Page:Transportation and colonization.djvu/144

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The property and wealth of the first of these classes consisting chiefly in their flocks and herds, the convict labourers assigned to settlers of that class are employed exclusively as shepherds and herdsmen; and as a flock of sheep consists of from three hundred and fifty to one thousand head, according as the country is more or less open, while the value of such a flock is at present from £500 to £1500, the convict shepherd or herdsman is necessarily entrusted with a large amount of valuable property, which, as a matter of course, subjects him to the strongest temptations to steal, or to connive at stealing from his master; and gives him the power of injuring his master, if he has in any way incurred his displeasure, in a great variety of ways, and to an incalculable amount. In this way, sheep and cattle stealing has, within the last few years, grown into a regular system in New South Wales, and is now practised to a prodigious extent;[1] numbers of the native youth of the colony, whose character in this particular at least was formerly above all suspicion, having latterly embarked extensively in the criminal practice, doubtless through their unhappy

  1. I have known cases of large proprietors of stock in the colony having 150 or 200 head of cattle missing at one time.