August 6 - 12, 2017: Issue 324
Patrick Edward Quinn
January 1st, 1862 – April 2nd, 1926
"For what reason do the tall pine and the white poplar love to associate their branches in a hospitable shade?" was the question put by one of old who knew how to enjoy the good things of life to his friend Dellius. To the epicurean no verbal answer was necessary. The friendly trees made this grateful shade so that he might lie upon it in remoto gramine per dies festos and drink the good Falernian. This is the true way to look at life, as only the men of a fairer day knew it. For them-true beauty worshippers - the sea danced and laughed in the sunlight, the fleecy clouds were blown across the clear blue of those astounding skies, and the winds made a pleasant susurrus in the deep woods, and the birds sang, and the bees made sleepy music and sweet store of honey : for them the cataract roared, the grass grew and the violet crept across it, and the whole world lightened on its way simply to add to their pleasure. And all the wisdom garnered since by this wise old world shows that they were, in this right, by reason of philosophy, as simpler people were by intuition, who did the same. The other day I had an opportunity of spending a few dies festi on one of the many arms of Broken Bay.
To those who have not journeyed to Pittwater it is, perhaps, necessary to say that the route via Manly Beach is the most convenient way of reaching it. When the passenger arrives at Manly the Pittwater coach awaits him, and a drive of an hour and a half will land him at his destination. If the weather is gray and cold the trip should not be at- tempted. To be seen at its best Pittwater should seen in sunlight . There are several houses of accommodation about which offer the traveller all the necessary comforts. For my part I put up at the house of a friend who has one of the loveliest spots on the coast. Part of his land forms a peninsula, with deep, rich soil, in which the fig, the lemon, the orange, the olive, and the vine flourish to full perfection. There was at one time some excellent timber growing along the Pittwater road, tall, straight, sound, close-growing trees, which have for the most part disappeared under the woodman's axe within the last five years. This is a pity, but perhaps it could not be otherwise. The forest was too close to Sydney to escape the attention of wood merchants. There is still, however, quite sufficient native woodland to give the proper rustic air to these regions. How long this will be so under our present reckless system of forest destruction it is impossible to say, but those at least who own mighty tracts of virgin land along this road should endeavour to protect the native growths as far as possible from annihilation. We will regret our apathy in the matter of preserving our woods some day, when it is too late, perhaps, as the Herald has often pointed out, for anything but regrets.
Enlargement of section from - New South Wales. Department of Lands. Parish of Narrabeen, County of Cumberland [cartographic material] : Metropolitan Land District, Eastern Division N.S.W. circa1886. MAP G8971.G46, courtesy National Library of Australia.
Something at least may be said in favour of the sense of beauty of the inhabitants of this district. Along the road every now and then the traveller may catch a glimpse of the graceful aspiring crown of tall, slender cabbage palms, which have been spared by the ruthless hands which have destroyed so much besides that was beautiful. Two or three handsome growths stand like sentinels on either side of the road, though the army which they guarded has long since faded away - ended in smoke probably. The cabbage tree splits easily into light serviceable planks, and this made it much sought after for the gunyah of the early settler. When dry it burns like tinder, and these two fatal qualities have been its ruin. A few, as I have said, still remain. One magnificent specimen, standing back some distance from the road, must be from 80 to 100ft in height, and with its plumy head and symmetrical trunk visible among the amorphous forest shapes about it, is full of graceful tropic suggestiveness. There are one or two other species of dwarf palms scattered about, which have failed to attract the attention of "flower show" prospectors - a class of people whose ruthless hunt after specimens is responsible for a large proportion of the destruction which has visited our most ornamental native plants.
