Chapter 36643383

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Chapter NumberVI
Chapter TitleOFF TO TASMANIA.
Chapter Urlhttp://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article36643383
Full Date1867-05-04
Page Number2
Corrections4
Word Count3869
IllustratedN
Last Corrected2020-01-23
Newspaper TitleLaunceston Examiner (Tas. : 1842 - 1899)
Trove TitleThe Maxwells of Bremgarten
article text

THE MAXWELLS OF BREMGARTEN. A STORY OF TASMANIA. [Founded on Facts.] (ALL RIGHTS ARE RESERVED.) (Continued from last Saturday's issue.) CHAPER VI. OFF TO TASMANIA. ACTING in accordance with the hints rela- tive to Tasmania given in the last chapter, we will take leave to convey our readers to the wharf in Sydney from which the brig, bound for Hobart Town, was to sail. On the poop we see the passengers and their friends, amongst whom it is not diflicult to recognise the Maxwell family, with Colonel Arnott, Henry, and Isabel. They talked together as friends generally do when about to separate, the former of the exceedingly pleasant days they had spent at Cook Villa, and the latter hoping that on some future occasion they would have the pleasure of seeing their friends again. Mrs. Maxwell ventured to hope that she would yet see Colonel Arnott and his family at their new home in Tasmania ; to which the Colonel replied, " Certainly, my dear madam, I will visit you with great plea- sure : I will drop in some time when you least expect me ; I'll astonish you, depend on it. Well, here's the captain coming to turn us out. Good by, ma'am, and a plea- sant passage to you ; good-by, my queen of primroses,—what ! not a single kiss before we part?—well, can't help it. This way, Maxwell, a word with you: I wish you suc- cess. Take care of your children ; the country you are going to is a fine country, but there are strange people in it ; only keep your eyes open, that's all ; and if ever you are hard up for blunt, Sir—excuse my bluntness —you may command me for five hundred or a thousand : I'll take your personal security and nominal interest. Good by—not a word, Sir. Where are those juvenile founders of the new Roma on the banks of the Puddle- wash in Tasmania ? Good by, my heroes ; must have one of you over here soon again to keep Fred company up at the station, for fear you'll crack one another's skulls, leaping over the wall ; take care of yourselves." The old gentleman stepped out upon the wharf, calling to Henry and Isabel to be quick, as the plank was about to be removed. The latter kissed Mrs. Maxwell and Griselda, promising and exacting a promise to write frequently : the former shook hands with Griselda's mother, then with Griselda her- self, expressing a hope that he would soon have the pleasure of seeing her again. To this any other young lady having more vivacity of manner than Griselda might have answered, "I hope so," but our heroine meekly cast her eyes downwards and said nothing. The various actions being re- exchanged as long as time would permit, the captain at length gave the order to put off, and the friends were compelled to go on shore. A light breeze blew from the southward at the moment of departure, but before the ves- sel had reached the Heads it had freshened to a smart gale. Under the sombre influence of thick dark clouds and a fast increasing tempest, the Maxwells found themselves once more on the bosom of the Pacific Ocean ; and they saw with a feeling of awe and alarm, their dangerous proximity to a gigantic wall of rock, forming the South Head of the harbor of Port Jackson. The wind was high, and dead against them. Should it suddenly change to the eastward, as was not unlikely, their destruction on a lee shore, and one of most terrible appearance, might speedily fol- low. But the corpulent commander, a cool and polite individual, never left his post on deck ; but running his vessel well out to sea, he suddenly put her head to the land and steered for Botany Bay, a famous and secluded place of shelter, lying about twelve miles to the south of Port Jackson, where, as evening closed in, she rode quietly at anchor, completely secure from the gathering storm. Our settlers felt grateful to the brave and worthy captain for his promptitude in bring- ing them into this haven of rest, and returned him their thanks accordingly. They sur- veyed with mingled feelings the white shores of the celebrated Botany Bay, a name of ominous notoriety, but destined to be famous throughout all future ages in connection with that of England's greatest navigator. With the exception of a single dwelling the shores of this bay seemed (at that time) to be given over to silent solitude. The voice of the wind moaning through the trees was the only sound heard around it, broken in upon now and then by the muffled roll of the waves upon the sandy beach; and interrupted occa- sionally by the bark of a solitary watch-dog. From this desolate harbor of refuge the brig set sail on the third day. And now with a fair wind they approached the shores of Tasmania. The time of the adventurers while at sea was occupied in reading works of in- terest,.and on the part of the ladies in needle work of the usual sort. The weather was fine, but the wind changed repeatedly, and the voyage was much lengthened