SATURDAY, JULY 26, 1834. Convict Discipline
Ah! little think the gay licentious proud
Whom pleasure, power, and affluence surround * * * how many drink the cup
Of baleful grief, or eat the bitter bread Of misery!
It is much to be regretted that people
cannot always form the most favourable opinions of those who consider them- selves entitled to the admiration of their fellow citizens- and it is, perhaps, quite as great a pity that all men will not act up to the dignify of their station and the purity of their professions. It is ex- ceedingly unpleasant to be compelled to censure where we ought to have reason to commend- but when we see individu-
als pretending to all the sanctity of righteousness, bending the idolatrous knee to that self interest which they profess to have renounced, it almost affords a distressing pleasure to tear the mask of dissimulation from their hearts,
to hold them up to public condemnation.
We have been led to these remarks, by the perusal of some appareutly can- did observations on convict discipline published in a late number of the Mo- nitor. The theme is a fruitful one-it
has employed the tongues and the pens of many during the last twelve months and we are free to confess, that with much that has been stated by our con- temporary we perfectly agree. We are grossly abused when ours is designated "the prisoners' journal"-that is, we mean, in the sense which such a desig- nation is meant to convey. We are not the prisoners' journalists- but we are and ever will be, to the utmost of the limited powers with which Providence has endowed us, the advocates of the helpless and oppressed, whether free or bond, or in whatever situation of life they may happen to be. We look at the act, not at the individual upon whom or by whom it is inflicted. Under such feelings it was that we perused the strictures in the Monitor, and which were re-published in a subsequent number of that journal- they being considered, as the editor stated, of much importance, not only in the colony, but also in Lon-
Upon the general principle of convict discipline, we think, there can be but one opinion. Every restraint, consistent with the principles of justice and humanity, and keeping in view the object of all human punishment- reformation by ex- ample- ought to be imposed upon indi- viduals who are undergoing the penalty of the law. The interests of society the interests of the unhappy persons themselves, require the exercise of that strict discipline which we recommend: but what is to be its extent? That, we believe, is the sole question at issue.
For many years prior to the establish- ment of New South Wales as a penal colony, offenders against the laws were
transported to the American plantations. They were then made the absolute pro- perty of the settlers- as absolute as the cattle on their farms- they were, in fact,
constituted white slaves, during the full period of their banishment. The system of transportation now in force, relieves the British nation from the imputation of legally sanctioning slavery to its utmost extent. The crown is now the assignee of the British convict, possessing and exercising the power of temporarily di- vesting itself of its rights, and vesting them in the settlers residing in the penal colonies. Once in Now South Wales,
or Van Diemen's Land, the convict en- joys a qualified freedom- he is placed, as it were, in a state of probation, prepa- ratory to his full restoration to society the law which has doomed him to exile
protects his person even in that state- he is not a slave, but an apprentice. This is our view of the principle and object of the transportation laws.
But although the general system ema- nates from the British legislature, the minor details must, of necesaily, be con- fided to the discretion of the local go- vernment; and it is upon one of those points that we are at issue with two of our contemporaries.
Of the Sydney Herald it is not our intention to speak- its motives, its de- signs, and the parties by whom it is influenced are so well known, that the sentiments promulgated in that journal can have little weight. Not so with the Monitor- the editor of that paper has hitherto been looked upon as the advocate and assenter of liberal principles -he had
established for himself a fame on that account which we, among the num- ber of his former admirers, had hoped would never have been diminished he has now " turned his back upon him- self," he best knows why. In this edi- tor's writings, there has, of late, been a strange inconsistency. The leniency of tho present Governor, in reference to the question of convict discipline, has long been a subject of weekly animadversion with him and his " fellow soldier in the Gallia wars," our near neighbour. The " Summary Punishment Act" has been repeatedly denounced by him, as a mea- sure cilculated to entail the most ruinous consequences to the settlers. The prison population was asserted to be in a state little short of insurrection, owing to the mistaken lenity of the Executive autho- rities- complaints multiplied upon com- plaints, of what is termed insubordina- tion, of the turbulent demeanor of the convicts, were spread far and wide-all emanating from three or four individuals, but, notwithstanding, impudently put forth as the sentiments of the settlers generally. The Governor instituted an enquiry, the result of which was such as fully justified His Excellency in disre- garding the clamour. What has been the result ? After months of incessant declamation, we at length have it on re- cord, that all that has been alleged to have occurred as a consequence of the " Summary Punishment Act," is not owing to the law, but to the magistrates not putting it in force ! ! ! Surely three long tails are not too many for that. To be sure there is a reason assigned- or, rather, what is asserted as a reason, namely, the influence on the minds of the magistrates, occasioned by the Go- vernor's known humane disposition : but we make our opponents a present of that. We have upon record, the fact that the magistrates do not put the law in force, and that to their remissness is to be at- tributed the existence (if it does exist any where) of " insubordination." " Oh ! that mine enemy would write a book," says Pope somewhere.-" Oh ! that the Monitor would attack me," well may exclaim the Governor. The Monitor has defended His Excellency, and we thank
him for it.
