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21-Mar-2020 04:42

In this story of the bushrangers I do not pretend to have included the names of all those who have at various times been called bushrangers in Australia. [* Evidence of Sir Francis Forbes, Chief Justice of New South Wales.That, as will be seen from what I have said in the earlier chapters, would be not merely impossible but useless. Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons, July, 1899.] There were no regulations as to hours of work, and the severe taskmaster might work his assigned servants as many hours as he pleased. Some few joined a tribe of blacks and stayed longer or shorter times with them; others simply wandered about until hunger drove them back; while very many remained at large until they were captured, and these lived by stealing from farmers and other settlers any articles which could be eaten or sold. They hoped to be able to live in freedom in the bush and to subsist on fruits, roots, or other native growths.

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At first, pickpockets, then sheep and horse-stealers, forgers and others, who had previously only escaped the gallows in rare instances, when they could find some influential friend to take sufficient interest in them to plead their cause, were now transported as a matter of course.

I believe, however, that I have collected some particulars about all those who succeeded in winning even a local notoriety, and I have also endeavoured to supply such personal characteristics of the leaders in the movement as may throw some light on the causes which induced them to "take to the bush." My principal object, however, has been to make the picture as complete as possible, so that the magnitude of the social evil which the Australians set themselves to cure may be realised; and it is generally believed in Australia that this cure has been so complete that bushranging will never again become epidemic. Some of the incidents related are no doubt revolting, but it is necessary that even these should be told to show how civilised man may be degraded by unjust and oppressive laws. It was generally understood that Sunday was to be a holiday, or day of rest, but excuses were readily found for making the convicts work on this day, and this was a fruitful source of discontent.