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Encouragements to good conduct amongst the Prisoners--Attempt of a Working Gang to escape from the Island--Real cause of the destruction of the Orange Trees on Norfolk Island--Tobacco--Misconduct of the Garrison--Soldiers' gardens and the abuses these led to--Mutiny of the Troops speedily got under, and not generally known on the Island--Report made to the Commander-in-Chief--Recal of the whole party to Sydney--Destruction of Irish Town--After dinner story-- Difficulties encountered by Boats when leaving the Harbour-- Curious case of a Malingerer--An Inquiry ordered into the conduct of the Mutineers in spite of my remonstrance--Seven ordered for trial, convicted and transported--Complaints against me for having condemned pork as unfit for issue, when the contrary was the case--Other charges preferred by my predecessor--Refutation--Ordered to New Zealand, and requested by Sir G. Gipps to undertake the Government of that Colony--Dinner party given by the Governor of New South Wales, and curious Adventure--Arrival at the Bay of Islands--The Troops requested to aid the Civil authorities --State of the Acting-Governor, Captain Hobson's, health-- Mission to the Native Chiefs.
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Order was maintained amongst the prisoners not only by punishing crime, but by a system of rewards to those who conducted themselves properly. The approaches to the island by water are at all times dangerous, and frequent accidents occurred; but when the prisoners on shore or those pulling the boats shewed any remarkable energy and courage in saving the lives of those who were wrecked, they were sure to get a portion of their sentence commuted on the fact being reported to the Governor of New South Wales. So frequently were such services in requisition, that at times I suspected the danger had arisen by their own management, with the object of signalizing themselves in remedying the evil they themselves had created. But even here the tables were sometimes turned upon them. Sails were not allowed to any of the boats, and these row boats were built on the island with a sharp bow and stern without a rudder, but steered with a free coxswain in charge of the steer oar. I had lent a small boat to some of the officers to fish with, in a sort of inner bay separated from the sea by a ridge of coral over which the tide dashed, and afterwards receded by a very narrow channel with great violence; the boat was, on this occasion, manned by men who had been recommended for good conduct on a
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ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE.
previous occasion, and whilst waiting for the arrival of the officers at high water, a gang of prisoners who were at work close by attacked and carried off the boat. Two chained gangs were also on the spot, but as these could not move, they waved their working implements over their heads and cheered those making the attempt to escape. The boatmen made no resistance, but pretending to be vastly alarmed jumped into the water. Not so, the free coxswain. He contrived to shove the boat off to a short distance, until one of the attacking party jumped into the water and seized the blade of the steer oar to drag her back to the shore, when the coxswain found it necessary to take to the water, and effect his escape. No one of the free population ever supposed that the coral reef could be passed over; but to the surprise of all, the boat dashed through the surf, and gained without injury the open sea. The alarm was soon given, and two boats with a guard of soldiers in each, armed with cutlasses and pistols were sent in pursuit. After rounding the Napian Rock the boat was overtaken, the crew throwing up their oars, and begging not to be fired into by the guard. The boat which made the capture was commanded by the Engineer officer, Lieutenant Lugard; the fugitives were indifferent rowers, not being regularly
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ATTEMPT AT ESCAPE.
bred boatmen, and were much fatigued when they gave in; but notwithstanding their fatigue, the officer obliged them to pull back to the island with the guard-boat in tow. On their arrival I had them tried and well punished. The crew which had abandoned the boat on the first onset, had been recommended for a commutation of their sentence. This recommendation I caused to be cancelled.
This to them was a grievous punishment, but I was inexorable. Had they remained in the boat and stuck to the coxswain, the boat would never have been carried away.
It seems strange that these men without provisions or fresh water should have ventured on so long a voyage, the nearest land being New Zealand, about 700 miles distant. I rather think their intention was to have relanded on a distant part of Norfolk Island in the night, and to have supplied themselves from the huts of the shepherds, who being at a great distance from the settlement were allowed to sleep in huts built for that purpose. The shepherds were generally old men, and were provisioned once a week. The convicts might have obtained assistance from them forcibly, or perhaps they might have made some previous arrangement, for the prisoners I found
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generally assisted each other, when too much risk was not incurred by their so doing.
But to return to the rewards for good behaviour. A number of prisoners were allowed to act as gardeners, poultrymen, &c, to the officers of the station, and received the same ration with the exception of spirits, as the troops. They were at night sent back to the prisoners' barrack, where they slept. Other prisoners had lighter chains; a great number none at all. Many were allowed gardens that they might cultivate the sweet potato, and each gang at work was allowed a man to collect fruit--guavas and lemons. It was said that formerly there were a great number of orange trees on the island; but they were destroyed by one of the early commandants, in order that when any prisoner took to the bush he might not find the means of subsistence. This I am inclined to believe unfounded, and that the failure of oranges in the wood was occasioned by the anxiety of the early settlers at the penal settlement, to transplant the trees into their new gardens, when the trees were too old to be removed with safety. There are however in private gardens a few orange trees left. At Orange Vale there was a nutmeg tree. Although suckers were laid down from this tree every year, the demand for them to
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be sent to Sydney was always so urgent that I doubt if any of them survived the removal.
Another great incentive to good conduct amongst the prisoners, was an allowance of tobacco granted by the Government to the constables and most deserving men. It is difficult to conceive the avidity with which tobacco was sought after by the prisoners. It was a luxury worth obtaining at any price, and some of the methods they employed to conceal it, when obtained clandestinely, were very remarkable.
My predecessor found it necessary to order that each man when he returned from work should be stripped, yet after the men's clothes had all been minutely searched, it was found they still contrived to secrete tobacco about their persons, and it was only by flogging the delinquents that the practice was put a stop to.
Parties were frequently sent out to search the most remote situations on the island, and to prevent tobacco being grown and manufactured. It was still evident that a greater quantity of manufactured tobacco found its way to the prisoners than they were allowed as a ration from the Government, and that this could only be obtained by means of the troops of the garrison, in return for such articles as the convicts might be able to
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pilfer from the Government, and from private individuals.
The practice of allowing soldiers to cultivate gardens particularly favoured this evasion of discipline. A prisoner might succeed in stealing a turkey or other object coveted by the soldiery. This was killed and left hidden in a tuft of grass, or behind a bush, and when visited, a quantity of tobacco was left in its place supposed equal to its value; for in these transactions amongst the traders, the utmost honour in their dealings was observed. The transaction was termed a plant. A cluster of huts behind the barrack, called Irish Town, built by the soldiers for the ostensible purpose of keeping their garden produce and garden implements, was a general receptacle for stolen property. The doors to each hut were so arranged that they could not be overlooked either from Government House or from the officers' barrack, and, in consequence, people could pass in or out unobserved at all hours.
A robbery had been traced to the barrack and a suspected soldier was tried. On the inquiry which led to his trial, another private stated that if the robbery had been committed by one of his comrades, the stolen property would be found in Irish Town. He was asked why he thought so,
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and he replied that to his knowledge it was the seat of every kind of villany. At this man's suggestion the huts were searched, and on entering the second or third hut the stolen property was found. I now determined that Irish Town should be levelled with the ground; and other huts built for the reception of the men's potatoes and gardening implements, so situated that they might be overlooked from the officers' barracks, and by the constables at Government House. This produced a mutiny in the garrison of a very serious nature, which I thought best not to disguise from the knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief of the Australian Colonies, although it was quickly suppressed; but I here transcribe the report which detailed the circumstances attending it.
