Friday, 6 July 2018

Sunday, 11th March, 1838

Well, Mr. Fisher has received a fair belting this last week. A blow like a boot to the dangly bits.

He appeared in the Supreme Court in order to persuade the Judge Trickling Jicking to sanction a departure from the instructions of the Commissioners by means of the sharp dealing that Milner Stephen has already granted  an injunction against.

He stood in court and waffled on with all the same legal precision and expertise that left him a laughing stock in Sammy Stephens's attempted murder trial.

He carried on huffing and puffing and moved for the "immediate dissolution of the injunction" in the apparent belief that using long and impressive words was nine tenths of the law. All the old chestnuts were wheeled out including, I am told, Portia on "The Quality of Mercy" and Iago's "Who steals my purse steals trash". The only way it could have been more ludicrous is if when Fisher intoned "The quality of mercy is not strained" the court called back "Oh yes it is!" so that Fisher could reply like Mr Punch "Oh no it isn't!" "Oh yes it is!"

But perhaps he reached his apotheosis when he declared, in ringing tones, that "Public lands have been surveyed to an extent of above 100,000 acres." Members of the surveying party were in the gallery and I am told that the look on their faces when they heard how much land Fisher was sure they had surveyed was a picture!

It is in the nature of the job of surveying that the surveyor has a pretty clear idea of how much land he has surveyed. That's rather the point of the exercise. And to see them in court open mouthed in wonder or sniggering gives a pretty good idea of exactly what Mr. Fisher's declaration is worth.

Perhaps Finniss stood on the summit of Mt Lofty and looked across the plains and said "That must be damned near 100,000 acres", but that's about as much surveying as I'm prepared to accept.

And when Fisher, of all people, gravely intoned "persons making a statement to the courts should be very careful that they are only stating the truth." it wasn't just the survey party who were open mouthed. Even Fisher's own supporters found it difficult to suppress their gasps of wonder and amazement that their leader, who couldn't lie straight in bed, should make such a statement and expect it to be given credence coming from his lips.

You do have to admire Fisher for the extent of the bare faced effrontery he brings to the courts. This a world beating level of impudence. Single handedly Fisher has thrust the Colony into the forefront of liars everywhere.

Fortunately even so fluff brained a Judge as Henry Jickling seems to have, for a wonder, sided with common sense and confirmed the injunction and denied Fisher his desired sanction.

Fisher has, of course, been muttering about "dark forces arrayed against him",but so far as I can see the only thing against him is himself.

Terrible news this week as it became known that one of the Colonists has been speared and killed by an Aboriginal native.

Last Friday William Williams was down at the Company Store when he was told that a man had been found dead on the other side of the river. Williams, who still fancies himself as a Policeman, despite an experience on the beat where a whistle was forcibly shoved where the sun doesn't shine, started asking all and sundry and was told that the man had indeed been murdered - speared by two natives called William and George. Of course no-one knew who  William and George were, or even if they really existed, but what we did know was that Enoch Pegler lay dead with two spear wounds in his chest.

I did not know Pegler as he arrived in the Colony as a labourer only last December and here were are in March and he is dead!

At the Inquest on Friday and Yesterday it became clear that Pegler went down to the Aboriginal Campsite on Thursday Night to watch their singing and dancing. his has become something of a regular pastime amongst the settlers and the Natives have welcomed them with open arms, on the understanding that the Settlers are the guests of the natives and expected to behave as such.

Pegler, it seems, did not behave as such. He generally made a nuisance of himself, got himself drunk, tried to make free with the Native women and, when the Natives made it clear that he was no longer welcome, refused to leave and tried, once more, to sit amongst the womenfolk. When the dancing was over, the Natives once more invited him to leave and he staggered off a short distance before lying down on the ground and going to sleep.

At some time during the night he was speared through  the heart and killed.I have heard talk that he was killed in retaliation for the killing of native dogs. (and did I not say that there would be trouble  because of that practice?) It may be that Pegler was involved in the killing of dogs or no, but he has certainly paid the price for it. And his outrageous and drunken actions towards the women of the camp cannot have endeared himself to the Native men.

