Rowland Lyttleton Archer Davies.

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.^ 7


If loving hands have often scattered o'er

Thy grave, dear Rowland, brightest Howers of Spring,
Summer and Autumn's blossoms scattering,

And verdant fronds from Winter's scantier store ;

A worthier tribute of thine own fresh lore,
Hidden from sight till now, to light we bring.
To show the world how deftly thou could'st sing

Of hills, woods, streams, glades, loves, unsung before.

If from thy home of homes, thy higher life,

Thou still canst bless, thy blessing we would crave
On this our pious work of charity :
These flowers of thought, with thy soul's fragrance rife.
Wife, Mother, Friend now place upon thy grave,
And dedicate to thy dear memory.








. .. 63


.. 65


.. 74

THE lover's ride

.. 78


.. 81


.. 83


.. 90


. .. 96


.. 103


.. 107


.. Ill


.. 113


.. 124


.. 127


.. 132


.. 134


.. 136


. .. 138



THE POET ARTISAN .. .. .. ,. .. ,. I40


DIVINATIONS ,. .. ., .. .. ., ., 155

LOVE 157

SONG .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ,. 159

DESPISE NOT .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 160

MAN ,. ., .. .. .. .. .. .. 161

SEEMING ., .. .. ., .. .. .. 164

THE ENGINE-DRIVER .. .. .. .. .. 165

SORROW ,. ,. .. ,. .. .. .. 168

THE WEDDING .. .. .. .. .. .. 169

CLIMBING THE MOUNTAIN .. .. .. .. ..173

THE GAME OF CHESS ,. .. .. .. ,. 178

THE OLD YEAR ,. .. .. .. .. .. 181

THE " PARKI " .. .. .. .. .. .. 183



SUMMER WINDS .. .. .. .. .. .. 188

A DREAM .. ., .. .. .. .. .. 190

THE RIVALS .. .. .. .. .. .. •• 193

YEARNINGS .. .. .. I96

nature's INFLUENCES .. .. .. .. .. I98

DIRGE .. ,. .. .. .. .. .. .. 200



SONG .. 205

LOST IN THE STORM .. .. .. .. .. 207







II. fools' mate












.. 223


.. 227


.. 230

lU -' •. •■ .. .. -•


.. 231


.. 234


., 236








IF ever it should come to pass that the greatness
of a nation is to be estimated not by its mihtary
and naval strength, its commerce, riches, and other
exponents of material prosperity, but by its culture,
and the general diffusion thereof among the masses of
the people, then the men who have been most dis-
tinguished in literature, art, and science, will be
regarded as that nation's true heroes. Our own
country and many of the nations of Europe have long
since sown the seed and reaped the harvests of
intellectual life ; but the fruit, unfortunately, is
enjoyed by the comparatively few, while the masses
still remain for the most part untouched by the
refining and elevating influences of culture.

The United States of America have become alive to
the necessity of securing a native literature ; but our
colonies are still in a backward condition as regards
culture. The energies of a young colony are neces-
sarily devoted to the securing of material comforts, in
the direction of agriculture, trade, and commerce.
That which at first was a necessity quickly grows into

B 2

a habit, and habit soon becomes second nature. The
useful arts supersede the fine arts, or, if the want of
these should arise among the few, specimens of them
are imported from older countries. It is the same
with literature, and to a great extent with science.
Their products can be imported, and are thus felt to
be better than the results of native effort.

But should a distant colony really produce a man
of literary genius, is it too much to suppose that the
colonists would be proud of him, would cherish him,
and never tire of admiring his work ? And the more
so, if that writer should identify himself with his
native colonial life, manners, and scenery, and by his
genius direct the attention of the world to a land
whose beauties have been portrayed by his pen.

