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32 Works of Morley Roberts

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King Billy Of Ballarat

Story type: Literature

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King Billy was given to strolling up and down the streets of Ballarat when that eviscerated city was merely in process of disembowelment, before alluvial mining gave way to quartz-crushing, when the individual had a chance, if a very vague one, of sudden and delightful fortune. The Ballarat blacks were a scaly lot, to talk […]


Story type: Essay

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The poor tramp is a much-abused person, and I have no doubt that he often deserves what is said of him, but, in spite of that, his life is often so hard that he might extort at the least a little sympathy–and something to eat. All Americans are too ready to confound two distinct classes […]

Texas Animals

Story type: Essay

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The fauna of Texas is very varied, and a naturalist may find plenty there for his note-book, and much to reflect on, if he be a contemplative man. A hunter may satisfy himself, too, if he goes into the extreme west and north-west, but he must be quick about it, for I received a letter […]

After coming back to England from Australia in the barque Essex I found “home” a curious place, which afforded very few prospects of a satisfactory job. For if there is one thing more than another borne in upon anyone who returns from the Colonies it is the apparent impossibility of earning one’s living in London. […]

According to his temperament a man’s memory of travel and the strange wild places of the earth deals chiefly with one set of reminiscences or with another. For me the remembered mornings of the wide and lonely world, whether in the bush, or on the prairie, or the veldt, or at sea, are my chiefest […]

I came out of London’s mirk and mist and the clouds of the Channel and the rollers of the Bay to find sunshine in the Gironde, though the east wind was cool in Bordeaux’s big river. And then even in Bordeaux I discovered that fog was over-common; brief sunshine yielded to thick mist, and the […]

I had seen Etna, Vesuvius and Stromboli, but had never yet climbed any volcano until I stood upon the summit of the Peak of Teneriffe, Pico de Teyde, home of the gods and devils as well as of the aboriginal Guanches of the Canary Islands. The wind was bitterly cold, more bitter, indeed, than I […]

With the introduction of fences, which are now coming in with tremendous rapidity, sheep-herding as an art is inevitably doomed. When I knew north-west Texas a few years ago there was not a fence between the Rio Grande and the north of the Panhandle, but now barbed or plain wire is the rule, and in […]

Railroad Wars

Story type: Essay

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Everybody nowadays has some notion of the way the railroad business of America is carried on. They know that there are too many roads for the traffic, and that, to prevent a general ruin, the managers combine, pay the profits into the hands of a receiver, and receive again from him a certain agreed proportion […]

It may seem strange to people who are entirely unacquainted with the methods of shipmasters and officers generally in the American mercantile marine that a sailor should have such a deadly objection to sail in one of their vessels; but those who know the hideous brutalities which continually occur on such ships will quite understand […]

Owing to my having read very little Alpine literature, I have seen but few attempts to analyse the mental experiences of the novice who, for the first time, ascends any of the higher peaks. And having read nothing upon the subject I was naturally curious, while I was at Zermatt this last summer, as to […]

All Zurich turned out to see the procession that was a mile long and overlapped, and went past double, going opposite ways, and the skies were blue as amethyst, and the lake was like the heavens, while underfoot the white dust lay thick until the growing, hurrying crowd sent it flying. All trades, with banners […]

At Las Palmas

Story type: Essay

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On a map the Canary Islands look like seven irregular fish scales, and of these Grand Canary is a cycloid scale. For it is round and has deep folds or barrancas in it, running from its highest point in the middle. Like all the other islands it is a volcanic ash pile, or fire and […]

Nowadays the traveller gets into the train at Rome and goes south by express. He sees a little of the wide and waste Campagna, sees a few of the broken arches of the mighty aqueducts which brought water to the Imperial city so long ago, but he is not steeped in the soil; he misses […]

A Snow-Grind

Story type: Essay

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Perhaps it is not wholly an advantage that most Alpine literature has been done by experts in climbing, by men who have climbed till climbing is second nature and they see Nature through their snow-goggles as something to be circumvented. That this is the attitude of most mountaineers is tolerably obvious. And though much that […]

