CHAPTER IV. A.D. 1821...
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A.D. 1821--My Father's Second Family--My Mother--Life in a Convict Colony--Large Establishments--Runnaway Convicts--''Sticking Up "--Flute-playing and Singing--School days.
IN the year 1821, my father married a second time. The issue of of this second marriage was three sons and one daughter. Of that family I am the youngest son. Our only sister died in the year 1870. One of my brothers is living in England, a clergyman of the Church of England; the other is in Australia.
My mother arrived in the Colony in 1820, accompanying an uncle who held a commission in one of the early regiments quartered in New South Wales. Her mother went out to Australia shortly after, where she remained to the day of her death.
I have a very distinct recollection of my grandmother. She was a remarkable old lady--well read, a good conversationalist--of pronounced politics; and of all things loving a good earnest discussion of political questions. She and my father are said to have often taken opposite sides in such discussions, she proclaiming bravely and intelligently " Toryism" pure and simple, and he as persistently representing "Radicalism" out and out. But in those days the creed or programme of Radicalism did not mean what it now means; on the other hand Toryism meant very much more than in these days Conservatives, the lineal descendants of the old Tories, care to contend for. These friendly but fierce encounters on political subjects were said to have been quite as fruitful or fruitless of results as many are at the present time; in a word neither convinced the other.
I cannot remember my grandmother seated without a book of some sort by her side. Books of every kind, upon all sorts of subjects, sacred and secular seemed to interest her. She was highly appreciated, by men especially, and was often spoken of by those qualified to judge, as a thorough Englishwoman, one of the olden time, in her opinions, partialities, and prejudices; in a word, as a "bit of old England."
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Of my mother, and the estimation in which she was held by us all, I may not speak here. Those who knew her hardly need reminding of what she was. Those who knew her not may not care to be told more than that she was a God-fearing, home-loving, and devoted mother, possessed of strong common sense, and of remarkably active habits up to within a few months of her death.
In the early days of Colonial life, the wife of a settler, actively engaged in a variety of business, needed many qualifications that wives in these comfortable times never think of as essential. The position that a settler's wife was promoted to was one of great responsibility. Within my memory my father's establishment consisted of from fifty to sixty out-of-door hands, engaged in various industries. In those days, when the convict system was in full swing, there were to be found among these men tradesmen and artizans of every kind. They were assigned to masters willing to employ them, the Colonial Government being always ready enough to be rid of them. Thus employment was found for a large number of people. I well remember some of these establishments, consisting of a flour mill, a cloth factory, a tannery, a meat-curing house, a blacksmith's forge, and buildings in which were to be seen every day at work carpenters, tailors, shoemakers, saddlers, tobacco-curers, and, of necessity, butchers and bakers. In short, these establishments in old days, scattered about the country, were in fact and had quite the appearance of villages, and, before the wave of a free population rolled in over the land, were a necessity. Now with this little colony of convicts thus employed, many of whom were married and had young families, my mother, in the absence of my father and his sons, had at times a very great deal to do. There was, of course, always an overseer, promoted out of the class spoken of, to move about through them and to inspect the work being carried on. I have known many of these selected men, who had shown themselves worthy of being placed in a position of responsibility, during my father's busy life, develop into men of great wealth. Amongst such men he had the reputation of being a just man and a good master, and by his assigned servants generally he was thought well of. He took no pleasure in punishing men, never exercising the powers that the law gave him, except in cases of continued drunkenness or for gross insubordination. I may tell a story here, illustrating the estimation in which he was held by some escaped convicts who had taken to the bush, as it was called, and
