Henry Lawson & Hartley
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In 1899 Henry Lawson wrote the poem
the Ghost of Victoria Pass Where did Henry Lawson stay while
writing this poem?
Henry Lawson had a long
relationship with the area. His father Lars is buried at Hartley
For researchers in early childhood
of the gold rush, Henry Lawson's recollections paints a vivid
picture. He went back to Mr Victoria in 1899 when his father
passed away and completed some of his fathers cottage that he had
It was during that time that he wrote the
Lights of Cobb and Co and the Ghost of Victoria Pass.
in May of 1899 his mother Louisa
Lawson,a strong advocate of femininist, convened a meeting
in Forresters' Hall, delivered a stirring lecture on feminism. No
doubt Henry felt inspired but intimidated by his mothers radicalism.
His keenness on "Dame" Mary Gilmore,
granddaughter of Meades Farm, which was curtailed by his mother was
still having an effecgt on his outlook on life. He would have
spent time at Meades Farm On
July 18th 1899 Henry Lawson's poem 'The Ghost' appeared in The
Bulletin. Mary Gilmore says that Henry Lawson and Louisa Lawson
quarrelled over it and from then on Louisa Lawson had no influence over
Henry Lawson (1867–1922) led a
troubled existence, blighted by poverty, deafness, mental
illness and alcoholism.
was born in Grenfell, New South Wales, and a trip to Bourke
provided much of the raw material for his greatest literary
work. In 1896, Lawson published his first collection of verse
and his first major collection of stories, While the Billy
Boils. The Lights of Cobb & Co was first published in
the Bulletin on 11 December 1897.
After two children and a failed
marriage, Lawson spent several periods in a mental hospital, and
was gaoled many times for drunkenness and failure to pay alimony
and child maintenance.
Recognising the value of
celebrity, Lawson created ‘association’ items, usually for
money. Reportedly, he would pick up a new walking stick in a
Sydney store and give it to the manager, who would pay him
sixpence and sell the stick as one that ‘Henry Lawson used’.
On his death, Lawson became the
first Australian writer honoured with a State funeral.
Henry Lawson poems in 1899
The Sliprails and the Spur
The Shakedown on the Floor
The Days When We Went Swimming
The Song of the Darling River
The Stranger's Friend
Andy Page's Rival
How the Land Was Won
The Ballad of the Rouseabout
Jack Cornstalk 
Second Class Wait Here
The Old Jimmy Woodser
From the Strand to the Never
The Blessings of War
The Babies in the Bush
The Green Tide
The Flag of Our Destinies (MS)
The Man Ahead (MS)
'Twas a Land Set Apart (MS)
December 21 1889
The Bulletin published the Henry Lawson poem, 'The Roaring Days'.
Henry Lawson poems
The Roaring Days
Eureka (A Fragment)
The Ballad of the Drover
The Sleeping Beauty
The Mountain Splitter
The Song and the Sigh
The Cattle-Dog's Death
Old Stone Chimney
The Squatter's Daughter
The "Seabolt's" Volunteers
The Legend of Mammon Castle
Laughing and Sneering
He's Gone to England for a Wife
O Cupid, Cupid; Get Your Bow!
The Song of the Waste-Paper Basket
Rain in the Mountains
To the Irish Delegates
. The Lights of Cobb & Co
The Lights of Cobb & Co was
first published in the Bulletin on
Fire lighted; on the table a meal for sleepy
A lantern in the stable; a jingle now and then;
The mail-coach looming darkly by light on moon
The growl of sleepy voices; a candle in the bar;
A stumble in the passage of folk with wits
A swear-word from a bedroom—-the shout of "All
"Tekh tehk! Git-up!" "Hold fast, there!" and
down the range we go;
Five hundred miles of scattered camps will watch
for Cobb and Co.
Old coaching towns already decaying for their
Uncounted "Half-way Houses," and scores of
The riders from the stations by lonely granite
The black-boy for the shepherds on sheep and
The roaring camps of Gulgong, and many a
The diggers on the Lachlan; the huts of Farthest
Some twenty thousand exiles who sailed for weal
The bravest hearts of twenty lands will wait for
Cobb and Co.
The morning star has vanished, the frost and fog
In one of those grand mornings which but on
A flask of friendly whisky—-each other’s hopes
And throw our top-coats open to drink the
The roads are rare to travel, and life seems all
The grind of wheels on gravel, the trop of
The trot, trot, trot and canter, as down the
spur we go—-
The green sweeps to horizons blue that call for
Cobb and Co.
We take a bright girl actress through western
dust and damps,
To bear the home-world message, and sing for
To stir our hearts and break them, wind hearts
that hope and ache—-
(Ah! When she thinks again of these her own must
Five miles this side of the gold-field, a loud,
Five hundred cheering diggers have snatched the
With "Auld Lang Syne" in chorus, through roaring
camp they go
That cheer for her, and cheer for Home, and
cheer for Cobb and Co.
