In this story of the bushrangers I do not pretend to have included the names of all those who have at various times been called bushrangers in Australia. That, as will be seen from what I have said in the earlier chapters, would be not merely impossible but useless. I believe, however, that I have collected some particulars about all those who succeeded in winning even a local notoriety, and I have also endeavoured to supply such personal characteristics of the leaders in the movement as may throw some light on the causes which induced them to "take to the bush." My principal object, however, has been to make the picture as complete as possible, so that the magnitude of the social evil which the Australians set themselves to cure may be realised; and it is generally believed in Australia that this cure has been so complete that bushranging will never again become epidemic.
The story is a terrible one. Some of the incidents related are no doubt revolting, but it is necessary that even these should be told to show how civilised man may be degraded by unjust and oppressive laws. We are all creatures of the educational influences to which we are subjected in our youth, and therefore it is unfair to blame the earlier bushrangers; because they were the products of the civilisation of their day, and were not themselves responsible. But sensational as the story is, its tendency is rather to depress than to exhilarate the reader, for the story is a sad one, in that it shows a deplorable waste of what under happier conditions might have been useful lives.