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THE LETTER

Here’s a much edited – but still too long – version of the whole article that appeared around this time.

To His Honor Lieutenant Governor ARTHUR, &c, &c, &,

SIR,-I have some reason to believe that these respectful Communications, aided by other accidental circumstances (which every man of common discernment could not but have anticipated, sooner or later to occur), have induced you to bestow a little of your attention upon the conduct of certain individuals whose object it has been (for the furtherance of their own purposes), to draw a line around you, within which none but themselves – or those privileged by them should penetrate. I have adopted then, the present channel of address, not, as the hirelings assert, for the gratification of ‘personal importance’ but in the honest endeavour to submit to your serious consideration, the real feelings, sentiments, and situation of the people, placed by their Sovereign under your Government; and which the hirelings so anxiously desire either to disguise – or altogether to withhold from you…

Sir, you may rest assured that the moment you put from your counsels, those whose imbecilities have produced such disastrous consequences, that the whole Colony, every Gentleman possessing weight and interest amongst us, will rally round you with cheerfulness and attachment; and your Government will assume a tone, equally advantageous to the people, and satisfactory to yourself…

Sir, their great system of operations appears to have been,(their own inte- rests first considered) to keep you at a distance from all others but themselves, so as to preclude the possibility of any individual approaching you, with confidence sufficient to be enabled to lay before you distinct views of the state of the country – to set you at variante with all those, whose interests are so entirely Colonial, that their assistance can never be other than useful : the inevitable consequence of which is, that the acts of the administration appear to be a mere chapter of accidents, proceeding on from time to time,’as chance and circumstances may dictate, and actuated by no fixed principle whereon its march proceeds.

And what is the result? Difficulties start up at every step; agriculture languishes, commerce is suspended; and apprehension and dissatisfaction exist in every quarter.

The Hero of the piece, however, has shewn some little gallantry : he has stood forth at last, in defence of his operations, with all the powers he possesses, and as openly as anything short of public avowal would admit : he even complains in the first person of what he calls abuse! Sir, he has never been abused by me, his selfish and imbecile efforts to concenter in himself the whole administration of the Colony, by thrusting his interference in every quarter where he could venture it, has undoubtedly called from him strong expressions of reproof certainly not stronger than all persons are subjected to, who, if receiving from the Public large sums, wholly disproportioqed either to their office or their abilities, are considered by that Public, as fairly open to censure.

Sir, it is fresh in our recollection, that but a short time ago you felt yourself enabled to declare, (and when declarations come from such high authority as yours, they are considered as not rashly ventured upon, and therefore entitled to every confidence), that the Colony was in a most flourishing state, that five shillings per bushel ought to be, and would be the maximum price of wheat, that everything was going on in the best possible manner; in short, that the Administration was almost an optimism. The old residents shook their heads, and would have ventured to reply, but they dared not !

The powerful ill-stained influence behind your chair, greater, as its effects shew, than your chair itself, shut the door against reply or explanation; the wisdom of new comérs, hardly warm in the Colony, was opposed to long habitual experience, proven integrity, known disinterestedness, and confirmed practical knowledge; and their blind system of chance and improvidence has continued, until famine stares us in the face and dismay and distrust universally prevail!

Sir, this is an accurate resemblance: the portraiture is taken from the life, and you will yourself soon have afflicting proofs of its fidelity. Yet, Sir, haye you been advised to suffer to be given to the Public a strong unasked for, and ill-judged panegyric upon the individual who is by the hirelings placed in the front of the battle ; and admitted to be the great mover of events.

Look round the Colony, Sir, from George Town to Bruny Island; is there a human being, I say, but one human being, (the paid dependants always excepted) who did not read this document with emotions either of regret, of laughter, or of distrust ! But then, sir. these men are “moral!” they talk to you of “moral influence,” and the Wilberforcean system, imagining from former events, that these are points, on which you are sensibly alive, and perhaps easily accessible.

Look at them! Do they shew that they are acted upon by these influences, when their own interests are concerned! Do not their mean jealousies of all others, and a thousand other circumstances, exhibit the most positive proofs, that all this is only what is known amongst English political writers, by the expressive word ‘cant!’ plain, unadulterated, unsophisticated cant! audit comes with a most undisguised bad grace from men who from early habits, one would suppose to have been so deeply grounded in the very opposite qualities, that if they are really what they profess to be, their conversion must have been miraculous., little short of that of St. Paul!

