The Naval Pioneers of Australia eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 250 pages of information about The Naval Pioneers of Australia.
profession and at last arriv’d at the highly flattering and exalted office of being appointed the representative of His Majesty in this remote part of his dominions—­can it be believ’d, my lord, that a man possessing a single spark of virtuous principles could be prevailed on thro’ any latent object, any avaricious view, by any act so mean, so low, so contemptible, as that of which this anonymous villain has dared to suppose me capable, to bring disgrace upon that elevated situation?  No, my lord, I thank God I possess a share of pride sufficient to keep me far above any mean or degrading action.  I am satisfied with what the Crown allows me, altho’ that, in my situation in this expensive country, is small enough, yet, my lord, I am satisfied, nor do I conceive it consistent with the dignity of my office to endeavour in any way whatever to gain more, were it even in a less censurable manner than that which has been mention’d.  Let me live upon bread and water with a pure and unpolluted conscience, a fair and respectable character, in preference to rolling in wealth obtained by such infamous, such shameful, such ignominious means as this letter-writer alludes to.”

It is a long while ago since this letter was written by a rough old sailor, and its quaint wording may raise a smile, but Hunter was very much in earnest; and if his failure to govern convicts and “officers and gentlemen” who traded in rum is to count against him, leaving but a contemptuous pity for a weak old man as an impression on the mind, go back to his sea-days, when he fought the crazy old Sirius through a hurricane to bring food to these shore-people, and remember him for this closing anecdote of his life:—­

In 1801, soon after his arrival in England, Hunter [Sidenote:  1801-1821] commanded the Venerable (74).  He was cruising off Torbay, when a man fell overboard.  Hunter attempted to put the ship about to pick him up; she missed stays, ran ashore, and became a wreck.  At the court-martial (at which Hunter was honourably acquitted) he was asked whether he thought he was justified in putting the ship about in such circumstances, to which question he replied, “I consider the life of a British seaman of more value than any ship in His Majesty’s navy.”

When he returned to England, he was granted a pension, for his services as governor, of L300 per annum; was promoted rear-admiral in October, 1807, and became vice-admiral of the Red in July, 1810.  He died in Judd Street, London, in March, 1821, aged eighty-three, and was buried in Hackney churchyard, where a tombstone with a long inscription records his services.



The service of the Marines in the colonization of Australia was, as it always has been, per mare, per terram, such as reflected the highest credit upon the corps.  They were not “Royal” in those days, nor were they light infantry; the first title came to them in 1802, when their facings were changed from white to royal blue, and it was not until 1855 that they were designated light infantry.

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The Naval Pioneers of Australia from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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