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Title: Two Voyages to New South Wales and Van Diemen's Land

Author: Thomas Reid

Release Date: December 1, 2016 [EBook #53643]

Language: English

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“He who thinks he sees many around him, whom he esteems and loves, labouring under a fatal error, must have a cold heart, or a most confined notion of benevolence, if he could withhold his endeavours to set them right, from an apprehension of incurring the imputation of officiousness.”-—Wilberforce.





My late voyage in the Morley, female convict ship, having been undertaken chiefly at your instance; an account of it could not with propriety, in my opinion, be addressed to any person but yourself. A faithful relation of every circumstance connected with the voyage has rendered occasional mention of your name unavoidable, for which I have to entreat your indulgence. In soliciting your protection to the following pages, I am anxious to secure for them an attention and respect which, perhaps, their own intrinsic merit could not justly claim: of their object few are better qualified to judge than you are, and certainly none will feel a livelier interest in promoting it.

ivMuch of your valuable time has been devoted to the cause of humanity; and the results of your efforts, with those of your amiable coadjutors, need no assistance from the journalist or historian to give them durability; they live in the grateful hearts of those who were blest with your salutary instructions: and from the solicitude evinced by many of those unfortunate persons, as I have often seen, to impress this feeling on the pliant minds of their children, it is not, I think, presuming too much to say that it will be cultivated and cherished, in distant parts of the world, by generations yet unborn.

To appreciate duly the benevolent and happy labours of the Ladies’ Committee, one must have witnessed human misery in its pitiable extremes; in all the pollution and loathsomeness of the licentious gaol; and patiently contemplated the benign influence of moral precept, meliorating such condition, as reflected in the melting heart and the hallowed tear of the sincere penitent, retracing the devious path that first led from innocence and peace.

Admiration of that zeal which urged you, regardless of all personal inconvenience, to explore the long neglected recesses of the friendless prison; to awaken the minds of its forlorn inmates; to rouse the dormant vprinciples of virtue; to teach them to reflect;—and veneration for that unwearied philanthropy which has lifted from despair so many drooping hearts; impelled me to give your grand experiment a fair trial; to prove how far the system of kindness and confidence, so auspiciously commenced in Newgate, could be made to answer under other circumstances. Accordingly, the measures employed in the Morley were, as nearly as possible, the same as those used by the Committee; with what success, it is not for me to determine. If however, it be found that my observations, as detailed in the present volume, should contribute in any degree to facilitate the truly Christian design of the Committee, it will afford me lasting satisfaction to know that my endeavours have not been in vain.

I remain,
Your faithful servant,


The general state and condition of those unfortunate persons whose crimes had brought them under the severe cognisance and judgement of the laws, and whose lives only had been spared by the late happily increasing liberality of modern opinion and feeling, have for a long series of years occupied little public attention. Those, indeed, who bestowed any thought at all upon the final treatment of convicts, viewing the provision made for safely securing them on board of Hulks, or within the walls of Houses of Correction, or having them afterwards removed altogether to remote countries, thus restrained apart from general society for a certain time, and so long withheld at least from depredation, seem to have indulged with a degree of selfishness in the idea of personal security only as affecting themselves, or at most as extending to the other branches of the community. It seems to have appeared to the minds of such people, quite generous enough that the offender’s absolute wants were provided for, and that all was effected when he was put out of the way of doing further harm: beyond viiithat, the condition of the convict was without consideration[1].

Who can fail to observe without pleasurable emotion and interest, that a far different spirit is now stirring in the minds of mankind, and that the times have become happily enlightened, not by the dissemination of irreligious, under pretended philosophical principles, but in the diffusion of Christian truth and knowledge? The present age will ever be distinguished by the temperate, disinterested, and steady efforts made to communicate to the great mass of the population the blessings of Gospel instruction; and in the forcible ixexample of persons in elevated life, on every public occasion, attended with important advantages; and under the auspices of some members of the present Administration, who have lent the aid of power to this great undertaking, the all-interesting cause of morality is firmly and rapidly advancing. It is not for the writer of this, perhaps, to indulge in eulogium, though, in the present instance, the cause would strongly invite to grateful and liberal expression.

The same benevolence which shed a ray of celestial light over the poor African’s horizon, has also held up the Gospel beacon to the benighted sinner of its own climes, and forbidden despair. Mercy, commuting capital punishment for transportation, had snatched the criminals from the vengeance of the statute law; and it then became matter of inquiry, whether imprisonment in Hulks, or Houses of Correction, or mere transmission to distant colonies, was not the ultimate and only good, which, in due regard to the permanent security of society, could be fitly provided for those degraded and unhappy persons. But that wakeful care which ever attends the proceedings of the truly good, sought out with anxiety a further means of relieving their miserable condition; and thus that useful employment on board the Hulks, and, latterly, a better regulated management in the Houses of Correction, have originated and tended to produce the present visible beneficial effects.

The societies for the propagation of the Scriptures, xand of moral and religious tracts, have opened the ready means of putting useful publications into the hands of the prisoners, which have also so much tended to soften down their obduracy, and generally to meliorate their disposition and manners. The lot of the convicts meanwhile under sentence of transportation was not quite so happy.

Cooped up in prison, waiting for the period at which they were to be shipped off, these hapless creatures of either sex remained immersed in all the turpid influence of that guilt which had brought them to such a state, and still wholly occupied their minds. The listlessness of mind resulting from their escape of capital punishment, the dreadful suspense of death removed, and their poignant oscillations of hope and fear subsided, produced a calm and satisfaction bordering on pleasure; and to the unrestrained indulgence of this they freely gave way. But their thoughts long inured in the ways of wickedness, and too willingly withdrawn from reflection on their recent danger, presented no other mental employment than again traversing in idea the schemes they had practised, the gains they had successfully secured, and the merry scenes which those guilty gains enabled them to enjoy. No friendly counsel was near to hold up to their view the enormity of their crimes; even the humane admonitions of the venerable judge who found relief in assigning to their offences the mild punishment of transportation,—all was forgotten where no sort of xiindustrious employment was found to fill up the wasteful vacuum of imprisonment till the time of their departure.

Their conversation and conduct became thus daily more depraved and corrupt. The same inclination to riot and licentiousness continued unabated, and in most instances seemed refined to a more subtle and pernicious degree. The voice of admonition, if its warnings reached them, was received with insult or contemptuous derision; and every means and opportunity was sought for the indulgence of the wildest depravity. The suggestion of religious reflection only excited impious raillery, or blasphemous mockery; and in this polluted state did they remain contaminating and corrupting each other, until the order from Government ultimately came for their departure.

This was an event always desired by the keepers, yet in a certain degree dreaded on account of the disorders which the convicts usually committed on the occasion. It was their practice then to give a fling to all kinds of frantic violence, tearing down every thing within their reach, destroying their beds, breaking the prison windows, and with hideous clamour effecting as much mischief as possible. Handcuffs and chains became indispensable to restrain their fury; and thus secured they were conveyed on board the transport ship, in a manner truly more like ferocious wild beasts than human beings. This latter regulation was invariably observed in male convict ships, and has never yet been departed from. With regard to xiifemale convicts, the precaution of a military guard was not thought necessary: yet, in some instances of daring violence, it has been held out as a threat in case of continued non-submission.

In the latter end of 1817, I received orders to take charge of the Neptune, as Surgeon and Superintendent of the male convicts put on board for transportation to New South Wales, and entered on the duties of that situation immediately, though at the time fully aware of its embarrassing and difficult nature. It was indeed generally known and acknowledged, that a convict ship presented such constant scenes of violence, and even systematic insubordination, that the management was not without extreme hazard, while all idea of producing a moral change amongst these unhappy beings was utterly hopeless. This, however, was not a representation capable of causing me to shrink from the attempt: I was strongly actuated by a desire to exert my humble endeavours to put in practice a system which I had devised long before, for bettering the condition of convicts generally; on which account I the more eagerly acted upon the commands of Government.

On my return from this first voyage, I found a great many of my friends and acquaintances anxious to obtain information respecting the general management of convicts during transportation, which the opportunities of ordinary conversation would not permit me fully to satisfy. Glad to observe such interest evinced by persons whose opulence and well-known xiiiworth must give weight and respectability to any cause they may espouse, I determined that my humble mite should not be withheld, where the great and desirable object in view was to meliorate the condition, and to resuscitate the forgotten virtue, of wretched beings, for whom philanthropists had long indulged in feelings of commiseration. I therefore formed the resolution that, whatever inconvenience might arise to my private affairs, from loss of time or otherwise, I would give to the public all the information I had acquired on the subject.

My private representations on this subject having proved to the satisfaction of all those of my friends who find pleasure in doing good, and experience having furnished evidence abundantly, that even convicts are not dead to the feelings of gratitude, or destitute of many other estimable qualities, evincing that vice has not always an indissoluble tie upon the heart, I was very warmly urged to try what could be done towards improving the deplorable condition of female convicts. To this solicitation I consented with the less reluctance, as it would afford the best opportunity of proving unequivocally, to what extent hope might be indulged as to the possibility, from due exertion, of lessening the wretchedness of their lot, and allowing them to become again useful in society. I was influenced also by a desire thus to have the ability of gratifying the promoters of this design, with an impartial account of the management of female as well as male convicts. For this reason only was the account xivof the former voyage deferred, in order that both might appear together before the public, faithfully, in an associated view.

The success which happily attended the measures employed in the Neptune, was sufficiently encouraging to induce me to give a full trial how far a similar system might avail with the females, under such modifications as a regard to their sex, and attention to occasional circumstances, might render necessary. For several years my thoughts had been directed to every investigation that could contribute to the stock of information previously acquired, and consequently assist in the development of vicious principle in some of its most powerful and mischievous ramifications, to be enabled thus possibly to trace it step by step to its primary source. The results of some of these inquiries appeared to me important; and I thought their connexion with the present subject so close, that its interest would be lessened had they all been suppressed. These considerations have led to discussions which at first sight may seem extraneous or irrelevant, such as Seduction, &c.; but I hope, on reflection, the present arrangement will not be found objectionable.

I had been very early in life impressed with the conviction that the bountiful hand of the Creator implants in the mind of man the seeds of virtue, which seldom totally perish during his lifetime, although they may remain long unproductive: an experience of the world more than commonly extensive, perhaps, has every xvday tended to confirm the justness of that conviction. This position I have always considered as involving a question of the first interest to society, whether it be taken in a moral, political, or philosophical point of view; and I hope it is not arrogating too much to say, that the opportunities I have had, opportunities not unimproved, of making observations, give me a claim to form an opinion not wholly without authority.

In the authenticity of the sources whence my information has been derived, and the identity of facts as occurring in real life, thus following with the observations from actual experience, the peculiar merit of the following pages consists, if indeed any merit shall be allowed them. It would afford but little interest to know the difficulties by which I was surrounded, and the many distressing feelings by which I was harassed, during the composition. I may, however, obtain some indulgence from the liberal-minded, by stating, as I can with great truth, that my time was almost incessantly occupied in attendance to professional duties and the avocations of superintendence, with many intervening hours of painful indisposition, and other unavoidable circumstances, during the voyage, by which my thoughts were distracted and attention diverted. The haste with which I was often obliged to write, or lose the impressions of the occasion, leaves me little hope but that incorrectness of style, with rough and inartificial periods, will be exposed occasionally. I beg, however, that it may be distinctly understood, that my opinions have, at least, not been xviformed from crude, superficial, or transient observation; but, on the contrary, are grounded on due application of patient reflection and laborious determination.

Although it may appear that advantage has been taken of the thoughts of some eminent authors, yet it can by no means be admitted that the present work is the offspring of a library. Any one acquainted with the space allotted for the Surgeon’s use in a small convict ship, must know the impossibility of having books of reference always at hand; and even had this want not existed, my time would not allow of consulting them. Many of the quotations are from memory,—some, indeed, of very distant recollection. I am sensible that critical vigilance may find abundant materials for animadversion: nor do I wish that the reader should glance superficially over it; on the contrary, a hope is indulged, that the candid critic will examine its principles minutely, and point out its errors. The frequent mention made of myself, and the introduction of letters written by the convicts of whom I had charge, will incur, perhaps too justly, the imputation of vanity and egotism;—the coarseness of description necessarily used in the sketches made of crime from actual observation, may be censured as improper in a work addressed to a lady;—and the journal will exhibit numerous instances of repetition of the subject; of these objections I was fully aware at the time of writing, but found them unavoidable. I had pledged myself to record facts exactly as they xviioccurred, without decoration or disguise; and in no instance has truth been sacrificed to courtesy or private feeling.

To promote the happiness both temporal and eternal of an unfortunate portion of the community,—a class too long neglected,—is my only aim. In the management of convicts I am not wedded to any particular system; I have described that which at present appears to me preferable, and I believe I may fairly consider it my own, no other, so far as I know, having been proposed or acted on before: but if any one will bring forward a better, so far from regarding him with an eye of jealousy as a rival, I shall hail him as a fellow-labourer, a benefactor, and a friend.

Without further trespassing on the reader’s patience, the following sheets are now submitted, with all due deference, to public revision. My object is to excite inquiry, and draw to the subject the attention of those who can command the means of redressing the evils pointed out, a task which every good man, surely, will consider of vital importance to the morals and happiness of the community. Animated with a wish only to be useful in the humble station in which it has pleased Providence to place me, I shall thankfully acknowledge such improvements as the more extended experience of the benevolent, intelligent, and liberal may henceforth enable them to communicate.

Vigo Lane, Dec. 1821.

1.  xviiiAs there appears a strong coincidence between this opinion and one expressed in the preface to the “Rules for the Government of Gaols,” I beg leave to add an extract from that excellent publication, which appeared in 1820, but had not been seen by me until long after the above was written. “It must be apparent to all who have directed their attention to this subject, that the system of Prison Discipline too generally prevalent in England was confined to a single object, the safe custody of the prisoner; and to one method of accomplishing that object, severe and sometimes unnecessary coercion: if the prisoner could be retained within the walls of a gaol by bars, by chains, or by subterraneous and unventilated dungeons, by the use of any rigour or privation, this plan, aiming only at his personal security, was deemed sufficient: the possibility of reforming the criminal seems never to have been contemplated; no rule was in force, no arrangement existed, which could be referred to such a purpose: the attempt to disengage the culprit from long formed habits of vice, and to rekindle in his breast the latent sparks of virtue, were schemes known indeed by the writings of Howard, but generally regarded as the visionary efforts of an excessive philanthropy.”




Capital punishment, 1. Royal mercy, 2. Origin of transportation, 3. Convicts become settlers in America,—American Revolution, 4. Hulks and houses of correction instituted, 5. First expedition to New South Wales, 6. Colony established, 7. Progressive arrangements, 8. Judicious regulations, 9. Encouragement to convicts,—crimes often committed for the purpose of getting transported, 10. Convicts liberally fed and clothed during the voyage, 11. Victualling scheme, 12. Prison sufficiently roomy, 13. Extra stores, 14. Hospital furniture, 15. Articles of comfort in female ships, 16. Clothing and books provided for children, 17. Military guard allowed too much spirits, 18. Scheme for victualling guard, 19. Convicts’ regret on leaving the ship, 20. Arrangements for juvenile offenders, 21. Efforts to reform them, 22. Many of them grossly ignorant, 23. Effects of previous idleness, 24. Employment considered, 25. Probability of mutiny among convicts considered, 26. Their gratitude and attachment, 27. Ladies’ Committee, 28. Their humane attention to prisoners, 29. School established, 30.


Influence of moral principle, 31. Abstract view of the Convicts’ crimes and characters, 33. Convicts considered irreclaimable, 34. Mutiny in a male convict ship, 35. Insubordination among females, 36. Repentance and reformation, how and when to be aimed at, 37. Regulations, 39. System of management commenced, 40. False alarm of the convicts rising, 41. Religious worship, its apparent effects, 42. Punishment inflicted, 43. Prisoners reconciled xxto their banishment, 44. A school formed for young offenders, 45. Their progress in learning, 47. Inherent love of liberty, 48. Refractory conduct of a sailor, 49. Laws respecting seamen, 51. Relative situation of the guards and prisoners, 52. Soldiers intoxicated, 53. Conduct of their wives, 54. Quarrel between the guards and sailors, 56. Bad behaviour of a convict, 59. Allowance of spirits to the guard recommended to be reduced, 60. Women and children to have none, 61. Improvement among the boys, 62. The convicts generally behave well, 63. Their letter to Lord Sidmouth, 64. Two mutinous seamen discharged, 67. Interview with Lord Charles Somerset, 68. Interview with the Deputy Colonial Secretary, 69. Agent for Transports visits the Neptune, 70. Sixteen convicts are embarked, 71. Apprehensions of disease from this increased number, 72. Official application not noticed, 74. Precautions to prevent communication between the new and old prisoners, 75. The latter generously share their wine with the former, 76. Prisoners express their gratitude for being kindly treated, 77. Neptune’s arrival at Sydney; the convicts write a letter, 79. Governor Macquarie’s opinion of the voyage, 80. Observations in the colony, 81. Departure with dispatches, 82. Loss sustained by a hurricane, 83. Return to England,—letter to Navy Board, 84.


Mrs. Fry’s exertions, 93. Visit to the Morley, 94. Arrangements for a school, 95. Religious books liberally supplied, 96. Regulations, 98. Crimes, 100. Characters, 101. Sentence, 102. Address, 103. Mrs. Pryor visits the convicts, 116. Application to the Secretary of State to permit a convict’s child, above the regular age, to be embarked; which is granted, 118. Convicts appear too familiar with the sailors, 119. Some of the convicts behave ill, 120. Captain Young visits the ship, 122. Mr. Capper’s visit, 123. Bank Solicitor gives five pounds to every woman under sentence for forged notes, 124. The Keeper of Newgate gives half a crown to each convict from that prison, 126. Mrs. Fry visits the ship, and admonishes the prisoners, 127. Improved behaviour of the prisoners, 128. Two ladies and a gentleman visit a young xxiprisoner, to whom they give good advice, 129. Their perilous situation after leaving the ship, 130. Three invalid females removed by order of the Navy Board, 131. Dispatches and sailing-orders arrive; riotous behaviour of some of the convicts, 132. Morley sails, 133. Arrives in the Downs, where the pilot leaves her, 134. Boisterous weather, 135. Address to the convicts after leaving their native country, 138. They request permission to copy it, 156. Death and interment of two convicts’ children, 157. Feelings of the convicts during a violent squall, 159. Inflammatory fever appears among the prisoners, 164. A quarrel, 165. Death of a convict’s child, 166. Great improvement in a convict, produced by employment, 168. Two old enemies become reconciled, 171. Sailors attempt to break into the prison, 172. They threaten to murder one of the women, 173. Captain Brown remonstrates with them, 174. They make another effort to communicate with the women, 175. First prize won, 177. Continued impropriety of the sailors, 179. Second and third prizes won, 182. A violent quarrel between two women, 184. The sailors open a passage into the prison, 187. Exertions of Captain Brown to discover and defeat their purpose, 189. They behave with more caution, 190. Conduct of the chief officer, 191. Capt. Brown musters the refractory sailors, and admonishes them, 193. Effects of keeping watch in the prison, 195. Cooking prevented by rough weather, 196. Conduct of the prisoners from Newgate, 198. A letter, 199. Injury done to the prison, 201. A sermon read by the Rev. Mr. Reddall, 203. A letter from the convicts, 204. Arrival at Van Diemen’s Land, 205. The sailors get four females out of the prison, 207. The Lieutenant Governor visits the ship, 207. A police magistrate and military guard sent on board, 208. Farewell admonition, 210. Humane attention of the Lieutenant Governor to the convicts, 238. Fifty convicts landed, 239. Lieutenant Governor’s certificate, 240. Seven women sent on board the Morley to be conveyed to the Factory at Parramatta on account of bad conduct, 241. Departure from Hobart-Town, 242. The seven females behave well, and receive encouragement, 243. Arrival at Sydney, 245. His Excellency the Governor and the Honourable Commissioner of Inquiry visit the Morley, and inspect the convicts, 246. Convicts are mustered, 247. Progress of the school on board, 248.


The principal Superintendent takes charge of the prisoners, 251. His extensive knowledge, 252. The manner in which the duties of his office are discharged, 253. Convicts readily form connections, 254. Persons of indifferent character chosen to act as turnkeys, 256. Public-houses too numerous, 257. Convicts’ reception at the Factory, 258. Want of order in that establishment, 259. Two women sent back to England, being too bad to remain in the colony, 262. Proposed marriage of a female, 264. Reduced number of public-houses, 266. Little hope of reformation, 268. Manner of disposing of male convicts, and their general condition, 270. Want of regulation in the barrack, 273. Convicts purchase their liberty from their masters, 275. Punishment, 276.


Government contract for the conveyance of convicts, 278. Former manner compared with the present, 281. Difficulty of managing convicts, 283. Surgeon Superintendent unsupported, 284. His numerous duties, 285. Obstacles opposed to his return after landing the convicts, 287. Character of the commanders and medical men in convict ships, 289. The Surgeon Superintendent not allowed a servant, 290. Liability to disagreement between him, the Master, and military officer, 291.


Proposed alteration in prisons, 294. Other opinions, 295. Moral instruction hitherto neglected, 296. State of female prisons further considered: possibility of reformation contended for, 299. Behaviour of the prisoners in the colony, who went out in the Neptune, 301. Employment recommended, 303. Check to population, 304. Proportion of males to females, 305. Unhappy connexions often formed, 306. The assertion that women from xxiiiNewgate behave worse than those from other prisons, examined, 307. State of the rising generation, 311. Formation of Bible and other useful Institutions, 313. Cursory view of the French revolution, 314. Early education recommended, 316. Devotedness of Governor Macquarie to the welfare of the colony, 317. Inaptitude of the Factory establishment to the reformation of its wretched tenants, 318. Alterations suggested, 319. Conclusion, 320.


Influence of the British Constitution, 321. The characters of a felon and seducer, compared, 323. The history of a seducer, from real life, 326. His birth and prospective talent, 328. Education, 329. Character of his travelling companion, 330. Exploits in Paris, 331. Occurrences in Bourdeaux, 333. Journey to Marseilles and Toulon, 336. Thence to Naples, 337. Description of a hurricane, 338. Lands at Leghorn, 341. Visits Naples; returns to England; and is about to be married, 342. Excessive grief occasioned by the death of a friend, 344. Goes to London, and thence to Scotland, 345. His father’s death, 349. Interview with his mother, 350. Base attempt, 352. Change of disposition, 354. Extreme misery, 355. Extravagant conduct, 357. Elopement with a young lady, 361. His dying moments, 362. Law of honour and men of the world, 364. The seducer’s character further sketched, 366. Sufferings of unhappy women, 370. Murder sometimes committed, 371. The victim of seduction generally abandoned, 372. Notorious rakes received and countenanced in society, 377. Prostitution an inevitable consequence, 378. Waste of happiness, 380. Remedy proposed by Doctor Colquhoun, examined, 386. State of morals in Holland, Italy, and India, 388.



The frequency of capital punishment in this country has long excited a general feeling of abhorrence, not merely from the removal of a malefactor from the stage of life, but the distress produced in the display of a scene relieving the unfortunate sufferer from worldly troubles, yet leaving a too painful impression on the mind of the spectator. There is a hallowed reverence thrown around the grave of even the hardiest offender whose crimes have been expiated by his death. The execution of his sentence protects not only against insult and upbraiding, but also secures a degree of pity for his sad condition. But when 2the Royal mercy, expunging the severe sentence of the law, and obliterating the obnoxious record, bids the wretch to live and “sin no more,” all the more pleasing ideas arising from seeing him restored to society and alienated from crime, are indulged by the humane. Hence arose a question of solicitude, whether the offender might not be made, in all possible cases, some way useful to society, or at least have the chance of effecting some expiation; thus securing to him the means of amendment in this life, and the hope of future mercy by a sincere repentance and sorrow for his past crimes.

In the place of Death, the punishment of Transportation to remote lands under the dominion of the British Government, at first to North America, and subsequently to New South Wales, was adopted. To these places of banishment all persons were sent whose sentence had been commuted from death for transportation, as next in degree of severity in the criminal code, which (in happy as absolute rejection of all barbarous refinement in punishment) admitted no middle term between actual removal of the offender in loss of life, and the political annihilation of all his rights as a member of the state, for the term of his natural life, or a determinate period, during which, consequently, his services were to be useless but to the Crown or its assigns; and his condition, therefore, and its comfort altogether independent of his own arbitrament and volition.

The convict was thus torn from every tie of relationship; and as even the depraved have their kindred affinities and private affections softened by some of 3the endearments of life, the separation rendered the fulfilment of the sentence painful, and in this respect satisfied one intention of the law. Indeed the very worst offender seems not so divested of the character of humanity, but that the possession of life is still held by some link of nature to him of strong association.

The transport with which the condemned malefactor receives the reprieve or the news of pardon, proves the estimation in which he holds life, not more on his own account, than as it concerns his future hopes of benefiting his children or relations. With what rapturous emotion must the robber feel his bosom swell, when informed that his pardon was given because the life of the person he had robbed was spared!—that because in the career of his maddening plunder, whilst with one hand he grasped the purse, and with the other the devoted throat of his unresisting victim, a sudden thought of his own little ones flashed across his brain, and made him cast away the deadly pistol!—Grateful for the extension of life, one cannot but think he will carry with him in his exile a strong tendency to amendment, and impress on the mind of other offenders that sense of humanity which saved and opened to him so great a consolation.

The original intention of disposing of convicts by transportation was most likely to break off all existing connexions, and to estrange the mind from all former associations, so as to render the prisoner as abstracted as possible from every consideration but that of the immediate duty or discipline imposed. The expense attending their removal made it necessary that it should be repaid out of the convicts’ labour; and every possible 4chance of a return before their time, and all thought of home, or as much as could be, were carefully removed, that their whole time should be given for the above purpose. The punishment of exile had other terrors for the convicts themselves, which served to render their banishment a temporary slavery.

The ingenious Doctor Colquhoun gives the following on the origin of Transportation: “Parliament authorized this species of punishment in 1718, when the general plan of sending convicts to the American plantations was first adopted. This system continued for 56 years, during which period, and until the commencement of the American war in 1775, great numbers of felons were sent chiefly to the province of Maryland. The rigid discipline which the colonial laws authorized the masters to exercise over servants, joined to the prospects which agricultural pursuits, after some experience was acquired, afforded to those outcasts, tended to reform the chief part; and after the expiration of their servitude, they mingled in the society of the country, under circumstances highly beneficial to themselves, and even to the colony. Possessed in general (as every adroit thief must be) of good natural abilities, they availed themselves of the habits of industry they acquired in the years of their servitude; became farmers and planters on their own account; and many of them succeeding in those pursuits, not only acquired that degree of respectability which is attached to property and industry, but also in their turn became masters, and purchased the servitude of future transports sent out for sale.”

When the American revolution prevented the further 5transmission of convicts to that country, the system of the Hulks and Houses of Correction was substituted. However, from the increasing number of delinquents, arising not only from the increase of vice but that of population, that mode soon became inadequate to the augmented demands for disposing of the prisoners, as of course to the enforcement of that labour to which for their offences they had been sentenced. Plans were then acted upon for building extensive prisons, penitentiaries, and asylums for their reception: but the enormous expense and comparative inefficacy of those establishments, which it appears were mostly conducted in the old miserable mode of gaol discipline, the evils of which became now universally acknowledged, soon raised loud complaints against the system.

The attention of Government, still directed to this necessary and important relief of the community from those who would subvert its comforts and security, caused the coast of Africa to be explored for a fit situation for a colony: but that research proved fruitless, on account of the unhealthiness of the climate, or hostility of the natives of those situations which remained unoccupied by other European nations, rendering it imprudent to risk an establishment in that country. The discovery of the vast territory of New South Wales by Captain Cook in 1770 and 1777, opened a new field for disposing of those refractory characters. The following is recorded by Collins as the commencement of the present colony there:

“The Commissioners of His Majesty’s Navy, toward the end of the year 1786, advertised for a certain 6number of vessels to be taken up for the purpose of conveying between seven and eight hundred male and female felons to Botany Bay, in New South Wales, on the eastern coast of New Holland, whither it had been determined by Government to transport them, after having sought in vain upon the African coast for a situation possessing the requisites for the establishment of a colony.

“Six transports and three store-ships were accordingly engaged to convey the persons designed to form the new settlement, with the stores and provisions necessary for their use and consumption. Of the latter, sufficient for two years were put on board; and among the former were tools, implements of agriculture, and such other articles as were considered necessary to a colonial establishment.

“The government of the country was intrusted by His Majesty to Arthur Phillip, Esq. a Post Captain in the service.—The convicts for whose disposal this speculation was undertaken, consisted of 565 men and 192 women; and every necessary arrangement having been made by the naval and military commanders, which seemed best calculated to ensure a fortunate termination to the voyage, on Sunday the 13th of May 1787, the little fleet, which had previously collected at the Mother Bank, sailed with a leading wind through the Needle passage, accompanied by the Hon. Captain de Courcy in the Hyena frigate.

“This expedition anchored in Botany Bay, after a voyage of eight months and one week. The Governor employed a short time in examining, but had not seen any spot to which some strong objection did not apply. 7If in one place he met with a promising soil, it was deficient in that grand essential, fresh water, and was besides too confined for their numbers. He therefore determined on examining the adjacent harbours of Port Jackson and Broken Bay, and for that purpose set off in three open boats accompanied by some of the officers of the settlement.

“The coast as he drew near Port Jackson wore a most unpromising appearance, and the natives every where greeted the fleet with shouts of defiance and prohibition, the words “Warra, warra,” Go away, go away, resounding wherever they appeared. The Governor’s utmost expectation, as he drew near the harbour, being to find what Captain Cook, as he passed by it, thought might be found, shelter for a boat, he was most agreeably surprised at discovering, on his entrance, a harbour capable of affording security for a much larger fleet than would probably ever seek shelter or security within its limits.

“In one of the coves of this noble and capacious harbour, he determined to fix the future seat of his government, it having been found to possess a sufficiency of water and soil. Having completed his research in three days, he returned to Botany Bay, and gave directions for an immediate removal thence; a circumstance which gave general satisfaction, as nothing had been discovered in that place which could excite a wish to pass another day in it.”

The place of settlement thus fixed on is the present town of Sydney, which has since then increased in a very remarkable degree. In Van Diemen’s Land, also under the jurisdiction of the Governor of New South 8Wales, a similar establishment has been subsequently formed. Both these colonies are increasing rapidly; moderate encouragement having been held out to free settlers, and many of them have become highly prosperous there: the convicts too, after the termination of their banishment, having become accustomed to the country, and informed of its great natural advantages, induced also by the fineness of the climate and the luxuriance of its soil, have, rather than return home, determined to become settlers,—and wisely so, as some of them are already in a very thriving way.

The original mode of transportation was, that merchants, or agriculturists of property, might contract for the conveyance of the convicts to their destination, under an act of parliament, removing them to their estates in the colony; and appropriating to their own benefit their services, they found their work in the plantations during the term of their sentence an indemnification for the expenses incurred by their voyage, clothing, and subsequent maintenance.

It seems, however, that Government did not finally approve of contracts made in this manner by private individuals, as the authority of such persons, or its management, was found too weak to enforce proper obedience, and secure from the evils of insubordination. Moreover, the management of the convicts remaining exclusively in the hands of the contractors, the convicts might, at the expiration of their time, feeling themselves no longer restrained by their former task-masters, have emancipated themselves with regard to their employers, and, if opposed violently, have shaken off all submission to their jurisdiction. Hence 9anarchy might ensue, and the bad disposition of the convicts would then burst forth with increased violence, and the peaceable and industrious settlers around be annoyed and plundered. Such incidents have occurred in Van Diemen’s Land, where convicts, denominated Bush-rangers, who had broken away from the restraint placed over them, have for several years led a vagabond, marauding life, harassing and plundering the peaceful colonists.

On Government, therefore, would devolve, in consequence of the feebleness or incapacity of private management, the unpleasant duty of beginning the work of reformation over again, to reclaim the convicts from their mad schemes, make them honest subjects, and thoroughly obedient to the laws; or allow the laws again, in all the severity of former measures, to visit them with summary punishment.

In order to obviate this inconvenience, and to avoid the expenses which under such circumstances must be thrown away, Government itself has taken the contracts for transportation, and, from the superior national resources, provides a more comfortable supply of necessaries and accommodations than any which could have been obtained under the former arrangement.

After the sentence of the law has been fulfilled in the colony, those who remain are still amenable of course to the authority of the local Government. During their servitude, care is taken to promote their habits of industry, if they have acquired or shown any such; and, particularly if they manifest an improvement in moral character, and conduct themselves with 10propriety, every facility is afforded them to become settlers, and useful members of the colony; or, if they be desirous of returning to Europe, a passage home is readily permitted, but at their own expense, and a certificate granted descriptive of character during the term of transportation.

Lately this benignant purpose has been carried further; for, if the father of a family have had the misfortune to fall under the frowns of justice, and should his conduct subsequently in New South Wales merit the approbation of the Governor, he will obtain His Excellency’s recommendation, and is sure of being favoured with an order from the Government at home for his wife and children to go out to him in that country, where in a short time they have been known to form comfortable and prosperous establishments. A very liberal provision is made for the free women and children during the voyage, for which no charge whatever is made against them, or their father, on the part of the Government.

The inducements to form a settlement in New South Wales are so numerous, and the advantages so great and inviting, particularly to laborious industry, that numbers have applied for the sanction of Government to be sent out to that country; but, having no apparent sufficient funds, have been refused, on account of the great length of the voyage, and the necessary and unavoidable expense. It is however well known, and the fact has been ascertained beyond question, that many instances have occurred of persons, so refused, having afterwards committed some offence which subjected them to transportation, and thus 11effected their purpose at the expense of the Government.

The liberality with which convicts destined for transportation are clothed and victualled for the voyage, now usually of four months duration, is highly deserving of praise, many of the persons so circumstanced, or rather the majority of them, living more comfortably, by many degrees, during that period, than they had been used to do for many years before. Although, according to the present regulations, they unfortunately have nothing in the way of employment to occupy their time on the way out; still as the greatest care is taken of their health, at the same time that they are abundantly fed, they generally look well, and are in perfect health, by the period of their arrival, and fully capable of proceeding to any work without delay.

As the public may not, perhaps, be generally informed of the minor particulars of the preparations and reception of convicts, and the outfit necessary for the voyage, it may not be deemed out of place to set forth here the comforts provided for them during their conveyance to New South Wales or Van Diemen’s Land. Every convict received on board the ship which is to convey the number determined by Government for transportation, is provided with one suit of clothes and a change of linen, besides a flock bed, pillow, and blanket; and the following weekly supply of provisions is regularly served out to a mess of six persons in each.

12Plan of Rations for each Mess per Week.
Days of the week. Bread lbs. Flour lbs. Beef lbs. Pork lbs. Peas pints. Butter lbs. Rice ozs. Suet lbs. Raisns lbs. Oatl. pints. Sugar oz.
Sunday 1 4 4 8         ½ 1    
Monday 2 4       3 ½ 4     2 2
Tuesday 3 4 4           ½ 1    
Wednesday 4 4     6 3 ½          
Thursday 5 4 4           ½ 1 2  
Friday 6 4   8   3 ½          
Saturday 7 4       3   4     2 2
Total 28 12 16 6 12 8 3 6 4

Besides the above liberal allowance, there is a further issue, each week, of one quart of vinegar to each mess, and after the ship has been at sea three or four weeks, one ounce of lemon juice and an equal quantity of sugar is also to be issued to each convict daily. The period for which it has been usual to put the provisions on board the transport ships has been eight months; besides this, each convict is allowed one hundred and twenty gallons of water, and two gallons of wine, the latter to be distributed specially at the Surgeon’s discretion, and under his immediate superintendence. The women are allowed wine in the same proportion as the men convicts, and subject to the same restriction in its use: they have also a like proportion of provisions, with an addition of three pounds of muscovado sugar, and half a pound of black tea, per week, for each mess of six women.

13When fresh beef is issued, one pound is equal to a pound of salt beef, and one pound and a half of fresh beef to one pound of pork. If vegetables are supplied on pork days, then no peas are to be issued; but if not, the peas are to be served. There can be no mistake as to the correctness of this statement, as it is copied from the printed document called the Victualling Scheme, which is addressed to the Master of the Convict Ship from the Transport Office, Deptford, regularly before the voyage is begun.

The sleeping place assigned the convicts is within that part of the ship called the prison, taking the whole space of the ship between decks, except the necessary accommodation for the Master, Officers, and Seamen, expressly fitted up for their reception: it is divided into, what in sea-phrase are termed, births, each to contain four persons, for which purpose, whatever has been represented, it is sufficiently roomy. The bedding is carefully brought upon deck every morning to be aired, when the weather will permit, and is stowed regularly for that purpose in the netting, where it may be kept dry, should any rain unexpectedly fall.

Besides the suit of clothes given to each prisoner on coming aboard, another is provided, which is intended to be given them on landing at their place of destination: this, as well as the former, is of a uniform fashion and colour, to distinguish them from the free settlers, and to render them easily recognisable by the police. It should be also mentioned, that the free women sent out to join their husbands, are allowed two thirds of a seaman’s ration per diem, and the children one half the women’s allowance.

14There is, besides the ample stock of provisions, a liberal supply of extra stores shipped at the same time, for the use and accommodation of the convicts, and also for such as may become sick during the voyage. As, however, the quantity of these articles is not always the same, varying in each ship according to the number of prisoners on board, I shall submit for full satisfaction a list of such as came under my own observation, as a proportionate view of the manner in which the extra supply is generally made. The following is a correct copy of the list of extra stores and necessaries allowed on board the Neptune, in which ship I was surgeon and superintendent in 1817, and is an undeniable proof of the humane concern Government takes in the welfare of those unfortunate persons.

Navy Office,
28th Nov. 1817.

A List of Stores shipped on board the Neptune Convict Ship, Robert Carns Master, for the use of 170 male convicts, guard and passengers, during their voyage to New South Wales. And of clothing for the use of the convicts upon their arrival at the colony.

Articles of Comfort for Use during the Voyage.

Mustard, 170 lbs.: Soap, 510: combs, 31 large, 31 small, No. 62: razors, 10: hone, 1: strop, 1: preserved meats, 476 lbs., value 42l. 10s.: lemon juice, 242 gallons: sugar to mix with it, 1,939 lbs.

Articles in case of Sickness.

Tea, 34 lbs.: sugar, 170: chocolate, 10: sago, 20: 15Scotch barley, 340: ginger, 1: black pepper, 3: allspice, 6: red port wine, 102 bottles: rice, 24 lbs.: pearl barley, 24.

Fumigating Articles.

Tar, 1 barrel: crude brimstone, 60 lbs.: vinegar, 60 gallons: fumigating lamps, 2: extra wicks, 2 boxes: oil, 4 gallons: oil of tar, 10.

Hospital Furniture.

Duck frocks, 10: flannel trowsers, 10 pairs: flannel waistcoats, 10: cotton hose, ——: pocket-handkerchiefs, 20: night-caps, 20: towels, 20: sheets, 34: calico pillow-cases, 34: pewter pans, 2: urinals, 2: spitting-pots, 2: pans and buckets, of each 2: tin teakettles, 4: tin saucepans, of sorts, 10: tin japanned drinking mugs, 20: knives and forks, 20 of each: water purifier, 1: charcoal, 20 bushels: bathing tub, 1: airing stove, ventilating, and swing, each 1: pails 4: kegs (three gallon), 28: spare bedding, 17 sets.

Clothing for the Use of the Convicts on their Arrival.

Yellow kersey jackets, 170: waistcoats, 170: raven duck trowsers, 170 pairs: for use during voyage, 170: shirts, 510: stockings, 340 pairs: shoes, 170: woollen caps, 170: and neck-handkerchiefs, 170.

In addition to the above, 2 cots were also supplied in case of fractured limbs, besides a proper stock of medicines from the Apothecaries’ Hall.

The extra articles furnished for the female convicts on board the Morley in the last voyage, and for the free women and children embarked at the same time were as follow.

Navy Office,
Transport Department,
20th April 1820.

16A List of Stores shipped on board the Morley Convict Ship, Robert Brown Master, for the use of 120 female convicts, passengers, and 50 children, during their voyage to New South Wales, or Van Diemen’s Land, and of clothing for the use of the convicts upon their arrival at the colony.

Articles of Comfort for Use during the Voyage.

Mustard, 157 lbs.: soap, 785: combs, large and small, of each 22: needles, 1,200: scissors, 12 pairs: moist sugar, 2,072 lbs.: souchong, 452: preserved meats, 439 and 10 ounces: lemon juice, 252 gallons: sugar to mix with it, 1,792 lbs.: white thread, 12: coloured thread, 12: towels, 240.

Articles in case of Sickness.

Tea, 31 lbs.: sugar, 157: chocolate 9½: sago, 18: Scotch barley, 314: ginger, ¾: allspice, 6: black pepper, 3: red port wine, 94 bottles.

Hospital Furniture.

Calico bed-gowns, 8: petticoats, 8: cotton hose, 15 pairs: linen pocket-handkerchiefs, 15: night-caps, 15: towels, 15: linen sheets, 12 pairs: pillow-cases, 24: pewter pans and urinals, of each 2:, and bucket, of each 2: spitting-pots, 2: tin saucepans, 2: teakettles, 2: ditto to serve as teapots, 21: knives and forks, 15 of each: bathing tub, 1: water purifier, 1: childbed linen, 12 sets: charcoal, 20 bushels: water pails, 3: airing stove, 1: half pint tin japanned 17mugs, 120: swing stove, 1: spare beds, 12: kegs[2] (three gallons), 27.

Clothing for the Use of the Convicts upon their Arrival.

Brown serge jackets, 120: petticoats, 120: linen shifts, 240: linen caps, 120: stockings, 120 pairs: shoes, 120 pairs: neck-handkerchiefs, 120: beds complete, 170: cots, 4: hammocks slung, 6.

Clothing for 17 Male Children.

Blue kersey jackets, 17: waistcoats, 17: raven duck trowsers, 17 pairs: shirts, 51: stockings, 34 pairs: woollen caps, 17: neck-handkerchiefs, 17: shoes, 17 pairs.

Clothing for 33 Female Children.

Brown serge jackets, 33: petticoats, 33: linen shifts, 66: linen caps, 33: stockings, 33 pairs: shoes, 33: neck-handkerchiefs, 33.


New Testaments, 33: prayer books, 46: psalters, 46: Bibles[3], 12: manuals of instruction and devotion for the use of the prisoners, 11.

The above ample and truly liberal supply of provisions and extra articles for the use of the convicts is well worthy of notice, as it is fully equal to every want to which they are liable; and the minute particulars 18are attended to with a concern highly laudable to the directors of this supply. Indeed, many persons emigrating to distant countries would consider themselves exceedingly at ease were they individually as well circumstanced, though driven by the pressure or dread of domestic distress to seek relief far from their early homes, with an honest name, and unreproving conscience, yet supplied with accommodations infinitely short of those thought necessary in providing for the transmission of the idle, dissolute and criminal, branded with infamy and crime for which they are driven from society.

The land forces sent to guard the convicts have a daily allowance of spirits, but are not so well provided for as the prisoners in respect of several extra articles served to the prisoners, though the use of spirits on the voyage (an allowance certainly contributing to no good purpose whatever, and productive of very serious bad consequences, particularly as the quantity issued is too great by one half, allowing even of so unnecessary an indulgence) is happily not suffered to the convicts. The wives of soldiers also, and their children, have a proportionate ration of this baneful liquid, which over their weaker minds may be said to exert a most dangerous influence, injurious to their health and morals, and subversive of good order.

Although the matter be not immediately, it is remotely and intimately connected with the subject of transportation. I shall therefore place it here, to show how generously convicts fare comparatively with others. At the same time I am anxious that nothing advanced in this comparison may prove injurious to the unfortunate 19exile, who is lying at the mercy of that power which directs his removal to a new world, and an almost new state of existence, nor withdraw from him a tittle of that bountiful support he now enjoys.

“Rules to be observed by Masters and Commanders of His Majesty’s hired Transports, in victualling Land Forces.

Six Soldiers’, or four Seamen’s Allowance for every Day in the Week.
Days of the week. Bread: lbs. Beer, gallons: or half pint spirits: or pints wine. Beef: pieces of 8 lbs. Pork: pieces of 4 lbs. Peas: pints. Oatmeal: pints. Butter: lbs. Cheese: lbs. Vinegar.
Sunday 4 4   1 2       One quart in a week.
Monday 4 4       4 ½ 1
Tuesday 4 4            
Wednesday 4 4 1 or 6 lbs. of flour, ½ lb. of suet, & 1 lb. of raisins.   2 4 ½ 1
Thursday 4 4 1 2      
Friday 4 4   2 4 ½ 1
Saturday 4 4 1 or as above        

“The above are to be served out by full weights and measures.

“When flour, suet, and raisins are put on board, they are to be served in equal proportion with beef, viz. one half in beef, the other in flour, suet, and raisins, on each beef day.

“Half a pound of rice is equal to a pint of oatmeal; half a pound of sugar is equal to half a pound of butter, and a pint of rice is equal to a pound of cheese; a 20pint of oil is equal to 1 pound of butter, or to two pounds of cheese, that is, a pint of oil for the proportion of butter and cheese.

“A pint of wine, or half a pint of brandy, rum or arrack, is equal to a gallon of beer.

“One pound of fresh beef is equal to one pound of salt beef, and one pound and a half of fresh beef equal to one pound of pork.”

The seamen above alluded to, to whom the rations of the convict guard are proportioned, are those serving on board His Majesty’s ships and vessels of war. All that long list of extra comforts, before mentioned, to which convicts by their regulations are entitled, are in the case of the soldiers entirely withheld; for which reason, and indeed for a great many others, the situation of the prisoners is much more comfortable than that of their guard. Of this superiority in point of living, considering the casualties and uncertainty of supply many of them had formerly experienced, most of them express usually a strong regret at the termination of their voyage, persuaded that few situations on shore could equal the comfort they had enjoyed on board. When, after the boisterous stir of stormy passion has subsided, and that religious and moral instruction have stifled the last gasp of the insidious serpent which would whisper them back again to sin and wickedness, this expression of regret, as I have known it from the people on board the Neptune, is infinitely more strong, and the sense of separation from the favourite scene of their reformation more acute.

Many circumstances connected with the present 21system of transportation appear, in my opinion, so much deserving of attention, that it may be allowed to introduce them here, in a cursory manner, leaving their elucidation to the progress of incident, during the voyage to which they belong.

In the first instance I consider the situation of juvenile offenders, under the present regulations on board of male convict ships, as less fitly directed than their peculiar circumstances require. This is, that a portion of the prison be set apart for them, and confined so as to prevent any intercourse between them and the men. The reasons advanced in favour of this separation seemed to me at first view so plausible, that I unhesitatingly gave the measure my warm approbation. It has fallen to me, however, to witness its pernicious effects, and to know that nothing can be contrived to injure them more both in health and morals, than that very regulation; that, so far from being corrupted by an intercourse with the men, they are more likely to be checked and improved by their society. With this conviction on my mind, I would, in all deference to superior authority, presume to advise that on board a male convict ship there should be no separate prison for boys.

Any person acquainted with the general depravity which characterizes most of the boys who are banished after a few months confinement in prison, will not hesitate to acknowledge that they are usually more corrupt and vicious than many of the grown up, and display traits of acuteness and refinement in knavery sufficient to astonish older adepts. These boys in general are very deeply conversant with immorality and turpitude; and the boys 22on board the Neptune, according to information I received which left no room for doubt, exhibited this disposition in a manner at once shocking to delicacy, and subversive of every principle of virtue.

Taking advantage of the separation, they indulged in certain wicked practices, and from the privacy thus secured to them, they became every day more and more prevalent, and, had the matter not been discovered in proper time, would have ended in the inevitable destruction of the unfortunate youths. In this critical moment I had the separating bars pulled down immediately, and threw both the prisons into one. I thought it a further necessary proceeding to break up the boys’ messes, which before were distinct, and divide them among the messes of the men; all which was done without apprizing any of them of my knowledge of the disgusting cause. One of the most steady members of each mess was instructed to have a sharp look-out after his young companion, and let me know the most minute particulars of his conduct.

In this manner a visible change was soon effected, which was further improved by separating them still more from each other, placing them to sleep, one in each of the men’s berths, sending some men at the same time to sleep in their places with those who remained in that part which before was the boys’ prison. Although this cautionary proceeding effectually put an end to the odious practice which first drew my attention to the particular state of the boys, still the work remained in my mind far from being accomplished.

The seeds of vice having once taken root are not 23easily removed; some of the fibres will still remain, and the tares and weeds will again and again, we know, spring forth and disfigure the best of soils. I made the theatre of their wickedness a place for their reformation. Having formed all the boys into a school, I obtained a number of Bibles and Testaments, there being no other books of any kind on board fit for the purpose, and with these I tried to ascertain how many of them could read. To my utter amazement, I found that of all these boys, who were so ripe in knavery and fraud, and were ready and fluent in their own forms of speech, and were of course totally ignorant of the contents of the sacred volumes, because not able to read a syllable of their contents, few of them could distinguish the letters of the alphabet.

One of the elder convicts, whose conduct had secured my approbation, was selected to be their schoolmaster, and by his patient perseverance they were soon brought surprisingly forward. I encouraged them by representing the great advantages they would derive from application; and had the pleasure of seeing them all eagerly engaged in one of the roads at least to religion and virtue. In this gratifying scene I took particular interest, and made it an uniform practice to set apart an hour each day from professional engagements personally to instruct them.

Many advantages were thus obtained by finding sufficient employment for the greater part of their time; while, from the nature of the subject which they were engaged to study, they became regularly acquainted with moral and religious truths. By this simple proceeding, also, these boys’ minds became every 24day more enlightened, and a visible change for the better in every respect grew more evident, until at the end of the voyage I had the high satisfaction of seeing them, as far as general conduct went, considerably if not completely reformed; their vicious habits appearing quite subdued, and the greater number able to read the Scriptures correctly and fluently. They had also the advantage of taking with them to their new modes of life, a knowledge at least of reading well, which could not fail in some way or other to promote their future welfare.

Nothing is more hurtful, it is well known, to the human mind than idleness; it is at variance with every good and noble purpose, depriving the most highly gifted of their natural energy, and derogating more almost than any other vice from the dignity of our nature. The most intelligent and active becomes under its drowsy power feeble, and in time brutalized: the brightest portion of intellectual fire which has risen from the bidding of benignant Deity, becomes dim, and dwindles in its damping medium. If then the loftier faculties of the soul lose their fine tone and tension when paralysed by this humiliating influence, how easily must the vulgar and selfish fall supine and unresisting to its mandates! Involved in habits tending chiefly to the gratifications of sense, the uneducated and thoroughly depraved relish nothing which does not pamper their passions, insensible as the swine in the mire of sensuality into which they plunge, rarely to rise again. The habits and scenes familiar to life in common society generally form the subjects of pleasing reflection or agreeable conversation: 25it is natural to the memory actively on all occasions to bring up its brightest stores to divert the passing hour of contemplation or association. What with virtuous minds is thus conducive to the advance of virtue, becomes in those of vicious life and disposition a source of further mischief.

A voyage of four months, for instance, is to be taken by a number of convicts; its effects will vary undoubtedly in age, sex, and moral character. During that period, what are one hundred and seventy, or two hundred persons to do? The authority which dismisses to exile, takes certainly a generous concern for their bodily health, and no pains are spared to prevent them from feeling any want. Yet the most essential part of economical polity, employment, belongs not to the system, and is without consideration. Without that simple adjunct, one which most obviously should suggest itself to the present regulations in the transmission of convicts to New South Wales, the prisoners must during the voyage become subject to sickness, or sink a degree deeper in depravity.

That this result is uniformly anticipated I have very little reason to doubt; rather I might say I have very good proofs to establish my belief that such an opinion prevails amongst many who derive their information from the highest intelligence existing on the subject. It is not therefore matter of surprise, that such persons should deride, or rather disbelieve, the possibility of those degraded beings ever being saved from the evils of their lot, and becoming better than before.

It would doubtless be gratifying to those to direct at once the removal of the evil of idleness, in devising 26and devoting the vacant hours of the convicts to useful employment during the period of the voyage. I say useful, for if the employment be of a nugatory character, the prisoners will feel no desire to proceed with it: indeed the object might be considerably promoted, were the work of such a nature as to give them a personal concern in the execution by allowing them a small interest in the profits.

It must be confessed that the difficulty of finding proper employment during a voyage of about four or five months may in some degree occasion embarrassment. The greater number of those who are subjected to transportation are of the working class, and many of them have at one time or other of their lives exercised some mechanical art, which may perhaps be resumed with ease. All then who are acquainted with sedentary trades, might, one would think, be properly so employed, and also instruct others at the work, or such parts of it in which their assistance might be rendered useful.

When a man finds himself restored to the exercise of accustomed employment, his cheerfulness, we find, returns, and his captivity sits more lightly. Such a man will become of himself orderly in his conduct, and exert himself to keep others so. The alarm about prisoners rising upon their guards will be as problematical in theory, as it is now in reality; making persons of weak mind and hobgoblin imagination miserable at the bare mention of its possibility. In fact, convicts so circumstanced can never be guilty of an action so truly foolish in its intent, and fruitless and absurd in its proposed advantages. They will have time for reflection, 27thus best excited and promoted in such characters, on the futility of their former designs, and on the just value of blessings enjoyed in the good effects arising from obedience and implicit observance of the regulations by which they are governed.

Feeling themselves treated with moderation and humanity, and that their lives are preserved to them for rational and useful purposes, they will maintain a respect for themselves, and take care to avoid reproof, which to men enduring disgrace, and therefore ever testy and impatient, ought to be applied as seldom as possible. Let them be made sensible that their own welfare is solely in view, and they will listen cheerfully to the voice of authority, and knowing that in the moral and religious truths inculcated their peace of mind and future happiness are intended, they will turn an attentive ear to instruction.

They will evince their gratitude for such care by submission and deference to every command, and the transition from that state of mind to attachment is more easy, and its results more permanent, than may be supposed. Let not this be considered illusory, or the offspring merely of imagination; for I have proved it, and refer in affirmation of the above result confidently to the narrative of the voyage in the Neptune as extracted from the journal of daily occurrences. Of this termination of well applied measures in the management of convicts during their transmission to the colonies, am I so fully assured, that I would not hesitate to commit myself in a ship manned by convicts only, and, provided they understood the management of the vessel, with confidence trust to their conducting her safely without other assistance to Port Jackson.

28A good deal has been advanced against intrusting mechanics with the implements of their trades for the purpose of employment. Establish but once the orderly conduct which is so easy of accomplishment; attach the people by the ties of gratitude, of their susceptibility of which satisfactory proofs will be given; take a prudent care that your confidence in them will be felt, and the most timorous need not hesitate, I affirm, to allow them the free use of their tools, and permit the full exercise of their trades.

The aptitude which boys usually display may also be usefully turned to account, and by instructing and having them to work in the interval between the hours of school, they can be made industrious, and harmless at least on the voyage outwards, and may afterwards follow on shore the trades they may have learned on board the ship. At all events, what can be objected to the experiment being fairly tried of employing the convicts during their voyage to New South Wales, as to the success of which I entertain no doubt?

The remarks which suit the condition of male convicts may apply with equal, if not with greater force to that of females. The happy effects of the memorable results produced by the Ladies’ Committee in Newgate, are so fully corroborative of this advantage of employment over idleness, that it must appear superfluous to detail the proceedings of that benevolent association, of which satisfactory evidence has already been made known.

As, however, there was provided no stock of materials with which the women on board the Morley could apply the industry they had exercised in Newgate, no preparations being contemplated, by the regulations, 29for any sort of employment, the voyage would have been rendered extremely irksome and injurious both to their moral principles and health, as consequent upon relaxed habits, if they had been supposed wholly to remain idle.

Fortunately the benevolent watchfulness of the Committee foresaw this inconvenience, and in a considerable degree provided against it by sending on board a supply of straw materials for bonnets, hats, and the like, and other things calculated to employ their time, to which the closest attention has been occasionally given. Many other of the prisoners, whose circumstances could afford it, had provided themselves with unmade dresses, and these afforded work to fill up many otherwise more tedious hours.

The beneficial effects would undoubtedly be more obvious, were full work marked out for them with materials provided before the voyage; for instance, linen and cotton yarn for stockings, which, to prevent any imposition, could be weighed out to the workers, and the manufactured article, which is always certain of sale, weighed in the same manner when returned. Numerous contrivances of the same kind could be suggested, all productive of much advantage to the prisoners, while the wrought goods could be brought to a ready and profitable market, so as to suffer no loss in the application of the raw materials.

As my aim is solely practical improvement in the condition of these unfortunate persons, I would not have a moment lost in setting them, young and old, to some sort of employment, and turning their time to useful account. With this view, and in direct compliance 30with the suggestions and co-operation of Mrs. Fry, a school was established on board the Morley for all the children, as well belonging to the convicts as to the free women; and one of the latter, whose qualifications recommended her to the approval of the Committee, by whom she was employed and remunerated, undertook to instruct them, male and female, in reading and a knowledge of the Scriptures. In the course of the following remarks, the progress of the children in their school business, and other improvements, will not pass unobserved.

By these regulations a saving might be made as to the colonial expenditure, inasmuch as the convicts, by following their different arts with industry, some those they had long known previously to their misfortunes, and others such as they had acquired during their voyage, or in the time of their preceding confinement, might provide abundantly for themselves. They would therefore be less burdensome to the local government, and the improvements they will thus necessarily have made in morality, will ensure a peaceful and steady demeanour; nor is it extravagant to assert, that men and women so treated and instructed, will continue long sensible of the advantages they have derived from such a rational and judicious management, reflected in exemplary and generally correct conduct. There may be one or more still found disorderly; but upon the whole the best results may with perfect confidence be anticipated.

2.  It has been hitherto the custom to withhold these from the female convict ships.

3.  There ought to be at least one Bible for each mess.



On being appointed Surgeon and Superintendent on board the Neptune, Male Convict Ship, in 1817, I was anxious to avail myself of the opportunity which appeared favourable for forming a correct opinion on the actual state of that duty, and its concerns. It appeared the more necessary that I should come to a just understanding of the influence which the moral principle held over the prisoners’ minds, as on that I intended to ground my future proceedings. A brief summary of the crimes marked against the names of those prisoners committed to my care, extracted from the list which accompanied them on board, and on which I made my private observations, is subjoined for the satisfaction of the reader; and the accuracy of the statement may be relied on, as it came to me officially notified.

The punishment of transportation for life, undoubtedly severe, yet less so, one gladly allows, than that absolute forfeiture of life which the existing laws demand, affords a melancholy picture of human depravity, and the lamentable prevalence of crime, which makes its frequent recurrence necessary, the convicts transported for life being actually one half, it will be 32seen, of the entire number in this instance sent out of the country. The major part of that number most probably were respited from capital punishment by the royal clemency, or owe their lives to the compassion of the Juries that tried them.

List of the Crimes of the Male Convicts per the Neptune, 1817.
Forgery 8
Housebreaking 6
Robbery in a dwelling house 3
Stealing in a dwelling house 10
Burglary 28
Highway robbery 7
Horse stealing 8
Felony 44
Sheep stealing 7
Cow stealing 1
Frame breaking 1
Desertion 2
Assault and robbery 1
Having forged notes 6
Stealing from a person 1
Stealing—various small thefts 17
Grand larceny 10
Larceny 1
Capital respite (one of these an infidel) 6
Obtaining goods by false pretences 1
Breaking out of prison 1
Aiding in ditto 1
Total 170

The enormity of the offences, of which these men had been found guilty, may be estimated by a glance to the punishments annexed to their names.

