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MORE than sixty years ago, while the
eloquent pleadings of Edmund Burke for the
oppressed Hindoos, and the grand declamation
of Charles James Fox, in defence of rights of
speech, of persons, and of printing, which all
parties in the state now acknowledge, were
yet ringing in the ears of our fathers; when
the pious labours of Howard to abate the
filth, the fever, and the tyranny of prisons, had
just been closed by death; and when Clarkson
and Wilberforce were in the midst of their
life-long endeavours to put down traffic in
human flesh, and to free the negro from the
fetter and the lash,—in those times, at the
Antipodes, on the barren shores of a vast
unexplored island, a great jail was formed,
walled in by the sea and trackless forests,
and a coloriy was founded; where, for a
quarter of a century, absolute irresponsible
despotism prevailed; where, unquestioned
cruelties and tortures were practised, as fearful
as any that Howard ever discovered in
Venice or Russia. The jailers and the prisoners,
the governors and the colonists, being
not Negroes, or Hindoos, or Turks, or Russian
semi- barbarians but "free-born English-
men," as they boasted in their cups.

The first settlement in Australiaplanted in
1788, on a promontory of the splendid harbour
of Port Jackson, where now the city of Sydney,
with its sixty thousand inhabitants, stands
was composed of a few military and naval
officers, commanding a small body of troops,
intended to guard and govern about one
thousand two hundred convicts. Before any
reports could reach the home Government on.
the capabilities of the soil for supporting a
population, ship after ship was despatched there,
laden with miserable wretches of all degrees
of crime, from the most venial to the blackest
offenders. Hardened ruffians of the deepest
dye were chained hand to hand, during a six
months' voyage, with simple country poachers,
pickpockets of tender age, and sailor
smugglers. When ships were to be filled, the
Jonathan Wildes of the day made a clean
sweep of the streets and taverns, where the
friendless as well as the guilty were to be
found congregated. As to the prisons, the
investigations of Howard tended not a little
to bring transportation to the new colony into
favour with country magistrates, Welsh and
Irish judges, and the recorders and aldermen
of the City of London.

Transportation, which had been so
inconveniently interrupted by the American war,
shovelled the wretches sixteen thousand miles
off, out of sight and out of hearing, to a land
where there was neither press nor parliament,
demagogue nor philanthropist. What became
of them afterwards, few cared; none knew.
At Botany Bayas the settlement was
popularly called, although Botany Bay bears
the same relation to Sydney that the Isle of
Dogs does to Londonthe Governor was, for
twenty-five years, an autocrat; he had every
power except that of condemning to death,
which required the assent of a sort of court-
martial. He could pardon any criminal; or
he could order him five hundred lashes; or
he could fine him five hundred pounds. He
could bestow a grant of land, create a monopoly
of imports, fix the price of provisions and
the rate of wages. A series of Governors (of
the good old sort)  exercised all these powers
very freely.

If flogging, pillorying, starving, and hanging,
administered without stint and with great
celerity, could have reformed the cargoes
of criminals nvho were poured forth, often
in a dying state, on the shores of Sydney
Cove, the colony would soon have become
perfectly virtuous: but, discipline, classification,
education, religious example, and
teaching, were considered quite needless.
One chaplain, of whose ministry the less
said the better, had the nominal charge of
some thousand prisoners of various sects,
about one third Irish Roman Catholic rebels
and Whiteboys. These were assembled
occasionally on Sundays in the open air, beneath
a broiling sun, or under heavy rains, for the
form of worship. Reading the penal regulations
always concluded the service. Many
years elapsed before it was considered worth
while to build a church.

There was no classification of prisoners,
except with a reference to their utility to the
upper-class officials; so, any person capable of
supporting himself received immediate liberty
on landing. The overseers were prisoners,
selected chiefly for their bodily strength. The
greatest brute was, therefore, the best overseer.
Notwithstanding every effort to acquire