in consequence. At night the coolness of the air, and the seeming serenity of the sky and sea often tempted the Max- wells and their children to remain on deck to a late hour ; and though there was not a cloud in the sky or a ripple on the water, they were surprised to see great and sudden flashes of lightning shoot along the horizon on all sides, and to perceive that the brig flew through the water with great rapidity. Fourteen days having been spent in this manner, the eastern coast of their adopted country was sighted : at first appearing like a distant cloud, and as they approached nearer, ripening into a gay bold shore, with forest-covered mountains in the distance, of surpassing and bewildering beauty. Here again the wind became adverse and blew with unpleasant freshness, and the captain, repeating his former manoeuvre, stood out to sea, hoping to double Cape Raoul and

enter the Derwent on the following day. His calculations were correct. At five o'clock on the evening of a lovely autumnal day the vessel cast anchor in a smooth and elegant piece of water immediately in front of the capital of Tasmania. The river Derwent near the point where this capital stands widens abruptly into a capacious bay, singularly picturesque and beautiful. Its quiet shores are ornamented with green and yellow fields bearing grass or corn. Surrounded by pleasant looking hills, at the base of a mountain four thousand feet high, and at the head of a peaceful and se- cluded bay, stands Hobart Town or Hobarton, as we will in future take the liberty of call- ing it, destined perhaps to occupy a promi- nent place in the future history of the Southern Hemisphere. The lovely and placid appearance of this infant city filled the mind of the highly in- terested settlers with emotions of pride and pleasure. The quiet hour of evening was well adapted to excite such feelings. The great heat and withering smoke of summer had passed away, and the influence of a mild autumn imparted a balmy coolness to the air. No passing shadow marred the distinct- ness with which the outlines of hill, tree, and cottage were apparent to the sight. Every- thing connected with this village capital wore the appearance of rural tranquility. There was no hurrying to and fro of countless thou- sands, gasping for breath—some, alas ! for bread ;—no streets choked up with hundreds of heavy waggons ; jostling and crushing one another for a passage ; the bay was clear, without the interminable forest of masts which the surrounding hills may yet look down upon. The dangers of the sea, as far as our friends were concerned, were now thrown into some cell of memory's mine ; those of the land, whatever they might be, were in no hurry to obtrude themselves on Maxwell's imagination : and with a smile he pressed the hands of his wife and children, and exclaimed— " At length—at length we are at home." On the following morning Maxwell landed, and procured the necessary accommo- dation for his family and luggage. He lost no time in paying his respects to the king's representative, Colonel Sorell, whom he found to be a most amiable and intelligent gentleman. For about six weeks the settler's time was taken up with visits to the Surveyor-General and walks in the neighbor- hood of Hobarton in company with his sons. Shortly after his landing he had made acquaintance with a Mr. Phillipson Leary, who resided in the adjoining cottage : an Irish gentleman of considerable talent and experience in the science of gossip. A man of sense and sound discretion, in his own opinion was Mr. Phillipson Leary, who, a waiving all ideas of ceremony, would drop in in the evenings and never think of taking himself away again until his own private and peculiar time for doing so had arrived. On these occasions Maxwell, who followed the general custom of the country, would place on the table, or his wife for him, a decanter containing brandy, with tumbler, sugar, and hot water, and Mr. Phillipson Leary would mix his own grog or liquor, at which he was never known to turn up his nose. A man of very extensive information was Mr. Phillip- son Leary; and he was just the man to prove to the satisfaction of all who were so fortunate as to listen to him that he was a man of very extensive information. " Mr. Maxwell," he would say, while sip- ping his or his host's brandy and water, " you're a new hand—a new chum ;—you're green, Sir, its green as the highest gum-tree on the top of Mount Wellington, if you can find one there : you require some one who knows something to guide your little affairs for you. Now, here am I—Phillipson Leary—by good right and title Esquire, not yet J.P., but expect to be gazetted soon—an old colonist, and regular knowing stager. I know every milestone between this and Launceston, have walked over the macada- mised roads in the interior till my feet were blistered up to the shins. I have been in this country now going on sixteen years ; I came out with Davey — with Governor Davey, Sir—on the staff. Ah ! those times will never come again when Davey and I used to walk arm-in-arm through the streets, and whenever we met a crowd of little boys and girls Davey would take off his hat and make a horrible face, on seeing which they would scamper off in all directions, when