[* The principal tank contained about 7996 gallons of water. Vide Vol I, Chapter XVII. “The works during this month . . .”]
December.] On the 6th of December the Sylph, having been discharged from government employ, proceeded on her voyage to China. On searching her, two male convicts were found concealed, who were brought on shore, and punished for their attempt to escape from the place of their transportation.
The ill success with which these attempts were attended might have been expected to deter others from risking the certain punishment which followed their being detected; but, as some were known to have eluded the strictest search, every one who could find a friend among the seamen to conceal him, hoped that he might prove the fortunate one who should escape. Although they every day saw that no obstacle was thrown in the way of the convict who had got through the period of his transportation with credit and a good character, but that he was suffered to depart with the master of any ship who would receive him, and a certificate given to him of his being a free man; yet, thoughtless, and dissatisfied with their present situation, be it what it might, they preferred encountering the hazard of being discovered and punished, or, even if they reached another country, the discredit with which they must appear, if it should be known that they were convicts from ‘Botany Bay,’ to waiting with patience until they could be dismissed from the colony with the reputation of having deserved the state of freedom at which they had arrived.
On the 16th of the month, a general muster of all descriptions of persons took place over every part of the colony at the same hour; for it had been found, that in mustering one district at a time, a deception had been successfully practised by some, of running from one place to another, and answering to their names at each, thereby drawing provisions from both stores, having previously imposed themselves on the store-keepers as belonging to their district. This could not, indeed, have long continued, if the store-keepers had been properly attentive to the directions which they received; but it was almost impossible to guard against the artful and well-contrived deceptions which these people were constantly playing off, to impose upon propriety, regulation, and good order.
It being at this time much wished to get four or five hundred acres of the ground belonging to government in a state to be sown the next season with wheat, the governor went up to Parramatta, to settle some necessary concerns there, and to endeavour, if possible, to get strength sufficient for that purpose. While here, he had the satisfaction of knowing that the stock of large cattle belonging to government were in excellent condition, having been sent to Toongabbie, where they had met with better food and more care than elsewhere. The preservation of these animals was an object of the greatest importance, as, independent of the large sums of money with which they had been purchased, their utility as a stock both for present labour, and future consumption, was incalculable.