The small allowance of spirits which was given for the day to the convalescents, and to such sick in the hospital as the surgeon judged proper, being found of infinite service to them, the governor directed that the surgeon should receive a certain quantity, and at his discretion issue it from time to time to such sick under his care as he thought would derive benefit from it; the remainder was ordered to be reserved for the use of the sloop when it might be necessary to send her to sea. The spirits at this time in the colony were the surplus of what had been sent out for his majesty’s ship Sirius, and the Supply armed tender.
As it had been customary too, on this day, to grant a pardon to such offenders as might be in custody or under sentence of corporal punishment, his Excellency was pleased a few days after to release such convicts as were sentenced to work in irons for a limited time at Parramatta and the New Grounds, and who were not very notorious offenders. This lenity was the rather shown at this time, as the convicts were in general giving proofs of a greater disposition to honesty than had for some time been visible among them. The convicts at the New Grounds being assembled for this purpose, the governor acquainted them, ’that the state of the colony requiring a still farther reduction in the ration, it would very shortly take place; but that he hoped soon to have it in his power to augment it. The deficiencies in the established ration, he informed them, should at a future period be made up; but in the meantime he expected that every man would continue to exert himself and get the corn into the ground to insure support for the next year.’ Indeed these exertions became every day more necessary. On the 6th of this month there was only a sufficiency of flour in store to serve till the 2nd of July, and salt provisions till the 6th of August following, at the ration then issued; and neither the Atlantic storeship from Calcutta, nor the expected supplies from England, had arrived.
Notwithstanding the mortality and sickness which had prevailed among the convicts who came out in the last ships, much labour had been performed at the New Grounds by those who were capable of handling the hoe and the spade. At this time the quantity of ground in wheat, and cleared and broken up for maize, there and at Parramatta, was such as (if not visited again by a dry season) would at least, computing the produce even at what it was the last year, yield a sufficiency of grain for all our numbers for a twelvemonth. But every one doubted the possibility of getting all the corn into the ground within the proper time, unless the colony should be very speedily relieved from its distresses, as the reduction in the ration would inevitably be followed by a diminution of the daily labour.