Chapter 18339885

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Chapter NumberBOOK IV I
Chapter TitleExtracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North.) Bathurst, February the 11th, 1846.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article18339885
Full Date1876-01-01
Page Number9
Corrections0
Word Count5171
IllustratedN
Last Corrected0000-00-00
Newspaper TitleThe Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)
Trove TitleHis Natural Life
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BOOK IV.

CHAPTER I. Extracted from the Diary of the Rev. James North.) Bathurst, February the 11th, 1846.

IN turning over the pages of my journal to note the good fortune mat has just happened to me, I am struck by the utter desolation of my life for the last seven years.

Can it be possible that I, James North, the college hero, the poet, the prizeman, the heaven knows what else, have been content to live on at this dreary spot—an animal, eating and drinking, for to-morrow I die ? Yet it has been so. My world, that world of whioh I once dreamt so much, has been—here. My fame—which was to reach the ends of the earth—has penetrated to the neighboring stations. I am considered a "good preacher" by my sheep-feeding friends. It is kind of them. Yet, when now on the eve of leaving it, this soli* tary life of mine has not been without its charms. I have had my books and my thoughts, though at times the latter were but grim com panions. I have striven with my familiar sin, and have not always been worsted. Melancholy reflection. "Not always!" "But yet" is a gaoler to bring forth some monstrous malefactor. I vowed, however, that I would not cheat myself in this diary of mine, and I will not No evasions. No glosainga over of my own sins. This journal is my confessor, and I bare my heart to it. It is curious the pleasure I feel in set* ting down here in black and white these agonies and secret cravings of whioh I dare not speak. It is for the same reason, I suppose, that murderers make confession to dogs and cats, that people with something "on their mind" are given to thinkiug aloud, that the queen of Midas must needs whisper to the sedges the secret of her husband's infirmity. Outwardly lam a man of God, pious and grave and softly spoken. In wardly—what ? The mean, cowardly, weak sin ner that this book knows me. . . . Imp! I could tear you in pieces ! . . . One of these days I will. In the meantime, I will keep you under lock and key, and you shall hug my secrete close. No, old friend, with whom I have communed so long, forgive me, forgive me. You are to me instead of wife or priest I tell to your cold blue pages—how much was it I bought you for in Paramatta, rascal T—these stories, longings, remorses, which I would fain tell to human ear could I find a human being as discreet ss thou. It has been said that a man dare not write all his thoughts and deeds ; the words would blister the paper. Yet your sheets are smooth enough, you fat rogue! Our neighbors of Rome know human nature A man mutt confess. One reads of wretches who have carried secrets in their bosoms for years, and blurted them forth at last I, shut up here without companionship, without sympathy, without letters, cannot lock up my soul and feed on my own thoughts. They will out, and so I whisper them to thee. What art thou, thou tremendous power Who dost inhabit us without our foave, And art, within ourselves, another self, A master self that loves to domineer? What ; Conscience ? That is a word to frighten children. The conscience of each man is of his own making. My friend the shark toothed cannibal whom Staples brought in his whaler to Sydney would have found hu con f-ciencd reproach him sorely did he refuse to par take of the feasts ui.ule sacred by the customs of Lia ancestors. A spark of divinity ? The divi nity that, according to received doctriue, Bits apart, enthroned amid Bweet music, and leaven poor humanity to earn its condemnation an it may ? I'll have none of that—though I preach it One must soothe the vulgar senses of the people. Priesthood has its pious "frauds."

