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Broadside entitled 'The Unhappy Transport's Letter to his Father and Mother in Edinburgh'


THE Unhappy Transport's                                                         

Letter to his Father and Mother in Edinburgh.1833               

September 4th, 1831.


I embrace this opportunity of writing,
hoping these lines will find you well. With re-
spect to myself I have little to say : I have been
most miserable in this unhappy land. I have suf-
fered every degradation of life : insult upon insult
have been heaped upon me ; I have been obliged
to associate with the most depraved of human be-
ing, my master's men. Separated from all hope
of comfort and enjoyment, debarred from all re-
ligious worship, I have been ready to murmur at
the decrees of the Almighty. What can I say to
you ? I am living one hundred and fifty miles
from Sydney, Up the mountains, forty miles from
any place of worship.   The voice of prayer is never
heard, and all is blasphemy and wickedness ; and
I have to labour in the field at all kinds of toil, un-
der the heat of a meridian sun, and am become a-
like indifferent to comforts of all kinds. When I
am hungry I eat-when I am thirsty I drink ; I
receive my mess as another.    We grind in a hand-
mill-we bake in the ashes-and we live in miser-
able huts, which admit both wind and rain. A
sheet of cork and a bundle of straw is our bed, and
a blanket is our covering ; but fatigue is ours, and
we sleep as well as if on beds of down. A shirt
and duck trowsers form our dress. I have learned
to reap, to shear sheep, to fell timber, to burn it
off, in short, I can do almost all laborious work.
Gracious God ! could the rising youth but have a
single glance of the prisoner in New South Wales,
they would surely shun the temptation to crime.
The slightest offence provokes flowing ; insolence
is the bug-bear of the colony ; for this I have seen
men sent to an iron gang, to work in chains, and

be half fanished, or tied up to receive the igno-
minious punishment of sixty or seventy-five lashes.
Shame on the name of Englishmen ! A man who
calls himself a settler , first imposes upon his slaves,
and goads them on to speak, and then drags them
before a magistrate to be lashed and tortured for
insolence. If a slave speak, the wretch's stomach
is taxed. We all feel a tenfold degradation   here ;
we feel that we are slaves to paltry tyrants, who
seem as if they were born to add to the stings and
torture's of wretched criminels. If a Government
servant sees his master's property going to ruin, it
is ten to one but he passes on and takes no notice ;
he argues that it is no interest of his ; and thus
the settler, by not studying his men's interest, for-
gets his own. The men receive no wages, and not
suffcient clothing   True, the authorities will say,
" Why do you not complain to us ? and it shall be
remedied " ; but do you think that many will, or
dare complain, when the authorities will support
the settler, and that the master is sure to take his
revenge ! Tea, sugar, and tobacco, are called in-
dulgences, and rest with the discretion of the mas-
ter, who seldom forgets to use his power like a
giant. With respect to liberty, it is a thing that
few now get possession of ; a Lifer must serve eight
years with one master,-ten with two,-and one
year additional for every additional master   The
smile of bitterness comes over my face whilst I
write this ; may God enable me to overcome this
sensation. Why is a man debarred all chance of
liberty, whose conduct may be irreproachable ?
Much of the misery and crime committed by con-
victs may be attributed to the almost total extinc-
tion of their hope of liberty.   As to myself, I once
did think of a mitigation, but all hopes are gone ;
I am like a piece of mechanism ; my spirit is so
such broken by disappointments and hardships,

that I feel a dreadful indifference creep upon me-
my life appears a blank, and futurity is my only
source of expectation.   One step alone appears be-
fore me ; I shall consider of it twelve months, and
then make my election.

Immediately on my landing in September 1827,
my fellow-userers and I were assigned to settlers
up the country. The master I was then assigned
to is still living, and I can have his testimonials as
to the blamelessness of my conduct.    I have also
the strongest testimonials of good conduct during
our passage. The Superintendant was very anxious
to gain me some situation suitable to me, but the
letters he wrote to the Secretary were neglected by
the chief mate, who was to send them on shore ;
and I was in consequence assigned to my present
employer, as his Excellency had signed it, and it
could not be reversed.

My health is much impaired, but complaints are
in vain. I am sorry to inform you that poor Rob
Smith was lately executed at Sydney, in company
with five others, for being concerned in the robbery
and murder of their master and mistress.    But al-
though such executions are frequent, the repetition
of crime is daily occurring.    We are not permitted
to see a paper ; and, indeed, if we are seen to con-
verse much with each other, it is ten to one but we
are either dragged before a magistrate and punish-
ed with a severe flogging, or else some of our pro-
visions ore stopped.   I hope and trust you will
make this letter as public as possible ; and that it
may be the means of turning many from their pre-
sent dishonest practices, is the earnest prayer of



When you write to me, direct in the same manner
as you sent the last

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Probable date published: 1831   shelfmark: L.C.Fol.74(143)
Broadside entitled 'The Unhappy Transport's Letter to his Father and Mother in Edinburgh'
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