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I've been away from my desk for quite a lot of this month so there have been no books posted to the PGA site. There are a number of eboooks in the pipeline which will soon be put online.
Because I have not been at my desk I have not prepared any 'News and
Reviews' items this month. The articles below have been taken directly
from 'The Treasure Chest', a page of articles that I have penned over the
years. You can read the entire page at
If you have already read them, then you may want to skip this section and proceed to the Poetry and Quotations.
'Kanga Creek' by Havelock Ellis at http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks03/0300801.txt is one of those hidden treasures that we at Project Gutenberg Australia are so good at unearthing. "Wasn't Ellis a sexologist?" you might ask. Well, yes, he was. However, he spent a year in Australia when only 20 years old, where he penned this charming "bush idyll". Percival Serle in his biography of Ellis in The 'Dictionary of Australian Biography' (http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks15/1500721h/0-dict-biogE.html#ellis2) states that 'Kanga Creek' belongs to Australian literature, and has been called "the most delightful of bush idylls".
The storyline is simple enough: a young man spends a year in a bush school in New South Wales, Australia. The descriptions of the bush; the sense of isolation, but not loneliness; the feeling of the joy of life; the gentle romance with an acquaintance; are all quite magic. And, at the beginning of the book, Ellis provides some background to the book's creation and publishing history.
The book arrived at Project Gutenberg Australia thanks to a volunteer, but I did not read it immediately. Then, when working on Serle's Dictionary of Australian Biography I recalled that we had the book and decided to take a look. I had just bought an ebook reader and 'Kanga Creek' seemed the perfect candidate for a trial of the reader. However, one doesn't need an ebook reader. Just open the file and discover for yourself the delightful 'Kanga Creek: An Australian Idyll.'
The Sources of History
In the Introduction to 'A Source Book of Australian History' at
http://gutenberg.net.au/pgaus.html#swinburne Gwendolen H. Swinburne notes that:--
"The number of events described in a Source Book must necessarily be smaller than that in histories of another type; but the aim is to place the student in contact with the evidence of history in order that he may become his own historian by drawing his own deductions from the contemporary records. The greatest historian can find no materials ulterior to such as are here presented, for there is nothing ulterior to them but the deeds themselves. They are the records written by the men who gave their life and health to lay the foundation of Australia's greatness--by Phillip, weakening under the racking cares of the infant state; by Sturt in the scorching desert, as the last duty of an exhausting day. They are aglow with the heat of action; they are inspiring in their quiet modesty and strength."
Many of the sources quoted by Swinburne are available, in full, from Project Gutenberg Australia via The Project Gutenberg Library of Australiana http://gutenberg.net.au/pgaus.html. The Library includes works by Dampier, Cook, Flinders, Sturt, Stuart and Forest and a number of other land and sea explorers. Also included are works by Arthur Phillip, first Governor of New South Wales, and Watkin Tench, David Collins and John White, who arrived with the first fleet. These, together with other first hand accounts of the early days in New South Wales and Victoria, are the sources of Australian history. As Swinburne asserts, "there is nothing ulterior to them but the deeds themselves."
From Dr Widger's Library at http://www.gutenberg.net.au/widger/home.html
The following quotes are selected from Following the Equator by Mark Twain, published in 1898, http://www.gutenberg.org/files/2895/2895.txt and relate to Twain's visit to Australia.
* * * * *
So we moved south with a westward slant, 17 hours by rail to the capital of the colony of Victoria, Melbourne--that juvenile city of sixty years, and half a million inhabitants. On the map the distance looked small; but that is a trouble with all divisions of distance in such a vast country as Australia. The colony of Victoria itself looks small on the map--looks like a county, in fact--yet it is about as large as England, Scotland, and Wales combined. Or, to get another focus upon it, it is just 80 times as large as the state of Rhode Island, and one-third as large as the State of Texas.
