From the secrecy with which this business might be conducted, the magistrates succeeded no better in an examination which was taken before them, on an information that Harold, the Roman Catholic priest, had been concerned in some seditious conversations; nothing appearing whereby he could be criminated. The governor, however, judged it necessary, in consequence of these conjectures, to extract the heads of the late acts against seditious correspondence or unlawful assemblies of the people, altering them to meet the situation of the settlement, and published them in the form of a proclamation, that none might plead ignorance of the existence of such laws. This proclamation, beside being made public in the usual manner, was read on Sunday the 24th, in church, after the performance of divine service.
The Friendship having sailed early in the month for Bengal, that opportunity was taken of sending dispatches to England, and to the Governor-General of India; who, by the Hunter, had sent a letter to the governor, inclosing a list of persons from New South Wales who were then resident in Calcutta, and desiring to be informed whether any of them had left the territory without having previously obtained permission for that purpose, or served the regular term of their transportation; in which latter case, it was the intention of that government to return them to the colony by the first opportunity. On comparing the list with the colonial books, there were not any found of this description, and all were accounted for, except two or three names which did not appear in the books; and of course, as they had once been on them, their owners must have adopted others, with the new character that they were going to assume in that country. The whole number of persons that appeared to have established themselves at Calcutta was not more than fifteen; nevertheless, small as that number was, the fear that worthless characters should find their way into that government was strongly expressed in their public letter. Indeed, what community, where honesty and morality were cultivated, would not deprecate even the possibility of such characters mixing with them, with as much earnestness as a people in health would dread the importation of a plague or a yellow fever!
It appeared, that at the same time some propositions had been made, and a correspondence entered into between the secretary of the Bengal government and the gentleman who had been employed as the private agent of the officers of the settlement, respecting the transportation of Indian convicts to New South Wales. As this was a measure, though open to no objection whatever, which must be submitted to administration before it could be adopted, the correspondence which had passed on this occasion was sent home. It was proposed by the government of Bengal to victual and maintain their convicts for one year after their landing; after which they were to be supported by the settlement. As such a description of people might be very usefully employed there, and would be far more manageable than the convicts from England or Ireland, it was hoped that the plan might meet the approbation of his Majesty’s ministers.