[Editor: These news items are extracts from the “Domestic Intelligence” section published in the Colonial Times (Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land), 13 August 1844.]
THE “COMET” COACH. — Anxious at all times to advance the interests of the colony, more particularly when that advancement is promoted by individual enterprise and exertion, we are pleased to notice the strenuous efforts which Mr. B. Hyrons is now making to benefit the public by the spirited manner in which he manages his Launceston coach, the “Comet.” On Sunday morning the Comet left Hobart Town, reached Launceston on Sunday night, was to start again this morning, and arrive in town this evening between nine and ten o’clock, performing two additional journies in the week, on Wednesday and Friday. In the present unsatisfactory state of our “postal arrangements,” the Sunday coach of Mr. Hyrons is a vast accommodation to the public; and when we say that the coach is driven on every journey by one and the same coachman— that it has been hitherto free from accident, and has performed its journies regularly and safely, — we think we may astonish even that learned Theban of a journalist who miraculously announced, as a matter of marvellous civilisation, that there was even a stage coach running from Sydney to Hobart Town! We consider great praise due to the proprietor, who, single-handed and alone, has established this means of public accommodation, on the faith that his exertions will meet with the encouragement they deserve. The coach, we should observe, was built by Mr. Johnson, of Collins-street, and upon a construction suited to the rough and often perilous roads of the colony.
BRIDGEWATER FERRY. — As we have now a Governor who is anxious to correct abuses, and to use every effort for the benefit of the colonists, we are induced to bring under the notice of his Excellency the unfair manner in which the Government Ferry at Bridgewater is now managed. While the fares of the Risdon Ferry have been reduced, those at Bridgewater remain at the full price. Why is this? The answer is very simple. At Risdon there is an opposition ferry, excellently conducted by Mr. Hugh Drume, whose charges are moderate, and whose men are civil, obliging, and most accommodating. From this cause, then, the Risdon Ferry is advertised to be let, the fares, as we stated, being reasonably reduced. Not so the Bridgewater Ferry; and we beg leave to inform “the Government” that they have no just right (reason is out of the question) to institute and enforce so unjust a monopoly as is exercised at the Bridgewater Ferry. However unreasonable “the Government” may be, we know that Sir Eardley Wilmot is a man of sound reason and clear discernment, and in this belief we put the following case to him, when he will see at once how heavily the expensive monopoly — a Government monopoly too! — of the Bridgewater Ferry presses upon persons engaged in agriculture, trade, or commerce:— There is a sale to take place at Bagdad or some place in that neighbourhood — a large sale of stock, or other agricultural produce, or, as it may be, in these selling times, of a fine estate. Many persons may be anxious to proceed from the capital to this sale, and by leaving early in the morning, to return the same evening. Now, a portly personage, like our friend —— could not perform this journey in one day, unless at a considerable expence; for it would not be merciful for a heavy man to ride a horse to and fro in a day, and by going in a gig he would have to pay at Bridgewater as follows:— For crossing backwards and forwards, 3s. each time, and if he did not return till after sunset, a very probable occurrence these short days, there would be an additional 1s. 6d., making the total of the day’s toll 7s. 6d. We have fault to find with this — we were really going to write — extortion, on two grounds; first, the exorbitant nature of the charge, and secondly, the charge taken for a back fare. In all parts of Britain, and in Sydney also, the toll ticket admits the backward transit on the same day free of all charge, and why the striving settlers and industrious tradespeople of poor impoverished Van Diemen’s Land should be thus mulct of their hard earnings by this Government monopoly is a problem we shall leave to the sagacity of Sir Eardley Wilmot at once to solve; and we have too good an opinion of his Excellency’s desire to promote, even in the most minute way, the interests of the public, to pause for a moment, as to the course he will pursue, with regard to the Bridgewater Ferry — namely, to reduce the tolls, and advertise it to be let, by which the public will receive a tangible benefit, and the Government a certain revenue.
COLONIAL PORTER. — We have been favoured with a sample of colonial Porter, brewed by Mr. Ellis, of this city. Without, of course, possessing the full body of London Porter, it is nevertheless a very pleasant and wholesome beverage, very much resembling in flavour and quality such as we have drank in by-gone days at Bristol, Liverpool, and other large provincial towns in Britain. As a pure and excellent article of colonial manufacture, it deserves great praise and extensive encouragement, and with age will be much improved. It is sold, retail, at sixpence per pot. We are highly pleased to be enabled to state, that in the brewing of malt liquors, our metropolitan brewers have so greatly improved; with capital ale, beer, and porter now brewed here, the working man can enjoy a cool tankard, without any prejudice to his health or his morals; and sincerely do we hope that every encouragement will be given to those meritorious colonists who have devoted their capital, and their abilities, to the advancement of our colonial resources.