The road traverses the Narrabeen lagoon, an imposing marine "billabong," such as our coast has several notable examples of. These are connected with the sea, either by a shallow channel with a sand-bar across it, or as in the case of the Narrabeen lagoon and that of Curl Curl nearer Manly, are severed from the sea, by a sandbank, which, however, offers no impediment to the influx of the sea under the influence of a spring tide or a heavy easterly wind. These are the true nursing grounds of our young fish. Within those charmed waters the shark may not enter to disturb their peaceful inhabitants. By reason of the clear sand bottom they are beloved of the sole, the sand-flathead, the whiting, and the sand mullet which reproduce in the tender complexions of their bodies something of the transparency of the waters and the whiteness of the sand. Consequently the Narrabeen is a favourite resort of camping parties, which, rumour hath it, have never yet gone unrewarded from its shores.
There is a pretty legend about the name of this lagoon, which it is said was first born by the dusky daughter of a lord of the soil and a chief of his people. This chief had planned it in his black head to destroy a party of white men located at this spot; but Narrabeen flew to Manly and informed the authorities, bringing back help in time to rescue the party. This pretty legend does not state that Narrabeen was in love with one of the white men, but surely this must have been. What became of Narrabeen is not stated, but knowing the character of some of the early settlers, and the manner in which the blacks were treated, it unquestionably could not have been ill for her if she found an early grave in the clear water of the shining sheet which bears, and shall always bear, her name.
Narrabeen Crossing. Image No.: a106063h From Scenes of Narrabeen album, ca. 1900-1927 Sydney & Ashfield : Broadhurst Post Card, courtesy State Library of NSW.
Across the lagoon in a direction different from that taken by the road the telegraph line takes a short cut, passing the water in a few giant strides. Not very long ago the coaches had to pass through the water too, and this must have conduced to many a good ducking suffered by the traveller of the past. On some of the lagoons, which are plentiful along this road, the black swans congregate at certain seasons, probably when the hot breath of the drought has made them fearful that the inland waters were about to forsake them altogether, as Lake Albert and other extensive sheets of water actually do in a season of prolonged dry weather. From time to time, from an elevation over which the road passes, the traveller catches a view of the coast as far as the famous headland of Barranjoey. Bluff after bluff fronts the sea in curious and beautiful regularity, now calm and clear in contour as the cuttings in a cameo, now veiled in a light blue mist, which bestows harmony and tone on the scene, and whose impermanent curtain every breath of sea-borne air momentarily dissipates. On a bright, clear day this view, which may be obtained from the hill lying between Fairy Bower and Manly Beach, is superb. But our two stout horses stay not for the picturesque, and we soon arrive at Pittwater, an arm, as every one knows, of Broken Bay.
This latter inlet is for once well named. Equally happy is the title bestowed on Lion Island, that grim image of stone rudely shaped by Nature to keep perpetual watch and ward over the picturesque waters within, and appropriately gazing over the ocean, from which the white sails and black smoke of the enemy of our long tranquility are some day to spring. According to General Schaw the defence of Sydney will be incomplete until Broken Bay is strongly fortified. Was it to emphasise the weakness of the place that this Titanic lion was placed in frowning strength immovable in the war of winds and the whirl of waters? Absit omen. It may yet be renowned in history ; it surely will in romance. What significance could be drawn from its apparently meaningless symbolism Hawthorn has shown us in the " Great Stone Face." To the majority of the world, however, this rock is like the rock in the desert from which the Israelitish leader smote the living water. We poor exiles might touch it with our little wands for years, and all in vain, until the due hierophant comes along and strikes it with his sacred force, when, behold, a spring of glittering song or sparkling prose gushes out which we all rush to drink. And forevermore the spring is as much ours as his who caused its pure initial flow.
