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I.

PHILIP FRANKE was his name, and his grade was Overseer of the Outer Domain Gang. Originally a drummer-boy in the 73rd Regiment, he, by much musical beating of the tattoo and reveille, and by a fine enthusiasm in the use of the cat when a comrade was lashed to the halberds in Barrack Square, had achieved promotion in the regiment. He had won the sergeant's stripes, and with them the commendation of his superiors, and the hearty, undisguised hatred of every one—“Government labour,” soldier, or lower class “free”—over whom at any time he exercised authority. A pleasant fellow to look at, save that he was rather undersized, he had a round chubbiness of feature which was suggestive of Primeval Innocence and Uncorrupted Virtue. No man could look more un-Systematic or more cherubic;


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and when Mr. Lewin, the distinguished botanist and artist, was searching for models for the group of angels he was painting for the lady of his Excellency Governor Macquarie—Mrs. Macquarie favoured Mr. Lewin with many commissions—it is not surprising to learn, firstly, that Lieutenant-Colonel O'Connell promised to send him some one from the Barracks who he thought would serve Mr. Lewin's purpose; and, secondly, that Sergeant Philip Franke was, in consequence, depicted by the artist as reposing on a remarkably neat arrangement of snowy cumuli.

The incident is mentioned here as demonstrating the regard in which his officers held Franke, and also as indicating the foundation for the widespread convict belief that Franke would never get any nearer heaven than those pictured clouds would carry him.

Truth to say, the qualities which were most generally manifested by Philip Franke were not such as to commend him to the loving appreciation of the “Government labour,” or of the rank-and-file. And when on the 19th day of March, 1814, it was known that Sergeant Franke had received his Excellency's special permission to remain behind when his regiment was relieved by the 46th under Colonel Molle,


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there was a wild break-out of hilarity in Barrack Square, and a corresponding depression of spirits among the out-labour passports. For in the same breath that it was made known that Franke had received Governor Macquarie's permission, it was announced that he retired on pension to the Overseership of the O. D. Gang.

His Excellency the Major-General's farewell proclamation to the 73rd was read out by the Brigade-Major at morning parade. When the paragraph—

In adverting to their Services in this Colony, although unhappily Events have occurred which must always occasion the deepest Regret, as well to the Corps as to the Major-General, it must be recollected that the Odium attending those ACTS OF DEPRAVITY ought in Justice only to extend to the Perpetrators of them,

was reached, a murmur rolled through the ranks—“Acts o' depravutty! Th' spyin o' Sargeant Franke, th' measley sot!” The files on parade had memories that at that particular moment were not to be appeased by rounded periods of glowing eulogy. His Excellency went on to express his opinion that—

This Station has not afforded the usual Field for Military Glory, but, in as far as the industrious Exertions of those Non-commissioned Officers and Privates who could be spared from Military Duty have been concerned, this Colony is much indebted for many useful Improvements, which, but for the soldiers of the 73rd Regiment, must have remained only in


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the Contemplation of those anxious for its Civilization for a Length of Time.

He might go even beyond that magnificent tribute—he might go to the length of averring that—

The Comforts enjoyed by the Colonists in Consequence of the zealous and laborious Exertions of the Soldiers of the 73rd Regiment will long be remembered with their grateful Recollections.

But even balm of that sort could not heal the wound Macquarie had inflicted when he had given Corporal Franke an extra stripe for playing the sneak and turning barrack-room and parade-ground into sub-divisions of hell.

Healing for that wound came only when it was known later the same day that Sergeant Franke was to stop behind, having obtained fifty acres of land and an overseership.

“But, O Lord, boys, what'll life be worth now for them convicts as he's over?”

This was the barrack-room sentiment. And it was not thought merely and kept in the thinker's own mind, but spoken openly without reserve as a soldier should speak. And it was applauded bravely when spoken.

For with the sergeant would pass away the chief spy of the regiment, and the lesser spies feared the rank-and-file more than they were regarded by the


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officers. None of the lesser spies were gifted like Phil Franke with sweet manners and a cherub's face, and consequently none could get the ear of the Colonel and the Major-General. With every disposition to emulate Franke's career as a reporter to the High Powers of barrack and guard-room discontent, two or three non-coms. and several privates had been unfortunately deprived by Nature of the qualities necessary for success. Which circumstance, if looked at in the proper light, will appear a matter for regret, inasmuch as in the barrack-room of the 73rd rebellion was always in an incipient stage, and the expenditure on a few military executions would have conduced greatly to the prosperity of the country.note At any time in our colonial history up to 1825 it would have been an easy thing for our Prætorian Guards to have wrested the control of the colony from the Constituted Powers, and more than one such plot had been in course of incubation within the quarters of the 73rd. That the eggs were addled was largely due to our hero, Franke.

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