Saturday, 26 October 2013

Sunday, 5th March, 1837

I have received worrying news this past week from Sir Richard Bourke, my fellow Governor in New South Wales, that word has circulated throughout Sydney regarding our colony. As a result there are rumours of convicts planning to escape and make their way here.

This seems to me to be greatly disturbing. The notion that our little colony could be flooded with undesirable and unauthorised new comers is worrying in the extreme. Some, to be sure, might be attempting to escape and seek refuge from the iron fist of Sydney Anglicanism and the repressive military government of the Eastern colony. But I have no doubt that some will simply be coming to cause mischief and further their own beliefs and practices.

I have heard tell that there are cruelly heartless rapscallions in Sydney offering to sell to those people desperate to escape the hell hole that is New South Wales a pair of shoddy walking boots and a hand drawn map before sending them on their way with a guide prepared to smuggle people into our colony. They plan to destroy (or "Lose") any identity papers they might have with them the better to remain anonymous and untraceable here in the new colony.

Who knows then who might make their way here? Radical Unionists; Atheists; Free Thinkers; Benthamites; Frenchmen; Owenists: none of them the sort we want here in South Australia and all of them the sort that would not hesitate to undermine our way of life in order to pursue their own nefarious, liberal ends. It is only a few years since that unfortunate business at Tolpuddle and I am sure we do not need a repeat of that debacle. Nor does the thought of another Peterloo Massacre on the plains of Adelaide fill me with delight. (Though, to be honest, if the Marines charged a mob of radicals the greatest danger would be that the radicals might die laughing!)

So it is clear to me that we must act to protect our Colony from illegal newcomers arriving by walking overland from Sydney. Not merely to protect us from those who wish to overturn us, but also as a kindness to those desperate souls who embark on the dangerous, probably lethal, journey down the Murray to our township.

I have stated in Council that we must "stop the walkers" and I have instructed Stephenson to produce handbills that can be distributed about the colony to that effect.

I am telling the people: "Anyone who has not arrived on our shores by boat must be treated with suspicion."

Perhaps I can raise a force of patrolmen who would move about the plains near the foothills, intercepting and turning back illegal traffic. Perhaps we can make it known that any who arrive here illegally will not be allowed to live in the city, but will be taken and resettled in the less hospitable and accessible locales of Glenelg and the Port.

As a last resort I could instruct Widow Harvey to meet them as they arrive and offer them a hearty meal. I feel sure that one bite and they would turn tail and head back to where they came from.

I have instructed Brown, the Emigration Agent, to plan to build a processing camp outside of the city limits in Light's "Parklands" near the Western boundary of the planned city and here arrivals will be detained until such time as their identity and status is proven.

We must determine for ourselves who arrives on our Colony's Shores. Only "boat people" may be considered safe.

And on a different matter it was pointed out to me in Council this week, by, I believe, Gouger, that the Liquor Licencing Act we passed recently calls for a Licencing fee of  £50 which sum, for the average sort, is rather prohibitive.

To be completely honest I did not really read the thing all that closely before I signed it into law, but I seem to recall that we agreed to a figure of £5 for the Licencing fee.

Is it possible that the draft of the Act was changed without my realising it? Could someone have added a zero to the figure before it was sent off to the printer?

Well yes it damned well is possible and it has the paw marks of Mrs Hindmarsh and her temperance views all over it. She was adamant that the Colony should be untainted by the Demon Drink and I have no doubt that she saw this as a blow against drunkenness. As she sees it, if no-one can afford a licence there will be no licenced premises. And with no licensed premises we will all be drinking "the cup that cheers without inebriating".

Or there will be a legal challenge and Jeffcott will disallow the law, the which is far more likely.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Sunday, 26th Feb, 1837

What exactly, I cannot help but ask, is the matter with the Captain of the "Tam O'Shanter"? Whiteman Freeman is his name and I am astonished by the man's incompetence.

The ship left England at the same time as we did on the Buffalo, but whereas we took a leisurely, pleasant cruise out here, the "Tam O'Shanter" rushed with unseemly haste and arrived at Kingscote more than a month before we did. Over seventy settlers on board and I doubt any of them had a chance to put their feet up and relax as we did. What is the point, I ask, of being on board a ship if you can't take the time to enjoy it?