"Norfolk Island, 23rd July, 1839.
"The painful duty has devolved upon me of having to report to your Excellency the highly insurbordinate and mutinous conduct of a large proportion of the private soldiers doing duty at this penal settlement.
From the frequent complaints received by me or depredations committed by the private soldiers on the Government property, and that of the civil
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
officers of the establishment, and their mutual depredations on the gardens and poultry of each other, with complaints or rather insinuations that these acts were perpetrated by the convicts, I determined to put a stop to these disgraceful proceedings by removing certain huts in the rear of the old barracks, built avowedly to stow away their garden crops before my arrival on the island, but more frequently perverted to the most discreditable purposes.
"Captains Gulston and Lockhart came to me on the first of the present month, about eight o'clock, a. m., to report that their men had assembled that morning in a very riotous manner, and driven away an overseer and a party of prisoners I had employed to raze these huts and build others as they proceeded, in a position I had marked out the day before to the colour-sergeants.
"Having had no reason to expect such conduct, I was not a little surprised at the information thus received, and in consequence issued the order annexed; 1 and as it was raining, as soon as the weather permitted, I sent to Captain Gulston, requesting to be furnished with a fatigue party, conceiving that the men having had time to reflect on their conduct would not oppose the work being
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
done by their own comrades. To my surprise, however, the fatigue party had scarcely arrived, when I perceived a party of about forty or fifty men had forced their way out of the new barracks, and were rushing with loaded muskets across the parade towards the spot where I stood.
"Indignant at an act of direct mutiny, I seized the foremost man and tried to drag him, and in succession several others, back to their quarters, but without effect, as those I selected were invariably held back and assisted by the others. At length they were prevailed upon to return to their barracks, the more readily as it commenced to rain; they however formed again, armed and accoutred under the verandah, where they forced most of the other men off duty to join them. There I addressed them, I confess not in very flattering terms, and learnt that some wished to have the same ration of spirits issued as in the colony. This, I told them, they should never have so long as I retained the slightest influence with the authorities at Sydney. Others said they had purchased their huts and garden crops from the 50th Regiment. Some said they had purchased two gardens on their arrival, and conceived they had a right to retain them. I replied, to my knowledge they had been cautioned against so doing by Major Ander-
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
son, as it was against orders, and should have devolved upon them in succession without payment. To this some of them assented, but stated, notwithstanding the order, had they not done so, the crops would have been rooted up and they would have been left for months without vegetables. I however told them I could never suffer such irregularities to continue, nor would I countenance a traffic to benefit a few, which evidently had the effect of depriving the many of equal advantage. Further that I proposed in future to prevent these disgraceful occurrences, by supplying their messes from a garden to be cultivated by Government; but that a charge should be made against each man for the vegetables thus supplied, and for any fruit they might require--their bad conduct having precluded me from recommending to the authorities their having them on any other conditions. This last proposition was received with evident distaste; they did not seem to disperse. I therefore left them to attend to other duties, when finding that they could not by menaces extort any promise from me, and that no further notice was taken of them, they very quietly returned to their duty.
"I am happy to be able to add that the conduct of these misguided men since the day alluded to has been marked by apparent contrition,
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
and as if they felt ashamed of their violent and outrageous conduct. I even think that I can see a difference in the attention and respectful manner with which their duties are now performed.
"The officers of the detachment, I must also do the justice to say, exerted themselves during the tumult in the most praiseworthy manner. They repaired to my assistance with the utmost alacrity, and so much so, that I was twice under the necessity of peremptorily ordering them to retire, as I feared they might attempt to employ force, and which I could see would only have increased the irritation, and might have endangered the safety of the island.
"To enable your Excellency duly to estimate the effect of allowing soldiers, doing duty on the island, to have gardens; it will be necessary to point out the origin of this nuisance.
"Married soldiers with families, it would seem, have always been permitted to cultivate a garden, and the unmarried equally possessed themselves of others without permission, at the period of my predecessor taking the command.
"For these irregularities it appears that he recommended the same indulgence should be granted to the whole. The result might have been anticipated. The extent of ground occupied rendered it
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
impossible with the frequent relief and consequent change that the officers should control their management; and in point of fact it was never attempted, and the idle soldier and new comer, when shewn a place for his future supply of vegetables, too frequently supplied his present wants by imposing contributions on others. I do not mean to assert the depredations were always committed by soldiers. It was sometimes worse. Convicts and convict servants were allured to it by the prospect of trafficking with them. Government tools, lent with the sanction of my predecessor, for the cultivation of these gardens could never be obtained for the half-yearly inspection of agricultural implements, and most of them are now claimed as private property, purchased with the gardens from the preceding regiment. The troops became slovenly and dissatisfied when called upon for any duty that withdrew them from their supposed occupations, and had not the system, tolerated by my predecessor, produced effects tendering so much to undermine the discipline of my present command, I should not feel warranted now in reporting what I ought not to have withheld on assuming the charge. At the period of my arrival on the island, there were no daily parades for the men going on duty. An attempt of Cap-
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
tain Gulston to make his men sit down to dinner, clean and properly dressed as at head-quarters, occasioned the wanton destruction of some of the crops in his garden and that of another officer, and acts of insubordination followed, the result of which was the adoption of more vigorous measures, and some men were tried by court-martial, by order of Major Anderson. At the parade ordered for reading the sentence, I understood that twenty or thirty men had absented themselves. Of course I did not disguise from Major Anderson my opinion of the relaxed state of discipline maintained, and the difficulties I should have to encounter with young and inexperienced officers in restoring it to a more healthy tone; but as I at that period studiously avoided interfering, I did not perceive the extent of the evil or the causes from which it originated. But your Excellency is aware that it is not the sudden and capricious burst of rigour which forms discipline, but a steady healthy degree of tension; and although occasional relaxation may be permitted with the English soldier, if we wish to study his happiness the reins must not be held too loosely.
"With your Excellency's sanction and approval I propose to provide all the unmarried soldiers with vegetables and fruit when in season. The
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REPORT OP THE MUTINY.
rations to be one pound of potatoes, cabbage, onions, pumpkins, &c, to make the whole equal to two pounds per man daily, and to take their gardens from them. I further propose that the men should be charged at the rate of one penny per diem each, and an extra half-penny when rock and watermelons are issued. Having thus an abundance of vegetables, they can have no object in pilfering from the gardens of others, or for encouraging convict servants clandestinely to supply them; moreover, the notoriously uniform bad conduct and drunkenness which prevail whenever a detachment from Norfolk Island arrives at Sydney, it is to be hoped will become less conspicuous, as the amount of credits due to them will be much reduced by the charge of two shillings and sixpence per month made for their messing whilst on the island.
"Soldiers who are not likely to apply their money to the injury of their health on returning to Sydney, such as the married with families, officers' servants who are generally supplied with vegetables from their masters' gardens, and a few others might still reap those benefits which I should be sorry to see withheld from the good and deserving soldier.