The Master spoke in parables. Wit? The wit that sees how ill-balanced are our actions and our aspirations ? The devilish wit born of our own brain, that sneers at us for our own fail ings ? Perhaps madness ? More likely, for there are few men who are not mad one hour of the waking twelve. If madness be the differing from the judgment of the majority of mankind In regard to familiar things, I suppose / am mad—or too wise. The speculation draws to hair splitting. James North, recall your early recklessness, your ruin, and your redemption ; bring your mind back to earth. Circumstances have made you what you are, and will shape jour deatiny for you without your interference. That's comfortably settled ! Now supposing—to take another canter on my night-mare—that man it the slave of cir eumstanee (a doctrine which I am not uninclined to believe, though unwilling to confess), what circumstance can have brought about the-jradden awakening of the powers that be to James North's fitness for duty ? " Hobart Town, Jan. 12th. "Dear North,—l have much pleasure in in* forming you that you can be appointed Protestant chaplain at Norfolk Island, if you like. It seems that they did not get on well with the last man, and when my advice was asked, I at one* recommended you for the office. The pay is small, but you have a house and so on. It is certainly better than Bathurst, and indeed is considered rather a prime in the clerical lottery. "Then U to be an investigation into affairs down there. Poor old Pratt—who went down, as you know, at the earnest solicitation of the Government—seems to have become absurdly leuient with the prisoners, and it is reported that the island is in a frightful state. Sir Kardley is looking out for some disciplinarian to take the place in hand. "In the meantime the chaplaincy was vacant, and I thought of you." I must consider this seeming fortune further. February 19th.—I accept. There is work to be done among those unhappy men that may be my purgation. The authorities shall hear me jet—though enquiry was stifled at Port Arthur. By the way, a Pharaoh has arisen who knows not Joseph. It is evident that the meddlesome parson who complained of men being flogged to death is forgotten. Like the men are ! How many ghosts must haunt the dismal loneliness of that prison shore! Poor Burgess is gone the waj of all flesh. I wonder if his spirit revisits the scenes of hip violences? I have written "poor" Burgess. It is strange how we pity a map that has gone out of this life. One's •unity is extinguished when one can but remember injuries. If a man had injured me, the fact of his living at all would be sufficient grounds for me to hate him, —if I had injured mm I should hate him still more. Is that the reason I hate myself at times—my greatest enemy and one whom I have injured beyond forgiveness. There are offences against one's own nature that are not to be forgiven. Isn't it Tacitus who says "the hatred of those most neatly related is most inveterate." But—l am taking flight again. February 27th, 11.80 p.m. — Nine Creeks Station. I like to be accurate in names, dates, Ac. Accuracy is a virtue. To exercise, then. Station ninety miles from Bathurst. I should say about 4,000 head of cattle. Luxury without refinement Plenty to eat, drink, and, yes— read. Hostess* name—Cam She is a well* preserved creature, about thirty-four yean of age I should say, and is a clever woman—not in in a poetical Byronio sense, but in the widest worldly acceptation of the term. At the same time, I should be sorry to be her husband. Women have no business with a brain like hers— that is, if they wish to be women and not sexual monsters. Mrs. Carr is not a lady, though she might have been one. I don't think she is a good woman either. It is possible, indeed, that she has known the factory before now. There Is a mystery about her, for I was informed myself that she was a Mrs. Purfoy, the widow of a whaling captain, and had married one of her assigned servants, who had deserted her five years ago, so soon as he obtained his freedom. A word or two at dinner set me thinking. She had received some English papers, and accounting for her pre-ooeupied manner, grimly said, "I think I have new* of my husband." I should not like to be in Carr's shoes if she Aa» news of him ! I don't think she would suffer indignity calmly. After all, what business is it of mine? I was beguiled into taking more wine at dinner than I needed. Confessor I—do you hear me ? But I will not allow myself to be earned away. You grin, jou fat familiar! So may I, but I shall be eaten with remorse to morrow. March 3rd.—A place called Jerrilang, where I have a head and a heartache. " One that hath let go himself from the hold and stay of reason, and lies open to the mercy of all temptations." March 20th.—Sydney. At Captain Frere's.— Seventeen days since I have opened you, beloved and detested companion of mine. I have more than half a mind to never open you again ! To read you is to recall to myself all I would most willingly forget; yet not to read you would be to forget all that which I should for my sins remember. The hut week has made a new man of me. I am no longer morose, despairing, and bitter, but genial and on good terms with fortune. It is Rtrauge that a mere accident should have in duced me to stay a week under the same roof with that vision of brightness which has haunted me bo long. A meeting iv the street, an intro duction, an invitation—the thing is done. These circumstances which form our fortunes are certainly curious things. I had thought never again to meet the bright young face to which I felt so strange an attraction—and lo ! here it is smiling on me daily. Captain Frere should be a happy man. Tet there seems a skeleton in this house also. That young wife by nature so lovable and so mirthful, ought not to have the sadness on her face that twice to-day has clouded it. He seems a passionate and boorish creature this wonderful convict discip plinarian. His convicts—poor devils—are doubt less disciplined enough. Charming little Sylvia, with your quaint wit and weird beauty, he is not good enough for you—and jet it was a love maeoh.

