Letter from Van Dieman's Land
Freeman's Journal 10 February 1835
The following are extracts from a letter, written nearly twelve months since, in Van Dieman's Land, and lately received by a gentleman in Kilkenny, who has been kind enough to permit us to publish them, The letter is from a man of the strictest probity: Kilkenny Journal
"I am most happy, as an opportunity offers for London, to send you an account of this d____d country; and I hope you'll make it known to all persons who purpose to emigrate to those colonies (which you ands I were led to think were the best) that Ireland bad as it is, is better than here.
There is neither employment for free people, or pity for the affected, the hearts of all are callous to every feeling save that of avarice. I have been from one extremity of the colony to the other, and in no part of it could I obtain anything like comfort, or do I see for any one. If it were not for a few pounds which remained to me after the expense of our voyage, &c., I should before now die of want. There is no employment for persons of any calling whatever.
This country is inhabited by persons who have been transported for the last 30 years; and they have land granted them on their freedom, but their morals are quite depraved. Each person in town and country that holds property of any description are allowed prisoners to do their work, and if they do not do it, complaint is made, and they are cruelly lashed every day till they give full satisfaction to their master. I wish it was generally known in Ireland by the unfortunate and misguided portion of my countrymen, how transports are dealt with here; and I am sure they would commit no offence to subject them to transportation. I assure you in the most positive manner, it would be a greater mercy to hang them at home than send them here. I suppose you know the order of things as regards the seasons here; to-day the sun is much hotter than it is with you in June. Now is the commencement of the Autumn season we have not had any rain since our arrival; but the weather has been very hot. The climate is very healthy, and what very extraordinary, very changeable. We never had better health. We were sixteen weeks on our voyage, an had no accident. I hope I shall some day have money enough to pay our passage from this unchristian land; for although there are Protestant, Catholic, and Methodist places of worship, very few frequent them. The country is hilly and mountainous, and I have not as yet seen any thing like a good crop of corn. The markets are as follows:Bacon1s per pound, beef and mutton 6d per pound, Bread 10d for 4 pound, Potatoes, 3d per pound, and all other vegetables very dear. I have purchased a few acres of ground for seven years. I pay 80l. a-year for two rooms without furniture.
Respects for, &c. &c.
Launceston, 20th Feb. 1834