a treasure-trove of literature
treasure found hidden with no evidence of ownership
Title: The Flogging Parson Author: George Forbes * A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook * eBook No.: 1500691h.html Language: English Date first posted: June 2015 Most recent update: June 2015 This eBook was produced by: Maurie Mulcahy Project Gutenberg of Australia eBooks are created from printed editions which are in the public domain in Australia, unless a copyright notice is included. We do NOT keep any eBooks in compliance with a particular paper edition. Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributing this file. This eBook is made available at no cost and with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg Australia Licence which may be viewed online.
GO TO Project Gutenberg Australia HOME PAGE
CHAPTER I.—A CLERICAL MAGISTRATE.
CHAPTER II.—THE STORY OF RICHARD HALE, A STATE PRISONER.
CHAPTER III.—MURIEL'S WELCOME HOME.
CHAPTER IV.—THE STORY OF RICHARD HALE CONTINUED—TWO INTERESTING PRISONERS.
CHAPTER V.—RICHARD HALE FINDS A HOME.
CHAPTER VI.—LIFE AT PARRAMATTA IN THE YEAR 1800.
CHAPTER VII.—IMPRISONED WITHOUT TRIAL.
CHAPTER VIII.—THREE HUNDRED LASHES.
CHAPTER IX.—IN THE NAME OF THE LAW.
CHAPTER X.—SYDNEY IN 1801.
CHAPTER XI.—THE STORY OF RICHARD HALE CONTINUED. A SECOND TIME ARRESTED.
CHAPTER XII.—ONE-EYED MURPHY.
CHAPTER XIII.—AT NORFOLK ISLAND.
CHAPTER XIV.—MURIEL LEAVES THE RECTORY.
CHAPTER XV.—THE STORY OF RICHARD HALE CONTINUED. RELEASE FROM NORFOLK ISLAND.
CHAPTER XVI.—JAMES RUTHERFORD.
CHAPTER XVII.—MURIEL DISAPPEARS.
CHAPTER XVIII.—HALE'S LIFE IN SYDNEY IN 1804.
CHAPTER XIX.—AT A CONVICT'S MERCY.
CHAPTER XX.—ARREST OF GOVERNOR BLIGH.
CHAPTER XXI.—THE STORY OF RICHARD HALE AND THE NARRATIVE CONCLUDED.
Appendix to "The Flogging Parson."
(No. I) FOR STEALING THREE SPANISH DOLLARS.
(No. II.) THE MURDER OF JOHN BRACKFIELD.
(No. III.) EDWARD BATES.
In the courthouse at Parramatta—the most important town at that period, next to Sydney, in the penal settlement of New South Wales—on a certain afternoon in the month of June, 1798, a portly figure of clerical mien sat upon a raised bench at one end of the courtroom. By the deference paid him, it was easy to see that he was the presiding magistrate.
In the dock, facing the bench, two young men, mere boys, the last of a batch of criminals to receive sentence that day, awaited removal to prison. They stood, silent, behind the bars, and, accustomed as they were to cruel punishment, to-day they seemed bewildered at the severity of the sentence which had just been passed upon them. It was—that they be confined each in a solitary cell on bread and water, and every second morning receive 25 lashes "until they tell where the property they are proved to have stolen is concealed."
Presently they were taken away, the court was adjourned, and the magistrate retired to his own room, while the registrar, who was about to close the book in which the sentences were recorded, gave permission to some of the constables, to look at the list again, for, inured as they were to barbarous punishment inflicted in the name of the law, it was recognised that the "flogging parson" (by which soubriquet the reverend magistrate was known) had that day excelled himself.
The record reads as follows, and is one of many at that time daily appearing in the courthouse register at Parramatta, since burnt by the authorities in very shame at such a travesty on the name of British Justice. The prisoners mentioned here were mostly young people, for it was no uncommon thing in those days for boys and girls of 15 and under to be transported for a lengthened term of years, or even for life for the commission of offences which would now be dealt with in our police courts by fine or imprisonment for a few days.
"The prisoner Parsons is sentenced to receive 25 lashes every Saturday,
and also to do his Government work until the remainder of the property
he is proved to have stolen is returned.
"Bridget Rook is ordered to be chained to Margaret Murphy, and to remain so chained until the gown she has stolen is returned to it's proper owner.
"Mary Langridge, a runaway from the factory, is sentenced to work in double irons for five weeks.
"The bench do order that Patrick Leville be confined in a solitary cell on bread and water until he does tell who has taken the property from his master's premises.
"Richard Perrings: The bench do sentence the prisoner to receive 100 lashes and work 12 months in the chain gang on bread and water if he does not bring up the deficiency of his work.
"The bench do sentence the prisoner Dunn to remain one month on bread and water in a solitary cell, and at the expiration to receive 100 lashes, and then to be sent to work in the chain gang at Emu Plains.
"John Downes and Hugh Carroll (the prisoners last removed from the dock), ordered to be confined each in a solitary cell on bread and water, and every second morning to receive 25 lashes until they tell where the property which they are proved to have stolen is concealed."
Yes, truly the flogging parson had that day excelled himself.
Having descended from the judgment seat, the Rev. Jonathan Carden (commonly known as "the Reverend John") came forth from the courthouse into the principal street of Parramatta, and proceeded towards the Rectory, a substantial two-storied building close to the church then nearing completion, which the reverend gentleman, by his own exertions, had been mainly instrumental in causing to be built. As he passed along the footpath, hats were lifted and salutes exchanged by the rector and passers-by, according in familiarity to that state of life to which it had pleased providence to call them, the degrees of which were rigidly observed.
On reaching home, the Rev. John was welcomed by his wife, a submissive, indefinite woman, about the same age as her husband, her black gown the perfection of neatness, and her dark hair arranged in crisp curls on each side of her face. In her hand she held a letter addressed to the rector, which she smilingly informed him had not long since arrived with the English mail.
Off the bench, the Rev. Jonathan Carden was the picture of benevolence. Many regarded him as a model of respectability, and spoke of him with unstinted praise; and all agreed that, although he possessed a reputation of being a terror to evil-doers, no breath of scandal, in his religious or domestic life, had ever been known to fall upon him.
The letter which Mrs. Carden handed to her husband proved to be from a distant relative in England, and it informed him of the death of his elder brother, Samuel, leaving an only daughter, Muriel, who, possessing a small competency for her support, was commended by her dying father to the care of her uncle Jonathan in Australia.
Letters travelled slowly in those days. More than seven months had elapsed since this particular letter had been written, and it seemed too late in the day now to mourn for a departed brother, whom the Rev. John had not seen for many years; so, after a suitable expression of regret had been made, both Mr. and Mrs. Carden became wholly concerned in the news, with regard to their niece Muriel, whom they remembered in England as a pretty and somewhat wilful child.
"She must come, to us, of course," said the Rev. John. "We have plenty of accommodation, and, having no children of our own, she will be a new interest in our home life."
So that evening, after dinner, the Rev. John sat down and wrote the following letter, to be forwarded by the next outgoing mail:—
June 3rd, 1798.
My Dear D——,
I regret to be informed of my brother Samuel's death, but, as we are both aware, he was well advanced in years, and had enjoyed the blessings of health and competent circumstances during a long life, so that, in this reflection, we have much to be thankful for. Let Muriel come to us by all means. There are many opportunities that may readily be availed of for her passage out, as the officers' wives are continually coming to this colony, and you will, no doubt, find a suitable chaperone for my niece. I remember Muriel, as a child, very well, but I daresay she has forgotten me and her aunt Marion. Tell her that we are ready to welcome her as a daughter. She will be a companion for Marion, as I have much to occupy my time, and a great variety of duties to perform. I am a gardener, a farmer, a magistrate and minister; so that, when one duty does not call me, another does. In this infant colony there is plenty of manual labor for everybody. I conceive it a duty to all to take an active part. He who will not work must not eat. Yesterday I was in the field assisting in the working of my farm. To-day I have been sitting in court. To-morrow, if well, I must ascend the pulpit and preach to my people. In this manner I chiefly spend my time. It may seem strange, but it is necessary, situated as we are.
With our mutual love to Muriel, believe me to be,
And in the gaol across the stone bridge, on the other side of the rivet, which intersects the town of Parramatta, the victims of the "System" awaited the infliction of the inhuman punishments which had that day been ordered by the "flogging parson."
"I was born in the year 1756, in the County of Wicklow, in Ireland, where I remained in comfortable circumstances until the year 1798, that fatal year of the rebellion which brought upon Ireland so much misery and misfortune.
"My acquaintance with rebels, and appearance among the principal actors in the rebellion, was accidental. If I had not been placed exactly in the circumstances in which I stood, I would, in all probability, have been on the other side of the question. But I will not dwell upon the history of what took place up to the time of my leaving Ireland; suffice it to say that, with others equally unfortunate, I was exiled to Australia for political offences, not as a convict, but as a prisoner of State, my wife being allowed to accompany me, and suitable provision being made for our passage out to Sydney Cove.
"The Minerva transport, which was chartered for our conveyance to New South Wales, was well found and fitted for the voyage, and, in this respect, differed greatly from the convict ships which were subsequently employed in the degrading transport service; and the captain gave orders for the carpenters to fit up a little cabin for me and my wife (for whose passage I paid £120) off the steerage, and here we were most comfortable.
"On the 24th August, 1799, we weighed anchor, and sailed from the Cove of Cork, and on the 4th September we were in sight of Madeira, where we fired a gun for a pilot, but none came off to us. We bore away from that island, steering our course for Rio de Janeiro, where we arrived, in eight weeks, without any occurrence worthy of particular mention. We remained at Rio for three weeks, and then, in due course, made the South-West Cape of New Holland, and shortly after saw Storm Bay passage. We then sailed along the coast, keeping in sight of land, sometimes so close that we could see the people on it by help of a glass. We sailed above 3000 miles on the coast, and passed by the head of Old St. Patrick, and through Bass Straits.
"Just at daylight one morning in the month of January, we entered Sydney Heads, and fired a gun for a pilot, but none appeared. We then sailed by Pinchgut Island, and the first remarkable object I saw was the skeleton of a man named Morgan on a gibbet; he had been executed for murder, and sentenced to hang in chains at this spot, where he became a subject of ridicule to the convicts, and terror to the natives, who, though hitherto particularly partial to that spot, now totally abandoned it lest the malefactor should descend and seize them in the same manner as their superstition prompted them to imagine spirits did. We then passed by Garden Island, and came to anchor in Sydney Cove at about 11 o'clock a.m. on the 11th January, 1800.
"Soon after we had come to anchor the ship was visited by Captain Johnston, Nicholas Devine, and a naval officer, with several spectators. The prisoners were then brought upon deck, their irons taken off, and placed in three rows on the deck. Captain Johnston held the indent in his hand, on which he inserted the name of every prisoner, the place of trial, length of sentence, and the cause of conviction. Each man's trade or profession was now enquired into, by which means the authorities were able to select such as they wanted for Government employ, and then the military officers had their choice. The remainder were taken by the residents, according to their station, and influence, while some were sent at once to Norfolk Island, as being considered too bad for the settlement at Sydney.
"It was now that I had an opportunity of observing, at close quarters, some ladies who had accompanied us on the voyage out from England. I had occasionally noticed them upon the aft deck of the vessel and one of them had particularly attracted my attention. She was a young English girl not older, I would say, than about eighteen years, and very beautiful I thought her both in face and form. From her custom of invariably appearing in black, I concluded her to be in mourning for some near relative, and later I learnt that she was an orphan on her way to join her uncle, a clergyman, at Parramatta.
"Among the first to board the vessel when we had come to anchor, was a portly cleric who greeted the young emigrant affectionately, and, after some little delay, they went on shore together.
"Captain Johnston now came to me, and very civilly addressed me, for I had kept myself from association with the convicts. Mr. Harrison, the chief mate, stepped forward and introduced me, and spoke of me in such high terms that Captain Johnston told me he would place me in a situation where I could realise five hundred pounds a year by superintending a large farm and a great quantity of stock, and I have no doubt he spoke the truth. I returned him my thanks, and said I would give him an answer in a few days.
"I had received, the day before, an invitation from Mr. Maurice Margarot to go to his house when I should land. This gentleman had been convicted of sedition at Edinburgh in 1794, and transported to New South Wales for fourteen years; having hailed a boat, I determined to leave the vessel and take advantage of his hospitality.
"Mr. Margarot received us with every kindness. He was a man of great conversational powers, and of literary attainments, being well educated. Mrs. Margarot was of the same rank and character, a lady of elegant manners. They were both of hasty tempers, and very irritable.
"About one o'clock an Englishman named Barnes came in with a basket of beautiful peaches and nectarines, and an animal somewhat like a rabbit, called a bandycoot, on which we afterwards dined, and found it to be good flavor. Barnes was parish clerk, and came from England with the Rev. Mr. Johnson, the first clergyman who reached this colony.
"Mr. Margarot said he regretted his means did not permit him to furnish his house with better fare for my entertainment, but what he had he was happy to share with me. I then asked permission to send out for some spirits. I gave the servant a guinea, and he brought us a wine bottle of rum, for which he paid fourteen shillings, and I received three small pieces of silver as change, cut in a triangular shape, the value of which I did not know. We drank our rum-punch, and chatted over our adventures; and, after providing this entertainment for my host, I found myself left with but four guineas on which to begin the world."
A road at this time led from Sydney to Parramatta, well made and kept in good condition; almost everywhere it was wide enough for three carriages to pass abreast, and bridges had been thrown over such parts of it as were crossed by the waters, so that no obstacle was to be met with on the journey. This road, having been opened through vast forests, looked, at a distance, like an immense avenue of foliage and verdure, and an agreeable shade always prevailed in this continuous bower, the silence of which was only broken by the chirping of the brightly plumaged parroquets, and other birds, which inhabited it. Woods here and there opened to the view, and amidst them were to be seen spots which had been cleared by the settlers, and converted into attractive habitations.
As Muriel drove with her uncle, the Rev. Jonathan Carden, along this luxuriant and apparently endless avenue, it seemed to her as though she had entered upon a new world the antithesis to that to which she had been accustomed in England.
"Are there no people in this country?" she once inquired of her uncle, when mile after mile was traversed without meeting a traveller by the way.
"Not many as yet, my dear," replied the Rev. John, smiling indulgently, "considering its size; though some day, no doubt, the land over which we are now passing will be occupied by a teeming population who will build up a new world in this Southern Hemisphere; but that will be long after our time. As for us, we must content ourselves with things as they are, and with the limited society which you will find at Parramatta."
"I think I shall like Australia," said Muriel, after another pause. "There is a feeling of freedom in these open spaces everywhere around, that one does not experience in England."
"For the free there is always happiness," replied the Rev. Jonathan, solemnly; "but you must be prepared, Muriel," he continued, after some hesitation, "for other sights to which possibly you have never been accustomed. This, remember, is a convict settlement. The free inhabitants are in a minority, and it is only by firmness and severity that order can be maintained." Then, as Muriel looked at him curiously, he realised that he was already beginning to make excuses for himself, and he felt irritated by the scrutiny of this young girl who seemed to read his thoughts.
"But, of course, you need never know anything of the criminal side of our community," he added, somewhat testily. "Indeed, I would strongly object to your even allowing your thoughts to dwell for a moment upon these wretched people. Your aunt never alludes to them, in any way, at my particular request."
And now, at the end of their long drive, the town of Parramatta hove in sight, situated in the midst of a fine plain on the banks of a river bearing the same name. It was not so large a town as Sydney, but it contained about 180 houses, in one long street parallel with the river, intersected, at right angles, by another smaller street, which, at one end, terminated in a stone bridge over the river, while, at the other end of it was the church, not yet completed, and built in a rude heavy style, with the Rectory adjoining.
Before entering the town of Parramatta, the carriage was stopped by a party of constables having in their midst, a middle-aged man, apparently a cripple by the manner in which he walked, who had been caught in the act of attempting to escape from the settlement. A whispered conversation took place between the chief-constable and the Rev. Jonathan Carden, whereupon the latter then and there administered the oath, and took a deposition of what had occurred, which he signed and delivered to the officer, with instructions to see his order carried out at once.
