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3-198 (Text)

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author,male,Deniehy, Daniel Henry,32 addressee
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Newspapers & Broadsides
Deniehy, 1884
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It is a very absurd thing, that feeling of the relative superiority and inferiority of trades and professions which obtains in modern society. You shake your head a little. Ah, I am afraid you don't go along in democratic opinion with Mr. Cowper and The Empire and The Era and The Southern Cross, though the latter's notions on this point differ somewhat from those of the preceding authorities; the three former basing the business on what will pay, the latter on principle. Aristocracy was a capital spec before the passing of the Electoral Reform Bill. But there isn't a newspaper or an orator in the country mad enough now to go in for anything but democracy in some shape or other. There are pretty broad interspaces in democracy, however; for instance, between the mild ideas of Mr. Jones, the honourable Member for the Hunter, and the extreme views of the raciest of stump orators, Mr. White of the Land League. Mr. Jones, as you are aware, is a born democrat; sprung from the people, he should stand by the people. But then democracy, after all, must be cool and cautious in a man whose savings are in bank stock, who protects property as a member of assurance boards of management, and keeps an eye on incendiaries, which, you know, is a phrase as much recognised amongst steady and respectable politicians as amongst the newspaper reporters of arson and the police. Ah well, you will shake your head at my remarks on the distinction between the trades and professions. I presume, reader, you would rather have Miss Pincherwell at the Globe say, at her merciless tea-table, your wife was the daughter of a solicitor than of a shoemaker. Well, perhaps I'm a cynical philosopher, but I know which of the two vocations is likely to be the honestest. It is a curious speculation. But did ever any man, a widower for instance, who wanted his children taken care of after the death of his beloved - they're the most paternal of men these widowers - did ever any one hear of a man's wedding and taking to his bosom the daughter of his lawyer? There have been pillar saints and there are Indian faquirs; and Heaven only knows but there may be men unaccused of nympholepsy who have done this kind of thing before. BaIzac, in all his diggings into human nature, never hit upon so abnormal a curiosity of human nature as the man who had married the child of his avocat. 
Trades and professions! I have known carpenters and tailors, not only with more refinement of feeling, more honour and what is with greatest strength dwelt upon, more education, than two-thirds of your attorneys, - than, as a writer in the Southern Cross once called them, the Geebung Solicitors. Talk of the Hebrew lawyers at the Old Bailey! And how hard some of the sharpest of them have tried at dodging the schoolboy examination in the ancient literatures and mathematics, which is made by law a qualification for admission to the bar of New South Wales. Even Mr. Martin tried to induce Parliament to legislate in this way once, at one stage of his career - to suit himself, of course, as Mr. Martin usually tries to obtain legislation. They wouldn't do it, for obvious reasons. Perhaps, as beasts of prey everywhere, but here especially, attorneys object to the Humanities. And Mr. Martin, who has pluck, if he hasn't principle, buckled to, and with the aid of old Dr. Adelong Suffix, went at his Greek and Latin grammar, to qualify himself for the silk gown which, candidly, he wore as well as he discharged the political charges connecting themselves with it, - basely and unworthily. 
But why, O reader, I talked of the difference between the trades and professions was this. The next cartoon I shall exhibit to you represents a "Cabinet making" at the Victoria Club. I'm given to moralising, and if you had not intimated doubt, I was going to ask you which of the two vocations was most respectable, most moral, most purely beneficial to society, - cabinet making at Lenehan's or Sly's, where money is earned by solid, sober work, or Cabinet making as understood by Mr. Martin or Mr. Arnold? Trades and professions! I don't think the Greeks thought more of the man who gave them boluses, and knew a thing or two out of Hippocrates and Antaeus, than they did of the skilled, hearty, honest fellow who had squared the marble blocks for the pedestals of the glorious bronzes of Lysippus, or the breathing marbles of Phidias, and voted as he liked for the particular Athenian Dr. Lang of the day at the bema, without caring a rush for any physic man, even if his father had been an archon. You want to see the second cartoon. I promised you should see all the pictures, and so you shall. They are in Brunhilda's custody; but as that young lady is just now at church, Heraclea shall exhibit. Here she is. Heraclea, ma mignonne, show the reader Number Two, while I do cicerone for him. It is really a good room, you see, well-proportioned and nicely corniced, with French lights, with a verandah worthy of an Indian bungalow, with veils of mellow shadows given by the grand old fig-tree in front of the house. How delicious in a sitting-room in these noons of summer the twilight of a superb old tree's shadow! Everything is as calm as it is fair and cool. Though you are in Castlereagh Street, and see, when you look out of the deep verandah, the spire of St. George's Church, soaring with its vanes and its pure, graceful pinnacles into the sweet, deep blue air, you have as little noise as you might expect at Bong-Bong or Jurabit's Gally. The furniture is gaudy; more like the properties in a theatrical scene than the appointments of a saloon which men of taste and refinement and a sense of elegance in form and colour could by any possibility have fitted up for themselves. The furniture was bought at a very great price for the old Sydney Club, by a very great man who was once a Law Officer of the Crown here. His notions of marbles were rather narrow. His ideas of the superb in that line being, in fact, gathered from the big rooms in Colonial hotels. His claims to taste really lay in cookery; and that is, you know, so easily and universally acquired, - a taste for which nobody needs an acquaintance with the entertaining volumes, on the subject of the Alison. Latterly, getting rich, this great man has taken to affecting erudition in the finer vintages of Europe, rather risky for a self-raised man of Colonial education. O James! do you imagine the Hocheimer you gave Isaacs had ever Teutonic origin at all? 
