The natives had not lately given us any interruption by acts of hostility. Several of their young people continued to reside among us, and the different houses in the town were frequently visited by their relations. Very little information that could be depended upon respecting their manners and customs was obtained through this intercourse; and it was observed, that they conversed with us in a mutilated and incorrect language formed entirely on our imperfect knowledge and improper application of their words.
Mortality in April
Appearance and state of the convicts
Ration again reduced
Quantity of flour in store
State of transactions with the natives
Indian corn stolen
Average prices of grain, etc at Sydney, and at Parramatta
The Atlantic returns from Bengal
Account received of Bryant and his companions
Ration farther reduced
Sheep-pens at Parramatta attempted
Quality of provisions received from Calcutta
The Brittania arrives from England
A convict emancipated
May.] The mortality in the last month had been extremely great. Distressing as it was, however, to see the poor wretches daily dropping into the grave, it was far more afflicting to observe the countenances and emaciated persons of many that remained soon to follow their miserable companions. Every step was taken that could be devised to save them; a fishery was established at the South Head, exclusively for the use of the sick, under the direction of one Barton, who had been formerly a pilot, and who, in addition to this duty, was to board all ships coming into the harbour and pilot them to the settlement. The different people who were employed by individuals to kill game were given up for the use of the hospital; and to stimulate them to exertion, two pounds of flour in addition to the ration were ordered for every kangaroo that they should bring, beside the head, one forequarter, and the pluck of the animal.
The weakest of the convicts were excused from any kind of hard labour; but it was not hard labour that destroyed them; it was an entire want of strength in the constitution to receive nourishment, to throw off the debility that pervaded their whole system, or to perform any sort of labour whatever.
This dreadful mortality was chiefly confined to the convicts who had arrived in the last year; of one hundred and twenty-two male convicts who came out in the Queen transport from Ireland, fifty only were living at the beginning of this month. The different robberies which were committed were also confined to this class of the convicts, and the wretches who were concerned in the commission of them were in general too weak to receive a punishment adequate to their crimes. Their universal plea was hunger; but it was a plea that in the then situation of the colony could not be so much attended to as it certainly would have been in a country of greater plenty.