Page:Transportation and colonization.djvu/133

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

AND COLONIZATION.

119

the test: it would also enable the executive to fix the convicts for life to one spot or district in the penal territory, and to reduce them at any time to the condition of convicts, after they had obtained conditional freedom, on the slightest manifestation of criminality. Under the existing system of management, uniformity of treatment is so little studied or effected, that, as I have already remarked, transportation is a matter of as great uncertainty in its issue as a lottery-ticket—it may be a prize to the criminal, for aught the government can tell; or it may be a blank.

Again, as to the time afforded for making an experiment on the moral capabilities of the criminal; under the existing system, the convict for seven years is entitled to a ticket of leave, or conditional freedom, after the expiration of four years' service in the colony; provided he has committed no fresh offence, or rather been subjected to no additional punishment in the mean time. But as he is probably much better clothed and fed during these four years, than a large proportion of the free agricultural labourers of Great Britain or Ireland, and is not expected to perform any thing like the same quantity of labour which these labourers must perform, to earn even a scanty subsistence; it is preposterous to consider transportation for seven years as a punish-