of
marines on board the _Courageux_, of 74 guns, commanded by Lord
Mulgrave, and participated in the partial action that took place
with the enemy's fleet when Lord Howe relieved Gibraltar. Reduced
to half-pay at the peace of 1782, he settled at Rochester, in
Kent, and was finally appointed Judge-Advocate to the intended
settlement at Botany Bay, and in May, 1787, sailed with Governor
Phillip, who, moreover, appointed him his secretary, which
situation he filled until his return to England in 1797.

"The history of the settlement, which he soon after published,
will be read and referred to as a book of authority as long as the
colony exists whose name it bears. The appointment of
Judge-Advocate, however, eventually proved injurious to his own
interests. While absent he had been passed over when it came to
his turn to be put on full pay; nor was he permitted to return to
England to reclaim his rank in the corps, nor could he ever obtain
any effectual redress, but was afterwards compelled to come in as
a junior captain of the corps, though with his proper rank in the
army. The difference this made in regard to his promotion was that
he died a captain instead of a colonel-commandant, his rank in the
army being merely brevet. He had the mortification of finding
that, after ten years' distinguished service in the infancy of a
colony, and to the sacrifice of every real comfort, his only
reward had been the loss of many years' rank--a vital injury to an
officer: a remark which his wounded feelings wrung from him at the
close of the second volume of his history of the settlement, and
which appears to have awakened the sympathy of those in power, as
he was, almost immediately after its publication, offered the
government of the projected settlement in Van Dieman's Land, which
he accepted, and sailed once more for that quarter of the globe
where he founded his new colony, struggled with great
difficulties, which he overcame, and after remaining there eight
years, was enjoying the flourishing state his exertions had
produced, when he died suddenly, after a few days' confinement
from a slight cold, on the 24th March, 1810.

"His person was remarkably handsome, and his manners extremely
prepossessing, while to a cultivated understanding and an early
fondness for the _belles lettres_ he joined the most social

"He had the goodwill, the good wishes, and the good word of
everyone in the settlement. His conduct was exemplary, and his
disposition most humane; his treatment of runaway convicts was
conciliatory, and even kind. He would go into the forests, among
the natives, to allow these poor creatures, the runaways, an
opportunity of returning to their former condition; and, half dead
with cold and hunger, they would come and drop on their knees
before him, imploring pardon for their behaviour.

"'Well,' he would say to them, 'now that you have lived in the
bush, do you think the change you made was for the better? Are you
sorry for what you have done?'

"'Yes, sir.'

"'And will you promise me never to go away again?'

"'Never, sir.'

"'Go to the storekeeper, then,' the benevolent Collins would say,
'and get a suit of slops and your week's rations, and then go to
the overseer and attend to your work. I give you my pardon, but
remember that I expect you will keep your promise to me.'

"I never heard of any governor or commandant acting in this
manner, nor did I ever witness such leniency from any governor."

Of the marines it has already been said they behaved fairly well. Some of
them were punished--six, as a matter of fact, were hanged for thieving
from the public stores, a crime then of the greatest magnitude--but the
crimes committed were by individuals, and offences were very severely
punished in those days, even in England. Read what Colonel Cooper King
says as to the life of a marine:--

"Some of the marine regimental records are interesting as showing
the inner life of the sea, or even land, soldier a hundred years
ago. In the tailor's shop in 1755, for example, the idea of an
eight hours' working day was not evidently a burning question, for
the men worked from 4 a.m. to 8 p.m., with one hour for meals.
Again, punishments were severe, as the sentences passed on three
deserters in 1766 show; for, while one was shot, the other two
were to receive 1000 and 500 lashes respectively. In 1755 two
'private men absent from exercise' were 'to be tyed neck and heels
on the Hoe half an hour'; while thirteen years later a sergeant,
for taking 'coals and two poles' from the dockyard, was sentenced
to 500 lashes, and to be 'drummed out with a halter round his
neck,' after, of course, being reduced to the ranks."[E]

[Footnote E: _The Story of the British Army_, by Lieutenant-Colonel C.
Cooper-King, F.G.S. (Methuen & Co., 1897.)]

Before taking leave of the marines the story of what happened when the
_Sirius_ was lost at Norfolk Island should be told. Lieutenant King, of
the _Sirius_, had been sent to colonize the island by Governor Phillip,
and was acting as governor of it, but when the _Sirius_ went ashore Major
Ross thought proper to establish martial law, [Sidenote: 1789-1790]
and so (the quotation is from King's journal)--

"at 8 a.m. on March 22nd, 1790, every person in the settlement was
assembled under the lower flagstaff, where the Union flag was
hoisted. The troops were drawn up in two lines, having the Union
at their head in the centre, with the colours of the detachment
displayed, the _Sirius's_ ship's company on the right and the
convicts on the left, the officers in the centre, when the
proclamation was read declaring the law-martial to be that by
which the island was in future to be governed until further
orders. The lieutenant-governor addressed the convicts, after
which the whole gave three cheers, and then every person,
beginning with the lieutenant-governor and Captain Hunter, passed
under the Union in token of a promise or oath to submit and be
amenable to the law-martial then declared. The convicts and the
_Sirius's_ ship's company were then sent round to Cascade Bay,
where proportions of flour and pork were received from the
_Supply_ and brought round to the settlement."

In June, 1789, the Home Government determined to form a corps for special
service in New South Wales and bring the marines home. Several suggestions
had been made to this effect, and offers from more than one officer had
been received to raise a regiment. Ultimately an offer by Major Grose was
accepted to raise 300 rank and file. The short and ignoble story of this
corps can be traced in the records of New South Wales, and Mr. Britton,
in his volume of official history, devotes a chapter to an admirable
summary of the annals of the regiment.

Grose was the son of Francis Grose, the antiquarian, who died in 1791.
Francis the younger entered the army as ensign in the 52nd Regiment in
1775; served in the American War of Independence; fought at Bunker's Hill;
was twice wounded; went home on account of his wounds; was promoted to
captain; did two years' recruiting; was then promoted a major in the 96th;
then raised the New South Wales Regiment; was promoted lieutenant-colonel
while serving in the colony where he, as already has been said, acted as
governor for two years between the time of Phillip's departure and
Hunter's arrival. In 1795, owing to his wounds troubling him, he was
compelled to return to England, where he was given a staff appointment,
and in 1805 was promoted major-general.

Nicholas Nepean, the senior captain, entered the service in the Plymouth
division of the marines, and had served under Admiral Keppel. He left New
South Wales after a couple of years' service, and joined the 91st, and was
rapidly promoted, until in 1807 he was made brigadier-general and given a
command at Cape Breton. He was a brother of Evan Nepean, Under-Secretary
at the Home Office at the time of the foundation of the colony; and the
Nepean river, the source of Sydney's water supply, to this day reminds
Australians of the family connection.

