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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 Count2671
Genrefamily, change of residence, finding work, adversity
Transcript97 Stephen St.
14th Nov. 1881.

My dear James
My mother has written me two long letters containing an account
of Elizabeth's marriage. I need not say that I was only too well
pleased at the happy event, as respectability of character and family,
as well as a reciprocated affection are not every day to be found in
modem husbands. It might be a consolation to think that the blood
if not the name of the Glynns has thus acquired a chance of legitimate
propagation. The fact that it was connected with the promotion of
both you and O'Donnell was also pleasant. I can only heartily wish them all the blessings which are due to, but seldom attendant on,
judicious unions.
As at the present moment I am comparatively isolated from
Society my news must necessarily be personal. It is, as usual, for
yourself only, not being of a nature calculated to add much pleasure
to the present happy feelings of the others. Men can only laugh at
the business, but women are apt to fret.
A few days after my last letter to you, I left Mrs. McDonald's.
Her tongue fell heavily on every one for whom I had affection—1st
aunt Grace, who is nothing but good nature and trusting kindness,
and lastly my mother. When I tell you that my mother has not yet
written a long letter of condolance to her on her separation and that
she is a most furious and vindictive woman (revengeful to death even
for the smallest imaginary trifle) you will see the cause. It came to
my ears that she (while hypocritical before me) had been informing
my acquaintances and her lodgers that my mother was a rich woman
who sent me out here to live upon her and her husband, saying that
she would not have kept a boarding house but for my accommodation
etc. etc. etc. I left on the moment without a word. I found it hard
even to conceive at first, but had condemning proof from a schoolfellow
of mine who left with me. She asked him there as a visitor
when out of employment in consideration of some medical services,
and afterwards wrote to a crazy aunt of his an abominable letter
behind his back. When I think of the God she attempted to make of
me when first at her husband's, the letters she used to slip under my
pillow begging of me to leave with her and go stop in her house for
the sake of her name, promising to do everything under Providence
for my comfort—my refusal while she was with her husband—the
contemptible acquaintances I had to meet on her account—the
manner in which she forced me afterwards when she ran away to stop
in her house, by threats of suicide etc. etc., and her subsequent
conduct behind my back and general manner, I really can only think
that the woman was never born, but belched by the devil's mother
clean up from hell. But she had done the same to every friend she
ever had. I was told so in the beginning and did not believe it.
Madness, I think, is the cause; in one of her fits of temper I have
known her to spout blood from the mouth. I am for the future done
with her—except that I intend to pay her up, if I ever am fortunate
from the moment of my arrival. Requiescat in pace.
Having held a council of war in the street with my friend as to
action, we determined to convert all my effects into cash and go by a midnight boat to Sydney. It was then 9.30 p.m., and we had not a
fluke. My friend's clothes had gone the way of the world already—
with the exception of a few trifles. On further consideration, however,
I determined to wait in Melbourne two days longer, with the intention
of making a last attempt of getting honorable employment through
Sir B. O'Loughlin. He promised—but of course gave none. Our
intention was to reach Sydney, and offer ourselves as stewards or
firemen on board any vessels bound for anywhere. Sydney is the
great terminus for most vessels, being a free trade port. However, we
put up at a public house, which is like a hotel here. Here the landlady's
husband proved to be Gerald Dunne of the gambling Blake
faction. Since his arrival in the colonies a year ago with another
man's wife—a woman of high position—he has been twice in gaol
etc. etc. and three weeks previously married the landlady of the
Athletic Clubs' hotel on spec. They are at present amusing themselves
by throwing bottles at each other's heads. He is a regular
Mantalini when he wants money—feigns suicide etc.—in fact a
perfect Mantalini. We remained there a week owing to a circumstance
which I am about to mention, and had a most wonderful time
of it. I was in charge of the bar-room all night until 5 a.m. one time
(when Dunne & wife could not appear) with the barmaid, which
necessitated my accepting challenges from every third fellow that
came in. When the week was up I intended to sell my books to help
