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The Yorick Despatches: Part VI

Malcolm B Duncan's The last despatch is here.

Both of you readers will have to forgive me for being so long about getting back to the cornucopia of Dr Yorick’s chest but I have been occupied with other things of late and, after all, history is just another hobby (although don’t tell Geoffrey Blainey – well it wouldn’t matter really – you can’t tell him anything).   Now that I am at leisure again, I can return to that lascivious cleric, spymaster, and patron of seamstresses (if not their Saint), Jonathon Yorick DD.    Nothing could be clearer from current events that those who do not learn the lessons of history are bound to repeat them so let us see what we can learn from the good Dr.    Amongst his papers I found this letter to his half-brother, Tristram Shandy.

      31 x 07 anno domini

      Dear Brother Shandy,

      I trust you are in health and that the old complaint troubles you as little as on that night at Medenhem.   I have been much occupied with events in this wretched Colony.    Bligh seems to have gone mad.   Not only am I told that he has taken to sleeping under the bed but he has resolved to effect His Majesty’s policy and break the power of the Rum Corps by calling a Witenagemot.   Mrs Putland has insisted that females be enabled to take part and there is to be an election.    Further, His Excellency, the Commodore (chortle) has determined that the Witenagemot be held in that rogue Wentworth’s seat.

      The franchise is not to be as we, in Yorkshire, are used to Dear Brother.   There is to be a Roll but only of the free settlers.   Given the state of Mr Wentworth’s seat (and much of that may be attributed to his shameful mistress, the mother of Heaven alone knows how many children) there are to be only 12 electors and all of them have given their names as candidates.    His Excellency, however, has rejected one, a mad Scottish lawyer known for removing copies of the Gazette posted to trees and the like.   He and his ilk were out in the ’45 but he escaped Culloden.   Heaven knows how he came here – I must ask Dr Maturin next I see him.

      As to the remaining 11, as you know I am partial to any feline so I cannot take to the Turnbull creature (I dare not commit to writing even to you, Dear Brother, what he does to cats) but there is little choice.   A strange fellow of the Hebrew race with dyed hair and a reputation (if he has a reputation at all) for not paying his bills has put himself forward but so has a former mistress of his (I know not whether that is because he has not paid her).   It is said that he is canvassing support in the brothels of the other persuasion (if you take my meaning) clustered as they are around the byway named for my Lord of Oxford.   There is a demented slip of a woman who is convinced that the sun is too hot, a fellow who thinks every animal in the colony should be shot, two rabid Anabaptists, another Roman Catholic even more maniacal than Turnbull, a young man running for something called the Deceased Party, a nurse who thinks we should all go back to the stone age (as indeed, some of the inhabitants of this wretched place seem to have done) and, The Lord preserve me, a mean scribbler who writes scurrilous tosh for the only local paper worth reading.   Perhaps the mad Scot would have been a better choice after all.

      The Good Christ alone knows what the Rum Corps will make of it.   I have grave fears that it may spark rebellion.

      The Lord keep and save you brother,


It appears that this letter was dispatched with another more circumspect message to his master.  

      23 x 07 anno domini

      My Lord Archbishop,

      Your Grace, I write in extreme haste.   His Excellency the Governor seems to have gone mad.   He has ordered an election amongst the common people.    What might become of those who are born to rule, or, if your Grace will forgive my little conceit, those who are bourne to rule?*

      I have grave fears Your Grace.   Money will be needed to spy out this maneuver and it would be welcome.    If I might take the liberty of advising Your Grace, The Farmer should be informed immediately.   

      When does the Doctor arrive and does he sail with Aubrey?

      This speeds by the fastest paquet.

      In Christ,

      I remain, My Lord Archbishop,

      Your most obedient humble servant,

      Jo. Yorick DD efq.

      *   It appears, here, that Yorick was echoing the Romantics.

The ultimate replies to both were even more startling.
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