Significant Events

London Dinner to Farewell Australind Settlers

The Directors of the Western Australian Company celebrated the occasion of the sailing of their first ship, the Island Queen to Australind by a dejeuner at Lovegrove’s West India Dock Tavern, Blackwall, London on Monday 31 August, 1840. Over five hundred people attended including notables such as Sir James Stirling (first Governor of Western Australia), Elizabeth Fry (‘the Prisoners’ Friend’), Edward Gibbon Wakefield (upon whose ideas the settlement was founded), the Rev. John Wollaston and the Lord Mayor of London with members of the Clifton family. Although wordy – the philosophy behind colonization is insightful; and the speeches pertaining to the Australind settlement are full of optimism.

X1                 X2                      X3                        X4

     Elizabeth Fry[1]             Edward Gibbon Wakefield[2]            Rev. John Wollaston[3]                  Sir James Stirling[4]


There are duties obligatory on nations and on individuals, not less sacred than the hallowed rites of religion, of which, indeed, they form a part, in the same manner as good works naturally flow from faith. Among the more important of those social duties is the founding of new settlements – the planting of young colonies – the extension of our lineage, language, and laws – and the dissemination of our revealed religion in distant parts of the earth.

In the previous numbers of this periodical, we have fully dwelt on the history of ancient and modern colonies, and on the political, commercial, and social advantages of transmarine possessions to an insular kingdom like England; but we cannot refrain, on the founding of another infant-state on the western shores of the vast island of New Holland, (Australia), from congratulating our country on the practical working of the great and noble cause of colonization. “Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth,” was the Divine command; and he must have an obdurate heart, and an unthinking head, who can behold, without emotion, the fulfilment of the decree of Omnipotence.

England, the queen-mother of nations, sits brooding on the waters beneath the firmament, peopling the desert with her rapidly-accumulating, active, intelligent, and industrious offspring; making the vast ocean the highway of her children, and obtaining increased prolifickness and power, as every succeeding generation departs from the maternal womb, to till, civilize, and gladden the beautiful habitation wherein God hath placed us.

What a peculiar privilege the Almighty has thus bestowed on Britain! May she then feel the deep responsibility devolving on her actions and counsels, and, with an humble consciousness that the blessings thus vouchsafed are given, not merely for her good, but with the view of promoting the ultimate design of creation; may she pursue with righteousness and judgment the high and holy behests which an Omniscient Providence has decreed and confided to her execution for the salvation and happiness of mankind.

It is one of the innumerable wise ordinations of our Creator, that our necessities and our duties, when properly understood, go hand-in-hand; the one stimulating to action, the other guiding the course of conduct, and leading it to a beneficial result. Emigration is now become a necessity to England. With a population increasing in a far greater ratio than the means of subsistence and employment; while the whole surface is densely occupied; with an extension of education which naturally teaches the poorest understanding to raise himself above the condition of a mere animal; and with a consequent physical and mental pressure of all classes, which, if not remedied threatens the social fabric with utter ruin – emigration to another portion of our magnificent empire, is the most feasible, judicious, and Christian measure which can be adopted, not only with a view to present relief, but also as a means of obtaining future good. Herein, then, we perceive how naturally our necessities and our duties harmonize with each other.

The necessity being fully demonstrated, the next point for consideration is, how it may be best regulated. In various parts of the dominions of England there is an abundance of waste land – covered with the thorn and thistle, where corn and grass should grow. This, the first element of subsistence, requires two other adjuncts – labour and capital; and which, as the primary product, it is amply capable of producing. By the judicious sale or disposal of that land, labour and capital become vested in the soil; food and raiment are augmented; and the surplus mouths or money of one portion of the world is transferred to where it is required for the benefit of the community at large.

Thus land, capital, and labour go hand in hand – each aiding the other, and advancing the growth of human happiness. To these, however, have been added other highly important adjuncts, namely, the means of providing the blessings of religious instruction and of diffusing sound moral principles.

It is these latter considerations which will render the new settlement of Australind a substantial benefit to many well-disposed persons, who find a large family growing up around them, with diminishing means for their support. We are not, therefore, surprised that that excellent lady, Mrs. Fry, and her philanthropic relative, Mr. S. Gurney, have taken a heartfelt interest in the settlement of Australind, which, we trust, they will render another Pennsylvania, with all the benefit which time and experience may enable them to bring for the good of Southern Pennsylvania. Whatever those good citizens – the Society of Friends – undertake, is sure to prosper; the blessing of God seems to go with them in all their works; and if a poor, weak, erring, and sinful mortal be permitted to express a judgement on human actions, they deserve all the favour that a merciful and all-gracious Being can bestow on their truly benevolent efforts. They seem never to tire of doing good, believing that in all labour, but that of sin, there is profit. It gladdens the heart of one whose pulse beat high for the redemption of fallen man, to see the wise and the good combining for the glorious purpose of providing for the physical, moral, and religious wants of our suffering fellow-creatures, and believing that the Almighty never permits a righteous work to go unblessed, we have not a shadow of misgiving as to the ultimate results of the Australind settlement.