The only other officers worth noting are Captain Paterson, who had been an
African traveller, and had written a book on his travels, and Lieutenant
MacArthur, whose name has already been mentioned in the chapter on Hunter,
and will reappear to some purpose later on. The last thing MacArthur did
before leaving England for New South Wales was to fight a duel. The
_Morning Post_ of December 2nd, 1789, tells how in consequence of a
dispute between Mr. Gilbert, the master of the transport _Neptune_, and
Lieutenant MacArthur, of the Botany Bay Rangers, the two landed at the old
gun wharf near the lines, Plymouth, and, attended by seconds, exchanged
shots twice. The seconds then interposed, and the business was settled by
MacArthur declaring that Captain Gilbert's conduct was in every respect
that of a gentleman and a man of honour, and in the evening he repeated
the same expressions on the quarterdeck of the _Neptune_ to the
satisfaction of all parties. The quarrel originated in the refusal of
Gilbert to admit MacArthur to his private mess-table, although he offered
the soldier every other accommodation for himself and wife and family. The
Government settled the affair by appointing a new master to the _Neptune_
and allowing MacArthur to exchange to another transport.

The corps was raised in the fashion of the time. Grose received a letter
of service:--

"Yourself and the three captains now to be appointed by His
Majesty will each be required to raise a complete company (viz.,
three sergeants, three corporals, two drummers, and sixty-seven
private men), in aid of the expenses of which you will be allowed
to name the lieutenant and ensign of your respective companies,
and to receive from the public three guineas for every recruit
approved at the headquarters of the corps by a general or field
officer appointed for the purpose."

Grose made what he could by the privilege of nominating and by any
difference there was between the price he paid for recruits and the public
money he was paid for them; this sort of business was common enough in
those days. Later on he received permission to raise two hundred more men,
and a second major, who paid L200 for his commission, was appointed. Such
men of the old marine force as chose to accept their discharge in New
South Wales were allowed that privilege, and were given a land grant to
induce them to become settlers, and these men were, on the arrival of the
New South Wales Corps, formed into an auxiliary company under the command
of Captain-Lieutenant George Johnson, who had been a marine officer in the
first fleet, and who, like MacArthur, was later on to make a chapter of
history. The regiment at its maximum strength formed ten companies,
numbering 886 non-coms, and privates.

It may be interesting to record on what conditions the marines were
granted discharges. First they must have served three years (a superfluous
condition, seeing that the corps was not relieved until long after three
years' service had expired); there was then granted to every non-com. 100
acres and every private 50 acres for ten years, after which they were to
pay an annual quit rent of a shilling for every ten acres. A bounty of L3
and a double grant of land was allowed to all men who re-enlisted in the
New South Wales Corps, and they were also given the further privilege of a
year's clothes, provisions, and seed grain, and one or more assigned
convict servants, at the discretion of the governor. The only available
return shows that about 50 of the men, a year before the force left the
colony, had accepted the offer of discharge and settled at Parramatta and
Norfolk Island, then the two principal farming settlements.

The Home Government made no provisions for grants to officers, and as to
free emigrants, they were a class in those days so little contemplated
that the early governors' instructions merely provided that they were to
be given every encouragement short of "subjecting the public to expense."
Grants of land equal to that given to non-commissioned officers could be
made, and assigned servants allowed, but nothing else.

Any modern emigrant who has seen what a grant of uncleared land in
Australia means knows what a poor chance of success the most industrious
settler could have on these terms, and the early governors were in despair
of getting people settled, since they could not provide settlers with
seeds, tools, clothing, or anything else without disobeying the order not
to subject the public to expense.

Emancipated convicts, on the other hand, were allowed much the same
privileges as discharged marines. Phillip repeatedly wrote to England on
this subject, and he, on his own responsibility, on more than one
occasion, departed from his instructions, and gave privileges to _bona
fide_ selectors of all classes.

The English Government was perfectly right in the plan laid down. Its
object was to encourage those people to go upon the land who were prepared
to remain there, and military and civil officials were not likely to
become permanent occupants of their land grants. An opportunity, as a
matter of fact, was given to them to supply information as to whether or
not they wanted to settle. At that time things looked unpromising, and
most of them answered, "No." When it became apparent to the Government
that there was a desire to settle, further instructions were issued by
which officers were allowed to take up land, but the permission was given
without providing proper security for permanent occupation or without
limiting the area of land grants. From the omission of these provisions
many abuses grew up. A scale of fees absurdly small, seeing that fees were
not chargeable to military and convict settlers, but only to people who,
it might well be supposed, could afford to pay, was also provided by the
Government, and regulations for the employment of assigned convicts were
drawn up.

In Governor Phillip's time there was no authority to grant officers any
land; in Lieutenant-Governor Grose's time there was no limit to the land
they might be granted, and as little value was attached to the Crown lands
of the colony, lands probably of less value then than any other in the
possession of civilized people, Grose's officers, who had to do a great
deal of extra civil work, were given land in payment for that work. Much
abuse has been heaped upon Grose for his alleged favouring of officers by
giving them huge grants of land, but, as a matter of fact, Grose behaved
very honourably; and Mac Arthur, who owned more land than any other
officer in 1794, had only 250 acres in cultivation, and the grants to
other officers never exceeded in any one case 120 acres. If Grose's land
policy was bad, he was not to blame, but the trafficking which he
permitted to grow up and practically encouraged was a different matter

Phillip warned the home Government before he left the colony that rum
might be a necessity, but it would certainly turn out a great evil. Soon
after Grose took command of the colony there arrived an American ship with
a cargo of provisions and rum for sale. The American skipper would not
sell the provisions without the purchaser also bought the spirits. This
was the beginning of the rum traffic; and ships frequently arrived
afterwards with stores, and always with quantities of spirits--rum from
America and brandy from the Cape. The officers purchased all the spirits,
and paid the wages of the convicts who were assigned to them with the
liquor; not only this, but they hired extra convict labour, paying for it
the same way, and strong drink became the medium of exchange.

All this has been an apparent digression from the history of the New South
Wales Corps, but, as will be seen, the subjects are intimately connected.
A later governor, who found the colony not so bad as it was at this time,
said its population consisted of people who had been, and people who ought
to have been, transported. Little wonder then that the New South Wales
Corps, enlisted from the lowest classes of the English population, became
demoralized. Most of the recruits came from that famous "clink" the Savoy
Military Prison. They had little drill or discipline when they were
embarked for the colony, and the character of the service they were
employed in was the very worst to make good soldiers of them.

In consequence they became a dangerous element in the early life of the
colony; there were frequently breaches of discipline, there were cases of
downright mutiny, and their career in New South Wales ended in a
rebellion. The responsibility for the last crime, however, is with the
officers, and not the men. One mutiny was that of the detachment on the
_Lady Shore_ in 1798.

This ship was on her way out with female prisoners and a few of the better
sort of male convicts. The soldiers joined with the seamen and seized the
ship, turning those who would not take side with them adrift in the boats.
Among these loyal people were some of the male convicts. The boats made
their way to Rio Janeiro, whence the people ultimately reached England.
Among the "respectable" convicts was one Major Semple, a notorious
swindler of the time, who on this occasion behaved well, risking his life
for the protection of the ship's officers--from the soldiers who had been
put on board to support law and order! (He afterwards settled in the
Brazils, and received his pardon from England.) The ship was carried by
the mutineers into Monte Video and there given up to the Spaniards, who
later, finding the true character of the people on board of her, hanged
the ringleader and delivered up others of her crew to the English naval
authorities. The female convicts had been carried off by the soldiers, and
when the Rev. William Gregory arrived at Monte [Sidenote: 1798-1807]
Video (a prisoner of war taken in the missionary ship _Duff_ on her second
voyage), he found these women there. They had by their conduct given the
Spaniards a curious idea of the morality of Englishwomen.[F] Among the
rebellious soldiers were many foreigners, and when the mutineers seized
the vessel they announced that they had taken her in the name of the
French Republic. They addressed one another as "Citizen" this and
"Citizen" that, and behaved generally in the approved manner of those
"reformers" of the period who had been inspired by the French

[Footnote F: The _Duff was_ captured by the _Bonaparte_, privateer. Among
her passengers were several ladies--wives of the missionaries--and at
first the citizens of Monte Video classed them with the _Lady Shore's_
female passengers.]

