The rage for trade already spoken of, which prevailed so universally in the colony, occasioned such a continued scene of contention and litigation among the people, that much public inconvenience was experienced in the liberties which were taken of imprisoning the public servants of the crown for debts contracted with many of the petty dealers; notwithstanding an order which was given out in the year 1788, by the late Governor Phillip, in which the colony was informed, that the convicts (by whom were meant the public servants of the crown) had no property of their own, their clothing, their time, and their labour, being the property of government, and not at their own disposal. This order having worn out of their recollection, it became necessary to renew it, to prevent that loss of labour on the public works which imprisoning their persons so improperly must occasion. Notice was therefore given, that the public servants of the crown were not to be detained from their duty by imprisoning their persons in this way; and if any person should be desirous of accommodating them with credit, it must be wholly and absolutely upon the strength of their own good faith in the integrity of such people, and not under the idea that they could arrest and imprison them according to the forms of law; and it was to be generally understood, that government would by no means dispense with the labour of its servants for the partial accommodation of any private dealings whatever.
On the evening of the 11th, another fire happened in the town of Sydney, which, but for a great deal of care and activity, might have burnt all the houses on the east side. A row of buildings which had been lately erected for the nurses and other persons employed about the hospital, was set on fire, and totally consumed. The flames very nearly reached the boat-yard, in which were many concerns of value.
On the 20th, an American ship, the Ann and Hope, anchored in Botany Bay, unfavourable winds having prevented her getting up so far as Port Jackson. As the master only wanted a little wood and water, three days were sufficient to procure them; and at the end of that period he sailed for China. He certainly was either pressed for time, or had nothing on board that he could part with, as the ships of his country had always found it worth their while to refresh at Port Jackson.
Toward the latter end of the month the governor visited the settlers at the Hawkesbury; and while he was there made some useful regulations among the sawyers, who had fixed their own portion of public labour. He gave notice, that a session should be held quarterly for settling all civil concerns; and made some other local arrangements, which, if attended to, would have conduced essentially to the welfare of the settlers, whose farms he found promising plenty, but whose houses and persons wore the appearance of poverty and beggary, they converting all the produce of their farms to the unworthy purpose of purchasing a pernicious spirit that must ever keep them poor.