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(277 Page eBook)






Author of "The Anglo-Saxon,
a Study in Evolution," etc., etc.

In this story of the bushrangers I do not pretend to have included the names of all those who have at various times been called bushrangers in Australia. That, as will be seen from what I have said in the earlier chapters, would be not merely impossible but useless. I believe, however, that I have collected some particulars about all those who succeeded in winning even a local notoriety, and I have also endeavoured to supply such personal characteristics of the leaders in the movement as may throw some light on the causes which induced them to "take to the bush." My principal object, however, has been to make the picture as complete as possible, so that the magnitude of the social evil which the Australians set themselves to cure may be realised; and it is generally believed in Australia that this cure has been so complete that bushranging will never again become epidemic.

The story is a terrible one. Some of the incidents related are no doubt revolting, but it is necessary that even these should be told to show how civilised man may be degraded by unjust and oppressive laws. We are all creatures of the educational influences to which we are subjected in our youth, and therefore it is unfair to blame the earlier bushrangers; because they were the products of the civilisation of their day, and were not themselves responsible. But sensational as the story is, its tendency is rather to depress than to exhilarate the reader, for the story is a sad one, in that it shows a deplorable waste of what under happier conditions might have been useful lives. As a rule I have adhered very closely to the newspaper reports of the time, but to make the story (which naturally tends to be scrappy and disconnected) as homogeneous and continuous as possible, I have followed one gang to the close of its career, and then returned to take up the history of another gang. I have paid special attention to the geography of the country, and the reader who possesses a fairly good map of each of the colonies should have no difficulty in following the movements of each of the gangs, and may thus obtain an idea of the extent of the area over which it operated.

Hitherto the histories of Australia have passed very lightly over the bushrangers, but there can be no doubt that they exercised some influence, and not always for evil, for to their influence is due some of the sturdy Republicanism of the modern Australians. The publication of this story may perhaps assist the future historian in tracing the growth of public opinion in Australia, and will therefore not be without its use. It is in this hope that I submit it to the public.

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