Henry Berkeley Jones

from The Spectator, 15 October 1853, commenting on Jones' book Adventures in Australia, 1852 & 1853 (Richard Bentley 1853), with extended quotations

The adventures of Mr. Jones in Australia were limited to some excursions in the Moreton Bay district and a residence at Sydney. His volume, however, is a fresh, readable, informing, and portrait-like account of the country and the people, especially the emigrants. For these qualities the author is indebted to his own nature, which is quick, observing, and more cultivated than that of many colonial explorers, as well as to his profession as a clergyman, which gave him a subject for inquiry in the religious and educational state of the colony. Another source of the interest in Mr. Jones's book arises from the writer's position: he was professionally attached to the Government emigration-ship the Maria Soames; which brought him into close connexion with the emigrants on the voyage, and some of them were not lost sight of in the colony.

Of the management of his own ship Mr. Jones speaks in high terms and he considers that the other vessels are now properly superintended; but emigrants are sometimes shipped to the wrong place,—thus the Maria Soames carried out a man to the Brisbane, who applied to be sent to Swan River. The behaviour of the emigrants on board was good; their conduct on arriving not so laudable. They had indulged in expectations absurdly high as regarded wages and their own accomplishments. In fact, the emigrants generally are very far from the best of their, class at home; persons whom their parish, or whatever the relation may be, wish to get rid of. This was a sample from the Irish portion of his flock:
Not only do they ask the most preposterous rate of wages, but undertake what they are profoundly ignorant of. This unfitness the residents complained of loudly, and really most justly. One Irish girl had engaged herself as a general house-servant, to cook and wash being her principal occupations. She had not the slightest idea of either. Where she had lived we know not; but she barely knew how to boil potatoes, and could not read the clock. The bread she made might have been used to bombard Gibraltar, for harder could not have been compounded for cannon-balls. She dressed one day a fowl, which appeared as if it had expired by some horrid torture, or else had been attacked by convulsions of the most malignant kind, and died in a state of rigid collapse, its legs and wings sticking out in all directions: yet this young woman was hired at the rate of sixteen pounds per annum. The writer had also a speci men of her talents as a washerwoman, which were not more brilliant than her accomplishments as a culinary artiste.

There appear some matrimonial prospects for female emigrants in the colony; but it seems necessary to strike while the iron is hot:
They all have a great aversion to going up. the country into the bush, and this they often individually expressed during the. voyage. One poor girl, who appeared to belong to a more respectable class than the emigrants ordinarily come from, wept bitterly at the idea of having engaged to go into the interior. Subsequently the writer heard that she was married to a thriving well-conducted man ...
This reminds us of a case which occurred with another female. A settler, of sober age, heard that an emigrant-ship had come into Moreton Bay; and, being well to do, like a sensible man he determined to have an helpmate to sweeten his success. He therefore came down with three hundred pounds to show his substantial wealth, with the full determination to return with 'a cara sposa'. He selected one of good personal appearance, a fine healthy young woman, among the best-conducted in the ship, and offered her his hand and heart and all his store. She very prudently, not prudishly, requested a fortnight's consideration, to ascertain something about his habits and character. It was so completely a 'mariage de convenance' that passion had not blinded judgment; the love was not sufficiently impulsive. To this he made no objection, though he urged less delay. He went across the river to North Brisbane, and related his success to the landlady of his hotel, accompanied with regrets that it could not be done at once, as he wished to get home. She replied, he need not fret about it at all; for she knew two young girls, one of whom she knew would suit him very well. He had only to go and smarten himself up, and get a new suit of clothes and he was tidy enough for any young woman in the colony. Taking her advice, he met these candidates; though, to the honour of the sex, it must be added they were quite ignorant of the cause to which their invitation to supper was to be attributed. He made a selection at once, not being in the perplexity in which the late Sir Robert Peel found himself even after having consulted Hansard—the not being prepared to say which of two courses he should adopt. Our emigrant lost a fortune and a husband. However, she subsequently married; a boatman; a union not so much approved of by her family as would have been the one with the rich old bachelor.

Mr. Jones favours the transportation system judiciously carried out; that is, model prison convicts sent to the younger Australian Colonies, which want and are willing to receive them. His picture of the 'old hands' is not of a very attractive kind either as regards morals or industry. Here is the cycle of a freed man:
Suddenly we dropt on a shepherd with his flock—as suddenly and as mysteriously as the 'man in the moon' did into Aylesbury when Calvert was unseated—tending fifteen hundred sheep. He was what is called a 'lag', i. e. a transported felon, and a very old hand, then free; he had lost by ophthalmia the sight of an eye, and was lame of a leg  notwithstanding these natural defects, be made an excellent shepherd, and had—a very rare exception to his class—saved some money. Generally, even now, but not so much the case as formerly, the men come down to the nearest public-house or township, and there squander away in a few days the earnings of a whole year; placing the amount in the hands of the landlord, and requesting him to keep it until he has drunk it all out: of course he does not get the whole value of what he thus deposits, and better for him that he should not. When he is told that the sum is expended, he starts again to live a life of solitude and monotony in the bush, far away from society and its humanizing influences, provided he has not first to recover from an attack of 'delirium tremens', or what he calls 'the horrors', from the dreadful spectres his stimulated brain conjures up before his eyes.

