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Title: The Battle of Mordialloc; or, How We Lost Australia
Author: Samuel Mullen
* A Project Gutenberg Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0900171.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: March 2009
Date most recently updated: March 2009

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Title: The Battle of Mordialloc; or, How We Lost Australia
Author: Samuel Mullen

Samuel Mullen, Collins Street East


Price, One Shilling.

Egerton and Moore, Printers,
48 Flinders Lane East.


Towards the close of the year 1896, when Great Britain--bent on
recovering her lost Australian colonies--despatched a powerful expedition
with that object in view, H.M. troopship Euphrates was employed to convey
a large complement of the forces.

I had just been appointed first lieutenant of the same.

My friend, Herbert Ainslie, formerly of the Victorian Survey Department,
but now in the service of the British Government, had been deputed to
accompany the expedition in an official capacity.

One evening, when we were in the Indian Ocean, steaming rapidly towards
the Australian coast, Ainslie and I were pacing the deck together, as was
our custom, enjoying the cool breeze, and discussing the coming campaign
over a quiet cigar.

For the first time during the voyage our conversation reverted to the
terrible events which had so recently marked the overthrow of the
colonies--a subject on which Ainslie had hitherto been singularly silent.

The reason for this reticence was soon apparent, as I learned from his
own lips the sad story of his personal experiences in Victoria at the

For awhile we continued our promenade in silence. My friend's thoughts
were of such a painful character that I felt reluctant to break in upon
them with the usual sympathetic commonplaces.

Suddenly he left my side, and went down to his cabin, whence he soon
emerged with a manuscript.

Placing it in my hands, he said: "As I may never return to the old
country, I should like you, my dear fellow, to see to the publication of
this as soon as you return. There are some few things in it which will, I
think, to some extent explain how the precipitate and disastrous
Separation movement came about; and which may, perhaps, prove interesting
if made generally known in England."

My gallant friend was fatally wounded almost at the close of the
campaign. He survived long enough, however, to see the Union Jack flying
once more in triumph over his native land.

Needless to say, his wishes have been faithfully carried out.



There never was, probably there never again will be, a people so
prosperous and so full of confidence in the future as we Australians were
in the year which saw us a century old.

We were proud indeed of the noble heritage which had fallen to us. Where,
a hundred years before, the land was practically a vast solitude,
scantily peopled by the lowest savages, noble cities had sprung up with
thriving industries, halls of learning, acid spires rising heavenwards.

We had an enormous territory, capable of supplying its present population
a hundred times twice told. The climate was everything that could be
desired; the soil generous to profusion in its productiveness; the
pastoral and mineral wealth of the country vast beyond computation.

Our rapidly increasing population was prosperous and contented. Perhaps
in no part of the world were the artisan and labouring classes better
paid, better clothed and fed, or more comfortably housed than ours.

Our geographical position seemed to guarantee us a future of
uninterrupted peace. From the wars and rumours of wars, and the perpetual
unrest of the old world, we were separated by the whole diameter of the

Nor should it be surmised that the national career was one of material
prosperity only. The brave and enterprising men who had built up the
fabric of our material greatness, had also laid deep and broad the
foundations of the nation's higher life. They were now passing away from
our midst--these fathers of the people--and we native-born Australians
were rapidly taking their places. We latter, it must be admitted, had not
as yet distinguished ourselves in ally particular way. The eminent men in
our midst still hailed, for the most part, from the mother country. The
sun of young Australia was yet to rise. Our achievements in art, in
science, and in literature were in the womb of the future. In due time,
we fondly hoped, they would be born. In due time, the Australian
Shakespeare would arise; Australian walls glow with the productions of
native-born Raphaels and Titians; Australian scientists and men of
letters take equal rank with the greatest in the old world. The day was
not far distant, we believed, when the Southern Cross would look down on
a mighty Commonwealth, virtually mistress of the South Pacific, capable
of holding her own against all comers, and dictating terns on a footing
of equality with the most powerful nations of the world.

Such was the vision which dazzled us in 1888, our Centennial year.

Grey-haired politicians felt all the glow of youthful enthusiasm as they
contemplated it. Popular preachers and orators vied with each other in
depicting the splendours of the golden age, already dawning.
Distinguished visitors came and went, carrying with them the story of our
wonderful progress. Australian credit rose higher and higher in the
markets of the world. Our prosperity advanced by leaps and bounds. There
seemed no earthly reason why we should not go on for ever, crushing
quartz and exporting wool, and growing richer and richer till the crack
of doom.

Thus we entered upon the second century of our national life.

But the canker worm was already at our root.

It is related that when the dogma of infallibility was proclaimed, in
1870, one of the Cardinals assembled was heard to exclaim, with a sigh of
relief, "At last, thank God, we have done with history!" True or false,
the expression attributed to the Cardinal might with perfect justice have
been put in the mouths of large masses of my countrymen.

An impression had long been gaining ground among us that we too had "done
with history." The true conception of the Australian people as the
offshoot of an old civilisation, heirs to whatever of good or evil it had
to bequeath, gradually receded before the false notion that we were a
young nation starting on a unique career, for whom the traditions of the
past could have no interest whatever.

But if we had done with history, history had not done with us. The germs
of dissension were rife with us, as with others. We had entered the
promised land; but, like Israel of old, we had come up a nixed multitude.

There were parties in the State here as elsewhere. Here, as elsewhere,
there were divisions in religion. Fully a fourth of the population owned
spiritual allegiance to the Sovereign Pontiff on the Tiber. The doctrinal
differences which separated Anglican from Presbyterian, Presbyterian from
Wesleyan, Wesleyan from Independent, and all combined from the Unitarian
and the Freethinker, were exactly what they had ever been.

In all this our leading public men fancied they foresaw the promise of
mischief in the future. Some of them had doubtless their own theological
and political notions to sub-serve. At all events it was deemed
advisable, on grounds which need not be here entered upon, to exclude
religion and history from the State schools' curriculum. By breaking the
continuity of the past, it was assumed that the rising generation would
enter upon their career strangers to old world controversies, and
unhampered by old world traditions.

In no country, perhaps (I write, be it remembered, of my native
Victoria,) could a more dangerous experiment have been tried with the
education of its rising youth.

Antiquity, which brings a people into touch with so much that is great
and glorious in the past, was necessarily wanting. History we had yet to
make. To the past we owed everything worth having, from the creeds which
were the basis of our faith, to the locomotive which tore its way across
our plains.

Sundered from the past, the rising generation grew up for the most part
strangers to the traditions of religion and loyalty, and breathing an
atmosphere of the densest materialism. Heirs of the ages, they knew
nothing, and could know nothing, of their birthright.

