Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia

Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia A Century After Its First Publication, Robbery Under Arms Remains As Fresh And Enthralling As When It Originally Appeared In Serial Form In The Sydney Mail Related In First Person By Bushranger Dick Marston As He Awaits His Appointment With The Gallows, The Novel Vividly Evokes His Turbulent Years As Cattleduffer And Bushranger In Company With His Father Ben, Brother Jim And The Gentleman Adventurer, Captain Starlight

A pseudonym of

❮Ebook❯ ➨ Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia Author Rolf Boldrewood –
  • Hardcover
  • 447 pages
  • Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia
  • Rolf Boldrewood
  • English
  • 22 September 2019

10 thoughts on “Robbery Under Arms: A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia

  1. says:

    For a story about bushrangers this sure was boring Also racist and sexist, even for the time period it was written in I believe at one point the narrator says that women need to be starved like dogs to appreciate what they have Also apparently women are only capable of experiencing two emotions while men are much complex No thanks.

  2. says:

    My impression of Robbery Under Arms is one of appreciation that such a book exists Boldrewood or Browne, as that was his actual name captures the setting and spirit of colonial Australia during the middle of the 19th Century, as it happened The book captures the feeling of that remote colony and his writing captures the dialect of a people that worked apart from the Old World to make Australia their home From there, there is a feeling of kinship that grows from the similarities that exist between the history of the American West and those of this then distant land This book is filled with cattle, ranchers, horses, towns, cowboys, ranges and mountains Had the story been set in Oklahoma the spirit these things would have changed very little But while the actions that drive this book could have been written by El Leonard or Zane Grey, they weren t This book, through and through, is uniquely Australian.The central theme gives rise to considerations of justice Does the doling out of punishment that simply fits the crime, regardless of circumstances, truly balance the scales held in the hand of justice Or are the scales held aloft as a distraction for that other item she holds in her other hand Society controls punishment and those outside of society have little say in it s application Thus, mercy is of a man made miracle with respect to just punishment and the finger of society forever rests upon the scales.The tone of the book is truly sincere It s no spoiler to say that the story is told from the first person perspective of a condemned man and from his narrative the reader grows to understand this man s path towards his fate The narration is matter of fact and deliberately avoids gimmicks such as mystery, suspense, and over played action This approach allows the reader to focus on the acts and circumstances of the characters and to better understand the story of the condemned.

  3. says:

    Previous rating 4 starsGoing through my bookshelves doing the annual clean up, as you do, I came across my well worn copy of Robbery Under Arms one of the few novels I will never clean out I got to thinking, what rating did I give this and did I ever review it So on here I come, to see a 4 star rating and no review of one of my all time favourite Australian classics Up it goes to 5 stars, followed by a review.I have read this story from cover to cover 3 times It is a slow paced story in its essence The reason for this being that in order to immerse oneself in the good old Australian way of live before the turn of the 20th Century one must enjoy the bush life Bush rangers, cattle thieves and of course, those upright and tight citizens of colonial times The description is unlike that of anything you will read today because being written in 1888 the Australia as we know it did not exist Hence the slow pace Life was slow then compared to now This does not make it boring by any stretch of the imagination.Based on the Marston family and their progression from the life of farmers to that of highway men, this story craftily intertwines them with Captain Starlight When published in the newspapers, in installments, Browne Bolderwood had characterised Starlight and Co to a point where the public thought him and them real This was due to his first hand experience with bush rangers It is this real life experience that comes through, grabs you and sucks you into the story to such a level that you can vividly picture settings, characters and plot line or you just damn well want to be there I am all for this becoming a set text in the classroom once again

  4. says:

    To enjoy this book, read a chapter a week That s about a pleasant pace Put it down often and really try to imagine the society sights, the sounds, and even the smells Don t rush it, don t obsess, I ve cost myself some sweet dreams by slogging it out Not that that was my original intention, my mind changed after finding the story content contemptibly familiar I wish the author had written about music, how that was back 150 years beyond my imagination.Not the best aussie book I ve read, The Amazing Life Adventures of William Buckley takes that trophy A novel in the Social Realist style I reckon Ironically, it is less realistic for the effort Depictions of attitudes are rather expressions of platitudes, those lonely souls in the bush who take to drink to escape the boredom rarely reflect upon themselves as they are drinking, as lonely souls in the bush who took to drink to escape boredom When they drink wouldn t it be sex violence on their minds To be clear, the honest effort really does come out of these pages, wildlife and customs, sounds and societies of the gold fields and such like are encompassed in the effort by Mr Boldrewood to describe the totality of his experience.Two major crimes are covered, let me now share these two delightful pieces of Australiana The first is the theft of 1,000 cattle This is an approximate number, and the convicts who undertook this act of villainy were captured convicted by evidence in the form of a white bull Mr Boldrewood seems to have a over balanced view of the crime, tar on all and targets for all The second crime, is the robbery of the bank The real equivalent was the Kelly Gang, who first bound all the local police before robbing the bank and perhaps had a few beers at the town s public house before departing.

  5. says:

