From The Settlement at Port Jackson (1793)

Watkin Tench had been away from England for four years when a ship appeared off Sydney Heads:

The distressful state of the colony for provisions, continued gradually to augment until the 9th of July [1791], when the Mary Anne transport, arrived from England…I was of a party who had rowed in a boat six miles out to sea, beyond the harbour’s mouth, to meet them: and what was our disappointment, on getting aboard, to find that they had not brought a letter (a few official ones for the governor excepted) to any person in the colony! Nor had they a single newspaper or magazine in their possession; nor could they conceive that any person wished to hear news; being as ignorant of every thing which had passed in Europe for the last two years, as ourselves, at the distance of half the circle. “No war;–the fleet’s dismantled” was the whole that we could learn. When I asked whether a new parliament had been called, they stared at me in stupid wonder, not seeming to comprehend that such a body either suffered renovation, or needed it. “Have the French settled their government?” –“As to that matter I can’t say; I never heard; but d––n them, they were ready enough to join the Spaniards against us.” –“Are Russia and Turkey at peace?” –“That you see does not lie in my way; I have heard talk about it, but don’t remember what passed.” –“For heaven’s sake, why did you not bring out a bundle of newspapers: you might have procured a file at any coffee-house; which would have amused you, and instructed us?” –“Why, really, I never thought about the matter until we were off the Cape of Good Hope, when we spoke a man of war, who asked us the same question, and then I wished I had.”–To have prosecuted inquiry farther would have only served to increase disappointment and chagrin. We therefore quitted the ship, wondering and lamenting that so large a portion of plain undisguised honesty should be so totally unconnected with a common share of intelligence, and acquaintance with the feelings and habits of other men.

–Watkin Tench, English, 1758-1833

‘Port Jackson Painter’, View of the entrance into Port Jackson taken from a boat lying under the North Head, c1790. (National Library of Australia)

‘Port Jackson Painter’, View of the entrance into Port Jackson taken from a boat lying under the North Head, c1790.
(National Library of Australia)

From Poems (1913)

Poet and classicist Christopher Brennan spent much of his life drinking himself to death:

Under a sky of uncreated mud
or sunk beneath the accursed streets, my life
is added up of cupboard-musty weeks
and ring’d about with walls of ugliness:
some narrow world of ever-streaming air.

My days of azure have forgotten me.

Nought stirs, in garret-chambers of my brain,
except the squirming brood of miseries
older than memory, while, far out of sight
behind the dun blind of the rain, my dreams
of sun on leaves and waters drip thro’ years
nor stir the slumbers of some sullen well,
beneath whose corpse-fed weeds I too shall sink.

1895

Christopher Brennan, Australian, 1870-1932

Views taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900, Vol. II / under the supervision of Mr George McCredie, F.I.A., N.S.W. : Back Yards, from 17 to 23 Exeter Place (State Library of NSW)

Views taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900, Vol. II / under the supervision of Mr George McCredie, F.I.A., N.S.W. : Back Yards, from 17 to 23 Exeter Place (State Library of NSW)