Thursday, 17 May 2018

Sunday, 4th March 1838

Last week the Widow Harvey, Poisoner to the Gentry, managed to get her hands on Young Bingham Hutchinson's giant melon.

She assured me that she would make something memorable out of it. Well, she came through in Spades, because the meal she prepared will live long in the annals of culinary infamy.

She grated the thing, mixed it with flour, water and what she decribed as "secret ingredients" and fried the resulting mess as fritters. It was, she told me, "mock fish".

Exactly what  terrible offence the innocent piscene denizens of Neptune's deep have given to deserve such cruel  mockery I do not know, but it seems both needlessly harsh and undeserved.

Mock fish? We went well beyond the realms of mockery and seemed to reach savage satire. I could only slowly shake my head at the inhumanity of it all.

Then I nearly broke a tooth on something sharp and hard. It appears that Lucrezia the mad poisoner had not bothered to remove the skin from the gourd before cooking it. I questioned her about it and she said that she had done it that way deliberately. "The skin is where the goodness is!" she told me.

Clearly the woman has a different view from most as to what constitutes "goodness".

Dear Lord! We have met the new Advocate-General, Mr George Milner Stephen. In fact we seem to have become infested with the new Advocate-General, who seems to treat Government House as his personal pied a terre. As a result I find him everywhere I look and between him and Widow Harvey's brat of a child I can say that the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Governor of South Australia hath not where to lay his head.

Other than a talent for drawing and playing the flute and the guitar I see nothing else that might recommend Mr Milner Stephen as a legal talent. He, however, seems to think that he is the finest legal  mind since Blackstone himself. Well, I admire his confidence, but remain to be convinced that his high opinion of himself is grounded in some semblance of reality.

I note that he is adept at charming the womenfolk. He has smarmed all over Mrs Hindmarsh, which suggests some strength of character, but also seems to wish to work his charms on my daughters as well. Well, we shall see.

I did feel sorry for the man when he was introduced to the delights of South Australian politicking when Mr Fisher's fiddling blew up in his face. 

After the meeting Fisher held without notice a week or so ago, where he attempted to influence the selection of land to his own and his cronies' advantage, a group of colonists went before the courts and had an injunction granted them by Milner Stephen halting Fisher's plans.

Fisher has been getting about the place saying that there was no legal action against him which is a remarkable claim given that there clearly was one. And in fact, Milner Stephen has show remarkable fortitude by replying to Fisher that "There WAS a legal action against you because I granted it!"

There was a degree of Fisherite huffing and puffing when Milner Stephen dropped some very dark hints about Contempt of Court and what might happen to a man bound over to keep the peace who did not keep to the terms of the injunction granted by the Court.

Fisher has since changed his tune to be "There was no Injunction against Mr Fisher. The injunction was granted against the actions of the Land Committe." which is a nice distinction, given that Fisher formed the Committe, chaired the meetings and stacked the membership with people who would vote as he directed. 

I swear the man is making it up as he goes along.

I have a reasonable swathe of land and, as a private land owner, wrote to FIsher asking for assurances that the value of my land would not be decreased by his actions. Well, if it gave Mr Fisher a few moments discomfort then it brightened my day.

Instead Fisher is now claiming that I am, as Governor, interfering in the proper workings of the Commissioner's business and that the Crown (meaning me) has no right to expect an answer.

Well, that seems rich! The number of times I issued a Proclamation and had Fisher declare it none of his business and hence not Government business! And now, when I enquire AS A PRIVATE CITIZEN he starts sqealing like a stuck pig about interference.

The man is out of control and I cannot help but feel that one of us will have to go!  

Monday, 14 May 2018

Sunday 25th February,1838

Mountaineer, explorer and the Kiss of Death to Judges, Young Bingham Hutchinson has added yet another string to his bow, namely that of champion melon grower.

It appears that a melon was picked in Hutchison's garden that weighed 18 pound and was 29 and a half inches long and 33 inches in circumference. Hutchinson has, inevitably, been bragging about the town, saying that no man in the colony has grown one has big as his. 

My sister Anne seemed quite deflated when she learned he was referring to a melon.

Damn fool woman! "What else did you think it would be?" I asked her, but it appears that she has hold of the wrong end of the stick.

