PROSE PIECE: BROOKER’S NOSE

BROOKER’S NOSE
No one (especially a stranger) having an eye for the beautiful, can go through this district without being struck by its beautiful scenery. Walking from Bulli to the town of Wollongong, you behold mountains clothed from base to summit with noble looking trees; here and there, at the foot of these mountains, rise little hills like emeralds, divided, as it were, by tiny rivulets, which sparkle in the sun like so many diamonds; then there are the splended [sic] forests of eucalypti on either side of you, through which at intervals you catch a glimpse of the ocean and hear its murmur. I do not think anyone with but half a soul could look upon such scenes as this without a feeling of gratitude to the Great Creator of all things beautiful and good. I had been loitering on my way to town, and the sun was just sinking behind a mountain, which I had not before seen, and its rays falling on it and its surroundings made a glorious picture. An old man passing at the time, I asked him the name of this mountain. He looked at me, with a broad grin on his face at my ignorance, and replied, “That! Oh that is Brooker’s Nose!” and passed on. Good heavens, I said to myself, what a name for such a mountain. What could have suggested such a name? It bore not the slightest resemblance to a broker’s, banker’s, or any other nose that I had ever seen. Now, if it had been called chin, I might have fancied that the broker (whose name it bears) had an enormous beard, as thick as the foliage on the mountain, and that it had become a saying that his beard resembled it. But the nose – I could not get over the shock that nose caused me. “Some are born to greatness, others achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them,” and so this broker has had greatness thrust upon him by having his nose tacked on to this beautiful mountain. Shakespeare (or Bacon) asks – “What’s in a name?” I presume to answer, a great deal. I know I had not half as much pleasure in looking at this mountain as I had before I heard it’s [sic] most un-euphonious name. I remember when young nearly falling in love with a very handsome young man, but on learning that his name was Fogarty, I became quite disenchanted, so I stick to my opinion that there is a great deal in a name, be it good or bad. Before I had quite left the forest I began to think what a pity it would be if the ring-barkers were to come here and kill our beautiful trees, under pretence that they absorb too much water. Now, I do not know too much about the quantity they require; all I know is that they are beautiful, and I should be grieved to see them cut down or disfigured in any way, except when necessity compels us to do so; but this I do know, that a tree is growing here, spreading its roots all over this beautiful place, and bearing fruit all the year round, which absorbs all the water of our lives, which is daily destroying the body and souls of thousands of human beings. I mean the cursed tree of intemperance; and yet this tree is allowed to grow and flourish, the people not only allowed, but [allared?] to drink of the juice of this tree, which –
Crushes out love of our kindred,
Our faith in divine attributes;
And brings us quite down to the level,
Much lower indeed than the brutes.
I had seen as I walked along the road some of the fruits of this tree, which had been sucked dry and was now lying about the sides of the road in the shape of empty flasks and bottles of all sorts and sizes. I felt as if the sight had taken away all the beauty from the scenery and the gladness from my heart. Would to God, I cried (almost aloud), that the axe was laid to the root of this tree. If our lawmakers and wise men were only wise enough to see how utterly useless it is to lop the branches, cut off a limb or two, or ring this tree by their half measures and so-called restrictions, they must cut it up by its roots, and then we might hope for the Millenium, but if they continue sacrificing their children to their god “Moloch” (alias Revenue), they must expect a fearful reckoning up of accounts at last.

(Illawarra Mercury, May 24, 1884

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19th-century Australian writer, pioneer, teacher. The site of the rambling research of Mr Knox's offsider.

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