Three lamps above the ridges and gorges dark and
A flash on sandstone cuttings where sheer the
A flash on shrouded wagons, on water ghastly
Weird brush and scattered remnants of "rushes in
Across the swollen river a flash beyond the
Ride hard to warn the driver! He’s drunk or mad,
But on the bank to westward a broad and cheerful
New camps extend across the plains new routes
for Cobb and Co.
Swift scramble up the sidling where teams climb
inch by inch;
Pause, bird-like, on the summit—then breakneck
down the pinch;
By clear, ridge-country rivers, and gaps where
tracks run high,
Where waits the lonely horseman, cut clear
against the sky;
Past haunted half-way houses—where convicts made
Scrub-yards and new bark shanties, we dash with
five and six;
Through stringy-bark and blue-gum, and box and
pine we go—-
A hundred miles shall see to-night the lights of
Cobb and Co!
The Ghost at
the Second Bridge
You'd call the man a senseless fool,—
A blockhead or an ass,
Who’d dare to say he saw the ghost
Of Mount Victoria Pass;
But I believe the ghost is there,
For, if my eyes are right,
I saw it once upon a ne’er-
’Twas in the year of eighty-nine—
The day was nearly gone,
The stars were shining, and the moon
Is mentioned further on;
I’d tramped as far as Hartley Vale,
Tho’ tired at the start,
But coming back I got a lift
In Johnny Jones’s cart.
’Twas winter on the mountains then—
The air was rather chill,
And so we stopped beside the inn
That stands below the hill.
A fire was burning in the bar,
And Johnny thought a glass
Would give the tired horse a spell
And help us up the Pass.
Then Jimmy Bent came riding up—
A tidy chap was Jim—
He shouted twice, and so of course
We had to shout for him.
And when at last we said good-night
He bet a vulgar quid
That we would see the “ghost in black”,
And sure enough we did.
And as we climbed the stony pinch
Below the Camel Bridge,
We talked about the “Girl in black”
Who haunts the Second Bridge.
We reached the fence that guards the cliff
And passed the corner post,
And Johnny like a senseless fool
Kept harping on the ghost.
“She’ll cross the moonlit road in haste
And vanish down the track;
Her long black hair hangs to her waist
And she is dressed in black;
Her face is white, a dull dead white—
Her eyes are opened wide—
She never looks to left or right,
Or turns to either side.”
I didn’t b’lieve in ghosts at all,
Tho’ I was rather young,
But still I wished with all my heart
That Jack would hold his tongue.
The time and place, as you will say,
(’Twas twelve o’clock almost)—
Were both historically fa-
Vourable for a ghost.
But have you seen the Second Bridge
Beneath the “Camel’s Back”?
It fills a gap that broke the ridge
When convicts made the track;
And o’er the right old Hartley Vale
In homely beauty lies,
And o’er the left the mighty walls
Of Mount Victoria rise.
And there’s a spot above the bridge,
Just where the track is steep,
From which poor Convict Govett rode
To christen Govett’s Leap;
And here a teamster killed his wife—
For those old days were rough—
And here a dozen others had
Been murdered, right enough.
The lonely moon was over all
And she was shining well,
At angles from the sandstone wall
The shifting moonbeams fell.
In short, the shifting moonbeams beamed,
The air was still as death,
Save when the listening silence seemed
To speak beneath its breath.
The tangled bushes were not stirred
Because there was no wind,
But now and then I thought I heard
A startling noise behind.
Then Johnny Jones began to quake;
His face was like the dead.
“Don’t look behind, for heaven’s sake!
The ghost is there!” he said.
He stared ahead—his eyes were fixed;
He whipped the horse like mad.
“You fool!” I cried, “you’re only mixed;
A drop too much you’ve had.
I’ll never see a ghost, I swear,
But I will find the cause.”
I turned to see if it was there,
And sure enough it was!
Its look appeared to plead for aid
(As far as I could see),
Its hands were on the tailboard laid,
Its eyes were fixed on me.
The face, it cannot be denied
Was white, a dull dead white,
The great black eyes were opened wide
And glistened in the light.
I stared at Jack; he stared ahead
And madly plied the lash.
To show I wasn’t scared, I said—
“Why, Jack, we’ve made a mash.”
I tried to laugh; ’twas vain to try.
The try was very lame;
And, tho’ I wouldn’t show it, I
Was frightened, all the same.
“She’s mashed,” said Jack, “I do not doubt,
But ’tis a lonely place;
And then you see it might turn out
A breach of promise case.”
He flogged the horse until it jibbed
And stood as one resigned,
And then he struck the road and ran
And left the cart behind.
Now, Jack and I since infancy
Had shared our joys and cares,
And so I was resolved that we
Should share each other’s scares.
We raced each other all the way
And never slept that night,
And when we told the tale next day
They said that we were—intoxicated.
Henry Lawson was born in 1867 and
died in September 2nd 1922. One of Australian's best-known
writer of short stories and verse, he was noted for his
realistic portrayals of bush life and the revolutionary politics
of his earlier writing.
