Retta Dixon's speech, Jimmy Governor - Chief of Sinners, is published on this blog with the permission of the copyright holder, the Long family. Not to be republished elsewhere without the permission of the Long family.

... So every day, morning and afternoon, with the exception of Sunday, I visited him all the ti [crossed out] for nearly five weeks, leaving La Perouse on Monday morning and returning on Saturday evening.

I cannot describe my feelings as I passed along the corridor with the chief officer of the wing and the Chaplain. My knees smote together as I entered the cell. Jimmy G [started a new paragraph instead].

Jimmy Governor, a fine loo[k]ing blackfellow about 5ft.8 ins. in height came forward and put his hand through the bars to shake hands with me, saying, "Good afternoon, Miss Dixon. I am glad to see you." The queer feeling left me at once, and until the last day I felt quite at home with him. He sat down in front of me and chatted to me, two officers sitting with us also. Oh! how I had prayed for a special anointing, so I just opened my mouth and He filled it.

My first message was about the cities of refuge in olden times for murderers and the Lord Jesus being the refuge now. On my second visit I tried to press home "Against thee only have I sinned," and told of David's sin and repentance and spoke of the words,"Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Punishment here but through Jesus no condemnation hereafter.

Jimmy told me that he was a good man until the awful outburst; I told him that from the beginning God could not save good men. He came to call sinners not the righteous to repentance.

I left him on that first day the 51st.Psalm to read and marked it in his Bible. It afterwards became his favourite portion.

Day after day I waited upon God and agonised for his soul. Night after night I wrestled through the long hours. So deep was my agony that I wondered was it a little of the "fellowship of His suffering" of which I so often expressed myself as willing for, that "I might know HIM".

On my third visit Jimmy told me he had been informed of the date of his execution and complained of the long time to wait. I tried to point out to him the mercy of God in giving him such a long time to prepare and also that he was not shot and cut off without hearing the message of God's pardoning love. But he was hard and bitter. He was yet an unsaved soul, and understood not the mercy of God. Each day I gave him a verse, getting him to repeat it and asking him to learn it and make it his own.

On the fourth day I told him of Paul's conversion ['confession' written above this word] and of who Paul was before and after his conversion, and gave him as his daily verse, "This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief". I explained it and asked him to take up his position there.

I depended with all my soul upon the Word of God as "the Sword of the Spirit" and as the hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces, and believed that it would unerringly do its work.

On the fifth day the Governor of the wing of the gaol in which the condemned cell was situated, asked to see me on my arrival. He told me of an awful night they had had with Jimmy. He would keep no clothing on and was in an intolerable spirit and had threatened all and sundry. He was now sulking in his cell and he thought it unwise for me to see him. I told him I was not afraid and if they would let me see him I might be able to help them. He consented, but added another warder to the two who were always with me during the interviews.

When I entered the cell he was standing in the far corner with his face to the wall. I called him to me and at first he would not speak, and I called again and asked what had I done that he would not speak to me.

He then muttered, still with his back to me, "If you knew how bad I am, you'd never come near me, you'd never touch me."

My hear, tho' distressed at his agony, leapt up in praise to God. I asked him again to come to me, for now there was pardon and hope for him. He came and sat down and broke up into tears and sobs, and between them said, "Oh Miss, I am the worst man that ever lived. I can see all my life before me. I've been wicked ever since I was born. God's mercy has spared me. I've been nearly killed lots of times. God's love is wonderful. I don't deserve it. If I'd been killed when the bullet went through my face, I'd have been in hell now. What I deserve! Oh, I'm too bad - I'm the worstest sinner ever lived", and he began to tell me all his sins.

I stopped him and asked him to get down on his knees and tell God what he had started to tell me. How long we were on our knees I do not know. When he had ceased sobbing and pouring out his heart I assured him of the forgiveness of God, through the death of His Son, Who bare all our sins in His own body on the tree. I repeated to him God's own promises of forgiveness, so wide and deep and all-embracing, and soon he could say

   "I the chief of sinners am,
   But Jesus died for me."

We arose ... Jimmy Governor a forgiven soul and I rejoicing with a heart leaping up in praise to the God of our Salvation. I read him then the Story of the Good Shepherd and the Safety of the Sheep. As I left him he said, "I don't want to go into the world again. I deserve to be hanged. I am ready."

The warder told me he sobbed again for a long time after I left him.

Continued on new page as RETTA DIXON'S JIMMY GOVERNOR SPEECH 3