JOHN PASCOE FAWKNER.
In the life we have now to tell the story of,
is displayed no little of the romance—of the light and of the shadow—which attaches to a colonial career. John Pascoe Fawkner was born in London on the 20th of August, 1792. When in 1803 an expedition sailed from Eng- land under the auspices of the then Colonial Secretary, Lord Hobart, to found a new penal settlement on the shores of the recently discovered Port Phillip, he was one of the seven little ones who, with their mothers, were allowed to share the perils of the passage and the trials of the after life. Two ships— the Ocean, a hired transport, and the Cal- cutta, a 56-gun man-of-war — conveyed the convicts and their guards — a gloomy band—to these then little more than un- known shores. The Fawkner family were on board the Calcutta, the voyage of which vessel was nearly brought to an abrupt ter-
mination. She called to replenish her stores at the Cape of Good Hope, then in the posses- sion of the Dutch. During her stay news was received of war having broken out be- tween Holland and England, and the port admiral at once demanded the surrender of the vessel. The reply of her commander. Captain Woodruffe, was, "Come and take her." As the guns were snugly stowed away in the hold, the Dutch could probably have done this, but the admiral reflecting that success would only lead to his becoming gaoler to his enemy's criminals, declined the invitation, and the Calcutta quietly dropped out to sea. Port Phillip was reached, without further interruption, on the 10th of October, 1803. Soon afterwards the boy Fawkner was landed on the site of Melbourne, in the future history of which he was destined to play no inconsiderable part. The governor of the new settlement—Captain Collins, R.N. —adopted as its site a sandy strip of beach, a few miles inside the Heads. Fresh water was not to be obtained in the neighbourhood—the brackish fluid which filtered through the sand was all that could be procured for use. Little was done m the way of exploration, but the country was summarily condemned as barren and desolate. A few months saw it aban- doned, and convicts, soldiers, and Govern- ment officers on their way to Van Diemen's Land, to establish on the banks of the Der- went a settlement destined to expand into the present city of Hobart Town. Directly after landing the youthful Fawkner engaged in shepherding. In 1806 the family ob- tained a farm, upon which he worked without horses, without capital, and with scarcely any other appliances than a spade and a hoe. At eighteen years of age he apprenticed himself to a builder and a sawyer, and laboured for some years in a saw-pit. Of the advantages which attach to a careful education and an early training he therefore enjoyed but little, but at this period of his life, as at others, he was much attached to books. Being possessed, too, of an active inquiring mind, he accumulated much infor- mation under the most unfavourable circum- stances. The scenes of dissipation and de- bauchery which he beheld in Van Diemen's Land were, he always declared, so gross as to repel him from them—to impress him with an unconquerable aversion to intemperance. When twenty-two years of age, however, he was mixed up in a transaction the remem- brance of which afterwards caused him both annoyance and regret. A party of prisoners, determined to escape, sought his assistance, and, in a moment of foolish sympathy, he undertook to help them both to funds and to a boat. The plot was betrayed, and so much was the affair agitated that Mr. Fawkner resolved to leave the island for a time. Accordingly he sailed for Sydney, where he remained for two years. The year 1818 found him once more in Van Diemen's Land, settled and married at Laun- ceston. In those primitive days there was an utter lack of the forensic element, and, in place of barristers or attorneys, "agents" were allowed to plead in the lower courts. Always marked by a strong liking for argu- ment, and an instinctive desire for justice, it is no wonder that Mr. Fawkner figured pro- minently among the advocates of the Laun- ceston court. He worked also at his trade, and, now building and now pleading, managed to more than hold his own. Dissatisfied with his progress, however, he made fresh ven- tures. In 1826 he became landlord of the Cornwall Arms, and in 1829 he launched into existence a weekly newspaper, the Launceston Advertiser, the first published there. It is scarcely necessary to say that, in this journal, whatever errors of judgment he might be guilty of, he pursued a thoroughly independent course. In particular, he fully exposed the
folly of the celebrated attempt made to cap- ture the aborigines of the island en masse—an
attempt which resulted in the expenditure of £30,000 and the seizure of a solitary black. It is recorded too, to his credit, that in a time when secret service money was liberally dis- pensed, not a suspicion of bribery attached to him. Van Diemen's Land at this pe- riod was in a distracted state. Commercial distress was prevalent throughout the island. The free population complained of numerous oppressions, and were highly incensed at a declaration of Governor Arthur's, that they were but material for prison discipline. Above all was the operation of an Impound- ing Act so arbitrary and penal in its
