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TRANSPORTATION

stances, they are subject to enormous tyranny; many masters being utterly unfit to be entrusted with convict servants. But in proportion as the convicts have been dispersed over a wide extent of territory, and large numbers accumulated on particular estates, and assignments made to persons of questionable character, there has been a general and progressive relaxation of penal discipline towards the convicts in the service of settlers. Indeed, it must be acknowledged, that so long as convicts are disposed of in this manner, nothing like uniformity in the mode of treatment can possibly be enforced, while rewards and punishments will necessarily be meted out with comparatively little regard to the claims of justice or to individual desert. So unequal, indeed, is the system at present in operation, that transportation, like a lottery-ticket, may prove to the individual who draws it, and with equally little desert on his part, either a prize or a blank.

As to any direct means of attempting the reformation of criminals, it is no want of charity to assert, that they have scarcely ever been had recourse to in any form under the colonial system of New South Wales. Even religious instruction, that most powerful means of reformation, was for a long period either withheld from the convicts altogether, or subjected to some counteracting