I now began to feel the effects of transportation. I worked on the roads with the chain gang in the day, and slept in the barracks at night, without a bed, or covering; whether any was allowed for me I cannot say, I had none.
On the 22nd of September I was sent to the government domain farm, New Town, and here for a long time I found it very little better than at the barracks. Eight men, with only five beds, so of course the new comer must go without; and this was my portion, until some of the older hands unfortunately got into trouble, and I was entitled to a bed, having been longer on the farm than others.
Our hut was none of the best: in fine weather we could lie in bed and view the stars, in foul weather feel the wind and rain; and this added greatly to increase those rheumatic pains which were first brought on by cold irons round the legs and hard lying; and which, in all probability, will be my companions until I reach the tomb.
At the government farm I continued until I was exempted from government labour: once during that time, I wrote to the governor, hoping I might be allowed to be assigned off to a master, but received no answer. Sometime in the month of November, 1835, my character was inquired after by the governor, and this was repeated at different times for two months, as the overseer on the farm told me, and the last time his Excellency made the following inquiry: “Is no there no fault whatever to be found with Loveless? Does he never neglect any part of his work?” &c. &c., which was answered in the negative. In the beginning of December, 1835, I was taken to the police office, charged with neglect of duty. W. Gun Esq., was the sitting magistrate at the time. “Well,” said the magistrate, “what have you brought this man here for?” - “For neglect of duty, Sir,” said the overseer. - “In what manner has he neglected his duty; what is the man?” - “The man is shepherd and stock-keeper to the governor on the domain farm, and all the cattle, tame and wild, are put into his care: he is expected to see them all every day; nine of the wild cattle were taken to the public pound yesterday, and he did not miss them until this morning.” time - “I have not heard a clearer charge of neglect of duty for a long; what have you to say my man, in answer to this charge?” - “It is true,” I said, “I have the charge of all the cattle, and I am expected to see the wild cattle in the bush once every twenty four hours. I rise in the morning at sunrise, or before, and take the sheep to the bush to feed; I then return to the farm and milk nine cows and suckle as many calves; I am requested to follow the sheep and not lose sight of them, for fear of dogs which often get among and worry them; I am ordered to search for the wild cattle to see that none of them are missing; I had just been weaning the lambs, and the ewes being very restless, I was afraid to leave them; and this, Sir, was the reason the cattle were taken to the pound and I did not miss them.” - “Is all this the truth that the man has been telling me?” said the magistrate. - “Yes, Sir.” - “How long have you known this man?” - “Nine months.” - “Did you ever know him to neglect his duty before?” - “No, Sir, never.” - “Then you do not think that he went away from his duty now, but that, as he says, he was with the sheep in consequence of having weaned the lambs?” - “Yes, Sir, what he has told you is true, but then he has neglected his duty in losing the cattle.” - “But do you not think the man has more duty than he can perform? I really think it is a great pity you should have brought the man here. I shall return you to your duty, go to your duty, my man.” - “I thank you, Sir,” said I; for I went in full expectation of getting fifty lashes.
December 29th - I went to the police office to answer a note my overseer received from the magistrate to know if my wife should be sent out to join me in the colony, and when I entered his presence the following conversation took place: “I have sent for you, Loveless,” said Mr. Spode, the magistrate, “to know if you wish your wife and family to be sent over to join you in this colony, if government will grant them the facility.” - “I hope you will allow me to ask a question before I say any thing about my wife and children,” said I. - “What is that ?” - “Am I about to obtain my liberty?” - “ Liberty ! what do you mean?” - “Is there a prospect of my obtaining my free pardon?” - “Not that I know; that depends upon the ministry at home.” - “Then, Sir, I can have nothing at all to say on the subject while I am a prisoner.” - “You audacious rascal, will you come to insult me thus, after I have been at the pains of writing and sending for you, and all for your own advantage.” - “I beg your pardon, Sir, I did not mean to insult you.” - “You lie, you rascal, you did; and do you mean to continue that, obstinate fellow?” Here I was silent, knowing what the cruel system would have exposed me to; if I had simply answered “yes.” I should have been charged with insolence, and punished accordingly. “But,” continued he, “go to your work,” - “I will go, Sir,” - “Go instantly, or I will give you a d.....d good flogging.”
January 7th, 1836 , I was again sent for by Mr. Spode, and when I got to the police office he began, “Well, Loveless, I have sent for you once more.” - “Yes, Sir, and here I am.” - “I want to know if you have any objection that your wife and family should be sent over to you? And let me tell you before you answer me, it is intended for your advantage.” - “Nothing could give me so much satisfaction as to join my wife and children had I my liberty, but I do not want them here while I am a prisoner.” - “You want to be above the government, and tell them what they must do.” - “No, Sir, I do not want to be above the government, nor tell them what they must do; but I tell you, rather than be the instrument of bringing my wife and children into the distress of this colony, such as I feel it, I will remain as I am as long as I live.” He then ordered me back.