The good and the wise ought therefore to combine for the purpose of directing aright the stream of emigration, and capital, where it may be most beneficial, not merely for the individuals immediately interested in the dispersion, but for the welfare of the nation of which they form a part. Moral principles must be made to go hand in hand with social duties; the seeds of truth must be sown with the grains of food, and new colonies will thus become a blessing and permanent advantage in a material as well as a spiritual sense; peace and happiness will assuredly produce augmenting property and population; and those who expected solely a small return of moral wisdom will reap extensively worldly good.

Holding these views, it delights us to witness the foundation-stone of the colony of Australind under the auspices of those who know how to combine the present with the future, and to render commerce and agriculture subservient to the purposes of Christian civilization. A great and glorious triumph awaits England on the shores of the vast island of Australia, of which as yet we know little more than the sea-coast margin, and which to all appearance offers abundant room for the surplus population and wealth of England. New Holland, or, as it is now more generally called, Australia, is little inferior in size to the entire continent of Europe; embracing a great variety of climate between the parallels of 10 and 40 deg. S. Lat., with a width from E. to W. of 3000 miles, and a nearly oval coast-line of more than 8000 miles, surrounded by the Pacific and Indian oceans. Nature seems to have designed its position with a view to the civilization of the Eastern hemisphere; and assuredly Almighty Providence, in permitting its colonization by the Anglo-Saxon race, is evidently working out some grand and comprehensive plan for the happiness of millions of the human race.

That portion of this immense island to which we refer, and now termed Australind, is situated on the western coast, within the territories of the British colony termed Swan River, or Western Australia; a colony which owes its origin to the energy and foresight of Captain (now Sir James) Stirling, R.N., who perceived its eligibility for a settlement, and induced the British government to occupy the territory in 1829. For ten years the colony was utterly neglected, and but for the perseverance and manly fortitude of Sir James Stirling, its governor, would probably have been abandoned by the government, who knew little, and cared less, for the intrinsic value of the possession.

It would be unnecessary to detail the events connected with Western Australia. Suffice it to observe, that the favourable geographical site of this portion of Australia for communication with India, England, the Cape of Good Hope, &c. – the remarkable salubrity of its climate the absence of those droughts which afflict the eastern coast of Australia – the beauty of the country – and the circumstance of no prisoners having been sent from England – have led to the association of a number of highly respectable persons, for the purpose of founding a new town and settlement within the limits of the colony of Western Australia, but under the distinct management of a resident commissioner and subordinate officers, appointed by the company which has been formed in London for the purchase of large tracts of land in the vicinity of Port Leschenault, as shown on the annexed map.

The proceedings of the directors of the company organized for this patriotic purpose appear judicious, and deserving of imitation.

The company has acquired extensive tracts of land in the colony, and amongst them a large grant in the maritime county of Wellington, near the junction of the Collie and the Brunswick rivers, which discharge themselves into Leschenault inlet, at the mouth of which there is a safe and commodious roadstead. On this grant the town will be founded called Australind. The site has been chosen for its fitness with respect to naval and commercial advantages, the fertility of the adjoining country, and the beautiful scenery which it commands. The company posses 170,000 acres of this territory; are disposing of 50,500 acres, whereof 500 (part of 1000) are to be appropriated for the new town of Australind. Each lot consists of 100 acres of country land, together with one acre of town land, and the price at which it is sold is 101 pounds or 20 shillings the acre, the company pledging themselves to apply one-half of the purchase-money received by them to provide for the conveyance of emigrants as labourers to Australind, whereby the value of the land so disposed of will be greatly enhanced: the remaining half of the purchase-money will be reserved to meet the company’s expenses. The comparative shortness of passage and cheapness on conveyance to Western Australia, enables this company to accomplish its object of transmitting labourers for 50 per cent. on the purchase money.

To the founders of Australind, then, we say, Go on in your glorious career of spreading peace and happiness in the distant corners of the earth – give aid to those of your industrious and poorer brethren, who are desirous of exerting themselves on the fertile and salubrious shore of Australia, for mitigating the pressure of want which now assails them, and which prevents their thoughts being directed towards eternity. You cannot employ your money at better interest here or hereafter, than by vesting it in land, which the worthy, poor, but virtuously rich, may till, and gladden with their labour and skill.