He presented it to the Widow Harvey, who has promised to "prepare something delicate with it", a promise which does not fill me with confidence.

Hutchinson himself has been pointing out to all who will listen, or even give the appearance of being about to do so, that this gargantuan gourd was raised without the application of manure. Personally, I cannot help but feel that the air round Hutchinson's house is so thick with braggadaccio that it does the job of manure of the richest kind.

This dashing individual was brought up before the court earlier this month having challenged Fisher to a duel.

At the beginning of February, in the "Gazette" yet another letter from "A Colonist" was published suggesting that when it came to the Company accounts Fisher was fiddling like Nero over the burning Rome. The last time "A Colonist" published Fisher threatened all and sundry with every form of legal action from slander to breach of promise.

This time "A Colonist" has outdone themselves with a series of questions for Mr Fisher. I attach a cutting from the newspaper below.

Is it true that the whole expense of bringing up the emigrants' baggage to Adelaide from Glenelg and the Port has been paid by Mr. Resident Commissioner Fisher on public account?

That no public tender or contract has been made, but that his sons, Messrs, Fisher Brothers, have been employed as the carriers to the total exclusion of the colonists generally? 
Is it true that the Colonial Treasurer has refused Mr. Fisher's order to pay Mr. ex-Emigration Agent Brown's salary since the date of his sus-pension? 
Is it true that Mr. Fisher refused to pay salaries to certain officers appointed by the Governor in council on the grounds that he had received no official notification of their appointment, or that he had no authority in the Commissioner's instructions to make these or similar payments? 
Is it true that he has had no official notification of the appointment by the Governor in council of Mr. Samuel Smart as Sheriff of the province; butthat he has paid him regularly his salary? And is it true that Mr. Smart was the active agent of the newspaper committee, of which Mr. Fisher is theleading member, in getting published in Van Diemen's Land articles abusive of the South Australian Gazette and the Colonial Government of thisprovince? 
Is it true that the public has been saddled by Mr Fisher's orders or consent with no less than two additional surgeons, at a salary of £11 a year and rations, under the name of "Medical Officers of the Survey;" and the colony thus has had to pay three medical men, while the fact is, there is not employment in all the public departments combined for one?
Is it true that Mr. Fisher has no authority from the Commissioners to pay Dr. Wright £6 a year and rations; and that Dr. Wright's salary is nevertheless paid out of the public purse? and that in fact Dr. Wright, who was refused the appointment of Colonial Surgeon by the Commissioners is betterpaid by Mr. Fisher, with £20 a year and rations, than the successful candidate for the office of Colonial Surgeon, Mr. Cotter, with £16 a year only? 
My stock is not exhausted, but your space and your readers patience may be.So I rest,
You and The Public's Faithful Servant
Hutchinson decided that he wanted no more to do with such sharp and shady practice but had the difficulty of having recently been recommended by Fisher in a letter to Lord Glenelg in London. Hutchinson vows and declares, hand on heart, that Fisher did this off the top of his head, unsolicited from Hutchinson and, whats more, seems to believe that people are going to think for one minute that this is even likely.

So Hutchinson, of whom it may be said that he gives his all to a cause, no matter how stupid it may make him look, took it into his head to resign as Emigration Agent in order to be under no obligation to Fisher and also, as he said, so that he would be able to deal with him man to man and not as Superior to Employee.

That being done he then fired off a letter to Fisher telling him he was no gentleman and not to be trusted and  that Hutchinson would be happy to meet with Fisher at a place of his choosing if Fisher wished to have satisfaction for the insult.

Well Hutchinsion might have seen himself as some eighteenth century gay blade, duelling with rapiers at dawn, but Fisher was having none of it. To be honest I see his point. Having chaps wandering the town using other chaps as pin cushions is not what I want for the Colony. I want to see the back of Fisher as much as the next man but I have to draw the line somewhere and having him perforated seems a step too far. Anyway, he leapt in action by forwarding the letter to me and demanding that Hutchinson be dealt with by the law. 

Well, Henry Wrigley is the Resident Magistrate and this seemed to be a good chance for him to earn his keep. Accordingly I sent the Marines around to invite Fisher and Hutchinson to appear at Government House at heir earliest convenience. Well, my earliest convenience really, as they were on my doorstep within the hour.