While these proceedings were in progress, the man, although he took no part in what was said, regarded Muriel intently. He was a middle-aged man, grey and gristled, and with a most repulsive cast of countenance, but he bore about him a look of great muscular strength, notwithstanding the fact that he limped when, at the word of command, he sullenly shifted his position.
Muriel, mystified at what was taking place, and thinking it probable that the old man was being conveyed to the hospital, questioned her uncle when the carriage drove on as to what had occurred, but was met by a curt request not to concern herself with such matters, which were part of the multifarious duties which the Rev. John was called upon to perform.
"Do not worry yourself with what I may term the business side of our life here," said her uncle, kindly. "See," he added, as the carriage drew up in front of the Rectory, "here we are at home, and your aunt at the gate to give you a welcome."
The greeting between Marion Carden and her niece Muriel was affectionate in the extreme.
"You have grown out of all recognition," said Marion, as she looked admiringly at the beautiful girl who walked beside her towards the white stone steps leading to the old-fashioned porch over the front door of the house. "It is ten years since I last saw you, and you were then a mere dot of a child."
"Yet I remember you," answered Muriel, "quite well; and I would have known you anywhere, even if we had met away from this house where I expected to see you."
"Time does not work such wonders when people are grown up," replied Mrs. Carden, "although perhaps I used to think myself much younger ten years ago than I do now."
Muriel, in the excitement of her home-coming, had forgotten the incident she had witnessed at the roadside before entering the town, but, at no great distance from the Rectory, a scene was being enacted by no means uncommon at the time.
Securely fastened by his wrists and ankles to the closed door of the Government storehouse, the runaway convict, who had been guilty of the heinous offence of endeavoring to escape from his place of daily torment, was undergoing a flagellation in the public street that, used as they were to such sights, caused the crowd who had gathered to witness the flogging to manifest their indignation, and many hostile glances were directed towards the Rectory, into which the Rev. Jonathan Carden had just introduced his newly-arrived niece.
The authentic version of this occurrence reads as follows, and it needs no effort of fiction to add to its horrors:—
"A prisoner of the Crown, aged 58, was apprehended at Parramatta on a charge of running to Sydney, with a view to escape from the Colony; on the way to the gaol he was stopped by the resident magistrate, a deposition was taken, then and there, and the unfortunate old man ordered to receive 200 lashes. He was immediately conducted to the storeroom in the town of Parramatta, and there received the whole of his punishment, his flesh being literally torn from his back. The prisoner had been one of the charcoal burners; he was a cripple in his feet, and only possessed one eye. The crowd around, as well as they dared, testified the loudest reprehension of such monstrosity."
But Muriel did not know, of this—not then, although as time went on, she found good cause to remember it.
"For some time," says Richard Hale, "I continued as manager of the Brush Farm at Parramatta, frequently receiving from Mr. Cox his assurance that I was giving him every satisfaction. I treated his assigned servants under me as human beings, and they were not slow to recognise their improved condition at the farm, in return for which they rendered more willing, and, therefore, better service than could be expected from men in their condition if treated like slaves. Some of them interested me, two in particular, whose histories I learnt from their own lips, and which may be told in the following words:—
"Young Poole was a North Country villain of the first order; he
had not attained majority before he rendered himself notorious as
a housebreaker. Disdaining common robberies, and petty thefts, he
embarked on a grander scale, and was implicated in some of the most
flagrant burglaries known to the police at that time. He was the
natural son of a wealthy gentleman, well known in that part of the
country; his features were handsome, and his manners singularly
pleasing and prepossessing. Up to the age of 15, his father had spared
no expense on his education, when he abandoned him to the indulgence
of a silly, ignorant mother, who, vain of her son's appearance and
understanding, suffered him to range in idleness and profligacy,
supplying his wants at a rate considerably beyond what the limits
of her income prudently permitted; but all was insufficient for his
inordinate desires, which nearly ruined her, and this was ultimately
effected by persuading her to dispose of the few trinkets, and better
articles of furniture, which, together with an annuity, she possessed
from the man who had betrayed her, under the pretence of supporting her
son as a gentleman.
"She was now reduced to the necessity of using her needle to obtain a livelihood. By this time Poole was 17 years of age, when, impatient of the privations of the poverty he had occasioned, he forsook his mother, and soon after joined a band of thieves of whom he became the most hardened, and, as for a long period he escaped detection, was also the most daring. At length he was apprehended, and transported for life beyond the seas.
"Conversing with him upon his condition, he betrayed no emotion save regret at the loss of his liberty. He cursed his father for begetting, educating, and then abandoning him without a trade or other means of earning a subsistence, and he held his mother in utter contempt. Of neither had he heard for years, and he desired never even to think of them again. The recollection of them excited none but the worst feelings. He appeared to hold them responsible for his fate, and attributed all his vices to his birth and breeding. He was the slave of impetuous passions that were never controlled by the reins of self-government. His general course of life gave him no uneasiness; on the contrary, in proportion as his deeds had been bold and dangerous, rose his excitement in recounting them. Poole was a very singular character. Some of the events in his life were marked with great atrocity, but his manners and conduct were so gentle and docile that it was impossible not to feel interested in his welfare. His person and bearing were those of a gentleman.
"Another interesting lad about 19, from Lancashire, also excited in me a strong feeling of compassion. He was born of respectable parents, but his mother, having been early left a widow, he remembered little of his father. The charge of bringing him up, therefore, devolved upon her, a duty which it appeared she tenderly and religiously performed. He received a decent, plain education, which, with his natural abilities, might have rendered him an honorable and useful member of society; but, in spite of the care bestowed upon him, he trod another and more dangerous path. In due time he was articled an attorney, where, for a season, he conducted himself well, but the principles of virtue instilled into his youth had no deeply-rooted foundation. He discarded the precepts of his mother, and sinned wilfully. From bad company and evil habits he became impatient of restraint, quitted his master, and abandoned his parent for a set of lawless men.
"During this period, all communication between the mother and son was cut off. Of his pursuits, or his fate, she was altogether ignorant, but, during the painful interval, she was a prey to the keenest anxiety, and had the gravest forebodings regarding him. In an evil hour, the tidings reached her that he in whom all her earthly happiness was centred, her only child whom she had reared with such affectionate solicitude, was a robber in the hands of justice. This intelligence was soon followed by a letter from the lad himself, dated from his prison in London, replete with expressions of repentance and self-accusation, in which he implored his parent to visit him. The rod of affliction had already fallen, with accumulated heaviness, upon her, and bowed her to the very earth; her cup of misery was now full to overflowing, but the mother's affection overcame all obstacles. In a few short hours her peaceful cottage was deserted, and she was on the road to the metropolis. She believed she had wrought herself to the pang of an interview with her lost and guilty child, and fondly hoped yet to lead him to repentance by her prayers and her presence. But she had over-rated her powers. When arrived at Newgate, in a tremulous voice, she requested to see her son, and was conducted to his cell, the sight of his pale visage, sunken eye, emaciated form, and his person heavily ironed, contrasted with the brilliancy of youth and innocence in which she had last beheld him, was more than she could bear; she fell upon his neck in an agony of grief, known to mothers only, clasped him to her heart, uttered a piteous cry, and fell lifeless on the floor.
"Thus was the wretched convict in an instant left a miserable, friendless orphan. The affecting manner in which this poor lad spoke of his mother, and accused himself of being her murderer was extremely touching."
"On the 18th January, 1800, a week after my arrival in the Colony," says Richard Hale in continuation of his narrative, "I received instructions to go down to the wharf in order to proceed to Parramatta, it being intended to locate me in the interior. We were taken in a boat up the river, landed at a village about twenty miles from Sydney, where we were directed to the Rev. Jonathan Carden, who sent a man with me to point out a house where, for the present, I was to take my wife. It belonged to a man named Henry, who was sent out by Sir Joseph Banks to cultivate the science of botany.
"Next day, the Reverend Mr. Carden sent me a note to say he would call upon me, which he did, in company with Captain Johnson, Mr. Atkins, and Dr. Thompson. He requested me to accompany them to Toongabbie, a Government settlement, where they were tilling the ground on the public account.
"At a distance I saw about fifty men at work, as I thought, dressed in nankeen jackets, but, on nearer approach, I found them naked, except for a pair of loose trousers; their skin was tanned by the sun and climate to that color. I felt much pity for the poor wretches; they each had a kind of large hoe about nine inches deep and eight inches wide, and the handle as thick as that of a shovel, with which they turned up, as with a spade, the ground, which was left to rot in the winter. They cannot bear any clothes when at work in the heat of the day.
"Captain Johnson addressed me, saying, 'Mr. Hale, you are a good farmer, I suppose?'
"'I do well enough with horses and oxen but not with men," said I.
"Dr. Thompson then said, 'Do you not think these men would understand you better than horses or oxen?'
"'Yes, sir,' I replied, 'but it appears great barbarity to work men in this manner.'
"'Well,' said he, 'it matters not what you think it; you will soon come into it.'
"Captain Johnston then called a man named Michael Fitzgerald and said, 'Here is Mr. Hale to assist you, so you will not be so much confined in future?'
"'I am very glad of it,' replied Fitzgerald.
"I afterwards found that this fellow had been a pick-pocket in England. When I heard this conversation I could hardly contain my indignation, but I thought it better to let matters proceed to the end.
"We now journeyed to Parramatta, and next morning we waited for the arrival of Captain John Hunter, Governor-in-Chief in and over New South Wales and its dependencies, and I had the good fortune to meet his Excellency.
"'May I presume to ask,' said I, 'if it was by your Excellency's command I was put under a man of the name of Fitzgerald as a superintendent at Toongabbie?'
"His Excellency answered with saying, 'No, sir; I never intended or meant to put you into Government employ; you came here as a State prisoner, without any indent against you, and while you conduct yourself correctly none can or shall molest you. All you have to do is to conduct yourself as a peaceful subject, and we have no desire or power to put you under restraint.'
"That evening I received a note from Mr. Cox to the effect that he wanted to see me, and next morning I went to his house. Feeling myself once more a free man was a delightful sensation, and I had been declared free by the mouth of His Excellency the Governor himself, one of the most worthy men, and the father, and a right good father he was, to this infant Colony; a perfect gentleman in his manners, he was gracious and condescending to all, without compromising his dignity, personal or official.
"I was received by Mr. Cox with cordiality, respect, and even friendship, and we went to see his farm together. I did not forget to communicate to Mr. Cox the interview I had had with His Excellency the Governor, and I stated that I was now confirmed in the opinion that I was altogether, at my own disposal, to do the best I could, and Mr. Cox said he rejoiced at the circumstance, and he doubted not to see me a prosperous man. He then offered me the management of his farm, which I accepted on terms to our mutual satisfaction. I got men to break up the ground and prepared sixty acres to be sown in with wheat.
"It was getting late for sowing wheat, but, by great exertion, I commenced sowing on 24th March, and finished the 3rd of June. The 4th of June, the King's Birthday, was a general holiday throughout the colony, and every prisoner got a pound of beef or pork, as did the soldiers, with an addition of half a pint of spirits each man to drink the King's health.
"Every Saturday I settled with the men, calling all hands together, and showing them their week's work. Thus I managed the estate to Mr. Cox's perfect satisfaction and at Brush Farm, after all my recent troubles, I at last found a home, and a happy one."
When Muriel had become accustomed to her new mode of life at Parramatta, she found in it nothing to which, at first, she could take exception. The Rectory was a comfortable house, standing in its own grounds, and shaded by some well-grown trees, and the Rev. John had cultivated a flower garden, from which blooms might be gathered at almost any season during the year.
The entire population at Parramatta, at the time of Muriel's arrival there, was about 1500, of which 120 were soldiers occupying a brick barrack built in the form of a horseshoe, and having in front of it a well-gravelled parade ground, where the troops of the garrison might daily be seen at drill. These troops were under the command of Captain Piper, of the New South Wales Regiment, who was a frequent caller at the Rectory.
The town contained a well-regulated hospital, of which the principal physician was Mr. D'Arcy Wentworth, and, on the western extremity of the main street, at the top of Rose Hill, was Government House, where the representative of Vice-Royalty was frequently in residence. Across the river was a strong gaol, in which the unhappy prisoners were confined, and the female factory; but these institutions, and particularly the latter, were never mentioned in Muriel's presence.
At this time, the distinction drawn between the classes was very marked, and education was confined to a privileged few, consequently, to the "common people," the vineyard of knowledge was as far removed as the distant shores of some unknown land. The majority of the wretched convicts, therefore, who in those early days were transported to the colonies, mostly for very minor offences, were wholly ignorant of even a rudimentary education.
The estimation in which poor ignorant girls were held, and the manner of their treatment, may best be gathered from the following account given by an eye-witness. "The proceedings respecting the poor convict women, on their arrival in the Colony," he says, "were abominable. They were disposed of by Potter, the bellman, as so much livestock. I have seen them afterwards sold, some of them for a gallon of rum, others for £5, and so on, and thus they were transferred from one brutal fellow to another without remedy or appeal."
Among the various places in the neighborhood of Parramatta, visited by the residents, was the Brush Farm, and here Muriel made the acquaintance of Richard Hale, the manager, with whose quiet elderly ways she appeared much impressed. Hale, at this time, was past 40 years of age, but he possessed the strength of a young man still in his prime, coupled with a clear head, and level understanding, which made him in valuable as an overseer or manager in a country such as this, where it was difficult to obtain the services of anyone who could be trusted. Hale tells the story of his life in such simple unassuming language that it requires a study of his character in order to realise the courage and determination possessed by his indomitable man, which enabled him to endure the trials and vicissitudes of his eventful career.
"How do you keep your men is such good order, Mr. Hale?" said Captain Piper, when a party of his friends, which included Muriel, were being shown over Brush Farm. "They look well, and appear contented and even happy.
"In order to keep them honest," replied Hale, "I pay them fully and fairly for everything they do beyond their stipulated task, and, if they think the rations are not sufficient, I issue to each man six pounds of wheat, fourteen of potatoes, and one of pork, in addition. By this means the men are well fed, for the old saying is true that 'Hunger will break through stone walls,' and it is all nonsense to make laws for starving men. When any article is stolen from me, I instantly parade all hands, and tell them that if it is not restored in a given time, I will stop all extra, allowances and indulgences. 'The thief,' says I, 'is a disgrace to the establishment, and all employed in it. Let the honest men find him out, and punish him among yourselves; do not let it be said that the flogger ever polluted this place by his presence. You all know the advantages you enjoy; do not throw them away. Do not let me know who the thief is, but punish him by your own verdict.' I then dismiss them, and the men say among themselves that what I have told them is right, and they will then call a jury together, and, in all cases, they succeed in detecting and punishing the offender."
"Mr. Cox said to me one day," continued Hale, with a shrewd whimsical smile: "'Richard, how is it you never bring your men to punishment? You have more under you than, I believe, any man in the Colony, and, to the surprise of all, you have never had one flogged, nor, indeed, have made a complaint against one."
"'Sir,' said I, 'I have studied human nature more than books, and I am always rigidly just to my men. I never oppress them, or suffer them to cheat me, or each other. They know, if they do their duty, they will be well treated, and, if not, they will suffer for it."
"I like Mr. Hale," said Muriel to Captain Piper as they drove back together to Parramatta. "What a shame it is that a man like that, so good and clever, should have been sent to the Colony as a transported felon."
"We do not regard him as a felon here," replied Captain Piper. "His offence was purely a political one, and, so long as he conducts himself well, none will interfere with him."
"But what a waste of usefulness it is," said Muriel, "to think that a man like that, who could do so much good for others, should be forbidden to say what is in his mind, when he only desires the advancement of his follow men."
"Such things are better not meddled with," answered the Captain, "particularly by young ladies."
But Muriel did not take this answer kindly. Indeed she regarded the Captain so gravely, that he made haste, somewhat awkwardly, to change the subject.