Numberless are the instances which I could adduce to you, in illustration of the system, now in such full operation, I have already quoted a Letter at your secretary, Captain Montagu, to Mr, Head, the late Wharfinger, in which the ‘immoral manner of hill-life” is assigned as one of your reasons, for depriving him of his situation.

A Mr. Triffitt, a settler in the interior, affords another instance of extraordinary interference. This person, living at a distance of sixty miles in a remote part of the country has been hunted out also for supposed ” unmoral” conduct ; and heavy denunciations have been fulminated against this obscure individual, unless he al tered his ” immoral” habits.’ Again, the ” mode of life” of all …the publicans of Hobart Town, has undergone a most severe scrutiny and any ‘backslider” has been visited accordingly.

Two instances will suffice : the one, that of Mr, Hansom, a truly respectable inhabitant of this town, 30 years resident in these Colonies, l8 years Principal Superintendent of VVoiks, with a reputation unimpeached and unimpeachable, universally esteemed by all former Governors, whose premises had been erected expressly for the public accommodation many years, ago at a very considerable expense, when houses (such as his) were of the greatest benefit and convenience. This individual, at an advanced period of life, nearly seventy years of age, has been deprived of his license, to his most serious loss and injury, because it was discovered that the faithful female, who had for years borne his name, and conducted her self in all the various relations of humble life, with credit to herself and injury to no one, was unhappily unable to enter into the legal estate of matrimony, in consequences of circumstances of long previous existence not within her own control, which she could neither alter nor recur to; and which, until the prying eye of some persecuting hypocrite, ferretted out, were before generally unknown!

And this aged man is now to suffer serious pecuniary injuries, upon pretences, which, at his time of life, are ridiculously hypocritical. The treatment also of another very respectable man who lost his license upon similar grounds, is again an instance of the same sort, and there are many such.

These, Sir, are perfect illustrations of the Cant,’ system, now in such full.

How will this be relished by old field Officers, aud others who, after long and honourable services, may lind themselves by a strange revolution of the inconstant wheel of fortune, subordinate to individuals, v ho without the smallest pretensions to such elevation, possess thfin.selves accidentally of situations, which evou they themselves cannot comprehend how they have attained ! in which they know not how to conduct themselves towards those, who are their superiors in every way, but in office and in favor!  

Sir, when we hear a Gentleman holding one of the most responsible situations in the Colony, in the middle of the nineteenth centuvy, addressing an enlighten ed assembly, where a Lieutenant Governor of an important Colony, an Officer of rank in the Army presides, and in the face of such, to utter such ranting miserable stuff as that ” the Devil had raised his standard here,” that we were more deadly than “the bloody fields of Waterloo,” and this to people whose money although he is receiving at the late of five thousand of their dollars yearly, of whom, from his recent arrival here, he is in the most perfect ignorance !

Why, Sir, What must be the natural conclusion, which men of common education, common experience, common sense must come to! But with all this outcry about the Devil and Waterloo, not one syllable was uttered as to the apprehended famine and want! …

They have however now the field open to them. They have a vehicle of their own, to say nothing of the public purse, that best of auxiliaries in all causes. It must then be a very bad one, that cannot be now well justified. They boast of their own “virtue, and morality, and honour and merit,” and that all others who have ventured to oppose them, are ” puling, illiterate, spleuetic, ignorant scribers,” to silence and to annihilate whom, is to be ” the wrle only of one week!” We shall see what these Leviathans of literature and of cant, can effect. They have every advantage except one. And that alone, Sir, not-withstanding their powerful talents, their prodigious superiorities, moral and intellectual, will enable us to hold our ground, and to possess our present decided superiority!

That one, Sir, is our cause!

I beg leave to have the honour to subscribe I myself, with the utmost respect, Sir, your most submissive servant,

A COLONIST.

May 27, 1825.

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I guess the real issue here is why on earth this mysterious cant-monger, moral advisor to Governor Arthur, should pick on James Triffitt. The plot thickens.

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