A rich, a golden harvest awaits you, and those who sow the most abundantly, will reap the most plenteously. It is the part of a good Christian to leave nothing neglected in his duty, and then to commit results to Providence. This is the case with the promoters of the Australind settlement; they have chosen an able, practical, much and deservedly respected gentleman, of long tried worth and official experience, for their head commissioner, and he, with his numerous and interesting family, are preparing to take their departure with the first body of emigrants, for the purpose of founding Australind. May God speed and bless their labours – and health, peace, and plenty, with honestly acquired wealth, and true happiness, attend their career in the southern portions of this wonderful empire!


(In our Home Intelligence will be found an account of an entertainment recently given at Blackwall, by the directors of the Western Australian Company, to a numerous and highly respectable assembly, on the occasion of the departure of the “Island Queen,” a small vessel sent out to Australind with the surveyors, and advance or pioneer body of settlers, to prepare for the arrival of the main staff of the settlement. We regret that it is not in our power to furnish as complete a report as we could wish of the meeting, than which nothing could exceed the harmony and fervent spirit which was manifested throughout the day. There were about 250 ladies present, and every person seemed embued with the purest and holiest Christian feelings.


The Directors of the Western Australian Company celebrated the occasion of the sailing of their first ship, the Island Queen, by a dejeuner at Lovegrove’s West India Dock Tavern, on Monday the 31st of August last. The company were invited to an inspection of the vessel at three o’clock, and about that hour they arrived in considerable numbers; and spent the interval between that time and five o’clock in trips to and from the ship, which lay a short distance from the hotel, covered with the flags of all nations. She is a magnificent armed schooner measuring about 120 feet in length, carrying 12 cabin-passengers and 15 in the fore-cabin, and floats on her native element with grace and dignity; she was built by Mr. Rasay, of Cowes. At a little after five, the numerous guests crowded towards Lovegrove’s large room; which proved too small for this occasion, there being above 500 present. There was ample accommodation however, afforded for all who were not fortunate enough to obtain seats in this room, into which, after the dejeuner, all congregated to hear the speeches. At the head of the table sat the chairman, John Chapman, Esq., the Lord Mayor, Mr. Slaney, M.P., Mr. Charles Buller, M.P., Mr. J Duncan, Lord and Lady Petre and Miss Petre, Lady Agnes Buller, Mr. Samuel Gurney, Mrs. Fry, Mr. and Mrs. Clifton, Sir Jas. Stirling, Sir John and Lady Barrow, Sir John and Lady Rennie, Mr. Edward Chapman, Sir Duncan M’Dougall, Mr. Somes, Mr. Aglionby, M.P., Mr. Wakefield, Captain Nairne, Mr. Brooking, Mr. and Mrs. Montefiore, Mr. David Chapman, Dr. and Mrs. Paris, Mr. Robert Clifton, Captain Hine, Mr. Baldwin, M.P., Captain Sir John Hill, R.N., Captain Shirreff, R.N., Colonel and Mr. Brotherton, Major Macarthur, Mr. Alston, M.P., Reverend Mr. Wollaston, Reverend C. Torlesse, Mr. Irving, Mr. Buckle, Captain Bingham, &c. &c. The ladies present were conspicuous for there [sic] beauty and elegant attire.

The Chairman proposed as the first toast, “The Queen and Prince Albert.” (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman then gave “The Queen Dowager.” (Loud cheers.)

The Chairman next gave “The Navy and Army.”

Captain Shirreff, R.N., and Sir D. M’Dougall, respectively returned thanks.

The Chairman then proposed the health of Lord John Russell and the Colonial Department. In doing so, he begged to assure the meeting that this toast was brought forward on no party or political ground; he felt that Lord John Russell had shown himself an enlightened Colonial Minister; and although he was opposed in politics to his lordship, he yet could not help giving him credit for honesty of purpose. (Cheers.) He hoped that the toast would be drunk without reference to party feeling, as a matter of courtesy to the Minister for the Colonies. (Cheers.)

The Chairman next said that he had a toast to give which he was sure all would receive with pleasure; it was, “The health of the Lord Mayor,” who, at the sacrifice of many engagements, gave them his company that day. (Loud cheers.) He was proud to see there the representative of that nobility who had transferred their honours untarnished through many generations, but he was prouder still to be surrounded by the aristocracy of industry, who had spread the blessings of civilization and morality to all quarters of the globe. (Cheers.) At the head of the body who were foremost in this good work was the Lord Mayor, and he trusted that as he met that distinguished individual for the first time that day, their friendship might prove as lasting as the success of the present undertaking. (Loud cheers.)