But the Monitor commends, and by implication, recommends, the Douglas panacea : we'll give our readers a speci- men of it, and then conclude for the present.
" Upwards of two years-ago, I was pas- sing along the public street opposite the gaol, when Walton, the flogger, accosted me in the following manner :.
" That he had been compelled to flog a man, named Henry Bayne, in a most cruel manner, on suspicion of a robbery ; that he had been ordered to punish him with 25 lashes every morning, until he would tell where the property he was charged with stealing was concealed ; that no surgeon at- tended, and the man's back was so lacerated, that he was afraid he would die under the punshment, if continued ; that he inflicted upon Bayne 25 lashes, for five mornings successively, beginning on Monday ; that, on the sixth morning, being Saturday, he was ordered to flog him again, when he kept out of the way all day. -On ¡Monday he was ordered, by Doctor Douglass, to punish lum again, which he did, the man still persisting in his innocence, and that he knew nothing of the property.
" I satisfied myself with respect to the correctness of Walton's statement, that he punished Henry Bayne six times in eight days! ! !-Vide Mr. Marsden's letter to the Court of Enquiry, dated Parramatta, 28th July, 1825."
Such were the doings in the days of Major Goulburn and Dr. Douglas ! Would the Monitor revive those times ? We honestly believe he would not if he could. Then why write as he does? why induce people to believe and assert, that he has no fixed principle in politics -that he is the mere weathcr-cock of the day ? But we must pause for the
The Australian of yesterday contains some very caustic observations on the meritorious movement of a gallant officer supported in his scientific marchings and counter-marchings, by a few members of the corps " cabal," whose patriotism has been worked upon by a more than ordi- nary flow of spirit during the last few mouths. It is very appropriately re- marked, that the mere protestation ef Colonel Snodgrass, and the vigorous stand of Messrs. Campbell, Bell, Berry, Jones, and Blaxland, is not a very elegant and commendable subject for the extreme exultation which the Herald appears to indulge. The original proposition of the Government to exact
£6, apon the verdict of the Commission- ersa for deciding on claims to grants of land, and £2 on undefended causes, was disputed upon the ground that £4 10s. and £1 10s. should only be allowed. This was an excessive stretch of that high feeling, which we, for the first time, have seen evinced by the gallant galaxy of in- dependent councillors. If their opposi-
tion to the measures of the Government, and their imperative regard for retrench- ment, is to receive this very powerful and vehement impulse from the alarming disputed difference between the original and amended proposal of thirty shillings in one, and ten shillings in the other case, the ministerial side of the " House" will be literally overwhelmed or driven out by the burden of "corruption," and " official voting," with which the now overburthened patriots waddle in fearful anxiety, when they fire from more impor- tant batteries. The Maitland Bridge affair (as gross an instance perhaps of needless extravagance as ever came under the public review), was not dis- puted where £500 was concerned, and yet the baro contention about a paltry sum of a few shillings, procures from a silly, babbling journal, the admitted mouth-piece of a " faction," the most fulsome and ridiculous lauding, which we begin to consider as a peculiar way of sarcastically laughing at the comic independence of men whom it professos to commend while it actually stabs them. We like to see a consistent opposition, a wholesale sort of opposition ; but a tin- pot or huckster kind of trading in pa- triotism, is most contemptible; and really injures the dealers in the public estima- tion. Mr. Blaxland does grapple at something. The others merely hunt phantoms.
