Page images


continues to increase it year after year: the other meanwhile becomes daily more unsettled, while his energies grow rusty for want of play, and poverty gradually overtakes him as be neglects the present, and rests his hopes on 66 better times.”

Exactly the same observations apply to settlers of the higher class. Among these it is not uncommon to meet one who is always at fault for some necessary article, who has apparently expunged the word comfort from his vocabulary since he left the mother country, and seems to care for nothing but how he may just rub on from one wool-season to another. His example spreads an enervating influence over all around him, and the unsettled appearance of such a station bespeaks the character of its

But how different is the picture of a well-managed establishment! On or about it nearly every necessary tradesman is to be found, attracted thither by the energy of their employer. There is a tailor, shoemaker, blacksmith, and carpenter; the stock-keepers are all butchers, and the cook or hut-keeper must also have a tolerable insight into the mysteries of baking. The owner's private store contains the groceries and haberdashery, and his medicine-chest is the apothecary's shop. Besides these there are various other articles, of minor importance, manufactured on the station, and, upon the whole, many a rising inland township is far worse provided with the conveniences of life.

Lastly, in some sequestered nook, hidden froin view by clustering evergreens, lies the burial-ground of the far settler. Such a spot, unconsecrated though it be, has of itself an air of calm solemnity which commands respect, even from the rudest denizens of the bush. Ours, I remember, had five or six tenants, nearly all of whom had met with a violent death; for in the fine climate of Australia little is to be feared from disease. Its first occupant had been speared by, the blacks, ere they had learned to fear the superior power of the firelock. Another must have died in great suffering, having mistaken corrosive sublimate for Epsom salts. A third had been killed by a fall from a horse. Its latest tenant, an Irish emigrant, had met with his death under very painful circumstances. He was one of two fellow-villagers, who had left their native country in the same ship, and reached Australia with their wives and families. They were both steady and industrious, had surmounted their worst hardships, and were beginning to


At a

save money, and to rejoice in their dawning prosperity. But this happiness was not to last. Some trifling quarrel arose between them as they were shepherding together, the eternal shilelagh was at hand, and a single blow sent one of the emigrants to the convict's chain, and the other to his last home, in the land which they had sought and learned to love together.

A remarkable instance of the strange losses to which the stockowner in the interior of Australia is liable, occurred in our neighbourhood. The case was unique, and it was that could neither have been anticipated nor prevented. few miles distance from us there was a fine station, which had hitherto been very prosperous, until one unlucky day two men, who were at work upon it, died somewhat suddenly near the same spot. From this cause rose an idle report, which rapidly gained belief, that the station was haunted ! It was useless to remonstrate with the men, not one of them would engage to live on it; and the luckless owner was consequently forced to pull down the whole of his buildings, at a great loss, and erect them again in another place that was voted “more canny."

I have written thus far without having once touched upon what I have always thought one of the most remarkable sights, and the most gratifying, which Australia can boast-the reformed convict; the man who, having been rejected by the place of his birth, and of his early crime, has paid the penalty, has passed the period of his disgrace, and has returned to a better life in another land.

That the majority, or even a large number, of offenders thus sentenced reform, I will not undertake to affirm ; that

many do, few travellers in Australia will deny. Whether the criminals repentance is in each case the result of that thorough spiritual conversion which the Christian would desire to see, might be hard to decide. It may be, or it may not. But is it a small matter that the outward behaviour of the penitent is decent, and his habits regular, that the vices of his youth are discontinued, his old intimacies dropped, and his thoughts and wishes taught to flow in a new channel ?

Here at least the foundation is laid for a true and complete conversion. If more be needed, how easily might a zealous clergyman, or a kind and pious master, drop the good seed, and how readily would it spring up in ground so well prepared!