"One evening after I had been for some time at Brush Farm," continues Richard Hale, "I heard a knocking at the door, which was something unusual in that quiet place.
"'What do you want?' said I.
"'I come with a message from Mr. Cox,' answered a voice without.
"I immediately opened the door, on which I was astonished at seeing eight soldiers and a sergeant enter with fixed bayonets, which they presented at my breast. I asked them what they were about to do, which they answered that they would soon let me know.
"When I had dressed myself they handcuffed me, and brought me to the guardhouse at Parramatta.
"The next day I was put into a boat, and taken to Sydney, where I was introduced to Mr. Daniel McKay, a Scotchman, and a person whose acquaintance I did not covet, for he occupied the office of gaoler at Sydney."
"On my being handed over to his keeping, the following conversation took place:
"'Weel, Master-General Hale, and you're welcome. I shall be teaching ye a new exercise, for I hae nae doot but ye'll be hanged, and I wish ye may, for weel ye deserve it."
"'I do not doubt your wishes,' said I, 'for if there be any humanity about you there must be much deceit.'
"'You'll find oot my guid qualities, nae doot, in a foo days,' said he, 'sae just gang awa' wi' yer gates intil this comfortable lodgin'.
"I was then put into a cell, and orders were given not to admit anyone to see me, nor was I to have any support but the gaol allowance of a bottle of water and a pound of bread each day. The doors were shut, and here I was again a poor unfortunate wretch in the power of my enemies. What new freak fortune was playing upon me I could not divine. I felt confident of my innocence of any crime. I was puzzled to guess what I was accused of, but I consoled myself with the recollection that it must be a false charge.
"Next day the door of my cell was opened by McKay, who brought me a bottle of water and my pound of bread. I asked him if there was any news; he answered with a sneer. 'Oh, yes; there be some foo oi your Irishers to be hangit presently.'
"He said no more, but locked the doors, and I was left twenty-four hours more of uninterrupted contemplation.
"I never touched the bread and water left in my cell. It was now the second night, and I lay down and slept but uneasily, annoyed by the hard, cold stones. I was troubled with dreams, and uncomfortable visions passed through my mind. I awoke, it was day, a shutter had been removed, and I saw the light once more. I was no longer in darkness. About ten o'clock the gaoler appeared with a second bottle of water and a pound of bread. He was about to take away the other bottle, and was surprised to find it full, and the allowance of bread, beside, it, untouched. He asked me if I intended to starve myself to death. I did not answer him, and he went away.
"Whether he told the Provost Marshal or not I cannot say, but about eleven o'clock that officer, attended by Captain Aikin, who commanded a merchant ship that lay in the harbor, came to the gaol.
"The Provost Marshal looked very hard at me, and at length said, 'I am sorry to see you in this place.'
"I answered, 'Sir, I thank you for your commiseration; perhaps you will be so good as to let me know when I am to suffer.'
"He stared at me, and at last said, 'Suffer! What do you mean?'
"'Why, sir,' said I, 'no man but one under sentence of death is ever treated as I am. Put into a solitary cell without even a bundle of straw to keep his wretched body from the cold stones, and given to support him such a miserable pittance as that you behold for two days. The British laws suppose every man to be innocent until his guilt is made manifest; until then he is never subjected to more deprivation than is necessary for his security from escape. Sir, until a man is found guilty he is entitled to humane treatment, and I declare, most solemnly, that I have not the remotest notion of the cause of my arrest, nor why I am here, and why I am treated like a malefactor.'"
The Provost Marshal and Captain Aikin seemed moved by these observations. One of them said, 'If I were in your place I would tell the Governor what I knew about this plot.'
"I now began to surmise that I had been arrested on suspicion, but was still ignorant of what was meant by the plot.
"I answered, 'I know nothing of any plot, and I cannot tell what I do not know, but I will not invent lies to injure any man or to please any Governor. If I were in a plot I would not betray it, but I am not, nor ever will be, willingly. If you have my death warrant in your pocket take me out. I am sick of life. I am, and have long been, the victim of tyranny and oppression, which have been following me round the world, and I shall be freed from a life of wretchedness and persecution.'
"Both these gentlemen were moved by my distress. Captain Aiken took me by the hand, and, addressing the Provost Marshal, said, 'Sir, it is worse than murder to treat this man so inhumanly; I am sure he is innocent, and, if so, what a horrible injustice has been committed against him. If his guilt were manifest, it would not justify the treatment he has received, but, if otherwise, place yourself in his situation, and can words express the indignation you would feel?' The tears ran down the cheeks of this worthy man as he was speaking, and the Provost Marshal's eyes were full.
"'Gentlemen, I said, 'I know not the charge which is against me, but if I did I would rather die than divulge a secret after I had sworn or promised to keep it.'
"Mr. Smythe, the Provost Marshal, then said, 'I would have you write to his Excellency the Governor, and in a strong and forcible manner let him know how you have been treated.'
"'Sir,' I answered, 'how can I write without either pen, ink, or paper, or even light sufficient?'
"In reply the Provost Marshal said that he would send me pen, ink, and paper, and ordered that the door of the cell should be left open. They both saw the bread and water of two days lying on the floor of my cell by the wall, and they asked me whether that was the allowance sent me, to which I answered in the affirmative, observing that 'I would rather perish than touch a morsel of it.'
"Mr. Smythe said he hoped I would eat a breakfast he would send, adding, 'If I were to lose my commission as Provost Marshal by it, I would not suffer you to be without wholesome and proper food.' Both begged me not to despair, and all would yet be well. They shook me cordially by the hand, and went away.
"Shortly after this interview Mr. Smythe's servant brought me pen, ink, and paper, a chair and table, with a comfortable breakfast, which I ate, and then took up the pen and wrote to the Governor the following letter:—
"'Sir,—I acknowledge the great power vested in you; you are his
Majesty's representative, and all I hope is that you will not disgrace
your power or go beyond the bounds of the happy laws made for the
protection of all his Majesty's subjects. I am sorry that the law,
which is so ready to punish, it not as prompt in protection. You know,
sir, there is a higher power than yours. I only wish from you fair
usage, as a man, and British law. It may happen your Excellency to be
tried, as the Governor in India was, for flogging a man to death.
I remain your Excellency's a most humble and obedient servant,
"Mr. Smythe came and took the letter to his Excellency, who, when he had read it, as I was afterwards told by Mr. Smythe, took off his hat and flung it down on the floor, and stamped with his feet in a violent manner, muttering words to himself. At length he turned to Mr. Smythe and said, 'Let Hale be put in irons, and kept still more strictly.' He then walked about the room in silence for a time, and then, turning to Mr. Smythe, said, in a more moderate tone, 'Mr. Smythe, have you any further business?'
"'None whatever, your Excellency, except about Mr. Hale,' said Smythe.
"'Then you may go,' answered the Governor, snappishly.
"'I know your Excellency's justice and humanity,' replied Smythe, 'and I am satisfied you would not willingly punish an innocent man.'
"'Certainly not,' said the Governor.
"'Well, sir,' continued Smythe, 'if it turns out, as I am satisfied it will, that Hale is free from any knowledge of the business for which he has been arrested, you will regret much the hardship he has already suffered. He has not eaten a morsel of the prison allowance since he was confined, and is already half famished. He is a man of high spirit, and would rather die than live in a state of unjust oppression. Great allowance should be made for his feelings and expressions if he is innocent.'
"'You are right, Smythe,' said the Governor; 'go to the gaol and have him removed to the debtor side, and let him have wine and spirits, but not to excess, and let any respectable person see him at his pleasure.'
"My excellent friend Smythe came to me with joy in his countenance, and gave me this account of the good success of his interview with the Governor. He took me out of Daniel McKay's fangs, and brought me over to the house of the head gaoler, who was also chief constable, and kept a public-house adjoining the prison, where we had some rum and water, and other refreshment. He then left orders with Henry to allow me to take refreshment whenever I wished. This Mr. Smythe was a North of Ireland man, and so was Captain Aikin, and during the months I was confined they were very constant in their visits to me, or in sending Kable to me to supply me with every necessary.'
"A few days after I was taken out of Mr. McKay's hands, nineteen men, charged with a conspiracy to upset the government (for supposed complicity in which I now found I had been arrested) were taken from the gaol, and brought before the Governor for examination. Eighteen of them turned informers. These rascals were all asked about me; but not one of them knew anything to my injury. They were a troublesome batch of blackguards, and not a few of them were sentenced to be flogged, some of whom sank under the effects of the punishment."
The following is the official report of this conspiracy, or fancied conspiracy:—
"The Governor in the beginning of August received information from
his officers that they had some grounds for suspecting that certain
convicts from Ireland were holding seditious correspondence, and
unlawful meetings. To discover whether there was any foundation for
this, his Excellency called in the assistance of Lieutenant-Governor
King, Colonel Paterson, Major Foveaux, and other magistrates, when it
was determined to make a general search among the persons suspected,
in all parts of the colony, at the same time, and to secure and seal
up their papers. The examination took place on the 15th, but nothing
was discovered that could furnish the smallest evidence of the imputed
"The next day a convict, who had with great earnestness propagated a report that many pikes had been secretly made, and, to prevent detection, had been sunk in a well-known part of Sydney Harbor, was examined. This fellow, on being interrogated by the magistrates, confessed he knew nothing of what he had asserted, and said he was intoxicated at the time."
"On the 6th October," writes Richard Hale, "orders were given to prepare the boat to take us back to Parramatta. Mr. Smythe came and took me out of the prison, and we went in a Government boat up the river. When we arrived at Parramatta, the prisoners, some of whom had been sentenced to be flogged, were all put into gaol, but Mr. Smythe allowed me to go at liberty upon my parole of honor to call on him in the morning. I attended to the minute, and we marched to Toongabbie, where all the Government transports were kept, who were called out to witness the punishment of the prisoners.
"I had determined to witness the punishment myself, of the mode of which I had heard a great deal, although there was nothing to oblige me to do so. One man was sentenced to receive 300 lashes, and the method of punishment was such as to make it most effective. The unfortunate man was securely fastened by his wrists to the triangles, so that flinching from the blow was out of the question, for it was impossible for him to stir. Two men were appointed to flog him, and I never saw two threshers in a barn move their flails with more regularity than those two man-killers did, unmoved by pity, and rather enjoying their employment than otherwise.
"I have witnessed many horrible scenes, but this was the most appalling sight I have ever seen. The man received his whole 300 lashes, during which the doctor used to go up to him occasionally to feel his pulse, it being contrary to law to flog a man beyond 50 lashes without having a doctor present.
"I never shall forget this humane doctor, as he smiled and said, 'Go on, this man will tire you both before he falls.'
"During the time this man was receiving his punishment he never uttered a groan. The only words his said were, 'Flog me fair; don't strike me on the neck.' When it was over, two constables took him by the arms to help him into the cart. He said to them, 'Let go my arms,' and, striking each of them with his elbows, he knocked them both down. He then stepped into the cart unassisted, as if he had not received a blow. The doctor remarked, 'That man has strength enough to bear 200 more.'
"The next prisoner tied up was a young lad, about 20 years of age. He was also sentenced to receive 300 lashes. The first 100 were given on his shoulders, and he was cut to the bone between the shoulder blades, which were both bare. The doctor then directed the next 100 to be inflicted lower down, which reduced his flesh to such a jelly that the doctor ordered him to have the remaining 100 on the calves of his legs. During the whole time the lad never even whimpered or flinched, and, when he was asked where the pikes were hid, he answered that he did not know, and that, if he did, he would not tell. 'You may kill me,' he said, 'if you like, but you shall have no music out of my mouth to make others dance upon nothing.' He was put in the cart and sent to the hospital. Three other men then received each 100 lashes, and they sang out lustily from first to last.
"When this terrible exhibition of inhuman cruelty was over, Mr. Smythe and I walked to Parramatta, and went to a tavern kept by James Larra, an honest Jew, where we dined upon a nice lamprey and some hung beef; and next day, my innocence being proved, I was set at liberty, when I proceeded to Brush Farm, and here I was once more at peace in my own house.
"Next morning I went through the flocks and herds, viewed and counted them, and entered their increase and decrease in my stock book. I then went to the men, and ascertained what had been done in my absence.
"Having made these arrangements at Brush Farm, I next inquired if Mr. Cox had engaged anyone in my situation. I left word with Mr. King, who was then in charge of the place, that I would be glad if he would do so, for I was keenly disappointed and hurt at the indifference Mr. Cox had apparently shown at the time of my arrest, having taken no steps on my behalf to secure my release.
"I could not account for this neglect of me in my trouble, and, now that I was once more a free man, I determined to be my own master, and to reside, for a time, in a house of my own in Sydney.
"During my wife's residence in Parramatta, while I was manager at the Brush Farm, and afterwards unlawfully confined in prison. Mrs. Carden and her niece Muriel had frequently visited her. Mrs. Carden was probably unaware of the severities inflicted upon the prisoners by orders of her husband, in his capacity as a magistrate, but Muriel, with a more inquiring disposition, had a clearer perception of what was taking place.
"A young man, for stealing a heifer calf, had been sentenced by the bench to receive 200 lashes in the public streets of Parramatta, and Muriel had been a horrified spectator of part of the punishment. On the impulse of the moment, she had appealed to her uncle to stop the punishment, but had been met by a sternly administered rebuke for her presumption in attempting to interfere with the course of justice, and her uncle's strange behaviour on the occasion had led her to the conclusion, which was afterwards confirmed, that he himself had ordered the flogging.
"From the moment of this discovery, Muriel had shown an inclination to avoid her uncle, and, on leaving Parramatta, she obtained a promise from my wife to provide her with a home in Sydney should she find herself compelled to leave the Rectory."
In writing to Lieutenant Governor King who, together with himself and other magistrates, had been appointed by Governor Hunter to enquire into the alleged conspiracy to overthrow the Government, the Rev. Jonathan Carden expresses himself in the following terms:
Parramatta, 29th Sept., 1800.
We have not been able to come at any of the pikes yet. Whether we shall or shall not is uncertain. I think there will be sufficient evidence before the whole is complete to bring the matter to issue, and justify some severe examples of punishment. They are an unaccountable set of beings. It is difficult to prevail upon any of them, who are accused, to say a single word. We have a number confined, and probably shall see it necessary to send some of them down to Sydney to-day.
I am, etc.,
His Excellency Lieut. Governor King.
The following memorandum also accompanies this letter:—
"Downes, whom Steele accuses, was examined again yesterday before Steele face to face, but denied the whole of the conversation which passed between him and Steele on Saturday last, though they walked near four miles together; Steele told Downes that on Saturday he (Downes) said he knew where the pikes were. Though a young man, Downes would have died upon the spot before he would tell a single sentence. He was taken down three times, punished upon his back, and then lower down, when he could receive no more on the back. Downes was just in the same mood when taken to the hospital as he was when first tied up, and continues the same this morning. He is not in a situation to be sent to Sydney yet. I am sure he will die before he will reveal anything of this business."
Having dispatched this letter and memorandum to Lieutenant Governor King, the Rev. John set to work upon his sermon for next Sunday morning. He wrote fluently, and the corners of his mouth were marked with severity. The sermon was to be a stern denunciation of evil-doers; a warning to the wretched convicts, some of whom would be brought from the gaol to the church to listen to it and to be told that they might expect neither mercy nor forgiveness in this world for the offences of which they had been found guilty. He had no sympathy with crime, and he believed in the lash as the most effective means of breaking the spirit of the unruly.
The sermon finished, the Rev. John looked at the old-fashioned, weighted clock that ticked upon the wall of the room in which he sat, the hands of which pointed towards mid-day.
The punishments ordered by the magistrates were fixed for that afternoon, and the Rev. John liked to excuse his presence at the floggings by saying that his duty as a magistrate compelled his attendance there. As a matter of fact he enjoyed witnessing the torture. There was something in the indomitable courage of some of the victims, and in the voiceless terror of others, that appealed to a craving which possessed him, the nature of which he dared not analyse. The severe and long continued stroke of the lash he tried to convince himself was a part of the "system," a relaxation of which would only invite rebellion; but there were times where he felt sickened and remorseful; and when his imagination was haunted by dreams of which he was ashamed.
