In 1811 Mr. Michael Robinson gained immortality at the performance of two of his Odes at Government House celebrations of royal birthdays. On the Hawkesbury frontier an attack was made upon a farm on the MacDonald River and Robert Luttrell, gained immortality for bringing his death upon himself as a result of his unpleasant behaviour in an Aboriginal camp.
19th of January, 1811
The campaign to “speedily and effectualy civilize and evangelize the Natives of New South Wales” continued.A highlight of the birthday celebrations in Government House was a tableau showing Aboriginal people “earnestly anticipating the blessing of civilization”, and “the Christian Religion inviting them to happiness”. Mr. Robinson’s Ode managed to solve the Aboriginal problem by combining Evangelism and topical Enlightenment thought on barbarism.
‘Yesterday, being the Birth-Day of OUR MOST GRACIOUS QUEEN, was observed as a Holiday throughout the Colony. - The usual salutes were fired, and Presents made to the Non-commissioned Officers and Privates of the 73d Regiment, of half-a-pint of spirits and a pound of fresh beef a man; which latter complement was also extended to the prisoners, who were excused from attending to their usual avocations in honor of the day. At 12 His EXCELLENCY appeared on the Parade, and inspected the 73d Regiment, who fired three vollies in honor of the day; His Excellency expressing the highest satisfaction at their appearance, and the precision with which the evolutions were performed; and afterwards returned to Government House. At one o'clock His Excellency the GOVERNOR in CHIEF received the Compliments of the Officers Civil and Military, and other Gentlemen on the return of the auspicious season.-An Ode for the occasion (which we have the pleasure to offer to our Readers), was presented to His EXCELLENCY by Mr. Michael Robinson ; who, at His Excellency's desire, recited it in the presence and much to the gratification of the Assembly, who joined, in the warmest language of encomium, to compliment the Author on the excellence of his performance. The Anniversary Ball given by His EXCELLENCY was very numerously attended. Government House was brilliantly lighted, and the apartments decorated in an exquisite style of taste and novelty. In the center of the ballroom were the Royal Initials in chrystal, beautifully worked, suspended between festoons of leaves and flowers extending across the room, the north end of which was covered with a transparent painting (executed by Mr. Lewin in a highly finished style), the subject local, and the design peculiarly appropriate, being the representation of our native Race in their happy moments of festivity, contrasting in silent admiration their amusements to the recitations of a polished Circle; and instead of expressing dissatisfaction at the humility of their condition, earnestly anticipating the blessing of civilization, while a striking full-sized figure, drawn in one of the most animated attitudes of the corroberi, pointed with his waddy at the Church of St. Philip, of which an accurate perspective view was given, as symbolical of the Christian Religion inviting them to happiness. Each of the portraits bore so accurate a resemblance to some familiar native as scarcely to leave a doubt that the representation was taken from the life, in whatever attitude the Artist considered best adapted to his subject ; the whole of the scene receiving a warmth of colouring from the judicious representation of their fires and the softness of expression produced by the reflected rays of the rising moon. As this part of the preparation was unexpected the admiration was the more nervous, and none forebore the need of praise to the performance. About nine commenced the 'airy dance'; which submitted not to interruption until the Company were requested to withdraw to the Supper Room, which furnished a new subject of delight to the admiring eye. The spacious new apartment prepared for the occasion resembled in its interior the center of a grove, with its boughs formed into bowers regularly arched, and ornamented with variegated lamps between the pillars; the fascinating effect of which could not do less than charm. The tables were formed into an oblong square, with an open end, and about one hundred persons sat down, among whom were all the principal Officers and Ladies of the Colony. After supper the dance resumed, and continued till a late hour, when His EXCELLENCY the Governor and MRS. MACQUARIE received the farewell compliments of the Company, much gratified in the testimonial of happiness that had universally been given on the Celebration of the happy Event.’253 ‘ODE
and snatch Subsistence from the scanty Spoil! Hap'ly, whilst calm Religion's genuine Voice
In other Climes bids other Tribes rejoice,
Pours into darken'd Minds her lucid Rays,
And bids the wondering Savage live lo Praise,
‘Ere many circling Years have onward roll'd,
May call these Wand'rers to the “promis'd Fold;”
And from the Dawn o' Reason's genial Ray,
Bid their Night yield - to intellectual Day. Be such a Briton's Care, a Briton's Pride,
Nature the Precept, and fair Truth the Guide.
