A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany-Bay eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 73 pages of information about A Narrative of the Expedition to Botany-Bay.

CHAPTER XIV.

From the Beginning of June, to the Departure of the Ships for Europe.

Hours of festivity, which under happier skies pass away unregarded, and are soon consigned to oblivion, acquire in this forlorn and distant circle a superior degree of acceptable importance.

On the anniversary of the King’s birthday all the officers not on duty, both of the garrison and his Majesty’s ships, dined with the Governor.  On so joyful an occasion, the first too ever celebrated in our new settlement, it were needless to say, that loyal conviviality dictated every sentiment, and inspired every guest.  Among other public toasts drank, was, Prosperity to Sydney Cove, in Cumberland county, now named so by authority.  At day-light in the morning the ships of war had fired twenty-one guns each, which was repeated at noon, and answered by three vollies from the battalion of marines.

Nor were the officers alone partakers of the general relaxation.  The four unhappy wretches labouring under sentence of banishment were freed from their fetters, to rejoin their former society; and three days given as holidays to every convict in the colony.  Hospitality too, which ever acquires a double relish by being extended, was not forgotten on the 4th of June, when each prisoner, male and female, received an allowance of grog; and every non-commissioned officer and private soldier had the honor of drinking prosperity to his royal master, in a pint of porter, served out at the flag staff, in addition to the customary allowance of spirits.  Bonfires concluded the evening, and I am happy to say, that excepting a single instance which shall be taken notice of hereafter, no bad consequence, or unpleasant remembrance, flowed from an indulgence so amply bestowed.

About this time (June) an accident happened, which I record with much regret.  The whole of our black cattle, consisting of five cows and a bull, either from not being properly secured, or from the negligence of those appointed to take care of them, strayed into the woods, and in spite of all the search we have been able to make, are not yet found.  As a convict of the name of Corbet, who was accused of a theft, eloped nearly at the same time, it was at first believed, that he had taken the desperate measure of driving off the cattle, in order to subsist on them as long as possible; or perhaps to deliver them to the natives.  In this uncertainty, parties to search were sent out in different directions; and the fugitive declared an outlaw, in case of not returning by a fixed day.  After much anxiety and fatigue, those who had undertaken the task returned without finding the cattle.  But on the 21st of the month, Corbet made his appearance near a farm belonging to the Governor, and entreated a convict, who happened to be on the spot, to give him some food, as he was perishing for hunger.  The man applied to, under pretence of fetching what

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