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were supporting themselves by "sticking up" travellers on the high road. On this occasion my father was travelling from Windsor to Penrith, and through a thickly-timbered country, when three or four men, with crape drawn over their faces and armed with muskets, stopped him, demanding all the money that he had about him, and everything else of value that the carriage contained. Taking his money and some provisions that he had with him, they asked him who and what he was and where he was going, and on being told that he was Mr. Cox, of Clarendon, they at once gave back his money and returned the provisions, telling him that they knew him to be a good man, a good master, and a friend to poor men; that they made no war against such, but only against men of a hard and cruel nature, and that if all masters were like him there would be no bushrangers and no "sticking-up." The sequel to this story being that my father insisted upon these runaway convicts taking all in the way of provisions that they could conveniently carry off, and forgot, somehow, to report them at head quarters. The men of whom I write, these convicts, were unquestionably a rough lot to handle, and not easily humanised; and it is not too much to say that all masters or superintendents placed in authority over them were not equally well qualified to play the part of masters over them. In the matter of management of their assigned servants I have heard also that my father's first family were nearly as successful as himself. My recollection of these servants justifies my saying of them that they were always respectful, never forgetting what was due to their employer, unless when under the influence of intoxication. That was one of the sins of the times. A confirmed drunkard was an abomination to my father; he ever considering such a man as quite unfitted for promotion to a position of trust and responsibility. It will thus be seen that my mother, oftentimes called upon to exercise authority in my father's absence over a colony of workmen, their wives and families, was fully engaged in the performance of duties that few women in these days of higher education and general enlightenment would care to undertake, or undertaking, would show themselves capable of performing to the complete satisfaction of their husbands.
When I was quite a small boy I used to fancy that my father cared for music, for he seemed proud of my flute-playing, but after his bumping my head against a verandah post for persisting in whistling after he had repeatedly told me not to make a row, I began
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to be of opinion that he must indeed have been utterly indifferent to the higher kinds of music.
Touching my flute-playing, I well remember that when one day I was practising my very hardest, out of school hours, my master came up behind me and said, "Ah, boy, if you were only half as much in earnest over your other lessons as you seem to be over that flute-playing, we should have little fault to find with you." Fifteen years after this encouraging speech was made to me, I ventured to say to my wife, "I think I could sing if I seriously made the attempt." She remarked, "I think you could, if you had a voice." I once heard a married brother say, "Depend upon it, there is no one in this wide world so ready to speak disagreeable (un)truths as one's wife,"
Of my eldest brother I have not much to say in this record of past times. He was, unhappily, of a somewhat extravagant turn of mind, soon developing tastes that, over-indulged in, quickly brought him to grief. He took up racing in a small way, and was not long in making the discovery that no man was qualified to succeed in that fascinating and hazardous business or pursuit who was not admittedly twice as rich and ten times as clever as his neighbours.
My other brother, at a suitable age, was sent to England to complete his education. It was our father's wish that he should go to Oxford or Cambridge, and finally adopt the profession of law. He went through his University course, but could not be induced to study law. Finally, he entered the Church. He was a sharp, bright boy, always successful at school, and went up to Cambridge with a fair share of acquirements, classical and mathematical.
I was the third and youngest of my father's sons. The school at which my brothers and I were educated was the "King's School," Parramatta, in New South Wales. The Bishop of Australia, Bishop Broughton, was President of the school. It was, from first to last, head-mastered by clergymen of the Church of England, and open to the children of all colonists. Side by side were to be seen sons of men who had been convicts, grown now into respectable and order-loving citizens, and sons of settlers. I well remember Bishop Broughton, who visited and examined the school periodically. We rather dreaded him as an examiner, knowing him to be a classical scholar, and generally well fitted for the work. He was a consistent Churchman, somewhat of a statesman, and wise in the ways of the
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world. On a platform, speaking on any question, he was accounted an able speaker. I don't know that in my young days I ever listened to one who seemed to roll out his sentences with less apparent effort. In the church, his saying of prayers was impressive, his reading of the lessons effective, and his preaching up to a standard that, in the present day even, would be appreciated by an important section of Churchmen. In appearance he was intellectual-looking, as well as venerable. He was the first Bishop that went out to the great continent of Australia; he did good service in organizing the Church of England; and seen surrounded by his brother Bishops, looked a man amongst men, and was well deserving of the rank, style, and title of Metropolitan Bishop. He worked as a bishop for upwards of twenty years, living to the age of seventy-five or thereabouts, and leaving behind him a reputation for ability, consistency, and personal piety that I, as one of his flock both in youth and in maturity, ought not to refrain from publishing to the world.
