‘Hungry’ Tyson yarns
“HUNGRY” TYSON YARNS
AUSTRALIAN PASTORALISTS’ REVIEW. JULY 16,1891
The name of Mr. James Tyson (or, as he is familiarly called – “Old Jimmy”), the Queensland millionaire, is so well known throughout this and the other colonies, says the Narrandera Ensign and as he is at present making a most determined stand against the Queensland Union shearers, perhaps the following few anecdote about the old gentleman may be of some interest. That “Jimmy” is a very eccentric fellow no one who has ever come in contact with him will deny, and he ha a made several attempts to perform big public business; attempts which would have brought a less reserved man into prominent notoriety.
The first of these was to offer to construct a line of railway from Rockhampton to the Gulf of Carpentaria, the farthest coastal point in Queensland. The recompense “James” required from the Government was three miles depth of frontage along the whole route; but the representatives of the people in Bananaland thought the offer was a bit one-sided, and declined to negotiate.
We next find Mr. Tyson in New South Wales, at the recent financial crisis, offering to take up £4,000,000 worth of Government Treasury bills at a moderate rate of interest. As the public well know, this offer was also declined.
A few years back, when the large cathedral that adorns Brisbane was in course of construction, the collector for the building fund called upon a well-known mercantile firm for a subscription, but he was politely told that he should go to the rich people of Queensland, who may be in a better position to “help the work along.”
“To whom shall I go ?” queried the collector.
“Well, go to Jimmy Tyson,” was the answer, “he has more than any of us.” (I might men- tion that up to that time “Jimmy’s” name was never seen on any list for more than £1).
“Well,” said the collector, “as Tyson is a rich man I will go to him for a donation.”
“Do,” said the head of the firm, “and whatever he gives you we will guarantee you the same amount.”
The collector, a few days after, meeting Mr Tyson, related to him what had taken place, and concluded by saying ” So, Mr. Tyson, I do not know what amount the firm is going to give until I have your name on my list.”
“Well,” said Tyson, in a gruff voice, “give me yer pen and ink and I’ll give yees a bob or two.”
“Jimmy” went into a private room and wrote out a cheque for £5000, and gave it to the astonished collector who in turn presented it to the more astonished merchant, who, however, could not ” ante up” more than a century.
On another occasion the subject of this sketch sent a lady a cheque for £300 towards a ” parsonage fund.” The lady, in a jocular manner, sent the cheque back, and asked Mr. Tyson if he bad not forgotten the other, “0” at the end of the figures. It is needless to say Mr, Tyson felt aggrieved, and immediately burnt the cheque,- and did not subscribe one shilling.
Meeting a friend on one occasion on the platform at the Orange railway station, the friend expressed surprise at seeing Mr. Tyson riding in a second-class carriage.
“Do yon know why I do ride in a second-class compartment?” said Mr. Tyson.
“No, I do not know why,” said the acquaintance.
“Well,” said “Jimmy,” “it is because there is no third-class,” and with a broad smile he resumed his seat, and the friend looked crestfallen, and went and drowned his contempt for the ” old fellow” in a bottle of Bass’ ale.
The writer of these lines was at one time engaged by Mr. Tyson for three days to do some clerical work, and when the work was completed, he (Mr. Tyson) reviewed the job, and asked me how much he had to pay me.
“Half-a-guinea a day,” was the reply.
“I wish to goodness I could use the pen as well as you do,” said Mr. Tyson; “if I could I would be a rich man in a few years.” (He had banked the day before a total of £170,000.)
“You are now a very rich man, Mr. Tyson, are you not ?” queried I.
“No, I am not,” said “Jimmy. “No man is rich until he has as much as he wants, and I have not near that yet. However, as you have done your work to my satisfaction, kindly accept my cheque for £35.”
It is not necessary for me to state here that I accepted.
Many people are under the impression that Mr. Tyson is a man devoid of all sense of liberality, but they are, in my opinion, sadly mistaken, for although he has been known to refuse a swagman a match lest he was paid for it, he has, on the other hand, been known to help widows and orphans to the tune of thousands, and when he leaves the scene of his earthly struggles, and his life is recorded, I am sure that his liberality and generosity will overbalance the charge laid against him by a certain section of the community, viz.ó parsimony.