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Swiftly it sped across that bitter lake
Steered by the power and the all-seeing eye
The boat was all with rich-woofed purple lined,
And bringing joy to hearts made sad with care,
Agenor sprang within the boat, which sped
Forgot her very being, drank her fill
The singing of a multitude of birds,
Him shake the spell of sleep, and half afraid
Mingled with flow'rets of a thousand dyes
Pansies and violets made fair the sod,
Scarce broke the sense of infinite repose,
The river's banks, and every green hill-side
And shed its fragrance over all the coast,
Of birds, that filled the blithe air with their song,
The greatness of the joy their souls had found,
And lay him softly in the sheet of bark,
Here in the forest dark ! You know when Spring Creek diggings first were opened,
Down beside Beechworth, then called May Day Hill, I was a new chum just a few weeks landed,
And there I first knew Phil.
When I came trudging slowly on the track.
With swag upon my back. “Good evening, youngster, dirty travelling lately ;
Sit on this log and have a drink of tea ;" And I sat down beside him, wondering greatly
To find the man so free. “Hard up, and weary, lad, a bit down-hearted ?
Don't fret, and wish that thou hadst not been born; For when we think that luck and we have parted,
There comes a sudden turn.”
And those I loved across the wide, wide sea ;
Who would have looked for tears from such as he ? Upon our talk, between the gum-tree branches,
Shimmering and fitting o'er his face and mine,
The moon began shine.
And with his knife began the wick to trim ; “My lad, the night is growing chill and damp,
I'd better light the glim.”
“And, youngster, now after this long inspection,
I tell you what, I like your physiog;
We'll strike the bargain with a glass of grog."
He drew a large black bottle filled with rum; And said, as in our cans the grog we drunk,
"Here's to the luck which may be yet to come!” Button his shirt there ! blue and livid yet,
Upon his breast I see that ugly scar, Got in a bayonet charge at Goojerat
In the tough wrestle of the last Sikh War. When the big rush broke out on Snowy River,
Among the first to go were Phil and I, And there I was laid up with typhus fever,
And almost like to die.
But poor old Phil watched o'er me day and night,
And hardly ever left the stretcher side, When all the diggers near us took a fright,
And but for him I surely would have died. It's just three days ago since he took bad,
I brought him all the help that could be got;
Is very little in this lonely spot.
And looking round he said “ It's almost night!
Give me your hand, my lad, all's right, all's right!” We'll bury him here beside this clump of wattle,
'Twill be a sort of mark to show his grave; He's come through tempest and the whirl of battle,
Here in the bush to find a lonely grave.
TWO PIECES OF A BALLAD HISTORY OF ENGLAND.
THESE two ballads were written when I first met with the 'Voyages' of Richard Hakluyt in my boyhood, twelve years ago. Kingsley had already interested me in Sir Richard Grenville, but from Hakluyt I learned the story of his valour, his stern and simple constancy, and death. In the solitude of the primeval forest the power of such deeds comes home to the soul more strongly than when one is moving among the littlenesses and conventionalities of ordinary life. The Titanic aspect of our nature looks in upon us through the silence, and mingles with the influence of “the ancient mountains, and the everlasting hills.” Swayed by the lion-hearted spirit of the past I wrote the two ballads with feelings which I would not have exchanged for all the gold of Australia.