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2-117 (Raw)

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author,male,Batman, John,34 addressee,male
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Official Correspondence
Hale, 1950
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Hobart Town, 25th June, 1835.
Sir, - I have the honour of reporting to your Excellency for the information of His Majesty's Government the result of an expedition, undertaken at the expense and in conjunction with several gentlemen, inhabitants of Van Diemen's Land, to Port Phillip, on the south-western point of New Holland, for the purpose of forming an extensive pastoral establishment, and combining therewith the civilisation of the native tribes who are living in that part of the country.
It occurred to myself and some of the gentlemen who are associated with me, that inasmuch as the Sydney natives who were living with me had become well acquainted with the English language and manners, and had acquired habits of industry and agricultural pursuits, they might therefore be considered partially civilised; and as the available lands in this colony were occupied by flocks of sheep, and fully stocked, it would be a favourable opportunity of opening a direct friendly intercourse with the tribes in the neighbourhood of Port Phillip, and by obtaining from them a grant of a portion of that territory upon equitable principles, not only might the resources of this colony be considerably extended, but the object of civilisation be established, and which in process of those would lead to the civilisation of a large portion of the aborigines of that extensive country. [389]
In pursuance of arrangements based upon these principles I proceeded on the 12th day of May, 1835, in a vessel from Launceston, accompanied by seven Sydney natives, and proceeded to Port Phillip, on the south-western extremity of New Holland, where I landed on the 26th day of May.
On the evening of our arrival at Port Phillip, we saw the native fires at a distance of about five miles; I then made my arrangements for the purpose of opening an interview with the natives by means of those under my charge. I equipped them in their native dress, and early in the morning we landed. I desired the natives to proceed unarmed, and they preceded me a few hundred yards. When we had advanced within half-a-mile we saw the native huts and smoke. My natives then proceeded quietly up to the huts, expecting that we should find the tribe asleep, but when they had got to the huts it appeared that the natives had fled a few hours previously, leaving behind them some of their buckets and other articles.
My natives followed the track, which appeared to have been very circuitous, and after we had proceeded about ten miles we at length saw a tribe consisting of twenty women and twenty-four children.
My natives then made to them some of their friendly signals, which it appeared were understood, and in the course of a few minutes my natives joined the tribe, and after remaining with them as I judged sufficient length of time to conciliate them and explain my friendly disposition, I advanced alone and joined them, and was introduced to them by my natives, two of whom spoke nearly the same language, and so as to be perfectly intelligible to them.
After the strongest assurances on my part of my sincerity and friendly disposition, and that no harm would be done to them, they proceeded to the huts, where I gave them a pair of blankets each, tomahawks, knives, scissors, looking-glasses; and I affixed, round the neck of each woman and child, a necklace. [390]
As soon as I had distributed the presents, they were informed by the interpreters that they might depart and join their friends, and I left them and proceeded on board the vessel. They appeared, by my conduct towards them, highly gratified and excited, and showed by their manner that the fullest confidence existed.
Some conversation then took place between my natives and the tribe. The object of my visit and intentions were then explained to them, and the chiefs then pressed me to proceed with them to see their wives and children, which is one of the strongest demonstrations of peace and confidence. Upon my assenting to this request, the chiefs then inquired of my interpreters whether I would allow them to take up their implements of war, which I immediately assented to, and the principal chief then gave me his best spear to carry, end I in return gave him my gun.
We then proceeded towards the huts, and when a short distance from them, the chief called out to the women not to be alarmed, and I was then introduced to the whole tribe, consisting of upwards of twenty men; containing, altogether, fifty-five men, women, and children.
I joined this tribe about twelve o'clock, and staid with them until about twelve o'clock the next day, during which time I fully explained to them that the object of my visit was to purchase from them a tract of their country, that I intended to settle amongst them with my wife and seven daughters, and that I intended to bring to the country sheep and cattle. I also explained my wish to protect them in every way, to employ them the same as my own natives, and also to clothe and feed them, and I also proposed to pay them an annual tribute as a compensation for the enjoyment of the land.
The chiefs appeared most fully to comprehend my proposals, and much delighted with the prospect of having me to live amongst them. I then explained to them the boundaries of the land which I wished to purchase, and which are defined by hills, to which they have affixed native names: and the limits of the land purchased by me are defined in the chart which I have the honour of transmitting, taken from personal survey. [391]
On the next day the chiefs proceeded with me to the boundaries, and they marked, with their own native marks, the trees at the corners of the boundaries, and they also gave me their own private mark, which is kept sacred by them, even so much that the women are not allowed to see it.
After the boundaries had been thus marked and described, I filled up as accurately as I could define it, the land agreed to be purchased by me from the chiefs, and the deed, when thus filled up, was most carefully read over and explained to them by the two interpreters, so that they most fully comprehended its purport and effect. I then filled up two other parts of the deed so as to make it in triplicate, and the three principal chiefs and five of the subordinate chiefs then executed each of the deeds, each part being separately read over, and they each delivered to me a piece of the soil for the purpose of putting me in possession thereof, I understanding that it was a form by which they delivered to me the tract of land.
I have the honour of enclosing herewith a copy of each of the deeds executed by the natives to me, which I confidently trust will most clearly manifest that I have proceeded upon an equitable principle, that my object has not been possession and expulsion, or what is worse, extermination; but possession and civilisation, and the reservation of the annual tribute to those who are the real owners of the soil will afford evidence of the sincerity of my professions in wishing to protect and civilise these tribes of benighted but intelligent people, and I confidently trust that the British Government will duly appreciate the treaty which I have made with these tribes, and will not in any manner molest the arrangements which I have made, but that I shall receive the support and encouragement of not only the Local Government, but that of the British Government in carrying the objects into effect.
I traversed the country in opposite directions about fifty miles, and having had much experience in lands and grazing in New South Wales, and in this colony, I have no hesitation in asserting that the general character of the country is decidedly superior to any which I have ever seen. [392] It is interspersed with fine rivers and creeks, and the Downs were extended on every side as far as the eye could reach, thickly covered with grass of the finest description, and containing an almost indescribable extent of fine land fit for any purposes.
I have the honour, &c,