March 21st—I hare read family prayers every night since I have been here—my black coat and white tie gave me the natural pre-eminence in such matters—and I feel guilty every time I read. I wonder what the little lady of the devotional eyes would aay if aha knew that I wu a miserable hypocrite, preaching that which I did not practice, exhorting others to believe those marvels which my own heart laughs to scorn ? lam a coward not to throw off the taintly mask and appear aa a Freethinker. Yet, am I a coward ? I urge upon myself that it is for the glory of God 1 hold my peace. The scandal of a priest turned infidel would do more harm than the reign of reason would do good. Imagine this trustful woman for instance—she would suffer anguish at the thoughts of such a sin, though another were the sinner. "If any one offend one of these little ones it were better for him that a mill-stone be hanged about his neck and that he be cast into the sea." Tet truth is truth, and should be spoken—should it not, malignant monitor, who remindest me how often I fail to Bpeak it ? Surely among all his army of black-coats our worthy bishop must have some men like me, who cannot bring their reason to believe in things contrary to the experience of mankind and the laws of nature and physics. March 22nd.—This unrotnantic Captain Frere has bad some romantic incidents in his life, and he is fond of dilating upon them. It seems that in early life he expected to have been left a large fortune by an uncle who had quarrelled with his heir. But the uncle dies on the day fixed for the altering of the will, the son dis appears, and is thought to be drowned. The widow, however, steadfastly refuses to believe in any report of the young man's death, and having a life interest in the property, holds it against all comers. My poor host in consequence comes out here on his pay, and, three years ago, just as he U hoping that the death of his aunt may give him opportunity to enforce a claim m next of kin to tome portion of the property, the long lost son returns, is recognised by his mother and the trustees, and installed in due heirship! The other romantic story is connected with his marriage. He told me after dinner to-nipht, how his wife had been wrecked when a child, and how he hod saved her life, and defended her from the rude hands of an escaped convict—one of these monsters that our monstrous system breeds. "That was how we fell in love," said he, tossing off his wine complacently. "An auspicious opportunity," said I. To which he nodded. He is not overburdened with brains, I fancy. Let me see if I can set down some account of this lovely place and its people. A long low white house, surrounded by a blooming garden. Wide windows opening on a lawn. The ever glorious, ever changing sea beneath. It is evening. I am talking with Mrs. Frere, of theories of social reform, of picture galleries, of sunsets, and new books. There comes a sound of wheels on the graveL It is the magistrate returned from his convict* discipline. We hear him oome briskly up the steps, but we go on talking. (I fancy there was a time when the lady would have run to meet him.) He esters, coldly kisses his wife, and disturbs at once the current of our thoughts. "It has been hot to-day. What, still no letter from Head-quarters, Mr. North! I saw Mrs. Golightly in town, Sylvia, and she asked for you. There is to be a ball at Government House. We must go." Then he departs, and is heard in the distance indistinctly cursing because the water is not hot enough, or because Dawkina, his convict servant, has not brushed his trousers sufficiently. We resume our chat, but he returns all hungry, and bluff, and whisker brushed. "Dinner! Ha-ha! I'm ready for it North, take Mrs. Frere." By-and-by it is, "North, some sherry? Sylvia, the soup is ruined again. Did you go out to-day ? No V His eyebrows contract here, and I know he says inwardly, " Reading some trashy novel, I suppose." However, he grins, ana obligingly relates how the police have captured Cockatoo Bill, the noted bushranger. After dinner the disciplinarian and I converse —of dogs and hones, gamecocks, convicts, and moving accidents by flood and field. I remember old college feats, and strive to keep pace with him in the relation of athletics. What hypocrites we are !—for all the time I am longing to get to the drawing-room, and finish my criticism of the new poet, Mr. Tennyson, to Mrs. Frere. Frere does not read Tennyson—nor anybody else. Adjourned to the drawing-room, we chat— Mrs. Frere and I—until supper. (He eats supper.) She is a charming companion, and when I talk my best—l can talk, you must admit, O Familiar—her face lightens up with an interest I rarely see upon it at other times. I feel cooled and soothed by this companionship. The quiet refinement of this house, after bullocks and Bathurst, is like the shadow of a great rock in a weary land. Mrs. Frere seems about five-and-twenty. She is rather beneath the middle height, with a slight, girlish figure. This girlish appearance is enhanced by the fact that she has bright fair hair and blue eyes. Upon conversation with her, however, one sees that her face has lost much of that delicate plumpness which it probably owned in youth. She haa hod one child, born only to die. Her cheeks are thin, and her eyes have a tinge of Badness, which speak of some physical or mental grief. This thinness of face makes the eyes appear larger and the brow broader than they really are. Her hands are white and paiufwlly thin. They must have been plump and pretty once. Her lips are red with perpetual fever. Captain Frere Beems to have absorbed all his wife's vitality. (Who is it quotes the story of Lucius Claudius Hermippus, who lived to a great age by beiug constantly breathed on by young girls? I suppose Burton, who quotes every; thing.) In proportion aa she has (oat her vigor and youth, he has gained strength and hearti ness. Though he is at least forty years of age, he does not look more than thirty. His face is ruddy, his eyes bright, his voice firm and ringing. He must be a man of considerable strength and—l should say—of more than ordi nary animal courage and animal appetite. There is not a nerve in his body which does not twang like a piano wire. In appearance, he is tall, broad, and bluff, with red whiskers and reddish