"It is my duty, however, to inform your Excel-
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REPORT OF THE MUTINY.
lency that this proposed measure is extremely unpopular with those for whom it is intended.
Captain G----- proceeds to Sydney in charge of the guard. I have selected this officer in order that your Excellency may, by referring to him, obtain any further information you may require. Should he not be desirous of returning, and you be pleased to order him to be replaced by another officer from the regiment, may I request that a captain of of standing and experience for such a command may be sent in lieu of another subaltern, as the civil duties of my appointment preclude my paying that constant attention to the discipline of the troops, which is so essentially necessary with the characters here. At present I have ordered a temporary supply of vegetables without payment for the men, which allowance will not exceed one pound per diem, and that the gardens of the men returning now should be broken up until your Excellency's pleasure is made known. I also trust that the nature of this communication will be received as a sufficient excuse for having deviated in forwarding it direct instead of through the usual channel, for which reason I have taken the liberty of referring Sir G. Gipps to your Excellency for the details of these occurrences should he require them; assigning as a reason that I had recom-
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TO COLONIAL SECRETARY.
mended measures to prevent their recurrence of which possibly you might not approve. I have herewith taken the liberty of forwarding to your Excellency a copy of the orders issued for the guidance of the troop on my assuming the command in April last.
"I have the honour to be,
"Your most obedient humble servant,
"T. BUNBURY, Major.
"80th Regiment and Commandant.
"To His Excellency Major-General Sir M. O'Connell, K. C. H.
"Commanding the Forces."
To the Colonial Secretary I reported as follows:--
"Norfolk Island, August 2, 1839.
"With regret I have to make known to you that the conduct of the private soldiers of this garrison was so bad on the 1st ultimo, that I have been compelled to make a special report of their insubordination and mutinous conduct to the Major-General Commanding.
"In the uncertainty whether his Excellency commanding the forces will view their conduct, and the causes which have led to it, in the same light as myself, and sanction the measures which
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I have recommended to prevent similar occurrences in future, I abstain from entering into these particulars, trusting that Sir Maurice will make known his views and wishes to his Excellency the Governor for my future guidance, and also any further details which bis Excellency may require.
"I have the honour to be,
"Your obedient servant,
"T. BUNBURY, Major.
"80th Regiment and Commandant.
"To the Honorable the Colonial Secretary, &c."
Here follows the reply.
"Colonial Secretary's Office, Sydney, Sept. 11, 1839.
"With reference to your letter of the 2nd ultimo (No. 249), I am directed to inform you that the Governor has been in personal communication with the Commander of the forces on the subject of the recent insubordination manifested by the troops at Norfolk Island, and that his Excellency entirely concurs with the Major-General, that the whole of the detachment should be immediately relieved. That, agreeably to the wishes of Sir Maurice O'Connell, his Excellency has expressed to Sir Gordon Bremer his anxious
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desire, that the 'Alligator' should proceed with the relieving party, and he is happy to say that Sir Gordon Bremer has expressed his readiness to proceed in company with the vessel which had been hired to convey to the settlement a party of the 50th Regiment, and concurs in thinking it desirable to display at Norfolk Island, on the arrival of the relieving party, a force amply sufficient to overawe and repress any tendency to renewed subordination on the part of the detachment which is to be relieved.
"The ship 'Cornwall' has accordingly been hired by the Deputy-Commissary-General, and proceeds to Norfolk Island with a party of the 50th Regiment, consisting of about one hundred and eighty men under the command of Major Ryan, to whom I am instructed to request you will give over the charge of the settlement and all the books, papers and accounts respecting it, and return to head-quarters by the present opportunity.
"I have the honour to be, &c, &c.
(Signed)"G. Deas Thomson."
I was told shortly after my return to Sydney by the General, that the Government had sent several times for the officer, the bearer of my despatch, but that he always appeared drunk or fuddled, not
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ARRIVAL OF VESSELS.
being able to give any account of himself or of the the occurrence which had taken place on the island. He was, however, certain that Irish Town still existed, and that up to the period of his leaving I had not attempted to destroy it. Under these circumstances, the authorities very charitably and sapiently conjectured that things were much worse than I had represented, and hence the brig of war had been sent to reconquer the island.
When the two vessels first appeared off the settlement, their boats would not venture through the surf. They had, moreover, neglected to bring with them the code of private signals which was changed every voyage. We were not permitted to have Marriott's or the signals generally used in the navy, least we might be too fond of signalizing with the whalers off the coast, of whom there were sometimes a great number.
If a landing could not be effected on one side of the island it generally could on the other, from that becoming the weather shore. Our signals were not understood, and only tended to convince those on board of the necessity for caution, and they now fully believed that the island was in the possession of the prisoners, or of the mutineers. At length the wind shifted, and I was enabled to send off the boat from the shore, when Sir Gordon learnt the
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ARRIVAL OF SIR G. BREMER.
true state of affairs. On his landing I went to receive him, and he appeared highly delighted with the order and regularity around him, as well as with the clean and orderly appearance of the troops at the guards, and was not a little annoyed at the errand on which he had been sent; the services of the 'Alligator' being urgently required elsewhere.
He said it was known at Sydney that I had not succeeded in destroying Irish Town, and he inquired what prevented my doing so. This was easily answered. At the time of the outbreak, no person excepting the troops themselves and a catholic priest, who accidentally witnessed the transaction knew what had happened. There were upwards of 1400 convicts on the island. The garrison consisted of 155 men, and although their duty did not require their communicating with the prisoners, there was some reason to believe that an understanding existed between them. I did not therefore insist on the troops destroying the huts, although they volunteered to do so, but said I had reported their conduct to the authorities at Sydney and would await orders from there. In the meantime, although I could not promise that they would not be punished for their misconduct, they might continue to perform military duty, and by their future behaviour earn the favourable consideration
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FIRE THE HUTS.
of the Major-General. Even this show of leniency was forced upon me. I had not sufficient men for the daily duties, much less could I have sent them prisoners to Sydney, with the necessary witnesses for their trial. As a military man, I naturally felt desirous to carry my point; but with the lives of so many families, and the safety of the colony at stake, it would have been exceedingly injudicious to have occasioned fresh irritation until I was certain of having the means of repressing it. Sir Gordon entirely coincided with my views.
I said I doubted if the huts had been since used, but to convince him of the subordination of the men I would now put it to the test. I then ordered a constable to desire the Sergeant-Major to set fire to all the huts in the rear of the old barrack. Before Sir Gordon and myself had reached Government House the whole was in a blaze.
