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2-351 (Text)

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author,male,Sydney Morning Herald,un addressee
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Clark, 1957
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The public demonstration so long intended in the colony upon the arrival of the first convict ship took place yesterday, at the Circular Wharf. It is well known that the Hashemy has been unexpectedly delayed in her voyage; and though looked for from day to day, the intense interest of the people of Sydney in the event did not abate, and during Saturday and Sunday very considerable excitement prevailed throughout the city. Monday morning was about as unpropitious in point of weather as a day could be for an open air meeting. There was nothing either of comfort or hope about it. Nevertheless, about 11 oclock, most of the leading merchants and shopkeepers closed their establishments, and large numbers of people began to wend their way to the Circular Quay. The only accommodation there was an omnibus, from the top of which the speakers addressed the meeting, consisting of between four and five thousand persons, and who, in spite of continued rain, persisted in grave earnestness in the fulfilment of their important duty. Nearly half an hour having been spent in waiting for the arrival of the honourable and learned member for Sydney (Mr. Lowe), who was to have acted as Chairman, Mr. Robert Campbell was unanimously called on to preside. THE Chairman then addressed the meeting. He was deeply sensible of the honour conferred upon him in being called upon to preside on so grand an occasion as the present. 
He called it a grand occasion, and it was so, for it was the gathering together of a community to maintain their own good name, and to uphold their own rights. (Great cheers.) No doubt there were those in the colony who hailed the advent of convicts amongst them as a boon, but he was quite sure that none with such opinions were present on that occasion. (Cheers.) Convicts had been the source of wealth to many; many hoped again to amass riches from their services; but Australia, now, wanted them not - she could very well do without them. They - the men of Australia, had wives, and children, and they would be content to subdue the land and replenish it, without the introduction of British crime and its attendant - British misery. (Cheers.) They were asked to receive an importation which they should look on with abhorrence. They were called to welcome the arrival in their port of a vessel, the value of whose freight was to be estimated only by the amount of the riddance of crime it afforded to England. (Cheers.) He had been called upon entirely unprepared to preside at the meeting, and he felt that to detain them long would be unwise; but though taken on the moment he did not shrink from the duty cast upon him. He looked upon that duty as a hallowed and sacred one - a duty in the due performance of which the honour of Great Britain and the liberties of the colony were alike involved. It was therefore with a deep sense of the duty he was called on to perform, that he accepted the Office of presiding over a meeting - called to protest against branding again this colony with the name of a penal settlement. He was born in this colony - its advancement and progression had always been one of his dearest wishes, but no attainment of wealth, no possession of power, could compensate them for the loss of a good name; and once again let Australia be made a penal settlement and she would again be the despised of nations. (Cheers.) He would now call on the honorable member of Council, Mr. Lamb, to move the first resolution.
Mr. Lamb came forward, and was received with loud cheers: It was to him an honour as well as a duty, to come forward to move the resolution which had been put into his hands. An honour, inasmuch as it assured him of the British character of the community in which he lived - a duty because he would cease to be worthy to live in any British community and see unmoved its fair fame abandoned.  (Cheers.) In the protest, there was not one word with which he could find fault, no sentiment from which he could dissent. He believed it to breathe a spirit of loyalty to the Queen, exhibited most worthily in the sense it expressed of the in-justice sought to be inflicted on them.: (Cheers.) But if there was one part of the peoples protest with which he more cordially concurred than another, it was in the fourth clause of that protest. He did uphold that it was in the highest degree unjust to sacrifice the great social and political interests of the colony at large to the pecuniary profit of a fraction of its inhabitants. (Cheers.) He, Mr. Lamb, did proclaim it monstrous that an outrage so gross as that of thrusting convicted felons upon them, should be attempted, because it might assist the material interests of a clique. (Immense cheering.) They, the men of the colony, had done their duty on this question - they had at once, when first offered the gilded iniquity, refused it with disdain - they had steadily opposed it through all the phases in which it had been presented to their view - they had turned from it because they knew it was evil, and could not work good. They had opposed it in every shape, and if in the Legislative Council of the country the voice of indignation had been silent, at all events its unanimous verdict against this infliction would be the more conclusive. (Cheers.) They had expressed their opinions as a free people ought to express them - in the Council and out of it - and they had done right to meet on this occasion, solemnly to protest against the evil and injustice which they could not altogether avert. In the Cape of Good Hope public indignation at the attempt to introduce these prisoners could scarcely be withheld, and sooner than have them it was proposed that the Government should be petitioned to send them on here; but he hoped the display of moral force which had been exhibited on this question would be sufficient to show that New South Wales had some sense of what was due to herself, ,and what would be expected from her, as a British community, by the world at large. They had met peaceably - they had met in all loyalty - in all deference to the constituted authorities - in the highest and holiest patriotism that could animate them as citizens - for the love they bore their families - in their loyalty to Great Britain, and in the depth of their reverence to Almighty God - to protest against the landing again of British criminals on these shores.  (Immense cheers.) He was not an elective member of their Legislative Council, but as a citizen he asserted his rights on this occasion, and would do his best to battle for his fellow citizens. (Cheers.) Many far more able than himself to expose the injustice sought to be inflicted on them would address the meeting, but to none would he yield in heartfelt earnestness, to prevent this colony - the land not only of their adoption - the land which by associations, by the ties of family and connexion, had become thoroughly their own, from being again degraded and polluted by the name of a penal settlement. (Loud Cheers.) Mr. Lamb having then read the Protest (as follows), proposed its adoption: - We, the free and loyal subjects of Her Most Gracious Majesty, inhabitants of the city of Sydney and its immediate neighbourhood, in public meeting assembled, do hereby enter our most deliberate and solemn Protest against the transportation of British criminals to the colony of New South Wales.
