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Chapter XIX.

“Piccalily,” or Mr Joseph Stubble's “oration.”

AFTER addressing the chairman and the audience in proper style, Mr Stubble said:—“I have heard a good many gentlemen speechify on platforms of late years, and I have noticed that it has been a fashion with most of them to make a soft apology first and foremost, as if 'em were ashamed of what they were going to say. I shall not copy them to-night, because I don't like sham of any sort, and I bean't going to say or do anything that will offend any one, if I know it. I did not seek this honourable position. Not at all. I was persuaded into it, like a simple yokel who takes a shilling from a recruiting-sergeant and sells himself for a soldier, and afterwards is very sorry over the bargain. No doubt I should feel more happy just now if I were in my barn husking maize, or mending my broken bullock yoke; but here I be, and as it bean't natural for a Briton to desert his post of duty or danger, depend upon it I shall not run away till I have said my say, unless you all run away from me, which it bean't unlikely you will do, if you have come here expecting to hear an oration.

“I feel myself in a like quandary that I have seen other modest men fixed through the over-zeal of their friends in trumpeting them into public notice. I have known some good humble-minded men to be regularly broken down through being what is called “cracked up” high above their natural level. They were men of fair abilities no doubt, and would have got along cleverly enough in their own quiet groove; but they are either forced or coaxed out of it, same as I be now, and puffed up in advertisements and in great big placards, so that folks, who went to hear them lecture or preach expecting something extra wonderful, were disappointed, and perhaps they showed it by their scowling looks, which would act like a shovelful of snow on the speaker's fluttering heart. The efforts of the poor fellow to wriggle up to the standard which his friends had hoisted far too high, were more than his


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mere ordinary brain could bear, and in a few months he has sunk under the over-pressure. Thus, many good, earnest men have been killed, as it were, by the kindness of a few friends, who had either over-rated the powers of their pets, or else were unscrupulously anxious to draw a host to their tabernacle or their lecture-room; like the waterman in Sydney, t'other day, who advertised a shark as big as a brewer's horse, to be seen for threepence, in a tent rigged up on the Circular Quay, and after all it was only a dog-fish not much bigger than a cod.

“Now, let me tell you, friends, that I did not call my rigmarole to-night an oration, though it is printed so on all the walls in town. I bean't an orator no more than I be a conjurer. I told the gentlemen who asked me to come here, that I would try to give a plain common-sense discourse, and bade them not to dignify it with the name of a lecture. They said they wouldn't; and so, in order to be extra-modest, they have called it an ‘oration!’—Ha, ha, ha! Well, friends, I can't help it, as the old woman said when the cow kicked her. I shall do my best to please you, and if you bean't satisfied when I have done, you had better ask the gentleman at the door to give you back your shillings.”

Loud cheering followed Mr Stubble's preliminary remarks, and vociferous clapping by a nest of boys up in a far corner, one of whom shouted out, “Bravo! mixed pickles!”

“Aye, boy,” said Mr Stubble, smiling, “you'll get some mixed pickles before your head is as gray as mine; but you needn't be scared beforehand, perhaps they won't hurt you no more than hailstones can hurt a turtle. The lightning-stroke does not shiver every tree in the bush, nor the water-spout doesn't burst over every man's home, you know. But I am going to try to show you how you may avoid some of life's unpalatable pickles; so I hope you boys will behave like men, and not make too much noise with your hands and feet, nor with your tongues either. Applause is pleasant enough, but too much of it is apt to upset a weak head.

“You have all heard the old story of the fox who lost his tail in a steel trap, and then went back to his brother foxes and tried to persuade them to get their tails docked in the same way. Now, if I tell my tale of city life, it bean't because I want any of you plain country folks to go to town and get docked too, but to warn you against some of the man-traps that I have been caught in. This will be a


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sufficient excuse, I think, if I talk a good deal about myself to-night.”