I could not prevail upon Major Ryan, my successor, to take over the command of the settlement. The charge of entertaining guests during their stay in the island fell therefore upon me. We seldom sat down less than twelve or fourteen to dinner, and we found some of the party very amusing. Conversing one evening about convict discipline, there was a transition to female convicts by Sir Gordon's remarking how much more
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A FEMALE CONVICT.
difficult they were to manage than men. He said he had lately witnessed at Parramatta the introduction of a very handsome woman, who according to her own account, was the widow of a foreign officer of high rank, and a foreigner herself, but as others said, was the daughter of a fishmonger at the West End, her real name being Mary Mayers. She had been brought from Hobart Town for some offence committed in Van Diemen's Land. Major R-----, who sat at the top of the table, exclaimed "Is it possible this person of whom you have been speaking can be the Countess d'Istuell?" "I think that was her name," was the reply. I could perceive by an arch-twinkling of Sir Gordon's eye that he was determined to draw the Major out. "I think you have told me you were for some time quartered there yourself," he added; "you will therefore perhaps be better able to tell us something of this person." The Major fell into the trap incontinently. "The person you allude to as being at Parramatta cannot be the same. I once knew a Polish lady whose husband, Count d'Istuell, had been killed in a duel. She arrived in a merchant vessel at Launceston, when I was there as commandant. She was in great affliction, and called at my office to say, she was desirous of remaining some time at Launceston, if I thought she
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A FEMALE CONVICT.
would be received in some respectable family as a companion and governess; she spoke English as an Englishwoman, and I had no difficulty in getting her immediately established as she desired." Sir Gordon here inquired if there had not been some dispute with the captain of the ship, which brought her to Van Diemen's Land. "Oh yes!" he replied, "the brute--I sent for her boxes at her desire. He pretended he knew no such person as the Countess d'Istuell. There was a Mary Mayers had some boxes, but they should not be given up until they were paid for. The family by whom she was received were delighted with her, but they could not well be otherwise, she was so accomplished, so kind, and so good looking that she was adored by every body. I left Launceston some time afterwards and have not heard of her since." "Well, then, I think I can tell you," was Sir Gordon's reply. "She grew tired of Launceston, and became desirous of continuing her travels, and to obtain the necessary facilities, she thought proper to appropriate sundry silver spoons belonging to the family; but she was in the end detected, and became an inmate of the Penitentiary at Parramatta, where I went with the Governor, Sir George Gipps to see her. Although she is a fine woman, her appearance on this occasion was ludicrous enough.
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A FEMALE CONVICT.
She was dressed in the usual coarse prison dress, but with silk stockings. Thus equipped, although not exactly according to prison regulation, she no doubt thought to make an impression on Sir George; but the Governor had no more sympathies with a pretty foot and ancle than a stone. It was all thrown away on him, and he in the most provoking manner lectured her on her behaviour, and the prospects before her. She seemed at first affected by Sir George's remarks, but growing tired I suppose, she took from her bosom a small tablet, and then commenced scribbling upon it, looking the Governor all the while earnestly in the face. Perceiving this he cried out 'Mary Mayers pay attention. What are you doing?'
"'Really Sir George,' she said, 'there is something so touching in your discourse that I was taking notes of it for my edification.'
"The Governor muttered something between his teeth about impudent huzzy, and we both withdrew."
We had at table a youngster, aide-de-camp to the Governor who had come with the expedition to Norfolk Island with the idea I suppose, of seeing service. He added. "Then Sir Gordon you never heard the sequel of the Governor's attempt to reform Mary Mayers. I will tell you. It occurred
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A FEMALE CONVICT.
a few days after you had been there together. We visited the Penitentiary, and Sir George ordered her to be called. The lady made her appearance, not looking angelic as you have described, but more like a fury. We had scarcely entered the room when not fancying the appearance of things, I squeezed myself behind the chief and the doorpost, and gained the room we had left. I had just succeeded in effecting my retreat, when the amiable creature advanced towards Sir George, saying to him: 'Don't think, sir, that I am going to listen to any more of your humbug and cant,' and seizing him at the same time by his dress, before he could recover his surprise she twirled him round, and planting a kick on his Excellency's seat of honour drove him out of the room amidst roars of laughter from some other penitents who had followed her." I don't know what became of the lady of the alias's afterwards, or whether Sir George commended her to the tender mercies of the matron of the establishment, but at all events she would be considered by the other prisoners in the light of an empress.
A boat of the "Alligator" was twice swamped in attempting to leave the settlement with a quantity of live stock in her, pigs, turkeys, geese, and fowls were all drowned with the exception of one
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pig, the property of a young midshipman who sat at the stern sheets holding its head, between his knees, out of the water, and thus contrived to save the animal, but with no small risk of being washed out of the boat himself.
The coxswains in the employ of the convict boats knew well when to put off. They used to watch a rock some distance off called the Wolf Rock, and when the long waves came booming over it, they judged how long they might delay, for if once through the surf and out in still water when the huge continuity of wave arrived and broke behind them, the danger was over. I observed that the tars wore life preserver belts, a proof how dangerous they considered the landing, and on my pointing this out to one of their officers, he declared that he had never seen them use a similar precaution before. One of their boats which had been swamped, was steered by a convict coxswain. It was necessary to lay quietly on your oars, and at a given signal to pull manfully, but the fellow made so much noise, and used such extraordinary imprecations, that the tars did not give way together. In consequence of this, the boat was swamped and thrown on the rocks. I could not myself but suspect that the coxswain had done it on purpose to give his comrades on shore
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LETTER FROM SIR G. BREMER.
an opportunity of performing the service, and I afterwards sent for him, and lectured him accordingly.
Sir Gordon Bremer was now prepared to take his departure, and I received from him the following letter.
"H. M. Ship 'Alligator,' off Norfolk Island,
"September 20, 1839.
The detachment under your command having embarked on board the ship 'Cornwall,' it appears to me unnecessary for me to continue longer in this neighbourhood.
"I have the honour, therefore, to inform you that I intend to depart for Sydney this evening, unless you should be of opinion that my presence can be of any essential benefit to Her Majesty's Service, in which case I shall be most happy to remain,
"I have the honour to be, Sir,
"Your most obedient servant,
"J. S. GORDON BREMER.
" To Major Bunbury, Commanding Detachment 80th Reg."
I was next called upon to request that I would permit the gentlemen and clergymen employed by the Government, to present me an address, ex-
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PERTINACITY OF CONVICTS.
pressing their sense of the services I had rendered the island, and the great satisfaction they had experienced in serving under me. This I could not allow. Any collective expression of their opinion in the circumstances in which I was placed, would in my opinion prejudice them with the authorities in Sydney without being of use to me. A copy of their intended address was accidentally left with me, and was of some service in refuting a calumny to which I was exposed some time afterwards.
After disposing of my surplus stores and furniture, and taking leave of my friends, I embarked in the "Cornwall," having refused, for obvious reasons, a passage in the "Alligator," which Sir Gordon Bremer was so kind as to offer me.
On my way from Government House to the place of embarkation, a circumstance occurred illustrative of the pertinacity with which some of the convicts will endure pain in order to obtain a particular object. A man of the name of Develloi, formerly a teacher of French, nicknamed by his fellow prisoners Devil's eye, had been for years on crutches, his station being near the lime-kilns and bathing place. When not so employed, he was to be seen sunning himself or seated against the sea wall. I had, from his general healthy appearance, suspected him of being a malingerer, and had
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PERTINACITY OF A CONVICT.
communicated with the doctor on the subject, and was told he had been strictly watched, and it would be difficult to prove his infirmity feigned. This man, in other respects, was quiet and inoffensive.
At the time of my reform of the invalid gang, I told this prisoner that I should, consistent with my plan of making all contribute by some labour, towards their own maintenance, expect that he should not remain idle. He replied that he should even be obliged to me if I could find some employment for his hands, provided that his legs had no share in it, and that he might not be required to move from one place to another. I had just the sort of work that would suit him, so I placed him in the sheds close by, to assist in the manufactory of New Zealand flax, and as this employment gave him companions to talk to, he seemed satisfied, but still went on crutches when he had occasion to leave the work-shed.