Transported for life 85
Transported for fourteen years 33
Transported for seven years 52
Total 170

The different offences with which they had been charged, and for which they were sentenced, were less a criterion, perhaps, than a report of characters with which they came accompanied from the Hulks, whence they were shipped for transportation. Of these the following is a concise view, being an abstract of the Report then given.

Abstract View of Convicts as to Character.
Bad character 34
Old offenders 17
Good 1
Very bad character 10
Orderly 43
Very orderly 2
Indifferent 4
An infidel 1
New prisoners not reported on, transported for life 24
New prisoners not reported on, transported for 14 years 10
Transported before 6
Second sentence, orderly 6
Belonging to a gang, bad 2
Old thief, orderly 1
Noted pickpockets, behaved well 5
Behaved very well, convicts for felony 4
Total 170

These were the materials on which a system of amendment was to be tried; and it must be confessed that when every circumstance was considered, the task 34could not but be deemed repugnant. A general character of violence and desperate daring had long been identified with the inmates of prisons; and here were presented crimes of a description not likely to remove such an unfavourable impression.

The opinion universally prevailing for many years of the irreclaimable state of convicts, both male and female, rendered the superintendence of them on board the vessels which conveyed them to the colony, in every respect a heartless undertaking, if any thing like reform were had in contemplation. If at any time an experiment to that effect had been made, its failure only contributed to make a renewal of the attempt useless, or even mischievous; for the depraved, watchful of failure in the endeavours to restrain their bad passions, rarely abstain from enjoying it as a victory and converting it to wicked purposes.

For many reasons, therefore, that situation was looked upon as one of extreme difficulty, and in many instances of hazard. The convicts were on this account treated as irrational beings; in dens like wild beasts; like them fed and kept in the closest restraint consistent with their health. The conduct of the prisoners in general seemed to justify severe measures of precaution and confinement. Many accounts of their having made attempts to regain their liberty; rising on their guards; and endeavouring to take possession of the ship, for the purpose of proceeding to a port remote from their place of destination, had been in circulation; but in no instance have any of those daring enterprises even in part succeeded, except in one which occurred about the beginning of 1798.

35At that time the system of transportation, it appears, was not so well organized as at present; for when a ship had been taken up for female convicts, if the proper number were not ready, the vacant portion was filled with male convicts to be secured in a separate prison. The Lady Shore was engaged as a convict transport on such an occasion, and the consequences of placing male and female prisoners in the same ship unfortunately became evident, although the number of women was inconsiderable. In the course of the voyage an illicit intercourse had taken place between the female convicts and the sailors, of which it seems the male convicts, together with the recruits for the New South Wales corps which were on board, took advantage, by making the women induce the sailors to assist them in taking the ship.

The plan was so well laid that the design was not at all suspected, until one night, when the sailors had liberated the prisoners both male and female, and were joined by the recruits, a general mutinous rising took place. The commander and his first mate were murdered; and the ship, containing, besides the public stores, a great deal of private property, (which was a heavy loss to the colony,) was taken and carried away to the river La Plata, where she was delivered up to the Spaniards. The prisoners, however, I believe, most of them, were afterwards sent again in pursuance of their sentence.

Even when in any attempts of such a nature the convicts have been disappointed, their plans being detected before they were ripe for execution, their licentious and abandoned conduct still frequently continued 36to excite alarm, and to keep the guards on constant and harassing duty. The various artifices to which some of those desperate and dangerous characters had recourse, if detailed, would run to great length; but it is sufficient merely to mention the above incident, to show that the conveyance of convicts to the colonies is an undertaking not free from care and anxiety.

Instances too have been mentioned, in which some have risen en masse in female convict ships, to commit personal violence on the surgeon superintendent for the restraint which his sense of duty compelled him to impose. In one of those it became necessary for the surgeon to carry pistols for his defence, in consequence of an attack meditated against him by the women, who had provided themselves with sharpened knives for the purpose of performing a surgical operation of a very unpleasant nature, which would have entailed upon the gentleman the most dangerous and melancholy consequences. In other cases the conduct of the abandoned women has been so unmanageable, that it was deemed necessary, as in the instance of the ship Janus at Cork in 1819, to require a military guard to keep them in subordination and security. In fact, the undertaking has been ever attended with circumstances which made the duty at all times extremely repulsive, and rendered this branch of the public service disagreeable and irksome.

Being fully aware of these circumstances, it became necessary for me to act upon some method of treating the convicts committed to my charge, so as to obviate as much as might be disorders generally prevailing during the voyage; and, by establishing an undeviating 37order, if possible, in their management, prepare their minds for that moral change which was materially in view.

In the present state of their feelings, humbled in some degree by shame, and the comparative misery brought upon them by their own folly and unrestrained passions; when reflection on their degraded state bitterly and poignantly occupied all their serious moments; there appeared then the most favourable occasion to draw them back to a sense of virtue, which, although it might have been long banished from the breasts of some, the example of others more awake to its influence might assist in reviving. To excite a feeling of repentance, was the first step: this once gained would lead to a train of sober reflections; for no heart can be so thoroughly corrupt as not to exhibit some pure spot for virtuous reflection to take root, and produce its salutary blossoms.

It is not when the feverish glow of successful plunder excites the bacchanalian roar around the fell-grouped table, that the wholesome intrusion of the still small voice of conscience can reach the ear; when the drunken participators of his crime inflame the vulgar vanity of the intemperate wretch, and some vile Thais intoxicates him with passion. Vain would be the effort to reclaim the infuriated savage at such a time as that. But when the dark cell of the prison has shut out his associates, the mind may involuntarily turn back upon itself, and the culprit, under the pressure of infamy, want, and punishment, may open his heart to the language of religious admonition, inviting with its peculiar consolations. No longer buoyed 38up with speculations, he is naturally disposed to throw himself on the first humane help that presents itself, and to seek in moral and religious truths a repose and security to which he may have been heretofore a stranger.

Many such characters are every day passing before the watchful eye of justice, and, without a single humane effort assisting in the way of reformation, moving on almost imperceptibly to a disgraceful termination of their career. To many so circumstanced, death is a relief from that mental suffering which must attend their neglected and miserable lot; whilst, if the unhappy being has unexpectedly received a capital respite, and is allowed afterwards to have his sentence commuted for transportation, he becomes even more than before a fit subject for ascertaining whether amendment be then possible. The number of convicts on board the Neptune presented abundant materials for such an experiment; and, although the task appeared discouraging, I was determined on the undertaking.

The first object worthy of attention was the establishment of a fixed system of order and regularity in the prison. In this respect I have to acknowledge the favour of some suggestions received from the Rev. Mr. Price at Sheerness. I drew up, therefore, the following regulations for their guidance; and on reading them over before the convicts, assembled for that purpose, I had the satisfaction of finding none at least expressed a dissentient voice; on the contrary, the most cordial concurrence assented to their propriety.

You are not to curse or swear,—use obscene or filthy conversation,—fight, quarrel, or steal from one another,—use provoking words,—or call any one but by his proper name.
You are to be respectful and obedient at all times to the officer and guards.
Cleanliness being essentially necessary to the health, comfort, and well being of every person on board, it is particularly desired that the strictest attention be paid to it on every occasion.
Those to whom the management and care of the messes may be intrusted, are desired to be careful in attending to their duties, as they will be held responsible, and, in case of failure, punished severely.
Any one refusing to obey the directions of those who have the charge of messes, &c. will, on being detected, receive such punishment as the circumstance may deserve. A faithful report will be made of every man’s conduct; and those who behave well, though they may have come here with bad characters, will be favourably represented.
The prisoner that shall dare to break through the above rules will be punished in proportion to his offence; and any one so offending must never expect to be recommended to the notice of the Governor of New South Wales.
Any one found defacing or destroying these rules will be punished severely.

Copies of the above were placed in conspicuous parts 40of the prison, and there they continued throughout the voyage without the least injury. The convicts had been previously classed in messes, six persons in each, one of whom was appointed to superintend the mess. This sub-division of duty among themselves, was calculated to inspire confidence in the measures to be adopted, and gave those temporary officers a considerable degree of authority among their companions. The result was satisfactory. Each monitor served as a check upon the others, whilst the reactive watchfulness upon one another’s actions produced a kind of rivalry amongst them in observing my injunctions most strictly.

It remained to commence some moral and religious system, on which could be safely founded any expectation of ultimate success: first, if possible, by conciliation and persuasion; or, that failing, by any such coercive means as might be prudently adopted on such an occasion. The native beauty of religion’s truths is best conveyed to such minds in language of mild and temperate remonstrance: harsh censure, and severe reproof, are of too repulsive a nature, and throw a gloom over the irradiated prospects of repentance, reconciliation, and reward, held forth in religious influence.

Accordingly, having received from Captain Young, of Deptford, a box containing bibles, prayer books, and a few tracts, for the use of the prisoners, I distributed them among the messes; and, at my request, the Rev. Mr. Price came on board from the Retribution Hulk at Sheerness, and, after divine service, delivered an exhortation which very much affected the 41minds of the prisoners. This was evident, from many of them subsequently retiring apart from their companions, and reading with serious and apparently devout attention the religious books given to them.

The utmost care was taken at all times to preserve cleanliness as much as possible in every part of the ship, and particularly in the prison; for which purpose the decks were regularly scraped, scoured, and washed; and the interior of the ship and prison ventilated or warmed by stoves as occasion required. This latter proceeding tended greatly to the preservation of the convicts’ health; although in spite of every precaution, and the utmost vigilance, some dangerous complaints, such as dysentery, appeared at intervals.

The conduct of the convicts continued to give much satisfaction, being in general very orderly; yet the apprehension of some attempt at rising was never lulled altogether. This circumstance is brought to my recollection by the following memorandum which I find in my journal, and transcribe it with all the alarm it excited at the time.

“1818. January 7th.—Was alarmed by a cry on deck, about 2 o’clock this morning, that the prisoners were rising. The guards and sailors were immediately called out, and the carpenter and myself went into the prison to examine whether any attempt to cut, or get out, had been made; but nothing of the kind appeared. Indeed, on the contrary, the prisoners were all in bed, and every thing seemed quiet. After breakfast, a strict search was made in the prison, which was conducted with the greatest vigilance and minuteness; but nothing was discovered to excite the slightest suspicion 42of any mischief having been meditated. At 4 P. M. half a pint of wine was served to each convict, and in the evening I read them one of Blair’s sermons, at which the Master and some of the officers attended, during which the utmost regularity and attention prevailed.”

The prisoners expressed no sense of dissatisfaction at the above scrutiny, but rather appeared more submissive in order to preclude all possibility of suspicion; and in reference to the attention paid to their health and comforts, they unanimously declared that their treatment far exceeded their expectations. Having distributed a further supply of testaments and religious tracts to all the messes, I soon after had the gratifying pleasure of noticing that many of the convicts perused them with earnestness and attention.

In conformity with my instructions, I transmitted to the Navy Office a weekly return of the sick, and accompanied it with a statement of the plan adopted for the management of the convicts, together with observations on the good effects likely to result from having the duties of religion frequently and invariably performed. It could not be expected that the manners of confirmed reprobates, long established by habit, could be suddenly reformed. Such an alteration could only be expected from the combined effects of time and perseverance: of course, many instances occurred of departure from strict discipline, which, in some cases, were necessary to be restrained by putting on handcuffs, and sometimes by inflicting slight corporal punishment upon the juvenile offenders.

This occasional resorting to punishment was shown, 43chiefly with an intent to let them understand, that it would certainly be inflicted if any should be rash enough to provoke it. On one occasion a convict, named Samuel Marriott, was detected fighting with one of his messmates; which being contrary to the regulations, and his character being quarrelsome and insolent, he was punished with twelve lashes.

In order to extend the benefits of the system, if possible, to the guards and sailors, with a view to harmonize the minds of all on board, I read occasionally upon deck a sermon of Dr. Blair’s to the seamen and soldiers: encouraged by the attention they showed, I determined to persevere, and frequently on the same day read to them some religious discourse after having done so to the prisoners below. That these were not without good effects, seemed obvious from the reading of religious books on every occasion observable. In this manner the state of their moral improvement was attempted; the demeanour of every one of the convicts certainly became serious and thoughtful; and religious reading became every day more desirable and in use generally amongst them.

On the 16th December 1817, final orders having been received, the Neptune put to sea, and proceeded on her voyage. Some days afterwards I was desirous of ascertaining the state of the convicts’ feelings on the prospect of a long and lasting separation from home and kindred. Many of them were fathers of families, upon whom a deep concern for the fate of their offspring would naturally weigh heavily:—the younger delinquents, whose attachments must have been warm and lively, would also suffer much from 44the idea of their inevitable loss of many a tender tie; for even the most depraved cannot be divested of those feelings, which, in dispositions better regulated and guided by virtuous precept, constitute the happiness of social life. Even the infidel, whom unhappy waywardness has rendered unfit for Christian society, may have had some connexion to sweeten his cup of misery, and enlighten the gloom that shrouds his soul;—the dissipated felon, whose lightly-acquired wealth procured him many an hour of delusive jollity, must, at such a prospect, sigh after his idle and profligate companions:—all seemed to me likely to have their particular grounds of sorrow, grief, regret, or lamentation. On visiting them, with the intention of administering consolation to those whom I presumed to find distressed, to my very great surprise, and indeed pleasure, all seemed thoroughly reconciled to their situation, and almost to a man signified the satisfaction, and even pleasure, they felt at the idea of the voyage, removed from temptations and dangers of the worst kind, surrounded as they were with every comfort, and every want bountifully supplied.

I took this opportunity of reading to them an appropriate sermon, and never have I witnessed more respectful attention, correctness and regularity of conduct, than on that occasion. I remarked with much satisfaction the daily visible improvement which every individual appeared to make in morals and behaviour. Having adopted and put in effect the only means of reformation, I left its perfection to time and circumstances, watching their progress with the most anxious care. Of one point, however, I was always 45very mindful, never to fatigue their attention with tedious harangue, or sour their disposition by unnecessarily finding fault, or seeking out trivial or unnecessary causes for censure. I rather wished to encourage them always to have a good opinion of themselves; which, if not strictly deserved, at least urged them to attain it.

The next great object of my concern was to attend to the state of the junior convicts, who amounted to twenty-three, most of whom were mere boys, the whole of them being under twenty years of age, and some of them so young as thirteen. Whilst the elder convicts, to whom particularly the system applied, were receiving the benefit of religious instruction, it would appear cruel and highly censurable to withhold similar advantages from those unfortunate children. I therefore had them all mustered, and examined them individually, to ascertain if any of them could read: to my great surprise and disappointment, as has been already mentioned, not more than five out of the entire number were found possessed of that attainment, and but few of the others could distinguish the letters of the alphabet. This discovery, however, did not discourage my purpose; I immediately formed them into a school, under the care of a convict whose remarkable regard of good order at the time induced me to trust him, he accordingly superintended the school, and taught the boys regularly every day. To give as much vigour as possible to the work, I regularly attended, and taught lessons from 11 till 12 every day, encouraging them by all the means in my power to exert themselves, and vie with each other in application.

46The deplorable neglect shown to the early state of the minds of those boys forcibly excited compassion. They never had had the slightest attention paid to their education; if they had been instructed in aught, it was in those infamous arts which brought them into their present situation. The profligate wretches who were the means of giving existence to those children, had their pursuits most likely directed to gain possession of other persons’ property unjustly, and had neither leisure nor inclination to attend to the cultivation of their youthful minds; but rather shrunk from the contrast they must have observed, if they were capable of so judging, between their children and themselves. They must then be sensible of their own miserable degradation in character, from their vicious mode of living, and would tremble with horror at the superiority of their offspring above themselves, had they been blessed with a virtuous education. To avoid even this tacit condemnation of their conduct, their little ones are generally neglected by their brutal father, or flung into the vortex of their unhappy mother’s vices and gross indulgences. Little can the grief of those unnatural parents avail, or excite sympathy, when their children, in imitation, perhaps, of their parents’ pernicious example, or probably instigated by their bidding, have committed those acts which bring them rapidly into disgrace and punishment.

However rude and unpromising the state of these miserable young creatures appeared, still a lingering hope was cherished of doing something for their good, and the business of the school was carried on without 47intermission. The result of the design far exceeded expectation. From the assiduous attention of the person appointed as schoolmaster, and my own constant attendance every day at noon, a strong emulation was excited amongst them. Although a few copies of the Bible and Testament formed the only medium of instruction I could command, yet, in a space of time incredibly short, I succeeded in having all the members of this little community not only able to read the Scriptures with tolerable facility, but also enjoyed the greater gratification of believing that their minds were impressed with the wholesome truths of the sacred volumes.

This improvement continued progressively to the end of the voyage; and at the time they were delivered over to the authority at Sydney, each of these boys could read the Bible fluently, and many of them in a superior manner, also evincing a familiar acquaintance with the principles of the Christian gospel. By this measure I had the sincere hope of leading these youthful votaries of vice into the paths of knowledge and happiness, enabling them to become hereafter useful to the community, by exhibiting in their conduct the good effects of religious education.

With regard to the progress of morality, meantime, among the senior sinners, I find in my journal the following memorandum; and as the record of those occurrences was written at the moment, under full and active impression, it may be allowed perfect credit for accuracy.

“1818. January 25th.—Mustered the convicts’ clothing, &c., and those who were not dressed clean 48were not permitted to receive this day’s allowance (half a pint) of wine, which was given to the others. Mustered, also, the bibles, prayer books, &c. At noon, read a sermon in the prison, during which the attention and feeling evinced by many of the convicts gratified me exceedingly. On all occasions of this kind their conduct has been marked by the utmost regularity; and I cannot avoid expressing the heartfelt satisfaction it gives me to find my efforts to lead many of these deluded victims of vice from misery, to reflect seriously and with tranquillized minds regarding a future state, and to administer the healing balm which revealed religion is capable of imparting to the soul, have not been entirely unsuccessful.”

All my watchfulness, notwithstanding, could not prevent some portion of the old leaven from bursting forth. Some would occasionally quarrel and fight: one of these turbulent and troublesome characters being detected in a flagrant instance of delinquency of this kind, twelve lashes were inflicted on him with salutary effect.

Reconciled as the prisoners were to their immediate condition, still the love of liberty naturally clung to them, imbittered recollection, and made many anticipate that severer evils awaited them than any they had been accustomed to endure. Although convinced of the justice of their sentence, and the leniency of the laws, and that they really merited the captivity to which they were consigned, yet an instance occurred which showed that their doom was irksome to them, and that liberty was the feeling most near to their heart under circumstances of any kind.

49Private information had been conveyed to me that a sailor had been tampering with one of the convicts. I had the convict brought immediately into the cabin, and on being interrogated he acknowledged that Waterson (the seaman) had frequently sought for opportunities of speaking to him when brought on deck for air and exercise; that a few days previous he had said, that for twenty pounds he would procure his escape from New South Wales, by concealing him in a secret part of the ship, and giving him half of his own allowance of provisions and grog.

The sailor above mentioned had been confined for daring misconduct about three weeks before, and had been released on his expressing contrition for his fault and promising to amend in future. It is very probable that he had a more dangerous object ulteriorly in view, if he could calculate on finding successfully means of tampering in this way with the prisoners. To all his plans Captain Carns thought it advisable to appear blind, as the ruffian was both daring and dangerous: and as nothing could be gained by driving him into open mutiny, we determined, to keep a strict watch upon his future actions, and further agreed on the propriety of giving him up to the Governor on our arrival at the Cape of Good Hope.

The security of convicts going to New South Wales, or elsewhere on a long voyage, has a much greater dependence on the regularity and integrity of the seamen than may at first view be supposed, and even more than upon the vigilance of the guards. The careless, easy, and familiar manner of the seaman sooner enables him to form an intimacy with the convicts, 50than the stiff, formal, and forbidding air the soldier assumes, whose unbending attention to his duty forms his chief characteristic. The mutinous disposition just noticed was not confined to Waterson alone; for I had an opportunity of witnessing myself conduct exceedingly reprehensible in another of the seamen, which I cannot refrain from relating.

About noon on the 24th of February, I heard Serjeant Bisset (one of the troops) complaining to Captain Carns of some foul language which he said one of the sailors (Wraite) had used to his wife. The Captain ordered the sailor on deck to have the matter investigated; and when he came, nothing could be more disrespectful or subversive of good order than his behaviour was towards the Master. He blustered, and said there was no living with these soldiering *—*, and used a great deal of other infamous expressions to the same effect. He was joined by Anderson, who was then at the helm, and used language if possible still more abominable than the other had done; and although repeatedly desired by Captain Carns to be silent, he paid no attention whatever. His conduct became outrageous, and he offered to fight any of the soldiers, and swore he would be revenged of them.

This Anderson had been for some time showing marks of discontent, and seemed very desirous of making a quarrel. His manner on this occasion was altogether violent, and, in my opinion, most decidedly mutinous. He said all he could to excite a general misunderstanding and immediate quarrel between the soldiers and sailors; but by the prompt and united efforts of Captain Carns and Lieutenant Bunney, commanding 51the troops, peace was at length restored, and all attempts at violence completely suppressed.

The nature of a seaman’s engagement on board a merchant ship is a certain source of mischief and insubordination; for, should the situation not be agreeable to his mind, which it certainly will not if he be of a depraved and vicious disposition, a wide door is open to disorder, and no provision is made by law to curb his licentiousness, and punish him for disobedience. It is true that the seaman enters into a written engagement with the Master, before the voyage is begun, by which he consents to a forfeiture of his wages in case of disobedience: but as that regards the ship’s duty only, the sailor, if so inclined, can be very troublesome to the Master personally, and by a due exercise of cunning, for which many of that class are remarkable, may interrupt the peace of the ship without subjecting himself to loss of wages.

The law is more severe if the seaman attempt to control the actions of the Master, by laying violent hands on his person, or offering him any opposition in his proper duties: such a case would amount to felony; but to determine that offence, a regular trial before a competent authority, is indispensable: until that can be had, the Captain has to endure the refractory conduct of the sailor, without any means of repressing it, unless he choose to hazard exposure to a prosecution, to which the sailor may have recourse on shore, and to which many interested dabblers in the law are ever ready to urge.

As this appears to me matter of much concern to the mercantile and shipping interest, and as it involves 52much of the security and comfort of the convict service, I would willingly pursue its further discussion to an extent commensurate with its importance, but for the present must defer that subject, and pass to others of more immediate consideration. Another circumstance, however, regarding the behaviour of the military placed over the convicts to maintain order, and prevent any attempt at violence, is of such a nature that it cannot escape remark.

The relative situation of the guards and their prisoners, as to their opportunities of conversation, being placed in immediate contact with each other throughout the voyage, makes it extremely necessary to watch the slightest communication that may take place between them, or in which either of them may be concerned. The serious consequences, arising at first probably from some insignificant affair, might have been easily prevented, had a due discretion been employed in time; but from a neglect undeserving of exculpation, or in a false security, the evil may be allowed to proceed,—the mischief at length becomes very serious.

It has been customary, doubtless originating in mere indulgence, to give an allowance of spirits, most commonly rum, to the soldiers on duty in convict ships: by referring to the scheme given in a former chapter, this quantity will be found half a pint per diem to each man. In merchant ships there is no stipulation, it seems, for seamen to receive any such allowance: in this branch of service at least, although usually given for particular services of hardship or hazard performed, it is always in the Master’s power 53to withhold this favour at discretion, or, in the sailor’s phrase, “to stop his grog,” in case of neglect or disobedience.

Sobriety has at all times been strictly insisted on with soldiers; and it seems somewhat problematical to understand how a quantity of spirits, admitted only to be necessary under the severities of a campaign, can be deemed equally so, allowing it so to be, to a soldier on board a ship, surrounded with every accommodation, and furnished with a plentiful supply of food. It cannot be even imagined, without violating probability, that a man of previously sober habits can be as steady a guardian of propriety of conduct with half a pint of maddening spirits hurrying through his veins, and running away with his reason, as when full of cool determination, and awake in his sobriety to the duties assigned him. A sentinel is quite a different man when intoxicated or sober: the one will break his duty, and his officer’s head; and afterwards get sorry and repent of what he has done; but the other will do nothing unbecoming the character of his proper duty.

Were the evil to be limited to the soldiers, even reflection, or some of the repressing passions, might in some degree operate as an antidote against the consequences of intoxication: an apprehension of incurring the displeasure of their officer might also prevent an abuse of this indulgence. It is not, however, considered enough that this ill-directed allowance should be given to the soldiers on duty, in “the hour of honour stirring watch;” the women, forsooth, must be 54taken care of in the same way, and the effects may be easily foreseen.

The married females permitted to accompany their husbands on board of convict ships, and the women of choice, whom the laxity of public morals permits to take the name of wives, are indulged with spirits in half the proportion given to the men; and the children belonging to them are besides allowed one half the quantity of the women: so that the latter, who are careful to be store-keepers to their infants, (for the youngest baby is allowed the same as those children grown strong in years,) can easily appropriate to their individual use every day a quantity of spirits only one fourth less than what is permitted to be consumed by the men; and if she happen to have several children, the expenditure will be enormous.

Imagination can scarcely form such a picture as one of these females when indulged with this immoderate supply of spirits. In a word, one of these women gets drunk, dead drunk, and is harmless only until the first effects of the narcotic poison have subsided, and then—But in honour to the sex, and out of respect to delicacy which virtue only knows, I shall forbear a description. Scenes which I have been compelled to witness in this way might lead to a minuteness of delineation, to do them justice in all their exquisite loathsomeness, as neither the eye of the reader could bear to scan, nor would recital produce aught but disgust and distress.

Few mothers could avoid shuddering to see such a female lay her infant baby across her lap, and pour the liquid poison, (rum) into the poor thing’s vitals, 55continuing that diabolical nursing until the nerves of the unconscious and miserable child are incapable of sensation, and it drops senseless from the hands of its inhuman parent. The counterpart to such a monstrous picture, which also is unfortunately, like that, too often true, is that of the husband, who meantime mounts guard in his turn, having very probably just partaken of the deleterious draught with his spouse, with whom he has had, perhaps, quite sufficient bickering to set his bad passions at work, and in a disposition to be quarrelsome.

There is little of cordiality generally between a soldier and a sailor. The wife of the soldier under the stimulus of drink, is in the way of the sailor’s ready joke; willing or unwilling to understand or seem to hear it, the pride of this Lucretia takes fire, easily no doubt when in that situation; she announces herself the wife of a soldier, and a man—one who is able to take her part, and knows how to defend his wife:—with such sentiments and expressions, the husband becomes infuriated against the sailor, and quarrels are every now and then produced.

I wish I could stop here to avoid exposing the shameless want of reserve with these women towards the sailors. Those occurrences almost entirely are to be attributed to that unwise use of spirits. From this erroneous indulgence I am perfectly convinced that all the evils alluded to arise: the consequences, if placed fully before the authority that permits the custom, must excite those conclusions which will ensure its recall. I am unwilling to acknowledge it, but must however declare, that on every occasion wherein a misunderstanding 56has occurred on board the Neptune, during this voyage, its origin could be instantly traced to the mischief or jealous disposition of those troublesome, drunken frail ones.

A record or two from my journal will serve to elucidate this assertion and maintain its accuracy, and exhibit the singular ingenuity with which the principal movers of the scene generally contrived to keep themselves screened from personal recognition.

February 4th.—At 8 P. M. the ship was disturbed by Serjeant Bisset quarrelling with one of the soldiers (Taylor). On inquiry, it appeared that Taylor had just come off deck and was quietly going to bed, when Bisset struck him: I had occasion to be in the barrack-room on professional duty about five minutes before the riot happened; Serjeant Bisset was then talking in a very loud and angry tone, and certainly appeared to me not sober. The commanding officer settled the matter as he thought sufficiently, and Bisset went to his birth. At 9, cries and screams issued from the soldiers’ sleeping-place, which were audible all over the ship; this was occasioned by Bisset beating his wife. He swore the most dreadful oaths that he would “massacre her.” So much noise and disorderly conduct attracted many of the convicts to the after-hatchway to witness the scene. The second and third mates went below to endeavour to restore tranquillity, but the serjeant seized the third mate and struck him several times. At this moment I went to the hatchway, and saw one of the sailors lay hold of Bisset, saying he would not allow his officer to be struck; upon which Corporal Kerr came to the assistance 57of Bisset, and swore he would take his serjeant’s part. Fortunately, at this moment the commanding officer interfered, and put an end to the affray, which had like to be attended with more serious consequences. It is to be observed, that the corporal who volunteered in the support of Bisset used to have frequent quarrels with him.”

March 8th.—About 5 in the evening Lieutenant Bunney was engaged in endeavouring to suppress riot and disorder amongst the soldiers, several of whom were confined for drunkenness. Here was a proof of the bad effects of allowing such a mischievous quantity of spirits to the men, whose duty was comparatively light and easy,—full half a gill each day beyond what is distributed to the guards on duty in a transport ship. One of the above put himself in an attitude of offence, and showed all the inclination in his power to strike me, in the presence of Captain Carns, for having in the mildest manner remonstrated with him on the impropriety of his conduct.”

March 25th.—At half past 5 this evening, on coming out of the prison, I found the commanding officer and Captain Carns trying to suppress a quarrel that had arisen among the soldiers’ wives, which was likely to become serious from the husbands’ interfering. Serjeant Bisset seemed transported with passion, and in my hearing talked something of a sword to Captain Carns, and said he would be d—d if he would obey any of his orders. Inquiring into the cause of this outrageous conduct, I was informed that Captain Carns, who is remarkable for a humane and kind disposition, in trying to pacify Bisset, took hold of his 58coat gently, on which the intoxicated man with fury swore that if he had his sword he would run him through. This part of Bisset’s behaviour I had not an opportunity of witnessing; but I came sufficiently in time to see him act in the most disrespectful and insolent manner towards Captain Carns.”

These are a few of the mischievous effects arising from the unnecessary allowance of liquor among men whose lives and habits may have been previously sober and orderly. The evil was undoubtedly increased by the women’s participating in the intoxication, as they were under no restraint whatever, except the brutal correction inflicted by their infuriated husbands. These women having no employment, and influenced by drink, have too much leisure to indulge in licentiousness; disorderly quarrels must be the constant and inevitable consequence.

Here it may be asked, Will convicts witnessing those excesses, remain indifferent spectators of what is passing before them? Such is the manner in which a convict ship is laid out, that every thing almost occurring among the soldiers between deck, is within view of the prisoners. Will any of them in whose bosom there still lurks the spirit of licentiousness, fail to catch at the opportunity of again indulging in his favourite propensity? One cannot help shuddering to contemplate the horrible consequences which follow the footsteps of a female of those abandoned habits in such a situation. If not at once successful in his plans, either to secure a base gratification, or carry into effect a conspiracy for escaping; still circumstances will grow out of this guilty correspondence 59with the women, which will overturn all endeavours to produce moral impressions, and the inveterate habits of crime will again be cherished. The contagion did not remain among the soldiers and sailors alone, as will appear from the following extract from my journal, which more fully explains my meaning.

April 10th.—Numerous complaints were made this morning in the prison against William Bamford, (bad character, convicted of forgery, transported for life), for being drunk the previous night, and conducting himself in a most riotous and disorderly manner, to the great annoyance of every one near him. At half past 10 A. M. I had him and his accusers brought upon deck, in order to give the matter an ample and fair investigation. It was clearly proved, that Bamford was in the state complained of, and had used expressions of the most shocking and abominable nature; and had, in other respects, behaved most shamefully and disgracefully. He was interrogated respecting the way he had obtained the liquor; but on this head he would give no information whatever. For this multiplied offence he was punished with three dozen lashes.”

On this case of Bamford I have to remark, that I subsequently obtained proof of his having received the spirits from the wife of one of the soldiers; that between these two there existed a guilty understanding, which was plainly evinced after the convicts had been landed in the colony. This Bamford had been one of the persons engaged in the traffic of forged notes; and, like all those who follow that iniquitous occupation, was possessed of abundance of money. The 60soldier’s wife above mentioned, on the arrival of the ship at Sydney, contrived to conceal herself from her husband all the time the vessel remained at that place, until it sailed with the detachment for India. This woman was afterwards known to join Bamford and live with him in a domestic way, thereby consummating her abandoned character with the additional crime of adultery.

Little doubt remains on my mind, that all these unhappy results might have been prevented by regulations regarding the allowance of rum, better than those at present adopted. Were I permitted to offer a suggestion on a subject connected with the military service,—and I would obtrude an opinion only respecting this particular department,—I would advise the quantity of spirits distributed to each soldier on duty in a convict ship to be but one half of that now given; and that the women, if any were suffered to embark, should not be allowed spirits on any account, as they have not to undergo any fatigue or distressing labour; above all, that no share whatever should be set apart for the children.

By this simple regulation the disorders complained of as now prevailing would be prevented, and the health of the soldiers preserved; which was not the case during the voyage in question, as scarcely a day passed without the name of one or more soldiers appearing in the sick list. This circumstance was the more remarkable, as the disposition to disease continued as long as the rum lasted; but a visible improvement in their general health became evident as soon as the spirits were expended, which happily took place shortly after leaving the Cape of Good Hope.

61One circumstance, which hitherto escaped my recollection, I shall here introduce as being in some measure connected with the preceding facts. The irregularities arising from a practice the soldiers had of conveying below the spirits they received as their ration, and there bartering them with one another, or with the women, became seriously great: many of the soldiers were observed to be orderly and sober; but in proportion as these were correct, the others and the women were the more drunken and dissolute,—the poisonous beverage having been in the former case not swallowed at all, and in the latter drunk beyond all moderation. An expedient was of necessity adopted, which was found somewhat beneficial in correction of the above improper behaviour. This was, that each soldier was obliged to come to the tub for his allowance of grog, there to remain until he drank it: by this means no unfair transfer of the spirits could take place.

With regard to the women and children, I would recommend a moderate supply of wine to be placed in charge with the Surgeon Superintendent, to be distributed at his discretion, according to their necessities or wants in sickness; this, I will venture to say, will in a great measure put a stop to the evils which now so deplorably exist.

I now revert to the more cheerful task of recording the advancement of the convicts in the paths of order, decency, and religious duty. No occasion was let slip to seize upon every moment when any circumstance presented itself conducive to the main object in view. I read to them regularly every Sunday, and on other suitable days, a sermon selected for the occasion, and 62adapted as much as possible to the state of existing circumstances; and afterwards generally read the same discourse to the guards and sailors upon deck, as I considered that the surest means of preventing them from making an ill use of such opportunities as they should chance to have of conversing with the prisoners, and therefore maintaining any improper communication. I have much reason to believe that the wholesome moral arguments of Dr. Blair, and other divines whose writings I made use of, carried a degree of lasting conviction to the minds of the prisoners, and that the good impressions were afterwards improved during the moments of reflection.

The boys, too, continued to advance considerably in the reading of the holy scriptures, and the happiest results might be presaged from their assiduity, and their observance of the strict discipline instituted in the school. I had also the heartfelt satisfaction to find that their behaviour, at such hours as they were not engaged in the school, was correct; that the persons whom I had appointed to watch over them reported favourably of them; and, above all, that the unfortunate cause which induced me to separate them from each other no longer existed,—in fact, every trace of it had disappeared. There was a silent submissiveness in their manner, which formed a pleasing contrast to that forwardness and unblushing confidence for which they were before remarkable; nor was an indecent expression, oath, or obscene song, ever heard amongst them.

Many of the convicts continued sickly, and afflicted with chronic diseases, which were often aggravated by 63the damp occasioned by the heavy working of the ship through high seas and boisterous weather. The greatest care was taken to stop the temporary leaks which thus appeared; and the stoves were kept in daily and constant use, to prevent any bad consequences arising from wet decks and damp bedding.

A certain number of the healthy prisoners were allowed to exercise a sufficient time every day upon deck, for the benefit of the fresh air; these were regularly succeeded by another division, usually one third of the whole; these afterwards by another, so that all enjoyed air and exercise a certain number of hours every day. This arrangement also produced a good deal of bustle amongst them, by removing from the prison to the deck, and relieving each other in a manner from the irksomeness of confinement; and formed a sort of substitute for employment during the day, by the temporary movements and changes it created among themselves. The convalescents were not limited to any particular number of hours upon deck, and whenever the weather would permit, they were allowed to remain as long as they liked.

The conduct of the convicts generally was such in every respect as to merit approbation. A muster of the different articles, books, &c. belonging to each mess was regularly observed; and on such occasions correctness and cleanliness were so observable as almost invariably to preclude censure; rarely was there any necessity of now withholding their allowance of wine, or inflicting any other punishment.

On approaching the Cape of Good Hope, I was agreeably surprised by a request, very respectfully made 64by the convicts, to take charge of a letter written by some of themselves, and signed by the entire number, addressed to Lord Sidmouth, and to forward it as soon as might be convenient. With this request I cheerfully complied; and as the letter may afford the reader as much pleasure as it has done myself, it is imparted freely, being copied from the original by one of the convicts, and presented to me at the same time. Its contents are as follow.

“On board the Neptune,
Cape of Good Hope, March 3, 1818.
My Lord,

“Degraded as we are in our own estimation, it is with feelings of diffidence and respect that we presume to obtrude ourselves upon your Lordship’s notice. Trusting to that liberality of sentiment which has so long characterized your lordship’s conduct, both in public and private life, we hope your lordship will pardon this trespass on your valuable time. It is not our intention to try to extenuate those crimes for which we are justly driven from the society and endearments of our native country. Deeply feeling our situation as convicts, having violated laws both human and divine, it behoves us to reflect seriously on our past conduct, and endeavour to make such reparation as is still within our humble power. Animated with these sentiments, we consider it our first and paramount duty to pay that homage and adoration to the supreme Ruler of the universe, which the Creator expects from the creature. When all our visionary plans had terminated in disappointment, shame, and misery, the just sentence of exile made our wretched condition 65incapable of receiving any increase. In this situation many of us received consolations from religion which we had never before experienced. It is with joyful feelings we acquaint your Lordship of the encouragement we have received at all times from the officers of this ship to persevere in religious duties. The countenance and example of the Captain and Surgeon have preserved respect for those who were seriously disposed, drawn some from the paths of vice, and maintained order and regularity throughout. Since the time of our embarkation, divine service or a discourse from Dr. Blair’s Sermons has been read to us every Sunday by the Surgeon, the beneficial effects of which are most conspicuous; and we doubt not will continue to be felt by some of us for the remainder of our lives. There is nothing which tends to soften stubborn dispositions, and inspire the mind with such awe and reverence, as a constant attention to those duties which we owe to our Maker. It is he alone who can subdue and console the human heart; and most of us, my Lord, are now persuaded of this great truth, that if we are constantly and habitually in the practice of violating his commandments, we cannot reasonably expect prosperity in this world, or happiness in the next. It would be great presumption in us to point out to your Lordship the advantages and blessings of having the mind even a little enlightened by education; but we cannot suppress the pleasure it gives us to notice that a school has been established under the auspices of the Surgeon, who has appointed people properly qualified to instruct the boys, of whom there are upwards of twenty in the ship. What exertions and progress have been made 66in releasing these children of nature from the darkness of ignorance, we submit to the opinion of the Surgeon, who superintends them; and in his official report of us we are well convinced that impartial justice will be done to the conduct and character of every one; and we confidently hope and think, that that report will be as satisfactory to His Majesty’s Government, as creditable to those who are the objects of it. We further hope, that by the time we reach our ultimate destination there will be very few of us unacquainted with the consoling truths of revealed religion. The idea of being instrumental in effecting so happy a change will be a rich reward for any pains or assiduity it may cost. That it may be our lot, is the sincere and ardent prayer of our hearts; so that all of us may exclaim in the language of the publican, ‘Lord, be merciful to us sinners.’ We would here, my Lord, take the liberty of expressing our most sincere and grateful acknowledgements for those comforts that have been provided for us, which, with the unwearied attention and assiduity of the Surgeon and Captain, have proved so truly beneficial to our health. With great deference and respect we humbly subscribe ourselves

“Your Lordship’s
“Most obedient and truly devoted servants.”
(Signed by one hundred and seventy.)
“To the Right Hon. Lord Viscount Sidmouth,
Secretary of State, &c.”

The above may afford a tolerably correct idea of the state of mind in which these people were, even at that part of their voyage, and of the benefits which they derived 67from the moral system instituted. It certainly exhibits proof of considerable feeling, and no small share of talent, existing among this degraded community. To the above document were affixed one hundred and seventy signatures; and as the matter was altogether of their spontaneous doing, I wished to encourage the spirit in which it originated: to their wish, therefore, to have it forwarded as they desired, as it became to me a pleasing duty to comply with it, I acceded, the more willingly, from a feeling of humanity towards their unfortunate situation.

The above letter was forwarded to the Secretary of State for the Home Department by an early conveyance from the Cape of Good Hope, where the Neptune stopped for some short time for the purpose of recruiting her stock of water, and obtaining a supply of fresh provisions for the convicts and guards. An application was made in person by Captain Carns to the Governor at the Cape, to have the two mutinous seamen, Waterson and Anderson, put on shore, as it was dangerous to take them any further; but the Governor did not seem to think that the matter came under his cognizance. However, some time after this, the business was so arranged that those dangerous men were allowed to take their discharge, and being paid their wages were set on shore at Cape Town, and finally dismissed.

The great object I had in view, and the system adopted for the management and well-being of the convicts on board, were seriously affected, and in some degree materially embarrassed, by an occurrence which took place whilst the Neptune was lying at the Cape. As this matter appears to me to concern the situation 68of the prisoners, the relation, taken from the journal in the precise manner in which the transaction passed, is here introduced.

March 5th.—At 11 P. M. the master having signified that it was the Governor’s wish to see us on shore, we waited on His Excellency. His Lordship’s manner at this interview, for such it may be strictly called, as conversation was out of the question, appeared so singular that it seems well worthy of a place in this journal. On our being announced, the doors were thrown open and we advanced, when we had the honour of seeing His Lordship, who on the instant waved his hand,—turned on his heel,—muttered something about ‘Colonel Bird,’—and disappeared: such was the substance of our interview with the Governor by his own appointment.”——“It might be asked, Would His Excellency have treated his groom and his jockey with that sort of politeness as on this occasion he thought proper to show towards a respectable master of a London merchant ship and a surgeon of His Majesty’s navy, engaged to attend him, at his own desire, in an affair of public duty?”

On being thus referred to Colonel Bird, then deputy secretary to the colony, that gentleman acquainted us of the Governor’s intention of sending on board the Neptune sixteen convicts who had escaped from New South Wales, in the Harriet just arrived from that country. We represented the impossibility of accommodating so many. The agent for transports was sent for to have his opinion on the case, and he confirmed the report we had made. About an hour after this we again saw Colonel Bird, who said the 69Governor had made up his mind to send us the sixteen convicts. To this I replied, The instructions of the Navy Board neither required nor authorized me to receive more prisoners than I thought the ship could accommodate. The Colonel then observed that the Governor would give a positive order for them to be received, and take all the responsibility on himself. I lost no time in writing to the colonial secretary, stating my decided opinion, that the ship had neither room nor accommodation for so many, and requesting a survey to be held on board of her before the additional number of convicts should be sent.

“Of this letter no notice whatever was taken, as it appears, nor any answer returned. Our application to the Government naval commissioner, and fiscal, for the removal of the mutinous seamen had been equally unsuccessful, every one in authority evading these necessary and important requests by shifting the matter from one to another’s hands,—every one saying that the affair did not come within his department; so that, in fact, an applicant at any office of those ‘departments’ would find it necessary to make himself acquainted with all their etiquette and routine, before he could understand how to prefer a petition properly for the redress of any grievance or the removal of any inconvenience how pressing soever, or the rectification of any error however urgent its nature might be. Let this mode of conducting public business be applied to the concerns of the port of London, or any of the great commercial towns, and say what would be its consequence.”

March 6th.—At half past six this morning the 70under sheriff brought two colonial convicts on board, for whom accommodation had been provided, though even that was effected with considerable inconvenience. The above officer stated, that the Governor had altered his intention, and had sent those two instead of the sixteen deserters who had come in the Harriet. The master gave the usual receipt for them, and they were victualled accordingly. About 3 P. M. the same person returned to the ship, saying the fiscal had ordered him to take the two prisoners back; but this was refused until an order was produced from some one legally empowered by the Government to do so.

March 7th.—At half past 10 A. M. the agent for transports came on board and informed me, that he was desired by the commissioner to get a copy of the charter-party and my instructions, both of which and a copy of Captain Carns’s I procured for him. He also brought with him a carpenter from the shore to build an apartment in the prison, for the sixteen convicts already mentioned. In the same boat with the agent came a Captain Gill, who delivered to the master the order of the Governor to receive those men. The colonial secretary left altogether unnoticed, my letter to him requesting a survey of the ship to be made before any order should be issued for sending so great an additional number of convicts on board. In this manner was I reluctantly compelled to acquiesce, against my judgement, in receiving more convicts than the ship could accommodate; which involved the manifest risk of exposing the whole to much inconvenience, if not serious danger, during the remainder of the voyage.”

71March 8th.—Several carpenters from the shore employed in building a bulk-head in the prison. At 10 A. M. seven private invalid soldiers from the shore belonging to the 83d regiment came on board, as an extra guard. At 12 I read a sermon in the prison, at which Captain Carns and the commanding officer attended; after which I expressed to the prisoners my entire approbation of their conduct, and exhorted them to persevere; at the same time stating it as our determination to give them every indulgence in our power. They all expressed their thanks, and seemed highly grateful.”

March 11th.—At half past 10 A. M., the weather having moderated a little, a boat was manned and armed, in which I went to the Harriet to arrange for the conveyance of the convicts to the Neptune. The master of the Harriet either could not or would not afford a boat, consequently we were obliged to make two trips between the ships before the transfer was accomplished. When they were all on board, I had their hair cut off, and ordered them each to be washed in the bathing tub. After this very needful operation they all received, according to the Governor’s order, two suits of slop clothing, and the rags in which they came were thrown into the sea.”

Several reasons offer themselves to justify one in pronouncing this proceeding at the Cape, on the part of the local authorities, respecting the obtrusion of the sixteen additional prisoners, as being, at the very least that may be said of it, harsh. This is stated not from any personal inconvenience which could arise to myself from an increase of professional duty; but the term is applied to that proceeding from reference to the 72former number of convicts even more than the ship’s proper number,—the Neptune in a subsequent voyage having carried out only one hundred and fifty-six, that being, it appears, the complement proper for her accommodation.

Lest my opinion of this transaction should seem in any respect unjust, I am desirous of explaining why I consider the putting such an extraordinary number into a vessel already overcrowded, as must appear from her having one hundred and seventy prisoners on board, instead of her proper complement of one hundred and fifty-six, highly injudicious and dangerous. A convict ship laid out for a certain number of prisoners cannot prudently be altered for the reception of more, without a manifest risk of inconvenience and danger;—the former, on account of confining their sleeping-places, seats, exercise, &c. and the latter, from the foulness of the atmospheric medium, in which the crowd must respire the doubtful or perhaps diseased exhalations from each other’s lungs.

In the present case this was the more striking, as even with all the care, regular exercise, and the most careful attention to the daily state of the convicts; even with all my experience of their constitutions and disorders, during the time the ship was proceeding from the Thames to the Cape of Good Hope; still an extreme hazard was incurred by the admission of a fresh number of men, besides including the seven invalids, all of course strangers to the regimen previously used; and perhaps, as might be suspected, tainted with infectious diseases.

These sixteen men having escaped from New South 73Wales, must have endured such hardships and privations as would be likely to superinduce contagious disease, and the miserable state in which they were when taken on board, excited strong apprehensions to that effect. Having made minute inquiry from one of the number, I learned that these wretched men had contrived to secrete themselves in the hold of the Harriet, where they lay concealed for more than a month before they were discovered; having subsisted that time on some miserable matters they had brought away with them, and on a small store belonging to the owner, to which they had penetrated privately. In this wretched state they continued in a horrible and disgusting condition, so that they were of an appearance extremely forbidding when brought on board.

But a circumstance more imperative on my attention was, how to dispose of them in such a way as to guard against the principles they might possess, and to prevent their commixture with such seeds of error and vice as might be only suppressed in the original convicts. All these unpleasant consequences grew out of the crude intimation of the Governor’s,—for His Excellency does not seem to have thoroughly known his own intentions, even after it was signified that he had “made up his mind” to send the sixteen convicts on board the Neptune. How else can it be comprehended, that the positive order of sending sixteen prisoners, as was spoken of, had been altered for the shipment of the two colonial convicts from the Cape district only? Can it be that the sheriff in bringing those two on board acted under the single authority of the fiscal?—or was that authority of such preponderating 74power, at the seat of government, as to weigh down against every other?

This latter unaccountable experiment having been tried, another was resorted to, to obtain from the ship’s charter-party whether any objection lurked in that instrument, or in the copy of my instructions. Special care was taken that the person sent for that purpose should be allowed to copy those documents freely, as it was the desire of the Naval Commissioner; and the spirit of accommodation went further, by giving also a copy of the Master’s instructions: for all this, what complaisance was shown in turn? My letter, requesting a survey of the ship to be made before the Governor’s “positive” should be issued, was not at all attended to, although it was exclusively on the public service; nor was it treated with that common politeness which every communication of the sort is generally entitled to.

His Excellency deigned to convey his intentions through the agency of a third person, who was allowed to express them in his stead, although I had the honour of waiting on him for that purpose, it is presumed, by his own appointment. His pleasure, when made known, was issued in the teeth of the report made by the agent for transports, “That the ship could not accommodate the increased number which was intended to be sent;” yet were sixteen, besides the additional guard of seven invalids, thrust upon a crowded ship, without the least deference to the judgement of those who were most competent to decide on an affair in which the lives of one hundred and eighty-six prisoners were concerned.

75I am at a loss to think whether it be proper or not to state the strange yet bold declaration of His Excellency Lord Charles Somerset, the governor at the Cape of Good Hope, when he understood that my objections to the reception of the deserters were not to be removed unless by the power of a “positive order,” that His Excellency was pleased to signify his willingness to take upon himself the responsibility of the affair, and “were all the prisoners to die, he would be answerable for the consequences.” Thank Heaven! the men all came safe to their destination, and I had the gratification to leave His Excellency to enjoy in full security the pleasure of having so nobly enforced a measure, which appears to have engaged much of his serious intentions as to a determined exercise, at any risk, of his supreme authority.

Every precaution was now adopted to prevent communication with the deserters. This was desirable for two motives: to prevent either moral or physical contagion, and to preclude conversation altogether between the old and new prisoners. The body of the prison was occupied by the old prisoners, and the usual attention to bathing, exercise in the fresh air, airing beds, &c. was observed; they were strictly enjoined to abstain from all communication with the sixteen on any account, and this I never knew one of them to violate. The deserters were kept confined in a separate prison by themselves, and were totally and effectually excluded from the society and conversation of the others. Books of a religious kind were supplied to them, and they also had the benefit of bathing and exercise in the open air, but always at times when 76the other convicts were put out of the way. Indeed the prison door of the deserters was never upon any occasion opened but when I was present. By this arrangement the whole prisoners were kept firm in the moral improvement they had made, and served as a pattern to the new ones, whose conduct became so good as to exceed every hope I had formed respecting them. The poor fellows had smarted sorely for their rash imprudence in withdrawing from the colony, and now returned back execrating the folly which had seduced them, declaring their determined purpose to make every atonement for their offence, and to endeavour at a thorough amendment in future.

The sixteen were not allowed any wine during their return to New South Wales; I was therefore agreeably surprised one day when a paper was put into my hand, in a very respectful manner, by one of the old prisoners, as they were called, in which they unanimously and earnestly requested permission to share their allowance of wine with the new prisoners. Being much pleased with this generous and considerate offer, I indulged them accordingly in their humane effort of contributing to the comfort of their brethren in bondage.

By this strict management the conduct of the sixteen convicts became correct and even exemplary. To them also I addressed some select moral discourse regularly, and every individual among them seemed to vie with his companions in avoiding every thing verging on impropriety; and the language of passion, anger, or indecency, became quite strange among them.

The boys had made a considerable advancement in 77their school business, and it was pleasing and edifying to observe their demeanour, and the correctness with which they read the holy Scriptures. Constant application had made many of them familiar with the sacred pages; and it was to be hoped that the divine truths contained in them had imparted happy influence to their hearts, as not a word of a corrupt, obscene, or improper nature was now heard uttered by any one of them.

The conduct of one young man was particularly praiseworthy; and although it may be looked upon as rather trifling, I beg leave to say something of it here. This youth, William Roberts, urged by an ardent desire to make himself useful, wrote a letter marked by an uncommon neatness of expression, in which he entreated to be allowed at some time out of the school hours, to read to the younger boys who appeared least proficient, and by his additional exertions enable them to get forward more rapidly in the study of the Bible. This young man had also produced much good effect by a remarkable willingness of manner, as the rest were in a great measure led by his example.

The gratitude constantly expressed by these unfortunate youths fully testified their sincerity, and proved their sense of the valuable advantages derived from the kind treatment showed them, and the instructions they had received. Nor was their example lost upon the men, who were unanimous in declaring how much happier they felt themselves in the circumstances of their exile, than they had ever known, even when most successful in the career of crime. Their minds seemed now at ease,—their wants were alleviated by 78a liberal provision,—while a sense of their good behaviour encouraged them to hope for a favourable reception from the Governor of New South Wales.

In this improved and comparatively happy state the Neptune proceeded without any accident to her destination, and on the fifth of May we saw Botany Bay. At half past 10 the same day we entered the Heads of Port Jackson, and shortly after received a pilot on board. At noon we anchored to wait for the tide, and in half an hour the Naval Officer came on board. Captain Carns accompanied me to wait on the Governor with the dispatches from England. Soon after I had the few remaining invalids removed to the hospital on shore, and some days afterwards the principal superintendent of convicts came on board, and received the sixteen whom we had from the Harriet at the Cape of Good Hope.

The convicts whom I originally brought out from England, had among themselves agreed to express their sentiments as to the voyage, in a letter which was delivered to me by one of them. A copy of this document is subjoined, not from any consideration of its value with regard to myself, but merely to show the state of mind in which these people arrived at their place of exile. This letter was communicated previously to the landing of the sixteen deserters, who signed it in common with their other fellow prisoners.

“On board the Neptune,
“Sydney Cove, 8th May, 1818.

“Being now safely arrived, through the merciful dispensation of an all-wise Providence, at the place of 79destination to which the laws of our country have consigned us; and being perfectly sensible of the great attention you have on every occasion paid us during this long and tedious passage, we cannot help availing ourselves of the present opportunity of presenting to you our unfeigned and grateful acknowledgements for the kind, condescending and benevolent disposition you have invariably manifested to supply our wants, redress our grievances, and render our situation as happy and comfortable as circumstances would admit of: that in the faithful discharge of your public duty as Surgeon and Superintendent of this ship, we must beg leave to bear ample testimony of your assiduous care, and unremitting attention, which has ever been guided by the dictates of humanity, and which we are well convinced must and does emanate from a noble mind, and generous heart. These, Sir, are not the ebullitions of flattery, but the genuine sentiments of our hearts, filled with admiration of your eminent virtues and transcendent abilities, which cannot be obliterated from our memory till time itself shall be no more. We take the liberty, Sir, of requesting you to accept our sincere wishes for your health, happiness, and prosperity, being the only tribute within our humble power. May the Almighty, in his infinite goodness and mercy, shower down his blessings upon you, is our sincere and ardent prayer. With every sentiment of deference and respect, we are, Sir,

“Your ever obliged and grateful servants.”
(Signed by one hundred and eighty six.)
“To Mr. Thomas Reid,
“Surgeon and Superintendent.”

80Shortly after the arrival of the ship, Mr. Secretary Campbell came on board and mustered the whole of the prisoners. He interrogated them individually respecting their health and their usage on board, to which their answers were most satisfactory and gratifying. The usual regular exercises of religious reading, and occasional exhortation, were continued as before without intermission until the convicts were finally removed to the shore, and disposed of according to the Governor’s commands. It was at their departure from the ship that they first seemed to feel the distressing effects of banishment: they left it with tears and sorrow, as if it had been their cherished home; and moved away in silent grief like the members of a family which had been overwhelmed with a sudden calamity.

His Excellency was pleased to express his opinion of this voyage in the following terms, which he wrote himself in my journal.

“I have perused with peculiar interest and satisfaction the foregoing journal of Thomas Reid, Esq., Surgeon and Superintendent of the Neptune male convict ship.”

(Signed) “L. Macquarie.
“Government House, Sydney,
“New South Wales, 6 June, 1818.”

Thus happily terminated a voyage of considerable length, the circumstances of which were of deep interest, as involving the solution of a problem, whether male convicts are susceptible of being reclaimed from long established habits of idleness, immorality, and 81wickedness. Here was obtained irrefragable proof that the human heart never can be so thoroughly debased by vice, but still a portion remains uncontaminated; and that there are still left the seeds of improvement in the human breast, which require only a timely and careful cultivation to bring again into the state of reproducing good and wholesome fruits.

During my stay in the colony, which was only for a few weeks, in order to prosecute some inquiries on subjects of Natural History with which that country is eminently abundant, many of my leisure hours were passed in the society of men distinguished by their elevated situations, and still more by their very engaging manners, fund of useful knowledge, and that urbanity which bids the stranger feel himself at home.

I should deem myself to act most unworthily, did I not here declare my obligations to Governor Macquarie for the truly polite and invariable attention I received during my stay. Indeed I shall never forget the acknowledgements I stand indebted for his kindness in affording to my inquiries every desirable facility in the researches I had occasion to make. For His Excellency’s hospitable reception, and the numerous friends with whom I thus enjoyed the social converse, and the happy absence of reserve, make me look upon and value that short period as among the most pleasant days of my existence.

I made many excursions from Sydney into the interior of the country, and found my researches well rewarded by valuable specimens in almost every branch of Natural History, particularly Geology, to which 82my principal attention was then directed. Of these specimens I made a very considerable collection for the gratification of some esteemed friends in London. The observations made on those occasions I had thrown into a concise arrangement in the form of notes, suited to the collection of each day’s excursion, intending to transcribe them at large in a scientific form, during the voyage home. An awful occurrence, however, defeated my intentions in that respect.

Having been intrusted with the dispatches of Governor Macquarie to the Government at home, it was necessary to return to Europe with as little delay as possible: accordingly, taking advantage of the opportunity afforded by the Neptune, which was going to India, I went thither, and there embarked in the first vessel which was about to sail for England. Near the island of Mauritius a dreadful hurricane came on, which nearly caused the destruction of the vessel, and reduced her to a wreck. Almost every thing on board was destroyed, and with the greatest difficulty were my exertions sufficient to preserve the Government dispatches at the utmost risk of my life. My whole collection of specimens was unfortunately lost; my clothes, books, and papers, except some private memoranda, shared the same fate; and I found myself on the shore of Port Louis destitute of every personal comfort, and deprived of many very valuable matters independently of the losses above enumerated. Among these I had to regret the loss of my remarks on the Natural History of New South Wales, collected from my own observations during the time I had remained in that country. A very valuable set of surgical instruments 83also was unfortunately carried away during the awful visitation of that storm.—The recollection of this misfortune always brings distressing thoughts to my mind.

With respect to my losses on that occasion, I felt some consolation in the hope that the Government would direct some indemnification for them, as I might, perhaps, have saved some things of value belonging to myself during the tempest, had not my endeavours been exclusively devoted to the preservation of the dispatches. With the result of my expectations of being thus indemnified I have no reason to congratulate myself; for, although the claim was couched and urged in the most respectful language, it did not appear to be considered a fit application, and I was obliged to reconcile myself to the loss and disappointment[4].