to pay our bill, but was fortunate enough to get so well into the
landlady's good opinion that she scowled at the idea of taking a
halfpenny from me. This was unhoped for luck. In fact I had an
offer of free quarters there for a month, but of course refused. I then
took up my abode in the house of a Greengrocer—a widow with kids
—where I am still.
Now what kept me from Sydney was that I had an offer from the
general manager of the New Zealand Accident Insurance Co. that if I
would present myself at his office in Auckland New Zealand, about
the end of December, that he would give me an engagement as
travelling agent on commission. I would have to canvass and lecture,
riding on horseback through the country, and could, in his opinion,
make from £12 to £14 a week out of it. This was probably an
exagerration—but I consented. I must work my passage there, and
[am] trying hard to be allowed to do so.
To support ourselves in the meantime my friend and myself
applied for all sorts of situations. On the same day I applied for an
appointment as bullock-driver, potato peeler, classical master to a ladies' college and canvasser for a patent medicine. But the smallest
advertisement draws hundreds of applicants. I found that even potato
peeling is an art, as a man is expected to peel 50 or 60 in a second.
We had to sell pamphlets in the streets to keep ourselves from
starving, and often walked 8 miles for 6s. I was once near getting
[on board] as a fireman to Fiji, but was unfortunately disappointed.
We could scarcely get any one to purchase State Trials except barmaids,
who did so, I suppose, as we had the relics of respectability
about us. I shaved off my whiskers to conceal myself. When the
Melbourne Races came round, we determined to organise sweeps on
the course, charging commission. A whole day was spent in preparing
tickets etc. etc., and getting regalia for our hats etc.; but when we
reached the course, we found that even hunger could not induce us to
become one of the gang who got up sweeps there. I am sorry now,
as we probably would have cleared £30 on the meeting.
For two months now two of us have lived like Dick Swinler, on
pawn offices. Sometimes we lived on one meal a day, sometimes on
half a meal. We read in novels of fellows being hard up, but there is
always an air of romance about them—there is generally a pretty girl
somewhere in the background, and eventually they emerge in Marriage
and Riches. But I can tell you real life in impecunious circumstances
is not so rosy. When a man has to fast often for 24 hours,
even his stomach goes on strike and refuses to digest food when it
gets it. But something, certainly, did once or twice turn up. At one
time when we were in a desparate plight, my friend disposed of 500
pamphlets for 18s. At another time when we had walked 10 miles
from Melbourne on a stormy day, a crazy bookseller was induced to
purchase 24 for 2s, which brought us back and a dinner. And last of
all McLoughlin got a situation up the country as assistant to a Docter
[Sic] the day before yesterday. When I bid him good-bye at the train,
and walked back in the early morning with a Is. in my pocket to
battle by myself for the future, I confess for the first time in my life I
felt thoroughly down. When I sat down in the room by myself,
through some unaccountable impulse I lay down on the bed and cried
in spite of myself. But I was soon all right again. For the remainder
of the day however the whole world seemed black to me. I never so
much missed a friend before. Fellowship in adversity is a great
There was only one comfort left—the kindness of the landlady
and her pretty niece. Decenter people I never met; I am in her debt
now, but I think she would trust me any length. Though I am deeply indebted to her kindness, she never thinks so, and has an idea that she
can never talk well enough about my friend and myself. Her nieceage
IS and really very nice looking—is just the same, and seems to
know what I want before I think about it myself. I was just going
out now to spend my last 6d. on a banquet, when she interrupted me
with a brace of chops and onions, and a huge teapot. I demolished
the contents with wonderful alacrity. Sixpenny feeds are here by no
means contemptible. Every night we play cards together, and many
times I disappeared round the backway with an empty and returned
with full jug of beer. But for three weeks I have been a teetotaller.
My room window opens on a line of kips, the inhabitants of which
were accustomed to salute us as the brokendown gentlemen. In fact
the locality is by no means aristocratic. At night sleep is sometimes
difficult with the laughter of the ladies in the lane, the barking of dogs,
and the crowing of cocks. The Kids begin in the early morning. The
street is nearly all Jews.
If Shakespeare spoke the truth when he said,

