Sunday, 23 June 2013

Part Two - Governor of the Colony

Editor's note : With his arrival in the South Australia and the establishment of the new colony Hindmarsh entered a new phase of his employment and life. Inevitably his diary reflects this change in both its form and its content.

Heretofore Hindmarsh had kept his diary daily, assiduously writing out his thoughts and the happenings in his life as well as recording the progress of the ship under his command.


With the completion of the voyage the need (and indeed, the opportunity) for such scrupulous record keeping changed dramatically.


Under the circumstances of government, Hindmarsh's writing of his diary quickly fell into a pattern. Each week (usually on a Sunday evening) he would write up the events of the past seven days in one large diary entry, creating a form of "news digest". He also included clippings from the newspaper (when it was published) and from time to time wrote reflective essays on characters and issues in the colony.


It would appear that this new practice was intended to allow the Governor to clear his mind and order his thoughts as he attempted to manage the new colony as best he could.


As usual, the diary was for Hindmarsh's eyes only and contains a level of frankness not normally associated with government records.

Another point of difference between his ship board diary and his diary in Government is to be found in the degree of revision and rewriting Hindmarsh undertook in the weekly digests and especially in the character essays. The manuscript shows that Hindmarsh returned to his writing as he gained further information, changed his mind or reflected further on the subject.

The forthcoming scholarly edition of the diary will, naturally, contain a complete variorum apparatus tracking these changes, but in the current, popular edition, intended for the general public, these variants have been collated and a single, regularised text has been created.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Wednesday, 28th December 1836

The winds being favourable during the night we arrived in Holdfast Bay this morning to find a flotilla of ships waiting for us. We came to anchor and all on board gave three cheers at arriving at the end of our voyage.

During the morning Mr Gouger and some jumped up surveyor with what was clearly a high opinion of himself called Something-or-other Kingston came aboard and gave a great puff to Colonel Light's opinion of the land he had chosen. Gouger gave us intelligence of splendid land, plenty of fresh water, & the prospect of an excellent location. Whats-his-name Kingston kept claiming the credit which was amusing for the first five or ten minutes, but became tiresome after that. The conversation went like this:

Gouger: There is splendid land for all.
Kingston: I found it!
Me: And what of land for crops?
Kingston: I found some excellent land for crops.
Me: I see. And water?
Kingston: I found some water
Gouger: Light says there is plenty of  water.
Kingston: I discovered three creeks myself.

And so on... and on... and on ... Me, me, me, I, I, I. I can't help feeling sorry for Light having to work with the little bugger and I was glad to see the back of him as he headed ashore in the boat with Gouger.

After lunch - served with Sauerkraut - which I hoped - in vain as it turned out - would be the last Sauerkraut I should have to eat in this life for quite some time - we wedged Mrs Hindmarsh, Scoop Stevenson  and the Fisher clan into one boat and Mr Moneybags Gillies, Charlie Howard and sundry others into the second. Unfortunately for Gillies and Howard we had time to get the donkeys out of the boat, where they have been lodged for some months, but not time to clean it afterwards, so they were not overly comfortable, or indeed clean. In the third boat the marines were lodged along with the ship's officers.

We came ashore at the mouth of a particularly smelly little inlet (made all the smellier by Gilles and Howard bringing the odour of donkey poo with them). Several crewmen carried us through the waves to dry land. One of the sailors who carried me  I think had been at sea rather too long as he was very free with his hands. Mrs Hindmarsh, I should note, seemed to make no such complaint.

We were met on the beach by Gouger, Thingumy Kingston and several others and proceeded to Gouger's campsite. The glass stood at over 100 degrees which make a hike through sandhills a trial, especially in uniform and many, especially the ladies, suffered greatly. Mrs Hindmarsh particularly felt the heat and was left quite speechless, so the hike was not without benefit.

At length we came to Gouger's tent, which he had set up beneath a strangely bent tree. Speaking of strangely bent, Mr Gilles had clearly had a few jars and was in a jovial mood. I am told that this jovial mood indicates about seven or eight drinks. Between eight and ten drinks he declares his love for his fellow man and tries to give away all his money. By the time he gets above ten he begins to turn morose and maudlin. Above twelve and he becomes angry with everyone.

Hoping to get out of the sun we entered Gouger's tent. As we entered he smiled and said "My home is yours!" When we got in there - good God! - it could have been anybody's!

If he knew we were coming he could at least have picked his old underwear up off the floor. A pile of unwashed clothing lay on his camp stretcher and we were all forced not to notice a copy of "Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure" lying open on the pillow. And having to move three or four day's worth of dirty cups and plates out of the way was not what I expected at all! Moreover, I'm not sure what Mr Gouger has been eating of late, but the air was, shall we say, rather thick.