After a journey there is nothing more pleasant than the after-tea gathering about a glorious wood fire, sipping the mellow liquid that glimmers in polished glasses, while every head is dimly seen bulking through a nebulous halo of aromatic smoke. My host had Theosophistic tendencies, and before long the conversation turned on the doctrines of the esoteric Buddhists. It is curious that quite a number of intelligent young Australians appear to be opening their mouths to swallow this many-humped camel of the Orient. Men who scorn the faith which accepts the Christian miracles are willing to receive as truth the tremendous miracles of the Theosophist, and do this without any apparent sense of the incongruous. Theosophism, however, can only be a vogue. It will never lay hold of Western minds as it has fastened on the men of the East. It has its foundation in the mind and not in the heart, and consequently it is a system and not a religion. But it is curious to note that it is growing here - most curious to hear its strange esotoric doctrines discussed in the spirit of a disciple in this isolated cottage, with all about it the mild growth of Australian life. How near we are to primitive nature is evidenced by the presence of a little black lizard, which, attracted by the warmth, comes out of some secret hiding-place and creeps towards the strange and beautiful fire which lures it to its doom. Outside, the southern stars blaze in the lucent night with a brilliance undimmed by a day of smoke. The dark waters sleep beneath, tranquil and secret.
There is a philosophical foreigner inhabiting these regions whose wont it is to row out on the water in his boat and fill himself up with whisky. His last wilful acts are to set the sails of his boat and then lie down to sleep, letting his bark go whithersoever the winds of heaven list. For hours this fatalist drifts hither and thither before his boat is driven to land. It is a whimsical enjoyment truly, but one that instinctively commands respect. He in his boat and we on the shore are in much the same position, drifted hither and thither, willy nilly, by winds and currents known not of till our boats ground upon the shore. We talk about the insularity of the Englishman, while humanity itself is, and always has been, insular. When the first man gazed on the first stars ever beheld of human eyes, he probably imagined they were made for his delight. We know that of old it was firmly held that the sun was a satellite of the earth, and even now it is the common belief that the little spheroid on which we have our being is the control globe of a system as wide as God's own mind - the only planet upon which life is found. Those stars above most of us think are shining deserts made without a purpose, or, if for a purpose, for that of shedding an infinitesimal ineffectual portion of their lustre on our inefficient eyes. All this springs from the inborn insularity of the race. In the end, when the whole scroll of creation is unrolled, as it may be, before our purged vision, how small a portion of it all this little earth of ours may prove to be. And yet, despite this possibility, how infinitely cock-sure mankind is, and always has been, about its own importance. It is a positive relief for one who perceives this weakness, and who probably shares it, to think that somewhere in a starless roadway of space, unnumbered millions of leagues away, a huge comet may even now be on his way to batter the earth and its egotistic inhabitants to dust, smiting one side of the globe before the inhabitants of the other are conscious of its dread appearance in the sky. Would such a planetary catastrophe cause a single quiver in the nerves of the universe ? And yet there are those who believe that earth is the universe. We may be sure that the philosophic foreigner aforesaid is not one of these, but has a due conception of the helplessness of the race of which he is a distinguished atom. It is this Universe itself which the modest theosophist wishes to make the stool of a foot which must wear boots, and is liable to corns - the elongated degenerated hand, perhaps, of the tertiary troglodyte.
Right: Head of Lovett Bay - from Photographs - New South Wales, 1879 - ca. 1892 / N.S.W. Government Printer. Image No.: 294068h, courtesy State Library of NSW.
In the cool early morning I took a stroll through the garden and orchard surrounding the house, on whose trees late oranges and lemons of unusual excellence were still pendant. Down by the waterside were millions of oysters, whose careless profusion suggested a flouted industry. A well-worn path under giant gums and sassafras trees led to a noted part of the grounds. Here was a waterfall tumbling fifty foot in smoke-like spray. The whole face of the cliff which was watered by the spray was covered with clinging plants, ferns, and funny looking creepers. About this spot the vegetation was as beautiful and luxuriant as I ever remember having seen it in the mountains. There were fern trees, as tall as the stateliest in the mountain gullies. Bangaloes of magnificent size, and 40ft, upon the trunk of a glorious blue gum there was a mass of Staghorn ferns as big as small cottage. From the trees the rope-like Supple jack descended, and the bushes about fairly blazed with blossoms. So thick was the growth that it was impossible to force a way through it. A fairer spot there is not on the coast anywhere in the vicinity of Sydney.
