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- The Bushman - 2/51 -


29. -- MISFORTUNES OF THE COLONY.

30. -- RESOURCES OF THE COLONY: -- HORSES FOR INDIA. -- WINE. -- DRIED FRUITS. -- COTTON. -- COAL. -- WOOL. -- CORN. -- WHALE- OIL. -- A WHALE HUNT. -- CURED FISH. -- SHIP TIMBER.

31. -- RISE AND FALL OF A SETTLEMENT. -- THE SEQUEL TO CAPTAIN GREY'S DISCOVERIES. -- A WORD AT PARTING.

(PLATES.

KANGAROO HUNTING (Frontispiece). THE BIVOUAC. SPEARING KANGAROO. DEATH OF THE KANGAROO. EMU HUNT (woodcut).)

THE BUSHMAN;

OR,

LIFE IN A NEW COUNTRY.

CHAPTER 1.

COLONISTS.

The Spirit of Adventure is the most animating impulse in the human breast. Man naturally detests inaction; he thirsts after change and novelty, and the prospect of excitement makes him prefer even danger to continued repose.

The love of adventure! how strongly it urges forward the Young! The Young, who are ever discontented with the Present, and sigh for opportunities of action which they know not where to seek. Old men mourn over the folly and recklessness of the Young, who, in the fresh and balmy spring-time of life, recoil from the confinement of the desk or the study, and long for active occupation, in which all their beating energies may find employment. Subjection is the consequence of civilized life; and self-sacrifice is necessary in those who are born to toil, before they may partake of its enjoyments. But though the Young are conscious that this is so, they repine not the less; they feel that the freshness and verdure of life must first die away; that the promised recompense will probably come too late to the exhausted frame; that the blessings which would now be received with prostrate gratitude will cease to be felt as boons; and that although the wishes and wants of the heart will take new directions in the progress of years, the consciousness that the spring-time of life -- that peculiar season of happiness which can never be known again -- has been consumed in futile desires and aspirations, in vain hopes and bitter experiences, must ever remain deepening the gloom of Memory.

Anxious to possess immediate independence, young men, full of adventurous spirit, proceed in search of new fields of labour, where they may reap at once the enjoyments of domestic life, whilst they industriously work out the curse that hangs over the Sons of Adam.

They who thus become emigrants from the ardent spirit of adventure, and from a desire to experience a simpler and less artificial manner of living than that which has become the essential characteristic of European civilization, form a large and useful body of colonists. These men, notwithstanding the pity which will be bestowed upon them by those whose limited experience of life leads to the belief that happiness or contentment can only be found in the atmosphere of England, are entitled to some consideration and respect.

To have dared to deviate from the beaten track which was before them in the outset of life; to have perceived at so vast a distance advantages which others, if they had seen, would have shrunk from aiming at; to have persevered in their resolution, notwithstanding the expostulations of Age, the regrets of Friendship, and the sighs of Affection -- all this betokens originality and strength of character.

Does it also betoken indifference to the wishes of others? Perhaps it does; and it marks one of the broadest and least amiable features in the character of a colonist.

The next class of emigrants are those who depart from their native shores with reluctance and tears. Children of misfortune and sorrow, they would yet remain to weep on the bosom from which they have drawn no sustenance. But the strong blasts of necessity drive them from the homes which even Grief has not rendered less dear. Their future has never yet responded to the voice of Hope, and now, worn and broken in spirit, imagination paints nothing cheering in another land. They go solely because they may not remain -- because they know not where else to look for a resting place; and Necessity, with her iron whip, drives them forth to some distant colony.

But there is still a third class, the most numerous perhaps of all, that helps to compose the population of a colony. This is made up of young men who are the wasterels of the World; who have never done, and never will do themselves any good, and are a curse instead of a benefit to others. These are they who think themselves fine, jovial, spirited fellows, who disdain to work, and bear themselves as if life were merely a game which ought to be played out amid coarse laughter and wild riot.

These go to a colony because their relatives will not support them in idleness at home. They feel no despair at the circumstance, for their pockets have been refilled, though (they are assured) for the last time; and they rejoice at the prospect of spending their capital far from the observation of intrusive guardians.

Disgusted at authority which has never proved sufficient to restrain or improve them, they become enamoured with the idea of absolute license, and are far too high-spirited to entertain any apprehensions of future poverty. These gallant-minded and truly enviable fellows betake themselves, on their arrival, to the zealous cultivation of field-sports instead of field produce. They leave with disdain the exercise of the useful arts to low-bred and beggarly-minded people, who have not spirit enough for anything better; whilst they themselves enthusiastically strive to realize again those glorious times,--

"When wild in woods the noble savage ran."

In the intervals of relaxation from these fatigues, when they return to a town life, they endeavour to prove the activity of their energies and the benevolence of their characters, by getting up balls and pic-nics, solely to promote the happiness of the ladies. But notwithstanding this appearance of devotion to the fair sex, their best affections are never withdrawn from the companion of their hearts -- the brandy flask. They evince their generous hospitality by hailing every one who passes their door, with "How are you, old fellow? Come in, and take a nip." Somehow or other they are always liked, even by those who pity and despise them.

The women only laugh at their irregularities -- they are such "good-hearted creatures!" And so they go easily and rapidly down that sloping path which leads to ruin and despair. What is their end? Many of them literally kill themselves by drinking; and those who get through the seasoning, which is the fatal period, are either compelled to become labourers in the fields for any one who will provide them with food; or else succeed in exciting the compassion of their friends at home, by their dismal accounts of the impossibility of earning a livelihood in a ruined and worthless colony; and having thus obtained money enough to enable them to return to England, they hasten to throw themselves and their sorrows into the arms of their sympathizing relatives.

Nothing can be more absurd than to imagine that a fortune may be made in a colony by those who have neither in them nor about them any of the elements or qualities by which fortunes are gained at home.

There are, unfortunately, few sources of wealth peculiar to a colony. The only advantage which the emigrant may reasonably calculate upon enjoying, is the diminution of competition. In England the crowd is so dense that men smother one another.

It is only by opening up the same channels of wealth under more favourable circumstances, that the emigrant has any right to calculate upon success. Without a profession, without any legitimate calling in which his early years have been properly instructed; without any knowledge or any habits of business, a man has no better prospect of making a fortune in a colony than at home. None, however, so circumstanced, entertains this belief; on the contrary, he enters upon his new career without any misgivings, and with the courage and enthusiasm of a newly enlisted recruit.

Alas! the disappointment which so soon and so inevitably succeeds, brings a crowd of vices and miseries in its train.

CHAPTER 2.

ST. JAGO.

The reader may naturally expect to be informed of the reasons that have induced me thus to seek his acquaintance. In one word -- I am a colonist. In England, a great deal is said every day about colonies and colonists, but very little is known about them. A great deal is projected; but whatever is done, is unfortunately to their prejudice. Secretaries of State know much more about the distant settlements of Great Britain than the inhabitants themselves; and, consequently, the latter are seldom able to appreciate the ordinances which (for their own good) they are compelled to submit to.

My own experience is chiefly confined to one of the most insignificant of our colonies, -- insignificant in point of population, but extremely important as to its geographical position, and its prospects of future greatness, -- but the same principle of government applies to all the British settlements.

A few years ago, I was the victim of medical skill; and being sentenced to death in my own country by three eminent physicians, was comparatively happy in having that sentence commuted to banishment. A wealthy man would have gone to Naples, to Malta, or to Madeira; but a poor one has no resource save in a colony, unless he will condescend to live upon others, rather than support himself by his own exertions.

The climate of Western Australia was recommended; and I may be grateful for the alternative allowed me.


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