The youth, born on the banks of the Yarra, had an equal claim on the
glories of Shakespeare and of Milton with the youth  born on the Thames
or Severn. In his veins may have flowed the blood of heroes, who
conquered at Agincourt and Crecy; of gallant Scots, who had followed the
Bruce to victory at Bannockburn. For him the patriot had bled, the
philosopher had painfully pondered the riddle of existence, the martyr
had yielded up his soul in the fire. For him had been hoarded the lore of
ages. To what purpose?

So far as the rising generation was concerned, religion and government,
art, science, and literature, might have dropped down ready made from the

In the supreme moment of our national
life, when one of the most momentous problems of modern times was at our
doors demanding prompt solution, the fate of the country was in their

I refer to the Chinese question. These Orientals had domiciled among us
by the thousand. They were, upon the whole, an inoffensive and
law-abiding race. They lived on little, toiled like beavers, carefully
hoarded their modest gains, in the hope of returning one day to their
native land. Some few of them occupied high positions as merchants, and
were held in general esteem for their probity and benevolence. The great
majority, however, were content to engage in the humblest occupations.
They cooked and washed, they grew vegetables and hawked them about the
country, they searched for gold in old and abandoned claims. In the
tropics, under conditions which rendered white labour impossible, they
toiled hard in the construction of railways and other public works.

By certain 'sections of the community they were, regarded with suspicion
and repugnance. With the lowest, or "larrikin," class it was enough that
they were strangers in a strange land; that their skins were yellow, and
their eyes set in their heads at an angle which did not altogether square
with the "larrikin" notion of the fitness of things. The distrust with
which they were regarded by the artisan and labouring classes rested, it
must be admitted, on more tangible grounds.

They were charged with lowering the rate of wages; with ousting white
labour in certain employments, and with showing signs of steady
encroachment in others. This they were enabled to do by their style of
living, so much beneath the ordinary European standard of comfort and

But, over and above all, there remained a consideration of peculiar
gravity. The Chinese Empire was, comparatively speaking, in close
proximity to our shores.

An exodus even on a most modest scale from its swarming myriads would
simply swamp our British civilisation.

There were many signs that the long "cycle of Cathay" was at an end, and
that awakened China was about to take her place in the comity of nations.
She had already formed the nucleus of a powerful navy; had begun to
organise her enormous army after European methods, and to arm it with
European weapons of precision.

In the great military capitals of the old world her officers were
studying the art of war. For obvious reasons the mother country would
naturally wish to preserve friendly relations with a growing power lying
so near the frontiers of her Indian Empire.

Here then were the chief elements in a question of peculiar gravity and

The leading statesmen in England, anxiously desirous to bring about some
such settlement of the question as should safeguard the interests of the
colonies without proving unnecessarily offensive to the Chinese, entered
into negotiations on the subject with the Chinese Government.

Unhappily, while these negotiations were dragging their slow length
along, the matter was taken up by other hands.

Ambitious, time-serving politicians, and irresponsible agitators--the
curse of democracies--saw, in a skilful manipulation of the Chinese
question, a sure means of personal advancement. The ever smouldering fire
of anti-Chinese feeling was blown by them into a perfect flame. An
anti-Chinese literature sprang up in rank profusion. The organs of the
press "run" in the interests of Liberty, Fraternity, Equality, and the
rights of man, were conspicuous for their hostility towards the
unfortunate Mongols, and increasing in their demands for the expulsion of
the entire race from Australian soil.

As the Chinese spectre loomed more and more portentous on the horizon,
the public alarm increased. The anti-Chinese agitations spread like
wildfire. Meetings were held all over the country. In every city, in
every town and township, the question--whether the Chinese were desirable
immigrants--was keenly debated, and everywhere answered in the negative
by overwhelming majorities.

I pass over the next few years, during which negotiations were almost at
a standstill.

The climax came in 1897.

Measures were simultaneously passed through the various colonial
legislatures, instituting a heavy residential tax on every Chinese
resident in the country, and entirely prohibiting any future immigration.

The measures in question were submitted for assent to the Home
Government, and the answer was awaited in breathless expectancy by the
entire community.

In July of the same year the Argus published a curt telegram to the
effect that the Imperial Government had vetoed both measures.

The announcement produced a tremendous uproar.

The following day another telegram appeared in the same journal,
announcing that the long-threatened war between England and Russia had at
length broken out, and that hostilities had actually commenced.

The excitement was now at its height. On all sides arose a clamour for
Australian Independence. The various Parliaments were dissolved. An
appeal was made to the country, and new Parliaments elected. Separation,
or the preservation of the status quo, was the question put before the

I was present at the first sitting of the new Victorian Parliament.

Inside, the House was crowded almost to suffocation. Outside, the doors
were besieged by a surging and excited crowd.

As the Separatists were in the immense majority, the result of the
evening's proceedings was a foregone conclusion.

"We shall make history to-night with a vengeance," I observed in an
undertone to a friend who accompanied me, when we had each finished a
critical survey of the personnel of the new House. My companion made some
response which, however, I failed to catch, drowned as it was in the
burst of cheering which greeted an honourable member who had just risen
to his feet, and begun to address the House.

Of the long and vehement harangue which followed, the conclusion alone
remained in my memory.

"How long, I ask," the member in question went on to say, "are the people
of this growing Empire to be governed by a trumpery island in the German
Ocean, hardly big enough to furnish decent sheep-runs for a score of
squatters? (Cheers and laughter.) When the British Empire bursts up, as
it is pretty certain to do one of these days, we shall have to shift for
ourselves, whether we like it or no. Why then postpone the inevitable a
single day longer? (A voice, "We can't stand alone.") Can't stand alone!
I am ashamed to think that any honourable member of this House should
insult the country, by so craven a remark. I see not the slightest
grounds for doubting, and I am sure the majority of honourable members
present will agree with me, that a united Australia should now be strong
enough, single-handed, to drive into the sea any force which might
possibly be brought against her.

"The old country is now at war with Russia. She may shortly be at
loggerheads, for all we know, with half the world. She has been hard at
it during the last half-century, cutting the throats of Russians,
Bengalis, Afghans, Ashantees, Abyssinians, Zulus, Boers, Egyptians,
Arabs, and Burmese. Was there a single one of these peoples with whom we
Australians had even the shadow of a quarrel? Have we the shadow of a
quarrel with the White Czar to-day?

"Let us resolve to have done at once and for ever with this state of
things! Let us from henceforth insist upon managing our own affairs; our
Chinese question and the like, without any outside interference.

