The Argus at KellyGang 16/12/1878
No narratives in the papers are more eagerly read at the present moment than those relating to the outrages committed by the Mansfield murderers. On one point the public should be cautioned, and that is against accepting in good faith the stories which emanate from the outlaws or their confederates and friends. The criminal mind has a peculiar cast; it has great powers of dissimulation. Nearly every ruffian, it may be said, has some thing of the histrionic art about him, and the constant effort of these men is to posture when under the public eye as generous, large-hearted beings, persecuted by a wicked police, but really entitled to the sympathy of their fellows. The practice is an instinct with them. They pose as injured innocents as naturally as a girl attitudinises before a mirror.
WEECHURCH was a notable specimen of the class. The man whose specious story imposed the other day upon a magistrate of the experience of Judge COPE is another instance, and the KELLYS, to judge from the tales that are finding then way into print, can quite hold their own in the trick of putting a gloss on their proceedings.
The account these scoundrels give of themselves affords a further proof of the truth of the elementary lesson that thieving and lying go hand in hand, and this does not cease when the thief becomes a murderer.
We fear that it cannot be denied that the adventures of the gang and their success in outwitting the police have had an effect upon that degraded class com- posed of men who hang about bush public houses, or obtain casual employment as station hands. It was to be hoped that even these men would have a hearty detestation of murder, and would assist in bringing murderers to justice. Such has not proved to be the case. In many instances the police have been baffled rather than assisted in their inquiries. And in other circles thoughtlessness leads to the gang being viewed in a false light, and to their tales obtaining a too ready acceptance. It would be an insult to the community to suppose that the DICK TURPIN and JACK SHEPPARD sentiment has any serious prevalence in the land, but at the same time it may be useful, as helping men to realise the situation, to remind the public that the "Kelly lot" or the "Greta gang" have lived from their infancy the common life of low thieves, pilfering by night, and trusting to get off, if detected, by false swearing at the police court by day.
The only difference between them and the dangerous and disreputable rough of Little Bourke-street and its purlieus is that the one lives in the country and the other in the town. The whole gang have been in the habit of thieving for their living. Had they been in town, they would have broken into houses and robbed drunken men. As it is, they have stolen horses and "planted" cattle, and have driven off sheep sometimes in flocks. In these latter cases, they have cut the creatures' throats, throwing the carcases down the shaft in an abandoned diggings, and have disposed of the skins. More than one instance of the kind is on record. In the villages, they have loafed about the public-houses, to make off with saddles, or to plunder poultry, the fowl in their pot not being generally their own. An episode in the career of one of the KELLYS, as currently narrated, is characteristic of the fraternity who are now baffling the police. A man put his horse up in the stable of a public-house while this Greta personage was at the bar. The new saddle attracted his attention. He quietly unstrapped it, and galloped off with it in his possession. In court the owner swore to the saddle, which was made to order, and the saddler, who was called, pointed to his private mark. But seven witnesses on the other side made oath and said that the saddle was KELLY'S, and that they had seen him use it constantly, and the prisoner received the benefit of the doubt.
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