It was a warm day in the end of September 1898 when I put my foot in Pretoria. There was an air of lassitude about the town. President Steyn, of the Orange Free State, had been and gone, and the triumphal arch still cried “Wilkom” across Church Square. The two Boer States had ratified their […]

At that time I acknowledge that trout-fishing as a real art I knew nothing of; whipping English waters had been almost entirely denied me, and with the exception of a week on a river near Oswestry, and a day in Cornwall, I had never thrown a fly over a pool where a trout might reasonably […]

When I went to New York in the spring I meant going on farther whether I could or not. Australia and home again was in my mind, and in New York slang I swore there should be “blood on the face of the moon” if I did not get through inside of four months. Now […]

On Los Guilucos Ranch, Sonoma County, California, where I worked for six months in 1886, there was a very large orchard. I know how large it was on account of having to do much too much work with the apricots, plums and cherries; and day by day, as one fruit or the other ripened, I […]

In Corsica

Story type: Essay

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Once, no doubt, Corsica was a savage, untamed, untrimmed kind of country, and a man’s life was little safer than it is to-day in the neighbouring island of Sardinia. There were brigands and bandits and families engaged in the private warfare of the vendetta, so that things were as lively and exciting as they get […]

Among the problems which remain perpetually interesting are those which deal with the influence of environment on races, and that of races on environment. What happens when the people are plastic and their circumstances rigid? What when the people are rigid and unyielding, and their surroundings fluent and unabiding? And does character depend on what […]

Near Mafeking

Story type: Essay

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To a man who has lived and travelled in the United States of America and the not yet United States of Australia, there is one characteristic of South Africa which is particularly noticeable. It is its oneness as a country. And this oneness is all the more remarkable when we take into consideration its racial […]

The first experience I had in regard to gold mining was in Ballarat, when a well-known miner and business man in that pretty town took me round the old alluvial diggings and pointed out the most celebrated claims. These (in 1879) were, of course, deserted or left to an occasional Chinese “fossicker,” who rewashed the […]

The whole of this vast country–this sea of mountains, as it has very appropriately been called–used practically to belong to the Hudson’s Bay Trading Company, and they made more than enough money out of it and its inhabitants. The Indians, though never quite to be trusted, were, and are, not so warlike as their neighbours […]

It was late in May or early in June, for I cannot now remember the exact date, that I landed in Apia, in the island of Upolu. Naturally enough that island was not to me so much the centre of Anglo-American and German rivalries as the home of Robert Louis Stevenson, then become the literary […]

I went across the Parade, which every morning is full of cheap-jack auctioneers selling all things under the sun to Kaffirs, Malays, coolies, towards Rondebosch and Wynberg. At the Castle the electric tram passed me, and I jumped on board and went, at the least, as fast as an English slow train. The wind was […]

It is not everyone who can make friends with a bull, and it is not every bull that one can make friends with. Yet next to one or two horses, about which I could spin long yarns, El Toro, the big brindled bull of Los Guilucos Ranch, Sonoma County, California, is certainly nearest my heart. […]

Since taking to writing as a profession I have lost most of the interest I had in literature as literature pure and simple. That interest gradually faded and “Art for Art’s sake,” in the sense the simple in studios are wont to dilate upon, touches me no more, or very, very rarely. The books I […]

How much bitter experience a man keeps to himself, let the experienced say, for they only know. For my own part I am conscious that it rarely occurs to me to mention some things which happened either in England or out of it, and that if I do, it is only to pass them over […]

The Portuguese are wholly inoffensive, except when their pride is touched. In politics, or when they hunger after African territory we fancy needed for our own people, they may not seem so. When a rebuff excites them against the English, Lisbon may not be pleasant for Englishmen. But in such cases would London commend itself […]

When I first went out to the Australian colonies in 1876 in the Hydrabad, a big sailing ship registered as belonging to Bombay, I had a very curious time of it, take it altogether. It was my first real experience of the outside world, and the hundred and two days the Hydrabad took from Liverpool […]

The travel-micrococcus infected me early. Before I can remember I travelled in England, and, when my memory begins, a stay of two years in any town made me weary. My brothers and sisters and I would then inquire what time the authorities meant to send my father elsewhere, and we were accustomed to denounce any […]