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part, to perceive that their own interest (which is the only consideration they are expected to attend to) lies in the same direction. They will derive most profit from their servants, by keeping them as much as possible in a cheerful and contented state, even at the expense of connivance at many vices, and of so much indulgence as it would not, in this country, be worth. any master's while to grant, when he might turn away an indifferent servant and hire another. The master of the convictservants would indeed be glad, for his own profit, to exact from them the utmost reasonable amount of labour, and to maintain them in a style of frugality equal to, or even beyond that of a labourer in England: but he will be sure to find that the attempt to accomplish this would defeat his own object; and he will be satisfied to realize such pro6t as is within reach. He will find that a labourer who does much less work than would be requisite, here, to earn the scantiest subsistence, and who yet is incomparably better fed than the best English labourer, does yet (on account of the great value of labour) bring a considerable profit to his master; though to employ such a labourer on such terms, would, in England, be a loss instead of a profit . It answers to him, therefore, to acquiesce in anything short of the most gross idleness and extravagance, for the sake of keeping his slave (for after all it is best to call things by their true names) in tolerably good humour, rather than resort to the troublesome expedient of coercion, which might be attended with risk to his person or property from an ill-disposed character, and at any rate would be likely to make such a servant sulky, perverse, and wilfully neglectful. 'To give some idea of the serious loss of time, as well as of the great trouble caused by being far removed from a magistrate alone, I need only state, that when a convict-servant misconducts himself, the settler must either send the vagabond to the nearest magistrate, not improbably some thirty or forty miles distant, or he must overlook the offence.''
'It may easily be conceived, therefore, what indulgent treatment most of the convicts are likely to receive, even from the more respectable class of settlers. As for the large proportion, who are themselves very little different in character, tastes, and habits, from their convict-servants, they may be expected usually
Excursions in New South Wales, by Lieutenant Breton.
to live (as the travellers who have described the colony assure us they do) on terms of almost perfect equality with them, associating with them as boon-companions. But, to say nothing of these, the more respectable settlers will be led, by a regard for their own interest, to what is called the humane treatment of their servants; that is, to endeavour to place all those in their employ who are not much worse than such as, in this country, few would think it worth while to employ at all, in a better situation than the most industrious labourers in England.
* Now, it is evident that the very reverse of this procedure is suitable for a house of correction,—a place of punishment. And it is no less evident that a Governor must be led both by his feelings,—by his regard for his own ease,—and by his wish for popularity with all descriptions of persons around him, as well as by his regard for the prosperity of the colony, to sacrifice to that object the primary and most important one,—of making transportation, properly, a penalty. We can seldom expect to find a Governor (much less a succession of Governors) willing, when a choice is proposed of two objects at variance with each other, to prefer the situation of keeper of a house of correction, to that of a Governor of a flourishing colony. The utmost we can expect is to find now and then one, crippling the measures of his predecessors and of his successors, by such efforts to secure both objects as will be most likely to defeat both. But the individual settlers, to whom is intrusted the chief part of the detail of the system, are not (like the Governor) even called on by any requisition of duty, to pay any attention to the most important part of that system. They are not even required to think of anything but their own interest. The punishment and the reformation of convicts are only incidental results. It is trusted that the settler's regard for his own interest will make him exact hard labour and good conduct from the servants assigned to him. But if indulgence is (as we have seen) likely to answer his purpose better than rigid discipline, he cannot even be upbraided with any breach of duty in resorting to it .
'Of the many extraordinary features in this most marvellous specimen of legislation, it is one of the most paradoxical, that it intrusts a most important public service, in reference to the IJritish nation, to men who are neither selected out of this nation on account of any supposed fitness to discharge it, nor even taught to consider that they have any public duty to perform. Even in the most negligently-governed communities, the keeper of a house of correction is always, professedly at least, selected with some view to his integrity, discretion, firmness, and other qualifications; and however ill the selection may be conducted, he is at least taught to consider himself intrusted, for the public benefit, with an office which it is his duty to discharge on public grounds. However imperfectly all this may be accomplished, few persons would deny that it is, and ought to be, at least, aimed at. But this is not the case in the land of ornithorhynckus paradoxus and of other paradoxes. There, each settler is, as far as his own household is concerned, the keeper of a house of correction. To him, so far, is intrusted the punishment and the reformation of criminals. But he is not even called upon to look to these objects, except as they may incidentally further his own interest. He is neither expected nor exhorted to regulate his treatment of convicts with a view to the diminution of crime in the British Isles, but to the profits of his farm in Australia.
