Main content

Title: McMahon Glynn, Patrick to Glynn, James P., 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, James P.
Recipient Gendermale
Doc. No.
Partial Date
Doc. Type
Word Count2048
Genrefamily, women, finding work, society, religion, leisure
Transcript2 Mint Place—La Trobe St.
April 25th 1881

My dear James
There is 'a maxim' in some of the Latin Poets—Horace, I think
—scribere jussit amor. Love certainly made you write, and I am
glad to hear it. I have been anxiously waiting for a letter from you
or Blaquiere, and received yours with pleasure. In fact up to the
present I have obtained intimacy with so many persons of respectability
in Australia, with whom to contract friendship [would be bad
enough], that I would not repine very much if the Indian and
Pacific Oceans kissed over the continent. I don't think I gave you a
very sweet account of the Glynn faction in my last letter; I am afraid
I can't improve on it now. McDonald and his wife are separated
under a deed; after having been for a long time by myself I have
go[ne] to reside in her boarding house—her means of support-—now.
Bye the bye—the last boarding house I was in was a Kip—but I
did not su[s]pect it while there. McD. is about the most depraved
type of humanity I ever met. Lying, fornicating, egotistical, mean,
covering everything with such a veneer of sweet and smiling hypocrisy
that he would deceive the devil. I was on the point of leaving several
times, but he persuaded me to remain with the seductive blandishments
of a siren—while all the time he was badgering his wife at
night to get me away, so that he might begin his blackguardism again.
To me he was always smiling. But if I was to tell you all about this
miserable stew into which I had the misfortune to go as a visitor, I
would disgust myself and you. McDonnell, however, might have let
his vileness sleep, if he had been married to another woman. A half
connected whore would have suited him. His wife was a flightly,
gunpowdery, quicksilver, bad tempered woman, capable of a considerable
amount of good nature and affection, but the latter of a sort
that would nauseate on many; she was sensitive to the slightest lingual
slip, always talked too much or too little, recounted her misfortunes
to too many friends, liked her own way in opinions—but was stainless
in morality. Her fancy for boys and girls was an appearance against
her—she took an adopted-son sort of fancy for a fellow of sixteen
who was serving his time in the house and placed under her care. McD. when she last left him and commenced divorce proceedings—
was prepared to swear she went wrong with him—this would be
perjury no doubt—but she continued to act so as to give grounds for
suspicion—when having him taken back to Simpson's Rd. and now
has him as a lodger when 21 years of age—simply because she
considered herself right. I say this to show you what style of woman
McDonald was married to—no man is so damnably bad that his
villiany is altogether the birth of his own temper;—he saw in her one
who possessed some of the quicksilver faults but few of the fascinating
graces of woman carnally considered. Her faults are not vices—they
are worst when she sits in judgment on those who don't take her side
—she can't do them justice—but flatter her and have a taking outside—
and you are an angel. Thus much to give you an idea of
McDonald and Co. I don't do it for the sake of gabber about
woman—unless you meet one able to reciprocate a true affection
they are better appreciated when not met—but you might have the
misfortune to come out here sometime and it is well to know whom
you may meet.
I am glad for your sake you have got stricken by one of
Cupid's arrows. Nothing gives a man half the enjoyment that a well
placed affection does. When you meet a girl that is a woman in every
respect, who bears some resemblance, however faint, to one of
Shakespeare's women—if I may be so sacreligious as to mention the
latter in connection with living females—I can't say that a man makes
an ass of himself in falling towards love. The generality of women
demoralize men with their damm twaddle; they can scarcely chirp
outside their own miserable nests—but I would lock myself up for
life with a Viola, an Imogen or a Lizzy Hexam—and a few good
books of course. Besides cash is a devillish good sauce to love—so
I wish yourself and Daly luck in your amours.
I have issued a pamp[h]let a copy of which I send you. The
publication of it cost me £23 and left with 30 bob; it has been
praised by many, but how the sale goes on I don't know yet—
expenses will satisfy me. Trying to get business here as a stranger is
like attacking the devil with an icycle. As regards life, fine women,
appearances and dash the city is far beyond Dublin. It is more like
London. The girls are better built, and more immoral, a fact to
which I attribute their development. You generally find nuns flat
about the breasts. But you see I have not got a single friend of respectability to introduce me. Poor Maryanne, I think, is not so bad
as she was painted. I have found her peculiar, but not radically bad
at bottom. I have found a good many other than they were painted.
I have inquired about the prospects of bank clerks here. They
don't seem to be higher than at home. I don't think you would get
£ 100 to start with if you came out—even if you got into a bank at
all and were allowed your service hitherto. As to the civil service
here I would advise no fellow to think about it. It is uncertain in
tenure and badly paid—partisanship being the mode of appointment.
Artisans and farmers are the only class to whom I would give advice