In many respects Rowland Lyttelton Archer Davies
possessed these quahfications, as I shall endeavour to
show in this memoir, and in the various specimens of
poetry and prose which make up this volume. It
must be remarked at starting that none of the papers
here collected were ever intended for publication.
Like many men of genius, Rowland threw off his
verses in careless haste, as if to gratify some urgent
mental instinct, and then became indifferent as to their
future destiny. When he was sent to England for the
completion of his education, he resided in my house
as a pupil for the term of one year. My wife and I
soon recognised his genius, and it was by her care

that many of the poems were deciphered, copied, and
thus preserved. During Rowland's residence in my
house, my wife brought out a tale entitled " The
Sisters " (published by the Christian Knowledge
Society), in which she inserted a poem by Davies in
two parts, in the first of which he described a Tasma-
nian forest in all its beauty, and in the second part
the scene after the forest had been destroyed by fire.
Some verses were also published at my request by
the late Mortimer Collins, in a periodical that he was
editing. With these exceptions, I am not aware that
any of the matter contained in the following pages has
appeared in print. After Rowland's death, his mother
requested me to let her see anything of her son's that
I happened to have by me, and accordingly I forwarded
to her the collection that had been made by my late
wife. Mrs. Davies consulted me how she could best
leave some memorial behind her of the genius of her
son, and I advised her to print a selection from his
letters, prose sketches and poems, in a small volume
to which I undertook to contribute a memoir of the
author. Such is the history of the work which is now
in the reader's hands.

Rowland L. A. Davies was born at the parsonage
of Longford, in Tasmania, on the 2Sth of March,
1837. His father, the Venerable Rowland Robert
Davies, was of a good old family of Mallow, county
Cork. He was appointed Colonial Chaplain by the

Government of George IV., and after working with
good effect in the colony during many years, he was
invited in January 1853 by Bishop Nixon to fill the
ofhce of Archdeacon in the cathedral of Hobart. He
died in 1880, in his 76th year, beloved and esteemed
for his zealous and laborious work.

Rowland's early education was conducted at home,
under the care of that best of all instructors, a good
mother. While yet a child, he was passionately fond
of music, and there was early developed in him a keen
sense of the music of nature. When about four and
a half years of age, as he was trotting on before his
mother, the murmuring rippling sound of a brook
caught his ear, and he stopped, saying: "Hush,
mother ! What a beautiful voice ! "

He also acquired early a taste for reading, which
his father's well-stored library enabled him to gratify.
He was especially interested in books of travel, which
no doubt contributed to feed the restless wandering
spirit which afterwards took possession of him. But
the time had now arrived when this desultory method
of gaining knowledge had to be exchanged for some-
thing like collegiate discipline. On the opening of
the grammar school at Longford, by the Rev. D.
Boyd, Rowland was entered as a day pupil. He
soon became as distinguished as a scholar as he was
beloved as a companion. However fond of intellectual
Avork, he was ready for all kinds of exercise, games,

. 7

and athletic sports with his schoolfellows. He also
became a good and fearless rider. He had a spirited
pony, on whose neck he would throw the rein, and
gallop across the plain to school. He was also fond
of wandering about the country, and on his half-
holidays he would go about exploring, collecting
fossils and plants.

A lady, in a letter to his mother, recalls him to
mind thus :

" In the early days of our colonial life, when your
beloved Rowley was a young, bright, handsome lad, full of
enthusiasm for all that was noble and beautiful, never
shall I forget his face in a drive from Launceston to
Longford, whither you had kindly invited us, when he
pointed out the Ben Lomond range and described to us the
native flowers of Tasmania ; and I am sure that the fasci-
nation of his pleasant sunny smile, and genial kindly
manner, must have been with him to the last, for such
things have their root in a certain nobility of the soul, and
can never pass away."

When the family left Longford, Rowland was
entered at Christ's College, Bishopsbourne, where
he so far distinguished himself as to gain the medal
for Greek, and the prize for mathematics. He also
continued to cultivate music ; he already played with
the taste and feeling peculiarly his own, on the piano,
and he now took lessons on the violin from one of
the college tutors. His migratory life prevented hmi
from keeping up his practice, and he afterwards


became reluctant to play before an audience ; but
whenever he could be induced to take his place at
the piano or the organ, his performances fell on the
ear with an effect quite different to that of an ordinary-
touch. When alone of an evening, he said he never
felt dull in the company of his books and his music,
and after everyone had retired to rest except himself
and his mother, he would often say to her, " Do you
mind my going to the piano ? I should like to strike
a few soothing chords before I sleep." And he would
go on extemporizing in the most charming manner
in the dark room.