In the chapters on King and Bligh the mutinies of this remarkable regiment
form almost the principal episodes, so we may conclude this chapter with
what short regimental history the corps possessed.

As the colony grew in population the corps was increased in strength,
until, in 1807, it reached a total of 11 companies, numbering 886
non-commissioned officers and men. In 1808 came the Bligh episode, yet to
be described. The home Government recalled the corps, and a battalion of
the 73rd, 700 strong, was sent out to relieve it. Authority was, however,
given to make up the 73rd to the strength of 1000 by taking volunteers
from the corps. This was done, and a veteran company was also formed, and
the strength of the 73rd then reached a total of 1234 soldiers, of whom
something like 500 men originally belonged to the New South Wales Corps.
The remainder of the old corps went home, and was placed on the army list
as the 102nd Regiment. Before this its official title was the New South
Wales Corps, but the newspapers of the day often varied this by calling it
the Botany Bay Rangers and similar appropriate names.

The 102nd served at various home stations until 1812, when it was sent to
the Bermudas, and in 1814 took part in an expedition against Mosse Island,
in America. In 1816 the 102nd became the 100th [Sidenote: 1823-1870]
Regiment; and on the 24th of March, 1818, the regiment was disbanded, and
the regiments which were afterwards thus numbered have no connection with

The veteran company lasted until 1823, being linked to each regiment of
foot that came out to the Australian station. The 73rd was followed by the
46th; then came the 48th, and soon afterwards the New South Wales Veteran
Company, as it was called, was abolished. Imperial troops from that time
onward garrisoned the Australian colonies until 1870, when they were
withdrawn, and their places taken by the permanent artillery regiment, the
militia, and the volunteer forces, raised under constitutional government.



For the reason that all the contemporary historians were officers, and
their writings little more than official accounts of the colonization of
Australia, the personality of the naval governors never stands out from
their pages. The German blood in Phillip seems to have made him a
peculiarly self-contained man; the respect due to Hunter, as a fine type
of the old sea-dog, just saves him from being laughed at in his
gubernatorial capacity; King, however, by pure force of character, is more
sharply defined. In reading of his work we learn something of the man
himself; and of all Phillip's subordinates in the beginning of things
Australian, he, and he alone, was the friend of his cold, reserved chief.

Philip Gidley King was twenty years younger than Phillip, and was thirty
years of age when he, in 1786, joined the _Sirius_ as second lieutenant.
In a statement of his services sent by himself to the Admiralty in 1790,
he supplied the following particulars:--

"Served in the East Indies from the year 1770 to 1774 on board His
Majesty's sloop and ships _Swallow, Dolphin_, and _Prudent_; in
North America in His Majesty's ships _Liverpool, Virginia,
Princess_, and _Renown_ from the year 1775 to 1779. I was made a
lieutenant into the last ship by Mr. Byron November 26th, 1778. On
Channel service, Gibraltar, and Lisbon, in His Majesty's sloop and
ship _Kite_ and _Ariadne_ from 1780 to 1783; in the East Indies in
His Majesty's ship _Europe_ from 1783 to 1785; in New South Wales
in His Majesty's ship the _Sirius_ from 1786 to 1790. This time
includes the ship being put in commission, and my stay at Norfolk
Island to this date. In His Majesty's service twenty years; twelve
years a lieutenant."

King had entered the service when he was twelve years of age, and
was previously under Phillip in the _Europe_. He was probably the
best educated of the officers in the first fleet, and from his
knowledge of French there happened an episode which is a matter
not only of Australian, but of European, interest.

While the first fleet were lying at anchor in Botany Bay, two
strange sail were seen in the offing. That official historian,
Tench, of the marines, in a little touch of descriptive ability,
which he sometimes displayed, described the incident:--

"The thoughts of removal" (in search of a better site for a
settlement) "banished sleep, so that I rose at the first dawn of
the morning. But judge of my surprise on hearing from a sergeant,
who ran down almost breathlessly to the cabin where I was
dressing, that a ship was seen off the harbour's mouth. At first I
only laughed, but knowing the man who spoke to me to be of great
veracity, and hearing him repeat his information, I flew upon
deck; and I had barely set my foot, when the cry of 'Another
sail!' struck on my astonished ear. Confounded by a thousand ideas
which arose in my mind in an instant, I sprang upon the baracado,
and plainly descried two ships of considerable size standing in
for the mouth of the bay. By this time the alarm had become
general, and everyone appeared in conjecture. Now they were
Dutchmen sent to dispossess us, and the moment after storeships
from England with supplies for the settlement. The improbabilities
which attended both these conclusions were sunk in the agitation
of the moment. It was by Governor Phillip that this mystery was at
length unravelled, and the cause of the alarm pronounced to be two
French ships, which, it was recollected, were on a voyage of
discovery in the Southern Hemisphere. Thus were our doubts cleared
up, and our apprehensions banished."

[Illustration: GOVERNOR KING. From a heliotype published in "The
Historical Records of New South Wales" [Sydney, 1889, etc.], after a
portrait in the possession of the Hon. P.G. King. _To face p_. 138.]

The two ships were the _Boussole_ and the _Astrolabe_, the French
expedition under the illstarred La Perouse. Phillip was at Port Jackson
selecting a site for the settlement, and the English ships, before the
Frenchmen had swung to their anchors, were on their way round to the new
harbour. But certain courtesies were exchanged between the representatives
of the two nations, and King was the officer employed to transact business
with them. La Perouse gave him despatches to send home by the returning
transports. These letters and the words spoken to and recorded by King
("In short, Mr. Cook has done so much that he has left me nothing to do
but admire his work") were the last the world heard from the unfortunate
officer, whose fate from that hour till forty years later remained a
mystery of the sea.

Norfolk Island was discovered by Cook in October, 1774, and in his one
day's stay there he noted its pine-trees and its flax plant. The people at
home thought that the flax and the timber of New Zealand might be used for
naval purposes, and as Cook's report said that Norfolk Island contained
similar products, the colonization of the island as an adjunct to the New
South Wales settlements no doubt suggested itself. Phillip was therefore
ordered to "send a small establishment thither to secure the same to us
and prevent its occupation by any other European power."

A separate command like this had to be entrusted to a reliable man, and
Phillip, though no doubt loth to lose the close-at-hand service of King,
yet felt the importance of the work, and so chose him for it. King left
for the island on February 15th, 1788, in the _Supply_, taking with him
James Cunningham, master's mate; Thomas Jamison, surgeon's mate; Roger
Morley, a volunteer adventurer, who had been a master weaver; 2 marines
and a seaman from the _Sirius_; and 9 male and 6 female convicts. This
complement was to form the little colony. The _Supply_, under Lieutenant
Ball, was ordered to return as soon as she had landed the colonists. On
the way down, Ball discovered and named Lord Howe Island, and on March 8th
the people were landed at their solitary home.

