Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

TRANSPORTATION NOT DETERRENT.

253

for 1854-5,* "will show that the portion of the sentences, which involved removal to a distant colony, differed but little from voluntary emigration, and was looked upon, by the majority, as a great boon. A man landing in Van Diemen's Land, with a ticket-of-leave, possessed advantages which could not be conceded to ordinary emigrants, for having been brought out by the Government, he retained a claim for employment or support.

“ Had these conditions been made known in the streets of any large town, thousands would have offered themselves for transportation on these

a

terms."

I speak from daily and hourly experience when I say that transportation, in these modern days of emigration, has no terrors for the convict.

More than the half-as I have shown

* We know of nothing in the shape of public reports, superior to those valuable State documents, which form a new and interesting department in English literature.

254

AN EXPERIMENT IN FRANCE.

[ocr errors]

in another place---of our intermediate convicts, voluntarily emigrate. The news of a shipis the best news an Irish convict can hear. Were I to proclaim, on the public square of Spike Island Prison, that every prisoner who chose it, would be transported to Western Australia, I am convinced that six out of the seven hundred, would give in their names for transportation.

An experiment of this kind was tried by the French Government, in 1852, on the prisoners confined in the Bagnes of Rochefort, Brest, and Toulon. As their sentence was that of penal servitude, they could not be transported against their wishes. But the alternative was offered to them of remaining in France, or of going to French Guiana, in South America.

Three thousand of these poor forçats, at once were registered for transportation : “ Trois mille environ, dans les premières heures, demandèrent, spontanément à être déportés, tellement la perspective d'un peu plus de liberté, et d'un changement dans leur position leur offrait d'attrait, telle

CONVICT EMIGRATION.

255

ment aussi la déportation les intimidait peu.”

As we can no longer place transportation under the head of punishment, why not change the name, and call it EMIGRATION, and place it under the head of motives to good conduct? I am convinced that no other motive would have half the moral effect, and that the majority of prisoners would willingly devote the whole of their gratuities to promote it. It would remove the danger or evil connected with transportation, namely, that of a number of convicts going out together, and getting located together. Let each man choose for himself. The world is wide, and thousands are emigrating. The multitude will absorb and improve the one. The one will not be able to affect the multitude.

[blocks in formation]

The new convict settlement at Fremantle, on the Swan River, in Western Australia, appears to have worked admirably. Nothing could be better than the conduct of the English prisoners who had undergone the new discipline introduced by Sir Joshua Jebb into English prisons.

The case was very different with the Irish famine

CONDUCT OF THE CONVICTS.

257

prisoners, whose want of discipline and previous training led the Governor of the colony, and the Superintendent of Convicts, to form very erroneous opinions respecting the Irish character.

“ The remarkable absence of crime," writes the Controller General, in his report for 1853, “previous to the arrival of the Irish convictships, is a most gratifying proof of the wellworking of the

system.

Out of 500 prisoners, only three offences were recorded in August, and six in September, 1854.”

The Governor, in his despatch to Sir George Grey, bearing date September, 1854, says, after praising the general conduct of the convicts :

“Some of the Irish, per ship Phæbe Dunbar, and Robert Small, have proved, in many instances, I regret to say, an exception to this very gratifying state of things."

The Superintendent, writing from Fremantle, January 10th, 1854, speaks of their “ab

from prayers,” their “irreverence at prayers,” their “insolence and idleness upon

sence

VOL. II.

S

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »