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Rob's Shed

Abner Brown, Impartiality and "Blossom" the Cow

On the 24th of January, 1831, Abner Willerton Brown, the Ordnance Storekeeper, wrote to the editor of the Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser:

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette

SIR,

Observing in your Gazette of the 22nd Instant a few illogical and defamatory lines, intended for me, in answer to a letter which appeared in your paper, on the 20th Instant, signed Impartiality supposing me to be the author; I should have thought it unworthy my notice, were it not for the purpose of informing the worthy Blossom, that I disclaim all knowledge whatever of the letter in question, neither did I know of its existence, before it was shown to me. I believe from facts which I have been eyewitness of, that its origination is from a very elevated quarter. When ever I may have occasion to address you, I shall never disguise my personal address. By your inserting this you will much oblige,

Sir,
your most obedient servant
ABNER BROWN
Dawes Battery, 24th Jan. 1831


This is what had prompted Brown's letter:

IMPROMPTU

On Reading the Letter Signed "Impartiality" in Thursday's Gazette

Oh, Mr. Editor, do not in future let
Thy columns be for slander set;
Do let old Blossom freely roam,
Her milk is good, and she's at home;
Do not attention pay to those,
Nor do such scandal thou expose.
The cow on which "Impartiality" says much
Has high permission to graze in the ditch.
Do, Mr. Bombardier, thy business mind.
Fill thy shells with ammunition of other kind.
Do let J--n N---'s Blossom be.
Love thy neighbour as he loves thee;
And, should the widow be distressed,
Relieve her wants, and thou'lt be blessed.

Bong Bong, January, 1831


So what was the subject of "Impartiality's" letter?

To the Editor of the Sydney Gazette

SIR

Allow me through the medium of your highly respectable and widely circulated journal, to call the attention of our zealous and indefatigable Government to the defective state of the impounding system at present, particularly in Sydney and its environs; and as I am actuated solely by a love of justice and impartiality, I am sure you will, with your accustomed zeal, for the same reasons, lend your powerful aid in redressing what I consider a great public grievance.....

I am sorry to say that the practice of letting cattle, &c. stray in the public streets and roads is becoming very prevalent of late, and it is nothing short of a miracle that accidents are not more numerous than they are; and I regret to observe that this shameful disregard of the provisions of a highly essential local Act (the Impounding Act) is not confined to the poorer classes, who may be supposed to suffer a head or two of cattle to seek their subsistence by the way-sides, for the lack of the means of support, but is practised by the upper orders, to whom we look up as an example, and who should be the last to commit any infraction of the law.

I have observed such a strict impartiality in the journal which you conduct, upon every occasion, that I am induced to give you a proof of the rottenness of the system as respects these practices, hoping that it will have the effect of doing away with a crying nuisance that comes daily, nay hourly, under my personal observation; - it is that of a cow, the property of a high public officer, who resides not a hundred miles from ---- ---, that is suffered to wander about the roads in that part of the town from sun-rise to sun-set (not even excepting the Sabbath day), and many have been the hair-breadth escapes of the most serious accidents to the equestrian and jehu, to say nothing of the continual depredation committed by her upon the property of those residing in the neighbourhood.

On the other hand, the widow of a deceased soldier (who was presented with a cow and calf by Government on receiving his discharge, under a regulation made for the benefit of discharged veterans and others), happening, on an occasion of severe family affliction, to forget to secure her cow, the beast was impounded three times in 48 hours, the fees amounting each time to 5s.

Now, Mr. Editor, I need not appeal to your humanity farther than to assume that a shilling to that hapless and distressed widow and 4 orphan children was more than a pound note to the officer in question, and yet his cow has never found her way to the pound. If, Mr. Editor, you think these remarks worthy a place in your valuable columns, and by meeting his eye the nuisance be abated, you will, I am sure, receive the thanks of all whose avocations may bring them in contact with his cow, and will truly oblige your old subscriber,

IMPARTIALITY.
George street, Sydney, Jun. 17, 1831


Unanswered questions: Why did the author of the poem assume that Impartiality's target was Abner Brown, the Ordnance Storekeeper? And who was J--n N---, the owner of the vagrant Blossom?


More about Abner Brown - "Battery Brown and His Delicate Affair"


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Robert Curran
borclaud @ tpg.com.au