Still the oaths were administered, the Order in Council produced and a Government declared. A sticky moment as I produced my rewritten Proclamation for the Council to agree upon. The look on Stevenson's face as he read it suggested that he realised something was up, but he couldn't quite work out what it was. He did mutter something about "Can't read my own writing" at one point, which was true since it was mine, but otherwise my forgery passed without comment and was agreed to, much to my relief.

We then addressed the assembled colonial settlers, some few hundred of whom had gathered beneath the arch of the tree. Gilles appeared and told me that he loved me, then gave me a gold sovereign which made me wonder where he had the stuff stashed. I suspect he had a bottle of whiskey in a knot hole of the Gum Tree.


The Proclamation



Stevenson then read the Proclamation to the assembly, once again with a quizzical look, and there was cheering all round. The marines fired a salute with their muskets in what I was later told was intended as a "feu-de-joie". In fact the first volley was such a shambles I instructed them to do it again "and damn well do it properly". It was a degree improved the second time, but in truth it seemed to me like an court case waiting to happen, such was the marines lack of recent firing practice. Still, after seeing that no-one was injured we raised the ensign and the ships in the Bay fired a salute.

At this point Whats-a-name Kingston then insisted that all who so wished could repair to his tent for a cold collation. "I'll only have the best. Only the best" he kept saying. The little toady. He promised us Hampshire Ham which I couldn't help feeling might not be of the freshest since it at been at sea for months and was sitting in the sun all day. What-you-may-call-him said that the ham was "dressed", which I took to mean that he'd cut off the green bits. And by God and thunder he served it with none other but Sauerkraut! So there I sat, for form's sake, eating slimy ham and salty, slimy cabbage.

When I was certain that this sumptuous repast was staying down I made a little speech telling them that "they had all done very well" and then offered a few platitudes about "pulling together" and "a shining path lies before us" and so on - the usual twaddle that people so love to hear on occasions such as this. Then, duty done, I sat back to observe the proceedings.

Gilles became progressively more maudlin and as the afternoon wore on the Marines discovered a cache of porter left behind by the Tam O'Shanter. Those marines can certainly put it away and I am afraid that many of the colonists, who not four hours before had been exhorted by me, their Governor to "conduct themselves on all occasions with order and quietness, duly to respect the laws, and by a course of industry and sobriety, by the practice of sound morality, and a strict observance of the Ordinances of Religion, to prove themselves worthy to be the founders of a great and free Colony." hit the sauce pretty hard and got pretty rowdy with it.

Those of us of the better sort decided that retiring to the Buffalo might be prudent before some orgy broke out.

As we left Mr Gilles was offering to wrestle anyone in the crowd for 10/- and a native had set fire to some nearby bushes and was driving sparks into the sky which, said Mrs Fisher, had all the appearance of a fireworks display.

Thinking about it later I can't help but feel fireworks be damned and that the native was in fact trying to drive us all out with smoke and flame, hoping that, being strangers, we might all just go away.

And I must say that as I left for the Buffalo I took the opportunity to survey those I am required to govern and to be honest, if the native was attempting to drive us out then I can see his point. At times I wish they'd all just go away as well.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Monday, 26th December, 1836

Yesterday being Christmas Day I had thought to have much to report, this being my first Christmas in a strange land. Yet, remarkably, I have nothing to speak of, having no memory of anything very much that happened yesterday.

I do remember speaking to Mrs Hindmarsh and the girls early in the day and exchanging pleasantries and small gifts that we had all had in store since Rio. One of the girls presented me with a monogrammed hand kerchief that she had purchased on that Isle of Wight shopping trip they made months ago.

Just before noon Captain Lipson joined us on board for Christmas Lunch, bringing with him several bottles of excellent Madiera that he had laid in in Rio.

After that, I am afraid, I have nothing more to add, having no memory of the rest of the day. I must have been tired in the extreme and dozed off at table. Certainly today I have an ache in the head which can only have been caused by tiredness. I trust Captain Lipson was not offended if I was bad company for him.

Though apparently offended he was not as this morning I found a note from him in my cabin: "What larks, eh Jack?". I am at a loss to understand quite what he means.

I am also at a loss to explain why Mrs Hindmarsh is not speaking to me and leaves the cabin each time I come in. Perhaps she is upset at the state Tinkles the cat is in. He appears to have been struck by some form of alapecha, as much of his hair has suddenly dropped out. Ridiculous as it might sound it almost looks as if he has been shaved.