A huge Government reserve runs, back from the shores of Pittwater to Gordon, and this also was unusually brilliant with all kinds of our beautiful, barbarously-named bush flowers. Tearing through this vegetation was splendid work, if somewhat trying to the clothes; and on reaching the elevated ground overlooking Cowan Creek: the guerdon was well worth the pleasant travail. Hundreds of feet below, blue as turquoise, Cowan Creek nestled in dark green environing hills. It is sea-blue in colour as well it might be, for it is an eccentric arm of the sea, which winds its way far into the bowels of the, land, being, in fact, the longest arm of Broken Bay. Anyone, however, would mistake it for a fresh-water river. On those breezy heights the draughts of fresh air to be inhaled are delicious. Over miles of eucalyptus leaves a deep balsamic gale rushes up charged with the health-giving qualities that the old settlers found so soon in the eucalyptus woods. After a long and arduous climb, of several hours I found almost instant recuperation in this elevated air, interfused with forest perfumes. It would be hard to be sick under the influence of this " balsam of the forest". A medical friend informed me that he got rid of an unusually persistent cough of many months duration by going to the mountains and chewing the young eucalyptus leaves every day. The virtues of the "gum-tree " are not unrecognised, but are not all known yet, and its place in medicine is, perhaps, destined to be one of great importance.
Topham - Yeomans Bay, from NSW State Library Album - Photographs - New South Wales, 1879 - ca. 1892 / N.S.W. Government Printer. Image No.: a924070h, courtesy State Library of NSW
On the rock beneath my feet were some curious drawings. A glance revealed them to be specimens of the initial artistic efforts of the Australian aboriginal. There were two figures - a bird and a fish - clumsy enough in all faith, but not without a close resemblance to the living originals. Some day they will have a deep interest to Australians, as relics of the old inhabitants and their totemistic religion. Beside the art glories of perfect Greece, how poor they are; and yet, as mythologists tell us, many of the religious rites and legends of the ... Australian blackfellow have their counter- parts in Greek myth. Truly, there is nothing new under the sun, and man is always man. The same instinct which moved the chisel of Phidias and the pencil of Apelles directed the pointed flint of the dusky artist of these rude rock sculptures.
As the setting sun fires splintering crag and bush-grown hill, and flings a purple glow over far inflowing waters, the birds twitter in one choral burst of song, and then grow still; and all the voices of Nature but one are still. The mists troop forth from their hiding-places and sit on the vacant thrones of the sunlight, and a dull insistent moaning down the bay tells us that the sea's sleep is disturbed by dreams of coming storm. The dawn sees us once more on our way to the "big smoke."
A RUN TO PITTWATER. (1889, September 21). The Sydney Morning Herald (NSW : 1842 - 1954), p. 7. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article13739295
That inner voice you listen to when researching Pittwater history inkles the friend Mr. Quinn visited may have been Artist and renowned Singer Arturo Steffani / Arthur Steven who had a property at Rocky Point where apparently many Artist and Literary friends were entertained. Visit: A Historic Catalogue And Record Of Pittwater Art I – Of Places, Peoples And The Development Of Australian Art And Artists: Artists and Artists Colonies - or any of these gentleman:
....This road ends at Church Point, a lovely spot commanding a view of Pittwater the town and hotel of Newport at the head of Navigation, Broken Bay, and Barrenjoey directly in front; Scotland Island and Towler's Bay right across the water, with the long and deep arm known as McCarr's Creek on the left. On the Towler's Bay side there are several residents who pull across the water to the wharf at Church Point and meet the steamer from Sydney or the coach from Manly, as the case may be. The dynamite powder hulk is moored in Towler's Bay, with residences on shore for the officers in charge. Mr. Robert Robinson has his residence of Raamah at the same place. Mr. Robinson informs me that he can grow to perfection such tropical