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. 

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