my dear friend and companion would turn to me and say, ' By Jove, Leary, you and I are the fellows to make them run.' " lere MIr. Leary, overcome probably by acli sacred reminiscences, would sigh pro- foundly, drain off the contents of his first tumbler, and deliberately mix for himself another jorum. " What would I do if I was in your place ? Why I would have my maximum grant, if the Surveyor-General was the old boy him- self. I would then, with my unlocated order in my pocket, hire or buy a horse, and ride over the whole country till I came to a run, not previously occupied, of course, well a watered, well grassed, not too light in timber (for you'll want firewood), and not too near a mountain, where there may be lurking-holes and corners for bushrangers and natives. As soon as I found a convenient spot I would pitch my tent and build, a cottage for the family before I took them into the bush. I would then buy a few sheep and cows, send for the wife and children, set me down under my own vine and fig-tree, and not care one a single fig which may the bottle went." Maxwell was, or could be, one of your a silent men, and only nodded in reply to 'Mr. Leary, who thus encouraged, would continue in a strain like the following :— "You see, Sir, I am one of those individuals, however few and far between they may be, who make it their business to be serviceable to their friends. As my highly-respected friend and companion, Colonel Davey, used

to say, ' Leary, whenever I want to advance a man I put him under your wing—you're the boy, my fine fellow, to make him stand on his own legs.' I could point out hundreds, Sir, whom I have helped to make men of by my counsel and assistance; rich men they are, too—some of them rolling in their chariots and what not, swaggering from side to side as if unable to bear the weight of their magis- terial brains. And scarcely one of these men would condescend to know me nor if they met me in the street. Such is life, and such is human nature. Every tub stands best on its own bottom, but it is not every tub that will stand on any bottom at all without the aid of a cooper. So, as I said before, I'm just the man to put you on your legs, Sir. I can tell you the length and breadth of everything in this beautiful island—from now many nails it will take you to build a pig-sty, up to the number of feet of timber requisite for a mansion eighty feet by forty-five. I can tell you the number of settlers, new hands and old hands and all about them, who live be- tween St. Patrick's Head* and Molly York's Night Capt. In fact my friend and com- panion, Davey, used to sum me up in one word—' Leary,' he used to say, 'you're a perambulating cyclopædia, you're a valuable man, you're the prince of trumps and the emperor of bricks.' " After delivering himself of a peroration like the above, Mr. Leary would rise slowly from his chair, adjust his cravat, and button his coat with the air of a man who thought himself too important to be lost to the world on account of a trife, bid his fortunate friends good night, and retire to his own domicile, which had been left in the care of Mrs. Leary, a lady of various polite attainments, who, with her daughter, Miss Arabella Thomasina Leary, mourned in secret over the wayward caprices of her gossiping husband. His visits were too frequent, and his honied phrases too highly colored when speaking of himself, not to excite Mrs. Maxwell's suspi- cions, and she warmly expostulated with her husband on account of the encouragement he was disposed to give his visitor. "My dear Eizabetlh," replied Maxwell, " the man must be respected since he has been Governor Davey's Private Secretary." "More likely, Bernard," answered his pene- trating better half, " he was the person who brushed Governor Davey's boots." Such was the society which, in a measure, forced itself upon the simple and unwary settlers in the early days of our island colo- nization ; but these matters are better managed now. In the meantime Maxwell, stirred up by an occasional word from his wife, con- tinued his visits to the Surveyor-General until lie was at length successful in procuring an unlocated order for two thousand five hun- dred and sixty acres of land ; being the largest grant then obtainable by any party not under the peculiar favor of the Home Government. The officer at the head of this important department was a well-bred man, and he gave our settler all the informa- tion he could conveniently respecting the selection of his estate. The charts of the office were freely submitted to his inspection, his numerous questions politely answered by the Surveyor-General or his gentlemanly subordinate, and a letter of introduction to a district surveyor residing on the banks of the South Esk was written by the former and placed in his hand. " I advise you, Sir," said the official, " to proceed immediately to the residence of the gentleman to whom this letter is addressed ; there is a great deal of unoccupied land in his neighborhood. He will be glad to give you a shake-down, and you may be able to make a selection suitable to your views." Maxwell thanked this gentleman, and with- drew. His next.want was a steed capable of carry- ing him over the rough, unmade roads of the