Arthur Desmond Recollections of a Rebel

Hard Cash revolutionaries

ARTHUR DESMOND Recollections of a Rebel

The recollections of a Rebel. Recent mention (Bulletin 12/6 ’l9) of the death abroad of Arthur Desmond, the vigorous panegyrist of “Te Kooti the Bold,” recalls another journalistic exploit with which Desmond was connected in Sydney in the early ’nineties.

HARD CASH was its name, and it gave the bank-reconstructors of the period beans, in language calculated to burn holes in their steel doors. Though probably half a dozen Sydney editors could have taken joint and several affidavits as to the name of the author of most of the HARD CASH articles and vitriolic pars, and though Desmond, Andrews, Larry de Petrie (the one-armed Scot who was aboard the Aramac when she was bombed on the voyage from Sydney to Brisbane, and who afterward died a hero’s death on a Paraguayan railway) and several other alleged revolutionaries were shadowed by the detectives for weeks, those responsible for the compilation and printing of the sheet were never officially discovered.

A Thousand Books of Fame

Months later a little old platen printing machine was found in a lumber-room in a tenantless Woolloomooloo house, together with certain signs of comparatively recent use, and a few scraps of yellow paper similar to that on which the dreadful HARD CASH was produced; but the only man who achieved gaol was McNamara, the Castlereagh-street newsagent, who sold the rag at his shop.

The printer who set up and machined the publication was never even suspected; in fact, he was not suspected of being a printer at all, even by his closest acquaintances. How he managed the risky business, including the collection of “copy” from Desmond and others, the acquisition of the printing materials, etc., had better not be told yet awhile; for it might upset some fine little Sydney schoolboys to learn that their ultra-respectable churchwarden grand-dad was once an ink-stained buccaneer in a cave contiguous to Sydney Cove.

The Bulletin, 10 July, 1919.