The Tam O'Shanter

Be that as it may, after a few days at Kingscote the ship proceeded to Holdfast Bay and then Freeman, using all his navigational skill, tried to enter the Port River and promptly ran aground on a sandbar, the poltroon. Thanks to his stupidity it took four days just to refloat her, followed, once we managed to get her tied up safely, by two months of repairs. So this week he set off again and be buggered if the buggery bollocks didn't run her aground on the same bebuggered sandbar as before.

So now we are faced with refloating her and assessing the damage before repairing her all over again.

Damn and blast Whiteman Freeman to the fires of Hell! How he ever got his Captain's papers and commission I do not know, but I suspect he bought them at a cut rate price. The bastard son of a bastard dunderknoll!

We nearly lost the Marines earlier in the week. (That word "nearly" pains me as I write it.) They set out early in the morning to cut timber for my new residence and by late afternoon had not returned. They had taken sandwiches and a cake made by Widow Harvey, so naturally we feared for their lives. By early evening, when they still had not returned, we took to firing the guns on board the Buffalo in order to help them find their way. Naturally there was talk of them being taken by the natives, although I assured all that if the Natives did take the Marines they would certainly bring them back once they saw what a load of shoddy goods they had stolen.

Finally there was the sound of gun fire on the beach and the Marines appeared.... drunk and with no wood cut, but full of stories of what a grand day they had had. It appears that the highlight was target shooting using Lucrezia's cakes as skeet.

While we had been home worrying ourselves sick they had been off roistering and having a high old time. It is clear they display a level of irresponsibility and foolishness unique in my experience. Perhaps we could give them to the natives.

The building of Government House has made little progress I am sorry to say. The Marines have been the abject failure I predicted and I am no closer to moving off the Buffalo than I was a month ago. They have assured me that they are "making progress with the plans" and have, rather proudly, shown me their architectural drawing for Government House. I attach it here without comment.

The Marine's Final plan for Government House
The colony has had to avail itself of the stores on board the Buffalo due to a shortfall in supplies of food. One thousand pounds of flour, five hundred and sixty pound of sugar and two chests of tea have been transferred from ship to shore. The tea was of good quality and the sugar only a little adulterated with sand, but the flour, I am afraid to say, was through and through infested by weevils. Still, the oven kills them, they add flavour and as a source of fresh meat they make a change from possum and parrot.

I am in two minds about the arrangement. In my position as Governor of the colony I am disappointed at the high cost that we were forced to pay for these supplies. The Provisioner  of  the Buffalo drove a hard bargain, knowing that we had no choice but to pay him his extortionate rates. However, in my position as Provisioner of the Buffalo I am glad to say I scored a handsome profit and of the portion of the Colony funds still residing under my bed a goodly wad of it has moved to under my mattress.

Fortunately by having less provisions on board there is less opportunity for Widow Borgia to carry out her dreadful trade. "Derbyshire Dumplings" and "Cheshire Puftaloons" have crossed our plates this week and our lives are, no doubt, richer for the experience. We survived and are stronger for it.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Sunday, 19 February 1837

Currently lying at anchor in the Port River, but soon to depart for Sydney is "The Isabella" which arrived 10 days ago with passengers and livestock.

The livestock seemed an odd mix to me - eight hundred sheep and seven head of cattle. You might have thought they could have made the cattle numbers up to a decent number. Seven seems hardly worth the trouble. And eight hundred sheep. Man alive! Where are we going to put them? We barely have fences enough erected for two donkeys and six pigs.

Fisher had the bright idea of getting the marines to build the fencing for them. Oh well thought! - let's delay building the Governor's residence so the sheep are happy!

Amongst the passengers was Sir John Jeffcott who is to be our Judge here in the Colony. A good thing he spent the voyage from Launceston surrounded by eight hundred sheep. It will be good practice for dealing with some of the people we have living here.

I had occasion this week to inspect the first horses to arrive in the colony. They arrived on board "The Africaine" from Hobart Town. A decidedly dubious group of nags that some knackers yard in Hobart was, I don't doubt, glad to see the back of. That didn't stop Mrs Hindmarsh setting her heart on having one immediately. "It would be so elegant and so fitting for the Vice Regal couple to be driving in a trap pulled by a fine bay chestnut, rather than riding about on those nasty donkeys," she said.

