AS FAR AWAY FROM NEWGATE as one could get, on Sydney Cove on 4 June, the King's birthday was celebrated again with a volley fired towards Port Jackson's brilliant sky. That day Phillip gave a dinner to all the officers, and in the evening convicts performed the George Farquhar play The Recruiting Officer, a broad farce written by a hard-up Irish military officer and former actor more than eighty years earlier. The Recruiting Officer was very English in a jolly, sentimental, affectionate way, and in telling its central love story, full of mistaken identities, maids posing as ladies, men dressing as women, and other devices gave a picture of the dodges used by recruiting officers and sergeants to fill His Majesty's forces.
It is poignant to think that the convict cast took to this theatrical option. We do not know who their director was, but there must have been many enthusiastic rehearsals. Young convicts, spat out by Europe, unlikely to be seen by their former fellow citizens again, nonetheless felt bound to reproduce the European rituals of the theatre, doing so even as others in Sydney Cove were honouring the Tawny Prince in theft and as the Eora struggled through their smallpox epidemic.
English exiles of all stamp laughed and cried that June night as the drama temporarily lifted them out of their remoteness, the peculiarity of their situation. Tench wrote a wonderful evocation of this first emergence of European theatre in the netherworld. “The exhilarating effect of a splendid theatre is well known: and I'm not ashamed to confess that the proper distribution of three or four yards of stained paper, and a dozen farthing candles stuck round the mud walls of a convict hut, failed not to diffuse general complacency on the countenances of sixty persons, of various descriptions, who were assembled to applaud the presentation. Some of the actors acquitted them selves with great spirit, and received the praises of the audience; a prologue and an epilogue, written by one of the performers, was also spoken on the occasion.” Collins said that the performers “professed no higher aim than ‘humbly to excite a smile; and their efforts to please were not unattended with applause.’”
BY THE TIME Lady Juliana had left England, Phillip was faced with the continuing problem of convicts saying their time was expired. Phillip's reply, that he regretted he had no records to verify these matters, was “truly distressing” to many convicts. Several men told the governor that when the records did arrive, they would want to be paid for their labour as free men. One such man was mangled by his attempts to be heard. John Cullyhorn claimed to have been told by Major Ross that he could now do what he liked, his term having finished by July 1789. He came over the stream to make a direct appeal to the governor on 29 July 1789 for a full pardon on the grounds that his term was served. In the course of his conversation with Phillip, Cullyhorn asserted that Lieutenant-Governor Ross had told him that there were two years' provisions available for any convict who finished his or her time, and he sought to claim them now. Ross denied having told the convict that, and demanded Cullyhorn be punished as a liar. At Ross's insistence, but with Phillip's consent, Cullyhorn was charged with calumny and sentenced to receive 600 lashes and to work in irons for the space of six months. That is, the court, its judgment influenced by a need to shut up the turbulent Ross, ordered what a later historian would rightly call “a savage (and illegal) punishment for a free Englishman.” For documents arriving in Sydney later would prove Cullyhorn correct—his time had indeed expired.
Privately, Judge-Advocate Collins was not unsympathetic to such people, who were “most peculiarly and unpleasantly situated.” But the reality was Phillip could afford to advance no person two years of rations. Despite the supplies Sirius had brought back from South Africa, by November 1789 the ration had to be reduced by two-thirds again. Amongst other factors, the storehouse supplies had proved to be very appetising to rats and to native marsupials—bush rats, potoroos, bilbies, and possums. Nonetheless, said Collins, “The governor, whose humanity was at all times conspicuous, directed that no alteration should be made in the ration to be issued to the women.”
Despite abiding hunger, by the end of the Antipodean winter of 1789 the camp of Sydney Cove had taken on the look of a permanent town. Two barracks were finished, two storehouses, and the large brick house the governor occupied. Many male and female convicts had brick huts. But the brick-makers were not always the servants of civilisation. Because of ongoing turbulent behaviour at night, and a conviction in the camp that the Brickfield convicts who were camped a little way west of town came down to the men's and women's area to steal property, a Jewish Cockney convict named John Harris, a Mercury returnee, came to Captain Collins and asked him whether a night guard might be established, a patrol of reputable convicts.