    Robbery under arms is a bushranger novel by Thomas Alexander Browne, published under his pseudonym Rolf Boldrewood, It was first published in serialized form by The Sydney Mail between July 1882 and August 1883, then in three volumes in London in 1888 It was abridged into a single volume in 1889 as part of Macmillan s one volume Colonial Library series and has not been out of print since 28 May 2019 In this famous Australian novel, a young man, Dick Marston, who has been condemned to hang, writes down the sorry tale of his drift into crime and outlawry This is a ripping yarn of cattle duffing rustling, in American parlance , gaol breaking, bank robbery, highway robbery, and audacious confidence trickery, leavened with a good deal of Dick s rather monotonous lamentation of the poor choices he has made in his life Marston s partners in crime are an English gentleman known as Captain Starlight, Starlight s sinister aboriginal servant Warrigal, Dick s decent but haplessly loyal brother Jim, and his reprobate father, a transported Lincolnshire poacher, every single one of them a consummate bushman and horseman.An important challenge, for a novelist constructing a narrative from the point of view of a felon, is to engage the sympathy of normally law abiding readers, to make the reader s guilty pleasure in audacious crime feel less guilty Boldrewood s chief protagonists, though outlaws, are constructed according to approved 19th century norms of masculine virtue Starlight is every inch a gentleman, by birth and in his conduct the Marston brothers, though of humble origins, are presented as young men of thoroughly decent feelings and character Masculinity is constructed in a very conventional way courage, fortitude, honour, and chivalry The notion of chivalry informs all relations, good and bad, between the sexes Young men may fall in love, but there is nary a whiff of actual sex anywhere in the narrative The conduct of even the worst of men in the presence of women appears pretty tame when Moran, Burke, and Daly hold the Whitman women at gunpoint, the boorish Moran at first confines himself to compelling the eldest Miss Whitman to play the piano and sing, while he and his companions drink themselves into a stupor later when Moran, demanding a dance from Miss Falkland, puts his arm around her, he crosses a line beyond which Boldrewood will not permit him to go, and Jim gallantly rescues her, knocking Moran s head so hard against a wall that he falls down unconscious.While readers may wink at cattle duffing, gaol breaking, and tying up bank clerks and troopers at gunpoint, it is difficult to deflect the gravity of murder The survivors of the bounty hunters who have come close to discovering the Marston Gang s life saving bolt hole, the Terrible Hollow, are killed in cold blood by Dan Moran who remains unaware of what he is protecting Though Starlight and the Marstons are tainted in the eyes of the public by this crime, only Marston senior was actually there The murder of Sergeant Hawkins is quite a different case The robbery of the Turon Goldfield escort began with an ambush many shots were fired and Sergeant Hawkins, who was driving the wagon, was shot dead in the first volley Dick later rationalizes the killing We were all sorry for Sergeant Hawkins, and would have been better pleased if he d been only wounded like the others But these sorts of things couldn t be helped It was the fortune of war his luck this time, ours next His justification is that, as outlaws, the gang are at war, and combatants are licensed to kill enemy combatants by whatever means serve that end I don t buy it This is cold blooded murder, and grievous bodily harm to the troopers who weren t killed Nobody was forced to fire on the escort I know nothing of the revisions which were made between the original serialized Robbery under Arms and the single volume 1889 edition, but I d place a small bet that the scene at the Turon Goldfields which is never really explained , in which Moran fixes his gaze on the trooper a sergeant driving the escort wagon, was added later to suggest to the reader that Hawkins murderer is Moran As for Moran, we could see him fix his eyes upon the sergeant who was driving, and look at him as if he could look right through him He never took his eyes off him the whole time, but glared at him like a maniac Thus the Marstons and Captain Starlight are exculpated in the mind of the reader, and they remain acceptably wholesome characters for whom allowances may be made.High adventure has been an almost exclusively masculine affair in English language fiction until quite recently, so it is to Boldrewood s credit that there are so many women in the novel, some of them quite strong and active characters Aileen Marston, sister of Dick and Jim, works the family farm, rides well, knows her own mind, and is capable of making bold decisions while I suspect some feminists will deplore the fate that the novel assigns to her, it is plausibly a fate of her own choosing, given her background and the times, and in no sense an emblematic punishment for presumptuous agency Women within the Marston circle, with the single exception of Kate explicitly presented as a bad lot , have hearts of gold and are unfailingly loyal to their menfolk When men and women relax together, they mostly sing around the piano and make jolly banter I suspect that English readers of Robbery under Arms would have found these colonial women attractively free of airs and pretense.The novel s single indigenous character is not sympathetically presented, always seething with ill concealed hostility to the Marston brothers His name, Warrigal, is a Dharuk Eora word meaning wild dingo , but which in Australian English may be loosely applied to wild horses, wild dogs, wild men, or even uncultivated plants Tetragonia tetragonoides a.k.a warrigal greens The parallel between Starlight s servant Warrigal and Marston senior s dog Crib is not easily missed both are reckoned to have a than common degree of intelligence and initiative sagacity was once a popular word for such qualities in an animal , both suffer occasional harsh beatings at the hands of their master, and both are loyal to the point of adoration I don t think I m stretching a point if I state that Warrigal is presented as an intelligent and useful working animal, like Crib Apart from Warrigal, Australian indigenous people exist in the novel only as trackers assisting the police Boldrewood was a man of his time.The adventures and escapes of the Marston Gang make very entertaining reading, and Dick Marston s narrative voice, while sometimes a little quaint, carries the tale along well The gentleman highwayman may seem a bit of a clich , but perhaps it wasn t so when this was written It is no surprise that Robbery under Arms has never been out of print It s a thoroughly enjoyable adventure story with a range of well drawn bush characters, and town ones too If it s a bit operatic in places, I won t knock it for that If you re looking for a cracking good adventure story, this is hard to beat.

  6. says:

    Like many young countries, the first 100 years of Australia s colonised history don t yield much in the way of great fiction You could do a Top 10 list comfortably without missing anything important Robbery Under Arms must be on that list Is it slow going Yes Is it rambling Certainly, although in a pleasingly modern way In fact, modern is a word that comfortably fits this book Despite being written than 130 years ago, the characters and especially the dialogue feel astoundingly up to date This is real speech, not the kind featured in high literature, and it captures the reality of life in 19th century Australia from a working class and indeed outlawed class perspective Astounding to think that the main roads I travel along each week were the province of bushrangers and far flung carriages only a little over a century ago.This is very much a melodrama, no question, but it taps into something The 19th century fad for serialised novels had hit by this point, and Boldrewood creates something moving at least in his male characters that goes beyond a story of stick em up adventures Very enjoyable.

