CHAPTER XV. VOYAGE FROM WELLINGTON TO SYDNEY.
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VOYAGE FROM WELLINGTON TO SYDNEY.
ON the 3rd of November I left Wellington in a schooner, the smallest I had, until then, sailed in on a long voyage, being only 93 tons burthen. The wind being adverse we had some difficulty in getting out of Cook's Straits. During the remainder of the voyage we unfortunately experienced many such winds; and at last one of the most severe gales I ever beheld, so furious indeed that we were compelled to heave to for twenty-four hours. Though small, most admirably did the little schooner perform her part. So small and so peculiarly constructed was she, that the act of walking during one entire week was an impossibility. For seven complete days in succession I was sea-sick-a thing most unusual with me. To describe all the scenes of the cuddy-table when dining; all that we endured in being pent up, cribbed, and confined, ten times worse than pigs in a sty; the impossibility of walking; the remarkable personages on board--one of the number being a Yankee who had been all over the world as actor, equestrian, singer, comedian, tragedian, wit, humourist--tended not a little to make this one of the most remarkable voyages
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I ever performed; and I think if I were to live to the year 1958 (wonderful and rapid as are the changes of this transitory world) a more original crew, a more eccentric class of passengers, a more extraordinary captain, I could never meet in any latitude of the world. To describe all that I endured and saw would require a volume instead of a page; suffice it to say, that I must quit this never-to-be-forgotten voyage with the remark, that after the expiration of eighteen days we made Sydney Heads, and for the second time I entered perhaps the finest harbour in the world, on the 21st of November.
In the year 1851 I wrote a long account of Sydney in my "Tramp to the Diggings," but some changes of a very marked kind having taken place since then, to some of these I shall briefly allude; the new university, not yet finished, being one of them. I went over it in its unfinished state, and I am sorry to say that I learned but little. The building, however, amply repaid me for my trouble. The excellent manner in which its details are executed, its stone chiselled, the mortar placed between them, all testify to the fact that the workmen, builders, and architect have given a lesson to the Melbournites that places the town of Sydney far ahead of the modern wonder of the world. Nothing can be finer in the old country than the hall belonging to this university. From what I could learn, the only classes taught at the university at present are classics, mathematics, chemistry, and physics.
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There are four affiliated colleges in connexion with it, viz., the Roman Catholic, the Wesleyan, the Episcopalian, and the Presbyterian. All the students of these incorporated or affiliated colleges, as they are termed, are compelled to attend certain courses at the university The university and its affiliated colleges are maintained from funds derived conjointly from the Government and private subscriptions. One of the best popular educational establishments is the National School, which professes to be an improvement upon the National System of Ireland, it being the opinion of one long a resident in Sydney, that it was decidedly Roman Catholic in its tendencies. All the various sects and denominations are alike eligible for instruction within its walls. They have no prayers, however, and only read two books in the Old Testament, and two of the Evangelists in the New. I went over the establishment, and was much pleased with what I saw. The head master informed me that some of the poor people of the country, like the same class in England, were not fully alive to the many advantages of education to a young and rising colony. A few of the first-class people attend this popular school in about the same proportion as the very poorest. Some of the parents, from extreme poverty, are not compelled to pay for their children: these form the great exception.
There are three or four denominational schools in Sydney, which may be said to be rivals to this excellent establishment for secular education. I went to the Episcopal denominational school, where I found a comparatively spare attendance, with a rather slovenly teacher, wanting the ala-
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crity, tact, and decision which are marked features in the teachers of the National School. I found the boys worse clad than those in the National; rents and dirty garments being very readily perceptible. Here, however, let it be spoken in their favour, that they read the whole Bible, commenced their educational duties with prayer, and ended with the same. The Episcopalian teacher, like the National, admits all sects and different classes of society. Those who do not like the Episcopalian form of worship and its religious teachings, can, if they choose, absent themselves during these exercises. I paid a visit also to the Wesleyan denominational school, where I found the boys but few in attendance, and very dirty into the bargain. This school, like the Episcopalians, admitted all sects and classes of the community, and in the same manner allowed those who disapproved of the form of worship, to absent themselves from the particular form of prayers and various scriptural readings in use. At this school they began their educational teachings with prayer, and ended with singing.
At one of the denominational schools I learnt that the boys of Sydney were the most unruly young rogues to be found in the world. The rapid changes that had taken place in the pastoral, agricultural, and commercial pursuits of the colony, from adversity to prosperity, and vice versa, had much affected the school, and very readily accounted for the sparsity of attendance.
In conversing with one of the schoolmasters relative to the social habits of the people, he told me the following: He accounted tor the laziness of the people on the ground of their not getting
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land on their first arrival; their hopes and expectations running high before landing, many of them having emigrated with a view of becoming proprietors of the soil. Finding themselves thus grievously disappointed, they had recourse to liquor, and many had contracted the bad habit of drinking as a solace for the disappointment they had endured; and thus it is that a bad and selfish government is responsible for the immorality of the community.