'It is true, the settler may sometimes be, like other men, actuated by other feelings besides a regard to profit: but these feelings are not likely to be those of public spirit. When the convict does suffer hard usage, it is not much to be expected that this will be inflicted with a view to strike terror into offenders in Great Britain, or to effect any other salutary end of punishment. His treatment is likely to depend not so much on the character of the crime for which he was condemned, as on the character of his master. Accordingly, Colonel Arthur (p. 3), in enlarging on the miseries to which a convict is subjected, makes prominent mention of this, that 'he is conveyed to a distant country, in the condition of a slave, and assigned to an unknown master, whose disposition, temper, and even caprice, he must consult at every turn, and submit to every moment.'
'Colonel Arthur (p. 23) falls into an inaccuracy of language which tends to keep out of sight a most important practical distinction. He says: 'With regard to the fact that convicts are treated as slaves, any difficulty that can be raised upon it must hold good whenever penitentiary or prison discipline is inflicted.' If by a 'slave' be meant anyone who is subjected to the control of another, this is true. But the word is not in general thus applied. It is not usual to speak of children as slaves to their schoolmasters, or to their parents; or of prisoners
being slaves of the jailer; or soldiers of their officers. By
slaves we generally understand, persons whom their master compels to work for his own benefit. And in this sense Colonel Arthur himself (p. 2) applies the term (I think very properly) to the assigned convict-servants.
* It is observed by Homer, in the person of one of his characters in the Odyssey, that 'a man loses half his virtue the day that he becomes a slave;' he might have added with truth, that he is likely to lose more than half when he becomes a slave-master. And if the convict-servants and their masters have any virtue to lose, no system could have been devised more effectual for divesting them of it. Even the regular official jailers, and governors of penitentiaries, are in danger of becoming brutalized, unless originally men of firm good principle. And great wisdom in the contrivance of a penitentiarysystem, and care in the conduct of it, are requisite, to prevent the hardening and debasing of the prisoners. But when both the superintendent and the convicts feel that they are held in bondage, and kept to work by him, not from any views of public duty, but avowedly for his individual advantage, nothing can be imagined more demoralizing to both parties.
'Among all the extravagances that are recorded of capricious and half-insane despots in times of ancient barbarism, I do not remember any instance mentioned, of any one of these having thought of so mischievously absurd a project as that of forming a new nation, consisting of criminals and executioners.
'But had such a tyrant existed, as should not only have devised such a plan, but should bave insisted on his subjects believing that a good moral effect would result from the intimate association together, in idleness, of several hundreds of reprobates, of various degrees of guilt, during a voyage of four or five months, and their subsequent assignment as slaves to various masters, under such a system as that just alluded to, it would have been doubted whether the mischievous insanity of wanton despotism could go a step beyond this. Another step however there is; and this is, the pretence of thus benefiting and civilizing the Aborigines! Surely those who expect the men of our hemisphere to believe all this, must suppose us to entertain the ancient notion of the vulgar, that the AntipoSa are people among whom everything is reversed. The mode of civilization practised, is of a piece with the rest.
'They have (says one of the writers on the Colony) been wantonly butchered; and some of the christian (?) whites consider it a pastime to go out and shoot them. I questioned a person from Port Stephens concerning the disputes with the Aborigines of that part of the colony, and asked him if he, or any of his companions, had ever come into collision with them; as I had heard there prevailed much enmity between the latter and the people belonging to the establishment? His answer was, 'Oh, we used to shoot them like fun!' It would have been a satisfaction to have seen such a heartless ruffian in an archery ground, with about a score of expert archers at a fair distance from him, if only to witness how well he would personify the representations of St . Sebastian. This man was a shrewd mechanic, and had been some years at Port Stephens. If such people consider the life of a black of so little value, how is it to be wondered at if the convict3 entertain the same opinion? It is to be hoped that the practice of shooting them is at an end; but they are still subjected to annoyance from the stockkeepers, who take their women, and do them various injuries besides.'1
'But to waive for the present all discussion of the moral effects on the settlers, likely to result from the system, let it be supposed that the labour of convicts may be so employed as to advance the prosperity of the colony, and let it only be remembered that this object is likely to be pursued both by governors and settlers, at the expense of the other far more important one, which is inconsistent with it the welfare of the mothercountry, in respect of the repression of crime. This one consideration, apart from all others, would alone be decisive against transportation as a mode of punishment; since even if the system could be made efficient for that object, supposing it to he well administered with a view to that, there is a moral certainty that it never will be so administered.
'If there be, as some have suggested, a certain description
1 JSretun, p. 200.