Retta Dixon's speech, "Jimmy Governor, Chief of Sinners"
Permission to publish the speech on this blog has been granted by the copyright holder, the Long family, in 2012. Not to be re-published elsewhere without the permission of the Long family.


   There is a fountain-filled with blood,
   Drawn from Immanuel's veins,
   And sinners plunged beneath that flood,
   Lose all their guilty stains.

It was interesting to note the effect upon the Aborignes of the murders and subsequent career of Jimmy Governor and his associates. We were in trouble here at the time. The people were in an angry frame of mind. I had found it necessary to cross their will and do the right, whatever the consequences might be. While they were vowing vengeance upon me, and threatening dreadful reprisals, the news of the murder came.

The blacks were simply horrified. To think some of their race would kill white women! They had always declared that no black-fellow would harm a white woman, though often their language savoured of the same possibility. I myself was dumbfounded. I had always contended, when my friends feared for me travelling so much alone with blacks, that ho blackfellow would ever touch me; they respected a white woman so highly. They have sent me messages from the wild tribes, "Come to us. If a man comes we will kill him, but a white woman we will respect and love. They have always treated me in such a way that I have had no reason to doubt their sincerity. But such an outburst showed at least the possibilities of their Adamic natures, and cast me more than ever upon God in the Hollow of Whose hand I am safe.

The Aborigines were very much ashamed of the three murderers, declaring from the beginning that there must be some cause and a serious one for such deeds.

Then during the weeks that followed, many of them boasted of the cleverness of their race. There now! as some fresh account of eluding the pursuers came to hand, "that will show you how clever the blacks are, cleverer than the white people a lot." But the Christians prayed night and day for the outlaws, that they might be caught ere they committed more sin, that God would stop them in their mad career.

I was away resting when their prayers were answered. Then came letters of entreaty, asking me to come home and take the Gospel message to Jimmy. One little boy about 12 years old wrote as follows:

   Dear Miss Dixon,
   Poor Jimmy Governor is caught at last, and he will be hung. Do come home quick and tell him about Jesus
   and save him so that we'll meet him in the glory land."

Then there came into my heart more than ever a burning desire to get home and carry out their request and I prayed God to open the way. Ever since that awful 20th.July I had been longing to get in touch with these men, regretting that I have not been up their part of the country with the glad tidings of salvation.

After Jimmy was condemned to death I decided to make every effort to see him. I applied in person and by letter to several authorities many times to gain permission to visit Aboriginal prisoners, but with no results. The last reply I had was to the effect that the matter would be put to the chaplain of the gaol and I would be advised as to the results, but I heard nothing further.

I did not know what to do, so I went to Him who never fails and asked for wisdom and guidance. Like a flash the thought came as I was on my knees, "Write to the Church of England chaplain yourself". I rose and wrote at once to him, although I did not even know his name. He replied and said he would send my application to the right quarter. A day or two later I received another letter from him asking me to come to the gaol, as on his recommendation I could see Jimmy Governor. Thanksgiving with tears rose from our Aboriginal prayer meetings.

On Monday December 17th. I entered for the first time the condemned cell. From the time I knew for a certainty, on the Friday, that my request was granted I was seized with a great trembling. The responsibility seemed so great, I wondered what I should say, and the Lord said, I will be with thy mouth" and "I will strengthen thee" - "I have chosen thee". With such promises as these He graciously met me. My people on the Mission Station prayed very earnestly for me and the Lord gave me assurance and confidence in His promise.

I left early on the Monday, not knowing the enormity of the undertaking, thinking that I would be allowed to visit the prisoner once a week. Canon Rich, the Church of England Chaplain, won my heart [crossed out] admiration at once - a dear old man, absorbed in his arduous work, visiting the prisoners day after day. Quiet, Christianlike work indeed, and the more I saw of him the more I admired him.

He asked me how often I could see Jimmy. I asked, "How often would you like me to come?" "Every day", he answered. "But," I said, "I have my La Perouse work. I could not leave that." "This is a most important work", he said. "Think over it".

I did so, and prayed about it too and consulted the President of our Mission, then came and put the matter before the Aborigines, as I would have to be so much with them. Only a few days previously they had said, "Don't go away from us, not for one day, for we'll not be long together now." So I told them what the Lord wanted me to do, of the open door, and with tears and prayers, they said "Go! we'll do the best we can and pray for you all the time."