"England, France, Germany, and the rest of them may go on exterminating
one another in their own cockpits, for aught we care. We shall send them
as much wool and frozen meat as they may require to keep up the game.
(Long cheers and laughter.) Our course is clear. We are strong enough, as
I have already said, to hold our own. By-and-by, when we have grown
stronger still, we shall add largely to what we have. The powers which
have shared New Guinea and the other islands of our seas among them will
one clay have to reckon, not with a few easy-going gentlemen in Downing
Street, but with the young, the vigorous, the invincible Australian
people. (Loud cheers.)

"The future belongs to us if we are but true to the national motto,
ADVANCE AUSTRALIA. (Great cheering.) Let the dead past bury its dead!
With its worn-out creeds, whether religious or political, with its
kingcraft and priestcraft, its crude scientific notions, its pauperism,
and its crime, we free-born Australians have henceforth done forever!
(Loud cheers.) Be it our task from this time forward to hold up to the
admiration and envy of mankind the spectacle of an emancipated people,
absolute masters of their own destiny, the possessors of a religion
based, not upon old world fables, but on scientific facts; of laws,
literature, and art, purely of native growth; of an advance in
civilisation which knows no limit; of a freedom which shall be
absolutely unfettered and uncontrolled."

A perfect hurricane of cheering greeted this outburst. When it had
subsided, an honourable member of venerable appearance rose and addressed
the House as follows:--

"An old colonist, a member of this House during several successive
Parliaments, and a loyal subject of the Queen, I have listened with
indignation and disgust to the speech of the honourable member who has
just sat down."

"In spite of the favourable reception accorded to it, I would fain
believe that the speech in question is only the reflection of a brief
popular madness which will subside as rapidly as it has arisen. If it be
otherwise, then better a thousand times that this country were what it
was a century ago, when not an ounce of gold had been drawn from its
mines, or a handful of grain had been scattered over its soil; when the
aboriginal still encamped on the very ground where stands this House,
from which for the time being loyalty has fled. (Interruption and

"As I listened to the applause which greeted what I can only characterise
as a tissue of ignorance, sedition, and bombast, the old Roman adage came
forcibly to my mind: 'Whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad."

The men who have made this country what it is, are one by one vanishing
from the scene. In a few years the places which know them by mine and
mart, and by the wild lands which their energy reclaimed, shall know them
no more. Standing here as I do, almost their sole representative, every
consideration of duty and honour impels me to protest against the
treasonable and clangorous course to which this country is being blindly

"It may be late in the day to refer to the Chinese question. There were
difficulties enough in that matter, I admit, to tax the resources of our
very best statesmanship. I would only ask whether the settlement of that
question was the best which, after due deliberation, might have been

"Was it a settlement in harmony with the dictates of religion and
humanity? (Ironical cheers and loud laughter.)

"If an appeal to religion and humanity be out of place in this Assembly,
perhaps honourable members will bear with me if I descend to lower
ground. Was that settlement, then, in harmony with common sense and
common prudence?

"But, further. Following close on the heels of the Chinese question, and
arising out of it, is that other and larger question which affects the
relations that this country has hitherto borne to Great Britain.

"A wild and senseless popular clamour for the disruption of these
relations is now raging in this community. To give immediate effect to
that object, the majority of the members of this House have been returned
by their various constituencies.

"In this, as in the Chinese question, I shall waive all such
considerations as the just claims of Great Britain and the honour of the
Australian people, and shall simply regard it as it affects the safety of
the nation, nay, the very national existence itself.

"This noble continent, nearly as large as Europe, is now in the quiet
possession of a population which hardly exceeds, if indeed it equals,
that of Scotland. How long, in the present state of the world, think you,
will that possession go unchallenged? Just so long as these colonies are
protected by the strong arm of Britain--not one day longer? (Cries of
"No, no!" and "We can defend ourselves.") A good deal of tall talk has
been indulged in as to what we shall be and do in the future, when we
have a large population. Is there a single member here so infatuated as
to dream that when these colonies are no longer sheltered under the name
and might of England, they will be left unmolested till their four
millions have grown to fifty? It is high time the Australian people had
outgrown their illusions. The friendly seas which surround us are no
longer a protection. Every advance in science tends to shorten the
distance which one time separated us from the old world. We live in the
iron age; not, as our smooth-tongued orators would seek to persuade us,
in the age of gold. The questions which agitate the nations are solved
not by the frothy rant of upstart demagogues, but, as Bismarck says, 'by
blood and iron.' The most forcible arguments are now those which are
backed by the strongest battalions--the most convincing eloquence that
which proceeds from the cannon's mouth. The moment we cease to be a part
of the British Empire, that moment the German, the Russ, the Frenchman
will be thundering at our gates. (Great uproar.)

"Bear with me, gentlemen, but a few moments longer. I am an old man,
whose career is almost run, and my voice will probably never again he
heard within these walls. No irrevocable step has yet been taken. We are
still part of the noblest Empire the world has ever seen, or is ever
likely to see. For the sake, then, of the national honour and interests;
for the sake of the many loyal and gallant hearts in our midst which
still beat true to the old country; last, but not least, for your own
sake and for your children's, I implore you to preserve that connection
in all its integrity.

"Let it not have to be recorded of us by the historian in clays to come,
that in the supreme crisis of their existence the people of Victoria
were deaf to the counsels of honour and prudence; that, seduced by the
seditious rant of the political adventurer and the demagogue, they
rushed blindfold into a course of the most incredible folly; and that in
the slaughter of their bravest sons, in the lurid light of their burning
cities may be read the terrible story of how that folly was expiated."

When it was all over, and the representatives of Victoria in council
assembled had declared for Separation, I left the House and bent my steps

The night was far advanced, but the whole city seemed awake. In the
brilliant moonlight every public building, bank and mansion stood out in
bold relief. At intervals prolonged bursts of cheering broke upon the
stillness of the night. But a weight lay upon my heart, for somehow or
other the terrible conviction had forced itself upon me that my
countrymen were cheering the death-warrant of the nation.

Some weeks passed quietly. During their course the famous "Australian
Declaration of Independence" was flashed by cable to England. A time of
almost feverish anxiety followed. Every morning the telegrams from Europe
were scanned with unprecedented eagerness. The tragic drama being enacted
by the two gigantic world powers was fast unrolling itself before our
gaze. Thick and fast came tidings of the movements of fleets and
armies; of vessels captured and burnt; of blockaded ports and besieged

Occasionally interspersed with the war telegrams were brief extracts from
the Times, Standard, Daily News, Morning Post, and other home journals,
commenting on the Australian situation. Beyond the instant recall of the
Governors of the various colonies, no single hint as to the intentions of
the Home Government had yet reached us.

