In consequence of the order issued last month respecting a reduction in the price of wheat, the settlers, having consulted among themselves, deputed a certain number from the different districts to state to the governor the hardships they should be subjected to by a reduction in the price of grain, at least for that season. He therefore consented to purchase their present crops of wheat at ten shillings per bushel; but at the same time assured them, that a reduction would be made in the ensuing season, unless some unforeseen and unavoidable circumstances should occur to render it unnecessary.
The officers who held ground offered to give up two of the number of men the governor had allowed them, and to take two others off the provision-store, which proposal was directed to be carried into execution.
Some of the more decent class of prisoners, male and female, having some time since obtained permission to prepare a playhouse* at Sydney, it was opened on Saturday the 16th, under the management of John Sparrow, with the play of The Revenge and the entertainment of The Hotel. They had fitted up the house with more theatrical propriety than could have been expected, and their performance was far above contempt. Their motto was modest and well chosen—’We cannot command success, but will endeavour to deserve it.’ Of their dresses the greater part was made by themselves; but we understood that some veteran articles from the York theatre were among the best that made their appearance.
[* The he building cost upwards of one hundred pounds. The names of the principal performers were, H. Green, J. Sparrow (the manager), William Fowkes, G. H. Hughes, William Chapman, and Mrs. Davis. Of the men, Green best deserved to be called an actor.]
At the licensing of this exhibition they were informed, that the slightest impropriety would be noticed, and a repetition punished by the banishment of their company to the other settlements; there was, however, more danger of improprieties being committed by some of the audience than by the players themselves. A seat in their gallery, which was by far the largest place in the house, as likely to be the most resorted to, was to be procured for one shilling. In the payment of this price for admission, one evil was observable, which in fact could not well be prevented; in lieu of a shilling, as much flour, or as much meat or spirits, as the manager would take for that sum, was often paid at the gallery door. It was feared that this, like gambling, would furnish another inducement to rob; and some of the worst of the convicts, ever on the watch for opportunities, looked on the playhouse as a certain harvest for them, not by picking the pockets of the audience of their purses or their watches, but by breaking into their houses while the whole family might be enjoying themselves in the gallery. This actually happened on the second night of their playing.
The 18th was observed as the day on which her Majesty’s birth is celebrated in England.* The troops fired three volleys at noon, and at one o’clock the king’s ships fired twenty-one guns each, in honour of the day.