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LIFE OF BUSHRANGER POWER, j
GREAT HORSEMAN AND DARING
HIS RELATION WITH THE KELLYS.
SIR WILLIAM CLARKE AND POWER. ^
(By Frauk Corlette.)
(All Rights Reserved.)
(Continued from Last Week.)
The Traitrous Kellys.
Reflecting upon the deeds of horror per- petrated by his pupils, the Kellys, Power once pointedly remarked: "The Kellys gave me away all right; the Kellys, the Lloyds, and the Quinns, whom I supported with
stolen moneys for years and years. They became traitors when the £500 was offered as reward for information that would cause my arrest, and forgetting all I had done for them-how I trained them in bush life; taught them to judge and ride a horse; stole horses for them, and showed them how easy it was to alter the brands and make money hand over fist-they were only too glad to make me drunk, and give Hare, Nicholson, and Montford the very easy chance they got when they caught me asleep!" .
Fatal Blood Money.
"The five hundred didn't do them any good," I said.
"No, you're right there. They thought they had squared themselves with the police, and I fully believe Ned Kelly got out of the charge, of being an associate and help of mine, through a pro- mise to take the police to my camp. If you read the particulars of that case when he was before the court for being an ac- complice of mine, you'll remember that Ned was discharged because the police had no
evidence to call. It's as clear as daylight to me. The police evidence alone would
have convicted Ned. But he had promised to give me away if they let him off, and accordingly he kept his word. I'm sure Nicholson and Hare never could have found me. What a feel I was to get drunk on gin with them the night before the dawn when Nicholson and Hare jumped upon me in my bunk."
Offered His Liberty.
"When you were offered your liberty from Pentridge if you would escort the police to the Kellys hiding-places why didn't you accept it?"
"I gave some thought to the proposal, but the idea of ending my life in traitor's colours got the upper hand of me."
"They surrendered you in cold blood for money, and no person would have regarded you as a traitor in the same spirit had you helped the police."
"Maybe so. At any rate, I felt I could not do it."
"Did you reckon that freedom, when it
was then offered to you, after the murders of troopers Kennedy, Lonergan, end Scan Ian, meant about five years' reduction of
your Pentridge imprisonment?" ]
"Yes, all that was pointed out to me, and it was also impressed that Sir William
Clarke would provide a home for me up near Donnybrook on one of his estates, the very same place I am going to when I have told you the full history of my life."
"It was a great pity to refuse that splen-
did offer from the Government."
Power in Reflective Mood.
"I daresay it was. Had I gone out at the time I'd have been well treated by the police, and saved from any violence in the Kelly country. Yes, I made a great mis-
take, and I'd have been free of the illness I suffered at the Stockade."
"It has been said and written that you were afraid of being caught by the Kellys, and that such was operating in your mind."
"No; that's not true. I was not afraid
of the Kellys."
"What about their sympathisers, then?" "I wouldn't care a scrap for any of them
single-handed, old as I am now. Certainly
I would have run great risk ; but I never gave that one thought."
The Kellys in Safety.
"The Kellys never stopped very long at any particular camp it appears to me,
"Oh, yes they did. They were living snugly for months at a time in parts of the ranges well-known to me, and within easy reach of the Quinns and the Lloyds. I know every likely spot where they camped."
"Is it not possible that you would forget those ranges after so many years in Pen- tridge?"
"Not a bit of it. I'd bet I know more of that country now than ever the Kellys have been over. You see, four of them- and they must have had spies, too-couldn't move about as freely, and without attract- ing attention as I used to do alone."
'You think, then, they spent most of their time in hiding?"
"I don't think at all; I'm sure of it. The police ought easily have found them during the first six months after the murder of the
Police at Mansfield.
Look at the number of troopers and plain-clothes officers who were in the hunt, wasting Government money in the bush shanties. Would anyone dare tell me they were seriously hunting the Kelly Gang! Did the hundreds of police out in those ranges really expect to drop on them in a public-house. lt's outrageous to think of it. The police while they were drinking were as helpless to find out anything, or to capture Ned Kelly, as I was helpless to resist Nicholson and Hare in my drunken
Dogged by the Police. Power was very much annoyed on his re- lease to find Detectives Potter and Mahony
on his track.
"What do they want following me about for? They ought to take my word now that at this time of my life, and my health not too good, I have no wish to take on bushranging again."
He begged of me to have this matter drawn attention to in the Press, and I did
so willingly, thus relieving him of annoy- ance. After paragraphs had appeared in
the Melbourne dailies, the detectives were called off by their chief, Kennedy, and ceased to "dog" his footsteps. Potter and Mahony looked to me to keep them posted of his doings and movements. There was not the smallest reason for watching him. His mind was easy in having a soft thing to turn to on Sir William Clarke's estate, in trapping and shooting hares and rabbits.
One of the Melbourne papers published a par stating that Power was gamekeeper to Sir William, and this tickled Harry intensely.