  7. says:

    Unexpectedly wonderful I just adored this book about the exploits and fates of a group of bushrangers in New South Wales in mid nineteenth century Australia I found the characters, the story, the portrayal of colonial Australia and the language of the time mesmerising.The bulk of the action takes place around 1851 and is narrated by the central character Dick Marston while he is in gaol awaiting death by hanging From the beginning you know that Dick ends up a condemned man and from there he tells the story of the events that led to that fate.I found the characters to be wonderfully written and they felt real to me I cared about them and kept hoping against all probability that things would turn out right for them I was on the edge of my seat the entire time that I read this book, fearing that at any minute Dick, his brother Jim and the leader of the gang of outlaws Starlight would meet their fates I found the ending highly satisfying as well.This book is a wonderful insight into Australia at this time in its history and I highly recommend it.

  8. says:

    Possibly the book with the best subtitle A Story of Life and Adventure in the Bush and in the Goldfields of Australia Sounded like my kind of novel and it was It s an outlaw narrative of Dick Marston and his younger brother Jim being led by their dodgy dad into a wild life of cattle rustling, then progressing to stagecoach stickups and of course, armed robbery They come across various colourful characters, including Starlight the dashing gentleman robber I had a similar enjoyable experience reading Lorna Doone by R D Black, set in 17th century England Both novels are rustic historical romances of epic lengths, since they were originally serialised, which makes for long but action packed reads where you get fully engrossed in the characters It was also fun to compare Robbery under Arms to another recent Australian outlaw novel True History of the Kelly Gang by Peter Carey Both are incredibly similar storylines, being told by outlaws in the first person writing their life stories from prison I wonder if Carey was influenced by Boldrewood However, Carey s novel is a modern, cynical read while Boldrewood likes to romanticise and moralise the moralising does get a bit much but it is 19th century literature Carey s novel may be a superior literary work, but Boldrewood s gallery of rogues and colourful Aussie dialect still makes for a jolly read to this day I also felt surprisingly moved by the end Saddle up with Rolf if you like good old fashioned adventure stories.

  9. says:

    It isn t spectacular, but I enjoyed reading it A fairly simple tale of a rural boy going down the path of a criminal, but who finds redemption in the end at great cost The writing itself is also simple, but it fits the setting and the characters involved, and it s fun finding old Australian slang this many centuries later.The book has a bit of a problem with its morality, I think specifically, when it wants to apply it It dances between castigating the main characters the Marston brothers, their father, and the leader of their gang of bushrangers, Starlight and singing their praises They re criminals, but they don t do the really bad stuff The newspapers praise how well mannered they are after having killed policemen in shootouts, and there s a running theme of playing fair with the police with the implication that it makes it above board The book also becomes ambivalent about the cause of their criminal downfall whether they were forced into it by obligation to friends and family, whether they had a choice at every step and made the wrong one, or whether it was inherently built into them to become rough types or not I also found the story of the protagonist s brother, Jim Marston, pretty frustrating He is essentially used as the punching bag for the story to punish the protagonist s impulsive actions, and is dragged along and has his life destroyed, each time essentially in reaction to Dick s own choices It ended up feeling contrived and and cruel, but that may have been the point.

  10. says:

    This is a deceptively small volume, hardy and ideal to take travelling, very much in keeping with its subject matter The style may seem long winded to the modern reader, and it is definitely a product of its time Thomas Wood s introduction picks up on some of its shortcomings, chiefly the author s tendency to moralise through his protagonist, but that strangely provides another point of interest the study of a man who chooses a path he knows to be wrong, and self defeating In fact the author captures very well the inconsistencies that exist within our human nature, the inner conflicts that we deal with either by suppression or distraction, transference or projection or a myriad of other defences, and rarely find resolution for And this is something he applies across the cast of characters Noone s goodness guarantees their happiness, and noone s moral failings guarantee their downfall Life, as it is protrayed in these pages, is difficult and complicated, full of choice but also strangely constricted too So it is a book that is hard, compelling and enjoyable that raises many questions It would make an excellent film too, if done well I have got a lot out of it than I expected and I hope it travels widely and gives enjoyment and food for thought for many readers.

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