There are several good protections against temptations, but the surest is cowardice.--Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
Names are not always what they seem. The common Welsh name Bzjxxllwep is pronounced Jackson.--Pudd'nhead Wilson's New Calendar.
Friday, December 13. Sailed, at 3 p.m., in the 'Mararoa'. Summer seas and a good ship- life has nothing better.
Monday. Three days of paradise. Warm and sunny and smooth; the sea a luminous Mediterranean blue . . . . One lolls in a long chair all day under deck- awnings, and reads and smokes, in measureless content. One does not read prose at such a time, but poetry. I have been reading the poems of Mrs. Julia A. Moore, again, and I find in them the same grace and melody that attracted me when they were first published, twenty years ago, and have held me in happy bonds ever since.
"The Sentimental Song Book" has long been out of print, and has been forgotten by the world in general, but not by me. I carry it with me always- it and Goldsmith's deathless story.
Indeed, it has the same deep charm for me that the Vicar of Wakefield has, and I find in it the same subtle touch- the touch that makes an intentionally humorous episode pathetic and an intentionally pathetic one funny. In her time Mrs. Moore was called "the Sweet Singer of Michigan," and was best known by that name. I have read her book through twice today, with the purpose of determining which of her pieces has most merit, and I am persuaded that for wide grasp and sustained power, "William Upson" may claim first place:
Air--"The Major's Only Son." Come all good people far and near, Oh, come and see what you can hear, It's of a young man true and brave, That is now sleeping in his grave.
Now, William Upson was his name If it's not that, it's all the same He did enlist in a cruel strife, And it caused him to lose his life.
He was Perry Upson's eldest son, His father loved his noble son, This son was nineteen years of age When first in the rebellion he engaged.
His father said that he might go, But his dear mother she said no, "Oh! stay at home, dear Billy," she said, But she could not turn his head.
He went to Nashville, in Tennessee, There his kind friends he could not see; He died among strangers, so far away, They did not know where his body lay.
He was taken sick and lived four weeks, And Oh! how his parents weep, But now they must in sorrow mourn, For Billy has gone to his heavenly home.
Oh! if his mother could have seen her son, For she loved him, her darling son; If she could heard his dying prayer, It would ease her heart till she met him there.
How it would relieve his mother's heart To see her son from this world depart, And hear his noble words of love, As he left this world for that above.
Now it will relieve his mother's heart, For her son is laid in our graveyard; For now she knows that his grave is near, She will not shed so many tears.
Although she knows not that it was her son, For his coffin could not be opened It might be someone in his place, For she could not see his noble face.
December, 17. Reached Sydney.
December, 19. In the train. Fellow of 30 with four valises; a slim creature, with teeth which made his mouth look like a neglected churchyard. He had solidified hair- solidified with pomatum; it was all one shell. He smoked the most extraordinary cigarettes- made of some kind of manure, apparently. These and his hair made him smell like the very nation. He had a low- cut vest on, which exposed a deal of frayed and broken and unclean shirtfront. Showy studs, of imitation gold- they had made black disks on the linen. Oversized sleeve buttons of imitation gold, the copper base showing through. Ponderous watch- chain of imitation gold. I judge that he couldn't tell the time by it, for he asked Smythe what time it was, once. He wore a coat which had been gay when it was young; 5-o'clock- tea-trousers of a light tint, and marvelously soiled; yellow mustache with a dashing upward whirl at the ends; foxy shoes, imitation patent leather. He was a novelty- an imitation dude. He would have been a real one if he could have afforded it. But he was satisfied with himself. You could see it in his expression, and in all his attitudes and movements. He was living in a dude dreamland where all his squalid shams were genuine, and himself a sincerity. It disarmed criticism, it mollified spite, to see him so enjoy his imitation languors, and arts, and airs, and his studied daintinesses of gesture and misbegotten refinements. It was plain to me that he was imagining himself the Prince of Wales, and was doing everything the way he thought the Prince would do it. For bringing his four valises aboard and stowing them in the nettings, he gave his porter four cents, and lightly apologized for the smallness of the gratuity- just with the condescendingest little royal air in the world. He stretched himself out on the front seat and rested his pomatum- cake on the middle arm, and stuck his feet out of the window, and began to pose as the Prince and work his dreams and languors for exhibition; and he would indolently watch the blue films curling up from his cigarette, and inhale the stench, and look so grateful; and would flip the ash away with the daintiest gesture, unintentionally displaying his brass ring in the most intentional way; why, it was as good as being in Marlborough House itself to see him do it so like.
