Edwin Hodder.

The history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) online

. (page 13 of 34)
Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 34)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

education in the colony at large, land for religious and
educational purposes should be sold to all applicants at
a very low rate (say 5s. per acre), the property and pro-
ceeds of such land to be legally secured and applied
according to the intentions of the donors."

Nothing could have been more moderate, but it was
opposed to the principle for which so many of the
fathers and founders of the colony had zealously con-
tended, and the appeal had no effect. A worse thing,
however, was to happen to the Dissenters in the not
far distant future, as we shall presently see.

During the years 1839-40, very few English settlers
turned their attention to agricultural pursuits. The
high rate of wages, the dearness of provisions, and the
disinclination to grapple with what really amounted to
"bush-life," acted as deterrents, and the people still
clung tenaciously to the city, the suburbs, and the port,
a course which operated most unfavourably against the
development of the agricultural resources of the
country. But during these years the colony was
greatly indebted to a large number of German immi-
grants, who arrived in the Prince George in 1838, and
at once proceeding to the cultivation of the land, pro-
duced an abundant supply of vegetables for Adelaide,
where there would otherwise have been scarcity.

The story of the circumstances under which these
Germans obtained a footing in South Australia is

In 1817 the union between the Eeformed and
Lutheran Churches in Prussia had nearly everywhere
been effected ; but the Church ritual being different in
various places, it was thought desirable to introduce a
regulation for uniform worship over the whole of the

* For a fuller account see "George Fife Angas, Father and
Founder of South Australia," by Edwin Hodder. London, 1891.


evangelical part of the monarchy. Accordingly, in
1822, King Frederick William III. issued a new
liturgy, introduced it by Cabinet order, caused it to be
used in the royal chapel and the garrison churches, and
recommended its adoption by all Protestant communi-
ties in the State. But as it clashed in some doctrinal
particulars with the views of a certain portion of the
Lutherans, they felt it to be their duty to withstand
the innovation at all costs. So long, however, as the
Government confined itself to a simple recommenda-
tion, the objections raised against it were not of great
importance; but when, in 1825, it was in contem-
plation to make the use of the new liturgy compulsory,
a strong agitation began. The Church party, with
Schleiermacher at its head, fought bravely against
Auguste, Marheineche, and others, for the freedom
and independence of the Church, and against the
'' Agenda " as being the work of the Government, with-
out the consent of the respective Church communities.

The quarrel lasted until 1829, when a modified
edition of the liturgy was prepared, and the 25th of
June, 1830, was fixed as the date for its universal

The principle at stake was held by many to remain
unaltered, and they combined to resist the innovation.
This brought upon them the royal displeasure, and
persecution, fines, and imprisonment followed their dis-
obedience. In Silesia the tyranny was felt more than
elsewhere, and many Lutherans determined, like the
Pilgrim Fathers, to seek some part of the globe where
they might worship God according to the dictates of
conscience. To this end the Eev. Augustus Kavel,
minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church at
Klemzig, having heard of the labours of Mr. G. F.
Angas on behalf of the colony of South Australia,
waited upon him to seek his advice. Mr. Apgas was
a backbone Nonconformist, and stood in the front rank
of fighters for religious freedom ; his sympathies were
at once enlisted, and after two years of incessant
labour, and at an enormous expense, he finally sue-


ceeded, despite the reluctance of the Prussian Govern-
ment to grant passports to the emigrants, in sending
out to South Australia some hundreds of these German
Lutherans. The first batch of two hundred, with
Pastor Kavel on board, left Plymouth Sound the
very harbour from which the Pilgrim Fathers set sail
to lay the foundation of the great Western Kepublic
in the Prince George, and arrived in the colony in
November, 1838. They settled upon some land belong-
ing to Mr. Angas on the river Torrens, only a short
distance from Adelaide, to which they gave the name
of Klemzig, after their native town in Prussia. Vessel
after vessel followed rapidly, carrying many hundreds
to the new Land of Promise, and in course of time
there sprung up the nourishing townships of Angaston,
Blumberg, Greenock, Griinthal, Hahndorf, Lobethal,
Lyndoch, Nairne, Nuriootpa, Rosenthal, and Tanunda,
where, at the present time, many thousands of Germans,
as well as English, are resident.