The result was that by the morning Pegler was dead, speared twice through the heart. And a group of natives, it is said the same William and George, whoever they might be, hurled a spear or two at Cpt Burns of the Giraffe as he travelled up from the Port. Whoever our spear throwers may be (and several of the natives who speak some English have been quick to suggest that they were men of the Tribe that live at the Head of the Gulph) they have disappeared and tomorrow I expect the Coroner to bring in a verdict of "murder by persons unknown".

Of course there has been talk around the town that us colonists should be heading down to the native camp and taking our revenge, that we should "teach them a lesson" to make sure this doesn't happen again. Well, this just will not do.

Before we left London a couple of years ago there was a dinner held in my honour and plenty of speeches were made about the hopes for the new colony. The speeches were written up and published and I dug out my copy. Because one speech sticks in my mind. A man named Higgins, the Secretary of "The Society for the Protection and Benefit of the Aborigines of the British Colonies" said this:

The history of colonization is a history of the operations of the worst passions of the human heart: every page is the record of some atrocious crime; oppression and bloodshed have almost universally attended the progress of colonization in ancient and in modern times. ... A spirit of retaliation,on the part of both settlers and aborigines, has thus been excited, so violent, that a deadly feud commonly exists between them, and death is the almost certain fate of a straggler from either party.

Well, not if I have any say in the matter. And, as it happens, since I am the Queen's Representative I do have a say in the matter. So Yesterday I had a Proclamation circulated about the town. It reads:

By His Excellency John Hindmarsh, Knight of the Royal Hanoverian Guelpuie Order, Captain in the Royal Navy, Governor and Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Province of South Australia. 

WHEREAS I have heard with painful regret that an inquest was held yesterday on the body of a man who it is strongly suspected has been murdered by one of the Aborigines, and likewise that a person was yesterday speared by another of them : And whereas there is reason to believe, after the long and friendly intercourse that has subsisted between the Colonists and the Aborigines, that these outrages have been induced by some previous aggression on the part of certain colonists, at present unknown: Now, therefore, I, the Governor, do strictly command and warn all her Majesty's subjects within this Province to abstain from any hostile measures whatever against the said Aborigines; and especially not to use or threaten to use fire arms; but to remember at all times, that the native population are under equal protection of the laws, and are to be regarded and treated, and are liable to the same punishment in all respects, as her Majesty's other subjects. The advantages which may be derived by treating the Aborigines with kindness, notwithstanding what has recently occurred, must be evident; for, by retaliating injuries with a race of beings who never discriminate when seeking revenge, the unoffending may suffer for the wrong-doer. But I, the Governor, will nevertheless adopt every measure, and afford the Colonists all the protection in my power to preserve their lives and properties : and the Colonists may therefore repose with confidence in the exertions and pro-tection of her Majesty's Government. 

Given under my Hand and Seal of the Province aforesaid, at Government House, Adelaide, 
this Tenth Day of March, A.D. 
One Thousand Eight Hundred and Thirty-eight. 
J. HINDMARSH, Governor. 
By His Excellency's command, 
Colonial Secretary pro tem. 

Not surprisingly this has not gone over well. Not because I am stopping the bully boys forming a gang and going out to extract rough justice, by rather because I refer to "certain colonists" and Fisher is convinced I am referring slightingly to him. No doubt he will threaten legal action in due course.

To mollify the crowds I also had the following promulgated.


IN reference to the Proclamation this day issued by the Governor, I am commanded by his Excellency to request, with a view to prevent unnecessary collision with the Aborigines, that the Colonists will, in every instance of an Aborigine committing a fault or any act of impropriety, report the circumstance to William Wyatt, Esq., the Protector of the Aborigines, or to Mr. James Cronk, the Interpreter; in order that measures may be taken to prevent repetitions of such conduct, by an uniform system of punishment. 

And his Excellency hopes that, for the general good, no such conduct will in any case be over, looked; but that, nevertheless, the Colonists will never attempt themselves to punish the offence, even though by the slightest chastisement. 
Colonial Secretary pro tem. 
Colonial Secretary's Office, 
Adelaide, March 10, 1838.

Let them stick that in their pipes and smoke it.

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