Comments (None yet)

Add New Comment

6 corrections, most recently by anonymous - Show corrections

Scene in New South Wales) continued from Page 496. A bark hut in a Government Camp, such as I have de- scribed, is a curious spectacle. Its construction, and that of every convenience within it, in rudeness of design and roughness of mechanism, may well vie with the habitations (such as travellers depicture them) of the Kamschatchians, or the Laplanders. Indebted to nature in her least improved condition, the whole is formed of

materials unshaped and almost unprepared by art. The length of the hut is usually 18 feet by 82, and just affords spsce for a bed place, or birth, to be erected for each of the five inmates. The bedding of the men in few in- stances consists of more than a single blanket, and that often a tattered one; the beds of the prisoners being taken from them on entering the Barracks, and not of late returned. A block, cut from the barrel of a small tree, and about eighteen inches high, is the easy arm chair of the prisoners in the woods. A tin quart pot or pint panakin constitutes the amount of his culinary utensils. Three iron pots, two frying pans, twelve tin pots, twelve tin dishes, five kids, or wooden tubs for salting meat, five buckets, five knives and forks, a pair of scissors, a comb, and two razors, form the general stock of necessaries supplied by Government to a Gang. For the field, every man is provided with an axe, a mat- tock, and a spade, which it is his duty to keep in good order. The fourth morning after their arrival (all things being ready) the party being awakened by the cock of the woods, a stupid-looking bird, with a large ugly bill, of a singular note, and which has procured for it the still more singular name of "the laughing Jackass," were duly summoned. The "rod line" was quickly taken in hand, and to each man an acre and a half of standing timber was measured for the work of the coming week. The echoing stroke of the axe, now resounded at the foot of sturdy trees, which had in all probability withstood the blasts of a century. Before the hour of breakfast, trees from eight to fourteen feet in circumference were laid prostrate on the ground, after falling with the noise of thunder. " Slashers" was the honourable name given to good workmen. The " Crawlers" told another tale; as a sample of their progress, the knight of the quill mentioned in the early part of our description; after knocking awkwardly at a tree for an hour or more, found it as near coming down as when he commenced his labour; from the height of four feet, from the ground, down to about one foot, he might have belaboured it with blows, but his hands, which he had by this time worn raw, seemed to have lost nearly as much substance as the gigantic monarch of the forest, which he was in vain endeavouring to humble to the dust; at every stroke he was at length compelled to stop, and look with almost tearful eyes at his scoffing overseer, till unable to endure the torture, he cast down his axe in despair, and remained motionless. At length the signal for breakfast was heard; the whole hastened towards the camp. Fires were soon kindled, and each prepared for himself his meal according to the stock and kind of food he possessed, as tea and sugar are only supplied monthly, when the work is done. The man who had possessed himself of these luxuries, was counted "well   in"-those who were less fortunate scraped the burnt edges of their "dampers," (wheaten meal cakes baked   in the ashes) and putting the scrapings into boiling water, made a rich beverage, 'yclept coffee, which, with out either milk or sugar, was swallowed in due course. Bread is a kind of very thick pancake without fat. A slice of this, with a bit of salted beef fried in one of the frying pans, and which, when done, was almost as relish- ing as a salted bullock's hide, was the breakfast of the majority. Dinner differed in nothing from breakfast, nor supper from dinner all the year round, unless a wind- fall come in their way, which in this district of wild cows and bulls was not unfrequent. Dependent upon their rations, they had to be economists who wished to eat meat after Wednesday; and two out of three would be without bread by Thursday night. A wild cow would sometimes stray into the paddocks, and although to kill and eat it was felony, it was not to be supposed that so great a temptation as a fresh fat beef-steak would be   resisted by hungry prisoners in the bush. The carcase divided, gave each a good share, and "a screech in the pan," "a pot of soup" "a fat cake," "a johnny-cake," or "fritters," alias "pancakes," were the delicacies   which such a God-send would plentifully afford. Oc- casionally, other aids of this description offered them selves; the "fallers" (fellers) would finish their acre   and-a-half in three days or more, according to the thick ness of the timber ; and a neighbouring farm, or perhaps the owner of the estate on which they were employed, would give them a job to fill up the week; payment for which would be gladly received in wheat, pork, tea, sugar, &c. When this kind of voluntary work offered itself, the real disposition to industry manifested itself. Scarcely would the diligent part of the gang allow themselves time for refreshment. It would be a matter of astonishment for strangers to be told, that the wheat given in grain, should be ground and sifted by manual labour. To grind the wheat, sift it, knead it, make a fire, bake the cake, and eat it when baked, was the busi- ness of an hour. But to return to the progress of "clearing." At the end of the month, nearly one hun-   dred acres of trees would have been felled. This being equiivalent to about twenty acres totally clear'd, (that is, with the fallen trecs burnt off the land) the proprietor of the farm would sign a certificate to that effect, and the messenger was despatched to Liverpool, to draw the pIroplortion of " indulgences;" viz. tea, sugar, &c. which would arrive by the " mess-cart" on the ensuing Saturday. As this was a joyful event, and always a source of festivity, the approach of the day was anxi- ously looked for; an invitation was sent to the neigh- bouring gang or Clearing Party; also to a few choice spirits on the adjacent farms, to come and make merry on the Saturday night. This was a custom throughout the country on such occasions, and engendered a feeling of good fellowship and harmony amongst these poor

