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4-179 (Text)

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author,male,Boake, Barcroft Henry Thomas,23 addressee,male
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Private Written
Private Correspondence
Niall, 1998
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4-179-plain.txt — 5 KB

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In my last letter I omitted to mention one or two things, so as I have lots of time now worse luck I may as well write you a few lines.
Besides I feel very lonely here a stranger in a far land and the time hangs very heavy. I am waiting till Leeds comes back to start a mob of cattle away we finished the last trip much sooner than was expected I don't expect he will be back till the end of the month - In regard to that affair of Reece's if you will procure me his address I will write. As you say, it is a matter that wants looking after, perhaps Higinbotham knows his whereabouts, but I am much mistaken in my knowledge of Reece if a letter will make him ante up - and most unfortunately I don't see that I have any claim in a legal point of view - of course if he were a man of honor there would be no difficulty but I am afraid Reece & honesty quarrelled long ago.  It is not a bit of use though crying over spilt milk - When I think of that miserable episode I feel as contemptible in my own eyes as you must have found me then - Only for that I would in all probability be in Sydney now it is strange how easily the current of our life is turned.
I don't think in Sydney I could have found the pleasure in life that exists for me here that is at times, oftener I feel sick of the whole thing and long for some other country and a more stirring life - There is a pleasure in a mad gallop, or in watching the dawn of day on a cattle camp - to see the beasts take shape and change from an indistinguishable mass of white & black into their natural colours - Or in the dead of night to find yourself alone with the cattle all the camp asleep perhaps only a red spark betokening the camp - I always (when I think of it) find something unearthly in this assemblage of huge animals ready at any moment to burst forth like a pent up torrent and equally irresistable in their force - when every beast is down, asleep or resting just pull up & listen, you will hear a low moaning sound rising to a roar then subsiding to a murmur like distant surf or as I fancy the cry of the damned in Dante's Inferno - when the cattle are like that it is a good sign - But in the moonlight this strange noise the dark mass of cattle with the occasional flash of an eye or a polished horn catching the light - it always conjures up strange fancies in me I seem to be in some other world - If I could only write it, there is a poem to be made out of the back country, some man will come yet who will be able to grasp the romance of Western Queensland and all that equally mysterious country in Central & Northern Australia, for there is a romance though a grim one a story of drought & flood, fever & famine murder & suicide; courage & endurance, and who reaps the benefit not the poor bushman, but Messrs. So & So merchants of Sydney or Melbourne, or the mutual consolidated cut-down-the drovers wages Co. Litd or some other capitalist, if you showed them the map half of them could not point out the position of their runs, all they know is that their cheques come in regularly from the buyers and if the expenses pass the limit they in their ignorance place, they sack the manager and get another easy enough.
Yes - I wonder if a day will come when these men will rise up, when the wealthy man perhaps renowned inside for his benevolence, shall see pass before him a band of men, all of whom died in his service & whose unhallowed graves dot his run - The greater portion hollow, shrunken, burning with the pangs of thirst others covered with the evil slime of the Diamantina Cooper and those far Western rivers - burnt unrecognisably in bush fires, struck down by sunstroke, ripped up by cattle, dashed against some tree by their horse - killed in a dozen different ways and what for? a few shillings a week and these are begrudged them; while their employer travels the continent and lives in all the luxury his wealth can command, they are sweating out their lives under a tragic sun on damper & beef - this is no exaggerated picture I can assure you - Marcus Clarke has grasped the meaning of Australia's Mountains & forests in his eloquent preface to Gordon's Poems but neither he nor Gordon have written about the plains & sandhills of the far west it remains for some future poet to do that. 
I got a volume of Gordon here the other day and at length had an opportunity of studying his writings in their entirety I have long been familiar with his most well known poems, there is no man within the last century who has achieved such lasting fame as he has, his poems appeal not only to one class of cultured minds as Tennyson or Browning and that lot, but there is not a bushman who does not know a verse or two of... 'how we beat the favorite' or 'the sick stockrider' I call this fame - Gordon is the favorite I may say only poet of the back blocker and I am sorry to say Emile Zola is his favorite prose writer, his books are published now in very cheap form and have a tremendous circulation a strange partnership indeed for these two men so different in their tone, to share popularity. I am afraid after all the bushman is not a very fine animal but at any rate even in his most vicious moments he is far above many of the so-called respectable dwellers in towns - well I must write a letter to Addie now so will say goodbye - give my love to Addie and Grannie