FIRSTLY. - Because it is in violation of the will of the majority of the colonists, as is clearly evidenced by their expressed opinions on this question at all times.
SECONDLY. - Because numbers among us have emigrated on the faith of the British Government, that transportation to this colony had ceased for ever.
THIRDLY. - Because it is incompatible with our existence as a free colony, desiring self-government, to be the receptacle of another countrys felons.
FOURTHLY. - Because it is in the highest degree unjust, to sacrifice the great social and political interests of the colony at large to the pecuniary profit of a fraction of its inhabitants.
FIFTHLY. - Because being firmly and devotedly attached to the British Crown, we greatly fear that the perpetration of so stupendous an act of injustice by Her Majestys Government, will go far towards. alienating the affections of the people of this colony from the mother country.
For these and many kindred reasons, in the exercise of our duty to our country, - for the love we bear our families, - in the strength of our loyalty to Great Britain - and from the depth of our reverence for Almighty God - we protest against the landing again of British convicts on these shores. 
Mr. Lowe, who at this moment arrived upon the ground, came forward to second the adoption of the Protest, and was received with enthusiastic applause. It was with great pleasure that he undertook the task of seconding the adoption of the protest of the people of the colony of New South Wales, against the outrage which had been so insultingly and offensively perpetrated upon them by the resumption of transportation. The time for discussion on the principle of the convict question was past. They were not met to exclaim against the proposals of the English Government. The threat of degradation had been fulfilled. The stately presence of their city, the beautiful waters of their harbour, were this day again polluted with the presence of that floating hell - a convict ship. (Immense cheers.) They had lived again to behold the cargo of crime borne across the waves to them. In their port they behold a ship freighted, not with the comforts of life, not with luxuries of civilised nations, not with the commodities of commerce, in exchange for our produce; but with the moral degradation of a community - the picked and selected criminals of Great Britain. These were the people that Great Britain sent here - educated in her crowded streets amongst her starving masses, New South Wales must be the university at which these scholars in vice and iniquity must finish their course of instruction. New South Wales must alone supply the college where these doctors in crime can take their last degree. (Cheers.) Here it was where the rubbish - the moral filth of Great Britain - must be shot; but the colonists at least had done their duty, and he congratulated them upon it. Out of the Legislative Council, and in the Council, they had refused to become parties to this oppression, and now that it was forced upon them they met indignantly to protest against it. It was true that in the Council the opinion of the representatives of the people had been silently asserted, but it had been unanimously asserted, for he could not call the miserable minority in the Council that differed from the people on this great question worthy the title of an opposition. (Cheers.) Those who were really opposed to the renewal of transportation had done their duty - they had not given up one point.  Day after day they had been called upon to yield up something. Overture after overture had been made to Mr. Cowper and himself, by his honorable and learned colleague Mr. Wentworth for some compromise. (Groans for Mr. Wentworth.) But they had taken their stand - they had felt that the people were with them; and thanks to the noble declaration which the people had made on this question that stand had been maintained, and the perfidy and insult which had been endeavoured to be perpetrated had been met, and repelled. (Cheers.) But he looked not on this question by itself alone - he looked at it in connexion with another question, in which the liberties of the people of this colony were almost equally concerned. A question on which as on this, he hoped the colonists would make themselves heard. He viewed this attempt to inflict the worst and most degrading slavery on the colony only as sequence of that oppressive tyranny which had confiscated the lands of the colony - for the benefit of a class. That class had felt their power - they were not content to get the lands alone, without labour they were worthless, and therefore they must enrich them with slaves. (Great cheers.) He (Mr. Lowe) warned them not to be deluded by the simple aspect which the question had hitherto borne, when argued by those whose interests were involved in maintaining the system. He was for the liberty of all - and he protested not only against deluging the colony with crime, but the insidious attempt to introduce serfdom and slavery amongst them. This was not a question of the injury which the 250 felons on board the Hashemy could do the colony. They would perhaps cause but little evil - but it was a question - a question in which they had a right to be heard in protest - whether the inhabitants of this colony should be subjected to the contamination of trebly convicted felons, and whether they should submit to a measure which was necessary to fill up the confiscation of their lands. (Cheers.) He therefore contended that those who branded the people of the colony with mere worldly selfishness in the part they had taken on this question did them injustice. It was not the mere fear of competition amongst operatives that now united them on - this question; it was not a mere breeches pocket question with the labouring classes, though, it might be with the employers.  