fellows, which might be considered a substitute for the charities of kindred. The mess-cart at length arrived, and the schemes adopted in the "whacking it out," to   keep "all square and above board," were farcical enough;   they however anewered the purpose. The "Royal George," (an iron pot holding four gallons of water) was then placed on the fire; tea and sugar were thrown in by the handful, till its colour betokened a sufficiency of strength. The "jago" being thus prepared, pans were next in requisition to fry steaks, cakes, and fritters; and on the grass by moon-light, or by the light given out by two thick branches of trees laid near to each other, down the party sat, visitors and all, to partake of the fare prepared. The steaks and fritters being demo- lished, the tea remained as a substitute for beer or grog. The song would go round and the jest be circulated with much glee as the revellers sat round the wassail bowlof this Southern country. The consequence of these merry makings was, being early in the week "off the stores," (a term commonly used to denote the total want of pro- visions.) A spirit of liberality,. however. universally prevailed throughout these isolated detachments of pri- soners, very different to the brutal selfish manners of the same men in the town Convict Barracks. It was an in- variable rule never to allow a stranger to pass through the Camp, without refreshment, if he wished to partake; and the best bed was always given up to him if it was near sun-down. How often soever their hospitality was thus put to the test, mattered not, it was a point of honour to exercise it, and the prospect of half-a-week's deprivation of food seldom deterred the men from sharing their weekly store with the poor Convict-traveller. WHEN no other supply was to be obtained, a boiled pumpkin, or a roasted "cob of corn," was gladly and   satisfactorily made available to fill an otherwise supper less belly, for in these parts there are no inns. (To be continued.) A public notice has been issued fixing the hours for transacting public business at the office of the Collector of the Customs. From ten o'clock in the Forenoon till two in the Afternoon. Business it appears will be transacted in The long Room. Another hour will be de voted to arranging the accounts, band affairs &c. Mr. Jos. Underwood has offered Government his house and premises backwards as a Customs-house, it is reported they have been accepted. A return of all the Culprits who have been executed in the Colouy since the year 1815, with particulars &c. is preparing for His Excellency-the Governor. Impudence. The Colonial Treasurer, was at dinner on Tuesday evening at his house in Oconnell Street with a friend or two, a fellow named, Sweetman, made an unceremonious entre into the ball, and an exit quite as anceremoniously, hell.ing himself at the same time to three hats, and a piece of plate. Encouraged by the success of the first attempt, he honoured the mansion with another call, and finding his way to the drawing room, where Mr. Balcombe Jun. then indisposed was reclining on a couch ; the latter iinagning that it was a servant requested that he might not be disturbed; Master Sweetman in no wise dismayed proceeded in his search after moveables, just at this juncture a female servant happened to espy him gave an alarm and he was secured, examined before the Police and committed for trial. MR. EARLE with a broken leg, was driving Captain Shand who has a broken arm, one day last week, in a "one-horse-shay." On a certain part of the Western   road, it is excessively rotten and broken ; and on this part it was, that the horse stumbled. Mr. Earle was preci pitated (in the most clean manner imaginable)—over the horse's head, and after turning a very perfect somer- set in the air, alighted in a semi-siesta position on the Earth. The captain, fell over the side of the gig. HIappily, neither of the cripples sustained any material injury. Mr. Earle, however felt an universal dislo- cation for some time ; and, it is possible, the recovery of his leg will be somewhat retarded in consequence. WE hear that the sporting Commander of H. M.S.Rainborw, intends affording another days sport to the lovers of aquatic diversion, before he leaves oxt Jackson. A boat race is talked of for a round number of sovereigns. A resident in Pitt Street on Saturday last was outwitted by the artifice of a smooth tongue fellow, who proffered his services to cut wood, cye. &c. The good housewife, had been taken in on previous accasions, and " experience making the foolish wise," she had come to a determinat.on not again to employ these casual labourers' The individual' in question however, had a smooth tongue, and what she conceived to be an "honest face," and so her resolution waxed week; before the close of the day he had still farther ingratiated hipself in the good opinion of his credulous employer, and previously to the return of her husband from his daily avocations, having occasion to leave home for a few minutes, and not disbursting the good like lad she left him in charge till her return. Her absence was short, yet lohg enough to allow her new., forml Confidant to remove a silver watch hanging over

the fire.place, a bindle' of dry W:hen,'and some dozenor so of dollars, from a box in.the bed room. The fugitive represen ted himself as a free man; enquiries were set on foot, but hitherto without success. THE Brig Anne, is nearly ready once more. Another expedition to Timor for Ponies is determined on, the same being nearly all bespoke. The spcculation we doubt not, will be equally profitable with the last, for this diminutive species of the horse, has ' taken" wonderfully.' GOVEaRNMENT-HOUSE O~ Tuesday, and the Avenues leading thereto, presented a business-like appearance for once. Some for business and some for form, Officers, of the Army and Officers of the Navy, Commissaries and Civil Placemen, poured in about mid-day to see the Go vernor. His Excellency, as well as his subordinates we are told, had their hands full. A number of odds and ends. were awaiting the Executive fiat, and some ques tions of popular interest had to come on the carpet for' due consideration. Time will reveal the result of all the official bustle. Just ar we are going to Press we are informed, that the Governor has reversed the decision of the Sydney Bench of SEVEN Magistrates in the recent conviction of a Ticket-of-Leave-holder for sellirig Spirits without a License. The Bench decided on imposing a penalty of £25. leaving his Ticket untouched. The.Governor has determined on taking away the man's liberty, and ac cordingly his Ticket-of-Leave has been caricelled. The fact of holding his indulgence for Seven Years, we should hope will yet operate in the man's favour. It.. should be recollected that Ticket-men are willing to pay for a license, but are not allowed to do so. Theirs is not a fraud of the worst kind.

Zoom

plus
thumb
minus
left
thumb
right
up
thumb
down