Although at this season of the year there were days when, from the extreme heat of the atmosphere, the leaves of many culinary plants growing in the gardens have been reduced to a powder, yet there was some ground for supposing that this accident did not arise from either the heat of the weather, or the fire in the woods. The grain that was burnt was the property of government, and the destruction of eight hundred bushels of wheat made room for that quantity to be received into the stores from the settlers who had wheat to sell to the commissary; there were, moreover, at this time, some ill-designing people in the country, who were known not to have much regard for the concerns of the public. An enquiry was set on foot to discover, if possible, the perpetrators of this mischief, but nothing could be made of it.
Several people who had been hired to saw timber on the public account having been detected in giving a false statement, and receiving payment for what they had not cut, were examined before two justices of the peace; when, the fraud being proved, they were sentenced to make up the deficiency, and to work for government, without being paid, for six months. One, the man who measured the work, and who of course had a confidence reposed in him, received the additional punishment of 200 lashes, which he amply merited.
Some representations having been made to the governor from the settlers in different parts of the colony, purporting that the wages demanded by the free labouring people, whom they had occasion to hire, was so exorbitant as to run away with the greatest part of the profit of their farms, it was recommended to them to appoint quarterly meetings among themselves, to be held in each district, for the purpose of settling the rate of wages to labourers in every different kind of work; that, to this end, a written agreement should be entered into and subscribed by each settler, a breach of which should be punished by a penalty, to be fixed by the general opinion, and made recoverable in a court of civil judicature. It was recommended to them to apply this forfeiture to the common benefit; and they were to transmit to the head-quarters a copy of their agreement with the rate of wages which they should from time to time establish, for the governor’s information; holding their first meeting as early as possible.
It must appear from this, that every necessary and useful regulation was suggested that could promote the convenience and advantage of these people, who being in possession of land that yielded the most ample returns, nothing but the greatest worthlessness on their part could have prevented their getting forward, and becoming men of property. That too many of them were of this description will appear evident, from its being notorious that their crops were no sooner gathered, than they were instantly disposed of for spirits, which they purchased at the rate of three, nay, even four pounds per gallon, and of a spirit