The thrifty, practical, hard-working Germans soon
made their little wildernesses blossom as the rose, and
there is no doubt that their success inspired others to
turn attention to similar as well as other branches of
husbandry and industry.

Activity became the order of the day in every branch
of labour. Wheat, from the ease with which it could
be grown, with the demand there was for it in the
Victorian market, and the large profits it yielded, led
many to embark in its cultivation ; some more exten-
sively than their capital warranted, and when bad and
dry seasons set in, they were overtaken with mis-
fortune, and found their way into the insolvent court.
Many, therefore, began to look out for other sources of
income, and it was found that the climate and soil were
equally well adapted for the growth and production of
wine, olive oil, hops, tobacco, and a variety of other
articles required for exportation and home consump-
tion. As early as 1840 Mr. Struthers cultivated a
small quantity of Sea Island cotton, as an experiment,
and it grew remarkably well.


It was believed that nearly all kinds of tropical
plants, trees, fruits, and flowers, as well as those of
temperate climes, could be successfully grown, and
when the experiment was tried, it was found that the
apple and the orange, the pear and the pine-apple, the
gooseberry and the fig, the raspberry and the olive,
and many other fruits would come to perfection within
a short distance of each other.*

Nearly all kinds of vegetables have been successfully
cultivated, and have attained to almost incredible sizes
and weights, although the raids of insects have always
been a source of unusual trouble.

The year 1841 opened with all the outward and
visible signs of prosperity. The land sales had reached
the enormous figure of 299,072 acres (of which, how-
ever, only 2503 were under cultivation) ; the popula-
tion had reached sixteen thousand (but of these an
overwhelming percentage were entirely dependent
upon the Government for food or labour, the where-
withal to get food) ; immigration was continuing to
pour in (although there were many labourers and few
capitalists) ; Adelaide had thrown off almost every
vestige of her first simplicity. Handsome public build-

* Fruits come to perfection and are in season in different dis-
tricts somewhat as follows :

Strawberries : September to December.

Raspbe-ries : October to December.

Gooseberries, currants, cherries, and almonds: November and


Figs : December to March.
Mulberries : December and January.
Blackberries : January.
Grapes : January to May.
Nectarines and apricots : December to February.
Plums and peaches : December to April.
Late plums : May and June.
Guavas and granadillas : January and February.
Sweet and water melons : January to April.
Pie-melons : May to August

Lemons, limes, citrons, and bananas : February and March.
Pomegranates : March.

Apples, pears, and quinces : February to August.
Oranges : nearly all the year.


ings, churches, meeting-houses, prisons, macadamized
roads, bridges of magnificent span connecting the
various suburbs of the picturesquely situated metropolis,
custom houses, harbours, quays, gave the appearance of
an almost unlimited revenue. It was as fine a capital
and as complete a Government establishment as would
have been the usual proportion of thirty times the
number of population at home. And everything was
done on a complete and lordly scale no jerry-building,
no stucco, no veneer. The prison, "the last of all
places in a new colony that some might suppose needed
elaborate architecture, had its high walls and strong
doors ; its angle towers surmounted with cuts tone em-
battlements, the stone alone costing 2 2s. per cube
foot to work, while for other services artificers were paid
from 3 18s. to 4 4s. per week."

It was a grand time ; everywhere there was planning
and working, enlarging and improving, demolishing the
brick and raising the marble ; it was the old story,
eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,
and then the deluge !

Eumblings of the coming storm had been heard here
and there, but little heed had been taken. The whole
matter was in a nutshell immigration was pouring in
with every tide ; the supply was unfortunately in excess
of the demand; the immigrants could not be left to
starve ; to employ them on work even unnecessary at
the time then present would be for the ultimate good
of the colony, and as to the responsibility well, it
must rest on the shoulders of the Commissioners, and if
they were not strong enough to bear it, on those of the
Imperial Government. This was the dream, from
which there was to be a rude awakening.