There was other scenery in the trip. That of the Hawksbury river, in the National Park region, fine- extraordinarily fine, with spacious views of stream and lake imposingly framed in woody hills; and every now and then the noblest groupings of mountains, and the most enchanting rearrangements of the water effects. Further along, green flats, thinly covered with gum forests, with here and there the huts and cabins of small farmers engaged in raising children. Still further along, arid stretches, lifeless and melancholy. Then Newcastle, a rushing town, capital of the rich coal regions. Approaching Scone, wide farming and grazing levels, with pretty frequent glimpses of a troublesome plant- a particularly devilish little prickly pear, daily damned in the orisons of the agriculturist; imported by a lady of sentiment, and contributed gratis to the colony. Blazing hot, all day.
December 20. Back to Sydney. Blazing hot again. From the newspaper, and from the map, I have made a collection of curious names of Australasian towns, with the idea of making a poem out of them:
Tumut Takee Murriwillumba Bowral Ballarat Mullengudgery Murrurundi Wagga- Wagga Wyalong Murrumbidgee Goomeroo Wolloway Wangary Wanilla Worrow Koppio Yankalilla Yaranyacka Yackamoorundie Kaiwaka Coomooroo Tauranga Geelong Tongariro Kaikoura Wakatipu Oohipara Waitpinga Goelwa Munno Para Nangkita Myponga Kapunda Kooringa Penola Nangwarry Kongorong Comaum Koolywurtie Killanoola Naracoorte Muloowurtie Binnum Wallaroo Wirrega Mundoora Hauraki Rangiriri Teawamute Taranaki Toowoomba Goondiwindi Jerrilderie Whangaroa Wollongong Woolloomooloo Bombola Coolgardie Bendigo Coonamble Cootamundra Woolgoolga
Mittagong Jamberoo Kondoparinga Kuitpo Tungkillo Oukaparinga Talunga Yatala Parawirra Moorooroo Whangarei Woolundunga Booleroo Pernatty Parramatta Taroom Narrandera Deniliquin Kawakawa.
It may be best to build the poem now, and make the weather help
A SWELTERING DAY IN AUSTRALIA.
(To be read soft and low, with the lights turned down.)
The Bombola faints in the hot Bowral tree, Where fierce Mullengudgery's smothering fires Far from the breezes of Coolgardie Burn ghastly and blue as the day expires;
And Murriwillumba complaineth in song For the garlanded bowers of Woolloomooloo, And the Ballarat Fly and the lone Wollongong They dream of the gardens of Jamberoo;
The wallabi sighs for the Murrubidgee, For the velvety sod of the Munno Parah, Where the waters of healing from Muloowurtie Flow dim in the gloaming by Yaranyackah;
The Koppio sorrows for lost Wolloway, And sigheth in secret for Murrurundi, The Whangeroo wombat lamenteth the day That made him an exile from Jerrilderie;
The Teawamute Tumut from Wirrega's glade, The Nangkita swallow, the Wallaroo swan, They long for the peace of the Timaru shade And thy balmy soft airs, O sweet Mittagong!
The Kooringa buffalo pants in the sun, The Kondoparinga lies gaping for breath, The Kongorong Camaum to the shadow has won, But the Goomeroo sinks in the slumber of death;
In the weltering hell of the Moorooroo plain The Yatala Wangary withers and dies, And the Worrow Wanilla, demented with pain, To the Woolgoolga woodlands despairingly flies;
Sweet Nangwarry's desolate, Coonamble wails, And Tungkillo Kuito in sables is drest, For the Whangerei winds fall asleep in the sails And the Booleroo life- breeze is dead in the west.
Mypongo, Kapunda, O slumber no more Yankalilla, Parawirra, be warned There's death in the air! Killanoola, wherefore Shall the prayer of Penola be scorned?
Cootamundra, and Takee, and Wakatipu, Toowoomba, Kaikoura are lost From Onkaparinga to far Oamaru All burn in this hell's holocaust!
Paramatta and Binnum are gone to their rest In the vale of Tapanni Taroom, Kawakawa, Deniliquin- all that was best In the earth are but graves and a tomb!
Narrandera mourns, Cameron answers not When the roll of the scathless we cry Tongariro, Goondiwindi, Woolundunga, the spot Is mute and forlorn where ye lie.
Those are good words for poetry. Among the best I have ever seen. There are 81 in the list. I did not need them all, but I have knocked down 66 of them; which is a good bag, it seems to me, for a person not in the business. Perhaps a poet laureate could do better, but a poet laureate gets wages, and that is different. When I write poetry I do not get any wages; often I lose money by it. The best word in that list, and the most musical and gurgly, is Woolloomoolloo. It is a place near Sydney, and is a favorite pleasure- resort. It has eight O's in it.