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after the fatigues of the day. But watching is absolutely necessary, as the cattle, if not confined by some means or other, would, ere the dawn, be many miles on their road back to their old pastures, urged by the strong local attachment which they invariably possess.

The manner in which a large herd of cattle is enclosed at night in default of stockyards, is, I believe, peculiar to Australia : shortly before dusk they are driven on to some open, level ground, where, if procurable, some natural barrier on one side, such as a steep hill or river bank, is a great advantage. Here they are stopped, and encircled by horsemen, who continue to hem them in until others have in the mean time lit large log fires around them, at a distance of ten or twelve yards apart. As soon as these are blazing pretty strongly, the horsemen retire by the intervening spaces, and the cattle find themselves encompassed by a ring of flame, of which they have at all times a dread, and particularly at night.

Notwithstanding every precaution, however, it is no easy matter to keep them together until daybreak : a constant watch must be continued on all sides, to prevent their breaking through the spaces between the fires, which some of them are always on the alert to do, if the flames begin to slacken ; and if one of the cattle leads the way, it is next to impossible to prevent the others from following the example. The stockmen, therefore, are obliged to walk backwards and forwards during the whole night, replenishing the flames, and keeping back the cattle with as little noise as possible, for if suddenly alarmed, the whole herd would certainly rush through every obstacle, and make their escape; but with proper care the end is usually gained : hundreds of huge animals, any one of whose strength would be too great for that of all the men united, are thus made to yield to human stratagem, and remain within the limits of the prescribed circle.

The vagrant and primitive mode of life experienced in these overland trips, if it has hardships, can boast on the other hand of many pleasures peculiar to itself, especially to the young and adventurous, to many of whom its utter dissimilarity with early habits renders it more pleasing from the contrast ; there are charms in the early morning breeze, and the breakfast, like a picnic, at sunrise; in the thoroughly independent way in which the adventurer traverses the pathless wilds, with the whole land before him ; in the drowsy halt at noon, and finally in the quiet evening's encampment, when, after washing away all remembrance of the toil and heat of the journey in some cool stream, as yet untouched by the white man, he can rest beneath the canopy of heaven,

nor care beyond to-day.” Under these circumstances preparations for passing the night are soon made: every traveller in “ the bush ” carries with him his tinder-box, and as soon as the tin quart pot, which has been dangling all day at the saddle-bow, boils at the crackling logfire, and is converted into a tea-pot, and the eatables, consisting of corned beef and “damper," are spread out upon the grass, the meal is ready, and he has nothing to do but to fall to with the appetite of a traveller. After allowing an hour or so for digestion, he rolls himself for the night in the blanket or “’possum-cloak," which by day is strapped on before him, and sleeps with his head between the flaps of the saddle, which, turned upwards, is the ordinary bush substitute for a pillow.

This sensation of absolute freedom, which is one of the chief attractions of this sort of life, some might say its only one, gains a strong hold upon many minds; and it is certain that in a new country, such as Australia, there are few men who, after leading a pastoral life, would be able to content themselves with the less exciting and less independent occupations of agriculture, such as it is pursued in the more thickly populated parts of the colony, or in the vicinity of the capital.

CHAPTER III.

Society in the Inland Districts—Hospitality of Settlers—The Labouring

Classes—State of Morality-Habitual Swearing-Intoxication-A Bush Public House--Anecdotes—An Inland “Spa”—Prospects of Improvement.

Few places can show so strange a mixture, and yet so complete a “ fusion," of the heterogeneous materials of its society, as “the Bush ” of Australia. It is curious to see men differing so entirely in birth, education, and habits, and in their whole moral and intellectual nature, thrown into such close contact, united by common interests, engaged under circumstances of perfect equality in the same pursuits, and nutually dependent on each other for all the good offices of civility and neighbourhood. Here, perhaps, is the station of a Sydney merchant, or meniber of council, who seldom visits it in person, and leaving its entire management to an overseer, seenis to consider it rather beneath his dignity to trouble himself about it, except during the wool season, when he makes his annual visit, to “send down his produce, and find fault with the superintendent."

In such cases, therefore, the real neighbour for all practical purposes is the overseer, a hired servant, though, strange to say, he is often a man of more education than his principal.

