It is not improbable, that Wilson invented these circumstances in the hope of obtaining some attention, and thereby averting the punishment which he expected, and well knew that he had long deserved.
If it be painful to the writer of these sheets to find little else than crimes and their consequences to record, how much more painful must it have been to have lived where they were daily committed. Particularly so must it have proved to the gentleman who was in the chief direction of the settlement, who found himself either obliged to punish with severity, or to be fearful even of administering justice in mercy, lest that mercy should prove detrimental in the end, by encouraging others to offend in the hope of impunity.
There can scarcely be recorded a stronger instance of human depravity, than what the following circumstance, which happened in this month, exhibits. A convict, who had formerly been a school-companion with the Rev. Mr. Johnson, had been taken by that gentleman into his service, where he reposed in him the utmost confidence, and treated him with the kindest indulgence. He had not been long in his house before Mr. Johnson was informed that his servant, having taken an impression of the key of his storeroom in clay, had procured one that would fit the lock. He scarcely credited the information; but, being urged to furnish him with an opportunity, he consented that a constable should be concealed in the house, on a Sunday, when all the family, this servant excepted, would be attending divine service. The arrangement succeeded but too well. Concluding that all was safe, he applied his key, and, entering the room, was proceeding without any remorse to plunder it of such articles as he wanted; when the constable, seeing his prey within his toils, started from his concealment, and seized him in the act of taking the property.
Thus was this wretched being without ’one compunctious visiting of nature,’ detected in the act of injuring the man, who, in the better day of his prosperity, had been the companion of his youth, and who had stretched out his hand to shelter him in the present hour of his adversity!
The Deptford brig sailing this month for the coast of Coromandel, the governor took the opportunity of transmitting to Admiral Rainier, or the commander in chief of his Majesty’s ships in the East Indies, a list of the deserted convicts, and a description of the two boats which had lately been taken from the colony. As it was, probably, the intention of those people to steer along the coast of New South Wales to the northward, until they should reach some of the Dutch settlements among the Molucca islands, there was a possibility of their being picked up by some of the King’s cruisers; in the event of which, the governor forcibly urged their being forwarded, by any opportunity which might offer, to his government, there to be made an example that should, if possible, deter others from making the like attempts.