This was an early example of the New South Wales conundrum, the overthrow of Phillip's initial intention that the positions of the free and the condemned should not become blurred. The convicts began to take on an official importance in the great open-air experiment of Sydney that they could not have achieved in Newgate or on the hulks. In a criminal kingdom, a clever and reputable man like Harris ended in a position akin to that of police chief, as, without a free police force to keep order, a night watch of eight convicts was indeed initiated. Collins wrote about this paradox. “It was to have been wished that a watch established for the preservation of public and private property had been formed of free people, and that necessity had not compelled us … to appoint them from a body of men in whose eyes, it could not be denied, the property of individuals had never before been sacred. But there was not any choice.”
For the purpose of the night watch, the settlement was divided into four districts, and three men patrolled each. The watch, it seemed, was guarding the settlement not only from the nocturnal evil of convicts, but from other prowlers also. When one of the night watch stopped a marine in the convicts' compound, Ross viewed it as an insult, and Phillip was forced, wearily, to ensure it did not happen again. So efficient was John Harris's guard that Collins would record that by comparison with Sydney Cove, “many streets in London were not so well guarded.”
AGING VISCOUNT SYDNEY HAD NOW resigned from the Home Office. His replacement, and Nepean's new superior, was one of Pitt's young cousins and parliamentary colleagues, the twenty-nine-year-old William Grenville. Grenville, soon to be Lord Grenville, was an enemy of slavery and a campaigner for the emancipation of Catholics from the legal disadvantages which kept them out of civic life. A future prime minister, he was presently subject to the same political pressures as Sydney had been, and wrote to the Lord Commissioners of the Treasury in early July 1789 telling them, “His Majesty has therefore been pleased to signify to me his Royal Commands that 1000 of the said convicts should forthwith be sent to New South Wales.” The dispatch of this further 1,000 was exclusive of the women already on Lady Juliana.
The Navy Board immediately called for tenders from merchants to supply ships and stores. William Richards bid again, but the successful contractor was the slave-trading company Camden, Calvert and King, the largest slave transportation company in Britain. It is on the face of it a curious decision for an abolitionist to make. Perhaps Grenville wanted to wean Camden, Calvert and King off slaves and onto criminals. Grenville was energetic, too, and wished to do away with laxities in the Home Office. If, as a means of turning a new and more efficient page, he gave his ministerial consent to the Navy Board's choice of Camden, Calvert and King, he would come to regret it.
In August the contracts for a second fleet of ships were signed by the Navy Commissioners and Camden, Calvert and King. As had the charter parties for the First Fleet, they specified the rations for each mess of six male convicts for seven days, and similarly for each mess of six female convicts. The contractors were to be paid a sum of 17 pounds 7 shillings 6 pence for each convict embarked, somewhat less than Richards had quoted. Five pounds would be paid to the contractors once the cabins and bulkheads had been fitted, and £10 when the stores had been loaded and the ships were ready to receive the convicts. The remainder was to be paid when a certificate was received in London from the commissary in New South Wales confirming that the stores had been delivered. There was no money held back pending the delivery in good condition in Sydney Cove of the convicts themselves.
The Australian legend that the British “dumped” convicts in Australia was enhanced and nearly justified by the horrors which would characterise this core section of the second flotilla—just as the Lady Juliana helped generate the concept that women's ships were “floating brothels.”
The War Ministry had been thinking about New South Wales too, and decided that the marines who had travelled on the First Fleet would be gradually replaced, in part because of their internal dissension, the unwillingness of Ross to allow marine officers to serve as superintendents of convicts, the fact that half the officers were technically under house arrest over the quarrel about punishing Private Hunt, and because of the other conflicts Ross had with Phillip. During the summer of 1789, from England, Scotland, and Ireland, 300 men were recruited for a new corps, and the first 100 privates and NCOs, along with two captains, three lieutenants, an ensign, and a surgeon's mate, would travel on the transports of the Second Fleet. The new unit, the 102nd Regiment of Foot, would be more commonly called the New South Wales Corps, but they were also referred to, whether ironically or otherwise, as the Botany Bay Rangers.
Three transports—Neptune, Scarborough, and Surprize—were readied at Deptford for the journey. In the meantime another store ship had been sent from Spithead six weeks after the female convicts in the Lady Juliana. The ship in question was a naval frigate of 879 tons, the HMS Guardian,and it left Britain in September 1789 richly burdened with the supplies for which Phillip had asked, and with twenty-five “artificers,” convicts with trades, for whom Phillip had also pleaded. With all it carried, and with its small corps of talented convicts, the Guardian represented a secure future for the people of Sydney Cove.