"If knocking rabbits over with a gun and trapping means game-keeping, the word must have a different meaning to that in the old country. Had any Irishman in my young days shot as many rabbits in a year as I shoot in one day, he'd have been famous as a marksman, or he'd have been transported, according to circumstances."
Power used to write me letters every week-telling me of his very happy life, and the great consideration shown him on the estate. He had horses, guns, and dogs, and couldn't wish for any more.
Great Respect for Women.
Powers seems to have imitated the conduct of the famous Matthew Brady, of Tasmania, in his respect for females. When Brady formed his gang of twelve outside Hobart he made it a sine qua non that women should always be respected. As leader he compelled his associates to subscribe to his doctrine, "That they must neither injure
the defenceless nor molest females."
In its full significance, when on April 14, 1825, Sir Georgo Arthur, Governor of Tasmania, offered £500 for the capture of Brady, "the highwayman and terror of the country around Hobart," the bushranger had this notice in reply to the Governor's posted on the door of the Royal Oak Inn at Cross- march, Oatlands:
As it has caused Matthew Brady much
concern that a person known as Sir George Arthur is at large, twenty gal- lons of rum will be given to any person who will deliver him up to me. I also caution John Priest that I will hang him for his treatment of Mrs. Black- well. Signed-MATTHEW BRADY.
John Batman end Brady.
It is due to mention that Brady was sub- sequently wounded in the leg in a conflict, with the authorities, but got safely away. John Batman, who was in Tasmania at the time, went out unarmed on his own in search of Brady, and found him quite ac- cidentally. He saw a man limping in the bush near a shallow creek, and hastened forward to him. It was Brady. He in- duced Brady to surrender and return with him. The outlaw was ill and suffering much pain, and he did as Mr. Batman ask- ed. Brady was duly sentenced to death.
His respect for females caused the women of Hobart and the surrounding places, to forward a numerously signed petition to Governor Arthur, praying that his life be spared on account of his consideration for women, and also from the fact that he had shot one of his gang through the left hand and dismissed him from the twelve, for molesting a woman. But the petition was unavailing, and the outlaw was executed, much to the chagrin of the women folk.
An Eye to Business.
Bushranger Power, unlike most of his class, had a keen eye to dis- play, with a business side to it. He conceived the idea that if he were photographed as a typical bush- ranger, it would appropriately embellish the history of his life.
"I want a picture in a similar dress to that I always wore in the ranges-soft hat, blue shirt, red silk handkerchief, loose rid- ing breeches and short riding boots; also a cartridge belt, something like those worn by the mounted police with revolver pouches.
The idea was simple. I reckoned that it would not be difficult to rig him out in the clothes, but I had some doubts of the wisdom of getting him revolvers, for he was constantly shadowed by detectives Potter and Mahony. He acquiesced in my suggestion
Not to Handle Firearms
at all and was duly photographed to his liking every care being taken by me that
the pictures should neither be displayed at the studio, nod sold by the proprietor. These conditions were rigorously obeyed and the negatives destroyed.
For quite two months, I had Power in hand and took voluminous notes from him of his boyhood in Ireland ; his fights with the tenantry against the soldiers; his esca- pades in borrowing blood horses and hunt- ers and riding over estates all on his own; and the troubles an incorrigible lad can bring upon his parents.
Beginning life as a horsestealer, he ended up as a highwayman, and the only thing
to his credit was his assertion that he had never taken a life. While it was not his wish to commit bloodthirsty deeds like his pupils the Kellys, it was not his fault that he didn't do so, for he used to say- "When you begin bushranging, horsesteal- ing and highway robberies you carry your life in your hands, and that means you must defend it at any cost when cornered."
Caught Asleep through Drink.
And again-"Believe me, if it hadn't been for the gin I drank at Quinns' shanty and at Mrs. Kelly's, Nicholson, Hare, and Montford wouldn't have got me so easy; I'd have riddled em with bullets. They never could have got me but for the cursed drink. I had a good many nips with old Mrs. Kelly, who put up a bottle of schnapps into my pocket and on the road I had several swigs of the neat stuff. Then I stopped at the Quinns' shanty and got drunk. The mare I was riding knew the
way and carried me safely up the steep pass leading to my mia-mia with more care
than she had ever done before-she knew there was something amiss with me."
"You didn't suspect any danger."
"I was too drunk. But a short distance
from my camp the mare gave a snort at a disturbance in the bushes and stopped startled. I urged her on, for I thought it was nothing more than a wombat that had been frightened, and didn't trouble to pull
out a revolver. The idea of the po- lice being there never crossed my mind. It was a little camp, quite inaccessible, except by this narrow path,
and was known only to the Kelly boys and tho Quinns and to Kate Kelly, a little girl then, who was my best and truest friend."
Description of Power.
