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3 corrections, most recently by kegib - Show corrections

THE LATE HAMILTON HUME, THE

EXPLORER.  

(From the Yass Courier.)  

Early on the morning of the 19th instant, Hamilton Hume   passed away to his rest. That his memory deserves to be held in grateful remembrance by his countrymen the following brief memoir will, we think, fully prove; for, though the public actions of his life were few in number, yet they were of such a character as accurately to show what manner of man he was ; and in the history of Australian exploration his name must always hold a prominent place-a place quite on a level with those of Sturt, Kennedy, Mitchell, and M'Kinlay

Hamilton Hume was born at Parramatta, on the 10th June, 1797. He was the eldest of the four children of Mr Commissary- General A. H. Hume, who, in 1778, left England for Australia on board the frigite Guardian, commanded by Rion, " the gallant good Rion," of subsequent historic fame. Of these four children only one now survives-Mr Rawdon Hume, of   Castlesteads. Mr J K Hume was killed many years ago. The only   daughter, who had married Mr Barber, of Glenrock, and who was       the mother of a large family (two of which, Mr. Thomas Barber and Mr R A Barber, aec residents in this neighbourhood), has also been dead some years. The Humes are scions of the old Scottish border family of that name.  

Debarred by the circumstances of the colony from receiving a liberal education, the subject of this memoir grew up to manhood, without the usual advantages of a young man in his position of life. What educatlon he did get he received from his mother,   and scanty though it was, he yet turned it to good account. Much of his boyhood was spent in the prosecution of bush   adventures, in which he developed activity, determination, and self reliance - qualities that subsequently stood him in good stead. On entering upon manhood, Hamilton Hume must have been singularly active both in mind and body, his personal physique being, moreover, admirably adapted for strength and endurance.

When but 17, Mr Hume discovered the country around Berrima. On this expedition he was accompanied by his brother, J.   K. Hume. In 1815, he thoroughlv explored that country, and by his acquaintance with its pastoral wealth was enabled to be of   great service to his friends in pointing out to them new country suitable for stock. In 1817, at the request of Governor Macquarie,   Mr Hume accompanied Mr Surveyor Meehan on a Southern   expedition to the " new country ". Duriug this trip they discovered Lake Bathurst, Goulburn Plains, and neighbourhood. As payment for his services on this journey, Mr Hume received a land order for 300 acres near Appin  

In 1818, Mr Hume was joined with Messrs Meehan and Oxley in an exploring expedition to Jervis Bay. In 1822, he was   engaged on Lieutenant Johnston's east coast survey, in search of rivers, during whioh trip Mr Hume, with Mr Alexander Ben?, penetrated from the Upper Clyde to the present site of the thriving   town of Braidwood.  

In 1821, Mr Hume, in company with Mr G Barber (his brother-in-law) Mr J K Hume, and Mr W H Broughton, discovered the Yass Plains. Thee account of this discovery has     been several times denied, but the whole weight of evidence is in       favour of its being the true version. Mr Hovell, of Minto, whose   name will often be found mixed up with that of Mr Hume, has, on many occasions, contradicted the truth of many of Mr Hume's recorded statements, but tho intrinsic character or these   statements, corroborated as they are by the strongest collateral   evidence, will ever outweigh with the impartial inquirer the   unsupported testimony of a gentleman between whom and his ??   companion there seems ever to have been a considerable feeling of  

bitterness

In 1824 Mr Berry suggested to Governor Brisbane that Hamilton Hume was a most suitable person to lead the exploring party which his Excellency intended to dispatch from Cape Howe or Wilson's Promontory back to Sydney overland. Mr. Hume declined to undertake such a task. He stated his readiness, if supplied with men and pack-horses, tco push his way from   Lake George to Bass's Straits. This offer, though accepted by   the Governor, never was actually realised. Some time afterwards.       Mr Hovell, of Minto, agreed with Mr Hume to find,jointly,     the necessary men and cattle for an expedition of a similar   kind. The Government of the day fell in with this arrangement,     and on accepting the offer, agreed to furnish pack-saddles, a tent, two tarpaulins, arms, ammunition, and a couple of skeleton     charts. Everything else had to be supplied from private       resources, and as an example of the deep interest taken in the work by Mr. Hume, it may be mentioned that he was compelled to dispose of a valuable imported iron plough, in order to raise the necessary funds for fulfilling his share of the obligation.

