The Age (59)

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The Age continued with its report of Ned Kelly's sentence

full text of the article



'The press of the colony are unanimous in their condemnation of the course pursued by the Gaunson Brother over the Kelly case.' ' We append the following extracts;-


'Mr David Gaunson, a chief expounder of law in Parliament, and a prominent leader at the justice seats in our courts, played the scandalous part that is reported of him on Friday. In violation of all public decency he organised a demonstration that he knew would attract the whole social scum of a large city like Melbourne in favour of arresting execution of justice upon the sole survivor of a cowardly gang of murderers.


It is not too much to say that the course pursued by the Gaunson brother in reference to the case of the convict Kelly, will be execrated by right thinking persons in every part of the globe. It was intelligible enough that a young lawyer imbued with an inordinate desire for notoriety like Mr David Gaunson should have eagerly seized on the opportunity of identifying himself with a case the extraordinary features of which have rendered it of immense interest to the general public, and must cause it to live in history. But having discharged his duties as attorney for the prisoner, no reasonable excuse whatever can be offered for his gratuitous interference with the matter after its having been disposed of by the Supreme Court. In taking up such a line he is suicidally guilty of a sarcasm on his own professional ability, for in his defence of his client he was unable to convince the learned judge or jury of his innocence, or even to impress them with a belief that there were any redeeming features in the case entitling him to merciful consideration. Having signally failed there, he appeals, with the help of his brother, to the sentimental feelings of that section of the community which has expressed its sympathy with a cruel and cold blooded murderer. What he could not do fair means and by the exercise of his professional abilities he undertakes to do in a foul manner, and in a which other legal men would religiously shun and utterly condemn. The plea set forth by Mr D Gaunson in extenuation of the atrocious acts of Kelly and his gang amount simply to an insult to the intelligence of those to whom they are addressed. They were excusable on the part of a professional advocate bound to do his best for a prisoner at the bar defended by him; when advanced out of doors, and carried with a show of seriousness and solemnity to the representative of the Crown, they appear in so reprehensible a light that it is not easy to find words sufficiently forcible to describe them according to their demerits.



No man or women who has seen a wild beast or a viper destroy human life would extend exmpassion to the murderous brute or reptile but would compass its destruction at all hazards. And yet the shameful fact has to be recorder that thousands of people, led by a person elevated to a high position in Parliament, could be got together to solicit from outraged society pardon for the most wicked and cruel criminal who has ever disgraced the annals of Victoria; a ruffian whose very existence even at a date so remote from that of his cowardly crimes is a reproach to the sense of justice of the community. We cannot read the accounts of the meeting convened by the precious attorney of the meeting convened by the precious attorney who has so vilely prostituted his profession, and insulted the laws of the land, without feeling that something like the iron-handed authority in vague in continental communities might be infused into the system by which public meetings are regulated, and that the power should be left in the hands of proper authorities to forbid such assemblages of the loose-minded, idle and criminal for improper purposes. Such a meeting of thieves, prostitutes and foolish persons as the two Gaunsons get together on Friday night is absolutely dangerous to the common weal, for it begets contempt for law and justice, and sympathy of the most familiar kind with villany, the effects of which on the subsequent acts of the multitude are not to be measured. The disgrace of the colony of Friday's meeting is a matter for shame and regret, but the notions put so glibly forward by the elder Gaunson, and hailed by the disreputable auditors as truth and wisdom, will, unless vigorously counteracted by the sharp execution of Kelly's sentence, and the outspokenness of the press, prove infinitely harmful in fostering a spirit of lawlessness among those ignorant people who like Kelly himself, resent interference with their crimes as hardship and injustice. The duty of covering with shame and confusion the promoters of the meeting should confusion the promoters of the meeting should certainly have been undertaken by the law abiding citizens of Melbourne; but not having been done, it remains for everyone to, as far, as possible, destroy the effect of the spurious sympathy so evilly evoked (possibly for a consideration, for lawyers seldom work for love) by the Gaunson brothers

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