King remained on the island until March, 1790, doing such good work there
that not only were the people keeping themselves, but, as we have seen,
Phillip sent to him a large proportion of his half-famished settlers from
New South Wales, and when King left the population numbered 418, excluding
80 shipwrecked people of the _Sirius_.


As governor of the island, King combined in himself [Sidenote: 1788]
the functions of the criminal and civil courts, and the duties of
chaplain. Every Sunday morning, we are told, he caused the people to be
assembled for religious service. A man beat the head of an empty cask for
a church bell. His punishments for offences then punishable by death were
always remarkable for their mildness, as leniency was measured in those
days when floggings were reckoned by the hundred lashes.

King left Norfolk Island to go to England with despatches from Phillip. He
sailed from Port Jackson in April, 1790, in the _Supply_ for Batavia. The
brig returned to the colony with such food as she could obtain, and King
chartered a small Dutch vessel to convey him to the Cape of Good Hope.

The voyage home was one of the most remarkable ever made. Five days after
leaving Batavia the crew, including the master of the vessel and the
surgeon, fell ill from the usual cause: "the putrid fever of Batavia."
Only four well men were left. King took command of them, put up a tent on
deck to escape the contagion, ministered to the sick, buried the seventeen
who died, was compelled to go below with his respiratory organs masked by
a sponge soaked in vinegar, and through all this navigated the vessel to
the Mauritius in a fortnight.

At Port Louis he was offered a passage to France in a French warship, but,
fearful that war might have broken out by the time he reached the Channel,
and he might thus be delayed in his mission, he refused the offer, and
having cleaned and fumigated his ship, he shipped a new crew and sailed
for the Cape, which he reached eighteen days later.

At the Cape he found Riou with the wreck of the _Guardian_, he who fell at
Copenhagen, and whose epitaph is written in Nelson's despatch, telling how
"the good and gallant Captain Riou" fought the _Amazon_. The _Guardian_,
loaded with stores for Port Jackson, had struck an iceberg, and her wreck
had been navigated in heroic fashion by Riou to the Cape. To the colony
her loss was a great misfortune, and King realized that there was so much
the greater need for hurry, and two months later he reached England. This
was on the 20th of December, eight months from Port Jackson!

At home his superiors quickly recognized that King was a good officer, and
Phillip's warm recommendations were acted upon. [Sidenote: 1792]
He was given a commission as lieutenant-governor of Norfolk Island, L250 a
year, and the rank of commander. He spent three months in England,
married, and sailed again in the _Gorgon_, which was the first warship,
unless the _Sirius_ and _Supply_ and the Frenchmen are counted as such, to
visit Sydney.

Phillip went home, Grose took charge at Sydney, and King returned to his
island command, which during his absence had been under Major Ross, of the
Marines, and martial law. Then began serious trouble. In England,
curiously enough, no thought of New Zealand had been taken yet. Some of
the masters of transports to New South Wales, who were already beginning
to experiment in whaling (whales in plenty had been seen from Dampier's
time), had visited the coasts of New Zealand, and King himself was
strongly of opinion that a settlement should be attempted there.

The expedition under Vancouver was, in 1792, in New Zealand and Australian
waters. Vancouver induced a couple of Maoris to leave their home for the
purpose of teaching the colonists how to use the flax plant, promising the
natives that they should be returned to New Zealand. The Maoris were
despatched by Vancouver in the _Daedalus_ to Port Jackson, and Grose sent
them on to Norfolk Island. Little was to be learnt from them, and, as a
matter of fact, the attempt to grow and use flax never came to anything.

King was very kind to the two natives, who became much attached to him,
and he, anxious to carry out the promise of the white man to return them
to their homes, did a very imprudent thing. The _Britannia_, a returning
storeship, was detained by contrary winds at the island on her way to the
East Indies. The wind served for New Zealand. King chartered her to take
the two natives home, and himself accompanied them on the passage to the
Bay of Islands. King's reasons for the step were--

"the sacred duty that devolves upon Englishmen of keeping faith
with native races, and the desire to see for himself what could be
done towards colonizing New Zealand."

These reasons would justify British officers in many circumstances, but
they scarcely warranted King in leaving even for the short period of ten
days, the time occupied over the transaction, such an awkward command as
the government of a penal settlement. The senior officer under King was
Lieutenant Abbott, of the New South Wales Corps; and, instead of
appointing him to the command of the island in his absence, King left
Captain Nepean, of the same regiment, in charge. This officer was at the
time about to go to England on sick leave, and King's reason for his
selection was that he had no confidence in either Abbott or the subaltern
under him. There is plenty of evidence that King was right in his want of
confidence in these officers, but the action gave mortal offence to Grose,
and King's absence from the command gave Grose his opportunity. But King
did worse: Grose was his superior officer, and until Abbott had "got in
first" with his grievances King never offered any explanation of his acts
to the senior officer, but sent his account of the trip, his reasons for
undertaking it and for giving the command to Nepean, directly to the Home

Grose was unjustly severe, was downright offensive over the business; but,
to do him justice, he afterwards realized this, and ultimately
considerably moderated his behaviour. But there was another and a greater
cause of irritation to the lieutenant-governor at Port Jackson, who, be it
remembered, was also the officer commanding the New South Wales Regiment:
This was the way in which King suppressed a serious military mutiny at
Norfolk Island.

Naturally enough, the men of the New South Wales Corps stationed on the
little island fraternized with the convicts. The two classes of the
population drank and gambled together, and of course quarrelled; then the
soldiers and the prisoners' wives became too intimate, and the quarrels
between parties grew serious. A time-expired prisoner caught his wife and
a soldier together; the aggrieved husband struck the soldier, and the
latter complained. The man was fined _20s_., bound over to keep the peace
for twelve months, and allowed by King time to pay the fine. This
exasperated the whole military detachment. The idea of an ex-convict
striking a soldier who had done him the honour to seduce his wife, and
being fined a paltry sovereign, with time to pay!

Then, in January, 1794, a number of freed men and convicts were, by
permission of the governor, performing a play; this had been a regular
Saturday evening's amusement for some weeks. Just before the performance
began a sergeant of the corps entered the theatre and forcibly tried to
take a seat that had been allotted to one of the lieutenant-governor's
servants. A discharged convict, who was one of the [Sidenote: 1794]
managers of the theatre, remonstrated with the soldier, who replied with a
blow. The ex-convict then turned the man out of the building, and the
performance began, King entering the theatre when all was quiet, but
having his suspicions aroused by the threatening aspect of the soldiers.

At the conclusion of the performance the disturbance was renewed outside,
and a number of the soldiers went to the barracks, got their side-arms,
and returned to the scene, threatening what they would do. King heard the
noise, and rushing out from his house, seized a man who was flourishing
his bayonet, and handing him over to the guard, ordered that they should
take him to the guard-room.

This was the critical moment. After a second's hesitation King was obeyed,
and the soldiers, at the order of Lieutenant Abbott, their officer,
retired to the barracks, where they held a meeting, and resolved to free
their comrade by force, if he was not released in the morning. King, who
had kept his ears open, took counsel with the military and civil officers,
and a unanimous decision was arrived at to disarm the detachment.

