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Temperance Societies in the neighbourhood. I found it impossible to compass this labour, and efficiently to discharge the many other duties of
It is now purposed to give some deeply interesting cases.
The first is one of a member of this Society, a returned convict-a sweep. He is a very wellbehaved, reformed character, a remarkably quiet and inoffensive man, and has received great benefit from temperance. Said he:-
“When I was about twenty years of age I was a sweep, same as I am now. I used to go to the public-bouse very much, spending my earnings in drunkenness and dissipation, though I never, as you may say, went on like some on 'em does; but them places is ruination to anybody. So one night after we had been drinking, and I didn't know properly what I was after, some chaps as I was along with was for going after some carts. They know'd of some somewheres, they said, that stool in the open
air with nobody to mind 'em, in a court down by Gray's Inn Lane, it was. Well, I helped to drag this heré cart (worse luck) all the way up to Marrowbone you must know, sir, a nice job it was surely. I knows better now, thanks be to God. If I'd know'd then what I knows now it wouldn't have happened. Well, we was cotched, and they was werry severe then, so I took my trial at Newgate, and was sentenced to seven
years' transportation beyond the seas, and I was sent off along with a lot more convicts."
How forcibly does this remind us of the words of Cowper, alluding to such evil resorts :
'Tis here they learn
Shakes her encumbered lap, and casts them out.” Some time after reaching Sydney he was employed as a hut-keeper to one of the colonists. Subsequently to following this employment he became qualified to take the charge of a flock, and in the employment of several masters, (as a convict on ticket of leave,) traversed the country, he informed me, four hundred miles west of Sydney over the mountains.
The accounts this man has given me of Bush life, and incidents he met with at the Antipodes, are very interesting. Everything that relates to these rising and important colonies cannot fail to be so, but they would be out of place here. He encountered many dangers. The following is an account of a conflict with Bushrangers, which has a bearing on the subject of intemperance. Very probably but for the intoxicating drinks which those men risked their lives to obtain, they would never have become convicts or Bushrangers.
“Them Bushrangers," said he, “’scaped convicts, as takes to the Bush, is some on 'em terrible fellows. I never took
any harm from 'em though, but we had several scrimmages. Once we was coming down to Sydney with a dray load of wool; we'd just pitched a camp for the night, when some convicts or Bushrangers come on us. We hadn't only one old gun amongst the four on us. We didn't much mind about guns, sir. Well, I got the gun off the load, and we told 'em to keep their distance. We got sticks out of the cart, and had a set-to with them ; we wasn't going to give in without defending the property, you know, no how. So we laid on to one another, but there warn't no lives lost. When they seed we was determined, they made a parley ; we was all out of breath. They wanted to know how much bacca and rum we'd give 'em if they'd go. At last we settled with 'em, and gave 'em what they wanted, and glad to get rid on 'em with no harm done. Another time they driv our bullocks off in the night, and next day we found 'em miles off in a swamp hollow, and a man close by minding ’em; he made off though as soon as ever he ketched sight on us.”
An account he has given me of another convict, who murdered an overseer and took to the Bush, is very terrible. He lived in the woods, , and came armed to the huts to demand provisions for some time, but imagined he was continually haunted by the spirit of the man he had murdered. At last he delivered himself up to the authorities, declaring his life to be a burden. He was to be seen for days dogged, as he conceived, by the spectre of his victim, and escaping from tree to tree.
Much has been said respecting the conversion of the Australian natives and New Zealanders. The neglected population who leave our own shores as convicts, or free, constitute too generally, by reason of ungodliness, a lamentable hinderance to the evangelization of these aborigines. Instead of being “witnesses for the Lord” to these nations afar off, they lead the tribes, by their vicious conduct, to form a very low estimate of the Christian religion. In how many ways do a neglected home population prove a bane to the whole world. Amongst many accounts respecting the Australian blacks, with whom Mr. F. was much in contact, he mentioned the following:
“The hut-keepers and shepherds plays 'em up all sorts of tricks; it's none to their credit. I recollect one day having to go to a station about ten miles from ours for something ; there was a picanniny black fellar there; he might be about ten years old, I should suppose. The hut-keeper, a joking sort of a man, said he'd have a lark with the young black. His tribe was camped maybe seven or eight miles off, and one on 'em had died. Well, you must know, sir, there was some wheat a-drying on a blanket a little way off the hut, and a crow was a-feeding close by. The hut-keeper, he spoke to the crow, and asked him who he was, and then he mimicked as if the crow was a-answering, and made him say once he was a black fellar, mentioning his name, the one as was dead, and then he eat flour, but now he was a crow and eat the
The boy listened, and then started up, and away he flies ;, it warn't no use to persuade him it was a trick ; off he set, and perhaps if his tribe was eight miles off, he wouldn't
stop runnin' once till he reached 'em, they're such runners ; then he'd tell 'em the black was turned into a crow, and what he heerd, and they'd be sure to believe him, and it wouldn't be no use trying to beat it out on 'em when once they got hold of it.”
My poor friend, however, considered the hut. keeper was badly employed in teaching such absurdities to the blacks, and expressed his opinion that, if they were properly instructed, they might be Christianized; for, said he,
, “they're werry ingenious, and larns anything werry quick, only they're so lazy."
This person saved about one hundred pounds in Australia, and might, he stated, have saved much more.
He was unsettled on account of an acquaintance he had left in England, and “his old mother," and came home for the purpose of marry
, ing the one, and returning with both, I believe, to Australia. In a wine-house, at a port in Spain where he stopped, he lost all his money, and coming home penniless, found his female acquaintance and his mother both dead.
When the City Mission first occupied this district, he was found to be living unlawfully with a person, and was persuaded to marry. He was one of the earliest members of our Total Abstinence Society, but I cannot report him as con