FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE
FOR THE TERM OF HIS NATURAL LIFE
SIR CHARLES GAVAN DUFFY
My Dear Sir Charles I take leave to dedicate this work to you
not merely because your nineteen years of political and literary life
in Australia render it very fitting that any work written
by a resident in the colonies and having to do with the history
of past colonial days should bear your name upon its dedicatory page;
but because the publication of my book is due to your advice
The convict of fiction has been hitherto shown only at the beginning
or at the end of his career. Either his exile has been the mysterious end
to his misdeeds or he has appeared upon the scene to claim interest
by reason of an equally unintelligible love of crime acquired
during his experience in a penal settlement. Charles Reade has drawn
the interior of a house of correction in England and Victor Hugo
has shown how a French convict fares after the fulfilment of his sentence.
But no writer--so far as I am aware--has attempted to depict
the dismal condition of a felon during his term of transportation.
I have endeavoured in "His Natural Life" to set forth the working
and the results of an English system of transportation carefully considered
and carried out under official supervision; and to illustrate
in the manner best calculated as I think to attract general attention
the inexpediency of again allowing offenders against the law to be
herded together in places remote from the wholesome influence
of public opinion and to be submitted to a discipline which must
necessarily depend for its just administration upon the personal character
and temper of their gaolers.
Your critical faculty will doubtless find in the construction
and artistic working of this book many faults. I do not think
however that you will discover any exaggerations. Some of the events
narrated are doubtless tragic and terrible; but I hold it needful
to my purpose to record them for they are events which have
actually occurred and which if the blunders which produced them
be repeated must infallibly occur again. It is true that
the British Government have ceased to deport the criminals of England
but the method of punishment of which that deportation was a part
is still in existence. Port Blair is a Port Arthur filled
with Indian-men instead of Englishmen; and within the last year
France has established at New Caledonia a penal settlement which will
in the natural course of things repeat in its annals the history
of Macquarie Harbour and of Norfolk Island.
With this brief preface I beg you to accept this work.
I would that its merits were equal either to your kindness or to my regard.
My dear Sir Charles
THE PUBLIC LIBRARY MELBOURNE
BOOK I.--THE SEA. 1827.
I. THE PRISON SHIP
II. SARAH PURFOY
III. THE MONOTONY BREAKS
IV. THE HOSPITAL
V. THE BARRACOON
VI. THE FATE OF THE "HYDASPES"
VII. TYPHUS FEVER
VIII. A DANGEROUS CRISIS
IX. WOMAN'S WEAPONS
X. EIGHT BELLS
XI. DISCOVERIES AND CONFESSIONS
XII. A NEWSPAPER PARAGRAPH
BOOK II.--MACQUARIE HARBOUR. 1833.
I. THE TOPOGRAPHY OF VAN DIEMEN'S LAND
II. THE SOLITARY OF "HELL'S GATES"
III. A SOCIAL EVENING
IV. THE BOLTER
VI. A LEAP IN THE DARK
VII. THE LAST OF MACQUARIE HARBOUR
VIII. THE POWER OF THE WILDERNESS
IX. THE SEIZURE OF THE "OSPREY"
X. JOHN REX'S REVENGE
XI. LEFT AT "HELL'S GATES"
XII. "MR." DAWES
XIII. WHAT THE SEAWEED SUGGESTED
XIV. A WONDERFUL DAY'S WORK
XV. THE CORACLE
XVI. THE WRITING ON THE SAND
XVII. AT SEA