Seeing Develloi follow me towards the place of embarkation, and knowing that, like many others, he wanted my interest to be exerted on arriving at Sydney, to get a part of his sentence remitted, I quickened my pace to avoid him. We had a regular race for it. Seeing that I was leaving him far behind, he fairly threw away his crutches and
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ARRIVAL AT SYDNEY.
ran after me, so that he was soon at my side. It was of no use my telling him that my interest had ceased. He said he had never been brought up for misconduct since I had been on the island, and surely I could do something for him. I pointed to his supposed crippled limbs, saying, "What miracle is this? you seem now to walk very well, and to run still better." Looking very piteously he replied, "Ah, Sir, this is not a time to notice these things. Pray get my sentence commuted!"
On our arrival at Sydney, I reported myself to Major-General Sir Maurice O'Connell, commanding the troops. He appeared satisfied with my conduct, with the exception that I had not immediately insisted on the destruction of Irish Town. My predecessor, he said, had also complained of the manner in which I had spoken of his arrangements in my despatch. He was now on leave of absence, but on his return he had requested that it might be investigated. I told him his own letters and recommendations were in existence in the Colonial office at Sydney, and could be easily referred to; for my part, I was prepared to prove everything I had stated. The General then said that he intended to bring the ring-leaders of the mutiny to trial, and as they were at large, he requested that
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I would send in their names, in order that they might be placed in confinement. These men had now been for nearly three months taking their regular turn of duty, and had shewn the utmost contrition for their misconduct from the day succeeding it; true I had never made them any promise, that they would not afterwards be punished. I had no other alternative than to employ them. The garrison, by the orders of the Major-General, had been reduced to the lowest possible scale; the force in the colonies being insufficient to supply a larger. To have sent these men, by the vessels which left Norfolk Island afterwards, prisoners, with the witnesses as guards over them, would have risked the safety of the Government brig, with its general cargo of returned convicts. I therefore pleaded strenuously in their behalf, pointing out also my doubts of the legality of instituting further proceedings against them; but to no purpose. It had already been decided they should be brought to justice, and that their sentence should be carried into effect as an example to deter others. I had taken no notes, and felt little inclination to make inquiries, or collect evidence from either officers or men, and as I was slow in my movements, the Major-General ordered a court of inquiry; an open court, in which I was
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MEET THE MAJOR-GENERAL.
to be present, as stated in the order for its assembly.
This first interview I had with the Major-General was on the road leading to the House of Assembly, and as we ascended the hill he asked me whether I had called upon his Excellency upon my arrival; I told him I had not, nor did I intend doing so unless he considered it a point of duty that I should. He said common politeness required it. At all events it was a duty. At this moment the Governor was seen approaching us, when I earnestly begged permission to be allowed to depart. They were both of them of course highly displeased; and my conduct was certainly not justified by any treatment I had received from them since my return. It was an ebullition of feeling arising from the treatment I had experienced on the occasion of my appointment, without reflecting that their sentiments towards me might have undergone a considerable change since then. But a charge which Sir George ordered to be brought against me, crowned my disgust. I however went and wrote my name in the visitor's book at Government House, at the very bottom of a page hardly commenced, without inquiry whether he was at home.
The accusation brought afterwards against me,
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CHARGES AGAINST ME
through the Colonial Secretary, was of having allowed myself to be coerced by the troops at Norfolk Island, into ordering a board to assemble to condemn some pork as unfit for use, which was in reality of good quality; a piece having been returned to Sydney to Sir George Gipps for trial, and which his Excellency had found excellent. In my reply, I stated that the affair in question was for the consideration of the Commander-in-chief, and not for that of the civil authorities, it being connected purely with the military, and not with the civil concerns of the penal establishment; but not to be considered uncourteous, I had no objection to state what I knew for his information.
I had received frequent complaints through the officers on duty that the pork was, although good in appearance when raw, unfit for the troops when boiled. I requested to be informed when the next issue took place, that I might attend and see the men's dinners. The pork when boiled appeared porous and like a sponge, in fact the whole substance had boiled out, and was floating on the water, and this I was informed was a characteristic feature of measly pork. I then ordered a board to assemble, at which the assistant-surgeon in charge of the military was to attend--the pork was pro-
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nounced unfit for issue and I approved the proceeding.
It is a standing regulation at Norfolk Island, as elsewhere, that all condemned stores are to be destroyed on the spot, and I cannot but regret that any person of the commissariat department should have presumed to contravene that regulation by re-shipping condemned stores for Sydney without my permission.
In the communication to the Colonial Secretary I said, "If Sir George found the sample brought to his table excellent, I am glad for his sake; but to my own taste, if it should please his Excellency to invite me to dinner, I should prefer another description, believing the condemned pork to be unwholesome."
This impertinent sally towards a person of Sir George's character and temperament, might be expected to have produced an angry reply; but I supposed he only laughed at it, and I heard no more of the condemned pork, nor was that charge afterwards ever brought seriously against me.
It was evident that I had irretrievably embroiled myself with the authorities, both civil and military; and for a long time afterwards I was never asked to their dinner parties, although all the officers serving under me were. I felt that I had
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COURT OF INQUIRY.
done my duty; and impatient under a supposed stigma, I did not sufficiently estimate their real sentiments towards me, nor did I take any steps to discover them. On the contrary, by my own conduct, I precluded myself from having any friendly intercourse with them.
The Court of Inquiry which assembled to discover the names of the ring-leaders in the mutiny, requested that I might not be present. This was an extraordinary proceeding to be taken by the Court, which was ordered to be an open one, and I at once foresaw that the culprits could not escape. On the Court closing its proceedings, I was ordered by the Major-General to prefer charges against the men named in a list sent to me for that purpose.
I applied for permission to peruse the proceedings of the Court of Inquiry, on which to ground the charges, and the names of the witnesses to be in each case brought forward. After a delay of a day or two and some objections, these were sent to me, and the General Court-Martial was ordered to assemble for their trial.
In each case in my address to the Court, I was obliged to give a succinct account of the circumstances which may be supposed to have led to these proceedings, and I took care also to extenuate and attribute to infatuation the conduct of
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these misguided men, who had no sooner erred than they repented and returned to their duty as good soldiers. Of the eight tried, seven were sentenced to be transported for life, and one for fourteen years, but the sentence of this last was remitted at the recommendation of the Court.
All my endeavours to obtain the pardon of these men were unavailing. Both the Commander-in-Chief and the Governor conceived it to be necessary that an example should be made of men guilty of such an outrage. Unfortunately, in the defence they some of them attempted to prove that I had drawn my sword and threatened to cut down the first man who dared to attempt to pass me; and the fact that they had freshly primed their muskets, thinking, I presume, to intimidate me, only added to their guilt instead of lessening it.
