The New Zealand Evangelist
This subject is at present disturbing many of the dependencies of the British Crown. The present Colonial Minister has applied to the respective Governors for information on the matter; and the answers returned will be any thing but such as he is supposed to wish. Permission to pour the outcasts of British society into the colonies was the thing wished for; and it was hoped that from the scarcity of labour experienced and complained of in the colonies, there would be a ready acquiescence. The hope has not been realized. From most of the colonies, the answer has been “No!”
The boon has been offered to this country, if accepted it will prove a curse, well-nigh incurable, and the effects will be felt for generations after the system of sending the exiles may have ceased. But few would derive pecuniary benefit from the measure, and all classes would be affected more or less by the moral contagion. The fact is, there is no such want of labour in this colony as would justify the introduction of that unhappy class of men even to the extent of one ship load. It would be better if we must have them, that they should be real convicts, and under proper supervision, than the class Earl Grey proposes to send. He perhaps hopes they are reformed characters, but experience in the colonies leads us to doubt the fact of their being so. While under restraint it is easy for them to appear so, but give them liberty, and expose them to temptation, and see what would be the result. What kind of reformation had been effected in the case of the Parkhurst boys? What sort of characters are the probationers, and the reformed from the Pentonville Penitentiary? These constitute a large proportion of the criminal cases in Port Phillip, and other neighbouring places.
Many months would not elapse after the arrival of the unhappy beings, before there would be a chain-gang in our streets, offending both eye and ear.— page 271 We should soon be made a penal colony, our roads would soon be infested with foot-pads and highwaymen, and bush-ranging and its horrors would be inflicted upon us. A painful sense of insecurity would be induced, and a disposition to doubt the honesty of every person that happened to be unknown.
The evil would not be restricted to the settlers, it would spread to the natives, many of these men would soon get among them, and being able tutors in crime, would find apt scholars in the aborigines, and the progress of the latter in civilization and religion greatly retarded.
If the curse be inflicted on us, the character of the colony will be lost, it will no longer appear to be the eligible field for emigration it was represented to be, and really is.
The New Zealand Company ought to oppose the measure with might and main. The Missionary Societies operating in this country will no doubt do so with a zeal worthy of themselves.
The settlers in this Province ought in a much more general and strenuous manner than has yet been done protest against the proposal now made. Send us “exiles!” a soft word for convicts, among which will be found the murderer, the forger, the burglar, and the perpetrators of every other crime prohibited both by the decalogue and the statute book! We say nay. We should all say nay. If the minister who proposes doing this wicked thing, were to propose sending us the small pox, or the cholera, (supposing it in his power to do so), we should have less reason to execrate the proposal, or to shudder at the consequences. Let all men lift up their voices and their hands against the perpetration of the injury which the minister is willing (it is hoped ignorantly) to inflict.
Rich men, (if there are any). Poor men. Honest men. One and all say, No! Religions men, pray to him who has the hearts of all men in his hands, that he may turn the heart of the Colonial Minister from his ruthless purpose.page 272
On Wednesday night last, the 30th ult., about 8 o'clock, Mr W. F. Christian, while entering his house at the back of his store, was attacked by two ruffians. The first struck him on the head with a spade. Mr. C. sprang forward and seized him, but while holding him down and calling on the police, the other came forward, and with a knife or razor, cut across his throat. Mr. C. sprung upon the second; the fellows then fled, and he pursued them as far as the Scotch Church, but became faint through loss of blood, and was obliged to desist. Four men have been taken up on suspicion. Mr. C. has identified two of them, as those who attacked him. His wounds are found to be not dangerous, but a hair-breadth deeper and they might have proved fatal.—His store had been entered, but time had not been allowed them to do much damage The men apprehended are strangers, lately arrived from some of the neighbouring colonies.
Had we Exiles here, such events would be of weekly occurrence. Neither life nor property would ever be safe. From such a calamity we would devoutly pray,
“Good Lord Deliver Us!”