The remuneration stipulated hy the Act in question, docs not como direct from the pocket of the applicant, hut out of the aggregate receipts. If instead of attacking the Commissioners, the worthies had analyzed the heavy fees oxtorted from those who must have titles to (heir
property, and reduced them to a mere nominal amount, then the public would bave been served. The oppositionists did not apparently care one fig for the general good. All their vicious and am- bitious prosing scorned applied to the traduction of the Commissioners, and the letter of " Justitia" in last Monitor, certainly furnishes a complimentary
" note" in which his malicious lucubra- tions against the secretary to the Court, can only be excelled in impudence, by the authoritive and presuming way in which he attempts to ram home his doctrines, and surfeit the already much injured Mr.
Hume. We have never been favourable
to this Court, and chiefly so because it is not final, - it is very expensive, and the applicants rights may by pos- sibility, be negatived by the Gover- nor, but because wo do not agree with its constitution, we are not bound to abuse ils members without occasion ; and we bave a right to laugh at mock retrench- ment, when the croacking about retrench- ment is obviously based, not upon a sense of real profusion, but upon political feel- ings of avery différent complexion. After we find the divisions in council furnished to the cut-as-you-like Journals, who dare now say that it is a close meeting ? While there ure spies and traps to tattle pri- vately out of doors, ali the meritorious proceedings of any ranting Cabalist will ornameut the columns of his devoted
prints, and all his bad acts become num- bered among the things that are to be " quietly inurned."
The enlightened spirit of the age has long rejected the policy of capital punish- ments. The examples offered against a too liberal use of the gallows, in cases where secondary punishments presented equally striking effects, have led to the conclusion, that extreme severity in penal legislation defeats its own ostensible pur- poses. It was left for the genius of a Romilly to unveil the dismal train of horrors in the criminal law, and to de- monstrate that the highest punishments operated rather as a benefit than an evil to the great mass of capital offenders. The sacrifice of human life, naturally withheld the hand of the injured, and the daring ruffian, hardened by guilt and high in hope from his hair-breadth escapes, pursued a life of robbery, and victims suffered patiently rather than be instrumental in consigning a fellow mor- tal to a dreadful and ignominious death. Of late years, capital punishments have, therefore, been less frequent, though crimes have naturally increased with the amount of population, and the rise in pauperism. To find an effective substitute fortho abolition, or at least abridgment of the punishment of death, is a subject which has enlisted, as we observed in our last, a whole legion of theorists, each contending for the laureled wreath on account of his particular plan. The old system of transportation has been desig- nated as a complete failure, the hulks and penetentiaries in England as hot- beds of iniquity, nourishing men of all grades in every stage of moral depravity and mental degradation, in the heart of a great nation. Enquiries have followed upon enquiries-pamphlets have issued from the press of England in loads, and fallacious views have been assumed as proof upon which speculation has raised a structure, tawdry because supported by fluent writers, and amusing rather than instructive, from the singularity of the reasons adduced, and tho animation with which they have been supported. In England, however, the discussion has been maintained with dignity and forbearance, and a total absence of scurrility, while here, the champions have disrobed them- selves of the ordinary charms of literary courtesy, and when they failed in argu- ment, boldly grasped at ridicule and vul- gar personality.
If men were all equally depraved in
moral feelings, if their disposition pre- sented an unvarying feature of callous- ness to every impression, one general and undeviating principle of punishment might be laid down, under which, man- kind would be goaded to desperation and murder, or be murdered without society lamenting tho result, and traits of ferocity become exhibited far more revolting to the minds of an enlightened people, than the gladiatorial and bloody scenes of the Roman circus, were they to be repeated in our time. The law is intended to correct by example, the tendency to vice. In England, the manacled con- vict,—the scaffold,—and every other scene of appalling degradation, which in- genuity is capable of devising, fails to touch the heart even of the most sensitive
and timid beyond a single moment; and yet the great object of all the solicitude evinced by the disciples of non-trans- portation is by the horrors of bon- dage and humiliation in this isolated and half known spot, to strike terror into the depraved and thoughtless in England ; terror to the hearts-in fact, of men, who though death and ignominy stare them daily in the face, and their friends fall victims to offended justice, still buffet the tide, and rush audaciously into that vortex of guilt and crime, which they had long seen yawning to engulph them.