Early in February, when Governor Gawler was on
a visit to Cape Jervis and Kangaroo Island, tidings
reached the colony that some of the bills drawn by him
on the Commissioners had been returned dishonoured.

The blow, feared and not altogether unexpected, had
fallen, and the utter ruin of the colony seemed inevi-


Colonel Gawler hastened back, and at once sum-
moned the Council. They, desperately assuming, or
pretending to assume, that the bills were dishonoured
merely because the Commissioners had not, at the
moment, the needful funds in hand to meet them, and
that the whole question was simply a matter of time
until the necessary funds should be forthcoming,
recommended, " That the practice of drawing upon the
Colonization Commissioners should be continued with
the precautionary addition of a reference, in case of
need, to the Lords of her Majesty's Treasury."

A little later, and there was another scare. In April
a rumour reached Adelaide indirectly, by way of Tas-
mania, that Governor Gawler had been recalled and his
successor appointed. The rumour was not generally
credited, although it produced uneasiness in all

Shortly after this a despatch was received from the
Commissioners, informing Colonel Gawler that the
Board had no longer any funds to meet the bills that
had been sent home, and that he must discontinue to
draw upon them. He at once called the Council
together, and stated that he must adopt one of two
courses, " either at once to reduce the survey, harbour,
immigrant, colonial store, and police departments, and
confine the Government expenditure to the mere
Government and judicial offices, customs, and absolute
pauper immigrants which the revenue may at present
support," or " act as every governor of a British colony
is authorized by the instructions of the Colonial Office
to do in case of pressing emergency, draw, in the capacity
of Governor, directly on the Lords of the Treasury for
the sums necessary in reason to preserve the colony,
during the interval described, from disorder, ruin, and
destitution." After giving the subject the most careful
consideration, he determined to adopt, for the time
being, the latter course.

The times were critical in the extreme ; every indi-
vidual in the colony had a personal interest in the
questions at issue, and public meetings to discuss the


financial position became the order of the day. Those
held by the Chamber of Commerce were of the most
practical importance, as it was resolved that " should
his Excellency the Governor see fit to draw upon her
Majesty's Treasury, they will accept such bills in pay-
ment of their ordinary business transactions."

It cannot be denied that the responsibility the
Governor had taken upon himself throughout was,
in a certain sense, unauthorized by the Commissioners,
and was maintained contrary to their wish. But he
had unbounded faith in the capabilities of the colony,
and never entertained the shadow of a doubt as to a
successful issue of his schemes. So long therefore as
the Commissioners had funds, they yielded to his press-
ing demands for additional monetary help, under the
conviction, it would seem, that his confident and
sanguine expectations would shortly be realized and
that they would be relieved from the constant drain
on their finances.

In deference to the opinion expressed at certain
public meetings and to instructions received from the
Commissioners, the Governor commenced retrenchment
as regarded special land surveys and the police depart-
ment, but he had not proceeded far when, on the 10th
of May, the Lord Glenelg arrived, bringing not only
the recall of Colonel Gawler, but also his successor in
the person of Captain Grey !

This was regarded by the friends of the Governor as
an arbitrary and discourteous proceeding, more especially
as the Commissioners, who had placed his conduct in
the strongest light before the Government, had not in
any of their despatches directly censured him, although
perfectly aware of the ever-increasing expenditure. It
is true that under date of the 13th of July, 1840, in
reply to an application from Colonel Gawler for an
increase in salary from 1000 to 2000 per annum,
the Secretary of State (Lord John Eussell) had written
as follows :

" It was not until I was placed in possession of the
Commissioners' report that I was made aware of the


actual embarrassments of the colony. Under the
circumstances stated by the Commissioners, it ia
obviously impossible to make any increase in the
incomes of the public officers of the colony; and I
regret therefore that I cannot recommend to the Lords
Commissioners of the Treasury to sanction the grant
of the salary which you propose." After asking for a
report upon the statements made by the Commissioners,
Lord John concluded, " I cannot but express my sur-
prise and concern at the large expense into which the
colony has been plunged, and I most earnestly hope
that you will use every endeavour to arrest the diffi-
culties in which it is placed."