Previously to that unfortunate occurrence, I had made notes of some observations regarding the treatment of the convicts during the voyage, and the effects of the system which I found it proper to employ. Those papers being of considerable extent occupied much of my time and attention on the passage from New South Wales; but they too became involved in the above disaster off the Mauritius. I had the greater reason to regret this latter circumstance, as my intention 84was thereby defeated of laying before the Commissioners of the Navy a full and detailed account of the voyage, for the “information of His Majesty’s Secretary of State.”

I considered it, however, an indispensable duty to draw up a statement from such materials as memory could furnish, agreeably to the instructions received from the Navy Board; and in compliance, immediately on my return to London, I made a hasty sketch of my remarks in the form of a letter addressed to that Board; but as I have not since been favoured with any intimation of its ever having been received, I am compelled to think that it never came to hand. As this document may be interesting to those who bestow consideration on the subject of these remarks, I beg leave to subjoin a copy of it from the rough draught which happened to remain with me.

“London, 3rd September, 1819.

“I have the honour to acquaint you of my return from New South Wales, whither you were pleased to send me as Surgeon and Superintendent of the late convict ship Neptune. In obedience to your instructions, I took occasion to give a sketch or outline of the measures I employed for the management of the convicts, in a letter I had the honour to address you from the Cape of Good Hope, dated 8th March 1818. On this head I have only to add, that we received sixteen more convicts at that colony, and seven soldiers additional guard, which crowded us considerably; but I am happy to say we performed the voyage without losing a man.

85“In the letter above alluded to, I mentioned having formed twenty-three of our juvenile depredators into a school, of whom only three knew the alphabet. I found it an agreeable relaxation from other duties, to instruct, and to the best of my power reclaim, these children of error; and I am glad to say my endeavours were not unavailing; for, before we arrived at Sydney, they could all read the Scriptures gracefully, some indeed elegantly.

“In forming a few regulations for the guidance of the convicts while on board, I was desirous of trying the influence of religious exhortation; and I thought the dejected state of mind into which vice and folly had plunged them, a favourable opportunity for evincing its powers. I did not aim at too much at first; but by endeavouring to recall known truths to their minds, and impress a firm belief that the exercise of those virtues which still remained within their power, would contribute to meliorate their condition in a future state, I proceeded with facility and success far beyond the most earnest hope I had ever entertained. Indeed, so much did this plan improve their conduct and morals, that during the last two months they were on board, I am confident half a dozen oaths or obscene expressions were not uttered in the prison.

“It may not be irrelevant to mention, that such exemplary behaviour enabled us with safety to increase their comforts. Accordingly we had their irons struck off, and allowed the prison doors to be left open during the day, as marks of confidence which it was their interest to merit, and which they never abused. I do 86not mean to say that this plan might always be followed with impunity, or that the same means would always produce the same effects; but certain I am, that even convicts are susceptible of gratitude, which, when sincere, is not less binding than chains; and I think the subject thus attached is more likely at some future period to be useful to society, than he whose mind, unused to the language of consolation, sinks into pitiable imbecility, or too often is driven by despair to horrible deeds. I shall urge this subject no further than simply to state, that if your Board wish for a more detailed account of my system, it will give me great pleasure to particularize every circumstance that occurred during the voyage, that may appear worthy of its notice.

“I owe it to justice here to state, that during the voyage I received every possible assistance from Mr. Robert Carns, Master of the Neptune. On every occasion, his humanity and readiness to promote the comforts of the prisoners were most eminently conspicuous; and I am glad to have an opportunity of acknowledging, that, without his willing co-operation and excellent discipline, my endeavours could not have been so successful:—indeed, no man could have discharged a public duty with more zeal and fidelity.

“In obedience to the sixteenth article of Instructions furnished by your Honourable Board, I beg permission humbly and earnestly to solicit your attention to a few observations which, I think, would in some measure tend to reduce the mass of wretchedness that generally exists in a convict-ship. What I have to 87propose has this recommendation, That, while it contributes to suppress vice and immorality, it will also be some little diminution of the public expenses. I therefore trust that the following remarks will not be deemed entirely destitute of interest, how trifling soever they may appear.

First:—I think the allowance of spirits to the soldiers composing the guard in a convict-ship is too much by half. I am confident there was not a night, while they had full allowance in the Neptune, but some were intoxicated; and on some occasions more than half of them were found quite unfit for duty, notwithstanding their commanding officer did all he could to keep them in good order. This scene of debauchery was heightened by the very abandoned conduct of their wives, who, in fits of intoxication, would offer themselves indiscriminately for prostitution; which kept up constant jealousy, and excited quarrels between the soldiers and sailors that often assumed a very serious aspect. The commanding officer of the guard at length found it necessary to order the spirits to be drunk on deck at the tub, and none to be carried from thence; which certainly had a good effect; though I have seen the mothers urge their children to drink till they fell down totally insensible. These disgraceful excesses, which undermine and corrode every noble faculty of the soul, would be most effectually prevented by lessening the quantity of spirits to the soldiers, and allowing their wives and children none at all. I am sure it never improves their health; and it undoubtedly corrupts their morals. It is difficult to conceive what necessity a young child can have for spirits; and yet, in this service, 88it is allowed a certain quantity from the hour of its birth[5]. The fact is, the child’s allowance helps to make the mother drunk, in which state the dearest ties of nature are forgotten, and too often the wretched offspring falls a victim to the worse than brutal intemperance, and consequent neglect, of its unnatural parent. I shudder to say that two infants in the Neptune were sacrificed in this manner.

“I must beg leave to relate one fact, which I hope will be considered a satisfactory proof that this evil might be avoided. A few days after the Neptune sailed from the Cape of Good Hope, it was discovered that the quantity of spirits put on board for the guard was nearly expended, and it was then impossible to procure more: the consequence was, that for the last five weeks of the voyage they had none at all; and it was really surprising how much better they behaved during this period than they had done before. I took occasion to mention these facts to Governor Macquarie, who requested me to lay a statement of them before your Board. I had the honour of bearing his dispatches to Earl Bathurst, in which I am willing to hope he has enforced something on this subject.

Secondly:—The next thing on which I would beg permission to remark, is the quantity of water allowed to a convict, viz. two quarts per day, which in warm latitudes is by no means sufficient; and, agreeably to the scheme for victualling, the Surgeon cannot direct 89any more to be given, let the necessity be ever so great. That a number of men crowded together in a prison, and panting under a vertical sun, will suffer more inconvenience from thirst than others differently circumstanced, is a truth too obvious to need any illustration; and its force may be increased by stating, that the mercury of a thermometer in the prison uniformly ranged nine degrees higher than in any other part of the ship, though ventilation and every other cooling means were attended to very carefully, and upwards of fifty prisoners were always on deck twelve hours in the day. As every ship is required to have eight months’ water on board before she sails from England, this inconvenience might easily be obviated.

“While on this subject, it may not be improper to say a word or two on the quality of the water, to which sufficient attention is seldom or never paid. The filling of it in the river is always intrusted to the mate of the ship, who generally consults his own convenience, without much regarding the state of the tide, or whether it is salt or muddy; and in very many cases before the ship has been three weeks at sea it becomes both putrid and offensive. I would therefore humbly recommend, that not a cask be suffered to be filled without being carefully inspected by the Surgeon Superintendent. I have seen so much mischief result from inattention to this simple precaution, that humanity obliges me to represent it as an indispensable duty. I am persuaded no medical man who is anxious for the welfare of his charge, and values his own reputation, will think this remark unimportant or superfluous:—a 90strict observance of it would in the end spare him a great deal of trouble, and save many lives.

Thirdly:—Two pudding-bags ought to be allowed to each mess. At present there is only one, which is always worn out before the voyage is half over,—sometimes before it is commenced; and the poor creatures are exposed to much inconvenience. As prisoners, they are secluded from all the little resources of which a sailor can avail himself; and often their allowance of flour is rendered useless for want of something to boil it in.

Fourthly;—I am of opinion that in every ship there ought to be separate cooking places for the guards and convicts. To save a little expense, the owners generally provide but one boiler with a partition in it, one end of which is intended for the guards, the other for the convicts; but this very ill answers the purpose. Both dinners cannot be cooked at the same time, and in bad weather it is difficult to cook one; consequently some party must wait till an uncomfortably late hour every day, and sometimes go without entirely; which is sure to produce discontent.

Fifthly:—Were hammocks used in the hospital in lieu of the cradles, which hitherto have been fitted up, they would be found very convenient. The cradles are unwieldy things, and so completely fill the sick apartment, that room is not left for a patient to move a step from his bed, and cleanliness is thereby prevented. On the other hand, hammocks could be sent on deck in the morning, which would enable the Surgeon to employ ventilation, and ensure cleanliness 91whenever he pleased, on the efficacy of which I need not expatiate. Certain it is, that no sick person can ever be considered a fit subject for proving the powers of medicine, if the strictest attention be not given to air, diet, and cleanliness.

“It is with much diffidence that I have ventured to submit the foregoing remarks, which are deduced from faithful and accurate observation. I sincerely hope it will not be thought that I have offered my opinion with unbecoming confidence, or represented my own humble endeavours too presumptuously. My most ambitious wish is to contribute my mite to promote the cause of morality and Christian virtue; and should any thing I have here proposed be fortunate enough to meet with public approbation, and be carried into effect, I shall consider it a reward far beyond any other gratification I can derive from the service.

“I am sorry for having trespassed so long on your time; and it is with deep regret that I feel it necessary to solicit your further indulgence, to state the cause of my very tedious voyage from Sydney hither. When I received Governor Macquarie’s dispatches, he left it to my own judgement to proceed to Europe by the shortest route. I left Sydney the 9th June 1818 in the Neptune, and arrived at Madras in the middle of September, where, in consequence of the Canadian war, ships were wanted to carry troops to Ceylon, and she was chartered for that purpose. This would necessarily detain her in India two or three months; and as there was no ship about to sail for England, I proceeded to Calcutta, where I found one nearly ready to sail for Liverpool, in which I engaged a passage; but 92off the island of Mauritius she was overtaken by a violent hurricane, totally dismasted, and reduced to a complete wreck. With extreme difficulty I preserved Governor Macquarie’s dispatches, and a few private papers; but every other article in my possession perished. The ship was got into Port Louis a few days after, and I reported myself to the commanding naval officer; but no opportunity offered to enable me to proceed for nine weeks, when another hurricane came on that drove on shore or sunk every vessel in the harbour, which increased my detention sixteen days longer. Since that time a series of calms and contrary winds retarded my progress much beyond the time in which the voyage is generally performed.

“I take the liberty to inclose two certificates, that I hope will show the anxious desire I had to avoid delay, which, however, has unfortunately been too great; but, so far from serving any private end, has been attended with expense, inconvenience and distress, that I feel I shall long have occasion to deplore.

“I have the honour to be, &c.
(Signed) “Thomas Reid,
“Surgeon and Superintendent.”

The article alluded to in the above letter forms a part of the Instructions given from the Navy Board to every Surgeon in the convict service, and is as follows:

“In case any remark should occur to you respecting the general management of convicts on their passage, with a view still better to preserve their health, you are to communicate them to this Board for the information of the Secretary of State.”

4.  Since my late return from New South Wales, I laid a statement of my losses before the Commissioners for victualling His Majesty’s Navy; and I am truly grateful for the kindness and attention with which they were pleased to treat me. The only remuneration they could grant was, to order the value of my surgical instruments to be paid; which they did most readily.

5.  Since my last return to England, I have heard with sincere pleasure that this subject has engaged the attention of the Navy Board; who, with great propriety, have directed tea and sugar to be issued to the women and children in lieu of spirits.



Having in duty reported to the proper authority the account of my voyage in the Neptune, I was requested frequently to explain to several persons interested in the cause of humanity many particulars of my system of management in the superintendence of convicts during transportation. The commands of Mrs. Fry in this respect met my warmest wishes; and as that lady’s exertions were then most actively devoted to effect a virtuous change in the female prisoners in Newgate, it was suggested that taking charge of a female convict ship to New South Wales might be productive of similar consequences.

As this subject, therefore, occupied the benignant mind of that benefactress of the unfortunate of her sex, and through them of mankind, and in consequence of the good likely to result from the endeavour, I determined to contribute my humble aid in support of a cause so highly interesting in design, and noble in its end. It is a characteristic of the truly good and great, never to relax until the object deemed worthy of attention is attained. Mrs. Fry lost not a moment in waiting on the Comptroller of the Navy, who, instantly coinciding in her views, gave his full support and encouragement; 94and ordered my appointment immediately to the next female transport ship to be taken up for New South Wales. In many particulars this gentleman’s attention to arrangements more directly affecting the comforts of the convicts was conspicuous. In every instance, indeed, which has come within my knowledge, a prompt regard to the concerns of humanity has distinguished the conduct of Sir T. Byam Martin.

The Morley, a ship of four hundred and ninety-two tons register, was taken up for the above purpose, and ordered down to Deptford to undergo the necessary preparations. Whilst fitting up at that place, I was honoured by an invitation from Mrs. Fry, in compliance with which I accompanied that lady and two others, Mrs. Pryor and Miss Saunderson, members of the Committee, to visit the vessel and see the preparations going forward. Here the benevolent wishes of the ladies were met by polite and ready attention from Captain Young, R. N., agent for transports, under whose direction and superintendence these ships are fitted up, and whose zeal in the faithful discharge of every public duty is too well known to receive any additional honour from my feeble tribute of well-meant and honest approbation.

Many highly useful arrangements had already been made in the prison and hospital under Captain Young’s directions, which with some few exceptions were perfectly approved of; but the plan of an appropriate place for a school which the Committee were anxious to have established on board, to be continued throughout the voyage, had not as yet been attended to: 95however, on the suggestions of Mrs. Fry and her friends, as soon as the matter was fully made known to Captain Young, that intelligent officer instantly proposed a mode by which the desired point might be gained, and on consideration this plan was adopted and put into execution.

In these arrangements, the object of the ladies to have some convenient place set apart for the school was fully attained; but unfortunately the general plan of fitting up female convict ships could not be departed from, and security was therefore entirely lost sight of.

In a short time the Morley was fully prepared for the reception of the convicts, and soon after was ordered down to Woolwich to remain in the river, at anchor in Galleons Reach, until her complement should be received, convicts having been ordered to be forwarded thither from several prisons in England and Scotland.

The liberality of Government had allowed a free passage to a number of females who were permitted to join their husbands and relatives in New South Wales; and these, according to order from the office of the Home Department, were all on board within a certain day appointed. A considerable time had elapsed before the convicts, passengers, children, &c., were completely embarked, during which interval Mrs. Fry visited the ship occasionally to see her intentions fully effected; and this attention to the unhappy objects of her solicitude was the more valuable, as her time was then of the most pressing importance to her 96own interest and feeling, some valued relatives of hers being dangerously ill. Her absence, when unavoidable, was unremittingly supplied to the convicts by the care and watchfulness of Mrs. Pryor, whom not the roughest weather or greatest personal inconvenience could deter from the work of humanity. Her kind impressive admonitions and consoling advice were given to the unfortunate exiles without reserve, and several articles of comfort and convenience, which had been provided by the Committee, were then distributed by this amiable character.

Whilst these attentions to their personal wants were sedulously given, a due regard to their spiritual welfare was not forgotten. Bibles and Testaments, besides those supplied by the Navy Board, were furnished from the Committee, and also other books of a religious and moral description, peculiarly selected for their circumstances. The kindness of other benevolent persons contributed sermon books and religious tracts in the same manner, and merits particular mention for such generosity. My acknowledgements in this respect are especially due to Mrs. Wilkinson of Clapham Common, Robert Marsden of Doughty Street, Esq., and J. L. Nicholas of Southampton Row, Esq. By several other persons also whom I have not the pleasure to know, their names having been concealed, religious books and useful tracts were sent me through the same praiseworthy motives. The number of these publications altogether was so considerable, as to allow of a liberal distribution to the convicts and free passengers, who, by the good use made 97of their contents, have given ample proof of their grateful sense of the favours thus conferred[6].

A supply of books and other things fit for the children was carefully sent on board from the Ladies’ Committee; and, to complete their benevolent design, a quantity of straw for plaiting, and some materials for knitting and sewing, were purchased, as their funds would allow, in order to afford the convicts employment on the voyage.

Having well considered the mode in which the conduct of the convicts should be best submitted to the public, as the voyage was undertaken that the progress of reformation among these women should be undisguisedly laid open to observation, be the event favourable or otherwise to the wishes entertained of its success; it appeared the most candid course to state the whole train of occurrences, as they were entered daily in the journal, with that undeviating observance of truth which became the general design, and the most scrupulous attention to accuracy in the circumstances recorded. In this manner, every change for better or worse must pass successively under review, and a correct judgement of the whole be the more satisfactorily determined.

In consequence of this mode of detail, there will doubtless appear many instances of repetition, nor can 98much variety be expected to occur where the subject is of necessity so extremely limited. Nothing extraneous to the great object in view (the best means of reclaiming convicts from their vicious habits) has been suffered to hold a place in this journal, which is therefore as much as possible abstracted from my professional attentions during the voyage, being exclusively and literally a history of their minds, as well as it could be ascertained by incessant and close investigation; and a faithful record of every trait of amendment, as the system progressively evolves itself in its effects, discoverable in their behaviour.

The plan adopted is founded on strict impartiality. Where there has appeared cause for censure, reprehension has not been withheld; and wherever the behaviour merited approbation, they have received a just share of praise; but in no regard whatever has strict justice been intentionally departed from.

The efficacy of proper regulations having been proved on board the Neptune, in restraining the turbulent from licentiousness, and bringing all under the influence of order, I drew up the following Regulations, which being fixed up conspicuously in the prison, presented daily admonition, and took away all excuse, at least on the plea of ignorance, for breach of discipline; and the ready and cheerful manner they were generally acquiesced in afforded me much satisfaction.


With a view to ensure the health and comfort of the prisoners, as also to establish a system of good order, decency, and religious conduct during the voyage, 99the Surgeon Superintendent has drawn up the following regulations, which must be most strictly observed.

The care and management of each mess shall be intrusted to a Monitor, who will be held responsible for any irregularities committed by those under her direction: it is expected that every one will behave respectfully, and be obedient to the monitor of her particular mess.
Cursing and swearing,—obscene and indecent language,—fighting and quarrelling,—as such practices tend to dishonour God’s holy name, and corrupt good manners, will incur the displeasure of the Surgeon Superintendent, and be visited with punishment and disgrace.
Cleanliness being essentially necessary to the health, comfort, and well-being of every person on board, it is desired that the most scrupulous attention in this respect shall be observed on every occasion.
The monitors are particularly enjoined the utmost vigilance in taking care that nothing disorderly shall appear among the members of their respective messes.
Any one convicted of disturbing others whilst engaged in reading the holy Scriptures, or other religious exercise, will incur special animadversion, and such misconduct will be entered in the journal.
A proper reserve towards the sailors will be held indispensable, and all intercourse with them must be avoided as much as possible.
A daily account will be kept, and a faithful report made to His Excellency the Governor of New 100South Wales of the conduct of each individual during the voyage, and those who behave well, though they may have come here with bad characters, will be represented favourably: the Surgeon Superintendent pledges to use his utmost effort to get every one settled in a comfortable manner whose behaviour shall merit such friendly interference.
N. B.
Any breach of the above regulations, or any attempt to deface or destroy this paper, will be punished severely; and the person so offending must not expect to be recommended to the kind notice of the Governor of New South Wales.

Before commencing the journal, I shall insert here a statement of the various offences for which these women had been sentenced to banishment, with a view of the characters given with them from the proper authority as they came on board. This will serve to show the proportionate expectation, as to moral reformation, which was to continue connected with their general and individual conduct, throughout a long voyage of at least several months. The names of the individuals are not mentioned, as matter comparatively of little interest.

Burglary 4
Grand larceny 8
Petit larceny 11
Felony 3
Stealing in a dwelling house 6
Stealing furniture 2
101Stealing from the person 7
Stealing a watch 3
Stealing linen 1
Stealing cheese 1
Stealing sheets 1
Stealing earthenware 1
Stealing wheat 1
Stealing two pieces of carpet 1
Stealing a purse and money 1
Sheep stealing 3
Shop-lifting 10
Forged notes 41
Receiving stolen goods 10
Highway robbery 5
Robbing her employers 1
Total 121
Good 6
Bad 61
Not known 17
Old offenders 9
Three times in custody on charges of felony 1
Common utterers of forged notes 6
Disorderly characters 7
Fifth conviction 2
Kept houses of bad fame 5
Second offence 1
Fifth offence 1
Confirmed thieves 5
Total 121

Several of those ill-fated creatures had been capitally respited; twenty-three were sentenced to transportation 102for life; fifty for fourteen, and forty eight for seven years.

“1820. March 24th.—This day I joined the Morley at Deptford, where she was taking in stores; and carpenters from the Dock-yard were employed in fitting her for the voyage[7].

April 12th.—Cast off the moorings and dropped down to Galleons Reach.

18th.—About noon four female prisoners from Devon Gaol were brought on board, and to them were immediately given that day’s allowance of provisions, and beds, with other necessary articles.

21st.—Seven convicts were brought, at 5 P. M., from Horsemonger-lane, who were disposed of in messes along with the former, and the proper attention in every other respect paid them.

22nd.—Two prisoners arrived from the county gaol of Kent.

23rd.—At noon a lighter came alongside with forty female convicts from Newgate; and shortly afterwards three more from Exeter were brought on board, and one also from the Justitia Hulk at Woolwich, all of whom were classed and victualled.

24th.—At 11 A. M. assembled the convicts in the prison, and distributed among them some religious tracts; after which I read to them a moral discourse which I had prepared for the occasion; when the orderly 103and respectful conduct they evinced gave me strong hopes of success in future. I distributed printed copies of the Address, one to each, in order that, by considering the subject more at leisure in private, they might better understand its tendency, and avail themselves of its design.”

The following is a correct copy of the Address, which comprehends some of the fundamental principles by which it is my intention they shall be regulated during the voyage.


The object of my calling you together at this time, is to make a few observations regarding the voyage which, under Providence, we are about to commence. On your good and correct behaviour during this voyage your future happiness will depend in an infinitely greater degree than, I apprehend, any of you can form the least conception; let me, therefore, entreat your undivided attention, and most serious consideration, to what I am about to offer, as it materially concerns your own welfare.

Your peculiar situation, it is true, excites compassionate consideration, and the performance of any duty which requires rigid restraint, and perhaps measures of severity, must always be painful to a benevolent mind. It is distressing to contemplate the situation of the wretched or unfortunate, even at a distance; and to meliorate their condition must be the first wish and the most gratifying work of humanity.

I trust there is no need of employing arguments to prove that vicious conduct invariably leads to disgrace 104and misery; the unhappy circumstances in which you are all placed here, must be a more convincing proof of this than any other I can adduce, though many thousands might be mentioned. It is far from my intention to add to your distress by upbraiding you with the errors of your past life; none of us can recall the past; but, for the consolation of human nature, we possess, with the divine aid, over the future an unlimited and absolute control: to this latter point I am particularly desirous of directing your attention.

The word exile, or banishment, sounds harshly on the ear, and must ever convey to the heart the most acute feeling of anguish. Our native land, containing the scenes of youthful amusements and innocent pleasures, abandoned perhaps for ever! the dear ties by which nature had united you to your families, relations and friends must become lacerated; yes, to be compelled to separate from parents, children and husbands, dear as life, and to be parted from them for ever, is, it must be confessed, a truly bitter thought. Under this accumulated load of misery is there no ray of hope, no relief to be obtained? Yes, my unfortunate friends, not only relief, but consummate happiness, even joys unspeakable are within the reach of every one of you.

The Holy Scriptures abound with merciful promises of forgiveness, and gracious invitations to sinners of every sect and degree. Our blessed Redeemer addresses his consolations more immediately to those who are languishing under the horrors of a guilty conscience. His language is that of a tender father earnestly soliciting a wayward child, on whom his fond affection 105is lavished, to return to its duty and avert the punishment awarded to disobedience. Who can meditate on his boundless offers of mercy and forgiveness without being filled with grateful admiration of the divine attributes? In the xith chap. of St. Matthew, 28th verse, we hear this most consoling invitation, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It is impossible to appreciate fully the intrinsic value of these heavenly words; many times, in my own person, have I experienced their soothing effects on the pillow of sickness, and their tranquillizing power in moments of the keenest affliction: I wish, from my soul, that every one of you may derive as much happiness from those words as I have done.

The word of a mortal creature may deceive; but the promise of Christ, who died for our salvation, must stand: it is utterly impossible for any one, how incredulous soever he may pretend to be, to doubt that a single jot of God’s promises will be left unperformed.

With a firm conviction, then, of divine righteousness, let us piously meditate on the words of the text, and endeavour to apply to our minds the healing balm they convey. I shall explain, according to the best of my judgement, what preparation is most advisable and necessary to enable us to avail ourselves of this most gracious invitation. The first great step towards it is Repentance. By repentance I do not wish you to understand that fleeting and pitiful grief, which suffuses us in tears for the crimes of yesterday, and, soon evaporating, will allow us to-morrow to resume the practice of iniquity. The Almighty is not to be deceived 106by mockery and external show; “A sacrifice to God is that of an humble and a contrite heart;” nor will that temporary piety which is produced by distress or fear, render us acceptable before him: it is humility from a sense of our unworthiness, and profound contrition of heart for past offences, with sincere purpose of amendment, and a resolute determination to resist the slightest approach of temptation, and to return from the paths of evil, that will gain us favour in his sight.

If, with these sentiments in our minds, we supplicate the throne of mercy, we have every encouragement to confide in the divine clemency; for we are assured that “None who come unto Christ will he in any wise cast out[8].” Consoling promise! Suppose any one under sentence of death were offered a pardon, the errors of his past life to be for ever buried in oblivion, and honours and riches to be liberally bestowed upon him, on condition that he confessed his crime and pledged himself to lead a virtuous life in future; surely such a person must be considered mad, should he obstinately persist in guilt, and allow the sentence of the law to be carried into execution, when the means of preservation and of averting his dreadful fate were in his own hands! Let me ask any of you, whether you would not gladly have undertaken to renounce for ever those errors by which you were first led astray from the pleasing paths of virtue, to prevent your being now separated from your native country? Undoubtedly you would. Yet how trifling, how insignificant are loss 107of life and separation from the dearest objects of affection, compared with an eternal exile from your heavenly Father, and the destruction of the immortal soul! The thought is overwhelming.

There are some, unfortunately, to be found, who tell you their lives have been so bad, they have trespassed so frequently and so enormously, they have gone so far in vice, that it is useless to think of receding, as there can be no chance of their being saved, and that they may, therefore, as well go on to the end. Such is the degrading, humiliating language that sin dictates when it has attained its haughty ascendancy over the human mind, and influences every action. Let us follow these wretched creatures a step further in their senseless career; let us view them on a sick bed, which guilt has converted into a couch of torture; their fancied pleasures have vanished like a shadow, and the terrific prospect of a future state is forcibly and awfully presented to their distempered imagination; no relief is then in hope, because they had rejected it before. It has fallen to my lot more than once, nay more than twenty times, to witness the dying moments of men whose lives had been misspent; but I earnestly hope in the divine mercy, that I may never again be exposed to scenes where my feelings should be so torn as they were on those melancholy occasions. It is difficult to imagine any thing equal to the gloom and horror with which those miserable mortals viewed their approach to the presence of a just God from whom they expected no favour. Ten thousand worlds would they have given for a week, a day, even an hour, to be added to their existence on earth, an existence 108which sin and conscious guilt had rendered exquisitely wretched, and insupportable. It is really shocking to contemplate the situation of the hopeless sinner “whose ungodly race is nearly run, and he verging fast to the brink of eternity. The awful idea of meeting that God whom he has so often offended, tortures his already distracted mind. Conscience is at this moment his bitterest enemy, it fills his drooping heart with poignant remorse, and self-condemned, his hell begins even before life ends.” Infatuated, unthinking beings! how could guilty passions, or the allurements of sinful pleasures, so much blind your reason as never to allow you a moment of serious reflection on a future state, until you are incompassed by the jaws of death, until you hear those appalling words thunder in your ears, “Give an account of thy stewardship, for thou mayest be no longer steward!”

Let me admonish you, my friends, not to reserve repentance for a death-bed; depend upon it that the pangs of dissolution will be enough for human nature to bear, without adding the indescribable tortures of a troubled conscience: besides, the efficacy of repentance at the moment of death has been questioned, doubted, and denied by some of our ablest and most learned divines. In all cases of doubt or difficulty it is wise and prudent to choose the safe side; we have the declaration of the Saviour himself expressly, that “Except ye be converted and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven[9].” We have, moreover, the divine authority that our efforts 109will receive divine aid, and be ultimately crowned with success. “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord; though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good things of the land; but if ye refuse and rebel, ye shall be devoured with the sword; for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it[10].”

Hence you may clearly understand how all those who labour and are heavy laden may come unto Christ and find rest. Let me exhort you to implore unceasingly God’s mercy with penitent and humble hearts, and you will assuredly find comfort in your souls; for you will experience his bounteous mercy, ever open to receive and cherish the truly repentant wanderer. He is more ready to give than the sinner is to ask; in chap. lv. 7th verse of Isaiah, he says, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”

By keeping these consoling truths constantly before your minds, and losing not a moment in cultivating the precious opportunities of being reconciled to your heavenly Father, you will doubtless soon experience an ineffable delight and tranquillity infused into your souls: but, that great good being effected, I think it my duty to offer you some further advice, lest you should lose the advantages you will have acquired by repentance.

110It would not, I think, be difficult to show, that even were there to be no future state, virtuous actions tend more, infinitely more, to promote our happiness in this world, than the most successful career of vice. For proofs of this assertion I will confidently appeal to the experience of your own lives. Let any one present look back to the days of peaceful innocence, and compare them with the present. Her meal may have been frugal, perhaps it was scanty, and necessity may have compelled her to unceasing toil; but conscious innocence secured a blessing, and diffused a comfort, that may be sought for in vain at the guilty banquet, or in the useless and baneful luxury of sinful dissipation. On this subject Dr Blair has with equal truth and beauty made the following apposite observations:

“Were the sinner bribed with any certain and unquestionable advantage, could the means he employs ensure his success, and could that ensure his comfort, he might have some apology for deviating from the paths of virtue. But he is not only liable to that disappointment of success, which so often frustrates all the designs of men, but also liable to a disappointment still more cruel, that of being successful and miserable at once. The advantages of this world, even when innocently gained, are uncertain blessings; when obtained by criminal means, they carry a curse in their bosom.”

I hope enough has been said to relieve your minds from all doubt as to the influence of religion on our happiness in this world and that which is to come. The sincere penitent is commanded to hope for salvation, and it is criminal to despair. “As I live, saith the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the 111wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn ye, turn ye from your evil way, for why will ye die, O house of Israel[11]?”

It is now time to direct our attention more immediately to the situation in which you are placed here as prisoners, and to point out the best possible means by which you may be not only comfortable, but comparatively respectable. It ought to afford you great gratification to hear that the means of obtaining both these desirable objects are perfectly and entirely within your own reach. Your behaviour during the short period of the present voyage will, in a great measure, decide your future destiny. The prospect before you may now wear a forlorn and gloomy aspect; some, perhaps, think they are inevitably consigned to shame and misery; but it shall be my care to lay before you a correct and more cheering view of the case. Call to your remembrance the consoling language of him whose blood was shed for the remission of all our sins, and cherish it in your hearts. “The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed[12].”

In the first place, I may assure you that the country to which you are going is healthy and delightful beyond description. New connexions and friendships may there be formed to supply the place of such as have been just dissolved; and to those who were plunged in vices which ruin both soul and body, separation at this instant is perhaps the greatest blessing 112that heaven could bestow: “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil;” so may those repeat with thanksgiving of heart who have been so unfortunate. An opportunity is now offered to bury in oblivion the errors of your past lives. The instructions furnished by Government require me to keep a journal, in which must be inserted the occurrences of every day; and whether the conduct of an individual be good or bad, it is imperiously my duty to record it as such. In this arduous task I shall have the watchful and zealous co-operation of Captain Brown; so that not the slightest movement can possibly take place without our immediate knowledge. This journal will be perused by the Governor of New South Wales before any of you can be admitted into his presence; and I do most sincerely hope that you will all leave it in my power to give such an account as will ensure for you his approbation and favour. In addition to this, it is my intention to present to the Governor a private list also of all those who behave eminently well, and strongly to recommend them to his friendly notice. I have the pleasure to inform you, for your encouragement, that, on a former occasion, there was not one whom I recommended in that manner that did not receive some mark of his kindness.

I am unwilling to wound the delicacy of any of you by adverting to a vice, the commission of which will imperatively and inevitably require the painful necessity of inflicting immediate punishment, and cut off every possibility of intercession with the Governor in behalf of the offender. I mean prostitution, a crime the enormity of which it is painful to explain, but which, 113it must be obvious, is peculiarly reprehensible and disgraceful to any one in your present unhappy situation, and of which, I trust, you all now entertain a strong abhorrence. It is sufficient to know that it is a direct violation of the laws of God, of which I persuade myself in the hope that none of you can be ignorant. The words of God are expressly against it, and a single word from the divine authority is conclusive. “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies; these are the things which defile a man[13].” “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God[14].” In the fifth chapter to the Galatians, 19th and following verses, are these words: “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revilings, and such like: of the which I tell you now, as I have also told you in time past, that they who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” And again, in the 13th chapter to the Hebrews, and 4th verse, he says, “Marriage is honourable in all, 114and the bed undefiled; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.”

Reflect seriously on those tremendous denunciations of the vengeance of offended Heaven: give them the consideration their importance deserves. Put this question to yourselves individually: “Shall I gratify a gross and silly propensity, and thereby consign my immortal soul to perdition? or shall I resist the brutal importunity of a sensual human beast, and by a virtuous life ensure the inconceivable joys of an endless eternity?” O my friends! death and eternity are awful sounds to an unrepenting, woe-stricken sinner. Picture to yourselves the life of a prostitute, lost to shame, in the streets; abandoned by her seducer, and her soul harrowed by remorse for her fall from innocence, and the infamy of her abject state; her tender frame shrunk with the ceaseless gnawings of hunger; houseless, friendless and unpitied! After a little time, and a series of necessitous guilt, behold this metamorphosed wretch, almost consumed by disease, crawling into some dismal hovel to yield up her life of pain and sorrow, without a creature to administer the last sad office of friendship. No father nor mother near to shed the hallowed tear of sympathetic commiseration! her undutiful behaviour most likely has sent them both to an untimely grave.—I cannot longer pursue the dreadful detail; my soul sickens and recoils from the contemplation of such complicated misery.

I can state, for your comfort, that I know of many women in New South Wales who are happily married, and mix in the most respectable society; and those 115estimable females were formerly unfortunate, and once placed in the same situation as yourselves. I think, were there no other inducement, the knowledge of this circumstance alone ought to stimulate you to the practice of morality and virtue. Should there be, however, any one present so hardened in guilt, so abandoned to all sense of propriety, as to persist in this profligate vice, I must now inform her that the utmost vigilance of both myself and Captain Brown will be directed to the detection of that odious violation of Christian propriety, and of our determination to restrain by prompt and efficient means its detestable occurrence. Although this painful portion of our duty shall be unremittingly attended to, as well as every other inviolably discharged, still it is my desire that you should apprehend no unnecessary measures of severity; do not deserve them; but rather look to me, as your friend anxious to promote your comforts; and from the humane attention of the commander, I am confident you may anticipate so much alleviation as is in his power to bestow. If you have any complaints or grievances at any time, make them known to me immediately, and you may rest assured that it will always afford me pleasure to redress them to the utmost of my power. You shall have every indulgence that can possibly be granted; my happiness will be increased by seeing you all comfortable; but I must solemnly declare myself an enemy to the vice above mentioned, nor will I allow the commission of it to escape punishment.

To snatch from the overwhelming gulf of destruction an unthinking, unrepenting fellow-being, is a 116duty which I owe to my God, to my country, to humanity, and to myself: to that effect shall my utmost efforts be ever exerted, so long as Providence spares me the power of exertion.

I sincerely hope you will not allow the foregoing observations to be lost or thrown away: if you treasure them in your hearts, and make a right application of them, they will give life to feelings of pleasure and self-approbation in moments of affliction; and at the hour of death, a consolation which the united riches of the earth could not purchase. If I can be the instrument, under Heaven, of rendering you any real service, and leading your minds to a just sense of religion and virtuous action, the feelings of my own heart will be a rich reward for any pains it may cost me: whether I succeed or fail in my endeavours, the consciousness of having faithfully discharged my duty (which with regard to you I consider most weighty in a moral sense), to the best of my ability, will console me through life, and in the close will accompany my spirit to another and, I hope, a happier world.

One word further for your good. In the treasures of the sacred Scriptures you will find exhaustless sources of comfort to your souls; for which purpose copies of the Holy Bible will be distributed amongst you, and the use each of you shall be observed to make of it will be strictly recorded in the journal.

Thomas Reid.

25th.—At noon this day Mrs. Pryor came on board; and after expressing her regret for the disorderly conduct 117of the female prisoners, previously to their leaving Newgate, and reproving them for their ingratitude in that respect, as well as the injury their unruly behaviour had done to the cause of benevolence, she distributed a considerable number of check aprons to each, with haberdashery and other needful articles. Having performed this charitable act, she examined the prison, hospital, &c., and was much pleased with the regularity that every where prevailed. She then read to them a suitable portion of Scripture, and dismissed them with good moral advice.

Two women from York were brought on board, and a few minutes afterwards three more from Winchester.

This forenoon I had the messes arranged, also the sleeping-places allotted, the bedding, bags, and other things belonging to the convicts permanently marked, to prevent confusion and irregularity hereafter; I also distributed to each individual some religious book or tract.

At 6 P. M. three women from Newcastle were brought, one of whom was old, and so infirm as to require assistance to get up the ship’s side. About 7, a person arrived, saying he had brought four children belonging to Browning Owen, a convict, but had left them at Woolwich, being uncertain whether they would be received on board. One of them unfortunately happened to be three years above the age permitted by the Secretary of State. The case of this poor woman seems one of aggravated distress: About nine months since, her husband incited her to commit crime; and, after involving her in guilt and misery, left 118her with a helpless family without a friend in the world. Her conduct having been exceedingly good since she came on board, induced me to lay a statement of her case before Mr. Capper, for the consideration of the Secretary of State, whose benevolence granted permission for all the children to be embarked and accompany their mother.

26th.—The whole of this day has been spent in arranging the messes and sleeping-places of several convicts who arrived from various prisons. Opportunity was taken to impress upon their minds the necessity of good conduct during the voyage, and the advantages that would assuredly result from such behaviour. Many of the women who arrived to-day, as well as some who had been heretofore received, appeared to think that the most licentious behaviour would be the surest plan to procure countenance and favour in a ship: this opinion was indicated by the flighty actions and indecorous expressions of a great many of them, at the very first moment they got on board. It is hardly necessary to say, that in these deviations from rectitude they were always interrupted with rebuke or admonition, as the occasion best required, and always with immediate good effects; those lately arrived usually taking their tone of conduct from those already under the influence of discipline.

It affords me great gratification to be able to state that considerable progress already appears to have been made in the moral system. The first three or four nights after the women began to increase in number, I was mortified to hear among them, after they had been locked up for the night, songs of a licentious and 119wicked nature: but in every case of such occurrence, when taking the female the next day to task for the part she had performed, and representing to her in the kindest manner the impropriety of such practices, they have been discontinued, and during the last two nights there has occurred in the prison nothing of which the best regulated family need be ashamed.

27th.—Nothing can exceed the regularity that prevails in the prison; not a whisper having been heard, or any singing last night. At 11 A. M. I selected a sermon out of Dr. Blair’s, and read it to them, explaining, to the best of my power, such parts of it as they appeared not to understand, and expressed my approbation of their conduct respecting those things in which I expected an amendment. After this, pamphlets on subjects of devotion were delivered to the women who arrived yesterday, together with a copy of my Address, and a religious tract to each of the others. They were reminded of the Prison Regulations, and enjoined a close observance of them.

About 5 this evening, there arrived three convicts from Shrewsbury, two from Carlisle, and four from Lancaster, all of whom were cold and wet, the day having been rainy and exceedingly boisterous. They were ordered to change their clothes, and after some refreshment to retire to rest.

In the course of this day I took occasion to speak privately to three or four young, giddy creatures, whom I had observed conversing rather familiarly with some of the sailors, and exhorted them to shun every approach to intimacy with those men. They all expressed their grateful thanks for the private and delicate 120manner in which this advice was communicated, and promised solemnly that I should not again have occasion to reprove them upon the same subject.

28th.—Eighteen women have arrived to-day, some of whom while alongside in the boats, and even after they came on board, exhibited violent indications of riotous conduct. Those of mischievous disposition were principally from Lancaster. It required much to convince them that such behaviour would meet with certain and serious punishment; and at length they yielded to remonstrance, becoming somewhat orderly.

About half past 12 five convicts arrived from Ilchester, of a more decent and modest appearance than any yet seen, and their demeanour was such as to excite a hope that in them at least virtue may be found not entirely extinguished. Having observed some of the prisoners making advances towards an intimacy with the sailors, I checked them at the moment, and afterwards admonished the thoughtless creatures, privately, against every thing of that kind, and advised them to have a watchful guard over themselves in future.

29th.—Eight prisoners arrived to-day from different country prisons; the conduct of three or four of them, as they approached the ship, was wild, extravagant, and disgusting, from its singular wickedness and disregard of shame: this, however, was readily suppressed the moment they came on board.

Our number is now nearly complete, and the behaviour of all is kept within such good bounds that moral feeling and good order generally prevail, and life is given to the pleasing hope that success will attend 121the endeavours made to lead those deluded and unfortunate women back to virtue.

30th.—Shortly after retiring to rest last night, I was called up to go to the prison, whence, I was informed, very alarming cries and violent screams were issuing. I found most of the women so much frightened, as to make it difficult to ascertain from any one of them what had occasioned their trepidation. At length, the assertions of several gave me reason to believe, that some one of the convicts had out of frolic walked round the prison, and touched the faces of some of them with her cold hand. I treated the whole as an affair of no note, rather as the effects of imagination; but at the same time severely reprobated the idle attempt at disturbing the hours of sleep; and assured them that any recurrence of the kind would be visited with marks of severe displeasure.

At 11 A. M. this day, Sunday, I read a sermon in the prison, and expressed a merited approbation of their general conduct, with a view to show them that I was anxious to find cause for commendation rather than censure; thus to make them, on their side, desirous to merit good opinion, as out of this endeavour I hoped to see good order result. Afterwards I distributed religious books and tracts to all those who had not been previously supplied.

May 1st.—About 10 A. M. Mrs. Pryor came on board, and distributed amongst forty of the prisoners, two aprons, a black cap, a canvas bag, a pair of scissors, and articles of haberdashery to each as presents. This donation was accompanied by sound moral instruction, delivered with the kindness of maternal advice, and 122conveyed in language of encouragement, which seemed to produce the intended effect on all to whom it was addressed: from the impression it made upon their minds, of which I was a silent and minute observer, it may be fairly said, that not one of those unhappy females was insensible at least to what they heard, or withheld the tear of penitence and sorrow, more precious in the resolution to amend.

At 11 A. M. Captain Young paid us a visit; and, after inspecting the state of the prisoners very attentively, expressed his approbation of every thing that had been done, in terms somewhat more marked than those of common place assent.

Some little misunderstanding and trifling squabbles took place between some of the prisoners this day, which on inquiring into, when the momentary fervour had subsided, were readily adjusted to the satisfaction of all the parties. Occurrences of this nature are to be expected in a community in which inclinations and habits so diversified must coalesce so as to form something like one mind uniformly obedient to a settled authority.

It was also found necessary to remonstrate privately in a more serious manner with some of the women, whom I observed at times conversing familiarly with the sailors. Such familiarities, although at present perhaps divested of criminal intention, might, if not discountenanced in time, lose their character of innocence, and lead to more intimate and censurable acquaintance. It is justly considered more easy by far, and better, to prevent crimes, than to seek redress or atonement for them after they have been committed.

1232nd.—This morning, before the prisoners had breakfasted or were allowed to come upon deck, I took an opportunity of addressing a few short observations to them collectively, by way of general admonition; in which I expressed a strong disapprobation of the light and thoughtless behaviour of some of them towards the sailors. I pointed out the decided rule on this head in the Prison Regulations; explained the delicate manner in which it was expressed, and informed them, that, notwithstanding that delicacy, my determination in that regard was peculiarly strong. I stated, that I had observed with much concern the misconduct of six or seven, who seemed unmindful of the regulation; and assured them that a repetition of such folly would impose on me the very painful necessity of excluding such offenders from the privilege of the deck, and be productive of other unpleasant consequences. This timely admonition called forth their serious attention, and all evinced its effects in a satisfactory manner; all became silence, order, industry, and decorous reserve.

Such indeed did their demeanour appear to some gentlemen who visited Captain Brown in the course of the day, that it was facetiously observed, “Half the same number of fashionables at a ball or rout would render a drawing-room more noisy than the Morley was at that time.”

3rd.—Nothing of a novel nature has this day occurred in the behaviour of the convicts. One prisoner was brought in from Coventry, and some of the free passengers with their children came on board.

About 4 P. M. Mr. Capper paid us a visit; and having 124minutely inspected the prison, and conversed with several of the prisoners, he expressed his entire approbation of what he saw.

6th.—Nothing of importance has occurred since last report. Quietness and decorum appear now manifestly to result from the system laid down: and so far has it answered my expectations, and so subjected are they already to discipline, that within the last two days a frown expressive of my displeasure has been sufficient to prevent every impropriety.

At 11 A. M. Mrs. Pryor and Mrs. Coventry, accompanied by the Solicitor to the Bank of England, came on board. The Solicitor was commissioned by the Bank Company to make a present of five pounds to every woman who had been convicted of uttering forged notes, or of having them in possession. The amount of the money thus gratuitously expended in favour of the unhappy women, was two hundred and five pounds sterling, there being forty-one persons at this time sent out of the country for that offence alone.

This donation to the female convicts,—for it is not given to males in the same predicament,—has, I am informed, existed for a considerable time, and doubtless originated in worthy feelings,—to alleviate in some degree the distresses and want brought upon them by their prosecution. Whilst one is compelled to approve this philanthropic condescension in favour of these unfortunate creatures, many of them surrounded by groups of children, a suggestion naturally forces itself into consideration, how far such a proceeding is consistent with political or moral propriety. It may be asked, Is honest principle encouraged by such gratuity? 125Is the offender moved to reformation by such an inducement, or is the property of the donors rendered more secure by their postliminious generosity?

The prosecutions carried on by the Bank of England for many years past, for forged imitations of their notes, are too much matter of perfect notoriety. The victims, as well male as female, that have been immolated to the demon of gain, have been accumulated to a truly appalling amount. Human nature shudders at the numerous sacrifices offered on this altar. Although the Bank, it is asserted, virtually lose nothing, still the Moloch is to be appeased; and the Druidical idols mentioned by Julius Cæsar, in which numbers of human beings were burned alive, were not more rapacious than this remorseless spirit. The cry of blood has at length ascended, and good men are startled at this destructive system: to the eternal credit of later Bank Directors, those sanguinary proceedings have been in a great measure relaxed. In cases now of simply uttering forged notes, unless under circumstances of an aggravating character, upon trial, the judgement Not Guilty to the capital charge is admitted upon the plea of Guilty to the minor offence of having them in possession knowing them to be so: thus many lives are saved under that certain conviction which would subject them to death: their punishment on the latter plea is, in general, Transportation for fourteen years to New South Wales.

The two ladies with bountiful hands dispensed their truly charitable gifts among those prisoners whom they had not before supplied; and the countenances of these unfortunates, gratefully affected by being thus 126noticed in their outcast state, gave stronger evidence of their feelings than could have been conveyed by the most successful eloquence.

About 2 P. M. Mr. Brown, Governor of Newgate, came on board, and gave to each of the women who came from that prison, half a crown, from what fund I know not; and I am equally unacquainted with what motive, or for what object, the donation was made. The effects produced by it, which were almost instantaneously developed, would argue very unfavourably of its consequences, as, almost the moment after that trifle was received, general misunderstanding took place among them, and this was followed by blows before I could interpose and put an end to the affray. The termination of this disgraceful scene was effected only by confining the combatants from each other, (two of them were sisters,) and allowing the irritation to subside: afterwards representing how improper and disgraceful their behaviour had been, they showed proofs of shame and contrition, which I am inclined to hope will long secure me from the pain of witnessing such another scene.

In the afternoon I collected the Monitors of all the messes, and explained the line of conduct I expected them to follow during the voyage, and admonished them to secure obedience from their respective messes by showing themselves a good example; to each Monitor I then delivered a Bible, Prayer Book, New Testament, and Psalter, for the use of the mess to which each belonged.

7th.—This day passed in uninterrupted tranquillity, and the utmost regard to good order was observable 127amongst the convicts. At 11 A. M. I read a moral discourse to them, and addressed some pointed animadversions on the occurrence of the preceding day, which affected the whole of them most sensibly, and the offenders, with tears, expressed their sincere compunction for the misconduct of which they had been guilty, giving every assurance that the like should not again take place.

8th.—At 10 A. M. I mustered all the children, and arranged them in classes for the purpose of carrying into effect the intentions of the Ladies’ Committee with respect to the formation of a school, for which they had taken special care to provide a woman, one of the free passengers, as a teacher; and had also furnished a very liberal provision of juvenile books of every suitable description. Mrs. Pryor visited this morning and distributed useful gifts among the prisoners, and some also among the free passengers.

About noon Mrs. Fry came on board; and, having inspected the state of the prisoners, had those from Newgate assembled separately, and addressed them in the most feeling manner respecting their conduct when leaving Newgate. This discourse had visibly great effect, which appeared strongly impressed upon their minds. Observing the remarkable order maintained in this unfortunate community, this lady hinted that some preparation must have been made previously to her coming on board: to this I could not avoid remarking, in reply, that such was by no means the case, for the history of one hour’s conduct of those women might serve as the history of a month. This remark I thought due in strict justice to their merits; 128nor could it be considered at all complimentary, as not one of them was present at the moment.

9th.—At noon this day, the five women,—for I have since determined the actual number of offenders,—who were noticed to use rather too much familiarity towards the sailors, were called apart, and reminded in forcible terms of their rash conduct in breaking through that reserve which was enjoined by the Prison Regulations; and that every tittle of their improper behaviour, however secret they might suppose it to be, was thoroughly known, and liable to the exposure and punishment it so deservedly merited. They seemed to feel the sense of disgrace poignantly at being so detected, of which they were not at first aware; they promised most faithfully, in the hope of forgiveness, to avoid the conversation of the sailors as much as possible; and requested with fervent solicitation to be allowed the trial, assuring me that I should find them sincere and firm in that resolution.

11th.—The latter part of yesterday passed in a manner the most decorous and tranquil; and the system of discipline assumes a good portion of organized character. An understanding seems now to pervade the minds of the convicts, that the more submissive and circumspect they are, the sooner will their situation become truly comfortable, as indulgence must be the fruit of good behaviour only: many of them besides, by contrasting their present circumstances with what they had recently experienced in the prisons where they had been, feel increased gratification from the manner in which they are treated on board the ship.

129About 3 P. M. two ladies and a gentleman came to inquire after a misguided young creature, one of the convicts, the daughter of a man who had lived in their family (I think they said) upwards of thirty years, having always maintained an unspotted character. The girl, Eliza Nixon, was sent for to them in the cabin, when the admonition of these good ladies to the object of their humane attentions, was of that kind and conciliatory description which ever finds a ready way to the heart. The young culprit shed tears abundantly; an indication of repentant feeling I had never before observed in her, though she had been many times reproved for levity and flippant behaviour, and on such occasions,—indeed not three hours before,—she bore rebuke without the least emotion.

The purpose of their visit being accomplished, these ladies inquired more particularly into the system employed for the government of the convicts generally; which being explained, they expressed a wish to visit them below, and were not a little gratified by seeing the regularity every where prevailing; but their admiration was particularly engaged in observing the children at school.—It is not indeed matter of surprise that this novel institution should elicit the noblest feelings of a generous and virtuous mind. To witness attentively the first dawning and gradual expansion of the mind, is, in my opinion, more deserving of the attention of philosophers who study the true interests of humanity, as more important and conducive to the welfare of society, than all the wordy lucubrations with which metaphysical writers have for ages amused themselves and the world.

130It is impossible not to admire the benevolent zeal that could induce ladies of rank to undertake a journey of some length, and venture on the water in a very boisterous day, for no other purpose than to awaken a vitiated mind to a just and lively sense of its error. At the time these visitors left the ship, both wind and tide happened unfortunately to be contrary to their return, and the watermen were unable to make any progress; their efforts were further frustrated by their boat getting aground, which rendered the situation of the passengers alarming and dangerous. In this state of things the active humanity of Captain Brown was strongly displayed;—he immediately ordered his own boat to be manned, and went off himself to extricate the amiable sufferers; which he effected, and towed their boat up to Woolwich, though he was at the time labouring under severe indisposition.

12th.—About 4 P. M. the Bank Solicitor came on board, and completed the distribution of the donation to certain of the prisoners. This money had been expected for some time, and several of the women had even made purchase of various useful articles on the faith of its being paid them; these debts they afterwards correctly discharged.

13th.—At noon Mrs. Pryor came to visit the convicts; and, having exhorted them in a very impressive manner, distributed moral tracts, and many useful necessaries intended as materials for industrious employment, a proceeding in every point of view most advantageous and important to the prisoners.

14th.—This day Mr. Capper paid a short visit at the ship, to ascertain fully and finally the state of the 131prisoners, children, free passengers, &c., and to make arrangements for removing to the convict hospital ship some sick women whom I considered quite unable to undergo the fatigues of the voyage.

15th.—The women this day received another visit from Mrs. Pryor, accompanied by Lord Lilford and the Rev. Mr. Hornby, a magistrate of Lancashire. Those gentlemen came to inquire into some alleged abuses, which were said to have occurred in the gaol of Lancaster, previously to the removal of the female convicts from that place. Having ascertained that such abuses had existed, they departed, the Rev. Mr. Hornby pledging himself to prevent a recurrence of the like abuses in future. Agreeably to the directions of the Navy Board, three sick convicts, Frances Alcock, Frances Pattison, and Isabella Dennison, were removed to the convict hospital ship.

16th.—This day was productive of no incident worthy of record, except a trifling event that happened to one of the sailors, whom I remarked taking improper liberties with one of the prisoners. On mentioning the circumstance to Captain Brown, he immediately decided on the propriety of discharging him, and accordingly the thoughtless fellow was sent on shore this evening.

18th.—Regularity and good order prevail undisturbed. The prisoners are at present employed in making up the articles supplied by the Committee of Ladies, or in perusing the religious books sent for that purpose by private friends. The apprehension that the industry of these creatures must be soon suspended for want of materials to work upon, damps in 132some measure the sanguine expectation I had formed of keeping them out of mischief.

About half past 8 this morning, the Rev. Mr. Reddall with his wife and family came on board, passengers to New South Wales. The weather is very boisterous, rendering every approach to the vessel extremely dangerous. Captain Brown came down from London, where he had been to sign the necessary documents for the Government, preparatory to sailing, and was nearly swamped as he came alongside.

19th.—About noon this day arrived dispatches from Earl Bathurst for New South Wales, also directions from the Navy Board to proceed on the voyage.

20th.—At 3 this morning weighed anchor and proceeded to Gravesend, where we arrived about 7 A. M. The state of the convicts was steady and orderly until about noon, when a bum-boat came alongside, managed by one old man, who offered beer, milk, and other such articles for sale. An understanding was made, I am informed, between this old man and some of the prisoners, who clubbed, it appears, a subscription of thirty or forty shillings, and with that money purchased spirits from the old man clandestinely and in spite of every risk. They unfortunately eluded vigilance, and succeeded in smuggling this dangerous poison into the ship in bottles and bladders.

The effects broke out in the evening at rather a late hour, when many of them were stupidly intoxicated, and some gave way to their old licentious habits,—quarrelling among themselves, exhibiting the most deplorable and hideous features of drunkenness and depravity. Although excessively ill at the time, I was 133obliged personally to interfere, and put a stop to a shameful boxing between Mary Kelly, a Newgate girl, and a woman whose character previously had advanced much in my estimation.

Both the combatants were pinioned and confined; at length tranquillity and order were restored, but for a short time only. About 10 P. M. the most horrible screams issued from the prison, to which place I immediately proceeded accompanied by Captain Brown. We soon came to the place where the disturbance was going forward, and found Sarah Downes and Elizabeth Cheatham both nearly exhausted from a battle in which they had just been engaged. These women were both intoxicated and furiously riotous, declaring themselves determined to murder one another; on which we bound them back to back, and fastened them to a post in the hospital. All my endeavours were insufficient, however, to quell their disposition to noise, which during several hours they continued with ceaseless annoyance to every one near them peaceably disposed.

21st.—About 1 A. M. weighed anchor and stood down the river with a light breeze. This day I found myself exceedingly indisposed; but having several patients ill of the measles, I made an effort to see them about half past 4 in the morning, but was soon compelled to retire to bed. Being Sunday, my indisposition was the more distressing: however, the Rev. Mr. Reddall offered to read to the prisoners, which relieved me from all anxiety as to neglecting that most important duty. The reading was followed by an exhortation, in which their behaviour on the preceding 134evening was forcibly reprehended, which I understand excited unaffected feelings of shame and sorrow.

22nd.—Arrived in the Downs about 4 P. M., where the pilot left us; and the wind being fair, we continued our course under all possible sail.

I thank God, my health is sufficiently recovered to-day to enable me to resume my duties in the prison and the hospital. Two women and seven children are now labouring under the measles. On entering the prison this morning, I was surrounded by those women who had behaved irregularly on Saturday night, whom I had ordered to be released from their confinement as soon as their violence should have subsided. They confessed with tears the enormity of their misconduct, and besought forgiveness, which I felt every disposition to concede; but with regard to three of them who had been most distinguished in their display of pugilistic prowess, I deemed it indispensably necessary to fix on them some mark of disapprobation, and accordingly ordered them not to go on deck any more.

23d.—The breeze still continues fair, but very light: unusual tranquillity now reigns in the prison. I have made it an invariable rule, that every one of the prisoners should bring up her bedding every morning, to have it exposed to the air upon deck whenever the weather will permit; and as the beds, &c. are all marked, this daily exercise is conducted with the greatest regularity.

24th.—About 2 A. M. the breeze died away, and shortly afterwards sprung up from the WNW: in consequence of this change, the weather has become wet, cloudy, and rather boisterous, with a rough sea, which 135occasioned sufficient motion to make most of the women sick: on this account, and the wet state of the weather, I allowed their beds to remain below.

26th.—During these two days the weather has been boisterous, rainy, and uncomfortable, with a heavy sea. The women are all affected with sea sickness, and utterly incapable of making any exertion. Every precaution has been used to prevent the prison from getting wet, as that would have rendered their situation very distressing.

27th.—The same unpleasant state of weather still continues;—most of the women are in bed, suffering severely from the sea-sickness. Ordered one quarter of a pound of mustard to be served to each mess.

28th.—The weather is, if possible, still more severe than before, and the wind has become contrary. At 11 A. M. I mustered together as many women as were able to get out of bed, and read them a sermon; afterwards made some observations on their general behaviour, and stated my intention to allow each of them, as an indulgence, a gill of wine twice a week, on Sunday and Thursday, with a hope that they would endeavour to improve their conduct, and confirm sincere disposition to amendment: should the contrary appear in any individual, I assured them that the whole mess would be deprived of it; to which they all agreed, seeming quite satisfied with the conditions proposed.

