"SLANDERS AND LIES OF THE SOUTH AUSTRALIAN GAZETTE."
At length we have brought the cravens to book. The system of cowardly silence under charges which honest men in every other country in the world would not have left unrefuted for a day, was drawing down upon them the sneers of every respectable and right-thinking colonist. These charges were too grave—the facts too specific to be shuffled aside as frivolous or passed unnoticed under the shallow pretence of contempt. That they had been writing for sometime in a fever of mingled impotence and rage was sufficiently evident. To those versant in the symptoms of similar distressing cases, it became certain that they must either sink altogether beneath the accumulating scorn of the public, or make an effort to meet the charges which were no longer to be denied in the lump. The "considerable number gentlemen, therefore, who had agreed to treat with contempt the weekly slanders uttered against a few of them"—finding, as they sorrowfully admit, that the
colonists were interpreting their silence into what it really was—an admission of guilt resolved at last to "pluck up a brave spirit" and "run a muck" with the Gazette. The attack has been made, and a desperate one indeed it is. The intention was sufficiently amiable. We were to have been "hurt past all surgery;" but we are alive and merry still, and now purpose to send them back their bolt and bid them try again—if they list. Here, then, are the distinct charges against the veracity of this journal; and we entreat our readers to do us the favor of marking them with some attention, as they are given as "fair specimens of the lies and scurrilities" with which our "disreputable print" abounds. "Hitherto therefore, we have forborne exposing the wilful weekly mistatements that are still made, and have from referring to past ones; but we must subjoin a few remarks, which we request those who have only lately come to the Colony, and who see the Government Gazette to consider as a very fair sample of its object and its spirit. It has aserted that Colonel Gawler will positively hold the authority of the Colonial Commissioner, conjointly with that of Governor. We assert that the report is only a report, and that no such positive information has reached the colony. It asserts that Mr. Fisher has been recalled; we assert that no notification of that recal has reached the colony. It asserts that the Commissioners have refused to sanction the drafts for the Timor ponies; we as- sert they have not; the bills given to Mr. Birdseye had reached England and were duly honored. It asserts with a sneering efint (sic. in orig.) at personal benefit, that Mr. Fisher had been "raising the wind," by selling the Commissioners' stores under value, and thereby sacrificing the public interests. We assert that the whole attack is a gross falsehood. The stores were sold because they were useless or spoiling. The oatmeal for instance has been here two years, and there is more than ten years consumption at the present average, for as it happens not to be oatmeal but oat flour, the people wont eat it; and the writer of the foul insinuation knows that the proceeds of that sale and every other, never passed through Mr Fisher's hand in their way to the Treasury. We could were it worth while, thus analyse other articles, but we only go thus far by way of giving a sample of the usual style, and integrity in which a paper under Government influence, and princi- pally supported by Government advertisements, is conducted; and to shew those who found their notions in any way upon its authority, how greatly they will be deceived." The first lie of the South Australian Gazette is said in the above quotation to be contained in the assertion that "Colonel Gawler will positively hold the authority of the Colonial Commissioner conjointly with that of Go- vernor." Our authority for this statement is Colonel Robert Torrens, Chairman of the Honorable Board of Commissioners. In a letter written by that gentleman, dated the 31st March, the day subsequent to the appointment of Colonel Gawler, it is distinctly stated that "there will be no longer, a divided authority within the province, as Colonel Gawler will hold, in his own person, the whole authority of the commis- sioners and the crown." These are the identical words used, and which we quote from the original letter now before us. This letter, we are informed, has been shewn to several gentlemen, and particularly to all the chief officers of the Government.—So much for "lie" the first. Lie the second is as follows. —"It (the Gazette) asserts that Mr. Fisher is recalled; we assert that no notification of his recall has reached the colony." Strictly speaking, this is not a denial of our allegation; but we take no advantage of that: for, in addition to the fact stated by Colonel Torrens that Colonel Gawler is to be the representative of the Commissioners, and which fact alone settles the question, a positive statement that Mr. Fisher was recalled is contained in a letter dated March 26, addressed to Governor Hindmarsh, (received since his departure from the colony) by a gentleman whose name and position, were we at liberty to mention them, would satisfy even the ex-Commissioner that his doom was sealed. Lie the third.—"It asserts that the Com- missioners have refused to sanction the drafts for the Timor ponies. We assert they have not." We suspect Mr. Fisher, like many other cunning gentlemen, occasionally not only overreaches himself, but acts in violation of a rule which even the most lawless are said to respect, by not admitting his partisans into full confidence. He ought, in common justice, to have desired fib No. 3 to be scratched out of the list— for he knew the fact. But it might be conjectured that the following official letter, addressed by Colonel Torrens, as chairman of
