March 5 - 11, 2017: Issue 303
Emile Theodore Argles
THE SOCIAL KALEIDOSCOPE.
No. 19. The Humours Of The Debtors' Prison. Section I.
It cannot be determined if this is Mr. Argles – it certainly reads like and sounds like him and would also show another connection to one of his inspirations or heroes on which as modeled so many of his inspirations and literary aspirations – Lord Byron - in taking on yet another pseudonym to be able to garner payment from another publisher as 'A Collingwood Spasmodic'. The piece speaks of Pittwater and the Hawkesbury, a trip clearly made by the group of poets and friends of which Argles, Daly were and may have been written by either or both of them together. Both certainly had friends in this part of Melbourne and could have sent the article south to the Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903).
The spasmodic poets was a group of British poets of the Victorian era. The term was coined by William Edmonstoune Aytoun with some derogatory as well as humorous intention. The epithet itself is attributed, by Thomas Carlyle, to Lord Byron. It has the 'tone' of both and came at a time when both were fathers and had extra mouths to feed. It is folowed by another, perhaps written by Argles alone, on the same subject, just as there is a similar article, of a similar trip at the same time in Mr. V. J. Daly's page.
REMINISCENCES OF A TRIP FROM SYDNEY UP THE HAWKESBURY RIVER.
BY A COLLINOGWOOD SPASMODIC.
HAVING, in a spasmodic moment, made up my mind to pay a visit to our elder sister colony, I left Howard Smith's wharf at about eleven p.m. Having on previous occasions inhaled the delicious fragrant odour from the various perfume manufactories that line the banks of our lovely Yarra I turned into my bunk and was soon soundly sleeping, only to be awoke by the grinding of the screw, I found we were safely landed on mudbank; all that could be was done to get the vessel backward or forward, and as it was no go, off I went to sleep again. The next time I woke it was daybreak, we were safely out of our beautiful, picturesque Yarra steaming down the bay en route for Sydney.
We entered Pork Jackson about seven o'clock, fifty-six hours after leaving Melbourne. After a good breakfast went to get a bath, shave, &c. The barber, a very gentlemanly man, a foreigner, was in no hurry, and as I was I told him so but it was of no use, like most of his profession, he had all the news to tell, and then asked me if I had ever known such weather for the time of year. I informed him as my experience of Sydney weather was rather limited, having only landed that morning, I could not say whether it was remarkable or not, but from what I had seen up to the present I could fully endorse what a friend had told me about Sydney people. He then wished to know what I had been told, I said my friend had been in Sydney about a month and had not seen one man in a hurry, so he made a resolve to stop the first man he saw in a hurry and make him a present to keep as a memento. About ten days after he saw a gentleman hurrying along and had to run to catch him, and touching him on the shoulder apologised for stopping him; told him he had been in Sydney six weeks and that he was the first Sydney gentleman he had seen in a hurry and begged him to accept something as a memento of the same, but to his surprise the gentleman said, "I beg your pardon, but I am from Victoria."
As I was leaving I could hear the barber say "You Victorians can blow, you are like wind-bags, like your gas balloons up in the air and down you come with a burst. Go up the Hawkesbury, go to Parramatta, Blue Mountains, Zig Zag, &c." And having heard so much of these I determined to visit them, so on Friday, the 19th May, having, previously made all arrangements I started with a party of friends to the far-famed Hawkesbury. We left Circular Quay about one o'clock, and after an hour's trip down one of the loveliest harbors, if not the most beautiful in the world, we arrived at Manly, where we found our three coaches in waiting to convey us to Pittwater. The township of Manly has a very good pier, and we saw some very fine schnapper being offered for sale at is. to 2s.-would cost in Melbourne 10s. to 14s. The road to Pittwater is much like our own bush roads with the exception that nearly all the way on the right is the Pacific Ocean and beautiful bays indenting the coast swarming with myriads of wild fowl. About six miles out of Manly we came upon a large steamship about twenty yards from the water. The coach driver told us she was the Coleroy from Newcastle, and the captain had such an idea of her sailing qualities he tried to take her overland to Sydney. We went on board, and the only living thing on board was a goat who gave us a hearty welcome in the shape of a baa It seems a pity that a fine noble vessel apparently quite sound, engines, masts, spars, &c., to all appearances quite strong and good, should be left to rot close to the native element.
Wreck of the S.S. Collaroy, 1881 / photographer unknown. State Library of NSW Image No: a1528938: A passenger steamer owned by the Australian Steam Navigation Company, built in 1853, went ashore on Collaroy Beach in 1881 and remained there for 2 years, giving her name to the stretch of sand and ocean. When refloated she went back into service plying between Sydney and the Hunter River. She was withdrawn from duty in 1886, converted to a schooner, sailed to San Francisco, where she again ran ashore and broke her back on the Californian Coast in 1889.
