On the occasion of a recent visit to Hobart, as I wandered over the scenes of my childhood, I found myself mentally exclaiming against the Vandalism of Progress, which had improved places out of all recognition, and in some places had obliterated landmarks once so familiar, and still well remembered. Cold, unenthusiastic utilitarianism had crushed out all sentiment, I thought of the time when I had been accustomed to walk along the pebbly beach extending from the Commissariat (now Bonded) Stores to Murray-street, and of the difficulty experienced at a high state of the tide in passing along dry shod, as the waters dashed against the fence which skirted the foot of the hill at the back of old Government House—of old Government House itself occupied successively by Governors Sorell, Arthur, Franklin, Wilmot, and Denison; embowered and almost hidden in a sylvan growth of blue gum trees and native shrubs, its upper and lower piazzas festooned and secluded by creepers and trailing plants, and its old paling fence barring the further extension of Elizabeth street. Now that street has cut its way through the site of the old weather boarded vice-regal residence, which no longer exists, the trees and shrubs up rooted and burnt, and the hill on which it stood cut down and thrown into the river to form wharves and docks.
Shade of—no, we will not perpetuate the offensive cognomen—shade of Rev. Robert Knopwood, whose kindly shake of the hand and pat on the head in 1829, has given rise sometimes to the fanciful conceit that I must be somewhat of a link in the history of the colony between the quarter of a century that preceded, and the more than half a century that has passed away since. Kind, genial, and at times anti-clerically jovial little old gentleman! Where is the prettily situated cottage on the side of the Battery Hill, looking northwards, once occupied by you, and the picturesque garden sloping down towards the pebbly beach? Even in your time the clanking of chains was heard all day for years, proceeding from a large gang of some hundreds of prisoners engaged in cutting down the verdant slope, and hurling it into the river to form wharves. There was the old hulk moored close to the shore during the day, and when the men were safe on board at night, warped out some 60 or 100 yards—a prison, around which the waters of the cove formed an impassable moat. And now, where the hill, the cottage, and garden once stood, a row of substantial stone stores has been erected close under tile scarped cliffs, and the pebbly beach, and the sandy beach further on, where the whaleboats were drawn up in readiness for the signal shout 'There she spouts', are things of the past. Forgive, venerable shade, the liberty I have taken, and now R I P.
What is this? another shade? Yes, an old man cometh up. Very active, short in stature, clad in nether garments that reach to the knees; in summer wearing stockings of purest white, low shoes with a broad silver buckle on each instep; in winter, his legs incased in high top boots, brilliant with Day and Martin's best polish, a coat cut away in front, vest reaching to the hips, frilled shirt front, high stock, and black beaver—he passes before my mental vision 'a fine old English gentleman, one of the olden time.' Issuing from this trimly kept garden at the corner of Macquarie and Molle streets, 1 recognise him as John Fawkner, the father of the founder of Port Phillip.
'Ah ! talk of "giving an inch and taking an ell," see how the airy visions troop along. Colonel Arthur, mounted upon a shadowy steed, stern and sphynx-like : beside him rides a gay young officer, his aide-de-camp; Judge Peddor (eagle-eyed); Judge Montagu and his brother Otto, the barrister; Joseph Hone (bland and benignant); Captain Montagu (Colonial Secretary) ; Gellibrand the elder, and his unfortunate son (late Attorney-General) ; T. G. Gregson; followed by his antagonist Jellicoe, on crutches; Burnett (sheriff) ; A. F. Kemp (noli me tangere); Collicott (postmaster) etc., etc. Magistrates—J. Lakeland, P. A Mulgrave(single-eyed) ; James Gordon, Josiah Spode, N. Wood, etc. — Revs. W. Bedford and James Norman (England); P. Conolly (R.C.), Archibald Macarthur (Scotch); Benjamin Carvosso (Wesleyan). Medical—Drs. J. Scott, Crowther, Westbrook, Seccombe, and Bryant. Journalists—A. Bent, Robert Lathrop Murray, Dr. Ross, H. Melville, J. C. Macdougall, and Gilbert Robertson. But see, what a quarrelsome lot this last is! There go Andrew and Lathrop pitching into the doctor, and the latter good-humouredly defends himself till Gilbert rushes in, dignifying the doctor by the name of 'Slop,' and spitting venom as black as his face. See the doctor is fairly aroused now, and knocking the villainous set-up type into ' pye,' is felled by someone to the ground by a blow from a walking-stick. Pass on, pass on.