SALVATION COULD NOT INDEFINITELY COME from outside New South Wales. Some had to come from within the colony itself. And one of the iconic figures of redemption from within would be the young Cornish convict James Ruse. He was the farmer who would maintain throughout his life that he was the first person from the fleet to step ashore on the east coast of New South Wales, when he carried Lieutenant Johnston from the Supply to the Botany Bay shore on his shoulders.
The clerks who had drawn up the lists for the First Fleet had not hesitated before including people who had already served the greater part of their sentence. And Ruse, who had been sentenced in 1782 for burglarously entering a house in Launceston to seven years transportation to Africa, had spent five years on the depressing and brutal hulk Dunkirk, moored off Plymouth, before being loaded on the Scarborough. Without verification that Ruse's sentence had expired, Phillip nonetheless knew enough about him from his supervisory work at the government farm in Sydney Cove to decide to embark on an experiment with him, and turn him into New South Wales's first yeoman. Ruse had told Tench, “I was bred a husbandman, near Launcester [Launceston] in Cornwall,” and now Phillip gave him a conditional grant of 30 acres and convict help to clear it in the promising area known as the Crescent on the riverbank near Parramatta/Rose Hill. Phillip also authorised the issue to Ruse of necessary tools and seed for planting. Full title to the land was withheld until Ruse proved himself the first viable farmer.
Phillip, surrounded by men who regularly told him New South Wales could not serve as a place for settled agriculture, wanted to test whether it was possible for a skilled farmer to live off the land. Above all, he needed to rebut the nihilist voices such as that of Major Ross, who hated New South Wales with an almost theological passion. “I do not scruple to pronounce that in the whole world there is not a worst country that what we have seen of this. All that is contiguous to us is so very barren and forbidding that the main truth be said, here nature is reversed.” The perverse behaviour of the convicts confirmed Ross in a sense that he was stuck in an irremediably perverse land, a country of contrary, obdurate gods.
Indeed, it seemed to Ross that New South Wales bore the same motto as Lucifer the fallen angel—Non Serviam, “I shall not serve.” The terms “will not serve” and “will not answer” pepper the reflections of many diarists and correspondents, but Ross's above all. Ross, for example, criticised Phillip's choice of Sydney Cove for the settlement, declaring it “would never answer.”
In the face of Ross's negativity, Ruse would symbolise the resourceful agriculturalist and be a living validation of the idea that the Australian earth was, after all, compliantly fruitful. Phillip's investment of government resources in him was wide-ranging and tipped the scales in Ruse's favour, starting him off with livestock and ultimately building him a brick house.
Not all of Ruse's industry and energy, however, could fully prevail over the recalcitrant, leached-down, and grudging earth along the Parramatta River, and he would later move to the more remote floodplain areas along the Hawkesbury. At the time he got his land grant, there were others Phillip was willing to free and put to the task of sustaining New South Wales. But that was not to happen until he saw what befell this young Cornishman, and how he set about the task.
The other experiment which had been in abeyance was the Aboriginal diplomatic experiment which had ended with Arabanoo's death. Tench says that in making a further capture of natives, Phillip needed, amongst other things, to know “whether or not the country possessed any resources, by which life might be prolonged.”
Reliable Lieutenant Bradley of the Sirius was sent out with two boats to capture natives, a task he found distasteful. Northwards, at Manly Cove, he found a number of natives on the beach, and in the prow of one of the cutters, a seaman held up fish, tempting two robust men, a mature fellow and a young man, into the shallows. “They eagerly took the fish,” wrote Lieutenant Bradley. “They were dancing together when the signal was given by me, and the two poor devils were seized and handed into the boat in an instant.” The two captured happened not to be local natives but two formidable visitors from the south side of Port Jackson. Both of them fought ferociously to get away from the melee of soldiers, sailors, and convicts, but they were up against numbers, and soon shackles were on them. The other natives rushed from the bush and gathered on both headlands of the cove, shaking their spears and clubs.
Bradley wrote, “The noise of the men, crying and screaming of the women and children, together with the situation of the two miserable wretches in our possession was really a most distressing scene.” The captives were howling out for help, but the boat pulled away. It was a bad day's business, Bradley thought, “by far the most unpleasant service I was ever ordered to execute.” He illustrated his journal with a memorable picture of the capture.
