(By "BARTLE FRERE")
There's a damper in the ashes, tea and sugar in the bags, There's whips of feed and shelter on the sandridge for the nags There's gidya wood about us and water close at hand. And just one bottle left yet of the good Glenlivet brand.
There in chops upon the embers, which same are close up done, From as fine a four-tooth wether as there is on crossbreed's run; 'Twas a proverb on the Darl- ing, the truth of which I hold; That mutton's aye the sweetest which was never bought nor sold." Out of fifty thousand wethers surely crossbred should'nt miss A sheep or so to travellers — faith, 'tis dainty mutton, this — Let's drink a nip to crossbred; ah you drain it with a grin Then shove along the billy, mate, and, squatted, let's wade in. The night's a trifle chilly, and the stars are very bright, A heavy dew is falling, but the fly is rigged a'right; You may rest your bones till morning, then, if you chance to wake Give me a call about the time that day-light starts to break. We may not camp to-morrow, for we've many a mile to go 'Ere we turn our horses' heads round to make tracks for down below, There's many a water-course to cross, and many a black soil plain, And many a mile of mulga ridge 'ere we get back again. That time five moons shall wax and wane, we'll fin- ish up the work. Have the bullocks o'er the border and truck e'm down from Bourke, And when they're sold at Homebush, and the agents settled up Sing hey! a spell in Sydney town and Melbourne for the Cup. HARRY MORANT ("The Breaker"). In a mass of newspaper correspondence which ap- peared in the Press of Sydney in the month of April 1902, we find many references to Harry Harboard Morant, who had recently been tried by field general court-mar- tial at Pretoria (South Africa) and had been found guilty of alleged murder of Boer pris- oners of war. The writer found it had to connect the rollicking, reckless "breaker" with the condemned Bush Veldt Carbineer officer. They had known him for many years as the daring rider who had rhymed and ridden, loved and jested from the Gulf of Carpentaria, in North Queensland, to the South Head Lighthouse, near Sydney, in New South Wales. He had been acknowledged by them as the son of an English admiral of the Royal Navy, the drover who had brought his cattle down from the Warrego and Diaman- tina Rivers in Queensland and who had followed the hounds with the Sydney Hunt Club. They had seen him in Syd- ney just two years previously, when he decided to enlist in Adelaide for the second con- tingent of the South Aus- tralian Mounted Rules. They recalled his hard, tanned, de- termined, jovial features aglow with high spirits, his strong capable hands eager for a friendly grip and his husky, cheery voice tuned to the irresistible invitation only a little more battered and more worn after 15 years of cattle droving and horse breaking in the western dis- tricts of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
At the time that Harry Morant enlisted to serve in the South African War he was approaching 36 years. His friends believed that he was then losing his nerve and that he needed a peg or two to screw him up for a stiff mount. The war offered him the chance to go home to Eng- land with glory, with military honours that he had fought for. When the second con- tingent of South Australian Mounted Rifles returned to South Africa, Harry Morant was granted a commission in a troop of irregular horse— the Bushveldt Carbineers. This led on to Harry Mor- ant's unhappy death before a British Army firing party. One correspondent, a resident of South Africa, Mr. Howard Beaton, stated that Morant, Handcock and Witton were made the scapegoats for the sins of the British Army. The Canadian citizen who had been punished with the others in this affair had been amply compensated by the British Government for miscarriage of justice as also had been an American citizen who was concerned. Only the Austra- lians got no compensation. In Morant's case there was
of course, no remedy, but in Handcock's case he left a widow and children at the time of his death and they called for consideration. Lieu- tenant George R. Witton (Australian) had suffered many months' imprisonment and Major R. W. Lenehan (who had absolutely nothing to do with the tragedies, and was not even in their vicin- ity) was subjected to grave indignity, imprisonment and transportation. These Austra- lians (who had served in the South African War) had lacked redress, because the Australian Government had been so careless of its re- sponsibilities to its citizens that it had not asked for com- pensation for what were now admitted to have been cruel wrongs. Mr. Easton also re- lated the steps which had been taken to procure Lieu- tenant Witton's release from prison. A petition had been despatched to London by the South African Release Com- mittee for presentation to King Edward VII, but it was intercepted and never reach- ed him. Finally, a South African merchant, who was an intimate friend of Sir Thomas Upton, put the facts before him for submission to President Roosevelt at the White House in Washington (U.S.A.). It was a circuitous route that led to the fountain of mercy in England 50 years ago. Major J. Francis Thomas, of the New South Wales Bushmen in South Africa, and a solicitor of the Supreme Court practising at Tenterfield, New South Wales, acted as counsel for Harry Morant and others accused at the court martial. This is the letter be wrote to the commanding officer of the prisoners unit, Major R. W. Lenehan, who had return- ed to Australia: "Army Post Office, Pretoria, 27/2/1902. "Dear Major Lenehan, "Have you heard the news— the awful news? Poor Morant and Handcock were shot this morning at 8 a.m. It has broken me up com- pletely. The