Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Sunday 21st January, 1838

Samuel Smart has taken to the role of investigating criminal actions with alacrity. He has developed the habit of accosting people in the street like a crazed fortune teller and telling them what he has observed about them. One person told me that he sat down next to them and told them that:

Beyond the obvious facts that you are a left handed blacksmith, a drunkard, that you smoke shag tobacco in a meerschaum pipe carved in the shape of a Turk's head, that you are recently widowed and that you are lately returned from India I can deduce nothing else.

That he was speaking thusly to the Reverend Howard might have caused some men to be down hearted and question their abilities, but not Smart, who seems to believe that in these matters close enough is good enough. "My method," he said to me, " is founded upon the observation of trifles."

I had to speak with him when a number of people he had "observed" according to his "method" complained that he was a positive nuisance and a menace to the populace. He was contrite and admitted that perhaps his skills needed some refinement. "I fear I possess but two out of the three qualities necessary for the ideal detective. I have the power of observation and that of deduction. I am only wanting in knowledge." Knowledge, intelligence and good manners I might have thought, but there we are.

But by the end of the week any sign of contrition had vanished and he was seen clomping about the vegetable patch of a house that had been burgled with a large magnifying glass offering the sage statement that "In the solving of crime there is nothing so important for the officer of the law as the art of tracing footsteps."

I fear the whole thing has gone to his head.

In the meantime we have had the Company store entered and food taken, two more houses broken in to with jewellery and money stolen and two more pick pocketting incidents.

It occurs to me that we have a very busy thief and I mentioned this to Smart.

"There seems to be a great deal of crime", I said, "for just the one thief to be doing. A thought strikes me... So dreadful I scarcely dare give it utterance... "

Smart stopped me, shaking his head ruefully. "You seek to form a theory," he said. "It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has facts. Without facts one begins to use prejudices to build theories. With facts one may select those that bring theories and prejudice together."

"But what if there is more than one thief?" I said. "What if we are dealing, not with an individual, but with a gang?" 

"Well," said Sam Sart, calmly and firmly, nonchalantly adjusting the brim of his hat. "I do not mind a reasonable amount of trouble."

Nothing compared to the amount of trouble he seems set to afford me.

I have been given notice that Mrs Hillier, wife of John Hillier, intends to open a School for Young Ladies. In her prospectus and also in her Newspaper Notice she says

MRS. HILLIER begs to inform her Friends and the Public of Adelaide that she has opened a SCHOOL for a select and limited number of YOUNG LADIES, and from a long experience in the arduous task of Education, Mrs. HILLIER flatters herself that her system of instruction and unremitting attention to her pupils cannot fail to be approved by the Parents of those young ladies entrusted to her care. Pavilion Cottage, near the Gilles Arcade, Currie Street.

I cannot help but think that she does indeed flatter herself if she thinks her select school is to be conducted in Pavilion Cottage. I know that the room at the Western End of the Cottage is empty and this, I assume, is where Mrs Hillier intends to instruct her select and limited ladies. But the Eastern End of the cottage is filled with Phillip Lee's Coffee House. I cannot feel convinced that the louche young men and women of the town lolling about drinking coffee and nibbling biscuits whilst discussing contemporary art ( a cove by name of J. M. W. Turner is, I believe, their current idol) will be any great influence on the virginal blossoms of girlhood that Mrs Hillier will attract. And Mrs Hillier will most certainly need to give her unremitting attention to her pupils, since Pavilion Cottage is next door to the Southern Cross Hotel. The drunken antics of the denizens of that establishment may give the girls an education, or at the very least, a vocabulary that is not entirely to be desired. Still, it is our first school and is to be encouraged. Though perhaps Mrs Hindmarsh could be given the delicate task of counselling Mrs Hillier regarding location. 

I informed Widow Harvey that we had called for tenders for the new kitchen at Government House. "Ooh yer Rexcellency!" she giggled, disconcertingly, "They won't be as tender as the concoctions that come out of that new oven! You'll be calling for more tenders once I get going!"  

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