But come what might, there was no divesting the popular mind of the false
confidence in which it lay wrapped.

That England would fire a shot, or risk the life of a single soldier in
the attempt to restore the status quo, was, to say the least of it,
highly improbable.

Unfortunately, England was not the only power with whom we had to reckon.
Here it was that their unreasoning optimism fatally misled the Australian

It was taken for granted that the dangers which had hitherto menaced the
colonies as dependencies of Great Britain no longer existed, now that
that relationship had come to an end. Haling ceased to be a part of the
British Empire, we flattered ourselves we were no longer in a position to
need the protection of her ironclads. The attitude of Russia and of other
European powers to a non-combatant State, intent only on peaceful and
commercial relations with the rest of the world, could hardly be other
than of the most friendly nature.

One morning these confident surmises received a rude shock. The daily
journals appeared minus their European telegrams. What had been predicted
over and over again in military forecasts years ago had actually come to

The Russians had cut the cables. The handwriting was now on the wall
clear and legible, and needing no prophet to interpret.

Alas! the only prophets who had a hearing now were engaged in predicting
the winner of the Melbourne Cup. Against all others the public ear had
long been closed.

Cup Day came, and all Victoria flocked to Flemington to lay the odds on
the favourite. Flemington racecourse is, perhaps, the finest in the
world. The gently sloping hills surrounding it form a fine natural
amphitheatre, from every point in which can be seen the whole sweep of
the course. Here, in the lovely spring of each November, the sport-loving
Australians had many a time gathered from all quarters to enjoy their
favourite pastime.

On this occasions the vast concourse was the largest ever assembled. The
weather was everything that could be desired; a bright sun in an almost
cloudless sky, and a south-westerly breeze which tempered the fierceness
of his rays, without raising the dust. The summer toilettes of the
ladies--more charming, if possible, than ever--lent animation and colour
to a scene scarcely to be paralleled in any part of the world.

It was well on in the afternoon, somewhere, I should think, towards four
o'clock. The last race prior to the event of the day had just come off; a
splendid struggle, ending in a dead heat. The hum of voices had gradually
ceased, and all eyes were turning to where a dozen thoroughbreds were
getting into line for the great contest of the year.

At this moment something very unusual was taking place in the vicinity of
the grand stand. The Premier and other leading members of the Government
had hurriedly quitted their places, and were entering their carriages.
Another instant and they had driven rapidly off in the direction of the
city. All over the place others were preparing to follow their example.
There were evident signs, in fact, of a general stampede. What could have
happened! The astonished onlookers were not kept long in suspense. All at
once the shrill voices of newsboys broke on the ear--

"'ARGUS,' SPECIAL EDITION. Large fleet bearing down on the coast of

I pass over the scene which followed upon the startling announcement--the
rush for II papers, the sudden break up of the vast throng, the noise and
confusion, and the wild surging of the human torrent back to Melbourne.

It was nearly six o'clock when I reached my home in Clarendon-street. Our
housemaid, Mary, opened the door with her usual pleasant smile. As I
entered, the familiar strains of a favourite old ballad fell upon my ear.
It was my sister's voice. The dining-room door was ajar, and I entered
unobserved. My father had just finished preparing the discourse he was to
deliver the following Sunday morning at St. Clement's, and was now seated
in his arm-chair listening, with closed eyes, to the music, as I had
often seen him do.

My sister Kate was at the piano. The rays of the setting sun streamed
through the open window full upon the graceful figure, and upon the fair
face and shapely head, with its wealth of dark brown hair. The clear rich
tones of her voice, the tranquil surroundings, and the serene expression
of my father's face, made me for a moment almost doubt the reality of the
scene I had so recently witnessed.

Neither my father nor sister had evidently heard the disquieting news of
the afternoon. It had fallen to me to enlighten them, and I shrank from
the task.

Upon my dear sister, especially, the blow
would fall with cruel force. She had been for some time engaged to
Captain Hastings, a young officer of the Defence Force. That day week
they were to be married.

How could I tell her that before then? Hastings, myself, and all the
available manhood of the country would, in all likelihood, be fighting
for hearth and home.

A little later on in the evening, when they had heard all, and we were
talking matters over together, a rapid footstep was heard in the hall,
and Hastings entered, a handsome Victorian, in the uniform of the
Mounted Rifles. He was about to proceed to head quarters, and had run in
for a few minutes in passing.

The news he brought was of the gravest importance, and fully confirmed
the first startling report, while it threw a new and unexpected light on
the situation.

A Sydney telegram had come in announcing that the steamship Cathay had
just arrived from Hong Kong, having narrowly escaped Ii capture by the
way. Her captain reported that the long-standing difficulty between
Russia and China about Manchooria had been patched up, and that a
secret treaty had existed for some time between the two powers for the
invasion and partition of Australia.

The Chinese Government and people had long resented the treatment of
their countrymen in the colonies, and had determined to exact vengeance
at the earliest, possible opportunity. To that end they had been for
months past busily engaged in fitting out a huge expedition, ostensibly
for the purpose of settling some old scores with Japan or the Corea, in
reality to co-operate with Russia according to the terms of the secret

With the Australian Declaration of Independence, and the outbreak of war
between England and Russia, had come the golden opportunity.

The Chinese fleet, officered for the most part by Europeans, had at once
effected a junction with the Russian Pacific squadron, which had recently
been greatly strengthened, and the whole were steaming rapidly
southwards, under the command of a Russian Archduke. In three or four
days at furthest they would be upon our coasts.

"Of course they will meet with a warm reception when they do cone,"
continued Hastings, in a tone of easy confidence, meant to reassure my
sister, who had been listening, pale and in silence. "The Defence Forces
are in splendid condition, and to-morrow and the next day there will be
no end of volunteering."

The reference to volunteering reminded me I had important business to
transact before enrolling myself next morning, as I intended to do. My
father and I accordingly withdrew to talk matters over, leaving the
lovers to exchange their last farewells alone.

A short time afterwards Hastings and I left the house together. For some
time we walked along without a word on either side. Just as we were
passing the Treasury, however, on our way down Collins-street, Hastings
suddenly broke silence.

