Cookson, 06 09 1911 2
6 September 1911
THE PLOUGHSHARE ARMOUR
BY WHOM WAS IT MADE The iron armour, thanks to which the Kelly outlaws were enabled to ward off death, dozens of them, was in no ?? knightly or handsome. ? in his simplicity, strictly utilitarian in its purpose it would ? have passed muster in the lists of Ashby. But, such as it was, it ? its turn. The outlaws doubtless had a keen eye to their personal safety when they ordered it. But they also must have appreciated the moral advantages that an apparent invulnerability would give them-as indeed, it has given many wrongdoers before. We have it on the admission of the police that, on the night of the Battle of Glenrowan, when Ned Kelly stalked amongst them, "armed cap-a-pie in complete mail," and minded not at all the bullets that they made noisy music on what poor old Mrs Jones calls his "iron clothes," they thought he was no man but the devil himself come to do battle for his own. It was a pity, from Ned Kelly's point of view, that the thoughtful and calculating Sergeant Steele, with his useful shot gun, full of swan drops, was not superstitious-and had a reasonably accurate knowledge of the protective limitations of the iron in which the outlaw was festooned.
The illustration shows a suit of outlaw's armor. It was that which Steve Hart used to wear, and which was found by his charred body after the Inn at Glenrowan had been fired. Where the other suits have disappeared to is known to none-except, perhaps, to certain of the police.
The Kelly's armor is popularly supposed to have been made out of ploughshares. Some of it may have been, but most of it was shaped out of tough plate-iron. And in fashioning it the smith took for his motto effectiveness associated with expedition. He was no armorer, this artisan. Possibly he had never seen armor before, even in pictures, or in tinsmith's display at an eight hours' procession. But he did his rough and willing best. And though there are few men on earth who would care to go a-hunting holy grails and distressed females and colored dragons and other circus freaks clad in the clothing fashioned by his hammer, there can be no doubting that many a Bob Acres would have given his patrimony and pawned his hopes of heaven for the privilege of viewing an armed adversary from the inside of them. This armor was built to stop bullets. And it did. It would have stopped the deadly little nickelled .303 with just as much certainty as the clumsy leaden Martini.
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