It appeared, that, to obtain spirituous liquors, these people, the settlers, had incurred debts to so great an amount, as to preclude the most distant hope of liquidating them, except by selling their farms. Thus all their former industry must be sacrificed to discharge debts which were contracted for the temporary gratification of being steeped in beastly intoxication for a certain length of time. All the cautions which had occasionally been inserted in the public orders against this dangerous practice, had not proved of any advantage to those whose benefit they were intended to promote; and it was observed with concern, that several scenes of shameful imposition, which had been practised by the retail dealers in this article, were brought to light by this investigation.
Several convicts, who had served their respective terms of transportation, having applied to be discharged from the victualling books of the colony, and allowed to provide for themselves, it was determined, that once during a given time certificates of their having so served their several sentences should be granted to them, together with the permission which they solicited. There was not any difficulty in ascertaining the term of the convicts sent from England, as correct lists of their several sentences from the Secretary of State’s office accompanied them: but it was not so with those who had been sent from Ireland, and who were more likely to be dissatisfied with any disappointment on this rather nice subject, than any other, people in the settlement. This was an evil of some magnitude; and a representation of it had been made to the government of that kingdom, but as yet no answer had been received.
The season for cropping the ground being near at hand, the settlers were informed, that such of them as had lent their men to repair the roads would have them returned for the time that would be required to sow the grain; after that was performed, they were expected again to come forward, and finish what they had so well begun.
The natives excited some little degree of curiosity about this time, a large party from Broken Bay having assembled in the lower part of the harbour, whither those belonging to Sydney immediately repaired, for the purpose, it was reported, of meeting them in fight; but it turned out to be nothing more than the usual ceremony which a native of Broken Bay underwent, of having several spears thrown at him, for having, it was said, killed a person belonging to this part of the country. He went off unhurt, after sustaining the appearance of much rage and violence from the friends of the deceased.
A gang having been for some time employed in making bricks, the foundation of a building for two assistant surgeons was marked in this month. This was one of the necessary works already mentioned, as the miserable quarters which those gentlemen occupied were originally constructed only of split cabbage trees, and were at this time quite decayed.