To the Editor of the Argus,
Sir—,Your correspondent, "A. R.," suggests that somebody who may be in possession of the requisite data should give the public a
narrative of Melville's "exploits." The rea- son he assigns for this is that it would go far ' towards counteracting the unhealthy feeling
which at present exists in his favour. I can- not help thinking it would have precisely the opposite effect. For instance, here is one of his exploits, which might be offered as a con- tribution to the narrative proposed by your correspondent, "A. R."
Melville was once "stuck-up" himself by bushrangers, and robbed. The circumstances are simply these, for which I have good authority:—Melville determined to rob a certain party of travellers. He wanted as- sistance, but would not take old chums, because he wished it to be done without loss of life, or personal injury, if it could be avoided. He therefore chose two men whom he considered to be new hands. The robbery was effected, and the share of each of the three was £90. His companions had at- tempted violence upon the disarmed travel- lers, but Melville having prevented them some words ensued. After it was all over, they taunted him with absurd weakness for not using his pistol, and finally abused his horse, offering to lay a bet of five pounds that the horse would not stand fire. Done!'' said Melville, and bang went his pistol in front of his horse's head. The horse never moved; but the two men in- stantly threw themselves upon Melville (for
they were really old convicts), and, having robbed him of his share of the booty, they made off through the bush, taking his horse with them.
Melville hurried to a shepherd's hut, and, bursting in upon the shepherd, presented his unloaded pistol at his head, and demanded a horse. The man, expecting instant death, declared that he had not got one, but that his master would be there shortly, mounted on a very fine horse. 'Melville retired to a hiding-place by the side of the bush-road. The expected settler soon arrived, and Melville darted out upon him with his un- loaded pistol, swearing he would blow his brains out if he did not immediately give up his horse. The settler, fully believing he had not a moment to live if he resisted, not only gave up his horse, but a revolver, which the practised hand of his assailant found secreted in his dress. Away went Melville in pursuit
of his recent friends. On the second day he
came up with them, a contest ensued, which resulted in Melville overpowering them, and he then not only took back his £90, but rob- bed each of them of their £90, by way, if not of a "great moral lesson," at any rate of a "warning." In the course of a few weeks Melville returned the horse and revolver to
the settler, who, I am informed, is still living in one of these colonies, and can corroborate
the foregoing statement if he pleases.
Now, as I believe that a good many stories of this class would be comprised in any au- thentic narrative of the exploits of the convict Melville, and as I consider that the tendency of these would not produce a "healthy effect," I must say that I trust no such book will be printed. Of course everybody would read it with great interest, and "here and there" we should find that the seed had been sown in a very fertile soil for the growth of evil.
The really interesting "exploit " which this condemned bushranger has performed,—far beyond his solution of problems in Euclid, or even, his translation of certain chapters of Scripture into the language of the impracti- cable aborigines, an exploit requiring; a clearer head, and, perhaps, yet stronger nerves than any of his dark plots and robberies,—is the speech in which he laid
bare the "secrets of his prison-house," and , struck the strongest possible blow, not at in- dividuals, but at a false system of penal esta- blishments which permits of cruelty, which substantiates the law's revenge, and shuts out the light of hope yet more entirely than the light of Heaven. A reform of these things will surely follow, and future chronicles will record the name of the condemned convict Melville, not for his bushranging exploits, but because he was an instrument in the hands of Providence of bringing about a
humane and wise revision of our penal in-
I am. Sir, your obedient servant.
RICHARD H. HORNE.
[Our correspondent, Mr. Horne, does not state what the "good authority" is, upon which the above story of Melville's exploit
rests. We too have heard the same tale, and we believe we are warranted in saying that it
has no better foundation than the
word of Melville himself. Vanity is one of the most marked features of this man's cha-
racter, and it can excite no surprise that he
should endeavour to invest his crimes with an air of romance. But what reliance can be placed on his statements; It is a narra tive of a very different kind, told in the unadorned language of the Gazette and the Calendar that our correspondent A, R. desires to hear,—ED. A]