|McMahon Glynn, Patrick to Glynn, James P., 1884
|Patrick McMahon Glynn_Letters to his family (1874-1927) [Gerald Glynn O'Collins]
|McMahon Glynn, Patrick
|Kapunda, South Australia, Australia
|Gort, Co. Galway, Ireland
|Glynn, James P.
|journalism, literature, work, acquaintances, politics
October 20th 1884
My dear James
Let me, before going into matters personal to myself, congratulate
you on the success of your perseverance in attempt, to get
regularly connected with the Press. The sketch, "Out and About",
is written in the easy and taking style that should recommend itself
to the travelling and sporting class. Everything one writes gives a
better idea of one's peculiar aptitudes, which, when fairly discovered,
should be followed up in the spirit of Carlyle's advice: "Whatever
your right hand finds to do, do it with all your might." The best tutors for anyone are the great dead; and, in this connection,
when you have at anytime the opportunity, I would advise you
to read Ruskin's Lecture called "Kings' Treasuries" which appears
in his work entitled Sesame and the Lilies. Ruskin is one of the
purest and most earnest souls of our time; and, though some of his
teachings from an economic point of view seem to me impracticable,
there is a great wealth of moral food to be got from them. His
works, for reasons well given by himself, are very dear — the one
referred to is now republished at 22/6. But he shapes his thoughts
in the most deliriously fascinating eloquence. You may not know
much about Ruskin, so, as he came into my mind, I thought it
might be useful to you to have your attention directed to him.
Well, since my last letter home, I have been out and about
myself. You know already that here in Kapunda we have started
now some 6 months a society having for its object the nationalization
of the land of the Colony. A Mr. Liston & myself are the
chief movers in it, and the Manifesto, 15,000 copies of which have
up to the present been published, was my composition. The three
or four pages containing the details of the scheme were thought
out principally by Liston, and amended by me; the rest exclusively
by me upon whom devolved the writing of the whole. I send you
a few copies of the second edition, also our latest pamphlet, The
Lay Sermon. Webster is an English journalist of great ability in
matters of principle in politics, wide culture, sound knowledge of
Art, and a great enthusiast on the Subject of Land Tenure Reform.
He is at present in Melbourne, and communicates regularly with
Liston and myself. He is a personal and very intimate friend of
Henry George, to whom he sends the Kap. Herald and our publications.
The Press, from old bias, has only evasively noticed the
Manifesto here, but already many of the public have been converted,
so that the work before us is progressing. Webster is generous in
his approval and has written several kindly expressions of opinion.
In the first he says: "It is hard for me to restrain the expression
of my feeling in regard to the able and noble service you have done
in the Manifesto and by the speeches you are now delivering" etc.
etc. This leads me to another matter.
Several towns invited me to deliver lectures on the subject of
Land Nationalization. I commenced at Gawler, a report of which
has doubtless reached you by this. The critics were kind, and, as it may please those at home, I extract a few lines from a journal
opposed to our views. The Bunyip says:
Up to Wednesday evening last our only knowledge
of the purposes of the Society was gained thro' the
press, but on that evening Gawler was honored by
the presence of one of the Vice-presidents, Mr. P.
MoM. Glynn B.A., L.L.B., who has been amongst
us and from his lips we have heard something of the
matter. We believe all who have listened to his utterances
will join with us in thinking that it would
be difficult to find a gentleman better qualified for the
task he has undertaken. He has a good presence
and voice, a choice flow of language, and is able to
put his views before his auditors in logical sequence.
On the following week I lectured in the North at three places
on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, and then came back. Last
Tuesday, by invitation, I speak at a place near here to a very Irish
audience of farmers.
From this you will see what we have been at. Liston is a
splendid fellow — able, enthusiastic, and honest — in the full latin
sense of the word —-to a nicety. He is about 43 or 44, married,
with four or five young daughters. His partners have grumbled a
good deal, fearing loss of business (auctioneers — a big business
here in Stock, guaranteeing etc.), but Liston believes duty points
the way, and thither he goes. At his request I took to the platform,
because there is no use irritating the firm too much, but he
is a very able speaker. He is, in fact, a splendidly honest fellow—
by the riff raff pocket worshippers, of course, considered a foolish
You have not, I think, a just estimate of Michael Davitt. The
more I know of him the more I admire the man. He has the great
and exceptional quality of earnestness. What can be finer than
his language in a letter extracted into the Herald article on "The
Land Question in Ireland", Oct. 14th '82. If I have not sent you
the paper, my mother will lend it to you. By the way, you might
ask them in Gort to file the K. H., lest my file should be burnt or lost.
You ought to read George's Progress & Poverty & Social
Problems, which will give you a clear knowledge of our drift.
Webster tells me that George is engaged on [a] new edition of
Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations, and is publishing a work on
American protection. The prevailing depression has given rise to
an agitation for Protection here, though it has proved the greatest
curse of our next door neighbour Victoria. I have written on the
subject in today's Herald, which I send you.
My hopes of this country are not much. It is dry, very dry,
though the soil is excellent. When the rain fails at the proper
season, the wheat yield is small, and for another twelve months
industry all round is paralysed. In conjunction with this must be
taken the fact that the price of wheat — our staple product — is
going downwards below its present abnormally low figure. The
farmers only scrape & exhaust the soil; in time, with a better system
of agriculture, and a denser population which will bring about
irrigation, everything will be different. They don't reap wheat in
South Australia; they have a machine which clips the ears off when
dry, the straw being left standing and afterwards burnt. The
machine is called the South Australian Wheat Stripper — only workable
in a very dry climate, and the invention of S.A.