29th.—The wind still continuing unfavourable, the motion of the ship is very rough, and distressing in the extreme to most of the prisoners, who still remain much affected with the sea sickness,—many of them to an alarming degree, in consequence of debility 136brought on by incessant retching; so that not any thing, even a necessary dose of medicine, can be found to remain on the stomach for an instant. The barometer, however, indicates a favourable change of weather, which may assist in affording them some relief. The measles are spreading among the children very rapidly, thirteen of whom are at present affected.

30th.—No change in the weather promises alleviation to the distress which the prisoners continue to feel:—two are so much debilitated as to be quite incapable of voluntary motion, and their stomachs so excessively irritable that medicine and food continue to be rejected in a moment after swallowing.

31st.—The weather is somewhat more favourable, but the ship’s motion is still considerable, and the distress of the women is very little abated: the two mentioned in yesterday’s journal are very ill. Warm fomentation to the region of the stomach, and frictions with anodyne liniment have afforded a good deal of relief,—still they suffer very much.

June 1st.—This day the weather is clear and exhilarating; but the motion of the vessel, which rolls and pitches very much, is still productive of uneasiness among the women. The two who were most affected are recovering by the means employed, and are now able to take some nutritive preparations given them in small quantity, with judicious care.

At the accustomed hour I read a sermon to the prisoners, during which their conduct individually was decent, serious, and attentive. The system established is now advancing without any sensible interruption, and its success, as I must candidly acknowledge, thus 137far has exceeded the most sanguine expectation I had ventured to entertain of it. So regular and excellent is the behaviour of all the prisoners, that scarcely any incident now occurs to afford subject for a journal.

4th.—This day an address, written in a manner adapted to the immediate condition of the convicts, according to my best understanding of the subject, and touching on many points most worthy of notice in their circumstances, particularly the moral improvement evinced by them since the commencement of the voyage, was read in the prison, in presence of the Reverend Mr. Reddall. The religious seriousness and respectful demeanour of the whole, who were all cleanly dressed, became the occasion. Nothing could exceed the earnestness with which every word of the address was received, and it was gratifying to observe the course of its effects upon their minds.

To the gospel truths quoted in the address the most lively attention was displayed, whilst their flooded cheeks and sobbings evidently and forcibly exhibited the sincerity of that impression which was produced by the moral deductions and observations made on the sacred words. Their minds were, at times, drawn to the consideration of their past transgressions, and a call made on their feelings, to ascertain their different states as to repentance and rejection of sin, which was answered by the most lively expressions of sorrow among them, testified individually, without regard to the chilling influence of having any witness of their feelings.

But when allusion was made to the probability of an eternal separation from kindred, friends, and home, 138their feelings, wound to the highest pitch by the poignancy of reflection, exhibited a scene of distress of the deepest interest.—The thoughtless, giddy votary of vice became a Magdalen in heart; and no sacrifice, it may be confidently said, would have then been deemed too great to redeem, were that possible, the opportunities of grace they had lost or spurned, and the happiness which it was evident they were conscious of having compromised by their insensate conduct.

The scene was altogether to me the most edifying; and, however vain the declaration may cause me to be considered, I felt at this instant well rewarded for the labours I had taken for the good of these forlorn females. Now that the minds of these “outcast” creatures seem subdued by repentance and gospel precept, and aware that nearly one third of the voyage has been completed, there is satisfactory cause to presume that they will continue in the way of improvement, and endeavour not only to qualify themselves to appear fully deserving of good opinion, but to lay up a store of virtuous resolution, from the instructions they have received, for a happy and correct guidance of their future conduct. The following is a copy of the Address which I read on this occasion.


At our first meeting I took occasion to lay before you a few observations, which a leisure hour had allowed me to put together, for your guidance during the present voyage; and I fondly indulged the hope that they might awaken in your minds the principles of virtue, which a longer or a shorter career in the 139devious paths of vice had suffered to slumber too long. Since that time, many eventful circumstances have occurred to produce in my mind reflections of a very serious nature, which, as they tend to strengthen and improve every estimable virtue, it may not be quite unprofitable to myself or you to give a sketch of.

Many of the observations, which I now intend to offer to your consideration, have arisen out of your own behaviour; while the remainder owe their existence to a lively feeling of humility in my own breast, and of dependence upon the Author of all good, lately elicited by a sick bed. I refrain from adverting to the cause of my recent illness, because I am unwilling to give any of you unnecessary pain even for a moment, and because your behaviour since that time convinces me, that most of you are sorry for the error you then so thoughtlessly committed[15]. On a sick bed the mind is forcibly led to the contemplation of a future state; and a question, of the first degree of importance, will very frequently present itself to the languishing sufferer, which, if I may judge from my own feelings, he will find extremely difficult, if not quite impossible, to get rid of, unless the actions of his past life furnish him with an answer. The question, as it forced itself upon my mind, is this—“Should it please Heaven to remove me from this sinful world, what is to be my lot in the next?” I here take it for granted that you all truly believe in a future state beyond the grave, and 140in a just God who will punish the wicked and reward the righteous. Indeed, I think it would be a mere waste of words and time to urge any arguments on this subject; for there is no fact, either moral or physical, of which I am more firmly convinced than this, that there is not a human being this day living, who in his heart sincerely doubts the existence of an all-protecting Deity. Although the contrary of this has sometimes been asserted by learned men, who have only disgraced the human shape and character, yet I firmly believe in my soul, that not one of them ever succeeded in deceiving himself into a belief of the gloomy doctrines he had so long and so zealously laboured to propagate. It would be no very difficult task to expose the weakness, and entirely refute the principles, of this false philosophy; but the argument would be uninteresting to you, and a victory over those who have degraded the dignity of the human character so low as to consider themselves no better than a dog or an ass, and like them entirely to perish with death, would, in my opinion, afford but a puny triumph.

Without any further notice of infidels, or their dark doctrines, I shall endeavour to point out a few plain thoughts in the order, as nearly as I can, they occurred to my own imagination. It has afforded me great pleasure to notice that most of you have perused my former little Address with care and attention; and it gives me infinite gratification to be assured, as I am, that it has been the means of bringing more than one or two amongst you to repentance, who are now leaning for support upon their Heavenly Father, and, having fixed their hope on that immoveable rock, are now 141enjoying tranquillity and peace of mind, to which they were before strangers. The knowledge of this happy change has encouraged me to devote another hour to your service; and if God shall be pleased so far to bless my feeble endeavours as to make me instrumental in reclaiming another wanderer, and restoring her to the fold of Christ, the proudest wish of my heart will be gratified.

It has been to me matter of surprise, to observe that mankind generally are unwilling to indulge in reflections on death and a future state, as if, by excluding the subject from their thoughts, they expect to secure themselves from the unwelcome visits of this all-destroying enemy. For my own part, I have often passed a solitary hour very profitably in meditating upon this subject, and considering how death might be entirely divested of terror. Amidst the many uncertain events which every where surround human life, and in which we are all here particularly involved, there is one thing we have too much reason to believe, namely, that of us who have commenced this voyage, and who are now present, there are some, I fear, who shall not survive to see it finished; but which of us it may please God to call, he alone can tell.

Respecting the certainty of death, all the nations of the earth are agreed, however opposite their sentiments may be in other respects. Since, then, “it is appointed unto all men once to die[16],” and as no power on earth can reverse or retard this decree, it behoves us, one and all, timely to prepare for an event concerning 142which we only know, that happen soon it must; but whether within a few years, a month, or a day, we are totally ignorant. Who amongst us can say with confidence that we shall live to see the sun rise to-morrow, or set this evening? If life at best is but a span, and in every case uncertain; and if our happiness or misery hereafter is to depend upon our actions during this life, which I shall endeavour presently to prove they do, how very important must its concerns appear!

I candidly confess to you, that I cannot help sometimes shuddering at the thought of eternity; it is impossible that any one can reflect on it seriously, and be unmoved. If the torments of hell were to last but a week, a month, or a hundred years, they might be endured; but, alas! when hundreds, thousands, and millions of ages shall have crept slowly away, how agonizing the thought that our misery is hardly then commenced! O my friends! this is not an imaginary picture, invented by man to frighten sinners from their evil ways, and induce them to repent; it has been proclaimed a thousand times by the voice of God, and who dares to doubt his authority? How ought the following declarations to appall the heart of an unrepenting sinner, whose conscience terribly assures him that he is included in the awful denunciation, Acts, 17th chapter 31st verse, “Because He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead!” Again; 2nd Corinthians, 5th chapter, 10th verse, “For we must 143all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.” Again; John, 5th chapter, 28th & 29th verses, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth: they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” Again; Matthew, 13th chapter, 49th & 50th verse, “So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.” Again; Matthew, 25th chapter, 31st and following verses, “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, 144and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as you have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” Again; Romans, 2nd chapter, 6th and following verses, “who will render to every man according to his deeds: to them who by patience in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: but unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile; but glory, honour and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.” Again; Psalm ix. verse 17, “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.”

Who is so hardened in iniquity as to hear these 145threats without trembling, ignorant, as he must be, what moment the thunderbolt of God’s judgement may descend upon his guilty head? Can any of you doubt the purity or truth of that fountain whence these terrible assurances flow?—Suppose it should so happen, that the unembodied spirit of some departed friend were this night permitted to appear before you;—some one who had been the bosom companion of your earliest youth, before the fair blossoms of innocence were blasted and consumed by the pestilential breath of iniquity: or suppose the apparition of a father, mother, sister, brother, or husband, whose death was occasioned by your undutiful, graceless, or ungrateful behaviour, should present itself to your imagination, and assure you, in a voice of thunder, that a life of sin tends to misery on earth, and endless torments after death; would not such a visitation make a deep impression on your minds, and a total change in your lives? I really fear that with some of you it would not; for, if you will not believe the word of God, we are assured, “You would not believe, though one rose from the dead[17].”

Were it in the power of eloquence to pourtray, or could fancy represent, the horrors of that gloomy dungeon which is prepared for the punishment of condemned souls, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched[18];” where a single ray of joy will never be permitted to illumine the dark abode of the hopeless captive; where the wrath and indignation of 146a justly offended God will burn for time everlasting, without consuming the wretched sufferer; could any power of human language bring these things fairly before the imagination, the picture would be too shocking for the contemplation even of the most callous depravity. Should any of you give this tremendous situation a moment’s serious thought, you would surely be induced to renounce sin for ever.

In the foregoing observations I have endeavoured to address myself to sinners in general; but I have a few remarks to offer, which apply peculiarly to yourselves. Respecting the errors which have led to your present misfortunes I shall be silent. There are few or none of us, on taking a retrospective glance of life, but will perceive many wonderful instances of God’s goodness, many unmerited mercies. This, perhaps, some of you are unable to recognise, or unwilling to acknowledge, erroneously imagining that, because sin and folly have subjected you to disgrace and punishment, all the other favours of Heaven are withheld. But, my friends, we ought not to forget the many innumerable blessings and privileges we are still permitted to enjoy. We ought to be earnest in thanksgiving to the Author of all mercies, for bearing with our infirmities so long, and granting us time for repentance.

I cannot avoid reminding you of the great advantages you have enjoyed since you came to this ship: the means of grace are of inexpressible value, and I think you have had them in great abundance. The Scriptures have been constantly read and expounded to you according to the best of my ability; the utmost 147facility and encouragement have been held out to every one of you to persevere in religious worship; and all the avenues to vice and immorality have been guarded with vigilant care. Whenever we are visited with the dispensations of Heaven, we may rest assured that it is for wise purposes; and in the afflictions which you are now enduring, the warning hand of Divine Providence has been obviously stretched forth. Let me now ask you, What influence have all these had upon your minds? Are you more enlightened? Are your affections more raised from the world, and fixed on your Father in heaven? Have you ever, at the close of a day, or the end of a week, examined your own hearts to ascertain whether you had broken any of those cruel chains by which you were so fatally bound to iniquity? Believe me, my friends, frequent self-examination is of infinite value. It will stimulate you to acts of virtue, and insensibly lead to repentance, without which you cannot advance a single step towards a merciful Redeemer. Let it be engraven upon your minds, that in proportion as your opportunities of salvation have been numerous, so will your condemnation be grievous, if you allow them to pass unimproved and unheeded. Remember that the doors of mercy will not always be open. Oh! let me admonish you to draw near to God while he has promised to be gracious. The parable of the Fig-tree is wonderfully applicable in the present case[19]: “A certain man had a fig-tree planted in his vineyard, and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then 148said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig-tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbreth it the ground?” In this you may observe that God marks attentively how long we have been unprofitable and unfruitful. The fig-tree evidently had reference to sinners, who for a certain time disregarded the means of grace, and obstinately resisted his frequent invitations; which induced him at length to direct that the tree should be cut down, that is, that those sinners should be destroyed.

I said, in a former part of this discourse, that your situation was peculiar; it does indeed differ widely from that of most persons to whom divines have had opportunities of addressing the consoling doctrines of Jesus Christ. You have now bid adieu to your native land, the pleasures of which most of you must make up your minds to relinquish for ever. It is indeed very natural that the land which gave us birth, the spot where we first beheld the light of Heaven, should long be remembered with tenderness the most endearing. That we should cherish the finest feelings of affection for our native land, is directed by a great and irresistible law of nature, which was first implanted in our breasts by the hand of the Creator himself; and I can easily fancy the emotions that must swell your hearts, when the fond recollection of youthful joys, and innocent pleasures, returns upon your memory. To be thus cut off from your country, relations, friends, and acquaintances, is indeed a heavy affliction; and if your hope be placed on nothing above this earth, I pity you from my soul: but, if 149you can repose on the promises of God, and seek refuge in the merits of his blessed Son, our Redeemer, the proudest individual in this world has cause to envy you.

I think enough is comprised in the foregoing observations, to deter all rational beings from the commission of crime, and thereby exposing themselves to the vengeance of that awful Majesty that can crush them in an instant. Before I quit this subject, it may be expected that I mention a few of the motives that ought to incite us to virtue. These are so obvious, even to the most superficial observer, that it is hardly possible for any one who thinks at all, to hesitate which is to be chosen in preference, vice or virtue—happiness or misery. A good life is the surest pledge of a happy death. The promises of God are not less encouraging to the righteous, than disheartening to the wicked. In the 3d chapter and 33d verse of Proverbs, we read, “The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked, but he blesseth the habitation of the just.” Again, of the same 13th chapter, and 21st verse, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous, good shall be repaid.” The faith of a righteous man drawing towards the close of life, is beautifully expressed in the 23d Psalm, 4th and following verses. The Psalmist, reposing securely under the shelter of divine protection, says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 150Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.” By the Scripture term faith, I understand the inspired writers to mean, that a sinner, after forsaking the corruptions of sin and the flesh, and steadily persevering in the course of virtue and obedience, which the Christian religion points out, shall place entire reliance in the mediation of Christ, for pardon of his offences, and acceptance with God.

It might here very properly be asked, whether you ever knew of any one who, having led a virtuous life, had cause to repent of it at the hour of death? But, on the contrary, have you not all seen many flying to God in the hour of sickness and keen affliction, as the only certain source whence the true penitent may always derive consolation? Even in this life the righteous man has cause to believe that the blessing of Heaven will be extended to him. This expectation is confirmed to him by the assurance of the Psalmist, who says, in the 37th Psalm, 23d and following verses, “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; for the Lord upholdeth him with his hand. I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” In the 16th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, 22d and succeeding verses, we have a wonderful instance of God’s providence, in the protection and deliverance of two of his servants, which I consider highly deserving of your notice: “And the multitude rose up against them; and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and 151commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely; who having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks. And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried out with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm; for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, and brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

Would my time admit of making further extracts from Scripture, I could fill a multitude of pages with accounts of the loving-kindness and patient forbearance continually exercised by God towards his creatures; but the Bible is in the hands of you all, and I earnestly entreat you to make yourselves acquainted with the salutary and cheering precepts which you will find inculcated in every line of that sacred volume. It abounds in consolations with which the thirsty soul of the weary traveller, who is seeking salvation, may be feasted and refreshed. The careful perusal of this 152most excellent book is not only granted to us as a privilege, but God enjoins it as a duty: He says, in the Gospel according to St. John[20], “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”

I fear I have already trespassed too long on your patience; but I feel a resistless impulse to give you a brief account of the dying moments of two persons with whom I was acquainted, and from which, beyond all doubt, the most impressive moral lesson may be learned. I select these from a great many similar cases which came under my observation in the course of professional avocation in various parts of the world.

These men through life professed sentiments very different from each other; and at the awful hour of dissolution, their feelings were indeed very opposite. They were both snatched away in the prime of life, one being twenty-four, and the other twenty-seven years old. A long and disinterested friendship with the former, induced him to request my attendance professionally; but all human skill was vain: the cold hand of death had seized him. Never, in my life, did I see the cheering effects of a religious life more strongly exemplified than on this occasion. His wife, his mother, and his five sisters, with myself, were present. Observing his female relations in tears, he requested them to come near, and, after a little pause, addressed them in nearly the following words: “Beloved friends, I perceive with regret the anguish 153of your souls; I say regret, because I had promised myself nothing but tranquillity and happiness, while the partition is breaking down that separates me from my God. I am entering on my last journey, which, so far from being terrible, is inviting and delightful.” A paroxysm of pain here interrupted the interesting account, and for a minute he lay apparently insensible; but opening his eyes again, with a placid smile, he said, “I feel the infirmity of nature, but my sense of pain is lost in my ardent hope of salvation. I have heartily repented of all my sins, and firmly believe, through the benignant mercies of my God, and the redeeming merits of my blessed Saviour, I shall in a few minutes be numbered with the chosen of God. O my wife! my mother! my beloved sisters! I beseech you not to mourn my departure. I feel happiness unspeakable opening on my soul, as it bursts from this wretched tenement.” Then grasping my hand, he faintly exclaimed, “Ah, my friend! virtue is its own reward. See the effect of a religious life, and the blessed composure of a dying Christian:” he continued, “My lamp is nearly out; but, blessed be God, I feel that it has not burned in vain, O Lord God! excuse my impatience, I am ready to obey thy call, and anxious to receive thy promised rest.” Here his voice failed,—his tongue faltered,—and his spirit took its flight to the bosom of its Father in heaven.

The picture of my other unhappy friend was just the reverse of the above. He had indulged freely in all the fashionable gaieties of the world; and if ever a serious or useful thought obtruded on his disordered fancy, it was immediately stifled by some idle debauchery. 154In this mad career he quaffed away life to the dregs, and, before he arrived at the meridian of manhood, he was verging fast to the brink of eternity. A bacchanalian surfeit in a distant country brought on a fever, which threatened a speedy dissolution of life; and in this state I saw him for the first time for several years, and I am certain I shall never forget the painful feelings I endured throughout this melancholy interview. It is absolutely impossible to give even a faint idea of the horror, the agony, the heart-rending terror that harrowed up his soul, whenever the thought of death flashed across his mind. He received me with phrensied ardour, in which hope and fear were strongly depicted. “Alas!” he exclaimed, “you have come too late, for I am lost—every way lost.” I immediately perceived that life was ebbing fast; and being convinced that nothing short of divine interposition could retard his fate, I endeavoured to console him by drawing his attention to the mercies of God, and the saving mediation of a gracious Redeemer: to which he replied, with asperity and violence, “If you have any friendship left for a degraded, self-polluted wretch, torture not his last moments. My life has been spent in iniquity—foolishly spent, because it never yielded one hour of solid happiness. I have lived without thinking of God, and why should he now think of me, unless it be to judge me—to damn me?—Oh, God!—I shall go distracted!” A fainting fit intervened, and fortunately broke this mournful chain of reflection; but, alas! sensibility too soon returned, and with it fresh trains of gloomy despondency. He stared wildly, and roared out, “I have broken from him—but 155he is coming again—there—there—death!—Oh! save me—save me.” After nearly an hour passed in this dreadful state, he again became capable of reflecting; but every moment added to his dejection. “I have been so bad,” he exclaimed, “that God can never forgive me. I have blasphemed and dishonoured his holy name a hundred times, when my heart inwardly smote me. I have ridiculed and denied his existence, that my companions in error might think well of me; but I never was sincere in my wickedness.” His mind became so agitated that all reasoning was lost:—he was unable to repent; and the thought of death rent his very soul. In this perturbed state he languished for about four hours, from the time of my first seeing him; till at length, overwhelmed by despair, a paroxysm of fever closed the tragic scene. The last words he uttered, that I could distinctly hear, were, “God will not, cannot forgive!—” The remainder was lost in a murmuring groan.

Oh! my friends, could I convey to you any idea of the awful feelings which the wretched death of this wretched man produced upon my mind, it would, I think, deter the most thoughtless of you from those practices which ruin both soul and body. Would to God that you had been present! My description may not penetrate beyond the ear: but had you witnessed the dreadful original, it would have pierced your hearts.

Before concluding these observations, I cannot refrain from indulging myself in a single remark on your conduct lately, which I have infinite pleasure in saying merits the highest approbation of both Captain 156Brown and myself. Believe me, I lost no opportunity of acquainting all my benevolent friends of your good behaviour before we left England; and if you persevere to the end of the voyage in this praiseworthy manner, I promise you that all the well disposed inhabitants of the country to which you are going shall be informed of it; and in my best offices with the Governor you may most religiously confide.

5th.—At the earnest solicitation of several of the prisoners, I allowed copies of the above address to be taken by them, having the greater inclination to comply with this request, as I wished to see its effects rendered permanent. Their general conduct continues exemplary.

8th.—The same unvarying scene now presents itself every day. The women show no inclination whatever to hold conversation with the sailors. In every part of the ship to which the prisoners are allowed access, I have the gratifying opportunity of seeing some one of them reading a portion of Scripture, or some religious tract, to a group of her companions collected round to hear the consoling doctrines of the gospel. It now requires little or no entreaty to induce them to the practice of religious worship, in which I am persuaded many of them engage with sincere piety.

At 11 A. M. being somewhat indisposed, the Rev. Mr. Reddall did me the favour to read a sermon in the prison, during which I was summoned to a child that had long lingered from water on the brain, and was then dying. When the sermon was finished, I took occasion to address the women on the subject of 157death, as mentioned in my last address. The child’s dissolution, which had just taken place, gave an opportunity of impressing the subject on their minds; and, if one may judge by the burst of feeling it produced, it will not be speedily obliterated, the circumstances of life and death being immediately present to the imagination of each every moment of the voyage. Between 4 and 5 P. M. the funeral service was read by the Rev. Mr. Reddall, and the body of the child was committed to the deep.

10th.—About half past 10 last night, an infant belonging to one of the prisoners died from the effects of a blood-vessel of the lungs ruptured about five weeks previously. About half past 3 this evening the reverend Mr. Reddall read the funeral service, and the body was committed to the deep. The reverend gentleman afterwards addressed the women (who were present as well on this as the former occasion) in an impressive moral exhortation, to which they paid the most respectful attention. Their conduct has been generally so good as to admit of no opportunity of using one word of animadversion as heretofore.

11th.—At 11 A. M. the Rev. Mr. Reddall read to the women in the prison a sermon which he had written for the particular occasion, admirably adapted to their situation. It was intended as an appeal to their feelings, and realized the expectations formed of its effects: there was not in fact a dry eye present. When he had concluded, I made a few observations expressive of my approbation of their general behaviour, and how much it gratified me to observe their gradual reformation. I now entertain scarcely a shadow of doubt 158that the great design of the Ladies’ Committee will be crowned with complete success.

14th.—Nothing remarkable has occurred since last date, the conduct of the prisoners being uniformly correct. The increasing heat of the weather,—the ship having advanced considerably within the tropics,—together with the full diet, have produced inflammatory symptoms among the prisoners, which it was necessary to treat with copious depletion, and other advisable means. I have satisfaction in observing them relieved by the above treatment.

15th.—This day, according to the usual rule, the prisoners were assembled to hear religious instruction; but as the weather was very hot, it appeared most proper that I should read the discourse to them on deck, where the Reverend Mr. Reddall, Captain Brown, and his officers, attended. The behaviour of the women was discreet and orderly: their manners have assumed a certain sedateness which recommends them to particular notice. Several have been employed in plaiting straw, and doing needle-work; many are quite devoted to reading and conversing on the Scriptures, thus filling up their time very usefully.

16th.—This day, about 11 A. M., there came on a heavy squall from the S.E., which blew with tremendous fury for nearly an hour, accompanied with very heavy and incessant rain. Being aware of its approach, I had ordered the beds to be carefully covered in the netting. As this was the first appearance of any thing like a storm, many of the women from a motive of curiosity remained upon deck until the hurrying exertions of the sailors, and the loud voices of the Captain and officers 159giving the necessary commands for the management of the ship, excited their terror and drove them all below drenched with rain.

I had been occupied in the hospital with the sick patients when the confusion on deck was in its height, and on coming into the prison was presented with a sight which, I must confess, gave me inexpressible gratification. Most of the women were on their knees devoutly engaged in prayer;—they did not appear to notice me, so great was their abstraction;—all was silence, and religious awe. The apprehended danger seemed to have brought forth the feelings of fervent devotion, and their appearance, as they were then to be viewed, was similar to that of a well ordered assembly at church.

The matter, altogether, made an impression on my mind which will not soon be removed; because at that instant I had the most satisfactory proof of the results I had always anticipated from the system adopted. Here, for instance, was a moment to try their faith. All the feelings seemed now absorbed in religious thought, and they appeared firm in reliance on the protection of Divine Providence;—an idea to which many of them had been hitherto strangers, and the majority of them did not dare to indulge. The shallow sceptic, who would despair of producing religious impression on the minds of convicts, might, in this happy and unexpected occurrence, find enough to convince him of his error, and to make him change his opinion, were his ignorance formed even of the most stubborn materials.

A subsequent circumstance also persuaded me that 160the alarm created by the squall was the means of calling up in their minds more lasting reflections of a religious nature; for, about 4 in the evening, Sidney Williams, whose conduct in Newgate was so extravagantly wicked as to induce the Surgeon of that establishment to propose her removal to Bethlehem Hospital, came to me with a hymn, which I had given her some time before to learn, with a promise of some mark of approbation in case of attention, and recited the whole with feeling and correctness. I engaged her immediately to commit to memory my first address, and have very little doubt of her performing the task.

The example of Sidney Williams was followed by many others, to the number of twenty nearly, who have also undertaken to commit the same address to memory, in expectation of gaining the proposed reward. I must not omit to mention here another trait of improvement noticed and reported to me by Captain Brown:—Within the last few days some of the younger convicts, who appeared more volatile than others, were in the habit of using sacred words in ordinary conversation, not as oaths, but as harmless expletives: but now, however, all such expressions have been laid aside.

18th.—Sunday.—The weather being fine, the convicts were assembled on deck, and a sermon read to them by the Reverend Mr. Reddall, to which they gave undivided attention, and appeared to acknowledge the force of the arguments by correspondent feeling. After sermon I addressed them in a concise exhortation on the necessity of frequent self-examination, urging its 161important advantages in the guidance of every part of their conduct, and have reason to hope the admonition was not lost upon them.

Having long considered that some mode of keeping their minds in constant action could not fail of producing good moral effects, and as a state of idleness had been generally attended with injurious consequences when they were imprisoned in England, it appeared to me manifest that nothing could be more desirable than to devise some means of producing that activity with as little delay as possible. As every day now seemed to bring forth in their conduct the dawning of some good quality which had been obscured in the darkness of their former lives, and as their minds appeared strongly attached to religious reflection, I thought it most expedient to employ them in committing to memory some short moral or religious composition, proposing, as an inducement, a copy of the Bible with the name of the successful candidate for the first place of merit, in my own hand-writing; and to the two next, a copy of some religious book, one to each, marked in the same manner; also to the next seven, another small favour, with a similar mark of approbation.

I further informed them, that an account of their success should be entered in the journal with their respective names, which would be submitted to the Governor at Sydney, backed with particular commendation from myself, as they deserved; and that a copy of those names should also be transmitted to London. They unanimously and cheerfully presented themselves in competition for the proposed reward; and I had the 162pleasure of understanding that many would undertake the task purely from a sense of duty, and gratitude for the care which they experienced during the voyage. This latter feeling was evinced by many of the Newgate prisoners, among whom I was particularly gratified in seeing Sidney Williams. The change in this girl is astonishing, not only as it regards herself individually, but as her altered conduct serves as an useful lesson and example to others.

I cannot refrain from repeating my firm conviction, that the very best consequences would be found to result, during the voyage to New South Wales, were the convicts provided with means of constant employment in some useful and light way befitting their sex; as I find uniformly their minds much more tractable and obedient when they are so employed. One obvious benefit would attend such a provision,—they would thereby, having their attention profitably engaged, avoid allurements to improper or useless conversation, and would rather turn their thoughts, as these do at present, to religious or moral subjects. This latter intention might be promoted by grouping the workers into certain classes, according to their employment, and appointing one of their number best qualified to read from some edifying book, instructive discourses, or such passages of moral entertainment as might be selected for that purpose; in time, use would render this custom familiar and pleasing.

Some time after the women had been sent below this evening,—which is a proceeding always observed at a certain hour, and attended to by them with the 163utmost decorum,—Mrs. Brown and Mrs. Reddall walking on deck to enjoy the delightful cool, which was made more pleasing by moonlight and a gentle breeze,—their ears were struck with agreeable sounds coming from the prison. On approaching cautiously, not to disturb any person below, they found the sounds were produced by several of the women singing hymns in symphony in a very low key. The stillness of the hour, and the contrast of a religious exercise of that pleasing character among women heretofore the objects of pity, punishment, or contempt, were calculated to produce a combined effect of the most satisfactory kind.

20th.—At 9 this morning a complaint was made against Mary James for abusing a fellow prisoner without provocation. On investigating the case, the statement was found to be correct, and also that she had wantonly used the most foul and disgusting language. I represented to her the impropriety of such behaviour, and rebuked her for it, threatening her with punishment if it were repeated. So far from expressing any regret for her irregularity, she declared her intention to do so as often as any one gave her cause, nor would she listen to the consequences of such insubordination. She was proceeding with some indecent and offensive language in my presence, and would not desist in spite of every remonstrance. I therefore tied her hands and gagged her, declaring she should not be loosed until she returned to a proper sense of her duty. In about an hour afterwards, she signified deep sorrow for her error; on which she was immediately released, and pardoned formally on promise 164of more regular behaviour in future. At noon the prison, having been cleaned out as usual, was sprinkled with vinegar.

21st.—This day was given to cleaning and fumigating the prison. Being desirous to let the women have the benefit of bathing, the tub was sent below for that purpose, but was found rather large for admission by the doors; which being of slight materials, and hastily put together, were unable to withstand the most trifling shock, and were, consequently, much shaken and injured by forcing in the bathing-tub. This is not the only instance in which the carpentry work of the prison was found deficient;—the locks are usually of the commonest kind, and insecure, as well as liable to be put out of order by the most simple accident,—even by the pressure of the adjacent woodwork, when the vessel happens to roll heavily.

22nd.—At 11 this day, according to custom, I read a sermon to the convicts, whose whole behaviour on the occasion merited praise. In their general conduct they are decent and orderly, while their constant cheerfulness makes them appear not to feel their separation from former acquaintance very heavily. Many of the prisoners are every day employed in working straw plait, and in various other light occupations, such as sewing and knitting,—the materials of which were supplied by the Ladies’ Committee.

23rd. Many of the women are attacked with inflammatory fever.

25th.—Sunday. This day severe illness prevented me from reading to the prisoners according to custom; and, as I was confined to bed, the Reverend Mr. Reddall 165kindly officiated on the occasion, and read to them one of his own sermons, their attention to which afforded much satisfaction. Mr. Reddall alluding to my illness, excited strong marks of feeling and concern amongst them on that account. In the afternoon I made an effort to see the sick persons, and administered the necessary remedies.

26th.—The inflammatory fever has been subdued in the cases mentioned, and the other patients in the hospital are doing well. The women are constantly engaged upon deck in the usual industrious employments.

27th.—This day passed as heretofore in the most orderly and decent manner on the part of the prisoners, although my illness interrupted that watchfulness which I wished invariably to observe. Their conduct, indeed, has been so uniformly correct as to present a sameness of record too tiresome, were it not for the pleasure afforded by witnessing their regular advancement in those principles of religion and virtue which I was anxious to see established in full influence amongst them.

This evening, after the beds had been sent below, a scene of rather a novel nature presented itself, and served to convince me that perfection had not as yet been attained by the convicts. The circumstance is inserted, as presenting an alteration of feature in this journal, rather than from its appearing seriously worthy of notice. Ann Williams being in familiar conversation with the elder Farrell, had contrived to pick her pocket, but was instantly detected; when all the bitter upbraiding of Farrell’s merciless tongue was levelled 166at the delinquent. This was resented in a way rather rude, as soon as they were all sent below to bed; and the clamour brought Captain Brown and the Reverend Mr. Reddall to the spot, when the assailant was secured, and tied up during the night, and every thing became tranquil.

28th.—On opening the prison this morning at daylight, according to custom, I released Williams without speaking much to her, reserving my observations until my health might allow of the exertion. The women have been all this day grave, silent, and evidently concerned for the occurrences of last evening.

29th.—This day Samuel Brown, a convict’s child, died in the hospital; and the funeral service having been read as usual by the Reverend Mr. Reddall, the body was committed to the deep. At 11 A. M. the same gentleman read a moral discourse to the women, at which, though extremely ill, I endeavoured to be present, and, after it was ended, addressed them briefly on the very disgraceful conduct of some of them on Tuesday evening. My observations were tempered with mildness, and were chiefly directed to the warm concern which I was informed they had expressed for my illness, which I assured them had made a strong impression on my mind. I exhorted them to persevere in good and virtuous conduct; as, to see them moral, and happy from that cause, was my greatest comfort; that the only reward I sought was that very sense of gratitude which they had shown for my attentions, and that, so long as health would permit, I should exert myself for their welfare. They all appeared orderly, attentive, and respectful, and 167seemed generally to censure the conduct of the late offenders.

30th.—Frequent squalls, with rain, occurring this day, kept the prisoners for the greater part below, where they were all usefully employed, and such as had no work to do, filled up the vacant hours by religious reading.

July 2nd.—Sunday. This day the Reverend Mr. Reddall read a sermon on deck to the women, at which I endeavoured to be present, although my state of health was very indifferent. The orderly behaviour of the women, and their decent, and even neat appearance, afforded me much pleasure.

6th.—The preceding four days have passed in uninterrupted tranquillity;—not a single circumstance having occurred to excite disapprobation. It is extremely gratifying to observe little groups of the prisoners, both in the prison and upon deck, reading the Scriptures, and devoutly worshiping their Maker. At first many of them showed considerable reluctance and shyness to be seen in acts of devotion; but that false shame has happily disappeared. This day, at the usual hour, I read to them a sermon, which was followed by an exhortation by the Reverend Mr. Reddall of a serious, impressive, and appropriate nature.

8th.—The occurrences of these two days correspond with those of the preceding, except that hence a manifest argument for the necessity of employment among the convicts may be drawn, as to the advantages obtainable by daily occupation, in the singular alteration for the better in the conduct of Ann Newton, who, since she commenced working articles of straw 168manufacture, seems entirely to have lost her disposition to licentious romping and careless expressions, for which she, more than any of her companions, used to be remarked. Her demeanour now is much more steady, and that activity of mind which would have vented itself in mischief, is now in a very particular manner directed to industry; her appearance also, which used to be that of a slattern, and exhibited almost a studied want of cleanliness, is become, even in her plainest dress, neat and decent;—every thing about her, in fact, bespeaks a marked amendment. Another circumstance in the conduct of this young woman is particularly deserving of notice; she every day chooses a retired seat apart from her companions, where she assiduously pursues her work in silence and remarkable reserve, yet appearing cheerful and contented.

9th.—This day, Sunday, being wet and uncomfortable, the prisoners were unable to enjoy the advantages of the air on deck, as usual; and this disappointment seemed to be felt considerably, as they had all dressed themselves very neatly, many wearing new dresses which they had made up during the week. At the accustomed hour the Reverend Mr. Reddall accompanied me to the prison, where he read to them an excellent discourse written for the occasion, on the advantages arising from perseverance in “well-doing,” which contained some affecting allusions to their situation, of which they testified the most lively feeling, particularly of gratitude towards their good friends of the Committee, and all those whose kind attentions were exerted for their welfare. I offered a few observations approving of their general conduct, and holding 169out inducements for further improvement: the burst of strong feeling universally expressed throughout this penitent community was overwhelming; their sobs and tears were to me the best reward I could possibly be presented with, nor could I proceed without a painful emotion mingled with pleasure. Were the benevolent ladies, who have done so much for these poor contrite sufferers, then present, they would doubtless have been much gratified. These women are no longer the wild and abandoned creatures known throughout the prisons of England;—they are now an orderly company, more like sisters in one family than persons thrown together by accident or misfortune.

13th.—Throughout the last few days the weather has continued boisterous, cold, and wet, proving extremely uncomfortable to the prisoners; for which reason they mostly remain below, exercising themselves in such work as they can,—cleaning the prison and making every thing dry and snug about them. The greater number were engaged at times to-day in learning hymns, or reciting, and afterwards singing them with grave attention. It having blown a violent gale during the night, they were all greatly harassed, and many of them are still seriously alarmed by the extraordinary rolling of the ship.

At the accustomed hour I read to them a short discourse, and followed it up with some observations applicable to the state of their fears on the preceding night, with which they were much affected. As a mark of approbation for their care in studying the hymns, and so laudably singing them, one copy of Watts’s Collection of Hymns was given to each mess, accompanied 170with such remarks as were likely to confirm their pious purposes. This little favour was gladly and gratefully received: hence the full assurance that they will derive much benefit from having those small books, as they have ever since been collected in groups to hear them read.

As further marks of encouragement, I distributed among the most deserving some more straw, and such other materials for industry as had been supplied by the Committee: from their great diligence in working these, I feel the more strongly impressed with a conviction of the propriety and necessity of putting on board for the voyage a sufficient quantity of materials to provide constant employment for the convicts on the passage to the colony. The best proof of this is the superior correctness of conduct manifested by such as are so employed, even on the present very limited scale.

14th.—This day the prisoners were confined below by the severity of the weather, the wind still continuing to blow a heavy gale. Their situation was rendered the more uncomfortable, from the wet occasioned by the sea sometimes breaking over the netting, and making its way into the prison: besides, the wind having carried away the cover of the boiler, it became very difficult, almost impossible, to get any thing cooked: to those little hardships, however, they submitted without a murmur. An extra allowance of wine was issued, to relieve as much as possible these inconveniences.

15th.—Nothing of importance has occurred this day. The weather having become more favourable, 171the convicts were employed in cleaning the decks of the prison, and making themselves as comfortable as possible.

16th. Sunday.—The Rev. Mr. Reddall and Captain Brown accompanied me this day to the prison, where Mr. Reddall read to the convicts a discourse on the conversion of St. Paul. Some thoughts having suggested themselves as appropriately applying to their immediate condition, I offered a few brief observations to that effect, which I have reason to hope were heard by them with serious interest.

A recent circumstance may here be introduced, to show the happy influence already extending over the minds of these forlorn females. Mary Hough, one of those sent from Stockport, was married to a man of dissolute character, who not only, as she asserted, induced her to commit the offence for which she was sentenced to her present punishment, but had taken up with another female, whose misfortune in knowing him was similar to her own; for the same woman is also a convict in this ship, with a young child by the same man, of which she was pregnant at the time of her commitment to prison. Mary Hough was at first, she acknowledges, full of resentment and rage against this unfortunate woman; but she has latterly become so altered in her mind, from the effects of religious exercises, that she has made the most sincere declarations of forgiveness to the object of her jealous enmity, and even sends a part of her own ration of wine to assist the poor mother in supporting the infant in health. This Hough is exemplary in 172her behaviour, and frequently expresses anxious wishes for her wicked husband’s reformation.

17th.—The sameness which has hung over the reports in the preceding weeks, has at length met some variation from an occurrence which has just taken place. In consequence of a regulation which had been long organized and established, I had, at the earliest moment possible after opening the prison this morning, intelligence of a transaction which happened shortly after last midnight. During yesterday a secret arrangement, it appears, had been made by three of the sailors, in pursuance of which they watched a convenient opportunity of going down to the prison-door at the fore hatchway, which is always secured with two locks, and there endeavoured to open a passage for three of the convicts, Ann Farrell, Ann Newton, and Ann Harwood, who had consented to accompany them below. After some feeble endeavours, the sailors, fearing detection, desisted, and retired in savage disappointment.

Having received this information, on the truth of which I could rely, I lost not an instant to confer with Captain Brown, who offered the most prompt assistance. I sent for the three offending prisoners, who, with the utmost plausibility and perseverance, insisted that they had no participation in the design. Being, however, convinced of their criminal intention in the affair, I placed them in strict confinement, positively forbidding any one of them to appear again on deck during the remainder of the voyage; which must operate upon them as a heavy punishment.

173The greatest precautions were used at the same time, by Captain Brown, to place a grating, and more secure fastenings, over the hatchway, where the attempt had been made; and more strict regulations were issued for the conduct of the sailors. It may be recollected that Newton, one of the offenders in the present instance, had lately shown strong inclination to amendment, having applied herself assiduously to working straw-plait; but, unfortunately, the materials being all worked up, the mischief of idleness returned upon her volatile disposition, and the effects are, her being involved in the above improper conspiracy. Let this suffice, without further comment, to prove the unhappy consequences that result from the convicts not having means of permanent employment during the voyage.

19th.—This morning a woman, who conducted herself throughout the voyage with exemplary propriety, solicited my protection against the insulting abuse and infamous threats of two of the sailors, which she declared had been quite unprovoked. Having investigated the case, I found her statement correct. These fellows, who had attempted to break into the prison on the night of the 16th, believing it was this woman who communicated to me the facts of that infamous transaction, took this opportunity of venting their low malice against her, using the most dreadful oaths and imprecations, that they would throw her overboard before the voyage was over; or that they would most certainly kill her in the colony; one of them at the same time seizing her as if he was about to put the threat into execution.

174I soothed the poor woman’s alarms, as well I could, with promises of protection to the utmost of my ability, and represented the affair to Captain Brown, declaring to him, that any injury done to the prisoners should be followed with punishment, to the utmost extent and rigour of the law, on our arrival in the colony:—from him I experienced the most ready and friendly co-operation, in no degree marked by the lukewarm impulse of mere duty, but by the elevated principle of moral rectitude. He represented to the men what I had said, and assured them, that such disgraceful and unmanly behaviour should not only be discountenanced, but be visited with all the punishment he had the power to inflict. Unfortunately, however, in vessels of this description, the law has provided no remedy against the most unbridled licentiousness; and sailors may, in fact, commit any crime short of mutiny, or injury to the ship’s concerns, without the least apprehension of penal consequences, while they almost always act up fully to the extent of this unreasonable immunity.

The rest of the prisoners expressed their feelings respecting the misconduct of the three thoughtless females in terms of bitter indignation;—they declared such behaviour unworthy and disgraceful to beings on whom such care had been lavished. Scoffs and insults from every part of the prison were poured on the now mournful offenders, who complained piteously of their sufferings, and declared they were so wretched that life was not worth preserving. I had to entreat and command the others to desist from persecuting them; but on this occasion my authority 175had weight no longer than I was present to enforce it, although on every other occasion my orders met with the most prompt obedience. To screen them from personal violence, and preserve peace among them, I found it necessary to remove the offenders into the hospital. This circumstance proved the strong feeling that habit, if not a better state of mind, had given birth to.

20th.—An effort was made last night, by two of the sailors, to break into the prison, to communicate with the three girls in confinement; but it does not appear that any effort on their side was made to encourage such proceeding: one of the fellows threw down a letter through an opening in the deck made for the admission of air to the hospital, but it was torn without having been read. I have strong expectations that these weak creatures are becoming again sincerely steady, having conversed with them almost every hour since their separation from the others, and found them constantly in tears, without expressing a wish to have their confinement relaxed.

At noon, Captain Brown and the Rev. Mr. Reddall accompanied me to the prison, where I read a sermon, and made a few remarks, approving of their prudent behaviour in avoiding such solicitations as had involved the others in the disgrace of the late transaction, and commending them for the reserve shown generally towards those who sought only to lead them again astray from virtuous obedience. I advised them also to cultivate that peaceful and friendly disposition towards one another, which heretofore formed so praiseworthy a feature in the character 176of their little community. This appeared to allay all acrimonious feeling, and appease every discontent: a spirit of harmony is again restored, to experience, it is hoped, no further interruption: still, however, it seems prudent, under every consideration of the circumstances, to keep the three offenders in duresse.

23rd.—These last three days proceeded without any further annoyance from the sailors, who appear to conduct themselves with a greater regard to decency, acting more under controul, seemingly, than might be expected from persons ignorant in the extreme of moral virtue, slaves to their passions, and amenable in scarcely any degree to discipline of any form, evidently aware of their power to act in every manner as suits their inclination. The exertions of Captain Brown, in finding the sailors constant employment, which their selfishness forbids them to refuse, and the vigilance constantly exercised over both them and the women, have changed the scene very much for the better.

The conduct of the three secluded females is, generally speaking, marked with sincere repentance, their manner being sorrowful and extremely submissive. Their confinement is still continued, in order to keep them in this state of mind, and to render the amendment already manifested secure and permanent. They were admitted to-day into the prison, and had the benefit of a religious discourse and exhortation from the Rev. Mr. Reddall, at which Captain Brown attended. The little assembly was remarkable for an appearance of cleanliness, and their demeanour showed evident signs of advancement in religious and moral 177feeling. It is barely justice to them to say, that in no part of the voyage had I greater reason to approve of their conduct, than since the affair of their three companions took place.

After sermon I spoke a few words, recommending to their strict attention the subject of the sermon they had just heard, adding a very brief admonition on their religious duties generally, to which they gave a marked and silent hearing: that they carry these things constantly in mind, is evident from the tenour of all their actions, almost every one of them being seen occupied with some of the religious books given them; nor is levity of manner in the slightest degree observable amongst them.

This day I had the pleasure of conferring the promised mark of approbation, proposed some time since, as a reward to the one who should first commit to memory the address with which the voyage was commenced. It is peculiarly gratifying to say, that the successful candidate is Sidney Williams, who, it may be recollected, was characterized in most alarming colours for her conduct in Newgate. Now, however, let the change in her behaviour be considered, and surely every one who loves to see the erring sinner reclaimed, advancing first in the path to virtue and excellence, must feel a sympathy in her misfortunes, and rejoice in her extraordinary recovery from wickedness.

On Friday last this girl applied to me with modest confidence to repeat the Address, requesting me to hear her in the attempt; which being complied with, she recited it with ease and accuracy. I deferred to 178give the promised reward till the present day; and after sermon I called Sidney Williams forward by name (a circumstance quite unusual), and having read aloud the inscription, which, according to promise, was in my own hand-writing, I presented her with a large copy of the Bible, accompanying it with expressions of warm approbation, and of encouragement to further virtuous endeavours. The effect of this little affair upon the other prisoners was, as it were, electric: they hastened to give assurances of their desire for the like distinction, but at the same time expressed no envy of Sidney Williams’s success.

27th.—This day, Thursday, at the usual hour, I read a sermon to the prisoners: the behaviour of all was as usual sedate and attentive. Their minds seem now, as far as it can be discerned, completely abstracted from all those pernicious subjects of a vicious nature which formerly occupied their thoughts, and a fixed and settled manner, according to their various tempers, characterizes every one of them. The three offenders were admitted to the sermon, and their appearance is quite lowly, and strongly bespeaks repentance. Every means that can be resorted to is employed to prevail on me to alter their sentence, and withdraw the prohibition of their appearing upon deck, promising the most rigid observance of decorum and prudent conduct, if once more tried:—but, every circumstance being duly considered, it appears most advisable to continue them still longer in their present place of security.

28th.—The behaviour of the prisoners continues 179orderly, sedate, and tranquil; all seeming anxious to arrive at their destination, rather from a desire to commence industrious and honest occupations than from a weariness of the voyage. Their whole conduct is such as to call forth approbation in every instance; and I find their attention and watchfulness particularly exerted to avoid any blameable action, since the late misfortune of their three companions. These latter are still continued in confinement, avoiding the frequent attempts of the sailors to induce them to a conversation.

Another gross instance of impropriety on the part of these men has this day been discovered, which is as strongly marked for its unmanly meanness as it is for its barbarity. Having no longer the opportunities of conversing with the women, as formerly they used to do in spite of every restraint, and in violation of their commander’s positive orders,—not content with annoying the confined females with their gross assiduities, they now direct their cowardly malice against the other women, watching the opportunities of the night-time,—stamping over the prison about the fore-hatchway,—making hideous noises, and crying out “The ship is sinking,”—and in every possible way disturbing the prisoners’ sleep, in alarming their fears. Sometimes their vulgar ingenuity tries the idea of a ghost stalking about the prison, and this they endeavour to communicate to them through the prison-grating, to the great distress of such as are weak enough to believe them; but the majority of the women have too much good sense to notice such rude and idle attacks.

180As these malignant ruffians in this manner insult and torment the poor prisoners, who have no means of resisting or avoiding the abuse, is it not to be deemed unfortunate that no power exists to punish, or at least control, such base conduct? When spoken to concerning such proceedings, they make light of the matter, saying they merely jump about for nothing but amusement,—not offering to deny that they have done so. Were no other proof existing, the fact of such things having occurred, ought to make the establishment of some appropriate and efficient regulations in these circumstances as sure of adoption as they are imperiously requisite.

Captain Brown has severely reprimanded the sailors for their misconduct; but to this they showed the most careless indifference, still persevering in their shameful practices in defiance of his strict injunctions, and in open opposition to the officer of the watch; so that the disposition of those men, so obstinately evinced, may be productive of consequences still more serious, as no means of compelling them to alter their behaviour can be resorted to at present. Having consulted with the commander on this state of things, we have determined to avoid openly censuring them as much as possible, and allow the affair to pass without further notice, as the least mischievous proceeding they may put in practice.

30th.—This day a discourse was read in the prison. The decent appearance of the prisoners, who were as clean and neat as their circumstances would permit, was highly praiseworthy. After sermon I remarked 181on the necessity there was for an active co-operation on their part, by reflection and meditation, to give effect to the discourses they heard from time to time, as otherwise it would be a useless application of those valuable compositions barely to hear them read, unless they turned them to good account;—that the reading of sermons would, in fact, become an idle ceremony, should they not with earnestness and attention endeavour to benefit by the excellent advice they contained;—that in this way their time would be most profitably exercised, and every hour thus devoted would be found of increased value. I was gratified in observing, by their manner, that these hints were not thrown away, as they gave evident signs of being impressed with their truth.

Their general behaviour is in every respect unexceptionable, and I more certainly than ever, nay I may venture to say decidedly, calculate on final success in landing them, with the help of a kind providence, perfectly in health, and furnished with some sound and lasting principles of moral rectitude, and religious knowledge, in future to guide them in all their actions. The three confined females continue extremely submissive in their behaviour, and the reserve they show every day gives me greater cause to be satisfied of the propriety of keeping them still confined, the good effects of the mild yet cautious treatment they receive being so very evident. As little intercourse as possible now occurs between the other women and the sailors, although the latter seem but little ashamed of their disgraceful conduct, and behave with insolent freedom towards the prisoners whenever they can, 182though they meet with silent disregard. The insolence, however, of some of these men carries them frequently beyond the bounds of toleration, threatening the women and making use of infamous language without any just cause or pretence whatever.

August 1st.—This day the competition for the other prizes was decided,—Mary Broom, about ten years old, daughter of a convict, having gained the second; whilst the third was won by Mary St. John, a respectable-looking elderly prisoner, both of whom recited the address without making a mistake. The success of this trial, which was made as a substitute for employment, is the more remarkable from the previous history of the competitors;—Sidney Williams having been notorious for her profligacy,—the second worthy of notice from her youth, and unfortunate situation,—and the third, a grave matronly woman, whose example has some influence: yet, far from producing envy among the rest, these examples have served to stimulate them to similar exertions, and forty others, at least, are now busily engaged in committing the address to memory. Their endeavour to succeed affords a good deal of employment, which is the most difficult matter to invent, as all the materials furnished from the Ladies’ Committee have been long since worked up: this exercise, besides filling up some of their time, helps of course to keep in their minds a lively remembrance of the principles inculcated from the beginning.

Were it not for this lamentable want of employment, I would encourage myself to hope that the great work of their reformation might be fully effected. They 183are now as much under the regulation of religious precept and moral propriety, almost, as they are capable of being brought; it only remaining to be shown, as I apprehend, by their actions when again introduced into the world, that they are seriously determined on continuing this new life, heartily renouncing all their former unfortunate habits and inclinations. Of this I have satisfactory and gratifying assurances in many communications conveyed to me from several of these poor penitents, hitherto considered intractable, and who are indeed still looked upon by their less reflective companions as if they were the same giddy thoughtless beings as formerly. In these communications I am requested to continue my care of them as usual, and explain to them, at a convenient leisure, portions and texts of Scripture which they could not of themselves comprehend. It is needless almost to add, that I lose no opportunity of cultivating this disposition, and encouraging them by every means in my power to persevere in their good purposes.

Ann Newton and her companions continue to prove the sincerity of their amendment by the most correct behaviour: yet still my determination remains unchanged, not to have them exposed to the same risk again, and therefore they are constantly secluded in the hospital. Some of the sailors continue the nocturnal annoyance over the prison, as before, in defiance of remonstrance. Were it not for the misfortune of having to guard against the wicked daring of these men, I should now have nothing to concern myself about, relative to the moral conduct of the prisoners, 184as I may, without presumption, consider that I have, with the assistance of a gracious Providence, redeemed my engagement with regard to this truly important object. It would be a task of some difficulty to depict in true and just colours the detail of their state as it at present stands. They seem all of one family,—perfectly coalescing, and harmonized to a simplicity and reciprocal gentleness of manner, that, considering their former lives, would seem almost foreign to their nature.

2nd.—In the record of the preceding day I congratulated myself on the state of improvement for which the prisoners were remarkable, and described their demeanour as being more gentle than seemed indicated by their natural disposition. Whilst I would iterate the same opinion with confidence respecting the behaviour of the generality of them, it must not be denied that there are some few among them, whose characters I have studied to know, but whose stubborn temper there is reason to fear has not been as yet subdued, or scarcely can be so, although their minds are undoubtedly much under the influence of moral discipline.

Shortly after opening the prison this morning, I had painful evidence of this uncontrollable disposition, finding Mary Linch, a woman of ferocious character, mauling and abusing a fellow prisoner, of timid disposition and peaceful conduct, for some trifling matter of dispute; but so enraged had the latter become by the attack, as almost to equal the other in fury; and both proved so ungovernable, that I was compelled to resort to the only effectual means of coercion within 185my reach, that of tying the combatants together. This process in a short time brought them to reflection; they acknowledged their offence in the most humble terms, and prayed forgiveness; which, after some delay, was allowed, with an admonition in the public hearing of the other prisoners. This trifling irregularity, by disturbing the sameness of the scene, may be productive of some good, as it will make the whole more strictly observant of decent and orderly behaviour.

3rd.—This day, as usual, I read an appropriate discourse in the prison, all appearing attentive to the subject, as also to the remarks which it occurred to me to make on Linch’s late conduct. The same opportunity served to contrast her behaviour with that of the child and woman to whom I presented the prizes they had so meritoriously obtained. This affair has increased an emulative spirit among the others, who are exerting themselves to gain similar distinction.

The manner in which the three hospital prisoners are going on affords me much satisfaction; but I still consider them most securely placed out of the way of temptation where they are; and there they shall remain, as I am anxious to land them at their place of destination in a state of mind as pure as it is in my power to effect. Little doubt is on my mind that they might be safely set at large again: but for example’s sake it is best their confinement should continue; the situation of the hospital renders them healthy and comfortable. Linch also, for her savage conduct, is forbidden to appear on deck.

6th.—At the usual hour, this day, I read a sermon 186in the prison; and as the subject was chosen with reference to the recent misconduct of Mary Linch, and was calculated to enforce peaceable and quiet disposition generally, it was heard with remarkable attention. I alluded to the circumstances of the late affray, but avoided making it appear extravagantly wicked; my design being rather to make them love good order and meekness of mind, and to excite a dislike of discord and quarrelling. The observations were therefore of a mild and conciliatory nature;—That, as they were all driven by an irresistible necessity to continue together for a certain time, and as they must less or more feel themselves the children of misfortune and misery, it would better become them as Christians to love one another, than by indecent and useless discontents add to each others distress;—that nothing was so likely to create unhappiness as dissentions and disputes among themselves; and that the continuance of such silly squabbling would infallibly sour their minds, and deprive them of that tranquillity and decent steadiness which would secure them credit and comfort, and particularly dispose them for those different situations which awaited them among strangers, who would receive them with friendly and paternal care if they showed themselves well conducted and good, but who would naturally look upon them with abhorrence or distrust if their character appeared otherwise. These remarks had a tendency which did not disappoint expectation, and the desired effect could be easily perceived. On turning to go away, in a direction not usual, I was surprised and pleased to find an individual, who was looked upon as one of the least careful, sitting 187as retired as possible behind her companions and bathed in tears of repentance for her errors; I have since received from her a letter expressive of such being the state of her mind, and soliciting forgiveness for her faults. It is in this manner the effects of the system, incessantly pursued from the beginning, may be perceivable in consequences such as these.

7th.—With indignation and painful concern I must acknowledge a conviction possesses my mind, that the barriers of propriety which now so long protected the prisoners from the evil designs of the sailors are broken down, as, in spite of every precaution, and ever wakeful exertion, some of those men have succeeded in seducing four of the prisoners from their duty. The mischief having taken place, I owe it to truth and justice to state the facts as they have this day been detailed to me.

The sailors had contrived to effect a passage secretly from their own birth into the store-room beneath, through which, by opening a way in a manner completely eluding suspicion, they got forward into the ship’s hold, and ascended to the entrance of the prison at the fore-hatchway, where, by means of a duplicate key, (which to locks of this description was easily procured,) or by picking the locks, they met the females, who had previously consented to accompany them if they succeeded in getting them out. It may be recollected that the former attempt of this kind, which failed, was made at this very place; but all endeavours to get into the prison from the deck that way had been frustrated by the caution used in fastening it down every evening.

188The state of the locks at this door of the prison, and indeed at the other also,—for in this respect they are alike,—made this precaution of fastening down the hatchways necessary; for the padlocks, which alone had been put on by the Government carpenters,—one only to each door,—were soon rendered useless by the action of the weather: besides, they were fitted up in such a wretched, slovenly manner, that the force of a man’s finger applied to the staple could draw it from the wood. When the women first began to come on board, there was not any lock for the doors of the prison, and I was under the necessity of fitting on two which had been sent with the medicine chests. Captain Young with great kindness supplied two stock-locks of plain construction, although the matter did not belong to his department: besides these, there were other padlocks put on, furnished by Captain Brown, as those in use became spoiled with wet and rust, to which they were constantly exposed. By the former attempt at the fore hatchway, the locks there were rendered useless; and as others furnished by Captain Brown were set on in their stead, I considered every thing secure.