On its completion the party consisted of eight persons : Mr.   Hume and his thre servants, Claude Bossoa, Henry Angel, and   James Fitpatrick, Mr Hovell and his three, Thomas Boyd, Willism Bollard, and Thomas Smith. Of these, Angel, Fitzpatrick and Boyd have each testified to the exact truth of a pamphlet

published by Mr Hume in 1854, under this title; "A Brief

Statement of Facts in connection with an Overland Expedítion   from Lake George to Port Phillip in 1824 " Indeed so late as last year, Mr Fitzpatrick, now a resident near Campbelltown, in these   columns, daclared his conviction that Mr Hume's statement     was in all points substantially correct. It is on these points,  

therefore, that we have elected to follow that pamphlet as the   true record of the celebrated journey, ever to be connedted with the name of Hamilton Hume. We may heeo mention that Mr.   G W Rusden, in his work, " The Discovery, Survey, and 8ettlement of Port Phillip," declares that aftter a careful examination   of Mr Hume's statement, and Mr Hovell's reply thereto, he felt bound to accept the former as the witness of truth  

The instructions given to the party were to take departure from     Lake George and to push on at all hazards to Western Port, in     the event of meetng a river not fordable, to trace its source seaward as far as possible. On the 17th October,1824, the party         left Mr Hume's station near Lake George. On the 18th they camped near the site of his late residence, Cooma, close to the

town of Yass

From the 19th to the 22nd they were detained at Marjurigong, the Murrumbidgee being in flood. Resolved to push on, Mr.   Hume took his cart to pieces and made a punt of it with his tarpaulin, and so overcame what seemed to his companions an lnsuperable difficulty. As an illustration of the risks undergone, it should be. remembered that Hamilton Hume and Boyd  

swam and dragged the improvised punt to and fro across the flooded stream. After crossing   the Tumut River, Mr Hume found they wero getting into too high a country as he observed the Snowy Mountains crossing their course. He, therefore, altered his route, and steered for the west. Mr Hovell was for holding on, but, after leaving the main party,returned to it and adopted the wiser views of his   companion. On the 16th November they reached the river, now known as the Murray. Mr Hume called it the Hume, after his father. Unfortunately its later bestowed appellatlon is   the one by which it is now best known. Mr Hume's memory, as well as that of his father, is, however, preserved in the name of that electoral district of New South Wales which includes the  

district about Albury/ On the 20th they crossed the Mutta Mutta in a boat made by Mr. Hume of wattles, and covered with his tarpaulin. The passage over this river had been violently opposed by Mr Hovell, but the determination   of Hume carried the day. Crossing the Little River, passing over the present Ovens gold-fields (Beechworth), they reached the Goulburn River. From thence they made Mount Disappointment,   where they met with a complete check. After desperate endeavours to penetrate the scrub in the direction they were making, they were at last compelled to change their course by an

infusion of more west. At their camp, near where the city of

Kilmore now stands, there was a display on the part of the men of considerable discontent. Mr. Hovell refused to go on: but Hume made this compromise with the party, that if no decided prospect occurred of making the coast within the next two or three days, he would give up the journey and return homewards. On the 13th December, Hume, in advance of his party, observed an opening and a fall of the land far to the south. He felt that he had won. Three deys afterwards they mado the coast, camping on the 17th. December near the present site of Geelong.

It surely would be a mean mind which could refuse praise to Hume for this exploit-which can see aught of bathos in a   comparison of the subject of a memir to

" Stout Cortez, when with eagle eyes

He stared at the Pacific, and all his men Looked at each other with a wild surmise

Silent, upon a peak in Darien."