As I recall "those nasty donkeys" are the same "dear little donkeys" she couldn't do without in Rio de Janeiro.

I pointed out three flaws in her argument. (1) They are not "fine bay chestnuts". They are broken winded, sway backed things probably good for nothing but dog's meat. (2) We have no trap for one to pull. (3) We have no road to pull a trap on.

I also thought, but kept silent, that if we did bring home a horse , Borgia Harvey would try and cook it. Probably pass it off as Royal Ascot Delights.

Speaking of Lucrezia, I asked her to simply poach me an egg, thinking that here was something she could not make a mess of. I was looking forward to cutting open the white and mopping up the gooey runny yellow with some bread. What arrived was inedible, but I could at least amuse myself by throwing it at the wall of my cabin and watching it bounce back onto my plate. This I did for about half an hour, before Lucrezia herself stuck her head round the door and bellowed "How are yous gettin' on wiv that egg?" at which interruption I dropped the thing on the floor. One of the dogs pounced on it and swallowed it in one gulp. He has been costive for two days since, I suspect unable to pass the solid mass of the poached egg.

I need to appoint a person to fill the position of Protector of the Aborigines. I needs must say that, from reports I have read, the natives living in the area chosen for the colony are far superior to those living in the other settled parts of New Holland. Their friendly dispositions, honesty and inoffensive conduct have fairly put to rest any fears we may have felt for our safety before our arrival.

The official policy that I have been instructed to enact is that we are to bring to the natives the benefits of English culture and to bring them within the pale of Christian civilization. As Governor of the colony I shall of course do my duty and work to effect this. But within these private pages let me record that I have some doubts.

I look at these friendly, honest and inoffensive natives and then look at our own little community; full of petty jealousy and squabbles, drunkenness and meanness of spirit and I cannot but wonder: if the natives and ourselves were placed in the balance which would be found the more worthy?

Are we really inviting these people, whose wants seem few and who seem to me to have a touch of simple dignity about them, to come and join us so that they can be like Stephens, Fisher, Kingston and Gilles? I am unconvinced.

I suspect I am the only one in  the colony who sees how poorly it reflects on us when we engage in appointing a Protector of the Aborigines when the only thing they seem to need protecting from is ourselves.

Still, the one man in the colony who probably does offer an example for the natives to follow is dear old Walter Bromley. Just about the kindest man who ever wore shoe leather, he has spent the last six months or so trying to establish a school for the children at Kingscote. Since I am not exactly being knocked over in  the rush of people applying for the position I have offered it to Walter. He tells me he is not a well man, but I believe his heart is in the right place. If any man in the colony can establish a rapport with the natives it is Captain Bromley. Whether he is strong willed enough to protect them from the rest of us remains to be seen.

The one thing I would note about the natives is their extra-ordinary ability to set fire to things. Every time you turn around there is some native chappy setting a bush or a shrub or a sapling ablaze. It is a complete mania with them.

This had amusing results about a week ago when a ship, the "John Renwick" arrived at Holdfast Bay with 140 new colonists aboard. The natives, for reasons best known to themselves, had decided to set the hills behind Adelaide on fire. Flames leapt across the hills face until it looked like a wall of fire and the poor passengers on board ship took it as a signal for the terrible native hoards to gather and rush down in waves to drive us poor Englishmen back into the sea.

Hence the settlers refused to leave the ship and sat up all night, shivering on deck, shivering in fear at the thought of the impending massacre. Eventually I had to send a message across to the Captain from the Buffalo telling them that they were all silly sods and to shift their arses or they would have me to deal with and I would give them something to be going on with.

Silly buggers. But amusing none the less.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Sunday,12 February 1837

By God I am getting heartedly sick of being stuck on board this boat. Yes, I am a navy man through and through and have been serving in His Majesty's Navy since I was a lad, but the facts of the matter are that the sooner I see the back of the Buffalo and get my feet permanently on solid ground the happier I will be.

With that in view I have set in train the steps to seeing a Vice-Regal residence built so that my family and I can have a god damned address!