Mr Stubble then told them as briefly as possible how he landed in Sydney, nearly a quarter of a century ago, with five pounds in his pocket; how he worked hard, and saved all the money he could, and how, through possessing a small capital, he had suddenly risen to be his own master; and, finally, of his removal to the metropolis with a moderate fortune. He acknowledged the mistake he made in the latter step, and argued the policy of a man stopping in the district where he had risen up or made his fortune, for in general his influence for good would be greater there than it would be elsewhere.

“I bean't much of a political economist,” continued Joe; “still, I think it is only common sense for a man to be as careful where he locates himself as he would be in looking out for a market for his wares, if he had any to sell. No Sydney merchant would ever think of sending anchors and cables up to Bathurst for sale, or butter and bacon to this district, nor they would not be likely to send coal-scuttles and fire-irons to Fiji or Tonga, where there are no chimneys at all in the houses. There may sometimes be good reasons why a countryman should go to live in the city, but, as a general thing, he will find that the country is the fittest and the safest place for him. He may have some ground for thinking himself a rather important man in his rural neighbourhood, but he will feel his importance shrink up like burnt bladders if he goes to live in the city, unless his experience should be different to mine, or unless his bump of self-esteem should be bigger than ordinary.

“ ‘Every man to his trade,’ is a good old motto, and many men have suffered through slighting it. Suppose a plain hard-working farmer, for instance, should take it into his head to turn parson, or doctor, or lawyer, or literary man; I don't say anything against the thing—it may be a commendable ambition, or some higher motive, that prompted it; but he does not always count the cost to himself. He must necessarily study hard to fit himself for his new duties, and he will soon begin to find that it is not such a rosy life as he thought it was. The change from the plough-tail to the desk will most likely upset his digestive affairs, and then he will begin to think that the world is going round the wrong way, or that ‘Old Boggy’ has been playing tricks with


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his brain, or has turned his liver into bees'-wax; and a hundred other queer fancies will get into his mind in spite of all his logic. If he has got real “grit” in him, as the Yankees say, and he sticks to his studies, and after a time is moderately successful in his new vocation, he must pay for popularity in harder coins than sovereigns. He will most likely catch pen and ink from professional critics, and friends and neighbours will chafe his tenderest parts in the name of pity and sympathy; and if his “grit” is not as hard as blue road-metal, he will wish he could exchange all his honour and glory for a bark hut in the bush, and a shingle-splitter's licence. Take my word for it, friends, if a farmer thinks he has superior sense in his head, he had better use it to improve his farm or his live stock, and not be too ready to leave his own legitimate occupation to study for any profession or calling of a sedentary kind. That remark will apply to others as well as to farmers. The mason had better stick to his mallet and pickaxe, and not seek to be an architect; and the sailor had better stick to his ship, and not set up as a schoolmaster, or an editor, unless he should happen to be unseaworthy, and then, of course, he must earn his junk the best way he can, poor fellow!

“Some farmers that I know have fancied it was easier work to sell country produce than to raise it, and they have started as commission-agents; but I never met with one man who was half as happy in his city store as he used to be on his farm. He usually looked as uncomfortable as an old cockatoo in a hen-coop. Perhaps not more than one man in a dozen has made money by the change; and some of them have lost their money and their morals too.

“I don't know if any of your friends have ever seen a very fat sailor; that is to say, a regular working jack-tar. I never saw one, though I have seen lots of rolling fat captains and mates. Nor I don't remember ever seeing a very flabby-looking ploughman; and that convinces me that hard wholesome work is essential to robust health. I don't mean to say that fat men are not sometimes healthy and happy too, but if I had my choice, I would far sooner have the nerves and the digestive powers of a common sailor or a ploughman than those of a fat skipper, who never thinks of going aloft, or of hauling on to a tackle-fall; or those of a portly landlord, who never handles a plough, and who but seldom handles anything else heavier than a carving-knife and fork, or a cut-glass decanter.




