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72 Drrain of a wounile Soldier on the Field of Battle.
Metl.ought we pass'd through ghostly glades,
A living chaos-on we rollid
And o'er the mute and midnight wold,
Then chang'd the visions of my dream :
Upon a wastė, all bleak and dim,
And bounded by th' horizon's rim,
Each sense to slumber seem'd to lull;
I lov'd in youth-yet knew that she
Ere then had pass'd from things that bei
And as I spake of perils o'er,
The silent tears stole down her face,
And in her cold and close embrace
We heard at last the ocean's roar,-
Fire flash'd behind-floods yawn'd before !
Of rocks that hung above the sea,
To them we clung convulsively.
Forc'd from our hold by crowds that prest,
I woke—and to my opening eye
Another scene arose in view;
I heard—and deem'd reality
As it above the deep did hang, -
Of ghastly wounds from warriors wrung!
As morning beams steal through the sea
Of mists that, on the landscape wide,
Rest like a dim and waveless tide;
O'er which night's phantom-shadow lay;
Unto the scenes of yesterday=
No. II. My dear friend, I promised in my last, to enlighten you one day as to the state of the Medical Profession at the Antipodes; this promise I will keep, but not yet ;-I have, at present, a far more interesting theme to discuss, namely, the Press of Van Diemen's Land.
If you still entertain the same opinion, as you did, when we were fellow-students together, your opinion of the state of our Colonial Literature must be very imperfect, and, allow me to add, perfectly inadequate. Why, we have in the Colony altogether, nine weekly Journals, seven of which are published in Hobart Town alone, and the other two at Launceston. Of these seven, five are miscellaneous Newspapers, one the official Government Gazette, and the other an Advertising sheet, delivered gratis, to the amount of about five thousand every week : we have, besides, two annual Almanacks, and a Monthly Magazine.
To begin with the Newspapers; I must take them in their chronological order, commencing with the 66 Colonial Times.” This is an
Opposition" Paper,—but one of a peculiar character, and by whom conducted is more than I can tell you: the Editorship is said to be “in commission,” and several persons are supposed to have a hand in the hashing up. It delights in the
shening up” of officials, and rarely grapples vigorously with important public measures. Its leading articles are, generally, tame and heavy, but its “home paragraphs” are sufficiently hot and spicy. If report be true, a gentleman, high in office here, occasionally contributes to the public gratification, by concocting squibs for the Colonial Times.
The second on the list is the Tasmanian, the most obvious supporter of the “powers that be” of any of its contemporaries. In pursuing this support, however, I have observed nothing, but a vigilant exposition of palpable misrepresentation, and a fair com
VOL. II. NO. VIII,
mendation of measures, intended to be beneficial. But, as I have. already mentioned, party-spirit is so red-hot here, and the government has so many different opponents, that the slightest expression of approbation is construed at once into obsequiousness and adulation-and, by many people, the Tasmanian is, on this account, actually supposed to be in the pay of the government, and its editor appointed by the same influence! This, I know, to be a very great absurdity ; for the present editor is one of the few associates I have, and, to my certain knowledge, he has no more to do with the government than
have. The Hobart Town Courier comes next. It is Edited by an old and esteemed Colonist, Dr. Ross, who is, also, the Government Printer, and who contrives, with no trivial dexterity, to keep on good terms with all parties, and to steer clear of the shoals and quicksands of party-spirit, which abounds here—more than is necessary or agreeable. There is a degree of quiet complacency about the Courier, strikingly characteristic of its good-natured conductor. Emanating from the Government printing-house, it cannot be expected to be a very vehement exposer of abuses ; but if it does not act this part, it certainly cannot be said to take any very active concern, either in lauding the Government, or in difending it from the attacks of its opponents: there is no obsequiousness in the Courier, but a quiet, gossiping industry, which renders it a good family journal. It advocates education and Temperance Societies with good emphasis, and denounces the encraoachment of injudicious luxury, and the pauper emigration system with unabating zeal and earnestness: it commends, also-and, I think, justly--the mode of Prison Discipline, pursued here,—and which I shall some day explain to you, -and takes rather a general view of subjects, than a particular notice of individual occurrences.