It is said that men of all sorts may be found in a regiment or a man of war. Perhaps the police force may exhibit the same con gregation of failures, and loose fish fallen from their high estate. A colony would appear to contain men of the same stamp. Mr. Jones fell in with several: here is an Oxford man practically pastoral:
We met here an Oxford man, who had taken a good degree at the University, but was now acting as a superintendent and engaged in sheep-washing: be had gone wrong, it was reported, through disappointment in love; and, although one who had drawn deeply from the altar of the blue-eyed goddess of Wisdom, had sought refuge at the shrine of Bacchus. What a state for a man of cultivated and classical mind to be reduced to! My friend told me, in colonial parlance, be was a dreadful 'Iushington'; a term com- monly applied to a person who is addicted to drink. Nevertheless, he appeared to be an accomplished person, and an agreeable companion. But of such examples there are numbers in the bush; a condition brought on by their own heedlessness and folly—'their sin has found them out'.  We could not help feeling pity for this victim of a hopeless passion: how different, perhaps distinguished and happy, might have been his career, had he summoned fortitude to combat against defeat, or been fortunate in his projects. We regarded him with very different sentiments to those excited by the quondam man of fashion, whom we could only laugh at and despise.

Sam Slick and other humourists have made the refinement of the Americans in language and ideas familiar enough: at Sydney they are even more delicate—'Shame, when it flies from the heart, takes refuge on the lips'.
There are flower-shows in Sydney. The curator of the garden, Mr. Moore, an intelligent and well-informed Scotchman, delivers during the year a course of lectures, which the public are invited to attend: but some over-prudish persons object to the presence of young people, because the lecturer must descant upon the sexes of plants. So this interesting study of Nature is to be neglected because her laws must be explained. We hope that this false delicacy may wear out, with the gradual enlightenment of the age in which we live.

As a contrast to 'this false delicacy', a glance may be taken at the state of morals in the capital, and of language generally among the rustic swains:
Lord Shaftesbury had stated in public, that Sydney was one of the most wicked and dissipated cities in the world. His Excellency Sir C. Fitzroy called him to account for this statement. It was alleged in defence, that it was not worse than any other maritime or garrison town of like size; that the decencies of society were not more openly violated than is ordinarily the case ender similar conditions. This, we believe, is the truth; but the general tone of morals, although not offensively conspicuous in broad daylight, is, we fear, very low; at least so we were informed by persons likely to be well acquainted with the subject, and competent to draw just conclusions. Drunkeness and immorality are rife; and in the trading there is too much of what iis called 'colonial experience' and 'pointing', too Yankee and York shire. Absolute frauds have been practised on London houses. Advances were obtained by a Jew upon what was represented to be a cargo of tallow; into the casks had been introduced a tube of a few inches in diameter through which the probe might be inserted to discover its quality, the tester little dreaming that the rest of the cask was filled with rubbish; this was not detected until it reached the consignees. A more recent fraud was perpetrated in the sale of a gold-field in shares, by false representations, to the amount of forty thousand pounds ... Of the language in Australia among the labouring classes the reader can form no conception; the colony in this respect has gained a most disgraceful and unenviable notoriety. Such swearing, cursing, and obscenity, were never equalled by anything which you may have accidentally heard—surpassed would be impossible. The custom is so habitual, that we believe many are unconscious of its use. This disgraceful and profane habit seems to have descended from the early convicts. One of our emigrants, a plain, steady countryman, said he was quite shocked at it: but for this he would have liked the country and the bush well enough, as he had good wages and plenty to eat, and a good hut to lie in.

Mr. Jones has several chapters on the Gold-Diggings; chiefly condensed from imparted information, for he did not visit them himself. The advice is sound, and the facts are striking, as regards the hard work necessary to succeed, and the lawless condition of the neighbourhood of the Diggings, especially in Victoria, from gangs of old convicts. Neither the advice nor the facts are altogether new, except perhaps as regards the frauds perpetrated in connexion with the gold-deposits and gold-dealing. With one of these last the 'workshop of the world' is not very creditably connected.
But a fraud of a much more serious character has been discovered—viz. the adulteration of gold with twenty per cent of copper, or, as is stated in evidence at the Police Court in Melbourne, with Muntz metal. Advices had previously come out that spurious nuggets and gold-dust had been extensively manufactured in Birmingham either to be sold to gold-buyers, or else for the purpose of 'peppering' or 'salting' claims for fraudulent sale on the Diggings. The principals sent out to their agents in the colony the strongest acids and hardest stones to try the gold with; but the spurious metal was so well and strongly gilded as to resist the usual tests ordinarily applied. The writer, when present at Mr. John Cohen's gold-sales, saw some of this factitious metal, of the form of shot, in which form pure gold is found, with a slight pellicle hanging to it: but it was agreed on by all present that the imitation was most ingeniously contrived; and when acids were applied by Mr. Hall, a jeweller and purchaser for the banks, the metal was found not to be acted upon. The extent to which this fraud may have been carried on, and with what degree of success, is unknown, and will remain so until advices are received from home. The loss to some will, no doubt, be a very serious matter.

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