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the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting-place
in the progress of their victorious industry.'

It may be concluded, therefore, that the North American
seamen, whether British or French, were well acquainted with
the Falkland Islands some time before he proposal of
M. Bourgainville.

The French leader, however, carried out his enterprise.
He set sail from St. Malo in September 1763, a few months
after the signing of the Treaty of Paris, and on the 3rd of
February 1764 entered a bay of the Falkland Islands, to which

The Australian Colonies 141

he gave the name of ' Bale des Frangois.' The colony of
Frenchmen consisted of twenty-seven persons, of whom five
were women. Bourgainville left the islands shortly after
settling this first detachment, and returned next year with
more, so that at the close of 1765 the French colony consisted
of 150 souls. As a beginning of their industries they sent
home a cargo of oil and seal-skins. The colony, however,
was very short-lived. The jealousy of the Spaniards was
aroused, an official correspondence took place, and the result
was that the post was abandoned, a pecuniary compensation
offered to Bourgainville, and the place rechristened by the
Spaniards Port Solidad.

It was destined, however, that the stars of Spain and France
should both pale before that of England in the Pacific, as
elsewhere. Her ambition was great, and her activities were
many-sided. The Peace of Paris had indeed set England on
a pinnacle of fame. King George exclaimed, ' England never
signed such a peace before, nor, I believe, any other Power in
Europe ' ; and Lord Bute said, ' I wish no better inscription
on my tomb than that I was its author.' What bounds, there-
fore, could be placed to England's further enterprises ? The
King himself was an enthusiastic geographer, and in 1764
Commodore Byron was instructed to sail on a voyage of
discovery, the objects of which were set forth in his instructions:
* Whereas nothing can redound more to the honour of this
nation as a maritime Power, to the dignity of the Crown of
Great Britain, and to the advancement of the trade and navi-
gation thereof, than to make discoveries of countries hitherto
unknown ; and whereas there is reason to believe that lands
and islands of great extent, hitherto unvisited by any European
Power, may be found in the Atlantic Ocean, between the Cape
of Good Hope and the Magellanic Strait, within the latitudes
convenient for navigation, and in the climates adapted to the
produce of commodities useful in commerce ; and whereas His
Majesty's islands, called Pepys Island and Falkland's Island,
lying within the said track, notwithstanding their having been

142 British Colonisation

first discovered and visited by British navigators, have never yet
been sufficiently surveyed, as that an accurate judgment may be
formed of their coasts and products ; His Majesty, taking the
premises into consideration, and conceiving no conjuncture so
proper for an enterprise of this nature as a time of profound
peace, which his kingdoms at present happily enjoy, has thought
fit that it should now be undertaken.'

This preamble deserves notice on many accounts. It points
out the nature of this enterprise, somewhat different from that
of Lord Anson's cruise, promoted and encouraged by the
Crown, in southern waters ; it indicates the prevalent belief in
a vast southern continent between the latitudes of the Cape of
Good Hope and the Straits of Magellan, and most plainly
asserts the right to the Falkland Islands by right of prior dis-
covery the great navigator John Davis having been driven
amongst them in August 1592.

Commodore Byron left England with the Tamar and the
Dolphin, the last-named ship being sheathed in copper, an
experiment then made for the first time. In pursuance with
his instructions the Commodore visited the Falkland Islands,
and discovered a port on the western coast, to which he gave
the name of Port Egmont. He was unable, however, to
discover Pepys Island. His passage through the Straits of
Magellan was attended with the usual tempests of these
latitudes, and occupied seven weeks ; but Commodore Byron,
having been round Cape Horn twice once in company with
Lord Anson avowed his preference for this route. After
effecting a few discoveries in the Pacific, he returned to
England, after an absence of twenty-two months, steering
the northerly and north-westerly course, first to the island of
Juan Fernandez off the west coast, thence to Timour and
Guam, and round to Batavia, and so home by way of the Cape
of Good Hope. Byron returned in May 1766, and the result
of his voyage was to inspire another in the same direction
in the same year under Captain Wallis, commanding the
Dolphin, Captain Carteret the Swallow, with a storeship