This could only be effected by stratagem, although it was believed that
but a portion of the men were disaffected. All those suspected of
complicity were in the morning marched, under one of their officers, to a
distant part of the island on the pretence of collecting wild fowl
feathers. While they were away, King, with the remainder of the military
and civil officers, went to the guard-room and took possession of all the
arms. The lieutenant-governor then swore in as a militia 44 marines and
seamen settlers, armed them, and all danger was over.

Just as this was completed, the Government schooner arrived from Port
Jackson, and King sent ten ringleaders of the mutiny to Sydney for trial,
pardoning ten others. The vessel was despatched in a hurry, and King sent
a very meagre letter to Grose, leaving a lieutenant of the corps in charge
of the guard sent with the mutineers to explain matters.

Grose assembled a court of inquiry, and its finding severely censured King
for daring so to disgrace the soldiers as to disarm them. Grose sent an
offensive letter with this finding, in which King was ordered to disband
his militia, and generally to reverse everything that had been done; and
King did exactly as he was ordered to do. At home the Duke of Portland
approved of all King's acts, objecting only [Sidenote: 1797-1800]
to his leaving his command to take home the New Zealanders without first
getting permission from Grose.

King left Norfolk Island in 1797, and on his arrival in England, tired of
civil appointment, set about looking for a ship. But Sir Joseph Banks,
whose disinterested regard for the colony and its affairs had given him
considerable influence with the Home Office, procured him a dormant
commission as governor of New South Wales, under which he was to act in
the event of the death or absence of Hunter. He arrived in the colony
early in 1800, bringing with him a despatch recalling Hunter, and it can
easily be understood that the ex-governor did not display very good
feeling towards his successor, who was sent to replace him in this rough
and ready fashion.

The state of the colony at this time has already been described, and
although during King's administration many events of colonial importance
happened, we have only space for those of more general interest. King
displayed great firmness and ability in dealing with the abuses which had
grown up owing to the liquor traffic; but the condition of affairs
required stronger remedies than it was in his power to apply, so things
went on much the same as before, and the details of life then in New South
Wales are of little interest to general readers.

King's determination and honesty of purpose earned for him the hatred of
the rum traders, and the New South Wales Corps was in such a state that in
a despatch, after praising the behaviour of the convicts, he wrote that he
wished he could write in the same way of the military, "who," says King,
"after just attempting to set their commanding officer and myself at
variance and failing, they have ever since been causing nothing but the
most vexacious trouble both with their own commandant and myself."

Captain MacArthur had by this time imported his Spanish sheep, and had
become the greatest landowner and pastoralist in the colony. MacArthur
wanted to go to England, and offered the lot to the Government for L4000.
King had the good sense to see the value of the offer, and in a letter to
the Home Office advised its acceptance. To this came replies from both the
Duke of Portland and the War Office, expressing the strongest disapproval
of the idea and stating that it was highly improper that an officer in the
service should have become such a big trader. In 1801 MacArthur
quarrelled with one of his brother officers, and this led to almost all
the officials in the colony quarrelling with one another and to a duel
between MacArthur and his commanding officer, Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson,
the latter being wounded. King put MacArthur under arrest, and sent him to
England for trial with the remark that if he was sent to the colony again
it had better be as governor, as he already owned half of it, and it would
not be long before he owned the other half.

The Advocate-General of the army, however, sent him back to the colony
with a recommendation that the squabble should be dropped.

During King's administration several political prisoners who had been
concerned in the 1798 rebellion were sent out; and, by the governor's good
offices, these men were given certain indulgences, and generally placed
upon a different footing to felons, a distinction that had not been
provided for by the Imperial Government. King has had very little credit
for this, and because he _did_ deal severely with Irish rebels has been
put down by many as a cruel man, but the home Government at first sent out
prisoners without any history of their crimes, and King was unable to
tell the dangerous from the comparatively inoffensive until he had seen
how the exiles behaved in the colony. During King's administration there
was an open revolt of the convicts. They assembled at a place called
Castle Hill, about 20 miles from Sydney, to fight a "battle for liberty."
Here is the report of the officer who suppressed the rebellion:--

"_Major Johnston to Lieutenant-Colonel Paterson_.
"_9th March, 1804_.

"Sir,--I beg leave to acquaint you that about half-past 1 o'clock
on Monday morning last I took the command of the detachment
marched from headquarters accompanied by Lieutenant Davies,
consisting of two officers, two sergeants, and 52 rank and file of
the New South Wales Corps, and, by His Excellency Governor King's
orders, I proceeded immediately to Parramatta, where we arrived at
the dawn of day. I halted at the barracks about 20 minutes to
refresh my party, and then marched to Government House, and,
agreeable to His Excellency's orders, divided my detachment,
giving Lieutenant Davies the command of half and taking
Quartermaster Laycock and the other half, with one trooper,
myself, having the Governor's instructions to march in pursuit of
the rebels, who, in number about 400, were on the summit of the
hill. I immediately detached a corporal, [Sidenote: 1804]
with four privates and about six inhabitants, armed with musquets,
to take them in flank whilst I proceeded with the rest up the
hill, when I found the rebels had marched on for the Hawkesbury,
and after a pursuit of about ten miles I got sight of them. I
immediately rode forward, attended by the trooper and Mr. Dixon,
the Roman Catholic priest, calling to them to halt, that I wished
to speak to them. They desired I would come into the middle of
them, as their captains were there, which I refused, observing to
them that I was within pistol-shot, and it was in their power to
kill me, and that their captains must have very little spirit if
they would not come forward to speak to me, upon which two persons
advanced towards me as their leaders, to whom I represented the
impropriety of their conduct, and advised them to surrender, and I
would mention them in as favourable terms as possible to the
Governor. C. replied they would have death or liberty.
Quartermaster Laycock with the detachment just then appearing in
sight, I clapped my pistol to J.'s head, whilst the trooper did
the same to C.'s and drove them with their swords in their hands
to the Quartermaster and the detachment, whom I ordered to advance
and charge the main body of the rebels then formed in line. The
detachment immediately commenced a well-directed fire, which was
but weakly returned, for, the rebel line being soon broken, they
ran in all directions. We pursued them a considerable way, and
have no doubt but that many of them fell. We have found 12 killed,
6 wounded, and have taken 26 prisoners.

"Any encomiums I could pass on Quartermaster Laycock and the
detachment I had the honour to command would fall far short of
what their merit entitles them to, and I trust their steady
perseverance, after a fatiguing march of upwards of 45 miles, to
restore order and tranquillity will make their services
acceptable. Return of arms taken from the rebels: 26 muskets, 4
bayonets on poles, 8 reaping-hooks, 2 swords, a fowling-piece, and
a pistol."

The revolt seems to have been the result more than anything else of the
number of political prisoners which at that time had been transported to
the colony and the quantity of liquor available. Certainly King's
government was not severe enough to provoke an outbreak. Sir Joseph Banks,
writing to him, said:--

"There is only one part of your conduct as governor which I do not
think right; that is your frequent reprieves. I would have justice
in the case of those under your command who have already forfeited
their lives, and been once admitted to a commutation of
punishment, to be certain and inflexible, and no one case on
record where mere mercy, which is a deceiving sentiment, should be
permitted to move your mind from the inexorable decree of blind
justice. Circumstances may often make pardon necessary--I mean
those of suspected error in conviction; but mere whimpering
soft-heartedness never should be heard."