To this despatch, which was not received till
December, 1840, Colonel Gawler made a lengthy and
energetic reply, in which he not only endeavoured to
justify his own position, but threw upon the shoulders
of the Commissioners whatever blame was due.
" The Commissioners," he wrote, " were desirous to
form a fine colony, and abstractly they were willing
to authorize the measures necessary to accomplish this
end ; but I must respectfully say, in my own defence,
that they did not calculate the cost of them, nor had
they any adequate conception of the difficulties arising
from the state and requirements of a new and large
community suddenly collected and planted in an un-
explored wilderness."

Again : " In all the documents and communications
issued by the Commissioners from the date of my
appointment to office until the report which your
lordship has enclosed to me, there never was the
slightest censure passed on any portion of the ex-
penditure which I had directed. On the contrary,
I was justified by the Commissioners in the greatest
items of expenditure which I had incurred on my own
responsibility items which embrace almost all the
extraordinary expenditure of the colony. Therefore I
am in no wise guilty of the heavy charge which the
Commissioners have made against me of ' setting their
instructions at naught,' but that I simply stand on


my own responsibility for correctness of judgment as
to whether or not the cases referred to were really
cases of emergency. In no other matter have I ever
intended in any of my former official statements to
confess responsibility. In speaking of unauthorized
expenditure, I have always supposed it would be
distinctly understood to mean expenditure unauthorized
by detailed instructions. I came to this colony to
conduct a great and first experiment. An experiment
of necessity involves the possibility not only of success
but of failure without blame to those who conduct it
faithfully. The experiment in South Australia em-
braced two great considerations : (1) the success of
the self-supporting system, arid (2) the safety of the
colony. I never doubted but that the safety of the
colony was the point to be first maintained, and until
the receipt of a semi-official letter from Colonel Torrens,
dated 17th of June, 1840, and of the report of your
lordship of the 7th of July, 1840, the instructions and
correspondence of the Commissioners with regard to
emergencies gave me the fullest reason to believe that
their view and mine coincided. . . .

" I considered it emergency when the survey depart-
ment could not keep pace with the demand ; when the
police force was not sufficient to suppress bushrangers
and other lawless characters, to control the natives, and
to check contraband trade; emergency, when public
officers of value were leaving their situations on account
of the insufficiency of their salaries, or were trading and
really plundering the Government on what they called
authorized principle ; emergency, when the survey and
land offices being burnt down, there was not a public
office belonging to the Government in Adelaide, and
none of reasonable permanent suitableness to be hired ;
emergency, when, with an immense pressure of business
and harassment of all kinds upon me, I, my wife, family,
secretary, office, and servants, were limited during the
day to a mud cottage, fifty feet by twenty-seven in
extreme dimensions ; and emergency, when, with a
really beautiful natural port, commerce was suffering



almost indescribable hindrances from the difficulty of
landing in a broad, triangular swamp. . . . These, in
addition to immigrant sickness and destitution, are the
great and leading objects which have been to my fullest
conviction emergencies, and which have absorbed the
greater part of the extraordinary expenditure."

Such were some of the lines of Colonel Gawler's
defence, and whatever estimate may be put upon them,
no one will deny that he acted from a high sense of the
responsibilities attaching to his office.

" Governor Gawler," says Mr. B. T. Finniss, " did
what Imperial legislation afterwards recognized as a
valid employment of the land fund ; that is, he pro-
moted public works, and provided for the maintenance
of the labour, which every Government is bound to do
to guard against destitution. But in doing so, he
violated his instructions and paid the penalty in re-
moval from office with all its attendant consequences.
Whether he was right or wrong, it may be asserted that
the colonists of that period and of the present owe him
a debt of gratitude for saving the colony from anarchy,
and for the improvements in its condition which must
have resulted from an expenditure not wastefully in-
curred, but spread amongst the community in the shape
of wages for useful purposes. Governor Gawler was
impelled by circumstances to act as he did. More-
over, his action led to a more practical system of land
legislation, and struck a deathblow to the principle
of applying all the proceeds of all the lands sold and
alienated from the Crown to the introduction of
labour." *