The important result of Hume's expedition to the Iramoo Downs, whereon Geelong now stands, became manifest in 1835. On the 29th May of that year, John Batman reached Port Phillip. His mind had been inflamed by Hume's account of the riohness of the land. Ever since 1827 he had been endeavouring to settle in Port Phillip, but it was not until 1835 that he was enabled to do so. Batman, it must be remembered, was the fellow townsman of Hamilton Hume, having also been born in Parramatta..   As Rusden says :-" Hume's overland journey had stirred him (Batman). Bushman as he was, he knew that Hume had been right about Port Phillip Bay and Station Peak." After their return   home, with their party, Mr. Hovell had insisted that they had made Western Port, Mr. Hume that they had made Port Phillip.   There cannot now be a shadow of a doubt as to who was right.   The skeleton chart which Mr. Hume had filled in was, in after years, used by Sir Thomas Mitchell, and found by him (to use his own expression) " surprisingly correct." It cannot but be a subject of regret that the two associates on such a hazardous journey-one so fruitful of great results-should have been o unequally yoked ; Hume all determination, resource, and hope ; Hovell all timidity and vacillation. Hume'a pamphlet (of 1835, and a second edition was at press when death removed its author), if it do justice to his companion, paints him as the poet painted Blondel-Vatre in the drama-" a man wise in negatives, expert in stepping backwards, and an adept at auguring eclipses." Such a word portrait is not complimentary ;    

but the reader of the account is forced into believing it to be

correct.

Before starting, a promise had been mado by the Government to' Messrs. Hume and Hovell that a cash payment should be made to them for the hire of the cattle, and that a grant of land would be given should any important discoveries result from that explora- tion. On their successful return money paymont for the cattle was refused ! Mr. Hume had great difliculty in getting tickets of leave for the three men who had accompanied him personally, He obtained an order to select 1200 acres of ground, but was under the neccesity of selling it to defray his expenses.

In the year 1828, Mr. Hume went as second to Captain Sturt on that famous Australian explorer's expedition to trace the Macquarie River, From the experience of that journey, 8turt pronounced   Hume to be an able, sagacious, anti intrepid bushman. The acquaintance then formed ripened into a friendship which was

never broken. Some of Sturt's letters to his friends give pleasant   glimpses into the nature of the regard which existcd between   them. Captain Sturt was very anxious to secure Hume's services a second time, but privato interests compelled the latter to forego what otherwise would have been so pleasurable an employment.

In 1828, the career of Mr. Hume ceased to present points of special interest to the general public. He had done his work as an explorer. The remainder of his years were spent in the cessful pursuit ol pastoral occupations, by which he amassed a competency; retiring at the close of his career to spend hia days at his seat upon the banks of the Yass Rlver, to whioh he had given the name of Cooma. For years he could say

" My way of life Is fallen into the sore, the yellow leaf:

And that whioh should accompany old age

As honour, love, obedience, troops of friends, I am richly blessed with,"

For many years Mr. Hume satisfactorily performed the duties   of a Justice ot the Peace on the Yass bench, but increasing   infirmities attendant upon his weight of years forbade the exercise of them for some years past. For several months preceding his   death he had been superintending the erection of a tomb in the

Yass Church of England cemetery, in which his own remains  

were to be buried.  

Mr Hume was a married mnn his wife having been a Miss Dight. Their union was not blessed with children. Mrs Hume still   survives, and it will, we trust, prove to her a consolation in her deep sorrow that her late husband's memory is sure to be long treasured

by his countrymen as that of one who, in his day and generation,

did his State good service

It is probable that in a short time the second edition of Mr. Hume's ' Brief Statement " will be issued from the Press. We believe it will contain no alterations whatever in the original text, but that several confirmatory additions will be the only   new matter. It was in the act of being prepared by Mr. Hume when summoned away , and was intended for an appeal to   posterity that his claim as the leader of the pioneer overland  

expedition from New South Wales to Port Phillip should not be

ignored

To Hamilton Hume it now matters little what the verdict ot   posterity may be. He has done with the troubles, the rivalries, the animosities of this world. But to those who survive him, to those who have benefited by his perilous work, so boldly and so sagaciously carried out, it does matter that strict justice should be done to his memory. No hononrs were bestowed upon him by the Crown, though others with less claims for distinction reaped ribbons and crosses. History, let us hope, will determine more justly-will award to him the praise of having done a brave set loyally-will recognise in him a man of grand old Anglo-Saxon type, one of that heroic stamp who take for their resolute st???

' Viem invonium est fanam."(?)

<* . Eldest son of the Rev. Jsmes Hume, of Moira, Ireland. Mr. A. H Hume married Elisabeth Moore. Kennedy, second daughter .f the Itev. John Kennedy, of 'lesion and Nettlestead, county Kent, England. 7

Digitisation generously supported by
Vincent Fairfax Family Foundation
Digitisation generously supported by

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