character as to cause a serious fall in the value of cattle. Indignation meetings were continually held, and the Launceston Adver- tiser was constant in its fulminations. Men, however, grew weary of the struggle, and the eyes of many turned towards Port Phillip, glowing accounts of which had just been given by the enterprising overlanders Hovell and Hume. Early in 1835, Mr. Fawkner re- solved to tempt fortune in the new country. By the subdivision and sale of Launceston Orchard (of seven acres) he was enabled to próvide a few thousand pounds for the purchase of stock, seed, and farm- ing implements, and of a smart little schooner, aptly denominated the En- terprise. He communicated his plan to five of his associates—Messrs. Robert Hay, Marr, G. Evans, W. Jackson, and John Lancey—who agreed to cast their lot with his. The colonisers were therefore six in number—the ex-editor of the Launceston Advertiser, one architect and builder, two cabinetmakers, one plasterer, and one master in the merchant service. Each of them con-
tributed something, either in cash or stock, and a full share of the capital most valuable in a new colony—hands used to work, and minds resolved to labour. Unfortunately,
a charter in the coal trade detained the Enter- prise at Sydney for some time, so that it was not until the 18th of July that she was delivered to her purchaser. In the meantime others had not been idle. In the beginning of 1835 an association, composed chiefly of Govern- ment officers, was formed for the settlement of the much-talked-of Port Phillip district, and Mr. John Batman was commissioned on its behalf to cross Bass's Straits, secure a suit- able settlement, and make an amicable treaty with the aboriginal inhabitants. Mr. Batman left in the Rebecca, 30 tons, on the 26th of May, and on the 29th anchored off the In- dented Heads, near Geelong. It is unneces- sary here to say more than that he travelled, it is believed, to the Yarra ; that under his direction the aborigines signed deeds which purported to make over an enormous tract of country to the association; and that he then returned to Launceston, leaving a portion of his party at the Indented Heads, where they built a wattle-and-dab hut, commenced to crop the land, and so founded a settlement. Orders were left with this party to warn off all trespassers. The rumours which spread at Launceston regarding Batman's discoveries and proceedings, of course, far from damped the ardour of Mr. Fawkner and his fellow adventurers. No time was lost after the arri- val of the Enterprise in preparing for a start.
Mr. Fawkner was particular in furnishing common coarse food and clothing, together with blankets, tomahawks, knives, and hand- kerchiefs suitable for the aborigines, all of which were found to be very useful. Horses and ploughs, grain to sow, garden seeds and plants, and a very large and varied assort- ment of fruit trees, were also shipped, together with a stock of provisions to last some months, and also part of the materials for a house. On the 27th of July, the Enter- prise put to sea, but a foul wind detained her for three days almost within sight of Georgetown Heads. Mr. Fawkner became so ill that he ordered the master of the schooner to put back, and land him. This was done, and the party sailed without him, but with full written instructions to guide them, and particular orders not to settle anywhere except on the banks of a river, or near to some copious supply of fresh water. The Enterprise entered Port Phillip on the 15th of August. The eastern shores of the gulf were examined, but were declared ineligible, and acting upon the instructions they had received, the little band of colonists still pushed on. In due time this course brought them to the mouth of the Yarra, and on Sunday, the 30th of August, the Enter- prise was moored in the Yarra basin, nearly opposite the present Custom-house. Both the adventurers and the crew agreed that the site fulfilled all the conditions laid down by the promoter of the expedition ; and here it was accordingly unanimously agreed to com- mence the settlement. The goods were landed and tents were pitched ; small plots of ground were marked off, and Mr. Fawkner's lot having been ploughed and sown, the Enterprise returned to Launceston for him. She conveyed the news also that one of Batman's party had visited the settlement, and formally warned the colonists off the association's estate—a warn- ing to which not the slightest attention was paid. On the 30th of August Mr. Fawkner embarked again for Port Phillip, and on the 10th of October, the anniversary of his first arrival, he once more, after an absence of thirty-two years, entered its waters. The ad- vantages of the site chosen by the Fawkner party were so obvious, that Batman removed from the Indented Head to Pleasant-hill (thence forthcalled after him), and population soon gathered about the spot. Thus it was that the visit of the Enterprise led to the formation of the city of Melbourne. Though not the first to land, Mr. Fawkner was the promoter of the expedition. The selection of the site was made according to his instructions, and he was aftorwards the most active agent in establishing the settle- ment. For these reasons he has always been accorded honour as the " Founder of Mel- bourne."
The town was established, but not Mr. Fawkner's individual prosperity. He had still many hard struggles before him, and with characteristic energy and activity he was speedily grappling with them. In one month after landing he had a four-roomed wooden house erected, with a good brick chimney, built by his own hands. Be- tween his party, however, and Batman's there raged a deadly feud. The latter, having the support of a powerful associ- ation, compelled Mr. Fawkner to retire across the river for a time, and the follow- ing year he had upwards of eighty acres of land between the Yarra and Emerald-hill under cultivation. The Sydney Government would not sell land, and would not allow cultivation till it was sold, so that Mr. Fawkner remained an interloper on the soil. When the agents of the Government arrived, they coolly broke down his fences, and turned their horses into his paddock—Governor Bourke, the story runs, assisting with his own hands. Nothing depressed, however, Mr. Fawkner was speedily at work in another direction. He established a sod-hut house oí accommodation near the market reserve, hired out horses to inspecting visitors, practised as a bush-lawyer, and when land was ultimately offered for sale, he purchased largely. One of his lots was the eastern corner of Flinders and King streets, which he gave £32 for. On another allotment, at the corner of Collins and Market streets, he erected a commodious hotel, one of the first brick houses the settle- ment could boast of. While acting as mine host, he did not forget the intellectual re- quirements of the community. It has been pointed out that "in the advertisement of his hotel in 1838 a couple of lines suffice to tell the public that the usual requisites of the inn are of the best quality, but a dozen lines are expended in the detail of the literary attrac- tions and privileges of his house. We are referred to English and colonial news- papers, home reviews, novels, poetry, theology history, and a late encyclopedia. No other man in the colonies, or perhaps in the whole world, ever showed such solicitude for the intellectual improvement of the frequenters of his tap and parlour as did Mr. Fawkner." Besides, he claims also the title of the father of the Port Phillip press, for here, as in Laun- ceston, he was the first to publish a news- paper. The circumstances of the colony did not allow of anything more pretentious in the first instance than a manuscript journal. It consisted of four pages, the first of which con- tained the leading article, while the others were taken up with advertisements and para- graphs referring to local gossip or conten- tions. The opening leader is so charaeteristic of the writer, that both on this account, and as a literary curiosity, we give the first
MELBOURNE ADVERTISER. PORT PHILIP AUSTRALIA.
No. 1. Written for and published by John P. Fawkner.
January the 1st Monday 1838 Melbourne.
We do opine that Mel- bourne cannot reasonably remain longer marked on the chart of advancing civilisation without its Advertiser.
Such being our imperial Flat We do intend there- fore by means of this our Advertiser to throw the resplendant light of pub- licity upon all the affairs of this new Colony, Whe- ther of Commerce or Agri-
culture or of the arts and Mysteries of the Grazier. All these patent roads to wealth are thrown open to
the adventurous Port Phillipians. All these sources of riches are about to (or already are) become accessible to each adven- turous Colonist of N. O. W. S. The future fortunes of the rising Melburnians will be much accelerated by the dissemination of intelligence consequent
upon the Press being thrown open here. But until the arrival of the printing Materials we will by means of the Humble pen diffuse such intelli- gence as may be found expedient or may arise.
The energies of the pre- sent population of this rapidly rising district have never been exceeded in any of the colonies of Britain.
Its giant-like strides have filled with astonishment the minds of all the neighbouring states. The Sons of Britain languish when debarred the use of that mighty Engine the Press. A very small degree of support timely afforded will estab- lish a newspaper here, but until some further arrange-
ments are made it will
merely be an advertising sheet and will be given away to Householders.