If, as the Edinburgh Review assures us, the mere report by certain convicts upon the luxury of "having butcher's meat every day in the year," is one of the highest instances that we can observe to have been adduced as exhibiting the total inefficiency of transportation, we think the absurdity of the position is self evident. The writer, (Mr. Chadwick, in his report to the poor law commis- sioners,) we presume, is one of those con- siderate christians whose piety merely goes to the extent of considering convicts as monsters without minds, and that all
their sensibilities and desires centre in an excellent voracity ! If, as a substitute for flour, the colonist was to offer a fair admixture of saw dust and maize meal, we presume that such writers as Mr. Chadwick, or his commentator, would proclaim transportation as one of the best systems of secondary punishments that could be devised. On the subject of food we could, if the point at issue was of sufficient magnitude to require illus- tration, produce some very prominent examples of management, starvation, and systematic brutality in the feeding and controul of convicts, which could not fail to excite compassion for the man, and re volting infamy for tho master.
We are disposed to dispute the charge that there has, during the present govern- ment, been any abatement of the rigour with which convicts in service and in government, have invariably been hitherto treated. We admit that it is a subject
which has created an extensive and bitter
acrimony, because, the only point in which this governor had invaded the imaginary immunities of convict employ- ers, and at the same time abridged the dangerous and abused power of the Jus- tices, laid the system of transportation out of which these proceeded open as the first and only object against which the potential and humiliated magistracy thought they might prevail.
If the assignment of convict servants is to be continued, and if the same sys- tem is to remain under which reforma- tion and example went hand in hand, we do not see how, in a country where it is the interest of the master to gain by the labour of the convict, and where, as the Monitor assures the country, the emigrants are the scum of the cauldron, and more vicious than even the rascally convicts, we repeat that we do not see how trans- portation can be amended, without abo- lishing the system of assignment alto- gether, and throwing all the labour, now in the settlers hands, into those of the Government ; and in what a condition would this place the general interests of the country? It would not promote a moral emigration, but it would be the signal for bankruptcy-the fields would be overgrown with weeds-cattle roam the wilds -and the short-sighted enthu- siasts of the moment be very possibly lodged in mad-houses, for accelerating, by their foolish machinations, a shower
of irresistible destruction.
The introduction of a penitentiary plan sufficiently extensive to receive the con- victs that would be annually consigned to it in England, cannot be formed for many years the severity of controul here may be strained certainly, but what will it effect ? It may depress the prisoner, but never can promote the great object which legislators contemplate, viz., an influence in England by means of punishment here! If we saw that all discipline was set at nought by the convicts,-that burglaries increased even with the increase of popu- lation as contrasted with former years; aud that the government presented a la- mentable picture of perfect impotency in all its measures, we, from motives of ge- neral security,-by the mere impulse of universal alarum would be as active to insist on an altered policy, as we are determined to support that which we con- scientiously consider it to be best fitting for the interest of the country and huma- nity to preserve. We despise the motives attributed to us by writers who resort to calumny when reason fails.
We conclude by making one extract only from the Review, which conveys in few words, the advantages to a convict of the enviable system of transportation now in practice : -
" The assigned servant is in a state of degradation which renders him insensible to some of the most powerful of those moral restraints by which, in a sound state of society, the evil passions and inclinations of men are curbed. He is, in fact, a slave, bound for a number of years to labour for the benefit of another, and no activity or good behaviour can shorten the period of his bondage ; he may lengthen it by gross misconduct, or by idleness carried beyond a cortain point, but avoiding this, he has nothing to gain by
merit, or to lose by the faults he may commit."
Is this true?—The great petitioner, Robert Scott, Esq. J. P., of Glendon, has lately been fined £5 by the Bench, of which he is a member, for striking his assigned servant, after the man had received fifty lashes. Perhaps the fifty did not satisfy his worship. Never mind—we only ask, "Is this true?"