Wrigley heard their stories and promptly called upon the two of them to enter into recognizances of £lOOO each and two sureties in £500 each to keep the peace towards each other and all her Majesty's subjects for twelve months from this date.

"Fat chance" I would suggest. I give it a few weeks before one or the other of them takes some offence and it will, once again, be on for young and old.

And sure enough almost immediately word came to me of yet another of Fisher's cheats. 

On Tuesday last Fisher called a meeting of Preliminary Landholders - those entitled to selections of land once the survey is finally completed. Of course he did not bother to advertise such a meeting  to the general public - there was no announcement of the thing in the Gazette - and his intention was clear. The meeting was called to decide upon the order of selections. Obviously Fisher and his cronies hoped to force others to make their selections first, since, with the Durvey still not finished only the lands close in to the town would be available to select. Then, once the rich lands along the Murray and the Southern Lakes were surveyed Fisher and friends would be abe to say "Oh, is no-one else left to have this land? Oh well, I suppose I must have it!"

The man has no scruples to speak of. I am tempted to let Hutchinson loose on him after all.

I suggested to Sam Smart that the recent silence from the Van Diemonian Crime Gang might be evidence that the recent crime wave had ended. 

"Ah no!" he said. "If they are quiet then they are planning something. And I think we might expect it to be something big!"

I wish I had never thought to employ the man. 

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Sunday, 18th February, 1838

[Editor's Note - In the original diary two newspaper cuttings had been pinned to the top of the page. They are transcribed below]


WHEN Mr. R. GOUGER was appointed Colonial Secretary to the Province of South Australia, a remark was made to one of the present officers of the colony by a gentlemen who knew and appreciated Mr. Gouger thoroughly, which the conduct and fate of the man has impressed strongly upon our memory

" It is an unfortunate appointment I admit," said Mr. ——— "but he has worked for some-thing of the sort for nine years; yet such is the emptiness of the fellow that you will see he wants ballast to keep his office nine months." 

This prophecy has been verified almost to the letter. After a few months swagger in office, during which time he contrived to sicken with his insolence almost every person with whom he transacted business, and to disgust those whom he dared not openly insult, 

Mr. Gouger committed a most disgraceful and unprovoked assault upon the person of the Colonial Treasurer in the public streets of Adelaide, and was suspended from his office by the Governor in opposition to the opinions of Mr. Fisher, the Resident Commissioner, who desired to "hush the matter up." and who evidently did not think Mr. Gouger's conduct sufficiently disreputable to disqualify him as a brother councillor, and of Mr Mann, the then Advocate General, who was, in fact, particeps criminis —the individual who led Mr. Gouger into the scrape. These gentlemen, however, failed in persuading the Governor that a ruffian-like attack such as the one committed by the Colonial Secretary could be passed over with a reprimand. 

His Excellency suspended Mr. Gouger from his office, and was applauded for doing so by every right thinking and unprejudiced man in the colony. The ex-Colonial Secretary departed from the colony with the melancholy consciousness of not having left one real friend behind him, or of having done a solitary act deserving public gratitude. He had exerted himself to bring the Governor's administration into disrepute, and might have been successful had not his designs been suspected and frustrated. From the first he was the tool of the petty clique, whose names we shall presently exhibit, and after his well-deserved suspension he became their pet. 

It was impossible to raise the poor fellow from the dirt, so they magnanimously resolved to lie down beside him. The following letters, which we find in the Launceston Advertiser, convey to us and to the public of South Australia the first intelligence of the astounding fact that a sort of certificate of character had been secretly got up to give Mr. Gouger an
apology for venturing to look Lord Glenelg or Colonel Torrens in the face.

To the Editor of the Launceston Advertiser. 
Launceston, December 2, 1837. 

Sir: l am induced by some passages in a leading article on South Australia which appeared in your journal of the 30th ult. to send you a copy of a protest against my suspension from office by order of his Excellency Governor HINDMARSH, contrary to the advice of the other members of council present, and also of a letter addressed to Colonel Torrens, chairman of the South Australian commission, by gentlemen of the highest repute in the province, a duplicate of which was placed open in my hands on the day prior to my departure for England. 