Thick and fast swarm past the visionary throng. Who is that little old man, infirm and stooping, clad in a long tweed coat, crowned with a broad brimmed yellow-coloured beaver, the hinder brim resting on his shoulders, from whose capacious pockets peep forth suspicious-looking long-folded papers? With his long nose, close set, sparkling and listless grey eyes, and tongue darting out between his toothless gums, and rapidly swooping round and moistening his sunken lips—he moves about amid the throng as if scenting his prey. Like a bloodhound on the track, he dodges in and out of the crowd; then comes the fatal spring and the ominous tap on the shoulder. Ah ! M—it is no use trying to evade your fate. Murphy 'the tapper' has come into personal contact with you, and with him you must go or be considered a prisoner at large. Yes, I recognise all your familiar faces, and could fill page after page with reminiscence, anecdote, and incident. But time and space are limited and the grave is sacred—so Presto! vanish!
Where am I now? On Battery Point. How often have I roamed over its bald,but by no means smooth crown, unencumbered then by windmill, church, or dwelling—down to the grove of black wattles overlooking Sandy Bay, either in solitary musing or in the company of my schoolmates seeking for the exuding gum. Now the grove is swept away, and the sylvan site, and the bald stony crown are intersected by streets and covered with buildings. And thus I went on mentally persecuted by the recurrence of an old song heard in my youth:- Then were the days for games and gambols, Oxford street was covered with brambles, Hedges, ditches, ponds of water Now there's nothing but bricks and mortar. Heigho! heigho! one can but grieve For the good old days of Adam and Eve.
Utilitarianism versus Sentiment. So it has been, so it is, aye, and so it ought to be. And thus, rousing myself from the unhealthy reverie, and by a transition as rapid and violent in its contrast as those experienced in our sleeping dreams, I pass on to a more sober and rational mode of description. I am standing before the stone building at the lower end of Macquarie street, originally erected as a market, but now known as 'The Exhibition Building,' and recalling the time when it was a vacant marshy square plot then styled 'The Old Market Place.' (The buildings at the bottom of Murray street, which were erected about this time (1830-1) were known as 'The New Market.' (Afterwards the names were reversed.)
This square was ornamented with scores of mounds, the city's scavengings deposited there for the purpose of filling it up; there lay decomposing numerous specimens of the departed canine and feline races, and from the fetid slime and decay arose pestilential exhalations that were any thing but savory and agreeable. In winter time, after heavy rain, the conical tips of these mounds resembled islets in a miniature lake. At the angle of Campbell and Macquarie streets stood the stocks occupied at times by men, aye, and women too, who, with their feet made fast therein, were lazily basking in the rays of it summer's noontide sun, or enjoying (?) the genial rains and frosts and snows of winter.
Until a comparatively recent date a high brick wall extended from the (then) Waterloo Inn at the angle of Davey and Murray streets, Hobart, round the corner of, and along Macquarie street as far as the old Derwent Bank; from this point turning at right angles easterly, and again northerly to the point of commencement. This wall enclosed the area now occupied by several substantial stone buildings (of which the Savings Bank forms one) in Murray street, and ending in Macquarie street at the bookbinding establishment of Messrs Walch Bros, standing forward, however, twelve feet nearer to the foot path in Macquarie street than the present line of buildings. In the year 1828 — and how long before that date I know not, another brick wall running north and south, divided the enclosed area into two parts, the entrance to each being from Murray street. That nearest Davey street was by a massive double gate with a wicket, and led into H. M. Gaol; the other was simply a large door with wicket, opening into what was then known as the Female Factory. In this latter place the female convicts were confined. Colonel Arthur, who arrived here in 1824, and who, when he accepted the government of Van Diemen's Land, had no intention of being a Governor in name only—whose plans were very extensive and far reaching, and whose determination to carry them out fully was not to be thwarted—must have seen at a glance that the place afforded no scope for the exercise of the rigid discipline that he intended to enforce. In the year 1826 it is stated that more than a hundred women were crowded within the limited area of the factory. Those who were undergoing penal sentences were huddled together with those who were eligible for assigned service. Undisciplined, unclassified, and unoccupied, they spent their days in listless idleness, the bad corrupting the better, and all in a state of mind ripened for insubordination and mischief. In June of this year much of this insubordination existed, and on the 10th of that month in consequence of some alarming threats to the Superintendent and his wife (Mr and Mrs Drabble) a commission of enquiry was held, consisting of Joseph Hone; Esq., Roy. W. Bedford, Mr Kerby, and others, which resulted in four of the most outrageous of the women being hand cuffed and placed in confinement in the gaol cells. A few days afterwards a most desperate attempt at escape was made by the women, who succeeded in removing several bricks from the wall fronting on Macquarie street, and the inside of the walls that faced the streets had to be lined with thick boards to prevent further attempts. Not many days after the sitting of the commission above referred to, Mr. Bedford on again visiting the factory was savagely attacked as soon as he entered the yard by a large mob of women who, with demoniacal howls and yells subjected him to the most gross and outrageous personal maltreatment. (To be continued.) 1