The Lord Mayor said, that though ten months of his mayoralty had elapsed, there had occurred during it no event of greater interest to him than the advancement of a Company which promised so well for the happiness and prosperity of many of his fellow-citizens. (Cheers.) He was delighted to promote by his presence so noble a purpose as that which they had met to encourage; and it was his boast that, during his year of office, he never refused his assistance in forwarding works of philanthropy, whether they related to the persecution of the Jews at Damascus, or the establishment of colonies which must tend to the relief and prosperity of the mother country. (Cheers.) He should have great pleasure in giving “The health of the Chairman.” (Loud and continued cheers.)

The Chairman replied at considerable length; assured the assemblage that, as far as the interests of the Company were concerned, they were already pretty well secured, but begged them to believe that a higher motive actuated them with regard to this enterprise – the hope of giving free play to one of the sinews of the British empire, and of promoting the moral and religious welfare of those who might emigrate to the new settlements. (Cheers.)

He then proceeded to propose the next toast, “Prosperity to the New Settlement of Australind, and the health of Mr. Clifton, the chief commissioner, and his wife and family.” The Chairman made a handsome acknowledgment of Mr. Clifton’s manly virtues, and his well-known energies and public services. Mr. Clifton, however, did not go alone. Mrs. Clifton would share her husband’s fortunes in this undertaking; his admirable qualifications were not more likely to secure prosperity to this colony, than were the engaging, and genuine qualities of his wife; who, as a female and matron, was distinguished by qualities of mind and conduct eminently qualified to inspire confidence in the respectability of the settlement. The Chairman proceeded to state that the interests of Mr. Clifton and the colony must be entirely one; Mr. Clifton, on the one hand, would find an extensive field for the exercise of his energies and talents, and the situation he held would enable him to seize the benefits which that field offered to him, in a manner, doubtless, peculiarly advantageous to himself. On the other hand, the settlement would itself largely benefit by the intelligence, energy, and experience with which their Chief Commissioner would conduct its affairs; and he might repeat, consequently, that the interests of Mr. Clifton and the settlement were essentially identified. The one would be intimately associated with the other; and the names “Clifton and Australind, Australind and Clifton,” would long be remembered by future colonists as the watch-word of the settlement; and as being indissolubly united in everything that affected its prosperity. He felt, moreover, that no one could look at the colony, the formation of which they were now assembled to commemorate, otherwise than as part and parcel of themselves. The land was British, the settlers were British; and it almost might be said that Australind was England, from the fact that English interests and English prospects were identified in every way with their new settlement. He felt, for one, that it was no expatriation his worthy friend was to endure; with him he would take out the elements of the old society, and would establish there the same English feelings, the same English habits, the same English enterprise, as he had possessed here; and, in short, the colonies were so connected with the mother-country in every way, that he could almost say he then stood in their new colony, in Australind itself, and it seemed to him as his native place – so fully did he feel the identity of the mother-country and the branches which were now spreading over the vast Australian continent. He would not detain the meeting any longer; but would conclude by giving the toast he had at first proposed, and he felt certain it would be most cordially and unanimously received.

These remarks, introductory of the grand object of the day, both in their enunciation and reception excited the sympathies of the meeting in a remarkable degree. The toast was drunk with enthusiastic applause.

Mr. Clifton returned thanks in the following terms of modest and manly feeling:-

I wish I could adequately express my sense of the honour you have done me by associating in the toast you have proposed of “Prosperity to the new settlement of Australind,” the health of myself and of my family; and I still more anxiously wish I could express the gratitude which I feel for the very kind and flattering manner in which that toast has been received and drunk by this distinguished assemblage. But, Sir, if the emotions which at this moment agitate my bosom prevent me from expressing my gratitude, I beg you to believe that I really feel it – that shall never forget the kindness which has been shown us on this occasion, and that my wife, my family, and myself, will long recollect it with gratification and gratitude in the far distant land to which we are about to proceed. ir, I hope, however, that you will forgive me for remarking, that in the kindness of your disposition towards me, you have very greatly overrated my public services, and have in anticipation set too high a value upon those which I shall be able to render to the Western Australian Company. The only merit which I can claim for my conduct while filling a public station is that of having had a zealous and an anxious desire to do my duty; and the only promise which I can now make is, that is still more anxious desire will animate me to perform my duty with zeal and fidelity in the more important station to which I have been called in the service of this Company. Of the importance of the duties of the post which I have now the proud honour to fill, no one can be more deeply sensible than myself; and, Sir, although I never was, and am not now, afraid of responsibility, I feel that the responsibility which will rest upon me will be very weighty indeed; and that I shall require all your indulgent consideration to overlook my imperfections. I feel, moreover, strongly, Sir, that the success of this undertaking as an enterprise must necessarily, in a great degree, depend upon the measures which I may at first adopt; that the happiness of the settlers and emigrants to a considerable degree will be affected by my acts; and that the social, and moral, I had almost said, the religious condition of the settlement, will be greatly influenced by the conduct of myself and family. With these feelings, Sir, we enter upon our most important and sacred trust, with a determination to exert the best energies of our minds, and the best feelings of our hearts, to promote the advantage of every class whose interests will be affected by our proceedings; and to encourage, by every means in our power, religion and virtue, industry and temperance, and peace and good-will amongst the settlers; and, Sir, with honest intentions, and looking for support from that source from which alone it can be received, we humbly, but confidently hope, that, by the blessing of God, our exertions will be crowned with success.

