Whitley: Some Random Reminiscences

From Some Random Reminiscences Lower Hunter River 1855-1857 by Thomas Whitley

The Australian Agricultural Company has recently found a historian of its 50 years of existence between 1824-1875, when the author, Mr Gregson, officiated as General Superintendent 1876-1905. The company is merely glanced at in these sheets principally from having employed the labor of a number of servants assigned from the government. Among them was one long remembered by his survivors in the district. Mr Holdstock, in 1857, having business occasions at Stroud, becoming detained from misarrangement and finding several hours unoccupied, sought out an “ Old Hand “ – a relic of the past – who had been a fellow-assignment with the person above referred to, ‘Frank the Poet’ known in his ‘Company’ name as Goddard; but, presumably later, as Frank Macnamara. Holdstock induced this ancient, who was wholly illiterate but possessed of good memory, to select a master-piece from his repertory of the ‘Poet’s’ productions for recitation. The ‘Tour to Hell’ became thus transcribed, and its loan conferred upon the return from Stroud. Some items of light revision, ‘Oscar for Uskett, etc.,etc., were necessary, of course, in such circumstances, and the following copy is direct in descent from that so obtained and made in my own hand. Macnamara is said to have been a lame man, dying in Sydney, about 1853.

Some Random Reminiscences p.15
Occasional reference to Frank the Poet is met with, indicating that other specimens are extant, but giving no clue of access to them. It is remarkable that the lapse of so many years has (added) no other to the specimen captured by Holdstock. An article touching on the composition and singing of old Bush Ballads-- of which only an undated fragment can be referred to--appeared in a Sydney Bulletin many years ago, and incidentally mentions the "Poet", thus– "At the station hut... the nasal quaver of the "Old Hand" might be heard as he vaunted the glories of some old time bushranger 
       Who was hunted up and down my boys, 
       Like an old man kangaroo 
       But I'll fight 'em ten to one, says he 
       Says Bold Jack Donohue. 
Or, perhaps as he gives a doggerel reminiscence of the ill-famed island-prison denounced in Frank the Poet's scathing valediction, as 
       Squatters' home and prisoners' hell 
       Land of Sodom, fare thee well. 
       They yoke us up like horses, 
       All in Van Diemens Land.

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