January the 24th, 1836 , his Excellency the governor, came out to the farm where I was living, and, walking with me into the field, he asked me if I had any objection that government should send over my wife and family to me, as they had offered to do it free of expense. I told him I had objections. “I should like to know your objections,” said he. - “I should be sorry to send for my wife and children to come into misery.” - “Misery! What do you mean?” - “Why, Sir, I have seen nothing but misery since I came into this country.” - “How long have you been in the country?” - “About seventeen months.” -”And how is it that you have seen nothing but misery?” - “Because the food and clothing allowed to government men only renders them miserable. It is no better than slavery.” - “Oh, no, there are no slaves under the British dominions; you are only prisoners.” - “You may call it by what name you please, Sir, I call it slavery, and that of the worst description.” - “But are you willing that your wife should come over? Don't you think that you could do very well together here.” - “I do not know that I could.” - “How is it you don't know? You are a good farming man, and you are a good shepherd, are you not?” - “As to that, other people are the best judges. I know nothing of what the colony can afford.” - “Well, I think you could do well with your wife in this country; she would do very well here.” - “Sir, I should be a monster to send for my wife to come over here, and see no way of supporting her; what could I do with my wife while I am a prisoner?” - “I have no doubt but you will have your liberty as soon as your wife arrives; I would gladly give you indulgence myself, but that I dare not, in consequence of an act of parliament passed that no seven year's man is to obtain a ticket of leave till he has been four years in the colony. Government has sent out to know how you have conducted yourself since you have been here, and I have sent home an excellent character of you to them. How would you support your wife and family in England ?” - “By my labour, Sir.” - “And why cannot you support them by your labour here?” - “I consider, while they are in England they are surrounded with friends; if they were here it might be otherwise.” - “Well, consider of it, and let me know in the course of two or three days.”
I did so; and I considered what I had often been told, and what I had good authority to believe, that if a man opposes the authorities, he becomes a marked man, and parties are looking out to get a case against him to entangle him. Numbers have thus fallen victims to revenge, to the utter deprivation of their reputation, property, and liberty. See Hobart Town Newspapers, for 1835 and 1836.
January the 27th, I wrote a letter to my wife, requesting her to come to Van Dieman's Land; and sent it, unsealed, to the governor. February the 5th, my superintendent sent to me, saying, “George Loveless, I am requested, by a note from the magistrate, to send you to the police office without delay; you had better, therefore, repair thither as soon as possible.”
I went out, and when there, Mr. Spode gave me a ticket, the following is a copy: “I am directed by his Excellency the governor, in accordance with his Majesty's government, to give George Loveless (848, per William Metcalfe) a ticket, exempting him from the government labour, to employ himself to his own advantage, until further orders. Principal Superintendent's Office, Josiah Spode, February the 5th, 1836 .”
I was not allowed to receive the above ticket until I gave them some place I called my home, which was registered in their books, that no inconvenience might arise in finding me if required.
I now had my liberty to prove what the colony could afford; and I soon found, to my sorrow, the force of the observation I made to the governor a few days before. I was a stranger in the colony, without money, without clothes, without friends, and without a home. In this situation I travelled the country seeking employment; and I have walked fifty miles without breaking my fast. I soon returned to Hobart Town . After a week or two I got a little employment; and as soon as possible advertised for a situation and found a master, in whose service I remained until I left the country. This gentleman gave me the privilege of reading his newspapers in regular succession. Early in the month of September, he brought me the London Dispatch, dated I believe, April the 2nd. It contained a of Sir W. Molesworth, in reference to Orange Lodges, the conduct of the Duke of Cumberland, Lord Kenyon, and the Bishop of Salisbury. It stated, that shortly after the above speech was delivered, Lord J. Russell gave notice, “that orders were forwarded that the Dorchester Unionists were not only to be set at liberty, but also to be sent back to England , free of expense, and with every necessary comfort.”
I instantly copied the paragraph. September the 16th, the Hobart Town 'Tasmanian' mentioned the above statement, as from the London newspapers, the editor remarking at the time (for it was when the whole colony, with a few exceptions, was raising the cry against Governor Arthur's maladministration, and the editor of the 'Tasmanian' was one of those exceptions), in vindication of Governor Arthur's humane conduct, “He had no doubt, the gentlemanly spirit and humanity of Colonel Arthur had sent the whole of the men back before that time.” And, as a proof that Governor Arthur was a man of the above description, he observed, “that orders were sent from the home government to work the Dorchester Unionists on the roads! but that order had not been put into execution by the governor, thereby relieving the Secretary of State from the trouble of retracting what he had declared in the House of Commons, that the men had not been subjected to any extraordinary punishment.”
I waited three weeks, and supposing that sufficient time had elapsed, I resolved to address the governor to inquire if he knew anything about it. But, fearing that a private letter might be lost, I addressed the following to R. L. Murray, Esq., editor of the 'Tasmanian': “Sir, Of late frequent mention has been made in the Tasmanian of the men known as the Dorchester Unionists, and of the home government in reference to them. Last week you mentioned the subject again, and observed, 'No doubt that Colonel Arthur has sent the whole of the men home before this time.' I do not know whether Colonel Arthur has received orders from home; I should like to know. If his excellency has received intelligence to that effect, I hope he will have the goodness to communicate that knowledge to me before he leaves these shores. I hereby offer you my sincere thanks for the sympathy you manifest towards that fate of some half-dozen humble individuals, who, in 1834, were transported to these colonies for unwillingly and ignorantly giving offence. Few can imagine; experience alone teach; what it is to be bereaved of, and torn from, those who are dear to us; and who are still dearer to me than could possibly be all the treasures of the world; wife and children. A Dorchester Unionist.”............................... download full text below
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