Dr. Lang published his _History of New South Wales_ in 1834; Judge Therry
wrote a book of personal reminiscences dating from 1829. Both these
writers describe things they knew, and relate stories told to them by men
who had come out in the first fleet. Therry and Lang were as opposite as
the poles: the first was an Irish barrister and a Roman Catholic; the
second was a Scotchman and a Presbyterian minister. The two men are
substantially in agreement in the pictures they draw of the colony's early
governors and of life as it was in New South Wales down to the twenties.

Lang and Therry both relate anecdotes of King. The stories do not present
him in a light to command respect; the official records rather confirm
than contradict the stories. Governing a penal colony seems to have had an
unhealthy influence upon the sailor governors; Phillip only escaped it.

King, Phillip's right hand, when a lieutenant, makes a voyage to England
in fashion heroic; he commands Norfolk Island at a critical time, when no
one but a _man_ could have controlled its affairs; he is appointed to the
supreme command in New South Wales, and before he has been many months in
office becomes a laughing-stock.

It is due to the first governor's successors to remember that they had no
force behind them. Phillip's marines were soldiers; the New South Wales
Corps were dealers in rum, officers and men were duly licensed to sell it,
and every ship that came into the harbour brought it. "In 1802, when I
arrived, it was lamentable to behold the drunkenness. It was no uncommon
occurrence for men to sit round a bucket of spirits and drink it with
quart pots until they were unable to stir from the spot." Thus wrote a
surgeon. "It was very provoking to see officers draw goods from the public
store to traffic in them for their private gain, which goods were sent out
for settlers, who were compelled to deal with the huckster officers,
giving them from 50 to 500 per cent, profit and paying them in grain."
Thus wrote Holt, the Irish rebel general.

These men are true witnesses, and the extracts among the mildest
statements made by any contemporary writer. Yet, be it remembered, the
colony was a penal settlement. The prison chronicles of England at this
period are not a whit less disgraceful reading; the stone walls of
Newgate, in the heart of London, hid scenes no less disgraceful than the
stockades of Botany Bay.

But, though the naval governors controlled New South Wales before free
emigration had leavened its population, and in consequence are remembered
but as gaolers, they were something better than this: their pioneering
work should not be forgotten.

During King's administration sea exploration was carried on vigorously
(the work of Flinders and Bass will form the subject of the next chapter);
settlements were made at Van Diemen's Land in place of Port Phillip, where
an attempt to colonize was abandoned, to be successfully carried out later
on; the important town of Newcastle was founded; the whale fisheries made
a fair start; and several expeditions were conducted into the interior,
always to be stopped by the Blue Mountains barrier. Above all, MacArthur,
in spite of every discouragement, made a success of his wool-growing,
resigned his commission, and returned to the colony, the first of the
great pastoralists. King, to his credit, forgot his differences with
MacArthur, and lent a willing hand to the colonist. The first newspaper,
the _Sydney Gazette_, was published just before King left the colony, and
free settlers began to come out in numbers.

The French expedition under Baudin called at Port Jackson to refresh, and
certain matters in connection with their visit are worth telling. Two
unfortunate incidents occurred: one an accusation against the French
officers of selling on shore certain liquor King had given them permission
to purchase from a merchantman for the use of their ships' companies;
another incident was the manner of hoisting the English ensign on board
one of the French ships, which was "dressed" for a holiday. Baudin
explained these matters easily enough. The flag was wrongly hoisted by
accident, and the accusation for selling liquor was unfounded, and certain
officers of the New South Wales Corps who made the statements did not come
out of the affair very creditably.

[Illustration: SIR JOSEPH BANKS. From a picture by Thomas Phillips, R.A.,
in the National Portrait Gallery. _To face p._ 158.]

But the most noteworthy incident is explained in this extract from a
letter dated Sydney, May 9th, 1803, from King to Sir Joseph Banks:--

"Whilst the French ships lay here I was on the most friendly
footing with Mons'r Baudin and all his officers. _Entre nous_, he
showed me and left with me his journals, in which were contained
all his orders from the first idea of his voyage taking place, and
also the whole of the drawings made on the voyage. His object was,
by his orders, the collection of objects of natural history from
this country at large and the geography of Van Diemen's Land. The
south and south-west coast, as well as the north-west and north
coast, were his particular objects. It does not appear by his
orders that he was at all instructed to touch here, which I do not
think he intended if not obliged by distress. With all this
openness on his part, I could only have general ideas on the
nature of their visit to Van Diemen's Land. I communicated it to
Mons'r Baudin, who informed me that he knew of no idea that the
French had of settling on any part or side of this continent. They
had not been gone more than a few hours when a general report was
circulated that it had been the conversation of the French
officers that Mons'r Baudin had orders to fix on a place for a
settlement at Van Diemen's Land, and that the French, on receiving
his accounts, were to make an establishment at 'Baie du Nord,'
which, you will observe, in D'Entrecasteaux's charts is what we
call 'Storm Bay Passage,' and the French 'Canal D'Entrecasteaux.'
It seemed one of the French officers had given Colonel Paterson a
chart, and described the intended spot."

So King sent for the colonel, and then,

"without losing an instant, a colonial vessel was immediately
equipped and provided with as many scientific people as I could
put into her, and despatched after Mons'r Baudin. The instruction
I gave the midshipman who commanded her was to examine Storm Bay
Passage and leave His Majesty's colours flying there with a guard,
and that it was my intention to send an establishment there by the
_Porpoise_. This order, you will observe, was a blind, and as such
was to be communicated to Mons'r Baudin, as my only object was to
make him acquainted with the reports I had heard, and to assure
him and his masters that the King's claim would not be so easily
given up. The midshipman in the _Cumberland_ had other private
orders not to go to Storm Bay Passage, but to follow the French
ships as far as King's Island, and that he was to make the
pretext of an easterly wind forcing him into the straits, and as
he was enjoined to survey King's Island and Port Phillip, that
service he should perform before he went to Storm Bay Passage.

"This had the desired effect. He overtook _Geographe_ and
_Naturaliste_ at King's Island the day the _Naturaliste_ parted
company with the _Geographe_ on the former returning to France,
and as an officer of the colony was going passenger in her, the
mid. was instructed to give him privately a packet for the
Admiralty and Lord Hobart, in which, I believe, was one for you.
These letters contained the particulars. The mid. was received by
Mons'r Baudin with much kindness. In the latter's answer to me he
felt himself rather hurt at the idea that 'had such an intention
on his part existed, that he should conceal it.' However, he put
it on the most amicable footing, altho' the mid. planted His
Majesty's colours close to their tents, and kept them flying
during the time the French ships stayed there."