In that opinion, however, I have been unfortunately mistaken, deceived by the ingenuity and perseverance of the persons against whom I was endeavouring to guard. I cannot sufficiently express my sense of satisfaction at the spirited and prompt activity of Captain Brown on this, as well as on the former occasion. Every search which I suggested, as necessary to be made in the interior of the ship in reference to the information I had received, was instantly and personally 189made by him with prudence and vigilance; when with much difficulty he discovered the secret passage, and the confirmation of the transaction was made manifest. With readiness and earnestness, which marked the benevolence of his character and his kind disposition, he offered to accompany me when I signified my determination to remain in the prison every night till the termination of the voyage, to defend the prisoners from every further violence, even at the peril of my life;—and in this determination I am immoveably resolved.

Thus are we placed completely at the mercy of these vile men, who now, incited by their worst passions and this success, may further extend their daring to acts of mutiny, and gratify themselves by open violence, considering us, as they may, unable to oppose any effectual resistance to any such villainous design. Moreover, the whole of the sailors, with a doubtful exception of four, seem to be all of one mind; they having, as I understand, refused yesterday their Sunday’s allowance of grog ordered by the Captain.

It would be unjust to withhold the fact, that four of the women only were concerned in this affair, not one of the others being in any way whatever implicated. In order to come at the full evidence of this transaction, I was obliged to make promise of some concession to one of the females who went below from the prison on that occasion, and by that means discovered the whole, and was the better prepared to defeat further attempts. The most secure means were 190used to shut up the secret passage, and the door of the prison was made fast with a thorough iron bolt, and closed up for the remainder of the voyage. The carpenter of the ship, who had been concerned, was of necessity employed in securing these fastenings,—a duty which he performed with evident reluctance. The offending females are in confinement.

11th.—The weather yesterday being exceedingly rough, and the state of the ship highly inconvenient and uncomfortable to the prisoners, a violent gale blowing, I was constrained to merely read a religious discourse as usual, deferring my remarks on the occurrences of the passing time until another opportunity, as during the reading of the sermon the vessel shipped some heavy seas, much of which made its way into the prison.

The conduct of the sailors, since the late affair, having assumed a more cautious appearance, and information having been given that another attempt upon the prison was intended, I found it necessary, therefore, to redouble my vigilance, in order to unmask any design they might have formed. They had been heard to use the most violent language regarding myself, accompanied with threats, all which I despised; but seeing the safety of the prisoners about to be assailed, a sense of duty, and a determination to protect them at any hazard, made me form the resolution of keeping watch in the prison during the night, armed with a brace of pistols to repel intrusion. This appeared the more imperiously necessary, as no security could be placed in their commander’s authority 191over them, further than as concerned their immediate duty in the management of the ship: accordingly I took my station below.

I remained there with a light during the night, but no attempt was made to enter: the fellows, however, amused themselves the whole night with making hideous noises through the grating at the fore hatchway, and endeavouring to provoke my angry feelings by their rude abuse. It was shocking to decency to hear their beastly language, which was much too gross for expression even in writing. It was evident they felt sore with disappointment, which makes me more than ever determined on keeping watch.

Notwithstanding the rancour with which these headstrong men persecute the prisoners by alarming their minds as much as they can, the assurance of protection they receive from my presence tranquillizes their minds considerably. Many of them of delicate constitution, whose minds were under the strong influence of religious feeling, no longer hardened by sinful habits long and sincerely renounced, felt undoubtedly all the natural concern of returning virtue, and consequently dreaded the threatened visits of the sailors, who must in such case enter the prison with open violence, and might therefore seriously abuse them;—even, as they expressed it, murder every one, and throw me overboard. I must, in justice, acknowledge that this evil is in some measure partial, one division of the men showing less active disposition to annoy, than is observable in the other. To the steady, correct and unceasing endeavours of Mr. John Moncrief, chief officer, in repressing licentiousness and maintaining good 192order, in support of my views, it gives me sincere pleasure to bear testimony; and to his unwearied vigilance and gentlemanly conduct throughout the voyage, not a little of the beneficial results are owing.

12th.—The sailors last night continued the noise, with additional circumstances of malicious intent, which argue a determination to persevere:—for instance, forcing a cat down to the door of the fore hatchway, fastened by a cord, they contrived to torture the animal, causing it to make the most piteous cries so as to disturb the women’s rest. Their daring disposition went much further; for, by means of a boat-hook staff, they broke down two of the bars which inclose the prison at the fore hatchway, making a considerable opening, which might be taken advantage of at that moment, perhaps, but that they were apprized of my being on the watch below, determined to fire on any one who should have the temerity to venture in.

In this almost defenceless state are the prisoners still obliged to remain, because no other means of security can be devised besides what have been employed, and no resource appears at hand to oppose the outrage, if the sailors choose to be so criminally adventurous. Captain Brown, being much concerned for the existence of abuses which he has not power either to restrain or punish, shows every desire to aid my intentions, even proposing to watch with me in turn, to share the fatigue, and let me have repose occasionally; but his attention to the navigation and management of the ship is so constantly required, that I cannot with propriety avail myself of his obliging offer.

193This morning the Captain mustered the second mate’s watch upon deck, and in an animated manner reproved them very severely for their cowardly and shameful attacks on poor female prisoners, which they would not dare to do if the objects of their annoyance had the power of resistance. The behaviour of some of these men, on this occasion, was singularly insolent, audaciously denying the whole charge, the proofs of which it was not then thought fit or necessary to open to them. I candidly warned them of the danger they incurred if any of them were found attempting the injury of the prisoners, or breaking into the prison; so that if any of them met with misfortune in such circumstances, he would have himself alone to blame. Captain Brown advised them in the most impressive manner to desist for the future, and dismissed them. It remains to be seen how they mean to act after this caution; but my resolution is as fixed as ever to persevere in keeping watch and protecting the prisoners at any risk, according to my sense of duty.

13th.—Last night was spent as before; but the warning they had received operating on their fears kept them from repeating the annoyance, and the night passed without disturbance. This day, in consequence of fatigue, I felt unable to read in the usual manner to the prisoners, and the Reverend Mr. Reddall kindly officiated. I seized the moment after its conclusion, and addressed them, charging them with laxity of manners, as unfortunately witnessed in some of them on a recent occasion;—pointed out to them the unhappy state of mind which must attend a relapse from virtue, and the misery which those women 194must now feel for having forsaken their duty;—showed, that vice and virtue, as they must well know, are irreconcileable, and that the hearts of those unhappy frail ones must now make them painfully sensible how degraded and wretched their misconduct must have rendered them. A burst of sorrowful feeling announced their conviction of this truth, and one would gladly at least suppose, that with this impression on their minds, nothing could induce them to transgress again.

They appeared to reproach themselves for the sacrifice of rest and comfort they made me endure. Taking advantage of this state of mind, I entreated them to reflect seriously on their duty, keeping constantly in mind the absolute necessity there was, now more than ever, to avoid, under every pretence whatsoever, the company and conversation of the sailors. I assured them that any found unmindful of this line of conduct, should be instantly confined, and not allowed a moment from the prison until they were handed over to their sentence, which should visit them in all its heaviness, as no effort would be made to lighten the burden of their misfortunes,—and that they must go forth to their lot tainted with characters more black and odious than what their former crimes had brought upon them. I was afterwards under the necessity of using harsh measures with one of the late offenders, Mary Linch, who, disregarding the injunction imposed on her for beating one of her fellow-prisoners, had the temerity to break through her confinement and go upon deck.

15th.—The personal inconvenience to which I have 195subjected myself by keeping watch in the prison, and which I mean to continue in order to defeat every machination which the licentiousness of the sailors may attempt, however distressing in its effects upon myself it may prove, has been attended with much advantage; as, by breaking up any plans they may have formed, their insolence has been repressed, and their forwardness to mischief overawed. Besides, the conduct of the women, such I mean as may have had a leaning towards a dereliction of duty, and of those sentiments of returning virtue acquired on the voyage, were checked in their relapse, and brought by a sense of shame to a proper recollection and recovery of themselves; so that nothing at present exists to disturb a harmony as perfect seemingly as what I had recently congratulated myself upon, previously to the late occurrence. On account of the severe weather, a heavy gale blowing with constant rain, the women could not get their cooking done, and to show them a little indulgence I issued an additional ration of wine.

16th.—The restoration of order and proper conduct among the prisoners, the sailors also having discontinued their nocturnal annoyance, had led me to think my watching in the prison any longer was unnecessary; but accident has put in my way a paper which has considerably altered my mind on that point. This paper, which I found last night in the prison, appears to have been written to one of the prisoners by a sailor concerned in the late attempted breach into the prison: the hand-writing is evidently disguised, but the contents betray a determination to break down the bars of the prison as soon as they should perceive 196that I was become weary of watching. “There are plenty of us to do it,” says this curious document, and its intimations in general are so direct, that I think myself imperatively bound to persevere in the arduous duty I have proposed to myself.

The contents of this paper should have been inserted here at length, but that many expressions in it are too indecent for publicity: however, if any person have a wish to inspect it, I have preserved it for that purpose, as the best evidence of the fact, that violence may be threatened with impunity on such an occasion. It contains also a threat against myself, which of course I despise;—in this respect, however, they appear to have an eye towards my pistols, as the same important paper plainly shows.

17th.—At the usual hour this day I read a sermon to the prisoners, to which they were all exceedingly attentive. The remarks which it appeared necessary to make on passing occurrences, produced a strong impression on their minds, and many shed tears of painful remembrance over those crimes which brought them to their present wretched state, and found in their sorrow relief from their reflections.

The weather being excessively cold and inclement from the nature of the season, and the high latitudes through which the ship’s course lay, the cooks found it difficult to dress the victuals: I therefore signified my intention to allow them wine four times a week, should their conduct merit such indulgence.

Many of the prisoners had worked up the straw and the other materials for industrious employment;—some into decent bonnets for themselves,—others 197the like for sale, out of which they hoped to make as much as would help to equip them respectably on landing, and for that purpose solicited my interference to procure them purchasers.

20th.—The constant system of keeping watch at night in the prison, has completely disconcerted the designs of the sailors, who, having committed themselves in a wilful breach of propriety which they cannot now turn to the base purposes they had proposed, are evidently filled with disappointment and vexation, and they appear the more annoyed as there is no possible way for venting their dastardly malice. Besides, they are ashamed of their late behaviour in worrying the women during the night, from the contempt cast upon such unmanly tricks. At all events, they seem to have given up that part of their plan, as no disturbance now takes place during the night: yet I have sufficient cause to believe they will renew their attempts on the prison, should any opportunity offer.

This day a discourse on the mischiefs of idleness was delivered in the prison, and the remarks with which it was followed appeared to act forcibly upon their minds, if a judgement may be formed from the tears of contrition which some of the late delinquents copiously shed, when I desired them to ask themselves—whether it was not in a moment of idleness they had unfortunately given way to that temptation which led them into their late transgression against religion, virtue, and order. To the others I addressed some advice on the value of time, and the necessity of not letting a moment pass without doing something useful; and to avoid every thing which could tend to 198disunite them, or sour their minds against one another, as by cultivating good-will and friendly feeling among themselves, now, they would be the better fitted for those employments which they will have to resort to during the term of their sentence. The transition to the idea of their unfortunate circumstances drew reflection to their situation, and gave a favourable moment to impress upon them a thorough sense of those duties by which they must be regulated in that country in which they were now nearly on the point of being landed. The behaviour of the sequestered females is satisfactorily humble and correct.

21st.—The tranquillity of the prison continues undisturbed by the sailors at night, although circumstances occurring during the day betray their intention of further mischief, should an opportunity be open to encourage the attempt. The conduct of the penitent offenders continues to exhibit unequivocal marks of sincere return to virtuous reflection; and in proportion as the voyage draws near to its termination, the interest excited by their compunction increases.

Their companions from Newgate, who have remained unblemished, and progressively improving, use the most earnest intercession for the offenders, praying to have them united with them once more. In this instance, the recollection of the danger they had incurred made me unwilling to listen to this charitable advocacy; but they, with a kind perseverance which does them credit, applied to the Reverend Mr. Reddall, and this amiable man lent his assistance to their wishes, putting into writing the prisoners’ sentiments, which he this day presented to me in the form 199of a letter, in the name of all the females from Newgate, signed also by the penitents.

With this entreaty my compliance was easy, both in compliment to the intercessor, and from a wish to cultivate the disposition shown by the petitioners. I accompanied the reverend gentleman to the hospital, where, having called them together, I remarked with much earnestness on their general state, gave them my hearty forgiveness, and promised to befriend them in every possible way. It would be difficult to express the feelings of gratitude they displayed;—it was signified in sobs and tears;—it was eloquent in the interruption of their emotions. One, the most distinguished for habitual levity, was the most fervent in her expressions of mingled joy, shame, and sorrow; she fell on her knees, and repeatedly asked for that pardon which had already been pronounced. The scene was affecting to those present. I encouraged them to persevere in their present resolutions, and told them that they were now at perfect liberty to mix with their companions, but forbade them positively to go on deck, which I assured them was purely for their own welfare. They with one voice requested to be continued in their present sequestered situation, as best suiting their state of mind; to which request they had my ready consent. The following is a copy of their letter:

“Morley, at Sea, Aug. 21, 1820.
Honoured Sir,

“It is in the deepest sorrow of soul we presume to pray your regard to our wretched situation. We never till now knew what it was to be completely unfortunate, because we have drawn it all upon ourselves 200by listening to the false persuasions of the wicked sailors, who have led us astray from our duty to God and you. We scarcely dare ask your forgiveness, our crime has been so bad, and our ingratitude so great; and yet we cannot bear the distress we are in at the thought of having acted as we have done.

“If our repentance can at all wipe away our offence, we beg most earnestly that you will bear witness to its sincerity; and at least be assured that we will not any more give you cause to be offended with us. But if your goodness will pardon our weakness, and overlook this transgression, our whole lives shall be given to make amends for what we have unfortunately done. We do not desire to go upon deck any more, but we humbly hope you will not send us away in anger; and although we merit a poor character from you, we hope you will pity us, and be as lenient as you can.

“We venture to offer our most grateful thanks for the goodness and care you have always shown to,

“Honoured Sir,
“Your penitent and unhappy servants.”
(Signed by seven.)
“Thomas Reid, Esq.
Surgeon, &c. Ship Morley.”

22nd.—About two hours past the last midnight, the men of the same watch, whose indecent and unlawful doings have been so often already noticed, being on deck in turn, prepared to avail themselves of an advantage arising from an injury done to the bars of the prison, at the fore-hatchway, which had been crushed and displaced by the striking of a small cask, as it was hoisting from the hold. This damage, which occurred yesterday, could not then be effectually repaired, and 201this almost paper edifice had no protection except the wretched locks upon the hatchway. Of this I was aware, and remained on the alert in case of any attack.

At the hour above mentioned I heard the hatchway locks at the grating distinctly opened and shut, no doubt by means of duplicate keys, and afterwards a rustling noise was heard as if the fellows were descending. This noise suddenly ceased,—no attempt further was made, nor any more annoyance given during the rest of the night. During this affair the utmost tranquillity prevailed throughout the prison, not one of the women having stirred; nor does it appear that any of them were aware of the circumstance.

24th.—At the usual hour I read a sermon in the prison, and have much cause to bestow commendation on the propriety generally evinced by the women. In my remarks I adverted to their behaviour latterly, bestowing merited praise on those who continued to observe the rules of moral and religious instruction which they had heard so frequently and with such evident benefit, since the beginning of the voyage, and who had uniformly testified their love for good conduct by never swerving from their duty. To those who had unfortunately relapsed, but whose subsequent contrition had cancelled their offence, I held forth the language of commiseration and forgiveness, exhorting them never to confide again in themselves alone to guard against sin, but with fervent and frequent prayer to entreat the aid of divine grace, when their reformation could not fail to be perfect, and their peace of mind ensured.

The sailors in appearance show less hostility than 202heretofore, and no further annoyance is offered during the night; the women also seem in no instance whatever to hold communication with them, even in passing conversation.

27th.—Matters continue progressively interesting, as the period approaches when the final separation is to take place between those intended for the colony at Van Diemen’s Land, and those proceeding afterwards to Sydney. A thoughtfulness marks every turn and action, mingled with sadness in some, and resignation in others; whilst many openly regret the termination of the voyage, as putting an end to comforts of mind and condition which they had not before enjoyed, and had not to expect in the place to which they were going. Still, however rarely, a trace of wild temper breaks in spite of all sincerity of intention to the contrary. This unhappy tendency of early habit was shown this morning by one of the younger prisoners, (Ann Farrell,) who for some very trifling cause quarrelled with and beat one of her companions. In the fervour of the confusion my presence put an end to animosity, which was instantly succeeded by tears of sorrow.

A sermon on the immortality of the soul was this day read in the prison by the Reverend Mr. Reddall. After its conclusion, I drew their attention forcibly to the subject, by reminding them of a similar discourse having been addressed to many of them in Newgate by Mrs. Fry. This allusion to their beloved benefactress called forth a flood of tears, with the strongest expression of feelings I ever witnessed among them, the whole exhibiting a scene highly complimentary to the revered object of their affectionate remembrance, 203and creditable to the poor women themselves: the effusion was spontaneous, full, and general; for most of them had known the lady’s goodness and humane exertions from their own experience, and the others mingled sympathetic tears with theirs. One moment such as this, even in the minds of those proud ones whose disdain for their former offences would spurn the unhappy wretches, would restore them surely to pity and protection. The haughtiest contemner of the sinner must, in this genuine display of gratitude and sorrow blended together, have instantly forgotten the errors of the past, and have felt confidence in the renovated purity bespeaking such humble declarations of contrition and fervent affection towards that bright and happy benevolence, which with sweet persuasion first led them back from the ways of sin and death, and taught them to cherish a hope of happy immortality.

28th.—In a former part of this volume I stated my firm belief, that even convicts are susceptible of gratitude; and in this opinion am I further confirmed by the feelings of the unfortunate creatures committed to my care, as expressed in the following letter addressed to me, and presented by the Reverend Mr. Reddall. The zealous and unwearied benevolence of this gentleman induced him often to visit them in the prison, for the humane purpose of giving useful counsel to those who might be disposed to receive it: on one of those occasions they solicited him to write this letter, expressive of their sense of obligation; they afterwards put their names to it, to be delivered to me before any of them left the ship.

204“Morley, at Sea, Aug. 28, 1820.
Honoured Sir,

“As the voyage, through Divine Providence, is now near its close, and feeling as we do, indeed as we ought, the full force of your good-will towards us, it would ill accord with the impressions on our minds, fixed there by your faithful performance of every good office for the promotion of our comfort and our good, did we not assure you of our gratitude, and offer you our thanks.

“These latter, it is true, are but of little worth; but they are the offerings of sincerity, and we know you will not despise them: the former will, we trust, be kept fresh within us to the latest days of our pilgrimage below, by thinking on your many virtues, and by the recollection of your truly benevolent and unceasing attention to our various wants and best interests during the passage. If, Sir, we consider the numerous cases which required your professional skill and attendance among us, we are reminded of your promptitude and attention, whether required by day or by night.—If we reflect on your zeal for our moral and religious improvement, we feel how much we owe, and how little we can ever repay you.—If we place you before us as our protector, your unshaken firmness in the face of danger,—your rectitude of conduct, which the virtuous alone possess,—and the great deprivations of rest and comfort we are grieved to say you are enduring on our account, entitle you to every good feeling, in return, of which our hearts are capable.

“Honoured as we have thus been by you, and favoured by your sympathizing distribution of those comforts tenderly and humanely provided for us by 205the Government of our beloved country, the grief of mind our unhappy cases must naturally have excited within us has been greatly assuaged; and we trust that, through the grace of God, your good advice and able instruction in moral virtues and religious truths will not be lost upon us, but that we shall benefit by your counsel, when you will be in happier climes: and, Sir, if through your instrumentality we shall again become worthy members of society, wherever we may be placed, we shall have continual cause to bless you, and to offer up our prayers for that Government which has placed us under your valuable protection.

“Receive then, most respected Sir, our united best wishes for your every good, temporal and eternal; and permit us to be, with a grateful sense of our obligation,

“Your faithful and dutiful servants.”
(Signed by one hundred and twenty-one.)
“To Thomas Reid, Esq. Surgeon, &c.
From the female Convicts
on board the ship Morley.”

29th.—In the afternoon of yesterday Van Diemen’s Land came in sight; but the Captain deeming it safest kept the ship laid to, and this morning again making sail, we arrived with a favourable wind in the Derwent, and anchored before Hobart-Town about half-past three in the afternoon, when the Naval Officer came on board. Soon after I waited on His Honour the Lieutenant Governor with dispatches from the Secretary of State for the Colonial Department, and was informed that a considerable number of the convicts would be received at this destination. The conduct 206of the women since the last date has been highly meritorious, with the exception of a trifling irregularity charged upon an elderly prisoner, which not having been sufficiently substantiated deserved no further notice.

30th.—Captain Brown having had occasion to go on shore this morning on the ship’s concerns, and it being necessary for me to wait upon the Lieutenant Governor, it appeared best to delay until the Captain’s return. In the afternoon I went ashore to see the Lieutenant Governor, who signified his intention of coming on board the Morley to-morrow. There having been a very heavy fall of snow, which continued the greater part of the day with sleet and squalls, the women were obliged to remain below. Nothing in their conduct has occurred to lessen my good opinion of them. They appear all in excellent disposition, and quite resigned to their situation. The anxiety of many of them is extreme to ascertain who are to be left at Hobart-Town; but though I am aware, from conversation with the Lieutenant Governor, that fifty at least will be required for this colony, still it seems more prudent to withhold that information, as they might otherwise feel themselves released from accustomed restraint, and, if so disposed, might be tempted to give loose to some irregularities.

However favourable the present state of circumstances be, I shall continue my nightly watching, until the termination of the affair is more satisfactorily decided by the removal of such women as are used to attract the attention of the sailors. The state of the prison is singularly tranquil, and the conduct of the sailors is remarkably quiet and reserved.

20731st.—Having watched over the conduct of the prisoners throughout the day, I was detained by various concerns in the prison until half-past eight last evening, when I retired to my cabin to prepare the necessary papers for the women who were to go on shore. This did not occupy me more than one hour and a quarter; and on returning to keep watch for the night, I found that the sailors had, in my absence, taken four females out of the prison. Having made immediate search, assisted by Captain Brown and the chief mate, I discovered three of them in the hammocks of three of the sailors; the fourth, who was elsewhere concealed with a sailor, came from her hiding-place;—the four were of course put immediately in proper restraint.

At an early hour this morning I waited on the Lieutenant Governor, and laid the whole affair before him, when he entered warmly into the merits of the case, and promised his full support. This circumstance hastened His Honour’s determination to come on board, as he had previously intended. About 11 A. M. the Lieutenant Governor came and inspected the condition of the prisoners, expressing in strong terms his approbation of their appearance, and also the satisfaction he felt, and the conviction he entertained of their moral improvement. Agreeably to promise, I interested myself in their behalf, and obtained a comfortable settlement for many of the most deserving, and enabled the others destined for this dependency to indulge in the most pleasing expectations as to the same effect.

The Lieutenant Governor having returned, a constable 208came on board by order of His Honour, and took into custody the four sailors with whom the women had been found, also a fifth who was principally concerned in taking them out of the prison: he was about taking them away, when the remaining crew, in the most violent and mutinous manner, broke off their work; three of them forced the constable to take them also as prisoners along with the other five; to which the constable felt himself compelled to submit. The rest refused to return to their duty, and to a man went below. The Police Magistrate, Mr. Humphrey, who was not in town when I waited on the Lieutenant Governor in the morning, now came off to the ship, followed by a serjeant with a file of soldiers. On his coming aboard, the sailors were commanded by Captain Brown, by the advice of the Magistrate, to go to their duty; but they obstinately refused. The Magistrate in the most mild and liberal manner advised them to reflect on their imprudence, and pointed out to them the serious consequences they incurred by such behaviour. Still they persisted, directing their whole violence of abuse against me for having, as they said, threatened to shoot any of them who should come in my way,—with other strange and unfounded clamours of the same kind. To the remonstrances of the Magistrate they appeared to pay but little attention, although the soldiers were drawn up under arms beside them. Upon their alluding to me, I openly challenged them then or at any other time to advance any charge they might have against me, as I was perfectly amenable to the laws, if my conduct were not correct; but, at the same time, I renewed my warning to them in the most 209solemn manner, not to be found trespassing on the precincts of my duty, else, if they did not keep in recollection this salutary caution, they would with positive certainty have to repent of their folly. After much silly and vulgar rodomontade, they suddenly changed their tone, and one by one, in the most ungracious manner, laid aside their stubbornness and returned to their work.

In the mean time the three sailors who had forced themselves on the constable, and were conducted to prison, having been humanely reprimanded by the Lieutenant Governor and sent back, came again on board and went to work like the rest: the soldiers, however, were ordered to remain on guard upon deck during the night. The sullen manner in which the sailors returned to their duty convinced me that they harboured evil designs, and from information received, I had been previously assured that they had formed an intention of offering to me serious personal injury; I have therefore determined to keep watch in the prison as before, and in the most effective manner to repel their aggressions.

Nothing can be more plainly demonstrative of the deplorable state of insubordination existing among sailors in the merchant service, than the occurrences of this day have proved; for, over such selfish and ungrateful beings the master can exercise no authority whatever of a coercive nature, whilst they, acting on an arbitrary code of regulations formed among themselves, can insult him with impunity, the law allowing him no redress. In this state of things the voyage must depend for its comforts, security, and in some measure for its success, on their capricious combinations.

210September 1st.—Last night passed away without further disturbance on the part of the sailors, and the guard was this morning recalled. Having to wait on the Lieutenant Governor, by appointment, in the forenoon, I was obliged to anticipate my usual hour, and shortly after 9 A. M. assembled the women in the prison, accompanied by the Reverend Mr. Reddall and Captain Brown, to read to them the following farewell address prepared for the occasion.

On many former occasions of this kind their behaviour demanded from me the strongest approbation; but I must confess that on the present the feeling evolved in the course of this duty was such as would be creditable to any Christian assembly whatever. Their expressions of grief and contrition for the errors which had placed them in their present unhappy situation were poignant in the extreme, and would indeed be difficult of description. The keen sense of virtue acquired by fruitful repentance made them look down upon themselves as deeply degraded by vice, and cast an additional gloom and disgrace over their punishment. That hour I found indeed full reward for all the pains I had taken in their improvement, because it showed me that, however frail and erring some of them might still prove, the far greater number were sensibly, and I would hope permanently, reformed.


Having now arrived at that destination to which many of us have for some time looked forward with anxious solicitude and uncertainty, I wish to 211avail myself of the present opportunity to offer a few reflections which have at different times occurred to me, respecting your future conduct and welfare in life. In putting together my thoughts upon this subject, it has been my aim to frame an advice for the moral guidance of you all, but more particularly of those whose tender years and inexperience may unfit them for performing a part on the great theatre of life, to which they will very soon be introduced. To use this world so as not to abuse it, is decidedly the most important lesson that either religion or philosophy inculcates; but it must not be denied, at the same time, that it is one of considerable difficulty.

It is not my intention to entertain you with a dissertation on speculative philosophy, or a discussion of theological arguments; I shall simply, for the sake of perspicuity, endeavour to observe a certain order in the arrangement of my subject; but my sole object is to solace your minds by explaining, as well as I can, the pleasing advantages which every one of you may receive from the doctrines of the Christian religion.

First, then, let me request your attention to the behaviour of one of your own sex, in whose situation, as a sinner, many of you, perhaps, will perceive a strong resemblance to your own. The transaction is recorded in the Gospel according to St. Luke, 7th chapter 37th and following verses, in these words: “And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, and stood at his feet behind him weeping, and 212began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe them with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed them with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw it, he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman this is that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that he to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore, I say unto thee, her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

This interesting little narrative presents to us one 213of the most affecting pictures to be met with any where in Scripture. The life of this woman had been stained by the commission of crimes of the deepest dye in the sight of Heaven. Her heart was now filled with bitter anguish, and the keenest remorse, which left no room for hope in her bosom. She had long endured the wretchedness of a sinful life; the scorn of the world had often lacerated the finest feelings of her heart; her sense of shame was intense, and with the most profound humility she fell at the feet of her Redeemer, but dared not to supplicate or indulge a hope of mercy: she never ceased to wash the feet of Jesus with her tears, and to dry them with the hairs of her head; thus showing her repentance to be sincere: and she found mercy. Jesus did not reject her; but, with the tenderness of an affectionate father, pronounced those encouraging words, “Daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee.” Can any of you imagine the inexpressible joy, the heavenly rapture, that thrilled upon the heart and illuminated the hitherto darkened soul of this deluded sinner, when the eternal Son of God signified her pardon? It is quite certain, that, however greatly we may magnify the idea of her happiness, we shall fall short, infinitely short, of the delightful reality; for we are assured by divine authority[21], that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.”

214We have every reason to believe that the shame, confusion, and sorrow, with which this unhappy woman was overpowered, were entirely removed at the very instant of pronouncing her forgiveness: for these soul-harrowing feelings belong to guilt; they are the price which must be paid for sinful pleasures; they are, in short, the only certain fruit that sin produces. These very feelings were intended by our Maker to stop us in the career of vice; from which having fairly turned, they disappear, and give way to that real, inward satisfaction which is the happy effect of sincere virtue.

I think we shall do well to pause here a moment, and inquire whether there were any other means by which this woman could have been released from the bondage of sin, and enabled to break the galling fetters in which she had long been bound in the slavery of Satan? To this it may be confidently answered, Undoubtedly not. There is no possibility of our heavenly Father being reconciled to us while we continue in the practice of sin. It does not even follow as a natural or necessary consequence, that our own mere repentance gives us any claim to demand forgiveness; it is alone to the wonderful goodness of God we are indebted for that mercy, who has been graciously pleased to promise pardon to the true penitent, on account of the atonement which Christ made for the sins of us all by his own sufferings.

Although in my former addresses, the subject of repentance was treated more at length, and made, I hope, clear to the understanding of you all, yet I am 215not aware that it is in my power to render you a more important service, than again to take here a cursory view of its most important advantages.

I enter on the consideration of this subject with the greater pleasure, because I am satisfied that my former arguments were not thrown away, and that with many of you the great work of repentance is already begun. If the conviction exist in your minds, that sin is odious, and destructive to the soul, no matter how alluring soever and deceitful its appearance may be, what can prevent you from extending your abhorrence of it a step further, which will bring you to conversion? To render penitence complete and effectual unto salvation, we must first discover the nature and enormity of our offences, in a perfect and lowly consciousness of our own sinfulness. A confused belief that we are not what our Maker intended we should be, will never produce that change in our hearts which is necessary to real repentance: we must have a particular and distinct knowledge of all our vices, and a thorough conviction of our iniquities. It is not enough that, with frigid soul and unmoved heart, we acknowledge in general terms that we are excessively wicked and corrupt,—that there is no good in us, and then to indulge in transient sorrow for a moment. This mode of action does not certainly deserve the name of repentance, and in the end, I greatly fear it will prove worse than useless; for it never fails to harden the heart, and to conceal from the sinner the true state of his soul.—In the Christian religion there is no composition, no arrangement, no trifling, no fluctuation, no dalliance with duties, no deference to darling 216vices: if the eye offend us, we must pluck it out; if the hand is sinful, we must cut it off. Better to merit Heaven by every suffering, than eternal punishment by every gratification.

It is no very uncommon thing to see persons deeply affected with sorrow and contrition for past misconduct, and sincerely resolve to lead a new life for the future, and yet their resolution fall to nothing in a very short time. This, I am apt to believe, will always happen whenever the love of the world predominates over the more sublime desire of inheriting eternal life. To make repentance sincere and efficacious, we must have constant recourse to self-examination, and a candid, impartial inquiry into the state of our own hearts. For this purpose, you must seek frequent opportunities of retiring from the bustle of the world, and accustom yourselves to meditate in secret. Should your poverty or occupation prevent you from setting apart a particular hour in the day or the week, you can subtract a few minutes from the ordinary time allowed for sleep, “to commune with your own heart, upon your bed[22].”

Reflect seriously, that another day or week of your life is gone; then examine how much you have gained by that time. “Have you conquered any bad passion to which you were addicted? Are you more pure and holy in your own eyes? Look back on your past life; trace it from youth, and put to yourselves the question, What have been its happiest moments? Were they those of quiet and innocence, or 217those of riot and intrigue? Has success in almost any instance realized your expectation? Where you reckoned upon happiness in the highest degree, have you not many times been disappointed and found least? Wherever sin or guilty pleasure formed a part of your projected schemes, did they not leave some unhappy impression on your minds that remained when the gratification was forgotten? Are you more the children of grace, than you were before you shed a tear for your transgressions? In a word, do you think you have made any progress in the journey of salvation?” These are questions of too much importance to the eternal welfare of every one of you to be regarded with indifference, or carelessly overlooked, because answers to them may excite confusion, or cover your cheeks with the blushes of guilty shame.

There is no dungeon cell so miserable, or no retreat so unsheltered, as not to afford some corner where prayer and devotion, the exercise of every duty of religion, may be practised. The sincere penitent will often be found to select the most humble and retired apartment as the hallowed spot for devoutly worshiping his Maker; and his earnest supplications for mercy and forgiveness, will be as acceptable as if they had issued from the most magnificent palace. Even in the darkest solitude of prison-gloom the inspiration of religion can be felt, and its operation on the heart acknowledged by the silent tear of contrition, and the melting of the soul in grateful adoration of its beneficent Creator.

That the assistance of the divine spirit is necessary 218to complete the work of repentance, and support our virtue, must not be forgotten. Without God we are utterly incapable of performing any good act. But this ought by no means to discourage us from undertaking and persevering in the glorious struggle; for we are assured that we shall not be left alone, but have the divine spirit always near and ready to assist us. If our own effort to repent and reform be sincere, we have no reason whatever to doubt that God will graciously aid our endeavours. “True repentance produces an entire change of heart and life; of views, desires and actions; a complete renunciation of all vicious pursuits and gratifications, with a firm resolution to keep the commandments of the living God; any degree of it that falls short of this, is not that repentance to which God has annexed the promise of pardon.”

Were my limits less contracted, I should endeavour to give some little description of the condition of the hardened sinner, and contrast his gloomy expectations and distracting fears of eternal punishment with the glorious hope of salvation, that heavenly sunshine which continually illumines and cheers the soul of the blessed penitent. Even as it is, a brief sketch of some of the most prominent features by which these two characters are distinguished may be allowed.

Here, then, I would beg leave to ask whether any of you really believe that the life of a wicked person can, under any circumstances, be truly happy? To this very important question past experience enables you all to return a direct answer: let me solemnly advise you, my friends, to put it seriously to your own hearts. Methinks, in the painful conflict that agitates and confuses 219your minds, I hear the still small voice of conscience answering for you, and whispering No. Do not, I beseech you, attempt to stifle these virtuous struggles of conscience to rouse the spirit within you from the fatal slumber of sin; but regard them as the warning voice of your merciful Creator and Redeemer.

But to return from this little digression: Let us suppose a bad man possessed of great affluence, and enjoying good health; let him mix with the giddy multitude, and drink as deeply as he pleases from the poisoned streams of sinful gratification, yet could we hear the true language of his heart, we should know from his own confession that he was far from being happy; that in the words of the wise king of Israel, “even in laughter the heart is sorrowful, and the end of that mirth is heaviness[23].” His mind is perpetually haunted with misgivings and slavish terrors, because guilt is always attended with suspicious alarm. He is afraid of his companions in crime, lest they betray him; and of those on whom he commits depredations lest they detect and punish him on the spot; and, what is still more cruel, he is afraid of himself. His conscience, when he does reflect, makes him tremble at the thought of divine vengeance directed against him for his sins, like the guilty king Belshazzar, who saw his dreadful doom traced by a hand upon the wall whilst he was impiously rioting in the midst of worldly pleasures[24].

Such reflections as these, are the certain attendants on a life of sin whenever the mind is roused into action; 220and there is no opiate that can keep the guilty imagination always asleep. There must be periods in the life of every wicked person, when he or she will be made dreadfully sensible of their degraded state; when they will be forced to drink to the dregs the nauseous cup of woe, in which a double portion of bitterness has been infused by the poisoning influence of sin. It is of such persons the sacred writer speaks, when he says, “The wicked are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. There is no peace, saith my God, for the wicked[25].” To be alone compelled to brood over this black picture of human misery, would surely be dreadful punishment in this life; and, O my friends! can any of us fancy what it will be in that which is to come?

How infinitely more gratifying is the contemplation of the character and disposition of a truly good man, whose mind has been fortified by religion against every vicissitude of this uncertain life! His peace is not at the mercy of the varying circumstances of a world perpetually changing. He is well acquainted with the nature of true happiness. Afflictions do not overtake him unprepared; he knew that his Maker assigned him a particular duty during his pilgrimage on earth, and he is determined to perform it, whether it be pleasant or disagreeable, for he is certain that his labour will not be of long duration. He is taught by divine wisdom to form a true estimate of this world’s gifts, and he enjoys them with moderation and thankfulness: neither elated by success nor enervated by sensual indulgence, 221he meets adversity with the firmness of a Christian, and the confidence of a son of God.

From the above imperfect outlines, which are rudely and hastily traced, some idea may be gathered of the comparative condition of the hardened sinner, and the sorrowing penitent; and it is for yourselves to say which of them you prefer;—whether you will choose to exist for ever under the avenging displeasure of your omnipotent Father, surrounded by devils and infernal spirits, writhing under the most agonizing torture which you are assured will never end; or inherit a glorious crown of eternal salvation, and live for everlasting in the refulgent beams of heavenly favour, in company with the saints and angels, and the souls of the righteous purified and made perfect.

Is it possible that any of you can hesitate which of these conditions you would wish to be your own, at the awful hour of death, and the still more awful day of judgement? The question does not admit of a moment’s doubt. Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire? Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings? Let me once more advise you, my dear friends, to persevere in the godly work you have so happily begun, that you may at the last day hear the Saviour of the world pronounce those ecstatic words, Daughter, thy sins are forgiven thee.

The next subject to which I am desirous of directing your attention, is the manner in which you ought to conduct yourselves towards your superiors; and the way in which your leisure hours can be most usefully employed: on both these points my observations must necessarily be brief. Moral government was ordained 222by God to maintain good order, and promote happiness among his creatures upon earth; and the end of society is mutual convenience and safety. The existence of society can only be preserved by judicious arrangement of its members, by assigning to each some necessary employment for the performance of which he may be better qualified than his neighbour, while he, on the other hand, engages in some useful service which the former did not understand, or was unable to perform. In this manner the business of life is executed, by one working and another instructing and directing.

Mankind has ever been disposed to pay respect to superior knowledge or wisdom; hence arose the distinction of rank, which it is our duty still to respect, for without it society would soon degenerate, and present nothing but confusion, or superiority secured by ferocious wickedness. Respect to our superiors implies obedience to the lawful commands of those who are placed over us. This duty is enjoined by the express direction of our Saviour himself. In the first epistle of Peter, chap. ii. verse 17, he says, “Fear God, honour the King;” and in the next verse, “Servants, be subject to your masters, with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” Seeing then that it is our duty to submit to the divine will, let us do it without murmuring, and resolve cheerfully and faithfully to perform our allotted part. To oppose the decrees of God we know is useless; and although providence may have given us an humble station in this world, let it be our consolation that in the next all earthly distinctions will be destroyed.

223With respect to the employment of your time, very little need be said; indeed all I wish to urge might be comprised in the single gospel advice, “Be not weary in well doing[26]:” and to this you have all shown a disposition during the voyage that does you infinite credit, and affords me inexpressible pleasure. The materials you had to work on were scanty; yet you managed to be seldom idle. Idleness is the bane of every social virtue; it corrodes the soul, poisons every innocent joy, and is the polluted fountain whence the foulest crimes are continually springing. Were we all to scrutinize our past conduct, there is not one of us but would be compelled to acknowledge that the hours of idleness were those in which we first meditated a departure from the peaceful paths of virtue. Whatever has occurred once, is liable to happen again: therefore our only security against temptation in future, will be honest employment. It was commanded by the Apostle Paul, that, “if any would not work, neither should he be allowed to eat[27].” If we do not contribute our part to promote the good of society, we cannot reasonably expect to be allowed a share of its privileges and advantages. Any occupation that is not absolutely vicious is preferable to idleness. I shall close my remarks on this head with the testimony of Solomon, who says, “In all labour there is profit, but the soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing[28].”

I think a few moments may here be profitably spent 224in considering the sabbath, and meditating on the important duties we are called on to perform on that hallowed day of rest. To every one whom Providence in its infinite wisdom has placed in situations that require labour, it must be gratifying to reflect, that one day in seven is, in all Christian countries, fixed for them to rest from their daily employment, and in some degree to be on a level with those of more elevated rank and fortune, by furnishing to both an opportunity to supplicate the throne of mercy for pardon of their transgressions, and of uniting their voices in pious adoration of the divine Author of Nature.

Public worship holds out so many inducements and advantages, particularly to the lower classes of society, that it has always been matter of great surprise to me that they should ever be absent when they have it in their power to attend. In the tabernacle of the Lord, the high and the low, the prince and the pauper, the captive and the free, meet to perform the same labour, to discharge the same duty, and with the hope of receiving the same reward. God is no respecter of persons. That the public worship of the Almighty is an indispensable duty, no one dares deny who has not the hardihood to deny the Scriptures, and all divine authority. In 10th chapter 25th verse of the Hebrews we are expressly commanded “not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together:” and in Deuteronomy, 31st chapter 12th verse, is said, “Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and the stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law.”

225Some careless and unhappy persons, who, at the risk of eternal misery, trifle away their lives and spend the Lord’s day in frivolous, indecent, or sinful amusements, endeavour to patch up some lame excuse, such as, If they were to go to church they could learn nothing, for they already know all that would be said; and with respect to their amusements, If they were not engaged in that way, they should be doing something much worse. The conscience must be very dull and wretched indeed, that can be satisfied with such flimsy apologies. God will not pardon crimes merely because we might have committed still greater ones. Suppose a man were accused of robbery, and the crime clearly proved, would a judge and jury be satisfied of his innocence, and acquit him, because he did not also commit murder? Such arguments are too absurd to require serious refutation.

God himself has commanded a particular regard to the sabbath, and enjoined strict attention to public worship, and it is highly criminal in us to question his authority, or disobey his mandates. We may, however, be very regular attendants at divine worship, and yet be very bad Christians. It is not hearing a sermon, or muttering a few words as prayers, that will obtain for us the blessing of God. It is only the prayer of the heart truly pious, and the effusion of devout contrition, that can reach the throne of grace.

The object of religious institutions is to have our souls awakened and impressed with a just sense of our own unworthiness; to subdue the influence of bad passions; to have our minds stimulated to acts of charity, and our virtue strengthened against the temptations 226of the world and the flesh. I am firmly persuaded that none of you will ever be so impious as to make light or turn into ridicule the ordinances of religion and the attributes of your Creator; you may however meet with hardened wretches who will endeavour to destroy the last refuge of the miserable, their hope of salvation, by scoffs and jeers; let me counsel you against hearkening to such enemies. What can they offer that will compensate for the eternal destruction of your souls? Show the profligate scoffers that you defy their sneers,—that you are not such fools as to be cheated out of happiness by coarse jokes, or profane ribaldry. Prove to the world, that although you were deceived into error, in an unguarded hour, still the seeds of virtue are alive in your hearts, and that your greatest, your first, your last desire is to be reconciled to your heavenly Father.

All these salutary ends would be greatly promoted by acts of private devotion at regular and stated periods. I would therefore advise you never to retire to sleep without humbling yourselves before your Maker in prayer and thanksgiving for having preserved you through the day, and the first thing every morning to implore his blessing and protection. I am indeed more anxious to promote your welfare than I can possibly express, and the only return I expect for the care I have taken of you during the voyage is, that you will all continue attentive to religious duty; in which case you must all be happy.

I regret that time will only allow me to make a few superficial admonitory remarks on the propensity for drinking intoxicating liquors. The effects of this evil 227are so pernicious to society, so destructive of human happiness, and so entirely subversive of moral order and social virtue, that I deem it of the first importance to warn you explicitly against its poisonous and seducing influence. Were human beings desirous of degrading themselves below the level of the most grovelling animal that crawls on the earth, it would be impossible for them to adopt a plan so ready as that of drowning their faculties in stupifying spirits.

Drunkenness may very justly be termed the prolific parent of every vice and crime that can corrupt the soul, or disgrace the dignity of man; for in fits of inebriety what horrid deeds and hellish debaucheries have not been committed?—robbery, murder, incest, treason, and others still more shocking, by persons who in cooler moments, in a sober state, would have shuddered at the bare mention of such wicked and abandoned turpitude! It is not necessary that the bacchanalian votary should carry his extravagance the length of brutal, deadly drunkenness, to produce all the mischiefs I wish you to avoid. Long ere it gains this disgusting pitch, the worst passions of our nature will become inflamed to madness,—a state more dangerous to virtue than even confirmed sottishness. In proof of this, it need only be observed that the one is an incentive to every species of criminality by which the peace of society is disturbed, while the evils of the other are confined principally to the debased individual who gives himself up to such disgraceful practices. Who is there among you that has not experienced, either in her own person or some of her acquaintances, the ruinous effects of indulgence in this 228odious vice? Can one half of you lay your hands upon your hearts, and say, that indulging in this very propensity was not the cause of all the errors and misfortunes for which you have been dragged from the bosoms of your parents, husbands, and families, and for which you are now forced to seek refuge among strangers, far from the land that gave you birth?

Drunkenness in a man is so disgraceful that it can neither be defended nor excused; but in a woman it is always associated with abandonment and detestation. If I may be allowed to express my own feelings, I declare to you truly and candidly, that I would as soon see an infernal imp as a woman deprived of her reason by means of this deluding poison. It is hardly necessary to adduce proofs that this vice is forbidden by the command of God. In Ephesians, 5th chapter, 18th verse, St. Paul says, “Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;” and in 1st Corinthians, 6th chapter, 9th and 10th verses, “Be not deceived: neither fornicators nor drunkards shall inherit the kingdom of God.”

Those persons who abandon themselves to strong drink suffer, from spasms of the stomach, a degree of torture that cannot be borne, and to relieve which they must have recourse to a larger quantity, and this must be repeated and increased at stated periods, until the frail machine sinks under the constant stimulus, the infatuated victim having in fact committed self-murder. Of the innumerable mischievous effects and deadly consequences which every moment arise from drunkenness, I shall only mention two, namely, swearing and prostitution. On each of these sins I 229intend to offer a few brief observations, without any further reference to the iniquitous source in which they originate.

Persons who indulge in the vulgar habit of cursing and swearing, cannot, it is true, be accused of interested or selfish motives; they volunteer to drudge hard in the service of the devil, without fee or reward; without the least prospect of a moment’s satisfaction in this life or pleasure in the next. Could the common-place excuses of pleasure, profit, or any other temptation, be urged, there might be some shadow to obscure the reason for an instant: but here a sin is wantonly committed, which will powerfully assist to seal the condemnation of the wretch before his Maker, and can only render him despicable in the eyes of all who witness his impiety.

In the discourses which I have hitherto prepared for your use and instruction, I have been anxious that none of the opinions I advanced should rest on my own authority alone, which will account for the Scripture quotations with which they are every where interspersed. In obedience to this rule, I need only refer you to the 3rd article of the Decalogue, to prove the enormity of profaning God’s holy name: “Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.” This sacred prohibition of the third commandment was recognised by our Saviour in the sermon he delivered on the mount, wherein he says, “I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the 230city of the great king. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black[29].” Is it not shocking to see creatures formed after the image of God, and endowed with reasoning faculties, venting their insignificant rage in curses upon those around them, as well as on themselves;—often consigning their organs to the devil, and hideously imploring damnation upon their own souls?

Suppose God were pleased always to punish execration by granting the prayer of the wicked, how many wretches should we see with limbs and other members rotting off; with eyes melting out of their heads, and every other part essential to life, withering and consuming at their own unhallowed request! Could any be astonished if the earth were to open, and swallow up those depraved beings, who dare thus to provoke the vengeance of Heaven, and wantonly defy the majesty of God, as it did formerly upon Kora, Dathan, and Abiram, with all their followers? I recommend every one of you to read this interesting account; you will find it, I think, in the 16th chapter of the book of Numbers.

The next and last subject for our consideration is prostitution, which is more intimately connected with the text than any of those which I have attempted to discuss in the foregoing observations. Your behaviour on board has been so excellent, and in this particular so very exemplary, with scarcely even the shadow of suspicion, that it may seem cruel and unjust to touch 231upon it again. I confess to you candidly it has this appearance to myself; and were it not for the temptations to which I know many of you will be exposed, and the infamous arts which brutal sensual men will employ to seduce you from the pure paths of virtue and honour, into the devious ways of sin and death, I should not now awaken in your minds those agonizing feelings, which I hope and believe have long been tranquillized by the soothing influence of sincere repentance.

Believe me, my friends, I would most willingly spare any remark that can tend to excite a painful thought in any of your minds, could I in any other way strengthen your virtuous intentions, and the resolutions you have formed to resist every approach of vice, how alluring soever the appearance may be in which it can present itself. I am much more disposed to reprobate the atrocious artifices which designing men wickedly employ to ensnare innocent young girls into their hellish grasp, than to condemn the unsuspecting confidence which is too often reposed in their most serious promises and solemn oaths, and which has proved the ruin of many a well inclined and really virtuous woman. In the ill-advised steps which led to your present situation, and now cover you with shame and sorrow, have not many of you to accuse some foul seducer, some partner in your guilt, some false friend who deceived you with promises of pleasure and wealth, perverting your understanding, and blinding your judgement with idle dreams of ambition and happiness? And did not this deceitful monster, after he attained his own vile purpose, and plunged 232you into an abyss of misery, desert you? Nay, worse; have not the very men to whom you sacrificed your honour, been often the first to turn your enemies and open accusers? I am well assured that they have done so, and your present confusion corroborates the unhappy statement.

Such are the enemies by whom you may expect again to be assailed, to be again betrayed. If you value honour and happiness in this life, if you love virtue, if ever you expect to meet a just God in judgement, I conjure you, by every thing sacred, listen not to their artful tales,—be not entangled in their destructive net, for hell is open to receive every wretch whom they make captive.

I believe there are very few of you who have not pondered over your crimes; and your reflections, I doubt not, have given life to feelings of the deepest sorrow;—your tears have flowed,—tears of unfeigned penitence will ever be precious in the sight of your Maker;—I hope they will obtain for you mercy, forgiveness, and grace.

Are any of you acquainted with the indescribable sorrows to which unfortunate females are exposed? Yes; some, I fear many of you are; and can any of you think of following a life so accursed, without shuddering? It is impossible for those who happily are unacquainted with this worst and lowest species of infamy, to form any adequate idea of the misery of prostitutes—driven forth by an abominable procuress into the streets, where they are obliged to endure the pelting of the storm, and, while they shiver under the inclemency of a frosty atmosphere, are compelled 233to affect a smile of happiness which their hearts cannot feel, and to solicit the unhallowed embrace of a beast whom their souls abhor. The dismal receptacles to which they retire, after the weary and worse than slavish hardships of their nocturnal excursions are ended, are not less forbidding. They are forced by necessity to herd with loathsome wretches to procure a little morbid warmth, tainted perhaps with noxious effluvia, on a miserable uncovered pallet, where they lie crowded together, ghastly with hunger, stupified with poisonous spirits, rotting with loathsome disease, and nauseous with accumulated filth.

This is not an imaginary picture. Professional avocations have often made it necessary for me to witness scenes if possible more shocking. Many a time has my heart bled while contemplating the ravages of disease on young creatures withered in the spring of life, who once were lovely, and cheerful, and innocent, and good. I have a better opinion of you all, than to believe that your minds are so degenerate, that your souls are so truly base, as to wish to spin out a wretched existence, and die the most hopeless of all deaths in such polluted charnels. Would any of you wish a younger sister, or a beloved innocent daughter, brought up in a school so detestable? I am sure you would not. If there be any one present with feelings so unnatural, I hope God will give her a new heart. Are your own souls, then, less precious than those of your friends? Why should you strive to bring down that damnation on your own heads, that you could not wish to fall on your worst enemy?

Let me advise you, my friends, to give the foregoing 234thoughts some portion of reflection; they merit at least your attention, for they have been arranged entirely for your use, and put together under circumstances of considerable difficulty. Look back on your past lives, from which you may learn an excellent lesson, and then cast a glance on that portion of time which you may yet be permitted to enjoy; whether it shall be long or short, God only knows. What part will you then wish that you had acted? Not that of idleness and profligacy, assuredly.

It has been observed to you, by my good friend Mr. Reddall, that by good behaviour in the colony you may make reparation for the injury done to society, and benefit those of your fellow creatures who may have the misfortune to be similarly situated with yourselves, by securing to them the blessings which you have so happily enjoyed. If it can be satisfactorily proved that religious instruction is capable of working an entire and permanent reform in those ill-fated mortals who have forfeited the protection of their country’s laws, the attention of Government, and of the Nation generally, will be directed to the investigation of means to lessen the hardships they have hitherto been doomed to suffer; and the demonstration of a fact so desirable would give infinite delight to those benefactresses who take so much interest in your welfare. Can your minds be so depraved, as ever to lose the remembrance of the noble exertions used by these amiable ladies, particularly Mrs. Fry and Mrs. Pryor, to restore your peace of mind in this life, and secure your happiness in the next? Can any of you be insensible to that benevolent zeal which induced Mrs. 235Fry to visit you in this ship at times when several of her nearest relations were on their death-bed? Perhaps at this very moment she is supplicating Heaven that you may become thoroughly reformed, and, although the morning of your lives has been clouded by guilt, that joy and gladness may surround your setting sun. Perhaps also, at this very time, some of you have a parent, brother, sister, or some dear friend, lamenting your folly, and in secret silence offering the unavailing tribute of heart-rending and corroding tears over your sacrificed virtue. Are your souls so hardened that you will not do your best to dry up their tears? or will you by vicious practices infuse new bitterness into the cup of misery, and bring down their grey hairs with sorrow to the grave?

During my stay in the colony I shall have opportunities of hearing how you behave, of which, as well as of your behaviour during the voyage, I promise you I will make a faithful report to your friends in England, if God be pleased to allow me life to return thither. Virtue is now calling on you to walk in her salutary paths, and I beseech you, my friends, do not reject her heavenly invitation. Listen to the divine promise in 2nd Corinthians, 6th chapter, 17th and 18th verses, “Come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord; and touch not the unclean thing; and I will raise you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.”

In the foregoing observations it has been my wish to avoid deep or abstracted argument, and I have urged 236no doctrine that is not supported by gospel authority or moral deduction. I thought myself bound, before we part, to give you such wholesome counsel as the promises of God hold out to repentant sinners, and my knowledge of the world enables me to lay before you. From the hour you came under my care, I have considered it as much my duty to protect your morals as to preserve your health; and I do not think that any of you are now sorry for the restraints that I deemed it necessary to impose on your actions. In the 3d chapter of Ezekiel, 18th and 19th verses, you will find the following solemn declaration: “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.”

On every man to whom the charge of many souls is confided, the above declaration imposes an awful responsibility, which if faithfully discharged gives him a claim to their gratitude. If any of you think yourselves benefited by my humble services, you can in no way show your gratitude so well, nor oblige me so much, as by making the substance of this discourse the rule of your future lives. Believe me, it will be of more intrinsic value to you than all this world’s riches.

It only remains for me to speak of the promise I made to you at the commencement of the voyage, that 237an impartial account of your conduct, while under my direction, would be given to the proper authorities under which you are to be placed.

A few there are who have, in some instances, transgressed against my directions; but by their unaffected sorrow, and subsequent good behaviour, I think atonement has been made. I have therefore the pleasure to say, that not one of you will be sent out of the ship at this place with an incorrigibly bad character. In making this report, favourable to you all generally, it is gratifying to myself particularly, since neither the feelings of my own conscience, nor the strictest truth, will be violated in the slightest degree. Some of you will be particularly recommended as meritorious characters: and if, during my stay in the colony, it may be in my power to be further useful to you, I desire every one of you to come to me, and make known your wishes; you will always find me most willing and anxious to contribute to your welfare to the utmost of my power.

I have trespassed a great deal too long upon your patience, and yet, I feel a painful reluctance to bid you farewell. In all human probability, this is the last time I shall have an opportunity of offering you, collectively, advice. I hope in God you will not stand in need of it.—That you may set an example worthy to be imitated by those who are to come after you, is, believe me, the most anxious wish of my heart.

And now, my dear friends, I must bid you farewell. May the Almighty God bless and defend you from every evil: and, although it is likely that I shall soon be far removed from you, I beg you to believe that I 238shall often think of you, and offer my humble but sincere prayer to Heaven for your prosperity here, and your happiness hereafter.

After the reading of the address, I waited on the Lieutenant Governor with a number of the women whom he had selected as servants for his own family, and at my particular recommendation also for his friends: this gave me the gratification of seeing thirty-six of them comfortably provided with situations, and the remainder, making in all the number of fifty, in a fair way of being soon disposed of to their advantage. On this as well as on every other occasion I was deeply impressed with the urbanity of the Lieutenant Governor, and his uncommon attention to the most minute circumstance connected with the comforts of the prisoners, reconciling them to their situation, and urging them to honest and industrious pursuits. In the several interviews I had with His Honour, I could not but observe that quickness of intelligence, and soundness of understanding, which contribute so much to the happiness and prosperity of the infant colony over which he so advantageously presides, and to whose interests he appears so deeply devoted.

About 2 P. M. Mr. Humphrey came on board and examined Mrs. Josephson, a free passenger to Sydney, who had heard the denunciation of the sailors to take away my life; when her deposition was taken accordingly.

2nd.—The last night, like the former, passed in tranquillity, the sailors having made no further attempt:—this 239my constant watching in the prison every night affords me personally the best opportunity of knowing. The early hours this forenoon were given to necessary preparations for the removal of the women ashore, agreeably to an arrangement previously made: in order to prevent the prisoners from meeting any interruption, or conversing with improper characters, on the way, they were removed in small parties under proper guard of His Honour’s confidential officers: by this careful proceeding they were all safely landed about three in the afternoon.

I had frequently endeavoured to impress on the minds of the prisoners, how little reliance could be placed in the promises of any man whose baseness of heart could allow him to seduce a returning penitent from the path of virtue: to-day I had a plain proof of that cowardly deceit which generally attends the commission of crime. My deposition complaining of those men who had stolen the women from the prison and threatened my life, had already been taken; but it was necessary for me to appear before the Bench of Magistrates, where the five sailors were also brought. Those men could not deny having the women in their company, but asserted, with contemptible baseness, that the women were common prostitutes, and had come unsolicited to them. Thus would they, without remorse, consign to infamy and every degree of punishment the unhappy creatures to whom, I am well assured, they held out at the time the most extravagant promises, in order to screen themselves from the consequences that might result.

Throughout the day I had frequent communication 240from the Lieutenant Governor, who in the most kind and earnest manner exerted himself personally in behalf of the unfortunate exiles, arranging their several assignments. Having thus provided for no less a number than forty-four in the first instance, and with the most humane and almost paternal care, the six remaining were placed in a safe lodging, furnished with comfortable accommodation, until proper places could be procured in which to employ them. Even poor Sidney Williams had a large share in his generous solicitude; more out of concern for her unhappy failings, than her demerit in point of character. His Honour favoured me with a gratifying testimonial of his sentiments regarding the state of the convicts in the certificate given of their having been landed; a copy of which is here inserted, as more fully expressive of the real circumstances on their departure from the Morley, than the bare recital of a journal may be calculated to convey.

Van Diemen’s Land,
Government House, Hobart Town,
September 2, 1820.

“I do hereby certify, that fifty female convicts have been landed in this settlement from the ship Morley, the whole being in the best state of health and order.

