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1-015 (Text)

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Speaker:
author,male,Tench, Watkin,31 addressee
ns1:discourse_type
Report
Word Count :
2619
Plaint Text :
ns1:register
Public Written
ns1:texttype
Reports
ns1:localityName
http://dbpedia.org/resource/New_South_Wales
Created:
1789
Identifier
1-015
Source
Tench, 1789
pages
56-148
Document metadata
Extent:
15255
Identifier
1-015-plain.txt
Title
1-015#Text
Type
Text

1-015-plain.txt — 14 KB

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These people seemed at a loss to know (probably from our want of beards) of what sex we were, which having understood, they burst into the most immoderate fits of laughter, talking to each other at the same time with such rapidity and vociferation as I had never before heard. After nearly an hour's conversation by signs and gestures, they repeated several times the word whurra, which signifies, begone, and walked away from us to the head of the Bay. 
 The natives being departed, we set out to observe the country, which, on inspection, rather disappointed our hopes, being invariably sandy and unpromising for the purposes of cultivation, though the trees and grass flourish in great luxuriancy. Close to us was the spring at which Mr. Cook watered, but we did not think the water very excellent, nor did it run freely. In the evening we returned on board, not greatly pleased with the latter part of our discoveries, as it indicated an increase of those difficulties, which before seemed sufficiently numerous. 
Between this and our departure we had several more interviews with the natives, which ended in so friendly a manner, that we began to entertain strong hopes of bringing about a connection with them. Our first object was to win their affections, and our next to convince them of the superiority we possessed: for without the latter, the former we knew would be of little importance. An officer one day prevailed on one of them to place a target, made of bark, against a tree, which he fired at with a pistol, at the distance of some paces. The Indians, though terrified at the report, did not run away, but their astonishment exceeded their alarm, on looking at the shield which the ball had perforated. As this produced a little shyness, the officer, to dissipate their fears and remove their jealousy, whistled the air of Malbrooke, which they appeared highly charmed with, and imitated him with equal pleasure and readiness. I cannot help remarking here, what I was afterwards told by Monsieur De Perrouse, that the natives of California, and throughout all the islands of the Pacific Ocean, and in short wherever he had been, seemed equally touched and delighted with this little plaintive air.  CHAPTER IX.
The taking Possession of Port Jackson. With the Disembarkation of the Marines and Convicts.
January, 1788.
Our passage to Port Jackson took up but few hours, and those were spent far from unpleasantly. The evening was bright, and the prospect before us such as might justify sanguine expectation. Having passed between the capes which form its entrance, we found ourselves in a port superior, in extent and excellency, to all we had seen before. We continued to run up the harbour about four miles, in a westerly direction, enjoying the luxuriant prospect of its shores, covered with trees to the water's edge, among which many of the Indians were frequently seen, till we arrived at a small snug cove on the southern side, on whose banks the plan of our operations was destined to commence.  
The landing of a part of the marines and convicts took place the next day, and on the following, the remainder was disembarked. Business now sat on every brow, and the scene, to an indifferent spectator, at leisure to contemplate it, would have been highly picturesque and amusing. In one place, a party cutting down the woods; a second, setting up a blacksmith's forge; a third, dragging along a load of stones or provisions; here an officer pitching his marquee, with a detachment of troops parading on one side of him, and a cook's fire blazing up on the other. Through the unwearied diligence of those at the head of the different departments, regularity was, however, soon introduced, and, as far as the unsettled state of matters would allow, confusion gave place to system. 
