colonial reporting – padding it outPosted: February 6, 2014
On 17 February 1805, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser published the paragraph below. Before you read it, imagine the possible scenario.
Editor to aspiring 1805 journalist:
“Mind how you go on the road from Sydney to Hawkesbury. There’s been a siting of three gents hanging about near the Ponds. They stopped a cart. Put together a few words of warning for tomorrow’s edition, will you?”
Aspiring 1805 journalist:
“On it, Sir”
Take a deep breath and read on.
Punctuation and spelling are as per the original item.
suspicion of their being bushrangers. They had been previously observed lurking about the Ponds by a carrier, who passed unmolested, owing perhaps to his having another man in company : they did not, however, take any thing out of the cart they did stop ; nor at this time has any account been received of their offering violence to either passengers or other persons ; from whence it may be hoped they prefer the prospect of being restored to society to any momentary relief that might be obtained from acts of additional imprudence that could at best but render their condition hopeless. It is nevertheless necessary, that the settler as well as the traveller should be put upon his guard against assault, and that exertion should be general in assisting to apprehend every flagitious character who would thus rush upon a danger from which they can only be extricated by timely contrition and their return to obedience. All that have heretofore devoted themselves to this most horrible state of exile exactly correspond in the narration of vicissitudes to which many have fallen the unhappy victims. How deplorable must be the prospect of terminating an existence under all the accumulated horrors of such an exile! without a friend at hand to administer the last kind offices, or to alleviate affliction by humane condolance! parching with thirst, perhaps, but deprived by famine of the power to quench it! instead of the delightful confidence which Christian resignation can alone inspire, each succeeding pang embittered with self-accusation and remorse, heightened by the surrounding gloom to all the agonies of deep despair. If conscious impropriety of conduct inspire the fatal resolution of flying to the woods, this second act becomes a second outrage, and by an obstinate perseverance the very doors of mercy may be closed, and every avenue to hope cut off.