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   Chapter 16 XVIToC

Thirty Years in Australia By Ada Cambridge Characters: 36558

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:03


THE GREAT STRIKE

This is another chapter that some readers may like to skip. If talk about a dog is too trivial for those who do not care for dogs, talk about strikes and such politico-industrial matters-especially by one unlearned in the subject-is calculated to bore intolerably the person who merely seeks in these humble pages a little amusement for an idle hour. But our great strike, which in point of time belongs to this portion of my narrative, was part and parcel of my Australian life, and no picture of that life can be made clear unless I sketch in a line or two to indicate surrounding social circumstances of the larger kind.

When our vice-regal lady, already spoken of, was about to leave us, it was inevitably desired to make her a parting gift. Subscriptions were invited, and I gladly accepted the privilege of contributing thereto. That is to say, I calculated what I could afford and prepared my cheque. Then I was stopped by a move on the part of the official promoters; they notified that the names of all subscribers would be published, obviously with the intention of stimulating them to generosity, which it did in many instances. It had the opposite effect on me. Since it was under the eyes of the receiver that this parade of the givers was to be made, and since there were certain to be sneers-though it was small-minded to care about them-at the self-advertiser with social ambitions, I had not the courage to enroll myself. And the money I had set aside I sent to the funds of the great Dock Strike in England, which was going on at that time.

I mention this fact so that the poor working man and his friends may not gather from any remarks I may make on the subject of Australian labour conditions the mistaken idea that I am out of sympathy with his cause. The contrary has ever been the case, and I hope always will be; as a worker myself, I feel beyond measure for those who are unfairly hampered in what is so stern a struggle at the best. It has been the religion of my youth-poorly practised, I confess-to stand by the down-trodden as against those who in their prosperity walk over them; but whereas I was once fanatical in the matter, I am cooler-headed now. Increasingly ignorant as I know myself to be, I understand many things better than I did in 1889. And such enlightenment as I have grown to in respect of the case of the working man has been given me by himself.

One thing that I have learned is to pay no regard to popular definitions. The working man at the London Docks is so entirely unlike in his circumstances to the whole body of working men here that it seems an absurdity to use the same name for both. The one is possibly the poorest of his class; the other, I should think, is beyond question the richest. And half our working men, so-called, are not only misnamed but grotesquely named; they are no more working men than Paul Kruger's republic was a republic.

A few facts may be adduced to show this. But indeed the one bare fact that this great, rich continent is in possession of less than four million people, who say they are not able to make a living in it, is proof enough.

The "starving unemployed" are never out of our streets. Yet, to quote newspaper comments on this chronic situation-words continually repeated, consistently unheeded, although no one can contradict them-"the country is languishing for the labour congested in the Metropolis. Private enterprise is dying, being slowly killed by Government competition. Dairymen are turning their farms into sheep-runs because they cannot get labour; fruit in the orchards is rotting on the trees or on the ground from the same cause. The selectors in Gippsland especially are crippled; they find it impossible to get their land cleared. But everywhere through the state there is the same complaint of scarcity of labour.... The Government has raised the rate of wages to seven shillings a day ... the labourer naturally prefers the Government stroke, and can be tempted away from that easy and pleasant way of passing his time only by an increased rate of wages. That increased rate very few industries can afford to pay; thus all enterprise is crushed." So that one sees where the main responsibility lies. It is not all the fault of the spoiled children when they turn out badly.

This one of several political Frankensteins now has its creator by the throat. The "Organised Unemployed of the City" do their best to make the life of the Government a burden to it. They will not leave the city even for the Government stroke (synonym for work scamped and shirked, the pretence of work) elsewhere-on account of their families, they say, whom they cannot expose to the rigours of Bush life. "What," cried a shocked deputationist to a courageous Minister of Railways who had ventured to suggest that course as better for the families than having their husbands doing nothing in town, "you don't mean to say that a man should take his wife into the Mallee with him? Well, any man who wishes a woman to live there in a tent with her husband has no respect for humanity." The Mallee was "a hell upon earth," and-on account of the ants that crawled upon the sleepers-"the sleeping accommodation beastly."

