Lawson In Mallacoota

Thanks to Angus & Robertson for photo

LAWSON AT MALLACOOTA With thanks to Denton Prout and the Mitchell Library Henry Lawson was even able to find inspiration in the fall of a current worker’s newspaper “The Boomerang” and in its Christmas issue for 1891, three months before the paper collapsed., he published the poem “The Cambarooma Star” which is an actual history of the ill-fated “Boomerang”, There was something in the plight of a hopeless man making a last ditch stand that appealed to him. Among the many other people moved by his poem was a twenty-two-year-old poet of Irish descent, Edwin James Brady. When he read the “Cambarooma Star” he was editor of a paper called the “Australian Workman”, and being a bit short of copy, he reprinted the poem. Lawson, learning of his unauthorised use, went around to “thank Brady for stealing it”. Brady and Lawson immediately headed for the nearest hotel, and a friendship was made that lasted until Lawson’s death. In October,109, Lawson was brought before the courts for failure to meet maintenance payments to his estranged wife, a sad situation caused mainly by Henry’s alcoholism. Into Darlinghurst jail he went, until some of his friends, alarmed at this situation “sent around the hat” to obtain money for his release. Mrs Lawson agreed to give up the monies due if her husband would leave Sydney and stop annoying her. Thirty pounds was raised, and Lawson was offered three alternatives: A tour around the Pacific. A visit to an outback station. Or a trip to E.J. Brady at Mallacoota. He eventually agreed to go to Brady’s place. On Friday 25th February 1910 he left on the S.S.Sydney, bound for the port of Eden, with Tom Mutch(Minister for Education, NSW) as his companion. When the ship went through Sydney Heads Lawson was heard to mutter “We fear no Hell here after, We hope for no reward, We always sail on Friday, With thirteen men aboard” By the time they reached Eden, however, his mood had improved, and he resolved to do his best to “pull himself together”, refusing to drink anything but lemonade when the party stayed overnight in the Commercial Hotel. Brady was not quite sure what Henry’s reception of him would be as years before in reply to one of Lawson’s complaints in the “Bulletin” about the hardships of Australian Authors Brady had replied that “individuals and not their country was to blame for their own distress”. and that “literary pessimists were like sick people, looking at the world from a hospital window”. Lawson had taken this as a slight against his own deafness and ignore Brady for the next 6 months! It was not until the Mallacoota visit that the friendship was really resumed on its old basis.

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