At the governor's wharf at Sydney Cove, a crowd gathered to see the natives brought ashore, just as they had gathered to see Arabanoo. The boy Nanbaree, who had survived the smallpox and who now lived at the hospital, where White had given him the name of Andrew Snape Hamond Douglas White (to honour White's former naval captain, who had recommended him for the chief surgical job in the colony), shouted “Colby” to the older of the two men and “Bennelong” to the younger. He had often told Surgeon White about fabled Colby, who was his uncle. Both men still bristled with resistance.
Woolawarre Bennelong (this being just one of many alternative spellings of his name) was judged by Tench to be about twenty-six years old, of good stature and sturdy appearance, “with a bold intrepid countenance, which bespoke defiance and revenge.” He was a man of lively, passionate, sociable, humorous character, and was well advanced in ritual knowledge, ritual being the fuel and physics of his world, what kept it in place, what kept it so lovable and abundant. He did not quite have the gravitas and the power of eye to be a full-fledged carrahdy, a doctor of high degree, a curer and ritual punishment man. He did not seek solitude or penance. But he was well liked around the harbour, even on its northern shores and beaches, and southwards too, around the shallow shores of Botany Bay, where people lived who were related to him by marriage, language, and the great rituals of corroboree dance and other secret, communal ceremonies. Sometimes, it would be discovered, he fornicated with their women and bravely stood up under a rain of ritual punishment spears and took his scars and was proud of them. He had an ambiguous relationship with his least favourite relatives, the Cameraigal of the north shore, whose women he nonetheless also had a weakness for and in whose country he was at various times permitted to hunt, fish, socialise, and join in corroboree—that is, take part in dances which preserved and sustained and continued the earth made by hero ancestors. Bennelong had a range of names in a society where people carried many names, and some of his others were Boinda, Bundabunda, and Wogetrowey.
Colby was perhaps thirty, more intractable, somewhat shorter but athletic-looking, and “better fitted for purposes of activity,” observed Tench. They had both survived the smallpox— “indeed Collbee's face was very thickly imprinted with the marks of it.” Hunter would claim Colby was “a chief of the Cadigal,” the Sydney Cove clan, and Midshipman Fowell called him “the principal one of the two,” and said that his full name was Gringerry Kibba Colby. Kibba, or gibba, was Eora for “rock,” and would enter the settlers' English before long—the children of the convicts and the free being commonly accused, in this settlement and beyond, of “chucking gibbas” at each other. Colby was a rock, and behaved with strong resistance.
Both natives were taken up to the governor's residence. It was the first time Bennelong and Arthur Phillip saw each other eye to eye, a meeting as fateful and defining as that between Cortés and Montezuma, or Pizarro and Atahualpa. Bennelong and Phillip in particular were mutually enchanted and attracted, and both Bennelong and Colby could see through the deference other white people offered him that Phillip was the supreme elder—Be-anna, Father, as Arabanoo had called him.
Phillip knew that as with Arabanoo he would need to restrain the two natives to stop them running away. A convict was assigned to each of the men until they should become reconciled to their capture.
Banks had written in the journal of his voyage with Cook about the capture of Tupia, a Polynesian high priest. “I do not know why I may not keep him as a curiosity, as well as some of my neighbours do lions and tigers at a larger expense than he will probably put me to.” Phillip's motives were perhaps equally as proprietary, but somewhat more elevated.
Nonetheless, the means used to detain the two men were in their way severe—they were tied at night to their keepers by both ankle chain and rope, and slept with them in a locked hut. At this treatment, Colby yielded no gesture of reconciliation. He planned escape. Bennelong, “though haughty,” not only got on well with the Europeans but enjoyed the experience of doing so, and was his people's first enthusiastic anthropologist. Beneath his conviviality was a desire to work out how and what these people meant, and perhaps how to appease them and even make them go away.
After attempting to escape many times, Colby managed it on the night of 12 December 1789, while eating supper with Bennelong and their two minders. Colby was at the door, sitting just on the outside of the hut, and had some rations for his supper, “which he pretended to be employed about … the end of his rope was in the hands of his keeper within; whilst those on the inside were thus amused, he drew the splice of his rope from the shackle and in a moment was over the paling of a yard and out of sight … he carried off his whole wardrobe.” This was bad news for his minder. The convict who had been given charge of Colby received 100 lashes for “excessive carelessness and want of attention.”
