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Guide For the Term of His Natural Life (Nonsuch Classics)

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This is an Australian classic, a tale of inhumanity and su Unfortunately, publisher restrictions limit this title's availability to school and public library account customers only. Forced to conceal his identity and forego his inheritance, Rufus Dawes is unjustly implicated in his father's murder, convicted of theft and sentenced to be transported to Australia, where he encounters the brutality of the penal system.

First published as a serial in the Australian Journal between and and in a revised, shortened form as a novel in , For the Term of his Natural Life is an Australian classic, a tale of inhumanity and suffering during Australia's early colonial history.

For the Term of His Natural Life - Wikipedia

Marcus Clarke , the author of For the Term of his Natural Life, was born in England and emigrated to Australia in , working on a sheep station before becoming a journalist and, later, an editor. The pilot and the wounded man die shortly afterwards. One night, a man reaches their makeshift camp.

It is Rufus Dawes, who has managed to swim to the settlement only to find it deserted.

For the Term Of His Natural Life

Although initially wary of him, the little community soon accepts Dawes, especially since he knows all kinds of ways to make their life more agreeable. Sylvia takes to him and Dawes soon does everything to please her, despite Frere's jealous attempts to win Sylvia's affection. It is also Dawes, who, after Sylvia mentioned the coracles of the Ancient Britons, plans and succeeds in building a boat out of saplings and goat hide. Although Frere promises Dawes a pardon, he nevertheless does not stop treating him like an inferior, at one point upsetting Dawes so much that he considers leaving on his own.

Only Sylvia's writing in the sand, "Good Mr. Through a hazard, Frere tells Dawes of the fate of his cousin and how narrowly he missed inheriting the Devine fortune. Dawes had not known about Sir Richard's death. Finally, they set to sea with Mrs. Vickers gravely ill and Sylvia soon also sick. After some time they are found by an American vessel at which point Frere takes the rudder of the boat and Sylvia in his arms.


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By , in Port Arthur , Mrs. Sylvia has lost all her memories of the incident at Macquarie Harbour and knows only what she has been told about it. She is now a young woman of sixteen and engaged to Captain Maurice Frere, who has told the story of the mutiny in his own way: News arrives that the surviving mutineers of the Osprey have been captured and are to be tried at Port Arthur. Sarah Purfoy calls on Frere and begs him to speak in Rex's favour, saying that he left them food and tools. She threatens to expose Frere's previous affairs to Sylvia.

Frere consents to her demands. Rufus Dawes is also brought down from Hobart to identify the captured men. At the trial, he sees Sylvia again and realises that she is alive: He tries to speak his case but is not allowed to. The mutineers get away with life sentences. Dawes escapes to see Sylvia again and begs her to speak, but in her amnesia she is afraid of him and calls for help. Dawes, too thunderstruck to leave, is immediately recaptured and sent back to Hobart. There, he meets the Reverend James North, a drunkard, whose failure to get up in time after a drinking night results in the death of a convict at the triangle, whom North had sworn to protect.

For the Term of His Natural Life: Nonsuch Classics

Dawes is ordered to carry out the flogging and upon eventually refusing is flogged himself. Despite Dawes' initial hate for the man he considers to be a hypocrite, he is moved by North's begging for forgiveness and calling him "brother". The next time he asks to see the chaplain he finds that North, an enemy to the bishop for his impious vices, has been replaced by Meekin, a dainty man, who lectures him on his sins rather than attempting to console him.

John Rex seeks Dawes and tries to persuade him to join him in an escape, organised by Sarah Purfoy. Through luck, Rex starts talking about the Devines and about how he was once employed to find news of their son. Dawes, appalled, asks if he would still recognise the man and Rex understands all of Dawes' story.

When shortly afterward a warder confuses them both, commenting on how much they look alike, Rex hatches another plan. A few days later, Rex and another group of eight, led by Gabbett and Vetch, escape. It soon becomes apparent that Rex used the other men only as decoys. They get hopelessly lost in the bush and start eating one another, leaving only Gabbett and Vetch to struggle for not being the first to fall asleep. Later, Gabbett is found on a beach by the crew of a whaling vessel, with the half-eaten arm of one of his comrades hanging out of his swag.

This part is based on a true story, that of Alexander Pearce. Rex reaches Sydney and, soon becoming weary of Sarah, escaping her to go to London , where he presents himself as Richard Devine. Lady Ellinor accepts him as her son. Shortly afterward, Captain Frere becomes Commandant of the Island, resolved to enforce discipline there. North, appalled at the horrible punishments inflicted but not really daring to interfere, renews his friendship with Dawes and also takes to Sylvia. Her marriage is an unhappy one.

Frere has grown weary of his wife over the years and Sylvia married him only because she believed that she owed love to the man who allegedly saved her life. Dawes has also been on the Island for five years and again becomes Frere's target.


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Frere is resolved to break his opponent's spirit and finally succeeds after inflicting punishment upon punishment on him for several weeks. Sign In Register Help Cart.

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It is the best known novelisation of life as a convict in early Australian history. Described as a "ripping yarn", and at times relying on seemingly implausible coincidences, the story follows the fortunes of Rufus Dawes, a young man transported for a murder which he did not commit.

Log-in or create an account first! Richard Bentley and Son, A very important novelisation of the harsh conditions of the life of a convict, Rufus Dawes, transported to Australia for a crime he did not commit. Newspaper account from "Millbank Penitentiary or Prison" pasted into endpapers and flyleaves of front endpapers. Ships with Tracking Number! Buy with confidence, excellent customer service! One of copies only unnumbered as usual , signed by the artist; and also signed by the artist and Stephanie Claire on title-page.

Very good copy and complete in the slip-case. Buy with confidence from one of Australia's oldest bookshops established in Hail Gate of Paradise. Translated and metricised from the Latin into English by Burragorang, David Little, Typed and roneoed by Dorothy Jensen. Limited edition, one of copies only.