Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Sunday, 25th March, 1838

The mayhem surrounding the shooting of Sammy Smart seems to have subsided slightly. McGee is held prisoner, chained to a log at the prison tent, Morgan has high tailed it to the hills and is beyond mortal ken. With luck he will make his way back to New South Wales and be no longer our problem.

Smart himself is wafting about the town, drawing discreet attention to his elaborately bandaged ear and basking in the attention of all who say "Oh Mr Smart, how brave you were! And how terrifying it must have been!" which gives Sam a chance to say, with all the appearance of modesty, "Brave do you call it? I was merely doing my duty." to the admiration  of all. I say "all". I think he is a pompous, self aggrandising arse, but I am in the minority at the moment.

Anyways, he was appointed Sherriff for a year and his time is up next month, so let him have his moment of glory I suppose.

The problem comes with the question of "What to do with McGee?" He has been charged with "Attempted Murder" and unlike Stephens, whose similar charge is currently in abeyance due to it being carried out on the high seas and thus currently outside our jurisdiction, McGee is firmly within our sights. There can be no question of his guilt, since Smart has identified him as his assailant and he was found with the pistol covered in blood from where Smart grabbed it.

And so I expect he will be found guilty and in the normal order of things he would be given the death sentence and be taken down to be hung. Which raises the question, "Taken down to where?"

We are simply not equipped to be hanging people. We have no appointed hangman. We have no gallows. We have no real prison. Dear me! I'm not entirely sure that we have a decent length of rope of sufficient thickness going spare. But, justice must be seen to be done.

We cannot commute the sentence to life imprisonment, since our prison would hold him for, if we are lucky, an hour at most. We could, at a pinch, sentence him to transportation, but somehow putting him on a boat and sending him off to Sydney smacks more of the holiday excursion than "durance vile".

Well, we shall see. But I cannot help but think that I will be placing a notice in the Gazette soon: 

"Position available for hangman. 

A chance to meet interesting people briefly. 

Own rope an advantage."

And then, after two days of high drama, as sure as night follows day, Fisher can be depended upon to bring the place back to normality without even breaking a sweat.

Let it be noted that the Emmigration Agent is once again Brown, since Hutchinson resigned in order to go a-duelling with Fisher. And let it be noted that one of the tasks of the Emmigration Agent is to interview new arrivals in order to ascertain their skills and abitilties - their names, numbers, trades, or occupations, - and these are to be made public in order to facilitate their employment usefully in the Colony.

Well, it is the constant complaint of all and sundry that this knowledge is never made public, but held tight by Fisher as some sort of secret mystery only available to initiates.

The result is that ship after ship after ship arrives in port, all packed to the gunwhales with newcomers looking for work. And yet people are crying out for workers. Skilled builders, carpenters, stone masons are at a premium and those who can manage to find one are paying 12/- a day to secure their services. Even labourers who spend an hour or two leaning on a shovel watching others work can earn 5/- a day, whilst labourers who actually bend their backs and use an axe or a hoe effectively can demand six. 

Which means that there should be no-one in the Colony without employ and short of a few extra guineas. And certainly, then, there should be no need for the scheme Fisher has set up to support Pauper Colonists.

What "pauper colonists" forsooth? Who exactly is there who cannot find employment when the maimed and the halt and the blind can make £1 a week just by leaning on a shovel?

Yet Fisher has a scheme where the destitute newcomer can gain employment from the Company for a pittance.

So here is Fisher's entire scheme. 

(1) Skilled newcomers arrive in the Colony (2) Fisher learns from them their trade and abilities (3) Fisher keeps this information to himself meaning (4) that no-one in the Colony offers the new comers employment. (5) Because no-one is offering the skilled newcomers employment Fisher offers them "Destitute Labour" at a fraction of the cost they might otherwise make and meanwhile (6) the Colony falters through lack of skilled tradesmen and (7) Fisher has a private army of labourers and (8) saves a fortune!

I have no objection to a man making a shekel and if rules need to be bent a little, well, like Hamlet I am "indifferent honest". But to make money at the expence of an entire Province of the Crown seems to be overdoing it somewhat.

And how does he get away with it?

Henry Jickling was telling me, when we were discussing the McGee case, that since he has been Judge in the Supreme Court he has sat in six cases. And five of them have been actions for libel brought by Fisher agaist someone who has complained about him. The sixth was brought by  Brown, but supported by Fisher. against Gilles for refusing to continue paying Browns wages after I dismissed him.

So there we are. Anyone who makes a public statement about FIddle Fingers FIsher and his Fancy Finances stands in danger of finding himself in the dock defending a charge of criminal libel while FIsher uses the money he saves on labourers to employ what we ironically term "the finest lawyers in the Colony".

I have even heard whispers that Fisher is making moves to have me removed as Governor. There have been letters to London, secret messages, all the usual paraphernalia of cloak and dagger skullduggery.

Well, to be honest, if I am removed, then I am not sure that I will be too upset. Let them get someone else to come out and try and clean up the mess left by Mr Fisher. I can be well out of it and back in London while the rest all go to buggery!

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