MOST OF THE QUOTATIONS ARE FROM HAMILTON-GREY – and her version of life is a little unusual. I, myself, wonder where father Basil was when the twins Henry and Basil Edward arrived catching their mother so unprepared that she did not even have a cradle for them and burly Jim Burkenshaw carved one from a log. I don’t imagine that heavily pregnant mothers customarily provided the cradle. How did the mother become known as incompetent in this situation with Daddy only 2 years previously spending most of the year indulged in criminal activities or the court and prison matters resultant from them ? Consider also the probability of an early labour with the birth of twins.
When Jim Burkenshaw and his mates were creating the Twin Cradle from a massive log and making cedar rockers, Mrs HG describes them as ‘ revelling in doing good” and says of MELINDA;
the poet’s mother, whose beauty, vivacity and genuine kindness of disposition would appeal to those rough bushmen of the early times in the Ulladulla District. We are told that in those early times, she was often termed by many of the bush folk “THE FLOWER LADY’; which soubriquet was more dear to her romantic soul than any other title that the chance of birth and pedigree, or any honour conferred by royalty or parliament, would have been; for Mrs Basil Kendall’s naturalness was one of her most distinctive features of character – as became the mother of a poet.
I’m not sure that Melinda was aware of that on the day of said Poet’s birth but Mrs HG has these recollections from an elderly gentleman of the district and if we leave out HGs interpretation, we are left with which I am delighted.
Mrs HG also has it from Henry Evans – husband of Edith Emily, Melinda’s youngest child, that Henry Kendalls’ first poem was written when he was 10 years of age ( never printed), It read as follows;
Mother, Mother I have read the Pilgrim’s Progress through –
Mrs HG then says
This little manuscript was carefully preserved by his mother for many years and the history of it was related by her to her son-in-law, who , as a very young man, when only a junior clerk in the Post Office, Sydney, and one of the young people frequently visiting their home at Enmore found great favour with Mrs Basil Kendall to the extent of giving her young daughter to him in marriage at the early age of 16.
The poem was lost and only the first line remembered. Mrs Basil Kendall was careful to keep Kendall supplied with the best literature she could obtain with her limited means and the PILGRIM’S PROGRESS was in the boy’s possession at an exceptionally early age. That book – with the Bible- and Bible stories- won his childish interest particularly.
While I am at it , I shall put in Mrs HGs view of the family situation following the death of Basil O on the Clarence.
It will be remembered by those who have read POET KENDALL that when Basil Kendall, the father of the poet, died on the Clarence River, Mrs Basil Kendall, with her twin sons an her little daughters, returned to Sydney, but not to Ulladulla. Mrs Basil and the twins found a refuge with Mrs Basil Kendall’s father, brother and sisters, some few miles out of Wollongong. But having no means of her own, and no way then, of providing a home for her family of five children, all of tender age, she had no alternative than to accept the only terms offered her by her husband’s more wealthy relatives, and consent to be separated from her three daughters – JANE, MARY JOSEPHINE and EDITH EMILY ( the latter of a VERY tender age).
It was Sheridan Moore who introduced Kendall to Michael after Kendall’s mother had taken him to see Sheridan Moore and submitted his collection of poems to the critical judgement of that gentleman, who proposed that the same collection of poems should be published in volume form and subscriptions invited to pay the expenses of the publication.
Acknowledged with thanks. TG.