"Look here, Ainslie, old fellow, we are in a devil of a mess, I can tell
you. There's no use disguising the fact. These fellows in there," he
said, pointing with flashing eye in the direction of the Rouse, where
Parliament was at that moment sitting, "have brought the country to a
fine pass with their confounded clap-trap about independence. They are at
it now concocting measures for the national defence, or some other
foolery, as if all the talk in the world, at this time of day, could add
a single man or gun to our fighting line. I'd give the world, if I had
it, if only our Colonel would order me to go in with my troop and turn
the whole rabble into the street." Hastings spoke bitterly, but not more
so than the circumstances warranted.

"How many men," I asked, "do you think we can muster for the defence?"

"If we can manage to get 6000 men together, we may consider ourselves
very lucky;" replied Hastings. "We have splendid fighting material, if
only there were time to lick it into shape. That's about the worst
feature in the whole business. With a month's warning, or even less, we
should have mustered 20,000 men at the least. Now it will be as much as
we can do to get the handful of troops we have into position at the right
time and place. Given 6000 Victorians, how to dispose of a force backed
by half the human race? That's the problem we have got to solve. And a
pretty tough one, too. However, there is nothing for it but to make the
best of things, and show the world that if Victorians have for once lost
their heads, as they certainly have done in this miserable Separation
business, their hearts are as stout as ever.

"But I'm already due at headquarters, so must be off. Good-bye, old

"Good-bye, Hastings. When and shall you and I meet next?"

"All that depends on our friend, the Arch-duke;" and with a laugh and a
warm grasp of I the hand, Hastings strode off.

Hastings was right! We were in a mess, indeed, and every hour brought the
fact home to us with a logic not to be gainsaid. A federated Australia,
with a fully developed defence scheme, would, without doubt, have offered
a formidable resistance to the invader. But a federated Australia, though
it supplied our Parliamentary rhetoricians with a never failing stock
subject, was not yet, and in all probability never would be. There was
not an arsenal in the whole country. We had not even a small-arm factory.
There had long been talk of establishing one, but for some reason or
other the matter had hung fire. Our whole system of defence, be it
remembered, was created in view of an entirely different contingency
than that which threatened--A sudden dash through now through the Heads
to Melbourne. A levy of so many millions in specie. In default, the
bombardment of the city.--The most thorough-going alarmist among us
rarely, if ever, contemplated anything more serious.

In addition to these and other causes for disquiet, which everywhere
agitated the public mind, was the uncertainty as to where the enemy would

Next day, Wednesday, I enrolled myself as a volunteer in the 1st
Battalion of the Rifles. Some three hundred young fellows who had
received drill instruction in the Public and State Schools, many of whom
were old school-fellows, joined at the same time, the other infantry
corps being strengthened in like proportion.

It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the events which crowded the remainder
of the week. How Friday evening brought tidings that the enemy were
bearing down upon the Heads, and how the fleet went off to engage them.
How the land forces hurried off to the same quarter. How on Saturday it
came out that the threatened attack on the Heads was only a feint after
all, and that the main portion of the expedition had effected a landing
at Westernport, and were strongly entrenched near Hastings, and how the
troops were hurried back to Melbourne, and then on to Mordialloc to
intercept the enemy's march. All this is matter of history, and need not
be detailed here.

It was late on Saturday evening' when our battalion arrived at its
destination. All sorts of rumours had been flying about, but the most
prevalent belief was that the enemy were marching on Frankston, and that
we were to meet him there. We were considerably surprised, therefore,
when the train halted at Mordialloc, a small watering township some
sixteen or seventeen miles from Melbourne, and we were ordered to get out
of the carriages and form up.

Whether from the numerical weakness of our little force, or the short
time left us for acting', or whatever the cause, it was evident there had
been a change of plan on the part of our leaders at the last moment. I
forbear enlarging, however, upon the purely military aspects of the
campaign, more especially as the admirable work lately written by an
Engineer officer who was present, has already familiarised the public
with the whole affair, and shall simply confine myself with what fell
within my own personal experience as a private volunteer.

The sun had gone down on the the other side of the bay a full half-hour
when we moved off from the station, to take up position under the
guidance of a mounted officer of the Staff. As we marched along in the
rapidly growing dusk, the wild-fowl, scared by Mordialloc creek, flew
circling overhead with startled cries. Here and there the tall gum trees
loomed into sight above the surrounding bush and thick underwood growth,
like so many giant spectres.

It was almost dark when we reached our halting ground and formed up in
column of companies on the left of the whole position out he right, some
distance off, we could make out an infantry battalion drawn up in similar
formation, and further still in the same direction the bivouac fires of
the rest of the army were gleaming at regular intervals right along to
the shore.

Patrols having been sent out, sentries posted, and the usual precautions
taken against surprise, the welcome order was received to pile arms and
fall out. We were one and all thoroughly fagged out with the hurry and
excitement of the last few days, and, as we had eaten nothing since
morning, were pretty well famished into the bargain. The commissariat
were, however, equal to the emergency, and a substantial ration of broad
and meat was served all round. With this and a liberal supply of tea,
which was soon got ready, we made a tolerably comfortable meal.

By-and-by, as we were smoking and chatting in groups round our
watch-fires, some late editions of the newspapers which had found their
way into the lines, fell into our hands. From them we gathered the first
authentic news we had as yet of the enemy's numbers and probable

According to the leading journal, their strength could not be far short
of 55,000 men. Of this number fully 20,000 were Russians, for the most
part veteran troops who had already seen more than one campaign. The
remaining 30,000 were Chinese, accustomed to European drill and training,
well armed with the newest repeating rifle, and to a large extent led by
European and American officers. Their role would, in all probability, be
to attack as soon as they came up with us, which they were certain to do
early next day, and simply crush our little army by sheer force of
numbers, before it could be reinforced by contingents from the other
colonies With Victoria at the mercy of the enemy, any attempt in the way
of a united defence on the part of the other colonies would be simply

All this was anything but pleasant reading, only we had already
discounted the worst, so far as the odds we had to contend with were
concerned, and far from feeling dispirited by the news, every man was
only the more resolved to stand firm when the hour of trial came.

There was one piece of news, however, which raised our spirits to such a
degree that it was with difficulty we could be restrained from bursting
into cheers. New South Wales and the other colonies were already
straining every nerve to send assistance both in men and material.

