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Emigration and Free Settlers more view 4

source: 981/39A
Joseph Townsend
London 1848


Rambles & Observations in New South Wales.

“Sir,” said a London physician, eminent for his knowledge of climate, New South Wales. Where people live out of doors and are always on horseback is just the place for you. I have sent many patients there, and none of them, as far as I know, ever repented that they took my advice. But then,” added he, smiling, “the truth is, I have never seen one of them again; nor do I think it is likely I ever shall.”

Sydney contains upward of 30,000 inhabitants and has lately been dignified by the appellation of the ‘City of Sydne7y’, and is governed by a mayor and corporation. But the aldermen and town-councillors are not the only busybodies here. Venomous mosquitoes abound; they love fresh English blood, and speedily reduce the face of a person, newly arrived, to a deplorable condition. His countenance soon actually resembles a plum pudding, and he is easily recognized as a ‘new chum’.

The Sir Joseph Banks’ Hotel opened by Thomas Kellett.
This is a very fair inn, and supplies excellent soda water and brandy, and what says the old song

There’s rum and brandy, as I’ve heard ’em say.
In that blessed island called Botany Bay.

When blacks visited Sydney, and saw the military paraded, and heard the bands, they said that was ‘white fellows’ corrobbory.’ On such occasions, they were always delighted if they met a settler whom they had known in the bush, and their greetings were not a little uproarious, but always concluded with the modest enquiry, ‘B’lieve you got white money, masa?” In the bush they used to sing, in chorus, the famous song, ‘Jim Crow,’ saying, ‘Jim Crow tister went to de ball,’ and so forth. Their own songs are monotonous and consist of the frequent repetition of a few words, such as ‘water, water, where is water? There is water, welling out of the ground;’ but this, of course, is sung in their own dialect. They have their own bards and rhymers, who compose their songs; and when a new song is produced, it passes quickly from tribe to tribe. The lingo used by them, when talking to Europeans, consists of broken English, interlarded with a jargon generally believed to be composed of words of their dialects, but being, in fact, a collection of barbarisms invented by the whites, and acquired from them. A favourite expression is ‘gammon’. When anything is narrated to them which they do not credit, they grin and shake the forefinger in the manner of reproof, and ejaculate, “Too much gammon belonging to you, masa, too much altogether.”

A scrubby country is a stockman’s abhorrence, as there he cannot ride, at least at any pace.

The bullock-driver performs the long journeys and is entrusted with property of much value. He is generally trustworthy; save as respects rum and tobacco, He rarely can resist these bewitching articles, and resorts to the most ingenious devices for wheedling the spirits from the casks. He carries a mattress with him, and sleeps under his dray, while his bullocks graze near it. I think no sight in the colony would strike a newcomer so much as the passage of a number of drays over the Liverpool ranges. Often thirty pair of bullocks is to be seen harnessed to one dray, and the shouts and execrations of the drivers, with the noise made by their whips, are most appalling. No men swear more dreadfully, or have a greater variety of oaths of the most extraordinary derivation.

A man transported for seven years obtained a ticket-of-leave at the expiration of four years servitude; and one transported for life at the lapse of eight years, provided no punishment had been incurred during that time. Each punishment deferred this indulgence for a year, during which operand he remained in his master” service; and this was a severe, and certainly a very impolitic regulation. When a lifer had held a ticket-of-leave for six years, and could produce good testimonials to character, he was further indulged with a conditional pardon.

When a convict was first assigned to a settler, he saw Dick, Tom, and Harry, who had gone through the ordeal upon which he was entering, hired servants at so much a year, in a country where labour is dear, and the necessities of life plentiful and cheap. He saw that they were well off; and though he sighed over his own bondage, he could not but reflect that four years would soon pass, when he would be in the same case with those stockmen and labourers.

Some of the convicts would ‘try it on’ when first assigned, their object being by all means to escape labour and restraint, which are, of course, much opposed to their former habits.

That said, it was generally believed the assignment system was the best for the colony and the convict class.

Female convicts had a tough time. “It was the custom for some years, when a ship with female convicts arrived, soldiers, convicts, and settlers, were allowed to go on board and take their choice.

Many women turned to crime and prostitution because they had no alternative. “I have no means of living; I am compelled to give my weekly allowance of provision for my lodgings, and I must starve, or live in vice.”