A convict having been found dead in the woods near the settlement, an enquiry into the cause of his death was made by the provost-marshal; when it appeared from the evidence of Mr. Balmain, one of the assistant-surgeons who attended to open him, and of the people who lived with the deceased, that he died through want of nourishment, and through weakness occasioned by the heat of the sun. It appeared that he had not for more than a week past eaten his allowance of provisions, the whole being found in his box. It was proved by those who knew him, that he was accustomed to deny himself even what was absolutely necessary to his existence, abstaining from his provisions, and selling them for money, which he was reserving, and had somewhere concealed, in order to purchase his passage to England when his time should expire.
Mr. Reid, the carpenter of the Supply, now undertook the construction of a boat-house on the east side, for the purpose of building, with the timber of this country, a launch or hoy, capable of being employed in conveying provisions to Rose Hill, and for other useful and necessary purposes. The working convicts were employed on Saturdays, until ten o’clock in the forenoon, in forming a landing-place on the east side of the cove. At the point on the west side, a magazine was marked out, to be constructed of stone, and large enough to contain fifty or sixty barrels of powder.
Christmas Day was observed with proper ceremony. Mr. Johnson preached a sermon adapted to the occasion, and the major part of the officers of the settlement were afterward entertained at dinner by the governor.
It being remarked with concern, that the natives were becoming every day more troublesome and hostile, several people having been wounded, and others, who were necessarily employed in the woods, driven in and much alarmed by them, the governor determined on endeavouring to seize and bring into the settlement, one or two of those people, whose language it was become absolutely necessary to acquire, that they might learn to distinguish friends from enemies.
Accordingly, on the 30th a young man was seized and brought up by Lieutenant Ball of the Supply, and Lieutenant George Johnston of the marines. A second was taken; but, after dragging into the water beyond his depth the man who seized him, he got clear off. The native who was secured was immediately on his landing led up to the governor’s, where he was clothed, a slight iron or manacle put upon his wrist, and a trusty convict appointed to take care of him. A small hut had been previously built for his reception close to the guardhouse, wherein he and his keeper were locked up at night; and the following morning the convict reported, that he slept very well during the night, not offering to make any attempt to get away.
The weather, during the month of December, was for the first part hot and close; the middle was fine; the latter variable, but mostly fine—upon the whole the month was very hot. The climate was allowed by every one, medical as well as others, to be fine and salubrious. The rains were heavy, and appeared to fall chiefly on or about the full and change of the moon. Thunder and lightning at times had been severe, but not attended with any bad effects since the month of February last.