A Tour To Hell


(By "Frank the Poet.") 
(From the CUMBERLAND TIMES, Dec. 27, 1900.) 

Before the CUMBERLAND TIMES again appears, we shall have entered upon a new century and a fresh phase of political existence. To make anything like even an epitomised retrospect of the History of Australia, Convict, Currency, Ticket-of-leave, Free Pardon, or strung up by the hands of the hangman, would take more time and space than on this Christmas Eve, when we pen this notice, the CUMBERLAND TIMES can afford.

With the end of the century we may reasonably hope that whatever stain of Convictism, political, social, or religious that may have attached to the earlier history of Australia will have vanished, and that no future Governor, whether a State Governor, or a Governor-General, will twit the people of the Commonwealth with having "outlived their birth stain." There is yet as much to employ the thoughtful mind in the story of those convicts who were transported from Great Britain and Ireland for offences that would now-a-days in Parramatta be met by a trifling fine, or a short term of impiisonment as there is concerning the Athenian prisoners—victims of the Peloponessian war who, condemned to work in the Syracusan quarries, won indulgences for themselves and the goodwill of their gaolers by reciting in Attic Greek the choruses, strophes, and speeches from the plays of Euripides and other Greek tragedians.

The author of the following satire, "poem," or whatever it may most properly called, was a convict, a lame man and assigned servant. He was evidently one who knew something of literature, and that he was well acquainted with the local history of Convictism, not only in New South Wales but throughout the whole of the Australian convict settlements, is manifested by the rhymes which we this week publish as a memento of the dark days during which "Frank the Poet" lived and hated with an intensity of venom, which we, living under happier circumstances, can with difficulty realise. The lines, so far as we know, have never belore appeared in print.

They come to us through Mr. Thomas H. Lennard, an Englishman, but true Australian gentleman, who is a personal friend of John Morley, was intimate with George Jacob Holyoake and many other radical politicians before he had ever set foot on the shores of Australia .

Mr. Lennard accompanied the writer to "Kenilworth," Annandale, for the purpose of visiting the late Sir Henry Parkes during his last and fatal illness. We, at Kenilworth, met his selfdevoted medical attendant, Dr. Maurice O’Connor, who, alas! is since also dead. He, the handsome, whole-souled, generous gentleman, informed the auxious enquirers that the patient could not be interviewed.

As will be seen by the appendix, the poem has been verbally handed down from one ticket-of-leave man, or one assigned servant to another, and doubtless there are errors arising from repetition and transcription that might give umbrage to "Frank the Poet," had he lived to see himself in print. Glaring errors in the manuscript have been eliminated by the writer of this notice, but the withering satire in the verses has not at all been interfered with.


From the booklet 'The Song of Ninian Melville' [a Henry Kendall poem written in 1880] published in 1885 by Whitley one of the early collectors of the verse of Frank the Poet. This introduction to The Tour To Hell tells us that the poem was published in the Cumberland Times of 27 December 1900. It also tells us that Whitely had come across a copy of the poem in 1857 while the poet was still alive probably at the Tambaroora gold fields at Hill End. Whitley copied the poem and waited twenty eight years to publish it as the second poem in his booklet.