Bennelong had been trying to slip his shackle too, and now became much alarmed, expecting punishment or to be put to death, but after two or three days he became quite composed again. He boarded the Sirius without the smallest apprehension for his safety. “He looked with attention at every part of the ship and expressed much astonishment particularly at the cables.” Bennelong was thus quickly revived by his interest in Phillip and the others. He was considered a family member, if a tethered one. Phillip took him with Nanbaree to the look-out post and signal station on the south head of the harbour, which had been established the December before. Bennelong still wore his leg shackle and despite it was able to put on a display of strength and accuracy by throwing a spear nearly 300 feet against a strong wind “with great force and exactness.” On the way back the boat stopped near Rose Bay, a cove east of Sydney Cove, and from the boat, Bennelong called to a native woman ashore he was fond of—a visiting Cameraigal named Barangaroo. Barangaroo and other women waded out and talked, and told Bennelong that Colby was fishing on the other side of the hill, but had been unable to remove the shackle from his leg. The Europeans certainly got to know of Bennelong's highest order of recreation: boon-alliey—kissing women.
A CAPTIVE BY NIGHT, BENNELONG had the freedom of the governor's house by day. At Phillip's table, wrote Watkin Tench, Bennelong was quick to make clear to Phillip how many of his people had died of the smallpox epidemic the previous year—he claimed that one in two had perished. Unlike Arabanoo, Tench observed, Bennelong became immediately fond of “our viands” and would drink spirits without reluctance, which Colby and Arabanoo had not done. A deadly appetite was thus imbued in Bennelong. But for the moment, wine and spirits did not seem to have a more perceptible impact on him than they did on any one of the gentlemen who sat around him. He liked turtle, too, which he had never eaten before, but which the Supply had brought from Lord Howe Island. “He acquired knowledge, both of our manners and language, faster than his predecessor had done.” He would sing and dance and caper, and talked about all the customs of his country in a mixture of rudimentary English and Eora on his side, and rudimentary Eora and English on Tench's and Phillip's. “Love and war seemed his favourite pursuits,” wrote Tench, “in both of which he had suffered severely. His head was disfigured by several scars; a spear had passed through his arm and another through his leg; half of one of his thumbs was carried away, and the mark of a wound appeared on the back of his hand.” But they served as a map of his adventures, and as well as telling the stories of his exploits, an exercise he loved greatly, he was also explaining a concept of blood justice, and preparing the European mind for the idea that they too might need graciously to receive similar wounds for their crimes. The plunders and even the occupation of earth by the Europeans violated the land. Bennelong hoped they could be taught that fact. It might have been one of the reasons he stayed so long in Sydney Cove, and risked his soul.
“But the wound on the back of your hand, Baneelon!” Tench asked him. “How did you get that?” As quoted by Tench, Bennelong laughed and told him it was received in carrying off a lady of the Cameraigal on the north shore of Sydney Harbour, across from Sydney Cove. “I was dragging her away; she cried aloud, and stuck her teeth in me.”
“And what did you do then?”
“I knocked her down and beat her till she was insensible, and covered with blood.”
The story—Tench intending it to be more amusing than it seems to us—is credible despite the presence of that non-Eora word “insensible.” Bennelong frequently asked the governor to accompany him with the marines in order to punish and even obliterate the Cameraigal, with whom he had both passionate connection and passionate grievance. As for the governor, as well as sometimes calling him Be-anna, Bennelong exchanged his own honorific Woolawarre with him, calling him by that name, and thus being entitled to call himself “Governor.” The exchange of names was meant to do both parties great honour and convey closeness of soul. Woolawarre could have been a significant name in other ways too, for it seems to derive from the Eora words for “Milky Way” and “depart”—Phillip being one who had departed the stars. Phillip told the former Home Secretary Lord Sydney in a letter that he hoped Bennelong “will soon be able to inform us of their customs and manners.”
As part of his British training, Bennelong was required to appear at the governor's table in trousers and a red kersey jacket, and Phillip was anxious to make him dependent on clothing. On Sundays the native wore a suit of buff yellow nankeen from China. He was not the least awkward in eating or in performing actions of bowing, drinking healths, and returning thanks, all of which he did with a “scrupulous exactitude.” He would raise his glass and drink a toast to “the King,” a term which Bennelong associated ever after with a glass of wine. Gentlemen tried an experiment on him by mixing brandy and water instead of wine and water, “but he instantly finds the trick out, and on this occasion he is angry.”