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“It bean't always an easy thing to make young folks agree with the logic of hard labour, or to believe that a trade is the best thing for them, but I believe that it is so in a general way. I have heard tell that the ancient Jews used to say that ‘a boy was either training for a trade or for a thief;’ so they gave most of their sons trades. You know the great apostle Paul was a tentmaker. I bean't going to be so hard upon the boys as the old Jews were, for I am sure there are hosts of honest boys who are not learning trades; still, a trade is a good thing to depend on,—as handy as a sheet-anchor is to a ship. There are many parents in the colony now who are sadly perplexed what to do with their sons, who are just leaving college or school; and there are lots of smart lads who have no employment. When I lived in town I was often applied to by parents to get their sons into situations—‘government billets’ were usually preferred; but they were not easy to get, for there were always scores of names on the lists for fresh openings. A lady called on me one day, and asked me what I could recommend her to do with her son, a fine, big, strapping lad, about sixteen years of age. I found out that he had a turn for handling tools of all sorts, so I advised the lady to make an engineer of him. Ha, ha, ha! I shall never forget how shocked she was, and how she stared at me.

“ ‘My son has been well educated, sir,’ she said; ‘and I think he is fit for something better than a mere blacksmith.’

“I explained that an engineer had not so much to do with hammer and tongs as a blacksmith, still, it certainly was a rather smutty trade, and would not agree with delicate fingers. When I asked her if she had ever read Mr Elihu Burritt's ‘Sparks from the Anvil,’ she said she had read nothing of the sort; so I told her that Mr Burritt was at one time a blacksmith, but now he is a famous writer and a very learned man; that the sparks from his bright brain have scattered all over the world, and doubtless have edified millions of persons who have read his books. I also told her of lots of gentlemen in England, now lights in the land, who were at one time mechanics of some sort, and I tried to persuade her that the more education her son had, the better it was for him, whatever calling or occupation he chose. But the lady could not see the sense of my arguments at all; she looked as cross at me as if I had advised her to make her boy a bushranger; and off


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she went with her precious son Tom tucked under her arm, and Tom himself looked as if he would like to drop a blacksmith's big hammer on my toes. Soon afterwards I heard that she had got him into an office,—made a clerk of him,—which is like doing all she can to make a poor dependent drudge of him all the days of his life; for of all the underpaid, over-worked men in the colony, I believe that clerks are the worst: of course I speak of them generally. As a class, they are gentlemen; so it is natural for them to wish to live above the common, and to bring their children up respectably; and how they do it often puzzles me more than it does to guess how all the lawyers in Sydney get their living.

“But notwithstanding the palpable fact, that clerks are getting less pay every year, and that at the present time there are scores of them out of employment, and anxious to get into berths at almost any low rate of pay, many persons are desirous of getting their sons into offices, even without a salary, in preference to giving them some useful handicraft which may make them independent men; for an honest, steady mechanic can generally insure a comfortable living, which a clerk cannot do. Notwithstanding all the difficulties of competing with foreign manufacturers, and granted that much can he said on the subject, I believe that we shall eventually become a great manufacturing nation. Who can doubt it when they see the progress which colonial manufactures are making in the present day, despite all the drawbacks against which they have to cope? The learned professions are in danger of being over-stocked, and evils are likely to arise therefrom which would take me too long even to hint at; besides, you know, it bean't very safe for the like of me to talk much about learned men. I say firmly, that if I had half-a-dozen boys, and they were all strong and healthy, I would in the first place give them the best education I could afford, and then either make farmers, or sailors, or mechanics of them. If any of them afterwards showed that they had got superior intellect, depend on it they would find their proper niche in the world, however high up it might be; and they could take a start upwards from the plough, or the work-bench, or the main-deck, same as hundreds of mighty men have done. The currency lads are real climbers. I never could nail up a paling high enough to keep them out of my orchard when the plums and peaches were ripe; but I must say they were boys of the buck-jumping sort, who had never been to school to learn morals or


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manners. Now that schools are springing up all through the bush, they will be taught to behave better.

“ ‘What are we to do with our girls, sir?’ asked a voice from the centre of the hall.