fruits as bananas, guavas, ginger, mangoes, pineapples, Brazilian cherries, &c. This fact will demonstrate that there can be little or no frost in this locality. Other residents of this side of the bay are Mr. F. Chave, Woodlands, who has a very nice orchard, mostly summer fruit ; Mr. E. C. Johnstone, who has a nice residence and orchard; Mr. A. Steffani is another prominent resident, while the residence of the firm of Flood and Oately occupies a lovely peninsula in the quiet waters of the bay. Mr. Geo. Brown has a residence and an orchard in the neighborhood, and there is also a small church and cemetery at Church Point. Manly to Broken Bay. ... (1893, November 11). Australian Town and Country Journal (NSW : 1870 - 1907), p. 19. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article71191632
Mr. P. E. (Patrick Edward) Quinn, the member for the Bligh (a part of the old East Sydney electorate), is a native of Sydney. At the age of four he was sent to the Catholic Denominational School of St. John's, Kent-street. Later he had the advantage of the training afforded by other city schools. At 14 he secured a junior position in the Civil Service, but being ambitious to make a mark in a learned profession, resigned from the Service and studied under the late Mr. Sheridan Moore, and subsequently under Mr. Frank Butler, B.A., with the view of qualifying for the legal profession. Meanwhile he became a contributor to the FREEMAN’S Journal and the Bulletin, and at 19 edited the Namoi Independent (Gunnedah). A few months later he controlled the Maitland Mail. Returning to Sydney, the young journalist lectured on literary subjects. He also displayed power as a political speaker. Having given up legal aspirations, Mr. Quinn devoted himself entirely to press work. For 15 or 16 years he has been an occasional contributor for leading articles, reviews, and poems to the Freeman's Journal. A few years ago Mr. Quinn wrote a series of excellent articles under the pen-name of ‘Viator' for the S. M Herald. His hand has also appeared in the Herald's editorial columns. While contributing to numerous papers, including the Star, Mr. Quinn found time to write a variety of short stories, a collection of which will shortly appear in book form. He is the author of 'The Jewelled Belt,' an interesting detective study. Mr. Quinn has not yet published a volume of verse, but he is responsible for the libretto of the ' Captain Cook' cantata, set to music by Mr. J. A. Delany, and rendered with conspicuous success on several occasions by the Sydney Fiedertafel. In various debating societies of his earlier days, Mr. Quinn was a prominent member and effective speaker.THREE NEW MEMBERS. (1898, August 20). Freeman's Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1850 - 1932), p. 17. Retrieved from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article115388842
Patrick Edward Quinn was the brother of Roderic Joseph Quinn, a celebrated Australian and Sydney poet. A member of the Dawn and Dusk Club of the late 1890s. P E Quinn also wrote poetry, as did another brother. He was buried at Manly Cemetry. Daughter Marjorie also became a poet of some renown and one of the champions of women's literature in Sydney. A book of his brother's poems is below. More on his daughter Marjorie HERE.
The Dawn and Dusk club was formed around 1880 in Sydney, Australia by poet Victor Daley. Foundation members of 'the Duskers', a small and exclusive group of friends were Daley, Fred J. Broomfield, James Philp, Herbert Low (journalist), William Bede Melville (a reporter for the Sydney newspaper, The Star),Angus Sinclair (writer), Bertram Stevens and Randolph Bedford.
The club sometimes met at Broomfield's home on the corner of Ice Road and Great Barcom Street, Darlinghurst, near St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney about September, 1898. Daley was elected 'Symposiarch' of the Duskers and the seven 'heptarchs' were Lawson, Stevens, Nelson Illingworth, Frank P. Mahony, George Augustine Taylor, Con Lindsay (journalist), and Philp, who drafted the rules. Artist Norman Lindsay was also a member. Truthmagazine publisher John Norton called them "a band of boozy, bar-bumming bards", but that's possibly because he had a little poet envy and regularly attacked others through the publication he was Editor as his sole means to have his name beside theirs.