The Marines And Convicts Having Been Previously Embarked In The River,
At Portsmouth, And Plymouth, The Whole Fleet Destined For The Expedition
Rendezvoused At The Mother Bank, On The 16th Of March 1787, And Remained There
Until The 13th Of May Following.
In this period, excepting a slight appearance
of contagion in one of the transports, the ships were universally healthy,
and the prisoners in high spirits.
Few complaints or lamentations
were to be heard among them, and an ardent wish for the hour of departure
seemed generally to prevail.
As the reputation, equally with the safety of the officers and soldiers
appointed to guard the convicts, consisted in maintaining due subordination,
an opportunity was taken, immediately on their being embarked,
to convince them, in the most pointed terms, that any attempt on their side,
either to contest the command, or to force their escape, should be punished
with instant death; orders to this effect were given to the centinels
in their presence; happily, however, for all parties, there occurred not any
instance in which there was occasion to have recourse to so desperate
a measure; the behavior of the convicts being in general humble, submissive,
and regular: indeed I should feel myself wanting in justice to those
unfortunate men, were I not to bear this public testimony of the sobriety
and decency of their conduct.
Unpleasant as a state of inactivity and delay for many weeks appeared to us,
it was not without its advantages; for by means of it we were enabled
to establish necessary regulations among the convicts, and to adopt
such a system of defence, as left us little to Apprehend for our own security,
in case a spirit of madness and desperation had hurried them on
to attempt our destruction.
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