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Governor Phillip's Address to the Convicts, 7 February 1788

On Thursday, 7th February 1788 the day after the women were landed the day had variable winds, the temperature was 74 degrees F, and the barometer 29.60.

Mr. Clark got up early to dress for the parade, which Arthur Bowes described in detail. (The spelling and grammar are all his own work.)

"This morning at 11 o'clock all who could leave the ships were summoned on shore, to hear the Governor's Commission read and also the Commission constituting the Court of Judicature. The marines were all under arms, and received the Governor with flying colours and a band of music. He was accompanied by the judge Advocate, Lieutenant Governor, Clergiman, Serveyor General, Surgeon General etc. After taking off his hat and complimenting the marine officers, who had lowered their colours and paid that respect to him as Governor which he was intitled to, the soldiers marched with music playing, drums and fifes, and formed a circle round the whole of the convicts, men and women who were collected together. The convicts were all ordered to sit down on the ground; all gentlemen present were desired to come into the centre, where stood the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Judge Advocate, Clergyman, Surgeon etc. etc. A camp table was fixt before them, and 2 red leather cases laid thereon, containing the Commissions etc. which were opened and unsealed in the sight of all present, and read by the judge Advocate (Captain Collins)."

After reading his orders and commission "The Governor harangued the convicts, telling them that he had tried them hitherto to see how they were disposed. That he was now thoroughly convinced there were many amongst them incorrigable, and that he was persuaded nothing but severity would have any effect upon them, to induce them to behave properly in future. He also assured them that if they attempted to get into the women's tents of a night there were positive orders for firing upon them. That they were very idle - not more than 200 out of 600 were at work, that the industrious should not labour for the idle. If they did not work, they should not eat. In England, theiving poultry was not punished with death; but here where a loss of that kind could not be supplied, it was of the utmost consequence to the settlement, as well as every other species of stock, as they were preserved for breeding. Therefore stealing the most trifling article of stock or provisions should be punished with Death. That, however such severity might militate against his humanity and feelings towards his fellow creatures, yet that Justice demanded such rigid execution of the Laws and they might implicitly relye upon justice taking place. Their labour would not be equal to that of an husbandman in England, who has a wife and family to provide for. They would never be worked beyond their abilities, but every individual should contribute his share to render himself and Cornunity at large happy and comfortable as soon as the nature of the settlement will admit of Thet they should be employed erecting houses for the different officers, next for the marines, and lastly for themselves. After this harangue they were dismissed in the same form as they were assembled. After which the Governor retired to a cold collation under a large tent erected for that purpose to which the general officers only were invited and not the least attention whatever was paid to any other person who came out from England. The Masters of the different ships paid him the compliment of attending on shore during the reading of the Comission, which they were not under any obligation to do, notwithstanding which there was no more notice taken of them or even to provide the slightest accommodation for them than the convicts themselves."

Lt Clark's account of the day was of a more material nature. "All the officers dined with him on a cold collation; but the mutton which had been killed yesterday morning was full of maggots. Nothing will keep 24 hours in this country, I find."

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