[Its preservation in some cases was found impracticable. Three or four instances of persons who perished from want have been related to me. One only, however, fell within my own observation. I was passing the provision store, when a man, with a wild haggard countenance, who had just received his daily pittance to carry home, came out. His faltering gait, and eager devouring eye, led me to watch him, and he had not proceeded ten steps before he fell. I ordered him to be carried to the hospital, where, when he arrived, he was found dead. On opening the body, the cause of death was pronounced to be inanition.]
Farther to contribute to the detection of villainy, a proclamation, offering a reward of sixty pounds of flour, more tempting than the ore of Peru or Potosi, was promised to any one who should apprehend, and bring to justice, a robber of garden ground.
Our friend Baneelon, during this season of scarcity, was as well taken care of as our desperate circumstances would allow. We knew not how to keep him, and yet were unwilling to part with him. Had he penetrated our state, perhaps he might have given his countrymen such a description of our diminished numbers, and diminished strength, as would have emboldened them to become more troublesome. Every expedient was used to keep him in ignorance. His allowance was regularly received by the governor’s servant, like that of any other person, but the ration of a week was insufficient to have kept him for a day. The deficiency was supplied by fish whenever it could be procured, and a little Indian corn, which had been reserved was ground and appropriated to his use. In spite of all these aids, want of food has been known to make him furious and often melancholy.
There is reason to believe that he had long meditated his escape, which he effected in the night of the 3rd instant. About two o’clock in the morning, he pretended illness, and awaking the servant who lay in the room with him, begged to go down stairs. The other attended him without suspicion of his design; and Baneelon no sooner found himself in a backyard, than he nimbly leaped over a slight paling, and bade us adieu.
The following public order was issued within the date of this chapter, and is too pleasing a proof that universal depravity did not prevail among the convicts, to be omitted.
The governor, in consequence of the unremitted good behaviour and meritorious conduct of John Irving, is pleased to remit the remainder of the term for which he was sentenced to transportation. He is therefore to be considered as restored to all those rights and privileges, which had been suspended in consequence of the sentence of the law. And as such, he is hereby appointed to act as an assistant to the surgeon at Norfolk Island.
Transactions of the Colony in June, July, and August, 1790.