“I visited the ship Morley after her arrival, prior to the landing of any of the prisoners, and saw the whole number, as well those destined for Port Jackson as for this settlement, and I was equally surprised and gratified at their healthy appearance and their becoming and grateful demeanour.

“It appeared to me impossible to carry the branch 241of service, which has been intrusted to Mr. Surgeon Superintendent Reid, to higher perfection: I consider the admirable condition, both moral and physical, in which these unfortunate females have been brought out, to reflect the highest credit on the humanity, attention, and judgement of that officer.”

(Signed) “Wm. Sorell,
Lieutenant-Governor, Van Diemen’s Land.”

About 4 P. M. there arrived on board seven female convicts belonging lately to the Janus, who had been landed at Hobart Town from that ship by a colonial trader, and whom the Lieutenant-Governor ordered to be conveyed to the factory at Parramatta. The document accompanying those women was very unfavourable as to character; I therefore addressed to them a few brief observations relative to their conduct, and placed them separately in the hospital, with a view to prevent their communicating with the other prisoners.

3rd.—A young child belonging to one of the remaining women, which had long been ill with diseased lungs, died since coming into harbour, and the body was this day interred ashore, the service being performed by the Reverend Mr. Knopwood. This gentleman’s health requiring indulgence, the Reverend Mr. Reddall took on himself the duty of the day (Sunday) on shore, and addressed a numerous congregation of more than five hundred persons, from one of his own discourses, adapted to the occasion at a short notice, and directed with a truly powerful effect to the circumstances of the infant colony. A rapid and luminous review of its rise and advancement, 242led to a very handsome and justly merited eulogium on the local government of this new and prosperous settlement; whilst at the same time the unfortunate victims of British justice were taught to feel for their delinquency, and value to the full the blessings they were permitted to enjoy in this favoured land. Having paid my respects to the Lieutenant-Governor, I read to the prisoners as usually. The seven women received yesterday were present, and showed the most respectful attention to the discourse. If circumstances do not greatly deceive, these women are likely to be entitled to a share of good opinion.

Captain Brown, having arranged his ship concerns, weighed anchor this afternoon, and made sail for Port Jackson, two men having been previously embarked by the Lieutenant-Governor’s order to work the ship in place of the others who remain at Hobart Town, until they can be sent to Sydney by the first conveyance. Circumstances not having tended to excite greater confidence than before, I proceed to keep my accustomed watch in the prison.

7th.—The weather during the last day or two has been delightfully fine, and the tranquillity of my little community has not experienced any further disturbance. At noon this day I proceeded to the prison with the Reverend Mr. Reddall, and read a sermon of Dr. Blair’s, “on the misfortunes of men chargeable to themselves;” after which Mr. Reddall made some explanatory observations, placing their situation in a light so clear, and in a manner so impressive, yet so consoling, that not one present could withhold the tribute of a painfully joyous tear. The good man 243himself was not unmoved;—hard indeed must be the heart that could be insensible to a scene so affecting. I viewed with peculiar pleasure the seven females received at Hobart Town mingling their tears with the rest. On visiting them within half an hour afterwards in the hospital, I found that the impression had not been momentary or transient;—they were still in tears, which their efforts to hide from me left little doubt of believing unfeigned.

Throughout the whole of this voyage I have uniformly found good effects to result from conferring some mark of approbation on every meritorious action the moment it came under my notice:—in addition to some little necessary articles, such as needles, thread, scissors, and the like, which I distributed amongst the seven, I permitted them to walk on deck some hours, and had no cause to be displeased with their behaviour. This morning I served out to the women the remainder of a small quantity of thread put on board for their use by order of Government.

10th.—Contrary winds and calms, since leaving Van Diemen’s Land, have protracted the voyage beyond expectation; but the same cause has given me additional opportunities of witnessing the most satisfactory conduct in the women destined for the settlement at Sydney and its neighbourhood. Although a great number of those left at Hobart Town were of exemplary character, besides those of a less steady description, yet those now proceeding with me behave themselves in a manner so discreet and quiet, that one would suppose there were not more than ten women in the ship;—no noise,—no romping, nor any trace 244of indiscretion observable. Even the seven recently received have in a great degree coalesced in the discipline established: the four offenders also remain in strict confinement, overwhelmed with shame and sorrow, appearing more afflicted by their own sense of bad conduct, than the restraint imposed on them by forbidding every communication with their fellow prisoners.

According to custom, the women were assembled this day; and at my request the Reverend Mr. Reddall read to them a select discourse, to which I added some remarks on their future conduct in the situations to which they were destined; endeavouring to impress on their minds as strongly as possible, that their hope of happiness here and hereafter could repose only upon virtuous conduct, which if they ever kept sacredly in view, they would most assuredly enjoy in a degree far beyond any thing they had ever yet known. It was moving to observe how strongly their feelings testified a love for the influence of virtue; whilst tears, the evidence of sincerity, because excited from internal conviction, abundantly made known what was passing in their minds.

A veneration for truth, a love of order, peace, and simplicity of heart, appear to be the objects of their constant concern and feeling: from a knowledge of such being truly their state of mind, the best future behaviour may reasonably be anticipated from every one of them; and, being allowed to express my own individual opinion, I cannot hesitate to declare my conviction, that, if duly protected, and not exposed to more than common temptation, they will realize 245the most favourable expectations, and even for ever set an example of propriety to others in their situation.

This tedious delay in our approach to Sydney protracts my keeping watch as before; but although little cause now appears to exist for an absolute necessity of persevering in this duty, some of the most daring of the sailors having been removed, still an inextinguishable impulse compels me to proceed in that course which alone can afford me the certain assurance of its due success,—as, in case of any further attempts being made upon the prison, I am fully persuaded that even my individual resistance, such is the dastardly spirit of these licentious knaves, would be sufficient to defeat them. They know I am on the watch every night,—for they see me going regularly to my post;—they are also well aware of my means of defence, and only in consequence are unwilling to try any experiment of the kind.

12th.—In the afternoon of yesterday, the wind coming favourable, the Morley ran down the coast freely, and in the evening entered the Heads of Port Jackson in fine weather, and proceeded towards Sydney with a light breeze;—all, under divine Providence, being in the best possible state of health. At half past 5 P. M. the Naval Officer came on board, and received the dispatches.

13th.—This morning the Morley anchored in the Cove before Sydney.

14th.—At the usual hour this day I read a sermon to the prisoners, adding a brief advice for their guidance generally, and endeavoured as much as possible to impress upon their minds a due regard of their 246future duties. The sailors offer no annoyance further, at least in any way which can be directly noticed.

15th.—This morning His Excellency the Governor, accompanied by the Honourable the Commissioner of Inquiry, came on board to inspect the prisoners, in pursuance of a polite note from the Commissioner, to that effect, sent me the preceding evening. The state of the prison, and every circumstance concerning the health, morals, comfort, and security of the prisoners, was minutely investigated: whilst the condition of the women called forth unqualified approval, the structural defects of the prison excited no ordinary surprise. His Excellency expressed himself much pleased with the appearance of the prisoners; and their humble, respectful, and decent demeanour obtained his peculiar notice. The Governor signified his intention to have them landed early in the ensuing week.

17th.—This being the sabbath, I read a sermon to the women, and afterwards explained the absolute necessity there was for guarding with the utmost vigilance against the numerous snares which seductive villainy would again and again lay around their every step;—that on virtue alone, firm and persevering, could their hope of happiness be placed. I explained to them also the dangers and difficulties which surrounded their new state of life, but carefully avoided to excite any unnecessary alarm, whatever might be the foreboding which at that moment I entertained on their account.

It was then that they tasted in full bitterness the consequences of their unfortunate departure from honest 247and virtuous life; every little circumstance appeared in anticipation an aggravation of their unhappy lot, and filled them with awful fears. My heart bled for their affliction;—their grief was suppressed and silent, but its silence was truly and painfully expressive. Who possessing even the common feelings of humanity could be present on such an occasion, and remain insensible? It was indeed distressingly affecting to see so many defenceless females, recently reclaimed from the very worst state of vice and criminality, and from a thorough sense of repentance abhorring wickedness of every kind, now about to be sent adrift among an abandoned and dissolute male population, and amidst others of their own sex, who rarely, if ever, felt a blush for those misdeeds which had deprived them of early home, and in their banishment have rather, it is feared, cherished than renounced their former vicious propensities.

18th.—At 10 A. M. this day the Secretary to Government, accompanied by Lieutenant-Governor Colonel Erskine, came on board and mustered the prisoners. Their general appearance was decent and modestly reserved. Their dresses were slightly objected to, as being rather fine for their condition; but this was by no means unusual, arising from a habit of cleanliness, which was constantly maintained throughout the voyage, with a view both to the preservation of health, and to encourage them to cultivate a proper respect for themselves,—it being invariably known from experience, that a slovenly disposition tends to the injury of health, and the deterioration of moral sensibility.

24819th.—At 9 this morning, according to a Government order received last evening, the prisoners were landed and conducted to the gaol, in the yard of which, as the weather was remarkably fine, His Excellency the Governor inspected them; and having given them much excellent advice, and admonished them impressively on the necessity of maintaining, by the strictest propriety of conduct, the very high characters with which they came before him, gave directions for the disposal of such as had got situations at Sydney, and ordered proper care to be taken of the rest until they could be removed to the Factory at Parramatta.


It was stated at the commencement of this journal, that a school was to be formed on board for the children of the convicts, as also for those of the free passengers; and that the Committee of Ladies had provided at their own expense a school-mistress to have charge of them under my immediate direction. It now remains to give some account of the manner in which this undertaking was conducted, and to explain the motives which induced me to defer noticing its progress among the daily occurrences in my journal of the voyage.

Some weeks after the formation of the school, the Reverend Mr. Reddall with his family embarked in the vessel for a passage to New South Wales, whither he was proceeding with the very laudable intention of introducing Dr. Bell’s system of education into that colony. This gentleman recommended that system 249to be adopted on board, and most obligingly offered to demonstrate it himself. Availing myself of this kind proposal, I had his suggestions strictly enforced, and his assistance proved of very great benefit to every one old enough to admit of their receiving instruction, as soon became evident from the proficiency made by many of them under this admirable system, which far exceeded any expectation that could have been reasonably indulged.

It was really delightful to witness the eagerness with which the children applied, and the rapidly corresponding progress they made,—several of them having become acquainted with the rudiments of spelling and reading before they could distinctly articulate the words. In proportion as their proficiency in the principles was ascertained, their moral instruction was attended to by making them familiar with easy hymns, and also teaching them to commit to memory psalms, and chapters from the New Testament, to an extent almost surpassing credibility. Memorial lessons of this description have been recited to myself, to the number of two hundred and thirty-eight in all, during the voyage, by children every one of whom was under ten years of age, and some not quite five.

My approbation of their diligence was always accompanied by some small present, such as a hymn or tract; and some of those interesting young creatures evinced an emulation to be thus distinguished, in a degree scarcely to be expected from children more than twice their age, bred up under much greater advantages and in circumstances far more favourable. Many of them, indeed, exhibited marks of intellect, which, 250under proper cultivation, promised to make them distinguished in future life.

Several of the prisoners too, influenced by the example and improvement of the children, respectfully requested to be furnished with elementary books, which were immediately issued; and the use made of them may be estimated from the very gratifying fact, that nine or ten of the number thus supplied had learned to read more or less before they landed in the colony. It is to be observed, however, that they did not join the school, but were taught in the prison by their companions: nor should it pass without note, that of those who thus exerted themselves to acquire a little instruction, all but one were from Newgate.

I cannot dismiss this subject without expressing the deep sense of obligation I entertain for the zealous exertions and friendly co-operation shown by Mr. Reddall in his devoted attentions to the children, as well as on every other occasion when his ready services could be available. It is but justice also to state, that Mrs. Josephson, to whom the care of the school was intrusted, discharged that duty in a manner highly creditable, having been uniformly decent, orderly, and attentive.

6.  It is due to those charitable donors to state, that after the convicts had been abundantly supplied, a good many remained, which I committed to the care of the Honourable Judge Advocate Wylde, who most obligingly offered to distribute them to such persons as, from his very extensive acquaintance with the state of the population in the colony, he knew would be most likely to benefit by them.

7.  Where any intermission of regular dates may appear in this journal, it is to be understood that nothing of importance occurred during the time of which no mention is made.

8.  John, chap. vi. 37th verse.

9.  Matthew, chap. xviii. 35th verse.

10.  Isaiah, chap. i. 18th verse.

11.  Ezekiel, chap. xxxiii. 11th verse.

12.  Romans, chap. viii. 18th verse.

13.  Matthew, chap. xv. 19th verse.

14.  1 Corinthians, chap. vi. 9th verse.

15.  The illness alluded to was excited by excessive exertion to suppress riot and quarrels among the prisoners, occasioned by the clandestine introduction of spirits, as may be seen on reference to the journal of the 20th of the preceding month.

16.  Hebrews, chapter ix. verse 27.

17.  Luke, chap. xvi. 31st verse.

18.  Mark, chap. ix. 44th verse.

19.  Luke, chap. xiii. 6th and 7th verses.

20.  Chapter v. 39th verse.

21.  1 Corinth, chap. ii. verse 9.

22.  Psalm iv. 4th verse.

23.  Proverbs.

24.  Daniel, chap. v. verse 5.

25.  Isaiah, chap. lvii. verses 20, 21.

26.  Galat. chap. vi. verse. 9.

27.  2 Thess. chap. iii. verse 10.

28.  Proverbs, chap. xiv. verse 23; ch. xiii. verse 4.

29.  Matthew, chap. v. 34th verse, &c.



The preceding pages exhibit a faithful account of the progress towards reformation made by the convicts under the system observed in their management during removal to New South Wales. The moment they were disembarked, my public functions regarding them terminated of course; yet the interest excited in my mind by the dawning of renovated moral feeling, which appeared general, made me still anxious to cultivate and keep alive amongst them, as much as possible, the influence of those salutary impressions which they appeared to have received during the voyage; and for this purpose I visited them frequently during their stay in the prison at Sydney.

According to the regulation at that place, convicts, on being disembarked, are placed immediately under the superintendence of a person appointed to keep them in charge until such time as they can be placed in situations. This person is always present at the mustering of the prisoners after their arrival; and keeps a book, in which are entered the name and age, and also the character, of the convicts, such as they may have merited while under the management of the 252Surgeon Superintendent, and also a description of the employment for which each prisoner is qualified.

The Superintendent of convicts is thus perfectly apprized of every thing requisite for directing a just and satisfactory assignment of the prisoners; and as, when once they are placed in his hands, no other authority interposes, much good or evil is to be expected from his management. Mr. Hutchinson, the person now exercising that office at Sydney, was himself formerly a convict; and from his various means of obtaining intelligence, well may he be supposed,—so far as the ample jurisdiction he exercises can extend,—to possess information universally correct regarding the circumstances of every family: he is therefore fully competent to determine what description of convict is best suited for any particular service: too often, however, does caprice, if not motives more unworthy, appear to influence him in the performance of this important duty.

It might be expected that the passions of prisoners, whether male or female, sentenced to transportation, having been long kept under by discipline, a sense of guilt, and repentant reflection during the voyage, would not easily be roused again into mischievous action; but a momentary consideration even of what is human nature, and how prone it is to evil, as also the former state of these persons, will forbid a too confident expectation that the mind long accustomed to habitudes of vice, and subdued only by a powerful sense of shame, or religious feeling, can be at once thoroughly reformed, and secure from relapse. It was doubtless with a view to prevent any thing of that unhappy 253tendency, that the local Government instituted the confinement of the prisoners, as already mentioned. The following circumstance will show how careful the Superintendent is to maintain this humane intention.

There were two of the females under my care, whose behaviour during the voyage was so profligate, that, besides the character with which they were handed over at the muster, I was induced to point them out to the notice of the Governor, with a request that they might be separated from the others: to this His Excellency paid immediate attention, and gave orders to that effect. I mentioned the same matter, moreover, to the Superintendent of convicts, who made a note of it in his book, in my presence; yet on that very same evening these wretched creatures were permitted to go at large in the streets of Sydney, where necessity, or their own abandoned propensities, must have driven them to infamous practices.

About one-half of the female prisoners were disposed of in Sydney and its neighbourhood, and the remainder were kept in a separate place in the gaol, until an opportunity should offer for removing them to Parramatta, whither the Governor had directed they should be sent by water, to prevent improper conversation with straggling prisoners of the other sex, who are continually infesting the roads. It is to be remarked, however, that those whose behaviour or disposition had most frequently incurred censure on the voyage, and consequently least merited favourable report, were singled out as the fittest objects for assignment, while many of those whose conduct had been uniformly deserving of approbation, whose names also 254were conspicuous for excellent character, were left to be transmitted to the Factory!

Another circumstance, though of itself unimportant, may be deemed worthy of notice, as throwing some further light on those proceedings. A settler, named Cooper, made application to have an elderly woman, whose relatives he knew formerly in England, assigned him as a servant, but was refused. He repeated the request, and was again refused on the plea that her character was very infamous. Mr. Cooper not believing this dogmatical assertion, and being unable to investigate the Superintendent’s real grounds for objection, applied to me for an account of the woman’s conduct, which during the voyage had indeed been exemplary. The poor woman herself appealed to me, and begged that I would do her justice. I assured her that her character should be fully vindicated before the Governor; but the Superintendent, not wishing the matter to be investigated, or his motives explained, before that tribunal, assigned the woman without further delay as desired.

Connexions too spring up unexpectedly between the female convicts and pretended relatives by whom they are recognised, as it were, on their landing. This practice had grown to such mischievous extent in former years, that it was found necessary to order that no person from the shore should be allowed to visit the ship, or hold communication with the prisoners, without permission signified in writing: and now a guard boat is commonly stationed in the Cove, to prevent any unauthorized persons from approaching a convict ship after her arrival, until the prisoners are 255disembarked. Previously to this order, it was usual for persons from the shore to go alongside those ships, and even on board, and choose from among the female prisoners, wives, sisters, or other relatives, as circumstances would suit, for themselves and others; and these claims they used afterwards to substantiate on oath; on which the prisoners were accordingly assigned them.

In most of these cases, it is well known, no relationship whatever exists, the parties having never before, perhaps, known or heard of each other. It must of necessity follow, that connexions thus formed cannot be in unison with truth or justice, and that the obligations of marriage can hardly escape violation. In fact, the language which female convicts on landing in the colony are accustomed to hear from every tongue, must have a predisposing effect upon minds ordinarily weak as theirs must be, anxious for protection in a strange country. It is usual to tell them, that they must now consider themselves in a new world,—that whatever may have been their offences, their former conduct would not now be considered for a moment;—that they should look upon every thing past as quite forgotten;—that they should begin life anew;—that if they behaved themselves prudently they should soon get husbands, and no doubt do well.

From representations such as these, it is not surprising that they should feel themselves encouraged to indulge in notions of fresh happiness: new hopes are kindled, and associations easily entered into without much regard to the propriety of the action. The Superintendent 256of convicts, and the fellows to whom he confides the secondary concerns of his office, are never at a loss to cultivate the opportunities to which such lessons tend; and as they all are or have been convicts, they dexterously keep up an intercourse ramifying through all that vast fraternity; and a marriage is contracted without difficulty or delay, doubtlessly very much to the happiness of the female, as well as the edification of the community!

One of the greatest evils, in my opinion, attending imprisonment, is when the character of the turnkeys and the other persons in authority about a gaol is corrupt or villainous. In the best constituted prisons in England, this is a subject of painful note, which even the utmost vigilance of the most upright and excellent Governor cannot always rectify. Persons formerly of infamous character are often selected for that situation, from a mistaken notion of prudential policy,—“Set a thief to watch a thief;” for, while their official care is directed to secure the person of the prisoner, his mind too often is sunk more deeply, and confirmed in depravity by their wicked agency or connivance. This is best illustrated by fact.

On visiting the gaol in Sydney, the morning after the prisoners had been landed, I found that many of them spent the night in noise and indecent revelry, occasioned by beer and spirits which had been introduced, and that could not have been done without the knowledge of the keepers. Here then is a lamentable source of mischief to the convict on the very threshold of her exile. In the population of such a town as Sydney, the mass of which is formed of persons transported 257for their crimes, much moral turpitude may be supposed to prevail, which not all the existing regulations, however excellent they be, even were they maintained with exactness, are sufficient to repress. The number of houses licensed for the sale of beer and spirits, besides those where the like are vended clandestinely, by feeding the bad passions with dangerous incentive retard the growth of moral reserve, and that rectitude of principle necessary to the existence of a well-ordered community.

Hence, therefore, derives a constant flow of licentiousness; and the consequences will, it is feared, long continue to characterize the infant colony. Females banished to a place of this description must be formed of materials exceedingly pure, to withstand temptations such as are every moment spread before them. Can it be reasonably hoped, that one the whole tenour of whose life has been corrupt, debased, and almost remorseless, will be influenced by the salutary care of transient benevolence, and the precepts of religious instruction recently imbibed, to shut her eyes and ears against what is still grateful to slumbering passion, and as yet pleasurably tingles on every sense? How odious, then, and afflictive must be corrupt example and temptation at such a time, which in the absence of discipline proceed a step further than inclination, warping the firmest purpose, and fomenting every bad propensity! Wretched indeed, and greatly to be pitied, is the female in such a situation, whose heart still cherishes a spark of virtue which reflection and pious resolution were again fanning into life, but through a direful necessity, from which there is no escaping, is 258dragged down again into the turpid mire, and smoulders in pollution!

Four days elapsed before the wind became favourable for conveying the remaining women to Parramatta, a water passage of about twenty miles, where I took occasion to visit them at the Factory on the morning after their arrival. It would indeed be a difficult task to give an adequate notion of the miserable state in which I found them. They all collected around me, and for several minutes not one of them could utter a word; but their streaming eyes and deep sobs sufficiently expressed the state of their feelings. Some of them gave a shocking account of the manner in which the last night had been spent. On their arrival the preceding evening, they had not got within the Factory before they were surrounded by hordes of idle fellows, convicts, who came provided with bottles of spirits some, and others with provisions, for the purpose of forming a banquet according to custom, which they assured themselves of enjoying without interruption, as a prelude to excesses which decency forbids to mention. They calculated, it seems, on this security, in consequence of a guilty understanding between themselves and the constables, whom they found little difficulty of reconciling to remissness on such an occasion.

Those guardians of public morals are selected from the convict ranks, and, as in this instance, rarely possess qualities superior to those over whom they are placed in authority. The best institutions must fail in their design when supported by materials of this description; and although it is probable that a 259better system could not be devised than that adopted by the present Governor, yet, for want of men of probity and firmness to carry his views into effect, the worst abuses, it is apprehended, must ensue. This is indeed so manifest, that the Sydney Gazette frequently announces the dismissal of those officers for misconduct.

At first I was unwilling to credit the account which these women gave of this strange and disorderly visit of the convicts; but they soon convinced me by pointing out several of these half-naked, half-starved, miserable-looking wretches, who were still lurking around this receptible of misery,—the well-known theatre of infamous excesses. Several of the women, whose dispositions had been particularly improved on the voyage, and who still retained a strong sense of propriety, exclaimed with tears of anguish, “O God! Sir, we are all sent here to be destroyed.” They declared it to be quite impossible to remain virtuous amidst the concentrated immorality, and the various forms in which temptation was presented to them. I endeavoured to support their resolution with every argument against despair, which was evidently seizing on their minds, and tried to recall to their recollection the lessons they had heard so often during the voyage; but they again burst into tears, and with one voice declared, “Were angels from heaven placed here as we are, they would in three nights be corrupted.”

The Factory is a square stone building of inconsiderable dimension, having an upper story: here are crowded all the workshops for converting the wool of 260the colony into cloth; one side being appropriated to picking, carding, and spinning; the other to weaving;—the males employed in this service mixing, in the hours of work, indiscriminately with the females. It is locked at night, and the key intrusted to a porter, who has a lodging-place at the entrance. In this building the female convicts, whose behaviour after coming into the colony may have brought them under the notice of the police, and is deemed deserving of particular punishment, are ordered to be confined and kept to hard labour: they are to sleep within it at night, and are supposed to have no communication with any one outside the walls. How well these orders and expectations are fulfilled, may be seen hereafter.

Detached from the Factory is a wooden building, in a state of decay, open almost at every point; “all the elements of nature may enter in:” unfortunately, too, it is permeable to the unhallowed step of drunken licentiousness in its vilest garb. In this crazy mansion the women from the Morley were placed on their arrival; and during the day-time were not allowed to stray far from it, at least not before they had done a certain quantity of work; but this being performed, they were at liberty to go whither they pleased, do what they pleased, and entertain whom they pleased. This information does not rest on hearsay, or on authority which could excite my distrust: I visited the place at all hours, to ascertain the fact, and have the evidence of my own senses in proof of the assertion, that the women had free egress and ingress at all times.

It has just been stated, that females confined in the 261inclosed Factory, by way of punishment, are not permitted to pass the gate without the knowledge of the Superintendent. Whether this permission be easily obtained, or otherwise, I pretend not to know; but that women so confined are frequently seen outside the walls,—as it is expressed, “beating the rounds,”—is undeniably certain. This I have myself had the mortification to witness in the case of one of the women who had been under my care, but whose bad conduct subsequently had subjected her to “confinement in the Factory.”

Undoubtedly, where the disposition of the individual placed under punishment of that kind is very dissolute, restraint must have a salutary tendency. It may then be supposed, of course, that some means, besides that of confinement and the labours of the place, would be employed to repress their licentiousness, and recall their minds to serious reflection: moreover, the present Superintendent, Mr. Oakes, did formerly belong to the Missionary Society, who have pushed their zealous labours among the unenlightened savages of the southern hemisphere. Upon most strict inquiry, however, regarding this point, I have not been able to ascertain that any extraordinary or efficacious means had been used, or in fact any care whatever taken, to recover these daughters of vice and error from their depraved condition, and give them back in an amended state to the situations they had recently forfeited by their misconduct; or render them profitable examples for the others.

That this observation is lamentably true, may be proved by reference to a recent instance, wherein two 262women, both then free, who had become so infamously wicked, and outrageously reprobate, as to be thought irreclaimable, and utterly unfit for the colony, or rather subjects too hard for the superintendency, were actually re-shipped, and sent home to England for reformation, on board the ship Shipley, in 1818. One of these incorrigibles is wife to Mr. Hutchinson, the principal Superintendent of convicts.

A visitor on entering this penitentiary, this prison house, let his familiarity with gaol scenes be what it may, would be shocked at the noise, depravity of speech, disgusting freedoms, obsceneness, filthiness of person, and general degradation of character, which in every direction strike upon his senses. Indeed, so clamorous and importunate are they in their rude requests to strangers, for “something to drink,” that the benevolent few who would give salutary instruction are deterred from going among them. A friend whom I asked to accompany me to the place, refused on that very account, stating, that he had visited them some time before, and could not get away without extreme difficulty, although he had distributed twenty shillings to rid himself of the annoyance.

It was to this worse than London Newgate, even in all its former wickedness, the penitent exiles from the Morley were transmitted! It is true, the detached building mentioned was assigned them as a sleeping-place; but here they were surrounded by ruffians more destructive to females in their circumstances, than a pack of wolves would have been. Spirits obtained by iniquitous means, brought as an incentive to the worst purposes, enabled those ragged wretches 263to drag down into the same level of licentiousness and vice as themselves, poor, unprotected, weak, defenceless women, whose minds were just recovering from the worst effects of sin, and had but just tasted of the sweets of virtue. Driven again into a state of ungovernable passion, maddened by intoxication, it is easy to perceive,—although the thought is painful in extreme,—that a dereliction of duty must have been the certain consequence, and that even if any had firmness to resist such temptation, their preservation must be attributed to some cause more powerful than the protection afforded them in such an asylum.

The sleeping-place assigned in this detached building was not, for very obvious reasons, much liked, it appears, by many of them; and they sought to procure lodgings in the neighbouring cottages with such means as they had still preserved in their misfortunes. Those confined and humble habitations are generally constructed of wood, not having more than two rooms, one of which, as on occasions such as the present, is reserved as a kitchen, and usually contains a bed, the other serves as bed-chamber and store-room: such is the common abode of the convict during the time of sojourning in a state of banishment!

Rations, as usual, were delivered to them from the stores; and if they were destitute of money wherewith to pay for the comfort of lodging, either this supply of food must be curtailed, or infamous means resorted to in order to make up the deficiency. In this situation, surrounded by men of the most profligate and hardened habits, what woman can be supposed capable of resisting vice, when impelled to that horrible 264extremity by a necessity absolute beyond the possibility of controul? Is it to be expected that minds like theirs, which had in many instances formerly been accustomed to wickedness, will now be able to guard against those seductive arts, that first launched them into crime, and of which, it is feared, some of them still cherish a familiar remembrance?

Many and praiseworthy were the contrivances by which some of those women strove to disentangle themselves from this odious spot, replete with mischief, subversive of those principles of virtue and propriety which they yet felt an inclination to cultivate. To these, marriage held out the best and surest hope. Accordingly, several were on the eve of being married at the time I last visited Parramatta. On the propriety of this step I was consulted by not less than eleven of those who had been under my care, who evinced their grateful feeling towards me by soliciting a continuance of that cautionary counsel, which they had so often heard during the voyage. The particulars of one of these, having produced at the time emotions too strong to be easily forgotten, render the case peculiarly affecting, and are given here simply as they occurred.

A woman about thirty years of age, whose repentant manner and excellent conduct during the voyage had merited particular notice, and being accompanied by four young children, excited more than a common degree of interest: she was married, and left her husband living in England at the time she was sent away. At the Factory she had not sufficient means of supporting her children, the ration for them being only one third in proportion to those of adults. Having disposed 265of several articles of wearing apparel to supply their cravings, she formed the desperate resolution of uniting herself to one of those fellows who had offered to maintain them on that condition.

This wretched woman described the painful embarrassments in which she was involved; but the state of her mind, and the genuine features of her case, will best appear from her own words. “I know,” she said, “that to embrace the mode of life to which I am now driven, is a great crime in the eyes of my Maker: but to see my children starving”—at this moment two of them were crying bitterly for something to eat—“is more than I can bear. I know that I have done wrong, but they, poor unhappy things, are innocent.” Here a gush of tears deprived her of utterance: when she regained composure, she continued: “I have no means of providing for them, and to keep them alive I must either steal, or do what my soul abhors.” This heart-rending narrative was again broken by a flood of tears. I was about to go away; but she implored me for God’s sake not to depart without giving her some advice, by which she declared her conduct should be governed, let her fate be what it might.

It can scarcely be imagined that there is a being in human form, how hardened soever his heart may be, that could contemplate a scene like this, and be unmoved. It was well observed by an ancient writer, “that a virtuous man struggling against adversity was an object worthy of the admiration of the Gods”; what then shall we think of a woman, a frail woman, driven from the society of every friend, and the endearments of her native land, in whom the principles of virtue 266are as it were resuscitated, making a noble stand against the most powerful inducements that can influence the mind, but at last forced to yield to a necessity that would have relaxed the most rigid nerve, that would have subdued the most vigorous resolution?

Is it fair to thrust weak women into such a state, and afterwards expect their lives to be pure? Who would rationally look for uncontaminated minds among females who were driven, in some measure, to an indiscriminate association with thieves of the worst description, men whose unlawful gains enable many of them to live in a manner as dissolute and far more luxurious than they had ever done at home?

It may at first view appear strange, but the fact is indisputable, that the public-houses in Sydney, although fortunately reduced recently from sixty-seven to twenty-five, still evidently too numerous in proportion to the population, are as much frequented as almost any of those in the British metropolis. A notion of the customary run of those houses may be formed from the gains of the persons who keep them being sometimes so enormous as to enable them to accumulate in about three years’ time what they consider a fortune. How the persons frequenting those houses obtain money to purchase beer and spirits, both of the worst kind, at a price vastly beyond the London rates, is matter of astonishment; yet so constant among the convicts is the habit of drinking, that one can scarcely pass through the streets of Sydney without meeting some of them in a state of intoxication. They are, it is true, under the watchfulness of a police said to be extremely active,—and in many respects this representation 267is correct; but the fact is as above stated; I have seen women in a state of inebriety too shocking to describe, and this occurring at almost every hour of the day.

This account has reference to the respectable parts of the town of Sydney; but there are other divisions of that place which would be difficult of description. In those portions designated the Rocks, scenes of drunkenness, shameless debauchery, and open profligacy are so frequent and disgusting, that they cannot be seen without abhorrence; and such is the absolute want of common decency, that even in the day time a person of respectable appearance is there liable to be abused and maltreated; but at night it would be extremely imprudent to attempt passing through even the extreme parts of this fortress of iniquity, as there is a hazard, or rather a certainty, of being stripped and plundered. The ruffians treat one another in the same manner; hence broils and boxing-matches are perpetually occurring in that quarter. The low public-houses, many of which are permitted in those purlieus, present a ready way of converting the plunder into means of intemperate jollity; whilst the occasion is commonly heightened by the presence of one or more of those degraded females, who minister to the mischief of the moment, and are thereabouts constantly resident in great numbers.

The condition and conduct of those last-mentioned graceless wretches are a constant theme of animadversion to those inclined to draw comparisons unfavourable to female convicts generally, an inclination which unfortunately prevails very much at Sydney, 268even among persons who should at least have learned charity from a sense of misfortune. Is it then matter of surprise, that the unhappy women transported to the colony under those disadvantages of comparison, should continue so depreciated and despised as they are at present? A recollection of similar circumstances such as must ever have attended the same state of degradation, though still fresh in the memory even of many of themselves, produces hardness of heart towards these children of affliction; and, strange to say, some even of their own sex who have become wives out of the same situation, and now are further advanced in life, and live in circumstances of comfort and opulence, are among the first to vilify and asperse their convict servants for the slightest deviation from rectitude, exacting from them more than would be expected from female circumstances in more respectable stations, whose characters had never been tainted by judicial sentence.

When, therefore, a woman of this miserable class, torn from former connexions by the severity of her lot, yet cherishing a hope that amendment of life may obtain for her friends and protectors in her new country, arrives in the colony, she finds a disheartening reverse: thrown into a common estimation with such abandoned wretches. The settlers have to supply themselves with servants from the convict ships arriving every year; but if circumstances, such as those mentioned, intervene before they make a choice, it is not very consistent with probability that they will find their morals improved after arrival.

Whatever religious or honest principles they may 269have recovered or imbibed, either under a humane and reforming system in the prisons at home, or in the course of the voyage outwards, all are likely to be obliterated, leaving a dismal blank to be filled with repetition of crime, a certain consequence of the discredit in which they are held, even before they can have been known, and the vile contamination into which they are turned as they arrive. No matter how repentant soever they may have become, nor how sincere soever may be their resolutions of amendment, they are nevertheless looked on with contempt; and being received into families with this feeling, the slightest deviation from the severe rules of rectitude is scrutinized, and seized upon with an avidity implying studied intention. Rarely is allowance made for the infirmity of human nature; the good resolves of the convict are shaken for want of confidence; despair of doing good so as to be approved, and disregard of well doing from want of due encouragement, fasten too frequently on the mind, and criminality again brings punishment, disgrace, and inevitable ruin of character.

It is not too much to say, that the immorality or dishonesty which appear among convicts, especially females, subsequently to their arrival in the colony, may often be traced, among the many other causes, to this harshness and want of confidence in the situations to which they are at first assigned. There will, however, be a great number of those annually transported, who will retain traces of their old habits in defiance of all the influence of moral instruction,—who are, it may be said, incapable of reformation; but it is impossible that individuals of such a disposition can pass unnoticed 270through all the stages of ordeal, from their first apprehension to trial and final judgement, and be unknown as to genuine character. They must of course be marked and recorded in their progress, and, if found incorrigible, can very easily be distinguished from the penitent and well conducted, and a separation be effected accordingly. Some badge of distinction should in all fairness be set upon them; and it would be highly honourable to the wisdom of that authority whose will is to be their guide, to hold out this segregation of the penitent from the profligate, were it only as a reward for good conduct, and an encouragement to the deserving.

The foregoing statements have reference more particularly to the manner in which female convicts are treated in the colony: the condition of males is less severe. The mode of disposing of them in the first instance, does not differ in any considerable degree from that of the females. Like those, the men are marched into the prison yard for the Governor’s inspection, when His Excellency inquires minutely how they have been treated on the voyage, and whether they have any complaints against the Surgeon Superintendent, or the Captain and his officers, and had their full rations of provisions. Should any one fancy himself aggrieved in those points, or in any other respect, he is desired to come forward, and prefer his charge; to which the Governor gives a patient hearing, and decides as he thinks proper.

If it appear that the Surgeon and the Commander have been careful, and have humanely discharged their respective duties, His Excellency fails not to pay a 271compliment to their assiduity: but should any neglect or harshness appear justly alleged, they are publicly reprimanded at the instant; and if further inquiry be deemed necessary, a bench of magistrates is ordered to investigate the case, and report their proceedings in writing to His Excellency, who sometimes transmits it to England for the consideration of the Government, the parties being sent home under arrest, should he think the affair deserving of such serious notice, to answer for their conduct.

Having inspected the condition of the prisoners, and redressed their complaints, if any, His Excellency gives them all a salutary and solemn admonition. He assures them, that no application in their favour from home or elsewhere will be attended to, unless their own behaviour in the colony be correct; that they must now consider themselves in a new world, where their lives are, as it were, beginning; and that their future prosperity, or misery, will depend upon themselves.

It occasionally happens that ill-fated individuals arrive in the colony, as convicts, who have been brought up as gentlemen, and in whose cases there may appear, perhaps, more of misfortune than moral delinquency: such persons are generally indulged by His Excellency with tickets of leave, and opportunities allowed them to do well. The number of persons, however, to whom tickets of leave are granted on their arrival, is by no means so great as has been represented.

The convicts are now transferred to the care of the principal Superintendent, to whom all persons who want servants must apply. Some demur regarding the assignment of the individual for whom the application 272is made, not unfrequently occurs in this quarter. Persons of the first respectability, well informed regarding matters of this kind, have assured me, that the settlers have frequently complained of the difficulty they experienced in obtaining the acquiescence of the Superintendent of convicts to allow them servants of their own particular choice, and that there was, under such circumstances, only one way of procuring what they desired. Having no personal knowledge of the manner in which this extraordinary agency is effected, I do not pledge myself for the correctness of the statement; but I am well aware that the difficulty complained of does exist. Every settler to whom a convict servant is assigned, is required, by authority of the local Government, to pay as wages ten pounds sterling per annum to a male, and seven pounds to a female, besides board and lodging.

The male convicts not disposed of as servants, or by tickets of leave, are formed into gangs, which are stationed in different parts of the country in Government employ, such as making and repairing roads, and various other public works, and are maintained from the stores. Those employed at Sydney and its vicinity are lodged in a barrack, which has lately been erected, and is fitted for the accommodation of about eight hundred persons. There is another building of the same kind, at Emu Plains, but on a smaller scale, which want of time prevented me from visiting. The barrack at Sydney is spacious and lofty, erected in a healthy and appropriate situation; it is thoroughly ventilated, is kept exceedingly clean, and has many other advantages.

273I visited this building several times, and could not avoid remarking the cleanliness of the different wards, and the respectful attention of the persons who showed me over them: the great objection I observed in the management was the entire want of classification, an obvious evil in every such establishment, and that nothing appeared of the nature of an organized system of morality. It was truly shocking and disgusting to hear the oaths, execrations, and language the most indecent, which issued from every side; nor did any of them appear to be intimidated by the presence of those in authority over them: indeed quite the contrary was observable; they seemed to me rather to be encouraged by those persons in practices so utterly repugnant to order and decency. Mr. Hutchinson, principal Superintendent of convicts, was with me on one of those occasions; but so far was he from checking with rebuke what, to say the least of it, was want of respect to one in his situation, that his own expressions outstripped and completely eclipsed theirs in wickedness and revolting filthiness.

Endless would be the task of commenting on the deterioration, if not total ruin, of moral principle, that must result from this want of classification and religious care among a community so constituted as this just noticed. How futile then must be every undertaking to reclaim men of this description under circumstances so inauspicious! I fear the hope of their reformation, therefore, is extremely distant, unless some means of an efficient nature like that alluded to be soon adopted. Sanguine indeed must be the mind that can expect improvement in a mass so heterogeneous, 274composed of delinquents of every age; a commixture of guiltiness of every shade and degree,—without any controlling influence over depravity however extravagant,—without any humane friend to warn against error, or direct to the paths which alone lead to peace and happiness.

Until the erection of this barrack, the convicts had to provide their own lodging, for which purpose they were allowed half of each day to work for themselves, or employ that time otherwise as they thought fit; but this was attended with manifest inconvenience both to themselves and their neighbours. The advantages of having them locked up at night, which is done regularly at eight o’clock, are incalculable, and it is as highly applauded by the sober part of the community as regretted by themselves, the public-house keepers, thieves, and receivers of stolen goods. Their labour must now be much more productive to Government than formerly, as they are obliged to work from six in the morning till six in the evening, Saturday excepted, when they are allowed half a day to receive their weekly rations of provisions.

Regarding the issues from the stores a salutary ordinance exists, making it criminal to purchase any part of a convict’s rations; which is a means of preventing many bad consequences: it cannot be denied, however, that circumstances often occur which render a breach of this order unavoidable. When fresh meat, for instance, is served out in hot weather, which embraces two thirds of the year, it will become putrid in a time inconceivably short: consequently the convict would want or starve during the greater part of the 275week, were he not to make some such arrangement privately, as must by its abuse have occasioned the present regulation. In general the male prisoners live well, if they conduct themselves properly, and observe sobriety; the regulations adopted for the maintenance of good order among them being efficient in a remarkable degree, when their great numbers, and also their former and present modes of life, are considered.

The convict Superintendents, and their numerous followers, as well as most of the constables, and many of the settlers of the inferior class, have adopted a practice of compounding with convicts assigned them as servants, by which they derive a certain income from those convicts for allowing them respectively the free disposal of their own time. This compromise is usually productive of a revenue amounting weekly to a sum varying from five to twenty shillings per head, or even more, as the circumstances may allow; as, for instance, when the convict is a mechanic, who, by being apparently on his own hands, can easily earn more than double the sum he pays in consideration to his master, who, from a necessary connexion with the Superintendent, generally knows the surest way to have those of any trade he chooses assigned him.

In such cases, it is always understood that the person to whom the convict is assigned, is responsible for the conduct of his servant; but, generally speaking, this responsibility is worse than nominal. Hence great inconvenience to society is the almost certain result; for many of those so assigned are known to levy contributions on the industrious inhabitants; and in this respect some of them exercise their wonted arts with 276surprising and successful dexterity. There can be little doubt that many support themselves wholly in this manner, as idle fellows are to be met with constantly prowling about, under various pretences, but notoriously intent on plunder, or mischief of some kind, which is still dear to their hearts. Of this description chiefly were the wretches whom I noticed skulking around the Factory at Parramatta, corrupting some of the women there, and persecuting others.

Various means have been adopted to restrain the irregularities of convicts thus at large, and punishments of a summary kind are frequently inflicted. Of these, the most severe next to that of death is transportation to the Coal River, which is ordered usually by His Honour the Judge Advocate, or a Bench of Magistrates, for a term of years, or for life, as the enormity of the offence may require. Convicts dread this mode of punishment very much, because they are there compelled to work in chains from sun-rise till sun-set, and are subject also to other restrictions of a highly penal description. The rigour of this sentence is, however, frequently relaxed in degree, as the criminal shows signs of amendment; and in very few cases is it found necessary to subject any of the convicts to a repetition of that sentence. Punishment by flogging is sometimes resorted to, and the infliction, which may be ordered by any Magistrate on conviction, seldom exceeds twenty-five lashes.

For females, it is considered sufficiently severe to confine them for a limited time to constant labour in the Factory at Parramatta; but enough has been said on that subject to satisfy that they can benefit but 277very little from such a discipline. The restraint produced by those punishments generally has some effect in preventing crime; but that of sending offenders to the Coal River, to which punishment females as well as males are liable, appears the most dreaded, and crimes are evidently less frequent than might be expected in a population composed of such mischievous materials.



As the welfare of the convicts, and their advancement or retrocession in moral reformation, depend materially upon the exertion, apathy, or capability of the Surgeon Superintendent, it may not be out of place, or destitute of interest, to say something regarding the duties attached to that appointment.

The transportation of convicts to the colony seems entirely a mercantile concern, in which the Government contracts, as a private individual would, with the ship-owner for the conveyance of a certain number of tons, at a fixed rate, and the tonnage is estimated according to the ship’s register. In this case, Government supplies provisions for the prisoners, besides other necessary stores, which are placed under the charge of the Master, to be afterwards issued on proper occasions.

A premium of fifty pounds is held out to the Master for a faithful discharge of his duty; and satisfactory vouchers for the correctness of his conduct, and humane treatment of the prisoners while on board, signed by the Governor of the colony, and the Surgeon Superintendent of the ship, must be produced for that 279purpose. This part of his duty is independent of his concerns as Commander, and the proper treatment of his sailors, with which the Government have no right to interfere, save as far as it relates to the state of discipline maintained on board, to prevent mutiny, or improper conduct of the sailors, by which the security and management of the prisoners may be endangered or interrupted.

The following extract from the printed Instructions furnished by the Navy Board to the Master, may serve to show the exactness required of him in this respect. “For your guidance in the particular line of duty allotted to the Surgeon of the Morley, we inclose a copy of our Instructions to him, in order that you may regulate yourself accordingly; and we refer you to the 24th article of those Instructions against the prostitution of the female convicts in the vessel under your command, which you are to consider as equally applying to yourself, and of which we enjoin your strictest observance, both in your own conduct, and in the exercise of your authority over all the persons under your controul; and the like certificate from the Governor of New South Wales, of your adherence to these directions, will be required before the gratuity allowed on your return will be taken into consideration.”

The article in the Surgeon’s Instructions, to which the above has reference, runs as follows: “In consequence of a communication from the Secretary of State, relative to the state of prostitution in which it is represented the female convicts, during the passage to New South Wales, have been permitted to live with 280the officers and seamen of the ships in which they were embarked, we desire that you will take the most particular care to prevent the prostitution of the female convicts who may be embarked, as far as possible, and, independently of showing a good example in this respect, that you will not, under any pretence whatever, suffer any officer or seaman to live with a woman on the passage; and we inform you that instructions have been given by the Secretary of State to the Governor of New South Wales, to examine whether these directions have been fully complied with; and that to enable you to receive your gratuity, it is necessary that you should procure a certificate from His Excellency, as to the measures taken by you to enforce these regulations through the ship; when it will be considered how far your conduct entitles you to such gratuity.”

In former times the owners of ships chartered for the conveyance of convicts to the colonies, and used also to contract for victualling them during the voyage, and were even at liberty to provide persons of their own choice to act as surgeons. With what qualifications, intellectual or moral, those medical gentlemen entered on the duties of this most important branch of the service, it is not my purpose here to inquire. But the ship-owner in those days contracted for a certain number to be embarked, without any stipulation being entered into for landing them safely at the place of destination;—a material distinction, as is evident when it is considered, that it was by no means uncommon for a ship of this description to have from forty to seventy deaths, and upwards, in the 281course of a voyage. The following statement, extracted from Collins’s History of New South Wales, is illustrative of this assertion.

“A contract,”—he says, page 102, “had been entered into by Government, with Messrs. Calvert, Cambden, and King, merchants of London, for the transporting of one thousand convicts; and Government engaged to pay 17l. 7s. 6d. per head, for every convict they embarked. This sum being as well for their provisions as for their transportation, no interest for their preservation was created in the owners, and the dead were more profitable (if profit alone was consulted by them, and the credit of their house was not at stake,) than the living. The following accounts of the numbers who died on board each ship were given in by the Masters:

Men. Women. Children.
On board the Lady Juliana 0 5 2
On board the Surprise 42 0 0
On board the Scarborough 68 0 0
On board the Neptune 151 11 2

All possible expedition was used to get the sick on shore; for even while they remained on board many died.” Again, at page 436, the same author, speaking of the Hillsborough, which arrived the 26th July, 1799, says, “Ninety-five died during the voyage, and six more were added to the number in a few days after they were landed.”

Within the period since Naval Surgeons have been appointed to the superintendence of convict ships, the calamity has been considerably lessened; and now, if two or three deaths occur in a voyage, it is thought 282very unfortunate indeed. I may add of my own knowledge, that in 1818, when I was first in New South Wales in that service, out of 1,059 convicts embarked in England and Ireland, 1,057 were landed at Sydney in tolerably good health. This favourable result may have been influenced considerably, perhaps, by much greater attention having been given to ventilation and cleanliness, and the convicts being less crowded than they used to be for many years after the settlement of the colony.

Such, it appears, was formerly the mode in which the transportation of convicts used to be conducted; but at present, under the superintendence of men regularly educated in the profession, it has become a point of duty for the Surgeon to take cognizance of every circumstance connected with the care of the convicts. To this intent, the Instructions issued to him from the Navy Board require the strictest attention to ascertain that the convicts’ stores are economically expended, and to see that every tendency to waste, irregular distribution, and improper application of the Government property, is instantly checked and prevented. Under these circumstances, his professional respectability becomes unavoidably merged, in some degree, in the character of a spy, in which odious light he is liable to be viewed by the commander, over whose actions he is directed to exercise this disagreeable, and in many cases unnecessary, controul.

The situation, therefore, of a Surgeon in a convict ship, besides being one of great responsibility, is subject to serious inconvenience and embarrassment from many existing circumstances, which are independent 283of his power or choice, and which, deriving influence from long established custom, have become inveterately incorporated with the present system of the service, and render the appointment by no means a sinecure. This is more strikingly evident in a female convict ship, where delicacy of management must be combined with a firmness of discipline bordering upon severity, which is at all times disagreeable, but becomes peculiarly odious when enforced, as must generally be the case, where corporal punishment is excluded. To regulate and duly restrain minds of ordinary purity and habitude of obedience, is not unattended with difficulty: but the duty is palpably irksome, though exercised with the utmost discretion, over dispositions vitiated and turbulent, as those which are generally found among female convicts; so much so, indeed, that few, knowing the extent of this painful responsibility, will be found willing to give the trial a repetition.

If he sanction, for instance, or connive at, the prostitution of the women, he is liable not only to severe animadversion, but even to be cashiered, and otherwise punished, by the authority under which he serves. On the other hand, his embarrassments are equally pressing; for, if he “enforce” the orders of the Navy Board, which will often involve the commission of an act of violence, he may subject himself to a criminal prosecution, the consequences of which may be fatal. Strange as this may sound, it is perfectly correct. During the forty nights I kept watch in the prison of the Morley, it was my firm determination to obey the letter and spirit of the orders I received in my Instructions, 284persuaded then that in so doing I should have acted legally; and had any of the seamen broken in, as they frequently threatened to do, I would most assuredly have shot at the first that entered; which as I have lately learned, would have been felony. Here is Charybdis on one hand, and Scylla on the other.

In fact, the Surgeon in those ships has no means whatever but his own physical strength to carry his instructions into effect; and should the opposition he meets with in the discharge of his public duty be formidable enough to trample down his authority, he can obtain no redress, as the law has provided no remedy against the licentiousness of sailors: consequently, to prefer complaints so as to give grounds for prosecution against them, would only be a useless waste of his time. It will, perhaps, be expected that the authority and co-operation of the Master will be effective in support of the Surgeon’s intentions; such expectation can only arise from the supposition that the Master’s authority over his seamen is absolute, or at least that his orders are promptly obeyed; but this supposition has been shown, in the journal, to be unfortunately without foundation.

To act up closely to his Instructions, a Surgeon must examine every bale, cask, parcel, or article which is to enter the ship, as will appear from the subjoined extract from the Instructions.

“You are to take particular care that neither the Master nor any other person be suffered, under any pretence whatsoever, to put on board any private goods or articles of any kind, without the special permission of the Board; and as the whole of the tonnage of the 285stores which may be permitted to be shipped will be reported to the Governor of New South Wales, the ship will be liable to seizure, if any greater quantity should be found on board.”

Would not this duty be better performed by a Custom-house officer during the continuance of the ship at any British port? If the vessel do not depart without the stipulated quantity of water, which ought to be determined by previous inspection, there will seldom be occasion to touch at any other place during the voyage, and consequently no opportunity can occur to take in goods without permission. The time which must be given to matters of this nature, will be found to interfere with the more immediate and important claims upon his attention as Superintendent, such for instance as the following: “You are to be careful that the convicts and passengers have their due rations of provisions without any deduction whatever, and to see that the victuals are properly cooked, and regularly issued at the usual meal-times, as also that they have a sufficient proportion of water. You are also to attend the opening of every cask of provisions supplied to the vessel by Government, and to notice in your journal its mark, numbers, and contents.”

In the discharge of duties so multifarious as are those of the Surgeon Superintendent in a convict ship, any leaning to remissness justly subjects him to the displeasure of the Board from whom he has the honour of receiving his appointment and instructions; or he incurs the liability of quarrelling perpetually with the Commander, when ever the conduct of the latter may be thought to require his interference; which becomes 286a constant source of uneasiness and vexation. Some men might be driven by such annoyance to study their own comforts, and self-interest grow importunate for a large share of consideration: in this case, sense of public duty may perhaps become weak in proportion as self predominates, and necessity, which rarely admits of compromise, compels to an acquiescence with the Master’s views, in order to conciliate his friendship, and cultivate a disposition to reciprocal concession on his part.

Should this mutual understanding fail to be established very early in the voyage, there is likely to be continual bickering between them, and endless thwarting on every trifling occasion, until at length an open rupture takes place, and the Master takes his revenge by dispensing with the Surgeon’s future services as soon as the convicts have been disembarked, and leaves him on shore to find a passage home in the best manner he can. It is fair, however, to state, that the Navy Board so far makes the Surgeon independent of such an unpleasant casualty, as to allow him fifty pounds by way of passage money returning from the colony: but whether this liberality be an equivalent for the severe discharge of an ungracious duty, by which he is subject to that emergency, is more than questionable, as it is a well known fact, that the sum demanded for a passage from New South Wales to England is from one hundred and fifty to two hundred pounds. To remain at the colony is productive of manifold inconvenience, as the allowance of fifty pounds will soon be expended for the necessaries of living, while the same demand and difficulty to return will still continue.

287This representation, although a bare recital of facts, may be objected to as being the very worst state of the case supposed, and that the argument rests upon a contingency which has but seldom occurred: but this objection, far from weakening the position, gives an additional weight to the statement, and claims for it a greater degree of attention. For it can be said without fear of refutation, that nineteen out of twenty of the Surgeons who go out in convict ships would return involved in debts, which it would be utterly beyond their power to discharge by any other means than an apprenticeship in the King’s Bench, were they to rely solely on the fifty pounds to meet the expenses of the passage home, which it may be seen requires four times that sum.

It should be considered, moreover, that convict ships return very rarely from New South Wales directly, as they are mostly chartered to distant ports in India, or are directed by their owners to proceed in quest of cargo, after their engagement with Government is completed. In this case, a considerable time usually elapses in preparing for this fresh destination before the vessel can leave Sydney; and should the Surgeon be entered as a passenger, he must abide by the regulations existing on those occasions, by which he is bound to maintain himself on shore as long as the ship remains in any port. The heavy expenses which this must create, in addition to that of passage, must be seriously felt by the time the vessel will have arrived in England. Either, then, the Surgeon must subdue his honourable feelings by silencing scruples as to the duties of Superintendent, or he must abide 288by such consequences as leave him the inmate of a prison.

In order to avoid this horrible alternative, he generally enters into an engagement with the ship-owners, before the vessel sails from England, to give his professional attention to the crew during the voyage, and thus secures a passage home without much expense; but this, it should be observed, is to be effected only when no misunderstanding has taken place between himself and the Commander, as otherwise he is liable to be removed at the pleasure of that officer on the passage home. This arrangement is doubtless convenient enough for both parties: but it may be questioned whether the public service is benefited by it; for it can hardly be expected, that the same vigilance and firmness which would characterize the conduct of a Surgeon Superintendent, were he perfectly independent, will be observed when bound by interest, by private compact, and by necessity, to obey the Master’s orders, or at least give implicit attention to his suggestions, thereby compromising that dignity of character which properly belongs to his rank[30].

I wish this observation not to be construed into an insinuation against the honour or honesty of the Masters 289of convict ships generally. If all may be judged of from those with whom I had the pleasure of being connected, they ought to stand very high indeed in public estimation; for I firmly believe, that there could not be found in Britain men possessed of more upright and honourable principles than they are; and an acquaintance moderately extensive with others in that particular service has impressed me strongly with sentiments of respect for their integrity and general character.

On the other hand, it is very remote from my intention to throw the slightest shade on the character of those professional gentlemen who have been latterly employed in this service. Many of them possess well cultivated minds, and are meritorious and valuable members of society; actuated by that high sense of honour which would detain them in obscurity for life rather than forfeit their principles; but some of them have, at the same time, wives and children looking up to them for support, to provide which, and to give them the advantages of education, the utmost exertions of industry and economy are required. The procedure, however, having been dictated, and in some 290degree made general, by necessity, has never been considered disreputable.

There are one or two other points regarding the situation of Surgeons on board of convict ships, which seem to me worthy of consideration: and as they concern the respectability of the service, and the efficiency which ought ever to attend that branch of duty, the mention of them, it is hoped, will not be deemed disrespectful to the authority that watches over such affairs.

According to the regulations now existing, the Surgeon is not allowed a servant, which reduces him to the alternative of applying to the Master to permit one of the ship’s company to do that duty; and this favour, if granted, necessarily places him under personal obligations to the man whose actions he is required to inspect, and often to control; or else he must perform those offices himself; which cannot be less repugnant to his feelings as a gentleman, than it must eventually prove injurious to the service.

Let the situation of a Surgeon Superintendent in a convict ship be compared with that of an officer in the army of the same rank, and it will readily be seen how widely different are their comparative comforts and respectability. A naval Surgeon ranks with a Captain of the land forces; but this equality of rank, if not an absolute inconvenience, is, under the presently existing circumstances, nothing but an empty name. For instance, while the lowest commissioned officer in the army is allowed a servant, exclusively of the attentions he can command from 291his guard, the Surgeon Superintendent in the same ship enjoys the proud privilege of ministering to his own wants.

Who would not sympathize with a gentleman driven to the necessity of discharging the office of a menial, and that, too, in the presence of those very persons of whom he has charge, and over whom he is commissioned constantly to exercise authority? I beg to be understood distinctly, in drawing the above comparison, not to imply any thing of an invidious nature towards officers of the army doing duty in convict ships, every one of whom, I am persuaded, justly merits whatever comfort can be enjoyed in such a situation.

It is in place here to observe, that misunderstandings are likely to occur from the first moment of sending the convicts on board. The Master of the ship having signed a bond making himself responsible for the safe custody of the prisoners, he alone is held accountable in the event of any of them escaping; which would seem to give him a strong claim to regulate them as he may think necessary during the voyage, while the instructions given to the Surgeon appear to have a different import, thus: “You are not to consider yourself as Naval Agent for Transports, nor authorized in any way to interfere with the management or navigation of the ship, your duty as Surgeon and Superintendent extending only to the care and management of the convicts, and to see that the Master fully complies with the terms of his charter party, a copy of which is inclosed for your information.”

A military officer is ordered on board in command 292of a guard, without any instructions whatever, it appears, as to his particular line of duty; and he naturally enough imagines that the prisoners and every other person in the ship are under his charge. Each of these, desirous of securing respect for his authority, regards any interference of the others with a jealous eye; which has given rise to many unpleasant incidents, that have ultimately led to investigations in the colony, where it was decided that the Surgeon Superintendent has the sole charge over the prisoners. It would prevent much inconvenience, were the respective duties of these officers clearly defined before the commencement of the voyage; for at the end of it information must always be too late for any useful purpose.

