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Title: McMahon Glynn, Patrick to Glynn, Elizabeth, 1881
CollectionPatrick McMahon Glynn: Letters to his family (1874-1927) [Gerald Glynn O'Collins]
SenderMcMahon Glynn, Patrick
Sender Gendermale
Sender Occupationunemployed
Sender Religionunknown
OriginMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
DestinationGort, Co. Galway, Ireland
RecipientGlynn, Elizabeth
Recipient Genderfemale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count1433
Genreweather, account of Melbourne, society, finding work
Transcript136 Victoria Street
Richmond, Melbourne
2nd January 188one

My dear Elizabeth
I was glad to receive your letter, with its volley of Xmass cards
at Xmass. Tell Mary Agnes and the boys that their cards were the
only indication of its being the 25th December. Australians may
boast as much as they like about their glorious climate, but give me
the Irish December 25th, with its beautiful snow, silvery frost, rosy
cheeked skaters, and cheerful firesides, to the yellow thin grass,
rotten barkless trees, and dust laden athmosphere of Australia. This
is the most changeable climate I ever knew. Christmas day was
cloudless, clear, and comparatively mild—-next day I awoke to find
the hot winds blowing like air from a furnace, carrying dust along
with it thicker than the densest London fog, rotting meat that was
killed the night before, breeding maggots by the billion, and making
people shut doors, windows, and blinds to keep it out. You would
just as soon go out in a dust storm here, as in torrents of rain at
home. Whenever the sky is over-cast, the wind blows from all
quarters in a minute, raising eddies of dust over the tops of the houses. Dust, extremes of temperature in one day, variability, flies,
insects etc. are the bane of Australia; a beautifully fine day, when it
does come, flowers everywhere, a rather pretty but muddy river,
plenty of busses etc., some fine gardens, a few fine streets, no frost,
snow etc. are considered among the advantages of Melbourne.
The working classes are well off, their houses cozey, with
verandahs interlaced with vines, flowery gardens, their daughters
pianists, their children disobedient, their food cheap, (mutton VÆ
& 2d. per Ib.) their working hours eight, their holidays many etc. etc.
etc. etc. I can't see how the middle classes are better off than at
home—now—-they were. Too many shops are being opened, too
many towns built. The Upper classes—but who are they, perhaps
bankers, squatters, book makers, and some docters,—are some very
rich, some not, but they are rich because they came here early.
Lawyers. The old solicitors are well off, because they encroach on
barristers' business. Barristers are a great many briefless, a few
monopolize the business. A man of middle class ability, without a
fluent tongue and having no connection here, had better stay at
home. If I get on—the devil thank the colony. I can't see how I am
to do so without becoming a politician; and as such I ought to succeed,
if I get a chance. I spoke recently at a Reform League; and old
Dennie1, who brought me there, has been waited upon several times
since to use his influence with me to have me join them. If I see my
way clear to getting soon into Parliament through them, I will, as this
league belongs to the conservative, or anti-democratic side, and
consequently wealthy side, of Politics. But I must see Sir John
O'Shanassy first, whom I have failed to meet yet. As I can speak, (a
fact which I say, from plainness not vanity, it being inherited from
my parents as much as acquired) I feel confident of emerging from
the rank and file.
When I say that I am more disappointed with Melbourne as
regards prospects, than elated, don't think it is because I wish to
cavil at and throw water on good reports. It is better [to] speak the
truth, than induce others, who might act on my report, to make a
serious mistake in their line of conduct. I'll get on here if I get a
chance, but I could name many others, better men than me in other
respects, but with tongues less adaptable to the multitude's tastes,
who might starve here. This is not my own opinion alone. The Vice-Chancellor of the University, and another eminent man told me
to go back at once. But I may disappoint them.
It is six hours since I wrote the last line, and in the meantime I
have seen Sir John O'Shanassy. He is a very nice fellow. He is the
great leader in Parliament of the Catholic faction, in favour of
denomination as against secular education. Education here is secular
—given in State schools, grades, and compulsory. He wants to have
separate grants for Catholics, but I doubt if they will disturb existing
institutions for one sect. He has however the head Protestant bishop,
Dr. Moorhouse, on his side also. Don't think I am writing all this
Politics for you—but Robert, Joseph, Eugene, Mary Agnes and other
staunch political characters will be glad to hear of State Affairs.
Sir J. O'Shanassy says if I can get a start, that I won't have
much difficulty in getting on, as ability is not very great at present at
the bar. He can't do much for a young barrister, as one must be
some time at his profession to become eligible for appointments, but
wherever and whenever he may be of use he volunteered his influence.
The difficulties to contend against are in getting a start to enable me
to support an office. But I must wait for fortune. If, as people say,
it does not always go in the same grouve, the next change ought to
be beneficial.
Melbourne is not such a place as the Graphic pictures it. Some
of the Public buildings, (for instance the Courts and houses of
Parliament) won't be finished for a few years, but the Newspapers
sketch them from the models. But the suburban villas are pretty, all
having verandahs and balconies in front; so that you can walk from
the parlours or drawing rooms on to the balconies, and be shaded
from the sun by flowers and vines which flourish here. Flowers grow
wild here, that would require Cod Liver Oil to keep them alive at
home. I dare say you would like this. You would also like the
cozy little cottages, the beautiful public gardens, the block or
fashionable promenade through Collins, Lonsdale, Elizabeth and
Bourke Streets at 4 p.m. [You would] observe the absence of
Policemen, the short sentences on roughs, the numerous theatres,
none of which I have visited yet, the arcades like Paris—but you
would object to the sharks in the sea, the leeches in the lakes, the
snakes in the fields and the flies etc. Music is much appreciated here
—Moryah Hobby would play the piano in Melbourne—but there are
few good bands. In the Churches (R.C.) singing is very good, but
too theatrical. This is a very billy city. It is built I believe upon seven hills, like Rome. To go from the New Law Courts in King William Street
to this [house] you would walk as follows:

O! that's the diagram!
It covers a greater area for 260-,
000 population than most cities.
But some parts are very scattered. [diagram]
In train and bus traffic it follows
London—in gardens Paris style.

Xmass day, St. Stephen's day, New Year's day are spent out of
doors by most people. There are many pretty places of Resort I
believe down the bay and up country—but where is the green grass
of Ireland? The surroundings of Dublin are much better. But enough
of description this time.
Aunt Grace wrote me a very nice letter a few weeks ago. She
was delighted to see a son of her sister's, she said (and was as well as
said)—this is the devil's note paper—she pressed me very hard to go
over to settle in Adelaide, saying Priests and Nuns would use their
influence for me etc., but for the present my die is cast here. It was
the blotting paper that sucked the ink through. I will go to see her
when I can afford it. J. Walsh also wrote to me and may turn up
here soon. Yesterday was a lovely day—tonight what you might expect
about March at home.
As I am not in a fruitful humour for invention, I can't say any
more at present, as this leaves all here. Remember me to all at
home, and in 'Dublin' to my several uncles who never deserted me in
the hour of need. I am trying to pick up the Piano by note, and am
about now to devote myself to those interesting and rising branches
of music—the scales. Fanny sends her love and thanks for the cards,
and so does

Your affectionate brother
P. McM. Glynn

Much obliged for the papers, which are well selected.