About two miles further on we came to the Narabeene Lake crossing place, it is about one mile in width and about 2 ft. or 2 ft. 6 in. deep where the coach passes through; after crossing the lake we came to some splendid rich country, at the left are some very steep hills about 600 ft. high, covered with luxuriant vegetation to the very tops. Long Reef is the next place we reach, and I am informed that the present family have been residing there fifty years; the house is beautifully situated upon a high hill, and the land has been evidently under cultivation as the furrows can very plainly be seen; we now enter upon bush roads similar to our Victorian roads, darkness came on and all scenery was invisible; in about half-an-hour the passengers called out lights ahead, and we shortly drove up to a good country hotel and in a very short time we were seated before a first-class dinner of duck and green peas with any amount of etceteras served up in a style that would have done credit to a Sydney restaurant. After having satisfied our hungry cravings we decided to have a look at the steamboat we were to make our excursion in on the following morning. We found her a very pretty little river steamer of about fifteen or twenty tons (the Pacific) and quite large enough to accommodate double the number of our party. One of the party had brought three fishing lines with him, and gave one to me and another to a Victorian friend, saying he would catch the first fish, I told him as he belonged to New South Wales he did not know how. We very soon had our lines in the water. Your spasmodic very soon got tired and lit his pipe, when a friend from Sydney asked me if I thought I could manage to fasten a fish on my line and slip it over the bulwarks into the water without any one seeing. I said yes, when he soon returned with a very fine fish he had got from a fishing boat, I drew my line up, had the hook in its gills, asking my friends if they could see a light down the river, while they were endeavouring to find the light I slipped the fish into the water, when to my disgust I found it would not sink, so I sang out I have got one and began splashing and shaking my line as none but a spasmodic fisherman could to try and drown my fish, all the party crying out well done Victoria, well done Collingwood. I then pulled it on deck and I had drowned it so much that he lay perfectly still. One of the gentleman volunteered to take it off the line, all the party gathered round to have a look at it, and a lady wanted to try the weight of it. She caught hold of it, and exclaimed, what a stiff fish, if I had not seen you pull him out of the water I should have thought he had been dead many hours."
You can bet I heard enough of the stiff fish for the next day or two. While they were still chaffing me about the stiff fish, I slipped my line in, got a bite, and sang out I have another. I was immediately asked if it was a stiff one. I tumbled it upon deck, when it began to stand on its head, twist my line around itself, and got my tackle into an awful mess. Soon after they each got a fine fish, but to our disappointment the rain began to come down, so we wound up our tackle and returned to the hotel.
Early to bed and early to rise, we turned at about 11.30 p.m;, but not to sleep. A strange bed prevented Mr. O. from falling into the arms of Morpheus. Mr. B.'s snoring chased the drowsy god from Mr. P.'s couch. Your spasmodic could not sleep through Mr. P.'s wanting me to go fishing, and the people in the next room could not sleep because of the laughing and talking in ours, so it was proposed to tell ghost stories, and your spasmodic had to tell the first one, so, without further ado, I started the "Ghost of the Bonehouse."
In the old town in which I was born there is an old church in which I was christened, called Warwick Church surrounded by a graveyard; on the one side there is a high brick wall, and on the other a row of yew trees. From the walk by the yew trees there is another that leads to the door in the side of the church, which opens into large vaults used for storing the bones that were from time to time dug up out of the graveyard. About three or four miles from the church there, stands a lonely public house which was once a favorite resort of highwaymen, poachers, and their ilk. Among the company, on a particular evening, was a man notorious for his fearless character, who accepted a wager that he would, for a pot of ale, enter the bonehouse without a light at the hour of midnight, when, as the poets, &c., say, that " graveyards yawn and restless spirits roam" and fetch from thence a skull. As the clock in the church tower struck twelve he turned the key in the door and entered the vaults; he had advanced about twenty paces when he observed a tall supernatural being, clothed in white carrying in its hand a small blue light, rise suddenly from the floor; he took one pace towards it when his foot struck against something; stooping down, he found he had arrived at the heap of skulls, he picked up one, and was about making off with it when he was arrested by a voice, truly horrible, in its unearthliness, exclaiming " that's mine;" he dropped the skull and picked up another, when the same voice~ exclaimed again " that's mine," but turning round he addressed the ghost, saying "its a darned lie, no man had e'er two heads, and I'm going to keep this and get my pot o' ale." If you do not believe the story I can show a you a photograph of the church. After that I remember no more till I heard a tremendous knocking, and being very dark, we called out " Who's there ?" and received answer " 5.30, breakfast on table, boat leaves in an hour."