The owner of the adjoining station is perhaps an emancipist, a reformed character of course, as his emancipation and his present occupation prove; under this name an extraordinary variety, from the lowest to a high degree, of intellect and cultivation may be found. The next may be a native white of the lower grade, who, notwithstanding that he is possessed of numerous flocks and herds, lives on in the same rough style as when he began to settle, and in appearance and manner is hardly to be distinguished from one of his own men, while the nearest neighbour to this “specimen of raw material” is an Etonian, who has perhaps originally entered upon a bush life in the hope of making sufficient money to enable him to return in comfort to the land of

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CHAP. III.]

SOCIETY IN THE REMOTE DISTRICTS.

23

his birth : in this he has been disappointed, but his former tastes and habits display themselves in all that surrounds him. He has given to his slab hut the external appearance of what the advertisements

may be supposed to mean by their own favourite phrase, a cottage ornée. In the interior he has softened down the rude materials of bush architecture into the likeness of an Englislı drawing-room or library. Book-shelves fill every available nook ; here and there are to be seen articles of exotic luxury, perhaps of ladies' work, the remembrances of distant friends ; and

every resource of ingenuity is exhausted to produce imitations of the elegances and refinements which he has left behind him, perhaps for ever.

In the most agreeable and useful class of neighbours are the native whites of the better stamp, or, as they are usually called,

natives,” for be it understood, once for all, that the word native, as used in the colony, invariably means a white man, one born in Australia of European parents. The aborigines are called “the blacks.” Many of these are kindhearted, intelligent men ; they are tormented by no secret contempt for the country they inhabit, and no wish to exchange it for another; they accept 6 the bush as their home, and are desirous to improve to the utmost its advantages.

However, to a resident in these remote districts, society must always be a lottery ; and no one, when purchasing a station, cares to inquire who or what his neighbours may be, if satisfied with his bargain in other respects. But, generally speaking, he is nearly sure of having in his vicinity at least some companionable people; it is well if they are to be found within a few miles, but, if otherwise, the contempt of distance created by circumstances in the interior of New South Wales will probably place some of them within his reach. All his neighbours must at least be possessed of energy, industry, and the good qualities which these imply, for otherwise they will soon cease to be his neighbours, as they will be ruined and obliged to leave the district, and from all he may learn much. It would be very bad philosophy to fancy that he was keeping up his European refinements by being fastidious in discovering their faults and deficiencies. But it is not merely toleration that may be claimed for his brother settlers, he will find some whose acquaintance may be cultivated with pleasure, and whose friendship may be sought with real advantage.

On one point all residents in the Bush” are agreed, however different may have been their early lives and habits, and whatever are their further views—hospitality is an universal virtue, so much so that its merits are frequently overlooked ; and there is probably no part of the world that can be traversed by the total stranger without friends or money so easily as the bush of Australia, where, for hundreds of miles together, so long as he can reach a station, he will be sure of finding a home.

This necessitates an item in the expenses of an establishment little dreamt of in the calculations of a new comer; a certain amount of extra provisions, regulated by the extent of the neighbouring population, is weekly allowed, and duly served out, “ for callers :" this, though not absolutely imperative, has become nearly so by custom, and he who in this respect chose to stand in single opposition to the feelings and practice of the society around him, would find ample cause to repent his churlishness if the law of retaliation were applied to him whenever he stirred abroad.

In fact hospitality among so widely scattered a population is a necessity ; but it is from impulse, and not from a sense of this necessity, that its duties are practised. Indeed it has been doubted whether

any merit can be claimed for its exercise by men who lead so solitary a life that the sight of any strange face may be considered as a pleasure. But in every part of the world hospitality must spring in some measure from a dislike of solitude. It is hardly fair to analyze so closely the composition of human virtues; and on retrospection of several years' experience, I can confidently affirm that in Australia hospitality is not, on the whole, its own reward. Of the medley of travellers there are so many whose company, so far from being agreeable, can hardly be tolerable to their entertainers, that the profuse hospitality of “the Bush ” may fairly claim at least whatever merit is assigned to this virtue in more civilized parts of the globe.

What hospitality can in fact compare with that which extends its favours without distinction to it knows not whom, and in the exercise of which every old association or prejudice is to be subdued? How often does the new comer from England find his family pride alarmed by the company of one whose forefathers:

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