When fortune means to men most good
She looks upon them with a threatening eye,

the good dame ought soon be propitious. My only wish now is to get
out of Melbourne as soon as I can. I would like to get to New
Zealand, which is a week's steam from here, and try the Insurance
business. It would show me the Country at all events, and would
entail swimming rivers on horseback etc. etc.—something like fun. If
possible I will go to Sydney first to see how matters stand there. But
at present my total effects are shirts and pawn tickets. Pipes, boots,
neckties, oratory medal, all are gone. One has only 3 months to
real[i]se clothes here, 6 months for jewellery. I hope you have been
able to get the Certificate for Oratory from the Secretary of the
College Historical Society.
This is a great country for suicides. Two in the papers this
morning. The old story: seduction and subsequent desertion. Such
contemptible hounds ought to be hanged. As for the women I can
now well conceive the spirit which prompted them to put an end to
themselves. Another case yesterday—well dressed girl of 22 found
dead on the beach. No one knows her.
I don't know the devil what has become of Blaquiere. He never
thought it worth his while to write. I suppose he thinks I never will
turn up again, so that it's no use minding me. But some of these days he may be mistaken, as when I have travelled the world, as is my
intention, I may suddenly turn up.
I must now make an end of this epistle. Where I will be when
you receive it I can't say, but if you direct your letters to the General
Post Office here they will be forwarded. The last -time I wrote to
you I asked you to see could Johnny send Mrs. McDonald something
on account. I am sorry I did so now. I am sorry I did so now, as I
really owe her nothing, she having considered it as an insult for me to
speak of payment when I had money. Besides I have done her
services far outweighing my obligation. But I will pay her every
fluke myself, and never save a penny until I have done so, so as to
obliterate the whole record of former relationship. My first experience
of women here makes me agree with Evadne in "the Maid's
Tragedy" of Fletcher:

All the creatures made for Heaven's honor have their ends and
good ones,
All but the cozening crocodiles' false women;
They reign here like those plagues, those killing sores
Men play against; and when they die, like tales
I'll told and unbelieved, they pass away,
And go to dust forgotten.

Damn that Kid!
But there are others—like my landlady's niece "That bears the
light about her and strikes dead With flashes of her eye."

Your affect. brother
P. McM. Glynn

J. P. Glynn Esq.

Tuesday Nov. 22nd. I could not post the letter to you last week as
I had not the price of a stamp. Today however I got a few shillings
from the country from my friend which enables me to do so. It's an
ill wind that blows nobody good. When he reached Ballarat last week
on his way to his destination he found that the latter was 18 miles
farther on—fare 5s—and no money in his pocket. Before proceeding
to tramp it he tried a bookseller who had some of my pamphlets &
got the proceeds of the sale of 19—6s. 3d. In fact the pamphlets always turned up, when we had reached the lowest stage of destitution.
They took very well on the whole, but of course I lost by them, as
one circulates among a multitude. Last week I met a young Irish
barrister on his way to Sydney to get called to the bar there. His
health would not permit him to stay at home. He gave me the news
about the bar and then ideas of how I am doing. I wrote a long and
pressing letter to Sir B. O'Loughhn who is at present premier here,
asking him for work.
Were it not for the kindness of my landlady and niece, I would
probably have put a stop to the business before this. Though I have
not had a rap for some time past, she made a bowl of mazzino for
me this morning on finding out I was sick all night. Ill luck generally
comes in quantities. A drunken loafer from McDonald's was brought
here on Saturday, and on the representation that he was a friend of
mine, got a room—or rather a bed in mine—on credit. He is no
friend of mine, no more than any of the fellows I met -thro' that
woman, so on finding this morning he had no money, I told him
quietly 'that I would cut his throat if he came back tonight. He went
out immediately for a newspaper, and has not returned yet.
Remember me to O'Leary and all the other honest fellows again

Your aff. brother
P. McM. G.