I am exceedingly reluctant thus to obtrude myself upon the notice of the public, and particularly to be led into any justification of my own character. Seeing however that the absence of a free press in South Australia precludes any attempt at vindication there, and feeling that the public position I have occupied has not had the effect of steeling me against the opinion of the virtuous part of the community, I venture to request you to publish the papers which I now enclose.


Adelaide. August 28,1837.


We cannot allow Mr. GOUGER to relinquish his situation of Colonial Secretary of this province without expressing our deep feeling of regret that he should so summarily have been suspended from an office which he has filled with a degree of zeal and ability which few could have surpassed, and without expressing the sincere respect and esteem we feel for his character. 

In looking forward to the future we strongly feel that the loss to the public service of one so well qualified to assist in carrying forward the great principles upon which this colony has been formed must greatly retard the rapid progress which it has hitherto made; and further, that the security and confidence we have felt that the best measures would be adopted for the public benefit have been much lessened by the treatment of one who has laboured so much and so unremittingly for the colony.

 As landholders and as individuals who have vested their whole interests in South Australia we have felt it our duty to lay before you our sentiments on this important occasion, and trust that the appeal we feel compelled to make to you will not be without its effect. 

We have the honor to remain, &c. &c. &c. 

John Barton Hack. 

John Morphett. 
Stephen Hack. 
Charles Mann. Advocate General, &c. 
Charles Brown Fisher. 
James Fisher. 
Henry Jickling. 
T. Young Cotter. Colonial Surgeon. 
Alfred Hardy. 
Thomas Gilbert. Colonial Storekeeper. 
W. H. Neale 
Charles Berkeley. 
Edward Wright, M.D., Medical Officer to the Survey Department. 
John Brown, Emigration Agent. 
William Light, Surveyor General. 
J. H. Fisher, Colonial Commissioner. 
R. K. Hill. 
John White. 
Charles Nantes. 
Samuel Stephens, Colonial Manager of South Australian Company. 
Edward Stephens, J.P.  


So this is what Fisher meant by "Mr Mann's Mission" in Tasmania!

It has been brought to my attention by young Johnny, who is still in Hobart Town, that the press in Van Deimens Land has published a copy of a letter sent to Colonel Torrens in London.

The intention, clearly, is to spread rumour and scuttlebutt regarding my Governorship and to gather sympathy for Gouger. And if sympathy for Gouger allows sympathy for Fisher to spread in London then I imagine that Fisher imagines that such will be all the better.

But look at this letter. We have more than two thousands of people here in the Colony as I speak. And all Fisher could manage to gather to sign this silliness was twenty-one names. Twenty-one out of two thousand! The thing is pathetic.

And many of those twenty-one can be held at a discount. Henry Jickling assured me that he signed the letter out of feeling for Gouger, whose life has been very dark this past twelve months, and not out of any agreement with Fisher. He further assured me that several others had signed out of similar feeling.

Of course the Fisherites all signed the letter. Mann, Gilbert, Brown, Hack, Ted Stephens. If you wanted to fit them all in a matchbox you'd fit Fisher inside first and the rest would crawl up his backside.

Dear Lord! they got Sam Stephens to sign! Stephens, who would sign away his life if you gave him a half sovereign! Do they expect people to take this nonsense seriously? Because if they do putting Sam Stephens on show will put a dent in people's belief in them!

And have they no shame? James FIsher! Charles Fisher! The man found two of his own children to sign the paper! And even then he could only persuade two out of the several dozen he could have chosen from.  

I remarked to George Stevenson - and I expect he will print it as his own - that It is a singular specimen of Gouger's damned cheek, as well as an outrageous libel upon the great body of colonists to call the rapscallions who figure in these monkey shines "gentlemen of the HIGHEST repute in the colony" and "the VIRTUOUS part of the community". Be buggered! 

I'd like to know how these paragons of virtue themselves feel under Mr. Gouger's description of them? Blushing embarrassment I would say, although they might net even recognise themselves. The virtuous part of the community! Hack, Mann and Brown! 

Well, at all events I hope the public will not believe Gouger's statement that the these gentlemen monopolise the entire "virtue" of the colony. Gouger's word is not to be depended upon in the slightest. The poor man evidently labours under a disease which incapacitates him for telling the truth on any occasion, or under any circumstances.