Information was given to the first Police Magistrate, some days ago, that crimes of the most revolting nature were of common occurrence in the gaol, in consequence of which, four persons were brought up from the gaol and the iron gang at Carters' Barrack, and underwent an examination on Tuesday, in the Magistrates' private room, before Col. Wilson, Messrs. Windeyer, and P. Macqueen, Esquires. The investiga- tion lasted four hours and was resumed again on Friday.
An Executive Council will, it is be- lieved, be summoned for this day. It
will be in the remembrance of our readers that a person convicted of felony, and who escaped before sentence was passed, was brought up to the Bar for judgment dur- ing the sittings of the Civil Court. His Honor the Chief Justice ordered "death" to be recorded against him. This man still lies in the cells, without receiving the
least notice whether his life is intended
to be saved or not. To protract the men- tal sufferings of a poor wretch for months, is cruel without serving any good pur- pose ; and it is to be hoped, that his case will engage the consideration of the Council. [We think this paragraph, fur- nished by our reporter, must be inacurate. Recording the sentence of death is equi- valent to a reprieve. Why then, should this prisoner be kept in the condemned cell? Ed.]
A Bill has boen introduced into the
legislative council, which will entitle per- sons who have purchased land from the Church and School Corporation, to apply for, and receive, grants direct from the Government, the Corporation having been dissolved by his Majesty. This Bill gives the agent appointed to receive the debts due to the trustees, extensive powers to proceed for their recovery.
For a considerable time past, the time of the Sydney magistracy has been almost wholly occupied in the adjudication of drunken and other paltry cases. This is a very formidable proof of the horrible rum " system." In the course of a few weeks, it is very probable, that the " Horrible" and its old wife, the " Turncoat," will unite in preventing the importation of spirits.
We have perused some remarks in a recent number of the Monitor, on what is emphatically termed '. Booker's case." It is not necessary to argue the subject farther. Colonel Wilson was right and Booker was wrong. The regulation under which the latter was deprived of his pay is a very wholesome and proper regulation. The Commissioner of the Court of Requests could have pro-
nounced no other decision than that which he did pronounce-Colonel Wilson has acted towards the complainant in a very generous manner, and it is to be hoped that the friends of Booker will now
let his " case" alone.
By an advertisement we perceive that a meeting is called, to be held at the Royal Hotel, on Monday next, to take
into consideration the refusal of the Sheriff to call a public meeting, in com- pliance with a recent requisition ad- dressed to that officer. In our paper of Tuesday last, we published what we in
tended as a remonstrance to the Sheriff to the best of our ability, we endeavoured to point out to him in what way he erred, and expressed an anxious wish that some conciliatory measure might be adopted.
This does not seem to have been attended
to. The Sheriff appears to be inexorable -the meeting will be held-what will
be the result ? The Sheriff has acted
unadvisedly, that he will find.
The following case, which we extract from a late London paper, will be found interesting to many persons in this co- lony :
EXCHEQUER EQUITY SITTINGS. Gkay's-ink-hall, Turoiur, Ffb. l8.
(Before Lord Lyndhurst.)
Farnell v. Hodgtt.
This came before the Court on further directions, and involved two questions-one of a description not very common, viz. whether a party convicted of felony, and having sentence of death passed upon him in 1799, but which sentence wa» commuted to trans- portation for life, under which he wa» sent to New South Wales, but in consequence of good conduct, the governor of the colony granted him a conditional pardon in 1812, which conditions was that he was to remain in New South Wales, which was afterwards followed by a general pardon in 18131, ratified by government in 1833,-whether the act of the 9th George IV., chapter 83, section 32, and under such
circumstauces he was entitled to the benefit of two
distinct legacies, ono under the will of Edward Farnell, dated in 1797, at a moiety oi £2,000 to be received at the death of testator's wife, which took place in 1797 ; and the other one of £200, left him by the will of William Fcrnell in 1814. The other was a question as to the payment over to the plain- tiff by the defendant«, who were co-executor6, the amount of principal of smaller sums of interest on stock received up to the year 1825, and amounting together to the sum of ¿¿231, with interest on the
Air. Ellice, for the plaintiff, contended that tho .um alluded to having been received by the defen- dant in his character of executor, he was bound to render to his co-executor when called upon an ac- count of such receipt, and ho prayed for the decision of the Court as to the disposal of the legacy.
