The Ovens and Murray Advertiser 7/1/1879 (3)
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A RIGHT STEP
AFTER a lapse of upwards of nine weeks since the tragedy at Stringy Bark Creek, the police have taken active steps towards the capture of the Kelly gang. Acting on the provisions of the Outlawry Act, they have at length made a raid upon the friends, sympathisers, and suspected accomplices of the murderers, and already eighteen of these have been lodged in the Beechworth gaol, where some of them at least, should have been weeks ago. It has long been known that all throughout the district these desperadoes have had numberless sympathisers. And some time since we advanced the theory that the best and only means to effect the capture of these men who have so long successfully defied the authorities, was to suspend the Habeas Corpus Act, and arrest everyone who was suspected of aiding and abetting, or even sympathising with them. It is true that such a course of action may to some seem arbitrary and even cruel, as thereby innocent persons, through fortuitous circumstances, might be taken from their homes and lodged in gaol, but experience has shown that if these men are to be captured they must be cut off from society, and all their means of help must be interrupted. Extreme cases demand extreme measures to meet them, and no such extreme case has arisen in the colony of Victoria for years past. So long as the Kellys have friends, who are able and willing to help them, and to screen them from justice, so long are the police placed at a great disadvantage, and the law laughed at. We are not amongst those who believe that the letter received by Mr Cameron, M.L.A., purporting to be signed by Ned Kelly, was ever written by that redoubtable individual, but at the same time it contains no doubt a good deal of truth and must have emanated from some one thoroughly cognisant of the movements of the outlaws. From what we have written about police mismanagement and inefficiency we would not abate one jot, as we do not believe they have done their duty. The men have worked willingly and hard, but they have had no chance, hampered as they ever have been by red tapeism, and we still firmly incline to the belief that those who had the conducting of the pursuit altogether failed. No doubt the Government are to a great extent responsible for the delay, and by their supiness and want of administrative, have brought the force into some disrepute, but there are also other influences which have done a great deal towards preventing the capture of the gang. The police have not been up to the mark; the outlaws have been aided by stauch friends, and in their own country have been well protected, so much so, that never since the murder of the constables, save at the time of the sticking-up of the bank at Euroa, have the police really known their whereabouts. They have concealed themselves most effectually, thanks to the faithfulness of their friends, and to the information supplied them by the metropolitan press. The want of discretion shown by some of our contemporaries has been remarkable, and Ned Kelly and his comrades have to thank them a great deal for keeps them well posted up in the movements of the police. Immediately after the murders, special reporters were dispatched to the district, by the Melbourne newspapers, and these geniuses very kindly told the Kellys where the police were, and what they intended doing. In each issue of the papers for some time startling telegrams appeared, recounting the adventures of the police. The public were informed when Sergeant So and So accompanied by several troopers set out from Benalla, Wangaratta, or Mansfield, and their destination was faithfully chronicled, so that the bushrangers were the more easily able to elude detection. No more suicidal policy could have been adopted than that used by a section of the press, as in many instances it rendered the endeavours of the police completely abortive. With so many friends and relatives resident all over the district, with spies in every township, and at every railway station, it is but natural that the news gratuitously given in the newspapers became common property, and speedily reached the outlaws wherever they might be. Then the "our own reporters" eager to obtain news, and gain credit for assiduity, listened to and faithfully transmitted to head quarters every story any loafer might tell them, and Kelly's friends taking advantage of this managed to spread innumerable false reports, which only tended to hamper the authorities, and put them off the scent. To some extent this foolish system of penny a living, publishing bogus reports merely for the sake of creating an unhealthy sensation, and making known whenever possible what the police were doing, has done a great deal towards enabling the Kellys to defy capture, and had this not been done, and had the police been better handled, the men sought for would probably, ere this, have been captured. At length the authorities have woke-up to the fact that so long as the known sympathisers of the outlaws are allowed to be at large, supplying them with information, food and ammunition, and assisting to hide them, the chances of their capture are extremely remote, and however harsh it may appear, we thoroughly endorse the action they have taken, and trust it will be productive of fruit and lead to the breaking up of the most desperate gang of ruffians that ever infested Victoria. There are now in Beechworth gaol, men who have openly boasted of their sympathy with the gang, and others who are known to have helped and harboured them, and, if only all such are arrested and confined in gaol, there will be a better hope that the law will soon be vindicated, the country rid of these pests, and justice, stern and relentless done. Imprison accomplices and the chief actors will have their supplies cut off; will have to emerge more frequently from their hiding places, and probably some of those placed in durance will prefer to turn traitors to being immured in gaol. Still, there is much do on every hand; the Kellys have active sympathisers; the gang is gaining strength; more evils are threatened, and prompt and vigorous action is required.
