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close; the country is not disposed to listen to any complaini as to the manner in which it was undertaken. The settlement of the dispute with China promised to be an easy piece of business. The peace party were everywhere overthrown. No one could well have anticipated that within less than a year from the general election a motion made in the House of Commons by one whom it unseated, was to compel the government of Lord Palmerston suddenly to resign office.
"HE year 1857 would have been 'memorable, if for no
of transportation. Transportation as a means of getting rid of part of our criminal population dates from the time of Charles II, when the judges gave power for the removal of offenders to the North American colonies. The fiction of the years coming immediately after took account of this innovation, and one of the most celebrated, if not exactly one of the finest, of Defoe's novels deals with the history of a convict thus sent out to Virginia. Afterward the revolt of the American colonies and other cases made it necessary to send convicts farther away from civiization. The punishment of transportation was first regularly introduced into our criminal law in 1717 by an act of Parliament. In 1787 a cargo of criminals was shipped out to Botany Bay, on the eastern shore of New South Wales, and near Sydney, the present thriving capital of the colony. Afterward the convicts were also sent to Van Diemen's Land, or Tasmania; and to Norfolk Island, a lonely island in the Pacific, some eight hundred miles from the New South Wales shore. Norfolk Island became the penal settlement for the convicted among convicts; that is to say, criminals, who, after transportation to New South Wales commited new crimes there, might be sent by the colonial authorities for sterner punishment to Norfolk Island.
Nothing can seem on the face of it a more satisfactory way of disposing of criminals than the system of transportation. In the first place it got rid of them, so far as the people at home were concerned ; and for a long time that was about all that the people at home cared. Thos who had committed crimes not bad enough to be disposed of by the simple and efficient operation of the gallows, were got rid of in a manner almost as prompt and effective by the plan of sending them out in shiploads to America or to Australia. It looked, too, as if the system ought to be satisfactory in every way and to everybody. The convicts were provided with a new career, a new country, and a chance of reforma. tion. They were usually after a while released from actua) durance in the penal settlement, and allowed conditionally to find employment, and to make themselves, if they could, good citizens. Their labor, it was thought, would be of great service to the colonists. The Act of 1717 recited that “in many of His Majesty's colonies and plantations in America there was great want of servants who, by their labor and industry, might be the means of improving and making the said colonies and plantations more useful to this nation." At that time statesmen only thought of the utility of the colonies to this nation. Philanthropy might therefore beguile itself with the belief that the transportation system was a benefit to the transported as well as to those among whom they were sent. But the colonists very soon began to complain. The convicts who had spent their period of probation in hulks of prisons generally left those homes of horror with natures so brutalized as to make their intrusion into a community of decent persons an insufferable nuisance. Pent up in penal settlements by themselves, the convicts turned into demons; drafted into an inhabited colony, they were too numerous to be wholly absorbed by the population, and they carried their contagion along with them. New South Wales began to protest against their presence. Lord
John Russell, when Secretary for the colonies in 1840. ordered that no more of the criminal refuse should be carted out to that region. Then Tasmania had them all to herself for a while. Lord Stanley, when he came to be at the head of the colonial office, made an order that the free settlers of Tasmania were not to obtain convict labor at any lower rates than the ordinary market price; and Tasmania had only put up with the presence of the convicts at all for the sake of getting their labor cheap. Tasmania, therefore, began to protest against being made the refuse-ground for our scoundrelism. Mr. Gladstone, while Colonial Secretary, suspended the whole system for a while but it was renewed soon after.
Sir George Grey endeavored to make the Cape of Good Hope a receptacle for a number of picked convicts; but in 1849 the inhabitants of Cape Colony absolutely refused to allow a shipload of criminals to be discharged upon their shores and it was manifestly impossible to compel them to receive such disagreeable guests. By this time public opinion in England was ready to sympathize to the full with any colony which stood out against the degrading system. For a long time there had been growing up a conviction that the transportation system carried intolerable evils with it. Romilly and Bentham had condemned it long before. In 1837 a Committee of the House of Commons was appointed to consider and report on the system. The committee included Lord John Russell, Sir Robert Peel, Charles Buller, Sir. W. Molesworth, and Lord Howick, afterward Earl Grey. The evidence they collected settled the question in the minds of all thinking men. The Rev. Walter Clay, son of the famous prison chaplain, Rev. John Clay, says in his memoirs of his father that probably no volume was ever published in England of which the contents were so loathsome as those of the appendix to the committee's report. There is not much exaggeration in this. The reader must
be left to imagine for himself some of the horrors which would be disclosed by a minute account of what happened in a penal den like Norfolk Island, where a number of utterly brutalized men were left to herd together without arything like beneficial control, without homes, and without the society of women. In Norfolk Island the convicts worked in chains. They were roused at daylignt in the morning, and turned out to labor in their irons, and huddled back in their dens at night. In some rare cases convicts were sent directly from England to Norfolk Island; but as a rule the island was kept as a place of punishment for criminals who, already convicted in the mother country, were found guilty of new crimes during their residence in New South Wales.
The condition of things in New South Wales was such as civilization has not often seen. In Sydney especially it was extraordinary. When the convicts were sent out to the colony they received each in turn, after a certain period of penal probation, a conditional freedom ; in other words a ticket of leave. They were allowed to work for the colonists and to support themselves. Any one who wanted laborers or artisans or servants could apply to the authorities and have convicts assigned to him for the purpose. Female convicts as well as male were thus employed. There was, therefore, a large number of convicts, men and women, moving about freely in the active life of Sydney, doing business, working in trades, performing domestic service; to all appearance occupying the place that artisans and laborers and servants occupy among ourselves. But there was a profound difference. The convict laborers and servants were in reality little better than slaves. They were assigned to masters and mistresses, and they had to work. Stern laws were enacted, and were no doubt required, to keep those terrible subordinates in order. The lash was employed to discipline the men; the women were practically unmanageable. The magistrates had the power, on the complaint of any master