Notwithstanding their first little differences, King and Baudin parted the
best of friends, and to an orphan asylum established by King in Sydney,
Baudin sent a donation of L50; but King's action in sending the
_Cumberland_ after him struck the Frenchman in a different light. He wrote
to King telling him that if he had wanted to annex Van Diemen's Land he
would have made no secret of it, that Tasman anyhow had not discovered it
for the benefit of Englishmen only, and that--

"I was well convinced that the arrival of the _Cumberland_ had
another motive than merely to bring your letter, but I did not
think it was for the purpose of hoisting the British flag
precisely on the spot where our tents had been pitched a long time
previous to her arrival. I frankly confess that I am displeased
that such has taken place. That childish ceremony was ridiculous,
and has become more so from the manner in which the flag was
placed, the head being downwards, and the attitude not very
majestic. Having occasion to go on shore that day, I saw for
myself what I am telling you. I thought at first it might have
been a flag which had served to strain water and then hung out to
dry; but seeing an armed man walking about, I was informed of the
ceremony which had taken place that morning. I took great care in
mentioning it to your captain, but your scientists, with whom he
dined, joked about it, and Mr. Petit, of whose cleverness you are
aware, made a complete caricature on the event. It is true that
the flag sentry was sketched. I tore up the caricature as soon as
I saw it, and gave instructions that such was not to be repeated
in future."

Towards the latter end of 1803 King grew very tired of the petty
annoyances of the officers of the New South Wales Corps, and he wrote home
asking that either a commission should be appointed to inquire into the
government of the colony, or that he should be permitted to go to England
himself and report upon the state of affairs. With the letter he sent
home copies of lampoons which he alleged were anonymously written and
circulated by officers of the regiment. Here is a sample of one:--


"My power to make great
O'er the laws and the state
Commander-in-Chief I'll assume;
Local rank, I persist,
Is in my own fist:
To doubt it who dares to presume.

"On Monday keep shop,
In two hours' time stop
To relax from such kingly fatigue,
To pillage the store
And rob Government more
Than a host of good thieves--by intrigue.

"For infamous acts from my birth I'd an itch,
My fate I foretold but too sure;
Tho' a rope I deserved, which is justly my due,
I shall actually die in a ditch,
And be damned."

By way of reply, Lord Hobart, then at the Home Office, informed King, that
although the Government had the fullest appreciation of the good service
he had done, yet the unfortunate differences between himself and the
officers would best be ended by relieving him of his [Sidenote: 1805]
command as soon as a successor could be chosen. The successor, in the
person of Bligh, was chosen in July, 1805, and King a few months later
returned to England.

In Hobart's letter to King informing him of the decision to recall him,
the former refers not only to the unfortunate difference "between you and
the military officers," but to the fact that these disputes "have extended
to the commander of H.M.S. _Glatton_." Highly indignant, King replied to
this in the following paragraph of a despatch dated August 14th, 1804:--

"In what relates to the commander of His Majesty's ship _Glatton_,
had I, on his repeated demands, committed myself, by the most
flagrant abuse of the authority delegated to me, by giving him a
free pardon for a female convict for life, who had never landed
from the _Glatton_, to enable her to cohabit with him on his
passage home, I might, in that case, have avoided much of his
insults here and his calumnious invective in England; but after
refusing, as my bounden duty required, to comply to his
unwarrantable demands, which, if granted, must have very justly
drawn on me your lordship's censure and displeasure, with the
merited reproach of those deserving objects to whom that last mark
of His Majesty's mercy is so cautiously extended, from that
period, my lord, the correspondence will evidently show no
artifice or means on his part were unused to insult not only
myself as governor of this colony, but the military and almost
every other officer of the colony."

There is, of course, another side to this. Captain Colnett, of the
_Glatton_, asked for the woman's pardon on the ground that she had
supplied him with information which enabled him to anticipate a mutiny of
the convicts on the passage out. On the return of the _Glatton_ to
England, the _St. James Chronicle_ informs its readers that at a dinner at
Walmer Castle Colnett dined with William Pitt. Perhaps over their wine the
two discussed Governor King, and hence perhaps Hobart's letter of recall.

During King's period of office there were, besides the Irish rebels, many
prisoners whose names are famous, or infamous, in story. Pickpocket George
Barrington, who came out in Governor Phillip's time, once the Beau Brummel
of his branch of rascality, had settled down into a respectable settler,
and was in King's government, superintendent of convicts, at L50 a year
wages. Sir Henry Browne Hayes, at one time sheriff of Cork city, was sent
out for life in King's time for abducting a rich Quaker girl; he was
pardoned, and returned to England in 1812, leaving behind him a fine
residence which he had built for himself, and which [Sidenote: 1808]
is still one of the beauty spots at the entrance of Sydney harbour.

Margarot, one of the "Scotch martyrs," also fell foul of King, who sent
him to Hobart for seditious practices. The governor seems to have punished
Scotch and Irish pretty impartially, for Hayes and Margarot were coupled
together as disturbing characters and both sent away.

The "martyrs," it will perhaps be remembered, were Muir, Palmer, Skirving,
Gerald, and Margarot, transported at Edinburgh for libelling the
Government in August, 1793, and most harshly dealt with, as everyone
nowadays admits.

King was a Cornishman, a native of Launceston. When he went home in 1790
he married a Miss Coombes, of Bedford. By this lady he had several
children. The eldest of them, born at Norfolk Island in 1791, he named
Phillip Parker, after his old chief. This youngster was sent into the navy
to follow his father's footsteps, and in a later chapter of this book he
will be heard of again.

The ex-governor wrote in September, 1808, a letter from Bath.

"As this letter may probably reach you before you sail, I just
write to say that I came here on Tuesday with Mr. Etheridge, on
his return to London, merely to see Admiral Phillip, whom I found
much better than I possibly could expect from the reports I had
heard, although he is quite a cripple, having lost the entire use
of his right side, though his intellects are very good, and his
spirits are as they always were."

This letter was to the boy Phillip, then a year-old sailor, on the eve of
his departure on a cruise in the Channel. Seven days later the writer had
slipped his moorings, and years earlier than his old comrade had "gone
before to that unknown and silent shore."



The details of Australian sea exploration are beyond the scope of this
work, but in a future chapter some reference will be made to the
marvellous quantity and splendid quality of naval surveying in Australian

The story of Flinders and Bass, of the work they performed, and the
strange, sad ending to their lives is worth a book, much more the small
space we can devote to it. Much has been written about these two men, but
the best work on the subject, that written by Flinders himself, has now
become a rare book, to be found only in a few public libraries, and too
expensive for any but well-to-do book-lovers to have upon their shelves.
The printing in New South Wales by the local Government of the records of
the colony has led to the discovery of a quantity of interesting material
never before published, and in this there is much relating to Flinders and
Bass--so much, in fact, that the work of the two men could be described
from contemporary letters and despatches, material, if not new to
everyone, certainly known to very few.

The dry technicalities of the surveying work, interesting enough to the
people of those places on the coasts of Australia which are now
flourishing seaports, but where not a century ago Bass and Flinders landed
for the first time, are too local in their interests to warrant more than
a passing reference here. The bold explorers met with so many stirring
adventures that the present writers can only "reel off the yarn," and let
lovers of topography go, if they are so inclined, to the charts, and study
how much valuable map-making, as well as exciting incident, these young
men crowded into their lives.

When Hunter returned to New South Wales in the _Reliance_ to take office
as governor, he brought with him Matthew Flinders as second lieutenant;
and to Sir Joseph Banks, whose influence secured the appointment, this is
only one of the many debts of gratitude owed by New South Wales for his
foresight and honesty in making such selections. Flinders was then
twenty-one years of age. His father was a surgeon at Donington, a village
in Lincolnshire.