Mr. Rae, in the absence of the Attorney-Gcueral. claimed the legacies for the Crown, as having become forfeited by the conviction and sentence of the legatee, the effects of which were not romoved by tire con- ditional pardon.
Mr. Jervis, with whom was Mr. Wilbraham, con- tended, that with respect to the dividend» alluded to, they wore received in small sums covering a period of nine years ; that the plaintiff must have knewn the amount; that the defendant was to recivo £25. for his trouble in the management of the affairs of the cxe cutorship, in which he was no way personally inter / cstcd, whereas the plaintiff as rei'uhiary legatoe, had
an interest in H to tho amount of £10,000. ; that tho defendant acted under a power of attorney from Wil- liam Hodges, the legatee in New South Wales, from whom he was furnished with a release to be given ia case tf payment, and the money was held to meet the call of part of these legacies ; aud with respect to the claim of the Crown, as to tho forfeiture of the legacía», they would not dispute its right to the one of 1797 ; but with respect to tho other, they con'cndeJ that under the 9th of George IV., c. 83, *. 32, and which recited that of 30th George III., which was entitled " An Act for enabling His Majesty's Governors in convict colonies to remit punishments," Sec, and which by the latter act was extended to the pardoning con- victs in the colonies, and giving general pardons to fiarties deserving it by their good behaviour, but which atter was to be subject to tho ratification of govern- ment, and which had a retrospective effe t so far back as 1824, the legatee was entitled to receive hitlcgacy ; far, under the conditional pardon, he would be en- titled to relief from its date, although the condition« confined him to the colony, yet he would be entitled, in case of a debt accruing to him there, to follow for redress into an English court, and if so, why could he not obtain it in this ease] The general pardon of
1831 recited the conditional pardon, although it was
not embodied in it.
Mr. Ellice and Mr. Rae replied.
Lord Lyndhurst.-With respect to the interest, the plaintiff liad nothing to do with it ; it was an affair between the legatee aud the defendant, or the defend- ant and the Crown. The conditional pardon was imperative in this case, as it was not included in the general pardon. The conditional pardon was inoper- ative in England, and barred the party from relief here. It was a very hard case. He (the legatee) was at the morey of the crown ; but as the individual interested seemed to have acted meritoriously, and to have deserved the consideration of the Government, he should think the crown would not deal harshly with him. His Lordship hoped that Mr. Rae would state his Lordship's sentiments to the attorney-general.
That very talented draftsman, Mr. Ilodiui, has completed a most excellent picturo of pooi>old Billy Blue, alias the " Commodore." It is a copper-plate engraving, though evidently a rough sketch, and executed off-hand. But the likeness al- together is most admirable.
We are glad to learn that night rob- beries are not now by any means as frequent as they have formerly been. This is owing to the vigilance of the police, under the very active superintendence of Colonel Wilton, for which that gentleman well deserves the thanks of the public.
The Horses sold on Thursday last by Mr. Samuel Lyons, at the London Tavern, brought
tho following sums :
The entire Horse Bachelor, to A. B. Spark,
Esquire .£150 0 0
Brown ditto ditto ... 23 10 O
Bay Mare. 10 7 6 Black ditto (broken down) . ' 4 0 0
Dark brown horse. 10 5 0
Bay mare. 12 O O Black colt (broken down). 5 10
Ditto horse ditto. 6 0 0 Dark brown ditto. 16 0 0
Ditto ditto ditto. 9 2 0
£246 6 0
This is addressed to him who will un- derstand it. He must apply it :
" Take of the vine called runabout, and the root called nimble tongue, of each six handsful, fifteen ounees of ambition, the same quantity of nonsense; bruise them well together in the mortar of misappre- hension : then boil them over the fire of evil surmises, till you .perceive the scum of falsehood rising on the top ; strain it through the cloth of misconstruction, put it in the bottle of malignity, and stop it with the cork of envy ; suck it through tlie quill of malevo- lence, and you will be qualified to speak evil without respect to person or chai acter."- Boston Recorder.