We were soon seated at the breakfast table and found the fish we had caught, ham and eggs, coffee, &c., all smoking hot. After laying in a good foundation, we made tracks for the steamer. With whistle blowing, steam screaming, we were soon off down the Pittwater, a beautiful river with cottages scattered here and there along its banks. A very pretty little church stands prominently out, surrounded by tombstones, showing that people die even in such a beautiful place. At every fresh point exclamations of surprise arose at the splendour of the scenery.
We were now swiftly approaching the big river, when our attention was directed to an island called Elliote, which looks exactly like a crouching lion guarding the entrance. Just in the centre of the stream we now enter the wonderful river, an opening on our left we were told was Cowan's creek, leading to Lane Cove. Many years ago, before it was anticipated that this country could be anything else than a convict settlement, before the blue mountains had been crossed, or railways thought of, and when barristers and attorneys lived lovingly together in one wigwam, there resided not many miles from Windsor a wealthy settler. He had received a grant of land from the Government, and, as was usual in those days, had an assignment of men, and was allowed rations with them. He was a violent tempered man, but generally liked by his servants, being withal of a generous disposition. We will call him Thorpe, but that was not his name. About two years before the occurrences which I am about to relate there were in a merchant's office in the city of London two brothers named Judd, one of whom had just been married; the other, the younger, was very wild in his habits, and had contracted heavy gambling debts. One day a large sum of money was drawn from the firm's bankers by a cheque which proved to have been a forgery. A great commotion was made in the office, and on search being made, the money was found in the elder brother's desk. He protested his ignorance as to how it came there-it was useless. He was tried and convicted, and transported to Australia, and assigned to Mr. Thorpe. His broken-hearted wife realized what little property they had, and followed him to Sydney, where she managed to engage as servant to Mrs. Thorpe. Thus the husband and wife were living on the same farm. But though so near to each other, they were not living together, for the settler would not hear of the husband being in the house, and the truth must he told that Mrs. Thorpe liked being waited upon too well to allow her servant away from her much. So poor Judd had to live among the men at the huts, and saw but little of his wife. Mr. Thorpe had a younger brother, a settler higher up the river who, being a single man, was frequently a visitor at his elder brother's house. He took a great liking to little Mrs. Judd, and she, being of a happy disposition, and again near her husband, had settled herself down to her altered circumstances, and was again quite cheerful. Indeed, it must be confessed that she liked admiration, and was proud of the attentions of the handsome young settler. I am quite certain that she was true at heart to her unfortunate husband; but in a large establishment there are sure to be tale-bearers, and the exaggerated tales of stolen interviews met his ears almost every day. (To be continued.)
REMINISCENCES OF A TRIP (1882, July 8). Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59749954
REMINISCENCES OF A TRIP FROM SYDNEY UP THE HAWKESBURY RIVER.
By A Collingwood Spasmodic. (Concluded from our last.)
" He was a man of a mild, affectionate disposition, and was known among his rough fellow-workmen according to the fashion of those days, by a nick-name-"The Baby," he was called. His whole nature teemed now to change; the injustice of his sentence, and now the infidelity, as he thought, of his wife, maddened him; he became moody, and violent in his conduct towards her. They had a stormy interview one evening, and he was seen on the farm no more, and his wife disappeared with him. It was discovered soon after that 'the only boat the farm possessed had gone also--so it was clear that they had gone down the river. "After two days' delay a party of constables started to bring back the runaways. They searched for them up the bays and inlets for several days without success, and looked-vainly over the numerous islands with which the lower part of the river is studded, nor could they glean any tidings from the blacks, and were returning back again, giving up the search, when passing the mouth of Cowan Creek some faint smoke was observed behind the promontary I showed you. They pulled up to the spot, they saw Judd standing on some rocks with a gun leveled at them. He fired and missed; also at the same moment they fired at him; he fell shot right through the heart, and his wife rushed down from a hut they had built and fainted on his body. They buried him near where he fell; no tombstone marks the spot, but it is said that his ghost haunts the hill, and can be seen at certain times hovering over the place. "His wife was taken back to the farm and soon recovered under the kind treatment she received. She did not die then; oh, no! She married again a few years afterwards, and her descendants are numerous throughout the colony. She died about twenty years ago."
