Steelman and Smith

Henry Lawson      Steelman's Pupil

"A character in several stories reputedly modelled on a '"commercial traveller" out of Wellington' whom Lawson met during his first visit to NZ in 1893-94; Smith, Steelman's dim-witted and naive offsider, was Lawson's conception of 'the weaker side of myself'. A travelling confidence man who survives on the sharpness of his wits, Steelman is usually triumphant, although his success is only partial in the best-known Steelman story, 'The Geological Spieler'          

  "The landlord of the next pub. is not a bad sort. I won't go in--he might remember me. You'd best go in. You've been tramping round in the Wairarapa district for the last six months, looking for work. You're going back to Wellington now, to try and get on the new corporation works just being started there--the sewage works. You think you've got a show. You've got some mates in Wellington, and they're looking out for a chance for you. You did get a job last week on a sawmill at Silverstream, and the boss sacked you after three days and wouldn't pay you a penny. That's just his way. I know him--at least a mate of mine does. I've heard of him often enough. His name's Cowman. Don't forget the name, whatever you do. The landlord here hates him like poison; he'll sympathize with you." An Oversight of Steelman's


"Steelman and Smith, professional wanderers from New Zealand, took a run over to Australia one year to have a look at the country, and drifted out back, and played cards and "headin' 'em" at the shearing-sheds (while pretending to be strangers to each other), and sold eye-water and unpatented medicine, and worked the tucker tracks. They struck a streak of bad luck at West-o'-Sunday Station, where they were advised (by the boss and about fifty excited shearers) to go east, and not to stop till they reached the coast. On The Tucker Track


"Many of Henry Lawson's short stories explore similar themes:

  • Roles of women,   Roles of men  Roles of children    Loneliness / Isolation Hardship     Importance of Humour   The Emotional Impact of Bush Life     and Mateship"                                                                                                                        -

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