“I have not quite finished polishing the boys,” replied Mr Stubble; “but perhaps I had better notice the girls a little, for some of them are jealous little pussies, and will very likely think they ought to have been served first. It is a puzzling thing to tell you what to do with your girls, without a few weeks' consideration; however, you cannot do better than give them a good education,—not merely make them ‘accomplished,’ as it is called now-a-days, but give them good, solid, sensible schooling, and a thorough home training as well. Bring them up to be tidy, economical housewives; that is essential, whatever else you make of them. A woman who does not know how to bake a loaf, or cook a joint of meat, or wash a shirt, would be a shocking poor helpmate to a man either in town or country, even though she could play the piano like fury, and talk French like Mrs Napoleon. And be sure you look well after your girls so long as they are under your rule; for they require as much watchful care as young lambs do in a drooping season. The enormities which frequently occur—and which no decent language can describe—is saddening proof of the necessity for that precaution.

“And when they have grown up to blushing womanhood, don't part with the dear darlings to Thomas, Richard, or Henry, however plausibly they may ‘pop the question,’ or however demure they may look over it, until you are assured that they are sober and industrious,—in short, that they possess sterling religious principle. I have seen parents exercise less commonsense judgment in deciding upon a husband for their daughter than they would use in the purchase of a cart-horse; indeed, I have known parents to give a girl away to a man whom they would not trust with a five-pound note. Mind you keep profligate, raking dandies away from your homes, whatever you do, or they will do all they can, in an underhand way, to crush your hearts with sorrow. It is not lawful or right to serve them as you serve hawks that hover above your chicken-coops; but there is a moral influence which will scare such human hawks even more effectually than dread of physical wounds and bruises. Train your children up in the ‘fear of the Lord,’ and that ‘will save them from a thousand snares.’ Satan can't do them


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any real harm if they humbly trust in Almighty God for guidance.

“While the youngsters are under the home roof, you parents should set them an example of godliness and temperance; you must not expect too much from them if you neglect that important duty. None of us farmers hope to reap a crop of wheat if we have not ploughed up the ground and put in the seed. And when your children go out into the world, do not fail to warn them against the common danger of tippling. Most of us old fellows know something of that tyrannical habit from bitter experience; and all of us—aye, even the stone blind—can trace the evil effects of it in every part of the land. To send a boy or a girl away from home to begin life without warning them against that dangerous vice, is ten times worse folly than starting a team along a rough road without linch-pins in the wheels. I believe that there are cart-loads of bones bleaching in the bush which would this day carry living men and women if it had not been for the fatal influence of strong drink. I specially commend that horrible fact to the sober reflection of merchants and importers of the article, and also to some of their customers who do a good deal in the ‘doctoring’ line. It is murder in the sight of God to put poison in a rum keg, just as wilful as firing a revolver at a man's head, or stabbing him in the back with a knife. Train your children to be ‘temperate in all things.’ Bid them ‘avoid temptation where they can, and when they cannot do that, to shun it.’ Those are two golden maxims, but my head did not make them; so you need not begin to think I am a sage. ‘Temperance puts wood on the fire, meal in the barrel, money in the purse, contentment in the house, clothes on the children, vigour on the body, intelligence in the brain, and spirit in the whole constitution.’ Intemperance is—but I cannot attempt a description of it. If any of you would like to see some clusters of its sad fruits, go any day to the soup kitchen in Sydney; or to the ‘Sunday morning breakfasts for poor outcasts,’ at the Temperance Hall; or to Mr George Lucas's night refuge for the destitute, in Francis Street.

“If you send your young daughters up to Sydney to service or to work in shops, be careful what sort of masters and mistresses you entrust them with, and insist upon it that they do have the run of the streets at night. Bid them shun those evening dancing saloons and singing shops as they would shun


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a dead-house, with fever-stricken corpses in it. Caution them against reading books of a silly sentimental character, which will tend to make lackadaisical nawnies of your girls, and soft spoonies of your boys: let them read solid, sensible books, that will help to make men and women of them; and give them a light innocent tale occasionally, if you like, as a sort of moral lollipop for being good children and minding their studies.”

