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having professed and printed every shade of political opinions, has recently avowed his preference for a republic, and his hope that he “shall yet see the British flag trailed in the dust.”
Decidedly, in 1831, Australia was making progress.
In October General Darling resigned his government, and was succeeded by General Sir Richard Bourke.
The history of General Darling's administration reads more like that of one of Napoleon's pro-consuls than that of an Englishman reigning over Englishmen.
The case of Sudds and Thompson is an instance which stands out in the history of the colony as a sort of landmark of the termination of the Algerine system of government, affording a singular example of the state of society in which such an outrage on law, justice, and constitutional rights could be not only done but defended.
The story is worth relating, if it were only to show what deeds may be done and defended in the same age by the same race that expended millions in redeeming negro slaves, and in efforts to convert aboriginal cannibals.
Sudds and Thompson were two private soldiers in the 57th Regiment, doing duty in New South Wales in 1825, the second year of Sir Ralph Darling's reign. Thompson was a well-behaved man, who had saved some money; Sudds was a loose character. They both wished to remain in the colony.
In New South Wales they saw men who had arrived as convicts settled on snug farms, at the head of good shops, and even wealthy merchants and stockowners. As to procure their discharge was out of the question, Sudds, the scamp, suggested to Thompson that they should qualify themselves for the good fortune of convicts, and procure their discharge by becoming felons.
Accordingly they went together to the shop of a Sydney tradesman and openly stole a piece of cloth, were, as they intended, caught, tried, convicted, and sentenced to be transported to one of the auxiliary penal settlements for seven years.
In the course of the trial the object of the crime was clearly elicited. It became evident that the discipline of the troops required to keep guard over the large convict population would be seriously endangered if the commission of a crime enabled a soldier to obtain the superior food, condition, and prospects enjoyed by a criminal. Accordingly, Sir Ralph Darling issued an order under which the two soldiers, who had been tried and convicted, were taken from the hands of the
CASE OF SUDDS AND THOMPSON.
and condemned to work in chains on the roads of the colony for the full term of their sentence, after which they were to return to service in the ranks.
On an appointed day the garrison of Sydney were assembled and formed in a hollow square. The culprits were brought out, their uniforms stripped off and replaced by the convict dress, iron-spiked collars and heavy chains, made expressly for the purpose by order of the governor, were rivetted to their necks and legs, and then they were drummed out of the regiment, and marched back to gaol to the tune of “The Rogue's March.” Sudds, who was in bad health at the time of his sentence from an affection of the liver, overcome with shame, grief, and disappointment—oppressed by his chains, and exhausted by the heat of the sun on the day of the exposure in the barrack square—died in a few days. Thompson became insane.
A great outcry was raised in the colony: the opposition paper attacked, the official paper defended, the conduct of the governor. The colony became divided into two parties ; until the end of his administration, Sir Ralph Darling, whose whole system was a compound of military despotism and bureaucracy, was pertinaciously worried by a section which included some of the best and some of the worst men in the colony : combining together for the extension of the liberties of the colony, they found in the Sudds and Thompson case the inestimable benefit of a grievance.
It would be unjust to consider Sir Ralph Darling's sentence by the light of public opinion in England. He was governor of a colony in which more than half the community were slaves and criminals ; he had to punish and to arrest the progress of a dangerous crime; but as the representative of the sovereign, by ex post facto decree, he exercised powers which no sovereign has exercised since the time of Henry VIII., and violated one of the cardinal principles of the British constitution,rejudging and aggravating the punishment of men who had already been judged.
At the present day it is, as we before observed, only as an historical landmark that it is right to recal attention to a transaction which can never be repeated in British dominions, although we may find precedents in the decrees of a president of the French republic, and decisions of Californian committees of vigilance, where the absence of all evidence and acquittal by legal tribunals have not saved the victims of a mob, or a despot, from condign punishment.
During General Darling's government further successful explorations of the interior were made, both by private individuals and
officials. Among the latter were Major (now Sir Thomas) Mitchell, Mr. Allan Cunningham, Mr. Oxley, and Captain Sturt, the most fortunate of all.
