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STEALING PROOF COPY."

223

no

depended too much on the bottle for his editorial inspiration, and as Mr. Watt was a moderate man, in this line, the latter soon gained the entire control of the paper.

Watt laboured hard to show there was moral difference between a convict and a free emigrant, to the great annoyance of the colonists, who only waited a fit opportunity to deprive him of his ticket-of-leave. He was charged with living in concubinage with a female prisoner, but the evidence broke down. But Watt was not long in affording his enemies another opportunity of assailing him. He induced a vict compositor in the Herald Office -- a rival journal — to steal a copy of a number of that paper, which had been printed, but suppressed before delivery, as it was supposed to contain a libel against a gentleman in the colony. Watt got the paper, quoted the libellous matter, attached Heraldto the foot of it, and posted it to the gentleman assailed. The trick was discovered. He was tried on the charge

con

224

LEADER OF A BUSH PARTY.

of “stealing proof copy; " but, as the jury were composed chiefly of discharged convicts, whose moral equality, if not superiority, he had always upheld in the Gazette, they found "Not guilty, inasmuch as the property was not of sufficient value to constitute felony."

But the judge represented to the Colonial authorities that Watt ought to be removed from Sydney. He was accordingly sent to Port Macquarie, where he married the widow of the former proprietor of the Gazette. Here he managed to get two Government officers dismissed, which led to an investigation that resulted in his losing his ticket-of-leave. He therefore absconded, but was retaken, and flogged, as a "runaway. ”

He absconded a second time, and became the leader of a bush party of escaped convicts ; but hearing that eighty guineas reward were placed on the head of a more distinguished leader, named Howe (of whom we shall speak in the next chapter), he arranged, with a stock

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keeper, named Drew, to capture him, and succeeded.

As the three were proceeding to town, Watt and Drew, who were well armed, stepped, for a moment, in advance of the captive, who seized the opportunity of disengaging his hands, and stabbing Watt in the back. He then took Watt's

gun

and shot Drew dead. Watt, though deeply wounded, managed to escape to the bush, while Howe was reloading the gun to finish him. He was subsequently sent to Sydney for trial, where he died of his wound.

We now and then meet with remarkable in

stances of gratitude. The following is sui generis -gratitude for being transported :

General B when brevet-major, succeeded in arresting a famous housebreaker, in Cork, who was transported. “Many years after," as General B- tells the story, "I was stationed in Sydney, where frequent presents of game, fruit, and flowers were sent to me. It was some time before I made the acquaintance of the

VOL. II,

226

GRATITUDE OF A CONVICT.

donor. 'He was the ci-devant housebreaker from

Cork. He came to thank me for getting him transported, and for keeping his secret in the colony. For keeping his secret he had no occasion to thank me, as I had quite forgotten him. He was at this time a rich man, living in a good house, in Sydney."

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were under the immediate charge

charge of the Government of the colony. In Van Diemen’s Land, all the convicts, who were mechanics, were retained in the service of Government, and placed in the engineer department, the loan gang, or the police.

On the other hand, the convicts who had been assigned to

to settlers, and who had seriously committed themselves, were sent back to the custody of Government, and placed either in chain gangs, on the public roads, or

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