Mr Stubble gave a good many more useful hints to the girls, and then he thus addressed the lads in the far corner:—“Boys, I am going to talk to you again, for I am afraid you are going to sleep. Listen to what I say now: never talk slang, boys, not even in fun, or it may soon grow into a habit, and a very vulgar one too, which no young corn-stalk ought to encourage. I will tell you a little story of a cockney cabman who lost a fare through his confirmed slangy habit. One day, a very stately old lady beckoned a cab from a stand in London, and asked the driver what he would charge to take her to the Bank.

“ ‘You shall go for a bob, marm,’ said cabby, opening the door of his vehicle. The old lady, who did not understand the slang name for a shilling, was naturally vexed at being told she should go for a Bob, which was a common man's name. The cabman, who was anxious for the job, thought she was demurring at his charge, so he said, ‘Well, jump in, marm, I'll take you for a tanner.’ ‘Take me for a tanner!’ exclaimed the lady, looking indignantly at the poor cabman, who could not tell why she was so cross. ‘What do you mean, you impudent fellow? I will not ride in your cab at all.’ Off went the lady, vexed enough at being taken for a bob and a tanner, and in her fine silk dress too, and wondering no doubt what the man meant, for she was not aware that a ‘tanner’ was the slang name for sixpence.

“Thus you see the cabman offended a good customer. Don't you use slang phrases, boys, or you will certainly offend all those friends who hear you who have any claim to good taste. Another thing I would warn you against is smoking. Boys, don't learn to smoke, and then you will never know the difficulty of conquering the craving for the pipe when you grow up to be old men. I know many poor old smoky fellows who would give a small slice off each of their ears if that would effectually cure them of the slavish habit. Some people affirm that smoking is a sin, but I don't put it to you in that


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shape; I advise you, on the ground of expediency, to abstain from what may very likely become a passion, and you know, boys, that ‘if we do not subdue our passions, they will subdue us.’ A pious old sailor was much troubled, after being told by a rabid anti-tobacco man that smoking was sinful in the sight of God; so old Jack began to pray about it, as he did about all his concerns, great and small. While he was on his knees he fancied this answer came into his mind (it was mere fancy of course), ‘You may smoke your pipe in moderation, Jack; but don't grumble when you have got no 'baccy.’ The grumbling may be sinful, but I don't believe that smoking is; nevertheless, I say to you again, boys, don't learn to smoke.”

Just then there was a general titter among the audience near to the platform, and the chairman waggishly whispered to the lecturer that the stem of his pipe was sticking out of his waistcoat pocket. Mr Stubble laughed, and then remarked, “I own I be preaching what I don't practise, and that is the way of the world, as I have pretty often found it: still, my advice may be the more valuable, as it is clear that I speak from experience. I have often thought that if some good-natured old smoker had given me a gentle caution when I was a boy, that I should not have begun to acquire the dirty habit; and that is the reason why I warn youngsters whenever I have a chance. If I had thought of it, though, I would have left my pipe at home to-night.

“Another thing I want to say to you, boys: don't gamble! If I were able to describe a scene which I saw with my own eyes in Sydney, a short time ago, I think it would make each boy up in the corner yonder say to himself, this very minute, ‘I'll never gamble, and break my poor mother's heart.’ I saw an old widow lady, just after her only son was taken out of her house one night by detectives, who had a warrant charging him with embezzling money from his employer, to pay ‘debts of honour!’ I shall never forget that poor lady's intense sorrow, nor the unhappy lad's look of despair, as the policemen were putting the handcuffs on him.

