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2-328 (Original)

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author,male,Lowe, Robert,36 addressee
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Kramer, 1985
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The more we observe of that most admirable, contemptible, wonderful, anomalous being, man, the more we are satisfied that he is as much the slave of custom and habit as the meanest animal of creation. [26] Man in a colony is simply a money-making creature. From morn till night, all the year round, his faculties are strained up to and concentrated upon that one object. He has no time for anything else. No time to love, no time to hate, no time to rejoice, no time to mourn. He does not seem even to heap up riches that he may enjoy them. He does not buy books, pictures, busts, or laboratories, or any other means of strictly rational pleasure for the sake of rational pleasure, but he makes money that he may have it, and enable his wife, perhaps by piquant dinners and stylish equipage, to excite the envy, hatred, malice and uncharitableness of her neighbours. Life to the money-making colonist is truly a battle; a great fight which he unceasingly carries on in order that he may win a joyless fortune and at last die respectably - with assets.
Hence it is that in New South Wales we are never put out of our way by sudden deaths or unexpected bereavements of friends and relations. Whilst we are all laying about us right and left for the purpose of effecting our own advancement, we as little turn aside from our own absorbing pursuits when we find a man down, as we should do at a Waterloo or in an earthquake. We bury each other with about as much emotion as we feel when we dine with each other, perhaps frequently with more pleasure. This is a remarkable fact. We should probably regard it as philosophy and stoicism if we did not know it to be acquired insensibility.
We have been betrayed into this slight opening-up of an old vein of thought in us by a recent event, which ought not to be without interest to those who feel or profess to feel an interest in the condition of New South Wales. A man of many remarkable qualities of mind and character, of singular industry, energy, and general ability, and favourably distinguished from the mass in a variety of ways, has very lately been removed from among us by death. Richard Windeyer has passed from time into eternity with little more notice or observation than is usually paid to the memory of the least interesting individual who has paid the debt of nature. We have heard one or two persons express surprise at this. We, however, so far from participating in such a feeling, should have felt surprise had it been otherwise. It would have slightly disturbed our conviction of the indifferency of colonial human nature, and shaken the theory which we have above faintly adumbrated to the reader.
We have never been willing, and we believe we are unable, to acquire this insensibility. We would not for more gold than we could tell give up the delight we can always feel in the contemplation of a great character. When our hope and confidence in human goodness and honesty wax faint within us, a thought of such men as Hampden and Washington will purge away the perilous stuff which weighs upon our heart, and put us again upon tolerant terms with our own nature. It is for this reason that we believe it to be good - not merely as a tribute of respect to the departed, but as a means of encouraging men towards unselfish aims and objects - to notice and discuss the merits of every man, who, having done or attempted something for the benefit of his race, has left his life to us, as a portion of human history which may be studied for the benefit of the survivors. [27] The season too for such a notice is advantageous. Death is a great soberiser of the more volatile and thoughtless part of us. The mind expatiates with a thoughtful awe in the void which death has made. We discuss but the memory and the image of the man whom so lately we saw and heard in all the alert intelligence of this apparently immortal life. What is he? Where is he? What is he doing now? It is truly a mighty change, to take place in one second of time - that change from life to death which makes such questions necessary. Whatever he is, wherever he is, whatever he may be doing, we shall soon, very soon all of us, go to the knowledge of it, as God shall please. So let us, whilst we are permitted, sometimes close our ledgers and cast aside our briefs, and think of this unshunnable destiny that awaits us a little onward. Thus shall we grow familiar with it, and when our hour is come, we shall go hence with decency and with composure.