Even so long as forty years ago, the Colony of New South Wales could muster up a strong body of representative men. The Church of England, as I have already written down, was well shepherded by Bishop Broughton.
The Roman Catholic Church was equally well cared for and guided by the late Archbishop Polding. He, too, looked like a bishop, and by his people was always regarded as a man worthy of the position to which he had been nominated. Very zealous in using all legitimate means to promote the cause of his Church and the interests of her children, he at the same time commanded the respect of those not included in his flock.
The Presbyterian Church at that time was represented by a remarkably strong man--the Rev. John Dunmore Lang. He was perhaps better known during many years of his colonial career, and more frequently spoken of as a statesman and politician than as a divine. He was for many years a representative in the New South Wales Parliament; from first to last a free lance, and holding his own amongst a cluster of conspicuous men--such men as Wentworth, Lowe, Michie, Darvall, and E. Deas Thomson. He was the author of a clever and carefully compiled history of New South Wales, and was a man of whom it might be said with great truthfulness, that " had he been half as clever he would certainly have been twice as useful."
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Amongst the old clergymen that first went out to Sydney to Christianize and humanize the convict population was the Rev. Samuel Marsden. He was appointed colonial chaplain, and very early in his colonial career, he by accident met with two New Zealanders whom Governor King had succeeded in inducing to go to Norfolk Island to show the convicts how to dress flax, which is indigenous there as well as in New Zealand. The author of "Te ika a mani; or, New Zealand and its Inhabitants" (the Rev. Richard Taylor, M.A., F.G.S., in speaking of Mr. Marsden, dwells at considerable length on the services rendered to the Maoris by him. He described him as "a man possessed of a great degree of firmness and determination, combined with plain good sense and fervent piety." On his first visit to New Zealand, in 1814, they anchored at about twenty miles north of the Bay of Islands. His first sermon preached to the Natives was from the text, "Behold, I bring you glad tidings of great joy." His last visit to New Zealand was in 1837. He had been seven times across the sea to preach and to teach, and when he made this last trip he was in his seventy-second year. His biographer says: "The aged man's heart was rejoiced. He had seen the beginning; he now saw it in its increase, and was enabled to bless God." He lived no great while after this, dying, indeed, in the same year.
Samuel Marsden was a masterful man, well known to all early colonists in New South Wales. I, as a boy, knew him, and have not yet forgotten his face and features. In the last few years of his life he was to be seen driving about the country with a well-bred and well-conditioned horse; but when I first remember him he was remarkable for the shabby look of his horse, and the battered condition of an old-fashioned gig, with a bullet-hole through the back of it. He took some pride in informing all men as to the cause of that bullet-hole. In one of his drives through the bush some men rushed out, shouting to him to stop. "Yes," said he, laying the whip on to the horse, "I'll stop when I get to the end of my journey. Good-day, my fine fellows." The scoundrels fired at the old man, but only succeeded in driving a bullet through the back of the gig. Another extract from the book already quoted, and I have done. " Chevalier Captain Dillon, in his interesting narrative respecting the fate of La Perouse, calls him (Mr. Marsden) the apostle of the South Seas--and he was a Roman Catholic. When his funeral sermon was preached
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at Parramatta, the Wesleyan superintendent wrote; 'Next Sunday morning we intend to close our chapel, and as a mark of respect to the memory of this venerable man, go to church to hear his funeral sermon.' Bishop Broughton said of him that, although he was the first legally-appointed bishop in Australia, he must always consider Samuel Marsden to have been the first actual one." I was amongst the many that attended his funeral in 1837, and was present in the church when his funeral sermon was preached.