The love of books and of music, and frequent
rambles among beautiful scenery, so far developed
Rowland's character, that people who met him in
the social circle of his father's house at St. David's or
elsewhere, found him so well read, that they took him
for a man of twenty-three or twenty-four, instead of a
youth of seventeen.

While at college, Rowland wrote for the student's
paper, The Collegian, the following y>z^ (V esprit :

" To the Editor of the Collegia^i.

Dear Sir, — In your paper of last Thursday week

A letter appeared, of which I must speak.

Its writer did in it mistakenly state,

That the mind of a man may be known by his gait.

The examples he gives may be true and correct.

But if for a while. Sir, the writer reflect,

He'll find many more which he never has named,

And which, if he had, he could ne'er have explained.

The way which I walk in, I now will relate ;

My character then, if he can, let him state.

My head I'm accustomed to raise very high,

And often my eyes are upturned to the sky ;

I\Iy countenance always demure and sedate.

The length of my back like a poker is straight ;

My arms swing about in a wonderful way.

They add to my beauty, my speed they delay.

I bear in my right hand a sasafras stick,

Which helps me on much when I want to go quick.

When I first 'gin to move, my legs give a jerk,

As if they would like all exertion to shirk ;

But once I can get my whole body in play.

My arms and my legs and my feet under weigh,

It would be a hard matter for me. Sir, to tell

How quickly I walk, or how far, and how well.

But here I must say that my legs are knock-kneed.

And that, of course, hinders a little my speed.

But still I ne'er walk e'en a little too slow,

And never walk fast excepting for show.

Thus always I go at a good steady pace.

Not limping with gout nor as running a race.

If my mind from all this he is able to tell.

His opinions henceforth I ne'er will repel.

I beg to subscribe myself, very dear Sir,

Your very obedient,

Oliver Purr."

While at college, he also wrote to his mother the
following remarks :

" I am reading a book by Mrs. Meredith, entitled ' My
Home in Tasmania.' Considering that she is an English-
woman, she certainly speaks pretty favourably of this


country. She holds the same opinion as I do about the
birds of Tasmania, and thinks that, far from being voice-
less, they for the most part sing very beautifully. She likes
however, the choir of magpies the best, which does not
always suit the taste of strangers. For my part, I think
that the wildest and most beautiful music I ever heard
was the song of a chorus of magpies. Whenever I hear
their voices they seem to send such a thrill through me.
I have sometimes heard their singing in the stillness of
the night, when I have been perhaps melancholy or sad,
and their wild strains have seemed to harmonise with my
thoughts ; whilst at other times, when I have felt in
a particularly joyous mood, their song has seemed to me
merry and glad as my thoughts, as though they sym-
pathised with my feelings and rejoiced because I rejoiced.
But perhaps, after all, the singing of the magpie may not
be really beautiful, but the reason for my being so fond
thereof may be somewhat similar to the reason the Scotch
are so fond of the harshest of all instruments — I mean, of
course, the bagpipes."

The Archdeacon had a pretty retired house at
Ferndene, on which he had bestowed much care in
improving it, and surrounding it with trees and shrubs.
It is situate at the foot of a hill, near to the mountain
valleys and steep ridges, the former overlooking the
city, the Derwent, with occasional peeps at the
Channel, Storm Bay, and the ocean.

The time had now arrived when Rowland had to
make choice of a profession. His mother naturally
wished him to become a clergyman, but he said : " I
could not be a clergyman, mother dear ; I do not feel
particularly called to the work, and everyone ought


to be so, before taking those solemn vows ; besides,
there are so many requisites to make a really good
and useful clergyman : talent, a good voice, earnest-
ness, self-denial, devotion, and a winning manner.
Oh ! I could not be a clergyman ! " In fact, Rowland
had to encounter those doubts and difficulties which
more or less assail every earnest mind at some time
or other, and often end in making their victim a
nobler character than him who has never doubted
at all ; or, as Thirlwall said of Arnold when at college,
"Arnold's doubts are better than many men's beliefs."
Rowland himself, in one of his letters, remarks, —
" Most earnest men are tormented by doubts. Nay,
as shadows show the sun, so doubts oftentimes give
evidence of faith."