to emigrate; not that the country is poor in resources, but in the
present stage of their development, the produce of the soil, which,
except in the case of a really manufacturing country like England,
constitutes real wealth, is too small for the number of distributers.
In time this country will be able to support 40 millions; but the
influx of unproductive labourers must be put a stop to. Unskilled
gentlemen, professional men, unless they are doctors who wish to go
up country, had better remain at home.
This is not [a] religious country by any means. I don't say that
it is not Church-going, but it is not religious. The newspapers, from
whom the multitude unbible their morals, in fact are almost professedly
sceptical. Education is secular under State Regulation and
pay—the Catholics as usual wanting to have it in their own fashion;
I would upset the system, if at all, because it is too expensive, but
not because it is secular. I am afraid Macaulay's New Zealander
will sketch St. Paul's, when the doings of Rome will interest only
antiquarians. The theological fabric of eighteen centuries is politely
nodding to the world in the manner that preludes a fall. It is extraordinary when one looks back on history to see through what a
feculent sink of crime, blood, misery, blindness, and general horrers
our ancesters from Adam had to pass in order to leave us the legacy
of half civilization. People will be better educated and consequently
less slaves for the future.
Every one plays the Piano here—all the rising generation I
mean. It is in general played in a manner that the Irish never think
of attempting. How much less barberous would the lower orders of
society be if they cultivated music and refinement of taste in literature
a little more! In this land of flowers you may pass a pretty little
cottage, with vine tracery across the verandah, and see through the
flowers a buxom girl seated at a Piano. What is she? Not Mrs Snub
nor the Hon. Mrs Turn-up-my-nose's daughter, but probably Tom Stonearse—the Mason's, or Jim Waxhole the Shoemaker's. The
working man is all right here—for the present.
I have been out for a bath with another of the circumcised
since the last sentence. It is very hot—the north or hot winds are
blowing. When they are not, the climate is very soft and chastely
sunny. It was at its worst when I arrived here. The baths are very
fine, nearly an acre of the sea being fenced in to prevent the ingress
of sharks. This is the devil's place for bank holidays. Every notable
event is recorded in a general holiday.
For the last few days I have begun to study German. There are
two Germans in the house, so I determined to take advantage of the
fact. It is not so hard as I thought; and is a language that often turns
up on cross-examination here.
Poor Johnny Wallsh has settled business in a place called
Derrugville [?=Dowlingville], York Peninsula, South Australia. It is
a city of three houses, but one being in the occupation of a blacksmith.
His sister Lizzy is in Wagga, New South Wales, I wished to
heavens the Wallshs were near me and not the Glynns. I think with
pleasure of the former, while the latter are a queer lot. I don't know
what I said to you about Cissey, but I find her, as many others, not
so bad as Fanny painted her. She may not be as sound principled as
her sister, but she has not got that snappish temper that like tightening
turns a smile into a snarl. She has endeavoured to get me business
etc., whatever the devil that means. Fanny says that Elly Glynn of
Sydney is a perfect devil, but I would like to know in some other
way before believing it. As soon as I can afford private chambers I
will seclude myself with myself and books.
An old fellow named Ryder called here to see me a few times.
He knew my father well; and, though at present in the benevolent
asylum, has been in affluent circumstances here. The death of all his
family has left him a lone old man. You might mention this to the
Gort people.
I think I have told you as many things of importance as I can
remember. As for myself I spend my time in dodging about the
Courts and libraries. A guinea a year entitles me to a volume from a
fine lending library called the Atheneun; the institution is supplied
with all the English papers, magazines, Daily Papers etc.; and has a
ladies reading Room, a large general Reading Room, and a small one.
Melbourne is so much beyond Dublin in this respect that the latter
city seems still in the last century. The theatres are much more after
the London and Paris fashion, and the streets at night twenty times as animated. You remember on Kingstown pier you mentioned to
me that I would miss the Irish women in the land of ogres. It is the
contrary. At first I thought not, as I only saw the country people in
certain streets, but I would guarantee a fellow would feel less
virtuously inclined here than in Ireland; but I have not indulged in
those interesting amusements since July last.
Considering I am the centre of a circle of correspondence, from
whom numerous letters are expected to radiate, and that you are only
one point on the circumference, I consider I have not written you a
short letter. Let me see what you will do in Return—for the present
remember me of course to dear Miss Tobin, O'Leary, Daly etc. etc.

Your affect, brother
P. McM. Glynn

N.B. My mother sent me Thorn's copy of the Iudicature act instead
of Dillon's Iudicature Act. Tell her what I want is the Iudicature
Act edited and annot[at]ed by Dillon—price 10s. Blaquiere knows
it. There is a certificate for oratory in Trinity College for me; ask
about it. PS. Send one of pamphlets home.