Sunday, May 26, 2013

William Outhwaite’s 1885 Auckland cricket poem

With day one at Headingley washed out, I put my time to some use hunting out an old 19th century cricket poem on Saturday.
When I was putting together A Tingling Catch a few years ago, one book I wasn't able to view at the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington was a diary by the Twelve of an Auckland First Class XI’s tour south in the 1884/85 season titled Pavilion Echoes from the South. (The copy had been temporarily misplaced.)
It was the second collection after the first tour diary On Tented Fields of the South collected by the Childe [Auckland cricketer W F Buckland – the presumed author] in the 1882/83 season and printed in Auckland in 1883. I included several poems from that book in A Tingling Catch.
Well, when another Auckland team toured south two seasons later, their diary including cricket poems and songs appeared similarly, printed in Auckland in 1885.
Of interest in this book is also a poem by William Outhwaite, the presumed author of The Ladies’ Guide to Cricket c1883. An essay about the book and Outhwaite’s life appears on this blog.
As a companion to that article, I’d like to share with you Outhwaite’s cricket poem, ‘To Robinson’s Twelve’, concerning the Twelve who toured from Auckland.
Outhwaite mentions W Lankham, R Blair, A B O’Brien, Jack Arneil, R J Yates and W F Buckland as remaining behind. They were some of the well-known Auckland players who were all on the first tour south in 1882/83. (They all appear in the first Tented Fields diary.)
The Auckland captain of both touring teams was W W (“Billy”) Robinson. A friend Rowan Gibbs who is working on a cricket book about Robinson’s career found this poem by Outhwaite for me while researching a copy of Pavilion Echoes from the South in the Rare Books Section of the Auckland City Library.
The copy of Pavilion Echoes from the South has now been located at the Turnbull Library, and I was at last able to reproduce the poem.
Here it is:


To Robinson’s Twelve

(A New Ode by an Old Chum)

Forth from the North there sallied a team
Of wanderers, partially skimming the cream
Of our cricket, but leaving behind ’em,
A “residuum” that made us look glum,
While the A.C.A., in a pet swore “By gum,
“We shan’t call ’em Reps.—never mind ’em!”

*          *          *          *          *

            For Lankham, Yates, O’Brien,
            With Jack Arneil the fly ’un
Reluctantly forbore the pleasant cruise;
            Tho’ substitutes were plucky,
            And sometimes rather lucky,
They couldn’t slog like giant Blair and Dewes.

            While C. F. Reid and Walker,
            With Buckland—mighty talker,—
And eke almighty leveller of sticks,
            Were left forlorn to languish,
            And drop the tear of anguish,
Ah me! ’tis hard to kick against the pricks.

            Then kindly Cantab foeman
            Call this not—improper nomen
An Auckland Representative Eleven,
            Nor reason like that simple
            Childish wearer of a wimple
In Wordsworth’s little poem “We are seven.”

            For certes our chosen cricket,
            When Provincially we pick it,
Can furnish forth a tougher lot to tackle;
            So reckon not as laurel
            A wreath of mountain sorrel,
Nor swell your list of victories with cackle.

*          *          *          *          *

Yet our trusty skipper undaunted sailed
With his casual crew, and they never quailed
            Before the long odds that faced us:
A draw, a defeat, and a win he scores—
Wanderers! Welcome back to our shores—
            Good lads, ye have not disgraced us!

Poem © William Outhwaite 1885


The poem was signed W.E.O. [William Eugene Outhwaite].

“A.C.A.” = Auckland Cricket Association.

The poem is introduced with the following text:

The following verses have been sent by the writer on account of a paragraph in the Canterbury Times. As our correspondent sees nearly all our matches, has played well himself, and is an excellent judge, we append the lines. The paragraph which caused our kind sympathiser and contributor to burst into verse runs as follows:—“From an intimate knowledge of Auckland cricket, none of those left behind would have done better than their substitutes.” Now, even though our vanity may make us agree with the Canterbury Times, figures on the Domain tell us a different tale, Reader—Au Revoir!

I note that the poem references Wordsworth and a quote from Wordsworth’s poem ‘Peter Bell’ is also in the Ladies’ Guide to Cricket – a reference that gives us more evidence for Outhwaite as the presumed author of the Ladies’ Guide.
The style of this Outhwaite poem is more in line with the light verse cricket poems contained in the Ladies’ Guide. (One of these poems is also in Pavilion Echoes from the South.)
The Auckland team (Dec-Jan 1884/85) mentioned in the poem drew with Wellington, lost to Canterbury and defeated Otago (both of the latter two games played at Lancaster Park), so did not fair too badly despite being considered a weakened Auckland side by Outhwaite for the tour south.

Article © Mark Pirie 2013

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