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Art. I.-Two Years in New South Wales ; a Series of Letters,
comprising Sketches of the actual State of Society in that Colony; of its peculiar Advantages to Emigrants ; of its Topography, Natural History, 8c., 8c. By P. Cunningham, Sur
geon, R.N. 2 vols. 12mo. London. 1827. THE days are gone by when an author, to beget the serious
attention of his readers, deemed it a matter of indispensable necessity to procure the meretricious aid of 'laudatory epistles,' or commendatory verses,' from his very good friends and patrons. All that an author of the present time feels himself called on to do, is to state, in a brief preface, his claims to be considered competent to the task he has undertaken. Mr. P. Cunningham has modestly and satisfactorily acquitted himself of this duty: he has, it seems, made no less than four voyages to New South Wales, as surgeon-superintendant of convict ships, in which were transported upwards of six hundred convicts of both sexes, -whom he saw landed at Sydney without the loss of one single individual ;a fact of itself quite sufficient to attest his judgment and ability in the treatment and management of a set of beings not easily kept in order. He has besides resided two years, at occasional intervals, in the colony, and has travelled over a considerable portion of it; he has enjoyed, he tells us, the society of the most thriving and respectable inhabitants of Sydney ;-and, lastly, he has had the fortune to be brought into contact, in a variety of ways, with the aboriginal natives.
With such opportunities of acquiring knowledge, and the talent of observation which he obviously possesses, it would have been difficult for Mr. Cunningham to produce any other than an amusing and instructive book.
We do not pretend to say that the perusal of his performance has added much to the knowledge of this colony which we had previously obtained from Commissioner Bigge's reports, and Wentworth's recent volumes ; but the information is conveyed in a more agreeable manner than in either of those collections, and in somewhat better taste than the latter of these gentlemen has thought proper to adopt:-not that we think there is much to be said in favour of Mr. Cunningham's style, which constantly sins against good taste and the sober march of narrative, by the too frequent VOL. XXXVII. NO, LXXIII.
introduction of low and vulgar phrases, hackneyed terms of the ' fancy,' and coarse attempts at wit, not much calculated to please the generality of his readers, however indulgent they may wish to be in granting every allowance for the license of epistolary correspondence.
Our first impression was, and a more attentive perusal has not removed it, that Mr. Cunningham has rather overrated the beauties and advantages of this southern paradise, which ' a receptacle proves to spirits foul,’ in assigning to it the palm of superiority over the United States of America and the Canadas, as an eligible asylum for an agricultural emigrant.' The reasons which he gives for this predilection are, that in North America there is no unlocated ground to be obtained within a thousand miles of the sea-coast; that wherever land is obtained, it must be purchased; that its produce must be sent by land and water-carriage from one to two thousand miles, before it reaches the place of exportation : while, on the other hand, in New South Wales, abundance of land may be had within from fifty to a hundred and fifty miles of the coast, upon terms neither irksome nor burdensome, Upon which we may observe that, if Mr. Cunningham had been as well acquainted with the British possessions in North America as he is with those in New South Wales, he would have known that, instead of a thousand miles from the sea, better land than any yet discovered in his favourite regions may be had on the coasts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and the shores of the gulf and river of St. Lawrence, within one-tenth or even one-twentieth part of that distance, and on terms quite as easy as those he has so zealously extolled for their moderation.
Then, again, in America the forests are so dense that a cart can hardly pass them, while in New South Wales the land is so thinly timbered, that a carriage may be driven over it in all directions. This, no doubt, is an advantage for the new settler. In America, cattle require to be supported, in the winter, on hay; whilst the climate of New South Wales is so mild, that they may be fed through the whole of that season on the native grasses: and here too, we admit, is another advantage in favour of New South Wales. In America, moreover, labourers are so scarce, labour so dear, and agricultural products so low in price, that the settler, to obtain a moderate profit for the outlay of capital, must perform all the field-labour by his own hands and those of his family; whereas, in New South Wales, labourers are plentiful and labour cheap. In addition to all those advantages, (and, perhaps, more important,) the healthiness of the climate of New South Wales is so remarkable, that there is no danger either of measles, hooping-cough, small-pox, ague, remittent fever, or, indeed, as our
author informs us, of any fever but the rum fever. Here, certainly, if the statement could be literally relied on, would be advantages which neither America nor Europe herself can match.