Some of those who were supposed to be concerned in the plot against the Government had been sentenced to receive one thousand lashes, but it was realised that the infliction of such a punishment, at one flagellation, would mean the death of the prisoner, and, unwilling to incur the publicity of an inquest, the magistrates, who at that time held the scales of justice, directed a distribution of the lashes, according as the doctor should certify to the capability of human endurance. But most of those (as it was well known to the authorities) who were called upon to undergo the ordeal of a thousand lashes, if they did not die in the hospital between the periods of their lacerations, became lunatic, and lost to all sense of pleasure or pain.
As the Rev. John passed down the principal street of Parramatta, on his way to the stone bridge which led across the river to the gaol and the flogging yard, he was greeted, as usual, with every mark of respect.
"What a fine old fellow it is," was the remark often made by one to another as he passed, "as honest as the day, and a terror to wrong-doers."
That afternoon, in order, to extort confession from a lad of nineteen, who was thought to be obstinate, one hundred lashes were administered, at half minute time, so as to extend the punishment over the best part of an hour. The heat of the afternoon was intense, and two floggers took turn and turn about at their ghastly work.
During the long and tedious punishment there were times when the Prince of Darkness himself seemed to stand at the triangles to mock the promises of the Redeemer. There were times of despair, when the victim could only sob and breathe in a way that seemed to tear his throat. There were times of rage, when he invoked curses upon his persecutors, and called upon God to witness His servant standing by as a passive accessory to his being flayed alive. There were times of horror when a lustful appetite inflamed the minds of the on-lookers to urge the floggers to even greater exertions. And, through it all, the Rev. John was conscious of a pleasurable excitement and a satisfied craving which acted upon him like a tonic, and made the blood tingle in his veins.
Reaction followed, and in the quiet of his library at the Rectory, after witnessing the afternoon's inquisition, the "flogging parson" closed and locked the door, and drew the blinds across the window to shut out the beauty of the garden, and the scent of the flowers.
Towards the centre of Port Jackson, and on its southern bank, in the year 1801, rose Sydney Town, the capital of the County of Cumberland, and of all the English Colonies in this part of the world. "To the right, and at the north point of Sydney Cove," says a writer of the time, in giving a description of this infant town, "you perceive the Signal Battery, which is built upon a rock difficult of access. Six pieces of cannon, protected by a turf embankment, cross their fire with that of another battery, and thus defend, in the most effectual manner, the approach to the harbor and the town; further on appear the large buildings which form the Hospital, and which are capable of containing two or three hundred sick."
"On the same side of the town, at the sea shore, there is a very fine magazine, to which the largest ships can come up and discharge their cargoes. In the same direction are several private docks, in which are built brigs and cutters of different sizes, for the purpose of trading, either inland or beyond the colony. These vessels, which are from fifty to three hundred tons burden, are built entirely with the native wood; even their masts are obtained from the forests of the Colony.
"Beyond the Hospital, in the same line, is the prison, capable of holding from one hundred and fifty to two hundred prisoners. It is surrounded by a high and strong wall, and has a numerous guard on duty both by day and night. A short distance from the prison is the storehouse. In front of it is the armory, where the garrison is drawn up every morning, accompanied by a numerous and well composed band belonging to the New South Wales Regiment. The whole western part of this spot is occupied by the house of the Governor-General, behind which is a vast garden. The Barracks occupy considerable space, and have, in front, several field pieces. The quarters for the accommodation of the officers are at each end of the building, and the powder magazine is in the middle.
"Near to the Barracks is a club, where the principal civil and military officers assemble, and in which there are several amusements, but particularly billiards, at which any of the members may play free of expense.
"Behind the armory is a large square tower which serves for an observatory to those English officers who study astronomy, and, at the base of this tower, the foundations of a church have been laid of which the tower just mentioned is intended to form the steeple. While waiting, however, for the erection of this church, divine service is performed in one of the apartments of the great corn magazine. Two fine windmills terminate on this side the series of principal public edifices. Over the rivulet, that intersects the town, there is a wooden bridge, which, together with a strong causeway, may be said to occupy all the valley between the two hills upon which the town stands."
Such was Sydney Town when Richard Hale and his wife settled there in 1801.
Although a State prisoner, and a man of superior attainments, Richard Hale was, nevertheless, by his situation, debarred from association, on an equal footing, with the free inhabitants who formed the social circle of the small community, and it was, therefore, not surprising that he should seek the society of those who, like himself, had been transported for political offences; notable among whom were those known as the "Scotch Martyrs," Messrs. Gerald, Muir, Palmer, Margarot, and Skirving. These gentlemen were transported to Sydney in the year 1794, and their crime was inciting certain citizens in Edinburgh to present a petition to the Crown for universal suffrage.
Numerous societies were at the time formed having this object in view, and of one of them, called the "Friends of the People," the "Scotch Martyrs" became members.
The "Friends of the People" held meetings in various pieces, and although such meetings, in themselves, were harmless enough, it happened that language less guarded than the times demanded was often used. "We are oppressed with taxes." "Universal suffrage and annual Parliaments are the only means to enable the people to govern." "No man has a right to acquire land in fee simple from the State." "Those who have no votes in the election of representatives are not free." All of which was regarded as very terrible treason in the year 1793, at the time of the French Revolution.
The Scotch Martyrs were arrested, and accused of having, by speeches, publications, and acts, incited the citizens to sedition, and at the trial all sorts of witnesses gave evidence as to the unguarded language used at the meetings of the "Friends of the People," the gravest attention being paid to their trumpery.
A servant lass was complimented by the Court upon her honesty when she said she had heard Muir recommend a companion to buy Paine's "Rights of Man," while another witness alleged that at one of the meetings it was stated that members of Parliament should have forty shillings a day, and none but honest men sit in the Legislature; and a third was permitted to aver, in proof of Margarot's hatred of the Government, that he had termed the Irish Catholics "men taxed without being represented, bound by laws to which they gave no consent; and practically dead in their native land."
The High Court found the "panel" guilty, with one voice, and the "Scotch Martyrs" were sentenced to transportation beyond the seas for fourteen years, under penalty of death should they return before the expiration of that time.
The only place of transportation beyond the seas, which was at the disposal of Great Britain in 1794, was the six-year-old settlement known as Botany Bay, and thither these unfortunate gentlemen were conveyed by the transport Surprise, Patrick Campbell, master, in April, 1794.
After a long voyage, during which they appear to have been most cruelly treated, these five victims of bigotry and fear arrived in Sydney, where Governor Hunter extended his protection to the exiles, and gave them permission to cultivate land, and employ their capital in hiring labor.
Gerald, whose health had been broken by continued confinement in a close cell in Newgate, and which the severity of his treatment on the voyage out did not improve, died soon after his arrival, and he was buried in Farm Cove upon the shores of what are now the Botanic Gardens.
Skirving, always a delicate man, did not long survive him, and Muir escaped in the sloop Otter, sent for him from America by General Washington, then in the seventh year of his Presidency. The Otter anchored in Port Jackson in January, 1796, and after about a fortnight the captain succeeded in getting speech with his man. There was no time to lose if escape was meant. The Otter had put in presumedly for water, and folks wondered why she stayed so long. After his interview with the captain, Muir went home, wrote a letter of thanks to Governor Hunter, and embarked under cover of the night in the friendly vessel. After many adventures, including the shipwreck of the Otter, Muir was invited by the Directory to make his home in France as "one of the friends of Liberty." His entrance into France was a kind of triumph. At Bordeaux he was entertained at a banquet of 500 citizens, at which the Mayor of the town presided. His health was drunk with enthusiasm; and, supported in the arms of the American Consul, he attempted to return thanks, but fainted. On the 4th of February, 1799, he reached Paris, but despite the most devoted care and attention died at Chantilly on the 27th of September, and was buried by the French Nation with every mark of respect.
Palmer lived quietly enough in Sydney until the year 1799, when he began to make preparations for his homeward voyage, during which he was shipwrecked, and fell into the hands of the Spanish Governor at Guam, who treated him kindly, until, through illness brought on by exposure, he met his death in 1802, two years after his sentence expired.
It will thus be seen that Morris Margarot was the only survivor of the "Scotch Martyrs" in Sydney at the time when Richard Hale took up his residence there.
Having much in common, and being equally the victims of unjust banishment from their homes, it was but natural that Hale and Margarot should find an attraction in each other's society, although, if Hale had foreseen the trouble into which his intimacy was to involve him, it is probable he would have acted with greater prudence.
On one occasion, when Hale had been spending a few days as the guest of Morris Margarot, Captain Johnston asked him "If he knew where he had been lodging?"
"All I know is," replied Hale, "that Mr. Margarot received me kindly and hospitably, and I am much obliged to him."
"Well, sir," said Captain Johnston, "you have been lodging in the most seditious house in the Colony."
And Hale was too soon to discover the complications with the Government into which his friendship with Margarot was destined to lead him.
"On my arrival in Sydney," continues Hale, "I found it impossible to close my eyes to the fact that much discontent prevailed among the inhabitants, soldiers as well as civilians. It was the custom, at this time, to pay the soldiers only in goods, for every ten shillings' worth of which, according to the value they were delivered at out of the store, the soldiers paid twenty, and, if they objected to this mode of payment, they were most probably sent to the guardhouse, and ordered to be flogged or imprisoned. Captain Anthony Fenn, when a soldier came to him for his month's pay, would usually accost him with, 'Well, what do you want?'
"'I want to be paid, sir,' the soldier would say.
"'What will you have?' was always Captain Fenn's answer. 'I have very good tobacco, ten shillings the pound, and good tea at twenty shillings the pound, prints at eight shillings a yard,' and so on.
"If the soldier answered, 'Sir, I do not want any of your goods,' the Captain's comment would be, 'You don't! you saucy rascal. What do you mean?'
"Perhaps then the soldier would say. 'Sir, if you please give me half money and half goods.' But this proposal was equally objectionable to Captain Fenn, and generally led to his thundering out, 'Begone, you mutinous scoundrel, or I'll send you to the guardhouse and have you flogged for impertinence to your officer.'
"The soldier having no redress, would take his monthly pay in property which he did not want, and then he would endeavor to dispose of what he had received to some person who had money, generally selling it for less than half the price he was charged by the Captain. This system of monopoly and extortion compelled the soldier to serve his Majesty for half his nominal pay.
"In such circumstances, it was scarcely to be wondered at that there were those who thought that, with little persuasion, the soldiers might be induced to mutiny, and, therefore, any expression of discontent, on the part of anyone, was magnified by the authorities into a conspiracy to overthrow the Government, and seize upon the Colony.
"One day, to my great consternation, I was suddenly arrested, and brought before Judge Atkins. I requested his Worship to inform me of the cause of my being made prisoner, as I was totally ignorant of having incurred the displeasure of anyone. He answered me like on infuriated savage, roaring out like a wolf that he would soon let me know.
"'You thought to murder me!' cried he, with an oath, 'but I will soon see you hanged.'
"I answered that I knew not to what he alluded, and, being innocent of offence, I could laugh to scorn his threats.
"After some time, it was found that a rascal had made up a false accusation against me. His examination convinced even the Judge of my innocence, and the atrocious lies which the wretch had fabricated. I was immediately liberated, and all things looked smooth again, but old Judge Atkins and I were never good friends afterwards.
"I now approach a period of my life which I consider the most unfortunate in the whole of my career. The prisoners, both English and Irish, seeing their torments increased in this most ill-managed country, conceived the opinion that they could overthrow the army, possess themselves of the settlement, and eventually make their escape from it. Where they were to go to did not enter into the contemplation of these poor fellows, who fancied, at all events, they could not be worse off than they were already.
"Some of these misguided men hinted to me that they thought such a scheme might be carried out, but I urged upon them, in the strongest language I was master of, the folly of such an attempt.
"'You saw,' said I, 'in Ireland, that even there you could not depend upon each other, and I am sure it would be worse here. An insurrection will only add to your misery, and bring you to the gallows.'
"I did hope that this advice would have the desired effect, but the foolish people had set their minds upon the mad enterprise, and were determined to proceed, cost what it might. I had, at this time, saved about five hundred pounds, and, having so much to lose, it was not for me to interfere. But well I knew the trickery of men, and what reliance can be placed on outlaws and rebels, who, if they once succeed in a project, get out of all discipline, and, if defeated, surely betray their leaders.
"I know not how it was that suspicion fell upon me for being concerned in this plot, but informers and false swearers were numerous in the Colony at this time, and to one of this infamous class I attributed my subsequent misfortune.
"Lieutenant-Governor King sent for me, and asked me when I had last seen James Grice, one of the ringleaders of the conspiracy who had been betrayed by his associates.
"I answered that I had seen him about a month since, when I had met him in the street at Parramatta, but that I had not spoken to him, since I had discharged him some time previously from the Brush Farm.
"'You have seen him, you villain,' said the Lieutenant-Governor.
"'I have not, sir,' was my reply; 'I would not speak to him if I met him ten times a day.'
"The Lieutenant-Governor persisted that I had seen him, and was in league with him, and so despotic was his wrong-headed passion, that he neither regarded law nor justice. In his blind inveteracy against me, he ordered me to gaol, where, once more, I was received by Daniel McKay, the gaoler, who put me into 'my old sitting-room,' as he called the cell, locked the door, and placed two men to watch as sentries over me.
"I remained in confinement all that day, and the next, when I was ordered to prepare for an examination, and taken before Judge Atkins.
"My trial was a mere farce, as nothing could be proved against me, but so indignant was I at the manner of my treatment that I could not forbear from addressing the jury, composed of military officers, in the following terms:—'Gentlemen,' said I, 'I am sorry to find myself so much mistaken. I thought that I lived in one of his Majesty's Possessions, where the well-founded and glorious law of England would be allowed to flow in its full and free course of impartiality, sweeping away, by the strength of its tide, all the impurities of our nature; but, instead of this, I see the current of justice impeded by hatred and malice, and overshadowed by a dark design against my life. I only wish for a manlike trial, and I desire only British law.'
"The Judge here interrupted me, and said, 'Take him away; he knows more law than all this Court.'
"I answered, 'I have forgotten more law that I believe you ever knew.' And so the matter ended, and I was sent to gaol again.
"I remained in gaol for some weeks without further trial, when I heard that I was to be sent to Norfolk Island.
"It would have been far more merciful, in those days, to have hanged all who violated the laws of their country than to have sent them out to New South Wales and its dependencies, subject to the unmerciful treatment of human tigers, who tortured or killed those within their power, according to the caprice of the moment. I saw many a fine man die in misery, inch by inch, from the oppression he experienced, the most cruel of all deaths.
"When my wife heard that I was to be sent to Norfolk Island, without trial, she went to ask his Excellency what I had done.
"His Excellency said if I had done nothing, I knew what was going on, and would not come in and tell.
"This answer completely overcame my poor wife; she knew that the Governor possessed the power of sending anyone to Norfolk Island, a place of horrid banishment and cruel treatment, and she felt that I would be separated from her, and exposed to hard usage.
"Falling on her knees she exclaimed: 'It was a sin and a shame to transport a man upon a charge which could not be proved against him on a fair trial,' and, in the bitterness of her heart, she added. 'May God requite you as you deserve. He will be with you when you may one day ask mercy yourself.'"
At Parramatta, the convict, who had been flogged on the day of Muriel's arrival, had once more effected his escape from prison, and, this time, he had taken to the bush. Here he roamed at large, a terror to the neighborhood, for he was known to be a desperate character, who had sworn to have the life of the "flogging parson" in revenge for having ordered him such cruel punishment.
To do him justice, the Rev. John showed no fear of this miscreant, and, although cautioned by the authorities, he would make no difference in his ordinary mode of life, but drove about the country to his farm, or elsewhere, as usual.