“Horse-racing is perhaps the most popular form of gambling now-a-days. It would take me a week to tell you even the half of the mischief I have seen and heard of through that alluring bait which Satan has set up in his trap-road to ruin. It is right enough, no doubt, to improve the breed of horses; but for all really useful purposes nobody wants his


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horse to go ahead at the rate of an express engine. None but drunken fools care to ride or drive through the streets at full gallop. I mean to say that it isn't dignified nor sensible of the great gentlemen and ladies of the land to patronise races on purpose to encourage the breeding of fast horses, for these furious riders or drivers to knock down or run over poor helpless old folks or young children, which often happens in the streets of Sydney. I would suggest that the most common-sense way of improving the breed of the noble animal, for really practical ends, would be to have occasional trials of strength between draught horses, in lieu of races: there would be far less gambling over that fun, and less cruelty too; besides, most of us plain farmers could have a go at it if we liked. I don't suppose that many ‘book-makers,’ or other professional turfites, will approve of my plan, and some of the jockeys may feel inclined to argue the point with me by hitting me over the head with a stirrup-iron, or sticking a spur into my leg; still, there is the hint for them, and whether they take it or not, I hope some of you boys up there will take my serious advice, and resolve not to go to races at all, lest you should catch the betting mania, which has desolated so many hearts and homes in this land and elsewhere.”

Mr Stubble then warmly congratulated both boys and girls on the facilities they had for gaining a useful education, and contrasted the disadvantages of the times when he went to school. After a few comical reminiscences of his school-mistress, old Dame Duddle, and her primitive system of teaching her pupils to spell, which was all she could do herself, he remarked, “It is a wise movement of our Government to establish schools throughout the country. We had better pay schoolmasters than policemen; it is far better to build school-houses than lock-ups and gaols, and we must do either one or the other to keep our spirited boys and girls in order. If we educate them properly, they will pay us back with good interest,—they will help to find out for us what this great land is made of; but if we neglect that duty, depend on it they will make us pay for it by and bye, and perhaps make us smart for it too. I know the value of education from the lack of it, and if it were proposed to compel careless parents to send their children to a school of some sort, I would hold up my hand for it, although I be no advocate for ‘interfering with the honest liberties of the subject.’ I mean to say that parents have no more right, looking at it in one sense, to rear


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up children as ignorant as the blacks in the bush, than they have to keep a lot of young lions loose about their homesteads, to the danger or injury of their neighbours. I daresay some mothers will be cross with me for saying all that, but, bless their hearts! I don't want to hurt their children,—not a bit of it; I want to do them good, poor things!”

Mr Stubble next alluded in a piquant style to the overtrading disposition of city folks in general, and explained a good many of the sleight-of-hand manœuvres that are sometimes used for “raising the wind,” which made some of his rustic hearers look as much surprised as if the shingles above their heads had begun to whirl about like butterflies. “There are too many petty traders by half in Sydney,” continued Mr Stubble; “and that is the reason why we so often hear the cry of ‘bad times.’ Hundreds of great strong fellows are trying to eke out a precarious living by hawking wares of some sort or other, instead of working at their trades, or going into the country and doing something towards making themselves independent, and, at the same time, contributing to the general wealth of the community. Whenever I see an able-bodied man lolling behind a fruit-stall in the street, I feel inclined to upset his concern, and bid the lazy fellow go to work and leave the fruit and lollipop trade to poor old men or women who are past hard labour.”

Mr Stubble then touched upon a variety of other topics of city life, including some of his costly experience in the law courts. He thought it was a great hardship on jurors to be forced to leave their own business to sit, perhaps for a week or more, to decide between two litigants, over a matter not worth twopence-halfpenny, and of no real interest to anybody beside the legal gentlemen concerned. He said, a merry lawyer once told him that “the best counsel for both plaintiff and defendant was, Don't go to law;” but the lawyer did not tell him that until after he had been at law, and had lost by it. Mr Stubble's illustrations and incidents were more varied than I have reported them, and his audience heartily appreciated all he said. Even Dundreary seemed to be amused; he dropped his eye-glass, and began to look at the speaker in a pleasant natural way. Peggy's black eyes sparkled with pleasure and pride at seeing her Joe get on so bravely, and that he did not break down or bolt out at the back-door, as she had dreaded he would do before he warmed up to his work.

