With a requisition made by Captain Phillip of a certain quantity of flour and corn, the governor expressed his apprehensions of being unable to comply, as the Cape had been very lately visited by that worst of scourges—a famine, which had been most severely felt by every family in the town, his own not excepted. This was a calamity which the settlement had never before experienced, and was to be ascribed rather to bad management of, than any failure in, the late crops. Measures were however taking to guard, as much as human precaution could guard, against such a misfortune in future; and magazines were erecting for the reception of grain on the public account, which had never been found necessary until fatal experience had suggested them. Captain Phillip’s request was to be laid before the Council, without whose concurrence in such a business the governor could not act, and an answer was promised with all convenient dispatch. This answer, however, did not arrive until the 23rd, when Captain Phillip was informed that every article which he had demanded was ordered to be furnished.
November.] In the meantime the ships of the fleet had struck their yards and topmasts (a precaution always necessary here to guard against the violence of the south-east wind, which had been often known to drive ships out of the bay) and began filling their water. On board of the Sirius and some of the transports, the carpenters were employed in fitting up stalls for the reception of the cattle that was to be taken hence as stock for the intended colony at New South Wales. These were not ready until the 8th of the next month, November, on which day, 1 bull, 1 bull-calf, 7 cows, 1 stallion, 3 mares, and 3 colts, together with as great a number of rams, ewes, goats, boars, and breeding sows, as room could be provided for, were embarked in the different ships, the bulls and cows on board the Sirius, the horses on board the Lady Penrhyn; the remainder were put into the Fishbourn store-ship and Friendship transport.
Shortly after our arrival in the bay, a soldier belonging to the Swiss regiment of Muron, quartered here, swam off from his post and came on board one of the transports, requesting to be permitted to proceed in her to New South Wales; but, as an agreement had been mutually entered into between the Dutch and English commanders, that deserters in the service of, or subjects of either nation, should be given up, Captain Phillip sent him on shore, previously obtaining a promise of his pardon from the regiment.
On the 9th the watering of the fleet being completed, corn and hay for the stock, and flour, wine, and spirits for the settlement, being all on board, preparations were made for putting to sea, and on the 10th the signal was made to unmoor.
The convicts while in this port had been served, men and women, with one pound and an half of soft bread each per diem; a pound of fresh beef, or mutton, and three quarters of a pound for each child, together with a liberal allowance of vegetables.