Into the head of the cove, on which our establishment is fixed, runs a small stream of fresh water, which serves to divide the adjacent country to a little distance, in the direction of north and south. On the eastern side of this rivulet the Governor fixed his place of residence, with a large body of convicts encamped near him; and on the western side was disposed the remaining part of these people, near the marine encampment. From this last two guards, consisting of two subalterns, as many serjeants, four corporals, two drummers, and forty- two private men, under the orders of a Captain of the day, to whom all reports were made, daily mounted for the public security, with such directions to use force, in case of necessity, as left no room for those who were the object of the order, but to remain peaceable, or perish by the bayonet.  
As the straggling of the convicts was not only a desertion from the public labour, but might be attended with ill consequences to the settlement, in case of their meeting the natives, every care was taken to prevent it. The Provost Martial with his men was ordered to patrole the country around, and the convicts informed, that the severest punishment would be inflicted on transgressors. In spite, however, of all our precautions, they soon found the road to Botany Bay, in visits to the French, who would gladly have dispensed with their company.  
But as severity alone was known to be inadequate at once to chastize and reform, no opportunity was omitted to assure the convicts, that by their good behaviour and submissive deportment, every claim to present distinction and future favour was to be earned. That this caution was not attended with all the good effects which were hoped from it, I have only to lament; that it operated in some cases is indisputable; nor will a candid and humane mind fail to consider and allow for the situation these unfortunate beings so peculiarly stood in. While they were on board ship, the two sexes had been kept most rigorously apart; but, when landed, their separation became impracticable, and would have been, perhaps, wrong. Licentiousness was the unavoidable consequence, and their old habits of depravity were beginning to recur. What was to be attempted? To prevent their intercourse was impossible; and to palliate its evils only remained. Marriage was recommended, and such advantages held out to those who aimed at reformation, as have greatly contributed to the tranquillity of the settlement.  
On the Sunday after our landing divine service was performed under a great tree, by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, Chaplain of the Settlement, in the presence of the troops and convicts, whose behaviour on the occasion was equally regular and attentive. In the course of our passage this had been repeated every Sunday, while the ships were in port; and in addition to it, Mr. Johnson had furnished them with books, at once tending to promote instruction and piety. 
The Indians for a little while after our arrival paid us frequent visits, but in a few days they were observed to be more shy of our company. From what cause their distaste: arose we never could trace, as we had made it our study, on these occasions, to treat them with kindness, and load them with presents.  No quarrel had happened, and we had flattered ourselves, from Governor Phillip's first reception among them, that such a connection might be established as would tend to the interest of both parties. It seems, that on that occasion, they not only received our people with great cordiality, but so far acknowledged their authority as to submit, that a boundary, during their first interview, might be drawn on the sand, which they attempted not to infringe, and appeared to be satisfied with. 

 CHAPTER X.
The reading of the Commissions, and taking Possession of the Settlement, in form. With an Account of the Courts of Law, and Mode of administering Public Justice in this Country.
February,1788.
Owing to the multiplicity of pressing business necessary to be performed immediately after landing, it was found impossible to read the public commissions and take possession of the colony in form, until the 7th of February. On that day all the officers of guard took post in the marine battalion, which was drawn up, and marched off the parade with music playing, and colours flying, to an adjoining ground, which had been cleared for the occasion, whereon the convicts were assembled to hear His Majesty's commission read, appointing his Excellency Arthur Phillip, Esq. Governor and Captain General in and over the territory of New South Wales, and its dependencies; together with the Act of Parliament for establishing trials by law within the same; and the patents under the Great Seal of Great Britain, for holding the civil and criminal courts of judicature, by which all cases of life and death, as well as matters of property, were to be decided. When the Judge Advocate had finished reading, his Excellency addressed himself to the convicts in a pointed and judicious speech, informing them of his future intentions, which were, invariably to cherish and render happy those who shewed a disposition to amendment; and to let the rigour of the law take its course against such as might dare to transgress the bounds prescribed. At the close three vollies were fired in honour of the occasion, and the battalion marched back to their parade, where they were reviewed by the Governor, who was received with all the honours due to his rank. His Excellency was afterwards pleased to thank them, in public orders, for their behaviour from the time of their embarkation; and to ask the officers to partake of a cold collation atwhich it is scarce necessary to observe, that many loyal and public toasts were drank in commemoration of the day.  
In the Governor's commission, the extent of this authority is defined to reach from the latitude of 43° 49' south, to the latitude of 10° 37' south, being the northern and southern extremities of the continent of New Holland. It commences again at 135th degree of longitude east of Greenwich, and, proceeding in an easterly direction, includes all islands within the limits of the above specified latitudes in the Pacific Ocean. By this partition it may be fairly presumed, that every source of future litigation between the Dutch and us will be for ever cut off, as the discoveries of English navigators alone are comprized in this territory. 
Nor have Government been more backward in arming Mr. Phillip with plenitude of power, than extent of dominion. No mention is made of a Council to be appointed, so that he is left to act entirely from his own judgment. And as no stated time of assembling the Courts of justice is pointed out, similar to the assizes and gaol deliveries of England, the duration of imprisonment is altogether in his hands. The power of summoning General Courts Martial to meet he is also invested with. but the insertion in the marine mutiny act, of a smaller number of officers than thirteen being able to compose such a tribunal, has been neglected: so that a Military court, should detachments be made from headquarters, or sickness prevail, may not always be found practicable to be obtained, unless the number of officers, at present in the Settlement, shall be increased.  
Should the Governor see cause, he is enabled to grant pardons to offenders convicted, "in all cases whatever, treason and wilful murder excepted," and even in these, has authority to stay the execution of the law, until the King's pleasure shall be signified. In case of the Governor's death, the Lieutenant Governor takes his place; and on his demise, the senior officer on the spot is authorised to assume the reins of power. 
 Notwithstanding the promises made on one side, and the forbearance shewn on the other, joined to the impending rod of justice, it was with infinite regret that every one saw, in four days afterwards, the necessity of assembling a Criminal Court, which was accordingly convened by warrant from the Governor, and consisted of the judge Advocate, who presided, three naval, and three marine officers. 
As the constitution of this court is altogether new in the British annals, I hope my reader will not think me prolix in the description I am about to give of it. The number of members, including the judge Advocate, is limited, by Act of Parliament, to seven, who are expressly ordered to be officers, either of His Majesty's sea or land forces. The court being met, completely arrayed and armed as at a military tribunal, the Judge Advocate proceeds to administer the usual oaths taken by jurymen in England to each member; one of whom afterwards swears him in a like manner. This ceremony being adjusted, the crime laid to the prisoner's charge is read to him, and the question of Guilty, or Not guilty, put. No law officer on the side of the crown being appointed, (for I presume the head of the court ought hardly to consider himself in that light, notwithstanding the title he bears) to prosecute the criminal is left entirely to the party, at whose suit he is tried. All the witnesses are examined on oath, and the decision is directed to be given according to the laws of England, "or as nearly as may be, allowing for the circumstances and situation of the settlement," by a majority of votes, beginning with the youngest member, and ending with the president of the court. In cases, however, of a capital nature, no verdict can be given, unless five, at least, of the seven members present concur therein. The evidence on both sides being finished, and the prisoner's defence heard, the court is cleared, and, on the judgement being settled, is thrown open again, and sentence pronounced. During the time the court sits, the place in which it is assembled is directed to be surrounded by a guard under arms, and admission to every one who may choose to enter it, granted. Of late, however, our colonists are supposed to be in such a train of subordination, as to make the presence of so large a military force unnecessary; and two centinels, in addition to the Provost Martial, are considered as sufficient.  
It would be as needless, as impertinent, to anticipate the reflections which will arise in reading the above account, wherein a regard to accuracy only has been consulted. By comparing it with the mode of administering justice in the English courts of law, it will be found to differ in many points very essentially. And if we turn our eyes to the usage of military tribunals, it no less departs from the customs observed in them. Let not the novelty of it, however, prejudice any one so far as to dispute its efficacy, and the necessity of the case which gave it birth. 
The court, whose meeting is already spoken of, proceeded to the trial of three convicts, one of whom was convicted of having struck a marine with a cooper's adze, and otherwise behaving in a very riotous and scandalous manner, for which he was sentenced to receive one hundred and fifty lashes, being a smaller punishment than a soldier in a like case would have suffered from the judgement of a court martial. A second, for having committed a petty theft, was sent to a small barren island, and kept there on bread and water only, for a week. And the third was sentenced to receive fifty lashes, but was recommended by the court to the Governor, and forgiven.  
Hitherto, however, 

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