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The New Zealand Journal, Saturday, March 21 (1840)



The Colony of Western Australia: a Manual for Emigrants to that Settlement or its Dependencies, &c. By Nathaniel Ogle, F. G. S. &c. &c. London: James Fraser, Regent-street. 1839.
A very full collection of all the facts relating to a Colony but imperfectly known, and—owing to its having been the theatre of a notable blunder in colonization—not a little misrepresented, is in itself an acceptable contribution to our colonial literature. Mr. Ogle's object seems to have been to leave nothing respecting Western Australia unrecorded, and until we fell in with his book we could not have supposed so much matter could have been collected relating to the Colony. But there it is—a goodly volume of some 360 pages, bearing witness to the author's diligence as a collector of facts, but displaying less discrimination than we could have wished. Now-a-days that one must read so much, it is desirable to have information presented to us in a digested shape. Great diffuseness is a great evil, but we would rather have an indiscriminate collection of facts than none at all, and Mr. Ogle's book assuredly fills up a gap in our colonial library.
The position and extent of Western Australia—better known, perhaps, as the Colonies of Swan and Canning rivers—are stated in the following extracts, rendered perfectly intelligible by consulting the very excellent map which accompanies the work, or any other map within the reader's reach.
"The Colony of Western Australia, as defined by her Majesty's Commission, includes all that portion of New Holland, which is situated to the westward of the 129° of longitude, its greatest length is therefore 1280 miles from north to south, and 800 miles from east to west."p. 10.
* * *
This colony of Western Australia, is in a position highly advantageous, whether considered in relation to Europe, or to Asia. It is nearer by one month's voyage to the former than Sydney, and only twenty-five days' sail from Madras; and when steam communication has been established, less than half that time will he necessary to convey the exhausted Europeans from the enervating climate of Hindostan, to the the invigorating and healthful air of Western Australia; also those productions of the east which may be in demand. So healthful a climate will constitute a home for the wives and children of those whose avocations require their attendance in Hindostan, and who will become profitable consumers to the colony."p. 18.
In point of soil Western Australia certainly betrays no inferiority over the other Colonies of Australia; but it seems to want that teeming richness which well-wooded and well-watered countries invariably exhibit. Australia always gives us the conception of a country in a state of incomplete formation; it seems to want what the German geologists call an up-heaving to render it abundantly fertile. A volcano or an earthquake, or both, creating an inequality of surface; would complete the fertility of the country.
Speaking of the soil of Western Australia, Mr. Ogle says:—
"The surface seems to consist of substances technically called earths, in contradistinction to soils. The moist grounds alone are composed of that soil which is of vegetable origin. The dryness of the climate, the summer conflagrations, and the total want of the aid of man, prevent that accumulation of soil which constitutes richness. The climate, of which hereafter we shall speak at length, compensates for the want of that richness which too often is attended with insalubrity—a climate which brings to perfection, even on the sandy surface near the water—an abundance of trees, shrubs, and grapes, on which the cattle thrive; and which, with some aid from man, produces in luxuriant profusion and high perfection, nearly all the year round, every esculent vegetable which the most highly cultivated gardens of this country can boast, after expence, anxiety, and toil. The alluvial flats bear admirable crops of wheat, barley, oats, peas, Indian wheat, potatoes, and every other grain, without any assistance from manure, and the husbandman can reckon so securely on the Ausonian climate, that he is never in anxiety lest the rains of heaven should saturate his crop before it is garnished, or the mildew corrode, and, like hope deferred, leave him sick at heart, while witnessing a destruction neither skill nor activity can retard. The red loam, which is generally on the high ground near the banks of rivers, produces the same crops, but require manure. On good surfaces, sixteen different kinds of grasses are found; among them the kangaroo grass is conspicuous. When treating of the productions of the country in detail, the indigenous and introduced plants, animals, birds, &c., will be more minutely enumerated.—p. 25.