The New South Wales contingent, numbering some 2500 men, was already on
its way, and if all went well should arrive next day about noon. Now that
the hour of danger had arrived, the best qualities of my
fellow-countrymen were coming to the fore. Mutual jealousies had
altogether vanished before the paramount claims of patriotic feeling, and
the strong sentiment of brotherhood, which had till now so long lain

About nine o'clock the orderly sergeants came round the various companies
to read orders. As the enemy had been reported in force at a point some
six or seven miles distant, and we might expect an attack early the
following morning, we were ordered to lie down at once, and get all the
rest we could. The troops were to fall in next morning at daybreak, in
light marching order, each man to carry a hundred rounds of ammunition
and two days' rations. A number of important details followed, and the
whole concluded with an expression of the implicit reliance the General
in command placed on the courage and steadiness of the troops, and of his
full confidence in their ability to hold their ground until the arrival
of reinforcements, when the whole army would assume the offensive and
advance upon the enemy. Before lying down for the night a ration of rum
was served out by the Colonel's orders, and very acceptable it proved
under the circumstances. We had no tents, our camp equipage and baggage
having been unavoidably left behind in the hurry and uncertainty of our
movements during the last few days, but as it was a warm night it did not
much matter. Wrapping myself in my great-coat I lay down, fully accoutred
as I was, on the ground, my rifle at my side in case of a sudden turnout.

A profound silence reigned everywhere. There was no wind, not even the
slightest breeze. Not a leaf quivered in the branches, not a sound broke
the stillness, only the occasional challenge of a sentry, and the quiet
monotonous murmur of the sea. The night was clear and the stars were
shining brightly.

The Southern Cross, so often linked by a poetic fancy with the destinies
of Australasia, was tranquilly shining overhead, as it had shone ages
before upon our virgin forests and boundless plains, as it would shine
to-morrow night on the upturned face of many a gallant Victorian in his
last sleep; as it would continue to shine when our brief national story
would be but as a tale that is told.

Next morning the battalion formed up in silence, just as the first
streaks of grey appeared in the east. In a short time the sun rose, and
for the first time we were able to form a tolerably correct notion of our

To our front the country was little other than a flat plain, to a large
extent clear of bush and offering no natural barriers to speak of, to the
advance of any number of troops. Away to the left stretched the long
range of the blue Dandenongs. On the right the magnificent sweep of the
bay carried the eye onward, past miles of shingly beach, bordered with
forest and dense scrub, and dotted with country villas, till it rested on
Point Nepean, just faintly discernible in the distant haze.

Our battalion, I have already stated, was posted on the left of the

The Mounted Rifles, a magnificent body of horsemen, fully a thousand
stroll, and drawn up in column of squadrons, under cover of a patch of
gum tree forest, protected our left flank.

A little distance to our right was the 2nd Battalion of infantry.

Further still, in the same direction, was the 3rd Battalion, two
companies of which lined the mouth of the creek before mentioned, under
cover of the ti-trees and other bushes which lined its banks.

The 4th Battalion was formed up in double column of companies, some
distance in rear of the centre of the whole, and constituted the reserve.

On a slight eminence, in rear of the township, was a battery of field
guns, completely screened from view by a thick hedge of prickly cactus,
and commanding the approach from Frankston.

A short distance in advance of our left were two more batteries, drawn up
a little behind the crest of some rising ground.

An hour passed and still no signs of the enemy. As we stood quietly
leaning on our rifles, I thought the time had never dragged along so
slowly. As there now seemed no prospect of an immediate attack, we
embraced the opportunity to fall out and have breakfast, after which we
all felt in better trim for anything that might turn up.

It might have been about a quarter of an hour or so after we had fallen
in again--I cannot pretend to state the time with exactness, though I had
mechanically consulted my watch at least a dozen times that morning--when
suddenly the booming of heavy guns in the distance sent something like a
thrill through our ranks. It was evident we were to be simultaneously
attacked both by land and sea. The enemy had begun the day's operations
by an attempt to force the Heads, and were already hotly engaging our
fleet and shore batteries.

We had little time, however, for speculating about matters at the Heads,
for at this moment we observed a staff officer coming along hard gallop
to where we stood He had just delivered orders from the General in
command to our Colonel, and was riding off when the report of a field
gun, away a considerable distance in front, followed by others in quick
succession, drew our attention to a point some two miles off where a
cloud of smoke was slowly curling upwards in the still air.

The enemy at last!

We could distinctly make out their dark masses, as they gradually emerged
into the open from behind some ridges of wooded country, which had hitherto
screened their advance.

As they came near our picquets fell back all along the line on the main
body, followed by a small party of the Mounted Rifles, which had been out
scouting since daybreak. In command of the latter was Hastings,
whom I now saw for the first time since we parted on the Tuesday evening
before. As he galloped past where I stood on the left of my company, we
recognised each other with a wave of the hand.

At this moment the enemy opened fire, and a shell flew screaming
overhead, and burst some distance behind, close to the 4th Battalion,
wounding two privates, and killing the adjutant's horse under him.

I shall never forget the curious sensation produced in us, as we all
instinctively followed its rapid flight. Another and another came in
rapid succession.

Our guns in front now opened in reply, and for some minutes kept up a
vigorous cannonade. For nearly two hours this artillery duel went on,
with but little damage to either side, owing to the greatness of the

About eleven o'clock, the enemy's guns--by this time largely
reinforced--advanced to within twelve hundred yards and opened a
tremendous fire, under cover of which dense columns of their infantry
began to move forward to the attack. At the same time our batteries,
unable to hold their ground any longer against such odds, were withdrawn
to less advanced positions, having already suffered heavily in both men
and horses.

In the meantime we had thrown out four companies in skirmishing order,
our remaining half battalion retiring a short distance to where a light
dip in the ground afforded some protection from the incessant rain of
shot and shell.

On came the enemy, in alternate battalions of Russians and Chinese, their
drums beating, and their bayonets glancing in the sun.

It was an exciting moment, and our hearts beat high as we awaited their
attack, a death-like silence pervading the ranks. At this moment the
voice of our brave old Colonel rang out cheerily above the din:--"Now,
men, be steady, and mind what you're about; keep cool, and don't fire a
shot till you can tell the colour of the enemy's pigtails, then let them
have it hot."

Immediately in front, extending along nearly
the whole of our position, and varying in breadth from 350 to 400 yards,
was a tract of ground entirely denuded of cover, and which the enemy
would have to cross. Just as their skirmishers were swarming over it,
followed by the reserves, we opened upon them all along our front with a
terrific storm of shrapnel and musketry.

In spite of it, however, they continued to come on pluckily, firing and
advancing steadily in a series of short rushes, their batteries meanwhile
plying us vigorously with shell. It was clear they were bent on carrying
the position at all hazards, by sheer force of numbers, cost what it

At two hundred yards distance the advance perceptibly slackened. Our fire
by this time had wrought frightful havoc in their ranks. Most of the
mounted officers were already down. To add to their difficulties, the
various battalions had got mixed up in apparently inextricable confusion,
and, abandoning their extended formation, had crowded together into what
were little better than so many densely packed and unmanageable mobs.

