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permanent laws by which all men are influenced, and what to the accidental positions in which we have been placed. Now circumstances will throw new light upon the effects of our religious, political, and economical institutions, if we cause them to be adopted as models in our rising empire ; and if we do not, we shall estimate the effects of their presence, by observing those which are produced by their non-existence.
The history of the colony is at present, however, in its least interesting state, on account of the great preponderance of depraved inhabitants, whose crimes and irregularities give a monotony to the narrative, which it cannot lose till the respectable part of the community come to bear a greater proportion to the criminal.
These Memoirs of Colonel Collins resume the history of the colony from the period at which he concluded it in his former volume, September, 1796, and continue it down to August, 1801. They are written in the style of a journal, which, though not the most agreeable mode of conveying information, is certainly the most authentic, and contrives to banish the suspicion (and most probably the reality) of the interference of a bookmaker-a species of gentlemen who are now almost become necessary to deliver naval and military authors in their literary labours, though they do not always atone, by orthography and grammar, for the sacrifice of truth and simplicity. Mr. Collins's book is written with great plainness and candour: he appears to be a man always meaning well; of good, plain common sense; and composed of those well-wearing materials which adapt a person for situations where genius and refinement would only prove a source of misery and of error.
We shall proceed to lay before our readers an analysis of the most important matter contained in this volume.
The natives in the vicinity of Port Jackson stand extremely low in point of civilisation, when compared with many other savages with whom the discoveries of Captain Cook have made us acquainted. Their notions of religion exceed even that degree of absurdity which we are led to expect in the creed of a barbarous people. In politics, they appear to have scarcely advanced beyond family government. Huts they have none; and, in all their economical inventions there is a rudeness and deficiency of ingenuity, unpleasant, when contrasted with the instances of dexterity with which the descriptions and importations of our navigators have rendered us so familiar. Their numbers appear to us to be very small : a fact at once indicative either of the ferocity of manners in any people, or, more probably, of the sterility of their country: but which, in the present instance, proceeds from both these causes.
"Gaining every day (says Mr. Collins) some further knowledge of the inhuman habits I and customs of these people, their being so thinly scattered through the country ceased to be a matter of surprise. It was almost daily seen, that from some trifling cause or other, they were continually living in a state of warfare : to this must be added their brutal treatment of their women, who are themselves equally destructive to the measure of population, by the horrid and cruel custom of endeavouring to cause a miscarriage, which their female acquaintance effect by pressing the body in such a way as to destroy the infant in the womb;
occasions the death of the unnatural mother also. To this they have recourse to avoid the trouble of carrying the infant about when born, which, when it is very young, or at the breast, is the duty of the woman. The operation for this destructive purpose is termed Mee-bra. The burying an infant (when at the breast) with the mother, if she should die, is another shocking cause of the thinness of population among them. The fact that such an operation as the Mee-brá was practised by these wretched people was communicated by one of the natives to the principal surgeon of the settlement." -(Pp. 124, 125.)
It is remarkable that the same paucity of numbers has heen observed in every part of New Holland which has hitherto been explored ; and yet there is not the smallest reason to conjecture that the population of it has been very recent; nor do the people bear any marks of descent from the inhabitants of the numerous islands by which this great continent is surrounded. The force of population can only be resisted by some great physical evils; and many of the causes of this scarcity of human beings which Mr. Collins refers to the ferocity of the natives are ultimately referable to the difficulty of support. We have always considered this phenomenon as a symptom extremely unfavourable to the future destinies of this country. It is easy to launch out into eulogiums of the fertility of nature in particular spots; but the most probable reason why a country that has been long inhabited is not well inhabited is that it is not calculated to support many inhabitants without great labour. It is difficult to suppose any other causes powerful enough to resist the impetuous tendency of man to obey that mandate for increase and multiplication, which has certainly been better observed than any other declaration of the Divine will ever revealed to us.
There appears to be some tendency to civilisation, and some tolerable notions of justice, in a practice very similar to our custom of duelling; for duelling, though barbarous in civilised, is a highly civilised institution among barbarous people ; and when compared to assassination, is a prodigious victory gained over human passions. Whoever kills another in the neighbourhood of Botany Bay is compelled to appear at an appointed day before the friends of the deceased, and to sustain the attacks of their missile weapons. If he is killed, he is deemed to have met with a deserved death; if not, he is consi. dered to have expiated the crime for the commission of which he was exposed to the danger. There is in this institution a command over present impulses, a prevention of secrecy in the gratification of revenge, and a wholesome correction of that passion, by the effects of public observation, which evince such a superiority to the mere animal passions of ordinary savages, and form such a contrast to the rest of the history of this people that it may be considered as altogether an anomalous and inexplicable fact. The natives differ very much in the progress they have made in the arts of economy. Those to the north of Port Jackson evince a considerable degree of ingenuity and contrivance in the structure of their houses, which are rendered quite impervious to the weather, while the inhabitants at Port Jackson have no houses at all. At Port Dalrymple, in Van Diemen's land, there was every reason to believe the natives were unacquainted with the use of canoes; a fact extremely embar. rassing to those who indulge themselves in speculating on the genealogy of nations; because it reduces them to the necessity of supposing that the progenitors of this insular people swam over from the main land, or that they were aboriginal ; a species of dilemma, which effectually bars all conjecture upon the intermixture of nations. It is painful to learn that the natives have begun to plunder and rob in so very alarming a manner that it has been repeatedly found necessary to fire upon them; and many have, in consequence, fallen victims to their rashness.