Of the climate of Western Australia Mr. Ogle speaks in the highest terms. He says:—
"By the unanimous testimony of every writer and every traveller, the climate of Western Australia is equal, if not superior, to any on the habitable globe. The English language has been taxed to the utmost, for epithets of admiration, to convey the opinions of various writers. The medical reports coincide in stating, that the diseases incident to childhood seem, for the most part, eradicated; and those few which remain are modified so as to give no cause for alarm. Dyspepsia, and other affections of the digestive organs, give way to the genial effects of climate. Asthma, bronchial affections, tendency to consumption, and all the insidious pulmonary diseases, seem to vanish as by an enchanter's wand, and change the delicate convalescent into the robust and healthful creature. No woman, at the date of Mr. Milligan's valuable report, had died of childbirth in the Colony; and the general health of women is improved by the dry and elastic air. All rheumatic affections are mitigated and cured; while the 'cold and melancholy damp,' which weighs the spirits down as age steals on, seems to have attained no footing in that land of warmth and breezy freshness. Even the troops, being few in number, were harassed by perpetual duty, and brought, by the fatigue of marching throughout the day under a powerful sun, into that physical state which is most susceptible of disease; and they were exposed to the rainy season, and the influences of the night air, and yet none were invalided."—p. 25.
A country thus favourably circumstanced as to soil and climate, wants but an energetic population established on sound principles of colonization to enable it to rise in the scale of British Colonies. The great curse of the old Australian Colonies, conviction, does not there exist: and we are glad to perceive Mr. Ogle unites his voice with those of the enemies of transportation in condemning that odious system.
"Western Australia,"he says,"is happily without the taint of a penal Colony. No convict has ever been landed there; and the great distance from the penal settlements renders it impossible that even any who have escaped into the bush, could reach the confines of the district."—p. 43.
"No polluting example derived from convict servitude or society exists; for no convict can be transported thither. Western Australia can never be made a penal settlement; and, from its first foundation to the present date, (August 1838) the law has not found occasion to execute sentence of death upon any individual.'
"Even the small number of offences committed against the laws, the greater portion has originated among those who have come to this Colony from the neighbouring penal settlement.
"Civil actions have decreased in number to one-half of their former amount within the past year, notwithstanding that the redress of injuries
has been rendered less expensive, in minor cases, by the reduction of fees."—Sir James Stirling's last Report, p. 84.
Guarded, then, from conviction, we can readily conceive that the state of society in Western Australia is good; but not so good as the principles of colonization pursued in establishing South Australia and New Zealand have a tendency to produce. Without that guarantee for the preservation of the due proportion between land capital and labour which the Wakefield principles furnish, society, in the enlarged sense of the word, must be incomplete. There may be dinner-giving and dancing, and so forth, but society in its best state cannot exist. In the following passage Mr. Ogle, we apprehend, uses the term society in a sense somewhat better than its ordinary acceptation:—
"In point of society, the settlement of Western Australia stands preeminent. The higher order consists of families well born and well educated, and many of them men of rank in the army and navy. The elegancies of life are sedulously cultivated by them, and constitute a distinguished feature in their intercourse. With taste and judgment they have formed associations corresponding with similar establishments in their native country, and which tend to accumulate and dispense the best information. In the sequel, it will be necessary to refer to their agricultural, commercial, botanical, and literary institutions; as their records unquestionably contain the best information on subjects connected with the colony. The same accomplishments which here add so great a charm to female society, are made a part of education there; and music, drawing, and general information, are matters of routine. All the writers agree in their accounts of the moral courage and unmurmuring perseverance, under great privations, of the women who encountered the difficulties entailed on the earliest settlers; and all equally agree in the great influence their noble and endearing conduct has, and must continue to have, on the community at large; and all are lavish in their praises of the manner in which they have assumed their new duties, without derogating from the habits and manners of their former life."—p. 83.