After talking for more than an hour, Mr Stubble looked at


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his watch, and remarked “that he must wind himself up, for it was getting late,” whereupon there were loud shouts of “Go on, sir, go on!” and the boys at the back shouted, “More Piccalily,” and other merry expressions, which stimulated him to stand up a little longer.

“I think I heard one of you boys cry out, ‘Give us a gerkin!’ ” continued Joe. “Well, here is one for you, and I hope it won't set your teeth on edge. I have noticed that many of you youngsters crowd round the doors of the church on Sundays before the service begins, to the annoyance of quiet persons, and especially to ladies. Now, let me tell you boys, kindly but seriously, that such conduct is highly unbecoming in young Australian gentlemen who have had a Sunday-school training. There might be some excuse for the little ragamuffins in the street, if they were to do it, because they have never been taught to do better; but in you it is inexcusable. I should like to give another gerkin, or a little pickled pepper, to some of the older folks, who are so fond of hob-nobbing in the church porch after the service is over; but I have not time for it now. A man cannot treat all the nuisances of social life in one night.”

The gentleman in the audience who had previously spoken, then stood up and asked Mr Stubble to give them a little of his parliamentary experience.

Joe smiled and said, “There bean't much time to go into that concern to-night, though it would not take me long to tell you all my doings in the House. The good I did was of what is called a negative kind; that is, I took care not to do much harm. I used to sit still, and keep my eyes and ears open, except when I dozed off to sleep. I daresay I could tell you a thing or two that would make you feel sorry, only it bean't fair to tell tales out of school.

“If I were asked to state, in the fewest possible words, my experienced opinion of the great requirements of this country. I should say, ‘We want good legislation and emigration,’ and if I could make my voice heard through the length and breadth of the land, I would recommend the people in general to use their common sense in selecting wise representatives, and not to send men into Parliament who are no more fit for the responsible post than I was myself. Suppose now that any of you farmers were going to buy a cow for the dairy, you would certainly take a good look at her first of all; and perhaps you would try to find out her milking qualities from


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some of the neighbours around who knew her. I'll wager you would not buy a cow on sight-unseen. You would not pay out your money for a scraggy old crawler, with her udder as dry as a night-cap; nor you would not take one that was rolling fat, and only fit for the butcher. Not you indeed! And surely it is but reasonable for you to look well at the character and qualities of the men whom you appoint to represent your interests and to guard your rights. If merely for the sake of yourselves and your families, you should do that; but it is only fair and right to do something to advance the interests of the land you live in, and you cannot do anything better than to elect good, honest, clever men, to govern it properly. Then I say, let every man Jack of us in the land (for we have all got a vote), do our duty, and at the next general election use our vote with judgment, and by all honest means try to keep little-brained men like myself out of the House, for they are no more use there than a lot of old wooden-legged soldiers would be on board of an iron-clad frigate. There are some really noble men among our present rulers, and there is no scarcity of sterling talent to form a Parliament worthy of this great country, if a careful selection were made. If we neglect to exercise our common sense in this important matter, we deserve to be taxed up to our necks, and to see our money fooled away: that's all I've got to say about it.

“And if I could shout out louder still, so that my voice would echo round Cape Horn to the old country, wouldn't I tickle the ears of the thousands of honest men and women there who are toiling and pinching and wearing themselves out for a meagre livelihood! I would so. I'd say to them with hearty goodwill, ‘Come over here, friends! Make haste! Here is plenty of room for you, and you may shake off pauperism for ever, and make yourselves independent.’ My heart seems to swell out as big as a water-melon when I think of the lots of happiness there is in store in our wild bush for millions of poor mortals who will be here by and bye, when they are provided with means to come. Then let us do our best to secure wise legislators, friends, and systematic immigration will result as certainly as the young grass and yellow flowers spring up on our mountain-slopes when a general rain-fall comes after a season of drought.”

