Our Country’s Good

by

Timberlake Wertenbaker

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A low-ranking officer in the Royal Navy. Harry has worked for Governor Phillip for a long time, though he himself isn’t involved in much of the penal colony’s decision-making. Instead, he focuses primarily on his relationship with a convict named Duckie, of whom he’s quite possessive. Because Duckie has had other lovers, Harry is extremely jealous. This is exacerbated by the fact that he played a part in her late lover’s execution, helping hang a marine named Handy Baker who was caught stealing from the colony’s food rations. Ever since this happened, Duckling has been quiet and cold to Harry, though she lives in his tent. Harry complains about this one night to Ralph, lamenting that having sex with Duckling is like “fucking a corpse.” At the same time, he’s clearly quite guilty about the role he played in Handy Baker’s execution. He’s even haunted by Handy’s ghost, which visits him more and more throughout the play. In an attempt to get Duckling to forgive him, Harry encourages her to join Ralph’s play, since she doesn’t like that he doesn’t let her do anything with other people. As the play nears its premiere, though, Harry is increasingly tormented by the ghosts of Handy and the other men he helped hang. While lying on his deathbed, Duckling confesses her love to him, pleading with him to stay alive, but this does nothing to keep him from dying.

Midshipman Harry Brewer Quotes in Our Country’s Good

The Our Country’s Good quotes below are all either spoken by Midshipman Harry Brewer or refer to Midshipman Harry Brewer. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
).
Act One, Scene Four Quotes

Duckling’s gone silent on me again. I know it’s because of Handy Baker. I saw him as well as I see you. Duckling wants me, he said, even if you’ve hanged me. At least your poker’s danced its last shindy, I said. At least it’s young and straight, he said, she likes that. I went for him but he was gone. But he’s going to come back, I know it. I didn’t want to hang him, Ralph, I didn’t.

Page Number: 14
Explanation and Analysis:

Do you know I saved her life? She was sentenced to be hanged at Newgate for stealing two candlesticks but I got her name put on the transport lists. But when I remind her of that she says she wouldn’t have cared.

Related Symbols: Public Hangings
Page Number: 15
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Seven Quotes

HARRY. […] I’m sorry, Duckling, please. Why can’t you? —can’t you just be with me? Don’t be angry. I’ll do anything for you, you know that. What do you want, Duckling?

DUCKLING. I don’t want to be watched all the time. I wake up in the middle of the night and you’re watching me. What do you think I’m going to do in my sleep, Harry? Watching, watching, watching. JUST STOP WATCHING ME.

HARRY. You want to leave me. All right, go and live in the women’s camp, sell yourself to a convict for a biscuit. Leave if you want to. You’re filthy, filthy, opening your legs to the first marine —

DUCKLING. Why are you so angry with your Duckling, Harry? Don’t you like it when I open my legs wide to you?

Related Characters: Midshipman Harry Brewer (speaker), Duckling Smith (speaker), Handy Baker
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

DUCKLING. I need freedom sometimes, Harry.

HARRY. You have to earn your freedom with good behaviour.

DUCKLING. Why didn’t you let them hang me and take my corpse with you, Harry? You could have kept that in chains. I wish I was dead. At least when you’re dead, you’re free.

Related Characters: Midshipman Harry Brewer (speaker), Duckling Smith (speaker)
Page Number: 37
Explanation and Analysis:
Act One, Scene Nine Quotes

When I say my prayers I have a terrible doubt. How can I be sure God is forgiving me? What if he will forgive me, but hasn’t forgiven me yet? That’s why I don’t want to die, Sir. That’s why I can’t die. Not until I am sure. Are you sure?

Related Symbols: Public Hangings
Page Number: 47
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene One Quotes

MARY. Liz, we’ve come to rehearse the play.

WISEHAMMER. Rehearse the play?

DUCKLING. The Lieutenant has gone to talk to the Governor. Harry said we could come see you.

MARY. The Lieutenant has asked me to stand in his place so we don’t lose time. We’ll start with the first scene between Melinda and Brazen.

WISEHAMMER. How can I play Captain Brazen in chains?