An independent inquiry amongst a crowd of "starving unemployed" outside the Government Labour Bureau had some curious results. One "young fellow" who had been railway cutting, "finding, after a fortnight's trial, that he could not earn more than thirty shillings a week, left the job and came back to join" these mendicants. The reporter of this instance added that "fifty others left at the same time and for the same reason." Another had thrown up a job of eight shillings a day on the familiar plea that his wife and family were in Melbourne. Asked by the inquirer whether he could not have taken them with him to Camperdown-one of the finest settled districts in the state-he answered "Yes," but "he could not carry along a quarter-acre allotment." Another "did not care where he worked, but he must have twelve shillings a day."

The same issue of the paper which enlightened us in this way as to what starving means to some folks, published the following:-

"The contractor for the supply of road metal to the Coburg Shire Council has informed the Shire Engineer that he cannot obtain sufficient stone-breakers for the necessary work under his contract. At the meeting of the Council last evening the recommendation of the engineer that the matter be brought under the notice of the local parliamentary representatives was adopted." The only comment to make upon this paragraph is that Coburg is not even country like Camperdown, but a part of Melbourne. Stone-breaking, it is to be inferred, is too much like hard work.

This also is public and uncontradicted testimony:-

"It has been represented that many of the men who are clamouring for employment are unfitted for heavy navvying labour but are eager for light work. Mr Andrew Rowan, proprietor of St Hubert's Vineyard, put this desire to the test yesterday. He wanted twenty men to assist in gathering grapes ... and he went to the Labour Bureau to obtain them. They were offered a fortnight's work at nine shillings per week, with good quarters and food, and free passes to the vineyard. Out of 150 men who were outside the Bureau, only eight promised to go, but actually only four proceeded to St Hubert's by the appointed train."

Exactly the same result of a Government effort to make acceptable work for a large body of the unemployed occurred a few days previous to this present date of writing.

But I must hasten to say that these State-made drones-these spurious workers, deliberately manufactured by Government out of material from which the genuine article might have been made-are not all the family of labour in this house of ours. They are not even all the unemployed, worse luck!

What, I wonder, are the numbers of those who starve-really starve-in secret because the law forbids them to work for less than seven shillings a day, which they cannot earn with service not worth the half of it-all the old and slow and weak, but yet self-respecting and self-reliant, whose honest bread the Minimum Wage Act has taken out of their mouths? One is sick of the continual begging of these victims to inexorable inspectors and Boards to be allowed to work for thirty shillings a week-for twenty-five-one poor tailoress, who had supported herself with her needle for fifteen years, stood up in court and begged with tears to be allowed to work for twelve shillings and sixpence, which she said would "keep" her-and seeing the invariable brutal verdict given against them. I cannot bear to talk about it.

And there are all those outside what may be called the official working class, to which even these compulsorily-idle unfortunates belong-salt amid the rottenness that wastes our young nation almost before it has begun to live. How many of the fine young fellows who went soldiering to South Africa have looked to that country for home and work when soldiering was done? I could name a round dozen amongst my own acquaintances. As a fact, they and their civilian comrades are pouring thither as fast as they can get passage money and a hundred pounds together; every ship that sails that way is packed with them. "There is no opening for them here," say the fathers and mothers who, when they were young, fared so differently; and they scrape and screw to give their boys a chance. Well will they prove the quality of their manhood if they get it, as the "contingenters" amongst them have already done. But imagine going from a country like Australia to a country like South Africa (as it is now) for a chance!

Take again the youths of our cricket-fields-who, however, are one and the same. Hard, quick-witted, thorough, "playing the game" in every sense of the term, there is no evidence about them of deterioration from British standards; rather the contrary, indeed, for the generous climate and comparative brightness of life have added buoyancy to the hereditary temperament, the good that happy circumstances always bring to the originally wholesome nature. And those young men are the diluted second generation of the race I knew in the old days-the pioneers, who feared blacks and bushrangers far less than the "starving unemployed" fear ants.

See also the gallant Bushmen who go out into the wilds to "take up" land, and who stay there, fighting with bare hands not only against the forces of virgin Nature, but under fiscal burdens heavier than are borne by any other class; who scorn to ask alms of the State which they serve so well, and who bring up hardy children to the same fine traditions of manly self-respect. Think of these men having to "turn their farms into sheep-runs because they cannot get labour"-working themselves so hard, early and late, as they do (for at least that is allowed in their case)-while unworthy loafers are cockered up with "Government works," often devised on purpose for them, and fancy wages that they do not pretend to earn!

Above all, there are the women. In the old times the Bush wives, from the highest to the lowest, made their homes, so to speak, with their own hands. The squatter's wife, who later came to her town house and her carriage, did "all her own work" cheerfully "when she had to do it," and is rarely ashamed to acknowledge the fact-refers to it, indeed, with a wistful tenderness of voice and heart that plainly tells how she compares the hard times with the easy ones. And after that cataclysm already described-the Bursting of the Boom-when the revels of riches were so rudely interrupted, as if somebody had turned the gas off suddenly, what did we see? The girls who had never had to work, who had seemed to live entirely for pleasure, who appeared to us eaten up with the frivolity of their luxurious lives, as soon as their great houses fell, instead of sitting down to mourn and weep, overwhelmed with the shame of such a tremendous social "come-down," turned to, like Britons indeed, to help their ruined fathers and to support themselves. In no faddy, fine-lady fashion either. They took the work that they could do, with no false pride about its being trade or otherwise, and at this day you may see them still at it, calm and business-like, never wanting favour on the score of having "seen better days," never so much as reminding one that they have seen them. They run many tea-rooms, or wait in them, or make cakes for them; they keep various little shops, are milliners and dressmakers, typewriters, dentists, all sorts of things.

It was significant that our great Labour War developed with the Boom, and that the defeat of the insurgents coincided with the downfall of the rotten edifice that had towered so high. They were correlating forces, the Boomsters and the Strikers, and worked together to pull our house about our ears, as effectually as if it had been their conscious purpose to do so. When the fight began the aggressors had no wrongs to right, no worthy cause to fight for; on the contrary, they were in a position to make them the envy of their class throughout the world. They had but eight hours' toil for a day's wage of eight shillings to ten shillings and more; universal suffrage; payment of members in a Parliament where the labour vote was paramount; and behind them that immense trades-union organisation which embraced the whole continent, and as a governing power had but a handful of troops and a few hundreds of police against it. What was left for the working man to claim? I have searched the records for a justifiable cause of the effects that made our strike unique in the industrial history of those times, and I cannot find any. The only ostensible grievance on the pastoral side was that a few squatters proposed to reduce wages when wool was "up" and cheated their men by selling them poor food at high prices; on the maritime side that ships' officers found themselves, not ill-paid, except as all sailors are ill-paid, but paid less than the unionist (and therefore more privileged) seamen under them. If there was any other ground for hostilities it nowhere appears, and as a fact hostilities were in progress long before the two grievances mentioned took shape.

We laughed at a funny little incident that occurred at the beginning of the year, not realising all it signified. A baker in a poor suburb had a faithful servant who did not belong to the Operative Bakers' Society. Discovering this, the O.B.S. demanded his dismissal. The baker refused to dismiss him. The O.B.S. then detailed two delegates in a buggy to follow the baker's cart on its rounds, and to prevent the delivery of his bread at every door. Upon which the baker armed himself with a gun, and in another buggy followed the delegates, threatening to shoot them at each attempt to interfere with his business. The little procession was the delight of the streets for some hours, I believe, when the delegates retired from the contest to take out a summons. The baker was haled before justices and fined-but only ten shillings, in consideration of his gun having been empty, and of the "considerable provocation" that he had received. What became of the baker's man I do not know, but I can guess.

