Cookson, 24 09 1911 2

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24 September 1911

(full text transcription)




Not one of the surviving relatives of the dead men has a thought to spare for the suggestion that they are alive. And there are reasons - weighty, cogent, unanswerable - for the unanimous belief in their death - reasons which it is not necessary to mention. But the suggestion actually has been made that these two members of the party escaped, and that they have been seen and spoken to in recent years. And upon this suggestion there has been lately written, and published, a great deal of matter relating to the wrongs of Ireland, and to a host of other things that never concerned Dan nor Hart in their lives, but which after their deaths 32 years ago, they are made to discourse upon in the fluency and knowledge of educated men of the present day.

It is as well to explain how this suggestion of survival originated. And the explanation is furnished by the following statement, written by a pressman who was in South Africa a few years ago:-

"I was vaguely informed, at Pretoria, that Dan Kelly and Steve Hart were still alive. The informant, at the time, did not persist in the assertion. A few days later he reverted to the Kelly gang, and repeated that the two outlaws were in the land of the living. To humour him, and to dispose of his delusion, the facts as memory served, were related of the fate of Dan Kelly and Steve Hart. 'Were not their bodies found among the debris?' 'No.' he declared, 'they were not.' 'Whose remains were they, then?' He asserted they were those of two drunken travellers who had been shot during the first volleys from the besieging police. I scouted the idea. A week or so later my Praetorian acquaintance called me aside, and assured me I had been introduced to both Dan Kelly and Steve Hart under assumed names. I could not recall anyone who struck me as a bushranger. I asked my Australian acquaintance to point out the notorious individuals. He replied there was not gold or diamonds enough in South Africa to tempt him to give them away. He was assured there was no such intention; that it was not the business of a pressman to act the amateur detective. He said he would see them and endeavour to arrange a meeting. I was curious only to know who were the men alleged to belong to the famous gang. Of course, I put it all down to swagger, if there was any base at all for the semi-confidences of my acquaintance.

"One night, when Praetorians, under martial law regulations, had long retired to rest, I was aroused by a knock at the door, in a detached cottage of the Cosmopolitan Hotel. On opening the door my acquaintance walked in. He was nervous and excited. 'I have brought them!' he whispered mysteriously. 'Brought what?' I asked. 'The boys.' 'What boys?' 'Dan and Steve.' 'Oh!' You mean the Kellys. Show them in!"

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the previous day . . . BW Cookson in the Sydney Sun index Cookson_index.html