MARY. This is the theatre. We will believe you.

Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Act Two, Scene Eight Quotes

If you live, I will never again punish you with my silence. If you live, I will never again turn away from you. If you live, I will never again imagine another man when you make love to me. If you live, I will never tell you I want to leave you. If you live, I will speak to you. If you live, I will be tender with you. If you live, I will look after you. If you live, I will stay with you. If you live, I will be wet and open to your touch. If you live, I will answer all your questions. If you live, I will look at you. If you live, I will love you.

Related Characters: Duckling Smith (speaker), Midshipman Harry Brewer
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
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Midshipman Harry Brewer Character Timeline in Our Country’s Good

The timeline below shows where the character Midshipman Harry Brewer appears in Our Country’s Good. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act One, Scene Three
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
...Sydney Cove, Governor Arthur Phillip speaks with Judge David Collins, Captain Watkin Tench, and Midshipman Harry Brewer about the nature of punishment. As he wonders aloud why the British government thought... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
...way that can’t be made into an “example” because it isn’t public. When Phillip asks Harry what he thinks, the midshipman tells him that the criminals “laugh at the hangings,” since... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Turning his attention to the upcoming hanging, Phillip asks Harry to tell him the names of the convicts sentenced to death. First, Harry tells him,... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...says. In response, Phillip says he’d rather the convicts watch actual theater. Nonetheless, he tells Harry to prepare the hanging, adding that he’ll need to find someone to be the hangman.... (full context)
Act One, Scene Four
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...frustration regarding the fact that he hasn’t been promoted to First Lieutenant. As he writes, Harry Brewer enters and starts talking to him, clearly wanting to soothe his loneliness. At one... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Changing the subject, Harry says that he saw Handy Baker the night before. “You hanged him a month ago,... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Still talking about Duckling, Harry tells Ralph that she claims to not “feel anything” when she’s with him. He then... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ralph complains that Phillip never notices him, and Harry tells him the Governor wants to stage a play with the convicts as actors. Ralph... (full context)
Act One, Scene Seven
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
While rowing in the cove with Duckling, Harry tries to get her to talk by mentioning how much Sydney is beginning to turn... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Harry accuses Duckling of having another lover, like she did when she was involved with Handy... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Harry is taken aback by Duckling’s comment about wishing she were dead. To cheer her up,... (full context)
Act One, Scene Eleven
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
...protests the fact that her character is Liz’s maid, saying that because she lives with Harry she deserves a better part. Hearing this, Dabby scoffs at her relationship with Harry, and... (full context)
Act Two, Scene One
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
...to continue the rehearsal. “The Lieutenant has gone to talk to the Governor,” Duckling says. “Harry said we could come see you.” When Wisehammer asks how they’ll be able to act... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Three
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Inside his tent at night, Harry drinks large quantities of rum and has a conversation with Handy Baker’s ghost, speaking out... (full context)
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
As he talks to the ghost of Thomas Barrett, Harry periodically calls out for Duckling, who eventually comes rushing to him. She tells him that... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Six
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Later, Harry summons Ketch to take Liz’s measurements in preparation for her hanging the next day. Apologetically,... (full context)
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...he can make sure that she feels as little pain as possible. As he and Harry are about to leave, Liz finally speaks, asking Harry to tell Ralph that she didn’t... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Eight
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Harry is gravely ill in his tent. It is night, and Duckling is by his side,... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Ten
Punishment and Rehabilitation Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
Ralph says that Liz did tell Harry Brewer she was innocent, but Harry is dead and was never able to relay her... (full context)
Act Two, Scene Eleven
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Governance and Justice Theme Icon
...many people have come to see the play. Noticing Duckling—who is mourning the loss of Harry—Liz tells her that Dabby could fill in for her, but Duckling insists upon doing it... (full context)
Theater, Liberation, and Unity Theme Icon
Love, Sex, and Power Theme Icon
Guilt, Regret, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...and tells her she doesn’t need to act in the play, but Duckling insists, saying, “[Harry] liked to hear me say my lines.” Walking over to Mary, Ralph compliments her beauty,... (full context)