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DIFFICULTY OF ESCAPE.

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was not the case in other colonies, and more especially in Van Diemen’s Land.

The reader may wish, after the last two or three dry statistical chapters, to see something of convict life in the Bush.

VOL. II.

T

CHAPTER XXIII.

CONVICTS IN THE BUSH.-HOWE AND WHITEHEAD.

-THE APPREHENSION OF HOWE-VISIT OF A

BUSHRANGERS' PARTY.—THE FAMOUS DALTON.

-HIS APPREHENSION AND DEATH.

CONVICTS in New South

South Wales and

and Van

Diemen's Land had continual opportunities of escaping, of which a large number availed

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themselves.

From the 3rd of January, 1822, to the

, 16th of May, 1827, no less than 116 absconded from the small penal settlement of Macquarie Harbour, in Van Diemen's Land.

The condition of a convict, who takes to

CONVICTS IN THE BUSH.

275

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the backwoods, is a desperate one. It is thought that 75 of the 116 who absconded from Macquarie Harbour, perished in the woods.

One of the 116 was hanged for murdering and eating his companion. Two were shot by the military. Eight are known to have been murdered, and six of the eight eaten by their companions. Of 24 that escaped to settled districts, and emerged like gaunt and ghastly spectres from the bush, 13 were hanged for bush-ranging, and two for murder. A hun. dred and one out of the hundred and sixteen

came to an untimely death.

Who would attempt escaping to the bush after this?

But some escaped convicts have subsisted for years, by preying on the flocks and herds of the outlying colonists, and on some sions by attacking their dwellings and per

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sons.

One of the most distinguished of these men

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was named Michael Howe, who took to the Bush in Van Diemen's Land, in 1814; with a gang of twenty-nine followers.

The Government had to succumb. An annesty was offered to those who would give themselves up—with the exception of those who had committed murder. Howe accepted the amnesty.

But preferring wild life in the Bush to the drudgery and monotony of convict labour, he returned to his old practices in the spring of that year, 1815, and joined a party of eight men and a black woman, under the captaincy of convict named Whitehead. Their robberies and burnings were so frequent as to induce a party of nine colonists, with a police magistrate, to go in pursuit. They tracked them to a large hollow tree, within whose capacious trunk the eight convict men, and black woman, lay ensconced.

“We have them at last,” quoth Mr. Humphreys, the police magistrate.

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A NEST OF HORNETS,

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Bang, bang,” went the rifles, from the heart of the hollow tree, and down went Mr. Carlile and Mr. O'Birne, mortally wounded.

“Bang, bang, bang!” Every shot told from the loop-holed tree, and three others were put hors de combat. They had found a nest of hornets. The convicts escaped without scratch.

The colonists armed, and sent military parties in pursuit, and offered a reward of fifty guineas for the apprehension of any one of the party.

The convicts replied by sacking the house of the police officer, Mr. Humphreys, and destroying everything they were unable to remove. They also visited the house of a Mr. MacCarthy, one of the nine who visited the hollow tree, and fired into his windows. But here they reckoned without their host. Mac Carthy suspected the visit, and had invited a party of the 46th to meet them, who returned their fire, and killed Whitehead, their leader.

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