Another case, with nothing laughable about it, was that of a poor, small farmer, who did all his own work. To him came the secretary of the Slaughtermen's Union, demanding to be informed who killed his pigs for market. When the farmer admitted doing it himself, he was told that unless he joined the Union, and paid up all back fees, his pork would not be allowed to be sold in the Melbourne markets. He wanted to know whether the S.U. had leased the markets, or how else they proposed to bar his pork. Simply, he was informed, by "calling out the slaughtermen from the sheds of any salesman who dared to sell for him." Thus this poor man had to join the Union, at a cost beyond his means, to make himself liable for strikes and other things that he disapproved of, or starve. And thus did Unionism, designed to frustrate tyranny, play the licentious tyrant in its turn-not in thoughtless passion but methodically and on principle, wresting the liberty of the individual from him by brute force.

Instances of this kind multiplied daily, and slowly roused us-long-suffering people as we are-to a perception of our case as Britons who never would be slaves. This was slave-driving pure and simple; a bit of the Middle Ages back again, when men were denied their elementary rights and had no redress. The reign of ignorant tyranny passed, as it was bound to pass, but it has left its mark on the national character. The habit of the high hand comes out in all sorts of ways-in our treatment of our Chinese fellow-citizens, in the despotic attitude of our Federal Government, which regards foreign nations as pirates and our coloured brothers as vermin unfit to live. And how the habit of being bullied has demoralised us is shown by our acquiescence in a state of political bondage that hardly leaves us free to blow our own noses in our own way.

There was no limit to the extravagance of Unionist demands, most of them ultimatums couched in Kruger-like terms. As, for instance, this letter addressed to a ship captain who had dispensed with the services of a misbehaving member of the crew who happened also to be a delegate of the Seamen's Union:-"Dear Sir,-I am instructed by the members of the above Society to state that we intend to have our delegate, -- --, reinstated on board the --. If he is not reinstated by the return of the ship to Sydney, the crew will be given their twenty-four hours' notice." The agents of the Company replied on behalf of the captain that the man had been discharged "because a change was considered advisable in the Company's interests," but that there was "no objection to his joining one of the other vessels of the Company." This mild and generous answer was of no avail. The Union called out the crew, and forbade its members ever to ship under the offending captain in any vessel whatever. It was the tone of voice in which the "other side" was habitually addressed. The Mill Employés, who would

have all their managers-gentlemen with salaries of £300 and £400 a year, not one of whom could have been replaced from their ranks-forced to join their Union with them; the Stewards and Cooks, who would have their members on ships exempted from the punitive regulations attached to losses of plate, and so on; the Tinsmiths and Ironworkers, who would abolish piecework-always hateful to the political working man; the Implement-makers, who would make ten shillings a day the minimum wage and required other privileges-all formulated their demands in the terms of the Seamen's letter. Indeed, the most painful part of the business was the callous rudeness of the methods pursued, which openly made the redressing of wrongs of less importance than the humiliating of the adversary on whom, as it were, the tables had been turned. Of course, it is here that one must admit the two sides to the question, and make allowances for the one that is not one's own. Still-even if we would have done the same under the same circumstances-the element of personal insult was deplorable. That indignity put upon the captain who was not allowed to know his own business, or do it, was repeated with others as often as occasion offered. There was a member of the Engine-drivers' and Firemen's Association who, being appointed a delegate to some meeting or other, left his work and went off to attend it without troubling himself to ask leave of absence. He returned after five days, and was dismissed for his act of insubordination. Upon which his Union notified his employers that if they did not reinstate him the workers at his trade would be called out. No just-minded person, whatever his sympathies, can condone such unfair and un-British tactics of war.

These, however, were but the sporadic skirmishes of the campaign. The great engagements were two-they went on together and intermingled-the Shearers' Strike and the Maritime Strike. I think the records establish clearly that the Shearers began the trouble. Coincidently the Marine Officers (not all the captains-at anyrate, not those of my acquaintance-who do not desert their posts under any circumstances) put themselves, which practically meant the ships as well, under the "protection" of the Trades Hall-put themselves really under the domination of the men they were supposed to govern, that they might force the hands of their masters as the latter had done; but it was the Shearers' announcement, already made, of their monstrous intentions that showed the ship-owners what they were in for, and the necessity for putting the foot down at this point. Having, as they expressed it, "made concession after concession, for the sake of peace, until they found that the ever-increasing requirements of the labour bodies threatened to take the control of their business entirely from them," they now refused to treat with their officers as unionists, taking all the consequences of so defiant an act. It was a fight for existence that had come upon them and the Pastoralists, who between them represented the staple interests of the country; and they combined their forces and stood up to continue the argument with the weapons of the other side. They too formed Unions.

But it was the Shearers who began it. Long before the shearing season, the squatters had been commanded to employ none but Union men, and had continued to employ non-unionists, although sparely, just to show their independence. The squatters, with the farmers, and indeed all the country dwellers who have settled homes, are the steady-going Conservatives of the community, some good reasons for which will be obvious to the thoughtful reader. Country interests seem always-which is a great pity-opposed to town interests. There is a "country party" in every parliament, and in the navigation of public affairs it generally makes bad weather of it; but this is not due to the quality of its representatives so much as to their deficient quantity, to the fact that it is too busy at home to take such part in politics as would qualify it to meet the other side on equal terms. But it is a tough-fibred, stout-hearted breed of men, that has not accustomed itself to being bullied. And it said-and stuck to it with truly splendid gallantry-that no men or body of men could be allowed to abrogate "the right of all to work peaceably under the laws of their country." Very well, said the Shearers' Union in the inevitable manifesto, then "not an ounce of non-union wool shall go unfought from Australasia." "All right," rejoined the Pastoralists, in effect, "do your worst."

Consider for a moment the Pastoralists' case. They too were men working for their living-we have no leisured class here-and few of them but had suffered from droughts and bad times, and depended on their clip to ease financial embarrassments. "A ring of capitalists conspiring to crush labour" was how they were constantly described by the strike leaders, but nothing was further from their intentions than to ruin themselves if they could help it-the patent result of hostile action at this time. They only accepted that risk because there was a higher thing than money at stake. The Shearers, on the other hand, were exceedingly well off. Good men could get £30 for a few weeks' work, and then have the bulk of the year for other avocations, or go on earning at that rate for months together. And the shearing was not only the sheep farmer's harvest, it was the country's as well, and all the interests of the country were bound up with it.

But the strike leaders said that every ounce of wool that came from a station on which so much as one non-unionist (a Chinese gardener was sufficient in one case) was employed, was to be boycotted by the whole strength of the federated labour organisations, and they light-heartedly set out to do it. Very soon after the commencement of active hostilities they claimed "the aid of the labour unions of England, whom in their hour of need Australia aided so well"-as to which it may be said that of the £20,887 sent to the London dockers up to 20th November 1889, only £5817 was contributed by the trade societies; the rest was the gift of soft-hearted non-unionists like myself, who did not bestow it to ask it back again.

The great shipping companies-I think the British India was the first-were ordered to refuse non-union wool as cargo. When they protested that they were mere public carriers for the world, and that such a local matter was no concern of theirs, the Wharf Labourers were called upon to refuse to load it or "come out" in a body. Bakers, butchers, and other trades were not to supply those vessels which touched the forbidden thing. When clerks and other non-professional persons took up the abandoned work, the usual picketing and persecution ensued-the conventional routine of strikes in all countries. The odds just here seemed hopelessly against the defenders, the sheer force of numbers overwhelming. The Seamen's Unions, with which the Marine Officers had cast in their lot, had cast in theirs with the Shearers and others, or, rather, their leaders had done so for them; and the crews came out, officers and all, at a few hours' notice, as they were "called" one after another, although the passengers might be on board and perishable cargoes doomed. "Wharves deserted" was a flaring headline in our morning papers, and the number of vessels named as compulsorily "laid up" rose daily. The campaign, from the unionist point of view, progressed without a hitch.

Until the gas-works went on strike. "All the men at the works come out," was announced to us one morning, and night brought an uncertain dimness to the streets and a realisation of what was happening-the plunging of our great city into darkness, while flooded with this dangerous element of mob rule.

This did seem a little too much, and the worm turned. There were meetings of the Cabinet, and a wholesale creation of special constables. It was announced by Authority that "order must be maintained at all hazards," and that it was resolved "to bring 100 members of the Mounted Rifles, with their horses, and 100 members of the Rangers from the country districts into Melbourne without delay." It was ordered that these troops "be kept on duty at the Military Barracks, St. Kilda Road, and not brought into the city unless occasion should demand it." But the Governor issued a proclamation which warned all concerned that a state of legal "riot" had arrived, which called for legal measures.

The strikers were nonplussed. First, they did not believe in it; then they felt furiously insulted; then they "went for" revenge headlong. That is to say, the strike leaders did so, not only because such was the natural course for them to take, as enemies of society who had had soldiers set at them, but because it would have been as much as their places were worth to admit that they had over-reached themselves. Powerful they must remain at any cost, or, as far as they were personally concerned, the game was up; and for the remainder of the fight, as we saw it, they used all that splendid loyalty and confidence which was, as it were, trust-money in their hands, to this one end. If the gas-works could not be taken by assault, they could by mining. The order went forth that "no more coal ships owned by the Victorian steamship owners be loaded." The ship-owners being to a large extent the coal-owners, the wide-reaching effects of this move can be imagined; every poor family felt them. With a stroke of the pen the Labour Congress in Sydney called out not only "all the miners from the Western mines," but "all shearers, rouseabouts, carriers and others in any way connected with the wool industry"-plain wool now, and never mind who took it from the sheeps' backs. This was the last card of those desperate gamblers-to destroy the wool industry bodily, £20,000,000 of the "living" of 4,000,000 people-and it finished the game they had already thrown away, so far, at anyrate, as Victoria was concerned. During the following year, 1891, there was a tough struggle in Queensland, where shearing began with the first month. The Amalgamated Shearers had hoped that Pastoralists (now amalgamated too) would "yet see their foolhardiness, and come to some satisfactory arrangement in favour of the portion of their new rules, which are obnoxious to the Shearers;" but the Pastoralists did not. Freedom! Freedom! was still their cry, and they had more strength to back it now. And when the disappointed ones took to riding about the immense colony in armed bands, firing grass and wool-sheds, turning (at anyrate, threatening to turn) out rabbits, and laying obstructions on the railway lines that carried non-union workmen, then troops and guns were sent to all the endangered places as far as they would go round, so that at last the defence was passed on to the Queensland Government itself, which had to end the duel. But it was in November 1890 that the Trades of our colony, in meeting assembled, were informed by their leaders that the strike was at an end, and they must make the best terms they could with the employers. And our soldiers had not to be sent anywhere. The moral effect of their known proximity and purpose, the disgrace of it, was enough to calm the disorder of the town. Strike leaders took care to give them a wide berth, and the men, who were not cowards, showed by their attitude of insulted dignity how this strong measure on the part of Government brought home to them the lengths to which they had gone. The captain of a mail steamer once sketched for me the comical picture of his big ship lying off a certain hostile shore, under the protection of a British gun-boat that he could have "put into his pocket"; so this handful of uniforms-militia at that-sufficed to check that mighty organisation of tens of thousands which so far had stuck at nothing. They did it by merely "keeping on duty at the Military Barracks," without showing a nose outside the barrack gates.