And THOU! whose firm and philanthropic Mind
Glows with warm Sympathy to all Mankind, -
To whom a grateful PEOPLE fondly bend,
At once their CHIEF, their PATRON, and
THINE be the Triumph in progressive Days,
To claim for Deeds like these, a NATION'S PRAISE!’255
18th of January, 1811
The following meeting to eradicate native dogs again highlights the destruction of Aboriginal society. Once traditional Aboriginal life was destroyed the dogs would attack farms.
AT a Meeting of the Principal Stock-holders of this settlement, held at Sydney, this 18th of January, 1811, to take into consideration some Plan for the Destruction of the native Dogs, and to establish a Fund for the purpose, IT was resolved, that One Gallon of Spirits, as soon as it can be purchased from a Ship, or One Pound Sterling be given to any Person producing the complete Skin of a full grown native Dog. - That Half a Gallon of Spirits, or Ten Shillings Sterling be given to every Person producing the complete Skin of a native Pup. - That the Rev. S. Marsden, Gregory Blaxland, Thomas Moore, and Wm. Cox, Esqrs. be requested to receive the Subscriptions, and pay for the same as they may be produced. That these resolutions continue in Force Six Months from this Date. Amount subscribed this Day £80.
Sydney Jan. l8, 1811.’256
8th of June, 1811
Mr. Robinson’s triumph is noteworthy not only for its concluding ambiguity in rolling together the King and Lachlan MacQuarie, but also for its treatment of Australia and the Aboriginal people. His portrayal of the dreary darkness that gave way to Britain’s transforming light is a masterpiece of British triumphalism. The image, “their Footsteps press'd the yielding Sand”, redolent of feminine surrender, truly belongs to the Orientalist genre. Edward Said would have got his rocks off on that one.
FOR the KING's BIRTH-DAY.
BY MR. MICHAEL ROBINSON.
To trace the mystic Course of TIME
Thro' each revolving Age,
The MUSE aspires, with Views sublime,
And, wondering, turns the Page! -
That Page, where History's treasur'd Lore
Legends unfolds of Days of yore,
When Rome her sov'reign Flag unfurl'd,
Rose the proud Mistress of the World, And, rich in Arts, in Arms renown'd,
Aw'd the devoted Nations round;
Till LUXURY'S intemp'rate Trains
Spread Desolation o'er her Plains;
And INDUSTRY, with nerveless Hand,
Retir'd, dejected, from the Land:
Whilst rent by Faction's wily Spell,
Her Senates droop'd-her Fame and Freedom fell Not so, yon ISLE, against whose sacred Shore
A Man they honour’d – and a friend they lov’d.’257
13th of July, 1811
‘Last week a horde of the Branch natives beset a herd of swine belonging to Mr. Dyke, settler at the first Branch of the River Hawkesbury; of which they drove away three large pigs, and wantonly speared two very large sows, both of which died immediately of their wounds.’258
16th of November ,1811
Interestingly the only record of Robert Luttrell’s Inquest appears to be that recorded in the Gazette. Robert Luttrell died violently as the result of a blow to the head by a nulla nulla. An inquest found that he had brought his death upon himself by breaking the spears of Aboriginal men and taking their women. Whether there was any connection to the shooting of Tedbury by Robert’s brother, Edward Luttrell, in the previous year is unknown.
Unfortunately the identity of witnesses is unknown. However, a close reading of the inquest, which was held at Parramatta, carries the implication that Robert was accompanied by others when he was struck and that they were the witnesses. It would be logical to assume that they were mounted. The finding appears to have been another measured attempt to maintain the peace brokered in 1805. Certainly Robert’s reputation as a tear-away appears not to have hindered this finding.259 Whether his killing took place near the family property at Richmond or another property at Penrith is unclear. Material witnesses from the Hawkesbury point to a Hawkesbury location but Mara Mara was from Mulgoa, not the Hawkesbury.
