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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 83

Black Thursday

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Black Thursday.

A Boyish passion caused my emigration to Australia. There is nothing so burnt into my memory as a foolish scene in an arbour hung with clustering Cloth of Gold roses, in Gloucester. Like Eneas and Dido in the cave, Louisa Philipeau and I were weatherbound by a shower. I can still scent the roses as they were freshened. I plumped out a proposal, which had long been on my mind, and was contemptuously rejected.

Being then twenty-one years of age, I concluded that there was nothing worth living for. I would expatriate myself to the desolate places of the earth, to the wilderness where no man was. Therefore, I shipped, in the Harpley, for Melbourne, greatly to the distaste of my beloved father, who was a widower, and most affectionate to me. He had plenty of money, and my prospects in England were first-class. I never told him about my luckless proposal. My idea was the romantic one of conquering a rapid independence, and coming home again to claim the beautiful Louisa, who monopolised my thoughts. Distance lent enchantment to the view. My passion only grew the more desperate during a residence of nine months in Melbourne, so that I took my passage in the ship Golden Sea to London again.

This vessel was to sail on a Thursday, and when the day came round it proved to be that awful one which lives in history as Black Thursday. I was, however, packing up my things to go on board when a letter from England was placed in my hand. The Black Ball liner Marco Polo had come in very early that morning. This was the first letter I received from home. I knew my father's handwriting, but a dozen lines of the letter was all I ever read:—