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HE following account of "The Origin and Progress of Australian Settlement"
was published as a Centennial Supplement to the Sydney Morning Herald, on January 24th, 1888. The issue met with such general approbation and acceptance that the proprietors of the Herald have been induced to publish, in permanent form, this statement of the progress and view of the national conditions of Australia. The objects for doing so are to furnish the coming generation with information about their country, which it might be difficult for them to procure for themselves, and to supply visitors to Australia with facts regarding it, which they are so often at a loss to know how to acquire. Wrong impressions have been often carried away by distinguished men whose means of obtaining information were limited, and occasionally to the detriment of the country. This record is, therefore, placed at the disposal of the public in convenient form, with the hope that it may be of general and lasting use.
In the pages following "The Centennial Supplement," are reprinted the Herald's reports of the principal events in connection with the celebration of the Centennial Year of Australian settlement.
SCOPE OF THE CENTENNIAL SUPPLEMENT.
(Sydney Morning Herald Leader, January 24, 1888.)
WE publish to-day, in our Centennial supplement a review of the origin and progress of Australian settlement, of the growth of Australian interests, and the development of Australian resources. Indulgence in periodical retrospect is a habit of civilised human nature. It is followed by individuals, by societies, by nations. We have witnessed the celebration of the Centenary of the United States, the rejoicings at the jubilee of her Majesty's reign, and now, at the close of our own first centennium, we are compelled, by the very force of instinct, to look back upon the past, to compare its small beginnings with the facts around us, and to look forward with somewhat of wistfulness but more of hope to what the future shall bring forth. The intention of the Supplement is to help our readers both here and elsewhere to make this survey and comparison, by defining our present position and tracing the steps which have led up to it.
The history of Australian progress is a narrative of persevering industry and almost incessant struggle. In glancing over the pages of our supplement illustrations of this will be found under almost every head. The early years had difficulties of their own, absorbing all the energies of the first settlers, whilst the rate of progress was slow indeed. But from the time when the way into the interior was first opened, and men began to perceive the capabilities of the land, there has, notwithstanding temporary fluctuations of fortune, and checks administered by adverse seasons, been an almost uninterrupted process of exploration and discovery and reclamation of the immense territory for the use of man. Certainly the pioneers of Australian settlement have encountered less danger from a hostile native population than the early settlers in North America or Southern Africa did; but many of them, nevertheless, were always conscious that they carried their lives in their hands, and if personal records of the early times were published, they would contain many thrilling narratives of adventure and conflict. The remarkable freedom of the Australian plains and forests from beasts of prey formidable to man has un
doubtedly favoured the occupation of the country; but on the other hand the dryness of the climate and the scarcity of water-courses have been sources of peril. But we have had a hardy race of explorers, whom neither danger could daunt nor hardship baffle, and the explorers have been well followed up by men of practical enterprise.
In like manner we may point to Australian political history. It is difficult for us now to form a vivid conception of the state of things that prevailed in the days of absolute Crown Government. The publication of some documents lately has recalled attention to the dispute between Governor Bligh and the military party. It is hard in these days to form a clear notion of the conditions in which such revolutionary proceedings were possible. But we can trace the growing influence of a love of liberty and a desire for free government in the persistent struggles which preceded each successive step in the course of reform. The who bore the pressure in those times characterised by an elasticity of spirit which could not Had be suppressed. the colony been founded by men of a feebler race there would neither have been the reclamation of the territory nor the gradual progress upwards from the personal rule of a Crown colony to the establishment of the free institutions under which we now live. It was well for the struggling settlement, and well for the interests of the Empire, that the Imperial authorities, taught by the sharp lessons of the American conflict, adopted a policy of concession. Had another policy prevailed, we may take it for granted that the first centennium of the colony's foundation would have closed amidst circumstances widely different from those we see around us now.
In the development of our material interests generally we have had to fight against difficulties particularly our own. There is little doubt that the choice of Australia by the Imperial authorities for the original purposes of the first settlement was partly determined by the length of the voyage. We can well imagine that this was considered a