Ah! we natives must not try the fashionable extravagances of Englishmen, unless we happen to be gentlemen to begin with, and have had a European education, like Sir Daniel Cooper's affecting to buy chef d'oeuvres in pictorial art. Genuine white Hermitage out here is only some degrees rarer than original sketches of Rubens. 
Four interesting figures these, seated in the room. The one with the bald head and somewhat darkened teeth is Mr. Charles Cowper. Back again! Yes, and engaged in the congenial task of cabinet making. He doesn't care a fig, bless you, for office, and has lost all taste for politics. But the necessities of the country at this crisis, and his own unquenchable patriotism, have induced him once more to launch upon the troubled waters when the syren voices called. At his side is the restless Eastern figure you saw in the First Cartoon, the non-historical Robertson. O Murrurrundi, when you sent Jack down, did you ever dream he would be Prime Minister? A solid man of iron that to the left of Mr. Cowper, a man who says, "How do you do?" with funeral pomp of tone, and imitates what he thinks must have been Dr. Johnson's way, when he asks "What's o'clock?" Did you ever see or hear him rise to a point of order in the House, and administer grave rebuke to a parliamentary transgressor of the minor ethics. You haven't! Well, it's quite as good in the slow way as Vivian Grey or Don Juan is in the fast. Talk about magic: the true gramarye in the British Colonies is responsible government. Did Elias Carpenter Weekes, behind Burdekin's counter, ever dream that he should be Treasurer of New South Wales? 
You hesitate and talk about men who have raised themselves from pauper boyhood to be chancellors and rulers of kingdoms. But, reader, I claim responsible government in the Colonies as endowed with witchcraft or wizardcraft on this particular ground. Your Chief justices and Chancellors in the Old World had intellect. Elias Carpenter Weekes was never charged by his worst enemy with having a distinct idea in his head. He understands Britannia metal well enough, it is true, and is capital albata himself; though Cowper, who is nickel, is the better washed of the two. He's a big brawny man, the other figure, what the Irish would call "a clever man." The Hibernians use the phrase in a physical as well as a mental sense. 
I'm no admirer of the man, but I'm not quite sure that he's not entitled to the epithet in both senses. Politically, I think him a profligate; but there are good qualities in him nevertheless. The big man is William Mumings Arnold. His opposition to Mr. Forster's Government was both rancorous and factious, on the very face of it a personal opposition. In political morals that sort of thing is unspeakably bad. But, as far as human nature goes, you must make this allowance for the Member for the Paterson. Forster really should never have invited Arnold's co-operation in forming a Ministry. The right thing was declining to act with Mr. Arnold, but the incurably wrong one was ever to have asked him to join. Alas for Forster! Asking a man of talent and education with a bad political character, like Arnold, you may condemn; but think of his inviting the quondam driver of the Bathurst mail coach to take a seat in the Cabinet. Still, you say, Jack Robertson is Prime Minister. Well, well, Heaven knows what we shall come to; Milton, you know, talks of something lower than the lowest depth. They're Cabinet making. Think of Mr. Charles Cowper back again to aid in that operation. People said he had an affection in the head; don't believe a word of it. There will always be something wrong at his heart, but his head, for such a head, is right enough. 
Things are arranged, you see, as far as they can be. Jack says, - his face getting very red, just as at Christmas examinations you've seen a boy's when the blue ribbon to which the silver medal was attached was put round his neck, his mamma and his sisters looking very steadily the while at him, - Jack says, "I'll be Premier; in fact, I suppose I must." Cowper looks mildly at Jack, but says nothing; and Jack drops the Eastern eyes, and wonders so why people in Brussels make diamonds and squares always as patterns for carpets. 
Jack thinks for a moment of his father's shop at the old Queen's wharf, with its chronometrical watches, and comforts himself with an image of poor old Robertson père. Then dreams an instant of his battles with the magistrates in the bush, and his attendances on Richard Windeyer, and he whispers to himself, "Well, old fellow" (he thinks of his boyhood, does Jack), "your son is Prime Minister of the Colony"; and another thought crosses him, "I don't know much about governing, but I'll try!"