the Commissioners, to the Colonial Treasurer, might not have come to hand, or perhaps re- mained among the missing letters in the Com- missioner's bag. It was received, however, and here is an extract from it:— South Australian Colonial Office February 21, 1838. Sir—The Colonization Commissioners have learned by the Resident Commissioner's despatch dated August 25th that he has chartered a vessel for the purpose of importing ponies from Timor, and with a view to this object he has furnished Mr. Birdseye with a bill for £600, drawn by you upon the Treasurer in England. The Commis- sioners cannot withhold the expression of their extreme surprise that any bill should have been drawn upon the TREASURER for such a purpose, and they have reason to believe that the expence of importing these ponies will be disallowed by the Audit Office, and will be placed as a surcharge against those, who.have been, instrumental in incurring it. You involve yourself in a very serious personal respon- sibility by becoming a consenting party to the Resident Commissioner's departure from his instructions. I am, &c., ROBERT TORRENS, Chairman. Osmond Gilles, Esq., &c.. &c. The charge regarding the sale of the stores and the consequent "raising of the wind" by the honorable ex-Commissioner, is denied, with a vehemence in itself sufficient to warrant full belief in our correctness. But proof rests on no such grounds. Since the arrival of the specie for payment of salaries, Mr. Fisher has been "raising the wind" to some purpose. There is not at this moment, out of the whole £12000, one hundred pounds in the Treasury to pay the salaries due on the first of October, or even the currrent expences of the survey. Almost the last money ordered by this worthy to be paid out of the Treasury was for carriage accounts to "Fishers, brothers," (his own firm) to the tune of nearly £400. Among the items so abstracted from the public purse was one for about £20 for hay and bran for the keep of Mr. Fisher's own horses! If this fact be denied, we pledge our- selves to publish the account with that of the pickles expended in the celebrated expedition to discover a cattle station. As to the money finding its way into the Treasury without passing through Mr. Fisher's fingers, we hold an occasional lucky or forced exception rather a confirmation than otherwise of a general rule. Where are Mr. Fisher's accounts? Our readers will stare when we tell them that Mr. Fisher has declared he does not intend to publish any accounts in the colony!! The colonists, according to the ex-Commis- sioner, have no right to know how their own money is shied away, and the means of as- certaining the extent of his juggling are thus impudently withheld. Will Mr. Fisher, how- ever, condescend to inform us when the money —£500 at least—raised by him by the sale of timber, cut and sawn on the public land, by men paid and rationed by the Commissioners — found its way from his pocket to the public Treasury? Is not this intelligible ? The sale of the oatmeal and the consequent loss to the public is one of the most wanton of the many ruinous acts he has been a party to. In April, 1837, 125 barrels of this same oat meal or flour was sold by Mr. Fisher to the South Australian Company at (including an advance of 25 per cent. on the invoice price) 25s. 4d. per cwt. To oblige his friend Mr. David McLaren—who of course had means to return the compliment—Mr. Fisher, in October following, kindly agreed to take back the oatmeal from the Company; and he now tells us that it is sold because it is spoiling, and that he is a lucky fellow to get rid of it at a loss of only 10s. per cwt. But the whole of the transaction to which we refer is so curious, and so characteristic of the general management of the ex-Commis- sioner, that we cannot do better than insert it here, with this remark, that Mr. Gilles, the Colonial Treasurer, resisted every effort to induce him to acknowledge the transaction or to issue bills for the balance said to be due: Adelaide, January 24, 1838. Sir— I will thank you to draw a set of bills for one thousand seven hundred and seventeen pounds six shillings and six pence (£1717 6s. 6d.), the balance of the accompanying account of the date of 23rd inst., in favor of David Maclaren, Esq., Ma- nager of the South Australian Company, on the Treasurer of the Colonization Commissioners in England. This being a transaction of last year does not come within the Commissioners' arrangements as to the form and amount of bills; but I propose sending them the accompanying letter of advice
(which I will thank you to sign in triplicate and return me with the bills), together with similar copies of the accounts to those which I now send you. l am, Sir, &c, (Signed) J. H. Fisher, Colonial Commissioner. Osmond Gilles, Esq., Colonial Treasurer of the Colonization Commissioners. The following are the documents on which the request in the above letter is founded:— Memoranda as to Mr. Gilbert's account with the South Australian Bank. April 7, 1838. It appears that the balance due from Mr. Gilbert to the South Aus- tralian Bank is ...... — £465 3 0 In addition, to which, there are 400 12s. notes issued by Colonel Light through Mr. Gilbert, which amounts to 240 0 0 Colonel Light has also issued and paid away 329 other 12s. notes, amounting to 197 8 0 £905 11 0 So that to enable Mr. Gilbert to take up the 12s. notes, and to enable the Bank to pay such of them as shall be paid into the Bank to the account of the Treasurer in England for the purchase of land, and to discharge the balance already due to the Bank, would require that sum. It being considered desirable that provision should be made to meet the above sum and for payment of wages and other contingencies in future, Mr. S. Stephens on the part of the South Australian Bank, proposed to Mr. Gilbert to pur- chase a portion of the provisions sent out by the Commissioners in the William Hutt, at an advance of 23 per cent. upon the cost, and out of the amount discharge the above sum, and to place the balance as a cash credit in favor of the Commis- sioners in the South Australian Bank. Mr. Gilbert having represented to the Colonial Commissioner that he considered the arrangement desirable, and that there would be an ample supply of provisions left in the Commissioners' store beyond what was proposed to be purchased by Mr. S. Stephens, and Mr. S. Stephens having pledged himself that the provisions purchased by him should be kept for sale and consumption in the colony, Mr. Gilbert, with the assent of the Co- lonial Commissioner, agreed to sell to Mr. Samuel Stephens the undermentioned articles at the terms specified:— £. s. d. 28½ barrels vinegar, at 1s. 3d. per gallon, prime cost.... 69 2 7 125 barrels of oatmeal, at 20s. 3d. per cwt 221 0 0 20 casks of split peas, at 9s. 10d. per bushel 36 17 6 2 iron hoops to each cask, at 2s... 2 0 0 8½ puncheons of Patna rice, at 16s 8d... 50 9 0 Half cost iron-hooping puncheons ...1 14 0 89½ barrels Indian Beef and 110 ditto pork, at 6l. 10s... 10½ 0 0 16 ditto ditto, at 6l. 10s ... 104 0 0 Half customs, duty, &c., on beef and pork ...7 11 3 11 5 3 1858 9 8 25 per cent, on 1858l. 9s. 8d. is 46½ 12 6 Half iron hooping, customs, duty, &c. 11 5 3 Cost of purchase by Mr. S. Stephens 2334 7 4 Cost of purchase as above 2334 7 4 To pay balance to South Australian Bank, and take up notes 905 11 3 1428 16 4 Balance to be ultimately credited by the South Australian Bank to the Commissioners, but the balance in the Bank will be greater until the notes are taken up. Memorandum. — 8th April, 1838.— Authorised Mr. Gilbert to arrange with Mr. Edward Stephens according to the foregoing statement. F. Adelaide, September 19, 1837. Sir—Although I have studiously avoided inter- fering with the local politics of this town and colony, considering that the duties of the official situation which I have the honor of holding will be most effectually discharged by me while oc- cupying a neutral position than if I were identified with any party or portion of the community, I am, nevertheless, sensible that a degree of odium has been attempted to be affixed to certain transactions between yourself, as Colonial Commissioner, and the South Australian Company. These trans- actions more particularly relate to a purchase made by the Company from the Commissioners in April last. My sentiments as to that purchase were stated at the public meeting, held in your office on in so far as that purchase had any bearing on your character, personally or officially. As to the bearing which it might be supposed to have on the Company most assuredly it is not to anonymous newspaper correspondents that the officers of the Company have to give any account of their matters but, under the circum- stances of the case, I, as Commercial Manager of the South Australian Company, hereby propose to you, as, Colonial Commissioner, to cancel that transaction in so far as respects that portion of those goods which has not been delivered by the Commissioners to our order; and, further, I shall forego all claim for interest on that part of the money then advanced by the Company which, in the event of your accepting the present offer, will fall to be repaid as now, and for which the return (or rather ralinquish our claim to) the goods. I most unequivocally deny the justness of the remarks and insinuations which have been made on that transaction. I have had some misgivings: of mind as to the propriety of my taking any notice thus of them at all; but, on reflection, I beg to submit this offer to you, and to express my hope that you will see it to be your duty to accept it. I have the honor to be, Sir, Your most obedient servant, (Signed) David MacLaren. Hon. J. H. Fisher, Colonial Commissioner.
South Australian Company, Adelaide, October 6, 1838. Account of stores purchased by the South Australian Company of the Hon. the Colo- nial Commissioner in April, 1837, delivered and not delivered, previously to this date. £. s. d. Gross amount 2334 7 4 Delivered. 54 tierces pork, at 6l. 18s. ... £372 12 0 Deduct for 7 tierces at 6l. 10s. ... 2 16 0 369 16 0 14 tierces beef, at at 6l. 18s. ... 96 12 0 17 barrels oatmeal, 1¾ cwt. each, at 20s. 3d. per cwt. 30 2 1 13 casks peas, at 36s. 10½d. per cask ... 23 19 4 3 tierces vinegar — 28½ tierces having cost 69l. 2s.6d... 7 5 6 1 puncheon rice — 8½ puncheons having cost 50l. 9s. ...5 18 8 533 13 7 Advance 25 per cent. 133 8 5 667 2 0 Charges 11l. 5s. 3d. on 2323l. 2s. 1d. on 667l. 2s. is... 3 5 4 670 7 4 Value, of stores not delivered to, or on account of the South Aus- tralian Company 1664 0 0 E. & O. E. (Signed) David McLaren, Commercial Manager, South Australian Company. Bank or South Australia, Adelaide, Jan. 23, 1838. Statement of account between the Honorable James H. Fisher, Resident Commissioner, and the Manager of the South Australian Company, as arising out of the arrangement concluded between them on 28th Septem- ber, 1837.:— To amount of purchase by the South Australian Company from the Co- lonization Commissioners in April, 1837, cancelled by arrangement of 28th September (agreed)... 1664 0 3 To interest from 28th September, 1837, to this date, 117 days... 53 6 0 1717 6 6 Payable by the Colonial Treasury draft, countersigned by the Hon. }1717 6 6 the Resident Commissioner at 60 } days on Geo. Barnes, Esq. London } We have not room for, nor is it necessary to publish at present the correspondence that followed between Mr. Fisher and Mr. Gilles, the Colonial Treasurer. The result was that Mr. Gilles refused to draw the bills on England as Mr. Fisher desired, remarking with great truth and justice that "the transaction from the first was one in which you (Mr. Fisher) acted without any communication with me, and in fairness it ought to proceed to the end under the same auspices. It is clear that if the sale of the articles in the first instance was advantageous to the Commissioners, the cancelling of that sale was an abandonment of whatever advantage it might have pro- duced." We now submit the "fair sample of the lies of the Gazette" to the public. It will be acknowledged, we hope, that we have clipped the ears of the donkeys tolerably close; and we promise whenever they sprout again to perform the same operation as effectually. Though we think it scarcely necessary to pollute our columns with examples of the trash doled out by the virtuous persons who club their wits to rake together a weekly six- penceworth of scum, still, as a friend, blessed with a stomach not easily turned, has ventured to gather a few specimens out of the nauseous and disgusting puddle, we print them with a "running" commmentary on the lies that have not been already exposed in our previous numbers. Lie First. —"Her Majesty's ship Pelorus is going over immediately to Kangaroo Island for the purpose of seizing this ship and her cargo, because, they say, she is landing at a port not recognised by "His Excellency!" "The parties who embark on this creditable and sapient expedition are the Governor, the Colonial Secretary, Mr. Osmond Gilles, and Mr. Stephen, headed by the Private Secretary!! Will it be believed that the cargo of the Goshawk con- sists of provisions only!!!" [The only truth in this paragraph lies in the first two lines.] Lie Second. —In the same number a foul and infamous charge against Governor Hind- marsh, connected with the sale of a country section to certain parties, was made. The utter falsehood of the story was generally notorious; but the Conscientious clique never retracted a syllable, although they were afterwards forced to publish the following handsome compliment to their veracity:— "In the first number of the Southern Australian newspaper there is an article headed "Sale of a Land by the Governor," in which there are some false statements and unfounded insinuations rela-
tive to the Governor's recent sale, to us of his country sections."—Signed by the members of the committee of management. Lie Third. —"Considering the difference of opinion that existed between himself and the high powers of the colony it might be thought and even said that he had put himself forward in reference to private feelings; but he would repel any assertion of the kind with utter disdain."—Mr. Fisher in No. 3. [Mr. Fisher's lack of personal spite is notorious.} Lie Fourth.—"He had it from Mr. George Stephen's own month that he was not appointed Postmaster-general, but that his Excellency had offered to make him so, which he refused, thinking it too great a humbug."—Mr. E. Stephens in No. 3. [His Excellency the Acting Governor has publicly declared that the above statement of Mr. Edward Stephens, Cashier of the Bank of South Australia, is utterly false.] Lie Fifth. —"We are informed, and have strong reasons for believing, that at this juncture an old patron and friend of the Governor's earnestly pleaded for his continuance in office on the ground that his removal would throw a slur on the naval profession, and would be ruinous to his reputa- tion; and that this observation was met by the pithy remark—'It is better that Captain Hind- marsh should he ruined than that the colony should be sacrificed.' " — Mr. Mann in No. 4. Lie Sixth.—"A pledge has been given [by ministers] that no Governor shall in future be appointed who is not recommended by the bonded pro- prietors and the Commissioners."—Ditto in No. 4. Lie Seventh. —"I have reson to believe that the Colonial Office have admitted the right of the Commissioners to appoint to this office [Emigra- tion Agent]."—Mr. Brown in No. 5. Lie Eighth. —"Nobody requires land on the north of Adelaide, and those preliminary purchasers who have not selected, and for whose benefit alone, this plan [the running survey] has been invented, demand an accurate survey, and have agreed to wait the time it may require."—Idem in No. 6. Lie Ninth. —"At the payment for land recently tendered for, on Wednesday last, five individuals, who had purchased 480 acres, presented an accepted check from the Bank, when they were informed by the Treasurer that he would not receive it! The parties returned to the Bank, and, immediately receiving spirit: in lieu of the check, again waited upon the Treasurer with the 'coin of the realm,' when, behold! they were informed he would not take cash, it would confuse his accounts! and the applicants were to return and procure a receipt from the Bank for the amount, when an acknowledgement would be given and the land secured to them! the time having nearly expired in which the amount was to he paid, or the deposit money forfeited. Thus were these persons kept for half a day dancing attendance upon the Treasurer."—Sir. E. Stephens in No. 9. Lie Tenth. —"Incredible as it may appear, yet it is now ascertained beyond a doubt, that the enormous sums received at the Port for wharfage, lighterage, duties, bonding charges, and pilotage, have never found their way into the hands of the Colonial Treasurer."—Mr. Brown in No. 10. [The enormous sums here spoken of amount to £615! about one half of which it was notorious at the time this lie was coined had been paid into the Treasury.] Lie Eleventh.—"We know the Clerk of the Council and Private Secretary to Captain Hind- marsh used to give orders, signed only by himself, upon the Clerk to the Magistrates for sums of money —upon whose authority did he do so? Nay, we have repeatedly seen the present Clerk to the Magistrates put the fees and office charges care- lessly into his pocket without making at the time the slightest entry of the fact into any book."— Id. in No. 10. Lie Twelfth. —" The two punts at the Harbour that, were ordered from Sydney for the use of shipping in the Port, and the cost of which will be charged to the colonists, have, we hear, been let to Mr. Robert Tod for the ensuing six months, for £1 per day each! without any stipulation to the Government that Mr. Tod shall not charge what he pleases for the use of them."—Mr. E. Stephens in No 10. Lie Thirteenth.— "But we are told by authority that the amount of duties taken at the Port does not exceed the expence of collection."