Of one thing, however, I am certain, Sir, that if we are not successful, the fault will be ours – that it will arise from our mismanagement – for the field before us is a splendid one, and possesses elements which, if well directed, will produce abundant and fine fruit.

Important to the prosperity of the settlement as the position in which it is to be formed must necessarily be, it will be interesting, I am sure, to the assemblage before me to be informed, that the point which has been selected for the operations of the powerful company of which you, Sir, are so distinguished a member, is, perhaps, the finest which could have been chosen on the face of the globe for the formation of a new settlement, whether with reference to the objects of trade and commerce, or to the more quiet and peaceful occupation of agricultural and pastoral settlers. Western Australia, to which public attention was first called, by a gentleman of distinguished station and talents, whom I have the happiness to see here, and who is alike eminent for his public services, as Secretary to the Admiralty, and the assistance he has given to the promotion of geographical knowledge – I mean Sir John Barrow – Western Australia, I say, has advantages over every other portion of the great island, or rather continent, on which it is situated. Its lesser distance from Great Britain and Cape of Good Hope – its proximity to the Mauritius, the Indian Archipelago, and the principal ports of our great eastern empire – all combine to point it out as the best situated part of that wide country for the pursuits of commerce; while its fertile soil, its abundant pastures, its salubrious climate, its exemption from desolating drought, its fine timber and various natural resources, and, above all, its abundant supply of water, combine to render it the most desirable region for the permanent settler. Already the colony planted there – commonly call the Swan River Settlement – after encountering and surmounting great difficulties, has made steady and satisfactory progress, under the able government of a gallant officer, Sir James Stirling, whom I am happy to see here, and under the present enlightened governor, Mr. Hutt, the brother of our able and worthy chairman. The laws are justly administered; the state of society of the colony is good; and all that is wanting to advance its prosperity is the application in it of those principles of colonization and emigration which have been applied with such signal success in other points. Of that wise system, which an honourable Director of our Company, Mr. Wakefield, is the author of, the Western Australian Company, are about to adopt and carry into operation in the region within the limits of Mr. Hutt’s government, which they have selected for the new settlement of Australind; and, with the great and liberal views of the company, no one can doubt of the complete success of their plans, if their affairs are properly administered. I need not remark, that of all the districts in Western Australia, that which the Company possess is admitted to be the finest. The soil, the climate, the rivers which never dry, and, above all, the anchorage and port, render it superior to, and more desirable than, any other spot yet located; and, if I should be happy enough to effect that improvement which we contemplate at the mouth of the port, then, indeed, we shall have a harbour superior to every other in Western Australia, and, perhaps, equal to any in the world. Here it is, in the immediate vicinity of the port, and on a spot of unrivalled beauty, that Australind is to be; and here, can now speak with confidence, that Australind will very shortly be founded. The sales of land and town allotments, during the short time which has elapsed since the Company commenced operations, have already reached an enormous amount. Capitalists, merchants, agriculturists, artisans, and labourers, are preparing to go out, and in order that we may not be unprepared for them, it has been wisely determined to send out at once the powerful surveying establishment whose embarkation in the Island Queen we this day commemorate. Mr. Austin, the chief surveyor, has ample instructions for marking out the town, and dividing a large extent of country into allotments for settlers. With me, who am to follow in a few weeks, a powerful body of colonists will go out; not merely a few stragglers, but such a body as really will bear the name of a colony. Happily for those of us who are members of the church of England, we carry our church with us. We have a gentleman going out to settle with us, whom we have recognised as our clergyman, Mr. Wollaston, whose name is a guarantee for learning and piety, and who himself possesses, in an eminent degree, those attainments and good qualities which seem hereditary in his family. We have a medical officer, Dr. Carpenter, of distinguished professional skill and experience, and scientific attainments. The Bank of Australind is in course of formation, and we hope in a few days will be ready to receive the deposits of intending settlers. In fact, we have already all the materials of a complete colony. To it we invite the enterprising from this country, and the invalid from India; the man of capital, the man of science, the merchant, the farmer, and the industrious labourer will all find occupation at our settlement; or even the parent established in the Australian colonies, or in India, who is anxious to give the blessings of sound education to his children, but unable to send them to England, or unwilling to be so far separated from them, may, we hope, ere long resort to Australind for the accomplishment of his object. We invite those inclined to colonize to join not a visionary or speculative scheme, but a sound and profitable enterprise, and in a climate in which health and every other blessing of life may be enjoyed. To this land of promise I am about to proceed, with the greater part of the numerous family with which it has pleased God to bless me. Would to God that every one of my fourteen children could accompany me. Ten, however, do accompany me, and I earnestly hope that my other four, of whom three are in service of their country, will, before long, gather round me and settle in Australind too. Thus, although duty now leads me there in the execution of very important trusts as Chief Commissioner under this Company, I go with the intention of planting myself and family as permanent settlers in Western Australia, and consequently to be identified with all the important and lasting interests of Australind. As an Australindian I speak, and express the hope that at no distant period I may see the new settlement take an important station amongst the colonies of the British empire, and Australind, as the maritime capital of Western Australia, not only the emporium of trade and commerce, but distinguished for its high moral, religious and intellectual character. If I and my family can contribute to this result, we shall indeed have cause for pride, looking, however, only for our reward in the approbation of the Directors and of the British public, and in the prosperity and happiness of our fellow colonists. Apologizing, sir, for having so imperfectly said what I wished to say, and again assuring you and this company of the heartfelt gratitude which I feel for the kind and most truly flattering expressions respecting my wife and family – for your sympathy and good wishes, I again return you my most grateful thanks, and earnestly wish health, happiness, and long life to every person here present.