It was a struggle for liberty - a struggle against a system which had in every country where it had prevailed been destructive of freedom. (Cheers.) Let them not be deluded by this insidious attempt. Let it go home that the people of New South Wales reject, indignantly reject, the inheritance of wealthy shame, which Great Britain holds out to her. That she spurns the gift, deceitfully gilded though it be - that she spurns the degradation however eloquently it may be glozed over. Let them send across the Pacific their emphatic declaration that they would not be slaves - that they would be free. Let them exercise the right that every English subject had - to assert. his freedom. (Cheers.) He could see from that meeting the time was not far distant when they would assert their freedom not by words alone. As in America, oppression was the parent of independence, so would it be in this colony. The tea which the Americans flung into the water rather than pay the tax upon it, was not the cause of the revolt of the American States; it was the unrighteousness of the tax - it was the degradation of submission to an unrighteous, demand. And so sure as the seed will grow into the plant, and the plant to the tree, in all times, and in all nations, so will injustice and tyranny ripen into rebellion, and rebellion into independence. (Immense cheering.)
The protest was then put and passed unanimously.
Dr. AARON: It would be both bad taste and bad policy in him to detain them at any length on such a day, with any speech on the resolution which he had been deputed to move. Still on a subject like this he was not prepared to give entirely a silent vote. He was the father of a family in this colony, and he felt it was the duty of every one who stood in that situation, to resent the insulting proceedings to which they had been exposed, and to protest against the tyranny of any minister of the Crown who could lend such proceedings his countenance and assistance. (Cheers.)
1. That it is the urgent request of this meeting that the Local Government do send the prisoners arrived in the Hashemy immediately back to England, and if necessary, at the expense of the colony. 
Mr. MACKINNON (member of Council for Port Phillip) could not allow the magnificent demonstration which the people of Sydney had made in the expression of their abhorrence of any return to the system of transportation, without assuring them that the feelings of the people of Port Phillip were with them to a man. (Cheers.) He would tell them more. He would tell them, whatever the sentiments of the squatters in this district might be the squatters of Port Phillip wanted no convict labour. True, they did want labour, but it was free labour, not labour such as that which had now been sent into this port - labour that must be coerced, and which would again revive through the land the disgusting sound of the clanking fetter and the lash of the cat-o'-nine tails. He had felt it his duty to say these few words, and to state that on every occasion, to the utmost of his power, would he resist the degradation to which the home government had sought to subject them.
Mr. HENRY. PARKES had been appointed to second the resolution which had been proposed to them by Dr. Aaron. He belonged to the largest class of men in the colony - the working class. After the speeches they had already heard - it would be unwise in him to detain them longer, save for one word in behalf of a class, to whom as yet no allusion had been made - but who were most unjustly dealt with in this matter. Let him ask that meeting did the one thousand four hundred emigrants. now afloat on the waters of Port Jackson believe when they left Great Britain that they would find a convict ship in the midst of the ships that brought them hither? Would they, had they dreamt of such a thing, have sacrificed all home ties and volunteered to degrade themselves? In the colony the whole question had been discussed over and over again, but these immigrants when they went on board could know nothing of the injustice to which they were about to be subjected. It was urged by the Secretary of State that the colony wanted labour, that these felons were sent in pity to them, to supply their wants. The home government had been so exceedingly paternal as to provide for their necessities. It might also be with a similar paternal feeling, that it had felt that as young women would grow up in the colony, it was well and expedient to send out a ship load of husbands for them.  (Cheers.) He could only express his deep feeling of indignation at the insult that had been offered to the community at large, and he would say the only remedy he could see - the only course consistent with justice to the colonists at large was, that the convict ship and cargo should be sent back.