On the 16th of this month I was 4 years here. When we
parted at Euston, neither of us probably thought much of what
were to be the subsequent facts, so seldom do conjectures come
right. You are now very likely as certain to remain at home as
I am to remain here — not from real preference, but people never
make allowance for the decadence of old and the birth of new
associations. A fellow in revisiting old places after a lapse of years
finds old faces and ways gone; if he remains he has really to begin
a new life, and, perhaps, someone has somewhere grown dear in
the interval. The fact of it is, when a fellow gets near thirty, he
changes considerably — that is, if he has anything in the way of
heart in him. Hazlitt somewhere says that everything he had
enumerated might have made him happy, but there was one great
want. She was not there. The pathetic side of life comes on
sooner or latter — not for all, as four fifths have not the capacity to
feel it — & then the great yearning for some one to share the feeling
of it, or, better, shake it off begins. It is Ruskin who says
that "no man ever lived a right life who had not been chastened
by a woman's love, strengthened by her courage, and guided by her discretion." Listen to what he says of home —
This is the true nature of home — it is the place of
peace, the shelter not only from all injury, but from
all terror, doubt and division. In so far as it is not
this, it is not home; so far as the anxieties of the
outer life penetrate into it, and the inconsistently minded,
unknown, unloved, or hostile society of the
outer world is allowed by either husband or wife to
cross the threshold, it ceases to be home; it is then
only a part of the outer world which you have roofed
over, and lighted fire in. But so far as it is a sacred
place, a vestal temple, a temple of the hearth watched
over by Household Gods, before whose faces none
may come but those whom they can receive with love
— so far as it is this, and roof and fire are types only
of a nobler shade and light — shade as of the rock
in the weary land, and light as of Pharos in the
stormy sea; so far it vindicates the name and fulfils
the praise of Home.
And wherever a true wife comes, this home is
always round her. The stars only may be over her
head; the glow worm in the night cold grass may be
the only fire at her foot, but home is yet wherever
she is; and for a noble woman it stretches far round
her, better than ceiled with cedar, or painted with
vermillion, shedding its quiet light far, for those who
else were homeless.
Dr. Pentiand has just delivered my complement of some photos
from our Lawn Tennis Club, one of which I send you for my
mother. The last fellow to the right as you look at it is Lees,
Dublin fellow, next Prorating, Tasmanian, next with the tall hat
Jenkin Coles, one of the Ministry, Commissioner of Crown Lands.
The fellow between Propsting and Coles is, I believe, myself, though
when I first saw it I thought it was you. The second last girl on
the left hand side is Miss Maggie Disher, one of the best — if not
the best little girl of the lot. In the centre, with the racket crosswise
on her right shoulder, is Miss Aggie Fotheringham, considered
very pretty or handsome. Both are only occasional visitors here,
so that the group does not altogether consist of our tennis players.
If I don't mention the others, of course, you will put it down to
want of space. I have marked this photo (a), as, before the mail
leaves, perhaps I might get some of the other groups. If I do,
send one to Elizabeth.
I don't know whether you are tired yet, but I measure your
taste for long letters by mine for those that come from home. Besides,
you might send the whole or such part as you think fit to
Gort, to save me the trouble of writing another, which at present I
cannot easily do. It is a considerable time, if I remember aright,
since I heard from Gort; so that the next letter should contain a
more than usual amount of news.
Fanny McDonald has not written to me for an unusually long
time. She took Robert's daughter, Cecilia, to live with her, and
probably by this time finds that the step has involved her in some
trouble. Fanny expects so much in the way of order and reciprocal
affection, and consequently is often disappointed. Lizzy Wallsh
has an idea that I & Johnny Wallsh are going to Sydney at Xmas,
which is impossible. Lizzy seems to have a nice family — minus
the husband. From what I have heard of him, he seems to be
a good for nothing drunkard. The best fellows in this life often
can not get married — the worst do whether they can or not.
I have not heard for something like 11/2 years of McLoughlin.
He was at one time fourteen miles from here — working as a day
laborer — but since I sent him a suit of clothes, the past swallowed
him altogether. I would like to know what has become of him.
I don't think he has anticipated Nature.
It is now time for me to finish, so with remembrances to all
friends, I am
Your affect, brother
P. McM. Glynn
P.S. 24th Oct. Having delayed despatching the above till the last
moment, I am able to acknowledge the receipt of my mother's
letter of 17th Sept which just arrived. Congratulate on my behalf
Johnny & Marian as well as Elizabeth & Tom for having increased
the trunk and branches of our stock. I forgot, also, to express my
pleasure at Eugene's success in passing his first medical examination,
and tell him that I feel sure he will follow on in the same
hopeful line, now that he has raised himself a little. Johnny might
remember me to Blaquiere. I hope he won't have much opposition in the legal line in Gort, as it is hard on a fellow not to get a decent
chance of living before the best years of his life have passed. Joe
and Bob should remember me to my old friends of the French
I find I have written a good deal outside my own paper in
defence & exposition of our L. N. programme & principles, but have
not sent the copies home. The second edition of our Manifesto
has not arrived yet, so I send you a couple of copies of the first.
We are now upon the threshold of summer, which does not mean
joy here — rather the opposite. I have begun to get up at 6 a.m.
now, to have some tennis before breakfast. Winter is the pleasantest
time here — the Quadrille parties & dances are then in full swing,
and the Australians are, most of them, capital dancers. I occasionally
get invited to Adelaide dances — held in Town Halls & —
where to the music of Piano, cornet, violin & flute — some excellent
work is done. These are breaks in the gloom, which do not come
with summer. But I find I have only got half done with a troublesome
subject and the printers are waiting for more slips, so I must
say farewell for the present.
P. McM. G.