country, which they really were, notwith- standing Mr. Phillipson Leary's broad asser- tion, and to whom should he communicate his want but to that worthy gentleman himself. " As I live by mixtures of beef, bread, and potatoes," said Mr. Leary—and he should have added "brandy"—" I know of a nag that will just do as if he had been created on purpose. He belongs to a most particular friend of mine, who wishes to part with him, not hav- ing any further occasion for his services. He is a good roadster, and will beat any horse that I know in trotting. I know his pedigree —sire Matchimnot, dam Polly Pluck. You never saw a better beast." " Where is he to be seen ?" asked Maxwell. " Come with me, Sir, and I will introduce you to my friend." We will not inflict upon our readers the long-winded speech of Mr. Leary on the merits of this non-such of a horse, while he led Max- well up one street and down another, until, stopping before a low weather-boarded hut, and inquiring if Mr. Sprigg was at home, that individual himself came forth. The ceremony of introduction took place. Mr. Sprigg was a pale-faced man, about five feet high, and a shock head of black hair that had not been combed for six months. On being made acquainted with the object of the present visit he led the way into a small and dirty yard, in one corner of which stood a slab-hut, with the slabs three inches apart, and roofed with two or three sheets of bark. Into this miserable hole Mr. Sprigg invited his visitors to walk, and there they behold the modern Bucephalus. " He's rather high in bone just now," said Sprigg, "through the confinement and want of work ; only give 'im plenty of exercise and it'll do your 'eart good to see 'ow 'e'll thrive —if you want a 'oss for mettle and bottom, 'e's just the hanimnal." "Bring him out, if you please," said Max- well. * A conspicuous peak on the eastern coast. + A prominent rock on the Western Tier, so called after Mrs. Yorke, the wife of a settler in the immediate neighborhood, who died lately at Hobarton in the hundredth year of her age.

" Aye, bring him out, Sprigg," said Mr. Leary. Sprigg brought him out, saying—" Come out, Skinbone, my find feller, if I only 'ad time to run you up and down town a bit, you'd sell well ; Mr. Leary, it 'ud do your eyes good for to see 'im go—wouldn't it, Sir ?" Mr. Leary nodded. "He has a good name," said Maxwell. "Skinbone !—I see nothing but skin and bone, he is blind, too, of the off eye, and his fetlocks are as big as pumpkins." "It 'll all go off, Sir," said Sprigg, " it's all through the want of the work. That 'oss cost me fifty pound if he cost a shillin'. I'll let you 'ave 'im now for fifteen, as 'osses is low and keep is 'igh. I might as well give 'im away for nothin' at all—a 'oss like 'im, sound wind and limb, quite up to your weight, Sir, standin' sixteen 'ands and only six off" " Take him back," said Maxwell, " he won't suit. Mr. Leary, I wish you good day." " Where are you off to so fast ?" said that gentleman—" stay a bit, Mr. —— I always forget his confounded name—I'm going your way" ; but Maxwell continued his rapid pace, something over and above a regular quick march, and was soon out of sight. Incidents like this might occur in any country, but in a new colony like Tasmania, with a heterogeneous population, they were more common than pleasant. Our settler next bent his steps to a respectable person, the keeper of livery stables in their infancy, and made known his equine requirement. He was offered his choice of three or four good stout hacks, and selected one at the price of forty guineas, desiring the stable-keeper to have him fully equipped for the journey early on the following morning. After despatching other pressing business to his satisfaction he returned home at a late hour, and there to his infinite surprise he found, seated in his usual make-himself-at-homse corner, Mr. Phillipson Leary. " Purchased a horse, Sir ?" said he, when Maxwell entered; " I'm glad to hear it. I believe I mentioned Mr. —— (naming the stable keeper) to you some time ago. I really was not aware that Sprigg would have had his horse in such low condition. He has used me rather unfairly, has Sprigg. I have done him many a good turn, I have. When that man, some years ago, incurred the dis- pleasure of my friend and companion Davey, for some slight eccentricity of behaviour, I took him by the hand and carried him through it as if he had been my own brother ; and Davey on that occasion paid me the well- deserved compliment of saying, ' Leary, there is only one man in the island whose advice I am always satisfied to take on every pinch, and that man is yourself.' " "What on earth shall I do with this in- sufferable nuisance ?" said Maxwell, aside to his wife; " I have a great mind to turn him out of the house this moment." " Be quiet, Bernard," advised that good lady ; " don't be violent, or you may make an enemy. Let him talk, but don't put any spirits on the table." The effect of this advice was soon apparent. Mr. Leary, after various coughs and hems, gathered himself up and took his departure long before his usual time for doing so had arrived ; and our adventurers were left to themselves, to enjoy a few quiet hours of the most approved social intercourse.