It would be a vain attempt were to try to describe the beauty and grandeur of the scenery we now pass through, it is past description; hills and mountains rise one above the other in almost endless succession, each one vieing with the other in picturesque grandeur and reaching farther than the eye can see, coming down to the water's edge and in some places rising perpendicularly out of the water to a great height, some of the summits could not be seen for the rain clouds. The vegetation appears to reach the very tops. Tropical plants of endless variety, from the darkest green to the lightest, from the palest yellow to the deepest orange, make the mountains like one vast changing panorama with here and there in the flats a fisherman's hut and gentlemen's residence perched like bird's nests in some favoured position among the hills. The islands and bays are almost innumerable, and sailing up the river it puzzled your spasmodic to tell which would be the right turning, for all the way there are as many different openings as there are days in the year, both to the right and to the left, and no one but the captain knows which is the right one, they all look alike and about the same width. We came across a beautiful little schooner that had put in through stress of weather; vessels of almost any size can run in at this place, and if it is blowing'a hurricane outside as soon as they are round the headland the water is as smooth as a millpond. The point we are now rounding is called Barranjoey, and rainbows appear in every direction with a splendid lunar. Just in front the tops of the mountains are almost invisible from the mist and rain coming down. Broken Bay is the next place of interest, and Broken Bay it is, it looks as if there was no road out of it; but on approaching two very high hills we perceive a very fine opening between them, which leads to a splendid reach of the river.
The next is Bar Island in the centre of a group, on which stands a very pretty little church, which, I am told, is well attended, worshippers going to church in boats. We now come to some orange groves and maize plantations, the yellow fruit looking very tempting. The country continues about the same to Wiseman's ferry, fifty miles from Newport, Wiseman's ferry is the crossing place from Newcastle. The hotel is situated halfway up the hill. A telegram having been sent to have a good dinner ready, we were not disappointed. In about a quarter of an hour a dinner as good as could be provided in any Melbourne hotel was on the table.
After dinner we began our explorations. The P.O. Telegraph Office has one of the longest stretch of wire I ever saw, the river being half-a mile wide at this point and the wire extending a long way up the mountains on the other side; the roads are cut in the side of the mountains, the work being performed by the early convicts. Wiseman's is one of the old convict settlements; there are the ruins of what was once a very nice freestone church built in the Gothic style, but the foundations gave way, the roof fell in, and all that now remains are the walls; under the church is a large vault with a barred door through which we looked and saw some stone coffins in a good state of preservation. At the back of the hotel is the continuation of the road, it is the same as on the other side of the river, cut through the mountains, and must have been a work of many years. Many are the tales told about the cruelties practiced upon the convicts during the making of the roads, some of which I will give you in my next. All the cattle from the Newcastle side have to swim across at this point.
We now reimbark, and there being no jetty the steamer is made fast to two trees, and a long plank reaches to the shore. The remainder of our journey of thirty-five miles to Sackville reach is more open country and looks of a very fertile character, the flats on both sides being studded with orange and lemon groves; also patches of maize; and about five o'clock we arrived at the end of our journey by water, after one of the most enjoyable trips our party ever experienced. At the landing-place a conveyance met us and drove as to Windsor, nine miles, thence to Sydney by rail, thirty-five miles, where we arrived at eleven o'clock, very tired but very much delighted with our journey. REMINISCENCES OF A TRIP (1882, July 15). Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903), p. 3. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article59749962
The spasmodic poets was a group of British poets of the Victorian era. The term was coined by William Edmonstoune Aytoun with some derogatory as well as humorous intention. The epithet itself is attributed, by Thomas Carlyle, to Lord Byron.
Spasmodic poets include George Gilfillan, the friend and inspiration of William McGonagall. Gilfillan worked for thirty years on his long poem Night, but he is best known for his encouragement of the young Spasmodics in his literary reviews written under the pseudonym Apollodorus. Others associated were Philip James Bailey,Richard Hengist Horne, Sydney Thompson Dobell, Alexander Smith, John Stanyan Bigg, Gerald Massey, John Westland Marston, and Ebenezer Jones.
The term "spasmodic" was also applied by contemporary reviewers to Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Aurora Leigh, Tennyson's Maud, Longfellow's Golden Legend, and the poetry of Arthur Hugh Clough. These poets are not generally included in the Spasmodic school by modern literary critics. Spasmodic poetry was extremely popular from the late-1840s through the 1850s when it abruptly fell out of fashion. William Edmondstoune Aytoun's parodic Firmilian: A Spasmodic Tragedy (1854) is credited with getting the verse of the Spasmodic school laughed down as bombast.
Spasmodic poetry frequently took the form of verse drama, the protagonist of which was often a poet. It was characterized by a number of features including lengthy introspective soliloquies by the protagonist, which led to the charge that the poetry was egotistical.
Another version - more likely to be Emile's than the one above, which is more alike Victor's
Our Pleasure Trip To The Hawkesbury.
Henry King Photographs, courtesy National Library of Australia and Pittwater Image Library Mona Vale, c. 1900-1910. Top: Bay view House, Newport NSW. Below: Pittwater from BayView House.