The sensation of the past few days, has been the arresting of a number of suspected friends of the Kellys, and the intimation that more are to follow, and that the police are determined if possible to root out a nest of thieves and vagabonds, who for years past have been the curse of the North-Eastern District. The move is a right one, even although (though it is very unlikely,) some innocent ones may suffer. Four young men have created a state of things which can hardly be credited-the police are baffled, the country unsettled, and a regular reign of terror is in existence. On Saturday fifteen men, all well known characters, were arrested in the Wangaratta, Benalla, and Mansfield districts, and remanded to Beechworth gaol, and on Monday afternoon, three more arrived, and were consigned to Mr Thompson's gentle care. The warrant sets forth that they "did cause to be given to Edward Kelly and his accomplices, information tending to facilitate the commission by them of further crime." Their names are-James Quin, Francis Hearty, John McElroy, Thomas Lloyd, John McMonigal, Jas. Clancy, Daniel Clancy, Joseph Harvey, Joseph Ryan, Robert Miller, Henry Perkins, Isaiah Wright, John Hart, John Lloyd, Daniel Delaney, John Quin, Strickland, Wood and another whose name we have not learned. Most of these are intimately acquainted with the Kellys. Captain Standish came up to Beechworth yesterday afternoon, but only remained a short time. The twelve members of the artillery force, under Sergeant O'Neill, are quartered in the gaol, where two of them are always on duty. More arrests are expected.
NED KELLY'S HORSE.
Our Benalla correspondent writes:-A remarkable feature presented itself on the racecourse during the races on New Years Day, in the shape of a horse. The animal was the property of Ned Kelly, now outlawed, who, as it was rumoured, intended having a memorable picture for the police to gaze upon, as it represented £1000 in their minds (but there it rested), and that it would refresh their memories a little on account of the peacefulness of that desperate gang since the Euroa Bank robbery. Many were the rumours floating round, and when the police were near, such remarks as these were made, "I saw Ned Kelly on the other side of the course sitting on the fence, but whether the constables heard themselves laughed at or not, it is hard to say," but they used to quietly disperse after such remarks, and seek pastures new. The police are keeping very quiet in regard to their movements, and it is notorious that even the Benalla Standard Rambler cannot get a clue as to what they are doing, but as the Scotchmen say "Bide a wee," and all will come out straight.
Tenders are invited fot the supply of forage at the following police and other stations in the North Eastern district: -Benalla, Alexandra, Barnawartha, Beechworth, Bright, Broken River, Buckland, Cashel, Chiltern, Corryong, Doon, Eldorado, Euroa, Gaffney's, Gobur, Greta, Harrietville, Hedi, Jamieson, Lake Rowan, Longwood, Mansfield, Milawa, Mooroopna, Murchison, Myrtleford, Rushworth, Rutherglen, Shepparton, Snowy Creek, Tallangatta, Tarrawingee, Tatura, Toolambe, Violettown, Wahgunyah, Wangaratta, Whroo, Wodonga, Wood's Point, Wunghun, Yackandandah, Yarrawonga, and Sale. All tenders must be sent in to the Treasury, Melbourne, before the 4th February.
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