It would appear, from the accounts given of him, that the Rev. Jonathan Carden was a man of dual character. In his religious and domestic associations he was an able pastor, a kind and generous friend, and more than one free settler, in poor circumstances, had cause to bless his name; but for those who had broken the law, human and divine, he made no excuse, and towards them he showed no mercy. "Recompense to no man evil for evil," was a text which he had never taken to heart, and rather did the old Mosaic law appeal to him of "Eye for eye, and life for life." Scrupulous to a degree which had earned for him the title of "Honest John Carden," he seemed unable to understand, or to make allowance for, dishonesty in others, and the lash, and the solitary cell, appeared to him but the just requital for an evil disposition.
The escaped convict, who had now become known and feared throughout the district as "One-eyed Murphy," seemed to bear a charmed life. He had been seen, and fired upon, by constables and soldiers, but had, so far, escaped uninjured. How he lived was a mystery, for every kind of food was at the time scarce, and, therefore, jealously guarded; but, like the wild beasts of the woods, he managed to subsist upon what Nature provided, and soon became as savage as any ape-man of olden times.
All kinds of stories were told about "One-eyed Murphy"; of how he had been seen climbing rocks and trees, armed with a club, and living the life of a veritable wild man; and these reports did not tend to lessen the dread with which he was regarded.
Captain Piper's soldiers had scoured the bush in every direction in a vain attempt to capture or kill the fugitive, but, with remarkable cunning and daring, "One-eyed Murphy" had always evaded them. Once only could he have been slain or maimed, and that was by the Rev. John when he had met him alone, face to face, on the high road to Sydney. The Rev. John had his pistols with him, but, such a strange contradiction was the temperament of this remarkable man, that he would not fire except in self-defence. Unable to leave his horses, for he was driving himself, he could not effect a capture, and, when he had sternly bade the wild man to stand from his path, "One-eyed Murphy" had slunk away from the steady fearless look in the parson's eyes and had disappeared into the bush.
In relating this adventure to Captain Piper, on his return to Parramatta, the Rev. John had regretted having no one with him as, in that case, he felt sure he could have effected a capture.
"But why did you not disable him?" inquired the Captain. "He is a menace to the neighborhood, and there is no knowing what harm he may do so long as he remains at large."
But to this the Rev. John had answered:
"I would not fire upon an unarmed man, except in self-defence, and even then I doubt if I would do so."
Thus it happened that, through the forbearance of the "flogging parson," "One-eyed Murphy" was allowed to remain at large, although, if he had been captured, the Rev. John would not have hesitated to order him a thousand lashes.
One night Muriel had been startled by a face at her window, which she recognised as that of the man she had seen in custody on the day of her arrival at Parramatta. He looked more savage, and his hair and beard were longer than they had been when she had first seen him, but she knew him at once, so forcible had been the impression he had made upon her.
Overcome with terror, Muriel cried for help, and the wild man had leered at her, and laughed, and then had suddenly disappeared into the blackness of the night.
When assistance arrived and lights were lit, a thorough search was made, but no sign of the unwelcome visitor could be found, nor were there any foot-prints beneath the window to indicate the presence of anyone having passed over the flower-beds, or climbed upon the wall, but the leaves on the bough of a tree close to the window appeared to have been disturbed, although, to have reached this place of vantage, without a ladder, would have entailed a leap beyond the ability of most men.
Some were inclined to believe that the apparition was the result of Muriel's fancy, and, when the poor girl had recovered from the state of nervous prostration which the shock had occasioned, the theory was generally believed; but Muriel was confident, in her own mind, that what she had seen was no delusion, and that she had been face to face with "One-eyed Murphy."
"I was put in gaol immediately on my arrival at Norfolk Island," continues Richard Hale, "although I had the act of my emancipation. But what was the use of any legal right or document where there was no court or authority to redress grievances? If the commandant was disposed to hang, or otherwise put to death, anyone without trial, he could do so, as he did when he took two men out of church, one Sunday, put them into a cell, and two hours afterwards had them hanged, without any trial, a practice contrary to the laws of England, and, I am confident, to wish of our gracious King, who is ever more merciful than the laws are just.
"The day after landing, I was ordered to labor, which, being a lawful free man, I at first refused to do. My fellow prisoners, however, advised me to submit, as any excuse to flog or hang a man was eagerly laid hold of by the Commandant, a cruel tyrant, who was hated and feared by the wretched beings whose lives were at his disposal. I had heard of this Commandant a long time, and I had seen him in Sydney, so, upon consideration, I took the good advice given me (particularly as I was told he was shortly to be sent to England to answer for his various misdeeds), and joined the working gang.
"At first I offered to pay a man for doing my work, but was told this would not be allowed. I must work myself, and in consequence of this offer, and my wearing good clothes, the dirtiest work was assigned to my share; and I was locked up every night with the worst criminals, and treated with the utmost severity. Two hours before day, in winter, every man was made to get up, and tie up his bed, which he had to carry out into the gaol yard, and there it remained until night, whether it rained or not.
"We were then marched before the door of Robert Jones, who was the head gaoler or superintendent of convicts, when the overseers, Chandler and McGuire, would proceed, with their respective gangs, to where they were directed, and a task would be given to each man.
"It was often the case that men would work very hard to get their task done early in the day, so that they might have some time to work for themselves, in order to earn some provisions, as what was allowed was not sufficient to support them, five pounds of flour being the allowance for seven days, to live and work upon.
"When, upon these occasions, the convicts were returning from the public labor earlier than usual, they have frequently been turned back to launch a boat, or to do some other extra work, and kept at it until ten o'clock at night, without having, during the entire day, tasted a morsel of food. I have myself, with them, experienced this treatment, and have been sent back to gaol with the gang, wet from head to foot, in which condition we have been turned in, and reckoned like a flock of sheep, without time being allowed us to prepare our food.
"The next morning, when the bell rang at five o'clock, the order for everyone to get up was given in these words, 'Turn out, you scoundrels.' We had then to look for our wet rags; and if the slightest grumbling escaped the lips of anyone, the order was, 'To the triangles,' where the flogger was ready to give the unfortunate wretch twenty-five lashes on his bare back, after receiving which he had to go to work as usual.
"I ask whether hanging or shooting, which puts a man out of his misery at once, is not infinitely preferable to this kind of treatment: hard labor, want of sufficient food, the protracted endurance of wet, cold, and hunger, and if a word, or even a breath of complaint reaches the ears of your cruel task-masters, the flesh is cut from your back, and you are worked with double severity.
"I think that the usage I have seen men receive at Norfolk Island exceeds in cruelty anything that can be credited. There was, in particular, one poor young lad named Michael Clancy, from the County of Cork; he was compelled to walk about and work with a chain weighing twelve pounds on his leg, and while suffering from a painful illness was driven up to his middle, in the sea, and obliged to bring heavy packages ashore. He soon became too weak for work, and, too late, had his irons knocked off; Clancy died in a few days after, and I hope he obtained forgiveness for his crimes, whatever they may have been, and mercy in Heaven, for no clemency was extended to him at Norfolk Island.
"During the time I was associated with the prisoners I was kept at the heaviest work, and at last, between fasting and hard labor, I fell ill. The doctor ordered some medicine for me, and himself went to the Commandant and told him that he believed he was acting beyond his powers, and that if I died from the effects of labor, and from want of proper food, he would feel it to be his duty to make a notation accordingly.
"The Commandant replied, in a grim manner, so the doctor told me, 'Then we'll exempt him'; so I was sent to my unhappy lodging, and was told to do no more work until directed.
"I was fourteen weeks and two days in torture from my landing on Norfolk Island, and continued to labor at intervals, until the Commandant gave up the reins of government to Captain John Piper.
"The Commandant had no sooner left the shore in the boat to proceed to the ship that was to convey him away than the new Commandant, Captain Piper, came to me in the gaol. He took me by the hand, and told me that he had lost not a moment in releasing me. 'You will consider yourself,' said he, 'at perfect liberty to proceed to any part of the island you please, and anything that I can do to make your residence comfortable shall be done.' I thanked Captain Piper for his kindness, and took a lodging from George Grey, who was the attendant upon the doctor at the dispensary.
"I remained at Norfolk Island, in unjust banishment from wife, home, and friends, for nearly two years, when the Governor, reflecting on his conduct towards me, forwarded orders to Captain Piper to send me back to Sydney."
When Muriel had been twelve months an inmate of her uncle's house at Parramatta, she made up her mind to seek a home elsewhere.
It was impossible for anyone, living at Parramatta at this time, except perhaps Mrs. Carden herself, to remain in ignorance of the cruel punishments that were daily inflicted upon the wretched convicts by order of the magistrates, of whom the Rev. John was the chief; and Muriel was unable to understand how her uncle, as a minister of the Gospel, could not only sanction such severity, but himself be a party to it.
There was, of course, no public press at the time to keep a watchful eye on illegal abuses, but news was nevertheless circulated, and Muriel was horrified to learn what was taking place, particularly after the supposed conspiracy against the Government had been unearthed, for the alleged complicity in which Richard Hale had been illegally transported to Norfolk Island.
A few authentic instances of the barbarous treatment meted out to the unfortunate prisoners of the Crown will suffice to show the power possessed by the magistrates, at that time, and the manner in which they exercised it:—
Extract from Reports of proceedings at the Court House, Parramatta, obtained some years after by Governor Macquarie.
"Henry Baxter to receive 25 lashes every morning until he would tell
where the property he was charged with stealing was concealed. The
flogger (Walton) reported that no surgeon attended, and that the man's
back was so lacerated he was afraid he would die under the punishment
if continued; he further reported that he had inflicted upon Baxter
lashes for five mornings, successively, beginning on Monday, that on
the sixth morning, being Saturday, he was ordered to flog him again,
when, prompted by humanity, he kept out of the way all day. On Monday
he was ordered to punish him again, which he did, the man still
protesting in his innocence, and that he knew nothing of the property.
On Tuesday he was ordered to flog him again, which he refused to do,
as he considered the man in a dying state, and, on the matter being
referred to the doctor, further punishment was discontinued.
"John Allen, stealing in a dwelling-house to the value of 40s. to be publicly whipped 100 lashes, confined in a solitary cell at Parramatta on bread and water for six months, and afterwards hard labor at Newcastle for three years.
"John Hale, Robert Hilton, and Peter Allen, killing a bullock with intent to steal the carcase, solitary confinement on bread and water for three years in Parramatta Gaol, afterwards two years' labor in gaol-gang there, and afterwards transported for life to Norfolk Island.
"Elizabeth Bayley, charged with refusing to work. Sentence—to be confined on bread and water for two months, no mitigation.
"William Nicholson, charged with stealing a duck. Sentence, to receive 85 lashes, and confined three months in gaol, no mitigation.
"Robert Scott, 18, charged with absence from his master's farm, this being the second time. Sentence, 50 lashes, and to work six months in gaol-gang, no mitigation.
"Ann Keenan, brought forward for refusing to go to service when ordered. Sentence, to be transported to Newcastle to hard labor for two years.
"The prisoner Murphy is sentenced to received 25 lashes every morning until he gives up the remainder of the property, being duly convicted of larceny.
"George Humber, being a notorious disorderly character, having been punished only a fortnight before, is again brought forward for similar misconduct, and sentenced to receive 100 lashes.
"For being absent from his master's service without leave, the prisoner Foran, aged 19, to receive 200 lashes, to be confined one week on bread and water, and then sent back to his master."
When the Rev. Jonathan Carden was told of Muriel's intended departure, he offered no opposition. His wife, Marion, good-hearted, simple-minded woman that she was, had been inclined to be tearful at the thought of parting with her niece; but a word from her husband had convinced her of the wisdom of the proposed change.
"Muriel has so long been her own mistress since her mother's death," said he, "that she will be more contented in a home of her own. She has her income, and will no doubt find friends in Sydney."
"She proposes to make a home, for the present, with poor Mrs. Hale," replied Mrs. Carden, "Muriel says, and I must say I agree with her, it is a shame that Mr. Hale mined to let the Sydney people know what she thinks about it."
"I would not have chosen Mrs. Hale myself as a companion for Muriel," answered the Rev. John, stiffly; "but in this, as in all else, Muriel must be the best judge. She is nearly of age now, and quite capable of managing her own affairs."
So Muriel found that no obstacles were placed in the way of her leaving the Rectory. She was glad of this, for she did not wish to quarrel with her uncle, although she felt an unspeakable relief in quitting the shelter of his roof. Mrs. Hale received her with every mark of affection. In the loneliness of her life, and the natural indignation which she felt against the Government for having treated her husband so unjustly, she found in the companionship of this young English girl some consolation in her misfortune, and Muriel, sympathising with her as she did for the injustice she and her husband had suffered at the hands of the authorities, treated her more as a sister than as a friend.
Mrs. Hale occupied, at this time, a comfortable house on the western side of Sydney Cove. She possessed some means of her own, and her husband had prospered financially since his arrival in the Colony, so that, with Muriel's income, the two ladies found themselves, so far as money was concerned, in comfortable circumstances.
Among the visitors to the "Briars," the name given by Mrs. Hale to her new home, was James Rutherford, a young civilian who had come to this new world to seek his fortune. Unlike most other young men in the Colony of his age and condition, James Rutherford was not the holder of the King's Commission in the army, nor of any office under the Government, and it was for this reason perhaps that he found it easier to become an intimate at the "Briars" than would otherwise have been the case when such a rigid line was drawn between the free settlers and the transports, whether for political or other offences, however trivial. But James Rutherford possessed an independent spirit that refused to be influenced by class prejudice, and in Mrs. Hale he was glad to find, as a friend, a well-educated and talented lady such as was seldom to be met with among the early settlers at Sydney Cove.
Towards Muriel, it was evident that James Rutherford indulged in hopes beyond mere friendship, and, although no words of love as yet had been exchanged, Mrs. Hale predicted a time, not far distant, when the young people would become engaged.
Such was the domestic life at the "Briars," when a message came to Mrs. Hale from Lieutenant-Governor King, in answer to her never-ceasing importunities, that, in view of further investigation, her husband would, at an early date, be released from his banishment at Norfolk Island.
"I never had one moment's peace of mind at Norfolk Island," says Richard Hale, in continuation of his narrative; "and I was rejoiced, beyond measure, at the prospect of leaving it. The ship Neptune had arrived to convey some of the free settlers from the island with their stock, and there were orders for me to go in this ship.
"When I had taken leave of Captain Piper, I went to the place of embarkation, and entered a boat belonging to the Neptune, commanded by one Captain Dodson. This Dodson was a man of repulsive countenance and low, coarse manners; the savage was marked on his features. He was of short stature, not much above five feet five, broad shoulders, bandy legs, but very athletic form; he had much hard weather in his face, looked as rough and bluff as any 'sea dog' of his time, and was just the reverse of a man delicately brought up. In general he squinted horribly, and his voice was so deep and hollow that he had seldom any reason to use a speaking trumpet. He wore what is called at sea a pea-jacket, a coarse blue coat which came down to his heels, and a hat covered with tarred canvas. Such was the savage who received me on deck, without even a civil look, which perhaps he was unable to bestow on anyone. I said nothing to him, but I began to reflect that nine or ten weeks at the mercy of this monster would be a purgatory equal to any which could be fancied for the most atrocious sinners, and I inwardly hoped for strength to bear it.
"We sailed that night, with a very strong breeze, which, continued for several days, but we did not make Storm Bay, at Van Diemen's Land, for twenty-two days. We were once very near being wrecked upon the rocks, as our ship refused her helm in a gale on a lee shore, but we bore out, and dropped anchor, got down our yards, and mended some of the rigging.
"The next day the storm moderated, and, weighing our anchor, we soon came alongside of Betsy Island, but, coming in the mouth of the Derwent River, the land breeze sprung up, and then, with all hands to the capstan-bars, the anchor was soon up, and, crowding on all sail, about four o'clock in the evening, we dropped anchor so close to land that a biscuit might have been chucked from the ship ashore.
