Letter to Viscount Sidmouth … on the Transportation Laws, the State of the Hulks, and of the Colonies in New South Wales. Henry Grey BENNET.
Letter to Viscount Sidmouth … on the Transportation Laws, the State of the Hulks, and of the Colonies in New South Wales.

Letter to Viscount Sidmouth…
Letter to Viscount Sidmouth … on the Transportation Laws, the State of the Hulks, and of the Colonies in New South Wales.

London: J. Ridgway, 1819.

Octavo, bound with the half-title, often lacking, folding table, 137pp.; traditional half calf, spine gilt-lettered, the Hobill Cole copy with his bookplate and with the blind stamps of Tom Ramsay and Fred C. Eager.

Bennet's attack on the convict system during Macquarie's administration

Scarce first edition of Bennet's scathing attack on the convict system under Governor Macquarie. This work is one of the more significant contemporary accounts of convict discipline, and is considered an essential document of the Macquarie era, not least as it prompted Macquarie's own response.

Scarce first edition of Bennet's scathing attack on the convict system under Governor Macquarie. This work is one of the more significant contemporary accounts of convict discipline, and is considered an essential document of the Macquarie era, not least as it prompted Macquarie's own response.
Henry Bennet (1777-1836) was a British parliamentarian who began a crusade for penitentiary reform that culminated in 1816. His "efforts 'to diminish the sum of human misery' adorn the history of English criminal law. No retributory institution, prison, hulk, penal colony, or penitentiary adequately combined punishment with reformation: he and his select committees exposed them, but to little avail" (ODB). The scope of his inquiry was both broad and enlightened, and included the conflation of political prisoners with felons and the plight of insane persons. Nor surprisingly, the penal colony at New South Wales was attacked as a dumping ground. Bennet writes in his Letter to Viscount Sidmouth 'to get rid of the miserable objects of legal punishment constituted the sole occupation of these administrators of our penal law; and when the grave closed on some, and the distance of half the globe prevented the cries of the others of the victims we banished from our shores from being heard in England, these artificers of death, moral and physical, were satisfied the law had taken its course…'
Bennet was manipulated and sometimes misinformed by enemies of Macquarie (including the sanctimonious and vitriolic 'flogging parson' Samuel Marsden). Nonetheless, his Letter to Viscount Sidmouth reflects deep contemporary concern with the problematic role of New South Wales as a place of both punishment and reform.
A fine copy from notable Australian collections.

Ferguson, 731; Australian Rare Books, 42.

Price (AUD): $5,850.00  other currencies     Ref: #4503942

Condition Report