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Dissatisfaction over the sentences of Bentley, Farrel and Hance

The Geelong Advertiser reported continued public dissatisfaction at James Scobie’s killers only having received three years each for their grievous act.

20 November 1854
Published Source
Australian National Dictionary Centre, The Gold Rushes and Australian English: a resource for researchers, teachers and students, Australian National University, 2005, http://www.anu.edu.au/andc/res/aus_words/gold/index.php. Details
This material is provided by the Australian National Dictionary Centre, a joint project of the Australian National University and Oxford University Press Australia.


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BALLARAT. (FROM OUR CORRESPONDENT.) Nov. 20th, 1854. Yesterday evening it reached here, that Bentley, Farrel, and Hance, had been sentenced to three years each on the roads of the Colony. That the report is correct, there is no doubt entertained, although there are sundry hard names given to Melbourne Justice for having lately arrived at a singularly strict decision, and for having in the present instance, come so far short of the deservings of the accused. While on all hands, it is a cause of rejoicing that we are now morally vindicated in the eyes of the world for our late manifestation of popular indignation, there is still a spirit of discontent at the leniency of the sentence. As we are not yet in possession of a detailed account of the trial, it may be premature to form our opinions on the matter, but rest assured that ere long we will tell openly what we think of the whole transaction. I understand that the next Public Meeting is to be held on the 22nd inst., and that this subject is to form a chief point for consideration. The coming meeting is to end the agitation consequent on the late crying grievances; immediately after we are to enter on an agitation having for its object, removal of all our disabilities, and the obtainment of each and every of our rights. It is certainly a heavy work under the circumstances, but still we do not despair, being fully aware that not only all the gold fields are on our side, but that the sympathies of the seaboard population are with us. It will be our own fault, if from haste, we select men unfit to lead us in this important movement. But there is one hope always remaining to us that the absolute justness of our appeal will command respect and attention however inadequate the generalship. I do not overlook the fact that we have many good and able leaders, but it admits of doubt whether their assistance, or that of others less rightly but more impudently qualified be accepted. Owing to Bentley’s conviction, it is considered that the prisoners implicated in the burning of the Hotel are now likely to come off safe; of course, I refer to some of them in particular, who are less prepared than the others with evidence to disprove the charge of aiding and abetting in the destruction; some of them would have been acquitted in any case, unless there be a general infatuation about all Melbourne Juries. At the next meeting it is said that the diggers are about to burn all their licences, and in future to cease taking out any such documents; I am not aware of any law which will be broken by this act of burning, although I fear that soon after, if the Government will persist in the matter, {that} the prisoners will be numbered by thousands. And yet, perhaps, and more likely, there will be no prisoners[,] owing{,} to the abandonment of the license system—at all events His Excellency should give orders to the various locan [local] authorities how to act in the emergency. His Excellency came among us with a high name as a diplomatist, and I am sure that before his departure from us, his right to the honor will be fairly tried. Many of the present leaders are determined to "trick and tie," with the government to any length; and there is no doubt that by a few constitutional moves, the government could be easily checkmated. Geelong Advertiser, 22 November 1854