Henry Cullen Gouldsbury (1881 – 1916) was a British military officer, author and poet who was born in Darjeeling, India. After serving in the 5th Royal Irish Militia he joined the British South Africa Company in 1902. He was appointed as a Native Commissioner in northern Rhodesia. During World War I he failed to get employment with the Rhodesian forces, so he returned to England and was commissioned as a lieutenant with the 9th Royal Berkshires, befiore being seconded to the 2nd King's African Rifles in British East Africa.
After serving on the front line, he was appointed, with the temporary rank of Captain, as Liaison Officer with the Belgian forces which were co-operating with the British in Uganda. After four months he received the appointment of Assistant Military Landing Officer in Tanga, but died the day after his arrival at the early age of 35 years.
Hubert West Sheane (1879 - 1915) was a fellow administrator who served with Cullen Gouldsbury (two years his senior) in the British South Africa Company. He co-wrote 'The Great Plateau Of Northern Rhodesia' with Cullen Gouldsbury, contributing more of the ethnographic observations. He also wrote a grammar book of the Bemba language. He also died at an early age of malaria at Fort Rosebury in northern Rhodesia.
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The Great Plateau Of Northern Rhodesia: Being Some Impressions Of The Tanganyika Plateau by Cullen Gouldsbury & Hubert Sheane (1911) with an introduction by Sir Alfred Sharpe. This book has become an important ethnographic record with its detailed accounts of the lives, supersitions and rituals of local people, notably the Bemba (Awemba). It includes much on hunting rifles, and on native methods of hunting elephant. Free eBook
An African Year by Cullen Gouldsbury (1912) is a book about his domestic life on the Rhodesian north-eastern plateau where he served as an officer in the British South African Company. It includes some hunting by him and his wife Beryl. (Only reprints) Free eBook
Rhodesian Rhymes (1909)
More Rhodesian Rhymes (1913)
TO AN OLD RIFLE by Cullen Gouldsbury
You're worn in the barrel, you're gone in the stock,
Your sights are deceptive and battered askew,
You're foul in the breech and you're crank in the lock,
Yet I love you far more than I loved you when new!
I've done a fair quotum of stalking and shooting, Old Rifle, with you.
You didn't cost much! - you were bought second-hand
(For times were too hard, and my purse was too thin!)
I saw you one day in a shop in the Strand,
Loved you, and longed for you - aye, and went in!
The shop-fellow fingered you lovingly said that your price was a sin.
Whose were you before? shall I hazard a view?
Were you loot of a lord, or a wandering earl?
Just kit of a "champagne-safari" or two?
Or sold by a man who had married his girl,
Forsaking the elephant-track lest it put her dear hair out of curl?
The point's unimportant - we'll waive it and pass.
You're mine for the present, and mine you'll remain!
Ten years we have wandered through African grass,
Ten years we've been shooting in bushland and plain,
It's told on us both, more or less - but I'm blest if I'll sell you again!
Remember the lion I grazed in the head
Who charged us that night in the bed of the stream?
He shewed us, in sooth (since we thought he was dead),
That things are but rarely the same as they seem,
And he was a gem, I remember; uncommonly broad in the beam.
That elephant cow, with the fat little calf
Who curtsied and bobbed when we tried to get by,
Till I shot her at last. And the idiot giraffe
Who gibbered away with his head in the sky
That morning we followed the rhino, and seemed so determined to die.
Yes! Eland and hartebeeste, sable and roan,
Puku and reedbuck you've shot by the score -
Elephant-paths we have followed alone,
Safety-catch over and eyes on the spoor.
Days, that are finished and done with, Old Rifle!
It's never no more!
Ah well! Those are days that are vanished and dead!
And gone are the dawn and the dusk on the plain,
It's Tooting, or Balham, or Clapham instead
These are our lot for the years that remain...
But while there's a pull-through to clean you, I'm damned if I'll sell you again.
Page Updated: Aug 2020