On the 6th of May the ‘Supply’ sailed for Lord Howe Island, to take on board turtle for the settlement; but after waiting there several days was obliged to return without having seen one, owing we apprehended to the advanced season of the year. Three of the transports also, which were engaged by the East India Company to proceed to China, to take on board a lading of tea, sailed about this time for Canton.
The unsuccessful return of the ‘Supply’ cast a general damp on our spirits, for by this time fresh provisions were become scarcer than in a blockaded town. The little live stock, which with so heavy an expense, and through so many difficulties, we had brought on shore, prudence forbade us to use; and fish, which on our arrival, and for a short time after had been tolerable plenty, were become so scarce, as to be rarely seen at the tables of the first among us. Had it not been for a stray kangaroo, which fortune now and then threw in our way, we should have been utter strangers to the taste of fresh food.
Thus situated, the scurvy began its usual ravages, and extended its baneful influence, more or less, through all descriptions of persons. Unfortunately the esculent vegetable productions of the country are neither plentiful, nor tend very effectually to remove this disease. And, the ground we had turned up and planted with garden seeds, either from the nature of the soil, or, which is more probable, the lateness of the season, yielded but a scanty and insufficient supply of what we stood so greatly in need of.
During the period I am describing, few enormous offences were perpetrated by the convicts. A petty theft was now and then heard of, and a spirit of refractory sullenness broke out at times in some individuals: one execution only, however, took place. The sufferer, who was a very young man, was convicted of a burglary, and met his fate with a hardiness and insensibility, which the grossest ignorance, and most deplorable want of feeling, alone could supply.