The soil is found to produce coal in vast abundance, salt, lime, very fine iron ore, timber fit for all purposes, excellent flax, and a tree the bark of which is admirably adapted for cordage. The discovery of coal (which, bythe-by, we do not believe was ever before discovered so near the Line) is probably rather a disadvantage than an advantage; because, as it lies extremely favourable for sea carriage, it may prove to be a cheaper fuel than wood, and thus operate as a discouragement to the clearing of lands. The soil upon the sea-coast has not been found to be very productive, though it improves in partial spots in the interior. The climate is healthy, in spite of the prodigious heat of the summer months, at which period, the thermometer has been ob. served to stand in the shade at 107°, and the leaves of garden vegetables to fall into dust as if they had been consumed with fire. But one of the most insuperable defects in New Holland, considered as the future country of a great people, is the want of large rivers penetrating very far into the interior, and navigable for small craft. The Hawkesbury, the largest river yet discovered, is not accessible to boats for more than twenty miles. This same river occasionally rises above its natural level, to the astonishing height of fifty feet; and has swept away, more than once, the labours and the hopes of the new people exiled to its banks.
The laborious acquisition of any good we have long enjoyed is apt to be forgotten. We walk' and talk, and run and read, without remembering the long and severe labour dedicated to the cultivation of these powers, the formidable obstacles opposed to our progress, or the infinite satisfaction with which we overcame them. He who lives among a civilised people may estiinate the labour by which society has been brought into such a state by read. ing, in these annals of Botany Bay, the account of a whole nation exerting itself to new-floor the government-house, repair the hospital, or build a wooden receptacle for stores. Yet the time may come when some Botany Bay Tacitus shall record the crimes of an emperor lineally descended from a London pickpocket, or paint the valour with which he has led his New Hollanders into the heart of China. At that period, when the Grand Lahma is sending to supplicate alliance; when the spice islands are purchasing peace with nutmegs; when enormous tributes of green tea and nankeen are wafted into Port Jackson, and landed on the quays of Sydney, who will ever remember that the sawing of a few planks and the knocking together of a few nails were such a serious trial of the energies and resources of the nation ?
The Government of the colony, after enjoying some little respite from this kind of labour, has begun to turn its attention to the coarsest and most neces. sary species of manufactures, for which their wool appears to be extremely well adapted. The state of stock in the whole settlement, in June, 1801, was about 7000 sheep, 1300 head of cattle, 250 horses, and 5000 hogs. There were under cultivation at the same time, between 9000 and 10,000 acres of corn. Three years and a half before this, in December, 1797, the numbers were as follows: Sheep, 2500 ; cattle, 350 ; horses, 100; hogs, 4300; acres of land in cultivation, 4000. The temptation to salt pork, and to sell it for govern ment store, is probably the reason why the breed of hogs has been so much kept under. The increase of cultivated lands between the two periods is prodigious. It appears (p. 319) that the whole number of convicts imported between January, 1788, and June, 1801 (a period of thirteen years and a half), has been about 5000, of whom 1157 were females. The total amount of the population on the continent, as well as at Norfolk Island, amounted, June, 1801, to 6500 persons ; of these, 766 were children born at Port Jackson. In the returns from Norfolk Island, children are not discriminated from adults. Let us add to the imported population of 5000 convicts, 500 free people, which (if we consider that a regiment of soldiers has been kept up there) is certainly a very small allowance; then, in thirteen years and a half, the imported population has increased only by two-thirteenths. If we suppose that something more than a fifth of the free people were women, this will make the total of women 1270 ; of whom we may fairly presume that 800 were capable of child-bearing; and if we suppose the children of Norfolk Island to bear the same proportion to the adults as at Port Jackson, their total number at both settlements will be 913;-a state of infantine population which certainly does not justify the very high eulogiums which have been made on the fertility of the female sex in the climate of New Holland,
The Governor, who appears on all occasions to be an extremely well. disposed man, is not quite so conversant in the best writings on political economy as we could wish : and indeed (though such knowledge would be extremely serviceable to the interests which this Romulus of the Southern Pole is superintending), it is rather unfair to exact from a superintendent of pickpockets that he should be a philosopher. In the 18th page we have the following information respecting the price of labour :
“Some representations having been made to the Governor from the settlers in different parts of the colony, purporting that the wages demanded by the free labouring people, whom they had occasion to hire, was so exorbitant as to run away with the greatest part of the profit of their farms, it was recommended to them to appoint quarterly meetings among themselves to be held in each district, for the purpose of settling the rate of wages to labourers in every different kind of work; that, to this end, a written agreement should be entered into, and subscribed by each settler, a breach of which should be punished by a penalty, to be fixed by the general opinion, and made recoverable in a court of civil judicature. It was recommended to them to apply this forfeiture to the common benefit ; and they were to transmit to the head-quarters a copy of their agreement, with the rate of wages which they should from time to time establish, for the Governor's information, holding their first meeting as early as possible.”