Mr. Clifton’s speech was received with frequent and cordial cheering, and he sat down amidst loud acclamations and the waving of handkerchiefs.

Mr. S. Gurney rose to bear his testimony to the efficiency of his friend and relative Waller Clifton, for the important office which he had been chosen to fill; and expatiated warmly on the superior qualities possessed by Mrs. Clifton for the position she would occupy in the colony. He spoke in strong terms of the advantages that would result to the settlement from having a lady of her highly religious and virtuous character presiding over it. He felt that she would, by her influence and kindness, mainly promote the happiness of the colonists and the prosperity of the settlement. He could not help adverting to the state of the aboriginal inhabitants of our colonies. It was only lately that a strong and general feeling had been created on this subject: but if we looked to the history of the colonies we should find, with but few exceptions, that wherever British settlements have been formed, the most unprincipled conduct had been adopted with reference to the natives. Let them look particularly to Van Diemen’s Land, where there actually did not remain one aboriginal inhabitant: they had been literally exterminated. And in short, the whole intercourse which had taken place between Englishmen and the aborigines of the various colonies which have been founded, was a history of treatment of the inferior race, so opposed to every principle of Christianity and humanity, as must excite the surprise and sorrow of all truly enlightened men. Mr. Gurney expressed an earnest hope that in the proceedings of this colony a very different course would be adopted, and that the settlers would, as was eminently their duty, do all in their power to promote and foster kind and friendly feelings between the races. Mr. Gurney concluded by repeating expressions of regard towards Mr. Clifton and his family, and by expressing his hearty concurrence in the objects of the Company, and his warm desire to see it prosper. (Mr. Gurney’s speech was greeted with the loudest applause).

“The Ladies” were not forgotten in the chairman’s lists of toasts: he referred to the interesting fact of a female swaying the sceptre of this mighty empire, and, alluding to the rule she possessed, avowed for his own part that he never could object to be governed by the ladies, and as nothing could be done without them, they were entitled to make their own terms for obedience. (laughter and cheers.)

After them, the Chairman proposed the health of Lord Petre and the other guests.

Lord Petre, in returning thanks, assured the meeting that he felt much gratification in attending there that day. He had always taken a great interest in this subject of colonization, and particularly as one of his sons had recently emigrated to one of the new settlements. He could not agree with his worthy friend the Chairman in the opinion that Lord John was honestly disposed to assist the formation of new colonies: for his part, he thought that the greatest enemy they had to contend with was the Colonial Office. The greatest mismanagement had taken place in all our colonies; and “the office” was equally unwilling that better principles should be adopted in the government of old colonies, and that new settlements should be formed on an improved basis. The noble lord concluded by expressing his warm concurrence in the objects of the Company.

The Chairman next gave “Sir James Stirling, the founder and first Governor of Western Australia.”