"I remained on the ship that night, and next morning I went on shore to pay my respects to Governor Collins, who received me very kindly, and told me he was sorry to hear of the severe conduct of Governor King towards me. He said that he was in possession of the history of the whole transaction, and he also said that the Commandant's treatment of me at Norfolk Island, before the arrival of Captain Piper, was unpardonable, and ought to subject him to trial.
"I remarked to his Excellency that if the storm which produced misfortune was a thousand miles off from the place where I stood in the sunshine, it was sure, by some sudden shift of the wind, to burst over my head; and to strike me down to the earth with its lightning.'
"His Excellency said, 'You have a just right to say so, considering the treatment you have received.'
"Governor Collins proposed to me to come and live with him, and he offered to make me superintendent over the Government stock and cultivation, promising, at the same time, to give me as much land as I desired, besides a town grant, and every encouragement that a man could expect.
"I told his Excellency, however, that I owned a good deal of horned cattle and stock in New South Wales, and that it would be troublesome for me to remove it.
"My parting conversation with Governor Collins was in December, 1805. Leaving the town of Derwent, with all my goods in a boat, a storm arose as we were passing Betsy island, which obliged us to go ashore until the weather moderated, and we did not make Frederick Henry Bay until six o'clock in the evening. It lies twenty-four miles from the town. I got my little property safely on board, and on the 25th, being Christmas Day, I had many serious thoughts about my wife and home in Sydney.
"On leaving the Derwent we made the land of New Holland, and in due course dropped anchor in Sydney Cove. I went on shore immediately, and was not seen or recognised by anyone until I came to the garden before my own door.
"The unexpected sight or me completely overpowered my poor wife, and she swooned away. I ran forward, and took her up in my arms, when she fainted a second time. Pleasure and sorrow, however differently they may affect the heart, are alike overpowering to the human frame. Twenty-two months and two days had we been separated, which was a long time for a man and his wife, who had always lived in love and harmony together, to be parted. Miss Carden also gave me a warm welcome home. I was tired with the questions that were asked me, and I think we all passed that evening in talking about and in thinking of Norfolk Island.
"In the course of a few days, during which I satisfactorily arranged certain personal matters, his Excellency Governor King sent for me. I waited on him accordingly, and thanked him for allowing me to return home; and I have this proud consolation that he told me, with his own lips, he was sorry I had been unjustly punished.
"Governor King was further pleased to say that he would hereafter be my friend.
"I replied that 'it was too late to offer physic to dead man,' nor could I restrain myself from making impertinent answers to his Excellency.
"The Governor heard my account of how I was treated, and then told me he never gave orders to put me to labor; and he concluded by saying, 'Go home, Mr. Hale, and beware of rocks and quicksands,' which latter words he repeated three times over, and then asked me if I knew what he meant?
"I told him, very coolly, that I could not be certain what he meant, but I believed what he intended to say was to warn me against the society of Mr. Margarot.
"He answered, 'Yes, I see you do know.' Upon which I bowed and departed.
"I now enjoyed a season of domestic felicity in my home in Sydney. My dear wife, and Miss Carden also, seemed determined to do all that lay in their power to make me forget the hardship and injustice I had suffered at the hands of the Government, and we all began to look forward to brighter days.
"In New South Wales, at this time, however, it seemed to be impossible to live at peace with one's neighbor, and in security from interference on the part of arrogant officials, who appeared to consider it a part of their duty to incite rebellion for the purpose of crushing it, and thus to show their power."
James Rutherford, before coming to the Colony, had been a law student at Edinburgh, when, by the death of his father, he had found himself deprived of the necessary means to continue his studies, so, with the little capital at his disposal, he had determined to emigrate to Australia, and seek his fortune in a new world.
Lawyers were scarce in Sydney Town, at the time, and with the permission of the Governor, who was all powerful in such matters, James had been allowed to practice his profession as though he had taken his final degree. True, he had not any great opportunity of exercising his forensic ability, for the Judge Advocate, who ruled at the Courthouse, was often judge and jury and prosecutor rolled into one, but such influence as James was able to bring to bear in certain cases be exercised for the benefit of those clients who employed him.
The return of Richard Hale to his home in Sydney probably hastened a declaration of those mutual feelings, which, since their first introduction to one another, had existed between James Rutherford and Muriel, and soon after Richard's home-coming the engagement was announced.
A wedding in Sydney, at that time, was an event, and quite a number of curious sight-seers collected before the room in which the ceremony was held, at one of the principal stores. There was no church in Sydney then, and the Rev. John had wished his niece to be married by him in his church at Parramatta; but Muriel preferred to be married in Sydney by the Rev. Mr. Johnson, who, accordingly, performed the ceremony.
Muriel had made many friends in Sydney, and, after the wedding, callers came to "Rookwood," the house which James Rutherford had built, and in which he and his newly-made bride looked to find a happy home.
Sydney, with its houses and gardens clustered round the Cove, had now assumed the dimensions of an important town, and the immigrants, who continued to arrive in increasing numbers, were surprised to see the progress that had been made in the new settlement.
The Rutherfords' house was close to the water's edge, and, on a summer's evening, when the work of the day was done, nothing pleased Muriel more than to pull out from the rocks at the end of the garden in a boat, with her husband, upon the placid waters of the quiet bay.
Everywhere around rose wooded hills, sloping down to the water, and the islands, which appeared upon the surface of the limpid plane, lent an added charm to the beauty of the scene.
On the hill at the back of Sydney a windmill turned lazily in the breeze, and the masts of the ships, discharging their cargoes at the magazine on the right of the Cove, made pencil marks against the green and violet tints of the sky. Other ships rode at anchor in the bay, the lights from which, as night fell, shone like the stars in the darkening canopy above. There was an air of peace and rest about the place; a remoteness from the busy world that required to be felt in order to be understood. If it had not been for the prison which loomed large among the smaller buildings, Sydney in 1804 might well have been regarded as an earthly paradise.
It was during these excursions upon the bay, of an evening, that James and Muriel would discuss the occurrence of their daily life, and speculate as to the future. James was already becoming known as an advocate, and Muriel's income was sufficient for their present needs, until the legal business increased, as it seemed certain it would do as time went on. Altogether, the prospects of the young couple were encouraging, and, endowed as they were with a plentiful share of healthy youth, life seemed to promise them a full measure of earthly blessings.
One evening Muriel was again startled by the apparition which had so terrified her, more than two years before, at the Rectory at Parramatta. James was out, dining with Mr. Judge Advocate Atkins, not because he wanted to dine from home, but because he thought it good policy not to decline the Judge's invitation, and Muriel was sitting up for him, in the parlor, awaiting his return.
It was near eleven o'clock, and the servants whom they kept, a married couple, both prisoners assigned to their service, had retired to their quarters at the back of the house.
Muriel was not inclined to be nervous, but in the silence of that lonely house she began to wish she had gone to Mrs. Hale's, as she had been asked to do, and stayed there until James should call for her after the Judges dinner. Suddenly she felt a chilling fear that made her tremble, and, involuntarily, she turned her eyes in the direction of the window that looked out over the bay.
The curtains were drawn, but it seemed to Muriel that something was moving outside in the streak of moonlight which appeared between them. Unable to bear the suspense, yet dreading what she might discover, Muriel drew aside the heavy curtains, and then a startled cry resounded through the house, which brought Anson, the manservant, and his wife, into the room, to find their mistress insensible upon the floor.
As they were recovering her from her swoon James returned, and Muriel, becoming hysterical, pointed towards the window, when it was seen that one of the curtains had been almost dragged down. A lantern was procured, and search made, but nothing was found, nor were there any traces of anyone having been outside. But Muriel, between her sobs, declared that, once again, she had beheld the face of "One-eyed Murphy."
Some time elapsed before Muriel recovered from the nervous shock which the second mysterious appearance of One-eyed Murphy, after so long an interval, had caused her. Mrs. Hale came to stay for few days, and Richard and James made every endeavour to discover the whereabouts of the escaped convict, but without success. It was many months since he had been heard of, and the authorities believed that he was dead so that, as on the previous occasion, the conclusion was come to that the convict's supposed appearance had been the result of an overwrought and disordered brain. Muriel was visited by the doctor who ordered rest and quiet, and in a little while the daily occurrences at "Rookwood" went back into their accustomed groove.
James Rutherford was experiencing a somewhat trying time at the Court of Judge Advocate Atkins, and also at the Magistrate's Courts, where the sentences imposed upon those who had the misfortune to be brought to the bar of so-called justice became a public scandal. The following record will show what a reign of terror prevailed:—
Some sentences passed by the Judge Advocate, and Magistrates of New South Wales, in 1804.
"Michael Hoare, John Gilchrist, Edward Doyle, and John White for
robbery, stealing watch and wearing apparel, 12 months' solitary
confinement in Parramatta gaol on bread and water, and then to be
transported to Newcastle for the term of their natural lives.
"Abraham Moses, for stealing three silver spoons, seven years' hard labor at Newcastle.
"Patrick Riley, and Simon Burne, stealing, seven years at Newcastle.
"Thomas Moody, and James Welsh, stealing in a dwelling house, transported for life to Newcastle.
"John Callaghan, for stealing from the person of D. De Silva, to be publicly whipped in the Market Place at Sydney.
"William Nash, for pig stealing, to be whipped at the cart's tail through the various streets of Sydney, then to be confined on bread and water 14 days, and afterwards kept to hard labor for 12 months.
"John Lewis, for counselling two prisoners to escape the Colony, to stand one hour in the pillory, then to be publicly whipped, and sent to Newcastle for two years."
The use of the pillory was brought to an end by an Act of Parliament, dated June 30th, 1837. As a mode of punishment it was so barbarous, and at the same time so indefinite in its severity, that it can only be wondered it should not have been swept away long before.
The pillory was for a considerable time employed as an engine of punishment. It stood in the Market Place in most principal towns, and was, for many years, common to all European countries. It consisted of a wooden frame erected on a stool, with holes and folding boards for the admission of the head and hands, and it was no uncommon circumstance for offenders to be killed on the pillory by the pelting to which they were subjected by the fury of the mob.
James Rutherford with the natural impetuosity of youth, could not conceal the indignation which he felt at the imposition of such barbarous punishments for such trivial offences, and he, one day, expressed himself in language which brought upon him the censure of the Court before which he was appearing as an advocate, together with a warning that a repetition of such conduct might cause his suspension from practice.
Depressed, and rendered miserable by the cruelty and injustice which he saw everywhere around him, Rutherford returned home after his reprimand with the intention of acquainting Muriel with what had occurred, and of suggesting to her that they should either quit the Colony, or that he should seek some other employment in which his self-respect would not be continually outraged by the debasing association of legal tribunals which bore more resemblance to a Spanish Inquisition than to British Courts of Law.
When James reached home he was surprised to find Muriel absent, for it was not usual for her to be out so late in the evening as the hour of his return, and as time went on and she did not appear he walked over to the "Briars" to enquire for her there. Mrs. Hale, however, had not seen Muriel since the morning, when she had visited her at "Rookwood" and she knew nothing of her present whereabouts.
Now thoroughly alarmed, James ran back to "Rookwood," where he found supper awaiting him, prepared by Mrs. Anson, who, however, could tell him nothing respecting Muriel, except that she thought she was with Mrs. Hale.
It was now almost dark, and Muriel was nowhere to be found.
"Having no desire to again risk my liberty," proceeds Richard Hale, "I determined to avoid, for the future, the society of those who might involve me in trouble with the Government, and resolved to devote myself, exclusively, to my own affairs; so I began to till my ground, to attend to my stock, and to collect in the debts that were due to me.
"One morning as I was walking in my orchard, a man came to my house, and enquiring for me my wife told him where he would find me. He asked me whether I would buy a couple of young heifers if I got them cheap? I told him that I had no objection; adding, 'Who is it that has got these heifers for sale?'
"He replied, 'Dick Troy has.'
"'Has Troy heifers to sell cheap?' said I.
"'Yes, sir,' answered the man, 'he can sell two every month.'
"'Has he any of his own?' said I.
"'No, sir,' said the man, 'but he is head of the Government stock-yard, and when a cow or two calves he need not return the calves.'
"I listened to the fellow, and thought there was some scheme in this which I could not fathom, for I had known the rascal for many years, and he has been under my care as a Government man at Brush Farm. His name was James Staines, and both he and Troy were from the County of Kildare. I made him no reply, and he went away.
"When I came in, my wife asked me what this man wanted?
"I told her, and she instantly said, 'My dear, depend upon it there is some plot to endeavour to get you hanged.'
"I replied, 'Never fear that, for I have determined to have nothing to do with the man or the bargain which he has offered me.'
"Subsequently both Staines and Troy were arrested, found guilty of stealing Government cattle, and executed.
"Robbery is a bad trade, for it generally ends by the gallows and is also the cause of leading others to the same end. I remember a man in New South Wales who, to my knowledge, had four hundred acres of land, one hundred head of cattle, several hundred sheep, and some of the best horses and mares in the Colony. I have seen his son ride his own mare, and win fifty guineas on the race-course of New South Wales.
"This foolish man bought a cow from the Government stock for twelve pounds, well knowing that he was trafficking in what was stolen. The beast was soon discovered by the brand of the broad arrow, and the man was apprehended, and committed to gaol. When he found out the person who was to be his prosecutor for buying this cow, he formed a plan for his son and brother to lay in wait for him, and shoot him. It would be too tedious to explain the manner in which it happened that the man upon whose life this design was formed came to be shot, but shot he was, and both of those who had taken part in the crime were hanged.
"The man, also, who bought the cow and possessed all the land and stock that I have mentioned, was hanged with them.
"Now, the disgraceful death of three men, and the murder of another, was caused by the desire of robbing the Government of four pounds, as the cow could have been bought, honestly, for sixteen pounds. At his shameful exit, the estate of this man to whom I refer was valued at nine thousand pounds, which escheated to the Crown. However, I am of opinion that a man born to be hanged must die by the gallows, at a particular minute. How, otherwise, indeed, could I have escaped the halter?
"And now my peace was further disturbed by the arrival at our house of young James Rutherford, with a story that his wife had mysteriously disappeared, and knowing them both as well as I did, I could do no less than offer my services in helping him find out what had become of her.
"On going with him to the house in which they resided, and reaching the apartments usually occupied by Mrs. Rutherford, the hat and shawl which lately she had been in the habit of wearing when going abroad, were found in their accustomed places, so that it deemed certain she had not left the premises of her own free will. Who then could have abducted her in so strange and mysterious manner without her being able to cry for help? unless,—and at this thought I became fearful,—her assailant, whoever it was, had struck her down, and carried her off, either dead or insensible.
"Rutherford, whose distraction it was pitiable to behold, informed me of the apparition which, on two occasions, Muriel declared she had seen of the escaped convict Murphy, and, knowing as I did the cunning sometimes displayed by these desperate men in the carrying out of any design upon which they have set their minds, I was driven to the conclusion that this miscreant must, in some way or other, have been concerned in the business.
"On making further search, it was discovered that the boat belonging to the Rutherfords had been taken from her moorings, and on the landing stage, which James had built for his convenience in getting into and out of the boat, were the marks of naked feet, which my practised eye informed me had been made by a lame man in walking to and fro upon the boards.
"This further convinced me that Murphy was in some way concerned in this mysterious affair."
In a rock cavern, upon one of the hills on the North Shore of Sydney Harbor, Muriel Rutherford crouched in terror before the gaunt figure who had brought her there, and stood guard over her with a seeming relish in the task he had set himself.
With wonderful cunning and patience the escaped convict Murphy must have lurked about the grounds at "Rookwood" until the dusk of the afternoon when Muriel had started towards the gate to see if her husband was returning along the road, when he had suddenly appeared before her. Taking advantage of the terror which the sight of him occasioned, and which, for the moment, deprived her of the power to cry for help, he had seized her in his powerful arms, and carried her to the boat in which he had placed her, in a fainting condition, and brought her away. Of the details of her abduction Muriel herself was unaware, for, on regaining consciousness, she had found herself in the this rock-bound prison, with her captor watching her with an expression of malignant satisfaction.
