Lieutenant Marshall Goes Mad
Now to our story. The ship "Earl Cornwallis" anchored in Port Jackson on June 12, 1801. On board was Lieutenant
Marshall. On the way out Lieutenant Crawford was drowned, and Marshall appropriated some of his effects, including
a gun. This coming to the ears of the officers of the N.S.W. corps, through their commanding officer (Captain
Macarthur), it was reported to the Governor. Marshall thereupon received a reprimand. A few days later he met
Macarthur on the parade-ground, and during an altercation called that gentleman a liar. Macarthur called upon his
friend Captain Abbott, and despatched him to Marshall with a challenge to a duel. The captain found his man at
Isaac Nichol's house and delivered the challenge. The only second Marshall could find was Mr. Jeffries, supercargo
of the "Earl Cornwallis," and Abbott refused to meet him on the grounds that in a duel seconds must be of
The duel never eventuated, but the incident slid not end here. The next day, July 23, Adjutant Minchin, standing
on the roadway opposite the Orphan School, saw Marshall pass by with a huge blugdeon in his hand, the size of
which, and Marshall's appearance, induced Minchin to watch him. Marshall, when he came opposite Bridge street,
looked down that street, and when he saw Captain Abbott with a friend coming up the hill, advanced to meet that
officer. When he came opposite to them he stopped and attempted to enter into a conversation with Abbott. The
latter refused to have anything to say to the lieutenant, whereupon Marshall called him a damned scoundrel, and
struck him a violent blow with the bludgeon--such a blow that, Abbott maintained, if it had struck his head, where
it was intended, would have killed him.
The unfortunate captain retreated, and Marshall followed with his stick uplifted; but the captain called to the
sentry at the Lieutenant-Governor's house for assistance, and he interposed and prevented any further assault. With
the threat that he would serve Captain Macarthur in the same way, Lieutenant Marshall stalked away in the direction
of Hunter street. Captain Abbott was unarmed at the time of the assault. He was, moreover, a small man, and the
club was of such a size that he could scarcely lift it from the ground. Marshall, not satisfied with one victim, or
probably with his appetite for revenge whetted, sought out what he intended to be the second victim. But he was to
meet a man of different calibre from Abbott; a man who was game to the last ounce, and our truculent lieutenant met
An hour or two later Macarthur, in company with Adjutant Minchin, came out of the Lieutenant-Governor's house
and walked along George street towards the Cove (i.e., across the foot of Grosvenor street). They turned, however,
and walked back in the opposite direction. As they did so, Lieutenant Marshall came down the Grosvenor street hill,
passed the church steeple, the Provost-Marshal's house, crossed the bridge, and appeared to be making for the Cove;
but when he espied Macarthur, Marshall turned round and walked towards him. He was carrying his club, which he held
carelessly in his hand until he arrived opposite the verandah of the Lieutenant-Governor's house, when he threw it
over his left shoulder, and advanced on Macarthur with the evident intention of treating that gentleman to a taste
of it. It was not a small unarmed Abbott facing him this time, however, but an extremely capable gentleman with a
sword in his hand and every intention of using it.
"If you offer to strike me as you have Captain Abbott I will run you through the body," said Macarthur.
Marshall was only three or four paces distant, and the sight of the sword and the determined eyes behind it
knocked all the truculence out of him. He dropped the bludgeon from his shoulder and said: "You will not run me
through now, will you?"
Macarthur did not use his sword, but called the sentry to take charge of the lieutenant; and, escorted by a file of
men, he was taken to the guardhouse.
Marshall was subsequently brought to trial before a court-martial, and I would that I had space to quote
Macarthur's adiress before that body. A sentence must suffice as a flavour. "It is true," he said, "I was armed
with a sword to oppose him (a weapon as appropriate to me, as an officer, as a bludgeon was to him as a ruffian),
but what could a sword have prevailed in my defence if this monstrous mass of matter, this second Goliath, had been
animated with one spark of spirit, with one atom of courage?" "Monstrous mass of matter" is distinctly good.