PROBATIONISM. — One day last week, we believe Tuesday, a posse of constables, armed with muskets, were seen to take the road towards the Government Domain, and to proceed towards the gardens. As may be supposed, the appearance of this armed force created considerable excitement, if not alarm, and a general opinion prevailed that nothing less than a desperate band of bushrangers had been discovered in the Domain, and that the constables thus armed had been despatched to capture them. Upon inquiry, however, we found that one of the gangs of probationers at work in the Domain had, after the most approved probation manner, mutinied, and positively refused to work. This being reported at the Police-office, the constables were despatched in the manner mentioned, and on their arrival, of course due subordination was immediately enforced. We are happy to be enabled to add that no rencontre took place, nor of course any bloodshed. This gang is one of those which a probation-loving contemporary had eulogised, as being so fitly calculated for Domain road-making.
EXECUTION. — On Wednesday morning last, three miserable criminals suffered the last penalty of the law at the usual place of execution within the gaol; Ganon for the rape near Richmond, and Smith and Bogle for the attempt to murder an overseer named Perry, at the Coal Mines, Port Arthur. The malefactors being Roman Catholics, were attended by the Rev. Mr. Hall. The proceedings were despatched with more than usual celerity, and in a few minutes the criminals ceased to exist. There was a large crowd of spectators, and strange to remark, with the present encreasing prevalence of crime, and the greater frequency of executions, the curiosity of the public seems to augment also, if we are to form any opinion from the crowds which congregate at an execution.
THE NEW WHARF. — Bad and disgraceful as are many of our streets and public thoroughfares, we do think that the upper end of the New Wharf and the cart road leading from wharf to wharf are the worst of all. As to footpath, there is none, except a person be nimble enough and bold enough to mount himself upon a pair of stilts, and so wade, like a crane or a heron, through the deep pools and quagmires which exhale their “odorous sweets” almost under the very eaves of the Viceregal residence. The path leading from the west end of the Custom-house to the stores, shops, and warehouses on the Wharf is utterly impassable to all but the enviable wearers of mud boots, while the cart road is so deep in mud, and so flanked and intersected by ruts, or rather ditches, that communication for all heavy goods is entirely cut off by that thoroughfare. Surely, twenty or thirty of the Domain probationers, stone-breakers and others, might be spared to make this important thoroughfare decently passable.
Colonial Times (Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land [Tasmania]), 13 August 1844, p. 3
Although not bolded in the original, the sub-headings have been rendered as bold text, for the sake of clarity in distinguishing the several news items.
Regarding the porter brewed by Mr. Ellis, as mentioned in the news items above, it may or may not be a coincidence, but there appeared in the same issue of the Colonial Times (on page 2) an advertisement for the “Colonial Porter” made by Henry Ellis.
—— = two em dashes (or a variant number of em dashes) used in place of a person’s name, so as to ensure anonymity (sometimes using the person’s initial or initials, e.g. “Mr. Z——”, “A—— Z——”); an em dash is an extended dash (also known as an “em rule” or a “horizontal bar”), being a dash which is as wide as the height of the font being used; em dashes can also be used to indicate swearing or an unknown word
Eardley Wilmot = Sir John Eardley Eardley-Wilmot (1783-1847), Lieutenant-Governor of Van Diemen’s Land (the top-ranking official in the colony) during 1843-1846; he was born in London (England) in 1783, came to Hobart Town in 1843, was removed from office in 1846, and died in Hobart Town in 1847
See: 1) Michael Roe, “Eardley-Wilmot, Sir John Eardley (1783–1847)”, Australian Dictionary of Biography
2) “Sir John Eardley-Wilmot, 1st Baronet”, Wikipedia
encreasing = an archaic spelling of “increasing”
expence = an archaic spelling of “expense”
gig = a light two-wheeled carriage which is drawn by a single horse
gaol = an alternative spelling of “jail” (prison)
Hobart Town = an early name for Hobart (now the capital city of Tasmania); it was also known as Hobarton
journies = an archaic spelling of “journeys” (singular: “journy”, modern spelling “journey”)
mulct = to cheat, defraud, extort, or swindle money from someone; to impose a fine or a penalty (especially for a misdemeanour); a fine or a penalty
porter = a dark-brown beer brewed from brown malt or charred malt, made by rapid fermentation at a relatively high temperature (an abbreviation of “porter’s ale”; it is believed that it was originally brewed for porters, i.e. attendants who would carry, or transport, luggage, parcels, heavy goods, and supplies, especially at hotels and railway stations)
See: “Porter (beer)”, Wikipedia
rencontre = (also spelt: rencounter) a hostile clash between adversaries or enemies; a casual, chance, or unexpected encounter or meeting (especially under hostile or negative circumstances); a battle, a contest, a debate
Rev. = an abbreviation of “Reverend” (a title given to a minister of a church, a priest, a member of the clergy)
Van Diemen’s Land = the island, now known as Tasmania, originally named Anthoonij van Diemenslandt, by Abel Tasman, in honour of Anthony van Diemen, Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies
Viceregal = of or relating to a viceroy or viceroyalty (a viceroy is someone who governs a colony, province, state, or country as the representative of a monarch) (derived from Latin “vice”, meaning “in place of”, and from Old French “roi”, meaning “king”)
[Editor: Changed “minute way” to “minute way,” (added a comma), “pos-possessing” to “possessing”.]