The Australian Colonies 143

Prince Frederick. Captain Wallis took the usual track by the
Straits of Magellan ; and during his voyage through the
Pacific discovered and described several islands, such as
Whitsun Island, lat. 19 26' S. and long. 137 56' W. ; Queen
Charlotte Island, lat. 19 18' S. and long. 138 4' W. ;
Gloucester Island, lat 19 n' S. and long. 140 4' W. ; Prince
William Henry Island, lat. 19 S., long. 141 6' W. ; Osnaburgh
Island, lat. 17 51' S. and long. 147 30' W. His most im-
portant discovery was of King George the Third's Island, or
Otaheite, lat. 17 40' S. and long. 149 13' W., where 'Mr.
Furneaux stuck up a staff, upon which he hoisted a pen-
dant, turned a turf, and took possession of the island in His
Majesty's name.' From Otaheite Captain Wallis steered for
Timour, Batavia, and so to Europe by the Cape of Good
Hope. At the latter place abundance of stores and provisions
were procured; and Captain Wallis, in order to show the
captains of the Indiamen and their officers that, upon an
emergency, fresh water might be gained by distillation, de-
scribed how he ' put 56 gallons of salt water into the still,
and in about five hours and a quarter obtained 42 gallons of
fresh water, at an expense of 9 Ibs. of wood and 69 Ibs. of
coal.' A most valuable experiment, and calculated to save
many lives.

In conjunction with Captain Wallis's expedition must be
considered that of Captain Carteret and the Swallow. Captain
Carteret, having lost sight of Captain Wallis at the western
entrance of the Straits of Magellan, proceeded across the
Pacific by a more southerly course than his companion-in-
adventure. He discovered Pitcairn Island, destined after-
wards to be the solitary refuge of the ' mutineers of the
Bounty] named Egmont Island, and Gower Island. Arriving
at ' New Britain,' so named by William Dampier, he found that
it was divided by a channel, which he named St. George's
Channel, and to the northern part he gave the name of New
Ireland. Steering northward, he touched at Macassar, and
thence came home by the usual Cape route.

144 British Colonisation

The greatest triumphs of South Sea exploration were gained,
however, by the celebrated Captain Cook. The previous
career of this officer well qualified him for the task of maritime
discovery. Born of humble parents, he was apprenticed at
an early age to a shopkeeper at Straiths, not far from Whitby.
Disliking his occupation here, he entered into a seven years'
engagement with the owners of vessels employed in the coal
trade, and from the experience gained in the hazardous coast
navigation of the north of England he derived the greatest
advantage. He learned to be a most competent and practical
seaman, well fitted to ' hand, reef, and steer.' He entered the
King's service in 1755, and served on board the Eagle. His
character and capabilities becoming well known, he was
appointed master of the Mercury, a small vessel which was
attached to the fleet of Sir Charles Saunders, then operating
against the French in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. He was
employed in the difficult and dangerous task of taking soundings
of the St. Lawrence opposite the French encampments around
Quebec, and whilst thus employed at night was very nearly
surrounded and cut off, escaping with great difficulty to the Isle
of Orleans. After the end of the Canadian campaign, and the
crowning victory of Wolfe on the Heights of Abraham, he was
employed in the work of surveying the coasts of Newfoundland
and Labrador. By the work he did here he still further in-
creased his reputation ; and when a competent and scientific
captain was required to sail to the Pacific and observe the
transit of the planet Venus over the sun's disc on June 3,
1769, no one seemed more likely to carry out this work
successfully than Captain Cook. Never was an appointment
more justified by its results, and the three voyages of Cook
conducted to the Pacific Ocean are a monumental record of
English seamanship in its best sense.

Without entering into details here, it may suffice to point
out some of the main results of Cook's sea voyages. In the
extent of coasts he surveyed he far surpasses all other navi-
gators. He traced the eastern coast of New Holland for

The Australian Colonies 145

2000 miles, and on the occasion of an untoward accident on
the Barrier Reef escaped solely by his cool and intrepid
courage. He circumnavigated New Zealand, the eastern and
southern parts of which were unknown, and believed to be
part of the Terra Australia Incognita. He discovered and
named New Caledonia and Norfolk Island. He also de-
scribed the New Hebrides, and gave the group their definite
and proper place. His run from New Zealand to Tierra del
Fuego, along the latitude of 55 South, was the first instance
of a run made completely across the Southern Pacific. In
short, he made the circuit of the South Seas at a high latitude,
and proved decisively that the great southern continent, so
long the subject of fiction and theory, did not exist in fact.
Cook prided himself on the discovery of the Sandwich Islands,
especially of Owhyhee, the largest of them. His accuracy of
observation and his correctness of survey have been warmly
attested to by many navigators, such as Crozet and La