I have had a number of strange looks from Passengers and Emigrants alike and although this in itself is not unusual the comments that I have heard have enabled me to piece together the story that one of the crew dropped his trousers and relieved himself from the bowsprit in full view of the assembled ship's company during Divine Service.

Mr Fisher stated that he had never seen anything like it before, although Mrs Fisher made the somewhat cryptic comment that she had, only larger, which I was at a loss to understand.

I am also surprised to see Charlie Howard with a black eye. I asked him about it, being concerned for his welfare, but he merely turned on his heel and walked off. Perhaps he did something he is ashamed of, hence his diffidence.

Mr Stevenson told me that he was "Thoroughly disgusted with the conduct of such ruffians and their conduct was without parallel". He spoke of "violence & profane & abominable oaths directed at Charlie Howard that drove all from the deck to seek refuge from the outrageous profanity in their own cabins."

Naturally I questioned the crew closely to discover who the vile perpetrator was, but to a man they kept sniggering and saying "We wouldn't like to say Captain". One did ask after my own health, asking if I had caught cold from not rugging up, which prompted yet another round of silly sniggering.

I do not like to accuse a brother officer, but I am beginning to suspect Lipson's actions and fear that the whole day was spoiled by him being unable to hold his drink.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Saturday 24th December, 1836

Christmas Eve.

We hove to in Spalding Cove, where we found Captain Lipson's Cygnet at anchor.

At about 10 Captain Lipson came aboard and presented himself, saying that Light had directed him to meet with us in order that we can follow him to Light's "Holdfast Bay".

It seems that  the ships that left England before us have all safely arrived with little incident. Lipson tells me of a number of pieces of what I can only describe as gossip, though if Scoop Stevenson gets a hold of them then "the public's right to know" and Stevenson's right to make money will broadcast them far and wide as vital news.

Later in the day we went ashore to inspect the area as a prospective site for the Capital. Lipson tells me that Light favours the eastern side of Gulph St Vincent as being "reminiscent of Devon" which certainly sounds acceptable.

The area around Boston Bay is reminiscent of a complete waste of time - poor soil, no surface water, low grade building stone. a fine harbour to be sure, but little hope of finding a space for a large settlement. Totally unsuitable,

Naturally Mrs Hindmarsh loves it. "The views!" she keeps saying. "The views!"

I keep pointing out that when the colony is starving because they can't grow food and we're dying of thirst, the views aren't going to do much good to anyone, but she keeps saying "It's so pretty!"

A slight contre temps this evening. After Mrs Hindmarsh hung up her stocking for Father Christmas to come by, one of the crew mistook it for extra sails and reefed it to the mizzen.

Mrs Hindmarsh was most offended and wanted the man punished but I let it pass as I could not find fault with his explanation that "Bain't be often you see hosiery of that size so 'twas only natural I mistook it for the mainsail."

Monday, 3 June 2013

12th - 23rd December, 1836

Editors Note: For the next two weeks the Buffalo worked its way across the Great Australian Bight, heading for Port Lincoln, where they would inspect a prospective site for the Capital of the new colony and meet with other ships bound for South Australia. Much of the journey was uneventful, but two incidents are recorded by Hindmarsh.

Governor Hindmarsh continued his care for his animals

Thursday, 15th December 1836: After many days, little Wilbur the runt pig is up and about and showing every sign of good health and vigour. As there is now no longer danger from draughts for the poor little chap I have ordered full sail for the first time in some weeks. (Some of the passengers had the bad grace to suggest "for the first time in many weeks", but surely not)

Naturally the ship surged forward with a vigour matching Wilbur's and the passengers and emigrants seemed cheered. I am gratified to see their care and concern for the little piglet.

And the Governor's sense of humour was not to the taste of the passengers.

Wednesday, 21st December 1836: Dear me, you have to watch what you say. At the entrance to Spencer's Gulph stands Cape Catastrophe, named by Flinders after, I assume, some dreadful occurrence on board his ship (although from what my Father, who knew Flinders as a young officer on board the Bellerephon, told me, the biggest catastrophe Flinders might have seen was the gin running out).

I suggested to the crew, who believe me a capital fellow, that we could rename it and change its name from one catastrophe to another, naming it Cape Hindmarsh, after my wife. They all laughed and we thought no more of it.

Of course, one of the passengers overheard a half of this conversation and before you could say knife, word had got around the ship  that I intended rewriting one of Flinder's nomenclatures after myself. Moreover, it is common knowledge about the ship that I have a list of great English sea captains that I intend to use as a guide to the naming of the Colony. The names on the list include, it is said, Nelson, Cook and, laughably, Hindmarsh. "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity" was the tone of the conversations I overheard, I am afraid.