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Australasia.


America; Australasia. For Australia, Tasmania, and New Zealand readers are referred to the excellent volume The Austrian Commonwealth in The Story of the Nations series.
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A British historian may be pardoned if he utters a paean of triumph concerning a region - a vast continental island and adjacent territories - where British power has, since settlement, reigned always and over all, without dispute from Europeans, through true colonisation, without conquest, save to some extent in New Zealand; where no flag save the British has ever waved. The origin of our Australian dominion was, indeed, ignominious, but the colonial prison-land of convicts soon became, under the influence of British energy, a vast wool-farm, a scene of profitable tillage, a region of gold-mines of unsurpassed wealth, and, under constitutional rule, under self-government, the abode of new nations, almost wholly British in blood, reproducing the mother-country, with a new type of Briton, in every phase of her complex and highly developed civilisation. Scarcely more than a century of time has seen the wondrous work wrought by a people who understand the art of colonising. As regards discovery, we put aside the claims of early Portuguese, Spanish, and Dutch navigators, who saw the land, but had no thought of settlement. In the 17th century Dutch captains were much on the north-western and western coasts, as the names on the map testify, and the great island was, far into the 19th century, known as "New Holland," the modern name being taken, about 1817, from a book of voyages written by Samuel Purchas under James I. Under William III. Dampier visited the western coast. The true discoverer - like his prototype Columbus, a re-discoverer - of this new world in the Southern Seas, was the famous James Cook, a native of the Yorkshire seaboard, who rose from "before the mast" to be a captain in the royal navy. As lieutenant in command of the ship Endeavour, on a scientific voyage with astronomers and other scientists on board he reached the south-eastern coast of Australia in April 1770, at Botany Bay, and took possession of the country, as "New South Wales," for his sovereign, George III. Settlement began in January, 1788, with the arrival at the same point of the famous "First Fleet" of n sail, under Captain Phillip, bearing about 1,100 convicts, officials, guards, and free settlers. A move was quickly made to the splendid harbour called Port Jackson, and on a little cove with a good supply of landwater the town of Sydney was founded. Australian history had begun, and, with the work of convicts and the advent of more free settlers, New South Wales grew in wealth and importance. In 1797 Captain Mac Arthur introduced merino-sheep, and the future of the colony was assured. In 1813 the Blue Mountains were crossed, and a vast territory was laid open. The free immigrants, in the course of time, greatly outnumbered the convict-population, and the ceasing of the transportation-system made an end of the taint and trouble, except as regards the "bushrangers" who, with rabbits, rashly introduced with direful results, were long a pest to Australian settlers. From New South Wales sprang the colony of Victoria, which became a separate state in 1851, and quickly received a rush of immigrants due to the discovery of the gold whose value, in less than 40 years, had reached 230,000,000 pounds sterling. Melbourne became a great and thriving city. In both these colonies "responsible rule" was established, on a democratic basis, in 1855, and there is no further history save that of peaceful progress, with ebbs as well as flows of the tide, but with a general steady advance towards the present position. Queensland, the most northerly portion of New South Wales, became a separate colony in 1859, with a Parliament whose popular House, the Legislative Assembly, is elected under manhood suffrage. South Australia, founded by a chartered company in 1836, and Western Australia, settled in 1829, have pursued the same course, the development of the last being of later date, and largely due to the recent discovery of gold in the west-central district.

The exploration of the interior of Australia was the work of many daring, hardy, and adventurous men, some of whom perished in conflict with natives, whose whole number, now much diminished, did not probably exceed 500,000, at the time of Cook's arrival, in a region nearly as large as Europe; others died of thirst in desert-regions; others succeeded in opening up territory of valuable pasture. In 1872 the telegraphic wires were carried from the south to the northern coast, and across to Java, placing the continent within an hour of London for news. Tasmania, first settled in 1803, as a convict-depot dependent on New South Wales, became a distinct colony in 1824, and, gradually freed from the criminal taint, has become one of the finest of our smaller colonies, rich in fruit and metals.

New Zealand, also practically discovered by Captain Cook, was colonised in 1840, and, after warfare with the fine athletic natives (Maoris) at various times, has become one of our most flourishing colonial possessions, self-governed, loyal, like all our Australasian colonies, abundantly rich in sheep and gold.

The restless spirit of man, stirred by the discovery of the New World, has in the course of the last four centuries hunted out almost every habitable and uninhabitable region that exists on our planet. In the 16th and 17th centuries British, Dutch, and Russian explorers discovered, in Arctic and sub-Arctic regions, Davis Strait, Nova Zembla, West Greenland, Baffin's Bay, Spitzbergen, the mouths of the great Siberian rivers, and Behring Strait, establishing the fact that Asia and America are not united. In the 19th century British, Norwegian, Austrian, and American navigators and land-travellers made known great areas of ice-bound,- snow-covered land to the north of North America and elsewhere, and British mariners discovered a vast continent lying around the South Pole. During the period since the re-discovery of America, and notably in the 18th and 19th centuries, the region called Polynesia, with its countless island-groups and islets, has been thoroughly explored, and the earth-hunger and trade-competition of the modern commercial and colonising age have caused the appropriation of most of the territory by European Powers. Apart from Polynesia proper, the great island called New Guinea has been recently divided between Holland, Great Britain, and the German Empire. In the western Pacific, Spain (in addition to the Philippine Islands where, as we write, stirring events have occurred in the war with the United States) holds the Mariana, Pelew (Palau), Sulu, and Caroline groups. The Bismarck and Marshall Archipelagoes, with part of the Solomon Islands (shared with Great Britain), belong to Germany. Our country holds, or "protects," Cook's (or Hervey) Islands, the Ellice group, the Fiji Isles, the Banks and Santa Cruz isles, Tonga, and many scattered islets and groups. To France belong New Caledonia, the Marquesas isles Tahiti, and others. New Caledonia, discovered by Captain Coolc in 1774, was annexed by France in 1853, and has since been used as a convict-colony. The Tahiti archipelago, first accurately described by Captain Cook, was by him named the Society Islands, in honour of the Royal Society which had caused the dispatch of the scientific exploring expedition under his command. In 1842, after some lawless proceedings towards Queen Pomare, sovereign of the island (called Otaheite by Cook), who was very friendly to Great Britain and the missionaries, and towards a missionary named Pritchard, who was our consul, the French government established a " protectorate" which virtually made Queen Pomare a mere puppet until her death in 1878. In her trouble she appealed to the Queen of England, and the government headed by Sir Robert Peel insisted on and obtained compensation for the consul. Great Britain and France have never been nearer to war since Waterloo than on that occasion. In 1880 the French government took full possession of the islands. The New Hebrides, thoroughly explored by Cook in 1773, are notorious for the cruel kidnapping of the natives for many years to serve as labourers on the plantations in Queensland, Fiji, and New Caledonia. As far as British territory is concerned, these proceedings have recently come to an end. French aims at annexation have been checked through the strong opposition of our Australian colonists, and the New Hebrides, like the Tonga and Samoa islands, are now under the protection of our High Commissioner of the Western Pacific. The Samoa group, called Navigators' Islands, from the skill of the native boatmen, by the French explorer Bougainville, on his visit in 1768, were Christianised by missionaries who began their labours in 1830. Great Britain, Germany, and the United States, in 1889, recognised the independence of the natives, who now dwell under the charge of a sovereign of their own election, with a Supreme Court for the adjustment of civil and criminal matters.

We conclude with a reference to the history of the archipelago now called Hawaii (Captain Cook's "Owhyhee"), otherwise the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands. Re-discovered by Cook in 1778, they were named by him " Sandwich Islands" from the Lord Sandwich who was then at the head of the Admiralty Board, Hawaii being the chief island of the group. In 1779 Cook was killed by the natives in a sudden outbreak of rage. The islands became a kingdom under Kamehameha I., who died in 1819. His successor, Kamehameha II., by his abolition of idolatry simultaneously throughout the islands, left his people in the remarkable position of having no religion at all. Vancouver, a comrade of Cook's on his visit in 1778, was again at Hawaii in 1792 and 1794, and was requested by the king to send out religious teachers from England. It was not, however, until 1820, from American missionaries, that the islanders received instruction in Christianity. The work went on apace, and in the course of less than half a century the islanders had become a civilised people. The king and queen both died in England in 1823, during a visit to the strange isles on the other side of the globe. Under the third sovereign of the above name, in 1840, a constitutional form of rule, with a council of nobles and a representative assembly, took the place of the previous despotism, and three years later the British, French, and United States governments recognised and guaranteed the independence and integrity of the kingdom. On the death of the king in 1854 he was succeeded by his nephew, of the same name, and he, in 1863, by a fifth monarch of the line, who reigned till his death in 1873. A chief chosen by the people then reigned for two years, and on his death in 1874 King Kalakaua was elected, to be succeeded in 1891 by his eldest sister. The revolutionary spirit of the age broke out, after a democratic change of the constitution some years previously, in January, 1893, and a "Committee of Public Safety" proclaimed the end of monarchy and the establishment of a "provisional government." In July, 1894, a republic arose, with a President and two Chambers, elected under a manhood-suffrage with the educational proviso that a voter must be able to speak, read, and write either Hawaiian or English. The capital, Honolulu, with 30,000 inhabitants, has the electric light and lines of tramways, with the further advantages of an Anglican bishop, a Roman Catholic bishop, and ministers of various denominations for the population of a country containing about 30,000 natives, 8,500 half-castes, 21,600 Chinese, 25,000 Japanese, 15,000 Portuguese, 3,000 Americans, 2,250 British, 1,500 Germans, and about 2,000 Norwegians, French, Polynesians, and other foreigners. All forms of religion are permitted and protected, nearly all the natives being Christians.

Here this record - the world's history - ends, after a progress through many ages and many lands. Starting from ancient Egypt, it has come at last to modern Hawaii, 5,000 years and half a world away, and the story, for the present, is perforce concluded from lack of matter and in default of prophetic power. It is one with several morals for those who care to seek and know how to find them.


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Pictures for Australasia.

The World, showing British Possessions, 1898. Part I.
The World, showing British Possessions, 1898. Part I. >>>>
The World, showing British Possessions, 1898. Part II.
The World, showing British Possessions, 1898. Part II. >>>>

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