We had intended to expatiate at some length on those parts of Mr. Ogle's work which relate to the principles of colonization, but our extracts have already extended to a sufficient length to warn us to close our notice. We must remark, however, that Mr. Ogle does not appear to us to have examined the principles of colonization with that care which the public have a right to expect from a writer on an Australian Colony. He seems scarcely to have made up his mind whether to approve or condemn the new principles, and he shows that his conception of them is vague and undefined, by speaking of them as having been recommended by Dr. Lang and tried in New South Wales long ago, and by stating that"the praise bestowed on Mr."Wakefield for the discovery seems misplaced, for it is self-evident, and must have been in practice from time immemorial."In practice from time immemorial! It is a pity Mr. Ogle did not tell us where.
It has always appeared to us, that the"Letter from Sydney,"published in 1829, enunciated principles entirely new to the political economist; and that it was only after the most persevering efforts, that an opportunity of applying them was obtained.
Some Account of the Falkland Islands, from a six Months' Residence in 1838 and 1839. By L. B. Mackinnon, E.N., first mate of H.M. cutter Arrow. London: A. H. Baily and Co. 1840.
It would perhaps be difficult to find a country which does not contain attractions for some people,—which is in fact destitute of some feature calculated to influence the choice of some out of the many whom circumstances compel to cast about for the discovery of a new home.
Among the numerous emigration-fields which have recently been opened out to British enterprise, we may mention the Falkland Island group, to promote the colonization of which, a society has been formed in London, and perhaps with a similar view this little book was written.
For the ordinary purposes of colonization—cultivation, and production—a more eligible spot might be chosen; but as a commercial station, the islands rank extremely high. Situated as far from the equator as 52deg;. 45min., and making the usually allowed correction of seven degrees for the difference between the northern and southern hemisphere, the climate is of course much colder than in any part of England. It is however good, and not unlike that of Scotland.
The group consists of two large islands, called, from their relative position, East and West Islands, and 88 small islets, on some of which there is scarcely standing room. East Island is about 130 miles long, and from 35 to 80 broad, West Island is 100 miles long, and about 50 broad. They are separated from each other by Falkland Sound, a channel of twelve miles broad, but too shallow for the purpose of ship navigation.
The Falkland Islands are admirably situated for trade, and with that view they have often engaged the attention of European powers. The French and English, it is well known, formerly attempted their occupation, but Spain, then mistress of South America, would not brook a hostile neighbour frowning upon her shores, and very prudently, and just as we should have done under similar circumstances, opposed all such attempts. Many of our readers have doubtless read Johnson's account of the expulsion of Captain Maltby in 1770, and the controversy to which it gave rise. That controversy, in which, be it remembered, Junius took part, led to the abandonment of the islands by the English, whilst the Spanish Government mollified our pride by a sort of apologetic disavowal of the conduct of its officer. Recently, however, a port has been established on the Eastern Island, and in 1838, the Arrow cutter was despatched thither to survey the coasts and harbours.
From the geological character of the islands, it would not appear that the soil la very good. There are no large timber trees to be found, but there is abundant food for numerous herds of wild cattle, in the Eastern Island. These Mr. Mackinnon describes as follows:—
"The wild cattle are certainly magnificent animals, and numerous in the East Island. They are rapidly increasing, now that foreigners and marauders are kept off, although there is still a disproportionate number of bulls. It is very singular, that on the north side of this island, as far as Port Pleasant, the cattle are generally of a dark colour, some bulls being of the most jetty black, with long shaggy hair about the head and neck: to the southward they get lighter and lighter: until, at the extreme south, at times, you meet with whole herds of a beautiful white colour. The bulls are much larger in proportion to the cows: some of them seem of a different breed, from the great height and development of the shoulder and comparatively low quarters; these we generally found very cunning and ferocious, and most dangerous to attack.
"From the collective opinions of Mr. Sulivan, the Capatoz of the Gauchos, and my own observation, I should think that thirty thousand head would be a moderate computation of their numbers, nearly one-third of which are bulls. The wild horses never leave the north side of the island, which is most singular, as there is no obstruction: it has never been satisfactorily accounted for. They are excessively shy and timorous to a party; but Captain Fitzroy observes, that they will form a circle round a single man and prance upon him: however, a musket will readily disperse them. Their average height is about fourteen hands two inches, lighter built than the generality of South American horses, with no great powers of endurance, and sadly cow-hocked or cat-hammed; but to make some amends, they are as active as cats, and have very well-shaped fore-legs, the fore-arm long, muscular, and strong, a short fiat shank, with well-bent postern."—p. 24. 25.
The following severe method of breaking a horse will remind many of our readers of some of Head's Pampas stories:—
"I cannot here forbear mentioning a story of one of the Falkland stallions told me by Corinet (a Patagonian Indian, acting as a Gaucho,) as we were exploring together. The horse I was then riding, called Teniente, had been captured, some years ago, during Don Louis Vernet's government, but was found so vicious, ferocious, and cunning, that not even one of the Gauchos could manage him. After having resorted to every method they could think of to subdue him, it was proposed (this Corinet told me with a chuckle) by himself to take the animal some miles into the interior and fasten him to a wild bull's horns. This, with the assistance of two or three lassos, was soon done; and the poor brute's tail was securely lashed with thongs of hide to the horns of the wildest in the flock. The Gauchos immediately returned home, highly delighted with their exploit The next morning, on getting up, the first thing they saw was poor Teniente with his head hanging down, looking very miserable and distressed, standing at the craal gate; he had killed the bull, whose skull was found completely beaten in. Teniente's heart was broken: he never even pretended to vice afterwards."—p. 26.
The following account of wild bull taming makes a fitting companion to the foregoing:—
"After a delicate and hasty breakfast of half raw beef, from the cow of last night, we commenced retracing our steps, to collect our game of yesterday. On coming up to the nearest, or last caught one, the Capatoz dismounted, cut off his tail (a fine three-year old bull), then produced a little saw, and sawed off his horns; he then took the ring end of the lasso and belaboured the poor brute. I thought he would have been killed, crying out all the time, `Beulter tauro,' (turn bull) `beulter.' and `entrons,' (enter.) After this ceremony, we formed a ring, our horses heads towards him, the Capatoz making a slip hitch of his lasso, vaulted on his horse's back, and freed the bull. The bull shook himself, roaring with rage, stared round him for a moment, and charged the nearest horse. He appeared well up to it, however, for he remained perfectly quiet, with his ears back, until the bull was quite close to his heels, when, lifting them with remarkable dexterity, he upset the bull in a crack. The poor beast tried this on with several of us, with the same success; and, as a last resource, ran and took shelter with the tame oxen. We then formed round them, the Capatoz leading the way, and repeated the same ceremony to all. They seemed after this treatment to be completely cowed, and rarely attempted to break away. Some were so cramped by thus lying so long in one position, as to render it necessary to kill them; some would be obstinate, and refuse to rise, even after their ears and tail had been horribly mangled; and one, a hull, submitted to the most cruel torture without moving; the Gaucho, in rage, plunged his knife into his heart. Of the thirty-three lashed the day before, not twenty reached the craal. Several of the horses were also disabled, and two killed outright."—p. 49-50.
We had almost omitted to mention that these wild horses and cattle are the descendants of the original stock left there by De Bougainville and the small French Colony which he conducted or governed. The great multiplication of these animals, which, be it observed, have been for many years subject to the attacks of the crews of the vessels which have touched there for emphatically cheap supplies, is a proof that the islands are a fine grazing country. This is a feature which a well organised and industrious Colony would turn to admirable account. Under good management the Falkland Islands may perhaps become an extensive victualling station, drawing supplies, not merely from the internal sources above described, but also from the adjacent shores of the South American Continent.
Mr. Mackinnon's little book is full of pleasing aneedotes, of which the above may serve as a sample. A spirit of adventure runs through every page, and if the author fails to show that the islands he describes are a modern elysium, his work will, at all events, remove many erroneous impressions.

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