hair, slightly touched with gr»y. His manner is loud, coarse, and imperious; hia talk of dogs, cocks, and convicts. What a strangely-mated pair! March 30th. —A letter from Van Diemen'a Land. "There i* a row in the pantry," says de la Vere, with hia accustomed slang. It seems that the Comptroller-General of Convicts has appointed a Mr. Pounce to go down and make a report on the state of Norfolk Island. lam to go down with him, and shall receive instructions to that effect from the Comptroller-General. I have informed Frero of this, and he has written to Pounce to come and stay on his way down. There has been nothing but convict discipline talked of since. Frere is great upon this point, and wearies me with his explanations of convict tricks and wickedness. He is celebrated for his knowledge of suoh matters. Detestable wisdom! His servants hate him, and yet they obey him without a murmur. I have observed that habitual criminals—like all savage beasts—cower before the man who has once mastered them. I should not be surprised if the Van Diemen'a Land Government selected Frere as their " dis ciplinarian." I hope they wont, and yet I hope they will. April 4th.—Nothing worth recording until to day. Eating, drinking, and sleeping. Despite my forty-seven years, I begin to feel almost like the James North who fought the bargee and took the gold medaL What a drink water is 1 The font Bandtuke tplendidior vitrto was better than all the Massic, Master Horace 1 I doubt if your celebrated liquor bottled when Manlius was consul could compare with it. But to my notable facts. I have found .out to-night two thing* which surprise me. One is that the convict who attempted the life of Mrs. Frere is none other than the unhappy man whom my fatal weakness caused to be flogged at Port Arthur, and whose face comes before me to reproach me even now. The other that Mrs. Carr is an old acquaintance of Frere's. The latter piece of information I obtained in a carious way. Sitting after Mrs. Frere had retired, we were talking of clever women. I broached my theory, that strong intellect in women went far to destroy their womanly nature. " Desire in man," said I, "should be Volition in woman; Reason, Intuition; Reverence, Devotion; Passion, Love. The woman should strike a lower key-note, but a sharper sound. Man has vigor of reason, woman quick ness of feeling. The woman who possesses masculine force of intellect is abnormal." He did but half comprehend me, I could see, but he agreed with the broad view of the ease. "I only knew one woman who was really ' strong minded,' as they call it," he said, " and she was a regular bad one." "It does not follow that she should be bad," said I. "This one was, though—stock, lock, and barrel. But as sharp as a needle, sir, and as immovable as a rook. A fine woman, too." I saw by the expression of the man's face that he owned ugly memories, and pressed him further. "She's up country somewhere," he said. "Married her assigned servant, I was told, a fellow named Carr. I haven't seen her for years, and don't know what she may be like now, but in the days when I knew her she was just what you describe." (Let it be noted that I had described nothing.) " She came out in the ship with me as maid to my wife's mother." It was on the tip of my tongue to say that I had met her, but I don't know what induced me to be silent There are passages in the lives of most men of Captain Frere's complexion whioh don't bear descanting on. I expect there has been in this case, for he changed the subject very abruptly as bis wife came in. Is it possible that these two creatures—the notable disci plinarian and the wife of the assigned servant— could have been more than friends in youth? Quite possible. He is the sort of man for gross amors. (A pretty way lam abusing my host!) And the full-bosomed supple woman with the dark eyes would have been just the creature to enthral him. Perhaps some such story as this may account in part for Mrs. Frere's sad looks. Why do I speculate on such things ? I seem to do violence to myself and to insult her by writing such suspicions. If I was a Flagellant now, I would don hair-shirt and up flail. '-' For this sort cometh not out but by prayer and fasting." April 7th.—Mrs. Pounce has arrived—full cf the importance of bis mission. He seems to walk with the air of a minister of State on the eve of a vacant garter, hoping, wondering, fearing, and dignified even in nil dubitancy. I am as flippant as a school-girl concerning this fatuous official, and yet—Heaven knows—l feel deeply enough the importance of the task he has before him. One relieves one's brain by these whirlings of one's mental limbs. I remember that a prisoner at Hobart Town, twice con demned and twice reprieved, jumped and shouted with frenzied vehemence when he heard his sentence of death finally pronounced. He told me if he had not so shouted, he believed he would have gene mad. April 10th.—We had a state dinner last night The conversation was about nothing in the world but convicts. I never saw Mrs. Frere to less advantage. Silent, diitraite, and sad. She told me after dinner that she disliked the very name of " convict" from early associations. " I have lived amoug them all my life," she said, " but that does not make it the better for me. I have terrible fancies at times, Mr. North, that seem half-niemories. I dread to be brought in contact with prisoners again. lam sure that some evil awaits me At their hands." I laughed, of course, but it would not do. She holds to her own opinion, and looks at ma with eyes that seem to have a rising horror in them. This unborn terror in her face is per plexing. " You are nervous," I said. " You want rest." " I am nervous," Bhe replied, with that candor of voice and manner I have before remarked in her, " and I have presentiments of eviL" We* sat silent for awhile, and then she suddenly turned her large eyes on me, and said calmly, "Mr. North, what death shall I die?" The question was an echo of my own thoughts— I bave some foolish (?) fancies as to physiognomy •—and made me start What death, indeed?