* * *
The tickets were round-trip ones--to Melbourne, and clear to Adelaide in South Australia, and then all the way back to Sydney. Twelve hundred more miles than we really expected to make; but then as the round trip wouldn't cost much more than the single trip, it seemed well enough to buy as many miles as one could afford, even if one was not likely to need them. A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs.
* * *
Now comes a singular thing: the oddest thing, the strangest thing, the most baffling and unaccountable marvel that Australasia can show. At the frontier between New South Wales and Victoria our multitude of passengers were routed out of their snug beds by lantern-light in the morning in the biting-cold of a high altitude to change cars on a road that has no break in it from Sydney to Melbourne! Think of the paralysis of intellect that gave that idea birth; imagine the boulder it emerged from on some petrified legislator's shoulders. It is a narrow-gage road to the frontier, and a broader gauge thence to Melbourne. The two governments were the builders of the road and are the owners of it. One or two reasons are given for this curious state of things. One is, that it represents the jealousy existing between the colonies--the two most important colonies of Australasia. What the other one is, I have forgotten. But it is of no consequence. It could be but another effort to explain the inexplicable.
* * *
We changed cars. This was at Albury. And it was there, I think, that the growing day and the early sun exposed the distant range called the Blue Mountains. Accurately named. "My word!" as the Australians say, but it was a stunning color, that blue. Deep, strong, rich, exquisite; towering and majestic masses of blue--a softly luminous blue, a smouldering blue, as if vaguely lit by fires within. It extinguished the blue of the sky--made it pallid and unwholesome, whitey and washed-out. A wonderful color--just divine.
* * *
From reading Australian books and talking with the people, I became
convinced that the aboriginal tracker's performances evince a craft, a
penetration, a luminous sagacity, and a minuteness and accuracy of
observation in the matter of detective-work not found in nearly so
remarkable a degree in any other people, white or colored. In an official account of the blacks of Australia published by the government of Victoria, one reads that the aboriginal not only notices the faint marks left on the bark of a tree by the claws of a climbing opossum, but knows in some way or other whether the marks were made to-day or yesterday.
The bishop sat in lordly state and purple cap sublime,
And galvanized the old bush church at Confirmation time.
And all the kids were mustered up from fifty miles around,
With Sunday clothes, and staring eyes, and ignorance profound.
Now was it fate, or was it grace, whereby they yarded too
An overgrown two-storey lad from Tangmalangaloo?
A hefty son of virgin soil, where nature has her fling,
And grows the trefoil three feet high and mats it in the spring;
Where mighty hills uplift their heads to pierce the welkin's rim,
And trees sprout up a hundred feet before they shoot a limb;
There everything is big and grand, and men are giants too--
But Christian Knowledge wilts, alas, at Tangmalangaloo.
The bishop summed the youngsters up, as bishops only can;
He cast a searching glance around, then fixed upon his man.
But glum and dumb and undismayed through every bout he sat;
He seemed to think that he was there, but wasn't sure of that.
The bishop gave a scornful look, as bishops sometimes do,
And glared right through the pagan in from Tangmalangaloo.
"Come, tell me, boy," his lordship said in crushing tones severe,
"Come, tell me why is Christmas Day the greatest of the year?
"How is it that around the world we celebrate that day
"And send a name upon a card to those who're far away?
"Why is it wandering ones return with smiles and greetings, too?"
A squall of knowledge hit the lad from Tangmalangaloo.
He gave a lurch which set a-shake the vases on the shelf,
He knocked the benches all askew, up-ending of himself.
And so, how pleased his lordship was, and how he smiled to say,
"That's good, my boy. Come, tell me now; and what is Christmas Day?"
The ready answer bared a fact no bishop ever knew--
"It's the day before the races out at Tangmalangaloo.
Around The Boree Log and Other Verses
by John O'Brien (Patrick Joseph Hartigan 1879-1952)
A list of all the books we provide is available from http://gutenberg.net.au/plusfifty.html
Check there to see if there are other works by the authors listed below
There were no books posted during May as I was away from my desk for quite a lot of the month.
Newsletter Editor: Colin Choat.
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