‘Parkes and the Templars’, The Bulletin, 3 September 1887
alcohol, Bulletin, drunkenness, I.O.G.T., New South Wales, NSW, piety, pledge, poem, politics, Sir Henry Parkes (1815-1896), state politics, temperance, Templars.
This poem has links with medievalism through its reference to ‘the Templars’. However, the Templars to whom it refers are not the famous medieval order of crusading knights but rather the crusading nineteenth-century temperance society, the I.O.G.T. The anonymous writer accuses Sir Henry Parkes (P-RK-S) of joining with, or rather of making use of, the temperance league for vested political interests. Presumably, the wily NSW premier was being accused of securing temperance votes by any means possible; including offering false ‘pledges.’ At the time, Parkes was into his fourth premiership, which he secured on a Free Trade ticket. He later managed to attain the office for a fifth time, equalling the accomplishment of his old rival Sir John Robertson. It is unlikely that Parkes ever seriously entertained the idea of enforcing temperance on the colony; he was too canny and his own fondness for champagne was too well known (see A. W. Martin, 'Parkes, Sir Henry (1815–1896)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/parkes-sir-henry-4366). He did, however, “regulate the liquor trade” in 1881, which pleased the temperance groups momentarily. The final stanza of the poem announces “When all the world is turned teetotal / Then P----s will leave the pleasant bottle, / But that’s in dim hereafter.” The anonymous Bulletin contributor also upbraids Sir Henry (and presumably politicians in general) for failing to maintain and justify ‘broken’ political pledges, for reasons only hinted at here.
3 September 1887, p.8
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