Mr. Cunningham would, perhaps, have come nearer the truth had he confined his comparative statement to New South Wales and the United States. On the sea-coast of Brother Jonathan,
the table is full ;' the new settler has very little chance of a location' within a thousand miles of the sea-coast, and when he gets it, he is liable to the various inconveniences reckoned up by Mr. Cunningham, fevers and agues not being accounted among the least. Either country has its peculiar advantages; and were we to enter upon the interminable question of emigration, which we have no intention of doing here, we should say
that the one wbich is the easier of access to the settler, especially the poor emigrant, deserves his preference. In many respects the two countries may both be compared and contrasted with each other. Their original establishment, for instance, was pretty nearly modelled on the same plan. The sarcastic remark of a keen, but coarse and profligate writer, that the Adam and Eve of this new paradise came out of Newgate,' is more strictly applicable to the first parents of the Australian than to those of our American colonies. The original settlers of both had the advantage of carrying with them the language, the laws and institutions, the arts, and accumulated knowledge of the mother-country; but, at the same time, they also carried its worst vices. In most other respects, however, especially as regards geographical features, soil and natural productions, no two countries can be more dissimilar. In New South Wales we should look in vain for those noble rivers, those expansive lakes, and wide-spreading meadows, chequered with magnificent forests of the finest timber, which form the most remarkable features in the North American landscape. With regard to the relative aptness of the two regions for the residence and subsistence of man, this broad difference may be summed up in a few words; the former is most suited for agricultural, the latter for pastoral, purposes. On the supposition of these two distinctive characters being equally favourable to new settlers, the only advantage that we can discover New South Wales to possess, (and this, it must be allowed, is a great one,) lies in the dry and clear atmosphere, and its healthy climate : on the other hand, its great distance from the mother-country, and every part of the civilised world, operates as a most serious drawback even on this undoubted advantage over other and less remote parts of the world, which a changeable temperature, and a prevailing moist and foggy atmosphere, render subject to a variety of diseases. In two countries, whose mixed population is composed pretty
nearly of the same kind of materials, we may reasonably expect to find a great similarity of manners and feelings, especially in the early periods of their growth. Thus we are told by Mr. Cunningham, that the community of the capital of Sydney, flourishing as it is, continues to be torn by faction and party-feuds, kept up and inflamed by incendiary paragraphs, propagated in democratic newspapers, but it must be owned that the early settlers of the North American states were comparatively exempt from this pest. The two great conflicting classes in the Australian society are the voluntary emigrants, and their descendants, on the one side, and the emancipated convicts on the other; the former sometimes called illegitimates, (the law having nothing to do with their removal,) and the latter legitimates, (having legal reasons for their visit to the colony.) There is also a particular party among the emigrants known by the name of exclusionists, and another among the emancipists denominated confusionists. The nicest distinctions are made between these conflicting classes, who are, each of them, as tenacious of the assumed place they hold in society, as was the case in the early stages of some of our North American colonies, where the descendants of the mounted highwayman would have disdained to sit down at the same table with those of the footpad, who, on his part, would have treated with scorn the progeny of a common thief or pickpocket. This tenaciousness of maintaining their proper place in society is so inveterate, that even the sanctissima divitiarum majestas will not always prevail against it. It is as powerful in Sydney as in Jamaica, where the immaculate white man can never be reconciled to one, however wealthy, who has the faintest tinge of yellow in his cheek, or the mark of the beast upon him.* The pure emancipists, or those who have never been convicted of a crime in the colony, will not suffer an impure, or re-convicted emancipist, to associate with them. Mr. Cunningham has given a humorous example of this inveterate spirit of anti-amalgamation :
• At one of the public dinners of the emancipists pure some years back, a terrible fracas ensued from one of the proscribed inadvertently gaining admittance, who being assailed with a universal shout of “ Turn him out, turn him out!" forthwith squatted himself at the end of the table, and commenced upon his soup, skilfully intrenching his position by rolling the corner of the tablecloth round his hand, with a
* The offspring of a black and white, mixing through five generations, always with a white, will lose all traces of the negro, except a circular ridge round the root of the nails, and in another part of the body, which need not be mentioned: these are the 'marks of the beast.' The West Indian white cannot bear with temper to see this illustrated by mixing a glass of port wine or claret with water, and equal quantities of that and successive mixtures with water, five several times, after which the mixture becomes to all appearance pure water,