In his second expedition, in 1829, Captain Sturt embarked with a party in a boat on the Morrumbidgee (which receives the waters of the Macquarie, the Lachlan, and Darling), until he came to its junction with the Murray, an apparently noble stream. Pursuing his voyage, in spite of many impediments, hardships, and dangers, from rocks, snags, sandbanks, and hostile savages, he reached the Lake Alexandrina, and discovered the future province of South Australia. This lake is a shallow sheet of water, sixty miles in length and forty miles in breadth, which interposes between the sea and the river, thus unfortunately presenting an impassable obstacle to ocean communication.
The hopes excited by the discovery of this picturesque river have hitherto not been realized. Although broad, deep, and bordered by rich land for many score miles, the perpetual recurrence of shallows limits the draught of water to two feet, at which steamers cannot be profitably navigated.
Captain Sturt, having made this important discovery, returned by reascending the river.
Having unfortunately become blind, in consideration of these and other services rendered to South Australia, the new Legislative Council of that colony have recently voted him a pension of £500—an act of liberality for which no precedent is to be found in the proceedings of the other settlements.
1831 TO 1838.
SIR RICHARD BOURKE — RELIGIOUS EQUALITY ESTABLISHED BY CHURCH AND
SCHOOL ACT-REGULATIONS FOR ASSIGNMENT OF CONVICTS-STEP TOWARD
Governor of New South Wales in December, 1831, and retired in November, 1837. He was, without question, the ablest man who has as yet occupied that office; equal in zeal, energy, and plain common sense to Macquarie; superior in the liberality, humanity, and statesmanlike far-sightedness of his views. With wise self-reliance he resisted the blandishments of the official clique who have been the curse of all our colonies, and the opposition of the faction of white slave-drivers, who looked upon the colony as a farm to be administered for their sole benefit. He had courage, too, of a rare quality, for he dared to differ from his chief, the Secretary of State for the Colonies, on a vital point of administration—the land question : his recorded objections to the Wakefield system are remarkable for their prophetic wisdom.
He was, and his memory still is, deservedly popular among the humble, or the wealthy sons of the once humble settlers,—a rare merit, and not a qualification for favour at the Colonial Office.
The six years of his reign were crowded with measures and events of the utmost importance in the history of New South Wales.
1. The discussions of the Legislative Council became public, and the estimates were regularly submitted and discussed.
2. The Church and School Corporation (which had become a gross job) was abolished, and religious equality established by an act of the Legislative Council.
3. An attempt was made to introduce the Irish national school system (which the bigots defeated).
4. Free grants of land were abolished, and sale by auction at a minimum price substituted.
5. The despatch was received from Lord Glenelg, and steps were adopted, which, in 1840, finally abolished transportation to New South Wales.
6. The squatting system was legalized and systematized on a plan which has since produced nearly £60,000 per annum.
7. Rules for regulating the number of convict servants to which each settler should be entitled (without favour), and the number of lashes which should be inflicted on a convict servant by a single magistrate, were framed and promulgated.
8. Port Phillip was settled from Van Diemen's Land and South Australia by colonists from England.
The powers of the council imposed on the Governor of New South Wales in the last year of Sir Thomas Brisbane's administration were, under Sir Ralph Darling, almost nominal: not only were its deliberations secret and its dissent powerless, but Governor Darling systematically and illegally exercised authority in the only matter entrusted to the council—the distribution of the revenues. Towards the close of his administration he introduced a bill indemnifying himself and legalizing his illegal assumptions.
Sir Richard Bourke, on the contrary, earnestly co-operated in raising the character of the council, treated the non-official members with the utmost respect, and endeavoured to give the council, as far as possible, the tone and functions of a representative assembly, a course directly the reverse of his successor, Sir George Gipps. Both were able, but the one was a frank and generous, the other an astute and jealous man. It is
very much to be regretted that Governor Bourke had not been permitted to govern with as little interference from secretaries of state as Governor Macquarie, and to remain long enough to initiate the partly elective council which fell into the unhappy hands of his
Bourke's Church and School Act.
The “ Church and School Incorporation,” under which one-seventh of the crown lands was devoted to the support of episcopalian churches and schools, had not worked well, and in 1833 it was dissolved by an order of the king in council. The expenses of management had been very large, the receipts very small, and the results, in the extension of religion and education, insignificant.
In the same year Sir Richard Bourke addressed a despatch, dated 30th September, in which he propounded principles of religious equality