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- fleet of transports,
- took the keenest interest,
- the forces of nature,
- in constant distress from famine,
- in futurity,
- wrecks and piracies,
- their route
Phillip, the first of these Governors, was sent out to found "a penal settlement at Botany Bay, on the coast of New Holland," and did the work in such fashion, in spite of every discouragement from , the Home Government, and his own officers, as to well entitle him to a place among the builders of Greater Britain. What was known of Australia, or rather New Holland--the name of Australia was still --in 1788, when Phillip first landed on its shores?
Let us say nothing of Spanish, Portuguese, and Dutch voyages; of ; of maroonings, and massacres by blacks; of the discoveries of Dampier and of Cook, but sum the whole up thus: the east coast of Australia, from its northernmost extremity to its southernmost, was practically unknown to the world, and was absolutely unknown to Englishmen until Cook's first voyage. Cook, in the _Endeavour_, ran along the whole east coast, entering a few bays, naming many points, and particularly describing Botany Bay where he stayed some little time; then he sailed through Torres Straits, and thence, _via_ Batavia, home to England, where he arrived in June, 1771. The English Government took no advantage of his discoveries until 1786, when Botany Bay was fixed upon as the site of a new penal settlement; and this choice was determined, more than anything else, by the advice of Sir Joseph Banks, who, from the time of his voyage with Cook in the _Endeavour_ till his death, in the continent; and colonists are more indebted to the famous naturalist for his friendly services than to any other civilian Englishman of the time.
Phillip's commission ordered him to proceed to Botany Bay, but authorised him to choose another site for the settlement if he considered a better could be found. He arrived with his in 1788, after a voyage of many months' duration, so managed that, though the fleet was the first to make the passage and was made up of more ships and more prisoners than any succeeding fleet, there was less sickness and fewer deaths than on any of the convoys which followed it Phillip made a careful examination of Botany Bay, and finding it unsuitable for planting, the settlement was removed to Port Jackson.
After landing the exiles, the transports returned to Europe _via_ China and the East Indies, and was along the north-east coast of Australia. The voyages of these returning transports, under the navy agent, Lieutenant Short-land, were fruitful in discoveries and adventures. Meanwhile Phillip and his officers were working hard, building their homes and taking their recreation in exploring the country and the coast for many miles around them. And with such poor means as an indifferent Home Government provided, this work of exploration went on continually under each naval governor, the pressing want of food spurring the pioneers ever on in the search for good land; but that very need, with the lack of vessels, of men who could be trusted, of all that was necessary for exploration, kept them chained in a measure to their base at Sydney Cove.
Phillip, white-faced, cold and reserved, but with a heart full of pity, was responsible for the lives of a thousand people in a desolate country twelve thousand miles from England--so desolate that his discontented officers without exception agreed that the new colony was "the most God-forsaken land in the world." The convict settlers were so ill-chosen, and the Government so neglected to supply them with even the barest necessities from Home, that for several years after their landing they were ; and disease and death from this cause alone was an evil regularly to be encountered by the silent, hard-working Phillip. The only means of relief open to the starving settlement was by importing food from Batavia and the Cape of Good Hope, and to procure such supplies Phillip had but two ships at his disposal--the worn-out old frigate _Sirius_ (which was lost at Norfolk Island soon after the founding of the settlement) and a small brig of war, the _Supply_--which for many weary months were the only means of communication with civilisation.