Henry Lawson was born poor in a bark hut on the
goldfields at Grenfell, New South Wales. Likewise, he died in
abject poverty, under a tree in his garden, and Prime Minister
William Morris Hughes ordered one of the grandest State funerals
ever seen in Australia, and the first for a writer, which was
attended by many thousands in St Andrew's Cathedral and out on
the streets of Sydney
Years later, his face was on Australia's $10 note, only to be
removed and replaced with that of his conservative friend and
The Bulletin magazine poetic sparring partner, Banjo
Australia puts famous or
identities on its bank
The original paper
Australian Ten Dollar note
had Francis Howard Greenaway
(convict architect) on the
front and Henry Lawson
(Short story writer & poet)
on the back.
The 1988 trial of the
polymer note was a
Australia's Bicentenary and
had a scene of the HMS
Supply landing in Sydney
Cove on the front and
Aboriginal art on the back.
The current polymer
Australian Ten Dollar note
has Andrew Barton (Banjo)
Patterson (balladist &
journalist) on the front and
Dame Mary Gilmore (poet &
human rights campaigner) on
(born Mary Jean Cameron; later, Dame Mary Gilmore; d.3/12/1962
Australian poet, utopian socialist, later a Communist Party
member, close friend of leading Australian socialist William
Lane and fellow poet Henry Lawson. Gilmore was the first woman
member of the Australian Workers Union (AWU) and member of its
executive. She is the woman on the Australian $10 note.
Lawson once asked her to marry him but she gave
him a "no", noting in her diary "a curious immaturity" in him –
like a "sappy twig".While Mary Cameron (as she was
before marrying William Gilmore
her death at 97 she had a succession of housekeepers,
many of them leaving in exasperation.
Thursday, December 6, 1962, Sydney witnessed the first
State funeral granted an Australian writer since that of
Lawson forty years earlier.
Like her former would-be beau, Henry Lawson, her
image appeared on the
Australian $10 note, or, rather images, for the banknote
features an early photograph as well as the
controversial portrait painted in her later years by Sir
When she met William Lane in 1892,
Mary was a schoolteacher in Sydney, a tall, young
eccentric-looking woman with her auburn hair chopped extremely
short. She was deeply impressed by Lane who was recruiting for
his dream of a socialist commune in Paraguay, where there would
be no bosses — except himself, as it turned out. Mary loved
people with a good brain and William Lane was a remarkable
writer and a charismatic figure. He was happily married; there
is no suggestion there was any sexual involvement between them.
She joined Lane's New Australia Movement and after school would
head into their city office and help edit their journal. It was
here she met a tall, handsome, swashbuckling Queensland shearer
called David Russell Stevenson. Like a lot of bushmen at that
time, Stevenson was self-educated and used to carry Shakespeare
in his saddlebag. Mary became absolutely infatuated with him. At
the same time Henry Lawson was absolutely infatuated with her
and begged her to marry him and come with him to Western
Australia. But once she'd met Stevenson, poor Henry, who was two
years younger than Mary and a puny specimen compared to
Stevenson, was forgotten, except as a wonderful friend who she
could talk to about writing. When the colonists sailed off in
1893, Mary couldn't go because single women weren't wanted until
the colony was established. The one single woman taken, a
Queensland nurse called Clara Jones, was needed because the NSW
government said they couldn't go without a nursing sister on
board. Clara and Stevenson fell in love on the voyage. Lane, who
put a stop to their flirtation, told her Stevenson was engaged
to Mary. Thinking Stevenson had lied to her Clara married the
first man to come along. Before Mary arrived, the first colony
had broken up because of Lane's dictatorial behaviour and Lane
had formed a second colony over 100 km away. Because the
schoolteacher had remained with the original mob, Lane wrote to
Mary and begged her to come out. She had just turned thirty, the
age at which she believed she would become an old maid, a future
she devoutly feared. So she packed up, putting in eight yards of
white muslin suitable for a wedding dress, and at the end of
1895 off she went. First of all a little sailing ship to New
Zealand, then a tramp steamer and the perilous voyage around
Cape Horn up the east coast of the continent to Montevideo. From
there she had to negotiate her way without any Spanish onto a
paddle steamer and travel 1600 km up the great rivers to the
capital of Paraguay. From there she took a steam train and got
off at a siding. She had expected Stevenson to meet her but it
was Lane's brother who met her for the thirty-mile ride to the
rough little colony, just thatch huts and a jungle clearing.
They had a welcome dance for Mary that night and Stevenson
didn't dance with her once. Humiliated and embarrassed Mary
wrote to her old swain Henry Lawson saying, 'Why don't you come
over after all?' But Henry had just married and didn't respond.
Mary went to the colony not just for love, but for its ideals on
gender equality. What she didn't realise was the colony had
scrapped the clause about gender equality. As a single woman,
she was in a pretty embarrassing situation. Before long she was
reading to a man called William Gilmore who was in the colony
hospital. He was nearly illiterate, but he was a good, kind,
handsome man and before long an engagement was announced. I
speculate that Mary may have prodded Gilmore towards a proposal
because he was so shy, and although not in love with him at that
time, I think she did fall in love within the marriage. I think
their physical relationship turned out to be a wonderful
excitement for Mary. There is a rash of quite sensual poems that
she writes at that time."
From 'Bluestocking in Patagonia' by Dr Anne Whitehead: