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1-013 (Text)

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On January, Governor Phillip having sufficiently explored Port Jackson, and found it in all respects highly calculated to receive such a settlement as he was appointed to establish, returned to Botany Bay. On his arrival there, the reports made to him, both of the ground which the people were clearing, and of the upper parts of the Bay, which in this interval had been more particularly examined, were in the greatest degree unfavourable. It was impossible after this to hesitate concerning the choice of a situation; and orders were accordingly issued for the removal of the whole fleet to Port Jackson.
That Botany Bay should have appeared to Captain Cook in a more advantageous light than to Governor Phillip, is not by any means extraordinary. Their objects were very different; the one required only shelter and refreshment for a small vessel, and during but a short time: the other had great numbers to provide for, and was necessitated to find a place wherein ships of very considerable burthen might approach the shore with ease, and lie at all times in perfect security. The appearance of the place is picturesque and pleasing, and the ample harvest it afforded, of botanical acquisitions, made it interesting to the philosophical gentlemen engaged in that expedition; but something more essential than beauty of appearance, and more necessary than philosophical riches, must be sought in a place where the permanent residence of multitudes is to be established.  
Preparations for a general removal were now made with all convenient expedition: but on the morning of the 24th the greatest astonishment was spread throughout the fleet by the appearance of two ships, under French colours. In this remote region visitors from Europe were very little expected, and their arrival, while the cause of it remained unknown, produced in some minds a temporary apprehension, accompanied by a multiplicity of conjectures, many of them sufficiently ridiculous. Governor Phillip was the first to recollect that two ships had been sent out some time before from France for the purpose of discovery, and rightly concluded these to be the same. But as the opposition of the wind, and a strong current prevented them at present from working into the harbour, and even drove them out of sight again to the south, he did not think proper to delay his departure for the sake of making further enquiry.
On January 25 therefore, seven days after the arrival of the Supply. Governor Phillip quitted Botany Bay in the same ship, and sailed to Port Jackson. The rest of the fleet, under convoy of the Sirius, was ordered to follow, as soon as the abatement of the wind, which then blew a strong gale, should facilitate its working out of the Bay. The Supply was scarcely out of sight when the French ships again appeared off the mouth of the harbour, and a boat was immediately sent to them, with offers of every kind of information and assistance their situation could require. It was now learnt that these were, as the Governor had supposed, the Boussole and the Astrolabe, on a voyage of discovery, under the conduct of Monsieur La Perouse.
On the 26th, the transports and store ships, attended by the Sirius, finally evacuated Botany Bay; and in a very short time they were all assembled in Sydney Cove, the place now destined for their port, and for the reception of the new settlement. .
This debarkation was now made at Sydney Cove. and the work of clearing the ground for the encampment, as well as fair the storehouses and other buildings, was begun without loss of time. But the labour which attended this necessary operation was greater than can easily be imagined by those who were not spectators of it. The coast, as well as the neighbouring country in general, is covered with wood; and though in this spot the trees stood more apart, and were less incumbered with underwood than in many other places, yet their magnitude was such as to render not only the felling, but the removal of them afterwards, a task of no small difficulty. By the habitual indolence of the convicts, and the want of proper overseers to keep them to their duty, their labour was rendered less efficient than it might have been.
In the evening of the 26th the colours were displayed on shore, and the Governor, with several of his principal officers and others, assembled round the flagstaff, drank the king's health, and success to the settlement, with all that display of form which on such occasions is esteemed propitious, because it enlivens the spirits, and fills the imagination with pleasing presages. From this time to the end of the first week in February all was hurry and exertion.  They who gave orders and they who received them were equally occupied; nor is it easy to conceive a busier scene than this part of the coast exhibited during the continuance of these first efforts towards establishment.
The plan of the encampment was quickly formed, and places were marked out for every different purpose, so as to introduce, as much as possible, strict order and regularity. The materials and framework to construct a slight temporary habitations for the Governor, had been brought out from England ready formed:
these were landed and put together with as much expedition as the circumstances would, allow. Hospital tents were also without delay erected, for which there was soon but too much occasion. In the passage from the Cape there had been but little sickness, nor had many died even among the convicts; but soon after landing, a dysentery prevailed, which in several instances proved fatal, and the scurvy began to rage with a virulence which kept the hospital tents generally supplied with patients. For those afflicted with this disorder, the advantage of fish or other fresh provisions could but rarely he procured; nor were esculent vegetables often obtained in sufficient plenty to produce any material alleviation of the complaint. In the dysentery, the red gum of the tree which principally abounds on this coast, was found a very powerful remedy. The yellow gum has been discovered to possess the same property, but in an inferior degree.  
7 February 1788 was the memorable day which established a regular form of Government on the coast of New South Wales. For obvious reasons, all possible solemnity was given to the proceedings necessary on this occasion. On a space previously cleared, the whole colony was assembled; the military drawn up, and under arms; the convicts stationed apart; and near the person of the Governor, those who were to hold the principal offices under him. The Royal Commission was then read by Mr. D. Collins, the Judge Advocate. By this instrument Arthur Phillip was constituted and appointed Captain General and Governor in Chief in and over the territory, called New South Wales; extending from the northern cape, or extremity of the coast, called Cape York, in the latitude of ten degrees, thirty-seven minutes south, to the southern extremity of the said territory of New South Wales, or South Cape, in the latitude of forty-three degrees, thirty-nine minutes south, and of all the country inland to the westward, as far as the one hundred and thirty-fifth degree of cast longitude, reckoning from the meridian of Greenwich, including all the islands adjacent in the Pacific Ocean, within the latitudes aforesaid of 10 d. 37 m. south, and 43 d. 39 m. south, and of all towns, garrisons, castles, forts, and all other fortifications, or other military works which may be hereafter erected upon the said territory, or any of the said islands.
The act of Parliament establishing the courts of judicature was next read; and lastly, the patents under the great seal, empowering the proper persons to convene and hold those courts whenever the exigency should require. The Office of Lieutenant Governor was conferred on Major Roan, of the Marines. A triple discharge of musquetry concluded this part of the ceremony; after which Governor Phillip advanced, and addressing first the private soldiers, thanked them for their steady good conduct on every occasion: an honour which was repeated to them in the next general orders.  
He then turned to the convicts, and distinctly explained to them the nature of their present situation. The greater part, he bade them recollect, had already forfeited their lives to the justice of their country: yet, by the lenity of its laws, they were now so placed that, by industry and good behaviour, they might in time regain the advantages and estimation in society of which they had deprived themselves. They not only had every encouragement to make that effort, but were removed almost entirely from every temptation to guilt. There was little in this infant community which one man could plunder from another, and any dishonest attempts in so small a society would almost infallibly be discovered. To persons detected in such crimes, he could not promise any mercy; nor indeed to any who, under their circumstances, should presume to offend against the peace and good order of the settlement. What mercy could do for them they had already experienced; nor could any good be now expected from those whom neither past warnings, nor the peculiarities of their present situation could preserve from guilt. Against offenders, therefore, the rigour of the law would certainly be put in force: while they whose behaviour should in any degree promise reformation, might always depend upon encouragement fully proportioned to their deserts.
He particularly noticed the illegal intercourse between the sexes as an offence which encouraged a general profligacy of manners, and was in several ways injurious to society. To prevent this, he strongly recommended marriage, and promised every kind of countenance and assistance to those who, by entering into that state, should manifest their willingness to conform to the laws of morality and religion. Governor Phillip concluded his address, by declaring his earnest desire so promote the happiness of all who were under his government, and to render the settlement in New. South Wales advantageous and honourable to his country.
This speech, which was received with universal acclamations, terminated the ceremonial peculiar to the day. Nor was it altogether without its proper effect:
for we are informed, that in the course of the ensuing week fourteen marriages took place among the convicts. The assembly was now dispersed, and the Governor proceeded to review the troops on the ground cleared for a parade:
afterwhich, he gave a dinner to the officers, and the first evening of his government was concluded propitiously, in good order and innocent festivity, amidst the repetition of wishes for its prosperity.

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