order was signed yesterday some time, and Lord Kitchener immediately left town and could not be approached. There was no time to do anything, but directly I heard the decision I went to General Kelly, A.A.G., and begged him to ask Lord Kitchener to defer the execution to enable me to cable to England to the King on behalf ot the Austra- lian people for mercy, but he was obdurate, and said the order came from England, and drastically said grave political trouble had been roused (apparently over the Hesse murder in particular). I begged especially for Hand- cock, who was merely present as a veterinary lieutenant when Morant ordered the Boers to be shot for outrages. "I pleaded his want of education and military know- ledge and all that I could plead, but of no avail. Poor Handcock was right when he wrote two months or more ago: 'Our graves were dug before we left the Spelonken.' They were dug; I see it all clearly now, and why. I know what I cannot write in this accursed military - ridden country! My God! Poor Handcock, a brave, true, simple man; and Morant, brave but hot-headed. They took their sentence with mar- vellous braveness. Their pluck astounded all. Poor Hand- cock's only trouble was for his three children. Poor chap. My God! What a cruel thing to shoot him. Edwards (Ad- jutant B.V.G.) and I were with them up to 3 p.m. last night. They are to be buried together in the cemetery this afternoon, and some trusty friends will attend. So will end another act of the tragedy. Witton gets penal servitude for life. Picton is reprieved and cashiered, and they both leave for England first transport. But, I think Witton may be sooner or later released. Morant and Handcock were doomed— politically doomed — through the iniquities of the Court of Inquiry, the proceedings of which got to Germany, I be- lieve. This shooting of Hand- cock, an Australian, is a grave matter and will cause untold bitterness; but if told, let it be told in the right way. "I am full of bitterness. I cannot here express my feel- ings. But when the time comes, if I am spared, I will. I know all that I expect ever will be known, and I am too true an Australian to shirk plain speaking, if need be, and need there will be, I think. What I resented was dragging out a lot of details unless it was essential. I did not contemplate a sudden and
unappealable death sentence. I thought the absolute acquit- tal in the Hesse case would mean at most a term of penal servitude, which could be re- mitted later on. "But, though not guilty. Morant and Handcock have died over that case, because our own (no, not our own al- together) people would have them convicted before a trial. "I will soon follow to Aus- tralia. I feel quite broken up. It is too painful to write about. "Poor, brave fellows, no- thing will worry them again in this world, and if there be another world, God will not think worse of them there than we do, surely. May they rest in peace. Yours sincerely, J. F. THOMAS." When Harry Morant first took up station work in the Gulf country in the year 1885, his first droving contract was for Esmerelda Station, in the Cloncurry district. The dis- tances to adjoining pastoral centres by mail routes during that period were as follows: (a) Cloncurry to Caran- dotta. — Cloncurry to Bridge- water 36 miles, thence to Teddington 43 miles, to Roch- dale 49 miles, to Carandotta 60 miles— total 182 miles. (b) Cloncurry to Floraville. —Cloncurry to Corella N. P. Station 20 miles, thence to Quamba Station 8 miles, to Granada 20 miles, to Coolalah (Colllss) 25 miles, to Kynil larol (Carr and Can) 30 miles, to Lorraine 25 miles, to Augustus Downs 40 miles, to Floraville 26 miles — total 120 miles. (c) Cloncurry and Kynuna Cloncurry to Rochdale 25 miles, thence to Stratfield 30 miles, to Mackinlay's (Beau- desert Station) 15 miles, to Kynuna 50 miles — total 120 miles. (d) Cloncurry to Manoangle — Cloncurry to Rochdale 180 miles, to Headingly 60 miles, to Mandangie 20 miles — total 260 miles. Harry Morant also resided at Hughenden and Winton during his early droving days. The distances from these towns to the other pas- toral centres were as follows: (a) Hughenden and Cartoon —Hughenden to Wongalee 19 miles, thence to Mount Stur- geon SO miles, to Mount Emu Station 15 miles, to Reedy Springs 17 miles, to Cargoon 15 miles — total 112 miles. (b) Hughenden and Rich- mond Downs— Hughenden to Telemon 30 miles, thence to Marathon IS miles, to Rich mond Downs 37 miles— total 82 miles. (c- Richmond Downs and Cloncurry— Richmond Downs to Maxwelton 40 miles, thence to Nclia Ponds 40 miles, to Qullty's Hotel 16 miles, to Manfred 40 miles, to Dalgon ally 15 miles, to Eddlngton 25 miles to LellavUle 26 miles, to Fisher's creek IB miles, to Cloncurry 40 miles— total 296 miles, (d) Richmond Downs to Cloncorry (another route)— Richmond Downs (post office) to Crowfell's 100 miles, thence to Lara or Mlllungera 20 miles, to Canobte (E. Palmer) 40 miles, to Fort Constantlne (Shealfe's) 80 miles, to Clon-1 curry 20 miles— total 260 : miles. I DalgonaUy Station (D. Me Intyre) was distant 22 miles ! from Crowfell's. ' (a) Winton and BouUa — i Winton to Elderslle 40 miles, I thence to Cadwell Creek 80 miles, to SaviUe Creek Springs 25 miles, to Mlddleton Creek 12 miles, to Polygam men -TO miles, to Warenna 80 miles, to BouUa 30 miles total 2S2 miles. (b) Wlnton and Hngbenaen —? Winton to Oondooroo 18 1 miles, thence to Manuka 35, miles, to Sesbania 29 miles, to | Afton Downs 67 miles, to- Hughenden 16 miles — total | 161 miles. | (c) Winton and Richmond Downs — Winton to Ayrshire. Downs 40 miles, thence to Wema 10 miles, to Dagworth 40 miles, to .Kynuna £7 miles, to Hamilton Downs 40 miles, \ to Albion 23 miles, to Cassllls j 15 miles, to Richmond Downs 40 milee — total 235 miles