They were now entirely at our mercy. For a few minutes more they made a
desperate but ineffectual attempt to come on, our incessant and
well-directed fire, meanwhile, literally mowing them down by heaps. It
was too much for flesh and blood to stand. The bravest and best
disciplined troops in the world could not have been expected to advance
further in the teeth of such a withering fire.

The attack was now clearly a failure. The whole mass of the enemy
halted, wavered, and finally fell back.

A wild cheer now burst from our ranks for the first time, and the whole
line prepared to dash 'forward with the bayonet.

At this moment our bugles sounded the "cease fire." Glancing round to my
left, I could see the Mounted Rifles deploying rapidly, preparatory to
charging. Almost in the time it takes to relate, they had swept past our
flank like a whirlwind, and with ringing cheers were soon lost to view in
the dense smoke which now hung all over the field. A few seconds more and
they had hurled themselves upon the broken and retreating foe, sabring
and riding them down mercilessly.

When the smoke lifted, a terrible spectacle presented itself. The whole
plain in front of us, right up to the limits of the enemy's advance, was
strewn with the bodies of men and horses, many of the latter still
rolling about in their agony on the sward.

Here and there among the dark green of the enemy's infantry one could
descry, only too frequently, the uniform of our own gallant horsemen.

There they lay, friend and foe alike, some 3000 human beings, rigid and
silent in death, or writhing in agony under the fierce noonday sun,
gasping out piteous appeals for water, which never came.

Looking on at the awful scene, I realised, for the first time in my life,
something of what the "horrors of war" actually were. With an enemy in
front, however, nearly ten times as numerous as ourselves, and burning to
dispute with us the mastery of a whole continent, there was no time for

We had repulsed the enemy's first attack, but a few more successes of the
kind would ruin us. In spite of the excellence of our position, our
losses had been very great, the killed and wounded in our battalion
alone, already reaching a total of 160. The Captain and senior Lieutenant
of my own company--the latter an old schoolfellow, who had been captain
of our football team at the Grammar School--were both among the slain.
Among the first to fall was the member for X----, the fiery young
barrister who had so lately harangued the Legislative Assembly in favour
of Separation. His body was lying in the scrub a few paces off from where
I stood, both hands still firmly grasping the rifle. A fragment of shell
had carried away the whole of his lower jaw.

The 2nd Battalion had suffered even more heavily than ours, having lost
all its field officers, and nearly 200 officers, non-commissioned
officers and men.

The special correspondents of the Argus and Daily Telegraph had both been

It was long past noon, but the expected reinforcements had not turned up.
Many an anxious glance now began to be directed to the railway station,
where our gallant comrades of New South Wales were expected to arrive.
Two o'clock cane--three o'clock--still no sign.

The weather was dreadfully oppressive. A hot north wind had set in, and
many of our fellows were getting exhausted.

It soon became evident that another attack was imminent. Nearly the whole
of the enemy's troops were now in position, and large bodies of their
cavalry could be descried working round to the left, obviously with the
intention of threatening our flank.

Between three and four o'clock the enemy's guns re-opened fire. For some
time a furious cannonade was kept up on both sides. Then the fire of our
batteries began to slacken and soon ceased altogether. The ammunition had
given out!

The situation had now become most critical. Retreat was impossible.
Surrender--with our defenceless capital scarcely more than a single march
behind us, and in front the overwhelming array of a hostile army,
composed, for the most part, of merciless Asiatics--would be sheer

To crown all, it began to leak out that a part of the railway line
between Sydney and Melbourne had been destroyed by Dynamite--in all
probability by some agent of the enemy--thus cutting off all hope of
timely aid from New South Wales.

There was nothing for it but to face the worst like men.

As we lay there, awaiting the foe, that November evening, the fast
westering sun flecking the thick foliage with a myriad golden shafts, and
the gum trees casting long shadows across the scrub, the thoughts of many
a brave fellow sped homewards for the last time.

On came the enemy with a hoarse murmuring roar to the final assault; for
all the world like the swiftly advancing succession of waves on a
storm-tossed sea.

Victoria's hour had struck!

Four battalions of Russians, with four more in support--the famous
Penzansky and Volhynia regiments, as I afterwards learnt--bore down upon
our single battalion.

I have a vivid recollection of their steady advance, in spite of the
awful hail of lead we showered into them; how, at fifty yards distance,
the swarming mass of skirmishers halted, and got into close formation for
the final rush; how their drums beating "the attack," and the officers
waving their swords, the whole mass surged down upon us with the bayonet.

What followed may, perhaps, be best told in a short extract from Major
Zotof's "Histoire de la Guerre Australienne":--

"Though complete annihilation now stared them in the face, there was
something truly heroic in the way the mere handful of Victorians met
their fate. Just as we had got within a dozen paces of them they sprang
to their feet, poured a last volley into our midst with terrible effect,
and with a loud cheer, and shouts of 'Advance Australia,' hurled
themselves upon us with the bayonet.

"For a few second our troops, frightfully cut up as they had been by the
enemy's fire, and a good deal blown by the rapid rush across the open,
were driven back, and it began to look as if the repulse of the morning
were about to be repeated on even a more disastrous scale. Quickly
recovering themselves, however, they dashed forwards once more, and a
furious hand to hand encounter ensued.

"Back to back, and shoulder to shoulder, with teeth set hard, and eyes
flashing defiance, the doomed Victorians fought on till the ground was
slippery with blood, and the dead lay piled in heaps. Not till almost the
last man of them had been shot down or bayoneted did the unequal struggle
come to an end.

"The day was ours, but at a heavy cost. In the two assaults our force
alone had 3000 men placed hors-de-combat, and the loss to our Chinese
allies could not have been far short of 5000.

"With the exception of some prisoners, who fell into our hands, and a
small party, principally of horse, who succeeded in effecting their
escape, the whole Victorian force perished where it stood."

* * * * *

I had escaped--to this day, I can scarcely tell how--and with some others
was galloping at full speed on the road to Melbourne.

Behind us lay Mordialloc in flames. On our left was the calm expanse of
the bay--no longer ours, I reflected with bitterness--but a Russian lake.
Behind it the fiery sun was sinking rapidly in a flood of crimson--true
type of the national sun which had just gone down for ever in blood.

On we went in the deepening twilight--on and still on, till the lights of
Melbourne came in sight.

As we rode in, we found the whole place in an awful uproar. The railway
stations were choked with crowds of people, flying to Ballarat, Sandhurst
Adelaide, and other places. Thousands more were hurriedly quitting the
town on foot, on horseback, and in every description of vehicle.

Large numbers had thrown themselves into the various public buildings and
churches, where they were preparing for a desperate resistance.

Worst of all, the suburbs, and some of the town, were almost entirely at
the mercy of the lowest of the "larrikin" class. These scoundrels, true
to the instincts of their kind, from time immemorial, had seized the
moment of their country's misfortune as a glorious opportunity  for
perpetrating every species of devilry.

Hotels were broken into and plundered of their stores. Private mansions
sacked and burned. A large part of Toorak, Armadale, and Malvern was in
flames. All night long the game of robbery and murder was kept up.

In the early morning when the Chinese swarmed into the town, these
miserable ruffians, still bemuddled with the night's orgies, fell in
large numbers into their hands, and were slaughtered without mercy.

It is unnecessary to relate in detail all that occurred from the time I
turned my horse's head homewards, till I had the inexpressible relief of
seeing my father and sister once more, safe and uninjured.

On reaching home, it may be briefly stated, that I found the place
wrecked by the mob, and its inmates gone, and that, after an anxious
search, I carne upon them in St. Patrick's Cathedral.

The visitor to Melbourne, in times past, will readily recall to mind the
noble Gothic pile, which crowned the eastern slope of the city. St.
Patrick's had been nearly half a century in building, and was still
unfinished. Its foundations were laid while Victoria was still in its
infancy; it had grown with the growth of the colony, and was now about to
witness its disastrous end. To it some hundreds of families had fled for
safety, as many a fugitive crowd had formerly done to the cathedrals of
the old world.

The scene which met my gaze on entering was a most striking one. The
whole area of the building, nave, aisles, and even the chancel, was
crowded with people of every age and condition, conspicuous among them
being priests, nuns, and other members of the various religious orders.

Most of the men had procured arms, and all who could were straining every
nerve in the work of preparing for the defence of the place. Benches were
torn up and piled upon each other to enable firing parties to reach the
windows. The butts of rifles were ruthlessly dashed through the rich
stained glass by way of forming loopholes. All the entrances to the
building, with the exception of that by which I entered, were strongly

It was expected that the Russians would occupy the town on the following
day, and proceed at once to restore some sort of order, but there were
terrible misgivings that at any moment the Chinese troops, bent on
massacre and pillage, might pour into the town before the former arrived
on the scene. Hence the preparations for holding out to the last.

The loud babel of male voices, the crash of timber and noise of falling
glass, the wailing of children, the feeble glimmer of wax lights falling
here and there upon the pale countenances of anxious and terror-stricken
women, the whole, overshadowed by the deep funereal gloom of the vaulted
roof, is indelibly imprinted on my memory.

In a recess, in the chapel of Our Lady, I found the objects of my search.
My sister, who was the first to recognise me, threw herself into my arms
with a half-suppressed sob. Poor girl, the past week had been a fateful
one for her, as for many a maiden besides whose life's promise had been
blighted that day at Mordialloc; for there, on the chancel floor, wrapped
in his long grey military cloak, his eyes closed, and the deadly pallor
of his face contrasting strongly with the deep jet of his hair and
moustache, lay her lover, unconscious of all around. He had received his
death wound while charging with his regiment in the morning, and had been
sent up with the first party of wounded early in the day. My father,
looking, I thought, years older than when I saw him last, was kneeling by
Hastings, reciting, in low tones, the prayers for the dying.

But I must not dwell longer on a scene which revives such harrowing

Some hours after midnight I was awakened with a touch on the shoulder
from the heavy sleep into which I had fallen from sheer exhaustion. It
was my father, come to announce the end. I got up at once, and in a
moment was at my old friend's side. As I knelt and took his cold hand in
my own, he opened his eyes, and a faint smile of recognition flitted over
his countenance. It was his last. With his head resting on the shoulder
of his betrothed, and her name upon his lips, he passed away, just as the
faint streaks of dawn began to steal through the cathedral windows. It
was the morning of their bridal day.

With a sinking heart I turned away from the painful scene, and passing
along the aisle, soon found myself in the open air. The sun was already
above the horizon; a cool breeze from the bay had succeeded the
oppressive north wind; and the birds were twittering joyously in the
trees which grew in the cathedral enclosure. In the grey of the morning,
everything looked so cheerful and matter-of-fact, that, for a moment, I
felt tempted to doubt the reality of the scenes I had so lately
witnessed: the crowds at Flemington, the sudden alarm, the marching and
counter-marching, the night bivouac at Mordialloc, the battle, the
flight, the death of Hastings--all passed before me as if they were but
the phantoms of a disordered brain.

Suddenly the distant rattle of musketry put an end to my reverie. Nearer
and nearer it came, louder and louder, and intermingled with the din the
exulting shouts of the rapidly advancing foe. Our worst forebodings had
come to pass--the Chinese were in the town.

Here, with the shores of my beloved native land again looming into sight,
I must draw this brief narrative to a close. Some future day, should I
survive the coming struggle, sufficient leisure may be afforded me to
complete the task I have here so imperfectly essayed.

I would fain have recorded, with all the fulness the subject deserves,
how stubbornly the cathedral was held against the Chinese hordes for
seven long hours, and how, among the many lives sacrificed on that
terrible day, was that of my dear father, struck down by a bullet while
ministering to the needs of the wounded. Not till the Archduke entered
the town with his Russian troops, and restored order, did we capitulate.

Our city in flames, our people slaughtered by the thousand, our fleet
captured or sunk, and all hope of succour gone, there was nothing for it
but to drink the cup of humiliation to its very dregs.

One after another the other colonies fell before the invaders, till--of
the mighty continent which had hitherto owned our mastery--we could not
call a single foot our own.

For myself, as for many others of my fellow-countrymen, accustomed as we
had so long been to breathe the air of freedom, the galling yoke of our
new masters proved so intolerable a burden that we made our way, in the
course of a few months, to the old country. There we found a respite from
all we had undergone, and there, before the year was out, I laid my
broken-hearted sister to rest in a quiet old Devonshire churchyard.

It may be that in the days to come another Australia shall arise to take
the place of the old, clearer of vision than we, and wiser through our
mistakes. But, however that may be, I can never recall to mind the
closing scenes in our national history without the most bitter and
unavailing regrets, that a career so brilliant, and a future so full of
promise, should have thus been wantonly flung away.

* * *

Edgerton and Moore, Printers, 48 Flinders-lane East, Melbourne.


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