Captain Watkin Tench Quotes in Our Country’s Good
COLLINS. […] You have been made Governor-in-Chief of a paradise of birds, Arthur.
PHILLIP. And I hope not of a human hell, Davey. Don’t shoot yet, Watkin, let’s observe them. Could we not be more humane?
TENCH. Justice and humaneness have never gone hand in hand. The law is not a sentimental comedy.
PHILLIP. I am not suggesting they go without punishment. It is the spectacle of hanging I object to. The convicts will feel nothing has changed and will go back to their old ways.
TENCH. The convicts never left their old ways, Governor, nor do they intend to.
I commend your endeavour to oppose the baneful influence of vice with the harmonising acts of civilisation, Governor, but I suspect your edifice will collapse without the mortar of fear.
TENCH. It’s their favourite form of entertainment, I should say.
PHILLIP. Perhaps because they’ve never been offered anything else.
TENCH. Perhaps we should build an opera house for the convicts.
PHILLIP. We learned to love such things because they were offered to us when we were children or young men. Surely no one is born naturally cultured?
PHILLIP. We are indeed here to supervise the convicts who are already being punished by their long exile. Surely they can also be reformed?
TENCH. We are talking about criminals, often hardened criminals. They have a habit of vice and crime. Habits are difficult to break. And it can be more than habit, an innate tendency. Many criminals seem to have been born that way. It is in their nature.
A crime is a crime. You commit a crime or you don’t. If you commit a crime, you are a criminal. Surely that is logical? It’s like the savages here. A savage is a savage because he behaves in a savage manner. To expect anything else is foolish. They can’t even build a proper canoe.
PHILLIP. Some of these men will have finished their sentence in a few years. They will become members of society again, and help create a new society in this colony. Should we not encourage them now to think in a free and responsible manner?
TENCH. I don’t see how a comedy about two lovers will do that, Arthur.
PHILLIP. The theatre is an expression of civilisation. […] The convicts will be speaking a refined, literate language and expressing sentiments of a delicacy they are not used to. It will remind them that there is more to life than crime, punishment. And we, this colony of a few hundred will be watching this together, for a few hours we will no longer be despised prisoners and hated gaolers. We will laugh, we may be moved, we may even think a little.
In my own small way, in just a few hours, I have seen something change. I asked some of the convict women to read me some lines, these women who behave often no better than animals. And it seemed to me, as one or two—I’m not saying all of them, not at all—but one or two, saying those well-balanced lines […], they seemed to acquire a dignity, they seemed—they seemed to lose some of their corruption. There was one, Mary Brenham, she read so well, perhaps this play will keep her from selling herself to the first marine who offers her bread—
PHILLIP. Liz Morden—(He pauses.) I had a reason for asking you to cast her as Melinda. Morden is one of the most difficult women in the colony.
RALPH. She is indeed, Sir.
PHILLIP. Lower than a slave, full of loathing, foul mouthed, desperate.
RALPH. Exactly, Sir. And violent.
PHILLIP. Quite. To be made an example of.
RALPH. By hanging?
PHILLIP. No, Lieutenant, by redemption.
What is a statesman’s responsibility? To ensure the rule of law. But the citizens must be taught to obey that law of their own will. I want to rule over responsible human beings, not tyrannise over a group of animals. I want there to be a contract between us, not a whip on my side, terror and hatred on theirs.