I do not know whether they were disappointed that no more was required of them, but I think they were, for it was their first chance of service in the field-as much as they would ever get, it appeared at the time. Certainly they responded with alacrity to the call for them, and "stood by" for action with the air of men enjoying themselves. Tents were pitched in the Barrack Square, and the little camp seethed with the excitement of its sudden importance. This feature of the great strike was one of much personal interest to me, because the barracks were a haunt of mine at this period. A beloved friend, now in her grave, was there, the wife of the colonel who created the Mounted Rifles, who commanded the Second Victorian Contingent in South Africa, a fine soldier of a race of soldiers, and now a C.B. in Imperial recognition of the fact. Since the breaking-up of my town home at Toorak, on the death of its head, whose daughter she was, her official quarters had been its substitute; and many indeed are the happy memories that flood back upon my mind when now I ride past the massive granite pile without stopping as I used to do. As a family residence it was not considered a success. The Barrack Square, seemingly walled off, was not walled off enough for officers' little boys; the tall rectangular rooms were gloomy, the stone stairs cold and prison-like, the back-yard a mere well in the masonry-although the colonel kept his shooting dogs there, and tried to keep a cow; the basement a haunt of rats that ate our boots and shoes while they were down to be cleaned, and one of those public stenches that Melbourne still keeps amongst her institutions (though this particular one has been eliminated) so close under the windows that it was necessary to shut them when the wind blew a certain way. But it was an interesting place to visit at, apart from the friendship that has hallowed it to me. The bugle of a morning sent thrills through my waking senses, with its associations of the past. The stately bustle of military business, trampings and clankings, and the omnipotent word of command-the pleasant officers dropping in so often, the reviews, the tattoos-all had their charm for me, because then I knew only the picturesque features of soldiering, the romantic side, which I think now it will never wear again for anybody.

And there never was a more interesting time at the barracks than that which saw these country troops massed on the parade ground, waiting to be summoned to so new and strange a duty. Their colonel was a man notorious for plain speaking as for plain acting; the straight word and the swift blow (if necessary) were his, and a perfect scorn of consequences. In military affairs especially there was no mincing matters. Business was strictly business. So he told the men, who might at any time be called out to suppress civilian rioters, what they were to do in the terms that they were accustomed to. An orderly patience was to be maintained up to that point where the line had to be drawn; if that were passed, then, said he, simply, "Fire low and lay 'em out."

To "fire low" was, I believe, enjoined under the given circumstances by the regulations, and to "lay 'em out' is a colonial expression covering a wide field. His men understood him perfectly, and nobody within barrack walls had an idea of the potential sensationalism of his words. But somebody repeated them outside; the exasperated unionists got hold of them and found a plausible grievance in them, and they seem to have been immortalised by the tremendous rumpus that ensued. Here were poor innocent working men, and here was this bloodthirsty swash-buckler inciting their own brothers to slay them. Was the country going to allow such an outrage to pass? Not if they knew it. The colonel had to stand a sort of military trial for his offence before the avengers could be appeased. It came to nothing, but gave him as a scapegoat to the revilings of those with whom soldiers had become so unpopular. They hissed him in public places. They soothed the soreness of their other reverses by trying to make his life a burden to him. But it only hurt him through his wife, whose bright, good life it saddened deeply for a time. "Fire-low" or "Lay 'em out" took the place of his Christian name in the public mouth, and they keep it still, only that now the bitter nicknames have come to sound almost like terms of endearment.

For when the South African struggle came to widen our outlook in so many directions, there was such a unanimous call for him all over the country that it cannot be supposed that his one-time enemies did not join in it. He was not chosen to lead the First Contingent, and the crowds through which it passed from us loudly voiced their sympathy with him in the untoward circumstance. I saw him go with the Second, and the cheers that followed him from the barracks to the ship were heart-stirring to listen to. It was thought that he was riding his own charger, which was safe on board, and his borrowed mount was almost denuded of its mane and tail by the enthusiasts who wanted a hair as a memento of him; he was nearly dragged from the saddle by the press of parting hand-shakers. It was the same when he came back, only more so. Every returned soldier was mobbed by his friends, but the frenzied "There he is!" and "That's him!" when the big colonel turned a corner into view, and the resultant roar of welcome, proclaimed the popular as well as the peculiar hero.

The military intervention in the struggle of the strike appeared decisive, but to deeper causes must be ascribed the modifications in the situation that remained after the dust of combat was cleared away. Labour Unions in this country were taught to "play the game" as soldiers would never have taught them. It was the civilians who manfully refused to knuckle under, who risked all for honour and the public good, to whom, more than to any other cause whatever, we owe a dozen years of industrial peace. And if that same wholesome spirit of true patriotism would arise again to put down a form of tyranny that has become quite as oppressive and ruinous as the Unionism of old....

But we shall see that too, some day.

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