The Jerilderie Letter
September 15, 2011
Ned Kelly’s legend is all the more glorious for the power of his voice, which you can still hear loud and clear if you read the 1879 Jerilderie letter, a 7400-word account of his actions and a plea for better treatment of Irish settlers in his State. Kelly dictated this almost-manifesto to his friend, Joe Byrne. He begins mildly:
“I wish to acquaint you with some of the occurrences of the present past and future.”
But soon winds up into a blistering attack upon the corruption and feeble character of the men who claimed to dispense justice at the time.
“The Queen must surely be proud of such herioc men as the Police and Irish soldiers as It takes eight or eleven of the biggest mud crushers in Melbourne to take one poor little half starved larrakin to a watch house.”
“...and is my brothers and sisters and my mother not to be pitied also who has no alternative only to put up with the brutal and cowardly conduct of a parcel of big ugly fat-necked wombat headed big bellied magpie legged narrow hipped splaw-footed sons of Irish Bailiffs or english landlords which is better known as Officers of Justice or Victorian Police who some calls honest gentlemen.”