The resolution was then put, and unanimously passed.
Mr. MICHIE: It was now his agreeable duty to propose to them the last resolution, and he would venture to congratulate the meeting, that the weather had been so unpropitious on that occasion. Many who had imagined that the in-clemency of the day would prevent this great demonstration were now undeceived. Some who hoped to sneer at the failure of this movement were now disappointed. Without any favourable circumstances to lend them adventitious aid, the people of Sydney had shown themselves signally capable of the right performance of their duties. He had never known even Englishmen so well brave the rain which had fallen since that assembly met, in the calm and peaceable assertion of their rights. (Cheers.) He hailed this meeting with great satisfaction, for he looked upon it as a necessary demonstration of the determined resistance of the colonists to the measures of the home government with respect to the renewal of transportation. Those who had carefully read the speech of Earl Grey, reported in the Times newspaper and copied into the Sydney Morning Herald of that day, would have some idea of what manner of man they had to deal with in the English minister. He argues that England has a right to send out criminals to the Cape of Good Hope whether the people there are willing to receive them or not, because it has cost Great Britain a million of pounds to put down the Kafirs - to prevent the Kafirs from cutting their throats. This was a specimen of British honesty, of British liberty, and lordly logic. The moral and social welfare of a community was to be made by an English statesman a matter of bargain and sale. But with regard to New South Wales, Earl Grey had gone even further, he had made a bargain with the colony - and had abruptly broken it - at least he had kept his own part of it only - the terms made by the colony being thrust aside altogether. This was the man they had to deal with, and feeling how grossly the liberties and rights of the colonists had been infringed, he rejoiced to see that even in a morning like that, when the elements seemed so adverse, the compacted thousands whom he saw before him could meet in peaceable, but firm and manly protest against the invasion of their liberties.  It was a great and noble cause in which they were engaged, and he must felicitate himself that he had been called on to take an active part in it. (Cheers.) He would now beg to move - That a deputation be appointed to wait immediately upon His Excellency the Governor with the Protest and Resolutions now adopted to request him to forward them to Her Majesty the Queen; and that the deputation consist of the following gentlemen, viz. : - the Chairman, Mr. Lowe, Mr. Lamb, Mr. Nichols, Mr. Michie, Dr. Aaron, Mr. Parkes, Mr. R. Peek, Mr. Heydon, Mr. Coleman, Mr. Hawksley, Mr. M.. Curtayne, Mr. Knight, Mr. E. MEncroe, Mr. Pembroke, Mr. Strong, Mr. Ham, Mr. Mullins, Mr. J. R. Wilshire, Mr. Simmons, Mr. Jennings, Mr. C. Kemp, and Mr. Gilbert Wright.
Mr. PEEK seconded the resolution: It had been endeavoured by some to prove that those who had been actuated to the course that they had that day adopted were disloyal subjects. But the fact that they had met on such an occasion in sight of the very instrument of their oppression and degradation, peaceably and calmly to protest against it, showed sufficiently not only that they were loyal, but they were extraordinarily loyal. (Great cheers.) They had seen the first convict ship arrive since New South Wales was pronounced free from the brand of a penal settlement. They might see one or two more yet come in, but the colonists had declared by their movement that day, that they would not submit to any persistence in the injustice which had been done to them. Truly had they been told that it was those only who were blinded by their own selfish interest that could wish again to see the colony made the receptacle of English criminals. He should not detain them with a speech; but would merely state that the injustice which they were now met to protest against was far more flagrant, far more oppressive than that which had given birth to the American rebellion. (Great cheers.) 
The resolution was then put and passed unanimously.
The Chairman having vacated the chair, and Robert Lowe, Esq, having taken the same, a vote of thanks was enthusiastically given to Mr. Campbell.
The deputation went immediately to Government House, but only six gentlemen were admitted, the gates being closed against the others. The Private Secretary informed these six gentlemen that it would be necessary to forward a copy of the protest and resolutions to the Governor, who would appoint a time to receive the deputation and return an answer. The protest and resolution were subsequently forwarded to his Excellency, with a request that a time might be fixed when the deputation would be allowed to wait upon his Excellency, but no answer to this communication was received last evening. 
The meeting dispersed without any noise or tumult and the conduct of the people throughout was grave, decorous, and becoming.