—No. 14. [Such a statement has not been made.] Lie Fourteenth.—"Will it be believed that our Collector of Customs is instructed not to take the Government orders in payment for duties! Alas, to what pitiful shifts are they driven in the dis- honoring their own paper to obtain a little cash."—No. 14. [No order or instruction of the sort has been issued.] Sediton. —"And yet, in despite of warnings which have been given so recently that the sound of the battle field run scarcely be said to have passed from our ears, it would seem as if the past were but a dream, and our rulers as ready to contend once more for the paraphernalia of un- acknowledged power, as they were before America had thrown off the yoke, or the name of Wash- ington had become a watch-word amongst the nations of the world; witness the Canadas, and the renewal of that civil strife which now threatens one of the finest colonies of the empire. The application of the remarks we have thus made to the case of Southern Australia is direct, and pregnant with meaning." —Mr. Mann in No.2. Nonsense.— "The flower, the tree, the stately munition, seem to be symbols of the perma- nent."—Idem. News. —"Generation after generation rise and fall—empires are founded, flourish and decay; and at length comes the inevitable hour—"—Idem. Slander and Falsehood.—" We cannot blame the Resident Commissioner for declining to take the responsibility of placing Colonel Light in his late position. The Commissioners' instructions are precise and clear enough, and we regret to say that their ultimate object is clear enough too. They anticipate the possibility of Colonel Light's resignation—they even anticipated the resignation of the whole body of surveyors. Would they knowingly have risked these events if they had had any desire to avoid them? Were they not conscious rather that their instructions were such as men of honorable feeling would not comply with?—No. 7. Sedition. —" We conjure each colonist to emulate the example of the Athenians, and to
take that deep and earnest interest in his rights which, if once imbued, will prompt the mind to resist aggression."—Mr. Mann in No. 9. —" If an occasion should arise we will all fire."—Id. in No. 9. Cant and Falsehood.—"If we can, even in the least degree, advance the interests of our common Christianity, and assist in the great work of the dissemination of religious truth, we shall never regret the laborious and responsible nature of our duties, nor heed the calumnies and reproach that our labors sometimes bring down upon us."— Mr. Mann in No. 11. [It is utterly and unequivocally false that calumny or reproach of any kind has ever been uttered for "assisting in the great work of the dissemination of religious truth;" and the gentleman who penned this lie richly deserves the fate of the Rev. Mr. Stiggins for his mendacity.] One serious word. We agree in the remark that " there is no reason why our infant com- munity should be split into parties, and our domestic and social circle narrowed by political feelings." There never was a reason for this; but it was, in the first instance, made by the very men who now charge it upon us. Let them deny this if they dare, and call upon us to prove our assertion. The charge against us of writing Fisher down is perfectly true. We have written him down; not from private or malicious motives; for he, at least, knows how merciful we have been in these respects— but because his public actions have been un- worthy and unjustifiable. We have treated Mr. Fisher as a public functionary only. We have spoken of him as we have of Mann or Brown, or any of the less reputable of the same class—in reference to their public actions alone. We have retailed no petty slander and invaded no privacy of domestic life. Not a word of past histories—not a line of personal rancour has found its way into our columns; and, notwithstanding the scope, we have pointed out or lied away no private reputation under cowardly initials. We have spoken out boldly; and, because we have spoken truly, we are feared and hated by the faction whose game has been spoiled by the untimely ex- posures of the South Australian Gazette.