In consequence of a late regulation, Surgeons in this branch of the service, before they can receive their pay, are obliged to produce a certificate from the principal Surgeon of the Colony, “stating, that no unnecessary expenditure was made of the medicines and necessaries supplied for the voyage.” There is something excessively derogatory of that respect which is due to professional character, in compelling a Surgeon to apply for such a certificate as that here required. The very application, moreover, involves an unbecoming insinuation, that neither the word nor the oath of the individual is to be believed; for every Surgeon, before he obtains his pay, is obliged to make affidavit that the medicines and necessaries have been faithfully expended: but it is evident that even this solemn testimony, although squaring with every cautionary purpose for which it was originally 293designed, is questioned as to its truth, the recent regulation making it requisite to produce another stronger voucher to the same purport. With the profoundest deference to superior wisdom and official prudence, an additional document of this nature appears superfluous; and no absolute necessity therefore existing to demand its production, such a requisition, it is presumed, might be omitted without injury to His Majesty’s service.

It would seem trifling and ridiculous to dwell longer on a subject of such apparent insignificance; but let it not be forgotten, that of such trifles is the greater part of human happiness or affliction composed: neither ought it to be looked upon as an unreasonable wish, that those professional men who have devoted the prime of life to their country’s service, should, at least in some degree, be screened from unnecessary humiliation.

30.  The Commissioners of His Majesty’s Navy, finding that the allowance of fifty pounds is wholly inadequate to satisfy the demand for a passage home, have lately increased it to one hundred and ten pounds, and also granted ten shillings a day during the time a Surgeon is obliged to remain in the colony. Since these sheets were put to press, I have ascertained, that the subject of convict management, generally, has received considerable attention, and undergone some improvements. The structural weakness, and consequent insecurity, so severely felt in the Morley, have in some degree been remedied in fitting up the last female convict ship, Mary Anne. Some of the locks supplied to that ship were fitted in a more efficient manner, and appeared of a better quality than those which were formerly furnished. Those useful and highly necessary arrangements reflect credit on their authors, and cannot fail to benefit the service. It is earnestly to be hoped that they will be followed up with others which are still very requisite.



In the account given of the transmission of convicts to New South Wales, I have endeavoured, “nothing extenuating, nor setting down aught in malice,” to describe the true state of morality in that country. A wish to avoid prolixity prevented the mention of some few particulars, which from the weight that attaches to their consideration, as affecting the security and reformation of the prisoners, seem to be not destitute of interest, and may without impropriety, it is hoped, be briefly mentioned here. In these remarks I shall simply state circumstances as they came under my notice in their practical effects, leaving the question of remedy exclusively in the hands of those who best can obviate the existing inconveniences, and remedy the mischievous results arising from the present mode of transportation.

In the first instance, then, I would respectfully direct attention, immediate and effective, to the present plan of fitting up prisons on board of convict ships. The manner in which those places are erected for the detention of male prisoners is less objectionable in regard to security than those for females. In the one case, the protection of the persons in authority over the confined appears principally designed, as opposed 295to any violence meditated on the part of the male prisoners, as also for the security of the ship. But in the other, these circumstances, if they are at all allowed to occupy consideration, appear of but little moment, because it seems to be an opinion commonly received, that improper intercourse between the female convicts and the sailors must continue as a matter of course, and that all endeavours to prevent it will be fruitless, and therefore any precaution in fitting up a prison for females, with that view, is superfluous. As far as it regards the safety of the ship and stores, that may perhaps be the case, as from women, merely, no such danger need be apprehended; and this notion has probably led to the present specious manner of construction, in which the semblance of confinement only appears to be consulted.

The present alarming increase of crime renders every precaution for the safe lodgement of male convicts both wise and salutary, particularly so long as no pains are taken to subdue their predilection for plunder and profligacy, by informing their minds with moral truths, and showing them the just and happier resources of honest life. With regard to this class of prisoners, however, there is little to recommend by way of strengthening the rigour of the system of confinement, as sufficient care is taken in that respect, that as little chance as possible is allowed of their resorting to violence with any hope of success, even were they so disposed: when in addition to the fetters and the strong prevention of their prison, the military guard placed over them is a balance more than sufficiently countervailing to any such design.

296The situation of a female convict prison claims attention in a peculiar degree, if the main purpose of reformation, the object originally in the contemplation of their sentence, be kept in view. Revolting in the extreme to every feeling of propriety, is the idea of abandoning these miserable women to indiscriminate intercourse, among the crews of those ships in which they are ordered to be conveyed to their place of banishment. They are humanely removed from their former mischievous connexions; but who would say that this is a mode in which they can be reclaimed? Prostitution has been the bane of many of them; will they thus become less impure?

By the very unaccountable neglect of moral instruction heretofore prevailing, independently of other causes, every sailor, nay the officers on board, could take advantage of the defenceless state of the female convicts; and so grossly did these excesses increase by indulgence, that the commonness of the practice flung a familiarity over the evil, concealing its disgusting odiousness, and making it looked upon as an affair of course, of ordinary, of necessary occurrence! The Government, being made acquainted with its existence, have interfered and forbidden the abuse. Has that been sufficient to root it out, or even put a stop to its abominable recurrence? It is seriously to be feared that it exists in full vigour, and that, generally speaking, so far from being circumscribed, it is unlimited.

Under a system of organized depravity and abandonment, which is too disgusting to be depicted, can any one be surprised,—can anyone expect otherwise,—than 297that the female convicts should arrive in the colony contaminated and hardened in turpitude and profligacy to the last degree,—so absolutely vitiated as scarcely to retain the consciousness of a single virtuous thought? Suppose a simple country girl were one of these, convicted of her first offence; it surely is not unreasonable to imagine, that, if sheltered from such iniquitous association, decently treated, and rather encouraged by mild remonstrance, and timely humane counsel, aided too by good example, she might be reclaimed from error, and again become a useful member of society. But, in a school so destructive of moral feeling, as that which a convict ship has hitherto been permitted to present, will any such salutary result in her favour be expected? Can any thing less than miracle save her from hopeless ruin? The hope of moral reformation is quite idle, so long as such detestable doings exist; nor will it ever be made a consideration in the necessity of their removal, whether they owe existence to connivance or laxity of discipline. If, then, the reformation of female convicts be still made a portion of the public concern, some arrangements different from those hitherto employed, or some more efficient application of such as at present so miserably obtain, are indispensably necessary: if otherwise, too much has already been done, and useless restraints have been imposed.

The state of the prison in female convict ships should be such that no ingenuity, or any effort short of open violence, could be sufficient to command a communication with the prisoners. In this case, the 298construction of the prison ought to be as firm at least as that for males; nor should the minuteness of accommodation in the interior, concerning personal comfort, cleanliness, and decent reserve, be overlooked. It is essentially necessary that a small apartment be fitted up securely, for the seclusion of any female whose profligate or refractory disposition may render solitary confinement necessary. This place should be thoroughly ventilated, and kept clean, but every thing carefully excluded except the absolute necessaries of life; which, during confinement, ought to consist of bread and water only. There may be some few in every ship, too hardened in iniquity, to be influenced by kind treatment and moral admonition, who would be intimidated by the fear of punishment like this. The want of such a place in every female convict ship is felt and acknowledged by all persons conversant in such affairs. The only objection to the general adoption of this measure is, that it would deprive the prisoners of part of that space which is at present sufficiently limited. But room may be allowed for it without inconvenience, by making the number to be transmitted less by six or eight than the usual complement: the advantages would then be found greatly to outweigh the difference in expense, which at most could be but a trifle. The locks, moreover, should be of a durable and well contrived description; neither liable to be picked, like the common clumsy things now in use, nor spoiled by the effects of moisture; and two or three spare sets, at least, should be supplied, to replace such as may be injured on the voyage.

299It will be seen, on reference to the journal, that the system of moral restraint and instruction adopted, and the vigilance with which it was enforced, prevented the sailors from making any aggression until the voyage was more than half over; and that they were invited then only by the weak state of the prison; presenting scarcely any opposition to those who might wish to gain admission. It will also appear that some of the sailors were removed from the ship at Hobart Town, Van Diemen’s Land, for disorderly behaviour towards the prisoners: these men were afterwards sent up to Sydney, as prisoners, in another ship, but on their arrival there were set at liberty, without a single question being asked them, or the slightest investigation instituted. I confess I was desirous that the affair should have been inquired into at the time, when the allegations might have been confirmed or disproved by the testimony of those who had been eye witnesses of the transactions for which those men had been arrested; and satisfactory evidence of the circumstances of the whole voyage would then have been obtained, those who were most competent to give information being on the spot. This is the more to be regretted, because the practicability of moral reformation in those ships would have been proved beyond the possibility of cavil, if the prisons be properly secured, and the Surgeon Superintendent supported in the discharge of his duty, and in his endeavours to accomplish an object of such desirable and paramount importance.

It is not from the impregnable structure of the prison 300in a convict ship, that the great object of transportation is alone to be sought. The arm of the law, which deprives the convict of the power of committing mischief by sanctioning the coercive bolt or massy bar, can be as effectual in restraining the licentious seaman from transgressing the bounds of duty, and committing acts of violence towards the persons confined; such are powers of ordinary and every day efficacy. Will they, in the silent hour of night, in the lowering retreat of meditated guilt, reach the mind in its secret recesses, and confine its aberrations from rectitude? No: recourse must be had to means much more potent,—boundless as created space, which will embrace all the deviations of the soul, and, with a shepherd’s care, prevent its dangerous wanderings. Religious influence, the enlivening, all-pervading force of conscience must be called up to aid in checking criminal intention, to recall grave recollections of the past, and turn the soul to chastening, penitent reflection. Vain are all endeavours to amend, unless error be struck at by a fundamental, unshowy energy, to clear away effectually the noisome weeds that choke the paths of virtue.

Impressed with this conviction, I endeavoured to establish a moral and religious system of management on board the ships intrusted to my care; and as nothing of the kind was before in use[31], I feel ambitious to witness the general adoption of that, or any improvement 301upon it which will have the same humane purpose in view. Many well disposed and charitable persons, I know, have expressed their apprehension that permanent good from such a system cannot be established within the short period in which a voyage is performed from England to the colony: and that even could it be effected, the impression would be speedily effaced by the corrupting association with those less under the influence of reformation there. It must be allowed that the objection may have some weight, but I hope not so as to discourage the laudable attempt; for, were the good resulting even partial, operating to the reformation of a few only, yet how gratifying must it be in such a case! When, however, a better supported, more extensive trial is given to the system, I trust it will appear that the harvest will be bountiful, and will well repay the toil of cultivation.

The following facts may aid in giving incitement to future exertions of the same kind. In my recent visit to New South Wales, I availed myself of every means to ascertain how the prisoners who went out with me in the Neptune had behaved since their arrival, and I could hear of nine only, out of one hundred and seventy, who had been called before the magistrates to answer for ill conduct, during a period of two years and a half. Several of the number were recommended to situations of service immediately on their landing, and I did not learn that any of them had merited turning away. One individual came upwards of forty miles to see me, and brought a very satisfactory testimonial from his master, which I laid before the Governor, and requested that some indulgence might be given 302him; with which His Excellency most obligingly and readily complied. So far it is gratifying to know that the attempt at reformation, however feeble, has not been entirely without success.

On the subject of employment for prisoners during the voyage, much might be said; but its necessity and advantages are too numerous, and would render observation tedious, however appropriate. If employment be found useful in the Hulks, why should not its benefits be also tried on board of convict ships? Convicts will certainly be better fitted for industrious occupations in the colony, having been so employed upon their passage thither; and as they are sent to that country not to be maintained in idleness, why not inure them to habits of application previously? In the colony they have inducements to work,—food and an annual stipend; let them on board ship be so employed, as that a portion of what they earn may revert to themselves, and they will work cheerfully. Prisoners engaged at work are as much under the power of restraint as ever; they will, it is presumed, be much more orderly; nor can any reasonable fear be entertained of their contemplating mischief, when steadily occupied with what they must be convinced is intended to benefit themselves, especially if, at the same time, the effects of a moral and religious system operate upon their minds.

Of the same nature is the establishment of a school, not alone for children belonging to convicts, but for the instruction of junior offenders; for it will be found in almost every case of this description, that early depravity and ignorance are concomitants. The generality 303of young culprits derive their hardening career in crime, almost entirely from the want of religious instruction: it must therefore be not only wise and humane, but also a pleasure demanded by prudence and sound policy, to furnish them with the means of gaining moral instruction from its source, by teaching them to read that best of books, the Bible. Neither should those children be left without regular employment: they also will long enjoy the blessings thus arising from habits of industry.

Every one who has an interest in the welfare of the colony, as well as the friends of humanity, must feel some degree of anxiety on the subject of convict management, previously to their entering on those duties which are prescribed by their sentence. With regard to males, less concern is usually entertained, from their capability of sustaining severity of punishment, if necessary, in a higher degree; but as to females, corrective applications of that nature cannot be resorted to, to produce reformation of life. In proportion, then, as the difficulty of applying penal treatment exists, the more is prevention requisite to preclude its necessity: but unfortunately this is too little regarded; and to this circumstance may be, in a great measure, attributed that deplorable state of habitual dissoluteness, aggravated by heinous indulgence in open violation of decency, which prevails in the voyage to New South Wales.

The evil consequences to the colony, from this abuse, are innumerable. The continual disturbance of social connexions, and disregard of moral obligation, 304are not its only bad effects; the great hope of colonization is defeated: population is undoubtedly checked in its advance by such pernicious practices. This fact is proved by the concurrent testimony of all nations, and various arguments have been urged in illustration: but the correctness of the opinion needs very little to maintain its accuracy; the position may indeed be pronounced incontrovertible. In reply to this it may be said, that population in New South Wales has increased in a ratio greatly beyond that of any other country. The extraordinary salubrity of the climate, and other circumstances, may have contributed in a great degree to that remarkable increase, which appears unquestionably without parallel even in the periods of American colonization; but, were female virtue better protected, and cherished with becoming care, there can be not a shadow of doubt, that the population would be much greater than it is even now.

But the state of morals in the colony is not such as to encourage a hope that this respect for the sex is likely to be a prevailing sentiment, at least for some time to come; and, until that change shall have arrived, it is feared that few of the corrupt females who are transported thither will become reformed there: indeed it is hardly to be expected that they should, unless their minds have been fortified by salutary management previously to their arrival, as afterwards there is not a moment allowed them for reflection. The same violent passions which raged uncontrolled before and during the voyage, so far from subsiding, 305are worked up to excess by wretches of the very worst description, many unhappily of their own sex, who beset them with temptation to their utter ruin.

From the best information I was able to obtain, it appears that the proportion of males to that of females is somewhat above six to one. It will be asked, perhaps, Why is not marriage encouraged, and how happens it that any woman can remain single for any time, the proportion being so small? Marriages certainly do take place to the utmost extent of propriety; and investigation of the circumstances in many cases, if deemed necessary, would, it is apprehended, painfully prove that those limits are frequently exceeded. Marriages are continually taking place between men and women whose wives and husbands are living in England; some, it is asserted on good authority, in the colony under fictitious names. But although this breach of law is punishable at home by transportation, little inquiry or complaint is made concerning it in the colony, and punishment is seldom inflicted for its commission, owing probably to its being rarely brought under judicial cognizance by those concerned.

Marriage occurs also very often for the purpose of getting a woman out of the Factory; that is, letting her loose on society, without the least intention of the parties living together, save for a few days to cover appearances. It is known to happen sometimes, that such connexions are formed by making a contract beforehand, that the woman, wife so called, should appropriate a certain quantum of the wages of sin for the support of the man who thus espouses her! In this state the degraded victim of sensuality is often 306transferred from one master to another, bandied about in this shocking and unnatural way, until the mere figure is all that remains of the human being. Should intemperance, which is always observable in such cases, and excessive extravagance, impair or totally destroy the scanty means of the protector for the time being, the female so engaged looks without concern on the misfortune of which she, perhaps, has been the principal cause, and if another paramour offer, she attaches herself to him with indifference, and so the career of guilt meets with but little interruption.

In several conversations on this disgraceful subject with some well informed men, whose judgement in other matters is deserving of respect, I was assured that no remedy of immediate efficacy could be applied to these evils; that time alone could weaken their malignancy, and that they would wear out of themselves! This shocking conclusion, almost amounting to despair of their eradication, was made by men who daily witnessed these vile practices, and lamented their enormity and prevalence, fully sensible of their miserable consequences.—But the performance of these odious tragedies is not left entirely to the convicts. Others, whose stations ought to claim some degree of respect, seem to vie with those degraded captives for the pre-eminence in guilt, many of them proudly wearing the laurels thus honourably acquired: for these enormities, which depravity has made familiar, even palliation is insolently attempted, and that too on grounds sometimes unpardonably offensive to decency.

I have heard men of reputed good sense and discrimination, 307both here and in New South Wales, argue with much earnestness, and a feeling of exultation which I would willingly consider not real, that the females who have been under the management of the Ladies’ Committee generally behave worse during the voyage, and after their arrival in the colony, than those from any other prison whatever; inferring that all the disinterested and zealous exertions of that amiable association have been unproductive of any the least good.—Among those in the colony holding, or at least professing to hold, this opinion, a general feeling seemed to prevail, that all efforts made to form those unfortunate females to habits of virtue, propriety, and industry, were nugatory, and calculated rather to injure than promote the interests of the colony. The very endeavours to prevent illicit intercourse upon the voyage were treated as if they had a tendency to render the women unfit for their proper situations in the places to which they were going! They maintained that the character of these females is utterly reprobate, beyond the possibility of being reclaimed, and that it is therefore useless to think of reforming them,—that they should be abandoned to their wretched lot.

So long as persons holding such sentiments, and acting upon them, would render the subjects of their obloquy incapable of improvement by rekindling their profligacy and contributing to their misfortune, and that such conduct can be followed as an example, so long indeed it is vain to hope that any instruction in prisons can effect permanent reformation. It would not be doing violence to probability, nor, I think, exceeding 308the bounds of charity, to assert that the principles by which such abettors of vice are actuated are referable to licentious propensities, which the most liberal of them would, perhaps, be unwilling to acknowledge as belonging to himself. Why then would they,—for the evidence is strong against them,—desire to continue those wretched women in a state of debasement? Is it that themselves may be allowed to pass unnoticed amidst the general depravity which must be the certain consequence of such a state of things? These men would be stout advocates for the baneful principle of utility described by Hume, or the still more pernicious one of general good so strenuously recommended by Godwin.

While such principles are deemed the basis of moral law, it is impossible to calculate on any other than the most destructive results, as no other can be reasonably expected from a demoralized population, amongst whom honesty and decency are in perpetual violation. Can any reprobation, then, be thought too severe, of that unmanly, ungenerous conduct, which, by fostering vice in the advocacy of self-example, would render a future generation more immoral than the past, and lead to complete anarchy of all the rational powers of the mind? It has been well observed by a late anonymous writer, that “whoever weakens in society the veneration for morality, is a traitor to his country; and whoever diminishes the influence of religion in the world, as a rule of daily conduct, is a traitor to his God.”—The language is as forcible as the truth is incontrovertible.

The assertion, however, on which so much stress 309is laid,—that the women from Newgate behave worse than those from other prisons,—is deserving of some examination. If we reflect on the state of society in London, and how infinitely more numerous are the opportunities to crime and its consequences than elsewhere; the dissoluteness which always exists in a crowded metropolis; and the daring depravity that there marks the gradations of offence; if we carefully survey the life of “a regular London female thief who has passed through every stage of guilt, who has spent her youth in prostitution, and her maturer age in theft and knavery; whose every friend and connexion are accomplices;” one of those who are “the refuse of the capital; that is, the very worst description of criminals, committed for the very worst excesses of crime; women who had been frequent inmates of a prison, and with whom thieving was ‘their daily bread:’” if these circumstances, I say, are duly considered, they must be admitted, by every unprejudiced individual, to form grounds of difficulty in the endeavours to reclaim offenders from their wickedness in such a society, beyond, greatly beyond the less hardened habits of provincial iniquity; and should it even appear that the former behave much worse than the latter on board a ship, it can afford very little cause for ill-judging malignity to triumph. Could aught else, even then, be shown, but that the time those unfortunate women were under the guidance of the Ladies’ Committee was too short for the completion of their benevolent purpose? Is it reasonable to expect that long-rooted habits of idleness and vice, impressed on the mind from the first dawning of perception, can be broken through, 310and the salutary work of reformation perfected in the few weeks or months they may have been favoured with those pious attentions? But should it be proved that the conduct of the women from Newgate is at least as good, if not better than what is exhibited by those from the country prisons, to what cause shall be ascribed an alteration so rapid, and so little to be expected;—an alteration amounting to almost an entire change of natural disposition? It is impossible for scepticism, or prejudice itself, to assign any other cause than the influence of moral precept so kindly and unceasingly inculcated by the Committee.

The women from Newgate formed one third of the entire number sent out in the Morley; and I can declare conscientiously that their conduct was not worse than that of an equal number of the others: on the contrary, the effects of exhortation were more observable in their manner, in a very remarkable degree; and during the voyage, whenever it was found necessary to rebuke any of them, the mere mention of any of the Ladies of the Committee had the effect of bringing them to a sense of their error, which in almost every instance was attended with profound sorrow, a circumstance certainly not always observable in their companions. I can further assert that there was infinitely more riot, wickedness, and abandonment, amongst seven women who were permitted to accompany the soldiers that formed the guard in the Neptune in 1817, than amongst all the female convicts in the Morley put together: nay, in stating this fact, I feel that the latter are injured by being brought into such a comparison.

311In a conversation on this subject at Van Diemen’s Land with Doctor Bromley, who was Surgeon Superintendent in the Lord Wellington, he assured me that he had less trouble in that ship with the women who came from Newgate than all the rest. Three of these very women on their arrival were received into the service of Mrs. Governor Macquarie, where their conduct was so uniformly correct as to merit that lady’s approbation; a circumstance so uncommon, that she felt it a duty to acquaint Mrs. Fry of the happy change. Mrs. Macquarie was prevented from writing by ill health at the time I left the colony, but desired me to communicate the fact as she had herself intended. That several of those who went out in the Lord Wellington behaved very ill after their arrival, does not militate against the system of reform adopted by the Ladies’ Committee; nor would my opinion of its invaluable efficacy be altered in the least, were I told that every one of those who were under my care has been ruined in the colony, because I know what a state of depravity prevails there. Minds much stronger than theirs have yielded to temptation; and in no country is that evil more concentrated and destructive than in New South Wales.

With respect to the rising generation in the colony, I have not sufficient data to enable me to speak with certainty; but it may be stated that, notwithstanding the boundless depravity of the parents, the children, generally speaking, are well disposed, given to industry, and of religious habits. They are represented as being passionately fond of instruction; and many of them, who are not blessed with the means of obtaining 312information from more direct and legitimate sources, known to make successful efforts to learn to read and write, without any assistance.

This statement so much resembles that of a bitter fountain producing sweet water, that credence to its accuracy can hardly be expected; yet I had opportunities of satisfying myself of its truth in four or five instances; and I was told of a great many others on testimony which I have no reason to disbelieve, but I would not be pledged for their authenticity. An anecdote related by the Reverend Mr. Cartwright, when he and I accompanied the Governor in his late excursion to the newly discovered country, may be relied on. This gentleman is the resident clergyman at Liverpool, where on Sunday evening he usually gives instruction to all the children who choose to come to his house. It happened on one of those occasions, that heavy rains had caused an overflow of the river, so as to render it impossible for any one to wade across, consequently he did not expect any of those children whose parents lived on the opposite side: to his astonishment, however, some of them came. On inquiring how they got over, it appeared that they had tied their clothes upon their heads, and swam across, intending to return also in the same manner when the instructions they came to receive were finished.

In more advanced age, these principles are further developed, and a great many of the young men show themselves desirous of avoiding the errors of their parents: but the impression on my mind, from the best information I could collect, is not so favourable with regard to the grown-up females, who, probably from 313want of that instruction which is more accessible to the other sex,—I speak of the lower classes,—are corrupted by baneful association and bad example. In this particular, indeed, the statements of some respectable persons, desirous rather of extenuating than magnifying, are strongly corroborative of the fact. It was not extraordinary, they assured me, to see a young woman of this description living a few months, first with one man, then with another, and so on with five or six, fixing on one at last, whom she thought proper to marry.

In this state of midnight gloom, which envelops this new and interesting portion of the world, who will not delight to find that the light of the Gospel is about to shed its refulgence, to dispel the dark clouds of ignorance and irreligion which blind the understanding, and, withering in their deadly shade the energies of the mind, pervert the noblest impulses of the heart? Bible Societies, benevolent associations, and schools both public and private, are springing up in the midst of this unhallowed chaos, by means of which the pure principles of Christianity will be disseminated, and their benign ascendency over corrupt temptations diffused through many hardened and profligate minds.

The British public generally, and the colonists individually, are under the most heavy obligations to those persons whose active benevolence and liberal contributions have laid the foundation of establishments on which general prosperity and happiness will eminently rise. It would be as unjust as difficult to conceal the distinguished leading exertions of the Honourable Judge-Advocate Wylde, in forming 314these excellent institutions: to his transcendent talents and unwearied zeal every lover of social happiness must hold himself indebted. For it is impossible that any man possessing the faculty of reason, be his rank and fortune ever so great, can feel indifferent as to the state of the great body politic: it is, indeed, those of large property who should feel the strongest interest in the propagation of those principles which alone can render possession even for an hour perfectly secure. What would be the consequence in that respect, were a whole community to shake off all the restraints imposed by the consciousness of moral obligation?

A retrospect of the revolution in France will furnish an answer to this question,—one which ought to fill the most insensible with awful reflection. The baneful writings of Bayle, Voltaire, Rousseau, Hume, and others of that stamp, prepared the minds of the French people for the reception of infidelity and irreligion; and their impious labours were further aided by those of Helvetius, D’Alembert, Condorcet, Raynal, Diderot, Paine, &c. These enemies of God and man achieved their hellish work under the specious pretext of LIBERTY, or “perfecting the new philosophy.”—Accordingly, Christianity was abolished; the existence of the Deity denied, and even the mention of His Name, except in blasphemy and execration, proscribed and punished with death, by a law which the rage of impiety kept in force nearly four years. At that dreadful period, marriage was declared an unsocial monopoly, whilst by another law, as if such enactments could decide the truth of the case, death was declared nothing but an eternal sleep. What an admirable 315salvo to the guilt of the catastrophe!—And what has been that catastrophe? They murdered their legitimate King,—butchered the nobility and clergy,—and sluiced the scaffold with the blood of thousands of every age, sex, and denomination. Property of every kind abandoned, became the spoil of those assassins, who without regard to “general good” divided the whole among themselves.

With those scenes of blood fresh in his recollection, who in this country could rest in security, or feel assured that either his life or property was out of danger, if every wretch or ruffian deaf to religion and moral duty were allowed to follow the impulse of guilty passion, without alarm, or dread of the Divine vengeance? Farewell the influence of law and justice when such is the state of immorality in a populous community, that impiety is the order of the day, and no regard is paid to the dictates of conscience and its obligations. Even Voltaire, when among his associates, used to prevent them from uttering impious and blasphemous expressions before servants, “lest,” said he, “they should cut all our throats.”

No person, surely, will pretend to say that physical power and daring intrepidity do not exist in as great a degree in England as they ever were known in France; or that an infuriated mob here would be less dangerous than in that country. This narrowed view of the question extends so far only as regards worldly prudence: if examined more broadly, the duty will be found paramount and imperative on all, to guard with jealous care the principles on which our social edifice is raised, and which under the British Constitution 316deservedly excites the admiration of the world. But if the bases of this glorious structure be shaken or impaired, that which is the production of the aggregate wisdom of ages must crumble into dust. Society could no longer then exist, there being no bond to link together the disunited members; there would in fact be nothing for which existence could be desirable. Odious anarchy would stifle in blood every feeling that could render our labours useful, and life a blessing: the affections between parents, children, and brethren, would be deadened, and the treasures of friendship devastated by selfish rapacity.

“Crimes of every description,” says Dr. Colquhoun, “have their origin in the vicious and immoral habits of the people; in the little attention paid to the education of the inferior orders; and in the want of some plan for regulating the morals of this useful class of the community.” No one, it is presumed, will controvert the truth of this sentiment; but while the necessity of educating the inferior orders is generally admitted, very few come forward willingly to engage in that important task, nay, I will call it positive duty. Should it be attributed to the lower class as a crime, that their parents were too poor or too profligate to procure for them the benefits of education, sufficient at least to enable them to peruse the Scriptures, and thereby be impressed with the obligations of Christianity,—their duty to God and their neighbour?

It will be said, perhaps, that the inculcation of those duties belongs exclusively to the Clergy. Persons maintaining this opinion are, I fear, but little influenced by the true spirit of charity, although the letter or 317external signs of it may be familiar to them. It is, in truth, the duty of every one who is qualified for the task, whether clergyman, or layman, whether Protestant or Catholic, Episcopalian or Presbyterian, Methodist or Independent, or be his Christian creed what it may, to instruct his fellow creature “in the way he should go,” and, if found ignorant or erring, to put him right if he can: no sect or denomination of Christians can, without manifest injustice, be excluded from the labour of philanthropy.

Having described the condition of the females sent to the Factory at Parramatta, it would be as unnecessary as painful to comment further on the inaptitude of that establishment, in its present circumstances, to produce any reformatory effects; particularly as a hope is confidently indulged that the existing evils will soon be lessened, if not wholly obviated, by the erection of another Factory in the same neighbourhood. This building, which was expected to be ready for the reception of the female convicts about last February, has given rise to expectations of its utility very sanguine indeed, but in no respect exceeding what I would look for, were it in the power of the local Government to ensure its success commensurately with the design. The very liberal manner in which His Excellency Governor Macquarie has invariably come forward with his purse, as well as patronage, on all occasions to advance any measure conducive to public good, must convince every one of his devotedness to the welfare of the colony over which he presides, and which has undoubtedly acquired, under his administration, innumerable benefits highly important and imperishable. But when the character of those persons is considered, to whom 318of necessity, for want of better, the execution of what by them are thought trifling concerns is intrusted, an apprehension will strongly intrude, that many of the evils now complained of in the old Factory will be transferred to the new, under the care of the present overseers.

As matters now stand, to indulge a hope of reformation, if the present management be persisted in, would be only to court disappointment: the necessity of substituting some other more efficacious must be evident. With a view of contributing some little assistance to accomplish this most desirable end, I beg leave to offer a few suggestions, which it is hoped will be considered as given disinterestedly.

I would therefore venture to recommend that choice be made of some elderly man and woman of respectability, in England, whose moral and religious character can be steadily relied on, to be sent out and have charge of the new Factory. Two such persons might readily be found, who for a moderate remuneration would discharge the duties of that important trust with fidelity; and being independent of local connexions, prejudices and interests, their appointment would at once put an end to those iniquitous collusions by which the vile projects in speculation, and the whole tissue of existing abuses are maintained.

Strongly convinced by experience of the necessity and advantages of classification, I would advise its adoption as a preliminary and indispensable step to success, distinguishing thereby the inmates in reference to the degrees of reformation they evince. A code of rules should also be prepared, of which undeviating observance ought to be enforced. Those recommended 319by the Committee for the improvement of prison discipline, &c., are admirably calculated to ensure all the benefits that can reasonably be hoped for from imprisonment, and with some modification, which local circumstances will require, may be generally adopted.

Some enlightened and well disposed persons whom I had frequent opportunities of consulting on this and other such subjects, approved much of the above suggestions, knowing how greatly their application was demanded by necessity; and their approbation was gratifying, particularly that of one gentleman, who is decidedly the first authority in the colony for legal information and personal experience. This gentleman, whose name has been already mentioned, strongly advised a Factory to be established remote from every town, in the Cow-pastures, as being on every account most eligible; where there could be no opportunities for the persons confined to procure spirits, or be deteriorated by the seductive influence of temptation, or vicious example. In that establishment, which should be altogether probationary, the prisoners, sent from the ships as they arrive, might be detained, each individual being obliged to wear an uniform dress distinguishing her class, which ought not to be laid aside during the time of continuing at that place.

It is also recommended that none of the inmates of the probationary establishment should be assigned as servants directly therefrom; but as their advancement to reformation is proved, and they become distinguished for good conduct, they should meet with encouragement. This may be shown by removing them to the Factory at Parramatta, which ought to be made a depôt for the well behaved only, whence the settler 320might have servants supplied them on making proper application. These arrangements being in perfect accordance with the sentiments of persons best acquainted with the true state of affairs, and the wants of society in the colony, are respectfully submitted for consideration. The measures are few and simple; but if they be adopted in time, and duly enforced, little doubt is entertained of their producing a change beneficial to the whole community.


From the foregoing arguments, grounded on facts, which I am satisfied are irrefutable, the following inferences may be deduced:

First.—If the object of transportation to New South Wales be only the punishment of the criminal, it is seldom effected in the proportion contemplated by the law; as many of those deserving the most rigorous treatment live there much more comfortably than they could have done at home, and realize large fortunes: while others, with not a tenth of their turpitude, are consigned to misery and ruin.

Secondly.—In the case of Females, the merited quantum of punishment is equally uncertain in its infliction, though always excessively severe, owing to their abandoned mode of life.

Lastly.—But if the scope of transportation be, what it ought to be,—the reformation of the offender; it has, with the greater number of males, been unsuccessful; and with regard to females, it has very rarely indeed been attained.


Reflections on Seduction.

Seduction, in the various baneful consequences hence arising to society and its moral disposition, is so intimately connected with the scope of my present general inquiries, that I cannot forbear to give a brief sketch of some of its most obvious evils, though a full description of the character would far exceed the limits of my present purpose; and to describe the pernicious consequences of that crime in all its baseness of effect would, I candidly confess, require abilities far superior to mine.

The British Constitution, and the salutary statutes made for the protection of life and property, have for many ages, one delights to contemplate, become deservedly the boast of every true-born Englishman: under the benignant influence of their mild atmosphere, the most extensive field has been opened for the cultivation of all those virtues that aggrandize a state, or can render private life amiable; and the combined powers of both, have united to excite the admiration and call forth the envy of surrounding nations.

The politician and the moralist behold with equal pleasure the glorious era, which a few years since successfully crowned our efforts to break the detested chain that tyranny had forged for the general enslavement 322of the world. The lover of science and the patient investigator of nature’s hidden laws, in other countries, must acknowledge with mingled feelings of pleasure and regret, that in no climate under heaven does genius flourish as in Britain; and under the influence of this impression, and in quest of knowledge, they are travelling daily from every corner of the globe to our favoured shores.

While, however, we exultingly contemplate our advancement, and that distinguished eminence we have risen to in the scale of kingdoms, shall we inertly fail to examine if some wheel or new power might not yet be added, that would tend to the improvement and perfection of the vast machine? In the multiplicity of legislative measures prudently enacted by our forefathers for the defence of our property, and the protection of liberty both civil and religious, is it not surprising that they should have thought it unnecessary to pass some law to guard, and some barrier to fence around, that greatest and most interesting of national glories, the chastity of our daughters? To me, I confess, this oversight, as it seems to be, is utterly unaccountable.

Let any dispassionate and well regulated mind take into active consideration the injury arising from the commission of those crimes which the statutes denominate petit and grand larceny, or even felony, with the overwhelming misery into which thousands of amiable and industrious families are plunged by the destructive seducer, and conscientiously declare which of them he thinks most pernicious to the peace and general interests of society; or which of those abhorred 323characters he would least dread to suffer from himself:—whether he would rather be deprived of part of his property, or have a lovely daughter, the pride of his life, ruined and debauched. Let us suppose a case as every day it too unhappily occurs in real life.

The miserable father of a family, worn down by misfortune, poverty and ill health, has to look upon a virtuous wife, and an interesting group of innocent children, whom his utmost industry cannot save from the merciless pressure of squalid rags worse than nakedness, and starvation worse than death. He beholds them pining away without a friendly hand near that will supply a morsel of bread, or even administer the imaginary relief of consoling pity: their reiterated cry for food pierces his agonized heart, and in feelings bordering on distraction he rushes forth to procure for them a temporary respite from the grave, determined to seize the first eatable that falls in his way: perhaps he breaks into a neighbour’s field, whence he carries off a sheep, or a pig, to protract the immediate destruction of his perishing family. For this, on detection, the laws of his country may sentence him to death, or at best the timely mercy of his gracious Sovereign may remit the punishment to transportation.

On the other hand, mark the seducer. Destitute of the principles of religion and humanity, he may wantonly, and with relentless soul, destroy the happiness and peace of a whole family, in basely undermining the virtue of an innocent and valued daughter, the flattering, brightest hope of their life,—the prop of their age, and on whose talents or industry the whole family were perhaps then immediately depending for 324bread. Insidiously and cautiously has the infamous attack been carried on; and if foiled in his first cruel attempt, her faith must be shaken, and her understanding perverted by specious arguments, wicked sophistry, and the deadly poison of irreligion, before she can be led by imperceptible degrees into guilt, misery, and certain present perdition, whatever fears may belong to the hereafter. What punishment can be found for the miscreant who thus deliberately and maliciously poisons the heart’s blood of unoffending innocence? Why, in nine cases out of ten, none at all! Humanity stands abashed.—Justice answers not.—Pity, in surprise and indignation, exclaims, Can it be?—In England too?—Can it, alas! be true?

Cold-blooded monster! with refined cruelty he often selects his intended victim from that station where fortune has denied not only the luxuries but the necessaries of life; and where the want of those comforts can only be compensated and rendered tolerable in heaven’s choicest blessing, a virtuous and contented mind. The abandoned sensualist knows but too well the poor man’s inability to vindicate in a court of law the violated purity of his once innocent and happy daughter. But what redress could he obtain even were he opulent? An action can only be brought against him who has unmercifully shut out every ray of future joy, for the mere loss of his child’s personal services, quaintly denominated “per quod servitium amisit;” and at best recover but a paltry adjudication in money for that which is above all price:—a sorry remuneration, truly, for such a loss! It is in fact a cruel mockery of justice, and the triumph of crime.

325Contrast the narrow and grovelling spirit that seems to characterize this most miserably defective principle of legal justice, with that noble independence and manly defence which dictated Magna Charta and the Bill of Rights! It is far from my intention to cast the slightest shade on the memory of our ancestors, many of whom thought no price too great for liberty, often indeed purchased even with their own blood, that they might bequeath it to posterity unsullied and unfettered, the legitimate birthright and glory of their future sons. But where our forefathers have done so much for us, shall we not, in kindred spirit, attempt to do something for ourselves, or for our children? Shall we suffer the seducer to walk forth in open day, or at the midnight hour, to carry devastation into every cottage, and to ravage with impunity the sacred sanctuaries of virtue? Forbid it justice,—forbid it humanity,—forbid it Heaven!

I cannot believe that one father in a thousand has ever turned his mind to the contemplation of the direful effects on society, of indulgence in this ferocious and unlawful passion; or the general voice of mankind would have been raised to hunt from their abodes the hellish tiger in human form: the hand of power, too, would surely have been lifted up to shield the innocent from his fell assault. Might not the seducer, in strict justice, be classed in malice prepense and principle with the most sanguinary murderer? On comparison, it is my firm conviction that the former is the author of more pain and misery to the great family of mankind.

326In the sketch of such a character my labour might be in some degree facilitated by a short account of one who, a very few years since, figured very conspicuously in the gay world; and presuming, therefore, on the idea, I venture to insert it. Would to God! that the miseries I shall have to unfold existed only in imagination; but, alas! fancy will have no place in the working of the dark picture.

The detail was written by the gentleman himself, principally during a twelvemonth’s confinement from a wound received in a duel. Of this he ultimately died; but not before the hideous forms of vice and crime had been exposed to his terrified view in all their naked deformity. At the time this melancholy scene took place I was in India; and on my return a packet containing his journal, and an elegant copy of the Bible, which I had many years before advised him to peruse, was put into my hand by a friend of his. This bequest, with the following letter, was marked for me by his own hand a few days before his dissolution:

“——, May 15th, 1816.

“However widely, my much valued friend, the theory and practice of our lives may have differed, I flatter myself that at this moment our sentiments are the same. That there is a just God, I never once doubted; and that he is merciful, and willing to pardon the sins of the penitent, it is now my interest firmly to believe. My career is nearly finished—I have languished long, and been very miserable; for, until within a few months, I never dared encourage a hope of pardon from Heaven; and although my mind is become more 327tranquil, I still fear that I am a great way from salvation, though I feel I am but a step from the grave. I can now see that your reasons for avoiding me were just, but I think they were cruel. Great God! What have I been—what am I to be? Gracious Heaven! If the very little you knew of me could make you avoid me, what will you think after reading my journal? I have often intended to burn it—I wish you would do so: yet, it may be useful in warning some fellow-creature of the damnation which the labours of my life had industriously prepared. If you think so, dispose of it as you like.—My false shame is all gone. I care not now who knows my wickedness. But should you ever make it public—oh! spare my family—my beloved, wretched mother:—happy for us both had I never been born. I wish you were now with me; but, it was my misfortune through life never to have a friend—and I neglected Him who in death would not have forsaken me.

“I leave this, together with the journal of my perdition, and the blessed book you so long ago recommended, in the care of L. G., who promises to deliver them to you. Have I fallen so low in your estimation that you exclude me entirely from calling you friend? Alas! I never had a friend. My proud heart could never sue for any man’s pity; but I beseech you not do deny me yours. O pray for me.—May your life be as happy as mine has been miserable.—Adieu,—Adieu!

“—— F——.”

The only regret I feel in giving these interesting 328memoirs to the public is the fear, indeed almost the painful certainty, that the wounds of his respectable family may thus be made to bleed afresh, in the recollection of his errors. I persuade myself, however, that they will acquit me of any unworthy motive, much less wanton desire to inflict unnecessary pain: rather a thousand times would I pour into their afflicted bosoms the healing balm of friendly sympathy and pity; and whilst I pursue the dismal narrative, my own heart will remain no stranger to the feelings of sorrow due to the fate of my unfortunate hopeless friend.

Before I proceed to any extract from this curious biography, it may not be out of place just to glance at his early life and education.

F—— was the only child of a country gentleman of large fortune, and ancient family, still more distinguished for morality and virtue. At the early age of five years, this youth gave extraordinary proofs of mental energy, having in the short space of four days committed to memory one hundred and five verses of the New Testament, which he used to repeat to his father without a single mistake. With increasing years his genius expanded, and evinced a readiness and power of conception clearly reflecting talents of the first order. It was natural for parents to be proud of such a child, and to determine that his education should be fitted to his capacity. A tutor was accordingly provided, well qualified for the important task, who discharged the duty with honour and fidelity.

At fourteen, having read the whole of the classics, he was already qualified for entering the university, 329and made considerable progress in mathematics, logic, history, and painting. Being considered too young for college, a year was suffered to elapse, during which he was instructed in music, dancing, and fencing, and also became acquainted with French. In every thing he undertook, the utmost expectation was realized. Thus unusually accomplished, he went to college, and remained there five years; during which period his industry appears not to have relaxed; his avidity for knowledge, on the contrary, increased until he had drunk deeply of every source of information and knowledge.

On his return home he applied himself with such diligence to the cultivation of science, particularly chemistry and astronomy, that his health became impaired, whole nights being spent in a little observatory that had been constructed under his own direction.

That his mind should have all the polish it was capable of receiving, his father wished him to travel; to which, as in every thing else, he at once implicitly yielded. The short peace of Amiens furnished an opportunity for gratifying this wish, which they were the more anxious to see carried into effect, as an elderly gentleman of great scientific and literary attainments, about to proceed to Paris, offered the advantages of his experience and protection.

Dazzled with the lustre which accompanies the high-sounding term “philosopher,” the parents never inquired into the religious sentiments of the man whom they had chosen as the companion of their highly-gifted son: this sad inadvertence, in the issue 330proved his ruin. The religious principles, in truth, of this man, if religious principles he could be said to have, hung so very loosely about him, that he might be said to live in a sort of practical atheism: every action of his life evinced his belief that there could be no God, nor Governor of the universe; openly abjuring all dependence on that great Being by whose goodness and mercy alone he was permitted to exist.

The first lesson he endeavoured to impress on the generous mind of his pupil, was the non-existence of any omniscient eye to observe, or any omnipotent arm to punish; and that, as life was short, wisdom chiefly consisted in filling it up with as much pleasure as possible. Here it must be acknowledged he was treading upon tender ground; for though religion is by far the most important part of education, in the present case it had been the only one that had been neglected, and here alone could the assault have been made with any hope of success.

Introductory letters and other necessary documents being procured, the travellers commenced their journey. They were amongst the first from England who arrived in Paris, where their introductions, together with that politeness for which the French people have ever been remarked, and the unbounded festivity which always attends cessation of hostilities between contending nations, ensured them a reception not less hospitable than distinguished. Endowed with uncommon talents that gave an irresistible charm to their conversation, the society of both was courted; and neither of them showed much reluctance to drink deep at the voluptuous spring, which too often contaminates 331the morals of the unreflecting and gay in all countries, and by which the higher ranks of the French have been found to be particularly corrupted.

The accomplishments and agreeable qualities of the reputed philosopher made the pupil at first look up to him as an oracle; but, often staggered by his openly avowed sentiments of infidelity, he could not immediately reconcile that philosophy which destroys all distinctions between right and wrong: for, although his religious education had been so little attended to, still that little furnished many stumbling-blocks, which for a long time could not be got over; and he could not easily be brought to think that debauching the wife, or seducing the daughter, of a friend or benefactor, were not crimes. In maintaining these opinions, his arguments were often troublesome and embarrassing to the learned sceptic, who would either artfully evade the question, or decline the argument by some dogmatical assertion, which, if it did not convince, at least always silenced his young opponent.

Encircled by temptation in every form of allurement, seduced by pleasure the most bewitching, and blinded by passions at all times strong, but now more highly still inflamed by the sophistry and example of his vile associate, he, in a fatal moment of precipitate impulse, destroyed the peace of one who had treated him with the tenderness of a son, committing, it must with pain be confessed, the most deadly injury that human friendship can suffer, or hellish wickedness inflict—the violation of the marriage bed.

Thus was the noble faculty of reason disgracefully sacrificed on the polluted altar of sensuality. In 332a few hours, however, reflection returned, and conscience began to resume her empire, and remorse to sting his soul. He would have made the only reparation in his power by a speedy retreat; for he could not, as he declared, again look on the friend whom he had so injured, without the danger of annihilation. His own words are forcibly expressive:

“The sense of this crime,” he says, “was twisted round my heart like a serpent of hell, and the recollection still freezes my soul. The enormity of my guilt was magnified by the unexampled hospitality and friendship I experienced from them both. Their confidence was unlimited, and I repaid it with base ingratitude. For weeks afterwards an idea haunted me, that the first time the husband’s eye met mine, the wrath of God would consume me from the face of the earth. I would have fled from the fatal spot, as from a devouring pestilence; but I foolishly allowed myself to be overruled by W., who has been the murderer of every soul that had the misfortune to fall in his way. This is not the language of invective, nor do I think it uncharitable, for his crimes are of so deep a dye as to put all power of exaggeration at defiance. Most men endeavour to frame some excuse for their errors, but even this negative virtue W. never arrived at: he had no other motive for his villainy, than the malignant pleasure of seeing misery widely diffused.”

Upwards of a month had elapsed before this execrable old monster W. could give up a pursuit almost as infamous, though not quite so destructive in its effects, as that which scaled the debasement of his pupil, 333and the amiable family in which they had both been entertained for nearly three months. Several circumstances had occurred to render any longer stay in Paris exceedingly irksome, and he prudently suggested to his pupil the propriety of visiting Bourdeaux, whither they retired somewhat abruptly.

On their arrival in that city, they found that letters of introduction, which they expected from England, had not arrived: this they thought would occasion no great inconvenience, as W. was quite at home here, having formerly spent some years amongst the learned and the dissolute, to whom he now repaired: but, to his disappointment, some of them were dead, and many of the rest dispersed in various parts of the world. The travellers were therefore obliged to seek that accommodation at a hotel, which ill-requited hospitality had so readily afforded them in Paris.

The innkeeper had a young niece of interesting appearance, who was on the eve of being married to a man whom she tenderly loved. Returning from the house of God, where she had been attending divine worship, and where she had received the holy sacrament, the unsuspecting girl in a luckless moment fell under the basilisk glance of this veteran in iniquity, who immediately destined her for destruction. Flushed with the greatness of his project, so worthy of a philosopher, he hastened to his less hardened companion, and unfolded the grand scheme with as much self-exultation as if he had discovered a new planet. The generous mind of his pupil, once noble and pure, was not yet sufficiently corrupted to hear the diabolical disclosure without indignation. He declared 334that the vengeance of a guilty conscience still rankled in his heart; for, although he had used every effort to stifle or dispel the painful remembrance of his crimes in Paris, he was tormented continually. He applied the golden rule of “doing to others as he would that others should do unto him,” which for the present put an end to the discussion.

Meanwhile the expected letters from England had arrived, which procured them admission into the higher walks of life, and apparently diverted their attention from meaner objects: but this was not the case. W. was inflexibly bent on robbing the innocent girl of what could not enrich him, yet would leave her “poor indeed.” An unforeseen accident favoured his purpose. The intended husband was taken dangerously ill; and W., who had studied medicine not only as an amusement but also as an accomplishment, was induced, by motives of pure humanity of course, to give his opinion in consultation with other physicians. He used often to call at the Inn to console the weeping bride elect, and by enumerating the favourable changes in her lover’s complaint he succeeded in securing to himself her friendship and gratitude. Sleepless nights and anxiety of mind brought on an affection of the eyes, for which, in a friendly way, he gave her a prescription, and most kindly offered his further services. She got better; but her general health declined, and he recommended her removal to some convenient cottage in the outskirts of the city, where she might have the benefit of country air, and the society of her friends.

This was the master-stroke of his plot. The proud 335virtue of his pupil was now greatly subdued; but, to fit him for his infernal purpose with double certainty, W. engaged him in a party of pleasure, from which he took care he should not return sober, and, after inflaming his lustful passions, introduced him to the chamber of his unconscious victim. Thus was accomplished the ruin of a virtuous girl prepared for destruction by the medicinal agency of this broker in turpitude.

During the perpetration of this outrage, the unhappy sufferer was in a state of total insensibility; but when the effects of the drugs that had been given to her began to subside, and returning day exposed her situation, in the arms of a man whom she had never before seen, her heart died within her. The involuntary instrument of her undoing endeavoured to restore her; but his efforts proving ineffectual, he dispatched a messenger for W., who on his arrival administered some stimulus, and carried his pupil to a cock-fight. They both returned in the evening, for the purpose, it would appear, of repeating the scene of the former night. They found the wretched girl recovered from her swoon, it is true; but they also found that her reason had forsaken the polluted tenement: a state of the most deplorable idiocy had supervened!

Here the journal is abruptly broken off, and in no part of it is the infamous W. again mentioned, except in a note on a slip of paper written in red ink and affixed with wafers to the last leaf, which may best, perhaps, be inserted here.

“The conduct of W., from the unfortunate day I 336quitted England with him, was such as I could not have expected from a fiend of hell. His breath was contagious, and he never opened his mouth but to wither and consume.”

How soon after this base transaction the travellers separated, I have no means of ascertaining; but it is certain they did not leave Bourdeaux together; for, about three weeks afterwards, W. returned to England, and his unfortunate pupil embarked for Marseilles, where he arrived with satisfaction after a short voyage. His time at this place appears to have been spent more rationally and usefully than it had hitherto been in France. His remarks on the state of literature and science, together with the “empty-headed, would-be philosophers,” as he terms them, of Marseilles, are strikingly demonstrative of the force of his mind when directed to any worthy pursuit. After a stay of about three weeks, (he is seldom minute in dates,) he embarked for Toulon, where he staid ten days, and made a drawing of the harbour and fortifications, unobserved by any of the officers or soldiers by whom he was always attended.

An English ship about to sail for Naples accommodated him with a passage, for which, he observes, the Master would not accept of any recompense. His own words are significantly expressive on this occasion: “This rude but worthy son of Neptune possessed the inestimable treasure of a truly honest English heart; insensible of personal danger even to hardihood, but feelingly alive to another’s woe; often bestowing a generous tear, the tribute of his manly 337heart, on affliction’s monument. In the breast of this unlettered man there was moral virtue enough to outweigh all I ever met in France put together.”

His voyage to Naples was tedious, and fraught with disaster. He says, “We had a fine view of Genoa and Leghorn, the weather being beautifully fine; the sky serene and cloudless, water perfectly smooth, and scarcely any wind. The prospect at midnight was inexpressibly sublime. The majesty of the moon slowly emerging from the deep, its diameter to appearance immensely increased; the peculiar brilliancy of the stars, together with awful flashes of lightning, and meteors shooting in every direction, exhibited a scene exquisitely grand.” The day following he has this remark, “The face of nature is changed, and the hand of God is now stretched out to punish my guilt.”

His fears of an approaching storm must have been unfounded; for the next day he gives an animated description of the appearance of Genoa, and the people who crowded to the beach to see the ship as she passed slowly within a league of the shore. The calms and westerly currents, which for many months in the year prevail on that coast, prevented them from making any progress for some days longer, when a storm visited them in reality. His fearful conscience represents every adversity as the finger of Providence pointed against him.

On the 9th day after leaving Toulon he says, “My evil destiny still pursues me. The enchanting beauty in which nature smiled so lately, is now changed to the alarming appearance of offended Heaven. Lowering 338clouds gathering from every point threaten an awful crisis to both fear and hope.

“The wind increasing to a hurricane, drives the ship with impetuosity irresistible; and the dreadful heaving of the sea, as the watery mountains recede from their convulsed pursuers, leaves a tremendous chasm resembling the abrupt valleys interposed between highest alpine summits, which speedily meeting in all the agitation of confused conflict portend immediate destruction.

“The mariners, dismayed, can no longer exert themselves for the safety of the crazy vessel; a wave has just broken over her and washed away two of them, who, but a moment before, were blaspheming the sacred name of their Maker. Alas! alas! who dares stand in his dread presence!

“An awful crash, accompanied by faint cries ‘She is sinking’, has just reached my ear, and thundered on my soul. O God! how badly prepared!—A few minutes explained the disaster. A body of electric fluid struck the foremast, and shattered it into pieces, at the same moment depriving one of the sailors of life, and bruising two others most deplorably. The flash of lightning was so painfully vivid as to deprive most of us of vision for several seconds: but, to a man stationed on the bowsprit to look out ahead, it disclosed an object quite appalling—a rock towards which the ship was driving with fatal rapidity. A frantic shriek communicated the terrific fact.

“Despair seized on every heart, for the helm had ceased to produce its wonted power in directing the 339ship’s course. The Master, mistaking our situation, could not be persuaded of the danger until another immense sheet of lightning again exposed the dreadful evil. The helm was moved, and endeavours made to turn a remnant of sail which had not been blown away. A ray of hope appeared for a moment to illumine the drooping hearts of the seamen by the cry ‘She goes off’, which was eagerly caught and repeated by all.

“The lightning now becoming more vivid and frequent, contrasted with the intense darkness of the night,—the roaring of the wind,—the foamy rushing of the sea,—the noise of the ropes, and the indistinct cries of the despairing mariners, together with reiterated peals of thunder rolling over our heads for an amazing length of time and ending in a tremendous crash, gave existence to the most frightful picture that human imagination is capable of painting, or perhaps that human nature could sustain.

“Fear, when guilt is the cause, is indeed shocking. My apprehensions of danger may magnify the evils by which I am likely soon to be overwhelmed. I have tried to pray, ‘but the Lord laughed at my calamity.’ I have tried to meet death with philosophic composure; but, shaken by the angry voice of an avenging God, and involved in chaos, what sinner can affect to be unmoved?

“Another wave of vast magnitude has broken over the vessel, which I thought had actually sunk her never to rise again;—she was certainly a long while ingulfed, and, as I thought, completely upset. The undaunted Master endeavoured to cheer us with a hope 340that, in the event of the vessel foundering, our lives might be saved by the boat; but in the last afflicting crush that resource was dashed to atoms, and the mainmast broken in two. The lightning serves to unveil that wretchedness which darkness had so kindly concealed, and the sight is absolutely indescribable:—every thing floating about and dashing in furious confusion. When the lightning bursts upon our view, it appears to rend the heavens, leaving in its stead a wide gaping gulf of boundless and unutterable gloom.

“The long-wished-for day begins at length to appear, and the horrible spectacle it unfolds defies all attempt at description. The fury of the wind is unabated; by its force alone, large bodies of the waves are torn off, and driven over the vessel like frightful cataracts, and in smaller quantities resembling a violent shower of snow, so completely obstructing vision, as to render it impossible to see any object distinctly at two yards distance.

“Towards 9 o’clock, the storm began to abate, and a moment’s pause was given to contemplate the wreck. It was now discovered that when the mainmast broke and fell on the deck, it bruised the intrepid Master to death. The sight of the body of this amiable man will have a place in my recollection for ever. The mast having fallen on his head, shattered the skull, several pieces of which were driven into the deck so firmly that they could not be removed; and several portions of his brain and hair were still sticking to the wood!

“Within a few feet of this fatal spot, the mangled remains of him who had been destroyed by lightning 341were rolling about by the violent motion of the vessel, and so dreadfully bruised that not a feature of the human being could be traced. His two unfortunate companions, who were struck at the same time, being unable to shift for themselves, were discovered drowned; the right side and thigh of one of them being literally burned to a cinder.”

In the foregoing narrative, the stinging reproaches of a guilty conscience appear to have been keenly felt, as is manfully acknowledged as well as beautifully expressed. I shall not trespass on the reader’s attention with a further detail of the miseries of this shipwreck. By means of a fishing-boat my friend landed at Leghorn, where he suffered from an attack of inflammation of the lungs, which again put his life in danger. Being little satisfied either with his attendant physicians or visitors, he was induced to embark in a small coasting vessel for Naples.

Of his adventures in this gay city the journal makes but scanty mention, though he seems to have entered freely into the dissipation of that enervated and most licentious court, and was twice engaged in duels. After four or five months spent or rather killed in this manner, his golden dreams and extravagancies were interrupted by the arrival of a special messenger with directions from his father to return forthwith; but without assigning any reason for an order so unexpected and peremptory: with the summons, however, he cheerfully complied, and in a few days afterwards embarked for England.

The winds were propitious, and the ship had a speedy passage; but the pleasure he had promised himself 342in visiting his native shores was greatly alloyed by the infirm state of health in which he found an uncle whom he affectionately esteemed, and by whom he had been adopted in early life. Having no family, this venerable old gentleman had promised from the beginning to make F. his heir, which pledge he was now desirous of redeeming. The regard he bore him was further shown by a desire to see him settled in the world before he himself should leave it.

There lived in the neighbourhood for upwards of forty years an old gentleman of exemplary piety and benevolence, who had two daughters, both highly accomplished. Brought up and educated in their father’s house, the uncle of F. was acquainted with their dispositions and behaviour from infancy, and was therefore well convinced that they both possessed every excellent quality that could contribute to a husband’s happiness, or ensure a blessing on single life.

With one of these it was his ardent wish to have his nephew united, and he candidly communicated to him the affair; but at the same time he assured him, that although this union would greatly tend to smooth his path to the grave, yet would he impose no restraint on his inclination: let his decision be what it might, no change should be made in his will. My friend was deeply penetrated with this noble behaviour of his uncle, and declared that it should be his study to prove himself not undeserving such disinterested friendship; and if, on further acquaintance, he did not find it utterly impossible to bestow his affections on either of the ladies, he would endeavour to make himself agreeable to one of them.