After that rhetorical effort Mr Stubble took a sip of water, and then in a more reverent tone he said,—“ ‘The earth shall


  ― 428 ―
be filled with the knowledge of God, as the waters cover the sea. I bean't going to give you a sermon, friends; so you need not be feeling for your hats. Preachiug bean't in my line exactly; but I be going to say a dozen words seriously, and then I be done. I have been told that the last words which the late venerable Bishop Broughton uttered was the text which I have just quoted. A wonderfully cheering text it is too. How that divine prediction will be brought about I cannot tell, but it will certainly be so, ‘for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.’ No doubt it will be, in some measure, wrought through human instrumentality, and that we all have a part to take in the great work if we do our duty. Some men seem to think that it is to be done by the power and might of their lungs; but I don't think it is myself—at any rate, I shall not try to do my share in that way. The plough does more work in the world than the thrashing-machine, though it does not make any clatter. Thrashing-machines are useful in their way, though one may be enough for a whole district; but we want at least a couple of ploughs on every farm. I know a few figurative ploughmen in Sydney who are always at work, though nobody hears the noise of them, and I am thinking that in the final day of account, when all our tallies will be made up, some of the great machinemen will be surprised to find that those quiet, unpretending plodders have the largest score of good marks to their names. I cannot stop to polish up that homely figure, for it is getting late; but I will just remark, friends, before I sit down, that it is likely I shall live till I die in this beautiful district. I have made my home here, and I shall try in my humble way to do all the good I can to every one around me. But I mean to be a plough, and do my work quietly. I certainly shall not set up for a thrashing-machine, and you may depend you won't catch me here again as an ‘orator.’ I make no secret of my religious belief nor of my political principles, and I mean to hold my own like a man, I'll never strike my colours to please anybody, or any sect or party. I will support my church and minister, both in a moral and a pecuniary sense, as far as I can, and I will do all I can to hold up the blessed light of God's truth to any poor mortal whom I see groping along in the dark towards the gulf of perdition, and who has no other human friend to guide him. But I bean't going to jar or quarrel or fight with any man because he doesn't think as I think, or do as I do;


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that sort of thing would not tally with my notions of Christianity.

“Friends, I be an Englishman, as you may tell by my lingo; but thank God I have a heart open to feel for a brother man, be he white, black, or copper-coloured. If he is hungry, I'll give him a loaf without asking him first of all what part of the world he was born in. I love my native country dearly, but I am not absurdly clannish. Irishmen and Scotchmen are as dear to me as Englishmen, and here is my hand of fellowship for them, if they be true men. They are Britons like myself, and long may we remain so. May no bitter, seditious spirit ever tarnish our loyalty to one of the most virtuous monarchs that ever wore a royal crown. Long may we unitedly shout ‘God save the Queen!’ Ha, ha, ha! Well done, boys! That was a noble shout! Shout again, all of us, ‘God save the Queen!’ Ha, ha! that warms my heart like woman's love. I can't sing, friends, but I'll talk you the best end of a merry old song to finish up with—

‘May the sons of the Tweed, of the Thames, and the Shannon,
Drub the foes that dare plant on their confines a cannon;
United and happy, at loyalty's shrine
May the Rose and the Thistle long flourish and twine,
Round the sprig of Shillelah and Shamrock so green.’ ”

Mr Stubble then sat down amid rapturous cheering and clapping, and shouts of “Bravo, Piccalily!” from the boys at the back. Peggy got so excited that she poked the floor with her umbrella, and made as much noise as two men. There was a short complimentary speech from the chairman, and then, after much shaking of hands, the company dispersed.

As Mr and Mrs Stubble drove homeward in the cart, Peggy was quite enthusiastic in her commendations of her happy spouse; and when Bob rode on ahead to take down the sliprails, she could no longer restrain her feelings; she put her arms round Joe's neck and kissed him twice, and said “her dear old man was ten times more clever than she ever thought he was.”

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