This week I traveled up to the Torrens to speak with Colonel Light regarding a suitable spot for the house. With him and with his advice we found a place on the Northern Terrace of the city between the road and the river that seems more than suitable. Light has marked it down in his notes as reserved for my use.

The building will, by dint of necessity, be of earth and timber construction, I expect with a thatched roof, though timber slabs may be possible depending on availability of materials. Of course, a more substantial residency in dressed stone would be my ideal, but just at present such might be a step too far.

However, let me face the real difficulty here. And that is, the only people available to me to call on to erect this new home are - God help me - the marines.

The thought of that troop of drunken, foul mouthed, argumentative layabouts building my new abode chills me to the bone. Why, a troop of baboons would have more chance of building a ship of the line than the Marines do of building a house, though in the Marine's  defense it must be said that the baboons would have the advantage of being sober. Still, I have no alternative and so must give them their orders. "Build me a house, or livable facsimile of one. And hurry, because the Buffalo is needed in Sydney."

Lucrezia Harvey lived down to our expectations this week by presenting us with Hertfordshire Fricassee. "You make it with left overs," she told us. Given the quantity of leftovers she must have in that galley, since no-one can stomach an entire portion of her meals, she must have been spoilt for choice. But it would appear that she has not learnt the lesson that mixing and frying inedible slop simply creates crispy inedible slop, not an actual meal.

I am saddened, annoyed and more than a little astonished to report that Mrs Hindmarsh's efforts to mobilise the wives of the Colony in stirring up trouble have been effective enough to warrant a public meeting to settle the question of the site of the capital once and for all. And, of course, word has got around that this is all my doing and it is me that wants the move to Boston Bay or the mouth of the river on the south coast when, in fact, I am perfectly content with Light's choice and it is my wife who is causing the kerfuffle. No doubt it suits her to have it believed that I am the cause.

When I was with Light earlier in the week speaking with him about the site of Government House we took the opportunity to cook up a plan between us that will, we think, settle the matter. I am going to "demand"  that something be done about the Port, this being one of the chief objections to the current site, and Light will, "grudgingly" offer to put aside the survey of the capital in order to spend a week or so surveying a number of acres by the port river, thus enabling work to begin on the development of a port facility. Since he was planning on doing this anyway the inconvenience to him will be negligible, but the effect of this will, of course be that an angry Governor has been mollified by a Surveyor ready to compromise.

As icing on the cake we have also decided that Light will put forward the notion of a canal from the port river to the Torrens River, following the line of the road up to where the Colonel intends the cattle yards to be, on the corner of the Northern and Western boundaries Adelaide South.

Those people, such as, it seems, myself, who maintain that the port is too far from the city will be silenced at a blow. And I will be able to assure Mrs Hindmarsh that I did all I could in her interests.

Of course the canal scheme is complete fantasy and Light and I had trouble containing our derision at the idea of the worthies of Adelaide taking it hook line and sinker.

For one thing the cost of such a canal would be entirely prohibitive, unless we get Osmond Gilles drunk again.

But what caused the Colonel and I the greatest smirking and helpless giggling is the idea of the worthies of Adelaide attempting to build such a thing. Only the other day Fisher told me that he found it difficult to get servants to dig his vegetable garden. If Nero with all the resource of the Roman Empire couldn't manage to build a canal across the Corinthian Isthmus, it is unimaginable that this lot, who can't plant out a few turnips, could dig a navigable waterway twice as long. And when I suggested that we might set the Marines to work on it poor Light was helpless with mirth.

I have decided not to attend the meeting, but have written a letter which will, I think, add credence to Light's and my plan. The outraged Governor, the poor set upon Surveyor. I suppose it will look bad for me, but if I do not play my part in this farce Mrs Hindmarsh may learn that I disagree with her and am working against her and a little loss of  prestige is as nothing compared to the consequences of that disaster.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Sunday, 5th February 1837

Dear me, the Reverend Charles Howard has been in a tizzy this week.

Now I believe I made it clear enough at the time as to my opinion regarding a state sponsored religion in the new colony. To have an official Colonial Chaplain appointed as a part of the Governing Council of the Colony seems to strike at the idea Gibbon Wakefield (the old ravisher) had of Church and State being separate.