Power was a keen type of Irishman, short and thick-set, with small pigeon-toed feet, very broad chest, short neck, head bent for- ward and down; square face, high cheek bones, and small, penetrating light-blue eyes. His complexion was sallow, and his hair brown to grey, and he bore two marked scars, one over the right eyebrow, and an- other on the right cheek.
He was born at Waterford, Ireland, In 1819, while his father was gamekeeper to the Marquis of Waterford. His horseman- ship from an early age gave his legs their bowed shape, and maybe it had something
to do with his undersize-5ft. 6¼in., weight 10st. 10lb. This is from the Pentridge re- cord particulars of him.
Apropos of these facts, Mr. John Taylor, J.P., Kilmore, wrote to the Australian magazine, "Life" in November issue de- scribing Harry Power when he saw him in the Kilmore Gaol, as "A handsome, florid, young man, tall and well made."
Mr. Taylor must have been mistaken in the prisoner he took for' Power, for in stating further that the bushranger was "gentlemanly in manner" he never made a greater mistake. Harry was a very rough
diamond, and no ono knew it better than myself, after being some months in his company. As a boy, he learned little. The comparatively few months he was at school only served him for the very juvenile class. It was not the parents' fault, as he prefer- red playing the truant to attending school, or, rather, the apology for a school, in Ire- land in the eighteen-twenties and thirties.
Wouldn't Learn Anything.
Unlike the great majority in Ireland at that time, the father was able to pay for the son, but the boy was obviously recreant, had a palpable leaning to a wild life, and was determined to follow it up. If he ever had any fancy for work, it was among horses, or more or less associated with them. Tried at the saddlery trade, he showed ap- preciation of it, and became an apprentice. While he stuck to it he learned a good deal, and probably might have done well as a saddler, but for the yearning to be out in
the fields with huntsmen.
This longing caused him desertion of ap- prenticeship, and the more liberty he had
the worse he became. The father had his
time so fully occupied that the boy was al- lowed to run his own course. He did so to
his destruction. He stole a saddle and bridle, and in trying to make for the nearest port in order to get across to London, was arrested, convicted, and sent out with a shipload of criminals. That is his version of it. The "Isabella" is the name of the
ship given in the police records, still it is a question if there was a convict ship of that name. My own opinion is that Power, who used the name ot Johnston for some time, wilfully misled the gaol authorities.
A Sister's Influence.
Much of his early lifo in Victoria he sup- pressed at the urgent wish of his sister. Once or twice he went dangerously close to opening his mouth freely, and might have told me a lot we would like to know of his career, but the widowed sister then living at Oakleigh, where she owned property, made it her special business to keep a tight hold on him, and always stopped his chatter at the most important time to me. They had some sharp whisperings at times as to what he should and should not say, and al- together it was an irksome task to get any-
thing like connected stories from him in well-known sticking-up cases. His cunning and duplicity were astonishing, and between
the two my patience was severely tried.
The moment the sister interfered with a
"You mustn't tell him all about that affair," he would shut up like an oyster, strike off at a tangent on a Pentridge-learned ro- mance, and talk volubly on a subject of no interest whatever. It was impossible to pin him down on some matters. Still, I contriv- ed to get a great deal of information from him of a verifiable nature, but the trouble
and time involved made the game "not worth the candle" in the direction of carry- ing out the original idea as proposed by
The Expense aud Trouble.
It never struck me in going to the ex- pense I had incurred for a few months af-
ter his release, that the sister could exer- cise so much influence over him, and I con- cluded there must be something very seri- ous in both their lives that she was afraid of
coming to light. How and why she came to Australia I never asked and didn't want to know. Her affairs could not be of any pub- lic interest. No amount of persuasion could shake her off. She wouldn't leave him, and when he was not stopping at Oakleigh un- der her roof they took lodgings in King- street, opposite the Flagstaff Gardens.
Power seemed to know every spot about that part of Melbourne, and was in his element trying to catch birds. His bush life, knowledge of birds, grasses, and trees, were in marked contrast with any desire to move about the heart of the city. Crowded streets had no interest for him,
and the shop Windows, excepting the gun
and ammunition stores, bored him dreadful- ly. Queen-street was his rendezvous. Every week day he could be found outside the late Sir Wm. Clarke's office there, waiting for the baronet, whom he regarded as his only friend, and to whom he was looking for easy employment on one or other of
Sir William Clarke and Power.
Sir William gave him carte blanche to suit himself on any of his properties, and he selected the one nearest Melbourne at Bald Hills, where he filled in his time trapping and shooting rabbits. He was delighted with his quarters, and wrote me regularly of his doings and of Sir William's kindness. It was just the life he wanted in his declining years. In his last letter to me prior to my leaving Melbourne, he expressed his con- tent and happiness surrounded by every ne- cessity and all he could wish, adding that he "hoped nothing would happen to disturb his peace, and that he might end his days
(To be Continued.)