And again, at p. 24, the following arrangements on that head are enacted :
“In pursuance of the order which was issued in January last, recommending the settlers to appoint meetings, at which they should fix the rate of wages that it might be proper to pay for the different kinds of labour which their farms should require, the settlers had submitted to the Governor the several resolutions that they had entered into, by which he was enabled to fix a rate that he conceived to be fair and equitable between the farmer and the labourer. “The following prices of labour were now established, viz. :
£ s. a.
of fresh, and 21 lib. of wheat with vegetables .
• 0 5 0 “The settlers were reminded that, in order to prevent any kind of dispute between the master and servant, when they should have occasion to hire a man for any length of time, they would find it most convenient to engage him for a quarter, half year, or year, aud to make their agreement in writing ; on which, should any dispute arise, an appeal to the magistrates would settle it." This is all very bad ; and if the Governor had cherished the intention of
destroying the colony, he could have done nothing more detrimental to its interests. The high price of labour is the very corner-stone on which the prosperity of a new colony depends. It enables the poor man to live with ease; and is the strongest incitement to population, by rendering children rather a source of riches than of poverty. If the same difficulty of subsistence existed in new countries as in old, it is plain that the progress of population would be equally slow in each. The very circumstances which cause the difference are, that, in the latter, there is a competition among the labourers to be employed; and, in the former, a competition among the occupiers of land to obtain labourers. In the one land is scarce, and men plenty ; in the other men are scarce, and land is plenty. To disturb this natural order of things (a practice injurious at all times) must be particularly so where the predominant disposition of the colonists is an aversion to labour, produced by a long course of dissolute habits. In such cases the high prices of labour, which the Governor was so desirous of abating, bid fair not only to increase the agricultural prosperity, but to effect the moral reformation of the colony. We observe the same unfortunate ignorance of the elementary principles of commerce in the attempts of the Governor to reduce the prices of the European commodities, by bulletins and authoritative interference, as if there were any other mode of lowering the price of an article (while the demand continues the same) but by increasing its quantity: The avaricious love of gain, which is so feelingly deplored, appears to us a principle which, in able hands, might be guided to the most salutary purposes. The object is to encourage the love of labour, which is best encouraged by the love of money. We have very great doubts on the policy of reserving the best timber on the estates as government timber. Such a reservation would probably operate as a check upon the clearing of lands, without attaining the object desired; for the timber, instead of being immediately cleared, would be slowly destroyed, by the neglect or malice of the settlers whose lands it encumbered. Timber is such a drug in new countries that it is at any time to be purchased for little more than the labour of cutting. To secure a supply of it by vexatious and invidious laws is surely a work of supererogation and danger. The greatest evil which the Govern. ment has yet had to contend with is the inordinate use of spirituous liquors ; a passion which puts the interests of agriculture at variance with those of morals : for a dram-drinker will consume as much corn, in the form of alco. hol in one day as would supply him with bread for three ; and thus, by his vices, opens an admirable market to the industry of a new settlement. The only mode, we believe, of encountering this evil is by deriving from it such a revenue as will not admit of smuggling. Beyond this it is almost invincible by authority; and is probably to be cured only by the progressive refinement of manners.
To evince the increasing commerce of the settlement, a list is subjoined of one hundred and forty ships, which have arrived there since its first founda.. tion, forty only of which were from England. The colony at Norfolk Island". is represented to be in a very deplorable situation, and will most probably be abandoned for one about to be formed on Van Diemen's Land,* though the capital defect of the former settlement has been partly obviated by a discovery of the harbour for small craft.
The most important and curious information contained in this volume is the discovery of straits which separate Van Diemen's Land (hitherto con
* It is singular that Government are not more desirous of pushing their settlements rather to the north than the south of Port Jackson. The soil and climate would probably improve in the latitude nearer the equator; and settlements in that position would be more con. tiguous to our Indian colonies.