Shortly after the termination of these proceedings, Major A----- having returned, an investigation, at his suit, took place on certain allegations I had made in my report of the causes which led to the insubordinate condition of the garrison. Some how or other, after every inquiry my conduct seemed to rise higher in the estimation of those by whom I had been employed. Finding facts against him, the Major tried to make it an affair between
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the two corps, and having taken a week to make his opening address to the Court, I was not long in demolishing his arguments; two or three hours being sufficient for that purpose. The President of the Court was a great friend of the Major's, but very unpopular with every body else. He showed so much partiality, that he laid himself open to some remarks from me, which so much hurt his feelings that he declared in open court that he would call me out. He had listened for a whole week to a discourse from my opponent, and during the two hours required for my reply, I was interrupted at every sentence. I therefore said that the other members of the Court did not appear to enter into his views, I should treat his repeated interruptions with indifference, and he would find that neither in court or elsewhere would I be put down by him. He wanted me to bring more witnesses. I only brought two. The documents before the Court were quite sufficient for my purpose, and I would not produce any others to please him. The Major in his address to the Court indulged in a deal of declamation, and amongst other things stated he had learnt that, in consequence of my tyrannical conduct, I was hated by the whole of the gentlemen in the Government employ on the island. I produced the copy of the address I had declined
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to receive, containing the signatures of these very people, and said if the Major could produce a similar proof of sympathy, he would doubtless do so; and if not, I should presume that his popularity rested on the same basis on which he wished to place mine.
The whole was a laughable farce, and my only fear afterwards was that I had indulged in too much irony and levity to be agreeable to the authorities, for whose information the Court had been assembled. The attempt made to breed ill feeling between the two corps I deprecated. I was not in the habit of taking counsel from those serving under my command, and I begged they would therefore consider me as wholly and solely responsible for my supposed reflections made on a corps, whose character stood too high to need my praises and which was too distinguished to be affected by what others might choose to say had been my conduct towards them.
As all officers who might be doing duty at Sydney were considered honorary members of the mess of the regiment, stationed there for the time being, I determined to carry this affair through, and I therefore went that same evening to dine at the mess of the rival corps, as I did every succeeding
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day until I left Sydney, and was received always with the greatest attention and kindness.
Moreover, on one occasion when their officers were all absent from the barracks, happening to be in their mess-room reading the papers, a number of officers from an American frigate called on them. I apologized for their absence, asked the whole party to lunch, and when they had left highly delighted, I told the mess-waiter to see that the whole was charged to my account. The president of the mess-committee afterwards called to thank me for having received the American officers during their absence; but said they could not permit me to pay for the entertainment of their guests, as I had requested the mess-waiter to do.
Where there exists any pre-disposition, the harmony between two corps is easily interrupted; this was nearly occurring to me a few weeks afterwards. A fire took place in the town, and as field-officer of the week, I took the command of the whole party; when having received a complaint that a brace of pocket-pistols had been stolen by the working party from a shop from whence they were removing their articles, previous to marching the men to their barracks I ordered them to fall in by regiments, and commencing with my own I passed down the ranks requesting each man to
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GET INTO FAVOUR.
take off his cap. The only soldiers who complained of the indignity of being thus searched, were three or four men of the 50th regiment, one of whom had the stolen property on him. It was fortunate in my circumstances that I had caused my own people to be searched first, or I should have been accused of offering them an intentional insult.
I never, whilst I remained at Sydney, heard anything of the results of the different ordeals through which I had passed, but subsequent events occurred which showed that I had grown mightily in favour. Meeting the General in one of my rambles, he called me to him to say that it had been the intention of Sir George and himself that I should return to take charge again of the settlement at Norfolk Island; but that an officer had arrived from England appointed by the Home Government to that charge. This officer was Captain M-----, under whom the whole management was to be revised, and as it was called ameliorated. I begged to assure him that I was quite satisfied with the change, as I had no wish to return to the island. But I still felt like a bull in a china shop, and I have no doubt that others considered me in the same light, ready to make a tilt at anything that came before me; for I made no advance
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towards getting reinstated in the good graces of my superiors, and in consequence I was still excluded from their social board.
The detachment of the 80th I commanded at Sydney, dwindled away every day in consequence of detachments being sent from it to other stations. At length an order came for one captain and sixty men to be held in readiness to embark for New Zealand, and having now no further command, I applied to the military authorities for a cart to convey my luggage to Windsor, the headquarters of the regiment. The following morning instead of my requisition being returned "granted," I was ordered to meet the General at the Military Secretary's office, and here I found the General, his Aide-de-camp, the Brigade-Major, and Military Secretary sitting in conclave. The General opened the business of the day by informing me that he had received my requisition for a cart, but that instead of my going to Windsor, circumstances required my services elsewhere. "I shall," said he, "increase by a few men the force about to proceed to New Zealand, and send you in command of it. Would you like to go there? and if so, how long would it take you to get ready?" "Twenty-four hours," was the reply, "if you do not want me to embark sooner, and I am always ready to go when ordered." "Should
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a civil appointment be attached to the command would you like to take it?" My reply was, "Most decidedly not." The General seemed somewhat disconcerted, and said, "You seemed to be very irate against the civil authorities, pray what cause has given rise to it?" I told him the treatment I had received was not likely to make me desirous of accepting employment under them again, unless forced to it from my military position. "This," he added, "seems to me very strange, for I have frequently heard Sir George Gipps state that he was better satisfied with your administration of the convict establishment at Norfolk Island than with that of any of your predecessors, and he was surprised you should keep so much aloof from him since your return. You know he had decided on your return to the island, but for the arrival of Captain M-----, and I certainly would recommend your seeing him." I made my bow and retired, promising to wait on the Governor.
On returning to my quarters I addressed a note to Mr. Parker, the private secretary, informing him that I had been appointed by Sir M. O'Connell to command the troops about to proceed to New Zealand, and as his Excellency, I understood, might wish to see me before my departure, if he would
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name an hour when he would be at leisure to receive me, I would wait upon him.
The reply was he was ready to receive me immediately. I found Sir George alone. He received me very kindly, and making no allusion to our former misunderstanding, he at once entered into the business on which he desired to see me. He said he had received very bad news from New Zealand. The Lieutenant-Governor who had hitherto done nothing, not even so much as settled on the site for a town was, when the last accounts left the island, in a dying state from an attack of paralysis, and he had much reason to fear since, that his authority was exercised by a person attached to him in a manner he could not approve. He had been much disappointed in the person whom he named to succeed to the government, in the event of the contingency taking place which had now actually occurred; that person having left the authorities constituting the government in the greatest confusion, and although he (Sir George) had heard that he had been for some days in Sydney with his family, he had yet not reported his arrival, nor could he learn beyond rumour the actual state of affairs when he left that colony.
Under these circumstances he wished me to go to New Zealand and assume the charge of the govern-
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SIR GEORGE GIPPS.
ment; should I find the Governor dead or incapable of performing personally the duties, I was to receive £1000 per annum, and he had little doubt that my appointment would be confirmed by the Home Government. Of course, should the Lieutenant-Governor be recovered, I should then only have to take charge of the troops and assist him if I pleased with my counsel; but at all events he advised me not to sign any papers for him, or act in his name or behalf without first receiving his resignation.