After the issue of nine weekly manuscript numbers, Mr. Fawkner obtained a small parcel of refuse type from Launceston, and secured the services of a "Vandemonian youth of eighteen," who, when about ten years old, had worked for a few months as a compositor. Thereupon a printed Advertiser, about twelve inches long, containing four pages of two columns each, was issued. The Advertiser was not destined to run a long career. Captain Lonsdale, Government superintendent, discovered that money had been received for advertisements, and this circumstance bringing it under the existing Newspaper Act, he forthwith suppressed it until the heavy sureties required by law could be entered into at Sydney. In the beginning of 1839, however, Mr. Fawkner was once more in the field with the legal Port Phillip Patriot. About the same time, he purchased a block of 800 acres of land at Pascoevale, and engaged ex- tensively in farming operations. The year 1845 was a period of commercial depression, and Mr. Fawkner, who had become interested in many mercantile adventures, was forced by the misfortunes of others, to succumb and seek the protection of the Insolvent Court. He was Bson at work again, however, with accustomed energy, converted the Patriot
into a daily paper, formed a sheep- station, and finally devoted himself to gardening and wine-making. During the period of his own private troubles he still found time to render the state good service. In 1842 he served as one of the market commissioners, and in 1843, 1844, and 1845 he was elected a member of the City Council. The large blocks in which land was sold preventing the poorer colonists obtaining sites for houses, he projected a freehold land society, which was a great success. Many persons now owning valuable properties in the suburban districts owe their position entirely to Mr. Fawkner's disinterested efforts. In the anti-transportation movement, also, he played a prominent part ; and he was one of the leading actors in the struggle which led to the separation of the Port Phillip district from New South Wales. It was upon his proposition that the electors determined not to send any more members to the Sydney Legislature. Instead, Earl Grey was returned —a proceeding which attracted attention to the movement, and gave point to the remon- strances of the Port Phillip settlers.
In 1850, when the colony of Victoria was proclaimed, a Legislative Council—partly elective and partly nominee—was called into existence, and Mr. Fawkner, now one of the acknowledged champions of popular rights, was returned as member for the counties of Dalhousie, Anglesea, and Talbot. The disco- very of gold, and the consequent rise in the value of property, fortunately placed him in circumstances of moderate independence, in which he afterwards remained. Though his name is not connected with the introduction of any important measure, he took an active part in the proceedings of the Council. He was one of the warmest opposers of the extravagant claims put forward by the squatters under the Orders in Council, and the new Constitution Act received his support, though he opposed both the ballot and state-aid-to-religion clauses. When the Constitution Act came into opera- tion, and two Houses of Parliament were established, Mr. Fawkner, upon whom age was now creeping, and whose health was far from firm, felt unequal to the turmoil, work,
and strife attendant both on an election and on a seat in the Lower House. He sought, how- ever, the suffrages of the doctors of the Central Province, and was returned second on the poll as member for that district in the Legislative Council. He speedily became a necessary part of the Council ; the House would have been well nigh as complete without the President as without him. The absence of the President would not have been more strange than that of the velvet skull-cap and the old-fashioned blue cloak in which Mr. Fawkner was wont to sit, and the interjectory remarks he was prone to indulge in. He watched narrowly all questions which came before the House ; he spoke also distinctly and decidedly upon nearly all, and his natural shrewdness and large colonial experience caused his advice to be of great value.
Mr. Fawkner's health had been failing for some time, and his death, which took place shortly after eleven o'clock on Saturday morn- ing, at his residence, Smith-street, Colling- wood, did not, therefore, take any one by surprise. He had been suffering for a very long period from chronic asthma, in addition to one or two other ailments incident to old
age, but his death was the result more of a general breaking up of the constitution than of any specific malady. He had just com- pleted his seventy-seventh year, and his sys- tem seemed to have completely worn itself out. He, however, retained his faculties to the last, and only two days before his death, he rode into town in his carriage, for the pur- pose of seeing his medical attendant, Mr. Gerrard. The funeral has been fixed for Wed- nesday, at two o'clock, the place of interment being the Melbourne Cemetery.