Last modified on 20 November 2015, at 23:52

Cookson, 29 08 1911 3 (2)

29 August 1911

(full text transcription)

THE BUSHMAN There is a species of gravity of aspect common to all who live lonely lives in the wilderness. It is a gravity induced by the lack of society, much though - much introspective communion, varied by little or no communication with one's fellow-man. It is the gravity that goes hand-in-hand with loneliness, reflecting grimly the dreadful silence of the wilderness, picturing in its outward expression the solemnity of the bush's vast solitudes. One sees that gravity deeply stamped upon the face of Jim Kelly as he comes forward to the fence where we await him. But there is more than the sombre influence of the bush life behind it. This man has been a bushman from his boyhood. His work - he is a drover now - takes him away from human habitations often for weeks at a time. His horse and his dogs are his only companions on these long excursions, and it would be idle to look for aught save gravity on the face of a man who lived a life like tat. But in Jim Kelly grave face there is, besides, the unmistakable mark of a whole life's sorrow.

Tall beyond the average - close upon 6ft., indeed - gaunt of figure, and spare of frame, he is a man who would claim a second look at least from any who passed him on highway or in city. There is an unfathomable something in the grave dark eyes that speaks to the beholder of much lying behind that inscrutable and Sphinx-like face, and there is kindliness in the expression of the face also - a kindliness that bids men trust in this man as one who, having appointed that most merciless and strict of all judges of good and evil, himself, to see that he does that which is right by all men, needs no other surveillance. This is the face of a man who certainly may be trusted. Quiet, self-confidence is there, knowledge and experience are clearly delineated. But the dominant characteristic is still sorrow-sorrow that is not untinged with shame. For the years pass slowly, and the memory of man is long when the transgressions of a fellow man are in question. But 30 years of hard, unselfish, lonely work, often in positions of great trust, have surely expiated the indiscretions of this grave man's wild and untaught youth! In the minds of all who know him this is so at all events. For the man is respected, looked up to, and trusted through out the length and breath of the country.

His is a picturesque personality, as he leans against the fence to hold speech with his visitor. Dressed completely in black oilskins, legs encased in thick gaiters, a great black sou'-wester pushed back over a tall forehead fringed with struggling hair of iron grey, his whip in hand, his dogs crouched silently at his feet, their keen eyes watching for the least sign of command - this is a very creature of the bush itself - a very sprite of that immense realm of silence and solitude, equipped completely against any emergency, calm, reliant, ready to go on, waiting with courteous patience to learn what business has called him from his charge.

This was the man who, hearing of his favourite sister’s awful death and the sad plight of her children, had quietly harnessed his horses and fared forth on his 800 miles journey of succour through the wilderness, without making any of the fuss that an ordinary man makes about a week-end trip, and to look at him is to receive, and ripen into rapid and full conviction the idea that had the journey been 8000 miles he would have made no more of it—would have just harnessed up his horses and gone forth on his quest with the same quiet self-reliance and the same dogged determination to get there, and he would have got there, too.

We mention this trip to Forbes, by way of introduction.

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