I was greatly taken aback at this proposition, for the reception of which I was by no means prepared. My education and previous habits disqualified me for the charge sought to be thrust upon me. The colony was a prey to land sharks and jobbers, at the head of whom was the New Zealand Company, and as the government departments were not yet organized, and with no person to advise with, I pointed out to Sir George what would thus be the difficulties of my situation, and the doubts I entertained of my ability to overcome them. At length he became angry, and said, "I must have a decided yes or no, for if you refuse it I must seek for another person for this duty. All difficult questions you will have to submit to me as Governor-General, and the instructions you will
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INTERVIEW WITH SIR G. GIPPS.
receive will remove any odium that might be cast upon you in decisions on the validity of the land claims, and in other difficulties you can always consult me." I pleaded to be allowed to assist Captain Hobson, should I find his health recovering. To this he assented, only he strongly advised me to sign no official document or give any judgment for him, unless I had his previous resignation of office. He further informed me that the "Herald," sloop of war, should follow for the Bay of Islands in a few days, for it was absolutely necessary that the tribes on the coast to the southward should be visited to obtain their adhesion to the treaty. The violent quarrels between the Lieutenant-Governor and the Captain commanding the sloop of war, in which he had been on a previous occasion a passenger had, it was supposed, augmented the illness of the former, and occasioned the paralysis from which he now suffered. They were both naval officers of the same rank, and equally violent in temper, and it would be difficult to decide between them; but he could not on that account allow the public service to suffer.
I now, before sailing, dined with the Major-General and the Governor, which I had not done before. There was a very large party at Government House where a very unexpected and ludicrous
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adventure awaited me. Major A-----, my predecessor at Norfolk Island, with Mrs. A----- were of the party; and as I knew nobody there, and the aide-de-camp had neglected to introduce me to any of the ladies to hand to the dining-room when dinner was announced, I was left with Mrs. A----- and another gentleman and lady in the drawing-room, the rest having preceded us. I did not however hesitate to request permission to hand Mrs. A----- into the dining-room, which she granted on my pleading the claims of "Auld Lang Syne;- " for previous to my quarrel with her husband, we had, at Norfolk Island, been upon the best of terms, and her children had in some measure renewed the acquaintance, by frequently calling to me from overhead at the barrack, my room being under theirs. The youngest little girl used always to call herself my wife, and made so great an outcry when she first discovered me, that the rest of the children with their mamma came to the window to see what was the matter, and I was rewarded with a salam of recognition from the latter, which made me presume I had not entirely lost her favour.
As we proceeded to the dining-room, she inquired very eagerly whether it was true that I had been appointed Lieutenant-Governor of New
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Zealand, I told her it was not yet decided upon, and surveying myself complacently, I asked her in return if she thought I would do for a King of the Cannibal Islands. She replied, "You will do for anything you will undertake, I have no doubt that neither my husband nor the officers of his regiment will believe the report, but pray do tell me without joking is it true or not." On taking our seats on the opposite side of the table from the Governor, he seemed quite pleased at the adventure, and lost no time in taking wine with both of us. The husband, on the contrary, looked very indignantly at his wife, for we were soon the noisiest pair in the room. Our conversation turned principally on Norfolk Island, and what she was pleased to term the havoc I had made there. "You horrid creature," she said, "they tell me you have entirely destroyed my parterre and flower-plots below the Government House, and that you meditated the destruction of the serpentine streams and gravel walks, and in fact everything that was ornamental and which cost me so much trouble." And thus she continued to rail on half in earnest, half in jest: I asked her if she had received the arrow-root safe that I had brought back with me. It had been very badly packed in the harp case, for a part of the lid having become unscrewed, the contents
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were exposed, and it was about to be seized as my property, until I succeeded in hurrying it past by saying it belonged to her. She made no reply until I added, "That must have been a shocking bad harp of yours; they tell me it was always on the transit to Sydney wanting repairs." She then replied, laughing. "Well, I feel obliged to you for that, but still I think you destroyed my flower plots, you wretch, to annoy me." She appeared to be aware of everything that had taken place on the island after her departure, even to the detention of the whaler and his wife. I vowed if she continued to abuse me in that way I would not hand her in at the next dinner party. She coolly replied, "I begin to think that I have already honoured you too much!"
I experienced afterwards great kindness from the Major-General and his family, and it seemed that I had entirely recovered his good opinion. I also waited on Mrs. Hobson, who, with her governess and four young children, were going to join her husband, the Lieutenant-Governor of New Zealand. She appeared to be a very interesting person, and I was glad to hear before we sailed that a vessel which had recently arrived from the Bay of Islands brought more favourable accounts of her husband's health.
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The first detachment under Captain Lockhart had embarked some days before, and I found great difficulty in getting a passage for my horse or any accommodation for myself. The Commander of the "Buffalo," a rough seaman, was entirely governed by his first-lieutenant, and I never experienced so much incivility from any person as I did from this officer. The next senior officer pretended to condemn his conduct, in order to ingratiate himself in our good opinion, at the same time, I afterwards learnt that he was the mover and adviser of the conduct being pursued towards us. I was obliged to sleep between deck, wherever I could find a soft plank to put my bed upon. As it is seldom that men behave in this way without some cause or object, I found out after I had left the vessel that we were not blameless, but our fault proceeded from ignorance, and it would have been much more creditable to the first mate to have pointed out our error than to have pursued so low and degrading a line of conduct. The officers of the detachment which first embarked had adopted the plan of messing themselves, and as there was nothing particularly engaging in the master and commander's manner, I joined their mess, conceiving also that it would be affording Mrs. Hobson and her family more accommodation. We
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ARRIVAL AT NEW ZEALAND.
were none of us aware that the master and commander lost £1 per diem by my not dining at his table, and the gun-room, 10s. per diem for each of the officers, by their not joining them.
I was, however, determined to submit to any thing rather than involve myself in a row with them.
On arriving at the Bay of Islands we found the Lieutenant-Governor much better: he had recovered the use of his hands so as to be able if not to write, to affix his signature; but he was in great dread of having again to embark in the "Herald," which was daily expected from Sydney. Her commander, according to his statement, was anything but a gentleman, and now that he was in such a fair way of recovery it would retard his cure if not kill him. He begged most earnestly that I would take that duty for him, saying that the captain would behave quite differently towards me, if it were only to recover credit and show the world that he, Captain Hobson, was in the wrong. It was a grievous sacrifice for me to make, the troops not having yet landed or arrangements been made for their accommodation, but I could not prevail upon myself to refuse him. We could get no boats from the "Buffalo," nor did the commander seem to care to land us. I believe he derived some ad-
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A MENACED REVOLT.
vantages from issuing the men's provisions on board, but at length he decided, and, as if on purpose, selected a wet and uncomfortable day. I had scarcely time to select a site for the temporary encampment, when, after landing the men (principally unarmed) for the purpose of working as a fatigue party and to pitch their tents, I received an urgent request from the magistrates at Kororarika, to take the troops there as speedily as possible, as the natives were in a state of insurrection. I returned therefore on board with the men as speedily as possible in order to arm them, and the prompt arrival of several boats sent by English and American whaling vessels, enabled the detachments to pull for the menaced point, a distance of about fifteen miles. The baggage, landed with the tents, we were obliged to leave without a guard; until the commander of the "Buffalo" thought fit to land a party of marines to take charge of it. The cause of this sudden alarm, it was ascertained, had been that some native chiefs had refused to allow one of their woman to give evidence before the bench of magistrates, and they had forcibly taken her out of court. A panic was the result amongst the European inhabitants, and their issuing from the windows as well as doors of their habitations in the greatest state of alarm was not
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calculated to impress the natives with the most favourable idea of their valour.
