The Argus at KellyGang 13/12/1878 (2)
It is evident that the police authorities did not recognise the gravity of the situation before the Mansfield murders, not can they be acquitted of the charge of not awakening to the requirements of the situation afterwards. A number of men were thrown into the district, but, as was repeatedly pointed out, the villages at the foot of the ranges, with then banks and then stores, were left unprotected. The local members laid complaints by the score before the department, and appeals and warnings were one and all disregarded. The result has been the Euroa catastrophe. One suggestion was that the Permanent Artillery should be utilised for the occasion, by being drafted into the hamlets in question, and if this was thought unadvisable, there was another resource. The inhabitants could have been invited to organise and to defend themselves. If an appeal had been made, no doubt the state could have obtained the services of special constables, who could have been aimed by the Government, and then each village would have had its little force.
Had a dozen men been aimed in Euroa, and been exercised as special constables, with a rendezvous and a head, we may well doubt whether the outrage would have been attempted, for the KELLYS would have known that a single shot would have given an alarm, and have brought destruction upon them. And so as regards the captives. The prisoners of Faithfull Creek do not shine as heroes, but it must be remembered that they were defenceless and purposeless, and that a man who knows that aid is near at hand, often offers a very different resistance from the man who realises that aid is hopeless. In other ways, a self-reliant spirit would have been fostered, which it is of the first importance to establish in the district. The weakest annual is dangerous, and has to be specially guarded against when driven to bay, and the KELLYS are in this position. They have halters round their necks; they are capable of any desperate deed, and their desperation gives them an immense advantage when they elect to swoop down upon men to whom it is not a matter of indifference whether their brains are blown out or otherwise. The situation was well known to the police authorities, they were aware how easily the stores of silver and gold in the villages could be reached from the ranges, for as it seems from a letter we publish elsewhere, they actually warned the banks last week of their dangers, and they appear entitled to blame for not perceiving that their duty was either to defend the scattered centres of population, or to organise them for resistance.
In due course it may be necessary to inquire into the present organisation of the police force, for there is a suspicion that the inspector of nuisances, and the collector of statistics, and the petty municipal officer, have been allowed to unduly displace the rough but dashing bushman. The latter element is still needed in the force. However, at the present juncture the duty of the citizen is to encourage and to cheer the men who are risking then lives on our behalf. No man doubts but that each constable and each officer engaged in the pursuit of the Kelly gang will do his utmost, and we can only hope that success will attend their efforts, and that right speedily. Every day the gang is at liberty is a public misfortune. It allows a spurious sympathy to spring up, the adventures of the bushrangers cloaking their crimes, and tempting the thoughtless to forget the abhorrence in which they should hold the habitual thieves whose criminal instincts, hardened by im punity, have led them on, step by step, until they have developed into wholesale murderers.
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