A biographical articel about Arthur Desmond (Ragnar Redbeard) By 'BAARMUTHA.'
In the early days of the Political Labor movement in this State, associated therewith as a moulder of its platform and policy and tactics was a remarkable spectacular character, one by name of Arthur Desmond, author of the book 'Might is Right,' one of the greatest books ever written.
Arthur Desmond (Redbeard), Larry Petrie (who died in Paraguay), having been killed through a railway accident occurring there, near Villa Rica), John A. Andrews, and John Dwyer, were the founders of the Anti-Parliamentary League, which was the logical outcome of the Political Labor movement being gone back upon by numerous individuals like the Kellys, Hughes, and the Holmans, who, once having tasted of the 'tarts' in the Parliamentary bakehouse, would not make any efforts to destroy that House of privilege, for which especial purpose those named, and others, were sent there to help accomplish to that end.
So those who first nurtured what is now the Australian Labor Party of New South Wales, being disappointed, formed a little "rump" of their own. The Active Service Brigade was the name of their organisation, and 'Redbeard' edited their little sheet, whose whole existence was a fury of storms and libel actions. 'Hard Cash' was its name.
Desmond's whole life while in Australia was tempestuous; although well posted as a financial authority (he through some means had access to the State Parliamentary Library) and thereby learnt many things — of coming banking cries, of tottering institutions.
Even before the bomb explosion in the steamship Aramac, for which later Petrie was charged but acquitted, Desmond showed in 'Hard Cash' that some sixty thousand pounds (£60,000) of Secret service money had been expended in Sydney previous to that affair. He lampooned politicians in authority right and left, not 'letting up.'
The favorite means employed by Desmond was to print stickers throwaways and dodgers, which were printed at a secret press, one of the more famous being that one with the words 'Gone Bung,' and of which thousands were posted on the walls and posted around Sydney some months before the bank smash of year 1891.
This sticker, which he was caught red-handed putting on the doors of the A.J. Stock Bank in Georger street, for which he was arrested, and escaped through a point of law, besides innumerable others written in verse. Desmond put on the stickers Printed at the "Australian Star" Office, Sydney, which was of course, a false imprint.
Writer well recolleets one which ran like this —
This temple of Mammon—a temple of stones—
Are cemented with rapine, and murder and loans—
Its foundation stones rest upon Debt and Despair
And the Thief and the robber have headquarters there.
Another Another was entitled, "Backing Down" — a verse—
O God of Vengeance, grant a man—
A man of Iron frame,
To lead the legions of the Robbed,
Against the Lords of Shame;
To marshall millions marching on,
From River, Bush, and Town,
Who would not quail at leaden hail,
Nor end by "Backing Down."
Nowadays 'Redbeard' is still alive and living in Chicago, Illinois, America, conducting one of the largest book stores in the world. Arthur Desmond must be well over 80 years of age.
The Literary Bookstore issues two monthly index news-sheets— one being called "The Eagle and The Serpent," and another is issued as "The Lion's Paw." They both are unique productions and contain many sets of vigorous verses by the erstwhile New Zealander.
Desmond has been adventurer, war correspondent and journalist, and fierce denunciator of political action. Desmond is a native of Napier, Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, and strange also to say, although being of Irish ancestry, he fought throughout the war in South Africa (1899-1901) as a loyal soldier for England.
The above picture of Arthur Desmond was sent to the writer from Capetown, during the year 1901, and, hitherto, no portrait of Desmond has ever previously been printed, so far as the writer knows of.
Windsor and Richmond Gazette, Friday 8 October, 1926
Read about "RAGNAR REDBEARD" in the Ross's Monthly article by Geo G. Reeve, published 1920. It contains another photograph of Arthur Desmond (RAGNAR REDBEARD) without the beard.