The most important act of Captain Cook, in consideration
of the vast results that ensued, was the occupation of south-
east Australia at Botany Bay on behalf of His Britannic
Majesty. The district was called New South Wales on
account of its resemblance to the coasts of the shores of
Wales. The roar of the cannon and the volleys of musketry
that attended this act of occupation marked an epoch in the
history of the island-continent. At no long time it was to be
dragged from its obscurity and become known to all the
kingdoms of Europe.


Many causes were now inducing Great Britain to follow up
the task of Pacific exploration by Pacific colonisation, and
thus enter upon the heritage won for her in these distant
waters by her intrepid sailors. In 1776 the United States
declared their independence, and it was no longer possible to


146 British Colonisation

send convicts there as formerly. With regard to the West
Indies, it had been proved, over and over again, that these
tropical islands were unsuited to European labourers. The
vast increase of the slave population and the creation of large
properties had put small cultivators and peasant proprietors
out of court. Clearly there was no opening for the waifs and
strays of England in these islands. Very often, also, the Irish
and other convicts proved a source of danger and trouble to
the prosperity of the West Indies.

But Australia was a long way off there was safety in dis-
tance and the climate was healthy. Here the convicts might
have a chance of rehabilitating themselves and becoming an
orderly class of citizens. For once the change of climate
might bring out a moral reformation, and the proverb of
' Ccelum non animum mutant qui trans mare currunt '
proved, for once, to be untrue. Moreover, the idea of com-
merce and trade, and the opportunities of extending England's
power in the southern hemisphere, undoubtedly furnished a
strong motive ; and the instructions given to Commodore
Byron by the King in 1764, in accordance with which the
British ships were commanded to visit all lands and islands in
the Atlantic Ocean between the Cape of Good Hope and the
Straits of Magellan, coupled with the objects set forth in the
expeditions of Wallis and Carteret, were features of a continu-
ous and determined policy, officially recognised and counte-
nanced. More especially, the new El Dorado of the whale
fishery in the two Pacifies happened to be opened up just
about this time, and the discovery formed a grand era in our
commercial history. A writer in the Quarterly Review (March
1839) thus expressed himself on the value of this opening :
' The enterprise of the whalers first opened up to us a beneficial
intercourse with the coasts of Spanish America ; it led in the
sequel to the independence of the Spanish colonies. But for
our whalers we might never have founded our colonies in
Van Diemen's Land and Australia or, if we had, we could
not have maintained them in their early stages of danger and

The Australian Colonies 147

privation. Moreover, our intimacy with the Polynesians must
be traced to the same source. The whalers were the first that
traded in that quarter. They prepared the way for the
missionaries ; and the same thing is now in progress in New
Ireland, New Britain, and New Zealand.' The great venture
of Mr. Enderby, a London merchant, who fitted out an ex-
pedition at great expense to go into the South Pacific, was
made in 1788, the year of the founding of Sydney.

Moreover, to economists the relief given to the State by
transportation had long appeared to be an unanswerable argu-
ment. The initial expense of transportation was calculated at
about ,30 per head, but this was the first and last expense.
Mr. Cunninghame, in his Letters from New South Wales (1827),
put the economical argument thus : ' Every rogue whom you
retain at home to labour takes the bread out of the mouth
of an honest man ; as long, therefore, as England cannot keep
her honest poor, so long will it be her interest to turn all her
roguish poor out from her bosom to thrive or work elsewhere.'
In 1 82 8 there were upwards of 4000 convicts on board the hulks,
employed in the dockyards, and on other public works, at
an annual expense of ,60,000 ; the whole of whom would be
turned loose on society within the short period of seven years.
If these 4000 * rogues ' took the bread out of the mouths of
4000 honest poor, another ^60,000 would be required some-
how to make up. To send them out to New South Wales.,
where many of them would become good citizens, would cost
the public twice ^"60,000 ; but then all future expense would
cease. The first step of this policy was taken when it was
determined to send out convicts to Botany Bay, and in May
1787 a fleet was ready to sail. It consisted of the Sinus,
a warship, and the Supply ', a tender, together with six trans-
ports for the convicts, and three ships for carrying the stores.
Of the convicts 600 were men and 250 were women, and the
guard on board consisted of 200 soldiers. Captain Phillip was
appointed governor of the colony, Captain Hunter being second
in command, and Mr. Collins held an appointment as Judge-

148 British Colonisation

Advocate to preside in the military courts. On the i8th,
1 9th, and 2oth of February 1788 these vessels dropped anchor
in Botany Bay, after a voyage of eight months.

The story of the founding of New South Wales in 1788 has
often been told, and it is certainly the most unique, in a
certain sense, of all stories of colonisation, whether of ancient
or modern times. The colonists were not like the Trojans of
old seeking a new home by stress of war, nor were they like
the overflow of a Greek or Phoenician city. ' Optata potiuntur
arena' could not apply to those who had no will or option in the
matter. Nor did their leaders think much of the trade or com-
merce that might arise. The place was to be an asylum, not of
persecuted sects nor of Puritan refugees nor of injured inno-
cence in any shape or form, but an asylum of criminals of
various degrees of depravity. Possibly this asylum might be
a kind of purgatory or a moral sanatorium. No one could
well prophesy how it would turn out ; but every one felt that
the convict difficulty was pressing sorely, and that the prisons
of England were becoming unbearable.

Mr. Rusden, one of the best known of Australian his-
torians, has pointed out that between transportation to America
and transportation to Australia there was a wide distinction.
Convicts conveyed to America were taken by contractors, who
parted with them for a consideration to the colonists, and
were obliged to prove by certificates that they had disposed of
them according to the intention of the law. In Australia
there were no colonists asking for labourers, and the Govern-
ment were compelled to establish a society in the first place. 1
Later on, it may be remarked, when the settlement was estab-
lished, the Australian Agricultural Association, together with
many free colonists, took the convicts and made great use of
their services ; but their act naturally had to wait upon the first
development. Morally and physically, this Purgatory, as the
transportation was called, proved the greatest success when

1 ' Material Progress of New South Wales,' vol. xvii. Proceedings Royal
Colonial Instittite.

The Australian Colonies 149

the examples and precepts of free labour were frequently held
before the convicts in a practical way by a continual stream
of free colonists.

At first the wretched convicts were shipped off with great
disregard of health and comfort. Although Captain Cook, by
the observance of proper rules of diet and cleanliness, had
proved it possible to make long ocean voyages (1760-1774)
without serious loss of life, the world was slow to learn the
lesson. More than a third of the first batch of convicts were
down with scurvy and other diseases ; sixty-six lay in the little
hospital which was set up in Sydney Cove ; and, through want
of proper precautions and foresight, the nascent colony was
threatened with starvation. The Sinus was despatched to the
Cape of Good Hope and the Supply to Batavia for provisions ;
and the appearance of the first British settlement was that of
a vast lazaretto, with gaunt and fever-stricken mortals wander-
ing aimlessly about. Under these circumstances Governor
Phillip was compelled to send two hundred convicts, with
about seventy soldiers, to Norfolk Island, where there was a
moderate chance of their being able to support themselves.

The seal of the infant colony, however, was symbolical of
ultimate success. On the obverse were the royal arms, whilst
the reverse displayed the landing of a party of prisoners wel-
comed by Industry with tools and a bale of merchandise. The
legend was, ' Sic fortis Etruria crevit,' with reference to the
rise of Rome ; and no seal or legend could have been more
prophetic. Industry has been the potent quality by which the
wealth of this vast island-continent has been tapped.

By one of those strange discoveries which are so unex-
pected in their occurrence and so prolific in their results, it
was discovered that close to Botany Bay, and behind the
opening which Captain Cook had called ' Port Jackson,' there
lay a harbour which is perhaps the most beautiful and perfect
in the world. It is hard to think how it could have escaped
notice ; and if La Perouse or a French or Dutch navigator
before him had sighted it, the future of Australia might have

150 British Colonisation

been changed altogether. Botany Bay so named, it may be
remembered, by Captain Cook on account of the wealth of
flowers and shrubs seen and described by Banks and Solander
was found to be an unsuitable place for the settlement. The
waters of the Bay were so shallow that the ships could not
enter it properly, and had to lie outside in the face of the
Pacific swell. On shore the swamps seemed to render the
most eligible position unhealthy. So Governor Phillip took
three boats and proceeded on that coast survey that gave to
the British Empire, in Sydney Harbour, the most perfect
vantage-ground in the southern seas. ' It seemed a vast maze
of winding waters, dotted here and there with lovely islets :
its'shores thickly wooded down to the strips of golden sand
which lined the most charming little bays ; and its broad
sheets of rippling waters bordered by lines of dusky foliage.'
How great and material advantage a good land-locked harbour
can be to a colony is never sufficiently realised. At vast
expense and sometimes peril man is forced to supplement
Nature's deficiencies ; and even then he discovers that when
he has run out a mole, constructed a pier, and erected landing-
places, the whole work is rendered nugatory by some unfore-
seen current, silted-up beds of sand, or is swept away bodily
by the force of some unusual and unexpected tempest.

The French, it must be noticed, were not to be debarred
just yet from Australian waters. In June 1800, a few months
after the retirement of Mr. Pitt, the French Government fitted
out two armed vessels, le Geographe and le Naturaliste, for an
expedition round the world, under Captain Baudin. In this
expedition they sought for the friendly help of the British, and
obtained a kind of passport and recommendation from the
King that ' the vessels should be permitted to put into any
of His Majesty's ports in case of stress of weather, or to pro-
cure assistance to enable them to prosecute their voyage.' It
was a national and imperial enterprise in reality, and its true
purport did not at first appear. The chief object of Captain
Baudin was not to go round the world for scientific purposes,

The A ustralian Colonies 1 5 1

but to seek for a French foothold in Pacific waters. His
instructions were to touch, in the first instance, at the Isle of
France, thence to proceed to the southern extremity of Van
Diemen's Land, visit Dentrecasteaux's Channel, examine the
eastern coast, enter the Strait of Bass through that of Banks,
complete the discovery of Hunter's Islands, survey the south-
west coast of New Holland, penetrate behind the islands of
St. Peter and St. Francis, and visit that part of the continent
concealed by these islands, where a strait was supposed to
exist by which a communication might be opened with the
great Gulf of Carpentaria. This being accomplished, they
were to direct their course to Cape Leuwen, examine the
unknown parts of the coast to the northward, visit the coasts
of the land of Edels and Endracht, make a particular survey
of the island of Rottenest and Shark's Bay, terminating their
first command at the North-West Cape of New Holland.
The expedition was directed to winter either at Timor or
Amboyna ; and on their second expedition they were directed
to go through Endeavour Strait to the eastern point of the
great Gulf of Carpentaria, to survey the whole circuit of its
coast to the land of Arnheim, finishing their second survey at
the North-West Cape, at which their first was completed. It
will thus be gathered that the real object of the French was
to explore thoroughly the island-continent of Australia, and
not go round the world.

The idea of a trans-Pacific colony had seized upon the great
Napoleon, and, at the very moment when he was crossing the
Alps he gave the order for this expedition. There was no
lack of zeal amongst the French, and no want of volunteers.
Captain Baudin's expedition was brought forward in the first
instance under the immediate sanction of Buonaparte in con-
sequence of a report of the French Imperial Institute. This
Institute, it may be noticed, attached at this early date a
vast importance to the nascent colony in New South Wales,
noticing that the English had ' formed establishments which
excite the greatest interest, of which we in Europe have

152 British Colonisation

received hitherto but imperfect and invariably false informa-
tion/ 1 Captain Baudin carried out his instructions as a patriotic
Frenchman, renaming many places, such as the North-West
Cape, to which he gave the name of Cape Murat, and calling
nine hundred leagues of coast ' Terre Napoleon,' along which
Nuyts, Vancouver, Dentrecasteaux, Flinders, Bass, and Grant
had made discoveries. It was evident that the French, even
if they could not effect the planting of a colony here in the
extended sense of the word, were anxious to occupy and
create an Australian Pondicherry which should be a thorn in
the side of the British.

Online LibraryWilliam Henry Parr GreswellOutlines of British colonisation → online text (page 13 of 31)