"So I've got ye at last," he said, at length, with a hoarse chuckle, "alone, and all to myself, to do as I like with in this place, where, seek as they may, they'll never find ye."
"Why have you brought me here?" answered Muriel. "I have never injured you, nor sought to harm you."
"Why have I brought ye here?" repeated the convict. "I'll tell ye. I've brought ye here because you be the parson's child, that's why; and I've swore to have yer life. I swore it the first time I saw ye when ye drove off in yer kerridge, an' left me to be lashed in the streets."
"If you mean, by the parson, the Rev. Mr. Carden," replied Muriel, despair giving her courage to speak, "I am no child of his, nor did I know at the time of the cruel punishment to which you had been subjected. I have left my uncle's house now, and am married and happy in my own home. You are a man, and I doubt not an injured one," she continued, gently, "but you would not harm a defenceless girl, of that I am sure?"
"Would I not?" snarled Murphy. "You'll see. It's like you and your breed to think you can come the soft side over the likes of us with yer palaver, but I'll let yer know before I've done with yer what I've been made to suffer, and you shall taste a little of the same sauce which they used to say was good for me. You'll know what I mean presently," he continued, showing her a knife which he held in his hand, and which he bade her take notice of. "But first," he added, "you'll hear what I have to say, and then if you think I'm likely to show mercy you'll know me better than I know meself."
"I was fourteen when I first got into trouble, and before that I lived at Hulme. My father was dead, and my mother got her living by going out for to mind a child. Ever since my father died I went with bad lads. Who else had I to go with? The first time I went to gaol was for breaking a window, and taking things. I got a month for that, and when I came out I used to go stealing, and getting what I could. My mother used to tell me when I went with bad lads, 'Thou'lt get transported, be put in chains, and thou will suffer when its too late to repent.' But what was I to do? I had no home to go to, and used to sleep out, and was obliged to steal so as to get something ter eat. I've known boys who knew no father nor mother, and some who didn't know their names. If they'd had any friends to go to they wouldn't have always been in gaol. Well, for years I was chained, and shut up in dark cells, and whipped, and kept on bread and water for doin' what I had to do if I wanted for ter live, until I was sent out here for life. I lost an eye on the voyage through bein' knocked down by the captain with a marline spike for mutinous conduct, so he said, but he was drunk when he did it, and there was no doctor on board, so I had to get over it as best I could. Later on I was shot in the leg by a sentry when trying to get away, which lamed me as you see me now. But even then I had some spirit left until they lashed it out of me. I hadn't been a week in the Colony before I was given fifty lashes, and in another month I was given fifty more, after being kept fourteen days before the flogging in a solitary cell on bread and water. As soon as I got well I got away, and took to the bush, was captured, and given one hundred lashes, besides being ordered to work in irons. First chance I got I was off again, was caught, and given another hundred lashes. Since then it has been nothin' but trying to bolt, and getting caught, and bein' lashed, until the day I first met you, when I was taken into the public streets and lashed again worse than before. That day I swore to pay back some of what the parson had give me, so at last I've got ye, d'ye see, and I'll send yer back to him marked in a way he won't like."
The savage raised his eyes as he thought to find his victim cowering at his feet, but at the recital Muriel had ceased to tremble, and her sympathetic nature was aroused. Instead of the shrinking girl he had expected to find, a woman stood before him, with pity instead of fear in the glance with which she regarded him.
"Poor fellow," was all she said, and, on the impulse of the moment, she laid her hand gently upon his arm.
The desperate convict stood for a moment as if turned to stone; and then some long forgotten thought must have stirred within him at the sound of kindly words, and the touch of a woman's hand. Dropping his knife, he raised his arms above his head as though trying to recall something he had lost, and then, pointing to where the boat lay moored to the rocks below, he signed to Muriel to go. As she passed him, with a grateful look, he bowed his head in his hands.
It was midnight before James Rutherford and Richard Hale, together with others who had received the news of Muriel's disappearance, were attracted by a boat coming across the bay from the North Shore of the harbor. In a fever of excitement James put off in another boat to meet it, and presently Muriel was safe in her husband's arms.
On hearing of her adventure a party of soldiers and constables at once set out to capture the desperado, but, on reaching the place which Muriel had described, it was found that one convict at least had escaped for ever from the lash, the chain, the prison, and the solitary cell. The knife, which he had intended for Muriel, he had passed through his own heart—"One-eyed Murphy" was dead.
The events which led to the arrest of Governor Bligh are related by Richard Hale as follows:—
"We now enjoyed a period of peace in our domestic circle, during which time I prospered exceedingly, and acquired a farm, where I soon raised a house, and built stock yards for the reception of my cattle.
"The Rutherfords, also, our firm friends, did extremely well, and James, having healed the breach which at one time had existed between him and Judge Advocate Atkins, now became a prominent pleader at the Bar.
"The Rev. Jonathan Carden, and Mrs. Carden, soon after Muriel's marriage, left on an extended visit to England, much to the satisfaction of the unfortunate prisoners at Parramatta, who hailed the departure of the 'flogging parson' with unconcealed delight.
"In 1806, Governor Bligh arrived in the colony with his daughter and his son-in-law, Captain Putland. The Governor was a Post Captain in the Royal Navy. Governor King therefore prepared for his departure, his time having expired.
"We had now a total change in our Government, and Captain Bligh, having received from the Duke of York instructions concerning the officers of the military detachment, ordered the soldiers to be paid in cash, so that the paymaster of the regiment, and the other officers, had now nothing to live upon but their pay.
"The English Government had also sent out various articles, which were placed in His Majesty's stores, and the settlers were paid for their produce in goods which they needed, and for which they were charged very little more than the market price in England.
"These reforms made the poor very happy, as they were now able to obtain goods of all kinds, at moderate prices, for the use of their families and workmen; the former practice being to draw from the stores all the goods in large quantities, and to pay the soldiers only in goods, for every ten-shillings worth of which, according to the value they were delivered at out of the store, the soldiers paid twenty; and if they objected to this mode of payment, they were most probably sent to the guard-house, tried by court-martial for mutiny, and sentenced to imprisonment.
"The new order of things, however, did not suit those who had formerly enjoyed monopolies in the disposal of such goods as the colonists required, and who had made extraordinary profits at the expense of the retail consumer.
"It has been said that, during Governor King's administration, the population of New South Wales consisted chiefly of 'those who sold rum and of those who drank it,' and as the general maxim of the colony, at that period, was 'make money honestly if you can, but by all means make it,' it may be readily supposed that the sellers of this article of universal consumption would include persons of all ranks and professions. Consequently, some of the military officers, and others, notably Mr. John McArthur, who found their profits curtailed by the new method of supplying goods to the settlers, entered into a league against the Government, and led Major Johnston to believe that Governor Bligh's intention was to ruin them all.
"The Governor, having directed the arrest of Mr. McArthur for disobedience to an order of the Judge Advocate, committed him to prison; upon which Major Johnston came from his own house, which was about two miles from the Sydney Barracks, and called all the soldiers to arms at the rear of the barracks.
"The Major then marched his regiment, numbering about 300 men, in battle array, down to the parade ground, and from thence proceeded, at their head, to Government House, where they arrived at nine o'clock at night.
"The Governor had been entertaining a party of friends at dinner, when they were disturbed by the arrival of the troops, with drum and fife playing a military march. The Governor and the Rev. Henry Fulton met Major Johnston in the hall, and asked him what he and the soldiers wanted. Fulton was at once made prisoner; upon seeing which Bligh became very much alarmed, being afraid that they would put him to death. He retired to one of the rooms, where he was subsequently discovered hiding behind a cot, when he was arrested, and placed in confinement.
"Next day Major Johnston issued the following:—
The public peace being happily, and I trust permanently, established, I
hereby proclaim the cessation of martial law. I have this day appointed
magistrates, and other public functionaries, from amongst the most
respectable officers and inhabitants.
In future no man shall have just cause to complain of violence, injustice, or oppression; no free man shall be taken, imprisoned, or deprived of his house, land, or liberty, but by law. Justice shall be impartially administered, without regard to or respect of persons, and every man shall enjoy the fruits of his industry in security.
'Soldiers, your conduct has endeared you to every well disposed inhabitant in this settlement. Persevere in the same honorable path, and you will establish the credit of the 'New South Wales Corps' on a basis not to be shaken.
GOD SAVE THE KING.
"This revolution put the colony onto considerable confusion. Major Johnston held the reins of Government for some time. He wrote to Colonel Patterson, the Lieutenant Governor, who was then at Port Dalrymple, requesting his return to Sydney to take the place of Governor Bligh; but the Colonel refused to come, stating that 'if they had begun a rebellion in Sydney they might end it among themselves.'
"Colonel Patterson subsequently made conditions with Governor Bligh to go on board his ship, and there to remain until orders should arrive from England. The Governor promised to do this, but, as soon as he got on board, he weighed anchor and sailed for the Derwent, where he assumed the command; writing from there to England that he had been deprived of his authority by a rebellion at Sydney, in which the whole of the military officers and soldiers were concerned.
"Upon the receipt of this alarming intelligence in London, a regiment was immediately embarked for Sydney."
"On the 28th of December, 1809," continues Richard Hale, "three ships hove in sight of Sydney—the Dromedary, the Indostan, and a store ship, which came up to the Cove with every preparation to fire a broadside if they saw the occasion. The account which had been sent to England by Governor Bligh represented the country in a state of insurrection, and accordingly Governor Macquarie thought that he and his battalion would have to fight their way.
"Two days after the arrival of the ships the troops began to disembark, and the 102nd Regiment fell in, under arms, to salute His Excellency. I waited to see the whole battalion land with the Governor; Ellis Bent, the new Judge Advocate; the Rev. Mr. Cowper, chaplain; and a full staff of officers.
"The old soldiers kept their ranks until all the 73rd Regiment, which came with Governor Macquarie, had passed by, and marched up to the parade ground. The Governor and his Lieutenant (Richard Charles O'Connell) then had their commissions read by the Judge Advocate before all the officers, soldiers, and inhabitants; after which ceremony the 73rd marched out of the town, and pitched their tents one mile and a half from the barracks.
"Order was soon restored, and great changes were made in the government of the colony. Comfort and happiness now began to appear in the countenances of all the inhabitants. Governor Macquarie lowered the price of food, and meat was sold in the open market. This was of great service to the poor, and injured no one but those who could bear it, and had too long enjoyed an unfair profit. His Excellency issued a proclamation directing everyone who had received a free pardon, or a grant of land, since the arrest of Governor Bligh, to deliver up such pardon, or grant, to the Secretary, Mr. John Thomas Campbell.
"This news did not please me much, as I had obtained both a pardon and a grant of land during the Administration of Major Johnston; but I did as directed and delivered them both up at the Governor's office; nor did I make any inquiries about them for a year afterwards. I then memorialised his Excellency on the subject, and I procured the recommendation of Captain Piper, which was to the following effect, 'That the long residence and good conduct of the memorialist deserved the favorable attention of Governor Macquarie.'
"The Governor then informed me that as my character was as had been represented to him, he would give me both my pardon and the grant which he had recalled, and he promised to make further inquiries about me.
"I assured his Excellency I felt satisfied the answers to every inquiry he was pleased to make about me would be an additional recommendation of me to his notice, and would fully confirm the statements before him. After this I retired, and heard no more on the subject until I received a note from the Secretary requesting me to call for my free pardon.
"On receiving my pardon, I went straight home, and sitting down, there and then drew out a notice of my stock and estates to be sold by private contract, and stated that 10 months' credit would be given on approved security. I then took this notice to Mr. Howe, the printer, and desired him to put it in the Weekly Gazette, which was done accordingly.
"The Governor was very much surprised when he saw this advertisement for the disposal of my stock, and remarked that 'it was much to be regretted that a man of my knowledge and experience in farming should leave the country.'
"But I had witnessed so much tyranny and oppression in the colony, and had been the victim of such unjust treatment during the long period of my residence, that I remained unshaken in my resolve to quit it. Yet I realised that I was leaving a land of wonderful possibilities; a land that would doubtless become the home of freedom, when despotism and tyranny should be swept away, and when free institutions should take the place of autocratic government.
"And so to 'Australia Felix,' happy land that was to be, I bade long farewell."
Copy letter from Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane to Chief Justice Forbes, mitigating sentence passed on Ann Duffy:—
"Government House, Sydney,
19th October, 1824.
It affords me much pleasure, in compliance with your recommendation of Ann Duffy, tried at the late Sessions of the Supreme Court, and sentenced to transportation for seven years for feloniously stealing three Spanish dollars, that the same should be mitigated to three years, and I shall give instructions accordingly.
I have the honor, etc.,
Chief Justice Forbes.
Seven years for stealing three Spanish dollars! and mitigated to three years! Such was the sentence passed upon Ann Duffy—an illiterate girl, in all probability, without even an elementary education, and one among hundreds similarly punished in those bad old days.
Ann Duffy was an assigned servant, and had been previously convicted of larceny in England, an offence which would now be dealt with by fine or imprisonment for a few weeks. But in 1824, for one of the uneducated class to commit the most paltry offence, meant transportation beyond the seas.
On first landing, the position of the female convicts was even worse than it had been on board the ship which brought them out and that, from all accounts, was bad enough. No lodgings were provided for them, and they were compelled to seek the "protection" of one of the officers, or others who offered to give them shelter.
The male convicts also, on ticket of leave, were allowed to marry, and the newly-arrived female convicts would be drawn up in ranks, for the inspection of ticket-of-leave men in want of wives. "This is the modus operandi," writes one of the early settlers on the subject of convict marriages: "The convict goes up and looks at the women, and if he sees one that takes his fancy, he makes a motion to her, and she steps on one side. Occasionally a woman has been known to refuse to 'stand out' having no wish for the married state, but that is a very rare occurrence. Then they have some conversation together, and if the woman is not agreeable, or if the convict does not like the tone of her conversation, she steps back, and the same ceremony goes on until the applicant is suited with a 'mate.' Being, at length, suited, however, the ticket-of-leave man knocks up a hut for himself and his newly-made wife, and the pair live together, and take their chances as to compatibility of temper."
Ann Duffy, however, appears not to have been married, but to have been assigned, as a servant, to her mistress who brought her to trial for the stealing of three Spanish dollars.
The factory at Parramatta, to which Ann Duffy was consigned, possessed some forbidding aspects. It was the seat of idleness, for the female convicts imprisoned there did little or no work, and the atmosphere was polluted by the fumes of tobacco smoked by the women, whilst the walls echoed with shrieks of passion, and peals of foolish laughter.
The severest form of punishment, to which the unruly members of this wretched sisterhood were subjected, was solitary confinement in the cells, with only bread and water diet, and having their heads shaved.
In some of the old Magistrate's Court's records appears the following sentence: "Seven days' cells, bread and water, and to have head shaved."
There was more in this shaving than would be at first apparent. Building operations were being carried on at the time to meet the increasing demand for houses by the growing population. Mortar was needed to cement the bricks or stones, and hair was required to make the mortar strong. Horses and cattle were too scarce to furnish the requisite supply, and hair, from the heads of the factory girls became a marketable commodity. The Government officials found a ready sale for it by the pound, builders and plasterers being the purchasers; and it is said that there are buildings still standing in Parramatta and Sydney, the mortar and plaster of which was made 'strong' by the hair from the shorn heads of the girls at the factory.
Another form of punishment inflicted on females was the placing of an iron collar round their necks, on each side of which was a curved prong, which gave them the appearance of horned cattle; and with this head-dress they were compelled to attend church, and sit in disgrace during the service.
Copy of letter from Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane, confirming sentence of death on five prisoners:—
Government House, Parramatta,
22nd January, 1825. Sir,—
I have just now been favoured with your letter of this day's date acquainting me of the capital conviction of the five following persons—viz: Martin Benson, James Coogan, John Sprole, Anthony Rodney, and Eliza Campbell, for the murder of their late master, John Brackfield, a settler of South Creek.