343The irregularities which F. had committed abroad had reached the ears of his parents, and given them many hours of sorrow. As their love for him was unbounded, their fears lest his happiness might be shipwrecked amongst the dangerous quicksands of temptation on the one hand, and indulgence in vicious passions on the other, were painfully increased; and they zealously exerted themselves in all their influence to promote the views of his dying uncle.

The behaviour of their son left them no cause now for uneasiness. He had conversed several times with each of the ladies, and declared himself much pleased with them both; but his partiality appeared to predominate in favour of the elder. His friends constantly importuned him to expedite the arrangements necessary for the completion of their happiness: to these entreaties he would answer, that however anxious he felt to identify their wishes with his own happiness, yet while his uncle continued in so doubtful a state, he would not make that darkness which he was persuaded the loss of so good a friend would long fix on his mind, more visible by unseasonably lighting the torch of Hymen. This answer, while it demonstrated his growing attachment for the young lady, and the grateful respect he had for his uncle, was highly pleasing to all parties.

Meanwhile his time was spent either in friendly visits to the young ladies, or in attendance on his uncle, whose health declined so fast that none of his friends any longer entertained a hope, and in a few days he paid the awful debt of nature. On this occasion F. was a sincere mourner: indeed his grief was 344often extravagant. To divert his mind, and to dispel that darkness which he himself had predicted, a journey to London was recommended, which he consented to with some reluctance.

Under the influence of grief, that elasticity of mind and naturally complaisant manner for which he was ever distinguished, entirely forsook him. Irritable, petulant, dissatisfied with himself and every thing around him, he suddenly left the country without giving any notice to his parents, or to her whom it was thought his own voluntary choice had determined to be the partner of his joys and sorrows.

Three weeks had already elapsed, and all inquiries to discover his retreat proved unsuccessful. At length he addressed a letter to his mother, in which was inclosed another to his bride-elect, informing them of his being in London, and in somewhat better health and spirits than when he left the country; and offering some apology for his conduct. Both his letters were answered by the ladies, and each had questions to ask, which in their turn they requested to have answered: but a fortnight was suffered to pass before he could find time or inclination to reply; and when he did, his letters were evasive and unsatisfactory.

His father wrote to him and urged the performance of the promise he had made to his uncle, which he assured him was registered in heaven, and was in effect a solemn oath: he finally enjoined him to return to the country. But his condition was considerably altered since his father’s last mandate reached him at Naples; the estate left him by his uncle was more than sufficient to meet the wants of prodigality.

345No longer dependent on his father’s bounty, which heretofore had been liberal even to profusion, he now ventured to treat him with less ceremony, and determined to remain in town. His father’s health had long been imperceptibly declining; and this act of unseasonable and unaccountable ingratitude affected him greatly, under the conviction that self interest, devoid of affection, had hitherto directed the obedience which had been manifested by his son.

The mind of F. had now shaken off all the gloom and sadness occasioned by his uncle’s death. He had corresponded very regularly for some months with the young lady to whom it was expected he would soon be united, and his letters of late were soothing and affectionate. She received one from him, stating that the death of a friend in Ireland would make his presence there indispensable; that he would return in three weeks or a month at most, and then “he hoped she would crown all his wishes, and make him happy.”

It is truly painful to contemplate the deep villainy this letter was intended to conceal. Instead of visiting Ireland, as mentioned in his letter, he allured an unthinking creature, “not quite fourteen,” the daughter of a respectable tradesman in London, to accompany him to Scotland, under a solemn promise that he would marry her there. He had calculated that three weeks would be sufficient to glut his savage appetite, when the credulous victim of his passion was to be disposed of to any of his brutal companions, or in any other way that he could most conveniently get rid of her.

346When he disclosed his real purpose, she fell into a state that occasioned him some apprehension. She fainted away, but of this he thought little; and, having profited by experience, he was able to act the part which the infamous W. had performed for him in Bourdeaux: accordingly stimulants were speedily procured and administered. On recovering, he tried to cajole her, but his sophistry effected nothing. Frantic with disappointment, and goaded by despair, her fury became ungovernable, which he allowed to rage uncontrolled; tritely remarking, Whatever is violent cannot last long. He was not in this mistaken, for she fell senseless at his feet, and blood foamed from her mouth.

It was now deemed prudent to call in a professed practitioner, who on his arrival pronounced her dying from the rupture of a large blood-vessel of the lungs. This intelligence startled F. not a little. His humanity was not entirely dead; besides, he was by no means ambitious of being thought her murderer. He inquired eagerly whether any thing could be done; to which he was answered in the negative.

In this state of alarm he evinced more presence of mind as well as sound therapeutical knowledge than the regular practitioner; for, the medical man having given her over, F. begged of him to open a vein as a dernier ressource, which it appears the other never thought of, as the only means by which her life could be prolonged. Finding that the cure would be tedious, or rather that she was likely to linger long, he placed her in lodgings, and provided a more intelligent medical 347attendant. He was prevailed on by her tears and entreaties to remain with her six weeks, which was double the time he had at first proposed.

Arriving at his lodgings in town, he received intelligence he had not at all expected, and which he was ill prepared to bear. The very day he left London a messenger arrived to inform him, that his father was dying, and desired his immediate attendance. The servants had been instructed to inform all inquirers that their master had gone to Ireland. Day after day messengers arrived, and still the same answer was given. His afflicted mother, suspecting some cheat, determined to travel to London herself, to awaken the slumbering soul of her undutiful son: to her also the same answer was returned; nor could she obtain any hint or clue that might enable her to discover his retreat; she was convinced, however, that he had not gone to Ireland. Although fatigued and almost exhausted by the journey, she could not be persuaded to take any refreshments in town, but hastened back to console her dying husband.

Uncertain what part of Scotland he should visit, and what stay he might make at each place, he had directed his confidential servant not to send any letters after him. A large packet had accumulated in his absence, which the servant put into his hand at the time he communicated the above unwelcome intelligence. Glancing over the letters, his attention was arrested by one in deep mourning, in the hand-writing of his mother; he guessed the rest. It contained an account of his father’s death; but shuddering at the 348apprehension of its contents, he could not muster resolution sufficient to break the seal.

His carriage was still at the door,—he threw himself in, and ordered the coachman to drive to the country; but the horses were fatigued, and fresh ones must be procured. To fill up the awful interval occasioned by this delay, he again looked over the packet of letters, and found three from his affianced bride. He opened and read one, which was filled with sweet murmurs and gentle upbraidings for his increased delay; the other was to the same effect; but the third was serious and important. It informed him of the death of her father, who, she said, “expired in an instant, without a moment’s warning.”

This news he declared thrust into his bosom like a dagger; and, to make his cup of misery overflow, the certainty of his own father’s death, with the reproaches of his last breath which he expected, only were wanting: his mother’s letter would have removed all doubt on this subject, and no man was more impatient of suspense, yet he durst not venture on the perusal; every time he took it up his heart misgave him, and his soul seemed to die away.

In this most awful uncertainty, with the letter in his hand, he continued till he arrived at his father’s gate. From a servant who came to open the carriage he learned the fatal tidings, that his father had been buried several days, and that his mother was now exceedingly ill. This was too much for endurance,—the dreaded letter fell from his paralysed hand, and he sunk down overwhelmed by racking remorse. The 349servants conveyed him to his chamber, where he lay some hours in a state of stupor, which was succeeded by a fever, or some disease that entirely deprived him of sense for upwards of three weeks. The journal, however, was discontinued for as many months.

The following is the first paragraph written after his recovery. “My dear mother and the angelic E. visited me this morning, and neither of them upbraided me! Their forgiveness and pity were in effect refined cruelty. I was prepared to hear their keenest reproach,—but their kindness took me by surprise, and wounded me to the soul. My mother wished to amuse me and attempted to be gay, while tears insensibly rolled down her cheeks. She said I must now look upon E. as my own, for her father had bequeathed her to me, and appointed me sole executor of his will. She was going to say something of a last wish of my father’s, when she fainted away.

“Miserable, infatuated wretch that I am! not all the guilty pleasures of a thousand years could compensate for the torture my soul endured at that moment.—Sainted father! methinks I hear thee in the clouds thundering thy abhorrence of my ungrateful and impious neglect, and threatening me with the vengeance of indignant Heaven. With what crimes am I not debased?—Innocence murdered—human happiness wantonly sacrificed in every spot I could meet with it—my family dishonoured and my life defiled by every species of hellish debauchery—the end of my being perverted—the intention of my Creator defeated by my own monstrous deeds—Alas! alas! I see nothing but an interminable gulf before me—God 350frowning from above—and the jaws of death and hell extended wide, ready to receive me—and close upon me for ever!”

Who, after reading this soliloquy, would expect to find the author of it again resuming those vicious practices which had occasioned him such intense misery? How humiliating to a proud but virtuous mind is the contemplation of human nature and reason so degraded and debased!

Notwithstanding his remorse and apparent repentance, which there is every reason to believe were sincere at the time, poor unhappy F. had not resolution to relinquish his licentious mode of life; not, he said, that it afforded him any pleasure, but because the presence of virtue confused, and in his own imagination reproached him. The remembrance of earlier days, when his growing accomplishments not only put forth the tender buds of hope, but exhibited fair flowers approaching fast to perfection—the joy of his family, and the admiration of his friends—now withered and decayed, his heart became callous, and he ingloriously yielded to the empire of sin and the slavery of passion without a struggle. Brooding over a thousand evils real and imaginary, his mind assumed the darkest gloom, and gradually sunk into savage melancholy.

Accompanied by his mother, the “angelic E.,” as he used to call that young lady, visited him often, for he had requested her to consider herself his betrothed wife. They tried various methods to engage his mind in some useful or even amusing pursuit, but he could endure nothing that did not present novelty at every 351instant. The visits of the ladies at length became irksome to him; and determining to rid himself of their importunity, he one morning bade them carelessly farewell, and set out for London.

Here he found that some of his old associates had been obliged, from different causes, to decamp; but some he still found hovering round those infamous sinks of lust and misery to which men of pleasure resort to kill time and escape from themselves: to those pests of society, and those haunts of dissipation, he now attached himself.

The shock he had sustained by his father’s death had greatly impaired his health, and the mode of life he now absurdly made choice of was rapidly destroying his constitution. After several months passed in the senseless bustle, and deeply engaged in the important nothings which occupy so much of a rake’s time, he applied to me with a mind and body both wofully diseased.

I must here beg to obtrude myself, not through any motive of personal vanity, but an anxious desire faithfully to depict the errors that caused the ruin of my once excellent and happy friend. Knowing the expectations he had raised, and the engagements he was under to the lady whom his uncle had recommended, I inquired whether he had made any definitive arrangements: to this he replied, “My engagements with her and every other woman will last while I can feel myself happy in their society, and not an hour longer.” He freely acknowledged, that his mind was made up never to marry, but that he neither could nor would relinquish E. I expostulated with him seriously 352on the enormity of seducing any virtuous woman; but any injury done to E. would in my opinion be the most heinous crime he could commit, and one which, I was convinced, God would never pardon.

My arguments produced very little effect; for he gravely replied, “I have long been moving in a magic circle, and however full the poisoned cup might have been which the enchantress Pleasure offered, I always drank to the bottom. My soul is dead, and what have I now to fear?” Our acquaintance had been of some standing, and my friendship for him was sincere and disinterested. During the period of his cure I generally conversed with him every day on the cruelty of his design, and the unqualified execration with which the world would load the author of such wanton barbarity; but nothing could turn him from his stern and cruel purpose. “The die,” he said, “is cast;” and more than once did he declare that, should it cost him an eternity of perdition, E. must and should be his on his own terms.

While confined to his house by ill health, he regularly corresponded with the young lady through his mother, both whom it was equally his wish to deceive. His health being restored, he disclosed to me his deep plan for the destruction of E., whose confidence in him was unlimited; and as the assistance of a confidential friend would be indispensable, he now implored my good offices. I assured him that I was very ready to do him any good in my power, and that I would now give a proof of my friendship by laying the whole matter before his mother and E. that very evening; and this pledge I carefully redeemed.

353In my letter to his mother, the scheme he had formed to entrap the innocent and confiding E. was fully developed, and they were of course confounded and ashamed at its baseness. His plan was, to invite them both to town, having furnished a house fit for their reception, where, under his own roof, under the protecting eye of his amiable mother, the laws of hospitality, the ties of heaven, and the sacred commands of God, were to be violated and profaned. Unwilling to believe, yet hardly knowing how to doubt my statement, they were consulting what step was most proper to be taken, when they received a letter from F., couched in the most dutiful and affectionate terms, inviting them both to town. This tended to confirm their suspicions, and they decided on inclosing to him my letter, with a request that he would explain its meaning.

On this occasion his self-possession entirely forsook him. He called on me with the letter, and used the most unjustifiable language. Led away by the fury of disappointed passion, he would not listen to reason; his behaviour became indecently insulting, and I determined on withdrawing my friendship, and discontinuing his acquaintance. Almost immediately after this, professional avocations in the service of my country called me out of England, and I lost sight of him for upwards of four years.

The following remarks, which I think were written about the same time, stand in his journal: “Never was meanness equal to mine—never was contempt expressed with more poignant insult. This is the damning consequence of unlawful pleasure.—Pleasure do I 354call it?—It is pain equal to the severest torture of hell. How intolerably slavish are the galling chains with which sin binds her hopeless victims!”

Amid the multitude of vices by which his life was so foully stained, and his heart so deplorably corrupted, still there were some traits in his character that strongly demonstrated original nobleness of mind. When brutal passion was not to be gratified, he was feelingly alive to the tale of sorrow, and his purse was ever open to relieve the distressed, and administer comfort to the afflicted. His style of living was proportioned to his ample fortune, and in money matters he was always open, liberal, and generous, sometimes so even to profuse extravagance. But his mind, long neglected and vitiated, was now incapable of entertaining a single virtue, or even a shattered remnant of self-dignity. His disposition became so entirely changed, that the original intention of nature appears to have been inverted. That generosity which formerly excited admiration, gave place to the most niggardly and despicable turn of mind, so that he could not bear the idea of parting with money even to discharge his lawful debts.

Those ephemeral friends to whom crime only had attached him, now treated him with coolness, and in many instances with the most cutting contempt. Despised by all his former acquaintances, both sober and dissipated, he exhibited the melancholy picture of a man possessing an excellent understanding, a mind amply stored with elegant and useful knowledge, and a princely fortune, isolated in the world, and scornfully driven, by the common consent of mankind, from 355that society of which, had he made a right use of his natural endowments, he would have been a distinguished ornament.

Meanness, marked by dishonesty, was strongly exemplified in his refusing to honour a bill which the unhappy girl he left in Scotland, as he supposed on a death-bed, had drawn to discharge the expense of the lodgings he had procured for her. The physician’s bill, too, he refused to discharge. The poor forsaken creature wrote to him, describing her situation in terms that ought to have moved the most obdurate heart; but his, now completely imbruted, was dead to the description of her misery, and deaf to her entreaties. She wrote again, but he would not pay the postage of her letter. The family in which he had placed her, trusting to the debt thus incurred for the payment of their rent, which they could not in any other way make up, were turned out of doors, and with them the wretched patient, now in the last stage of consumption, without a penny to procure a morsel of bread.

In this deplorable condition, with no shelter but the canopy of heaven, she must have perished, had not the compassion of a poor waggoner been moved and extended to her. Through the means of this humble and humane individual she was enabled to reach London, where languid and sinking she sought the abode of her father, once her happy home, the scene of youthful innocence and joy. But, alas! what a sad change!—No home was there. Her father’s dwelling-house was now a prison! After her elopement 356he used every possible endeavour to find her out, by which means he incurred expenses, neglected his business, and ultimately became insolvent. The benevolent waggoner did not, however, forsake her: he procured her admission into an hospital, where, within a week, she yielded her last breath.

Despised and detested by all who knew him, F.’s stay in London grew every day more irksome, and he seriously meditated a return to the country, where he could gratify his new grovelling passion for saving money, now indeed his ruling one, though a residence there he knew would compel him occasionally to encounter the reproaches of his amiable mother; and the deadly injury intended for E. made him by no means anxious to come under her indignant glance.

The ancestors of F. had inhabited an elegant mansion for time immemorial, and the eminent virtues by which their lives were distinguished rendered it venerable. This mansion had fallen to him on his uncle’s decease, and thither he determined to repair, and make it his residence in a manner corresponding with the late change in his disposition. He therefore made up his mind to turn hermit, and accordingly disposed of his horses, equipages, and entire establishment; returned to the country, and shut himself up in complete seclusion.

The honour of disgracing the family name, hitherto unsullied, and of polluting this venerable mansion, where his ancestors had long maintained an untainted reputation, was reserved for this their parsimonious representative; nor was he long in a state of inactivity, 357notwithstanding his mode of life was so different from the splendid hospitality which formerly rendered this residence celebrated.

In a village at a short distance lived the widow of a medical gentleman, with three daughters, the eldest of whom was “not quite twenty.” This interesting family managed to live genteelly and comfortably on a small annuity, until the arrival of F., whose pestilential influence proved as destructive, and almost as widely diffused, as the fabulous accounts of privileged travellers represent that of the Upas tree.

It would be horrible and inexpressibly painful to describe the arts he used to ensnare these innocent, industrious and unsuspecting females. In somewhat less than thirteen months he plunged them into guilt and misery, and kept them all living in his house at the same time! His next triumph was over the daughter of a clergyman, for whom he succeeded in procuring a living in the neighbourhood, to enable him the more easily to execute his infamous designs against innocence and peace.

The facility with which the ruin of these four young women was accomplished, encouraged him to make another attack on the much injured E., an attempt which must certainly be considered as a master-piece of impudence and hardened villainy, inasmuch as he endeavoured to make his mother an efficient agent in the destruction of her beloved and amiable young friend. He wrote a long letter to his mother, expressing penitence and remorse for his former behaviour to E., with an anxious desire to make all the reparation he could; 358and finally, that, if she could forgive him, he was ready to marry her when and where she pleased.

The poor mother, thinking him sincere, was very desirous of taking him at his word, as she believed it the only chance that was likely to offer for reclaiming him. She was persuaded in her own mind that his disposition was originally good, and if his affections could ever be fixed, she would fain think that he was capable of making any woman happy; and accordingly her best offices were employed with E. in his behalf. On the first introduction of the subject, the amiable girl shuddered involuntarily, as if she had unexpectedly been met by some furious beast of prey, which she apprehended would instantly destroy her; and although she had every desire to oblige the mother of F., she candidly declared that it was utterly impossible for her ever to look upon him again with favour.

The mother did not, however, despair that she would be made to relent by time and assiduity. But, while this negotiation was going on, F.’s attention was attracted by the wife of an industrious young man who rented a farm on his estate. They had been married only a few months, and F. describes the wife in the following glowing terms: “She was lovely as an angel, a perfect model of exquisite beauty, of unspotted purity, young and modest.” But virtues like these had lost all influence, unless to stimulate his guilty and savage appetite: to every present incitement E. herself was now postponed. Contrary to his expectations, her virtue was not to be easily shaken; but every repulse 359and difficulty he experienced only tended to stimulate him to greater exertions.

His thirst for money had now considerably abated, and he was fast emerging from that obscure solitude in which he had remained upwards of three years. His establishment was splendidly increased, his marriage with E. was seriously talked of, and his mother had prevailed on her to consent to see him; but, before the day fixed on for the interview had arrived, he suddenly disappeared, and it was soon discovered that the farmer’s wife was missing also. He had artfully managed to get the farmer into his power, by means of a pecuniary accommodation which he knew it would be impossible for him to discharge: he wrote an infamous letter soon after to the deluded man, desiring him not to be uneasy about the money, and scarcely noticing the deadly wound he had inflicted by seducing the object of his affections,—the partner of his cares,—the friend of his bosom.

In a few months he returned with her, and kept her in his house, a fine lady, for nearly a year. Her agreeable person and artless manner had hitherto kept alive in his bosom something like affection; but still, like every other with whom he conversed, she was ultimately doomed to experience his fickleness and neglect. He sent for the afflicted husband, and told him with unblushing effrontery, that he must take her back, as he himself was about to quit the country, and could no longer protect her. The unhappy man was about to remonstrate on the hardship of his case, when he was effectually silenced by the other blustering out, “You shall obey my directions, or rot in 360gaol.” He was forced to comply, and take to his cheerless home a contaminated wretch, whom he must ever behold with lacerated and abhorrent feelings.

Fortunately for those who were yet uncorrupted, this was the last exploit of F. in the neighbourhood to which he was indebted for his birth, and where, instead of bringing misery and ruin into the peaceful cottage, his rank, property, and influence, ought to have constituted him the legitimate local guardian of its general happiness, morality, and virtue. With frigid indifference he forsook all those whom he had debased by making them subservient to his lustful appetite, and set out for London in quest of new adventures.

In this great metropolis he instituted and organized a system of infamy and abomination for which it would not be easy to find an appropriate appellation: it was, in fact, a kind of repository for vice and crime, where the most odious scenes that could disgrace human nature were continually acting. Not less than five procurers, or agents, were employed; and the aggregate of human happiness slaughtered in this temple of hell is truly astonishing, and would hardly be believed. The concern became too extensive to be conducted by a single manager, and F. yielded to the pressing solicitations of an all-accomplished young gentleman to admit him as a partner. The expenses and pleasures were to be mutually shared between them, and their acquaintance became matured into as close a friendship as vice is capable of admitting.

The junior partner had four sisters in the bloom of 361life, to whom he introduced F., who, after several visits, expressed his partiality for the third, and begged permission to pay his addresses in an honourable way of course. His large fortune was a sufficient inducement for granting his request, and in somewhat less than five months he prevailed on her to elope with him to France. Her brother, who had no knowledge of the world, except what is to be acquired at a theatre, a gambling-house, or a sink of vice, would not at first believe that his “dear friend” F. could meditate any mischief against his family, much less the deadly injury that was apprehended by the more sober and experienced part of his relations. He said F. was an eccentric dog, fond of frolic, and he had no doubt was gone to Gretna Green, whence he would return with his sister, and marry her according to the established English custom. The mother of the young lady was by no means of this opinion, and urged her son to make further inquiries; which he did, and was soon convinced that he had overrated his “dear friend’s” generosity.

He lost no time in following the fugitives to France, and after a few days’ search found them in Paris. His first inquiry was, whether they had got married? To which being answered in the negative, he insisted on having that ceremony performed without delay. His dictatorial manner was exceedingly offensive to F., who declared the visit both unseasonable and impertinent, and, without further ceremony, ordered his quondam partner out of the house.

A duel the following morning was the consequence 362of this interview, and both were wounded. F. was from the first moment sensible that his wound was mortal, and, after lingering nearly fifteen months, the apprehension was confirmed by his death. During his confinement, remorse for his past crimes appears to have seized and constantly agitated him, till he became completely miserable, and life grew so insupportable to him, that it forced him more than once to meditate self-destruction.

The tradesman, whose daughter he had seduced and abandoned in Scotland, hearing of his situation, waited on him, and related to him the account of her sufferings and death, as stated before. The contrition of F. for the injury he had done the daughter, was exemplified by his conduct to her father, whom he raised above the power of want for the remainder of his life. He employed several persons to search for all the unhappy women whose innocence and peace of mind he had destroyed; and every one he discovered of that number had her sufferings alleviated, as far as pecuniary settlements were capable of soothing her sorrow. But this he considered very insufficient reparation, and his unhappiness till the last moment of his life was extreme.

His concluding paragraph is a terrible picture of his feelings. He says, “My life has been pernicious to my fellow creatures, and a foul blot on the characteristic purity of my family. Would to God, that by my death I could make some reparation to society!—but all is now nearly over.—What do I say?—To me, alas! O alas! all is only beginning.—My soul is 363parched, burnt, and consumed.—O God! save me from eternal death—for the sake and merits of thy beloved son Jesus Christ. Amen.”

A retrospect of this man’s life and death must forcibly recall to the virtuous mind the following beautiful and apposite observation from the chaste pen of the enlightened Dr. Blair:

“Who but must drop a tear over human nature, when he beholds that morning, which rose so bright, overcast with such untimely darkness; that good humour which once captivated all hearts, that vivacity which sparkled in every company, those abilities which were fitted for adorning the highest stations, all sacrificed at the shrine of low sensuality; and who was formed for running the fair career of life, in the midst of public esteem, cut off by his vices in the middle of his course; or sunk for the whole of it into insignificancy and contempt!—These, O sinful pleasure, are thy trophies! It is thus, that, co-operating with the foe of God and man, thou degradest human honour, and blastest the fairest prospects of human felicity!”

In the gay and fashionable circles in life, too frequently originate creatures like that whose progress in crime has just been sketched. Like the cubs of the lion or tiger, harmless and playful, though sometimes heavy and insipid, when young they are fondled and caressed, until the hellish ferocity of their nature becomes developed and matured; when with remorseless gripe they seize upon and destroy not only the unsuspecting but the confiding victim.

Like most beasts of prey, the seducer is not found 364to be fond of a gregarious life, although conformity to specific laws is indispensable. The principal of these, the law of honour, is to be obeyed indeed with scrupulous exactness. This law was first framed by a number of these elegant monsters, who, without having any settled or fixed design, merely as a mark of distinction designated themselves “men of the world,” and, having heroically dubbed one another in this manner, agreed thenceforth to look down with contempt on the peaceful, moral, and industrious habits of their less ambitious neighbours.

To deal no longer in metaphor, though the analogy may be considered both close and applicable, it may be allowed me to make an attempt at an explanation of this all-prevailing law of honour, an aristocratical code, not less preposterous in conception than dangerous in tendency. This iniquitous system has for too long a time served as a nursery or hot-bed for the propagation of the most odious vices, generated and nurtured, it may be asserted without its truth being questionable, equal to the most sanguine expectations of its infamous supporters. At the head of these vices stands irreligion: and when once a total disregard for the attributes of God takes place; when this great barrier to human presumption is trampled down; when this invaluable link, which unites civilized man to his christian fellow, is once broken, the infatuated votary may well consider himself fully qualified to become a man of the world. Vain thing! how short-lived is his mad career!

His situation in the world very much resembles that of a leaky ship in the middle of the ocean, without 365compass or rudder, gently wafted in the wished-for direction for a short time while the propitious breeze continues; but no sooner does this change, than she is left defenceless to the mercy of the elements, to be driven by every wind, buffeted by every wave, and ultimately sure to perish in the gathering storm.

As this law was made exclusively for the convenience of these redoubtable sons of pleasure, it imposes no obligation but what tends to facilitate that refined intercourse they wish to subsist between themselves; nor does it proscribe as criminal, or mean, any thing that has not a similar tendency. It inculcates the unbridled indulgence of licentious passions, which the polished rake alertly may pursue at times when he ought to be employed in cultivating his understanding; and, after a longer or shorter tutoring, according to his capacity, he bursts forth upon the world a scourge and pest to society.

An anonymous writer of distinguished talent has given an account of one of these pampered beings, which, so far as it regards the uncultivated state of their minds, is admirably descriptive. This writer says, “There is not in the world a more useless, idle animal than he who contents himself with being merely a gentleman. He has an estate, therefore he will not endeavour to acquire knowledge: he is not to labour in any vocation, therefore he will do nothing. But the misfortune is, that there is no such thing in nature as a negative virtue, and that absolute idleness is impracticable. He who does no good, will certainly do mischief; and the mind, if it be not stored with useful knowledge, will certainly become a magazine of nonsense 366and trifles. Wherefore a gentleman, though he is not obliged to rise to open his shop, or work at his trade, should always find some means of employing his time to advantage. If he makes no advances in wisdom, he will become more and more a slave to folly; and he that does nothing, because he has nothing to do, will become vicious and abandoned, or, at best, ridiculous and contemptible.”

It seems doubtful whether it would not prove more disgusting than interesting to the delicate mind, to be made acquainted with some of the artful contrivances and base stratagems those fine gentlemen practise every day for the allurement of the innocent into their fatal snares. But an attempt, perhaps, to unmask these assassins of virtue, these prowlers after human blood, even should it not be very successful, might still be useful to some credulous creatures, thus to apprize them of the precipices they are standing over, and the inevitable destruction to which they are continually exposing themselves in listening to the wily tales of well dissembled but profane love, delivered either with all the ardour of fervent passion, or that whining softness which practised villains know so well how to command.

First, then, I would affirm that the character of the seducer is cowardly, dishonourable, and base; and I defy the united sophistry of the whole fraternity to refute the assertion. Is it not cowardly, I would ask the most brazen of these unblushing champions, to invade the retreats of innocence and peace, and, after trampling down virtue, change them as it were into the abodes of infernal spirits, because the inhabitants 367are poor and unprotected, and consequently without any means of punishing the violator of their happiness? What prevents them from at least attempting their ungenerous designs on families of rank, but the fear that a father or brother would wash away the insult with the heart’s blood of the foul assailant? Or is it that the tinsel logic they were taught in the school of “honour,” succeeds better in blindfolding the understanding, weakening the faith, and warping the principles of the unenlightened mind, that they thus prefer to attack poverty and weakness, and to lay in ruins that sole refuge of the poor girl—purity and virtue? What a dignified employment for “a man of the world”—“a man of honour”—the last, graceless hope, perhaps, of some ancient, noble, and truly honourable family!

I think the world are pretty well agreed in their abhorrence of a swindler, though his arts are surely not half so infamous as those of the seducer; and the effects of the one, as they are felt in Society, dwindle into insignificance when compared with the overpowering misery produced by the conduct and practices of the other. The swindler at most only deprives us of our money, which perhaps his own wants, or those of a starving family, may urge, and for which at some future opportunity, as instances have occurred, he may be able to make some reparation. But the seducer places his victim out of the pale of earthly happiness, and, it is feared, in this consigns her to eternal ruin.

What excuse can he plead? One of two only. Either, envious of her happiness, he wantonly destroyed it, or esteemed the short-lived gratification of his own 368brutal lusts equivalent to the endless torture which he could not but have so much reason as to believe would thus be visited on her. An elegant writer likens the hearts of these men to a stagnant and putrifying lake, which sends forth its poisonous exhalations to corrupt and wither every plant that grows on its banks.

“The morality of a man of the world amounts to little more than prudence, and does not always come up to that; he is aware of the allowance that is made for him, and sins up to the full extent of his measure; he must be always ready to sacrifice his own life, or to take that of another; in gaming, he must observe the strictest faith, and in general must abstain from all vices that are neither elegant nor interesting in their estimation: with these limits, he is let loose upon society and public happiness, to plunder and debauch without penalty or shame. Take for instance the happiness of a private family, as it depends upon the unsullied dignity and spotless life of its females:—Are there any of those whom we call men of the world, whom any thing but fear would prevent from poisoning the heart, and laying waste the principles and virtues, of women? Is there one who has religious magnanimity enough to scare this licentious cruelty from his soul? Is there one who would not blush to be suspected of such a virtue? and how often would the indulgence of the vice meet its punishment in the anger and the execrations of the world?”

The heart sickens in contemplating the waste of human happiness which is produced by this deadly evil—Seduction. Almost all the scenes of shameless depravity, and outraged decency, met with in the 369streets of London, and other populous towns, are produced from this vile unhallowed source. The hapless female who falls into the clutches of one of these plunderers, eternally on the watch for prey, soon forgets that natural modesty which forms the brightest gem in the character of the sex, and, lured by the villain’s wiles, too easily slips aside from the path of purity, and becomes consigned to ruin and disgrace, most probably for life; for too rarely does it happen that a return to virtue dries up this source of all misfortunes, or brings back the influence of those virtues which innocence alone can diffuse over the soul.

The smooth-tongued seducer, like him that tempted our first mother, is every moment at her ear with dangerous suggestions to wile away her scruples, whilst by costly presents and too grateful favours, which he can easily command out of his ready means, or fruitful speculations, the poor girl is persuaded of a fixed attachment, of which no thought was ever entertained: he nevertheless, by his crafty persuasions and false promises, contrives fully to secure her credulity, and the unsuspecting victim is left entirely at the mercy of this ruthless enemy to her peace and happiness. Mercy!—Has the tiger mercy?—as well might that heavenly attribute be expected to beam forth in full influence from a demon, as to suppose that even for a moment that callous heart could be sensible of mercy, or even of pity, towards his harmless prey. No—gloating over the spoil, and exulting in his success, the licentious savage enjoys his feast until it palls upon his gross appetite; and then neglect, insult and base ingratitude prove to the wretched 370mourner how misplaced has been her weak confidence, how false her expectations, how baseless all her fond hopes of happiness, for which she had sacrificed her all to her relentless destroyer.

The child of shame and remorse, devoted now to misery, no relief appearing to alleviate her distress, no soothing sound bespeaking a heart sympathizing in her sorrows, is totally given up to affliction: the displeasure of relations, if she have any living, the cold neglect of former friends, and the unfeeling scorn of the world, forbid approach to consolation; employment in the common walks of industry even is denied; and poverty, or the dread of actual starvation, leaves no alternative but the last direful one—prostitution.

The haunts of lewd revelry are ever with open doors, and the detestable bawds who preside over those disgusting receptacles are constantly on the look-out for girls in such a desolate situation. The unhappy creature quickly gets involved in the snare, sinks into the mass of corruption, and is carried along in the odious and deadly flood of intoxication, impiety, and uncurbed licentiousness, which adds another and another miserable female to the herds that infest the public streets, and walk in open day the disgrace of human nature.

“Seduction is never accomplished without the most villainous frauds, falsehoods, and often perjuries. No man ever enticed a simple, innocent female from the paths of virtue, without a complication of lies and false oaths, that would have rendered him infamous in the eyes of any virtuous person, had they been known. The injury he inflicts is aggravated by 371the consideration that it admits of no reparation, and can only terminate with the life of the wretched sufferer.”

It would perhaps be impossible to form any thing like a correct comparative estimate of the quantum of misery endured by a creature whose native purity of soul and moral principles have been thus ruined. Few men, however, are so ignorant as not to know something of the passionate fondness of a mother for her offspring; and from this some idea may be conceived of the agonized and outrageous feelings that can urge her to its destruction to conceal her guilt and the shame it occasions. Will any one pretend to say that this barbarous and unnatural murder is not often occasioned by seduction? Nay, further, let me ask, Is not the seducer by profession very frequently provided with drugs, which he hesitates not to administer to the wretch whom he has ruined, for the purpose of producing abortion? and if they fail, have not mechanical means been at times resorted to to effect the same damnable purpose?

These are facts which they cannot, dare not deny. What must we think, then, of the man who thus deliberately covers himself with innocent blood,—who wantonly takes away the life of a creature that was utterly incapable of ever having offered him any offence,—a life, too, of which he himself was the guilty author, and which by every tie of nature he was imperiously bound to cherish and protect? I do not mean to say, that every man who commits the crime of seduction, would at that same time also commit murder; but I do affirm, that there is no vice whatever, 372that so speedily corrupts the heart, debases its inclination, and so entirely depraves the mind, as an illegitimate intercourse between the sexes: it is a melancholy fact, not to be controverted, that even in the ordinary occurrences of life, the commission of one crime will often require and lead to many more to conceal it. The seducer, therefore, of a virtuous woman, to the enormity of that first offence, will and has been led on from one criminal act to another for the necessity of concealment, till murder has been added to the list of his foul transgressions.

The finest feather in a seducer’s plume, and on which he most prides himself, is the facility and indifference with which he can abandon his degraded victim. In this respect, indeed, it must be allowed that all of them evince considerable coolness and dexterity, consigning them in a month, or sometimes less, to rags, hunger, and infamy, leaving to perish the unhappy objects, whose confidence they had gained by solemn declarations and plighted oaths of love and regard, with the most sacred promises of never-failing protection.

Who can withhold the heartfelt, justly-merited tribute of approbation, from the poor industrious parents who are seen struggling cheerfully with want, enduring the chilling blasts of winter, and, after toiling through the day, retiring at night to a miserable ill-covered pallet, to stifle the cravings of hunger; and all borne without a murmur, that thus they may save a pittance to procure for a beloved child the blessing of ever so little knowledge, and thus infuse into her young mind a love of virtue? Who would dare the presumption 373that these humble honest people do wrong in cherishing the fond hope that she may contribute something hereafter towards the support of their declining years? Or would the seducer rather advise the mind of the child to remain unenlightened, that she might the more blindly fall into his snares? In that, will any man, however depraved and hardened in wickedness, lay his hand on his breast, and answer fairly, whether he does not think the ruin of such an innocent being a more heinous crime than murder, in almost any of the aggravated circumstances in which it has hitherto been exposed to public abhorrence? Will not the shame and sorrow of the parents be infinitely more afflictive than if they had seen their child deposited in the silent grave, if but unpolluted? And finally, will not the friends of human happiness sympathize more with the heart-broken parents, than if a robber had carried away the whole of their little property, and even left them without the last remains of sustenance—a morsel of bread?

That amiable Christian philosopher and excellent moralist, Dr. Paley, has expressed his sentiments on this subject in pointed and forcible terms. “Upon the whole,” says he, for I must be allowed to quote them, “if we pursue the effects of seduction through the complicated misery which it occasions; and if it be right to estimate crimes by the mischief they knowingly produce; it will appear something more than mere invective to assert, that not one half of the crimes for which men suffer death, by the laws of England, are so flagitious as this.”

There are cold-blooded mortals in the world, self-denominated 374sages or philosophers, who can excuse and even sanction the most disgraceful excesses, under the specious plea of what they term reasonable allowance for youthful levity—the summer of life, when all the passions flow impetuously through the free channels of the vital system, though, like other violent streams, if left to themselves they will soon become exhausted and dried up. If this sophistical mode of reasoning deserve not the name of genuine philosophy, it claims at least the peculiar merit of novelty.

Is it not fair to infer, that persons who advocate principles so hostile to the true interests of society, have themselves been profligates through life, and are still in reality the enemies of mankind? Does it follow, that because the vices of early life in themselves have in a premature old age brought on their punishment, other fountains are to be suffered to exhaust themselves in like wickedness? Whence, it may be asked, has any man derived the right to destroy the happiness of his fellow creature? or what reparation will he be able to make for unprovoked injuries so wantonly inflicted, so irreparably endured?

But unfortunately the perpetration of such crimes is not confined, in virtuous indignation it must not be concealed, to the young alone; they are practised also by men whose hoary locks and tottering steps would beguile one in charitable thought to hope, that sentiments of a far different nature should influence them to prepare for that other world, on the verge of which they seem already standing. So great indeed is the general regard I have for grey hairs, that it sometimes amounts to veneration. How much more 375congenial, then, would it prove to screen the foibles of that so much honoured period, than to expose any of those failings from which no part of our earthly existence is entirely free!

But when we see an old man voluntarily stripping himself of the dignity of years, and meanly descending from that eminence on which reverence and regard had placed him, to vicious indulgences which exhausted nature and the many infirmities of a debilitated frame render him incapable even of enjoying,—when we see him, I say, still hovering around those criminal gratifications which poison his every sober joy, and of which he cannot now, except in prurient imagination, be a partaker, what can or should save him from just contempt and merited indignation?

How many are there in high life, several of whom I could mention, (and were it done, it would be perhaps but the discharge of a christian duty,) who live in a state of unconcealed adultery,—fathers of families taking up with women young enough to be their daughters! At the present moment of writing, I know of two men who have grand-daughters some years older than two country girls they have under protection, as it is called, and whom they doubtless pay enormously for pampering their feeble appetites, and feeding their silly vanity. Can reformation of the young be reasonably expected, while the old continue to set such an example?

Suppose some of the sparks of the present day, who infest and dishonour every place of public amusement, were to commit the utmost extravagance, even to indulge in a seraglio, how awkwardly would the fathers 376of many of them remonstrate, themselves in the daily practice of like crimes, differing only in degree? In obscene conversation, too, such antiquated sinners have left their juvenile rivals far behind. What indeed can be more shockingly disgusting, than to contemplate an old wretched offender of this description seated at his own table, entertaining a large company of old and young with the infamous exploits of his licentious villainy? Silence and shame should displace the boasting that proves him only dead to principle and character.

It is an evil of no inconsiderable magnitude, that vice, be it ever so odious, will find some one or other of rank to countenance, if not to flatter it. On what rational principle shall we attempt to account for the reception which the most notorious seducers find in society of the first distinction, where they are not only allowed to make their appearance, but are generally treated with polite and even marked civility, not unfrequently the kindest attention, too, paid them by females who have been considered eminent for religion, piety, and moral virtue? What is to be said of such conduct, particularly when many who in this manner appear to make themselves partisans of seduction, are themselves mothers of lovely daughters, on whose loss of happiness those monsters would revel without a single feeling of remorse, and reduce to the same degraded level with all the rest of their credulous victims, some one or other of whom, perhaps, might have that very day been abandoned to shame, poverty, and misery?

An able writer of deserved celebrity has well observed, that “the confederacy amongst women of 377character to exclude from their society kept mistresses and prostitutes, contributes more perhaps to discourage that condition of life, and prevents greater numbers from entering into it, than all the considerations of prudence and religion put together.” Why, in the name of justice, should these unhappy objects, who are too often only deluded agents, be excluded from society, while the real authors of their errors, the men who have betrayed, and still keep them enslaved in the vilest thraldom, are received and countenanced without opprobrium or animadversion?

It is really with infinite reluctance and painful feelings that a single reprehensive glance should be cast at any part of the conduct of my fair countrywomen, and nothing but an anxious wish to see every female, rich or poor, mantled in the pure robes of captivating virtue and modesty, could induce me to assume the presumptuous language of reproof; but when the ruin of an innocent soul is threatened, who can be silent and offend not?

Britain is the only nation, perhaps, that can boast (as enviously conceded even by sister countries) of women in whom are united the three uncommon qualities of beauty, talents, and virtue. Who would not, then, have them nobly maintain this dignified superiority? Let their morals not be corrupted by the frivolous example of their volatile neighbours. Let them unanimously drive from their presence the notorious and plausible rake, who, however he may flatter, would betray and destroy. If enthusiasm can be applauded in any case, it is where the glory of a nation is the object; and let it never be forgotten, that from the 378earliest periods of the world, those countries have always been the greatest where the female character was the most virtuous and unsullied.


If we refer to the most obvious consequences attendant on the crime of seduction, we shall observe, that in almost every case the victim is reduced to the dreadful necessity of seeking a desultory and precarious subsistence by prostitution, which can never fail to expose the ill-fated object to a degree of wretchedness too painful for sensibility and virtue to picture even in imagination.

Before pronouncing a sweeping sentence, however, of unqualified condemnation on the horrid life these miserables lead, it would be just to pause a little, and inquire whether an alternative is left to them.—Forsaken and disowned by their relations; cruelly deserted by their seducers; shunned and despised by those who formerly were proud, perhaps, to cultivate their acquaintance; they stand, as it were, alone in the world, an awful memento of the loathsomeness of sin.

If to this state of unhappy feeling be added the resistless calls of hunger, the effects of cold and wet on a delicate frame, but thinly clad, and ill-protected against the severity of season, with the melancholy prospect of being compelled to perish in the streets, we may have some idea of their deplorable condition. But even this picture, dark and dreary as it is, presents a faint image only of the indescribable gloom, terror, and dismay, which lower over the tempestuous visitations 379of the heart-rending conflict of shame, want, and misery!

What exquisite, what pure felicity must enliven his heart, who in this extremity of vice can become the instrument, with the divine aid, of restoring to a sense of religion and virtue, and of bringing back and restoring to her family, in the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation, a poor deluded young female, ere her mind has been depraved in vicious intercourse with the abandoned of her sex, who vengefully in turn have become seducers, and practise upon man the same vile arts by which they themselves had been betrayed! If any period indeed of their wretched career be favourable for reformation, this appears to be the most propitious; and surely the salvation, the happiness of a fellow creature are objects too sacred, too glorious to be given up without at least an effort. But too often, unfortunately, is this opportunity suffered to slip by; for the benevolent few, who would promptly and joyfully extend the hand to save, know not the dangerous situation in which the object of such benevolence is placed, while the general mass of mankind looks on indifferent as to the destructive consequences inevitably to result!

Is it not as humiliating as distressing to reflect, that for one who has true greatness of soul sufficient to pity and assist such a poor bewildered girl, there are a hundred heartless sensualists that would take advantage of her misfortunes, and plunge her still deeper in a foul guilt? But she is not allowed long to hesitate between virtue and vice. Some veteran harpy not far off, ready to satisfy her keen hunger with a tempting 380feast, and cover her naked, shivering limbs with decent dress, soon fairly enlists her under the banners of prostitution, where she is compelled to endure insults the most degrading, to hear oaths and imprecations, and suffer obscenity the most revolting, to which a little time speedily familiarizes her.

Endowed perhaps by nature, for better purposes, with talent, she becomes easily a proficient in all the arts and tricks of practised criminality; she gains the favour and confidence of her mistress, or more properly her gaoler, who sends her forth to levy contributions on all whom she can entangle in her toils, particularly spread with malicious enmity for the open generosity of unguarded youth. In this manner bankers’ clerks, apprentices to shop-keepers and tradesmen, and other young men in trust, are often entrapped, and lavish away money which these females induce them to pilfer from their masters or parents: neglect of business, or other irregularity, at length rouses the suspicion of the hitherto confiding employer, who now deems it necessary to resolve on dispensing with the young man’s further services, and turns him upon the world to live as he can. How often has it happened, that a desperate effort to regain that respectability thus justly forfeited, brings him to an untimely and disgraceful end, or consigns him to distant exile for life! Hence arises another pitiable waste of parental affection.

Many a valuable young man has thus been lost to his family and the world: nor is the fate of the poor unhappy females generally much more enviable. Some of them, it is true, do occasionally succeed in obtaining 381settlements from old dotards; and others in appearance enjoy all the conveniences of ease, luxury and affluence; but truth will allow the suggestion, that there is not one in a thousand who does not on some occasion or other experience every sorrow and anguish that can contribute to fill up life’s bitterest cup. Where is there, or ever has been, a woman of this abandoned class, who did not feel at some sad hour of reflection most acutely the degradation of her state? Which of them has not in the cravings of hunger, houseless and friendless, in feelings of heart-consuming and unavailing sorrow, tacitly acknowledged the slavish chains and bondage in which she was inextricably trammelled and held down by sin?

A lingering sense of shame, perhaps, drives some other of those unhappy and forlorn beings to a lodging of such a description as suits her scanty means. There, in a room which is seldom half furnished, the degraded and desolate object, with a forced and pitiable cheerfulness badly harmonizing with the settled marks of sorrow in her countenance, induces the visits of companions of the other sex, unknowing or careless that, by this wretched means of obtaining to herself a subsistence, she is leading him, in whom centre the cherished hopes, perhaps, of some respectable family, from the paths of duty into future and unavoidable iniquity. Thoughtless youths of this description find it easy to purloin money and articles from home, to secure the good opinion of their attractive mistress. The still unhappy creature, though above the dread of want, puts on a new character, becomes prudent from 382necessity, and loses no chance of improving her present harvest.

Too often, however, will pity say, the picture is reversed. Some low, designing wretch, struggling with want and subsisting by the meanest schemes, contrives to gain the fair one’s notice, is permitted to visit, and by dint of assiduities and moving representations of his altered fortunes, in a well tissued tale of distress he wins her compassion; and the generous girl (for the generosity of the confiding female heart is boundless) admits the plausible miscreant to her table, and shares with him her purse; nor has the worthless vagabond the slightest sense of shame or compunction in subsisting wholly on her miserable gains. Soon, then, she begins to feel misfortune keenly; her favouring visitors fail, the sources of her sad emolument are dried up; her clothes and trinkets go to the pawnbroker’s; her ingrate protegé, no longer to batten on her miserable resources, robs her; and the unfeeling landlord, or his vociferous drunken wife, pretends now for the first time to have found out her way of life, and, under the pretence of conscientious abhorrence, turns her into the street without an article save what is on her person.

O happy, happy daughters of virtue! when you contrast your situation with that of this frail and wretched sister, be grateful to Heaven for the blessings you enjoy; guard your every step with prudent vigilance, lest at any moment you be tempted to go astray from the ways of “pleasantness and peace.” Perhaps the misfortune of this wretched girl has drawn her from a 383state once as delightful as your own; education and the seeds of early virtue may have been implanted in her bosom, and were lovely in their growth, until blasted by the seducer: observe now her once beautiful form, worn down and emaciated by want and sickness, nay worse, tainted with that destructive disease which is ever attendant on such a course; see her, in short, pining and wasting away under multiplied sorrows, and sinking rapidly into a premature grave!

Yet, even before that relief arrives, her wretchedness is too probably increased by associating with depraved females of the same class; (for how can she avoid those amongst whom she must live?) their habit of drinking spirits becomes familiar to her; the delusive poison affords a temporary relief, but hastens on a painful, lingering death, which takes place, perhaps, in some forsaken shed, or unfurnished weatherbeaten room: there, without fire, light or comfort of any kind, there see the emaciated, diseased, starving, and desolate being sigh out the last breath of a miserable life;—no friend is nigh to comfort—no accustomed voice is heard to sooth or cheer her last awful moments of existence, or, by once pronouncing her name, to seek assurance that as yet her soul may not have taken flight!

In this faint sketch, which, mark! is from very life, I have endeavoured to point out some of the innumerable evils which follow the baneful footsteps of those flagitious traders in female virtue and happiness. How many a poor sorrowing female, who has once listened to the destructive tempter, and suffered her 384good sense to be blinded by seductive art, has been obliged to tread in such a painful road of thorns, debasement and affliction!

From the humble, bashful servant-maid, who has been seduced by the fellow servant, in order to win her over to a diabolical design laid by another as low in infamy if not condition as himself, for the ruin of her young mistress, and which too often through her persevering wicked agency becomes successful, up to the dashing woman of pleasure, maintaining a proud establishment by the base traffic and barter of female innocence,—all is a bloated mass of wickedness and falsehood. Most unhappy indeed, and lamentable, is the lot of those innocent, unpolluted girls who are drawn within the incantations of such licentious syrens, smiling but to destroy, while their execrable purpose is always enveloped in blandishments and charms, to lull the apprehensions of the modest and virtuous victim, led along as unsuspecting of danger as the lamb that licks the slaughtering knife.

The humble but industrious and virtuous girl apprenticed to a respectable dress-maker is marked down by another class of prowlers, more showy, specious and experienced. These, to dazzle at once the eyes of the hapless virgin, make a grand display of equipage, servants in livery, splendid house and luxurious table; the softest protestations, the most alluring promises, and apparently fondest expressions possible, are ever at hand. Thus, with the aid of presents, and by force of ever-renewed compliments, against which how few female minds can be duly guarded! the giddy creature in an unlucky moment forgets all the precepts of an 385anxious mother, and of a revered father whose grey hairs and sacred profession should have protected from the insult,—all vanish before the wily tempter’s skill, and disappear until woful experience opens the eyes of the infatuated girl to a sense of her lost reputation, and despair prepares her for the worst, the dernier fate of those in such condition.

Turn, inhuman destroyer!—take the last look at your heart-bleeding victim before you leave her to utter destruction. If a spark of honour, of even self-regard, lurk yet among your base unbridled passions, pause for a moment,—let recollection flash on the youthful days of your amiable wife;—such a villain as you have now become would have separated her life from yours:—You have daughters—cast a father’s look on them, and judge from your own feelings, if a father’s feelings can be yours, what you must have inflicted, in the disgrace of that ruined girl, who, now fallen and by you debased, clings around your feet, upon the hearts of a peaceful, respectable, and hitherto happy family.

Can this man make any recompense for his barbarous crime? He titles as a Lord; but vain are his immense treasures, his glittering equipages, to restore her lost innocence: no—no effort of his can sooth the remorse of her whom his guilt has made so miserable. Poor is the refuge from a worrying conscience, in the thought that ample provision has been made for the sorrower’s support, whose early death will relieve her at once from his odious bounty and her intolerable misery.

Endless as distressing would be the undertaking to 386particularize the detestable variety of iniquity thus practised; or to enumerate all the suicides, child-murders, and secret crimes which hence originate, in all their turpitude. Of this one deplorable fact I have had assurance in the case of the female convicts late under my care on board the Morley, who invariably acknowledged, when on the subject of their misfortunes, that seduction first led the way to guilt, and that the baneful career in which the sentence of the law had arrested them, might be decidedly dated from the fatal moment of their fall from virtue.

To arrest the progress of female prostitution, various expedients and measures have been proposed, and as numerous arguments urged in favour of their efficacy. The most ingenious British writer on the subject seems to be Dr. Colquhoun, whose zealous labours have long indeed been meritoriously directed to his country’s benefit. While his active vigilance has in many cases been successfully devoted to the investigation and repression of crime, his opinions in the main are correct and luminous.

In the remedy, however, which he proposes for female prostitution, his love of police system appears to me to have carried him beyond his depth, further perhaps than he intended. The measure he recommends is modestly covered by a few superficial, ingenious arguments, but, when divested of this learned covering, presents an appearance not very satisfactory to an English eye, and to that of stern virtue is even truly frightful—granting to prostitutes legal licenses!

The learned Doctor first endeavours to soften the scruples of his timid readers by argument both speculative 387and specious; after which he gravely asks, “Where then is the objection?” and then immediately answers his own question, “In vulgar prejudice only.” He continues, “By those of inferior education, whose peculiar habits and pursuits have generated strong prejudices, this excuse may be pleaded; but by the intelligent and well-informed it will be viewed through a more correct medium.”

It might have the appearance of presumptuous temerity to oppose an opinion to this sweeping dogma of the learned Doctor; for, agreeably to his definition, I must confess that I am one of those of inferior education and vulgar prejudices whom he so designates. It may however be permitted me candidly to state, that I have viewed his proposition in every possible light, and have had some few opportunities of observing the effects of such a system, but somewhat modified, in several parts of the world; and that, after reflection as close and intense as my mind is capable of giving to any subject, I have decidedly formed an opinion, that the result of such an arrangement would be the very reverse of what he pronounces. It would, I firmly believe, be impossible for ingenuity to invent any thing that could contribute more effectually to vitiate the public opinion, and entirely extinguish the moral principle, than the open toleration or licensing of public brothels.

The Doctor surely must have forgotten that indulgence in this sin, more than any other, prepares the mind for the admission of every vice, and is generally the forerunner of the most diabolical and desperate 388depravity in vulgar life; and in the higher walks even leads to dissoluteness, profligacy, and total disregard of moral and religious obligations: or would he venture with confidence “to prescribe rules ‘Thus far shall you go, and no further?’” Under the superintendence even of so able a magistrate as himself, would it be possible to apply this rule? But of this I am confident, that no plain honest man who wishes to promote the cause of morality, and the general welfare of his country, will ever desire to see this experiment tried in England.

In support of the propriety of this salutary measure, the Doctor adduces examples drawn from Holland, Italy, and India. In the first of those countries my own observation has been rather limited, though quite sufficient to convince me, that under no circumstances or modifications whatever could the Doctor’s expectations of the system in its consequences be realized. That the morals of the people of that country were formerly as pure, or “the purest of any in Europe,” as he states, I am nothing loth to admit; but that their corruption and degeneracy have been in a great measure occasioned by this very sanction, or connivance, cannot, I think, be disputed.

In Italy, it is true, the system has had a wider range, and its effects have been fully developed. The Doctor’s intercourse with that country must have been limited indeed, else he would have known, that long established habits of libertinism had indisposed and incapacitated the majority of them for all useful intellectual pursuits; and that their minds generally were 389too enervated to give birth to, much less sustain, any of those noble virtues which only and irresistibly command admiration.

Of the Italian women it is really an ungracious and painful task to be compelled at all to speak: but although I cannot in justice give them my unqualified approbation; and although censure, if it deserve that name, be given in gentleness, yet it must be declared that that prompt and resolute decision against guilt, and its indulgence, which forms so amiable a portion of the English character, is not often, I fear, to be met with in the women of Italy.

Against the opposition which he expected would be raised against his favourite plan, the Doctor urges “Plus apud me ratio valebit quam vulgi opinio;” but in proposing Italy, where morals and chastity have long dwindled to a name, and are now deplored as nearly extinct, as a model for British imitation, does he keep in sight the best part of his own maxim?

The introduction of Italian manners and customs amongst our females, might certainly gratify the utmost wish of the man of the world, and every professed rake or libertine; but it would be leaving the husband most probably no other security for his wife’s fidelity than the want of a paramour and suitable opportunity. The people of that country are notoriously licentious, practising without a blush, in open day, the most immoral and disgraceful excesses. I regret as deeply as any one, the vicious propensities of our own countrywomen, which it is grievous to observe are so extensively a subject for reprehension: yet it is far from gratifying or honouring to our nature, to entertain a conviction 390which follows from the lamentable fact, that the degradation of female chastity is, beyond all proportion, greater in Italy than it is at home.

I shall detain the reader with only a remark or two on the unhappy class of females in India, to whom the Doctor alludes as being devoted to indiscriminate intercourse, but whose morals in other respects, he says, are strictly guarded, and whose minds are not susceptible of that degree of depravity which prevails in Europe. It is with much reluctance, and no small degree of diffidence, that I feel it necessary to differ from one whose shining talents have contributed so eminently to the public good. However, as I have reason to presume that he never was in India, he must have had his information from a second, who probably had his from a third, and who most likely felt himself authorized to take advantage of the traveller’s privilege. Be this as it may, I am well assured that the purity he speaks of as there existing, is no where to be found, and that the behaviour of prostitutes in that country is marked by all the depravity of mind, and corruptness of manners, that can tend to imbrute the feeling, and fill the mind of the observer with the most sickening disgust.

But allowing the Doctor’s notion of the subject to be correct, and admitting all the force of his political maxim, “Qui non vetat peccare cum possit, jubet,”—still, I think, it would be extremely difficult, and attended with the utmost danger, to apply them to practice[32]. If the positive commands of God, and the awful 391denunciations of his wrath, can be violated and disregarded in one case, what is there to ensure obedience and respect to them in any other? In the 13th chapter 4th verse of the Hebrews it is declared, “whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” If the Legislature can grant a license to commit this crime with impunity, and thus far neither judges nor condemns, why may it not also, as moral principle alone is concerned, give one for committing murder, or any other deadly sin? In short, what would there be then to defer from trampling on the Decalogue, or the Bible itself, provided the countenance of Government, upon some view of mere policy, could be obtained in the shape and denomination of a license?

Having thus expressed an entire and unqualified disapprobation of any measure that could be construed into a public sanction of brothels, and their wretched inmates, it may be expected that I should myself substitute some efficient proposition on the subject. I should indeed consider such a task a duty, and feel pleasure in its performance, as far as my competency might extend, were I not fully satisfied that there are many, very many, in the country, whose zeal and abilities more eminently qualify them for a disquisition so important, while their political influence is such as to give them a hope, to me not in prospect, of successfully advocating the cause of innocence, virtue, religion, and social happiness.

31.  A Government order now exists, requiring the Surgeon Superintendent of every convict ship to establish a school, and perform divine worship regularly during the voyage.

32.  The above observations were written during the voyage to New South Wales, when the Author was ignorant of the heavy loss sustained by the public in the death of that highly talented Magistrate.

Printed by R. and A. Taylor.
Shoe Lane London.


Page 21, line 7 from bottom, for banisheh read banished
  67, line 12 from bottom, for the many read them any
  71, line 12 from top, for tA. M. read A. M. Same line for weathe read weather
  114, line 9 from top, for human heart read human beast
  241, line 7 for Sorrell read Sorell
  296, line 14 from bottom, for th mmonness read the commonness
  343, line 1 for ha read had

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