What sort of death would one meet with widely* opened eyes, parted lips, and brews bent as though to rally fast-flying courage I Not a peaceful death surely. I brought my black coat to my aid. "My dear lady, you must not think of su;h things. Death is but a sleep, you know. Why anticipate a nightmare ?" She sighed, slowly awaking as though from some momentary trance. Seeming to cheek herself at the verge of tears, she rallied, turned the conversation, and finding an excuse for going to the piano, dashed into a waits. This un natural gaiety ended, I fancy, in an hysterical fit. I heard her husband afterwards recom mending sal volatile. He la the sort of man who would recommend sal volatile to the Pythoness if she consulted him. April 26th.—All has been arranged, and we start to-morrow. Mr. Pounce is in a condition of painful dignity. He veems afraid to move lest motion should thaw his official ice. Having found out tbal I am the " chaplain," he has re frained from familiarity. My self-love is wounded, but my patience relieved. Query: Would not the majority of mankind rather be bored by people in authority than not noticed by them ? James North declines to answer for his part. I have made my farewells to my friends, and on looking back on the pleasant hours I have spent, felt saddened. It is not likely that I shall have many auch plewant hours. I fed like a vagabond who, having been allowed to ait by a cheerful fireside for awhile, is turned out into the wet and windy streets, and finds them colder than ever. What were the lines I wrote in her album ? As mn« poor tarern-haunter drenched in vine, With staggering footateps through the street* retomlaf, —Seeing through bliuding rain a beaoon thine From household lamp in happy window burning,— Fftiuea an instant at the reddened pane To gaze on that sweet scene of lore and duty, Then tarns into the wild wet night again, Lest bis tad proeenoe mar Us homely beauty. Urn! Yes, those were the lines. With mor» of truth in them than she expected; and yet what business have I sentimentalising? My sociiis thinks "what a paling fool this North is r So that's over! Now for Norfolk Island and my purgation. [TO M CONTHfOED.]