The Colonist was established rather more than a year ago, by a party, who styled itself "The Legion," for the avowed purpose of opposing the present government. There were many errors to be amended, and innumerable evils to be removed, -and the Colonist was to be the cleanser of our political Augean stable. It commenced its career with considerable spirit and effect; for, by boldly attacking measures instead of abusing men, it promised to become, what it really affected to be, the Journal of the People. But there were too many cooks concerned in the cooking ;--the Legion was too numerous to preserve the requisite unanimity, and a quarrel occurred with the editor, Mr. Gilbert Robertson, from which period the poor Colonist has been foundering through a slough of personal scurrility and abuse, till it is well nigh become smothered in its own slime. In the brief space of about six months it has had almost as many professed editors—and nearly as many actions for libel have been tried and obtained against its ostensible proprietor in the same period. With the exception of one, these actions all emanated from private individuals, and this one was an ex officio prosecution by the Attorney General, against
the printer, for a very unjustifiable libel upon the government. The Colonist is now under the control of an old settler and a magistrate, and has, at length, dropped a portion of its personality -having merged and settled down into a very quiet and much
The Austral-Asiatic Review, conducted by Mr. R. L. Murray, who
was, I believe, the original editor of the Tasmanian, ably-written, but somewhat eccentric Journal. There is a great deal of original and vigorous talent in it, and a degree of honest independence upon most points, which render it an useful addition to our periodical literature. Its epitome of European intelligence is always good, and written with a force and tact, which the editor's extensive knowledge and experience enable him to display to advantage. This paper is a bitter and formidable opponent of the Colonist, and has tended, in conjunction with the Tasmanian, considerably to curb the red-hot and impetuous radicalism of that Journal.
The Government Gazette requires no description-it merely contains the official notices, and is published every week. The advertising sheet, which is appropriately termed the Trumpeter, is published twice a-week, and contains advertisements, and a burlesque leading article. The two Journals published at Launceston are mere local chronicles, and brief records of passing events in that quarter of the island: they make no pretensions to politics, and are, perchance, wise in their abstinence.
The Magazine, I leave to speak for itself, having sent you herewith all the numbers hitherto published. I think you with me in the notion, that it is a very respectable miscellany, and that the contributors seem to run very well in harness. I send you also, the two Almanacks or Annuals for last year, -one of which, you will see, is published by Dr. Ross, of the Courier, and the other by Mr. Melville, the proprietor of the Times and the Tasmanian: they are both highly ereditable works, and will afford you a good idea—especially Mr Melville's—of the past and present state of Tasmania.
I have now given you a brief and cursory sketch of our Colonial Literature; and, I think, you will form a very favourable opinion of our civilization and refinement. We beat our elder sister Sydney, very considerably in this respect, for although that Colony has just started a Magazine, it will bear no comparison with our's,--and its newspapers are dull and spiritless in the extreme. But what do you think our government is now contemplating ? Nothing more nor less, than a direct tax upon Literature, in the odious form of a postage upon Newspapers! The press, as you may suppose, has taken up this subject warmly, and has raised a loud and strong qutcry upon the occasion. I hope the Government will hearken to the cry, and, in accordance with the public wish, relinquish an impost so unnecessary and injurious.
I send this by the — and the Captain will deliver it to you
in person: he is a favourable exception to the general race, of Skippers who come here, and I think you will find him a very. good fellow. Tell S- if he still contemplates migration hitherward, to come, if he can, with Captain who proposes to return here, as soon as he can, if not in the
in some other ship. He brings you, also, a box of curiosities, such as they are. The birds you will find novel and curious ; the skins of the quadrupeds, when properly stuffed by Leadbeater, will afford you a good notion of the uncooth animals, with which our “bush” is infested. The kangaroo, you have, of course, seen in the Zoological Gardens; there were two very fine ones there, when I left England : it is almost the only wild animal, in its several varieties, which has hitherto been discovered in the island.
Hobart Town, 16th September, 1833.
SONGS OF IDLE HOURS.
"The Sister's Recall."
Oh! bring him back, the sunny vine,
Untended hangs its fruit,
To his neglected lute:
Are blossoming in vain-
Bring, bring him back again!
His footsteps far away?
My brother thus to stay?
Should be as strong a chain ;
Bring, bring him back again!
In childhood's happy years,
Its changing hopes and fears,
Some cherished place retain,
Back to his home again!