28th January 1836

Before we came to the Colony, the things about which I felt most interest were the state of Society amongst the higher & Convict classes, & the degree of attraction to emigrate. Of course after so very short a visit, one's opinion is worth little more than a conjecture; but it is as difficult not to form some opinion, as it is to form a correct judgment. On the whole, from what I heard more than from what I saw, I was disappointed in the state of Society. The whole community is rancorously divided into parties on almost every subject. Amongst those who from their station of life, ought to rank with the best, many live in such open profligacy, that respectable people cannot associate with them. There is much jealousy between the children of the rich emancipist & the free settlers; the former being pleased to consider honest men as interlopers. The whole population poor & rich are bent on acquiring wealth; the subject of wool & sheep grazing amongst the higher orders is of preponderant interest. The very low ebb of literature is strongly marked by the emptiness of the booksellers shops; these are inferior to the shops of the smaller country towns of England. There are some very serious drawbacks to the comforts of families, the chief of these is perhaps being surrounded by convict servants. How disgusting to be waited on by a man, who the day before was by your representation flogged for some trifling misdemeanour? The female servants are of course much worse; hence children acquire the use of the vilest expressions, & fortunately if not equally vile ideas. On the other hand, the capital of a person will without trouble produce him treble interest as compared to England: & with care he is sure to grow rich. The luxuries of life are in abundance, & very little dearer, as most articles of food are cheaper, than in England. The climate is splendid & most healthy, but to my mind its charms are lost by the uninviting aspect of the country. Settlers possess one great advantage in making use of their sons, when very young men from sixteen to twenty years of age, in taking charge of remote farming stations; this however must happen at the expence of their boys associating entirely with convict servants. I am not aware that the tone of Society has yet assumed any peculiar character; but with such habits & without intellectual pursuits, it can hardly fail to deteriorate. The balance of my opinion is such, that nothing but rather severe necessity should compel me to emigrate.

The rapid prosperity of this colony is to me, not understanding such subjects, very puzzling. The two main exports are Wool & Whale Oil, to both of which productions there is a limit. The country is totally unfit for Canals; therefore there is a not very distant line beyond which the land carriage of wool will not repay the expence of shearing & tending sheep: The pasture everywhere is so thin that already settlers have pushed far into the interior; moreover very far inland the country appears to become extremely poor. I have before said agriculture can never succeed on a very extended scale. So that, as far as I can see, Australia must ultimately depend upon being the centre of commerce for the Southern Hemisphere; & perhaps on her future Manufactories: from the habitable country extending along the coast, & from her English extraction she is sure to be a maritime nation: possessing coal, she always has the moving power at hand. I formerly imagined that Australia would rise into as grand & powerful a country as N. America, now it appears to me, as far as I can understand such subjects, that such future power & grandeur is very problematical.


Anonymous said...

Do you mean a man with a bad record will always be worthless? If a man is raised poverty is there no hope if given a chance to succeed in life?
Perhaps all this man needed was someone, anyone that would him that chance! Just think about it. If you have s good heart you help people. You teach your children in the way they should go. Hard work, family business, people you love, you show them the way. Many rich people help the poor and teach them as well. Perhaps their teachings are not broadcasted. Then, you would truly not know their intentions. Did you truly look and listen, I wonder!

Arborfield said...

Really amused by your comment. I didn't write this... it is Charles Darwin's Beagle Diary entry for the 28th January, 1836. I'm afraid you can't ask him.... he's no longer with us!