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I.

THERE is a great Australian family which boasts a recently invented shield and crest. The bearings are described in “Burke” with a rich luxuriance of heraldic jargon. Truthfully, they should be a woman, pendant, vert,note on a gallows sinister, sable. This is a story of the bravest deed ever done by a member of that family; which deed being what it was, is not borne from generation to generation on the perfumed breath of tradition. The younger members are taught to look with a reverence almost religious upon the inch of ribbon and the fragment of parchment which symbolize some ridiculous Imperial “honour,” conferred for Heaven alone knows what upon one of its later chieftains, but the deed which removes their “colonial founders” from the


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ruck of humanity they are never taught. The people who should teach them are ashamed of it. Which is human history. The great deeds of the world are the unhonoured ones.

Hyde Park Barracks, Sydney, in the Early Twenties. The buildings stood then much as they are to-day, where they form Chancery Square. There is, however, a slight difference in their tenants. Then, they consisted of persons who had fallen beneath the lash of the law. Now, they are the persons who wield that lash. The difference between the respective classes of tenants extend to their manners. Between the coarseness of speech and gesture of the convicts and the polished blackguardism of the present-day followers of the Law there lies the chasm created by two generations of culture. In morals, however, there is no divergence of character.

A wall, 10 feet 6 inches high, separated at the time of our story the barrack enclosure, on the south and west, from the open, unfenced space called indiscriminately the Racecourse, the Parade-ground, and Hyde Park; on the north from the General Hospital enclosure and the pleasure-grounds of the Governor. The entrance was from the west, the gates being guarded by two lodges 12 feet square—the one on the right being appropriated to the clerks, the other to


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those indispensable accessories of the System, the “freed” constables. Other offices and minor buildings formed then, as they form now, a lining to the walls, clasping as it were in their embrace the principal building. This was the main barrack. It deserves a niche of distinction in architectural history, for it was the first building, not in Australia alone, but in the British Empire, arranged specifically for the classification of prisoners according to the degrees of their criminality. Governor Macquarie, if for no other reason, deserves to be honoured in that he attempted to solve a problem which English-speaking legislatures everywhere grow daily eloquent about while leaving unsolved. If delay in the work of social reform be playing the game of the devil, what a capable partner he has in the English-speaking legislator!

The barrack was of three storeys. On each floor there were four rooms. A passage 12 feet wide ran the length of the building. Two rooms—those facing west—were 65 feet long; the other two were 35 feet long. The breadth of each room was 19 feet.

In each of the six long rooms seventy men slept. In each of the six small ones, thirty-five. As a rule, that is. But one January night, in the Early Twenties, No. 5 room, the small one on the east end of


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the upper floor, contained thirty-three men—and one girl. She was the founder of the great Australian family aforesaid.

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