When the eye opens on such a boundless field of usefulness, lighted up and cheered by such bright rays of hope, it is impossible not to wish to see greater exertions made. Australia has indeed dark shadows, as well as bright lights ; few countries can show such fearful pictures of utter depravity, of self-consuming vice, which yields obedience to no law but that of physical force. But in no case should we despair; in general sudden conversions are the result only of unexpected and appalling circumstances. In ordinary cases men must be civilized before they can be Christianized ; misery must be expelled from the sinner's abode before religion can be introduced : and hence it is that in Australia, where worldly success is so immediately and so visibly the result of any reform in conduct, and where want is scarcely known, the missionary of reformation may expect a degree of success beyond what the greatest zeal and ability could obtain for the preacher who labours among the vicious part of our poorer population at home.


Female Society in the Bush-Matrimony-Feminine Occupations in the Far

Districts--Education of Children-Hints to Emigrants and Capitalists of the present Day-Advisable Course to pursue on first engaging in Pastoral Pursuits—The best way to gain Experience-General Remarks.

I might add much more; the recollections of many years would serve to swell out my volume with yet undescribed scenes of colonial life-scenes of industry and enterprise, of excitement and loneliness, of deep disappointment and unexpected success. But enough has been said to tell the young adventurer what he may hope, and what he must learn to forego, if he seeks to make himself a home in the bush of Australia. Of one important omission I am still conscious—

—an omission which will go further with most readers to convey an idea of want of civilization in “ the bush” than the inost flattering descriptions can remove. I have hardly touched on the condition of women in those far regions, the state of female society, and its influence in polishing the manners and softening the hardships of a pastoral life.

It is true that though woman must, in every English home, play an important part, it is not in “ the bush” a prominent one. Her domestic duties are so engrossing, that if she had the power she has scarcely the time to stir abroad; of society, as we understand the word, there is little or none. The management of her household affairs requires constant attention, and the difficulty of finding tolerable servants, especially female servants, and of keeping them when found, reduces her to perform offices to which she had previously been unaccustoined. But then (some reader may perhaps anxiously ask), are the hardships and privations such that no man of feeling could bear to expose his wife to them, and that no man, without culpable selfishness, could ask any woman to share them with him ? Not to trifle with the impatience of such a questioner, I answer at once, certainly not. It must be remembered that the sting of all such inconveniences in a civilized country lies in the mortification which they inflict on our pride; they are painful, not in themselves, but because they are considered degrading. When the performance of almost menial services meets applause instead of a sneer, when it is no proof of want of refinement, nor even of poverty, the hardship vanishes at once. Where is the great difference between watering a flower-bed and dusting a drawing-room, if we remove onrselves from the conventional influence of the notions which assign one task to the housemaid and the other to the lady of the mansion ?

As long as the settler went to his station with the hope of returning to England in a few years with a competent fortune, it was natural that he should defer the intention of establishing himself till he had affluence and a more luxurious home to offer ; but now that he must make " the bush” his home, his lot would indeed be hard if he were doonied to toil on in solitude and selfishness, uncheered by objects of affection, whose smile might repay his labours, with no other motive than to supply his own daily wants, or amass wealth for he cares not whom. To all who have not more than common resources in themselves, the solitude of “the bush” is at times very oppressive. To relieve this in some degree it is not unusual for settlers to enter into partnership and unite their establishments at the same station. But the difficulties of making any such arrangement, with a prospect of mutual satisfaction, are obviously great, and the difficulties of carrying it out are still greater. Even in the full tide of prosperity it is not easy to maintain harmony between the parties; in the ebb of adversity it is scarcely possible; and such agreements are generally of short duration.

It is usually remarked in the colony that single men are apt to neglect their affairs, being glad to avail themselves of every pretext for leaving home in quest of society, or, if they remain there, they are often driven to seek solace in intemperance; and the usual homely practical advice given to a young man, as soon as he has got a little settled and 66


before him," is to take a wife as speedily as possible. My own observation tends to confirm the wisdom of this advice. I have always remarked that the happiest homes in the interior of Australia were

sees his

« PreviousContinue »