Australian Access Federation

You are here: Home Corpora Corpus of Oz Early English 2-136 (Original)

2-136 (Original)

Item metadata
author,male,Exclusives,un addressee
Word Count :
Plaint Text :
Government English
Petitions & Proclamations
Clark, 1977
Document metadata

2-136.txt — 4 KB

File contents

The Petition of the undersigned Members of Council, Magistrates, Clergy, Landholders, Merchants, and other Free Inhabitants of New South Wales.
To the King's most Excellent Majesty.
Most humbly Sheweth,
That your Petitioners, being deeply concerned in whatever effects the welfare of this remote portion of your Majesty's Dominions, feel it to be their duty, on the occasion of the expiration of the existing Act of Parliament, and the enactment of a new law for the government of New South Wales, with all humility to bring under Your Majesty's consideration some of the chief evils and difficulties they are at present exposed to, and which, unless averted by the timely interposition of your Royal authority and the wisdom of the National Councils, your Petitioners are apprehensive will seriously retard the advancement of the Colony and endanger its best interests. [331]
Your Petitioners beg most humbly to submit to Your Majesty that, notwithstanding the Colony exhibits the marks of Agricultural, Commercial, and Financial prosperity, to an extraordinary and unexampled degree, this flourishing condition of its affairs is unhappily counterbalanced by a lamentable depravity of manners, and by the fearful prevalence of crime arising amongst other causes from the increased and increasing difficulty, as the towns become more populous and the community extends over a wider surface, of keeping up an effective system of Police for the prevention or punishment of crime, and the consequent relaxation of discipline amongst the convict population; from the inadequacy of the means of religious and moral instruction; and more than all from the continual influx of transported criminals, without a sufficient number of free emigrants of virtuous and industrious habits to check the contaminating influence, and infuse a better tone into society. [...] 
That the Legislative Council, as at present constituted, is in a great measure inoperative from a majority of its members being Government officers, from its debates not being open to the public, from the members not having power to originate laws, and from the presence of the Governor as President, which your Petitioners would humbly submit tends to obstruct the free expression of opinion.
That, by the provisions of the Colonial Jury Law, individuals having undergone sentence of transportation for their crimes and other ignominious punishments, as well as persons of bad repute and low standing in society, have been placed as Jurors upon the same footing with Magistrates and men of unblemished reputation, a measure which, your Petitioners are informed, was attempted merely as an experiment, and the failure of which, they have reason to believe, is now universally admitted. If they could contemplate the possibility of such a law being not only continued; but extended upon the same principles and rendered imperative in the formation of all Juries, both Civil and Criminal, as well as in the exercise of the other important functions of a Representative Government, their minds would be harassed and borne down by the most gloomy forbodings.
Fully appreciating, as they ever must, those institutions and privileges, which are the soul and essence of the Government of England, your Petitioners cannot forget that in England they are based upon the sure foundation of religion and morality. [332] To attempt to carry them into operation, by means at variance with these principles, appears to your Petitioners to be anomalous and contradictory, and must, they apprehend, be productive of the most dangerous and lamentable consequences. Greatly therefore, as they desire to be placed upon the same footing as their fellow-subjects, they would humbly submit that it is still questionable, whether the Colony is prepared to enjoy the free institutions of Great Britain; many experienced persons being of opinion that that much-wished-for period has not yet arrived, whilst those, who hold an opposite opinion, have proposed no satisfactory basis for the Elective and Representative franchise.
Your Petitioners are sensible that upon the measures, that may be now adopted for the Government of the Colony, depend their own best interests, as well as those of their children. Property, life, reputation, moral and political well-being, whatever in short should be dear to men who have been taught to distinguish a rational and well-founded freedom from the disorganizing doctrines, which, under the name of liberty, would subvert the land-marks of social order, and, confounding all just distinctions, sap the foundations of society; all these are at stake.