Purchases from The Natives
The Australian, Sydney
1 November 1836
In your number of the 28th instant, you state (under the head Port Philip) that an answer from the Government here has been given. to the Deputation of the Squatters at that place, who are represented by Captain Swanston and Mr. Lawyer Gellibrand, and called par excellence, the Company, and also to Mr. Dobson, who represents the other Settlers; by which it appears that an undue preference is given to the Company, under colour of their having made purchases from the natives.
If the Council admit this right, and establish a precedent for it, as they will do if they adhere to this decision, they will in fact unsettle their title to their own properties, and the descendants of King Bungaree may set forth a claim to those lands and tenements in New South Wales, which have it would appear been foolishly and improperly held under the tenure of the British Crown.
Is it from the quirks and quibbles of an interested lawyer that this advantage is given to one party over another; if such be the case, it would be only fair to allow the others to fee a lawyer and plead their case before the Council.
It is also stated that no notice will be taken of any expenses incurred since a notice was issued in the New South Wales Gazette, in August 1835; now allow me to ask you Sir, as a disinterested parson, how could the Squatters of Port Phillip know anything of this proclamation - there is no Post Office there, nor no means of direct communication with it; and how could the people of Van Diemen's Land know anything of it, when it never was issued through that Government Gazette; and even if after six or seven months' delay it found its way as a rumour into the public press of that Colony, what authority was there for its authenticity?
And if any distinction was to be made between the respective parties, it sorely should be shewn in favour of those, who, trusting in the generosity of the British Government, did not pretend to derive their title to their locations from savages, purchased at the expense of a few trinkets, whilst the Company, as they are ironically styled, set the sovereignty of our Government at defiance by resorting to such novel and silly expedients to establish a claim, which was equally open to others to practice, if they chose to stoop to it.
The British Government have a right to exercise sovereignty over the entire territory of New South Wales, or they have not - if they have, it should be exercised leniently, justly, and impartially, and if not, let the sale of lands by the Aborigines be declared legal at once.
I hope that no petty jealousy of the Settlers from Van Diemen's Land having burst the limits of their island, and occupied a deserted portion of the territory of New South Wales, could for a moment influence the decision of the Council, or induce them to depart from the spirit of the instructions sent out by the Secretary for the Colonies respecting the treatment of those unfortunate Emigrants, who, in hopes of improving their condition, have had the spirit and enterprise to cross Bass's Strait.
It is said that some allowance is to be given in favor of those who have brought over stock, and nothing in favor of those who have built houses, and planted gardens, and made other agricultural improvements; now the former are those who have reaped something by their speculation, whilst the latter have only in occurred great expense and no profit - and must now give up their improvements to the competition (at the notorious land sales of those colonies) of land sharks, jobbers, and speculators, for as to expect any consideration from such people, it is quite out of the question, when they can obtain no compensation from the Government.
An unprejudiced person would suppose that there was scope and room enough for all the speculating Graziers of New South Wales, in the extensive Plains of Moneroo, Yass, Bathurst, and Goulburn; exclusive of vast plains to the west and north of those plains, there are great rivers in the latter direction, which have neither been named or explored, on the banks of which interminable plains and fine alluvial soil are stated to be found, but no attempt is as yet made towards settling or occupying them.
Yet I will venture to say, that if a few Settlers from Van Diemen's Land would go there, it would be immediately cried up as an Eldorado, and the greatest jealousy excited and opposition thrown in their way - such narrow views are, a proof, if any were wanting, that the people of this Colony are bad political economists, for if all the inhabitants of Van Diemen'a Land were removed to this Colony it would add to their wealth, industry, and consequent prosperity, but the people of that Colony are treated as if they were foreigners, and did not belong to, or were members of the same great Empire. Let then all those who do not belong to the squad of Mr. Gellibrand retire - for they will neither meet with encouragement or sympathy here.
They must be content to sustain the first disappointment and loss, for it is as nothing compared to what they would have to endure if they would attempt to enter into competition with the land sharks and jobbers of Sydney, at a distance of five to six hundred miles from their location.
It is well known that at these land sales it is nothing uncommon to be opposed by a fellow, at these sinks of corruption, until you satisfy his avarice by a bribe, and even then a second, or a third, may start up for a like purpose, until at length the section is run up beyond its value; even persons who call themselves gentlemen and merchants are not ashamed to be found trading in such discreditable transactions, often forcing the emigrant, by such opposition, out of the Country, when it ought to be their duty to foster and protect them.
Many of whom, after repeated efforts to obtain an eligible spot to settle on, have been compelled to leave the Colony in disgust, and return home in bitter grief and disappointment, lamenting that they ever had the misfortune to leave the peaceful shores of their native country.
Yours, &c., A Friend To Colonization. Sydney, October 29, 1836.
[Our Correspondent will have seen thatt we agree with him in wandering at the distinction made by Council.
As for any jealousy, that is not the motive of that Body in refusing greater encouragement than they have - for that Body well knows that the growth of Port Phillip will add to our own in many ways. Ed.]