Rowland chose the profession of civil engineer,
which I cannot help thinking was a mistake. His
fitting vocation should have been literature. But so
it was, that in 1854, on leaving college, he was placed
in the office of Colonel Hamilton, R.E. Mr. Dawson,
an architect, was the second in command, and had
the chief superintendence of the new Government
House then building. This was a great source of
interest to Rowland, and gave him a taste for archi-
tecture. He remarked that it had given quite a new
tone of thought and sight to him, for he looked at
every building with a critical eye to its beauties or
defects. After spending a year in this office, the


Archdeacon determined to send him to England in
order to pursue his studies.

Before leaving his native land, Rowland's first pro-
fessional work was to measure a space in the cathedral
for a new organ, which had been ordered from England
from the well-known maker, Bishop. When the instru-
ment arrived, and its huge pipes were laid on the floor
of the aisles, the organist was in great fear lest some
portion should be too large for the building ; but his
fears were groundless, for all the parts fitted exactly.

Before sailing, Rowland longed once more to visit
the scenes he had so often explored amongst the hills,
as had been his custom after office hours, returning
home just at dark or by moonlight, laden with flowers,
ferns, or fossils. On this occasion, intending to go
further than usual, he chose a leisure afternoon, and
his mother begged him to take with him a hatchet, for
the purpose of marking the trees, so as to secure a
safe retreat towards home ; since many persons had
been lost in the thicket, during the mist or fog that
sometimes comes on suddenly. A heavy thunder-
storm overtook him as he was returning ; and feeling
that there might be danger from the lightning, he
threw away the hatchet. He sailed for England
shortly after in the Wellington, when pacing the
deck one day, some weeks after, he stopped abruptly
at the sight of an object at his feet, and exclaimed,
" That's my hatchet ! " " Your hatchet ? " said some


one, " How can that be yours ? " " That's my hatchet ! "
he repeated. " I threw it away on Mount Wellington."
On hearing this, the first mate came up, and said,
" Very likely, Mr. Davies ; I went up the mount a few
days before we sailed, and I picked up that hatchet."

At the time when Rowland entered my house, I
had a number of other pupils, who had attained some
distinction as prizemen at King's College. Rowland's
modest bearing, good temper, and undoubted ability,
soon secured for him that respect which the others
were not at first disposed to yield to colonial training.
The young men were full of life and activity, and
were interested in most of the topics of the day ;
talked much of authors, new books, pictures, music,
&c., as well of the studies in which they were engaged,
and were not slow in criticising their professors
and fellow-pupils at college. When thus engaged,
Rowland's merry twinkling eye would often lead the
disputants to appeal to him, and his judgment, marked
as it was with a keen appreciation of character and
extensive knowledge of books, English and classic,
soon came to be received with respect. On one
occasion we had been discussing the merits of
English hexameters, as exemplified by Longfellow
and others, when one evening one of my pupils,
Avhom we' will name Little, had on this and other
occasions shown a disposition to be bumptious, and
to apply the word " stupid " to what he called the

"young gentlemen at college." One of those present,
taking it personally, gave the speaker a rap on the
head, and on my going into the study to resume work,
having heard of the circumstance, I admonished the
victim in a hexameter line :

" Never, Little, again, wilt thou call the young gentle-
man stupid."

to the great amusement of them all.

Rowland was very fond of goodnatured banter,
which admirably served the purpose of the moment,
but cannot be easily illustrated by example. I re-
member, however, on one occasion, a lady asked him
somewhat solemnly, " How did you employ your time
during your long voyage to England ? " " Oh," said
Rowland, "I lay on my back on the deck, looked up
into the sky, and smoked." " That is not the way,"
said the lady severely, " in which an intelligent young
man should spend his time I " " But I am not an
intelligent young man," responded Rowland. The
fact really was that he was the life of the ship, and
published a manuscript journal twice a week, giving
the real or supposed life of that little floating world.

Rowland was omnivorous in his reading. Some
one lent him the early volumes of ' Blackwood,' and he
gloated over the savage criticisms which were then in
fashion. Most of the literature in my library that he
was not already acquainted with, occupied much of


his lime. Indeed, his taste was so decidedly literary,
that I could not refrain from secretly lamenting the
choice he had made of a profession. His heart was
not in his work ; he pursued it in a desultory kind of
manner, and although he afterwards laboured at it
with more effect, it was rather for conscience' sake
than for love. During our many pleasant walks and
talks, literature was the subject of our discussions, and
poetry above all was his favourite theme. My wife, as
already noticed, encouraged this taste, and got him to
open up his stores of literary compositions, which he
held in careless confusion, and were all but unintelli-
gible — so bad was the A\Titing — and persuaded him to
write more. It is to be lamented, that what Pope
says of Dryden —

" E'en copious Drj'den wanted, or forgot.
That last and greatest art, the art to blot,"

applied in full force to Rowland. He could not be
brought to revise his work ; to polish it so as to give
clearness, method, and point to it. As it was pro-
duced, so it was left : the inspiration of the moment
was all-sufficient for him, and the labor limce was
intolerable. Hence the poems that are collected in
this little volume, full of beauties as they are, have
defects in the way of form, and the thought is some-
times obscure and badly worked out ; but I have not
deemed it right to work much at them in order to


make them more perfect, feeling that they represent
the author's mind better in their present form, than if
pohshed by another hand, unguided by the author's
inspiration. Still, I have done something ; for in many
cases the lines were too rough and unfinished to be
presentable. I have removed some discords in the
rhythm of the verse, and have supplied many blanks
which were left by the copyists of the later poems
(the MS. of which still remains in Tasmania), from
sheer inability to make out the writing, or from
portions being torn, or from the MS. being worn
almost to shreds in the author's pocket. Many of
the poems had no titles to them, and these I have
supplied. Hence, the labour of revision has been con-
siderable, and I have devoted a good deal of time to
it from love to the memory of the author, as well as
to that of my dear wife, who prized Rowland's friend-
ship and genius so highly.

But it is time now to let Rowland give his own
impressions of England, as expressed in extracts from
the letters that he sent home. It should be remarked
that, in his own country, the trees retain their foliage
all the year round, and during his first year's residence
in England, he was particularly struck with the fall of
the leaf, the autumnal tints, and the bare skeletons
of the trees in winter. Most of the following extracts
are from letters addressed to his mother, and are
sufficiently intelligible to be given without further


comment, except to remark on the absence of dates in
the extracts, for they are for the most part absent in
the original letters :

" You cannot think how fortunate and happy I am in
being in the house of Mr. and Mrs. Tomhnson. I like them
much, and I think they like me tolerably. Here I have slipt
into the society of professors of science, and of eminent
poets and literary men : an immense advantage to me. You
tell me always to give you the dark as well as the bright
side of the picture. I have, thank heaven, no dark side to
give you just now."

" The six or seven Tasmanians that are studying here
are, I think, getting on well. They will be for the most part
strong, earnest men, with perfect straightforwardness and
rectitude. And now I, amongst the number, try my best
to do my duty, with many shortcomings, though less fre-
quent perhaps than formerly, but still with many. I am
gaining, I think, the victory over self, with whom my
greatest battling has been ; and now I strive to have better
and higher aims than formerly, more without the circle of
self, remembering that all true heroism is unselfishness.
and that self-sacrifice is the very keystone of Christianity.
The very young man is by force an egotist ; he has so
much to do with the struggles within himself, half
smothered, perhaps, at the very commencement of his
pilgrimage in the slough of despair, that he has no time
to look around and see how many others about him are all
striving with the self-same hopes and doubt. A man must

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Online LibraryRowland Lyttleton Archer DaviesPoems and other literary remains → online text (page 1 of 13)