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3-033 (Raw)

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author,male,Pakington,un addressee,male
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Government English
Imperial Correspondence
Clark, 1977
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3-033-raw.txt — 4 KB

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Whilst I do not wish for a moment to question the sincerity of the feelings which have been expressed against the introduction of convicts, yet the reports which it has been your duty to furnish of the readiness and almost indeed the avidity with which the services of the convicts in each Successive ship that arrived have been engaged by the settlers, certainly raise at least a presumption that opinions on the subject in the colony are divided, and that there must be many who are glad of an opportunity to secure the advantage of this description of labour.
Her Majesty's Government have not overlooked the considerations which on these and on other grounds of great national importance may be urged in favour of transportation. But, whatever may be their value, taken in themselves, we find, as I have above stated, that there is a general expression of a strong repugnance in Van Diemen's Land and in the adjacent colonies to the further reception of convicts in either of them. Whatever may be the private opinions of individuals who have not come forward on this question, numerous public meetings and all the legislative authorities in these colonies have declared themselves strongly against transportation. Her Majesty's Government have therefore felt it their duty to take such steps as may enable Her Majesty, with the assent of Parliament, to comply with a wish so generally and so forcibly expressed by Her subjects in those colonies.
The propriety of this decision is supported by the effects of the discovery of gold. It would appear a solecism to convey offenders, at the public expense, with the intention of at no distant time setting them free, to the immediate vicinity of those very gold fields which thousands of honest labourers are in vain striving to reach. It is quite true that the offenders have to undergo a preliminary period of imprisonment and of labour; but these are not likely to daunt reckless minds. Making every allowance for your efforts to prevent the desertion of Convicts whilst still subject to control, it is to be remembered that they will in time become qualified for conditional pardons: and I think it must be admitted by every impartial observer that transportation would be disarmed of its terrors, and that a very undesirable impression would be produced in the minds of the criminal class, if offenders should long continue to be sent to an island in the immediate neighbourhood of the gold colonies of Australia. [164]
You will readily perceive that it must be impossible at this moment to fix the actual date for the end of transportation to Van Diemen's Land. In order to diminish the number of convicts sentenced to transportation, so as to admit of their being disposed of in the more limited field which will remain available, certain alterations in the law must be submitted to Parliament; new buildings must be constructed, to accommodate the larger number of prisoners who would have to be detained in this country; and it cannot be expected that so great a revolution in the administration of the criminal law can be accomplished without a sufficient allowance of time for the extensive changes which it will require. On the time by which we may hope that these can be completed I shall probably address you again, when the arrangements are further matured. I can only assure you that Her Majesty's Government are sincerely convinced of the good policy of the proposed measures, and anxious to carry them into effect as speedily as possible; and I trust that when the full purpose which is entertained of accomplishing the object shall be known in the colony, the good sense and moderation of the inhabitants will lead them to acquiesce without reluctance in the continuance of the existing practice until the large alterations required for its abolition can be duly provided for in this country. I may state, in conclusion, that it is a source of much gratification to me to convey to you a decision so much in accordance with the strongly expressed wish of the colonists of Van Diemen's Land; and I trust that they may recognise in it the desire of the Government of this country to consult their wishes, and to strengthen their loyalty to the Crown and attachment to the British Empire.