Although I am not a dissenter myself,  I have little time for the God bothering enthusiasm of the pious and good. Go to church of a Sunday to keep in touch, both with your fellows and with Heaven, then put your head down and shift for your self for the next six days would be my creed in a nutshell.

Charlie Howard, of course, is a different kettle of fish all together.  He oozes piety and expects others to ooze with him. He seems genuinely excited by that which might bore rigid the less pious. So naturally he has been frothing to the point of ecstasy this week at the unloading of his church building from the ship.

As a gesture of godliness, a group of London worthies dedicated to the triumph of the Gospel spent a small fortune in delivering to the Colony a wooden church building that has been knocked down into its component parts, the idea being that it be re-assembled on a town acre quickly in order to allow the godly of the colony to continue their worship with as little interruption as possible.

The problem with London worthies, of course is that while they might have their eyes and hearts on heaven their eyes and hearts are most certainly not on practical matters. Hence they spent all their money on getting a disassembled church to the colony, but did not put aside funds to get the thing reassembled when it got here. Which leaves Charlie with the task of going cap in hand around the traps cadging money from anyone he can touch for a few shekels.

I gave him five pounds and sent him on his way. Five pounds might seem a lot, but when you are Governor you need to keep up form.

London worthies have also bollocksed us all in regard to food. It seems the Commissioners (God rot them) were of the view that within a few weeks of landing in Holdfast Bay we would all be cheerfully gardening and growing our own fresh fruit and vegetables and living off the fat of the land.

Of course the pratical result ("practical" - a word the commissioners are clearly unacquainted with) is that we are running out of food.

I have given an order for the Rapid to set sail for Sydney to purchase our much needed supplies. Such supplies need to be paid for, naturally, and in order to do so I have issued a letter of credit drawing on bills of 5000 pounds from the British Treasury.

Strictly speaking I am not entitled to do so without the Authority of the Commissioners being granted, but by the time I send back to England asking permission and get a reply it will be eight months - longer if they decide to discuss it - and we'll all be starved to death!

 I am certain the decision will come back to haunt me, if not bite me on the arse, but what other choice do I have?

Mrs Hindmarsh and her coven have been at work once again. The question of the site  for the capital, which I thought quite settled, has raised its ugly head again. I thought it had been agreed by all that the site on the River Torrens was the best available and we would proceed on that plan. Certainly Light, who has been surveying like the devil himself, is working as if the thing is done and dusted.

But I am hearing talk of Boston Bay and the Murray Mouth, both of them being Mrs Hindmarsh's preferred options and I fear she is using her influence to stir up trouble,

Certainly she is attempting to influence me, quite improperly, over a matter in Council. Before the Council this week has been a Licencing Bill to regulate the selling of Spirits, Beer and Wines in the Colony.

My wife is firmly of the opinion that intoxicating beverages are a work of purest evil. She has a speech I have heard many, many times; so many that I can quote it from memory.

"Intoxicating liquor is injurious to health, deleterious to industry and incompatible with morality.It weakens the will and destroys the flesh. It hastens death and ensures an afterlife in hell. Those who indulge in incontinence lower themselves to the level of the beasts, corrupting God's image that is the birthright of men."

Where she got all this I do not know. Probably from some tract or other. I believe that she just dislikes seeing people enjoy themselves. "Dost thou think, because thou art virtuous, there shall be no more cakes and ale?"

She has been known to declare that "Lips that touch wine shall ne'er touch mine!" a declaration that has caused much relief to wine drinkers everywhere. Indeed, some have asked for it in writing.

I did point out that part of the purpose of the bill is to control drunkenness. For Mrs Hindmarsh the only way to control it is to not allow it to happen in the first place.

The result is that she wants me to cause the bill to be rewritten so that the Colony becomes entirely a temperance community.

Well of course it is nonsense - imagine the Marines sober for one thing - but I have promised to do something about it.

Of course I shall do nothing, bur she is not to know that. Besides, I like a tipple.

What I do not like is Widow Harvey's cooking.

She continues to weave her culinary magic, rather like a kitchen based weird sister.

The low point this week was something she called "Devonshire Hot Pot with a twist". The twist, it seems, was that she had been unable to procure a suitable cut of beef and so she had made it with possum. I was pulling fur from between my teeth for three days after.