[Illustration: GEORGE BASS. From a miniature. From "The Historical
Records of New South Wales" [Sydney, 1889, etc.]. _To face p._ 168.]

_Robinson Crusoe_, so he himself tells us, sent him to sea, and his
departure from home was soon followed by that of his brother Samuel.
Matthew served first in the _Scipio_ under Pasley; then he accompanied
Bligh in the _Providence_ to Tahiti, and thence to the West Indies (this
was Bligh's successful bread-fruit voyage); then he was in the
_Bellerophon_, and was present at Lord Howe's victory, "the glorious 1st
of June." Two months later he left in the _Reliance_ for Sydney.

The surgeon of the _Reliance_ was George Bass. From his boyhood Bass
wanted to be a sailor, but was apprenticed, sorely against his will, to a
Boston apothecary. His father was a farmer at Sleaford, in Lincolnshire;
but his mother was early left a widow. The lad served his apprenticeship,
duly walked the hospitals, and his mother spent most of her small
substance in starting him in business as a village apothecary in his
native county. Then, like so many before and since his time, unable to
overcome his first infatuation, he threw all his shore affairs to the wind
and obtained an appointment to the _Reliance_.

Governor Hunter, it will be remembered, took a keen interest in the
exploration of Australia, and he had for some time suspected the
existence of a strait between Van Diemen's Land and the main continent.
Full of desire for adventure and tired of the routine life of a penal
settlement, Flinders and Bass, soon after they landed in the colony, found
a new occupation in the pursuit of fresh discoveries, and Hunter willingly
lent them such poor equipment as the limited resources of the colony

A month after the arrival of the _Reliance_ at Sydney the two friends set
to work, and in an eight-foot boat, which they appropriately named the
_Tom Thumb_, went poking in and out along the coast-line, making
discoveries of the greatest local value. Then began work destined to be of
world-wide importance.

Take the map of Tasmania and look at a group of islands at its north-east
corner; they are in what was later on to be called Bass' Straits. Among
them are two named Preservation and Clarke Islands; these and Armstrong
Channel commemorate the wreck of the _Sydney Cove_, which occurred on
February 9th, 1797. The _Sydney Cove_ was an East Indiaman bound from
Bengal to Sydney; she sprang a leak, was with difficulty navigated to the
spot named Preservation Island, and there beached.

[Illustration: CAPTAIN MATTHEW FLINDERS, R.N. From the "Naval Chronicle"
for 1814.] [Sidenote: _To face p_. 170.]

The crew, many of whom were Lascars, were saved, with a few stores. Then
the long-boat, with the mate, supercargo, three European seamen, and a
dozen Lascars, was despatched in an endeavour to reach Port Jackson, the
only occupied part of the great continent, and bring succour to their
starving shipmates. They set out on the 28th February, were driven ashore;
their boat was battered to pieces on the rocks, and they escaped only with
their lives. This happened on the 1st of March, the scene of this second
misfortune being a little distance to the north of Cape Howe, 300 miles
from Sydney. These castaways were the first white men to land in what is
now the colony of Victoria. (The spot where the boat was lost is just over
the border.) After resting the men then all set out to march along the
coast to Sydney.

Sixty days later three exhausted creatures reached Wattamolla harbour,
near what is now the National Park of New South Wales, about 18 miles
south of Sydney. The remainder of the castaways had dropped and died of
exhaustion on the march, or had been speared by the blacks. Those who
survived had purchased their lives from the savages with shreds of cloth
and buttons from their ragged clothing, and had kept themselves alive
with such shell-fish as they could find upon the beaches. At Wattamolla
they had halted to cook a scanty meal of shell-fish, and the smoke of
their fire revealed their presence to a fishing boat from the settlement
at Port Jackson. The fire by which this cooking was done was made from
coal found on the beach there; so reported brave Clarke, the supercargo of
the _Sydney Cove_, who found it.

As soon as Hunter heard of the discovery he determined to examine the
place. In a despatch home he says:--

"So I have lately sent a boat to that part of the coast, in which
went Mr. Bass, surgeon of the _Reliance_. He was fortunate in
discovering the place, and informed me he found a stratum six feet
deep in the face of a steep cliff, which was traced for eight
miles in length; but this was not the only coal they discovered,
for it was seen in various places."

The place was named Coalcliff, and this was the first discovery of the
great southern coalfields of New South Wales. Hunter, writing to the Duke
of Portland under date of March 1st, 1798, shall tell the next incident of
Bass' career:--

"The tedious repairs which His Majesty's ship [Sidenote: 1798]
_Reliance_ necessarily required before she could be put in a
condition for again going to sea having given an opportunity to
Mr. George Bass, her surgeon, a young man of a well-informed mind
and an active disposition, to offer himself to be employed in any
way in which he could contribute to the benefit of the public
service, I inquired of him in what way he was desirious of
exerting himself, and he informed me nothing could gratify him
more effectually than my allowing him the use of a good boat and
permitting him to man her with volunteers from the King's ships. I
accordingly furnished him with an excellent whale-boat, well
fitted, victualled, and manned to his wish, for the purpose of
examining along the coast to the southward of this port, as far as
he could with safety and convenience go. His perseverance against
adverse winds and almost incessant bad weather led him as far
south as the latitude of 40 deg.00 S., or a distance from this port,
taking the bendings of the coast, of more than 600 miles." (This,
remember, was accomplished in a whale-boat.) "He coasted the
greatest part of the way, and sedulously examined every inlet
along the shore, which does not in these parts afford a single
harbour fit to admit even a small vessel, except a bay in latitude
35 deg.06, called Jarvis' Bay, and which was so named by one of the
transport ships, bound here, who entered it, and is the same
called by Captain Cook Longnose Bay. He explored every accessible
place until he came as far as the sourthermost [sic: southernmost]
parts of this coast seen by Captain Cook, and from thence until he
reached the northernmost land seen by Captain Furneaux, beyond
which he went westward about 60 miles, where the coast falls away
in a west-northwest direction. Here he found an open ocean
westward, and by the mountainous sea which rolled in from that
quarter, and no land discoverable in that direction, we have much
reason to conclude that there is an open strait through, between
the latitude of 39 and 40'12 S., a circumstance which, from many
observations made upon tides and currents thereabouts, I had long

"It will appear by this discovery that the northermost [sic:
northernmost] land seen by Captain Furneaux is the southernmost
extremity of this coast, and lays in latitude 39.00 S. At the
western extremity of Mr. Bass' coasting voyage he found a very
good harbour; but, unfortunately, the want of provision induced
him to return sooner than he wished and intended, and on passing a
small island laying off the coast he discovered a smoke, and
supposed it to have been made by some natives, with whom he wished
to have an opportunity of conversing. On approaching the shore he
found the men were white, and had some clothing on, and when he
came near he observed two of them take to the water and swim off.
They proved to be seven of a gang of fourteen convicts who escaped
from hence in a boat on the 2nd of October last, and who had been
treacherously left on this desolate island by the other seven, who
returned northward. The boat, it seems, was too small for their
whole number, and when they arrived at Broken Bay they boarded
another boat [lying] in the Hawkesbury with fifty-six bushels of
wheat on board; then they went off with her to the northward,
leaving their old boat on shore.

"These poor distressed wretches" (the seven convicts discovered by
Bass), "who were chiefly Irish, would have endeavoured to travel

Book of the day: