Monday, September 5, 2016

The proposed telegraph line to England -1859

A letter to the Brisbane based Moreton bay Courier on the best route for the proposed telegraph line to England in 1859
Moreton Bay Courier (Brisbane), Saturday 19 November 1859, page 4
The proposed telegraph line to England

Relative to this project, Mr. John Douglas, M.P. for the Downs, addresses our contemporary, the North Australian, as follows:
Sydney, 9th November, 1859.

SIR, In the course of some enquiries 1 have been making in connection with the attempts which have been made to form n settlement on the north coast of Australia, 1 have been placed in possession of the instructions addressed by Sir Thomas Brisbane to Captain Barlow, the Commandant of the Forces, ordered to Raffles Bay in 1824. They seem to me to be peculiarly pregnant with useful advice; and, as I understand that they have not previously been published, I gladly place them at your disposal, for I am sure they will be interesting to that portion of the public who anticipate the formation of settlements in tropical Australia. The time is fast approaching when we must consider the question calmly.
I grow in my conviction that the line of telegraph which is to connect us with England must, wherever it is possible, be continental rather than oceanic. Mr. Gisborne, with whom I have frequently discussed the subject, and who is a most enthusiastic exponent of his project, strongly urges the oceanic route on the grounds that, if he can only get his guarantee, the thing will be done in eighteen months. He says (when I advocate the overland line), that I wish to kill two birds with one stone -to open out country and set up the wire- I confess that I do. I believe that the original outlay, construction and protection included, would be less: and I am convinced that, the indirect advantages arising from a land line, would enormously exceed those of a marine line. Communications would be more certain, defects would be more easily remedied, and thus think what a splendid, strategic line we should have from which to advance in order to occupy the valleys of the Burdekin and the Lynd, and from which as from a base of operations we could proceed to possess ourselves of the whole of the Cape York peninsula.

Colonization by telegraph would be a new feature in the history of civilization. We could thus give a soul to silence. You remember the Mosaic phenomenon which extracted water from the rock-; there were scoffers then, I doubt not, who disputed its possibility till it was absolutely proved; but the creative power existed then and still exists. Here we have an opportunity of exercising it intelligently; the multitude, headed by Mr. John Black, the present candidate for East Sydney, whom I should be sorry to be supposed capable of comparing to Korah, are even now murmuring for the imaginary flesh-pots of the Land League; if I might make so bold, I might, perhaps, be permitted to call their attention to the more substantial milk and honey which I firmly believe they may extract out of Queensland and the vast territory which the telegraph will traverse.
I have a shrewd suspicion that if Mr. Gregory, the explorer, had three hundred thousand pounds or so placed to his credit in the bank, and if he were told to carry out a line from the heads of the Isaac to Port Essington, and to do it in three years, he would tell you that the thing might be done. Would Mr. Gregory, who knows so much of that country, tell us what he thinks about it?

Mr. Gisborne will do the cable part I dare say as well as it can be done. His great ambition is to land it somewhere on the Australian continent. He is not greedy to get a coast line; but he is of course naturally desirous that the point where he brings his cable ashore should be at once en rappor with Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide.
I am, Sir, Your obedient servant

Government House, Parramatta,

14th August, 1824.