The exact amount of the excess of Colonel Gawler's
expenditure over the revenue and the amount of bills
drawn by him upon the Commissioners was stated to be
291,861 3s. 5%d. The total debt due in England on
the 1st of May, 1841, and chargeable on the revenue
of the colony, was 305,328 2s. 7d. I

When the news was received in the colony that the
bills were dishonoured, there was a panic among the
* "Constitutional History of South Australia."


merchants who had purchased the Government paper
to a large amount as remittances to their correspondents
in England, and tradesmen and others who had been
working for or supplying articles to the Government
found themselves involved. The distress became general
and was shared by all classes.

" Universal bankruptcy and great distress then pre-
vailed throughout all Australia, such as had never
occurred before or have been since experienced. The
severe fall in land, stock, and all other property would
appear at the present time as almost incredible. A
song was composed and nightly sung, which was
especially applicable to the then circumstances of New
South Wales in describing the troubles of the period,
which it did in the personal lamentations of a luckless
individual named ' Billy Barlow,' amongst whose
terrible misfortunes was ' the sale of his sheep at six-
pence per head with the run given in ' a state of things
not so very far from the truth. Emigration from other
countries had ceased. The privations of the settlers
were severe, and everything seemed to be at its lowest.
The loss of capital incurred in founding the colony
cannot be estimated, but it must have been very con-
siderable, inasmuch as nearly all those engaged in the
importation and distribution of merchandise, with many
others, were ruined. A number of persons were in
prison for debt, for whom there were no means of relief.
It was found that the British bankruptcy and insolvency
laws did not apply to South Australia, and so these
unfortunate debtors continued in gaol until the Act for
giving relief to insolvent debtors was passed on the
22nd of June, 1841, and an Insolvent Court was
established, when there soon after followed what might
be termed a ' general gaol delivery ' for debtors." *

Much sympathy was felt for Colonel Gawler, and
addresses, testimonials, and other marks of respect and
good feeling poured in upon him from many quarters.
When, on the 18th of June, he took his departure from
the colony, he left behind him a memory which was
* Sir Henry Ayers, K.C.M.G.


treasured by many even of those who had suffered most
from the policy he had pursued. Of the wisdom of that
policy he never entertained a moment's doubt. Five
years after he had left South Australia, he wrote to
his old friend, Mr. G. F. Angas, in these terms :

" June 4th, 1846.

"I laid, in the face of immense difficulties, the
foundation of the finest colony, in proportion to its
duration, that has appeared in modern times. I did
so with full purpose and foresight of beneficial results,
and without running the reckless risks that are
attributed to me, and in England have obtained, as to
my policy, nothing but reproaches. It is moreover, I
believe, one of the cheapest, if not the very cheapest of
the distant colonies that England has had. ... I
carried out with full foresight of results the 'self-
supporting system' as far as it was possible to do
it ... at a cost less than even its original devisers
calculated, for they thought of 375,000 for the political
expenses of foundation (see Wakefield, vol. ii. p. H9),
while the net cost of South Australia up to this moment
is short of 300,000. Not, however, that I should
desire that 300,000 to be laid upon the colony. I
think it was the ruining error of the original plan that
such a thing should ever have been contemplated. A
parent State ought to pay for her colonies as a parent
does for his children, or as States do themselves for
their lines of battle ships ; it is a beggarly spirit of
penury alone which can lead them to fume and grumble
as they have done about South Australia.

" You justly ask, 'Could not the effects have been pro-
duced for a less sum ? ' I would say not, in reasonable
consideration and under the circumstances of the case
and time. A novel system ; an unknown climate ; an
unexplored country ; public officers utterly inexperienced
(some, from ill health or other causes, really useless

Online LibraryEdwin HodderThe history of South Australia from its foundation to the year of its jubilee (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 34)