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2-068 (Original)

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author,male,Boyes, George Thomas William Blamey,44 addressee
Narrative Discourse
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Plaint Text :
Private Written
Webby, 1989
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February 13th
At home all morning. In the afternoon rode Bryant's horse beyond Roseway across the stream and into the woods on the other side. Magnificent scenery - Mount Wellington rearing his giant head above the tall trees at every turn - and the deep purple shadows of the Ravines formed fine contrasts with the bright parts rich with streams of yellow light from the declining sun.
Such scenes never fail to have a powerful effect over my mind and heart. The one appears to become sensible of its adaptation for the highest conceptions; seems to feel its connection with the great creator of all things; imbibes as it were conviction of its immortality. The other swells with gratitude to the being of whose fatherly protection and animating though awful presence, it feels itself the peculiar object. These sensations lose none of their freshness and strength by repetition; on the contrary, they seem to become more intense and perfect in their development by the frequency of their occurrence. This is not enthusiasm - there is no fanaticism in this. The heart and soul expand under the influence of such natural objects, wild and magnificent 'tis true, in the greatest degree - increase as it were in volume, become eminently susceptible of their enlarged capacity for enjoyment and all these as naturally as the lungs become inflated and invigorated with the pure and balmy breeze which seems to infuse new life and health and elasticity into the most secret recesses of our animal being. [110]
If my sensations are participated by others generally - there requires little urging from our spiritual teachers to inspire us with a pure and a holy love of our creator.
Read in Joshua.
October 16th
Raining and blowing hard in Squalls. More snow upon the mountain than yesterday, and more yesterday than the day before. Cold wind.
At home all day reading prayers and lessons and some chapters in the Bible. Flag up for a brig.
In my last visit to New Norfolk I was accompanied by a promising young man, the Assistant Surgeon of the 63rd Regiment - previously to our leaving on the Monday he had been requested to visit the Hospital at Bridgewater where there is about 100 men working in chains forming a bridge and causeway across the Derwent. A Mr Officer of New Norfolk whose duty it was to attend the sick at Bridgewater had, with the view of saving himself a twelve mile ride, made the request of my companion and apparently he could not have selected a substitute better calculated for summary proceedings:
The Chain gang is composed of Convict assigned servants and others, whose misconduct has brought them into a situation which to men not entirely callous to bodily suffering nor lost to a sense of human degradation, must be one of exquisite moral and physical misery.
The Convicts are there for a definite time varying from one to twelve months - and on expiration of their sentence they are either returned to their Masters or transferred to Public Works of less painful employment.
Wooden Barracks have been erected for their use and also for the military guard placed over them, the latter commanded by some subaltern officer - whose apparent tact has pointed him out to the Government as well adapted for such a duty. Here the convicts labour, and with short intervals of refreshment and repose it may be said incessantly. They quarry stone, break it, shape it - or not as required, wheel it to the Causeway and apply it either to form a foundation or in the erection of piers upon foundations already formed. The work is almost of an endless description - from the extent and depth of the mud in [NN] , which it is constructing, and the unhappy labourers are therefore not even cheered by viewing the progress of their daily toil. [111]
Within the Court Yard appropriated for their use are seen some of the means by which discipline is preserved. Here stands constantly the triangle - and there ranged along one side of the small square are cells for close incarceration. These are of a peculiar construction and owe their origin to some modern Phalaris - who it is hoped brought the efficacy of the invention to the test in his own person.
Each cell is about 7 feet in length by 2 feet 6 in height and breadth; of course a stout man could not turn himself and when put in durance must be pushed in head foremost and when relieved drawn out by the heels - (However I need not indulge in speculation. There are few if any stout men amongst these poor wretches; a more speedy means of diminishing the bulk of human expansion could hardly have been devised than the treatment at this penal station.)
The cells when not occupied by the refractory are the depositories for the sick and when used on the latter occasion are dominated "The Hospital".
The entrance to each is secured by a strong wooden frame with a heavily barred gate swinging upon hinges which admits cold or heat in unmitigated intenseness.
There are other modest of punishment besides the cells and Triangle - such as reducing the quantity of food, depriving one of soup and another of meat etc.
I have been thus particular in describing this penal station because it is very probably a specimen of the rest - and I believe they have never yet appeared on paper.
After a short consultation with the Officer commanding, the sick were ordered to be assembled and the Surgeon proceeded to inspect them. They consisted of 12 or 14 squalid famine stricken distressed wretches - drawn up in a line in front of the Barracks. Approaching the nearest the Surgeon enquired his complaint.
"I have got a bad eye Sir and can't bear the light."
'Let me look at them - how long have they been in this state?'
"They have been getting bad about ten days Sir."
The Surgeon, then speaking to the overseer in attendance:
'See that this man washes his eyes three or four times a day with warm water and let him work in the shade."
The second in the line was then asked what he had done to his arms? [112]
"I haven't done anything Sir." replied the man, "but they are all come out in this way. I have no peace with them night or day."
"Oh!" exclaimed the Officer of the guard, "He has just got the itch, that's all!"
The surgeon then desired the overseer to give the man a dose of salts and let him go to work as usual.
"What is the matter with you?' said the Surgeon to a third.
"I don't know Sir - my knee is very much swelled and it has been getting worse and worse every day for the last month."
"Oh you have struck it, I perceive." rejoined the Surgeon, "You must bathe it several times a day in warm water, and, Overseer, let him rest today from work and tomorrow his knee will be well."
Another poor fellow's leg had been sore for three weeks and on the Surgeon's intimation took off a portion of a dirty cotton handkerchief under which was spread upon a broad unhealthy sore, about two square inches of an old chequed shirt much soiled with long use.
"I see how it is," said the Surgeon. "You don't keep it clean."
"Yes Sir," replied the man, "I do as well as I can."
"You do no such thing," reiterated the Surgeon, "Wash it frequently with warm water and, Overseer - take this man from the wheelbarrow for the present and let him break stones only."
"Why Martin," here interrupted the Officer on duty: "You were in hospital some time ago."
"Yes Sir," replied the poor wretch, "But I was very ill."
"Pooh," interjected the Officer, "I'll tell you what - a damned good flogging would be the best thing for him. However let him break stones as the Doctor directs."
"Thank you your honour," said the man, "I would rather go to work than stay in the Hospital." (I have already described the oven-like dens called the Hospital).
I was rather surprised at the extreme simplicity of the remedies prescribed by the young Surgeon which in every case consisted of either cold or warm water or a dose of salts, although the latter being a costly medicine was directed in only one instance.
I learnt afterwards that the prescription was regulated not by the necessity of the case but by the state of the medicine chest, which the Surgeon previously to the inspection had been informed contained neither more or less than a few ounces of Epsom salts. The Officer referred to in this mem. had been recently relieved from the station and was then in the temporary performance of duty during the illness of his successor. Upon finishing the Sick Inspection this Gentleman looked wise - shook his head and affected to complain of the number of Sick. While during the period of his commanding he said there were only two cases. One of these was ill when sent to the gang and the other had his leg crushed by a mass of rock falling upon it. He was of the opinion that a more liberal application of the Cat o' nine tails would render the attendance of a Medical Officer at the Station altogether superfluous, but it was no business of his and therefore he said nothing about it. [113]