47. A familiar example striking by its analogy will cause the principles just exposed to be better understood.
May 24, 1861, the frigate “Iphigenia” conducted to New Caledonia a company composed of two hundred and ninety-one men. The commander of the colony addressed them on their arrival an order couched in these words:
“At your entrance into this distant land, you already comprehend that work which is expected of you.
By the example of our brave soldiers of the marine service, serving under your eyes, you will aid us to carry with glare in the midst of the savage tribes of New Caledonia the torch of civilization. Is it not a beautiful and noble mission to which I call you? You will fulfill it worthily.
Listen to the voice and counsels of your leaders. I am at their head. Let my words be well understood.
The choice of your commander of your officers, of your under officers and corporals, is a sure guaranty of all the efforts which will be put forth to make of you excellent soldiers. I say more, to elevate you to the height of good citizens, and to transform you into honorable colonists, if you but desire it.
Your discipline is strict; it has to be so. Placed in our hands it will be firm and inflexible - you know it well – but also just and paternal. It shall know how to discover all error, vice, and degradation.
Here then are men expelled for their bad conduct from a civilized country, and sent for punishment among barbaric people. What says the chief to them? – “You have broken the laws of your country - you have caused trouble and scandal, and they have exiled you from it. They sent you here; but you can retrieve your past. You can by labor create for yourselves here an honorable position, and become honest citizens. You have a beautiful mission to fulfill here - that of carrying civilization among these savage tribes. The discipline will be severe but just; and we shall know how to distinguish those who will conduct themselves well. Your destiny is in your own hands; you can improve it if you so desire, for you have your free will.”
For these men thus thrown upon the bosom of barbarism, is not the mother country a paradise lost to them by their rebellion against its laws? In this distant land are they not fallen angels? The language of the chief, is it not that which God makes spirits exiled upon the Earth to hear? You have disobeyed my laws; and it is for that offence that I have banished you from a world in which you could live happily and in peace. Here you will be condemned to work; but you will be able by your good conduct to merit your pardon, and re-enter the country you have forfeited by your sin – i.e., heaven.