Sir James Stirling then addressed the meeting:-

For the honour which this company has been pleased to bestow upon me individually by the last toast, I beg you will accept my warm acknowledgments; but I cannot take to myself alone the compliment implied, when you speak of the foundation of this colony in Western Australia. It belongs of right in common with me to a body of British subjects, entitled to the approbation of their countrymen, and more especially to the sympathy of those who are the friends and promoters of the great work of colonization. It is now thirteen years since, accompanied and zealously supported by my gallant friend on my right (Captain Carnac), I trod for the first time the desert shore of that vast territory. At that period, there were few in this country who took a clear view of the national policy in reference to colonization. The master-spirits of the day were silent on this important subject; and that mighty impulse under which our hospitable entertainers are now conducting their own particular enterprise had not yet an existence. But even in that day, a small band of Englishmen went forth to add another region to the British empire. It is assumed that they have not been successful: let those who seek the truth examine their present condition, and they will know the contrary; but I cannot close my reference to that enterprising body without bearing witness to the energy of character, the unity of purpose, and the admirable probity of conduct which they have displayed. In an affecting address to this company a few minutes back, a gentleman, eminent and most deservedly influential amongst his fellow-citizens, made reference to the treatment received by the aboriginal race: and he stated, in advocating their cause, that they had suffered from neglect, if not from oppression. I reverence the motive which prompted that speech, for I recognise in it the voice of humanity; but as the friend of justice – to which cause I feel that the gentleman referred to is also a friend – I must beg to state, on the part of the colonists in Western Australia, as a body, that they never have been unmindful of the awful responsibility incurred when they settled uninvited in a barbarous country. For my own part, I have nothing to say on this head; it was my duty, enjoined by every proper feeling, no less than by positive injunctions from authority, to protect that hapless race, and the first act of my administration was to place them within the protection of the law, by declaring them to be the subjects of the crown. This boon would have been a mere form, if an active and beneficent spirit had not been imparted to it by the colonists – by all, at least, who from station or personal influence could render it effective. I feel persuaded that it would give the gentleman to whom I refer as much pleasure to hear, as it does to me to record, this interesting fact. I claim, gentlemen, to have been a sincere but humble friend to colonization, and I rejoice to see its cause in the hands of such persons as I see around me. I may not, perhaps, be free to accord with them, as with others, in the modes by which this great principle of national welfare and of general civilization is to be carried out, but I am not prevented by difference of opinion on details from lending my heartfelt support to this cause. I am not so obstinate and jealous in my nature as to refuse the ground which is offered, because I have not been the maker of the road by which it has been reached; I can participate in the noble entertainment of to-day with all the delight imaginable, not withstanding I had neither part nor share in cooking the viands. The present occasion is indeed exhilarating; it is the dawn of that which I feel assured will be an important undertaking; and from the bottom of my heart I wish it success.

Sir James Stirling again rose:-

I take the great liberty to claim for an instant the notice of this company. I have been for several months a witness of the progress of this undertaking. I recollect well the early difficulties, the embarrassment, which seemed to bar its further progress; but I was also a witness of the application to it of talent, and temper, and perseverance; and even then I scarcely hoped that an influential body would be brought to act in concert in the establishment of a Western Australian Company. My estimate was incorrect – it has been established with the most remarkable success. We have had proof of its success, in the general and even the enthusiastic support which it now receives. This gentlemen, is the work of my recent zealous friend to the cause, Mr. William Hutt, the justly selected chairman of the Company, and Mr. Irving – Let me propose, then, to you, the health of these gentlemen. (Cheers.)

Mr. S. Gurney disclaimed any personal allusion to the government of Sir James Stirling. He had only expressed in general terms his regret at the treatment the aborigines in our colonies had received at the hands of settlers; and he rejoiced, in this case, that instructions had been given to the Preliminary Surveying Expedition, in all their dealings with the natives, to treat them with that forbearance and kindness their ignorance and helplessness demanded.

The Chairman next proposed the health of Mr. Charles Buller; a gentleman whose name was intimately connected with colonies and colonization, and was associated also with the memory of a nobleman equally distinguished as a warm promoter and supporter of colonization. It could not but be a matter of rejoicing that the efforts of these individuals were daily better understood and appreciated. Colonies were at length looked to as the means of infinitely extending our trade and commerce.

“We are threatened,” said the chairman “with war; and I need not say how fervently we all desire it may be averted: but should such a calamity befall us, and should the ports of other nations be closed against our manufactures, should we no longer be able to import their raw material, we should look to our colonies for our consumers of the one and producers of the other. Were the ports of Russia closed to our countrymen, where would you get your hemp, where would you obtain your flax, or timber? I reply, you would turn to your colonies. From thence would be freighted home the hemp, timber, and wool which you require; from British ports you would obtain them, and to British consumers you would export your boasted manufactures.”

