When it is recollected how much has been written to describe the Settlement
of New South Wales, it seems necessary if not to offer an apology,
yet to assign a reason, for an additional publication.
The Author embarked in the fleet which sailed to found the establishment
at Botany Bay. He shortly after published a Narrative of the Proceedings
and State of the Colony, brought up to the beginning of July, 1788,
which was well received, and passed through three editions. This could not
but inspire both confidence and gratitude; but gratitude, would be
badly manifested were he on the presumption of former favour to lay claim
to present indulgence. He resumes the subject in the humble hope
of communicating information, and increasing knowledge, of the country,
which he describes.
He resided at Port Jackson nearly four years: from the 20th of January, 1788,
until the 18th of December, 1791. To an active and contemplative mind,
a new country is an inexhaustible source of curiosity and speculation.
It was the author's custom not only to note daily occurrences, and to inspect
and record the progression of improvement; but also, when not prevented by
military duties, to penetrate the surrounding country in different directions,
in order to examine its nature, and ascertain its relative geographical
The greatest part of the work is inevitably composed of those materials which
a journal supplies; but wherever reflections could be introduced without
fastidiousness and parade, he has not scrupled to indulge them, in common with
every other deviation which the strictness of narrative would allow.
When this publication was nearly ready for the press; and when many
of the opinions which it records had been declared, fresh accounts from
Port Jackson were received. To the state of a country, where so many anxious
trying hours of his life have passed, the author cannot feel indifferent.
If by any sudden revolution of the laws of nature; or by any fortunate
discovery of those on the spot, it has really become that fertile
and prosperous land, which some represent it to be, he begs permission
to add his voice to the general congratulation. He rejoices at its success:
but it is only justice to himself and those with whom he acted to declare,
that they feel no cause of reproach that so complete and happy an alteration
did not take place at an earlier period.
A Retrospect of the State of the Colony of Port Jackson,
on the Date of my former Narrative, in July, 1788.
Previous to commencing any farther account of the subject, which I am about
to treat, such a retrospection of the circumstances and situation
of the settlement, at the conclusion of my former Narrative, as shall lay
its state before the reader, seems necessary, in order to connect
the present with the past.
The departure of the first fleet of ships for Europe, on the
14th of July, 1788, had been long impatiently expected; and had filled us
with anxiety, to communicate to our friends an account of our situation;
describing the progress of improvement, and the probability of success,
or failure, in our enterprise.