‘Last Thursday, se'nnight Mr. Robert Luttrill died of a blow on the head with a nulla nulla, inflicted by a native about a fortnight before. On Saturday the Coroner assembled an Inquest on the unhappy occasion, which owing to the residence at Hawkesbury of material witnesses, adjourned from Saturday to Monday; when the following verdict was returned; viz. "that the deceased came to his death by means of a blow from a native; which blow was given in consequence of the deceased breaking the spears of the native, and taking away their women.” During the pendency of the above investigation, numbers of natives awaited the issue with much visible anxiety, as they had been made acquainted that upon the opinion of Juries so assembled depended the safety of the person who had occasioned death; but so far from countenancing the author of the present unfortunate event, a chief of the name of Mara Mara had pledged himself to give up the offender, if demanded. As soon as the verdict was returned, intelligence was dispatched to the Magistrates at Windsor, where a number of natives had collected, but who immediately dispersed as soon as they were acquainted that they had nothing to apprehend on account of this affair.’260
Peace had descended over much of the Hawkesbury. Robert Luttrell’s inquest was a civilised end to a violent and unpleasant affair. There was a new mood among the polished authorities, which, while it probably reassured them of their place in God’s firmament did not auger well for Aboriginal people.
In 1811 Edward Luttrell junior was lost at sea in the Indian Ocean from the Governor Macquarie.261
1 George Reeve in The Windsor and Richmond Gazette, 7th of March 1924, wilfully or otherwise, wrote “George Howe, the editor and founder of Australia's first newspaper (his son was Robert Howe) was a Creole from St. Kitts' or other West Indian Islands, and had black blood in his veins, as has been testified over and over again, in the early history of this State”. http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/85899521. The only reference that supported George Reeve’s unpleasant assertion came from the Sydney Morning Herald, 21st August 1908, which reported an address on The Early Press to the Historical Society of New South Wales. The speaker, a Mr. Dowling mistakenly described George Howe and his son Robert as “two coloured gentlemen”, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/15002994. In the following issue of the Sydney Morning Herald, a granddaughter of George Howe corrected Mr. Dowling. “Presumably he made this statement because George Howe was a Creole. Now, Sir, a Creole is a person born in the West Indies, or Spanish America, descended from European ancestors, but not of native race.” http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/15022944.
6Sydney Gazette, Sunday, 19th of March, 1803, http://newspapers.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/625459
7 In 1794, 2,250 acres were granted to 75 grantees.
In 1795, a total of 2,375 acres was granted to 87 individuals.
In 1796, there was a total of 470 acres granted to 11 grantees.
In 1797, 1840 acres were granted to 54 people.
In 1798, a total of 571½ acres were granted to 25 individuals.
In 1799, there were thirty five grantees receiving 2,631 acres.
In 1800, 1,045 acres were granted to 21 individuals.
In 1802, 27 grants were made with a total of 1,981¼ acres.
Land Grants, 1788-1809, Edited by R. J. Ryan, Australian Documents Library Pty Ltd, 1974.
8 John Wilson probably has this honour.
9Sydney Gazette, 18th December 1803, http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/625933
By His Excellency Philip Gidley King Esq. etc. Whereas Despatch by the Coromandel has been received from the Principal Secretary of State for the Colonies, containing His Majesty's Commands, That notwithstanding His permitting the Governor to Remit the Punishment of the five Persons tried by a Court of Criminal Judicature on the 18th of October, 1799, for wantonly killing Two of the Natives, yet "It should, at the same time, be clearly understood that on future occasions any instance of Injustice or wanton Cruelty towards the Natives will be punished with the utmost severity of the Law"; And His Majesty having at the same time recommended that every means should (after the Receipt of those Despatches) be used to conciliate the Goodwill of the Natives, I do hereby strictly forbid any of His Majesty's Subjects, resident or stationary in this Colony, from using any act of Injustice or wanton Cruelty towards the Natives, on pain of being dealt with in the same manner as if such act of Injustice or want Cruelty should be committed against the Persons and Estates of any of His Majesty's Subjects; But at the same time that His Majesty forbids any act of Injustice or wanton Cruelty to the Natives, yet the Settler is not to suffer his property to be invaded, or his existence endangered by them; in preserving which he is to used effectual, but at the same time the most humane, means of resisting such attacks. But always observing a great degree of forbearance and plain dealing with the Natives appears the only means they can adopt to avoid future Attacks, and to continue the present good Understanding that exists.
Given etc. this 30th Day of June, 1802. PHILIP GIDLEY KING’
Pages 592-593, HRA, Series 1, Vol. II, The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1914.
11 By fugitives the Governor probably meant convict runaways. Pages 73 and 660, HRA, Series 1, Volume IV, The Library Committee of the Commonwealth Parliament, 1915.
12Land Grants, 1788-1809, Edited by R. J. Ryan, Australian Documents Library Pty Ltd, 1974.