Ohi of the young banks, which has just com menoed to indulge in the luxury of a note issue, ia fortunate (says " JEglen " in the Aurtralaaian) in having aome classical acholan in the manage ment And it was, probably, felt that a little Latin would help the circulation. So that I can imagine the sense of honest pride with which it was unanimously resolved to adopt as the bank's motto the appropriate legend—" Virtt acquirit eundo." But alas t for the vanity of human aspirations. The notes are in circulation, and the management have discovered that the motto has been transformed into something they never contemplated. As I read it—without my best eye-glass—the sentence on the notes is, " Vinum acquirit tumtndo," which, freely translated, suggests that by frequently taking some you may get through a good deal of claret, a sug gestion somewhat Bacchanalian for a bank note. In the AuttrtUaiian, under the head of " Talk on 'Change," appears the following :—A year or two ago I contrasted the annual progress (as illustrated by new business) of the Australian Mutual Provident Society with that of the leading English and Scotch companies. It than held an honorably high position, and now it has pawed them aIL Here are the figures showing the new business done by each in 1874 :—

That a company of purely Australian origin and management—one not indebted for an aggregation of business to any amalgamation of other companies—should thus head the list of all British'life companies is something to awaken a sense of just pride. The companies which head the British list are all Scotch, thus illus trating the national characteristics of thrift, foresight, and energy. And yet our Australian society has beaten the Scotch upon their own especial ground, for its risks are distributed over a larger area, the policies being more numerous, and in their multiplicity lies their safety, according to the well-known formula of dis tributed casualty. Wk (Melbourne Argua) have received intelli gence by cable of the death of Mr. Charles) Joseph La Trobe, who more than twenty years ago occupied the position of Governor of this colony. Mr. La Trobe was appointed Superin tendent of the Port Phillip district on Septem ber 30, 1839, and was sworn in as Lieutenant- Governor of Victoria on its separation from New South Wales, on July 1, 1851. He was the third son of the Rev. C. J. La Trobe, by his marriage with Miss Sims, the daughter of a clergyman of an old Saxon family, in the West Riding of the county of York, and was bora in London on the 20th March, 1801. Descended from a noble French Protestant family (who emigrated from the south of France on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, in 1655, and settled in Ireland), and originally destined for the Church, he was educated with his brothers among the Moravians. After some years of travel in America and on the Continent, he was selected in 1837 by Lord Glenelg, then Secretary of State, to undertake the tour of the West Indian colonies, for the purpose of report ing upon the application of the funds voted by Parliament for the education And moral im provement of the negroes. Having made his report to the Government on the completion of that arduous service, he was appointed Superin tendent of this colony, then known as the Port Phillip district, and remained at the head of affairs for nearly fourteen years. At length, feeling the necessity of repose, he resigned the Lieutenant-Governorship, and returned to Europe on the sth May, 1854. He was married in 1835 to the third daughter of M. de Mont mollin, a gentleman of high position and con* sideration in the principality of Neufchatel, in Switzerland. This lady died in January, 1854, leaving four children, and her death shadowed the last few weeks preceding Mr. La Trobe'* de parture.

Premium. iUttndi«nMutn*l.. £42,007 oottiah ProTident.. 38,960 oottUh WMowi' .. 87,004 tftndanl .. .. 86,801

PollciM. M»l SMI 1M1 1071

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