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188

WESTERN AUSTRALIA.

no selection, the convicts at Bermuda, when the removal took place, were by no means of that extremely bad class which his noble friend was led to suppose. The sending away of those convicts was hastened somewhat by the fact that the colonists of Western Australia were asking for

convict labour."

CHAPTER XIII.

THE CLIMATE OF BERMUDA.-THE STATE

OF JOHN

MITCHEL'S HEALTH.-HE MEETS A FRIEND IN

THE DOCTOR.

THERE can be no doubt that a long residence in Bermuda is calculated to injure the health of a European. Our convicts, though happy to go there, on account of the dietary's being better than in Spike Island prison, and the hope of larger gratuities, returned after three or four years, deteriorated in health as well as in morals.

Though working on the islands through the day, the prisoners were crowded into hulks at night. A few months' residence in one of these

190

STATE OF MITCHEL'S HEALTH.

floating prisons told powerfully on the naturally delicate health of the State convict, John Mitchel; and if he had not had a kind friend in the

medical superintendent, Doctor Hall, who observed the rapid change in time, and warned the prisoner of it, Mitchel might have left his bones in Bermuda. But the Doctor had a hard job to induce the convict to come down from his high horse and ask—we shall not say petitionfor a change of climate. No arguments that the Doctor could have employed would have produced the slightest effect on that man of iron, if he had not discovered a tear in his friend's eye. But salt water has a powerful effect on iron. We shall let John Mitchel speak for himself :

“Dec. 3rd, 1848.-Dr. Hall, the medical superintendent, came to me to-day in consequence of the continued reports made by the surgeon of this ship of my continued illness. In truth, for more than two months, I have been almost constantly ill, and that to a degree which I had no idea of in all my life before, though an asthmatic

CLIMATE OF BERMUDA.

191

patient of ten years' standing. Dr. Hall told me plainly, I could not expect to improve in health, at all, in this climate, especially in confinementthat Bermuda is notoriously and excessively unfriendly to asthmatic persons; and that I must grow worse and worse until my frame breaks down altogether; in short, that if I be kept here much longer I must die. “ And is it," I asked, “a settled part of the

, transportation system, that an invalid is to be confined to that penal colony, of all others, which is most likely to kill him. I am sure the English have convict establishments in many other countries?

“The Government,” said he, “never make any. distinction of that kind. I assure you many hundreds of men have died here, who need not have died if I could have had them removed to a more healthy climate." - Is there no escape

for
me,

then ?
“Why, with respect to you, I do think some-

, thing may be done. And, in fact, I have come to

192

GOVERNMENT FORMALITIES.

you to-day to urge it upon you, to make the necessary exertion for this purpose. You must absolutely apply for your removal, or at least to be taken out of this strict and solitary confinement."

“But I have never," I answered, "since they made a felon of me, asked for any kind of indulgence or mitigation. I was prepared for the worst the Government could do to me; and, live or die, I cannot make any appeal ad misericordiam.

“No,” said the Doctor, “but write to the Governor, informing him of your state of health ; tell him I have announced to you that you cannot live under your present circumstances, and refer to me for my report.”

“ And why not tell him all this yourself? You know it."

“I cannot; I cannot. The form must be complied with. I must not interfere officially, unless upon reference regularly made to me, and that can only be done when you bring the thing under the notice of the Governor formally.”

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