A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 199 pages of information about A Complete Account of the Settlement at Port Jackson.

A leading distinction, which marked the convicts on their outset in the colony, was an use of what is called the ‘flash’, or ‘kiddy’ language.  In some of our early courts of justice an interpreter was frequently necessary to translate the deposition of the witness and the defence of the prisoner.  This language has many dialects.  The sly dexterity of the pickpocket, the brutal ferocity of the footpad, the more elevated career of the highwayman and the deadly purpose of the midnight ruffian is each strictly appropriate in the terms which distinguish and characterize it.  I have ever been of opinion that an abolition of this unnatural jargon would open the path to reformation.  And my observations on these people have constantly instructed me that indulgence in this infatuating cant is more deeply associated with depravity and continuance in vice than is generally supposed.  I recollect hardly one instance of a return to honest pursuits, and habits of industry, where this miserable perversion of our noblest and peculiar faculty was not previously conquered.

Those persons to whom the inspection and management of our numerous and extensive prisons in England are committed will perform a service to society by attending to the foregoing observation.  Let us always keep in view, that punishment, when not directed to promote reformation, is arbitrary, and unauthorised.

CHAPTER XIX.

Facts relating to the probability of establishing a whale fishery on the coast of New South Wales, with Thoughts on the same.

In every former part of this publication I have studiously avoided mentioning a whale fishery, as the information relating to it will, I conceive, be more acceptably received in this form, by those to whom it is addressed, than if mingled with other matter.

Previous to entering on this detail, it must be observed that several of the last fleet of ships which had arrived from England with convicts, were fitted out with implements for whale fishing, and were intended to sail for the coast of Brazil to pursue the fishery, immediately on having landed the convicts.

On the 14th of October, 1791, the ‘Britannia’, Captain Melville, one of these ships, arrived at Sydney.  In her passage between Van Diemen’s Land and Port Jackson, the master reported that he had seen a large shoal of spermaceti whales.  His words were, ’I saw more whales at one time around my ship than in the whole of six years which I have fished on the coast of Brazil.’

This intelligence was no sooner communicated than all the whalers were eager to push to sea.  Melville himself was among the most early; and on the 10th of November, returned to Port Jackson, more confident of success than before.  He assured me that in the fourteen days which he had been out, he had seen more spermaced whales than in all his former life.  They amounted, he said to many thousands, most of

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