Saturday, January 26, 2008

Bully knocked out cold - what a crying shame

[Yesterday (Vale The Bully) we farewelled Australia's oldest, best-known and most influential magazine, The Bulletin. Mike Carlton greeted the news with much the same dismay as we did. I'm not sure that Henry Lawson's first poem in the Bully was as Carlton says, ie, 'Wreck of the "Derry Castle"'. My information is that it was 'Sons of the South', retitled 'Song of the Republic'. See Wilson's Almanac Lawsons Chronology page 1. Pictured: Jules F Archibald.]

Bully knocked out cold - what a crying shame

By Mike Carlton

"That melancholy, whirring noise you can hear in the background is the editor and philanthropist J.F. Archibald, spinning in his grave at Waverley Cemetery.

"The Bulletin, the turbulent little magazine he founded "on a three-legged wooden chair" in 1880, is no more. After 128 years, the foreign-owned bean counters at PBL Media closed it down on Thursday. A press release of seamless corporate banality blamed the 'somewhat symptomatic' rise of the internet for plummeting readership and revenue.

"It was a grey day for journalism in this country. We have lost a family jewel; a diamond tarnished over the years, to be sure, but of priceless sentimental value. In its roaring days, the 'Bully' published the likes of Steele Rudd, Banjo Paterson, Shaw Neilson, Mary Gilmore, Norman Lindsay and, above all, that sad and sozzled genius Henry Lawson, who first appeared as a 17-year-old poet with The Wreck Of The Derry Castle in 1887.

"'Lawson was then a lanky youth,' Archibald wrote later. 'I looked at the incandescent chocolate brown eyes … then I looked at his manuscript, chose what I thought the best of his alternative lines - he cordially agreed with my selection - gave him two sovereigns, the first money he had got for verse, looked at his eyes again and told him to go on and we would buy all he wrote.' And so he did.

"In glaring contrast to poor Henry, Archibald was a merry boulevardier, top-hatted and fiercely mutton-chopped, who, early in his brilliant ascent of the pinnacles, changed his given names from John Feltham to Jules Francois to dazzle the onlookers with a wholly imaginary French ancestry ...

"Raucously republican, [Archibald] greeted a century of colonial Australia - this very day in 1888 - with another thunderous broadside: 'When deep answers unto deep in the great ocean of lies and sycophancy, and New South Wales goes mad over the centenary of its first jail and its first gallows, we trust that at least a few genuine democrats will try to forget the anniversary of a loathsome tyranny, and spare a thought for the day which Australians ought to celebrate.' ..."
Sydney Morning Herald and I dips me lid to Baz 'Banjo' le Tuff

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