That Men Should Judge Very Oppositely
On So Doubtful And Precarious An Event, Will Hardly Surprise.
Such relations could contain little besides the sanguineness of hope,
and the enumeration of hardships and difficulties, which former accounts
had not led us to expect.
Since our disembarkation in the preceding January,
the efforts of every one had been unremittingly exerted, to deposit
the public stores in a state of shelter and security, and to erect habitations
for ourselves. We were eager to escape from tents, where a fold of canvas,
only, interposed to check the vertic beams of the sun in summer,
and the chilling blasts of the south in winter. A markee pitched,
in our finest season, on an English lawn; or a transient view of those
gay camps, near the metropolis, which so many remember, naturally draws forth
careless and unmeaning exclamations of rapture, which attach ideas
of pleasure only, to this part of a soldier's life. But an encampment
amidst the rocks and wilds of a new country, aggravated by the miseries
of bad diet, and incessant toil, will find few admirers.
Nor were our exertions less unsuccessful than they were laborious.
Under wretched covers of thatch lay our provisions and stores, exposed to
destruction from every flash of lightning, and every spark of fire.
A few of the convicts had got into huts; but almost all the officers,
and the whole of the soldiery, were still in tents.
In such a situation, where knowledge of the mechanic arts afforded
the surest recommendation to notice, it may be easily conceived,
that attention to the parade duty of the troops, gradually diminished.
Now were to be seen officers and soldiers not "trailing the puissant pike"
but felling the ponderous gum-tree, or breaking the stubborn clod.
And though "the broad falchion did not in a ploughshare end" the possession
of a spade, a wheelbarrow, or a dunghill, was more coveted than the most
refulgent arms in which heroism ever dazzled.
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