SIR,-Captain Bremer, of his Majesty’s ship Tamar, having reached Port Jackson with instructions from the British Government to fix a settlement on the north-west coast of New Holland, I have been pleased to select you to command the military force embarked for the purpose of forming this establishment at such point of the shore or island contained between the west coast of Bathurst Island and the east side of Coburg Peninsula, as shall be deemed by the naval commander the best calculated for a military station destined to afford protection to our Indian commerce.
The care of your subsistence reposes in the branch of the commissariat that accompanies you, and measures will be adopted to ensure your constant supply from hence. To guard against accident, however, you should husband as much as possible your resources of salt meat. This you will be enabled to effect with ease, by the abundance you can obtain at all times of fish, turtle, or kangaroo. The point of debarkation having been made known to you by Captain Bremer, it will be your first care to choose a site for the erection of such works as will secure you from insult. The natives are understood to be ferocious; to assure your protection, therefore, the Lady Nelson, which attends you, is instructed to remain with you. Captain Bremer has been also directed by the Lords of the Admiralty to tarry in the neighbourhood of your settlement until the arrangement which you shall have effected cause you to feel secure. After rendering yourself free from attack, your attention will next be directed to protect yourself from the weather. In a tropical climate, seated near the tenth parallel of latitude, an elevated position for your fort will be judicious, not only in a military point of view, but when seen also with regard to the health of its garrison. I need not advert to the expedition with which all this ought to be accomplished. One month after your arrival will not have passed by ere the rainy season will have commenced. The treatment of the diseases of that tropical climate are left with confidence to the skill of the medical officer who accompanies you. To prevent the causes of sickness under a vertical sun, much can be accomplished, however, by every officer. The exposure of the bare head, for instance, to the direct rays of heat is in all cases fatal. A single standing order is sufficient to avert this evil. Much, too, may be effected with reference to the health of your soldiers by supporting by your example the cheerfulness of their spirit in a situation naturally beset at its threshold with some difficulties. But the grand preservation of their health will be a constant attention upon your part to render their labours uniform. The work of tomorrow ought in all cases to be exactly equal to the fatigue of today. All change from a state of continued rest to a state of continued action, but in particularly, from the latter to the former, are prejudicial to the human constitution, and in a tropical climate sow with more certainty the seeds of illness. A fort, a barrack, a provision store, and a garden are the only public establishments that you will require. The limited physical means placed under your orders should be employed, after these have been provided, in giving assistance as well as protection to the earliest settlers under your auspices. These preliminaries being adjusted, you will be unceasing in your vigilance with respect to the great object of your establishment, the commerce of the United Kingdom with the Indian Archipelago. Wherever your settlement may be fixed, you will find it visited regularly about the beginning of every year by fleets of Malays. These adventurers come from Macassar with the north-west monsoon in proas of 25 tons burthen, manned by as many sailors. A marine animal called the Trepang or Beche-de-mer is the object of their visit. Freighted with this they set sail for Timor-lanet, to dispose of their cargo to the Chinese, who esteem it a great delicacy for the table. They are rigid Mahometans, and will feel the greatest horror if they discover that any part of your food is pork. As much as possible let even this prejudice not be offended.

The Indian Islands present to us an immense country, blessed with a fertile soil, teeming with various produce, easy of access to the rude navigator by the tranquillity of the seas that surround them. The Malay race are the most enterprising traders of these seas. Laden with Indian cotton, gold, lollara, nutmegs, camphor, frankincense, and tortoise-shell, their vessels pass continually the shore which you are about to inhabit, seeking the westernmost verge of the Indian Archipelago, for the purpose of procuring in exchange opium, European broadcloths, European cottons, unwrought iron, and tobacco. I have been directed, in a despatch from Lord Bathurst, to impress upon you the necessity of not molesting these traders, but holding out to them, on the contrary hand the strongest assurance of your friendship.
To crown the present undertaking with success, it seems to be necessary to support the British flag only with a military force competent to secure the persons and the property of individuals who are willing to trade under its auspices. Throughout the wide expanse of all India the native is master of nothing; his life, his property, his industry his wealth, all belong to his sovereign. The proudest instance of the success of security is to be found in the history of Penang. It was a barren sand, remote from the ordinary route of commerce; it was found without People; yet such was the growth of its prosperity that in twenty years it reckoned as many thousand inhabitants. Let this be your example. Let the Indian taste on the shores of New Holland, for the first time in his life, the sweets of private property. Let the liberty of settlement be laid open to all. Study with unceasing assiduity the character of your motley population. Learn their language, their customs, their usages, their institutions, and pay a respect to them all; but leave the interests of commerce to herself. Remember that her golden rules are but three- freedom, security, and competition. Then will the native merchant accumulate under the banners of the British flag, the scattered produce of the Eastern Archipelago, and the European trader, freed from the risk of a direct intercourse with the half civilized inhabitants of a thousand different islands, will be led with cargoes to your market. Then ultimately will British and Indian capital in union waft silently, but with more certainty than any further attempts at vain negotiations, the manufactures of the United Kingdom into the heart of China and Japan, and effectually pave the way for the final introduction among millions of human beings of the political institutions and the religion of Europe.

To Captain Morris Barlow, Commanding the military expedition embarked for the north-west coast of New Holland