As nothing appears favourable to the cases of these unhappy individuals in your notes, herewith returned, nor has anything been suggested by you in mitigation of their crime, there is no alternative left but to decide that the law may take its course, at such day and time as you may be pleased to fix.
I have the honor, etc.,
Chief Justice Forbes.
This case had been heard in the Supreme Court, Sydney, Criminal Jurisdiction, on January 21st, 1825, and some of the points raised at the trial were of peculiar interest.
The case was opened by the learned Solicitor-General, who delineated the seriousness of the offence with which the prisoners stood charged; the nature of the evidence that would be presented to the jury; and the various circumstances attending the perpetration of the deed; from all of which he would rest satisfied that the jury must return a verdict of "guilty" against the several prisoners at the bar. "It was not only an offence," said the learned Solicitor-General, "of the utmost magnitude in the eye of human jurisprudence, but it was also an act of such intense enormity as to elicit the declaration of the Divine law, which solemnly testifies 'whose sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed!'"
After the medical evidence had been given that the deceased had met his death by strangulation, and also the evidence of the arresting constable; Nicholas Kayne, an approver, was called, who gave the following remarkable account of the occurrence:—
"He was a fellow servant," he said, "with the prisoners at the bar, and slept in the same hut. When he left his work for the day, the prisoner Rodney told him that he had cautioned the female prisoner (Eliza Campbell) against giving any alarm, through what she might see or hear during the course of the night; but that she refused to consent to such an injunction, unless made acquainted with the reason for its imposition. He had not been long in the hut before Eliza Campbell entered, and enquired what they were going to do? Rodney replied that they intended to rob her master, and murder him. Eliza Campbell then told them that she was going to bed to her master that night, for if she did not do so, he had threatened to send her to the Factory for two figs of tobacco he had found in her box; and that she would leave the door of her master's room open, so as they might go in and do as they thought fit. The whole then went in the hut, and consulted upon the best manner of putting their unfortunate master to death. One of them remarked that the easiest way would be to choke him; upon which Benson replied that his black silk handkerchief would do the business well. He took it out of his box, and went into the house, followed by Sprole, Rodney, and Coogan."
The witness (Kayne) placed himself against the pig-stye, some few yards distant, and observed all the motions of the prisoners at the bar. He had not been long in this spot before Eliza Campbell ran out of the house, and made for the hut, in which she continued for the space of three minutes, and then went to the shifting panel facing the high road. This was about nine in the evening. "In less than a quarter of an hour, Rodney came forth from the house, and followed the female prisoner. He then heard in one of the rooms (and that was the only time), a noise like that of a man choking. Benson was the next that left the dwelling for the hut, where he was soon joined by Eliza Campbell and Rodney. These three men re-entered the house, and shortly afterwards the female prisoner, and Rodney, opened the store-door, which was a short distance from the dwelling house. They brought some beer in a tin pot, which was drunk in the yard. Eliza Campbell, observing the witness (Kayne) then invited him to drink, with which he complied. Rodney and Eliza Campbell then went into the house; the latter prisoner, with Benson, revisiting the store, which was ransacked of every valuable, and among other articles taken were those of a bridle and saddle, with some bags marked in his master's name. He had seen some or the property since, and recognised it to form part of his late master's goods. Benson, Rodney, and Sprole, having laden his master's three horses with the spoil, rode off with them. While the latter prisoners were absent, he, the approver, saw the prisoners Campbell and Coogan, bring out a dish filled with papers, which were committed to the flames in the hut."
Ample evidence being adduced in corroboration of this statement, and the Chief Justice having summed up strongly against the prisoners, the jury retired about ten minutes, and gave in a verdict of guilty. The prisoners were then, in the usual way, asked what they had to say why sentence of death should not be passed upon them according to law? The male prisoners were silent; but Mr. Rowe, the solicitor for the female prisoner, moved an arrest of judgment, principally upon the ground, of the indictment being informal and vitiated, through the wrong day being substituted for the day on which the murder actually occurred. The learned Attorney-General humanely observed to the court, as he was not prepared at the moment to go into the question; as the indictment was of his own penning; and as the case was of the utmost importance to the public interest, and equally affected the prisoners at the bar, he had no wish to oppose the objection stated in arrest of judgment—more particularly should it appear to the court necessary that the present indictment must fall, it was still within the power and discretion of the law officer prosecuting for the Crown to charge the prisoners upon a new information. The court, yielding to this concession on the part of the Attorney-General, deferred judgment till the next day.
On Saturday, January 22nd, 1825, the prisoners were again brought up for sentence.
The learned Attorney-General rose, and stated it was now his painful duty to pray the judgment of the court upon the several prisoners at the bar.
Mr. Rowe was heard at considerable length upon the arrest of judgment, and the learned Attorney-General cited several authorities which went to refute the line of argument pursued by the counsel for the prisoner.
His Honor the Chief Justice, in closing these discussions, observed that he had looked into the authorities, and that he would now only refer to one, whose high legal learning, blended with correct moral character, would be sufficient to set the point at rest. His Honor alluded to Lord Hale, who had held that the particular day on which a crime was committed need not be mentioned in the information, unless it be in cases where escheats of the Crown are involved, otherwise it is immaterial whether the day recorded in the information be before or after the commission of the offence—so that the fact itself was proved. The court, therefore, held the present information to be a good information.
His Honor then proceeded to pass the sentence of the law upon the prisoners, who, with the exception of the female prisoner, appeared but little affected at the awful situation in which they were placed. The sentence was as follows: "That you, Martin Benson, James Coogan, John Sprole, Anthony Rodney, and Eliza Campbell, be taken from hence to the place from whence you came, and from thence be drawn on a hurdle to the place of execution, and there be hanged by the neck till your bodies be dead, and the Lord have mercy on your souls."
As previously stated, his Excellency the Governor saw no reason to commute this sentence, and on Monday, January 24th, 1825, the five prisoners underwent the extreme penalty of the Law.
"The unhappy creatures," says the record of the execution, "gave every symptom of unfeigned penitence, and acknowledged the justice of that decree which necessarily severed them from society by an ignominious death. Rodney (an Englishman) came to the colony about five years ago. Sprole (a Scotsman), had been out four years. Benson and Coogan (Irishmen) only came here last July. Eliza Campbell had been resident several years in the colony, and was a woman of more than ordinary understanding; but her associates and prompters in crime were almost quite ignorant. Eliza Campbell would not allow Rodney and Sprole to exonerate her from any knowledge of the murder; she acknowledged she knew that they were going to murder her master. Sprole said that he strangled Brackfield, whilst Benson hastened death by striking him on the head with a hammer. However clear the testimony may be against criminals, nevertheless it is consolatory to listen to the public confession of dying penitents."
Copy of letter from His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane, to Chief Justice Forbes:—
Government House, Parramatta,
9th April, 1825.
I have just been favored with your letter of yesterday, transmitting with it your notes, on the trial of Edward Bates, for the murder of his wife on the 25th of December last; as I regret to find no favorable circumstances in these notes, herewith returned, I lament that it leaves me but the painful alternative of directing the sentence of the law to be carried into effect at such day as you shall be pleased to fix.
I have the honor, etc.,
Chief Justice Forbes.
This case was heard in the Supreme Criminal Court at Sydney on April 8th, 1825, when Edward Bates was indicted for the wilful murder of his wife, Julia Bates, at Kissing Point, on 25th December, 1824.
The learned Attorney-General, in opening the case, said: "The prisoner at the bar is charged with the murder of his wife. It will be seen in evidence that both parties were intoxicated; and there is no means of judging if there was any previous malice against the woman; but the circumstances of death show that he was not so far intoxicated as to be incapable of knowing what he was about; his being drunk would be no excuse for him, if the death had occurred from ordinary blows; but here it will be seen that the blows were frequently repeated. It does not appear that there was any provocation given, and even, from the difference of strength, one would conceive that there could be none. If the death had occurred from one blow there might possibly have been some provocation; but here, as I have already said, the blows were frequently repeated, and it is next to impossible to conceive that any adequate cause could have arisen. It is not exactly known with what instrument the blows were given; the indictment lays them to have been given with an axe; but I submit that to be a matter of indifference. After the murder the prisoner confessed his guilt; or, at least, that the blows were given by his hand."
When the medical evidence as to the cause of death of the murdered woman had been given, Richard Porter deposed that he lived near the residence of the prisoner where the murder was committed. About 8 o'clock on the evening of Christmas Day, the prisoner requested the witness to come over to his house, for that his wife was killed, or burnt to death. He then went over, taking with him a cutlass, and found the women lying near the fire, on the left side. Witness exclaimed to Bates, "The long-looked-for has come at last," to which the prisoner replied, "Do you think I have killed my wife? If I had killed her I would have put her where you nor no one else would have found her for these six months." The prisoner then said he would go away. Witness prevented him, observing if he did he would go without his head. The constable of the district was then sent for, and Bates was given in charge.
Charles Clarke, also living at Kissing Point, deposed that he was drinking with the deceased, and a man named Cochrane, on Christmas Day. He left them at 4 o'clock in the afternoon, having all dined together. They drank three quarts of rum between the four.
John Cochrane deposed that he was employed by Bates as a laborer; he was drinking with the prisoner, the last witness, and the deceased on Christmas Day. The last thing he remembered was placing some roast beef on the table. They all drank a great deal of grog out of a tea-cup. He saw Mrs. Bates dead next morning, which was all he could remember, with the exception that the prisoner said he had been kicking him, and his sides were very sore.
Samuel Small deposed that he was acting constable at the time the murder took place. He apprehended the prisoner. Bates said that his wife had been quarrelling with him in the morning, but that he would not quarrel with her, and that if he killed her, it must have been when he was very drunk.
Mr. John Thorn, chief constable of Parramatta, deposed that Bates had acknowledged to him, while in custody, that he had committed the murder; he said that Cochrane had no hand in it; he could only remember having thrown a large kettle at her, he was so drunk.
The only evidence called on the part of the prisoner by his counsel (William Charles Wentworth) by whom he was ably defended, was that of Mr. Thomas Rowe, who gave the prisoner an excellent character. "He had known him for nine or ten years," so he said, "and had always thought him a quiet, hard-working, industrious man."
The Chief Justice, in his charge to the jury, said: "This is an information against the prisoner at the bar for the wilful murder of his wife, Julia Bates, on the 25th December, 1824. The information sets forth, that she came by her death in consequence of blows inflicted by the prisoner with an axe. The precise circumstances as to how she came by her death, is not in evidence before you. On the morning after the murder she was found lying near the fire, with several wounds in her body. The exact instrument with which the wounds were inflicted does not appear in evidence; but, gentlemen of the jury, it is not necessary that the precise instrument with which the murder was committed should be proved, though it is necessary to state it, as near as possible, in the indictment. The defence set up is drunkenness. Gentlemen, drinking is no excuse for that mental incompetency which causes such acts as those before you. The law says that drunkenness is no excuse for crime; but even if it were, it cannot be found in evidence that the prisoner was in a state of intoxication which would render him insensible to the enormity of the crime he was perpetrating. Gentlemen, there are various names for various grades for this frightful propensity to intoxication. If it had been proved that the prisoner was actually drunk, it would have been no legal excuse; but no such evidence is before you; and it is my duty to state to you that, in my mind, there is no doubt of the guilt of the prisoner."
"The awful sentence or the law," says the report, "was then passed upon the unhappy man, by which he was doomed to expiate his dreadful crime on Monday, the 11th instant, and his body afterwards to be given over for dissection."
As has already been seen, no reprieve was granted by the Governor, and so little was thought of the death penalty in those days that the matter is finally disposed of by the following brief announcement:—
"On Monday last, pursuant to his sentence, Edward Bates underwent the punishment of death at the usual place of execution."
Copy of letter from His Excellency Sir Thomas Brisbane to Chief Justice Forbes:—
Government House, Parramatta.
30th June, 1825.
Your letter of the 27th instant, transmitting your notes, herewith returned, taken at the trial of the following prisoners, convicted of capital crimes at the late sittings of the Supreme Court, and now under sentence of death, viz:—Bryan Smith and Thomas Lynch, John Fell, John Woodgate, William Anson, Edward Townsend, Andrew Kenyon, John Green, Thomas Burns, John Wright, and James Murphy.
I am glad to perceive that these notes exhibit no circumstances of aggravation in the guilt of any of these persons. I am therefore happy to concur in opinion with you as to the expediency of commuting the sentences of the said named prisoners to transportation for life to Norfolk Island.
I have the honor, etc.,
The Hon'ble Chief Justice Forbes.
The following were the crimes of which these prisoners were convicted, against which, in each case, sentence of death is recorded:—
Bryan Smith and Thomas Lynch—stealing two bullocks.—Death.
John Fell, William Anson, John Woodgate, and Edward Townsend—Stealing in the dwelling house of Robert Culter, and putting him and his family in bodily fear.—Death.
Andrew Kenyon and John Green—Stealing in the house of James Townsend, and putting him in bodily fear.—Death.
Thomas Burns, John Wright, and James Murphy—Shooting at Mr. William Ikin.—Death.
Crimes such as these were too common at this time to call for a detailed report, and were disposed of by a few lines of reference, accompanied by the Governor's letter recommending the prisoners to be transported for life to Norfolk Island, a punishment, it may well be asked, whether, in severity, it did not exceed death itself. Certain it is that many of the prisoners at Norfolk Island preferred to die, and murdered one another, with the certainty of detection, for the purpose of escaping, although upon the scaffold, from their intolerable captivity. "Whoever goes to Norfolk Island," writes one of the prisoners at this inferno, "are no longer prisoners of hope. In every other place there is a hope springs up in the mind that some day may bring deliverance, and that, at a future period, however remote that period may be, you will be restored again to your friends. Not so at Norfolk Island; for all who are sent thither are sentenced for their natural lives; so that every hope is gone of ever obtaining deliverance, or of enjoying any other society, or seeing any other but their miserable companions in misery, wretchedness, and woe. Thus they are left to drag on their miserable existence until death ends their sufferings."
"I can Assure my Lord Stanley," writes George Loveless, wrongfully transported, and subsequently pardoned, "who boasted, a few years since, that he would make transportation worse than death, that his cruel and diabolical purpose is more than accomplished; for it would be doing such unfortunate men a kindness—a favor; it would be granting them an unspeakable privilege, to hang them in England, and so prevent their exposure to the cruelties, miseries, and wretchedness connected with the present system of transportation to the Australian colonies."
Here also is a story told by a visitor to the Commandant at Norfolk Island in 1827:—
"Next day, when I was on my way to the Commandant's house, I had to pass the triangles, which had been in use that day. Here I saw a man walk across the yard with the blood that had run from his lacerated flesh squashing out of his shoes at every step he took. A dog was licking the blood off the triangles, and the ants were carrying away pieces of human flesh that the lash had scattered about the ground. The scourger's foot had worn a deep hole in the ground by the violence with which he whirled himself round on it to strike the quivering and wealed back, out of which appeared the sinews, white, ragged, and swollen. The infliction, in this instance, had been 100 lashes, at about half-minute time, so as to extend the punishment through nearly an hour. The day was hot enough to overcome a man merely standing that length of time in the sun, and this was going on in the full blaze of it. However, they had a pair of scourgers, who gave each other spell and spell about, and they were bespattered with blood like a couple of butchers."
Such was life at Norfolk Island in 1827, and during the years which followed, while it remained a place of punishment; and who shall say that death, even by the hangman's rope was not preferable to such on intolerable existence?
In George Thomson's list of convicts consigned to New South Wales on board the Royal Admiral in 1792 are the following: "Alexander Dempster, aged 15, seven years; Stephen Peachman, 18 years, transported for life; William Collins, Thomas Galloway, and William Wales, each 15 years of age, seven years; Ann Wilson, 15 years of age; Ann Holmes, 15 years of age; and Thomas Scott, 13 years of age—transported for life!"
What crimes, it may he asked, could these unfortunate children have been guilty of to merit such punishments?
This site is full of FREE ebooks - Project Gutenberg Australia