From what I could gather, this land grievance is one of the great drawbacks to the prosperity of New South Wales. One of the teachers was of opinion that if drunkenness were not put down it would in a little time be the means of separating the colony of New South Wales from the mother country.
As a proof of the laziness of the people of the colony, a gentleman in a high position, who had been a resident for twenty years, assured me that from Sydney to Paramatta, a distance of some sixteen or twenty miles, not one acre of land in a thousand was in a state of cultivation, and that similar proofs of the same miserable indolence might be seen from Paramatta to Windsor, along a line of road many miles in length.
Another person, speaking of the immorality arising from drunkenness, remarked, "I dare not tell aloud in the legislature of the country the many vile and revolting practices that I have witnessed in this colony." I rode in an omnibus towards Paddington, to see the many and great improvements that had taken place in that locality, the greater part of which, though now occupied with respectable houses, was six or seven years
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ago, the property of the country, and covered with the vegetation of the Australian bush. A very fine exchange had been built since my visit in 1851, also a large hall, and a slender edifice in Hyde Park, for the purpose of ventilating the sewage of the town. I paid a visit to the Museum, when I fell in with a new species of shark, which had been discovered since my last visit, in the neighbouring seas of Port Jackson; the contents of the brute's stomach may be enumerated, as indicative of the voracious and omnivorous appetite and capacious stomach of the marine monster; they were as follow: eight legs of mutton, half a ham, a piece of a pig, the head and shoulders of a dog, three cwt. of horseflesh, a horse-shoe, a ship's scraper, and a small bag; his girth was 9 feet, and his length 13 feet. In the Gulf of Carpentaria it is supposed that there are sharks as large again. Another rather curious addition was a large eel, that had stopped up the water-pipes in George Street. When in the Museum I had the pleasure of an interview with the naturalist, Mr, Angas, who is the discoverer of the bird Moruk. Among the newly discovered fossils were the Zygomaturus trilobus, and the Diprotodon, from Darling Downs. The museum is well stocked with the birds and marsupial animals of the country. The birds are all foreign to the British fauna, except one, and that is very doubtful, viz., a snipe; I have seen it, and told some of the bird-stuffers and naturalists to obtain one from England, and settle the question.
One of the most astonishing things to be met with in the world is the notes and various intonations of the Australian birds. The talented author
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of "Never too Late to Mend," whose senses are keenly alive to most things out of the common walks of life, has been so deeply struck with their wonderful powers of imitation, song, and quality of tone, that all the various inflections of their surpassing voices have been reduced to language, and imitated in a regularly written dialect. The habits of some of these birds are as remarkable as their voices. One of the best naturalists of the colony, a clergyman, informed me that a little bird, Melithriptes, frequently amused itself with pecking at the hairs of a horse's tail; and upon one occasion, whilst he was preaching, entered the church, lit on his head, and began pecking away at the hairs of his head.
The Botanic Garden of Sydney is a remarkable place, well worth the attention of the traveller, the lover of fine scenery, and, above all, to the botanist. Here the wonderful trees of Australia, shrubs and plants, as well as almost all the vegetable varieties of every other part of the world, are exhibited to the eye of the tourist. Mr. Moore, the director, was out exploring, but I was no stranger to its many advantages and beauties, from having visited it some dozen or more times in the year 1851. I fell in with a very intelligent man, and requested him to point out anything remarkable that they had obtained since that period. He remarked that they had a tree, the Eucalyptus citriodorus, which he kindly showed me; this tree, which is a native of the Australian forest, gives out a most exquisite odour, and as a new article of commerce is now employed in scenting clothes or hair, as well as for a general perfume. He showed me another tree, newly discovered in the
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Moreton Pay district, named the Yellow wood. This was considered by cabinet-makers to possess all those qualities which rendered it, perhaps, the most elegant and beautiful of woods hitherto discovered for the various articles of furniture.
I had an interview with the founder of the city mission, which event took place some seven years ago. He was a temperance lecturer besides. He informed me that the Roman Catholics were extending, and that he believed them to he the most assiduous and persevering religionists, and that they were proselytizing the people in a manner that threatened to make some inroads on the Protestantism of the colony, and remarked, "I don't admire their doctrine, but I cannot help admiring their determined perseverance." If, as I was informed, the present governor of the colony patronized the Roman Catholics by attending one of their bazaars, while he neglected a Protestant one, no act could he more reprehensible. A temperance lecturer, a most excellent and worthy man, was much annoyed by the Roman Catholics when he first began to harangue the people upon their intemperate habits; he was opposed, jostled, and annoyed in every imaginable manner by these unreasonable religionists, when lecturing one evening in the streets of Sydney; but, like a good soldier of the cross, he maintained his ground in spite of their venomous proceedings.
The elective franchise in Sydney is a ten-pound renter, --a man living in hired apartments, or who earns one pound a week.