The alacrity with which the whalers, particularly an American, supplied us with boats, enabled the whole detachment, from which neither an officer or man were absent, consisting of one field-officer, one captain, two subalterns, four sergeants, two drummers, and eighty rank and file to land simultaneously on the beach of Kororarika in a very short space of time. We were not however in review order. Many of the men, in the hurry of arming themselves, put their belts over their shirts, not being able to find their jackets, but this sudden appearance of the troops seemed to have confounded the natives as much as it gave confidence to the terror-stricken Europeans.
I ordered Lieutenant Smart of the mounted police corps, who had arrived before us from Sydney with a few men, to assemble the principal inhabitants, who had arms, and by making a detour to cut off the retreat of the natives to the Flag Staff Hill, some years afterwards celebrated as the place where the British received their first check from the chief Heki. The church which had been recently erected was also occupied by a few of my men and some armed inhabitants, in order to prevent the natives from passing by the rear of
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the town and cutting off our communication with our boats. I had also previously arranged that a sergeant's party which had been passed to the front should, on the bugle sounding to advance, take possession of some canoes drawn up across the beach, as offering a convenient place for a conference with the chiefs, but with orders not to fire a shot excepting in case of urgent necessity.
The natives offered no resistance, but without attending to the interpreter or magistrate, they eagerly inquired "What is it they have got," alluding to the bugle, "which speaks at such a distance?"
The chiefs were easily persuaded to permit the woman to return and give her evidence, and to express their regret at what had occurred. Before the party broke up, I took the opportunity of requesting the interpreter to shew them the position of Lieutenant Stuart's party, who had now arrived at his ground, and had the natives resisted, that retreat would have been impossible and their destruction certain. They seemed impressed with a very extraordinary idea of what soldiers were, conceiving them to be a peculiar race, distinct from other Europeans, and in combat not to be overcome; and it was by keeping up this prestige that so small a force was enabled
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for the four years that I remained in the country to keep them in subjection. They had also an idea that every military man down to the private soldier ranked as a chief, and as none of the latter would, in these days, allow another of less rank than himself to touch his head, the officers used to watch with some anxiety the men playing and wrestling with them; but the high rank the soldier was supposed to possess, occasioned their somewhat practical jokes to be received with great good humour.
Captain Hobson, the Lieutenant-Governor had a good deal distinguished himself by the capture of some pirates in the Mediterranean; and the great personal risk he there incurred, he was afterwards employed with a sloop of war, the "Rattlesnake," on the coast of New Zealand, and he first attracted notice by his report on that colony to the Government, and which occasioned his being appointed consul or some such other ridiculous title incompatible with the exercise of his duty as governor, and it was some dispute with the Captain of the "Herald," about the salutes he was to receive and the number of guns, that occasioned their disagreement. He was fluent of speech and wrote a good despatch, and was not without abilities, but had not the necessary grasp of thought
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to seize the main point of a question; in other words, to separate the grain from the chaff. He was very jealous of his authority and obstinate, particularly as disease made encroachments on his frame and intellect, which had become before his death gradually impaired. He was of social habits, and had the faculty of making private friends and also of creating public enemies. On our arrival he was living at Paihia. This was particularly inconvenient as it placed him at a distance from the Government offices and the troops, but with some difficulty I persuaded him to remove to the opposite side of the bay. The village of Kororarika had already been settled by Europeans, and there was good anchorage for vessels of a large size opposite the town; but unfortunately some differences had arisen between him and the inhabitants, regarding particular sites he wished to be given up for the erection of public buildings; although with a little more conciliation the difficulty might I think have been adjusted. As it was, it ended in his selecting a site for the principal town five miles up the harbour, which he called Russell, in honour of the minister, and had he succeeded in prevailing upon people to build, this would materially have injured the trade and prosperity of Kororarika.
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THE MOUNTED POLICE.
I cannot conceive what occasioned Captain Hobson to send for the body of mounted police from Sydney, which had preceded us. We found the horses nearly starved. No roads had been established in the country, and even the communication between Kororarika and the camp was an impassable swamp. They were about as much required as a body of horse-marines. Even when they were removed to the Thames and Auckland, I never saw them more usefully employed than in driving from the bush Mrs. Hobson's cows, when these strayed too far away.
In my report to the Major-General, on our arrival, I mentioned that the magistrates had called upon me for military aid, and for the first week or two the men had some very arduous duties to perform. Some privations were experienced from the want of boats necessary to convey the reliefs of guards to Paihia, and I regretted to say that the assistance derived from H. M. store-ship "Buffalo" was not of a nature to lessen the inconvenience.
The site I selected for the encampment had the advantage of being sheltered from the prevailing winds. There was plenty of fire-wood at hand as well as excellent water. I authorised the Commissariat officer to purchase a wooden building close to the encampment, then occupied by a European, in which the commissariat stores, with
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the exception of some buried butts of rum, might be well housed and kept dry. Our encampment was also near the proposed site of the Lieutenant-Governor's residence, and that of the public offices. The Commissariat officer, up to the period of my departure for the south, had not been able to purchase a boat which was much wanted.
Having got a tribe of natives of the neighbourhood to build a hut for a mess-house, one end of which was of mud, so as to enable us to have a fire-place, and the other end partitioned off as a store, I was prepared, on the arrival of the 'Hazard,' to embark on board that vessel, and visit the Southern Islands. I was supplied with an interpreter, the son of the principal missionary, Mr. Williams. Ample instructions were also given me, with copies of those from Lord Normanby, the Secretary of State, to Captain Hobson, and a copy of the treaty of Waitanghi.
The causes which induced me to undertake this charge, I reported to the Major-General commanding at Sydney.
"On board H. M. ship 'Herald,'
"Coromandel Harbour, May 1, 1840.
"At the earnest request of Captain Hobson, the Lieutenant-Governor of this colony, I have been induced to embark on board H. M. S.
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LETTER TO SIR M. O'CONNELL.
'Herald,' for the purpose of continuing and superintending that part of his Excellency's instructions which relate to the acquisition of the sovereignty of the island of New Zealand, namely Stewart's Island, Middle Island, (marked in the charts, Tavia Poonamoo) and such parts of the Northern Island as may not already have been ceded to the Queen.
"This was at a period when the troops had scarcely time to settle themselves in their encampment, and the erection of the barracks from the materials of the wooden store-house, mentioned in my last as intended to be put up for the accommodation of part of the force, had not yet been commenced. I felt and expressed great reluctance to enter upon other duties apart from those of my profession, yet the position in which I stand, with Captain Hobson's continued indisposition, the necessity which existed for the immediate completion of the duties now imposed upon me and which, if not executed, might occasion much embarrassment to the Government; forced me to acquiesce in his proposal, and having done so, I hope it will meet with your approval,
"I have the honour to be, &c,
"Major, 80th Regiment.
"Sir M. O'Connell, K, C. B. &c."