Mr. Buller, in returning thanks, said that he could not but feel interested in the success of the Company, whose first proceedings towards the colonization of Western Australia they had met to celebrate. Himself a native of the vast colonial empire of Great Britain, he gloried in having contributed in any way to the spread of sound principles of colonization. He could not let this occasion pass without paying a tribute justly due to the memory of a noble friend now lost to his country, whose integrity and steadiness of purpose had been mainly instrumental in the diffusion of the true principles on which colonies should be established. (This allusion to Lord Durham was heartily responded to by the meeting.) After some general remarks upon the subject of colonization, Mr. Buller begged the Chairman to permit him to propose the health of one whose untiring exertions in favour of colonization, whose intimate knowledge of the subject, and whose zeal in the cause, were universally known and admired: he meant Mr. Wakefield. (Loud and prolonged cheers.) He would say no more, but would leave the toast in their hands, certain that it would meet with the reception it so much deserved.

Mr. Wakefield, in making his acknowledgments, observed, that he had attended many meetings of this nature, but he could truly say he had never seen any assemblage of the kind which equalled the present – whether with reference to the numbers and respectability of the persons present, the harmony of opinion which had prevailed amongst them, or the knowledge and warmth of feeling on the subject which had been displayed. He rejoiced to find that the principles of colonization were becoming every day better understood, and that more and more attention was devoted to the subject. As one of the Directors of the Company, he could not but bear his testimony to the eminent fitness of their Chief Commissioner, Mr. Clifton, for the important trust which had been reposed in him. His energy of character, the spirit with which he has entered into the views of the Company, as well as the virtues of his amiable wife, and the resources he possesses in his large family, must greatly tend to the happiness and prosperity of the important body of colonists about to emigrate under his guidance. It was but quite recently that he had made the personal acquaintance of Mr. Clifton, but during the short period of their acquaintance, he had had the best opportunities of estimating his character; and he declared, that among the great number of persons whom he had known as emigrants to new colonies, Mr. Clifton was, in his opinion, possessed in the highest degree of the qualities required in the leaders of such arduous undertakings. (Cheers.) At that late hour he would not detain the company further than to ask leave to propose a toast. It was that of one of their guests, whose name it would be scarcely necessary to mention, when he spoke of its connexion with the important colony of New South Wales. To the sagacity and enterprise of that gentleman’s father, New South Wales was peculiarly indebted for its remarkable prosperity, and England for that great branch of trade which had resulted from his exertions. Need he name Mr. Macarthur? (Cheers.) And as the father had laid the foundation of the prosperity of that colony, so the son might be justly termed its most useful friend in England. His constant attention to its interests, the skill and industry with which he has laboured to obtain for it the beneficial legislation of which it stands so much in need, his voluntary agency (he might call it) for the country of his birth – all this entitled him to be termed the representative of New South Wales; and it was as such that he begged leave to propose the health of Major Macarthur. (Loud cheers.)

Major Macarthur briefly returned thanks.

After the health of Sir John Barrow, (who had unfortunately previously left the room) and several other toasts had been drunk, and thanks voted to the Chairman, the dejeuner terminated, and the well-pleased company separated about ten o’clock.

This celebration will be long remembered by those who were present. It was a delightfully harmonious and impressive meeting. The assembly felt that it had been convened for no trivial or party purpose, that its object was the extension of the Colonial Empire of Great Britain, in a quarter of the world peculiarly her own, from whence in after time would doubtless spring mighty events and national results. The little schooner moored alongside the hotel, was to carry out intelligence that British civilization and improvement were on their way to a rich, though uncultivated country. All appeared penetrated with the belief that the people of this country were gradually becoming aware, that as regards their colonies, there were many duties demanded of them. Sure we are, that meetings similar to the one we have thus recorded, will not only extend that knowledge, but carry hope and gladness to a dependency hitherto the most neglected of the British Empire.

(The Colonial Magazine and Commercial-Maritime Journal. Edited by Robert Montgomery Martin, Esq. Author of ‘The History of the British Colonies’, etc. September – December 1840, Vol 3. Published by Fisher & Son, & Co., Newgate Street, London; Hunter Street Liverpool; and Rue St Honore, Paris.)

Reproduced with the kind permission of the State Library of Western Australia.

[1] Elizabeth Fry by Charles Robert Leslie via Wikipedia Commons

[2] Edward Gibbon Wakefield by Benjamin Holl (1808-1884) via Wikipedia Commons

[3] Rev. John Wollaston, via Wikipedia Commons

[4] Sir James Stirling via Wikipedia Commons

[5] The Colonial Magazine and Commercial-Maritime Journal, pp. 197–201

[6] The Colonial Magazine and Commercial-Maritime Journal, pp. 237–243