He spoke much of the Cameraigal women, Cameraigalleons, as he called them. They were not so much enemy women, but certainly the women of rivals, and were alluring to Bennelong, especially the woman named Barangaroo, who he said had him under a spell. This glamour of the foreign and the owned might have led to behaviour appalling in European eyes, but it was one of the mechanisms by which ancient societies avoided incest, by marrying out of their family group.
The Europeans had brought with them from the history of the Americas and of European incursions into the Pacific a concept of tribes and chieftains, and attempting to categorise the New South Wales natives in those terms, found it a difficult task. There were no individual chieftains in Aboriginal society, though groups of elders, men and women, held much collective knowledge and power. There were perhaps two dozen or more clans that participated in the common language of the Sydney area. From the south head of Port Jackson to Sydney Cove, and southwards towards Botany Bay, the people were called Cadi and the tribe was the Cadigal, and Colby was an important man amongst that group. (The ending gal meant “country.”) On the south side of the harbour from Sydney Cove westwards, the tribe were the Wangal, of whom Bennelong was a member. On the opposite, northern, shore of the Parramatta River from the Wangal lived the tribe called the Wallumattagal. Then, on the broader reaches of northern Port Jackson were the Cameraigal, and at Manly the Gayimai, whom Colby and Bennelong had been visiting when captured. These neat divisions merely scratch the surface of the complexity of clans and families and geography. At particular times they all visited each other's territory, and were connected by favours, gestures, swapped names, marriage, ceremonies, and ritual knowledge of how to sustain their shared earth and the known world given them by the adventures of their hero ancestors.
And then there were the inland people of the western basin of the Sydney region, the Burramattagal, who would give their name to Parramatta; and the people north of Botany Bay, the Bediagal; and to the south of Botany Bay, the Gweagal: all Eora-speaking, if with their own dialects, and all of them people known to each other. West of Parramatta lay a language group named the Dharug who had many contacts with and similarities to the Eora, so that some experts count Dharug and Eora the same language. Later, for example, the Gweagal, Bediagal, and Dharug would fight guerrilla war in each other's territory (now Sydney's southern and western suburbs), against the Europeans.
Apropos of clan borders, and the density of mystery or ritual sites, Phillip and King (the latter returned on leave from Norfolk Island) were accompanied by Bennelong to Parramatta, and walked to Prospect Hill through “a pleasant tract of country,” which, King remarked—as many an Englishman before and since have— “appeared like a vast park.” King was impressed by the fact that in this four-mile walk they crossed eight Aboriginal districts. Phillip would record them in a language notebook.
In fact the authority system of the natives was like that of Freemasonry, but not even as pyramidal as that, for there was no overall grand master and there were many lodges with many masters. Carradhys, shamans, were other sources of power: healers and condemners, ritual punishment men, and binders and loosers of sins and curses.
BY APRIL 1790, THE SHACKLE was removed from Bennelong's ankle. Arthur Phillip demonstrated his trust, as he could never do with a convict, by letting Bennelong wear a short sword and belt, Bennelong being “not a little pleased at this mark of confidence.” As well, in a time of great scarcity, Bennelong was still well supplied with rations. Phillip's stated motivation was the same as earlier, with Arabanoo: “Had he [Bennelong] penetrated our state, perhaps he might have given his countrymen such a description of our diminished numbers, and diminished strength, as would have emboldened them to become more troublesome.” But Phillip was indulgent as well. Bennelong's allowance was received each week from the commissary stores by the governor's steward, the Frenchman Bernard de Maliez, “but the ration of a week was insufficient to have kept him for a day.” The deficiency was made up with fish and Indian corn. For if he were hungry, Bennelong became furious or melancholy.
He was also in love and had a woman to pursue. On 3 May, he pretended illness, and awakening the steward, Maliez, who lay in the room with him, “very artfully” begged to be taken downstairs, no doubt under apparent pressure of diarrhoea. Bennelong “no sooner found himself in a back-yard, than he nimbly leaped over a slight paling, and bid us adieu.”
Along with his desire for Barangaroo, whom he probably knew Colby was trying to seduce, homesickness and hunger motivated Bennelong's escape. Collins was a little affronted that the governor's every indulgence had not delayed Bennelong's decamping. But Bennelong had agendas beyond Collins's imagining, including the necessity of performing ceremonials that were pending, and of reporting his experiences of the Europeans.
John Hunter, hearing of Bennelong's escape, made the joke of the season by saying Bennelong had taken “French leave.” When boat crews, sent around to look for Bennelong, called his name in various coves and bays of Port Jackson, the native women laughed and mimicked them.